By The FIRM Master Instructor Leslie Perry Duffy
Nothing says “I love you” quite like a gigantic box of chocolates, right? Hardly! This special holiday symbolized by hearts and celebrated with high-calories treats can be anything but heart-healthy. However, there’s no hard and fast rule that requires us to celebrate with sugary candy and foods saturated with fat. Celebrating Valentine’s Day in a healthy way does not mean that you can’t enjoy your favorite treat in moderation. Or, forget the treats and celebrate in a unique way that’s special for you and your loved one(s).
My first taste of volunteer work came when I was 12 years old. It was 1976, and McDonald’s restaurants were encouraging kids to host carnivals to raise funds for muscular dystrophy. Though I had little understanding of muscular dystrophy, I loved a backyard party. My philanthropic mother had planted a deep seed in me regarding helping others. “To whom much is given, much is expected” was our motto.
I received my carnival kit and recruited the neighborhood kids to help. We had a fortune teller, sno-cone table, games of chance and more, raising about $70. But the major payoff was that I fell in love with good causes.
Since then, I’ve volunteered as a swim buddy for kids with spina bifida and worked with various organizations that focus on environmental issues, homelessness, poverty and AIDS. These days, I volunteer weekly at a soup kitchen, washing dishes and passing out fruit (when we have enough) to the down-on-their-luck men and women who come inside for soup and community. I also chair an eco-committee at my kids’ school. And though it seems counter-intuitive — after all, I’m a busy mom of three — I find myself with more energy to tackle my other commitments.
Life presents itself in a vast array of cycles: the cycle of the moon, the cycle of the seasons, and the cycles of the sun and tides. Celebrating these cycles with some type of ceremony is such a profound practice and one worth considering.
This past New Year’s Eve, rather than hit the town with friends, I was snuggled up by the fire holding a ceremony to close the cycle of 2013 and welcome the coming year.
For our ceremony, we found a little shop that sold a variety of stones. We picked out stones based on their traditional meanings. Each one represented something we wanted to cultivate or bring into the new year. We included stones like carnelian for passion and obsidian for letting go.
One by one we placed each stone in a little wooden box. We spoke about each stone’s meaning and specifically how we wanted it to infuse our lives in the coming cycle around the sun. We closed the box and put it outside for the night.
The next morning, we brought the box inside and imagined bringing all the things we had spoken about the night before into our lives. The box now sits open on our mantel to help us remember our intentions.
Does this sound familiar? A reader wrote:
Once my sons are on the computer or playing video games, I can’t get them to come to dinner or practice piano. They say they aren’t hungry, or that they have to use the computer to do their homework. What can I do?
Tech’s Taken Over
In the middle of 2013 I met Julia, who told me a story about a voice that woke her in the middle of the night. She wasn’t scared when it asked her, “Do you want me to heal your heart?” Julia had had a congenital heart problem since she was a child. Now pregnant, this heart problem rendered a natural childbirth unsafe for her as well as her child. So when the voice asked her, “Do you want me to heal your heart?” Julia said “yes” without hesitation.
Our Spiritual Cinema Circle film program for January is inspired by new beginnings.
The short film Chronophobe asks the question: How do we use our time?
Pink Balloons is the story of two strangers learning to understand one another with compassion.
We’re almost midway through the first month of the new year, and if you’re like the majority of resolution makers, you’re likely already starting to falter. According to a recent New York Times article, “By the end of January, a third will have broken their resolutions, and by July more than half will have lapsed.”
That’s why now is a great time to recommit to those oh-so-noble goals. Two ways to do that? Checking in with your resolutions often and rewarding yourself for your progress. Sure, losing weight, saving money and getting more sleep are their own rewards, but a little extra motivation never hurt, right?
By The FIRM Master Instructor Mindy Fenske
The new year is a time to reflect on what we have done, to make plans for the future, and to celebrate with friends and family. It is also a time for resolutions. How many of you have made resolutions in past years that have somehow been, well, less than achieved? Let that all change this year. This will not be the year that a goal has been set and not met. This will be your year of success, and here are the eight simple ways to make that happen.
The other night, I was looking at my tree, decorated with the small number of ornaments that are meaningful to my family and me, and thought about how I grew up with a tree full of ornaments, each covering the one behind it. It was one of those moments of clarity for me, watching the tree in the dark of night with the lights sparkling: Less is more. Too many trinkets distract. It’s not about what you get or have. It’s about what you give, and the quality, not quantity behind that sentiment.
Slow, in our culture, is a four-letter word. Slow is lazy. It’s unmotivated. It’s got an attitude problem.
Fast is where it’s at. Fast-track your career. Fast-burn your fat. Get results … fast!
I like fast as much as the next mom. I badger my children to tie their shoelaces faster, eat their dinner faster, make their beds faster. We run for the school bus, race to piano lessons, zip to the grocery store.