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Changing Meal Culture for 2019 in our family!

If I could change one thing for 2019 in my families daily routine, it would be the pain around mealtime culture. Six o’clock is one of the most painful times of my day. I am exhausted, my kids are over it and the table sitting in the middle of my kitchen becomes our battlefield.

Mealtime culture brings with it a whole heap of triggers from my childhood. By accident, we stumbled upon something that was genius in our mealtime family peace, and it is simply this.

We bought a roundtable. A gold moment of revelation; when everyone sits equally around the table. 

One of the things that has profoundly changed my 2018, is sitting at our roundtable and surrendering to the pain that I have found waiting there. I find it difficult to relax at the dinner table and enjoy my meals with the intensity of that time of day with the age of our children. I eat as fast as possible to skip over the drama that is sure to unfold, and I retreat to the sink.

How about your family?

Is mealtime peaceful or is it a time of all-out war!

Four Thoughts That Have Helped Me Shift Meal Time Culture In My Family

HIGH POINTS AND LOW POINTS

Conversation and food go hand in hand don’t they?

Yes, when friends sit around with a glass of wine, or a board game in front of us. Full of cheer, beauty and maybe a big ham at Christmas with a pot of mustard on the side.

But what about the times when sleep is in our eyes, as dawn breaks a new day?

I don’t want to speak to anyone or the times when my husband comes home after a twelve hour shift and I have spent the afternoon trying desperately to negotiate between my children. This year we brought a simple question to our roundtable that has helped conversation flow in the tenure of our little team.

The question is this;

What was a high-point from your day today?

Then often on the back of this question comes the divulging of a low point as well. Teaching our children to talk at the dinner table has brought with it a focus and peace in our family each afternoon. It has also become a simple communication tool between a husband and wife, who are desperately trying to juggle all there responsibilities in a career balancing act.

EATING FROM NATIONS OF THE WORLD

Mealtimes often brings with it, emotions around dislikes, outbursts of frustration and fear. Recent studies show that the culture of a families dinner table directly impacts teenage obesity and dietary habits. It is a problematic part of family life, especially with young children and different dietary needs — the difficulty surrounding families with budgets, nutrition and understanding the complexity of the changing nature of information around healthy eating.

We have started to introduce countries of the world in the way we eat as a family. With music, different tastes and kinds of foods and distracted our children with facts and stories from these different and diverse cultures.

We want our children to explore the global diversity that is found across mealtime cultures. Finding ways to introduce new tastes and experiences though can be really tough. It brings interest outside of the food on the table and helps them find simple pleasures in trying something new.

SITTING AT THE TABLE

The last thing I feel like doing often is sitting at the table and facing the people who see me at my best and worst. I am definitely not that bright and sparky morning person. It takes me a few coffees or hours to find my words and thoughts clearly.

I have been really trying to change the culture that I knew of sitting in front of the television to eat, or eating takeaway in the car. Finding ways to sit at the table, to breathe, to talk and find rhythm has been a huge shift in culture this year in our meal time routine.

How often do you sit at your table and eat mindfully?

THE WORD DIET HAS BEEN BANNED IN OUR HOUSE

The word diet has been banned in our house. I was put on my first diet when I was about eight years of age and pretty much every year since I have embarked on some kind of eating restriction program. The problem is it works sometimes, but mostly it has become an up and down regime of cycles of food addiction and complexity that has never helped. I don’t want my daughter to grow up thinking that food is her enemy or her comfort. The language we have chosen for our house is that food is fuel. That is it. Food is not a reward. Food is not a punishment. Food is not comfort. It is fuel. Therefore food is not good or bad, it is just an every day food or a sometimes food. Removing the emotion and shame based dialogues around this part of our everyday life. I know friends and family who start a new diet every Monday and then come back to a place again of failure and reinforcing the shame based patterns.

The word diet has been banned in our house because we want our children to grow up with a healthy sense of how to live a life that honours the body they have been given.

How do you react to the word diet?

Take the time to talk about the culture of mealtimes in your family. I have created a family vision book tool this year, that you can download and start conversations like this with your family and partner.

DOWNLOAD TODAY

TOGETHER; NEW YEAR VISION DAYBOOK

Are there some simple ways that you can make a small change next year?

This simple tool will help you define and articulate the culture in your family home.

Amanda Viviers

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blue; when the ocean brings its balm.

“The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.” 
Christopher Paolini

I swam from the turquoise shallows into the navy deep. Hoping that each stroke would wash away the discomfort that had become my friend. Somedays don’t need words to describe the myriad of emotion; some days need the multifaceted reflection of the sea.

The sandy beaches I grew up on, escaping school to build sandcastles and dune bunkers have become the balm of healing that my adult heart required.

There is a small black notebook that sits on my bedside. It has been my companion now for near on twenty years. The elastic that used to sit firmly around its cover now hangs loosely from time. A small biro pen drawing denotes a time longer than my body can remember when I drew a simple sketch of the sea and a scribbled note alongside.

“The healing balm of the sea.”

The ocean has not always been a place of healing, since I sat on its shores watching one of my best friends surfboards floating out to sea, saying goodbye to him after his funeral. There are also hidden parts of the beaches that hold secrets and memories; I no longer want to remember.

The sea however in the midst of its memories, has taught me a few lessons that have deeply brought the rhythm of healing into my today.

Yesterday’s tide is just like yesterday’s paper

Yesterday’s paper found on the bottom of pot plants and what is so present and hurtful today can easily be washed away by the tide of a new day. The ocean has taught me in the midst of its endless story, that tides come and go. Despite the pain of what happened in the past, finding a rhythm of letting go and beginning again, is an essential healing place in the arms of the ocean.

Everything you need to survive is in its depths.

We often go out searching for another answer, another formula or someone to rescue our healing. However, as I come close to a decade of living back by the ocean, I realise everything you need found in the depths. Your depth, your story and your capacity is as deep and wide as the ocean that covers the earth. Wide and wavering, everything you need to survive is deep within your soul.

Somedays we need to drop everything and tell no-one and stare off into the ocean

Just like an endless novel, the ocean and its breadth is a secret place of knowing that holds all our conversations deep within its fold. In a culture that is constantly telling us to shout out our worth to the multitudes, the ocean calls us to a place of comfort nestled within the quiet. Summer, Winter, Autumn and Spring, all bring different hues and possibility. Somedays we need to run away. Run away to the sea and not tell anyone. Ever. Sit within its chasm. Swim within its endless simplicity and recover.

The story that I began today’s prose with was about the day I swum from the shallows into the dark. I was contemplating the complexity of losing my dear friend way too soon. As I swam so deep that the land was starting to fade, in the midst of unfathomable beauty, a small bright orange monarch butterfly came and sat on my salty nose. I tread water completely perplexed by this baffling contrast within nature and was unsure what to do with its meaning.

I decided not to choose comfort. I decided not to overthink its meaning. I settled on the simplicity of this…

That no matter how far away we try to run. No matter the distance of loneliness and confusion that awakens us at night. We are never too far from the shore, for butterflies to come and land on our nose.

Once again on that obscure summer’s afternoon, I remembered the whisper from the decade before. Pause and reflect on this…

“The healing balm of the sea.”

With the perfect combination of making us feel so very small, wild and blue — all in one glance.

Take me away to the sea. With a sandwich, starfish and maybe a coffee tucked in the side. And let’s tell no-one ever.

(not even Instagram)

Happy sea days, wayfarers.

May the insight you are seeking, find you waiting on the shores of the sea.

Amanda

Written as a part of the Create: Summer Challenge. Sign up prompts found here.

Week One: Ocean.

Blue, Endless, Starfish, Depth, Story, Summer, Pause.

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Detox from technology: create again

It was a Tuesday morning when I was sitting in peak hour traffic on the freeway. I looked over to the train platform which opened up onto the traffic jam and I was shocked. I looked at a platform full of nearly a hundred people and every person had their heads in their phones except one.

One lonely soul. One woman looking up. Something in me shifted that morning, as I sipped my coffee awaiting the traffic to move again. I decided I needed to make a change in my life around my use of technology. To be completely frank I am a high phone user. Let’s be honest, I battle with my addiction over and over.

I have seasons where I am able to keep it at bay, but then I get stuck again and find myself scrolling aimlessly. The crazy thing is, I am often looking for inspiration.The greatest season of balance I have found in my online life, is when I am focusing myself on producing, rather than consuming.

I listened this year in a profound workshop by Diana Henderson from Life as Art Photography, she talked about the power of limiting our consuming; scrolling, stalking, comparing, contrasting, reading blogs and surfing the web. Replacing it with producing; blogging, Camera Photography, making, creating and community.

A light bulb went on in my mind. Learning again to take my own advice and limiting my screen time to increase productivity and in turn my mental health.

I straight away limited my screen time with fabulous apps. I bought back my social media sabbath and taking on month a year off social media annually. I have been challenging myself in the way I consume online but I hadn’t created momentum around my producing,

Each year I mentor many creatives and I tell them all the time;

“Create a scaffold for your writing, making and creativity”. Write yourself themes and then book yourself a period of time and then find accountability. This is the key to creative projects and productivity.

Then I realised I wasn’t listening to my own advice. My friend Tammy said to me, I want to pull out my camera this Summer, lets put together a challenge.  So I decided each season in 2019 I am going to publish a magazine, to help you and I find our creative mojo again!

Our writing, photography and making prompts are designed to give scaffolding to our writing and social media content.

Here is how the “create” challenge works.

Create: Summer Challenge Prompts Here

  • Download the magazine from here, with 12 weeks worth of prompts to give you one post per week.
  • Once a week, post your creative pursuit on social media with the hashtag #writemakecreate
  • The prompts include a word, colour or image for each week of Summer. So rather than getting lost in a daily challenge, just focus on detoxing from technology and creating one thing each week.

The community here online will support and encourage you!

I can’t wait to see what you create! Let’s inspire one another.

Come and read my blogs publishing each Monday here and let’s get creative together. I truly do believe somebody needs your story!

 

 

Create: Summer Challenge Prompts Here

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Thanksgiving questions; a ritual of thanks

Are you looking for a new ritual this Thanksgiving?

I have a book with printable exercises to help you find gratitude this year. Pause; Vision Daybook

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

The process of letting go and starting again can be summed up in one word, which is change. I love the new but I am so bad at change. I want fresh days, new landscapes and greener pastures but I often I hold on too long.

I easily lose sight of the bigger picture of my life in the midst of laundry, lunches and dusty window sills. The everyday ordinary things can make me feel bland and unseen.

When I move the focus back to a long-range view, I start to see a picture forming for my life that can be lost in the chaos of my daily life.

Greg Reid explains the process of change so well.

“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action becomes reality.”

This time of the year can be lonely for those who find themselves by themselves in the holidays. Rather than Netflix binging or finding yourself misplaced, what if you sat and journaled to find perspective.

Questions like;

What has been a positive experience this year?
What challenged me?
Who have I gotten to know better?
Where have I grown?
What am I especially thankful for?
What is a low point from the last season?
What quote, scripture or word describes the last season?

And opportunities to write affirmations for the coming year…

This year I hope to…
This year I give myself permission to…
This year I will grow in…
This year I dream of…
This year I let go of…
This year it is possible to…
This year I will pioneer…
This year I can…
This year I will…
This year I am excited about…

Sit around the table whether with some friends or by yourself and start to write to find perspective and clarity this Thanksgiving.

The exercises are available to download here: Pause; New Year Vision Daybook

Thank you for coming to find some perspective.

Amanda Viviers

Amanda Viviers can often be found with a pen in her hand, food spilt down her blouse and a fresh story in her heart. She is an Author, Public Speaker and Radio Presenter. 

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Small changes in our family that have changed everything

Have you ever thought “surely things need to change?”

As a family, we have been intentionally shifting the atmosphere in our house. Little steps, small decisions to let go of our days and embrace the moments as the season shifts again. Winter to Spring, three-year-old to four-year-old.  Sleep deprived Mum of toddlers to chief negotiator of children who talk a lot!

My husband recently emailed me this poem he found and we have been actively applying it to the letter. Laying our phones down, switching them off and throwing out anything in our house that doesn’t bring joy.

Movie nights and embracing our big feelings. Running off to the pool instead of doing homework. Giving away things that make us feel cluttered. Taking them out after they had already been in bed for fifteen minutes to catch pokemon on our windy foreshore.

I have a tendency to lean towards the serious. If you meet me in person, I am much better at a one on one conversation than a quick shallow networking moment. I am extroverted on stage, but quite introverted by nature in my everyday.

My children draw all the words I have stored up in my memory bank of imagination. My work is words and then I find myself swirling at 5 pm because I am in desperate need of letting go of all the feelings I have accidentally packed into my emotional backpack.

Laying it all down.

Doing all the hard things.

Focusing on the present rather than disappearing into my future through story and imagination.

Children are miraculous, but they are deep sea divers in your patience and history.

Let’s remember this and sit on the floor and bang pots with them. One day soon I’ll be waving them off to university. But for today, I will embrace the little things that bring them great delight and remember that releasing control is often one of the greatest achievements we will ever attain.

Love

Amanda