Posts Tagged ‘living in the moment’

The Joke’s on You!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Well, it’s here once again… April Fool’s Day. Even though I tend to fall for most pranks on this silly day, I still love it. Here at Chinaberry, there is laughter coming from all corners of our building. We are a company that laughs often normally, but today light-heartedness abounds. April Fool’s Day reminds me not to take life so seriously and to recognize the revitalizing, cathartic and stress-reducing attributes of laughing. I love the times when I laugh so hard that tears come streaming down my face. I especially like when I’m open to letting this happen as a family. Being a single parent, I feel as if I spend way too much time being the nagging, multi-tasking, no-fun disciplinarian. My six-year-old twin girls LOVE to laugh-everything is funny to them. “Why did the chicken cross the road? Because he wanted to.”-jokes that only kids can fully appreciate. When I can “let my guard down,” the results are spontaneous family bonding & fun.

One of our best fits of laughter as a family came when my then 5-year-old girls and I were attempting to play badminton in our front yard (they for the first time). All the air swinging, jumping, being hit on the top of the head with the birdie, having the birdie land in the perfect spot in the tree-it was too much to take-I felt as if we were in an “I Love Lucy” skit. After being so serious about trying to hit the birdie, we finally just broke down in laughter. My girls couldn’t exactly figure out why I was crying so much, as usually crying is preceded by sadness or utter exhaustion. The girls and I enjoy remembering that moment. My wish is that I can create more space for humor in our lives.

The Chinaberry April Fool’s Day tradition:
Our Customer Service Manager, Patti, had made it a tradition early in the day on each April 1st, to announce over the office intercom, “Donuts in the break room.” Almost every year an unsuspecting Chinaberry newbie comes rushing into the break room to discover… no donuts and a foolish look on their face. The first year, Patti heard the oncoming stampede of hungry, hardworking warehouse workers rushing into the break room. This has been a Chinaberry tradition for 14 years now. Well, today, Patti changed it up a bit and actually brought donuts. Of course, except for a few fellow tricksters, everyone else thought “There she goes again. Won’t she ever stop that joke? Nobody falls for that one anymore.” So, the donuts sat there undisturbed by the masses until the real joke happened once her co-workers found the donuts. Maybe this is a ‘you had to be there’ kind of prank, but it sure had us Chinaberrians laughing out loud.

Please share one of the funniest pranks you encountered today-and remember to keep your sense of humor active throughout the day and all year round.

Fully Engaging With Our Children

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Janet's daughter and grandson

When I was recently at the grocery store with my 5-year-old grandson, the clerk asked if I’d like help out to the car. But, umm, all I had bought was a carton of eggs. I laughed and said that while I may be a grandma, I’m not too feeble to carry a dozen eggs to my car! The dour clerk told me they had to ask everyone that question or they’d ‘get in trouble.’ She then smiled and said, ‘Have a nice day!’ (You just know she’d also be in hot water if she didn’t say that!)

As a grandmother who wants her grandson to grow up to be a common-sense kind of guy and an independent thinker, I felt I had been handed one of those ‘teachable moments.’ For the life of me, though, I was at a loss about what to say! I so wanted to instill in him the value of thinking something through rather than just doing what you’re told because somebody said you’d ‘get in trouble’ if you didn’t. Suddenly I felt like a loser grandma because I didn’t have a clue how to get this principle across to a 5-year-old. Yikes. Why do we always put such pressure on ourselves to suddenly transform into Ward Cleaver at times like this? Why do I always feel as if I should have pearls of wisdom dropping from my mouth around my grandson? But mindful parenting (and grandparenting!) isn’t scripted any more than mindful customer service is (take note, big grocery store chain!), and it usually isn’t what we ’say’ to children that makes the lasting impression. It’s all the gloriously messy and rich and colorful stuff in between. It’s about fully engaging with our children on a daily basis, being in the moment rather than going by a script as we explore critters in the backyard, learn a new board game, or try a ‘yucky’ new food.

Years ago, my mother-in-law cautioned me not to parent too much ‘by the book,’ and she was right. In retrospect, when I think of the things I did right as a parent, it was allowing my daughter to explore at her own pace, and many times that meant refraining from pressing for that ‘teachable moment.’ Sometimes in our eagerness to be the ‘best’ parents we can be, we end up overstimulating our children with unduly long lectures and the latest ‘educational’ toys, bombarding them with so many activities and so much stuff that their little brains and souls go on overload.

With this new year, my wish is that we remember the importance of nurturing our child’s natural curiosity and thought processes, and that we cut ourselves some slack regarding the ways we go about doing it. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children (and ourselves) is simply to be there for them with open ears and hearts, lovingly listening, patiently guiding. Call it mindful parenting or just plain common sense; you can’t go wrong with this approach.

Mindful Movements - Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) teaches mindfulness, meditation and awareness, gratefulness, and knowing how to live life fully in the present moment. His simple approach works well with both children and adults. This wonderful little book is perfect for families. The illustrations and simple language will appeal to children, yet the movements are profound and deeply effective for all ages, and we can do them the rest of our lives.

In the included DVD (video clip below), the exercises are taught outside beneath a beautiful willow tree by one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s students and then re-led by Thay himself. ”The practice of the Mindful Movements is to bring awareness and enjoyment into our bodies and into the movements we make with our bodies. Mindful Movements are very simple but very deep. They have been taught and practiced in Plum Village (Thay’s retreat center in France) for over two decades.”

I have been doing the Mindful Movements every morning and can feel how much my body, mind, and spirit are benefiting. I especially like the emphasis on breath. ”We often assume breathing is a natural skill. But breathing is a miracle. Being aware of our breath not only helps us manage the difficulties in everyday life, it also helps develop our wisdom and compassion.”

I plan to give this book to all my favorite people. A portion of the proceeds goes to nonprofit projects in Vietnam, and purchasing the book supports Thich Nhat Hanh in continuing to bring his profound gifts to the world.

Enjoy this video clip from Thick Nhat Hanh’s DVD Mindful Movements:

Letting Go During the Holidays

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Sometimes my unbound enthusiasm can make me go a little bit overboard during the holidays. My mind, buzzing with creative ideas, keeps coming up with just one more thing to cook, to make and to experience, until I am simply exhausted, thus losing the fun of the holidays by trying to do too much. I have bestowed on myself the huge responsibility of making the holidays magical for my family. This responsibility used to be a joy back when our family was smaller and the children were younger. But our increasingly complex lives now make this joy feel more like a chore.

The paradox is that the very things I like the most about Christmas-the magic, the surprises, the joy-were being destroyed by my best efforts to make sure they happened! It has taken years, but I have finally learned that the less I do and the more I can just be present in the moment, the more likely it is for my mythical, magical Christmas feeling to appear.

So if you find the holidays somewhat lacking or even forced (as if you have been trying too hard for too long), try simplifying what they mean to you. Identify the essence of the holiday and make sure to choose activities that celebrate the true meaning of the day (or days). Once I simplified my expectations, my true desires seemed much more manageable and made much more sense to me because they were now undeniably heartfelt.

And you know the funniest thing is, once we started really focusing on what Christmas truly meant to us, our material wants diminished and all the magic I was seeking flourished in our hearts quite by accident.

Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I learned a fair amount about parenting from my “firstborn,” a larger-than-life golden retriever. Perhaps the most important lesson she taught me was to never underestimate the value of a good hello. Every day after work, I would come home to a whirling dervish of a dog. I soon learned that how I handled those first few moments of togetherness could make or break the quality of my (our!) evening.

A quick ruffling of her head with a “Hey there, Sandra McJean!” meant I’d be in for a long evening of “Stop chewing on the armoire!” and “Why are you barking?!” On the other hand, if I gave Sandy 10 minutes of undivided attention upon my arrival, it made all the difference. Given a little play time, some serious petting, and encouraging words, she’d be good to go for the rest of the night. When I became mother to my first daughter, I recognized the drill! Sure enough, the tone for an entire evening had a lot to do with how those first few minutes were managed. Did my daughter feel seen and heard-truly welcomed and full of my love for her, or did she feel overlooked and insignificant, leaving her empty and wanting more, more, MORE!? (more…)

Words of Wisdom from Stacia Tauscher

Friday, October 10th, 2008

”We worry about what a child will be tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” — Stacia Tauscher