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how to find peace this holiday season

finding center
I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.

~ Confucious

Thank you for being here!  I hope you are enjoying some nice family time and a happy holiday weekend (for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving).

Not sure how you feel about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but I’m kind of tired of the emails, the commercials and the ads that are fighting for my attention and trying to get me to buy, buy, buy, more, more, more!

There is just so much NOISE out there
And sometimes, I find that the constant distractions in the world make me feel cloudy, stressed, confused and even lost. Do you ever feel this way?

Life throws a lot at us. It’s quite easy to get knocked off center again and again and again. And I’m seeing that part of the practice in mindful living is learning how to get back there, because it’s in this peaceful, present moment space where your pure love, JOY and contentment are always within reach.

Not outside…but within.

So what exactly does it mean to find center?

Your very essence – who you really are – is at your center. When you find center, it’s like going to the place where you feel at home. It’s when you feel most present. It’s when you feel in the flow. It’s where you feel…peace.

Making a connection each day to this inner place will remind you what matters most in your life.
When you get distracted and stressed and overwhelmed, it’s important to have awareness of your center – and know how to get back there.

Whether you are full of joy during the holidays, or they bring you dread, it’s all too easy to get swept away by outward pressures to be more, do more, buy more, and give more. When we fight feelings of not doing or being enough, it’s almost inevitable we’ll end up over-committing or over-eating or over-spending to feel better in the short term.

Finding center and remembering what matters most is about being a part of life, but not getting consumed by it.

We can go to the mall or buy gifts for friends and family, without spending our grocery money. We can create a “to do” list and set intentions to make gifts, but we can also be realistic that we can’t do it all. We can indulge in sweets and the fun food of the season without bursting at the seams and feeling sick afterwards. We can volunteer and be of service without sacrificing our own needs. We can say “no” and let go of “shoulds” and feel ok with not over-doing-it, because we come from a grounded place of love and peace (not a confusing place led by regret, worry and fear).

This is what happens when you stay connected to center.

The more you become aware of your center, and recognize what knocks you off or triggers you, the easier it is to get back to a more grounded, compassionate place. It’s this connection to center that helps you feel an inner peace, when the anxiety and overwhelm creep in. It’s this connection to center that allows you to feel more calm, even when the outer world is seemingly moving at lightening speed.

It’s this connection to center that reminds you how to love and how to be kind – to others AND to yourself.
Be kind to yourself this holiday season.

Eliminate the noise.
Slow down.
Find stillness.
Connect to your center.
Free your spirit.
Love yourself.
Change your life.

I appreciate you deeply…

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Interested in learning tools & techniques on how to stay connected to your center?

Join us for Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery!

Learn how to listen to and trust your intuition, and how to cultivate the courage you need to live out your inner dreams so you can be yourself and create a life you love living every single day.
Visit HERE for all the details.

You will receive a FREE Inside Out audio book at the end of our course just for signing up!

(Gift certificates available and past Inside Out grads get a discount.)

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savoring the simple every day moments & i love happy

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I’m sitting in a coffee shop for the first time – ALONE – in like…forever it seems.

Signs I’m a stay-at-home-work-occasionally-mom:

*I am happy just sitting at this table with my HOT cup of coffee…doing absolutely nothing.
(Well, I am people watching, eavesdropping on conversations around me, and occasionally staring off into space and feeling amazed that no one is asking me to do something for them.)

I opened up my laptop to find the screen covered in sticky fingerprints.

*I turned on Pandora and found it was left on The Little Mermaid station.
(And I actually listened to it far too long before I even noticed.)

*I am so super efficient in 3 hours with a paid babysitter on duty.
I’ve already vacuumed and washed the car (every time I swear no more granola bars and cereal!), went shoe shopping (first time in 2 years!), and have another full hour to write and like I said before – be ALONE without interruptions (hooray for these moments).

i-love-happy1 Before I get back to staring off into space, I want to remind you that my free I Love Happy Art Journaling Challenge for moms starts Monday!

I know many of you are thinking – I don’t have time for this.

Believe me, I feel the same way.

What was I thinking? Bringing tons of moms together from around the world to add yet another thing to our already full plates?!

That’s just it. I wasn’t thinking when planning this.
I was letting my heart lead the way.

My heart KNOWS how much I need to slow down and make space to nurture my creativity.
And my heart KNOWS how much YOU need it to.

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This challenge is SUPER SIMPLE.
I’ll be sharing a few prompts, inspiration and ideas on Facebook.

(For those of you who don’t use Facebook, I will email you short notes throughout the week so you will still get the prompts, too. Most of the sharing will happen on our private Mothering with heART Facebook page, but you do not have to join FB to participate.)

For those of you on Facebook, make sure you have joined our Mothering with heART community.

You can do these very simple art journaling exercises with your kids. OR you can fit them in during those rare 10 minutes when they are distracted or asleep!

GO HERE to learn more and to enter your email address to join us.

Life is zooming by.
It’s time to take a step back.
To reflect on what’s working and what isn’t.
To embrace the mess.
To celebrate imperfections.

To savor the simple everyday moments.
And to see and feel and LOVE the happy going on in our lives right here and NOW.

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i love happy art journaling challenge (& podcast #3)

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I had an amazing day yesterday.

I spent the morning at the farmer’s market with my boys, then took my 3-year-old to gymnastics. Both boys took a long nap at the same time (which never happens) and I listened to a podcast and got really inspired about some new creative business ideas.

Later, the kids played together after we picked up my 6-year-old from school. I made butternut squash soup and roasted beet salad for dinner.

Everyone was in a great mood.

Of course, it’s not always like this. But yesterday, everything just seemed to flow.

After dinner we went on a family walk in the woods and around our neighborhood lake. I was walking a little faster then the boys and at one point I just stopped to watch them. The sun was setting. The lake was still. The temperature was perfect. The baby on my back was waving to his daddy and brothers and in that moment I felt completely elated. Peaceful, really.

It was a moment of pure bliss…joy…HAPPINESS.

And then I thought, “I never want this moment to end.”

For a few seconds my mind started freaking out as it tried to grasp time and space.

I caught myself.
Took a breath.
Returned to the moment.
Simply watched the boys walk up the hill.
Listened to the sweet sound of their voices.
Felt complete gratitude in my heart.
And soaked it up.

My mind tried to hold on to what felt like a perfect moment to keep it forever.

But we know that’s impossible. Life is ever changing. It’s all so temporary. So to try to grasp and cling and hold on to any moment sets us up for potential sadness, disappointment or anxiety.

The practice is to see the happy in the every day moments of life.

To appreciate them. To feel them deeply. To not miss all the beauty and joy that is happening around us all the time.

 

Life is a gift.

YOUR life is a gift.

To celebrate this gift called life, I’m hosting a challenge this October to inspire us all to slow down and see the happy in our crazy, busy days.
Please join me for the FREE I Love Happy Art Journaling Challenge for Moms (moms-to-be and grandmothers, too) in October.

Together, for two weeks, we will celebrate the special every day moments of happy in our day, while we nurture our creativity and connect more deeply with our intuition and inner wisdom.

VISIT HERE to watch the new Mothering with heART video podcast #3 for more details about this fun, free art journaling challenge!

To join the challenge, click the link below:

Yes! Sign me up to join moms from around the world for the I Love Happy Art Journaling Challenge!

Hug your loved ones.
Stop gripping the past.
Stop reaching for the future.

And see your happy right here and NOW.

I appreciate you.

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mothering with heart podcast #2 (& winner announced)

Today I’m sharing my newest Mothering with heART video podcast.

This episode touches on the topic of slowing down, self-care and knowing when you’re reaching your breaking point.

These videos are simply a glimpse of my personal reflections in the moment. They are unedited, unscripted, unplanned…baby babbling and nature sounds in the background for your added pleasure.

I hope you find this video journal inspiring. Share with me! Subscribe to my new Youtube channel, post a comment or email me privately.

And check my A Free Spirit Life Facebook page to see the winner of one month of e-coaching with me (more details about my monthly life-coaching services coming soon). Thanks to all of you who filled out a survey. If you’d still like to share your ideas, visit the link below.

Mothering with heART Survey 
I appreciate you deeply.
Take care of yourself today…and always.
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Your Personal Reflection:

Do you have a morning ritual that supports your needs? How can you nurture and take good care of yourself to feel more balance in your daily life? Do you know what truly nurtures your soul?

Take some time this week to notice how you feel. Slow down. Find a moment of stillness and check in with your body. Do you feel tension in your head, neck or shoulders? Some nervousness in your stomach? Are you feeling healthy and vibrant or a little run down? Notice those feelings – without judgment. Be kind to yourself. Simply listen to what they are trying to tell you. Journal about it!

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mothering with heart video podcast #1 – facing fears

Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.

                 ~ C. JoyBell C.

Hey there!

Talk about facing fear…

I’m jumping right in with this whole video podcast journaling thing and I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s always a vulnerable feeling putting yourself out there.

But here it goes.

I feel the desire to speak directly to you. To connect with YOU on a deeper level. Will you join me?

Subscribe to my New Youtube channel and see my first Mothering with heART Podcast.

Let me know what you think.

Do you have questions you’d like me to talk about? 
Share your ideas and thoughts with me! I’m happy to address your questions in my next video. Simply leave a comment or email me directly.

There is still time to fill out my new Mothering with heART survey! You will be entered to win one month of life coaching with me if you are interested. (I’ll pick a winner next week.)
Visit HERE to share your thoughts – it’s short – I promise!

Happy weekend!

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Your Personal Reflection:

What are you afraid of?
How can you let that fear help move you towards your creative dreams?

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balancing motherhood, new youtube channel & your chance to win coaching

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This photo pretty much summarizes what I’ve been doing since unplugging back in June.

Summer is officially over and 1st grade is in full swing. I’ll admit, the first few weeks of our new school routine felt like a shocking jolt to our little family unit. We had a full and relaxing summer. And then the first day of school came at the reluctance of my 6-year-old, which resulted in lots of tears, resistance and meltdowns (from me too).

As I saw all the darling new school photos on Facebook, I joked with my husband that our “first day of school” photo was my oldest son hiding under a blanket!

Now that we are back in the groove and my little guy has been not only warming up to school, but actually getting excited to go, my anxiety level has lessened considerably, too. (Wow, that “mama bear gene” can get activated during times like these.)

I’m feeling excited and ready to get back to some of my creative e-courses and new online offerings yet to come!

And I need your help.

Please take just a few minutes to fill out the following survey and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win one month of free email life-coaching with me.

I need you because I’m creating some new experiences just for YOU. And only YOU know what you really need in this stage of your life. Please share with me!

Click HERE to fill out this very short Mothering with heART survey.

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New Free Spirit TV Youtube Channel Coming Soon

I stay home with 3 little boys full-time.

And my heart has to be creative – outside my life as “mom”. I have to continue my A Free Spirit Life creative business in the midst of this crazy life of motherhood.

Join me as I experiment with sharing a new video journal about my journey as a mother, and how we can – together – continue supporting each other to mother with courage, compassion and creativity.

Visit HERE to subscribe to my new free channel.

Happy day!

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Mama Bliss is… (& podcast interview)

I’m so honored to be invited to participate in The Mama Bliss Is Blog Tour hosted by Kathy Stowell of Bliss Beyond Naptime.  The Mama Bliss Is Blog Tour is helping to spread the word about the importance of mothers tending to their self-care and creative practices first while addressing overwhelm in healthy and creative ways.

(I was also a recent guest on Kathy’s wonderful Bliss Beyond Naptime Podcast.  Listen to it HERE.)

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I just spent the last 5 days with one of my dearest friends.  It’s that timeless friendship that picks up right where it left off, no matter the distance or space between visits.  We met as newbie freshman in college and now our lives have expanded to include our husbands and our 5 boys. Together during our past visit we enjoyed lots of downtime, dancing in the rain, nature walks, good food, laughter, bonfire and s’mores, and catching fireflies, among other summer fun.

What I was reminded of this past week is that deep, intimate friendships with other women are vital on our journey as mothers.  Being a mom is overwhelming at times.  A good, authentic friendship gives you a sounding board, someone to relate to, and the inspiration and support that is so needed on this mothering journey.  Good friendships remind you that you aren’t alone, that you CAN make it through the rough times, and that there is so much goodness and beauty to celebrate.

Today I’m sharing a glimpse of our week together and what mama bliss is to me.

In this moment, Mama Bliss is slowing down, being together, connecting deeply and loving fully.  Mama Bliss is about embracing the simple, every day moments of life.
Mama Bliss is…

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…old and new friendships.

Mama Bliss is…

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…countless hours of PLAY on lazy summer days.

Mama Bliss is…

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…seeing the boys grow and face fears (especially with daddy).

Mama Bliss is…

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…long walks and exploring in nature.

Mama Bliss is…

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…collecting heart rocks with this sweet boy (something we both love doing together).

Mama Bliss is…

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…his wonder and ever-growing curiosity.

Mama Bliss is…

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…his first year of life (messes and all).

Mama Bliss is…

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…the pure joy of BEING together.

Mama Bliss is…

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…finding stillness to be alone to connect to that place deep within me that knows what truly matters most.

Whether it’s through friendship and community, playing and being in the moment, finding stillness or getting out in nature, Mama Bliss for me is about stepping out of my head and into my heart, and being more present in my daily life.

Mama Bliss is trusting that my life as a mother is unfolding in its own imperfect, beautiful way.

What does Mama Bliss mean to you?

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how reaching for something unattainable makes you crazy

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They are playing quietly.  Maybe, just maybe, I could sneak in the art room for a few minutes.  Just a few…I’ll do anything.  Print some photos for the baby book.  Start writing a blog post.  Listen to MY music.  Drink hot coffee…alone.

Anything.  Just something that I love doing, without interruption, for a few treasured minutes.

And yet, they know.
They always know.
When I sit down with that piping hot coffee and a dream to have a moment to myself, they know.

And my minute of excitement that it might just happen is gone as the oldest boy bursts through the doorway.

“Mom, I’m hungry.  What can I have?”  Didn’t I just clean up breakfast like 5 freakin minutes ago?

I hear the middle boy yell from the living room, “Mom, I want to play trains.  Can you get them for me?”  Seriously? There are already a billion toys all over the house.  And you want to get yet ANOTHER thing out?!

I feel the resistance in my body.  The gripping in my mind.  The frustration that the hope of stealing those few quiet – desperately needed – moments of “freedom” to do what I want to do…is gone.

I take a deep breath.  I let it out.  And for the millionth time, I let it go.  I think, I’ll get to it later.  Maybe I won’t be tired after they go to bed. Maybe my husband won’t be working late again this week.  Maybe my babysitter is free another day. 

The paintings to paint, the blog posts to write, the monsters to knit, the photo books to update…sit in my art room waiting for another day.

I help the older boy find snacks and I bring up the wooden train set for the middle boy.  He asks me to help him set up “the biggest train track ever” and just as we finish it he says, “I want to do a puppet show.”

And my coffee is cold.

It’s now lunchtime and I’m hungry and I hear the baby crying on the monitor.  Naptime is over and I try making lunch while wrestling a wild monkey boy who just wants to destroy everything in his wake.

And of course I let him because it’s easier that way.  Until after lunch I look around at the devastation only to find every pot and pan pulled out, all the plastic ABC’s spread across the floor and food…so much food…on the floor, on the wall and in his ears, neck and bellybutton.

Is it bedtime yet?

We clean up lunch and get ready for rest time.  All the while the talking and the questions and the story-telling continues at a non-stop pace.

I hear…”Mommy, why is it called an avocado?  Watch Buzz Light Year fly.  Is it going to rain today?  Are you watching?  Look what I can do.  Tell me about ice molecules.  Why does it rain? Why are there people?  Why are toots so funny?”…all in the matter of one minute.

And that’s how kids are…non-stop.

And that’s how life is…non-stop.

And yet, I know.
I always know (even when I forget).

That life with children may keep on going – sometimes at rapid speed – but that doesn’t mean I have to.
I can stop.  I can slow down.  And I can get a grip on my racing, resisting mind that wants the moment to be different.

I can find peace NOW.
I can feel contentment NOW.
I can experience joy NOW.

That’s what these kids are teaching me.  It’s ok to want moments alone in my art room.  In fact, for me to feel grounded, I NEED it.  And making space for the things that recharge my soul help me be a more present mother and a happier person.

I can get on the floor and play trains with the boys – and actually have fun doing it – when my mind stops gripping for something else.

I can answer all the questions and laugh more and stop being so dang serious, because my boys (toots and all) help me do that every day.

I can integrate my love of art, journaling and yoga with my mothering by doing these things with and alongside my children.

I can take breaks away from them to do what fills up my heart and enriches my soul.

And so can you.

Accept where YOU are in this moment.

Accept what stage of life you are in.

Listen to the messages in your heart.

What are you craving?  What quiet whispers do you hear?

Remember, it’s ok to want change.  It’s fabulous to start taking those steps towards the change you wish to see in your life.

But stop gripping.  Stop resisting.  Stop reaching for something unattainable, it will make you crazy.

For me, it’s an unattainable, frustrating dream to think I can be alone or do my creative work WITH three little monkey boys running wild in my home.

But it’s not unattainable to drink hot coffee (yeah for glass travel mugs) and it’s definitely not unattainable to make space for the things that enrich my soul.  I can paint.  I can journal.  I can knit.  I can write and blog and teach e-courses (stay tuned – I’m creating a new one!), even while being a stay-at-home-mom.  It just has to be when the kids are in the care of someone else. I have to be creative with my time.

I can do these things even with my children and I can surrender and let go of the frustration.  I am going to be interrupted.  I am going to be asked a million questions.  And I’m going to LOVE it now, because I know how fleeting this stage of my life really is.

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It is hard to find time for your creative dreams and desires in the midst of motherhood.
And it’s also a MUST.
Your dreams matter.  It’s important that you make SPACE for them.

So slow down.  Make SPACE in your life to play and to laugh and to dream and to get on the floor with your kids.

It’s in the space where you FEEL the peace that is ALWAYS in your heart.

And when you tap into that peace and stay connected to it, you will see the humor in the fact that your kids always know.  You are more likely to laugh when they interrupt your flow.

You will find more contentment and joy in this crazy life of yours, because it’s messy and it’s imperfect and it’s wonderful, just as it is, in this moment.

Peace and love to you on your day today!

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 Your Personal Reflection:

Notice when you feel frustrated.  Are you getting the breaks you need?  Is it time for a recharge? Can you schedule some time away from your family to do something you truly enjoy?  Or how can you start to incorporate more of the things you love in your day with your kids?  Pay attention to your body. Where do you feel resistance or tension?  Is your mind constantly racing and wishing for things to be different then they are right now?  Slow down and make space while you reconnect to your peaceful heart.

 

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Check out my Mothering with heART e-book!

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the courage to listen to your heart

summer-boys On the way to his last day of kindergarten he uttered that powerful phrase he said to me on his first day of school, “Mom, I’m not scared anymore.” (The same phrase that helped me through my last natural birth.)

He had been anticipating this day for a week now.  The graduation ceremony to honor the 6 graduates from his Montessori class included dancing, singing songs, reciting poetry and presenting a timeline of his life to a room full of kids and parents taking pictures.

For a kid who does not like having the attention on him (at all) – especially in large groups – this event could be seen as complete torture! Yet, his mindful teachers knew he needed to practice – to help calm his nerves.  And that practice paid off because on the actual day of the ceremony, when it was his turn to present, he looked at me and took a deep breath (like we had practiced) and stood up, walked across the classroom and started to read.  He did it!  And not only were we, as his parents, beaming with happiness and delight, but he brought tears to his teacher’s eyes.

They knew how hard he had worked.  They saw how much he has grown.

His courage touched us all.

free trial of levitra Even baby brother was clapping with joy! free celebrex When I asked him later how it felt doing something that was scary, he exclaimed, “Great!” Just another simple reminder that life is full of unknown and scary things that we have to face, but when we can breathe through it, find the support to help us along the way and tap into our inner courage, it is so worth it on the other side!

As a mother, I am continually blown away by the daily lessons I learn from these boys.

Life is full of fears.  Some are small and some are enormous.  Some we face without much thought or preparation, some keep us stuck, stagnant and unable to move forward and some propel us to a place beyond our wildest dreams.

Ever since ending my last e-course I’ve felt a deep need to unplug.  To get quiet. To limit my computer time.  To untether from capturing, posting and sharing my daily events.

And I’ve been following this inner guidance by clearing space, going slower and embracing the relaxed rhythm that comes from summer.

summer-k I am loving my focused time with the kids right now.  We’ve made a summer list and we’ve already had a good balance of playful activities out in the world and downtime at home.

Slowing down feels really nice.

It’s good for my soul and good for my kids. Unplugging and slowing down feels a little scary for me.  I’ve been building an online business over the last few years.  I teach e-courses and build community on-line!  Fears like Will people forget about me?  Will I be able to do this online thing that I LOVE if I step away for a while?  Will I lose my creative ideas if I don’t act on them RIGHT NOW?  Will I lose myself in the world of “mom” if I don’t have something else to cling to?

But then I remember, I’m not scared anymore.  And I trust my intuition that knows this is what I need right now.

I see the courage in my boys.

I connect to my own inner strength.

I take a deep breath.

I clear my plate.

I get quiet.

I listen to that place within.

I let go of more.

I move forward slowly.

And I find the courage to listen to my heart – even when it feels scary.

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I encourage you to slow down, too!  Take time to get on the floor with your kids. PLAY together. Laugh, be silly, be present.  And enjoy the deep connection that comes from simply being together.

Let the summer begin!

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In between the bike rides, swimming, and getting messy, I will stop by Facebook from time-to-time.  Let’s stay connected!  Visit my A Free Spirit Life page and join my private Mothering with heART page to connect with other mothers from around the world.

 

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For fun creative ideas to do with your family and inspiration on staying connected to your own heart, check out my Mothering with heART session #1 E-book!
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embrace your imperfect beautiful life

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*Below is an excerpt from my Mothering with heART e-course that begins tomorrow! You still have time to join us by visiting here.

“We listen best and empathize with our children most accurately when we are relaxed, feel centered, and have a sense of inner peace and well-being.”

~ Harriet Lerner

This quote reminds me why I’ve invited you to join me on this Mothering with heART journey.

It doesn’t have to be said that this job is a hard one. Not always. Sometimes there are moments of effortless flow. And then there are the moments where it feels like the tantrums, the mess, the noise, the problems, the piles, the dishes, the laundry, and the overwhelm will never end.

Our head hits the pillow. And we start. all. over. again.

Mixed within those days where you wonder how you will make it until bedtime, are those moments of pure bliss. Your little one picks a flower for you. He leaves you an “I love you” note. Your teen opens up about school. She thanks you for a great dinner. He looks up at you with that look that completely melts your heart.

And then you remember.

You remember why you started this journey in the first place.

And then you realize.

Being a mother isn’t about perfection. The mess, the heartache, the celebrations, the joy, the laughter, the sadness, the struggle, and the overwhelm are all a part of being a mom.

The gift comes when you can live more presently and peacefully – in ALL the moments that motherhood brings.

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It is true, that when you feel more relaxed and centered, you simply feel better.

When you take care of your needs, it’s easier to stay connected to your children, you think more clearly and you can more smoothly swim through the ever-changing ups and downs that are inevitable in life as a mother.

In Mothering with heART, we use creativity and reflection as a tool to connect to our intuition – the place that is here to guide us.

It’s there, your intuition, that knows when your inner dreams are ready to manifest. It’s there, your intuition, that knows when there’s something wrong, despite what others say. It’s there, your intuition, that knows when you need to get quiet first, before you make that big decision. It’s there, your intuition, that knows when you are letting fear get in your way of living a more fulfilled, joyful life.

Creative activities – like writing, playing with paint, making art (to name just a few) – help you relax and return to FLOW.

As a mom, we are interrupted about every 12 seconds! (I’m making that up, but doesn’t that seem accurate?) And after a while, it’s easy to get caught up in the glorification of busy. But it’s in stillness, quiet, and creative FLOW that help us stay connected to our hearts – our intuition, creative center, the all knowing place – that reminds us of our greater purpose in life.

So today, and for the next three weeks, we will step back into flow. And we will integrate this flow with and alongside our children. Because if we wait until they are napping, distracted, at school, or older – it just may never happen.

There is no perfect moment.

Your kids don’t want a perfect mother, they just want a healthy, happy you.

Mothering with heART is about mothering YOUR heart.

Embracing your imperfect moment, your imperfect children and your imperfect, beautiful life starts NOW.

Mothering with heART Session #2 April 2014 from Shannon Kinney on Vimeo.

 

Mothering with heART starts tomorrow! Give yourself a great gift and join us!

CLICK HERE to register.

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