Friday, March 22, 2013

Soul Food for Your Family

Do you often talk of your family life with words like “crazy busy”, “frantic”, and “juggling”; get sick of the sound of “ tappety tap” permeating your home; and wish you could spend more time looking at your kids’ faces rather than just their foreheads as they look down at their technology—and maybe they feel the same?  Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life is a guidebook those till in the throes of parenting with children at home should run out and get, and those with kids who are grown will wish they had years earlier.  Any reader with or without children will find thoughtful discussion of living a slowed-down life in a speeded-up world. 

Author RenĂ©e Peterson Trudeau asks early in the book, establishing her own firm credentials as a mom, “Do you ever feel more like a police captain than a goddess?” Trudeau is a life balance coach/speaker, is on the faculty of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Wellness, and leads life balance workshops for Fortune 500 companies and other organizations worldwide.  There are also personal renewal retreats worldwide based on her first book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal.

This book ties together and goes beyond every spiritual parenting book I’ve ever read. It’s about how to help your family thrive in today’s always turned-on world.  It isn’t just a “how to unplug” how-to but rather leads the reader through what Trudeau calls ten paths of peace, which they can follow to nurture the soul of their family.

Her first chapter, The Transformative Power of Self-Care, espouses a ‘peace begins with me’ philosophy that takes ‘If mama isn’t happy, nobody’s happy’ to the next level—and includes papas, too. Self-care and creating peace are core values for Trudeau, recurring themes throughout the book. She builds a “pause for peace” into each chapter.

The chapter specifically on spiritual renewal is not about going to your place of worship on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday (though that can be part of it) but about a daily spiritual practice. Growing up her family meditated, so of course that is one option she suggests.  The six portals of spiritual renewal are:
·         Creating ritual
·         Cultivating stillness
·         Accepting what is
·         Service to others
·         Living in the present
·         Choosing happiness

Nurturing the Soul of Your Family is peppered with quotes from a range of moms and dads, but my favorite quote is one she gives from Richard Carlson, in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff—and It’s All Small Stuff, “something wonderful begins to happen with the simple realization that life, like an automobile, is driven from the inside out, not the other way around.”

One chapter, Defining, Celebrating and Honoring Your Family Culture reminds the reader of the importance of being intentional, a helpful antidote to the constantly reactive position we find ourselves in as parents. In another I love the phrase Trudeau uses, “Do Less, Experience More.” The chapter People First, Things Second: The Digital Divide focuses on dealing with the trickiness of technology. Another, Time Together, suggests being in nature as great for family spiritual renewal.

Breaking Free: Making Hard Choices focuses on the tough decisions you have to make—about money, about technology, about work, even about food—to get the life you want for your family. The last section, on Finding Your Tribe, is about building your own and your family’s support network—and using it! As the author said in an interview about the book, “Learning to ask for and receive help can take years of practice; it’s like strengthening a muscle.”

There are journaling and other exercises for the whole family throughout the book. (I love the one on creating a family vision board! Even the most jaded teen or tween will get into this because it’s theirs, too.)

I tried so hard to be a good mom—but would have loved a guidebook like this to taking care of myself so I didn’t get so strung out sometimes (arguing with my child as though I were a child, too and letting him push all my buttons) and to support me as I took on the various challenges of nurturing my family in the midst of the daily storms of the world around us.  Fortunately the book also includes the concept of self-forgiveness—another muscle this parent could use some practice flexing. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Today’s Gem of Grace in the Gray Areas:

 “The moment a woman decides to be unafraid, she is transformed. When she recognizes the power and possibility of her own strength, and surrenders every fear to that power—she becomes the greatest version of herself.  Her character, her passion, her identity—they all come to life.”

(Diane von Furstenberg, designer & board member, Vital Voices, in the book Vital Voices: The Power of Women Leading Change around the World)