Sunday, December 30, 2012

When one door closes, another one opens

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us". Helen Keller

  Have you ever experienced a situation in which you get stuck and let your eyes wander for too long on the closed door in front of you? Or have you wasted time on it when you know that you are not the owner of the key to that locked door? 
   Turn your head, look around. You may be missing out other opportunities. Or you may be forgetting to focus your energy on the right door. If your mind is too muddled to even find that open door, take your time and relax. The light is coming from somewhere; enjoy it. Seize the best of it, dive into your dreams. Work on them with fascination. Let your intuition sparkle inside you. Follow it.  Cherish every opportunity and seek new ones, be content with every step you take.
    Life is about change, pain brings growth, and transformation happens when you allow yourself to be flexible, when you let the waters of imagination flow freely. You don't know where the next door will lead to,  and this uncertainty makes the deal even more fascinating. No matter what you are going through now,  it will pass.
   You are where you are supposed to be. Sit back and relax.
   Now focus on the open doors, the ones that will lead to new ideas, thoughts and experiences. There are no guarantees, but the truth is that life is too short to waste your time staring at a closed door...
  Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Reading to preschoolers

  "Mama, I want to finish this book before I go to school today," my three-year old daughter said to me a few days ago. Why not? Let's finish this book together!

   I started reading to her since she was a baby and now we both share the same fascination for books. Based on my own personal experience, I can say that the time spent reading together has created a special bond, a mosaic of happy memories. It is a time of connection, an opportunity to share thoughts and discussions about the world around us.
   Kids see everything with new eyes, so it is a refreshing experience to be close to them as their discoveries unfold. Books spark their imagination, bring new questions to the table and foster an everlasting love of learning. They can help to create the seeds of compassion, understanding and open minds. These are moments of laughter, giggles, and even the occasional tear.
  Today I will dedicate this post to my lovely daughter and I will share with you some of the books that we both found inspiring. (Most of these books are also for kids in kindergarten and even for the ones in the first years of elementary).
                                  Your mommy was just like you by Kelly Bennett. This book is about a grandmother telling her granddaughter about her mother when she was a little girl, and how she took care of her. My daughter was fascinated to learn that I had been a little girl too in the past, and that her granny looked after me and nurtured me just as I take care of her now. She even asked me, " And I was a big woman then?". ( I had to explain to her that she had not been born when I was a child!).

I'm Like You, You're Like Me by Cindy Gainer. This book shows familiar situations and settings all kids can relate to. Through its lovely descriptions and words kids are encouraged to be kind and respectful to others.

All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon. This masterpiece with majestic illustrations and poetical writing enchants the kids. It celebrates life by bringing people of all ages and different backgrounds together. My daughter loves its musicality and has read it several times by herself. The themes are timeless and universal.

The Curious Garden is a book about a boy, Liam, who spots some flowering plants on an old elevated  railway track while exploring the bleak city neighborhood. Liam will do whatever it takes to make that tiny garden thrive and bloom amid the gray dull city. With love and care, he will make the gardens spread throughout the city. This book is about persistence and creativity. It is about  how  motivated people can have a positive impact on the world around them.

  Did I inspire you?

I hope I did. Enjoy your time with the kids around you. Doing so is a gift to the world.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Your Christmas decorations

  Who made your cheap Christmas decorations? Thousands of kids in other countries are exploited and forced to work 19 hours per day in dingy basements to make cheap Christmas decorations. They lack food and proper care. They are slaves. They are victims of human trafficking. 
   Make sure you don't buy these goods, or you will be supporting this dirty business. Why? Because these goods cross borders and oceans and end up close to your home. Being a  responsible consumer means not buying these items. 
Here is the video that explains this situation.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The benefits of hand-writing

    If you think that in this technological era hand-writing is absurd, let me enlighten you. Studies have shown that when you hand-write more areas of your brain are activated than when you type.
    French neurophysiologist Jean-Luc Velay and Anne Mangen, an associate professor in the Reading Center at the University of Stavanger in Norway wrote a research paper published in "Advances in Haptics" on the differences between learning letters by hand-writing and doing it by using a keyboard. Based on a study done on  a group of adult volunteers, they concluded that the process was more efficient in the group who learned by hand-writing. This efficiency correlated with more activated areas of brain activity.
     Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, found that kids in grades  3, 4 and 6 who wrote their essays by hand expressed more ideas and used more words than those who used the keyboard for the same purpose. There are other studies that showed similar findings.
    Now I understand why I need to hand-write all my short stories and essays before working on the keyboard.
   Go ahead! Grab a pen, get that old note-pad from your drawer and let your thoughts run on paper. You may end up making interesting discoveries...