20 Steps Towards Finding Calm Within Self & Family

20 Steps Towards Finding Calm Within Self & Family

Have you taken a moment to be with yourself today? Life seems to move pretty quickly these days. Many parents share with me that they are constantly overwhelmed between texts, emails, school functions, extracurricular activities, and trying to have a personal life! As parents and caregivers, you are navigating many tasks and many roles. (Your kids and teens are too!) Through it all, you likely have a strong desire to be calm parents. Furthermore, you want to be grounded and feel a sense of stability and ease within your family.

I invite you to Stop. Breathe. Feel.

How is this landing with you? You might consider the number of transitions you’ve endured today. What are the various roles you’ve filled today?

Notice the quality of these considerations.

Calming practices connect us to our breath, our body, and the moment, are crucial.

The Power of Calming Exercises

Courtney Harris

Thu, May 2, 10:47 AM (22 hours ago)
to Aditi
Have you taken a moment to be with yourself today? Life seems to move pretty quickly these days. Many parents share with me that they are constantly overwhelmed between texts, emails, school functions, extracurriculars, and trying to have a personal life! As parents and caregivers, you are navigating many tasks and many roles. (Your kids and teens are too!) Through it all, you likely have a strong desire to be calm parents. Furthermore, you want to be grounded and feel a sense of stability and ease within your family.
Energy is transferable. That said, think of the last time a family conflict occurred.
Stop. Breathe. Feel. What sensations or words or images are bubbling up?
Science helps us understand that Once one family member escalates, it’s likely that everyone else in the room will escalate. Likewise, if one family member can stay grounded, it’s more likely that everyone else in the room will stay calm too.
I invite you to become familiar with your body’s unique signs in various states, including calm and activated. As you model this awareness and talk about it, you will support your kids and family in growing their emotional awareness as well.
Again, life is busy and there’s so much that’s outside of our control. This said, you have the power and responsibility to care for yourself in ways that help you feel calm and grounded. If you are experiencing any of the following sensations, you have an opportunity to practice grounding self-care:
  • Lack of focus
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Anxiety or worry
Calming exercises can be used preventatively, especially as we become more familiar with our body’s signs and signals of stress or disease. Yes, they can help when things are beginning to escalate or when we feel overwhelmed; AND, the practices themselves can aid in preventing escalation to begin with. These practices are for both consistent and emergency self-care.

Exercises for Self-Care as a Parent

20 Steps Towards Finding Calm Within Self & Family

  1. Stand barefooted on the Earth. Grass, dirt, and riverbeds are great, and if only rocks or asphalt are available, this works too!
  2. Hula hoop OR do the movement of hula hooping, keeping your feet rooted to the Earth and circling your hips in a way that feels soothing or stretchy.
  3. Do a set of lunges and squats. Work until your leg muscles feel awake, alert, and heavy.
  4. Take a slow, mindful walk. Notice each step.
  5. Lay down on the ground. Rather than a bed or a couch, try laying on the firm ground. Bonus: lay down outside on the Earth!
  6. Hold rocks, stones, or crystals in your hands. Alternatively, lay down and place the stones on your body in places that feel supportive for you. (I like to put stones on my thighs, belly, chest, and forehead.)
  7. Stomp your feet while reciting a mantra or affirmation. For example, “I am steady and strong.” (Bonus: Do this barefooted and outside!)
  8. Hug a tree. Really. Feel how strong and sturdy they are.
  9. Wherever you are, notice your feet. Pay attention to how they feel and what surfaces they are touching and how they are supporting you.
  10. Spend time gardening or doing yard work.
  11. Lay down with extra blankets on your torso. Weighted blankets can be one of the many useful tools for helpful for better sleep.
  12. Sit or picnic in a park or garden or forest. Let yourself be surrounded by nature.
  13. Notice your breath. No need to alter or change it, just follow up.
  14. Eat a meal that includes root vegetables
  15. Take a sensory journey. Notice what you are seeing, feeling, touching, hearing, and tasting. Take time to inventory and/or engage with your surroundings.
  16. Practice self-massage or Abhyanga or schedule a massage with a therapist.
  17. Try a rooting or grounding meditation on YouTube.
  18. Open windows (or at least blinds and curtains) so that you can see and connect with the elements outside. Natural light can be grounding and energizing.
  19. Get a pedicure or give yourself one. Give attention and love to the roots of your body!
  20. Use sandbags to lay across your body as you rest, meditate, or relax.


How to Use These As a Family


Some families I work with integrate select practices into their weekly routines. Other families use this list as a menu that can be consulted at family meetings, during downtime, or even in the beginning stages of a miscommunication or challenging moment.

In fact, the more familiar you and your family become with calming practices, the more likely you will all be to access them as self-care maintenance. At first, these might be a bit more reactionary. You might find yourself using them when you are already overwhelmed or frazzled and anxious. I encourage you to stay patient, though, because as the word practice implies, you will become more comfortable over time and will create easier access to the strategies that soothe, calm,  and steady you.

As you dig into these practices, you may also find yourself (and your child)  noticing what best supports you. Together, you and your family can build individual support system maps to document the people, places, and things that bring you the most comfort and calm.

This article was first published https://courtneyharriscoaching.com/2018/12/04/20-ways-to-be-a-calm-grounded-parent/

How To Honor Your Sensitivity As A Powerful Gift

How To Honor Your Sensitivity As A Powerful Gift

When you look at wildflowers, what do you see?

I see a gift from the Earth… a gift that is both delicate and strong, sensitive and resilient. Wildflowers blossom with paper-thin petals, yet withstand many violent wind or rain storms. They allow bees in to work their magic and admirers to pick them.

At once, wildflowers are delicate, sensitive, and strong.

This imagery and description of the wildflower came to me through a challenging, yet provocative experience I had in January 2017. It was relayed to me that my former supervisor had called me “delicate, sensitive, and weak… in mind and body.”

Luckily, I had the opportunity to facilitate an inquiry with the bearer of the news, a child. We sat next to a stream, amongst wildflowers and bugs and the rest of Mother Nature. I asked, “Can someone be both sensitive and strong?” They responded, and I listened.  

The child, 8 years old at the time, explored what these adjectives “sensitive” and “strong” mean. I witnessed.

I was curious too because honestly, I felt angry at the fact that I was being labeled weak, and I knew in a very deep way that this was untrue. After the child considered people they knew and experiences they had, they concluded, “Yes, a person can be both sensitive and strong.”

The world exists upon paradoxical truths.

Upon further reflection, I started to realize how powerful delicacy and sensitivity are. I moved through my anger,  displeasure at being called weak, and started to see the truth.

Without delicacy, a doctor might make an error in surgery, an artist might destroy a masterpiece with one stroke, a cat might get injured in the jump from the top of the fence to the grass, a chef might over-spice their signature dish, a gardener might pluck the unripe vegetables, and a pilot might not land a plane safely.

Without sensitivity, a parent wouldn’t know when to feed their child, an author wouldn’t transmit sensory images that make readers laugh or cry, a runner wouldn’t see holes in the trail ahead, a teacher wouldn’t notice and adjust to shifts in students’ attention spans, a store clerk wouldn’t recognize a customer in search of an item, and a DJ wouldn’t gauge and respond to the energy of the dance floor.

Of course, each of these people may ALSO have elements of harshness and unresponsiveness, clumsiness or thick-skinnedness, and so on. Yet, it is their sensitivity and delicacy in their craft that enables them to “succeed.”

Seeing Delicacy and Sensitivity as Gifts.

Truly, delicacy and sensitivity are gifts! In a world and a time in which people, like this former boss of mine, strive for power and status, in a time when people feel threatened by the joy and success of people who don’t look like them, and in a society that values productivity and data, we need the softness of these gifts.

Delicacy and sensitivity are simply traits, and these traits influence the way that I process the world, my work, and my relationships. And these gifts give me the strength to keep loving.

If you, too, are a highly sensitive person or have a child or teen who is, I offer you the image and strength of the wildflower.

If it feels helpful and healing, I invite you to consider the following reflection questions. You can also share this process with your family!

  1. How do I connect with the image of a wildflower?
  2. What does sensitivity mean to me?
  3. What types of sensitivity am I gifted with?
  4. Do I carry any beliefs about my sensitivity being an undesirable quality? Where did these come from?
  5. How has my sensitivity helped me serve others?
  6. How has my sensitivity helped me know myself more deeply?
  7. Where and when do I tend to feel most sensitive?
  8. How do I prefer to show or express my sensitivity?
  9. What other gifts does my delicacy and/or sensitivity inspire?
  10. How has my sensitivity become my super power?

Honoring Your Sensitivity

Photo of the author by http://leandrablei.com/

As you begin this work, you may find yourself and your family ready to reframe old beliefs about sensitivity! Hooray! Let’s love on our sensitivity. This guide will help you and your family members name a develop a system system that honors your gifts.

Remember, it takes time and lots of self-compassion to grow. Be patient with yourself and your family through this interesting process. Like the wildflowers, you will keep blooming, and you will be supported by a community of wildflowers and a gorgeous, loving ecosystem.

20 Ways to Inspire Kids by Showing Up as an Everyday Activist

20 Ways to Inspire Kids by Showing Up as an Everyday Activist

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is Activism?

What comes to mind when you hear the term activist? Who or what are you picturing?
In conversations with friends, family members, and clients, I’ve noticed that many folks think that activism is only for people who are doing justice work full time. They associate the term activist with people who are leading protests or lobbying at the state Capitol building every day.
However, I’d like to remind you that every decision you make holds political weight. The personal is political.
That said, activism is work that all of us can engage in.
We all have the tools to stand up for our values and beliefs each and every day. The tools are completely free and are already at your fingertips. No degree or training or materials are necessary.
This is my working definition of activism: Using my resources, including my voice, physical presence, money, energy, and time, to honor and support people, institutions, and policies that align with my values and highest vision for our world.
For example, some of the ways I practice activism on a regular basis include recycling, donating to local organizations that I am inspired by, and taking my own reusable bags to the grocery store.
So, I will ask you to again consider: What comes to mind when you hear the term activist? Who or what are you picturing?
Is there anything different from your first thoughts, feelings, or beliefs? How so?

10 Ways to Show Up as an Everyday Activist

In developing a broad and inclusive definition of activism, one that invites each one of us into mindful living, I have come up with a list of 20 ways to practice everyday activism with your family.
I invite you to print and browse the list below and notice which items you are already doing; circle those numbers. Place a star next to the items that make you feel excited, motivated, intrigued, or curious. Additionally, notice which items you feel most resistant towards; put a dot next to these.
1. Spend time in your community. Get out and about in your neighborhood and city. Just being with diverse groups in the community will support your awareness and growth, and you’ll make meaningful connections.
2. Commit to one small act a day/week that connects to your passions, interests, and values. For example, if you are concerned about environmental issues, you can work on the community garden in your neighborhood. If you are interested in narrowing the class divide, serve at a shelter or food bank.
3. Vote. At every election. Did you know that school boards make a ton of decisions that impact your city at large? Yes, every election and every position matters.
4. Volunteer. Find local organizations to support through your time and energy.
5. Read and research about the topics and issues you are called to AND the ones that feel at the edge of your comfort zone. Read more; explore a range of sources and mediums. Know that you don’t always have to have an answer because questions and curiosity are powerful. Most importantly, stay open to learning more, not only about the “issues” on the table but about yourself as well.
6. Find creative outlets for your processing and expression. As you read and research and talk, things can get heavy and emotional. Having outlets for these feelings is important. I, personally, turn to writing most often. Art and music are other wonderful ways to express the depths of your experience.
7. Share your own stories and experiences as it feels right. When you have a story or experience that speaks to your values and positions, include that in your conversations as you are comfortable and as it feels relevant. Remember that you can engage in conversations virtually and in real life (IRL).
8. Talk with friends and family about the issues you are curious about. Sweeping politics under the rug just doesn’t work, and, furthermore, it’s a symptom of privilege. The call to action here is to be authentic in naming your values and concerns and engaging your loved ones on these topics.
9. Support products, services, and companies that DO align with your values. Spend your money supporting people and institutions that you agree with. Local is always a great place to start if this feels obscure or overwhelming.
10. Boycott products, services, and companies whose values DON’T align with yours.  Simply don’t buy from companies that don’t align with your values. Look into big brands, whether they make food, cleaning products, cosmetics, or clothing, and learn about how ethical (or not) they are.
11. Write letters, send faxes, or call local and federal politicians. Follow the legislation that is being proposed in your state and at the federal level. When you find a law that you align with, write or call in your support. Likewise, when you find a law that you see as harmful, write or call in your dissent. Find out who represents you here!
12. Use online petitions and bots to send letters and opinions. Show support for issues you care about by signing on to (or starting!) petitions; explore change.org to get started signing today. You can also easily write letters to your politicians through bots like resist.bot.
13. Share and retweet content on social media. The internet has allowed us to share issues and solutions in a matter of seconds. Hashtags have helped people gather both virtually and IRL, and one way that you can show support for movements, news, and leaders is by sharing or retweeting. #BlackLivesMatter helped us realize the power of the internet in creating a movement and inspiring professional and “everyday” activists to gather together.
14. Journal. Explore your own biases and gaps in knowledge and experience. When you have questions and curiosities, go to the page. Ask yourself to think through the questions. Maybe, like me, you’ll end up with more questions, and this, too, is growth.
15. Incorporate donation into regular events you host or attend. Ask friends to bring canned food or feminine hygiene products to events. Then, donate the collection to local organizations. Typically, most people will have these items on hand already so this is a great way to engage your community in activism.
16. Host or participate in book clubs or conversation groups that are focused on current events and issues. You can find established book clubs via MeetUp.com or branch out on your own to gather a group of folks who are interested in reading and being curious together. I have facilitated a feminist book club and a Decentering Whiteness community in Austin, Texas, for example.
17. Find mentors and guides. Lots of them. Notice which leaders you are feeling called to. Which ones challenge you and offer you opportunities for growth? Again, explore different mediums— podcasts, books, Instagram influencers, and so on.
18. Enroll in trainings to learn more about issues you care about and/or to hone your activism skills. Seek out trainings (again, online or IRL) to support you in your journey. Check with your employer to see if they are willing to sponsor your learning opportunities!
19. Financially support activists, educators, politicians who are working for change. Give money to folks on the front lines, people who are dedicating their lives to this work. You can do this through organizations, Patreon, or Venmo, for example. Many activists are sharing their Venmo accounts and taking compensation in this way.
20. Practice self-care. In order to show up fully for this work, you’ll need to be refueled and recharged. Maintain practices that allow you to rest and relax!

Practicing Activism as a Family

Activism is not adult work, it’s human work. Each item on this list is available to the children and teens in your life. Making activism a part of everyday family life will support tremendous growth, from self-awareness to connection with others to participation in community. This is what Connected Hearts is all about.
As you begin this work, you may find yourself and your family ready to engage in meaningful, yet difficult, conversations. This guide will support your family as you engage in these tough chats.
Here’s to living with open hearts and minds as we work together as human activists! See you out there!
How to Try Something New in 2019

How to Try Something New in 2019

Looking at Your Patterns

I have been thinking a lot recently about the ways new routines and exploration inspire growth. See, as an INFJ, I am a creature of habit. For example, I eat the same meal for breakfast each morning (and have for a few years); I love getting to bed early (even if I’m the first one to leave a gathering); I like attending the same workout classes and going to the same grocery stores; I default to alone or quiet time versus loud, crowded, or highly-stimulating environments.

When my days consist only of these habits, I am comfortable, in a sense, but, as it turns out, I am also a bit lonely, bored, and uninspired.

This realization about my own tendencies has helped me prioritize learning new things! I have come to appreciate opportunities to try and experiment with new skills and hobbies. It is through doing new things that I become more myself. This article is an invitation for you to get curious about how trying something new can impact you and your family this year and beyond.

Learn Something New This Year

Here at the beginning of 2019, we each have an opportunity to pause and consider what we want our year ahead to be like. You might enjoy setting intentions– personally and/or as a family, and you can find my guide for this process here.

If words or phrases like play, fun, exploration, adventure, growth, change, curiosity are part of your hopes and dreams for the new year, I encourage you to consider trying something new! When it comes to learning a new skill or doing something you have never tried before, the benefits are plentiful.

When you try something new, you can…

  • Surprise yourself! Perhaps you pick up a new skill or hobby very quickly or maybe you discover a new passion. How cool it is to feel surprised by your own gifts, talents, and interests!
  • Connect with new friends and community members. New interests mean the potential for a new community! Friendships often begin through shared interests. Thus, when you step up to learning a new skill, you also give yourself an opportunity to meet new people.
  • Know yourself in a new, deeper way. The process of trying something new will help you learn more about your needs, preferences, challenges, and so on. If you go into the experience ready and willing to notice what comes up for you, it’s certain that you will learn something important about yourself.
  • Build confidence. Tackling a new skill will support you in feeling accomplished. Simply naming a goal and taking steps towards it can boost your confidence. Even perceived “failures” or mistakes can help you feel proud of yourself.
  • Increase resilience. Trying new things asks you to stretch yourself beyond what’s comfortable. When you meet challenges and face healthy struggle, you grow resilience! This will undoubtedly carry over into other parts of your life!
  • Expand your sense of self and the world. As you begin a new project or learning experience, you may find your perspective of yourself, your community, or the world expanding. This process might also bring you a sense of connection to others, your community, and the world.
  • Release an old habit or routine that isn’t serving you. As you take on new learning experiences, you may discover that some of your patterns are ready to be retired. When you dedicate yourself to a new interest, prepare to notice what you are ready to let go of, change, or alter.

Try Something New This Year

What comes to mind as you consider this phrase, “Try something new this year!”

What thoughts, feelings, and beliefs arise?

If you are facing self-doubt as you read this phrase, I invite you to notice it with compassion. Self-doubt and fear can try to swoop in as a protector; these sensations might be trying to keep you from changing because change is uncomfortable! When protectors show up, you might find a sense of calm though loving kindness practices; take the time to remind yourself (and your protectors) that growing, changing, and expanding are important aspects of your experience.

If specific ideas or visions come to mind as your read this phrase, I invite you to give them space. Write these words or images down; doodle or draw them out. Maybe you’d even like to describe these ideas aloud– to yourself or a loved one. Your sense of excitement and joy in seeing yourself take on a new interest is valid and important.

No matter what thoughts, feeling, and beliefs you are facing, you are worthy of trying something new! You deserve to experience new learning opportunities, and you are capable of challenging yourself to expand and grow. Plus, you’ll give yourself to experience the benefits listed above (and then some).

Now, how will you decide what trying something new will mean to you this year?! To help you take the first step, I created a list of 10 of my favorite ways to try something new. This list is meant to be a starting point. Please edit, add to, and curate a list that is meaningful to you and your family.

    1. Take a class or course. Study anything you’re interested in from languages, to business skills, to gardening, and so on. You can enroll for in-person classes or explore a wide range of online offerings.
    2. Find a mentor. Find leaders who you feel inspired by. No matter what goals you have, support is crucial. A teacher or a coach you see regularly can be a mentor. Likewise, a writer or influencer whose work you follow can be a mentor.
    3. Read something new. Read a new genre, set a goal for how many books you’d like to read per month/year, or commit to a new series, the Sunday newspaper, or a magazine.
    4. Create something! Express yourself creatively in a new way. Mediums to consider include painting, drawing, speech-writing, photography, writing, and knitting. How else do you like to create?!
    5. Participate in your community. Show up for your neighborhood, city, and the world. For example, you can volunteer, participate on committees, block walk for campaigns, or attend school board meetings.
    6. Find a new way to move your body. Do something that feels new and supportive to your body. Maybe you try a new dance or exercise class or morning walks.
    7. Connect with nature. Explore new ways of being in and with the natural world. Try camping, hiking, or picnicking in new spaces. How else can you bring nature into your life? Or your life into nature?
    8. Travel. Visit places near or far that you have never been. Take a day trip, a road trip, or a long-distance flight to see something you’ve never seen before. 
    9. Eat new foods. Dine at new restaurants, explore new recipes, or study cuisines you are less familiar with. Enjoy new flavors and notice the ways different foods nourish you.  
    10. Make new connections. Whatever you decide to try in 2019, know that you will have the opportunity to connect with many new people. Enjoy the process of learning about others (and yourself in the process).

I wish you all a happy reNEWing, and wonderful year ahead. This article is meant to support you, as a parent of caregiver, in growing and learning in the coming months. The bonus: each idea and tool can be shared with your children and teens. You and your family can take on new challenges together in 2019! If you are looking for support– or coaching is a new opportunity you’d like to try– I invite you to connect on a complimentary Discovery Call.

How To Practice Loving-Kindess in Parenting

How To Practice Loving-Kindess in Parenting

We could spend our lifetimes exploring the power and practice of love. It’s a feeling, a verb, an experience, a goal, a theme, and so much more.

Let’s Talk about Love

As you read this, I invite you to look around and notice. Perhaps you are glancing at a photo of a loved one you’ve lost, seeing the smiling faces of children on the playground, or hearing your partner snoring the night away. Each of these experiences is an opportunity to be in love. Some opportunities come with ease and grace.

Other situations, like being cut off on the drive home, walking into your teenager’s trashed room, or reading unkind comments left on your recent blog post, are also opportunities to be in love. Some opportunities are uncomfortable, easier to resist, and often require more effort to unravel.

To me, being in love means, actively loving, intentionally choosing to receive love, and believing in the power and process of love. This is a choice that I can make in any situation, no matter how easy or challenging I perceive the opportunity to be.

Notice what ideas come to your mind. What does being in love mean to you?

Today we will explore a practice and a mindset for stepping into love as a family.



It All Starts with Ourselves

The spectrum of feelings the scenes above elicit is the same spectrum of sensations we carry towards ourselves. Pause. You may want to reread that.

Notice the thoughts, feelings, and beleifs that arise as you consider this idea.

Next, I invite you to sit in quiet reflection for a few moments. Catalog all of the loving, kind, generous thoughts you’ve given YOU today. You may choose to do this with pen and paper or simply in your mind, as a meditation.

Next, consider all of the yuckier, muckier, critical, undesirable thoughts you’ve thought about yourself today. Do you best not to add a second layer of judgment on top of these thoughts, finding yourself disappointed in the tendency towards negative self-talk. You are human, and this is a process. The goal here is to establish awareness.

We can get in touch with love on a very deep level when we view our inner chatter as yet another powerful opportunity to love. When we meet each sensation, each thought with acceptance and compassion (to the best of our ability), we can fall more deeply in love with ourselves and with this human experience.

The Path to Being in Love

Loving-kindness meditations have been instrumental in helping me meet the range of human experiences with an open heart. Loving-kindness practices are affirmative phrases that intend and invoke love, happiness, safety, and ease for oneself and for others.

This practice can be done in seated meditation or used as we find ourselves melting into our keyboards at work, stuck in traffic, or zoning out at the kids’ soccer games. First, begin with yourself. Begin by saying or thinking phrases like “May I be peaceful,” “May I be filled with happiness and joy,” and “May I be free from harm and suffering.” As you speak or think these affirmations, it can be helpful to focus on your breath. Stay here, with yourself, as long as you need.

After you send yourself love, and depending on your capacity and energy in the moment, you can begin to extend this love outwards. Next, you may send loving kindness to friends, family, and loved ones. The phrases can be the same or similar to the ones you used in blessing yourself with love.

Next, you can extend love to those in your communities and neighborhoods, country, continent, and the world. This includes people you love with ease, as well as people or groups you feel more neutral towards. You can include plants and animals, too!

Finally, and again, only if and when you have the mental, emotional, and spiritual space in a given day, you can widen your circle, sending loving kindness towards people who you disagree with or may consider “enemies” or find yourself having a harder time loving. I invite you to be curious about how this part of the practice impacts you over time.



The Process of the Practice

Whether your unique loving-kindness practice focuses only on yourself or expands to people you are in conflict with, I invite you to notice the thoughts you had both before and after the practice. Observe any changes in your body and mind too.

Loving-kindness can be a slow growth process. You may find that falling in love with every aspect of yourself or others is a constant and neverending process. Furthermore, it’s okay and normal to have a greater capacity or connection some days, just as it is to feel challenged on other days. You will create muscle memory and orient yourself towards love every time you practice. Therefore, you can only ever move forward.

As you go deeper into this practice and explore how it can support your work as a parent, caregiver, friend, and so you, you may find yourself needing to reach out and connect with (and maybe even process with) others. I recommend starting by naming you your support system. This is a simple, yet powerful tool.

Finally, this practice is one that you can share with your entire family. The children, teens, and young adults in your life can use this practice as an anchor in the midst of their busy lives. I invite you to book a complimentary Discovery Call to learn more about how coaching can support your entire family.


HOw to Practice Loving-Kindness in Parenting

4 Ways to Develop Cognitive Skills For Kids in an Entertaining Way

What Decentering Whiteness for Families Looks Like

Looking Beyond the Individual

As a life coach for teens and parents, I think often about what it means to heal and what it means to truly feel whole. See, we are whole and perfect as we are, but we don’t always feel, know, and believe this.

These words are “hot topics” and messages from the personal development field. And while I believe this work to be important, I don’t see personal development leaders talking enough about how complex this work really is. I don’t see coaches and “healers” talking enough about life beyond the individual. Healing can only go so deep if it’s focused only on me.

True healing, collective healing, involves looking to my family, my community, my society, my world. Furthermore, this means familiarizing myself with systems of power and oppression that are actively causing harm in these spaces. In this article, we will consider the social construct of race, which benefits white folks and oppresses people of color (POC).

I’m speaking in this article as a white woman in the United States. The perspective and ideas I share here come from reflecting on my own experience of race and racism, conversations with friends and colleagues from diverse backgrounds, and research about racism. It is my intention that this article serves as an invitation to parents, caregivers, and supporters, especially those who identify as white or “white-passing,” to reflect on your own relationship to race and how it impacts and influences the way you show up for the children and teens in your life.


Decentering Whiteness

Here in the United States, whiteness is perceived as neutral; whiteness is seen as the default. If you are a white person reading this, I encourage you to pause. Notice how your body is reacting to these words so far. Notice if any thoughts, emotions, or words have come to mind. Keep breathing. There’s space for your entire experience here.

Next, thinking critically, notice and name the ways your whiteness is centered as the “norm” in the spaces you spend time– neighborhood, school, work, etc. Becoming aware of this widespread truth, is the first step to DEcentering whiteness.

My whiteness is not actually neutral. Your whiteness if not neutral. Whiteness at large is not neutral.  Whiteness means privilege that our friends and colleges of color do not wake up to. For example, I’m not asked where I’m from or what my background is; my college education is assumed; I see myself heavily represented in the spaces I frequent (yoga studios, grocery stores, and women in business meetings); I turn on the TV or scroll instagram and see myself all over the place. This is white-centeredness, white privilege, and this is also white supremacy.

These two words, white supremacy, they might scare you right now. And they should. Because they mean power, oppression, harm, hurt, and abuse. White supremacy most simply put says that white means superior. Each of the items I listed above is evidence that in 2018 in the United States, whiteness is still positioned as superior. Yes, white supremacy includes violent acts, hate crimes, and groups like the KKK, but it starts with and is perpetuated by words and actions that CENTER whiteness.

These two words, white supremacy, should also be words that you become familiar with. It’s (past) our time to be aware of, name, and move away from the ways we are complicit with white-centeredness. We have to own the fact that seemingly simple words and thoughts we have contribute to white supremacy. These is the implicit bias we have inherited, the myth we are been sold.

The Real Personal Development Work

THIS work of uncovering the ways we have absorbed and fed white supremacy over time is the real personal development work. This work is required before we can reach the “love and light” and “we are one” ideas that we want to believe in. We will not get free or heal or feel whole if we do not do the work of decentering whiteness in our own minds. Until we name the ways white supremacy shows up in our everyday lives and look it in the eyes, we will be stunted in our growth, our healing, and our personal development.

I’m sure that these words so far have sparked curiosity and a sense of self-awareness. You may be wondering how to channel this energy. Today, I’m sharing 4 practical and meaningful steps you and your family can take to decentering whiteness.

Practical AND Meaningful Steps to Decentering Whiteness

  1. Notice and name actions and thoughts that contribute to white supremacy. Become comfortable being uncomfortable with your own default thoughts and beliefs. Meet yourself with compassion as you learn to challenge yourself to consider where these came from. Over time, with observation and self-kindness, you will create new beliefs.
  2. With a generous and curious heart, explore, support, and learn from other cultures. Maybe you start with books and literature that you share these with your children and teens. Maybe you and your family attend local events that center on people of the Global Majority and their traditions. Maybe you explore listening to music from around the world or learning a new language as a family. As you begin this practice, be mindful of your intentions. Be careful not to exotify or sensationalize folks who are different than you; here, the lens of curiosity is of utmost importance.
  3. Consume a wide range of content. Notice who you and your children see represented in the shows and movies you watch, the social media accounts you follow, the books you read, etc. Introduce new perspectives, voices, cultures, and backgrounds regularly. We have so much to learn from other another! Additionally, and more importantly, reflect and consider differences with appreciation and curiosity.
  4. Engage in dialogue with other white people. It is not the work of people of color to educate us about race and how damaging this oppressive system has been for generations upon generations. This is our work, and it’s tough work. Find friends and family members who are ready to engage in this conversation; people who are ready to look at themselves deeply, truthfully, and with love. Community is important as we do this deep internal work because we have to talk it out, cry it out, and get messy in order to do better. I’m currently facilitating a Decentering Whiteness group that meets via Facebook and locally in the Austin, Texas area to explore this topic; join us if this aligns with your journey!

Courtney Headshot in Green DressAs you dig into this work, stuff is going to come up. There will be resistance, tears, apologies, connections, realizations, insights, anger, sadness, remorse, growth… There’s space for all of these feelings because without tapping into these, without discomfort, the cycle of centering whiteness will not come to an end. Along this journey, you may find a need or desire to connect with and feel supported by others. I invite you to explore this guide to building your support system because this work is deep, and you are not alone.

As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney helps young people get out of worry, isolation, and anxiety and into connection.Download your free support system map here!

10 Ways to Integrate Your Support System into Daily Living

10 Ways to Integrate Your Support System into Daily Living

Who is your support system? The people you call on the toughest of days? What do you turn to for comfort when you are stressed out? Where can you go to get relief and peace when life feels chaotic?

The answers to these questions are important parts of your unique support system. A support system is a catalog of resources that offer you practical and/or emotional support. More specifically, these are people, places, and things that bolster you.

I recently published a guide for teens to build their support networks. This article (and free downloadable map) is equally applicable and supportive for parents and caregivers, and it’s a common part of the work I do with clients. Thus, I invite you to explore this tool, too, and brainstorm and create your unique support system.

I encourage you to keep this living document somewhere you will be able to see it and access it with ease. Reflect: Can you remember the last time you felt overwhelmed and unable to take the next step, or even figure the next step out? This trapped feeling can be tough to get out of. However, the closer we keep our tools and supports, the more frequently we are reminded of the resources around us, and the easier it will be for us to reach out and ask for help.

Parents, especially parents of teens and emerging adults, often share that they feel isolated. Once school drop-offs and play dates are things of the past, parents and caregivers tend to have fewer organic opportunities to interact with one another. This feeling of isolation is an opportunity to build and maintain your systems of support– an important aspect of self-care.

Developing a Support System

Recently, I have become more observant of the ways that I use my own support system, and I’m excited to share how this network has served me. When I brainstormed my own system, I sat with some of the words that I use to describe myself: highly sensitive, empathic, introvert, anxious, curious, detail-oriented, antsy, creative, and so on. As I considered each of these traits, I asked “What brings me comfort? What brings me stability?” Then, I generated broad lists and ideas for supports that were already in place, as well as supprots I wanted to integrate.

Today, I’m sharing some of the specific ways I use my support network to inform daily and weekly practices. These ideas are meant to be examples for you to consider and explore as you dig deep into your own needs and preferences for support. I invite you to edit, revise, revision, and recreate your own map of supports and structures for including these into your regular practices.

10 Ways to Integrate Your Support System into Daily Living

  1. Slow Down. I notice that I feel most supported when I am not rushed. When I take the time to transition from place to place or role to role, I feel more grounded. Observe your transitions and find ways to slow down throughout the shifts you endure daily.
  2. Accountability Partners: I talk with my accountability partner weekly for 20-30 minutes each Friday. We cover celebrations and accomplishments for the week and set goals for the coming week. Explore an accountability relationship with a friend or colleague! Email me for more info on how to get started.
  3. Top 3: When I have a work-related situation that I don’t know how to solve, I have 3 close friends who are also solopreneurs that I can contact to share, brainstorm, and create a plan. When I face depression, I reach out to my partner, my sister, and a close friend. Consider having a top 3 list for personal life, as well as work life.
  4. Shared Interest Groups: I meet weekly with my writing group. We are building a culture of support, resource sharing, and feedback around our work as writers. This helps me know that I am not in isolation as I do my creative work. Join groups of people who have similar interests and projects as you.
  5. Scheduled Self-Care: Yoga and walking in nature support me in feeling strong in my mind. I set aside time for these activities (and others– like baths, reading Young Adult fiction, and meditation) because they help me refuel. Plan time for the self-care activities or your choice.
  6. Structured AND Unstructured Family Time: Each week, my partner and I typically designate two “date” nights. This is time that we are dedicating to one another and to our relationship. While we don’t always have plans and rarely leave the house, we have a plan to be with one another. This gives us plenty of other time to connect spontaneously or to work on our individual projects. Explore supports like family meetings, movie night, or walk and talks with your family members. Be mindful of leaving plenty of downtime in the weekly calendar too.
  7. Less is More. Whenever I notice that I am overwhelmed, I (attempt to) stop adding to my plate. I also check the calendar to see if there is anything extra or unnecessary that I can eliminate. I’m finding more and more that a “no” can really be the biggest “yes” to myself and my mental health. Know that it’s okay to say no, to cancel plans, or to decide not to add anything else to your to-do list. 
  8. Professional Supports: I’ve always been an advocate for seeking the help of professionals, from therapists, to coaches, to yoga teachers, to acupuncturists, to doctors, to editors. I spend time curating my list of professional supports and depending on my needs in a given season, I prioritize different appointments. Seek professional supports that align with your values and needs (including insurance, location, and services). Don’t be afraid to “shop around” until you find a great fit.
  9. Happy spaces and places: I travel to happy space figuratively through safe place meditations. I also know that a nearby trail and green space always brings me comfort, as does a bookstore or library. Identify the space and places that can help you shift your energy and find a sense of safety.
  10. Screen-time Limits: Because so much of my work and communication involves screens, I can become overly exhausted and unable to focus. This leaves me switching between tabs or apps and in the end, I feel like I accomplish very little. When I set timers or myself, limiting my time on a given task and setting an intention to attend to one task, I feel more efficient and calm. Set limits for your technology usage. Be curious about the amount of time that feels healthiest and most enjoyable for you; let this inform your limit-setting.

It is my wish that you leave this article with new ideas and awarenesses for building and maintaining your unique support system. Get your free guide and support system map here to help you begin this process. Furthermore, I invite you to share this process and practice with your family. Noramlize asking for help and utilizing resources. We are all in this together.

I’m here to support, and I can’t wait to hear about and learn from your unique map!

Courtney Headshot in Green DressAs a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports tweens, teens, and young adults in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they explore their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in practicing self-care and growing alongside their children. Sessions with Courtney lovingly guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease.

Kicking Off the School Year with Intention

Kicking Off the School Year with Intention

What is the end of summer looking like in your home? What’s it feeling like? Another big family transition is just around the corner– back to school!

You and your children or teens may be excited about getting back into the flow and routine of the school year, and you and your family may be anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, exhausted thinking about this change of pace. Anywhere along this spectrum is normal, reasonable, and understandable. 

Noticing Transitions

The truth is, transitions are challenging! There’s a certain energy of anticipation that hits, and as you begin to move into the change, you’ll likely notice various shifts in your mood, capacity, and energy. This is not a positive or negative thing; it just is.

Transitions require you to adapt and adjust. The transition from summer to school has the potential, like any transition, to bring discomfort, stress, and energy drain, even if you or your family feel excited! Furthermore, if one family member becomes overly stressed and begins to “flip their lid,” others will be impacted and will likely flip their lid too. Thus, it’s important to recognize and name the way transitions are influencing your family during this season and beyond.

You and your family have the opportunity to stay awake to your experiences in this transition, and there are tools and strategies you can implement to support the process.

Acknowledging Emotions

First, I invite you to talk explicitly about emotions. As the parent, share how you personally feel about the upcoming transition out of summer. Consider describing what parts of the experience you are excited about, nervous about, curious about, etc. It’s okay (and even helpful) to address emotions that feel tough or challenging; this can help your child or teen understand that their sensations are normal!

With a stance of curiosity, you can encourage your child to share, too, by asking how they are feeling. Their expression can be done through many modalities that you might suggest as options, including the following: drawing scenes that capture their emotions; using a 1-10 scale to rate how intensely they are feeling a sensation; circling the feelings that apply to them on a list of different emotions; using thumbs up/down/sideways to indicate how they’re feeling; and so on. Let me know what other methods you and your family come up with along the journey!

Time Management and Organization

Brainstorming organization systems as a family can be powerful as it promotes contribution and engagement from all members. I observe families having great success with family meetings focused on this topic. Through the crucial brainstorming process, allow all ideas to flow, even if they are silly, unreasonable, or humorous. The goal of this conversation is to determine how your whole family will stay on the same page about daily, weekly, and monthly schedules, so a little bit of laughter will help bring cohesion. If you and your children or teens want some help getting started, browse Pinterest

Click here to teach your child how to do goal setting and perseverance with the same.

I also invite you to take time with your family to gather copies of academic, sports, extracurriculars, church/religious, and other calendars that influence the family schedule. Find a home for these calendars, as you and your family will need to reference them regularly. Maybe it’s a binder or a digital shared album of the photos, but it must be something that works for your family. You may also consider having each family member transfer important dates (days off, holidays, exams, practices, etc.) into their individual calendars depending on the age-appropriateness of these details.

Furthermore, tt might serve your family to create an ongoing routine of sitting down at the end of each month to add additional dates (events, games, tests, etc.) to the upcoming month’s calendar; this, of course, could also be done on a weekly basis instead. Co-creating the calendar is a pathway to co-creating family time and family contribution.

school year routine

Incorporate School Year Routine

Additionally, I suggest creating lists that capture daily routines and procedures. Yes, this is also appropriate and helpful for teens! As you begin this process, ask your child or teen open-ended questions such as, “What do you need to do each morning to be prepared for school?” or “What steps do you need to take to get good rest each night?” Allow them to name tasks that are important to their success and personal comfort. Stay open to their answers, focus on listening, and refrain from micromanaging or advising. 

If there’s something important they seem to be missing, you can remind them by asking, “Where does brushing your teen fit in the routine,” for example. As a family, write these individualized routines down and encourage each family member keep them somewhere they’ll see them. (This includes you too, parents!)

In the chaos of the beginning of the school year, it can be helpful to decide on a 1-2 activities or commitments that everyone will show up for each week. The goal of these activities is to promote quality time and connection. Plus, if they are agreed upon as a family, it’s easy to hold them as priorities and to honor them in the family schedule. Ideas include things like pizza dinner on Thursdays, morning exercise on Saturdays, or attending a religious service together. What would bring your family together on a regular basis? 

Other Back to School Considerations

There are few other elements to consider through this important transition:

  1. Technology: Agree upon technology norms and limits as a family. You can ask, “What types of things do you need your phone for on a daily basis?” “What time should screens be put away so we can get the rest we need?” and “How long do you anticipate wanting to be on your phone for socialization or fun each day?” Help your children and teens make commitments and systems for their technology usage.
  2. Academics: Before the homework and projects hit full steam, it’s beneficial to explore opportunities for academic support. This can begin with browsing campus websites or portals, and it can progress to helping your child or teen identify the people on (or off) campus that they can turn to for help. For example: Is there a writing center? Do they know each teacher’s office or tutoring hours? Do they know how to log on to campus portals?
  3. Social and Emotional Life: Just as you and your family did with academic supports, explore and name social and emotional supports your family can access. This includes locating campus counseling and support personnel, discussing teachers or mentors they already have a relationship with, and considering extracurricular opportunities. Get my free download for building a support system here.
  4. Free Time: Discuss healthy, comforting options for after-school and weekend time. Remember to reserve and encourage time at home to rest, read, take care of chores, and simply be, as well as extracurriculars. 

As you and your family take on the 2018-2019 school year, I invite you to come back to this list again and again.Know that you might commit to a certain schedule or agreement and find that it’s not working in a week or two– that’s okay! Come back to the drawing board as a family, discuss what did and did not work, and try another idea, co-create a new strategy. Adjustments are a normal part of the process. Reach out if you’d like support on this journey into the academic year. 

Kick Off the School Year with Intention | How do you start

  As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports tweens, teens, and young adults in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they explore their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in practicing self-care, growing alongside their children, and developing balanced sensitivity towards the process their rapidly-changing child is creating. Through Intentional Parents of Tweens and Teens, an online membership for parents of adolescents, Courtney offers parents the time and space to learn, grow, problem-solve, and relate to one another in a supportive community. Sessions with Courtney lovingly guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease.
Summer Anti-Boredom Toolkits for the Whole Family

Summer Anti-Boredom Toolkits for the Whole Family

Summer, and any other unstructured time of the year, can lead to boredom. Children and teens have to make pretty big energetic and logistical transitions each time the shift from school schedules to summer vacation and vice-versa. A bored kid is a kid whose brain is challenging them to get curious and explore something new.

The Transition to Summer

Often times, the transition into summer feels exciting; it may be a relief! Then, after several days or a few weeks, this less-structured time can begin to wear on children and teens. (And parents!) This lack of structure can create room for less desirable behaviors (think screens), and with plans and intentions, it can be a time of fun and joy. 

In sessions this summer, I have guided teenage clients in developing Anit-Boredom Toolkits. These are simply lists of options, or a menu, that children and teens can use to get out of boredom and into engagement and curiosity. This is a living document that can be added to or edited at any time. A few clients have taken this one step further and even prepared a duffel bag, tackle box, or storage tub full of items from their list! 

Below you will find a list that offers your child or teen ideas to consider as they create a unique and extensive toolkit. All they need to begin is a notebook and something to write with!

Considerations for your custom anti-boredom toolkit:

  1. Start with what you know you love. Include your favorite activities and hobbies on the list. Include the things you love to return to over and over again. Your passions and hobbies deserve to be on this list.
  2. Explore your 5 senses. Try to list at least one activity or option that will activate each of your senses! Challenge yourself to think outside of the box! 
  3. Try something new. If there’s a skill or hobby you’ve been thinking about for some time, encourage yourself to take the leap. Consider taking a camp or class for guidance, or check our YouTube, blogs, or books for how-tos. 
  4. Gather inspiration. Use magazines, documentaries, web searches, Pinterest, etc to inspire you. You might enjoy creating a summer vision board, or a collage to capture your inspirations and hopes.
  5. Balance alone time with connections with others. Ensure that some of your list items give you time to be with yourself. Likewise, include options that bring you into connection with friends, family, or your community.
  6. Consider your career interests. What ideas do you have for your career? Perhaps there volunteer or internship options related to your interest. Alternately, you might like to delve into research about this career path through documentaries, books, etc.
  7. Take advantage of nature. Include options that are centered around nature, whether it be a park, a neighborhood, or a hike in the woods.
  8. Do some research. It can be helpful to look at local calendars or stop by the local library or coffee shop to look at bulletin boards. There are tons of ideas out there waiting for you to find them. Stay open to the possibilities and notice what sparks your interest along the way. 
  9. Ask your friends and family for ideas. Chat with friends and family and ask them about their favorite activities and passions. As they share, notice if anything catches your attention. Bonus:  if you find a common interest, you have built-in connection time with a friend or family member!
  10. Incorporate self-care. It’s important to include activities that are calming and relaxing for you. These are small ways that you can offer yourself comfort and care. This can be time for reading, taking baths, or journaling, for example.
  11. Review your list with your parents. Share your brainstorming with your parents! They’ll be excited to hear your ideas and interests. If some activities require family support– for transportation, financially, for safety, etc.– begin a conversation with them about how you might be able to meet these goals.

A Tool for the Whole Family

While the list portion of this article is meant to be a tool for your child or teen, I invite you notice the ideas that have come to your mind. Is it time for you to build a boredom toolkit too?! Creating, maintaining, and using this type of catalog is likely to increase your intentionality surrounding self-care. Instead of defaulting to screens or the couch, you have a whole list of energizing and soothing ideas that you can consider.

If you and your child or teen are looking for support as you build Summer Boredom Toolkits, let’s chat! I work with clients to co-create systems that bring their family into deeper connection, and I would be honored to support you on the journey!

  As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports tweens, teens, and young adults in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they explore their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in practicing self-care, growing alongside their children, and developing balanced sensitivity towards the process their rapidly-changing child is creating. Through Intentional Parents of Tweens and Teens, an online membership for parents of adolescents, Courtney offers parents the time and space to learn, grow, problem-solve, and relate to one another in a supportive community. Sessions with Courtney lovingly guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease.

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Anti Boredom Summer Toolkit for the Whole Family

Creating an Intentional, Bilingual, Bicultural Wedding

Creating an Intentional, Bilingual, Bicultural Wedding

This month’s piece is a personal one, a little glimpse into some of my values and lifestyle. It is my hope that reading about my experience will invite you into a place of reflection about your own values. Whether or not you have planned a wedding or hope to have one, the intentions and ideas I share can be applied to any family situation.

We Said yes! Now, What?!

Do you remember when I wrote about Valentine’s Day and how much I LOVE it?! Because Valentine’s Day is so special to me, without much planning, but with so much excitement, I decided to ask my partner, Adrian, to marry me. We were sitting on our couch after a delicious tapas dinner, and with a little heart-shaped box, a slip of paper that said “Our Forever…,” and 4 words, I asked him. He said yes!

Because a proposal felt important to both of us, we decided to wait to announce our engagement until Adrian asked me too.

Just about two months later, on our fifth anniversary of dating, after eating at the same tapas restaurant we had on Valentine’s day, Adrian gifted me his annual mini canvas creation that signifies each of our years together. After a few minutes of looking at the collection of five canvases, I flipped it over. There was a question mark, and before I knew it, Adrian was on his knee, with a ring, asking me to marry him. I said yes!

We’ve been in a dedicated partnership for sometime; yet, setting the intention to get married has brought us to new, deeper conversations about how we want to create a life together long-term. These conversations, consequently, have brought up some of the crucial elements we are considering as plan our wedding. Because we view the wedding as a representation of our unique union, the details have begun to matter quite a lot.

What Matters Most?

As Adrian and I started the interesting, challenging, special, and mind-blowing experience of planning the biggest fiesta of our lives, we’ve tapped into what matters most. Through the help of A Practical Wedding, we generated a list of 3 words that will guide all of the decisions we make about this party: meaningful, fun, and affordable. Each decision we make, about the location, the food, the DJ, the clothing, and so on must align with this vision.

Fun and affordable are pretty straightforward, so I’m excited to share what meaningful means to us.

We are a bicultural couple. I’m white, and Adrian is Mexican-American. I speak primarily English, and my Spanish is always improving. Adrian is bilingual in English and Spanish. We have so much love for one another, and for both of us, family– immediate and extended– is important. Over the last five years, we have become integral parts of one another’s families.

Meaningful, then, means making our special ceremony and awesome dance party bilingual, so that each guest knows that they an important part of our journey and union. Our ceremony will flow between English and Spanish, making our intentions accessible to all of our guests.

Creating a Bi-Cultural Wedding

As we create the vision of our wedding, we consider how each component can draw from the traditions of our two families and cultures. These are some of the ways we plan to bring all of our loved ones and communities together to celebrate:

  • Post-wedding menudo party
  • Inviting family members to lead parts of the ceremony
  • Playing music in English and Spanish
  • Serving Tex-Mex and Mexican food
  • Having a friend bless us (our families are both Catholic)
  • Hosting a “dollar dance

How does one go about creating the perfectly planned intentional, bilingual, bicultural wedding

More about the Meaning

As we consider what our wedding, and more importantly, our marriage, means to us, we are rediscovering and naming our shared values. As we work through this process, we are considering how our upcoming union and incredible party will reflect our beliefs and priorities. This is all a part of creating a meaningful day.

One element that we will weave in, for example, our values of equality and partnership. As feminists, we assess which pieces of the traditions feel supportive of our union. Our joint proposal is one way that we upheld the importance of equality. As partners, we focus on building one another up and offering unconditional support. As we plan this exciting celebration, we will incorporate language and symbols that honor our connected partnership.

Together, our vision is to build community through our wedding day and beyond. We want to create a day that focuses on family and community, again, drawing on the value of equality. We want ALL of our parents and siblings to hold special roles in the day, as well as our closest family and friends. Furthermore, we are prepared to receive love, support, ideas, and help from our dear ones. Here’s to peaceful planning for a meaningful wedding, and a lifetime of love, community, and fun!

Beyond Planning a Wedding

Of course, the wedding is one special day that Adrian and I will bring our families together to celebrate love and community. Beyond this day, though, I’d like to continue using the guide of three key descriptors to anchor us through all of the seasons of life. For example, perhaps we will play with picking three words to describe the type of summer we want to have or three words to describe the home environment we want to create.

I invite you to explore this intention-setting activity with your family, too. The options are endless, from describing bedtime routines with three words to identifying three key feelings for family vacations to three qualities for next school year. Let me know what you come up with!

As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports tweens, teens, and young adults in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they explore their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in practicing self-care, growing alongside their children, and developing balanced sensitivity towards the process their rapidly-changing child is creating. Through Intentional Parents of Tweens and Teens, an online membership for parents of adolescents, Courtney offers parents the time and space to learn, grow, problem-solve, and relate to one another in a supportive community. Sessions with Courtney lovingly guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease.
International Day of Families: A Guide to Reflection and Connection

International Day of Families: A Guide to Reflection and Connection

International Day of Families: The Background

In 1993, after more than a decade of integrating a focus on families, the United Nations General Assembly decided that May 15 of every year would be observed as International Day of Families. This day is dedicated to growing awareness of diverse issues relating to families.

One major objective of this specially marked day is for our larger governing bodies, institutions, and organizations to acknowledge the complex ways they impact and influence families. That being said, it is an acknowledgement of the ways that social, economic and demographic systems and structures impact families.

Furthermore, International Day of Families invites these organizations to recognize their responsibility to support, nourish, nurture, respect, and protect families. This year, 2018, the theme for International Day of Families is “Families and Inclusive Societies,” which aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #16.

Inclusion in the Family Community

Society is simply another word for community, and a family is a type of community. Communities have a responsibility to be inclusive. This requires intention, conversation, dedication, and maintenance– just like your family!

Communities, big and small, must adopt practices that promote inclusion. For example, at the family level, restorative circles are reusable, recyclable practices that bring all members of a family community together. Circles allow each member to have a voice and require mutual respect.

I share the practice of circles with my clients and with other professionals who work with families and children. Specifically, I teach the values of this system: each member is valuable; each member deserves space to share, listen, process, learn, and grow; each member honors and cares for themselves and one another; each member has a responsibility to participate; each member will think, act, and behave with kindness to the best of their ability. Each of these values promotes and requires inclusion!

The experience of restorative circles benefits each family and each individual in it by encouraging active engagement in the system. Moreover, circles teach children and teens, especially, that they have agency in their lives and communities, including but not limited to, the family. This deep sense of empowerment, then, allows children and teens to feel comfortable taking up space in intentional ways; they are included and valuable.

The Community Connection

Restorative circles not only teach each family member to have and use their voice, they encourage and demand authentic listening and mutual respect for oneself and one another. When children and teens (and adults too) have powerful experiences of sharing responsibility in their families, they enter their schools, neighborhoods, cities, religious communities, and beyond with a skill set that promotes collaborative problem-solving and connection. THIS is inclusion!

Father Gregory Boyle is one of my greatest role models and teachers. His message is one of love and the highest level of inclusion– kinship: “It’s connection and kinship that ultimately heals people.” When we treat one another as kin, when we are inclusive, we grow– individually and collectively. In other words, when we build a community of inclusion, we all thrive.

When I hear the phrase “peaceful and inclusive society,” I imagine all members having equal amounts of space and voice. I imagine each member showing up fully with passion, interest, and commitment. Essentially, I imagine a massive, dynamic circle! What do you imagine?

Reflecting on the Family and Extended Communities

As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, I support families on building pathways to Connected Hearts, trust, and communication. I am constantly facilitating conversations about what “family” means to each individual, as well as what the experience of the family community is like for all members. Pause for a moment and consider how you define the term family. Hold an image (or multiple) of your family in your mind.

Today, I’m excited to share with you a reflection guide that you use as a parent, caregiver, or educator. In addition, you can share this tool with your family to create rich, thought-provoking conversations with your family and extended communities. Feel free to get out the paper and coloring utensils as you sketch, write, draw, and express your thoughts in response to the following questions.

  1. What does peaceful mean to you?
  2. What does inclusive mean to you?
  3. What does a peaceful and inclusive family look like, sound like, and feel like to you?
  4. How do you contribute to a peaceful, inclusive family?
  5. What does a peaceful and inclusive society look like, sound like, and feel like to you?
  6. How do you contribute to a peaceful, inclusive society?

On International Day of Families and Beyond

I invite you to notice the ways you contribute to each community you are a part of; keep making space for your children and teens to consider their part too. As you explore, notice how you contribute, observe the ways you live out the values of circles and inclusion, and celebrate the connections you are creating.

It is my hope that circles and this reflection guide can support your family or any other community you wish to share it with. Consider modifying the questions above to align with other values your family or extended community may want to explore. For instance, you might like to explore values such as joy and responsibility or passion and diversity.

Finally, In honor of Intentional Day of Family, let us set intentions for engaging with the intention of being inclusive and welcoming to all those we interact with. Reach out to me if you’d like support on getting started!

  As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports tweens, teens, and young adults in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they explore their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in practicing self-care, growing alongside their children, and developing balanced sensitivity towards the process their rapidly-changing child is creating. Through Intentional Parents of Tweens and Teens, an online membership for parents of adolescents, Courtney offers parents the time and space to learn, grow, problem-solve, and relate to one another in a supportive community. Sessions with Courtney lovingly guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease. http://courtneyharriscoaching.com/  https://www.facebook.com/courtneyharrisedconnect/
connected hearts

Connected Hearts: A Personal Journey

The Connected Hearts Philosophy

Connection: We all need it to thrive and flourish.

In my Connected Hearts philosophy, there are three layers. First, we connect with ourselves. We get in touch with our inner voice of truth and the sense of self that comes from the inside, not from pressures of ideas on the outside. Next, we connect with others. This means engaging with family members, friends, teachers, mentors, co-workers, etc. We become aware of the ways we contribute to our relationships with other people, as well as our needs, wishes, and desires in these connections.

Then, we connect with community. Here, we recognize the ways that we relate to and serve humanity. Communities can be small and intimate, like Boy Scout troops or spiritual groups, or they can be neighborhoods, schools, or cities.

I think of these layers as three concentric hearts that operate like a “ripple effect” of connection and responsibility. The inner heart represents the Self, and this connection serves and informs connection to others– the middle heart. Likewise, our connection to others, motivates us to connect with and participate in communities that matter to us, represented by the outermost heart.
connection heart


Today, I share a personal process that illustrates the way Connected Hearts has shown up in my own life and has been a tool for greater harmony and peace. It is my hope that this story and the Connected Hearts process can be a tool for your own self-reflection, self-awareness, and goal-setting. Thank you for witnessing me!

Connecting with Myself

During my eighth year of classroom teaching, I really started to listen to a part of myself that I had been pushing down, ignoring, silencing for a few years. Finally, I was listening because my body and mind no longer had the energy to shut this voice down.

As I listened, I began to accept that I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I let these sensations take up space. Through this process,  it became clear to me that my gifts for empathy and sensitivity were being used up at a rate that was unsustainable, and I was unable to refuel.

I also heard a more concrete message: It is okay for me to leave the classroom. This came with the affirmation that I would still be a loving, passionate, creative human if I decided to make my eighth year my last year  of teaching (for now).


connection with self


Once I determined that I would leave my school and the classroom, I spent a lot of time considering what would be healing and soothing, what kind of self-care I needed. I sorted through my vast experience as an educator and named my gifts and talents. Specifically, I came to back to my empathic and highly-sensitive nature with a lens of love. I offered appreciation to myself for the ways these gifts served me, my students, and my campuses over years.

I truly connected with myself— the light, the shadow, and everything in between.

Connecting with Others

With this renewed relationship with myself, I began to consider my relationships and my contributions. I acknowledged that my sensitivity is what helped me gauge when a student was having an “off day” or was facing stress or another big emotion. Additionally, I named the ways that my gift of empathy allowed me to listen to each student with patience and compassion. I was excited to witness my agency within the many relationships I built and maintained each day. (Don’t get me wrong, I made mistakes, missed connections, or expressed frustration from time to time just like any other human.)

Over time, I also became aware of the ways that I was blocking connections with coworkers because of insecurities about belonging. When I wasn’t truly listening to my inner voice, I was making decisions about myself, including what others thought or felt about me, that were influenced by external factors— real or imagined. While there was a lot of light in my relationships, there was plenty of darkness and struggle to face as well.


Connection with Others


I honestly assessed of my connections with other people. Whether connections were flowing or stagnant, I was becoming aware and feeling empowered to own my responsibility.

Connecting with Community

As I developed this nonjudgemental, yet honest, reflection of my life as a teacher, it became apparent that contribution to community massively influences my happiness and joy. Witnessing groups of students in raw conversation about life as a teenager brings me deep joy. Facilitating restorative circles about big life topics and ideas gives me so much hope. Additionally, I recognized my own power to create and participate in community.

Sometimes this meant gauging the energy in the room and adding breathwork or a brain-break into my lesson. Other times it meant writing permanent hall passes for the lunch bunch that developed in my classroom. Larger scale, this meant collaborating with other teachers, attending school board meetings, and running a community service club. I love witnessing and participating in collective energy.


community connection


Here, in the third stage of the process, I connected my school and local community. The  three layers of self, others, and community influence one another, and with this awareness, I was headed towards a life of intentional living.

With all of his new awareness, I did, in fact, decide to leave the classroom! Shortly after, I started my business as a Life Coach for Teens and Parents— emphasizing my gifts for building relationships and my passion for being in community. Being deeply in-tune with myself, supported intentional and shift in my outer world, and over time, this ability to listen and focus on connection has influenced my entire perception of myself and the world.

Connection is a Dynamic Process

The process of Connected Hearts is not static or always clearly defined because life is dynamic. I have broken down one of my own powerful, personal experiences as a way to illustrate the parts of this process.

Again, I hope that you and your children or teens can begin to notice how connection informs your life. As you explore, you notice which connections support you in thriving, as well as areas of life that feel disconnected or confused. I invite you to use my Connected Hearts framework as a reflection tool, both individually and as a family. Reach out to me if you’d like to process this together or begin on a journey of reflection with your family.


As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports tweens, teens, and young adults in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they explore their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in practicing self-care, growing alongside their children, and developing balanced sensitivity towards the process their rapidly-changing child is creating. Through Intentional Parents of Tweens and Teens, an online membership for parents of adolescents, Courtney offers parents the time and space to learn, grow, problem-solve, and relate to one another in a supportive community. Sessions with Courtney lovingly guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease. Stay in touch here: http://courtneyharriscoaching.com/, https://www.facebook.com/courtneyharrisedconnect/, https://www.instagram.com/courtneyharriscoaching/


10 Ways to Thrive Without Technology this Spring Break

10 Ways to Thrive Without Technology this Spring Break

In the United States, many schools have Spring Break during the month of March and April. Around the world, at different times of the year, parents and caregivers support their families and children in transitioning from school to time off and back again. How do we deal with technology on break?

Breaks or holidays can often mean more unstructured time for the whole family. While it’s important for children and teens to experience unstructured play and downtime regularly, the transition from a rigorous school routine to week-long breaks can be challenging for everyone.

When life gets unpredictable or out of sync, anxiety, depression, and technology addiction can spike. As parents, caregivers, and supporters, we can facilitate structure that supports our children and teens in staying happy and healthy through the ebbs and flows of the calendar year.

10 Ways to Thrive this Spring Break


Whether you and your family are staying home or traveling during the next school break, this list of 10 strategies with help you and your family stay grounded.

1. Talk about the plan as soon as possible. If there are travel plans, begin discussing months or weeks ahead. Allow everyone to settle into the idea of what the break might look like or feel like. Setting expectations and beginning brainstorming early helps young people imagine the experience. They can work out areas of stress during this time, as well as build anticipation and joy for the upcoming event.

2. Make space for plans to be collaborative. Children and teens thrive when they know that they have agency and voice in their family. Allow them to help plan age-appropriate elements of the week off of school. This includes tasks such as researching online, scheduling with friends or family, selecting activities from a list of parent-approved ideas, and brainstorming places and spaces they would like to explore.  

Technology Break

3. Set specific parameters for technology usage. Your children and teens are always going to have a relationship with technology, and you can support and care for them by helping them make and maintain a healthy relationship. Begin a conversation that allows your child or teen to express their needs, desires, and observations.

4. Find support. If you are working during the break or want to secure adult-only time during a holiday or vacation, plan ahead and find support. It’s okay (and necessary) to take time away from your children and teens, and it’s also perfectly acceptable to ask for help from family, friends, or a childcare specialist.

5. Aim for balance. It is important to give children and teens the time and space to relax and recover from their hectic school schedules. Time for rest and play needs to be a part of the structure you and your family create together. Have a plan, and ensure that the plan includes downtime.

6. Maintain daily routines as much as possible. Even if you are traveling, prioritize routines that support sleep and mealtime, for example. This can be particularly grounding, as the rest of the day or even the environment may be unfamiliar or unstructured.

7. Incorporate physical activity and time outdoors. Include time each day for movement and nature, as weather and location permit. If it’s necessary to stay indoors, explore resources such a GoNoodle or check YouTube for guided yoga practices.  

8. Model the presence you want your children to observe. Take note of your own patterns, routines, and tech-usage. Kindly remind yourself of the behaviors you want to see your children practicing and do your best to model these each day. Aim for growth, not perfection; we are all learning what balance is together!

9. Break stressful tasks into chunks. Use timers and break tough tasks or experiences into more manageable segments. One of my clients struggles with being in the car for longer than 30 minutes. Before his last visit to see his grandparents, we came up with the plan of breaking the drive into five 30-minute segments. Together, we brainstormed a list of five ways he would like to pass time. My client set the timer on his iPad for 30 minutes and got started with his first activity. At the end of this segment, he paused and took some intentional breaths, then selected his next task.

10. Rely on community resources. Always remember that libraries, community centers, and parks offer engaging activities and options for your children and teens. School breaks and holidays can get costly, and rely on community resources that already exist and are made for YOU. Not only will this bring a bit of ease to your checkbook, it will also help your family connect with the greater community, whether you are home or traveling.

These ideas for setting your family up for a balanced, intentional spring break or holiday will be returned to over and over again with each new season. Building family norms and culture is a process always in progress, and I’d like to remind you to be gentle with yourself and your family along the way.

  As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports tweens, teens, and young adults in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they explore their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in practicing self-care, growing alongside their children, and developing balanced sensitivity towards the process their rapidly-changing child is creating. Through Intentional Parents of Tweens and Teens, an online membership for parents of adolescents, Courtney offers parents the time and space to learn, grow, problem-solve, and relate to one another in a supportive community. Sessions with Courtney lovingly guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease. Stay in touch here: http://courtneyharriscoaching.com/https://www.facebook.com/courtneyharrisedconnect/https://www.instagram.com/courtneyharriscoaching/
If you and your tween, teen, or young adult are looking for support as you prepare for Spring Break, let’s chat! As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, I work with clients to co-create systems that bring their family into deeper connection, and I would be honored to support you on the journey
How to help kids be gadget free on any break from school | 10 real ways to thrive without technology this spring break
How Valentine's Day Became My Every Day Why

How Valentine’s Day Became My Every Day Why

I was 18 and had been in an “on-again-off-again” relationship for a few years. On Valentine’s Day of my senior year, we were “off again.” I was bitter, sad, felt like a loser, and wanted to cancel the day altogether.

Until something shifted.

A few days before the big day, I got the idea to research the history of Valentine’s Day and St. Valentine. I wanted to explore deeper than the facade that Hallmark and Hollywood sell us. I was desperately searching for a way to turn my hurt and self-consciousness into something new and more beautiful.

While reading up, I came to the conclusion that Valentine’s Day is a commercially created holiday, and that St. Valentine likely wasn’t an advocate for only romantic love, but all love. I decided that Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about loving out loud, telling the ALL of the people I love that they are special to me, and celebrating the collective love for humanity.



I dug deeper than my pain and recognized that I had lots of love that I needed to express on Valentine’s Day (and beyond), and I needed a new way to connect, rather than disconnect in shame, sadness, and isolation.

This day couldn’t be about teddy bears, roses, and chocolate from a boyfriend or a crush. To me, Valentine’s Day needed to be an expansion of the definition of love and a broadening of who and how we love.

Thus, my next idea… I decided that it would be most meaningful to show love to people in our society who are often forgotten or overlooked: those experiencing homelessness.

I got my mom in on the whole idea, and we quickly got started making Valentines by hand with doilies, glitter, stickers, and markers; albeit still a bit commercial, handmade cards were a joyful tradition that my mom shared with me and my sister.

Along with each Valentine, we would hand out a treat. We decided on donuts.



On the morning of Valentine’s Day, mom and I drove downtown in my hometown, Albuquerque, New Mexico, to deliver little bits of love and sugary hugs to people who were living without a steady, stable home.

We received so many smiles and appreciations, and we ran out of supplies quickly. The sensation of being present with another, sharing a moment, and acting on the principle that everyone deserves love was powerful and transformational!

Again, something BIG shifted.



From that February 14 on, Valentine’s Day became my favorite holiday. I’ve been known to host Valentine’s craft parties, my mom often ships me a box full of love and treats, and I often share about this memorable, perspective-shifting experience from my senior year of high school– my search for love and meaning in the world.

I must admit that I still partake in some of the commercial elements of the holiday, but my philosophy about the holiday comes from a place of authentic love, rather than expectation. This is what I hope to share with you and even more so with your teenagers who may be feeling pressured, depressed, expectant, or even excited about the stereotypical ideals of this holiday.

Over time, my love for the holiday grew, and I eventually named my commitment to live in love: Valentine’s Day Everyday, a movement.



What started as a desire to heal myself became one of my biggest WHYs– the reason I keep showing up and the reason I want to live another day: to notice love, to live in love, and to create love. Not just one day out of the year, but every day!


I’ve made it part of my life’s mission to tell people I love them. I’ve committed to noticing and observing love around me and appreciating it. Whether it’s a heart-shaped hole in the sidewalk, a lost and found love note, or witnessing a mother hugging her toddler, I want to know love.

And it’s not just the nicely packaged things that are love. It’s dropping my breakfast on the way out the door (when I’m already late), the basket of laundry waiting for me to fold it, and the meltdown my tween client is having that reveal what love is and teaches me how to love freely and fiercely.


Valentine’s Day Every Day is about looking at ALL experiences through the lens of love. Responding from a place of love and staying open to all forms of love.


I invite you to take on this mission and make it your own. How can you live each day as if it were Valentine’s Day for everyone?




Below are a few ideas that you might like to try as you get started on living Valentine’s Day Every Day:

  • Snuggle with your partner a little longer.
  • Pack an “I love you” note in your child’s lunch box.
  • Pay for coffee for the person in the drive-through behind you. Or the car in the toll booth line.
  • When you see something– a book or knick-knack or greeting card– that reminds you of a friend or family member, buy it for them. Don’t wait until a holiday or their birthday to gift it.
  • Hand out snacks or water to people who are experiencing homelessness.
  • Text a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, simply expressing what you love about them or sending a virtual hug.
  • Make a meal for a friend who has been sick or tired or stressed out.
  • Gift yourself the chocolate or flowers you look at with desire. You are worth it!
  • Write a love letter to a stranger!
  • Make a handmade card or collage for a friend or family member— just because.
  • Pick a flower and pass it to the next person you see.
  • Leave a positive affirmation somewhere where another person will find it– inside of a book, on a chair, on a signpost, etc.
  • Look for hearts in nature. (You’ll find soooo many!)
  • Write a poem for someone you love.

Have ideas? Go for it! Whatever comes up is authentic and real for you. Show that love to yourself, others, and the world.

Find Out How Every Day is And Can Be Turned Into Valentines Day | Love | Family | Joy | Be With Family On Valentines Day


If you’re looking for accountability as you integrating this mindset into your life and your family, let’s chat! As a Child-Centered Coach for parents and teens, I work with clients to build their lens of love, and I would be honored to support you and your children on the journey. As an online Child-Centered Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports tweens, teens, and young adults in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they discover their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in self-care, growing alongside their children, and in developing balanced sensitivity towards the process their child is creating and offers an online membership for parents of tweens and teens. Sessions with both teens and parents guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease. You can find out more about Courtney Harris Coaching here: https://www.facebook.com/courtneyharrisedconnect/ and https://courtneylynnharris.wixsite.com/mysite



7 Life Lessons Acts of Service Inspire - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

7 Life Lessons Acts of Service Inspire – Martin Luther King Jr. Day

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we have an opportunity to celebrate and honor the many ways that this great American leader stood for peace and justice for all. His work was focused on community, on togetherness, and on brotherhood and sisterhood.

Martin Luther King Jr.

About Martin Luther King Jr.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an essential leader in the American Civil Rights Movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. As a social activist and prominent Baptist minister, King played a vital role in countless civil rights events including the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington.

In 1983, the legislation was signed by the United States government to designate a federal holiday on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday– January 15– meaning that non-essential federal government offices are closed, every federal employee is paid for the holiday, and public schools are out of session. Later, in 1994, Congress named this holiday a national day of service. MLK Jr. Day is observed on the third Monday of January each year, near King’s birthday.

Because the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader and advocate for freedom and righteousness for all, we can live out his vision by engaging in acts of service. For it is in believing in the potential of our American family and actively building community, that we can grow together in love.

As a former co-leader of two community service clubs in Austin-area high schools, I am deeply invested in the power of service learning. I have witnessed, first-hand, the ways that young people are inspired by even simple and small acts of service– from cleaning up local parks to running game booths at a neighborhood elementary school to canvassing neighborhoods for canned foods.

In my work as a coach for teens and parents, I often share the idea of finding union and connection through community-based volunteering. As each individual becomes empowered and takes actions, such as volunteering, an openness to working together develops. Additionally, because humans are hard-wired to seek rewards, especially during the teenage years, “doing good” can fill teenagers’ desire to connect, contribute, and be accepted.

I invite you and your family to serve in your community this MLK Jr. Day (January 15, 2018) and beyond. Here are 7 Life Lessons We Learn Through Acts of Service:

  1. We have agency in our lives and in our communities. We can (and are responsible for) taking actions to contribute to our families, our communities, and our world. When we actively work towards connected, loving, and healthy communities feels good and helps us understand our role in each of these spheres. As we serve, we can recognize and solidify our identity, our values, and our interests and passions.
  1. Working together can warm the heart. As cliche as this sounds, it’s the truth. When we serve collectively, work together, and find synergy we elevate our own energies and the energies of those around us. Connecting with new friends, neighbors, or community members to accomplish a similar goal or through the act of service itself can be uplifting. Community-service presents us with opportunities to grow in empathy; we can begin to more clearly see ourselves in others, relate to others, and sense our connectedness.
  1. We can create deep joy by being present. Being in the moment, with those people and spaces in front of us can bring great happiness and even healing. Service means setting an intention to be with others or in action that requires attention, compassion, and love. It is nearly impossible to love without presence, so through service, we can practice mindfulness.

  1. Building kinship gives us a sense of purpose and helps us understand our gifts. Moreover, it helps us love and appreciate the gifts of others. When we intentionally participate in community and spend time with others, we are invited to exchange gifts with one another. This reciprocal exchange allows us to relate to one another, to give and receive support, and to deepen our sense of WHY we show up each day. 


5. We need to be in community regularly. Humans are not meant to live a completely solitary life; we thrive      in tribes or communities and have socially-wired brains. We can realize, through acts of service, the ways        we feel supported and nourished by others. We can learn from one another, laugh together, create                  together, and build community together. This brings us right back to all of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s                visions      of justice, equality, and solidarity.

  1. We are more similar than different. When we sit parallel or work side by side, we learn rather quickly that we have more in common with one another than not. Our connecting helps us internalize the message that we are all one, that we are all equal. Through acts of service we acknowledge our own humanity and the humanity of others; nothing is as humbling and inspiring as seeing yourself in another.
  1. We are happier and mentally healthier when we contribute to our community- near and far. Neuroscience shows that altruistic, heartfelt community service activities elicit feelings of satisfaction and reward. In other words, when we “do good,” we feel satisfied, and when we feel satisfied, we experience a rush of pleasure hormones similar to those released by eating sugar or earning money.

What other life lessons have you learned through service and volunteerism?

Join me in making the pledge to spend this MLK Jr. Day doing service in your local community! You can also search for and register your MLK Jr. Day event. Finally, I reccomend spending time researching events and ways to serve with your children and family. If you’d like support in this process and in developing service learning conversations in your home, e-mail me.

7 Acts of Service We Learn From Acts of Service on Martin Luther King Jr Day | RaisingWorldChildren.com |

As a Child-Centered Coach for Teens and Parents, Courtney supports children ages 11-19 in finding their voice, growing confidence, and thriving. Through 1:1 and small group coaching sessions, teens and tweens are able to overcome anxiety, disconnect, and isolation as they discover their truest sense of self and develop a deep sense of empowerment. Courtney supports parents in self-care, growing alongside their children, and in developing balanced sensitivity towards the process their child is creating. Sessions with both teens and parents guide families in developing the trust, communication, and connection that’s crucial for a life of ease. You can find out more about Courtney Harris Coaching here: https://www.facebook.com/courtneyharrisedconnect/ and https://courtneylynnharris.wixsite.com/mysite



Martin Luther King Day for Kids on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual blog hop on Martin Luther King Day for Kids! Find great ideas for commemorating MLK Day with kids and don’t miss our series from last year as well as 2016 and 2015!

Participating Blogs

Crafty Moms Share on Multicultural Kid Blogs –
Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior Book Review

Creative World of Varya: Teaching Justice to Children
Raising World Children:
7 Life Lessons Acts of Service Inspire

Jeddah Mom: Mr. Lincoln’s Way –
Children’s Book About Accepting Differences