Posts Tagged ‘words of wisdom’
The other day I came across a post on prayer flags which lead to my finding out about a prayer flag project. I liked the idea of letting our intentions for the world sway in the breeze, releasing it for all to witness.
For the Winter Solstice our family did a releasing ceremony where each of us wrote down what we wanted to let go of from the past year as we move into the next. For New Years I wanted the focus to be on the positive, sending out our wishes our intentions not just for ourselves but for the world. I wanted my boys to remember that they have the power to change the world, I wanted them to feel this by putting an action to their wishes and hopes for the world. And so we made prayer flags.
I explained to them that prayer flags are a way of putting your hopes for the world in a visual format, to share with others. I explained that they could have their prayer flag be about anything they wanted to wish for to happen in the world to make it a better place.
Immediately my eldest had an idea and began to work on his, while my youngest was doubtful that he would be able to express his on a flag. I talked him through his ideas asking him of what pictures he thought of when he thought of his wish for the world. This helped him. Below is a step by step Tutorial of how you can make a prayer flag with your family.
Here’s how you can make prayer flags with your family:
Gather your materials:
- a rectangular piece of cloth approximately 5″ x 11″ ( 3 of the 11″ will be folded over for a string to go through). We used old cloth napkins that I had and cut them to size.
- permanent markers, acrylic paints – the tackier (thick) paint works best, or fabric crayons
- flat Styrofoam tray that sometimes comes with produce (if you are doing a print like we did)
- pencil for drawing then etching (if you are making a print)
- glue gun or sewing needle and thread to make the fold that the string will go through.
Explain to your children what a prayer flag is: Keep it simple for younger children such as “a prayer flag is a way to share with the world your hope for something good you want to happen in the world”. For older children you may want to explain the origins of the prayer flag such as is done on the Creativity in Motion blog by Art Therapist Gretchen Miller. You don’t have to hold any particular religious beliefs to use prayer flags, it’s all about sending out your positive intentions for the world.
Have your children choose one focus, one positive thing that they would like to happen in the world. Have them focus on what they want rather than what they don’t want to happen in the world. So for example when my youngest spoke of his concern for climate change and the polar bears, and penguins having little ice to stay on, he visualized a picture of polar bears with a lot of ice, and penguins with lots of ice. In the end he chose to draw only the penguins.
Prepare the cloth by ironing it flat if there are wrinkles.
Fold over 1 1/2″ of the cloth & sew or glue down just the outer edge so that a sting can fit through it. Becareful of little fin gers the glue guns can get quite hot. Tip: there are low heat glue guns that are less hot but you have to work quicker.
Now have your child draw picture symbolizing their wish for the world:
They can do this several ways, free hand on the square with fabric crayons , or permanent markers or for a print have them emboss it into into the styrofoam.
Cut the edges off of the styrofoam tray so that it will be flat.
For younger children or to avoid disappointment with their picture, have your child draw it on paper the same size as your flag first and then either trace it from this drawing or have them copy it by etching it in.
To make a print its easiest to use one colour though you can try more than one. The etched in parts will not show paint when you make the print.
Flip and press evenly into the fabric. You can test your home made stamp on paper to see how it looks.
Make sure that if they want to write any words in the styrofoam tray that they write them backwards so that in a mirror you could read it (we forgot to do this).
Another way to make a print is to paint the picture on a piece of paper and press the paper onto the fabric, the trick is to use thicker acrylic paint and make the print before the paint dries (do not wet the brush or it waters the paint down too much for transferring the print). You can always add more paint, and draw or write with with permanent marker any additional embellishments after adding the print.
Once the flags are done and dry, put a string through the flags (a safety pin attached to a string and pushed through works well) and hang outside where it can blow in the wind, spreading your intentions for the world.
We would love to see what other families are making. If you like, you can post your family prayer flag photos on the Offbeatfamily Prayer Flag Flicker Group.
The other week I stumbled upon a writing prompt I had written in my journal with the intention of responding to it later. It was a series of prompts to write a letter to your self that I had found while blog hopping (sorry to say I could not find the original reference- but when I Googled it there were many renditions of the letter to Self). One of them was to write to yourself 10 years ago. I thought I would give it a try.
After just writing a few sentences I was struck by how powerful this exercise was for me. My intuitive parent stepped right in and began to respond with such empathy I was brought to tears. Parenting is tough, we all know that. But sometimes we can be our own worst critic, ruminating over how we should have done things differently or comparing ourselves to other parents who don’t seem to be having such a hard time.
For me 10 years ago was a very significant point in time as a parent because it was really so near the beginning of parenthood for me (my eldest son would have been 1 1/2 years old). Allowing myself to speak to my “new” parent self now, after 10 years, also brought to light how very important it is to continue to show the same empathy for one’s self even later on in one’s parenting career.
Perhaps this is something each and every parent can give themselves as a gift for the new year. We often talk about empathy for our children when they are going through tough times, but how about extending that empathic understanding to ourselves?
Here are some excerpts from my letter to my younger parent self. The advice I give myself is relevant at any point in my parenting, even to this day when my children are (almost) 8 and 11 1/2 years old.
You are a great mommy who loves your little baby boy deeply. I know it is hard to be away from him and you feel stressed because you wish that you could give him more of your time.
You worry. Don’t let your worry take over who you are and get in the way . . . You will have another child. You will learn more . You will make mistakes that you regret, but you must let go of that regret, you must pay it no mind for it will eat away at you and fuel your worry, your self doubt.
Know that you are a wonderful parent, a fantastic parent. You are human , yes, you make mistakes, yes, but you can and will learn from them.
You are the best mom your son has, he needs you, he needs you to believe in yourself. For when you believe in yourself as a mother, as a parent, your son will learn to believe in himself.
Don’t worry that one year has passed. There is still time, there is always time. You are a great parent, know that, feel that, believe that, and you will see how much easier things will be, your life will be easier, your parenting will be easier.
Let go of the past.
Walk boldly, with confidence, into the future!
Love your Wise Parent Self.
No matter what stage of parenting you are at, whether it is 2 months in, or 2 years, 12 years or twenty years into parenting, it’s never too late to show your self some gentle understanding and acknowledgment for all of your hard work as a parent. Sometimes all it takes is a little perspective of time to realize the beauty of what we have done as parents. I invite you to write a letter to your younger parent self. For showing compassion to yourself is the first step in letting go of past “mistakes” and moving towards the intuitive parenting that we all have inside.
It never ceases to amaze me how much I can learn from my children. While I like to think they learn from me as well, I still need to remind myself how much they can figure things out themselves when given the chance. We would’nt give them the answers on a test, or do their homework for them.
Are our answers the only “answers”?
So why then is it so hard for us as parents to take a step back instead, and let them find their own solutions? Why do we feel the need to give them “the” answers? Are our answers the only “answers”?
We too need to look inside for the answers. Sometimes it is not so easy as a parent to do this. Sometimes we avoid looking inside for our own answers and we look to others instead. Looking for that perfect answer of what exactly we should do in a particular situation with our children. We second guess ourselves and miss what has been there all along, what is right in front of us: the answers are inside.
Look inside. I quarantee you will find the answer.
I made this simple but deliscious treat for myself to eat while I enjoy some alone time. We all need alone time don’t we? The kids are at Greek School for a few hours and I am enjoying the silence. Don’t get me wrong, one is not better than the other, it just is, what it is. And it is peacefully quiet presently. Excuse me while I soak it in and savour my yummy treat . . . . . . .
Over the years I have gone to many yoga classes, taking in the asanas (poses) with my body and mind. With my first and second pregnancy I took a special prenatal yoga class with a wonderfully wise and inspiring yogini who liked to end each class with words of wisdom, quotes, and her own personal stories. I found these personal stories to be inspiring, yet practical for everyday. Isn’t that what we all want? Not some complicated formula on how to raise our children, be good parents or inspired beings. I find stories about life to be practical in this way, they inspire, yet leave room for different scenes to unfold. Read the rest of this entry »