I could tell you about the Marathon Mondays I attended, that I met my husband working a block from the explosions – but I wasn’t there this Marathon Monday. I was home safe with our children. Our good friend was caught in the craziness with her young children as they awaited her husband and sister-in-law. We were able to text and I looked for where the runners were being sent and then they shut off the cell phones.
Unlike Newtown, where we could hide the news from our boys (6 and 8), they saw the story and knew their friends were there. I was, thankfully, able to tell them their friends were safe. The questions began about who would do this and why. I started with there are bad people and ended with “I don’t know”. They hated “I don’t know” and felt I was hiding some big secret from them.
Someday, they will learn – Mommy really didn’t know how someone could do this. They have seen the fear an act like this creates and learned at a young age there are monsters in the world.
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Boston as yet again I look to my young children and I can’t imagine the pain another mother is feeling. We have to come together and make positive changes. We shouldn’t have to shield our children from news of their peers dying. There is too much good in the world to allow these acts. Come together, don’t point fingers and name call – be the positive change!
Each week, I post a series of core exercises on my Simply Modern Fitness page. There is a seated series as well as a standing series. I am excited to announce that I have recently begun adding short videos. Here is one I did this week. I hope you enjoy!
As human beings, judgment is a survival skill. We observe choices that other people have made and determine how it would help us or hurt us. As the world deals with senseless acts of violence the pain and the act itself is incomprehensible. We turn to judgment. How young is too young to attend a late movie, should the parents have known their child was capable of such an act or looking at the content of the movie itself.
These are all natural reactions because we want to think it won’t happen to us or that this could have been stopped. Sadly, it did happen and there was no way of knowing that brining a small child to the movie could result in injury and death. It is time to take the next step in judgment and have compassion. Compassion is also human nature. This helps to separate us from animals; we see what another person goes through and we can feel for them. The bodies will heal, but many will have emotional injuries that will last a lifetime. Being a strong society will allow us to stand together and lend helping hands. Staying away from the squabble of gun control and movie content will help us move forward. Yes, these are real issues but not the true culprit.
We can make the choice every day to smile and help those in our communities. By reaching out and embracing those near us, we can gain strength and compassion. There are so many organizations looking for volunteers that help people of all shapes and sizes. This is a great time to connect with those around us and not let fear and judgment separate us.
I began yoga as a dancer looking for fitness and over the years, I have begun to appreciate all that it does for me physically, mentally and spiritually. There was one aspect I still didn’t enjoy – chanting or even an om at the beginning or end of class. It somehow made me feel as if I were a yogi impostor. Simply, I didn’t get it. As I continued to practice and share my practice with others, I avoided the chanting. I would go along with it in class, but it never had any meaning for me.
The opportunity presented itself to attend a day-long intensive with Shiva Rea and I jumped at it! I traveled to New York City with my husband and children and set off on an adventure. I chose the one day intensive so that I could have a great yoga experience, but not miss out on enjoying the city with my family. This was one of my better ideas. I woke up early on Friday and made sure the kids and my husband were ready for the day and I walked uptown to the Yoga Journal Conference. I had no idea what to expect and began to feel a little nervous and anxious on my walk. I didn’t know a single person going and I had no idea what to expect. I knew they were adding vegan options to restaurant menus at the conference and I had enjoyed a large cheeseburger the night before. Was I going to be alone in my love of meat? Was I going to be the only person who didn’t know the meanings of all the chants?
Turns out it didn’t matter. No one knew that I had a cheeseburger the night before, it simply didn’t come up. Luckily for me, Shiva Rea went over all the meanings of our chants at the beginning of our time together and they are beautiful. After registration, I went and found coffee and met a few people who had traveled in for the day. They were extremely nice and some were also moms. We talked until it was time to find our teachers and prepare for the day ahead.
We began our time with Shiva Rea chanting “Om” as one. It was one of the most amazing experiences! To feel the large group come together collectively took away any fear or discomfort that I had been feeling. It was a moment of harmony that stayed with us through the whole day. Our day included some power point and wonderful explanation from Shiva and we moved collectively through Namaskars. For the second half of the day, we set up our mats in a mandala (life is wholeness, be and see 360 degrees). It was extremely powerful to share the practice in this way. As you were in yourself, you could see the movement and energy ripple across the group.
Moving forward, I hope to practice in this way as often as possible. Moving as a group with intention and sharing the overall experience is something I will never forget! It has come with me when I teach classes myself and I am looking forward to sharing a collective experience, beginning with an “Om”!
Macro shot of a box of clementines, Citrus reticulata 'Clementine' . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all know that fresh fruit and vegetables are good for us, but they often get thrown into the refrigerator drawer and forgotten about. Often when we are hungry, we want a quick fix and cutting up fruit and veggies can be a pain. The key is to make fruit and vegetables the easy choice.
Buying fruit that can be washed and put into a bowl on the counter is a great place to start. Most kids love apples, bananas and clementines (you probably love them too when you think to eat one). By having them on the counter they can help themselves. The next time they say they are hungry or want a snack, direct them to the fruit bowl. Eventually, they will do it on their own.
Another way to make eating fresh produce easy is to prepare it when you get home from the store. In my house, I have to ration the melon. I cut up the cantaloupe or watermelon and put them into single serving containers. This makes it easy for the kids to grab but they don’t sit with the big container and eat it all in one sitting. I do the same thing for grapes.
Next, is veggies. Baby carrots are a staple in my home. The boys take them from the fridge and eat many a day. Cucumbers are another easy one to prepare ahead. You can cut them in circles or into sticks and put them into containers. I mix it up with the kids so it seems different. Celery is another one to prepare ahead. Basically, it is all about making the fruits and veggies easy to grab finger foods.
Preparing single servings ahead of time is not only easier around the house, but makes it easy to pack them in lunches or for a snack on an outing. Maybe take the family for a walk and enjoy some fresh produce in the middle of your adventure. It will help refresh you and keep you going.
Enjoy the warmer weather and all that it gives us!!
My oldest son turned seven yesterday and I have been a stay at home mom since right before he was born. My youngest is five and will be entering full-day kindergarten in the fall. It has been many years of playgroups, story-hours, preschool chatter, etc. Here comes the “now what?” moment. Knowing this time was coming and not being great at sitting around the house, I began thinking about what direction I wanted to go in a while back. It was a time to look at my different skill sets and passions. Ironically, I have wound up where I wanted to be after graduating from college. I am able to dance and teach pilates.
It was definitely a process to reach this point. First and foremost, I had to get back in shape after having two babies. I went back to taking yoga and pilates regularly. A few moms from preschool and playgroup were looking for toddler tap, so I reached out to a studio that didn’t offer tap and began teaching friends’ kids. Eventually, I began subbing for the director and I created a class for adults. None of these ventures were particularly successful; but they kept me moving in the right direction. I went on to earn my pilates certification and began teaching pilates immediately.
After getting my certification, I knew I needed to build a reputation and teach as often as possible. In just a few short months, I am finding that many opportunities are coming at times that are not convenient for the family. My initial reaction is always to say yes, and I am training myself to say no when the time is right. I went from having nothing other than the family to many projects going on at once. What is the correct balance?
Honestly, I am much more efficient when I have a tight schedule. The house tends to be cleaner and the fridge is stocked on days that I have a lot to do and on days when I am not heavily scheduled I can seriously spend the day surfing the internet, catching up on my DVR, etc. Now comes the challenge of balancing efficiency and not burning out. Like many people, I am still working to find this balance. Remembering to take care of myself so that I can take care of my family. Finding personal fulfillment so that I am a happier and more relaxed mom. It is definitely a work in progress, but I am thankful to have the opportunity to pursue a career that I love and spend quality time with my husband and boys.
Veggies from the patio garden
I have the opposite of a green thumb and yet I try to grow a garden every year. Over the last few years, I have learned my limits and where to put my plants. My yard is very shady, so I use a lot of planters on my deck (the sunniest spot on our property). Each year the kids and I plant seeds and watch them grow. Given my lack of a green thumb, this usually results in my buying seedlings when the weather is warm but the kids enjoy selecting seeds and watching them sprout.
It is fun to take the kids to the store and let them pick vegetables to grow in our garden. You would be surprised at what they pick out. I don’t sway them from picking vegetables that they don’t usually eat or limit them to foods that will grow better in New England. Once the weather warms up, we plant the vegetables outside and the kids play an active role in watering the plants and picking our vegetables. They are willing to try anything off the plant. The cherry tomatoes rarely make it into the house. It may not become their favorite food, but at least they try something new. My youngest also picks herbs off the plants and eats them on the deck. He can smell very minty at times
Involving the kids in the process makes for a great project and helps them learn about where food comes from and makes it more fun to eat their vegetables. My older son’s school took this philosophy and created a garden at the school. A group of volunteers and a lot of help from the community has led to a great garden. The entire school planted seeds and the kids were able to go out and check the progress. Each student was able to pick from the garden at the beginning of the season and again at the end. They were even able to supply the school cafeteria with lettuce and vegetables for salads in the fall. Being New England, the growing season isn’t very long but they certainly made the best of it.
It doesn’t take much to start a few plants. Put soil in an old egg carton and then have the kids place one seed in each spot. Continue to water and you will see sprouts quickly. The squashes tend to have big sprouts so the kids really like to see them. They will need to be transferred to bigger containers as they grow or they can go outside if you live in a warmer area. Making it a family adventure helps to ease the work and more fun to share the bounty. A fresh salad from the garden makes summer dinners that much more fun!
Here are a few links about starting a garden:
I am lucky enough to live in a town where the community and schools support each other. My son is in elementary school and this year I was fortunate enough to volunteer for what they call, enrichment clusters. Each school in our town offers a variation of the same program through 7th grade. Some schools find time during the school day for these enrichment clusters and others have them after school. Regardless, they are amazing!
My son’s school has them on Friday mornings for six weeks. These programs are run by parents and volunteers within the community. Each year the school looks for people to volunteer and it is amazing at the variety of programs they offer. There is everything from crafts, sewing, sign-language, the police department and fire department each offer classes, hip hop dance, ice skating (at the community center next door), tennis, gymnastics, rangers from a town beach come in and talk about nature in the area, cooking, photography, and the list goes on. Each child brings home a booklet with all that is being offered and they select their top eight choices. (It should be noted that these clusters are free to students and the PTO covers the cost of supplies)
At the end of six weeks each group creates a presentation to be shared with the school community. Today was the cluster celebration and it was inspiring. To see the wide range of talents offered and the variety of programs was amazing. It is something that I had seen in writing, but to witness it was truly special.
What a great opportunity to volunteer! Look into your own school system and see if they have anything similar. It would work at a community center as well. The children get an invaluable experience and I am sure you will get the same if not more from interacting with kids. You don’t have to be a super parent or member of the community – you just have to show up and be yourself. The more people are involved in their community, the healthier it is for everyone. Happiness is the best medicine around and these kids will definitely put a smile on your face for the entire day.
Everyone misses a day of exercise or eats the extra potato chips, but it’s how we acknowledge the act that makes the difference. Often when people are just getting started on any new venture each misstep seems so much bigger. Making the conscious decision to be kind and understanding to yourself will make the difference. Instead of thinking the entire project is a bust because it wasn’t immediately successful, congratulate yourself on getting started. You can always pick up where you left off.
I often see students in exercise classes get frustrated that they aren’t at the same level as other students and give up. Remember that some people have been coming multiple times a week for months or years. Appreciate the gains that you make with each class or each day. Enjoy the moments of success. Don’t let missing classes or eating something extra get the best of you. Life happens, you can welcome it with a smile or let it stop you. By accepting it and starting over, you will reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and not let a speed bump keep you from reaching your goal. If you are in a difficult situation repeat “finding kindness” in your head until the negative thoughts leave. Each time the negativity rears its ugly head, repeat “finding kindness” again. It takes conscious kindness to move you forward.
A few quotes to help keep kindness in your thoughts:
What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU, Emile
Kindness is like snow–it beautifies everything it covers.
CROFT M. PENTZ, The Complete Book of Zingers