Archive | Mindfulness

Five Simple Ways To Create Your Happiest Holiday Yet

The pressure to create a perfect holiday is intense, especially for moms. You want to create all the magic, but the pressure of consumer-focused advertising make you feel like nothing you do is enough, even when you are exhausted from all you are already doing. You want a more simple holiday, but you are overwhelmed.

Let me tell you a secret that I have learned: You don’t have to exhaust yourself.  You can have a simple holiday that doesn’t feel like you are missing anything. You can have more connection, more magic, more fun.

Have a happy simple holiday! Five simple ways to create your happiest holiday yet.


For many years, seeing the first signs of holiday decor (and doesn’t it seem like that happens earlier and earlier every year?) didn’t bring me any cheer.

It just made me grumpy. Twinkle lights gave me tummy jitters.

The truth is that holidays aren’t joyful for everyone. Lots of us are out there putting our best face on while sitting somewhere on the spectrum between uncomfortable and complete anguish.

I felt all the looming expectations – to be happy, to enjoy every minute of time with my family, to give and get the best gifts, to be invited to and enjoy all the parties…

I knew I couldn’t live up to those expectations.…

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20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself

Do you want to know yourself better? Understand where you are in your life and where you would like to be going? These 20 questions will give you an excellent start on that path. ::

The title of this post is the same title as an article that was in Oprah magazine last spring. These are not the same questions that were in the article.

The article was really good, but I was most struck by the very first question they listed: “Do I Examine My Life Enough?

I’m a life-examiner. I journal. I’ve been seeing a therapist on a regular basis for many years. I talk through my experiences and reactions to things with my close friends. I write about my life here and elsewhere because it helps me to understand it.

I can easily say “Yes,” in answer to the first question in that article, but I have talked to many women who might answer “Maybe?” or “I don’t know how to do that,” or even, “Wow, that’s scary,” in response.

If you are one of those women, this list is for you. Here are 20 questions to ask yourself if you want to know yourself better. 20 questions to help you step back to examine your life and where you are in it. Don’t like the answers? Don’t have answers to some of them? That’s where your work lies.

I’m going to write more about each of these questions in the coming months, because they are big and juicy topics that I’d like to explore further.…

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Creating Meaningful Family Traditions

What holiday traditions do you practice in your family? Are they purposeful or do you do them out of habit? Click through to learn how to build deeply meaningful holiday traditions for your family.

This post was originally published on Modern Alternative Mama last year. 

Are your family holidays full of meaningful traditions? Or do they feel weighed down by things you do by rote, or worse, expectations that leave you drained or fighting with your family members?

This season is supposed to be a special time, a time to connect with family and loved ones and to celebrate the winter holidays. Family traditions can make this time more fun, add a deeper meaning and can also help strengthen family bonds.

But if your traditions aren’t doing those things, consider changing them up. Let some go, adapt them, add some new ones. Here are some questions to consider when thinking about family traditions:

  • What is meaningful for your family?
  • What one or two values do you want to focus on at Christmas time?
  • What kinds of activities are reasonable to repeat every year (and not make mama crazy)?
  • What is your cultural background?
  • What traditions does your family look forward to most each year?

The answers to these questions will help guide you in determining what traditions to repeat or add and which to let go.…

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Focus Your Day With A Single Goal

If being productive today means doing only one thing, what's the thing you need to do? :: www.nurturedmama.netWhen life is feeling overwhelming, when I’m managing in crisis mode, or simply when I’m very tired, I have a secret weapon for success.

I plan to do only one thing. Focusing on a single thing feels manageable.

Sometimes that thing is very small. I plan to brush my teeth (start the day with a victory!). I plan to take a shower, which might not even happen until right before bed. I plan to make one phone call that I’m feeling nervous about.

If achieving my one thing cascades into energy to finish another one thing, or maybe two, that’s awesome. But if it just allows me to give myself permission to take it easy, that’s perfectly fine.

Sometimes my one thing is more of an attitude than an accomplishment. My goal might be to speak kindly, if I’ve been very cranky recently. It might be to forgive, if my love and I have been arguing. It might be to be patient, if my small girl has being trying.

I choose my one thing because it is the thing that I most need, even if the practice of it also feels most challenging.…

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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.…

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

A Better Way To Ask "How Are You Today?" ::

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.…

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Are You A Good Mother?

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Are you a good mother? What do you believe makes a good mother? What if we all let go of the mythical Good Mother? ::
Recently, I read a really excellent book of essays called The Good Mother Myth.

In the introduction, the author tackles the idea of what we, as a culture, consider a Good Mother to be. These are the standards we have built up, based on our cultural expectations and media influences, of how a mother should behave with her children and in the world. It is behind the divide over working moms and stay at home moms. Our expectations for single mothers, non-custodial mothers and mothers in same-sex relationships. How we perceive helicopter parenting, Tiger Moms and that mom on her iPhone at the park – our acceptance or outrage is based in these deep-rooted Good Mother standards.

But that collective vision of a Good Mother is mythical. She simply isn’t real – she can’t be. She’s based on picking and choosing from many different sources of influence, and not an actual real person with feelings and emotions and struggles.…

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The Practice Of Trust

On Monday afternoon last week I sat on the side of my hospital bed while my love unplugged my IV pump so he could help me limp to the bathroom of my tiny hospital room and try to pee. My ability to pee had been a little uncertain in the last 24 hours, and I’d already taken two unsuccessful trips to the bathroom that morning.

I was gazing at the small slice of blue sky visible between buildings but thinking about something else.

“I had such big plans for this month,” I said. “There were so many things I wanted to do.”

The Practice of Trust - when life feels uncertain, you need this. ::

But life happens, sometimes, doesn’t it?

The last two weeks of my life included two ER visits, pain so intense I couldn’t stand to be touched, unexpected surgery, two nights in the hospital, the first week of what may be five or more weeks of recovery, more narcotic pain medication than I ever expected to ingest, and none of the things I expected to do so far in May.

Today is the first day I’ve been able to sit sort of comfortably at my desk again and when I pulled out my blog planner to see where I had left off I just laughed.…

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How To Be More Patient Right Now

Need some patience - now? How to Be More Patient ::

Something I’ve been asked over and over again is “How are you so patient?”

And here’s my secret: I’m really not. I get frustrated all the time. I’ve just taught myself not to react so fast when my patience is being stretched. I’m not so patient. I’m just not so volatile.

But here’s the thing: Actively practicing having conscious reactions to my frustrations has, over time, given me more patience. Having more patience is so valuable when you live with small children! They say patience is a virtue, but I believe it is a skill we all have access to.

If you want to be more patient – or at least seem more patient – here are the five steps I use to manage my responses in moments of impatience and frustration.

Identify your triggers.

Knowing what makes you impatient is the first step. Think about the last time you felt your impatience or anger rising. What had just happened? What events, people, or phrases set you off?

It might help to just notice for a week, without trying to change anything.…

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Find Your Moments Of Grace

Find Your Moments Of Grace ::

photo credit: jared via photopin cc

We’ve had stuff going on behind the scenes here lately. Some tough stuff, some just busy stuff. The tough stuff has included a week (and counting)of a cold for Mama that just won’t let go.

Thankfully, and somewhat unfortunately, this cold passed right over Bean and she didn’t have any symptoms. So while I’ve been coughing myself awake for nights running, nursing a sinus headache, sounding  like a frog and downing cup after cup of tea, she’s been lively and full of energy.

This mama is exhausted trying to keep up with her.

When Mama’s exhausted, things start to unravel. When I’m not on top of picking up the house, it starts to feel like the clutter is taking over. When I’m not on top of our schedule, we are constantly running late and I’m juggling trying to reschedule and un-conflict the conflicts. There has been too much TV and and too much bargaining over TV and far too many times I hear myself saying “I don’t want to have to say this again…” and too many tears – both hers and mine.

On one particularly hard day last week, it felt like every single interaction was a fight.…

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