Now there is something powerful that I want to share with
you…….

I recently attended an online workshop for home based entrepreneurs about lifestyle design. I am really excited to share with you 2 beautiful analogies that Alex Baisley shared in his online day course “The Lifestyle Revolution- 1 day, redesign the next 3 months“ (you can learn more about Alex`s work  at www.BigDreamProgram.com).

I took away one particular insight that I really want to share with you, because it has the potential to be a game changer.

Do you ever wonder if something is wrong with you, because somehow, no matter how much success you achieve in life, you just never feel satisfied?  Do you ever feel that way?  Alex Baisley did and I know I sure have.

After a while of beating himself up about it, it dawned on Alex that maybe, just maybe it wasn`t that there was something wrong with him. But rather that the problem was for him and all dissatisfied people, ENVIRONMENTAL.

Alex went on to liken the satisfied and fully expressed human being as a plant just waiting to flower…… and if you are a nature or plant lover,
you are gonna LOVE this!

Imagine if you will that we take one particular type of plant and start it from seed in an environment and soil quality that is exactlty opposite to what is needed for that particular plant to thrive and flower. What do you think will happen? While the seed will likely still sprout and grow, chances are slim that it will become the vibrant healthy plant it was meant to, let alone flower and bloom into its full beauty!

Alex believes it is the same thing with human beings. Like plants, we all need our own unique environment in order to thrive and flower into our potential! No amount of positive thinking and intention can make us flower into our fullness without the right environment to support whatever that looks like for us.

Many of us cannot bloom in the context of the American Dream, the 9-5 grind, working for someone else or maybe even in the context of a nuclear family unit, as in a stay at home parent or in the lonely life of a housewife. Some of us are just are not cut from that cloth, so to speak. No matter what, we don’t thrive in that culture.

Sure we can put a smile on our face, whatever the circumstances, but until the environment that we live in fully supports us, how can we possibly bloom into our fullness?

And with yet another beautiful plant analogy, Alex took us on another inner journey that facilitated the opportunity to look within and discover just what kind of “flower“we are blooming into, so that we can see more clearly a vision of what kind of environment can best support us each as individuals.

While there is no way that we can force a flower to bloom faster, we CAN impact whether or not it will in fact flower, by nurturing the ideal environmental conditions for the plant to thrive! Nurturing our environment is the only power we have to affect the present and future simultaneously!

So how about you?  Does this illustration give you an entirely new perception of where to put your energy on the day to day level? What kind of plant are you?  Does the garden of your life contain the unique
elements that you need to flower?

I am deeply contemplating this and looking at my own environment. I am asking myself what do I need to cultivate more of?  And what do I need to take out to compost so that I can flower into the full expression of my own potential?

Before I ask you to share, it is only fair that I share first! Personally, I have a strong desire to travel, yet also a strong need for community….I am contemplating my own gypsy nature and wondering how I can gather a circle of gypsy families to co create a travelling community together…whether that means contributing to one another by hosting families or better yet traveling on the road together!…..I would like to spend anywhere from 4-6 months exploring, homeschooling, offering
my work online, on the road and over the phone.

One of the most profoundly fulfilling times of my life was at the age of 17 when I was a camp counsellor…that summer had all the elements that enabled me to bloom into my potential. Living close to nature, eating in community, singing, focused time spent connecting in with spirit, sharing, growing, taking on leadership, and holding the space for others to flower into their potential. While it may sound cliche, during that summer, I felt like I had come home to myself.

Today though, I need to start where I am, fully expressing and embodying all of it from where I currently stand. And so I am deeply contemplating how to make these qualities a part of my environment now, rather than leaving them on the shelf while I hustle and bustle to achieve them in the future … for later when I have more time, more money, less work to do…yadda, yadda….(do you find yourself using these excuses too?)

I think Alex`s analogies are rich, practical, life affirming and potent. Simple, yet deeply profound.

I`d LOVE to hear your thoughts and to discover what kind of flower you are! What type of environment do you feel called to cultivate so that you can flower into the fullness of your radiance or brilliance?  What steps do you need to take to cultivate this kind of environment in your day to day life?

And if you are a gypsy soul mama or papa too (or?), drop me a line and let’s talk travel! e-mail me: sherry@wholefoodsfamily.com

One of the beautiful messages of Waldorf early childhood education is that instead of trying to “educate” our young ones (from birth to age 7), that what they in fact need from us is a good role model to learn from.

” A child at the imitative stage of development absorbs every aspect of his environment, which then becomes part of the innermost stirrings of his will, deep below the level of consciousness.”  Beyond the Rainbow Bridge- Nurturing our Children from Birth to Seven

I have to tell you that while I have been aspiring to many “waldorfian” ideals since the birth of my son 9 years ago, I have since had much trouble with slowing down to let my children do housework with me. I also found that my son wasn’t very interested anyway. At least that is what I thought were my obsticles…

I am starting to wonder though, beyond that we are conditioned to try to speed through domestic tasks as something to just get over and done with, that also we as mothers are not the ones that our son’s are supposed to be modeling themselves after. Sometimes, I also think that my expectations and timing were off in the way that I invited my children to share in the domestic tasks with me. 

But could it be as simple as finding that unique thing that we do that our child has a natural affinity for, and model and share in that task with our child. And beyond the masculine and feminine propensity to be attracted to masculine or feminine things, we are all such unique individuals that our interests fall in many places along the spectrum. 

I rarely recall my son naturally wanting to do any domestic tasks with me. Sometimes I’d ask and he might do it for a moment, but truly he never really became engaged in housework. But he could sit with my husband and “fix” things for long periods of time. Give the child a hammer and he’s happy!

So because I was never that successful in sharing in the domestic tasks with Isaiah, I figured that it was because I was essentially lacking in some  “way of being” that would facilitate ease in that area. I am starting to think though now, that resistance in our life is not a problem within us that needs to be changed, but rather it is  a sign that we need to transform our thinking and expand our view on the subject to include an essential missing piece to the puzzle without which, our mind feels conflicted. For example, “I want to  model such and such for my child, but I don’t really want to do or be that thing.” But the truth is “I want that “thing” modeled for my child, but I don’t want to be the one to do that modelling”. The first thought is a conflicted parent and the second thought is a clear and authentic parent. It is obvious which thought is open to a solution and which thought is a trap.

Now I am thinking I was resisting it because it was not natural for my son who is a very masculine soul. And I think that I was resisting it because it is not natural to have to be everything to one person. I was resisting it because deep in my heart I know that these expectations are futile. How am I to enjoy domestic tasks when I am alone and isolated and longing for a community of women to share in them with me? It is right for me to resist, for the resistance calls us to open to the question, “can it be another way?”

Because I had carried this inner picture of myself lacking, I sort of put this ideal of sharing my domestic tasks with my children on the shelf and never really bothered to invite my daughter into my domestic tasks, until two days ago. In a way, I had long since resigned my ideals around that.

My children were leaving to go for a three night camping sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa and I wanted to savour every last moment with them before they left. So after becoming bored with reading my 4 year old daughter stories and cuddling all after noon (my daughter requested that “we cuddle till Grandma gets here“ which was 2 hours away!), I suggested that we clean the kitchen together. She replies quite happily that she would like to. So I give her the job of unloading the cutlery basket of the dishwasher and she wowed me! Not only was she ingredibly adept at “getting” where everything went, but she understood how to reload the dishwasher too (many adults have trouble with that one!)….while she only wanted to vaccum for a minute, she was a pro in the kitchen!

It felt so great having spent that time with her and having seen a side of her natural abilities that I had never seen before. She seemed so distinctly an individual that day…..let me tell you, it feels so good, really good, to really “see“ your child. Not in the role of your child, but as a unique soul and an equal.

And you know, while Isaiah still prefers to do `manly` things with Dad around the house and won`t clean his room with out clear direction from me, he has no trouble making eggs and porridge from scratch, for the whole family. He`s into cooking and asks me questions about food and healing on a regular basis. So rather than focus on the fact that he`s not yet being tidy (something my conflicted mind thinks that I should be teaching him, but don`t…. mostly I clean his room!), I feel compelled to nurture the food/healing aspect of his soul, after all, he is inviting me too!

So after all, it seems that while I haven`t come close to being an idyllic “waldorfian“ mother, my children are naturally orienting themselves to imitate those aspects of my life that facilitate their own natural longings and drives.

I felt compelled to share this because I wonder if there might be other moms out there who feel inspired by Waldorf and it`s emphasis on imitation, but who are losing energy feeling that they are really not living up to that ideal. I invite you to notice where your child is keen to imitate you and allow other people to model for your child things that you are not such a good example of!

Maybe, just maybe, you don`t have to be  an example of “everything“ to your child.  I am starting to see that while my mothering hasn`t always looked the way that I would like it to, and while so many of my ideals have fallen to the floor and been kicked under the bed, as time goes on, the results speak for themself.

Mostly it is authenticity on our part and really seeing our children, that warms their hearts and nurtures their soul anyway. And that is the heart of Waldorf, at least in my mind!

It has been 4 months since my last musings on bedtime. I was pondering the idea of “unschooling” at bedtime which to me, meant not imposing sleep manipulation on my children at all. Rather, I thought that if I gave them the space to follow their own rhythms, that they would find their own natural bedtime rhythm too.

So, for the last 4 months, we tried pseudo “unbedtiming” our kids. Did they find their own natural rhythm around bedtime? NO! Only a handful of times did they actually go to bed completely on their own! Most days, we’d eventually (around 10-11:00pm) insist that they go to bed because we just couldn’t take it anymore! Something  just feels wrong about kids going to bed after 11:00pm, and truth be told, they were driving us crazy!!

So why would I be experimenting like this? Well, firstly and foremostly I will be the first to admit that I am a very “lazy” mother when it comes to bedtime. I just don’t feel like doing it. I hate that my kids resist it. Their calls for water, food and all the other excuses that I have to “do something about” are just plain annoying.  I just hit a certain point, and I’m done. Now I quote “lazy” because on one level, I think that I am just a normal human being who just happens to be honest about how I really feel, and I am more than willing to question my resistance. Unlike the rest of the working world, we mothers, mother all day without 2, 15 minute breaks and a lunch hour. And we never get to go home after work…..the serving just doesn’t end.  Maybe other parents are just more stoic than I am. They probably don’t make an issue of it. They just put their kids to bed every night at the same time in the same way, and then go about their evening.  Shouldn’t I just suck it up, add a formal bedtime to my daily rhythm and forget about it? Yeah, I could, but that wouldn’t be authentic for me. I truly feel there is a higher way and I am on a mission to find it.

Secondly, I question bedtime, because I don’t think imposing one on someone else is natural. The whole scenario creates resistance in everyone involved, because that is just the nature of it. 

Creating a nurturing bedtime takes a lot of presence and effort. I think it is natural for parents (or maybe it is just me?) to resist bedtime in the context of these little lonely boxes that we live in (or at least, I find them lonely). The whole way that mothers live alienated and 24/7 with the same little people and rarely get a break from spending time with them…..to me, it just seems human to resist giving more, especially when we never stop giving in the first place.  I think it just gets tiring and is unrealistic to be the sole “meeter” of every one of someone else’s needs. Yet I value my children’s need to have a healthy relationship to sleeping and I feel a sense of responsibility to sort out our bedtime misgivings. I am still holding on to the perspective that somehow I will come up with a way that meets that need without imposing on a very personal natural body function of theirs.  I am looking for a way that feels authentic for our family. 

Thirdly, I am experimenting with other “ways of being” around “bedtime” because I don’t want it to be forced on my children like a jail sentence. I value my personal freedom and I want to enable my children to flower into their natural brilliance. I don’t know how I can do that, if I am enforcing them to conform to my preferences, needs, beliefs etc. Now, I know we could go down the rabbit hole with that statement, because we can turn it over and come up with many examples of why it is completely logical that as parents we have to enforce things for our children`s well-being and safety….. but I am looking not for the “right” bedtime method or the middle road of compromise, but rather I am seeking another path here altogether. I keep asking the question in all of my parenting dilemmas (of which there are many), “is consensus possible between parent and child?”

The way I see it, we either have the choice to keep rollin’ with the way things are or change the way that we live with children. I don’t think that it is fair to “sleep manipulate” our children for our convenience. Yet realistically we have to find some way meet their needs and ours in the modern construct, or at least turn our seeing of it, right side up and inside out until another way of living becomes possible. I am still contemplating…..

The truth is, the reason that I feel that the approach that I’m referring to as  “unbedtime” didn’t work for my children, is that it pretty much became “unattachment parenting”  on our part, as we tried to go about our evening hoping that our kids would “do their own thing” until they got tired.

I can see the “unbedtime” approach working for the parent who is exceptionally patient and not truly invested in trying to accomplish something concrete with their time at night. I can see that if both my husband and I were to focus on making the evening about family and leisure time, then we could be patient and attentive until 11pm, but  that is not the case! We are both creative types and want to use our time to “work” on our passions. We crave uninterrupted sequences of time.  

And these are the reasons I feel that they didn’t settle into a natural sleeping rhythm:

1) They were not feeling connected to us. Remember, we were “unattaching”. Because we wanted them to go to sleep, they therefore  felt us trying to disconnect from them causing them to feel too insecure to just “give in” to the sleeping urge.

2) Because they didn`t want to miss out on anything (this is natural, we do this as adults….imagine you are at a party and everyone is having a great time and you are really tired, you try to stay awake and engaged for as long as you can, right?)

3) Because they didn`t want to be alone. They are social creatures. As much as we want to snuggle in bed with our partners, they want to snuggle in bed with us!

In hindsight, I really don`t see a problem here with our kids resisting bedtime.  They are just doing what normal, healthy humans do. So, then why are we trying to manipulate them to “behave” any differently?

Seriously, I need to sit with this. Clearly, the “unbedtime” approach doesn`t meet their needs, as much as the conventional bedtime approach is an imposition on their physiology and freedom.

Being that consensus is a co creation, right now the only truth in this moment that is coming up for me is that I need to ask my children how they would like their evenings to culminate into slumber …. I know that I need to really feel into what my children really need  to truly be peacefully asleep and at peace with sleep.

Sigh…..

The intention of this book is to help women and families explore self care during pregnancy and postpartum in preparation for motherhood! Discover the secrets of ancient postpartum rejuvenation therapies and how they can increase your vitality and reduce aging! Included is a special section for the community including how we can all come together to honour, uphold and support new families, and why in doing so, we all benefit! The book also features sections highlighting the father’s role in pregnancy and birth and exposing the new father to the universal needs of pregnant women, new mothers and the feminine spirit!

http://nurturingfamily.homestead.com/index.html

Excerpt from “Nurturing the New Family”  http://nurturingfamily.homestead.com/index.html

With the constant change and the many surprises of motherhood, establishing a rhythm around self care is essential since we can’t live by the clock. In order to do this, we have to select some self care activities to weave into our day and do them at the same interval. For example, we have our bath before bed. The time that we get to bed might be different, but the ritual of for example, bath before bed, stays the same. Or we might make breakfast and then make tea and sit down to read something inspiring while nursing our baby. We might go for walks after supper.

Sounds good doesn’t it, but do we trust ourselves to follow through on it? Upon reading this, a dear friend expressed to me as somebody who has often struggled with this concept “Great plan. But who really does that? And how do I actually achieve this?” Her response brings to mind some distinctions that are begging to be made on the topic of establishing a rhythm. And just so it be known, I am often very successful at failing miserably at rhythms myself! Remember how I compared motherhood earlier on as a spiritual path of practice?

The concept for establishing rhythms as a way of being with children and homemaking comes from Waldorf early childhood education. Upon discovering it, for many it seems like a beautiful and conscious way of being with the tasks of homemaking. But in reality, it is not so easy to keep a rhythm on our own. While our ancestors naturally fell into rhythms, they had a group consciousness around this and accountability to each other about how an individuals’ time was spent. Mother’s don’t have these things of which I speak. This is both a curse and a blessing. The work of homemaking is much harder than living in a community or tribe because there is little joy in work that has no social element, yet it is nice not to have to answer to other people if you don’t feel like doing your dishes!

Rhythms are difficult to keep because in modern motherhood, you don’t have a boss breathing down your shoulder insisting that you look busy! As a product of our culture, you are programmed to be externally, not internally motivated. Think back to your days at work. How did you pass the time, make the day go by at a tolerable pace? You had rhythms!

This brings me to another spiritual comparison of motherhood. Establishing rhythms is also a path of self actualization. You are learning after many years of being programmed to submit to the will of authority (in both the educational system and the workforce) how to now assume authority as the boss of your own life. In a sense the chaos we can feel amidst the harried life of busyness coupled with the social alienation of being at home all day by ourselves with young children is kind of like the breakdown before the break though into our own freedom. You eventually discover the discipline within that allows you to follow your own will, instead of giving into your whims.

So while cultivating order and rhythms could be part of transforming the “frenzy of homemaking with children in tow”, it could also be taken on as yet another expectation of ourselves or high ideal to live up to.  Yet the point about having a rhythm is that, it is a practice, we keep coming back to it. We don’t ever arrive…. but giving up “getting there”, gets us closer to our goal!

We give up by acknowledging that we are never going to get it right, get it perfect. We just need keep coming back to rhythm as we would in meditation, come back to our thoughts.

We may follow our whims for weeks or months at a time and then suddenly wake up to our unsettled feelings, depression or lack of satisfaction with our life and remember oh ya, I need a rhythm.

Upon first glance, many people assume that to have a rhythm is to make restrictions in one’s life. But it isn’t so. Rhythms help us do the stuff that we need to do for our health and well-being and thus enabling us to be truly spontaneous without guilt or should be’s creeping up on us when adventure calls us elsewhere. Rhythms allow us to do things on autopilot so that we don’t waste precious energy thinking about when to do things that should require little thought. Do we plan and think about, or dread brushing our teeth? Or do we just do it every night before we go to bed (giving it little thought). Our self care rhythms, from journaling to housework, can become as easy as brushing our teeth when we lose our resistance to them!

The following excerpt illustrates beautifully how rhythm can conserve our energy, an essential self care practice for motherhood!

“In the rhythmic system also we find organically expressed that quality of movement which has already been alluded to in connection with the power of feeling. The rhythmic system never tires. The limbs will go no further at the end of a mere days walk; the brain becomes exhausted with a few hours concentrated thinking; but the heart and lungs must pulse and stir without rest by day or night from the first intake of mortal air to the last out breathing of the breath of life.  It is due to this tirelessness of the rhythmic system that all work is less fatiguing in proportion as it is done rhythmically and, being so done, rests on the rhythmic system of the body. The old customs of singing and chanting at work were based on this knowledge and students of fatigue in modern times have only rediscovered the importance of making movements rhythmical if they are not to tire. But because the connection of the rhythmic system with the power of feeling is not understood, people have not begun to study the effect of feeling on the nature of fatigue.” p.18 “The Way of a Child” A.C. Hardwood

Rhythms should not be set in stone either, but rather fluid and changing with the particular needs that we have in our life. I find that it helps to sit down with a piece of paper and write them down so that we can keep coming back to it and revising it as we see what works and what doesn’t for us.

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