Bear with me. It sounds complicated, but really, it’s not.

My e-friend Bernadette Noll, who is friends of friends of my friend living in Munich, is the co-founder of the Slow Family Movement, the idea of investing time in our families instead of the activities that keep us away from them.  It is incredibly encouraging that mainstream media outlets such as yesterday’s USAToday have embraced the idea of the power of slow in so many areas of our lives.

And here’s the thing. It works.

This morning our kids were calm, centered and ready for their school week. It wasn’t only because we opted to do virtually nothing this weekend. It wasn’t only because my husband and I joined them in doing, well, nothing. It was also because the kids are firmly rooted in the understanding that we want to be with them whilst doing nothing. They built a fort out of chair and blankets, then slept under them at night. They played horse on their bikes and gathered walnuts that had fallen from our tree in the yard. They were happy just being. And it was beautiful to watch.

At the risk of sounding pious (and I really don’t mean to), you reap what you sow. And lately I’m beginning to understand what Bernadette Noll means when she says less is more for families too.

I spend a lot of time with my kids. Sometimes toooooo much time, if you know what I mean. But the truth is I wouldn’t change a thing. Their time at home is limited to a handful of years. That’s all we have before the comings and goings and laundry drop-offs begin. It is a precious time of instilling how valuable they are as human beings. If we didn’t invest time in them, what would they think about themselves and the world they inhabit? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be the one to show them the way than to leave it to chance…or television and YouTube.

Investing in your relationships, whether with children or other loved ones, is the best insurance policy life can give you. It is time well-spent, or in the eyes of Bernadette and myself, invested ~ for the future is tomorrow’s present and your time is a present too.

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Work with What You’ve Got

September 18, 2011

As autumn returns to the Northern Hemisphere, I always get extreme nesting symptoms to the beat of the descending leaves that blanket my lawn. It is also the time of year in which local communities hold children’s bazaars to earn money for schools or charity projects. In return, we get a stand somewhere on an auditorium floor to sell our kids’ old things.

“Time to batten down the hatches, mates!” I bellowed with mop in hand recently. The kids got that fearful look in their eyes.

“Oh no. Mom’s on another purging spree.”

After an entire year of toy domination in one particular part of our house, I was ready to reclaim the space as the reading nook it was meant to be (and has never been). My daughter wanted to earn some cash for a new cell phone so I asked her what skill sets she had and how she planned to earn the money to buy one. She came up with some impressive ideas, including pet sitting, baby sitting and helping around the house more. Then she eyed her most valuable toys that had done a great job gathering dust over the last twelve months.

“Let’s sell all my Playmobil stuff.” And so we set about putting all the hundreds of pieces in their right order, each belonging to a specific set, and put them on eBay. People are bidding like crazy and my daughter has well exceeded her financial goal.

“Work with what you’ve got,” I told her as we manned the bazaar booth that showcased her old clothes. She worked the people, offering fashion advice and giving away a free children’s magazine for every purchase made, no matter how small. I was quite proud of her for her slow crawl to financial freedom.

As I cast a view across the dozens of tables that overflowed with things, I realized the less we possess, the more we have.

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Celebrating Time

May 23, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Image via Wikipedia

No other time of the year is quite as remarkable as your birthday. It’s the anniversary of your coming into full being on the planet. If that’s not reason to celebrate!

The best part is when others are joyful and congratulate you for another year as the person you are. And that’s pretty darn special.

The truth is birthdays wouldn’t be possible without a team of people making sure you make it here.

And so to my mom, my dad, my sisters, the doctors and nurses on staff (not to mention the people who made sure the place was clean), I say thank you. Because without you, things wouldn’t quite have worked out as they did.

Life, from beginning to end, is a team effort.

Here’s one for the team. Thank you all for making my birthday (yesterday) a most incredibly special one. I was overwhelemd with the number of people on Facebook alone who took the time to wish me well.

Blessings to you all!

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The other day I sat down for a Skype chat with educator Kendra Delano, an expat first grade teacher living in Mexico. While she wore a sleeveless blouse, I froze in my long-sleeved Germanic garb. Such are the differing lives of two Americans living elsewhere.

As you all know, the Power of Slow was born in an ice cream parlour with a mind-boggling assortment of flavors. I made the choice to walk at the pace of an ice cream-licking three-year-old when I saw that rushing created unhappiness (not to mention indigestion!). It got me to thinking about all things time and space and child-like wonder. The next thing I knew I started to question all kinds of things, including how our contemporary pace of life isn’t sustainable.

Same Day, Different Choices is a Web site and book dedicated to teaching children (and those who love them) how to make powerful choices. We all can. At any age.

Think Sliding Doors for kids. Haven’t seen the movie? Rent it. It’s a classic demonstration of how your life can take a different twist, depending on the choices we make. In the end the truth comes out, regardless of choice. The question is, which path will you take to get there?

Fast or slow. Anger or compassion. Chocolate or vanilla. You choose.

Give my brief chat with Kendra a listen. Then let me know what you think.

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My dad occasionally sends me really cool stuff that he finds along his cybertravels. This one made me weep (I’m a sucker for Tim McGraw anyway). This young girl, Stacy Westfall, rides her horse with neither saddle nor bridle. She doesn’t speak, but gives her horse commands using her bare hands and legs.

May the power of slow embrace you with warmth and joy and remember to always live like you were dying…and, oh, this one’s for you, Dad. I love you with all my heart.

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Summer Solstice Poll

June 20, 2010

Waiting sucks. Or at least we think it to be a minor annoyance. While waiting can offer us the opportunity to savor, you task-minded folks may appreciate these tips for those places when hanging around feels more like a time drain than a dance!

Doctor’s office

Bring along thank-you and birthday cards. Write them while you are waiting.

DMV

Download a few job-related podcasts. Listen to them onto your iPod while you’re waiting in line. Take notes until your number is called.

Movie theater

Fandango.com allows you to purchase tickets for participating theaters in advance.

While you wait, bring along that magazine you never seem to find time to read. Flip through it before the lights go down. If you’re with children, play a word association game. Bring your own candy. It saves time and money!

Grocery store

Make a list. Even if you forget it, try to recreate it before entering the store. Be strategic. Most fattening foods are in the middle aisles so steer clear of them. Circle the store once, going down only those aisles that warehouse the goods you need.

Bank & post office

Practice deep breathing. As you wait in line, take in a long, five-count breath. Breathe out for six. Repeat several times.

Outlet stores

Go on an off-day (middle of the week is often good). Avoid long holiday weekend visits. Grab as much as you can without exceeding the allowed limit of items to make the dressing room wait worth it. Tag team with a girlfriend so she can bring you the appropriate garment size and color. Besides, what’s better than girl time at the mall?

Theme parks

Google it before you go. Make a list of the must-do rides and be flexible on all the rest. Bring a few snacks in your bag so you’re not spending half your day at the concession stand line. Be mindful of holidays and peak times. Avoid them if at all possible.

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