10.08.2009

Baking Cookies for the Neighbors

When is the last time you baked cookies for a neighbor or cooked some extra dinner and took it to a friend who is struggling to find time to cook? Did you know that doing such activities for others is actually a way to increase the health and well-being of your own children and family? I read an inspiring newsletter this morning on social capital and the value of reaching out to our neighbors. While the newsletter was not intended strictly for parents, it reminded me of the 5 Protective Factors that parents need in order to parent effectively, even under stress, and to diminish the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. This is according to extensive research conducted by Strengthening Families. One of the protective factors is Social Connections. Parents need “friends, family members, neighbors and other members of a community who provide emotional support and concrete assistance to” them.
“Social connections build parents’ “social capital,” their network of others in the community—family, friends, neighbors, churches, etc.—whom they can call on for help solving problems. Friendships lead to mutual assistance in obtaining resources that all families need from time to time, including transportation, respite child care, and other tangible assistance as well as emotional support. Helping parents build constructive friendships and other positive connections can reduce their isolation, which is a consistent risk factor in child abuse and neglect. Isolation is a problem in particular for family members who are in crisis or need intensive help, such as victims of domestic violence.” (source)
With that in mind, below are some ideas from the newsletter: Engage in Dough Diplomacy - Bake Cookies for a Neighbor from Center for a New American Dream
Taking action by supporting legislation or greening your home is important, but don't forget that we can also take action in our social lives. New Dream has always believed that change begins with our everyday choices: investing in relationships builds happier people and a stronger community--and may be good for your health. Which is why we're asking you to bring a neighbor some cookies.

Between the mid 1980's and the 1990's, Americans' openness to making new friends declined by about a third. A 2000 Harvard study found that one-third of Americans no longer participate in social activities like inviting people to their home or visiting relatives. Reaching out to others doesn't just add meaning to our lives--it's part of what makes up social capital, the shared values and trust that keep a society together and running smoothly.

Luckily, it doesn't take a lot of your own capital to simply bake some cookies (or any other treat) and share them with a neighbor you don't know. Think of it as the most fun and delicious way to make the world into what you want it to be: an open, trusting place full of people who will wave to you on the sidewalk. As a family activity, making and sharing homemade goodies is a way to have more face-to-face time and less screen time. So go ahead--knock on that door and then tell us what happened and how it made you feel.
cookies photo by emilybean

This post originally appeared at Community of Mindful Parents.

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posted by ashley

5.31.2009

Do You Know of Any Interactive Online Social Spaces For a School Parent Body

Do you know of any school communities that have an active online space where parents communicate with each other online... perhaps a blog, online forum, social media network? I am trying to help a school community that is interested in having a simple social space where parents can share resources, invitations, ask questions of one another, tell stories, and see what else might emerge. Thanks for sharing any links you know of for other such community sites.

inline... online...
photo by foreversouls

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posted by ashley

2.06.2009

An Invisible String That Will Stretch and Not Break

photo by D.Hyuk

An amazing story about the bond between a mother and a daughter. I think it's a beautiful analogy that any family could play with.
Meredith has an ongoing story about an "invisible string" attaching her to her mother. This story began in a literal manner, when she at age two would wrap one end of a string around her mother and then wrap the other end around her own wrist and say that they were "connected forever." The string has morphed into an invisible string, that will "stretch and not break" when necessary, such as when she is at preschool. We have come to think of this string as an indication of her internal emotional state and a metaphor for managing separation.

For example, after a long and challenging day recently, she said that the string was very short and would break if her mother left her side. Her baby sister started crying, however, so then she added that her magic wand had turned the string into a "long golden thread that would stretch and not break" while her mother tended to the baby. "But," she warned, "when Rosie stops crying, it will turn back into a very short string that can break easily." She mentions the string every month or two, and we have come to appreciate her use of creativity and abstraction in expressing her psychological state.

~Seattle Mom

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posted by ashley

1.27.2009

The Committed Parent



I've been catching up on my online reading tonight... returning to the open tabs that have been patiently waiting for my attention. This last hour I've been captivated reading Mark Brady over at The Committed Parent. My mind is spinning with thoughts about synaesthesia, the many different ways that our brains work, the value of teaching children about deeply listening to their bodies and honoring what they hear, "the importance of creative allies - significant people who “get” us in ways that allow us to feel embraced and welcomed in all our weirdness and divergence." I am deeply moved by the loving story of the death of a dear heart and the impact of taking the time to teach someone to dance, and my mind is so curious about all the different brain functions and conditions like heterotopagnosia.

Mark is a talented writer that marries storytelling, science, education, art and inquiry into very inspiring offerings. Do check him out... and thank you, Mark.

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posted by ashley

2.24.2005

"happy mornings"

its presidents day and i am off on a trail ride with my husband. as i awake my first job was to get the children to school. i was very excited as the weather was wonderful. i got the children up and dressed and made them breakfast. jared was sitting quiet and calm and i said to him "jared, you are very relaxed this morning" and his reply was " well mom, you are letting me have a happy morning" my heart SANK, as i realised that because i was happy and relaxed,jared was able to be the same, other mornings when im flying around the house stressed to the max, projects onto him and shapes the way he feels. i said to him that from now on i was going to make a conscious effort to stay relaxed and happy so that he and zoe can start their day relaxed and happy too. i was sooo glad he told me this as so far i have kept my word and to my surprise i have a much better day. my concerns that i had on being able to communicate to my children and them to me are fading each time incidents like this happen and jared was also self aware of what was causing his change in his mornings (COOL!) thank you sweet jared for another wonderful lesson learnt!.

Comments:

Welcome to the time honoured art of holding space.


Gravatarthanks chris, i'm floating right now!!!

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posted by maria

2.19.2005

Practice of Play

at integral naked there's a discussion on Play as Practice. below are some of my thoughts on the subject... of course, i'd love to hear yours!


let's play! let's get down in the mud, roll around, get ourselves dirty, and pee in our pants just the tiniest bit from laughing so hard!

let us celebrate this opportunity to share our ideas and stories and opinions and beliefs. let us laugh outloud as we read and write, a smile curling about our lips, the face of confusion or contemplation taking our features for hostages... transforming our bodies into clear expressions of that which is moving through. fully engaged, let us be seduced by the flavors and sounds and textures and magic catching our attention. let us follow our sensations sharing the ground of discovery with our open eyes and curious minds, diving into the deliciousness of Being. oh, yes, let us play.

play is vital. rather than it being something partitioned off as separate from "normal" life, let's imagine it as a basis of one's mode of operation. DavidD quotes J.P. Carse:
When we are playful with each other we relate as free persons.
relating in the world as a free person touches a fundamental core of our essence. once tickled at the core, this quality of relating has potential to permeate our thoughts, emotions and actions.

for me, play is the heart of doing. for example, moving through the motions of making cereal for breakfast can be a task to be completed or one can play while making the cereal, engaging in the delight of the present moment -- hearing the Fruity Pebbles fall into the bowl, watching the milk pour, feeling that suction as the refrigerator pulls the door close upon being shut, noticing the cereal swishing around as it's carried to the table. on the surface it all looks the same, and yet the flow of the experience is free and playful, a simple act has become fun. play is the heart that brings action to Life.
It is, in fact, seriousness that closes itself to consequence, for seriousness is a dread of the unpredictable outcome of open possibility. To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for possibility whatever the cost to oneself. ~J.P. Carse
i really appreciate this line. i wonder, how do you define seriousness? to embrace the Practice of Play, it seems important to recognize when we are not at play, to recognize when seriousness is stealing the show and collapsing possibilities.

as always, it's a treat to play with you in this world of words and thoughts!

Comments:

Oh wonderful play! whom better to re-educate ourselves is from our own children. just the yesterday ashley, myslef,jared and zoe did just what you said and laughed soooo hard that our tummy's hurt. the situation arose when i was sitting on floor with zoe coloring,and she accidently marked my arm with the marker. she apologized and on impulse i put a dot on her nose and she giggled. the incident caught jared's attention, he sat by us and drew on his nose. oh my! then the fun began we all started to color our faces with all different colors,red,green,black, brown and yellow, looking at each other just sent us roaring with laugthter. my husband turned to see what all the laughter was about and just shook his head and told us that we were silly, but i just didnt care as that feeling of laughing sooo much was sooo worth it. i had not laughed like that in a while! then we all got up and looked in the mirror and just fell about the place in fits of laughter. let our kids take us on these wonderful experiences. let them take you by the hand and allow them to show you the countless possibilties of play!
thank you zoe and jared for reminding me how to play! love mom!


Gravatar(big smile)

when do we get to see the picture?

love,


Gravatarin my excitmnet of the moment i forgot! (bummer) but i will remember next time. oh and i forgot to add that they were washable markers (ha)
love,maria


GravatarMmm, I'm so glad I stopped by at this happy place for a few minutes this weekend! Here's some more from the playful genius who is J. P. Carse (I know you like these Ashley):

Surprise causes finite play to end;
it is the reason for infinite play to continue.

To be prepared against surprise is to be trained.
To be prepared for surprise is to be educated.

David


Gravatari'm so glad you stopped by also, david.

thanks a ton for those quotes, they've inspired me to alter a practice of mine. i frequently notice when i get "knocked off track"... when i'm in the flow and then all of a sudden i am not connected anymore. usually i ponder the shift, the cause for the shift, the disruption that has occured in me, the emotion that i may now be stuck on, etc.

my new practice is that i am now first noting that i am surprised... and then i reflect on
how the infinite play can continue from this moment of surprise. that which follows still looks the same in my practice (same questions,
same avenues explored)... but instead of walking into the reflection with the taste of disruption on my toungue, i now walk in with the wonder of surprise in my spirit.
thank you for this gift, david....

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posted by ashley

1.25.2005

Acceptance within

As I sit and wonder about the many many times one has to deal with each different feeling throughout the course of a day, I as an adult having lots of practice, begin to think of the tremendous task our young children have to face. Most of the day they are without their parents guidence, which is why I choose to invest time with my children on how to deal with their feelings as much as I can. Time worth spent, when one evening my husband and I went out to dinner and our baby sitter,jennifer was keeping jared and zoe overnight for the first time. They absolutely adore jen so i had no worries on how they would be. As i entered the house at 10pm the phone rang and it was jen letting me know that someone wants to come home. i asked who it was (it was zoe) and i immediatly asked if she was crying. Her words to me were "actually, she is quite calm and happy, i tried just one time to persuade her to stay, but her message was crystal clear" i spoke to zoe and said "zoe, do you not want to stay with jen?" she calmly replied "no mama i just want to come home" So I went and got her. driving home i realised how zoe was totally in control of her own feelings,accepting how she felt,no anxiety or worry of her wish not being granted. her communication lines were wide open and clear. i was soooo excited and felt a huge relief as now it was confirmed to me that my 5yr old was on a wonderful adventure of self acceptance and also trust in me. as insignificant and trivial it may seem now, this ability to deal and have confidence in how she feels will be a huge benefit to her self worth. how much we can teach our children when we invest our time!

Comments:

her communication lines were wide open and clear. ... it was confirmed to me that my 5yr old was on a wonderful adventure of self acceptance and also trust in me.

it's so encouraging to read stories of how trust is built, clear communication encouraged, and how self-acceptance is nourished and inspired to grow. i'm moved by how conscious you are of actively developing such skills in your children rather than working so hard to GIVE them to your children.

i'm thinking about how often people think that if they show a child tons of acceptance and constantly tell them how wonderful they are, then the child will automatically realize it and integrate it for themselves... how sometimes that praise is empty and the child comes to depend on others for their own sense of worth. i love these stories that illustrate otherwise.

and i am eternally interested in the fruits that come through any relationship by simply
... investing our time!

thank you again for sharing.

with love,
ashley


GravatarWOW! That's so AWESOME! I'm so proud of Zoe; I feel like she's my own daughter!

Inspiring.

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posted by maria

1.04.2005

The healing world of play!

Sitting one evening reading my daughter Zoe a bed time story my phone rang and it was a good friend of mine very upset as her 3yr old great nephew had been burnt with a cigarette on his chest by his mother. In my shocked response to her I repeated what she had told me not realizing that Zoe was all ears (I guess the intensity in my voice caught her attention) I did what I could to consol my friend and hopefully gave her the advise she needed. I was mortified by the sheer thought of what had happened to this poor baby and began to think of how painfull this would have been for him.
I sat for a moment and Zoe said to me " did the baby get burnt Mama" I looked at her sadley and said "yes darling,he did" "is he going to be ok" I took her hand and reflected back to her how worried and concerned she was. she asked again if he was going to be ok. I reflected once more on how it made her feel sad that the baby was burnt and that I was sure Ju Ju(the great aunt who Zoe knows well) will put some cream on it for him. I kissed her on the cheek and told her that I loved her so much.
Afew days later she was changing the diaper on her baby doll and I noticed that there was a band aid on its chest. I said "Zoe whats wrong with your baby" ( I,remembering the baby who was burnt) she replied "she got burnt" then proceeded to remove the band aid and turned to me and said "see Mama she's all better now" I replied "yes sweetheart, she is"

I wondered how many other children were going through the same horrific ordeals and all I could do was hold onto the hope that the advice I gave my friend was enough to protect the little boy and Zoe was able to deal with the sadness through her toys.

Comments:

oh maria,

you soooo capture the magic of play. thank you again for this story and all the ones to come. i trust you know how my heart melts and leaps as you share of the wonders unfolding and the opportunities for experiencing and FEELING the many peeks and vallies of life that you facilitate and embrace with yourself and your relations (especially your kids). thank you.

all my love,
ashley


thank you for your story, Maria. you are an amazing person.

peace,
kelley


Ashley.
It's funny that if we would only allow it, how the fountain of life can flow. If we would open the doors to our hearts the way our children naturally do, how beautiful this world would be! thank you once again for you endless encouragement!
Love,Maria


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posted by maria

12.29.2004

Sibling limits

Each day I take a moment to reflect on how my day was, enjoying and savouring every moment with my children and trying to learn to deal with the new challenges they throw my way. Today I found myself thinking of the time when my 5 year old daughter Zoe came running to me whining because my 6 year son Jared was poking at her. I reflected back to her that it aggrivated her when her brother did this and that she was to use her words to tell him to stop. She carried on whining so he carried on poking at her. Again I asked her to tell him to stop, but she refused. She wanted me to tell him and as much as I wanted to fix it for her I knew if I did she would never learn to build confidence in herself to tell him or anyone else to stop when she wished it.

As she stood at my feet her body facing mine, I lent against the wall confused as what to do next. I then said to my son "Jared, doesn't the whining drive you crazy?" His reply was "Yes, but I want HER to tell me to stop." There was a moment of silence and then Zoe turned to Jared and asked him to stop. He granted her her wish and walked away. I stood for a moment speechless, it totally blew my mind as I found this very exciting as a parent to be able to let my kids work it out for themselves and to give THEM control of thier own actions. How easily situations can be resolved if you give your children enough trust and faith to fix it for themselves. I continue to practise this now, as when there comes a time when I am not around I can feel comfortable that they will be able sort out thier differences.I contunually encourage Zoe as I know we all learned a special lesson that day!

Comments:

Maria Darling!

You have been extolled to the heavens by our dear friend, Ashley, so I was compelled to indulge in your latest offering!

Tonight over dinner Ashley and I were talking about the importance of coming to an explicit recognition/understanding of those things that are yet only intuited, or lacking the manifest forms of words and concrete cognition.

Reading your account of the scenario with your children, and how you oriented yourself toward them and their conflict, cloaked my intuition/implicit understanding in the mantle of words, making concrete and SPECIFIC what was only held in my awareness as a vague principle.

After absorbing your words, my own explicit understanding of how to foster empowering conflict resolution increased exponentially, and I had the distinct impression that in the future (whether that be tomorrow or years from now) that I will be able to approach conflict--my own and others--in such a way that lends itself to the successful end you described in your post. (In other words, you have given me an invaluable gift, and as I have opportunity to employ and impart it in my own life, I will remember the night I read your words and how instrumental they were to my own growth and happiness.)

THANK YOU, Maria!

Love,
Brandy


GravatarDear Brandy,

Yes our dear friend indeed! for Ashley is responsible for giving me this gift and I will forever be in her debt. Her very presence thrills me as I know she is the only person who really feels and understands how precious my children are to me.
and you sweet Brandy, after reading your comments I humbly bow, but am thrilled that you too were able to rejoice and feel.

Thankyou!
with love,Maria


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posted by maria

12.16.2004


~story people

vacation and celebration time. i'm off to explore parts of this big state i've yet to see and celebrate two years well spent in texas being educated and growing... growing... growing... learning to hear the music everywhere and bowing humbly when all i can say is thank you.

Comments:

Dearest Ashley. How easily our emotional balance is tipped. How easily our emotional partners are switched. Skipping along, skip,skip,skip, a sunny happy day and my heart is light. I trip "oh no" as I stumble I reach out my arms to try to catch my fall. Its dark now and the rain drops fall from my cheeks. I stand back and observe and learn as the partner of sadness steps in. Deep breath in accepting and knowing that lightness is patiently waiting to return! I will smile again. ~


GravatarStory! "Mama you don't love me anymore" said my 6year old son. I stopped in my tracks turned and looked straight at him, I raised my eybrows and smiled, he returned the same facial expression for he remembered that when ever he thought I did not love him to come and tell me and I would give him a very special hug and kiss. This went on for another five times(laughing and playing) as after 50 kisses and hugs he was now convinced he was loved. You are in my thoughts always as through your wonderful advice I am able to express my love through the eyes of my child and in a way for him to understand in his world. I am forever in your debt for the very thought of not experiencing these "treasured moments" saddens me.
God bless you especially in this Holy season, sweet Ashley.
Hugs and kisses,Maria

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posted by ashley

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