Ask SlowMama

Door Knocker

It’s been a while since I posted an “Ask SlowMama” question, where I play advice columnist, life coach, counselor, consultant, big sis, and woman with an opinion all at once. If you’ve got a burning question — whether it’s practical, personal, or even something about me or this site — drop me a line. If I post your question on SlowMama, I’ll never use your full name — just initials, first name only, or a pseudonym (your choice). Here’s a question I received recently:

I have a relative who lives in another town but regularly stops by to visit without any advance notice. If this happened once in a blue moon, I’d overlook it, but it happens enough that I find it stressful. I have four small children and a full routine each day, and it’s not easy for me to stop everything and visit with her. Also, I like to have things picked up off the floor and my bathroom clean before someone visits. I’ve mentioned a few times in the past that I’d like more advance notice, but it hasn’t happened — or I’ll get a call ten minutes before she shows up. I love this relative and don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I don’t think my request is unreasonable. What should I do? –WB

A relative that doesn’t respect your boundaries? None of us can relate, right?

Since you’ve asked this relative — let’s call her “Aunt Vicki” — to give you notice and she hasn’t remembered or honored your request, it’s time for a plan of action.

The next time Aunt Vicki stops by without notice, greet her politely and tell her that, while it’s nice to see her, you weren’t expecting her and therefore only have 20 minutes (or 30, or 60, whatever you decide) to visit. Stick to your time frame and state your request again that she give you ample notice. Be specific about how much notice you want: a day? A couple of days? A few hours? If she calls ten minutes before stopping by, tell her that you’re not available and remind her of your request for advance notice (and again, be specific).

You don’t owe her an explanation, but it might make you feel better and help things be less awkward if you provide one. Many people who aren’t raising small children simply don’t get  — or remember — how full, unpredictable, and overwhelming an ordinary day can be for a parent. You can keep it simple and direct: “This is a really busy season in my life, and I can enjoy your company much better if I’m able to plan for your visit. I hope you understand.” Make it about you, not her.

If Aunt Vicki still ignores your request after you’ve been clear and specific, it’s time to go a bit further. The next time she stops by without warning, ask her outright why she didn’t heed your request to give you advance notice. If she says something like, “Sorry, I didn’t know I’d be in the area, so there was no time to let you know,” you might say, “I’m sorry, too, because I’m not free to visit right now. As I mentioned before, I really need a day’s notice” (or whatever you’ve decided is your minimum notice time). This is obviously easier to do by phone before she’s on your doorstep, but even if she’s standing in front of you, it’s important that you say the same thing — or at the very least, set a very specific time frame for her visit and stick to your guns, repeating your request.

It may come to the point where you need to do something more drastic, like not answer the phone or the door, but hopefully sticking to a plan and repeating the same line each time will drive the message home. It may feel mean, or inhospitable, to set these kind of boundaries, but if unannounced/unplanned visits disrupt your days and cause you stress, setting boundaries is important. The only reason Aunt Vicki can get away with stopping in so often is because you allow it. When resentment festers, it undermines relationships, so it’s always best to nip it in the bud — and make Aunt Vicki’s future (planned!) visits more enjoyable.

Friends, how do you handle unexpected guests? Any advice for WB?

Image: dashing through the rain…naked

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Real Food

It’s time to resurrect the Ask SlowMama series! This is where I get to don some of my favorite hats all at once: advice columnist, life coach, counselor, consultant, big sis, woman with an opinion. Ha! If you’ve got a burning question — whether it’s practical, personal, or even something about me or this site — please drop me a line. If I post your question on SlowMama, I’ll never use your full name — just initials, first name only, or a pseudonym (your choice) — so fear not.

Here’s a question I received recently on a subject near and dear to my heart:

Where you would tell someone to start who’s interested in eating healthier but isn’t sure where to begin? Should they go whole hog (er, so to speak)? Make small changes? Organic vs. local?  What is the single most important change you could make to your diet?

I wish more people asked this question! Changing your diet is one of the hardest things to do, because eating is emotional, cultural, habitual, and practical. It’s also one of the single best things you can do to improve your life.

There are probably as many answers to this question as there are dietary approaches, but if I were helping someone figure out where to start, I’d first ask a few more questions to better assess where the person is in terms of his or her diet. Some people are drinking three sodas a day and eating fast food; some rely on frozen entrees from the supermarket much of the week, or live with relatives who serve triple helpings of pasta every night; others may already be eating pretty well but want to take it to the next level.

If I had to give a single piece of advice that applies to everyone, no matter who they are, it would be the seven words that open Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” That pretty much sums it up, and every reputable eating philosophy out there embraces it.

But so that I can keep blathering on about one of my favorite subjects, let’s go a bit further:

If you’re addicted to soda and eating fast food and junk food, my advice would be to start substituting your three worst habits with healthier options — so, instead of soda, choosing water, natural juice, or natural carbonated beverages; instead of late-night chip binges, choosing home-popped popcorn with a little sea salt; instead of the regular fast-food stops, brown-bagging it for lunch or finding new restaurants with healthier options.

If you’re already past that and are cooking at home and choosing restaurant meals wisely, I’d suggest you start significantly reducing your intake of refined sugars and flours. Elimination often doesn’t work without substitutions, though, so honey, maple syrup, stevia, and xylitol can be used in place of refined sugar, and whole grains can be used in place of white flours.

And if you’re already well on your way with all of these steps, the next thing you can start to think about is the kind of meat you’re consuming, the kinds of fats and oils you’re using, incorporating fermented foods into your diet, and paying more attention to super foods.

I don’t advise going whole hog when it comes to changing your diet. It almost never works; most of us need to make gradual changes so we can get used to eating differently, hang on to some of what’s familiar and comforting while we’re at it, and allow our taste buds to adjust.

I do think organic is better, generally. I wrote about the complexities of organic vs. local food a while back, and how I myself go about making these decisions.

While there are dietary principles that work across the board, I don’t believe there is one diet that works for everyone. For that reason, it’s important to pay attention to what makes you feel better as you make changes. Some people do okay with dairy; others do not. Same with meat, gluten, alcohol, etc. It’s also just as important to pay attention to the things that help you eat better, such as cooking at home, eating with others at the table, and dealing with emotional issues that cause cravings and binges.

One of the most helpful things you can do when trying to make dietary changes is to seek out blogs, websites, and cookbooks that can offer recipes and encouragement. One place you might start is Andrea Howe’s blog “For the Love Of…“: Andrea recently started a clean-eating lifestyle and is now writing a series, “31 Days of Clean Eating Made Approachable and Affordable,” on how she did it. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to her search for healthier eating habits and be inspired by her practical ideas.

Readers, I’d love to hear from you: What’s the single biggest change you’ve made to your diet, and how did it affect you? Where do you want to go next with improving how you eat?

And don’t forget to send along any questions you want me to address in an upcoming Ask SlowMama column!

Image: Zoe Saint-Paul

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How to Give Advice

August 7, 2013

Comfort Zone/Magic Zone

If you’re married (or in a long-term, committed relationship), you probably already know that giving lots of unsolicited advice does not a happy union make. This Wall Street Journal article about wives and husbands giving advice rings pretty true to my experience and makes it clear that, especially when advising a beloved, good intentions aren’t enough.

The article got me thinking about advice-giving in general — to friends, relatives, colleagues, even strangers. Doling out wisdom (or telling people what to do) comes naturally to me: I’m the eldest of 10, and as a trained counselor and certified coach, I’m always interested in pointing others in the direction of self-growth and greater fulfillment. But I’ve learned over the years that telling people outright what they should do pretty much never works and misunderstands how people actually change.

It can be painful to watch people we care about fail, stay stuck, or continue in the same habits. I know how much I want to save loved ones from making mistakes I’ve made, and how much I want to share what I know. But if advice rarely has the desired effect, is there any place for it? I hope so, because I’m just about to give you some:

Give less advice and more encouragement.

It’s always best to keep advice to yourself and instead offer assistance, supportive words, and encouragement. This can empower people to make changes on their own. But when you do have that burning need to share something and it just won’t go away…

Honesty is (usually) the best policy.

Sometimes it works better to just come out and say, “You know, I really want to give you some unsolicited advice based on my experience (opinion, expertise, etc.), and you can take it or leave it. Do you mind if I share it with you?” Most people will say yes. Doesn’t mean they’ll do anything more than hear you out — but it’s their business to decide what to do with what you share, not yours.

Advice Card

Focus on questions.

If your brother would just listen to your advice about how to lose weight, he’d feel better faster, right? But none of us likes to be told what to do; we like to discover it for ourselves. And that’s important because we need to own our decisions and take responsibility for them. Rather than simply saying, “You should do blankety-blank,” ask questions to open up the conversation: “How are you doing with this?” “What’s important to you right now?” “What can I do to help?” “Why don’t you just smarten up and do what I tell you?” (Just kidding about that last one.)

Respect the person, even if you don’t respect what they’re doing — or not doing.

People have to want to change, and the fact is some people don’t — at least not yet. We’ve all been there, right? Sometimes, we’re just not ready. We may be spinning our wheels or repeating patterns because there are deeper issues we don’t want to face. None of us likes pain or discomfort; we don’t like to do what’s hard, lose face, be wrong, make mistakes. Always respect where others are in their own growth and let them do things in their own time.

Give advice the way you’d like to receive it. 

Giving advice is easy; taking advice isn’t. Use “I” statements as much as possible, share your own experience, show genuine concern, and ensure your tone is not judgmental or critical. Also, don’t nag. State your advice, then let it go. (Ugh, this is so hard to do with a spouse!)

Ask for advice.

People love to give advice — which is why we give so much of it unsolicited. Maybe if we asked for each others’ wisdom, feedback, and opinions more often, we’d be better off. When was the last time you asked for advice from someone?

When I share my profound kernels of wisdom (ahem) with unsuspecting friends, I try to make it about them, not a need to be right or superior. But unless advice is asked for, holding our tongues is the better road; being a champion of the people we care about, believing in them no matter what, goes a lot further.

What do you think? Are you an advice-giver? Do you like to receive advice? What’s your favorite kind of advice to give or to get?

Images via Pinterest (source unknown)

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Friendship

One of the challenges of living in such a mobile, connected world is the number of relationships we have to navigate. How do we keep up with everyone? How do we nurture friendships when there’s only so much time in a given day? I received a question recently that speaks to the dilemma:

I’m in a constant state of guilt because I feel like I don’t keep up with friends adequately. We have a lot of awesome people in our lives, and even though we entertain regularly, I feel like there’s always someone I haven’t had over yet. It’s gotten so bad that I make a point of no longer saying, “We should get together sometime!” when I meet someone new — I have a hard enough time keeping up with the friends I already have. — Cassandra

Thanks for the note, Cassandra. I’m betting other readers can relate.

When looking for solutions, it’s always helpful to define the problem in as neutral a way as possible. In this case, I think your dilemma can summed up as, “We know so many awesome people that we can’t keep up with them all!” And you’re feeling guilty, overwhelmed, and perhaps even disappointed that you can’t do more to nurture all of these friendships. Your feelings are probably reinforced every time you meet a great new person, or when you’re trying to figure out who to invite over, or whose invitation to accept.

First, try looking at your situation from a different vantage point. The truth is, knowing so many awesome people is a wonderful problem to have — you are fortunate! Let yourself soak up that perspective so you can be in a grateful, positive place; from there you can create better solutions. If, deep down, you believe this isn’t so much a problem as it is a gift, the entire situation begins to look different.

Now let’s get to some practical points…

Quality Over Quantity

One of the principles of “slow” living is quality over quantity…and this includes friendships. When you’re raising kids, running a home, working, and just keeping up with the basics, there’s only so much time for nurturing friendships. A few deep ones are more satisfying and beneficial then a lot of surface-level friendships, so that’s good to remember. There’s nothing wrong with being selective; just because you can spend time with someone doesn’t mean you must. Obligation shouldn’t be the deciding factor here. Give your time and attention to those who most enrich your life right now, who help you be the person you want to be, and who bring you joy.

Forget About Equality

Don’t buy into the idea that all of your friends need equal face time. Some of the best friendships are between people who rarely see each other, and when they do, it’s like they’ve never been apart. Other friendships are situational — you share similar life circumstances at a given time, such as with a friendly neighbor who’s raising kids the same age as yours. Some friendships are life-long, and others are just for a season. It’s all good. Examine your beliefs about what friendship is supposed to be; you may hold assumptions and expectations that aren’t helpful or even true.

Here’s an idea: Consider throwing an annual party (or an open house) and invite all the people to whom you’ve wanted to say, “We should get together some time!” and/or the people with whom you’d love to catch up. Sure, this doesn’t give you the one-on-one time you may want, but it allows you to see people you enjoy. Some of these friendships might strengthen over time, and some may fade — and that’s just fine.

Integrate

Sometimes we approach life as a disjointed combination of competing elements. What if we could incorporate friendship into our daily routines a bit more? For instance, if you like to take your kids to the park regularly, is there a friend you can invite along from time to time? I also like the idea of sharing a weekly or monthly potluck (brunch?) with nearby friends, rotating homes if that works better. If your friendships aren’t always in competition with other priorities or events, it’s a lot easier to manage your commitments.

Stay Open

As we get older, it’s harder to make new friends — we get set in patterns, roles, commitments, and busyness. But every now and then someone comes along with whom we really connect, someone who could truly enrich our lives and vice versa. Stay open to this possibility. At the same time, be prudent: You can’t be friends with every nice person you meet. Pay attention to those situations that seem serendipitous, and let go of the others — it’s okay to leave some lovely folks for somebody else.

Hope that helps, Cassandra. And hope you enjoy every bit of your time with good friends and family this holiday season!

Image found here

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woman at table So the holidays are upon us…full of good food, traditions, time off, and gatherings with loved ones. It’s a season most of us look forward to, yet it can also be plagued with things that are not so fun: travel hassles, too much to do, extra expenses, and dysfunctional family time.

Speaking of that last one, here’s a question I received recently that a few of you might be able to relate to at this time of year:

My husband and I alternate visiting each set of parents every year for Thanksgiving, and this year we’re going to his family’s home to celebrate. The only problem: My husband had a falling-out with one particular family member who will also be there for dinner. While my husband is open to reconciliation, I think it would take more than one meal to patch things up — and in the meantime, we don’t want to have a big confrontation at the table, or spoil the event that his parents will have worked so hard to put together. Any advice for navigating tricky waters at a family gathering like this?  — Wendy R.

Yeah, a situation like this doesn’t exactly make for a relaxed family gathering, at least for the two of you. The best way to limit the awkwardness and the potential for flare-ups is to deal with it before you even get there.

I recommend that your husband contact this particular family member — by email or phone — and acknowledge the upcoming meeting head on. I could imagine it going something like this: I know both of us will be at my parents’ for Thanksgiving this year, and it may be a little awkward since we haven’t yet worked out our differences. I really hope we can do that soon. I also hope we can put things aside this weekend so we can both enjoy our holiday with family. I thought it would make it less awkward if I wrote to you/said this to you before we see each other. Safe travels, and we’ll see you in a few days.

Doing this acknowledges the elephant in the room before you’ve even entered the house. It also lets this family member know where your husband stands — that he wants to reconcile, and that he also wants everyone to have a nice holiday together. There may still be awkwardness or tension at Thanksgiving, but doing something like this can help diffuse it, and might even be the first step toward reconciliation.

Hope that helps, Wendy!

Anybody else been in a similar situation, or have advice for Wendy and her husband?

Image: Bon Blog

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Question mark

A reader writes in:

I am a first-time mom to a 7 month old whom I just adore. At the same time, I’ve been struggling lately to get back to “myself” again. I know part of the problem is going non-stop between working a full-time job and enjoying every moment with my daughter when I get home and she’s still awake. Then there’s keeping up with house chores, as well as studying for my master’s degree coursework. I just can’t seem to get some “me” time to relax and enjoy our new family. When I do get it, I usually feel guilty. My husband has been wonderful with the baby, but sometimes I feel like we’re single parents — he watches the baby so I can get some stuff done, and vice versa. We don’t get to spend quality time together anymore, because when the baby finally goes to sleep we each scramble to get to stuff we’ve been meaning to do all day. By the time we get to a point to catch up with each other, I’m usually grumpy and tired (or already asleep) or he’s had one too many glasses of wine trying to unwind! Any suggestions?  – C. D.

A new baby, a full-time job, a Master’s degree… no wonder you’re overwhelmed. I bet a lot of women can relate to what you’re experiencing.

The first thing I recommend you do is let go of the expectation of “getting back to how things were before.” You can’t go back. Instead, you must discover a new you and a new equilibrium — one that incorporates motherhood and family life. Give yourself permission to adjust to this enormous change and grow into it.

There is no magic answer for finding more time. The clock is an equal opportunist — each of us gets 24 hours a day, no more and no less. The more you have going on, the more you need to be intentional about how your time is spent.

You may need to revisit all the basic questions about your work, studies, and the delegation of household chores. Are they all necessary? Can you cut back anywhere? Do you have plans and deadlines in place so your current schedule won’t last forever? Presuming you’ve done this, here are some further suggestions:

Protect your weekends like a mama bear. 

There are always social events, commitments, friends to see, etc. Do the necessary errands and school work, but be strict about dedicating your weekends to family time… and time for yourself. Saying “no” to some things means saying “yes” to what’s more important right now.

As for taking “you” time and feeling guilty about it: Does it make you a better wife and mom when you get that time? Does it give you more energy and help you to be more productive, less grouchy, more available? Remember this: Taking time for yourself is not all about you — it’s about replenishing yourself in order to be a better person, wife, mother, friend, employee. That’s why it’s not selfish to recharge your batteries; it’s necessary.

Designate a weekly “date night.” 

Spouses often come in dead last when life gets busy, but the well-being of the family is centered on the health of the marriage. So set a time each week that’s just for the two of you. You might turn the phone off and get take-out after the baby goes down, or you get a sitter for two hours and head out, or you take the baby in the stroller and go out for ice cream. It doesn’t need to be fancy; it just needs to be regular time each week when you’re focused on one another.

Enlist help.

No one can do it all. Women have always had help of one kind or another — extended family, servants. It is only in the modern era that we expect ourselves to be able to do everything: work full-time outside the home, raise children, cook, shop, clean, have energy for husbands and friends, participate in church and civic life, and look like a million bucks while we’re at it.

Learn to delegate. Can your husband take on more household chores? Do you have relatives who can assist you? Can you afford to hire a cleaning service twice a month? Can you order your groceries online? Can a neighborhood kid cut the grass? Some of these things cost money, but it’s a trade-off — you’re buying time to devote to things that are higher on your priority list.

Make decisions as a couple. 

Involve your husband in the decision-making about how to make your new life run more smoothly. Women who work outside the home usually retain the bulk of the household chores and childcare. If you and your husband makes decisions together about what’s working and not working for your family, it can unify you as a couple and allow you to both feel supported.

One last thing: Remember that this time will pass. You won’t always be working, going to school, and adjusting to a new baby — all at the same time. Breathe deeply, be grateful for your blessings each day, and take a lesson from your husband: Drink more wine!

******

Any additional suggestions or feedback for this new mom?

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Question mark woman

A reader writes in:

My family is close to a couple who cannot have children. I don’t know why… I guess we’re not close enough to ask. Which isn’t to say I don’t care or am not honestly curious, but it’s not my business. They adopted one child, but have been on a list for nearly two years coming in as “runner’s up” a few times, but haven’t yet been chosen.

So, what can I say? I feel uncomfortable and almost apologetic when I talk about having more than one child (I have three), or about babies. I don’t want to make her feel uncomfortable. She loves to be around children and doesn’t seem bitter, but I can see that she’s yearning for another. It breaks my heart and I don’t know if I should avoid the topic all together until she brings it up or if it’s okay to discuss it. Any suggestions?  — H.S.

Thanks for asking about this, H.S. The fact that you’re taking it so seriously shows you’re a thoughtful person. You’re certainly not alone in wondering how to handle these sensitive situations. It’s challenging: what to say or not say, how to be supportive and not offensive or intrusive. Not easy.

When I was planning my wedding at 34, I had single friends who wanted nothing more than to be married themselves. Sometimes it was hard to know how to share my happiness while being sensitive to their longings. I didn’t want my joy to be a source of their pain.

I’ve been on the other side, too — where people have said things that stung me, and they didn’t know it. Most of us have been on the giving and receiving end of insensitivity at some point — that’s life.

It’s never our business why a woman hasn’t become pregnant or given birth, or why someone is adopting, or even why a couple has a small or large family. But I’m a big believer in women being there for each other in their various kinds of joys and sorrows.

When you find yourself wondering what to say to a woman who’s longing for children, I recommend you read the signals and go with your gut. If you can see she’s suffering, then it’s not sensitive to constantly complain about your kids around her, or to mention how frustrated you are that you haven’t gotten pregnant with number four.

If it seems, however, that she isn’t bitter or upset and she initiates conversations about babies and children, you shouldn’t walk on eggshells or assume that sharing your own life will cause her pain.

The best way to handle situations like this is usually just to raise the issue. Something like, “I hope it’s not difficult for you to hear me speak about my children or pregnancies… and if it is, I hope you’ll tell me”  shows that you’re thoughtful and opens up the topic for future conversation.

Or, if you know that she’s struggling, you might say something like, “It must be difficult to wait so long/wonder what will happen/wish for more children… Is there anything I can do to be supportive or helpful?”

The key is to be gentle, honest, and unafraid of making a mistake. If someone knows you mean well and you care, she can forgive a misstep. Even our faulty attempts to be sensitive can strengthen relationships.

*****

Just wanted to remind you that tomorrow is the draw for the Alaffia Shea Butter. If you haven’t entered, leave a comment here for a chance to win!

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Women working

Women at Work, Image via Wikimedia

First, let’s get a couple of housekeeping matters out of the way…

Do you see that big blue button on the right-hand side of this page — the one about my weekly SlowNote? You may have signed up and are wondering what the deal is with that.

Let me just say that the great thing about running a blog about Slow living is that you can justify being really slow about things. Oh… the SlowNote? I haven’t sent that out yet because I’m over here Slowing up the joint.

So, yes, the SlowNote is a little behind schedule, but I hope to get the first one out soon. It will consist of a short tip or personal note, with highlights from a few recent posts on the blog. Ideally it will appear in your inbox once a week. Do sign up if you’re interested — and I promise it will show up one day.

I’ll also keep you posted on my videos. I have a lot of ideas, but I’m cinematographically challenged. Eventually I’ll come up with something worth watching.

This afternoon, Mags has a fun post just in time for the royal wedding. In the meantime, I’ve got an Ask SlowMama question to address:

I do paid work from home and am also the mother of young children. Any tips for setting — and sticking to — work boundaries?  – Cassandra in VA

Oh yes, I know this challenge very well… without the kids part, of course. Working from home is terrific — no one can see you in your pajamas, there’s a lot of flexibility, and you often get more done. But setting boundaries is probably the biggest stumbling block.

What is a boundary? Simply put, it’s a limitation we impose and/or respect in order to ensure greater freedom and success.

Ideally, setting up a home office in a separate room with a door is best. But many of us don’t have that luxury. In this case, I recommend you still have a delineated work space somewhere. Even if you take your laptop or mobile device from room to room, it should still have a home, along with other work items you need like files, planners, etc.

Here are some other ways to set and stick to work boundaries in the home:

  • Set specific hours for working — and stick to them. Let others know those hours so there are appropriate expectations, which in turn gives you accountability. Even if those hours change regularly, set them each day as you can.
  • Use a timer to help you focus on specific tasks for a designated amount of time. I like a small kitchen timer that I can take from room to room, but you can use one on your computer or smart phone.
  • Reward yourself. It’s tempting to check email and favorite blogs constantly when you work from home. Instead, after working for some pre-appointed amount of time — use the timer — reward yourself for completing work tasks with time to surf and visit your peeps.
  • If your computer is in a common area, close it when not in use, or cover it with a cloth. There’s something about a screen… it beckons to us. By placing something as simple as a cloth over it, you’ll be less tempted to gravitate there when you’re supposed to be doing other things.
  • Create rituals that help you enter into work mode — and home mode. Music might be one way, or lighting a candle. Or a sequence of events, like: put kids down for their naps, make coffee, sit at your desk, check email for 10 minutes, check task list, and begin. Even small rituals can help you transition in and out of work mode more smoothly.

If you do paid work from home, I’d love to hear your suggestions for creating and sticking to boundaries. Hope this helps, Cassandra.

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Ask SlowMama

April 14, 2011

twin lambs

Image via Wikimedia

Dear SlowMama,

What do you do when you’re committed to Slow living and good food and shared meals but find it impossible to apply these ideals when you’re feeding twins at 3:00 AM and just want it to be over and sometimes can only get through it by watching back-to-back episodes of Big Love on iTunes? — LS in Iowa

Dear LS,

I’m laughing. But only because I’m not the one getting up at 3:00 AM to feed twins. Then again, how awesome is that? Some day soon they’ll be leaving home and you’ll only wish you knew their whereabouts at that time of night.

But here’s what I really want to say to your tired, overwhelmed self: Slow living for you right now might be managing a weekly shower and keeping things as simple as possible in order to stay sane. Eventually, life will take on a new equilibrium and you can get back to gathering around the table for a good meal, and all the other lifestyle choices that are important to you.

Most of us — no matter our circumstances — feel like we’re falling short because we haven’t arrived at the “ideal” we imagine for ourselves. As cliche as it may sound, we should challenge ourselves to stop thinking of living well as a destination (that we never quite reach) and view it instead as something we aim for in the context of our particular daily circumstances. Which may include the insanity of newborn twins.

And if Big Love is your way of coping, give yourself a pat on the back… at least it’s not double martinis. Yet.

If you have a question for SlowMama, write to me here. Your identity will remain confidential and you can always write under an pseudonym.

And just a reminder that M.C. Cabaniss — “Mags,” as I call her — will be making her blogging debut at SlowMama this afternoon.

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Got questions?

April 12, 2011

The doc is in

www.snoopy.com

Two things to tell you about this morning…

Starting this week, I’ll be devoting a weekly post to answering questions. It will simply be called, “Ask SlowMama” and you can send me any questions at all… I’m a coach, so I’m used to tackling many issues.

I may not address every question I receive, but I’ll do my best. Only initials or first names will be used, but feel free to also use an alias. Email your questions to me here.

The first “Ask SlowMama” post will go up later this week. A little free coaching mixed with free advice — how can you resist?

I’ve also invited two talented women to contribute to SlowMama each week. Ann Waterman will make her blogging debut later today, and M.C. Cabaniss will follow on Thursday. You can read more about them here. I know they’re are going to bring a lot to the site and you’re going to love them.

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