Our weekends are usually devoted to family activities, but this past weekend was so busy we all found ourselves with our own commitments or activities. Saturday morning started bright and early at a Color Run to benefit Riley's Children's Hospital. I manned a vendor booth while my husband and oldest ran the race. (Proud Mama right here!) My little had his own adventure day with Meem.
After the race, I had other commitments out in the countryside, and I began my solo trek. I'm usually never alone. You know the drill - toddlers and young children follow you everyone. So when I am alone, I almost don't know what to do. Just kidding, I do know what to do - blast my favorite music and sing along, which is exactly what I did.
But the further I drove along, I turned off the music and just listened to the hum of the car, the wind against the windows. It was almost hypnotic, meditative.
Where am I going?
I was lost in a train of thought so beautiful and complex I marveled at how I seamlessly jumped from topic to topic, year to year in my head. A random (or is it random?) thought about something from years ago connected beautifully to something that happened just days ago. I was absolutely lost in my own thoughts. Then I quickly jolted out of my reverie and wondered where am I? But I was right on track, following old roads I had traveled since I was a newborn going to my grandmother's farm. Muscle memory kicked in and knew when to make turns and when to go straight, but still even this puzzled me. Even thought I was there and I was driving, I was being pulled along the familiar roads passively. Is that like the rest of life? Am I just going with the flow or am I actively choosing to turn left, turn right, go straight?
Where are you going?
Where are you going? Those words take me back to high school. ?Quo Vadis? was a movie we watched in my Latin class (and yes I love Latin if you couldn't tell from the name of my blog). In the movie, a pagan Roman military leaders begins to fall in love with a Christian prisoner and he too begins to question where his life is headed. But, pagan emperor struggles aside, the same questions apply to your life.
You can't necessarily answer these questions in a day or even a week, but you should be asking them. Regularly. Think about sailing across the ocean. ( I may have Moana on the brain.) It's easier to get back on course in the beginning of the journey; the longer you stray off course, the longer it takes to reach your destination.
So I ask again, where are you going?
If you are following along in real time, then you probably read the blog post about self care in which I explored how self care can recharge a person which then allows them to be fully present in each and every relationship in their life.
In this TED talk, Megan McCormick continues the discussion on self-care. She argues that self-care is an act of revolution, that taking time to invest in self-care can lead to a better quality of life.
Megan also lays out the three main practices of self-care:
Listen to TED talk and join the revolution.
How do you make self care a priority? Comment below!
To err is human. To forgive is divine. (Alexander Pope)
Humans are not perfect.
As much as humans strive to live happily, sometimes we fight, we lose our patience, we have a "tone." Sometimes we respond to innocent questions with too much sarcasm. After all, it's easy to yell at the person who made you mad if that person is only 3 feet tall. (That doesn't make it okay though).
Usually, though, after a fight/squabble/spit spat, our emotions settle down, the angry fog in our head clears, and the surge of fight or flight hormones dissipates; it is then that we see the damage we have caused.
Sharp words can cause little hearts to break. The beautiful relationships we work so hard to build have been dinged and cracked. But one bad squabble doesn't doom an entire relationship.
What you do next sets the tone for the relationship. Follow these steps next time you need to damage control.
Often, in a family dispute, it takes two to tango. Regardless of who was the "worse" offender, don't wait for the other person to apologize. Apologize for your part.
Follow the 1:5 Rule
Psychologists tend to agree that for every negative experience, a person needs 5 positive experiences to maintain a healthy, happy relationship.
Forgive (and let it go)
Resist the urge to bring up the incident over and over again. If you truly forgive someone, let it go. Learn from the past but always bringing it up won't help heal the hurt.
What are things you have done to help heal the hurts in your family relationships? Comment below!
It was nearly 70 degrees today, and if you live in the Midwest, 70 degrees in February is just as strange as hearing about snow in Florida in June. Yet, the weather didn't care that it was acting against expectation. It did what it wanted, and so we basked in the uncharacteristically warm WINTER weather.
I let the boys nap in our new hammock while I read. With their little arms around me, I soaked up their cuddles. As I listened to the birds chirp, I thought about how many naps in the history of naps have been taken outside, how much more peaceful it is, and how much longer the boys slept. What was it about nature that made it so peaceful? Obviously, other people agree because a lot of "spa" music is really just nature sounds; even sound machines have brook or wind settings.
Nature makes you happy
What is it about the outside that makes you happy? The answer is in the history books. Or, Aristotle's book to be precise. Aristotle said:
“The happy life is thought to be virtuous; a virtuous life requires exertion, and does not consist in amusement.”
What does that have to with being outside? Many people fall into the trap of looking for happiness in pleasure (amusement). When we are amused or pleased, it is a passive action. Something is pleasing to us. We don't do the pleasing or amusing; we are merely recipients of the pleasure. That's not to say that life isn't made sweeter by such pleasures but a cupcake isn't going to give you lasting joy.
Yet, when we do (rather than being a passive recipient) we have the opportunity to find happiness. We do by serving others, consciously practicing gratefulness, showing kindness to others. If Aristotle was right, then being outdoors and walking/hiking/swimming/kayaking is an exertion too. It is something we must do; it cannot be done to us. Nature helps us find joy because it forces to do. To live. To be present and active in our own life.
Of course, there are many other benefits to being outside.
What do you like to do outside? How do you feel after a long day spent in nature?
"The only thing you are supposed to do is to live a wholehearted life. Whatever you do: do it wholeheartedly. Whatever you want to be: be it wholeheartedly."
You Are Enough
Guest post by Melissa Robbins // My name is Melissa. I'm a human, wife, mother, personal trainer and life coach. I'm just trying to make the world a little better, happier and healthier.
I told my crying, overtired baby that I wasn't a great mom today but tomorrow I'll be better.
It was a "shot day" for my 15 month old son, so off to the doctor we went. Afterwards we dropped him off at his grandparents like we do every Tuesday. When I picked him up that afternoon I was thinking that I really needed to give him some one-on-one attention ... then I got an email for a last minute webinar so I watched it while he played. I put him in his high chair, fed him dinner and took a call from a friend I wanted to catch up with. Before I knew it he was having to visibly show me it was time for him to go to bed. Most days I'm patient and attentive but on this day I told my crying, overtired baby that I wasn't a great mom today but I'd be better tomorrow. And you know what, I'm still a great mom. I'm still enough.
I don't doubt myself. Do I think I do everything perfectly? No, not even close. But that's not what I think makes a great mom, or a great anything for that matter.
I don't know the true definition of perfection but I do know what it is not. Perfectionism is NOT the same thing as striving to do your best and it is NOT self-improvement. Perfectionism is really just the quickest path to anxiety, depression and life paralysis. I struggle a bit (or a lot) with bouts of depression in the winter. And typically by February I'm really having to work hard to keep myself peaceful and healthy, so this winter I've found my cure... I'm still running and walking outside even though I don't like the cold. And here is the best part, it was doctor prescribed!
To equip the stroller for these winter excursions I've got all the goods: a wool seat cover to keep him nice and toasty, all the winter clothing he can fit, and even a weather shield to encompass the entire stroller. Someone actually scolded me for taking my child out in the cold for my own selfish reasons. For the record, not one part of his body was bothered by the cold. In fact, when I took him out of the stroller his back was sweaty. This exchange did not for one second make me question my parenting. It did, however, make me question our society.
We live in a society that has a really, really long list of unwritten rules. Bylaws that we live by because we are "supposed" to. The way you are supposed to live, work, look, be and the things you are supposed to have. What are the consequences of breaking those rules... nothing.
We are paralyzed by the fear that everyone else may not approve. We're missing the mark. In my opinion (and I think it's a good one) the only thing you are supposed to do is to live a wholehearted life. Whatever you do: do it wholeheartedly. Whatever you want to be: be it wholeheartedly. In the spirit of this holiday season I urge you to take a vow with me. Vow to give up the ever illusive perfect life and start living wholeheartedly. I promise you that I will always support you in that. There will be days that you did it all really, really well and then there will be days that you put your crying, overtired baby to bed and tell him you weren't a great parent today but tomorrow you'll do better. And you'll still be great.
You'll still be enough.
Sweat & Smiles,
Like the article? Let Melissa know!
It's okay to make mistakes. We all make mistakes. (Even the sanctimommies.)
In life (and ESPECIALLY in parenting), it's easy to be hard on ourselves for mistakes... to obsess over them. After all, those little people that we are responsible for? Our mistakes affect them. Our mistakes can hurt them.
But don't forget that you are human too.
You are ever learning and ever growing.
The human heart is resilient
The next time you make a mistake, don't dwell on it.
Remember, you are not alone
Look for an accountability partner: a spouse, an mom friend on the internet, a sibling or other relative. Sometimes just talking about mistakes and shortcomings helps make overcoming them easier.
What do you do when you make a mistake? How do you keep your mistakes from dampening the joy in your life?
You could say that tidying orders the mind while cleaning purifies it. - Marie Kondo
I am no stranger to mess; in fact, it is par for the course that as I vacuum the house, the crumbs revolt and bring in the reinforcements. Apparently, it is also an unspoken rule that if I clean the windows, they must be smudged, licked, or otherwise made dirty before the day is done. Also, the laundry. Enough said. Like I said, I am no stranger to mess, but I do not like it. Getting rid of messes is a two step process: first, clean then tidy.
It's easy to stay organized and on top of chores when I stick to my schedule, but it is ever so easy to get off track. I notice that when I get off track, I also start to feel disorganized mentally too. Staying organized contributes to an overall more relaxing and inviting home.
Organization leads to less stress
Who hasn't done the crazy "guests-are-coming-over-so-clean-all-the-things" shuffle? I, for one, have. And you know what? I don't like it because then I'm all sweaty after rushing to get a day's worth of cleaning done in 10 minutes. Staying on top of cleaning chores definitely leads to lowered stress levels because there is no "last minute rush."
Organization also leads to less stress in terms of paperwork and bills. In between all of our seven moves, it was a struggle to get track of all of our important documents. So when we were finally done with storage units and temporary apartments, it was so exciting (.... yep, exciting) to set up a filing cabinet with all of our papers. No more digging around for important papers. Way less stresss!
Organization leads to healthier homes
When was the last time you washed your curtains? Or deep cleaned your carpets? Keeping track of less-regular chores can help make sure that you do remember to do them when it's time... which leads to a cleaner (and therefore healthier) home.
Organizing saves you time
Even if you put in extra time at the start of an organizational project, staying organized saves you time in the long run.
Staying organized means more time to play
If you're not wasting time looking for stuff, that leaves more time ... to play.
Tips to staying organized
Once you get into a organizational routine, stick with it. There's a lot of debate on the exact number, but a lot of experts agree that it takes around 90-100 days to really establish a habit. Do your best to stay consistent.
Use a planner
This is my favorite favorite way to stay organized. I have used a paper planner since high school, and it's the only way for me to stay organized in terms of errands, appointments, and bills. I've tried countless apps but I'll always be a paper and pen girl.
Have you ever tried a paper planner? The Organized Marie planner, which has monthly and weekly layouts, has sections for personal and work goals, appointments, and errands. Right now, you can grab this planner for 30% when you use my PROMO code: Katie30.
Label the days of the week
I started organizing and planning a week at glance. Starting on Sunday, I go through the week and write what needs to be done on a dry erase board. Some people might like to do it all digital with an app but I like seeing the board hanging up so I can see it when I pass by it. In addition to this, I also put my meal planning on that board too. (Meal planning is another recent organizational tool that I have come to love!)
If a chore or task is not specifically labeled as Susan's task or Fred's then let's face it, it's not going to get done. Sit down with your family and divide each task or chore, then this task won't end up being neglected.
Affiliate disclaimer: Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase something, fill out a form or just by clicking on a link, I will usually receive an affiliate commission. That said, I only recommend products, companies or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Love is not an emotion. (Joy is an emotion and many people do experience joy as a result of love.)
Love is an action - a decision to "will the good of another." Because love is an action, that also means that love (and consequently any and all relationships) require work. But... family life is busy. Between the constant needs of children, the demands of work, the unending household chores... how can you maintain the relationships you cherish? Of course, you show love to you family when do you things like feed them nourishing food or clean their clothes, but sometimes you need a little bit more than that to really keep those connections strong. Here are four tips to strengthen any relationship - spouse, child, or even a friend.
Always tell the truth
This one might seem obvious, but there's no quicker relationship damper than a lie. It's not always easy nor pleasant but having an open line of communication with your spouse is a guaranteed way to strengthen the relationship. Working through difficult situations can actually become a source of renewal in a relationship but only if the journey is not dotted with lies.
For children, reassuring them of your love can help keep lying at bay. Telling lies can become a self-preservation mechanism if s/he thinks love will be withdrawn. A few weeks ago, I noticed my son had an accident but hid the evidence. I found the evidence and questioned him. He looked into my eyes and denied it - despite the fact that it was obvious. I told him I knew the truth and he looked flustered. "I didn't want to get in trouble," he explained. Of course, who would want to get in trouble? No one. I reminded him that no matter what, I always love him. Even if he does something wrong, I do not love him less. He immediately relaxed and confessed. The next day, he spilled some milk and came running to me. "Mama, I made a mess. I'm telling you the truth." At least for now, he no longer feels the need to lie about messes because he knows my love is unconditional.
Wait for the right moment to give correction
I recently read an article about a father who defines his parenting style as "Mary Poppins" - for every medicine (correction or discipline) he gives, he first makes sure to lay on the sugar (love). I found this to be such a brilliant way to look at parenting and how true it is!
How often have you been corrected and, instead of allowing the advice to better yourself, felt only bitterness at having been corrected? Have you ever done 10 things right and received criticism on the one thing you did wrong? It doesn't feel good, does it? In any relationship, there will be a time where one person offers constructive (hopefully, it's constructive) criticism. The key to offering the advice without damaging the relationship or crushing the spirit is to be careful attention to when you offer the criticism. Whether it's a spouse or child, how you to choose to give criticism or correction can really affect your relationship. No one wants to be corrected in front of a whole group of people; if you can, pull aside your partner or child and speak privately. Don't add embarrassment to the issue at hand.
Set them up to win
Setting up your spouse/friend/child to win is a great way to strengthen your relationship. Why does this work? When you support someone, they feel encouraged, motivated, and loved by you which in turn creates a stronger bond between the two of you. This doesn't have to be anything extravagant; support can be something as simple as making their day easier.
Learn their love language (and yours too while you're at it)
One of my favorite family-oriented books is the Love Language series by Gary Chapman. The premise of these books is that every experiences love in difference "languages." Learning the love language of your son, daughter, or spouse can dramatically affect your relationship.
My older son's love language is quality time, and I see instantly how he is transformed by some good ol' one-on-one time. It doesn't matter if I buy him a boatload of new toys or spend 5 hours in the kitchen making him his favorite food or praising him for an hour, nothing says "I love you" (to him) like getting on the floor and playing trains or puzzles or building with Lincoln Logs.
What are ways that you implement these four tips? Comment below!
Meditation is one of the oldest ways to center yourself, regulate your emotions, and de-stress. However, it's hard to squeeze in a yoga and/or meditation session in between diaper changes, work commitments, errands, driving here and there, cooking dinner, washing laundry, rewashing laundry, folding laundry, sweeping, and... the list goes on. What's a mama (or papa) to do?
Meditation doesn't have to take place in a studio led by a yogi master. Meditation is a lot simpler. At its simplest, meditation refers to peace that comes from calming the mind. Here are three ways to meditate even when you are short on time.
Use meditation to de-stress, calm the mind, and experience peace
Fix your gaze
If you went to a traditional meditation class, you would learn about Drishti, which is a term for focusing your eyes on one spot. Sometimes, as we feel the stresses of life intensify, our roving eyes can add to the sensory overload. Want to try it? Pick an object (a spot on the wall, a picture frame, the corner of a rug) and fix your gaze on the object for at least 30 seconds. This dramatically reduces the "overload" sensations in your brain, allowing the motion to give way to stillness.
As any laboring mother can tell you, deep breathing is a helpful meditation tool - not because it relieves pain, but because it helps calm the body. Shallow breathing can contribute to panic, while deeper breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system controls the actions of a body at rest. Deep breathing is easy to do no matter how busy you are. You have to breath anyway, so make it count. :)
Share the moment
While we're on the topic of brain activity, when you make yourself vulnerable and share with another human, oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is nicknamed the "feel-good hormone." When you share your stresses and feelings with another, you make yourself vulnerable and can experience a boost in mood thanks to oxytocin. Try deep breathing with a friend, spouse, or even your child. It's never too early to teach the healing powers of meditation to your little ones.
What is your favorite way to meditate? Comment below!
Wife & Mama with a passion for peaceful parenting, natural living, homeschooling... and my daily café au lait.