The Human Biography, Who Am I?

August 26, 2019

The human journey has been a deep interest of mine for many decades. Therefore, it is not surprising that the first course will be on biography. The text is Tapestries, Weaving Life’s Journey, Updated and Enlarged Edition. It is available through SteinerBooks, Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore, but Amazon is not carrying the latest edition.  The updated edition is far better than the earlier one that often shows up, and the pages will be different.

“An image of the complexity of human life is that of tapestry weaving. In each of our lives the warp is formed of those strands which are given: when we bring with us and what we are born into. As we examine the warp, we can see that some threads are tight, others are loose; some are smooth, others may be rough. The warp bears the imprint of the one who threaded it on the loom. This underlying foundation is the basis upon which we can build an imagination of what our weaving will be like. Then we take the shuttle in our hands – each to weave the tapestry of our lives. How we fashion it depends on how we respond to and interact with what we experience and encounter, how we shape it through our free will. Each of our lives is different; no two tapestries is the same.” P. xx-xxi.

Each lesson has commentary on the stage of life beginning with childhood and a list of questions. I have now entered ten lessons and others are coming. The questions are for you to think about and respond in whatever way you choose – keep notes, make sketches, conversation, meditation, or not. It is also a great benefit it to share with another person. I am not asking you to send in anything. There is no evaluation. These courses are for your own enjoyment and reflection. I hope you will join me on this journey. During this time of the pandemic when life is so crazy and unclear, working with your biography is a way of centering yourself and beginning a path through the stages of life. Depending on what you do with this experience, you will not be the same person afterwards. No one outside yourself may recognize the differences, but you will.

Best wishes,


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Course Materials

Lesson One

This course offers readers the opportunity to study the rhythm of the seven-year-periods in their own lives. I will be referring to the biography chart on P. 82 in Tapestries, Weaving Life’s Journey, Updated and Enlarged Edition. This is not included in the early edition.

The seven-year-periods or phases form the basic rhythm of human life. Significant biological changes occur in the course of each approximate seven-year- period. In addition, every seven years leads to the birth of new elements in the unfolding of the unfolding individuality. Each seven-year- phase gradually develops into the next.

During our lives we experience moments of rest, moments of dynamic activity, and moments of chaos. It is quite common for a crisis to develop at the end of a seven-year-phase. When the crisis has passed, something new can come to expression. We can observe a similar parallel process in the plant world: in the stem of a plant we see contractions into the node and expansion into leaf, then the contraction into the calyx (bud) and expansion into flower. If we regularly contemplate this image, it can help us come to an understanding of phases in human life.

Birth to 7 years: the birth of the physical body
From birth each child is like one great sense organ, taking in sense impressions of all kinds from the outside world. Children turn these sense impressions into their own activity through imitation. By imitating those around them, they learn to stand upright and walk. They learn to understand and speak their mother tongue. The child takes the impressions into their physical body; if the sounds are quiet and soft, the child can breathe more rhythmically and relax, but if the noises are startling, or the lights are flickering, the child’s immature nervous system has a difficult time processing them. The child becomes exhausted, tense, and afraid.

Around the third year (between two and three), children experience their own sense of Self and start referring to themselves as “I.” Self-awareness now awakens in a rudimentary way and memory begins to develop. Although children of this age have moments of awake consciousness, they are in general rather “asleep.” At this stage, children enter into the world mainly through their will and movement. They are always doing something. Such movement forms the inner foundation for what they will feel in the next stage. Hidden forces are at work shaping the organs and completing the physical body. The culmination of this activity is expressed in the falling out of the milk teeth. At this time new creative powers are released for the next phase.

Questions for Birth – 7: Self-study or Shared-study.

  1. Who was living at your home during the time you were three and six – years old?
  2. Where did you feel most safe, most unsafe?
  3. Can you think of a time when you experienced independence from your family or group?
  4. Were there places you loved to explore?
  5. Were there health issues or incidents of being unwell? How did they affect you?
  6. Did you experience bias (prejudice) in your home during your childhood? In what way?
  7. What image do you carry of your mother and or father during this time?
  8. What kinds of activities did you like to do at this time?
  9. What memories of this time give you a feeling of pleasure?
  10. What is your strongest memory of kindergarten?
Lesson Two: Who Am I?

Reading: Tapestries, pp. 15-34. “The alchemy of relationships”

Reflecting on our parents

“From the moment we are born we are never really alone. In the complex of relationships that weave through our lives, our parents form the strongest bond we have to the earth. Through them we have the gift of life, gender, physical characteristics, pre-disposition to illnesses, family, community, and nationality. We also have many personality and temperament characteristics such as strength of intellect, talents, and artistic gifts. “

  1. What physical characteristics do you have of your parents? This can be specific physical attributes such as the shape of your face, your nose, your hair, the way you stand, walk, use your hands. How are you different from these attributes? How has that changed over your adult years? What feelings arise as you consider these similarities or differences?
  2. How did your parents relate to the rest of your extended family? Did you feel a closeness or separateness from those members? Whom were you closest to or whom did you most admire in your extended family?
  3. How were your parents related to the community in which they lived? How did they include you in the community? How does this live in your life today?
  4. How did your parents relate to your nationality? Did they communicate a sense of belonging, pride, disinterest, shame?

“Through their capacities and attitudes our parents strongly influence our patterns of thought, our interests, attitudes, passions, physical talents, and ambitions. Our parents provide us with the blueprint of life, a primary which includes their relationship to the world of nature and to society, they home atmosphere they create for us and the way they relate to each of their children and to each other. . . . Our parents provide us with the prime example of what a relationship is. For the rest of our lives we measure our own experiences against the relationships we observed in our parents’ home – for better, or worse.”

  1. Which of your parents’ interests were strongly expressed in your home? How has that influenced you?
  2. What were your parents’ capacities that you share? Which do you not share?
  3. What attitudes did your parents express in your home, such as prejudices, expectations of your choices of profession, toward others? Did they pressure you in any way? How did you respond to their expectations?
  4. How did your parents’ relationship to each other influence your relationships?
  5. How did your parents’ relationship to each of their children affect you?
  6. How did your parents relate to nature? Did they communicate a special relationship to it? Was it an attitude only or was it expressed in actual experiences in nature? How has that influenced you?

“If they succeed in their task, they provide a cocoon within which we find love and shelter, acceptance and limitations, a sense of wholeness and purpose. When we leave home, they send us on our way with the map that charts our unique journey through life. . . .  All those years of nurturing, of sacrifice, or protecting and guiding, of embodying that element of love which expresses the highest of human endeavors. But then we must leave them and, as the fairy tales say, go out into the world and seek our fortune.”

11. What feelings of gratitude do you have to your parents?

12. If you have step-parents, how do they relate to all these questions?

Some people consider our relationship to our parents as strictly genetic. Rudolf Steiner adds an interesting dimension when he states that we choose our parents as part of our karma.

13. If this is true, how does that change our thinking and feeling about our parents?




Lesson Three: Brothers and Sisters.


Before starting this lesson, it would be good to build your biography chart. Turn to p. 82. The picture of the life chart is below.

There are many different ways to chart your life so that you can reflect on the phases. The one I have found most useful is derived from Lee Sturgeon Day’s chart in her workbook Biography and Life Cycles (privately published), which I then use a little differently.

The life chart gives us a visual way to examine our life through time, particularly through grouping events in seven-year-phases. The left side of the U is for the twenty-one years of physical development, the first right side of the U is focused on soul development, and the remaining parallel bands on the right side are there to look at spiritual development.

Life Chart

It is helpful to use as large a sheet of paper as possible or sheets taped together so that you have room for your entries.


As we begin to go through the phases, you will be filling in people, events, illnesses, or insights that came at a particular time. It is best to use a pencil as you will be rearranging the space as more ideas come to mind.

Now let’s turn to the theme of Lesson #3- Brothers and Sisters. Reading: Tapestries, pp.24-34.

From Tapestries , p. 24

Our brothers and sisters are a central part of our identity as is being the son or daughter of a particular set of parents. Our siblings are the representatives of the larger world of society. What we learn with them teaches us social skills, how to defend ourselves, how to share, how to find a space for ourselves. Through our older siblings we gain a sense of what’s ahead of us, and from our younger ones we see what we have already passed through. We are constantly redefining ourselves within this sibling network. Our universe is widely expanded through their interests, their friends, and their path in life. . . .  Each child has a different task in life.


Where are you in the birth order of your siblings? Only child? Second child? Youngest child? Middle Child?

Are there step-siblings or half-siblings as part of your family make-up?

  • Only child. How did your relationship to your parents change as you grew older? What did your parents do to connect you with other children? Did you play alone in your bedroom, or did you tend to play where there were others around, such as in the living room or kitchen? Did you enjoy the time by yourself? Were you more comfortable with adults or peers? Did this change as you grew into adulthood? How do you experience the effect of being an only child now that you are an adult? What are you most grateful about being an only child? What advice would you give to parents of one child?
  • Eldest child. How old were you when you changed from being an only child to being an eldest child? What gender was your sibling? How did it affect you at first, over the following years? Did you model yourself on your parents’ style of parenting, or did you choose a different style. Why? Were you critical of your parents in their parenting? How is your parenting style now that you are an adult parent? Did you feel responsible for your younger sibling(s)? How do feel about that now as an adult? In what ways did you benefit from being an eldest child, what ways not? Were there times when you wanted to rebel and not have to be responsible for your sibling? Did you rebel? Was there any conflict between your wanting to be responsible and your wanting to do your own thing? What are you most grateful about being an eldest child? If you had more than one sibling, how did each one’s arrival affect you? Who are you closest to now, and why? Has this changed over time? How?


  • Second child. How did you relate to your older sibling? Did you feel responsible toward your older sibling, or did you go your own way? Did your older sibling’s behavior affect your own behavior? Did you compete? Did you follow? Did your older sibling give you a sense of protection, ignore you, support you? Did you share interests with your older sibling or choose to have separate interests? Were your parents’ expectations of you influenced by how they related to your older sibling? What did you love about being the second child? What was most challenging? How was your relationship shaped by whether you and your older sibling was the same gender or different gender? How is your relationship now?


  • Middle child. How did your life change when your younger sibling was born? What was the age difference? How did your relationship change as you became older? Were you closer to your older sibling or your younger one? How would you describe your relationship now to each one? How did your relationship with your parents change as you became the middle child? How do you experience that now as an adult? What advice would you give to a parent about supporting the middle child?


  • Third child. How many years difference is there between you and each of your siblings? What genders are each of you? How has that affected you? Do you have a stronger relationship with a particular sibling? Why? What situations come to mind when you found it frustrating to be a third child? What situations come to mind when you enjoyed being the third child? What did you learn from your older siblings? Did you find yourself separate from your family because you had two older siblings ahead of you? Were their recollections of family memories, but you hadn’t been born yet? How did you feel about that? Were you treated as the baby of the family? Were you given more or less responsibility than your siblings? Were there times when you joined one of your siblings against the other one? As an adult, how do you relate to your older siblings? What are you most grateful about? What do you wish you could do to improve relationships with an older sibling? What advice would you give parents of three children?


Reflecting on your relationship with your siblings in your adult years: What warms your heart when you think of your siblings? Is there anything you would like to change? Describe one of your happiest times with your siblings? Are there aspects of your relationship with your siblings that you regret and want to change?  How are you and your siblings relating to your parents as they age? How would you describe the relationship of yourself and your siblings with your grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins? If you needed to live with one of your siblings, whom would you choose, and why?

How do you think your personality was shaped because of your siblings?


Lesson Four: Ages 7-14: Childhood and School.

Reading Tapestries, pp. 62-63


Consciousness awakens further, moving from a state of sleep to a dream-like condition. Inner soul-life intensifies. In the earlier period, creative formative powers were shaping the physical body, but now these become available to the soul as powers of imagination and thought, as image-forming activity. Children’s thinking at this age is influenced by strong feelings and personal experiences and expressed through imagination.

In the ninth year, children experience a change in which they feel a greater separation from their parents and from everything around them which had previously been imbued with magic and wholeness. Now they begin to experience the world more objectively. Life becomes ordinary.

Around the twelfth-year children’s thinking capacities develop from picture thinking to cause and effect thinking. They are now able to understand why and how things happen.



  1. Who were the main influences in your life at this time?
  2. What experiences stand out in your memory?
  3. With whom did you feel most safe during this time? Why?
  4. With whom did you feel least safe during this time? Why?
  5. What was the attitude in your home? Were there prejudices? How have you dealt with those?
  6. Who were your role models?
  7. What did you like to play? With whom?
  8. Did your grandparents have a role in your life? How would you describe it?
  9. What illnesses, traumas, or losses did you experience?
  10. What are your most happy memories during this time?
  11. Did you have a stable childhood? Did you move around a lot?
  12. Did you have outdoor experiences? Times in nature?
  13. Who were your friends?
  14. How did you experience puberty? The beginning of adolescence?
  15. Were you part of a group in Middle School? Who was in it?
  16. What were your thoughts about yourself as you came into puberty?
  17. Can you recall an incident in which you felt ashamed of yourself? What did you do to resolve it?
  18. Did you have religious education during this time?
  19. What rites of passage did you experience?
  20. What did you love to do when you were by yourself?


Lesson Five: Ages 14-21: Adolescence.

Reading: Tapestries, pp. 63


“The physical body goes through great hormonal change as the adult physical body takes shape. Feeling life becomes chaotic, expressing itself in powerful highs and lows and erratic swings from one to the other. The creative powers which worked on the physical body from birth to  7, and on the feelings from 7-14, are now working on the thinking. In the newness of this budding capacity, the spotlight of thinking directs its beam upon everything around them; at first they become critical of everything around them, questioning and perhaps rejecting aspects of the world that disappoint them…. Thinking gradually becomes more inward, no longer needed to be stimulated by strong soul experiences. It becomes conceptual and abstract. Their glimpse of the higher self around the seventeenth year gives adolescents a sense that there is purpose and meaning in life as well as disappointment. They begin to accept the contradictions of life, and with the spontaneous idealism of youth, put their energies to work for a better world.”


From p, 59

“ 1st lunar  node is at 18 years, 7 months. This is a waking up to what we want to do in life, why we are here. It often expresses itself in the idealism of late adolescence and the protest against what is disappointing. Many young people have such a momentary experience when they sense they are more than they seem to be. It may be directed toward a particular profession or an interest they want to pursue. This experience which happens quite unconsciously, sometimes in a dream, fires our will to want to give something to the world. It then tends to fade in the busy-ness of life.”


Key Issues: identity formation, awakening of sexuality, questioning where you belong, awakening of independent judgment, changes in thinking capacity, sensing something higher in you.



  1. When did you come into puberty? What was the situation? How did you feel? What was your source of information? How were your parents involved? Friends? Others?
  2. What people in your life inspired you? Who were they? How did they inspire you?
  3. How did your sense of yourself change before and after seventeen?
  4. What group were you part of in 9th or 10th grade, and in 11th or 12th grade? Between 18-21? Did it change? Why? What did that group offer you? Advantages or disadvantages of being part of that group?
  5. Were there situations during this period where you had to stand up for yourself even if it meant being disapproved of by others or created inner conflict?
  6. Who were your friends before and after 17? What was the strength of the friendship?
  7. How did you relate to your sexuality before and after 17?
  8. How and in what ways were you influenced by media or advertising in relation to your identity in general or in your sexuality?
  9. Were there experiences during this time when you glimpsed you were more than what you were at the moment? A sense of your “I”?
  10. Were there any experiences in your nineteenth year in which you identified a passionate interest?
  11. Who were your role models during this period? What was their influence?
  12. What were your crushes and/or love relationships?
  13. What kinds of trouble did you get into (if any) with parents, others, or the law?
  14. What was your experience with alcohol and/or drugs? How did it influence you?
  15. Were there situations in which you found yourself struggling with your values, contradictions of others or within yourself?
  16. How did your idealism develop?
  17. What were your deep interests during high school? Did that change afterwards?
  18. What high school teachers inspired you? How?
  19. What did you do after high school? College? Work? Military service? Travel?
  20. How did the next step develop your interests, your strengths, your challenges?
  21. Who inspired you in college, work, etc.?
  22. What did you long to do after turning 21? Were you able to follow up on it? What were the results?
  23. Did you like yourself at 17, 19, 21?



Lesson Six: The Twenties, Life is ahead of us

Dear Friends, I hope by now you have begun to reflect on your earlier years. Perhaps new insights are arising. It would be interesting to know if you are working with another person, or if you are working through your biography on your own. If you wish to send me any comments, please feel free to do so. I’d love hearing from you. I personally know about half of the group, and there are others whose names are not familiar. If you wish to let me know how you made the connection with the website, that would be interesting also.

Sending best wishes for the new year,



Reading: Tapestries, pp. 83-88.


In our twenties, we often live through impulses rather than thinking. We build up experiences and meet the world with enthusiasm. We swing this way and that way, wherever our senses pull us. We may follow our family’s expectations, but yearn to rebel. We may be in a long education path as we prepare for a career.

Or, we may do whatever we feel like, until it is time to settle down. It is a time to explore our individuality.

We explore our feelings, enjoy meeting different types of people, make new connections. Through it all, we may find what we really need. The challenge is to develop intimacy, deeper relationships, and walk the steps toward maturity.

This is a time of self-centeredness. Everything revolves around our feelings, our hopes, and our goals.


Questions to answer either with another person or explore in your journal. Include the key events, people, and deeds on your life chart.

  1. What were your hopes and dreams at 21?
  2. What were your plans when you were 25? What was your situation? What happened to those plans?
  3. Name one or two things you did on impulse.
  4. What kinds of people were you attracted to?
  5. What major decision did you make during this period? How did you make it? How do you look at it now?
  6. Are there things you did during this period that you regret? Why?
  7. What significant relationships did you have?
  8. Who were your mentors, if you had any? Others you looked up to?
  9. What were the disappointments?
  10. In what way were you becoming independent from your parents?
  11. What kinds of jobs did you have?
  12. Did your life-style values change during this time? How?
  13. What were some of the joys?
Lesson Seven: 28-35, Trying to Organize our Lives.

From Tapestries, p. 127


Besides physical changes, other changes occur at this time in relationship to the people around us. The bold confidence of our twenties starts giving way to more sensitive awareness of ourselves. We may no longer be satisfied by relying only on our feelings: we become more inward, perhaps more thoughtful. It is time to become realistic and practical, to take stock of what we are doing and organize our time and our life. Are our decisions making sense? Have we taken all the factors into consideration? Are we keeping adequate records? We begin to harness our energy and focus it on specific tasks. Our earlier idealism or our search for excitement calms down as we come to grips with everyday life.


The 28-35 phase has to do with thinking, just as the 21-28 phase had a strong feeling quality….  The force of the critical intellect is a double-edged sword: it is very helpful in organizing our lives, helping to be objective, and becoming the master of our thoughts, but it can also pierce and wound other people. We can become aloof and hypercritical and begin to see mainly their faults and imperfections, losing the larger picture of who they are.


  1. What kind of changes did you experience during this time?
  2. What kinds of activities gave you the most satisfaction? The least satisfaction?
  3. What were the significant relationships at this time? How were they different from earlier periods?
  4. Did your hopes and dreams change, if so, how?
  5. Did you notice physical changes? How? What did you do about them?
  6. Did you find yourself more critical of others or of yourself, or of others being critical toward you? How did you handle this?
  7. Were you more reflective about your decisions, or less reflective (more impulsive)?
  8. What joys did you experience?
  9. What issues were coming about in your closest relationships? Are there things you wish you had done differently?


Lesson Eight: 35-42, Plumbing the Depths

Tapestries – pp. 163- 193.

“  We move through our lives fixed ahead on our goals. We’ve got life figured out, but something’s not quite right. How can we explain a sinking, lonely, empty, and uncertain feeling that sweeps over us from time to time?  ….  These feelings of unease may come very gradually so that people learn to cope with them bit by bit (or at least think they do). Or a traumatic experience throws everything out of balance.

During this time, we meet the result of our actions in earlier phases of life. Up until now we have in some ways still been children, but at this stage we become fully responsible for what we do. The “I”, our unique individuality, has hopefully penetrated our soul life, and we stand solidly on the earth ….. From now on we sense that we are on our own and must act om our own and must act out of our free, independent will. No one can shield us anymore from the consequences of our deeds. These are the years in which we are most cut off from inspirations, in which the enthusiasms and ideals of our twenties seem far away. It is from this lowest point that we can begin to consciously rebuild our lives.”


This is the Consciousness Soul period, echoing Birth to 7. These years are also referred to as the Valley of the Shadows, and the 35th year is often described as the cosmic midnight of the soul.

Remember to chart key events and people on your chart.


  1. How do you meet situations differently during this time than before?
  2. What are the strongest elements of stability in your life?
  3. What makes you feel lonely at times, if applicable?
  4. Are there decisions which you have reevaluated?
  5. What do you want to change in your life?
  6. What decisions do you feel good about?
  7. What aspects of your life do you feel give you a picture of your destiny?
  8. Have any situations occurred in which you felt you stood on your own and had to make an important decision?
  9. Have you experienced physical changes, a loss of youth? Difficulty recuperating after an injury, more easily sore after exercise?
  10. Has turning forty brought about any changes?
  11. What kind of doubts have you had?
  12. Have you made or are you contemplating any career changes?
  13. In what areas of your life do you feel the most confidence, the least confidence?
  14. Have there been situations of danger?
  15. What opportunities have emerged?
  16. Is there a new part of yourself emerging that may have been there before?
  17. How have the changes during this time affected your relationships?
  18. Are you more critical of your partner, friends, yourself than earlier? How?
  19. What do you feel negative about in yourself?
  20. Is there any part of your life in which you feel cherished? What is it? How does that make you feel?
  21. Have you gained any new perspectives during this time? What are they? How have they affected you?
  22. As you reflect on your life up to 42, what people have entered your life and given you gifts?3
  23. What path do you want to enter? Is this different from the past?
  24. Have you spoken your own voice or do you speak what you think others want to hear?
  25. How are your thoughts changing during this time?


Lesson Nine: 42-49: Making a Mark on Life

In our forties, we enter a very dynamic stage of life. Many changes occur which call upon us to wake up and re-evaluate our lives. This time is often characterized by continuing crisis, opportunity, and change, and by a sense of rebirth.


We often take on new interests, change careers, and search for a way to satisfy an inner longing. Relationships are very important, and we seek out ones that help us explore new parts of ourselves. We tend to become more individualized rather that fulfilling someone else’s expectations of us.


We find ourselves having to meet the needs of our children and our parents, and sometimes wonder where we are.


42-49 – Wake up and re-evaluate!

  1. Is there something you really want to do that you have been ignoring? What is that? What can you do about it?
  2. Are there people you need to forgive for past hurts? How can you do this? What do you need to forgive in yourself?
  3. Are there areas in which you feel dead? In which you feel alive?
  4. Have you experienced changes in your values?
  5. Am I comfortable with the compromises I’ve made? What would I do differently?
  6. How do you feel about your obligations in life? Can you see any deeper meaning to them?
  7. What are your ambitions now?
  8. Are there thoughts that have become rigid? What do you need to do?
  9. In what areas of your life do you feel power? Powerless?
  10. What makes you feel anxious?
  11. What changes have to occur in your relationships?
  12. Are any situations from your adolescence emerging again? Relationship to parents, to authorities, to the need for friends?


Lesson Ten: Reassessing our Priorities, 49-56

Depending on your age, this chapter will describe you or at least tell you where you are heading. It is our attitude at this age that makes the difference. The two themes of this period are gaining perspective and feeling freedom. Imagine you are the Greek god Zeus peering down from the top of Mt. Olympus surveying your life. The most important voice that keeps whispering in your ear says: Change, change, change. You will consider five areas.

  1. Start planning for change. What will the next years bring? (Even in the midst of the pandemic, there are areas where we can plan for change.)
  2. You will take a look at your resources. What have I got to finance what I would like to do in the coming years? If I don’t have enough, what can I do?
  3. What changes do I need to make in my inner life? Am I the person I hoped to be?
  4. What do I need to lead a meaningful life at this time or in the near future?
  5. What are my priorities now? How have they changed from my twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties?

What is it that allows for growth? This is a time to reassess everything in our lives and make plans for change.

Reassess my relationships- my partnerships, friendships, family. We have to deal with past misunderstandings, experience forgiveness, feel gratitude for all that has been given to us.


Reassess my ambitions, desires and intentions. What is it I want out of life?


Reassess my work. Does it bring satisfaction? Am I longing to do something else?


Reassess my health. What changes do I need to make to live in a healthier way?


Reassess my home. Is this where I want to live for the next decades? Do I need to make changes in it to fit who I am now? What changes will I need to make to accommodate the next decades?


Reassess my values. Do I know what I hold most important? What am I willing to do to support it? Do I compromise my values or fight for them?


Once we complete the reassessment, we realize we have freedom – freedom to re-form ourselves, to be independent in our relationships, to live according to our own values. Now comes the hard work.


The weaknesses we have not faced and tried to deal with now become even more insistent. Unwillingness to look at ourselves objectively and accept criticism will only block our further growth. The longer we fool ourselves and deny responsibility for our behavior the harder it gets to change it. Our ability to be flexible is essential during this period.


Change includes risk and fear.


Further questions to help us along the way.

  1. What do I learn from reassessing my relationships- my partner(s), friendships, family?
  2. How can I deal with past misunderstandings in my relationships? Where have I practiced forgiveness? Where do I need to do this?
  3. What gratitude do I feel for what has come from these relationships?
  4. What do I want out of life? How do I look at my ambitions? My desires? My intentions? Am I satisfied? How, Why, why not?
  5. Does my work bring satisfaction? If so, why? If not, why not? What else do I want to do?
  6. What changes do I need to make to live in a healthier way?
  7. Do I want to stay in my present home for the next ten years? Why, why not? What changes would have to be made?
  8. What are my essential values? What do I hold most important in life?
  9. Do I compromise my values? How? Do I fight for my values? How? When?
  10. What weaknesses in myself do I need to face and do something about?
  11. Am I flexible or rigid? In what ways? What needs changing? What is going well?
  12. What are my major responsibilities in my life at this time? Am I able to manage them? Does something have to change? Am I worried about this?
  13. Am I afraid of risking to change things in my life?
  14. What are some of my greatest fears at this time?
  15. What situations are changing in my life? How am I adjusting to the change?
  16. Who are my close friends? Have I made changes in friendships? If so, Why? (relates to question 7)
  17. How is my health? How has it changed over the past ten years?
  18. Are there echoes from the 7-14 period or the 28-35 period?
  19. Am I gaining perspective about my life? What is that?


Lesson Eleven: 56-63 . Age of Maturity

We no longer have to prove ourselves, and we can make choices about our lives without getting permission.

If we have worked through the challenges encountered in previous stages, many earlier conflicts will have been resolved, or are in the process of becoming so. If we can leave stormy emotions behind, we will find a time of peace, calm, simplicity, and we can enjoy  the respect and confidence we have gained from life.

In the past we could use and misuse our bodies for the causes we believed in. However, at this next stage, we don’t have the same spurts of energy. We conserve our energy and choose where to place it. Rather than being emotionally charged with idealism, we develop a new kind of idealism, what Rudolf Steiner calls “achieved or mature idealism.” We can no longer depend on outer stimulus for our ideals but must achieve them through our own efforts.

One of the major challenges during this time is to be truly concerned and interested in others rather than being focused on ourselves.

  1. What choices do you feel you want to make at this time? What, if anything, hinders making these choices? What supports your making these choices?
  2. Are there major conflicts in your life at this time? Have these been resolved? Or do you see the need to address them?
  3. Do you feel confident in yourself? In what ways? What could help you feel more confident?
  4. What kinds of things do you feel enthusiastic about? Is this different from in the past?
  5. What ideals motivate you? What do you do to serve those ideals?
  6. What concerns do you have about other people in your life? How can you help?
  7. Do you feel you are generally optimistic? Pessimistic?
  8. Are you wishing to live the way you did in your twenties? Thirties?
  9. How are you dealing with aging? In what way?
  10. In what way do you feel you are an example to others?
  11. What do you most appreciate in life now?
  12. Are there areas in your life where you need to be more tolerant?
  13. What is most precious about life?
  14. How do you feel about earlier hopes and dreams that were not realized?
  15. What echoes do you see in the two periods,  Birth to 7, 35-42?
  16. In what areas do I feel I am getting rigid? Remaining flexible?
  17. As you look at your life, how are you connected with your background, ethnicity, place where you grew up? Has this changed over the years?
  18. How do you look at your relationship with your parents? with siblings? What changes have been happening? What do you still want to do?
  19. In what ways do you get stuck in the past?



Working with the Biography Chart

We will pause here and look back at what you have done so far. I have sent you questions for nine phases of your life. When you come to your present age, that will complete your tasks for now. In the future, you can continue with the questions. However, if you are planning to work with an elder, perhaps a parent, grandparent, or friend, you would continue with the next phases. In the next weeks, I’ll add thoughts about the time after sixty-three.

For now, let’s begin to reflect by looking at your chart. The more you have written on the chart, the more interesting it will be. Rather than getting your chart all cluttered, there are other ways to do this. One way is make a number of charts (copied or drawn) for different topics. For example, one chart may be for relationships, another for health issues, or for work interests, jobs, and professions. I recently did one to trace my involvement with art and crafts. After I went through my biography where I had such experiences, I was filled with understanding and gratitude for those who introduced them into my life.

Now begins the interesting part. First you can look at the whole chart and see if there are any themes that keep emerging in different ways at different times. That would be something to think about. How does that theme carry meaning and purpose in your life?

For example, a doctor, was trying to discover whether to change her career in her late fifties. When she did the biography chart, she discovered that many of her happy family moments from childhood through adulthood had to do with food. After many discussions, she realized that she wanted to work with nutrition for those immigrants who were struggling with health issues by giving up their native diet and eating too much junk food here in the U.S. She developed monthly sessions with a chef offering ways of cooking with healthy foods, including sending her patients home with food. She realized that the success of these sessions meant she didn’t have to change careers, but could incorporate them into her practice.

Another way of working with the chart is to look horizontally back to an earlier phase. For example, between 35- 42, look also at Birth to 7. Are there any common threads, events, relationships? You can do this with each phase by looking across to the earlier one. It’s always interesting to look at the 9-year-change (between 8 and 10) and then come across to around 33. Both are important times of change. Do you see any similar issues?

Every time you work with the chart, new memories emerge and new understandings begin to awaken.

If you have any questions, you can email me at [email protected].


Beyond Sixty-three

Beyond Sixty-three


We are living longer than our grandparents. While 72 used to be the average age of a life, it is now in the eighties, with many people living into their nineties, According to Rudolf Steiner, most of the karmic deeds we have come to meet have happened by the time we are seventy. After that, we are free to decide which situations seem to be deeply  connected to our destiny. Feeling free is a keynote of this time.  This doesn’t mean everything in life is easy, but it means we have choices in how to respond to what life brings. We are more conscious. Yet, we can also decide not to pay attention to what challenges life brings. We can distract ourselves to avoid pain or expectations. We are free to choose our attitude. We can look at a health challenge as a punishment, bad luck, or something we can learn from.


After we pass 63, it is like we are having a new birth. As a child learns to crawl and then walk, everything in life is a discovery. The child meets the world with joy. Once we pass 63,  we have seven years to complete the cycle until we arrive at seventy. We become more mature, new capacities arise, and we are more able to explore our inner world as well as the outer world. We can see the broad results of our actions and become more responsible with our deeds.


In my own life, my sixties were full of excitement, travel, and connections. My seventies were difficult with health issues and challenging professional situations. It was those hard times that became the most fruitful in turning inward to ask myself questions about my destiny. It was when I turned eighty that I began to feel that this was definitely another stage of life. I could sense the need to slow down, to consider my physical health, emotional health, and spiritual health. By doing this, new aspects of life were able to move into center stage and claim their prominence. At 82 now, I’m experiencing what we are all experiencing during the pandemic – choosing how to respond to isolation, concern for others as well as ourselves, and staying connected. However, it is also an opportunity to recognize that we are offered a space worldwide to consider how we have treated our planet, the sea, the land, the animals, and to wake up to the reality that many of our fellow human beings have not received proper respect and support in society. While we still have time in this life, we can do something about them. While we may feel melancholic about the loss of a year in which we could be active, travel, visit grandchildren, or attend concerts or plays, we can find other ways to make this year a blessing.


We’ve all met people who have many challenges, yet they present a graceful way of meeting the world, finding beauty in small things, awake to the needs of others. Wisdom lives through  them. Slowing down offers an opportunity for contemplation, peace, and insight. However, we are not saints, and we respond to life’s challenges in many different ways, including with humor.


This reminds me of a delightful experience I had with one of my mentors whom I had consistently looked to for guidance during my early teaching years.  In her early nineties, she was bedridden and often enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles.  As I enjoy them also, a friend had sent one to me, tiny pieces in a beautifully designed box. I sent it to my elderly friend as a gift. I didn’t hear anything for a few weeks. Then I called.

She said, “I can’t do anything with that darn puzzle. There’s no picture, and the pieces are tiny. I’m about to throw it away.”

I responded, “There’s a folded paper with the picture at the bottom of the box.”

Her response, “Oh, fine, I’ll get it, but you know my dear, it is frustrating to send an old woman something which she has to figure out. Why didn’t you put the picture on top?”

She didn’t mean to be rude, she was just direct. And she was correct.


Here are questions for you to mull over as it’s the start of a new  year. You may be of this age to answer the questions about your own life, or you may use them in conversations with the elderly people you know. I believe such conversations will offer a rich and profound connection.




  1. How old are you?
  2. What is  your general feeling about being this age?
  3. How does your home fit your needs at this time? Will it fit your needs in five years?
  4. Was there a time when you said to yourself, “I am now old.” Describe what that means.
  5. How has life changed in the last five years for you?
  6. Are there challenges that you feel you still have to meet? Any unfinished business?
  7. What is your general physical health situation? How are you dealing with it?
  8. How is your emotional health? Do you have a cheerful attitude toward life? Regrets? If you become depressed? how do you deal with it?
  9. What aspects of your life do you feel grateful about? Are there areas that you feel bitter about? Things you wish you had done, but didn’t. Why?
  10. What is your goal for this year? Next year?
  11. Has your spiritual life changed in the last five years? What are you doing differently?
  12. How would you characterize your seventies, eighties, nineties?
  13. How do you generally fill your time?
  14. What kinds of situations trigger crisis in your life? How do you resolve them successfully?
  15. Do you generally feel a sense of fulfillment from a life well lived?
  16. Can you describe the result of a decision or action in your earlier years that had ramification later on.
  17. Are there areas which you meant to work on, but your ignored them, and now you wish to work on them?
  18. Have you faced big changes such as retirement, loss of a spouse, loss of friends and acquaintances, facing a terminal illness, a major change in a role, and how are you dealing with this?
  19. What would you like your family and friends to remember about you?
  20. Is there a particular saying, poem, teaching or prayer that has deep meaning for you?