Christina Connors: Orchestrating Change in Early Education Through Christina’s Cottage’s Mindful Melodies
In an era dominated by relentless pursuits and escalating pressures, Christina has masterfully woven the threads of compassion and resilience into the fabric of Christina’s Cottage, her groundbreaking initiative designed to foster emotional well-being in young children through the enchanting realms of world music and mindfulness-based creative play.
This feature in Global Woman Magazine delves into the rich tapestry of Christina’s two-decade expertise in massage therapy—an odyssey that has not only shaped her understanding of adult stress but also sparked an innovative vision for cultivating serenity and strength in our future generations.
The journey toward this pioneering program, suffused with lessons of simplicity, heart connection, and the transformative power of being present, has led to a vital sanctuary that seeks to quell the noise of a tumultuous world for both children and their families. Join us as we explore the nuances and aspirations of Christina’s labour of love and her aspirations for a legacy that resonates through the echoes of her harmonious sanctuary—Christina’s Cottage.
Christina, over the past two decades, you’ve cultivated a thriving massage therapy practice. How has your day-to-day interaction with stressed parents inspired the ethos behind Christina’s Cottage?
The number of young parents requesting my massage therapy in their homes to help them destress has increased tremendously over the past 4 years. Even though my professional licence is for massage therapy, it’s not unusual for my clients to share with me their daily stressors as well as how they feel about all the uncertainty and chaos happening in our world today. Since I am not a licenced therapist, I just listen and empathise with them as they share with me how they are feeling.
I couldn’t help but think to myself, “How are the young children managing the ups and downs of their daily lives when their parents are so stressed out, busy, and disconnected from themselves?” It was at that moment that it became very clear to me that there is a need for more nurturing programmes to help support young kids, their families, and teachers in staying emotionally regulated, compassionate toward themselves and others, and resilient in our overstimulating, ever-changing world we are currently living in. Christina’s Cottages’ mission is to do just that! To strengthen young kids’ (and their families’) innate resilience, heart connection, and joy through world music, mindfulness-based creative play, and the power of the heart.
Throughout your career, you’ve witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by your clients in their quest for balance. What have been some of the most poignant lessons you’ve learned from these experiences, and how have they informed your approach to Christina’s Cottages?
Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned are the importance of keeping life simple, not sweating the small stuff, and always remembering that, in the end, we will only regret time not spent with those we love. I witness too many people getting caught up in the “keeping up with the Jones” mentality that they overwork themselves to the point that their health and relationships suffer. Why are they doing this? I believe that they are trying to fill a “lack,” a feeling of emptiness inside. an emptiness that the external world cannot fulfil. Basically, they are “looking for love in all the wrong places.”
In my 20 years’ experience working intimately with clients, I’ve learned that people are struggling because most of society doesn’t support nurturing the whole person, which includes body, mind, and spirit. Because of this, I wanted to be sure Christina’s Cottage incorporated both western psychology and neuroscience as well as Eastern wisdom approaches to wellbeing.
With global turbulence affecting everyone, including children, what defining moments led you to realize the necessity for a program like Christina’s Cottages?
In dealing with the global turbulence, I notice parents and children not only not feeling safe but also turning to overstimulating activities and programmes to help them “shut out” or “run away” from feelings of anxiety and fear around this issue. Whatever we resist persists, so at Christina’s Cottage, first and foremost, we needed to create an environment of safety and love. Once a child feels safe, they are open to learning and growing.
It’s fascinating how Christina’s Cottages aims to leverage world music and mindfulness to bolster the resilience of young children. Can you share how these elements were chosen and why they are essential to the program’s mission?
Now more than ever, we need to embrace the fact that our world is getting smaller. It’s important for all of us, including our young, to learn how to not only embrace cultures different from ours but to celebrate them while acknowledging our similarity. Preschoolers are the leaders of tomorrow, and I’m committed to helping children understand that no matter where anyone is from, we can celebrate each other, and what better way to do this than through a language we all share? World music.
Mindfulness has been shown to increase focus, attention, self-control, classroom participation, and compassion in young children. It’s also a great tool for anyone who is struggling with all the noise in our world. and it’s getting louder by the day. I personally have been practising mindfulness for over 20 years. It has helped me destress, stay centered, and stay grounded—qualities vital to being a successful massage therapist. Because mindfulness is such a huge part of my own wellness practice, I was inspired to develop a massage therapy technique called “mindfulness massage,” in which both myself and my clients consciously breathe together to be sure we stay present and relaxed throughout our time together. This technique has been transformational for both me and my clients.
Collaboration seems to be a crucial component of your new venture. How did your partnership with David Friedman come about, and what has this synergy brought to the table in terms of creating content that resonates with kids and adults alike?
It was 15 years ago, while living in New York City, that I heard my first David Friedman song. “Listen to My Heart,” sung by the late and incredibly talented Nancy Lamott From that day forward, I was determined to meet David. David is a multi-platinum songwriter, internationally known for writing songs that touch our hearts and speak to our souls.
I spent three years in New York City looking for David Friedman and hoping to meet him. After years of struggling in New York, I decided to move to Connecticut and focus on my massage therapy practice. Through amazing synchronistic events, David and I crossed paths at a spiritual centre in Norwalk, Connecticut, called the Unity Center of Norwalk. It was from then on that David and I became fast friends and spiritual family, and we have worked on many musical projects together. Because of David’s experience writing songs for Disney, he has this incredible ability to write songs that not only appeal to children but adults alike, which makes him the perfect fit as a collaborator for Christina’s Cottage.
I believe with all my heart that the success of any musical project is stamped with the energy and intentions of every collaborator involved. Because of that, all collaborators involved with Christina’s cottage must share the same intention and create from their hearts.
You’ve integrated your singing career and producing experience with your dedication to nurturing adults into supporting children’s emotional well-being. Can you discuss the transition from working primarily with adults to focusing on children, and the challenges and rewards that come with it?
Christina’s Cottage is dedicated to fostering emotional regulation and resilience for preschoolers and the preschooler inside each of us! So, whether I’m singing for an adult or a child, my intention is always the same. To reach the child within. Personally, I never lost my child-like nature to the business of adulthood. In fact, I believe it’s so important for adults to get back in touch with that preschooler within. To take the time to love, nurture, and heal that child and what better way to do it than together with their own children! Children can be the greatest gifts to their parents. Helping them become more conscious of patterns they inherited from their parents that no longer serve them and their children’s wellbeing. That is, if they choose to do the inner work.
Christina’s Cottages is evidently a passion project for you. How do you foresee your role evolving as the project grows and positively impacts more children and families?
It’s my hope to expand Christina’s reach by spreading the word far and wide that a programme like ours exists. Christina’s Cottage is a safe place preschoolers, and their families can go anytime they need help navigating the ups and downs of everyday life. Especially now as the world gets louder and louder. I see my role expanding to incorporate live programmes as well as collaborating with TV producers and networks to feature Christina’s Cottage on platforms other than YouTube.
In your journey to provide support and nurture to others, how have you ensured that you stay emotionally regulated and maintain your own balance?
Well, my husband will be the first to tell you that I’m not “always” regulated or balanced. It’s a daily struggle. But I have discovered tools along the way to help me stay regulated and return to balance, which I share joyfully at Christina’s Cottage.
Could you give us a glimpse into what a typical episode of Christina’s Cottage looks like and the core message you hope each child takes away from it?
A typical musical episode will start with our welcome song “Come as You Are,” which is a song that basically says, “If you’re feeling good or bad, come on in!” You are welcome.”
One of my favourite episodes is titled “It’s Not Bad to Be Sad.” It’s a scene between Christina and one of the seven Love Bugs, Amora, where they talk about feeling sad. Some of the lyrics include, “It’s not bad to be sad; sadness is just a feeling.” And like others you’ve had, sadness will come and go.” Grief, if not expressed and processed, can wreak havoc on our lives, so this episode is important to me.
The core message I want every child to take away from each episode of Christina’s Cottage is that they are loved, seen, heard, and accepted for exactly who they are and that no matter what life throws at them, they are equipped to handle it.
Now, looking at the future, as Christina’s Cottages blossoms, what are your aspirations for its long-term impact both in individual families’ lives and within the broader community?
I’m hoping Christina’s Cottage will be a household name. A well-being lifestyle that families and schools incorporate into their daily routines The songs from Christina’s Cottage are played in the car on the way to school to start their day and incorporated into morning circle time in preschool classrooms. As for the broader community, when preschoolers grow up and become adults themselves, I hope that the tools they learned at Christina’s Cottage stay with them as they contribute their own unique gifts and work together with others as a global community to build a better tomorrow. You can find Christina’s Cottage on YouTube at Christina’sCottage444.