Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Deeper Halloween

I finished my "I Love" Affirmation project last night. It was hard. I don't really excel at visual art, but one of my affirmations was "I am determined", so I decided to lay my judgement aside and draw the way my children do---with abandon and commitment. One of my less positive affirmations is "I am picky", so this morning, I commissioned my eldest to illustrate the affirmation above.

Moving into our next activity, I wanted to do something connected to Halloween. I did a little reading and found that most Halloween traditions stem from All Saints/Souls Day or Day of the Dead. It seems to be that long ago quite a few people finished the harvest and proceeded to get really freaked out that their dead ancestors were coming to get them (I used to have similar problems walking outside in the dark---I swore the Incredible Hulk was coming for me---we're not related, but still, I can understand). Some cultures lit bonfires to scare off evil spirits, others dressed up in costumes to fool spirits into thinking they were one of them and some even hid all the sharp knives so the spirits couldn't use them. Once people felt they were safe from flying meat cleavers, they generally did something to honor their ancestors---set extra chairs at the table for someone who had recently died, created altars to them decorated with food and pictures. This sounded a little deeper than just gorging myself on my kids' Halloween stash after I told them they could only have one Milky Way before bed.

This week we are creating a Family Tree. Let me start by stating that this project CAN BE DONE BY ANYONE regardless of what type of family you come from. The idea is to honor the people you love and where you come from. We are simply going to put the names of people we love on a tree. You can use the "bracket" model if you wish (The one that looks like this and tracks blood ancestry)

or you can go "collage style" and just put anyone you consider family on your tree:

Include names or pictures of relatives, friends, pets--those living and those who have passed away. Families can be complex---get creative and make it work for you. If you have a child who is very young or sensitive who might not be ready to talk about death, consider talking about where your family comes from instead---pick up an atlas and tell them a story about a great-grandparent immigrating or the meaning of a tradition you keep in your family. 

On Halloween, take a moment and honor your ancestors. Light a candle, honor them with a moment of silence or a song--and then get silly on your kids' candy. Just tell them it's a family tradition.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How Do I Love Thee?

It's not just kids who have hard time coming up with a list of things they love about themselves. When I conjured up this lesson, I imagined myself writing pages and pages of lovable qualities for myself. Rather, I found myself wrestling with that icky voice in my head that wanted to discount everything good I wrote ("Compassionate?!!! You were just snapping at your kids 30 seconds ago!") and trying to keep my mouth shut while I my kids made their own lists. I could have written pages about my kids and my husband, but me???? 5 was hard.

My kids are pretty familiar with affirmations, so they were pretty receptive to this activity. We spent a little time just talking about what we loved about ourselves and then I asked them to just think about it for a day. They made their "I love" lists:

Then turned them into affirmations. My eldest chose to make hers into a book: 

and my younger, a collage:

 Here's how they turned out:

I would love to hear how you used this activity at home. Feel free to share artwork, comments and suggestions! I'll share my own in the next post. New activity post tomorrow! 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

5 Things....

A while ago, I read an article about kids and affirmations. Of course, I have no recollection of where I read it or who wrote it, so you are just going to have to trust me (which might be hard for you science-types who like a solid source for your research). Anyway, it said that kids have an easy time expressing what they admire about others, but they have a really hard time expressing what they love about themselves. No real surprise there---most adults I know are only experts at nitpicking, comparing and judging themselves so this exercise should prove to be a good one for us all.

5 Things I Love About Me

  •  Ask yourself/your children/your significant other to take some time over a day to think about what they love about themselves. These can be things they can do, inner qualities, outer characteristics, etc. You may want to give younger kids some examples so they can reflect on a variety of things about themselves.
  • After everyone spends some time in reflection, have each person write a list of at least 5 things they love about him/herself.  Younger kids can dictate their list or draw it out in pictures.
  • Turn your love list into affirmations. An affirmation is a declaration or positive statement of truth, usually starting with the words "I am". So if you write "I love how smart I am", the affirmation would be "I am smart". Stating it in this language gives it more power and reinforces its positive intent.
  • Turn the list into affirmation art---use the list to create lyrics to a song, cut up magazines and newspapers and make collages (this is especially fun for kids who aren't writing yet), draw pictures to go with each affirmation and create a book.  Adults are not off the hook here: get in there with your kids and celebrate yourself.  It may inspire you and it will inspire your kids.

If you would like to expand this lesson on affirmations, I recommend the following books:


We will be back in about a week to report on our first activity. I would love to hear how it goes for you. Feel free to share your experience and even post your artwork. We will also have another activity waiting! Shine on!

Purpose Statement

We have 3 little ones. Right now we are up to our ears in learning with our brains---we play math games, read books, learn how to print and the ABC's gets more airplay than Justin Bieber at a junior high slumber party.  Of course I am glad my kids are learning, but I know as they continue towards school-age, their intellectual learning will be a growing priority. And their desire to watch tv, play video games, use the computer and text their friends 874 times a day will too. So I am starting early. 

Each week I will post an activity here in hopes that it will nurture compassion, optimism, kindness, self-love, reflection---the universal qualities I want to cultivate in myself and my family. I figure if we spend some time unplugged each week, focused on Creativity, Humanity, our Environment or our Spirit, we will end up more plugged-in and present with each other. I hope your are inspired to try the lessons along with us (they aren't just for kids), check back and see how we did and post your insights too.

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