Dark December: Family Rituals

“Whatever you believe,

whatever you do not,

there are sacred rites

you must perform

in dark December.”


These are the first lines from the poem, “In Dark December,” by Ralph Murre. What are your rites? Your family traditions and rituals? How can we slow the swift passage of this month without being lost in the whirl of shopping and event planning?

Ralph Murre suggests that you “pull together family and friends, cool cats and stray dogs alike. Turn off everything except colored lights, the roaster, the toaster, the stove.

When you turn off everything, what does that mean? Alternatives to television, video games and those pesky iPhones could be board games, reading aloud (short stories are great!), family art night or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. How can you be occupied together?

“Reach so far

in your sharing

that you hold the sun

in one hand,

the stars in the other,

and no one between is hungry.”

How can you “reach so far in your sharing?” Bake cookies for your neighbors or make a batch of holiday cards. There are lots of local opportunities for volunteering your time. Check out https://www.volunteermatch.org/ to be of use for the day or on a weekly or monthly basis.

We will make it through December together. Thank you for being part of Girl Group and for allowing us to be part of your life.

Fondly,
Wesley and Tanya

Where do we go?

Where do we go?

Hi Friends,

Moving forward. How do we do it?

No matter which side you were on, this election has left us battered and breathless.

We offer the following strategies for you and your family and encourage you to be gentle with yourselves and others.

Think – Give yourself a moment to step outside the noise of the twenty-four-hour news cycle. Ponder what this election has meant to you and to the people in your life. Widen your thoughts outward, through your community, neighborhood, city, state, country. Try, if you can to put yourself in the shoes of another.

Talk – Reach out. Share your thoughts in a respectful and open manner. Don’t forget that an important part of talking is also listening.

Write – Let the paper absorb your reaction to the election. Begin at the beginning with your expectations and describe the way the events unfolded in your life. What did you believe would happen? How did you experience the events physically and emotionally? Write about your choices, what you’ve learned, any discoveries you’ve made. Let it all out. Don’t censor. Don’t worry about whether it’s “good” writing. You are writing only for yourself.

Do – Offer your services to others. There are many volunteer opportunities all around the city. Check out www.laworks.comwww.volunteermatch.org and www.allforgood.org for ideas.

Be – You don’t need to engage in a formal meditation or mindfulness practice to spend a few minutes or more each day just being in your body. Take a walk around your neighborhood and really notice the changing of the leaves on a tree, listen to a favorite piece of music or read a poem. Perhaps try eating a meal in silence, focusing on the taste and texture of your food.

As always, we thank you for all that you bring to Girl Group. We wish you a peaceful week.

Tanya and Wesley

Sweet Treat from Girl Group Enterprises

Sweet Treat from Girl Group Enterprises

Hi Friends,

Halloween is creeping up on cat paws and once the Jack O’ Lantern has been lit, the rest of the year is a rollercoaster ride through pumpkin pie, chocolate coins, chocolate covered peppermint cookies, chocolate and more chocolate. All that sugar can contribute to a cycle of energy ups and downs and ramp up irritability and exhaustion.

How can you and yours make it through the blizzard of sugar without losing your heads?

First learn to HALT
Anxiety, frustration and reactivity are magnified by certain emotions and physical states. Ask yourself (or your child) the following questions:

Are you HUNGRY?
Are you ANGRY?
Are you LONELY?
Are you TIRED?

Once you’ve identified one of these states, ask yourself or your child: what can I do right now to help. The answer might be grab a snack, call a friend or take a nap.

We at Girl Group like to say, “if you’re going to build a sugar house, make sure you give it a protein foundation.” To that end, we’ve come up with a list of some of our favorite protein snacks. Encourage your kids (and yourself) to grab one of these before reaching into that bowl of candy corn and keep the monster at bay.

Half a whole grain bagel with cream cheese
Cubes of Manchego topped with crisp red grapes
A cup of Edamame
Slices of low-salt turkey rolled around leaves of lettuce and slices of tomato
Boiled Eggs
Hummus and carrot or celery sticks
Turkey and cream cheese on wheat bread

Think of these strategies as TRICKS and TREATS.

Got a favorite protein snack? What sweet treat do you crave? Let us know!

We are in this together,
Tanya and Wesley

Tools for slowing down

Tools for slowing down

Last Friday, in Girl Group, we talked about dark and light feelings and how human it is to be a mix of both. We made beeswax candles to add to the “Calming Containers” and we brainstormed ways we might use the candles to create a personal circle of light. The ideas were so great, we thought we’d share them with you.
 

  1. Light a candle to mark the beginning of something. Meditate, draw, write, take a bath or sit quietly and stare out the window.
  2. Turn a weeknight dinner into a fancy dinner and dine by candlelight. How does the candle affect the meal? Does the conversation change? Do you eat more slowly?
  3. Burn a candle to erase a stinky smell. (Or to change the scent in your home.) What scents do you prefer? Why? What memory is connected to these scents?
  4. Celebrate with candles. Birthdays, holidays, special occasion dinners. Think about how we celebrate and why? What does thinking about past celebrations do for your sense of well-being?
  5. Light a candle to remember or honor someone. What did the or do they add to your life? How are you like this person? How did or do they continue to inspire you?
  6. Watch the candle melt. Enjoy the dripping wax.
  7. Use a candle to save energy.
  8. Light a candle for hope.


We are in this together,
Tanya and Wesley

Prepare for Something Awesome: Girl Groups Guide to Autumn

Prepare for Something Awesome: Girl Groups Guide to Autumn

Have you noticed the chilly little nip in the evening air? Yes, it’s still Southern California, so the days are toasty hot, but the light is changing, the shadows have lengthened and even without noticing the PUMPKIN EXPLOSION at Trader Joe’s it would be clear that Autumn is on its way.  
 
October often feels like the tippy top of the roller coaster – we’ve crested the big hill and now it’s non-stop until the New Year.
 
Let’s all take a deep breath. (Actually, let’s take two deep breaths… Okay, keep breathing and let us know when you’re ready to continue.)
 
We are spending a lot of time in our Groups talking about CALMING. October is a good time to remember how to find the eye of the storm – that brief moment of piece before you whirl into costumes and turkeys and latkes and tinsel… take a moment and breathe.
 

Three Minute Eye of the Storm Strategies

1. Listen to one song from beginning to end. (If you can be flat on the floor, so much the better.) Try “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits, “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin or pretty much anything off Willie Nelson’s “Stardust” album.

2. Get outside. Up early? Take three minutes to notice the color of the sky. Up late? Count the stars. Listen to the crickets, the coyotes, the neighbor’s radio. Give yourself a few minutes to be in your world no matter where you are.

3. Brew a cup of tea. Really notice what happens when you pour the boiling water over the tea. Inhale the scent. Let the tea steep. Wrap your fingers around the cup. Feel the warmth of the steam. 

4. Be mindful of one experience in your day. Take yourself off auto pilot and be present for every second of brushing your teeth or washing your face. Chop vegetables for soup or wash lettuce for salad and try to see these activities as a break from the rest of your day. 

5. Wear something you love. Take three minutes to iron a favorite blouse or shirt. Think about why you love it. What makes this outfit the most comfortable? The most beautiful? What are you projecting to the world?

6. Romance yourself. Light a candle. Buy a bouquet of flowers. 

7. Hit the snooze button. Go to bed earlier than usual or give yourself permission to spend a few extra minutes between the sheets. 

8. Cat videos, anyone? Or baby hedgehogs? Hamsters eating tiny burritos? Spend three minutes watching something beautiful, hilarious, heartbreaking or mind expanding. 
 

With love & support,
Tanya and Wesley

More Girl Group Secrets: Family Meeting

More Girl Group Secrets: Family Meeting

Hi Friends! 

Have you had an opportunity to sit still? I mean sit still without social media, without anything but sitting. We want to talk about what we have learned from Girl Group and how to apply it to your family, giving you a weekly opportunity to sit as a family to connect, talk and plan.

How to have a family meeting.
 
Family conflict getting you down? It is often difficult to resolve issues in the heat of the moment. Instead, schedule a family meeting. A family meeting promotes discussion, empathy and problem solving.
1. Gather around the table.
2. Create an agenda. Ask each family member to introduce a topic they would like to discuss. Make sure everyone understands their right to call a family meeting at any time.
3. Brainstorm on solutions to current issues.
4. Actively listen to your children’s suggestions. Practice saying yes, being flexible much like in Boy and Girl Group.
5. Take notes and discuss the pros and cons of each suggestion no matter how outlandish.
6. As a group, come up with strategies to resolve conflicts or issues.
7. Add a fun family event to the calendar.
8. Meet once a week to assess problem solving and make changes in strategies.
Possible topics for a family meeting: Screen Time Rules, Sibling Relations, Chores, Pet Adoption, Vacation Plans, Allowance…

 

With love & support,
Tanya and Wesley