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Let me ask you a question. What do the holidays mean to you?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the middle of celebrating Hanukkah, just finished with Diwali, or are looking forward to Christmas, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa. What does the whole preparing and celebrating mean to you?
I think that sometimes (usually in the midst of fighting a Black Friday Crowd, or when we open those post-holiday credit card bills) we all wonder whether there is any deep meaning. When it comes down to it, is there anything more?
This is a serious question. Are the holidays pretty much all about buying and cooking and running around? Are we naive to think that it goes any deeper?
Someone thinks there is….
That search for meaning amid the holiday frenzy is the idea behind a website I heard about last week. Carrie Contey’s “Extraordinary Holiday Challenge” is targeted at exactly that “why are we doing this?” feeling I keep hearing from other moms.
Contey, who is best known for her parenting advice publications and her reseach on child behavor, is offering a free tool to help us/you/me dig into our goals, hopes, values and beliefs to get to the core of what the holidays MIGHT do for us (and to us) if we let them become more than an orgy of shopping and eating.
And it’s not hard!
The last thing any of us need this time of year is more hard stuff, right? Contey gets that too. The challenge asks simple things. List a gratitude. Jot down something you’re doing just for you. Watch a video. Try a short guided meditation. Just a few minutes here and there.
And it all adds up to something bigger. After a few days of doing this, you start to see some trends. Some needs come up. Some pieces of the holiday. A memory or two.
You shift…slowly. Gently. Your outlook changes. Small pieces come together. And you start to get a better picture on yourself, and what matters to you deep, deep down.
For me, the timing is perfect
Contey’s tool is a great way to clarify holiday values. But I’m using it a little differently.
With MomCom 2014 coming up in just a few weeks, I want to have a better understanding of where I want my life to go next. I mean, what good is two days of speakers and workshops if I have no idea what I want to do with all that input?
So I’m using Contey’s tool to shine a spotlight on where my life is now. And where I want it to be a year from now…or five or ten years down the road. The things it makes me write or think about are becoming the raw materials for building the next steps in my life.
And if I’m clear about what I have, what I want and what I need, I really think I can better use the information I’ll get at MomCom. It won’t just be “interesting speakers.” It will be ways to fill in newly identified blanks. or recognize a shared experince that could help me find a new path.
I doubt the author had any of this in mind when she created a holiday challenge. But I’m grateful that whatever her goal may have been, the result might just reach far beyond December for me.
Do you have a tool or technique that works to bring you clarity? We’d love to hear about it!
This is going to be one of the shortest, sweetest recipes you’ll see today. But for many of us, it’s one of the hardest too. Ready?
- One part old friends, who know your story, know where you’ve been and love you because of it.
- One part new friends, who like what they see and are ready to become a part of your story from here on out.
- One part your unique talent and gifts.
- Mix well, taking care to preserve the best of your past, while allowing a generous amount of new possibilities to show in the batter.
- Pour into your life. Choose a big pan…there’s a lot of batter, and you won’t want to waste a drop.
- Bake indefinitely.
- Serve warm, with plenty of fresh possibilities and a drizzle of magic.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
From the MomCom Team to all of you!
First, there was the time before kids. You remember… when your name was, well, your name. Or at least a nickname. Or something close to your name from those people (like me, sadly!) who are truly awful at remembering people’s names.
And then your little one arrived. And you joined a Moms Club or a playgroup. And suddenly, one day without warning it happens. You introduce yourself as “[fill-in-your-baby’s-name]’s mom.” And the other person, more than likely follows suit. Oh sure, you might preface it with your own name, but the fact is, part of your name is now someone’s mom.
And that’s cool. Being someone’s mom is great. But it’s also kind of scary. One day you were just you, and now you were just as likely to be remembered by your child’s name as your own. Maybe even more.
And it doesn’t stop. I have a daughter in high school, and I am still often hailed by someone as “Catherine’s mom.”
So where is the YOU you remember?
I was reminded about this when I read a post about rediscovering your sexy after kids. The author talked about finding your new sexy as a mom, instead of trying to look for your old pre-baby sexy body or feelings. And that seemed to be kind of the same issue. She rediscovered her inner sexiness and self confidence by embracing her new self, and spending time with other moms who were exciting and interesting…that reminded her that she too was still all of those things. And more, now that she was also someone’s mommy. Or several someones’ mommy.
But for her, as for so many of us, it took that sense of community with other moms to bring that spark back.
So where’s my community?
Even if you work full time outside the home, or run a business from a home office, you are not the same person after kids as you were before kids. And even the best of friends or the most supportive of colleagues can’t quite get that new you if they don’t have kids of their own. Since forever, moms have needed other moms. (After all, who else will understand that story about the time your nursing bra snapped open in the middle of the mall, sending you running for the restroom while holding a shopping bag against your now very damp shirt! And yes, that happened to me!)
For the author of that blog post, she found sexy with other moms in a Bump Club. When my kids were little, it was a MomsClub that reminded me that I was still Lindsay, plus some great new additions. When the kids were with us, I was “Catherine’s Mom.” On game nights and moms-night-out, I was Lindsay. Not the same old Lindsay. A new, enhanced version, but without the bugs of a Microsoft update.
Now, it’s groups like MomCom, where I can get to know other moms — and can be reminded that being a mom doesn’t take away my awesome. I get to see all kinds of moms being all kinds of awesome. And they see me that way, too. And for just a little while, I get to be Lindsay. A mom…and so much more.
So where do you find yourself, as moms, as women, as you? We’d love to hear your story!
So what are you thinking now? Maybe it was only a few years ago, and you remember every detail. Or maybe it was decades ago, and you’re still wondering why you ever thought a side pony tail and those huge earrings were a good fashion choice. (We’d love to hear about your “how could I have ever worn that??!!” fashion nighmares, by the way!)
But no matter when you left those, er, um “hallowed halls” of high school, you probably can remember a few other things.
The uncertainty about where life would take you. The excitement of knowing your “real” life was just around the corner. A time of coming into your own, even if you weren’t really sure what that would look like. Seeing your whole life stretched out in front of you.
Then, one day, everything changed.
You graduated and headed off to college or a job or to start a family. And somehow, all that sense of possibility vanished. You chose a major, or you focused on your job or the babies who kept you up all night. Or all of those. And the further you got into “real life” (you know, the kind with bills!), dreaming big dreams or seeing something incredibly different and exciting down the road became harder.
Even without that “world at my feet” feeling, maybe there’s still an itch somewhere. A whisper of an idea that you could do more or be more. Maybe it surfaces briefly when you have a few down seconds, and you think about old dreams. Or maybe a TV show or a movie reminds you of who you used to be…or thought you would be. And sometimes, it’s not something old…it’s something new. A new interest or new idea that won’t go away.
So now what? It’s easy to push your dreams and ideas away if you don’t know what to do next. Is your idea do-able? How do you start on a new career or launch a business or create a website that works? And then….the “later” mentality kicks in. As in “I’ll think about this later, after my kids are grown.” Or later, “after the mortgage is paid off.”
I have news for you, ladies. Later is a REALLY BIG PLACE! And it’s hard to find your way out…unless you do one thing. Ready? Go back to high school.
No, I don’t mean going back and enrolling in a real high school! That would be kinda awkaward…and besides, the backpacks are WAY too heavy!
What I mean is going back to the high school mind. Going back in your mind to the idea that you have your whole life in front of you, and a million choices you can make.
It’s about being mentally 16 and thinking about your life as full of possibilities and excitement. And it’s about learning, with a fresh mind, what’s out there. And how what’s out there,and your dreams, can meet.
Just like when you were thinking about careers and college in high school, you need to learn. Learn what businesses or careers match your dreams. Learn what other people are doing to get into, and succeed in those jobs. Talk to people who have followed new dreams years after the high school and college classes ended. Find meetings and groups that support building new paths. Attend conferences (like MomCom — okay, yeah, I’m biased!) where you can learn from other women who are in various stages of looking for, rediscovering, following and living their dreams.
Jump in. Just like a little kid faced with a gigantic ball pit, just pick a spot and jump in. And keep learning. Find mentors, find friends, find people who believe in your dreams. Be willing to flounder (consider it play!), be willing to look silly, be willing to change your mind a hundred times if you find a better way. Be 16 or 6, if need be. Just see that big, wide open world in front of you.
So what are you waiting for?
Your dreams are out there…and the 4th Period bell is just about to ring!
Hey Moms in the Austin area…
We just got word that Santa is set to arrive at the Domain during the 7th Annual Lighting of The Great Tree on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 6 pm.
And the big guy isn’t making this a solo act. Country music star Phil Vassar will be sharing the spotlight with Santa, as he treats everyone to sounds of the season. The holiday celebration will also feature a special performance by Outside Voices, a vocal performance group founded in 2009. Outside Voices is open to all Austin and surrounding area youth with performers ranging in age from K-12th grades. The group is dedicated to carrying the message of grace and love through their performances and service work.
And of course, there will be a tree. But not just any tree. The Domain’s 40-foot tree, will sparkle with more than 6,000 twinkling lights and 400 ornaments.
The festivities will start earlier in the day with family-friendly activities starting at noon. The celebration will include children’s holiday music, face painting, caricature drawings, balloon twisting and holiday crafts near the iPic Theater. Many stores will also be offering special in-store events and offers throughout the day.
Following the tree lighting, attendees are invited to enjoy marshmallow roasting in The Park. Strolling carolers will also spread holiday cheer around the center.
“We invite the community to continue the tradition of beginning the holiday season with friends and family at The Domain as we celebrate with music, lights and fireworks,” said Lauren Krumlauf, Area Director of Marketing for The Domain. “Each year we look forward to transforming the center with festive decorations and hosting family-friendly entertainment, beginning with our tree lighting.”
As if balancing parenthood and a career wasn’t enough of a challenge imagine being a mom of a three year old and an astronaut heading for the International Space Station! That was the reality for Astronaut Karen Nyberg, who returns from six months in space tomorrow, November 11th. Here’s her interview on parenting, learning to accept “good enough” and being an astronaut, filmed before her departure last spring.