In February when I was asked to write a blog for April, I had no idea that our world would be turned upside down by the time Spring arrived. The first day of Spring is the Persian New Year, a time of special ceremonies symbolizing a letting go of what is no longer needed, a time for rebirth and renewal. It is a time of celebration, coming together, visiting the elders in the family. Of course this Persian New Year, there was no coming together, all the ceremonial events were cancelled and for the first time in my life, I didn’t visit my grandmother, now 96 years old. Neither her 3 sons, including my dad, nor her grandchildren or great-grand children were able to visit her. Her and my aunt (her only daughter) are hunkered down in her little apartment in Irvine. My cousin is delivering food once every couple of weeks. Indeed, it is a strange time and at times I feel like we are living in a sci-fi movie.
What has been interesting for me is that while much of what I have come to love and expect during Persian New Year could not materialize this year, in some ways it has perhaps been one of the most meaningful and authentic Persian New Years of all time. I have come to truly see and appreciate with all my heart how much we need each other. This time has expanded my heart and grown my love for family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. I have had to let go of so much during these past 2 weeks and confront my shadows. My need to control, my impatience, my anger!! It has truly been a time of transformation, of rebirth, a time for finding new ways of being.
For me, coming to see what my children really need and showing up for them has been a wonderful gift of this time. For example, since schools have closed, my son Kaiaan has had lots of school work that he needs to do at home and at first, it was very challenging doing it at home. He tells me I’m not as fun as his teacher and that he needs his friends around him to be able to focus on his work. You see, when this all began, I made a schedule and tried to stick with it and it resulted in a great deal of resistance and meltdowns. I’m certainly no dictator but Kaiaan is strong-willed and he has won the battle. I have let go of the schedule, of the need to get everything done. I have let go of control and began to listen more deeply to Kaiaan – to what he needs now which is freedom, to just be and for my presence alongside him, learning and creating. I have promised myself to stop checking my phone and reading the news when I’m with the kids. Of allowing myself to be truly present and listening. This letting go has been fruitful and quite magical. It has given birth to peace (mostly), lots of creativity and true learning. Now he comes around and does his school work in short spurts and in different, more meaningful and self-directed forms. This new way has saved our household. At the same time as being there for my kids and being present, I have also carved out time for me, an hour a day whether I go for a walk alone, sit for meditation, read or take a long bath – it is time I need to keep myself healthy (both physically and mentally!) so that I am able to be present with my kids.
I wanted to share some of the things that we have done during this time that have made this time special and fun.
- We bought a Ukelele and all of us are learning to play using youtube videos – we are all into it and it brings us lots of joy as we dance, sing and play a new instrument.
- We have spent a lot of time in the garden planting seeds, harvesting, and experimenting.
- We play outside often, riding bikes in the neighborhood or going on walks on the hillsides near our home – we have been learning the names of more plants and trees and paying attention to the birds. We are lucky to have abundant nature near us. It’s the best medicine and we are grateful for it.
- I have been listening to Kaiaan and supporting him in his curiosity – right now, he is curious about colors and dyeing and so we have picked flowers to boil to see if we get a color. Most have not turned out but it’s fun to see which ones do- Sourgrass flowers make a beautiful yellow. Avocado skins boiled in water make the most beautiful pink. Red beets worked beautifully too. He has sewn a treasure pouch with old white scrap cloth and we dyed it in the dye from the avocado skins. He used it today on our walk by the beach to collect sea glass.
- We have been baking bread and treats and having tea parties. It’s been a nice way of calming down and quieting our energy.
- We built a fort in the middle of the living room and have been reading lots of stories in there.
- We have been getting very messy in the house, painting, making dough balls, and playing with clay, etc. I have let go of needing to have everything tidy at all times and have come to be ok with clean up at the end of the day.
- We have been making and writing cards to family members which has been a fun and meaningful way for Kaiaan to practice his writing at the same time as painting and being creative.
I hope that this strange time reveals itself in beautiful ways for everyone. Even with all the grief and hardship that this time has brought, I believe that it is an opportunity for true transformation.
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Lili is the lead instructor for Forest Kindergarten at Earthroots. She has a background in permaculture design, started a nature-based after-school program at a rural primary school, worked on a regenerative land-use project with rural farmers, cared for an abandoned mongoose, and loves making life-long friendships. Her passion for children, the natural world and building relationships and community have steered her to Earthroots where she has been working since 2015.