Create your balance. Design your life.

The Pressure to be Happy for the Holidays

The Pressure to be Happy for the Holidays

Dec 9, 2015

For every song on the radio filled with cheer and jingling bells, there’s another filled with loneliness and longing.  It’s good to know I’m not alone… Starting in the weeks leading up to Halloween, the calendar fills up with every seasonal activity imaginable. We are constantly reminded how “precious” this time is with our children, and urged to create Pintrest worthy family traditions. Pressure builds to make sure the family experiences ALL the joy of the season: decorations, shopping, tree lighting, Christmas concerts, school shows, baking, visiting with family, crafts, on and on. We push ourselves to accomplish all of our “normal” activities AND the additional activities of the season, and do it all while grinning wildly from ear to ear—lest we be called a humbug.  For some of us, it feels a little like moving through molasses.  Every activity requires twice as much energy (and leaves a lingering sticky residue). A while back, I wrote about authentic happiness. Not everyone’s happiness looks the same.  TV seduces us into thinking true happiness is a bubbling and bursting, a new-car-with-huge-red-ribbon kind of glee.  Some people have a happiness quotient that is more of a simmer, save for those actual lotto-winning moments, and it is much more quiet. Like our bodies, happiness comes in all shapes and sizes.  We think something is wrong when we don’t feel what we think we should feel.  We tell other people to, “SMILE!!”, as if that is the only way to walk around in the world.  There is a difference between being unhappy and not-as-happy. Make this distinction in your solitude.  Appreciate the moments you have when your child says something magical about the season, when a great friend is in town for a visit, when your favorite movie comes on TV. It’s also perfectly reasonable to appreciate the quiet of the season: the glow of the lights when your house has turned down for the night, the warm smell of baking, the tears shed over people who have passed. We don’t give ourselves, or each other, enough opportunity to express an emotion other than jubilation this time of year.  There is room for reflection, remembrance, and reverence.  It is the pressure...

How To Entertain Kids When You’re Sick

How To Entertain Kids When You’re Sick

Aug 27, 2015

Spring brings lots of beautiful flowers, green grass, and ALLERGIES! When the little ones are sick, late nights and early mornings make life tough. But what happens when Mom or Dad is down for the count? We’ve already had a round of couching and sore throats at our house, which reminded me to share this article I wrote for BuzzFeed, about 20 ways you can entertain kids when you feel like you. can’t. even.   The article lists a bunch of great ideas to help keep kids busy, but here are a few extra pointers to keep in mind when you are down for the count: 1. PRE-PLAN I hope the all-caps indicates the importance of this one! Gather a few items reserved specifically for sick days, and half of the work is done for you. You may recall packing a “hospital bag” or “home birth kit” before baby came. This is important too. Grab a box or bin and fill it with age appropriate supplies. Some ideas for older kids include, new coloring books and crayons (sure you’ve got old crayons, but new crayons are the best), exciting Playdoh colors in neon or sparkle, fun activites from the dollar store kid isle. Little ones are a bit harder, so make a few busy bags in advance. This site shares 15 ideas that are easy to put together–from lacing cards to sensory bottles. Age aside, all kids love new things. Make a little grab bag of small new toys. Pull one out in these kinds of emergency situations, and hopefully you can get an hour or two of peace. When the kids get too many toys for a holiday or their birthday, I like to put a few away (they never remember) and pull those out when needed. 2. Hire a cleaning service. Look, when the main caretaker is out of it, kids will take advantage of everything they can. For me, that means my house is going to be a mess. This stresses me out. Sometimes, for the sake of sanity, we have to spend a couple dollars. It seems indulgent at first, but you cannot put a price on sanity. You might even...

Stop Buying Time and Start Experiencing It Instead

Stop Buying Time and Start Experiencing It Instead

Apr 17, 2015

I realized yesterday that I have been trying to buy time. Not against impending death or doom, but every minute of every day I am thinking of how I will be ‘spending’ my time, ‘filling’ my time, or working against it. This noticing came to me in the context of thinking about money, and how it has often seemed, to me, like a trade off between the two: if I want time, I have to give up money, or if I want money, I have to give up time. It occurred, then, to me, that perhaps there was another option. To let time move on of its own accord. To let the cup runneth-ing over with space, generate abundance of its own accord. In the work I’ve been creating for the past few years, I teach people how to listen to and learn from their bodies, emotions, thoughts, intuition, and from the things that are happening in their lives, both internally and externally. I’ve gotten pretty good at practicing this myself, except for this one, rather glaring oversight: I haven’t been listening to time. I’ve been trying to control, shape and berate it into doing my will. Or I’ve been ignoring it, or anxiously trying to, while in wait of shift or change or inspiration. But I definitely haven’t been listening. I’m a big fan of imagined outcomes and fantasy future, but when it comes to bringing dreams into reality, some actual action has to take place. We can “practice” being in action by doing physical activity, setting schedules or following routines, or taking something metaphysical (like an idea) and making it physical, by writing, building, cooking, or other ‘creating’ activity. Time itself involves flow, and perception, both things that are also involved in the creative process. My next step with my big ‘a ha’ idea about time is to explore a greater connection to my own internal sense of time, and my internal sense of readiness and action, rather than orienting solely to the external clock. I’ve been doing this for years, by following my energy, and following my thoughts and emotions, but I have yet to follow my rhythm. I’m going to...

10 Ways to Hit the ‘Reset’ Button

I don’t know about you, but I have, more than once in my life, wished there were a big ‘reset’ button sitting around that I could smack. Really smack it. Reset my day, my month….. I’m usually, if I really think about it, looking to reset my attitude. Today’s post is short and sweet. Here are 10 ways I’ve found to reset my “Blargh!!!!” and start anew: Go outside. In nature. Look at it and smell it. If you don’t have nature, imagine it or stick your face in a hedge, for real. Drink a glass of cold water, slowly. With your eyes closed. Nap. Pay attention to your breath for five minutes. Again, eyes closed. While we’re at it, close your eyes (eyes closed helps you to turn your attention inward and filter out the fray). Laugh. Make a friend date, or a self date, to do something fun. Notice if you are feeling overwhelmed or stuck, perhaps you have forgotten to do something, like eat. So eat, and make it healthy, with great texture. And don’t do other things while you are eating. Pick something you really want to do from your bucket list, and engage with it, by surfing the web, writing about it, or finding a photo and daydreaming. Here, you are reorienting to your ‘why’ and to your dreams. Take a day off; Take a vacation; Quit your job; Find a new one; Make. A. Change. The urge for a reset, or a time out, is usually an indication that what is happening in and around you is not in alignment with your truth, preference or authenticity. It’s a call to look, and can also be a call for change. Next time this happens to you, instead of plowing on through, take a moment to stop, look, and take action on your own behalf. This message brought to you by the committee for finding more fun and less sludge in life. No suggestion in this article is to be put into practice without a healthy dose of common sense, or is a replacement for medical advice or psychological counseling. About the author: Jen Kahn MS, RYT works with clients using...

Where Does Balance Begin?

Where Does Balance Begin?

Mar 19, 2015

A couple of months ago I posted about finding balance, and how I like the “surfing” concept of balance more than the “scales of judgment” idea. To share an inside peek into the life of Jen, I’ve been struggling with balance and time management recently in my life, and for a multitude of reasons it’s been hard to see a solution that I can really get behind. And then I saw a recent video from my friend Dr. Melissa West, founder of Namaste Yoga, about balance for beginners in yoga, and I had a real face palm moment (have you heard of “A ha!” moments? Mine are often more like “Oh, duh!” moments. For realsies). I view experience in this world in a very embodied way. Your body lives with you throughout your life, and parallels any experience you are having in your mind or emotions. Sad? Your body is too. In love? Bet you’ve got some butterflies! Your body can have a lot to say about your life situations. Likewise, things that happen to your body (like an injury, illness, or super awesome massage) can impact your thoughts and emotions as well, but that’s a post for another day. So when I’m stuck, it has never failed me, to start my exploration with body connection and exploring the topic from a physical standpoint. Are you struggling with balancing work, home, fun and relationships? Then try exploring the physical aspect of balance, and take it ‘to the mat’. This particular video offering is yoga, but it doesn’t have to be…you could ‘take it to the surfboard’ or the balance beam, or simply to standing up in your living room and shifting from one foot to the other and seeing what it takes to find ‘balance’, and paying attention to what all is happening while you’re doing all that. You can check out the (free) video here.               In the introduction page to Melissa’s video, she talks about the components of finding balance: observing, interpreting, and responding to stimuli. The same pieces apply to finding balance in life. How do you observe what’s happening around you, particularly the things in life...

Easiest Trick in the Book

Easiest Trick in the Book

Mar 12, 2015

Well, maybe not the easiest, but for me, the perfect balance of simplicity and deliciousness. What am I talking about? Shortcuts to healthy home cooking! The top struggles I hear from clients regarding homemade, healthy eating are: •It takes too long to prepare everything fresh •Not liking the way the food tastes •Feeling confused about what’s healthy for them. While this idea won’t solve all your healthy eating problems – some answers need to be discovered through trial and error, or with the guidance of a health care professional – I promise it WILL make your pursuit of healthy eating, at least some days, tastier, and easier. Are you ready? The ‘secret’ is….wait for it…. salad dressing. Yeah, you heard me: salad dressing! We think of salad dressing as something to put on lettuce. Or maybe something that comes on the side of a plate of chicken wings. Did you know that salad dressing can be used quite successfully, and easily, as: •A marinade: Marinate your meat or vegetables in Italian dressing, grill, broil bake or sautée. •A pasta “dressing”: Toss hot pasta with a nice vinaigrette. If you have loads of time on your hands, add some grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, and baby arugula or spinach. WOW. This dish can be served as a hot pasta dish, or even cold or room temperature as a pasta salad (cold will require more dressing than hot. Continue to re-dress until you get the pizzazz you want) •The basis for a sauce: Mix together an oil and vinegar and spice based dressing with some sesame, sunflower or nut butter. Throw some protein and vegetables into a pan, cook partway, then add your ‘sauce base’ and a squeeze of lemon or lime, and cook protein through. Improvise to make something sort of like a Thai saté. •An easy way to favor up steamed vegetables: Steam vegetables, and dress them. Yep, that’s it. •A jazzy addition for flavorful rice: Instead of dumping your rice and water in a pan, turn the heat on, throw the rice and some salad dressing in, and sautée of medium heat until the rice turns chalky. Turn the heat up and add your water, bring...

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