The Greatest Love of All?

I have a passion for the dulcet tones of George Benson – this began during my teenage years and continues to date. His version of The Greatest Love of All, (Michael Masser music and Linda Creed lyrics) is a song I play during my ‘Baby It’s You & Me’ training as the opening line states: “I believe the children are our future” – and I don’t think there are many people who would argue with this. Another interesting thing for me about this song is the way it continues:

Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody is searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me

The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

So the ‘hidden message’ of learning to love yourself is something else that I like to bring to peoples’ attention. The ability to nurture, cherish, value and respect yourself is vital I believe if we want to be able to do this authentically for others. There is a disconnect for me when a person is very caring and kind to others, yet doesn’t demonstrate the same level of care and kindness to themself. And it’s not about being arrogant or big-headed – it’s about practising compassion, tolerance and empathy for people which includes us! After all, we were children once.

The final 4 lines continue like this, (I’m often tempted to bring out the karoake singer in me by then – however I normally play this at the start of the session so perhaps don’t feel safe enough to share my vocal skills with the group so early in the day):

And if by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love.

And that for me is literally the ‘bottom line’ as I believe the ability to feel truly loved and to love other people is only possible when we also love ourselves. And in order to do this, the need to let go of all the shame and blame that’s been collected from childhood onwards is crucial. Which reminds me of another voice that goes round and round in my head whenever I find myself slipping into ‘put down’ language – “Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare” ~ Brené Brown.

So there you go, it’s as ‘simple’ and ‘easy to achieve’ as that. The reality may be harder as the temptation to focus on all that we’re not is everywhere around us and is the reason advertises manage to convince us we need this face cream that perfume, a shiny fast car or brand of clothing to feel good about ourselves. However, as the article by Jojo Thomas: Self-Compassion: The Hardest Act Of All illustrates, being our own personal Cheerleader, believing ‘WE CAN DO IT!’ and giving the ‘child of the past’ and person we are today a virtual hug not only brings into to focus love for ourselves, but also the strength of love. (Almost used the word ‘power’ there, but realised that I would then be quoting another song and surely one power ballad per blog is enough for anyone!)

Baby it’s You & Me

Babies really are amazing.  This was clearly evident at a session last Friday morning held at a local Children’s Centre where parents and carers of babies under 12 months were invited to come and play together.  The pictures below show the space we used before and after a ‘Changing Rooms’ style makeover.  The babies were offered the opportunity to explore the 4 areas: visual, physical and multi-sensory stimulating as well as a calm and soothing space.  The adults were encouraged to ‘look, listen and note’ while the babies were allowed to lead the way and were not put into positions they could not get in or out off.  Our youngest visitor is due to be born in the next couple of weeks, and a beautiful 2 week old enjoyed snuggling down and sleeping.  Twin girls showed how different their likes and dislikes were and a whole group of boys chilled out in the ‘snoozy’ zone.  Each baby left with a Festive ribbon shaker and a wooden brick with one of Hertfordshire’s 5 to Thrive messages to remind the ‘grown ups’ what they can do to help build a baby’s brain.

Thank you so much to Helen and all the staff at Bridge Road Children’s Centre in Stevenage for your enthusiasm and support for the session.  Thank you also to all the parents/carers and babies who came along on a wild and windy morning to play and learn together.  I look forward to meeting some of you again during the ‘Baby it’s You and Me’ course which is due to start at the end of January 2013 and to share the magic of discovering just what makes each and every baby so amazing.

The end of a project, but it’s not all sad news :)

Last week saw the final session of The Northamptonshire Baby Room Project© that I had been facilitating in Rutland since March.  And wow what a project!  It was great to work with so many practitioners who were enthused by what they learned and committed  to making a difference to the babies in their care.  So thank you to all those who attended and in doing so, shared ideas, inspired each other and helped to positively shape the brains of the babies in their care by providing high quality interactions.  Thank you also for the positive feedback, (some of which is featured below), saying that the training would have been even better if it had ‘never ended’ and for unanimously recommending this project to other people.

“I loved having the time within the session to make resources to take back to our setting especially our sensory hoop and natural sensory bottles!”

Baby Room Practitioner – The Ark Association, Rutland: September 2012

 “This project has already had a positive impact across the nursery, especially the resources and also understanding how young children ‘tick’.”

Manager – Private Day Nursery, Oakham: September 2012

 “I hope that this will give my colleagues a little more enthusiasm from the enthusiastic way I will pass the information on!”

“Brilliant and inspiring course, I have enjoyed this immensely and learnt so much.”

Baby Room Practitioners – Little Bloomers Day Nursery: September 2012


‘What excited you most about the project?’

“Coming to the sessions and learning”.

Senior Practitioner – Little Angels Day Nursery: September 2012


“5 to Thrive!” (Hertfordshire’s Key Messages).

Happy New Year! (I can’t believe it’s taken me ’til February though to get round to saying it – I believe the saying is: “time flies when you’re having fun!”).  I had a great start to 2012 by attending Hertfordshire’s ‘My Baby’s Brain’ training where the 5-a-day messages (akin to the 5-a-day healthy eating messages)*  intended for all parents and carers of babies 0 to 3 years old were shared – the resources look fantastic!  It was also good to meet up with lots of PBs buddies at the same event as so much of this approach fits beautifully with the PBs process because, as Themes 1 & 2 say:

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Serious work can be done while you’re having fun!

Just a quick post to say thank you to Fiona & Jess for a wonderful day of ‘plerking’*.   I had planned to deliver one of my Baby It’s You! courses today, but instead spent the time sharing and ‘troubling’ ideas with two great network people. (The courses are going ahead, but on 3 other dates at local children’s centres).

I’d also like to thank Christina, a new network buddy, who is passionate about promoting respectful relationships between babies and adults.  And, thanks to Christina, I have discovered the work of Pennie Brownlee and her publication ‘Dance with me in the Heart’.  It was a truly magical moment to see in print so many ideas that not only fit beautifully with Protective Behaviours, but also the work that I’m currently involved with as part of my Baby It’s You! project.  So, it’s full steam ahead as I look to include more about Protective Behaviours from a baby’s perspective in future courses.

*Plerking – a PBs term for a mixture of play and work

Is he good?

What question is almost always asked by curious adults on first meeting a new baby – you’ve guessed: “is he/she good?”  Is it just my weird sense of humour or wouldn’t it be lovely to respond: “NO!…he/she is the most wicked baby in the whole wide world!!!!!  Thank you for asking……..”  Perhaps a more empowered and honest response would be: “He’s a baby and therefore an expert at

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What do babies and walnuts have in common?

On hearing the news of the latest addition to our family, (a baby boy weighing in at almost 10lbs just after 5am this morning), I’m once again marvelling at the wonder of it all.  So where do the walnuts come in?  Well, having a walnut tree overhanging the garden, and with the recent high winds, I’ve been collecting like crazy because the young walnut, protected by a smooth casing, is a wonderful

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