Grateful MondayMar. 23rd

The first day of spring arrived on Friday. It always shows up, on the calendar, and that feels like a promise even if parts of the world are still battling snow. (Like my part of the world.) I look out the window at the fresh layer that arrived overnight, at the way it settled on branches and the railing around the deck, inches of it.

snowrailing

I want to yell at it, but instead I am trying gratefulness.

The farmers needed this, for its sure-to-come melt, the way it will seep into the earth and bring up spring like a tricky gift.

And it is beautiful. It will always be beautiful, like most disguised blessings.

The kids will play in it while it lasts, boots and snow pants back out of the closet and pulled on to small legs. It is thick and bent toward snowmen and snowballs. Have at it, I tell them. It won’t last.

5 of the greenest US companies (and what they’re doing right)Mar. 18th

It seems most companies struggle to remain environmentally conscious while fighting for a successful bottom line. But there are many brands, businesses, and people behind them, fighting just as hard to remain eco-friendly with future generations in mind, and doing an amazing job of it. Kudos to them, and congratulations on the success they’ve lived without cutting sustainable corners. So to speak.

What can we learn from them?

Let’s take a look at one (oh okay, or maybe two) fun and inspiring fact(s) about each company!

1. SEVENTH GENERATION:

We love the Seventh Generation products! There are about 14 things I want to tell you about this company, but I said there would only be one fun fact each, so maybe if I try to say it all in one sentence? Seventh Generation (which got its name from the Iroquois law that demands “in our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next 7 generations) has an employee bonus program that awards workers who come up with ways to make the company’s products even more sustainable, which may be part of the reason Seventh Generation lands on the top of the list when companies are recognized for their diligence to sustainability.

2. NEW BELGIUM BREWING COMPANY

These makers of popular ales like Fat Tire are leaders in providing a workplace with sustainability in mind. This company tracks and records all of its energy use, waste production and emissions, and recycles, reuses or composts more than 75% of the waste it produces in manufacturing, while also making bikes and a Prius available to employees to run local errands.

3. Method

Many of us are familiar with the Method brand from Target stores. We recognize the pretty bottles in an instant. The guys behind this company knew what they were doing with marketing, AND they continue to show true diligence in remaining eco-conscious as a brand. Method’s appealing bottles are consciously and carefully recycled and NOW, get this: Method teamed up with local beach clean-up groups and volunteers to collect plastic debris from the beaches of Hawai’i to use for ocean plastic bottles, the first of their kind.

4. IKEA

IKEA makes a lot of earth-friendly in their manufacturing. Now they’re doing their part to help refugees. For every LEDARE light bulb purchased between February 1 and March 28, the IKEA Foundation will donate $1 to refugee camps. This company is almost always up to something good, and continues to show leadership with its sustainability-focused choices overall.

5. Patagonia

It’s no surprise that a company started by surfers and climbers would continue to focus on the environment. What might be a surprise is the success of such a grassroots start. But maybe the lesson here is that if you focus on quality and simplicity, you reach your goals. And to date, 75% of materials used at Patagonia are environmentally preferred (organic, recycled, etc.) when making their awesome outdoor clothing wares, etc.

5greenest

Grateful MondayMar. 16th

We took a walk around town, the new puppy on a leash for the first time. He didn’t even try to eat the leash all that often, and the oldest child pulled the wagon, every once and a while asking the little one, Are you having fun in there, with kindness lilting.

It was late in the afternoon and the breeze was light, the sun out, the temperature still up for the time of day.

Truth be told, life has not been kind lately. It has not turned back to ask if I’m having fun, no not at all. But I am, I can, if only I tell myself the stories of hope and light.

So we walked, drinking in each other and the beautiful day, we stared it down until it was us.

yoga and mindfulness for kids: 8 best websitesMar. 12th

There are so many websites focused on mindfulness and so many focused on yoga, and then there are those focused on BOTH. Some are geared toward adults and some are geared toward children, and some are geared toward BOTH. 

We are narrowing it down for you! (You’re welcome)

YogaMindfulness

Here is a list of some of the best websites for resources, inspiration and products, classes, and more, focused on children, yoga, and mindfulness: 

Cosmic Kids Yoga

Little Flower Yoga

Yoga Kids 

Left Brain Buddha – tips, activities, and inspiration

mindful.org – mindful magazine – tips and more

mindful kids – resources and activities 

mindful schools – curriculum, resources, training, online and in-person courses

Annaka Harris – tips on teaching mindfulness to children

And don’t forget! Playful Planet has Storyland Yoga, our award-winning children’s yoga DVD and Condor Trek, the accompanying yoga storybook. Enjoy! 

Go check these out, friends! Pin them, bookmark them, learn from all the great content.

Have a playful day!

small thingsMar. 4th

Last night I sat in a quiet diner and ate a late dinner after working a very long day. There were only a couple of other tables filled in the whole place, until a grandfather and granddaughter walked in and sat in the next booth. I couldn’t help hearing them, and was moved by their kindness toward one another. 

From generation to generation we have this opportunity to put each other first. 

He told her about his years as a sheriff, and she beamed at him, telling him that his stories are amazing and she’s so proud of him. It’s her first year of college. He asked her if her major is decided and she said she’s torn between teaching elementary or middle school. He assured her she would figure it out. 

He had liver and onions. 

He promised to take her shopping the next day. 

She told him she can’t drink coffee this late at night or she won’t sleep. He ordered milk. 

This young lady was on a break from school and she came to stay with her grandfather. She came to spend time with a man that led her family through time and supported her mother. I was reminded of the importance of giving back, not only to work toward a sustainable future for generations to come, but to honor the generations before us. 

The generations before us may not have known what we know now–about recycling, the environment and other global health issues–but here they are, many of them willing to learn. Many of whom have paved the path toward educating ourselves about the issues we face as a whole.

No matter what, the people before us raised us up and let us go, and we have the choice to take the good, and run with it, to better this place, simply because we can.

Showing up is key, friends. To Grandpa’s house. To spending time having fun with our children. To making small efforts to improve the health of our families. Even if we feel overwhelmed by the issues that face us and the pace of life, we can do small things.

Visiting grandpa, taking a loved one out for dinner, recycling, helping our neighbors, taking a walk, playing, noticing the fall colors all around, cleaning up the streets, planting gardens, giving back… 

“Do small things with great love.” Mother Theresa 

Grateful (even in winter) MondayMar. 2nd

The driveway to the elementary school is long and curvy, tucked in next to woods and a pond, a playground settled in at the bottom of the building. As we pulled in this morning, we watched the snow-suited kids, running up and down the hill, splashes of bright color they were. All the trees were painted white over night. The evergreens, the spruce, the cedar, the oaks. Gone from dark greens and drab browns to sparkling white.

Winter has a hold on the country for now. All the Facebook statuses speak of strange conditions in warmer places, and unusually extreme conditions in the wintery northern parts. People are snowed and iced in. Roads and highways are closed. So many snow days call off school and cabin fever sets in.

We are on hold for spring. And it will come.

I pointed out the kissed trees to my three small children, and they stared wide-eyed, though here in Minnesota, they see this all winter long, on and off. Then when I dropped the smallest of my set off at daycare, she gasped as the minivan door slid open and pronounced the snow-covered lawn “lovely”. Look, she said, the snow is sparkly from the sun. It is glittered!

Let’s face it, it’s getting hard for some of us to stay grateful for any kind of beauty in this long winter. But the truth remains, always, that small things are the beautiful things, and spring always comes.

Professor ChildFeb. 26th

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We believe in the power of story. And now we have discovered Professor Child and had to share this rich resource for children with you. Professor Child creates educational films that enrich a child’s understanding and supports their healing through difficult life circumstances. These powerful works are created through story-telling as children share their experience, strength, and wisdom. 

If you or someone you love could benefit from these helpful resources, check out these films: 

Children and Grief

Children and Divorce

Siblings and Autism

Children and Military Families

Professor Child also provides an excellent resource for teaching children mindfulness in Guided Meditations for Children which is available on CD or downloadable MP3 files. 

Teaching our children mindfulness through skills like meditation and yoga is a gift we can give to them as they face all of life’s changes and challenges, joys and excitement.

We’re going to be following along as Professor Child grows and provides our playful planet and its people with invaluable gifts. You can come along as well by following Professor Child on Facebook and Twitter

 

Head Start adopts Condor Trek Kids!Feb. 18th

We are beyond honored to announce that Playful Planet’s children’s yoga storybook, Condor Trek Kids, has been chosen as part of the curriculum in Head Start programs* here in California!

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 (logo from Head Start website)

Head Start serves 35 centers across these California counties….  

We could not be more honored, thrilled really, to be a part of the Head Start curriculum in these counties, and to be moving forward with so many other exciting endeavors behind the scenes. Stay tuned for more great news! (I know we keep saying that, but hey, we’ve been revealing a little at a time!)

*The Head Start Program is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families. The program’s services and resources are designed to foster stable family relationships, enhance children’s physical and emotional well-being, and establish an environment to develop strong cognitive skills. (from wikipedia)

 

Highbrow: Quality educational screen time for kids!Feb. 16th

Today screen time for our children is (so very) accessible, and mostly fun. Our kids obviously enjoy kicking back with their tech-y gadgets. What many parents and caregivers are concerned about (rightfully) is the quality of the videos their children are coming across. Are they safe? Educational? Ad-free?

We have great news for you! Highbrow is making guilt-free screen time possible by curating educational videos created by award-winning producers and newbie video makers alike. Highbrow brings children productive screen time designed to engage them and support learning. All videos are pre-screened for quality and delivered ad-free.

You and your children can choose from categories of fun and educational videos…

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(images from Highbrow) 

 

Highbrow also allows you to choose videos by age ranges…

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(images from Highbrow)

One of the best parts about Highbrow is how videos are curated. They have made it possible for you and I, teachers, producers and directors, and other grown-ups, to submit videos for consideration, and then if accepted, they pay video creators for sharing their work through Highbrow.

Playful Planet’s Storyland Yoga videos, and more, can be found on Highbrow now! 

To keep up with what we have to offer through Highbrow, click this cute lil’ owl and stay connected! 

We got to hang out with Riane Eisler!Feb. 2nd

 

“Recovering our lost relationship with nature does not just entail replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent bulbs; we’ve got to replace the stories and assumptions that broke that relationship in the first place with a partnership story that works.”  –Riane Eisler

We had the opportunity to visit with Riane Eisler to shoot a video for PlayfulTube. Riane graciously opened her home to us in Carmel, CA, and made us instantly feel like old friends. After a powerful one-hour interview, in which Riane’s eloquence, accessibility and laser detail left us in awe, she asked Karen and I to take a walk around her neighborhood. The sun was setting as we journeyed down the hill under a canopy of Monterey Pines. Riane held my arm as we traversed the rough terrain of an open field and witnessed the luminescent golds and oranges of the setting rays of sun as it disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t until we returned that I learned that Riane is 84 years old and had escaped the Nazis as a child! This remarkable woman is an inspiration, a powerful change agent and the real deal–gracious, joyful, humble, and funny. 

Rianne & Us

Bryan, Karen, Riane, at sunset.

Riane’s success goes beyond even her law degree, distinguished awards, and her ability to create and share valuable lectures to the likes of Congress and the UN General Assembly. These are all impressive, lovely, and inspirational things, but what sustains Riane is impactful because of where her abilities come from–her heart and mind breathe hope for a peaceful future. She lives the values of a belief system that can change our lives, our relationships and, most importantly, our dysfunctional violent ways. She believes in teaching our kids, and everyone, the power of sustaining peace and equality in our relationships and what that could mean for the future of our species and our planet.

“Why, when we humans have such a great capacity for caring, consciousness, and creativity, has our world seen so much cruelty, insensitivity, and destructiveness? This question has driven my research.” – Riane Eisler

 

Don’t miss what Riane had to share with us, friends:

“Our real wealth consists of the contributions of people and of nature.

We need an economic system that truly values the most important

human work: the work of caring for people, starting in early childhood,

and caring for nature.” -Riane Eisler