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    The Most Fierce

    And though she be but little, she is fierce!

    ~William Shakespeare


    I don't recall ever reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream, so maybe that's why I didn't recognize this quote right away when I first read it. Yet, once I had, I couldn't shake it - as it brought my thespian daughter so clearly to mind. She exists with wild abandon; energy, enthusiasm, verve - she lives each moment to its very fullest potential. So, it is with her vivacity in mind, I decided to make this one Shakespearian line into a print, as an homage to her; my little girl, the actor, and the most fierce of all. 



    Posted: Oct 31 2012, 11:16 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    Reaching for Love (Guest Post by Wendy Irene)

    The following was written by my friend and fellow blogger, Wendy Irene. I find myself so often inspired by her writing on peaceful parenting and living, and am so excited to share her gentle and loving spirit with you, my readers. Please visit her site… and I hope you’ll add her to your reading list, too! Peace.

    When you’ve reached the most loving part of yourself, you know. Your actions feel good. They may even make you smile. You are floating in harmony with your soul’s desires. Deep down underneath all the layers we are incredibly loving, kind human beings. When that true authentic part of me is shining through I feel joy. Joy in my heart. Joy in my being. Beauty surrounds me, and the world is soft and glowing.

    At all times it is possible for us to reach for the most loving part of ourselves, even in difficult situations. Possible doesn’t mean it’s always easy though. Currently in my life, I am practicing reaching for the love within me in times of frustration, anger, or impatience. Circumstances happen that trigger parts of our personality that should not be in control. The more I consciously practice not reacting negatively, the easier it becomes.

    Reacting negatively often brings me pain or the feeling of guilt. The energy I put out is being returned to me. It is easy to react, especially when I feel upset, but the pain I cause is never worth it.

    My goal is to go within to search for my place of peace, the eternal spring of love, and stay there until I am ready to act with love, instead of reacting in a way that is harmful to my spirit. I believe that everything returns to us, and I want to be showered with love, therefore that is what I must always choose to give.

    To giving love, especially when it takes every ounce of strength we have. Who we really are... is love.


    Wendy Irene is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief at GiveLoveCreateHappiness.com. Mother of two beautiful souls, she strives to live a life of wellness, to create happiness at every turn, and most of all, give love. Follow her on twitter @Wendy_Irene to help spread love, support, and happiness.

    Posted: Apr 30 2012, 00:15 by kelly | Comments (2) RSS comment feed |
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    Life, death, and more

    "What happens when we die?"


    Maybe it is asked while we were looking at old photographs, or had a conversation with an elderly person, or saw a dead bug on the sidewalk. My children are full of those questions which are the essence of life. They ask these questions, the questions we all ask, and I – without intimate knowledge of previous or future lives (at least that which I can remember) – answer to the best of my ability: I’m not sure.


    Yet, my job as a parent is to know things, to educate my children, to share my understanding and experiences of the world, and to guide them on their path of understanding. Even if --- I’m not actually sure about what I know. Uncertain as I may be, I feel the need to delve a bit deeper. (Because, around here, unless everyone is REALLY tired, “I’m not sure” as an answer, just doesn’t cut it.).


    So from the depths of my 35 years of quasi-understanding come some frazzled bits of semi-certainties, which start my conversation: When we die, our bodies stop working. (Why?) They stop working because they are very old, and when things get very old, they start breaking down, and eventually don’t work any longer (I usually reference some bit of concrete “evidence” of the toll of age – like a rusty bike wheel that doesn’t spin well or won’t hold air any longer).



    Okay, so far so good. And to this, I think most people, regardless of belief system, can agree – people, and animals, and plants, die when they are old. So, I could leave well enough alone, and let the concrete “certainties” suffice.


    But here’s where it gets tricky. Because… death. See, I’m just not so sure that death IS so concrete. Our body yes; bodies die. Yet, to me, there’s more than just a body in life.  And as such, as we are here now, in life, in the living, I feel there’s more of an explanation needed of what happens when we die that my children should hear from me.  Because I believe there’s some explanation of life; implicit in a full definition of death. If you can’t explain life how can you explain death?


    I believe there’s something MORE to life than just humans mindlessly (or even mindfully) wandering the earth, aging out of their bodies, and keeling over once spent. I think (therefore I am) that there is more.


    So I endeavor to explain this --- more. I tell my children that we are not just body, but bodies filled with energy – a life force. This energy is something that ties us all together as humans, animals, creatures on this planet. This energy is something we have some control over which allows us to affect others by being positive, negative, joyful, or sorrowful. This energy is why when you are feeling sad or hurt; sometimes just a hug from a friend is all you need to reconnect; and accordingly why it’s important, when you see someone feeling down, that you offer them YOUR energy through a kind word, a “gentle touch” as we like to say, or just being there to listen. And this energy is why a walk in nature is all it takes to re-charge when we’re feeling depleted – the life force of the mighty trees, the connection of your feet to the immensity of the earth, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the air in your lungs – this is why it is so important to care for the earth – because she cares for us. This energy and strength within us is so important to our own everyday lives and the lives around us – animal and plant alike – and it’s the something MORE that transcends our existence in this body.



    So, what happens when you die? Maybe the energy in your body, the amazingness of YOU, goes back into the earth, the air, the trees, and gives more life to the people around you. Maybe it becomes another life. Maybe, just as in life, you continue to enhance other lives after death (like the way bugs and leaves decompose and fertilize the earth for the next generation of bugs and plants).


    Or. Maybe there’s nothing after death – I’m sure that too is entirely possible. But I’m not quite ready to believe the necessity or benefit in accepting that possibility. So, at this point, I don’t share that with my children.  Their positivity is so inspiring, I see no call to dampen it with cold uncertainties. None of us are certain of why we are really here, nor what happens after death; so why not believe that life can be wondrous – the now and the hereafter? The belief that there is reason to be here – that I am connected to everything around me helps give me purpose. The promise of continuing life beyond the limits of our frail bodies is motivation to me to continue living, sharing, and giving the energy that I have, in hopes that it will continue to foster those who live beyond my body. Maybe it’s not a concrete energy or force – but maybe if my children simply internalize my belief in the power we have to affect everyone and everything around us – and pass that on to their children – that is enough hope for life after death. I can’t be sure. But simply answering, “I’m not sure” leaves too much to be desired. So I give them more. 

    Posted: Mar 29 2011, 23:44 by kelly | Comments (13) RSS comment feed |
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    Sunday Spark: Spring is Nearly Here!

    …And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the Daffodils.

    ~William Wordsworth (from the poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud)

    (Our daffodils are starting to come up!)

     The sun was out today - fabulously bright and filling us with energy (and vitamin D)!  Though it’s only February, we’ve been blessed with beautiful weather in the 40’s & 50’s – and, if you believe the weather report, it is expected to continue over the next week!

    (Planting pansies - oh, the glorious cooperation!)

    Not being one to let a moment pass, we took advantage of the beauty of the day to get outside and enjoy the pre-Spring loveliness. The air was cool and crisp, scented with the rich earthiness of melting snow, and leant itself perfectly to spending our afternoon outside planting, digging, and climbing trees.

    (My daughter found her first earthworm of the season)

    We cleared out old leaves and sticks, potted some pansies, sprinkled organic fertilizer over our perennial beds and put down mulch. How I love getting back into the garden! Then, while I was watering, the children then dug holes in the mulch (Yay! Mud!) and climbed our little tree (thank you Mr. Flowering Dogwood for being so tolerant of little scrambling hands and feet). 

    (My son, enjoying his first tree-climb)

    I basked in the warmth of the sun, soaking up the energy of the earth and the thoroughly enjoying the squeals of pleasure of my children – so happy to be outside. 

    (Is there anything better than digging in the dirt?)

    It was a truly wonderful day. Here’s to a joyful week!   

    Posted: Feb 27 2011, 23:32 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    Parenting Through the Perfect Storm

    It’s around 4 o’clock on a rainy day. The kids are bored. You are tired. Maybe you have a work deadline, maybe you’re trying to finish a personal project, or just wanting to organize an area of the house before the clutter gets out of control. Or maybe you just want a little break from the hubbub - but there is no break for a couple more hours (and before then, you have to get dinner made, and keep two rambunctious kids happy). You set said children up on an activity, and decide to hop on your computer (or crack open your favorite novel or get started on that organizing project), for what you hope is a few minutes of “adult” time. But then, the bickering starts. This, you can ignore, until the voices get closer, and start including you: “Mom, she said THIS” and “But MOMMMMM, he took THIS”. And then, something crashes in the kitchen. “Moooooommmmmm!!!!!” You feel your blood pressure rising, and you start out calm, but as you come around the corner of the kitchen to see the bowl you’d prepared earlier in the day so dinner prep would go smoothly, smashed and broken all over the kitchen floor, and before you know it, your voice comes out just a bit louder & harsher than you wanted, and instead of helping them start the cleaning effort, you opt for the escalating loud voice and flailing arms: “What’s going ON in HERE? I just wanted to read for FIVE. MINUTES. Can’t you kids GET ALONG? YOU’RE ALWAYS FIGHTING!!!!” Which of course, isn't true, isn't helpful, and results in nothing being accomplished – other than the kids looking at you wide-eyed and warily like they’re not sure what’s going to happen next, and you feeling badly for yelling and acting like a child yourself.  The mess is still on the floor, the kids’ argument wasn’t resolved, and everyone is still in a state of highly charged emotion.


    Sound familiar?  I think we’ve all been at a point where we have had enough. And even though we know better, the perfect storm of events happens right under our own noses, and our self control is sucked away, leaving us with the bare bones of discipline techniques that our parents bestowed on us. 


    I think responses like this, when they aren’t habitual, are just visceral reactions; and often not even controllable in the moment. Maybe we’re tired or hungry or our patience has been all used up or we’re touched out. But these moments – they don’t define us; or our parenting. We feel awful about them; and I always try to remember that the feeling badly afterwards is a good emotional response. It’s a reminder to do better, try harder, and come up with tools that work more effectively, so our immediate reaction is more in line with what our planned out reaction to aggravation is like (the responses that we’re proud of and feel help us and our children learn how to deal with anger and aggravation in a positive and productive way – we’ve all had those moments too).

    (Artist: Mindaugas Danys  Source: Flickr) 


    So what can you do when the perfect storm hits? Well, there’s the lead-up to the storm… and there’s the aftermath. Let’s start with the aftermath:


    The first thing I do is apologize. But I don’t just say sorry – I try to explain to my kids why I was feeling how I was feeling, acknowledge their feelings, and I use the opportunity to model what I’d like to hear/see from them. I also use gentle touch – like a hug or a pat on the shoulder, or even just getting down on their level so we see eye to eye.


    I’m sorry that I yelled at you in the kitchen; I bet that was scary for you. I was feeling so aggravated at having to get up from my seat and because I was distracted by my aggrivation, I wasn’t paying attention to using my words carefully.


    Next thing I do is talk about how I could have changed the outcome, or what I could do, or we could do together to fix the situation.


    Next time, I will try to be more patient in my response.  Yelling doesn’t help the situation. What do you think I could have done to help the situation? Is there anything you could have done differently to help the people around you feel more comfortable? I know you didn’t mean to break the bowl; let’s clean it up together.


    I have found that children are incredibly forgiving and peace-loving. They strive for harmony and the thought of holding a grudge doesn’t come naturally. Often times I’ll start to talk about why I felt badly or acted in a way I wasn’t thrilled with and they’ve already moved on. In which case, the best thing to do is…


    Forgive myself.  When I realize that I may have acted in a way that’s less than ideal, but have apologized and thought about ways to do it differently next time, I also realize that the simple act of awareness is a big step towards making a change. I forgive myself the lapse of peaceful parenting prowess, realize my children have forgiven me, and I forgive myself. And then…


    I move on to what I can do to better handle future perfect storms. I get a game plan in place. What tools do I have and what tools do I need to obtain and develop in order to handle a kid storm in a way that is calm, and guiding, not a way that leaves me wishing I’d done things differently? My game plan is a bit like this:


    Firstly, and probably most importantly, I stay aware of my inner balance.  If I’m feeling out of balance – if I start to realize that the kids noise level is sounding consistently to loud to me, when I know it’s really not too loud, or if I’m finding myself annoyed by things that shouldn’t be that annoying, I take stock of what’s going on in my body and mind at the moment, and fix whatever I can fix.  If I’m hungry or thirsty, I get a snack or drink. If I’m tired, I set up a quiet activity and I lie down with them while they play and rest for a few minutes or alternatively, I choose an activity that requires some action to get my blood flowing – running up and down the stairs a few times, or doing yoga with the kids or getting outside and walking around (I know it’s hard in the winter, but there's something about fresh air and nature that rejuvinates, energizes, and balances).  If I’m overwhelmed, I either ask for help – if it’s available – or I figure out what can be cut from my current “to do’s” and I decide not to feel bad about cutting it. If it just happens that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and can’t come up with a good reason for my mood, I’ll acknowledge that – maybe I’ll mention it to my kids, “Guys, I’m in kind of a crummy mood, so let’s all try to be extra kind to each other today”, then, I’ll have a piece of chocolate, a cup of coffee, and forgive myself for not having an ideal day, and talk myself into grinning and bearing it.  Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes of alone time (and “alone time” really can be your computer and a cup of coffee while your little ones play quietly at your feet – and you’re browsing through blogs or looking at magazines that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with parenting) to regain my peaceful center. 

    (Artist: Aussiegall  Source: Flickr)

    Secondly, I make sure I have a plan of action in place for what to do when my center has been lost, and I feel the storm coming on. Things like:


    - Realizing I don’t have to intervene in every altercation.  In fact, unless they are hurting each other, it’s best to let the kids work out small disagreements themselves.  When they realize they have the tools to resolve issues, they will do so more and more often without calling MOM!!! every time something doesn’t go exactly as planned. That’s a lot of aggravation, avoided.


    - Stepping away from the heat of moment instead of lunging straight for it.  Sometimes, if I know I’m feeling irritable, and not likely to have the most measured response, instead of heading for my kids’ argument, I will head for another room. I have said many a time to my children: “I’m taking a time out”. Giving myself space, a few moments to breathe and think, help me clarify the situation and come up with a more level-headed response.


    - Deciding to speak slowly and quietly when I feel like yelling. If I encounter the urge to yell, I use it as a signal to speak softly and choose words carefully. Or instead of saying something grumpy, saying something goofy. Realizing in the midst of a kid storm, sometimes the opposite reaction is the best – like laughing instead of arguing.


    - Acknowledging that I can’t fix every problem, take on every issue, or respond to every outburst. My kids’ reactions and moods belong to them, and I don’t have to respond in kind. If my children yell at me, I don’t need to yell back. If my children are being grumpy, sometime it’s okay to just let them be grumpy; it’s not my fault they are grumpy, and I don’t have to take it personally. Modeling cool and calm, owning my own feelings & letting them own theirs is always good.


    - Remembering that not every interaction needs to be the perfect learning and teaching moment. Sometimes the scissors just need to be taken away when they are being brandished at a sibling as a weapon; I don’t need to wait for them to be passed while explaining and talking over alternatives to the current scissor-wielding behavior.

    And sometimes the television needs to be turned on and the children sat down in front of it so that I can step away and regain my cool. I love what Annie at PhdinParenting said about the TV: “I’m not a fan of using television as a babysitter. But I am a big fan of using television to avoid mistreating my children and damaging our relationship.” (from her post Ready to Snap) What I mean is, sometimes I find myself so wrapped up in how I can best parent through a moment, and get so guilty over what message am I sending and what lesson am I teaching and why can’t I figure this out or get them to figure this out, when the children aren’t responding to my explanations and descriptions, that I end up getting more riled up than if I’d just responded quickly and done what I needed to do in that moment, and worried about fixing the message later (if even necessary).  Not every single moment of parenting needs to be educational.


    And finally, when all is said and done, I realize that every day I’m doing the best I can. Some days are awesome, some days are less so, but most of the time, I’m a good mom, I’m kind to my children, I apologize when I’m not, and I forgive myself and try to do better in the future – for them and for me. That’s the best anyone can do.

    Posted: Jan 17 2011, 17:46 by kelly | Comments (34) RSS comment feed |
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