Parenting With Grace During the Holidays

The holidays can be very evocative for some of us. It can bring up cozy warm feelings as we reminisce about family gatherings and happy memories and also bring up anxious feelings or worry about finances, upcoming events and an overall busier season. Whatever it brings up in you, it’s all ok. It’s also ok for the holiday season to bring up all kinds of feeling in our children. So as we embark on another hustling bustling season of events, let’s take a deeper look at how we can manage it with grace and self-love.

Connect to the True Meaning. Being mindful about the “why” behind the season can help us get back to the roots of what these holiday traditions are all about. It can help us deepen our spiritual connection to the season, become closer as a family, and reduce some of the noise and distraction of the consumerism that we are faced with in many of our cultures. Take some time to be curious and ponder some questions. What would you like the holidays to be about for your family? If the answer is gratitude, how can you make that a daily practice? How can it be modeled? If it’s kindness and compassion, what would that look like? Tuning in with ourselves and refining our focus can go a long way in helping us to teach our children the life lessons we hope will make them loving and caring adults.

Consider focusing on a few centering family traditions– There are plenty of events going on between Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah/ Solstice. Try to scale back to a few foundational traditions that you would like to focus on for your family. These will help everyone feel more grounded and bring your family closer together. They can be very specific to your tradition or more general. For example, in our home we visit a local Farm Sanctuary around Thanksgiving for their annual celebration of the turkeys. We also have a book tradition around Christmas where we unwrap a different Winter/Christmas themed book from our collection every day for the first 12 days of December. We enjoy lots of cozy reading time with these books all month long. We also love music in our home, so we incorporate impromptu holiday dance party and jam sessions all season long. Find the peace in knowing you are creating lasting joy filled memories that your child will treasure as they get older.

Be Gentle with Expectations– Keep in mind that the holiday hype, while intending to be fun and jolly, can be very overwhelming for many of our kiddos. Before an event, help them prepare by using a calendar, having lots of conversation of what an event may look like and if appropriate, view YouTube videos of an event so they can see or understand what to expect, listen and validate any feelings they have about the upcoming experience, and allow for extra time in your schedule so nobody feels rushed. During the event, check in with your child to see how they are managing and allow for flexibility if they need some space or time away to regulate their body. Bring along a favorite comfort item or fun activity, set aside a quiet space away from the action, and connect with them often either physically or emotionally. After the event, make sure to take extra time with your child to listen to their experience, answer any questions they may have and reflect on how it felt for you both. Holding space before and after gatherings and events to process and decompress in a relaxed way will help everyone feel less stressed and more connected.

Don’t forget Self-Care It’s so easy to put our needs aside when we are busy. With all the planning and preparing, how do we take care of ourselves too? Start small. Just five minutes can make a huge difference and create space to reset. Choose something you can do regularly and just get started. Drink more water, go to bed earlier, read for enjoyment, do standing stretches between tasks, close your eyes and focus on your breath, feel the sun on your face, look up at the sky, breathe deeply. If you have more time, one of the most healing things you can do is connect with nature every day. Bring the kiddos along too! Playing and being in the fresh air and sun can do wonders, especially during the darker winter days. It’s soothing and grounding for the whole family!

Release Judgment. This is truly a lifelong practice for everyone in the family. Whether we are coming down hard on ourselves as parents for not doing enough, giving enough or providing enough, or judging other for the way they react to this time of year- we all could use a little more grace. Keep in mind that each of us are doing the best we can in any given situation. Love on yourself a little more. Be patient. Scale back. Spend less. We don’t need to participate in every holiday event. We don’t need to have Instagram worthy tables, gift wrapping and families. We are beautifully imperfect and infinitely special just as we are. So are our children. Allow the mess, embrace home made decorations that focus on the process instead of the product, involve your kids in menu planning and simple cooking tasks. Invite them to prepare the house for the holidays to develop a greater sense of responsibility and care for their environment. Most of all, remember to keep age-appropriate expectations for them. A 5 year old cannot sit for as long as a 10 year old- and a 3 year old may not tolerate sitting at all. Sometimes children have very different ideas about something you meticulously planned. Listen to them and see where you can adjust and adapt things for them to feel accepted and seen. Just meet them where they are. Wherever they are is OK. Wherever you are is OK too.

Blessings to you and yours for a joy and love filled holiday season.

Peace to all, life to all, love to all. Sat Nam.

Sustainable Living Swaps for Everyone

Just in time for Earth day! We are continuing our conversation about sustainable living practices, the Zero Waste lifestyle, and living as a spiritual being in a very practical and accessible way. I’m here to say that Zero Waste/Sustainable living is available to each of us to a certain degree and encourage you to feel into what changes you are comfortable exploring.

At this point, I think most people are already doing some of the more mainstream “first tier” swaps (reusable water bottles/straws/coffee cups/shopping bags etc). But I want to encourage you to give some of these others swaps a try. You might just find a new favorite.

After all, in order for there to be real impact, we all need to be doing “something” and that “something” is very individualized. For some, it may be to eliminate air travel or live in a car optional community. For others, it may be to only purchase items from companies that are Fair Trade certified or Certified B corporations. The point is, only YOU can decide- but we all need to start taking some steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle. But don’t stop there, keep moving until you find your edge. You may be more comfortable with more change than you are giving yourself credit for.

So, here we go- my Top Zero Waste/Sustainable Living Swaps with specific brand recommendations that I can personally stand by:

  1. Green up your Toothbrushing Routine! This is one of the first swaps I did because it was so simple and there was barely any adjustment period . We all switched out to bamboo toothbrushes and Bite Bits for our toothpaste and floss. They have a subscription available that comes with zero waste refills and now even have Bite Bits for children ages 3 and up. I love that we are no longer tossing small bits of plastic in the trash, and to be honest, the little glass bottles on the bathroom vanity just make me smile.
  2. Modernize your Period experience! This is a great experiment- take all the trash from your next period and put it aside in a bag. If you are using disposable products, the amount of trash each month is probably more than you imagined. Time to rethink your routine with some great re-usable options.
    • Menstrual Cup– it may take some getting used to, but users absolutely love the freedom that wearing a cup can bring. There are lots of options to choose from and many places to purchase them. Some may even be sold in your local pharmacy.
    • Organic/Zero Waste Products– My absolute fave here is Tampon Tribe. Their products are all organic, zero plastic, women owned, compostable and socially responsible. You can subscribe for a customized package each month that comes with refill packs for their really cute burlap bags.
    • Period Underwear– Again so many options to choose from here. The feeling may take a little bit of getting used to, but so worth it. Period underwear are super easy to use and come in lots of styles and price points. My favorite are the ones from The Period Company. They contain no PFOAS at all, are socially responsible, extremely absorbent and at a very attractive price point.
  3. Skip the Plastic Jugs of Detergent! There are many companies offering excellent sustainable options to those huge jugs of laundry detergent. Drops laundry pods are a popular choice here. Made in the USA, free of all the bad stuff, compostable packaging and carbon neutral shipping make this a great choice. Another popular one is Meliora. They disclose every ingredient used, are MADE SAFE certified, a Certified B Corp, Made in the USA, and package free. I am in LOVE with every Meliora product I’ve used so far. They smell great (only using essential oils) and clean extremely effectively.
  4. Welcome Bar Soap back into your life! Remember those bars, you know, back before everything came in a little plastic bottle? From bar soap for hands, face, dishes to shampoo and conditioner bars, there are bars for everything. My shampoo and conditioner bar of choice is NueBar. They are made of high quality ingredients, no artificial fragrances, contain no soap, SLS, SLES, or SCS, carbon neutral and plastic free packaging. They even have a smart lettering system on the bars so you don’t get them mixed up in the shower. They are also Curly girl method approved. I also love their facial bars, especially the one for mature skin. For dish soap, you can’t go wrong with Meliora here again. Their products are really superior and well crafted.
  5. Try out some DIY Personal Care Products! Plastic free and zero waste versions of your fave products are super easy to find. Here are my go-to recipes for products I use every single day.
    • Flax seed hair gel. This was the first DIY I ever tried and was so floored by how great it worked and how amazing my hair felt afterward, it’s now the only product I use in my hair. Flax seeds are full of Omega-3 fatty acids and are nutrient rich. You can freeze this gel in portions in an ice cube tray so you always have a stash made and it literally costs pennies per ounce. Here’s my go to recipe for flax hair gel.
    • Body Butter. I love this all natural and simple body butter made of only 3 ingredients: shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil. Our whole family uses it- including our toddler. I even use it on my face. It feels great and soaks right in. The best part is that there are no mystery ingredients to worry about and its so easy to make.
    • Moisturizing Skin Serum. This lovely skin serum is made of organic, cold- pressed plant oils and is a relatively new addition to my routine. I put this on and allow it to soak in and follow up with the body butter recipe above. Using it makes me feel like I’m in a spa. Here’s the recipe.
  6. How about some DIY Cleaning products? There are tons of recipes out there. We’ve been using this one for our dishwashing detergent and have not been disappointed- one more plastic bottle down! And as soon as my bottled toilet bowl cleaner is finished, I’ll be replacing it with this.
  7. Let’s Talk Toileting! Speaking of toilets, we swapped our TP for one made of recycled content and all compostable packaging. I’m loving Who Gives A Crap for their commitment to a worthwhile cause and humanitarian effort. They are a Certified B Corp and have carbon neutral shipping. I am super pleased with their products and bonus, they have cheery wrapping that is quite pretty (and can be repurposed!) A next step for us is purchasing a bidet. While we are not quite there yet (our toddler would have a literal blast with it) we do have this one on our radar.
  8. Ditch the plastic and go for glass, glass, and more glass! Start buying things in glass packaging whenever possible. You like mustard? Buy the one in glass. Salad dressing? Find the one in glass. Start a jar stash and literally use them for everything. You can freeze in them, store dry goods in them, use them for leftovers, organize your office supplies, drink out of them, put flowers in them, make DIY gifts in them. The list goes on!

So there it is for now, I hope some of these swaps spark interest and hopefully excitement for starting something new and fresh this Spring. It’s a perfect time for renewing our commitment to this planet and to ourselves.

You’ve all seen the bumper sticker, “There is no Planet B” after all.

Sat Nam

My Vegan Re-Awakening

 

afterglow background beautiful branches
Photo by Krivec Ales on Pexels.com

I’ve learned a lot about who I am through my journey to veganism.

When I first became vegetarian 29 years ago it was a crystal clear and empowering decision.  I became keenly aware that I could no longer eat animals and vowed to make a difference.  I was still young at the time and my newly found vegetarianism was not received in a supportive way.  There was no guidance or words of encouragement from my family.  I found PETA and other animal advocacy groups and began learning.  Through reading their newsletters, I became aware of how animals were being used in other ways; through animal testing, entertainment, and for fashion.  This was eye-opening! My life had changed.  When I was 18, I put my animal advocacy stickers on my car.  I knew I wanted to make the world a better place for the animals and hoped to change the opinions of those who I was closest with along the way.

Then something unexpected happened. My passion for the animal rights movement faded into the background. It just shrunk. While I was proud of my actions, I learned to be quiet and not share information with others so I wouldn’t offend anyone or sound “preachy”.  Being vegetarian simply became a part of me, like having brown eyes or being female. It was just a fact.

I went to college, studied well, began my career, went back to school for my M.A., bought my first house and kept checking things off my goal list.  But what about my passion for saving the animals? Was it silent, gone?  Sure I still sought out vegan cosmetics and non-leather shoes, but those decisions had become second-nature.   I had yet to meet another vegetarian.

In 2015 I became vegan.  I saw a shocking image shared on Facebook by my former yoga teacher turned vegan lifestyle coach.  It wasn’t graphic, but it helped me connect the dots in a way that I had never done before.  On the spot, I was vegan!   I removed dairy and eggs from my diet and even joined a vegan activist group and for the first time in my life, I sat in a room surrounded by other vegans! Then I returned to my life.  I focused on building up my small business and gave my energy away to everything else.  Feeling depleted and unhappy, I began some deep inner work.  For the first time, I listened and realized I was not living in alignment with my truth.

The truth is that the vegan movement is really exciting to me, that meeting and talking with other vegans is supportive and nourishing to my spirit, that the food can be incredibly inventive and delicious and that spreading the vegan message is really important for both the animals and planet.  I had learned to stifle this enthusiasm and pursued all the things in life I thought I was “supposed to” pursue, but was not fulfilled.  I began the process of reclaiming this lost part of myself.

So, what did I do as a 40 year old re-awakened vegan? I learned, I engaged, I shared, and I became active! There was a new-found celebration of veganism arising from my spirit! I no longer pushed my vegan identity off to the side, but invited it along for the ride- front and center!  I found incredible vegan podcasts to listen to, watched documentaries, read books, and created a grass roots support group right in my little neighborhood.  My inner young vegan self became so joyful now that she was recognized!

I am living a more joyful life than ever before.  I know I am making a difference for the animals who I made a promise to those 29 years ago. I am enthusiastic, alert and energetic.  I have come full circle.

Some people refer to this as the “call of Spirit” and it very well feels that way to me.  I just needed to learn to listen and watch how it all begins to unfold for me.

SAT NAM

 

Cruising Into Health

IMG_8885How a Vegan Cruise opened my heart and nourished my soul!

It’s been a really long time since I’ve blogged, but I had to share my experience of The Holistic Holiday At Sea, Vegan Cruise aboard the MSC Divina.  Living a plant based lifestyle, I’m always very careful about how I travel and it normally means a tremendous amount of preparation, packing and research.  I had heard about this cruise for years, but this year just seemed right.  For me, this cruise worked on so many levels. Gifting me with the most up to date and scientifically proven knowledge from speakers like Drs. T Colin Campbell, Neal Barnard, Michael Greger and more- these are the superstars of the plant based movement!!! Then there were the animal advocacy speakers and researchers like Dr. Jonathan Balcombe, James Aspey, Gene Bauer, and Ingrid Newkirk.  I know I’m doing a lot of name dropping here, but being in their presence was an absolute inspiration!  On top of all of this, we got fed the most delicious, clean and nourishing food (without any of the prep work)- oh and did I mention we were in the Caribbean with 2000 other vegans!!

I am now signed up to do this vegan cruise again next year (yippee).  The support, love and encouragement of community was beyond what I ever expected.  It was 10 days of self care and life giving expansion.

Healing Cleanse- Week 2

Last week I explained how I found myself on this path to the 28 day Healing Cleanse by the Medical Medium, Anthony William.  I just completed week 2 and still feeling pretty great.

I experienced some detox symptoms at the start of my second week (irritability, impatience, and a lot of mind chatter).  As this is a very deep level of cleansing, the symptoms were not a surprise and I listened carefully to my body to see if there was anything I should change. I realized I was pushing myself a bit too hard in my everyday life and decided to slow down, breathe, and create more opportunities for ease.  I also began doing some dry brushing to help move the lymph and release the toxins faster.

Today is my wedding anniversary.  Each year we celebrate with a fantastic dinner out and a very nice bottle of wine, so this year is different for us.  I am fortunate that my husband is doing the cleanse with me, he’s a tremendous support and I’d recommend anyone doing the cleanse to find someone (or a group of people) to do the cleanse with- it makes it a lot easier!  Anyhow, tonight we will celebrate with loads of veggies, fresh guacamole (with plenty of cilantro), and fruit for dessert.  Sounds like a good night to me, after all, it’s not about the food- although it sometimes feels as though it is.

On to week 3!!