Thursday, 31 January 2013

'Ten Mindful Minutes' by Goldie Hawn

I did a double-take too when I saw the name 'Goldie Hawn'.  You mean 'Private Benjamin' Goldie Hawn, I thought?!  She is the author of this really wonderful and inspiring book, 'Ten Mindful Minutes'. It goes in to great detail about how to live a more mindful life with your children and how to help them develop certain skills that will help them deal with stress and ultimately make them happier.  The opening paragraph grabbed me from the start as it resounded with me so strongly;

"From the day my first child was born, I knew that I could not fail at one thing in my life - being a good mother.  My most challenging and important role would be to help shape those little beings of pure potential."

There's lots to reflect on and lots of little practical snippets that I like to collect from non-fiction books like these, like a magpie collecting treasures.  Ideas like getting your children to describe what the food they're eating tastes like over dinner as a way of encouraging them to be mindful of what it is they're actually eating (good for their literacy too!)  Or, asking them to write a small list or discuss with you what it is that makes them happy.  One I particularly like is 'The Paper Chain of Kindness', I ask my daughters have they done anything kind that day?  Or I decide that they have just done something kind and I write it on a slip of paper to make a paper chain out of.  It's a small thing, we probably won't do it forever, but it's a pleasurable exercise for now.  This is the magic of kindness isn't it?  My daughters smile and feel good about themselves when it has been acknowledged that they have done a kind thing (I know I always acknowledge when they do unkind things, so this is really just redressing that imbalance)  An added bonus is that it also reminds me, have I done anything kind today?  I'll see what I can do before bedtime.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Their natural habitat


We nearly went in to town on a saturday afternoon. We saw the sunshine and the blue sky and realised we couldn't waste this opportunity to get outside.  Three children walking around shops on a busy afternoon in town is not really my idea of a good time.  Watching them become totally absorbed in their game of den-building and mud-mixing is my idea of a wonderful time.  Sticks were carefully placed to an already existing structure, the mud was mixed with some water to make "ice-cream and beef"!  We stayed at a distance with the littl'un.  We marvelled at how much they were enjoying themselves, they could have stayed all day, I could have watched them all day.  There was no arguing, no hitting, no technology,  no toys, no whining.  Just pure, all-consuming play.

They were children in their natural habitat, doing what they do best.  We were just the facilitators, we got them there, we supervised them, I washed the mud out of their clothes that night.  It was a beautiful reminder that children really don't need that much to enjoy themselves, to express themselves, to 'be' themselves.  (So why did we spend so much at Christmas?)  From where I was standing they just looked so content and so alive and all they cared about was this very blissful moment.  I was reluctant to burst the bubble and announce it was home time, but they came, mud-smeared, rosy cheeked and nourished in a very natural way.

Monday, 28 January 2013

What will today's 'pleasurable moments' be?

"We need to remind ourselves that many pleasurable moments exist each day in our life.  understanding this we make a decision to start noticing them.  We take a few seconds here, a moment there, to stop and appreciate the small joys and beauty in our lives...we find ourselves refreshed by this practice."  (John Kehoe)

Friday, 25 January 2013

January's Gifts

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have in to enough, and more..."
                                                                                                           (Melody Beattie)

January's gifts so far;
- A healthy, bonny baby, getting used to eating food and putting on weight, phew!
- A few quiet moments in a beautiful cathedral
- My biggest girls got to have a sleepover at their cool Auntie's, they had such fun
- Three girls sitting in bed, two of them brushing their teeth, my baby Isla using her new toothbrush to brush her new tooth.
- An evening of reading and writing, lovely
- A wonderful, magical day watching the snow come down from the warmth and comfort of our nest, then outside to make snowmen and snow angels.
- Opening up the curtains one morning to find a flock of goldfinches in our Lilac tree, they are so beautiful.  The girls ran to get the binoculars and were excited to see them too.
- Baking with Caitlin and Erin, I stood back and let them work out what to do themselves and they lived up to the challenge.
- A mum who comes to stay, takes over cooking dinner and the cleaning up and spoils my girls rotten
- A new addiction, 'Twinings' peach and cherry blossom green tea, love it!
- A husband who reminds me that I actually do really love writing and should just get on with it!

Obviously, these are just the moments for which I am most grateful.  There were moments too when I wasn't feeling so positive or grateful for what life was throwing my way (lots of broken nights and 4 a.m. starts to the day were pretty tricky).  Yet, why dwell on them? These are the things, and there were others, which I can count as blessings.  Small, simple little things which enrich my life and enrich it again when I take the time to remember them.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

'Creative Play for your Baby'

"Play is joy.  When we play, we are fully integrated into ourselves and we feel at one with the world...This is the wisdom of childhood."
'Creative play for your baby.' C.Clouder

I just love this book so much.  I first came to it years ago when my older children were babies, it inspired me then and has done so again the third time around.  It comes very much from a Steiner-Waldorf perspective, a philosophy which really speaks to me and just sounds so very 'right'.  This book has lots to read and to reflect upon as well as very practical guides to making little toys for your baby.  I made this little family of chickens for Isla, they're sitting on a 'nest' of wool, on a 'field' of green velvet (a plaything which is used pretty much every day in this house).

This is one of the things that so interests me about this book and this philosophy.  The idea that children need 'playthings', not necessarily toys which have been bought from a toy shop.  That's not to say that we don't have those things, we do, but I also like to add to the collection in our house things like the green fabric above, handmade little animals and just the wool itself is regularly used for stables and to feed the horses.

They are not the most beautifully crafted animals, but they were made with love.  I see now that they were also made (subconsciously I think?) as a representation of me, the Mother Hen, and her three little chicks.  She likes to keeps them close in her soft, cosy nest.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A wintry delight

It has been the most magical of weekends.  The snow arriving in our little corner of the world is still novelty enough to incite sheer excitement and delight in both children and adults.  Especially when it means Mum calls it a snow day and the girls get to stay home from school.  We rearranged the furniture in the living room and made a den by the glass doors.  There we nestled for the day, watching the snow come down, watching the birds come to and fro from the bird table and from the pine cone feeders we made (just pine cones spread with peanut butter and rolled in bird seed).  Wood pigeons, robins, blue tits, blackbirds and even a flock of my favourites, goldfinches, arrived in our garden this weekend looking for food. It was such a beautiful spectacle.

'Magical' is all I could think.  The snow, its brilliance and purity, invites such a feeling of stillness and an oppurtunity for reflection.   All I have wanted to do this weekend is sit in the chair now facing out to the garden and watch the snow fall.  It is so quiet and so peaceful it simply commands you to slow down and breathe and appreciate this wintry delight.  As dusk came I didn't want to turn on the lights, it plunged the garden in to shadow, instead I lit some candles and held on to the magic of the day for just a little while longer.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

"I like it when you smile"

The day had felt like an endurance test.  As life with three little ones can.  How many tasks can I perform?  How much patience do I have? (not so much) How tired can a person get?  All I could think as I helped her in to her PJs and brushed her hair was, "I'm going to bed"; it was 7pm.  We had a cuddle  and I smiled a weary, puffy-eyed smile.  "Hmmm, I like it when you smile", she said.  It struck me, I could take this one of two ways.  First, I don't smile enough and she really noticed that I had smiled for a change? I hope not! Secondly, (the one I'm going with) she just likes it when I smile, I look friendly, warm and loving, not tired, irritable and impatient.  I know how I would like to look as she climbs in to bed each night.  Preferably that warm and loving version of me.  It seems that all I have to do, in fact, is simply just smile.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Mindful moments

Rush, rush, rush.  We were rushing to one school to pick one daughter up before we rushed down to the other school to pick up my eldest daughter.  Racing along the road.  Isla bobbing around in the buggy as we went.  And then I looked at her.  Really 'looked' at her and I had to stop to drink in her sweet beauty.  "Mummy, I'm here and I'm gorgeous and in all your 'busyness' you're missing it!" she said, though not using words of course.  "You're right" I thought. "I'll slow down, I'll really look at you and appreciate your 6 month old 'wondrousness".

Such mindfulness is something I am very interested in right now.  Being mindful in daily life of what is really important to me, what it is I truly value and being aware of the abundant blessings in my life.  Even though I don't want to always admit that I am blessed in so many ways and I just want to have a good old childish tantrum because someone has something that I would like or gets to do something that I want to do.  "It's not fair!" I think as I stamp my foot.

In my better moments I am drawn back to the moment, the life I do have as opposed to the life I 'think' I might like.  I am drawn back to this precious little creature staring up at me from her buggy, always smiling and pleased to see me.  She is a reminder to me to BE HERE NOW.  She is my little Buddha, my little Guru in a fluffy pramsuit.  "See me, connect with me,  because I love you Mummy", she says all of this with her eyes.  "I love you too baby, I'm here, I see you." If I do nothing else better today, I have done this, I have really connected with my daughter; it has been a good day.