Three Easy Tricks to Maintaining a Loving and Positive State of Being

To consistently express the nurturing and attentive love that Attachment Parenting is all about is no easy task when you’re out of your mind sleep-deprived, weary of toddler tantrums and stretched to your capacity to care for your family, your house, your work, and maybe — if you’re lucky — yourself. I’ve teetered on burn-out quite a bit over the last several months and was delighted recently to learn some quick tricks for shifting out of my “this is too hard” mindset and into total gratitude for my life and my ability to create something new and magical for myself and my family every day.

Sadie Joy 2Knowing how well these tricks can work for me during grumpy moments (when I remember to access them), I’m inspired to guide my 3 year-old in giving them a try when she gets emotionally stuck too. I can remind her of how she felt in this picture when her arms were outstretched in pure, unfettered bliss and encourage her to replay this physical state or others that she likes to access the joyful emotions that accompanied them.

As a leader of tropical yoga retreats in Hawaii and Mexico, I’ve researched numerous resorts and retreat centers to find the locations most suitable for the clientele I want to draw. Retreat centers range from the rustic to the luxurious, from mountain to beach settings, and from remote to city center. Below are some considerations for what to look for in your search for the ideal yoga retreat. Click here if you want to find out more about yoga resort and adventure.

Do you want to retreat into yourself or have a social outdoor adventure? Some centers have several groups intermingling at meals, at the pool, dance parties, or are centrally located in a town with street noise, music, etc. Others have space for only one group, or are in remote locations with no cars in sight. Many are in between. I’ve found that even if there are plenty of extra activities offered, one can always choose to abstain, stay quiet, take naps, receive bodywork, etc, as long as the setting is tranquil.

Courtesy of Helen Attridge of Inner Wisdom Coaching, here are three amazing mood shifting strategies.

1) Change your physiology.  When you’re angry at life, how does it feel in your body?  What do your shoulders do?  How do you breathe?  What happens to your forehead, your mouth, your jaw….?  Now think about your physical state when you’re feeling your favorite emotion.  My favorite emotional state is a combination of inspired and secure.  When I feel this way, I feel energetic, powerful, open, and tapped into Life.  My chest is open versus hunched, my face is bright and content versus scrunched or clenched and my breathing comes easy.

To find the emotional state that matches the physical state, start with the latter.  Stretch.  Walk outside.  Dance.  Practice Yoga. Check out this great article from Fit Yoga Magazine posted in Yoga in Tribeca on how to impact the way you think and feel and create through direct manipulation of the body.

2) Check in on your focus and your beliefs in that moment. Last week I received a rejection letter from a company I was really excited about working for and my mind really struggled to stay positive. The thoughts and questions that clouded my head, together with other self-deprecating slams were, “Why is this not happening? and “It’s going to take forever.” Feeling and expressing disappointment is healthy and natural of course. Keeping my mental focus there and maintaining the ridiculous belief that anything takes “forever” would energetically block opportunities, connections and any number of other wonderful things that cross my path.

3) Change the question.  If you hear any version of “What’s wrong with me?” or  “Why can’t I figure this out?” in your head, get conscious of it, recognize that no valuable answer comes from a negatively oriented question, and try asking a different set of questions like:

  • “What’s next?”
  • “How can we have fun?”
  • “What am I grateful for right now?”
  • “What am I willing to do to create a new reality?”
  • “How can we make this an amazing adventure?”
  • “What is perfect about this moment?”
  • “What am I learning?”

The transformation from Grumperella back to Sweet Loving AP Mama is great!

What tricks do you have for maintaining your ability to provide consistent and loving care when you’re feeling tired or grouchy?   I’d love to hear them.

Monica Cravotta lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two daughters, ages 3 and 1.  She blogs at

Brain, Child’s Pep Talk for Moms Returning to Work

coverBrain ChildFor obvious reasons, I don’t intend to share all the details about my process of going back to work on API Speaks. I have wrestled with the choice to work or not work since my first baby was born over three years ago. I always knew that I wanted to be home with my babies; and I always knew that I found personal fulfillment in work and would like to continue in some capacity. I opted for consulting part-time from home with the intention of eventually going back to work full-time when the timing felt right.  A solid dose of economic pressure combined with a bit of SAHM burn-out has helped me determine the time is now.

Yes, I’m nervous about the time lost with my girls while they are little, about finding childcare I can trust and making sure my girls remain securely attached.  And I choose to believe we will find loving care and that I can nurture our bonds with continued nursing and co-sleeping and my loving attention when I’m home.

After I’m hired, I’d like to share a post with tips on how to put your best foot forward to successfully make the transition from proud Stay At Home Mom to shining employee in the job of your choice.

While I’m still somewhere in between those two realities at the moment, I am generally excited when something crosses my path that I think will guide me through this significant life change. I saw the latest issue of Brain, Child — a magazine I like for its thought-provoking content and delightfully cerebral reflections on motherhood — and the headline, “Mama Wants a Brand-New Job” popped out at me like a neon sign.

“Sweet,” I thought. “Maybe they’ve got some great pointers in here for me,” so I immediately tossed it into the grocery cart for future reading.

I didn’t really pay attention to the sub-heading until I got home and was able to read it eight hours later when all was finally quiet on the Cravotta front. “Opting in during a recession,” it read.

A little depressing, but I was still hopeful for the “How to Opt In” pep talk. Continue reading “Brain, Child’s Pep Talk for Moms Returning to Work”

Guiding Children to Associate the Holiday Season with Giving

Leave it to Wikipedia to present a great page on the origin of Santa including early Christian and pagan origins and his evolution in America, along with old and new thomas-nast-and-clement-clark-moores-1881-depiction-of-santarituals, criticism, etc.  According to, “It is said that [St. Nicholas] gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.”

Somehow, in recent history at least, it seems like children have come to associate Christmas solely with receiving a ton of presents. They may also love the magic of holiday lights and music and perhaps even gain an appreciation for spiritual traditions related to their family’s religious faith.  But so often in our culture, it seems like the focus remains on Santa Claus and gifts.

Honestly, I’m still undecided how the heck to explain Santa because I don’t like the idea of lying to my children about anything. But I also don’t want to be the hum-bug Scrooge Mama of our neighborhood either.  My sense is that there’s a solid split of opinions within the AP community about whether to embrace the fantasy or not.  I am leaning toward fully celebrating the spirit of Santa Claus with my daughters, explaining his history and encouraging the fun of pretending to have him visit the house on Christmas eve.  When we see a man in a Santa costume around town, we’ll have another opportunity to gleefully observe someone else “playing Santa.”

While I work out the big Santa introduction, the one thing I am very clear on is wanting my girls to experience Christmas as a very special time of year with family and friends in which we give to others that have needs greater than ours.

The recession has impacted so many families, including ours. We are eliminating many of our holiday traditions this year simply because we can’t pay for it.  But I choose not to focus my energy on lamenting that and instead want to focus on doing what we can to help others who face greater hardships, and embrace the original spirit of St. Nicholas who gave somuch to the poor and sick.

I put together a list of holiday giving opportunities in Austin where I live which may inspire you to discover similar organizations in your town.  There are many, many opportunities to sponsor a child or a family for the Holidays.  We did so last year and were able to deliver presents to the family ourselves, which I think is particularly valuable for children to fully experience the act of giving.

My short discovery list of giving opportunities includes:

  1. Capital Area Food Bank
  2. Safe Place – sponsor families and/or children with holiday gifts.
  3. Coats for Kids – providing new or gently used coats to low-income children.
  4. Children’s Shelter
  5. Life Works
  6. Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA)
  7. Blue & Brown Santa – toy drives
  8. Salvation Army
  9. Christmas Bureau of Austin – This is my personal favorite simply because this organization gave us the opportunity to reach out to people directly to provide an uncooked holiday meal and toys/clothes for the children.

There are currently over 1800 families requesting holiday sponsorship through the Christmas Bureau in Austin!

This is Monica’s first post on API Speaks.  She also writes about attachment parenting on her web site, Attachment Mama.