the awesomeness of autumn

Fall in LoveIt’s officially fall, y’all! While I love balmy temps, long days, and cut-off shorts, I long for cardigans and combat boots. For many, the summer ended unofficially with the passing of Labor Day and the start of another school year. Others look to the Autumnal Equinox to usher in the new season. Still for some, the re-appearance of “Pumpkin Spice” everything signifies that cooler temps are on their way.
There are so many reasons to embrace the awesomeness of autumn and it seems that more people than ever before are getting into the spirit of the season. Whether you’re cheering on your favorite football team, picking apples at your local produce patch, or simply enjoying a mid-day stroll without sweating through your clothes; it seems we LOVE to get outside during the fall. For good reason, too! Decreased humidity, moderate temperatures, and the beautiful changing of the leaves; all things that are best experienced first-hand.

We can turn our love of fall into a habit. Taking time to #optoutside is a great way to engage with loved ones, take a break, and appreciate the beauty all around us. Here are some ideas to embrace the awesomeness of autumn!

  • Working-lunch picnic: take your lunch to work one day and find a spot to eat outside. If you don’t have a dedicated sitting area, you can get creative! Organize an at-work tailgate with some coworkers. Bring your folding chairs and a radio for the full experience.
  • BYOP Porch Party: This is great for kids of all ages! Turn your porch into a GOURD-geous gallery of pumpkin art! You will need some kitchen utensils and newspaper for carving, and some scrap paper for tracing designs. Have guests supply their own pumpkins.
  • GET in the GAME! Gather up your neighborhood pals for a game of two-hand touch football, cornhole, kickball, basketball, TV tag, whatever!
  • Leaf collecting: this is such a fun activity that you may want to do it multiple times. Take a walk and search for dropped leaves that have started to change. Notice how the colors become richer throughout the season.
  • Fall Pub and Grub Crawl: Explore your local surroundings on foot. Plan a hike/bike/trek with a delicious destination. Food and drink are always better after a little adventure.

Get creative! There are so many ways to fall in love with Autumn. In the Triangle NC area, where I live, there are tons of local 5k races for great causes popping up this time of year. Whether you run it for time or walk with friends, you’re guaranteed to enjoy yourself. You could check out a local music or food festival; Sylvan Esso and Friends at Shakori Hills was the PERFECT welcome to fall event. If you like to see or be seen, fall is your chance to get out and play. Hope everyone enjoys the cooler temps this week! I sure will ūüôā

Love and blessings to all y’all!

E

HebrewDawn: the awesomeness of autumn

done is enough

How often do you fret over going the extra mile on the project that’s been assigned to you at work? How many times have you worried about finding the perfect vendor to complete an update or correction to something in your home? How often have you said no to a volunteer opportunity because you didn’t think you were knowledgeable enough? Have you ever considered that done is enough?

Over the years I’ve learned to let go on having that work email typed out and articulated “just” right. Once I learned to let go, I’ve been the editor for coworkers stressing about sending out the “perfect” email. More times than not, the final product is not all that different from the orignal version that was being fretted over for not being quite right.

Over the years my husband and I have spent hours looking into every possible lawn care company that could solve all of our problems. We’ve reached out to neighbors to find out what works for them and their yard. We’ve then worried if it’s worth the month, if there are too many chemicals, and what if we made the wrong decision. We spent so much time researching and worrying that it delayed having a beautiful yard we can enjoy.

Over the years I’ve recruited countless volunteers who doubted their ability to serve. They though that they couldn’t be a Girl Scout leader because they were never a Girl Scout, but they turned out to be the most dedicated to learning EVERYTHING about the program, it’s history, and how to lead their girls. These leaders were more than capable and simply needed to say yes and get through their orientation. 

I’m not convinced that the driving factor in all of this is perfectionism. I am inclined to believe that it’s our own fear of judgement from others that we aren’t completing the job to perfection, choosing the best vendor for the job, or being the best person for a volunteer position. If we can let go of this fear of criticism or ridicule, we might we see that we did the best we could, we did find the right person for the job, and that we are a good fit for the opportunity.

Perhaps, if we can accept that done is enough, we will learn…

  • that anything we complete is done exceptionally well
  • we cannot spend all of our time researching, because we are missing out on other things in our life 
  • that we are capable and called to serve for ne volunteer opportunities

Don’t be afraid to say yes and know that done is enough.
HebrewDawn: done is enough

pause and press play

When was the last time you did something just for the fun of it? I’m talking about gallivanting shenanigans, here. Really try to think…I’ll wait.

So many of us lead full busy lives with hardly any leftover time for shenanigans. It is widely known that play is critical for children to develop creative thinking and problem solving skills. But who has time for playing around in their grown-up lives?

HebrewDawn: pause and press play
The truth is that playtime is important for people of all ages. Engaging in activities purely for enjoyment can bring much more than fun into our lives. Dr. Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute of Play. He¬†defines “play” as an apparently purposeless activity; something done for it’s own sake that is fun or enjoyable. There are many different types of play available to adults, but the important part is that we are only invested in the activity as much as it is pleasurable to us. Basically, ¬†the act of playing is more important than what you do or how it goes.

For instance, I teach dance and yoga in Raleigh, NC. ¬†While I am extremely passionate about both activities in any context, I have a much different experience giving a class than when I’m taking a dance or yoga class. As a teacher, I spend a lot of time preparing lessons, creating sequences and choreography, to make sure I can guide my students safely and effectively through each class. Sort of like having a party at your house, my job, as the host, is to make sure everyone is having a good time. When I am NOT the teacher, ¬†I can let go of my expectations and live in the moment. I can be present in what’s happening right now and not worry about where we came from or what’s happening next. It is truly a gift to be a student attending, and I find my practice in both modalities is invigorated by this playtime. Conversely, the absence of playtime leaves me feeling like a stale bag of chips…

Humans are not alone in their need for play. Dr. Brown has researched play among species in the animal kingdom, finding that species that play more when danger is not present are better able to defend themselves when a threat emerges. There is also evidence that animals of different species can communicate through play. ¬†Brown’s famous story about the polar bear and the husky illustrates this amazing concept. This suggests that in some way, from an evolutionary standpoint, play is purposeful. That is an odd concept to wrap around the old noodle…Why on earth would messing around give us an advantage?

Regardless of our age, the act of playing catalyzes some pretty important reactions:

  1. Playing helps us connect with others; when we are children, it’s how we develop communication skills. As adults, it helps us feel trust and bond with one another.
  2. Playing helps improve our brain function. Games from simple to complex engage the mind and increase our cognitive function.
  3. Playing helps us relax. Because we are enjoying the activity, we let go of our sense of time when we’re playing.

Even if we are simply taking a mental break from it all, playtime refreshes us. Maybe animals who play sleep better and are more rested when the time comes to be active? Maybe that group of thirtysomethings playing Magic in the back of the video game store is not really so strange? (I mean clearly, they are having a wicked good time, they are here every Friday night!) Maybe those silly corporate team-building activities aren’t so silly, after all?

This is the first of a series of posts about “playing around” and how we can all stand to invite a little more of it into our routines. Until then, go have yourself a ball, do something just for grins…I Double Dog Dare, you!

xo,

E

HebrewDawn: pause and press playResources:

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http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/06/336360521/play-doesnt-end-with-childhood-why-adults-need-recess-too

tÔĽŅhere is good in this world

I think it’s safe to say that there is a LOT going on in this world that is breaking our hearts, making us angry, and causing us to wonder  what in tarnation is our state/country/world coming to. Despite all the hate and indefensible things going on around us, I want to remind you that there still is an an abundance of good. 


Have you seen or utilized A Little Free Library? Our neighborhood Girl Scout troop added one next to our playground, and it has brought an abundance of joy to so many already. Almost every time my oldest goes to the playground she picks out a book to take back and checks a new one out. Frequently on my drive home from work I see members of our community, both young AND old, “checking out” a book from the library. If you do not have one in your area, I highly recommended working with your community to add one.

In the midst of the flooding caused by hurricane Harvey, a midwife packed her bags and traveled by inflatable swan to get to her laboring patient. Waist high water would not stop her from being present for a mother ready to meet her newest bundle of joy. 

This weekend we had the privilege of driving to Morganton, North Carolina to celebrate the wedding of our friend. On the way home we had the distinct pleasure of stopping in Raleigh to visit with my best friend Erica. Did you hear about the two long lost best friends reunited by their daughters being college roommates? Reading this made me ever so thankful for our time together yesterday. I most certainly couldn’t (nor do I want to) imagine my life without her, let alone 16 years of being separated.

Did you hear about Logic’s performance at the VMAs? His song, 1-800-273-8255, is named after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and was written during his own battle with wanting to commit suicide. His performance led to a 50% increase in hotline calls. His own struggle is helping so many others, and it comes at a fitting time as this Sunday, September 10th is National Suicide Awareness Day.

As you go about your day and begin this week, I hope you remember that there is good in this world regardless of what may happen to try and convince you otherwise.

The long silence

HebrewDawn: the long silence
For the last year I’ve mostly been silent here on HebrewDawn, stopped posting my queued up Real Mom posts, and basically neglected you all. All I can say is I’m sorry, but I’m ready to open up about why. 

In May 2016 I found out I was pregnant with our second, my oldest was getting close to turning three and blooming into being her own little person, and I suddenly had doubts about what or how much to share about my family. I’ve always been cautious about sharing their names, but details about their life and personality worry me too. What if someone uses info on my site or social media for the wrong reasons? What if I’m telling things my children will later wish I kept private? This internal wrestiling has gone on forever and then one of my favorite podcasts (Young House Love Has a Podcast) talked about this EXACT topic. Suddenly I didn’t feel alone, felt a little justified in my trepidation, and felt like I could back on the old blogging saddle. 

I can honestly say that I have missed you all. I’ve heard from some of you during my writing silence asking what’s going on, and for that I am thankful. I hope you know that I have never taken you my followersfor granted  have been saving things to share with you throughout my silence. Please hang in there as I come back to finding my writing rhythm, but I promise to not be so silent anymore! I have no plans to keep my family (particularly my kids) off the blog, but I do plan on changing how much you see of them on here and on social media. What all this will look like is still to be determined. Be back Monday with a new post from yours truly and Wednesday with a wellness post from Erica!

HebrewDawn: the long silence

silence is no longer an option

HebrewDawn: silence is no longer an option
For far too long I’ve sat in silence. 

For far too long I’ve allowed others to be the voice for the oppressed. 

For far too long I was made to believe my voice wasn’t needed. 

I now know that I was wrong, because I can no longer remain silent. 

I speak out to have my voice heard. 

I speak out for those that cannot speak. 

I speak out to hold our government accountable. 

I speak out to keep history from repeating itself. 

I speak out because I have hope we can do better, that we will be better, and that things will change. 

Silence is no longer an option. 

Inauguration Day 2017

To my dearest daughter,

Today is the inauguration¬†of the 45th president of our country. This day is filled with mixed emotions for many Americans, as some are delighted and some are greatly dismayed with who is to be our next president. I’m not here today to tell you how I feel or how you should feel about this, but I do have some things I’d like share with¬†you.

Being a United States citizen is a great privilege, and it comes with civic duty. We may not like or agree with the people who hold elected positions, but we do have the ability to speak out, speak up, and to vote our conscience.  On November 8th you came with me to the polls to cast my vote for our next president and other elected officials on a historic day in American politics. A woman was the presidential candidate for a major political party. As a woman I could choose, with you by my side, to vote for a woman for president if I so chose.

Regardless of how I may or may not have voted, a woman won the popular vote in the election for president. She may not have won the election due to electoral college votes, but we were VERY close to having a woman elected president. Many will talk about all the things that were wrong with Hillary Clinton, but what is right about her is the deep crack she made in the presidential glass ceiling. By the time you’re old enough to dream of being president, I know that it can be more than a dream.

I’m happy to note that November 8th wasn’t the first time you’ve gone with me to vote,and it will not be the last time you’ll go with me to vote. Through this experience, I hope you will know the importance of your voice in what is happening in our government. You can be heard by voting, contacting your elected officials, and speaking up about what is going on in our government. You will not see eye to eye with every other ¬†American, but I hope you can let your voice be heard and respect the voices of other Americans too.

Today our 45th president is a man, but there is a big crack in the presidential glass ceiling. I wonder if our 46th president will be a woman?

Dream big my love and never let anyone silence your voice.

Love,

Mama

Two of us on the run

HebrewDawn: unconditional tenderness

Living well does not just mean taking care of our physical body. It also means looking after our spirit by nurturing the people and things and ideas we love. For me, that’s music. I was fortunate enough to catch the amazing Lucius (one of my favorite bands) at a local venue last night. In addition to playing a killer show, the group took time out of their set to say a few words about the events that took place in Orlando earlier this week. They shared their condolences and begged the audience to keep talking about these atrocities. They urged us to support ANY AND ALL¬†efforts to stop the spread of hate and bigotry. This was received with both cheers and tears;¬†a collective raising of hope.

In a time where we can never be sure of anything, I think we can all be sure that aggressive intolerance is not only baseless but also divisive. Anger and resentment towards the differences of others is like being mad at the weather. Reflecting on our pain and frustration may be dwelling in the past, but it is our only path forward. Remembering how these terrible crimes affect us and the world we live in is the path to change. This is not a time to forgive and forget. This is a time for us to get up, stand up, and do something positive. In the face of a ghastly tragedy like this one, it can be difficult to see any positive outcome, but try. I promise it will be better if you do. 

I have to admit when the news first broke of yet another mass shooting, I was in denial. I did not want to hear about it. I didn’t want to get angry or sad or experience the heavy emotions of this tragic¬†pointless loss of life. It seems so¬†unreal. There is no acceptable answer for why this happened just as there is no sure-fire way to stop it from happening again. But that doesn’t mean we should not try. We have to believe a solution is possible, we have to want change more than we fear this cruel intolerance. It will be tough to find the motivation, but we should try. It’s better if we do.

We have to learn to trust each other and that starts with love and respect. I respect you even though I don’t know you. I appreciate all the experiences that have made you and look forward to knowing you better. You are imperfectly perfect as you are right now in this moment and I love you for that. I want you to know that I cherish you. I love you before I’ve even met you because we are alike. We deserve to find love in each other, we are connected. It may seem hard to believe, with me here and you there, but try. It’s better if you do.

We asked for your prayers earlier this week, but now we ask for your action. We want you to join us in spreading a message of love and acceptance. Help us commemorate these events in a positive way. Hug someone, call someone, buy someone a coffee, ask someone how their day was, just engage with someone. Help them with a project, help them with their homework, just be helpful. By caring randomly for another, even in a small way, we are sharing the love. You may not get a favor in return or even a thank you, bur you should try. Its better if you do.

While I don’t believe in unconditional love, I do believe in unconditional tenderness. After all, everyone is somebody’s child. It may be hard to believe that an evil killer once had a loving mother, but we should try. It will be better if we do.
HebrewDawn: unconditional tenderness

Let’s work to make the tragedy in Orlando the straw that broke the camels back.¬†Let’s take the high road and discourage hateful rhetoric. Let’s react with compassion before anger. Let’s remember to treat others just as we hope to be treated. By paying it forward and giving our neighbors the benefit of the doubt we are taking tiny but deliberate steps toward making love¬†the golden rule. Let’s kill hate with kindness. It wont be easy and can’t be solved with clever hash tags or a cute t-shirt, but still we should try. Trying to find, feel, and reflect love every day regardless of the outcome will test each of us, but it’s worth it. It may seem ridiculous to think that love can stop a bullet, but I think we should try. I think it’s better if we do.

Here at HebrewDawn we want everyone to feel welcome. We want you to be yourself to your fullest expression in this safe cyber space. We want to hear your thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams. We want to be there for you and rely on your support as well. Thank you for being you. We love you and wish you well.

all the words that could be said

I could tell you today that my heart is broken, but I think it goes without saying. I could also prattle on about how we need to put an end to the gun violence, but those words have been said abundantly. In light of yet ANOTHER mass shooting, all the words that could be said are spinning through my head.

Rather than tell you how I feel or reflect on how we all might be feel, can I ask you to do one thing?

Will you pray for and love a community that is struggling?

HebrewDawn: Praying for Orlando

We have far too many family members and friends grieving the loss of those they love in senseless act of hate. We also have many brothers and sisters within the LGBTQ community in Orlando and across the nation that are hurting and scared.

Let’s work together to make loving kindness the norm. I think that’s something we can all get behind.

just have water

HebrewDawn: Just Have Water - 3 week water challenge
Water park, water gun, watermelon, water balloon fight. Water is the ever popular topic of many summertime conversations. Whether we are going to it, getting in it, freezing it, misting it, or otherwise mixing it up, it seems we just can’t get enough. It’s a powerful force that can sustain life or destroy it in a matter of moments.We hear¬†about the importance of keeping it clean¬†and consuming enough constantly; and¬†somehow¬†adequate hydration, for many of the people I know, is the exception and not the rule. I myself think I drink enough, but most times my urine¬†is¬†classic crayola¬†yellow which means I’m dehydrated. Apparently you can leave a girl a water, but you can’t make her drink…(HA! See what ¬†I did there?) At any rate, I find this confusing.¬†I’m grasping at excuses for our widespread dehydration but I can’t find any good ones. I propose we try to fix this;¬†make this hydration thing a¬†“WILL DO” instead of a “probably should.”¬†For¬†the next three weeks, I’m inviting you to join me in a challenge to just have water. At meal times and workouts; any time you drink, I invite you to just have water instead. I think you will be surprised at the results you find and I have a couple of¬†ideas that¬†will¬†motivate you to get more of it down the hatch and into your life.The biggest perk of water is that it’s free! ¬†Not exactly free in a financial sense so much as a nutritional sense, which makes water highly¬†unique. It’s a fluid that is integral to our bodies on¬†a cellular level, but unlike any other food or beverage it contains ZERO calories. We can ¬†have as much water as we like without feeling guilty. Great! Why do we care? We care for two reasons; first, because proper¬†hydration will ensure that our metabolic processes are running at peak performance. One example is that¬†adequate water intake will make sure your body produces the sweat needed to cool you down. (There is a great deal of information available on more specific ways water effects systems and processes inside our bodies but I won’t go into lengthy explanations here.) The other reason we care involves using water as a way to monitor and control calorie intake. We have all felt and generally know the difference between thirst and hunger. Did you know that dehydration can actual manifest as hunger? More often than not a growling empty-stomach¬†¬†can be quelled with just having some water.

HebrewDawn: Just Have Water - 3 week water challenge
It’s easy to think of water as a beverage choice. In my opinion, water is not A beverage, it’s really THE beverage.¬†Any other fluid ingested by humans is likely to contain calories thus making¬†most beverages as we know them more like¬†a food. Milk, juices, sodas, alcohol all contain calories-this is not news. What about beverages that don’t contain any calories you ask? I have an argument against these for one simple reason. Unless it is a naturally calorie-free beverage, it is a processed food item. The calories have either been removed scientifically or the product has been designed scientifically to not have calories but taste like it does. Long story short, diet soda and flavored waters are NOT a great option for hydration. They contain water but they contain a bunch of other stuff ¬†too that varies wildly¬†in origin and could be consumed in higher than desirable amounts if you try to drink enough calorie-free beverages to keep you hydrated. Water, in it’s most basic form, is the go to fluid for hydration because it contains just what you need and nothing else.

I’m not trying¬†to bamboozle you with¬†a too-good-to-be-true cleanse or a fancy water enhancer to make it seem different than what it is. I just want to¬†expand¬†the way you think about water and staying hydrated.¬†Saying one will just have water can suck the fun right out of the room. It’s¬†like someone saying they will just have one M&M, or that we are just looking at those shoes. BORING! It doesn’t have to be that way though. Chances are if you’re reading this, you live in a place where clean water is abundant. Lucky for us, right? No, really it is. There are nearly 80 billion people on this planet that¬†would LOVE to just have some water;¬†80 billion people in our world who¬†don’t have enough clean water or don’t know if they will get enough each day. We owe it to these folks to use our water wisely and to the benefit of our lives. Hopefully we do this while simultaneously supporting research ¬†and fundraising efforts to shrink the number of people in need of clean water, but that’s another topic for another day.

HebrewDawn: Just Have Water - 3 week water challenge
Now that you know a little more about why water is¬†wonderful, join us at HebrewDawn for three weeks of just having water.¬†It couldn’t hurt, right? ¬†Let’s fill our largest cup to the brim¬†from the fountain of youth. Let’s ¬†stay cool, stay fresh, and stay hydrated with good old H2O.¬†¬†Cheers to all and¬†happy drinking!