Friday, March 28, 2014

Montessori homage in Italy

When I first decided to study Montessori it was partially due to a dream I had in which I was standing in a small wooden school/alter at the edge of our farm and on the wall hung a beautiful painting of one of my Italian female ancestors and Maria Montessori.  As I looked at the image, Maria stepped out from the painting and held out her hand toward me.  She opened her fingers and exposed a beautiful egg.  In the dream I felt that she was offering me the egg as a metaphor for the future and a challenge to go forth and evolve early childhood education.  
I began my first Montessori training program a few months later.
Now I am studying the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education while in Italy.  I  thought many times of her during the days of lecture and I thought of her challenge.  
Yesterday I found myself standing  before this tomb while wondering through an elaborate cemetery in Reggio.  In that moment I felt the strength of that challenge coursing through my veins.
I will to do great things.


my roomie and travel sister

 Here is a shout out to my travel sistah' Kirsten and Pal Ina.
Kirsten was a fabulous traveling companion, thoroughly capable of changing directions on a dime, non plussed by getting lost and found a dozen times daily, open to any restaurant.  We are both free spirits and equally adventurous.  It was a fabulous traveling experience without anyone asking what our plans were since neither of us ever really had one.

Milano

 Milan...fashion, graffiti, and lots of city!!!!!  I am gearing for my trip home and imagining the next trip to Italy.  Perhaps I will fly into Turino and head directly to the Amalfi coast.
Preferably with my David and Owen, both of whom would love this place. Italy would be much more fun with David's arms around me and his camera capturing shots, and with Owen oogling the sights for the first time.
 As it was we discovered that  Italian men can be very aggressive.  We were grabbed, chased, followed and yelled at.  Ah female objectification seems to be a universal concern
I leave tomorrow morning for home.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Reggio wandering

 We slept til 11AM.  Literally.  Then pulled ourselves together and went out wandering in the city.  The colors here are so beautiful, each one playing off the other in a palette of Tuscan beauty.
 I have to say that my nature soul is missing soft earth and the open splendor of wide horizons but the brick and stone streets curving down alleys opening onto inviting piazzas are beautiful in their own right.
 There is an inordinate amount of graffiti here and all of it appears to be fairly recent.  It is interesting.  This one struck me.  The artist suggesting a bunny, projecting a shadow hand onto the wall, was such a wonderful inside-out perspective.  It reminded me of one of the lessons of this trip, drop your assumptions of what IS and allow space for what can BE.
I'm looking forward to a return trip home on Saturday into David's arms and my boys' sweet smiles.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

supper at 61.1 in Reggio Emila

 So dinner was FANTASTIC!! We went to a fabulous restaurant on a little side street.  I was with a gaggle of women led by two of our instructors and the restaurant we had initally set off for was closed. We began wandering down alleys in search of possibilities when we spotted a lovely Italian couple.  In my very worst italian and very biggest smile I asked them "Dove' bene ristorante?"  To which she replied in perfect English that there were a number to choose from and pointed us in the direction of 61.1 where she and her husband were dining for the evening.  We walked together over cobblestone streets to glass doors that opened onto a beautiful room with great art, ambiance, people and FOOD.  We ate with abandon and talked for the next three hours.
 I love Italy!  How there is no real rush and everything is intentionally slowed down so that life can be savored.
 Now off to bed.  Ciao!

Beauty-full

I found this graffiti on a wall in the piazza below and stopped in front of it.  Being called Bird for most of my life there was a dreamlike moment when it seemed as if those words were written on that wall specifically for me.  A message in Italy.  I felt my Grande's hand press mine from her spirit vantage and whisper cara mia in my ear.
Life is Beauty-full.  It took me awhile to get my wings and see that...really see that...but it is beauty full.  I am thankful beyond words for my David who taught me the value of giving AND receiving love and for my two boys who remind me daily to see beauty everywhere and add more wherever I go.  And I am grateful for each of you, for all the beauty you bring, every day and wherever you are.  I love you!
 And here is an Italian selfie...40's really are wonderful.



Reggio

 I spent the day in Reggio Emila.
This morning began with a walk after breakfast of shaved meat and some blue corn tortilla chips I had with me from home.   Next, we convened as a group at the Loris Malaguzzi Center for an orientation and introductions.  For lunch they served us an incredible meal and for me they had gluten free tortellini and pasta and pizza with a big salad and steamed vegetables...HELLO ITALY!  It was wonderful.  I spoke with so many amazing educators from around the world.  I ended up in a deep conversation with a beautiful Reggio liaison from Israel.  She was an inspiration and reminded me of the deep value in developing WHO we are in order to see real changes in HOW we operate.  Next, we went on a walking tour of the city.  My group was led by Amelia Gambetti's husband and he showed us the city through a lens of history and story telling.  Now we prepare for a late supper with a few friends.
 It is beautiful here!  Ripe with color and beauty and history and art.
 Each alley opens up with possibilities, whispering of new sights and smells.  I wish I could take them all.
We stumbled on an antique car show and I snapped this photo for my David.  I will post more pictures as I go.  The internet is slow here, functioning on Italian time, so brevity will be primary.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Relax

 Love is.
 Life is.
 One.
 Consider the lillies, they toil not and neither do they sow and yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.
Miracles are all around us, in every blade of grass, ray of sunshine and whistle of song bird.
Relax.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Enjoy the ride

I was seven years old and it was my first recollected trip to Disney Land with my two brothers, Danny and Davey, ages 5 and 9 respectively.  My younger brother, Danny, and I were joined at the proverbial hip, mouths hanging slightly agape, eyes filled with wonder, mouse ears and an overload of color.  My elder brother Davey, wanted to ride Space Mountain, a ride that was no doubt thrilling for him but filled my younger brother with a belly rumbling sense of dread.   Danny and I were safety harnessed into what felt like our doom and a large bar was lowered and latched in front of us. We sat hands gripped, white-knuckles exposed, breath faltering.  Danny was expressly terrified and I worried over his response to our impending end.  My older brother sat in front of us, grinning broadly, hungrily ready to set off.  The ride jostled forward at what seemed like a break-neck speed and Danny clung to my arm, screaming with ear splitting terror.  I tried to comfort him over the next several minutes while he predicted our inevitable doom and our older brother yelled back at us that we were "gonna go upside down and flip soon".  To which Danny wailed louder and tried to crawl into the base of car in an effort to attain safety.  I tried to assure him that was an unwise choice considering our speedy descent into the bowels of hell.  I was holding him, breathlessly assuring him that Davey was surely lying and we were not  actually scheduled for death at this early hour of life.  It was the worst ride in recorded history.  When we rolled to the finish, Danny stopped crying took a deep breath and announced, "THAT WAS AWESOME!!! LET'S DO IT AGAIN!"  I stared in disbelief and almost throttled him on the spot.  I would have had I not been too busy nursing an ulcer and brushing back my newly acquired grey locks.
I think about that day often.
I think life is like that ride sometimes.
We have a choice.  We can scream and be miserable.  We can control or try to comfort.  We can gag back terror OR we can just throw our arms in the air and ENJOY the ride.
WEEEEEEEEE!
The choice is ours.   The ride doesn't change but our experience is drastically altered by the quality of our engagement.

Friday, January 24, 2014

my man


 There is a time for every season.
 A time to know love...
 A time to know peace...
I am enjoying my time.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

motherhood

The evening rolls toward it's slumbering end.  Owen finishes up his calls to Illinois family.  Bodhi still denies any hint of exhaustion and sings audibly invented songs with the enthusiasm of a drunken sailor.  The dog's tags rattle as she makes her well worn trek to the water bowl.  Bodhi's pet rats scurry from freshly filled food bowl back to their hammock bed, no doubt filling the cage with mess as they go. Bodhi's bawdy chant changes to "tucky, tuck, Bodhi in-y", which means he is finally ready to give in to the night.
Kisses.
Hugs.
Tuck-Tuck.
Owen calls out that he is ready.  Thirteen with temporary amnesia anytime he encounters me in the presence of peers, he still asks for his "tuck-time" when the lights go out.
Bodhi's snores fill our quiet house.
Ahh.  Peace.  Gratitude.
A house full of boy-love and memories fresh from a day overflowing with gifts.
Motherhood.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Gratitude


I have been less “blog occupied” amidst work, graduate school, surgery and its complications, motherhood and a thousand reasons to feel gratitude.  I have been less intent upon reflecting on my life and more intent on fully living it, moment by moment and day by day. The beauty inherent in every sunrise often astonishes me. Bodhi’s big spirited laugh fills the walls of our home with mirth and enthusiasm.  Owen’s gentle depth tempts me often into big water with an open heart.  The beauty of the senses and the season fill me repeatedly with awe.  AND our life has been very blessed with the addition of this beautiful man.  His name is David and he has been in my life for over a year now.  In that time my heart has healed and grown, has literally been re-wired and re-booted by a team of surgeons and that same dear, loving heart has learned to receive love in a profound way.  I am profoundly grateful for his presence in our life and the continued gift of his love and care.  For those of you who don’t know him, I’d like to introduce you to David.
That’s the update is miniature.

Monday, December 23, 2013

holiday wishes and heart surgery

Heart Surgery.
Brain Trauma.
Holidays.
A trio that may at first seem less than sublime but together they have united to bring me more blessings then I could have hoped for.
It has been a season full of unexpected gifts, lessons and insights.
On November 18th I underwent a fairly simple heart surgery.  I was able to remain conscious and meditating throughout the nearly five hour procedure and was astonished by the peace and well being I felt throughout.  Following the surgery I had some unexpected complications which led to extreme fatigue and periodic syncope. A serious concussion occurred a week later.  I was unconscious for some time.  Upon waking, I couldn't remember my children for several hours or who I was.  I couldn't assimilate speech or complex thought.  I am just now remembering how to process written word and to write.
For the past month, my well exercised brain has been quietly simple.  For days on end I sat contentedly without books or technology, not really thinking at all.  I sat as my heart healed and brain mended in more ways than one.
It was beautiful really.
I discovered through direct experience that much of our busy thinking, planning, worrying, entertaining and doing are just unnecessary, self aggrandizing bullshit.  I learned that life goes on spinning without our pompous mental participation. I discovered that connection and communication have less to do with what I know and more to do with a willingness to open and unite.  In fact an intention to connect deeply is enough in and of itself.  I learned that if I can surrender while doctors are inside my heart and the tentative arc of life is dancing all around me then I can find a willingness to be at peace when the bills arise or tensions in relationship come up or the unknown knocks persistently at the door.  I can choose to surrender to the force of life that is living my life.  It's a choice.  It's that simple.
Life is enough.

This holiday season I wish each of you the gift of simply relaxing and resting back into the fabric of your life with childlike abandon.  I love you, wherever you are, whoever you are.  I love you.
Happy Holidays.

addendum:
Thank you so much to all the beautiful people who cared for me when I needed it through love and food and support.  A special thank you to my mate and love David whose care and loving support was the greatest force for my healing and to the Terpstra family whose love always inspires me! Thank you!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

No worries

'Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.'
-   Eckhart Tolle

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parenting with enough love

Here is a newsletter article I recently wrote for school...I thought I would share it with anyone who wanted to read it:

I have been an early childhood educator for twelve years and a mother for over thirteen.  When I considered what topic to write about for this article, I had so many competing ideas.  Most of them derived from my graduate work this year and the many things I am learning and practicing in the studio environment.  I started several articles but there remained one topic, more than any other, that demanded my attention and that was the principle of enough love
Several years ago, I became aware of the slippery slope of too much doing.  As a single mom, I realized how easily I could overlook the quiet and unobtrusive invitations by life to show up fully present.  Each day we are invited to fully embrace the gifts of the moment and savor opportunities to be wholly available with those we love.  As a busy mom I knew that the two people most likely to suffer from a busy lifestyle were my children.  And so, in 2010, I coined the term enough love.  Together, my boys and I decided to use the phrase enough love (which was quickly shortened to enough by my youngest) whenever they needed me, really needed me, to be present.  Now when they ask for enough love I stop and give it to them.  What this looks like varies from day to day, but often one or the other of them will be having a challenging day and just need arms to wrap them in warmth.  They will say, “Mom I need enough” and I stop what I am doing and hold them for as long as they need.  Sometimes I listen and sometimes it’s just a hug.  In these moments I am not thinking of the dishes in the sink, or the bills on the counter. I am simply holding them and loving them for as long as they need me.  It seldom lasts longer then a few minutes before they push gently away and say “Thanks mom.  I have enough.” And off they go, into their own busy lives.   In three years they have never asked for enough love except when they needed it.
This simple practice has had a ripple effect in my life.  It has changed how I parent and it has even effected how I teach.  I strive to be fully present with the children and adults who enter the studio.  I try to listen deeply to their words and questions and to continue to provide the support necessary for each of them to climb their own mountains, no matter how high.  As a mother, enough love looks like a loving embrace.  As a teacher it looks like a genuine curiosity and interest in who each child is and what interests them and motivates them.  It looks different depending on the roles we play but it is always enough.
Recently I underwent heart surgery, and in the weeks leading up to it I found myself more frenzied, emotional and less patient then I am ordinarily.  One night my oldest son came in to my room and said, “Mom you need enough love” and he hugged me. Soon my youngest son tackled me with a tight hold and there they sat hugging me until I smiled and said, “Thank you, that’s enough”.  It was a great lesson.  As a parent and a teacher, I practice being present and available for the children whom I am blessed to know and learn alongside.  But as an adult it is easy to forget that each of us, no matter our age, needs enough.  At times we need to show up for ourselves with open arms, fully present and available for whatever is arising.  We need to occasionally set aside our own busy schedules and to do lists long enough to offer ourselves enough. And in so doing we will always have enough love to share.

Monday, November 11, 2013

a favorite Rumi quote

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. 
I'll meet you there. 

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase
each other
doesn't make any sense.

Rumi 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Kindness


KINDNESS
By Naomi Shihab  Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and send you out in the day to mail letters and
 purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

this moment

“You have to remember one life, one death–this one! 
To enter fully the day, the hour, the moment whether it appears as life or death, 
whether we catch it on the inbreath or outbreath, requires only a moment, 
this moment. 
And along with it all the mindfulness we can muster... (24)” 
― Stephen LevineA Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

love

I made an interesting discovery this week: love flows IN as well as out.  Perhaps this is common knowledge for many of you but until very recently I didn't know love truly flowed in.  I have always experienced love flowing THROUGH my heart, like an open faucet but not necessarily into it from others.  I never doubted that others loved too. I just believed that all of us could only experience love on the outflow.  Life is such a wonderful playground and how appropriate that my heart should evolve its capacity to feel love and let love in at the same time as doctors prepare for a surgery to repair its faulty wiring.  Apropos indeed.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My big brother

 Who we are and who we pretend to be is a source of great confusion for most of us.  What if who we think we are and who we pretend to be are just gossamer non-sense in the broader field of who we really are.  What if we all stop efforting and resisting and posturing and simply relax long enough to experience what remains when all effort subsides.  Who are you really?


Thursday, October 24, 2013

fall

Fall colors, a cacophony of visual splendor, skirt the front range in breathtaking beauty.  Seasons shift as nature discards her leafy summer bounty in favor of simpler adornments.  I find myself wanting to nuzzle deep into her arms, beside a surplus of collected grain (gluten-free of course) and slumber through the pending chill and icy days ahead.  Until then,  I spend my days astonished in the presence of so much beauty.  Every breath is gratitude if we but lift our eyes to meet the day.