Off the Mat: Dark Days

Dark Days

Driving his die cast metal school bus ‘round its pressboard wooden route, my kiddo hums under his breath. Tune recognition takes a while to reach my conscious mind.

Do you realize you’re humming the Darth Vader music?

Oh.  Mama? What’s the music for the bright side?

Setting the clocks back messes with my head. Don’t get me wrong, I relish the extra hour of sleep.  I can even appreciate how the “earlier” sunrise means we can stand in sunbeams not shadows while waiting for the bus. But the darkness is challenging. Over the years, I’ve tried exercise, high dose Vitamin D, natural light bulbs, to mixed effects. Mold allergies leave me head-achy and spent by mid-afternoon. Now mid-afternoon grows dark.

Do I rage against the dying light, pressing on full tilt through the December schedule? Hunker down and hibernate, slowing my pace to baseline functions only? Or seek a middle way – look for the light?  Read the rest of this entry »

In Appreciation: Mindfulness in the Face of Uncertainty

Mindfulness in the Face of Uncertainty

Uncertainty is always with us, though we are elaborately and profoundly adept at masking it under layers of practices and to-do lists to keep the uncomfortable, frightening feelings that come with uncertainty at bay. But for me, this past month shattered many of the illusions of certainty to which I was clinging. I was suddenly cast into a deep discomfort and fear of the unknown that I had never before felt so strongly or across so many aspects of my life, as well as the lives of many people whom I love.

When I first began to study mindfulness and Buddhism years ago, it was because on an impulse, I purchased the book Comfortable with Uncertainty by the American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron. I really liked the title, because I was young, insecure, and totally not comfortable with anything. Since in the immediate days after the election, I have been googling how to move to Canada, compulsively cleaning my house, and spending hours composing long, eviscerating responses to comments on Facebook that I would never actually post. I was clearly once again not comfortable with uncertainty. I pulled Chodron’s book back off the shelf for a refresher course on mindfulness when dealing with uncertainty.

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In Appreciation: 3 Ways to Practice Kindness and Teach Gratitude During the Holidays

Three Ways to Teach Gratitude in Time with the Season

With the many weekends of harvest festivals winding down and Thanksgiving right around the corner, the air is thick with the pumpkin spice aroma of, well, everything, and it is hard to miss that another season of thanks is upon us. While every day is an opportunity to be grateful, with children I find this season in particular can offer some prime opportunities to practice gratitude in unique ways. For my family, there are a few variations on familiar themes of gratitude that I have found work to teach both gratitude and interconnectedness, the latter of which helps teach how far our circles of gratitude really can reach.

This first practice is one I only recently learned (with many thanks to my mother-in-law, who introduced it to us during a recent visit). During her trip, I had finally got my Pinterest-deficient self in gear and had purchased some orange and black construction paper so the kids could make festive paper chains to string up in the house as decorations. As they worked on this project with my mother-in-law, she introduced a lovely idea that will heretofore become a ritual in our house. On each strip of cardboard, before you glue it in a ring and add it to the chain, you write something you are grateful for on it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Boxing Day: Extending Festive Generosity

Boxing Day: A Day of Gratitude

Drawing inspiration from the holiday’s roots, use the day after Christmas to show some appreciation for those in service positions who you see regularly. Kids can make thank you cards for the workers who stock shelves and bag your groceries at the local co-op, bake and deliver cookies to the farmers at a local CSA, or make prayer flags covered with messages of thanks and gratitude for the doctors and nurses working at a local community health center.

Boxing Day, St. Stephen’s Day, Day of the Wren, Second Christmas Day, Day of Goodwill – known by many names in countries around the world, December 26th brings a second day of celebration. Following the traditional Christmas Day, the holiday most commonly known as Boxing Day is a bank holiday – a day when banks and other similar service-based industries are closed, allowing workers an extra day off. Though the holiday has evolved over time, its roots are quite similar to its modern manifestation. Boxing Day gets its name from the practice of giving Christmas boxes filled with food and gifts to servants and tradesmen – something that took place after the members of the upper class had enjoyed a day filled with celebrations (during which many of the service workers hadn’t had a day off)…

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Off the Mat: Constructively Compassionate at Home

Constructive Compassion

Open hands. Open heart. Loving gracefully begins at home.

My hubby and I are arguing in agreement. Again. This time about word choice in an online article about parenting boys. The content is almost irrelevant. Almost because these tiffs often arise when discussing parenting and gender. Societal messages to little boys and little girls. We argue in agreement, differing over minutiae born of perspective, gender, age, family of origin experience.

Read the rest of this entry »

Boxing Day: A Day of Gratitude

Boxing Day: A Yuletide Tip

Drawing inspiration from the holiday’s roots, use the day after Christmas to show some appreciation for those in service positions who you see regularly. Kids can make thank you cards for the workers who stock shelves and bag your groceries at the local co-op, bake and deliver cookies to the farmers at a local CSA, or make prayer flags covered with messages of thanks and gratitude for the doctors and nurses working at a local community health center.

Boxing Day, St. Stephen’s Day, Day of the Wren, Second Christmas Day, Day of Goodwill – known by many names in countries around the world, December 26th brings a second day of celebration. Following the traditional Christmas Day, the holiday most commonly known as Boxing Day is a bank holiday – a day when banks and other similar service-based industries are closed, allowing workers an extra day off. Though the holiday has evolved over time, its roots are quite similar to its modern manifestation. Boxing Day gets its name from the practice of giving Christmas boxes filled with food and gifts to servants and tradesmen – something that took place after the members of the upper class had enjoyed a day filled with celebrations (during which many of the service workers hadn’t had a day off)…

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Thanksgiving Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

Thanksgiving Episode
with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn

This special Thanksgiving episode by Charity Kahn from Charity and the JAMband explores, through music and story, some of the many, many things we have to be grateful for in our lives — like the sun, rain, friends and family – – culminating in a vision for world peace where everyone finally has enough food, shelter, community and love. Incorporating songs by Snatam Kaur, Los Lobos, the Moody Blues, the Rolling Stones, and Nat King Cole, among others, the music and commentary weave a gentle yet thought-provoking meditation on gratitude, generosity, love and compassion to inspire folks of all ages this holiday season.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Nov 23rd & 24th, 2013
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: Charity has a great song, “Loving Kindness.” She writes, “Love shouldn’t cost anything. This song emanated from the Buddhist practice of Loving Kindness (also called Metta), whereby you send wishes of health, happiness, safety and peace of mind to yourself and others.”  In this video she shows you the movements to the song so you can show your preK kids how to dance along! Download the song for free here. – www.jamjamjam.com


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Rolling Stones – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” [Let It Bleed]
  • Beatles “Dear Prudence” [White Album]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Grateful” [Family Values]
  • Snatam Kaur – “Long Time Sun” [Sacred Chants for Healing]
  • Gene Kelley – “Singing in the Rain” [Best of Gene Kelley]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Green Beans Everywhere” [Family Values]
  • Nat King Cole – “Frim Fram Sauce” [The King Cole Trio]
  • William Steig – Sylvester and the Magic Pebble [Read by Charity Kahn]
  • Moody Blues – “Lovely To See You” [On the Threshold of a Dream]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Love Is Herel” [Family Values]
  • Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now” [single]
  • Los Lobos – “Peace” [Kiko]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “We Are the Ones” [Family Values]

HFVS Thanksgiving Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

Thanksgiving Episode
with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn

This special Thanksgiving episode by Charity Kahn from Charity and the JAMband explores, through music and story, some of the many, many things we have to be grateful for in our lives — like the sun, rain, friends and family – – culminating in a vision for world peace where everyone finally has enough food, shelter, community and love. Incorporating songs by Snatam Kaur, Los Lobos, the Moody Blues, the Rolling Stones, and Nat King Cole, among others, the music and commentary weave a gentle yet thought-provoking meditation on gratitude, generosity, love and compassion to inspire folks of all ages this holiday season.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Nov 24th & 25th, 2012
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: Charity has a great song, “Loving Kindness.” She writes, “Love shouldn’t cost anything. This song emanated from the Buddhist practice of Loving Kindness (also called Metta), whereby you send wishes of health, happiness, safety and peace of mind to yourself and others.”  In this video she shows you the movements to the song so you can show your preK kids how to dance along! Download the song for free here. – www.jamjamjam.com


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Rolling Stones – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” [Let It Bleed]
  • Beatles “Dear Prudence” [White Album]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Grateful” [Family Values]
  • Snatam Kaur – “Long Time Sun” [Sacred Chants for Healing]
  • Gene Kelley – “Singing in the Rain” [Best of Gene Kelley]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Green Beans Everywhere” [Family Values]
  • Nat King Cole – “Frim Fram Sauce” [The King Cole Trio]
  • William Steig – Sylvester and the Magic Pebble [Read by Charity Kahn]
  • Moody Blues – “Lovely To See You” [On the Threshold of a Dream]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Love Is Herel” [Family Values]
  • Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now” [single]
  • Los Lobos – “Peace” [Kiko]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “We Are the Ones” [Family Values]

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