Celebrate the Season

Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 4: Make It Real!

How are you feeling right now?

If your family celebrates Thanksgiving, you might be feeling a little stuffed and sleepy, and that's okay! Winter is a time for rest and relaxation... we just need to make room for it, in the middle of all the holiday shopping - cookie baking - eggnog sipping craziness!

Dec calendar1We can do it. We've already made huge progress:

In Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 1: How to Start the Season with Comfort and Joy, we created our vision of a blissful holiday season;

with Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 2: How to Make It Meaningful, we identified the people with whom we choose to celebrate; 

and in Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 3: How to Be Happy While It's Happening, we sorted through the activities that will build our bliss-factor and released the sense of obligation and requirement that all too often permeates the season.

I think we deserve a round of applause.

Okay, now it is time to pull it all together. It's time to make a plan.

Does my saying that make you feel a little queasy? The concept of planning affects each person differently.

For some of us, a plan provides a foundation of order and statement of intent from which miracles can happen.

For others, planning feels restricting and smothering. Take a moment to connect with your body and emotions. However you feel, just accept it.

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten my promise to make this easy and fun. In this step, I am going to offer two options. Choose whichever feels good to you. Let's get started!

 

Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 4: Make a Plan that Makes It Real.

Continue reading "Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 4: Make It Real!" »


Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 3: How to Be Happy While It's Happening

Better than a bucket list and probably cheaper: It's time to build your Holiday Can-Do List!

Sweden-104689_1280I know this is what you've been waiting for.

If you already completed the activities described in Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 1: How to Start the Season with Comfort and Joy and Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 2: How to Make It Meaningful... Congratulations!

You are taking positive steps to ensure a more enjoyable and meaningful holiday season this year.

Now it's time to focus on what many of us get extra-stressed about: The list of activities that we will participate in over the next several weeks. 

Did you notice how I didn't say "must accomplish" in the coming weeks? Did you notice how I didn't call it a "To-Do" list? That's because we can reduce stress by reducing the sense of obligation and perception of requirement that we so often attach to the holidays.

Do you really need to bake twelve dozen cookies and ship them across the country? Do you really need to attend your company's and neighbors' and casual acquaintances' holiday parties?

Do you really need to complete every outstanding home improvement project before settling in to enjoy the stillness of winter?

Take just a moment and think about your holiday season last year and the year before. Was there something that especially drained your energy, your finances or your happiness? Are there any particular holiday traditions in your family that you simply dread?

I give you permission to skip them this year.

That's right. Tell them (whoever they are) that I said you can take the year off. I know, it feels scary, but you can do it. You deserve to do it. And it's not like you are going to spend the next six weeks sitting on your couch.

Unless sitting on your couch brings you joy.

Continue reading "Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 3: How to Be Happy While It's Happening" »


Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 2: How to Make It Meaningful

It can be all too easy to let your holidays be hijacked by your To-Do list.

Family-1003817_1920Turkey and stuffing? Check. Gift wrap and sugar cookies? Check. Christmas cards and colored lights and office parties? Check!

Wait... what... it's all over? I missed it??

Noooooo.

That was me, more times than I care to think about. I could never quite get my footing. The close of every year felt like I was racing to some gold-encrusted finish line, only to discover that I'd misunderstood the assignment.

When it comes to the holidays, it truly is all about the journey.

This year, I am choosing a different path. This year, I am welcoming a holiday season that is meaningful, joyful and fun!

Will you join me?

If you haven't already performed the exercises in Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 1: How to Start the Season with Comfort and Joy, I encourage you to do so now. When you have finished, you will have a beautiful new vision of how you want your holiday season to unfold.

Let's pause right now and wallow in a little holiday spirit. If your vision is written down, take a look at it. Read it out loud. If not, just take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and picture the season as you want it to be.

Have a full-blown, Technicolor daydream. Look around a bit. What are you doing? Who is there? How does it feel, spending the holidays with people that you love?

Oops. I gave it away.

The secret to making your holidays more meaningful is to make them all about connections.

Yes, there is a place for tradition and ritual. Just ask my kids about me and my Christmas tree. I seriously considered putting it up right after Halloween, but I was afraid all the lights would burn out before December rolled around.

It's bad enough that it stays up until just before Easter most years.

Ahem.

The thing is, traditions are mostly about reminding us of our connections. Our roots. Our people.

Continue reading "Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 2: How to Make It Meaningful" »


Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 1: How to Start the Season with Comfort and Joy

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you may already be feeling a bit of holiday pressure.

 

Girl-690614_1280Yes, we all know that with the autumn "harvest" complete, we are supposed to be entering a time of celebration (followed by a time of hibernation), but frequently the holidays feel like just another source of overwhelm and disappointment.

With the dawn of electricity, office jobs and shopping malls, few of us really settle in for a long winter's nap anymore.

Our regular lives are spinning ahead at full speed while we are being bombarded with every commercial enterprise's idea of just what we need for the ultimate holiday experience.

Our families start layering on invitations, expectations and obligations. Our kids begin making up Wish Lists, regardless of age or employment status.

I'm exhausted. And it's barely November.

Perhaps it doesn't have to be this way. Maybe, with just a little creativity we could experience a more... dare I say, blissful holiday season.

Anything is possible. It is, after all, winter. The season of magic, reflection and wonder!

I'm ready to try something new. Are you with me? I want my holiday season to be meaningful, refreshing and fun. So, let's choose a different course this year... We'll take it one step at a time. Nothing too strenuous. The process of feeling better should actually feel good, don't you think?

Continue reading "Your Holiday Bliss Plan, Step 1: How to Start the Season with Comfort and Joy" »


Why You Just Might Enjoy Spring Cleaning

Ah, spring. A time of rebirth and renewal. A beautiful time to lighten your load and refresh your spirit. A perfect time to clean up and clean out the excess trappings of life.

Ah, spring cleaning.

I have a confession to make. My first spring cleaning exercise this year involved taking down my Christmas tree. Yes, it came down before Easter... but not much before. It was definitely spring.

My second spring cleaning task? Peeling the purple and orange lights out of the shrubbery in front of my house. Those would be the ones that I put out for last Halloween, only we got an early snow and I never actually replaced them with the sparkly white lights reserved for Christmas.

Hmm.

For me, spring cleaning often feels like a game of catch up. I come out of hibernation sometime in March and finally get motivated to do all the jobs that I've been contemplating throughout the cold, low-energy months of winter. I guess the good news here is that I do (eventually) get motivated.

Eventually.

Continue reading "Why You Just Might Enjoy Spring Cleaning" »


Welcome, Spring!

What a glorious day. Spring is in the air and I am loving every minute of it.Spring Flower

As the snow melts, all sorts of treasures are showing up in our yard: The snow shovel that had been missing since December; two or three basketballs; a croquet mallet; a bunch of old newspapers, left moldering in a pile under the mailbox.

Yesterday, I found an unopened Fedex package on the side of the driveway. It turned out to be a DVD that I had ordered for my godson's birthday back in January. It was quite a relief to finally locate it; I had been working under the assumption that it had been delivered back around Christmas and that I had misplaced it somewhere in the house.

Of course, I had no memory of actually receiving it. That's the problem. In addition to other peri-menopausal / hormonal lapses, I have totally lost my mind. Or maybe just my memory.

I can't remember.

Continue reading "Welcome, Spring!" »


A Valentine of a Different Color

  

Valentine: a written or other artistic work, message, token, etc., expressing affection for something or someone.”

 

Greetings from Florida. We are here visiting Grandma and Grandpa, who celebrated their fifty-first wedding anniversary on Super Bowl Sunday. I guess they qualify as sweethearts. Over the years, they’ve gotten understandably good at the whole Valentine’s Day thing. They went out to dinner on Friday (to avoid the crowds and craziness) and loaded up on their favorite chocolates.

  

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom and Dad!

 

While the origins of Valentine’s Day are rather murky – and not at all about romance – it has become something of a big deal in a handful of countries, including the United States, Canada and Mexico.

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The most popular expression of love and affection? The valentine card, of course! Be they romantic or humorous; addressed to a sweetheart, family member, friend or school teacher; the Greeting Card Association estimates that one billion valentine cards will be exchanged in the US this year.

Continue reading "A Valentine of a Different Color" »


New Year's Resolutions, Made Simple

It’s already the second week in January. Have you changed your life today?

‘Tis the season for fresh starts and positive life changes. Or should I say, it is the time of year when we seem to be most inspired to make fresh starts and positive life changes. Getting our New Year’s resolutions to really stick is another matter entirely...

Some people simply refuse to make resolutions at all. Why set themselves up for the seemingly inevitable sense of failure and disappointment?

Why, indeed. Personally, I think New Year’s resolutions are a nice fit for anyone committed to intentional living – and a powerful addition to your conscious parenting toolkit. You just need to approach them in a reasonable way.

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but I will offer just a tiny reminder anyway: The only person you are responsible for is you. The only person’s life that you can successfully improve is your own. So if you are hoping to reduce family strife or improve family finances, start by taking a good look at your own behavior and see what needs a little sprucing up.

The key to success? Let it be easy. Here’s how.

Continue reading "New Year's Resolutions, Made Simple" »


Putting a Bow on 2009

"Conscious parenting is about slowing down and living in the moment; it is about finding the grace in every experience; it is about feeling gratitude for all the mysterious gifts that make up a lifetime." – Conscious Family Journal, June 2009.

Happy New Year!

We are not big partiers in the Brown household. The past few days have been spent quietly at home – playing in the snow; trying out new board and video games; entertaining a few close friends.

Almost staying up ‘til midnight, to ring in the New Year.

So far, 2010 feels a lot like 2009: mostly good. Still, when I logged into Facebook the other day, several friends were lamenting the year just finished, hoping for a better one this time around. The television is showing one montage after another, displaying in exhaustive detail all the negative headlines of 2009.

For a minute or two, they started to draw me in. Wow, I forgot all that bad stuff. Maybe I shouldn’t be feeling this happy right now. Am I crazy, or just naïve?

Continue reading "Putting a Bow on 2009" »


A Conscious Family Christmas

With all the holiday hustle and bustle, it might seem impossible to practice conscious parenting. Don’t give up. A little Christmas spirit is all you need.

What are your favorite Christmas memories?

When you stop and reflect, do you conjure up scenes of snow-covered hills, crackling fires, hot cocoa and sugar cookies? Do you see a family gathered around a bejeweled Christmas tree, with colorfully wrapped packages piled all around? Can you hear the sounds of caroling; or the music of children’s laughter?

For many of us, these are the images of a perfect Christmas. But here’s the rub: For most of us, the images are not an exact match for our real-life experiences, past or present. (Are you thinking, “Not even close”?)

How was your Christmas, this year? Perhaps you felt disconnected from your children, spouse or other relatives. Was someone tired and cranky all day long? (Was it you?) Perhaps you are now feeling torn between a week of festivities with the family and a week of mind-numbing, year-end, something-or-other at work.

Maybe you just missed out on the magic of it all.

Continue reading "A Conscious Family Christmas" »


Finding Christmas

On being grateful, no matter what the holidays bring.

Well, it is Christmas Eve and the local police and fire department just left my driveway.

Ahh.

We are all safe and sound. The soup pan that had been boiling away on the stove while we were all locked out of the house is resting comfortably out in the snow. My house did not burn down (although it’s rather stinky), despite my seemingly best efforts.

Thank You God.

So here is the chain of events: We came home from a lovely Christmas Eve service and the boys asked to stop over at the neighbors’ house, where a party was underway. I went home, where some leftover soup from dinner was sitting on the stove. I thought, “That looks good. Why don’t I just finish it off?”

I turned on the stove.

Continue reading "Finding Christmas" »


Checking in on Christmas

Conscious parenting tips for the busiest time of the year.

Seasons greetings from our family to yours. I just wanted to check in on all your holiday festivities. How’s it going?

As I write this, I am sitting in front of a crackling fire. Our tree is lit and my beloved older son just made me a steaming cup of hot cocoa. In a Santa Claus mug.

Woohoo.

This is not to suggest that everything is done. In fact, there were some anxious moments in the Brown household this past weekend. I lost the keys to the “gift closet”. All the Christmas goodies are locked in that closet and after two days of fruitless searching, we were all getting a bit frantic.

It should be noted that both boys admitted to trying to pick the lock in the past. (I think) I am happy to report that they were unsuccessful. Still, they might have saved me a few hours of craziness...

Continue reading "Checking in on Christmas" »


The First Snow

"Winter is the time of promise because there is so little to do - or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so."    ~ Stanley Crawford

For many of us, this weekend marked the first real snow of the season. How lovely!

Of course, it was also the day that we discovered (once again) how much the boys have grown over the past year. Nothing fit. We will need new snow jackets, new ski pants and new boots.

For now, though, we are making do. My older son is layering sweatshirts and a down vest. My younger son is wearing my jacket to school (and it is scary, how well it fits him.)

Mostly, we are just enjoying the snow. Everything looks fresh and white. The air is crisp and clear. And thankfully, the sun is shining again. If conscious parenting is about paying attention to small joys and everyday miracles, this is a great day for it.

We are starting to get ready for Christmas, but trying not to rush. I am consciously allowing myself to experience each moment of the season this year. This includes only doing what feels like fun -- and making sure that I am enjoying my time with my children. 

Ice2

On that note: I've been working on a photo project for the last couple hours. More like fighting with a photo project. My camera, the SD card, my computer (this website)... nothing is cooperating. So, I'm done.

At least for now.

In lieu of some beautiful pictures of this year's first snow (please just imagine those), I offer last year's ice storm, which was also quite lovely in its own way.

I'm heading out for a walk in the snow. Time to clear some mental cobwebs and absorb some holiday spirit. 

I hope you will do the same.

Related Posts:

For more ideas on how to practice conscious parenting during the holiday season, see "Easing into Christmas".

Holidays can be stressful for caregivers. For some creative ideas on how to take better care of yourself, please see, "The Perfect Gift".

Ready for some quality time with the kids? Check out "Bedtime Stories for the Holidays". Enjoy!

 


Easing into Christmas

 

What a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Together with over sixty relatives and friends, the Brown family celebrated for three days straight.

 

We gave thanks for good health and good fortune. We said “Happy Birthday” and “Happy Holidays.” We took family photos, documenting the rapid growth of our children and the graceful aging (we hope) of the rest of us.

 

We ate and ate and ate and ate.

 

We shopped (just a little.)

 

By Saturday afternoon, everyone was loading suitcases and fueling automobiles, trying to beat the Sunday traffic. I think we all succeeded. Although, I haven’t gotten an official report from one of my sisters, who was driving overnight with her husband and six kids, from upstate New York to North Carolina.

 

Whew.

 

As we pulled back into town yesterday, we started noticing Christmas lights. Some of our neighbors have been busy little beavers. (Although, I suspect a couple of them leave their lights up year-round and simply turn them on when Advent arrives.) When we made a quick grocery run, we saw freshly cut Christmas trees, tied to cars in the parking lot.

Continue reading "Easing into Christmas" »


Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

 

So, it has been shaping up to be a typical holiday weekend. I've been racing around for about seventy-two hours straight, gearing up and getting organized.

Thanksgiving is THE big holiday in the extended Brown family. It is the one time during the year when my parents, siblings, their spouses and kids and other assorted special people gather in upstate New York for a weekend filled with celebration.

This year, there will be Thanksgiving dinner for fifty on Thursday; a Christmas gift exchange for the kids and "Yankee Swap" for the adults on Friday; a 75th birthday celebration Friday evening; and a family mass with baptism (and brunch) on Saturday.

No big deal.

Actually, it is a big deal. These will be truly wonderful events and I am thrilled to participate, but it all takes a whole lot of planning and preparation. I've been ignoring my usual wellness practices, in favor of checking one more thing off my To-Do list. I am tired and cranky and stiff.

And I ate too much chocolate today. It was a defensive measure.

Continue reading "Getting Ready for Thanksgiving" »


Honoring Our Veterans

Veterans Day may feel like just another day off from school for most kids and that's a shame.

I invite you to take some time today, to remind your children (and yourself) of the countless people whose personal sacrifice has made it possible to live where we do today, as we do today.

Perhaps, say a special prayer for the children who have lost a parent in service of our country... as well as for those whose parent(s) are serving overseas this very moment.

Take some time to make this a day of remembrance and gratitude, regardless of your political beliefs.

You might also want to remind your children that November 11th is celebrated as Armistice Day in much of the world. The armistice that ended World War I was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

Continue reading "Honoring Our Veterans " »


Why Do We Celebrate Halloween?

As October winds down, we are just days away from Halloween.

Yippee. I think.

Tell me again, what exactly are we celebrating?

I have long nursed conflicting feelings about Halloween. At least most major holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, 4th of July – have a purpose. When those days roll around, I know what I am celebrating.

Halloween has always been more of a challenge for me. Somewhere between the ancient Celts, early Romans and modern day Americans, things seem to have gotten rather mixed up. Are we honoring our ancestors or hiding from malevolent spirits? Are we giving thanks for a good harvest or preparing for a dark and dangerous winter?

Continue reading "Why Do We Celebrate Halloween?" »


Reflections on the 4th of July

  

Or, why you might want to feed your children a little American History this summer.

     

  

I regret to report, the following was a real conversation, as best I can remember it.

   

Mom: “What do we celebrate on the 4th of July?”

   

Son (doesn’t matter which one): “The end of slavery.”

   

Mom: “Uh, no.”

   

Other Son: “Abraham Lincoln’s birthday?”

  

“No.”

  

“The day Abraham Lincoln was assassinated?”

   

We watched National Treasure 2 - Book of Secrets on DVD last night, in which President Lincoln was prominently featured. Apparently they had Lincoln on the brain.

Continue reading "Reflections on the 4th of July" »


A Single Mother Looks at Fatherhood

    

A good friend and fellow single mother was telling me about her plans to attend her daughter’s “Father’s Day Breakfast” at school today.

   

A little awkward, perhaps, but what the heck.

   

As a single mother raising sons, Father’s Day has always been a bit of a delicate proposition for me. When the boys were younger and subject to Father’s Day art projects at school, I would gently guide them to address their cards and gifts to their grandfather, or a favorite uncle.

   

Now, they handle it on their own. My younger son just confessed that he “forgot” to do his homework assignment last night, which was to write a letter to his father – or significant male role model of his choice.

   

He doesn’t seem troubled or embarrassed about it. He simply decided it didn’t apply to him and opted out.

   

What he doesn’t know is that “fathers” – the shortage of them, the role they should play in a child’s life, the very need for them – has become a subject of significant controversy in some circles.

     

Do children need fathers?

   

Continue reading "A Single Mother Looks at Fatherhood" »


What Are Your Plans for the Summer?

   

“Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”  ~Henry James

    

We’ve been doing the summer countdown in our house for almost a month now. I know we are not alone – the summer solstice has been celebrated by cultures and religions all over the world for thousands of years.

   

We aren’t too focused on the exact date of the solstice, however. For us, it is far more important to watch for the last day of school. Every couple days, my younger son goes to the calendar and calculates the big number.

   

How long, counting weekends? How long, counting school days only?

   

He hasn’t thought much beyond the date. He is not one for detailed planning. All he wants to know is when will school be over?

  

When will the fun begin?

Continue reading "What Are Your Plans for the Summer?" »


Let's Get Dirty

  

“Gardening is the purest of human pleasures.” – Francis Bacon

  

I blackmailed the boys into helping me with some yard work yesterday.

  

The conversation was short, one-sided and went something like this: “If you expect to have any of your friends over to the house this summer, you need to come out and help me now. This is not a negotiation. It is a one-time offer and it will not be repeated.”

   

I am aware that blackmail is frowned upon in conscious parenting circles, but I am too pleased with the results to be appropriately concerned. The yard looks great.

     

And the boys didn’t suffer unduly, once they got into the swing of things.

           

I find there is something very restorative about getting down in the dirt to pull weeds, or rake up old dead leaves. All that rooting around makes me feel grounded.

      

I am one with the Earth.  

Continue reading "Let's Get Dirty" »


I Love You, Mom

 

According to family legend, my relationship with my mother did not start well.

 

Just after I was born, I developed a bad case of eczema. It was determined that I was allergic to my mother’s breast milk, along with most of the baby formulas on the market back then.

 

While my mother was undoubtedly battling feelings of helplessness and even despair, I was breaking out in a rash all over my little baby body.

   

And all my hair fell out.

 

My mother says that she remembers thinking, “This child and I are never going to get along.”

 

Fortunately, my hair grew back and my relationship with my mother has improved steadily ever since. Aside from those few years during puberty, when I would burst into tears every time she spoke to me.

 

Today, we enjoy a warm, loving relationship – at least, we do from my perspective.

 

My mother is my hero.

Continue reading "I Love You, Mom" »


Teach Your Children to Un-Plug for Earth Day

 

We are not the greenest family on the block. 

 

We aren’t terrible either, I hope. Our house is stocked with Energy Star appliances and our lighting costs are somewhat limited simply because I am always too busy to replace a lightbulb.

 

We purchase natural cleaning products and I found a service that uses turkey poop to fertilize our lawn.

There is so much more we can do.

 

Earth Day presents a great opportunity for conscious families to be more conscious. We can all work together to find ways to show love for the planet we live on.

 

It’s Time to Get Dirty!

 

A great way to start this kind of conversation with your family is to actually get outside and experience the planet we are trying to protect. Take your shoes off and walk barefoot. Do a little gardening. Swim in the ocean.

 

Cultivate a love of the great outdoors and you will teach your children that this is something worth protecting.

Continue reading "Teach Your Children to Un-Plug for Earth Day" »


Sending You Easter Blessings and Bunny Cakes

 

Greetings from my world: Easter eggs, bunny cakes and Jesus' Resurrection.

Hmm.

It has taken me a lot of years to figure out Easter... at least, Easter as it is celebrated by many families today. 

100_2655b

How can a holiday that features a giant rabbit sneaking into one's house to hide painted chicken eggs under the sofa possibly be related to Jesus rising from the dead? 

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I have finally learned that eggs and rabbits are ancient symbols of fertility and rebirth.

I like ancient symbols, and these at least make sense to me.  

For me, Easter is indeed about rebirth. It is about joyfully receiving the blessings of eternal grace, no matter what we have done or not done in our lives.

And it is about taking the time, as parents, to share some of our beliefs with our children. They will eventually reach an age where they get to develop and choose their own belief system, but for now, we can pray for guidance and share our best thoughts with them.100_2658

We can help them find their own unique place in the Universe. Through holidays and traditions, we can help them build firm foundations from which to launch their lives.

We can take them to church and host family holiday gatherings. We can bake bunny cakes.

Happy Easter!

 

Related Posts:

How Do You Know When It's Spring?

Roots and Wings: How to Make Your Children Feel at Home in the Universe

 

Liz' Bunny1

Anita's Bunny1

P.S. Here are some more bunny cakes, baked by my sisters. Enjoy!

          Carrie's Bunny1  


How Do You Know When It's Spring?

 

“It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  ~Mark Twain

 

I’m so happy I’m so happy I’m so happy!!! It is the first day of spring. Woohoo.

 

I know I am supposed to be concentrating on my writing and my house cleaning and paying some bills, but I am really just waiting for the kids to get home from school. They will be my excuse to go outside in the sunshine.

 

I have a serious case of Spring Fever and no intentions of letting myself be cured.

 

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”  ~Margaret Atwood

 

We still have mounds of snow lingering around the yard, and several mud patches in other areas. If you look closely though, you can also see the very beginnings of my day lilies, pushing their way up into the sun.

 

I want to walk barefoot in the yard. To feel the earth between my toes. I want to have a picnic. Is it warm enough?

 

Continue reading "How Do You Know When It's Spring?" »


The ABC's of Self-Love. Or, 5 Fun Ways to Be Your Own Valentine

 

“A... I’m adorable, B... I’m so beautiful, C... I’m a cutie full of charms.”

 

Perhaps, one of the greatest rites of passage into adulthood is learning to love ourselves fully.

 

As children, we absorb most of our sense of self-worth from our parents, peers, siblings, teachers and environment. When we “grow up,” we are expected to be confident, fully functioning adults who can help our children build their own healthy self-esteem.

  

The problem, of course, is that most of us did not grow up surrounded and supported by perfect people. Our parents, peers, siblings and teachers all had baggage of their own, leftover from their childhoods.

  

As Louise Hay puts it in her seminal work, You Can Heal Your Life, we are all “victims of victims.”

  

And so, as adults we must take responsibility for our own growth and healing. We must find a way to love ourselves fully, thereby building the skills necessary to love others fully.

Continue reading "The ABC's of Self-Love. Or, 5 Fun Ways to Be Your Own Valentine" »


Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go

The things I gave up this Christmas and why it all feels so good.

    

It is now the Sunday after Christmas, and I am again sitting quietly in my family room, looking out across the hills behind our house. 

    

The sun is low, just barely peeking out along the horizon, beneath the cloud cover. My children are playing some game in the basement playroom that involves a lot of yelling, but not too much yelling...

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Our Christmas company went home today. My good friend, her beautiful daughter and their visiting exchange student from China had all been resident since last Tuesday. 

      

It has been lovely, with the house full of laughter, the conversation of friends and the exuberance of children.

    

Now, it is quiet. (Except for that yelling in the basement, but that feels like normal.)

    

Was Christmas good? Yes, it was very, very good.

Continue reading "Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go" »


A Mom's Christmas Wish List

Here is a letter I received from Jennifer Horn, mother to four teenaged sons and faithful fan of Santa Claus.  Enjoy!  - Meg

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"I remember asking Santa for a "real" ballerina's tutu when I was about 5. My kindergarten mind wasn't at all surprised to find it under the tree.

 

Then there was the year I told Santa that I really wanted a Chrissie doll. She also magically appeared under my Christmas tree. I've had pretty good luck with this system, so I thought I would try to get what I want most this year by sending my list to Santa.

 

This year I wish for a white Christmas.  Not just a few inches for good sledding conditions. I wish for enough snow to shut down the schools and close the businesses for a couple of days. I wish for so much snow that families are forced to huddle together in front of their fireplaces, sharing blankets while sipping hot chocolate.

Continue reading "A Mom's Christmas Wish List" »


Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

It is the Sunday before Christmas and we are pretty much snowed in, up here in the Northeast. 

 

I awoke this morning thinking about everything that wasn’t getting done: The boys’ indoor soccer playoffs have been postponed ‘til December 26th. A get-together with friends (adult conversation – woohoo) has been postponed ‘til spring.

   

A last minute trip to the mall (which seemed vaguely necessary three days ago) isn’t going to happen.  And my outdoor Christmas lights are still piled in the front hall. It doesn’t really make sense to put them out right now... they’ll be buried in snow by dinner time.

 

As I look out the window to our backyard, through the almost-whiteout conditions, I notice the upside down hammock, which was blown over in our last storm. Guess I missed my chance to dry it off and bring it inside for the winter. Oh well.

 

To top it all off, I have a cold. The kind where you sneeze a lot and your nose runs continuously. For going on forty-eight hours now.

  

Maybe the universe – or my body – is trying to tell me something. Like, “Hey, you, doing too many things at the same time? Take a break!” 

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Bedtime Stories for the Holidays

Reading to our children at bedtime is a great way to connect as a family.  Even better, it is one of the best ways to help your children grow into lifelong readers themselves.

Do you think your children are too old for bedtime stories?  You might be surprised.  Cuddle up in front of the fireplace with some hot cocoa and take turns reading to each other. 

 

For conscious parents always on the lookout for ways to make our children feel safe, secure and loved, this is a no-brainer. 

  

As the holidays approach, select holiday-themed picture books to get the whole family into the spirit of the season.  We are Christmas people at my house, but there are wonderful books available for most holidays.  Here are some of my Christmas favorites:

 

Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury  This gorgeous collection, including seven of Jan Brett’s beloved holiday stories, will provide a full week of delightful bedtime memories.  Scandinavian winter scenes will make you happy to be snuggled up at home with your loved ones, while Brett’s detailed illustrations of reindeer and trolls will encourage you to pause on each page.  Children of every age love Jan Brett!

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A Season of Thanks and Giving

Conscious Parenting with Meg Brown for BodyEcology.com

(Originally published on Thursday, November 27, 2008)

 

So, how was your day??

    

It feels like tough times, for many of us. You can’t turn on the TV or open a newspaper without absorbing bad news about the economy. For some people, the news is more than bad, and it doesn’t look like it will improve anytime soon.

 

When the world gets scarier than usual, we get tense, worried, argumentative and depressed. And we find ourselves saying things to our children such as, “We can’t afford that. I’m not made out of money!”

  

If we are not careful, we will pass on to our children the negative beliefs that we acquired growing up... beliefs about lack, limitation, poverty and struggle. You know what I’m talking about. 

 

As conscious parents, let’s not give in to negativity and despair. Regardless of circumstances, we all have something in our lives worth celebrating.
   

The Thanksgiving holiday is a perfect time to teach our children about abundance, gratitude and generosity.

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