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nurturing your mothering soul

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

The boys and I made you a short video for you!

How are you today?

It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve had to throw out any concept of a “schedule” and just…go with the flow.

Some days it feels like I want to call it quits.

You know…it’s when the kids get sick (seriously…it’s spring…I’m so done with colds), and you have to cancel the sitter (I only get her for 3 precious hours a week!), and the thought of making one more meal could simply throw you over the edge (I can’t believe how much these little people eat!).

Today I woke up craving a simple week.
Don’t you just love new beginnings?

So I prepped meals for the week, folded clothes, made school lunch and gave myself some much needed rest time.

I can’t control what will happen this week, but I can do little things that help simplify my daily life. And for me I feel lighter and freer when healthy foods are stocked in the fridge. I feel lighter when I know what nights my husband’s putting the kids to bed (tonight…anyone want to come over for a glass of wine?). I feel lighter when I have a few creative projects to work on (like prepping my Mothering with heART e-course & editing our music video I’m making with my sis and bro), and when I carve out time for my own wellness and recharge (I’m getting a pedicure tomorrow…hello, spring toes).

I love my kids. I love being with my kids. I love staying home with my kids (most days).

And along with being a mom, my soul needs ART.

My soul needs connection.
My soul needs to write.
My soul needs play.
My soul needs rest.
My soul needs movement.
My soul needs music.
My soul needs nature.
My soul needs paint.
My soul needs yoga.
My soul needs women friendships.
My soul needs coffee dates.
My soul needs books.
My soul needs rain.
My soul needs sunshine.
My soul needs quiet.
My soul needs adventure.
My soul needs creative exploration.
My soul needs to be vulnerable.
My soul needs to face fears.
My soul needs to take risks.
My soul needs love.

And…my soul needs you.

What does YOUR soul need?

Join us for the next session of Mothering with heART – session #2 – and feed your soul, too. (Registration is now open.)

Embrace your joy and your deep need to nurture your soul while you nurture your kids. Your art, your creative dreams, your wellness…matters.

Seriously, we mothers need to stick together.

(Join us on our private Mothering with heART Facebook page to connect with other mothers from around the world.)

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Give-Aways!

For your chance to win the Simple Parenting & Play Planner, visit HERE.
For your chance to win a spot in Mothering with heART and Season’s Eatings, visit HERE.

The winners of the random drawings are:

Nicola is the winner of a spot in Season’s Eatings.
Katrianna is the winner of a spot in Mothering with heART.
Nina is the winner of the Simple Parenting & Play Planner.

Congratulations!  Winners will be contacted by email. Thanks so much for entering.

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celebrating joy in the every day (& two give-aways!)

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I don’t know about you, but cooking three meals a day – every day – can leave me feeling, uh, rather uninspired.

I really do have a passion for healthy eating and cooking.  But doing it day-after-day-after-day in the midst of changing diapers, nursing, schoolwork, piano lessons, cleaning, folding clothes… I know you can relate.

It. gets. old.

So I’m excited to see that my friend, Leah, and creator of the Season’s Eatings e-course, is offering a new session.  I’ve taken Leah’s course in the past and I can honestly say that it’s one of my favorites because not only does she offer fabulous PDF’s full of easy and yummy recipes, but she is in-tune to how to make mealtime more meaningful while connecting more deeply to your children.

Cooking three meals a day doesn’t have to feel like a burden, and Leah, reminds you of that.

Her course will help you get grounded, centered and inspired so you can really enjoy the pleasure that comes from feeding and nourishing your family.

Leah says, “I believe that cooking can be a source of joy, fun, and connection in our lives. I know how good it feels to have a repertoire of delicious dinners you can whip together to feed a few or a crowd. And I believe that one of the secrets to enjoyable family dinners is to include everyone, especially the kids, in the preparations, rituals, and routines of the evening meal.”

Just from re-reading Leah’s course description, I can see that with the addition of our new baby, I’ve fallen into a bit of a rut over the last few months when it comes to mealtime.  I still cook healthy foods and have found ways to simplify my time in the kitchen – like prepping for the week on Sunday, buying similar ingredients for several meals, and making the trusted family favorites that I know everyone will eat.

But…I haven’t necessarily felt as much joy about YET ANOTHER MEAL that has to be prepared. Yes, it’s true, mealtime happens again and again, but rather then dread or lament it, there are ways to make it more fun.  And with Leah’s inspiration, you can bring back a sense of play, laughter, connection and JOY to this daily routine.

Are you ready to be inspired?

To learn more about Leah’s wonderful e-course, visit Season’s Eatings. (If you are ready to sign up for this course, use the discount code: FREESPIRIT.)

The Give-Aways – How to Enter:

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Leah is giving away one spot in her upcoming Season’s Eatings e-course.

AND…

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I’m giving away one spot in my NEW Mothering with heART e-course, that runs April 28th – May 16th. (Registration is NOW open!)

I’m SOOOOO excited to share this journey with mothers who are excited to bring more love, courage and joy into your life with your children while you follow your heart, TRUST your intuition and nurture your creative dreams!

For your chance to win a spot in one of these courses, leave a comment on this blog post and let us know:  Where do you find inspiration in the midst of motherhood?
For an extra chance to win, stop by and “like” A Free Spirit Life Facebook page.

I’ll announce a winner on Monday, April 14th.

Bring on the joy…

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(REMINDER: Visit THIS POST for your chance to win the Simple Parenting & Play Planner!)
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Simple Parenting & Play Planner Guest Post (& give-away)

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It is a happy talent to know how to play.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all know the importance of play, yet sometimes our schedules get so ramped up during the week that we have little time for anything else other than staying on schedule and checking off “the list.”

My boys love to play and they usually ask me to play with them at least once a day.  Sometimes I’ll drop what I’m doing to join them on the floor.  And sometimes, I feel myself tense and cringe at their request.  You know, it’s always at a time when I’m trying to get dinner on the table, or making lunch for tomorrow, or folding clothes, or doing the other things off the never-ending list so I can feel some sense of accomplishment in this crazy, chaotic world of motherhood.

I notice when I do make the time to play with my boys, they are happier and we feel more connected throughout our day.  And it’s not like they need me to play with them all day.  30 minutes of play goes a long way.

Today, my friend Melitsa (and Inside Out Take Action Guide Contributor) is here to share about her wonderful new guide, Simple Parenting and Play Planner.

This planner will encourage and inspire you to make more time and space for play in your life! (Keep reading for your chance to win your own copy.)

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Hi everyone. It’s Melitsa popping over from Raising Playful Tots.

Thank you, Shannon, for letting me share a little project and my hands aren’t empty. Yes I’m bringing a gift!

If you’re regular to my blog or podcast you’ll know that in my corner of the world we’re very much into supporting intentional play and family actions. It’s one thing to have the good intentions and a whole other story to do this with our diverse families.

We know that writing things down gets things done but we don’t often plan for play and those family things that seem like a great idea but we don’t get around to doing. That is a shame.

Well that’s about to change with the Simple Parenting and Play Planner! In this first edition we’re dipping in and taking time to pause, evaluate and decide the first steps to simple parenting and simple play. It’s a bit like game tag. The planner is your friend unfreezing you and now you get to go in the direction YOU ( and your family) choose….

Here’s a look inside.

Inside page of Simple Parenting and Play Planner copy

 

Melitsa is proud to share this digital edition with you in PDF so you can print what you need.  I am not an affiliate but I did get a chance to peak at her planner and it is colorful, organized and super inspiring!

I’m happy to be one of the stops on The Simple Parenting and Play Planner blog tour and to give you a chance to win a copy of your very own.

How to enter:

Simply leave a comment on this blog post and let us know what kind of playful activities you enjoy doing with your children.
For an extra entry, stop by and “like” my Free Spirit Facebook page.

The random drawing will end on April 16th midnight C.S.T.  I’ll announce the winner on April 17th.

And for more chances to enter, stop by these other participating blogs.

Monday, March 31st: My Healthy Beginning

Tuesday 1 April : The Mom Writes

Wednesday 2 April Rainy Day Mum

Thursday 3 April: Megan Flatt

Friday 4 April:  April Pickle Bums

Saturday 5th April: Bliss Beyond Naptime

Monday 7 April A Free Spirit Life

Tuesday 8 April Simple Kids

Wednesday 9 April Mama Scouts

Thursday 10 April Plannerisms

Friday 11 April Raising Playful Tots

Visit Simple Parenting and Play Planner to learn more.

Thanks, Melitsa, for all the wonderful inspiration.

Now…I’m off to PLAY!

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Psst…more give-aways coming up this week!
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it’s time to help your dreams grow

ready for spring

Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.

~ Shigenori Kameoka

We are slowly emerging from the dark, cold depths of winter and getting ready to embrace the beauty that comes with spring. Depending on where you live in the world, you may be seeing new signs of life.

Symbolically, spring represents a time for new beginnings.

With new beginnings comes planning, planting and tending to the garden.  And as I make preparations to plant seeds with the boys, I can’t help but recognize how caring for these new seedlings is a lot like the love and care needed when tending to our personal dreams.

You have dreams inside that are waiting to be manifested.

And just like your garden, it is up to YOU to recognize the dreams deep within your heart – to clear the weeds, to create a strong foundation for them to grow, and to nourish them daily so they can thrive and flourish.

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1) Clear & Prepare

When planting a garden you must clear away the weeds and prepare the soil for new growth. The same goes for your own life. Clearing away physical, mental and emotional clutter makes space for new things, thoughts and feelings.  So take time this spring to clean out the closets, organize your cupboards, donate items you no longer use, and let go of the thoughts and behaviors that don’t serve a purpose in your life.  The more clutter you clear, the more peace and clarity you will find.  And being clear about your dreams gets you halfway to actualizing them!

2) Get Still & Breathe 

Life is moving by at a rapid pace and sometimes we truly do forget to stop and smell the flowers. Slow down and find quiet space in your day.  Whether it’s while sweeping the floor, folding clothes, sitting in meditation, taking a bath, or on the floor playing with your kids, you can find stillness by reconnecting to your breath in the present moment.  Take some deep, slow inhales and full, slow exhales.  Notice the quality of your breath.  Enjoying this stillness and letting go of the distractions in your day will reconnect you to what truly matters.

3)  Listen & Observe

When planting a garden you must tend to it daily.  Notice what’s growing, what isn’t seeing the sun, what needs more water and tender loving care.  What dreams and personal interests aren’t being cared for in your own life?  Start to observe your inner voice and stop long enough to really listenThe more you practice listening to the your intuition, the more TRUST you will build to follow its lead.

4)  Play & Explore 

Caring for a garden is a lot of work, but it shouldn’t be all work and no play! Planting, pulling weeds and seeing the results of that hard work can be lots of fun AND it gets you outside. Taking the lead from your children, being light at heart, staying connected to nature and playing more often, helps you tap into that curiosity and wonder – the place where the seeds of your dreams live. 

5) Create & Embrace the Mess

When you choose to plant a garden you get to decide what you will plant.  Will this be a flower garden and if so, what varieties and colors will you choose?  Or are you going to plant a vegetable garden and what kinds of meals will you make with this vibrant, fresh food?  The act of creating is a practice in letting go of perfect, in getting messy and in exploring new ideas. Whether it’s digging in the dirt or playing with paint, find outlets that you enjoy and carve out a little time each day to express yourself.

6)  Journal

Keeping a garden journal offers you a place to learn from past mistakes, as you document your growing conditions and keep track of what worked and what didn’t.  Writing from your heart can work in the same way.  You are more likely to notice patterns that tend to repeat themselves in your life when you write them down.  This type of reflection is a powerful way to gain clarity and is a very freeing practice.  A journal can offer you a safe place to share your feelings, explore your dreams, and find the wisdom it takes to make those dreams real.

7) Take a Chance

I’m really new to gardening.  A few years ago we started with a 10 x 10 foot space and had so much fun that we expanded to a 10 x 25 foot on our community garden plot.  We had great success with cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and beets.  We struggled with watermelon and failed miserably with peas.  Had we not taken risks by trying new things we would never have learned what changes we need to make this year.  So apply this same idea to your dreams.  I bet there’s a dream or two living within you that is ready to emerge, but you might be feeling some resistance or fear around them. Allow yourself to take more healthy risks (even especially when you feel scared) and watch your confidence and courage reach for the sun.

8)  Connect & Find Support

There are so many experienced gardeners and green thumb gurus out there – so don’t think you have to tend to your garden alone! Sometimes we can feel isolated and think we are the only ones having these feelings or experiences.  Reach out to a friend or local group that can help you stay connected and build power in your dreams.  Maybe that means joining a new knitting group or starting an art night with your friends.  There are tons of supportive, wonderful communities on-line, too.  (Like my Mothering with heART group!)  Connecting, sharing and relating with other like-minded souls is a wonderful way to ensure your dreams expand and grow beyond measure.

So as you embrace the change of seasons, take time to reflect on what seeds and dreams want to be planted this year.

Create the best conditions that will support this new growth and allow your inner garden and your heart to open, expand and flourish.  Start with the best foundation and tend to your dreams daily, and one day in the near future you will get to sit back and relish in their beauty.

Happy growing!

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taking care of you while working from home

6months

Little man turns 6 months this week! I can hardly believe it.

Rolling over, sitting up, new teeth popping through… Third time going through this new baby thing and I’m still amazed by these ever-changing, fast-growing little creatures.

Mostly, I’ve loved this time learning what it’s like to juggle being a mama to three. Yes, it’s been hard. Some days I throw up my hands and declare, “I CAN’T do this anymore!” And after leaving all three kids with my husband for the first time since babe #3 was born, to get my haircut and enjoy coffee BY MYSELF, I feel liberated! Ready for new beginnings and a new stage.

I will share more soon about how real life is going and some new things I’m working on for mamas.  In the meantime, I’m consumed by fulfilling the constant needs of a teething baby, a learning his independence 3-year-old, and a 6-year-old on spring break.  And I’m taking advice from other mama’s on how to keep integrating my need to work-from-home and be with my babes.

Today I’m excited to share a guest post from my friend – the lovely, kind and oh-so supportive mama and coach, Kathy Stowell, creator of Bliss Beyond Naptime.

Kathy definitely has experience learning how to balance the whole WAHM journey, and I think you will find her advice helpful and affirming!  (Make sure to check out Kathy’s Mama Bliss School that starts March 24th!)

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Designing a Self-Care Rich Flow to Your WAHM Day

~ written by guest contributor Kathy Stowell

I was so optimistic at the start of this school year. Both kids were to be away the whole day through, freeing me up to bask in a perfectly choreographed dance of work, yoga, coffee dates and creative expression.

Not exactly how things are rolling.

Instead, I have come to the WAHM (work at home mom) – realization that a) kids will take turns being home sick from school well into February and b) time flies when you’re having WAHM style fun. I find myself with barely enough time to get my magical three things off of my to-do list if all goes well.

If self-care isn’t designed into your work at home mama flow you can pretty much count on it not all will go well.  Without this important component designed into your work day you’re just making yourself more susceptible to the next ‘bug de jour’, feel overwhelmed by your perceived lack of time and frustrated by the sense of imbalance haunting you.

Making sure there are pulse points of self-care rituals designed into your WAHM days ensure your days are peppered with the reminders that a healthy and productive routine contains moments of excursion followed by deep but brief injections of self-care to properly revitalize.
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1)     Begin by making a list of your favourite self-care practices

Take five minutes to brainstorm big and small ways to treat yourself to some self-love. Include indulgences such as creative play, movement, stillness… essentially whatever thoughts that make your cells jump up and down a little as if they’re saying ‘yes, please’!

2)     Slip these lists into the appropriate time commitment box

Draw three boxes of three different sizes: small, medium, large. Jot down the self-care practices that require a bigger time commitment, like dance class or a hike in the woods, in the bigger boxes. Smaller ones like an herbal tea break or two sun salutes with a five minute savasana can go into the smaller box.

Everything else can find its home in the medium sized box.

Throughout the day, treat yourself with a dip into the little self-care box as a reward for an hour of work. I’m inspired by the Pomodoro technique that suggests working for twenty minute chunks of time and then taking a break to recoup and maximize brain waves and minimize burn out.

Write this out if that helps you to remember. For example:

9 – 10:00 Work

10-10:15 Read a chapter from a book on the couch

11-12 Work

12- 12:30 Lunch followed by walking the dog to the mailbox

3)     Save the bigger gestures of self-care as part of a weekly ritual or for after work hours

At the beginning of the school year I was taking a noon hour dance class but I found I couldn’t really let go due to this nagging feeling I was missing out on my optimum work time and creative peak hours. Instead I’m taking such classes in the evening and I’m feeling so much more relaxed during and after it.

Now when I come home the dishes are done, the kids are peacefully sleeping and my husband is waiting for me on the couch with Downton Abby all ready to go. Bliss!

Like everything else in our WAHM world it takes constant experimenting and trying on new approaches to see what works best. But as with anything in life, and especially in tree pose, dramatic discoveries of balance often only takes the most minuscule of adjustments.

This, along with many doses of Vitamin C and as much sleep as you can muster to keep the sniffles at bay, and small steps will be taken forward every day in both your business and this sacred business of being a present and joyful mama.

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Kathy Stowell is the founder of Mama Bliss Coaching School (spring session begins March 24th) where she helps moms create a thriving and sustainable coaching practice.

She’s a full time work at home mom herself and a certified Simplicity Parenting Coach and Kaizen Muse Creativity Coach. She’s a wife, proud mom to two kids and shares her work at home mama secrets in her free ecourse Money Bliss.

 

 

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Thank you, Kathy, for reminded us mamas that we CAN take good care of ourselves – while we work from home.  You have inspired me to keep on trucking down this crazy, unpredictable path…

I hope she has inspired you, too!

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preparing for spring

spring walk
Spring fever is definitely in the air!

You know it.  You feel it.  When the weather slowly changes from winter to spring, the energy is undeniable.

It makes me want to be outdoors as much as possible.  I’ve been enjoying daily walks – sometimes solo to clear my head and sometimes with the boys.

The other thing I’ve been doing is cleaning out closets like a mad woman. I guess after acting like a bear in hibernation this winter, my body, mind and spirit have had ENOUGH.

I need to clear. Make space. Get out. And let go.

I bet you might be feeling a bit this way, too.

If you are searching for some support on creating new beginnings this spring, especially when it comes to your home, you must check out Leah and Stephanie’s e-course, Feathering the Nest. I took this course last year and it was truly an inspiration on not only clearing out stuff and creating new energy in and around my home (and heart), but also it reminded me how important it is to be surrounded by the things that bring me great joy.

This two-week journey guides you on how to create a home environment that supports your dreams.

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Get ready to engage your senses and prepare for newness with the fabulous inspiration you’ll find in Feathering the Nest.

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This is not an affiliate program. I simply LOVE these two women and when I find something that nourishes my life, I just have to share.

Register today, as class begins tomorrow!
Use the code:  FREESPIRIT when you sign-up and you’ll receive a 15% savings!
Visit Feathering the Nest for all the details.

 

Happy (almost) spring…

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blossom magazine (& winners announced!)

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I am beyond thrilled to be a contributor for the lovely magazine, Blossom, created by Amy Butler!

Issue #2 went LIVE today.  You can view it using the link below:

Blossom Magazine Issue #2

The intention of Blossom Magazine is to celebrate your authentic journey and to inspire you to live the life you’re meant to by creating love, expressing beauty and being kind.  You will find it is 230 pages FULL of that love, beauty and kindness through amazing photography, creative inspiration and personal reflections.  Truly, this magazine is a complete work of art and I’m honored to be included (see me on pages 206 – 213).  (And check out the beautiful ad my awesome graphic designer and friend created on page 213!)

final-mothering-with-heart-ecourse-200 I’m also SO excited about the launch of my Mothering with heART e-book that I’m offering 5 free copies in a random drawing!

To enter this simple give-away:

THE GIVE-AWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

 

 

 

The 5 winners of the random drawing for a FREE copy of Mothering with heART are:

 

Caroline, Amy, Tophat, Lori and Noelle!

(Email me for details on how to receive your free copy.)

 

You can also purchase your own copy of Mothering with heART.  I’m extending the special price going on now through March 15th, 2014.  Visit HERE for details.

Be well and keep creating a life YOU love!

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NEW mothering with heart e-book special!

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Sometimes when you pick up your child you can feel the map of your own bones beneath your hands, or smell the scent of your skin in the nape of his neck. This is the most extraordinary thing about motherhood – finding a piece of yourself separate and apart that all the same you could not live without.

~ Jodi Picoult

Happy HEART day!

I really do love Valentine’s Day.

I always have.  Ever since childhood, when we decorated our cardboard boxes for party day.  Oh, the anticipation of getting cards and sweets from your friends and family.  SO much fun.

What I love about this day, in particular, is it gives us a lovely reminder to stop…and CELEBRATE LOVE.

So today, I am celebrating my wonderful family.  I have to keep this post short because we are making chocolate dipped strawberries and heart-shaped pizzas for dinner.

In celebration of YOU and my deep-seated passion to inspire, connect with and enrich the lives of mamas everywhere, I am launching the release of my brand NEW Mothering with heART e-book!

The 30-day e-course that I offered last spring is now its own activity and inspirational guide – to celebrate the mother in YOU.

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You can see all the details here:

Mothering with heART E-book

From Valentine’s Day – February 28th, 2014, I am offering this downloadable PDF e-book for a special price.

This e-book includes:

  • reflections and inspiration on creativity & intuitive mothering
  • weekly art projects to do with and alongside your children (of any age)
  • videos from me
  • connection to a private, ongoing community with other mothers from all over the world
  • personal essays, interviews, stories, tips and inspiration from artists, writers, life coaches, stay-at-home moms and more…

Whether you are expecting your first baby, you are a mom of young children, your kids are teens or just went off to college, NOW is the time to take better care of YOU, so you can keep being the mother and woman you want to be in the world.

Mothering with heART will give you the inspiration, time for reflection and connection to community that will enliven your life in more ways than you can even imagine.

Thanks for checking it out!

Ok…off to snuggle with my boys.

With deep appreciation for you…

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you are the creator of your life

you-are-an-artist

 

Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery starts Monday, January 27th, 2014!

JOIN US for art journaling, gentle yoga, guided meditation and connection to an international community of women – where we let go of perfect, make messes, play with paint, embrace our unique brilliance and build courage to create a life we love.

For more information, visit:

Inside Out

Be well and thanks for your support!

See you in class…

xo-shannon-blue

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celebrate your life

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The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

~ Oprah Winfrey

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Well, I certainly don’t have it all together. I’m still working on stuff…daily. Struggling and fumbling along the way.

But I gotta say, I sure scored in the husband department.

These photos are from my recent birthday celebration. The boys were so excited to surprise me. The rule was: under no circumstances could I come down to the basement. While the boys were busy building this birthday cake present masterpiece out of boxes, I took baby Grayson to the grocery store (which is always a treat just going with ONE kid) and then to mommy/baby yoga (which is so comforting and relaxing).

I took a nap in the afternoon (which is always heaven).

And made enchiladas for a small party with my family. All I really wanted this year for my birthday was a quiet evening with my family, eating good food and playing games. It was awesome. The boys could not contain themselves – pure joy and excitement. So they pulled me downstairs first to reveal this amazing gift. Or gifts rather. 39 presents for my 39th year. Isn’t that the sweetest?

And not only were the presents awesome, like a new journal, a smash book, coffee mugs…but each box had a note from the boys and my husband sharing what they love most about me.

I truly felt showered with love!

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It was a birthday I will never forget. One full of love, fun and abundance – for sure.

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my bday collage 2013

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And the birthday celebrations have continued, for my husband and my oldest, who turned 6 today!

This is YOUR one life…celebrate your breath.
Celebrate the ones you love.
Celebrate YOU.

Because YOU and your life are worth celebrating.

xo-shannon-blue

 

 

 

*Photos by my love, Chris Duh.

 

Inside Out Logo

Now that the birthday celebrations are just about over, I’ll be turning my attention to Inside Out.

There’s still plenty of time to join us! My 5-week e-course begins January 27th, 2014.
For more information, visit:
Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery!
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