One of the first things I noticed when I walked into the Bay & Bee playspace was a toddler with a wooden train boxcar in each hand. She was talking quietly to herself and touching the magnets of the boxcars together. She put them on the track and rolled them. She was completely engaged in her play, with her back to her mother, and did not notice me noticing her. Her mom was curled in a comfy popasan chair, watching.
There it was- a perfect image to match the conversation around our book, A Child’s Way, which is about slowing down and considering: What have our children come to teach us?
This particular mom was not directing her daughter’s play, nor was she asking questions, like “what color is the train?” She was giving her daughter the opportunity for self-initiative, while her presence was still “with” the child. She was also giving herself a nice little rest, while her daughter was doing exactly what she needed to be doing for her own development.
When we are really present with our children, when we engage eye-to-eye and have those touchstone moments of heart connection throughout the day, we create a rhythm of being together, and being independent. In other words, once they’ve had our complete attention, they will be ready to do the things they need to be doing on their own because they take our felt presence with them. What they end up doing are things that are vital to their growth as human beings. For example, the infant lying on her back, and later turning over, lifting herself up and crawling is experiencing crucial developmental movements that are related to later academic learning.
This rhythm of both presence and independence is a daily practice that helps us: understand our own needs with those of our children, and create the relationships we want with our children- who challenge us and teach us what matters.
While we have been efficient, effective and accomplished in other areas of our life, children remind us that not everything can be condensed down to lists, techniques and how to’s. The truth is we are not happy unless our heart is involved.
So check in with your heart throughout the day. Ask yourself what the moment is for:
Is it for efficiency, or for noticing what my child is noticing? Is it for teaching my child something, or for him to teach me? Is it for getting the job done effectively or remaining true to myself and what I love?
Every moment is designed for you. No book, no person, no technique has your answers. What if you and your child were giving each other the joys and challenges that are exactly what each of you need?
It was absolutely wonderful to be at Bay & Bee, where the gift of a space to be is provided for both parent and child. Thank you to Monica and Zuzia!
Bay & Bee is now a retailer of A Child’s Way.
The old is over.
I’ve been clearing out and creating more space. Everywhere. In my backyard and in my bedroom. In the armoire and in the toy boxes. In my work and how I spend my hours.
Simplicity is so underrated.
I’ve been watching as the essential and beautiful reveal themselves. Now that there is room. Simple joys: naps in patches of sunlight, breezes through windows, and soaking up Autumn’s golden light.
The problem is the stillpoints in creative life. Oh yes, there it is. With all this new time and space, all these new ideas, I SHOULD be doing something! Like posting blogs and writing articles.
The old might be over, but the new has not arrived.
And my impatient self does not like it. Not one bit.
Finally! Getting here and admitting this, embracing this, MOVES me. I get to experience having the strength
not to force anything in the stillpoints, the moments of uncomfortableness.
The new has to be allowed to happen, in its own time. I knew that. But living it, oh YES. Now the new can live through my life and show me the genius in its unpredictability.
I get to be the creative rebel I am.
I’ve said it often and written about it many times-
In childbirth, I learned that I was capable of more than my mind could wrap itself around.
I had a lived experience of the new story of our time.
What we know in our hearts- that the world is good and beautiful and true- is possible despite our mind’s inability to grasp it or figure out how to get there.
In the book, On Becoming a Mother, I share a small slice of my story, which begins, “All my life I was Carrie Lee, the sweet and quiet good girl, follower of rules, planner and lover of logic…”
The book is a compilation of wisdom on becoming a mother, shared by women from around the world. It’s available at the end of this month, in time for International Women’s Day. Proceeds support the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood!
We think we have to have perfected technique…we think we have to be an expert before we put ourselves out there.
But that’s not it…
It’s about our hearts. Can we show up present, with an open heart, ready to embark on a learning journey?
More than anything
it’s about a willingness to participate,
to enter into a new, trusting relationship with the process.
In the article, Empathy Inside Out you can read more about how this applies in education, and how the teachers at Seaside Community Charter School helped me really get it.
picture by Mohamed Fayed photography
People from all over the world gather today for the largest global meeting of the decade focusing on the health and well-being of girls of women. The Women Deliver Conference, kicks off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and I sit at my computer in my backyard and wonder, like everyone else: what can we do to improve the condition for the girls and women of the world?
It’s only when I move out of my head and open to the spaciousness within, that true understanding arises. I know that there is a space within every girl and boy, every woman and man and every community out of which their own answers and understanding emerge. As I read that The Lancet published the latest research showing that grassroots women’s groups could halve maternal death rate, I see it happening! People, we are so powerful. Trust it. Today I deliver this poem, what came to me when asked to write about maternal health solutions:
all at once
I’m a living paradox
the pain, the joy
in my body, out of my body
I’m mind-blowingly capable!
Connected to the whole of Life!
A doorway to the earth
For her, my daughter
And she is born, fleshy and slippery
Childbirth blows my mind
I am more than what I think
I am a threshold for all that is creative
I am the both/and
the physical, the spiritual, the light, the dark
My mind has nothing to figure out
Great Creative Force
Love, Life, Light
continue to flow through me
As if I’m pregnant
I only have to allow you
Not to implore:
Keepers of humanity’s unfolding
why are we dying?
in this sacred act?
We are the world’s collective mirror
Reflecting the death of the feminine
with each soul
what we see transforms
And we give birth
All we must do is
squatting, hands and knees,
breathing, moaning, finding our rhythm
What is inside will emerge in the world
Balance doing with being
You know how to surrender
From this place of your true nature
will your gifts
and join with others
Think not in solutions
but in evolutions
It’s not about fixing or fighting
It’s about conceiving and birthing
You only have to know what is yours to give
and give it with love
Held in that embrace
*Start with being. Move to doing.
*Let the mind serve the heart.
*Align with the divine. Be bold.
*Trust Life’s timing. Use every situation.
*Patience and trust. Patience and trust.
*The world’s evolution depends on ours.
*Accept what is. Build something new.
*Think not in solutions, but evolutions.
*There is nothing you must do.
*Be a threshold for the creative.
*Notice what breathes through your work.
*Whatever you’re doing, enter it fully.
*Bring enthusiasm into everything you do.
*Let go. Surrender to Life. Enjoy.
Thanks to Ashoka for the six-word changemaker story challenge! I couldn’t stop!