30 Acts of Random Kindness To Practice

image from justpooh.com

image from justpooh.com

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
~ Plato

Do you ever think about teaching kindness? It sounds very simple but sometimes I think we expect our children to be naturally kind but in fact, like any other personality trait, only some have kindness as a natural part of their personality. And as most parents know, the best lessons are taught by example. You can model kindness. You can be kind to your children. And together you can do Random Acts of Kindness.

Did you know that this week is Random Acts of Kindness Week? It lasts from February 12th through February 18th. What a perfect week to coincide with Valentine’s Day, to teach kindness and love for people we love and for people we don’t even know.

Start with this short video of Random Acts Of Kindness Caught On Security Cameras.

I love this video. It got me thinking that teaching children to love anonymously is a great gift to give them. Here are some ideas for teaching your children Random Acts of Kindness. The first 13 ideas can be done by your children themselves. The next ideas, 14-30, need you as the parent (or aunt, uncle, friend) to help out. And by the way, you don’t have to be a child to commit these Random Acts of Kindness.

30 Random Acts Of Kindness To Do With Your Children!

1. Smile at five strangers
2. Hold the door open for someone
3. Help a neighbor with light yard work
4. Let someone go in front of you in line
5. Return a shopping cart
6. Pick up trash in your neighborhood
7. Wash a car
8. Say good morning to people
9. Complain less
10. Make someone laugh
11. Share a toy
12. Be a positive person
13. Compliment a friend

Child with parents:
14. Bring canned food to a food bank
15. Hand out popsicles at a park
16. Carry around lollypops for crying kids at stores
17. Put something nice in the mailbox for the mail man
18. Say thank you to the bus driver
19. Pay for the person behind you in a drive through or at the toll booth or drive thru
20. Tape quarters to the gumball machine
21. Leave flowers or candy at someone’s door, ring the doorbell and run away! (We do this at Christmas for a special family each year for 12 days…but that’s another post!)
22. Leave special notes in your neighbor’s mailboxes
23. Donate to the local food bank
24. Make cookies for your teacher
25. Hand out a $2 bill when you catch someone doing something nice. (We do this because someone did it for us)
26. Put a gift card on someone’s windshield
27. Bring a neighbor dinner
28. Shovel a neighbor’s walk without telling them
29. Send a real letter to someone
30. Leave kind notes on other people’s windshield

My kids and I have done a few of these ideas. And I plan to do more!! Please, write more ideas in the comments below!

You and your children can change the world, one person at a time!

I also have to include this quote from Rachel Scott, the first victim at Colubine High School (just miles from our house). She had a vision, that her parents and brother have taken as their own (http://www.rachelschallenge.org), that we can start a chain reaction of kindness! Be part of that chain!

Unconditonal Love... pass it forward and start a chain reaction.

Unconditonal Love… pass it forward and start a chain reaction.

And one quote of inspiration from Mother Teresa:

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

~ Mother Teresa

And one more…
“Fill each day with life and heart. There is no pleasure in the world comparable to the delight and satisfaction that a good person takes in doing good.”
~ John Tilloston (1630-1694); Archbishop Of Canterbury

Read more at Randomactsofkindness.org.

Here’s to being kind! I’d love to hear your ideas of Random Acts of Kindness! Please comment below…

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21 Ways To Save Yourself From Anger

Save yourself from sorrow!

Save yourself from sorrow!

Kids change your life. We all know that! Before I had kids I imagined all the ways. Was I ever surprised that I often found myself getting angry! I thought of myself as a very calm person. I was never really angry before I had kids but suddenly something would just begin to bubble inside and I’d erupt. Not exactly the best thing for a mother to do to her children. Then I came across this Khalil Gibran quote:

“If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?”

I knew I needed to change. That’s when I decided to become a “Zen Mama”.

What’s the motivation to stop being angry? It’s one of the best ways to happiness for you and the people in your life.

• Anger puts others on the defense.
• It shames and humiliates them.
• It can lead to anxiety.
• Anger can give you health problems.
• Anger causes guilt.

Anger is a form of suffering because the angry individual suffers as well as his or her victims. The word anger itself comes from the Latin term “to strangle”. Anger is like a poison. Patience is the most important antidote for anger. We all have ways to access patience. For some it’s counting to 100. For others, it’s leaving the situation for a moment. To feel anger is to be human. Nobody is perfect. You will find yourself a little happier if you wait a short time to say something that you might regret later.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk, puts this perfectly:

“When you express your anger you think that you are getting anger out of your system, but that’s not true,” he said. “When you express your anger, either verbally or with physical violence, you are feeding the seed of anger, and it becomes stronger in you. Only understanding and compassion can neutralize anger.”

Now we all get angry and there are different degrees of anger. I’m not going to ask you not to get angry. I’m going to ask you to change your habits so that neither you nor the person you are getting angry at is burned.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
~Buddha

Here are some ways to bring compassion and understanding into your life and help you to change your reaction. These are small steps that will lead you toward calm:

1. Try surprising someone by not getting angry at what you normally get angry about.

2. Try stopping yourself just before you get mad.

3. See two sides of the story.

4. Hug the child/loved one you’re angry at.

5. When angry with a person, think of why you like them.

6. If you’re angry, put your hand over your heart.

7. Make a gratitude list of all the good things in your life. Look at this when the anger is bubbling.

8. Write a list of ways to solve this anger without an explosion.

9. Take time in silence, without reliving the issue that is making you mad.

10. Change negative thinking/talk to positive.

Emerson Anger Quote

11. Listen to music you love. It will bring you to a very happy place.

12. Send people love even if they don’t deserve it. That’s when they need it most!

13. Give yourself “angry time” (10-15 minutes) and then go on to something productive.

14. Breathe deeply when the anger creeps in.

15. When you wake up, remind yourself that each day is a clean slate to start fresh. Think good thoughts.

16. See what you can change as a challenge, a fun adventure rather than a burden.

17. Exercise. Get moving whether it’s walking or weights, you’ll always feel better.

18. Eat delicious healthy food as a little treats. (but do not binge on some junk that will make you feel guilty later).

19. Read positive quotes.

20. Take a walk in nature. Watch sunsets (or sunrises if you’re an early bird). Contemplate the stars. It’s harder to be angry while in nature.

21. Do talk about your feelings after the anger has subsided.

ONE LAST THING: Trust that everything is happening the way it is supposed to. You just may not know why yet.

Now that I’ve let go of getting angry for the past 6 years, I hardly ever feel it inside. At first I just acted like a Zen Mama and then I actually became one. That’s not to say I haven’t felt angry at times when I first started but I have changed my reaction. And after a few years, I found that I just didn’t even feel angry inside any more. What a relief for me and the people in my life!

You can stop, too. Just decide to try and you’re 1/2 way there! If you have any other ways that work for keeping anger at bay, please share in the comments below.

Korean Anger Proverb

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2 Ingredient Banana Pancakes – A Delicious Zen Breakfast

Yum! The best Zen Breakfast! Easy and good for you!

Over the past two years we have been trying to eat more healthy foods as a lifestyle change, not a diet. It’s amazing how many healthy recipes are still delicious. It’s all about taste. And most of these recipes don’t have too many ingredients. In fact I’ve recently read that if you should find recipes or items you’re buying that have 5 ingredients. These pancakes only have 2! (Minus the toppings)

I cannot believe how easy this breakfast is and how delicious! I am not a fan of pancakes because I just feel too full after eating them. But no this one. I found the recipe on Food Matters TV. Your kids will love them! They’re loaded with protein. They’re quite filling! And only 33 calories minus plus any butter or jam you add. This breakfast has the best of both worlds: they’re tasty and nutritious. It’s idea for your picky eaters.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 banana, peeled, coarsely chopped
Coconut oil or butter (I used butter)

Optional Toppings:
Butter with Jam
Pinch of cinnamon
Handful of fresh strawberries
2 tbsp natural yogurt (coconut or organic dairy)

Directions:

1. Whisk 2 eggs in a bowl, add the banana and mash together to form a batter. Now I had to try this twice because I had the great idea to put it my blender and that pancake just didn’t work. You want it to be lumpy with the bananas.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil (I used avocado oil) in a frying pan and pour in the batter to create a small pancake, or, if you are using a large frying pan, you can create two small pancakes with that amount of batter in one pan. I found it best to make two medium sized pancakes separately.

3. Let the pancake cook through before flipping it. After flipping it, let the other side cook through.

4. Serve with fresh strawberries and yogurt, cinnamon, butter, pure maple syrup, nut butter, seed sprinkle, raw honey or your desired toppings. I used butter and some homemade lavender apricot jelly (from my niece) and a few cranberries and pepita seeds. Yum!!

5. Listen to Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” while you cook and eat!

Let me know below in the comments section how you like them!

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Mindfulness and the Five Senses

Mindfulness is an important part of life.

Mindfulness is an important part of life.


I’m a big fan of mindfulness. It always seems like when I’m mindful, I’m happy and content and enjoying life. And one of my goals for this year is to be more mindful.

What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose! A lot of us go through life mindlessly. Here are some examples of mindlessness:
• Breaking things, spilling things
• Forgetting someone’s name as soon as you hear it.
• Listening to someone with one ear while doing something else at the same time.
• Being preoccupied with the future or the past.
• Eating without being aware of eating.
• Having periods of time where you have difficulty remembering the details of what happened – running on autopilot.
• Reacting emotionally in certain ways – feeling like an emotion just “came out of nowhere”.
• Daydreaming or thinking of other things when doing chores.
• Doing several things at once rather than focussing on one thing at a time.

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I Resolve To Make 2017 A Happy New Year!

2017 Zen Mama Resolutions

Happy 2017!
My theme for 2017 isn’t just Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) but Carpe Annum (Seize the Year)! Rather than pick impossible goals to accomplish, try these new habits to practice. Resolutions like this make you a happier person. And in becoming happier, the people around you will be happier, too.

1. A Balance of Work, Play and Learning
Balance is extremely important for a healthy mind and body. A balance between work, play and learning. It’s a simple idea that is really hard to accomplish at times. What does being balanced mean to me? It means not rushing, feeling grounded, calm and peaceful, and best of all, excited for my day and for just being alive. It’s feeling awake, mindful, receptive and wise. We all have glimpses of balance in life but not usually on a daily basis. What if you could have this feeling nearly everyday?

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Go Where the Energy Goes…Follow Your Bliss

Follow-your-bliss

This summer my niece visited for 3 weeks. She loves crafts so much that we set up a basement room with sunny windows for “Creative time”. I bought a bookshelf at the 2nd hand shop nearby. All the craft supplies I had in the house filled up the shelves. Everyday at 3:30 we’d head down to the basement and begin our “Creative Time”. We also wrote and cooked together. We watched inspirational youtube videos to figure out how to make interesting crafts. Now, even though she’s back at home in San Francisco, I’m inspired to get down to our creative room every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

And then I recently took two incredible cheese making class. I never dreamed I could actually make cheese!

I’m a foodie and a cheese freak! Taking a cheese making class was high up on my list of things to do. For the last year, I’ve put off taking this class. My friend, Amy, who wanted to take the class, too, went ahead and found a class for us taught by the owner of a goat farm.

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Make Gratitude A Habit for This Thanksgiving and All Year Long!

Zen Tips Gratitude Beattie

Looking for Happiness?
Of course you are! We all are.
What is the key to finding it?
Could it be gratitude?

It is amazing we have a holiday that is set aside to be thankful for the abundance in our lives. I love Thanksgiving for just that reason. We celebrate family and the things we are thankful for. No craziness, no buying sprees….just gratitude. It’s become my favorite holiday over the last few years. And now, I want to live Thanksgiving everyday!

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9 Ways To Raise A Mindful Child

Children are naturals at mindfulness

Children are naturals at mindfulness

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” – Henry Miller

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.”– William Blake

Here are some of my preschool students on a recent field trip to our local gardens. About 10 frogs presented themselves that day. We spent as long as we could just staring at this little frog. Nothing was as fascinating as that frog! It was pure mindfulness. Totally living in the moment. Since then I’ve gone back to study the frogs, bees and fall leaves. I’ve never felt such peace.

Children should be naturals at mindfulness. Yet these days so many children are combating anxiety, having trouble concentrating and controlling anger.

Aniexty is a big problem. I recently read that 1 in 8 children feel some kind of anxiety. Some are depressed, some are worried and having panic attacks. It’s hard to imagine! And with all the technology, sticking to a task for a long time is more and more difficult.

There are several tools to combat anxiety through mindfulness. Kids need more time to be mindful. It’s up to us teachers and parents to give that to them.

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13 Quotes To Help You Achieve Mindfulness

MindfulnessA few weeks ago, while on auto pilot and thinking too many thoughts, I got to my destination without even paying attention to the drive. Then there was one night last week I couldn’t sleep as I made all sorts of lists in my mind of things I needed to do. My distracted mind or Monkey Mind had taken control! I was falling into the trap of our culture and being too busy. (Do you remember what I think of busy? Read more here about the 4 Letter Word). I had too much going on in my head. I realized that I needed to take the time out to be more mindful!

What is Mindfulness?
It’s paying attention “on purpose”. It’s being aware without judgement.

Left on its own our mind wanders back into the past and forward into the future. These thoughts can include worry, anger, disappointment, fear, grief and self pity. You suffer with these thoughts because the past is gone and the future a fantasy. Let go of these thoughts, paying attention to the now without judgment. This creates a stillness and peace in the mind. When using mindfulness in your life you tend to be here now. And now is usually filled with contentment.

When in the present moment nothing everything seems just right. It means being there with your children or the other important things. It means really listening. Or being in nature and just observing. Or seeing still in a meditation that revives you. It’s almost like you’ve taken a mini-vacation from life and are feel rested and renewed.

I love these mindfulness quotes. The quotes remind me how important mindfulness whether it’s a serious meditation or just a walk in your garden.

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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Yummy Zucchini Noodle Salad – The Perfect Zen Meal!

A New Zucchini Growing in the Garden!

The zucchini is one of the most versitile squash around. It’s used in all sorts of meals. In gardens it grows like crazy! I often have more than I knew what to do! Which is a great problem to have if you know a few good recipes.

My latest go-to Zucchini meal is a Zucchini Noodle Shrimp Salad with Miso Vinaigrette. This salad fits in perfectly with my Zen Meal requirements: easy, healthy and delicious. I took a couple of my favorite recipes (from Skinnytaste and Pinch of Yum) and combined them into one.

Shrimp Salad with Zucchini Noodles

You feel healthier just looking at it, don’t you?!

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