Tag: slow holidays

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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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.

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Think the holidays are still a long way off? I know it’s still 80+ degrees here in Austin but I don’t think it’s too early to start pondering how you want your holidays to go. Not if you want to make some changes to the way it’s always been done. Not if you want to set yourself up for a thoughtful, happy holiday time. I talked to Vicky and Jen about this for their amazing show What Really Matters and they put together a beautiful little podcast on Creating Your Slow Holiday full of great ideas for taking out the hectic and adding in a little more love and joy. Listen to it! And then while you’re there listen to the show they did with Carrie a while back about slowing things down in general. That was chock full of good ideas.

And if you want to dive in a bit into your own ideas for Slow Holidays, there is an ebook. And even a teleclass that is on the books for Thursday November 29th starting at 7:30pm central time. We’ll go over the ebook and get to the source of how you want your holidays to feel, look, go. This year and all the years that follow.

You can make it how you want it. Truly.

 

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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?

 

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Creating Your Slow Holiday

I went into a department store the other day in search of a punching balloon for a papier mache pinata we are making. The Halloween decorations were out. Which makes sense. And right behind them were the Christmas decorations. Garland, stockings, tree stands and more. Really. In the beginning of October. And I breathed in. Out. And realized it was time once again to set some intentions for how it could/should/would be for our family.

Rather than panic I took it as a reminder that the holidays were coming and if I wanted them to be peaceful and easy, which I do, now might be a good time to start pondering what they might look like.

Over the past few years we, as a family, have honed in on what we want our holidays to look like. What we want to do. Where we want to go. And most importantly, how we want them to feel. For us the holidays are full of making stuff, day trips, family hikes, packages mailed and treats created. Because, regardless of our beliefs, the holidays come at us from every direction in every form. And if we’re not clear about what we DO want, we are bombarded by what we don’t want. And I don’t think I need to go into detail about what that looks like.

In light of all of this, we created a workbook a couple of years ago to help families figure out not just what they don’t want, but what they DO want. How do we want it to feel? What are the pieces we want to incorporate and how can we get where we want to be as the holidays come our way.

Because goodness knows, they definitely come our way whether we are ready or not.

If you’d like to set some intentions for your upcoming holiday season and make your holidays feel more aligned with your family life, this Creating Your Slow Holiday workbook might be for you. Check it out. Answer the questions and then let us know what pieces worked for you. What changes are you going to implement? We’d love to know.

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Bring on the joy

The announcements have begun in earnest – craft fairs and holiday fairs and sing-a-longs and all sorts of gatherings of the flesh and the spirit. Here at our house we even sent out our first package filled with yummy baked goods to an uncle in another state who has a lucky pre-holiday birthday.

As the holidays approach it’s time for me to pick and choose the events we’ll attend and the things we’ll do. Which ones feel good? Which ones work for us? Which ones make us feel panicky and stressed? The gift list must be assessed not necessarily because there are so many gifts to get but because I like to stay sort of mindful about the approach and I know that when it goes to the last minute I make hasty (read: expensive) decisions based on simple mindLESSness. Last year it was (almost) all second hand or hand made which felt really good as the day rolled around but which definitely takes a little more time and thought.

There are lots of things we like to do around/during the holidays.  I like to gather with friends. I like to sing. I like to make stuff and bake stuff.  I like to make sure that each object brought into the house or sent out into the world will bring good energy to the recipient – love, joy, fun, beauty, function. You know, all the necessary ingredients for any object really. 

This time of year comes every year and yet every year it sort of comes at me by surprise. At first. We have our rituals and our traditions and sometimes we add new things as well. I don’t always know exactly what we’ll discover in the holidays all around us but I do know how I want it to feel. And this year, more than ever, I’m going for the full on joy and the connection. What I’ve come to realize of late is what’s the point otherwise.

Last year we created this mini e*book to help folks find ways to create their own holidays – just the way they like them. It’s a brief foray into figuring out what’s important, what stresses you out, what influences and how you want to feel this holiday season. If you want a little guidance around creating your slow holiday, this simple e*book may be just the ticket.

And, as we’re always on look out for more ways to bring on the comfort and joy in our world, I’d love to hear what you’ve created for the holidays in your home. The first exchange of the season.

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