Vitality 5: Slow Sunday

Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share something with you all that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

It has been awhile since I have been on here. I was busy getting ready for yesterday’s workshop regarding first grade homeschool planning!  Yesterday I  had the great fortune to be part of a great group of women during the workshop.  One thing that came up was the plethora of  blogs and  Instagram accounts that show perfect homeschooling families doing perfect things.  We all know intellectually a photograph or even a video represents only one moment in time and that people put the best of their family life on the Internet.  We like to think other families have it all together, and somehow we don’t.

I talked about how I have resisted putting many photographs on this blog.  I know this is hard on the visual learners, but I NEVER want anyone to feel pressured or like they should be re-creating something that represents only one moment in time.  I think there is a lot of pressure for being handling every facet of personal, professional, and family life perfectly  for American women in particular, and I don’t want to see that here in this space.  In fact,  I feel like that would be almost untruthful to my more messy and imperfect life since I am just a normal wife and mother like so many of you!   No perfect over here!  I really don’t think perfect families exist.  Great families are NOT perfect families, and every family has the potential to be great!   I want mothers to walk away feeling as if they are enough, their family is enough, and that family and parenting is an amazing adventure.

What makes a family great is so much more than just a photo of a toy in the sunshine or a the back of a child as they run outside.    I am sure different people define it different ways, but I think a “great” or “strong” family might do at least  a few of the following things:

  • Own their mistakes and learn from them
  • Be loyal to each other; help each other
  • Love each other and take the other family member’s needs into account
  • Respect each other and each other’s quirks
  • Communicate their needs directly
  • Spend time together; enjoy being together and having fun; laughter!

I have heard it said that imperfect human beings are just “messy”.  I love being a messy human being, because my quirks make me who I am!  And, I feel like empowering other messy human adult beings to parent authentically and have children who  grow up and  not  be perfect might just be my secret superpower. Wink.

Hope you are having a terrific slow Sunday with your family!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

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Vitality 4: Slow Sunday

Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share something with you all that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

During these tumultuous political times, I have felt lately that my energy is dissipating in directions far and wide from my home and my family.   In order to balance this,  I have needed a serious dose of self-care.

I think everyone’s self-care list may look a little different since different things nurture different people.  However, I made myself a list and am happy to share it with you in hope that you will create your own list of things that are nurturing to you!

My weekly list includes:

  • Exercise (which is a daily task, but I strive toward a weekly goal)
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Walking/Hiking
  • Going out for tea with friends without children
  • Spending time with my husband alone
  • Doing things I enjoy including drawing and painting, looking at art

My daily lists include:

  • Sitting with a good cup of tea
  • Writing
  • Praying, reading Scripture
  • Being in nature
  • Spending fun time with my family members – playing games, reading together, laughing
  • Reading  fiction (not just things around development or Waldorf Education!)
  • Getting support when I need it from my spouse and from friends
  • If I have screen time for myself – to watch things that are funny and light-hearted
  • Getting enough sleep and rest

The other things that  I have done that have helped enormously is to pare down my personal Facebook page to limit political conversations; to pick the three things that I feel are most urgently politically for our family’s values and focus on those issues, and to limit computer time in general.

It is hard to be a sensitive person in these times, and self-care makes all the difference in the world.  I would love to hear what your favorite self-care tricks are.

Blessings and love, and may you have a wonderful week ahead,
Carrie

 

 

 

 

Vitality 3: Slow Sunday

Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share something with you all that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

My little seven year old woke up one Saturday with an urge to start seeds in a paper egg carton.  Still in his pajamas, I helped him plant cosmos, evening primrose, several kinds of four o-clock’s and evening stock.  He said he was happy to see things grow because he loves nature so much. When his seeds started sprouting, he declared that his new little plants were cute.  What is better than seeing new life sprout and grow?

I thought about how that is so much like how we are as human beings.  We can only be who we are:  imperfect.  We make mistakes and can only move forward.  We can do the best we can with the knowledge and experiences we have at this moment, and we may change our minds later with different knowledge and more experience.  We cannot please everyone, and nor should we.  I will never feel exactly the same way on every issue, every facet of parenting and every facet of  life that someone else will.  This is what makes us unique and our perspective valuable and is yet so often treated as an unfortunate or misguided thing.  And instead of seeing this as the possibility for growth, it becomes an area of polarization.

We live in a society that is becoming increasingly prone to difficulties in finding any common ground.  We live in a society where on Facebook or other social media we can pick apart any opinion,  event,  or happening and pare it down to the worst part about it, whether this worst part was true or imagined.  We live in a society where it is increasingly becoming safe to only be with others who think, parent, or live as we do.

Yet, studies show diversity makes us smarter.  This week, I hope to plants seeds of kindness and love by listening to others who are different than I am; people who have had different experiences and who hold different knowledge. I hope to get to know someone whom I don’t know very well, or to further learn about something I don’t know about.

May this week bring you seeds of love and kindness and may you plant some of your own.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Vitality 2: Slow Sunday

“…children, since they are an inalienable part of nature, not only have the right to a healthy environment, but also to connection with nature and to the gifts of nature for their physical and psychological health and ability to learn and create.” – The World Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 2012

Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share something with you all that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

This has been a beautiful January.  The weather today isn’t supposed to get above 26 degrees, which is cold for the Deep South, but it is sunny outside.  The little bit of icy snow we got crunches under my feet as I walk and see the ice that has formed on the branches of the bare trees.  It is quiet, and not many are even on the roads.  I love this peaceful time.

Which brings me to my vitality wish for this week:  to gather in the sunshine and glorious natural beauty of the landscape and get outside.  I do this frequently, but I always try to keep it at the top of my priority list.  Whether it is just a little walk in my neighborhood or to our nearby park or a hike up a mountain, or kayaking in the lake , or star-watching, I try to enjoy each and every season.

I love my children to be outside as well, and find this especially important for older teens.  Getting outside helps “re-set” their minds and bodies for the things that are trying to accomplish; it shows teens the value of fun that is not tied into electronic devices or screens; it provides spectacular moments of awe and wonder.  It revitalizes the soul.

The benefits of nature are immense. There is a wonderful book called “Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life,” by Richard Louv.  Louv, of course, was a pioneer in recognizing the benefits of nature for children as detailed in his book, “Last Child In The Woods:  Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.”  In the introduction to the book “Vitamin N, ” Louv details some of the best benefits of immersion in nature:  reduction of the symptoms of AD/HD; helps buffer anxiety and depression; helps prevent or reduce obesity and mypoia; boosts the immune system; may improve social bonding and reduce social violence; stimulates learning and creativity; even helps to raise standardized test scores.    You can see the myriad of benefits at the Children and Nature Network’s research links.

This year, I invite you to hold steady in getting yourself and your children outside, preferably daily, and also weekly for excursions in your local, state, and national parks.   Enjoy, and savor the wonder of our beautiful world.

Blessings,
Carrie

Vitality: Slow Sunday

Orchard Trees, January by Richard Wilbur

It’s not the case, though some might wish it so
Who from a window watch the blizzard blow

White riot through their branches vague and stark,
That they keep snug beneath their pelted bark.

They take affliction in until it jells
To crystal ice between their frozen cells,

And each of them is inwardly a vault
Of jewels rigorous and free of fault,

Unglimpsed until in May it gently bears
A sudden crop of green-pronged solitaires.

 

I love this poem for January as it talks about taking affliction and making it the seed of something beautiful to grow.  Since my word of the year is “vitality,” every Sunday I hope to share with you all something that makes me feel vital, sparkly, happy, and alive from different aspects of my life.  It isn’t about having a perfect life. It is about growing in wholeness and authenticity and living in joy, no matter what crosses our paths.

Today is January first, the beautiful beginnings of a  New Year of possibilities.  I just love that feeling, and this is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the open spaces and bright thoughts.  Some people, however, don’t.  The possibilities are too endless and almost paralyzing at times.  I think this happens a lot, perhaps more than we care to admit in this age of “perfect moments” captured and documented on blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. It is easy to feel that everyone has it together except you and your family.

This is a complete and total lie.

No one has it all together!  And sorting through the “best” choices for how to do things in our own families can be difficult or feel like a bunch of “we should…” (which isn’t always matched to our own values!)

However, over the years, I have observed that the most together people and families I know have a few things going for them.  The main one is that they have a positive attitude.  Having a positive attitude brings me joy!  Sharing gratitude for life with my family brings me joy. I want my children to know that a positive attitude doesn’t mean ignoring the negative, but it does mean looking at things in a constructive way.

So, today’s Slow Sunday is fostering a positive attitude and gratitude.  Many families take today to make a Gratitude Jar for the year, which is lovely.  It doesn’t have to be a super fancy jar, and it doesn’t have to be super fancy paper – although that might be joyous for you to have a decorated jar for your counter.  Every day, maybe at dinner time or before bed, ask the members of your family to write their happiest moment of the day down and place it in the jar.  At the end of the year, you will have a jar of beautiful happy memories!  If you did a Gratitude Jar this year and you would like to share a picture of what yours looked like, please post a picture in the comments.

Some other ways to a positive attitude and gratitude that I am thinking about specifically this week:

Start the day with a lovely breakfast, including a blessing. It is so much better to start the day in a positive manner full of thankfulness rather than – “I am late!” “I hate mornings!”    I will be sharing mealtime blessings next week, but in the meantime finding a beautiful candle for your table or a little seasonal tray that you can add natural treasures to can be an easy way to start the day on a positive note.  I have a small  Pinterest board devoted to beautiful mornings.  This week I plan on adding things to this board, so it should grow this week!

Keeping a journal each day of gratitude, of the blessed ordinary moments, can be a positive attitude booster.

Having a spiritual practice is uplifting and leads to positive thoughts.  I use prayer (I am Episcopalian, so The Book of Common Prayer is what we use daily and in liturgy.  If you want to see how to use this book, I suggest the book Inwardly Digest: The Prayer Book As A Guide To Spiritual Life ).  I also use meditation, and affirmations.  I find affirmations especially helpful in stopping negative self-talk.   I think all of these things have a place in creating a positive attitude.

Exercise and physical activity out in nature. Most of you who read this blog know all the reasons why “Vitamin N” is so vital to being positive.  Our bodies were meant to move and be outside.  This is so important, for all children, but especially for those children ages 12 and up, which is typically when being more sedentary sets in (especially for many girls).  I am convinced that many teens would feel better if they moved more!

Please share with me ways you love to increase your positive attitude and gratitude.

Blessings and love,
Carrie