Several years ago, we started the tradition of using a talking stick during our family meetings. Whoever is holding the stick has the opportunity to speak without interruption, to share their ideas. They have our full attention.
A while back I was invited by another mother to do a guest post for her blog in a little section she called passing the “Talking Bowl”. This inspired me to open our blog to some guest blogs in the same way. On this page I pass the talking stick to share the wisdom of others.
Petrea hands the talking stick over to Robyn…………
More than enough to Give
Guest Post by Robyn Lindsay
Last Summer, I had been thinking of ways to give back to the community. Ways to help, and also ways to help my 3 sons to understand that we have more than we need. That we have so much, we can help others. In years past, we’ve taken their too-small coats and extra blankets to the Mission to donate.
We spend a lot of time downtown Portland while they are here. We always see homeless people. My heart goes out to them because I know, especially in this economy, that could be any one of us. Sleeping in the parks, getting coffee cups out of the trash cans.
So, after some planning, we got together with our neighbors. We got gallon-size Ziploc bags, water bottles, fruit rollups, granola bars, and cheese and cracker packages. We set up an assembly line. We filled 150 bags, each with a water bottle, a fruit rollup, a granola bar, and cheese and crackers. We put them in a dozen or so reusable shopping bags and headed downtown.
We went to the waterfront. I encouraged my boys to have conversations. There was some doubt about finding 150 people to give our care packages to. But guess what? Within 2 hours, our stock had been depleted. And our hearts were full.
It was an amazing experience. At one point, we came upon a group of young people. People who weren’t homeless, but we gave some care packages to them anyway, because we had more than enough to give.
The children learned. You give when you can. You help your fellow man. And hopefully they learned that these people are just like us.
We are already trying to decide how we will give back next year.
About Robyn Lindsey
She can be found online at:
Please leave a comment for Robyn at the bottom of this page.
Petrea hands the talking stick over to Vera…………
Mindfulness for our family
Guest Post by Vera Lothian
Petrea wrote a guest post on my blog a couple of weeks ago and when she asked me to write a post for her blog I knew instantly what to write about. She wrote about being present with our children, that presence in a moment is also known as mindfulness. A practice made famous trough Buddhism, now seems to be everywhere and coaches are sprouting up left right and center.
I found mindfulness before it became quite the hype it is now and often wondered at the time why this didn’t get more attention the the health and wellness circles, I am glad it does now. Mindfulness is at its core simply being present with the moment you have right now, nothing more, nothing less. It means that when I do the dishes I pay full attention to every single item that needs to be washed. Thich Nhat Hanh would tell you that every dish is a baby Buddha and needs to be treated as such. It also means that when one of my boys comes running in need of something, I dry my hands and turn to them and give them my full and complete attention. The dishes are no longer on my mind all that is is my child in front of me.
It saved my sanity after the twins where born and I’m pretty certain it continues to do so now that I am mothering 3 boisterous boys, one who is “high needs” and one with ASD (autism spectrum disorder).
I felt early on that seeing as this was such a good tool for me I needed to make sure that I taught my kids as I learned to incorporate this into my life. In this high speed, fast paced, never not doing anything world that only seems to speed up I knew being familiar with mindfulness would give them an important tool in their life toolbox too.
The challenge was HOW do you do this for 3 young boys. I don’t know about you but my kids never seem to stop! I started with introducing a simple gatha when washing hands. A gatha is a short poem or verse that helps you focus your attention to exactly what you are doing.
Breathing in I am washing my hands
Breathing out the water feels nice
We would say it together slowly repeating it if necessary, until the hands where washed. After that I introduced more gatha’s I either made them up myself or referred to the book present moment, wonderful moment by Thich Nhat Hanh specifically on Gatha’s. We have gathas for opening the door or answering the phone for eating and even for turning the TV on or off.
A few weeks into adding gatha’s into our life I purchased a tiny singing bowl, not to be used for its usual purpose (ie that of an actual singing bowl) for us it became a mindfulness bell. This tiny bell that easily fits into my hand and Is comfortable for the kids to hold is there to act as a reminder to live in the now. When one of us invites the bell to sound we stop for a moment and take 3 breaths before carrying on with what we were doing. Anyone in the house can invite the bell and everyone is expected to respond to it. It can really break up mounting tensions when 2 kids are fighting over a toy or when I feel that everyone is constantly winding up their energies and there is no chance of going outside to run it of.
I also started to meditate with them, I don’t expect them to sit for long periods they are children after all. The youngest two who are 3 might sit for just a couple of minutes and my eldest who is 6 might make it to 4 or 5 minutes on a good day. They enjoy guided meditations and can listen to those much easier than they can sit for “normal” meditation.
I don’t live mindfully every single moment of the day but it is a tool that comes out of my toolbox often and its probably the most important tool in it.
Why go trough all this trouble you ask? Is it really worth it? I can say that for us it has made a huge difference. My high strung, hyperactive, high needs 6 year old is still high strung and hyperactive but he is able to mange things now. Where before he would have meltdowns 5,6 ,7 times a day he can now go days without melting down. If he feels one coming on or if I notice he isn’t coping with the situation we cuddle up and do our Buddha breathing, he tells me what he is feeling and we sit with that until he has calmed down. He doesn’t lie in bed for hours before falling asleep because he is now able to relax when he chooses doing this has given him more control over his emotions. Our life has slowed down we are enjoying things more and take time for each other more.
It is all too easy to multitask throughout your day but that isn’t necessarily the best thing for you your kids or your partner. Practicing mindfulness has removed a lot of the stress that creeps into daily life and I can say that I am a better mother because of it. I don’t live mindfully every single moment of the day but it is a tool that comes out of my toolbox often and its probably the most important tool in it.
I encourage you to check out the list of resources on my website and try mindfulness out in your home.
About Vera Lothian
Vera is mama to 3 boisterous (home educated) boys. She’s married to one wonderful husband and cares for a horde of animals. Born in the Netherlands she traveled the globe before settling in the UK and now makes her home in the glorious Wiltshire countryside. She can normally be found with either a ukulele or some knitting in her hand whilst running after the boys.
When the boys are asleep she loves to do handwork, read any book that is even slightly “out” there and play catch up with her favorite blogs. You can wake her up in the middle of the night with a good curry or rendang & nasi yum!
She makes her home on the interwebz on the following sites
The website and blog www.thespiralandthelotus.co.uk
Face book http://www.facebook.com/spiralandlotus
Mail her on vera AT thespiralandthelotus DOT co DOT uk