Category Archives: World

Actions that promote peace in the world.

Priorities

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Tonight I kind of felt like writing about appearance. Specifically, how I wish I could be okay with the way I look, dress, etc., instead of being disappointed on a regular basis for not taking care of my appearance.

On the other hand, I could write about things that are a lot more important. Global warming. Somalia. Break-down of families. The Congo. Even my baby’s teething, crying, growing, changing. All things that are a lot more important.

Living with two sets of priorities simultaneously is strange, but I think it’s something we all do. We know and care about the really big problems in the world. But somehow, we’re able to let go of them to enjoy or worry about the smaller situations we face on a daily basis. It might be seen as a character flaw. It might also be a universal human reality, brain-based perhaps, that requires us to give the most attention to that which is right in front of us, that allows us to function in a super-busy and chaotic world without being overwhelmed.

As in tonight. I’m exhausted. I care about everything – but right now, all that really matters is getting to bed. Soon.

Good night.

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Big & Little Peace

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Tonight we went to an interfaith prayer gathering. They’ve been having this one for a number of years on September 11. Its focus is more broad than just the events of 9/11; the participants spoke about peace, global injustices, unity, our responsibilities as global citizens. I spoke as a member of the Baha’i community, reading a short quote on true religion and a prayer for unity.

It was wonderful being there as a family. Baby thoroughly enjoyed herself, listening to the music, getting to know the people sitting around her, clapping and speaking out when appropriate, such as when the MC referred to her as the hope for tomorrow. She brings such joy wherever she goes – everywhere I turn I see people smiling at her. My husband enjoyed himself and was wonderful, playing with baby and walking around with her when she was more vocal.

After the service we also enjoyed meeting people. We have been thinking a lot about friendship and community and that we need to do a lot more to build good friendships and strong community support. We want this for our daughter to grow up in, for ourselves to be healthy and happy. For whatever reason, this is something that hasn’t been super successful for us lately.

Baby was still awake after, and resisted going to sleep so after feeding her and playing with her I took her for another walk around the block in the Ergo. She was alternately happy and miserable. Happily bouncing her face against my chest, singing “waa waa waa!!!” loudly into the night. Softly falling asleep on my chest. Miserably waking up and fussing and stretching and crying. Once home and after a bit more milk and tears she finally succumbed to sleep. Poor sweetie hasn’t been happy lately – resisting sleep, crying much more than usual.

And boy, I”m tired. No nap this weekend. Full week ahead. I want to write more – I want to write about building community and being a small part of peace and about talking about religion, spirituality and raising our daughter with my husband. But I’m going to bed.

Blogging by proxy

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Yesterday was a bit of a challenging day. Baby was up a lot the night before with a fever and fussing. I wasn’t sure how she would do during the day but I had a presentation and meeting so I brought her to mom’s and checked up on her throughout the day. By 1:00 she was crying after a short nap, hadn’t eaten much at all and had barely had anything to drink. Priorities: I left work to go and be with my angel.

Once I was there things got better. She nursed right away (relief for both of us) and was in a better mood being with me. She ate some too. After a couple of hours we headed home. She slept on the way home, then enjoyed a walk with me. She cheered up in particular for her visit to the doctor – heaven forbid he see her in an unhealthy state! Then she ate dinner (I – for reasons mysterious – decided to try a new soup recipe + baking powder biscuits = delicious) which was encouraging. After a shower with mom and some nursing, she was asleep.

And I was nearly asleep too. Wiped out from some sleepless nights and an intense day. However, I had one big thing left to do: blog. My husband, wanting to encourage me to get some much-needed sleep, offered to blog for me. We agreed that I would tell him what to write and he would log in and post it for me. Though I wouldn’t have typed the actual words, I would have composed the blog and thus, I felt, fulfilled my daily writing commitment. The post was to read:

“Baby sick. Mom tired. Will write more tomorrow.”

Short, to the point, relevant to the theme (to keep my personal peace I needed more sleep!).

However. Though he tried diligently, he couldn’t make it work. So my blogging by proxy never actually happened. My mental blogging never made it to the stage of physical incarnation.

In the spirit of personal acceptance and inner peace, I am going to say that in intent and effort, I blogged yesterday. And here I am again today.

Baby is better today, though not well yet. A sick child is a huge unsettler to one’s inner peace. I find it remarkably hard to focus at work when I’m worried about her. It’s hard enough anyways to relax when I’m away from her! Even now, knowing she’s just two rooms over sleeping soundly, I feel uncomfortable being this much physically separated from her. And again in the spirit of inner peace, I accept that this is my reality as a mom. I am okay with it. Now that she exists, I need to be with her. I love her unconditionally and always. Everything about her amazes and delights me. She is my daughter and I love her.

My heart is breaking tonight for a missing child and his family. I can’t talk about it or think about it too much – it’s too horrible. I don’t understand some things about the world. And then there is the famine – and I get upset when I have to get an extra bottle of milk for my daughter because my body doesn’t make enough. I am reminded deeply that I want to do a lot more to change things in the world so that these types of aberrations stop happening.

 

Sanity money/ Inspirational parenting/ Reaching out

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After a balanced, peaceful day yesterday, today felt off kilter. Up early with a crying baby. Trying to do too much. Grumpy. The collision between expectations and time.

By 8:30 a.m. today I had played with baby, fed her breakfast & cleaned up, made granola and a loaf of bread and other chores. I wish I had slowed down and let myself enjoy the time more. The day raced past after that, though I did get in a short nap (yay, one weekend goal partly fulfilled!). I also made lunch, shredded zucchini for freezing, and tried to make other food, fortunately not succeeding. I think that somewhere inside, I also was not looking forward to the end of my break and the pace of another week.

So as dinner approached, I had had it. Husband was continuing work around the house, mainly on the fence today. I had had it with food prep but needed to eat soon. After some persuading I was sold. I don’t like spending the money if I don’t have to, but feeling burnt out and over-extended was a good enough reason tonight. Baby & I walked down to city park via a burger shop (veg burger & fries – nothing like fried food to get my figure back!). We spread out and ate together, baby taking off for crawls and pointing at passing people. After a long walk home I felt much better, particularly as husband did a big clean-up of the kitchen and the front porch. Thank you!!

We both hope to get it together better soon to have more food ready to go regularly here, but until then, I’m trying to accept eating out as an occasional route to sanity.

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While out for a walk the other day I came across an example of parenting in absentia that left me shaking my head in awe. I was pushing baby in a stroller when I noticed a young boy, maybe 11 or 12, passing us while holding a skateboard. He looked into the stroller as he passed and with a big smile, said “Aww, what a cute baby!” “Thank you!” I replied with a corresponding smile. He kept walking until he was a good 10 feet in front of us, then put the board down to continue skateboarding.

I mean, how perfect can you get? Interacting voluntarily with an adult. Providing an appropriate and supportive comment. Being positive and social. And having the incredible consideration to walk, not board, past a mother on the sidewalk. I hope I can impart a similar level of consideration to my children.

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On the darker side, my husband helped us try to reach out to someone today. I have no idea if it did any good.

We live next door to a church and it’s often a site for people to meet or wait when they don’t have somewhere else to go. Today he saw a young girl sleeping in the stairwell beside our fence. He asked how she was doing a couple of times but she wasn’t coherent and didn’t seem to want any help. What help to give, how, when … these are questions he thinks about a lot. By lunchtime she was still there and he suggested we bring her some food. I brought over some water, bread & butter, fruit. She didn’t respond when I tried to talk with her.

After discussion we decided to call an ambulance. She was unresponsive, appeared to be on drugs, and could be going through withdrawal, side effects, or perhaps had some other major trauma. When they came they talked to her, but she responded to them and said she didn’t need any help so they left. Later in the day she left, and waved at my husband on her way out.

It is horrifying that there are so many young people in such difficult circumstances. More than ever, now that I am a mother, I understand that each person was once someone’s baby, was once completely helpless and trusting. How have we failed so many children so completely? I wish I knew what we could do to catch all the youth who are suffering. And I feel more urgently than ever the need to work with young people to provide a positive way forward in their lives.

Peaceful Parenting/ Parenting for Peace

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The former refers to keeping my cool and perspective as a parent; the latter, parenting choices that I hope will help raise a happy, self-aware world citizen. Here are some ways I do that. Ways I fall short will come in another post.

Being a Peaceful Parent.

1. Accepting the way I parent. I’m certainly not perfect. There are things I do that I didn’t expect, things I don’t do. I am a lot more physically engaged with my daughter (throwing, chasing, rolling her around) than I expected; I am a lot less vocally engaged, though I do sing to her a lot. I thought I’d put a lot more effort into research the best way to do things – best toys, best drinking cup, keeping her cleaner, monitoring her food. Instead, I’m fairly (this is relative, people!) laissez-faire and okay with imperfections. Letting myself be the parent I am rather than feeling guilty over not measuring up definitely adds some peace to my parenting.

2. Letting myself love her like crazy. She’s my daughter; I adore her. Everything about her delights me. I think her wave is the most amazing thing ever. When she screams at the top of her lungs in public spaces, I think it’s adorable. I want to eat her up all the time. Letting myself fall madly in love with my girl centres me, sets my priorities and brings me joy. That’s what it’s all about.

Parenting for Peace.

1. Sleeping with my angel. A lot of my approach to parenting is mutually informed by my intuition (which is probably guided a lot by my mom’s approach to parenting) and by reading in the attachment parenting genre. The approaches that resonate with me draw from research showing the importance of the child-parent bond, especially in the early years. Though I was nervous about it at first we ended up sleeping with our baby from a few hours after she was born as we didn’t get it together to make any other sleeping arrangements. Aside from the fact that it’s been amazing to have this sweet creature beside me allĀ  night, and that it makes night nursing SO MUCH EASIER, my understanding of all the research is that babies are made to be near parents for the first few years. Separation – for some babies, this can even be another bed in the same room – increases stress and (depending on the degree) decreases trust and negatively impacts the child-parent bond. On the flip side, a securely attached baby who has never needed to feel abandoned grows up with a stronger sense of confidence and security. I believe that these attributes can help our girl go out and be in the world in a powerful way.

2. Listening to her voice. More than anything I think this principle guides my parenting choices. From birth babies are trying to communicate. I believe that the degree to which their communications are responded to influences their sense of self-efficacy and confidence. When a baby tries to say “I’m hungry” and this request isn’t met, she learns that her voice doesn’t matter. (This haunts me when I think about her first few weeks when she WAS hungry and not getting enough food.) When she wakes up and cries, we’re there (or running to be there if we’re in another room) so she knows that if she needs someone [interrupted by dash to bedroom to comfort waking baby], she just needs to ask. Even with going to the bathroom – when she signals that she needs to go and we respond, I know that both strengthens our bond and reinforces her sense that she can make things happen in the world.

When applying this to babies under a year, it’s not a question of “giving in” or spoiling them. If something isn’t good for her, of course she won’t get to have it even if she asks. I take the perspective like the Sears do that babies’ communications are about needs: food, comfort, elimination, sleep, interaction. When I think of it that way, it’s in the best interests of the parents to listen so they can figure out how best to assist their baby not only in meeting these needs, but also in reinforcing their role as trusted guide and support, and finally, their baby’s growing sense of self in this new world.

So those are a few things I’m trying and doing. Not always perfectly. And I’m sure my understanding of what they mean will grow over time.

More Snippets

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Today brought some nice moments.

Lovely nursing with my daughter several times – before leaving for work in the morning, after her nap at my parents’, in the car before coming home.

I had a meeting with the woman I mentioned earlier whose well-maintained appearance inspired me to work on my own. She commented that she had the same shirt as I had, even in the same colour. Vindication! Of course, as I realized at the end of the day, when she wears it you probably can’t see her nipples. Unfortunate side-effect of being a nursing mom. I will have to try those pads for milk absorption in addition to a bra. Though why it should be deemed inappropriate for your clothing to indicate a part of your body is a bit beyond me.

Nearly cleaned-up office and desk at work. Lots still to do but the settling in is going well.

Ran into many friends & colleagues on campus today. It was really good to reconnect and feel warmly welcomed back. It affirmed that I did okay at the job over the year before, and I can do the same this coming year, with the support of colleagues.

Blueberry picking with Baby & family. Gorgeous spot – a massive blueberry farm on a hill in the summer sun. Baby rode on me but mainly sat on the grass, crawled a bit, ate many blueberries and picked a few (not ripe). I LOVE blueberries, and loved having her experience being out in the berry patch.

Gave baby a bath at my parents’ before coming home in hopes she would fall asleep in the car. She was fussing in the bath and wanted out so I got in with her. I love baths :).

Home again. Also lovely.

Today brought much anxiety about being a working mother. I can see my daughter is doing fine, though I haven’t been away for full days or days in a row yet so that is still to come. But I don’t like being away from her. I don’t like the feeling of being two different people: mom/wife/homemaker/creative person, and employee. I don’t like the slight feeling of disconnection I feel – probably have to feel – from my girl in order to leave her, and as a result of leaving her. She’s so little and so wonderful. I want to be with her more and more, not less and less. And admittedly, when I’m home with her all day I can get somewhat crazy. But still. I’m with my girl and that’s what counts.

Not prepared to make any big decisions about things yet; simply noting where I am at in the process. Peacefully acknowledging, open to what unfolds. And very glad it is the weekend.

Mediation, Communication, Acceptance

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Today I started a 3-day course on mediation for work. As always, it’s inspiring to be reminded of the basics of good communication. I feel encouraged to put them into practice in my personal life and excited about the possible enhancement to all my relationships as I use better communication methods. Just imagine how popular I’ll be if I use more open-ended questions! And I know friends and family will flock to me with my enhanced ability to manage conflict.

In all seriousness, I’ve always admired older women who were great listeners and able to offer feedback and ideas in effective ways. There is something warm and magnetic about a good communicator and it is a quality I would like to have as I mature. Too often I still think of myself as young. Some young is good (have fun, don’t fuss over how you look, be spontaneous, have fun). Some young is not so nice (impose on others, assume that things will be done for you, let yourself be the centre of attention rather than attending to others). I’ve been looking back lately on some of my attitudes and actions from my twenties and shaking my head at my cluelessness. And even my early 30s … how did I think some of those choices were appropriate? Just general thoughtlessness, self-centredness, lack of sensitivity to others. I hope I’ve matured a lot since then, but I suspect I will look back on my late 30s with similar mystification. In a similar way, I’m looking at this paragraph with mystification, wondering where the topic sentence is located … so I’m going to move on to the next paragraph.

The take-away from that last rambling chunk of text, for me, is that good communication involves de-centering and focusing on others (and of course, at the same time, being totally aware of who you are and what you do so you do not become a barrier to the process – but that is a different post). As I get older and hopefully have more perspective on myself I’m better able to focus on others, and I hope, in the process, better able to communicate meaningfully with them. To ask questions that should be asked, open topics worth discussing, provide encouragement and inspiration where needed.

I’m not there right now. I still shy away from asking questions because of a fear of opening up painful personal topics. As a result, I don’t always ask the questions that could foster intimacy. And I sometimes don’t share things because I strive to avoid backbiting. Laudable goal, but limiting communication is an unfortunate side effect.

And finally: becoming the type of communicator I want to be possibly involves seeing oneself as an agent of positive social change while simultaneously letting go of the self to be a vehicle for those positive interactions. And that probably starts with accepting where I am now.