The pieces of my life's mosaic are many.... family, parenting, unschooling, social justice, community, faith, ethical issues and the environment. This blog will reflect a bit of everything, I imagine, all mushed up together, just like life is. The "glue" in my mosaic is the bit that's not always visible, but definitely holds it all together: the love, joy, peace & faith without which life would pretty much fall apart. The spiral signifies the ebb and flow of life around a central point, which for me is God.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Unschooling Conference Day 4

Ah.... another day in paradise! And what a day it was!!

First up was a really beautiful, inspiring session on Consensual Parenting & Playful Parenting

consensual living
First up it was about living consensually with our children. I read a really interesting book called "Winning Parent, Winning Child" last year, that was really all about this topic. I found it a challenging read, and it was easy to keep saying, "Yes, but what about......" and yet, I also found that the book was quite transformative in my parenting journey. I've also found the general principles of NVC (Non Violent Communication) to be really useful in living out this life, so this session was one that I found myself doing a lot of head nodding in. :) Here's my summary of what was shared......

The idea is to focus on the needs of all people, not just the parent, or just the child. It is good to look for and believe in the infinite possibility of meeting everyone's needs. Sounds impossible, huh? That's what I thought, but it really isn't! All needs are valid, but we are not responsible to meet someone else's needs (I don't imagine this applies to those parenting young children?). The basic principles of NVC:

  • Observation (as though through a video camera lens) of what you see, hear etc (no judgment or evaluation)
  • Feelings (What am I feeling? What is the other person feeling? Empathy is so important, both for the other person, and also self-empathy!)
  • Needs (of both parties)
  • Strategies (there are many possible strategies for meeting needs - and this is where the consensual possibilities come in! It is important to hold our strategies loosely, and realise that there are many, many options, and if one doesn't work, we can always try another one.)
  • Requests (where we ask the other person if they'd be willing to try one of the strategies)
The "language" (which isn't always said aloud) goes something like "When I see (or hear)..... I feel.... and I need..... Would you be willing to......?" It is also really important to have a guess at what their feelings & needs might be, to reflect back what they're saying in a way that helps get to the needs below the feelings & strategies, so that you don't inflame them & cause the child to only focus on the strategy they're wanting. We  we will often have to brainstorm together about some various strategies (rather than just suggesting one). One of the criticisms of NVC is that the language can be a bit rigid, or artificial sounding, but the idea is to use the principles, rather than insisting on a 100% "accurate" wording.

Sometimes a problem brought to us by our child doesn't even have to actually be resolved! We need to stay present, rather than blowing it all out of proportion and getting caught up in judgement or drama. Often empathy is all that is needed!!

Then, in answer to someone's question about difficulties on car trips with her children, the idea of "segment intending" was discussed. This was a new concept for me so I had to look it up to get more understand, and found this webpage helpful. The idea is to visualise the expected stressful time, visualising calmness, kids playing quietly in the back seat, peace, quietness etc....

I've learned a bit about NVC previously, but I've never before heard of the "Tree of Life" as it relates to this philosophy. It's a visual tool to help us keep on coming back to focussing on the roots of the tree (feelings & needs) before going back out to the branches, where communication etc is required.

Next we looked at PLAYFUL PARENTING:
We talked about why it might be that so many of us find it incredibly hard to really get down and play WITH our kids, authentically and without inhibition. Perhaps we weren't played with much as a child, so it is unfamiliar, and perhaps it's just that we've gotten too caught up in our adult responsibilities? Whatever the cause, the need to play is imperative, both for our children and ourselves. 

Children play. It's what they do! But as adults, we've often lost the art of it. When we really connect and play with our kids, we are actually engaging in self-nurture because we are letting go of some of our inhibitions and really connecting with our child and also our inner child.

Whilst it can be hard to fully let go of our inhibitions, it is so worth doing because it is liberating and connects us with our children. Pam Leo, of "Connection Parenting" says that if we observe our child playing we give them attention (which they love), whereas if we play WITH our children, we give them connection, which they need.

Some parents use tickling as their first form of playful parenting, because they get a quick laughing response, but the problem is: it's not authentic laughing. Tickling can be a useful form of connecting play, but only if it is asked for, and if we stop when asked to stop. In fact, then it can be awesome!

Baby steps are ok, so long as they're heading in the right direction. We might not be able to easily visualise ourselves being inhibited enough to let loose in a game of wild imaginative play with our children, but if we can at least start off with playing in a way that feels easy for us, we will be meeting one of our children's deepest needs, and also one of our own! Some adults actually go to workshops to try to let go of some of their inhibitions and "adultness" - we can get the same or better results from simply playing with our children! And it's free!
In the words of one of the dads: "When you see parents really playing with their kids, it's the coolest thing in the world!"

The next session was a panel on UNJOBBING, which was a new term for some people. Basically, it means not working for someone else, but providing our own income. 
It was amazing how many families in the room live this way! So many self-employed people and alternative lifestyle people. Living outside of the normal systems of our society in more ways than one. And just loving their freedom! For most of them, the key thing has been two fold: doing what they LOVE, and cutting back on expenses. Do I really need this, or do I just want it? And if I do really want it, is there a way of having it that doesn't involve a cash purchase. We are limiting ourselves if we think that money is the only way to get something. The ideas of trading, barter and the LETS system were discussed, and everyone agreed that these are great ways of supporting this lifestyle! Even food can be free, for the most part, from growing our own fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables, to saving seeds, picking wild produce, bartering with others, etc

If you are doing what you really love to do, and you would do it whether you got paid for it or not, then you can earn money for it and live in material abundance. But if it's something you'd do regardless, then you can still do it and live a fulfilled life, even if you have a smaller house, older car etc. Allow your passion to be your guiding force, not the love of money. Feeling a sense of having "enough" brings contentment. Anything on top of that is a bonus.

On a practical level, being resourceful is imperative. Multiple streams of income can be very beneficial, as can passive (eg. writing a one-off book that keeps making you money; finding a way of making money that doesn't really take more time - eg. Dayna offers child minding in her home & the kids play more happily together because of caring for one or two younger kids.) You can make money from anything you're good at. Facebook and other Social Media can help you get it out there. Setting up a website is a fantastic way to start. You can print business cards cheaply through Vista Print. Often it will help to offer your services for free to one or two people first, so you can get some testimonials to help get some flow of business happening.

It really helps to have a vision of the life we want to live, and our goals we want to achieve or BE.

There was lots of discussion about the idea of everything being energy, and the energy of abundance, but these are such new thoughts for me that I think I would do them a disservice to try to put it into words yet! I will try to write some of it though (the bits that made more sense lol!):

The energy of GIVING is very powerful. When you give out the energy of giving, you open yourself up to receiving that same energy in return. We can truly access pure, unlimited abundance.

When we have negative associations with money (eg we have strong negative feelings when the bills come in, etc) we will keep living in lack. If we have positive energy associations with money, we will have a YES energy towards money, and we will live in abundance.

Money is really just a mental construct. The coins and paper we have chosen to use as a monetary representation of value is really just a form of trade. It really helps to start thinking beyond coins and paper money.

Believe in yourself.
Know you can do it.
Don't let other label you or put you down.
You can create your own life out of what you want to do.
If you are working in your area of passion & interest, you will feel good and send out positive vibrations, and then more will come.

At lunchtime we had a WOMEN'S SPIRITUAL CIRCLE. It was such a beautiful, bonding time. No more shall be spoken of here. :)

Afterwards we learned about THOUGHT FIELD THERAPYTFT Energy Tapping helps people suffering from a variety of psychological problems. Dr. Callahan's Thought Field Therapy works for anxiety and stress related fears. Meridian EFT Tapping alternative
This is the "grandfather" of energy psychology (EFT - which some people have heard of - came out of TFT). Basically, "When applied to problems TFT addresses their fundamental causes, providing information in the form of a healing code, balancing the body's energy system and allowing you to eliminate most negative emotions within minutes and promote the body's own healing ability."

It comes quite highly regarded by many people. For instance: “What’s fascinating about TFT is it’s quick, painless and it’s success rate is almost unheard of in the field of mental health in any type of treatment over this whole century.”  Shad Meshad, President, National Veterans Foundation & Founder and Author of the National Vet Center Program. Of course, he IS  a vet, but I'm pretty sure he was talking about the mental health of humans lol. And there are plenty of other rave reviews out there anyway. I was basically being lazy just copying the first one I found! :)

TFT was developed by Dr Roger Callaghan after being frustrated with treating people suffering all sorts of emotional and physical ailments. The symptoms would often go away, but the wouldn't be cured. So with his background in hypnotherapy and kinesiology, he developed this practice. It may sound strange, but basically it involves "tapping" on the different points of the energy meridians of the body, and brings relief at a cellular level. It can be used for little problems in day to day life, right up to relieving post trauma panic attacks. One of the powerful things about this practice, is the the trauma doesn't need to be re-told, which can actually add more trauma. We were told today of a young boy in Rwanda who went to a practitioner to help him get "the feeling of sand" out of his eyes (he couldn't see properly). 5 minutes later he skipped off to play and the nuns came over amazed. The boy had no idea of his story of how he came to the orphanage, and had often suffered physical ailments as a result of his emotional trauma as a baby (what happened is too traumatic for me to even repeat here). He was basically "cured" in 5 minutes.

We did one of the tapping techniques in the workshop, and I have to admit that I found it quite good. And not too weird, really. :) You can read more about it here

In the afternoon we had a fantastic workshop on teens. We also had a session on "If your child wants to go to school", and lastly a Q & A time with Dayna's son, Devin Martin. It's too hard to write here about these workshops and sessions, because they were really just group discussions. Unfortunately, if you weren't there, you'll have to miss out. And I need to get some beauty sleep! Sorry! :)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had some inspiring stories and an uplifting time during the womens spiritual circle. look forward to reading each day. Take care