Today’s Favorite: Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
Old Turtle. Spiritual without being religious. Poignant without being sappy. Ecologically aware without being preachy. Wood expresses truths (in my world) without being cliche. I’m so grateful to have found a story that I can read to my little ones that touches on the bigger questions and interconnectedness of all things. When I read it, I skip over the part about people doing harm to each other because I”m not ready to introduce my 4 year old ot the concept yet. The story works beautifully without it. Warning for those seeking out non-religious spiritual books- it does contain the concept of God. Not a judgy, power-hungry God, though. God that is in you, me and everything. The paintings are really beautiful too.
(Note: This is a repost from 2015) A few weeks ago, my 5 year old was having trouble falling asleep. I was resting next to him on his bed, waiting for the wiggling to stop, for his eyes to close. It didn’t and his eyes stayed open for 10, 15, 20 minutes. I had him place his hand over his belly to feel his breath and mentioned that when I was a kid, I used to have thoughts flying through my mind at night. He turned to me and said, “That happens to me all the time.” (After weeping silently in my mind that a 5 year old has racing thoughts that keep him up, I gathered my composure.) We talked about how paying attention to your body and breath can help shift you into a lower gear, settle those thoughts, and allow sleep to come.
On a mission the next day, not wanting him to have to go through the same anxieties I did as a kid with an overactive worried mind that never seemed to settle down, I went in search of a book that could help me help him start early with mindfulness and self-calming techniques. I hoped for simple exercises, short meditations, fun imagery, effective strategies, and a cd that could guide us through. And….
Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents)
– by Eline Snell
Every single one of my hopes was answered in this book. It’s beautifully simple with tips and info for parents about mindfulness and soothing cd tracks that guide you through short (4 min+) mindfulness exercises. These tracks are stand-alone- they’re perfect. Simple enough for my 5 year old to listen to by himself, interesting enough that it keeps his attention.
After listening to a few tracks over the course of several days, he suggested we do a mindfulness exercise every day. (Joy!) Ten minutes later I was buying this book online. You can’t buy happiness but you can buy this book. Being present in our bodies and teaching our kids to do the same is the happiest of happies.
“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”
-Ina May Gaskin
Today’s Favorite: Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton
This is a newish book that I believe is the author’s first. We checked it out from the library a few months back. It’s one of those books that you keep renewing and renewing and then eventually just break down and buy. I like it because I found it hilarious, and loved the illustrations. It’s about a little owl that falls out of her nest and gets some help from a funnily unhelpful squirrel to find her. It’s sweet with cool, modern looking illustrations that are different enough to catch your attention and familiar enough to warm up to the characters immediately. I hope he writes more.
“If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it.”
– Isadora Duncan
Art is critical to human evolution, survival, well-being, tolerance, awareness, and connection. It is not something we do, it is something we are. We are the music, the dance, the masterpieces. Our lives are compositions. Language is vastly limited in what it can do to express the nuances, subtleties, and galactic power of our emotions, our sensory input, and our depth. This is something I’ve learned as I’ve waded through grief over my dad for the last two years. Some things just can’t be explained with words. To be fully realized, we need to create and express artistically. We need to move our distinct selves in rhythm with the sensations and vibrations we feel, and let meanings fall away, as we spring into a state of observation. Art is immediate. Creating it and being witness to it drops us into the present moment.
I love this quote because Ms. Duncan is saying how dance can express something without defining it. That is something that we are designed to do- bypass our need to analyze and understand- and just embody our experiences. Dance them. Paint them. Sculpt them. There is a part of us that is always centered in the geyser of creative force. Where we don’t need to understand or analyze. Our mental selves jump out of the equation and we are left with ourselves- and the power we have in expressing things that words never could contain.
Today’s Favorite: Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and R. Gregory Christie
This book is the coolest, grooviest rhythmic book that I have found. I absolutely love reading it, in part because it’s a little like performing music (which I have missed dearly since becoming a SAHM.) It can be read like a rap and you can even have your little one do a call and response with the end-phrases if they’re old enough.
“Grandpa toot-toots. Granny sings scat. Bitty-boppin’ baby goes, Rat-Tat-Tat! Mama sings high. Daddy sings low. Snazzy, jazzy baby says, Go, Man, Go!” C’mon. That family is cool. That baby is cool. I want to hang out with that baby he’s so cool. This jazzy family and their hip baby might be too cool for me. Good thing I get to read about them. Because they are so fun to spend time with.
“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.”
– Victor Hugo
OK, so he is talking about an idea for nations, for the world at large, I’m sure. But I like to take this quote to a more personal level. Recently for our family, that idea whose time has come is night weaning. But it’s true for any brilliant new thing that you are just ready for. The trick, as always, is getting out of your own way to let the idea take its rightful place at the center of your attention.