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Transforming Halloween from Getting to Giving and from Toxic to Green

By Naomi Aldort

 "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." – Anne Frank

When I first heard of the “trick or treat” phenomenon as an young adult newcomer to the USA, I was feeling uncomfortable to say the least. Once I had children of my own, as a family, we either left home or turned off all the lights in the front, and hid in the back bedroom not wanting to deal with this, to us, unpleasant and backwards ordeal and not wanting our children to be expose to it or eat candy.

 

Then one year it was clear that our three children were too old to hide.  I turned all lights on, and on a white board in the entrance put a sign, inviting children to come in and give and receive in a sharing of talent; act, sing, dance or do a cartwheel. I sang and played the piano, so did our older son; that was our treat, and we asked the children to share their talents. We offered no candy.

 

After reading the sign, most of the children who came that night never knocked on the door, specially those who came with adults. It was a few kids who came without adults who got excited and came in to share their acts. They sang for us and it was indeed a lot of fun for them and for us.

 

Isn’t it high time that we re-examine our children’s learning experience when they go door to door to demand and to get, or (for those who understand the wording) threaten people with a trick if not given a treat? Is blackmail the experience we want them to immerse in?

 

What is the message we are sending to our young as a culture when we endorse a custom of getting and tricking rather than giving and connecting. Even without the threat of a “trick” wouldn’t a “go give” be by far a more desirable experience and concept to implement in children as a way of celebrating? And, would we consider a kinder way to celebrate in terms of the children’s and the planet’s health? I much rather celebrate in a way that focuses on caring, giving and nurturing, both our bodies and the planet.

 

There are many cultures with holidays that include costumes yet are not about “go get” but, “go give:”  In the Jewish tradition, for example, children go dressed in costumes and bring home-made baking goods to friends and neighbors. Their costumes are home-made, and rather than being scary, commercial or violent, they aim at creativity and humor.

 

I recall as someone who came to a costume party as a garbage can. Every step he took opened and closed the top of the can that he was inside of. He won first prize and generated a lot of laughter. I remember myself, at age 12 or so, dressing as a man in a suit, with a pipe and a beard. When invited to improvise our characters in front of our school, I went on stage and imitated our principal, using the opportunity to criticize education to the sound of roaring laughter. Another boy created a costume from toilet paper rolls and a six-year old-girl used paper bags with holes, and many scarves, to be what she called an, “Octopus Ballerina.”

 

As for the “treat”; commercial candy and sugar of all kinds is extremely unhealthy and leaves the immune system so compromised that Halloween essentially initiates the colds season. (There are studies to prove how sugar dramatically depresses the immune system, including in the American Journal of Medicine, in books like Common Cold and Common sense and more). Celebrating with fruit and home made healthy deserts is more enjoyable than shopping and can be completely healthy.

 

The harm to the planet cannot be under estimated either. The production, materials, delivery and packaging of these unhealthy candy is destructive to our planet. Likewise, the production, material, storage, packing and transportation associated with costumes is just as destructive.

 

Children absorb whatever tradition we introduce them. Lets engage them in celebrating more, giving more and harming less. Old traditions must alter to fit our growing awareness and evolution. If we want children to have a livable planet, we must stop the consumption, the toxins, and the focus on getting, and, replace it with a focus on giving, connecting, and nurturing our bodies and our planet. We can start right here with our own children, by transforming Halloween from a “go get” to a “go give” and from consumerism based to creative and sustainable celebration.

 

To turn this into action, I have joined Clara Bellar in creating a petition. Please sign the petition, and/or spread the word far and wide by sharing with friends and on social media. Thank you:

HalloGreen Invitation to sign and/or share

©Copyright Naomi Aldort 2008

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By Naomi Aldort

A friend on our island put this paragraph on his Facebook page on his 83rd’s birthday.“Well here it is again. as I start my 83rd trip around the sun,I am so lucky to be here. From a bad orphanage to a worse foster home to all the things it took to get here. I have survived  5 broken bones, 2 concussions and somewhere over 100 stitches, cancer and heart surgery, and various operations from appendectomy to vasectomy.. still have some of my hair and teeth, have glasses and hearing aids...Somehow I got thru it all, and so it seems to me that God in greater wisdom forgives my humanity. Onward…" 

Why am I quoting it on a parenting page? For perspective. Witnessing someone's picture of a full life can help us see our children with more calm and trust.

 Parents often weaken their children's emotional resilience, by preventing them from hurting, and making life perfectly happy for them. This well intended approach does not prepare children for living happily, but for being needy and unfit for life’s challenges; they are more likely to become unhappy unless all goes their way. I suggest that we let children experience real life. No, not create pain for them on purpose, and not be rude to them to drill them in suffering. What I mean is to allow reasonable and safe unfavorable events to unfold while nurturing resilience, sense of humor, and seeing the larger picture with gratitude.

In other words: Stop teaching the child to escape the storm, and instead, dance with her in the rain.

 By distracting, offering compensations and jumping through hoops to make everything all good, we forget that happiness is a state of mind that can makes it possible to go through challenging times and not the other way around. Happiness is the tool by which a human being is able to go through life’s experiences with appreciation and inner strength. Instead of passing on to children the need to depend on circumstances for their joy, impart the ability to feel happy for being here, and grateful through the many colors of this amazing ride.

 Copyright Naomi Aldort

 

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 Global consumption trance and the future of the planet:

By Naomi Aldort

 

Raising kind and loving children is not enough if we leave them no livable planet. Our leaders are supported by corporations and devoted to their profit. The corporations want to keep the population dependent on cars, fossil fuel and endless products and appliances. We must stop participating in feeding this system; we must stop being consumers! We hold the power. No consumers no profit. No profit means they have to stop production. We are not victims, but creators. As parents and as people, we CAN make a difference by not feeding the greed machine; by not being their puppets.

 

As parents, we must stop turning children into consumers and start raising creators of new possibilities and stuarts of the earth. Dangling lots of goodies in front of our babies and children’s faces turns them into people who are dependent, like us, on products, ease, and instant gratification. We must raise a new generation of people who do not join this destructive path, but get off it; people who will care for this beautiful planet and become free of the global consumption trance.

 

In invite you to start with you, and with your child and family. Taking care of your child must include teaching her to respect the environment. Teach her to feed the body well while nurturing the source - the earth. Parenting in a world in transition requires a giant leap of raising your children to move away from consumerism into creating and living with more love and fewer things; more connection to the earth, and less of raping it for greed and temporary gratifications.

 

Most modern products are not necessary. I invite you to start cleaning the planet by stopping the use of of something you are ready to let go of. There are so many unnecessary things and humans existed before these inventions and did just fine. Minimize driving, avoid plastic items, shampoo, makeup, creams, after-shave, plastic bags, straws, cloth dryer, hair dryer, gadgets, toys…etc. Think of not only the production and the garbage but of the delivery tracks, packaging, production and storage buildings and their creation/maintenance.

 

We are all responsible; we are fueling the greed by shopping, gifting, wrapping, shipping, boxes, cards, gadgets… We are creating the next fire, flood, and ice melt. Did you know that using cloth dryer instead of letting the air dry your clothes is triple assault on the environment? The dryer production, delivery, packaging, parts, stores, maintenance and installation is the first huge factor. Then come the second: the insane amount of energy it takes to blow hot air for an hour or so at a time. And third: it destroys the fabrics quadrupling the amount of clothing production; one of the most polluting and toxic industry on the planet.

           

I have personally stopped buying most products. I hang my clothes (I live in a rainy area, yet even in the winter, I hang my laundry indoor and benefit from the humidity it ads to the dry air.) I take my own produce-bags (mostly of cotton or recycled) as well as grocery bags, and I buy organic and mostly local real direct food. I am developing my own garden and compost my garbage. I hardly ever buy things in containers and I minimize driving and am working with our local government on creating bike trails and more public transportation. I buy second hand clothes and, in the summer, consider a swim in the fresh lake a fantastic shower - its my spa. Cleaning chemicals are another useless line of plastic packaged toxins that ends up in our waters. I use water and vinegar. I make my own toothpaste and use different organic foods and clay for shampoo. 

 

I don’t cook either! I eat raw. This mean almost nothing to clean in the kitchen, no fire, no sticky pots and trays, no need for hot water, soap, sponge, electricity… it is a100% less use of energy in the kitchen. Not buying kitchen products and appliances can cut warming and pollution dramatically. Think of cooking stoves and appliances; their production, the production of the machines that make them, storage, packaging, delivery tracks… As I write I am realizing that eating raw can make a giant difference in curbing pollution and heat (while making us healthier). And no, you don’t have to be vegan, but that is another story.

 

The fossil fuel companies are behind building a society that is dependent on cars in the "brave" new western world, with neighborhoods far from commerce. We must create other ways of mobility (bikes, more trains), and, bring local services and commerce back into neighborhoods, so daily mobility is less of a need. 

 

We cannot fight greed as along as we feed it; we must make a difference right in our own homes and private lives, right now. The leaders are a mirror of each of us as we run our lives and participate in the destruction. 

 

I invite you not only to dramatically reduce your footprint and get out of the consumption crowd, but find other ways that include your teens and children to contribute to change. Stopping consumerism must grow fast if we are to retain life here. Bring the information to the schools; demand or offer classes on getting off the consumption rat-race. Educate other parents, children and specially teenagers who are eager and full of passion.

 

Depending on your life activities and work you can bring this commitment to the work place, create a TED talk, and spread this and other information and videos on social media. Politically, your power (in the USA mostly) is in refusing to vote for anyone who takes money from corporations (coal, fossil fuel, guns, most big Pharma productions, junk food, plastic items, toxic clothing, pesticides (Monsanto) etc,. Our rivers are filling up with toxins of medications, junk food/drink, paint, chemicals and toxins from clothing, cleaning materials, and in the production process of almost anything. Eating only organic (raw) non packaged food, not only improves yours and your children’s health, but depletes the manufacturers of the profit that keeps them going. Capitalism and consumerism cannot be saved or sustained. Its over. But if we don’t stop our consumption addiction fast, according to science, we may be too late.

 

Normally I have a view from my window. Now, as I look out at the white smoke from increase in wildfires is engulfing everything, my heart sinks. Our southern Orca is down to 74 and unhealthy. One newborn died last month, and a five year old died today, emaciated. As I think of the children. What will the children have? Its up to you.

Copyright Naomi Aldort

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This old message I have just found on facebook sums up one of the solutions to siblings' aggression with amazing clarity:

"Hi Naomi, its me,Stephanie, one of your clients! I've been applying your advice to simply remove my baby Michael when his brother Steven pushes, hits, etc. Just now Steven dumped a shovel full of sand on Michael's head, laughing, and Michael simply removed himself from the unpleasant nature phenomena, no tears, no drama! :-) Thanks!"

 

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How a child forms a “self”, or, does she/he?

 

By Naomi Aldort

Author of Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

 

If you love yourself, then whatever your child becomes will be to your taste and joy. Any rejection of your child’s nature is a rejection of your own (either parent.)

 

But how does a child become, within their nature, the specific accumulations of habits, behaviors and what we call “character?” Is the child born with some entity called “self”, or are her traits a combination of innate possibilities and mirroring of us?

 

The big riddle is: What does it mean letting the child be free, be herself, be rooted inside? What “self?” Is there such a “thing” outside of the creation through thought and habits?

 

My current observation of this endless theme is that ultimately there is no “self” other than the accumulation of thoughts comprised of the impressions of life, parents first and others and all of life over time. And that the child’s “hard drive” has innate ways of absorbing the world trends, thoughts and habits. 

 

I think about this a lot because I find myself knowing less and less. Most adults who are joyful, powerful and take life with appreciation, humor and astonishment, come from parents who fit this description (at least one of them does), REGARDLESS OF PARENTING STYLE.

 

This does not mean that we throw learning and growing out the window. On the contrary. We may want to focus even more on raising ourselves and less on what we do with the child; while, the stories about the child is our teacher because it is our mirror.

 

The child becomes your offspring whether home schooled or not, whether co-sleep, breastfed… or not. Even authoritarian or not does not make as great an impact as who you are and what your relationship with your spouse is. The child may be a reaction against you, but that too is shaped by your being. There is no way out; just like physical genetics, the psychological make up of a person is formed from the “womb” of living with parents. 20 or so years “gestation.”

 

With this confusion in mind, how do I know if my young child is being herself or mirroring me? How do I know her way of being is innate and not formed by my ways with her? After all, a baby comes into our lives with no frame of reference from which to form a way of being. Children who grew up with animals and have animal like traits see themselves as being free to be themselves. 

 

Our job ends up removing ourselves from the equation. And it tells us that the best thing we can do for a child, is: Raise ourselves and get out of the way. Animals push their offsprings away. Birds push them off the nest when ready to fly. 

 

Knowing that the child is ready to fly is complicated for some of us because we confuse the child’s attempt to fit in with our expectations - with who they are.

 

This blog is not an answer, but an opening. My child is free and this is how he is… may not be ultimately or fully true. You can be a total attachment parenting mom and dad and allow the child to find herself within but what is she finding without your thoughts? You can also do the same external parenting care and not allow the child his own self-awareness and be fooled to think the child is being free.

 

Perhaps one reason parents love taking the family intensive retreat, sessions via Skype, and attend the 3 days workshops, is that in working on themselves they regain the ability to see and to distinguish the child’s nature from the child’s fitting in with their program. 

 

However you choose to help yourself, it is crucial to your child that you wake you up to reality for his own ability to form a “self” that is sustainable. Dependency and fitting into your story is not sustainable. 

 

With love,

Naomi

 

Copyright Naomi Aldort 2018

 

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