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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

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.

I can’t tell you how often I hear moms tell me that their young children are so needy and demanding, (especially when it is time to make supper!), that they find it difficult to find the space to nurture their childrens basic needs for nutrition and well-being. This is in spite of the fact that they stay at home all day, with mothering as their primary task!  An outsider to motherhood might find this very curious situation.  Surely you’d think that in a 16 hour period, a person could get three meals on the table and keep a tidy house!  Yet many women, my self included, find this to be an insurmountable task even though we spend most of our days working toward that end!  Granted, I am not entirely solely focused on mothering and homemaking; my many moons of mothering have been interspersed with businesses, studying and doula work.  Yet  even on days when I am exclusively given over to domesticity, as I reflect at the end of the day on what I have actually accomplished with my two children in tow and it more often than not, looks as though I am not only unsuccessful as a “domestic artist”, but I too, often have no idea where the time went that day or what I did with it! You might say that it is especially challenging for me because I spread myself too thin or in too many directions with so many projects on the go; however, I have more than a few close friends whose main or only focus is being at home with their children and they most certainly wouldn’t say that organizing their lives at home is any easier than mine is, or isn’t!.

So if life as a homemaker isn’t “all sugar and spice and everything nice”, and it isn’t because we spread ourselves too thin, or because we don’t have enough time; I propose that, what makes staying at home with our children, cooking and “keeping house” a difficult , if not insurmountable task, is simply the absence of rhythm and boundaries which serve to nurture a healthy balance between order and spontaneity.

Oh what a glorious fantasy I had during my first pregnancy! I imagined that I would lavish being a stay at home mom and be really good at it! I imagined that I would bask in the glory of the feminine homesteading arts, while my secure and at ease children would play quietly at my feet as I prepared wholesome food and put fresh wildflowers in the vase; ones that were of course, freshly picked from that day’s stroll in nature! These serene calm children of mine would smile ever so sweetly and thank me kindly for the nourishing food that I placed before them, all the while spreading their organic cotton napkins in their lap and folding their hands to begin the mealtime prayer. What a laugh that is!

In reality the kids are simply; kids being kids. They are noisy, messy, whiny, asking for this and for that, refusing the food I make with statements of detest or rejecting it on the premise that they wanted a horizontal not vertically sliced sandwich; the house is a pig sty, I’ve been wearing the same clothes for three days in a row (yes I did shower, but did I put deodorant on this morning?). Brush my teeth? How about their teeth? I’m behind on laundry… again, “yes honey, put yesterdays dirty socks back on…they don’t match”?  “Too bad, so sad…”; “sorry hubby, I know you just worked 8- 12 hours lifting heavy men things (what is it that you do at work again?), but I’m just too tired, I can’t bare to stay home another minute, let alone make another meal, from scratch! We are going to have to eat out AGAIN”. If you put my life on camera, I’d be moving to and fro all day, but one really couldn’t say what tasks I actually complete. Everything is in process and starting over again!  That is a mother’s work. Its value is beyond measure, yet the work is “invisible” to the naked eye.

Now, if you are not concerned with making quality wholesome food from scratch or keeping  a zen “ish” living environment, you might say, that meeting the emotional needs of my children and nurturing their spirit,  more than makes up for the fact that there are dishes in the sink and oatmeal smeared all over the couch. You might consider that a fair trade off, for the likes of being a Martha Stewart!  Yet I must confess that there are more days than I care to admit where I have no idea what I did with my day and that my kids are acting needy and demanding, in spite of the fact that I was physically present and available to them all day…. not exactly signs of getting their needs met!

So what is really going on here?
After 7 plus years of mothering, I have finally figured this out, so allow me to pick up a stone in your path….its called a lack of presence and too many whims. “Whims” defined: Impulsive or unpredictable often sudden idea or turn of the mind.

My whims, your whims and their whims…..seemingly real entities that feed off of one another…. yet no one is satiated for long and the cycle just keeps perpetuating itself.

What keeps these “whims” alive? We feed them with obsessive and compulsive thinking, disorganization, confusion, impulsiveness, quick fixes and self centered “ness” or on the other hand  anal retentive perfectionism, work-a holism (the hallmark of a work- a- holic  is that they always look busy but never get anything done! Hmmm…..anyone you know?), rigidity, tunnel vision, time poverty consciousness and martyrdom!  Any of these states can lead to whiny and dissatisfied kids and MOTHERS!

How can our children be anything but demanding and relentlessly needy in our lack of true presence? Their neediness serves to call our attention to the fact that they have a need for something; whether or not they or we even know what that need is. Their demanding of us is only a cry to call us back into the present moment; calling us into awareness so that we can perceive and get present to what is needed here and now in this moment.  This is why parenthood is spiritual path of a high order. There can be no pretending here. We become enlightened by our children’s “telling of us”. Having children is like wearing our weaknesses out on display for the whole world to see; uncovering what we have failed to see within ourselves, or that which we have repressed deep within and hoped would never rear its ugly head again.

It would be naive to expect our lives to be transformed by reading just one insightful article. It is also unlikely that any insight, no matter how aligned it is with our truth, to make a smidgen of difference, unless it is applied within some kind of context or confine. Few of us live beyond seconds of true awareness, let alone hours or an entire day. Yet, if we are to start somewhere and begin cultivating awareness in our lives and quiet those whims, mornings would be the perfect place to start, as the morning sets the tone and informs the flow of the upcoming day.

How do you begin each day? Seriously contemplate this. Write it in your journal.  What does it look like? How does it feel? How does it impact your kids? What do you see? What do you really need? What do your children really need? What insights are you getting? How could you tangibly put these insights of awareness, into action? What would make it possible to have the space needed to create a nourishing breakfast and a peaceful start to the day?

When children can depend on a nourishing breakfast and a nurturing morning routine, they feel secure enough to indulge in their own imaginative free play while you work, because they know what to expect and what is expected. On the other hand, when mother is swayed by fickle impulses that change from moment to moment; her children end up feeling disoriented and will try desperately to bring her back into the present moment through erratic behaviors that consistently pull her out of the task at hand.

It is the child’s innate longing to be grounded by and connected to mother to fulfill inner feelings of safety, belonging and security in life. When a child cannot feel this presence, he will attempt to get into the driver seat which will cause an inversion where mother is now driven by the child’s impulses!  She will find her self now catering to the child’s demands. Mother will rightfully say “this child is driving me crazy!”.  When this is the dynamic in the parent and child relationship, no ones needs are being met, least of all, the child’s.

So what do you intend for this day? How will you call yourself present? What aspects of your own and your child’s life need extra care and attention? How will you make space for time alone and to pursue the creative dreams and longings that you may have outside the context of mothering?

Setting Boundaries For Yourself
In my own experience, I find that if I haven’t been very present to my children and to the sacred space that I consider home (even if I was physically present all day); I find that I am not completely at ease either with the other work that I do. I end up leaving home with a feeling of low level anxiety, instead of enjoying the time that I have to myself while tending to my passions and creativity. This makes it is easy for me to accept one’s need  to cultivate self discipline, boundaries and rhythms or routines in life, in order to truly and fully experience the contrasting excitement of spontaneity!  Our conscious presence helps us flow with what is, keeping us from becoming rigid in our routines; while our rhythms keep us firmly rooted so that we can relax into spontaneity and enjoy the surprises and unexpected opportunities that life brings our way!

To fulfill on setting rhythms in place, requires some time to contemplate and organize, and time again to re-evaluate what works and what doesn’t. What matters most, is that mother’s keep coming back to the question, “what is truly needed here, now?”  This is not to create another standard of the perfect mother; always present and without whims. It is a way of consensus between mother and child, where the true needs of both are met, so that both can expand fully into the freedom of the moment and connection.  It is also a question to keep coming back to, because what is needed is naturally impermanent and therefore calls forth a flexible mind and open heart.  Cultivating presence, allows us to create a life we love living. It helps us feel fulfilled in the tasks of mothering and home making; tasks which can be a moving meditation if we honor them as such.  As our children become more and more fulfilled by our presence and consciousness, they naturally weave out of us, as much as into us, thus gifting us both with endearing connection with them, along with sweet moments of expansive nurturing and sacred time to ourselves.

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