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Archive for the ‘motherhood’ Category

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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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:

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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.

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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.

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“Most of us are used to, and conditioned to doing something. Wants nothing time is different, more a time for taking in and waiting. We fully accept the infants’ beingness just by our own receptive beingness. Our presence is telling the child that we are really there and aware.”  -Magda Gerber

We have been talking about cultivating periods of wants nothing time in our baby group the past few weeks. Wants nothing is a beautiful thing for a recovering over-doer. I always want something, and in the rare moments when both children are simultaneously occupied, I’m anxiously thinking about what needs to be done. Maybe this is why wants nothing time feels like a paradox to me.

The premise of wants nothing is creating space with our children by simply being present. We might observe them while they play on the floor, or sitting on a blanket under a tree. My group started to think of wants nothing time in our individual family routines. I became uncomfortable as my mind scanned the 12+ waking hours I am with my children trying to think of when I didn’t want something from them: (which excludes daily routines like diapering, feeding, bathing, etc.). Did my walks around the block count? Probably not, there was a purpose – either dropping off or picking up my son from  pre-school, and trying to get children to nap in the afternoons.

I came up with two instances of “wants nothing” time: sitting on my meditation chair in the circle of the baby group watching my daughter and the other babies for 30 – 40 minutes without interruption. This is where I discovered her essence; watching her hunt down the same red car every session and commando crawl around the room until she found it, delighted to chew on the foamy wheels. I watch her watch everything. She’s an observer who takes it all in, and I wonder if “wants nothing” time will come much easier to her than it does to her distracted-doing mama.

I also switch into “wants nothing” time at the beach. There is something mentally spacious about sitting on a blanket and watching the kids play in the sand. It’s my reminder to make more space for these moments which I cherished as a mother of one, but easily forget now considering two children’s needs. The beach grants me permission to unplug and turn off the doing. It is here I want nothing from these little people releasing any agenda about how our time together may unfold, (except maybe to return home without sunburns).

I took lots of pictures

magic wands

 

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Wants nothing time isn’t just about babies and children though. What would our relationships look like if we gave that presence and expansiveness to friends, our family, co-workers, and strangers? Are we capable of being in others’ presence just for the beauty and joy of being with them, without any expectation?

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Today I went to Barnes and Noble. This was my first trip to a Barnes and Noble since October (the closest one is 25 miles away). In my former life, I would hunt down Barnes and Nobles whenever I got an unexpected break in my day. After becoming a mom, there was no greater joy than sitting in the cafe with a stack of books and magazines, knowing I could never possibly digest the goodies in front of me in the short amount of time I often discovered.

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I am truly a kid in a candy shop at Barnes and Noble. A friend just posted this, and I can so relate.

book worm

I would take books over shoes any day.

But back to my books today, I was really called to explore some of the conversations coming up around motherhood. Maybe because I’m so enmeshed in it right now. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling extra pressure like I have to “get it right” since I started facilitating a parenting group, occasionally feeling like a fraud because I only get it right 30% of the time myself. Maybe it’s because I’m going through Mama Bliss Coaching school right now, and taking a course on Creating Magical Days with my children, but feel guilty for the need to escape them in order to create. I imagined myself writing and creating with children in tow, and now that they are here, I’m spending my time away from them looking for answers in the mindful-parenting book stacks of Barnes and Noble instead of in their presence.

I skimmed through all of the books on my table, but the one which spoke to me the most was Heather Shumaker’s It’s Okay Not to Share. It’s a revolutionary approach to parenting I became familiar with last year when my son was 2.5 years old and we had just moved to Ojai. I enrolled him in the toddler class at the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center, just wanting to establish a routine and get out of the house for a few hours in the morning so my husband could work in peace, and my son would take a good afternoon nap. I never expected to learn anything in a parenting group, thinking I had it all together working with children 0 -3 years old for the past 10 years.

(The universe has a funny way of playing practical jokes on the people who need it most).

The lessons I’ve received are really big, as in life changing kinds of things not only to how I parent, but releasing the need to please others and control a situation. (HUGE for me!) *I need to put a caveat here – I still manage to get it wrong more times than I probably get it right, although my awareness is growing. I’m aware of what happens to my insides when my son has a meltdown over sharing. I’m more adept at holding big toddler emotions without getting sucked into them. I sit back and wait when the urge to fix arises allowing my son to come up with solutions.

Many of the issues with parenting come back to a feeling of being judged. Is that other mother waiting for my son to apologize? What do family members think of me as a parent when my son melts down and I don’t punish him? I am not only aware of his prickly emotions, but mine too. I notice my thoughts before going into an automatic reaction mode. This self awareness in regards to parenting has been eye opening and continues to be a work in progress as I continue to grow into motherhood with its ever-changing seasons.

I wanted to give you a sneak preview of the book I found most interesting: It’s Okay Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Compassionate and Competent Kids. I loved the different chapters outlined as 29 lessons which truly spoke to my parenting questions.

1. Don’t steal play.

2. It’s okay if it’s not hurting people or property.

3. Kids need conflict.

4. All feelings are okay, but behavior isn’t.

5. Let kids hit and kick.

6. I hate you is nothing personal.

7. Take dictation from your tot.

8. Go ahead and let him hate the baby.

9. It’s okay not to share.

10. Let her hog that toy all day.

11. We’re not all friends here.

12. You can’t play – A-ok.

13. Hang up a No Girls sign.

14. Take rejection in stride.

15. Ban chairs, not tag.

16. Give kids power.

17. Only punch friends.

18. Bombs, guns, and bad guys allowed.

19. Boys can wear tutus.

20. Pictures don’t have to be pretty.

21. Paint off the paper.

22. Stop saying good job.

23. Kids don’t have to say sorry.

24. Let your kid swear.

25. Love your kid’s lies.

26. Sex ed starts in preschool.

27. Be buddies with dead birds.

28. Make some enemies at the playground.

29. Goof up.

Are there some on the list which resonate more with you? I’d love to hear so I can narrow down this list rather than writing 29 more blog posts on this topic: ) On a side note, I am excited to be 22 days into my 30 day blogging love affair. So many lessons have come up over the past 3 weeks which are creating something else in the making…

 

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My son wants so much. “Hold my hand! Carry me mama!” he whines as he sees the playground a football field away.

I want him to run there on his own. I want his independence. I am all touched- out, with my arms temporarily free of the 10-month old baby I’m normally holding. I worry my back will give out. My energy is depleted. I did not have coffee today and I’m cranky. I think I could have adrenal fatigue and send out an S.O.S. to all of my nutritious friends for organically green recipes. I am running on empty.

“Oh Ev,” I say as he throws himself on the field in a mini-meltdown. The other children are running around him. Some are older, some are his age. They don’t need their parents to carry them, but he insists.

I pick him up. We move slowly as he clutches onto me.

My healthy friends respond to my adrenal fatigue cries: rest and water, eggs, avocados, sweet potatoes, and green smoothies. I drink some more water. I feel like I could sleep all day. When we come home, I nap with him falling asleep for more than 2 hours. I wake up disoriented. The sun is setting and I’m waking up. Thank God for Sundays and the reminder to rest. 

Tonight we continue to move slowly. My husband makes a chicken vegetable soup. I drink more water. I read him the Wizard of Oz. I lie down with him and remind myself I’ll be wishing for him to ask me to carry him, to lie down with him, and to read him The Wizard of Oz (again). Pretty soon he think he’s too old, he’ll want to be independent, and I’ll remember today.

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A year ago today we left New Jersey for Ojai. We had a layover in Las Vegas (not recommended when traveling with a toddler who can’t stay away from slot machines). My son was chased by the gaming officials, knowing I couldn’t run after him at 31 weeks pregnant. Life was full of adventure and possibility after relinquishing control embracing the journey into the unknown. Tempted to post: “California or BUST!”  I remained silent virtually, thinking a woman in her 3rd trimester with a doctor’s note to let me on board should not tempt fate.

When we arrived in Ojai late that night, there was a feeling of finally being home. We were welcomed by little things my in-laws left (which felt like such big things) having been unsettled since Hurricane Sandy.

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We had been in Ojai a few months before, the same week Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast ravishing Breezy Point, where were living at the time. When we packed for our trip to Ojai in October, I never expected not to return to Breezy Point. It was surreal returning in late November to grab a few belongings witnessing the devastation and life stopping in an instant. My son’s colored teddy bears were on the nightstand beside his bed. The plastic jack-o-lantern remained in the window which my mom bought to entertain Evan and give the house a Halloween flair. There were clues of our life before, erased like the tides.

While I was in Ojai, I learned of the fires over social media. Never really understanding Twitter, I was glued to the page as news about #breezypoint was unraveling before news stations could report. I spent the night fearing the worst to the people in a community I loved for the past 34 years as images of a 5, 6, and 7 alarm fire rang through my mind in areas I knew like the back of my hand. We had only been in Ojai for four days when Hurricane Sandy hit. I watched CNN constantly, in disbelief when familiar faces were being interviewed. I wasn’t sure where we would go when we returned, touched by the kindness of people who reached out inviting us into their homes.

Ultimately, it was a call for change sooner than planned. If not for Hurricane Sandy and that period of uncertainty, I don’t know that we would have made it here. The period between February and June of last year was precious. It was a time of nesting, redefining ourselves as a family, birthing, and community building, to see if this was where we belonged. My husband and I wistfully spoke of returning to California every winter, but there was always something. The further we settled into our New Jersey lives, the harder it became to think about leaving. We had big conversations, realizing we could choose our journey and design our life around our growing young family. I wanted to experiment before Evan was school-age, or feared living with regret. There were strong urges to let go and release our belongings to lighten the load, just as powerful as the urge to nest overcame me in the last days of pregnancy. I trusted things would work out, and ultimately leaped.

I spoke to a friend who I met a year ago (this week). She has been on a similar journey, leaving her corporate job behind in Massachusetts to follow her creative calling and moving to Santa Barbara. When we spoke last night, it was her 4-year anniversary. There is significance in honoring anniversaries, especially ones for the resilient spirit. There is power in honoring the part of ourselves that is scared and called. There is power in acknowledging gratitude for the way life has turned out, bigger and richer than my controlled, practical, and planning mind would conceive. Anniversaries remind us of who we were and where we have gone. There is power in honoring a journey that is now a written chapter of life.

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