I want to age like sea glass. Smoothed by tides, not broken. I want the currents of life to toss me around, shake me up and leave me feeling washed clean.  I want my hard edges to soften as the years pass – made not weak but supple.  I want to ride the waves, go with the flow, feel the impact of the surging tides rolling in and out.

When I am thrown against the shore and caught between the rocks and a hard place, I want to rest there until I can find the strength to do what is next.  Not stuck – just waiting, pondering, feeling what it feels like to pause.  And when I am ready, I will catch a wave and let it carry me along to the next place that I am supposed to be.

I want to be picked up on occasion by an unsuspected soul and carried along – just for the connection, just for the sake of appreciation and wonder. And with each encounter, new possibilities of collaboration are presented, and new ideas are born.

I want to age like sea glass so that when people see the old woman I’ll become, they’ll embrace all that I am. They’ll marvel at my exquisite nature, hold me gently in their hands and be awed by my well-earned patina.  Neither flashy nor dull, just a perfect luster. And they’ll wonder, if just for a second, what it is exactly I am made of and how I got to this very here and now. And we’ll both feel lucky to be in that perfectly right place at that profoundly right time.

I want to age like sea glass. I want to enjoy the journey and let my preciousness be, not in spite of the impacts of life, but because of them.

 

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Seems hard to believe, but according to a poll of 4 students that I know, there are only 21 school days left in the school year. Really. 21.

With a few big events behind us, like the Austin Maker Faire, a few house guests and getting our house on the market, I am ready for some solidly intentional days.  I want to make sure that events, practices and obligations created are events, practices and obligations desired.

My goals for these next few weeks…

  • Each day do my own work first.
  • Ponder each invitation before saying yes. Be they meetings, parties, or other. Not always easy for me, especially when faced with so many exciting things!
  • Schedule in spaciousness.
  • Put family time on the calendar.
  • Play outside more. And really just play more in general.
  • Turn my phone off at random intervals.
  • Schedule a couple of “spend nothing days” each week. Not even for the money but for the freedom from consuming. And the freedom from the many demands for impromptu spending.
  • Write a note to my children’s teachers telling them how much I appreciate their love and devotion.
  • Do one creative thing everyday.
  • Eat outside more.
  • Find a way to celebrate a school year completed by each and every one of my children.
This time of year, things seem to speed up a bit, so I’m going to be attentive to really slowing it all way down.

 

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Untangling the mess

Last night I was struggling with a knot in a pair of shoes. Pulling. Tugging. Trying very hard and getting seemingly nowhere other than really, really frustrated. Finally, in my  I”M FREAKING OUT IF I CAN”T GET THIS UNTANGLED AND IT”S TAKING WAY LONGER THAN I ACCOUNTED FOR AND…insert your own expletives here.

In retrospect it was a small matter but at the time it was taking all my energy, both mental and physical. It was silly really that I was getting that worked up over a knot. Ridiculous that I was giving it so much energy. And even more absurd that I was working up a sweat.

Finally I paused. I put the shoe down and went to do something else.

Later on, calmer and not in a panic of momentary overwhelm, I picked up the shoe again. I grabbed both ends and pulled. Not hard but hard enough.

And the knot came out. Easy as that.

The struggle. The freak out. The panic. It did nothing towards my cause.

The pause. The letting go. Then the returning with a new state of mind?

Yes, that was just the thing.

Lesson learned. From a shoe.

So either I’ll learn to pause when things feel out of control, or I’ll switch to Velcro.

 

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Aren’t my Children Marvelous?!

The other day I was walking with a friend. We were going on and on about all the marvelous things happening around us and all the marvelous places we had been that week and all the marvelous people we had met.  And it dawned on me, that that feeling I was having of being so completely blown away by the pure beauty of all these things, was exactly the parenting tool I needed to put in my toolbox.

I needed to marvel at my children.

Not in the bragging way that the title of this blog post suggests. Not in the oh wow they’ve won an honors award or  created a prosthetic hand for science fair or even passed all their classes. But in the way of just simply marveling. In the true sense of the word based on the  definition I found…

marvel. verb. 
1. to wonder at (usually followed by a clause as object): I marvel that you were able to succeed against such odds.
2. to wonder or be curious about (usually followed by a clause as object): A child marvels that the stars can be.
Everyday I wonder about these amazing beings of mine. All four them. So unique and yet so much the same.  Their own selves since the moment they were born and yet so much a part of me and each other.
Everyday I am curious about their existence. Wow. I made you in my body and now, here you are, learning to read, drive, do a handstand, write a paper, swim for miles, photoshop, even text, and ollie the 8 stair at the skatepark after a thousand attempts that I could not bear to watch.
Even the traits of theirs that make me blow a fuse,  like when they argue their point incessantly, or choose to stay up until 3 am because they were watching a movie they love or talking into the wee hours with friends, even those things are to be marveled at, when I can step away for a moment, and stop raging and really ponder what it is they’re doing. They’re defending their position, fighting for their desire, fulfilling a passion and creating deep, passionate connection.  And though the immediate result might be a fight, or a tired, cranky day, and though I might want to flip off said child in the moment, like Kelly Corrigan so astutely noted in her memoir,  in the big picture it’s all marvelous. Truly. A trait, a person, an act to marvel.
So today, and everyday, and maybe especially when I’m pissed, I’m going to try to remember to marvel at my children.
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Screen Free? What the?

The past couple of months have seen great changes in our household. We moved and everyone knows that’s a big deal – even if it is just 3 miles down the road. We had a couple of lovely long-term house guests – and even though that’s fun, it’s still a big deal. And, the number of screens in our house tripled by way of smartphones, laptops and tablets too. Needless to say I was more than a little bit distracted by life’s big changes and so screen usage was, well, let’s just say it increased significantly. And not just screen time mind you, but everyone on their own screen, small and big, with headphones on so in order to communicate you had to wave your hands wildly in front of their dazed eyes. WHAT THE?

While it worked for a little while and admittedly gave me what I needed personally in some regards, (leave-me-alone-I’ve-got-stuff-on-my-mind-tend-to-yourselves-can’t-you-see-I’m-busy?),  it did not give me what I wanted as far as family life was concerned.

Then last week’s ice day off from school was sort of the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back as we had an entire day of individual screens for all members of the family, plus headphones. And when even my 14 year-old said he was needing some parameters set around screens after that crazy day, I knew it was time.

I need some ideas and funny enough, I went to my own book, because I knew I had done this before! And I knew I had even written about it… “As our kids have gotten older and the number of screens have increased, we felt we were heading down the slippery slope of obsessive screen time…” So now,  just because the kids were older still and the screens had multiplied again, didn’t mean we needed to necessarily recreate the wheel.

So I opened to Chapter 52 SCREEN FREE, which isn’t about really being screen free, just partially screen-free in various times and places. And there were some ideas I knew I could implement again – things like screen free zones in the house and screen free hours during the day and a day or two of complete screen-freeness during the week. We’re going to start today and I think we’ll start with a little smart phone holding tank for all the tiny screens in the family. We’ll put them all together so they can keep each other company for those few hours of the day after school and before dinner.

And when the pre-teens come over this weekend to hang out and maybe even sleep over? I’m going to follow the lead of another mom I know who decided that pre-teen gatherings at her house would require each participant checking their phone into the resident parent. So that when they were all together they would be really together, body, mind and spirit.

That’s what I’m going for. Not totalitarianism, just a little more time when we can all be together body, mind and spirit too. Them. And me.

 

*If you want to do something official about your screen time, The Center for Commercial Free Childhood hosts an annual screen free week, during which you can create your own campaign at home, at schools or in your community.

 

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Drama around you…

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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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Your Best Year Yet Awaits

Do this one thing…

Because it’s too good NOT to do.

Starting at age 7 I had a paper route in our New Jersey neighborhood. I started with just 10 customers, a small section of my brother’s paper route that had been passed down from brother to brother. I wasn’t really very good at the sales aspect of things and even though I got a few more of his customers every year, somehow my route didn’t really grow.  Since then I have tried selling a variety of different things and I have learned time and time again that sales for sales sake is definitely NOT my forte.
But sales for the sake of something that totally changed my life? My parenting? My relationship with others? My work? My pursuit of happiness? I think I at least owe it to myself and to all of you to give it a try. And really, though I could go on and on about the work of Carrie Contey and the power of her year-long Evolve program and the clarity of her direction and the support of the community and the instruction and tools around the very basic idea that before we can get or create what we want, we have to KNOW what we want, I’ll just send you to the page that will speak for itself.
And having just done a one day workshop by her entitled, Your Best Year Yet, I encourage you to check out the blog post on this page entitled: 2014 IS YOURS!  
So, if you want to really rock the heck out of your 2014, personally and professionally, and if you want to figure out some ways to be a more connected, intentional person, parent, partner, and friend, and if you want to figure out exactly what it is you want to do with this life of yours, check it out. I guarantee you will be glad you did.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me. 

Hands Free Mama

A couple of weeks ago I received an advanced reader’s copy of Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford. The tagline below the title reads: A guide to putting down the phone, burning the to-do list, and letting go of perfection to grasp what really matters. Needless to say I was immediately intrigued!

In the book, which came out January 7th, Rachel starts with the story of her own journey; how she went from being completely pre-occupied and distracted with her family to making a conscious decision to do less in order to connect more. She even wrote a Hands Free Pledge to serve as a reminder of why she was making this decision and to serve also as a tool for staying connected to her goal of slowing down NOW instead of using the ubiquitous “someday.”

Upon further reading what I found were super helpful ideas, reflections, inspirations and musings on slowing down, connecting more and understanding simple ways to do-over when you forget what you really want out of family life. Laid out like a beautiful series of meditations without being the slightest bit pompous, this book serves as a way to contemplate where you’ve been, where you are now and where you want to be. Like my own book, (hear that? Oh? What is it? It’s the sound of me tooting my own horn!) it offers ideas from the super practical to the more contemplative. It offers ideas for setting intentions about how you want things to go, and beautiful metaphors for living the connected family life we all know and want.

This book isn’t suggesting you quit your job and go live on a mountain with your family, but it certainly offers some practical ideas for getting to that very feeling, even when you might be sitting in the middle of traffic.

It’s a feeling. And it’s one we all benefit from.

You can find the book at the usual places, and I highly recommend you do.

 

 

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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!

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