Do not ever mistrust the super power of early childhood. Bilingual post in response to Otto Scharmer´s last post

You can check Otto Scharmer´s full article here

You can find A little Wild Fox, the Universal Laws of Free Play at Amazon or choose your favorite library here

Here are some of my takeaways from this valuable read (take them as independent single quotes):

Still, I feel strongly that the most important tectonic shift of our lifetime is yet to come. It will be more fundamental than the earlier shifts, as dramatic and life-changing as they were. It will be a profound shift of paradigm and consciousness in how we relate to each other, to Mother Nature, and to ourselves — and how we transform and rebuild our societal institutions in the face of our social and planetary emergencies.

So, depression and a sense of possibility. These are the two conflicting feelings I have as I tune in to our current moment: the déjà vu of repeated disruptions that amplify the noise of absencing, and simultaneously the acute sense of future possibility that many people feel, yet don’t know what to do with. The first feeling is well known — it’s amplified and retold millions of times every day. The second feeling is part of a more important and largely untold story of our time. It is usually crowded out by the noise of the first one. That second story is the golden thread that I will follow throughout the remainder of this blog.

We have to remember that only theories are contradiction-free. Reality is always full of contradictions.

In social science, the rules tend to be more fluid. They are determined by the state of the social field that people operate in — e.g., is it a field of creation or a field of destruction.

Leadership, in this view, is the capacity of a system to move from one type of social field (or social grammar) to another, as required by the situation or challenge at hand.

What was the force motrice? In each of these stories, I believe, we see the same force or mechanism. These changes were driven by a constellation of civic movements — peace movements, liberation movements, abolition movements, civil rights movements, women’s movements, and human development movements — that inspired others to join the cause. All of these movements were started by small groups of committed citizens who in one way or another created a support structure for themselves and others that allowed them to cultivate an intentional social field

 Eventually, these movements helped societies to reimagine and reshape themselves for the better.

 In other words, these movements operated from a felt connection to a different field of real possibility, the field of presencing a future that hasn’t manifested yet

The shift to activism happened when they experienced a personal connection to the cause through family or a close friend. In other words: it happened when they had an experience that touched (and opened) their heart.

NOT SEEING the collective impact that their actions have on the planet (denial); NOT FEELING the impact despite seeing the data clearly in front of them (de-sensing); and NOT ACTING, despite knowing the facts and already feeling the impact (collective apathy).

The feedback of the simulation illuminates the players’ blind spots. Yet their behavior remains largely unchanged until the results become experiential or personal. Crossing the threshold from apathy to action requires letting go of the stakeholders’ ego-system awareness and developing a shared ecosystem awareness of the whole. Once that is in place, it leads to swift, decisive action.

form follows consciousness.” Attention matters

 It’s not “I think, therefore I am.” But rather “I pay attention [this way], therefore it emerges [that way].”

You can turn away from it, or you can turn toward it. That choice, that subtle inner gesture, activates either the field of absencing or the field of presencing. Absencing is a freezing of the mind, heart, and will. Presencing is an opening of the mind, heart, and will, when you are facing disruption 

 What we need to bring about profoundly new civilizational forms is a pull from the future, not a push from the past

Starting small. By “starting small,” I mean starting in small circles and communities, both place-based and digitally linked, that are aligned around a shared awareness of the situation and a common intention for the future — a future that is different from the past.

 Bridging the ecological , social and spiritual. the integration of the ecological, social, and spiritual aspects of transformation is a widely shared intuition, particularly among young people.

Weaving the Movement. So where will the transformative change that this decade and this century is calling for come from? From a movement, that emerges, works, and collaborates “from everywhere” (as the environmentalist and entrepreneur Paul Hawken put it recently).

It will be a movement that is inspired by the intuition that the ecological, social, and spiritual divides are not three problems; they are just three expressions of one and the same problem: the lack of a shared social field and grammar that all of us can access and operate from.

 *Shifting Consciousness* While the second half of the 20th century was shaped by a conflict between two opposing socio-economic systems and their corresponding ideologies — capitalism and socialism — in the 21st century we see a different type of polarity. The fault line no longer runs between two opposing social systems. Today the fault line runs through the consciousness of each one of us. The most important fault line in 21st-century politics is the fault line between self and system.

Activating the Real Superpower. If we have learned anything from our responses to disruptive challenges like the COVID pandemic, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, it may be this: the real superpower of our time is not the one that sits in Washington; it’s also not the one that sits in Beijing; and it’s certainly not the one that is sitting in the Kremlin. The real superpower of our time is Collective Action that emerges from Shared Awareness of the whole (CASA). Casa in Latin languages means house or home. We need to cultivate our capacity for CASA-type collective action in order to protect and regenerate our house and home: our land, our community, and our planetary eco-social-cultural ecosystems.

I have not tried to paint an optimistic view here. I don’t think that’s what’s needed today. No one needs an upbeat sugarcoating of something that is moving toward disaster. What’s needed today is a radical realism — one that can embrace the realities of both presencing and absencing. Radical realism aims at connecting to reality at the current and root levels: at the level of what is, and at the level of what wants to emerge. Radical realism says what most people already know: the journey forward is not going to be easy. Many more disruptions coming our way. But what matters most is that the future does not depend on these external disruptions. Instead, it depends on the inner place from that we operate when we respond.

But the main point is to not see the manifestation of absencing (or evil) as an enemy. Instead, we need to understand every act of absencing as creative energy gone wrong — creative energy that failed and that therefore went the other way, onto the path of destruction. All destruction and acts of absencing are manifestations of energy that was unable to realize its creative potential. To engage and transform that energy, we need to first find that place within ourselves.

Where are you an activist in building containers that foster architectures of connection (rather than those of separation); where are you creating and co-holding these learning infrastructures for yourself, for your team, and for the initiatives you participate in?

The future does not just depend on what other people do. The future on this planet depends on each and all of us and our capacity to realign attention and intention on the level of the whole.

[pst! ⏳ sensitive] A little wild fox, the universal laws of free play

Remember 10 years ago when I used to write about my parenting experience and was willing to start facilitating free play groups for early childhood? Well, I’ve done it. 100%. And I’ve been loving it all the way long. It’s been fun, revealing, inspiring and messy. Above all, it’s been healing. And wild.

Slowly I started taking notes and writing down my thoughts on free play here and there in uncountable paper sheets and random notepads spread all over the place. Then 2020 came and the whole flow collected its power, shaping itself into a book: A Little Wild Fox, the Universal Laws of Free Play.

And I’m eager to share with you, my loyal English readers, a special gift to celebrate. I’m offering a massive discount on regular price, only until Sunday 13 at only $0.99

Grab your gift right now and let me know responding to this email to access a few extra bonuses including a free play guided visualization to reconnect your own play intelligence into daily life.

What is this book about?

In a sequence of postcards as simple as poetic, A little wild fox explores, almost from the activation of personal memory, why early childhood is a crucial stage that deserves deep attention and care. María Raiti portrays in its pages some of the wonders that happen in a free play encounter, from the moment the space is swept and cleaned before opening the door to time when the families leave and the air remains filled with a deep and vital calm.

Using the metaphor of the different foxes of the world, its lines guide us to that early age in which the human baby, thanks to its playfulness, lays solid foundations for the future unfolding of its potential.

The author collects anecdotes from everyday experience through which she details the multiple biological principles of free play and reveals its universal laws. She shows us how to create ideal habitats in which free play can thrive, how to identify its main predators and how to sustain an ethical perspective to prevent its extinction.

It offers an accessible and enjoyable reading experience for families while providing cutting-edge information for educators, therapists and anyone interested in fostering full human development from the very beginning of life.

Be my crying man. Why women can change the world by giving the men they love and care for a safe space to cry

My husband and I are going through covid right now which makes us a lot more difficult to hold the normally already challenging equilibrium between caring for and dealing with our three teens. Yesterday evening my husband got really upset and argued with one of them (16).

Later I went to my kid’s room to check out how he was doing. I didn’t want him to end the day feeling miserable and alone.

“I know this all sucks and it must be difficult for you to have both your parents feeling so cranky and being so demanding on you and your brothers. I’m sorry you had an argument with dad.”, I said.

He looked at me, overflowed eyes, and almost desperate said: “Mom that’s right on the spot and thank you for caring but please get out right now, don’t see me cry. Get out! Get out!”

It shocked me. We’ve raised them being so open about emotions, so eager to validate them, so non judgemental about crying and still there he was, my adored young man, feeling endangered and encrypted in his need to shed some very well earned tears.

We are experiencing a very rare collective transformation. Many say we’re giving birth to an integral consciousness. It’s evolutionary, it’s universal and it follows the bonding pattern of love, integrating and transcending parts into a wider whole. To manage this we need a very specific skill set in all our lines of development. Up to here, K. Wilber guided me. From here onwards…

In my understanding women are in a key position right now. Why is it everybody seems to be saying, “the change we need to see in the world is upon women’s shoulders”? Even the Dalai Lama says that the world will be saved by women.

I think this is because we women, at least western women but probably it applies globally too, have been raised in cultures that carefully trained us through family settings and educational systems to be caring, collaborative, forgiving and loving and, at the same time, we were highly discouraged to take roles or attitudes regarding leading positions since early childhood.

While little boys were similarly intensely trained to be individualistic, control masters, competitive, fast and tough (please note I don’t say men are this and women that way or the other. I’m saying we were trained that way conscious or unconsciously, there’s lots of scientific evidence here: girl is praised and rewarded for being caring, boy for outstanding his peers. A strong willed girl is identified as bossy and the boy as holding leadership skills. Such strong stereotypes on both sides).

Now it turns out we’re birthing a new consciousness because survival depends upon it and this integral consciousness requires above all the skill to cope with collective uncertainty. For this we have to connect with each other in unknown ways in order to be able to reach massive creativity and resilience levels capable of turning the increasingly perplexing major challenges into fertile fields for a bright future. This requires cooperation, ambiguity tolerance and team work.

Guess who’s standing better on her two feet to surf the gigantic wave? You’re right. Women.

It’s on our side. Which doesn’t mean that we’re better or anything in the like. It just means we were handed (and neuro-crafted) with the essential tools to adequately respond to the actual state of affairs. We were trained to be vulnerable, we were told we cry, we were shown in how many ways we’re the soft gender. Whether we accredited or fought against the mandate, it was there. That’s why our men count on us now. They need us to open dialogues around “how the hell you stay physiologically regulated when you are crying”. Gosh if there were a University teaching this I could lecture on the subject for hours. I hold a master in crying.

We’ve practiced a lot as girls. Many of us still do. I mean if I don’t cry in a full lunar month I start worrying. That’s how we learned to be able to cry and feel safe at the same time. We know how to stay connected inwards and with our surroundings not only while crying but by it.

Boys were not given the chance. They had to push their precious natural gift of vulnerability deep deep down out of their own reach. Now is the time for men to take their deepest breath, dive till the ground bottom and recover their tears trapped in a seashell. They’ll discover they’ve turned into pearls. And we women will know it because we’ll be there as their midwives. It’s on our shoulders but not in the heavy sense of bearing the weight. It’s offering ourselves just to listen and connect instead of fixing, a paused hand to caress his heavy head, a calm chest for his unsettled heart.

Come men of our world, come no matter your age, let’s cry together.
And then laugh together.
And then be silent all on our own.
And don’t worry.
Claim your tearful heritage of vulnerability. ‘Cause you still will be allowed to enjoy the competition, but knowing your belonging and worthiness are not cast by the results. Come, cry, experience the difference between game and free play maybe for the first time. And enjoy both; it’s integrating and transcending, remember.
Above all, come. Let your cascading river be with us. Come and understand. Get it first hand. Your tears are safe on this side of your eyes. Crying does not define who you are. You won’t lose your sense of self ever again.
You belong to us and we need you whole.
You are worth and lovable, no matter what.
You may ask me, “ok, I cry, then what?”
Cause you and I know this is not the end of the line, of course it’s not. But this might be the drop that fills the Holy Grail, the first step guiding you right to the entrance where your Self abides.
For now, I’ll wait and be sad.
‘Cause I couldn’t listen to my child’s cry, I couldn’t hold, my hand fell empty, my shoulder light. My child wouldn’t… But I trust him, he’ll find a path. May my writing be an open portal for my young man to be safe. Be safe my baby and please oh please and please come and cry.

The women revolution is the journey from I to We

Yesterday I measured my IQ online. I scored 124. Above average. Not bad, whispers my complacent side. But my competitive side insists I should take the test again. Even more, I should find a better test and avoid answering the questions while trying to warm up lying in bed under a thick layer of covers (damn it was cold yesterday!). I want to score above 130. As Mark Zuckerberg, or Steve Jobs, Elon Mask and another guy whom I don’t know but the post I read says is one of the five richest men in the world. Also as the new guy in the innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem whatsapp group which I’m part of.

Right then Jorge lands in my mind. His image emerges directly from my heart.

He was my favourite homeless person ever. I simply loved him. He was all cracked down, sometimes we couldn’t get him back conscious to give him food; so drunk he was. Once the police had to help us because he fell in such a state on the street. His smell was so intense it cut my breath. But some days he was really there, all his spirit in his shining eyes diving deep into mine. He would thank the three portions of pizza we handed over to him in the most sincere and loving way. Time and smell seemed to collapse at that point.

On a rainy Sunday morning —bad thing for finding our homeless friends, I thought— we couldn’t spot Felipe and the other Jorge, nor Dario or Olga. A few other corners were also empty of our habitual “clients”. Disappointed, we were returning home with 11 pizzas untouched when we saw Jorge in the park in front of Dorrego Highschool. He was simply standing there, under the rain. As we hurriedly approached him, I could sense his field of energy inviting me to slow down. It was pure, safe, simple energy. Time and touch disappeared. Drops impacted on his skin as they do on earth, on the leaves of a tree, on the thick furry skin of a deer. They splashed softly on him and simply joined other drops in the flowing way down to mother earth from his cheek, his wide forehead, his eyelashes, and earlobes. We handed over to him the pizza and it felt as if we were in a slow motion movie and stood there, under the rain, joining his energy for I don’t know how long. It felt eternal but I guess it was a short time because we were barely wet when we entered the car again, engine off yet. No hurry, no success, just rain. Like we were under a spell.

–Did you feel him?
–Yes, he was Nature.
—We all were.

Once this profound-heart-emerging remembrance is over, my mind proposes I should take the IQ test again. She is pretty stubborn (my mind is a she, no doubt). But apparently, the memory of Jorge being Nature has left my heart gates inadvertently wide open. An atlantic flow of faces, stories and names rises into my mind as a swarm of rain drops traveling upwards in wavy rivers of consciousness. They continuously join and disintegrate into a unique divine parade.

Cheerleading the line comes my student and friend Alba Acosta, an argentinean primary school teacher investing her salary in further professional training not only to serve her underprivileged students best but also to be able to back up her integral teaching strategies in front of her more than traditional school director. She is determined to love her students, no matter how much bureaucracy pushes her back into filling standardized planification forms.

Behind her comes Roberto Román, the 84 years old man who used to sit on a folding metal bench outside a school to give the children little origami boats folded by him with recycled magazine paper, medical carton boxes and random flyers. The kids returned his kindness with shouts of joy and tiny hugs.

Across the street a mother entered the library in search of the children’s book Mil Grullas, by Elsa Bornemann. It includes a story of the traditional japanese legend through the innocent and brief friendship of two teens in Hiroshima after world war two. The day after Toshiro finishes folding thousand cranes with his own hands to save his friend from leukemia, Naomi dies. Thirty three years later Toshiro has moved to London and works as a bank manager. He´d be a silent and taciturn man who always keeps a folded crane on his desk. He’d frequently stare through the window towards the hospital right next to his office…

Right there, Princess Diana was photographed shaking hands with a patient suffering from AIDS without gloves. It was 1987 and that single pic travelled the world reframing the whole conversation about AIDS. That single and courageous act debunked the myth that the virus could be transmitted by touch.

“None of us is so unique as to be exempt from the human condition.”, would write around that year Dr. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross in her book AIDS, The Ultimate Challenge. This human condition includes, of course, our consciousness of death. She herself was extraordinarily ready for our common final date. “When I die I’m going to dance first in all the galaxies…I’m gonna play and dance and sing.”, she said and I’m sure she certainly did when she passed in 2004.

Before and after this somewhat arbitrary drizzle of my own memories, oblivious of most modern world concerns, Elena Bruna Tito Tito wanders daily the Atacama desert in search of clay to create utilitary and figurative shapes following the ancestral tradition of her people. Her humble hut made of stone and her eyes made of light welcome me to the gates of my own heart. She is one of the Human Living Treasures of her land. Her hands moulding clay fuse into the redness of the earth. I see her being Nature. Just as Jorge was. But on the opposite side of the tunnel.

The rising rain filling my mind´s bowl with erratic memories of the cosmic interconnected cobweb of life finally overflows, drifting calmly back into the spring of my heart and in the silence of wonder the sense of I-ness softly expands integrating the little I as part of a larger Self.

Here is where Aristotle’s statement that “a feast to which many contribute is better than a dinner provided out of a single purse” gains for me a new layer of understanding, completely crafted out of practical knowledge. My feast is contributed by the confluence of divine nourishment provided by the many, real and fictional, meeting in my little sparkling point of consciousness across oceans of time. Apparently this fusion into a larger dimension of being is a very womanish thing to do, which is quite a clever feat, research says.

That’s when the IQ testing regains track in my train of thought. Here’s the thing. I’m part of a whatsapp group of sustainable entrepreneurs oriented towards innovation in business. Last week someone shared a La Nación note stating that women’s revolution is the new French Revolution, depicting the last as that highlight of human history where values of the western world were conquered. The last paragraph of the article reads: “Like an inexhaustible magma, the French Revolution continues to transform our minds and hearts, pushing the limits that have been placed in the way of its constitutive desire for freedom, equality and fraternity for more than 200 years. What was developed in the 18th century, laborious and overwhelming, is still a source of inspiration for life on earth to be better.”

I couldn’t disagree more. But as a result of being raised as a standard medium class well mannered girl —good to be seen and not heard—, I’m not at all good at disagreeing. But I think I’m ready to go for it now that I turned 48. Or at least give it a try. So I posted a short answer opening ideas for dialogue.

“Hi everyone. I think there’s an important confusion about French Revolution being the source of inspiration for women’s role in the big shift needed for society today” , I wrote. “Its values were rational, western white male oriented. The powerful cultural and social innovation that can emerge from recognizing and integrating women into decision-making fields does not come from the past, but from the future. The emerging women’s revolution should not look for raw material in the old paradigm quarry, but rather lean on it for a moment, as if it were a stepping stone, to make the leap.”

It felt vulnerable. And brave.

What happened next was awkward. To me, at least. Out of 65 really brilliant and successful people, two men respectfully questioned me to further understand my point and finally one valued my views and the other answered typing specific words such as FREEDOM and VALUES in capital letters reaffirming his own perspective (he was backed up by the group administrator who at that point introduced him and his notable work to all of us). One woman wrote she agreed with me and one woman said I was defenestrating others thus indulging into what I pretended to avoid. A third lady jumped in saying we must wake up once and for all and realize our divine Self. Right then a new male member was added to the group and the administrator presented him as an admirable person (he’s a member of a society of high IQ people and a tedx organizer amongst other outstanding feats). The guy seems to be really nice. But I was furious.

Couldn’t we move forward from approval or denial modes? Couldn’t we feel our deep systemic interconnectedness beyond fraternal individual freedom? Couldn’t we stop praising individuals and begin valuing ourselves by the we field quality? That’s not what I wanted. Why did I start this in a disagreeing tone?, I murmured to myself. Why did the large number of women in the group keep silent? It felt like a boasting show of a few individuals, including myself, unable to really feel each other and provide for the best outcome in a truly generative dialogue. Such poor collective intelligence results.

Woolley et al.’s identified three factors as significant correlates regarding collective intelligence: the variance in the number of speaking turns, group members’ average social sensitivity and the proportion of females. Wolley agreed in an interview with the Harvard Business Review that these findings are saying that groups of women are smarter than groups of men.

However, I’m certain the women revolution won’t happen if we either keep being silent, terrified of being heard and struggling to ignore rather than validate our inner voice, or we polarize into expressing our political ideas into flammable and violent feminist asserts. No one wants a feast where the multitudes throw emotional molotov bombs at the table as their input to the dialogue. The we-field rather needs us to enter into a sangha of mutual trust and deep vulnerable availability for each other in order to be able to cross the border of rational intolerance.

I feel we’re just a step away from reaching it, we’ve always been, as individuals, walking along this shore for ages. Now and then a human luminary softly turned inward and facing the frontier took that single step and crossed the matrix. Rephrasing Rumi’s quote: Beyond the individual ideas of good and bad there’s a we field, evolution will meet us there.

Now is when Jorge and Elena being Nature reappear in my mind’s screen. The myth of individuality naturally drops out when we recognize that we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors and masters. But also when we realize that our lives are deeply interwoven in a relational field of vitality, trauma and healing. This is where the journey from I to we begins and ends at the same time, in a detached step across the border. Come, let’s do this together.

By the way, I just took the IQ test again. Happily, I couldn’t access the results.

Oh freedom over me. The reason I´m so United Statesian

As Argentinian I am as geographically American as any other person born in this huge and precious continent. However, we all know the States somehow politically borrowed the demonym for itself. In Spanish we would call them “United Statesians”. So I wonder why I feel so American in the English sense of the term.

I mean, I feel so identified with the people, the culture, the values, the language, the research bodies, the speakers. I sing in English more than I do in my own language, I read in English more than I do in Spanish… Oh, come on! Don’t come to me with the anti cultural colonization speeches! America is a great country and has gifted the world with awesome, awesome people. American folk women singers touch my soul as no one else can. I listen to Brené Brown´s audiobooks while driving. I follow Marie Forleo in my multi passionate entrepreneurial adventures as if I were her own shadow. I study philosophy, take dance classes and business coaching with Americans. Ken Wilber has offered a framework for my entire career unfoldment and yes, I could listen to James Taylor to infinity and beyond.

I guess what drives my attention so much so is the sense of freedom Americans vibe in. Not in an international political sense —which is so much debatable—. I mean it just on a very personal level. To me Americans move like elephants in the jungle: they open paths for me to follow. As much proud as I am of my own national roots I would be a fool to deny it. I guess my admiration arises from the fact that I´m an intellectual and Americans ignite and nurture my hunger for thought freedom. 

I love the sense of freedom the States citizens offer to the world almost as much as I love India´s.

Speaking of which…

Last Tuesday was India’s independence day. And I came across this excerpt from a discourse given by Sri Madhusudan Sai a few years ago during a visit in the States. 

“America is like a giant elephant, very powerful, very capable. It is colossal and, by virtue of its sheer size and strength, it can do a lot –but, if the elephant goes mad, it can be very dangerous; the same elephant that can be productive can become damaging, if it goes mad. The elephant’s mind is the American mind; if the American mind does not change, America can be extremely destructive –but, it can change if people start changing. People will start changing if they have the right leadership, the right education, the right associations. That will all come in time –but, what is important is that it has to begin here, with you. A huge elephant can be controlled with a small stick –the stick of selflessness and devotion is the only refuge for the people of America and of the world.

In times to come, America will go through some ups and downs. If there is an old house and you want to build a new one, it is better to demolish it and rebuild it, then you can build it to be strong and it will last forever. Sometimes a little pain is good to allow greater growth; sometimes, a little demolition is good in order to build a new –one has to look at it in that way. Changes are going to happen and those who fit into the new age, the new change, will continue as they are. For others, there is no way other than by transforming themselves. America is not land, buildings and natural resources, but the people. The people of America must undergo transformation.

With passing seasons, some plants have to go and new plants appear. Similarly, America will undergo a major change at every level: social, political, economic and even spiritual. It is going to undergo many changes. It must be ready to embrace the changes and take them in a positive way for the betterment of the country, as well as of the world. As time progresses, you will see that spirituality will come back into society again; people will look towards God for solutions to all the problems in their lives. A major change will come. The last hundred years have brought a major shift in the way humanity thinks and that thought-process was led by America. However, the next hundred years will bring a very different way of looking at the world, and that thought-process will be led by India.

As I said, a huge elephant can be controlled by a stick in the hand of a small man. India, with its stick of devotion, will be able to teach the elephant America how to behave itself (Laughter) –and it is coming. This is not going to happen in the next week, next month or next year; it is something that will happen over the coming century”.

Sri Madhusudan Sai. June 20, 2016- California, USA.

This little man with the stick in the hand reminds me of Gandhi, who after liberating an entire country from the mightiest colonizers ever, when asked to summarize his endeavour he humbly said: 

“I’m a simple man in search of God”.

Mahatma Gandhi
pic by Thomas Kinto

This is how India’s stick is non-violent. The stick is not for cunning the elephant. 

The stick is to walk all the way to the Indic Ocean shore followed by hundreds of thousands and extract salt from the sea. 

The stick is to hand-spin your own cotton and weave your minimal livelihood requirements with it. Yes, it is also a stick to stop the western out of control elephantic myth of ever increasing economic growth at the self-suicidal rate of spending 1.5 of the entire world’s resources. A few loincloths would make it for Gandhiji´s entire wardrobe. That´s more than enough when your steps on this Earth are oriented towards the realization of the Self.

Here’s where both ends of freedom meet to me. America has taught the world how to think free. Now it is India’s turn to inspire the world to be free of thought. As a crew member of spaceship Earth I rightfully claim my heritage of both.  No, I won´t claim God is on our side. I humbly pray we´re on His.

pic by Laura Fuhrman

In defense of the comfort zone. A decade debunking my most frightening myth

The day I saw Janet Lansbury had featured my little blog hut in her magnanimous web site I stopped writing.

I stopped all together, for ten years.

Not because I admire her all way to heaven and back (which I so much do).

Not because her awesome audience would discover me, by millions.

And not because I could succeed. Quite the opposite.

Being successful, valued by a large community or recognized by one of my all-times-most-super-hero-woman feels just too fine. So I stopped writing to keep myself out of that: my comfortable zone. We´re trained to stay uncomfortable.

Out of the desire to stimulate us, we are forced to sit when we are ready to roll on our backs, forced to walk when we were ready to crawl. Forced to run when we were ready to happily stumble around.

Yes. Run baby. Run.

Run to win the competition for the last swing in the park. Run for breakfast and the school bus, run for academics. Run for friends, run for sex. Run for diplomas and MBA´s. Run for work and breastfeeding babies at the same time. Run for success, baby. Run. Don´t feel cozy. You´ll be dangerously late. Feeling comfortably slow will leave you behind.

We are early-educated to mistrust our feeling comfortable. We are trained into absenting ourselves from our own inner rhythm, our natural sense of presencing. We are tamed to believe uncomfortable is not just fine, it´s a must. Even our most devoted well-wishers serve this absenting mechanism in total obliviousness:

“Come on, forget your Self and the intoxicating sweetness of your fragrant chest. Forget the tender rate bit of your comforted heart. Get out your comfort zone”.

Do not mistake comfort by stagnant. The first offers true satisfaction and ignites humans to shine (litterally, billions of neurons are born bright when feeling in comfortable plenitude). But we have been stagnant-running after the mirage of success and competition, killing our own inner light (true: under stress neuronal connections starve and die). Stagnant is the cause for consumerism and it´s smoke promises: “Run to happiness”, it whispers, “run for the next partner, the next achievement, the next pay rise”. Stagnant takes us to repeat ourselves in such a high speed we don´t even realize we´re spinning like a top. In the same spot. Uncomfortable. Our entire lives.

Shouting from the top roof of this tiny mustard-baobab-seed-blog-hut I say:

“Innocent and devoted well-wishers, enough is enough. I won´t run. I won´t go out of my comfort zone and won´t misguide no kit or adult through that path. I´ve decided to become unstoppable in being brilliantly comfortable in all my might”.

Fallen on my knees, I´ll become a new seed. A mustard one. Or let it better be a baobab. Ready to finally feel comfortable and shine.

Little bird on your nest… in my bed I rest. A bed time poem for little ears.

pajarito en tu nido

Little bird in your nest, in my bed I rest. The moon shines so sweet, without making a cheep.

This is a draft of a new project I am dreaming of: creating little poems and illustrations to share with infants and young children before going to bed. Hope you enjoy it`s simple outline and sweetness .

The effusive kiss. Misbehavior files. Case 2.

this picture belongs to our family album and is used only as an illustration.

This picture belongs to our family album and it is used as an illustration. It does not represent the real children mentioned in this research.

Warning: You are about to depart into an incredible flight. This is a longread post, much worth every word of it. Get yourself a coffee, turn off your phone and be ready to enjoy one of the most healing love stories ever. It is 100% real, I only changed the children’s names.

The effusive kiss. Alice, 2 years 9 months. Pete, 2 years 11 months.

Hypothesis: when a young child attending a play group is seen and accepted for what she is, and not for what she is missing, her self-confidence is meaningfully fostered and a proper field is opened in the group for shared love and compassion.

Alice has come to play for 8 months. She is a big sized girl, usually wearing colorful cloths. Her big black curls frame her enormous black eyes and her beautiful chubby cheeks face.
It took her around 5 months to be ready to stay within the play area and move around leaving her mother´s lap. Before that she only played here and then with the toys that were near her hand reach. At snack time she would gently move her mother´s hand as an extension of her arm to make her grab a cookie and feed her into the mouth. She would also use her mother´s arm as a tool to reach and interact with toys.
No eye contact, no words, no further interactions.
I thought socialization might be an intimidating challenge for Alice in a particularly active, talkative, enthusiastic two years old play group, whose leader is Pete. He is the little one the rest admires and fears at the same time but I will tell you more about him later. Back to Alice now.
I asked her mother whether at home she played in the same way as in the play group. Her answer made me a bit concerned:
– No, she enjoys here. At home she is even more still.

Then I talked to the mother.

She told me when Alice was 14 months she had asked the pediatrician whether her child had Autism. He said: “I don’t think so, give her time”. I felt relieved. Giving time is my favorite choice. It includes accepting the child as she is, sending an acknowledgement message to her which I firmly believe will nurture her best potential.
But what if that time was over and she really needed some early diagnose now? I made a few suggestions as to “stop doing for her” the things she can do for herself (mainly feeding and playing) and fostering a new vision of her child: as a capable, trustworthy little human unfolding her own self at her own time.
Simultaneously a professional started diagnosing Alice, saw her for about two months once a week and then offered parents some guidelines that really helped.
In the meanwhile I tended to approach her differently than how I did with the rest of the children (regarding free play, autonomy and social interactions). I felt tempted to “help her out” a little, little bit (that is what I said trying to convince myself).  She has the sweetest way of getting you to do what she wants but I knew this was not the best for her. So I had a big challenge to face.

One day she wanted to grab a toy beyond her reach. So she pulled her mother´s arm wanting her to grab it for her.
I said:
“No, mom is not grabbing that for you. If you want it, you can grab it yourself”.

She got distressed. She went to the ground but not in the normal tantrum way (facing earth with body and face). She did it as a little baby would do when placed down by a parent, on her back. She started mourning. It was a deep and at the same time suffocated mourning.

Heartbreaking. My mouth and lips got dry. Other parents got restless; the mother was clearly trusting me but suffering within.

I approached Alice and broadcasted her situation with a blind confidence in what I have learnt. I wanted to console her, to soothe her, to do for her, to solve her struggle with all my heart. But this time I just described what was going on: “you want mommy to grab a toy for you, I said she wouldn´t, you did not like that, you are laying down mourning, I can understand you, I am here for you to cry all you need to”.
The mother looked puzzled and sad. We all were. Time run out and they left leaving a bitter taste in the air.
That week I would think very often of what happened and I convinced myself I did the right thing repeating a mantra within: trust her… trust her… trust her.

Thereafter Alice started getting into the play field with autonomy and she demonstrated that even when not talking nor looking into the eyes of her playmates, she was 100% into the group interactions.
Week 1:
Someone asking for a drum stick? She would pick it up and approach it to the requesting child. (Mom still inside the play area).

Week 2:
Someone running about with a just grabbed toy looking back and searching for a follower? She would get into the running circle and run, run, run. (Mom sitting with other parents and only exceptionally needed back from then onwards).

Week 3:
Someone playing with a different set of socket toy? She would slide her toy next to a boy´s hand and grab his puzzle to give a try to new combinations of sizes and shapes. She clearly enjoys sitting and indirectly exchanging with this particular child: Pete. He is the most talkative, risk-taking, active, expressive and puzzle solver genius in the group.

Then two weeks ago Alice´s father came along (mother too). He had the day free. Alice looked particularly happy about this.

After the “running circle marathon game” this group had created and enjoyed for many weeks, Pete approached Alice form one side and grabbed her firmly from the neck. His mother stood up and called out his name loudly wanting to stop him. It was not the first time that Pete expressed his inner impulses in a strong physical contact with a playmate and his mother worries about that.

I stopped her as fast and best as I could. Alice was not afraid. Pete was not in a rage. Something different was going on. This interaction was gold for me.

Pete was still holding Alice from the neck with his left hand. Now he embraced her with his right arm and pulling her face towards his mouth he sink his lips into her chubby left cheek and KISSED her. Just like that, a capital kiss.

Everyone got still.

Alice remained processing the experience for a few seconds. Still facing front (without turning face to face towards him), she bend her chest and lowered her left shoulder towards his face, reaching his lips with her cheek. And he kissed her, kissed her and kissed her one more time.

Grownups breathed relieved, the other children resumed their play, Alice mother´s was holding a giant smile in her face and her father was experiencing in an early stage what most fathers have to wait until their kids are 15… Another boy loved his girl as much as he did.

What a debut to enter socialization! This was the first time (in her life?) Alice offered her own body to get in touch with another child in a direct way, having a clear intention and expecting an interaction. No intermediary. No third-party adult to do for her.

From then on, she has a first sketch to construct her own path into life.

How is Alice doing?

Are there words? Only murmurings… for now.

Is there eye contact? Very little, very short… for now.
But I don’t worry a bit about that. I have other intrigues.

My main question is: what made Alice available to dare entering into socialization?

There is not a single answer for that, for sure.

I know. Anyhow, which where the main influencing factors?

Was it time and trust?
Was it parents asking for professional help?
Was it Alice meeting frustration in a respectful and caring environment, that day that I remained really firm for the (probably) first time?
Was it Pete?
And what, what, what made Pete do what he did?

Was it love?

Everything infants and toddlers do meets a developmental need. That is why we set a safe environment for free movement and play, we do not over-stimulate nor interrupt free play and we do our best to acknowledge feelings and struggles with respect.
If everything a little child does is a reflection, reaction and resound of his inner map towards unfolding humanness, then what if being humane, compassionate and loving IS a human developmental need?

What if in a free educational environment not only physical, emotional and mental unfolding is manifested? Could we infer that a spiritual unfolding need pushed Pete to interact with Alice as he did?
If Pete´s mothers would have succeeded in stopping him grabbing Alice from the neck we would have probably not known. And the mother would have admonished him for “misbehaving”, Pete´s natural spiritual impulse would have probably been interrupted.

But this is not what happened. He was given time and chance to manifest his inner urge.
So for now my answer is YES. Spirituality is a human developmental need.
And I only can prove that by empirical observation and experience.
What would happen if we realize spirituality is the missing key to revolutionize education?

More of that in a future post.

Returning misbehavior: welcome back, Martin. Misbehavior Files Case 1

Misbehavior files series. Case 1.

papa retando hablando mirada a hijito

Hypothesis: parental over control may inhibit a young child´s hability to accept firm calm limits and learn new social skills. When the over control is turned into trust children may gain a sense of self-control.

Martin, 2 years and 7 months is a sensitive, creative, intelligent and very communicative child. After a few months coming to the play group he got irascible. Even when his emotions were validated and he was offered a respectful and firm limit, he was very upset most of the play time and he tended to insult verbally, to hit and pull from the hair. In the last month his father, Gabriel, decided to come himself (instead of the mother) to be with him during the play group and he constantly looked at his child as if his eyes were an effective way to have Martin´s behavior “under control”.

Martin has been able to “behave” ever since. But eventually his inner impulsive urges would manifest. Being very conscious he was “doing the wrong thing”, he would immediately turn round and look for his father´s eyes with a worried, tense face.

I felt quite uncomfortable about this. I wondered…

Was his father´s presence  a positive support for Martin? Doing so, would his father help him know that he loves him, that he will accompany him while growing, showing him the correct path to go? Would Martin “internalize” his father and find him to be his inner guide while growing up?

Or was he overexposed and misunderstood, considered as rude and bad-mannered and admonished for what he said and did, when what he actually needed was a basic trust on who he is and what he is struggling with?

And in the end, who was I to judge? Should I try to help? Or should I just accept, honor and respect?…

I talked to the father two weeks ago. I told him what I observed about Martin. I suggested him to trust his child and let go, avoiding to set unnecessary pressure on him.

Last week the father took a sit with the other parents and chit chatted with them while Martin played. With his father out of sight, he quickly picked up his lost time: he pulled a friend´s hair; he pushed, hit and grabbed toys from other children. He was being himself and continued his social skills development from where he had left it.

Misbehavior was back. But there was a difference. In the room his father had really changed his message: he was supporting and trusting him. Now, when firm and calm limits are set Martin is able to accept them and move forward into play. True Martin is back and I cherish that.

One diamond, a thousand facets . Reaction, reflection and resound of develomental patterns at the edge of a new humanity.

diamondEvery child is born as a raw diamond. This is an invaluable jewel. An enormous potential.

And every child has within an irrepressible urge. The renewed emergence of a single destiny: to manifest who he is, who she is.

Being a person even within the womb, it will take a whole life to complete the manifold manifestations of his innate humanness.

From the cradle to the grave the enrichment of experiences react, resound and reflect into a self-eductional process destined to know the single jewel of the self beyond the thousands of facets of appearance. A diamond, a diamond is.

In spite of culture, in spite of formal education, in spite of society, the self-education process goes on and on. The search cannot be stopped.

What new-born babies have in common is the diamond has not been repeatedly shaped by the reflection, reaction and resound of experiences. It is a raw diamond.

Every child holds some unique characteristics conditioned by genes such as persistence level and the capacity to take risks (MD. Rutter, M.) but how these uniqueness will manifest depends entirely on environment and experience.

What if this environment offers the right conditions for infants to self-educate themselves from the very beginning? I am talking about an environment as assertive and responsive of children’s developmental needs as we can dream of. Hundreds of alternative educational projects are preparing the ground to sow such an experience in children’s lives all over the globe.

My hint is that we might be at the edge of a new humanity.

A humanity that values and includes the spiritual aspect of human beings to be freely manifested in the educational field.

At last.

Misbehavior files. In the search for the ultimate good.

Imagen 291

Have you ever seen a toddler misbehave? I thought I had. A thousand times.

And I have a clear idea of why this has happened: I was blind.

Blind to really see beyond my own projection, perception and understanding.

Early childhood “misbehavior” is an adult conception, a rational explanation of those poorly rated attitudes, responses and experiments babies and infants conduct.

Generally and repeatedly considered by adults as inadequate, improper, bad or mean, infants meet their needs many times under stress (and shame).

Being the cost so high, why do they insist in doing so?

My hypothesis is: because they have an inner urge to fulfill.

It is generally easy to approve, respect and encourage babies endaveours  when they meet  adult standards and expectations: a 2 months old baby smiling to human faces, a 7 months old baby sitting straight on his own, a 12 months baby starting to walk by himself, an 18 months old baby saying her first words, a 24 months old toddler that is willing to be potty trained or a 30 months old toddler that smoothly exchanges his toys and biscuits with a play friend and kisses granny goodby with a big “thank you for the visit” hug…

Anyhow, what happens when a baby does not smile but cries, does not sit, walk, talk or get potty trained when adults expect them to do so? And what about a toddler that refuses to indulge adults requests (or threats) for social correctness?

Is he biting? Is she throwing tantrums? Are they not listening, not paying heed and (in general) not behaving as adults expect? Instead of seeing this as a challenging behavior we can drive our understanding towards a much better question: are they meeting a developmental need by doing what they do? Which one?

This question opens a wide range of responses that will completely modify the actions we adults take when facing such challenges…

Is a 30 months old girl pouring water all over? She may be needing to transfer liquids to understand fluids inter exchange in her own body, preparing herself for potty training. What about offering her enough play time in the bath tub (if weather is cold) or in the play ground?

Is a 24 months old boy saying “no” to every request his mother states? He may be needing to consolidate his “I” image as a separate individual by getting oppositional to every parental request. What about offering him a firm, calm limit (“you have to put your shoes on now”) AND an option so he can feel he is the one who is choosing (which color of shoes he is going to wear)?

Is an 18 months old baby repeatedly climbing the dinner table despite being said not to do so? She may be needing to reinforce the neurological wiring illumined when practising climbing coordination skills. What about taking her long enough to a playground where climbing games are available or setting a safe climbing game in her play area?

Children generally “misbehave” when they don´t find the opportunity to meet their needs in a safe, respectful, free play environment. They do it anyway, anywhere, with what they find at hand. And what do we adults say about that? “Uhm… here is the little naughty one”.

But what would happen if we shift the perspective and question ourselves: “Uhm… am I offering this child an adequate environment to meet his needs?”

Thinking this way, responsibility transfers from kid to adult. We are made responsible, which is good news, because it means we can find effective and intentional ways to offer children (and ourselves) a more fulfilling and harmonious experience.

After years of observation I have come to know everything a baby and toddler does is intended towards one direction, aiming at one very same goal. And this is so because there is only one ultimate good guiding every child behaviour as a compass: fulfilling the innate urge to unfold their humanness.

And I have good reasons to think that this is not only a cultural but also a biological impulse.

There are innumerable examples in my daily work that support this approach. I have picked some of these observations as study cases and compiled them under the “Misbehavior Files Series” in my best aim to narrate a Sherlock Holmes kind of detective educational adventure.

Would you join in solving the childhood discipline mystery puzzle?

Then know this post is just an introduction. Stay tuned, the good stuff is yet to come.

The balad of maternal dependency. Just in case I tell you again how to overcome the 4 most maddening challenges of parenting.

This post was originally published during the national poetry month and I suspect it might have been buried by the avalanche of poems that were published at that time. Since I am quite fond of this post I would not like it to end like that. So just in case you missed it, here it is!


Illustration: Patricia Fitti

My baby boy won’t eat.

My baby girl doesn’t speak.

My baby boy won’t listen.

My baby girl doesn’t sleep.

And I , oh I , I cook for him so many things.

And I , oh I , I speak to her so many words.

And I , oh I , I explain to him so many times.

And I, alas, I’m lost in an infinite and infernal exhaustion deprived of sleep“.

(sing this playing a little guitar , using a trembling voice, in the sweet and soulful style of Violeta Parra. Repeat as many times as you like or continue reading, there may be alternatives).

I wanted to write this for a long time. As I told you, I do not like confrontation, but today I am not being myself: I got up at 4 am , I showered , I meditated the best I could – I’m not good at it – then I had breakfast , I promoted my free play seminar and reactivated our family business twitter account wondering how is that they suspended me if I opened it yesterday… evidently I can make things wrong from the very beginning.

While all this is going on, my family is still asleep (it’s not even 6 AM).

So I have free time and no one to care for. I do not like that, it makes me nervous.

Since I became a mother most of my attention is directed towards my children. When I got married I focused a lot on my husband. Since I completed college I’ve been attentive to social welfare. And when I was a teenager, ah, I was focused on pairing my thin, rebel and busty friends who excelled me on every aspect getting boyfriends (I never managed)…

Before that, ah… before that I was focused on myself. On my dolls game, on putting up a classroom in my bedroom where I taught naughty and imaginary children, on my rollers and the long balcony of my childhood home hanging above the forest and the lake, on horses, on the morning when I opened the curtains and the whole world was white, white, and only an immense silence covered the ground with snow.

Such an immense silence, so beautiful and deep as meditation. A real one.

When I was a little girl I focused on my selfsame axis. I was myself, ample and self-complacent. Nothing lacked me. Well, I exaggerate. I often lacked a milk tooth and I was so shy that I refused to smile in public because I was acutely aware of its absence (for that reason I lost a casting my mother wanted me to perform, blessed be my destiny). But other than that, I lacked nothing.

The boy, the girl mentioned in the ballad don’t need anything either. They are perfect as they are, a complete, sufficient and full Self.

But we moms have forgotten our own axis, our focus, we depend on whom we can. No one is better than our own child to fulfill our need. And so, depending on them, we teach them to depend.

Oh, is not easy for me to say this…

I breathe …

I infuse myself with courage …

I strive to return to my center, to my true self…

I continue.

Children do not do anything “against us”.

They do not eat because they have a good reason not to. They do not speak (yet), would not listen (never), do not sleep (not even in dreams!), because we have been doing all those things for them. We have not given them enough space, time and respect to learn to do it for themselves.

We control the food we serve on his plate, the amount to be eaten and what will go to his mouths in every bite. Because we do it all for him.

We control the words she says, how many are they, and run to check the correspondence with the number of words she should be saying at by her age (by 18 months they must speak 15 words, really??? ) .

We control his time, we bounce into his motor skills explorations, into his watchful eye , into his hands and games. Without even a warning we interrupt him, lift him without previous notice. We decide how, what, why and when he plays.

Then children have a tantrum… they rebel maybe? And yes, they would not listen. Because they haven’t learned to depend, not yet, not entirely. They still have so much, much focus on their own self. What we tell them not to do, they do it, again and again . And if they observe that this procedure creates in us a show of anger and rebuke, even if they suffer they won’t doubt in pressing one more time the red button of our vulnerability.

“Aha… How interesting was mom’s reaction when I did this … let me see … I’ll do it one more time and will observe if she does it again”. They say all of this in their own language, without using words, driven by the immense desire to understand human bonds through us, their moms. Their deep interest in decoding and comprehending human relationships is their priority and they go for it.

In this state of things the day passes by and we’re all tired. He, she, us. It is 7 PM, we have to complete a lot of household chores and we are all exhausted.

There is nothing worse than trying to fall asleep when we are exhausted. You have to get to sleep before that. Once depleted, a body that had no opportunity to get rest on time pulls out energy from vital reserves and injects a large dose of adrenaline to keep going (do not take it literal, it is a metaphor, although this may be what really happens from a chemical point of view). That’s what happens when we are sleepy at a party: suddenly we reawaken and we feel could go on and on, so we do it. The next day we pay the price for that extra demand on our body, we all know it. Imagine how it goes for you if you do that on a daily basis. Well, maybe you don’t need to imagine anything. Maybe it’s just what you get. But without the party part, only with the get-energy-from-where-there-is-none part, not getting any sleep at all and be already exhausted from dawn.

Feeling frustrated out of so much accumulated fatigue we take everything personal, we lose our temper with our kid and we cry along with him. We don’t know better.

Until one day we realize we cannot put up with it anymore and we get to read articles like this one and others that are surely better. We read and read and wonder when will the author finally offer us the keys to overcome the 4 most maddening challenges of motherhood.

But we do not get the relieving answers we are looking for and even worse: we are made responsible for our fate.

Ok, ok, don’t despair. Just because you read all the way down here I will sing it for you:

There’s no child who does not want to eat, if eating is just eating and only that. If eating is a free act and only as much as he needs to feel satisfied.

If my mom is happy with my satisfaction, oh gee, how nicely do I eat, how good am I at eating being so young!

There’s no child who does not speak enough, if speaking means communication and connection, and only that. If speaking is through the eyes, gestures, cries and smiles and when it is genuine. Then the girl realizes that she is being perfectly understood.

If my mom is happy with my satisfaction, oh gee, how well do I express myself, how good am I at expressing myself being so young!

There’s no child who rebels against limits, if they offer a safe boundary, a form of love that speaks to the heart and only that. Then accepting a limit means feeling a maternal embrace, firm and calm.

If my mom is happy with my satisfaction, oh gee, how nicely do I respond, how good am I at accepting limits being so young!

No little girl wants to sleep. No baby boy wants to go to bed. Because sleep is a change of state, a transition and only that. But that’s just what the boy feels as a challenge, just that puts the girl on an alert.

If my mom accepts my efforts to learn how to navigate the changes, oh gee, and from the first moment in the day I can eat , express and accept by myself being respected, oh gee, I think it’s time for my mom to stop putting me to sleep, oh gee, to stop bouncing me, driving the car, moving the stroller, walking with me in her arms, rocking me in the cradle, putting me to the breast as if it were a sleeping pill, oh gee, it’s time for her to trust that I can also learn to sleep by myself , oh gee , in my own bed, oh gee, in my own bed, oh geeeeeeee!

(sing this using maracas, tambourines and gymnastics ribbons with pure art. If you get Raffi to sing along with you the chorus, even better).

Sometimes it takes us more than a baby to learn this.

But at some point appears a light at the end of the road , we wonder if we are dead but no, we are more alive than ever before. And if you are left wanting more details, oh gee, leave your comment bellow, because right now I have no more time. It’s 6:58 a.m, oh gee, and one after another three little lion cubs appear into the scene, three little cubs oh gee, and they call me, they call me: Mamaaaa!