Month: January 2017

A few of my Favourite things

Those who know me well know that I love children’s books, particularly picture books with rhyming text, brilliant illustrations and a good, inspirational story, not to mention characters who move me emotionally and pull at my heart strings. Kids books are a few of my favourite things.

Did you know that I am a very proud grandma who loves to connect with these budding little artists, storytellers, mischief makers, pirates and whatever takes over their imagination. I love to read to children and see their faces light up or hear their giggles with The Cranky Bear, or Piranhas don’t eat Bananas. From classics such as Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden and Alice in Wonderland, I count myself so fortunate to own a diverse collection of beautiful books that uplifts me. It’s such a joy to read, savour and read again these magical stories. Do you know what I mean? What’s your favourite kid’s book?

I like to give books as gifts and write my own story books for the grandchildren making them personalised – capturing their dinosaur play or garden romps.

Dear followers, students and loyal fans, over the next month or two I would like to share with you some of my favourite things. I begin with 2 things – children’s books and art. I hope you will see how these things have shaped me, enticed me and motivated me to be a better person in the world. Many of you out there can boast of some favourite things that cause you to smile and enjoy. On this journey, please share some with me too.

My second favourite thing is my love of art. I especially like indigenous art with its dots, swirling patterns, brush strokes, stories and colour. From my first lino cut print from Cairns to the purchase of Central Desert art, I have been moved with appreciation and insight into this amazingly diverse world and culture. Painting is deeply personal for many Elders and young artists. It reveals the wisdom of their tribe and past history. It draws on the rich landscape, and communicates about their sense of belonging and community.

Have you ever seen a Papunya painting or one from Utopia? What about Tiwi art and the Torres Strait islands? From the Top End and Arnhem Land to the Kimberleys, indigenous art is becoming collectible, fashionable and admired.I like to think that the imagery, sacred stories and talent is respected for a long time more.

I look forward to sharing my next favourite things soon. Let me know yours!

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The “what ifs”

I am reminded of this commonly used phrase when worries come. Those times and events in our life , especially over the long summer school holiday when anxiety can strike at any family or child. What if I run out of cash over Christmas? What if I lose it with the kids being home all day? What if I can’t cope with my new school friends? What if I eat too much?

Ultimately, some “what ifs” take over a child’s life. What if I can’t be on the team? What if I forget my lines in the play? What if I cannot surf, won’t that be embarrassing? In fact the last one occurred at King’s Beach Caloundra when the grand kids were hesitant to ride a wave or be dumped.

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With some practice and enthusiasm, it seems that those worries vanished in favour of the fun and thrill of trying to surf with a new boogie board.

I know recently my daughter’s big move into the suburbs of Brisbane meant some stress and anxiety for everyone. Yet most of the “what ifs” were dealt with  – patiently and with thankfulness. What if the removalist truck doesn’t come at 10.00 as they promised? What if the new furniture doesn’t arrive? What if the stove doesn’t work? What if we can’t access the internet before we go away?

As I was surrounded by boxes, paper, books, toys and anything that fits into a box, I also got caught up with my own level of quiet anxiety. What if I over do it – you know the aches and pains of lifting children, boxes and furniture? I had my fair share of this during the week of happy chaos, yet together we accomplished so many good things. An empty house transformed into a homely, comfortable abode.

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Our bodies tell us how we are feeling. Does the jaw tighten, shoulders tense up?

Children also should pay attention to their bodies when they are feeling stressed. They often stop noticing things because they are too wound up. Like my grand daughter whose stone broke in her little ring. The silver glass stone hit the floor and broke into many small pieces, resulting in panicky tears and sobbing. I tried to reassure her we could replace it with another stone. That’s when my lovely daughter came in to rescue the situation and redirected the “what ifs” to the “what is” situation. In her gentle voice, Rachael said to Audrey that the ring looked rather beautiful without the stone. It was a silver wiry, artistic type. She could look forward to finding something to put inside it. After a few minutes I noticed that Audrey’s face and body started to relax even with the tears and she was redirected to another distraction.

This idea is referred to in Lawrence J Cohen’s book called The Opposite of Worry where the author suggests teaching children to change their thoughts from what if to what is.

Children can notice how their bodies tighten and become rigid.

The second way Cohen says is to reframe what if to I look forward to. For example, your child may say, “What if my face turns red while I am giving my speech?” Teach him to reframe this and say, “I look forward to getting through this speech.”

Reframing teaches children how to shift present thinking from the negative to the positive. The negative thinking increases stress hormones, giving your child’s body the impression that what he is thinking is actually happening, reframing it in a positive way reduces stress hormones, allowing the body to relax.

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Some hours later I took my littlest grand daughter down to the library where we enjoyed the pleasure of reading together. In the air conditioning, away from the steamy heat of January, we sat on the soft chairs and giggled at the  roaring lions, and silly geese. I guess it’s good to be mindful of staying calm, resilient and secure.