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Laugh More, Play More, Love More!

Join me for the February challenge: Laugh Play Love

Life can get so busy.  We run around all day long, going this way and that, doing and rushing and working, until we’re exhausted.  Then, our head hits the pillow and we crash until the doing and rushing and working starts all over again…

I’m not quite sure where we think we are going and why we think we have to do so darn much and go so darn fast!

And if we keep going at this kind of pace, we may end up missing it.  Missing the moment to laugh. Missing the moment to play.  Missing the moment to love.

The moment to laugh, play, love – is right now.

In slowing down, I find that getting on the floor with my kids is sometimes the best medicine. They notice the little things in life.  They laugh without thinking twice.  They play without inhibitions. They love because they know no other way.  They remind me of what’s truly important in life.  To laugh, play and love – well, It just comes so naturally for them.  And it did for us once, too.

February–the month of love–seems like a great time to lighten up and remember what it feels like to have more fun!

So, I’m inviting you to laugh more, play more and love more, and enjoy the side effects that come from opening your heart.

  • tell a joke
  • do a dance
  • be super silly
  • wear mixed match clothes
  • watch funny movies
  • pull some pranks
  • get messy
  • play games
  • blow bubbles
  • eat candy
  • write love notes
  • try new things
  • be kinder to yourself and others
  • create stuff
  • have fun!

Laugh more.
Play more.
Love more.

I’ll be sharing my month of laughing, playing and loving on my blog.  I would love for you to join me. Capture your Laugh Play Love moments through photos, videos or words, too and feel free to post them on our A Free Spirit Life community page.

And if you share on Twitter, use the hashtag #laughplaylove.

Your Personal Reflection:  Slow down.  Notice the little things.  And see what happens when you laugh, play and love.

If you have a blog, go ahead and grab a badge (just copy the code at the top of this blog’s sidebar).  I’m excited to share this month with you!

Where Are We Rushing To?

Slowing Down
I notice I use words like, “Let me tell you this story real quick.” Or “I’m going to run to the store.” Or I catch myself telling my 3-year-old, “Hurry up, we are going to be late.” Or “Come on, Kestan, we gotta get going.”Ick. Tired. Blah. Done.I’m done with rushing.  I’m making a choice to STOP.  This past week I’ve practiced every day – walking slower, moving slower, being…slower.  I notice it’s pretty hard.  My natural tendency in the morning is to bounce out of bed and start the day with excitement and thoughts of what are we going to do today? And usually if I have a morning plan – say story time, meeting friends for breakfast, doctor’s appointment, whatever – there is this feeling of urgency.  WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE IF WE DON’T GET IN THE CAR RIGHT NOW!

Yuck.

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Photos by Chris Duh.

And I think it’s actually why I hardly ever make plans to be anywhere in the morning (at least before 10) because I can’t stand rushing my kids.  So I’ve been moving more at their pace.  And yes, it’s hard not to say, “Hurry up.  Let’s go,” especially when I’m ready to move on.  BUT, the more I practice it, the easier it is becoming.

And I’m noticing I actually am more productive and have less irritation when I move slower.

Doesn’t that seem kind of funny?  But think about it, when you are running late to work or getting the kids off to school and you are running all over the house to get ready, isn’t that the time when you spill the milk inside the refrigerator or place your keys somewhere that you’ll never find again?

Sure, I can still sense my restlessness (Come on already, why does it take you so long to get in your car seat!?)  But, these kids know something.  When you let them lead the way and set the pace, everyone seems a bit more peaceful.

IMG_3916

On this day in the woods we spontaneously went out on an adventure.  I left my phone in the car on purpose, mostly to prevent myself from taking more photos (since I’m still clearing clutter and have over 1000 pictures on my phone yet to clear), but I also loved not knowing what time it was.

We played.

IMG_3926
We explored.
IMG_3939

We let the kids lead the way.

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And time stood still.

It just didn’t matter what we were doing, where we were going or what time we were going to get there.

Sure, there are many moments in our daily lives when we have to be somewhere at a certain time. Yet, I’m wondering if we can get there without all the rushing.  Can we move about our day with less urgency, less worry, and less stress about what the future will bring?  Can we find the peace that comes from slowing down?

IMG_3601

I guess I’m willing to try.

Your Personal Reflection:  Do you rush through your day with a sense of urgency? Where are you going?  Notice your pace today.  Try walking a little slower wherever you go.  Try breathing a little deeper and fuller.  Notice how that feels when you slooooooooow down.

(Psst…I’ve posted the dates for my next Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery e-course.  Registration opens December 5th.  I hope you will slow down and make some space in your life to join us!)

Chuck the "To Do" List & Get Outside

exploring outside
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. -Lao Tzu
I can’t seem to get enough nature these days.  So on this particular day our “to do” list was happily left behind to “do this” instead.  And while touching the dirt, feeling the warmth from the sun, smelling the fresh air, tasting the woods and seeing the joy in my boys – nothing else mattered.
Your Personal Reflection:  What would happen if you throw out your “to do” list today? How about doing just that and see what it feels like when you stop rushing around and make time to reconnect with nature.

Bombin’ Some Yarn

Yarn Bomb Felted Flower close up

I just discovered what yarn bombing is from my coolest-ever-mother-in-law.  As described in the new book, Yarn Bombing: The Book, “knit graffiti is an international guerilla movement that started underground and is now embraced by crochet and knitting artists of all ages, nationalities, and genders.”  Beginners and seasoned knitters secretly “donate” a knitted creation in public spaces.  

Yarn Bomb Felted Flower knitting

I am so inspired and excited by this idea!  Do you think that pink flower in this photo is real?

Yarn Bomb Felted Flower  in flower pot

I hit the farmer’s market this morning with the boys, my mom and sister and they helped me secretly drop off my first “donation.”

Yarn Bomb Felted Flower in bush
International Yarn Bombing Day is this Saturday, June 11th.  So now it’s your chance to join in on the fun!  Simply knit or crochet anything you’d like and tag a public space with your knitted piece.  Take a photo of your “donation” and share it online.  There are many flickr and Ravelry groups to share your yarn bomb creations, and also feel free to share with me on my new Free Spirit Knits flickr page.  I would LOVE to see them.
Happy knitting and sharing!
Your Personal Reflection:  What inspires YOUR creativity?

Shout Out to Free Spirits!

I'm a free spirit badge

I want to take a moment to thank some of you who are proudly displaying the “I’m a free spirit” badge on your blog – fabulous women like KellyKat, Yvonne, Megan, Manon, Suzy, and Jacs.

I believe a free spirit is someone who is dedicated to creating a life they love, while living more boldly, fully and freely.  They take time to go deeper. They enjoy the discovery. They accept their fears and take risks.  They shine from the inside out.

You.  Yay, YOU!  You are a free spirit, too.
You are an authentic, creative, brilliant BEing.
And I believe in you.

Get messy.
Embrace imperfection.
Live NOW.

…and always,
always…

be you!

Feel free to grab a badge, too, and link it to here or here.
And let yourself be freeeeeeeeeeee.
How to be a free spirit list
Your Personal Reflection:  What is a free spirit to you?
(If you are displaying a badge, or decide to grab one today, let me know so I can give a shout out to you, too!)

Creative Living & The Ten Minute Doodle

If you have yet to listen to Jamie Ridler’s podcast series, Creative Living, then you must head on over there!  I had the privilege of speaking with her recently and shared a little bit about my creative journey.  You can listen to that interview on her blog today, where you’ll hear me talk about how I came to embrace myself as a creative being, how I practice each day to find and maintain balance, and advice on how YOU can express your inner artist (we all have one)!
doodle-close-up
And, see that new “Newsletter Sign-up” button on the top-left of my blog?  Please take a moment to send me your email address and I’ll make sure you get some buzzin’ inspiration sent your way.  My new monthly newsletter, Create the Life You Love, will be full of tips and resources related to creativity, wellness and mindful living.  
markers
Yesterday I had about ten minutes of free-time, so I ran to the art room, grabbed my markers, sketchbook, tea and turned on my Ani DiFranco (who I heart so much!) Pandora station and started doodling.  It was mindless.  It was fun.  It was energizing.
The Ten Minute Doodle
Can you spare just ten minutes today to create a doodle of your own?  I bet you can! Here are the guidelines:  Use simple materials, like crayons, markers or colored pencils. Choose an animal, random design or any image that you can draw quickly.  Don’t think about it.  This is a doodle – not a perfect masterpiece!  Turn on some energizing music and let your mind go.  Play with lines, colors and designs.  Doodle away – with no judgment.  If you are feeling stuck or rigid, give yourself only ten minutes, and draw with your opposite hand!  Have fun…  
Also, I’ve created a new Flickr group.  It’s a place for you to share your photos and join discussions about the self-discovery journey.  How about uploading your doodle today? Join us at Free Spirit Knits – Create the life YOU love! Flickr group.  I would love to see you there!

doodle-bird
The doodle clock starts…now!
doodle-bird-with-color2
doodle-bird-with-color
final-doodle
Your Personal Reflection:  Can you give yourself permission to enjoy just ten minutes of creative play today?

Space to Play

wild flower doodle closer
I spent all last week creating the content and visuals for my upcoming workshop Play, Create, Reflect…be free!  This e-course will be offered on March 22nd as part of the creative offerings during Wish Big E-camp.  I hope you will consider joining us.  All of the courses (10 total!) and fun things planned sound simply amazing…and what a fabulous time of year to nourish your creative soul!
This is the first time…in like…forever…that I don’t have a single deadline or work project to finish up.  So I’m taking full advantage of this much needed space for a little “me time” and a lot of playtime with the boys.  Kestan and I had fun making art together today like this flower doodle.  And I’ve got a few sitters scheduled this week so I can get myself back to the yoga studio.  Ahhh….having space to breathe and be with little plans is oh so very nice…Your Personal Reflection:  Do you have enough space in your week for creative play and your own personal wellness?

Loving Life

the best
Most photos taken by Chris Duh.

There’s nothing like playing on the beach to rejuvenate your soul!  We spent this past week in Southern California, and although we saw our share of rain, getting to run around barefoot instead of wearing snow boots was just the boost we needed to get through the rest of our midwestern winter.
kes on the beach

This was the first time Kestan’s toes have ever touched the sand and as you can tell from this photo, it was pretty darn exciting.
feeling free

What a complete joy to run around the beach with my boys.  We had so much fun on our adventure out west, and getting to feel the water and smell the ocean was definitely a highlight for me.
us on the beach
modern talent

Speaking of highlights, we had the special opportunity to visit the set of our favorite TV show, Modern Family.  (If you don’t watch it, you should!)  Many months ago we purchased a silent auction item to benefit the Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City. The auction item included 2 nights in a North Hollywood hotel and a chance to see a taping and visit the cast of the show.  Eric Stonestreet, who plays the hilarious Cam, donated the gift.  He happens to be from the Kansas City area, so it was fun to show up the day of our visit and see him wearing a K-State t-shirt.  (Even though I went to his rival school KU!)
  
walking into set

We showed up just after casting call around 7:45 in the morning.  This is the front of the stage and behind these doors is where the filming magic takes place.

close up

I’m ready for my close-up…
modern family set 3

We spent most of our day in these chairs, listening to headsets and watching monitors of the days taping. On this particular day they were shooting the mother’s day episode.  We were lucky that the scenes being filmed were of a gathering with the entire family at Jay and Gloria’s house, so all the cast members were there.

modern family set

We had fun taking a tour of all of the houses.  This is the Dunphy couch in their kitchen.

modern family set 2

Here we are in front of Mitchell and Cam’s fireplace.

modern set family 4

This is their dining room and the place where Mitchell and Cam film their camera interviews.

iheartphil

We had the chance to see the entire cast, but actually got a little time to visit with Eric and Ty (who plays Phil).  Although, I have to admit, I wish we could have had a longer time to talk with them and ask questions.  (It’s like they were busy working or something!) I’m happy to share that both Eric and Ty are super cool and down-to-earth.  We talked with Eric off and on throughout the day, and even met his mom and cousins who were in town visiting from KC.  I was excited to get this picture, as these guys are my favorite actors from the show.  (I really heart Phil and he’s as nice as can be in person.)  
hanging with friends

In addition to our jaunt in Hollywood, we spent some quality time in Newport Beach with my best friends in the world (who we haven’t seen in four years).  

the family

We mostly just hung out at their house while the boys played, but braved a chilly morning to take a ferry ride to explore Balboa Island.

balboa beach

disneyland

On our last day we made a spontaneous visit to Disneyland when we found out that our friend, (who happens to be the new official voice of Mickey Mouse) was going to be at the park that day.  

rides

We had so much fun and discovered that our 3-year-old is quite the thrill seeker.  He LOVED the rides – especially the rollercoaster in Mickey’s Toontown.

happy ashton

beautifulkestan

Our trip to California truly was inspiring on so many levels.  The raw, vegan food we ate furthered my interest and excitement about sacred cooking.  After getting a taste of the warmer weather I came back with a deeper appreciation of the change in seasons.  I was reminded that good friendships are a treasure.  I was gifted with quality family time away from the computer.  I learned that sometimes you just gotta seize the moment and not hold back.  I broke free of our daily routine and really enjoyed being fully present with each new experience. And I was reminded of the most important thing of all – that I am so in love with my life.   

mommy and ash in cali

Your Personal Reflection:  Have you stepped away from your usual surroundings and regular routine in a while?  Are you in the mood for a change of scenery?  Even if you aren’t planning to travel far from home, see if there are small ways you can change up your usual day by trying something new and notice what you discover along the way.

How to Make a Snow Angel

Thanks, Chris Duh!

Snow Days & Cookies (& winners announced!)

sledding with kes
Snow!
kestan in the snow
Snow!
sledding with ash
And more…
chris and kes in the snow
snow!

We’ve been playing in the snow a lot these past few weeks.  And with snow days comes making soups and baking cookies.  I’ve been experimenting with more gluten-free and vegan cooking and I have some yummy soup recipes I want to share with you.  Until then, here’s a really good gluten-free, vegan chocolate cookie that I think you’ll like.  

chocolate chip cookies

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Bites
2 1/2 cups of gluten free flour 
(I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Mix)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 cup all  natural peanut butter (optional)
2/3 cup agave
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

gluten free cookie dough
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Then, mix the agave, sunflower oil and vanilla together, and pour into the dry ingredients.  Mix for about two minutes until the ingredients are combined.  Finally, add the chocolate chips.  Form small balls and place directly on a cookie sheet.  I bake these at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes.   At 7 minutes I check them and press them down with the back of a spoon to flatten them while warm.  Then I bake them for another minute or two.
cookies and milk
I love these cookies because they are simple, very low in sugar and everyone in my house can eat them.
yummy cookies
And for a kid who doesn’t get to eat dairy and eats very little sweets, well, you can see these cookies make him very, very happy!
Your Personal Reflection:  What kind of fun are you having this winter?
And…the winners of Megan’s “Rooted” e-course are…

Angela of Peach Coglo
Trisha of Miscellany
(Megan will be in touch with you soon!)