Tag: Slow Family

being-a-person-is-niceFor the past few months I have been meeting weekly with a friend doing what we call “micro retreats”. From the prompts we’ve created and fine-tuned, we have both found immense clarity and inspiration. Week after week we are amazed by what we learn about ourselves and all the information gleaned comes directly from our own selves.

From this fine-tuning I have begun offering these micro-retreats via phone so that others can share in the power of these prompts. I was uncertain at first whether the call-in method would be effective and I am pleased to announce that YES! It totally is.

If you have an hour to spare and would like to dust off your own lens, please join me as I lead you through timed writing prompts that will help you find inspiration you’re needing to take you to your next good idea. This is not about being a writer, but rather writing your way to clarity. I want to say something funny here to make it not sound so new agey but so be it. I’m 51. I sometimes wear a kaftan at home.

But don’t listen to me. Here’s what participants are saying so far from just one hour of writing…

Thank you so much for today’s micro-retreat!! 
My writing was stilted and icy at first, my brain too, but by the end I’d cleared my way to something really solid and profound. 
So thank you for doing this, I really needed to get there. CB Austin, TX
This was amazing. I began the hour call feeling sort of foggy and by the end I had a new idea of what things I wanted to prioritize. Thank you! I’m going to try to do it regularly! LA Asheville, NC
If you’re interested in figuring out what’s next and what matters to you, sign up today. The price is definitely right.

 

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One man’s trash…a recipe

I’m not really known as much of a cook. I cook of course. And there’s some things I’m pretty good at, but overall? Not so much.

But now that it’s back to school time, there’s one recipe I can’t resist. It’s simple. You’ve got all the ingredients on hand. It takes less than 3 minutes to make. And it’ll not only save you from throwing food away, but you will actually be making treasure out of trash.

peanut butter and jellySo, here you go, without further adieu, the delicacy known as Grilled PB and J which I learned long ago from my friend Ted.

  1. Take one stale PB and J left over from your kids lunchbox.
  2. Slather it with butter.
  3. Grill till golden brown.
  4. Eat when alone so you don’t have to share.

With this recipe in hand, you will rejoice when your kid’s lunch comes home half eaten.

The staler the better.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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Jump, Jump For Your Love!

For years I resisted the trampoline. Too big. Too ugly. Too much money.

For years the kids insisted.

This year, their collective gift from Grandma was a big 15′ trampoline. (Don’t worry, she asked me first.)

Now, 2 weeks in, I see it not just as a fun tool but as an amazing tool for getting us moving,  building greater family connection AND for getting us all outside when maybe we’d be on the couch instead.

For my youngest, age 8, it is a fine outlet for his endless energy. It is also my bargaining chip when he is asking for screens. Jump for 30 minutes and you’ll get some screen.

For my 12 year old, it is a great gathering place for her and all her friends. Don’t know what to do when your friends are over? Problem solved. The trampoline is the main activity for any gathering. They can jump, lay about, talk, jump some more and have endless tween fun. Before homework, she jumps. After homework, she jumps. And the other night when it was just the two of us at home? We laid out there for over an hour, soaking in the moonlight and discussing middle school, friendships, dreams, and the general pursuit of happiness.

For my 15 year old, it is a wild place for him to engage with his 8 year old brother. On the trampoline all things feel equal, and the games they create on there are endless and boundless and fun. And wild. Did I mention wild? They can wrestle, challenge, and get all kinds of scrappy. It is a place too for him to connect to the little kid that still lives inside his big growing 15 year old body.

For my 17 year old, it is a place for her to play with all her siblings; one at a time or as a group. They jump, challenge and connect in ways that were feeling difficult to find elsewhere. It’s also a place for her to really play. Either with a random sibling or with her friends. And a place to go when the studying or the chaos of family life or the stress just gets too much.

For me? I jump here and there, before I make dinner or when I just need to step away from all the have-tos. It let’s me engage in physical play in a way I hadn’t found otherwise. Plus it’s good exercise. And I find too, that when I’m jumping with one of the kids, we’re usually laughing so, so hard. Either because my jumps feel lame compared to theirs or just because it is a place that feels really, really fun. And if I’m tired? I can just lay there and let them jump all around me. Connection made.

And for all of us together, the dyamics are ever shifting, ever active, ever fun. We jump in various duos, groups and as a pack. We interact in ways we never did before; active, exhilirating, expressive and exhausting. From the kitchen window I happily watch it all unfold. (remembering that what sometimes looks like aggression, is anything but.)

So, though I’m not telling you to rush out and buy a trampoline, if you are looking for ways to jump into new family dynamics, the trampoline is really, really working for us.

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We are about to move. From one part of Austin to another. While I’m not thrilled about the move itself, I am thrilled that our world is about to shrink. Significantly.

Between the 5 of us currently we are commuting a collective 8 hours of drive time. Some of that is on the city bus. Some of that is in the car. Some on foot. While we live central, and I work from home, our schools are north and south and so we travel to all of it. That’s a lot of time spent getting to and from where we need to be. And that’s on a normal day. That’s not a day when there’s a back to school night or booster meeting or any such thing. That’s just daily drive time. And in growing Austin, daily drive time seems to compound monthly.

So, as I said, we’re moving. And where we’re going we’ll all be walking or biking to where we need to be. In fact, the youngest’s commute from our back gate will be shorter than it currently is to walk from where we park to his classroom. The older 3 will bike just over a mile to their respective schools. And I’ll be standing in the yard waving goodbye.

Here’s what I think I’m going to gain…

  1. More sleep each morning
  2. Less road angst
  3. Less arguing about who gets shot-gun
  4. Less chance of car accident
  5. More time in general
  6. More ease
  7. Less crankiness

What’s funny is this schedule we’re on now was fine for us. Until it wasn’t. Which leads me back to one of the basic tenets of Slow Family Living, the question, “Is this working for us?” It was. Then it wasn’t. And when it wasn’t? We made a change.

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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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Drama around you…

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I’m about to get in the car on a chilly, rainy day to drive about 1000 miles with my brother and my four kiddos to visit another brother and his wife. I am excited about being there. Excited about being in the snow of Colorado and hanging out with family and having a Thanksgiving in the mountains. Yay team! We’re going on a road trip!

We are no stranger to the road trip. We logged about 5000 miles this summer heading to the east coast from Texas. I love a road trip. But admittedly, most of my road trips have been summer journeys with long hours of daylight and open windows and stopping to rest in the grass on the side of the road. This time around? Things will be a little different and the mountains of down coats are a sure sign of that. And I realized this winter/cold/mountain road trip was giving me a little pause.

I was not really nervous about the drive, as we’ll just be doing interstate the whole way. (unlike our summer travels!) I was nervous about being in the car with everyone in those long hours of closed in darkness. I was anticipating some things that weren’t really all that appealing; like arguments over who would sit where and noise level complaints from a certain introvert teen, and really, just a general dissatisfaction of it all which I fully anticipated falling into face first.

Seriously? Seriously.

So last night, when I was talking to my pal Carrie Contey, she asked me, as she is wont to do, “So, what are your intentions for the trip?”

OH!

Apparently, unconsiously, my intentions were to have a fight-filled journey and be faced with a certain level of dissatisfaction.

Really? Really.

So I pondered. Hmm. What DO I want? What ARE my intentions? I knew I’d have a blast once we got there, but getting there was another story.

And I decided to set a whole new CONSCIOUS intention instead. I want to have fun. Enjoy the journey. See the sights. Laugh and be playful. I want to create rather than react.

I’ll do that by anticipating that all will actually be good. And if there is some fighting and some dissatisfaction, I’ll try to see it without falling into it. And I’ll try to embrace the beingness of each person there in the car, INCLUDING MYSELF!

I’m going to anticipate goodness. And I know that by putting that lens on things, we’ll all have a much better time.  

I’m going to seriously activate my re-set button. And realize that sometimes all it takes to shift things around is a conscious decision to do so.

And remember that I don’t have to go to every fight I’m invited to. Whether in the car on a dark, snowy mountain or anywhere else.

My intention is to have fun.

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