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Celebrating One Year of a Wonder-filled Life!

be the wonder-struck partner to your child

There was no cake, no candles; nothing else that might be testimony to a first birthday. Yet, it was a beautiful birthday celebration for Sufiana, who turned one on November 2.  Avie, Pari and I discussed a few ideas for how to make her day special and then we all agreed – unanimously – given the curious, observant, aware, nature-loving and water-loving being that she is, the best birthday celebration and the best gift for her would be a day out in the nature. Nature would be her perfect play-mate showering her with curious finds, playful moments and wild fun.

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Mandalas, Mantras and Motherhood

mandala mantra art motherhood

It was our first Diwali in our new home in Goa and obviously we were very keen on creating memorable moments that would last a life-time – ours, and possibly – our children’s. We cleaned and uncluttered the home, made art, decorated many corners, cooked delicacies, clicked pictures, lit candles, diyas (clay lamps), made rangolis. And hey, we even came out of our comfort zone to host a get-together for some new friends that we’ve made here.

You see, all of this sounds quite a bit, especially, with Sufiana in tow. It may even sound like we had a rushed week. But, I have to tell you – amidst all these ‘things’ that we did for Diwali, it was always on top of my mind that I do not want to ‘do’ at the cost of inconveniencing Sufiana (the littlest member in our family). I don’t want to come out of the festival week feeling stressed and rushed. I don’t want a ‘perfect-looking’ Diwali; I want a ‘happy Diwali’.

So, if I could share with you three simple practices that worked for me – worked to keep me calm, centered and mindful during the festival time (that could have otherwise been overwhelming), those have to be:

1. drawing mandalas and other spiritual art

2. chanting mantras and writing them out, and,

3. Squeezing in time every once in a while (in between all the festive cleaning, cooking and decorating) to escape into a quiet room to play with my little one – my little Sufiana.

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reading aloud mothering learning

I was reading aloud to Pari (my 8.5 year old) yesterday morning – Maupassant’s short story – ‘Two Friends’. That book – a collection of short stories by the greatest short story writers ever – O Henry, Guy De Maupassant, Saki, Chekhov – has been on my shelf for more than ten years now. I hadn’t touched it.

Yes, I’d not turned a page of that book even though I love to read. Even though I love short stories.

But, right now with you, I don’t want to dig into why did I NOT read that book in so many years. On the contrary, I want to figure out (and, I’m thinking aloud with you as I’m writing this) WHAT made me read it that morning?

I feel, the prospect of reading to Pari (actually, it’s more like reading to her and to myself!) is something else. I’ve figured that I can create time to read to her even in the middle of dozing off. It’s not merely duty. It’s fun. For her and for me. It’s our sacred time. It’s my me-time. It’s our co-learning time. It’s our confiding time. And so much more. Come join me in this journey of self-discovery…

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Art Heals: An Introspection of My Mom’s Life

healing tape resist art

It was a beautiful – and powerful – sight for me. My 65-year old mom and my 8.5-years old Pari sitting at the same table and making art. Pari does art often, that’s not unusual. But, convincing mom to do art was not so easy. And, I’m glad I did so, for those two hours or more that mom dived into the process of making art, was healing, to say the least. Healing, not just for her, but for me too.

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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 Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (by Richard Bach). 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.

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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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