WOW | Life Inspiration
Life Lessons with Lola
My niece Lola Gabriele is 3 years old. She is my parents’ youngest grandchild and was a long awaited arrival in our family. Lola and I live continents apart. I manage to see her every six months or so. Every time I see her there is something new about her – her size (she is so tall!), her new hairdo, a new expression, a new favorite colour or stuffed animal she wants to introduce me to. Every time I see her she teaches me something new. As a child she does not teach by words as much as she teaches by doing. She embodies, naturally and effortlessly, remarkable qualities. She reminds me of what is most important in life.
I do not say this because Lola is “cute”, nor to romanticise childhood. Childhood is not always easy: as children we are growing at exponential rates; we are feeling our way through a world ruled by adults who do not “get” us and who- for the most part- have forgotten the joy and magic and possibilities that life offers. As children we are flooded with huge waves of emotion that we do not always know how to express or channel – because we don’t know how, because we haven’t learned the tools yet, or don’t have people around us who can teach us. Childhood can be blessed. It can also be challenging.
As I watch Lola, I am reminded that children are incredibly intelligent. They understand so much more than we adults think they do. They understand things differently than our years-long conditioned minds tend to. Their perspective is different from ours; but not less valid.
All of this to say that I have a great love and respect for children. They are some of the best company around; some of our most loving and powerful teachers.
So, following is a list of lessons that my little Lola Garbriele – a big soul in a little body – shared with me this summer.
Disclaimer #1: all of this is my interpretation. I am guessing that years from now, when Lola might read this, she might think I got it all wrong, and not be ready to recognise all of this is hers.
Disclaimer #2: You might feel inspired to try some of these lessons out for yourself. I would encourage you to do this the wisdom you have in the moment. It might not be a good idea to take your clothes off right away (see #4).
Lessons with Lola
Say it like it is
Lola doesn’t yet have a refined filter on what she says. Her sense of what is appropriate and what is not is evolving with time. But she says what she wants: “I want the salty cracker, not the sweet one”. “I want to wear one polka dotted sock and one striped sock.” She doesn’t take or do anything that she doesn’t really, actually want to take or do. She also says what she sees and feels. “I am scared”. “I don’t like it”. “I love you.”
It’s not calculated. It’s direct. It’s r-e-a-l.
Reminder; Say it like it is, folks. Keep it real. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Try practicing that, and watch some pretty incredible things start to happen. It’s easier than we think.
Give and receive hugs unabashedly
Lola likes taking naps and walks herself to bed at night, waving to us all as she bids us a good night (we have no idea where this easy child came from!). She has a little ritual before she goes to bed and when she wakes: she hugs and kisses everyone. She loves it. And so do we.
She teaches us to show our love and tenderness more, and more openly.
Reminder: Share and show your kindness and love more often–through words and especially through gesture. Smile, give a hug, allow yourself to receive a hug, squeeze a hand in kindness. Note: best to do this with people you know (strangers might not be so keen at first!).
Lola is relatively quiet. She tends to watch people and situations carefully. Admittedly, she is more of an introvert. Not that all of us are just so in nature, but there is something to say for watching before acting.
Reminder: Slow it down. Notice. Take it all then. Digest information. Then act.
This means stepping away from your phone, your texting, your computer, ipad of whatever device you are engaged in. Look around. Look up at the sky. All around.
Run around naked
Ok, folks, this is figurative. For the most part.
I love watching Lola play outside in the summer along the beach and in her grandmother’s garden. She starts off wearing a hat, a T-shirt, shorts, undies and her super cute sandals. Within about 20 minutes, the items start coming off. And we all support her in this undoing. Her favorite thing is to just run around in a T shirt. Yep, buck naked except for a T-shirt. She is so pleased with herself when she does this and so at ease.
Reminder: Get comfortable. Only you know what will make you feel at ease. Take off your straight jackets or masks of what you think you should look like. Take off your make-up. Have the courage to show a bit more of your true self to those who have earned the honor to see you “naked”.
When you gotta go…you gotta go
My sister and brother-in-law are trying to convince Lola that a toilet is actually a great thing. Lola is not sold on the virtues of a potty. It’s a bit big, cold…and stuff disappears in it!
So, as Lola transitions between “pull-ups” (underwear-like nappies) and using the big white throne, she tries to alert us to her need to go to the loo. Her favorite thing is to pee outside, in the grass. I mean, my menfolk, you might get the joy of doing so. Ladies, you may not, unless you have enjoyed the wonders of outdoor life and the freedom of feeling fresh air on your seat.
Reminder: My first teacher in Ayurveda always reminded me of a basic principle for good health: do not suppress any natural urge. Do not hold your “short” or “long” toilet, do not suppress passing gas (in either direction), do not hold back your tears nor your laughter. Do not suppress any emotion. Learn to direct it, and place it in the right place, in the right receptacle. When it comes, let it come without getting uptight about it. It’s natural. Not shameful.
Anyone who has worked with children–either as a teacher, caretaker, or counselor– knows that play is the way that children learn information, refine skills (motor and cognitive) and grow. I love watching Lola play. She’s at the point where she still wants company in her play but is beginning to play on her own. She speaks with her toys and talks to people whom I cannot see. When we play together she tells me of imaginary places where we are (we’re on a boat, we’re in a book, we’re Martians etc..). It’s hard to follow at times. And it’s always new. Always wondrous.
Reminder: Make time for your imagination. Take time to not be ‘responsible’ with your list of things to do or say. do something fun. In adulthood fun and relaxation are often equated with alcohol, drugs or other such diversions. Those might be your cup of tea. but I would encourage you to expand your repertoire of “fun” beyond these. What could you do right now, in this moment, to have a little fun? Even the smallest thing. Be goofy. Make time to “loosen up”. It will give you more energy than you can imagine.
So, that’s it for our Lessons with Lola this season. I’ll report back once I see my little munchkin again. Until then, enjoy and celebrate. If you are reading this, you are alive. You are a miracle. And you are loved beyond belief by the energies that created you. Rejoice.
LISA GAUTSCHI (Yogatara) is a Yoga Therapist and Spiritual Psychologist, and the Director of Isha Institute, Jhamsikhel – a centre for holistic learning and conscious living.