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.

We Marched

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This Saturday, we joined the masses in the Women’s March. I definitely didn’t want to miss it and my daughter was happy to attend as she has learned already (at 4) that ‘Trump doesn’t like girls, and we’re girls mama!’ She made a sign, i knit pussyhats, and packed snacks.

More importantly, we had a good conversation with her and her older brother about what it means to be a feminist, an ally, what privilege means, and how to make our voice heard. My son joined us for the march too, as we have been talking about how language is powerful and about consent. As a white woman, who is currently able-bodied and partnered with a man, i know i have a lot of privilege. I work on being an ally and to unlearn the mis-truths i’ve been taught. I know it’s also my place to teach this to my children. We don’t know yet who they will love, but we do know that they need to learn more about being an ally and about consent.

Both my children know about consent and the correct words for their bodies. My daughter in fact used her knowledge of consent recently when she wanted to cut her long hair into a bob. I was suggesting just a trim, but she wanted more – ‘my body my choice mama’ is what i got. Of course i couldn’t challenge that. My daughter is also a hugger and a really good one at that. We are working on reminding her too about needing consent from others. It’s a continuous conversation surely.
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My daughter decided against carrying a poster so she wore our Vagina Activist pin proudly. We have discussions about gender fluidity often. Miss M has a good understanding of this, so she wore the pin in reference to her own vagina and her rights. I appreciate that. We’ve been talking a lot about gender and labels, and my son is quick to remind us that he has pushed boundaries with his clothes in the past. In the context of my work, my kids know too that not all women are mothers, and not all parents who birth babies or chestfeed are mothers. This will be an on-going conversation too as they get older and unpack things more.

It was a peaceful march, a walk really. My son called it a ‘standstill’ at one point for all the standing we did too. They learned some powerful songs and chants, and read some great posters. My daughter took notice of all the other Pussyhats that looked like ours. For these reasons, i believe whole-heartedly that there is a place for children at marches. It teaches this new generation that change is possible, and that we can be at the centre of making change.

The people united will never be defeated.

The Art of Living

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Happy New Year! I hope you had a restful holiday season and took some time to yourself. I know how hard that can be, so i don’t take my saying this lightly.

This past weekend, we went through our Gratitude Jar (see here for a reference ). It was just what we needed after a busy week, to sit down together and read summaries of each week of 2016. While there were some lows, we were able to sit and laugh and reflect on the highs more.

I think this gave me some insight to the above quote: “The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to your children.” I saw it recently and it really sat with me. The author of the quote is Elaine Heffner and she writes on Good Enough Mothering.

I know that i am like so many others when i say ‘i had such a hard day’ but when i sit and reflect on it, sure one part was AWFUL (like when my son bit my daughter, when my daughter had a high fever and all our plans had to change, when my son called me a fricken’ stupidhead, you get the picture) but other parts were fantastic. Like when my kids went rock climbing for the first time, or when we had a blast bowling. Each day has some good parts in it. And if it hasn’t yet by 8:00pm, i make a point to do something nice for myself intentionally.

I’m not one to do New Year’s Resolutions as i think it puts a lot of pressure on, but i like the idea to set an intention or to use a Core Word that helps motivate me. This year, i’m going to focus on Breathe – to breath in and out before i respond to my kids’ when they are entering Bananas Zone. And for myself when i start to feel like a chicken with her head cut off.

I think this will help me teach the art of living to my kids – to stop and take a breathe, to notice things around me, to bring joy into the mundane parts of my life. I am working on creating a balance with what i need as a woman, and to be present for my children. It’s my job as a parent to teach this balance to them. I think this is the ‘art’ part of living. Kids can teach us about being mindful too – i love watching my daughter draw forever, and my son is devouring books. I need to remind them that it is important to create this balance so that our needs don’t collide. It’s a good lesson too that our children can teach us the adults about living as well.

Expectations Versus Reality: The Sugar Plum Fairy Didn’t Make the Cut

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The month of December is a whirlwind of busy-ness – holiday parties, things to make, presents to buy, school concerts, and more. It also marks my birthday on top of everything else. This year i thought it would be great to introduce my kids to The Nutcracker ballet.

I was wrong.

Now, to give me some credit, my kids already know the story. We read the book numerous times over the year, and that much more in December. We also have seen the New York City Ballet movie production of it, complete with a young McCauley Caulkin. We have even acted out the play at home, where i got to wear my old ballet shoes and wedding dress. Yes my wedding dress! And we listen to the sweet audio story by Sparkle Stories where the big brother Martin (age 7) gets to go to see the ballet with his mom. As my kids are similar ages to this story, i was sure that they could sit through a dance school’s production of it.

Oh, and i need to mention that my kids also attend dance classes themselves and have been in dance recitals. So, let’s just say i did my research and thought they were ready to share something that i love and was so eager to invite them into.

If i may back up a bit, i also had a birthday party out on the town the night before, which means my kids stayed up late too with their babysitter. My son (i’m sure) did not get enough sleep. So, in his excitement and with lack of proper sleep, he is not the most cooperative of folks. Who is, right?

At intermission i should have taken their behaviour as a clue to leave – they were irritable, loud, whiny and agitated. But i truly just wanted to sit through the second half and bear witness to the lovely Sugar Plum Fairy and company, and to see my kids excitement of it all.

Needless to say, i was that mom who had to shush her kids loudly many times, and to tell them to get their feet off the chair in front of them, and to sit still and be quiet, and to cuddle/hold them down from leaving their seat. It was rough but i also refused to leave.

It was a lovely show and i’m so glad that we chose a small dance school’s production as their initiation to the ballet, and not the professional dance company. I’m also glad we were in the cheap seats surrounded by other young families.

As we walked out of the theatre, my son declared ‘i never want to do THAT again.’ After my heart fell a few inches, i agreed with him that this was a bad day to choose to go. Who knew but hindsight. And then my sweet boy backtracked and said ‘well, let’s not do that after i stay up late and have a bad sleep.’

I couldn’t agree more.

Next year we may not go to see the ballet in person but i’m sure to be more mindful both of their need for sleep as well as my need to have the birthday i’d like. That may mean doing things a bit different as the mom to young kids, and that may mean i get to celebrate my birthday on another day and over the course of a few days. And not all if it with my kids in tow. That’s ok too.

How to Bring Joy

We’re in the midst of the holiday season right now. Our home is decorated, we’ve already watched seasonal movie classics, our holiday records are on the ready, and we have been excited about our Advent Calendar each day. It’s hard to not be excited about the holidays, when you have small children it’s almost a contagious feeling.

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But, there are times when it’s just so.much.work to be happy and on top of things. We did two holiday fairs yesterday alone. We had to see Santa and we had to see the Good Witch too. So that means TWO full fairs that are normally not on the same day, nor should they be.

So, as someone who tries to live with an intentional word for each day, i made a point to bring JOY into my day yesterday. And you know what, it worked! I had a blast – i was in there when it came to strolling in the school halls of standing room only busy-ness. I caught myself smiling while watching my happy kids talk to Santa. And i loved how earnest they were in their wishes this year – my son wants a Star Wars Lego toy more than anything, but when Santa also offered Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, my son thought it was best to wait for that request until next year. Thank goodness – little does he know i’m making him just a regular Hogwart’s cloak. My daughter – well she asked for a ride on a unicorn as her special gift from the heart. Of course she did.

I know it can be so hard to get into the holiday spirit and this time of year can be especially triggering for some of you. It’s also hard to spend extended time with family, and their unwelcome and unkind comments. While we can’t control other people’s comments, nor can we wave a magic wand a la Harry Potter, i do think it’s a good practice to reclaim the holiday spirit and work at staying positive. I love the workbook Mind Over Mood, and i also love the mindfulness practice of the holidays – the scents, sounds, visuals, tastes, and the cozy textures are a great way to absorb Joy for instance. Even when i can’t escape the hecticness, the work, or the stress, i know i can come home and put my cozy red slippers on and drink a hot cocoa – complete with Elizabeth Mitchell Christmas album.

I guess i’m a kid at heart – it doesn’t have to be hard to be this month!

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.