How is Food is the beginning of Thankfulness?

November 26, 2008 at 7:40 am | Posted in attitudes, Families, parents, Self Esteem, spirituality, Wonderful Wednesday | Leave a comment
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It’s Wonderful Wednesday.  And this is such a special day because, as you know, it is the day before Thanksgiving.

 

I have been having you focus on one thing to be thankful for this week.  To really get involved with why that particular thing is worth being thankful for.  How this thing is connected to your whole life.  Not just fulfilling the basic need you have been taught to think about, but how this thing is a true part of your ability to live with passion, purpose, and integrity.

 

Mine has been food.  Of course food is necessary to live.  No one can live without food forever. Even Mahatma Gandhi had to eat after three weeks.  But we in our lives are not suffering from horrible cultural norms, devastating political outbursts, or even true financial disasters, and although there are natural disasters, we have a very strong support system to help our citizens get back on their feet.

 

So how is food connected to more than my ability to stay alive?  How does food connect to every aspect of my life?  Food is a huge process.  It is a daily task.  Food is a way for my family and friends to be together.  I still have at least two meals a day together as a family.  At the time of preparation there is usually one child who is miserable about something.  That child comes to me in the kitchen and whines, complains, shouts, cries, or stands around with the silent treatment.  The kicking has pretty much stopped.

 

And while I prepare the meal, I can help that child learn and understand how to cope with such atrocities as a sister taking back her favorite shirt, being pushed over out of spite, or just being grumpy for no reason.  I am sure that without meal prep I would still have children who needed support and guidance, but it is during meal prep that some of my most nurturing moments occur.

 

The meals themselves are filled with conversations.  You can imagine with the age spread of aged 8 to 16 at home full time, and having guests regularly. Over the 24 years I have been a parent those conversations have changed, mutated, and developed.  Some themes continue, others come and go.  Many of my fondest memories are when we have been eating.  Memories are a vital part of my spiritual well-being.  When I am stressed, down, overwhelmed I can find a memory to bring me back into perspective. 

 

And there is the clean up time.  This is the never-ending scourge of my life.  There are always dirty dishes, counters, tabletops… I can go about the clean up process with anger and bitterness that I am still stuck with doing it or must nag and constantly remind my kids to do their part.  But I can get past that.  I can see that all this mess is a product of abundance.  And this abundance is not just the quantity of food and dishes we have, but the abundance of living we have.  My family does everything with real gusto.  It comes from our souls and spirits., and the food mess is daily evidence of this.

 

The process of getting Thanksgiving dinner on our table began on Monday.  We made our menu. Yesterday we went shopping.  Today we do prep for many dishes and help my mom with her pies. (She will make four from scratch- crust and all and her 80th b-day is tomorrow.)

 

Now you really know how I have taken food and looked to its roots as to why I am thankful for it.  It is not only my nourishment for my body; it is the nourishment for my values and morals.  Food is more than a simple grab it and eat it thing for me.  It is a process that brings my most sacred and special feelings and emotions out in the open. 

 

Being thankful, living with true integrity to your values and morals is a process.  It cannot be done in one quick instance.  It takes your heart and soul, your actions, and your mind set.

If you haven’t set this process in motion, start now.  Let yourself grow with your thankfulness.  Be the most thankful person you can be, but start with only one thing to be thankful for.

Be thankful with Passion, Purpose, and Integrity,

Grace

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New Way to be Thankful

November 24, 2008 at 1:03 pm | Posted in Health, Holidays, Self Esteem, spirituality | Leave a comment
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Once again it’s Motivational Monday.  And this is such a special Monday because it is just before Thanksgiving.  As I always do before Thanksgiving, I get pretty emotional about all that I have to be thankful for.  And this is no different this year than other years.

 Recently our country’s economic stability flew out the window.  We are all feeling the pressures of financial instability.  And this was warping my ability to be thankful.  But yesterday I had an epiphany. 

 I realized that as an adult I have been poor, then I was poorer, then I had a decent living, then I actually was in the upper middle class economically, and now I am back to having a decent living.  Most of these changes came about because I had done things to foster them.  So when my economic standing reversed simply because of general economics I felt I was in a terrible state. 

But here is my epiphany: I am still just as wonderful now as when I was poor or sort of rich.  My values have not changed due to going up or down the economic ladder.  I have held onto my morals very tightly through theses changes.  As a matter of fact, these changes have allowed me to really know that who I am, what I do, whom I am friends with, what I do for leisure are my values and morals.

It’s kind of like being grounded again.  Not what some parents to do punish their kids, but that spiritual kind of grounding; that way of being at peace with your surroundings, your soul, really at peace with yourself. 

When you allow the outside circumstances to guide and force your core to change then you are setting yourself up for constant disappointment.  You actually lower your self-esteem.  You are a puppet to your surroundings, everything from your kids, spouse, childhood family, neighbors, and the mass media.

I want you to start today and think about what you are truly thankful for.  Start with just one thing.  Keep it simple.  This one thing can be anything.  It can be the most important thing OR it can be the simplest thing, OR it can be the first thing that comes to mind. Focus on that one thing.  Pay complete attention to one thing you are thankful for.  Do that today.  This one thing will sprout into other things. 

Only let those thoughts that you know are completely a part of your soul and spirit, your core values and morals to get attention.  In other words, there are the regular things-family, clothing, shelter, job, friendship- that we are thankful for, and as you focus on the one thing you have chosen, let your thoughts and feelings understand why this is so special.

Here is how being thankful for food spreads for me.  Food alone is rather basic, but food spreads to the ability to nurture and be nurtured.  Food spreads to my interest in health and physical achievements.  Food is intricately connected with my belief in being the best I can be-I am the food I take in and give to my family.  Food is basic to my soul.  Without food my spirit would wither.  I connect my values and morals to food.  Food alone and especially all its attachments are a necessary part of what I am thankful for.

You see how something so basic actually has such deep and far reaching tentacles.  Food is a part of my soul as well as being necessary to live.  By being thankful this way you put a purpose to the process.

Today as you begin your thankful thinking be simple, yet focus on what is deep and spiritual to you.  Give yourself permission to be thankful outside the box.  Be passionate about what you are thankful for. 

And of course have integrity about your thankfulness.  Be true to your values and morals.  Learn about what they are through this process.

Have fun with your thanks and Parent and live with Passion, Purpose, and Integrity

Grace

PS: I do have a very nice podcast at http://www.GEMParenting.com/store called Thanksgiving the Gentle Holiday.  You might really like to listen to it.  You need to scroll down a ways to get to it.

Creative Crayon Club: Activities to do with your Teen

May 31, 2008 at 8:49 am | Posted in attitudes, children, Creative Crayon Club, dads, Families, Family Time, Fun Activities, GEM Parenting Secrets, How To, lying, moms, Mothers, parents, peer pressure, relationships, respect, responsibilities, Self Esteem, spirituality, sports, teenagers, teens, Tweens | 2 Comments
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This is out last Creative Crayon Club dedicated to parenting teenagers for a while. It has been a great deal of fun to put these together for you.  I would really love it if you would comment about your favorite thing to do with your teen.

Here are a few things for you to do that can help reduce lying in your house.

Household Projects

Give your teen a choice of household projects that you two will complete.  Pick one, create a time line for the project, and get to work.  Teens thrive on simple projects that give them the respect and responsibility of an adult.  When you do the project together you can have conversations that impart your values and morals without actually having to set up the conversations. 

Join a Club or Group Together

This can be anything from fly fishing, scuba diving, walking club, art group.  There are millions of things to do.  Find something that both of you want to try, but haven’t.  This put you on an even keel.  You are joining the group as two adults.

Find a Needy Group You Can Volunteer For

You can make a meal once a month for a shelter, find books to give to an under privileged school, better yet read once a month to some group.  Again, the list is endless.  Find some way to be the givers on an equal basis.

There is a thread to all these ideas.  Be active with your teen.  Don’t try to be their friend.  Find things that allow you to be together, without being peers.  As you treat your teen with respect, your teen will have respect for you.  And your teen will see that you are someone whose opinion they value.  When they feel valued they will be less able to lie to you.  It is also important to be sure that you remain the parent- the adult.  When you do these things the bottom line is that you give your teen the opportunity to develop into an adult with self respect and high self esteem.  

What is your favorite thing to do with your teen?  Tell us in the comment area.

Wisdom Wednesday: Spring Sports and Good Moral

April 30, 2008 at 6:21 am | Posted in 1, children, dads, Families, Family Time, Fun Activities, GEM Parenting Secrets, Health, moms, Mothers, parents, relationships, Safety, Self Esteem, siblings, sports, teens, Tweens, Wednesday Wisdom, Welcome | 2 Comments
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Spring Sports and Moral

Sports are such a major part of our lives these days. Parents sign kids up months in advance. They take them to tryouts at younger and younger ages. The practices are anywhere from twice a week to every afternoon. And the competitions take at least one weekend day, with tournaments taking both days. Why in the world do we have our kids “free” time filled with sports? What is the draw? And the bottom line, is it healthy for our children’s self esteem? If it is not healthy, what do we do?

Human beings are by nature group-oriented. We live in societies. We engage in interactions with others. Human beings, also by nature, relish in being challenged, and part of all the stress we create for ourselves comes from this need of ours. Finally, children love to be active and physical and voila, sports for children seem to fit the bill perfectly.

However, why do we have sports for children when thirty years ago, sports played by children was predominantly part of school or ad-hoc empty field games? Why do we have tryouts for young children and organized sports now?

This change comes from some whole culture changes. In the past (50+ years), most children actually had lots of necessary physical activities. Walking was the main mode of transportation. Children would easily walk four to ten miles a day, just getting around without cars. Life was obviously structured without all the conveniences we have, thus physical activity just existed. There was no need to implant it in our lives.

The other major cultural change is electronic entertainment. Again in the past, children had to create their own entertainment. This was often a challenge. It took mental strength and ability. The most popular kids were not the ones with the gadgets, but the ones who had the best imaginations. You can still find these kids, but our media has taught us to look for gadget owners as being the ones to follow.

Our children now need to be entertained rather than create their own challenges. With these two major changes in our society, a huge hole was left for kids. They do not have enough physical activity and they look to be entertained rather than create and challenge themselves. These two cultural changes and our innate human tendencies to need physical activity and challenges makes children’s sports the perfect answer to accommodate our needs.

Given the perfect situation: parents, coaches, teammates, and child all filling roles with enthusiasm, respect, enough challenge, physical activity, freedom to create and play outside the actual regulated sport, then you will have a wonderful time with sports for your children. But perfection is not always the case and as children get older parts of the picture get skewed. That is when sports can and does diminish moral and self-esteem.

So what are your choices? Pull your kid out? Stick it out? Find another team? Make changes where you are? All of these have merit, except stick it out. To make changes first look to yourself. Ask yourself these questions: How am I contributing to the negative aspects of this sport? Check that you communicate respect, enthusiasm, and appropriate disappointment. Be sure to express yourself as your child’s advocate. Your next place to look is how the coach handles the team. If the coach is constantly belittling the players, having too many drills, treating young children as if they were teenagers, forcing players to feel guilty, then you need to talk with the coach. Rather than tell the coach how to be different, find an article, suggest a speaker for the team/parents/coaches. In other words don’t attack the coach. If you are unable to get any change with the coach find another team. If what is happening to your child is seriously detrimental, then pull your kid out right now.

When the parents as a whole are overly aggressive and demanding perfection from their kids, again get some articles that give new ideas, or get a speaker to come. Try not to challenge or attack these parents. Generally if you do, they will shut down to change. As the parent you have both the responsibility and the privilege to help your child grow into the most illuminating gem. Sports can and does bring out wonderful parts of our children. Use that side of sports to guide you in your path of youth sports.

Grace E. Mauzy, M.A.
Founder of GEM Parenting
http://www.GEMParenting.com
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