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Balance

Balance. We hear this word all the time. It is something I constantly aspire to. But what does it mean? Really. In practice.   I dream of myself standing still in tree pose balancing Still Focused Centered Grounded.   But when I am in tree pose in the peace of my local yoga studio There are no children yelling, wrestling, playing underfoot. There is no dish or laundry pile. There is no work deadline. It is just me in my yoga studio, imagining I’m a tree. Outside that yoga studio life does not stand still and quiet, granting me the space and peace to balance myself like a tree. (Not my life, anyway.) My life challenges me to balance along multiple axis, moving forward in the... read more

Mind your mind, own your time, nourish your soul

I’m in mid-holiday swing. That week that bridges X-mas and New Years is so unique. This week and last – my opportunities to practice my Merry Mama mantra: relax, into calm connection. This is not my mantra because it comes naturally. It’s my mantra because it’s what is missing What I desire What I dream of What I work to manifest Every. Single. Day. Over the last four weeks. And it’s easier to do it while I’m on a beach in Mexico (like I was last week – oh glory!) But the mother challenge doesn’t lie in staying calm on that beach, Or at that yoga class Or on that solitary walk. The mother challenge is in finding peace and staying calm When your 5 year old is tantruming When your... read more

Light, Life & Transformations

I am not religious. I prefer to think of myself as agnostic.   I do believe in spirit That there is more to us than meat and bones That there is more to living than survival.   I believe in Buddhist principles And I hold nature in reverence.   I guess I’m somewhere between Buddhist and Pagan. A Pagan Buddhist? Still working it out, really.   So at this time of year, while our family does follow a tradition of celebrating the magical coming of the man in the red coat, the giving and receiving of gifts, the practicing gratitude and appreciating abundance I also like to look at what nature has to teach us on a more personal level I want to explore how, through simple... read more

Savoring the Sweet & Simple

Today we are talking about Savoring the Sweet & Simple. It’s such a busy time. There really isn’t any time of year that is busier than now for me. Deadlines. Commitments. And while I won’t go on about my husband being away for two weeks (because I already have, though I really so so so could…go on I mean…a real rant and vent session, but I won’t!) Or go on about how my kids have needed to stay home with colds and coughs (double argh). I will say that it’s been tough. I meet Moms I know at school pick-up, at the grocery store. I ask them how they are and in the eyes and responses of those who know me well enough to feel safe in telling the truth. I feel frazzled energy, I see a... read more

An ABC solution to holiday hot head moments?

It’s officially the Holiday season And with that comes this crazy sense of intensity Which, in my case is exponentially exacerbated by the cold hard fact that my husband is travelling for Two. Looooong. Weeks.   Yes, this is the woman who runs the Ditch Stress & Be Merry, Mom webinar. And yes, I’ve followed my own advice. I’ve simplified and streamlined.   I’ve lessened my Holiday to do’s Said no to volunteer commitments at the school Said no to the one extra Holiday Party I felt would take me over the edge Said yes to more e-cards Said yes to 100% on-line shopping   But there is still a lot to do!   The kids’ schedules... read more

Monkey Minds & To Do lists: a terrible twosome

When my older kids were little (before number 3 came along) I worked full-time. I worked supporting HIV/AIDS programming in Southern Africa – an increasingly low priority for the organization that employed me. My team was under-resourced but extremely competent, dedicated and very overworked. While my team was well managed and led, the organization as a whole was not. Morale was low. This was my work world.   Because I believed in what I was doing, I brought it home with me – both materially AND mentally. It rarely left my mind.   Meanwhile, family logistics – child transportation, food management, bills and the very few social engagements we had – occupied the little... read more

Joy & Gratitude

Last night I lay in bed. It had been a rough day. An anger moment with my husband. A feeling of being undervalued by my daughter. And lots to do before I close “shop” before the long weekend.   I was tired but my mind was buzzing.   Meanwhile, humming around at the back of my mind was this wonderful message I’d heard from the famous Brené Brown: There is no joy, without gratitude, she had said.   And so, in my desperate pursuit for joy last night I decided to start practicing gratitude. To give it a go, anyway.   I snuggled into bed and got comfortable. I switched the light off. I ignored my husband’s snores. I lay on my back, focusing on the weight of my body on the... read more

The Jones’s

In my neighborhood, the Jones’ live in a nice Colonial Revival brick house.   Mr. and Mrs. Jones both have well paying high status jobs. They have a house they pay a mortgage on. They have two cars that get them where they want to go.   Mr. and Mrs. Jones have kids, too. Their kids do well at school (All “A”s I’m pretty sure). They do soccer. They take piano lessons. They have lots of toys and screens. They behave.   For fun, Mr. and Mrs. Jones go on family holidays once or twice a year. They take their family skiing in the winter The kids go to camp in the summer.   Mr. and Mrs. Jones are good people. They give to many charity organizations. They are part of the... read more

Suffering from shoulditis?

Ok, so if you’ve been following this series, you will now have a few strategies in your toolkit to help you manage those hot head moments, including a great first step in preventing the explosion itself. Today we are going to dive a bit deeper in understanding some of your personal whys, behind your hothead moment. (Scroll down to the podcast if you want to plug yourself in and listen rather than read).   Let’s go back a bit… So we now know 2 things about Momstress and what triggers us during those MOMzilla hot-head moments: The brain doesn’t distinguish between psychological and physiological danger, and activates the same bodily response in each case And in following,... read more

A quick & easy way to prevent Hot Head Momstress Explosions BEFORE they happen

You know when your 4-year old boy is (or was) just about to step into tantrum mode. You know how sometimes you saw it coming and you could veer it off. (Ok, so I can count those times on one hand but alas…) And you remember how veering it off felt oh, so good. “Phew. What a relief. Life can go on despite him not getting lolly pops for breakfast”, you said to yourself. “Maybe I’m not such a bad Mom after all? Hmmm…” Well it’s much the same for us hot head Moms. We can sometimes manage to veer ourselves away from our hot head moments and there are indeed, a few tricks of the trade to help us do that. But for me, most of the time, the easiest... read more

6 Simple Strategies to Manage that UGLY BAD Mom Moment

You know those moments, those really UGLY BAD Mom moments. Those Tyranossaurus Rex moments.You’re tired. You’ve had it. Blood is rushing through your veins, your head is pumping, you see red. The moment you say something you know you will regret. The moment you can’t stop. You know that moment. Yup, sadly, I know it too (All too well!) See, I’m a hot head Mom. Now (sometimes) I’m a recovering hot head Mom who, with certain preventative ninja strategies and a strict self-care regime, is equipped to STOP that moment. Here are 6 quick and easy strategies to help you STOP and CALM in that moment. Move your body consciously – be aware of your movement, of the feeling in the part of your... read more

Momstress | Why Moms freak out.

I’ve had a lot on my plate lately. But even when I don’t, I need to be honest with myself: I’m a hot head. If left to my own devices, I get stressed out easily and often. {this is why moms freak out} I freak out. And then I feel horrible. The bad Mom. I hate the guilt. I hate the regret. And worst of all, I end up hating myself. When my kids held the mirror up to me a few years back – replicating my crazy hot-head reactions, I decided enough was enough. The guilt of yelling was one thing, the guilt of raising kids who lacked self-control, of wrecking my kids was another. I needed to stop the stress from taking me over for myself, yes. More importantly, I needed to do this for the... read more

Life.

I’ve been absent from my life for months now, I know.   It was one of those “life happens” things.   Actually, it was more of a “death happens” thing.   See, after a year of knowing that my mother’s life was shortened by terminal cancer, it ended.   Her life here, with us, ended on August 5th, this past summer.   I remember the moment we learned that her cancer was terminal. We were on the beach near my husband’s hometown in Barcelona. I remember the sense of powerlessness. The distance. The desperate need to be next to her. To hold her and to say it was ok, even though it really wasn’t. The desperate need to mother my mother.   The tides had changed long ago... read more

Trust.

Somehow today’s Mom has conned herself into believing that life should always be happy, perfect, blissful. That so should we. And that so should our families. In other words, we have fooled ourselves into believing that life should be different than it is. It should be better. And that we’re doing IT wrong, if it isn’t. We look around us and see that others appear to be doing it better. We assume they have the answers. Other Mothers or Experts know something we don’t.   It is all too common for mothers to feel torn between their own intuition and societal messages; or to be too busy or disconnected in a particular moment so that they simply follow suit, ignoring their... read more

Remedy the drag of motherhood and lift yourSELF UP, Mom!

Mothers are busy. We give. In many ways our job is to love others. And we are good that that.   But love ourselves? We aren’t always so good at that. In fact, we are so good, so effective at loving others that we forget to love ourselves. We might even forget what self-love means or looks like   Because we are too busy doing, rushing Or getting down on ourselves for not doing or rushing enough.   However it is only from a place of authentic self-love that we can move forward in our decisions and actions compassionately; from a place of authenticity and heart.   Loving yourself grants you the clarity and the energy to design a motherhood experience that not only... read more

Calm Mom Dinner Time tips

So, us busy Moms all about being more efficient and productive. We’re all about trying to get more time (time, oh precious time!) Setting up systems that support easier family and house management is a super way to do this. BUT (and this is a big but)… Systems can also prove to be a false crutch in that they encourage us towards DOING MORE, DOING PERFECT and DOING “SHOULDS”. This is clearly true when it comes to managing that old friend that comes around every evening: Dinner time. So before you read on and start considering how to make your dinner times easier, take a moment and ask your Calm Mom self what voice is fueling what dinner time SHOULD look like. For... read more

Dinner Time, my old friend (NOT!)

“Ah, Dinner Time, my old friend. Is it time for you to visit already? Again? So soon?”   In truth Dinner Time is everything but a friend to me. She shows up late afternoon every day (Yes, every SINGLE day!) Like an unwelcome guest Arriving and making demands at the worst time of day.   A time when the children are needy. Tired. Irritable. A time when I want to run away. When my brain is empty and my mind if fuzzy. When my energy is low and patience is dwindling.   Dinner time! Stop draining my brain! Stop making me think?   I don’t know what to make of you. Ingredients are mismatched Or missing Or unwanted by little mouths   You require so much.... read more

Mothers’ time

When mothers come to me for guidance or support, they all have one thing in common. Above everything else, they all want just one simple thing. They want time. More time. Better quality time. More quality time with those they share their lives with. Those they love the most. Lately life has been throwing a message out at me. It is a reminder. A reminder that time (as you know it know) with those you love is finite. As mothers we know this because every once in a while, when life feels like it is standing still we stop and notice how short our child’s trousers are on him or how sophisticated her observation was articulated or how small their bicycles have become. I often try to look... read more

Savoring scruffy: letting imperfection become your perfect

When my three monkeys were younger, people used to ask me how I did it. By this they meant raising three kids under 6, starting-up two businesses and leading the management of a house and family in between three house moves and one international move, with an often-travelling husband. I remember looking back at these people through splotchy glasses, feeling confused. I remember not knowing how to respond. I remember finally swiping aside my unkept rather greasy hair and saying “not that well, really”. “How do you do it?” It wasn’t a question I really appreciated. While it was said with kindness and acknowledgment, it made me feel bad. Because in all honesty, I... read more

Blossoming into Spring

In the Early Spring I walk. I see growth against all odds.   The buds pushing through the snow. How do they know it’s time?   Their roots are ready. The Earth nourishes their growth.   It is an innate knowing. Change is constant. Growth is inevitable. Motherhood offers the opportunity to reconnect with our natural creative capacity. Our bodies change. Our minds shift. Our lives are forever altered. And our children grow. Everyday. And in every way.   And so just like the buds in the trees or on the soil that come to be, That come to create themselves. We too have that chance. That chance to grow To evolve.   It is nature’s invitation. It is... read more

Stepping out is OK: make family traditions work for you.

Friday evenings have always been about taking it easy for us as a couple – even before kids came along. Post-kid, they have become a bit more about “There is no way I am cooking another dinner! Let’s go for pizza! (In the car N.O.W.)” So Fridays have become a family tradition: Pizza Night. But most recently, I have found that outings to our beloved neighborhood pizza joint have become less enjoyable for me. When I’ve resisted this weekly treat, my husband and kids are so disappointed. It has become something they so look forward to. And so, I have gone along with it FOR THEM. The thing is, that while I go for them, I am pretty miserable company TO THEM. I get... read more

Guest post: Musings from an introverted Mom

I always tell my clients that in order to have a strong relationships with others, including those that stress them out the most (i.e., kids and partners), it is critical that they develop strong relationships with themSELVES. A first step in doing so is, of course, getting to know yourSELF. I met with Jeanine Cogan, The Intelligent Introvert blogger and Coach, a few weeks back and became fascinated with the different experiences of life that mothers have depending on whether they are introverted or extroverted. I began to ponder. What am I? An introvert or an extrovert? I didn’t know the answer to the question, but after some self-observation I think I’m figuring it out.... read more

The business of Mom busy-ness, stress and why we need to relax

Life is busy. Everyone is on the go. All the time. But nobody is busier than today’s working Mom (and by working Mom, I don’t necessarily mean paid-to-work working Mom). My research suggests that mothers in the D.C. area’s top three complaints: lack of time pace of life and accumulated exhaustion are primary causes of stress – all results of go-go-go busy-ness. The Business of go-go-go Busy-ness & stress “I’ve never been good at resting, taking time out, or giving in to exhaustion. For years, I bought into the mantra that doing is better than being, that productivity is the measure of self-worth. An active life is a good and laudable thing…”Andréana E. Lefton  Our society is one that... read more

Build Moms’ self-confidence #LikeAGirl

Did you see that great Always #LikeAGirl ad? Today is International Women’s Day and I was reminded of it. See, the fact that girls’ self-confidence levels peak at 8 really hit home for me (as a girl’s Mom and as a girl, myself). Parents work so hard these days to build up their children’s self-confidence – boys and girls alike. Our efforts are affirmed when we see videos like Jessica’s Daily Affirmation, which go viral on Facebook and Twitter. This video was taken in 2009. Jessica was 4-years old. She is now 9. She has passed her confidence peak. Is she still dancing in front of the mirror celebrating herself, her family, her life? Moms learn positive parenting. We learn... read more

Toothfairy F&*^-Up

Ok, so Mr. 7 lost his tooth yesterday which he was super excited about. Sure, I was happy for him but hey, he’s number two and I’ve kind of gotten over the tooth fairy thing as my daughters almost lost all her teeth now. Plus I was distracted by a couple of other things…lingering thoughts about my husband’s two week work trip, a few workshops and retreats that were coming up – two of which I’d managed to double book. Suffice it to say, my mind was elsewhere. And Mr. 7 is a fairly quiet boy who simply trusts that the Universe will do as it should, so he didn’t make too much of a fuss about the toothfairy. He simply popped his tooth in the little orange plastic treasure chest the school had... read more

A mother’s hard heart

Today my heart is hard. My child cries and I do not hear him. He doesn’t want to go to school and I don’t care. He has to go. I need space. I am tired. My heart is hard. “Please”, he cries. “I’m sorry you feel this way. You are going…” My voice is dry. And I drum up reasons in my head. He latches onto me. I push him away. I know what he needs. He needs me. I don’t care. My heart is hard. Sometimes I wish I didn’t need that space. Sometimes I wish I didn’t need to work. But I do. I wish I was a better Mom. But I am not. I hear my voice silently say: “I was not made for this. It is never enough. They are draining me dry. It shouldn’t be this way.” And the tears come. And my heart softens.... read more

loving yourSELF equates to loving your loved ones

I know…You’ve heard it all before (not least of which from me, who went on my own self-love rant last Sunday). But this is REALLY IMPORTANT stuff. Just a few days ago, I met a Mom with two kids in their twenties. A common friend was sitting with her. She remarked: “She is a testament to getting through it all, looking great!” (And she did look great.) And she shared her secret in only four words. “Take care of you”, she said. So simple. She went on… “Because if you don’t take care of you, they just feel like little buckets of germs all the time and you really don’t want to be around them, do you?” Again. More wise words. So,... read more

What Mom’s have been doing wrong on Valentine’s day

Valentine’s Day. Love it or hate it, it always comes along. For me it’s one of those days (like New Years) full of anticipation and sort of set-up to disappoint. He sort of always gets it wrong. At first he rejected it completely as it is not an occasion that connects in any way with the rational side of my brain, which sort of rejects it as well. Then, he started trying. Then, he started REALLY trying. Poor guy. He’s gotten close, but never quite gotten it right. So, a few times I decided to take the lead. (I am, after all, the woman who sends him ISBN codes as ‘hints’ for Christmas and Birthday gifts.) But somehow that didn’t work either. Because it’s supposed to be from him, right? It’s... read more

Serenity cure to 6 not-so-sexy stressors

When I arrived in D.C. I started (as mothers do), to talk to other mothers. I was checking out the new terrain. Some seemed happy enough. Others were desperate to leave. ALL agreed that the city was intense. Very intense. Stress levels were high, here. It was expensive and the pace of life was unforgiving. My researcher side came to life and I decided to look into this… So I set up a few focus group discussions and carried out some one-on-one interviews. I wanted to learn more about D.C. mothers’ experiences of stress. I discovered 6 major STRESSORS in the lives of mothers, here: 1. TIME. 2. PACE OF LIVING. 3. EXHAUSTION. 4. ISOLATION. 5. MONEY. 6. DIFFERENCES WITH PARTNER.... read more

So, what is this Calm Mom Coaching Circle about, anyway?

ANSWER: Awareness. Clarity. Compassion. Connection Emotional intelligence. Letting-go. Mindfulness. Support. It is about a small group of mothers coming together in a safe and empathetic space to integrate these beautiful qualities into their lives. It is about sharing and exploring simple take-home strategies for managing and reducing Mom-related stress. It is about being supported in stepping towards a more authentic you, the calm and joyful Mom you really are. The Mom guided by love and patience. In the coaching circle we hold one another’s hand, and are guided through a series of coaching and mindfulness exercises and tools to help you to: identify what fuels and triggers stress in... read more

Ever enter Tyrannosaurus Rex mode, Mom?

Sometimes I become a person I don’t recognize…a mother I don’t want to be. I know this ugly transformation is happening when I hear myself saying (inside or out loud): “Ya no puedo más!” [translation: “I can’t do this anymore!”] “Déjame en paz!” [translation: “Leave me in peace!”]   Part and parcel of this is about being a mother who tries REALLY REALLY hard not to say: “Not now, I’m busy.” I try to do stop what I’m doing when one of my three children call me. I work to be present, listen, hear what they are saying. It’s hard. Super hard. And by the time 7pm comes around, my husband still isn’t home (or is abroad which means he won’t be coming home for days), I... read more

RELAX??!! I don’t have time to relax!

Almost every mother I speak with tells me they want to simplify and slow down their family life. They complain of overwhelm, stress, exhaustion. And then, less than one minute later, they scoff at the possibility of a relaxed lifestyle, or calm and joyful living. Why? Because busy-ness, go-go-go’ing from one planned activity to another has become the norm. And saying “no” to the pulls and pushes that make our lives so busy feels wrong. Saying “no” to an after school enrichment class feels wrong, like we are jilting our 5 year old of their birth-given right to tae-kwon-do, or violin lessons. Saying “no” to organizing that class Valentines’ Day... read more

Setting the tone for 2015

The transition time between the old and the new year offers us an opportunity to reflect, learn and set the tone for what is to come. In addition to inviting a conscious intent into our year, taking a few moments to do this supports our on-going personal development and growth as women and mothers. Too busy? This is a chance to create intention and set the tone for the next 12 months, Mom. It’s not about resolution. It’s about growth. Please, take a moment and do this for YOU.   In reflecting on what I’ve learned in 2014, I have shed some tears, been uplifted and left empowered. (Many who are in my closer circles know it has not been an easy year for personal... read more

Welcoming 2015!

May this new year be one of calm and joyful living for you, mom. with great acknowledgement and respect for the wonder-full person you are and work that you do! alex     read more

A time to go home…

As the crazy months of December and November wrap up and the 2014 year comes to an end, you may find yourself with a non-negotiable will to sit back. You did it! You planned, you organised, you cooked, you wrote, you wrapped, you decorated, you shopped, you hosted, you visited, you travelled, you ate, you drank, you laughed. You gave as you always do. Now it is all coming to an end. And although you may not notice yet, the days are already getting longer. Light is expanding. And you see the calm, stillness of January coming. The routine. But before we step into that routine again, hear the short days and long nights beckoning you to go inwards. Inviting you to take some moments to reflect.... read more

happy holidays!

may these holidays be light & merry. may they be a time where you begin to nourish your own inner angel who will cherish and love you for the incredible woman you are. wishing you joy & calm over the holidays, alex read more

“Not a creature was stirring…”

Twas the night before Christmas And all through the house Not a creature was stirring Not even a mouse.   WRONG!   We Moms know who was stirring (and likely not kissing Santa Clause underneath the mistletoe, either!) It was Mom. We were stirring because well, the kitchen needed tidying, the last few (if we’re lucky) gifts needed wrapping, the stockings needed stuffing and the letter from Santa needed writing. Even today, in 2015, whether or not you were doing ALL of this “backstage work” or whether you were managing and supervising your partner in ensuring it all gets done, you were likely the leader and organiser behind the holiday scenes. It was likely your... read more

5 practical strategies to make Mom’s holidays merry

“Christmas is for children, aren’t you feeling young?” Um, no. I’m not. At all. (duh!) In fact, the winter holiday season has, in the past, been one of the most stressful times for me. Last week I wrote about how I finally made a conscious choice to shift from being the engine behind never-ending and exhausting efforts to create the “perfect” holiday season – the one we saw in movies, tv series and commercials. The ones the malls and magazines sell us. I bought it all. And now I’m letting it all go and replacing it with a holiday that is centred around the few values that are most important to me. This is a work in progress.. A first step in... read more

Create the Merry Mom Christmas YOU WANT

As the holidays swiftly land upon us, many mothers look at the month ahead with doom in their eyes. Some of you might have experienced the holidays as a stressful period where your list of ‘to do’s’ gets longer, your children more excited, your partner more anxious (as your visa bill grows, bank account dwindles and family descends upon your home), your house more cluttered and, inevitably, the shadows under your eyes darker. Sure, there are those romantic images of children happily decorating the tree while father reads his newspaper quietly in the corner or has a diplomatic yet thought provoking conversation with his in-laws, and mother chats with her sister over a glass of mulled wine... read more

Simon says: “Thank you, ME”

On Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., I went to a gorgeous yoga class in the morning. Our teacher, Amy, helped us to open our hearts by getting into a supported restorative fish pose. She then asked us to connect with our heart and take a few breaths thanking someone we cared about. This was easy. And then, after some time doing this, she requested that we do the same but this time thanking OURSELVES. “Say Thank you, ME”, she instructed. And you know what? Doing this was really hard! And that is why, just as Amy asked me to stretch myself in this way, I’m going to invite all you Mama’s to do the same. Take a moment to either be in restorative fish pose or to sit... read more

I have a dream…

So at the beginning of every school year, my children are invited to reflect on their hopes and dreams for the year. This year, my daughter (she’s 10) had the privilege of stepping up on the podium at the Lincoln Memorial and sharing her hopes and dreams with her class. Her hope was to do better in math (so cute!) It got me thinking… I know I do what I do because it’s in my heart but what is my hope? my dream? my vision? And what is the WHY behind that? What is my envisioned contribution? Some reflections: We live in a city/ country/ world where mothers are increasingly pressured to do (and have) it all. Yet in our struggle to do/ have it all, many of us are driven by... read more

Getting REAL about motherhood…ouch.

The REALness of motherhood happened to me like a bomb raid happens to a small village of civilians. Like osmosis, my friends’ pregnancies were making me broody. I wanted to start a family so badly. It would be easy. I would pop my child onto my back and continue living as I always had. BUZZ. Wrong answer   When motherhood came, it chewed me up, swallowed me whole and then spit me out as a new unrecognisable, mad, crazy woman. And there I was MAD with an adopted toddler and a newborn in arm. We received our adoption authorisation ten days before I found myself pregnant. Mia came to us in February and Oriol was born in August. In September we moved from Mozambique, in Southern... read more

“It’s in your heart.”

“It’s in your heart.” My mother told me the other day. And, as usual, she answered me with the honest truth.   I was asking her “WHY?”. “WHY, Mom, do I do I keep struggling to get the word out?” “What is driving me so hard to get this Calm Mom movement off the ground?” “It is in your heart,” she said.   Yes, it is in my heart and born of my experience.   See, while most people I meet perceive a calmness about me, those who know me better know that this is neither a permanent or natural state of being for me. The truth is that I am a recovering Type-A (just ask my ex-boyfriend!). I don’t know if it was... read more
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