This was posted originally in October 2016, for our Canadian Thanksgiving of that year.
And yet, I thought it would be of interest to many now... as, in my mind, shifting to the Thankfulness, gratitude and appreciation of the winter season is really where practical spirituality meets tradition.
I always talk about Thanksgiving and how it’s my favorite holiday in theory. What a wonderful idea, right? A holiday dedicated to appreciation and a feeling of thankfulness for what we have. It’s a great philosophy and one that should be ringing out from the ways during the day. But, then you throw in Turkey dinner, the stress of building a meal as per tradition, you throw in different stories and focuses or you try to make it about appreciation and end up wondering how to do it differently than Easter or Christmas... than solstices and nature holidays... what makes Thanksgiving stand out?
I’ve been a parent for 14 years this Wednesday. 14 years. And for 14 years I’ve been looking for a way to bring specialness into each holiday, how to bring spiritual awareness and emotion into each celebration, so it didn’t get overcast with stress and anticipation.
And this year, Thanksgiving was finally created.
It happened quite by accident really. My younger daughter (who’s the party planner by nature) and I were talking and she was making decorations and activities for her and her brother. The usual What am I thankful for stuff.. as well as place mats for dinner. We were talking about how to make it different, more celebratory; especially since her older sister had commented that we never really “do” Thanksgiving. (What a thought, I was horrified... theoretically it was my favorite holiday... and we’d never “done” it.)
And then the thought flowed in.
We decided to write letters and cards to each other, telling each other what we appreciated about each other. For an hour in the afternoon my children and I filled envelopes telling each other how wonderful each other were. It was an incredible feeling space to spend time in, writing down all the wonderful aspects that make them themselves. We decorated them and made them special, letting them light up the table that night.
I wasn’t prepared for the feeling of opening my envelope that evening. I was focused on what I appreciated about each of them, but to read what they appreciated about me; well it made me cry in overwhelming joy.
In my course Spiritual Kids, building foundations for the Spiritual Aware Family, I offer an exercise in the appreciation board; a wipeboard you hang in the kitchen to leave comments on what you appreciate about other people in the house. The idea came from my friend Elizabeth over at www.appreciationboard.com and I fell in love with the idea right away.
But this little ceremony we did on Thanksgiving was a flood of the feeling of appreciation and thankfulness. A perfect new tradition for a perfect holiday.
What followed was a discussion about what we appreciated about other people we knew, other family members, friends and acquaintances. That too was an incredible experience, as we didn’t always pick the easiest names... we didn’t see the people we chose very often or we didn’t know them very well. It stretched our thankfulness muscles... which of course is what Thanksgiving should be for!
A little different than the stereotypical “what are you thankful for?” but as my husband points out, that version of Thanksgiving should happen every day.
But noticing the little things about people you know and bringing them up over a candlelit, fancy dinner while exchanging letters of appreciation with the people you love.... followed by pumpkin pie... now that is a celebration indeed.
As a special holiday gift, I am offering a free workbook, from the Spiritual Kids e-course, called THE APPRECIATION BOOK, from now until Tuesday 28th. You can grab it here.
I hope you enjoy it and wish you all the best for the holiday season.
My daughter has been homeschooling for years and it used to be expected that any set curriculum would have been gathering dust by November. Although my head used to tell me it was crazy to let it slide, my heart looked to create other ways to support her learning, scrambling to get it together without her getting stressed or feeling incapable of the work.
If you haven’t guessed by now the emotional balance of my kids, their sense of self and confidence in being, is my priority. So seeing her stressed and disconnected in the past over a workbook, just because she worked differently wasn’t my style. but then we found Oak Meadow and it all changed.
Now, about 8 months down the road, she has a chance to feel confident and fulfilled at seeing the completion of a year's work in sight, thanks to Oak Meadow’s unique approach. It is the most amazing feeling to see her stable and structured in her own learning and growing… to know she feels good about what she works on every day. The relief I feel is incredible as finally my head and heart can agree!
Which leads to what I want to discuss today. Emotional Awareness.
Because,this week in her grade 7 curriculum, the focus was on emotions and the media and how our feelings are often influenced by what we surround ourselves with, and I thought it was a wonderful time to discuss this as well.
My daughter was instructed to draw attention to the affect of what she witness on tv or the internet, by writing down her emotional response to shows she watched or any violence in movies, of course she could do this easily as she’s been practicing being in tune with how media felt since she was really little.
Yes I’ll admit that, as much as my husband and I always intended to be “screen-free” and we still don’t have any television at our home, restricting it to Netflix or movies, our children use internet and youtube daily for both education and entertainment. I have to admit, when I see the offerings on Netflix especially,I am so thankful my children all were raised with early emotional awareness, so that they can honestly navigate through the cloudy offerings that media offers us now a days.
It's a bit of a vibrational smoothie out there... emotions and focus are blended into a puree and are simply bland in intention... we have to all be pretty sharp to feel the emotional twists and turns we're taken on.
From the time my girls were 3 or 4 we were discussing how programs made them feel and using them to chose how we want to feel as well. We would watch something “fast” and then something “slow” with them to experiment with different feeling states, we’d explore how scary shows might lead to feeling scared or having nightmares and then it would broaden out to choosing shows and movies based on how they WANTED to feel, without handing over their power to the network or Netflix.
Unfortunately for my son, who doesn't really like movies or programs, sometimes tries to get involved with a show as family bonding time, but it usually takes his emotions for a ride anyway. Like when him and his sister decided to passionately watch Spirit: Riding Free the new Netflix program, which should be pretty enjoyable, he was emotionally tormented instead when they left it off with a cliffhanger for a few months.
The image of seeing a horse torn away from his owner, being carried off to an auction on a train while the little girl was in tears, became embedded in his thoughts and mental processes for ages and he is being taught through media that it can’t be trusted to entertain anymore. I mean, who uses cliffhangers on a kid’s show?!It leaves a child the choice to either shut their hearts off from the story and characters, basically becoming cynical at a young age OR, getting their feelings hurt and hearts trampled each time they put on a program.
Since then, my son is firmly set in only watching old children’s shows from the UK golden era of 70s-90s. Postman Pat is our new staple.
How aware are we all on how media and what we’re being told affects our reality?
This year has been a particularly emotional roller coaster in our world. It feels like every direction we turn there is something that makes us feel upset, distracted, worried or fearful, and yet, if we’re not careful, the stories and fears we fill our minds with, truly create our days. Moving beyond having compassion and care for our fellow human beings, the “reality” of suffering clouds our own “reality”, even in the simple knee jerk reactions we give to simple things like our children’s whining or traffic when we’re late.
We can sometimes react more negatively to everyday discomforts just because we’re distracted with the story we’ve read/watched/witnessed.
It sometimes feels like that powerhouse of emotion and fear can snowball and snowball until is serves as the lens we see all of life through.
What if we created the intention to be aware of how we feel so we can productively offer love and support for all in need, by building that love through the focus of love? What if we took this time of year to consciously go within and connect to the spiritual essence of everything we are?
If we give ourselves permission to shine within so we can offer love outside of ourselves.
It’s a busy time of year, but within that busyness we can turn our attention to our spirits just for a few moments so we can “snowball” the focus and intention we choose to give attention to.
We seem to give so much attention to the rushing around of this time of year, that scatteredness can become our lens and its what we radiate as we cross the threshold into the new year.
So, why don’t we choose our emotional focus? Why don’t we use our emotional guidance system to steer our day, or season and our new year?
How do you choose your focus when outside of you and what you witness is offering you a different lens than what you wish to see through?
Also, this is also a core part of my e-course Spiritual Kids, within the section on emotional awareness. I feel that offering emotional awareness and intelligence to our children creates foundations in self awareness and spiritual connection. When we feel positive emotion, we are closer to our natural spiritual state. It is easier to connect when we’re appreciating life and when we are positively focused, therefore being aware of how we feel is like a gateway to feeling better and shining completely as ourselves.
(And I want to give you a heads up that Spiritual Kids is going to be part of a really exciting Cyber Monday offering… I can barely contain my excitment! It’s so huge. Think 12 e-courses from 12 amazing positive parenting experts… for a small percentage of the cost… Now that is using media for the benefit of all! So make sure you GRAB A FREE SAMPLE and I'll keep you informed from thereon!
ALSO! I just received word that Oak Meadow will be offering a 20% off sale over Black Friday weekend... so if you feel your child needs a curriculum that meets their hearts and minds, then definitely check it out.
I need to start my pilates course I bought on Udemy a couple of weeks ago. I mean, I have to do it today.
Because I made myself a promise at the beginning of the year that I would be able to touch my toes by December and time’s a-ticking.
The desire stems from a limiting belief I’ve had since I was a child:
That I had a long back and people with long backs couldn’t touch their toes.
But, I’ve always felt stiff and sometimes my body just wants to move differently. I want to touch my toes.
But I believed I couldn’t.
Until one day I thought… that’s ridiculous. If I have a long back, surely I should be able to get down to the floor easier than if I had a short back… I mean I also have long arms! I should be a pretzel!
Surely, if I’d been living with the belief that it was the practice of stretching that would get me to the floor, I would be there by now… rather than just allowing a belief to hold me back.
So, I need to start my pilates course… which I bought a couple of weeks ago.
Why do we resist breaking limiting beliefs? Why do we not want to let go of what holds us back sometimes? Why do we not want to release past opinions, or the people who hurt us or move away from self concepts that stop us from shining?
Well, I know for me, believing I “couldn’t” touch my toes meant that I didn’t have to try. I didn’t have to stretch or exercise. I could eat healthy… but I wasn’t an “exercise type”. It was convenient.
But with a milestone birthday coming up in January, I’ve spent sometime wondering if that’s really good enough.
I promote and support unlimited potential for my children and my clients.
I want everyone to shine. And yeah, I want to be a 105 year old yoga master like some of these women I see on Facebook posts.
So, with the desire set, I have to begin and those patterns of limiting beliefs have to be crushed in the process.
I did start this year… a little. I do my yoga every morning before my meditation. But my poses get a little rushed and if it feels like it stretches too much… I kinda tell myself “oh that’s good enough.” And I let it go.
Isn’t this symbolic of so many patterns we hold in life? We tell ourselves we want to shift something and then we tiptoe around it, try it a little, but don’t fully dive in? We push just enough to convince ourselves “it’s good enough..” But that pattern still sits in the back, lingering and supporting that limiting belief.
Needless to say I’m not just writing to you to talk about exercise.
Rather I’m writing to you today because it’s November. A busy time is coming as is the end of the year. A new dawn, a new beginning approaches with the coming of 2018, and although it’s still pretty much a couple of months away, I want to encourage you to take a moment to take stock of it.
What did you promise yourself to achieve this year and are there any baby steps you can still put into place so you can feel you are moving towards that goal? What dreams do you hold about next year? Can you start to scribble down thoughts of how you want next year to flow for you? Not “plans” but intentions?
I’m not pressuring you to jump into action… only encouraging you to go within, and consider what path you are on and where you want to head, even for the near future.
What kind of holiday season do you want this year? Will it resonate with the same patterns as every year before, or will this year offer something new? What about next year?
How can you walk the walk of the person you truly are?
My daughter just called me an addict because I LOVE planners so much. I love to dream, visualize, and ponder different paths and then map out ways to get there. I love to scribble intentions down. I just ordered a planner which I was able to design my own, and I put my yearly intentional word on the cover.
For 2018 my word is THRIVE.
But this past year’s not ended… and this year’s word was “FREEFALL”. Complete trust, letting go and release.
It’s been a wonderful foundation for this year and I’ve seen it present itself in so many elements of what’s occurred.
So, how can you put a few elements into place to have 2017 be phenomenally fulfilling? And what magic will 2018 hold for you.
I'd love to help you find a clear path or offer you some tools to support your vision. Feel free to email me and we can set a time up to chat or visit the Spiritually Aware Holiday Season page for some ideas.
(I am starting a self care holiday challenge on Monday, with 5 days of simple techniques to create balance, connection and awareness even when you feel rushed and busy. I hope you will join me!)
Now, I just have to freefall down to my toes…
I’ll let you know when I arrive.
My kids have been planning costumes all week and after enough crafting to supply a preschool, my son finally turned to me and asked “Why do we do this? I don’t even really like the feeling of Halloween.”
He never has liked Halloween. He does it because it’s fun to create things with his sisters and be excited for an event… and yeah, I’ll admit it, he loves the candy and chocolate. It’s the one time of the year that we really do that kinda thing. All three kids pour their bags out and trade for their favorites. It’s been a tradition and for quite a long time it was one of the ways they all really connected together, despite the age gap.
But my daughters have decided they are feeling too old for the trick or treating and this year is going to be the last. My son is happy with that. He doesn’t like the energy of the whole affair.
And I can’t blame him. Halloween creates such an odd feeling space, walking down the street near dark, with people putting the focus on being scared or making kids scared. And then, there’s the whole ghost thing. That really gets my kids going.
Not because they are scared of ghosts, rather they are upset that ghosts are given such a bad name.
And that’s what I want to discuss with you today.
When my little girls were little and it was their first Halloween where they could really take part I sat and made toilet paper ghosts with them. I was rolling the paper into a ball and folding over another sheet so there was a head with basically a skirt like piece flowing under it. I’d made them when I was little and it seemed like a fun afternoon treat to do with my three year old daughters. Until they asked “what is a ghost?”
Not wanting to scare them with creepy concepts I stumbled over what to say, until the words “They are angels.” Popped out.
I hesitated over this sudden statement, but then I realized that it kind of fit perfectly for their 3 year old perceptions.
Over time my daughters learned about spirit and how we are all spiritual beings. Soon, ghosts were spirits without a body for a home. The statement that we all become “ghosts” soon started to be discussed.
While my girls took all of this in stride, my son was the one that felt it the most.
He’s the one that has always had a connection to the unseen. He’s talked about seeing spirits in our home and we’ve used this concept to help him feel comfortable with his fears of the dark or sleeping in his room alone.
He knows that spirits are pure positive energy. He knows we ask them to help him, to watch over him and the whole house. Yet, society tells him to be afraid of them.
He knows that the unseen create energy in his room, his house and his life… but he doesn’t naturally feel afraid of that. Society, movies, and Halloween, offer him the perception that the unknown is always scary. When he sees it through that lens, the energy shifts to feeling scary. But if he shifts to knowing that the unseen is offering him support and love, he can feel safe and secure with that perception.
So, he’s right. Why do we create a special event to feel scared?
Personally, I’ve loved creating costumes with my kids over the past 12 years… my old theater tricks get to come out and play. This year I’m starting to figure out how to turn an old wagon into a pirate ship for my 3 year old great-nephew who will be visiting us on Tuesday. But, when put in the spiritual spotlight, outside of the fun aspect, it makes no sense and honestly, it can provide a disconnected perception of spirit and the unseen which creates a limiting belief in magic.
I ended up talking with my son about the Mexican holiday of the Day of The Dead, where families and friends celebrate the people who have transitioned and send them love for their journey.
My son loved this idea. “That,” he said “Makes more sense.”
So, in the long run what we’ve come up with is;
“Halloween is a just for fun, an excuse to get dressed up and get treats. It feels nice to walk out on an autumn evening, to smell the pumpkins and meet neighbors. Its fun to see the costumes and sense to silliness of the whole thing. Its a tradition that’s fun to take part in, as we go around to their grandparents have pizza and then share time together.”
It’s important to empower our children to focus on what feels best to them. If they don’t want to go to the houses which are terror focused, then don’t. If they don’t like to feel scared; don’t.
My children have been raised with the idea that they get to choose what focus the create and what thoughts they think about. They get to decide what they fill their minds with. But sometimes, when events or images like Halloween terrors come about, they need some help re-framing the information so they can create their own empowered inner dialogue, rather than just getting caught up in what’s been suggested to them. We all do.
Therefore, if you are celebrating Halloween on Tuesday, I encourage you to check in with your children to make sure they are alright with the feeling that’s in the air and the actual event’s focus. Use this time to create awareness to their emotions and what they think, as well as some family re-framing.
And as far as Spirits are concerned, enough of us have had interactions with the unseen to know that there’s other energies around us all the time, and why shouldn’t there be? Whether its loved ones who have passed on, but are checking in on us or simply trapped energy from past life participants, we can all mention times where we didn’t feel alone.
There’s also the concept that when you feel that way it’s actually a former or future part of yourself checking in on where you are now… which is rather fun to think about.
But with all of that, we do no good for our spiritual connection if we see Spirit as frightening. At all times, the best focus in all of this, is to send light and love and refocus on our own spiritual center, appreciating our own physical and nonphysical realities… and creating a positive focus… for the ghost in all of us.
It's becoming pretty mainstream to practice some form of mindfulness nowadays.
Even within our schools, meditation or focus time are replacing the traditional standards of detention or lines in some states and provinces. There is a growing understanding that mindfulness and calm creates better mental health and prepares our children to deal with the chaos and turmoil our world can often offer.
But how do we create a solid foundation in mindfulness for our children... not just the action of it?
I mean, it's a wonderful step in the right direction to get children to sit quietly and listen to a guided meditation, or to focus on their breathing but how do we build the awareness for each child so they can appreciate the actual purpose for doing so?
It's a bit like teaching a child how to do math, but not actually helping them understand the reason why they need it or when to apply it within life.
It could also be seen as the philosophy of giving a child a fish to feed them for a day... giving them calm for a moment so their day is successful.
When we have the ability to teach them how to fish and feed them for a lifetime. Our children can be the generation to use mindfulness and conscious living as daily and lifetime tools for happiness.
I can feel you call me an idealist, but honestly I feel there's one small shift in how we present mindfulness that will make all the difference.
We just need to pass on Self Awareness first.
Self awareness gives us the navigation skills to sense when we need meditation, when we need positive focus, when we could do with quiet or when we would be best to dance out our stresses. Self awareness works alongside of mindfulness to create presence and conscious living, allowing ourselves to sense when we are starting to get stressed or upset by observing rather than reacting.
Imagine when you were a child having the tools to sense when you could do with some quiet time rather than being “told” you need it. Imagine feeling that stress within you to the point of exploding and being able to find your breath and shift to feeling better. How would that have prepared you for the rest of your life?
Sure, maybe I'm an idealist sometimes. We all have off days and we can all jump off the awareness train when life get's busy. But I called this business Spiritual Aware Parenting for the reason that even when we're off, even when we're stressed, even when we aren't thriving, we're aware of the fact that mindfulness can be a tool to help us get back on. We're aware of our own offness when we practice Self Awareness and self knowledge for a little while, which makes hoping back On all the easier.
So, what does that mean? How do we pass on Self Awareness to our children as a foundation for mindful living.
Self/Spiritual awareness is about presenting opportunities to feel, observe ourselves, and experience life.
It's about Aha moments. :) It's about thriving rather than surviving.
I'm so passionate about passing on self/spiritual awareness to children (Some people ask why I put self and spirit together... the reason is simply this. We are all Spiritual Beings having a physical experience, not the other way around. Therefore, true self awareness is spiritual awareness.)
That's why there's a whole section dedicated to Self Awareness within my Spiritual Kids course.. to help lay the foundation. Then there's the emotional awareness section as well, which creates a deeper foundation to our children knowing Who They Really Are, and that's not even counting the meditation section. I created the course so Spiritual awareness could be created in layers, step by step... for you as well as your child.
(I actually have had a lot of parents tell me that they've enjoyed the content just as much as their children have. We can all be Spiritual Kids.)
Spiritual Kids is available from the website and there's a special promo on at the moment as well, where if you enroll in Spiritual Kids you also get the mini course “Go from Too Busy to Play to Connection with Your Children.” which is a 7 day e-course delivered to your inbox with exercises and videos to help you be more present with your children even with a long to-do list.
Christina shares her personal experiences as a Spiritually Aware Parent as well as tools and tips which will help a parent's journey.