I discovered a kindred spirit in Tal.
We live in different parts of the world.
Our backgrounds are vastly different.
And yet, we have a lot in common. After just one day together, I now call her a friend.
I met Tal — mother of four, a conceptual artist, designer, inventor and former lecturer at the department of visual communication at the Bazalel Academy of Arts — when I visited Israel earlier this year. Before meeting this creative, dynamic mother, I stepped out of a bus in the middle of a semi-rural landscape and noticed a heart-adorned shed.
Inside Tal’s studio was a myriad of mish-mashed objects. Tubs of broken toys. Spots of colour everywhere. Within the eclectic chaos, there was a comfortableness to the space.
Despite our background differences, Tal and I had a similar story regarding the impact of motherhood on our lives. You see, both of us came to a heavy halt after some rough patches. And it was through these times that we rediscovered joy, inspired by how our children see, and live in the world. For me, it was weaving little Love the Moment Challenges throughout my day.
For Tal, her children helped her recapture happiness and joy in the everyday. By choosing to adopt a childlike view of life, she learned to forgive easily, dare bravely, think outside the box, celebrate mistakes, notice the little things and find joy in unlikely places. One example Tal shared with me: there was an incident between her son and his friend. Later that afternoon, they met up outside Tal’s house; an apology was said and forgiveness was given in a heartbeat, and the pair moved on. Oh, if we could all learn to apologise and forgive so easily! Another example was when the family came home to a massive leak in the house, which flooded the downstairs area. Fortunately, Tal’s house has concrete floors, but still — what a pain! The kids thought it hilarious and started playing in all the water. Next minute, bars of soap were out and sliding races happened. Now, it’s a family tradition each year. They strip the house, wet the concrete floors and have a ball with neighbours and friends. Sometimes a bit of perspective goes a long, long way when it comes to mishaps in family life.
Image from Tal of their soapy sliding fun day.
As a mum, I resonated strongly with Tal’s choice to adopt a childlike view, because children can teach you so much about what is important in life. I look back at that crossroad, probably 8 years ago now, when I made a deliberate choice to weave child-like joys into my day, and it altered the way I looked at life, was instrumental in my road back to recovery from post-natal depression and helped me be a better parent. I learned more than ever to appreciate the beauty within the chaos. Much like the mirror below, full of random (sometimes broken) toys. And yet look! Look at how beautiful it is! Tal calls this a Mirror of Happiness, and it does make you happy, just looking at it! I made one myself with Tal, and I’ve put some tips on how you can make your own here.
Even though I recognised the value of connecting with my children and allowing the relationship to shape both our lives, I think it can be hard sometimes to get in that space where you can actually let go of valid adult pressures. Tal shared a lot of tips how to do this, and I have boiled these down into five ways.
1. Remember Your own Childhood
One idea is to walk around the house, or visit an Op Shop, and pick out a toy that takes you back to your childhood. I picked out a toy car. Do you know why? Becuase I am one of four girls, and we didn’t have many cars at our place, such was a reflection of highly gendered toys at the time. However, I remember visiting my male cousins’ house; he had this huge board with cars everywhere and I thought it was the coolest array of toys I had ever seen. I had such fun with them.
2. Make a list of Childlike Characteristics You Admire
Tal and the Vibe Israel team sat around in a circle, and we discussed childlike characteristics we admire. As adults, it’s easy to become narrow-minded and you can lose that sense of joy. I jotted down this line from Tal: “Children have characteristics that allow them to be happier“. Tal decided to go further than just recognising these qualities, and made a choice to adopt them for herself. The biggest lesson she learned from her children was how to truly love unconditionally. Below are some of the other qualities we discussed.
- Love unconditionally
- Be flexible
- Be forgiving
- Accept others (for who they are)
- Be playful
- Be creative
- Believe you can do things (because you will find that you most probably can)
- Don’t concern yourself with judging what others do
“Children have characteristics that allow them to be happier”
3. Have a Family Quest
Tal’s family look for smiley faces everywhere they go. It’s become an ongoing family quest. It’s simple, and easy, and fun! There are many ways this can play out, from having a recurring game — like hunting for number plates when travelling — to looking for street names that represent your family. It’s about establishing your own family culture and making joint memories along the way.
4. Be Silly and Join In
After my time in Tal’s studio, I had lunch at her house, and dessert was an experience. We all dug in and ate cake with our hands. It was crazy. I tried this with my brood at home and it was brilliant (I wrote about it here: Eat Cake With Your Hands). It can be easy as a parent to play the observer role so often, that we forget to just dive in and participate in the fun too. I’m often surprised at how much I enjoy it — and the kids too.
5. Look at the World Through Different Glasses
I think this has been most significant for me: slowing down and taking the time to notice the things young children get so excited about. Like a bug on the path, a bird in a tree and discovering new things. I made a list of 100 of these things and put them in a Love the Moment Challenges poster. The beauty about this is you don’t need any extra time. You just weave them into your day because it’s about a perspective, not ‘doing things’.
Thanks Tal. Thanks for helping me remember how beautiful it is to see the world through childlike eyes.
More Posts from Israel
- What I learned From Israel and the Women Who Live There
- Chats over Good Food: Parenting in the Holiest Cities in the World
- It Takes a Village to Raise a Child: Inside a Kibbutz Commune in Israel
- Why I was Homesick in Israel
- Tower of David Museum
- Rediscovering My Motivation
- Anti-Bullying Technology
- Upcycle Toys – DIY Mirror of Happiness
- Eat Cake With Your Hands
I was invited to Israel by not-for-profit organisation, Vibe Israel to share my experiences of the country. All opinions and story ideas are my own. Images by Sharni Sadicario. Follow Tal on Facebook or Instagram and check out her Website.