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Summer pause

I’m in New Jersey these few weeks – exploring my familiar motherland, seeing family and friends and really reveling in the fact that though many things have changed since I grew up here, there are many things that feel much the same. For example, the mountain at the end of our dead end street where I spent my first 11 years has been declared green space. The trees are a bit taller and the pathways have changed a bit, but knowing that it will be preserved for all time and for all to explore, gives me great pleasure.  I can go up there with my own kids, up on, “snake mountain” as we dubbed it, and hike, climb the giant rocks that jut out at the top, and make fairy houses out of the green moss and mushrooms that grow in every nook and cranny.

In these spaces I’m also getting to spend time with my 8 siblings, all their kids, my mom and a whole passel of cousins and other kith and kin. Lucky me! Lucky us.

We have lots of great late night talks around the lake or around the fire or around the kitchen table. Last night we were talking about allowing the lessons to unfold on their own – rather than forcing them or forcing ourselves to know what is next or what to do.

To this discussion my sister said, “We don’t have to know what to do as parents. We can trust that if we just pause, wait a bit, the answers will present themselves.”

I like this idea. It makes me think that maybe I can do this job after all.

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Happy Father’s Day!

On this day in our house we celebrate my husband and his amazing status as papa of four. A status that doesn’t surprise me, but I think still catches him by surprise from time to time. The kids made cards and a few sweet small gifts. And my older two kids saved money for 4 months to buy him an Ipod to record bird sounds so he could take it into the woods and call the birds to him. (yes, he’s a bird geek.) And we spent the day at home with little pomp and circumstance, but home all together to revel in the idea of being a family.

And on this day I remember my own dad too. Dean Charles Noll born 1927 died 2003. He was an engineer. An amateur magician. A teller of bad jokes. A loving husband. A public speaker. A lector at church. A world class runner. A carpenter. And a really great father of nine.

He died at home six years ago this summer and I was privileged to be there – as we are most summers. And one of my favorite essays I ever wrote I wrote about that experience. Happy Father’s Day Dad! I miss you so much.

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Slow parenting isn’t really all that new. It followed the whole Slow Food movement when the term was coined a few years ago by Carl Honore in his book In Praise of Slow, in which he uses the term Slow Parenting to talk about bringing balance into the home.

In the past several weeks, there’s been a lot of press about the latest swing towards slow parenting. Lisa Belkin, New York Times Motherlode Blogger extraordinaire, whose blog I follow religously, wrote about it in an article called Let the Kid Be. The Today Show had a segment with our own Slow Family, Carrie Contey on set. There have been blog posts galore and slow parenting is just on the general radar for being up these days. It is touted as being necessary in the face of the recession but it is also a bit of a backlash against the idea of hyper-parenting, or helicopter parenting, that has become so widespread in our society these days.

I’m glad about this movement and this discussion being brought into the mainstream. I think it’s time for people, families specifically, to find ways to slow down. But the part that is being lost in this current discussion, is the idea that Slow Parenting and Slow Family is about the idea of finding balance and truly connecting with each other and finding the joy in family life. Slowness is not just about slowing down and doing less, but about connecting with the whole process of parenting and with family life as a whole and with each individual family member as well. And that premise: slow down, connect, enjoy is the very foundation for this whole Slow Family movement of ours.

In all the teachings and writings of Slow Family Living, we really believe, and want to help others see, that family life can be the well where members go to fill up, to find inspiration and to have fun. We strive to provide the science, the practicals and the lens for understanding, believing and appreciating the richness of building and maintaining lifelong family connections. It’s not just about slowing down. Although that is a major part of it. It’s also about connecting and really enjoying family life. Finding the fun in it all and savoring it as it comes. And I guess the slowing down, the pausing, the really looking, hearing and seeing each other is what allows that connection to form and be sustainable for the lifelong.

Our children are only children for a relatively short portion of the whole parenting experience. Soon they grow and turn into adults with whom we have adult relationships. So this idea of Slow Family and Slow Parenting, it’s not about doing less or more. It is however about pausing long enough to really and truly connect. For now and for all time. And I firmly believe, above all else, that the connection really is what most people want. With our families, with ourselves, and with all the people with whom we encounter in a day.

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The end is near

The end of school that is. And with the end of school comes a crazy amount of activities. At a time when I think most parents are realizing all the things they need to get done, the amount of time and energy that is required of them on the school front reaches a fever pitch. Awards ceremonies, class plays and concerts, teacher appreciation events, class trips, and more are added to the calendar in a somewhat scattered arrangement. For anyone trying to scurry to get things done before the kids are home, or at least before everyone is on a new, random, summery schedule, it seems there could be less demand on parents.

I must remind myself to slow down and try to achieve some presence which can come so sparingly when we are rushing from event to event. Scheduling less doesn’t seem too possible right now so I try to at least add spaciousness to the getting to and fro. It at least helps take away some of the panic that can ensue when I am rushing from thing to thing.

And I have on my schedule this week to set some intentions for the coming months ahead. If I don’t do it now, the panic will definitely prevail!

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A local author, Jennifer Marine, has teamed up with the step-mom of her two daughters to write a book called No One’s the Bitch; Strengthening step families one mother/stepmother pair at a time. They will be hosting a free meeting for moms and stepmoms at BookPeople at 7:30, Tuesday evening, here in Austin to talk about the traditional “dirt” between the two women and some potential solutions.

It’s a great topic. And one so important for all members of the families to achieve greater peace and connection with each other. Get there if you can.

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Check out the interview I did with Jennifer Hill Robenalt for her Blog Talk Radio show Soul Lab. Jennifer is a writer, mother, publicist, blogger, spiritual seeker and all around fabulous woman. During our time together we explored the link between parenting and spirituality. Good stuff.

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Free Range Kids

Carrie and I like to play a little “what if” game when we are worrying about something or feeling fear or if we realize we’re anticipating that something will go badly. We allow ourselves to do the bad “what-if” – What if we fail? What if our car breaks down? What if they don’t like what we have to say?  But then we like to flip the feeling by also playing the good “what-if” in our heads. What if we’re a smash? What if they invite us back again for a bigger conference? What if we get there early and have time to take a swim in the pool before the meeting. It’s a great exercise and you can really feel the worry shifting as you move from the bad to the good. The same works for parenting too.

On the blog Free Range Kids, which is a great blog about allowing your children to have more of an untethered and more worry-free childhood, (which, by the way, then frees you from the anxiety too allowing everyone a little more breathing room) – they write about the troubles of the bad “what-if” scenarios which play out in the minds of so many parents. Which then causes people to live in a spiral of unwarranted fear.

I challenge all of you, parents and non-parents alike, to try our little “what-if” shifting game for yourselves. When you find yourself worrying too much about safety or wellness or other unknowns, try shifting it with a little good “what-if”. You’ll be amazed at how the worry and fear will just kind of fall away.  Then you can get on with living life the way you really and truly want to live it. Fear-free and to the fullest.

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Want to know what our Mother’s Day Full-Day Fill-Up is all about?

On this day we will welcome you into a peaceful, quiet, comfortable, nurturing space. We will guide you in exercises of breathing, meditating and relaxation. We will lead you into connecting deeply with yourself and with other mamas through writing, talking and even a little crafty goodness. We’ll serve you an incredibly delicious, healthy and lovely lunch. And we will give you the time and the beautiful space to rest, think, ponder, dig, talk, and just be.

If you want to join us, we’d love to have you! click here to register and read more…

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Future Craft Collective is totally getting into the family connection game. The latest on their site is the Family 3-day projects laid out in bite-sized chunks for easily attainable family crafting. The connection comes from the process and the finished projects as well.

Future Craft has spent lots of time crafting with kids to know how to make it fun and stress free and now they’re sharing their lessons learned with anyone that wants them. It’s sustainable crafting utilizing completely earth friendly materials that promotes sustainable family connection.

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We have, available right here on our website, a free Slow Family Living workbook. It is full of the whys, ways and how-tos of slowing things down for your own family, connecting and truly enjoying family life. The workbook has lots of questions for you about how you do things now, how and if they’re working for you, and how you might do them in your ideal slow family life.

People that have downloaded the workbook have really loved it. Some have printed it out and worked through it with their whole family. Others have printed it out and worked through it on their own. Still others have printed it out, admired it, and then set it aside for when they can find the time only to have it get lost in the shuffle of family life.  Sometimes we all just need a little nudge – and that’s just what this Slow Family Living tele-class is all about.

In the tele-class we go through the workbook, asking and answering questions about methods you can implement in your own desire for living a slow family life. We get to the core of your slow ideals and from there cover some brass tacks ways you can slow down, connect and really and truly enjoy family life.

If you want to take time to find more time, the next class is Monday night, April 20th from 8-10 pm central time. Join us if you can. We’d love to have you. Simply download the workbook. Sign up on our website and call in using the code you’ll receive from us. It’s easy. It’s a fun format. And you don’t have to leave your house!

 

(If you are uncertain of how a teleclass works you can read about it here…)

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