Christine “Mooncat” Ziemer is inspirational, empowering and intriguing. The psychology professor at Missouri Western State University let us delve into her hobby for this month's cover. Ziemer, who has her doctorate in child development, performs with a local fire spinning group called Pyro Tribe.
Here's what Ziemer tells us:
I am a professor in the psychology department at Missouri Western
State University. I enjoy talking with students about the things that
I find fascinating-- how our brains and perception work, the combined
influences of nature and nurture on child development, what makes
humans the same and what makes us different.
I teach a variety of courses including Life-span Development, Sensation and Perception, and Statistics. I'm working on developing a new course which examines the psychology of religious and transpersonal experiences.
Along with my teaching I also enjoy involving students in my line of research which examines when infants start to direct different exploratory behaviors towards 2- and 3-dimensional objects and images presented on a touch-screen. This work is important for understanding how much young children can actually learn from new interactive screen technology.
I have two wonderful children with my partner, Ian Frost. Malachi Jack is three years old and Isabelle Ruth was born in March of 2017. They were both born at home with the help of my midwife, Cheryl Gates.
Having children has really taught me a lot of deep lessons about patience, being flexible, and the importance of self-care. Having a PhD in Child Development does not fully prepare you for the everyday challenges of raising children! They have a way of revealing any wounds or patterns of behavior you need to address in yourself that may not have come up otherwise.
One of the main things I make sure to make time for is running.
It's my self-care and my meditation. When I was in graduate school in Iowa I was running two marathons a year, and doing triathalons, 5ks, 10ks, or trail races almost every weekend. Now when I run I'm usually pushing a double-seated jogging stroller full of kids, snacks, diapers, and water bottles! Even so, running gives me a sense of freedom and lightness.
I feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally after I go for a run. Something about moving my body in a repetitive forward motion allows my mind to relax and gives me fresh perspective. I run outside all year long. I love the fresh air and sunshine, especially in the winter.
I also love dancing and have recently been going regularly to an ecstatic dance group in Kansas City. They meet to dance every Sunday in a beautiful space that's an old church. It's my dance church! I've made a lot of wonderful connections through joining this community.
I helped to start our fire spinning group Pyro Tribe about five years ago. Then I moved to town I was already fire hooping, a hobby I picked up in graduate school when I became friends with some fire spinners who went on to be some of the main members of a Chicago fire troupe.
There were a group of us in St. Joseph doing fire dancing with different props so we decided to give ourselves a name and start doing monthly fire jams. We came up with Moonday as a way to honor the full moon by spinning fire in a different location on the Monday closest to the full moon each month.
In addition to these monthly fire jams, we also have been hired to perform with fire for lots of events in the area from festivals to weddings and private parties.
It has been such a gratifying experience to see our Moonday community growing each year. We love that it's a family-friendly event that brings people out to howl at the moon together each month. I love seeing people making connections with other like-minded people at our events and bringing their own flair.
We often see people with LED light-up flowtoys, doing
yoga, getting signitures for petitions, sometimes even performing live music. It's a melting pot of creativity and I think it's a great thing to be happening in St. Joseph.