Flickr Fun and My Mosaic for Today

Live your life open and truthful
as if you were standing outside naked to the world.

I have seen this fun little game before but it didn't speak to me until I was catching up on my friend this morning.

Here's how the game works:
a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image. I picked what popped up to me most.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's Mosaic Maker (not the individual property link.)

My answers to the Questions:
1. What is your first name? SARAH
2. What is your favorite food? SUSHI (especially raw type)
3. What high school did you go to? GALILEO
4. What is your favorite color? PURPLE and more
5. Who is your celebrity crush? ROBERT REDFORD
6. Favorite drink? THAI ICE TEA
7. Dream vacation? AFRICA (and Around the World)
8. Favorite dessert? TIRAMISU
9. What you want to be when you grow up? A MOTHER (no joke!)
10. What do you love most in life? MY CHILDREN
11. One word to describe you. RADICAL
12. Your flickr name. LIVEINFREEDOM

It does take a bit of time to figure all these out and you have to have a Flickr account, and you have to sign in.. Some of the big challenges I came upon: 1) I made things more complicated than it really was; 2) Many photos chosen were from one person that doesn't provide individual property link; 3) when I was ready to create a mosaic, only one photo came up with remaining 11 spots empty because people have opted out; and 4) press BACK instead of EDIT when creating a mosaic...DON'T! I did it not once but four times--ARGGGGG.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Live my life open and truthful as if I were standing outside naked to the world.

Whether it is reveled in or kept hidden, the lumps, bumps and scars on my body are as real and honorable as calloused fingers of a musician or the bulging biceps of a laborer.

I may not be 20 years old anymore, but, I wouldn't trade away a single battle scar. Each one is a memory. The first time I felt my child moving inside of me, when he took his first breath...his first smile and the beauty of his laughter.

We are beautiful because of who we are and have become! Celebrate the skin we are in!


Full Post Here

Rediscover the Marvels of Nature

A child who is allowed to fully experience
the beauty and power of nature
receives a gift for life
a gift that will deepen and grow
in meaning over all the years to come

Are you a parent who thinks of nature as something we need to teach our children, something we are meant to provide as a part of their well-rounded education, like music lessons, team sports, or art? Hubby and I have dutifully taken our children to planetariums, aquariums, educational exhibits, sea lion & whale watching, natural/living history museums, up and down small mountains and streams...we've even camped on farms/national parks for close encounters with deers, raccoons, horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, snakes, rodents...Yet, I've come to realize a few small, familiar places have made far deeper impressions on my children than all of the wilds and panoramic views and rain forest exhibits I could ever offer. The encounters with nature mean the most to them are those happen without any agenda at all, beyond going forth to see what's out there. My son and daughters' exuberance and curiosity carry them into an enchanted world full of wonder and possibility, into tide pools and tangled treetops, through mud puddles and into mossy clearings and secret hideouts, down into holes and up over rocks.

Not goodbye...just...until we meet again my pal, Ben! (More magical moments taken at Children Festival)

Over and over again, my children open my eyes to places and pleasures I might otherwise have missed altogether. My children and I can discover the same place over and over again, simply by taking a closer look just in my backyard. I don't need to climb mountains or sail overseas to meet nature. I need only join my children, down on my hands and knees, and watch the intimate movements of small creatures going about their businesses.

Don't lose touch with the natural world or ignore your primal hunger for earth, water, and sky. We do have time for nature. Modern society calls us away from nature's rhythms, away from the kind of observation and interaction with the natural world that can quiet a troubled mind, restore a sense of well-being, and renew our connections with all life. Children spend days inside instead, yoked to some other rhythm, bathed in artificial light, breathing recycled air, surrounded by man-made materials--concrete, glass, and plastic--in brightly colored classrooms, in structured after-school programs, and on man-made playgrounds and athletic fields that offer little in the way natural beauty. Little wonder, then, so many of us suffer from a vague sense that something important amiss from our lives or our children are growing up without a comfortable, enduring, firsthand relationship with the land. Perhaps they don't even know what they are missing, for they cannot yearn fro something they have never known themselves.

I vow to allow my children to grow up in nature. I will go along as they clamber over rocks, splash through streams, dig in the dirt, hunt for hermit crabs, follow caterpillars, count stars...I will take them out of doors and turn them loose and allow them to find sanctuary in their own special places. I will muse and wonder with them, gather stones and shells and seed pods, celebrate the seasons, and embrace all kinds of weather.

THANK YOU, my dear children, for offering me an opportunity to rediscover the marvels of nature. I don't need any special knowledge, any equipment, or even much of a plan. I don't need to be a naturalist or a teacher. I don't need to identify a single bird or flower or constellation. All I need is a willingness to go, to look, and to drink in the mystery and beauty of the world before my eyes. I don't need to have more knowledge to impart, a better foundation in the earth sciences so I could explain the world to my children--instead--of simply experiencing it with them. Certainly our outings gave rise to more questions than answers. But, as we watched and wondered together, I came to suspect our shared experience was probably more valuable to my children than any education I could provide. In time, they will acquire knowledge, too--but first they need the time and space to develop an emotional connection with the land, forging their own relationships with plants and animals, earth, and sky.

When I open to nature, when I explore the world around me with my feelings and emotions rather than my limited intellects, I engage all my senses. For now, at least, I try to resist the impulse to explain too much, for all those words can keep me from making deeper observations. I even quell the voice that wants to say Don't fall or You'll get soaked or Come in out of the cold Experience includes extremes and children need to feel them, need to test their own limits. The world, seen through the eyes of a child, is a delicious, irresistible place. For the moment, anyway, I'm the lucky adult companion of my three angels, my own sense of wonder renewed each time I step out the door and look around me.

Those who will make a real difference in our world--those who will grow up with the confidence and the imagination to help save the earth--will be those who know it well and love it deeply.


Full Post Here

Building Self Confidence

Successful people are not those who never fall
but those who keep getting up after their falls.
Instead of feeling fear,
they feel comfortable with falls
and inspired to keep going.

There have been quite a few interesting threads on RCU list recently. They got me pondering on my own thinking errors, relationship with and influence in my children. Anxieties about How will they ever learn? or They will take advantage of me come from my past, projected as fear into the future. These are grist for the mill of my personal development and have nothing to do with my children. Be here now with them and I'll know how to honor who they are and to cherish the moment with them. Listen to who they are rather than to voices from my past and pressures from friends and family. My delight in them will result in their self-esteem.

(PHOTO RIGHT: Little Bear brought to you earlier today at Crystal Peaks Horse Rescue Ranch where we volunteer) My children's spirit can shrivel without actual verbal abuse; it's the more subtle ways of diminishing their senses of self that often escape my scrutiny. Here is a reminder list that helps me focus on their senses of confidence and self-worth:
1. Help them only when they ask and only as much as they ask. Uninvited help is likely to cause them to conclude that they are incapable because the silent message they receive from me is I don't think you can do this on your own. You need my help. You are not capable.

(PHOTO LEFT: Say Hello to Molly, sweetest gal on the ranch) 2. Provide them with the freedom to try things on their own even when I know they cannot do them (as long as they are safe and, when not, provide an alternative.) Grant them the opportunity to fail or err. They will learn from such personal experience that she is strong and capable in the face of difficulties and that they can rely on themselves.

3. Support their choices without expecting specific results. Accept outcomes with neutrality and emotional expressions with respect and care. I can validate their frustration, joy, or disappointment--but keep my opinion about their actions to myself--or at least make sure it doesn't sway them away from their own convictions: My view is different and I enjoy seeing you going on your own path.

(PHOTO RIGHT: My Irish friend Cathi and her sweatpeas Aine & Arling) 4. Express gratitude and avoid correcting or criticizing their actions. If they offer to sweep the floor and I then redo the sweeping, they are unlikely to offer their helps again and will see themselves as incapable or even clumsy. If DD#1 mowed the lawn (which she just did two days ago) and I express dissatisfaction--because it's a little uneven--or if their spelling or reading errors are pointed out when they didn't ask for it, their self-esteem and development will undoubtedly suffer. One who makes an effort to do something helpful need to hear only gratitude, not evaluation, and one who learns new skills needs trust and sometimes acknowledgement, not criticism. My children will improve their abilities with time, provided they feel good about themselves and receive the learning tools they ask for (classes, books, tools, feedback, etc.)

5. Avoid praise and instead mirror their expressed feelings and share in their joy. This is particularly difficult challenge for me personally. Praising children for behaviors (You are so helpful, Dear!) and achievements (I'm so proud you won first place in the contest!) causes them to do things for the sake of getting the kudos rather than for their own sake. They may do anything to win my praise and may become dependent on external approval and achievement-based acceptance. Thus, ironically, praise and rewards can lower their self-esteem just as surely as criticism can.

6. Let go of my agenda for them and cherish them exactly the way they are. Expressing expectations as in Say Hi to Auntie Cathi can leave them feeling inadequate especially if they force themselves to comply with my wish. Even achievements must be their agenda, not mine. If I say You will be such a great performer they may fear they could not live up to my standards and give up or they may devote themselves to music theater work to please me. They may then lose their authentic motivation or even their passion. It's best to just avoid making suggestions or creating expectations for achievement. My joy in who they are and in their points of view is a vote of confidence that is by far more likely to preserve their natural motivation to excel.

7. Avoid negating their expressions and direction as much as possible. Saying NO too often or contradicting their ideas can wilt their assurances in themselves because they may conclude My choices seem to be the wrong ones. I can't trust myself. Even if they can't have what they want, their choices are still valid and worthy of consideration.

8. Avoid comparing them to anyone else. Allow them the burden of responsibility based on their readiness and interests. When I do everything for them, selecting what they should wear, suggesting what they should do, or reminding them of tasks and obligations (when not asked to) I undermine their senses of responsibility, fostering a loss of self-reliance. By being responsible for their own choices and actions, they will develop a sense of self-trust.

9. Listen to them and validate their emotional expressions. Their self-esteem will grow from knowing that their feelings and how they express them are valued.

10. Respect their knowledge and wisdom. If they ask questions, don't turn my responses into lectures or tests. Such act often leaves them feeling humiliated or bored and therefore less willing to inquire again. They will share their knowledge and interest with me more often when I don't probe and teach.

11. Treat them as my equal. Equal doesn't mean the same. They lack experience and deserve to have their limitations respected as well as enjoyed. Entering life later than someone else doesn't render anyone less worthy or deserving of full respect. My children are always doing the best they can, just like me.

12. Spilled milk isn't an invitation for criticism but for help in cleaning it up. When they make mistakes, stay neutral or helpful.I must focus on what is needed in the present (I can investigate my thoughts later for my own sake.) If they are upset, listen, validate, and reassure them of my love and appreciation. If they do something that seem to me stupid or clumsy, keep the criticism to myself (it's material for my own self-discovery) or reflect on their feelings they may be pleased with themselves or they might feel embarrassed, angry or confused. If they express self-doubt, I can validate so they know such things happen to everybody and are part of being human.

13. Devote time to them. Be a focused and engaged companion. If I tell them I have no time to do this with you or I'll play with you later regularly, they will see themselves as unimportant.

14. When I am with them, follow their leads and participate in their world respectfully. I can lead when they ask me to. Make sure they know how happy I am to be with them...and I really am!

15. When they ask for assistance, respond as promptly as I can and with a joyful spirit. Don't make them conclude in any way they are a nuisance to me.

Full Post Here

Kids with STICKS and STONES

Today's kids are not allowed to play
with a stick in the backyard~~George Carlin

Amy Hollingsworth, author of Gifts of Passage and The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers, shared with us RCUers of a fabulous poem written by her 87-year-old uncle, Dr. Bob Christin, who taught English Literature at Notre Dame. It was written, inspired by something he heard George Carlin said.

Leagues are organized today
for boys and girls outside of
school to kick and hit and
catch balls using bases and
nets, baskets, goal lines,
under supervision of referees.
All wear bright uniforms with
insignia, use protective gear.

Schedules for moms and kids
include dance and music and
tae kwon do lessons. Kids
and moms lift schedules
heavy as corporate executives,
conflicts, changes penciled
in an oversized calendar.

For kids growing up,
something is missing here,
an essential hands off
even to let kids do nothing.
to leave them time to stare
out a window, to lie awake
at night to dream with no
agenda, to discover ways
to have fun minus the plans
and programs of teachers,
parents, and umpires.

When I was a kid before
we had a sandbox Grandpa
built, we played in backyard
dirt with trowels, sticks from
trees, stones from the alley.
We played cowboys in vacant
lots filled with wild flowers
and weeds, using tree limbs
for the sheriff's office, lots
all over for criminals to hide.
Without a real football we
wrapped wire around old
newspapers for a pretend
ball we could not kick but
did use for thrilling passes
one to another. We tackled,
no protective gear. For
basketball we cut out the
bottom of a bushel basket
nailed to a telephone pole,
tossed through it large rubber
balls. We enjoyed impromptu
fun, often sitting on the curb
to laugh at each other, to try
to figure out teachers and
parents, why we were all told
to sit straight, move slowly.
be quiet, and then told to
act our age, which we thought
we did well.

Remember this good ole Peanuts cartoon? Charlie Brown (or was it Linus) and Snoopy defied the Snowman-building League and built their own snowman without being part of the league and without grown-up supervision or intervention.

Full Post Here

Autonomy and Power

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.~~Mark Twain

Children often feel helpless because they are small and inexperienced in a complex, big, and fast world--so many machines they can't touch, big people and animals they may fear, places they can't go to on their own, heights they cannot reach, things they need help with, events they find scary, and speeds they cannot grasp. Many of their upsets result from feeling helpless.

Unlike me, my children are not ready to give up on what they want in the present for the sake of the future. They know I take their immediate choices seriously. As with other emotional deprivations, I don't want their struggling with a sense of helplessness or deprived of feeling that they are in control of their lives may become angry, aggressive, or depressed.

Though I cannot eliminate their sense of helplessness, I can dramatically improve their chance of experiencing themselves as autonomous and powerful. I am their power extension into whatever is beyond their reach. They can affect their environment through me. Sometimes that entails doing things for them; but more often, it means getting out of the way and making their path safe and nurturing. By making the physical and social environments safe and healthy, I can eliminate the need to restrict or direct them. They can choose and direct their own activities, foods, timetable, and interests within the safe environment I've created.

Their sense of autonomy and power is not a function of being able to access everything that is available in our society, but rather of a day-to-day freedom in our home and social environment. Don't take my children to a candy store and then forbid them from eating candy--they will feel resentful and helpless. If I don't go to the candy store and provide healthy treats at home, they will feel autonomous and content. I provide leadership in terms of the direction of the family life so my children have freedom to trust themselves. As they grow older, they will be exposed to more and more of what is available; feeling secure in themselves. They will make choices based not on social pressures but on their authentic preferences and values.

My relationship with my children is out of trust not control. They take my wisdom and guidance seriously because they know I am on their sides. This trust will be handy when they become engaged with the community and society at large. Instead of resenting my ideas because of seeing me as the one controlling and negating them, they will hopefully seek my advice as their loving ally. My children will not take advantage of me just because they are not controlled. They are not living in fear that their power will be taken away, that they will be controlled, coerced, or directed. They have no need to take advantage of anyone. Their desires are only to take care of themselves and when respected they thrive. A thriving one is too busy and happy to bother with negative strategies.

By not depriving my children of their power, I do not mean that I give them license to do whatever they want. Like me, children live in a world that sets its own physical and social boundaries. I just need to be authentic with my children so they live a real life and not a fantasy life in which all their wishes are promptly fulfilled. Natural frustrations not imposed by anyone are a healthy part of growing up; I need only to validate my children's feelings and listen.

A child who feels powerful has no need to resort to destruction or to bullying; yet a child who feels incompetent or helpless very well might, especially if he has no safe means of expressing himself. Respecting their individual needs and inclinations can go a long way toward preventing a sense of helplessness and its resulting defiance.

(Sculpture taken at the Fair) Life with children flows when I simply follow their lead and respect their choices, rather than whack my brain for what I think is right for them.

Encourage, inspire, laugh...Go GREEN!
Full Post Here

Courageous to Be...Sincere, Open and Honest

Being vulnerable doesn't have to be threatening.

Just have the courage to be sincere, open and honest.

This opens the door to deeper communication all around.

It creates self-empowerment

and the kind of connections with others we all want in life.

Speaking from the heart frees us from the secrets that burden us.

These secrets are what make us sick or fearful.

Speaking truth helps you get clarity on your real heart directives.

Full Post Here

Mowing for Cookies...NOT!

If you obey all the rules
You miss all the fun.~~Katharine Hepburn

Most kids get a job over the Summer--lawn mowing tends to be a popular one. But with rising gas prices, the luxury of working outdoors and setting your own rate is getting expensive. Have your landscaping maintenance cost gone up in recent months? Just curious...

WOWSERS! Our amiable 12-year-old has landed her first job on Saturday, July 5...

Anyhoo, training on the job went...ahhhh...

left ample room for renegotiating her compensation. $2.25 just doesn't cut it (no pun intended!)



Hubby, a rain-or-shine kind of guy, would mow in a downpour. I have come to understand that the structure of the universe will tilt and the planet will orbit in reverse, if lawn mowing doesn't happen every week, without fail. Hubby is one dependable guy who wants to get the job done. Ooooh, how I miss him around here.

Full Post Here
True learning-learning that is permanent and useful,that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner.
John Holt
Real heroes are men who fall, fail and are flawed, but win out in the end because they stayed true to their ideals, beliefs and commitments.
Actor Kevin Costner

© Copyright Live In Freedom . All Rights Reserved.

Designed by TemplateWorld and sponsored by SmashingMagazine

Blogger Template created by Deluxe Templates