Category: Community

Treasure Hunting

Adventures & Travel Community Family Inspiration Simplicity

Treasure Hunting

I wrote this a few months ago and forgot about it. My memory lost all these details already, so happy I saved them here. Enjoy and let me know what treasures you find if you go hunting!

 

“Now I know why you said this would be a treasure hunt,” said my five year old son, Brady, as we made our way through the Bryn Athyn Thrift Store on a Thursday afternoon.

We went for pajamas and left with treasures (and one pair of pajama pants for the little man). A win all around. For some reason, Meadow insisted on taking her shoes off multiple times while we were shopping in the big old barn. I’ll never know why. There are feasts for the eyes everywhere you turn. The decor was so fun to look at with old tools hanging on the walls and historic photos of the area and barn nearly everywhere. The kid/toys area was the most fun.

The Barn Thrift Shop
The Barn Thrift Shop

Anyone who knows me, most likely knows that Brady is quite arguably the most dedicated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan. Our neighbor across the street kindly gave Brady some old TMNT action figures that were her son’s when she was cleaning out the basement. These are the best kind of toys! They hold stories and memories and he still plays with them more than a year later.

Whoa!

Recently he expressed that he wanted to complete his “old school classic” turtle collection. I talked about how they don’t make those guys anymore but perhaps we could go on a treasure hunt to different thrift stores and see what we might find. He was intrigued. But I could tell he didn’t really know what I was alluding to.

So today at the thrift shop we found the toy area and there was a full bin of action figures (!). Although we did not find the “old school classic” Leonardo that was first on his list, we did find some more recent happy meal TMNT toys and his face LIT UP! For $.50 each, he got Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael happy meal toys without the meal! It was so exciting!

TMNT Treasure: FOUND

Meadow found two new babies for $1 each and I got a new shirt! Walking through all the dishes and books and replacement coffee pots was so much fun. The craziest thing is that I never even saw or heard of the happy meal toys Brady scored today but when we got home he told me, “You know mommy it’s a funny thing. I thought of those happy meal turtles this morning and was hoping I would get them.”

The Barn Thrift Shop
Outside the thrift shop, how pretty
Grad School Dropout

Community Creating Creative Small Business Identity Inspiration Spiritual Exploration

Grad School Dropout

When I worked in Membership Services for the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, I was surprised by the part of that role that I found to be the most interesting, which was interacting with the small business owners. I think about it and didn’t realize that I was so attracted to their work and their stories because they were small business owners.

The thing about meeting an entrepreneur that is absolutely my favorite is learning the story behind what they are doing. A real and interesting story that someone can share with me. Those conversations are so juicy. When I worked in the Membership Services role, I met with owners and creators of all sorts – restaurants, tour companies, event planners and shop owners. It was the couple that started their unique walking tour, City Food Tours, that made me smile with their passion and excitement when they talked about what they were up to. Or the college kids that started a free Philadelphia walking tour because they just loved it. I remember meeting owners in their welcoming tiny restaurants sitting and asking each of them the story of how it all began. That’s all I was ever interested in…how’d you birth this idea and give it life? What was your motivation? How is it going?

Those are my favorite memories of a career path that is now far in my rear view. I even remember writing my “Tourism” college papers on peoples’ motivation to travel. I always want to know the story.

So as I continue to grow a small business while nurturing a growing family, I think back to all those stories that I’ve collected and learn so much from them. Johnathan Fields likened being an entrepreneur to a spiritual journey and it resonated with me because all that is unnecessary must fall away to create space for what needs to grow in both business and life. They both feel like solo trips, where we find and connect with like-minded people, but ultimately I feel that we are all alone, together.

I used to think I needed a business degree to have a business. I’m a grad school dropout who felt a heck of a lot better about it after listening to this episode of freakonomics radio. There were pieces of grad school that I LOVED and the 1/2 of an MBA (which for the record = no MBA, but still) that I have has served me well because I met one particular professor who blasted a whole area of the universe wide open for me that I didn’t even know existed.

So my story of my little startup is still forming, and evolving and changing every day. Like everyone’s. But basically, I was really, really lost and then I stood still, and then I found this activity that makes me really happy and I turned it into a “thing” with the encouragement and support of some amazing people I get to surround myself with pretty often. Things have been rocky lately and last night I called my mom crying. It’s frustrating when you invest your time and energy in things that are supposed to make you stress less…and you still get stress. And then someone shows you love and you remember, yet again, where the path is. It’s a funny thing how everything comes to be.

 

Just for fun, here is some excellent advice, whether or not you consider yourself a “Young writer.” Warning, these words are amazing.

 

Zen Parenting Radio Conference & Why I Went

Adventures & Travel Community Family Inspiration Motherhood Self-care Simplicity

Zen Parenting Radio Conference & Why I Went

On February 24, 2017, Zen Parenting Radio, a podcast on self-awareness and how it relates to parenting, held their second annual conference just outside Chicago. Last year, I decided to fly half-way across the country and be away from my family for a night to be a part of this amazing event.

Todd & Cathy Adams are the hosts of the weekly podcast as well as the conference. I stumbled across their work when my back spazzed out and I literally could not carry my baby a while back. I called in my best friend, Emily, who happened to be off for a couple of days came and stayed with us to help out. A true friend. During this visit, she explained podcasts to me and told me what they were all about.

Having my back “out” for a week and not being able to care for my kids alone felt horrible, after all, it’s my full-time job. After I was better and life was getting back to normal, I wondered why the heck that happened to me. Stress and shallow breathing are the physical answers I came up with but the behind the scenes reason is what I was looking for.

Fast forward a few months and I was a HUGE fan of Zen Parenting Radio. I never would have found them (or possibly would not have found them til much later) if it weren’t for those unplanned days of chatting and hanging out with Emily.

I consider Todd and Cathy to be incredibly powerful teachers in my life. I learn SO MUCH from their shows and found in a short time that we have much in common. I felt connected to something by being a fan of their show. So much so that I decided to fly from Philadelphia to Chicago to hear them speak.

 

I also traveled to the meeting location of the first La Leche League gathering while I was at the conference. An organization that is dear to my heart started just outside Chicago. I wanted to see where it all began.

 

Some of my notes while at the show can serve as a testament to the feeling and the vibe that they created.

  • Something to practice: If we are going to shift the dynamic in our home, we have to make the change.
  • Dr. Shefali Tsbary was the keynote speaker at the conference last year and her talk was as good as her book, The Conscious Parent. I was not disappointed. Something she made me think about is “Guilt is another form of ego.” Hmmm, that was so interesting. I’m a big guilt partaker. I also learned a lot about energy and how engaging with certain energies grows them and how to redirect your focus to dissipate certain things.
    • Her new book at the time, The Awakened Family, was what she was pitching and I was drawn in by her premise to make an “Internal commitment not to walk the mainstream’s ways of parenting.”
    • She asked us to ask ourselves if we could see our children for who they really are. Not who we want or who others want them to be. Makes me also ask myself, can I do that for myself? For all the people in my life?
  • Jennifer Weigel had me on the edge of my seat in her breakout session where she talked mainly about ituition and developing it. I had NO IDEA that is what the session would be about and I was riveted. I’d felt incredibly grateful to be there by accident because I learned so much and her talk gave me tools to explore our innate intuitive nature. Two tools in particular were energy cleansing and how to become grounded and “turn on your heart light” as she said to diffuse certain energies. I found this particularly helpful for screaming toddlers. Mind blown.

At a time when uninterrupted sleep was a foreign concept and connecting with like-minded people interested in bringing awareness to their parenting felt like a dream – I found this event. Or it found me. Either way, the energy that radiated from the experience was at such a high vibration, so fun and positive. I learned so much about how to be open and to be me and be aware and available so that I can be the best me to be the best parent (I can be). Not saying perfect, that doesn’t exist. Or everything is already perfect. Depends on which lens you’re viewing this whole thing called life through.

I wasn’t there there this time around but enjoyed hearing the updates on their 2017 event. I’m hopeful that I will make my way another one of their gatherings in the future.

Zen Parenting Radio Conference
Conference Sign – LOVE IT!

 

 

*top image photo credit: Pyramid From The Stones ID: 16383273
© Nataliya Lukhanina | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Namas Day

Community Inspiration Self-care Spiritual Exploration Yoga/Mindfulness

Namas Day

The first time I attended Namas Day, it was at West Chester University and Meadow was just 5 months old. I’d never driven to West Chester and Meadow was still nursing every other minute so Sean came along and agreed to hang with the kids so that I could take some yoga workshops. It was a SUNDAY in the FALL (he missed football for this). And that is where the love affair began.

Namas Day took my yoga practice to the next level. Not because I could do handstands (still can’t) or crow (still don’t). But because it shifted everything energetically for me. The sense of connection and unity that radiates from the entire event blows me away each time.

I’m repeatedly amazed by the teachers and their perspectives, I frequently break out in tears at the end of a class because the power of love is overwhelming and I also transformed immensely at one particular workshop the spring after the fall football Sunday at West Chester.

All it takes is one amazing human. One beautiful soul to challenge you to push you to your yogi edge and plant a seed and visually grow into who you know you are meant to be. That happened on my mat alongside a dear friend one warm April afternoon. I’ll never forget the deal I made with myself that day. It has altered my path in ways I could not comprehend prior to the agreement.

So I return for a fifth time this spring. We’ll meet in Philadelphia and bow and bend and laugh and cry. Together and alone. I’ll shop the amazing marketplace and sip kombucha with people that inspire and uplift me. I find myself wishing this event happened more often, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be as special if that were the case. It’s worth the wait.

Book Club! Chasing Slow

Books Community Identity Inspiration Motherhood Simplicity

Book Club! Chasing Slow

Three women, three yogis, three friends – that’s how it started, our book club. We are all so different yet so the same and that is the recipe for great conversation, good fun and the most exciting start to our book club!

The “club” consists of Kate, the hiking/cereal/yoga loving beauty who is my husband’s birthday twin. The similarities between these birthday twins are uncanny, and I love to spot them! Kate is a go-getter and bride-to-be with whom I can (and have) talked for hours on end about everything under the sun and moon and it is one of my favorite activities.

Beth is the brunette beauty who the universe called to be my friend. It wasn’t spooky at all the Halloween that she answered the door to a house my little goblins were trick-or-treating at. It was exciting! Mainly because I’d known Beth from my professional days commuting on the train. We had been friendly from seeing each other daily but when I met her again, it was such a pleasant surprise. Her and her husband came over for dinner soon after and the rest is history. Oh and she’s a celebrity on Ireland. I swear!

We are all at different stages in our life – Kate on the brink of marriage, Beth just coming out of the newlywed season and I am knee deep in motherhood. They keep me young and teach me all the trendy things that I don’t even know exist, although I don’t think I’ve admitted just how out of the loop I am to them. hehe.

Onto the book selection. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner could not have been a better choice. It’s a read about life, identity, insecurities, motherhood and self – topics that are so dear to me and that I think and write about often. I’ve been moved to tears many times throughout the book, because I can relate to her stories and because they are just oh so beautiful.

We talked for 3 glorious hours about our pick, using the “Conversation Starters for Self Discovery, Courage and Truth” that the Chasing Slow team sent us as a thank you to pre-ordering the book! I know, SO COOL! We learned more about each other, and I think even about ourselves, as we thought through our answers and sipped kombucha, wine, beer and snacked on broccoli and cookies. I KNOW!

Erin articulates parts of motherhood that are so universal yet so hard to put words to at times. I can taste the experiences she talks about. I’ve had the same thoughts, visions and realizations. The same struggles of where do the kids end and where do I begin? The same wondering of who am I without a job? The same anxieties. The same journey in search of  so many things to be halted in the middle with tears in my eyes and on my hands wondering where the heck I am going and why.

The same but different. Because this is Erin’s story. Her bravery in telling it so true and raw is so inspirational and refreshing. Her peek into feelings of online life and work are rare. I find it hard to find honesty in the over-staged online world that I love so much and here in these pages, you find it. The most amazing thing to me is that Erin doesn’t throw up her hands and close her online accounts because they are superficial at times or part of the race to perfection. She continues to work and find balance and truth and brings her true self to the game. That is the best part and the hardest part.

How do we show up now that we know the rules? Now that we know you can look perfect in an instagram photo or facebook post…”Look how much fun I’m having!” Now that we know this, how do we balance it with truth in our everyday interactions? For me, I try to post real things – like messes and feelings – along with staged beauty, because sometimes you really do need a filter to make the picture look pretty right? Or do you?

 

 

Frugal Fun With a Little One!

Adventures & Travel Community Family Inspiration Simplicity

Frugal Fun With a Little One!

The possibilities for fun are endless when you’re a stay-at-home-parent. Unless you’re having a bad day, then it feels impossible to plan an adventure (for me, at least). So I keep a list of fun ideas for each season handy for days when we want to go out and about but don’t have much money to spend or for days when we just NEED to get out of the house.

When my oldest was in preschool one morning last week, me and my youngest, Meadow, went over to Be Well Cafe in Bryn Athyn. It’s simply adorable there. They are in a new space, a few doors down from their previous location, and the energy and flow in there are invigorating! I can grab a tea and get a little treat for Meadow for $5 while we sit and enjoy and chat.

be well bakery and cafe
be well bakery and cafe

 

The best thing about the new location is that they have an adorable play space for little ones complete with a wall chalkboard, kitchen, books and action figures. Different toys = happy kids. It gets crowded almost always, but that’s ok. After we had some fun we hopped in the car for a 2 minute drive to the Huntingdon Valley Library where they (obviously) have a beautiful book selection, but OH MY, the toys! Full size wooden kitchen, dollhouse, giant trucks and more. Meadow made me lunch 5 times at the library kitchen and it was delicious. They have all the fun ingredients – wooden jars with removable lids and pretend milk cartons! I sat at the kid table and soaked in the sunshine by the huge window. It made me smile.

The only problem was the not wanting to leave. It was the first time I was late for a preschool pickup! Eeeek.

Huntingdon Valley Library
Huntingdon Valley Library

 

Some of our other local frugal favorites in Montgomery County, PA include:

  • Briar Bush Nature Center – Free for Abington residents, very small fee for others. Live turtles! Snakes! Real bugs! Trails to explore and a bird watching house that is creepy in a fun way (at least to me). Clean bathrooms. They offer affordable camp options and fun looking birthday parties (neither of which we have experienced yet). Of note, I did not find the trails to be stroller friendly, so pack or borrow a baby carrier.
  • Meadowbrook Farm – This tiny little gem is one of my FAVORITE places on earth. I love to just visit and explore the grounds and the garden center. This is FREE, parking is easy and once you park you get a little red plant wagon to pull around for fun! We don’t usually buy plants (more on that later)…well ok it’s later, I need a lot of help keeping plants alive. But we LOVE them! A magical path of wonderful greens and flowers leads you to a crossroad, and you decide your fate. Travel right for the garden center and explore the nooks and crannies of the greenhouse full of hanging terrariums, cute gifts and creative pots and plants OR turn left and explore the historical grounds and see fountains and ferns and statues and lily pads! Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed.
  • Meadowbrook Bird Sanctuary – This is across the street from Meadowbrook Fam. This is a slice of peace. Here you find a small patch of earth full of winding trails and cozy benches. Little birdhouses and a children’s garden. The link is old but the pictures look just like I remember. We usually bring a picnic lunch. The kids love to chase each other with the butterfly nets from the children’s garden.
  • Library Cultural Passes – This simply makes me giddy!!! Many of the libraries in Montgomery County have passes to awesome places (that cost a lot of dollars to get in) for FREE! Yep! We are kinda like library groupies. We are ALWAYS at one of our local branches. Lingering. Jumping around. Occasionally we read there but the kids really like to frolic and we leave with huge stacks of books that we read at home. My mom banned me from the library when I was younger because I’d get a million books and apparently lots of late fines. I still get tons of books today but I’m much more organized about renewing them.

I hope this inspires some frugal fun with your little one! Depending on your interests, these could even be fun for a solo-self-care quiet day alone or a sweet date with someone you love.

xo,

Marjorie

Community Inspiration Motherhood

Other Parents

One of the most surprising things about being a parent is how cool other parents can be. Like when you are at the mall and someone rushes to help you with the door with a smile while saying, “It seems like just yesterday.” Or they’ll say, “I remember when mine were that little, now they have babies!” It’s so sweet really.

One day when I was in Whole Foods, I think I was pregnant with Meadow, and Brady was being your typical two-year-old (adorable and energetic, running away from me while I tried to look like this was my plan all along… so everybody just keep making your salads and stop looking annoyed at my curly haired energy ball). I finally scooped him up as we ordered our 2 slices of pizza.

A guy next to me just looked and smiled and was clearly remembering his son when he shared, “Man those days are the best and they just go so fast.” The twinkle in his eye almost made me tear up. I am now as I write this actually. I always ask about other people’s kids when they mention them, because who doesn’t want to talk about their kids? So I did and he shared that he has two – and his son, the oldest, is about graduate from high school. Clearly an emotional benchmark for him and many parents, I could just see his face light up as he ran through the years with his son and I laughed and said that this is probably a really exciting time for his family right now. He laughed back and joked that it was but his son, being 17, was most interested in his friends and how he missed those days of always having his little buddy. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

I love these stories.

And when I feel like I’m boiling over or embarrassed in Whole Foods, or wherever, and I see that helpful “other parent” or that twinkle in another parent’s eye when they share their memories, Trace Atkins starts playing, “You’re Gonna Miss This,” in the background of my mind. And the words go, “You’re gonna miss this, you’re gonna want this back, you’re gonna wish these days, hadn’t gone by so fast, these are some good times, so take a good look around…” A great song.

I love these days and I know for a fact that I will miss them. As crazy as things are right now with a beautiful 12 week-old daughter and my loving 2.5 year-old son, I still love when I reread previous journal entries where I mentioned that these are the best days of my life. It’s so exciting to be living them but so sad to know that they are always changing and like all things, change is the only constant. I know someday I’ll be the woman sharing the stories about my little buddies and it’s hard to wrap my head around that fact.

With love,
Marjorie

Community Inspiration

Trying to win it

I wonder if I will win a car or the lottery first. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I am working on it and trying to do both. I can’t wait!!! Of course, if I win the lottery, I will do the predictable first (pay off mortgage, school debt and give a chunk to those I love). But then…who knows?!

I like to think about a big party, something fun where I can spoil the guests and they would get neat parting gifts that will make them all happy. Or I might just open a little book shop, where I make all the rules and treat the customers like old friends and we all drink lattes and talk about the passage of time and where does it go and if the Phillies won it again and where we were when major life events happened. I am still just dreaming it all up. What fun!