Tag: slow family living

Let the Book Tour begin!

Check out  this beautiful review from Suz Lipman author of Fed Up With Frenzy and creator of Slow Family Online

You will get a lot of ideas from Slow Family Living, both big-picture and everyday, that will make you pause and reflect, and will help you lead a more connected and joyful family life…read more

Tags: , , , , , ,

Fostering Sibling Connection

My girls are 5 years apart. Sisters. At the younger’s birth the older stepped in like a mini-mama. So happy was she to have a baby to hold. So happy was I to have an extra set of hands to coddle and soothe and entertain this third child of mine. Lucky us all around.

For years the connection thrived and grew. Delightful sisters playing all sorts of games of dress up and house and climbing trees and orphanage. With a brother in between and another that would join us later it was a sister sandwich full of love and light and lots and lots of laughs.

As the older moved out of imagination-land her needs in a sibling changed and the relationship grew a tad persnickety at times. Still mostly friendly but sometimes suffering from that “you’re an embarrassing little sister” thing that can sometimes happen. I saw it. I remembered how it felt and I didn’t really feel I had much power to sway it.

Then came the camera. Big sister saved up her baby sitting money for a super sweet camera and started taking photography lessons from Leon Alesi, an artist/photographer friend of ours. He specialized in portraits and shared that love with her, hence, her assignments were portrait based – perfectly satisfying to my oldest who had a house full of subjects to choose from.

She tried us all on for size. 4th child was too opinionated. Mama was too busy and couldn’t keep her mouth shut long enough for a good pose. Papa was pretty good but wouldn’t sit for long. 2nd child was good too but tired quickly of the sessions. Little sister was just right.

Turns out little sister loved to pose and please big sister for endless. And dress up in outlandish costumes both of her own design and of her big sister’s choosing. Wild hats, boots, dresses. And to pose she’d go wherever she was told to go and strike a pose of her own or of big sister’s dictation. In fact, little sister took dictation amazingly well on these shoots – which I never would have predicted! On these projects they’d work together for hours on end, biking  and walking to all sorts of neighborhood locations with camera, wardrobe bag and props in tow.

And the photos are amazing.

Both in their artistic capture and also in that they show a bond I didn’t know could be captured on film. There is a gaze in the subject’s eye that is nothing short of adoration. There is a love between subject and artist that is palpable. There is an ability to connect through the lens all the way to the soul and it is lovely to see.

I talked to Leon about this beautiful gift coming from these lessons and assignments; a lifelong gift of sisterly love and connection, a documentation of every step of the way and a collection of sublime portraits of this sweet girl of ours. He smiled sort of knowingly. As if he understood what can happen when an artist falls in love with his subject. And as he smiled and I thought of all the breathtaking portraits I had seen of his, I suddenly realized it was about more than just setting or subject. It was about love and connection. Love of the craft and of the vision held in the mind’s eye and connection to the subject. In his bio he states “a shared discovery is what I want for the viewer.”

I’m loving this discovery of mine, as onlooker, that sometimes siblings need to step away together in order to find their shared gifts. And I’m going to encourage this kind of stepping away as siblings more often. Without me there to meddle in their sibling affairs or as someone for whom they battle for my attention..

And in the meantime, I’ll just thank my lucky starts for siblings; my own and the ones I’ve birthed.

 

**This post was written a while ago and I was prompted to find it by a cousin who was asking about sibling dynamics. I was happy to rediscover this idea, that siblings need space to grow into their own relationship.** 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Yesterday on various social media and in myriad conversations I had, there were a lot of folks, (moms mostly) feeling guilty about the way they were approaching this sweet holiday with their kids. There seemed to be a lot of pressure to perform – to make handmade valentines, to bring healthy AND pretty snacks to classroom parties and to generally have their life looking all Pinterest ready.

In our house we did make cards because we LOVE making cards. Our whole family loves it and we have lots of materials always at the ready. We leave stuff out on the dining room table for days on end in various states: string, paper, rubber stamps, glue of all shades of food dye, hole punches and scissors for everyone at the ready. We use various reclaimed/recycled/found/ephemera/ items. Like this year we had a box of flash cards that we found in the recycling bin at school at the end of the year.

How we do it isn’t better than how anyone else does it. It’s just what we like to do. It works for us. And we find lots of joy and family connection in the process.

What we brought to the classroom party? A one pound bag of mini pretzels. Because that also works for us.

And this is really the whole message of Slow Family: in order to make it work, we have to make it work for us as a family. If it brings more connection in the process, DO IT. If it doesn’t, find the thing that does.

We can’t all bring/create/do/have/assemble/show up/be the same way  as parents so let’s stop comparing.

And next time you see someone walking in with a giant tray of beautiful cupcakes? Don’t judge or feel judged. Rather know that must work for them.

And next time you see someone walking in empty handed? Know that must work for them.

Then take a look at what you’re bringing to the table and appreciate that too. WHATEVER IT IS.

My mom (the real founder of Slow Family Living) had a saying, that we all do what we can according to our state in life. Believe it. Live it.

Bring what you can. And do what works to bring you the most joy and connection you can possibly have.

And feel the love.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Keep Calm and Carrie Contey

It was in 2007 that I joined forces with Carrie Contey, PhD to form Slow Family Living. It came out of our work together – writing, dreaming, doing classes and workshops, scheming and dreaming some more. Since then Carrie and I have worked together on different projects together sharing ideas and stages, and also worked on our own individual projects – books, classes, workshops, and more.

In the past 2 years I’ve been writing and readying my book, Slow Family Living; 75 ways to slow down, connect and create more joy. In those same 2 years, Carrie’s work has been the creation of a year long project called Evolve. It is about parenting, partnering, personhood and prosperity. It is about making the life and connection you have with yourself, your kids and your partner the very best life it can be. It is babysteps delivered all year long, which are super easy to take, towards more joy and more connection and more understanding of why you are you.

I have been lucky to be involved in her program for the past two years and to see it from the inside out. It is the perfect blend of science and emotion and practical information and it is amazing. I’m not usually a salesperson but truly, it has changed my life.

So if you want to be a calmer parent and have a better understanding of yourself giving you more emotional resilience, if you want to feel better, communicate easier, have more connection with your kids, more intimacy with your partner, more abundance in your life and in general find more joy, balance and be the best you you can possibly be, you should click here.

There are relatively few game changers we experience in our life. For me, Evolve has definitely been one of them.

Oh! And if you sign up for her program before midnight on Sunday night (1/20/13), you’ll get a free copy of my book delivered to your door immediately upon its release on March 5th! Making you possibly the very first person on your block to have a copy in your hands.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In the words of They Might be Giants, “time is marching on and time is still marching on…”

This time of year time feels a little bit sped up with all the gatherings and events and parties and to-do lists and travel plans and whoa! Wait a minute! All of a sudden we’re freaking out with all that’s on our mind/calendar/list/plate! You know the feeling? Well chill because here are 8 ways to gain more time without actual time travel. Seriously.

1. Take a deep breath. It really is the first step in calming yourself down when your mind is swirling about. Perhaps you’re saying, “But I don’t have time to take a deep breath gosh darnit!” And I’m saying really, you do. And if you do, you might actually feel time expand a tiny bit. And if you take a few deep breaths, you might feel it expand even more. So pause what you’re doing. Whatever it is. And for a minute or two, just concentrate on breathing. You’ll oxygenate your body and mind and give yourself a chance to approach things more calmly which will in fact feel like time expanding. No matter where you are, pause and take a deep breath or a few. Really intentional, big, deep breaths.

2. Get out of your head. Rather than letting all the things you have to do swirl about in your head uncontrollably and continuously, make a list. The list frees your brain from overwhelm and puts all the things you need to do in front of you where you can see them, approach them and deal with them. One. By. One. So you can slowly get them all done. Put your list on paper or on your phone or wherever it will be most helpful. The beauty of the paper list vs. the electronic list is that you get the satisfaction of crossing things out with a very animated, intentional swipe of your pen. And once they’re crossed off you can see just how much you’ve done. And when you’ve got the list in full action, you’ll see that many of the things that swirl so furiously in your head, might only take minutes to accomplish and don’t need to occupy so much mental energy.

3. Cross something off. I don’t mean cross it off because it’s done. I mean cross it off as in don’t do it. Surely there’s one thing on your list that doesn’t really NEED to get done. Maybe it’s an event that you really aren’t OBLIGATED to attend. Or maybe it’s an activity that you realize you don’t really need to do. Whatever it is, on almost everyone’s list, there is something that can be deleted. Or at least delayed until another time when you have more time.

4. Combine efforts. There are different ways you can approach this combination of efforts. Try to schedule things  so that all your activities fall back to back on the same day – making for a busy day yes but also leaving other days of the week open for you to feel more spacious. If you’re meeting someone for coffee one morning, segue immediately into the next without leaving the space. If you’re volunteering at school or elsewhere in the community, schedule it so that another errand or task is done immediately afterward. This not only blocks your time nicely but also gives definitive end times to each activity. You can also block things by time of day, scheduling all your extra activities in a certain time frame each morning leaving the rest of the day free for your own personal or work related efforts. On the days that are to be for your projects only, put it on the calendar with the same importance as the meetings. Write it down in order to protect that time from the intrusion of other things that might be presented.

5. Schedule less. If you’re feeling this overwhelm often, perhaps you ought to think about trying to do less. If it’s making you stressed or anxious, then maybe it really is too much. Consider eliminating things not just for one time but for the longer term. Maybe you’re on too many committees or in too many groups. Whatever it is, they will be there when you’re ready but if it’s too much, you’re not serving anyone by overextending yourself.

6. Delegate. Surely you don’t need to do everything yourself. Got a friend, co-worker or family member who might pick up some of the slack? Ask your partner to take on one of your tasks. Or your kids to chip in a little more with things. Or your parents or friends to babysit so you can get something done. Try doing things co-operatively such as child care or toy shopping or post office or whatever is on your list. No point in all of us doing all of it. Share, trade, barter, bargain. Whatever you can do to make things feel more efficient and fun.

7. Get more sleep. Sure it seems funny to think of sleeping more as giving you more time but seriously, when you are well-rested you’re a much more efficient machine. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier. Leave something undone that night. If you’re a parent, you most likely won’t ever get it ALL done, so leave some of it undone in the name of a good night’s rest. SO worth it. And truly, you’ll feel stronger, more capable, more efficient and more joyful too so you can get more done more joyfully.

8. Lower your standards. At least temporarily. And think about what really matters. Got company coming and you’re trying to get the baseboards shiny before they arrive? Or make the perfect shrimp dish for your cocktail party? Before you freak out or stress out or wither, ask yourself if what you’re stressing about is worth it. Nobody’s going to notice your baseboards. And if they do, do you really care? And don’t you think your friends and family are coming to be with you and not coming to see a perfectly laid out Martha Stewart style spread? Sure, if you can do it all without stress or worry go for it, but if it’s causing you to go into full on overload, is it really worth it? That’s a rhetorical question by the way.

Three of the recurring themes of this season are peace, love and joy so it says on every card we’ve received. Be sure you set yourself up for a lot of both. Because really, isn’t that the whole point of us being here on this earth anyway? I think so. This time of year and always.

If you want to make your holiday season slow down to just the tempo you like, check out the Create your Slow Holiday workbook. It’ll totally get you exactly where you want to be.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Here’s something I’m trying to do at home. And even in the very brief period that I have been practicing it, it has made an incredible difference in how we all get along. I learned it this weekend at a workshop, along with lots of other great tips for creating more love and joy in my life and especially in my home. It’s such a simple shift, and honestly, it has had a ridiculously profound effect on my interaction with my children and my partner.

Instead of saying “but” I say “and”.

Instead of saying “you want to do it this way BUT I want to do it that way.” Instead of thinking, “You want to go here BUT I want to go there.” Instead of feeling, “You like this BUT I like that.” I replace the “but” with an “and”.

So it sounds like love and acceptance instead of arbitration and rejection. It feels like agreement instead of contradiction. It allows for two realities co-existing instead of argument of one way being right and the other being wrong. AND it feels like a whole lot of understanding that in a family with 6 people in it, there can of course be 6 different ways of feeling/thinking/wanting/seeing.

We all like different things. We all have different ideas. We all need/want/have/love different ways of approaching life. AND it’s all perfectly true and beautiful and okay.

Honestly it is that simple. AND it is that good. You want this AND I want that. You feel this AND I feel that. You see this AND I see that. You are perfect AND I am too.

It could be just the tool you need this holiday.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Members Only

Things seem to amp up a bit this time of year with fall festivals planned and fundraisers of one kind or another and Halloween parties and activities and lots of fall birthday parties and holy cow, is that Thanksgiving on next month’s calendar page?

The attempt to keep things slow and steady rather than reactive and riotous is definitely the goal. And as the kids get a bit older, I must admit, this slow and steady is a bit less in my control and pushed against a little more by certain members in my house.

Just this weekend my child-who-shall-remain-unnamed said to me, “You want to have time at home but I just want to hang out with my friends.” So we made a deal – one that I think will work for all of us. 2-3 days each month we will have FAMILY MEMBERS ONLY marked on the calendar. Planned ahead of time so as to give everyone fair warning and not necessarily for an entire day though I reserve the right to claim it as such if I want to but I might be willing to concede to a late afternoon hang out at the house with friends.  Ideally I’d choose 4 days each month – one day each weekend- but I’m willing to meet them halfway on this. And on the weekends that we don’t have family-only time, I will have one day reserved as car-free for me – meaning that I will not drive anyone, anywhere. So if they want to make plans with friends, the friends can either come over or they will figure out their own transportation.

While building family connection is part of the goal, encouraging everyone to find some sort of comfort level in just hanging out at home is definitely part of it too. I want my kids to feel that sometimes just sinking into the scene at home is not only okay but actually desirable. And yet I am fully aware of the fact that repression breeds obsession, meaning if I force them to stay home all the time, they will resent it. Oh, this give and take is such a fine line to walk and this idea of finding some sort of slow is a balancing act that requires constant calibrating. But putting it on the calendar surely helps.

Like spinning plates.  And again I say a three-day weekend sure would be helpful.

How do you make it work in your house? Do you have any tools to help you make sure that you and your family keep it all in balance?

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The author’s first day of kindergarten. c. 1970

Here we go. The big kick off. For the kids it is the end of  lazy days and sleeping in and endless time with friends and elongated road trips and boredom and movies galore and midnight bedtimes (or later) and long stretches of time to read and draw and having it be possible to be invited over to someone’s house at 8:00 at night and the answer being yes, we can go.

It’s back to school time and it crescendo’ed today with Meet the Teacher day and school supplies delivered and classrooms found and the new playground unveiled. The monthly bus pass has been purchased for the oldest. The trumpet was found on Craigslist for the next. The desired teacher was gotten for the third and the new playground was enough to convince the youngest that everything would be okay.

This year is a biggie for us. We’ll have three different schools and schedules. And growing kids who don’t necessarily need our help  but might sometimes want it anyway.

It’s going to take some real good communication and intentions and calendar checks and coordinating and did I say communication? to keep it all cool, calm, collected and connected.

So here, in no particular order are eleven things I’m going to try to do this year to make sure we all get what we need from the world and from each other too…

1. Stay present to the ones I’m with.  This is a biggie. Love the one I’m with. Phone down, tasks paused, eyes on the prize and in this case, the prize being the person who is standing in front of me.

2. Stay present to the task at hand. Driving? Drive. Cooking? Cook. Writing? Write. Socializing? Socialize. Playing? Play. You get the point.

3. Screen-free times. In the house for the whole family, we will have set hours that are screen-free. I’m thinking 5-7 should work. With a 6:00 exemption for homework reasons. No phones, tv, computer, etc. Screen-free.  We did it last year and it was really great. We got off that bandwagon this summer though.

4. Electronics-free alone time. Walk. Meditation. Swim. Read. Etc. Be alone. Truly alone. Not alone but with virtual friends. Not alone but talking on the phone. Alone. Truly alone. With my own thoughts and ideas. Everyday at least.

5. Listen more. Fix less. My tendency has been to rush in with answers. My goal with my growing children is to listen more and let them work most of it out through talking it out. And I’ll be more likely to sense the real need as opposed to just the words that are stated.

6. Ask before I do offer advice. Not just to my kids but to people in general. Before I offer advice I’ll ask if it’s wanted. “Want my input?” It’s a simple question that will take some practice to make a part of my day-to-day.

7. Pre-planned playdates. Sure there will be after school playdates but they will be planned ahead of time. The on-the-fly playdates tweak me and tweak the balance of the household. Exceptions only in emergencies. With this will also be minimized sleep-overs. Sleep-overs tweak the kids and tweak the family more. The next day we usually all pay. Planned ahead and minimized.

8. Dates with my husband. These should be easier to come by this year. Daytime dates are fun. (editor’s note: this one’s no longer valid but I left it in to remind me to connect with him regularly. We are not a couple but we are still parents of these kids of ours.)

9. Alone time once a month with each child. This is sometimes tricky to accomplish but I think setting it up ahead of time will be the key. On the calendar it goes. It doesn’t need to be huge – just intentional. A walk, a trip to the grocery store for a light shop, a croissant at the bakery, a visit to the playground.

10. One night out each week with friends. A designated night. Each week. And if friends can’t make it, then on my own. Just to collect my adult thoughts, share ideas, get inspired and have some fun.

11. Be thoughtful about my commitments. I have a lot of good ideas for things to do in the community. But I can’t do them all. Instead this year I plan on handing out those good ideas freely to anyone who is looking for one. And sometimes even just floating them out there to the universe for people to grab who didn’t even know they were looking for a good idea.

It’s funny when my kids were little and playing with friends I would always tell them, “I’m not base!!” as they tagged me furiously in attempts to be safe from “it”. But really now I am base.  Especially now.

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

As a kid one of my favorite things to do was to pour over various Make and Do books which were so prevalent in those days. They were full of crafts and recipes and games and ideas for filling up the days with fun and creativity.

As an adult, those books are still some of my favorites and I have a wide collection of various tomes from the 50s, 60s and 70s that I have picked up over the years at thrift stores and book sales. I pick them off the shelves at various times of year and leave them scattered about the house just waiting for some passerby (read: one of my four children or me) to pick one up, peruse its pages and get inspired. In these books there is truly something for everyone.

I have often wondered why there wasn’t a modern day equivalent to these books. Books that are timeless in their content and ageless in their target market.

And then Suz Lipman of Slow Family Online sent me a copy of her new book; Fed Up With Frenzy; Slow Down. Reconnect. It’s easier than you think.

It is a beautiful Make and Do book for families with a focus on slowing down and finding family connection within the tasks and activities.

It is full of thoughtful suggestions for living family life, games and crafts and garden activities. It has ideas for rituals and kitchen projects and family celebrations. And if you leave it out on the table in your house I guarantee someone will get inspired to create something magical that will surely spur your family onto feeling more joy and more connection.

I received my copy shortly before our big family road trip and tucked it in my travel bag. A few hundred miles in I pulled it out and went right to the Travel Games section. It is full of games to play in the car – some I remembered from my own youth, and others that were new to me or offered a twist I never thought of. For the rest of the trip, each time we needed inspiration we pulled out the book in search of what to do next. We took turns flipping through the pages finding ideas for things to do or just reading along for future plans and projects.

Now home I’m excited to dive into some of the kitchen projects with my kids – crafts and fun science projects. We’ll leave this one out on the table for months I’m sure and turn to it each time we need simple inspiration or ideas for things to do together or just a good read on a lazy afternoon.

This is the book of Make and Do but it is so much more than that. It will give you ideas for things to do with your kids. Ways to add more beauty to your home and your yard and the community at large. It will remind you that the road to connection is paved with simple things – things all within our grasp. You should totally get  a copy and display it prominently so that each time your seeking ways to reconnect, you’ll find it here in these pages.

Thanks to the author I’ve got one copy to giveaway which I’ll be doing next Wednesday on my site. Leave a comment here and tell me what was the last project or activity your family did together or what one you’ve got planned for the near future.

 

 

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