As the dust of the election starts to settle, I have found myself realizing just how distracted I have been. This year has been many things. While I have been totally grateful to be home full time with my two little ones, I realize that my mind has not been fully here. And it’s no wonder! Everything on the global and national stages have needed a lot of processing and action. Everything in the small bubble of our home has needed re-organizing, then re-re organizing to fit the demands of a new baby and the logistics of the pandemic. The result has been a lot less “presence” while I’ve been present with my children.
There is always an ebb and a flow with all our practices. Now, I feel the flow returning. I feel I have the space to re-engage with a presence practice at home. I want to invite you to join me. This is not a 14 day challenge. It is not an opportunity to judge ourselves or to add another stressor to our log list of stressors. It is not another item on the to-do list.
What it I’m offering is simply an invitation to join me in doubling down on being present while being present with our children. For February I plan to take 5 whole minutes every day to practice presence with each child. To me this simply means that when I am with my child I am doing whatever I am doing with them as a mindfulness practice. I am not making my grocery list in my mind, or planning the first thing I will do once they go to sleep, or re-organizing the play room one more time so that now that my son can stand it is still baby proof. I am not unloading the dishwasher or making dinner or watering the plants. Those things do need doing. But for 10 minutes each day (5 for each child), I plan NOT to do them. But simply to breathe. Breathe and just be. Together.
The practice will be to really let the fullness of my child enter into my awareness the way I would focus on the breath or on the sensations of a pose in my yoga or meditation practice.
When I was a teacher I did this regularly for each of my students. So many gifts came from simply giving my full presence to a child. I’m excited to begin cultivating those gifts in my home again with my own children.
If you need a reason to double down on presence, here are a few. You will benefit your own wellbeing. This is basically a mindfulness moment and you can expect similar benefits as you would from any mindfulness practice. You will benefit your relationship with your child. When we are present with each other, we are finally, really connecting. And connection is the birthplace of everything meaningful in a relationship. You will benefit your child. Your full positive attention is the most important “nutrient” you ever can give them.
If you feel to write me and let me know you are in – awesome! I would love to know you are practicing with me though we are apart. If you don’t write, but do still engage even every once in a while in this practice… still awesome. We do what we can do! We are in this together!
It’s crazy that I haven’t posted anything for nearly 4 months! I’m sad to have slacked here – but it is for good reason. Let me tell you what I’ve been busy with that has kept me from blogging.
I’m writing a book. OK, well, my daughter and I are writing it together. It is a book about doing yoga with your 2-6 year old. This picture is from the amazing photo shoot that we did this summer. We had 9 local families participate. It’ll be a book helping folks engage with their littlest ones in a way that is safe, fun and health promoting 🙂 So many of my “writing hours” have been and will continue to go to that this year. If you know you want a first round copy of this you can donate on my gofundme page that we made to help cover the costs of doing this right. There is more information on the gofundme page. Yes, you’ll be the first to know when it is in print!
I’ve also been spending some time building a youtube channel(OlyndaYoga) full of short and long and easy and challenging videos for you to pick from. These videos are really for you to practice with. Many of the videos I’ve seen on line look really pretty, but don’t have very much (or any) alignment mentioned. My videos are instructional videos that I’ve made with an eye towards keeping you safe, inspired and connected in your practice even when you need to practice at home. It feels great to give you the ability to practice more, and to connect in this way.
With most of my creative energy and time going into these outlets I may be posting to the blog only intermittently. To stay connected, I’ve started a Instagram account where I plan to be posting regularly. You can follow me there at OlyndaYoga. And you can always sign up for my monthly newsletter if you don’t already get it.
A few weeks ago I found myself, mouth wide open, trying to be patient while the sweet dental hygienist cleaned my teeth. I was focusing on my breathing and being as yogic as I could. Then it happened, I heard this thought, “I don’t have time for this!” There it was. Dental cleaning isn’t exactly what I think of when I think of self-care. But, it is pretty necessary for healthy teeth. And here I was, deciding I didn’t have time to do something that was necessary for my health!
I realized that so often that voice pops up when I would love to sit and slowly drink a cup of tea. It comes up sometimes (gasp) when my daughter wants to pretend we are going on a voyage to return the heart of Te Fiti. I realized that I am in fact rushing through a lot of my own self – care so that I can get on to more “important” things.
We know this. I don’t need to find fancy studies to show you how much better EVERYTHING is when we take care of ourselves. I have time for teeth cleanings, because I don’t have time for major dental work if I can avoid it. I have time to play with my daughter because I don’t have time to regret being to busy to enjoy her. I have time to do my practice, because I don’t have time to be frazzled, distracted and in pain.
But I know I need help. We all do. If we aren’t doing a self -care practice on purpose, it is unlikely to just happen.
For this Mother’s day Month I want to double down on self-care, and I hope you’ll join me. Here is what we are going to do:
1) Make a list of things that are truly nourishing to you – walks in the woods, tea with friends, doodling, dancing, singing, getting sleep… etc.
2) Make time to do at least one of these things EVERY DAY for the rest of May. I plan to start on the 7th of May. That gives us time to plan all that pampering in. Also, it still gives us long enough to really get a good habit started! If something each day is too radical (at the moment) for you, try every other day. You set your own goal! These don’t have to be long moments. A ten minute meditation will do just fine. Yes, your yoga practice counts! These just need to be moments that are all for you. Moments that are pure pleasure and nourishment.
3) Inspire us all, and hold yourself accountable by posting what you did that day on my FB page. I’ll post for that day and you can post your self-care goodness in the comments for that day 🙂
4) Have FUN, and notice what all that self-care is amounting to!
I’m not sure how this happened, but our family has planned two big trips involving air travel this month. As I write this we are right between the two journeys. Since I’ve been contemplating travel with my 4 year old. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned (mostly from other parents!). Please leave me your tips in the comment section! My hope, as always, is to increase ease and connection on these trips – and to decrease meltdowns, frustrations, and unhealthy behaviors. Here are my 7 tips:
In November I flew by myself for the first time in 5 years. I read the entire new Brene Brown Book, wrote in my journal and had revelations about my yoga practice while I gazed at the clouds. It was awesome. I don’t have to tell you that traveling with a baby, a preschooler or an older child (or all three!) is not the same scenario. If I manage my expectations about what the flight will be like I’m much less likely to be frustrated, and much more likely to feel great about spending the time in the air doing things together with my little one.
It’s worth the pay off to manage your little one’s expectations as well. You can read books about airplane travel or even better “play” airport and airplane by acting out the travel experience before you go. This gives our smallest children the chance to be prepared for the big travel day. Include, waiting in line, keeping belts bucked when the light is on, waiting for luggage etc.
Because of the great body of evidence that screen time is bad for our kids, we try to travel screen less. If you would like a great even-handed look at screen time and your child’d brain, check out Parenting in the Age of Attention Snatchers by Lucy Jo Palladino. It’s profound. So, what do you do with kids, if they aren’t attached to a movie or game? It is a bit of a lost art, but there is actually a ton of things you can do. You just need to pack for it. Here are some things we always have in our carry-on these days:
New books from the library,
pictures or information about where you are going
Sticker books, these ones are great.
Activity books of any kind
silly putty, or small containers of play dough
snacks that require some processing (clementines, pistachios etc.)
I tend to be on the look out for this kind of a thing year round. I keep a “for travel” bag tucked away out of sight so we always have some good stuff in store when we travel. The sale area in target often has some great things. I also love the Melissa and Doug on the go items. If you live in the Triangle, the Red Hen in University Mall in Chapel Hill has a ton of great stuff.
My advice is to not open any of these until you are on the flight. No need to do any of this in the airport! There is so much to do – including running, spinning and stretching since those little bodies will need to be still for so long in the air! Also, don’t forget to have enough so there will be some new things on the way home! The picture above is what I had in my carry on for one four year old to do during two two hour flights.
If you are flying for a long time, like over 6 hours, maybe a Mr. Rogers in there or two is not a bad idea. But keep in mind that you can do lots of other things together! Screen time does not have to be the default!
You can spend several hours just playing together! Tic tac toe, I spy, and even rock paper scissors are great ways to connect while having this blessing of unplanned time to spend together.
One game that has gotten our family through many car trips is “I’m thinking of an Animal.” To play, one person thinks of an Animal, the other people playing have to ask yes or no questions of that player until someone guesses it right. Then that person has a turn. Alternatively you can take turns being the person thinking of the animal. My daughter never tires of this game. We also play “I’m thinking of a thing.” Any thing! And “I’m thinking of a plant.” The variations are endless!
Another possibility is the memory game. Take four or 5 of any objects and put them on the tray table. Have your child investigate them. Then have them close their eyes or turn around. Take one object away. They have to guess which one has been taken! This is a great memory builder, and a great vocabulary builder!! And it’s fun. If it is too easy, try more objects. For advanced players, instead of taking an object away you can switch the order of the objects and then the player has to put them back in order.
Give your child healthy snacks that give him the sustenance to make it through a long travel day. That means plenty of protein. Nuts, cheeses, beef jerky, edamame are all great choices. Try to avoid empty calories like crackers, and for sure do him the kindness of keeping all sugars our of his body for the trip! You can’t give him fruit juice, flavored yogurt, white chocolate pretzels and then expect him to sit quietly for the flight!
I flew a lot as a child. I remember spending hours just looking at the clouds. Take a moment to explore this world with your child. Talk about what you see in the airplane and also out the window. Get curious together about everything!
I always add an extra 30 minutes or so to what I think I need to get through the airport. IT can be the difference between a delightful ramble to our gate with lots of conversation and curiosity and a meltdown on top of major frustration. Kids are little, they just need more time to get places. And we want them to take the time to investigate and be curious!
In your carry on, pack twice as much food and activities then you think you will need. Now a days, it’s a blessing if you get anywhere without delays!
Springtime is here! This is a time of year for splashing in puddles and getting fresh air in your home. It is also a time that is vital for good clean eating. In Ayrveda, this is the time of year for cleansing. Instead of fasting, a great way to support the body is to eat easily digestible nutrient – dense foods. This is my new favorite meal that fits both those requirements while also being * delicious * and easy to prepare.
I’ll admit, that we actually eat this meal about once a week in our home – year round. It’s taken the place of the mac n cheese night. It is actually just as easy as mac n cheese from a box – but insanely healthier. This is a mash up of two slightly altered recipes from different Ayurveda cookbooks. The Kichadi recipie is an amended version of one in A Life of Balance: The Complete Guide to Ayurvedic Nutrition & Body Types With Recipes by Maya Tiwari. The Pressed Greens and dressing is inspired by The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook by Kate O’Donnell. Both amazing books. The first better if you really want to geek out on Ayurveda as a whole. The second has amazing recipes and great background on why they work.
Yes! There is a high chance your kids will eat this! My daughter loves the kichadi and asks for it all the time. She doesn’t love the texture of the Pressed Greens, so I usually make her a fresh kale salad. You may want to substitute plain butter for ghee if your kids don’t love the taste of ghee. My little one is four and a half (already!) and we have used this meal in particular to talk about nutrient dense foods. She loved learning the phrase “nutrient dense”. I told her it was a fancy way of saying healthy. We then went on a hunt through the kitchen looking for “nutrient dense” foods. This can be a fun way to teach your kids what foods really feed them and which are empty nutritionally. Make a pile on the kitchen table of all the “nutrient dense” foods you can find! Or make a list together! Greens, berries, beans, eggs, nuts, carrots…. delicious!
1 cup rice – basmati is traditionally used, I use an organic white rice that I can get from Costco
1/2 cup – Organic Mung Dhal
5 cups – water or more as needed
1/2 teaspoon – Turmeric powder
Ghee or butter
Start by rinsing the rice and mung beans till the water runs clear. I put them all in a strainer and run water through while massaging (and being massaged by) the beans and rice. Put these in a pot with the water and turmeric bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer and wait till rice/beans are tender. You can add the ghee and butter to your serving once it’s in your bowl.
A mixture of greens
Here is what I do. I buy 2-3 kinds of fresh greens: kale, chard, bok choy, dandelion greens or spinach and I take out the stems if appropriate and chop them up. The I take however many carrots I’m in the mood for – lets say 1 cup of chopped carrots. Sometimes I add in Red cabbage. I put about 5 cups of all these veggies in a big pot with 2- 3 Tbs of water over medium heat with a lid on. I stir every few minutes. After 10 minutes they are done!
Olive or Safflower or Sunflower oil.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a jar, then add that same amount of oil. Add a little salt, cover and shake.
In a pretty bowl, spoon out some kichedi, top with veggies, pour some dressing on top, add a dollop of butter or ghee and you have a yummy, nutrient dense, easy to digest meal. We like to add pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, goat cheese, cultured veggies… whatever we can find!
Let me know if you try this out and how you like it! What are you doing differently?