July school holidays are long and cold, choosing the right place to for a break-away can be more than finding a sunnier spot, we can embrace winter and go somewhere to really escape our routine, rethink our goals and bond as a family.
When we sat down to make a decision we couldn’t agree on something at first, feeling a bit frustrated I picked up the magazines I just bought and there it was! A paradise nestled in the Knysna forest.
Our great escape suddenly became so apparent, we had to take Mish to see the Big Tree! And we absolutely had to stay at The High Acre Forest Cottage with the incredibly creative owners, DP (a friend from my school days) and Hannes. Men of many talents, decorating the cottage certainly is one of their gifts. Everything so perfectly thought out and so fitting for this beautiful forest setting.
Their use of colour is clever, for example the blue on the walls are amazingly warm in winter but cooling in summer! The fabrics used can only be choices of someone who knows his textures and textiles! Not to mention the little nick knacks and art, so right up my ally: eclectic, interesting and creative.
This truly is a home away from home, everything you could possibly dream of having on your break-away. Best of all: it is pet friendly – Gigi was spoiled as much as we were with space and an extra large drinking bowl.
Just a few kilometers from the magical Big Tree and so many beautiful stops and coffee shops, staying here is also very convenient when you want to explore the greater Knysna area. Returning to High Acre Forest Cottage after our daily explorations was just such a treat!
But this is not the only special attribute of High Acre Forest Cottage, DP & Hannes are both avid gardeners and they grow anything and everything from food to flowers. As a fellow gardener, I couldn’t resist! More in my next blog post and some of my gardening tips and treats.
There are so many activities you can do with your kids, some super fun, some not so fun, and I think reading is one of those not so fun activities, because you may think its the best thing in the world to cuddle up in quiet relaxation with your favourite story, for kids today, with so many physical and cyber activities, it is almost impossible to convince an eight year old to sit down and chill with a book.
So I decided to get a secret weapon, well two weapons: first some professional tips from professionals and second take her to the most amazing book shop in South Africa.
Contrary to what some people believe, learning to read is not a ‘natural’ process that happens all on its own. It’s a complex one that requires the proper teaching of various skills and strategies, such as phonics (knowing the relationship between letters and sounds) and phonemic awareness. https://readingeggs.co.za
First things first:
10 simple steps to teach your child to read at home:
1. Use songs and nursery rhymes to build phonemic awareness
This playful and bonding activity is a fantastic way for kids to implicitly develop the literacy skills that will set them up for reading success.
2. Make simple word cards at home
Cut out simple cards and write a word containing three sounds on each one (e.g. ram, sat, pig, top, sun, pot, fin).
3. Engage your child in a print-rich environment
Create daily opportunities to build your child’s reading skills by creating a print‑rich environment at home. Seeing printed words (on posters, charts, books, labels etc.) enables children to see and apply connections between sounds and letter symbols.
4. Play word games at home or in the car
For example, start by asking questions like “What sound does the word start with?” “What sound does the word end with?” “What words start with the sound ?” and “What word rhymes with ?”.
5. Understand the core skills involved in teaching kids to read
It’s important to remember that learning to read involves various different skills. There are five essential components of reading that you can read about here. These are the skills all children need in order to successfully learn how to read. In summary, these include:
Phonemic awareness – the ability to hear and manipulate the different sounds in words
Phonics – recognising the connection between letters and the sounds they make
Vocabulary – understanding the meaning of words, their definitions, and their context
Reading comprehension – understand the meaning of text, both in storybooks and information books
Fluency – the ability to read aloud with speed, understanding and accuracy
6. Play with letter magnets
Middle vowel sounds can be tricky for some children, which is why this activity can be so helpful. Prepare letter magnets on the fridge and pull the vowels to one side (a, e, i, o, u). To help them, say each vowel sound aloud (/ayh/, /eh/, /ih/, /awe/, /uh/) while pointing at its letter, and ask your child which one makes a sound similar to the middle sound.
7. Harness the power of technology to keep your child engaged
Learning to read should be an enjoyable process in order to keep kids motivated to improve.
8. Read together on a daily basis and ask questions about the book
A lot of people don’t realise just how many skills can be picked up through the simple act of reading to a child. Not only are you showing them how to sound out words, you’re also building key comprehension skills, growing their vocabulary, and letting them hear what a fluent reader sounds like.
9. Play games to memorise high-frequency sight words every day
The strategy for learning sight words is, “See the word, say the word”. Learning to identify and read sight words is essential for young children to become fluent readers.
10. Be patient; the best way to teach kids to read is to make it fun!
Every child learns at his or her own pace, so always remember the single most important thing you can do is to make it enjoyable. By reading regularly, mixing things up with the activities you choose, and letting your child pick out their own books occasionally, you’ll instill an early love of reading and give them the best chance at reading success in no time.
And that is just what I did, I took Mishka to Hemingways Bookshop. What a gem!
Hemingways of Hermanus is a charming antiquarian and used book store located a stone’s throw from the cliff path in the beautiful seaside town of Hermanus. It’s known as “The most unusual and quirky bookshop in South Africa”. Once inhabited by simple fisher folk, today this locale is a popular tourist destination with its picturesque setting of art galleries, eateries and hotels.
Hemingways Bookshop, an emporium of books and collectibles delights the visitor with its eclectic and nostalgic ambiance.
This little bookshop is exactly how I would imagine a bookshop in Paris would look and feel like, and I am not wrong –
A favourite destination for both locals and visitors, it has been compared to the famous Parisian bookstore, Shakespeare & Company.
Hemingways truly is a sanctuary as well as a celebration of authors who have stood the test of time. I just feel so lucky that I can share this experience with my daughter in our little village, so far removed from Paris.
This may even instill a love for travel along with a love for reading and books. We need more of these wonderful imaginative destinations to awaken some idea of times gone by.
I hope you too can find ways to get your little rascal to sit still and get lost in a good book!
As kids, my sisters and I always thought we were the lamest girls because we spent our holidays learning to do all kinds of crafts. Well, where we grew up malls did not exist and our winters were so long and excruciatingly cold, we didn’t really want to get out anyway.
Today I am incredibly grateful for those housebound holidays because I can spoil a friend or my family with something I made with my own two hands. It just says so much more than a store bought gift, because in this handmade gift lies my time, my feelings and my effort.
Some crafts did not come that easily, and as it sometimes goes with mom and daughter, patience run out. But I did not give up, I took my crochet pin and a few balls of yarn, walked over to my Nan and did not leave until I got it right. Left handed or not!
Of course when boys entered the picture, the crochet kit was buried and was not resurrected until the other day. Finally I have time and head space for crafts again!
Don’t for a second think its like riding a bike, oh no! I had to learn the few basics again and made Mishka a beautiful thick blanket.
A month ago when I featured the beautiful socks and ponchos from Little Yarn Shop I rediscovered this burning desire to create more than a simple stitch blanket. I contacted them and they offer beginners classes. Chane fro the Frogging Fox is an amazing teacher! I learnt to crochet fluffy hats and face rounds, so I am totally hooked again!
There is so much more I want to do! If my mom did not ignite this crafty fire, I would never have thought I had the ability to make something so complicated myself. That is why I am exposing Mishka to crafts too. Even if she doesn’t enjoy every single activity, she will learn something about patience and ability, and perhaps one day be able to crochet a blanket for her own daughter.
It is also a connection point, an activity you can enjoy while spending time with others. This gift of crafting gets passed on from generation to generation, but it is also a way women can get together and share stories while sharing tricks of the trade.
Mishka will spend some time with Granny Ronnie during our winter break, when it seems to rain forever in this part of the country. She still has plenty of time to learn before boys occupy too much of her thoughts and time.
My advice to anyone who wants to start any craft, start simple, find the simplest pattern and a whole lot of youtube videos, set aside time, pour a glass of wine and just start!
There’s a teacher in every town, just ask and you will find. If you are in the Hermanus area @thefroggingfox will teach you a few tricks!
I hope my crochet over-share inspired you to take up that craft you’ve always wanted to master! Not only does it keep you out of trouble, but actually has been proven to be imperative to your mental health:
People who exercised their artistic muscle were 73% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, a condition that can mean memory problems and reduced mental function, than those who didn’t partake in artistic activities. People who did a lot of crafts like woodworking and quilting were 45% less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than people who did not, and computer users were 53% less likely to develop it compared to adults who didn’t use the computer. Social adults were 55% less likely to have memory problems later on than their antisocial peers. BY ALEXANDRA SIFFERLIN – Times APRIL 8, 2015
The little world you imagine, with wood creatures, hollow trees and pretty little flowers, all of that comes to life with The Amazing Thornewood Treasures!
They handcraft and paint every little piece, with so much detail and care.
Wooden toys are long-lasting and with such beautiful pieces you just want to treasure it for generations to come. Mishka loves the bunny family in particular, and come Easter they get special treatment.
The treehouses are perfect for her Sylvanian families.
Thornewood Treasures also make the most wonderful rockers that double up as little play tables when you turn it upside down.
Every mom has a unique experience, from the day you find out you are expecting a child to the day you die. Sometimes we forget that as women, our whole make-up, from our endocrine system to our physical appearance, all of it is part of the intricate honour of being able to bear and mother a child.
The incredible and overwhelming emotional connection that starts, for some from the first sight of that positive line on the pregnancy test, for others somewhere in the second trimester, yet others when you hold your baby for the first time. It doesn’t really matter when, but that connection is undeniably the most important one of your life. And this happens with every child you bear. Not all women make good moms, but most women at some stage of their lives think of having a child, or consider what it may be like. Well, all I can say is quite simple and cliche, it changes you forever.
The month of May is all about Motherhood, it is also my Birthday month and that always reminds me of my mom’s experience as a mother to me. You see, its not just about being a mother, it is about being your mother’s child. So much of what shapes you as a person starts with your very first relationships and of course this starts with your family. We form our world views from what we experience in our family culture, and to me the culture in a two-parent home is often set by the mother. It was the case in my family.
I can go on forever about what it means to me to be Mishka’s mom, but I can’t begin to think about my own motherhood without thinking about my mom and what motherhood meant to her. Yes, generational gaps sometimes cause us to misunderstand each other and our parenting methods, my mom certainly does not always approve of mine. But I learnt so much from my mother about sacrifice and about unconditional love. Raising five children is no easy task, and whenever I feel exhausted from a day driving around to get Mish to all her activities I remember my own mom taking an afternoon nap, after making sure all of us were properly fed, dressed in our sports attire and at our desks doing home work. I remember going into the off-limits grown up sitting room, where everything looked pristine and untouched, there on the couch, my mom with her eyes closed, at peace – I couldn’t get myself to wake her to let her know it’s almost time to get up and start taxiing us around. But never ever did she not wake up on time, it’s as if she had a built in alarm clock, it absolutely amazed me, to this day I am so grateful for every dress she fixed for me, every cake she baked for a school event, every beautiful word she said to make me feel better about disappointing life events.
Being a mother means you no longer think about yourself when you open or close your eyes, it means you never sit down without first thinking if your child has what she needs Being a mother means your heart breaks on a daily basis, and not the silly kind where a boy hurts you, no this heart break is for the little struggles your child faces everyday in the process of growing up, but you can only be there, you can’t change their experiences, because it is what they feel, not what you feel. Being a mom means constantly thinking about your child’s future and what you can do to make sure its a good one.
I’ve also come to realise that all the things I wanted my mom to do differently, I now judge much less harshly, in fact, I now see how she must have felt or thought when she said and done the things that drove me so mad. Being a mother means you learn to see other’s point of views and be more empathetic, less judgmental. Being a mother means you have to say goodbye to all your preconceived ideas about what a good mother is supposed to be.
All we can do as moms is our very best. We will be judged, by other mothers and worst of all by our children. But I take comfort in knowing that today all I have for my mother is respect, despite mistakes and fights and misunderstandings. Being a mother changed me.
Life with an only child can get very interesting because all of our time and attention are focused on this one person. Mishka can come up with the funniest stories and interpret situations in ways that we never imagined. It got me thinking about what the impact of being an only child really is on her development now and in future.
So many couples have children later in life which makes it quite challenging and risky to have a big family. If I just go back to the time I was pregnant with our Mishka (I was 40 at the time) thinking how blessed I am to even be given a chance to fall pregnant. Worrying about a normal pregnancy, about a normal child to be honest. To go through all of that again in two years time just did not make sense to us, especially with chances of genetic disorders rapidly increasing from a age of 35.
Many other couples and even our families think we did Mishka an injustice to only have her, and that we were selfish in our decision. Perhaps it is true, but for us the other risks outweighed the risk of raising a “spoiled only child”. So we got creative and decided that we will make a concerted effort to make Mishka’s life interesting, fun filled and integrated.
That’s why I want to share my experiences with other single-child parents and let you know that it is possible to raise a well rounded, socially integrated only child if you pay attention to a few little things from the beginning.
1. Plenty of activities
This is where Ian and I come in, we make sure we have plenty of play time together. I enjoy outdoor activities like getting on our bicycles and exploring our neighbourhood. We run down to the beach and catch and release rockpool fish. Ian spends time with Mishka indoors after work, they spend hours building lego towns and villages. Sometimes when he is busy in the garage Mishka’s curiosity get the better of her and she has to know what he’s up to, so much so that she now has her own basic toolbox!
2. Pretend Play Kitchen, Doctor and Cleaning Sets
It also happens sometimes that we are just too tied up with work or other projects, but then Mishka knows how to keep herself busy. Only because we showed her how to pretend play and kitted her out with a backyard mud kitchen and gave her a mini cleaning set (no slavery I promise!).
3. Crafty activities
Get a crate together with a few craft activities. For girls it can be anything from tying strings of beads to making masks with cardboard and glitter. Have it stocked and handy, when boredom kicks in it’s a matter of finding a comfortable space and opening up that box to transpose them to a beautiful world of creativity and discovery.
4. Treasure Hunt
This takes a bit of effort from your side but the excitement and anticipation that go with this activity – Priceless! Get creative and have themes for the hunts. Make sure she learns something from it. Include her friends, maybe let her make an invitation for her closest two friends and make a play-date out of it.
5. Give only children the opportunity to interact with other kids
This can easily be done by enrolling your child for after school activities from an early age, this is a crucial time for your child to learn to socialise.
6. Teach your child social skills
This is very important as only children are very easily perceived as being selfish and reluctant to share. You can prevent this by making a point of teaching your child how to share with you and then with other kids or adults. Reward children when they’re being considerate and administer consequences when they aren’t.
7. Make a point of encouraging independence
It is very easy for you to make your child too reliant on you, it is just natural to protect and shelter your child, but unfortunately with an only child there is a very real danger of over protection. This can be avoided by being conscious of your actions and letting your child have fun on her own, give her some chores and responsibilities to emphasize her ability to function on her own (within reason of course).
8. Be careful with your expectations
Now this is easier said than done because after all this is your only chance to shine through your child, there is only one. Haha, jokes aside. Having unrealistic expectations of an only child is a very common pitfall we sometimes just can’t avoid. I am guilty myself, I sometimes expect Mishka to participate in every possible activity, just to make sure I haven’t missed one or two hidden talents. But this can be very harmful to your child’s identity as she may feel that she has to be the best at everything.
My biggest piece of advice is to start the socialisation at home. It will take effort sometimes but setting time aside to get involved in her life, to share fun activities and to teach her how to be part of a team can make the difference between a stereotypical only child and a well integrated and liked human being.
It’s easy when they are little girls and they just hang on every word you say. Growing up means they start having their own opinions and sadly their own time. In between school and activities, not to mention all the shouting and motivating that goes into getting them to do homework – you might find yourself thinking if you do enough to spend real time with your daughter.
Soon she will be in high school and then boys enter the realm. Parties and hanging out with friends. Where will I fit into her life?
I decided to find a way for us to connect and do something that we can always come back to when those teenager years hit and we barely talk. I wanted to start a little tradition for just the two of us, special and away from the hustle and bustle.
Picnics are special because there goes planning into it and having to know each other to pack the right things. I thought that this way she will always know that I know her, because she will find all her favourites in our picnic basket. And we all know that this changes over time and the only way to know is to be observant and to care about her likes and dislikes. This is a very simple way to make her see that I still see her.
You can pick a spot and keep it the same, or you can explore and decide together on where to go next. We are so blessed with many very special spots, with nature and beauty surrounding us. We keep a nature journal to jot down the names of the places we visit and stick the treasures we find in it.
I know that when Mishka is out in nature she is in her element and I hope that when she grows up and feels sad or alone, that she can suggest we take time out and pack a basket. I hope that she will find comfort in our time together and feel free to share her hopes, dreams and fears with me.
Time cannot be bought or replaced. This is the gift I hope to always give my daughter.
It is all about the bunny! The egg hunt dates back thousands of years. But why a bunny? Well it is the goddess Eostre who brought this symbol into this time of the year, as this is Spring in Europe, the time when everything comes to life and she in particular is […]
Easter weekend is a special time for Christian families and in between going to services and honoring the beauty of this time, kids also have time to play and explore with you.
In South Africa Easter is during the beginning of our Autumn and our streets are covered in colourful displays of beautiful leaves. Grab a basket and something warm, find a safe spot to park your car and start gathering! Leaves make great garlands to adorn your home for Easter festivities.
It’s quite simple: collect leaves with petioles (the little stem at the end of a leaf) still attached. Back home, gather a few leaves into a posy and tie the petioles together with a piece of string, leaving a little bit of string available to tie to a long piece of string (the garland string). Make a few posies and then tie it to the string, evenly spaced. Wola! Ready to decorate your home with Autumn!
We may not go to the beach as often as in the summer months so we decided to bring the beach to us! A coastal terrarium is a great way to make use of the special treasures collected on those perfectly sunny beach days.
Line the container with beach sand followed by a layer of pebbles (be careful not to crack the glass container) and cover the pebbles with more beach sand until the container is half full.
Arrange the other elements on a flat surface as you plan to have it inside the container. Start placing one element at a time on the sand in the glass container. This is another very pretty addition to your Easter table.
Our terrarium contains beautiful shells from Struisbaai beach, collected on a family weekend away. It’s a wonderful way to share memories and revisit special times.
Spending time together during Easter is one of the best ways to commemorate the love of Jesus for his ‘family’. It doesn’t have to be spent indoors and cooped up all weekend, explore and collect and enjoy fun projects with your kids while you have a little bit extra time.
Lillie & Me is a Cape Town based manufacturer of beautiful handmade genuine leather kiddies and mommy apparel.
You just have to browse through her Facebook page to fall in love with the teeny tine leather shoes and when you just think you’ve seen it all, she comes up with practical solutions to outings with your little one. I absolutely love the Diaper Clutch Bag – It’s got space for: a Full pack of wipes, 2 Diapers, Bum cream AND You can pop in your phone, keys and cash! This is perfect for a no nonsense mommy!
My days of worrying about diapers are long gone, but the genuine leather backpack with adjustable straps is my favourite at the moment. It is complete with a waterproof lining, perfect for your little girl or boy’s lunch box and extra clothing. The best part is that it is personalised with your child’s name on it.
So much care and love go into every design, including bibs and breastfeeding covers to mention a few of her products. To me this is exactly what I value about slow fashion, unique and not mass produced!
This is where we find the freshest, most wholesome ingredients for our slow living. Whether we are stocking up the fridge or looking to treat our basic ailments, Deon is always friendly and helpful, with our health at the forefront. Simple things like replacing cow’s milk with goats milk can be tricky if you don’t […]
Don’t we all wish as we reach our middle age that we had a little bit more information about this often misused word, love, when we first fell in love and experienced heartbreak. I know that my journey to find love was long and sometimes unbearable. It took tremendous introspection and revisiting painful and confusing […]
Blue, pink, green or white, these hard to miss voluptuous flower heads captivate us throughout summer. We enjoy them as gifts during our Summer Christmases, and we enjoy them us cut flowers (which dry beautifully too) and then there’s this place, where they just grow in abundance, The Pool Room at Oak Valley Wines. The […]
We start our Christmas vibes round about November, the same time our weather starts warming up nicely on the West coast. The Southern Hemisphere is very different from what is traditionally celebrated as a snowy time. We indulge in sunshine and beach lunches, and for Christmas we usually celebrate on the eve of the 24th. […]
Turning Seven already? How many times do we feel life is just happening so fast! Especially when you see your baby become a little girl with her own ideas and ever-growing curiosity. Choosing what to do on your Birthday is always fun, and this year I left Mishka to decide on the activities, I just […]
You have a load to carry, not to mention a very tired little one after a long day on the beach, at a picnic or on the camping site. The streamlined, all-black Wonder Wagon has pockets for everything. Easily accessible drinking- bottle storage in the front and all the rest fits neatly in the large […]
Moving house twice in less than a year takes its toll on a family’s ability to really root itself in a community. Not to mention the impact it has on children. Oh and a marriage, we laugh about it now, but while you’re in the middle of it that one last bowl which has to […]
When entering Terra Madre farm you immediately get a sense of an old worldly goodness, where everything is fresh and organic!What struck me most was Nicole’s incredible hospitality, but when I learned more about her and her family it all made sense. This has been her dream for more than twenty years! Owning and running […]
So many factors contribute to making a mind-shift towards living a more responsible life. I’m not talking about being boring and judgemental, I’m referring to our responsibility as custodians of our natural world. For us, it was definitely moving out of the city and to the coast. It is as if our attention transposed from […]
I am one of five and two of them have three of their own. My choice to have one child often sparks interesting conversations, sometimes even heated debates. Is there a right or wrong when it comes to the number of children you choose to have, more specifically does it negatively impact on the child? […]
Kite Days A kite, a sky, and a good firm breeze And acres of ground away from trees. And one hundred yards of clean, strong string– O boy, O boy! I call that Spring! Mark Sawyer The wonderful sense of freedom associated with flying a kite is priceless, which is a bit paradoxical if you […]
As part our appreciation for Agriculture, we visited a few beautiful farms in and around the Hermanus area. I can’t get enough of the simple life so many people are creating for themselves on the little pieces of land. What could be more fulfilling than producing your own food, let alone share your surplus with […]
Why do we celebrate Mother’s day when I would really like to celebrate my daughter! Being Mishka’s mom is the greatest honour and joy of my life. I get to spend time with this amazing person who wants to spend time with me too. It is just the most overwhelming feeling of companionship and admiration. […]
Projects with heart and soul, a conservation goal and community upliftment motives are exactly the kind of good news stories we love to tell. We want to thank Heart of Abalone for taking us on this very special private tour to admire the wonderful work of Abagold Farm in Hermanus. Heart of Abalone is the […]
WoolVreign was born out of a need to share the miracle that is wool with all babies. The small farm, Blauwkrans-Wes, situated between Graaff-Reinett and Jansenville in the Karoo, Eastern Cape was the starting point and is still the heartbeat within WoolVreign. This is a beautiful area, but so hard, arid and mostly very dry […]
I still remember the day I discovered Matsidiso, it was after many Pinterest pins and never finding anything remotely close to what I see from overseas manufacturers. I always dreamt of being able to go to Italy or Spain to get my very own genuine leather, authentically handcrafted shoes! But then out of nowhere, I […]
We were rushing out to a dinner party at friends and Mishka kept on going back to her room for more doll accessories: “no mommy I have to get her bottles because we will be away for a long time and she will get hungry, no mommy I have to go back for her blankie,” […]
After spending a beautiful day at Landmeterskop Farm, surrounded by hatchlings and sheep I realised how little time our kids spend on farms these days. I was lucky to have two uncles and grandfather who farmed. Many holidays were spent on these farms. During those visits, we waited for the cows to come home for their […]
Nothing quite nourishes the soul like a morning spent with your kids in the garden. We do this often, but very few of us know how incredibly fertile and productive our immediate natural surroundings are. Foraging for our own berries or herbs can be immensely satisfying and tunes right into our beautiful primitive nature. Our […]
To us, it is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb after his crucifixion. We are grateful that He died for our sins, it gives us hope every day. We love spending time together as a family, even though we are a small family now, living in Hermanus, far away […]
Their concept is simple, their food absolutely delicious! I’ve always been very sceptical about ready meals because we’ve been brought up to believe that nothing in a box can ever be as good as mum’s! So the stigma died very hard for me. I am a true believer of making everything from scratch, be it […]
Mindfulness should be practical whether you live on a farm or in a city-centre apartment. It IS for everyone. If you are in the moment, you are mindful. Being in the moment is about getting out of your head and into your body, experiencing what is here and now, not regretting yesterday or fearing tomorrow. […]
As promised, a little bit more about Fairy Caravan’s Stories and Activities. Diana learns to meditate Diana Dassie used to be a bit of a worry-pot. “What if I’m late for school?” “How will I get dry if it rains today?” “What if there’s a spider hiding under my chair?” One morning, walking and […]
Liesl van der Hoven – what a remarkable woman! The creator of Fairy Caravan, the story therapist, the inspiration of mindfulness, to me and to many children. What an absolutely genius idea! “Liesl is an artist, story teller and the owner of Fairy Caravan. She creates handmade toy characters using her illustrations printed on fabric. […]
We became aware of the concept of mindfulness when our lives started moving too fast for us to make sense of it. One moment you are dating and living in a little apartment, the next you have a home larger than you ever imagined, a child in pre-school with activities every afternoon, keeping up with the Van der Merwe’s and just charging through life. It’s when someone else stands in your garden and admires the beautiful green haven, you realise, I don’t even notice it anymore, I don’t appreciate this enough. Then all the other questions follow, the ones bringing you to a stand-still and forcing you to ask what are we doing?
It took us two years to plan our exodus, our liberation and freedom from all of this stuff, the racing about, towards more and more stuff.
In the process, I started reading up on mindfulness, because I heard it somewhere or stumbled upon it on social media, but it struck a chord. This is what it basically is:
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”Mindful.org
That in itself is so much to grasp. It translates to not being too caught up in the noise, in the hustle, but to understand that you are here, in THIS moment, in mind and body.
Reach Out explains it as:
“Mindfulness is about training yourself to pay attention in a specific way.
When a person is mindful, they:
Focus on the present moment
Try not to think about anything that went on in the past or that might be coming up in future
Purposefully concentrate on what’s happening around them
Try not to be judgemental about anything they notice, or label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
To me, this is core, non-judgemental. What does it mean? Try to imagine not judging a person, or an experience or a product. As James Davis puts is:
Mindfulness is really the beginning, the first steps of soul consciousness. In order to see ourselves and others in a non-judgmental way, we must see ourselves (body, mind, emotion, world) from ABOVE. So mindfulness is taking control by going off-automatic-pilot, and it is the soul that does this.
Are you convinced yet? Me neither, it is still very abstract, an idea. How do we implement this? How do we live this? To clarify it for me I had to go back to an old time favourite source, which helped me all through my ‘wonder’ years (I wonder why this, I wonder how this) – How to for Dummies!
According to dummies you should try and understand the three aspects of Mindfulness:
Mindfulness has three different aspects that operate together seamlessly to bring about a state of mindful awareness. Print out and pin up this list to remind yourself of what these are.
Intention – Your intention is what you hope to get from practising mindfulness. You may want stress reduction, greater emotional balance or to discover your true nature. The strength of your intention helps to motivate you to practise mindfulness on a daily basis and shapes the quality of your mindful awareness.
Attention – Mindfulness is about paying attention to your inner or outer experience. Your mindful attention is mainly developed through various different types of meditation – either formal, traditional or informal – when talking, cleaning or driving, for example.
Attitude – Mindfulness involves paying attention to certain attitudes, such as curiosity, acceptance and kindness.
Okay, so now I understand the concept, but how do I utilise this knowledge. Because when you are dealing with a real issue, can you go back and think about the three aspects and magically feel better?
Dummies helped me again! With the RAINformula:
R – Recognisethe emotion you’re feeling. Name the emotion in your mind if you can.
A – Acceptthe experience you’re having. Yes, you probably don’t like the feeling, but the reality is the emotion is here at the moment.
I – Investigate. Become curious about your experience. Where do you feel the emotion in your body? What kind of thoughts are going through your mind?
N – Non-identification. See the emotion as a passing event rather than who you actually are, just as different images are reflected in a mirror but are not the mirror. Different emotions arise and pass in you, but are not you, yourself. The most powerful step is non-identification. Have the attitude ‘anger is arising and will soon pass away’ or ‘sadness is coming up in me, and at some point will dissolve’.
Sometimes you just need to do one step, whereas at other times you may want to work through the whole formula. Practise using the formula whenever you can, so when things become challenging for you, you’ll find it easier to use.
We are still a long way from perfecting this practice, but we do it daily, at one moment or another, just reminding ourselves to recognise the beauty of our surroundings while rushing to be on time for a school activity, or accept that we have a challenge living through a drought but understand that our attitude will determine our outlook and possibility to find solutions for it.
I was so lucky to find Gillian Coetzee! What I love most about her work is the depth and natural tone of her photographs. She has insight into the message I want to convey and captures essential moments and expressions as it happens.
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