Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Change Happens

Far too many people feel helpless against the social and political forces of our culture and think that as one person they cannot make a difference. Or at least not without countless hours of volunteer service, letter writing, or marching on Washington.

But change is created every single day, bit by bit, by living our passions. As Gandhi so famously said "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Just living how you want the world to be - making choices you believe in, teaching your kids the values you feel strongly about, and raising awareness around you by being is how change happens.

As a self-confessed coffee addict, I frequent a coffee bar in town almost daily. I'm a "regular" and I look forward to stopping in, not only for a tasty coffee treat but to see familiar faces and to say hello. And as I chit-chat with the owner (who is perpetually there) and the staff, our conversations have evolved beyond the weather and weekend plans, to global warming and holistic living. I explain why I often bring my own cup or tote a reusable bag. We chat about why my kids can't eat the many treats they have lining their counter. And they laugh whenever I take an extra shot in my latte because the kids didn't sleep well or I have a long work day ahead.

One of the staff, a savvy young blond with dreadlocks, is an eco-conscious vegetarian. We talk about recipes, gluten free diets, and even converse about making informed vaccination choices as I wait for my latte. The owner joins in, asks questions, and nods gracefully as we chat. The other day, he expressed his concerns over his teenage daughter's eating habits. We talked for a few minutes about easy ways to eat healthier, offering natural and fresh snack options, and juicing. Today, he proudly told me that she is now working with a holistic nutritionist. Although he was lamenting the cost of all the organic food they purchased to start her new plan, I couldn't help but smile. Be the change. I shared a link about "the dirty dozen" foods and how to pick out the produce that you should try to buy organic and suggested saving on others. I congratulated him and told him to keep me posted on her progress.

I never go into my local coffee bar with the intention of changing the world. I go in for a latte. But I am true to who I am every minute. I am who I am and I don't try to hide it. And, inevitably, these things happen. I get into conversations about holistic living. Sometimes, people shake their heads or shrug it off. But often, change results. Whether it's one person or a whole family, the simple act of getting my daily coffee turns into a spark to ignite change. Going for coffee soon means helping an entire family to eat better to learn about why organic matters. The change may last or it may be fleeting. But the seed is planted and awareness is created. And I realize, as I sip my latte, that it tastes particularly sweet today. It's always a good day for creating change.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Helping Moms in Need

At HMN, we believe that every mom (and dad!) needs support. Parenting is one tough job and it can test you and stretch you in ways you never expected. Having others to lean on, to ask for help or advice, or to commiserate in your parenting challenges is invaluable. If you are making unconventional parenting decisions, as many of us do here at Holistic Moms, the need support grows exponentially. Without it, many parents give up trying to pursue natural, green, or healthier options that they are interested in. Pressure from society, media, friends, and family can be overwhelming. Parenting is often hard enough without having to defend your choices.

Through the generosity of HMN friends, supporters, and members, we are fortunate to be able to provide moms who are also facing financial challenges with a means to get connected and find support. Through our Helping Moms in Need Program, moms who are financially unable to join our community due to hardship (unemployment, illness, disability, for example) can apply for a scholarship membership.

Since the program's inception, HMN has granted 85 Helping Moms in Need Program memberships to parents in 21 states across the country. The recipients of these memberships have experienced amazing support and empowerment through our communities. As one grantee described:

HMN has been truly life a life changing experience for me in that having a connection to like minded moms who offer a plethora of support and kindness. The awareness and knowledge among the members of our group is unmatched. I'm thankful to have the support of the group knowing that I'd be alone with family far away and a husband who works away from home... I don't know what I would do without the social, intellectual, emotional, and supportive connection I have with the HMN moms.” A.

And we'd like to do more! As a finalist in the Sambazon Warrior of Change Contest, we may have an opportunity to support even more moms. The contest winner will receive a grant of $10,000 to help further the mission and purpose of their organization. If the Holistic Moms Network wins, one of the first things we will do is to grant 50 new scholarship memberships to moms in need - and we'll let you nominate the candidates! We know there are lots of moms out there right now dealing with difficult economic challenges. Help us win so we can make a difference! Vote for HMN today, share the contest on Facebook and Twitter, or email your friends to send in their votes. Help make a difference for all of us!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Finding Some Resolve

There's something about the start of a new year that entices us to take up new projects and set goals. More than just New Year's resolutions, the calendar change brings us hope and promise for the year ahead. Unfortunately, we often slip into old routines and get discouraged before we are able to make lasting changes.

What is it most of us want to achieve in 2011? For most of us, we start the year with vows to improve our health whether it be physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Among the most common resolutions are: spending more time with friends and family, losing weight, getting fit, enjoying life more, and learning something new. What undermines our lofty ambitions is often unrealistic goals. Instead, we should "create bite-sized jobs for yourself that you'll be able to accomplish," states Dr. RachBeisel of the University of Maryland Medical Center. "If your goal is too big, you'll feel defeated before you even get started." And, we need to celebrate each little success.

As a holistic parent, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the task of keeping our children healthy in a toxic world. It seems danger is lurking everywhere. But taking on one small change can make a huge difference. Take, for example, switching to reusable shopping bags. Having one set of reusable bags (used regularly) can save up to 20,000 plastic bags from going into circulation. Even choosing paper is not the best option, as estimates show that 80% of paper bags are not actually recycled. A simple act of bringing your own fabric reusable bag each time you shop is a reachable goal that doesn't diminish in positive impact, even if it's left behind now and then. And each time you remember your bag(s), you should celebrate the success of your resolution.

The same is true for personal health goals. Instead of setting perfectionist standards, try replacing one less healthy food item in your pantry with a fresher, organic, or more natural option. Cleaning out your entire pantry in one fell swoop and swearing off all treats on January 1st is not likely to bring success. But moderate, gradual change can be long-lasting.

Another great option for your 2011 goals is to add in positive affirmations to your goals. Practiced daily, these simple affirmations can help you gain confidence and power as you move through each day. Trying to manage debt? How about a simple affirmation such as "I am in control of my finances. Relief is flooding my mind as I know that abundance is manifest within me," suggests Danea Horn. Affirmations, like resolutions, should be brief, simple, and realistic. And stating them in the present tense will bring them power and a sense of present accomplishment.

Finally, share your goals with others. There is both strength and accountability in numbers. Find and connect with others who share your goals or who will cheer you on as you make small strides. Knowing that you have support can be essential in your success!