Mother's Curious Learning Unschooling

“We are mostly teaching what we need to learn. We also teach best what we most need to learn”

Recently, I came across those words of wisdom (above) from the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. That line was shared by Kiran Gulrajani – on the online forum of the Learning Societies UnConference.

And, those words struck a chord with me. They sum up my experience as an un-schooling parent to Pari (my 8.5 years old). I believe I have been and will continue to be a good parent/mentor to my child because I have a fertile mind – rife with curiosity to learn and explore.
I’m in a good position to mentor because I’ve got a lot to learn myself; I WANT to learn a lot. Though I’m just a few years shy of 40, my inner child is alive and kicking – very much a no-holds-barred learner. I’m not a master of any art or skill but thanks to my ever-inquisitive mind, I’m good at quite a few things. If I wasn’t open to learning, I would have been a bad example for my daughter and a rather poor mentor/teacher.

Get the full dose of curiosity!

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breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months and beyond

Eight months it has been been since Sufiana came into my life. This journey of being a mother, all over again, to a tiny being (but an evolved soul) – since Pari was born eight years ago – has been the most uplifting experience – at a spiritual, emotional and physical level. And, of all that I do as a mother to love and bond with her and care for my little one, breastfeeding her has been (and is continuing to be) the biggest nurturer. Not just for her. For me as much – if not more.

I’m breastfeeding her exclusively even though it’s way past 6 months – the recommended norm to breastfeed a baby exclusively. I’ve started tiny amount of mashed fruits/potato etc a week back. But, she’s not been too keen. So, statistically, she’s still nursing almost every two-three hours – through day and night.

So, why did I choose to breastfeed her exclusively for 6 months? And, beyond, too?

I’ll write my perspective and research on each of these questions, in separate blocks.
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IMG_5462

(pic by Pari)

This patch of land that we’ve found in our new house in Goa has kept us enagaged. Actually, ‘engaged’ is not the right word. We’re hooked to it. For, every free moment of the day that we find goes into preparing the soil, laying the beds, sowing the seeds, keeping them safe from the rain beating down like a zealot. The Goan monsoons – don’t get me started on that. This place looks like another world, another planet – if there’s anything like this out there. Well, yeah -the monsoons deserve a dedicated article. So, what do I talk about in this blog post that’s due for the longest time now….

It has to be about my organic kitchen garden that’s in progress. Besides all the garden-related activities that I do out there, this outdoor space has become a spa for my soul. The churning and nurturing that goes on deep within my core, when my hands are buried in the soil, my feet feeling the earth  - I can’t really begin to express in words. And yet…I might try…

So, here are some thoughts, tips and lessons learned from the backyard (and frontyard) with pictures – as usual.
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art journaling with children inspired by birds

Writing my first blog post from Goa! Yes, we’re here and more or less settled. Well, there still are many loose ends; couple of boxes and suitcases that are yet to be unpacked, but even then, we’re feeling quite at home now. So much so that Pari and I were inspired to do some art journaling the other day.

Interestingly, both she and I kept birds at the centre of our theme or rather – at the center of our thoughts. I say “thoughts” because that’s how art journaling is – it goes where your thoughts and feelings lead you. You don’t have to have a ‘theme’ before you start.
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unschooling untravel Buddhist Dzogchen Tibetan

As a bee seeks nectar
from all kinds of flowers,
seek teachings everywhere.

Like a deer that finds a quiet place to graze,
seek seclusion to digest all you have gathered.

Like a lion, live completely free of all fear.
And, finally, like a madman, beyond all limits,
go wherever you please.

From: The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen (Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy – accelerated path to self-perfection)
by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu

It’s no coincidence that I encountered these wisdom-filled words (and books) recently. This is how our life’s journey has been unfolding over the past few years that we started unschooling Pari; Avie quit his job; I conceived Sufiana; and then we traveled to Goa – to give birth to my Sufi baby.

Each and every thought expressed in those verses are full of meaning and message for me and my family.

So, what does each thought convey to me in light of our current life journey.

(Oh, and there’s also a NEWS I’m sharing with you folks…!)
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Curating art at book fair with children

I try not to miss a visit to an exhibition or a fair. More so – an art exhibition or a book fair. There’s so much for a child (heck, there’s so much for me!) to capture in such spaces – the sights, the sounds, the opportunities to interact, ask questions, get questioned in turn, click pictures, come back and reflect on. And….

….and, the lively conversations that Pari and I have – on site. Yes, through these conversations, we learn, debate, explore, contemplate, educate, clarify, form a perspective, and understand each other’s perspective.

In this riot of colours and images, a child will capture and learn much more than she’d in a classroom – with a bag-full of text books.

Above all, we learn to see from the lens of an artist or a writer.  

Sharing some breathtaking art that we spotted (and curated) at the book fair – from around the world in Children’s literature. Also, snippets of conversation between Pari and me, while we were soaking in all that creativity.
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birth art affirmations love baby womb motherhood

I feel that art helps me express and articulate some of the most inexplicable and intangible thoughts, ideas and feelings. Thoughts that even I may not be aware of. Feelings that may not be able to surface with the help of words. Those expressions present at the subconscious level float up when I express with paint and brush. Or, a mere gel pen – to doodle.

And, I’ve never felt the force of art more powerfully than during my pregnancy. Right from the first trimester when I started pottery and painted my dozens of clay creations to avid Zentangle doodling to the 30-day Leaf Art Challenge during the eighth month.

And then, just a week before Sufiana’s birth - some more leaf art – this time art on leaves itself. And, affirmations. This is something I haven’t shared with you yet. And, I thought, this Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to share these artful creations that I made with tremendous love for my baby – to welcome her in and with overflowing positivity.
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A Birth in Goa

by Rashmie on January 7, 2014 · 34 comments

in Holistic Living,Nurture & Culture

spiritual birth

The red circle in this picture represents the ‘yoni’. Yoni is a Sanskrit word meaning vagina or womb. It is also the divine passage, or sacred temple. The word can cover a range of extended meanings, including: place of birth, spring, fountain, home, nest and more.

It’s been three months here since I last posted – the 30th day Leaf Art (of the 30-day challenge). Autumn has long gone and we’re bang in the middle of a bone-chilling winter out here in Delhi (and so many other regions around the world); 2013 is old calendar as I get used to begin my diary entries with 2014. The topic of passionate discussion these days, across country, has changed from Cricket to Politics as the Aam Aadmi Party is writing new chapters of governance in Delhi.

So, will I say “time flies” as we’re so used to saying?

Well, I guess not. Not this time at least. For, those last three months was a slow and deliberate journey. We were in absolutely no hurry to reach the ‘destination’ or the ‘goal’. Each of us savoured every moment. We ‘lived’ every experience that came our way. And, we took some life-changing decisions. What am I talking about, you might wonder? Well, I’m referring to the event that followed the 30-day leaf art  (the birth art), you see!

Read on to know some tid-bits from the birth story. And, of-course – pictures! :-)
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Illuminate Your Soul – Nurture Your Highest Self (Inspired by the Kadamb Tree)

by Rashmie September 2, 2013

I’m actually feeling illuminated as I completed the 30-day artful journey yesterday! Not sure I can find appropriate words and ways to express my feelings but I’ll try….I made 30 paintings in the past 30 days; bonded with and closely understood dozens of trees; soaked the music of nature and the songs of birds, and […]

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A Nest Built With Love – The Golden Oriole on the Silk Cotton Tree

by Rashmie August 31, 2013

Today’s art reflects all that a home is and can be – not merely a place but a person – with a tender, caring heart; a lively, colourful, and creative nature; and a warm, welcoming soul. This home – the nest – can never be empty – for its residents will keep coming back, no […]

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