Friday, January 30, 2015

Why yes, the clutter does make your butt look fat!

How might your life be better if you owned fewer material possessions?  I love this question and I have been having this conversation with my kids quite often lately.

My husband and I are determined to teach our children that a simplified life is the best life. We shouldn’t waste precious time looking for matching socks, car keys, etc. Personally I don’t want to be folding a ton of laundry when I could be playing board games with my kids.

A couple years ago I came across a book by clutter buster Peter Walsh “Does This Clutter make My Butt Look Fat?”  his theory is that when you have too much clutter it affects your energy level, your ability to make and eat healthy meals, etc. He asks his readers, “Is hanging on to all those memories (baby clothes, papers, books, etc), keeping you from making new ones?” I love that question! I printed it out and hung it in our storage room where many years of special “memories” have seemed to take root.

Although we constantly make a concerted effort to keep the clutter down, when you have kids and a busy life it can start creeping back.  

So in our daily attempt to live a life comprised of “more experiences and less things” I have fallen in love with the blog     

They say it best: “Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.

There are many flavors of minimalism: a 20-year-old single guy’s minimalist lifestyle looks different from a 45-year-old mother’s minimalist life. Even though everyone embraces minimalism differently, each path leads to the same place: a life with more time, more money, and more freedom to live a more meaningful life.

Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom."

Getting started is as simple as asking yourself one question:
How might your life be better if you owned fewer material possessions?”  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hug Yourself

When you have children you become almost obsessed with the thought of what you think they should know as they grow up and go out into the world. At least for me that is the case with my twin daughters. 

They are nine years old and I often wonder if my husband and I are teaching them all they need to know to be equipped for life. And are we even qualified to do this? I understand that life is a learning process and it is our experiences that helps define us.  But what should we teach our kids during the short span they will listen? How can we keep our kids from making the same mistakes that we did? 

Our daughters are lovely people, not just on the outside but on the inside too. At their young age they show considerable compassion. One morning not too long ago I was feeling down about a personal matter. At 10:49 am a reminder popped up for me on my computer; it said “Hug Myself.”  

My daughters, Liz and Lon, suspecting something was bothering me added "hug myself" ” to my morning calendar, so it would pop up long after I had dropped them off at school and was "into" my day.  (An important reminder that our kids are mostly in tune with us.)

Later on while thinking more of their message I was reminded of an old saying  “You try and teach your children about life and they are the ones that teach you what life is all about.”

So Liz and Lon,  I appreciate all you teach me about the truly important things in life and as you grow up there are some things I want you to know.

I hope you never lose your incredible sense of compassion. The other day I heard you having a conversation on our way home from school. One of your close friends "over reacted" at recess about an unimportant matter. When I questioned the friends reaction, you both reminded me, that I did not know what kind of morning their friend had and she may be reacting to something else. You talked to her and helped her be less angry.  Your compassion is a gift to everyone you know and meet. Guard it closely from cynics and pessimists.

You do not need others to validate you. You don't need friends approval to be happy. Don't succumb to peer pressure which can tear your beliefs and identity from your being. 

Surround yourself with friends and loved ones that appreciate you for the beautiful people you are and will let you grow in areas that make you happy.

Stay strong in your faith. Your dad and I are in awe of your strong conviction. Our dinner prayers always include special intentions from you both, asking God to please remember those without a meal or a place to stay tonight.  Your faith and your prayers make our home life a better place.  I pray everyday that your faith grows with you.

Don't forget you are good enough. Don't let the fear of not being the best keep you from doing what makes you happy. Failure is just an opportunity to try again.

Never let cultural or value judgements pollute your thinking.  Most people are introduced to prejudice through the opinion of other adults. Keep your mind open and think the best about people until shown otherwise.  BUT always trust your instincts.  If you feel uncomfortable in any situation never let your manners prevail over your safety.  Cross the street if you have a "bad" feeling about the one you are walking down.  If a person makes you feel annoyed or afraid, leave the situation.  Your instincts are a gift from God, trust it and use it.

Keep learning about anything and everything.  You are both voracious readers and you get so excited about learning new things. Stay open minded, continue to read many genres and stay excited about books and reading.

Be kind, people always remember how you made them feel.

Never stop playing the piano. You both truly have a musical gift. Don't waste it.

You will never need drugs, alcohol, food, more "stuff," or boyfriends to make you happy. To be truly happy concentrate on what is inside of you; your  compassion, faith, mindfulness and gratitude.  Every time you do something meaningful and help to make a difference that will give you true satisfaction and happiness.

Inspire others. Stand up for what is right. 

Keep up your interest in cooking.  Your dad and I love it when you kick us out of the kitchen so you two can create your own recipes. You are little kitchen chemists changing recipes to be more healthy. Make healthy meals from scratch for yourselves and those you love.  It will bring you great joy.

Save. Save. Save. Money not things. Adapt a lifestyle of more experiences and less things. Don't spend if you don't have the cash. Learn to live with less. Simplify. It will make you happy, I promise.

Be spontaneous. Your life will be so much more interesting.

Keep being active and never stop but have fun doing it. In addition to a healthy body and mind you will meet new people. You will never regret the time you take to stay active. 

Learn perspective especially when experiencing stress. Is the situation something so important that it will matter in a week?  If so don't be afraid to ask for help. 

Accept change as a life adventure.  Learn to have a flexible attitude.  Open your heart to new experiences. That was how I dealt with our cross country moves. In return I have made life-long friends in places far from where we live now.  And the memories are absolutely priceless.

And don't forget to hug yourself every day. 

You are beautiful inside and out and I love you infinity.  


“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” 

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Coolest Pillow on the Planet

I think it is extremely important for all children to learn to love to read at an early age. Exposure to different ideas, cultures, and a new vocabulary can have life long benefits for a child. In addition, their curiosity and their desire to learn make them a wonderful audience. They don’t read or want to be read to for any other agenda than the sheer joy of discovery.  I found this out early on when my twins were born. Reading to them was an essential component in filling up our days. Nine years later they are the most voracious readers I know. They will read any genre on any topic all because they love to keep learning. I believe that getting children to love books early on is a great gift we can give them. Is there nothing better than being lost in an exciting book? In our house, reading is a quality of life issue. We are all happy when lost in great books. 

One of the best ways to get children interested in books early on is to read to them often. It is recognized as the single most important activity for language development.

With this being said, I have partnered with the new children's storytime product  elo™ Pillow, writing a collection of children's stories for elo™ a bedtime tool that plays stories and ambient sounds when children rest their head on it. If they lift their head up, elo™ reminds them to "Lay your head down to hear the rest of the story." I am happy to be a part of this revolutionary technology that promotes healthy sleeping habits and more enjoyable bedtimes and guilt free quiet time. A storytelling pillow is a better alternative than a TV.   I wrote 13 original children's stories and I get most of my ideas from everyday life and the funny and inquisitive questions you get from kids.  My story “Ruby the dog,” came to me watching our dog Gracie chase our cat Mittens all over the house one day. I literally just had to write down what a saw and I had a story.   In writing children stories as a parent, I also try to create a valuable message that the child can take with them long after the story is finished.  That was my incentive for the “Very Special Doll.”  I hope it will remind people what truly matters in a person. In addition I contributed 11 rewrites from the public domain as requested by the publisher.  

Please check back again I will be posting audio to the books soon.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

You are Your Response

Everyone is so busy and we are all tugged at on all sides. If our kids don't need something, a text may demand immediate attention, unanswered emails, housework, laundry, the list goes on and on.

This build-up of unfinished work and the constant demand for your attention puts your nerves on edge and makes it so easy to just "blow up"for  no important reason.

Below is an excerpt from the blog "Hands Free Mama"  that may change how you think and react.

I am My Response (By Hands Free Mama)
I am my response to my child’s mismatched outfit and the crumpled report card at the bottom of her backpack.

I am my response to my spouse who returned from the store without toilet paper but remembered the tailgate snacks.

I am my response to my anxious parent who repeats the same worries and insists on giving me coupons I do not need.

I am my response to my colleague with sad eyes and frequent absences.

I am my response to my 15-minutes-late hairdresser with a sick child.

I am my response to my neighbor with heart-heavy problems and little family support.

I am my response to the irate driver who cut me off and made an obscene gesture in front of my children.

I am my response to the waitress who got my order wrong.

I am my response to myself when I forgot the one thing I most needed to do today.

I am my response to spilled coffee, long lines, and middle-of-the-night wake ups.

My responses are not perfect … they are not always ideal … I am human after all.

But if I strive to offer responses underlined with
and care,
That is something.
That is something.

Because my responses are more than just words.

They represent
who I am,
who I want to be,
and how I will someday be remembered.
Today I will not respond perfectly. I know.
But if I strive to communicate with hints of kindness and traces of love,
That will be something
That will be something
That could mean more than words.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Let Me Buy You a Drink Horace.

“I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don’t have any clean laundry, because come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?”

     Roman lyric poet, satirist and critic Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace)

Horace sounds like someone I  could sit and have a drink with. It's hard not to appreciate his attitude. In fact after coming across this quote I plan to dig into his life a little more. Anyone with the titles "lyric poet," "satirist" and "critic" before their name must have some interesting life stories.  

I love to read everything. Books, magazines, newspapers, online media, etc.  and I often come across  great tidbits of information that I want to tell others, or that I want to save to read again at a later date.  The note app on my smartphone contains many of theses little tidbits.  

Seven years ago when our twin girls were about two years old. I started to save articles that wanted them to read when they are older. 

You know the feeling when you read something and it really makes you think and you wish your kids were old enough to share that particular topic with them?  This was my reason for literally tearing out and saving articles.  

The genre of topics were many; some were inspiring, others covered finances, some were articles on relationships; and some discussed clever cooking tips.  I would clip them out of magazines, newspapers, jot  down notes and put them in a box titled “advice from mom.” 

The quote mentioned above by Horace would probably have ended up in my collection with a note scrawled on it saying “don’t worry about getting your dishes done, play with your kids,” or something along that line.

Fast forward 7 years, add a leaky ice maker that dripped though the floor to the basement; a box full of soggy wet and ruined papers, and you now know my reason for this blog. 

It is a place safe from the evil ice maker and any other natural disaster that can destroy my collections of information I think is worth sharing and saving.

 Read to expand your world. Then share what you learn.