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Tag Archives: Parenting

Plant a Healing Garden

Have you got a few extra feet of unused real estate at your home?   We transformed the unused boulevard in front of our home into a fun project for the neighborhood kids, planting a healing garden and installing a sitting bench in front of our home.   Creating the healing garden was a fun bonding experience that helped the children understand the beauty and power of nature to help us to heal.  Plants are after all, the the oldest medicine that exists.

Here’s how we did it:

Here’s all you need:  

One Flower box, approximately 5 feet x 5 feet.

A variety of plants with healing properties (see below)

Garden Markers

Paint & Stencils (we used the colors of the chakras)

Instructions:

1) If you are doing this project with kids, have everything assembled and ready to go before you engage the children, so that you have their full attention for things they can do, like planting and painting.

Preparing the Stencils

2)  Buy or build a simple flower box, or prepare a flat soil area for seeds and plants.

3) Talk to an expert at your local nursery about native plants that have healing qualities.  We chose these plants, based on availability at our local shop:

-Chamomile:  Most commonly used in tea, it’s leaves and flowers are full of oils that have natural relaxing, sedative qualities and it’s also used as anti-inflammatory for arthritis, rheumatism, etc.

-Aloe Vera: used externally as a natural astringent and emollient for the skin (and it has many internal uses as well!)

-Echinacea:  Used in teas, etc to increase the body’s immunity to colds and flu

-Sage:  the natural oils and tannins in sage have a variety of homeopathic qualities, including being a great antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, astringent and antiseptic.  And and most likely anyone reading this website knows the power of cleansing the house (Smudging) with sage.  Check our article on how to perform a Space Clearing Ceremony here. 

-Lavender: Can help clear up headaches and calm anxiety.  Around the house, lavender is a good insecticide. Pouches of dry lavender put in the drawers among clothes keep clothes smelling good and can keep moths away.

-Lantana:  add to steam for a great natural expectorant, and the oils are also used as an anti-inflammatory in tissue healing

-Poppy: The California poppy has similar medicinal benefits to the opium poppy, although it is much milder, gentler and less addictive. It is even mild enough to be given to children. As an herbal remedy, California poppy tincture or extract is a relaxant and antispasmodic. It has been used to treat such ailments as insomnia, delirium, motion sickness, stress, nervousness, tense jaw and attention deficit disorder.

-Peppermint: Commonly found in everything from toothpaste to gum, sweets, balms and cough medicine, Peppermint can be used to freshen everything from your breath to your home. It’s also used to relieve indigestion, heartburn, allergies and more!

(This is just a short list, there are literally HUNDREDS of medicinal plants you can grow at home :  http://www.liveandfeel.com/medicinalplants.html )

4) Plant and water according to instruction.

The Planting Team. Princess Attire optional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5) Label the plants with your Garden Markers

Choose the team member with the best penmanship to create the markers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6)  Paint your plant box, make it fun.  The kids helped us designate “words” to describe healing plants, and we stenciled “HEAL,”  ”GROW,”  ”LOVE,” and “NURTURE.”

Stenciling our Healing Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young Herbalists

 

 

 

 

 

 

7) We paired our Healing Garden with a Bench the kids call “Sit and Be” and stenciled “SIT”  ”PAUSE”  ”DREAM”  and “BE” on the bench. The drawer contains small toys that we’re recycling for the little ones in the neighborhood.

Sit and Be Bench

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve transformed an otherwise unused boulevard into an art and education project for the kids (and big kids) on our street.

Do you use any healing plants at home?  Which ones do you find work well?

 

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The Big Shift: How to Parent from Your Abundance instead of Your Lack

It’s time for a paradigm shift. We must occupy the role of the parent in a whole new way.

According to a 2007 UNICEF study, American kids rank the second unhappiest of all nations. In the UK, 1 in 10 children under 8 say they are unhappy.

As parents, we naturally and intuitively have dire concerns about how happy our kids are, and worry about the world that they grow up in, but we mostly place our focus on external factors such as other children, media, school and social norms. Very seldom do we look within ourselves, not as parents – but as individuals, and go deep into our own core to reveal how our own internal compass affects our children.

There is an emotional blueprint that we all come with, and it is our most valuable tool to becoming the best parents we can be.  If we want our children to be happy and thrive, to be kind and take care of others and the earth, we need to recognize that it starts with us.  We can’t expect our children to hold a higher consciousness if we do not look at how we define ourselves.

Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who has made it her life work to shift our parental consciousness. She knows well that now IS an incredibly hard time to be kid, and she has seen how our damage as adults affects our parenting. But she has some answers — and tours the world speaking about this shift in parental consciousness. She is author of multi-award-winning book, “The Conscious Parent.”

Her TEDxTalk is powerful, and one of our favorites:

(Video below the transcript):

What is it that emotionally paralyzes us as adults? How is it that we may thrive at this thing called life? Inevitably when we try to answer those questions, our story turns to childhood. And each of us speak of a similar theme; of a hunger only a parent can appease and of a thirst only a parent can quench.

We grapple with our childhood problems long into adulthood. We seek and yearn for approval from our parents even as adults. Many adults visit psychiatrists and beg for help, asking, “Am I whole? Am I worthy? Do I matter?”

But we arrive at that office with a blueprint that is almost impossible even for a psychiatrist to undo. Their words do not seep in because another voice has been internalized, the voice of their parents. Now try erasing that first blueprint. It becomes to be the way we define ourselves. It becomes the air we breathe. Parents: No one holds a greater power or more immense responsibility.

We need to occupy the role of parenthood in an entirely new way, with a new curiosity, a heightened awareness, and transformed commitment. There is nothing like parenthood that needs to be at the forefront of our global consciousness. It affects everything- how our children will thrive, how they take care of themselves, each other, the earth, show compassion, tolerate differences, innovate, create and transform the world. This is where global transformation begins. And it all starts with us. We can’t expect for our children to hold a higher consciousness if we do not embody one ourselves.

And today, our own children face challenges beyond what we ever could have imagined. Evidence suggests they are buckling under the pressure. According to the surgeon general’s office, 1 in 5 children have signs of a mental health disorder. That is a hair-raising statistic. There has been a 274% global increase in prescriptions of ADHD drugs to children. In a 2007 UNICEF study, American kids rank the second unhappiest of all nations. In the UK, 1 in 10 children under 8 say they are unhappy.

Something is clearly amiss. We need to sit up, pay attention, and raise our children differently. Now of course there are many societal factors that can be involved or blamed for these shocking problems and statistics. But nothing – no one – outside a parent could be more influential in making a positive difference.

We each hold trans formative power. In each moment- in the moments where nothing is glamorous; moments where we help them brush their teeth, do their homework, clean their room and wipe their tears, we can be present and make a difference. There is real science that shows how the parental influence impacts a child’s neuroscience.

It is understandable that no parent sets out to be evil. Each parent intends to give love to their child to the best of their current ability. There is only one reason a parent hurts a child. It’s because we are hurting ourselves (and we probably don’t even know it.) It’s because we are unconscious, and have inherited legacies of emotional baggage from our parents. It lies unconscious, dormant, waiting to be woken. Until we have children.

When we lose our tempers with our children, chances are we lash out at them reactively because it has triggered something within us, somewhere inside we want supremacy, something we could not control. When we nitpick at our children, it is not because they are inadequate; it is because of our inner lack, a reflection of something within us that does not feel good enough.

When our children are disrespectful, chances are it is not because they are wild and chaotic; it is because we ourselves have a problem with our leadership, with handling conflict order and with saying no.

Our children come to us whole, complete and worthy – they are happy with 2 sticks, a stone and a feather -but because we have been so conditioned so deeply in an unconscious manner, so severed from our presence and sense of abundance, we project a sense of lack on them. We say do not trust yourself, look outside of yourself. And we teach them to look outward at material objects. The Ferrari, corner office or spouse. We are consumed by “doing.” This is how we create our own value.

We teach them, you cannot just play, you achieve. You can’t just have a hobby, you must excel at it. You cannot just dream, you must dream big. What’s the point in dreaming if you don’t go big?

It’s time to change the spotlight and turn it inward. Change it from being the child who needs to be fixed into parental evolution is the solution. The extent to which we know ourselves is the extent to which our children will. The extent we parents can love deeply, laugh loudly, risk bravely and lose freely -is the extent to which our children will know joy and freedom.

We can no longer play the role as the parent as “the greater than.” We must look at the children as our equal transforming agents. They are our teachers, our awakeners. It is time to answer the call -we must pause reflect more, listen, connect to our own abundance. Trust our children, understand their brilliance, allow their lead to self-love, to create purpose, to enter worth, to be in gratitude – because this is how our children will absorb wholeness and fullness and abundance. And from this place they can fly free.

We must answer our call to our own awakening. The moment is now and our children await.

I know that making some changes in my house is not going to be easy, but I’m going to start with consuming less…clothes, toys, beauty products, etc – and start spending more time outside in nature with the kids.  Does this talk hit home for you?  Where will you start? 

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7 Simple Strategies to Turn Family Holiday Stress Around from Dr. Charlotte Reznick, PhD

holiday stress

“The Holidays” is a perplexing statement in the US – on any given day, it can conjure up either warm feelings of family, gratitude, and tradition — or it can cause stress, headache and sleepless nights. And it’s no wonder – the average American spends 42 hours a year on holiday activities. That’s one standard work week spent shopping, wrapping, and returning presents, attending holiday parties, and traveling from place to place, and often these extra activities are squeezed into already busy schedules.

Before holiday stress and depression ruins your holiday, take a mindful minute to consider these great strategies and simple tips from Dr. Charlotte Reznick to keep the joy alive:

(1) Visualize a heart-filled holiday.

You can do this one at the dinner table. Have everyone in the family close their eyes, focus on their heart, and imagine what kind of holiday will bring joy into their hearts. Then share your ideas around the table. This helps kids feel listened to, cared for, and included.

(2) Give the gift of calmness.

Ancient wisdom and modern research point to the calming effects and health benefits of slow, deep breathing. Make a regular practice of taking 1 to 5 minutes each day of relaxing “balloon breathing.” Breathe in to a count of 3 about 2 inches below the navel, imagining there’s a balloon filling up with air, and out to that same slow count. It’ll center and rebalance every family member to face the joys and inevitable disappointments of the holiday season.

(3) Offer distress a voice.

If this is your child’s first holiday without a loved one – grandpa passed away, or big sister is in Afghanistan – younger family members may feel a deep sense of loss. Or maybe your child is feeling the stress of a recent divorce. Give her paper and markers, and ask her to draw whatever is making her sad or mad. Then ask her what the picture wants to say out loud. Often, putting a face on an emotion and letting it “speak” makes a child feel better – and gives a parent a way to understand what’s going on inside.

(4) Sweat is sweet.

Kids (and adults) can get all pent up during holiday time. Surprise little ones by clearing the furniture out of the center of the room, turning on some fun music, and dancing vigorously for 10 minutes. Or bundle up the family and take a wintry walk while playing “I Spy.” Exercise releases feel-good chemical and is one of the fastest ways to chase away holiday blahs and instill a sense of togetherness.

(5) Blow out negativity, light up hope.

Create a family ritual of hope. Have two candles for each family member: one lit, one not. Have each imagine what they’d like to let go of – what no longer serves them – and say, “I’m going to toss this out (anger, worry, meanness to my sister) when I blow this candle out.” Then light a new candle and share, “I hope to bring in (kindness, faith, cleaning my room) as I light anew.” Let go of the old and bring in the new. You can use one candle to symbolize all, or light up your whole home with several.

(6) Be grateful for who you live with.

Avoid some of the little and big jealousies that crop up from comparing who has a bigger present or counting how many gifts go to whom by starting early and giving gifts of appreciation – to each family member. Take the rest of December and every day have each person share something they appreciate about another (big brother allowing younger sister to hang out in his room). Make a running list and post on the fridge or in the family room to remind each other when stresses build that you really do care about and love each other.

(7) Spread the joy around.

The time-honored tradition of helping others can shift priorities. If kids or teens are moping around or showing signs of stress, take them to the local soup kitchen to serve meals. Visit a nursing home with hand-made cards or offer a free concert. Helping others gives kids a feeling of more control and a sense of being both useful and appreciated.

We hope that these strategies will help you and your family have a wonderful, stress-free holiday this Christmas.

Charlotte Reznick Ph.D., is a child educational psychologist, an Associate Clinical Professor Emeritus of Psychology at UCLA, and author of The Power of Your Child’s Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success (Perigee/Penguin). As the creator of Imagery for Kids: Breakthrough for Learning, Creativity, and Empowerment, a positive coping skills program, Dr. Reznick has pioneered therapeutic interventions, combining visualization and meditation techniques to help children realize their full potential. In addition to her private practice, she creates therapeutic relaxation CDs for children, teens, and parents, and teaches workshops internationally on the healing power of children’s imagination.

 

 

 

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On Children, By Kahlil Gibran

child bow and arrow vintage

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

-Kahlil Gibran (January 6, 1883 – April 10, 1931) was a Lebanese artist, poet, and writer.

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A Blessingway: Shower the Mother-To-Be with Actual Blessings

The world is buzzing with the excitement of Kate Middleton’s royal arrival.  Countless businesses await baby details as fashion lines, books, baby products and toys all plan to launch goods inspired by the royal romper.

Now, more than ever, pregnancy is viewed in a glamorous and glorified light (as it should be).  However, much of the baby mania revolves around fashion, the latest baby products and nursery design.  We gather for baby showers and open gift after gift, often letting the tradition blind us to the very reason we have gathered…to shower the mother and baby with enough love and support to carry them through their relationship together.

A Blessingway is a Navajo Ritual created to spiritually support and empower the new mother for her journey of birthing and motherhood. In recent times, this beautiful ritual has been adapted as an alternative to baby showers, where the focus tends to be more on the gifts and the baby, rather than on the mother and her experience.  Support doesn’t stop with the Blessingway — mothers frequently pray for the mom each day until the baby arrives… or even light a candle when they hear she’s in labor. This support can mean so much to a laboring woman.

Most of the time a Blessingway is specifically for women. You should consider your guest list carefully. Invite only those very close to the mother, or those older women that she looks up to. It may be best to work on the guest list with the mother.

Here are some ideas from Natural Birth and Baby Care on how to structure your own Blessingway ceremony:

  • Prayers, poems, and blessings: a traditional way to bless somebody is to say a prayer for them, to write and/or read a poem for them, or to say or find a special blessing for them. Something of this nature is ideal for a Blessingway. You can ask each participant to bring something they’ve found or written to bless the mother.  You can compile the prayers/poems/blessings into a small, beautiful journal or notebook for the mother. If some prayers are going to be created on the spot you could record with a small tape recorder and later transcribe them to be given to the mother.
  • Every guest is asked to bring a flower that reminds them of the Mother. These flowers are used to make a simple crown for the mamma which is then placed on her head at the beginning of the circle, while everyone is talking and getting acquainted. At a certain point everyone can say which flower they brought and why.
  • Guests are also asked to bring an offering from nature like a small crystal, a feather, or a rock. These are offered to the Mamma and placed in  a box or on a special altar plate that she can keep to remind her of everyone’s well wishes for her during the birth.
  • Beads: A favorite Blessingway tradition. It is so simple and anybody can do this, even if they cannot attend the Blessingway. Have each person invited bring or send a bead that they have picked for the mother. The bead should be something the guest has picked with the mother in mind.  At the Blessingway string all the beads onto a cord for the mother to wear during labor. Many mothers have said that these birth beads give them strength and focus during labor. It is a powerful and tangible way to show your love and the community support that surrounds the mother.
  • Belly Cast: A belly cast is a fun activity that can be done at the Blessingway. Many mothers enjoy having a belly cast done. It’s a slightly messy and light-hearted activity that will bring smiles to everyone. It also gives the mother a lovely keepsake of her body full of baby. Later the mom can decorate the belly cast however she likes, or she can leave it simple and untouched.
  • Belly Painting: Another fun activity is to paint the mother’s belly. You can use henna paints or any non-toxic (preferably natural) body paints. The mother may have a design she would like, something of special significance. You can talk it over with the mother beforehand and decide what she would like. Henna paint may work especially well because it could last until the birth, if the mother wants.
  • Lighting Candles: Lighting a candle at the Blessingway is a lovely way to bring a sacred feel to the atmosphere. Or you can ask each guest to bring a candle to light during their blessing for the mother. Afterwards each guest will take her candle home and light it when she hears the mother is in labor.
  • Washing Feet and Brushing Hair: Washing a mother’s feet in warm water gently scented by essential oils is a lovely way to show support for her. Many mothers also love to have their hair brushed. This feminine activity is very soothing and empowering to the mother.
  • Make “Help” Lists: Though not truly part of the ceremony, you should consider having each guest write down a meal that they are committed to bringing for the mother after her baby is born. Alternately each guest can bring a pre-made frozen meal, if the mother has space in her freezer. Each guest should also sign up for a period of housework in the days after the baby is born.  You will be amazed how much this simple gift of food and time will bless the mother and her child. It is a gift given with a servant’s heart, and it brings peace, love, and joy to the new family.
  • You or another guest take responsibility for organizing and overseeing the help. The mother shouldn’t have to do anything. At the Blessingway tell her of your plans and assure her you have it all taken care of.

Creating this sacred space of honor and blessings is something the child or mother will never outgrow. Create a meaningful passage for your next little soul.  Life is about supporting one another, and what better way to start than at the beginning.

If you enjoyed this article, you will also like: “3 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Live Their Life Purpose”. 

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