Have You Ever Screamed in a Bookshop?

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Bookstores are great for escaping the “busyness” of daily routines and rebooting our minds. Both my kids and I love them - we roam with no purpose, no cell phone, no time constraint. But they are reverential places, almost like a library or a cathedral, so not a lot of screaming usually goes on.

Last week, my son Finnegan asked if Delphine and I were up for stopping by Diesel, a favorite independent bookstore. I started in the Cooking section, as always. The moment I breathe in all the beautiful cookbook covers I feel refreshed and detached from my long To Do list. 

Next, I felt the desire to explore Interior Design for decorating books about vintage flea market finds - one of my creative passions. One title, Modern Farmhouse Style, was in the middle of the shelves, its cover facing forward.  I thought, “Boy, do I love that vintage table. Cool concrete modern fireplace… wait a minute…that table, where have I seen it before? Did I sell it to a customer years ago at my vintage home store Maison Rêve?”

After a few blinks, I see it (yes, get ready, here comes the Mommy scream). "OMG! Finnegan, Delphine come quick! It's our living room on the cover!" Soon the three of us are sitting by Diesel's cozy fireplace having fun finding all the pictures and tips from our home in the book. "Look! There's my art hanging from clothespins" spotted Delphine. "That’s us at our dining table" grinned Finnegan.

Country Home magazine published Modern Farmhouse Style.  I have created many stories for them over the years, offering decorating and lifestyle tips to infuse a simpler, French-inspired Maison Rêve way of living into our fast-paced, modern world. I just didn’t know they had put them all in one book and we'd be on the cover!
  
So here's my point. Sometimes when we put our phones away, slow down and refresh our minds, life can bring us wonderful little surprises. We do it in bookstores. What’s your go-to?

Oh, here’s another idea. If you want to do more of what you are passionate about, and less busyness, a secret is to use soulful, vintage finds as your inspiration pieces at home. Here are my 5 easy steps. Trust me, they work.

There are lots of ideas in Modern Farmhouse Style from me and other Vintage designers (the book has over 250 decorating photos and tips). I hope you enjoy it.

So take a moment this week to slow down and refresh your mind. You never know what might make you scream!

Noodle It!

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While dropping the kids off at school the other morning, I got to chatting with another mom about how everyone feels so busy lately, us included. But it wasn't like we were overloaded with ONE BIG project, it was a lot of little things that added up to an avalanche.

On the drive home, I couldn't help wonder, "Are we saying YES to a zillion little commitments too fast, leaving us exhausted? But how can we stop it since each one of them seems easy enough and worthy of our time?"

Out of nowhere a picture of a noodle popped in my head. I know, sounds bizarre, but read on.... 

When I cook spaghetti with the kids, for fun I take a noodle out of the boiling water and one of us gets the honor of throwing it up against the fridge to see if it sticks. If it does, spaghetti is cooked. It's an old wives' tale (not really how you check for al dente pasta), but it always gets us laughing. 

What if we use the same noodle technique to all those little commitments?

Start by picking a set day each week to cook spaghetti (gluten free or regular works fine). My noodle day is now Sunday.

While the water is boiling, jot down all the little things you are considering adding to your list next week. Things like driving on a field trip, baking cupcakes for entire soccer team, having a dinner party, power washing the house....All the things you could do BUT if you didn't the sky wouldn't fall.

You have to write fast because when the spaghetti's almost done, time to noodle.

Grab your tongs and remove one noodle out of the pot. Pull your arm high in a confident overhand baseball throwing position. While releasing, say out loud what it is you are considering doing (this is a key step, not to be missed). For example, "Do I want to power wash the house next weekend?" Then aim at fridge and let your noodle fly! 

If the noodle sticks, DO IT. If it falls to floor, DON'T.  

Sounds crazy. But here's why it works.

First, in our fast paced culture, it gets us to stop committing on the spot. Now you have to noodle it. 

Second, it helps us see clearly what we really want to do. While the noodle is airborne, tap into how you're feeling. If your noodle falls and you start frantically grabbing more from the pot to get one to stick, happily add the new task to your To Do list.

But if you yourself fall to your knees, praying to the Noodle Gods (btw, there are none), for your noodle not to stick to your fridge, you can let go of any guilt and not add that new commitment to your list. Maybe another week, but not this week. Life is too short to be overwhelmed by a zillion little things.

I'm telling you noodling works! Plus, it's childlike and a whole lot of fun.

If this YMoment was fun to read, share this page with anyone who might enjoy throwing a noodle!

Yasmine's 5 Minute Dinner Party Ritual

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Have you ever woken up Thanksgiving morning looking forward to a blissful day filled with great food, family and football, only to end up so stressed out you want to throw the turkey out the kitchen window (or at some random loved one)?

Don't be hard on yourself, it happens.

Here's a little trick to avoiding this stress. Don't invite Perfection to the party. 

Even if you don't see yourself as a perfectionist (hard to do when you actually are one ;-), you probably still hold an idealistic imagine of how Thanksgiving should be. From kids lovingly playing board games to the entire family toasting world peace. We all have an image in our minds of the perfect day.

But then unexpected change knocks at the door. The guests are late. The turkey burns on top. Nothing is hot by the time people sit down to eat. The kids keep running around the table asking when dessert is coming. The list goes on.

Instead, toss your idealistic Thanksgiving image out the window. Replace it with this ritual.

Carve out 5 minutes that morning you can spend alone. During this time, do something you naturally love doing while picturing simple things you are grateful for.

For example, I love setting an inspiring table. So while the family is watching football waiting for the guests to arrive, I arrange flowers in vintage vases while thinking about the little things I'm grateful for. 

Like the leaves changing colors outside. The sound of children laughing. The clinking of wine glasses when toasts are made. The twinkling holiday lights I'll soon get to see around town.....

I keep the ritual to 5 minutes so it's simple and pleasurable (and to be honest, doable before one of my kids yells, "Mommy!").

Spending this happy time alone fuels me with the energy I'll need later when things start falling apart. As stress bubbles up, I simply picture my ritual and feel grounded and peaceful again.

Give it a try. It may save your beautiful turkey from taking flight! 

If this YMoment made you smile, like it below and share this page with others.

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Skip Away Stress

Life in America these days often feels chaotic. Simply listening to the news can send our stress soaring. 

One of the best ways I've found to process chaos is experiencing the complete opposite: something so simple and child like it immediately replaces rising stress with happy energy.

Like...skipping!

OK, hear me out. Did you ever skip as a kid? Floating up and down, swinging your arms side to side. Just thinking about it can make us smile. You have to wonder why we stopped skipping as adults.

Imagine our entire country skipping instead of staring at smart phones or watching the news so much. People skipping to the coffee shop. Skipping to their cars. Skipping around the office. Skipping to pick up the kids at school.

Well chaotic times require drastic cultural change. Time to skip. 

Start by setting an achievable goal, like "skip ONE block, one time this week." I've found it enough to knock out a few days worth of stress.

If you decide to skip when your kids are with you, have fun with it! Don't tell them your plan, just break out into a skip. They might laugh and join in! Or they might be so worried you have finally lost it that they tell you to stop embarrassing them completely.

But keep swinging those arms people. Secretly, they will be smiling inside. They may even remember this happy moment the rest of their lives.

If other adults on the street see you skipping, keep your smile on and chin up. I like to look for any autumn leaves changing colors to keep my focus. Then take this opportunity to start a revolution in America! Yell out to remind onlookers that skipping is currently free to everyone in our great country and something we can all do together. Maybe they will skip right then and there.

WARNING: If you are about to delete this email because that voice in your head is saying, "This is crazy thinking, I have no time to skip! Does she not know what is on my To Do list?"

I get it. My list is down to my ankles. But let's at least try it in the privacy of our homes. Skip from one room to the next. I bet you will come back to all those important tasks with renewed energy and creativity. 

If this YMoment made you happy, please share it with friends. Let's shift the energy in our country, one skip at a time.

Skip to my Lou, my darlin'

Yasmine

Dance in the Street

 Photo by Dora Lovey

Photo by Dora Lovey

Inspiration for this YMoment came while watching a French movie.

The leading man, a Parisian with a bold desire to live in the moment, sits at a café sipping a glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He is listening to his American friend, a beautiful woman, talk about all the things in her busy life that make her feel needed now that her daughter has left for university. But he senses a yearning under her surface to feel more alive.

Finally, in his deep French accent, he poses a question that stunned both that character in the movie, and me:

"What makes you dance in the street, my dear?"

For the rest of the movie, as the views of the French countryside roll by, my mind could not stop wondering, "What makes me want to dance in the street?" Was I just like that lady, staying super busy when what I really wanted was to dance more? How would I know if I didn't ask the question?

Knowing what makes us dance actually makes us better people, better parents, better colleagues. So let's pause to ask the question. Then go about our week and see what bubbles up.

What would make you want to dance in the street? Maybe it's something you loved when you were a child, or a passion you discovered later in life but haven't done in a while. It could be something new you've always been curious about trying. But there it sits on your bucket list waiting patiently for the day you notice it again.  

When I asked myself the question this picture appeared. Simple, I know, but also a little intimidating. Could I do it, could I try something completely new like learning to play an instrument? Let me tell you, if I can do that, then you can do anything my friend! I hope my guitar story inspires you to ask,

What makes ME dance in the street?

If this YMoment resonated with you, like it below and share what makes you dance! Sometimes simply sharing it becomes the spark that brings it to life.

Cross the Bridge

 Photo by Jake Melara

Photo by Jake Melara

This is the month graduates around the country walk toward the next chapter in their lives.

From toddlers in nursery schools holding their first little diplomas to our youth in universities proudly wearing caps and gowns, every child has a moment at graduation where they fill our world with more hope.

Each school has their unique ceremony and rituals. At my children's elementary school, all the parents spread picnic blankets on the campus's rolling lawn facing one thing: a portable 10 foot bridge our Head of School brings out for the Crossing of the Bridge ceremony.  

Class by class, each teacher calls up their students. Inspiring words and songs are shared, then their teacher asks them to cross the bridge, symbolizing the passage to the next grade.  

I like to put my blanket close to the bridge. If you open your heart wide enough, you can feel the powerful force that radiates from each student on that bridge.

I think it's so moving because each child is not alone on the bridge. It's like they have this invisible cape on their backs that carries all the love they got and get from parents, caregivers, teachers, neighbors, grandparents, shop owners, coaches, siblings and so many more. This cape becomes a force that illuminates the children and propels them toward hope.  

So if you helped even one child this year - from your own children to a child you don't even know, say, cross a street safely - you are on someone's cape.  

Especially if you are a Mom. Think about all those times you packed a snack, washed a soccer jersey, read your child's favorite book over and over (then heard "again again Mommy!"), put on a bandage, drove a minivan with crazy kids, gave a hug and wiped a tear, sent a care package to college....or simply looked a child in the eyes when they walked in the room so they could see your eyes light up. The list is endless.  

It's important we honor being on the cape. Maybe when you travel over a bridge this month, smile knowing you did good. If you are hiking and come across a bridge, walk slowly to refill yourself with the hope radiated back from all the students.

The children need us as a community to be the force behind their backs. No one in this world can do it alone. It takes a force to cross a bridge. Today more than ever.

Thank you for being on someone's cape.

Is there someone you know that is on a few capes? Send them the link to this YMoment to say thanks! You can also share your good wishes in our comments section below.

Reward the Special

 Photo by Larisa Birta

Photo by Larisa Birta

"Every time I see you pumping gas you're smiling! Why is that?" asks the elderly gentleman coming out from behind the register at the gas station down the street from where I live. "Why do you smile so much?"

The answer is obvious. "It's the music!" I look up toward the dreamy classical music pumping from the speakers, and take a deep breath to appreciate the roses scattered in pots around the station.

A warm grin forms on his face. "Thank you. Thank you for noticing."

I quickly learn he's the owner and has turned down all the traditional paid advertising music to create a special experience. "Why shouldn't pumping gas be pleasurable?" he says. "Or have beauty? My wife gets so much joy planting these roses for customers." Seems logical to me.

I can tell he's of Middle Eastern descent so I mention my father is from Pakistan. We connect right away, chatting about the world. When the clicking sound tells me that my tank is full, I refocus to see my two children through the car window with puzzled gazes, obviously wondering how their mother has turned from a stressed mama to a happy human again.

Finally we say goodbye, "Thank you for enjoying the music with me."  he remarks. When I get back into my mini cooper, my daughter asks who that was. "A very nice man doing something special."  

Filling my tank is now my classical music retreat. If he's there, he comes out to chat, often offering me lollipops to give the kids (yes, I now have two backseat drivers reminding me when my tank is low). I plan to ask if he'll be adding a charging station soon so when I trade in my car for an electric vehicle I can still come by to get my car battery - and my personal one - recharged.

The point is this. We have the power to reward what we want in this world. Our time, money and compassion is how we do it. We can give it to things that align with our values or those that don't.

Reward the special when you see it. And always, yes always, enjoy the music.

So how do you reward the special in your life? Read this and you'll see. It all starts with your values...

Hold a Hand

 Photo by Elizabeth Tsung

Photo by Elizabeth Tsung

We humans are so fortunate. We can walk and hold hands! 

Such a simple thing. But look around. You may notice fewer and fewer people holding hands. It's like we've traded human hands for smart phones. Yet this one act can lower stress and bring joy to all the cells in our body. 

I recommend starting with your spouse or partner. If you haven't held hands in a while - all of us busy parents know too well that hands are often needed for dishes, laundry, catching baseballs - the thought alone might feel awkward.

Let humor help. Try telling your spouse, "OK I have a HUGE life changing question I need to ask you?"  With their attention peaked, ask "Do you mind if I hold your hand?"  I have a feeling you might get a smile and a hand.

Another option is the plunge technique. Take a deep breath, smile, and visualize yourself being courageous and powerful. Then grab their hand. This one experience might put marriage therapists out of business.

You can also grab a child's hand to get going. Be ready though, kids like swinging hands. Practice it with a child, then apply the swinging technique with your spouse. You will exude so much happy, romantic energy, couples who see you may also start holding hands on the spot (similar to what happens when you see someone yawn). Congrats! You have now started a hand holding revolution.

If you don't have any hands to hold in your immediate circle, no worries my friend. Do you shake hands with people at work? If so, put your second hand on top and hold for 1 extra second. I love doing this as the energy between both people shifts. It pulls us into the present moment where we notice one another with eye contact, turning the transaction of shaking a hand into a meaningful exchange.

Or offer your hand to an elderly person. Especially good if you want to release lots of stress in one go and ignite your compassion.

Join me in holding a few hands this week!
 
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Spring Clean Your Mind

 Photo by Filip Mroz

Photo by Filip Mroz

Living in our modern, high-tech world often leaves our minds feeling cluttered and overwhelmed. Good news, spring is here! Just like the benefits of spring cleaning our homes, we need to first spring clean our minds.

I call this process finding "white space". To me, white space is magical and I can't live without it. It's when all the information cluttering my mind is filed away and I'm able to see life clearly again. Creative ideas come easy, decisions are faster and I live more compassionately. 

I have three tips to finding white space.

First, leave ALL electronics behind (this includes listening to music). Second, go outdoors. This season is calling us outside - birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, sun-rays glistening on water. It's like being part of a natural symphony of light and joy, perfect for white spacing. And lastly, do it alone. While taking a long walk chatting with a girlfriend is great, it's the time spent with ourselves in nature that allows us to hear our own voice again and see creative ideas clearly.

So if you live by the water, maybe get up early one morning and kayak. Take an early evening hike while the sun sets. Surf some waves. Bike into work. Daydream in a meadow. It doesn't have to be a huge commitment, one hour is enough time to fall peacefully into white space.

Refreshing your mind will leave you happy, creative and productive - ready to take on your week. 

I talk more about white spacing your home and life here if you are interested in learning more. Also, please share any comments with others below. I love reading your ideas!  

You Are Enough

 Photo by Roberto Nickson

Photo by Roberto Nickson

Do you believe it?  

If you want to know for sure, try telling yourself, "I am enough. I have enough."  Now listen to what happens in your mind.

Do you start to hear "Yeah, I'm enough, but I still need to get through all those emails/save for retirement/declutter the pantry... then, I'll feel good and can enjoy life more"?

If so, then you might be believing a myth.

You see, we are all born believing we are good enough. It's inside every baby and a thread that connects us as human beings. But at some point something else kicks in - maybe our consumerism culture - and tries to convince us that being good enough is not inside us, it's actually out there in the external world. Our job is to go get it. But hurry, because there isn't enough for everyone. Go, go, go!

This current flows through messaging everywhere. It often motivates us at a very young age to keep achieving, keep producing, keep wanting more, keep searching. Endless. Exhausting. Never enough.

It's a myth, and it's time to challenge it head on. 

No matter what our external life circumstances are -- whether we are poor or rich financially speaking -- all of us are good enough.

Start from that knowing - picture that "good enough" feeling inside of you. I am a visual learner, so I picture it as a powerful white light inside me. I tell my kids they have a white light inside them. That it's not "out there". Its inside and no person or life experience can turn it off.  Eject the "You are not enough" tape running on continual loop in our minds. Insert the "I am enough, I have enough" tape.

For example, when you wake up, rather than say, "I'm so tired. If I only had a few more hours of sleep I'd feel good." say "I have enough." You can always try to go to bed early another day, but this morning, you have enough. The old tape makes you feel more tired. The new one makes you feel lighter, more energetic.

Then if you want to change or strive for something in your life, go for it! It's a good thing. But you will enjoy the journey because you are motivated from a healthy place.  A place where you know you are good enough, that you matter. And your inside light will glow.

We all want to create a more compassionate world. To make it happen, we must question cultural myths and shed light on truth. I believed this myth for decades. It sent me climbing up mountains, always searching. Here's my story. Feel free to tell yours or share any comments here.

If you think this YMoment will help others debunk the myth, please share it with link below!
 

Yasmine