It all began with a book. The name: "Connection Parenting - Parenting Through Connection Instead of Coercion, Through Love Instead of Fear" by Pam Leo. Its message: a loving guide to helping parents bond/connect with their children while getting everyone's needs met in the process.
Our son, Andrik Darius Pueblos, was about 2 months old when I began opening the pages to this priceless book. There are 7 chapters and at the end of each chapter are exercises and tools to help discover how to connect with our children without having to use coercion or fear. Each chapter was a gem...a key to unlocking the many mysteries to parenting with a gentle and loving approach. Where a world full of No's!, Don'ts! and Be Careful's! is considered normal in our society, it was a breath of fresh air to read something positive and enlightening. This is what I was looking for all along - a more effective way to connect and bond with our son and get all of our needs met by connecting instead of coercing, through love instead fear! I mean come on - the very title of the book "had me at hello"! ;o)
After reading the book, I was so inspired by its message that I started doing research online to see if there would be any workshops in the Los Angeles area where my husband, Dalmacio and I could attend. But to no avail, I couldn't find anything. Finally after some thought, I decided to send an email to Pam Leo to see if I could get any tips on how to create my own workshop for my family and a group of friends. The message was that powerful that I felt empowered and wanted to share the many jewels written in each chapter. Not to mention the medley of resources that Pam offers throughout the book from other authors and organizations. I don't think I've ever read a book that promotes other positive resources as much as this book does!
Carmine Leo responded to my email and thus began a very fruitful conversation with a plethora of great tips on how to start my own workshop. I still have that email saved up to this day. It was back in March 28, 2009. I also got the opportunity to speak to Carmine over the phone. Such a pleasure and an honor to connect with this man. He definitely went the extra mile to make sure I felt comfortable and well-prepared to facilitate the workshop.
After sending out a mass email to family and friends who have children, only three families confirmed their interest in the workshop and purchased the book. Thus, began the journey of our first gathering. And since it was a gathering about families on such a loving topic, I decided to call it the Family Love Gathering. The workshop took place within 7 weeks to cover the 7 chapters. My intention this whole time though was to hopefully go further than just this workshop. I wanted to create a group where families could discuss, share and support each other on similiar interests, such as holistic wellness, eco-friendly living, natural/attachment parenting, extended breastfeeding, unschooling, etc. I wanted to create a loving space for like-minded parents to feel at home, where their parenting choices would be heard and supported vs. being scoffed at and ridiculed. I was so excited when all the families wanted to continue supporting one another!
To monument the end of the workshop along with the end of 2009, we celebrated with a yummy holiday feast along with a special topic. It was facilitated by an inspiring guest speaker, Cody Dale, who is an expert with the RIE philosophy and is now a parenting coach. The basic premise of RIE is rooted in a foundation of respect for children - giving children the opportunity to learn from exploring. This idealogy encourages children to be an active participant in their play and allowing them to become independent learners. RIE is very similiar to the concept of the Waldorf Education, except it caters to a child's first 2 years of life whereas Waldorf usually starts from preschool/kindergarten and on. And although some people might think this concept contradicts our family values about attachment parenting (i.e. co-sleeping, wearing Andrik in a sling, extended breastfeeding, etc), I truly believe that there is a balance to everything in life. And that also goes for attachment parenting and philosophies such as, RIE and Waldorf. Which is why I feel it is important to have topics in varying degrees to share amongst our "family". As long as they all have the same goal in mind; and that is to anchor gentle, positive, loving and respecting values for our children and families.
Although we had finished the workshop and 2009 had passed, it was not the end of our gatherings. 2010 marked the beginning of a beautiful new year, with more families interested in joining along with a fascinating new topic. The topic: Elimination Communication (which will be discussed in my next post). Ahhhh yes - it was time for change, time for expansion and an evolved vision. What was once a mere dream to just continue creating the space for support with our intimate family had emerged into a larger vision to connect more families together (perhaps even in other cities besides ours or even better yet, around the whole world)! Because as the age old saying goes "it takes a village to raise a child". And so what had begun as a Family Love Gathering was now transformed into a Family Love Village.
Welcome to my blog. May you find a home within these pages...may you find your village.