Everyday Life

How I Know That I am (Still) Not Enlightened

Or, how conscious parenting – and all my other noble intentions – got sidetracked by my leaky plumbing.

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” – Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

I tend to think of myself as a water person. My favorite vacations are invariably near (or on) the ocean. It is perhaps the one place on this planet where I know that I will relax.

When I am home, in my typically landlocked condition, I find that I crave water. 

Regardless of the season, I want to be at the beach, now. When this option is not available to me, my swimming pool keeps me sane. When it is too cold for the pool, there is the hot tub on the back porch. When all else fails, my bathtub must suffice.

(I just realized – I’ve spent a great deal of my disposable income, over the years, keeping myself wet. What’s up with that?)

And then, there’s always that tiny fountain in my meditation corner. My children gave it to me for Christmas last year, because I told them I needed it.

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Accepting the Present; Changing the World

Conscious Parenting tips for today, prayers for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and meditations on the nature of acceptance.

It can be really scary sometimes – seeing the immense need in the world and feeling powerless to make a difference. What should I be doing? How best to respond? Can one person, thousands of miles from the epicenter of disaster, possibly be a power for hope and healing?

Does anything we do really matter?

I take a deep breath and settle down for a moment’s meditation. Seemingly of its own accord, my favorite affirmation rolls through my mind like a gentle voice of confirmation.

“I am exactly where I am supposed to be, right now; doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.”

I am doing nothing in particular, right now. Surrendering to the overwhelming urge to close my eyes, for just a few moments. Breathing.

Accepting all that is. The fears and the frustrations. The good news and the bad.

Thank You.

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Cold & Flu Season: When Going With the Flow Is Your Only Option

  

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”    – John Lennon

  

   

What a glorious weekend in New England. The sun was shining. The leaves are turning from green to yellow to red. Acorns are dropping like raindrops (seriously... you have to be careful.) It was cool and blustery, but not uncomfortable.

   

Weather made to order for the extended Columbus Day weekend.

   

There were leaf-peepers everywhere, mixed in with college homecoming weekend crowds. And for those of us with school-aged children, there were soccer tournaments.

   

Yippee.

   

Last year was a bit easier... the boys were playing on the same team, so there was only one tournament to attend. This year, they are on separate teams, whose coaches inconveniently decided to participate in separate tournaments. My older son was slated to spend the weekend playing soccer about thirty minutes due south of here, while my younger son’s team was heading sixty minutes northeast.

  

Just one of the challenges of single parenting: How to be in two places at one time?

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Parenting and Gratitude: There is always a reason to give thanks!

    

Sometimes parenting is all about slowing down and getting in touch with your blessings. Chances are good that you’ll remember lots of reasons for expressing a little gratitude.

   

Quick, what are you most thankful for today? Here’s my list.

   

1. My two children are healthy, growing up just a little each day and pretty much crazy as ever.

   

2. I just spent a wonderful “ladies weekend” with my mother and five of my eight sisters / sisters-in-law. Great company, great food and a really lovely hot stone massage. Mommy's happy. Woohoo.

   

3. My older son scored a goal at his soccer game on Saturday and he feels great about it.

 

4. My younger son is loving learning to speak French in school this year. C’est magnifique.

     

5. Our former nanny was able to make room in his schedule to spend Friday and Saturday with the boys, while I was away.

 

6. When the boys spent Sunday with their cousins and one of their cousins tried to bake cinnamon rolls on a paper plate in the microwave and the paper plate caught fire and the microwave started smoking and the police and fire departments showed up at the house, no one was injured. The house is fine, too. Not so sure about the microwave.

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Finding Sanctuary in the Family Home

   

Your home should be your sanctuary. It should be a place of rest and renewal; a source of safety and comfort; the seat of your creativity.

      

Does this sound like the place where you live?

    

For parents especially, the home front can more often feel like a construction site, or a three-ring circus. Perhaps even a battle zone.

     

Finding spiritual enlightenment – or even a good night’s sleep – in the midst of blaring televisions and fighting children can be a challenge. Add in a couple broken appliances, a stack of unpaid bills and last year’s goal of painting the house and enlightenment gives way to exhaustion.

    

If this sounds like life at your address, don’t give up hope. Here are three great strategies to help you find some peace, prosperity and renewal in your very own home.

     

No house paint required, I promise.

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20 Rainy Day Activities for Conscious Families

    

Been raining much in your neighborhood?

   

Kids going crazy from lack of exercise? Parents going crazy from the relentless grayness of it all??

   

Help.

   

I just sent the boys outside in what has been a constant drizzle since daybreak. I don’t care how wet, muddy or shrunken they become. They just need to be out of the house. Now.

   

Mommy needs a break.

   

We’ve had rain and thunderstorms off and on for about fourteen days now. The weather gnomes are predicting more for the next ten, at least. This is the beginning of July, for heaven’s sake. Where is my beach weather??

    

If you are like us, suffering from an over-abundance of rainy weather and a suffocating lack of sunshine, here are some rainy day activities to keep you and your family safe, sane and busy, despite it all.

   

   

20 Rainy Day Activities for Conscious Families

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I Choose to Be Happy Now

    

Greetings, friends. Today’s post will be short but sweet.

   

I had about five hundred words ready to go, but they were all whining.

   

My life is so hard. Blah, blah blah.

   

Then I remembered, that I just wrote a post last week called, Happiness Now.

   

Duh.

   

I scrapped the whining and hit the road.

   

We spent the evening with my sister and her family. It was my godson’s sixth grade graduation tonight.

   

I let myself laugh at my sons’ highly inappropriate “Yo momma...” jokes.

    

I put on some beautiful music.

   

And I’m feeling much better.

   

I am also grateful, for all my wonderful readers, who I hope will wait patiently to read my real article tomorrow... Friday, at the latest.

   

I send you all blessings and cupcakes.

   

You see, I told you it would be short but sweet!


About Boys, and the Mothers Who Love Them

As a single mother raising two boys, there is still much about parenting that is a mystery to me. 

 

My father calls my children, “The Destroyers.”

Observed from a certain perspective, he would be correct.

   

But maybe not. Raising sons – or at least, raising my sons – has given me a new perspective on a number of things.

   

Pencil erasers can be used to erase unwanted pencil markings, or they can be used as chew toys.

      

Once the eraser has been suitably destroyed, the remaining pencil can be used to write with, or it can be combined with a pencil sharpener and used as a meditation tool. Simply insert pencil and start grinding. Continue until there is nothing left of the pencil.

  

How calming.

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8 Great Ways to Keep Your Family Organized

 

I have confessed in the past, to loving organization in all its forms. At work, at home, on vacation... it just makes me feel good. So, without further ado, here are 8 great organizational tips for the whole family.

1. Set an intention.

How do you want your family life to be? What would your best day look like? How much organization do you need to function effectively as a unit? To be happy?

    

Take some time to write down your vision of a blissfully organized life. Craft an affirmation that makes sense for you. Repeat often.

    

2. Get a Guru

    

Some of us are born knowing how to be organized. Some of us are born craving organization, but need to work really hard at staying on track. This would be me.

    

If you are someone who wants more organization than comes naturally, find yourself an organization guru.

    

My sister Patricia serves this function for me. She is known throughout our large, extended family as the person whose house contains no clutter whatsoever. She is the person I call when I am moving houses and need to unpack in two days flat.

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A Letter of Apology to My Parents, Whom I Love and Adore

 

On the subject of my lamentable journey through puberty, and how it must have driven you to distraction.

   

    

Dear Mom and Dad,

   

I am writing to formally apologize, for all the moments (weeks? years?) of pain and misery that I might have inadvertently caused you, throughout my formative years.

   

I apologize, for my “taste” in clothing. I realize now that my shorts were too short, my pants sat too low on my hips and I probably didn’t need to bare my midriff quite so diligently.

   

And yes, Dad, I was trying to be cool, when I refused to zipper my jacket in the dead of winter. Rest assured, I have outgrown all these practices.

   

I apologize, for my attempts to convince myself – and our entire town – that I was an only child. I am no longer embarrassed by my younger brothers and sisters.

   

And I’m not sure if you have noticed, but I have given up the habit of slinking along, twenty paces behind, when we are out as a family. I am willing, nay, happy to be associated with all of you.

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5 Books That Changed My Life

 

I fell in love with books as a young girl, when my sisters and I read every Nancy Drew book we could get our hands on. Creative fiction opened up entire worlds to me, both real and imaginary.

 

As I got older, Jane Austen’s novels introduced me to English country life and I fell in love all over again. C.S. Lewis’ adventures in Narnia and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series kept me coming back for more.

 

Today, I tend to spend most of my reading time with non-fiction. My pursuit of conscious parenting leads me to the self-help, spirituality and parenting shelves at the bookstore.

 

With the occasional drive-by trashy novel, just for fun.

   

I have learned, for the most part, that if a book is not capturing my imagination, or firing my spirit, it is okay to set it aside. Not all books are meant to be finished.

 

Others books, I return to again and again.

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How to Bring Order to Your Chaos

 

It is probably not an exaggeration to say that if a man came into my house and vacuumed all my carpets, he could have his way with me.

 

I love an orderly household. I crave clear, uncluttered surfaces and color-coded closet shelves.

 

Truth be told, my conscious parenting efforts – and my absolute commitment to the health and happiness of my children – occasionally get derailed by my pathological need to reduce clutter and clean my house.

 

I follow my children through the house, instructing them to pick something up or wipe something down every step of the way. I rearrange the throw pillows on the couch fifteen times a day.

    

And every couple years, I take down the thousands of books crammed into cases all over the house and put them back in nice, logical categories.

 

The self-help books are all clustered happily together, arranged in height order. The trashy novels are grouped by author. The children’s books live side-by-side-by-subject, or season.

 

Makes me feel good.

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Are You Too Attached to Your Stuff?

 

I know the kids are in here somewhere... I just lost them temporarily, in the middle of all my clutter.

 

We moved into our current house to be closer to my job. At the time, it was a major upgrade for us. We gained quite a bit of square footage, replete with built-in book shelves, numerous storage closets and a finished basement.

 

Woohoo.

 

Five years later and without too much dedicated effort, we had successfully filled up every closet, shelf, nook and cranny.

 

With what, you might ask?

 

Let’s see. My grandmother’s china, three additional sets of “everyday” dishes, four times as many pots and pans as there are burners on my stove and enough glassware to serve lemonade to the entire neighborhood.

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Why I Haven't Posted This Week

 

I received an email from a dear friend this morning, asking why I haven’t posted recently. What can I say, I’ve been busy.

 

Lots of stuff going on.

 

It hasn’t all been bad stuff... some of it was really good. Still, I have once again fallen prey to the over-scheduled, over-stressed lifestyle that I have been trying to get out of.

 

Not a good week for conscious parenting.

 

Here is my “Why I Haven’t Posted This Week” explanation:

 

1. My older son had a really bad day last Friday. Let’s just say that disciplinary measures, report cards and hormones were all involved. This was one of those days when I really felt the whole single parent thing. By Saturday morning, the entire family was exhausted.

 

2. We hosted Easter dinner at our house on Sunday, after preparing most of the day Saturday. This was the good stuff. We had a lovely afternoon with my sister and her family. The food was delicious and relatively healthy. The sun was shining. 

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Me and My Mandalas

April showers may very well bring May flowers, but what to do with the kids in the meantime? Here is a conscious parenting tip for rainy days and other occasions.

   

Having a little rain, are we? Yes, I know it is still March, but “April showers” are here. Today. What to do with the kids when the rain comes?

 

First, send them out to play in the rain. I do it all the time, and my kids haven’t shrunk yet. Truth be told, sometimes I even go out for a nice long walk in the rain. What are those fancy umbrellas for, anyway?

 

After they are good and wet – maybe just a tiny bit chilled – bring the kids in, dry them off and feed them something warm. Hot cocoa and chicken noodle soup are favorites in my house. Mandala

 

Next, how about some quiet coloring? That’s right, I said coloring.

   

Haven’t done it in years? Maybe it’s time.  

 

Kids too old for coloring? You might be surprised.

 

Coloring is the perfect rainy day activity and while I heartily endorse coloring of any kind, today I am focused on mandalas.

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The Sky's the Limit

Is there anything you wouldn’t do to build a stronger connection with your child?

 

In her profoundly simple, Connection Parenting: Parenting through Connection instead of Coercion, through Love instead of Fear, Pam Leo suggests that a big part of conscious parenting is learning how to connect with our children.

 

“In today’s culture, we talk about spending quality time with children. We know that children need attention, but attention is not the same as connection. We can pay attention to children and still not connect with them emotionally. Children need high quality time to meet their minimum daily requirement for connection.” – Pam Leo

 

This is something that really struck a nerve with me.  As a former corporate crazy person and closet perfectionist, I find it all too easy to get totally caught up in my never-ending To-Do List.

  

When I slip into my manic must-do mode, I lose my connection to my children. They start to look like just two more objects in my bag of responsibilities that must be moved through time and space on schedule.

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"It's Paintastic!"

Or, Lessons on Perfection While Painting with My Sons

 

We are not crafty people. In fact – and I hesitate to admit this – I do not even own a glue gun.  They frighten me.

 

And we are not overly attached to realism. My sons, in fourth and sixth grade, still tend to draw stick figures, when forced to draw at all.

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What we do enjoy is painting – not pictures, but objects.

 

We like lots of color and get downright excited about selecting the perfect brush from our ever-growing collection.

 

This year, we are painting wooden picture frames.

   

Once filled with snapshots of the boys, they will become Christmas gifts for grandparents, godparents and other favorite people.

      

We cover the kitchen counter with brown paper and break out the paint supplies.  As usual, I start out in control mode.

 

“Let me pour the paint.  We don’t want to get it on the floor.”

 

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