Peace Keeping

by Stefani on 17-November-2009

I've Been Meaning To Tell You...

Howdy friends!

How's the week treating you? Did you know that Thanksgiving is next week? How the heck did THAT happen? 

Fortunately for me, I'm preparing a speech (which is really kind of a chat with slides) for a local group of moms. I'm not wild about the idea of public speaking, but the topic is very dear to my heart. The talk is meant to be all about slowing down and simplifying holiday celebrations to make them more meaningful for families. How could I not be a part of that?  The unexpected benefit of participating is that in order to prepare to speak,  I've been sort of forced to really focus my heart and mind on going  into this season with an attitude of peace and purpose. Now if only I can stay the course! 

Let's face it. What with all the gift and meal planning, the decorating, the photo ops, the many personalities and preferences that must be taken into consideration, the crowds, the events, the sheer number of bodies and voices and needs and desires, the making, the doing, the anticipation, expectation, lights and laughter and longing…. all of it is both wonderful and overwhelming. 

So I'm on a peace-keeping mission…. a mission to keep my own sense of peace, and to spread it thick over our celebrations.

One of the very small ways that I I hope to keep my head on straight in the midst of the holiday storm is my newfound love, the morning walk. Just carving out a little time, no matter how small, with some regularity is so important for me. And I must say, the dog is turning out to be a GREAT excuse to get outside and breathe before the day begins. 

We just go around the block. He proclaims his greatness by christening every stationary object, and I listen to NPR. I've been meaning to share some of the interesting things that I've heard along the way. To name just a very few: 

Spontaneous Smiley  - The kids love this one, and it has opened our eyes to the smiles all around us. We were already looking for hearts (like the one above, found a few doors down from our house), but now we're also looking for happiness wherever we go…. a worthy endeavor if ever there was one. 

My Parents Were Awesome - So fantastic…. the photos and the thought behind it. Once, all us old fogies were young whipper snappers with the world at our feet. And one day, our offspring will no doubt find new and improved ways to share our poor fashion choices with the world. 

Polar Obsession - Just imagining the world of this photographer/adventurer will take your breath away, let alone seeing his photos! 

Somehow all of these little stories add up in my mind to a more full perspective. There are smiles all around us. People are more than they seem. There are depths and wonders yet undiscovered. Today, and this moment, and this holiday season are just one drop in one big glorious bucket.

How about you? Heard anything new and interesting lately? 

Know any brilliant ways to find calm in the midst of the holiday madness? 

Sarah Jackson November 17, 2009 at 9:24 am

You know, it may sound silly, but we made a conscious choice about 2 years ago to check out of the craziness. We’ve talked to the family about dialing it back and we mean it. We’re not traveling, we’re not making a zillion plans. It’s so much better this way. We’re not stressed, we spend less, and we have more time together. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Marie November 17, 2009 at 9:29 am

If you haven’t checked out New American Dream, you might want to. They have a wonderful free booklet on simplifying the holidays, as well as information about kids and commercialism, and conscious consumption. Really a wonderful site!

ali November 17, 2009 at 10:21 am

What a lovely post, thank you! I think my boys and I need to join Operation Smiley, lol. We could use it on a day like today when I’m avoiding school AND my children because I’m a grumpy gus 😉

Thank you for a beautiful blog and thoughtful post.

I’d love to “hear” your presentation–maybe you’d think about posting it?

Casey November 17, 2009 at 11:54 am

Ooh, I envy you your morning walk. We did the Hundred Dollar Holiday a few years ago and it really put things in perspective for us. I don’t like to be on the highways at holiday time, both because of traffic and because of that special brand of “holidays must be perfect” stress. Now we see the distant relatives at other times of the year when everyone’s more relaxed, and on Christmas and Thanksgiving we take a long hike in the woods, maybe attend church, eat a good meal and enjoy each other’s company with all the electronics turned off. It’s bliss.

Let us know how your talk goes!

Hannah November 17, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Yes! Lately I’ve had the treat of getting to know a few people and hearing their stories, including one mom from my son’s Cub scout troop who had initially turned me off with her, uh, apparent eccentricity. Taking a little time to hear her story has helped me not be so dismissive, and helped me fall more in love with the human race!

Hey, I’d be interested in coming to your talk, if you’re not too sensitive about that. If that’s OK with you, would you email me with the info? It sounds like such a great topic and one I’m very interested in (i.e., it wouldn’t be to stalk you or anything! :-))

Vintage Chica November 17, 2009 at 1:07 pm

ola friend…did you happen to catch any of the meteor shower this a.m. Getting a bit back to normal around here.xxooxxoo E

Jade November 17, 2009 at 1:07 pm

so uh, where are you speaking? i need a pep talk!

BOATBABY November 17, 2009 at 4:26 pm

The My Parents Were Awesome sight simply rocks. Thank you for sharing that. I could look at that all night. Mind swirling.

darlene November 17, 2009 at 8:15 pm

love the websites, they were very inspiring!

Carine Mattix November 18, 2009 at 11:47 am

This is not really in line with your current post, but I have meant to ask you this for a few days now. At some point, you talked about updating your boys’online portfolio (I can’t remember which post this was in), you mentioned that in passing and I was just curious to know what kind of online tool you use to make their portfolio. At this point I use homeschoolrecording for our kids and they have a portfolio option but I am just not sure what I am supposed to do with it. Just wondering what you are using and whether you like it.

greta November 18, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Oh my how I love Spontaneous Smiley! I am smiling just thinking about it. Thanks for sharing. We’ll be on the look out for smiles, hearts and simple gifts like this.

Stefani November 19, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Oh my goodness! Thank you Marie! I had not seen this and it is so full of great information.

Stefani November 19, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Hmmmmm…. could be… I’m going to have to get a handle on what earth I’m going to SAY first! 🙂

Stefani November 19, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Oh Hannah, I don’t think you’re a stalker at all and we’re well overdue for a meet up. Maybe after the madness of the holidays we could plan a group hike or something? Even just a park day would be great.

My talk is for a group of women that meet regularly. There’s dinner and a craft and everything, so I don’t think I’m allowed to invite folks. It sure would be nice to have you there though. I’m so nervous, that I think having someone in my corner would be great!

Stefani November 19, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Oh my goodness! I did not. Was it wonderful?
So glad to hear that things are settling. We’re due for a call, aren’t we? I might surprise you one of these nights. 🙂

Stefani November 19, 2009 at 8:04 pm

Well… all I can think of is that in my Progressive Pioneer interview I said something about being online at night or maybe updating their portfolios. But those are two separate things Our portfolios consist solely of ginormous binders of their work and our weekly charts…nothing online. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

Ruth Kaiser December 1, 2009 at 8:17 am

Hi, I’m the Ruth who started the Spontaneous Smiley project. Thanks for posting about it. I hope you send in some Smileys and join the Facebook group and check out the website,


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