Here's the recipe for the yummy allergy-friendly breakfast bars that we enjoyed at our Mommy Meet-up on Monday. Enjoy!
The wind is blowing outside, and inside, my head is spinning with thoughts at the same velocity. Shopping lists, gift ideas, menu plans, party dates, and appointments swirl and twirl like a funnel cloud between my temples, making me scrunch up my forehead and clench my shoulders. "Tis the Season" is what they say, but I still wonder why I put myself in this place of scurrying stress. My rational mind knows what is truly important at this holiday time, and I've taken many things off of my To Do list. With purpose, I have given up baking the dozens of cookies, sending out paper cards, and I have downsized the household decorations. I know that this time is about peace and joy and love and family, yet I still get caught up in the frantic energy all around me. I am having a very hard time settling myself down, grounding myself in the present moment. And I am an adult. A grown-up.
Imagine if I was a kid.
The excitement of Santa alone is enough to send kids spinning, and now he even has a magic Elf that comes to life inside the house every night... Television commercials show the best toys that everyone needs to have... Families are busier than ever, so more meals are on the run... Bedtimes are pushed back, but wake-up times are as early as usual...
Kids are tired and cranky. Parents are tired and cranky. Is this what "Tis the Season" is all about?
I know. I've been there. I am there. I am not the expert nor a shining example of staying grounded during the holiday season, but I do know that I can step back and pause for a few moments to practice during this week. I also know that when I mindfully pause and connect with myself, nurturing myself, I am better equipped to help settle the minds and bodies of my children so that we can all experience peace and joy and love as a family. I will practice mindfulness this week.
Here is my plan:
1. I will take 5 minutes to myself in the morning to mindfully enjoy my coffee (tea, water, juice, etc.) in the morning. Even if it is only for the first sip, I will taste it fully and thank it for giving me what I need.
2. When I go outside during the day, I will notice something new. Just one thing.
3. I will plan to have at least one screen-free family meal together each night, with eye contact and conversations. It doesn't matter what we eat, take-out is fine, but we will sit around a table together to connect and talk about our day.
4. I will get in bed by 10pm each night. No matter how many things I have not accomplished, they can wait until tomorrow. They really can. (And that means kids are upstairs early too.)
Other things that help me feel more connected are grounding yoga poses like cat/cow and reclined goddess, and spinal twists help me unwind, especially at night. My teenage kids even enjoy twists sometimes as part of their bedtime routine. I like using soothing essential oils like lavender or sandalwood, too, mixed with sesame oil for topical use or mixed with distilled water to use as an aromatherapy spray. I've been known to mist my kids' rooms on occasion before bed, and even though they roll their eyes, it does help to settle them down. (And it masks the sweaty sock scent in my boys' rooms! Bonus!)
I know that my practice in grounding will not be perfect, but that's ok. I also know that my kids won't magically become calm peace angels as a result of my practice, but that's ok too. This is why we call it a "practice." (And it is a continual one!) How do you ground yourself during this busy time of year? I'd love to share ideas in the comment section.
Ho Ho Ho and Namaste!
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we took a family vacation. Almost two weeks have passed since we returned home, and yet it seems like the trip was a lifetime ago.
And this was not an ordinary trip. It was pretty epic.
We saw BIG rocks,
and Kings and Queens!
The most amazing part of all, though, was that we were screen-free for the majority of the trip. No phones, tablets, laptops, or gaming devices were allowed. THAT was something special. We looked... no, we SAW things. Lots of things. We had our eyes open- open to new things, old things, funny and weird things, awe-inspiring things, and everything was magic. I have decided to call that kind of seeing "Vacation Vision." It's the sight that happens when you go someplace new.
This morning, almost two weeks after that epic trip, I realized my Vacation Vision has vanished amongst grocery store shopping, folding loads of laundry, checking Facebook, transporting kids to lessons, sending email, and hanging decorations around the house. I've noticed that I'm NOT noticing things. I'm distracted. I'm right here, doing stuff, but I'm not seeing. For some strange reason, my Vacation Vision is turned off.
So, right now, this second, I have decided to turn it back on. This will be my practice today. I will open my eyes and let my Vacation Vision help me see, because there is some pretty epic stuff happening here at home, too. I just need to be present and notice.
Can you turn on your Vacation Vision? What magic do you see?
Photo credits: Martin Bispels
Glowing, buzzing, happy feelings are still flowing inside my heart from Sunday Fun-Day Family Yoga this weekend! What a wonderful class! I am grateful for the families who chose to spend time together laughing and playing with me for an hour on Sunday afternoon.
We were big cats (ROAR!), we were snakes (Hisssssss...), we were dogs and mighty love warriors. We thanked the sun, the earth, the air and water, and shared the many things that make us feel grateful. Sometimes I was the leader, and sometimes the kids were the bosses showing us their favorite poses. We were a forest of trees and flying warriors, stronger together because we held each others' hands and supported each other.
We were partners, making poses together like Frog on a Log and Lizard on a Rock. We rocked our double boats, sat in double chairs, and even became double down dogs- Woof! Then we relaxed and rested our spaghetti arms and legs, and we even let the Moms rest a bit longer, all tucked in with their blankets, while the kids drew pictures and wrote about things that made them feel thankful. They hung them on our Gratitude Tree. Namaste!
In the meantime, if you want to practice Frog on a Log and Lizard on a Rock with your family, here is how to do it!
Frog on a Log
First, the BIG person needs to make their way into Child's Pose:
1. Find tabletop position, with hands stacked under shoulders and knees stacked under hips.
2. Allow your knees to widen to mat distance with big toes together, and move your hips down to rest on your feet. Arms remain stretched out in front of you, and your forehead rests gently on the mat. Take a deep breath and exhale, relaxing into the pose.
Next, the LITTLE person should come around to the back of the BIG person and sit gently and MINDfully down on the BIG person's sacrum (that flat triangle-shaped bone at the end of your spine.)
You are now a Frog on a Log!
Lizard on a Rock
1. Start in the Frog on a Log partner pose. (See above!)
2. The LITTLE person now should gently, MINDfully lay all the way down so that their back is leaning on the BIG person's back.
3. The LITTLE person can open their arms wide for a beautiful stretch that opens up their heart space. (And meanwhile, the BIG person is getting a luscious press in Child's Pose that feels like heaven.)
You are now a Lizard on a Rock!
4. To come out of the pose, the BIG person can gently, MINDfully bring their upper body upright by moving their hands under their shoulders and using their arms to press up while the LITTLE person finds their feet on the ground to stand up.
Give it a try, and I hope to see you with your family on December 14th!
While it feels like just yesterday I was stepping on Legos and tripping over wooden train tracks, my boys are suddenly teenagers. Big teenagers. To an outsider, it may look like I've hit the home stretch- and yes, I would agree that they are fine young men. They are entertaining, social kids, they do well in school, and they are relatively self-sufficient. I am fortunate to have mothered these handsome, gigantic offspring through each stage of their lives. If I were to be absolutely honest, however, I would admit that I have had moments when I have not felt this way. At all. Because kids are hard. Sometimes they are really hard, and it can be tough to take a step back and appreciate the good in those tough times.
Last week, I taught a wiggly class of preschoolers, and we worked with the concept of Gratitude. A big word for 3 and 4 year olds, but gratitude was shared for things like food ("I say, 'Thank You' for giving me ice cream."), animals ("I am happy that I have my dog."), and the sun ("Thank you sun, for making me warm.") Concrete examples of "things," which is exactly what preschoolers are able to notice.
I vividly remember all of the "things" of that stage of our lives. How has it been a decade ago? Legos on the floor. Fish crackers ground into the carpet. Action figures with tiny ray guns that got stuck between the cushions of the couch. Mysterious sticky goo...
And me, a mother of three with unrealistic expectations for appearances and cleanliness, I was a miserable mess at times, just wishing that we could "get through" this stage, and the children would grow up and things would be better. We would be the perfect family when they got older.
Suddenly here we are with grown up teenage children, and while they are lovely human beings, life hasn't suddenly become perfect as a result of the passage of time. Now guitars and drumsticks are strewn across couches, smelly wet towels are left on the carpet, socks are shoved between couch cushions, and yes, there is still mysterious sticky goo...
Yet it is me who has changed over this passage of time, and it has been a practice of patience, awareness, and love. I have always been grateful for my family, my loves, but I set up unrealistic expectations of both them and myself with perfection as the goal. I have only recently become grateful for the not so pretty stuff. We are not perfect. We never will be perfect. It's okay. I am growing up as a Mother, with a daily practice of letting go of perfection and allowing myself to observe my life with gratitude.
The teeny tiny Lego pieces, action figures, guitars, and drumsticks all resonate with creative energy. When they are out in the open, creativity is happening. Fish crackers and smelly socks mean we have enough to eat and clothing to keep us warm. And wet towels mean that the boys are actually showering- which has been an ongoing boy battle for many years. They smell good now! How awesome is that?
I've finally realized that this time that we have together as a family- all under the same roof- is ticking away, and I want to (I need to) focus my energy on gratitude. I must be fully present in all of the moments in our life. Yes, we do clean up after ourselves, but I am learning to let some things go. It takes practice, but now I even make some Mom messes of my own.
I am grateful for my imperfect, perfectly messy family. Thank you smelly socks. Thank you wet towels and laundry and dishes left in the sink. Thank you guitars and drumsticks and noise. Thank you tears. Thank you deep conversations. Thank you hard choices. Thank you jokes and laughter. Thank you, children of mine.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, mysterious sticky goo.
Boo! It's Halloween today, the most frightful day of the year! This week has been hauntingly fun, especially this Wednesday, when I participated in the Owen J. Roberts "Safe Trick or Treat Night" sponsored by the Roberts Education Association. Thousands of Ninja Turtles, Elsa princesses, ghosts, witches, and goblins were set loose throughout the halls of the High School. The air was electric with energy, and when the kiddos made their way to the Fit For Life table, they were treated to some Spooky Yoga.
Some dove right onto the mats, making turtle poses in their turtle costumes and becoming dancing princesses, but others were apprehensive at first. I noticed, however, as they were invited to try a pose or two, that many quickly asked to try another one. And another one. And another one! Click here to see the Spooky Yoga in action!
This time of year can be an anxious one for kids. School is in full swing, extra-curricular activities are underway, and the holidays are beginning. Life is busy and full for all of us, and like the colorful leaves blowing in the autumn wind, we often have trouble finding time to be still and unwind. It can make us feel like we can't catch our breath, which is why it is so important to make time to breathe on purpose.
Children love to work with their breath. Making it into a game or playful pretend is the best way to practice breathing exercises with kids. Balloon breath is an easy exercise to try before going to bed at night. Laying on our backs, we can pretend that our belly is a balloon. Breathe in to inflate the balloon, making it nice and big. Then, we can slowly exhale the air out of our balloons until they are empty and flat. Try counting the seconds that you breathe in, and then try to make the exhale a little longer than the inhale. For example, breathe in 1...2...3...4, and then exhale 5...4...3...2...1. Try a few rounds of counting balloon breath and then let breathing return to normal. Ask your child how their body feels after working with balloon breath. Most likely, they will feel like going to sleep! (But with kids, we can only hope, right?)
Give balloon breath a try, and let me know in the comments below how it works with your little turtles and princesses (and ghosts and goblins).
"Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with with love and reverence." Henry David Thoreau
We are all on a path, and whether it is a yellow brick road, a narrow and crooked one, or the one less traveled, we have no choice but to follow our hearts. My heart has led me here, to this place, and I am excited to skip, jump, and hop along it with children through the practice of yoga. While yoga has been around for a very long time, and it has become more widely practiced in mainstream life, I feel like there is a new awakening in the world of children's yoga.
Last month, I attended the first National Kids Yoga Conference in Washington DC. At that event I was immediately surrounded by a community of friends (we called ourselves Love Zombies), some who have been clearing the way and paving the road for others, like me, who are taking our first steps. It was an experience that cemented this life choice that I have made. Sharing yoga with children and youth is something that is not just a job or career for me, it is a passage to a place that feels like home.
I am very excited to announce the first class offering that will begin on November 16th- Sunday Family Fun-Day Yoga! Join me for some playful family bonding time beginning at 1:30pm at BRV Yoga in Kimberton. Click here for details, and I look forward to seeing you there!