After Christmas Prescription: Rest and Restore

I was visiting with my cousin at my mother’s annual holiday party when he commented to me he was glad to have “endured” Christmas.  I told him that once his children were older, like mine who are now 22 and 18, he would enjoy the holiday more.  I recalled how I felt after decorating, shopping, wrapping, and celebrating with the girls in tow, and how my joy was tempered by exhaustion.

Our self-care tip this post-holiday week is to rest and recharge your battery.  Don’t put pressure on yourself for playdates, taking the children out or visiting friends and family unless that’s easier for you.  Resist preparing  gourmet meals, downloading holiday pictures or catching up on errands.  You have the entire  year ahead.

What to do instead?  Rest.  Restore.  Recharge.  No child has ever died from a diet of hot dogs and macaroni.  In fact, many of them prefer it.  They will gladly wear the same clothes and don’t care if their rooms are a mess.  Also, let them entertain themselves.  What about the new toys they took seconds to unwrap?  They can play with them!

For a healthy and happy new year, you need to have the energy to enjoy it.  As Ann and I always say, you must keep your pitcher filled to take care of yourself and those you love.  Don’t run yourself ragged like little Spudgy and miss out on the fun.  Give yourself a break this week.  You deserve it.   And get some sleep.

Finding Your Happy Place

You just wrapped up your holiday festivities and this years’ “fun” has left you more stressed than ever.  It’s time to find your happy place.

Your happy place is the place you go when you need to rejuvenate.  It can be your bath tub or your favorite chair where you can escape with a good book.  And if your happy place is a beach in Aruba where you know you can’t literally go, escape there in your mind.  The point is you need to get to that happy place and you really should visit daily.  Some experts say taking just 15 minutes a day for YOU can make all the difference in the world in your outlook and your health.  Don’t think you have 15 minutes for you? Well, if you believe it’s simply not possible, you’ll be right. But imagine how sweet it would be if you were wrong on this one!

Think about all the things you consider important in life.  Shouldn’t you be on that list?  Where do you go to escape the stress of daily life? Tell me about it and inspire other moms to find their happy place, too.

Today’s guest author is Desiree Miller, mom of 4, who developed her motherhood expertise into a baby planning business, www.bottlestobritches.com.

As Ann and I said many times during the 21-day self-care challenge, 15 minutes  is a great start toward filling your emotional pitcher and making your  health and well-being a priority.  Go Desiree.

Self-Care and Your Higher Power

What is spirituality?  It can be a feeling of intense peace, a true connection with God or whatever your higher power is, or a complete faith that no matter what happens you will be okay.  Everyone has the potential for feeling spiritual but if you want it, you have to encourage its growth inside you.

Twenty years ago, during a time of turmoil in my life, I was talking with a very good friend. He is the kindest, calmest, happiest, most spiritual person I know. I told him I wanted what he had. He told me I could not have his, and that I had to find my own. I was dismayed.  Why couldn’t he just give me some?

So I learned that spirituality involves becoming aware of your unique spirit which is different for each human being.  It is your journey to find yourself.  It is recognizing that there is a spirit within you which is part of a higher power that extends everywhere.

It is learning to be kind and caring to yourself and others you do and don’t know. It means letting go of judgmentalism, negativism, and selfishness. Ultimately, it leads to  understanding that all living things are connected to one another because all are aspects of divine consciousness.

As Chief Seattle said,

“Man did not weave the web of life

He is merely a strand of it

Whatever he does to the web

He does to himself.”

Real Mom Ariel

Let your spirituality shine inside and out.

Today’s author is Ariel Martin, M.A., Pastoral Care Director and Counselor.

Three Steps to Teachable Holiday Moments

The holidays often sucks us into the gimmes, just like our kids, as we make the holidays happen. We easily lose track of the underlying message of the season for our kids. Consider these focused activities to reconnect with the holiday lessons:

1) CHOOSE actively, in line with your values. Stop and consider what you want to teach about the holiday season. You might want to say no if an event is too commercial, or detracts from planned family time. It’s fine to focus on fun–and opt out if an event is more drudgery or duty than pleasure. This is your holiday, too, and you have the right to celebrate it in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable for you. What a good example for your children!

2) INVOLVE everyone in the process of giving, helping small children pick out toys for the holiday toy drive, donate from their piggy banks to the bell ringer at the grocery, or make macaroni necklaces for favorite aunts or sitters. Older children might perform a chore, or sing/perform on an instrument for neighbors, visiting family, or residents of a senior living community.

3) READ one book about your spiritual perspective and traditions nightly. Every library has a children’s librarian eager to suggest new (or old favorite) titles. On the subject of reading, consider a classic book as a gift each year. Building a personal library for a child fosters a lifelong love of reading, one value to focus on that continues throughout the year.

The Holidays Are Here: How to Stay Low-Stress

The holidays are here with fun-filled and stress-filled times sandwiched together, not unlike raising children, work, marriage and other life pursuits. So, here are some recommendations to make the holidays calmer and happier.

First, have realistic expectations of yourself.  Many of us feel disappointed because our “fairytale images” don’t materialize. Instead, focus on feeling good from the inside out.  Build a fire and roast marshmallows, shop with a friend, or take a long walk in the woods.  Meditate, workout, read, or  listen to music.  Feed your soul.

Second, have realistic expectations of others.  No one’s family or friends are perfect, and the holidays won’t change this.  Since we can’t change them, we need to rely on ourselves to gather what’s positive and let go of the negative.  Create new family traditions so they don’t stir up bad memories.  If a situation becomes too negative, leave.

Likewise, don’t take relationship stress too personally. If your partner snaps about household clutter because they’re stringing Christmas lights while baking cookies, understand it’s their problem.  Don’t let them take their bad mood out on you but don’t react poorly either.  After all, love is the true intention of the season and it starts with you.

The Law of Giving and Receiving

I just got back from a wonderful week of meditation and yoga with Deepak Chopra and the amazing Chopra Center teachers. In it, they talked about how each day corresponds to one of “7 Spiritual Laws of Success,” and ways to practice each law on a given day.

So, here’s my first gift for you-ideas from Deepak Chopra about how to put Monday’s law, the “Law of Giving” into practice.

1. Bring everyone you come in contact with today a gift. For example, a smile, compliment or hug. Be creative. Material gifts count too but research shows that affection, attention and acceptance nourish our souls most.

2.  Be grateful for all life’s gifts like the sun, the flowers and waking up in the morning. Be open to receiving gifts from others whether it’s a material gift, compliment or kind remark. Let it soak in.

3. Keep the ultimate “wealth in life” -love, affection and caring ” circulating through giving and receiving which work in unison to keep the energy of the universe flowing. Send lovingkindness silently to everyone you meet.

My second gift to you is to encourage you to sign up for the Chopra Center’s 21-Day meditation challenge “Free to Love” which starts today. Each day has a guided meditation, inspiration and practical tips about improving your health and well-being. Don’t pressure yourself about this. Be open-minded and take from it what works for you. That’s all.

Enjoy!