mainly music Blog

  • Most of us agree with the sentiment that it’s good to give! But the reality is that giving is not always easy. So why is giving ‘good’?

    Firstly, giving is good for those who are getting! Who doesn’t love a gift – no matter how small? A simple smile and word of encouragement can be enough to turn your day around. When we see others doing something for us – or giving something to us – we feel loved. We feel a connection to that other person, and feel as though that other person cares for us.

    Sometimes, though, it can be hard to receive. Sometimes we can feel uneasy or unworthy of someone else’s gift. But being able to receive a gift is being able to receive someone else’s care and affection.

    But giving is also great for the givers! The old saying that ‘it is better to give than to receive’ is true – and it’s been scientifically proven! Studies have shown that giving makes the giver feel good – so much so that volunteering and helping others is often suggested as a treatment for people suffering from depression.

    But like receiving, it can be hard to give. We can have so many insecurities about what we are going to give – will they like it? Will it be enough? Will it be accepted? Being able to give a gift is being able to consider your care and affection as something worthy of receiving.

    You see? Giving and receiving go hand in hand. Both acts require both people to understand their worth – that what I have to give has worth – and that I am worthy to receive such a gift.

    Both givers and receivers need each other – because no matter who we are, we want to belong and share life with others. The act of giving is at the heart of what it means to belong.

    One of the five core values of mainly music and mainly play is generosity. As volunteers, our mainly music and mainly play teams each week give so much of their time, energy and heart into their sessions. Parents and care givers give their time and attention to their little ones each week in music, story and song. And the little ones give us all their smiles, their giggles of contentment, and give us the joy of watching them grow and learn.

    And with of all of this giving to one another – we are all receivers!

    From the Bible: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6

  • If you started humming a tune in your head when you read that question – then congratulations! You’re demonstrating right now the power of great songs that were sung when you were young to help you learn and have fun! And you haven’t forgotten!

    Our neighbourhoods have always been an important part of our lives – they directly impact our physical and mental wellbeing. Knowing the people around you gives you and your family a sense of belonging and the security of connectedness – which is important for coping with every day life as well as being vital in times of an emergency!

    Unfortunately, modern life has thrown many obstacles into our communities. We are working longer hours, commuting further away, building higher fences and using social media rather than participating in real social time. In fact, a Statistics NZ study in 2015 showed that 44% of New Zealanders felt they did not have any supportive people living close to them – and the same year a Social Wellness study found that only 4% of New Zealanders strongly agreed that they felt close to people in their local area.

    So how do we get to know our neighbours? Where do we look to find them?
    For those with young families, the mainly music and mainly play group run from the local church can be a place where community connections happen. From the largest cities to the smallest towns, mainly music and mainly play groups have become important community hubs – and places where life-long connections and friendships have been made.

    No where was this better demonstrated than in Christchurch, after the 2010/11 Earthquakes. The city centre and people’s homes were in ruins. However, where they could, many mainly music groups kept going – becoming places where families could gather, kids could sing and play, and adults draw strength.

    Our neighbourhoods are not just to be driven through – but to be a part of. Which is why at mainly music and mainly play, we see connection as one of our core vales: you can connect with your child and with your community through your local church. And, of course, at mainly music and mainly play your children will learn great fun songs that perhaps they’ll still be humming many years to come!

    From the Bible: “Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up.” Romans 15:2

  • One of mainly music and mainly play’s five core values is celebration. Celebration is dwelling on the enjoyable things in life – noticing the extraordinary in the ordinary. Looking out at the world, it’s easy to get dragged down with all the negativity that is thrown at us – so it does take some effort to stop and celebrate!

    So it is worth it? What is the point of celebration? Well it turns out that celebrating is actually good for us in a number of ways.

    Firstly, celebration allows us to focus on the important things of life – it gives us much needed perspective. Celebrating one another and special events recalibrates us to not lose sight of the important things in life!

    Celebrating also gives us a sense of belonging! Gathering together to celebrate a shared joy bonds us as a group. To belong is a core need we have as people – and we can do it through coming together in celebration.

    Finally – celebration is actually good for your health. Scientists concur that celebrating makes you feel better. It helps your body produce oxytocins and endorphins – natural chemicals which reduce stress, boost your immune system, allow you to achieve more and even live longer!

    Which is all why at mainly music and mainly play we choose to celebrate! Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Easter, babies, children moving on to early childhood education or school, Chinese New Year, Matariki in New Zealand, Naidoc in Australia – there are so many reasons (or excuses!) to stop and celebrate!

    Celebration doesn’t need to involve an all-out party either. Just to stop and recognise is significant. Simple acts of kindness which are acts of love from the heart often have greater impact than bells and frills.

    So let us always find the reason and the room to put celebrations into our lives! It’s good for us!

    From the Bible: “... I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

  • We sat there and listened. The diagnosis: You have a rare tumour in your right eye. It’s a melanoma so you’ll need to also have a full body scan before we treat it.

    At that moment in time, the world doesn’t actually stop, but it slows down a fair bit. One week before, we thought of ourselves as ‘husband and wife, parents, grandparents, and employees’; well one just made redundant, the other working. Now we’re looking at one of us being, ‘a patient’.

    What happens when you’re faced with a situation like this?

    First off, I think you need to have some your thought processes already planned out. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, used to practice some of his plans, knowing that when he was in a state of crisis, some of the solutions were already laid out, already well-rehearsed.

    In life, I think that’s about having a perspective about the universe and what it owes you. For me, I don’t believe that God’s angry and trying to punish us when bad things happen. That’s not who God is. We, that’s my husband and I, already know this. We’ve been through some hard times before (you can check out my husband’s leg – it looks like he has been bitten by a shark; but it was actually a telecommunication pole that smashed it) and we know that God has remained true to who He is.

    I also think that some events in our lives are purely the result of consequences – when we’ve made a poor decision it’s the outcome. And because the world is broken, stuff just happens.

    I reckon if you haven’t sorted out your thoughts towards how the universe works, you’ll never be aware of God and just how much He loves and cares for you. You’ll think, ‘This shouldn’t be happening to me – to us – to our child.’ But in fact, ‘stuff happens’ to most people at different levels of intensity all over the world.

    If you think pain is evil or should be brushed aside, that’s not right either. You can’t experience health without knowing sickness or pain. You can’t appreciate the harvest until you know drought. You don’t appreciate sun until you’ve been in the rain. Or vice versa!

    Therefore, in the first instance, you have to be comfortable with the bigger picture. For me, I don’t think God owes me. He doesn’t owe me bad health or difficult times because I’ve been bad. I’m not good – no-one is. But bad health and difficult times aren’t things God deals out because I’m not good.

    And He doesn’t owe me good health, good times, and happy moments all the time either. Whether I have a relationship with Him (and I do) or not, God doesn’t owe me a ‘sweet as’ life.

    Secondly, if you hurry through pain, grief or sadness, you’ll find yourself missing the learning. Pain and sorrow have their place. Like I said before, you need to know sickness to appreciate health.

    There’s a Psalm you might know. A psalm is like a song or a poem. In the midst of it, the writer says, ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death’. He doesn’t write ‘run’ or ‘sprint’ … just walk. When you walk, you can look around for the moments and realise you’ve caught a glimpse of God’s light shining and realise He hasn’t dumped you in all this muck. When you walk, you can learn from the experience you are going through.

    Equally, the writer doesn’t say, ‘camp there’. That is, don’t dwell in that sorrow. Don’t let it define you. Don’t stay there and loose perspective. You have to keep moving through pain and through grief.

    God IS a God of love and at times, life’s circumstances can be moments of learning as equally as they can be moments of pure love – as in, you can sense that peace that passes understanding; you can become fully present to the fact that nothing can separate you from God’s love.

    Back to the rare melanoma tumour in Steve’s eye that has a 90% chance of returning in one year. Go figure! While we’re in the midst of all this, I’m not praying fervently for healing. I’m praying for trust. For more trust. Healing would be nice. But actually I trust that God has healing sorted; that He actually knows what’s best. I trust that God loves me and my husband, Steve, more than my brain can fathom, and therefore I can trust He has my back. I may not agree, in human terms, what this looks like versus what ends up being the outcome. But if I trust, I’ll be surprised by the unexpected.

    If I don’t trust, I’m sure I’ll take matters in my own hands. I’ll sort the solution out for myself. Be a sort of god to myself with my own preconceived ideas of what a god should do. I’ll be heaping crap upon the crap we’re going through. I’ll probably not hear His small voice because I’ll be too busy trying to get every medical professional involved as possible. I’ll probably not be surprised by His delicate provisions. I’ll miss Him whispering my name.

    Whether we’ve found ourselves outside of what we thought was a great marriage.
    Whether we’ve been hurt by the fact that we’ve been dumped.
    Whether we’ve never had our own kids.
    Whether one of our kids has died.
    Whether we’ve heard, ‘You have a rare melanoma tumour in your eye’ …

    God is a great God.

    Thoughts by Jo Hood, International CEO of mainly music, who is walking through an interesting time of life with her husband, Steve.

  • My marriage hasn’t always been great. If you’re interested, you can read the story and about what we learned in Love Happened.

    But these days, I have a whole new perspective of how to live a happier life and a more satisfied marriage. If you’re not married but are committed to your partner, I’m pretty sure the same principles apply.

    Thank you

    We have made ourselves more thankful of the little things. Just about every morning, my husband makes the bed. And as often as I get the chance, I say, “Thank you.” I could think, “Nah, that’s too basic.” But I like to not only be grateful, I also like to keep a stance of thankfulness. It spills over into other aspects of life. Thankfulness is something to be practiced to keep it in the flow of life.

    When he’s made dinner, I try and sort the dishes. This time, we thank each other. Not in a soppy Hollywood style. In a genuine, “Thanks for dinner” including something that I liked about it. And I often hear him say, “Thanks for doing the dishes. I could have done that.” But no – he cooked. I can contribute by doing the dishes as often as possible.

    Here’s our idea – catch yourself saying, ‘Thank you’ and really mean it.

    No ‘you do this so I’ll do that’

    Earlier in our marriage, it was easy to think, ‘if I do this, then surely he’ll do that.’ And the ‘that’ was usually something I wanted.'

    Nowadays I like to do ‘this’ just because – just because I love him. No strings attached. This takes a bit more getting used to at first. But then it comes naturally.

    Sometimes I hear people talk about how they’ve gone out and purchased an item because their spouse or partner spent money they didn’t agree to. But that usually hurts twice because the second thing is bought out of spite and it’s often something you can’t afford anyway!

    Here’s our idea – find ways to act out of love for your spouse or partner. Just because you love them.

    I told you that yesterday

    Oh boy – don’t think I’ve got this one sorted. I still catch myself … and it’s usually with a bit of a tone attached. It used to bug me that my husband didn’t remember the things I had told him. If I rewound the tape, it was probably because I talked while he was watching television, playing a game on the computer, or catching up on paperwork. I notice these days he pauses the TV, which I know is a privilege of the system we have.

    What made me more aware of this was the fact that earlier this year, my husband was diagnosed with severe sleep apnoea – in fact he was getting six minutes of sleep every hour and frequently stopped breathing. No wonder he wasn’t remembering everything we talked about or everything anyone talked about. What a difference a CPAP machine has made! It certainly gave me a jolt about not being so harsh and giving some space to my listener.

    Here’s my idea – when the listener forgets, repeat yourself, with no tone; instead with a graceful response.

    Summing it up

    If our most important relationship isn’t working, rather than consider it’s all the other person’s fault, it might be that adding more partnership and less transaction to our interactions could help. If more marriages fail over holiday breaks, then any holiday patch we get to in the year needs extra attention. And if we put these activities into the mix of everyday life, then well find ourselves enjoying the holiday breaks more.

    And if we enjoy our marriage or committed relationship, it stands to reason we’ll be happier and healthier and our kids will love the atmosphere in the home.

    Hope you find these thoughts helpful.
    Written by Jo Hood

     

  • mainly music is a fun and social time for the whole family – but it’s also much more than that!  There’s  physical, spiritual and educational connection points in what we do.

    Here’s a summary of an article from the Brainwave Trust Aotearoa about how we can help our children develop in a complicated world.

    Why Parents can be Real Super-Heroes!

    You probably don’t need to be told that parents need to have super-powers – just getting through the night sometimes requires super-human strength!

    Superman and Wonder Woman are called upon to Serve, Rescue and Protect.  And while we may not wear a cape (although…you may!) our role as parents also requires us to be the servers, rescuers and protectors in our children’s lives.

    In her article “Our own set of scales:  risk and protective factors”, Sue Younger from the Brainwave Trust Aotearoa describes how we all live with an unique set of scales – with risk factors on one side, and protective factors on the other.  Young children need us to try to minimise their risk factors, and maximise their protective factors.

    Risk factors for young children include poverty, stressed or depressed parents, family conflict or violence and alcohol or drug abuse in the home.

    Some of these things we have little control over – however the good news is that there are protective factors which can even out and counter the risks.

    According to Younger, protective factors for children include:

    • People around you who listen to you.
    • People who talk with you in a positive way, in language you can understand, and who encourage you when you do something good.
    • People who sing to you.
    • People who read to you.
    • People who spend time with you.
    • People who play with you and make you laugh………………and many more!
      Sue Younger, Brainwave Trust Aotearoa

    You really don’t need super powers to be your child’s protector.  But if you are there for them, minimising their risks and maximising their protection – you are indeed the real super hero in their lives.

    To read the full article from Brainwave Trust Aotearoa, click here.

  • mainly music is a fun and social time for the whole family – but it’s also much more than that!  There’s  physical, spiritual and educational connection points in what we do.

    Here’s a summary of some research from the Brainwave Trust Aotearoa about healthy parenting in these moments of connection:

    Backbone Parenting:  Love and Limits!
    We know every child and family situation is different, but if there was one sure recipe for happy, healthy kids it can come down to two key factors:  love and limits.

    First comes Love.  Our first primary job as parents is to love – to love fully and unconditionally.  Caring for a child’s emotional needs is every bit as important as their obvious physical requirements.  You cannot love a child too much – you can not spoil them with too much love.  Love, expressed through physical touch, talking, smiling, singing, dancing, telling stories, mucking about together and just being silly – all builds a strong foundation for a secure, happy child from which they can grow, learn and explore their world.

    “Every bath, every nappy change, and every cuddle are opportunities to help a child feel loved”

    • Keryn O’Neill, Brainwave Trust Aotearoa

    Limits -  providing structure to their world.  Secure on a love foundation, every child needs to have their world constructed with clear and consistent limits.  Your children look to you as their guide to discovering their world – and they are not stifled but rather flourish under firm but fair limits.

    Limits needs to grow with your child – the more they are able to understand, the more we need to explain and help them understand the rules.  When they are younger, boundaries tend to be more physical (preventing our young explorers from hurting themselves); but as they grow boundaries and limits are there to help them learn acceptable and appropriate behaviour.

    Love and Limits:  the two go hand in hand.  They form the backbone of our parenting journey – and it’s not a short trip!  Parenting is often described as a marathon – not a sprint!  And the best possible start for your family begins with both Love and Limits.

    To read the full article from Brainwave Trust Aotearoa, click here. https://www.brainwave.org.nz/love-and-limits/

  • You’ve probably been to a mainly music session that focused on the message of Easter this week, maybe last week, and for some of you, the group might repeat the session after the Easter break.

    Maybe the message of Easter is spinning in your head and you’ve got a few questions.

    Recently I entered into a conversation with a gentleman who I literally bumped into – he was looking for a book to jump off the shelves in a retail store. I was buying one for my cousin from that section, and as the gentleman looked lost, I recommended the book I had read and was buying.

    As I was about to go out the door of the shop, he bumped into me again. This time to show me that my recommendation had been taken up and he had a copy of the leadership book I recommended. It was in this interaction that a discussion about the meaning of Easter took place. I’ll bring you into the discussion which occurred following my explanation of a couple of leadership learnings I had had after reading the book.

    Man: “I think moments like these are magic.”

    Me: “I don’t think of them as magic. I think of them as God moments.”

    Man: “Yes, I do too. Like God is everywhere, in everyone, you know, like in all things.”

    Me: “Well, the God I’m talking about is the One who I know through the life of Jesus.”

    Man: “Oh.” Pause. “Then can I ask you a question?”

    Me: “Sure you can.”

    Man: “I’ve heard Jesus dying on the cross for my sins is a free gift. How does that work?”

    Me: Picking up a Doc McStuffins puzzle box from the display next to where we stood!

    “If I wrap up this gift with nice paper and a beautiful bow and say to you, Here’s a gift for you. And you take it and put it on a shelf. You admire the paper. You admire the beautiful bow. But you never actually open it. Imagine that. Imagine never knowing that I’d given you a Doc McStuffins puzzle. Imagine never having the pleasure of making up that puzzle.
    Well, that’s like Jesus. He’s the free gift from God. Reading about Jesus’ life in the Bible and taking note of what He did and putting it in action helps us understand who God is.
    But if we never read the Bible and if we never pray and talk with God and if we never put His teachings into action and believe in God, we never get to open that gift. Just like the Doc McStuffins puzzle. It’ll sit on the shelf and we’ll never understand who God is and how much He loves us. We can read about Jesus’ life and what He taught in the New Testament section of the Bible.
    The great thing about the Christian faith as opposed to other faith systems is that God has given Jesus as His free gift whereas other faith systems require you to do life better and do actions that are deemed to be good so that you will be liked by that god.”

    Is that how you’ve understood this gift of Easter?
    Will you leave the free gift on the shelf or unwrap it and check out what Jesus did and taught and in doing so, find out who God is?

    If you’d like a copy of the New Testament, that this gentleman agreed he needed to read, talk to your mainly music leader – or send me an email with your address and I’ll arrange a copy for you – johood@mainlymusic.org.

    Jo Hood wrote this posting after her real encounter in a Whitcoulls store (this was not written for a blog – it’s not faux news – it actually happened, despite how random that sounds). One of her favourite New Zealand stores is Whitcoulls and she hasn’t found anything quite like anywhere else in the world.

  • The concept of “attachment” has found its way into much writing and talking about parenting, but what does it mean, and more importantly, how can parents help their child to develop a secure attachment?

    Attachment is the lasting emotional bond that a child forms with a specific person that provides safety, comfort, soothing, and pleasure. Almost all children will develop an attachment but the nature of attachment varies, depending largely upon the care-giving style of their parents. Children who are securely attached are more likely to be resilient under stress, have better relationships, and enter school ready to learn.

    Drawing on attachment research a group of American psychotherapists have developed a user-friendly graphic illustrating the different needs children have of their parents, named the Circle of Security (COS) (Cooper, Hoffman, Marvin & Powell, 1998). The hands represent the parent, and the circle represents the child moving away to explore and coming back when necessary.

    Interested in more? Download the full article including the graphic from The Brainwave Trust  - CLICK HERE

    To develop a secure attachment, children require their parents to fulfil two key roles. First, (on the top half of the circle) the parent’s role is to be a secure base from which the child can move away and explore their world. For a baby this may be subtle, looking away from mum as something catches their interest, for a toddler with new-found mobility, it may be more obvious! This is an important role as it is through exploration that a child’s learning occurs. Children are more likely to explore when they feel safe and look to their parents for cues that it is OK.

    Being emotionally available to our children is necessary, just being physically present is not enough and even very young children will spot the difference, as adults do. For example, imagine how different it feels to talk to your partner who is really ‘with’ you compared with when they are listening - while watching TV!

    It can be helpful to consider what lies behind our children’s approaches to us. For example, asking for help with a task like putting on their socks may be more about seeking emotional support than actually requiring our help. Recognising this helps parents to respond more effectively to their child’s needs.

    Maybe you have found sufficient help from this short portion of the article. We’d recommend you check it out completely by referring to the downloadable resource.

    Written by: Keryn O’Neill, MA PGCertEdPsych
    Brainwave Trust Senior Researcher
    Published in the newsletter of Brainwave Trust 2016. First published in June 2010.

    Used by permission in partnership with Brainwave Trust.

    For more information about the brain – www.brainwave.org.nz

  • Recovering from an Earthquake or anything that's given you a BIG fright

    1. Be Gentle on Yourself and lower your expectations of what you can achieve. During an event like this you use your adrenalin to get through. Just like a credit card where you use additional resources, the bill still needs to be paid. It is as things settle down you may feel very tired and struggle to concentrate. Nothing is wrong, your body just needs to pay back the emotional-physical debt it incurred. Rest more, take time out and do what replenishes you.

    2. Retrain your 'crisis' response. When you the face danger of an earthquake the 'crisis centre' of your brain remembers it and remains on high alert for anything that seems similar. 'Something similar' can then cause the same intense response. This is why a mild aftershock will feel like the big one. Notice your stress response; don't stress the stress. Take slow, deep breaths to calm your body. Reassure your brain like you might a young child, "Thanks, adrenal gland, I don't need the adrenalin, nothing is wrong." Consistently doing this will help in your emotional recovery

    3. Relax and find sleep again. When your body is stressed and you're on high alert it is difficult to relax and hard to sleep. This breathing technique can help move you from stressed to relaxed. It's 5-5-5-5. Sit or lie comfortably. Breathe in through your nose for the count of 5 (till your lungs are at full capacity), hold your breath for the count of 5, breathe out through your mouth slowly to the count of 5 (until fully exhaled). Do this 5 times.

    This helpful insight was written and published by Richard Black and the Strength to Strength team. For more helpful insights & tools head to www.strength2strength.co.nz
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Women’s refuge
Sophie left, with her children, and few belongings from the abusive environment.

mainly music sessions she attended during her stay at the women’s refuge provided a time of joy and fun, for both her and her children.
You can help little families establish themselves in times of trouble.
Prison families
Pregnant and behind bars, Amy faced doing time for crime. Inside, with her baby, Amy attends mainly music sessions. The joy she shares with her child and the attachment activities she participates in will set baby up with a secure foundation. It’s a short window of opportunity to make change.
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