Create your balance. Design your life.

Clever Keepsake Crafts for People Who Don’t Have Time

Clever Keepsake Crafts for People Who Don’t Have Time

Apr 15, 2015

Spring is in the air! Time to clean, purge, and organize. Every year, this season fills me with the desire to start a keepsake project for my kids that will–one day–leave them speechless and teary-eyed with joy. I just don’t have time. Projects like scrapbooking take a lot of energy and dedication to complete (not to mention a ton of supplies). Many of us don’t have the space or the will to make it through these kinds of hobbies. Though I would love to present my children with beautiful mementos of their childhood, a scrapbook is not in the cards. I can’t even organize their photos on my hard drive. Still, while I’m cleaning for spring, I get nostalgic packing away their little outfits and artwork. In this article written for BuzzFeed, 7 Adorable Ways To Commemorate Your Kids Without Scrapbooking, I share seven ideas that have a low supply/storage/or time commitment. In most of these, the major requirement is to think about it from time to time and make a purposeful contribution. The idea is to choose one thing, like bath toys, and make a purposeful collection of those items. For one of these crafts, a mother collects tidbits from her son’s pockets over the years. If you are emptying pockets for the wash anyway, why not stuff the contents into a jar? Easy. Low effort. Great future impact. My absolute favorite idea, one I started for my girls, is to make them an e-mail account. For better or worse, I have my phone in hand all the time. Any time something adorable happens, I have a thought I’d like to share, or I snap a picture of their accomplishment, I send it right to them. When they turn 18, I plan on giving them the password to the account. Of course, I can always curate posts I send (or others send) before that birthday. Naturally, I sent a bunch of emails when I first opened the accounts. Since then, I e-mail when I think of it or something big happens. Still, by the time they hit 18, they will have a nice collection of thoughts, observations, and pictures. I even send them the answers to their birthday questions. This digital...

True Confessions from Twelve Years of Marriage

True Confessions from Twelve Years of Marriage

Mar 30, 2015

Today marks twelve years in my marriage. If practicing something for 10,000 hours makes you an expert at something, I guess that makes me an expert at marriage. Well, it makes me an expert at my marriage at least. After twelve years, however, I am still practicing. And in this practice, I have discovered a few key elements and beliefs that have led to a place of contentment and satisfaction after twelve years. The following confessions are lovingly whispered to any and all people who have chosen a partner to love inside a marriage. Certainly much of this applies to all long-term relationships, but there is something special about taking legal action to bind yourself to another–a right all people deserve.   Confession One: Marriage consists of two living beings. A marriage is alive. As with all living things there is continuous growth. Think of two plants side by side. Neither one will grow in the same way or even in the same direction. Even if the two plants are the same type of plant, they will not look or behave the same way all the time. One may need more water for a time, one might need a different set of nourishment or to be turned a different direction. To think of marriage as a “thing,” as an inanimate state, is poison. That thinking prevents the possibility of movement that would allow each participant to grow in the healthiest way. Recognizing marriage as a living organism prevents resentment when one individual starts to grow in a new direction or requires different care. Confession Two: Support is more important than happiness. “Happiness” is a loaded notion. The very expectation of “happy” can ruin actual contentment. People feel like if their level of happiness isn’t dripping with honey, if they aren’t jumping out of their seats and dancing in the street, that they aren’t truly happy, or that something needs to be fixed. Happiness is also a very personal feeling. It is a mistake to think of a relationship as happy. Think about phrases you often hear: the happy couple, wedded bliss, happily married. People have asked me many times over the year, “Are you happy in your...

Hearing the Hard to Hear

Hearing the Hard to Hear

Feb 25, 2015

You hear something unflattering about yourself. It happens. How you handle the situation as an adult matters more than it did when you were in high school. This is your opportunity for real growth. Here are some things to avoid: 1. Running Away. When a person points out a negative trait of ours, or airs a grievance, it is tempting to run away. We want to remove that person from our life. There are a million social media memes we can latch onto about “removing negative people from our lives.” And while shedding toxic people is important, ignoring criticism is dangerous to personal development. Cutting people out should not be a go-to behavior in your adult life. Instead, this is a chance to move through an uncomfortable situation and come out a better person (with stronger, more developed relationships). 2. Thinking the other person is crazy. Like running away, thinking the other person is “crazy” is also dangerous to personal development. What part of the criticism or comment can you actually embrace? Even if a negative comment seems to come out of left field, there is an element of truth to the person making the comment. Is there anything in the conversation that you can accept? Can you honor the way they feel? Just because a person can see (or has a problem with) one of your negative behaviors or habits doesn’t mean that person is nuts. 3. Talking about it over and over and over again to everyone you know. When you rehash a conversation you had, with people who were not involved in the original conversation, you are in danger of gossiping. It is also another “avoidance” tactic to facing the truth in the difficult conversation. Also, are you fishing for someone to say, “That’s not true. You are ___. That person is crazy”? Because if you are, you are not only missing the growth opportunity, you are also making the other person uncomfortable. This behavior says to the new person, “I cannot handle any criticism or truthful conversation.” 4. Allowing the comment to morph into a lie. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and then found out later they heard nothing...

Unexpected Places

Unexpected Places

Feb 17, 2015

Three weeks ago I was living in suburban, rural almost, Florida. Now, I find myself and my family living in the middle of Manhattan in the city of all U.S. cities. In the winter. In the snow. As I pushed my daughter in her flimsy umbrella stroller, through this blackish snow-mush that collects anywhere a human might want to cross the street, I had to pull over. My girls complained, my face felt like frozen meat, and that familiar pinch of anxiety crept into my chest. Then I looked down the street. The view was surreal. Monumental buildings lined the street, just like in the movies. How the Hell did I get here? After one of the most emotionally difficult years of my life, everything tailspinned into a completely different set of circumstances. Just as I was inching myself out of a deep hole, I find myself starting all over. Again. The bottom line: we find ourselves in unexpected places. If we allow it, we can start again. I never pictured myself in New York City. It was never on a list of places I even wanted to vacation, much to my friends’ surprise. Yet, here I am. We all have choices, even if it doesn’t seem like much of a choice. That’s it. That’s the wisdom. You might find everything you were “working for” completely uprooted. You might find yourself having to make a decision between career and family, comfort and the unknown. And just maybe, THAT unexpected place is EXACTLY where you are supposed to be. Who knows, right? Since the WLBPA focuses on balance, the protection of sanity, and life experience, this column will reflect the new direction I have taken in the last few weeks. I’d love for you to come with me on this journey of “who knows what,” as I learn to live in a tiny apartment, in a humongous city, with a toddler and a kindergartner in tow. photo credit: America: this is a place where dreams can still come true via photopin (license) Share this:RedditPinterestFacebookLinkedInTumblrTwitterGoogleEmailLike this:Like...

Little Loves: What Makes A Grandparent?

Little Loves: What Makes A Grandparent?

Oct 16, 2014

By Mo Breden I’m NOT a Grandma. I may never be.  I have made my peace with it, and I sincerely am ok with it.   One of my most ardent desires in life was to be a mother, and I was blessed twice in that regard. I will always count those two relationships, with my daughter and my son, as the most cherished in my life. One of the reasons I have easily made peace with it is because of the “little loves” that have come into my life and have remained.  Most prominently, my great niece and nephew and the two daughters of my daughter’s best friend.  I know I don’t see them as often as a grandmother would, but when I do, it’s all about love and fun and conversations that put me over the moon.   I’m so grateful for these little loves, and I couldn’t love them more if I was their Grandma. In the past few days my great niece had to be hospitalized, I couldn’t be there, but I was there, texting, driving my niece crazy with questions, suggestions, and more questions.  I lay awake last night waiting to hear word about the opinions of the doctors and I’m happy to say, she’s doing much better today. Her symptoms have lessened and she is more back to herself.  I couldn’t have been more concerned, or more scared last night, if I was her Grandma. So, the question begs, what makes a Grandma, or Grandpa, or Mother or Father, for that matter?  It is not solely a matter of genetics, it is a stirring in the soul, it is a spiritual attachment to a child that you love and care about.   These little loves that come into our lives, captivate and stay with us, near or far, and they do not have to be blood relationships. Life frequently does not give us what we want, or what we think we want.  Life surprises you with unexpected gifts in unexpected places and with little loves.   There is, for sure, a lesson in this.  When I don’t get what I want or what I think I should get, I have my little...

Too Old To Trick-Or-Treat? Here’s An Alternative

Too Old To Trick-Or-Treat? Here’s An Alternative

Oct 15, 2014

How old is “too old” to trick-or-treat? According to a poll taken by Today.com, most people think that kids are too old by age 12. Really? Twelve-year-olds are still babies! I get it though. As a person who is less and less inclined to open her door (on a regular day), I don’t enjoy the late-night knocks on Halloween. Never mind the fact that most teens barely attempt a costume, there should be no one ringing doorbells past 8:30 p.m. Once, my friend and I opened the door to a woman carrying a new born. We gave her the candy. She must have needed it. But 12…? Who can even tell anymore? There are 5th graders taller than me! I feel bad that the “cut-off” for children’s activities seems to be getting earlier and earlier. They already grow up so fast. Here are some ideas  if you find your children in the “tween” stages where they still want to go around to houses (but worry about them getingt the cold shoulder): 1. Go with them! It’s still OK to go around with your children and look on as they go up to the door. Seeing a parent at the end of the drive puts people at ease. Make sure your children put some effort into a costume. Dress up with them (at least a little). This is probably the last time trick0-or-treating for your tween, why not make it an event. 2. Throw a fun party at your house. Your tween doesn’t need something elaborate. Have him invite a few of his friends, order some pizza, and put on a a scary(or not so scary) movie. Alexandra always has tons of great movie ideas here and here and here. Everyone can participate in passing out candy to the little ones that come by. Depending on your child, you can have a few pumpkins for carving too. Even though you might get an eye roll, tweens still love those kinds of activities deep down. 3. Tail gate in your driveway. Grab the opportunity for togetherness and have a haunted tail gate. Set out some chairs, play Halloween tunes, and watch the festivities. You can even grill! Some families go...

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