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Steady State

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Bellwether and Boatswain: My partner is a fully engaged attachement co-parentDear Partner,

When I met you, I thought it would be fun to have a summer romance with you. It was a summer filled with sailing, partying, and a lot of laughter.

As I got to know you better, I came to realize how complex you were. It was fascinating and a little frightening to realize that we both wanted to stick with each other for longer than just that summer.

Fast forward 14 years later and I was just making up my mind about whether I would ever want to have children. You amazed me how you wanted children, but you were willing to stay with me even if I never did. You never once questioned me or pushed me, even when you knew I began thinking about it.

That must have gotten your hopes up, but you listened and discussed without bias. You supported me as I explored what it would mean to become a parent.

Tandem babywearing father

Tandem babywearing father

When I became pregnant and started learning about this whole pregnancy, birth, and parenting shebang, you again listened to this “new” idea of homebirth and while it was scary for you, you learned about it and came to support it with your whole heart.

Every step of the way, from breastfeeding to babywearing to disciplining without punishment to unschooling, you’ve been there. Most of the time, you’ve been a step behind me when I’ve been learning about creative solutions to the parenting issues that come up. But, you are always ready to give unwavering support, even when we don’t agree. Even when we argue about particular areas.

Both of us chose to step away from our own experiences and create our family in the way we envision it. We have both also chosen to do this while reflecting on the things we liked and didn’t like from our childhoods. Both of us have made decisions without blame for our own families, but rather with a sense of gratitude for what our parents gave us.

Babywearing and giving an archery lesson

Babywearing and giving an archery lesson like a boss

When our families ask questions about how we parent and homeschool, you answer so matter-of-factly that it makes holding a 3 week old baby over a potty seem normal. You focus on the wonderful moments in our lives, so those outside our family don’t know about how intense and difficult things are much of the time.

I tend to take the lead in researching and trying out parenting and learning strategies, but you walk the arguably more challenging path. You trust me, the kids, and most of all, yourself. Thinking about it now, I wonder who is captaining this boat. But, really it captains itself. You and I are bellwether and boatswain.

It must not be easy to take this role. I think you’re often seen as being dragged along by me. We have both heard comments like “are you babysitting the kids today?” and “your wife must be glad that you took them off her hands for awhile.”

Long nights with sick babies

Long nights with sick babies

But, they don’t know the multiple all-night baby rocking, snuggling babywearing, dinner cooking, grocery shopping, bedsharing, homeschool project enabling, post partum depressed wife hugging full time parent and husband that you are. They don’t see that you are the architect of this life that we have built together.

They don’t see the quiet fearlessness that I saw out on that boat on the Charles River that comes in handy when you’re bouncing two sick babies on the birth ball for hours because it’s the only thing that keeps them from crying. They don’t see that when I freak out about choosing to go away from the mainstream, you are the one that keeps us from capsizing. You are the one letting out the spinaker so we can sail faster past the rocks and out into the bay.

Thank you for being the bravest, most gentle person I will ever know.

Love your partner,

Zoie

PS: Keep this bookmarked for the next time I yell at you.

How do you and your partner been about parenting decisions that differ from your own experiences as a child? I’d love to hear from you.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Always an Artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to ‘stay the same’ and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I’m AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • ‘The Other Mums’ and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the ‘great big magic show of life’ and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn’t change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else’s children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband’s military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it “Normal” — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama’s World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn’t kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband’s MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband’s baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren’t Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter’s early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now – Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family’s default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we’ve taken to promote “breast is best,” Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

Mindful Media: Book Reviews, DVDs, and CDsIf I’ve done it right, this post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

We read a lot of books about living mindfully in my family and I love hearing from others when they come across a book that they or their kids liked. We also use other media like movies, music, and spoken word to talk about and practice mindfulness. In this continuing series, I’ll be writing posts about the mindful media that my kids and I recommend. Feel free to share any you’ve come across in the comments and if it looks like it might be a nice complement to the one I’m reviewing, I’ll be happy to review it or add a link to it in my post.
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The Listening Walk Cover

The Listening Walk Cover

The Listening Walk


by Paul Showers
Illustrated by Aliki

This book tells the story of what happens when you stop thinking and start listening as you walk. When I stumbled upon this gem of a book, I was thrilled to share what the mindfulness practices of moving meditation and listening are with my kids.

 

In the book, a girl, her father, and her slow-moving dog, Major, go for a walk together. It’s a walk where they don’t talk, instead they listen.

 

She says, “We go down the street and we do not talk. My father puts his hands in his pockets and thinks. Major walks ahead and sniffs. I keep still and listen.”

 

She hears many sounds on her walk. She notes the sounds things make like the twik, twik, twik of her dog’s toenails on the sidewalk.

 

The book is a relaxing read. Both the drawings and text move along at smooth, contemplative pace, like the girl in the book. It invites more active kids to talk about things they see in the book, to imitate the sounds or talk about sounds they hear. It invites those less inclined to talk while reading to observe the enjoyment one can get from being quiet-an important point for more introverted kids to feel validated without directly addressing temperament.

 

The pacing of the book can give all personality types an understanding of a vibrant inner life. It’s never too early to begin cultivating the idea of the benefits of creating space inside for quiet and stillness. For many kids and adults, the idea that meditating can be done while moving the body makes mindfulness more attainable.

 

You can still have the wiggles while creating inner space. You don’t need to carve out special time to be mindful. You generate mindfulness while in the flow of life. It takes practice and a willingness to listen to yourself and others without judgement.

 

One of the things I like about this book is toward the end, the girl says she can take a listening walk whenever she likes. She doesn’t even need to go on a walk to listen. She can be still and silent in her own space. She takes mindfulness with her wherever she goes.

 

True listening is not always easy. It is a skill we develop with practice. Often the best place to learn to do this is to let the mind rest as you hear your environment. It’s a great lesson for parents and kids to practice together with this book.

 

 

Activities to create with this book:

  • StoryTRACK Book Activity for The Listening Walk (bestbeginnings)
  • The Listening Walk at Teach Preschool includes a printable checklist and what happened when the kids went for a listening walk to check items off on a list. While this takes away the mindfulness aspect, it can be a good way for kids to get started.
  • Go for a listening walk and give kids a blank paper notebook or clip board so they can draw or write down what they think makes the noises they hear or drawing what the sounds look like to them.
  • After a listening walk, talk about what it feels like inside to listen. Did their minds go to interesting new places? Did they always name things or did they sometimes get lost in the many things around them? Were they surprised by how many noises they heard when they really listened?
  • Do an online search for a local labyrinth walk. Many churches have them and they are often underutilized. Ask if there are certain times when children might be welcome to walk the labyrinth. If there isn’t a local labyrinth walk, create one at home. Even tracing a finger labyrinth can be a part of moving meditation. You can buy finger labyrinths or print out paper versions. They’re great for mindful coloring practice, too. Again, suggest that kids notice what they experienced during the “walk.”
  • Do a listening walk at a time when you need to change the energy of what’s going on around you. It’s mindfulness in action-any action. So, if everyone is feeling out of control, listening for the sounds underneath the sounds we are actively making can turn a potential melt down into a playful curiosity about the differences between ambient and active noises.
    Nature soundtracks can be a great aid for this.
  • My favorite activity to do with my kids is inspired from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ ‘Ministry of Silly Walks.'” We do the silliest walks we can while one of us whispers words. We have to listen very carefully to hear the “freeze” word of the day or for a particular sound that someone identifies. This is a great rainy day game because it gets us moving and practicing listening to each other. Once we hear the word or the sound, we freeze in the silliest position of our silly walk. The game becomes progressively harder as the laughter becomes louder.
  • For any of these activities, be available later for anything kids might like to share. Often, when kids have a meditative experience, they will feel inspired to share something that had been on their mind recently. Be an attentive, present listener if you’re trusted with their feelings. Listening takes practice, no matter what your age.
Related Posts You May Like:

Have you read any good books lately? I’d love to hear from you.

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Disclosure: If I did this right, there are affiliate links in this post. You can read my full disclosure policy here.

Mindfulness: There's An App For That on TouchstoneZ

Much has been written about the disconnect created by our constant ability to receive information. More than ever, carving out a space for ourselves to experience full presence while living with ready access to distraction is important for our well-being.

Technology can also be a tool to help with mindfulness. For example, we can learn about mindfulness practices, set alarms to remind us to practice, and record our experiences.

My goal with this series is to share mobile apps that I have found especially useful in cultivating mindfulness practices. I believe that harnessing the power of our handheld distraction devices has the potential to integrate mindfulness into our already overfull lives. Or, as a friend aptly noted, bring balance to the force.

Smile More App Splash Screeenshot

Smile More App Splash Screeenshot

Today’s app is, called:

Smile More
by Jaidev Soin
Developer Website
iTunes Store
Version I demo: 1.1.1 on iPhone
Cost: Free, with ads or $1.99 without ads


 

 

 

 

Smile More is a an app that you can set up reminders to come up as alerts on your iPhone. You can choose from a list of 20 different reminders within 5 different categories, such as: “It will get better reminders,” “relaxation reminders,” and “benefits of smiling reminders.”

 

 
You can set up the reminders in iterations between one to nine times during any set time period each day. The reminders will pop up randomly during that time, which is nice because you don’t have them popping up when you know you won’t see them, such as when sleeping.

 

 

 

Smile More App Reminders Screenshot

Smile More App Reminders Screenshot

The list of reminders is quite effective for targeting the mindfulness area you are concentrating on, such as in the “it will get better reminders,” “let it go. The future is bright” or “Everything will work out in the end.” When I was battling post partum depression, I set up the “you are special reminders” section to remind me “you have family and friends who love you” and “you are worthy of the life you desire.” It helped me to stay grounded when everything seemed overwhelming.

 

 

 

The free version of Smile More allows you to select up to three reminders to pop up every day and includes a banner ad at the bottom of the settings screens. The paid version removes the ads and allows you to select as many reminders as you would like.

Smile More App Choices Screenshot

Smile More App Choices Screenshot

 

 

 

Other than supporting the app developer, which always a good thing to do, the paid version isn’t really necessary just to eliminate the ads that you only see when changing the settings. They don’t show up in the alerts and chances are, you’ll just set it and leave it, with occasional tweaks to change time or reminders. The ads that I have seen so far have been kid-friendly and not obnoxiously blinking.

 

 

 

If you find you want more than three reminders in a day, then the paid version is the way to go, of course. Although, there are other free apps available that you can use instead of or along with this one, such as Mindfulness Timer.

 

 

If you try this app, I’d enjoy hearing how you use it in the comments.

 

 

Consider adding this app to your device, between Candy Crush and Twitter to bring a little mindfulness into your device, won’t you?

Do you have a mindfulness app that you recommend or one that you would like me to review? Please let me know in the comments below. I would enjoy hearing from you.

Related articles

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(Disclosure Update: If I’ve done it right, this post includes affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.)

The twins will be 15 months old on December 25th. While they look alike and hit many of the same milestones, I’ve observed that they have been unique individuals since I could first differentiate their movements in the womb.

 

We met a gregarious Santa who got a kick out of holding twins. When he laughed loudly, it was interesting how they each reacted to him.

 

Santa holding twins

Can you guess who wanted to hang with Santa awhile and who wanted mom?

Got any cute holiday photos for Wordless Wednesday? Please leave a comment below. I’d enjoy seeing them.

 

Welcome to the December edition of the Simply Living Blog CarnivalGift Giving cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. This month, we write about taking the stress out of gift giving.

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What this gift guide is:

A way to key in on how and why gifts are given. Hopefully after reading, it will help make the choice of how and why we give in relation to how and why we appreciate gifts we are given.

What this gift guide is not:

A list of gifts that will make someone appear mindful. Nor is it list of gifts for someone into mindfulness.

This guide also is not deciding whether one motivation for giving is better than another.

 

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Most of us think we are thoughtful gift givers. Many of us spend a lot of time picking out the perfect gift for someone, even though wishlists are readily available on many popular sites. We can easily ask and almost instantaneously receive a response for specific items that we know will be wanted by the receiver.

Whether or not we enjoy the hunt for the perfect gift, the research about how a giver and the receiver feels about a gift is intriguing. Once we understand our motivations, we can then make the mindful choice about why we are choosing a particular gift. Whether it is for our excitement of the hunt, the recipient’s pleasure in the receipt, our enjoyment in their gratitude or some combination of these.

Giving has four main motivations:

1. Surprise

We hope that our present will be an unknown for the recipient because of the thrill of surprise.

2. Suspense

We hope that the anticipation of finding out what the gift is will be an enjoyable experience for our intended receiver.

3. Sacrifice

We hope that our time, effort and money spent will be appreciated.

4. Sharing

We hope that our feelings of excitement for the surprise, suspense, and sacrifice will expand to include the recipient. We also hope that the gift itself is an expression of our wish to share.

This leads us to the symbolic value and the instrumental value of giving a gift. The giver finds where each of these matter in relation to each other when purchasing. The belief is that if the balance is right, it will be a thoughtful gift.

The symbolic value of a gift is what means to the giver. The instrumental value of a gift is its usefulness to either person.

Yet, it can be extremely difficult to decide how the recipient will feel about both instrumental and symbolic value, much less how they will feel about the balance between them. Expectations about how thoughtful or valuable the gift will be received, as well as the amount of gratitude expressed can also be a large factor within each of these motivations. It is important to look at motivations and then give freely or state charges up front so the giver isn’t disappointed and the recipient doesn’t feel resentful.

Studies show that the giver is focused on all of the things they considered before selecting the gift. They pay more attention to the cost or perceived usefulness of an item in relation to the choices they did not purchase. “What is surprising is that gift-givers have considerable experience acting as both gift-givers and gift-recipients, but nevertheless tend to overspend each time they set out to purchase a meaningful gift.” (Flynn, Adams)

They are also prone to focus more on their own feelings, rather than the recipients due to the four romanticized giving motivations. Getting caught up in their motivations, the giver believes that they are being more thoughtful because of the money, time and effort they spent on gift, regardless of whether their ideas meet with the requests of the recipient, whether implied or explicit.

In gift exchange, gift givers may fail to pay close attention to what a gift recipient directly requests. Instead, they may believe that purchasing an unrequested item will signal a sincere concern for the recipient because of the effort they have made to identify a seemingly appropriate gift, thus rendering the gift more personal and thoughtful. (Gino, Flynn)

But the recipient isn’t aware of that list of choices. They only see the end result: the gift they received. It doesn’t matter to them, like it does to the giver, that this item was chosen out of all the others that were considered. The giver can look directly at a wishlist and decide to choose something else, because to them, it feels the more thoughtful choice.

Yet gift recipients may be frustrated when givers do not take note of their explicit suggestions. Gift recipients will likely consider gifts they requested as more thoughtful and considerate of their needs than those not requested because the former indicate that the giver is attentive and responsive. (Gino, Flynn)

So, where does this leave us for choosing the gift that doesn’t miss the mark? The studies show that the most thoughtful gifts are those that are either explicitly asked for or cash or gift cards. However, they place the emphasis on the recipient’s opinion. It is important to factor in the giver’s motivations and satisfaction in choosing and giving.

Once we look at how we are choosing a gift, then we can decide how to do it with mindfulness. It is certainly a relief to know that if we don’t have time or energy to spend in picking out a gift ourselves, that money or an item that is explicitly requested will be best appreciated by the recipient.

There is nothing wrong with giving gifts the same way we always do. There isn’t anything wrong with disliking the ideas the studies support. Once we look at the data and notice any sticky places they bring up for us, we can let go of those places that were stuck. It helps us to give with thoughtfulness.

Of course, the recipient won’t know any of the mental steps we took to decide in our giving anyway. So, if we mindfully choose to go with a balance of the information from the studies and our own motivations as givers, while also acknowledging that our expectations may not match up with reality, it’s arguable that the gift will hit the target for the recipient.

But, the givers can do so from a more clear place that allows them to freely enjoy however the recipient reacts to the gift. Motivations for giving, in this case help both participants in the exchange meet their needs.

Citations:

Original Image Source: Wikimedia Heart-Stone
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Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. Read about how others are simplifying gift giving. Check back to see what we have in store for 2014!

  • Keeping Gifts Simple – JW at True Confessions of a Real Mommy shares a few simple ways to limit gift giving and keep your holiday about the thought over the thing..
  • The Mindful Holiday Giving Guide – How many times have you carefully chosen a present for someone and find you missed the mark? Zoie at TouchstoneZ identifies key ways to give mindful holiday gifts that will be truly appreciated.
  • Giving Gifts that Keep Giving – At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy shares ideas to help gift givers think outside the (gift) box with gifts that keep on giving.
  • Greening the Giving Spirit - Momma Giraffe at Little Green Giraffe writes more eco-friendly Christmas wish-list for her family this year – passing on plastic and gift wrap and saying yes to memories, moments and experience.
  • No Toys? : Giving Our Children Gifts that Make Memories – This year, Jacquie at My Blessings Homeschool and her husband decided to do things a little differently with gifts that will make lasting memories instead of the toys that will be lost, broken or forgotten.
  • Quick and Easy DIY Gift: Flower Petal Sugar – At Authentic Parenting, Laura whips up a quick and easy last minute gift.

Do you have traditions or methods revolving around simplifying gifts? Do you have a great tutorial on how to make something? We want to hear about it! Just link up your new and old posts before January 16, 2014 in the linky at the carnival hosts’ posts.

Welcome to the final week of the month-long Carnival of Creative Mothers to celebrate the launch of The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood by Lucy H. Pearce which has been Amazon.co.uk’s Hottest New Release in Motherhood for the past week!
Today’s topic is The Creative Process. Do read to the end of this post for a full list of carnival participants.

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“Mindfulness is... #TP456

Mindfulness looks in a new way

 

When I think of mindfulness, I think of lower stress levels, letting go of anxiety, and learning to be comfortable with all that is uncomfortable. Mindfulness can be thought of as mental exercises to clear the mind of its constant chatter about the past and the future.

 

 

 

Mindfulness lowers blood pressure, helps ease the symptoms of mental and physical illnesses, and brings a host of other well-researched benefits to a person’s overall health. Mindfulness meditations have been shown to improve interpersonal relationships, job and sports performances, and academic success. The practices also show an increase in satisfaction reported by people in every area of their lives.

 

 

 

With all this clarity and calm, mindfulness has another benefit. Without the the monkey mind jabbering away, there is room for new, better ideas for solutions to everyday problems. Put simply, mindfulness makes space for creativity.

 

 

 

There’s a common phrase in mindfulness literature called, “beginner’s mind.” It refers to the time when someone first approaches a task without the context of previous experience. Context can sometimes hinder one’s paths to solving the task. When someone is an absolute beginner, the possibilities for resolution are wide open. There is no fear of doing it a particular way, so creativity can be utilized.

 

 

 

Mindfulness uses the beginner’s mind concept to tap into our memories of what it feels like to approach a problem without prejudging ourselves or the issue. It allows a space for play and curiosity. Creativity can bloom in this environment.

 

 

365/259 "Mindfulness means...", Sep....

Mindfulness and Creativity

 

Another phrase often heard in mindfulness practices is single-pointed focus. This is when you choose one thing and concentrate on it, allowing all other thoughts and feelings to float away from you. If you notice that you float away with them, you let them go and return to the focal point.

 

 

Single-pointed focus mimics the feeling of “being in the flow” that is often described by those experiencing creative inspiration. They are able to focus on whatever it is that they are creating to the exclusion of everything else and they’re able to return to the flow when they are distracted by other things.

 

 

 

The more often that things like clearing meditations, beginner’s mind, single-pointed focus are practiced, the easier it is to allow creativity to happen. But, there is another way that mindfulness practices allow creativity to blossom:

 

 

 

Mindfulness creates a quiet mind, that is more resilient from stress, and more creative at problem solving. This means that it also helps to mitigate those frustrating times when creative energy is lost due to things like writer’s block, burn out, and even depression. When in the grip of difficult symptoms, mindfulness practices can help someone bounce back to creativity more quickly or can make the symptoms less severe.

 

 

 

Starting or continuing a mindfulness practice is leap of faith. There is trust in the process and in oneself that it will garner benefits. It can be frustrating when those benefits are slow to come or are not as large as hoped for. But, training the brain to be creative or even taking time out from creative blocks in order to gain some mental space will work.

 

 

 

If you’ve ever been stuck with writer’s block or felt frustrated about not being in the flow, then you know how beneficial a mindfulness break can be. Even if you never labeled your going for a walk, getting a change of scenery, simplifying your commitments or letting go of your worry or expectations about the project so that you can push your reset button, these are mindfulness practices.

 

 

 

Often after these breaks, there comes a breakthrough and new levels of creative thinking are reached. It’s that in between time that I think we all need a little self-compassion and mindfulness.

I often use mindfulness practices to increase my creativity. What about you? Have you tried it?

Photo credits: (1 & 2: Flikr:ConnectIrmeli)


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  • 10% off – use code TRW10
  • exclusive access to a private Facebook group for creative mothers
  • a vibrant greetings card and book-mark of one of the author’s paintings.

Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com Book DepositoryBarnes and Noble


Or order from your local bookshop.


    • Carnival host and author of The Rainbow Way, Lucy at Dreaming Aloud looks at the common lies we tell ourselves about creativity in The Eternal Summer of the Creative Mind.
    • Caitriona at Wholesome Ireland – from start to new beginnings.
    • Hannah M. Davis writes about Unleashing Your Authentic Voice. So many of us would love to write a life-changing book. How do you get over the blocks and barriers that hold you back? 
    • Sylda from Mind the Baby compares her creative process to a maelstrom of weather warnings.
    • In “As an Artist”, Lucy Pierce at Soulskin Musings offers a poem about how the creative process beckons her through many of the archetypes of womanhood.
    • Jackie Stewart at Flowerspirit.co.uk talks about how creativity is opening up a space for the unknown to reveal itself to you in ‘Creativity Flourishes in the Sacred Unknown’.
    • Alex at Art of Birth shares some practical tips on how you can unlock your creative goddess within!
    • Nicki at justlikeplay shares a love letter to her muse.
    • Marija Smits has a conversation with her muse and reflects on the difficulties of catching and creating from the Goddess of Inspiration.
    • Zoie at TouchstoneZ reflects on her creative process.
    • Licia Berry, Illumined Arts “Creativity and Healing are Ideal Partners”. The creation of visual, musical, or expressive arts is the quickest, most effective and painless way to heal.
    • Kirstin at Listening to the Squeak – My creative process and how to break creative blocks.
    • Ali Baker talks about connecting
      with the call of the wolf when she cries to us to do so means giving
      our time and permission to honour the creative process within all of us.
    • Mary at The Turquoise Paintbrush reflects on her creative process.
    • KatyStuff thinks that projects need time to mature, that is why she is a fabric and craft hoarder. 
    • Aimée at Creativeflutters goes into her creative process and looks at what makes things tick or flop in “Spontaneous She – How to Keep Your Muse at Work”.
    • Kae at The Wilde Womb muses about her common creative blocks as a parent and how she systematically breaks through them.
    • Angela at Peach Coglo tries to get comfortable with her own creative process. 
    • Biromums write about their creative processes.
    • Dawn at The Barefoot Home believes the creative process can’t be taught it has to come organically and at its own pace.
    • Tara at Aquamarine Art began uncovering her lost inner artist over 5 years ago and shares her experiences and inspirations in “From Spark to Bonfire: The Evolution of A Creative Process.”
    • Georgie at Visual Toast explores what the creative process looks like for her.
    • Creative Woman at Creator’s Corner is not concerned with the end product or the outcome but with the process and all the richness that it brings. 
    • Jennifer’s Art Blog explores what the creative process feels like for her.
    • Fiona at Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers reflects on her creative process.
    • Sharron at Adventures on the mindful path writes and creates in between (and sometimes while) chasing two little boys and a puppy.  
    • Trying to discover her own methods to the creative process, Jasmine at Brown Eyed Girl, digs deeper to find what it is that really triggers her creativity.
    • Jessica F. Hinton shares why finding creative spaces as a mother is important and what her space looks like. 
    • Laura at Authentic Parenting reflects on her creative process.
    • Ingrid at My Peace Tree says Creativity as a living thing – and examines ebb and flow, expectations vs. realities (our own and other people’s), inspiration and how to find it.
    • Darcel at The Mahogany Way examines her own creative process.
    • Woman’s Art celebrates her own creative process.

Welcome to the December 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Change . . .

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about life changes.

***

There is a theory, first put forth by Rudolph Steiner, that every seven years we begin a new cycle in life. I came across this theory in college and then again when my oldest child was little, but never paid it much heed for my own life until this past year when my twins were born.

I look back on these seven years of motherhood as if I had finished a chapter of a book. This chapter begins with a question that I continued to ask until my twins were born. The question traveled deep within my body and worked its way upward until I really understood that I was asking myself a very different question.

Chakra

Year One: The Root Chakra

The Root chakra is about being physically present and feeling comfortable no matter the situation.

In the beginning, I thought I was asking my happily childfree self, “Do I want to have kids?” I wasn’t sure so I kept asking and looking inside. Finally, I was comfortable with a very firm, “I don’t know.” It didn’t feel like a mistake to have kids. It felt like I was laying groundwork to take a leap away from who I was into the unknown and trust that I’d still be on the other side when I landed.

This pregnancy was very physical for me. I spent a lot of time learning about the physical aspects of labor, birth, breastfeeding, and tending to a newborn’s needs. I was focused on where exactly this baby was going to come out of my body.

I spent time in physically vigorous yoga classes, kept running, and basically trained for birth like a sport. It was a good thing since my labor, was 26 hours long.

Once my newborn was here, I was in shock that he was here that it took me a little while to bond with him. He had been a part of my body for so long and now he was separate from me.

But, all the training paid off. All the grounding allowed me to take another leap to fall in love with him.

Chakra

Year Two: The Sacrum

The Sacral chakra is about allowing feelings to flow and being comfortable with your body.

In year two, my baby and I are learning each other’s rhythms. I was learning to be comfortable giving and receiving love in an unconditional way that I had never experienced.

I felt comfortable in my body for the first time in my life. I not only grew and birthed this baby, now I produced food and gave life-giving comfort to this little being. I gave myself permission to like my body without reservation, even the parts I wasn’t happy with. I decided not to care what anyone else said about my body, too.

Then, a surprise pregnancy and stillborn daughter brought me to the deepest sadness and anger I had ever felt. I had to learn to allow feelings and the intense discomfort that goes along with them. I had to learn fast or I wouldn’t be sticking around to be a mother to my son.

Chakra

Year Three: The Navel

The Navel chakra is about feeling in control and having sufficient self esteem.

Year three, I gave birth to my second son. He looks the most like me of all my kids. Yet again, I confronted all the things I didn’t like about myself. I loved my second son. I loved the way he looked, not because we look so much alike, but because he looks like himself.

I got over myself with my second son. I didn’t hold onto evaluating the way I look anymore. Even though I was already learning to accept myself, I hadn’t let go of deciding whether I liked something about myself or not. I unconditionally love this freckle-faced, brown-eyed, curly-haired kid. I see his easy unselfconscious way of moving through the world and remember a bit of what that was like.

I feel like I hit my stride as a parent this year. I softened and relaxed into parenting. I had sadness that helped me understand how precious every moment is. And I had confidence in my inner strength after surviving the depression after my daughter’s stillbirth and post partum depression after my son’s birth.

Year Four: The Heart

The Heart chakra is about love, kindness, compassion and affection.

This was the year I became pregnant my Buddha baby. I sang often to this cherished baby while he was growing. I knew I needed to pay attention to this pregnancy because it’s so easy to miss things when you’re already parenting.

I spent time during this pregnancy being soft and giving love. My oldest son was coming into the relatively easier age of four and my second son was heading into a surprisingly mellow second year so I allowed all the pregnancy hormones free rein to cuddle and give patience.

As I continued to practice compassion inward and to my children, I began extending that outward. I understood that being heart-centered and giving that love to others was a safe place to be. It had little to do with the other person and everything to do with personal freedom.

Chakra

Year Five: The Throat

The Throat chakra is about expression yourself and talking.

Buddha baby came barreling out into the world at top speed and hasn’t stopped since. I was highly vocal during his birth. I felt like I was talking and writing constantly during the first year of Buddha’s life. There’s little wonder why he speaks far beyond his years now.

My husband and I endlessly discussed our family size. He was content with our family of five, but I felt like our family wasn’t complete.

Since my second pregnancy, I had been having dreams about two babies. I spoke about these dreams almost every day to my family and friends. I thought the first baby must have been my daughter who was dead, but there was another girl.

Third eye

Year Six: The Third Eye

The Third Eye chakra is about insight and visualization.

Once I understood that we wouldn’t be having more children, I began anticipating the dreams about the birth of two girls. I went to sleep visualizing the birth of the two babies. It was a happy way to let go of my hope of a larger family.

I was very surprised when I became pregnant again because we were both on board with being done at this point. The odds were so highly against I should have been shocked. But, I knew I was having twins.

It felt like it was planned. Of course, I didn’t plan the sickness and pain that comes with a multiple pregnancy. I thought I had grown more tolerant of being in discomfort, but I had a lot more to learn about it.

I had to face a lot of fear about the births, especially once my care provider fired me and I was looking at a highly medicalized event. In the weeks I scrambled to create the best birth for myself and my babies, I spent a lot of time visualizing what I wanted and needed for this birth. I practiced every birth scenario that was possible in my mind so that I could do what was safest for my babies.

Chakra

Year Seven: The Crown

The Crown chakra is about wisdom and being one with the world.

We did it. The births of my twins at home were an amazing experience. The three of us were in such a flow together that I often feel like they danced their way out while I breathed.

I remember after my second twin was born and all was quiet again, that I felt complete. We were snuggled in bed together breastfeeding and I began crying. I felt like everyone was here now. I look back on this moment in awe that I knew right away.

I still had to deal with post partum depression, D-Mer, and the various challenges of having two babies at once, but I did it with a feeling of comfort that my family was here and we could move forward together. It was as thought I had been waiting for everyone to get in the car and now we can hit the road.

As I turn the next page in this new chapter of my life, I know it will be without the potentials of pregnancies and new babies. In the middle of the seven year cycle, I couldn’t have imagined being done having babies. Now, I can’t imagine having more.

*********

The question that I thought I was asking when I began this seven year cycle, “Do you want to have kids?” wasn’t really the question I was asking myself. It wasn’t year two that I began asking, “Am I enough?” My answer to this is that I am never enough. There just isn’t enough of my attention, energy, or even just enough of me to go around. It’s something I’ll continue to wrestle with.

 

However, whenever I feel this lack, I can always find enough love. And this is really what I’ve been asking all along (and what I will continue to ask, “Do I want to live my life knowing how to give and receive love?”

 

YES!

Image credits: Wikipedia

***

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon December 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Mature StudentAmber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she’d left behind – that of being a university student.
  • And then there were four — Jillian at Mommyhood learned how quickly love can grow when welcoming a second child to the family.
  • Handling Change As A Mother (And Why That Takes Things To A Different Level) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she helps her young daughter navigate change and why it is so important, as a mother, to gauge her own reactions to change.
  • Without Dad-One Year Later — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how her life has changed one year after losing her husband suddenly.
  • Family Ties — Lori at TEACH through Love realized that her most significant, most painful wound paved the way for her to share her greatest gift.
  • Rootless — After Dionna @ Code Name: Mama‘s parents packed up their home and moved to Florida this fall, she is feeling rootless and restless.
  • A Letter to My Mama Self in the Swirl of Change — Sheila Pai of A Living Family shares a letter she wrote to herself to capture and remember the incredible changes from the year, and invites you to do the same and share!
  • Junctionssustainablemum explains how her family has dealt with a complete change of direction this year.
  • Planning, Parenting, and Perfection — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook explains how most of the plans she made for her adult life have worked out differently than she planned, but she’s ended up getting a lot of what she really wanted.
  • Why First Grade Means Growing Up… for Both Me and My Daughter — Donna at Eco-Mothering discovers that her daughter’s transition into first grade is harder as a parent.
  • First Year of Mothering — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot reflects on the quiet change that took her by surprise this year.
  • Building the Community YOu Desire — A recent move has Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children working toward setting up a new support network.
  • Slowing down in 2013 — A car fire and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome made 2013 a very different year than the one Crunchy Con Mommy and family were expecting!
  • The Seven Year Cycle — After 7 intense years of baking, birthing and breastfeeding 6 kids, Zoie at TouchstoneZ wonders, “Will I be enough for what comes next?”
  • Rebirth — Kellie of Our Mindful Life has found that each of her births leaves her a different person.
  • When a Hobby Becomes a Business — This year, new doors opened for That Mama Gretchen‘s hobby of writing and blogging – it has turned into a side business. She’s sharing a bit about her journey and some helpful tips in case you’re interested in following the same path.
  • 5 Tips for Embracing a Big Change in Your Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about a big change in her family and shares tips that have always helped her family embrace changes.
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — Ana at Panda & Ananaso ruminates on how having a child changed her priorities.
  • Homeostasis — Lauren at Hobo Mama is finding that even as elements shift in her life — in cosleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, & more — they mostly remain very familiar.
  • Sally go round the sun — A new baby brings joy and unexpected sadness for Douglas at Friendly Encounters, as she is diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
  • Embrace it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen muses about the changes in her family this year and how she can embrace them . . . as best she can anyway.
  • Big Change; Seamless but Big — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how one of the biggest changes of her life was also a seamless transition.
  • Celebrating Change — Change feeds Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep‘s soul. And all the work that seemed like monotonous nothingness finally pays off in a clear way.

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