Growing, Changing, and Learning to be Healthy

By Meg O'Connell – February 1, 2014

We have all heard the words “one door has to close for a new one to open,” and this sentiment is what a new year can symbolize. A new year brings hope for better days, new beginnings, and more wisdom than the year before.  

As a mom of three kids ranging from age 3 to 11, I always have at least one child who is experiencing a new, exciting life stage. Each one is changing before my eyes; as they grow and mature, their needs, as well as mine, remain the same. We all need good, nutritious food and exercise, and we all need our community to help support us as we grow and evolve.   

I owned a yoga studio for seven years, and that allowed me to take care of families and teachers. When I sold the studio, I found myself protecting this special community as it attempted to adapt and transform with me. Now, that group doesn’t need me in this same role; with the inevitable movement of time, things have changed, and the individuals have experienced the process of moving on, adapting, celebrating, and grieving.  

Now, it’s my turn to do the same, and my transformation is happening at home. I have the opportunity to think about myself and my family—my favorite people—freely, without feeling as though I am disappointing others. My hope is that, as I move into this new life stage, other people will find me more available and present in my relationships.  

While I take the time to focus more on my home life, I have also become increasingly aware of how each of my children’s needs differ and how I need to best support them as they develop. My 11-year-old daughter is a dancer currently in the process of applying to a fine arts school for the upcoming fall. She recently stated that she feels that dancing makes her a better student because it inspires her and creates good feelings about herself. Fortunately, my daughter has figured out at a young age that taking care of her body helps her in more than just one area of her life.   

I often hear other mothers speak about how great their kids ate before the toddler years, and my 3-year-old eats everything from broccoli to sushi. She loves food, and she especially loves good, nourishing food. I am happy that her fondness for nutritious food continues to expand, and, to assist, I make sure that the food presentation and preparation changes too. Raw broccoli, roasted broccoli, broccoli and cauliflower together—you name it, I’ve done it, and she’s eaten it. Variation is part of our dinner plate, and my little one is healthier for each new recipe. I think the meal is more appetizing if the food served is colorful and varying in texture; it makes the whole eating experience more enjoyable.  

At the same time, I have a son, age 8, who confessed that he recently experienced a side cramp for the first time. Oh, we have some work to do with being active, but what’s great is that my son has finally found a new motivation: He wants to play with his classmates. Motion might not be fueling an internal fire yet, but he is figuring out what he needs to do to be picked for a team on the playground. He wants the same opportunity as the rest of the kids. It hasn’t been easy for him so far, but he now understands how to push his body in a healthy way and how this physical exertion can make him feel better. Additionally, he is getting the chance to play with, and be a part of, a group of friends. My role here is to encourage him, to help build him up, so that he continues to feel motivated to push himself and not focus on being behind or on the failures everyone experiences.  

Each of my children is so different and unique, but they all still need guidance and an example of someone who is healthy and strong. Yoga is as much a part of my family’s life as it is my own. My husband and I actually met in a yoga class, so there is no avoiding its practice and enjoyment around here. Yoga has taught my daughter that taking deep breaths helps her when she is upset, and it has taught my son that going upside down almost always makes him feel better, even when he’s fighting off a cold.  

My children depend on these tools because they have seen me use them for years. They’ve seen, and have grown accustomed to, among many things, my green breakfast drinks, my passion for exercise, and a table set with home-cooked meals. And, although they are inspired and motivated in a variety of ways, my children are learning to find those things that makes them feel good. They’re experiencing how this internal drive toward fitness can help set them up for bigger successes in school and in life. Ultimately, they’ve learned from our healthy family practices that, when we take care of ourselves physically and emotionally, we are more prepared for the inevitable shifts and events in life…when one door closes and another one opens.



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