Tag: Carrie Contey

P1050471A few years ago my friend and colleague and co-founder of Slow Family Living, Carrie Contey, PhD, wrote this little reminder to mothers all across the U.S. of A. who were crossing their fingers, clenching their teeth, biding their time, and wishing upon a star that the Hallmark promised Mother’s Day would bring them all the feelings they desired on this day of maternal honoring. It’s good and bears repeating for all you new moms and old who are bearing down on this day that celebrates YOU! And all the amazing things you do!!! If you’d like to get daily reminders from Carrie about how to live a life you love, you can subscribe here!

A lot of women say they don’t care about Mother’s Day, it’s just a Hallmark holiday. But then the day comes and goes and, in fact, it did matter. Mother’s Day matters! You want to feel appreciated for the work you are doing. And you deserve to feel appreciated for the work you are doing. So here’s what I recommend… Tell the people around you what you want.

If you do have certain expectations, and, it feels like, in the past, the day hasn’t gone the way you would have liked it to have gone,

Take responsibility for your happiness.

:: Do you want the day off from parenting?
:: Do you want to be with your partner and children the whole day?
:: Would you like to be with your own mother? Friends?
:: Do you want to be outside in nature?
:: Do you want to run a few errands on your own?
:: Do you want some time alone? An hour…or 24?
:: Do you want to eat a certain meal?
:: Do you want to be surprised with something special?

Don’t wait for your family to read your mind or hope that they will magically just know what you want. YOU are in charge of your experience. Set yourself up to have a day of your choosing, if that is important to you. Set your family up to succeed. Because I promise you they want you to have a great day. And they want to know they made you feel as special as you are to them.

Give them the gift of helping them give you what your heart desires.

Right now take a minute and ask yourself, “How do I want to feel on Mother’s Day?” And then, “What needs to happen so I can feel that way?”

Be honest with yourself. Be clear with your people.

:: You expect presents? Great! Tell them.
:: You want to sleep in on Sunday? Communicate that Friday (and Saturday!)
:: You want to be alone in the house for a few hours? Fantastic! Let them know that and then brainstorm ideas as to how they can help you make it happen.

NO HINTING! People need clear and kind communication. The result? Your happiness and their success. I call that a win win.

I know what you might be thinking: “But if they loved me, they would know what I want. I wouldn’t have to tell them!”


Stop. Stop, stop, stop. People cannot read your mind. It’s not fair to expect that of others.

Asking for what you want = getting what you need.

Remember this on Mother’s Day and always…
To feel great you must communicate.
And be sure to appreciate – because what you appreciate, appreciates.

If Mother’s Day is something that matters to you, I want you to feel celebrated this weekend. I want you to have a fabulous, joy and love-filled day. You deserve it. Decide how you want to feel and then tell the people around you how to help you make that happen. They will LOVE you for this and you will get a day that feels oh so good. 



And if you’d like to hear more from Carrie, check it out here!

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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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Mother’s day is coming. The day to celebrate, appreciate, laude and commemorate. As it approaches I think, oh, it’s a gift shop holiday, who cares. I remember my own mom implying sort of the same thing except for the year my mom, who never swore, said to us kids as we were simultaneously handing her cards and fighting over the last something or another, “Oh mother’s day, schmothers day, it’s all bullshit.”

Do you dismiss mother’s day as just another hallmark holiday? But then when the day arrives think things like, “hey, how come you didn’t do anything for me???” As kids it’s hard to know what to do. Make a card of course, but then what? Make a fuss? Leave mom alone? Celebrate her all day? Or just give her space to not mother for a few hours?

My friend and inspiration, Carrie Contey has written up a great little post on just how to avoid falling in this trap. How to figure out what we want and how to make it happen without requiring those around us to interpret our thought process. As she so eloquently puts it – stating what you want = getting what you need. Done and done!

However you choose to spend it, whether your kids are big or small, near or far, I hope you take a little time to celebrate and honor your own self. I plan on starting the day with a few appreciations of my own, state my time for a little time alone in the morning, and then after that, I’m just gonna go with the flow. Outside. Where the flow is sometimes a little easier to get into.


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Carrie and I had a little hang out the other night. A time for setting some intentions about the weeks ahead. Getting clarity on what we want to put in and what we want to get out. We do this every now and again and at the end we always feel rejuvenated, reenergized, relaxed and sometimes redirected too.

 In all this discussion, the idea that kept coming up, was “how deep do you want to go?” We were talking about something rather specific but the more I ponder this thought, the more I realize it can serve as a guiding force for so much.

If we are scheduling our days and putting things back to back, the question is there as a guide, “how deep do you want to go?” If you want to go deep, don’t overschedule. If you want to go deep, keep it spacious. If you don’t want to go deep however pack it full and it will stay surface whether you like it or not.

If we are looking into our own psyche’s (as Carrie is wont to encourage) the question is there too and is totally up to us, the owner of said psyche. How deep do you want to go?

Try it. For love, work, play, bedtime, dinnertime, housecleaning, vacations,  exercise, grocery shopping, relationships, whatever! Just ask yourself, “how deep do I want to go?” Try it on as a guide and let us know what you think.

I’ve tried it already this week and the information that has come back to me with this one simple question is really quite profound. Pair it with “is this working for us?” and I think we may have the answer to all of life’s situations.


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South By Slowing Down now

sxsw at josLast week in Austin, TX we had approximately 200,000 extra folks visiting our fair city. Yes, those zeros are all in the right place. Between the film fest, interactive fest and music fest, Austin was running on some high energy for a couple weeks straight. It was exciting to say the least. And exhausting too! For all of us.

 The school’s spring break coincides with all of this March madness and so makes for a perfect excuse for us as a family to wander the streets in search of good music, friends, and tons of fun. And that is not a figure of speech. With windows open to the spring winds, music was quite literally wafting in from every direction. Bands were set up in parking lots and backyards and alleyways and make shift stages and this whole town was rocking. The funny thing was, all week long, we barely left our little 10 block circle. No need to really because while I know there was stuff all over town, one didn’t have to wander far to get a taste of South by. And driving across town these two weeks took on a whole new meaning. So we biked, walked and hung out day after day in our own little n’hood.

Starting Wednesday we’d head out late afternoon in search of whatever band was playing. At some venues we knew the schedule ahead of time and actively sought out bands we liked. For others, we were just winging it, coming across whatever band was there. Other times we went where we knew we’d find friends, and then there were those chance meetings in the streets which would determine our next direction. The kids come and go with a little more freedom and the candy store down the street becomes a nearly daily occasion.  A total free for all fun fest.

Friday my oldest had a craft market in the yard with a friend and together they made over a hundred dollars selling sewn wallets and jewelry and woven scarves. People were here from LA, Chicago, NYC, London and even one guy here from South Africa. Meanwhile her younger sister sold $50.00 worth of lemonade on the sidewalk talking with people from all walks of life and all points on the map.

By Sunday afternoon we were feeling a little crispy. We hung out in the yard all morning and afternoon and then, after careful deliberation, decided to take in just. one. more. show. Knowing it was close made the decision easier. Knowing we could retreat if need be made it seem like a chance worth taking. And so we headed out. Packed up some pesto pasta for dinner and biked down the street to see friends. Knowing Carrie would be there made it that much more inviting!

We ate. We danced. We played. We visited. And then. The fighting began. It was quite quickly evident we had reached our fill. And then some. Still brawling we headed out. Waving goodbye as we departed. By 6:30 we were back at home. In the bath and shower. Chilling in the yard. Big exhales. Getting ready for the week ahead.

The end of SXSW is always a little bittersweet. We’re ready to end the party. Ready to exit the mayhem. But always a little sad that the festive free-for-all fun is over. But always glad too that it’s time for a little familial slow down yet again.

A big exhale. A recap of the week. And voila, family life is ours again.

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Spring tune-ups available!

There is so much going on this time of year! And so much excitement in the air for these deep blue skies and increased access to outdoor living. Austin always feels so energized this time of year as the big music festival draws near and visitors galore come from all the chilly corners of the nation for a little sun, fun and music. It’s so, so divine to say the very least.

Here at Slow Family Living, Carrie and I are gearing up with all sorts of fun classes, workshops and even a one-day camp for girls! If you are looking for a spring tune up for family life or self, we’ve got the goods right now. If you are in Austin and looking for a one-day camp during Spring Break, we’ve got that too. So much to list! And so much to discuss. Spring is the perfect time to work on that connection we all so long for – connection to self, to community, to ideas and of course to family too!

Here’s a listing of what’s coming up…

Homeschool Ponderings teleclass! Monday, March 21, 7-9:30pm Central Time (8:00 Eastern)

Think Homeschooling might be for you? Or are you currently homeschooling and want to alleviate any anxiety about the process? Have you often wondered how to start? What might be involved? What your family might gain or lose from the homeschool experience. Read more here…

Parenting 3, 4 or more teleclass! Thursday, March 24, 7:30-9:00pm Central Time (8:30 Eastern)

Are you parenting 3, 4 or more or pondering such a move? Do you need ideas and information on just how to create the most connection with each member of your family AND build connection as a unit? Would you like to discover some ways of generating harmony in your comparatively crowded house? And at the same time figure out ways to keep yourself more grounded? Read more here…

Girls One Day Spring Break Camps - Monday March 7th, 9-4:30pm and Monday March 14th, 9-4:30pm

This is a one day camp run by Bernadette Noll for girls ages 7-10 who would like to spend time during spring break discovering, crafting, singing, learning and exploring all that life has to offer. Together we will ponder the power of our creative selves and our connection to the world around us. Read more here…

New Mama and Baby Circle – 6 Consecutive Tuesdays Starting March 22 10:30-12:30

This six week class, facilitated by Carrie, is for mamas and their in-arms babies. During our time together we will hare the joys and challenges of early motherhood and read more…

Parenting Your One Year Old. Parenting Your Two Year Old. Parenting Your Three Year Old. Parenting Your Four Year Old. Mondays Starting March 21. 7:15-9:00pm Each class stands alone.

Wow! Each age brings such different surprises and challenges! Carrie will lead you through each age presenting you with tips and tools for meeting your child where they are. Read more…

Join us if you can!!! October 2009 138We’ll be cozy as kittens. Or mice. Or gophers.

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Pure Play Kids

PPK-INTERNET-AdIf you have been reading this site over the past couple of years you would know that we are big fans and proponents of allowing space in a child’s life for pure imaginative play. In imaginative play there is so much creativity and inspiration and development for those growing brains of our kids. Without ads, children can learn so much about themselves and the world they live in, without sway of billions and billions of dollars of commercial influence. 

Recently we were introduced to Pure Play Kids – a toy company started by Mike and Tania Grant who were on a quest to find the best possible playthings for their own kids. “After examining every aspect of the children’s products industry, it became clear that much was wrong with how children’s products are designed, manufactured, marketed, sold, used, and discarded in the United States. Pure Play Kids was formed to fundamentally improve the marketplace for children’s products and to provide parents with superior choices for raising their own families. 

Play is the work of children, and toys are the tools. Play is sacred, and toys should be cherished. Through unstructured play we nurture our imaginations and develop emotionally, socially and cognitively. Pure Play Kids stands for toys that are kid-powered (not battery-powered), open-ended (not pre-programmed), and will grow with kids (allowing parents to buy better, not buy more).”

Visit their website. Find out about their mission of providing beautiful products that are kinder to the world we live in. And read about the Living Room Impact test which states that Pure Play Products will look far better occupying all rooms of your house than will plastic toys!

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Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting

What does family time look like? It’s different in every house of course with the ultimate goal being time together, connection. In our family some of our favorite family time is outdoors – in the yard, on our bikes, romping in the neighborhood creek or anywhere else outside. It’s a noise thing I’m sure, the outdoors seems able to absorb it all. It’s a space thing too as the outdoors seems to have room for all of us and all of our motion filled selves. That’s what works for us.

Just last night, with the first cold air of fall we had a bonfire in the yard after dinner. Just an hour or so in the yard, fire roaring, everyone playing. It was the ultimate way to wrap up our weekend and get ready to begin another week.

I was talking to a friend last week who told me her family of four all does Kung Fu together. They all go. Mom, Dad, and 2 daughters too. They all get to exercise and at the same time they get a slated hour twice a week to just be together building memories and creating connection. It’s on their calendars. They all love it – especially the teenager in the house. And she said even if they’re feeling kind of snarky or otherwise cranky, family Kung Fu holds the power to bring them all together and minimize grumpy impact. The family that kicks together, sticks together kind of thing.

I love this! And it makes me realize even more that family time is different in every household. I’d love to know what others are doing in the name of family connection.

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**NOTE: A glitch in the system with the discount code has been fixed! So go forth and subscribe.

If you’ve been here before you will know that Brain,Child; the magazine for thinking mothers, is one of my favorite parent magazines. It’s been called the New Yorker for the parenting set. It’s got amazing features, fiction, essays, news, debates and more. Nary a parenting how-to in sight. Just recently they raised their rates, with good reason of course. But from now until October 4th, Brain,Child is offering a special suscription deal to all our Slow Family readers.

Here’s what they have to say…

For ten years now, Brain, Child magazine has been publishing award-winning essays, features, debates, humor, fiction and news about parenting, in all its glory and all its challenges. Between the covers of each issue, we tackle topics that span the gamut of childrearing–from babies to braces and beyond–and that range across the whole breadth of the parenting experience, from homeschooling to slacker moms, from homebirth to international adoption, from debates about co-sleeping and toy guns and teen sex to in-depth features on the state of fatherhood, the eco-housewife movement or cosmetic surgery for mothers. Brain, Child is a community, created by and for avid readers who enjoy thinking about what raising kids does for the mind and soul.

Winner, 2010 Utne Independent Press Award for Best Social & Cultural Coverage
“Brain, Child invites “thinking mothers” to share everything–the joys of parenting, the sorrows, the hiccups–in each exquisitely written, sharply edited issue. There’s no sugarcoating here, but neither is there complaining: just reflection and wisdom to spare.” –from the Independent Press Award announcement.

As a special offer to Slow Family Living readers, we have extended our deadline: We will continue to honor our old subscription rates just for you!

To order a one-year subscription for $19.95, enter coupon code SLOW1. To order two years for $34, enter coupon code SLOW2.

No limit on the number of subscriptions! Good for renewals AND gifts. Offer expires October 4th.

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Is this working? (for us.)

Though the temperatures here in Austin hover in the high 90s and the calendar still shows a few more weeks of summer remaining, it sort of feels like fall around here. Since school started up nearly 2 weeks ago, the shift into new regimens and routines and rituals has begun.


It’s been sometimes easy and sometimes hard in our house. Two kids that are going to school like their teachers. That’s easy. One that is homeschooling likes her schedule. That’s easy too. The wee one wonders where the kids are going every day and he misses them. That’s hard. Bedtime comes at the time when just 2 weeks ago we were heading to the cold springs for an evening dip. That’s hard to give up. But easy to fall asleep when the day has begun so early. And speaking of the day beginning so early, well, that’ hard and doesn’t really seem to ever get easier. No matter how long we do it. If we had our way, school would begin at 8:45. That would feel natural. But 7:45 never. So that’s hard. We’re biking to school everyday which came about because the van was in the shop. That seemed hard to be without.  But now we;re biking everyday because we like it. It feels easy. Way easier than trying to navigate the sea of anxious cars trying to beat the bell in the morning. And as the days pass, each day we remember something we knew last school year but forgot over the summer. Some are easy. Some are hard. Some we get used to. Some we don’t.

But the thing that keeps us going, the thing that keeps us from feeling out of control, the thing that keeps us connected or at least brings us back to connection when we might otherwise have lost it or when we actually DO lose it, is one simple question: Is this working for us? We’re asking it on many levels right now. And though we don’t have the completely clear answers, just asking the question is the very beginning of bringing us to where we want and need to be.

So, as you return to school schedules or job shifts or money issues or playdates or  parties or chore charts or bedtime schedules or whatever stuff is a part of your family life, ask yourself that one question: Is this working for us? It’ll help get you where you want to be. Seriously.

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