When nature calls for a big snow storm, enjoy it with your kids.

A YOLO SNOW STORM

If you are living in the northeast region of the US, there is a great deal of snow outside. Hopefully you can work from home or take the day off when a really big snow storm hits. Have some fun with the kids! They will remember this time with their parents.

My Top 5 Favorite Things to do with the Kids in the Snow:

  1. Build a snowman
  2. Go sledding
  3. Make snow angels
  4. After playing outside, make hot chocolate
  5. Play board games and/or watch a favorite movie – Monopoly? “Frozen” anyone?

YOLO (You Only Live Once) – have fun!

 

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Family and “me” time vacations are important to help you recharge your batteries.

Recharge Your Batteries

Between the holidays and our end of the year family vacation, I took a bit of a longer break from writing posts. Vacations are an important way for people to relax and recharge their batteries.

Top 5 Reasons Vacation is Important:

1- Quality Family Time: School, work, after school activities keep us so busy that we don’t get to spend quality time with the family. Be present and shut off those electronic gadgets to create some lasting  memories on your family vacation.

2- It Destresses You: It allows us to take a break from the everyday stresses of life. I remember reading somewhere that “Stress is related to 99% of all illness.” So relax, catch up on sleep and exercise a bit more (going for long walks count too).

3- “Me” Time: While family time is important so is “me” time – girlfriend weekend getaway anyone? A weekend of sharing, laughing, eating, drinking and focusing on ourselves and not our family can be very reenergizing. This is important for guys too; everyone can use a break.

4- Exploring New Places Is Fun: You can also have a “staycation” and explore places which are not too far from home. This past weekend, we decided to go on a BA (I just made that up) – Brooklyn Adventure (BA). We walked on the promenade in Brooklyn Heights, asked the girls to identify NYC landmarks and had a delicious pizza lunch at Dellarocco.

5- YOLO (You Only Live Once): “Work to live, don’t live to work.” is one of my life mantras. As I tell my daughters all the time, “Life is not a dress rehearsal, enjoy life.”

Keep in mind, vacations dont have to be 1-2 weeks at a stretch, a 3 day escape from your daily routine can refresh your mind and body too.

So what is the parenting life lesson here? Parenting is hard work! Take some time off/vacation to recharge your batteries to help you with the ups and downs of the wonderful parenting “rollercoaster” and enjoy life!

Take the time to enjoy the lights and decor of the holiday season with your family.

Christmas Photo

I absolutely love this time of the year! It’s so much fun to drive around and look at decorated homes and store fronts in the area where you live.

The picture in this post is near my home and I wait with anticipation every year to see it. It makes me laugh and smile with a childlike giddiness!

Every year, I try to map out 5-10 holiday decorated homes in my area. If you need help finding them, either google “decorated holiday or Christmas houses” in your area or wait for the listings in the local newspaper as it gets closer to Christmas. My husband and I enjoy this “holiday tour” as much as the kids do.

If you live in the area (Garden City, NY), the following light display should be a definite stop on your holiday light tour – go to www.lightstoabeat.com for details. This year the light display includes Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, Feliz Navidad, Amazing Grace, etc. They are accepting donations for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Amazing!

If you are visiting NYC, check out the holiday store windows. They are all really good this year. I can’t say I have a clear favorite – www.mommypoppins.com  has a really nice description of what the decorated windows have to offer.

These are the eight holiday windows worth seeing:

1) Bloomingdales (59th and Lex Ave)

2) Barneys (61st and Madison Ave)

3) Bergdorf Goodman (58th and 5th Ave)

4) Tiffany and Co (57th and 5th Ave)

5) Henri Bendel (56th and 5th Ave)

6) Saks Fifth Avenue (48th-49th and 5th Ave)

7) Lord and Taylor (38th-39th and 5th Ave)

8) Macy’s (34th and 6th- 7th Ave)

PS – Don’t forget to stop at the Lindt chocolate store between 54th and 55th on 5th Avenue to enjoy some good chocolate to give you more energy to keep you going.

Have fun! YOLO (You Only Live Once)!

10 Tips to Keep Parents Sane over the Holidays

Stay Sane

I posted this last year and the tips are definitely worth repeating….

1. It’s ok to say no : Everyone knows the holidays can be hectic. My husband always says “Less is more”. You don’t have to justify why you can’t make it. You just can’t – end of story.

Wait a minute… I just had a funny Marcia Brady flashback – Click here to go to the utube video clip (and yes, Doug Simpson is Friedrich from the original Sound of Music movie)

2. Order online : This is a no brainer and I have posted about this before. Amazon Prime is the way to the go. Many items will be at your door step within two days and you will never even have had to leave your home.

3. It’s not about the gifts : Don’t make this holiday so commercial. It’s not what it is all about… Keep Christ in Christmas. Go to your “new toy” closet (you know you have one) and give gifts to those who are less fortunate – Toys for Tots, church drives, etc.

4. Send out “Happy New Year” cards : So many people stress out about getting their cards out before Christmas because they don’t have the perfect picture where everyone is smiling. I personally really enjoy getting cards with the kids and family on them, but you don’t have to send them out before Christmas. In order to remain sane, you may need to send out Happy New Year cards or don’t send any out at all – who says you have to?

5. Have the kids make gifts: Make Rainbow Loom bracelets, pictures, ornaments, etc. It will keep the kids busy and out of your hair while you are trying to get things done at home. Who doesn’t like to get a handmade gift from a child?

6. Give gift experiences : How many gifts can Santa really bring? I have posted about this before for birthday gifts. Gift cards are an excellent choice for massages, restaurants, movies, ice cream, carousel rides, Chuckie Cheese, nail salons, etc. How about cooking, wine or cheese classes? Tickets to the theater or the circus? They are practical and fun gifts the person on the receiving side will enjoy and will not take up a lot of space in the house.

7. Break down your “things to do” list : We all have huge lists of things to do, but breaking the list down into small bites makes a list of twenty items seem doable. I take a piece of paper and write down three things I have to get done and it helps me focus. Once I have completed those items, then I tackle the next three items on my list. Try it. I really think it helps you feel you are in control and getting things done.

8. Ask for help : Car pool, get a babysitter, have your significant other/grandparents watch the kids while you run around to get everything done.

9. Be satisfied and enjoy the present moment : Enjoy the smell of your holiday wreath and/or Christmas tree, cookies baking in the oven, watching Christmas shows on TV, holiday lights, the sparkle in your childrens’ eyes because they love the holidays as much as you do. That is what it is all about. Enjoy the moment!

10. Laugh and have fun : Laughter is a great stress reliever. Enjoy the holidays! If it’s not “perfect”, there is always next year!

Teach your kids to be grateful: Create a gratitude tree.

A gratitude tree

With the Thanksgiving holiday this week, it is the perfect time to talk to your kids about being grateful and thankful for the many blessings in their lives.

My friend and fellow YOLO mom, Denise, shared a wonderful idea with me. She created a gratitude tree (picture in this post). This can be a fun way to share blessings your family is grateful for and is also nice decor for your home during the holidays.

It’s very simple and inexpensive to make:

  • Take some small tree branches from your backyard or your local craft store and put them in a vase
  • Cut some leaves out of construction paper, punch a hole in them and attach a string/ribbon to the leaf
  • Ask your kids/family/friends to draw pictures or write about things they are grateful for on the leaves
  • Hang the leaves on the branches
  • Now you have a beautiful gratitude tree 🙂

Here are few other ideas to help your kids to continue thinking about what they are grateful for:

1 – Play a “gratitude” game: My husband, girls and I kept going around table saying things we were grateful for. I would say we did about 10 rounds and I was taking notes to help the girls write these items on leaves for our family gratitude tree.

2 – Thanksgiving dinner table – As you go around the dinner table, have everyone talk about one thing they are grateful for this year.

3 – Letters to Santa – As the kids are writing their wishlist to Santa, have the kids include a “PS” which lets Santa know what they are grateful for this year.

Thanks for reading my post!

Learning is a lifelong process and we can learn from the teachings of others.

I would like to share a blog post written by Henrik Edberg from his Positivity Blog which discusses his interpretation of Gandhi’s teachings for changing the world. This entire article is written by Henrik Edberg and therefore in quotes. I am a firm believer of not “reinventing the wheel” and so here I share his wisdom:

Sharing is Caring…

“Gandhi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World

by HENRIK EDBERG

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.”

“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”

Mahatma Gandhi needs no long introduction. Everyone knows about the man who lead the Indian people to independence from British rule in 1947.

So let’s just move on to some of my favourite tips from Mahatma Gandhi.

1. Change yourself.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”

If you change yourself you will change your world. If you change how you think then you will change how you feel and what actions you take. And so the world around you will change. Not only because you are now viewing your environment through new lenses of thoughts and emotions but also because the change within can allow you to take action in ways you wouldn’t have – or maybe even have thought about – while stuck in your old thought patterns.

And the problem with changing your outer world without changing yourself is that you will still be you when you reach that change you have strived for. You will still have your flaws, anger, negativity, self-sabotaging tendencies etc. intact.

And so in this new situation you will still not find what you hoped for since your mind is still seeping with that negative stuff. And if you get more without having some insight into and distance from your ego it may grow more powerful. Since your ego loves to divide things, to find enemies and to create separation it may start to try to create even more problems and conflicts in your life and world.

2. You are in control.

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

What you feel and how you react to something is always up to you. There may be a “normal” or a common way to react to different things. But that’s mostly just all it is.

You can choose your own thoughts, reactions and emotions to pretty much everything. You don’t have to freak out, overreact of even react in a negative way. Perhaps not every time or instantly. Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction just goes off. Or an old thought habit kicks in.

And as you realize that no-one outside of yourself can actually control how you feel you can start to incorporate this thinking into your daily life and develop it as a thought habit. A habit that you can grow stronger and stronger over time. Doing this makes life a whole lot easier and more pleasurable.

3. Forgive and let it go.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

Fighting evil with evil won’t help anyone. And as said in the previous tip, you always choose how to react to something. When you can incorporate such a thought habit more and more into your life then you can react in a way that is more useful to you and others.

You realize that forgiving and letting go of the past will do you and the people in your world a great service. And spending your time in some negative memory won’t help you after you have learned the lessons you can learn from that experience. You’ll probably just cause yourself more suffering and paralyze yourself from taking action in this present moment.

If you don’t forgive then you let the past and another person to control how you feel. By forgiving you release yourself from those bonds. And then you can focus totally on, for instance, the next point.

4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere.

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

Without taking action very little will be done. However, taking action can be hard and difficult. There can be much inner resistance.

And so you may resort to preaching, as Gandhi says. Or reading and studying endlessly. And feeling like you are moving forward. But getting little or no practical results in real life.

So, to really get where you want to go and to really understand yourself and your world you need to practice. Books can mostly just bring you knowledge. You have to take action and translate that knowledge into results and understanding.

You can check out a few effective tips to overcome this problem in How to Take More Action: 9 Powerful Tips. Or you can move on to the next point for more on the best tip for taking more action that I have found so far.

5. Take care of this moment.

“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”

The best way that I have found to overcome the inner resistance that often stops us from taking action is to stay in the present as much as possible and to be accepting.

Why? Well, when you are in the present moment you don’t worry about the next moment that you can’t control anyway. And the resistance to action that comes from you imagining negative future consequences – or reflecting on past failures – of your actions loses its power. And so it becomes easier to both take action and to keep your focus on this moment and perform better.

Have a look at 8 Ways to Return to the Present Moment for tips on how quickly step into the now. And remember that reconnecting with and staying in the now is a mental habit – a sort of muscle – that you grow. Over time it becomes more powerful and makes it easier to slip into the present moment.

6. Everyone is human.

“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”

When you start to make myths out of people – even though they may have produced extraordinary results – you run the risk of becoming disconnected from them. You can start to feel like you could never achieve similar things that they did because they are so very different. So it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is just a human being no matter who they are.

And I think it’s important to remember that we are all human and prone to make mistakes. Holding people to unreasonable standards will only create more unnecessary conflicts in your world and negativity within you.

It’s also important to remember this to avoid falling into the pretty useless habit of beating yourself up over mistakes that you have made. And instead be able to see with clarity where you went wrong and what you can learn from your mistake. And then try again.

7. Persist.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Be persistent. In time the opposition around you will fade and fall away. And your inner resistance and self-sabotaging tendencies that want to hold you back and keep you like you have always been will grow weaker.

Find what you really like to do. Then you’ll find the inner motivation to keep going, going and going. You can also find a lot of useful tips on how keep your motivation up in How to Get Out of a Motivational Slump and 25 Simple Ways to Motivate Yourself.

One reason Gandhi was so successful with his method of non-violence was because he and his followers were so persistent. They just didn’t give up.

Success or victory will seldom come as quickly as you would have liked it to. I think one of the reasons people don’t get what they want is simply because they give up too soon. The time they think an achievement will require isn’t the same amount of time it usually takes to achieve that goal. This faulty belief partly comes from the world we live in. A world full of magic pill solutions where advertising continually promises us that we can lose a lot of weight or earn a ton of money in just 30 days. You can read more about this in One Big Mistake a Whole Lot of People Make.

Finally, one useful tip to keep your persistence going is to listen to Gandhi’s third quote in this article and keep a sense of humor. It can lighten things up at the toughest of times.

8. See the good in people and help them.

“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”

“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”

There is pretty much always something good in people. And things that may not be so good. But you can choose what things to focus on. And if you want improvement then focusing on the good in people is a useful choice. It also makes life easier for you as your world and relationships become more pleasant and positive.

And when you see the good in people it becomes easier to motivate yourself to be of service to them. By being of service to other people, by giving them value you not only make their lives better. Over time you tend to get what you give. And the people you help may feel more inclined to help other people. And so you, together, create an upward spiral of positive change that grows and becomes stronger.

By strengthening your social skills you can become a more influential person and make this upward spiral even stronger. A few articles that may provide you with useful advice in that department are Do You Make These 10 Mistakes in a Conversation? and Dale Carnegie’s Top 10 Tips for Improving Your Social Skills. Or you can just move on to the next tip.

9. Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”

I think that one of the best tips for improving your social skills is to behave in a congruent manner and communicate in an authentic way. People seem to really like authentic communication. And there is much inner enjoyment to be found when your thoughts, words and actions are aligned.You feel powerful and good about yourself.

When words and thoughts are aligned then that shows through in your communication. Because now you have your voice tonality and body language – some say they are over 90 percent of communication – in alignment with your words.

With these channels in alignment people tend to really listen to what you’re saying. You are communicating without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness.

Also, if your actions aren’t in alignment with what you’re communicating then you start to hurt your own belief in what you can do. And other people’s belief in you too.

10. Continue to grow and evolve.

”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”

You can pretty much always improve your skills, habits or re-evaluate your evaluations. You can gain deeper understanding of yourself and the world.

Sure, you may look inconsistent or like you don’t know what you are doing from time to time. You may have trouble to act congruently or to communicate authentically. But if you don’t then you will, as Gandhi says, drive yourself into a false position. A place where you try to uphold or cling to your old views to appear consistent while you realise within that something is wrong. It’s not a fun place to be. To choose to grow and evolve is a happier and more useful path to take.”

If you like this article, you should follow Henrik’s Positivity Blog – www.positivityblog.com. I am following his blog now and enjoying his posts.

Happiness is to embrace and accept what you have in life.

Happiness

As I turn a year older and “wiser” this week, I am reflecting on the past year and the year to come. My one wish is to continue to be grateful, happy and satisfied every day (and let’s include healthy in there also – “Health is Wealth.”)

As some of you may know, my husband is originally from India. He is a calm and logical person and I always appreciate his insight/opinion when I am looking for answers or want to make a decision.

On my first trip to India, I asked him, “Why do so many of the people who live on the streets and have so little, still appear to be so happy?” He simply said, “They embrace and accept the life that has been given to them.” It is a very simple way to look at it, but true. I thought to myself…In the western world, people have so much more, but some people still cannot find happiness.

So how does one find happiness? Embrace and accept what you have in life.

I will elaborate with some examples:

Relationships: Wanting people or family members to act a certain way and hoping they will change, but if you accept and embrace who and what they are, you will be happy. I am not saying it is easy, but something one can strive toward.

Material Posessions : In my opinion, less is more. So often, however, we see many people racing to attain more and more “things” (fancy homes, clothes, cars, etc.), but they still don’t seem to be happy. Slow down, embrace and accept what you have.

As I turn a year older, I share this basic wisdom with you and my children that my husband shared with me. Embrace and accept what you have in life and you will be on the path to being grateful, happy and satisfied.

Teach your kids to do the “right thing”.

A Subway Photo

The following is a lesson worth sharing with your child at any age.  I have witnessed the picture in this post countless times before: woman close to the end of her pregnancy standing in the NYC subway and no one offering to stand up to give her a seat.

The woman standing next to me commented on the lack of common courtesy and as I looked over I saw the “sitting” people sleeping or looking through the pregnant woman as if she was invisible. When I got off the subway and many people got off, I saw the pregnant woman move over to a seat and shake her head in disappointment that no one offered her a seat.

Since my kids were not with me that day, I decided to try to take a picture of the situation. I wanted to take the opportunity to teach my kids to do the “right thing”. When I got home that evening, I explained to them what I had observed that day. I told them ” When someone is “older” (looks like a grandpa/grandma), pregnant (having a baby), disabled (i.e. – walking with a cane) and you are sitting on a bus or train, please get up to offer the person your seat.” They looked at me with a certain level of understanding, but asked me, “But what if I am tired?” It’s a valid question. When I was growing up, I was taught “young” people have strong and healthy legs/feet and you should always offer to get up for someone who is elderly or looks like they need to sit down. They may tell you it is ok and that they can stand and don’t need to sit down, but you should ask them anyway. I told them I know you might be tired, but it is the “right thing” to do. The other person will surely appreciate your kindness and thank you with a smile.

YOLO Book Club: Read books which focus on positivity and self-improvement.

A YOLO Book Club

I always wanted to be part of a book club and decided to start my own. I call it the YOLO (You Only Live Once) Book Club. We read “YOLO-type” books which focus on positivity and are a group of moms with younger kids that meet every other month (gives us more time to read the book).

When we meet to discuss, everyone shares 5 things they learned from the book. The first book we read was Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. Happiness means different things for everyone, but we all picked up “positive” things from this book we could incorporate in our lives.

One of my favorite tips was around creating a “shrine to my family” and how “happy families tend to display large numbers of photographs in their homes.” This has always been an aspiration of mine, but I can’t seem to make happen. A ” holiday photo gallery” is a much more attainable goal for me. I agree with Gretchen Rubin that when we see family pictures in our home every day, we don’t seem to engage in them because they are a “permanent part” of our home decor. She suggests a “holiday photo gallery” which is something I can definitely do. I plan on taking all of my daughters’ Halloween photos over the years and putting them in frames. I will bring these pictures out only at Halloween so we notice and pay attention to them. It’s similar to the concept of Easter and Christmas decor. How excited do you and your family get when you bring out the decorations for that season? You don’t see that decor all the time so it is special.

We are always looking for new book ideas to add to our current YOLO Book Club list. This is what we have so far (in no particular order):

1) The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

2) Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

3) The Art of Happiness by Howard Cutler and Dalai Lama

4) Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

6) How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie

7) Joel Osteen books; Every Day a Friday by Joel Osteen

8) The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

9) The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

10) Words that Matter: A Little Book Of Life Lessons – Oprah Magazine Editors of O

11) A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose or The Power of Now: Guide to Spirtual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

12) The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go Of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

13) Life is a Verb: 37 Days To Wake Up, Be Mindful and Live Intentionally by Patti Digh

14) What’s Holding You Back? 30 Days to Having The Courage and Confidence to Do What You Want, Meet Whom You Want and Go Where You Want by Sam Horn

15) The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life’s Difficulties, Set Backs and Imperfections by Norman Rosenthal

16) Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

17) The Gift of the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh

18) Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrew

19) Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

20) Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

21) Bossy Pants by Tina Fey

22) Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

So you get the idea…Read books which bring positive things into your life which make you happy. When the parents are happy, it’s easier for the kids to be happy too.

YOLO Bear – Celebrate your accomplishments!

Fall 2014 026

A little over a year ago, I set a personal goal for myself to launch a parenting blog and post at least 52 times over the next year. Today is my blog’s one year anniversary and with 70+ posts, I accomplished my goal and want to celebrate, but how? I would love to travel around the world for a year, but that is not realistic. But perhaps someone can go in my place – YOLO Bear! I can have friends and family take YOLO (You Only Live Once) bear to fabulous local and far away destinations, take a picture with the bear and keep celebrating the one year anniversary of my blog for another year. For my second blog year anniversary, I will make a photo book of YOLO bear’s travels.

What is the parenting life lesson? Work with your children to set goals and celebrate their accomplishments. Work hard, play hard! My daughters’ goal will be to read for 20 minutes for 20 days next month and we can celebrate this accomplishment with an overnight hotel stay locally with an indoor pool. Sounds like a nice way to celebrate, doesn’t it?