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New Year Self-care Jump Start, Day 3

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Good morning, beauty! Today’s little mission for self-care is to make a small corner of your life organized and calming to look at. No need to spend the whole day cleaning house, but tidy up a small corner you use a lot. Clean with loving intention, perhaps meditating on your good fortune at having warmth, shelter, and a place to call home.

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A good, small spot to focus on might be your desk, your bathroom counter, your vanity, or a kitchen cabinet. (That’s my kitchen cabinet above, and you can probably tell from looking at it that, 1. I don’t have a lot of pantry space, and 2. I’m kind of a birth junkie. Yes, that’s a printout of an Alex Grey piece taped to the inside of my cupboard. Makes me happy every time I look at it.)

A tidy space is calming to the psyche, and there is even a school of thought that says living in clutter contributes to overweight. I believe that a calm environment brings a sense of peace and a feeling of competence. How about you? Do you thrive on a bit of chaos or do you need order in your personal space? Let us know in the comments!
Warmly,
Kirsten

Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world holistic coaching for mamas who want to consciously cultivate big lives that get them totally fired up.  Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and rocks a tiny homeschool in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She believes that connection can change your life.   Read more about her here.

New Year Self-care Jump Start, Day 2

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Good morning, beauty! Your mission for today is to find a pen and paper. Make it a beautiful blank journal or the back of a kid’s scribble. Simple copier paper will do nicely, and so will a blank doc on your phone or computer. Whatever you use, take a few minutes today to reflect on the year we’ve just left.

Today let’s think about the good parts of last year: the brags, the triumphs, the people you loved, the places you went, the small things that made you happy. You might write about:

  • What worked well for you in 2017?
  • What are you proud of?
  • Did you achieve any particular goals or work through any difficult situations in 2017?
  • What brought you bliss in 2017?

In a future journal we’ll talk about goals and strategies for 2018, but for today the idea is that knowing where you come from helps you plan for where you want to be. It’s also an awesome opportunity to count your blessings and pour your gratitude out onto the page. You probably already know that gratitude helps you calm down and notice the good things in your life. Did you also know that keeping stress low and happiness high are directly correlated to longer life and less illness?

So today use your journal (or blank doc, or back of scribble) to write down anything that makes you feel good and happy and proud of your 2017.  And feel free to share a brag or two in the comments!

Warmly,
Kirsten

Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world holistic coaching for mamas who want to consciously cultivate big lives that get them totally fired up.  Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and rocks a tiny homeschool in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She believes that connection can change your life.   Read more about her here.

New Year Self-care Jump Start, Day 1

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Good morning, beauty! Happy New Year! Welcome to your 30-day Self-care Jump Start. Every day this month I’ll be posting some simple ideas for self-care that will help you get your new year off to a healthy, happy start. Too many of us approach January 1st with a litany of perceived flaws we would like to change: Drop a few dress sizes. Stop(!) eating cake. No more alcohol again, ever. Be less selfish and give more to charity. Stop being lazy and finally train for that marathon. And maybe learn a couple of languages in my spare time. (I don’t know about you, but I have tons of spare time.) There is nothing wrong with a little bit of self-improvement. But my goal with my clients and my aim with myself is to start with nurturing and nourishing the person we are right now, today. Building a foundation of self-love and nurturing daily habits can be a powerful (and pleasurable) springboard for tackling the bigger, longer-range goals and challenges. And it comes from a place of sweetness rather than mean self-judgement so it’s a lot more fun.

The aim of this program is to help you establish some happy, nourishing daily habits, pleasurably and simply.

And now, without further ado…

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NAP.

Chances are you are home from work today. Chances are also good that you stayed up until at least midnight. So take advantage of the cozy home and the sleepy eyes to grab yourself a little snooze. A recent Wall Street Journal article on naps says,

“Sara Mednick, an assistant psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, said the most useful nap depends on what the napper needs.
For a quick boost of alertness, experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap is adequate for getting back to work in a pinch.
For cognitive memory processing, however, a 60-minute nap may do more good, Dr. Mednick said. Including slow-wave sleep helps with remembering facts, places and faces. The downside: some grogginess upon waking.
Finally, the 90-minute nap will likely involve a full cycle of sleep, which aids creativity and emotional and procedural memory, such as learning how to ride a bike. Waking up after REM sleep usually means a minimal amount of sleep inertia, Dr. Mednick said.
Experts say the ideal time to nap is generally between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Napping later in the day could interfere with nighttime sleep.”You can read the rest of the article here. Perhaps after your cat nap?Again, a very happy New Year to you. We’re off to a happy, healthy start!

Warmly,
Kirsten

Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world holistic coaching for mamas who want to consciously cultivate big lives that get them totally fired up.  Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and rocks a tiny homeschool in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She believes that connection can change your life.   Read more about her here.

Inaction May Be What’s Keeping You Unhappy (and how to fix that)

This is a post for mamas who are feeling the weight of this time, this administration, this -ugh- this 2017.

If you are like 99%+ of my clients you’re really freaking out about the state of the US right now. If you grew up in the 80′s it may feel like all of your dystopian science fiction anxieties are coming true — like Road Warrior water shortages plus Handmaid’s Tale reproductive rights shortages plus nuclear anxiety from every movie everywhere. We have problems with police violence and mass shootings that are significant enough to warrant overseas travel warnings.  Life is tough right now, You’re not imagining things.

It’s easy to get caught in an endless loop of scrolling through news sites and overindulging in comfort foods, something else that 115%+ of my new clients have come to me struggling with since last November’s election. It’s hard not to feel powerless, and that powerlessness is coming out in all kinds of unhealthy ways.

In my experience as a coach and an activist and a mother, I’ve seen that we often get that  freaked-out feeling when we don’t feel like we’re actively doing anything to address the problems we’re seeing in the world. (I get you mama. When there’s a job that needs doing you’re used to getting down to business and getting it done.)

But schedules are tight and bandwidth is low as it is. You may already feel you are at capacity, with parenting, work, and all of your other obligations. To this point, I think it’s important here to figure out what are the consequences of inaction. To do nothing is to feel feeling perpetually powerless, and that can be a stressful, anxious, and depressed place to be. That’s why many of my clients are looking for solutions that add big impact without a lot of time.

Kelly, a busy mom of two kids, says, “I know I can’t change everything. I focus on two things and only two things. That way I can do a little something most days a week. ”

That’s really good advice. I often think about it when I choose where to spend my yesses on a given week. I have many things I care about passionately, but only three that I actively organize around. That means a lot of saying no to things I just can’t make fit in a given week.

You may have a number of things that you’re passionate about. If you do and you find yourself frozen in inaction, it may be good to narrow down to one thing to start, and dive in. Whether that’s racial justice or disability rights or animal welfare or feeding hungry people is up to you. If you don’t have a passion but you’re desperate to do something, the following list will help you. These are 5 places to check out for small actions that will have a positive effect on the current climate and give you a renewed sense of purpose that may just feel better than nightly rose’ and cookie dough.

1. Solidarity Sundays is a nationwide network of over 100 feminist groups who are focused on taking action against injustice and inequities in the US. SolSun has two awesome ways of getting involved: one is the monthly in-person meetings for letter-writing, phone-banking, and social media in a friendly group setting; the other is their online daily actions, simple, scripted things you can do on a coffee break or in your pajamas.

2. Resist Bot is a free service that turns texts into calls and letters to politicians across the country. To sign up, text RESIST to 50409 or message Resist Bot on Facebook and the service will find out who represents you in Congress and deliver your scripted message to them in under 2 minutes with no apps or downloads required.

3.Wall-of-us, four concrete acts of resistance sent to your in box every week. Scripted letters and calls you can make in the car or, again, in your jammies.

4. Indivisible’s mission is to fuel a progressive grassroots network of local groups to resist the Trump Agenda. In every congressional district in the country, people like you are starting local groups and leading local actions. Another great site with tons of information plus weekly actions and updates.

5. Rock the Vote is still going strong, and now offers an easy-peas online voter registration tool that makes it ridiculously simple to start your own voter registration drive from the parking lot while the baby is sleeping or your couch while you binge watch Stranger Things.

How are you feeling, mama? A little bit better? Less helpless? Doing a little something every day adds up big, to help change the world and to transform a hopeless outlook into an brighter one.  Just remember that to take our power and resist despair, we all have to do something but none of us can do everything. Take it easy on yourself and remember why you want to make the world better in the first place. And breathe. They’re not lying when they say this stuff is a marathon, not a sprint.

How are you resisting and persisting, sis? Please share in the comments.

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Three Ways to Hit “Reset” on a Bad Day

mommiedearest reset a bad dayIt’s 10am and your day is not improving. You woke up to last night’s dishes in the sink (don’t you have an agreement that when one of you cooks, the other one cleans?). The kids are whiny and hangry and your partner hasn’t texted you back about that Really Important Thing you texted about three hours ago. You feel frustrated, alone, and ready to scream Mommie Dearest-style that you’ll cut the next person who has the nerve to ask you for something.

Slow down, mama. You don’t have to lose your cool. You can reset this day to move on to happier things AND model for your kids how to deal with stress and disappointment in a healthy and productive way. Win-win!

Here are three of my favorite ways to hit Reset on a bad day:

1. Get outside and into the sunlight. This is a great reset for stressed-out mamas and cooped-up kids alike. Getting into the sun for a little walk gives you crucial Vitamin D, raises your happiness hormones, improves immune system function, and reminds you that you are part of the living world and not just dusty furniture in your living room Island of Isolation. When everything else fails, get outside.

2. Sing out. Instead of yelling at your kids, say it with song. Try a silly operatic trill, or belt out a soulful blues number. “So-faaaaaaaaas! are for booooooooootaaaaaaaaays,” I will sing to my kids in my best R&B diva voice when I’ve asked too many times for the monkeys to stop jumping and I feel my yell coming on. Singing to them this way confuses them into stopping what they are doing (jumping on my couch like wild people), and it signals my brain that we’re not in a crisis situation that will only be solved if I commence screaming in 5-4-3… (My brain was raised by parents who screamed. Left to its own devices it would make some silly, misguided decisions sometimes.)

And if you’ve already started yelling and the day is looking grim, it’s time to call in the big guns:

3. Paging Captain Do-over! This is a code word my kids and I use when things have gotten out of hand, voices and words are unkind, and we need to get back to the present moment and remember that we actually like each other. “Captain Do-over!” we yell and almost immediately we stop grouching and fall into a hug. It takes a couple of seconds to feel that calm, safe, feeling of oxytocin flooding our system (mmmm, sweet bonding hormone we get from hugging and smelling kid heads)  and then we can start the process of repair. For the yelling mama, this is a great time to apologize and start over. I’ll say, “I’m sorry I spoke so rudely to you. I was feeling stressed out. What I meant to say was that sofas are for booties and I’d like you to sit quietly and read for a few minutes. Will you please do that? And then we can go outside and run around and get our energy out? Great! I love you. I’m sorry I yelled. You are so special to me.”

They will often start bouncing again, or doing some other annoying thing until we get dressed and out the door to get some sun and start our day. But at least we have all calmed down and I’ve taken responsibility for stopping the bad day before it gets too out of hand. When things are calm and the mood is good, I’m better able to deal with the little stresses: the whining kids, the non-responsive husband, the pile of dishes. They still annoy me but they don’t have to hijack my day– or my kids’.

Want more support dealing with the stress and isolation of motherhood? Get in touch, mama!

Kirsten Quint Fairbanks is health coach and holistic living expert who loves offering real-world holistic coaching for mamas who want to consciously cultivate big lives that get them totally fired up.  Kirsten lives happily, works gratefully, dances inexpertly, paints badly, cooks traditionally, and rocks a tiny homeschool in the San Francisco Bay Area.  She believes that connection can change your life.   Read more about her here.