Process over Product – Considering a New Way of Life

by Katie Henderson on January 1, 2018

The “Soggy Doggy” Reminded Me….

This Christmas I was definitely NOT going to spend the multiple days and trips up and down my attic ladder needed to lug the 12 + large crates of decorations out when we were going away for the holiday. My life was too frantic, my back giving me fits, and I needed a break. I could not, would not. Definitely. End of story. Maybe a small tree, but that’s ALL! And then, at Thanksgiving, there was this look from my 20 year old baby girl when I proposed the idea. And a gentle yet sincere “But Mom….” And then I recalled last year, my grandson’s first here in town, and how, even at two years old, he was captivated at helping to decorate my little backroom tree with all the kid ornaments from over the years. And I remembered the Santa Scavenger hunt. And….I caved. But in order for me not to be resentful and feel burdened, I somehow had to reframe my mind. I had to enjoy the process, darn it, because I would not be around to enjoy the product for long, as we’d be off for the holidays. What hit me, like a ton of bricks, as the boxes began to be opened, was that the process of decorating for this special holiday really had little to do with the end product. Being able to relive the scores of moments from the years of Christmases past through each Santa Claus unpacked, each ornament commemorating special occasions – the “year of the first Nutcracker experience,” or “the year of learning to drive,” or “the year son 1 turned 21” – these flooded my mind with thoughts and my heart with love and gratitude for those treasured ones I call my family. Pulling out the book, “Count the days till Christmas,” that our Benjamin could recite by heart at age two and couldn’t wait to unpack each year, Ben and Grace’s handprint ceramic plates, the photo ornaments of the three kids in the most creative (and silly) poses I could come up with, the treasured Santa that came from my childhood home…..each “thing” became a moment in time relived, and flooding my heart were memories in time when we stopped, as a family, to relish in the season. When my daughter arrived home from college this year, walking in from the airport at three in the morning, and I caught a glimpse of her stopping, dead in her tracks, to look around in the living room, smiling at the sight of the tree, taking in each of the accouterments, it hit me: How could I have even considered NOT “decking the halls?” Who CARED what the end result looked like, or that I wouldn’t be there to enjoy the finished result? It was all about the process, and rekindling memories of the heart, and somehow, as I basked in the process, my heart was filled to the brim, once again.

In my business, we talk a LOT about being “in the moment,” and what it takes to be fully present as a teacher in class. Any thought of the future (what comes next) OR of the past (regrets of things undone, stresses you carried with you into the moment you are in) ROB you of being in the moment. You cannot be fully present to the moment you are in, nor embrace “what is” right now, unless you channel yourself out of the past and the future. In doing so, you must also let go of the results you desire for the moment you are in and let them unfold organically. Here’s an example: my daughter-in-law had, on her Christmas wish list for my grandkids, age-appropriate games they could begin to play together. I searched and found “Soggy Doggy,” a game that has a cute, rubber dog siting with a shower rod over his head and a water-filled tub basin below him; with each roll of the dice a playing piece is moved around the board, and a resulting instruction on each landing spot has the player turning or pushing the shower knobs; with each push/turn, the doggy has the possibility of having “had enough” of the bath, whereby he begins to shake incessantly.

Now I LOVE board games, and was a bit determined to understand, and properly teach our 3 and 2 year old the rules – only TWO twists of the faucet, per the instructions on the space on which you land, going only one direction around the game board, etc! But once the doggy had his first shaking frenzy, all rules were abandoned, as the kids just had to sneak in an extra turn and push of the knobs to achieve “shaking status,” after which they would laugh hysterically. At first I tried to regain order (and “control” of the situation), but it hit me, suddenly, that my desire to see how winning was achieved (by making my daughter-in-law get out the instructions and read these details) robbed me, a bit, of the sheer joy of the moment we were in – Momma, Aunt, Grandma, and two precious ones siting, on the kitchen floor, in anticipation of a silly shaking, wet dog, in anticipation of laughter that filled the room, in anticipation of creating a Christmas memory, one that could be relived like the Santas and ornaments unpacked each year.

Stop to think about living towards “product” (ie achievement) or embracing the “process.” How can you frame your heart and mind differently in 2018? How can you give yourself fully to whatever moment you are in? What does it require of you? For me, it requires, for one, not being ruled by the clock! It means accepting that the moments of each day will come and go, ebb and flow, like the tide of the ocean, regardless of what I do (or do not do), and that this is exactly as it should be; it means putting down my phone more and tending to the faces and words of those around me; it means being organized and prepared so I can let go in the moment I am in; it requires knowing that I am human and fail, but also that, as one who tries to embrace excellence, integrity, love and acceptance, when I do my best, my best is good enough for the moment I am in; it means not looking back or judging the past (nor that of another!); it means not being ruled by the opinions of others; it means knowing that I am forgiven by the one who loves me and who matters most; it means knowing that each tomorrow is another beautiful day of opportunity. As I work towards these things, I can give my heart and mind fully to the moment I am in. The results are acceptance, patience, forgiveness, love and peace. And if I can foster that for my own being, my heart and mind are transformed, and I can extend the same to others.

I wish for you, friends, such a “process over product” life in 2018, and its resulting richness and abundance in the coming year.

Kids – No Hidden Agenda There!

by Katie Henderson on October 20, 2017

by Katie Henderson, Founder/Director of Music Connections Foundation

As an early childhood educator, one of my “go to” kid sayings comes from the author of a favorite parenting book – Conscious Discipline, by Dr. Becky Baily. “Children are either extending love or calling for it.” Period. End of story. There is no hidden agenda or premeditation for intentional mischief, particularly in the first five years of life. Now I know what you’re thinking – “I can see it in her eyes when she is getting ready to be naughty!” I remember that look well (like the one I got just before the picture here of my daughter, then two, now 20, was taken)! But in reality, ‘being naughty’ is not the motivation. Kids are exploring their world, their immerging independence, and, as they do, testing the boundaries that come with that territory. And such testing is really a call for guidance. When you have conflict with your little one, consider it a call for help, and an opportunity to teach. They don’t think “Let me see what I can get away with,” or “I’m gonna do this because my mom told me not to.” Truly, they do not. They are needing to be nurtured and ‘fed.’ Just as the flowers in a garden crumble when they do not have food and water, so do young children. They crave, want and need your attention, and they will subconsciously go to all extremes to get it, one way or another!

We can learn a lot of lessons as we embrace, with certainty, Becky Bailey’s statement. One of those is that young children desperately need our time and attention. I was reminded recently of one of the first extensive formal research studies using our Kindermusik® curriculum to measure effects on cognitive advancements using standard intelligence tests. The study was done at Sam Houston University in Texas, and measured 66 children, 4-6 years old, before and after an entire school year, half of whom participated in Kindermusik for the Young Child® classes and half of whom did not (the control group). The results were dramatic: at the end of the study, all Kindermusik students had drastic gains – from the 50th percentile up to the 87th percentile, regardless of their socioeconomic background or race (one third of the kids in BOTH groups were from Head Start). But the MOST dramatic finding in these results lay in a surprising factor: the largest gains in post-testing were in kids whose parents were in “high compliance,” participating in weekly home musical play and simple assignments, regardless of their background. The Kindermusik kids with “low compliance” parents, even, had gains from the 50th to the 78th percentile. However, those with “high compliance” parents rose to above the 87th percentile. It is even more impactful when you know that the definition of a “high compliance” parent was one who spent just 30 minutes a week at home in musical play and learning. TIME together matters in your child’s long term ‘smarts,’ if you will, and in Kindermusik, we see that it’s not time drilling numbers or letters, but, rather, quality time exploring and creating and interacting. Joyful, attentive parenting. And, by the way, research tells us that when we effect our child’s cognitive development in the first decade of life, the advances are permanent.

Another lesson we can learn is that what children sense and feel, in their hearts, motivates their actions, and is grounded in physiology. According to HeartMath Director of Research Rollin McCraty, “The heart is a sensory organ and acts as a sophisticated information encoding and processing center that enables it to learn, remember, and make independent functional decisions.” The heart generates a powerful electromagnetic energy field that radiates and can be measured 8 – 16 feet away. What that means, practically speaking, for us as parents, is that children can sense our feelings, and they respond accordingly. I cannot tell you how many times that a child in my class, for the very first time, at an age typically associated with stranger anxiety (like 18 months!) has ended up on my lap, particularly if their own parent was disengaged or seemingly disheartened. Time after time, over 25 years in this business, a parent has commented, something like “He never goes to anyone. I can’t believe he came right over and sat in your lap.” That child was calling for love, and sensed that I was extending it, because my heart’s energy field was sending out that signal. And when the child joined me, my positive energy and love transferred to him, and he needed it. Studies have shown that the heart’s electromagnetic field, as measured by an electrocardiogram (ECG), in one individual can be detected and measured in another person when the pair either were seated within about three feet of each other or held hands. When people touch or are in close proximity, a transference of the electromagnetic energy produced by the heart occurs. Isn’t that powerful? What we feel for another has real power to effect their being, in the very moment they are in. And when our children are in a state of upset, likely, we are feeling that in our hearts as well! The reverse is also true. In fact, we might ask ourselves, whose upset came first? Was theirs a result of sensing what we were feeling? Are they calling for love? When we stop and extend love to them, our hearts can join, in much more than just an emotional sense.

In today’s world of premeditation, anger and violence, I am thankful to work with children who simply radiate love, or the need for it, and blessed that I can provide parents strategies to meet their children’s needs in ways that enhance the moments of their often long, sometimes challenging days. We use music to make the navigation of parenting easier, more joyful and life for families richer. Love everyday. That’s my job. And by that count, I think I have the best job in the world!

Gratitude with Intention – a Powerful Choice!

October 29, 2016

In my collection of fall decorations is a plate, gifted me by one of my dearest friends, embossed with this saying: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” It was given to me at a time when I really needed to hear just that – you know, one of those messages from above – but […]

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Keep Calm – Pass it On

October 17, 2016

This quote from L. R. Knost, a child development researcher and author, has crossed my path numerous times in the past year and it struck a chord in me from the first. Had I seen this 10 years ago when I was deep in the little one/big emotion drama, I would have printed posters of […]

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Advice to a Parent – Say YES more often!

August 4, 2016

by Katie Henderson, Founder/Director of Music Connections Foundation, Inc. Last night in my final Kindermusik summer class, “Zoo Train,” my little cuties were heavily “into” exploring every single thing in our classroom other than all the things I had intended for us to explore: a tiny, random little bucket hung on the wall just above […]

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Like the Waves upon the Oceans & Shells Upon the Shore

March 22, 2016

Today I am feeling nostalgic. Because circumstances were such that I have had to miss teaching my Kindermusik classes for TWO weeks in a row – the first time in 22 years that I can recall that happening – I am missing my students! After what was to be a quick trip to my hometown […]

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A Mother from Russia Relishes the Gift of Music

December 6, 2015

Hi everyone! My name is Olya. I came to Normal from Vladimir, Russia 8 years ago to get my Master’s degree in Communications. Then I got married and had a daughter Leah. The marriage did not work out. When Leah was almost 6 months old I had to flee from the place where we resided […]

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Kindermusik Makes all the Difference – A Mother’s Story

November 5, 2015

Last Thursday, I had 3 pediatric therapists, a developmental therapist and 2 physical therapists, come to my home to evaluate Ryan for his overall development to see if he is need of further services. (primarily for his lack of walking) The good news is, Ryan does not need further services, as he is only slightly […]

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Dads Do it Too (or The Tale of the Missing Kindermusik Mom) by Tawni Martin

October 21, 2015

Okay, I admit it, I never went to Kindermusik. Well, never is a strong word. I would go maybe once, twice a year. Sure, at home, I sang ALL the songs, read the stories, all of that. But rarely did I grace the doorstep of that magical world of a Kindermusik classroom…. As I mentioned […]

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Will it last?

October 15, 2015

By Tawni Martin – Music Connections Foundation Administrator Kindermusik entered our family’s life in the early winter of 1995. My husband came across some information about a fairly new music program in Bloomington, which included a class offered for very young children. Eager to begin, our daughter Brenna and her dad actually had to wait […]

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