Archive for 'events'

This time of year seems to sneak up on me and every year it causes both excitement and dread.

School? Lunches? 6am alarm?? NOOOO!!!

Regular schedule? 8 hours of working at home alone? Earlier bedtimes? HOORAY!!!

For the past 7 years we’ve had our elementary school Back to School Clothes Swap. In the past 3 years we’ve added a book swap too. Both have been hugely successful.  This year I just don’t have it in me* so this post is to help those that want to organize their own. (or take on the Zilker Elementary swap??) You can do a big community wide swap or just do a smaller one with friends. It’s a great way to both purge your own closets and get your family the things they need to get back to school. Goodness knows summer sees a lot of growth and those pants from kinder just aren’t gonna cut it for 1st grade. Unless of course you’re into clam-diggers. Which you might be! In addition to saving money and consuming less, the swap is a super fun way to encourage kids to take style into their own hands, create their own get-ups and not fall victim to the marketing machine which really preys on families during back to school time.

Our school swaps have had as many as 500 people attend. Our motto being, BRING WHAT YOU CAN. TAKE WHAT YOU NEED. There are no limits, no tracking of who brought what, no money exchanged. Just bring it if you can. Take it if you need. And here are my simple steps for…

  1. What we’ve learned about how to throw a successful community swap.
  2. How to throw your own swap on a smaller scale.
  3. The option to take on the task of running the Zilker Swap. (well for this just email me and I’ll hook you up!)

10 STEPS FOR ORGANIZING A COMMUNITY WIDE CLOTHES SWAP

These are a lot of work for 2 days with a HUGE return. There are no committee meetings required and really can be created with not that many committed folks. More is better of course but not mandatory.

  1. Secure a large space like a school cafeteria or gym or the like.
  2. Alert an area thrift store that you’ll need a pick up at the end. Here we use Goodwill because they come in with a truck and bins at the end and take EVERYTHING. If you haven’t planned this in advance, it’s a big task but you can have everyone take a carful to their local favorite thrift or charity.  There will be A LOT left over.
  3. Get a cohort who can help you steer the ship. (this is crucial because it not only makes it easier but makes it more fun)
  4. Put the call out for volunteers to help set up and help the day of the event. You don’t need many but you will need some. The final clean up at the end you can just wrangle anyone who is still there picking through items.
  5. Pick a day and allow drop-offs the day before and the day of ONLY!! Do not try to take things days or weeks in advance unless you can have them dropped off in the space you will be using.
  6. Try to get a screen printer who can organize the screen printing portion of things. A screen printer is total value added. By having a screen printer you can make some clothing that might be unwearable because of a stain wearable. Plus, it makes the clothing options more fun and makes kids get excited about their expanded style options. If you can’t get a screen printer, continue without it.
  7. Get some sewists who can come with their own sewing machine. Set up an area for sewists where people can come and help mend, embellish or repurpose. You can also have a sewist making T-shirt bags. A GREAT and simple project which serves as a great swapping bag.
  8. Make BIG SIGNAGE for each sorting station. We tend to make different groupings each year but basic divisions like ADULT DRESSES. ADULT PANTS. ADULT BLOUSES. ADULT T-SHIRTS. For the kids item divide by size such as INFANT. TODDLER. 6x-12. You can also break this down further into bottoms and tops but it’s not imperative. Especially for the infant items, just toss them all in together.  SHOES can all go together as can COATS. Perhaps in a cold climate you’d want to break that down by size but here in Austin we just threw them all in together.
  9. On the day of the swap, as people come in with their bags, have them sort their own items. In the past we’ve had people drop off their bags and then have volunteer sorters put them out on tables but we’ve learned that it’s easier to have each person sort their own stuff. They know best what’s in there so it’s faster and more efficient. Have a couple of sorters at the front to both direct people and also to help those that might need assistance such as mamas with younguns.
  10. If you feel like having a mic, that can be fun to build excitement and also to alert people to specialty items such as a cool pair of boots or some such item. It might not be necessary but I am rather fond of microphones so there’s that. Also good at the end to let people know you need help filling the bins and sweeping the floor.
5  STEPS TO CREATING YOUR OWN FRIEND CLOTHING SWAP.
These are easy and require way less work.
  1. Pick a date and a location. You can do it in a house or even in a neighborhood park.
  2. Alert your friends and especially those with kids in various sizes. If all are the same the pickings will be slimmer. Expand your options by including families with different age/size kids.
  3. Sort your items as they come in: kids/adults/t-shirts/dresses/miscellaneous/etc.
  4. If you have a really small group you can just sit in a circle and do it show style. Pick an emcee (that’s usually my role!) and go through each bag item by item. Takes a while but is super fun!
  5. At the end each take a few bags to your favorite thrift or drop off bin. The bins are great because it doesn’t matter what time it is. Open all night!
*It must be noted that not only do I feel relieved not to be taking on this task but my children all thanked me.

 

 

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Special Giveaway to MomCom Life!

Last year I was a speaker at MomCom’s January conference. I went in to speak on the topic of building your tribe, and came out with the exhilaration of an entire day spent gathering inspiration. Truly. I was flying when I emerged from that room filled with hundreds of women of all creative ilks: writers, business women, artists, designers, entrepreneurs and idea generators. And my own talk, and the feedback I received that day, inspired this blog post  which I shared on Huff Post.

This year’s Mom Com event, on January 24th and 25th in Austin, promises once again to be an amazing couple of days of inspiring speakers, brilliant ideas shared by speakers, presenters and attendees alike, and unbelievable connections made with the hundreds of women who are there to have their creative minds blown wide open. Speakers like writer Glennon Doyle Melton, entrepreneur Bridget Dunlap and many more will be there to share what they know. If you can’t be there Friday and Saturday, at least attend just one of the days!

My own creative tribe, or mastermind group, consists of 7 women, myself included. We have been gathering for over 8 years and the work we have done together has been astounding to say the least – both personally and professionally. It is my utmost belief that when we work in collaboration, and with a sounding board that has your well-being in mind, remarkable things occur. When we work together we have more ideas, bigger dreams, support, encouragement and an accountability that can not be under-rated.

This year’s MomCom promises, once again to be an amazing day of inspiring speakers, brilliant ideas shared by speakers, presenters and attendees alike, and unbelievable connections made with the hundreds of women who are there to have their creative minds blown wide open. Speakers like writer Glennon Doyle Melton, entrepreneur Bridget Dunlap and many more.

As an encouragement to build your own tribe, MomCom is offering Slow Family Living readers and special 2 for 1 deal (or halfprice!) so you can grab a friend and give yourselves the gift of a day together sharing, listening, and totally getting inspired. Of course it’s hard to take an entire day to yourself, especially as a mom, but as we all know but don’t always remember, if our cups are empty, we can’t possibly replenish the cups of those around us – be they our families or our jobs.

If you don’t know who to take, think of a woman you know whom you’ve always wanted to connect with and ask her! It could be the beginning of a beautiful and powerful connection!  If you just need to go on your own, you can use the link below to get a half price ticket too! And just maybe that collaborator you’re seeking will already be there!

Here’s the link to the special deal which expires on Monday, January 20th at midnight. Come on. Treat yourself to MomCom 2014. Your family will thank you later.

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Austin’s New Year

I’m super excited to be participating in Austin’s New Year event this year at Auditorium Shores! From 5-10 pm. Come play, create, dance, watch, and be inspired! Come listen to music, ee amazing performances on the stage and on the sidelines. Ride with Austin Bike Zoo. And make mail art with me as I facilitate the project… Projection. Reflection.  A postcard project. It’s a project for all ages’that’s part writing, part craft. It’s a chance to look back at 2013. Who was there for you? Who inspired you? Helped you? Motivated you? Or just let you cry on their shoulder.  Then a chance too to project into the future. What do you want to do? See? experience? create? Write an inspirational note to your future self that will serve as a reminder to get going on your dreams!

Come find me there and let’s dream together!

YOUR Extraordinary Family Life

It was several years ago that Carrie Contey and I came up with the idea for Slow Family Living, after a workshop we did together. Though she handed the Slow Family reins to me a few years back, we still collaborate on many projects and on life in general. It is an inspired/inspiring web of new ideas.

Just recently we worked together on a web conference Carrie has organized with En*theos called YOUR Extraordinary Family Life, in which she has called together 15 amazing folks in the fields of parenting, human development, psychology, neuroscience, holistic nutrition, slow living and personal growth. And I am one of them! When I say amazing I’m  talking about people like Dr. Dan Siegel, Peggy O’Mara, Larry Cohen, Lenore Skenazy, Renee Trudeau and so many more. Needless to say I am HONORED to be counted among these incredible minds. I loved doing the interview with Carrie about Slow Family Living and I can’t wait to tune into to hear what all the others have to say!

The conference runs initially November 4-7th and then will be available online after that. It’s free if you sign up now. So might I recommend that you take a couple of minutes and go do that?

Bernadette + Carrie summer, 2013

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Carrie Contey, PhD is the co-founder of Slow Family Living, not to mention a super dear friend of mine. She has wise things to say about babies and children and parents too and I feel lucky to get to have her visit our “lab” of 4 children and 2 parents. It helps immensely!

Recently we were kind of struggling to understand the resident 6 year old as he made his way through the world with some big, giant emotions. Woosh! It was sometimes hard to take.

And then, something busted through. He is learning to read. And the other day? He started dancing like a madman. Truly could. Not. Stop. Himself. Tap shoes were flying and everywhere he went he was like an animated cartoon moving fast and furiously.

Today Carrie writes these wise words…

You know when your child is acting in ways that are hard to handle?

I’m talking about the times when that little growing person is doing the things that push your buttons and make you want to SCREAM (and sometimes you do)? 

Well, it very often means SOMETHING’S COMING. Read more….

Our little guy is literally TAPPING his way into a bigger, brand new human experience. And I’m going to try to remember that.

Thank you Carrie Contey! You are a dream.

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The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is a favorite organization of mine. They do a lot of really good work lobbying for rules and regulations about how and where children are marketed towards. They work really hard to keep our schools and school buses commercial free and they generally work hard to inform parents and children everywhere to be aware of the marketing machine that is working really hard to target children. Their work has definitely informed my own parenting and made me ultra aware of the power of the consumption machine.

Nowadays kids are marketed to at every turn. While eating breakfast and watching TV and walking through school and answering the phone. A lot of it is disguised as “information” or “entertainment” which is something I really want my own kids to be aware of. An informed and aware kid is not nearly as susceptible to the marketing tools as an unaware kid.

And I kid you not that more than once I have dissected the language in various catalogs to let them see that what they were trying to sell was a feeling. What they were actually selling were products. In one particular catalog that sells very popular and expensive dolls, one turn through all the pages and my girls were able to see that the languaging promised them, in no particular order: friends, love, happiness, security, popularity and adventure. It didn’t take much to decipher either.

And of course, the abundance of screens that are in our lives these days, in the form of TV, computers, tablets, e*readers and telephones, can be overwhelming bastions of advertising. Not to mention, creativity killers that take away our boredom, the very boredom from which many good ideas can come from.

With that in mind, The Campaign for  A Commercial Free Childhood is hosting Screen Free Week. Yes, you read it right. A whole week of Screen-free time for the whole family. Well, not counting work hours of course. But you know, that time the rest of the day that is spent spinning virtual wheels mindlessly searching, watching, wiling away the hours until bedtime.

What they’re suggesting is that we, as families, fill that time instead with, well, family time. In whatever way shape or form you can. Truth be told, in our house, the screen plays a fairly regular role. When the kids were little I controlled it more but now, with homework seguing easily into Youtube time or FB or whatever, (for me as well as them!) we are on the screens a lot. Especially if you count our collective hours – for 6 people.

Right now we have 2 school nights a week that are already screen-free and for next week we’re going to try to add a few more. It’ll take a little bit of intention on my part. And a decision to be a little more engaged in the evening that I sometimes am. Because I admit, when there is so much to do, it’s sometimes easy to have everyone plugged in and out of my hair.  So I’m going to ask that we shoot for 80% participation as a family. I’d say 100% but I feel like setting the bar a little lower will give us a little necessary wiggle room. Which this family really likes and requires.

So I’m going to buy a brand new box of big fat sidewalk chalk and then here, in no particular order, are 10  things we’re going to replace our evening screen time with next week…

  1. family games (Michigan Rummy is waiting)
  2. walk to the library
  3. craft projects (including using said chalk to make inspiring signs on plywood for all the drivers that pass on our busyy street)
  4. yard time
  5. basketball in the alley
  6. alley art project
  7. making cards
  8. writing letters
  9. getting ready for Maker Faire
  10. walks to the middle school track for family relay races
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Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Kristine Carlson, New York Times bestselling author of the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms series. We spoke on the topics of parenthood of course and siblinghood and slowing down and speeding up and love and life and death and the heart opening aspects of ALL OF IT! It was a beautiful conversation and though we had never met our conversation flowed as if we had known each other always. Perhaps because we speak a similar language on all of those topics.

You can listen in on our conversation, along with the conversations of 45 other speakers and authors, all on the topics of tending to the very heart and soul of mothering, how to stress less and enjoy your family more. My particular conversation will air on May 8th at 9am Central Time. The virtual “conference” will start streaming the interviews from May 1-May 10th*. You can sign up now for free and for 24 hours after the conference begins as a special Mother’s Day gift. Truly it should be an astounding event and I’m looking forward to listening in.

 

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Think the holidays are still a long way off? I know it’s still 80+ degrees here in Austin but I don’t think it’s too early to start pondering how you want your holidays to go. Not if you want to make some changes to the way it’s always been done. Not if you want to set yourself up for a thoughtful, happy holiday time. I talked to Vicky and Jen about this for their amazing show What Really Matters and they put together a beautiful little podcast on Creating Your Slow Holiday full of great ideas for taking out the hectic and adding in a little more love and joy. Listen to it! And then while you’re there listen to the show they did with Carrie a while back about slowing things down in general. That was chock full of good ideas.

And if you want to dive in a bit into your own ideas for Slow Holidays, there is an ebook. And even a teleclass that is on the books for Thursday November 29th starting at 7:30pm central time. We’ll go over the ebook and get to the source of how you want your holidays to feel, look, go. This year and all the years that follow.

You can make it how you want it. Truly.

 

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Women and work…

I met with Tina Hambly yesterday morning, the owner and founder and chief designer at Valentina Shoes; hip girls, happy feet. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but when she walked in I felt instantly happy by her presence. Maybe it was her casual and down to earth style? I expected someone more corporate perhaps? Maybe it was her sweet blue sweater with the giant red heart woven into it that seemed the perfect sweater for a woman who had followed her heart to a career.  Whatever it was, I felt quite satisfied sitting outside at a local café with my latte in front of me and Tina across from me – you know that satisfaction that comes from the feeling that you’re about to learn something cool?

Tina worked in the corporate world for nearly two decades as an event coordinator, and still does actually, when she decided to return to her design and fashion roots. With her then 6 year old daughter serving as her muse, she started Valentina Shoes; hip girls, happy feet. (And can I add, on a personal note, the thing that stood out the most to me and that I appreciated almost as much as the styles themselves,  is that there is not a heel in sight on these shoes for young girls!)

On October 24th, Tina will be speaking at the Texas Conference for Women on the subject of pursuing your passions, going big, following your dreams. She’ll be addressing the young women at the conference made up of high school juniors and seniors. She’s excited about meeting with them and hopes to share with them the idea of finding your passion, examining them and then taking active steps to truly follow them in a big, true way. I can only imagine how great it would be to hear that message at so young an age from someone who was living proof that it is the way to happiness and success.

She told me the story of making the leap into her own company and how she called up a man in Houston who had a similar company and she asked him for help. Without hesitation he shared ideas, lessons learned, and insights that were priceless to Tina in the creation of Valentina, “He spent two hours on the phone with me, having never met me before, sharing incredible information.” From that Tina learned that sharing is key. “Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Find the people who can help, find a mentor, and don’t be afraid to ask them for information.” Now when people ask Tina, she is ready, willing and able to share with others what she learned in a sort of Pay-It-Forward method.

Tina makes it a point to slow things down at home with her husband and two children. “We have dinner together just about every night. It’s a sacred time for me, a time when we can all connect with each other and get a glimpse into each other’s day.” She also tries to keep weekends for family and when that doesn’t’ always work out, Tina is super intentional around carving out specific blocks of time rather than having business bleed into family life all weekend long.”

With a growing business and a family to tend to, Tina is also careful to tend to her own proverbial cup – filling it with solo walks and time spent pouring over stacks of design magazines where she not only gets her relaxation but also design ideas for new products. “It’s crucial for me to get some solo time. It’s a time when I can check in with myself and also stir up new ideas.”

Tina is excited about attending the Texas Conference for Women for the first time and excited about sharing ideas with the young women in attendance. She’s also looking forward to listening to the many other amazing speakers and said her only dilemma really is deciding which talks to attend. If you are on the fence about attending the conference, just one glimpse at the list of speakers should spur you on to registering for this day full of insights, inspirations and big beautiful ideas. Whether you already know your passion, or are pondering just what it might be, surely this day surrounded by amazing professional women will be just the thing you need to take it to the next level and an opportunity to follow Tina’s advice to “get active in your passion.”

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Gretchen Rubin started a year-long  Happiness Project a few years back based solely on the idea of being happier everyday. As simple as that. She wanted to be happier and express more happiness and she wanted to share what she learned along the way.  She wrote a book about it called of course, The Happiness Project,  that is changing the world one simple happy act at a time.

As she conducted the year-long project that became The Happiness Project, Gretchen realized that her home, in all its aspects, was the most crucial element influencing her happiness.This year her new book came out, Happier at Home, about creating more happiness in the home and finding ways to make it all feel better; from the mundane to the major. Her idea being that we’re in it, we have to do it, why not do it happily?

On October 24th Gretchen will be speaking at the Texas Conference for Women, an all day conference of ideas, inspirations, networking, motivation and moving forward as women, in the home and business world. Our own Carrie Contey, PhD will be speaking with Gretchen in a breakout session and I look forward to the amazing ideas that will come out of those two brilliant minds sharing the same stage! Along with the host of other incredible discussions which will be had that day.

Next week Gretchen will be hosting a free teleclass around the ideas shared in her new book. Sign up is easy and if you’ve never done a teleclass before I am here to tell you they are a great way to go! Just dial in and listen as you move about your life doing whatever needs doing. Or, if you’re lucky, you can even listen while curled up somewhere still and quiet with just your headphones as company.

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