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I have beautiful memories of how we celebrated Diwali in my family when I was a child and growing up. The aroma of food, the colours of rangolis, the textures of flowers – marigold, lilies, lotus, jasmine; the light and fragrance from the rows of clay lamps we call ‘Diya’, are all so so prominent in my heart that I can’t help but keep reminiscing over those pretty pictures around Diwali time – year after year…and keep narrating those tales to my children and hubby and go over all over again with my brother!

Yet, in the last few years, I’ve yearned to create some new family traditions and refashion some of the old ones that we as a family resonate will with; that will tell OUR story reflecting what we value at this stage in life, what fascinates us, what’s fun for us and what’ll create strong memories for our children down the lane…

This Diwali, an idea sprung in my heart with such spontaneity that I almost felt it was my inner voice – my heart and soul speaking in unison.

It’s about the day before Diwali which we call as ‘Roop Chaudas’. Roop meaning beauty and chaudas is the 14th day of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu calendar month of Kartik.

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unschooling mindfulness being in the moment
The most fundamental and spiritual and heart-melting aspect of unschooling (to me) is my interactions with my children. As their mother and friend and guide and mentor, I’m tuned to their mind, body and soul (the soul – that’s a big one for me!). What is it that they delight in, what is it that they find interesting, what frustrates them, what drains them, what inspires them – I strive to be mindful and aware. I pay heed to their being. I respect their space, their time, their opinion.

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natural learning following children's cues

In response to my article, “How Learning Happens Without School”, a reader/mom asked this:

“What about kids whose parents (like me) are not passionate about anything? I don’t expect of my kid too but I really want to give this kind of environment to her. I know you and your daughter are talented…”

The reader (am not mentioning her name) asked this in reaction to my writing that as part of providing a rich environment to my kids, I follow my own passions and keep my learning alive. Following my own ideas and interests may or may not serve as inspiration to them; I follow them anyway because that’s what feeds my own curiosity and creativity, and offers a rich environment to them and makes them see how much fun it is to dive yourself into your interests. Interest-based learning, anyone?!

Now, to answer the reader’s question:

You may not be passionate about anything, but you can be curious about something. Your curiosity will fuel your desire to learn something new. And, it may (or not) rub off on your children.

So, yes, you may not have passions. You may not be particularly talented at one or more things.

But, it’ll help if you’re open to learning yourself. You’ll make a rocking team if you kindle your curiosity – your natural state of learning. For, your children are inherently curious and will be curious about one thing or another. You just need to follow their cues.

And, feed THEIR curiosity, while feeding your own.

And, how exactly do you feed their curiosity and support their learning?

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unschooling natural learning without school

As you all know, Pari does not go to school. It’s been roughly 5+ years that we’re unschooling her. She’ll be 11 on November 30. And Sufiana, who’ll be three on November 2, does not go to any preschool or playschool either. So, yes, we’re homeschooling our children. Actually, unschooling. Because, homeschooling is often (not always and not exclusively) about doing school-like subject studies at home; about following a curriculum and maintaining a structure or a schedule at home. Whereas unschooling means breaking free from the trappings of school. The traps being – learning from a curriculum, following fixed hours, categorizing learning into subjects – science, math, biology, history, geography; testing and grading; sticking to schoolish habits, expectations, fears and terminology.

What is unschooling? If you’d ask me to define it, there’s no one way to explain unschooling. For, unschooling is not a parenting ‘technique’, unschooling is not a learning ‘formula’, definitely not a modus operandi for ‘education’. As I’ve come to understand, education starts with an end date. Unschooling is life-long learning.

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celebrate her wholeness let her feel her feelings

Sufiana was mad at me. She was raging with anger; hot tears flowed down her cheeks. In between sobs, she was yelling her heart out, “badmaash (naughty) mamma…kyon badmaasha kara (why did you do such a bad thing). I was standing there sheepish and sorry for the hurt and resulting anger I’d (unwittingly) caused to her. I kneeled down at her height and sincerely and gently told her, “I’m sorry baby, I forgot that you don’t want me to wipe your body and wrap the towel around you. I thought you were feeling cold. Sorry Sufiana. I’ll remember this next time, okay?” I said the same thing, using different but simple words, a couple of times.

She’d let me know before in no uncertain terms that she would like to wipe herself dry after every bath and then wrap the towel around herself; that I should not do it at any cost. Basically, this less than 3 years old is an eager natural learner. She loves being in charge of her everyday chores (so much fun for her!) like brushing her teeth, bathing, applying coconut oil over her body, grooming her hair. But, that noon, when she ran out of the bathroom with her body dripping wet, the fan was blowing full speed outside and the cold breeze due to the monsoon rains added an element of cold that we aren’t used to here in Goa. I rushed to wrap a towel around her, without thinking how upset she gets when I or my hubby ever do that. To make matters worse for her, I laughed light-heartedly as if meaning, “yay, I caught you and beat you to it”. Now, that was hilariously stupid on my part, I sincerely feel. And, well, she wasn’t humoured one bit.

Hence, the angry expression over not being listened to, of not showing regard for what and how she wants, of undermining her opinion.

So, yes, I was sorry for her hurt. And that’s an understatement. It’s heart-wrenching for a mother to see pain in those sparkly, trusting eyes. I was feeling for her and was trying hard to hold the space for her – I wasn’t intervening in her cry, wasn’t stopping her from yelling.

Yet, I could not help but feel awe-struck by the immeasurable beauty in that scene….

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pregnancy and child birth trusting women's inner wisdom and her body

Ever since man and woman came to partner on this planet, women have given birth. Birthing has been their second nature – an involuntary process – like breathing. But, times changed. And messages too. The modern woman was constantly drilled with messages about child birth that created dark and perilous clouds of fear in her mind. She was constantly being told if she won’t do this, that might happen, if she won’t listen to so and so, she’ll put her baby at risk. So, she was constantly listening – to every fear-inducing message from the authority figures, from the medical experts, from the machines and the lab tests. The only important being she was told to not listen to was her own body, her own inner wisdom and her natural instinct as a woman and a mother.

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natural spiritual pregnancy and child birth and birth rights

Last night, as I felt a part of me engulfed by sheer exhaustion, of the body as well as mind, I found myself inadvertently browsing through an old collection of photographs on the laptop. So momentous were the memories associated with these pictures that I felt goosebumps on my arms and a shiver down my spine. I was walking through visuals from a time of my life that was nothing if not life-changing. Those pictures were from the last few days before I gave birth to my second child – Sufiana (2.5 now). I realized that this is the first time I’m actually watching these pictures after clicking them for, I’d downloaded the pics on my hubby’s laptop, which I never use. Now, I’m using it as he got a new one and my old laptop is on its verge.

Within minutes of going through those photographs, my mind stopped racing; I wasn’t blinking as much; my breath felt less laboured. I felt love within me, for myself. I felt grateful that I was able to do all that I wanted to.

So, here’s the story and the visuals…

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upcycled DIY saree curtains bohemian breezy house

In a previous post, I shared our upcycled saree curtains and referred to that queen bed which has propagated many lovely pieces of furniture. We’d dismantled that whole bed with the help of a local carpentar, extracted three wall shelves from one portion of the bed. The bed itself was broken down into two singles, which we’d painted earlier – in a shabby chic, distress style (pics below). I couldn’t wait to do something different with the wall shelves. So, here’s the rest of the post, see for yourself…

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papier mache letters tutorial

When it comes to art or craft (or, any other subject for that matter) I keep getting smitten by a new form or type or tool every so often. There’s just so much to explore and learn and yet such limited time to create with a 2.5 year old around. An over dose of curiosity and an under dose of free time to ‘make’ is a tough combination. And that has an impact. It impacts my ability to master a specific art form that I’m exploring at a particular time. (Paper Mache, right now…..).

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Giving From The Heart

giving from the heart

I never feel more given to

than when you take from me –

when you understand the joy I feel

giving to you.

And you know my giving isn’t done

to put you in my debt,

but because I want to live the love

I feel for you.

To receive with grace

may be the greatest giving.

There’s no way I can separate

the two.

When you give to me,

I give you my receiving.

When you take from me, I feel so

given to.

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These verses, dear readers, is by Ruth Bebermeyer from the album Given To.

I felt deeply that I must share this poem with you all to express how I feel after receiving your positive and warm comments today (on the blog and on FB page) – about the blog post (‘Upcycled Home‘). I published today after a gap of 7-8 months and was totally not sure anyone would ever read anything from me given my erratic ways on the blog. But, by receiving my writing in a way that you did, you’ve given me the gift of joy and grace and love. It’s a beautiful confusion happening – my writing is my giving to you and your receiving gracefully is your giving to me. As it’s said in the lines above – “to receive with grace may be the greatest giving.

I’d also like to share that I came across this poetry in the book ‘Nonviolent Communication A Language of Life‘ by Marshall B. Rosenberg. Have been reading and re-reading this book and I can only say it’s truly life-changing. Life-changing because it teaches you the language (not just words) of compassion that stems from the heart. It helps you listen to what others have to say and to express effectively what’s on your mind and in your heart. It gives clear and concise ways to improve your inter-personal relationships.

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