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by Monick Halm
The holidays are a wonderful time, but they can do some serious damage to our finances if we are not careful! Commercials, print ads and those holiday movies and TV shows can put a lot of pressure on us mamas to make the perfect (in other words, expensive) holiday. Overspending and creating new debt is a common problem and always leads to some post-holiday hangovers.
Here are eight steps you can take to avoid that financial hangover and start the new year feeling financially fit and fabulous!
1. SET A BUDGET. Creating a comprehensive holiday time budget early in the season will be your best defense against overspending and impulse buys. Remember that financial solvency is a gift you give yourself and your family, and it’s worth more than the momentary pleasure of a gift or feeling like you have to keep up with the neighbors. To create your budget, write down everyone you plan to buy a gift for, no matter how small the gift may be. Include ideas of what to give each person, along with the maximum amount you’re willing to spend. Don’t forget to list the people who will receive holiday tips, such as your doorman, babysitter, and mail carrier. When you are creating your budget also add the little extras such as postage for Christmas cards, holiday favors and decorations, or the cost of boarding pets when you’re traveling.
2. DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO BUY EVERYTHING ON YOUR CHILDREN’S WISH LIST. Be clear with your children that you or Santa won’t be granting their every wish. You can’t buy your children’s happiness or love, so why try? If your kids still believe in Santa, help them draft real-world wish lists. In the post-Santa years, set some financial boundaries, and give them some choices.
3. SHOP AT SALES ALL YEAR FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS.Don’t wait until after Thanksgiving to start buying holiday gifts. Keep your eyes open all year round for items friends and family would like. It’s often when you’re not looking for something specific that you stumble across the perfect gift for Mom or your best friend. Once December hits, you’ll be glad that you already have some people crossed off your list. Just make sure to keep all your advance gifts in a designated (and hidden, if necessary) spot so that you don’t forget a purchase you made months in advance, and include these gifts on the budget.
4. GET CREATIVE. Make crafts or baked goods for gifts instead of spending money on store-bought items. Do-it-yourself gifts are great for family, friends and gift exchanges with coworkers. Also, instead of a traditional gift you can offer a service (e.g., baby sitting, walking the dog, or taking an elderly relative out for an outing) or donate to a charity in someone’s name.
5. AGREE TO LIMITS. Amongst friends and family you can agree to budget friendly gift limits. For example, among some of my best friends and our growing families we have agreed that we will not exchange gifts with the adults, but will just give gifts to our children. In my family, we have agreed to a $75 Secret Santa among the adults. Each person makes a wish list of gifts they would like that fall within that $75 price range. Everyone in the Secret Santa pool picks a name and buys for one other person gifts off of their wish list. This is much more manageable than having to buy for everyone and greatly eases everyone’s stress.
6. USE CASH INSTEAD OF CREDIT WHERE POSSIBLE. You might say to yourself that you’ll pay off the credit card after the holidays, but things happen and before you know it, you’re carrying the holiday balance into April. Don’t pay for unnecessary interest and fees on credit cards on items that you’re not even keeping!
7. CONSIDER SPENDING MONEY ON EXPERIENCES INSTEAD OF THINGS Studies have shown that money spent on experiences tends to create much more lasting happiness than money spent on things. Instead of buying lots of things for your family that will soon be forgotten, consider taking the family to see a show or on a vacation. One holiday we rented a cottage in Lake Arrowhead with the entire family and had a very special holiday there. Another holiday season we took the family to Las Vegas and went to see Blue Man Group. In the end, these experiences with you are almost always more meaningful than quickly-forgotten gifts. That’s money well spent!
8.REMEMBER THE REASON FOR THE SEASON. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, keeping the holiday’s spiritual message front and center is a good antidote to the holiday “gimmies.” Instead of spending weekends leading up to Christmas in the mall, it would be a lot better gift to spend your time with your family or bring your kids to do something charitable for others.
As we say every year, “Wow! I can’t experiences that shape us to believe the holidays are near!” grow and take us to another level I’m always amazed on how time of love, compassion, empathy, seems to fly by each year. For me, confidence and self-worth. All this time comes with feelings of elements that make our world a celebration and disappointments. better place. I look back and see how far my businesses have developed, my Last Fall we had our 2nd Annual family has grown and the lessons Mom Entrepreneur Success I’ve learned from my experiences. Conference. It was such an inspirational and heart-filled day.
For many, the tendency is to to see so many hard-working look at what wasn’t completed or accomplished and not really celebrate what went right. I think it’s good practice to see where and why we fell short in reaching some of our goals, but I also believe that reviewing the accomplishments is just as important. In addition, being thankful for the journey that shapes us into becoming the type of person we are meant to be in this world is the foundation of an abundant and happy life.
This year, let’s celebrate our journey for what it is..and passionate business people connecting and growing to take their lives to another level.
In the opening ceremony, we displayed one of my favorite quotes that capture the core of my message.
“A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is the journey where she will become strong.” – CJ Lewis
NAFBM wishes you a fulfilled and blessed holiday season!
I remember the first time my baby smiled at me; it filled me up in a way that words cannot describe.
As my baby got older, my most important goal was to make her life happy. I soon realized that there were many things I would have to learn to be the best mom I could be.
I had to learn about nutrition, fevers, happy tears, sad tears, fears, wants, needs, when to give in, when to stay firm, but never how to love; that came easy.
The job of “mom” can be rewarding, challenging, exhausting, frustrating, surprising, and even insightful; but it’s that smile on your child’s face that makes it all worthwhile.
I heard a story about a famous research scientist who had made several very important medical breakthroughs. When interviewed by a local newspaper, he was asked why he thought he was able to succeed so much more that the average person, to be so much more creative than the average person? In other words, what set him so far apart from others?
He responded that, in his opinion, it all came from a lesson his mother taught him when he was 2 years old. He’d been trying to take a bottle of milk out of the refrigerator, when he lost his grip and spilled the entire contents on the kitchen floor. His mother, instead of scolding him, said, “What a wonderful mess you’ve made! I’ve rarely seen such a huge puddle of milk. Well, the damage is already done. Would you like to get down and play in the milk before we clean it up?”
Indeed he did. And, after a few minutes, his mother continued, “You know, whenever you make a mess like this, eventually you will have to clean it up. So, how would you like to do that? We could use a towel, sponge or mop. Which do you prefer?
After they were finished cleaning up the milk, she said, “What we have here is a failed experiment in how to carry a big bottle of milk with two tiny hands. Let’s go out in the backyard, fill the bottle with water and see if you can discover a way to carry it without dropping it.” And they did!
What a wonderful lesson! The scientist then remarked it was at that moment he knew he didn’t have to be afraid to make mistakes. Instead, he learned that mistakes were just opportunities for learning something new – which, after all, is what scientific experiments are all about. I am so happy I read that story while my daughters were growing up because it reminded me that no amount of spilled milk or failed experiments were worth taking a chance of damaging a child’s self-esteem.
Teaching our child a high sense of self-esteem is a gift that will take them through their lifetime AND keep that beautiful smile on their face.
My daughter is now a mother herself, and from the first time my grandson smiled at me…
by Hogan Hilling, Dad Guru
Christmas is upon us once again. One of the holiday traditions is to show gratitude to the people we cherish and love by showering them with gifts. One of those people is your husband and father of your child(ren), who I will refer to as Dad.
Several weeks before the eventful day of December 25th millions of moms will endure traffic jams on the street and shopping malls. Moms will struggle to find that one special gift to place under the Christmas tree that will light up a Dad’s face.
The choice of classic gifts for a dad vary from a coffee mug, personalized DAD t-shirt, tech device, brief case, shaving kit, gloves, pen, golf accessory, videos, alcohol, tools, sports memorabilia, gun, rifle……and all things masculine. The challenge is not only to decide which gift to purchase but also affordability.
But alas I have a suggestion for a special, unique gift dad will appreciate and every mom can afford. It is a gift that does not require you to spend any time battling street traffic and foot traffic at the mall because you can’t find it in a store. It’s a gift that doesn’t cost anything except a pen, sheet of paper and an envelope. And it is also priceless. It’s a gift that comes from the heart.
But before I tell you what the gift is I’d like to challenge you to view Christmas in a different way this year. I will begin with a story a dad shared with me.
Al is a very involved and hands on dad. One day he finally convinced his wife, Jessica, to take time off from her motherly duties and spend some alone time or with friends on a Saturday morning. Jessica left the house at 8 am and planned to return sometime after lunch.
When Jessica returned home at 1pm she arrived to find Al, and their two daughters, Madison (6) and Jackie (4), in the family room still wearing their pajamas. Al was combing Madison’s hair and Jackie was playing with her new doll and tea set. All three had smiles on their faces, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
Jessica was not happy. “Why are you and the girls still wearing pajamas? The house is a mess! Look at that kitchen! What have you three been doing all day? I’m gone for 5 hours and the place is a disaster.
Thanks a lot honey! Now I have to spend the rest of the day cleaning up!”
Here is what Al shared with me. “Hogan, I couldn’t understand why my wife got upset. Yes, I understand the house was not as clean as she would have wanted when she came home. But I didn’t do it on purpose. I was having so much fun with the girls I forgot about the time, dressing the girls and cleaning the house. Why couldn’t she have focused on the smiles on our face, and how happy the girls and I were? Why couldn’t she have invited herself to join us and spend time as a family together? What is more important a clean house or a happy family? I would have been happy to clean up the mess with her later. I work hard during the week and there isn’t much time for me to spend with our children. It would have been nice to have my wife thank me for giving her time off from being a mom and my effort to spend time with our children. I’m really confused and frustrated.”
THE SPECIAL GIFT I SUGGEST YOU PLACE UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE OR IN THE STOCKING IS THE FOLLOWING LETTER:
My Dearest Husband,
Here is my special Christmas gift to you. From this day forward I will embrace your role as a dad by following these simple “12 Days of Christmas” rules.
1. I will accept the fact that you parent differently than a mom. And that you’re priorities are also different than mine. How a dad parent’s is not wrong, just different.
2. I will focus on “what” you do and not “how” you do it. I will appreciate and respect the unique and valuable role you play as a dad to our child(ren).
3. I will not criticize or make embarrassing remarks about the way you parent in front of other people, especially the children.
4. I will accept that your number one priority while spending time with a child is different than mine. I understand that your number one priority is to have fun and build a relationship with our child…not color coordinating our child(ren) or keeping the house clean.
5. I will relinquish my role as a parent to you when necessary, find time for myself and not feel guilty. I realize that no mom or dad can be a parent 24/7 and that it is okay to take a break from the child(ren).
6. I will not allow other people to refer to you as “Mr. Mom” or the “babysitter” when you are caring for our child(ren). You are our child(ren’s) dad.
7. I will defend your role as a dad and not allow anyone, even my mother to disrespect your role as a dad.
8. I will not ask you to show your feminine side because you don’t have one. I understand that a man can be sensitive, nurturing and compassionate in a masculine way.
9. I will not listen to or associate myself with other moms who criticize or talk badly about their husband’s role as a dad.
10. I will respect your role as a dad, which means I will trust your instincts and skills as a dad and allow you to be a dad to our child(ren).
11. I will place our relationship as husband and wife before my relationship with the children. Our love for each other is the foundation of this family. I need to nurture it as often as possible and keep the romance alive in our marriage.
12. I will no longer take your role as a loving husband and involved dad for granted. I will love, honor and respect you everyday.
The letter is not only a special gift for your husband but also a great gift for the child(ren). And it is a gift that keeps on giving!
by Jamie Leff
What is the first thing you think about when someone asks you, “What is your favorite thing about the holidays?” Often, I get answers such as, “Grandma’s Yams, Uncle Bill’s prize winning gravy or Mom’s World Famous Latkes;” basically, anything that has to do with food! It is not surprising that people put on weight over the holidays…. everything usually revolves around something edible or drinkable. There is the baking, the holiday parties, and office treats. Let’s not forget to mention things you wouldn’t normally, but now you absolutely HAVE to eat, because they put the word pumpkin, peppermint or eggnog in front of it. What if you focused on something else this holiday season? What if you focused on making memories instead of pumpkin bread?
You have five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight. As we previously discussed, taste seems to get most of the attention around the holidays. If you think about it though, a lot of our memories are made using the other four senses as well. How about we give taste a rest and focus on the other senses instead? What would the holidays look like then?
Let’s explore this idea:
TOUCH: Think about the things around the holidays that you can physically feel. Bing Crosby makes reference to “Jack Frost nipping at your nose,” in his famous holiday classic White Christmas.
Some examples are:
- Curling up with your loved ones under a cozy blanket, in front of a fire, on a crisp winter’s night.
- Cuddling with your pet, stroking it’s fur and just relaxing after a long day.
- Taking a hot bubble bath (I know I said to ease off of taste, but I think adding a glass of wine here will make you feel really good!).
- Hugging and kissing your loved ones as often as you can.
- Making homemade holiday decorations with your kids.
SMELL: Sometimes the best part of baking all of those holiday goodies, is the smells they leave behind. You can be in the middle of a restaurant, get a whiff of cinnamon and apples, and it brings you back to the last Thanksgiving at grandma’s.
Here are some examples of using smell:
- Lighting candles or getting air fresheners in your favorite holiday scents.
- Since we are so obsessed with everything pumpkin, peppermint, or eggnog, how about getting a bubble bath in one of those scents?
- Standing in front of a Christmas tree and just breath deeply! Or go up to the mountains and take in the fresh air!
- Try this Hot Spiced Cider recipe from Betty Crocker. Not only will it warm you up, but it will make your house smell amazing!!!
HOT SPICED CIDER
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes
• 6 cups apple cider
• 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 3 cinnamon sticks
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat ingredients to boiling over medium- high heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 10 minutes.
Before serving, strain cider mixture to remove cloves and cinnamon, if desired. Serve hot.
From Betty Crocker Online: www. BettyCrocker.com
HEARING: Part of the fun of the holidays is turning on your radio and rocking out to your favorite holiday classics! Or how about when your child comes home singing the same version of “Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel,” that you learned when you were his or her age?
This holiday season:
- Listen to holiday music.
- Tell stories to kids about the true meaning of the holidays. Or have everyone share their favorite holiday memory.
- Take in the laughter and the excitement. Focus on the joy the holidays bring, especially to your kids.
- Tell someone you love them everyday. Chances are, they will tell you they love you back, and that’s a wonderful thing to hear everyday, not just around the holidays.
SIGHT: At the end of the day, there’s nothing better then spending time and making precious memories with the people you care about most.
- Visit with family and friends. For some people, the holidays are the only time they get to see certain people. Take advantage and really enjoy that time.
- Take your children to look at holiday decorations. Decorate your own house.
- Watch holiday movies.
- Record home movies of your kids decorating the house, opening their presents, and anything else holiday related. These will be your favorite holiday movies for years to come.
Hopefully, these ideas will distract you from the non-stop eating that occurs from Thanksgiving to New Years! Also, remember that the holidays are also about giving. When you find that you have over-done it in the kitchen, donate some of that extra food to the local food bank. Instead of sending your child to school with homemade cookies for his or her teacher, make a donation in that teacher’s honor. Purchase $5 gift cards to any fast food place and give them out to people you see in need. Take the time to be grateful for all that you had this year.
These things are what the holidays are really about. It’s about making memories with the people you love. Focus on these things and you will be so caught up in the holiday spirit, you won’t even think twice about Aunt Betty’s special fudge. You’ll just be so happy to see Aunt Betty!
Happy Holidays! I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite holiday traditions that don’t involve food? Send an email over to Jamie@JamieLeffNutrition.com.
by Jill Hope
As a mom, the joy you can experience during the holidays is second only to the joy your children feel. I always watch from a place of wonder and deep appreciation as my son embraces the family traditions we’ve created, enjoys his school holiday parties, delights in decorating cookies, and sings in his school holiday performance.
But in our role of mom, we also take on all the additional errands that go along with making the holidays special. Decorating, baking, shopping for gifts, being present for all of the performances and activities… just thinking of all this can be exhausting, let along doing it. And for some, this time of year can also carry with it less desirable reminders. Family friction, extra money demands, or financial stress can be even more of a presence at this time of year.
This added pressure can add up to a whole lot of holiday stress that over- shadows the joy we’d like to feel instead. If the demands of the holiday season keep you from being fully present to the joy that surrounds this time of year, I have good news.
You DO have control of your stress levels over the holidays!
You may be thinking “how can that be?”, and I understand that response because I used to feel that way. I thought living with stress was my cross to bear, not just during the holidays, but all throughout the year.
However, the truth is that our feelings come from our interpretations of an event. In other words, we create a story about what we’re experiencing, and how we react to that story is what creates our emotions and stress levels.
So how can you take control of your thoughts and enjoy a stress-free, joyous holiday?
Here are 5 strategies that can help:
1. CREATE AN INTENTION FOR YOUR DAY Just because you have a lot to do doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. If you could create your day, how would you like it to go? How would you like to feel when you go to bed at night?
Take a moment each morning before you get out of bed and scan through your day. Visualize each task, appointment, and errand, and see yourself feeling calm, happy, and free from stress. This takes less than 5 minutes, and makes a world of difference in terms of how your day flows and how you feel going through it.
When you consciously focus on how you want things to go, what it will look like, and how you will feel, you greatly increase the chances of things happen- ing the way you envision.
2. WHEN STRESS HITS, FOCUS ON WHAT IS GOING RIGHT It’s easy to fall into the trap of negativity when you start feeling overwhelmed. When something doesn’t go well, we can fall into a downward spiral that makes everything feel harder.
When things aren’t flowing smoothly, notice how you are feeling and allow those feelings to be there, without judgement. Then, shift your thoughts away from what’s going wrong, and instead, run a checklist in your head about what has gone right.
By catching yourself in the moment and noticing how many things actu- ally do go right in your life, you stop the downward spiral of negativity, and instead create a sense of wellbeing.
You may have heard the saying “What you focus on grows”. Keeping your focus on all that IS working will help you more easily get through those things that aren’t working.
3. USE A MANTRA AND DEEP BREATHING TO QUICKLY SHIFT OUT OF STRESS AND INTO CALM When you find yourself in the midst of anxiety and overwhelm, your physiology changes. You become contracted, your breathing can become shallow, your mind is less receptive to ideas, and your body tenses up.
When you notice yourself in this state of contraction, immediately take at least 3 slow, deep, conscious breaths, breathing the air all the way down to your belly. After 3 deep breaths, your mind opens up, ideas can once again be received, and the tension in your body will dissipate.
Then, have a mantra ready that you can repeat to yourself to get you back to a positive frame of mind and remind you of how you are supported. Some mantras I have used are “Everything always works out”, “I am connected to the Divine”, or “Everything happens FOR me, not TO me”.
These steps can literally be done in less than a minute, quickly taking you to a more positive state of being.
4. OWN YOUR POWER How often do you say “yes” to someone because you don’t want to let them down, but inside you really want to say “no”? When you don’t act in alignment with your desires, you are not acting from your place of authentic power.
Energetically, this means that your energy is split, which can drain your vitality and your ability to get through all those errands you have to do.
To get back into alignment with your authentic power, start noticing when you say “yes” when you really want to say “no”, and “no” when you really want to say “yes”.
Once you become aware of how often you aren’t honoring your true feelings, you can start taking back your power.
Start saying “no” when you mean no and “yes” when you mean yes and see how that feels. Acting from your place of authentic power will increase your energy and help all aspects of your life go more smoothly.
5. CREATE A DAILY PRACTICE TO EXPERIENCE MORE PEACE AND TAP INTO YOUR INTUITION One of the practices I added to my daily routine that has had the most profound effect on my life and business was adding a daily spiritual practice.
Not only have I created a deeper level of peace within, but I am more easily guided by my intuition, and I’ve even become more productive.
Creating a daily practice can include quieting your mind, meditating, doing deep, conscious breathing, or even writing in a journal.
In the practice I’ve created, I put on some deeply relaxing music, quiet my mind, allowing any stray thoughts to move through without entertaining them, and then doing some deep breathing.
If I have a question I am struggling with, I may ask it and then write down in my journal the first thing that comes to mind.
Engaging in a regular daily spiritual practice can reduce stress, increase relaxation, and help you get acquainted with the voice of your intuition so that your choices will be guided toward your highest good.
Even 10 minutes of a mindful practice in the morning before your kids get up can be highly beneficial. And what’s best is that the benefits of a spiritual practice are cumulative. The more you do it, the more peace you cre- ate to sustain you through the holidays and beyond.
You can consciously choose to minimize the feelings of stress, worry, or despair brought on by holiday activities. And in doing so, you greatly increase your chances of experiencing more of the joy your kids feel. What’s more, the healthy practices you estab- lish now can extend well beyond the holiday season.
by Erica Rood, M.Ed.
What mother does not want her daughter to feel good about herself? To feel capable, worthwhile, content with who she is, and confident in where she is going? Research has shown that mothers play a significant role in the development of their daughter’s self esteem. Mothers are the ultimate role models for their daughters. The values and attitudes they model and teach are internalized by their daughters and shape their daughters’ self-image and views of the world. While mothering a daughter can be one of the most rewarding relationships, it can also be full of intense emotional extremes, especially during the teen years, when independence beckons. During this time, a healthy and respectful relationship is the key to effective communication. You can lay a strong foundation of trust and respect by establishing open and honest lines of communication early in your daughter’s life. One way in which to do this is to share creative, inspiring experiences together.
Yoga is an excellent tool for creating a sense of openness and awareness. I have received an overwhelmingly positive response from mothers and girls who have participated in my Mother-Daughter Yoga series. In these classes, moms and daughters share so much more than yoga; we engage in inspiring conversations, lively activities, and creative projects, all of which center around important topics including self-image, friendships, stress, bullying, and more. There are so many benefits to learning and having fun in a group setting, but you can also benefit from sharing a creative yoga practice at home.
Here are a few playful and purposeful poses for you and your daughter to try. The suggested poses, conversation starters, and activities are designed to enhance communication in a natural, relaxed way. Use the yoga as an opportunity to take off your “parent hat” and get down on your daughter’s level. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and honest and you will see your daughter do the same.
ROCKY BOAT POSE
Off the mat: Use boat pose as a springboard into a discussion about how life will present challenges that make you feel unstable. It’s during those times, when we need to reach out for support from each other. Discuss the challenges each of you face. Share how you react to challenges. Do you ask for help? Do you work through challenges alone? Do you avoid challenges altogether?
Activity: Role-play challenging situations and explore different responses.
STABLE SIDE PLANK
Start facing each other in a plank or modified plank (like the top of a push- up, with knees up or knees down to modify.) Rock to the edge of your right foot and press into your right hand. Slide your left leg on top of right and reach for each other’s left hand. If you feel the pose is easy and you are stable, try to lift your top leg. If you are feeling unstable, take your right knee down for extra support. Switch sides.
Off the mat: Use this pose to launch a discussion about the importance of maintaining balance in life. Talk about how to determine when it’s appropriate to add an extra challenge or activity and when you should back off and reach out for support. What events or activities make you feel off-balanced and stressed? How do you balance your current activities and keep your stress level low? What can you do to create more balance in your life?
Activity: Create a “Balance Sheet” that lists actions you can take to maintain balance in your life. Schedule a “Day of Balance” when you try an activity together.
TWIST OUT TOXINS
Sit back-to-back in a comfortable cross-legged position. Take a big belly- breath in and reach your arms up. As you breath out, turn and twist to the right. Reach around for each other’s knees. Switch sides.
Off the mat: Twists are great for detoxing the body and a perfect opportunity to start a discussion about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. What are some of your favorite healthy foods? What new food or recipe can you explore together?
Activity: Go online together and research the nutritional values of some of your favorite foods. Are you surprised? Find a healthy recipe you can make together. There are delicious suggestions on sites like Pinterest.
Start standing tall with your feet together. Step your left foot back and pivot your foot slightly (about 45 degrees.) Bend your right knee and keep your left leg straight. Extend your arms and reach your fingertips away from each other. Feel your amazing strength and shout out: “I am strong!”
Off the mat: Warrior poses are symbolic of strength. They challenge our bodies and in turn, challenge our minds. Use this pose to talk about inner vs. outer strength. When is it appropriate to use physical strength? When do you need to tap into your inner strength? Share your experiences of using your inner and outer strength.
Activity: Create a “Wise Warrior” collage. Cut out pictures and words that describe qualities of inner and outer strength. Include pictures of personal heroes and role models.
If you’re interested in joining a Mother- Daughter Yoga series or hosting one at your home, please contact me. It is my passion and purpose to empower moms and daughters and inspire young women to live confident, happy lives!
by Shaila Saint, M.ED and Mollie Bennett
We are in the final days of September as this article is submitted. So let’s see…kids back to school?…check. Some sort of a system and schedule in place for extra curricular activities?…at least half a check. So can we take a breath and get to know our new driving routes, before being lured off the road to buy Halloween costumes, turkey roasters, and Hanukkah napkins?
Not likely. The unrelenting marketing madness has begun, and it can make us feel like we’ve fallen behind, we will never get it all done, and we will always be out of balance. Add the anticipation of out-of-town guests or long travel days, financial constraints, and family drama, and ho ho NO , the bells don’t sound quite so jingly. Ideally, this out-of-sorts feeling is not the way we want to start the season.
While we may never be totally immune to the pressures surrounding the holiday rush, if we remember 3 simple yogic principles for balancing in a tree pose, and apply them to checking in with ourselves this holiday season, we may be surprised at how clear and connected we may become to our own values and to what truly brings us joy this time of year.
1. ESTABLISHING OUR FOUNDATION (ROOTS):
In order to balance physically, we start by setting a strong foundation in our feet, rooting them in the ground, which establishes and supports the rest of our body from our legs, on up. To establish our foundation during the holiday season, start by asking yourself, “What are the foundations, roots, and traditions for the holidays that are firm and that I want to remain strong?” “Are there some simpler ways that I may have celebrated the holidays in my early life that I want to reestablish with my family now?” These types of questions can really help you stay grounded, mellow everything out, downplay the commercialization and “up” play the quality time and creativity. Plus, very often, children are fascinated by something they know mom or dad did as a child. So break out those felt and sequin ornaments from when you were the 3rd grader!
2. FINDING OUR CENTER (TRUNK):
To find our center to balance physically, we work to engage the strongest part of our body–our core- -for added strength and power. To find your center during the holiday season, ask yourself, “What do I know to be true for my life/my family at this time of year?” When focusing on our center or truth, it’s important to tap into the values and traditions you’d like to continue with your family, while gently letting go of the ones that don’t work. Taking time to reflect on your truths may bring up a variety of thoughts and feelings, because we know that not all family and holiday memories may be positive ones. Setting boundaries, while sometimes difficult, can be the difference between sanity and insanity at this time of year. Not every party needs to be attended, not every acquaintance needs to receive a perfectly wrapped gift, and not every need of your high maintenance cousin needs to be catered to! Remember that we are in charge of shaping this experience for our families now, and sometimes owning that can be difficult.
3. KEEPING OUR FOCUS (HIGHER BIRD):
Finding our focus when we balance physically, means finding an immovable point or spot beyond us in which to hold and steady our gaze. To find and keep our focus this holiday season, envision the end goal or big picture by asking, “What do I want my family to remember about their holiday seasons in our home? If you were a bird, flying over your holiday “tree”, what would you see now, and what would you like to see? Start making small changes based on that higher viewpoint. No rush or pressure, you’re just gradually creating what you envision for your family.
Finally, here are a few concrete ideas to think about for maintaining balance during the holidays:
If your children are chomping at the bit for the newest toys and video games they are already seeing advertised, then why not start that wish list nice and early? They can edit for a while, working out the urgency they feel for each thing they see, and deciding what they want the most. It will help you spend your hard-earned money as effectively as possible.
Eating, cooking together, sharing family recipes, and any activity surrounding food is such a great way to bridge the age gaps. A low tech and tactile experience like a cookie making party (with as many generations as possible in attendance) makes for wonderful memories and natural learning opportunities.
Forgo the impeccably wrapped presents. Choose one or two basic papers or gift bags, and one or two coordinating ribbons, and let your kids go at it. The perfectionist in us may cringe a bit at the results, but honestly, we all know Grandma will love their creations much more!
So when the holiday frenzy starts to bombard you, remember that you can always focus back on the three fundamental elements of balance – your roots, your trunk, and your higher view of your family holiday tree. We hope this will help you clarify and create what is most important to you this season.
Joyful balance to you and yours!
Although, Lacy Arnold struggled with becoming a mom and with her weight, she candidly shares her journey that led her to win a bikini competition and a thriving wellness business as a mom.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
I grew up in a large family and I always wanted babies from the time I was about 2 years old. My biggest dream in life was to be a mother, but that didn’t easily happen for me. I had years of struggle and infertility. But now I am a mom of 3 wonderful kids.
One of my passions is health and fitness. I have a degree in Health and Wellness and I am certified as a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist.
I was always interested in that field. I love being in the outdoors and being really active.
I own LeanMoms.com, which is a company for moms that provides a holistic healthy lifestyle program. And I’m also a co-owner of a meditation company called, Sculptations.com, a scientifically engineered audio tool that anyone can use to sculpt the life he or she wants. I help write the scripts for the guided meditations.
WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY THAT LED YOU TO CREATE YOUR HEALTH AND WELLNESS BUSINESSES?
It was kind of a long process. Before I had children I got into the health field, earned my degree and certifications. I was fascinated about how women’s bodies function differently and why they need special care, especially after they have children.
For me, after undergoing through years of infertility treatments, it took a toll on my self-esteem as well as my body image. I’d gain 10-20 pounds, then I’d lose some and then gain them back. Finally, after 5 years, I finally got pregnant.
During that time, I wanted to make sure I did everything right, even though I wasn’t sure what that was. So, I ate a lot, because I felt I needed to feed the baby also. I ended up gaining an additional 65 pounds through that pregnancy.
At that time, my main focus was to get pregnant and have the baby. My perception of a mom growing up was that after you have a baby, your body is just shot and you would be fat forever and that’s just the way it is.
Even though I was so ecstatic to be a mom, I remember looking in the mirror one day and just feeling depressed with what I saw. I didn’t feel good. I didn’t have enough energy and I wanted more. Then I felt guilty for feeling bad, because I wanted to be a mom so badly and I had what I wanted.
I started researching and doing different weight loss programs. A lot of them were unhealthy ways. And as a mom, I was stressed out and displayed a lot of emotional eating behaviors.
Then I went on to have two more babies through IVF. As a result, my body was just shot by the time I had my third baby. I felt like I was 60 years old. I really wanted real and lasting change. So, I just took the bull by the horns and decided that I needed to create a way for moms to feel better.
I formulated and followed a health and fitness program, competed in a couple of bikini competitions and won one of them, which was huge for me because I started at over 200 pounds and ended up winning an NPC bikini competition!
So, that stirred up my passion and showed me that moms can be fit, lean and sexy. The question was how to balance it all correctly. It doesn’t have to be something that takes you away from your family or is another task on your to do list per se. You can incorporate all these things that I teach in my Lean Moms program into your everyday life.
WHAT DOES LEAN MOMS OFFER?
Lean Moms is a company based on a holistic program for busy moms. We are just in the process of launching a new program, which has 4 parts and starts with resetting their bodies by doing a detox cleanse. The second piece is reintroducing nutrients for moms specifically, because their bodies get so depleted through childbirth and everything. It’s based on following a whole foods meal plan. Thirdly, there are 15 minute fat- burning workouts you can do at once or break it up throughout the day for amazing results.
My philosophy is going back to our primal state when fitness was incorporated into people’s everyday lives.
Lastly, my favorite part is the mindset component, which is one of the pieces that gets overlooked when striving for a healthy lifestyle. The mindset component is meditation based on MRT Technology to retrain your brain. I have one on emotional eating, ideal body image, as well as, a relaxation one before going to sleep and when you wake up.
TELL US ABOUT SCULPTATIONS.COM.
My business partner and I create audio meditations using MRT technology, which is a unique combination of binaural beats, heartbeat, and breathing technology along with empowering music that are all specially engineered to train your brain for success.
Each MindSculpting Track is scientifically proven to affect brain wave patterns to induce positive effects. This includes laser-like focus, enhanced creativity, greater problem-solving capabilities, and an accelerated learning capacity.
My business partner writes the harmonic meditations and I write the scripts for the guided meditations. We launched the company, because we felt that a lot of people didn’t really understand the benefits of meditation and we wanted people to benefit from this type of technology.
We offer various types of guided meditations for every aspect of your life, such as wealth, health and relationships. And we also have a kid series, which I’m very excited about, because I’m passionate about finding different ways for kids to feel healthier. My own kids had anxiety issues and so meditations help with self-esteem and relaxation at night.
WHAT TOP ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH MOMS WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH GETTING HEALTHY AND/OR FEELING GOOD ABOUT HER BODY AND HERSELF?
My best advice is to just start. Just to do one thing. It could be no soda this week. Sometimes starting an entire health regimen can be so overwhelming. I know about that because I’ve been there. However, a little bit of progress is better than no progress. Set short time goals.
You can start small and as you start to see some results, it’s going to change the way you feel. You’re going to like it and continue doing it. Many of us just tend to dive in where we have to do something perfect or nothing at all. I always tell my clients that if they mess up, like eat something
they weren’t supposed to or didn’t do that workout, to start over right then instead of waiting to start again on the next Monday or tomorrow.
People say everyday is a new day, but my philosophy is it’s a new hour. You always have the new time in front of you to shift, forgive yourself and get back on track.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO A MOM WHO JUST HAD HER FIRST BABY AND IS STRUGGLING WITH HER BODY IMAGE?
I would say to be patient with yourself, but do something. You can start slow and know that your skin will return somewhat normal. You’re always going to have some scars or marks from pregnancy, which I call badges of honor. Your body is just different after having a baby.
My new program is based on what happens after you have babies. Your fat cells multiply and your hormones shift. So, you’re more apt to store fat. Some moms lose weight when they are nursing, but they also need to be more careful when they stop nursing.
There’s a way around it where you’re not starving all the time and you don’t need to work out for 2 hours a day. You can have a lean body after your baby.
Be patient and love yourself. Be proud of the accomplishment you did with having your child. Enjoy that time.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO LIVE A MORE BALANCED LIFE?
There are a couple of things to avoid entrepreneurial meltdown or Mommy meltdown. Make sure you set boundaries for yourself. So often we just let everything happen.
Some of my boundaries are no technology or electronics on Sundays. We’ll spend time reading together, go on hikes or go to the Farmer’s Market. I admit that it’s hard for me to go without technology, but I learned the hard way.
My other is that I refuse to miss my workouts. Maybe I’m strapped to the computer all day, but I’ll take breaks every hour and do 50 squats or 25 push-ups. I have to fit it in my daily life.
Also, I make sure I’m present when I have dinner with my family and to tuck my daughters in bed at night. These are things I refuse to compromise on no matter how busy I am or what’s going on in my life.
SHARE SOMETHING DIFFERENT OR UNIQUE ABOUT YOU THAT MAY SURPRISE PEOPLE WHO KNOW YOU.
When you’re in a health business, people always think that you don’t have moments where you don’t eat well, but pizza is my huge weakness.
My weight fluctuates too. I don’t let it get out of control, but there are times where I just let my hair down. I don’t always look as perfect as I do on my website.
by Kenia Cueto
Can you imagine this coming holiday without your family’s traditional dish? Some would say the special occasion would lose much of its significance without the meal. Whether traditional meal items carry a religious or traditional mean- ing, foods tend to elevate the occasion to another level of significance. As music changes the ambiance of an event, so does food. Aromatic flavors travel throughout the house during the preparation stages telling us our special holiday is here. The process of diligently following the recipe is also critical in order to keep with tradition. For the sake of tradition, cultural or religious meaning, the taste must remain the same. One thing for certain, changing the recipe or neglect- ing to make your traditional dish will put you in “hot water”.
Universal traditional holiday recipes could be traced back generations while others follow more of a cultural trail. One great example is the Mexican Tamale. While the tamale is a traditional Mexican holiday menu item, it also includes distinct ingredients carried through family recipes. Abuelita’s tamales may not taste good to Johnny down the street because he is used to his own abuelita’s tamale recipe.
THE TAMALE EVOLUTION
Aside from its provincial nuances in tastes and traditional making techniques, the tamale has evolved. With the advent of the Food Channel and Food Network shows the likes of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Chopped, Urban Rajah and Barefoot Contessa, new recent trends have given way to creative organic, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free recipes. For example, substituting olive oil or canola oils instead of using lard and adding roasted peppers, carrots, spinach and or cheese have excited even the most skeptical of eaters. Fusion of cultural tastes has also created unique diverse flavors. Adding sofrito, a Caribbean and Latin American sauce of tomatoes, chopped onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs into the filling welcomes multiethnic pride to the table. With California’s multicultural population and fusion of culinary dishes, the tamale is no longer exclusive to the Latino community, it has found its way across the U.S. border and welcomed into the homes of families from all over the world.
CHICKEN TAMALE PREP (With A Cuban Twist)
2 large roasting chickens
2 large onions
Salt to taste
8-10 garlic cloves
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
Water enough to cover chicken Cut, skin, and rinse chicken before placing large pot. Add ingredients and bring to boil. Cover and lower to medium heat for approximately 20-30 minutes. Let cool and manually shred chicken. Place in large bowl and cover until ready to prepare. This process can be done one day before the party. If you decide to cook one family pack, cut the recipe in half.
2 large onions
5-6 crushed garlic cloves (to taste)
1 chopped green bell peppers
2 chopped yellow or orange
1 1/2- teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt to taste
1/4 cup olive oil (enough to lightly cover the pan)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers oregano and cumin. Stir until vegetables are tender, 5-6 minutes. Add crushed garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes. If you do not have a large enough pan, divide the recipe in half.
CHICKEN TAMALE PREP
Once the sofrito is complete, add the shredded chicken and mix in the large skillet for approximately 2-3 minutes. If you feel there is too much sofrito, leave some out.
Place in a large bowl. Cool for 1 hour then refrigerate. Do this the day of or the day before the TAMALADA. Note: This filling could also be used for tacos, burritos or enchiladas.
15 large dried chilies (such as Anaheim, New Mexico, California, or pasilla)
4 -5 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
salt to taste
Chicken broth from boiled chicken (enough to cover chiles)
Use rubber gloves to remove stems and seeds from the chile pods. Place chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of water, garlic, cumin and salt to taste. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. Transfer the chiles and to a blender and add chicken or pork broth and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture, stir in salt, and set aside. Shred the cooked meat and mix in enough to add color to your meat. Add chili sauce to your masa to give it a rich orange color. This gives the masa an added rich flavor.
2-3 large bags of corn husks (Latin super market)
5-6 lbs of “masa preparada” (prepared masa with lard) from local Mexican market
Soak the corn husks in kitchen sink full of warm water for about and hour.
Spread the dough thinly and evenly over the entire bottom 3/4 of the corn husks with a small spatula, spreader or spoon. Place 1-2 tablespoons of the meat or cheese filling into the center. Fold the sides of the husks in toward the center and place in a steamer. Steam for 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the amount of tamales you will be steaming.
Remove tamales from husks. Top with sour cream and salsa and serve with rice and beans.
Recommended YouTube Tips for Basics on How to Make Tamales: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Real- Homemade-Tamales/
1 lbs. pinto beans
1 Tbs. salt or to taste
3-4 large fresh garlic whole cloves
1 medium yellow or white onion (cut in fourths)
1/2 cup of freshly graded Monterrey cheese
1/4 cup of Corn or Canola oil
First Step: Double rinse the beans in colander. Place beans in large pot and add enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches. Add salt, whole garlic and onion and allow boiling in high heat. Once at a vigorous boil, make sure 2 inches of water remains in pot. If not, add more water and wait for boil. Lower heat to medium low or low and cover. The water should be slowing boiling. *You MUST check the beans every 15-20 minutes to make sure there is enough water. Keep on adding water to the 2” mark until beans are soft.
Second Step: Add oil in large frying pan. Make sure pan is covered with oil. Allow to heat before placing half or less of the amount of beans and liquid from your pot. *Be very careful, oil will begin to splatter when hot. Allow to boil briefly then lower heat to low. Add cheese and stir periodically. Watch beans thicken in consistency. Add water from pot if too dry. Once the consistency looks creamy (about 5-10 minutes) begin to mash beans with potatoes masher. Serve immediately.
Note: All ingredients are approximated amounts. Please feel free to add more or less to your recipe.
Beans can be store shelved for years making the beans hard and old. When purchasing beans make sure to go to a Latino market or a specialty store such as Whole Foods. For better freshness, purchase beans from bins instead of packages.
If feeling a bit wild, fry bacon and use oil for a great different taste. Want to get hot? Add one sliced jalapeno to the mix.