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    6 Ways to Change Today

    Be better today than you were yesterday.

    If not for yourself, then for your children – who are always watching. There’s never a better time to start over than this moment. You can’t edit what you’ve done, can’t control what will be, but you CAN affect change RIGHT NOW. How?


    Keep trying.
    If you fail at something, don’t give up, do it again, with more gusto the second (or third, or fourth…)! The best solutions usually aren’t the first ones you come up with.

    Be kind.
    Even when it’s challenging; a kind word is NEVER wasted.

    Stop & think.
    There’s always more to what you see on the surface. Take a moment to contemplate before you speak or act.

    We’re all fallible. Sometimes an apology breaks through a disagreement like nothing else. You can iron out the details after everyone feels better.

    Don’t take it personally.
    You are only responsible for how YOU feel and act and behave. So when your child (or anyone) acts out, acknowledge their hurt, offer support, but don't make it about you.

    Hug, kiss, touch, connect, and look at your loved ones and really listen when they speak. Simple actions - things that come naturally - are key to letting them know you truly LOVE THEM.

    [source: flikr community commons ~ monkey mash button]

    We just don't know how long we're here. It's never too late to make a positive change in yourself, and in your relationships. How are YOU going to change today?

    Posted: Sep 18 2012, 19:23 by kelly | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |
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    Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

    Eleven years ago, fear ruled the day in our country, and its echoes were felt around the world.

    Those echoes - manifest as war, violence, discrimination, hatred - continue to this day.

    And because the vividness of my memory of that day doesn't seem to fade with time, I carry a dream for my children: that one day they and their children will know only peace in this world.

    It may be a dream in the present, but it can become a reality in the future.

    It is with this reality in mind that I teach my children the value of peace, love, acceptance, tolerance, empathy.

    So that it is normal for them. So they know nothing else. And so that they will teach their children.

    War doesn't have to be the way of the world.

    What we believe… becomes what is and what will be.


    Last night I had the strangest dream

    I'd ever dreamed before

    I dreamed the world had all agreed

    To put an end to war

    I dreamed I saw a mighty room

    And the room was filled with men

    And the paper they were signing said

    They'd never fight again

    And when the paper was all signed

    And a million copies made

    They all joined hands and bowed their heads

    And grateful prayers were prayed

    And the people in the streets below

    Were dancing 'round and 'round

    And guns and swords and uniforms

    Were scattered on the ground

    Last night I had the strangest dream

    I'd ever dreamed before

    I dreamed the world had all agreed

    To put an end to war.

    {Words & Music by Ed McCurdy as performed by John Denver, 41 years ago, at a peace march in Washington DC}

    EDITED TO ADD: As I was just finishing up writing this post, my daughter came over to my shoulder. She asked what I was writing about, and we talked a bit about the events of 9-11. I let her know that they might talk about what happened at school, and she nodded - yes, they already had. At that point, I turned on the song above... and to my surprise, she started singing along. "You know this song already," I asked? "Yes," she said, "We learned it at school". My dream of peace for my children, it seems, isn't my dream alone. I ask you all to BELIEVE that we can change our course in this world, one song at a time, one child at a time, one action, one word. We CAN have peace.

    Life Without Status Updates

    I saw this the other day on (ahem) Facebook, and it got me thinking:


    {Calvin & Hobbes are awesome}

    We were blessed to have a lot of time to be together as a family this summer, away from hectic schedules and routines and crowds. We were also blessed - though it may have been one of those proverbial blessings in disguise - to be in places where fast internet (or internet, at all) isn't a priority. Having a difficult time using your phone makes you use it less. Using it less makes you look up more, look around, reach out, find ways to fill the moments you'd been so used to filling with checking emails, status updates, photos, games, news, videos, posts. Sometimes you fill the moments with simply being. Listening. Observing. Living. Loving. Noticing things that have gone unnoticed at digital life speed. Looking up at the stars.


    {heaven is here} 

    Seeing nature and parts of our earth I'd never seen before - without the constant companion of palm-sized information diarrhea - was inspiring. Releasing. And humbling. Because… HOW? How have I gone so many years without knowing what the stars really look like - as they do on the Kansas plains. They look there, nothing like my lightpollutedbackyardpostagestamp view of the New Jersey sky. Watching my children explore the earth, dig in the sand, splash in the water, move rocks, climb trees, find wildlife – without the interruption of status updates – was simply wondrous.  It is wonderous, as well, to do these things yourself. Experiences in real life, real time.


    {hiking through the foothills}

    To be honest, it wasn’t easy at first. Being away from technology… initially, it's like a tugging, pulling, calling to me that doesn't subside. HOW can I be without INFORMATION? Without conversation - the typewritten kind, anyway? Without UPDATES? Weather? Pictures? News? Videos? DISTRACTIONS? But the pulling gets weaker. After a few days, I forgot to carry my phone with me a couple of times. The information and news that seemed so necessary last week, became more unnecessary, with each passing day. The immediate loses its charm. I started to forget. I began to relearn patience and observation, being present, and how to embrace boredom.

    {being present}

    I rediscovered the pleasure of reading a book: it doesn't update, doesn't change, refresh, or move forward. It stays right where I left it on the precise page I dog-eared yesterday when my children needed me. It was still there, unchanged, when I had time or desire to come back to it. Uncluttered with ads. Devoid of noise. Black text on white page. Tangible. Unmoving. There's something grounding in that. Grounding like the silence of the sunrise. Or the thinness of the air at twelve-thousand feet.


    {Maine at 5:58am}


    {Colorado at 12,310 feet}

    Being away from the stream of constant interruption gave me opportunity to really THINK about the interruption we experience every day in our digitized lives. We’re always being physically interrupted – a status check here, an email there, a text message here, a photo there. And, as such, we’re in a state of continual mental intrusion that these updates often cause – often without our full consent.  Think about this:  When is the last time you were able to log into to your favorite social media website, read something, post a reply, and walk away without giving it another thought; undeterred by how your comment might be taken – by people you may not really even know. It happens even if you don’t stop to participate in the conversation – the comments of others swirl around in your mind or you analyze the content of the story or you mull over the ensuing conversation. All about people you aren’t actually interacting with, over things that often don’t directly impact your life, all the while, an intrusion on your state of mind, your peacefulness, your presence with the people you ARE actually interacting with, and the nature within which you actually LIVE. This happens, I’ve found, without even being aware that it’s happening. You just start feeling a little off, a little down, a little distracted – not sure why. Your responses to your spouse or children or friends might be a bit short, irritated, less patient. How CAN you be patient with the weight of the internet world on your shoulders along with all your physical time demands. Then you realize… oh. It’s that blog/message board conversation/video I read/participated in/watched that has me concerned. And maybe then you can let it go. For a while. Be more present. At least until the next log in.


    {relaxing, without mental distraction}

    I didn’t fully recognize this happened to me, too until… the internet, and the distraction that comes with it, wasn’t there anymore. And I was left with a lot of… empty space and time in my mind. When you have space to think, without mindlessness to fill it in, you actually… start to think. And to FEEL. And to realize - perhaps most importantly - that the people I really most wanted to communicate with were right there - within touching distance of me. The things I wanted to experience were right beneath my feet. Neither of which required a computer or a phone at all.


    And yes, I recognize the irony of my writing this - at my computer. With the intention of posting it on the internet. And then using social media to disseminate it.But that, of course, is because I recognize the benefits of the digital age in which we live. I understand and appreciate the value of the internet for a variety of purposes – Information: looking up the names of the constellations, the words to a poem, a vegan recipe, how to spell something correctly, the list of awesome, immediate access is endless. Support & Community: connecting with people who have similar areas of interest and experience - particularly important when your interests may lie outside of the norm. I can't enumerate how many times I've found great support for breastfeeding, babywearing, gentle parenting online… heck, it's one of the main reasons for my writing this blog: to share my experiences with other parents who may be looking for suggestions and support on how to parent from their heart, who may not have those resources and support in their physical lives. But while I understand all of the wonders of the internet, when weighed against the wonders of just BEING with your loved ones, I have to tip the scales in the direction of real touch and interaction: more time on the floor with my kids than in front of the computer; more nature exploration than website exploration.  This realization may make me deficient in social media, but a nature and family connection deficiency is far more grave and long-lasting.

    {studying a sunflower}

    So my challenge, and one I present to you, is to aim towards taking a few more moments out of each day to look at the stars, watch the sunrise, look in your kids' eyes, and leave your computer off and your phone behind. On purpose. Live life without status updates. It will be worthwhile, I promise.

    Posted: Sep 09 2012, 18:44 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Sunday Spark: Words to Live By

    Taken from my 7-year-old's list of house rules, this is number three:


    Have a positive attitude and be HAPPY!


    Right on, kiddo. Words to live by.

    Posted: Sep 03 2012, 14:59 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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