Tag: Slow movement

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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School started this past week here in Austin. It always feels so abrupt, that transition from summer to school. For three months there are basically no bedtimes, lots of cousins, time with Grandma, swimming, canoeing, lazy afternoons reading and napping and lounging about, and morning after morning spent sleeping in.

Then BAM! School starts back with lunches and homework and early mornings and strict bedtimes and lots of things that just have to be done, right away or at least on a pretty tight schedule. Not that it’s bad, just that it’s different. and by different I mean kind of bad in that it hits us with  a real wallop. ESPECIALLY if we are not prepared.

Which this year, I gotta say, even with 4 kids getting out the door to 3 different schools, we all felt pretty prepared. We had figured out bus schedules and school supplies and lunch boxes and wake up times. We had found scissors and binders and mechanical pencils from last year.  And had even thrown the backpacks in the washer for a fresh clean start to this brand new academic season.

And the other thing I did? I took myown advice from my very own book and I set my alarm for 10 minute earlier than I had set it last year.  I also vowed to myself that I would not hit the snooze. And that I would wake the kids up a few minutes earlier too. Because really, though it SEEMS like the snooze will give me what I want, and though I am not naturally a  morning person, not by any stretch of the imagination, unless I can snooze for another hour, it doesn’t do anything but prolong the agony.

But this ten minutes of extra awake time? It gives me the world. It gives me time to put my coffee on and get dressed and even take a few sips of that coffee paired with a nice deep breath. It gives us all space  - around getting that signature we forgot  last night or finding that shoe that’s got to be around here somewhere or changing the stained shirt or just sitting for a minute while someone picks at the typewriter, without me freaking out that WE NEED TO KEEP IT MOVING OR WE”RE GONNA BE LATE!!!

It’s rather amazing really, the chilled-out-ness that the extra 10 minutes is giving us all. Not to exaggerate or over-emphasize,  but truly? With this extra 10 minutes in the morning, we’re  happier, easier, and surely healthier too, because that feeling of panic that comes from  rushing, whether we feel it in our heads or our bellies or  in our throats as we’re yelling to get a move on, that feeling cannot be good for us.

I know we’re only in week one of school, and I have been known to wane on resolutions in the past, but I think this one’s a keeper. And  I am going on record here as saying that that extra ten minutes is a total game changer at our house. Not that we’re all walking out the door singing Kumbaya or anything, but we might. We just might.

My children love it when I sing.

 

 

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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

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On Friday evening I was standing in the kitchen talking with my 10 year old and I realized that as she was speaking I had my phone in my hand and I was wanting her to HURRY UP because right before she walked in the room I was about to check ye olde Facebook on my phone. I was distracted as she talked. I wasn’t looking at my screen but I might as well have been because my palm was just itching to tap the little blue App button. And I only half heard what she was saying because of it.

“Enough!” I said to myself as she talked.  Actually, I think the voice in my head said something more like, “are you freaking kidding me???”

So when she finished up and walked out of the room, I sighed a big old sigh. And I tapped the little blue square with the lower case f on it and held it long enough for it to flicker. And I hit delete. And I decided I’d take Facebook off my phone for the whole weekend.

Simple as that.

It was perfect. Several times during the weekend I found myself taking my phone out of my pocket and then remembereing that I had hit delete and so just tucked it right back in. By Sunday I was no longer taking it out at all except to take a few photos – habit broken just like that.

What I realized that first day was just how much I DO take my phone out. Ridiculous really. And most often on the weekends there really isn’t much going on on Facebook anyway. Certainly not enough to warrant wishing a conversation with my 10 year old would end!

By Sunday I was feeling the joy and connection of full on presence. Really. I know it sounds kind of simplistic but maybe that’s because it actually is. Simple that is.

Because while I love the FB for connecting and for taking little breaks from my writing and other random computer work and for promotion of events and products and blog posts, I simply don’t need it on the weekends.

And hitting delete was just so easy. And allowed me to break the FB spell for the whole weekend long.

Try it. And let me know if your habit is easy to break. And if you don’t find something beautiful in its place.

 

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Letting Go

Letting go seems to be my theme this week. Actually, maybe it’s a recurring theme it’s just that now I”m paying more attention to it. And funny enough, paying attention was the theme for the past several months. Which I guess means I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. In that big giant universal sense that is.

Every year for Halloween we take a family photo on the bench in the yard. Every year. Since we’ve been in this house. Since all the kids were little. Before some of the kids even existed. We would all get our random costumes on and take 10 minutes for a photo shoot. I love those photos. The sessions and the photos too.

This year we were kind of in a hurry because of new schedules where big kids get home later than usual. And costumes were chosen last minute which took a little bit of time. And we were  just a little bit more scattered. So the photo shoot was rushed. And one child didn’t want to participate. At all. At first I insisted. But only for about a minute. And then, like a wave, I felt myself let go of the expectation.

In the big picture, who cares about the picture? Yes, I like it but taking a photo with 5 of us instead of 6 will serve as much as a reminder of where we all were at that current moment in time just as much as a photo would. I’ll remember that moods were off and we were feeling a little frantic and so the photo was different.

And I’ll use that photo of 5 as a metaphor for so much more. I’ll remember to let go of expectations. I’ll remember to let everyone feel the feelings. I’ll remember that we all need/like/want different things. I’ll remember that where we are in one moment of time does not define us for all time. I’ll remember, hopefully, to try to meet everyone where they are at any given moment of time. And hopefully I’ll remember that it’s crucial in this family life of ours to choose my battles. Which ones matter? Which ones can I just let go?

I think this year’s picture is going to give me more than I could have ever dreamed because what’s in the picture is just as telling and crucial as what isn’t.

 

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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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The View From Here Keeps Changing

If you’re a parent of a baby, of course you’ve heard it before, “oh these days will be gone before you know it!”

If you’re a parent of a kindergartener, you’ll hear it in the first few weeks, “oh he’ll be heading off to high school in a blink.”

And by the time your child is entering high school you kind of have some understanding of what they mean. My oldest is starting high school this fall. In fact, she’s already made the volleyball team and is pretty much gone everyday for practice. And it has made me painfully and  incredibly aware of time’s velocity.

It seems like we were just trying to figure out kindergarten. And then figuring out what she’d do for middle school. And now, those decisions have brought us to the here and now of this little baby of ours looking at us eye to eye and making decisions and plans that aren’t necessarily run by us first.

And we know before we know it she’ll be looking at college catalogs in order to figure out her next.

I have already shed a few tears  at this thought and surely will a few more as we hit milestones which seem to be leading to her leaving our home in just a few years.

So if you’re walking with a stroller and I suddenly stop you in your tracks and go on about how you need to hold onto these moments because they go by so fast, I’m sorry. But really, it’s true.

So revel in these moments as best you can – though I know it’s hard to be completely present when life is swirling all around you. And know that in all the moments – whether they are incredibly high or horribly low – they will pass in the blink of an eye.

As for those parents that I’ll see in the kindergarten hall where we’ll be dropping off our youngest on the very same day, forgive me if I crowd the classroom window after they shoo us parents off. I just want one little glimpse before I blink again.

So why go slow? Because the view from here keeps changing.

 

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The Last Monday

We are 25 minutes away from finishing the last Monday of the 2011/2012 school year. As always, it seems that the first day of school was simultaneously eons ago and yesterday. Our children have learned a lot, grown a lot, met new people, discovered new talents, and explored new ideas. It is a bittersweet time for most people I talk to – especially for my 5th grader leaving behind his elementary school and his king of the hill status and some of his friends who are scattering to different middle school this year. It’s definitely a sunrise, sunset kind of moment. Bittersweet for our homeschooled daughter too as the siblings are about to be around a lot more than before!

But here we are. Ready for one last week of school. Ready for the piles of half-filled notebooks and boxes of broken crayons and other detritus from the classrooms. And ready for summer and it’s long stretching days filled with long stretching shadows.

The kids can sleep in. Fill their time with activities of their own creation. Play. Read. Swim. Craft. Skate. Play. And sleep in some more. It is a time they all look forward to. Us too. Although admittedly there is a bit of a learning curve to filling all that time.

I’ve started what I call a “summer fun box”. It’s got random things in it that can be accessed when they’re seeking something to do. There are some craft books. Some word games. A wood burning kit and lots of little wood scraps. Cook books. A bag of marbles. That’s it so far. As I find other things that I think might spark the creativity I’ll throw them in there too.

Of course I’ll encourage a little idle downtime too. But too much of that only works for some of the members in our household.

How do you spark imaginations in your house? How do you let the days fall and fill? Do you have some tools of inspiring your kids onto creativity and exploration? Does idle time work for you and your kids?

I love summer. Even here in Texas. And I love the possibilities it presents for dreaming, creating and slowing down too. And I’m curious to hear how others walk this walk.

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The Countdown Begins

I just did a calendar check. Looks like there’s only 6 more weeks of school to go. Time to ponder summer plans and swimming holes and camps and craft projects and all the other things we can do with the long stretching hours of school-less days.

And time too to check in with your child’s teachers and see what they need in these last 6 weeks. It’s when the crunch for testing is over and the options for creative teaching expand. It’s time too when the kids get a little restless, especially those 5th graders who are experiencing their first dose of senioritis.

If you’ve planned on volunteering in the classroom, now’s your chance. And if you haven’t planned on it, might I recommend it? It’s a great way to connect with your kid in a whole different way. You’ll gain insight into their day to day and into their peer group and into the whole world where they spend a good deal of their awake time.

Ask your teacher what they need. Figure out what you can offer. And get in there for an hour or so. You’ll be glad you did. And who knows what you’ll end up creating.

 

 

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Keep a Soft Eye

I went to a beautiful wedding this weekend at which a married couple served as the officiants. As they spoke to the bride and groom the one spoke of the need to keep a “soft eye,” a term he had heard on The Wire about the need to see the big picture rather than just focusing on the evidence in front of you.

“You know what you need at a crime scene? Soft eyes.” Detective Bunk

He instructed the bride and groom that in a marriage, it was necessary to keep a soft eye in order to keep seeing the whole scene. He told them not to focus on the one infraction or misspoken word but rather keep a soft eye on the love they had for each other.

I searched the term “soft eye” today and learned that it is a martial arts term, also used often in horseback riding, and means to take in the periphery of the scene – to take in everything but be distracted by nothing.  According to the Urban Dictionary a soft eye is “The ability to see the whole thing. If you have hard eyes, you’re just staring at the tree and missing the forest.”

In family life I can think of nothing more essential than to keep a soft eye.

What are we doing here all together? What is the essence of our family forest? Not what is happening right this minute but what is the overarching desire/feeling/emotion? What’s in our big picture?

How can we remember the joy, love and connection when there are harsh tones being used or piles of endless work to do or a child who won’t go to bed or seemingly incessant whining or hunger or fatigue on everyone’s part?

Keep a soft eye. Stay focused on the big picture.

I’m going to try it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

 

*Thank you Eric!

 

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