{ Projects }

{ #EmpoweringWithYesProject }


One of the beautiful things about the Abundant Mama Project (AMP) is that it provides an opportunity to meet other like-minded Mamas around the world.  Snow is one of those women who I connected with early on … although I know I’m not the only one who feels a connection with her.  She is known to be a great listener in the group, someone who can offer heart-felt support, she is honest, real, thoughtful, sincere and fun!  In the forum where us Alumni AMPers are able to continue our practice of being Abundant Mamas, she recently posted the following:


I've been doing a little pondering, and maybe a little mama guilt is sneaking up on me, but I've come to realize I don't really let my kids "do" things.  They play and have their toys, dress themselves, sometimes get snacks themselves, pick up, etc but when it comes to helping me (say in the kitchen) I am always hesitant or quick to say no.

 I realize a lot of this comes from not wanting to clean up a mess (not to mention the wasted money on items that get spilled/broken), and avoiding the sibling argument that's bound to happen, but in the big picture, the mess doesn't really matter.. the extra $3 I might have to spend, doesn't really matter, the arguing, well how else are they going to learn to share and take turns? I was checking out this photo project and the photo of this young boy holding a bowl of eggs completely stopped me. I would never, I mean never even consider putting a bowl of eggs on my son's lap on the counter. But, why not? It sounds so silly when I really think about it. Its all about 'teachable moments' and how we are using our days to really teach our children something. 

So why am I still continuing to say no?   How can I reframe my thoughts to allow them to participate, learn, establish new skills and confidence?  I truly feel like I am holding them back in certain ways which would never be my intention. Its always just so. much. easier. to do it myself.  With the abundant kids bliss list on my mind, I thought about all the things my kids would probably love to do that I've been too scared or impatient to let them do.

Just a little food for thought on a Wednesday night for you mamas… I think I really need to reframe my daily intentions around what I am going to teach and share WITH my children, rather than what I need to accomplish that day or focus on for myself. Somewhere along the line I feel like my perspective has skewed and I'm reminded that these days with young ones is short and I want to make the best of it.  Sticky, messy memories and all :) 




So many of us Mamas could relate to what she said, and the response in the forum was pretty profound.  

So, over the next few days, us two Washington-grown, coffee-and-photography-loving Mamas started brainstorming about our own photo project.  And here is what we came up with.

Thank you, Snow, for being such an inspiration!


***

What: #EmpoweringWithYesProject 

Where: Instagram, use the hashtag above, that’s all you have to do to join this easy-going project.  We’ve already started, check out the photos others have contributed!

When:  Each Sunday, Snow and I will post a picture of our kids in the Yes Aftermath.  It can be a picture from earlier in the week, our point is not to stress too much about the photo quality itself (our iPhone may be all we have in that moment, or perhaps we are able to orchestrate having our DSLR handy) either way we want it to be about the meaning, less about the perfect photo.  

Who: Anyone who is around kids often and wants to provide them with moments of empowerment. 

Why: (See Snow’s words above!)

***


We are hoping that, by reaching out to more people we can inspire each other to give our kids tools they need to learn, to accomplish, to try, to think through and learn about life by saying YES to these teachable moments.  

Leave any questions you might have in the comments below!



“We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.”

-Galileo Galilei


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{ Project 52 : Stay Awake } 2013


 Each Monday, I’ll write a short, weekly PROMPT that will help spark your own Awesomely Awake journey. Beryl will offer a photography tip to encourage YOU to document your journey this year in photographs.  

--Shawn Fink @ Awesomely Awake


Week 46 | Quiet Togetherness


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This week for Project 52 | Stay Awake, spend a little time thinking about a time when your own family enjoyed some quiet togetherness.  How did you feel?  Is it a space you retreat to often, or not?

-Shawn @ AA/P52

I’m late on this one … so being true to the moment, which is perfect for this post, it’s Friday after Thanksgiving and I’m in the garage, with the family (yes we hang out in the garage) 

with a sweater on

the girls creating their Christmas lists 

Bohemian Rhapsody playing in the background

rain splattering in the foreground

deflecting questions about what the plan is for today 

with the answer, “this”. 


 

Week 45 | Pay it Forward


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This week, the 45th week of the project, I’m going to challenge you to pay it forward, which is exactly what I’m doing.

Shawn @ AA/P52


It almost seems to ruin the joy, to share the ways in which I paid it forward.  I’m going to keep this one to myself.  But I can tell you that I did 3 specific acts this week involving  clay, a text message and a package that I have needed to mail but finally have the contents ready.  

Last week Maycee wrote a card for a classmate who had been sick; “I just feel so bad for him, Mom” was the statement that sparked the idea.  Her teacher, being the aware and conscious woman that she is, praised Maycee for it.  And the smile that my daughter had when she told me the story made me realize just how much it filled her bucket to fill another’s.  

There are big conscious moments where we can pay it forward and then there are the little ones, little acts of kindness, of human connection where the shimmer in their eyes lets you know that for that moment, even if only for that moment, you shared a mutual joy.  

I believe in the small ones just as much as the big ones.  


This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

- DALAI LAMA 


photo from Buddha Doodles


Week 44 | Set a Gratitude Intention


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This week, set your own intention for gratitude — however you wish to say it … however you wish to achieve it.  Starting is just the beginning.  And always start right where you are right now. 

-Shawn @ AA/P52


May I be open and able to take in what is in front of me,

without the need to change what it is.

May I turn off the noise in my head that clutters my mind,

and makes foggy my perception of the moment. 

May I always look for beauty and take the time to let it awe me.  


Week 43 | Creative Work of Mothers


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This week … make art.  Create something. With your hands.  Even if it’s a tree house in the back yard.  This is how we stay connected to the women and the mother within. 

-Shawn @ AA/P52


I can always find my creative self in nature; my QuotePics are proof of that.  

Monday started off creatively with a rainbow that followed me to work.  I know I’m not the only one who finds magic in a rainbow. 


But this week I started a project that needs to be done on Saturday, for the end-of-the-year soccer party.  It’s not one I’m doing because I’m the Team Mom, but because I have really grown to love these kids.

They each have their own personality.  Their own style.  Their own reasons to smile.  Their own reasons to cry.  Their own way of releasing energy.  

My gift for the team is something home made that involves me painting on wood, some Mod Podge, and a picture I’ve taken of them during the season.

And while I have so many things going on this week, there is something about each aspect of this project that has made it one that I don’t dread doing.

Painting on Wood

I can’t help but to think of my father and his father when a project calls for something wooden and some paint.  My father’s grandfather was a sign painter — something I did not know (or was it that I finally paid attention?) until I was an adult.  But it helped to explain the many pieces of art around my home growing up, that my father had made, and that were created out of wood and then painted by his hand.  

Mod Podge

It glues, it seals, it adds texture, it multitasks…what more could a mother ask for?


Pictures

I have taken over 2000 pictures of the team this year.  Yeah.  That’s not a typo.  So, I tried to find the best one of each individual player to use in this project.  Her sweet smile.  His grin when he finally scored a goal.  His mischievously playful smirk.  His joyful energy beaming from his smile.  His classic two thumbs up at his Mom.  Her fist pump.  Her characteristic gallop.  His stoic steadiness.  His serious face that would turn to a smile when giving a hug, and a frown when he didn’t want to play.  


I think a part of me cherishes this team so much because they are so pleasantly oblivious to the pressures that may arise in the years ahead.  Their authentic desire to have fun is all that you feel from them.  And it’s contagious.  


And so my gift is really to thank them, for allowing me the pleasure of benefiting from their spirits.  




Week 42 | Enjoy the Journey


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…play close attention to the journey you are on … write a list of all the ups and downs, happy moments and sad and the silly.  Keep a running record of these things because this is YOUR journey to enjoy and remember. 

-Shawn @ AA/P52


She's halfway learned to tie her shoes (-up-). 

She's talking a bit less about boys(-up-).

They had to go potty 4 times in one sitting at the restaurant (-grrrr-).

She can't wait to start her homework (-hopeful-).

She no longer cries, or pretends to start to cry, or even acts like she's sad when I drop her off at preschool (-elation-).

They're singing their Halloween songs that they are learning in school (-joy!-).

"Mom, you don't have to tell me that, I already know" (-damn, she's right-). 

The lying on the store-room floor as we waited in check-out as has never happened before, despite my firm requests for her to get up (-puzzlement-). 

The give-and-take that occurs when they play nicely together (-the good stuff-).

The ease with which she let me pick her up off the floor; to my surprise she put her head on my shoulder: frustration gives to understanding (-ooohhhhh, it’s 2 hours past her nap-).

How she takes pride in putting her clothes away by herself (-quiet delight-).

"Mom, you are hurting my heart" (-thunk-).

The way she hustles up and down the soccer field (-pride-).

The excitement in her squeal(s) when she saw them at the door (-the best-).

The look on her face, mouth gaping, as she pointed to her Magi through her classroom door (-the other best-). 

"I love you, Magi", "I love you, Pagi".  And the other one echoes the sentiment -(I get it-).



Week 41 | Kiss the Ground


The list could go on and on … How many ways do you kiss the ground?

-Shawn @ AA/P52


Shawn started this prompt with a poem by Rumi:


"Today, like every other day, we wake up empty 

and frightened.  Don't open the door to the study

and begin reading.  Take down a musical instrument. 


Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground."


Let the beauty we love be what we do. 

Let the beauty we love

be

what we do. 

 *

The way their hair feels running through my fingers as I braid their hair.  

The way she totally releases herself in my arms. 

The way my oversized spoon pushes the mixture of jalapeño, onion, tomato, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt and a pinch of sugar through the strainer, liquid sauce rhythmically being sieved from the pulp that remains. 

The way it feels to climb into freshly washed sheets, as if to make the loads of work prior worth it.

The relief that comes when my feet no longer step on crumbs in the kitchen (because I finally did something about it).

The way the camera captures slices of the big picture; how I appreciate those small details when I upload and look at the pictures that my finger clicked into focus.  

The way they appreciate by devouring the apple slices I cut up.

The way their crayons and markers feel in my hands, and how I find myself drawing and creating the way I did as a kid.  But only when I let myself say yes, and go to that place the imagination takes us, do I reap that benefit.  

The way my feet pound lightly to the beat of the music pumping through my ears on a brisk Sunday morning walk.

The way I crave to open the windows and doors on a crisp autumn morning; the kids are learning to find the blankets again.  

The way I push the chocolate chips down into the half-cooked pancakes so as to protect them from getting burned on the flip side.  Such goodness needs to be protected.  



Week 40 | Accept the Present Moment


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The present moment is always what it needs to be.  Perfet in so many imperfect ways.  Beautiful.  Tumultuous.  Never wrong.  Never quite right.  It is all that it can ever be.  

-Shawn @AA/P52


Learning that my neighbor let May braid her hair while they were all in front BBQ'ing, I inside preparing the rest of dinner.  I told her "No" so many times that day, so it made me feel sad to hear.  Not out of jealousy, not out of bitterness, but because she found her joy elsewhere when I had several opportunities to give it to her.  

Watching The Little Rascals mindlessly because the kids went up for bath.  As many times as it has been on in this house, there are parts I have never seen before. 

Driving home on Tuesday, the day of the week I talk and explain and educate all day long.  To come home and talk and explain and educate is not always what I have the energy for.

The burst of energy that seems to come from their two little bodies, right before bed when I am ready for them to calm down. 

The way she holds her pencil when she writes her name; the way she uses the eraser like she's been doing it her whole life.

The grey tooth that has found a home in her beautiful smile, it holds a story unlike its pearly neighbors. 

The way they say "I love you" to the sitters when they leave, and the genuine joy it brings me to know how lucky we are to have such great people influencing our daughters.

Their nails, that I just cut, that need to be cut again.

The occasional morning they wake up wanting to argue rather than play, where I wear my referee hat and have the whistle ready and never really feel like I make the right call.  

The drive to work, when I turn off the music because the quiet is more appealing.  

The drive to work, when I keep "Puff the Magic Dragon" on, because it makes me smile.

The cool breeze, ahhh, fall is finally here.  

Hubbs doing the dishes while insisting I take a break.

The way the night light reflects its red, yellow, blue, green and white light against their perfect slumbering skin.

The mornings I can eek 15 minutes of quiet to myself.

The mornings I just want 15 more minutes in bed. 

The moments that hit me sideways in realization that they are growing up so fast, in terms of physical growth, the things they say, and/or their thought processes. 

The feeling that the "whining" phase is finally phasing itself out. 

Pulling up to the house to see them playing in the rain, to my heart's delight.

"Can I have a treat?"   "Can I have a treat?"  "Can I have a treat?"

Feeling like I miss them, in the deepest way, when I check on them before going to bed.  

Letting them "read" the story, and listening to what they've been listening to for all this time … what they remember always delights me. 


Week 39 | Lose Yourself in the Moment


Today I want to loose myself in the moment ...Isn't this what it means to stay awake?  To live fully?  To embrace the moment?  To do what we love?  To be ourselves wholly and completely? 

Shawn @AA/P52


I could write about losing myself kicking the ball around with my youngest, while the oldest was practicing on the adjacent field.  In my work slacks and shoes, in the sweatshirt my husband let me have because the wind was surprisingly cold.  I could talk about how she giggled when I took it away from her, how she loved to tell me where to stand and when to kick it, and how she loved when it accidentally rolled down the hill so she could chase it.


I could write about watching my oldest stand outside her school, waiting for her friends to show up.  It was picture day, and she looked so pretty in her new birthday dress, hair curled, chapstick on.  She's getting older, I thought.  She's reaching the age where my memory starts to kick in of my own elementary school days.  I took a picture of us, and it is one of my favorites of just her and I together.  


But last weekend, the hubbs and I got a sitter and went out to dinner.  It had been too long.  I embraced every moment of it.  

Uninterrupted conversation.  

Delicious food.  

Wine we had forgotten was our local favorite.  

We took our time eating.  

No potty breaks, no cutting up someone else's dinner before eating my own.  

Listening, really being able to listen. 

That was the kind of losing myself that reminded me where this all started, how it all began.  




Week 38 | We All Just Want to be Heard


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This week, focus on actively listening to what others are saying.  To what they are not saying.  To what they wish to say.  And focus on what you are hearing.  Finding new ways to be and show that you are an active listener.  This week, use your ears in new ways.  Listen as much with your eyes as you do with your ears.  Listen with your whole body, not just one ear.

-Shawn @ AA/P52


Is "what you do" the result of hard work and perseverance or more of natural skill?  Is there such a thing as both?

When you reach that point in your life where you can look back at your accomplishments, will you regret how you did things, how you handled life, how you handled people?

Is there anything to be gained from over-indulgence?  

Would you want your children to follow in your footsteps, or would you shield them from that path in hopes that they might find another?

If you had the chance to do it all over again, would you do it the same way?


All of this, in a 15 minute conversation with a man at work.  

He was well worth listening to.  





Week 37 | Creating a Space for Stillness


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Whatever it is.  Wherever it is.  Make it your own.  Create that sacred space for your hopes and dreams -- and big deep breaths.

-Shawn @ AA/P52


Shawn has emphasized this in the Abundant Mama Project and I hand't considered it until then.  

And I knew I wanted to find something for my side of the bed, a side table-of-sorts, but I wanted to be able to hold some things just for me.  My books, a few important items.

I found just the piece at an antique store for cheaper than I could have done drawers with mounted shelves above.   Much cheaper, in fact. 

And it was freshly painted in an beautiful shade of blue green which does not match my bedroom whatsoever.  

I spent about a month going into the store, seeing if it was still there, seeing if it was still begging me to be bought.  

And finally one day, I ran it past the hubbs and he picked up for me that same day. 

And as it would turn out, it was perfect.


Three drawers on the bottom, a secretary, a smaller drawer, a (book) shelf, then a glass cabinet on the very top.   So much space to hold that which I want to remember, display, contain, refer to, obtain from.  


This picture reveals only one section:  a few of my favorite books, a home-made picture of my girls and I from my sister-in-law, a vase gifted to me by a dear friend, an elephant with a baby elephant inside it's ornamental belly that struck a chord with me while pregnant, a beautiful and simple jewelry dish from my Mom holding my favorite pearls from my sister…all on a bookshelf no more than 24 inches wide.







 © Houseman 2013