Today was my last kids’ Buddhist workshop of the Spring term. I feel so privileged to have been able to spend Wednesday afternoons with such an awesome bunch of children. Aged between 5 and 10, these children are already so skillful at meditating. And some of the discussions this term have been so profound that they’ve left me wondering who’s actually teaching who? I’m sure I’ve learnt as much from them (if not more!) than they have from me. With children like this around, the future could indeed be very bright ♥
The children also produced some beautiful artwork this term. Here’s a small selection…
Since we’re about to embark on Spring Break, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for me to do a little work on myself 😉 For the next two weeks, I’m going to unplug (no mobile, iPad, laptop, pc, internet, email, tv) and focus on studying my Buddhist texts, meditating and spending quality time with my boys.
I look forward to catching up with you in a couple of weeks when hopefully I’ll be fully refreshed and revived 🙂
Here’s a few pics that I wanted to share from this year’s Dharma for Kids Festival. We went to this festival for the first time last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided to go again. Lil’ L had been looking forward to it all year!
The festival took place at the beautiful Nagarjuna Centre in Kelmarsh, near Northampton (about a 3-hour drive from Bath).
This place has such a relaxed atmosphere. It’s got a fantastic cafe with an outdoor seating area, where M and I love to sit, chat, and drink cappuccinos while Lil’ L’s busy having fun with his friends 🙂
The theme of the festival was ‘You Before Me‘ and, over the course of the weekend, there were workshop sessions, meditations and activities arranged for the children and teenagers based on the theme of ‘kindness’.
There was a dedicated art marquee where the children could make objects that they would like to see in a ‘Kind World’.
They made marzipan tormas and mandala sets out of paper and coloured rice. Here’s the results of Lil’ L’s torma making…
There was table football, table tennis, a karaoke marquee, bouncy castles, and gladiators.
And lots of opportunities for general larking about.
On the Saturday morning, I got a surprise call from my friend Nicky to tell me that her family were ditching their original plans for the day, and were going to join us instead 🙂 They got in their car and drove for 2+ hours simply to spend the afternoon with us (what total stars they are!) Seeing them at the festival made the weekend even more special for me. I wish I’d taken a few pics but I was way too engrossed in the chat. At that point, photography was the last thing on my mind!
We paid for day passes to the festival (M, Lil’ L and I stayed overnight at the nearby Travel Plaza) and I was happy to find that the passes included all meals. The food was fantastic! All veggie of course, which saved us having to sift through the buffet 😉
On the Sunday afternoon, the children had the option of taking part in a drama session, where they enacted ‘The Giving Tree’. I’m sure my American readers will be familiar with this story, but I’d never heard it before.
Lil’ L’s only encounter with the book till that point had been through reading one of the Wimpy Kid books. Apparently the Wimpy Kid is terrified of the author on the back cover. I have to say, I know what he means! You should have seen Lil’ L’s face when he realised that it was that book!
‘The Giving Tree‘ is one of those special stories that has very few words, yet leaves a great impression on the reader. I’m sure everyone that reads the story will have their own take on what it’s all about. Seeing that I tend to read everything from a Buddhist perspective, for me, the story is first and foremost a lesson in where happiness truly comes from. I’m sure there’s also some environmental messages in there. Anyway, I’d be interested to know whether you’ve read this story yourself and what you think of it.
The children at the Buddhist festival acted out the story beautifully. Last week I thought that I’d try it with my Wednesday Workshop kids too. We first read the story using a powerpoint version I found on the Internet, then we watched an animated version from YouTube (there’s many version of the story on YouTube but I thought that this one was well suited to the kids in my groups).
We then acted it out. It was a bit manic but the kids were so enthusiastic and had a whale of a time. We decided that a more suitable title for our version would be ‘The Crazy Tree and Mad Boy’!
Since then, we’ve followed on the ‘giving’ theme in our Wednesday Workshops and, this week, after a beautiful meditation, the children made bookmarks to give to a friend or relative, and I gave each of them a cookie 🙂
It’s Giveaway Time!
Continuing with the ‘giving’ theme, I think it’s about time that I gave something away to you, my lovely blog readers. It’s been a while hasn’t it? Does anyone fancy some of my home-made raw chocolate hearts? You do? Well, I would be very happy to share some with you!
There are four ways that you can enter, and each way counts as a separate entry. So, if you enter all four ways, you’ve quadrupled your chances of winning. Happy days!
Here’s how to enter:
Leave me a comment below
Follow me on Twitter (@Goodstuffsharon) and leave a comment below to let me know
Tweet the Giveaway and leave a comment below to let me know
Follow me on Facebook and leave a comment below to let me know
The giveaway is open to everyone, regardless of where you live.
I’ll select a winner at random on Friday, 5th October.
Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a great week so far 🙂
I had lots of fun this afternoon with the kids at my ‘Wednesday Workshops’ (the little Buddhist meditation classes I teach at our local primary school). After a beautiful meditation on ‘the kindness of others’, I thought it’d be fun to watch one of my favourite Star Wars clips.
When it ended, I asked them if they’d learnt anything from watching it. Their hands shot up in the air and they started reeling off the lessons they’d learnt including…
Never give up (even if you’re finding something difficult or have already failed in your first few attempts)
Don’t get distracted
Control your mind
Believe in yourself
Size doesn’t matter
All that wisdom from watching a 5 minute clip of Yoda! Just imagine how wise they’ll be after they’ve watched all six Star Wars films 😉
After watching the clip, we had great fun making paper fortune tellers and filling them with Yoda quotes and kind messages.
Think you the relationship between Master and Padawan is only to help them?
Oh, this is what we let them believe, yes! But when the day comes that even old Yoda does not learn something from his students – then truly, he shall be a teacher no more.
WIAW – Sensible Snacking … Lil’ L Style!
This month, the lovely Jenn over at Peas and Crayons has set ‘Sensible Snacking’ as the theme for our weekly ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ foodie parties. I think this is a great theme as it’s all too easy to reach for the junk snacks when we’re feeling a bit peckish.
For me, the most important thing is making sure that Lil’ L has snacks that are going to sustain his energy levels. On weekdays, he has a morning snack at playtime and an after-school snack. I try to make sure that these snacks contain whole foods, complex carbs and minimal sugar so that his energy levels don’t peak and slump. I also want encourage him to develop healthy snacking habits for the future.
Now that he’s older, I involve him in the decision making about his choice of snacks. Here’s a run down of some of his current favourite snacks (all of which he’s eaten in the past week).
2 seeded flatbread crackers with bean pate or houmous filling (his number 1 current favourite snack)
2 wholegrain rice cakes with yeast extract (these taste like the Marmite rice cakes but they have the added bonus of being wholegrain)
2 sesame wholegrain rice cakes with St Dalfour Strawberry spread or Manuka honey filling (the honey was a gift from his grandma!)
Packet of wholegrain mini biscuits with no added sugar or salt.
Almonds and sunflower seeds roasted in a tiny amount of low-salt soy sauce (recipe here)
Apple cinnamon pancakes with chopped pecans, ground linseed and a drizzle of maple syrup.
I make pancakes every Sunday and Lil’ L likes to have the leftover pancakes on a Wednesday before his swimming lesson (warmed in the microwave).
Wholemeal choc chip or almond cookie.
We also make a fruit smoothie after school. This week, he’s made smoothies with different combinations of pineapple, blueberries , banana and strawberries, non dairy milks and yoghurt, and chia seeds for an omega-3 boost (the seeds are completely obliterated in a high speed blender, so you don’t even notice them).
We’re always on the look out for new snacks, so do let me know if you have any suggestions. If you have kids, I’d love to hear what their favourite snacks are. And equally importantly, what’s your current favourite snack?
On Saturday we had glorious weather in Bath, so I took the opportunity to get out into the garden and do some tidying up. It was so warm that we even managed to eat our lunch outside 🙂
It really does feel like Spring has arrived in Bath. The crocuses and primroses are popping up everywhere in our little garden…
along with the daffodils and cute little narcissus 🙂
One of my favourite things about Springtime is blossom. Trees look so severe in Wintertime without their leaves, but come Springtime, their bare branches are covered in the most delicately coloured, beautiful flowers that are an absolute joy to see.
One of my favourite types of blossom is found on the japonica tree.
This tree is situated outside Lil’ L’s bedroom, and it’s such a nice sight to be greeted with as I open his curtains first thing in the morning.
To reach school, we have to walk up a very steep hill. Even though I consider myself to be pretty fit, I’m totally out of breath as I reach the top! But what I focus on as I’m climbing (and huffing and puffing!) is the cherry tree that marks the end of the hill. This tree is absolutely glorious at the moment…
with the most beautiful blossom 🙂
And check out how blue the sky was on the school run today!
In last week’s Wednesday Workshop (a little primary school Buddhist class that I teach each Wednesday) we read the story of the Four Princesses and the Kingshuk Tree (a beautiful story!) and I used the example of blossom to teach the children about impermanence and the importance of living in the moment. Most of us are so busy in our lives, with our heads filled with a million and one thoughts and plans, that we risk losing sight of all the beauty that surrounds us in our natural environment. When we do live in the moment, everything becomes brighter, clearer, more beautiful.
Time to enjoy the blossom… it’ll be gone before we know it!
Has Spring arrived where you live? What’s your favourite thing about this season?
Okay, time to reveal the source of the ‘challenges and opportunities’ (known to others as ‘frustration’) that I encountered Tuesday night and Wednesday morning…
Here it is…
It looks so innocent doesn’t it? Some might even call it ‘beautiful’. Before it arrived in the post, I was even referring to it as the ‘Sexy Salsa’. Now I just call it the ‘smartypants’ phone :-/
I thought it was about time that I embraced the new technologies of the 21st century and get myself an ‘android smartphone’ (I don’t have a clue what that means!) This upgrade (£13.50 p/m) is actually cheaper than my old phone deal, so I should add it to yesterday’s ‘Big Budget Challenge’ post.
Well, it turns out that the ‘smartphone’ is way too smart for me. I didn’t have a CLUE how to use the thing. I was chuffed when I finally worked out how to turn it on after 5 minutes of fiddling… but it all went downhill from that point onwards.
The phone had automatically ‘synced’ with Facebook and my phone contacts list was then filled with the phone numbers of Facebook ‘friends’, rather than my regular friends. I pressed the first name that appeared at the top of the screen to see if I could edit it. To my horror, the phone started calling the person… Esther in Canada!!! It took me ages to work out how to end the call (because I’m so thick when it comes to new technology). THEN, I accidentally rested my finger on the phone… and it started ringing Esther in Canada again!!! aarrghhhh!
I gave up and decided to have another try in the morning.
M asked me if I’d read the manual. I checked the manual and no, it doesn’t mention how to make a phone call or send a text as it ASSUMES that everyone already knows how to do this. The manual just talks about ‘Facebook Chat’, ‘Snap, tag and share’ and other things that I have NO clue about.
I finally worked out how to send a text, but my fat fingers seem to press about 5 letters at once. A 2 sentence text took me about 5 minutes because I had to delete every other letter. I can’t wait to let my mum have a go (mind you, she can’t do worse than me lol!)
My second ‘challenge’ on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning was an attempt to move my blog to a new host. My new hosting provider has a ‘1 click install’ which is described as being so simple that even a 4 year old could do it. I’m sure a 4 year old probably could do it… but I failed miserably. It’s still not sorted, but I’m hoping that my wonderful tecchie friend ‘E’ will be my saviour on this one.
So after a rubbish Wednesday morning (which I’m happy to say wasn’t a complete waste of time as it’s been a great source of amusement for my friends), it was a relief to leave the house, the phone, the computer, and go to teach my kids’ meditation classes.
The kids were little stars as usual. Just watching them meditate filled me with such a sense of peace. Apparently, Lil’ L and some of his friends had been meditating during playtime, before I’d even arrived at school. It was a very chilled, rewarding afternoon. This carried on after school too. I sneakily took a picture of Lil’ L meditating in the garden…
And here’s a pic of another 2 of his classmates meditating Wednesday evening (emailed to me by their mum).
Don’t they look so peaceful?
And finally, here’s a beautiful picture that another one of Lil’ L’s friends drew on Wednesday afternoon.
What a beautiful way to end a crazy day!
I’d love to upload these images onto my new smartypants phone but that’s one step too advanced for me. Maybe I’ll ask a 4 year old 😉
If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.
I can’t believe that I’ve been teaching ‘Wednesday Workshops’ for a whole school year. The time has flown by! I thought that it would be a nice idea to end the term with a workshop on ‘Giving’. It was a wonderful afternoon, with the children far exceeding my expectations in terms of their understanding and reflections of the virtue of giving.
For the last meditation, the children imagined that they were wish-fulfilling jewels, giving everyone in the world something that would make them happy. We then sat in a circle and imagined that we were giving the person sitting next to us something that they would really like. I wondered if the children would pick some crazy gifts just for a laugh, but they were incredibly sensitive and, with no prompting from me, decided to give gifts such as diamonds, friendship, love and a cuddle!
For our arts and crafts, most of the children chose to make mala bracelets to give to friends/family as presents, while one of the boys chose to make ‘friendship’ badges, which he was going to give to the children in his class.
All in all, it was a wonderful end to the term and I’m incredibly proud of all the children. I awarded certificates in recognition of how well they’ve done in their meditation practice, and gave each of them gold stars and a treat 🙂
A baked treat that’s popular with these children is my dairy-free shortbread stars. One time I made 40 shortbread stars for the children and within a couple of minutes they’d all been eaten! These stars are also popular in our house as snacks and lunchbox treats for both Lil’ L and M. Here’s the recipe.