Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Maurice's 17th Birthday Celebration Photos

Hello To All! We have been very busy lately. I hope that you enjoy these very special birthday photos from Maurice's 17th birthday. ( which seems to have lasted at least a couple of months..lol )

Please visit our sites at www.flushotgonewrong.com and www.wishforthesky.com. Also you can view our face book pages at https://www.facebook.com/flushotgonewrong/  Please also view our You Tube channel at wishforthesky1 where we will upload more videos very soon!!!!!! www.flushotgonewrong.com www.wishforthesky.com https://www.facebook.com/flushotgonewrong/

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


When you’re in charge of more than one person, say by running a business or keeping track of kids, it helps to collect and organize information about everyone’s schedules, be it in a list or calendar. Externalizing your daily priorities clears some space in your head for other things that need to happen, or, in other words, helps your mind stay sane and uncluttered. Making a to-do list should be more empowering than disheartening, but toeing that line can feel like walking a tight rope. Between work for Wish with the Sky Foundation and being a mother of 4, here are some insights I’ve learned over the years.

Having everyone’s schedules in one place is a blessing. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have last-minute meetings or pull out important flyers from your child’s backpack the night before something important is happening, or other unpredictable event like car trouble or illness. The beauty of a to do list is that you can ideally shift around your priorities to accommodate these snafus. It can also be a nice reference point that brings you back to center when those outside forces come into play- all you have to do is refer to your list and get back on track!

When your to-do list starts becoming a script for your life, or you start getting anxiety around completing all the items in a given day, you have probably crossed the line from helpful into harmful. If writing down a list of what you have to do in a given day is stressful, it might be time to find a new approach to getting organized. You may even consider breaking up with to-do lists altogether- and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You might consider reimagining the way you approach a to-do list. One alternative is the 1-3-5 list, where you pick one “big” thing, 3 medium level things, and 5 small things that you will accomplish. For other alternative list structures, take a look at this article from Work Awesome.

Rather than nixing to do lists altogether, it might be a good idea to build in some balance. Create some time, be it a couple hours each day, or setting aside the weekend, to be agenda-less. It doesn’t mean you have to float around and do nothing, just that you mentally free yourself from creating a list. After all, an agenda does not make life any more or less important. Let yourself (and your kids) enjoy a bit of time here and there without worrying what you’re supposed to go to next.

Moderation is the key. For the important things, like meetings, practices, rehearsals, etc., it’s important to keep track of what’s going on. But if every waking moment is dictated by this list, it will start to feel more like a burden than a tool. Life wasn’t meant to be an itemized list of things to check off! Not accomplishing everything you’d initially hoped to in a day is ok- you are wherever you need to be in a given moment. The to-do list is a guide, not a rulebook.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


“Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in the world, but it has not solved a one yet” -Maya Angelou

There’s a lot of madness going on around the world, our country, and sometimes even our own backyards. It can be a tough pill to swallow, and even more difficult to have conversations about tragic events to young children. In light of recent events, here are some ideas on coping with events and teaching our children to do the same.

For many people, being proactive is an important part of making sense of and overcoming tragedy. Rather than staying stuck in the past, or the problem, becoming proactive helps you look for a solution and focus on the things you can change. It also forces you out of your own head, which is important to tap into but is easy to get stuck in during periods of grieving. Volunteering or reaching out to others are great ways to do this.

It’s okay to grieve. While there’s certainly something to be said for “going through the motions,” bottling your emotions hinders your recovery process from a tragic event. Feel what you need to feel, without judgement. If you have kids, allowing yourself to do this encourages them to grieve as well. Another important part of the process is allowing others to help you if you need it. Many of us feel the need to shoulder our burdens and grief, isolating them for fear that they will spread and contaminate the lives of others. It’s a normal fear, but unnecessary. If these people were struggling, you would want to help them in some way- so let them help you if they offer.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers-so many caring people in this world” (Fred Rogers). Remember that for all the grief and terrible events that occur, both isolated and everyday, that there are good people in the world who are willing to help. That’s one of the only things that restores faith in humanity and the world- remembering and being able to find the truly good things. And in times of confusion, it’s a good for children to understand that when there is bad, there is just as much good surrounding us.

When something tragic happens on a larger scale, it can make our individual efforts feel almost insignificant. Who cares if I donated a pint of blood? What difference does my volunteer work make? No one person can save the whole world, but our individual efforts do add up. And when it comes down to it, the most important thing you can do is surround yourself with the people you love at home, because the world always needs more love: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family” (Mother Teresa).

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.– Winston Churchill

Worrying is common in today’s world, to the point where most of us are constantly worrying about, well, everything. Then it blossoms into full blown stress, which can take a strong hold on our lives. It will dictate most of our behaviors, thoughts, and actions- but only if we let it.

This may be surprising, but stress does have a purpose. It directs our attention to something (a situation or other outside influence) that is unpleasant or dangerous, so that we can take necessary action to remove ourselves from it. Usually, our bodies will restore themselves to neutral after the stressor has been removed. When we are under constant stress, the body never has a chance to recover, and that’s when it becomes dangerous to our health. Kris Carr illustrates this mind-body connection in the following: “If you don't think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.” Unfortunately, we live in a society that glorifies being stressed out, which can make breaking free difficult. A good starting point is turning inward.

The first thing to do is pinpoint the source of your stress. There are many theories as to the origins of stress, but one of my favorites is from Eckhart Tolle: “Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’” “Here” could be a physical space, like being stuck in a traffic jam when you need to be “there” at work. It can also refer to wherever you are mentally. This idea also translates into mental space. In essence, our root cause of stress is usually from trying to manipulate situations beyond our control and the ensuing frustration when things don’t go according to plan. Take some time to reflect on the situations that are generating feelings of stress in your life. How many of them are beyond your control?

The next step is releasing yourself from this burden, which is another inside job. Expecting someone else to remove the stress from you inevitably creates an unhealthy dynamic, for starters, and can also breed further stress and resentments. Relieving yourself of stress means re-evaluating how the aforementioned situations trigger a stress response. Is it a situation we can remove ourselves from? If not, how can we change our perspective or attitude toward the situation in a way that reduces stress? This requires some deep digging. In all likelihood, it will also mean letting go and accepting that certain things are beyond our control, and that’s okay.

Stress isn’t all bad, but when it starts taking over our lives and well-being, it may be time to sit down with ourselves and look at what’s really going on. As we move through life, good and bad things will happen, we can only control our response: “A diamond is a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well” (unknown).

Thursday, May 12, 2016


“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” Maya Angelou

Last week, we looked at some ideas for cultivating resilience. This week, I want to expand on one of the qualities of resilient people that is a bit obscure: self-regulation. Self regulation isdefined as “the ability to respond to the ongoing demands of experience with the range of emotions in a manner that is socially tolerable and sufficiently flexible to permit spontaneous reactions as well as the ability to delay spontaneous reactions as needed.” In other words, people who self-regulate possess some control over their emotional health and expression. Even when they feel pushed to the brink by a stressful situation, they tend not to react in a volatile manner (even if they want to). Let’s delve into some characteristics of self-regulating people and how you can cultivate this habit:

One common misconception is that self regulation is synonymous with being in a zen-like state most of the time and being at peace in the middle of any and all storms. When imagined this way, self-regulation seems highly unattainable. On the contrary, self-regulation doesn’t mean that you never experience a negative emotion. It means that in instances when you do feel those emotions, you have the ability to think before reacting. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction like yelling or bursting into tears, you give yourself a moment or two to decide what a socially appropriate reaction looks like in that situation-calmly responding or walking away. It’s not a matter of minimizing your emotions, just expressing them in a healthy manner. Those who self-regulate understand the following sentiment: “You cannot control someone else’s behavior. You can only control your own reaction”

Although in some cases, emotional regulation can feel difficult and at times impossible, it’s something that can be worked toward. Meditation is a priceless exercise and helps with a variety of issues, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and so on. Incorporating this practice in your life teaches you how to experience your feelings with a sense of detachment- you allow yourself to feel various emotions, without the need to act on them (especially in a destructive manner like angrily calling someone). Other tips include avoiding mind-altering substances, as these can aggravate certain emotions and affect how we perceive a situation. Other habits include typical self-care tips, such as regular sleep and exercise and a healthy diet. It might also be helpful to consider working with a therapist in some cases.

Being able to control how we react to adverse or uncomfortable situations requires daily practice. We can’t predict what sort of conflict we may encounter throughout the day or even how they may trigger us. Equipped with this understanding, we may be better able to deal with situations that we find unacceptable, and bounce back to equilibrium: “Serenity is not the absence of conflict but the ability to cope with it.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it”- Margaret Thatcher

Everyone has a bad day, or a series of bad days, once in awhile. It’s all a part of life. Resilience is our ability to bounce back from these unavoidable setbacks and “get back on the saddle.” Like the Margaret Thatcher quote above suggests, when you encounter a challenge or obstacle, you may not be successful on the first try. At times, it probably feels like you’re stuck in a repetitive loop having to deal with the same problem more than once. Part of being resilient is being able to come back to a battle more than once, and being ok with the fact that you might have to lose once in awhile. If you don’t consider yourself among the resilient, the good news is that many of the characteristics of resilient people can be obtained with a bit work!

Acceptance might be the most important part of resilience, and the part that is easier said than done. It takes a lot of work to be comfortable with the knowledge that some things are beyond our control. The truth is, even though we work hard and try to do the next right thing, we aren’t the ones running the show. We truly only have control over ourselves and our own actions.

Another piece of acceptance is having faith that, even if we don’t have control, that it will all be okay. Again, this might feel unfamiliar to many people at first (like being spiritually blindfolded). Every now and then, you’re not going to feel very positive. Life might be throwing a lot at you at once. You don’t have to be at your best all the time- remember that it’s okay not to be okay every now and then.

“It’s not the load that breaks you, it’s the way you carry it” (Lena Horne).

Although it may seem like resilient people are independently strong, they usually have a strong support group that helps them through the difficult times. Part of being resilient is knowing that as individuals, we don’t have all the answers, and someone else might be able to help if we let them. Have you ever told a friend something difficult or painful, and felt physically lighter because of it? Powerful feelings and emotions can weigh us down. Life’s burdens are less likely to break us if we distribute the weight across multiple people rather than trying to shoulder them all ourselves.

“Failure is a bruise not a tattoo” (Jon Sinclair). Another important component of resilience is perspective. Is the glass half full or half empty? Resilient people don’t tell themselves “I can’t” or view situations as impossible to handle. They also tend to look at difficulties as an opportunity for growth. It sounds a bit “out there,” but remember, I said these qualities required a bit of work! Situations may appear different if we step away for a little bit. It may also be an opportunity to ask someone else for their perspective- you never know what wisdom another person has to offer.

Resilience isn’t built in a day. Sure, some people make it look easy but these are skills that everyone can develop with a bit of practice and patience.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


“Those who are the happiest are those who do the most for others” Booker T. Washington

Once in awhile, I get absorbed by my own world of problems and stresses, to the point where it can be hard to get out and do anything. I turn inward, and when presented with a new opportunity or activity, an inner voice cries “What’s the point? Why even bother? What difference will it make?” This voice, if listened to, can paralyze us into inaction. It wants us to become complacent, or even worse, to wallow in self-pity and despair. The best way I’ve found to counter this voice is to get out and do some service work. This type of work in particular can help you feel connected with others, regain a feeling of purpose, and help you get out of your head.

There’s something about uniting for a greater good that makes us feel connected with other people. Whether it’s fellow volunteers or the group/community you’re providing service for, you have at least a vague awareness that what you’re doing is benefiting another person. I’ve found this is a great method of pulling myself out of a funk. My problems melt away as I remind myself that I’m surrounded by so many others who might need something I have to offer. Volunteering also reminds us that inspiration comes in many forms. Although volunteer work at times seems unglamorous, it can invoke an overwhelming sense of gratitude and belonging. And, if you happen to be feeling down, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up” (Mark Twain).

While you’re helping make the lives of others better, you’re also reminded that there is so much more. We all have bad days- car problems, stress at work, or generally just feeling low- it’s just part of being human. The great thing is that we have complete control over how we react to these situations. We can pull away from the world and wrap ourselves up a self-pity blanket, or we can reach out and grab onto something larger. That’s not to say your problems are not real or upsetting- you should never minimize your emotions. I know when the world is throwing a lot at me and I want to crumble, sometimes my reaction is to think that ultimately, I don’t matter and there’s no point. Volunteer work is a perfect counter to such thoughts: “Devote yourself to the community around you and devote yourself to something that gives you purpose & meaning” (Mitch Albom).

Creating Wish for the Sky (http://wishforthesky.com/) was my solution to a life-changing situation, and it brings me joy to bring a bit of joy into the lives of others. Doing something selfless for another, no matter how small it may seem at the time, can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. I also hope that it inspires my children to do similar work! It’s the best way I’ve discovered to get out of a rut, and you never know what else you’ll gain along the way!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


“Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it”- David Suzuki

Did your parents ever tell you to play outside? Sure, there’s a chance that they probably just wanted to get you out of the house for a bit, but you might want to thank them for sending you outside. Studies are showing that spending more time outside can actually be incredibly beneficial for children and adults alike, and not just because of the fresh air.

Spending time outside has some often overlooked benefits for developing brains. First, there’s the benefit of encouraging curiosity and imagination that comes from playing outdoors. Then, there are deeper developmental skills like concentration, depth perception, and motor skills that are increased with playing outside (resource here). Today, when kids are playing indoors, they’re usually looking at screens of some sort, which can limit their visual development. Getting outside allows them to really experience the physical world and give their senses a chance to develop. Using a screen doesn’t offer anything to the senses- there’s no smell, no touch (think texture here- touch screens don’t count!), maybe some manufactured sound, and a sense of two-dimensional sight (as mentioned before). By getting immersed in nature, children are creating a bond with the physical world and allowing their senses to develop, not to mention the benefits of encouraging the use of imagination and unstructured play.

Getting outside (as our parents probably noticed) is also great way to burn off some excess energy in a healthy way: “Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls” (Erin Kenny). Rather than just telling them to go outside, though, what about getting out and joining them? “Don’t just tell your kids to be active and to get outside and play. Lead by example.” Summer Sanders. If your kids are reluctant for some reason to head outdoors, just go with them. Make it a part of family time- you can head to a local park, playground, or the backyard if you have that option. I guarantee that you’ll feel better by the end of the adventure, too.

As an adult, you can benefit from being outside just as much as the kids. Richard Louv, author of The Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, explains something he refers to as “nature deficit disorder” in this interview with National Geographic. He argues that all humans are happier, more creative, and healthier when they immerse themselves in nature on a regular basis. If you’ve ever gone for a hike, walk, swim, or bike outside after a stressful day, you’ll probably concede that connecting with nature has some undeniable benefits. Louv concedes that for those of us who live in urban areas it’s difficult to access nature, so he offers a few ideas on how to do so.

This Earth Day, and every day that you possibly can, spend some time outdoors enjoying nature with your family. You never know what kind of magic you’ll find out there- as Roald Dahl reminds us in James and the Giant Peach: “There are a whole lot of things in this world of ours that you haven’t started wondering about yet.” Happy exploring!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


"You never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”

We’ve discussed how hard it can be to start new habits before. The other day, I was thinking to myself (and now to all of you), what about the opposite? What about quitting bad habits? When the day comes when you finally realize that a certain behavior is no longer serving its purpose in your life, it can be hard to let go. Sometimes, breaking an old habit can be harder than starting a new one! In the spirit of the season, think of this post as spring cleaning for the soul.

Why is it so hard to break a habit? Part of it is directly related to the brain and creating conditioned responses to situations. For instance, if something stressful happens and your reaction is to smoke a cigarette, that will eventually become your default setting. So, when you try to quit smoking and something stressful happens, you’re going to have a bit of a struggle fighting that knee-jerk reaction. When faced with this difficulty of breaking a conditioned response, many people waver. Another reason it can be hard to break an unhealthy habit is fear. Once we let go of this unhealthy habit, what’s on the other side? It may very well be health and happiness, but we don’t have any guarantee. We do, however, know what happens when we continue with our unhealthy behavior. It’s reliable. It’s helpful to remember, no matter how terrifying the unknown may seem, that there’s a an opportunity for a beautiful transformation on the other side. This little bit always gives me a surge of hope: “How does one become a butterfly?” “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

Having an unhealthy habit doesn’t make you any less loveable or undeserving as anyone else. Just because you smoke or have a tendency to eat too much sweet food doesn’t make you a terrible person. If you approach habit-breaking from a place of self love rather than self loathing, it changes things. The following quote from Sally Hogshead is a great reminder to eliminate shame from your attitude about yourself/your habits: “The goal is not to change who you are, but to become more of who you are at your best”

To change requires a great deal of courage. It’s not easy to let go of something that has acted as a crutch or distraction, even if it’s detrimental to your well-being. It’ll be difficult at first, while you retrain yourself to find a new approaches to old situations, and you probably won’t get it right on the first try. Keep trying, because it’s never too late to start over: “I hope you live a life you're proud of and, if you're not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again” (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


“As we give, we find that sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven, and in the end, we learn that it was no sacrifice at all” -Spencer W. Kimball

Easter was a couple weekends ago, and although it’s gone by, it’s still a great time to reflect on the nature of the holiday (that is, the idea of self-sacrifice and giving). Our society tends to be turned in toward ourselves, our own wants, desires, and egos, that before we agree to any sort of commitment, we first ask ourselves “What’s in it for me?” I say “tends to,” because this is by no means true of everyone or every situation people encounter. Sometimes, it isn’t even necessarily a conscious thought- rather, it’s something that lingers in the back of the mind as we come to a decision. Easter, for me, is a reflection on giving for the sake of giving. The best gift is the one that asks for nothing in return.

This particular type of giving is, when it boils down to it, the definition of selflessness. Whether we’re giving someone a thoughtful gift, a visit, a hand with moving, or even just a phone call, it may be a good idea to think about why we’re doing it. Is there an ulterior motive behind what you’re doing? Creating awareness is the first step in making any sort of change. Even if you realize you have an agenda that you weren’t aware of before (i.e. “Showing support for this event will help me gain some popularity”), it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow through (generally, keeping commitments is the more important consideration). We’re not always going to be perfectly, 100% selfless all the time, but it helps to remember the true purpose of giving back is to positively affect another human being: “I don't think you ever stop giving. I really don't. I think it's an on-going process. And it's not just about being able to write a check. It's being able to touch somebody's life” (Oprah Winfrey).

Although Easter focuses on the idea of the ultimate sacrifice, it doesn’t have to be a matter of life and death. You don’t need to be rich, famous, or powerful in order to give back. Simply being present and offering your full attention to someone or a situation is enough. Just offer what you can, even if it’s your smile: “Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give them yours”- Zig Ziglar. Small gestures can be just as fulfilling as grand gestures- and just as appreciated.
What are some ways you can think of to give for the sake of giving- whether it’s a group, community, or specific person? Even though Easter has come and gone, it’s always a good time to give! You will always get something in return: people who give back tend to be happier: “Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more” (H. Jackson Brown, Jr). Start giving and getting happy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. Jiddu Krishnamurti

As a mother of 4, I have learned to appreciate the act of learning with my children. As a parent, I’m responsible for teaching and guiding them along their journey. As they enter school and come home telling stories about what they learned over the course of a particular day, I’m proud of what they are accomplishing. Of course, some days are better than others, and they aren’t always in love with school and learning. I understand their disappointment, having already gone through this process as a child. However, as an adult, I realize more and more that learning does not end after graduation. We are all here to learn from each other, as much as we can. This week’s featured post is all about ways to carry on the learning experience in your life in a way that is both accessible and fun.

Lifelong learning has a variety of benefits that go beyond increasing one’s knowledge. It encourages us to continuously open our minds to new ideas. It also promotes an ongoing sense of achievement, or at least fulfillment, in that we are pursuing knowledge simply for the sake of pursuing knowledge. Henry Ford even insists that ongoing education can have benefits in terms of youthfulness: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

If having other people around you is a motivating force, you may want to consider something that involves group learning. There are a variety of options should you choose to go this route- including adult education classes in a topic you’ve always wanted to explore, joining a group based on a common interest (i.e. a book club), or signing up for a seminar. Group settings have a social component that is beneficial for certain people.

People who prefer to learn independently have plenty of options, as well. Kahn Academy is a free online educational resource, which began as a way to help students who struggle in a traditional classroom. It’s open to the public, though, and include subjects of math, science, economics and finance, arts and humanities, and even some coding- and yes, it’s all free! Another option if you see a course offered by a university nearby that you would rather take on your own time- many schools now offer online courses. As long as you complete the assignments on time, you can set aside time when it’s convenient (i.e. before/after work).

Another relatively low-cost method of pursuing knowledge is simply to read. Explore new topics or genres that you normally wouldn’t, find something that seems a bit challenging- anything to push the boundaries of your mind into new territory. Others insist that performing puzzles and word searches on a daily basis help them to stay “sharp.” The trick, in general, is to find the method that best suits your needs, and to continue using it. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself: “Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you’ll ever have is your mind and what you put into it” (Brian Tracy). Keep on learning!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, it is the parent of all others”- Cicero

Gratitude lists and journals are often suggested as a “pick me up” for people to get out of their own head. It’s a great exercise, and many people report that it works. The idea is to actively acknowledge what we are grateful for, which will help bring those positive feelings to our awareness and shift our mindset from the negative to the positive. Doing something every day to express gratitude- whether it’s using a gratitude journal, calling someone to thank them for their presence in your life, or simply saying “thank you” can help shift your mood.

The first step in expressing gratitude is to tap into the things you are grateful for, no matter how simple or trivial. Like anything else, this might require a bit of practice, and if you’re having a particularly difficult time in general, it may take a bit more work.

The next step is to find a way to channel it: “Gratitude requires awareness and effort not only to feel it but to express it” Bonnie D. Parkin. Some ideas for expressing gratitude include journaling, writing a letter, making a phone call, or paying it forward somehow. Gratitude journals have gained a lot of popularity recently (after all, Oprah has one!). If you decide to go that route, it’s recommended to make an entry 1-3 times a week. It doesn’t necessarily need to be an every day thing. Be diligent but don’t make it a chore- otherwise you risk making it a chore. You should set aside some time each day to write in your gratitude journal, but give yourself a range of items rather than a set amount (like 3-5). If you have more, great- don’t put a cap on it!

Why express gratitude? Anne Lamott explains it in this quote: “Gratitude is peace.” Having and showing gratitude have been linked to increased positive feelings, including optimism. In the wake of a terrible day, just being aware that you have a few things to be grateful for can give you a surge of good feelings- enough to know that it will all turn out alright, no matter what is happening at this moment: “When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change” (Dr. Wayne Dyer). Expressing gratitude can also increase our feelings of interconnectedness. No matter what method you choose- writing, praying, speaking to another- you sometimes experience a surge of compassion for certain people in your life. If that’s the case, you may even want to reach out to them and let them know!Expressing gratitude is an easy way to snap out of a bad mood. It also allows you to foster feelings of optimism, goodwill, connection, and overall positivity. Another bonus of gratitude is that it can be expressed in a variety of ways. I’ve given some examples above, but trust me- there are many more! If you cannot find anything to be grateful for, consider this quote: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”- Dr. Seuss

Last Wednesday was Dr. Seuss’ birthday. As a once-upon-a-time child and current mother, Dr. Seuss has been an influence on my life and countless others. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” may be one of his more quotable books, in my opinion. The nostalgia of being read to as a child, and this quote in particular, have me reflecting on the importance of reading to a child. Children learn the value of reading from adults, and what better place to start than in their own homes? Setting aside time to read together as a family serves a few different purposes. It teaches children the value of reading, encourages time spent bonding as a family, and there are plenty of resources for getting started.

“Children are made readers in the laps of their parents” Emilie Buchwald. Reading to children is incredibly beneficial, and it all starts at home. This is where they’ll learn the value of reading and depending how old they are, actually start learning how to read. Once they start going to school, they have an advantage over others. According to this study from the NEA “Twenty six percent of children who were read to three to four times in the last week by a family member recognized all the letters of the alphabet.” This is compared to 14% of children who were read to less frequently or not at all. It probably isn’t surprising that success in school begins at home.

Reading to children early on does more than set them up for academic success. Fostering an an early interest in reading sets children up for a lifelong adventure: “To learn to read is to light a fire, every syllable that is spelled out is a spark” (Victor Hugo). Being able to access books, newspapers, and all other types of literature opens up new worlds and ways of thinking that, without reading, would have been inaccessible. Think of your favorite childhood books and the places those stories would transport you in your imagination- what a priceless gift to impart to a younger generation!

If you think about it, reading to your kids can be boiled down to one thing: spending time together. Taking away all the facts about better grades or higher SAT scores, picking up a book and reading to a child can simply just be a way to spend time with one another. Giving the gift of our time and attention is one of the best things we can do for our children (or the children in our lives): “One of the greatest gifts adults can give - to their offspring and to society- is to read to children” Carl Sagan.

If you aren't sure where to start with books to read, head to your local library. They are usually very helpful when it comes to recommendations and children's reading. Many have programs for early readers, too. When all else fails, there are plenty of online resources to check out for book ideas.

If you aren’t sure where to start with books to read, head to your local library. They are usually very helpful when it comes to recommendations and children’s reading. Many have programs for early readers, too. When all else fails, there are plenty of internet resources and blogs to check out for book ideas. This list from Parenting is a great starting point. Or, start with your favorite book from when you were a kid! No matter what you decide, it’s a small way to make a big difference.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach” -W.E.B. DuBois

One of the most terrifying things about raising children is that you have a constant audience. Whether you realize it or not, your children watch you from day one. They’re picking up on your actions, and we only really notice when it gets parrotted back to us. Maybe you catch someone trying to put on lipstick, stomp around in someone else’s shoes, or repeat a word that you really hoped they didn’t hear. It’s in those moments that you realize how much of an impact you have on them. You’re their role model, their example of what it is to be an adult and be human. Like I said, terrifying. We are so aware of our perceived faults and inadequacies, it’s difficult to take a step back and remember that to our children, we are the example.

Just because we have a constant audience doesn’t mean we need to bear the burden of trying to be perfect all the time. This can do more harm than good, because we’ll inevitably fall short (to our own chagrin). Seeking perfection is a journey with no destination, an impossible task. It’s okay to be flawed, as long as you have a positive attitude, treat yourself and others with kindness and respect, and simply do the best you can with what you have- that’s what really matters. “There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent” Mahatma Gandhi

One overlooked aspect of parenting is the relationship we have with ourselves. You know the saying “You can’t feed others from an empty cupboard?” It’s true- if you don’t at least have a little love to give yourself, where will you find it for others? Another difficult truth- children will notice if you do not have a positive relationship with yourself, and this sometimes shapes their own concepts of self-love. It’s an instance of leading by example, like telling our kids to wear their seatbelts- it’s probably a good idea to put our own seatbelt on, as well. Along those lines, we can tell our kids it’s important to love yourself, but it doesn’t carry a lot of weight if we’re not demonstrating it. It’s all a learning process: “It’s not only children who grow. Parents do, too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.” -Joyce Maynard

Although at times it seems as though your children never listen, they are certainly always watching: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them”- James Baldwin. We may not be perfect role models for our children all the time, but if we are mindful about our words and actions on a daily basis, we can provide them with dedicated parents worth imitating from time to time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure”- William Feather

When was the last time you did something on a whim? If you’re like most adults, it’s probably been awhile since you did something unplanned, simply for the fun of it. As we get older and responsibilities increase, it becomes harder to do things spur of the moment. Unfortunately, many people equate adulthood/marriage/kids with no longer being able to go out and have fun any longer. Rather than resigning to a rigidly scheduled life, I suggest compromising. This is a sort of “How to have your cake and eat it, too” blog post on creating space for adventure while balancing your responsibilities.

50% planning. When it comes to balancing daily responsibilities (kids, work, etc.), you probably have 95% of the day planned out (the other 5% being the inevitable unexpected). The 50% rule is a way of carving out a spontaneous getaway that requires 50% of usual planning. This means reserving time in advance for being unavailable, even if you aren’t entirely sure what you’re doing. This way, people (employers/employees, for example) can go about their own week without being disrupted by you being gone. Another element of 50% planning is preparation. Bring anything that might be useful, like money, water, food, blankets, extra clothes-this is especially important when you’re involving children in the spontaneity. And that’s all there is to it. Once you’ve gathered supplies and blocked off some time, be it a weekend or long week, you have 50% planned. The rest is for figuring out as you go.

Dedicated times. One of my friends is overcommitted, to the point where I am not entirely convinced that she has time to sleep at night. Frustrated that she never got to do anything off the cuff, she finally analyzed her schedule and carved out 1-2 hours every Wednesday evening to do something spontaneous. Scheduling spontaneity seems counterintuitive, but if you have other schedules to juggle in addition to your own, it’s a compromise of sorts. If you have an hour a week where nothing else is going on, when the kids are all at various practices or schools or you can actually leave work on time, make it a time for something spontaneous. Go hang out at a coffee shop you’ve never been to before, take a walk, try to teach yourself a dance by watching YouTube tutorials- anything you can think of.

Being in the moment. Spontaneity doesn’t have to be a grand ordeal. You can incorporate smaller, bite-sized bits of whimsy into your everyday life. The key to this is being present. Opportunities arise when you start paying attention to what is surrounding you. For instance, maybe your morning routine involves going out and getting a coffee at the same spot. Why not try out a new place one day a week? Noticing little parts of your routine that are opportunities for something new can keep things interesting without being overwhelming.

Growing up and accepting new responsibilities requires us to change our lifestyle. While we may not be able to travel or even go out to dinner at the drop of a hat, it doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun. Our adventures change shape and direction, but they aren’t lost forever: “Adventure is not outside man; it is within” (George Eliot).

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


 “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine” Lord Byron

Laughing is one of the best things you can do for your body.

According to a study by Dr. Robin Dunbar a few years ago, there is something about the physical action of laughing that triggers endorphin release, even to the point of creating resistance to pain. Matt LeBlanc refers to it as “nature’s Neosporin.” It has also been proven to lower stress. Perhaps you’ve heard that if you’re upset, the act of smiling will make you feel happier. Well, laughing has a similar effect, but it’s like using a jetpack to get there. I can’t say that it burns a certain number of calories or that you’ll get 6-pack abs by laughing for 8 hours straight (which is more appealing than crunches), it does cause a significant mood boost. There’s no quicker cure for a case of the blues like a good belly-laugh.

Laughter is also universal, transcending language and cultural barriers. In fact, some believe that it’s a form of communication- in sharing laughter with someone, we’re expressing approval. History, race, culture, language, and everything else melts away: “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people” (Victor Borge). Ever gotten in a ridiculous giggling fit with a friend? Most of the time, you probably don’t even remember what you’re laughing about. Laughter is contagious, especially when it’s a friend or loved one. According to BBC News, we are “30 times more likely to laugh at something when we’re with other people.”

Not only is laughter contagious, it acts as a bonding agent. How often is laughter used to alleviate tension in an awkward situation? Another example is inside jokes among friends. Inside jokes are like glue to friendship. In fact, many of the friendships I’ve built over the years were born in laughter. It is probably a combination of shared experience and the ever powerful endorphin release that gets associated with those particular people. These jokes usually aren’t funny on their own merit without context. When you try to share with someone else, it results in you saying “Oh, maybe you had to be there…” The BBC study mentioned above maintains that “The science of laughter is telling us that laughter has less to do with jokes and more a social behavior which we use to show people that we like them and that we understand them.”

Finally, “If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.” In addition to being cheap medicine, laughter has the benefit of being readily available. Even if you just laugh to yourself in your car, it’s a guaranteed to make you feel better (although it might seem strange to any potential onlookers). You can always find people to laugh with, something to laugh about, and a little bit of time in your day to sprinkle in some laughter. As Charlie Chaplin famously said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” So take some time to laugh a little (or a lot) today, and share it with someone else if you can. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


This isn’t your typical New Year’s blog.

Of course, you probably gathered that based on the fact that it’s now almost 3 weeks into 2016, after all the usual hubbub around the topic has died down and the gym is leveling off to it’s usual number of attendees. Do you feel yourself loosening your grip on those goals you made for yourself in December? Why has your resolve eased up? I have a few theories about why resolutions fall through in the first part of the year.

Sometimes, our New Year’s Resolutions are overly ambitious or reflect long-term changes. When the end of January rolls around and we haven’t noticed any progress, it’s discouraging. Slowly but surely, we slip back into our old habits and patterns, back into the comfort zone of old patterns and behaviors. Part of the problem is modern society’s need for instant gratification. If your goals were something along the lines of lose weight or save money, you aren’t going to see leaps and bounds of progress in only one month (at least, not if you are using a healthy approach). Keep your timeline in perspective- New Year’s Resolutions aren’t supposed to be resolved in the first month or two of the year!

Maybe you started off the new year with a bang, and are now petering off. Instead of feeling guilty about this loss of zeal, it might be possible that your approach wasn’t sustainable. Remember to be relentless (and realistic) about your goals, but flexible about your methods. Life is going to throw you curveballs, so let your plans go with the flow (without losing sight of your goal, of course)!
Another common New Year’s Resolution rut comes from making goals that are a bit too ambitious. There’s a fine line between challenging yourself and creating an impossible task. Your goals don’t have to be dramatic, like “run a 5 minute mile” or “make a million dollars.” As long as you’re actively attempting to increase your health and happiness, your goals are just fine. Benjamin Franklin once said “Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better person.” As long as you can look at yourself a year from now and be able to see and appreciate the personal growth that has taken place, let that be enough. “Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending” (Carl Bard).

So what if you missed the mark on January 1st? It’s just a date, after all- now is the perfect time to start!

Whatever you do, don’t give up! So what if you already stopped going to the gym for a week or missed your budget mark by going to the movies last week. You slipped, you fell down, but it doesn’t mean you should give up on the rest of the game. You might have to do some recalculating, either readjusting your mindset (instant gratification syndrome), your methods, or your goals (if they are overreaching) are some places to start.