What Children Remember ~ Being instead of Buying
I remember...the glow of the setting sun by the ocean and feeling overcome by a dreamy lull while burrowed in the hot sand, a crackling fire on stay up late nights, trips to the ice cream store, sandy feet and tangled hair before showering, the house filled with the aromas of dinner on the stove, music in the air, bright lights and dancing to the rhythms of African drumming on the beach and later in our own living room...
The juxtaposition of the beach in the city filled my childhood with sensual sights, sounds, tastes and feelings that are unforgettable to this day!"
It was a different time, but it's so interesting to look back at these special memories and appreciate their value was in just 'being'. This is one of the gifts of summer. It's potential spaciousness stimulates other senses, bringing them to the foreground. Minds and hearts have a chance to engage and refresh naturally through open ended experiences that align an awareness of life and living with a deeper relationship to ourselves.
Taking time to share and integrate such thoughts, and feelings with children each day, strengthens these connections that are the foundation of 'being'. To support this process, parents can model stopping, taking a deep breath and slowing down, encouraging their children to do the same, as a first step to tune into themselves. Ask them, “What was your favorite moment today?" or "What are you thankful for today?" This is a powerful habit to establish at bedtime, or any other appropriate time, and in all seasons, if you have not done so as yet.
What children remember will reveal who they are right now. The more mundane and ordinary recollections, where there is no particular agenda or attachment to anything material, may surprise and delight. Accept your children's responses whatever they may be to get the ball rolling. Keep it short and simple. There are no right or wrong answers. A favorite toy or activity can be celebrated for the joy it brings rather than the thing itself. My family did not do this particular ritual. If they had opened this doorway to reflection, understanding and meaningful conversation, it would have been one more to add to my list of cherished memories.
Sharing Seeds of LOVE IN ACTION
Summer 2016 with Dad
This is my dad, Russel DeSalvo, seventh child of Italian parents that immigrated to America in the 1920’s. He was a toddler when the great depression hit, shaping his character and worldview of hard work, not taking things for granted and the importance of helping others. Everyone has always said I look just like him, and I do, but my eyes and philosophical nature are after my Irish mom.
As you know, caring for an elderly person is not unlike caring for a child. Although I do not have children of my own I know it requires the same attention to their needs, sensitivity in responding rather than reacting, patience, compassion and joyful interaction.
It was suggested to me recently, by my most influential life long teacher, that the seeds planted in the garden of our lives need to carry us through to the end. It made me think about the seeds from my childhood planted by my parents, in my father's garden by his parents? Those I've plucked and planted in myself? What perennials are still around? What seeds do I nourish or contribute to the gardens of the children I teach?
Some seeds root deep and sprout big. Others wither in the soil never to see the light of day. While others seem to bud and flower at different stages through the journey of one's life, or pop out unexpectedly. Every year is a chance to sow and reap again. But what are those seeds that will carry us till our last breath? Daily crisis, not unlike unpredictable weather, can leave young shoots bruised, or broken from unforeseen events. But what we've seen from nature, another great teacher, is that when strong seeds are rooted in fertile soil the potential for growth, discovery and yearly renewal is everlasting as long as we are attentive gardeners. And that goes for ourselves too, not just our children.
What I have learned, that I can say I know for sure, is that we are born with the seeds of love in our hearts! Love and acceptance are the most essential seeds to be nourished from the moment we are born. However their resilience can be cultivated through all of life's ups and downs. From this can blossom the flower of self-understanding, which makes it possible to grow up to be compassionate gardeners of our own patch on earth and to those of others. When we are older we are both the garden and observant gardener learning to sense when to plant, prune, pull and pick for ourselves. Then, enjoying the gifts of life, sustained by the beauty that manifests as it relates to all that is and from which we are not separate, is the revealing of love unfolding in our hearts moment by moment.
I am thankful for my parents, my first gardeners, and all those that have followed, in helping me to grow as well as understand the role of 'gardener'. So it is with joy, in tending now to my elderly father, that I make sure his view of the garden is clear so that he can see and feel the love he helped sow. Similarly when teaching, I wish to scatter a little goodness in the soil and be a light in the sky, affirming love, indeed, is what carries us through from beginning to end displayed in the promise of the sun's rising and setting each day.
Dedicated to Cheryl Stoll.