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Mothering

Body & Mind Little Souls

Teaching Gratitude

June 24, 2015

Teaching Gratitude

When you practice gratitude, you open yourself up to that bursting feeling of happiness, which may otherwise get stifled or just go unrecognized. Being more conscious of the things you are thankful for makes it easier to recognize how much happiness the little things give you throughout the day, and reminds us of human interconnectedness. Studies show that giving thanks makes for more happy, resilient, healthy, and less-stressed-out individuals, but being thankful takes practice, and training. We can give our children a beautiful, lifelong gift by teaching the importance of gratitude.

When I was little I used to consciously refuse to say “thank you”, and I wonder how great of an impact it had on my perception and happiness while growing up. Now that I hang out with tiny people often, I see that the ones who are happiest seem to have no problem letting you know that they appreciate you and the things that surround them. Although my daughter says “thank you” and gives gratitude kisses more than I could have hoped for, I still want to do everything I can to encourage thankfulness throughout her lifetime. After much brainstorming, I came up with this little list of ways to set a good example and encourage lifelong gratitude. Some are things we currently practice at home, and some are things we could really work on…

Thank the people around you.

Show your appreciation when people help you (even when doing required work or chores), when they surprise you, and even when they quite simply make you feel happier with their presence. This reinforces the fact that the role they play in your life is a miracle in itself.  Learn to take compliments graciously too—  as it completes that cycle of positive intention.  Demonstrating this respect to positive interactions by way of words is the easiest way to be a grateful role model.

Send snail mail.

Show your loved ones that you are thinking of them by sending relatives pictures, and postcards to friends.  This reminds our children that simple acts can easily brighten peoples’ days and helps encourage empathy when they remember how grateful they feel when getting snail mail themselves.

Give and share with friends and neighbors.

Donate old toys or clothes, share meals with friends, and give presents when it’s not a holiday.  Giving is the easiest way to build up the ego, and feeling confident and happy with ourselves only gives us more reasons to be grateful.  Sharing nourishes from the inside out, and helps remind us what we value in our old friends, encouraging a natural reciprocity of love and affection.  Taking the time to pick out a gift forces us to step in to the individual personalities of our loved ones, in order to find that special symbol of appreciation for their own unique qualities.

Say “Goodnight Moon.”

Say goodnight to your house, and all the simple things that went overlooked for the day but still served you well. Personifying inanimate objects helps to appreciate them as important energies that make our lives more comfortable.

Bless your food.

Even the littlest blessing helps solidify thankfulness for not going hungry.  In our house we all just hover both hands over our food and say “yummmm” in harmony.  Everyone looks at everyone else, smiling (it’s inevitable), happy to be sharing the meal together, and we’re sending “the yum” into the food.  Simple and beautiful.

Recount your favorite parts of the day.

Lay together and pick out the day’s highlights, which encourages more conscious gratitude in the days to follow. Also recognize the tough parts— acknowledge the challenges and be grateful for them, as they teach you so much, and allow you to grow. Appreciating the challenges alongside the highlights makes it difficult to be hard on yourself for your “shortcomings”, and reminds us that the rainbow comes after the storm. Fostering this thought process at an early age is an invaluable gift.

Style

What to Wear When You’re Feeding a Baby Mammal

June 19, 2015

nursingstyle

Although I’ve become a lot less modest now that I’m breast-feeding my second mammal child, I still don’t like revealing my ethnic ta-tas to all the white people. Constant double-takes. “Why are your areolas so dark?!

You may have different excuses for wanting to cover up. I’m going to share my stylin’ breast-feeding tips for all you mommas with any kind of excuse to not use a giant nursing bib while fattening up your babe.

Tank & T

The t-shirts don’t need to stay packed away until Baby is weened.  Tried & true, the simplest solution to hacking the high-teckline-tops-while-breast-feeding dilemma is to put a tank top under it.  Then you can pull up the top layer to free your boob, and cover baby’s sweaty head with it.

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Crop Tops

The trendy new crop tops are my saviors when it comes to still wearing high-waist skirts: unzipping to re-tuck your shirt into your skirt in public after nursing isn’t too classy. I always put a tank top under mine and then zip up a high-waist skirt over it.

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Scarfs & Rebozos

Scarfs are the most versatile solution in my experience, and much more aesthetically appealing than the giant nursing bib.  You can wear a low-neck top and pull your boob out, but then hide that sucker with a stylish, flowy scarf that always matches your outfit.  You can carry it around your neck when not in use to hide leaking-nipple/bra stains, wrap it around your shoulders on the airplane, use it as a baby blanket, wipe up milk that’s dribbling down your baby’s chin, and/or bunch it up for a pillow under baby’s head on the changing table.  Adrienne usually has her rebozo on her, which is a little more material to lug around, but a good option if you’d like something less sheer.

Boleros & Shrugs

Boleros don’t really cover as much as the above options, but sometimes tank tops and scarfs just wont jive with the more formal events. Boleros & shrugs can still cover up ugly nursing-bra straps and act as a curtain/screen to sort of block people’s view of your breast.  Plus, when they tie at your waist like the photo below, they help give the impression that you don’t have a bunch of back/tummy fat clenched into the waist of the skirt that fit you in junior high.

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boleros

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Body & Mind Productivity

Practicing Mindful Productivity

June 11, 2015

mindfulproductivity

The biggest challenge for most self-employed creatives and/or stay-at-home parents is staying motivated and on-task.  Being your own boss can be tough on productivity when you can say, “Fuck off, I want to spend all day lounging in the sun with my girlfriends, so I’m gonna.” But even if you’ve got the drive, if you’re not mentally on task then your work and the people around can suffer for it.

For me, I get caught up thinking about anything but the activity on-hand. I notice this the most when I’m spending time with my children. I’ll be making cookies with my daughter but thinking about work, or sitting the baby on the potty while checking my email on my phone. I’m all about incorporating my children into my at-home work life, but how are they benefitting from it if I can’t ever be present with them?

It’s not like I have too much shit on my plate, I’m just not managing my tasks efficiently. By attempting to multitask, I am actually hindering my productivity, let alone depriving my children, my work and my projects of quality attention. When I check my email while making breakfast I’m not actually saving a significant amount of time by responding to my clients right that second. Work can wait, and if it waits until I’m ready for it, then the quality will be higher as well.

Mindful Productivity

I decided to try an experiment, to see if I could be more present while remaining productive. I scheduled my days into intervals listing things that may sound ridiculous to have to write down, ie: wash up, make breakfast, clean up kitchen. I put my phone out of reach during large chunks of the day– specifically when I’m with my kids. Then I followed my schedule to the T, even though it is really just my every-day routine. Knowing that I have these lines drawn of when a task starts and ends allowed my mind to free up. Work had a specific time slot, and I didn’t have to think about it during any other time of the day.

The experiment’s results were pretty grand: my 5-year-old isn’t throwing tantrums (because she has all the attention she needs from me), I have more free time because I start & finish a project without getting interrupted, and I don’t go to bed feeling guilty for neglecting my family or my work. I didn’t have to alter any part of my day drastically, I’m now just practicing being mindful and appreciative of my pre-existing routine.

Is multitasking getting the best of you? Here are my tips to make a change:

Being present while remaining productive

Turn off your phone, turn off the computer

Set your phone to “do not disturb” during tasks where having a phone is not necessary. During “work hours”, it’s probably good to have your phone on. When you’re making breakfast and eating with your children, you probably don’t need your phone. Also, while working on the computer, turn off the WiFi so you’re less likely to browse the web.

Meditate

Meditating doesn’t require a fancy pillow or smudge sticks; meditation is just the practice of mindfulness that provides results with just a couple minutes per day. Meditation relieves stress, improves focus & self control, and it’s good for your body! If you don’t feel that you can fit two minutes of meditation into your day, try doing it while you wake up or fall asleep.

Schedule your day the night before

Planning your day the night before not only clears your mind for a restful night’s sleep, but imposing deadlines and time-slots on your day makes you more productive and enhances performance. Schedule in a “free” slot, where you can fit in tasks that maybe took longer than anticipated, or things that come up last-minute.  Maybe some of the tasks are specific and others are open-ended. For example, I wrote down “Kids”, which has a bunch of options under it that include swim lessons, grocery shopping, gardening, hanging with friends, etc. Make it work for you.

Stick to the schedule

This is probably the toughest part of any mindfulness practice: discipline. Divert your thoughts away from ideas that will not serve you in your current activity. If something comes up, recognize its presence, maybe write down the idea, and continue on according to schedule. Remember, you still have your “free” slot where you can fit in unanticipated tasks, but only choose to fill that slot if it’s necessary.

Motivation

Reward yourself each day with something fun and relaxing. That might be dancing to World Cafe with the kids, journalling, drawing, reading, or watching TV. Write down your your motivational reward on a piece of paper or in your daily planner.

Rejoice!

Watch as your life transforms and feel the weight lifted off your shoulders!