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My Wish For This School Year: An Abundance of Kindess

Both my kids happily walked into the first day of school this morning.  I know I’m supposed to be just bursting with excitement that I finally (!) have both my kids in full day school.  But if I’m being really honest, the idea of having both kids at school all day is kind of sad; I’m no longer a mom to little kids.  They’re bigger kids now, who know how to read and write and amuse themselves (for the most part).  So when I thought about this year, and what I’d like to try and teach my bigger kids, it wasn’t specific skills, but instead I wanted to explore a theme with them, a theme that pervades all aspects of our lives: Kindness.

Obviously, I expect my kids to be kind to each other, and to their friends.  But what I want this year to be about is so much more than that.  As I was piecing this all together in my mind, I came across this article in the New York Times last weekend, about memorizing poems, so I set about finding a poem about kindness that might be appropriate for the kids to memorize, and I found the most amazingly fitting poem:

A Memory System by Priscilla Leonard

Forget each kindness that you do
As soon as you have done it;
Forget the praise that falls to you
The moment you have won it;
Forget the slander that you hear
Before you can repeat it;
Forget each slight, each spite, each sneer,
Whenever you may meet it.

Remember every kindness done
To you, whatever its measure;
Remember praise by others won
And pass it on with pleasure;
Remember every promise made
And keep it to the letter
Remember those who lend you aid
And be a grateful debtor.

Remember all the happiness
That comes your way in living;
Forget each worry and distress,
Be hopeful and forgiving;
Remember good, remember truth,
Remember heaven’s above you.
And you will find, through age and youth
True joys and hearts to love you.

I couldn’t have come up with a better manifesto for living a good life, than is articulated in this poem.  Not only does it outline just how to be kind, to yourself and to others, it reinforces the idea that being kind leads to a lovely life.  The kids read it last night, and I’m looking forward to working with them on this poem over the coming weeks.

But, as much as I LOVE this poem, I wanted to figure out at least one other way to incorporate this idea of kindness into our lives.  And it came to me yesterday.  On a recent trip to Target, I made an impulse buy of a little chalkboard for the kitchen.  My intention for it was for the kids to use it to write up menus for big family dinners and the like.  But last night, I found a new use for it . . . a weekly kindness quote.  I hope that we can use these quotes as a jumping off point to explore lots of different topics, and to help us remember to be kind.  For this week, I had to choose one of my favourite quotes of all time – from Cinderella – one that I thought was particularly appropriate for the first week back to school – and the first week at a brand new school for my littlest one.

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(I know, awesome penmanship on my part – but in the spirit of being kind, I’m going to be kind to myself, and give myself a pass on this one, and accept that my chalkboard writing will improve over the course of the year.)  

On that note, I’m off to show myself a little kindness and pick up some new workout clothes to celebrate this milestone in my kids’ lives (and mine!) – and also because I’ve got a few personal goals to work on this year in the gym . . . and it’s always more fun to work on new goals in new clothes, right?

Welcoming the New School Year with Open Arms, a (solid) Plan and (good) Intentions . . . And My (new) Favourite Peach Crisp

I love September; it’s a month filled with promise and excitement, hopes and dreams for the school year to come, a month that gives you a chance at a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning.

As I started to plan out our weekly schedule for the fall, I realized just how quickly and easily it would be to fall into the trap of over-scheduling, a trap that is as shiny and exciting on paper as it is excruciating in its consequences.

From sports, to arts, and everything in between, our kids today have a veritable buffet of activities to choose from – and of course, there are competitive streams for just about every activity too, just in case you want to take your training to the “next level”.

After a summer that has been nothing sort of spectacular – a summer in which, aside from short stints in camp at the very beginning and end of the summer, we have had no set schedule – I am in no hurry to bring to an end how we are all feeling right now.

So this year, as I started to plan out our year, I did something different – I spent some time alone with each kid this week and discussed what goals they had for the year, and what it was that they really wanted to do with the time they weren’t in school.  Their responses fascinated me.  And gave me some pretty clear insights into their personalities.

After we talked about goals, we talked about how they could go about achieving their goals, and what activities they really wanted to be involved in this year.

Next up, I spent some time reviewing my goals for the school year and what I would like to accomplish.  I asked the Husband to think of what he might like to do/accomplish this year.  And most importantly, what we, together as parents, hope for/want for our kids and our family this year.

And then I got down to work reconciling everything we’d all like to do with how much time we have, how much driving in circles we’re all willing to put up with, how many disrupted meal times are acceptable to us, and how much family time we’re willing to give up in order to feel a sense of accomplishment come June.

With both kids in full day school, I’m extremely lucky this year in that I’ll be able to finally tackle some of those goals that I’ve talked about for ages, but never really turned my attention to (hello pull-ups and six-pack abs . . . . oh, and training for that half marathon I signed up for . . . looks like the Coach is going to have fun training me this year).  But, there are lots of other things outside the gym that I want to try.  Have I mentioned I took a knitting class this summer – it’s somewhat addicting – and I’d like to master a 3rd stitch, maybe. . .  And there are about a million recipes I’d like to try.  And then there are all my photo book projects that need attention . . . the list goes on.  But these are all things that can be scheduled in around my gym training and dropping off and picking up the kids.

Where things get tricky is the after-school time slots.

So here’s what I did.  I made an excel spreadsheet that listed each of the days of the week and had half hour time blocks from 7:30 am through to 8:30 at night (when the kids should ideally be in bed and asleep – given that they’re still waking up at 5am).

Then I put in all the “must-do’s” into the schedule.  For now, piano lessons are a must-do – which isn’t exactly a hardship since both the kids love piano.  The lessons that have already been co-ordinated with skating coaches also went into this calendar.  And from there, we could figure out if the other things the kids wanted to do were do-able and/or reasonable.

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My criteria for do-able was simple – given the pick up and drop-off schedules for each of their schools, traffic patterns, and must-do already-scheduled activities, could I reasonably be able to get the child to the activity they were requesting.  My criteria for reasonable was slightly more complicated – but not much – a) would the child suffer enormously by not participating in the activity; b) would the rest of the child’s life be affected if they didn’t participate in the activity; and c) did the timing of the activity reasonably work with our evening/weekend schedules.

The working schedule that we’re left with is one that makes us all happy.  The kids are going to be doing some great after-school things.  The amount of time I’ll be driving in circles has been kept to a bare minimum.  While dinner will be shifting from our norm of 6:00 last year to 6:30 this year, we will still be able to eat as a family in the evenings (a priority for the Husband an me).  And of course, there will still be sufficient time, in the evening and on the weekends to get homework done, and do everything else that we like to do.

While the kids aren’t going to be doing everything they want to (it looks like my daughter will be giving up her tap dancing career, and I’m not sure just how much golf practice my son will squeeze in), I also know, as their mother, that they will be better rested, and consequently happier little humans than if I had gone along with all of their extracurricular requests.

And I’ve never heard of a kid who’s complained about being too happy or well rested.

Now on to the bit about peach crisp.  I’ve mentioned in previous years that I have a mild obsession with peaches at this time of the year.  It’s like I see a basket of peaches at a farmers’ market and I loose any sense of reason (and completely forget that my kids don’t enjoy fresh peaches) and buy the largest basket I can.  This year has been no different.  After our last trip to a farmers’ market, I immediately made a massive peach crisp.  But STILL had a dozen peaches left over, which I had put into the fridge for storage.  This particular batch of peaches was perfect in that none of them were overly ripe.  Which lead to my latest great discovery: Slightly unripe peaches make the best peach crisp.  And by best I mean slightly underripe peaches lead to a thicker, less watery crisp.

Summer Peach Crisp

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For the Fruit:

  • 12 just under-ripe peaches
  • scant 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries or raspberries (totally optional)

For the Topping

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick COLD unsalted butter cut into small cubes

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and generously butter a 6×9″ pan.
  2. Slice the peaches into eights and peel each slice (I find it easier to peel them once they’re sliced than to peel the peaches first.  If your peaches are riper, you can certainly submerge each peach in a pot of boiling water for about 1 minute, and then immediate immerse them into a bowl of ice water – this will make the skins very easy to peel off.)
  3. Combine the peaches and any berries you might be using with the sugar and flour.  I usually use a flexible spatula to do this so I don’t bruise the fruit too much.
  4. Pour the fruit into the prepared pan.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients.  I use my fingers to mash the butter up a bit and really combine it with the flour and sugar.
  6. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit.
  7. Bake for 35-60 minutes – the length of cooking time will depend on just how ripe the peaches you used were – cooking time will be shorter the riper the peaches are.  Just take a look at around the half hour mark and judge accordingly.
  8. This is a dessert best served warm with vanilla ice cream!

Emerging From the Proverbial Cocoon & The End of the 100 Day Project

For the last TEN weeks, our house has been under renovation.  What was supposed to be a quick and painless project turned into a long and tedious one that culminated last week in most of the contents of the house residing somewhere other than where they’re meant to be.

I had been prepared for a 6-week adventure of living and cooking out of our basement.  Six weeks, I figured, was nothing.  We could totally get by using 2 bar fridges, a chest freezer, a barbecue and an instant pot.  Six weeks, with the end of school, the start of summer, and all the activities that happen during that period, would fly by.

But as six weeks turned into ten, the project started to take a toll – at least on me, anyway.  My entire way of living was thrown for a loop.  Meals were consumed at odd times, composed of things that didn’t need to be cooked (no eggs), that took up little room in our compressed refrigerator space, or that could be prepared in about 5 minutes flat.  Daily visits to the gym were more often that not cancelled as I found myself running out to Lowes or Home Depot for emergency supplies, or simply waiting in my house for tradespeople to show up.  For someone who has such an entrenched routine (one that has been devised over the past few years to produce optimal vitality), and who craves consistency, predictability, and order, this past month has been nothing short of torture.

With that being said, the final aspects of the project should be completed on Friday, marking the end of this long cocooning period, with my new kitchen emerging out of the dust and debris like a beautiful butterfly.

Which means . . . I can go back to life as usual.  I can cook and eat the way I want to.  I can exercise when I want to.  And of course, I can putter around my house and my garden without having to look out for where the tradesmen might be working.

Sadly, over these last ten weeks, #the100dayproject has also been running.  And while I have been taking photos of the sky every day, for the last few weeks, I simply haven’t had the energy to post my photos and quotes.  As day after day went by without posting, the guilt grew over my inability to complete this project the way I had intended to 100 days ago.

Taking a page from Emily Ley’s Book, Grace Not Perfection, I decided to cut myself some slack, relax, and and be content that I at least managed to take a sky photo every day, even if they weren’t all posted.

And as I was contemplating all this, while I stepped out tonight to take my 100th photo, I found a very fitting sky . . .

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An absolutely stunning show of a sunset . . . with . . . a few dark clouds rolling through for good measure.  Proving once again, that nothing’s perfect.  And that perhaps the sunset was made even more beautiful by the start contrast with the dark storm clouds.

So, with that wonderfully, metaphorical photo, I will once again be bringing my 100 Day Project to an end.

However, with my new kitchen, renewed time now that I’m not dealing with the multitude of issues that arise from any sort of renovation project, and the bevy of wonderful things that summer brings, I will once again get back to sharing stories and adventures, and workouts and recipes, and other assorted good things with you.

xoxo

Why I #runDisney

Goodness . . . it’s been a LONG time since my last post.  And while I’ve missed jotting down my musings here, there’s been a few things going on . . . like a little kitchen renovation project . . .

and gardening season . .

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which, after several days of planting, is turning into this:

and of course all the end of year, planning for next year, stuff of life that happens when you have kids.

But as crazy as the past month has been, in those quiet moments, when I’m driving to an from schools, or design stores, or I’m speed planting flowers in my garden, my thoughts keep returning to the #runDisney event I did four weeks ago.

Those that know me, know that I love to be active.  I’ve joyfully participated in crossfit of some form or another for years now.  I faithfully train with the Coach a few times a week.  And it’s rare for a day to go by without me finding my way into the gym.  But I have NEVER, EVER considered myself a runner.  The fact that my running “form” has been compared to both a bunny rabbit and a kangaroo perhaps offers a clue as to why I’ve never been a natural at running.  Although, quite frankly, running was always the one form of physical activity that I just could never find the mental fortitude needed to see my way through a run that lasted any longer than about 20 minutes.

But something changed this fall.

Over the summer, I had gradually, unconsciously, built up my ability to run.  With just a kettle bell, a skipping rope a yoga mat, and dirt roads at the cottage, short running intervals played a large part in my daily workouts – if only to break up the monotony of burpees and skipping.

Then my son signed up for the cross country team at school, and was able to earn “bonus miles” for runs he did at home. We started doing short runs together, working up to 5k, earning some virtual Harry Potter run medals in the process, and culminating in finishing the 5k portion of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  Those runs I did with my son taught me a lot – the gentle encouragement and support I offered him as he worked his way through our runs made me realize how I talk myself through a workout – let’s just say my self-talk sounds distinctly different, and I wanted to work on changing that.

During those first few weeks of September, while the Husband was starting to question what I would like to do for my 40th birthday, something, I wish I could remember what it was, runDisney and Tinkerbell-run related arrived in my in-box.  Our annual trip to DisneyWorld often coincides with the Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend – hearing the runners’ stories, seeing them walk around the parks withe their medals has always intrigued me . . .

And so, I found myself registering for the Tinkerbell 10K.

Before I knew it, race day arrived.  My fears that had built up in the intervening months melted away as the start of the race drew closer.  My fears of being alone (it’s the first time I’ve done any sort of sport without a coach or a teammate) dissipated as I met and chatted with other runners in my corral.  My internal debate as to whether I should run the race to see how fast I could run, or whether I should run the race for fun dissipated with each character photo stop I passed along the way.  And my worries about whether or not I could even run a 10K disappeared as I caught sight of the finish line and the Husband and the kids cheering me on.

When you run Disney, every mile really is magical.  Running alone allowed me to take it all in – to marvel at the ages of some of my fellow runners (and just how fast they could run), to admire those running in costumes, to smile at the parent/child running teams, the husband/wife pairings, or the groups of women running together.  It seemed as though everyone on the course, was happy to be there.  Myself included.

But more than anything, running Disney reminded me that just when you think it’s getting too hard to keep going, when you really just want to stop . . . you round a bend and come across something truly magical – whether it’s another runner that inspires you, the sight of a favourite attraction, the view of the sun rising through the park, or a silly character interaction.  And you’re inspired to keep going, to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And so . . . now that I’m hooked on running Disney,  I’ve already signed up for my next runDisney race . . . the Princess Half Marathon.  I’m also looking to find a way to justify going back to do the Tinkerbell 10K again next year too . . . (but don’t tell the Husband that).

In the meantime, I will actually work on my running technique – hopefully by February, I’ll look like I actually ran the race . . . not bounced my way through it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Problem is Not the Problem . . .

The problem is not the problem.  The problem is your attitude about the problem.

-Captain Jack Sparrow

If ever there was a phrase to describe how I’ve been acting outwardly and how I’ve been feeling inwardly these past few weeks, it would be “a tempest in a teapot”.  Like the saying suggests, I feel very much like I’ve been a force of nature whirling around the house, touching everything and leaving a mess in my wake . . . while inside my thoughts and emotions have been swirling around making it difficult to settle and get myself (inwardly and outwardly) in order.

So, what exactly is my problem?

What has turned me into this whirling dervish?

Well, I’m not entirely sure.

It could be that we’re about to embark on a renovation that is going to render me kitchen-less for about six weeks.  It could be that in about eight weeks, my little one will graduate from her little school, a place that has been part of my routine for the last six years, and move on to grade 1, a sure sign that my little ones are really and truly growing up.  It could be that if I’m not a mom to little ones, I’m not entirely sure of my role in life. It could be that health issues affecting several people close to me have had me revisiting the time in my life when I had health issues, and all the emotions that surround that time in my life.  It could be that I’m standing on the precipice of my life changing in so many ways, and while all of these changes are good, change has a way of making me (just a little bit) scared.

Last night, the kids were begging for a “good breakfast”.  I heard tales of how other boys in my son’s class get bacon and eggs EVERY DAY MOM.  And how other kids in my daughter’s class get to eat fun cereals like “Frozen Flakes”.  So, I compromised as best as I could in the moment, and promised the kids pancakes for breakfast.  (I don’t like smelling like bacon when I’m trying to do a workout, so bacon is out as a weekday breakfast food.  And “sugar cereals”, well, they’re just not happening in our house.  Period).  Pancakes, on the other hand . . . well, I can make a reasonably healthy pancake reasonably quickly, that makes everyone happy (even if I did smell faintly of pancakes at the gym this morning . . . sorry Coach).  Added bonus: I doubled the recipe, made extra to freeze, so we can reheat them in the toaster when the kitchen renovation is happening.

But I digress.  As the kids were eating and I was cleaning up, my son bounded into the kitchen to tell me that there was a beautiful sky outside.  Because I was up early to make the aforementioned special breakfast for the kids, I was dressed and presentable enough to grab my camera and run outside.  And what I found was a truly beautiful sunrise.

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But as I turned to walk back to the house, I was faced with a very different looking sky.

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In other words, the skies this morning were kind of like a metaphor for my life.  Focusing on all change that’s going to happen, and resisting that change, is like standing glued to one spot looking at the gloomy, grey sky.  But opening up to, and accepting the changes that are inevitably coming, I can start to see the good in what is to come, like turning physically around this morning to watch the beauty of the sun rise.

“The problem is not the problem.  The problem is your attitude about the problem”.

 

 

Learning to Let Go (aka Accepting that My Kids are Actually Growing Up)

Can I make a confession?  It kills me that my little ones are growing up.  I miss hearing the little high pitched voices, the little footsteps running through the house, the happy sounds of the little kid cartoon shows and the giggles that went with them.  My house is filled with bigger, louder voices now, heavier footsteps (still running through the house), and annoying “bigger kid” tv shows that have me alternating between gritting my teeth and demanding the tv be turned off – at least the giggles have remained!

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I’ve been in denial about this for quite some time now.

But my great Lego project has helped me to start to put things in perspective.  Let me explain.

While the majority of our crumbling Lego sets reside in the basement, my son had a decent-sized collection of lego decorating his room.  Sadly, it was facing the same fate as the Lego in the basement – namely, it was slowly disintegrating, with bits and pieces falling off as the sets got moved.  And so, last week, I took it all out of his room and added it to my pile of Lego to disassemble, sort and bag.  While I was at it, (and while he was at school), I took the opportunity to clean out the rest of his room.  I went through the bookcases, and removed books that were clearly too young for him.  I boxed up all the Mickey Mouse ear hats we have collected during our trips to Disney.  And while I was at it, I did a good sweep of the Little One’s room too.

As I continued through the house, cleaning up the detritus of the kids’ toddler years (I was amazed how much was left), I got to thinking about clutter, and tidying up, and letting go.  While I love a neat and tidy house, I love being a mom and having my kids around more.  And thus, my house has, for the last eight years, been a jumble of toys and clutter.  Sure, it gets straightened up, on a not infrequent basis I might add, but its still there, lurking in bins and behind closet doors.

But, as the Lego, is slowly getting sorted and boxed, so are my emotions about the kids growing up.  We’re entering a new phase with them, one where we can adventure more, explore more (unencumbered by a stroller, no less!).  A phase that stands to be equally as fun and rewarding as the phase of toddlerhood has been.

And so, I’m going to start looking less towards the past, and more towards the future.  But in the meantime, I’m going to treasure every time my son holds my hand, every time my daughter climbs into my lap for a snuggle, every Disney movie they want to watch (even if it means seeing Frozen for the 1,000,000,000th time), every chance I can get them to still wear matching pj’s, and of course, every early morning wake-up (well, maybe not every time we get called by one of the kids waking up for the day at 4:30am), and every bedtime cuddle, because, as I look to the future, I know that all these lovely little moments will get fewer and further between.

 

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The Return of #The100DayProject

So today marks the start of this year’s #The100DayProject – 100 days of doing something creative – and posting about it on Instagram.  I LOVED this project last year.  And I am pretty excited to start it again this year.

Just like last year, my plan is to take a photo of the sky every day for the next 100 days.  Last year, I found this practice profoundly enlightening; even on the greyest days, I was forced to find beauty in the clouds.  And on the days with the clearest of blue skies, I was forced to find something interesting to capture.  All of which, of course, is oh so applicable to real life . . . that even in the worst of situations, there is a little bit of good (you just have to search for it).  And that things are never truly interesting if they are completely “perfect”.

So . . . without further ado, I’m kicking this year’s project off . . . with a photo of the stormy skies we’ve had all day today.

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“Without rain, nothing grows.”

Even though I was hoping (kind of like last year) for a spectacular sunrise, I am not disappointed to have had grey skies all day today.  100 days from now, these same trees will all be covered in brilliant green leaves.  The flowers will be in bloom.  And the birds will be happily chirping.  Or, to put it differently, within the span of the next 100 days, we will be out of the grey rainy days of April and into the sunny, verdant days of summer.  A metaphor for life if ever there was one . . . out of grey, difficult times, we emerge, a brighter, more interesting version of ourselves.

The Gift Of March Break

Like most of my stories, this one begins a few weeks ago.  It was early on an unseasonably warm Monday morning, the kids, the Husband and I were heading off to our favourite playground in Central Park, the sun was rising over the buildings on the Upper East Side, and my son looked up at me and asked “Can we move to New York?”, before taking off with his sister to beat the adults to the playground.

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Last week, we were fortunate enough to spend a week in the Dominican.  As I waded out into the ocean with my kids to watch the sun rise, I silently wondered “When can we move to the Dominican?” (or anywhere else where I can wander out in bare feet, put my toes in the ocean and watch the sun rise?)

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But as we are now firmly back in Canada, (where there will be no wandering outside in bare feet for at least another few weeks), and preparing to get back into our routines with school starting tomorrow, I’m realizing that my desire to stay in the sunny warmth of the Dominican was rooted in something much deeper than the enjoyment I get out of this particular routine.

Travel, and this trip to the Dominican, in particular, allows each of us to follow our “must” and, for the most part, to forget about our “shoulds” (please check out this amazing article that I just can’t seem to reference enough to understand the idea of must and should).  For me, on this particular trip, I MUST start each day with a wander out to see the sun rise, with camera in one hand, espresso in the other, and preferably in the company of my little ones, and/or the Husband.  (I also MUST end each day with a (large) glass of bubbly, preferably in the company of several amazing new girlfriends, while the husbands chat and the kids play with their new friends).

But more importantly, in the absence of the million and one little “shoulds” that I have in my normal everyday life at home, the endless to-do lists, the pinging of incoming texts and emails, the urgent ring of the phone, there is time to breathe, and respond to the “musts” of others.  Whether that was curling up with a book to read to the little one, or venturing into the cool water of the pool to play catch with the older one.  There was unhurried time to listen, to respond, and to engage with each of the kids (and the Husband).

What made this experience all the more poignant for me, though, was in the moment, right after taking a series of photos of the kids, in their rings, watching the sunrise, when I put my camera down, and went to float with the kids; as we watched, and quietly chatted to each other, it struck me just how grown up my kids were becoming.  And just how little time I have left with them like this.  Normally, in moments like these, I start to reminisce about the past, to romanticize what was, and to do my best to will time to stop marching forward.  But this time, I simply enjoyed the moment for what it was; and after the sun had risen, and we floated back to shore, I allowed myself to look forward to what the future might hold.

I entitled this post “The Gift of March Break”.  In all honesty, this break provided us with several gifts including the gift of new friends, of good times, happy memories . . .But the gift I’m referring to, is the gift of perspective.

While there will always be “shoulds” in my everyday life, how I deal with those “shoulds” will allow me the opportunity to follow my “must” and allow the kids, and the Husband, to follow their “musts” too.  I don’t want to get so caught up in what I should be doing, that I let this precious time I have with the kids fly by unnoticed; unsavored.  When my son innocently asked if we could move to New York, it wasn’t just because he loves the City so much, or because he is the world’s biggest Rangers fan, I think it’s because I think he felt there, what I felt in the Dominican.

And as we start back at school and into routines tomorrow, I will do my best to make sure that we can all feel that way, even though we’re not on vacation.

 

 

 

Practice Makes . . .

Having spent my formative years as a figure skater, the one adage that was drilled into me, and that I have consequently always held tightly to was . . . yup. . .”practice makes perfect”.  But events over the past month have had me questioning whether that’s always the case.

See, back in the middle of January, my son came home from school with a box of multiplication flash cards and a log sheet.  The note from the teacher accompanying these two items explained that each child in the class was to answer as many flash cards as they could in ONE minute (a new card could not be shown until the previous one had been answered correctly), and they were to repeat this exercise five time each day.

At first, we ALL thought this little exercise was awesome.  So awesome in fact, that even my daughter wanted in on the action, so we started a sight word card challenge for her.  Each time the exercise was repeated, the scores went up, and everyone was excited.

But as the days ticked by, and the improvements in the results started to slow, the enthusiasm started to wain.  In its place crept frustration and impatience.

Sound familiar???

How many times as adults have we started some new program, regime, diet, only to get frustrated and impatient as the results slowed, or stopped appearing altogether, at which point, as adults not necessarily held accountable to anyone but ourselves, we abandon our ambitions.

With my kids, it was easy to find ways to keep them excited with their practice – I started calculating daily average scores, which tended to increase daily, even if individual scores didn’t change too much, among numerous other things.

But as an astute girlfriend pointed out – once you hit a certain point, there were diminishing returns to this exercise.

Concurrently, through the month of February, I was engaged in “Practice February” with my One Little Word project – those of us in the course were encouraged to pick one thing and to “practice” it daily throughout the month of February.  And . . . I was also working through my daily, weekly and monthly goals in my PowerSheets.  And . . . I was trying to keep up with working out (in the event that I changed my mind and entered the CrossFit Open).  And . . .I was practicing running as much as I could in preparation for the Tinkerbell 10K.

And . . . at the end of the month, which happened to co-incide with my 40th birthday . . .I realized I wasn’t as happy with things as I thought I should/would be, given how well everything in my life was running.

Cue the concept of diminishing returns, the idea that maybe all this practice was running me into the ground, and a suggestion by the Coach to take a break from my regular workout regime . . .

And so I find myself here, embarking on a new month of practice – the practice of yoga, of stretching, of breathing, and of letting go of what I thought I NEEDED to do to feel the way I wanted to feel.  And you know what – this whole idea of NOT practicing what I have been doing for the last few years is helping me feel more the way I want to feel.  Oh the irony . . .

While I doubt I’ll ever completely abandon the “practice makes perfect” adage, I am realizing that practicing one thing till you’re absolutely perfect may well result in diminishing returns – to how you feel, physically and mentally and emotionally.  And if you find yourself at the point of diminishing returns, then it’s time to take a look at finding a new way, or something entirely new to practice.

 

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