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Whatever we do over and over again, we get better at-- every time you get angry, you get better at being angry, every time you worry, you get better at worrying. Practice makes perfect. 
 
 
What mom doesn't suffer from guilt?! Guilt is our ego bullying us. Guilt is our ego punishing us for something we can no longer change. But....we can change in the present moment the minute we let go of the guilt.In this two minute tip video, learn 2 simple strategies for letting go of the guilt ASAP!
 
 
Have you ever NOTICED how many times a day you get angry, irritated, annoyed, or worried? Start noticing….

Whenever we feel negative emotions, it's a direct result of stressful thoughts we are thinking. Stressful thoughts are always about something from the past we can't change (guilt), something in the future we can't control (anxiety, fear) or wishing that something wasn't happening the way it is (should's or should not's). 

Check out this "2 Minute Tip" to learn a quick and easy strategy for calming that excessively busy mind of yours. 

It's called "B & B: Become Aware and Breathe."
 
 
Ever have those days in your mothering where one irritating or "bad" thing happens after another? Sometimes it's easy to get caught in a negative mode and not snap out it for days, weeks, or even longer. Happiness can feel so distant at these times. The good news is-- YOU HAVE CONTROL to change this way of "seeing." It's all about focusing on the good!

This 2 Minute Tip shares with you a very simple, yet powerful, strategy for "practicing" positivity," especially in your mothering. All you'll need is 5 minutes and a journal! It's called: G & G, GRATITUDE and GROWTH. Focus on the good, mama, and that's just what you will see!
 
 
Simplifying our lives means making more time for the things that matter the most. In order to do this, we simply must say "no".... a lot! If you are questioning how one says this difficult two letter word with grace and without all the guilt, allow me to explain two simple mindfulness strategies that will empower your to say "no" (and feel good about it) so that you can say "yes" to all those things that are most important to you! Such an important key to keeping it simple.
 
 
As moms, we gotta multitask, right? Yes. There is no denying that reality calls us to do this every now and again. But as mindful mamas on a quest to simplify our lives, we have to become aware of our unconscious addiction to multitasking. Doing many things at once might seem like we are getting more done, but there is always a tradeoff--usually the depth and connectedness of the moment is what's lacking. Simplifying our lives is all about creating the space to connect deeply with ourselves, our experiences and our loved ones. If we really want to make things less complicated and more simple, we simply must practice (a lot) doing just one thing at a time. It's simple, but not easy. Allow me to explain just how to practice this "simple" task....
 
 
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When was the last time you thought about what YOU wanted for your life (as in your passions), your kids, your relationships, your career, your health, or your family? Are the crikets churping? If that's the case, perhaps you've forgotten how good it feels to have a focus, a goal, a vision. The thing is your VISIONS and your DREAMS are so very important both as a creative, multitalented, awesome woman, and a mother/ spritual teacher for your child. YOUR VISIONS, YOUR DREAMS are essential to your happiness! If you've been feeling bored, unmotivated, or aimless, it's very possible with all the work you've been doing lately and how consumed by life and mothering you've gotten that you've forgotten how powerful having a clear vision for different areas of your life can be. When we clarify with crystal clear precision the many dreams and visions we have in our lifetime, we feel inspired, we feel purposeful, and we feel alive. 

When life gets hectic and crazy, we forget we are in the driver's seat. We forget we have the control to manifest the things and situations we desire in our lives as opposed to feeling that life is just happening to us. The very first step in regaining control is creating a crystal clear vision/ goal. If you are thinking, "This all sounds good, but what if I have no clue what I really want," that's okay. You're a mom, so that means setting aside time to daydream, think, visualize, and journal about what you want isn't probably a part of your daily routine (yet!). You're mantra might be, "I don't have time." Well, Dr. Baker in What Happy People Know talks about this. He reminds us that the fact is clear that there are 24 hours in every day for every person. The problem is not lack of time but lack of clear vision. "To get happiness, or anywhere else, you've got to decide what you really want, and then put your energy where it will do the most good. If you do that, you'll find plenty of time."

So let's get to it! If you want to make happiness a habit in your life, you simply must be intentional and deliberate with your thoughts and actions. If you want things to change for the better, you simply must commit to a practice of doing things that will bring about change. Thus, we've listed a couple very simple and easy ideas to inspire you to make the time for your dreams and visions. 

  1. Create a "WANTS" list: Lists help us organize and clarify our thoughts. So why not create lists about what do you want for your family, your kids, your health, your relationships (including the one with yourself), your career, your home life, etc. Include your spouse and your kids! Talk about what you want as a family. What are your collective goals and aspirations? Why not create a family vision board? This can be a powerful experience for your kids, not to mention a great way to teach them about the power of creating goals and visions. Talk to your kids about what they want. Help them to clarify their passions, desires, and dreams for themselves.
  2. Make a date with yourself: If you are feeling disconnected from your creative, passionate self, it's time to get connected...with yourself! Perhaps with your favorite coffee drink in hand, head to your local library or Barnes & Noble (sans kiddos) and grab a stack of magazines on topics you are passionate about. Flip through them and let your imagination and dreams soar. For example, say you are a foodie-- as in the Food Network is on 24/7 in your home, your "wish list" for Williams-Sonoma is a  mile long, and you feel your most authentic self while preparing gourmet meals for your family. Seize your favorite Bon Appetit and Chef Magazine and consider how you could make your passion your profession! Start a blog that offers moms practical recipes with a gourmet flare, become a food critic, attend culinary school at night… dream of becoming the next Rachel Ray-- gourmet style! Just allow your thoughts run wild.
  3. SEE it (often) to achieve it: While you are doing the mundane duties of running a household (washing dishes, folding laundry, vacuuming, scrubbing the toilets, etc…), or on your commute to and from work, engage your imagination- Perceive these times as the opportunities that they are-- opportunities to dream and visualize. The more you dream and picture in your mind’s eye your desires, the more power you give them. What we focus on is where our energy goes. A key to manifesting your dreams is to “feed” them with energy. 
  4. Practice MANIFESTING: Start small. Seriously. Sometimes I make it a point to manifest something for the day. For instance, the other day, I told myself I wanted to manifest some sushi! Well, you’ll never guess what I had for dinner that night.  My point is this…practice manifesting your desires…any desire. It can be as small as manifesting a great cup of coffee. Doesn’t matter how big or small the thing is you want to attract into your life. The process and resulting feeling is the same; 1) Have a desire, 2) Set about intentional action to get it, and 3) FEEL how good it feels to get what you want. YOU GOTTA WANT IT first!!! 
  5. Create a Vision Board: It’s as easy as it sounds. Get a piece of poster board or even one of those cute fabric tackboards. As you skim through your favorite magazines, rip out the images of the things you desire and post them on your board. Put a pic of your dream kitchen up there. Put inspiring quotes, mindful mama mantras, and positive affirmations on there, too! Put up a favorite pic of your family beaming. 
  6. Journal It: Writing is an incredible way to clarify your thinking, and clear thinking is essential to developing a clear vision. If you are feeling stuck about your dreams/ visions for yourself, take 5 minutes and pick one question below and purge your thoughts on paper:
  • What brings vitality to your life?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What's your proudest achievement?
  • What does your life stand for?
  • What would you sacrifice your life for?
  • In what situation do you feel most alive?
  • Where/ when do you feel most inspired?
  • If you could change ONE thing about your current life situation, what would it be? 
  • If you had an entire day to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? 
  • Identify one thing you’d like to manifest in the next 3 months.

*Thank you, What Happy People Know by Dan Baker for the first 5 prompts :)

It doesn't matter what you do to cultivate your dreams. The hardest part is creating a routine. That's usually the biggest obstacle. But if you are able to reach inside yourself and find the smallest spark of motivation to make the time on a regular basis, this practice of focusing on the good will transform your life!

 
 
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Mindfulness (and mothering) isn’t about self transformation, as much as it’s about self-acceptance. Noticing the subtle difference between “transformation” and “acceptance” can greatly deepen your personal growth as a woman and a mother. The primary difference between these two paths is the point of intention. When we seek to “transform,” often times we are seeking to move away from a bad habit or some weakness we want to overcome or refine. “I need to be more present with my kids, I need to not be so angry, I need to be more disciplined to exercise and eat right….” These intentions are focused on what’s wrong or what’s lacking. But when we focus on our weaknesses, we unconsciously reinforce negativity and the fear of not being good enough. When we are driven by fear, we focus on DOING more, than just BEING more of the person we already are (who is already pretty terrific). Often times, when we continually focus on what we’re not doing well in order to spur change or growth, we run out of energy before we can make any profound shifts in our lives.

Acceptance, on the other hand, is more productive point of intention because it’s the act of “focusing on the good” and noticing what we already do so well. “Focusing on strengths works simply because it feels better than focusing on weakness. It creates energy, which is always necessary for transformation” (What Happy People Know, by Dan Baker).  It’s a funny thing, when we focus your energy on self acceptance-- intentionally acknowledging what we do well NOW-- transformation occurs naturally. Why? Well, consider how you encourage better behavior in your kids; you probably use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior. When you focus on the positive, positive actions result.

Mindful Mama Strategy: FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS
If we want to make happiness a habit, it take consistent effort-- we have to be deliberate and intentional with our thoughts and actions. Here are some simple (and fun!) suggestions to get you started:
  1. Every day, continue to write in your “gratitude and growth” journal (see Happiness Shift #1 vlog below), one thing you did well that day in your mothering. The more you write it down, the better you'll get a making focusing on your strengths a habit. Good habits change our lives!
  2. Make a (mental or physical) list of several things you do well as a mother almost every single day…and no act is too insignificant. Sometimes as moms, we completely discount all the small moments of mothering that we do so very well, and often times, these small moments make the biggest difference: spending quiet time with your kids before you tuck them in, planning and preparing healthy meals, keeping the house clean and orderly, giving your child 5-10 minutes of your uninterrupted attention, listening to them with eye contact when they talk, dropping off and picking up your child on time to all their events, telling them “no” when they need to hear it, being silly and fun, stepping back when they need to do something for themselves, etc. YOU ALREADY DO SO VERY MUCH SO VERY WELL ON A DAILY BASIS. Either post your list somewhere that you’ll be reminded of it, or every time you do that act, make a mental note of what a good job you are doing.
  3. Treat yourself! Positive reinforcement works for mamas, too! When was the last time you bought yourself your favorite coffee drink, purchased that $20 dress from Target that caught your eye, or treated yourself to a long, hot bath? Every week, seize the opportunity to do at least one nice thing for yourself to show yourself appreciation for all that you ALREADY do well as a mama. Appreciation always feels good when it comes from others, but when you show it to yourself, it feels amazing!

 
 
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Image Source: houzz.com
What might happen if you reduced your child’s toys by half… then half again? Would they even notice? My girls didn’t. It’s ironic, as you decrease the quantity of your children's toys and clutter, you increase their ability to pay attention and their capacity for deep play (Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting). Why? Because there are less choices. It's a natural human tendency to get overwhelmed and withdraw when there are too many choices. Our kids do this, too.

The Mindful Mama goal: control the clutter so that a smaller, more manageable quantity of toys remain that invite deep play, engagement, imagination, and attention. These three steps will help you to be intentional about clearing the clutter so that you can create the space for your kids' engagement, imagination, and attention spans to soar!

Step 1: START WITH PILES
With all acts of simplicity, you have to have a plan. Decluttering your child’s space starts with planning 4 piles, so grab some sterilite bins and have some fun! Label them: 1) KEEP, 2) TOY LIBRARY, 3) DONATE, or 4) DITCH. Explain your plan to your kids as you engage them in the process of mindfully managing their space. When I did this with my 5 and 3 year olds, they were asked to choose a couple items that they wanted to play with now, ones they wanted to play with later, and ones they were done playing with to give to other kids. This was an incredible eye opener for me. I found that the toys that my girls were insistent on keeping out were the ones that were the most simple. For instance, dolls were the overwhelming winner. My girls love baby dolls that they can cuddle, mend, feed, teach, and take on adventures. For my girls, dolls provide an opened opportunity for creative play and imagination. 

After we had our piles, the girls chose specific toys they wanted to keep out in the open, and the rest of the "keep" pile, I organized in bins and labeled them; arts & crafts, dress up clothes, crayons & coloring books, puzzles & games, etc... I noticed that having specific bins for specific things made clean up so much easier. The girls know exactly what goes in each bin, so when I ask them to clean up their space, they do all the organizing themselves! (Does it take them a little longer to clean up...yes. But, they are learning such an important skill of taking care of and organizing their space. I also find it a perfect opportunity to talk to them about the importance of a clean, clear space.) 

The "toy library" is where you store all the toys your children still love to play with, but you don't want hanging around in the open. I usually rotate the girls toys whenever I feel they are getting bored in their play space. A good tip to follow-- if you bring out 5 toys from the library, 5 other toys go back in. Donate toys that are still in good condition, and ditch toys that are broken or damaged beyond repair.
 
Step 2: CONTEMPLATE
As you pick up each item (yes, each and every item!), ask yourself, “Is this a toy my child can pour their imagination into, or is it too complicated?” Too complicated means something that your child has to grow into to play with, toys that do too much, or are too stimulating (Simplicity Parenting). If you are not sure, think about how they have played with it in the past. If they have rarely touched it, you have your answer. Asking this question as I held each toy in my hand helped me decided which pile it truly deserved to go in.

Step 3: MAINTAIN THE SPACE
It takes awareness and mindfulness to maintain a clear space for our kids. Especially as the gift giving season is very near, lots of new toys will lovingly be brought into your child's space. Come up with a plan-- perhaps for every new toy that arrives, and older toy will be placed in the "toy library." After the initial rush of present opening and quick play sessions with each new toy have ended, I pay attention to 1 or 2 specific toys my girls spend more time playing with. I then clear all the other toys and put them away for another day. Sometimes I bring them out the next day, next week, or next month. My goal is to just be mindful of the clutter. It's not to deny them their toys. It's intentional mothering, knowing that the less they see, the more engaged they will be with their current toy-in-hand.

As MINDFUL MAMAS we are intentional with clearing the clutter to create space for our child’s natural curiosity and imagination to thrive. When we do this, we also simplify our parental duties. For too long I felt I had to always entertain my girls. Now I realize that all I need to do is create the space for them to "let" their play happen instead of "make" it happen.

“You don’t need to stimulate or enrich play. You don’t have to control it. Sometimes we parents help most by getting out of the way, while being available. We can provide time, opportunities, and resources…by allowing rather than controlling, we give children a sense of freedom and autonomy. Their play is open-ended, the choices and decisions are theirs to make, and the discovery process includes self-discovery.”  Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
 
 
“You are a feeling ‘being’ to the core of you, and so it’s no accident that every part of your human body is created so you can feel life!” The Power, by Rhonda Byrne
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Image Source: footage.shutterstock.com
Joy, love, gratitude, passion, excitement, hope and enthusiasm feel sooooo good.  These feelings are what bring our mothering meaning. Yes!  Life is meant to be felt.  We are glorious, sensual  beings, destined to feel our way through our lives--destined to feel good!  And when we feel good, really good, we mother with effortless ease and grace.

But sometimes, we don’t feel good.  All the demands of mothering have a way of overwhelming us, sometimes so quickly that we don't even notice the shift from feeling good to feeling agitated, anxious, and uneasy.  The fact of the matter is, our feelings go through a natural ebb and flow like everything else in nature.  Sometimes we can't get enough of our kids and love our jobs as mothers; then other days, we might feel like we want to shut ourselves in a dark closet and sleep the day away (Oh...is that just me?).

Whenever you feel in a slump, kinda sluggish, tired, irritable, easy to anger, and out of sorts, you've caught a "soul fever."  See it's not just our physical bodies that can get sick, we can get sick emotionally.  Remember, we are feeling beings!  We feel on both physical and emotional levels; and neither is immune to feeling a little "off" once and a while.

How do you know if you have a soul fever?  Well, you'll feel overwhelmed, stressed, and at odds with your true self (Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting).  Motherhood can be a fertile breeding ground for soul fever "germs"-- constant busy-ness, excessive multitasking, unending demands, and little time for rest.  I personally have found myself catching more soul fevers as a mom more than at any other time in my life because there is so much to do... for other people.  It's so easy to completely neglect myself and my needs.  Whenever I do this, I neglect to honor my purpose-- nurturing and connecting to myself.

If you’ve been feeling boredom, irritation, disappointment, worry, anger, guilt, hate, despair and fear more often than feeling good, it’s time to give yourself a couple good doses of soul medicine-- attention, gentleness, and compassion. 

Step 1: PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU  FEEL
The most important mindfulness tip is just noticing…noticing how you feel all throughout the day.  The more you practice paying attention to yourself, the better you’ll get at meeting your needs before you develop a full blown soul fever!  So start to tune into your feelings throughout the day.  Just notice how you feel right upon waking.  Notice how you feel as you get ready for your day.  Notice how you are feeling while driving to work or carpooling the kids to their events or school.  As you prepare dinner, how are you feeling?  As you settle into bed at night, what are you thinking about?  How are you feeling? 
 
Simply notice the tendency of your thoughts and emotions.  Do you tend to feel more frantic than at peace, more rushed than calm, more anxious than content, or more happy than sad-- and when?  Just start to notice patterns in your emotions and how they coincide with the routine of your day.  Once you start to see some patterns, you'll become aware of what parts of your daily routine might need a little tweak to honor yourself and your needs.

Step 2: GET INTO THE HABIT OF ASKING YOURSELF, “WHAT DO I NEED?”
I LOVE this step. It's so simple, yet so very effective.

Try this: for the rest of your day today, tune into yourself and how you feel every hour (seriously) by silently asking yourself, "what would feel good right now?," or "what do I need right now?"  I've found that just tuning into that quiet voice tells me exactly what I need to do to stay balanced and feel good.  Sometimes (actually, a majority of the time), I don't need much.  It might be a yummy coffee drink while I'm taking my daughter to school, a glass of wine while I am preparing dinner, or to just sit on the couch with my girls while they are watching a video (instead of cleaning the bathroom).  Meeting these seemingly simple needs does SO much to help me feel good consistently. 

Step 3: CREATE "WIN/WIN"
 SCENARIOS (everyday!) 
A "win/win" situation is where everyone's needs, including yours, are taken into account.  It's not selfish to meet your needs ALONG with meeting the needs of your family, mama.  This is how everybody wins.  But the key here is being aware (aka-mindful) of what you need.  Remember, no one knows you as well as you do.  If you want to feel good, you must get creative about honoring what you need along with the demands of everyone else's schedule.  So if it's Wednesday, and the weekend to-do list represents all the things you have to do for other people, you need to throw on the breaks and schedule in some time for yourself.  Win/Win.  Practice integrating your needs while you meet the needs of your family. See how this feels.

As moms, we habitually put everyone else’s needs before ours.  And that's fine, as long as our needs are next in line...at the very least on the line.  And get this...sometimes, our needs actually need to come first (as in the event of a loss of cabin pressure in an aircraft!).  Truly.  When it comes to meeting needs, I follow the “one for you, one for me” principle.  Balance, mama, balance!  That always feels great!