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Would you like to bring more peace and magic into your days but don’t know where to start?

Imagine gentle days filled with stories, laughter and nature explorations. Imagine (re-)discovering your own creativity while connecting with your children. Imagine creating a rhythm that makes your days smoother and more peaceful.

Learn how to …

– set the scene (your home) by simplifying toys and creating play spaces
– find beauty in everyday tasks and create a gentle rhythm to your days
– spend more time outdoors and build a deeper connection with nature
– include your children while cooking and baking and setting up the kitchen for success
– include songs, verses and seasonal celebrations in your days
– learn basic storytelling skills
– how to plan activities, arts and crafts that all of you enjoy (not only your kids)

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Sign me up!

I took this course over the winter, created by my buddy Halina who I met in Mama Bliss Coaching school. The course is a beautiful guide encouraging creative quality time during full motherhood day. Halina is a talented mama who has poured her heart into supporting the creative mama’s soul. Our weekly coaching calls often held the tension between our own creative callings (i.e., blogging, book chapters, e-courses, coaching) while honoring our time as mamas to young children and the rhythm of our families’ lives.

I’m beyond excited that Halina reached out to me yesterday with the offer of 1-free spot in her Creating Magical Days with Your 2 to 4-year olds e-course which begins on Monday June 9th – just in time for summer vacation!

Are you interested? Are you as excited as I am for this magical journey?

Here’s how you can enter (and hopefully WIN):

1. Come over to my new website and sign up for the newsletter to make sure you are in the loop. I plan on announcing more contests in the upcoming weeks to celebrate the launch of my new site. If your name is on the list, you’ll definitely be invited to the party.

2. Comment at ellenightingale.com about  creating magical days with your family. Feel free to share something you’ve done in the past, or something you hope to create this summer with your children.

3. If you share this post using the social media buttons (again over at ellenightingale.com), I will enter you into the contest again (and again!) because I know you mean business.

4. The winner will be announced by 12 am PST on June 9th. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you are right on time for your first class!

 

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When this is Over

I’m currently on an archaeological journal dig for things to come on my new website.

Come join me on the next journey over HERE if you haven’t already.

 

I just found a poem I wrote last year about new motherhood. (Or a better title: When this is Over). I can’t believe this is what life looked like a year ago:

e & c

 

When this is over,

I will ache for it to be again.

For simplicity and the routines

of full motherhood days.

I will miss her on my chest

 the rhythm of breath syncing

asleep in harmony.

I will miss him yelling

“Hold ME! Hug ME!”

At preschool drop-off

wishing for independence,

(but not too much)

that he can’t wait to

run away to a pack of friends.

I watch her discover the world

as she calms to my touch

enjoying sunshine on her face

like me.

They are both parts of me.

He is scared.

I tell him it will be okay,

he is okay.

We make mistakes.

My words to him are my own reminders.

He hits – I hug

We both have tears.

When this is over

I’ll wonder why

I was so eager to get on with it.

Impatient!

Motherhood slowed me down

to an unfamiliar pace.

A pace I needed

to learn presence

to be here now.

When this is over

I will ache.

My arms empty

My time free

Wondering why I hurried it up.

photo (11)

After my 30 day blogging journey, my  intent was to fall in love with my blog again. I wanted to feel comfortable picking up the conversation so my writing didn’t feel awkward or disjointed after a month break. I use the analogy of phone conversations: when I speak with someone regularly, there is a rhythm. When it’s been a long time, and there is too much catching up – I know my calls need more than five minutes to connect, and I put off the call for another day which only makes the conversation seem bigger.

When daily blogging became a habit, it began to fit into my daily routine. I’ve wanted to be an early morning blogger with visions of sipping herbal tea while the rest of my house sleeps soundly. However, that has not been my reality since becoming a mother of two children (almost a year ago – whoa!)

Instead blogging began to happen in the evening during my son’s bathtime. I discovered a little writing nook in my bedroom, just outside the bathroom door. At 3 1/2 years old, he is now demanding privacy from his mother in the bathroom. So I sit in my writing space with the door halfway open, my back turned away for his privacy. I am auditorily supervising, making sure water is not being dumped from the tub when he plays waterfall or tsunami or whatever is going on that sounds like a natural disaster.

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With the door open, I call out frequently: “What’s happening in there?”

“I’m just playing.”

“What are you doing?”

“I put syrup on them!” I’m hoping he has not poured out the expensive baby washes which line the tub rail, and has chosen the generic wash from Target as syrup tonight.

His imagination is active, and the water does something to balance out his play and simultaneously settle him.

I’m back in the saddle again tonight, blogging while he splashes away. He has been in the bath for over 30 minutes while I’ve written the sentences above.

“Want to come out yet?” I ask.

“No, my guys are taking swimming lessons and they are not finished.” There is always a pretend-play excuse for everything. I will be mopping the floor later, if I remember.

After my 30 day blog affair, a few things happened:

My mom and entourage of Mahervelous women came to Ojai for a visit and I took a break from it all: coaching, speech, and blogging. It felt good to give myself a little staycation, but there’s never really a true “break” with two young children. There have been a few rough sleeping nights: teething (almost 1-years old!!!!). We are entering a big touchpoint for my baby turning toddler as she is fighting for independence wanting to move, and clinging to me in the same moment.

Next there were a few restless and dark nights of the soul for me. I tend to go with the flow, but periods of intense change and uncertainty bring on my inner tantrums. I become like my 3 1/2 year old son who won’t come out of the bathtub. My overactive imagination thinks that swimming lessons are needed or all of my inner desires are going to sink. There is potency as I splash through my turbulent waters, resurfacing with clarity. My inner storms are passing, and the sun is on the horizon. I feel supported.

“Mama, I’m ready to come out,” he calls. And just like that, shifts happen.

I met my husband on my 24th birthday. I threw him a 30th birthday party the following month just after we started dating. Eight months later, I learned the truth when I looked at his license and the math didn’t add up. The guy I had fallen for wasn’t really 30, he was 32 (!!!) and worried a 24-year old might not have given him a chance. My husband hates this story, and will probably be annoyed for it being told (again) (online) but it’s a story that belongs to both of us now. The reason I’m sharing it is because I’m having some deja vu with my 30-day blog affair. Today marks the big 3-0 (versus 31)! Last night I was feeling like I failed my own 30-day challenge after not blogging on day 28. Maybe that’s why there were 31 days this month: an opportunity to still hit 30 even with one miss. (Or maybe I just don’t count to 30 so well?) In any case, we celebrate birthdays in our house with a big old ? on the cake instead of numbered candles.

Now that this journey is complete; I want to share some thoughts if you are considering blogging more consistently or taking part in any 30-day challenge:

1. Blogger’s block can feel real, but it is somewhat of a myth. I frequently don’t know what I’ll write about when I sit down to write. I worry what I’m sharing might have no significance. However, it’s really resistance rearing its ugly head (read The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
if you are looking to tackle creative resistance rather than living in procrastination). There is always something to say. I would put pressure on my blog posts to be the most meaningful thing I’d have to say all week – month – longer (which is an easy way to fall out of love with blogging). It puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on a blog post. Imagine thinking you could never speak unless your words were always perfectly articulated and quotable. I would probably be mute. How scary would that be to utter a sound? As a speech pathologist this analogy hits home. It’s okay that a post might not be eloquent or what you want etched on your tombstone. Just writing and posting on a daily basis will change your relationship with blogging.

2. I chose 30-days of blogging because I wanted to have a relationship with my blog again. It felt like a long lost friend after going over a month without posting. I knew I wanted to hold onto it, but my writing felt awkward and forced. There was too much time between posts to just throw out a casual thought or bedtime haiku without it feeling disjointed. After my first week blogging, I found a rhythm. After the second week, it no longer felt like a long-lost friend, but a close confidant. Ideally, I would like to post 1-2 times a week now, but I’m not sure if that will feel too distant initially. I may experiment for a little bit, just like Goldilocks (I use fairy tale analogies frequently with a preschooler at home): too hard, too soft, just right. My blog became home again. It was no longer an afterthought, instead it was front and center. When I knew I had some heavily scheduled days, I wrote an extra post preparing myself for the near future. An editorial calendar for the blog started to sound ideal versus restricting. We shall see.

3. I began to see some themes taking place over the course of this month. Some of the things I blogged about frequently were: breathing room and undoing. This topic just won’t leave me, so more to come…

4. The best part about committing to any journey for 30-days is you take your word seriously. Your intentions become real. You feel on-fire moving through your day. More to come on this as I have a special interview with a friend who coaches others through mental and physical 30 day challenges. She gave me a pep-talk in the beginning of my 30-day blog affair with the advice to just take on this one thing (rather than trying to do 10 things and once). Keep it simple. And to just do it!

5. Any writer will tell you they love acknowledgement for their writing. Comments and followers are great. The more the merrier! I will not pretend to say this doesn’t matter. But writing consistently had me care less about what others thought, obsessing over stats, etc. and just get to work.  This was good for my writing soul. Anyone who wants more blog followers, just write more regularly!

6. I don’t consider myself to be a poet. I surprised myself this month with my Bedtime Haiku post when I didn’t have the energy to write much or for too long. (I loved it, and may bring this in more often. Stay tuned…) I could do this every day for a month (so don’t tempt me, you know that could happen!)

So tonight I’m signing off with Blogging Haiku:

Choose Your Own Journey

Is a blogging home for me

A full heart tonight5734_1193154504068_8116_n

A lesson from falling down

Yesterday would have been the 28th day of my blog affair. But last night I wasn’t feeling it. I was wiped out and fell asleep beside my son before 9 pm.

I thought to myself: “It’s okay, just post something in the morning. Besides, you really don’t have anything to say tonight and you would be forcing it. Nobody is going to miss you! (Really).” That was the mistaken voice of reason. It was really my voice of mediocrity, and I’m frustrated it won out. When I chose to begin a blog affair last month, I made it easy to show up; a post could be a picture, a poem, or a quote instead of feeling like it had to be the most meaningful thing I ever wrote.

I almost posted a picture last night. How easy it could have been to do this:

Beach Day!

Beach Day!

Or this…

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Or even this…

Making Mandalas - Inspiration from paintings (or I could so make this)

Making Mandalas – Inspiration from paintings (or I could so make this)

I may sound hard on myself, but it’s not about the post. It’s about the meaning behind the post. I am proud of just showing up here every day. It has not been easy. I had to find time to blog on some full days. I changed my writing area from a desk in the living room, to a desk in my bedroom so I could write while my son took hour long baths. Despite his temporarily pruny fingers and toes, my blogging became an affair of the heart. I started to fall in love with my blog again. I began to think about it, rather than feeling guilty for not thinking about it. I began to write faster, and get out of my head, releasing the need for approval and feelings of judgment, because I didn’t have the time. I was off to the next post.

And every time I sat down to write, I’d think I have absolutely nothing worth writing about (and even more prevalent: people are getting so SICK of me writing this much, just stop already).

There are many creative lessons I’m taking from this journey. There is magic when I show up, especially in the face of resistance. There is inspiration in committing to something. I am seeing common themes with undoing which is so needed in my life right now, along with the biggest message in the book I’m writing. I’ve regained integrity by doing what I said I’d do (with the exception of last night where I lost a piece of my own integrity too). As writers, we can re-purpose writing! So much of what’s been posted would have probably died in my draft box if I was not looking for something to share.

So for the next two nights, I’m getting back on the horse again. There is an even bigger lesson from last night which I’m still sitting with this evening. We never get the day back. Things become too much to make up the next day, which is why procrastination gets heavier.

We always get to choose again.

 

Choosing to Wait

I’m re-reading one of my favorite books by Sue Monk Kidd.  I read it in the months leading up to my mastectomy, when I was in a real waiting game. I had have a very hard time waiting. Five years ago, I had just finished an intensive 4-month transformational coaching program with messages screaming: LIFE IS NOW!!!  and calls for urgency recognizing tomorrow is never promised. Waiting was the antithesis of what our action-packed society wants us to believe is the norm. I began to feel like there might be something wrong with me, believing popular self-help hype: paralysis by analysis and all of the other quick-fixes which fell flat.

Around the same time, I discovered When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions on my mom’s bookshelf.

I was waiting for results from a biopsy, waiting to meet more doctors about surgery (although all I really wanted was to just be done with it), waiting to start a family, and waiting to make any sort of life plans until my health was sorted out.

I was simultaneously in a place of intense spiritual searching. I was on the women’s retreat team and part of a young adult group at my church needing the connection with others on faith-sharing journeys. I also stepped outside the familiar structure of my own religion and began attending a non-denominational Sunday service in the West Village with other spiritual seeking friends. I gave “soul-searching” a whole new meaning over the course of my waiting season.

As I re-read parts of Kidd’s book this past weekend, I was reminded why I loved it so much. Her story begins in the discontent of winter, where big changes are stirring inside of her, although she is unsure how to make sense of what is happening. She goes for a walk and finds a cocoon. The metaphor of the cocoon and its significance for transformation begins a spiritual story about waiting. These are some of my favorite quotes that I’m sitting with before turning in tonight:

“Crisis, change, all the myriad upheavals that blister the spirit and leave us groping – they aren’t voices simply of pain but also of creativity. And if we would only listen, we might hear such times becoming us to a season of waiting, to the place of fertile emptiness.”

“The fullness of one’s soul evolves slowly. We’re asked to go within to gestate the newness God is trying to form; we’re asked to collaborate with grace.”

“In soul-making we can’t bypass the cocoon.”

“I had tended to view waiting as mere passivity. When I looked it up in my dictionary however, I found that the words passive and passion come from the Latin root, pati, which means “to endure.” Waiting is thus both passive and passionate. It’s a vibrant, contemplative work. It means descending into self, into God, into the deeper labyrinths of prayer. It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holds in the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely.”

“When you’re waiting, you’re not doing nothing. You’re doing the most important something there is. You’re allowing your soul to grow up. If you can’t be still and wait, you can’t become what God created you to be.”

What is Breathing Room?

I need room to breathe. What does that mean?

Breathing room: (definition) sufficient room for easy breathing or movement

 

Cancer teaches us to stop. So does birth. So does burnout.

Breathing room is not about doing, but learning to undo.

It is not about attaining, but releasing what no longer serves us.

Breathing room is not an escape, it is coming home to the soul.

“Life needs its pauses, its chapter breaks if the soul is to have space to breathe.” – Jonathan Sacks

20131213-012827.jpg 20140213-153428.jpg photo 1 (3) breathing room sunset 068

5734_1193154384065_351624_n morning walk