Saturday, July 30, 2011

Cara S.

Cara S. & Family

      1.  How many children do you have?

Two girls.  5 and 3 1/2   One boy due Oct. 3, 2011

2.  Would you like to have more children?  How many or why not? 

When I think about our family, I always picture 4 kids. However, I don't think I want to be pregnant again. I am almost 30 and notice this time in much harder than with my first. I am more tired and just generally feel 'older'. So, maybe we will adopt/foster in the future. I believe God will reveal those things to my husband and I when the time is right.

3.  What do you wish you would have known before becoming a mom?

How personally I would take my children's bad behavior. I have to constantly remind myself it is not a personal attack against me, but rather the sin in their lives. It's my job to train their hearts and teach them what God's standard is for behavior. Their holiness is far more important than their happiness.

4.  What are the tasks that you wish someone else would regularly do for you?

I really enjoy cleaning and organizing, but I don't like to iron. I do it as little as possible. My husband wears a shirt and tie every day to work, but he irons his own clothes.

5.  How did you take care of your health and wellness during pregnancy?

I am a runner, but never run when pregnant. I give my body a break and don't want to worry about my heartrate going too high. One way I take care of myself is by walking most days of the week. I walk between 3-4 miles at a semi-vigorous pace (basically, I sweat!) I also don't eat red meat and up my intake of greens and protein. I drink only water while I am pregnant and lots of it! I also take warm baths to relax myself and go to bed early.

6.  Did you have the labor and delivery experience that you desired?  If not, what would have improved your experience?

Yes, I actually had very good labor experiences-I don't think I would have changed anything.

7.  How have you taken care of your health and wellness since becoming a mother?

I exercise daily (well, most days:) and run half-marathons. I feel such a sense of accomplishment for myself that doesn't have anything to do with my husband or kids....when I am running, it's just me. My friendships run very deep and are very important to me. I have a few very close friends and make time for coffee dates with them. I also put my relationship with Todd, my husband, first. Great marriages make great parents. We date and have regular 'couch time', so our children can see us tangibly loving each other and putting our relationship first.

8.  Are you involved in any mommy groups (in-person or online)?

When I first had kids, I attended MOPS (mothers of preschoolers). I really loved it. As my girls got older, I stopped going because we were doing other activities and I felt like I didn't need that group anymore. This past January, I started going to a group called "Moms Matter" at a local church. It's geared more towards moms with kids who are through elementary, not just preschoolers. I found this group pleasant and encouraging. I haven't decided yet if I will continue when our baby is born.

9.  What do you do to relax?

Go to the library or bookstore and look at books. And read! I love to read and also have two books going: a fiction and non-fiction.

10.  What advice do you have for new and expecting moms?

Train your baby to sleep and get him/her on a sleep schedule. It's a gift that will last your baby a lifetime and a gift you give your family as well.

11.  What is the best thing about being a mom?

Hearing your kids say 'i love you' out of nowhere.

12.  What is the most challenging part about being a mom?

Making hard choices in discipline and feeling like you give up a sense of freedom (or your personal desires) to be a mom.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Eating Without Heating

Here's some information about how to eat without the heat, also known as the Raw Food Diet.







The Raw Food Diet is based on the idea that food is most healthful for the body when it's uncooked.  Cooking foods, especially vegetables, can destroy the enzymes present and diminish the food's nutritional value.

Several menu options have been provided in the August 2011 issue of Whole Living Magazine.

Here are a few great resources on how to Eat Without the Heat to help get you started:

www.aniphyo.com/

www.alissacohen.com/
   
www.beautifulonraw.com/

Breathe Deep

Before you read any further, pause and notice your breath. Is it full and energizing, or shallow and quick? Do you breathe with your belly or just your ribcage? Now, consciously deepen your breath, draw it in slowly, visualize it filling your torso, and release it with the same thoughtfulness, noting any sensations. Now, don't you feel better?

"Physiologically, deep breathing increases lung capacity, strengthens the respiratory and circulatory systems, boosts the immune system by moving lymph throughout the body, and calms the agitated mind" says Stephanie Keach, RYT and author of The Yoga Handbook: An Inspirational Handbook for Teaching and Home Practice. Indeed, respiration holds a unique place in our mind/body. It may be the only bodily function that is both automatic and within our control. That is, we can consciously control and manipulate our breath, but when our attention wanes, the autonomic process kicks in and the body breathes itself. Indeed, because the rate of respiration affects and is affected by our heart rate and nervous system, deep breathing can be used to increase physical endurance, work through difficult emotions, calm an agitated nervous system or simply promote greater relaxation.

Unfortunately, most of us wait until we're in crisis to take a deep breath. Children breathe freely in and out of their little round bellies. As adults, we've long lost the ability to naturally breathe this way. Because of restrictive clothing, anxiety, and self- or body-consciousness, many of us breathe shallowly, just into the uppermost half or even third of our lungs. In addition, we often unconsciously hold our breath, thereby starving our tissues of energizing oxygen. As a result, we feel just a little more anxious all the time and rob our cells of the mini-detox that takes place with every full breath.

Thankfully, our habitual breathing patterns can be improved. Yogi Donna Farhi writes in The Breathing Book: Good Health and Vitality through Essential Breath Work, "Perhaps the most universal experience of my own breath work students is their new-found ability to handle tough situations with an ease that previously seemed illusive . . . As their minds become clearer and their emotions become more balanced through calm and regular breathing, they are creating a life that is conducive to health, well-being, and a sense of inner peace" For novices to breath work, Keach suggests an easy breathing exercise that can be integrated throughout the day: "Just allow your breath to be soft, easy, long and natural, and completely relaxed. This directly triggers the, relaxation response' of the parasympathetic nervous system" Try this exercise for fifteen minutes. If you don't have an extra fifteen minutes a day to devote to conscious breathing, try using routine activities like standing in line, washing your hands or waiting at a stoplight to act as cues to deepen your breath. A host of benefits await you!


This post was taken from HealingLifestyles.com and was written by Tanya Triber.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Zucchini "Pasta" with Garlic and Tomato

Use a very sharp knife or a mandoline to cut the zucchini into long, thin, noodlelike strips.














Serves 2

  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons torn fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Sea salt
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise, slices cut into 1/4-inch-long strips

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, basil, and oil. Season with salt. Let stand 20 minutes. Toss with zucchini and garnish with basil.


Read more at Wholeliving.com: Zucchini "Pasta" 

This recipe was taken from Whole Living Magazine.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Clear Vision

There are times in our life when we need to stop and assess the compass in our life.  We need to ensure that we are on the right path and have clear direction for the future.  There are other times, of course, when we just need to wake up and pray that we make it through the day.

Whichever scenario you faced today, there is a way to build momentum and remain focused on what is important in your life and the destinations that await you.  Create a Vision Board.

This project is relatively simple.  You will need a blank board and a glue stick to get started.  Brainstorm about what you desire to include on your board.  Will it be designed to get you up and moving in the morning?  Or will it include distant goals that you want to stay focused on?  Maybe it ill be both short and long term goals.


Brainstorm about what you desire to include on your board.  Will it be designed to get you up and moving in the morning?  Or will it include distant goals that you want to stay focused on?  Maybe it ill be both short and long term goals.  These details will help you decide on the size of your board.  

Now, get started.  Cut out images that represent significant items in your life that you desire to include in your vision board.  You can use images from magazines, newspapers, or any item that depicts a part of your vision.


After you've selected the images you'd like to include, start gluing them to your board.  You'll be surprised at how fast it comes together and how clear your vision becomes.  Add as few or as many images as you'd like. Remember, you can always add more later.  Just listen to your spirit and design from your heart.

Here's my latest Vision Board.  It represents who I am and where I am journeying to.  



I hope you're inspired to begin your personal Vision Board today.  
If you can see it and believe it, you can achieve it!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cara S.

Cara S. & Family

1.     How far along are you in your pregnancy?

28 weeks

2.  Do you have any other children?  How many?  If yes, how does this pregnancy differ from the others?  If no, do you plan to have more children?

Yes, I have two girls.. 5 and 3 1/2. This pregnancy is uneventful, much like my other two. However, I was very sick for the first 18 weeks with this pregnancy vs. 13 weeks with my other two. Also, we are having a boy this time! So, just knowing this is very different.

3.  How did you prepare for this pregnancy?

My husband and I were ready and trying to have another baby. One big way I prepared for this pregnancy was by starting January 2011 off with a 'fast'. For three weeks, I fasted from sweets/simple sugar and lunch. I lost a few pounds and generally felt better. Plus, I cleared my mind from needing sugar. I think this set me up for a healthy beginning to this pregnancy.

4.  Are you cared for by a physician or midwife?  Why? 

I see a OBGYN. He is a wondeful doctor and delievered my first two girls. I have been going to him for 7+ years. I trust him completely.  I prefer to see a medical doctor for something as significant as a pregnancy. While pregnancy is a perfectly natural part of life, there are many things which can go wrong and I feel safer/more secure using a person trained to deal with medical problems. Thus, I choose not to see a midwife.

5.  Do you plan to have a hospital or homebirth?  Why? 

Hospital. My doctor only delievers at the hospital and if my baby should need immediate critical care, I prefer to be at a place where there is a level 3 NICU.

6.  Do you desire to have a natural labor and delivery or do you plan to receive medication?

Medication, absolutely. With my first daughter, I tried to go med free. I used pictures and breathing techniques, but choose to receive IV meds and then later, an epidural. I labored over 12 hours with her and am sure my body would have needed a C-Section had I not had an epidural. I think it allowed me the strength to have a vaginal delivery. This time around, I am just getting an epidural right away...I think they are wonderful!

7.  Do you have a birth plan? 

Epidural ASAP :)

8.  How have you taken care of your health and wellness since becoming pregnant?

I am a runner, but never run when pregnant. I give my body a break and don't want to worry about my heartrate going too high. One way I take care of myself is by walking most days of the week. I walk between 3-4 miles at a semi-vigorous pace (basically, I sweat!) I also don't eat red meat and up my intake of greens and protein. I drink only water while I am pregnant and lots of it! I also take warm baths to relax myself and go to bed early.

9.   Have you had any complications with this pregnancy? 

No

10.  What do you do to relax and relieve stress or discomfort? 

See #8- baths, massages (in the 3rd trimester), reading and going to bed early.

11.  What do you enjoy most about being pregnant?

Feeling the baby move and watching my body change as the baby grows.

12.  What is your least favorable thing about being pregnant?

Weight gain! With all three pregnancies, I gain close to 40 pounds. (While I am not at the end of this pregnancy, my weight is exactly where it was at 28 weeks with this baby as with my other two). So, I am on track to gain that same weight too.  I know it's very healthy and needed, but it's hard for me to go to the doctor and gain 8-10 in a month. It doesn't do much for my self-esteem.

13.   Are you involved in any pregnancy groups (in-person or online)? 

No

14.  What advice would you share with other women who are pregnant or desire to be?

Become as healthy as you can before becoming pregnant. If you have extra weight, lose it. If you have relationships that need mending, mend them. If you need to change your eating habits, do so. If you smoke/drink, stop! You will feel better during your pregnancy and give your baby the best chance of good growth and healthy outcomes.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Find Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” - Matthew 11:28



In our busy world, we must be intentional about what we do with our life and our time.  Today, and for the remainder of this week, REST!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Inside-Out Beauty

Rubbing a lemon peel all over your body may help exfoliate your skin, but you won’t get a shot of vitamin C unless you squeeze the juice in your mouth. And yet, for most of the spa world, wellness is an outside job. We rub, scrub, and wrap ourselves in the most nutritive substances imaginable, from fruits and veggies to antioxidant-rich herbs, with the idea that their attributes will improve our well-being. But these ingredients only penetrate the most superficial layers of the skin. Putting fruits and veggies in your skincare concoctions amounts to playing with your food.



Fortunately, a newer crop of spa treatments are looking at health from the inside out. They include an added component: a drink, elixir, or nutritional supplement, to be imbibed during the spa stay. Not only are guests pampered on the outside, they are enriched internally. It makes so much sense, one wonders: why didn’t we think of this earlier?

In fact, some of us did. Traditional Chinese Medicine has long combined both external and internal therapies, such as acupuncture and reflexology with an herbal tea, made from a customized blend of herbs. Of course, in ancient times, such treatments were rarely offered in settings as sumptuous as that of the Spa at the Four Seasons Biltmore, in Santa Barbara, California, where Zen-inspired wellness rituals are performed in an ocean-view, Italianate pavilion decorated with Venetian plaster walls, hand-knotted silk rugs, and tile fountains.

The Biltmore offers four different Chi East Asian Rituals focusing on detoxification, slimming, body-sculpting and cellulite reduction, and hand and foot care. They are designed to create clear pathways for the optimal flow of “chi,” or life force, throughout the body.

Each treatment also includes an elixir, a blend of herbs traditionally used in Chinese medicinal treatments. For instance, the Jade Total Body Detox includes the “Detox Blend,” a mildly sweet-tasting supplement containing key ingredients designed to speed up the elimination of toxins and pollutants. The formula includes dandelion root, an anti-microbial ingredient that helps clear the liver, and burdock root, which support the body’s normal cleansing process by moistening the intestines and promoting bowel movements. Ginseng, a popular Chinese herb, helps to balance the intestinal tract, strengthen the digestive organs, and increase circulation. Licorice, an anti-inflammatory ingredient, also has a balancing effect on the gastrointestinal tract.

“For thousands of years, Traditional Chinese Medicine has incorporated a wealth of knowledge about the healing powers of herbs,” says Gena Downey, director of publicity at the Four Seasons Biltmore. “We wanted to bring this series of beneficial treatments to the spa to honor that heritage and to offer the healing benefits to our guests.”

The Eau Spa at the Ritz-Carlton in Palm Beach, Florida takes a more fanciful approach. The spa, with its modern-Gothic d├ęcor, disco ball in the steam room, and cupcakes in the spa lounge, has a distinctively sybaritic feel. That spirit of indulgence is reflected in the spa’s Bejeweled collection of facials and body treatments, which pair the anti-aging benefits of platinum with the healing properties of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. The Platinum and Diamond Facial, for instance, involves painting a guest’s face with fairy wing-thin sheets of genuine platinum. The guest also drinks a dose of an elixir that has been infused with plant extracts as well as the energy of the gemstone.

“The Awaken Diamond formula, when imbibed or applied to the body, triggers neurological brain responses that lead to clarity of mind, enhanced memory, and focus,” says Fredericka Fairchild, a Shelter Island, New York-based psychotherapist who creates the potions. “The elixirs are distilled in crystal bowls and sunlight during new and full moons in the tradition of Tibetan Medicine. Each elixir is intended to balance the chakras and have specific nourishing effects on the mind, body, and spirit.”

For those who prefer their internal benefits a little more rooted in conventional science, the Spa at the Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, California, offers the Aquamarine Body Wrap, a seaweed-based treatment featuring highly concentrated marine clay to fortify the body’s natural detoxification process. At treatment’s end, a remineralizing Oligomer cocktail strengthens and balances with key minerals.

“By incorporating a nutritional supplement into the spa treatment, the health benefits of the treatment are extended,” says Spa Director Chris Hilburn. “I think supplements will become an increasingly popular part of the spa in the future.”

In the meantime, even spas that don’t include supplements as part of their menu of therapies offer nutritional boosts in the form of the drinks and snacks in their spa lounges. Perhaps none do it with more savoir-faire than New York City’s Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa, which specializes in “vinotherapie,” or spa treatments made with the antioxidant-rich byproducts of wine production. Guests relax in the “French Paradox Lounge,” so-named for the paradoxical-seeming notion that the French indulge in wine and eat rich foods, yet maintain good health and svelte figures. The French Paradox Lounge features an in-house sommelier, who offers guests a selection of vintages, including reds, whites, and a rose, along with fruits, nuts, and an assortment of teas.

“Drinking good wine in moderation is good for your health and well-being, and has been part of the French tradition for centuries,” says Spa Director director Joyce Davis.

Certainly the healing rituals of the spa—the steam and sauna, the relaxing body therapies, the skin-soothing facial treatments, and the deliciously unstructured time spent unwinding in spa lounges—have a positive impact on our overall health and well-being. Adding nutritional supplements to the mix helps us to remember that health is an inside job.

This post was written by Katherine Stewart for HealingLifestyles.com.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Travel Bug

Hey Everyone!

yogadogsandchocolate.blogspot.com

Lately, I've been blessed to share time with family and friends.  And there will be much more traveling, gatherings, & fun times to come over the next few weeks.  I have not forgotten or abandoned you, it's just part of This Holistic Life.  I've been following my mind, body & spirit and resting instead of posting in between all of my recent activities.

Great news is, I have some ideas brewing and the creativity is flowing.  I'm refueling my tank so I can better serve you and my family.  Life's good & I'm loving every bit of it!  You can follow my random tweets on Twitter @IAm_TracieRenee.

I'm excited about what's to come (Hope you are too).  Clarity and Insight has given me Motivation!  Stay Cool & Enjoy This Moment!

How to Be More Mindful Just by Breathing and Walking

An excerpt from Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises For Well-Being by Thich Nhat Hanh
If we can live mindfully in everyday life — walk mindfully, full of love and caring — then we create a miracle and transform the world into a wonderful place. Through mindfulness, we avoid harming ourselves and others, and we can work wonders.
What does "mindfulness" mean?
Mindfulness is our ability to be aware of what is going on both inside us and around us. It is the continuous awareness of our bodies, emotions, and thoughts.
In the Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, the Buddha offers four layers of mindfulness practice: mindfulness of the body, of the emotions, of the mind, and of the objects of mind. Practicing mindfulness at each layer can be the foundation of well-being and happiness.
When we don’t practice mindfulness, we suffer in our body, our mind, and in our relationships. In practicing mindfulness, we become a peaceful refuge for ourselves and others. When the seed of mindfulness in us is watered, it can grow into enlightenment, understanding, compassion, and transformation. The more we practice mindfulness, the stronger this seed will grow.
Clarity flows from mindfulness. When we are mindful, we can practice Right Thinking and Right Speech. With the energy of mindfulness, we can always return to our true home, the present moment.
The Chinese character for mindfulness reveals its meaning. The upper part of the character means “now” and the lower part stands for “mind” or “heart.” The Vietnamese word for mindfulness, chan niem, means to be truly in the present moment. Mindfulness helps us to come back to the here and now, to be aware of what is going on in the present moment, and to be in touch with the wonders of life.
How to breathe more mindfully
No one can be successful in the art of meditation without having passed through the gate of breathing. The practice of mindfulness encompasses all spheres and activities, including ordinary actions and our every breath.
We often assume breathing is just a natural skill; everyone knows how to inhale and exhale. But breathing is a miracle. Being aware of our breath not only helps us manage the difficulties in everyday life, it also helps develop our wisdom and compassion. We can sit and breathe, but it is just as important to practice mindful breathing while we are moving.
Life is a path, but life is not about getting to a certain place.
The object of your mindfulness can be anything. You can look at the sky and breathe in and say, “Breathing in, I’m aware of the blue sky.” So you are mindful of the blue sky. The blue sky becomes the object of your mindfulness. Or, “Breathing out, I smile to the blue sky.” Smiling is another kind of practice. First of all, you recognize the blue sky as existing. And if you continue the practice, you will see that the blue sky is wonderful. It may be that you’ve lived thirty or forty years but you have never seen and touched the blue sky that deeply.
How to practice walking meditation
Walking meditation is a way to practice moving without a goal or intention. Mindful walking simply means walking while being aware of each step and of our breath. It can be practiced anywhere, whether you are alone in nature or with others in a crowded city. You can even practice mindful breathing and walking meditation in between business appointments or in the parking lot of the supermarket.
Walking on this planet is a joy. Mindful walking allows us to be aware of the pleasure of walking. We can keep our steps slow, relaxed, and calm. There is no rush, no place to get to, no hurry. Mindful walking can release our sorrows and our worries and help bring peace into our body and mind.
We can practice walking meditation alone, with another person, or with a group. Placing our footsteps one after the other slowly and in silence, we can create joy with each step. If we take steps without anxiety, in peace and joy, then we will cause a flower to bloom on the earth with every step.
What are the Seven Miracles of Mindfulness?
If we bring mindfulness into every aspect of our life, we cannot help but experience life’s miracles.
The First Miracle is to be present and able to touch deeply the miracles of life, like the blue sky, a flower, the smile of a child.
The Second Miracle is to make the other—the sky, a flower, a child—present also. Then we have the opportunity to see each other deeply.
The Third Miracle is to nourish the object of your attention with full awareness and appropriate attention.
The Fourth Miracle is to relieve the suffering of others.
The Fifth Miracle is looking deeply into the nature of self and others.
The Sixth Miracle is understanding. If we are mindful of the present moment, we can see deeply and things become clear. With understanding, the desire to relieve suffering and give love will awaken within us.
The Seventh Miracle is transformation. By practicing Right Mindfulness, we touch the healing and refreshing aspects of life and begin to transform the suffering
in ourselves and in the world.
Our true home is the present moment. If we really live in the moment, our worries and hardships will disappear and we will discover life with all its miracles.
Real life can only be found and touched in the here and now. This is because the present moment is the only moment we can actually experience and influence. The past is over and the future has not yet arrived. Since the present moment is the only real moment for us, we can always return here to get in touch with the wonders of life.
As long as we are consumed with our everyday problems—distress about the present, regrets about the past, or constant worries about the future—we cannot be free people; we are not able to live in the here and now.

This post was written by Thich Nhat Hahn for blog.gaiam.com.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chai Frappe

Combine 16 oz hot water and four chai tea bags in a bowl. (Regular or decaf.) Let steep for five minutes. Pour tea into ice tray and chill 4 hours.


In a blender combine:
1 banana
½ cup low-fat vanilla soy milk
6 chai tea ice cubes

Blend.
Add 1 tbs. honey and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and enjoy!


This recipe was written by Melissa B. Williams for HealingLifestyles.com.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

5 Ways to Relieve Stress

Stress, when we don't deal with it properly, can cause irritability, fatigue, changes in appetite, sleeping issues, and even skin problems. These five methods of relieving stress will help you stay happy and healthy through challenging times. 


1. Practice Yoga

Taking time to experience the rest and calm that come from the healing practice of restorative yoga is one way to reduce your stress levels, improving your overall health and well-being.
2. Use a Stillpoint
You can interrupt your body's stress cycle instantly with a stillpoint. A stillpoint is an effective and simple therapeutic technique originating from osteopathy and craniosacral therapy. In as little as 5 minutes a day you will be able to help unwind the harmful effects of stress on your body and mind.
3. Take a Bath
Very few things are as relaxing as sinking into a tub of warm water. DIY soak recipes are easy to make, and can turn your bath into a skin-softening, stress-relieving, at-home spa experience.
4. Have a Spa Day (or Week)
Pamper yourself with some effective stress-relief by scheduling a day at the spa. Or, if you have the time, treat yourself and take a longer spa vacation. 
5. Step Away From the Computer
Intense job stress is becoming more common in today's workplace.  But there are things you can do to calm your mind and body.

This blog post was taken from SpaMagazine.com.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Changing the World One Diaper at a Time


 By Marla Taviano

Calm Mom: 5 Ways to Be a Present Parent


Life before baby: Long breakfast over the New York Times; light lunch with friends downtown; 45 minutes of cardio; Thai with Tom at 6 p.m.
Life after kids: 5:00 a.m. wake-up call from sick one-year-old; post-diaper-explosion cleaning intensive; temper tantrum mediation in mall parking lot; microwaved leftover mac and cheese dinner; glass of wine times two.
Let’s face it, life with kids is challenging. Yet you see those moms who seem to breeze through it all, unflappable. They have an annoyingly effortless way of seeming cool, collected, kind, peaceful and in control — even when surrounded by chaos.
That composed way of mothering isn’t out of reach for you, say mindful mothering experts and moms who are borrowing techniques from practices like yoga and meditation to boost their calm-mom powers.
Try these five tips and make being a calm mom look like child’s play.
1. Focus on right now
“Kids can smell a rat when we pretend we’re present,” says Mimi Doe, author ofBusy but Balanced and 10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting and founder of spiritualparenting.com.
Turn off the cell phone and the radio when you’re in the car and use that time to connect with your child, she says. Try hanging a tag in your car that reads “Here, now” or “Just this moment.”
Or use the “awareness continuum,” says Mara Kormylo, a mother of two, licensed clinical social worker and adjunct professor of Family Systems at Naropa University in Boulder, Colo. “Simply ask yourself over and over ‘what am I aware of right now?’
“This question can help mothers tap into what’s happening in their bodies, like clenching jaws or holding breath,” Kormylo continues, “as well as what’s happening around them, like the sky looks incredibly blue today.”
2. Give kids some space
“Your kids are the fish, and you create their aquarium,” says Kimberly Peterson, a mother and licensed mental health professional in Seattle who specializes in Buddhist existential therapy for parents. “They need to be able to swim around.”
Look at how you might be “re-parenting” yourself, perhaps because of some shortcoming you perceive in the way your own mother parented you.
“The more self-awareness a mom possesses, the less she will project her own struggles onto her children,” says Kormylo. “It’s unhealthy to judge a child for traits that a mother possesses and denies in herself.”
Accept your children’s individuality and separateness from you. “Healthy attachment is slightly detached,” says Peterson. “It’s good to miss your kids.”
Over-parenting is another non-calm-mom pattern to watch out for. One example: Feeling compelled to come immediately to your child’s aid the moment he or she whimpers.
“With my first child, I interpreted his crying as bad,” says mother of three Elizabeth Torres, an assistant attending psychologist at a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital who specializes in helping women adjust to motherhood. “I came to realize there are plenty of reasons kids cry,” she says. “Now I wait. I know the mind is just doing its habit.”
“Being aware that things are always changing — including my mood — and knowing that it’s temporary helps cultivate calmness,” agrees Robyn Waldeck, 40, a stay-at-home mom from Concord, Mass. “A tantrum is going to pass, and that makes the moment more tolerable.”
Try creating physical space in your home, too. For example, clear off the kitchen table every night and make it a sacred place for mealtime, suggests Doe.
3. Simplify
Over-scheduling is a recipe for a short fuse. You don’t need to do it all every day.
Look at what you can “undo” in your day, says Peterson. Look at the week’s chores and decide: No vacuuming this week! “I don’t know anyone who’s died from a messy house or spending the day in their pajamas,” she says.
Or put aside your to-do list altogether (literally and mentally) on a Saturday for a while — even for just an hour. Choose one activity to do with your kids, and do it mindfully. Be childlike, really listen to your kids, and focus your attention on what you’re doing together.
Margie Sullivan, 44, of Acton, Mass., shared how she dedicated a few blissful hours one day last summer to taking her six-year-old son to an organic produce stand, discussing where food comes from and how it grows, and returning home for an evening of taste-testing.
Hold your plans lightly, too, says Torres. “It’s OK to acknowledge what you’re feeling about your plans going to hell,” she laughs, “but allow things to slip away anyway.”
4. Nurture your non-mom identity
“Moms are caught up in the idea that they are this huge mammary gland,” says Peterson. “They lose themselves.”
Forget June Cleaver. Ignore the voice in your head about what constitutes a perfect mother, and just be you. Make time to reconnect with what you loved to do B.C. (before children) — and don’t feel guilty about it! Join a book club and actually go to the meetings. Take dance lessons. Plan a spa day with your girlfriends every so often.
Also cultivate candid friendships that don’t focus on competition, advises Sullivan, who connects with friends even if only via “phone therapy,” also known as leaving long voicemails for one another.
5. Breathe
If “take a deep breath” is something you try to remember to do when stress starts mounting, you’re on the right track. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of proper breathing and employing specific breathing techniques. They range from lower blood pressure, increased lung capacity and a strengthened immune system to reduced stress and improved focus and concentration, to name a few. Babies should be our guide. At birth, children naturally breathe deeply from the belly rather than shallowly from the chest like most adults.
In addition to remembering to “take a deep breath,” filling the belly first followed by the chest with air, try a deep sigh, letting out a natural sound of relief as air exits the lungs. The calming “ocean breath” sounds like a gentle snore as it passes slowly through the back of the throat. Bruce Gottlieb, a Boulder, Colo.-based father and Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private psychotherapy practice suggests “grounding” yourself first by placing your feet on the floor, noticing the things around you to orient to the surroundings and then sighing deeply to help level out the shortness of breath created during a stressful situation. Or simply stop, close your eyes, and focus on your breath and nothing else for one minute.
In her book Buddhism for Mothers, Sarah Napthali says you can also apply this wisdom in other ways. Feel the ground while walking, taste your food, even notice your body’s sensations while standing in line at the bank.

This post was written by Julie Kailus for blog.gaiam.com.
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