New Year, New Laughs

I laugh loudest when I laugh with friends. When my laughter is among the trusted individuals who laugh with me. It is my mission to help create an environment where I am able to laugh loud, where there is trust and confidence... for only then can we freely laugh at ourselves.

"As children, we laugh hundreds of times each day, delighted by the newness of living. When we reach adulthood, however, we tend to not allow ourselves to let go in a good belly laugh. Inviting laughter back into our lives is simply a matter of making the conscious decision to laugh. Though most of us are incited to laugh only when exposed to humor or the unexpected, each of us is capable of laughing at will. A laugh that comes from the belly carries with it the same positive effects whether prompted by a funny joke or consciously willed into existence. When our laughter comes from the core of our being, it permeates every cell in our physical selves, beginning in the center and radiating outward, until we are not merely belly laughing but rather body laughing.

Laughter has been a part of the human mode of expression since before evolution granted us the art of speech. Through it, we connected with allies while demonstrating our connection with people we didn't know. In the present, laughter allows us to enjoy positive shared experiences with strangers and loved ones alike. Yet solitary laughter carries with it its own slew of benefits. An energetic and enthusiastic bout of whole-body laughter exercises the muscles, the lungs, and the mind in equal measure, leaving us feeling relaxed and content. When we laugh heartily at life's ridiculousness instead of responding irritably, our focus shifts. Anger, stress, guilt, and sadness no longer wield any influence over us, and we are empowered to make light of what we originally feared. Laughter also opens our hearts, letting love and light in, changing our perspective, and enabling us to fix our attention on what is positive in our lives.

It is easy to laugh when we feel good, but it is when the world appears dim that we most need laughter in our lives. Our laughter then resonates through our hearts, filling the empty spaces with pure, unadulterated joy. We regain our footing in the moment and remember that no sorrow is powerful enough to rob us of our inborn happiness. When we understand that uninhibited laughter is the food of the soul, nourishing us from within, we know instinctively that life is worthwhile." Madisyn Taylor, Daily Om

Sincerely,

Carly Alacahan
President
president@gcsmomsleague.org

Emotional Vampires

The holidays, the time of year we are blessed to be around family. The time of year that we look forward to; making memories with our children, taking pictures and creating traditions. Some moms might agree that this time of year can also be very taxing. Being around family isn't always a favorite...and is there anyone who doesn't have the crazy uncle or aunt? Or the cousin that NOBODY wants to be around but everyone invites anyway... because, well, it's Christmas?

I found this essay to be relevant and helpful, and so, rather than rewording something that was already so well written, I would simply share it with you all. I hope you glean from it all that I did during this time of year. Sometimes breaking bread with family can lead us to a broken heart. Just know you aren't alone... somewhere across the city is another mom overcooking her ham and wishing her kids would stop dunking their breadcrumbs in their iced water.... So here is Madisyn Taylor's bit on relationships with vampires. 

"Relationships are always an energy exchange. To stay feeling our best, we must ask ourselves: Who gives us energy? Who saps it? It's important to be surrounded by supportive, heart-centered people who make us feel safe and secure. It's equally important to pinpoint the emotional vampires, who, whether they intend to or not, leech our energy.

To protect your sensitivity, it's imperative to name and combat these emotional vampires. They're everywhere: coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends. Most of us haven't been educated about draining people or how to emancipate ourselves from their clutches, requisite social skills for everyone desiring freedom. Emotional draining is a touchy subject. We don't know how to tactfully address our needs without alienating others. The result: We get tongue-tied, or destructively passive. We ignore the SOS from our gut that screams, "Beware!" Or, quaking in our boots, we're so afraid of the faux pas of appearing "impolite" that we become martyrs in lieu of being respectfully assertive. We don't speak out because we don't want to be seen as "difficult" or uncaring.

Vampires do more than drain our physical energy. The super-malignant ones can make you believe you're an unworthy, unlovable wretch who doesn't deserve better. The subtler species inflict damage that's more of a slow burn. Smaller digs here and there can make you feel bad about yourself such as, "Dear, I see you've put on a few pounds" or "It's not lady-like to interrupt." In a flash, they've zapped you by prodding areas of shaky self-worth.

This is my credo for vampires: Their antics are unacceptable; you must develop a successful plan for coping with them. I deeply believe in the merciful message of The Lord's Prayer to "forgive people their trespasses," but I'm also a proponent of preventing the unconscious or mean-spirited from trespassing against us. Taking a stand against draining people is a form of self-care and canny communication that you must practice to give your freedom legs."

I will add that maybe I wasn't always willing to give my freedom legs...until the vampires had to break bread with my babies. Food for thought over the next few weeks. Don't be afraid to "lay low" and avoid the heartache that can sometimes come from toxic family and friends. You aren't alone.

And now, eggnog and caroling... and a lot of jingling all the way!

Carly Alacahan
President
president@gcsmomsleague.org

Can I Do More?

What are we preparing our children for?

I recently learned that in today's world, middle class parents are spending more time with their children than they did in 1965, when most mothers were not even in the work force. But with the ever-changing world we live in, what are preparing our kids for? And why does it feel like I am not yet doing enough for them?

We tend to think that if we aren't trying everything, we are basically doing nothing to prepare our kids for the unknown future. We have carved out time for the extra curriculars, the art and music, the brix classes and foreign language weekend classes. At night in the years as early as kindergarten, we do homework before and after dinner, rush through bath time and hope a short story is chosen for bedtime reading. Maybe this craziness, this parenting crisis- is just ME. Anyone else running like their hair is on fire? Yet, most days, it still doesn't feel like it is enough.

Tiger moms, hippie moms, helicopter moms or drones- Drone Moms (ha) our children's happiness is paramount for us all. The one thing we have in common is this undying desire for our kids to be happy. But how do we teach children to be happy and self-confident? Have we received unfair burdens? We are so busy shielding our kids from the worlds realities, the Oscar the Grouches of the world, but in this shielding and all of the teaching and the extracurriculars, are we in fact making time for happy kids? I often battle between the "cuddles in bed on Sunday morning" vs the "breakfast at the table and ready for church" Sunday mornings. Weekends getting ready for Monday or watching movies in our pajamas...? How can we be so stretched- is it because I cannot choose? It doesn't feel like it is enough- even being so stretched I often have guilty moments of "I can do more."

The first words whispered into my children's ears after birth, "I will try so hard to make you happy and to keep you healthy. I will try so hard to not hurt you." In our desperate quest to create happy kids, I might have skipped over sane. Sane kids. I have read books and listened to talks, I have seen counselors and priests... I have prayed a lot. There is no measurement of how I am doing as a mother- and it appears as though my own grading system is an unfair one. At the end of most weeks I try to tally up what went well and could have been better... but most nights I go to bed feeling like I could have done more. Cooked more vegetables, put more hot food on the table, volunteered more, taught them about more, read more, done more at their school, planned their outfits (so they didn't look crazy) more... more, more, more.

Today I have been in bed all day fighting strep or an ear infection or both. I think one of the kids I want to do so much more for gave it to me. I haven't been able to do much at all. Had bone broth and let them have dry cereal. I slept. I cannot do more today and it is possible that all of those nights doing more-more-more- have finally caught up. Again. You won't learn balance here, ladies. I am still on a quest to find the perfect parenting equation that makes me both a fantastic and inspiring mother, a reliable and responsible adult and a loving and healthy wife... but today it is Passion Tango tea with lots of honey and some very old magazines in bed. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to do more.
 

Carly Alacahan
President
president@gcsmomsleague.org

Have You Changed?

Last week, I went out to Dallas to listen to Glennon Doyle speak to a fairly large group of local women. It was GLORIOUS and AWESOME, in my humble opinion. Glennon was funny and engaging and I felt truly connected to her. I also saw a friend who happened to be in town from Maine- whom I had not seen in over 6 years. I don't know what I was expecting, but I know I wasn't expecting to answer such difficult questions during what felt like a VERY long drive home. I wasn't expecting her questions to still linger, days later.

Good grief. "Do you feel you have changed, darling? Because, I feel you have changed. Are you Happy?"

Oh. My. Goodness. ARE YOU SERIOUS?

Be honest. Are you the same person you were 7 years ago? Are you the same person you were 15 years ago? The same young lady you were sophomore year? Really. Are you? Can I tell you what I realized on that ride home? I realized it was a hard and twisted question to ask me while driving, and more so, to have me admit it out loud.

I have, in fact, changed. I am VERY different than the woman she remembered. Once I admitted it, I smiled and let out a sigh of relief. THANK GOODNESS I have changed. Thank goodness.

For example, today, I am a bit more patient. I wait on longer lines without huffing and puffing. I. Have. Kids. and couldn't possibly get away with being as impatient as I was in my twenties and still "patiently wait" for my kids to buckle up, put their shoes on or finish their breakfast. Getting in or out of the car, crossing the parking lot or choosing the ONE toy they earned for good behavior would have sent the 20-year old me off the deep end. So, I am patient now. HOURS. HOURS of being patient.

I took notice that I am a better listener, too. I take turns to speak and I listen more intentionally than ever before. That is a great relief for the little voices tugging at my ears for attention and mic time. How would I hear what is on their minds and in their hearts if I hadn't slowed down the chatting to listen?

I don't call out. I can't call out! I can barely get sick! And even if I am sick, I cannot call out! This is it. This is more than a job- these people really really depend on my NOT CALLING OUT.

I read more, eat healthier, dance to a different song (does Frozen count?). I drive more carefully, double check a lot and explain more (goodness, a lot more). I am more open minded, worry a bit more and plan more efficiently. I work hard to be prepared and am more flexible when things don't go as planned (like a blow out; a diaper blow-out is never part of the plan). I am less rigid - I have changed because my priorities have changed. I have changed because my expectations are different and because my entire LIFE is different.

In this life - like most of you- I have been burned, I have been cheered for, I have been hurt and loved. I have lost a child. I have buried loved ones and moved away from all I know. I have tripped and fallen on my words- I have stumbled on my actions. I have changed. These experiences have helped me change. And, I have carried on. How in the world was I expected to stay the same? And honestly, who in the world would want to? Some might say that these kids "broke me down." I loudly and proudly say it is the opposite. These kids have helped to build me up. These kids have helped me to evolve and grow. This experience of motherhood has made me crazy in all the right ways.

I have evolved. I have grown. I am stretched in ways I never imagined- sometimes to the point of intensity and discomfort. I am tired- holy crap I am tired- but I AM HAPPY. I AM HAPPY I HAVE CHANGED, because that 'sometimes- crazy- girl from the college dorm sophomore year' or that 'could-be-very rigid sales exec from just a few years ago' would NOT be the most suitable fit for all of the stretching, waiting, and listening I am having to do around here!

Change is inevitable. I will embrace it and evolve- and I will remember fondly all the phases of this thing called life. Because really.... Who wants to be a crazy college kid forever? I will carry on.

In the words of my friend, Glennon... #CarryOnWarriors

 

Carly Alacahan
President
president@gcsmomsleague.org

Welcome to GCS Moms League, 2017-2018!

It's going to be a great year. The board is working tirelessly to make this year a memorable one in which our children and families will thrive within the supportive arms of GCSML. I couldn't be more proud to be part of such an amazing group of women.

This year, my family celebrates three years in Texas- and the million times the 'all-knowing-definitely-smarter than I am' grandparents said, "Time Flies," they were far from kidding, if only I had known. So many of the adages I heard when I became a mother have held true, though they were initially met with an eye roll and some resistance.

"Time Flies," as they said.... Is one of them. "Don't wish your days away," "It takes a village," "This too shall pass," "To understand your parents' love, you must raise children yourself," "Home is where the heart is," "Like father, like son" (ouch) and countless others. I admit that the one that is most relevant here TODAY is the one specific to the village. Having moved here only three years ago with no family to count on made a village more important and more necessary than I ever dreamed- and for this village, I am most grateful.

I am not alone. In fact, a great number of the moms in our league are also transplants looking for their "village." And we, you and I, we are the makeup of the village- at least a part of it. It turns out that the village isn't only for the help with our children and parenting advice, but this village is also for the help and aide of our HEARTS. We have so much in common and it is that common thread that has brought us here. Whether it be the desire to get out of the house to do something other than work, or compare notes on what is or isn't okay with our two-year-old... to discuss our health, our parents or our husbands- we come together. We look across the room for that inviting gaze that says.... "yes, I get YOU!"

In working more closely with these other mothers of the village recently, I also have learned so much. I suddenly feel like a part of something larger than myself, I feel the pride that settles in the hearts of those working together to move a project along. A group of women who won't just comfort each other should a plan go awry- but who will also revel in the celebration when we jointly achieve SUCCESS with the partners, the village, who have been by our sides throughout this motherhood journey.

I would ask that we all think of these words, "It takes a village," as we move forward as members of the Mom's League this year. I ask that you consider becoming a part of the quilt, of the fabric that will make this year a memorable one. We are so grateful for this village, welcoming local moms and transplant moms- new moms and experienced moms- stay at home moms and drive to work moms. Because it is the makeup of these different patterns that will make our beautiful quilt one for the treasure chest.

I can't wait to "village" with you-

Welcome to our GCS Moms League 2017-2018!

Carly Alacahan
President
president@gcsmomsleague.org

First General Meeting of the 2016-17 Year

We are ready to kick off another fantastic GCS Mom's League Year with our first General Meeting of 2016-17 on Friday, September 9th! 

We've got a great speaker, some fabulous sponsors, and a tasty breakfast lined up.  Please come join us for a morning of Mom-friendly fun!

General Meeting Info:

Friday, September 9, 2016 at 9:30 AM 

First United Methodist Church

1000 Church St.

Colleyville

Meetup link:  https://www.meetup.com/GCSMomsLeague/events/233729214/

September's Speaker:

Laura McClellan, host of "The Productive Woman" podcast

http://theproductivewoman.com/

 

Laura McClellan is a lawyer, a writer, a productivity enthusiast, and a tech geek. Married for 37+ years to her high school sweetheart, with whom she's raised five amazing kids, she's passionate about encouraging women in their individual journeys as people, wives, mothers, citizens. 

A big thank you to this month's meeting sponsors:

2016-17 Membership is now OPEN!

It's that time of year again! Time to renew your GCSML Membership.  New to Mom's League?  This is the perfect time to join! 

GCS Mom's League has a little something for everyone.  While our membership is predominately stay-at-home-moms with younger children (infants to pre-schoolers), we also have many members with school-aged children as well as working moms.  

We have monthly general meetings with fun and informative speakers, ladies night out, playgroups, holiday parties, and much more! Join today to get membership benefits all year! 

CLICK HERE TO JOIN OR RENEW TODAY

FEBRUARY GENERAL MEETING

Please join us for the February General Meeting on Friday, the 5th.  As usual, coffee and a light breakfast will be served from Cafe Express.  Our featured speaker for this month is Nordstrom. Just in time for Valentine's Day, Nordstrom will be speaking to us about fitting the perfect bra for you.  

The meeting will run from 9:30 to 11:30 am at Colleyville First United Methodist Church. It is open to all current members, as well as those considering joining the League.

Child care (provided by Adventure Kids at the meeting location) is available to members  for $5. Make your childcare reservation online here

**For the benefit of all members, we request that you use this service for all children over the age of 10 months.