Hooray for vacation season! I’m feeling blessed to get away, writing from a dorm room at The Garrison Institute, in New York’s renowned Hudson Valley. I’m at a weeklong retreat to learn the communication and self-awareness process called nonviolent communication. It’s intensive work, softened by the exquisite view of the Hudson River from my window.
The philosophy is that in order to be clear and effective in our communications with others, we need to be in touch with what’s alive inside ourselves. Only through self-empathy can we come to have true and meaningful empathy for others.
Our group comprises parents and “parents in waiting” like me. My husband and I are in the process of adopting a child, with both anticipation and nervousness. Will we do it right, and what does that mean? With all the conflicting opinions, theories and ideas circulating, it’s tough to know. Will others judge our decision in ways that may affect our child?
I take heart from the advice of Dr. Adriana Moise, a board-certified pediatrician and Integrative Medicine Fellow who studied with Dr. Andrew Weil. In her Quakertown practice, she encourages parents to ask questions that they may be reluctant or otherwise embarrassed to ask, without fear of being judged.
I’m also grateful when the moms and dads in my retreat circle look at me with love and vulnerability in their eyes and say, “No one knows what they’re doing. We’re just all doing our very best.”
So we huddle around notebooks, coffee mugs in hand, our minds and hearts eager to learn new tools for bringing mindfulness into our family life. We’re all grateful to be provided some kind of “awareness roadmap” for the relational challenges inherent in the parenting journey. Although no one claims to be an expert, we can share what’s working for us.
Like my friend and colleague Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayers, of Elkins Park, who began teaching cooking to her son George in order to address his need to connect with others and stay focused. In her words, “When we cook, George and I work easily in relationship. I may pour and he may stir, or vice versa. We measure, mix and mash in a healthy back and forth way.” Her book, The Kitchen Classroom, and related classes offer a way that parents and kids can practice awareness of one another in a way that’s mutually rewarding, fun and inexpensive (page 22).
I loved learning that at Tinicum Art and Science, cooking is part of the curriculum. For those that prefer sticking close to their own kitchens, Ellen Sue Spicer-Jacobson, of Bala Cynwd, offers a kid-capable recipe from her cookbook, The Whole Foods Experience (page 21).
Kathleen Krol and Jacquelyn O’Malley have excellent suggestions about how we can create the conditions for peaceful communication in the home and steer clear of “tantrum territory” (pages 17 and 18). By minimizing distractions and limiting the number of stimuli in the home environment, we create space and time for both parties to more fully process what’s happening and to respond thoughtfully.
No matter what our parenting philosophy, we can support one another in our shared intention to build strong, happy families. In letting go of our anxieties about what’s good and what’s bad, we can more easily drop into the moment of clarity, love and connection with our kids and ourselves.
To doing our best,
by Barbara Meza
Summer is fully upon us, complete with muggy buggy days and sticky nights. During the heat of the summer months, many people experience seasonal swelling of the extremities: rings will not slide on (or off), footwear is suddenly too tight, clothes are snug or the face is a bit puffy. The root of the discomfort could be lymphatic stagnation, which may be addressed by hydrating and knowing what tastes the body craves.
YIELDS: 12 servings
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- ½ cup nut butter (almond, sunflower seed or peanut)
- ½ cup ground flaxseed
- 1/3 cup honey
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- ½ cup coconut flakes
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free
- 1 medium ripe avocado, washed, peeled and cut in half with pit removed
- 2-3 ripe bananas, peeled
- ½ cup apple juice
- ½ Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder or carob powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder, to taste
- Dried coconut for topping (optional)
PREPARATION: Continue reading
by Julie Ann Allender
Years ago, the teachings were very different with animals. The assumption was that animals had no feelings and didn’t talk. Today, it is no longer acceptable to abuse animals, to use them for animal research where they are treated inhumanely or abused. There are laws to protect animals and they are included in many more aspects of life. People take them in cars, to events and to hotels more frequently. Seat belts are used to keep them safe and they are active in helping people heal as therapy dogs.
by Chrissy Sinatra
School lunches with high levels of undesirable fats and carbohydrates are a huge issue across the nation. How do we get good tasting, healthy food choices in schools that kids will enjoy? Schools need to adopt a sound nutritional philosophy to support their students’ well-being and provide tasty, healthy choices.
by Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer
Slicing fruit for a fruit salad, mixing dough for cookies, creating our own smoothie blends—these are some of the fun and easy ways that I get my kids, George, 12, and June, 9, busy in the kitchen with me. They’ve both learned some serious skills over the years—we’ve been cooking together since George was 4 and June not even 2. The cooking first started as a therapeutic approach to help George learn to focus and engage with others.
by Kathleen Krol
When we are communicating well, both parties walk away with the same understanding from the conversation. However, many times we may find we are working to express ourselves but not feeling heard—and hearing another person talking without really comprehending what it is they are trying to say. When we are busy and caught up in the daily in and out of our routines, clear communication can be lost along the way. For adults interacting with children, there are added complexities.
by Jacquelyn O’Malley
We can be happier, less stressed and more effective parents simply by paying attention and pausing to breathe. These simple ideas form the heart of mindfulness, a type of focused concentration and meditative breathing that’s emerged into the national consciousness thanks in part to studies linking it to increased productivity and reduced anxiety.
Jacqui & Company—owned by Jacqueline “Jacqui” Cassel, an intuitive and leadership coach—recently opened a new office at 480 North Gulph Road, in King of Prussia. Cassel serves as a coach and confidant to those that know more is possible in their own lives, for their organizations and in their communities.
Shawn “Real” Savage and his mother, Jean Savage, realized their dream this year with the opening of The Real Marketplace—a coffee, food and consignment shop dedicated to bringing the feel of Center City Philadelphia gourmet shopping to suburban Wyncote.