The Perks of Being an Old Lady

I’ve been hanging out with my mom these past couple of months. She’s 90. Turning 91 exactly one week from today. What nobody ever told her about being 90, is that whenever you tell someone your age they almost always reply with “WOAH!” or some other exclamation of equal shock and awe. She is, at most gatherings, the oldest living person in the room.

I have enjoyed shepherding her around town and I make sure that wherever we go people know she’s 90. I say it like a dare, “She’s 90! Huh? Right?” and I wait for their amazement, or some free swag that surely must come with being this old.  I use it to get into forbidden places, such as the parking lot at the University. “I’ve got an old lady in here,” I say to the attendant and they lift the gate without question and wave us right on through with a smile. I use it as an excuse for why I’m late or why I can’t attend or why we should get whatever table we want and why we shouldn’t even have to wait like all these other people who AREN’T 90.  And then of course there is the handicapped parking pass, which should come free with every 90 year old. Talk about swag! Downtown parking just got a whole lot easier.

liz as baby croppedBeing 90, almost 91, puts her birth year at 1925. She was born in Little Italy smack dab on Mulberry St. in the middle of Manhattan. I have a photo of her at age 1, standing on a cinder street in a multi-layered cotton shift and matching bonnet, with lace up black leather shoes, standing next to a wicker perambulator with big metal wheels. In the background is a pack of young boys playing stickball. In knickers. And little button down wool jackets and matching caps. I could not have photoshopped a more clichéd background if I tried.

This scene is in her lifetime. 90 years ago. And surely I don’t need to tell you that Manhattan doesn’t look like that anymore. And little boys no longer play stickball. In the street. In knickers.

90. It’s old yes. And much has changed since her humble beginnings. But if you think about 90, 90 is only 9 x 10. And from my own personal experience, 10 years goes by pretty darn fast.

My own last decade is but a blink. 10 years ago one of my walking, talking humans that I now count on to empty the dishwasher on occasion, didn’t even exist. 10 years ago my older sister was alive and now she’s gone and soon, if I’m lucky I suppose, I’ll be older than her. 10 years ago my oldest child had to be told each night not to forget to brush her teeth – and right this very minute? She is touring her 6 foot self around Europe without any input from me whatsoever. 10 years ago there was a lot I didn’t know, and today? I just accept that fact.

10 years. Woosh. A blink.

I arrived here on this planet 10 x 5 years ago.

10 x 2 years ago I had no cell phone and I had yet to make any humans. Now I have 4.  10 x 3 years ago I was living alone for the first time ever and my IMG_2929biggest worry was what to wear and what time to go out on a Friday night. 10 x 4 years ago I was working diligently on my cursive and wishing I could swing my legs from my desk chair like Judy Stagnitto. 10 x 5 years ago I was but a tiny babe in arms brought home and introduced all at once to my 7 older siblings. Before that I did not exist. Not that I know of anyway.

Woosh. A blink.

We should all be so lucky to live as long as my mom. I should be so lucky to have her live even longer. But when I break it down, the thing nobody ever mentioned, was the fact that what is considered a long life, isn’t really that long at all. We are here. We feel so crucial. We make some humans or maybe do some other stuff. Hopefully have some fun like tell a story on a stage. But then, in a blink, woosh, we’re done. We are hopefully mourned and missed. But a couple of generations later we are but a yellowing picture on an antique shop’s  wall.

Some might think it’s morbid but perhaps, instead, it’s freeing. We’re important yes, but we’re not all that.

There is a quote from Wings of Desire that has been echoing in my head for 3 x 10 years now, “I have a hard time believing that I who am I, did not exist before I came to be. And that I who am I will cease to exist, when I stop being me.

In the meantime, just like the visitors maps everywhere tell us, We Are Here.

And I for one am pretty happy about that.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Raising adults.

Dean and Dorathea Noll

Further proof that time flies.

The morning my 18 year old got on a plane to fly off to Europe with her cousin, I came upon a brand new human in the arms of said human’s brand new mama. The baby was 3 weeks, maybe 4. I tried to keep our exchange light but I cried as I spoke giving all the adorations due and speaking a few warnings too, “Oh so beautiful! Oh so tiring! Hold on tight because it’s a wild ride and TIME! SHE FLIES!!!” I had become THAT woman.

I remember the days of my early parenting when middle aged women and older would stop my cart in the grocery store to ogle my youngins. Their yearning was not for my baby really, but for their own babies now turned fully grown adults. “Enjoy it,” they’d say with eyes overflowing with tears. “Because before you know it, they’re gone.”

I didn’t know what they meant back then but I smiled at them as if I comprehended their tearful message. Those days of tending babies seemed interminable. The endless feedings and changings and night-time awakenings seemed like this was how it was and this was how it would always be.

But days passed. Years too. And suddenly my tiny newborn was navigating her 6′ frame into the airport for a curbside drop-off no less. “Fly little birdie, fly,” I cried, wanting to pull her back into the nest but knowing that her wings were already spread.

Sentimental tears come much easier to me now that I am 50. It is partly the age, partly the parenting and partly seeing that life can be short. I do not even attempt to hide the tears that flow and my kids chide me for my public displays of emotion. So, if you happen to see me and you have a brand new human in your arms, I will most likely approach you. Don’t worry, I won’t stay long, but I will stay long enough to breathe in the newness of life and warn you that truly, it is all a blink.

And we are not raising children. We are raising adults.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

bern drivingHere’s a typical scenario…

You’ve got an appointment across town and it’s a 15-minute drive. As your alert-to-depart goes off on your phone you hunch over your desk from a standing position. Yes, it’s time to go but just one more check of email, Facebook, Twitter, whatever. Check. Check. Check. Nothing urgent but still you respond to one of the emails AS IF. Now your scheduled departure is pushed back a few minutes and you’re rushing around gathering up your things in an effort to get out the door. Run out to the car, UGH, forgot your keys, rush back in and now, you have exactly 14 minutes to get from point A to point B.

On the ride over you are stressed. You keep looking at the clock as if it really matters. And honestly, you’re most likely driving like a proverbial bat out of hell trying to make up a minute here or a minute there. If you catch a yellow light you curse or speed through it. If you hit a traffic snare you honk and maybe raise a fist or a finger. You are amped up, your heart is beating way too fast and your blood pressure just shot through the roof. When you arrive at said destination someone asks you how you’re doing and you reply, “Oh! SO BUSY! SUCH TRAFFIC! SO MUCH TO DO IN NOT ENOUGH TIME!” Blah, blah, blah.

It’s an old song and one that is easy to stop singing if you really want to. Whether you are a corporate big-wig or a stay-at-home parent, the need to speed can be eliminated with just a few simple steps or by even choosing just one of the steps below.

Give your schedule more space. Whether it’s 2 minutes or 20, give yourself enough room to breathe between activities. Wherever you’re going to a board meeting or school pick-up, factor in just a few more minutes than you think you’ll need for seeing, connecting and enjoying the journey to get there. You will feel happier, healthier and won’t cause such a ruckus when you arrive. And just think how much more pleasant you’ll be in traffic!

Plan a pause. In each day, especially before a big presentation or big familial transition, schedule in a 2 minute pause. Set the timer. Sit. Breathe. Relax. 2 minutes. That’s it. (If you’re reading this and thinking “I can’t do that!” I’m sorry for you. Seriously.)

Do one less thing than you originally scheduled. Need to finish a project by week’s end? Or maybe get supper on the table before it’s time for bed? Look at your list of to-dos whether it’s written on paper or bouncing around in your brain. What’s essential? What’s not? Choose one thing to eliminate and by doing so you can actually create precious time. Imagine how powerful that feels!

Decide not to rush. Sometimes the feeling of rushing is more about the feeling than about the actual clock. When wrangling so many ends of a project or so many little people, it can feel like panicked rushing is the only option and if you don’t create a feeling of hurrying than nobody will get anywhere. Next time you are feeling rushed, make a conscious decision NOT to rush then simply move through the necessary steps of getting to the next step. Most often, when we let go of the panic, the calm that ensues makes us more productive than ever. And in the words of my friend and colleague Carrie Contey, Ph.D., “If you want to speed up, slow down.”

Pause before you RSVP. Whether you are invited to a party or a committee meeting, before you respond, consider the cost vs. gain for you and the work you are trying to do. It makes no matter if you are CEO or a SAHP, if it doesn’t benefit somehow, why do it.

Examine your commitments. Look at your calendar. Assess what’s on there. Meetings, parties, events, etc. Then ask yourself, “Is this working for me/us?” Ask weekly. Or monthly at least. If it’s working, keep it going. If it’s not, find a way to make a change.

Decide to be done. You will never really be done. So sometimes we just have to decide to be done. Close the laptop. Put away the calendar. Put down the broom. Just be done.

For now.

After you implement just one of these steps, I guarantee your next ride across town will feel so easy and relaxing that you might just wave someone in ahead of you.

Tags: , , ,

iphone december 2012 1278Today is December 1st 2015. It is the HOLIDAY SEASON!!! Perhaps for you it’s Christmas or Hannukah or Solstice or something you’ve created on your own. Or, perhaps you don’t celebrate anything at all, yet still, unless you hibernate for a month, it is holiday time.

I love this time of year for a lot of reasons. It’s time to ponder plans and gatherings. It’s time for connecting with friends and family in person and via snail mail. It’s time to purge in order to make room for new – whether those things be real or emotional! And it’s time to think more and more about kindness and peace and joy.

When I was growing up, the 8th child of 9, December was full of beautiful ritual. One of my favorites was when we would pick names and all month long we would do secret good deeds for that person whose name we chose. As one of the youngers, I was thrilled with this ritual. I would do things like make my siblings bed without them knowing it was me, leave a treat on their pillow,  or do one of their chores for them clandestinely. Each time we did a good deed we could put a piece of hay (which were actually strips of paper) into the manger. It was thrilling every time. And though the goal was to do it secretly of course there was a little more show than that.

This month in our house we’re going to implement this Good Deeds ritual as well. While 5 people participating might not be as exciting or mysterious as 11 people, I think it will still be fun. We’re still working out whether we’ll pick a name for each week or for the whole month as that might bring more joy to it all, but that we can figure out as we go.

Another ritual we’re implementing this year is about household contribution. Each day, I’ll ask, “how have you contributed to the household today?” The interpretation is up to them. Perhaps it’s a chore like emptying the dishwasher. Perhaps it’ll be to help a younger sib with homework. Or maybe it’ll be something as simple as walking away from a fight or giving a random hug. And while I’m kicking this off for December, this is one I hope to continue all year long.

What are your family rituals? What ones are from your youth and what ones have you created as a family? The reason I ask is I want you to know, how you do it is up to you*. There are no rules and there are thousands upon thousands of ideas to choose from. And what I like to remember too is these rituals we implement are supposed to feel good. There is no profit in suffering.

*If you need some help figuring out just what you want out of YOUR holiday season,  download the Your Slow Holiday workbook. I guarantee by the time you finish you will feel excited about moving forward into this season of light.




Tags: , , , , , ,

Hands Free Life

This fall just about all of my decisions have been made in the name of ease and balance. From morning routines to after-school activities to evening plans and homework and classes, all are filtered first through the lens of ease and balance. Not that we always achieve this ease and balance but always it is in our scope so that when we are NOT there we seem to know it quickly and we at least know that it is indeed a goal.

hands freeBecause of this lens I found myself with a bit of time this weekend to FINALLY dive into Rachel Macy Stafford‘s new book, Hands Free Life; 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better & Loving More. Right from the introduction I was convinced that this is one of those books that changes lives, “With a Hands Free view, you have the power to rise above the distractions of the world and see a clear path to what matters most.” Less distractions? Clear paths? Yes please. And this book offers practical tips for ways to get there now.

The message of Stafford’s book is so simple and so profound at the same time. It is written in such a way that even if reading a whole book is not in your future, it is easy to pick up and randomly choose a section or chapter to peruse. With chapters like, See What is Good, Establish Boundaries, Surrender Control and more, you can see that in these pages are lessons for all of us to create more of what we want so that we can find more balance , more presence and more heart connection with ourselves, with our families and with our communities too.

If reading a whole chapter is STILL too much for you to ponder, worry not. Throughout the book there are little “clouds” called HANDS FREE LIFE DAILY DECLARATIONs which are little nuggets to help the reader create daily habits. Things like, “Today I will seek two empty-handed moments…” “Today I will view the messy trails in my home as sacred evidence that living, loving, creating, and growing are going on here…” Even if ALL YOU DID was go through and read these little bits? You’d still get an amazing amount of loving, emotional, powerful and powerful information that truly offers a new lens on what we want, what’s important and what doesn’t matter a smidge.

I don’t do a lot of book reviews or recommendations, but this book so closely aligns with the goals of Slow Family Living and really offers ways to get where we all want to be, more connected, more satisfied, and more in love with our families.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Did you hear that sound this morning in Austin, TX? The sound of every self-employed parent in town exhaling simultaneously as the kids all made their way back to school? For parents, this time of year is like a new year of sorts; time to get moving, get on task, on schedule and make other resolutions of the mind and body.

Finally, we can look ahead beyond this week and make plans that we know won’t be usurped by the needs of a child on summer break needing a ride or motivation or a little loving kick in the butt to DO SOMETHING!! And speaking of doing something, might I recommend putting the Texas Conference for Women on your calendar on October 15th?

CSI: CYBERIf you’ve been before, you understand just how exhilarating and inspiring this conference can be. It’s a day full of amazing workshops, speakers like Patricia Arquette, Boyhood star, Robin Roberts of Good Morning America, and Candy Chang, Ted speaker and creator of the “BEFORE I DIE…” street art movement. Plus, endless conversations with women from all over the state who are there to share ideas, collaborate on new ones and build their network face to face.

The first time I went, I had no idea of just what an impact this day would make. It’s both a personal and professional punch and I guarantee when you walk out the door, you will high five at least one person and you will give a little fist pump at just how inspired you feel. I’ll be there at the blogger’s table (which I hope is front and center!) and I’m be giving away one ticket to join me at that table. (I’ll try to give you space to listen to the speakers but please note that in 8th grade I was nominated both Most Talkative AND Class Clown so I make no promises.)

If you want to win a ticket and join me at the conference share this post on Facebook and tag Slow Family Living or tweet the link and tag me @slowfamilymama. I’ll choose one winner on Friday 9/11 at midnight. If you don’t win a ticket, fear not, I also have been granted a secret password to get you $10.00 off the ticket price. You can purchase tickets here… and the password is… TXBG15

In the meantime, you can join in the spirit of the conference by participating in Candy Chang’s BEFORE I DIE campaign by sharing on your social feeds with #BeforeIDieTXWomen


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Look At Us Now

The making of a book is a super long process. It’s not all years of work rather it’s a few months here and a couple of weeks there and a few more weeks and tweaks and then a few months of processing and discussing and a bit of waiting and then, OH YEAH! I’VE GOT A BOOK COMING OUT!!! There’s a lot of people involved along the way and a lot of prep and a lot of planning too before a book becomes a book.

My new book still has a ways to go before hitting the shelves and will be out in Spring of 2016. In the meantime, here’s a little sneak peak at a sweet sampler created by my publisher, Perigee Publishing

look at us now sampler image

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Spring and Summer 2013 215It’s summer still. We are not clothes shopping. Or school supply shopping. Or even talking about back to school just yet. We are in the bubble of summer and we like it here.

At the beginning of the summer a few of us made summer bucket lists full of things we wanted to do in the 2.5 months of summer break. There were some simple things on there like try a Stand Up Paddleboard and eat ice cream while floating on a raft. There were some harder things too like learn to do a back flip. There were places to go and people to see. Books to read and games to try. It was fun to create the list at summer’s beginning and it’s fun to glance at it every now and again to gauge our success rate.

Now in the final leg we are checking our lists one last time. We’ve done a lot that we wanted to do and we know that makes us lucky.

What’s on your list as you enter this final phase? If you haven’t made a list yet, there’s still time! Add a few things you’ve already done then cross them off. Add some people you want to see. Or books you want to read.  Add some easy things and maybe a thing that pushes you out of your comfort zone. (like that back flip mentioned above!) And add some down time too.

Don’t let the marketing machine fool us that summer is over. Instead find or create your bucket list, and your bucket while you’re at it, and savor these last few weeks of summer break. According to my calender there’s still 1/3 left to go.


Tags: , , , , ,

Spring and Summer 2013 474I put a call out recently on Facebook because my 8 year old and I were looking for a good movie. As is often the case when we are ready for some connected screen time, we couldn’t think of one thing to watch. This is a non-edited, non-personally curated, random, in-no-particular-order list that came from nearly 200 responders. Already we have watched a few that are on this list and we have been quite satisfied. Enjoy!


I realize that every 8 year old is different. I realize that every family has different parameters for what’s acceptable. I realize that we all must be our own filter. So choose according to your needs and enjoy some screen time together.

Movies to watch with your 8 year old. (in no particular order)

  1.  Song of the Sea
  2. Nacho Libre
  3. Babe
  4. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  5. The Spiderwick Chronicles
  6. The Last Mimzy
  7. Explorers
  8. Sandlot
  9. Ghostbusters
  10. Chicken Run
  11. Kiki’s delivery (anything by Hayao Miyazaki)
  12. Wallace and Grommit
  13. Ernest and Celestine
  14. Harry Potter
  15. ET
  16. Monster House
  17. Home Again
  18. Robots
  19. Back to the Future
  20. Bye Bye Birdie
  21. Batteries Not Included
  22. Time Bandits
  23. Fantastic Mr. Fox
  24. Bedknobs and Broomsticks
  25. Herbie the Lovebug
  26. Pippi Longstocking
  27. Dr. Doolittle
  28. 9
  29. Parent Trap
  30. Duma
  31. Wizard of Oz
  32. Secret of Kells
  33. Secondhand Lions
  34. Born Free
  35. Horrible Histories on BBC
  36. Billy Elliot
  37. Princess Bride
  38. Astronaut Farmer
  39. Apple Dumpling Gang
  40. Iron Giant
  41. Frisco Kid
  42. White Squall
  43. Meet Dave
  44. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  45. The Wind Rises
  46. Welcome to Old Navy
  47. Wicked Tuna
  48. Arthur and the Invisibles
  49. Earth to Echo
  50. The Circus – Charlie Chaplin
  51. Barron Von Munchausen
  52. Gods Must Be Crazy
  53. Because of Winn Dixie
  54. How to Train Your Dragon
  55. Ponyo
  56. Coraline
  57. Dennis the Menace
  58. Back to the Future
  59. Wreck it Ralph
  60. The Princess Bride
  61. Never Ending Story
  62. Wall-E
  63. Box Trolls
  64. Harry Potter
  65. Secret of Roan Inish
  66. The Mighty
  67. Brother Bear
  68. Over the Hedge
  69. Meet the Robertsons
  70. Big Hero 6
  71. Paddington
  72. Hook
  73. Goonies
  74. The Incredibles
  75. ET
  76. Castaways
  77. Bad News Bears
  78. Never Ending Story


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Slow Tech + Slow Family

irules_bookpreview with textI know there’s lots of discussion and fear mongering around the topic of teens and tech. Much of it alludes to the fact that there’s a handbasket somewhere and it’s taking them somewhere we don’t want them to go.

Sometimes I agree.

And sometimes? Not so much.

Before my kids were teens (I know have 2 teens plus 1 just shy of teen-dom) I thought all tech in the hands of kids was evil and I thought I had to really get a handle on it and I thought that if I didn’t keep it away it would swallow us all up.

Now a few years in I have learned a lot. One of those being that I can let go, lighten up and trust that this amazing tool that gives my kids such incredible access to everything they ever wanted to know, might be dangerous in some regard, but mostly it can be used for good and can foster some good conversations.

I see that it helps my kids stay in touch with family and friends who are both near and far away. Cousins overseas can have daily contact with cousins here in the states. Summer friends made on the east coast can maintain connection all year long so that our return the next summer feels like coming home.  Dad who lives across town can touch in easily with text messages and photos shared from daily life. And I can access them anytime I want with a text message or a phone call and any worries I might be feeling can be put to rest once connection is made.

Of course there are conversations we need to have about what to share and when. Our own house rules we need to have like if we’re talking the phone gets put down. If you ask for a ride somewhere my reward will be your company. Choose real activity over virtual one any day. Nothing illicit should be sent out. Words you wouldn’t say to someone’s face shouldn’t be put on the interwebs. Snapchats are mostly temporary but a screen shot is all it takes to make it permanent. It’s like the note passed in class that somehow ends up in the wrong hands. And sometimes jokes made on social media aren’t always interpreted properly so again, watch what you say.

Janell Burley Hofmann made the iRules contract famous a couple years back and offered some really sage advice for her then 13 year old son as she handed him his first iphone. Simple rules that really made sense not just for social media but for life itself. A book that followed along the same theme called iRules and talks and workshops around the world followed suit. Janell offers an opportunity on her website for families to create their own iRules contract – one that works for them. Which I love because I am a huge advocate of each family finding the path and the methods that WORK FOR THEM! If you have teens or pre-teens and they are heading down the road to smartphone ownership, definitely check out Janell’s site.

And, if you’re in Austin next week, Janell will be speaking at a pay-what-you-want benefit for The Austin Tinkering School. She’ll be offering up some ideas for ways you can incorporate Slow Technology into your own family’s repertoire to insure that you can stay calm, creative and connected as a family without giving up technology all together. Ron Pippin of Outside Voice will also be speaking and offering up some creative ways for families to use technology to creatively engage with each other and put a whole new lens on your time together.

Come join us if you can. It’s going to be a super fun and informative night for parents of kids of all ages.



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
« Previous posts | Back to top | Next posts »