Trail Run

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Trail Run - 4Sunday morning I was inspired to go on a trail run.  It was a beautiful morning, so I kicked my butt in gear and took to the woods for a vigorous 6-mile hilly woods trail - and I did it!     It felt super great to accomplish this and I think I am going to try to do it again!  I have high hopes of possibly making this run every week or so in my training for a fall half-marathon.

Accompanying me on the trail was my trusty canine companion and a good audiobook that.  I am currently listening to How to Walk Away by Katherine Center.   

Later in the day, I went fishing with two of my boys in the canoe and dropped, and lost, my phone in the lake.  I am going to have to wait a bit until I can get set back up for my electronic extracurriculars, such as audible and Instagram, but, I know I will survive (although I want to know what will happen next in the story!)

Have a great week!    

If you haven't already - be sure to check out my interview/giveaway post with Kira Willey.  Enter for your chance to win her new album and/or help me spread the word about this opportunity.

 


Interview with Kira Willey (plus a giveaway!)

In my role as a writer, I have found opportunities to make unique connections with people from all over the world. This is a gift that connectivity through the internet has given us in the 21st century, which I have leaned into, both in my personal and professional life.

Over the years, I have shared many of my conversations with other writers in my author interview posts. I enjoy this avenue of learning about and from others. I also enjoy the creative process of asking questions and turning my conversations into a post to share with hope to inspire others as well.

I recently had an opportunity to share a conversation with Kira Willey. Kira is an award-winning children’s music artist, kids’ yoga expert, and creator of Rockin’ Yoga school programs. Her most recent release is Mindful Moments for Kids, winner of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award.

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1)  Kira, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where do you live?  Tell us about your family & your interests.

I live in eastern Pennsylvania, with my husband and three kids. We have one in elementary school, one in middle school, and one in high school, so there’s never a dull moment around here! The whole family is really active, with interests ranging from soccer, biking, and karate to music and cooking. We also have a big extended family that’s spread out all over the US, so we love traveling to visit cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

2)  I have been both inspired and entertained by your work.  I use your Mindful Moments for Kids CD frequently in my kindergarten classroom.  Share with my readers how you share your talents to engage children with movement, music, and mindfulness with children.

I learned a long time ago in my first teaching job that the magical combination of music and movement is a way to completely captivate kids—it just naturally engages all of their senses. So I thought writing upbeat songs with positive, kid-friendly messages which are designed to get kids moving would be a hit with parents and virtually anyone who works with children.

As for mindfulness, I love sharing how simple and fun it can be with children. Parents and teachers are generally amazed when they see how easy it is, and how beneficial. It doesn’t have to be a “thing,” if you know what I mean—no need for a special cushion, candles, or incense—you truly don’t need any special training.  The key elements are to keep it short, kid-friendly, and consistent, and the products I’ve created are resources for anyone to do just that.

The critical social-emotional skills of self-awareness and self-regulation aren’t typically taught in our public schools, and in my opinion, they are essential learning for kids. But mindfulness is an excellent way to teach these skills, and I hope to get the message across that we can all practice it, in however small a way, with the children in our lives.

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3)  Please highlight some of the projects you are involved with and some of the products you have created.

I’ve created three albums of yoga songs (Dance for the Sun, Kings & Queens of the Forest, and How to be a Cloud) which are used all over the world to help teach yoga-based movement to children. I’ve also released Mindful Moments for Kids, which is a collection of simple, totally kid-friendly mindfulness exercises that I narrate, to a musical backdrop of my original songs. This one became the basis for my children’s mindfulness book, “Breathe Like a Bear,” (December 2017, Penguin Random House). I’ve gotten wonderful feedback from parents and teachers on it, and I’ve just learned it’s also going to be published in Spain, Italy, China, Israel, and Korea! I’m really happy to have another vehicle for getting my message out there.

“The Magic of Music” is a training I created for teachers and anyone who works with young kids, showing them how to bring music, rhythm and song into whatever they do, because it’s such an effective way to capture and keep kids’ attention, and can help them create structure in their classes, calm and focus their kids, and ease transitions. I love this training and hope to do lots more of it going forward.

It’s been super fun collaborating with my friend, kids’ music superstar Laurie Berkner. We created some interstitial programming for Sirius XM Radio, “Music You Can Move To,” which they air regularly, and we’ve also performed together a handful of times. I sang on her last record, guest starred in her “Open Your Heart” video, and she sings on one of the songs (“Dream It Up”) on my upcoming album.

One of the recent projects I’m most proud of is my TEDx talk, “Bite-Sized Mindfulness,” where I show how simple, powerful mindfulness with children can be a powerful tool to help them learn how to focus, calm themselves down, and regulate their behavior and emotions. It was a long and challenging process to distill my message down to its most important points, write the talk (and rewrite it, and rewrite it, and rewrite it) and then actually deliver it—but it was so worth it!

4)  What inspires you most about your work?

When I hear from a mother that a song of mine connected with her non-verbal son who’s on the autism spectrum, or from a teacher that using Mindful Moments for Kids has helped her settle her kids for math class, or from an occupational therapist who writes to say that using my songs keeps her patients engaged in the important exercises she needs them to do—those are the inspiring moments. Also, the hugs and high fives I get from lots and lots of kids, all over!

5)  What’s next for you?

I have a new album, “Every Voice,” due for release on June 15. This CD represents a bit of a new direction for me—these are not songs written specifically for kids’ yoga-based movement, but the positive, mindful messages are still there, this time in songs that are a bit more pop-sounding and radio-friendly than what my fans have heard before—I hope families will rock out together to these songs!
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6)  Anything else?

That’s plenty for me! I have to go cook dinner now.

 

Thank you, Kira, for this fun and inspirational conversation!

Post a comment on this post by 5/27/18 8:00 a.m. CST and you'll be entered for a chance to win a copy of Kira's new album!

 


Around Here

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Around here - 1The bears are out of hibernation.   I woke up to this guy the other day (we named him Fuzzy).  Last night he visited too.   Hoping that he is tempted away from the homestead with some other food options soon.
Around here - 1The blueberry plants are blooming.  We found the opportunity to share our backwoods in this beautiful place in which we live with some family members this weekend as we celebrated our son's first communion.  During one of our hikes, I was pleased to find some blossoms on some blueberry bushes.
Around here - 1The suckers are starting to run.  The kids found one or two today, soon they will be running farther up our creek, a sure sign of spring.
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Around here - 1My family made me feel special with cards, a gift, handmade items and a lovely dinner that we shared outdoors to celebrate Mother's Day.

It was a lovely weekend!


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I am going to make an effort to share some photographs of the progress of ice out and the rapid transition from winter to spring weather in my neck of the woods.   As you can see from these images, the shorelines are starting to go out and the ice is getting darker.  The buds are popping and treasures are starting to appear that were once hidden by the snow.

Check back for updates!


Minnesota Parent Magazine - School Days Column- May

The May Issue issue of Minnesota Parent Magazine is available throughout Minnesota and online now.

Minnesota Parent Mag - May 2018

My School Days Column this month is titled, "Love, Kindness, and Renewal," where shared some of the historical roots of Mother's Day along with some modern-day connections.

Pick up a print copy, or read the full issue by clicking --> HERE.

Find the online link to my article ---> HERE.

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If you like what you see, social media 'shares' are appreciated!

As always - thanks for reading!


Weekending

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It was a lovely weekend, but, as you can see by my photos, we still have ice on our lakes and snow in the woods.  

Check back for updates on the continued transition to spring in our neck of the woods.


An Exciting Week in Kindergarten!

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It was a busy and exciting week in kindergarten!  

Monday morning we celebrated the efforts of our spring sugaring with a classroom pancake party.  

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Then, on Tuesday morning we had our first chick hatch in the classroom!  For the rest of the week, we had the opportunity to witness several more chicks hatch and I shared the experience of observing and handling baby chicks with my students.  

As you can imagine, it was quite an exciting week for these young learners!   This teacher-mama is ready for the weekend!
 

 

 


From Sap to Syrup

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Yesterday was sap boiling day!

Spring sugaring season was long this year, though the sap did not flow continuously.  The temperatures here in Northeast Minnesota started poking above freezing during the day early March, but then we encountered another cold snap that halted the flow.   So the spiles were in our school-yard maple trees for over a month this season.   Friday I collected the last of the sap, pulled the spiles and gathered the buckets with my students.  Yesterday, on a warm and sunny day I boiled the sap to syrup at home.

After our long Minnesota winter, spending a warm and sunny day outdoors was absolutely delightful.  

I have learned too, over the years, approaching the experience as a hobbyist, that I can boil 20 gallons of sap (or less) in about 8 hours.  This yields enough syrup to share with my kindergarten class at our annual celebratory classroom pancake party, and a few pints to savor over the year.   More sap would extend the boiling time.  I would get more syrup, but it makes the experience more burdensome (boiling into the evening time or night even).  I have found my "happy place" with this small-scale approach and I look forward to the experience and products of my efforts every year.

If you are interested in learning more about the process, check out this article that I wrote for mothering.com:

Megan Devine  mothering.com

 


Stressful Parenting: Tips for Finding Your Daily Balance - a Guest Post by Meera Watts

Today I am happy to share a timely and inspirational guest post by Meera Watts.

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Meera is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom.   Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali).

It makes my heart happy, that Meera reached out and is sharing her tips, ideas and words of advice on how to parent with purpose, balance, connection, and joy here in this space.

 Her words resonated with me and these ideas reflect my actions and intentions on how I strive to live each day.  It was fun for me to intersperse some of my personal photography to compliment Meera's writing.

Be inspired and enjoy this guest post by Meera Watts!

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8AE98251-42DD-466E-881B-88D95CB927B0Having a family is one of the most fulfilling experiences you can have in life. It is also an incredible amount of work. As kids grow, they naturally test you plus you’re dealing with the usual stresses of life. To be a great parent, you need to stay mentally grounded. That’s right, mentally grounded. So how do you accomplish that? How do you remain calm in the eye of the storm on a daily basis? Here are some methods to help you maintain your daily balance and avoid stress.

Here are some of the benefits you will gain when you do have that balance in your life. You know it’s important to take care of yourself but you may not know why. Here are some solid reasons why balance in your life is good for everyone.

  • When you’re healthy in mind, this translates to positive interactions with your kids.
  • If you don’t have emotional balance, you can’t give emotionally to your kids.
  • You show your children the positive way to manage life physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. 
  • You harness mutual respect and who your children that the cup is always half full.
  • Taking care of your own well-being gives your child better well-being.
  • You can begin to understand what your wants and needs are and fulfill the healthy things.

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1. Wake Up Early

This may not be something you want to hear but to accomplish more out of your day and have some time to yourself, you should try to wake up earlier. Some people will get up 15 minutes early every day so as not to shock the body. You will have a lot more time for yourself, which is important, and you also have more time to get things done uninterrupted

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2. Be a Realistic

As a parent, you may be trying to take on too much. Setting a realistic amount of tasks for each day will alleviate the stress. Try to get one task done per day but don’t beat yourself up mentally if it’s not possible.

3. Be Empathetic to Yourself

Not every day is going to be a good feeling day. There are probably times where you feel grumpy, maybe even bitter. This is actually coming from a place of imbalance mentally. It isn’t going to help to feel bad about your true feelings. Question why you might be feeling the way you do and offer yourself care instead of criticism. 

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4. Find Your Tribe

As a tribal species, humans naturally navigate through life much easier when they have a trusted support group. When you get together with other parents that have a similar mind frame to you, you feel less alone. You can bounce off parenting ideas with one another and just vent when things are bothering you. Having a tribe can take a load of your mind because you know you always have people to lean on. We all need this kind of comradery in our lives.

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5. Organize Your Time

With so many tasks, you’ll want to preplan your activities, meals, and play dates. Finding a way to manage your time will allow you to get everything done. Floating through your days can cause you to have to rush for important things like picking up kids from their after-school activities. Pencil everything in or get an app that supports an organized life. 

6. Don’t Try To Be Perfect

Parents will often become stressed because they’re trying to keep up with other parents who are trying to do everything right. The thing is, every parent feels this way and nobody is actually managing to be the perfect mom or dad. Go easy on the things that you don’t do right. They are a learning experience. The attempt to be perfect is what will cause the biggest mistakes. Take it easy on yourself and enjoy the process of being a parent.

7. Say No to Things

Don’t burn yourself out by saying yes to everything. Many times parents will do things out of obligation as opposed to for pleasure. Kids notice this and will probably adopt the same habits as they get older. If you don’t want to do something because you’re exhausted or aren’t interested, just say no. IMG_1677

8. Have a Wellness Practice

The likes of meditation and yoga can be a helpful way to relieve the stress of parenthood and keep you balanced. Yoga is good for stretching out tenseness within the body and keeping you fit. As you breathe and focus on your movements, you aptly prepare for a meditation practice. It really only takes 20 minutes per day to meditate. The benefits for a parent are exponential. You are able to come to terms with the nagging voice in your head. You become centered and grounded which allows you to make decisions from your seat of consciousness. Guilt, stress, and worry can be managed when you look within. You do everyone in the family a favor when you nurture yourself first. You can create a space in your home to do yoga so it’s convenient to hop on the mat.

Take opportunities to be good to yourself throughout the day. Get to bed at a decent hour so you can enjoy some time in the morning to yourself. When you can keep yourself grounded, your kids feel more safe and stable. You offer a nurturing environment and can see the bright side in even the challenging moments of parenthood.

 Thank you, Meera for sharing these great tips!

Learn more about Meera and her work by checking out her social media outlets: