Browsing Category

Lifestyle

Lifestyle

Grateful

I knew being grateful was a practice people used to enjoy life a little bit more, and I wanted to bring it into ours. We brought it to our dinner table three years ago, and still to this day, every time we sit together to eat my kids now remind us (and whoever is over!) that we need to say our Thank You Fors. (sidenote: When my older son (4 1/2) was just 1 we were introducing this to him. He changed “I am thankful for…” to “I am fank you for…” It has stuck ever since.)

At first we went through some of the normal things – family, friends, each other, this food – but after you say what you are thankful for every day for a few weeks, and sometimes multiple times in one day, you get a little – well – uncomfortable. What am I thankful for?

My brother recently sent me a freakonomics podcast on being grateful. Tom Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, made a statement that resonated about why being grateful is such a difficult task for people to continually complete. He said, “We have to pay attention to the barriers in front of us because we have to get over them, or get through them in some way. We have to overcome them. We don’t have to pay attention to those things that are boosting us along. We can just be boosted along.”  And he suggests that in order to really see, and dig in to what we should be grateful for, we might need to change the question to “What are the ways in which I’m boosted along, the invisible things that make my life easier?”

So, instead of that list of what am I grateful for, which can sometimes get monotonous, I say to myself, what has been boosting me along in my life? What has been there? What are my constants? What stabilities have created a ground for which I can feed off of? People, circumstances, feelings, teachings? And the flood gates open and I realize that who I am is a combination of a whole lot of good, and the learning from some bad.

I realized some things from long ago, like incredible high school friends who loved me during a time when I didn’t love myself and my childhood passion for gymnastics which turned to yoga, which instilled a value of mindfulness. I noticed some things I took advantage of like my ongoing love of education and the unbelievable patience of my husband.  I found all of these tiny little joys wrapped up in the gratefulness and that’s when it clicked for me. When my gratefulness got so specific, I was able to use it to notice all the good.

So, that’s what I do now. I do the work. I move the mountains. And I don’t let myself forget to sit and take in the view along the way.

What boosts you along?

 

 

Lifestyle

Finding the Time, part 1

Finding the time for all of it can sometimes feel impossible. There are so many things that we want to do, and so many things we have to do, and when you add a partner or kids into the mix it all quadruples. So one of the best things I have found to do besides the bigger picture idea of simplifying and figuring out what’s truly important, is to try and combine events as much as possible. Welcome to my blog series: Finding the Time.

So many of us need some quiet, alone time (or even meditation time) but have wild (and adorable) hooligans to entertain. Sometimes it’s just hard to catch a breath, yet sometimes that breath is all that we would need to get re-charged. Here’s one way my family tries to get it done.

We use coloring time to get some quiet time. Our whole family sits at a table with books and plain paper and all kinds of coloring tools. We turn on some music and we color. Sometimes we talk or color a picture together. Sometimes it is completely silent and each of us is wrapped in our own thoughts, or non-thoughts.

I actually recently began coloring mandalas (pictured above), which are spiritual representations of the universe, and my kids jumped right in. To quote my Meditation Coloring Book, ‘Mandalas are ‘sacred circles’, geometric shapes without a beginning or an end. They echo the balance and symmetry of the world around us-from the nucleus of a cell to the structure of a snowflake-and they symbolize harmony, wholeness, and healing.’ Who doesn’t benefit from some quiet time enveloped in that?

It’s an excellent time to work on motor skills and focus for the kids, as well as their need for a quiet and meditative practice. It’s an excellent time for my husband and I to each be quiet, breathe, self-talk or just be. The biggest bonus? We get to all be together while we do it! Can’t get better than that.

Here are a few tips for reluctant colorers:

  • We started out this activity with some giant paper and all drew the same picture together. The kids loved building off of what we drew (giant jungles, or farms, or under the sea) or coloring in some of our animals.
  • Google is great for free coloring printables. Some of our nights have themes where we color all of the characters from Kung Fu Panda (for the millionth time). Right now my older son is coloring Lego characters, cutting them out, and putting them all over his room. Interesting decor, but adorable.
  • Use crayons, colored pencils, markers, thin markers, oil pastels, traingle crayons, dot-a-dots, everything. And if you call them ‘Mommy’s special markers’ they really get a kick out of it.
  • Make a mix of music that they love AND you love. My kids currently know the words to my favorite The Last Revel song, but I am also able to belt out a good Maui, You’re Welcome! Just make sure you all can be interested and not driven insane. There’s also a lot of movies that have some great songs like the Pete’s Dragon song Nobody Knows by the Lumineers, or Elton John’s I’m Still Standing from Sing.
  • Try doing this activity just after you’ve all done something physical. Many times we come in from sledding or a hike and we are all ready for some relaxing, quiet time.
  • Always make sure it’s enjoyable and never give up. If it’s not working, wrap it up and move on, don’t force it. Don’t forget to try it again another time, kids are just like that sometimes.
  • And lastly, sit down and enjoy some coloring even if the family doesn’t. They are always watching you and if you are giving something your attention, they will begin to wonder what it’s all about.

Happy Coloring!

 

Lifestyle

Simplicity

That Facebook scroll that shows me a million articles on how my life is not quite good enough, the political rhetoric on the media that has me so confused that I feel a loss of control, the pressure to have my kids involved enough to enjoy activities but not involved too much to induce a loss of family, working on the Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Marriage – even though we don’t have a babysitter, feeding my family healthy food – is it organic – should it be organic – or more simply are they finally full,  friendships that mean everything – you know, those friends I haven’t really spent quality time with in months, giving back to my community, taking care of the earth…so on and so on… The list is endless. Then one day I realized the only person actually putting the pressure on me to get this list of demands completed was me. I was allowing the stress.

So, to simplify, I began to pick away at the list in small tiny steps.

  • Turn off the Facebook scroll – going from looking daily to a couple times a week.
  • Turn off the TV and confusing media and watch a show or two on Netflix instead. Get my info by reading trusted sources.
  • Just give myself a moment to think and watch. Are my kids happy? Are we having meals together? Write out their schedules and look at their lives.
  • Grab my honey’s favorite gelato at the store.  After the kids are asleep put some of our favorite old songs on my phone, lay in bed, talk and eat. The dishes will be gross in the morning and it will be harder to start the day with a messy house, but the light in my heart (and hopefully his!) will make it worth it.
  • Send my friend a text, preferably with a funny memory from our childhood and a quick I miss you. They know – they are in the thick of it too.
  • Pick up garbage around the park while the kids play – or better yet have them help. Small steps are still steps.

Now I didn’t do these things all at once, but gradually I have been taking each stressful situation in my life and trying to find some way to make it a little simpler. I didn’t take the situations completely off my plate, there is room for improvement still. But as I’ve mentioned before, lightening the load does just that – makes it all lighter. If gives us a little extra time to take a breath, to sit and smile, or to have a warm peaceful cup of tea and be grateful.

“I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” Wendell Berry

We are living in this crazy time that is starting to feel extremely polarized – right or wrong, get it done or don’t, say yes or no – and we are forgetting that our lives don’t have to be like that. It stiffens our hearts to always feel we are doing it perfectly right or we are failing. Allowing ourselves to let go and take small steps to being a better person allows us to actually live, and breathe, and enjoy this crazy thing we call life.

 

 

 

Featured Lifestyle

Let Yourself Be Loved

Sometimes your husband takes you to go see a favorite band in the most beautiful place, and you have the best time, and they don’t have a poster left when you get to the front of the line. And then sometimes your best friend scours the internet for months, and finally finds it, and randomly sends it to you…just when you need a little love. And now all of the time you get to be reminded of how loved you are, and how lucky you are, and how beautiful and lovely life can be.

I never shy away from using things I love to add warmth and light to my home. When I was younger I decorated just to decorate, had nice paintings and curtains that matched and stuff. Then I renovated an old farmhouse in Iowa and I treated my home more like a piece of artwork. Every little thing that we added to a wall or table had texture or meaning. And thus evolved my style. The farmhouse didn’t work out, and it made it so hard to leave because we were literally living in all the love of people and places from our lives. We carefully packed up as much as we could and have now tried to work in the same feeling into our more cabin-style Minnesota home.

The poster is obviously a meaningful memory and a reminder of my beautiful friend. The plants add texture, the candle holder shimmers in the light. The flower paintings my husband and I picked up at a market we went to while dating, which gives me those butterflies I get while holding his hand. The framed writing is one of the readings we had at our wedding, 30 people in the middle of a canyon showering us with hope and love. The family picture is pretty self-explanatory, especially since we are laughing and tickling and simply in love. So it’s one tiny wall in my home, and people have told me a few times they really like it, but what matters to me the most is that it warms my heart to sit in this little area. Surrounding myself with reminders of beauty, love, friendship, and laughter helps me remain hopeful and comforted no matter the circumstances. I come into my house and immediately feel the warmth and comfort of my past, present, and future. Dorothy said it best didn’t she? There really is no place like home.

Featured Lifestyle

The Magic of a Photo

If we are ever to enjoy this life, now is the time, not tomorrow or next year…Today should always be our most wonderful day. Thomas Dreier

 

You have to get use to the feeling that ‘a most wonderful day’ doesn’t have to mean much of anything happened. It doesn’t have to be your biggest adventure, the happiest you’ve ever felt…it just needs to be a day you are grateful for.

Especially when things are really hard in life I have found that I turn to my (iPhone) camera. It didn’t really happen on purpose at first, and they are not by any means close to professional pictures, but I just started taking them. What I realized after many months is that I was feeling really grateful. The moments I was capturing were reminding me of tiny little things that filled my heart – my little boys’ fingers, the sunset behind the snowman we built, my amazing poochisimo (aka. dog) catching a ball in mid air – the tiny little things that in really difficult times kept me striving for more.

Don’t worry about the quality, just take them. Snap things in your life, in the world, in others and see what you find…it might just tell you more about yourself than you realize.

Featured Lifestyle

Just a Friend

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it’s a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it’s a long way from here.
Hold on to your life,
Even if it’s easier to let go.
Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I’ll be gone away from you.

A Pueblo Indian Prayer

 

So pretty much how this blog came about was because, for various reasons, several people mentioned that I should have one. ‘I love your photos. I’ve never seen anyone capture the feeling of a moment like that.’ ‘Will you help me design my house?’ ‘You are so creative at teaching and playing with your kids at the same time.’ I struggled to take the idea seriously at first because I wondered – who am I to say this is the way to live your life? But after diving into reading from some people I admire, which is what I do when I need help, a few things convinced me that it might be an ok idea after all.

“Even if it’s a tree that stands by itself” – I realized I was most afraid of the idea because I was afraid to offend someone. I was worried people may disagree or not like some of the things I mention or suggest here, but the Pueblo Prayer reminded me that I belong to the world because of who I am, not because of who I try to be like. This is my road. This is how I have learned to forge ahead, face adversity, and enjoy this place. I do not have the answers. I am not saying this is how you should live your life. All I am hoping to do is share how I have lived, and often coped with mine. I don’t expect you to follow every tiny thing I post here because one, this is a mere snippet of my life and two, you have your own path to follow. My only hope is that some of the ideas or words may inspire you to feel creative or connected.

Joseph Campbell, a writer and lecturer said, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” So, I guess what I’m saying is that I realized Dandelion Prose is not ‘the way’, it is my way. From my experience of life thus far I have certainly found that creating a more simple life can bring great joy, pride and authenticity. I realize if other people are looking for that, I am more than happy to share. So, take an idea here or there, read and let your own creative mind take over, or simply stop by for a laugh or a little inspiration and know that I am just a friend doing the same thing in my own life.

Much love,

Molly

Bitnami