Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Expansive Nature of Summer

From this
to this

Sort of like parenting, in how we expand beyond what we thought was possible, no?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

This Week :: This Life :: This Summer

These mornings, moist with dew and fairy rings, just warm enough and with a gentle breeze, they are are so pleasant for quietly working inside. Rather pleasant out of doors too.
My furry boy likes it too.
Break for midmorning tea.

 My Sarah Bernhardt peony is splendid this year with six abundant blossoms. This one was the first to open. I chose this peony named Sarah Bernhardt because I have always loved hearing of Sarah Bernhardt, since my mother called me Sarah Bernhardt as a child. You can see and hear her here.
 Working on the Get Organized :: Sketch it Out eCourse (still open) project and having fun with the chalks. Sometimes I forget that chalk does not blend as crayons do.
 A sample for the Get Organized :: Sketch it Out Make it Yourself Planner
I have so much more to share with you, oodles of snapshots from the garden. The irises, the day lilies, the nettles, comfrey, catnip. And the valerian, oh my it is taller than I am, nearing six feet. The woodchuck has eaten the lettuce, chard, kale, cilantro, epazote and celery. I suspect it's those cute little babies of hers, the same ones we see nibbling on the Black-eyed-Susies. 

I had hoped and still hope to do a weekly sharing of the garden this summer yet find myself drawn into it and away from the computer. Maybe that balance will come one of these days. In the mean time I am loving this weather and working hard to catch up from my computer-less days.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Decline of Play and Mental Health Disorders

We all know deep within our very being.

 Children need to play. Play supports life. Play is crucial to healthy development. Play is the foundation for learning. Play is the wellspring of life.

Those of us who are old enough to have experienced play in childhood, as described by the speaker below, have a living picture, a living experience of what it means to play, to take risks, to resolve problems, to be free and to feel competent.

Yet we, as a culture, have reached a critical point in that the generation of new parents of today most likely did not experience play in childhood, at least not with the freedom and not to the extent described in this talk.

This need for play is universal. All children need play and without it, they suffer.

My reader, I encourage you to give up 16 minutes in your day to watch this TED X talk by researcher and professor Peter Gray who explores what it means when children do not grow up with the freedom to play.

Oh, I thank you Mr. Peter Gray for so eloquently naming the problem and suggesting solutions.

I'll add to his suggestions that we seek out neighbors, parents, grandparents, older people in our communities and ask them about their memories of childhood...
  • How did they play? 
  • Where did they play? 
  • What risks were they able to take? 
  • How did it shape who they are?
  • What can each of us do to support play for all children?
Carrie Dendtler, over at the Parenting Passageway speaks to the need for time out of doors in childhood with the movement towards  Forest, Farm and Field programs here. Can you imagine what it might look like if all the social, political, and financial energy put into pre-k programs in this country were turned towards supporting free, child initiated play as the most important element of a healthy childhood?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to Deeply Nourish Your Child's Creative Impulses

Wow, that sounds like such a big and serious title, no?

I am here to say, it is simple to nourish creativity in our children. 
Mostly by getting out of the way. 

A notion exists that creativity is something that exists outside of ourselves, something we experience in art class, at museums, something we cultivate and work at by seeking something outside of ourselves. Projects. Crafts. Something that depends on opportunities, field trips, museums, enrichment programs.

Not for children.

While I agree that art offers us new ways of seeing things, I assert here that children are born with the ability to see things in new ways.

For the young child, the spirit of creativity is alive and present, seeking expression with every breath.

The world is the child's art studio and the four elements provide the tools, toddling on the ground, digging in the dirt (okay a decent shovel is needed.) Feeling sand between the toes. Dipping the toes into the water. Running with arms out to feel the air. Eyes wide open to drink in the flame on a candle. Spinning. Falling. Rolling. Skipping around a campfire. Watching the bees. Climbing trees. Skinning knees from falling. Playing with sticks and stones. 

Play, the free self initiated play of childhood, is exploration in the same juicy creative flow that artists, writers and great thinkers experience.

It begins with birth. A form of creative expression in itself.

Children are born in a state of wonder. A state we reflect with our own awe. This feeling of awe leads to reverence and gratitude. Ah, life! Have you ever noticed how a newborn captivates an entire room of adults?

What the young child needs is the freedom for self initiated play. Freedom from distractions. Freedom from interruption. Freedom from prompts. Freedom from screen exposure and its pre made images. Freedom from stuff. Freedom from the pursuit of proximity. Freedom from the fear of healthy risk taking. 

Just plain ole, left alone, benignly neglected childhood, with the spaciousness of time for play.

Children are born to explore their world, to see it, smell it, hear it, taste it, touch it, move it, climb on it, rattle it, try it on. To give it form and then destroy it. Creativity and destruction go hand in hand. To make way for the new, the old has to give way.

We adults tend to want to hold on to what is. It's hard for us to step back and let go. Yet when we do, the wonder and magic take place.

The only requirement is that the child be in right relationship to the adult who is caring for the child. When the child feels secure in relationship to the adult, the child is free to relax into the flow of play.

I'll say more about the flow and relationship later on.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Manifesto

While the official arrival of summer is not until the solstice on June 21st, the feeling of summer, the smell of summer and the mood of summer is in the air. No mistaking it, blossoms everywhere. The sweet scent of lilacs, honeysuckle and apple blossoms have filled the night air. Fireflies flitting and providing sparks of light the night air. Flowers cascade over the edges of pots on the doorstep. The warmth of the sun brings vital heat and leaves behind its golden glistening on the skin and hair. The lake beckons. The soft and moist soil of spring becomes more fixed and firm as the blossoms come and go, the bees visit, the butterflies appear and herald in with great majesty the first fruits of summer, sweet strawberries, as delicious freshly picked from the mother plant, warm from the sun's rays, as they are in shortcake and cream. Sweet summer.



With this feeling freshness and new beginnings in the air, 
I write a Manifesto for Summer, as a source of  inspiration and gratitude for the goodness of summer.

A Manifesto for Summer

:: Savor the longer days and shorter nights.

:: Be outdoors as often as possible.

:: Create spaces for being outdoors, a table for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cosy places to lounge and  
   read. Spots in the garden for tea.

:: Find dappled light for mid day and hot days.

:: Build camp fires. Toast marshmallows and hot dogs. Make s'mores.

:: Go for a walk each night under the stars.

:: Follow the moon's path through the sky.

:: Sleep outside.

:: Cook outside. Over fire.

:: Go barefoot whenever possible.

:: Tend the garden.

:: Snip flowers for the table. And other unexpected places.

:: Run under the sprinkler.

:: Play flashlight tag.

:: Make fruit pops with yoghurt, fresh fruit and juice.

:: Make ice cream with fresh cream and strawberries.

:: Stop at lemonade stands.

:: Go swimming whenever possible.

:: Have sand between the toes.

:: Pack lunch and go for a hike.

:: Gather with friends around the fire. Sing. Tell stories. Eat good food.

:: Get organized for preserves: jams and jellies, pickles, herbs, spices, tomatoes, chutney

So there it is. I've been rejoicing in the lightness of spring, in the dampness and smell of the dirt, in the new beginnings, in the green perennial friends who return each year and rise from the earth to unfurl new leaves, burst buds into blossoms and provide us with leaves to steep for tea and leaves to spice up the cooking pot and pan, in the songs and squawking of the baby birds in the nests outside my windows, in the chives for potatoes and eggs, in blossoms for the table. Spring uplifts us and invites us to relax, slow down and savor summer.

How will you slow down and savor summer this year?

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