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2014 Blogiversary Giveaway!

To celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Nurtured Mama, I'm giving something away (I kind of like this tradition!).

On the day before my 40th birthday, I published the first post on this blog. It wasn’t my first blog post (not in the slightest!) but it was the beginning of a bigger vision, a hope for a community, and a way to put my voice where it might possibly help other moms like me.

In the last two years, so much has changed in my life. My daughter has grown from a baby to an opinionated child. I’ve cut off my hair, gutted my wardrobe, launched a class, lost two pregnancies, been in a car crash, started painting again, been very sick, and am finally getting well again. I’ve written my heart out on this blog and I’ve found the community I was seeking. Just in this year Nurtured Mama’s subscribers have doubled and traffic has quadrupled. You have come here from Pinterest, Facebook, and other blogs where I have written. And you’ve stayed. Even when I needed to take a break this summer, you guys were right here when I got back.

I’m just so grateful to you, that’s what I’m trying to say. I’m so glad you are here reading and that you tell me my words are useful to you. This is what keeps me going. This is what keeps me excited about sharing stories, sharing ideas, showing up to this screen and this particular blank page.

So I want to give you something back – a spot in my upcoming holiday class. All I ask is that you hop over to fill out this extremely short survey and tell me three things: Something you wish I’d start doing, something you think I could stop doing, and something you’d like for me to continue. Leave your email at the end to be entered to win a spot in class. Your emails will only be seen by me and only used to draw a winner – I’ll delete the list when that’s done.

The winner will be drawn on November 28 and contacted by email. If by chance the winning entrant has already paid for a spot in class, I’ll refund the payment.

Thank you for celebrating the close of another year her on this blog, and joining me for the next one!

PS – If you aren’t yet a subscriber, but would like to be, it is easy to sign up. Just enter your email at this page. You can choose to receive posts from the blog to your inbox or only the newsletter, which I send every 3 to 4 weeks with additional stories, offers, and discounts.

Registration is now open for 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday. This course offers gentle support and guidance to celebrate the holidays on your terms, with less stress and more joy and connection. Read more and register here before class begins on December 1!
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Plan Ahead for Calmer Holidays

A little planning now will give you more space, joy, and relaxation around the holidays. Click over for tips on scheduling, managing holiday mail, and more. :: www.nurturedmama.netFor a number of years, I started dreading Christmas, oh, around October. I shared more of that story last year, and my 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday class grew out of the things I learned as I found my way back to loving the holiday season. I can honestly say that when I saw the first holiday decor this year while shopping (even though it was the first week of October), I smiled in anticipation. Progress!

This week I want to share with you a few of the more practical ways I prepare for the holidays before things get crazy busy.

[Tweet “Plan now for a calmer holiday!”]

(For even more tips, join me for 21 Days starting December 1.)

Set Your Intention For the Season

To prevent going into reaction mode just to manage the busy, think now about how you would like to feel during the month of December and into January. What one theme would you like to feel running through the holiday? Family? Community? Wonder? Consider some of these questions:

  • What is your most treasured holiday tradition?
  • What holiday activities could you really live without?
  • Where do you feel the magic? How can you find more of that?
  • What are your family’s favorite activities? Least favorite activities?
  • Do you want to send cards? Or greetings in some other format?
  • What is your budget for gift giving and entertaining this year?

Your answers to these questions will give you a framework to decide what you want to say yes to and what you want to say no to this month.

Prepare For Holiday Mail

Are you overwhelmed with catalogs yet? I am. Incoming mail around the holidays can get crazy. Just when you want to keep your house tidy for guests, your mailbox starts churning out the paper for you to deal with. And not just catalogs, but holiday cards, and possibly a lot of packages, if you do some of your Christmas shopping online. Here are some ways you can tame that mess:

  • Make a place to stash mail-order gifts until wrapped. Designate a closet or out-of-the-way spot to stack those boxes until you are ready to open them and wrap the gifts. Ideally, do that the day they arrive, but if that’s not realistic, just make sure you have a corner where they won’t be in your way.
  • If you get a lot of holiday greeting cards, set up a way to display them so you can put them out the same day they arrive. That can be as simple as making space on your mantle or hanging a length of ribbon and using clothespins to attach the cards to the ribbon.
  • Make a plan for outgoing mail, too. If you are sending holiday cards, make it easy on yourself. Make a basket of all the supplies you need to write, address and stamp them so you can carry it to wherever you are working. If you are shipping gifts, make sure you mark on your calendar when everything needs to be in the mail to arrive on time and schedule a trip to the post office before that date!
  • Make a thank-you card station. Once you are done with your holiday cards, recycle that basket into a thank-you card station. If you have kids who are old enough to write, check out these printable cards they can fill out themselves.

A little planning now will give you more space, joy, and relaxation around the holidays. Click over for tips on scheduling, managing holiday mail, and more. :: www.nurturedmama.net

Re-Think Your Gifts

The most important thing I did to get my joy back in the holidays was change the way I approached gift giving. I cut my gift list down to just my immediate family, which freed up both time and money to really give thoughtful, heartfelt gifts. Sometimes those gifts are handmade, but not always. Re-finding my joy in giving really helped me re-find the magic of the holiday. If you struggle with gift giving because it feels overwhelming, costs too much, or just doesn’t feel joyful, consider some of these alternate gift ideas (there is a lot more about intentional giving in the 21 Days class!):

  • Give an experience gift. Sign someone up for a class, buy tickets to a show or a trip. Or just give the offer of a day spent together doing something you both love.
  • Give the gift of time. Offer babysitting services to a family with little ones. Offer to help someone finish a project, or do some work around their house. Do you have skills that someone else needs? Offer them!
  • Make a donation. I get the Heifer International catalog every year, and I love the idea of giving a pig or a goat in the name of someone I love. Another idea along these lines is to set up a Kiva account for someone and let them manage the micro loans  as they wish.

Ease Up Your Schedule

This is where the month always falls apart for me. I have good intentions, but it is just so easy to say yes to everything that sounds fun! Resist the temptation. Say no to some things so you can enjoy fewer things more. Take a look at your December calendar now to make sure you preserve some room to breathe, rest, and celebrate. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Mark your social engagements. What parties have you been invited to? Do you or your partner have a company party you should attend? Take a look at how these events fall, decide which ones you want to go to and which you want to skip and send in those RSVPs right away.
  • If you have kids in school, mark school holidays and parties. If there are treats or cards you want to have ready, make sure you mark your deadline for getting those things ready, too!
  • Fill in any traditional family events. Does your family like to go look at Christmas lights? Do you go see the Nutcracker? Throw a cookie party? Make sure you save room for those things, as they are likely more meaningful than that company party anyway.
  • Are you traveling? Hosting guests or family? Mark out any travel dates and guest arrival dates.
  • Mark out rest days! Is there any room left? Schedule yourself some down evenings to just be. If you got this far and find there are no gaps, go back and remove some things to make them!

What parts of the holiday season make you feel most stressed?

Registration is now open for 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday. This course offers gentle support and guidance to celebrate the holidays on your terms, with less stress and more joy and connection. Read more and register here. 
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Minted Review (& Giveaway!)

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

Updated: This giveaway is now closed. The winner is Heidi, who wrote, “I’m loving the Winter Brush Christmas cards! It’s so classy.” Heidi, I’ll be sending you an email with your credit details.

 

Have you heard of Minted? While on the surface it looks like another online stationary and holiday card store, it goes far beyond that.

Minted was founded in 2007 with the idea that there was under-represented creative talent all around the world and that the Internet could help connect these artists with customers. The company holds “design challenges” that draw entries from more than 48 countries. The public votes on their favorites and Minted produces and sells the winning designs, returning a commission to the designer on every sale.

Minted contacted me recently to ask if I wanted to review their products and tell you about them. I was impressed with the look of their designs, but when I dug in and read about their business model I got really excited. They aren’t just selling pretty Christmas cards and wedding invitations, they are actually helping independent artists to flourish through crowdsourcing. That’s the kind of company I can get behind.

Disclosure: Minted sponsored this post by providing me with shop credit and use of their images. All words and opinions about their products are my own. 

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

But back to the holiday cards, because if you do holiday cards, this is a good place to look for them. Gorgeous photo cardspost cards, stunning foil-pressed designs, and even options without traditional holiday greetings (those are hard to find!). Each design can be customized to make your holiday cards unique to your taste.

I have skipped sending holiday cards for the last few years, but I’m intrigued by the Minibook and Booklette options. I think some grandparents in our lives would appreciate these!

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

If you are looking for wedding invitations, Minted’s selection is extensive. From invitations with fresh designs, save the date cards and magnets, to programs, menus and beautiful party decor. You can sign up here to have a sample kit sent to you.

minted party - 600

Speaking of party decor, be sure to check out the seasonal and themed decor available. You can select individual items (I love the personalized bunting banners!), select pre-made party bundles, or put together your own package of fun for a discount price.

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

But this has to be my favorite group of products right here: Personalized day planners, address books, and notebooks. Pick your cover, choose your interior notebook (blank journal with lined, blank or graph paper, address book, or perpetual monthly or weekly planner), choose your binding, and optionally customize the cover with your name or photos. They also invite special requests by email.

Custom notebooks? That’s my love language right there.

Are you a fan of old-fashioned correspondence? Minted also sells custom stationary with designs for him, for her, and for kids. One of my sisters gave my daughter a box of gift cards for her birthday last year and Bean loves to draw a picture on a card to send to someone she’s thinking about. I’m pretty sure my sister is stoked too, because she’s been the recipient of a card more than once! A set of beautiful cards make a great gift.

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

In addition to stationary, Minted also sells limited edition and custom art prints, framed or unframed, in a range of sizes. I found this stunning landscape by Emily Jeffords, an oil painter I’ve recently been following on Instagram.

I think the state-shaped custom prints would make a really fun wedding gift, and I love the name and letter prints for a new baby. These designs are fresh and modern and would look great hanging in a nursery. I’m thinking about ordering this “S” print with a photo of my girl.

Minted crowdsources beautiful designs and produces what their users vote on. The result is stunning cards, invitations and party decor that connects independent artists with discerning customers. This review gives an overview of the products available and includes a $50 shop credit giveaway! :: www.nurturedmama.net

But wait, there’s more! Minted isn’t just about paper goods. They’ve also just launched printed fabric! Minted is working with artists around the world to reproduce patterns that customers can buy in cotton or cotton-linen blend by the yard. How cute is this whale print? Or these veggies? A yard of custom-print fabric isn’t cheap at $32-34 a yard, but for a small project like a baby quilt or contrast fabric for a special outfit, you can have a beautiful one-of-a-kind look.

The only real problem with the breadth of Minted’s products is figuring out what to order! But I can help with that, a little. Because Minted has offered a $50 credit to one Nurtured Mama reader.

To enter, leave a comment describing your favorite Minted product. For an additional chance to win, sign up for the Nurtured Mama newsletter here and leave me a comment that you have so that I can confirm your subscription went through. If you are already a subscriber, just leave a comment saying so.

At 9AM PST on Wednesday November 19 I’ll draw a winner for the giveaway using Random.org and will notify the winner by email. Good luck!

To keep up with what’s new at Minted, check out their beautiful blog, Julep. There you’ll find company news as well as sweet craft ideas and inspiration. Want to participate? Go here to submit designs or to vote on current contests. 

Registration is now open for 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday. This course offers gentle support and guidance to celebrate the holidays on your terms, with less stress and more joy and connection. Read more and register here. 
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How To Meditate If You Can’t Sit Still

 

You’ve probably heard all about how good meditation is for you. Clarity of mind, calm thoughts, focus, creativity. Awesome rewards, right? Especially for a mom of active young kids.

But when you are a busy mom with active kids who have active schedules, finding the time and focus to meditate feels especially far away. Sitting still, in silence, for an extended period of time? That feels like bliss, but probably unattainable.

Even if you can find the time, how do you clear your head of the to-do list, the things forgotten that need to be dropped off, the appointments, the everything that you need to track as a mom of little people? How do you manage to sit still?

Well, maybe you can’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of meditation at all. If you cultivate the practice of paying attention, even if you aren’t sitting still, you can learn how to meditate in motion.

Here are some ideas for meditation that don’t require you to stop moving:

Walk With Intention

You can practice this one whether you are going for a long walk or just walking across a parking lot. Focus your attention on your breath. Notice how your lungs feel as they expand and contract. See if you can feel the air moving past your lips, or into your nostrils. Slow your breath, deepen it. Notice your feet and how they connect with the ground. See if you can feel the pressure of the soles of your feet all the way from heel to toe. Slow your steps (not if you in a parking lot!) to really feel the whole movement of each step.

Repeat Repeat Repeat

It may seem counter-intuitive, but I find my best movement meditations happen when I’m doing something active, but repetitive. Like shoveling dirt from one place to another in the garden, swimming laps, spinning yarn, or knitting on a simple pattern. I’ve heard other describe the same benefits from running and practicing Nia. Clear head, in the midst of motion. Just concentrate on what you are doing, rather than what you are thinking about. Any time you notice you are wrapped back up in “thinking about,” re-focus your attention on your activity, how your body feels, what your breath is doing. It takes a little bit of practice, but just keep coming back to focus your attention each time it strays.

Conscious Breathing

Most of our breathing happens unconsciously (good thing!). But there’s a good reason that the first instruction of most meditation practices is, “focus on your breath.” It is always with you, it is repetitive, it is life-sustaining. The easiest and most accessible way to do this is to simply pause, wherever you are, and consciously take a few cycles of breath (Liz recommends 5 breaths as a great centering exercise). It might help to breathe in with a short mantra, like “I am here.” Then breath out with a different one, like “I am calm,” or “I am enough.” Bring your focus into your body, onto your inhalations and exhalations, and let go everything external for the length of those breaths.

Use Creative Focus

Last week I wrote about how coloring is a great way to relax, and I mentioned above that my head clears when I am knitting. Another way I love to calm my mind is with drawing. It is amazing how you can get to know the details of an object when you draw it. You don’t need to have great skills to do this. Try contour drawing, or just try to capture your impression of a scene or object. Notice not only what you can see, but what you can hear, smell, and feel. Get all of your senses engaged.

Do Yoga

Although most Westerners think of Yoga as a form of exercise, the original intent of the asanas was to limber and strengthen the body and train the breath to support a meditation practice. In the right class and with the right teacher, yoga can be as meditative as, well, meditation. Look for a flow or Vinyassa class, which links the poses together to the rhythm of the breath. If you are looking for even deeper relaxation, try a gentle yoga or a restorative yoga class. I feel so calm and centered at the end of a restorative class.

Do you have a meditation practice? What kind of meditation do you find most beneficial?

Registration is now open for 21 Days to a Peaceful Holiday. This course offers gentle support and guidance to celebrate the holidays on your terms, with less stress and more joy and connection. Read more and register here. 
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Coloring Books for Adults Are The New Way To Relax

Coloring books for adults are the new way to relax and unwind. :: www.nurturedmama.net

The first time I came across a coloring book designed especially for adults was in my local upscale stationary store. I was looking for a new coloring book for my daughter, but my eye was drawn to a display of large, beautiful books published by Usborne for grownups. Of course I had to get one. Since then I’ve been hooked.

I’ve seen mandala coloring bookscoloring patterns drawn by well-known illustrators and books with detailed designs in the style of Zendoodles.

Why so popular? Well, it turns out that coloring is good for adults in exactly the same way it is good for children. Focus on coloring a page stills our minds, while also stimulating the brain areas that control motor skills, creativity, and the senses (at least 3 of them, please don’t eat your crayons!).

Psychologist Gloria Martinez Ayala, quoted in this article from Huffpost Spain,  describes how coloring activates both halves of the brain and promotes relaxation:

The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.

What do you need to get yourself this kind of relaxation? Not much, which is another benefit of the activity – you can do it almost anywhere. You just need a picture to color and something to color with. Crayonscolored pencils, markers or gel pens all work fine. No special art supplies are required and there is no wrong way to do this.

Here are some of the coloring books I seen for grown ups:

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product after clicking through a link I will earn few cents from the sale at no additional cost to you. This income helps to support this blog. Thank you!

Mandalas

Mandala patterns were used in relaxation therapies by Carl Jung in the early 20th century. The form is even older – the word “mandala” comes from Sanskrit and means “circle” or “spirit” and in eastern culture represents the universe or unity. Some believe that focusing on a question or intent while coloring or drawing a mandala is a powerful way to facilitate meditation and access your inner intuition.

 

 

Fun Designs

 

Intricate Designs

 

Print Your Own!

  • I have a printable coloring sheets board on Pinterest with links to pages for both children and adults. Most of these are free.
  • If you sign up for Dover’s email list, they send out free coloring sheets to subscribers regularly
  • There are also sites that have free mandala coloring pages for either kids or adults.

So the next time your kids want to color, pull out your own coloring book and join them. Coloring is now a favorite after-dinner-but-before-bed activity in our house.

Do you have a favorite grown-up coloring book? Share it in the comments!

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You Are Not A Dumbhead

You are not a dumbhead; how to handle being angry at the universe. :: www.nurturedmama.net

The other day, driving home from the store, Bean announced from the backseat, “Bella* called me a dumbhead.”

I looked up to the mirror sharply to see if she was laughing or hurt about this little bit of information. Bella is her best friend who she goes to daycare with and their friendship has being going through a rocky transition recently. Bean was looking out the side window, holding her water bottle loosely balanced on her thigh. Definitely hurt.

I bit down my initial mama bear response and tried to keep my voice even. “Why do you think she called you that?”

“We were fighting. She was wanted the toy and I wouldn’t let go.”

“That’s not a nice thing to call somebody, even when you are mad at them. How did it make you feel when she called you that?”

“Mad. I yelled at her.”

Poor Bella. My girl has a big voice. She’s yelled in my face a few times and it is kind of scary.

Sometimes I envy Bean being 3 and not having all the social filters for her emotions in place yet. On one hand, it makes being blindsided by your best friend calling you a mean name really painful. On the other, you can respond by yelling your rage into her face.

There have been a few times in the last few months when I wanted to voice my rage and grief exactly like that. But I didn’t, because I’m a lot of years older than 3 and I know I’m not supposed to do that. Also, I didn’t know whose face to pick because the things I’m angry about are no one’s fault.

Instead my anger comes out sideways. I shove the cat off my lap with a bit more force than needed. I slam doors. I swear at other drivers when I’m alone in the car. I pick fights with my man, who doesn’t really respond, which just makes me more mad so I shove the cat again. The yelling gets bottled up and that doesn’t feel healthy.

That evening while I was making dinner and getting frustrated with her being underfoot, she tried out her new powerful word on me. “You’re a dumbhead!”

I responded badly: “Go to your room! You may not talk to me that way!” I made her cry. I made myself feel like a jerk.

Later, after we’d both calmed down and had some food, she told me again, “Bella called me a dumbhead today.” There was something else she needed to process about this.

“How did that make you feel?”

“It made…,” She was looking away, across the room. “It made me feel… broken hearted.”  She lowered her head and inhaled a sob. My tears came just as fast. I know, my little one, I know that hurt.

“Come here, honey, come sit in my lap. I’m so sorry Bella made you feel broken hearted.” She curled herself up into a lap-sized ball and I comforted myself with the warmth of her in my arms.

“I’m not a dumbhead,” she said into my shirt.

“No, you are not a dumbhead. That’s a mean name that makes people feel bad, but it isn’t true. Do you remember when you called me a dumbhead earlier?” She looked up at me warily.

“Yeah.”

“Well, that made me feel bad, too. That’s why I got angry. When you said that it made me feel like you don’t like me. It made me feel broken hearted, too.”

“But Mommy, I still like you even when I’m mad at you.”

Sometimes having my own words echoed back at me is the best thing ever.

“I know you do. I still love you even when I’m mad at you, too. But I’m very careful to use words that don’t hurt your feelings, even when I’m mad. When you called me a dumbhead when you were mad, that hurt my feelings.”

“Oh.”

We went on with our meal. We negotiated how many more bites she had to eat before she could be excused and how long she could play before it was pajamas time. She got down from her chair while I was finishing my plate and went over to her craft cart.

“Mommy?” she said after a minute, her back to me.

“Yes, honey?”

“I love you. I’m so sorry I called you a dumbhead.”

“Thank you, sweat pea. I love you, too.”

“You are not a dumbhead, Mommy.”

If only the universe could issue me that apology. “You are not a bad person. You didn’t deserve this bad year.” It would make me feel so much better.

I might even feel like I don’t need to yell or shove the cat any more.

 

*not her real name

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Pinned It. Did It. Upcycled Girl’s Dress

Pinned it. Did It. Upcycled Girl's Dress

Do you have any clothes in your closet that you love, but don’t love to wear? That was the case with this one skit. I loved the fabric, and it reminded me of a trip to visit my grandparents when I was pregnant with my daughter. But honestly, this skirt looked terrible on me. I’d put it on, look in the mirror and take it off again. Still, I couldn’t get rid of it.

Finally it dawned on me that I could turn it into something else. So I upcycled it into a dress for Bean. And then she asked if it could be her wedding dress.

Read the whole story over on Liz’s blog!

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Workflow Wednesday: How I Use The Printable Charm Planner Pack

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

I go back and forth with my planning and scheduling support. Mostly I like my planning systems to be digital and in the cloud, so that I can get to them whenever and from whatever device I have handy. But I have a weakness for pretty planners, too.

This year I put together a printed planner for my blog that has been a huge help for keeping me on track and organized. Also, when I’m overwhelmed, I move off the computer to paper. I don’t know why, but the simplicity of paper and pen seems to help me feel like everything is more concrete and achievable. Or maybe I just like being able to cross things off with a pen when they are done.

I’ve been following Sarah Bell of  Printable Charm on Instagram since before she launched her shop, and I love her designs and her philosophy toward life: “I want to feel good about spending quality time with my family, knowing we are focused on the things that will actually matter in 10 years!” So when she put out a call for bloggers interested in trying and reviewing one of her Printable Charm Planner Packs, I jumped at the opportunity.

Official disclosure: I received a free planner pack for review, but the images and opinions in this post are my own.

I chose her Chalk It Up Planner because I love the simple, modern look. The planning pack also comes in Glam Slam and Seaside Watercolor designs – it really was hard to choose a favorite!

Each of Sarah’s planner packs include the following:

  • 2 years of calendars with daily and monthly views
  • Birthday and anniversary perpetual tracker
  • Blog planner
  • Health tracker
  • Financial freedom tracker
  • Direct sales planner
  • Menu Planner
  • Teacher Planner
  • Appointment, activity and black sticker sheets (to be printed on sticky paper)
  • Notes pages

She also offers a separate Goals Planner and a Travel Journal And Planner.

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

I printed out the menu planner immediately I’ve written about my commitment to menu planning before, and this one-page menu planner and grocery list is perfect for the way I plan our family’s meals.

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

I liked her blog planning designs, but I already have a planner printed and bound that will through the end of 2014. I may look at using some of these pages for my 2015 planner. I especially liked the weekly sheet that includes an area to track social media promotion for each post and the stats tracking sheet.

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

The financial planning section is great, but I already do all these things online. If you are just starting with budgeting or really want to have this work in a tangible printed format, you’ll love these forms. There are monthly budget planners as well as a sheet to help you track debt payments and savings goals.

Workflow Wednesday: How I use the Printable Charm Planner Pack

Because I mostly keep my calendar in iCal, I didn’t think I’d be using the calendar pages. But on a week I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with my to-do list, I decided to print out the daily calendar to help me map out how to get some stuff done. I printed the month of October half size and stapled it into a planner pad. Then I filled in all my scheduled appointments, tasks from my to-do list, and my family’s schedule for each week, making sure I wasn’t overwhelming myself on any one day. This has been really helpful in getting caught up in the last week, while still protecting my still-fragile daily energy. The daily view, with its division of morning/day/night is really great for helping me see my day in manageable segments.

There were two things I’d have really appreciated that this pack didn’t include. First, a linked index list of the contents. Because there is SO MUCH in this planner, I spent a lot of time scrolling through it, looking for the one page I wanted to print. It would be great to have an index at the beginning that would let me jump to the  section I’m looking for

Second, I would have liked a very simple project tracking sheet. I know there’s a separate goals planner that contains something like that, but there are many small projects in my day to day life that I need to break down into smaller steps to take action on. I’ve been using this free printable from Ann-Marie Loves.

The upshot? If you like to plan on paper, and love pretty design, these planner packs are awesome. You can find your own here at Printable Charm.

Do you prefer paper or virtual tracking for your schedule and to-do list?

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Workflow Wednesday: How To Start A Painting

How To Start A Painting; A Guide for Mothers :: www.nuturedmama.net

I found this post on my old blog recently. Although I wrote it when Bean was just a baby, the struggle to extricate my attention from motherhood to focus on my creativity is no easier now. The details may look different for me now, or for you there, depending on your craft or the age or number of your children, but I’m guessing the struggle will feel familiar to many of you. 

How to start a painting:

Carefully break the sleeping baby’s latch on my breast.
Freeze until I am sure she’s asleep.
Slowly get out of bed, hoping the bed frame doesn’t creak and wake her.
Sneak down the hall, avoiding the squeeky board.
Turn on the baby monitor.
Check the time.
Empty the sink, wipe the counter.
Put away the mail.
Add a couple things to the running to-do list that I thought of while laying in bed.
Empty the litter box.
Peek in the bedroom to make sure she’s breathing.
Check the time.
Start a load of laundry.
Put on some music. Change my mind and leave the music off because it will wake the baby.
Go in the studio.
Go back to the kitchen for the baby monitor and a glass of water.
Go in the studio.
Pull out a photo and fight the urge to go print a better one off the computer.
Pry open the palette and check the paint.
Toss the dry paint out and apply new colors.
Fight the urge to go vacuum.
Check the time.
Talk back to the voice that says I’m not any good and I don’t know what I’m doing and I have lots of other things that are far more important and a better use of my time.
Go fill a jar with water and sit.
Fight the urge to go check that the baby is breathing.
Rummage around for an appropriate surface to paint on.
Resist the urge to choose something that needs a coat of gesso, thereby giving me an excuse not to start the actual painting yet.
Sit down at the easel.
Notice that the support I chose is a different aspect ratio than the photo and rummage around some more for masking tape to mask the photo to the right shape.
Listen closely to the monitor to make sure the baby’s breathing.
Go get the mail.
Check the time.
Panic, because the baby’s going to wake up any time now.
Sit.
Take a deep breath.
Dampen a brush and pick up some color.
Take another deep breath and relax my shoulders, bringing my attention to this brush, this color, this moment.
Begin.

Do you have rituals or routines you use to shift gears between one role and another? Share them in the comments below!

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A Better Way To Ask, “How Are You Today?”

A Better Way To Ask "How Are You Today?" :: www.nurturedmama.net

I have a long-time friend who dislikes the question, “How are you today?” because he feels people answer out of habit, not really saying how they are. “Fine,” we say, or “Pretty busy,” But what he wants to know, when he asks someone how they are is how they really are.  Not the habitual answer, but how they really are in that moment. He wants to connect.

He asked me once what question he could ask to find out how I really am and I told him to ask me if I’d noticed the sky today.

On days when my mind is busy and the to do list is pressing and noticing the world around me is not a priority, I don’t notice the sky. It takes a certain amount of slowness, of presence, to look up and really notice. Sometimes a sunset will be so brilliant that it will wrest your attention no matter what, but a cotton candy puff of clouds, or a spinning length of contrail, I might not notice those. But if I’m not noticing the sky, I’m not noticing a lot of other things, either. Like if I’m hungry, or need a glass of water, or need to take a break. I’m probably not going slow enough to let my daughter explore at her own pace, and I’m probably forgetting to say “I love you,” and “I hear you.”

A day when I can tell you about the sky is a good day.

What question would you want someone to ask you to get below the habitual response? What question would uncover how you really feel at this moment?

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