S.O.S. for Moms~Save our Summers with Systems of Sanity!

Pull up a chair in this S.O.S. Roundtable for Moms led by life-organizer, Kelly Salasin.

Kelly will guide you in setting intentions for yourself–and your family as she shares her top organizational  systems (aka. “place holders”)–just in time for summer vacation!

Hittorf, Jakob (visipix.com)

Roundtable participants will benefit from the combined wisdom of the fellow moms as well as from Kelly’s systematic & spiritual pursuit of a simpler, saner & sweeter life at home with kids. Click here to find out more about Kelly.

The Systems of Sanity! (SOS) Roundtable is the third in a series of Home & Family Life workshops for moms.  Register now to hold your place :
-Tuesday, June 22, 2010, 6:30-9:00 pm.

Or contact Kelly for more information: 802-254-7724.

Cost is $35 (or $25 each for 2 moms) and includes Kelly’s famous popcorn, collage & membership in “Kelly’s Roundtable” an on-line forum where moms can “gather” for support & inspiration all summer long!

Bring your questions, your challenges & your inspiration as we energize our homes with routines that create more manageability and meaning in our lives with children.

Gatherings take place in Marlboro, VT just minutes from Brattleboro, Wilmington, Newfane & more. Additional information to follow registration.

Kelly Salasin



How FULL is YOUR Plate?

Join the gathering of women as we take a look at the question:

How FULL is YOUR Plate?

This is the second in a series of Home & Family Life Gatherings for Women during which we’ll explore a fun approach to engage your family in the process of noticing what it takes to run a home.

Contribution creates belonging and harmony in the home~ freeing up precious time and energy for other connections.

The  How FULL is YOUR Plate? activity takes a creative look at the distribution of tasks & responsibilities within your household– with the possibility of creating greater contribution and balance.  Tips and techniques for managing the household will be shared~ from the practical to the spiritual.

You’ll benefit from my household (and business) organizational experience as well as each others.  Most of all, you (& your family) will gain awareness and appreciation of each others role in the home. (Note:  The How FULL is YOUR Plate? activity can be applied to businesses too.)

To find out more about my background and offerings, click here or contact me.

To read more on the importance of chores & family participation, click here.

To read about other Home & Family Life offerings, click here or search the “coaching” listing under Writing Topics in the right sidebar.

The Gift of Christmas “Presence”

If we are forever yearning for ‘more,’ we are forever discounting what is offered.” Julia Cameron

You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.” – Stewart Emery

Kelly Salasin

I remember the morning that the Christmas “train” took my son on the journey from innate graciousness to maniacal greed to absolute dissolution.  He was three.

Since becoming parents, neither my husband or I got much sleep on Christmas Eve with the anticipation of our son’s joy.   That first Christmas, he was only a few months old… so it wasn’t exactly what we’d been waiting for.

His second Christmas was much more satisfying–though fleeting.  After unwrapping a handful of presents, our one year old simply refused to look at any more.  He shook his head “No,” to each pushy request from his parents, finally exiting the room to make his point– teaching us about “too much.”

By his third Christmas, however, our two-year old had fully joined the culture of gluttony. He never left the room once until everything was opened, upon which he said very matter of factly, “I want Santa bring more.”

The turning point, from graciousness to greed, came at our son’s fourth Christmas. Like a train wreck, we watched  it unfold right before our eyes.  The morning started out sweet enough, as he played with each “present.”   But soon his pace began to quicken, and he began ripping apart paper without even looking to see from whom the gift came; and then he began opening one after another without taking notice of what was he received.

Ironically,  we had once begged our son to keep opening gifts, while now, we scolded  him to slow down.  But he couldn’t stop himself.  He just kept plowing through the present(s) until there was nothing left– at which point he collapsed into tears, completely unsatisfied with his bounty of gifts.

We” had created a monster!

After that year, we encouraged the relatives to send less– and since that was mostly a hopeless cause– we bought much less ourselves, even re-gifting things from year to year.  That same Santa Moose showed up each Christmas along with holiday themed books, films and toys.

By 5 years old, our son had so many things that there was no need to buy more once our second son came along.   So we kept re-gifting–wrapping up forgotten treasures each Christmas.  Eventually, what was found under the tree was much more of what was needed~ new bed pillows, a ski coat, a sled to replace the broken one. The few toys that our sons did receive were treasured more and more.  Last year’s gift of digital cameras were played with for days on end.

Each year, we reigned Christmas in just a bit more–even cutting back on feasting and celebrations to create the space needed for the feelings we treasured most~ magic and grace and generosity.

But it’s still a slippery slope–for me.  I begin each holiday gently just as my son began that Christmas morning that transformed him from gracious to greedy.  As the weeks progress, I begin to need “more” and anxiety grips my stomach with both desire and fear.  Will I have enough?  How will I pay for it?  Am I missing out on the experience of abundance by not buying?

Soon the addictive aspect of consumerism kicks in and I reach the maniacal turning point of just wanting to shop and spend, spend, spend.

That’s where I found myself last night— coming out of the beverage store with a costly bottle of Baileys Irish Creme. I don’t even drink it anymore, but it was the holidays, and I used to love it, and everyone was buying fancy liquors, and it was the season, and I wanted to be fully part of it–even though I had just bemoaned that that I had just spent most of my budget for the month on fancy foods for the holidays.

I joined the throngs of shoppers at department stores in last minute shopping and filled my cart with things I wanted to give and to get.  I was rapturous with desire, craving the feeling of plenty!

And then I remembered my son.  I recalled how his rapture turned to dissillusionment –and I felt my own within it.  I restrained myself from a big covetous purchase and I returned another.

I began to soften.

I let the need for “more” go… and today, I sink into a slow pace with Christmas carols and cookies and writing about the gift of “presence” that needs—plenty of empty space— to be received.


“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.”~Wayne Dyer

December Delights~ FEELING into the New Year

It’s that time of year again. Who knows what I’ll bring home to today…


One of my favorite December pleasures is the annual selection of a new calendar for my home and desk. I pick up mine the first weekend of the month when the “One and Only Brattleboro” (Vermont) hosts their annual “Holly Days”–with 20% off at each store.

Over time these calendar choices have expressed my greatest passions over the course of my life.   I can look back at my years of Impressionist Art, my years of travel photography, and my years of spiritual teachings–and find something out about myself that is still true.

I use the opportunity of selecting a new calendar to intentionally deepen my attention to what is important to me–and to better define it.

A few years back, my choices dramatically shifted to political and social activism.  That was a demanding year of new edges.  Last year, I swung back at bit toward my personal preference for internal work–with a cultural twist.

The family wall Calender that I chose for 2010 was “Breath of Words~The Arabic Calligraphy of Abd el Malik Nounouhi.” Given the state of world affairs, there seems no better time to develop a continued appreciation and understanding of other cultures and traditions.

My personal desk calendar is entitled, “The Sacred Journey–a daily journal for your soul” which is a thick and lofty book, providing lots of space for guided journaling, as well as calendar notes.

I usually opt for a light and airy day calendar, but I chose this one to better integrate my day-to-day plans with my deepest inner desires.

This calendar provides opening pages to record intentions for the entire year, including: my  heart’s calling, my credo, my service and even my birthday.  Goals are broken down into: creative expression, personal growth, financial, career, physical health and well-being–to name just half of them!

This type of “hawk-eye” view on the year, though time-consuming, is very much in line with my approach toward life:  live it moment to moment, but be intentional about the moments with regular time set aside for short-term and long-term thinking–and feeling–into the year.

Each  month has pages to list goals and record highlights, as well as space for sharing gratitude, affirmation and symbolism.

Each week has a page to record: blessings, gifts and strengths.  I use the latter to record my responses to the Life Organizer, another favorite resource for guiding weekly intentions.

Though I crave variety, and the delight in the annual tradition of choosing something new, this year I’ve decided to use both The Life Organizer and The Sacred Journey Calender again.

My mind is disappointed, but there’s a deeper part of me that knows that these resources are invaluable allies in aligning what I want with what I do as I continue to create my life from the inside out.

May your new year provide the same in every way you choose to claim it!

Kelly Salasin 2009, 2010, 2011

ps. Although I picked up the same personal calendars for 2010, I went out a completely new limb with the family calendar, surprising the whole family by bringing home one with comic strips.

Budget Myths & other FAQ

Budgets are the new black,”

USAA Financial Magazine Cover

Kelly Salasin

Before I ever used a budget, I had many (conflicting) notions about them:

They were only for people who had “extra” money.

They were only for people who really struggled financially.

They were for boring people who led rigid lives and preferred to dwell in the nitty gritty.

They took too much time.

They cramped ‘your style.’

Now that I’ve personally experienced budgeting for over a decade, I can say that all the above are:  TRUE— to some degree–and FALSE, to quite another.

My biggest surprise around budgeting is that it lends FREEDOM rather than takes it away; But not on the surface–which is where many assess their lives.

On the surface, budgeting does take time, it does dwell in the details, and it does put containers around your spending “style”, but what it gives in return–PEACE of MIND–is worth every ounce of your resistance.

I didn’t start budgeting until my income was crunched so tightly that I began to rack up a credit card bill on groceries.  That budget, however painful, let me sleep at night.  Later, when our finances expanded, that same budget grew with us, allowing us to prioritize that which was most important to us–namely continued peace of mind, family vacations, increased charity and new shoes.

When we were again faced with an income crunch in the form of unemployment, that same budget stood by our side, supporting us through 2+ years of sanity without accruing credit card debt.

In return for what the budget gives us, we  give back to the budget in the form of a weekly financial meeting that keeps us “current” and “proactive” which helps avoid the stress of continual financial “surprises.”

The Holidays are a great time to “play” with the idea of using a budget. Focusing on this one aspect of spending is simple– and rewarding–and what better time of year to enjoy the true peace of mind that a budget can offer!

In the New Year, you can choose to expand the “practice” of budgeting to other areas of spending–and in the process nurture a friendship that will stick with you–through thick and through thin.

(To schedule a private holiday budgeting tutorial in person or via phone/internet, contact Kelly. For information about the upcoming Holiday Budget Party in Southern Vermont on Sunday, December 6, click here.)

Holiday Budgeting Workshop for Women

Sunday, December 6, 2009

1:30 -3:30 p.m.

Marlboro, Vermont

$15–early registration/ $20 regular

(materials & refreshments included)

Establish clarity, manageability & peace of mind as we come together to create spending plans for the holiday season.

Each participant will create a (wallet-sized) holiday budget keeper to track expenses, organize receipts & simplifying shopping lists/needs.

Light refreshments will be served. Materials & music provided!

Optional: bring beads, yarn/string, thick paper, stickies, et al for personalizing your keeper as desired.

Note: Once established, the holiday budgeting system can be expanded to include other areas of spending. A follow up workshop will take place in January for those wanting support with this extended application.

RSVP/Class size limited. More information to follow registration. (802)254-7724.  To schedule an affordable, private “holiday budgeting” tutorial (in person or via phone/net,) contact Kelly.

Bio: Lifelong educator, Kelly Salasin has been surviving, thriving & relying on the practice of budgeting for peace of mind for over a decade. Her previous work includes serving as treasurer/book keeper for various non-profits, as well as supporting individuals/family with household management systems.


“I sound like a housewife.  I think I’m a housewife.”

Michelle Shocked, Anchorage

by Kelly Salasin

This is the moment that I’m coming out of the closet and admitting that: I, Kelly Salasin, once a wild thing, a world traveler, a self-proclaimed feminist at 12, a careerist even younger  and a lifelong liberalist, admit that I have become a:  housewife.

It’s worse than that.  Not only am I a housewife, but I’ve also resorted to seeking out my own personal, online coach to help me master:  housekeeping. Her name is:  Flylady.  It’s a strange name, but she was free and I was desperate and the two became one.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but I log onto FlyLady.net every morning to get my daily cleaning instructions; and I’m not alone–hundreds of thousands of people around the world join me–and it’s time you did!

As a born again housewife, I feel it  my duty to help you see the light of a manageable home.  Don’t feel ashamed to reach out.  Even though I graduated college with honors, ran a restaurant at 19 and supervised countless programs, I could not muster what it took to manage a household on my own.

To be fair, I never planned to be a “housewife,” to build a life around a family like my mother did.  My aim was to always have more important work to do. Yet, once I moved out of the home my mother kept, I had to learn to take care of my own–or hire someone else to do it–which I never wanted to afford.

It was a challenge, but I was never around much, so things stayed relatively simple.  That was until I took a room mate (aka lover)– a man who loved to fill horizontal surfaces like a dog pees on every tree.  Each and every  counter top, bureau, table was covered in  tiny notes he wrote to himself, receipts, pocket change, tools–you name it.

Still, he was a good guy who pitched in with all the really lowdown work (dishes and laundry and toilets and such) so I had it pretty nice until two became three.

With the addition of a third room mate–a baby–things grew exponentially  complicated.  I quickly discovered how unprepared my college degree left me for the role my mother led.  Overnight, I had become a housewife without training.   It was never my plan to sign up for that job– I stayed home for the baby, not the house!

Fast-forward a handful of years, and the baby replicates himself.  Now he has a brother.  I’m still at home “for the kids,” but little by little, I resign myself to the job of housekeeper.  I still have the same supportive new-age guy in my life, but even that doesn’t cut it with four of us living under one roof.

For years I complain about this housework beast, knowing that some day the kids would move out and things would be orderly again.  Don’t they say that childhood passes in the blink of an eye?  Why then were my eyes constantly open to the growing chaos that surrounded me– for another 20 years?

Eventually,  I grew tired of my own whining and incompetence, and decided I needed a plan.  I had to finally take this role of housewife more seriously, just like I did with all those other roles that were “more important.”

My approach was an educated one. Covertly, I began reading any book on the subject of home management.  I invested in new cleaning supplies with clever plastic caddies to hold them.   I devised flow charts and schedules of weekly chores, meals, and household projects.

Still, something was missing.  I felt alone in my new career without colleagues.  The mothers I knew didn’t seemed to care about the chaos, and the ones in the books– seemed to care so much that they spent every ounce of their energy and creativity on subduing it.

This is how I found the “FLY LADY” and  my fellow “fly babies.”  I still feel funny every time I mention them, but other housewives and husbands are pretty interested so I guess this is “important stuff” after all.

All I can say is, it works.  And it works for lots of people, and some of them must be as cool as me–they can’t all exist to keep their homes clean.  We each have one thing in common however, and that is: “routines” (FlyLady’s touchstone).

I’ve  always had a love/hate relationship with routine, but it’s the automaticity of them that has made taking care of my house more “doable”.  I no longer have to look around and wonder, “Where do I start?” only to decide,  “Why bother!”

If any of this sounds familiar, you might want to check out the lady in the purple tutu yourself.   Keep in mind that she doesn’t allow whining and insists on you taking “baby steps”.   She’ll send you your own personal FLYmail if you like (and don’t worry, it’s all free).  I’ve got three sisters on board (that’s how I first heard about her), and my stepfather, and now my boss at my part-time job (I confided in her about it one evening when she was stressed out about the clutter in her office).

Soon, you too will be using FlyLady lingo, asking,  “Do you know what Zone we’re in this week?”  and “Don’t you love those 5 Minute Room Rescues!” and “Hey kids, it’s time for a 27 Fling Boogie;  let’s put out those Hot Spots while we’re at it!

As for me, it’s Thursday, and I’m off to begin my weekly “Home Blessing.” It sounds so important said that way; making me proud to be the one doing the job.

(PS.  Why is the housewife coach called FLYLADY?  Head to her site and see!)

From the Mouths of Babes

In our somewhat contentious family meeting this morning, Lloyd compared me to a character from Greek mythology who ate all of his 8 children because he found out that one of them planned to kill him. This in response to the fact that his inconsistent completion of household responsibilities resulted in my installation of time constraints.

Kelly Salasin


“You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.”

Stewart Emery

“Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.”

George Carlin

“If we have become a people so self-centered that we are willing to step over a lifeless body to get a bargain, we have problems that go beyond terrorists, a credit crunch and bad mortgages.”

Bob Shieffer

Kelly Salasin

Last week, we spent an entire morning working on the chaos of toys, games and gagets in the cellar with our son Aidan.
There were tears and yelling and complete family meltdowns.
He and we were– and are– overwhelmed by how much there is to manage.

Once again, we’ve created beautiful, manageable order; and we’ve agreed that at 8 years old, Aidan will be accountable for that which he wishes to keep.
That said, how appropriate is it for us to allow our child to be immersed in stuff and then to berate him for it? With Christmas on the horizon and his bedroom wobbling on the constant precipice of cluttered chaos, what’s a family to do?

Surely, everyone loves new things and it is a delight for us as parents to “present” thembut at what cost? Isn’t it a call to action when fellow Americans crush another human being in order to get the best deal in Wal-Mart?

In some ways, consumerism is easier on our family than others because we just can’t afford to buy much of anything, particularly this year with my husband’s continued unemployment. This limitation forces us to put needs, desires and holiday shopping in perspective with the rest of the country and the economy.

And yet, even we– in our modest one-income rural life– are responsible for passing on the culture of “stuff” to our children.

Did you know that one of the largest growing markets in this country is– “storage”? People buy storage units for their extra things while other human beings live on the streets. Something is off with this picture, isn’t it?  And it’s off for all of us–not just the poor or the wealthy.

Imagine what we could do with our time and energy if we didn’t spend it managing our stuff— and that includes everything from our houses to our bills to our cars and our nicknacks and family treasures and photos and catalog orders and box store purchases and boats and bikes and…

With an “overstuffed” mind, I searched for support with this crisis and found two solid resources that I’d like to pass on:

The first gem is a “clutter-free gift list” posted by parents at Flylady.com.  Ideas include:

recording books on tape

-family memberships to local museums

-gift certificates for art classes.

Clutter free gift guides are available on the site for each age group–from preschoolers to college. You can also surf <flylady.com> for tips on decluttering your home and your life.

So called for her love of fly fishing, “Fly Lady” is a self-described “personal on-line coach to help you gain control of your house and home.”  Her “services” are free in the form of daily email reminders. You can also follow on her Twitter and Facebook.

A popular offering on the Fly Lady site each year is the “Holiday Control Guide,” complete with weekly Holiday Cruising Missions—“so that you can sail through the holidays.”  FlyLady covers everything from cleaning to shopping to budgeting to decluttering.

While “decluttering” doesn’t address the problem of “stuff” at its roots, it does offer some breathing room while we re-think our priorities.

The new book, Simplicity Parenting, by Australian born educator Kim John Payne, is just the place to do some of that re-thinking. Each chapter highlights both the philosophy and tools of “Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids.”

Payne’s trademark compassion and sense of humor make this an enjoyable and practical read.  Chapter Three of Simplicity Parenting discusses the toll of “too much stuff” on our children’s emotional and mental health.

Payne offers a “10-Point Checklist” of types of toys to discard and suggests getting rid of half of them—and then another half— and maybe even another half–while holding on to those sentimental items that are most precious to your child.

Surprisingly, Payne applies the same approach to books, as well as clothes and other items that crowd a child’s life.  Even lighting and “scents” are addressed as issues of “too much.”

Embrace experience over things, and ‘enough’ over always more,” counsels Payne who works on behalf of social well being in schools and communities around the world. “Clear out space, literally and emotionally (to create) a container for relationship and the slow unfolding of childhood.”

Simplicity Parenting is published by Random House and is widely available at local bookstores and on line.  For more information about Payne’s work, see <www.simplicityparenting.com>.

As parents it is often a challenge to feel that we are “enough.”  This may be the root of our constant striving toward “more.”  Perhaps if we slow down and take the time to notice just how much we truly have, our need for “more” will dissipate and our holidays will be filled with just “enough” of all the truly good “stuff.”

From our stuff to yours,
Hoping for more nice stuff,
Kelly & family

Note: Your voice welcome here.  As a parent, how do you manage the “stuff”of childhood?  What do you think about our “culture of stuff”?