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I’m reading the book Non-Violent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg and it is eye opening.  I have not had a strong background in communication, let alone positive communication.  Because of my family situation, I grew up keeping things to myself and never learned how to communicate with others.  As I became a teenager and young adult, this carried with me and I struggled in my relationships to be open and real, to truly share my thoughts and feelings and to hear and understand others.  I became aware of this before I got married and did all I knew to change this about myself.  I did become more open and sought to really try to understand those around me.  But since becoming a mom, my heart has been opened in ways I never could of imagined.  Not only do I want to be real, transparent, empathetic and compassionate with my son, but also to my husband, family, friends and even strangers.  Thus, my journey into non-violent communication is beginning.  And I emphasize beginning!

As I’m reading through this book I will be sharing excerpts from it but also my thoughts, discoveries and experiences.

Most of us have been educated from birth to compete, judge, demand, and diagnose – to think and communicate in terms of what is “right” and “wrong” with people.  At best, communicating and thinking this way can create misunderstanding and frustration.  And still worse, it can lead to anger, depression, and even emotional or physical violence.

So what exactly is non-violent communication (NVC)?

  • Violence can be both physical, where force is used.  And passive, where the effects are more emotional.

Non-violence means allowing the positive within you to emerge.  Be dominated by love, respect, understanding, appreciation, compassion and concern for others rather than the self-centered and selfish, greedy, hateful, prejudiced, suspicious, and aggressive attitudes that dominate our thinking.

NVC guides us in reframing how we express ourselves and hear others.  Instead of habitual, automatic reactions, our words become conscious responses based on awareness of what we are perceiving, feeling and wanting.  When we focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed rather than on diagnosing and judging, we discover the depth of our own compassion.

In the short time that I have been reading this book, I have become so aware of how I do not know how to express my feelings, needs or wants to others, like my hubby and even more so, how often I judge, generalize and do not fully know what the other person is feeling, needing or wanting.  The encouraging thing is that in the short time I’ve been reading this book and starting to practice NVC, I have seen the benefits of it in my closest relationships. I’m pretty excited to keep reading, learning and practicing.

Next up I’ll be sharing the components of NVC.

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I Am Mom to A Boy

He loves dirt.  The edible kind too.

He gets boo boos from being daring. 😦

He likes to kiss wild things.

He makes this sound, “brrrrmmmmm” every time he sees or hears anything motorized.

And loves getting to ride anything that goes “brrrrmmmmm”

But this little boy is a sweet one.  He’ll hug just about anything that will let him.  Especially Me!!!

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When was the last time you skipped?

Last week Judah & I took a very special little girl out for her 6th birthday.  We had lunch, went to the park and then cooled off with ice cream, the makings of a great day.  While we were at the park this lovely girl couldn’t stop skipping. Judah wanted to be just like her so I tried to show him how to skip and I felt so out of my body.  When had I last skipped? Why don’t I skip anymore?  So as I made my body move as it hasn’t in a looong time, skipping came back to me and I remembered how fun it was.  Skipping is full of energy, excitement, and wonder.  I want to skip a little bit everyday.

What about you?  Skip Skip Skip to my lou…

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Unschooling…

I am no where near “school age” with Judah but I have already begun to think about the topic.  Something about public education doesn’t sit right with me for many reasons and I was never fond of public school myself, so I have already been pondering the alternatives.  Private Schools.  Charter Schools.  Homeschooling.  Unschooling???

Unschooling is a relatively new term to me and I am in no way an expert nor do I have much experience with it. But as I have been researching the concept, it is has peaked quite an interest in me.  Unschooling, also known as natural learning or life learning, is a concept of learning that nurtures a child’s innate curiosity and drive to discover.  Parent’s guide their children and help to facilitate further discovery of the interests of their children. There is no set way to unschool.

In essence, I am already unschooling Judah.  Everyday he is naturally learning and I am coming along side and helping to nurture what interest him.  Babies and children are natural learners and when learning is approached as something natural and freely occurring, the love of discovery will never end.  Kids just grow into adults who never stop learning.

Recently, Good Morning America did a segment on unschooling, which I was not crazy about, but caused quite a stir.  The link is here.  And the follow up interview is here.

Also, here are some great posts and articles concerning unschooling.

Walk Slowly Live Wildly:  Unschooling: A Life of Freedom

The Organic Sister:  The Uproar Over Unschooling

Child’s Play:  Unschooling

Swiss Army Wife:  Parent’s Role in Unschooling

Huffington Post:  Unschooling: How GMA Got It All Wrong

What are your thoughts?  Have you ever heard of unschooling?

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Present?!?!?!?

Why is it so hard to be present?  I struggle to be fully present when playing with Judah boy.  Fully present when talking with the hubs.  Fully present when reading a book.  Fully present when taking time to think.  I find my mind wandering.  My heart wandering.  Yet longing to get back to the moment at hand.  I need to train my mind

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to focus on what’s happening right now.  I need to intentionally prevent myself from getting distracted…like leaving the iphone or computer out of reach.  I want to embrace the moment.  I want to be playful.  I want to get caught up in the interaction between me and my loves.  I want to smile when I think back on the day because it’s happening are so vivid to me because I was immersed in them.  On the surface of me there are so many things that call for my attention yet deep down I want to run from all the noise and find simplicity.  This will not be easy but I want to do it.

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What a fantastic book!!!  Last Child in the Woods looks at the lives of today’s kids and exposes what the author calls the nature deficit disorder.  Nature deficit disorder is not a medical condition, it is the description of the human costs of alienation from nature.  This alienation damages children and shapes adults, families and communities.  The author even links the lack of nature in children’s lives to common trends, such as obesity, ADD and depression.  He shares the evidence of the deficit and ultimately shares how to restore not only our children, but ourselves back to nature.

He also shares that there is proven research to confirm that environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade point averages and develops skills in problems solving, critical thinking and decision making.  Even creativity is stimulated by childhood experiences in nature.

Sending kids outside to play has become increasingly difficult. Computers, television and video games compete for their time. Schools are assigning more and more homework.  Areas are being developed which means less and less natural space to roam and explore.  And parent’s fears of strangers, traffic or virus carrying mosquitos are keeping kids indoors.

I was so challenged, inspired and impassioned to make sure that Judah does not grow up void of a connection to nature.  This book opened my eyes to the very reality that we live so out of connection with the natural world. There may be trees, grass, fields, or streams all around us but do we daily connect with them.  Do I make the outside world the most important place for Judah to be?  Or do I allow my priorities to keep me so busy that it ultimately keeps him locked up in school, the car, the house?  Long long ago, even before I was a kid (so I would say I grew up with this to a degree) kids wanted to be outside more than anything else.  They would wake up and head outdoors and wouldn’t come in until bed time.  They climbed trees, made forts, caught bugs and just existed outside.  For me, I spent a lot of time outside with my neighborhood friends but I wasn’t free to roam.  I spent much of my childhood camping and in natural environments and some of my best memories are from those times. Even now, as an adult, I love nature and my soul longs to be in it.

I want Judah to grow up outdoors and to connect to nature deeply.  I know that nature will shape him in to the kind of man he will become, whether that is athletic, artistic, musical, or educational.  He’s 18 months and would live outside if he could and I don’t ever want to see him stray from that.  I don’t ever want him to choose t.v. or video games over the trees, the birds and the fresh air.  I don’t ever want to see him lose this love and spark.

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There is a couple in our church that have a small ranch where they keep goats and bunnies.  Grandpa had been helping out at the ranch and that meant Judah got to go along.  This quickly became Judah’s favorite place to be.  He was so in his element out on the ranch and he and the goats became quick friends.  After spending time on the ranch, I now want to own some acres where I can have a garden and where Judah (and any other future kids) can just roam and be.

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