Back to school.

We have been back at it for a couple of weeks now.

I can honestly say that as I begin my 4th year of homeschooling, this is the first time I have felt confident and non-anxious about school.

If you are new to homeschool I want to just give you a shout out to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!  I was a wreck for the first two years. I compared myself to every other homeschool mom I talked to. I compared my kids to every other homeschool kid I saw.  I battled discouragement and self-doubt. I sat online every Monday searching for jobs and for private schools.

Think you’re not smart enough?  Nonsense.

Think you’re not patient enough? Breathe, smile and count to 10.

Think you are not organized enough? We are all in process.

I remind myself everyday that I have been given a gift, three to be exact. I finally stopped fighting my own insecurities, and started celebrating my strengths. I finally took my eyes off of what everyone else is doing, and turned my heart toward what is right for us.

Back to school: Back to simplicity. Back to focus. Back to schedule. Back to one day at a time, one morning at a time. Back to one breath at a time.

Happiness

Sitting with my family on the 5th of July, 2014, pondering the feeling of happiness.

Happiness for me, is contentment, pleasure, connection, fun.  I am simple people, with simple ways.

I feel happy each morning when I make my coffee and take the dogs for a walk on the trail.

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I feel happy when my flowers emerge in spring.

IMG_3216I feel happy when I watch my children charge through the woods like wild mustangs.

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Tonight, I feel happy playing guitar with my dad, singing #MerleHaggard and sipping wine by the pool.

First official selfie with my dad

First official selfie with my dad

Flexibility

IMG_8990I bend so I don’t break.

Inflexibility is a symptom of short-sightedness.  When we are rigid, we can not see past our own fear and control.  Often it is the flexible who experience a deeper understanding of problem-solving, creative expression and success.

But we are all in process, are we not?

As a yoga practitioner,  I frequently go head to head with inflexibility. You can not get through a yoga sequence without being challenged in physical flexibility. The temptation is to get frustrated and plunge into self discouragement. The truth is, the efforts of my practice will always be in process.

Each day of our lives shapes up. Lengthening, strengthening, stretching.  Examine your own flexibility today.  Are you afraid of losing control? Do you trust those around you? Are you open to possibilities? Do you trust yourself?

Forever stumbling forward toward completion,

Nikki

Balance

Life is a pendulum. A series of movements toward the center – toward balance. When times of extreme hit, no need to knee-jerk, or over function. We take a breath. We focus, and trust that the pendulum will once again swing the opposite direction. Long term thinking, a vision for completion.IMG_6621

Unattached to the opinions of others

Last week, a mama left me a voicemail, “Nikki, I need to have a conversation with you and it’s not going to be fun.”

You can imagine my angst in returning that phone call!  My mind was spinning about all the ways I might have offended her, or inappropriate deeds my kids might have done.  Was it a Facebook post that didn’t set well with her?  Is it my choice of reading material? My use of technology? Is she concerned that I practice yoga and have introduced it to my kids, and thus to their friends?

My mind spun for about an hour. Then I came to myself.  Although I know I have blind spots, I am parenting my children in the way I have chosen, and I have nothing to fear from the opinions of others.  This realization and reminder was so comforting to me that I picked up the phone and made the call.  I received her concerns with humility and understanding.

This mama and I talked through everything and it worked out fine.  The issue was regarding security and safety during playtime on my property. Her concern had to do with girls and boys mingling – and she needed to understand my play protocol. THAT WAS IT!!  What an easy conversation it could have been. Instead I allowed her initial voicemail trip me up into insecurity and self-doubt.

It is so freeing when we can be bold and confident in our own skin – and in our own intentions. When we unhinge our identity from external influence, we can soar without hindrance.  When we are true to ourselves, authentically, we can buffer the criticism and even judgement of others. And what’s even better?  When we respond with a clear head and interact with the person humbly, the conversation has nowhere to go but UP!

Ultimately, I am thankful for this experience because it reminds me that being attached to the opinions of others is toxic. There is no room for this in the healthy soul.  Call me and let’s talk more about this.  🙂

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JUICE!

We love juice!  Well, I take that back. I love juice. The children love TO juice.  There is a difference….

We all have such a good time peeling and cutting and watching all the different veggies and fruits go into the juice machine. We can spend an hour creating different combinations of juice.  Pretty much, the only kind of juice the kids will drink – at this point – is Pineapple/Apple, or Pineapple/orange.  And that is ok!  Sure, I want their juice to be full of Kale and Spinach and Beet. That just isn’t going to happen anytime soon. But at least Pineapple/orange is better than red Gatorade or a CapriSun!IMG_0644

For the juicing mamas out there.  I want you to try my “hot mama” recipe.

  • 1/2 of a beet
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 3 apples
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 of a ginger root
  • 1 whole jalapeño!

It is amazing how the ginger and the jalapeño give this SWEET juice a spicy  kick!  Disclaimer: this juice is not for the faint of heart. Channel your inner TEXAN.  Of course, like any recipe you will need to play around with it.  Add another apple or two if you need to offset the veggies or the spicy. Depending on what I have, I will add a celery stalk or pear or mango here and there.  But you get the point!

What kinds of juice do you make with your children?

Have any ideas of how to get the kids to introduce more veggies into their juicing?

Calm, cool and collected

Do you think some parents have an intrinsic knack from being non-anxious in any situation? I was talking with a fellow mama the other day about children, sibling conflict, defiance and disrespect, and general fussiness. We joked about how easy it is to shout, “Would you stop SHOUTING!?”

How do you keep your cool as a parent?

Even though it may seem like some parents have a higher threshold for madness, I do believe that harmony and temperance can be learned and practiced.  When we are loving unconditionally, we have no reason to blow our top.  Even when I become the target of my child’s aggression, I must respond with compassion. I don’t see that as weak – in fact I see it as supremely strong.

I think there is a level of detachment that has to happen in intense situations with children.  I can not be tied to whether or not my kids like me in any given moment. I can not be worrying about what they might say to me. If I have clearly and consistently laid out boundaries for them, then I can confidently stand by those boundaries and not be swayed by their agitation or imbalance.

Let WAR fall to the FLOOR

Since adolescence is right around the corner for my crew (12 boy, 10 girl, 8 boy), I have experienced a few, ahem, outbursts. The increased changes of mind and body can generate a spike in emotional energy, and suddenly without warning, a battle ensues.

My daughter in particular, the 10 year old, middle child, has recently become a little more prickly.  Because I know that hormones are the culprit,  I can simply respond to her with compassion, even when she behaves in a less than gentle manner.  When it is aimed toward me, I say, “I don’t yell at you, so I would appreciate the same kind of respect.”  She sometimes takes a pause, and reccaliberates,  “Mommy, I am sorry for yelling, what I meant to say was….” And other times, she stomps off.  I can only assume that she is going on a pilgrimage to some safe space to soothe herself.  And that is ok.  Upon her return, she is greeted with a loving welcome.

When the children have an emotional flair up, I don’t take it personally.  And neither should you! When their heart is at war, I hit it head on with PEACE.  I respond non-anxiously and let the WAR fall to the FLOOR. I don’t have to engage in a battle with a child.  I really don’t. When I remain self-defined, their eruption carries no power. Kids need this, do they not?  They need to know that we are strong enough to handle the full gamut of their emotion.

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My mother [God rest her soul, 2002] was a great example of unconditional love.  We always knew where we stood with her. She never took her love away from us regardless of our mood or attitude.  And you know what – – we respected her for it.  She was confident and full of grace.  My mom is the one I channel during difficult emotional moments.  I try to remember my own adolescent turbulence.  I breathe, and muster up the tenderness these little ones need from me, to continue on in their journey.

My hope is, that at some point in their 20’s and 30’s, my children will look back and reflect on our time together. They will unquestionably say that their mom was consistent, tolerant, and gracious. That they were loved regardless of their actions or inner unrest.

C’mon mamas and papas, we can do this. We can get through these turbulent times together! Let’s lock arms and move forward.  But please, I beg you. Don’t lash out at your child, whether they are 4 or 14.  Don’t yell at them just to show them that you can yell louder. Be the adult. Be compassionate. Be aware. Show them that their turbulence is normal and that you understand what they are going through.

At the very least, you will give them less to talk to their therapist about when they get married and have kids of their own!

Just finished the list for Book Circle, Spring 2014!

We are getting started a little bit late this spring, mainly because my girls and I meet outdoors and this winter has been COLD! Essentially, we only have 8 weeks for book circle, but I am excited to see how many of these great reads we get through!

Each semester carries a loose theme. Last Fall, we read about girls from different parts of the world who overcame obstacles of loss, transition and family crises.  This spring, we are coming back home to the US, and looking at the lives of girls from early 1900’s through the Depression Era.  Throwing in Because of Winn Dixie, which occurs a few decades later, because I try to make it a point each semester to throw in a story about a girl and her animal friend 🙂

So here it is! A big thanks to AMightyGirl.com for always guiding me toward the best finds for us!

Moon over Manifest   Image 8   Out of the Dust   Image 4

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry   Image 7   Because of Winn Dixie   Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 2.40.24 PM

May B. A Novel   Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 4.47.42 PM   Counting on Grace   Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 4.48.11 PM

And last but not least, I found this little GEM today as I was looking for Depression Era content.  Dalhart TX is my home town! My parents and grandparents grew up there. I was stunned when I saw this!  Even if I don’t get to it for Book Circle, I am definitely going to read it with my daughter.  Then send a copy to my family members.

Survival in the Storm   Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.17.41 PM