Live What You Love

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While at my local dollar store to get goodies for the kids’ Valentine’s Day crafts,i walked by this lovely painting. It really spoke to me. On this day of love, it’s a good reminder to ‘live what you love.’ What it looks like for me may differ what it means to you. But, it is a great reminder to hold onto what we love. When we are losing ourselves to our children. When we are repeating the daily grind over and over (and over) again. When we have changed yet another poopy diaper.

At the end of each day, take a moment to think about something you did that you love. It might be a new thing that you enjoy to do or eat. In order to move past the Groundhog Day of daily life with children, it is a great activity to add in the mix something for us.

For me, i made a point to get myself flowers i love. I am sitting here in my cozy dining room, and while writing this post, i am peeking at my new bundle of ranunculus flowers. No matter what happens today, i know i gave myself a dose of self-love. That will give me a little boost in my step. What can you do today to give you some self-love?

Happy Day of Love.

Who Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

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Yesterday was a favourite day at our house. We celebrate All Hallow’s Eve (aka Halloween). Not because of the candy (but that is a lovely bonus), but rather because we love the sense of community that it honours. We live on a small street, a bit away from the hustle and bustle of our popular neighbourhood. So while we fill our bags, it’s not due to all the houses we see – it’s because of the connection we’ve built with our neighbours.

My kids went to a handful of houses and each person knew them, either by name or recognition. Most of our neighbours gave the kids small packages of candy and toys. With their name on it and everything. That meant a lot to all of us. With our bags full in just a block, we went home happy and excited.

Another reason to love All Hallows Eve is the dressing up. Of course. We all dress up in our home and make the costumes over the course of small snippets of time. We have some House Rules about costumes – can’t all be store bought, no weapons, and the final decision has to be fully chosen with 2 weeks to spare before October 31. That’s the hard part i think! So we all help make the costumes and get into the spirit.

My kids dress up on a regular basis, and love to role play. What i love is the opportunity to see the world through their eyes and some things they would like to be – whether when they grow up or in another version of their life. I also like to choose characters that i admire and would love to be in another reality.

When the night of collecting goodies was done, we got into the nitty gritty of our other tradition – looking over all the candy goodies. We have a tradition of having the Good Witch come to our place. She gets to receive the leftover candy so that she can help make Fairy Dust for the year. She thanks our kids with a present the next morning. This year, the decisions of what candy to keep were painstakingly hard. I had to hold back a few times to not prompt my kids to PICK MORE CHOCOLATE. They are into lollipops and fruit candies but i think they have no idea that they missed the abundance of wee chocolate bars that were sitting right there.

It’s a good lesson for all of us – my kids got to pick things they were excited about, do some math to count how much they get to keep, and i got to learn to breathe in breathe out. We want to give them some choice and also learn to make some critical decision-making choices, even if that means more chocolate to give away to the Good Witch (ahem, me and their dad).

I guess that’s a win-win in the end, anyway right?

Giving Thanks

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This weekend is about being thankful, about taking a moment to take notice of the things you are grateful for. It can be hard to acknowledge these things as most of us get too busy with the daily grind of life. It’s hard to s l o w d o w n and say thanks.

Of course, it doesn’t help that our kids and partners may not take a moment to say thanks to us. I hear myself saying out loud ‘thanks mom’ whenever I do something kind for my kids. Sure I’m saying it with a bit of sarcasm, but I’m also doing it to hear it said AND to model for my children that it feels good to hear it.

We have a tradition in our home to do a weekly entry in a Gratitude Jar. It’s a time that we put aside after our Sunday dinner, to reflect on the week and the things that we liked about it – or rather were thankful for. We do this weekly, and then at the end of the year – during our New Year’s Eve meal for instance – we take entries from each month and share them again. It helps keep the gratitude flowing, and it enables us to hold on to the things that were dear and meaningful and positive for us. Here’s a helpful article to make one yourself – they’re really easy to make!

I appreciate this intention – to purposefully gather together and share moments in our week that we hold special. It can be as simple as being grateful for your new toy truck, or sharing a coffee with an old friend, or being excited to be asked to be part of a new team at work. It gives us space to relish this feeling even more, giving us more time to be thankful and happy.It helps guide is to be more mindful of what is important to us, and to hold on to it.

My daughter made this poster at school this week – she shared that she is ‘thankful for my mom’s food.’ I have to say that it came perfectly time on a day that she devoured her dinner and also barely ate a morsel of food at lunch. Seeing this sweet painting sure filled me with gratitude – to her for doing this activity and also for her teacher for making a point to show the students what being thankful really is about.

How do you show your gratitude with your family? And more importantly, how do you show to yourself what you are grateful for? This weekend will be a perfect time to set aside a moment and have the intention to write 3 things you are grateful for, or go for a walk in a forest and take notice of the changing leaves – and take that time to reflect on things you are thankful for from this past month or year.
The more we practice being grateful, the more readily this practice comes. Setting this intention will enable you to take notice of it more quickly and therefore fill your being with more love and kindness.

Everything is Better Outside

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We went camping recently with our little ones. We like to do it once annually and haven’t yet gone this summer. I’m a fan of camping and being outdoors, but I’m not a very experienced camper. I am amazed by friends who can go camping for a week – I’m more of a two-night camper. And there has to be a large lake nearby to seal the deal.

On the morning of our planned trip, my daughter was having an especially strong bout of strong will and disagreement. She started Junior Kindergarten this month, and Saturdays have been especially tiresome as she is adjusting to this new routine. And, I think her quota for being nice nice to everyone and cooperative was done.

So, she argued with her big brother, she argued with me, she argued with her dad. If she could have, I think she would have argued with our turtle and cat. That said, the empathic and wise side of me knew that it’s about her feeling tired, excited and full – but in the moment, all I want to do is get the car packed asap, eat breakfast, and get her dressed. In any order.

My partner looked at me after yet another difficult moment and declared, ‘that’s it, we’re not going camping’ and I promptly stated ‘oh yeah we are, we can’t stay here all day like THIS. Remember our mantra: Everything is better outside.’

Let me explain: a few years ago, after a hard few months being indoors with the winter blahs, I was looking for support from a friend. I was sharing our feeling of cabin fever and she, a wise friend, told me that ‘everything is better outside.’ She shared that it’s almost instant, the change our body and mind feels after getting outdoors – be it your backyard, porch, sidewalk, a park.

Being the therapist that I am, I looked up more info about this theory. And sure enough, studies show that being outdoors improves mental health and well-being, fights off feelings of depression, and it also helps heal physical health issues like colds and more. Win-win, right? Here’s a good article that explains this more.

And now, I can confirm that this theory is true. On days that the kids are at each other, or are bored, or I’m feeling low or drained, I suggest going to our neighbourhood park (or even our backyard if I’m too unmotivated). My kids usually are quick to get ready and burst out the door – and if they aren’t, we pack toys and the best. snacks. ever and go.

This past weekend was the icing on the cake to prove this theory to be true. We were camping for just over 24 hours, and in that time, there was not 1 fight, we all were jovial and excited, the kids slept well and through the night, we swam our last swim of the season in a lake, and I remained calm. We all relished the outdoors and were even content with the flies and fire smoke.

So the next time you have a day that is just too much to bear, take it outside. You don’t have to do it with the kids even. Why not go outside to read a book (or who’s kidding, your social media news), enjoy a tea? You will also see that everything is better outside.