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From snagging loose change to dominating conversations, stealing comes in many forms. In this month’s Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting, Pain Specialist and yoga instructor Ginny Hamilton explores how often we rob ourselves of the opportunities to change.

Steps to Generate Positivity Break the trance of fear, then shrink the fear with positive energy with these 7 tactics. Name your fear so it cannot ambush you – All of us are afraid of something, but rather than run away or freeze, fear can open you to opportunity and growth. It’s a useful negative emotion to study and gain more knowledge about yourself. Always lock eyes with the fear, name it, and… Read More

How do we teach our children what we still need to heal in ourselves? Pain Specialist and Yoga Instructor Ginny Hamilton explores yoga philosophy in the #metoo moment, in this month’s Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting.

Love is a Verb Reiki means life force energy. Many of us refer to Reiki as Love, but love can be a tricky word. Love is multi-complex. To some, love means romantic love or adoration or a form of affection. I prefer using the term Reiki because it simplifies these complex ideas into simply offering positive energy to one another. In Reiki, intentions are extremely powerful. Sending loving wishes to others is… Read More

Waves Joy is never gone, it is simply forgotten. Energy is everywhere, even in the waves. I believe in our human potential. I believe our natural disposition is JOYFUL and WHOLE. I want balance. I don’t want to have my guard up anymore. As my kids grow, I get more and more worried for their safety. But what is safety? Are we ever really safe? How can I know if being on… Read More

Pain Specialist & Yoga Instructor Ginny Hamilton now watches from inside as her fourth grader gets on the bus. Perhaps she shares a comforting hug with her son’s special stuffie, reminiscing about his early years. Pigs, time, and things that fly, in this month’s Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting.

Let It Be

I believe in energy and unseen entities. There was a time I thought I might be clairvoyant and intuitive. My inner guidance was strong. I was confident I was making decisions that were ideal for me. Being a Reiki Master and Teacher, I felt aligned, but then doubt came back – a dark, familiar figure. I was meditating one day and I saw only darkness and shadows behind my eyelids. I was looking and searching and trying to find answers. As I struggled and sat more to meditate for guidance, I grew more and more frustrated by my opposition. Was the universe ignoring me? I thought I must be useless or forgotten. I was lost.

I began to get stuck in this negative cycle of trying to meditate then feeling so incredibly alone. I sought professional help because my friends were telling me I seemed depressed. I criticized myself for everything I might be doing wrong. I had been so joyous for two or three years of my life, but now I felt like a failure and I kept telling myself I was a failure. In the cold, dark days of winter, I told myself I wasn’t earning enough money. I told myself I wasn’t looking attractive anymore. I told myself I wasn’t a happy person and my kids were cursed with me in their lives. I told myself I wasn’t successful. I felt like the failure I had feared all along. Sadness descended upon me. I cried for myself. I cried for the loss of my connection with Spirit. I thought I was doomed to sit in suffering, isolated. Was I being punished?

Perhaps a walk in the woods would help.

Moving, Sending, and Settling Family Energy

Have you ever noticed that some individuals are grumpy and some are joyful? Is it mood or energy? Energy is ever-present, all around us, but the question is: how do we direct it? That’s what matters most. Pouring our attention into positive thoughts and actions creates powerfully important increases in energy and lifts many people around us. Charismatic people are enthusiastic and energetic. Enthusiasm is contagious and powerful, plus it heals! Our words and actions impact one another. What we do and what we say is where our control and magic lie.

That’s not to say we all have to be perfect, but rather to raise our awareness and pour our attention into positive thoughts and actions. None of my suggestions in this column are meant to replace medicine, therapy, or basic science. Energy medicine is a complementary method intended to enhance other approaches. My personal goal is to show all people the value of their hearts, and raise their awareness about what they already have to offer of themselves in the form energy, touch, compassion, and positivity.

Each time I tutor a new student, it takes 3 or 4 lessons until they open up and reveal more aspects of their personality. Some kids open up immediately, but most take time before they ‘let their guard down.’ I believe love energy is the antidote to anxiety and guardedness. The more I genuinely care, listen, and ask questions, the more my students share their true selves. We live in a time where we keep our guards up, the outside world moves fast, and our minds get distracted. To gain positive energy, we need short, effective ways to open up, rejuvenate our attitudes, and diminish our stressors. Energy medicine offers unique ways to accomplish those points.

I’d like to share a few family methods that help with two specific types of energy shifts: daily practice and locking horns. These techniques are made for families of all sizes and kids of all ages. They can be modified to work for your family.

  Dear Sarah, The #MeToo movement has me wondering – how we can raise daughters who will speak out about harassment and abuse, and know that it is not their fault? Can you share your thoughts about this? Signed, Concerned Mama ∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞ Dear CM, I am raising a daughter too, and I share your concerns. I congratulate you for broaching this important topic. As parents, we are the earliest and best teachers… Read More

Time flies, gravity anchors us, and children grow. Maybe time wrinkles, children anchor us, and the universe grows? Pain Specialist Ginny Hamilton explores limits versus possibility, in this month’s Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting.

Q&A: 18 Recommended Winter Resources & Activities for Families with Special Needs in Western MA

When our readers ask, Hilltown Families does our best to find the answers. Please feel encouraged to share your favorite places in the comment section!

Jean Engle of North Adams writes, “Once the colder weather sets in, where are the best places to visit and socialize for parents and children with special needs? Are there any specialized activities?”

Holyoke High School’s Adaptive Physical Education Program is an inspiration! Here’s a video of the program they held at Fitzpatrick Ice Arena to inspire other schools and communities to model a similar program in their area:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kzNPjcEqN0

Lisa Levheim writes, “It’s a little far from North Adams, but Whole Children in Hadley is amazing! They have after school programs and daytime programs for homeschoolers and younger kids.”

Swansea Benham Bleicher writes, “Most family centers will welcome children with special needs. Contact the Coordinators ahead of time if you are concerned: Northampton Parents Center, Easthampton Family Center, Belchertown Family Center, Amherst Family Center, Cummington Family Center, Gateway Family Center, South Hadley Family Center, Ware Family Center

Matt Sawyer writes,Ski Butternut offers skiing and snowboarding adaptive programs for people with special needs.”

How Things Work

What makes the car stop? How are car brakes different from bicycle brakes? Train brakes? Roller coasters? How do hydraulics work?

These questions pepper my days these days. Raised for sugar, spice, and everything nice, my mechanical engineering knowledge is woefully inadequate. Thankfully, in his updated masterpiece on machines, The Way Things Work Now, author David Macaulay and his illustrated mastodons describe the inner workings of the toilet tank, stapler, and radio, along with Wifi and RAM. And hydraulics.

I’ve been reading about the power of pressure. When a fluid is compressed, it exerts pressure in all directions.  A container not strong enough to withstand the pressure will leak or otherwise be damaged. Properly contained, the fluid will transfer the force of its power into the world around it.

When our children encounter difficulties, when they run into brick walls or have a problem that needs to be solved, we need to meet them where they are, help them grow with what they already have in a way that they can.

“Safety is what we want for those we love. Autonomy is what we want for ourselves.” Hearing this quote on NPR, Pain Specialist and Yoga Instructor Ginny Hamilton recalls leaf piles and solitary play. The possibilities and perils of the darkened yard, in this month’s Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting.

Hilltown Families List of Weekly Suggested Events

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240"] To find out about more event, be sure to visit our Suggest an Event Bulletin Board to see what our readers have recently shared! Have an event to share? Feel encouraged to self-post community events here at any time![/caption]

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program, or service-learning opportunity happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, self-post your event at any time on our Suggest An Event bulletin board. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness, and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools, and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Click HERE to find out more.

Hilltown Families is currently recruiting our newest Interpretive Writer and Development & Sales Officer. Click on the banner above to see the full job descriptions, as well as a slew of other available volunteer and intern positions. We look forward to hearing from our community!

Bulletin Board

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="40"] Sep 23[/caption]

Join The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst on Saturday, September 23 for Elephant & Piggie Art-ventures with Mo Willems and Tom Warburton! In We Are in an ART-ivity Book!, Mo Willems and Tom Warburton have created the first-ever Elephant and Piggie activity books, full of hands-on fun! Meet Mo and Tom. Get books signed. Take your photo with Elephant & Piggie, watch films, and create art! Book signing from 12:30 – 2:30 pm. Limit 1 book from home/unlimited books from The Carle Bookshop. Can’t make it to the event? Reserve signed books online, call 413-559-6333, or

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="40"] Sep 23 & 24[/caption]

The 19th Annual North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival is September 23 & 24 from 10am-5pm in Orange, MA. There’s something for everyone at this fabulous family destination. Over 100 booths are vibrant with local artists, farmers, fabulous food, chef demos and skills for local living. Enjoy amazing music, performance, spoken word and dance on three stages. New! ‘The World We Love,’ a giant handcrafted globe in the kid’s activity tent- add your vision and join the celebratory parade at the end of each festival day. Plus hula-hooping, horse-drawn hayrides, and garlic games all weekend. Only $5.00 adults, Kids 12 & under are free! More for travel/parking info and program visit www.garlicandarts.org; Follow festival updates daily on Facebook.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="40"] Sep 25[/caption]

Monday, September 25, 2017, 10am-3pm: Soar into spring with Homeschool Day at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT. Open exclusively for homeschoolers and their families, and featured activities include: hands-on build & fly challenge activities, interactive flight science demonstrations, open cockpit experiences in historic aircraft, aircraft quests, fight simulators, and more! Virtual Flight Center access available for additional $5 per person. Tickets available for purchase on the day of your visit on a first come first served basis. Pre-registration required. Children ages 3 and under admitted free. www.neam.org for an online registration form. Please call 860-623-3305 x313 for questions.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="40"] Add your class[/caption]

Hilltown Families has put together an After-School Classes & Enrichment Programs Directory of classes and programs happening across Western Massachusetts throughout the school year. Our community is rich in learning opportunities to supplement the interests of children, teens, and life-long learners and our directory makes it easier to find these gems while connecting families with resources that support their interests and education. — Have a class or program you’d like to include in our directory? Click here to find out how to have it added. New and updated opportunities are added throughout the year.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="40"] Add your school[/caption]

Hilltown Families Preschool Directory: Are you looking for a preschool that fits your child’s personality and reflects your family’s values? Check out our growing Preschool Directory, covering all four counties in Western Massachusetts, and find the perfect place for your young one! — Have a school you’d like to include in this list? Click here to find out how to have it added.

ADVERTISE HERE: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your summer camp, class, community event, school, open house, audition, homeschool program, workshop, volunteer opportunity, wellness program, local business, after-school class, or non-profit featured here in the Bulletin Board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and in our weekly eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! Find out more about our advertising options and how you can partner with Hilltown Families in your online marketing by emailing us at at sales@hilltownfamilies.org.

Become a Contributing WriterJOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community-building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish, and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to info@hilltownfamilies.org.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
September 23rd-29th, 2017

SaturdaySunday
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Suggest an Event | Cultural Itineraries | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter | Farmers’ Markets | Storyhour & Playgroups| Berkshire Family Fun | Advertise/Sponsorship | en Español

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“Hilltown Families has made it oh so easy to in a few minutes find fun outings and events for our family. It’s also a wealth of information about this wonderful place that we live in. Thanks for making it so accessible.” – Amy Cullen (Williamsburg, MA)

A tale of two trees. Both serving specific purposes. One providing beauty and respite from the ugliness of the world, greeting those who visit our home with a cheery disposition and pink petals waving. The other doing its part for the universe as well. Acting as shelter to our beloved chickadees bringing sweet music to our backyard. A tale of two very different trees; neither more useful or useless. Neither one better than the other. Both immensely loved.

“My daughter only has one set of grandparents,” writes Logan in her column this month. “And while my husband’s mom and dad love her dearly, they are both in their 90’s and not in any position to be truly involved in her life. I used to lament this. Worrying that somehow she was missing out on that grandparent kind of unconditional love that is such a blessing. But watching my son interact with my daughter, I have come to realize it doesn’t matter WHO that kind of love comes from, just that it exists.”

Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting

Potty training? There’s a book. Sleep training? Plenty of step by step approaches. How to ride a bike? YouTube tutorials galore. How to be honest? Ginny’s sources aren’t on the library’s parenting shelf. In this month’s “Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting,” she asks honest questions about honesty.

To My Son on Your College Graduation

In this month’s Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting, Pain Specialist & Yoga Instructor Ginny Hamilton shares how she is trying to drink more water, one little way to care for herself so she can better care for others. Share your examples of self-care by 11:59 pm Tuesday 5/3 for a chance to win a free pass to her upcoming mini-retreat on Saturday morning, May 14th.

We call vacations “a breather” for a reason. Pain Specialist & Yoga Instructor Ginny Hamilton and her spouse recently took a grown up vacation. In “Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting,” she reminds herself about the importance of taking a breather, and of just breathing.

Optimism is a gift, but resilience is home grown. Contributing writer Sarah Mattison Buhl explores how to develop resilience in ourselves and our children.

“But without that wealth of experience, my children won’t know what they are worth. They won’t know of their courage. They won’t know they have the moxie to steam-engine forward. So, unfortunately for this mom-who-needs-to-fix, those kids of mine will need to proverbially ‘fall down seven times and stand up eight’ and I cannot nor should not take those valuable moments from them.” – Read more from Logan this month in “Hindsight Parenting.”

Pain specialist & yoga Instructor Ginny Hamilton is committed to answering her young son’s questions honestly. Even about sex. Even in public. Deep breaths and pregnant pauses, in this month’s “Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting.”

Parents, especially expectant and new ones, are inundated with free advice. What’s a friend to do when ASKED for ideas about parenting in our crazy world? In this month’s “Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting,” pain specialist and yoga instructor Ginny Hamilton shares the memorable advice from her early days as a mom.

What a great time of year to tell stories! Share family stories. What was this time of year like when you were little? What holidays did you celebrate? What special activities did you do? Boost family memories by telling stories about a special day spent together. Create new mysteries and adventures. What if Jack Frost did paint the windows with snowflakes? What does he look like? How does he get around the earth? Spark ideas to get your little ones telling stories and playing fantasy games. Storytelling improves vocabulary, writing and spelling. It’s fun. Stories can lead to hours of pretend play with parents, siblings, friends and visiting cousins using dress up, toy people, construction toys and tiny animals. Stories encourage children to create images in their minds bringing the story to life. Make illustrations! All ages can create stories with spoken words, drawings or detailed written tales.

The Gift of Myself I do not have the ability to support my children monetarily. I admit that for a long time that could sometimes get me down, especially during the holidays. There are so many things that I wish I could get, buy and do for my kids; cars and college tuition, toys and tech, a modern sleek house they could be proud to bring their friends to, well-needed vacations and… Read More

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