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Back to school typically means back to structure. As Moms, we tend to breathe a sigh of relief and accomplishment once the kids are off to school. And, many times, we need a vacation from our vacations! So, when the kids excitedly or drudgingly go back to the classrooms, take this time to reward yourself.

I say, within the first week of school, do something for yourself… schedule a massage, mani & pedi for your nails, take a different yoga or dance class you’ve never done before or read all the inspiring stories in The Balanced Mom Magazine! Do something for you.

Not only will you and your soul enjoy the time, but it will also prepare you for the school year. I see it like a trade-off. The kids get school supplies and new shoes, while you get pampered by doing something just for you.

Here’s to the next school year! Remember to breathe, love yourself, prioritize and pick your battles.

Enjoy your Fall issue!

Cheers!

Jennifer Griner, Editor In Chief

Jennifer GrinerThe season of Summer brings to us thoughts of vacations, warmth or heat waves, pool parties and backyard barbeques.

It is right in the middle of the year, between the first half of working and striving to accomplish what we set out to do and the second half of finishing the year off with a bang!

With that said, Summer gives us an opportunity (only if we’ll take it) to breathe, take time for ourselves to reflect on and celebrate what we’ve accomplished so far and think about what hasn’t been working for us in order to readjust and realign as necessary.

I love Summer. It is my favorite season, because it reminds me to pause, reflect and realign to get myself back on the right path for the rest of the year. And since I love the hot weather in Southern California, it also makes me want to play more causing the creative juices to flow!

My wish is that you use the season of Summer as an opportunity to go inside yourself, pause all that mental chatter so that your mind and heart open up to receive clarity and the messages or whispers that typically tend to get ignored during the busyness of life, but is so instrumental in guiding you to your personal path of purpose.

Take the time to be still and to listen to your whispers. They are your guiding light.

Wishing you safe travels, fun and fulfilling connections with family and friends and peaceful pauses to replenish and renew your soul.


by Jennifer Griner

Selfless courage describes Angela Schaefers, an amazing mom of three. With a diagnosis of a terminal illness, she has realized her purpose on this earth and has touched so many people around the world. Angela is the epitome of living life to the fullest and serves as a compassionate light for others to share their stories, heal from them and use them to make a difference in the lives of others.

Angela candidly shares her journey from diagnosis, family experiences and blessings to being a speaker and author who makes a big impact in the world.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a mom of three kids. I have 2 adult daughters in their twenties and a teenage son. I also have a beautiful granddaughter. Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage IV Saliva Gland Cancer. This was when I wrote my first book, Grief to Grace. It is a book that I wrote for my kids and wanted to just share with them but I ended up sharing it publicly.

I also produce a radio show called, Your Story Matters, which evolved from writing my first book. When I found out that other people were inspired and encouraged by my story, I realized there was something to that. Not only do I share my story but I share other people’s stories as well. We all have stories that matter. When I write and speak, I encourage people to share their stories and learn from them. On my radio show, I interview people so that they can share what they’ve gone through, how they overcame it and what they’ve learned.

My most recent book, Your Story Matters, You Matter – A guide to healing, learning from and sharing your story is a platform for people to start looking at their story. Open-ended questions are placed throughout the book for readers to write about their story, the importance of it and finding the message in it. I encourage them to share their story publicly or just within their family. Many times we’re not sharing with our own neighbors or colleagues and if they knew more about us, they might have a better understanding of us, which can build compassion, connection and open communication with each other. That is the goal of the book. I am also doing workshops, book signings and discussions with the book for people to understand how they can use the book and how it can really benefit them. My mission is to change the world one story at a time.

Share your journey in regards to having Stage IV Cancer.

To put it in layman’s terms, Stage IV is pretty much the end of the road. It’s where the cancer has evolved into something almost unmanageable and uncontrollable. In my case, it was diagnosed terminal and that was 10 years ago. I was told that I wouldn’t live long and that I needed to get my things in order. I had the option to do chemo and radiation, since it was Saliva Gland Cancer, I would’ve had to remove a tooth, my throat would be raw and I would be put on a liquid diet among many other things. I asked the doctors what it was going to do for me if I wasn’t going to live much longer. They didn’t have any solid evidence that it would give me a great deal of more time. So I declined it. I just continue to work on being healthy. I have an extreme amount of faith. I pray everyday. And I just keep a really positive attitude.

If this is my last day, I accept that. I’m at peace with that. But, in the meantime, if this isn’t my last day, I want to make the most of my time, which is what I do.

I still have cancer. I have two other slow growing tumors that have evolved which is pretty normal with the type of cancer I have. I never know how things will change and what will evolve. So, my focus is living for today. How can I be healthy? How can I feel good? Right now, there are so many things that people with cancer can do that help, such as alternative therapies. I have met people who are in Stage IV Cancer and have been for years. They’re still alive and trying alternative methods to help them feel better in their situation versus chemo, radiation or even some surgery.

How did you find out?

I was just sick. I thought I had a cold. When I went to the doctors, they found that my glands were swollen and I was prescribed an antibiotic. When I wasn’t getting better, I kept going back to the doctor. I went through about 3 rounds of antibiotics including the highest intensity kind. Nothing worked.

So, they did a needle biopsy in my neck where the lump was located. They said it was a benign tumor and that it was no big deal. They were just going to make a little, tiny incision on the left side of my neck, take it out and everything would be just fine. So, I went in and had the procedure. And when I woke up there were a couple of doctors and nurses there, and they looked like they were going to die. I asked myself, “What’s wrong with everybody?”

They explained that when they went in and saw the bump, it was really leading into a whole tumor that was all up and down the left side of my neck. They took out as much as they could, but they knew in the operating room that it was cancer.

Two weeks later I had to go back to get my saliva glands taken out. I ended up getting double surgery instead of the tiny incision I initially went in for. My scar ended up being really large on my neck. It doesn’t look as bad now, but my neck looked really sunken in. I felt horrified and it was shocking and challenging all at once. It was something that I wasn’t prepared for, because there was no prepping and discussion that I was going to look so different after the surgery.

I don’t know if life works better when you have preparation or an indication of what’s going to happen and dealing with it as it comes. I’ve had both situations all my life and I haven’t figured that out yet.

When I was first diagnosed, I felt very suicidal and very desperate. I didn’t want to leave my kids. My kids were a lot younger then and I was just beside myself with the thought of leaving them behind. I was so overwhelmed with the stress and worry about what would happen to them when I’m gone.

After the first year, I literally woke up one day and thought, “I’m still here. There’s got to be a reason.” So, I decided that I wasn’t going to accept death and spend everyday feeling fear while waiting to die. I didn’t have a specific time indication of my life. So, I shifted my perspective and it has just grown and evolved into a lot of gratitude, peace, faith and hope. It’s not a cliché that life’s short. It’s the truth. I feel people need to be constantly reminded of that.

For me, that’s part of my purpose. I discovered my purpose when I was writing my first book, Grief to Grace and realizing that everything that I’ve been through was worth it, because it helps other people.

I can look at it as a victim and say that I’ve had a rough life or I can say that I went through all this and learned a lot of things. The more I share that with others the more I understand that my experiences are for other people just as much as they are for me and my family.

How do you communicat e with your kids, especially early on, about what ’s going on with you?

That was really, really hard. Of course, at that time my son was just a toddler and there was no discussion there. However, with my daughters, we tried to talk about it, but it was just too overwhelming for them. I was overwhelmed. I was certainly a different person than I am today. Back then, I really didn’t have the support I needed to sit down with them and nurture them. But later on, reading my first book was enough for them because I shared so much in it. And as they got older, we began to have open discussions about what the situation is and I’m honest with them now if I don’t feel good or if there are any new changes.

I think they’ve grown into their own appreciation for life and know very specifically that this situation with me is part of their journey as well. I could live until I’m 90 years old or the end could happen tomorrow. But when I pass, my hope for my children is that they take what they’ve learned from our journey as a family, go with that and share that with people. It’s not an area many people talk about – watching people die, death, suffering and how it affects the family. So, I encourage them to do something about their part of the story and inspire others with it. They’ve been a support already, because they’ve had friends who have lost their moms or have gone through cancer. They’ve shared some of their feelings and have been very supportive. Again, it’s another blessing in disguise that I can impact them in a positive way.

It’s not an easy place to be where you just don’t know. Some days I feel better and other days I feel really, really sick and think, “Is this it?” That’s a weird feeling for me. It’s hard for my kids to deal with and I understand that. So, I always roll it back to one day at a time.

I have hopes, dreams and goals. But I’m also in a place where today is enough. I’m not trying to do so much even though I have done a lot. I’ve left a legacy. I know that the book and the show will always be there. Hopefully, they continue to get into people’s hands and I’m at peace with that.

Many people, especially women, have so much power that is not being used. And that’s why I teach others to just do something! You don’t have to go public and write a book, but do something where you can say that you’ve contributed. Even if it is raising your kids, do it well. You’re leaving a legacy in your kids.

What top advice would you give a mom who was just diagnosed with a terminal illness?

The first 2 things I would say is stop where you are, allow support and start taking care of you. One of the things someone said to me early on in my diagnosis was that I ended up that sick with cancer at that point of no return because I was always taking care of everybody else.

That was a true statement for me and for most women. We tend to go out of our way to accommodate everybody, especially when we have kids, but we don’t take care of our own needs and our health.

I didn’t think about eating right and exercising, because I always felt exhausted from raising kids. I always thought about losing weight, but not feeding my body right.

So, take care of yourself. Find out what that is for you.

And the second thing is to find some support. I’ve always been extremely independent since my childhood. I had to decide to reach out to other people and allow them to help me. I didn’t even know what relying on someone else was like.

I was on the phone comforting other people as they cried over my diagnosis. I lived in Florida at the time and I was telling people who wanted to fly over and offer help to stay where they were, not to worry and that I was fine.

In the past, I felt that I never deserved support or felt that was an option. So this really has taught me a lot about self-healing and self-love. The support of people taking care of me, comforting me and helping me with the kids is the same as loving and taking care of myself.

How did your radio show start?

My friend read my first book, Grief to Grace and said that I needed to share it with the world. Originally, I wrote the book only for my kids. I wasn’t planning on sharing it publicly. I didn’t think anyone would really care about my personal story, because I felt that it didn’t really matter.

When I was ready to get the book printed, my plan was to order just 50 copies so my kids and family members can have a few once I’m gone. In my mind, this was the ending part. However, my friend suggested that I order 500 copies, which I thought was a ridiculous idea. At the same time, I also believed that I needed to take heed of messages I received in my life. There had to be a reason why she said that. So, I went ahead and ordered 500 books and ended up selling every one of them by word of mouth. This is when I really realized the importance of sharing your story.

Along this journey, a lady approached me and suggested that I do a show about my story. I couldn’t just talk about myself. So, that’s when I started thinking that I could talk to other people about their stories and experiences.

I created Your Story Matters Radio Show. It has been an amazing experience of meeting and interacting with people who have inspiring and encouraging life stories and lessons. Everybody has a part of their story that they can share and make a difference in the lives of others.

I receive messages from all over the world about people being encouraged and inspired from my show. One lady from India contacted me and said that she finally realized what her husband was doing to her was called domestic violence. We discuss different topics on the show from addiction, suicide to cancer and other illnesses. It’s about ordinary people who went through extraordinary circumstances and found a way to get out of that to heal, learn from it and to move forward.

Share with us your journey that led you to write your 2nd book.

A lot of people started to approach me to help them write their story and help them figure out their message. So, I decided to write a book to answer the questions that I was frequently asked. The book is like a workbook. It has open-ended questions to get people thinking about their story.

It’s a guide to healing by sharing your own story, and why it matters. I share tips in the book on how to condense the story and get down to the message. Which I believe, is the whole point, when we go back and learn things from our stories, we’ll see the patterns and the message. You’ll see what characteristics and strengths you have developed personally from your own story that are unique to you.

What’s next for you?

I have another book coming out in the next couple of months called, Cancer Doesn’t Come Wrapped in a Pretty Ribbon. It’s about my story from the beginning of my diagnosis to now. I wrote it to be really authentic and true, not sugar coated at all. Some people may be offended by what I say or the feelings I felt throughout my experiences, but they are mine. The point of the book is to give people a voice and to help them know that it’s ok to feel whatever they feel, such as feeling anger and/ or feeling suicidal. These are all the feelings we are traditionally taught not to share or talk about.

What do you do to stay balanced?

I eat right and exercise regularly 5 to 6 days a week. I don’t skip that at all because I can feel the difference if I do. My intention is that when I do my best each day, I’ll continue to live and feel better. Since I’ve been on a journey of improving my health, I feel better physically and emotionally.

I definitely take time for myself. I do different activities that I find healing such as yoga, meditation and prayer. Whatever things I find that can feed my soul is what I do regularly.

I appreciate and love that I can inspire others, but I also found that I need space to take care of me. It’s still a constant learning journey to always be mindful of what I do, what I need and what am I f eeling. I check in and ask if I’m feeling overwhelmed by my schedule.

Especially as an entrepreneur, I don’t have scheduled breaks or a 9 to 5 day. Since I’m so passionate about what I do, I can work 7 days a week and/or 12 hours a day. However, that’s not a good lifestyle for me. So, I need to constantly find that balance.

What are the things in life you enjoy doing?

I love the outdoors and being active. I love to bike ride, kayak and I’m into running now. I just did a 5k, which shocked me. I love live music and tea time. And of course, I love a day at the spa. It’s about living my life to its fullest. I think people get confused by thinking they need to be rich, go shopping or go on big traveling trips to get away or have a good time. Although those things aren’t bad at all, it’s really about the everyday.

It’s about doing something that’s purposeful and meaningful to you. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. I love spending time with my kids. Sometimes we’ll just walk the pier or the park. We go on a lot of walks. Those are the things that fulfill my life and make it the best it can be.

Share something that would surprise people that know you.

My kids know this, but most people wouldn’t know that I’m definitely silly and kid-like to the point where my son tells me that I’m embarrassing to him. Before we go out in public, my son will sometimes tell me not to talk to other people’s kids and dogs.

I just love kids and dogs and for some reason, they’re attracted to me. So, we end up talking and I end up buying them ice cream or something.

by Jennifer Griner

A dedicated father to his two little ones, Joel Lane has a love of music and a talent for transforming things through painting. He shares what he loves about fatherhood, his favorite moments as a father and what he does to live a more balanced life.

Share a little bit about yourself.

I am 31 years old and live in the Sacramento, California area. I have two children. A 3 year old boy, named Noah and a 6 year old daughter, named Tatum. I am a single dad who is fortunate to have the kids quite a bit of the time.

I own a painting business called, Parkview Painters. I paint interior and exterior cabinets, furniture and also pianos.

Pianos are kind of an interesting thing for me because I used to be a music director at a church in Southern California. I am a musician and music has been my life for a lot of years. Being a single dad, I have not been able to play music much but I always have pianos in my house or at my workshop. Right now I have a total of six pianos in my house and workshop and I get to play around on them a little bit.

I started playing the piano when I was 5 years old and performing when I was 7. I recorded my first album at 13 and I have been in and out of quite a few bands. You can listen to some of my music and download some of my albums for free on my website www. JoelLane.com. I play soft rock music and while I was at the church I did two alternative style Christian albums.

In addition, I do a lot of running and I enjoy it. I did a half marathon last year and I am training for a triathlon happening in June at my hometown. Most of it is bike riding, which I am actually afraid of. I don’t like bikes, because three different times in my life, while riding my bike, the front tire just fell off, the rim and everything. I ate it and got all messed up. Now, I have this fear of riding bikes and I am hesitant to do the triathlon. But I figured it’s time to get over my fear of that and just go for it.

Tell us more about your business, Parkview Painters.

We do interior/exterior painting for residential homes. On my website there is a short video that shows me painting a condo in a minute and a half. It’s a fun, time lapsed video.

I had another business for about 3 years called, The Painted Past where we just painted furniture and pianos. I recently got divorced and I passed that business on to my ex-wife so that she could have income coming in. Now, Parkview Painters is my new business. I have two partners coming on that are also really good painters. I am going to be doing most of the marketing and setting bids, while I have my kids so I can work from home. The days I do not have the kids, I will be out painting as well.

Painting has been kind of something I’ve done since I was young. I’d pick up furniture at thrift stores or classified ads, paint it and resell it. I just like to paint furniture or houses and I enjoy the transformation from old to new.

What do you enjoy about being a father?

Being a father is something I enjoy but something I am scared of at the same time. I enjoy being a role model for my kids and instilling in my children good values and morals. At the same time, I get scared because I just hope I am doing it right. Many times I question myself. As they grow older I adjust and I have to read up on how to protect them, how to communicate with them better and let them know that they are loved.

Mainly, what I love is just the fact that I get to spend time with my kids, even if it is just sitting there having a picnic with them. Whatever it is, we create a lot of good times together.

When I was growing up, my dad worked a lot, all the time. So I make it a point to be available for my kids, at any moment of the day. I want to be around. I enjoy knowing that they know I am available for them and they can talk to me about anything.

At the beginning of this year, I realized that I am growing through them. In fact, a book called, Upside Down Mommy by Amanda Johnson helped me with that. As a parent, that book reminded me that these little human beings, my kids, are transforming everyday and we, as parents, are transforming with them. We are a part of that process. As a result, I have been making it a point to remember that concept and allow myself to transform and not be stuck in the ‘this is the way it’s gotta be’ mindset.

What top advice would you share with a first time father?

I would say to just allow them to be themselves and allow them to tell you what they need. A lot of times I get caught up in, “Okay, this is what we are doing; this is how you should do it; this is what you need to wear; smile like this; talk like that.” Sure, all those things are good, but I think there needs to be a balance. As parents, we need to listen more. I think we need to allow them to use their voice to express themselves and to just be themselves. That’s gone a long way with me recently. Now, I feel my kids can actually be comfortable using their voice and know that they are heard.

What are your favorite moments with your kids as a father?

My favorite moments would be snuggling in bed. For the last few months, they’ve been wanting to sleep in my bed. As a result, I don’t get any room at all with all three of us. I just really enjoy waking up next to them and seeing those smiles on their faces. The other times are when I don’t have anything else going on and I can give them my undivided attention. Anytime we can just get away from the house, get away from stress, we all seem to have the best times.

What do you do to live a more balanced life?

That’s been a pretty tough one for me lately because I am so used to having a partner to just balance things with. It’s been a learning process. At this time in my life, the main thing is that I’ve learned to just keep my eye on exactly what I need and stay focused on that, whether it’s finances, exercise or if it’s a break from the kids. I am constantly staying aware of that, throughout the day. So that way I can tell when I am getting to that point where I cannot handle it. With the kids, I take them for a walk, which is a big thing for us. We go out for many walks and go to the park a lot.

Also, having my goals written out for the week and just knowing that it will happen. I don’t have to stress about it. I remind myself that everything will fall into place and things will get done.

In addition, I think pre-planning is important. For example, today, I have a paint job and the kids will be with me while I am painting. I’ve got everything lined up. Lunch is all pre-made and I’ve got extra clothes for them. All that preplanning makes it easier to be on time to things and to get out of the house in an orderly way. Not too stressed.

The biggest thing for me is just taking breaks, even when I don’t have it planned out. If I plan to get something done this week, but the kids are on edge and everyone is just elevated, I know I need to just be aware of that for myself and know that it’s time to go to the park and go for a walk.

by Jennifer Griner

From the challenges and demands of motherhood, Amy Tirion became a beacon of light for many women searching to reconnect and find peace within themselves. Amy shares how the demands of life became detrimental to her well-being, how she creates space that invites the delicious pieces of life and how her new book came to life.

Share a little bit about yourself.

I am a mom of 2 girls who are about to enter the teen years, a 12 year old and a 10 year old. I also have a husband and they all bring me great joy. Right now, I would say that at my core, I just have a great desire to support women in finding their own centers of calm, wisdom and inspiration. It is because I am on this journey myself. It comes from a background of having a very intense ten-year corporate Change Management Consulting career with an international consulting firm. I did that work right up until having my first daughter.

Motherhood has been a very meaningful chapter for me. It has been a role of transition that ultimately brought me to create my business, Delight for the Soul and to author a new book, Knowing Beautiful which I am very excited about as well.

What was your journey that led you to your business, Delight for the Soul?

I think the physical demands of motherhood were pretty overwhelming for me, as I think they are for so many women and men. It is that time, especially in the beginning where, you just push through each day. For me, the days moved to years of pushing until I found myself at this level of exhaustion that I could no longer ignore. It got to the point where I would take my children to school and then need to crawl back in bed before I could even clean up the kitchen from breakfast. I just became extremely disconnected from myself on many levels.

I finally went to the doctor after a wake up call when I was shopping with my younger daughter for her birthday. It was only about 7 o’clock at night, and I literally thought I could not make it home. At the store, I was trying to figure out if I needed to call my husband to come and get us. I knew that there was something wrong with me.

I eventually went to the doctor and found out that I have an undiagnosed condition of Hypothyroidism. It is an auto-immune condition that is going to be with me the rest of my life. It is a condition that absolutely impacts my energy, my physical condition, my mental and emotional condition. Now I am on medication, which works out great.

However, of all the things that it could’ve been, I felt very blessed. Everyday I am being reminded of the importance of staying connected to my physical well being, to be more gentle with myself, and to find an ease in the world that is not going to be handed to me, and I am still working on that. I feel this awareness to be a gift.

That is really the invitation that I received to see my story, and then, really look and see how often it is reflected back, with some of these women I come in contact with. Women who are working so hard and managing so much. Often becoming physically depleted to the point where real conditions kick in.

That really is the birth of Delight for the Soul. It was my desire to honor women and help them see themselves, in all they do, and all that they are. To give them some deep meaningful insights into the fullness of what they bring to the lives of others. So that is my intention.

Delight for the Soul provides retreats. Tell us more about those retreats.

I do mini-retreats and I call them miniretreats because they are uniquely designed to fit into our busy lives. I also do workshops and keynotes for women, for teens and I have done a workshop for men as well, because we all need this. They are designed not only to pamper women, but to really guide them through a journey where they restore themselves from the inside out, on many levels. We focus on the physical side through doing yoga. We focus energetically through meditation. We focus emotionally through a combination of all of these things because our emotions are attached to all of this – all parts of us. The guided journaling around important topics for women and the guided discussion, really help women hone in on what they are personally going through in their own life journey. Sharing and connecting with others is a real source of comfort and support for women.

I also do painting. Painting is an important part of my programs for many reasons. It really is a contemplative tool to help women find another way of being by using the other side of their brain that is not the mental chatter. It is the creative nonverbal part of themselves. It’s there to be playful, fun and to try something new. Even though we really work hard at playing with our children, I find that our own sources of deep play feel far away.

In addition, I offer dance and other special retreats that focus on self-compassion, exploring joys and desires, strategies for renewal and transitions in motherhood.

As mothers, we need to be very aware of what we are modeling and what we are teaching our children, especially our daughters. How are we caring for ourselves or not? It not only impacts us but, with everything we do or don’t do, it is what we are teaching our children. What our own mothers taught us in their own ways is probably what has gotten a lot of us into our patterns.

Tell us about your new book, Knowing Beautiful.

I was interviewed by Elizabeth Arden for a documentary series they were producing called, “Her Story,” and they asked me the question, “What makes a woman beautiful?” I thought it was such a powerful question. It really was a question that stuck with me because I really wanted to think about my own answer. I think every woman should have a chance to figure out what their answer is and explore what creates beauty in themselves and in others.

In my own life, I started to be aware of that. I found that bedtime is the time when I was the hardest on myself. There is this thing about crawling into bed at the end of the day and instead of going to bed feeling the fullness of me, I often started a story in my mind about what I did not get done and what are the parts of my life that I needed to work on. All the agitations that get in the way of me feeling light about life tend to arrive for me at bedtime. It is hard to feel beautiful and critical of yourself at the same time.

I thought about all the stories I read to my kids and have been reading for years. I decided that I would love to end my day with a different story about myself, and really provide that same invitation for other women. Knowing Beautiful is an invitation for women to really look closely, see a different reflection of themselves and feel complete. It is a perfect bedtime story. It has a section for journaling with questions to guide women through the many wonderful layers of themselves. I wish I could put it on every woman’s nightstand, because it is a lovely way to tuck yourself into bed with a feeling of self-acceptance and serenity. That is why I wrote it.

You were profiled in Elizabeth Arden’s mini documentary series, Her Story. Share with us how that came about?

A woman, who is a regular reader of my blog, was hired as part of the creative team for this project at Elizabeth Arden. She asked me to come to their casting when they were interviewing women on both coasts to find who they wanted to profile. I was really touched that my story was one that spoke to them. There were a total of 14 amazing women who were highlighted. Through this documentary, I think it is another wonderful way to promote a deeper sense of beauty in women.

What does balance mean to you?

It’s an ongoing journey, isn’t it! I would say that I am a serious student. I am definitely not an expert, but I think that balance comes from having a quality of energy that matches what is being taken away by life’s demands. There is a space that I think is an important component of balance. Space between our breaths to send messages of balance and calm to our nervous system. Space between our thoughts to give our minds a break to soften our emotions and lessen the density of the mental pieces of our lives. By creating that kind of space, we make room to invite in all the delicious pieces of life.

If we approach life with space that gives us grace, which gives us mindfulness, it offers us strength to handle life. I am a true believer in space as a component of balance. It is a precious and powerful resource and it is something that I really teach in my workshops.

I also think that being gentle with yourself and playful with life helps to shift the weight of the world over to your side. This strategy is a constant exercise for me and it is how I invite balance in my own life. I know when I operate with more self-compassion, I see what is in front of me in a different way.

When you experience those times in your day when things are happening at such a fast pace, how do you quickly get back to mindfulness and balance?

Well, I think stepping away from whatever that is causing that sense in me is part of the space that I am talking about. Whenever I am working on my business and it is starting to feel intense, it’s time to take a break.

I know I need to give myself the time to power up again. That is when I build in time for yoga. I know that, for me, dance is a re-balancer. It infuses me with a different energy that makes me feel more capable. So I just have that as part of my week and it’s sort of a preventative.

I also think that, literally, just getting horizontal – lying on the floor and putting your feet up helps me see things differently. For me, there is something I love about being upside down. It is all about being mindful of what is overwhelming me and shifting perspective energetically and physically. I bring in selfcompassion and put that in between me and what I am bumping up against.

You mentioned yoga, dance and painting as things you like to do. What are other things you do to live a more balanced life?

I also use writing as a place of self-reflection that helps me process. I think that self-reflection is an important way to work through what is feeling heavy in life. There is a lot of talk about a new formal practice of gratitude. Whether it is a formal practice or not, I believe that connecting with what I am thankful for throughout my day helps ground me.

by Shaila Saint

With summer almost upon us, how many of us are figuring out the countless ways to keep our kiddos happy over the next few months? Whether planning happy family vacations, happy camp experiences, or making sure they’ll enjoy every minute of their visit to “The Happiest Place on Earth”, we parents sure go to great lengths to keep our kids happy, don’t we?

A web search I did on “raising happy children” came up with 39,300,000 results, so it must be important. In fact, a favorite exercise in my classes is to have parents visualize their children at age 18 and list the top adjectives they hope will describe them as adults. In the 12 years I’ve been doing this, “happy” has always been one of the top words on the list. And why not? I think most of us want our children to be happy, both now and in the future. But does striving to keep our children happy truly translate into creating happy adults?

Maybe not. I recently read a very thought provoking article entitled, “How to Land your Kid in Therapy. Why the obsession with our kids’ happiness may be dooming them to unhappy adulthoods” ( http://www.theatlantic. com/magazine/ archive/2011/07/howto- land-your-kid-in-therapy/8555/). The article explores the possible consequences of protecting our children from unhappiness, and how it may affect and diminish their happiness as adults. The author, Lori Gottlieb, is a pychotherapist and mother, who reports that she and her colleagues are seeing more and more patients in their 20‘s and 30‘s who seem to come from loving and stable families, yet suffer from depression, anxiety, and a general sense of emptiness.

“Many parents will do anything to avoid having their kids experience even mild discomfort, anxiety, or disappointment…with the result that when, as adults, they experience the normal frustrations of life, they think something must be terribly wrong,” explains Paul Bohn, a psychiatrist at UCLA. The article discusses how these protections are preventing our children from developing, what Dan Kindlon, a child psychologist, calls “psychological immunity.” Just like our body’s immune system needs to be exposed to pathogens to know how to respond to an attack…”kids need exposure to discomfort, failure, and struggle….and yet parents often have this instantaneous reaction to unpleasantness, which is ‘I can fix this.”

I can definitely recount many of my “fix-it” moments as a parent, yet one stands out for the lesson it taught me. When driving Conor, about 8 yearsold, to his soccer game, he began complaining that he didn’t get as much playing time as other boys on the team. Just as I was about to respond in my most empathetic way (and was strategizing the conversation I was going to have with the coach to “fix” things) I heard my husband tell him, “You don’t play that much because you’re not as good.” The silence from the back seat was almost as intense as the sinking feeling in my stomach. “Poor Conor,” I thought. “How is that hurtful comment going to make him feel? Angry? Hurt? Or maybe even (gulp)…UNHAPPY?” But I held my tongue, knowing deep down that my husband was right. It may have been upsetting, but it was a fact. And yes, that was a tough season for him (and me) as I watched him struggle through not playing much, getting frustrated, and often wanting to quit. But he survived. In fact, I think he more than survived. That season gave him a little perspective and humility, and definitely helped us both develop more confidence to face a struggle and come out standing (not to mention motivating him to practice his soccer skills)! As author Wendy Mogel implored, “Please let them be devastated at age 6…many times on the soccer field …and not have their first devastation be in college!”

Yet I think about the countless ways we parents and the institutions we’re associated with, strive to “fix” things for our children and keep them happy. These include the infant contraptions with non-stop stimulation, the contrived and controlled playdates that have replaced spontaneous neighborhood play, the over the top birthday parties starting in preschool, the loss of school P.E. games that seem too violent, and the trophies given to everyone, so no one ever feels hurt or left out. “Nowadays, it’s not enough to be happy—if you can be even happier,” Gottlieb notes as she observes this phenomenon as being truly unique to our generation. “The American Dream and the pursuit of happiness have morphed from a quest for general contentment to the idea that you must be happy at all times and in every way.”

I recently asked my dad, a very positive and happy person who has definitely seen his share of struggles, how he viewed happiness in terms of raising his children. He and my mom’s goals as parents, he said simply, were to raise responsible and successful individuals. He talked about the importance of not giving us everything we wanted all the time, and never giving us the feeling of being entitled. Happiness was never the goal he said, but hopefully a nice outcome from building up our own inner satisfaction. He actually likened it to sleep. If we set the foundations to get rest, internally and externally, than sleep will hopefully be the outcome. The same could be said for happiness. His viewpoint was reinforced in the article. “Happiness as a byproduct of living your life is a great thing,” said Barry Schwartz, a professor of social theory. “But happiness as a goal is a recipe for disaster.”

So as summer settles upon us, let’s take some of this to heart, when listening to the less than “happy” feelings from our dear offsprings– be it their struggle with boredom from ALL that free time on their hands, the summer camp they hate to attend, or losing out to their siblings for prime car seat territory during the long family road trip. Maybe by allowing them to experience these small struggles now, we are building up their psychological immunity to face and conquer the bigger and inevitable challenges that lay down the road. And feel the happier for it!

Shaila Saint

Mindful & Empowered Parenting

Shaila is the co-founder of Canopy, an organization whose mission is to be a comprehensive resource umbrella under which families can access a variety of supportive and meaningful opportunities to connect, reflect and refuel.

This includes mindful parent education and yoga classes, consultations, as well as live and virtual workshops, and local retreats and mixers, that focus on creating safe and non-judgmental environments for parents to connect with others, reflect upon interesting and relevant topics, and refuel with yummy treats and a little pampering and relaxation.

Read more about Shaila and her mission here.

by Shira Adatto

The weather is getting hotter… are you? I used to dread summer, and not because of the warm weather. Just the thought of having to get into a bathing suit made me cringe. It wasn’t until one summer when I looked at a photo of myself and realized the not-so-slim woman in the picture was myself that I finally got tired of being uncomfortable in my own skin. At that moment, it really clicked for me. As painful as it was, that photo made me realize that I needed to make a change and it was that mental shift that got me started down the path of getting fit and getting myself to a weight that I could feel good about. The fact of the matter is, any big change in life always starts with a decision to do so. Until you make that commitment to do something, nothing will change. And if you don’t have a big enough reason driving you to make that change, you won’t be able to stick to a plan of action. For me, seeing myself in that photo was my “why”. I was so tired of hating the way I looked in pictures. Letting years go by where I hid from the camera while precious family memories were being created was not an option.

Knowing what I wanted to accomplish, I decided to set a small achievable goal, to give myself something attainable, and not something that was going to feel too big or too overwhelming. So while I wanted to lose 30 lbs., I set a goal to lose 10. Why? Because how you start determines how you finish. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So, no matter what your ultimate goal is, the first 10 lbs. are going to be the most crucial and will set the rhythm for the rest of the journey. There is even research that suggests the odds of someone achieving their overall weight loss goal increases dramatically with whether or not they are able to lose the first 10 lbs.

Losing that initial 10 lbs. will also carry with it some remarkable benefits. You will look better, you will most certainly feel better, your friends will start to notice and you will gain more confidence. A 10 lb. difference can even do wonders for your overall health, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, improve your mood and self-esteem. It can even increase your brain power.

Scientifically, the first 10 lbs. will probably also be the ones you lose the fastest. Your body will react differently to a brand new change in your eating habits and will burn fat easier, faster and more efficiently. But the real key is that losing 10 lbs. is where old habits are broken and new habits are created. If you want to be a healthy, fit person, you have to create the habits of a healthy fit person. It doesn’t just happen with a mental shift.

So for those of you who are committed to Going for 10, here are my top tips for helping you do so:

Start the day right.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Those who skip breakfast tend to snack more and overindulge later on. A breakfast that is high in protein will give your metabolism a boost and reduce afternoon crashes. Protein smoothies are my breakfast of choice.

Get more Zzz ’s.

Research shows that people who get insufficient sleep tend to eat more and crave more carbs. As moms it’s tough to always get in enough sleep. So aim to be in bed by 10 pm.

Drink enough water.

Most people think that water while dieting is just to keep them full but in fact, dehydration can slow down your metabolism. In addition, most people confuse thirst for hunger.

Eat clean.

Whenever possible, eat whole fresh foods and stay away from highly processed empty calories. Put 10% less food on your plate. Little tricks like simply using a smaller plate can help you keep portions under control.

Exercise 10 extra minutes a day .

If you already exercise, extending your daily routine by just 10 minutes can help you through a plateau or kickstart your metabolism. If you don’t exercise at all, start by adding a 10-minute walk daily. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Use mobile apps to track calories.

Studies show that people who track their calories have much better results and don’t mindlessly snack throughout the day.

Don’t go it alone.

Go public with your goal and get an accountability partner to help keep you on track.

Increase your fiber.

Since fiber increases feelings of fullness, adding 10g of fiber a week can decrease overall calorie intake and help you lose weight.

Know your “Why” and remind yourself of it each day.

What are the reasons driving you to make this change? Do you want to have more energy? Live a long healthy life and be around for your kids? Avoid a life of sickness? Tired of hating the way you look, the way you feel in clothes, cringing at the site of yourself in pictures? You have to tap into the emotional reasons of WHY you want to make this change so that you stay committed to your goal.

Lastly, believe in yourself.

Believe that you can do this and you will. Do not sabotage yourself with self-doubt. We are all capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for. Visualize yourself succeeding, overcoming obstacles, have the belief that you can do this and you can.

Shira Adatto

Health & Fitness
Shira is a successful Mom Entrepreneur who runs Sheer Wellness and promotes the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge. Read more about Shira here.

by Emma Santizo and Tara Farajian

While female leaders such as Huffington and Sandberg help shape the national conversation about “worklife balance,” a growing number of working mothers want to work full-time, according to a Pew Social Trends survey released last week. The report found that 37 percent of working mothers think working fulltime is ideal, up from 21 percent in 2007. Half of working moms would like to work part-time, and just 11 percent say they’d rather not work at all. (Women Juggle Work, Sleep, Parenting Differently Than Men Do (INFOGRAPHIC), Huff Post, Less Stress Lifestyle, March 21, 2013).

We find it fairly significant that 37% of moms, feel it is ideal to work full-time. So if it is working for these moms, what are their tricks to finding balance, especially when it comes to summer when the kids are out of school?

Summer time is fast approaching and many questions come to mind, such as what are we going to do for a vacation, what projects would we like to complete, and what are the kids going to do? Sometimes, just the thought of all the possibilities of summer can be overwhelming.

Transitions in Motherhood would like to share with you techniques that have helped many moms balance all the “biz”. One of these techniques is creating a mindful “to-do” list. This could be done at the end of the day, when the kids are asleep and you are lying in bed. Having a pad of paper on your nightstand where you can give yourself a moment to digest the day and look at what would help you tomorrow. After a busy day, many moms say it is hard to settle down and fall asleep. This is when the list runs through their minds of what needs to get done and didn’t get done. So instead of having the list continually running through your thoughts, release them on paper. Some moms choose to journal at this time too, but you have to see what works for you.

Once you have identified your “to-do” list, you can itemize them by importance by assigning a number. With the number 1 signifying most important and 5 least important. This helps prioritize and also can remind you that completing everything may not be realistic, especially if you start to create a list that goes over 5 items. This is not the time to list personal goals and hopes for lifetime achievements. This is the list of what you need at the store, clothes that may need washing… If it isn’t rated a 1 or 2 give yourself latitude to do it tomorrow. There is always tomorrow.

Another trick of the trade that moms share is knowing your limits. If signing up to volunteer at different events, kid’s activities, clubs, or organizations doesn’t fit into your life or feels overwhelming, DON’T DO IT. We were talking with some moms recently and they spoke about hiding from PTA meetings and feeling guilty for not volunteering in their child’s classroom.

At the end of the conversation one mom said, “What is most important to me is that my child feels loved.” That’s it! At the end of the day, when you are creating your list and deciding what needs to get done, check in with your core… your core values and see if it all aligns. Of course, paying bills, submitting your taxes, and washing dishes might not be a part of your core values necessarily, but know what can go on the back burner. And check in with yourself to see what’s working.

Finding balance is truly a daily activity. Depending on the season, weather, time of the month, what feels like balance one day may not the next. The same is for our children. Finding down time for everyone may need to be scheduled. I really like the way the Huffington Post identified the need for “Serendipity Space”.

When you’re caught up in the routine of everyday life, it’s easy to forget that you’re modeling for your kids’ how to structure their time. The time is planned, but what happens within the time is serendipitous. (Stress Less Parenting, Huffington Post, March 24, 2013).

“Serendipity Space” may occur at home or in the car in between activities. Taking time to sing your kids favorite songs in the car, have a snack, chat, or play tic-tac-toe. It’s planned, but only the time is…what happens within the time is serendipitous.

So what about the summer, right? Everything above can be applied all year round, but the summer is special or at least you want it to be. Another brilliant mom shared how she has a meeting with her family and discusses what everyone wants to do for the summer. This does not mean it will all happen, but it gets “buy in” and helps in planning. If you have certain options you would like to present, have those prepped for the meeting. If you know of certain summer camps/ classes that are within budget that your kids can choose from, you can present them. Have a calendar to reference during the meeting, so you can remind everyone of the time frame and perhaps certain commitments that may be non-negotiable. We hope this gives some more tricks to the trade of balancing.

Transitions in Motherhood recognizes that life is full of transitions and sometimes we may lose sight of what is really important in life and that is when depression or anxiety might set in. We provide a very nurturing environment where you can talk freely and openly. Feel free to check out our website at Timotherhood.com for more resources.


Emma and Tara are co-founders of Transitions in Motherhood, an organization dedicated in helping families, especially mothers, and their mental health.

Emma Santizo, LCSW

Transitions in Motherhood
Motherhood Balance
Read more about Emma here



Tara Farajian, LCSW

Transitions in Motherhood
Motherhood Balance
Read more about Tara here

by Jamie Leff

It’s summertime!

Which means warmer weather and outside activities. Kids love to run around, play sports, and stay active in the summer time. It’s important to keep your family hydrated this summer. One common complaint I get from my clients is that they can’t seem to get their kids to stay hydrated. They do not like the taste of water, so they just won’t drink enough of it. Here are some fun and easy tips to make sure you and your family are getting the liquid they need:

Instead of soda, try sparkling water.

You can add lemon, lime or even a splash of juice to give it flavor. Some brands also come in different flavors. Just be cautious about the sweetened ones, as most of them contain some sort of artificial sweetener.

Eat juicy fruits.

The more water in the fruit, the more hydration it will provide. Great options are watermelon, oranges, and grapes. (Here’s a tip: Freeze little baggies of grapes for a cold, refreshing treat!)

Have soup for dinner!

If something hot does not sound appealing, try this recipe for a yummy chilled carrot soup from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients :

• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup diced onion
• 2 pounds carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
• 5 1/2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon honey
• Salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 cup fresh unseasoned coarse breadcrumbs
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• Thinly sliced baby carrots, for garnish

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add carrots, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until carrots are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Filling a blender halfway and covering with a kitchen towel, puree soup in batches. Stir in honey, and season with salt and pepper. Chill soup for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

3. Before serving, prepare breadcrumbs:
Heat olive oil in a medium-size saute pan over medium-high heat. Add fresh unseasoned coarse breadcrumbs.

Stir constantly until toasted and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool. Stir in finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon breadcrumb mixture, and thinly sliced baby carrots if desired.

Make homemade smoothies with water or coconut water and fresh fruit.

Just pick your favorite fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen), add about 8 ounces of liquid per serving, blend and enjoy.

Save the leftover smoothie and pour it into popsicle trays and freeze for homemade popsicles.

Your kids will love these because it is a yummy treat, while moms will love them because they are made from fruit, without any added sugar.

Let your children pick out a special water bottle just for them to encourage them to drink more water.

If it is something fun that they enjoy, they will be more likely to want to take it with them to places.

Make a game with your kids, including a rewards chart for however many glasses of water they drink in a day.

While it is important to make sure that everyone is getting adequate fluid, not all beverages are created equal.

Avoid giving your family the following beverages, as they contain a lot more sugar and very little nutritional benefit:

Avoid giving your kids too much juice. Limit it to one glass a day, and if possible, dilute it with water.

Avoid sodas. Not only are they high in sugar, the phosphoric acid is terrible for their teeth!

Gatorade is for gators! Did you know Gatorade was originally invented for the college football team, the Florida Gators. It was designed as a way to replace electrolytes lost after hours of excessive sweating. If you or child is involved in a strenuous activity that lasts longer than an hour, then an electrolyte beverage such as Gatorade would be appropriate. Otherwise, drinking it as a recreational beverage provides too much sugar and the extra electrolytes are not necessary.

A common question I get asked is, how much water should I drink in a day? How much should my kids be drinking? The general guidelines are to take your body weight and divide it in half. That is how many ounces of fluid you should be drinking on a daily basis. Not to get too graphic, but a good rule of thumb is to check out your urine. If it’s relatively clear, then you are in good shape!

Lastly, beware of dehydration! Symptoms can include dry mouth, sleepiness or tiredness (children tend to be less active than usual), dry skin, headache, decreased urine output, constipation, and lightheadedness or dizziness.

A common comment I get is, “I only drink when I’m thirsty.” Believe it or not, thirst is also a symptom of dehydration. Do not wait until you are thirsty to rehydrate. Hopefully, these tips will help to keep you and your family healthy and happy this summer season. Got any additional tips you want to share? Head over to www.JamieLeffNutrition.com and shoot me a comment! I’d love to hear from you.

Jamie Leff

Health & Nutrition
Jamie is a registered dietician who hopes to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle.
Read more about Jamie here
.

by Georgia Theodorou

It’s almost summer and the question is – Have you accomplished your goal of getting organized? Was this goal one of your New Year’s Resolutions? Do you still have one of those “How To” books on your table? Don’t worry. It’s not too late to get started and get going.

With today’s busy moms, life can get very hectic from balancing work and family obligations to juggling the kids’ school and outside activities. Just trying to find the time to relax is extremely challenging. The road to a more balanced life can be accomplished once your home, work and daily routines are in place and organized.

To be successful in getting and staying organized, you need to focus on three key themes: set up good habits, always follow up and stay consistent. Some of the key tips and techniques to help accomplish your goals include:

Start with Small Steps

If you find that you want to organize and declutter your home or business, don’t try to conquer everything all at once. Start with one room and a small section at a time. Maybe choose the top of your desk and once this is organized then look at your drawers. Set simple goals and work to accomplish these target areas. Believe me, this will help you eliminate the feelings of overwhelm and frustration.

Everything Should Have a Place

Remember when mom would tell us to put our things away as kids? Little did we know that she was preparing us to be organized. If you follow this concept, your life will be on the way to being organized and clutter free. How does this work? Every item you own should have a designated area or place. It should not be on the floor or on top of your desk or kitchen table. Take action and put all the items away as you go. This eliminates piles around the house.

Create Routines

The best way to keep your life organized is to create routines. We have routines for our children and as busy moms we need routines too. The same applies to organizing our homes and our lives. Set a routine for everything from laundry, bills, running errands, mail, household chores, cooking, work responsibilities and so on. Make sure to be consistent and to follow up with your routines. Have a daily or weekly list of things you need to get accomplished. If for some reason you can’t complete your task, make sure to follow up the next day. Don’t get behind because the more you have to do the more you feel overwhelmed and not do anything.

Put Things Away and Clean Now

Are you finished with something? Most of us will leave the item somewhere with the intention of putting it away later. But what happens in the meantime is that other items will stack on top and the pile becomes larger and too overwhelming to conquer. If you finished folding the laundry, put the clothes away now. The same applies for cleaning up. Develop a good practice of cleaning as you go. Don’t wait till the dishes pile up in the kitchen sink. Wash them right away. Trust me, it takes less time to clean as you go then to wait for things to pile up.

Simplify Your Filing System

One of the most basic ways to find papers when you need them is to retrieve the papers from an effective filing system. A good filing system will allow you to find what you are looking for with no problems. Most will utilize one or a combination of three basic filing systems: alphabetical, numerical or chronological (Jan, Feb, etc…). Use the system that works well and that you will follow to locate your documents quickly.

Share A Calendar

It doesn’t matter what type of calendar system you utilize, just as long it works for you and your family. Make sure to indicate all your activities from work, personal, kid’s school and extracurricular activities, birthdays, family obligations, and other activities to ensure follow up. Keep all of your family’s scheduling in one place. Google calendar is a great online tool that is quick and easy to use.

Tame Your Email and Mail

With today’s abundance of technology, I find that keeping a handle on email is a growing area of frustration and disorganization. Why? Most individuals will look at email and take action later. This approach turns into hundreds of emails and piles of mail. My advice… “Touch it and take action!” Read your mail and quickly sort all the bills in one place to be paid and read the rest and take action. This same theory applies to email. Reply to your emails and then create folders to put your emails that you want to save. Strive to have no old emails in your inbox. Your inbox should have the recent emails that you are following up. Don’t get behind in this area, it will get overwhelming and eventually out of control.

You can be organized by utilizing some of these essential ideas, however many individuals will have a difficult time continuing with these methods on a consistent basis. Give it a try—you have nothing to lose! You might even be surprised how easy life can be once you are organized. If you are still having a difficult time, please let me know. As a Professional Organizer, I evaluate each of my client’s needs and make suggestions to help implement effective and repeatable techniques. Whatever road you take, make sure to get organized and you will notice that your life will be more balanced and you will have additional time to enjoy the things that are most important in your life.

Georgia Theodorou

Georgia Theodorou is a Professional Organizer and founder of Organizational Concepts & Balance which specializes in residential and small business organizing. Georgia is committed to organizing and creating efficient households and effective businesses for the long term. Georgia has helped many clients from working professionals to stay at home Moms and today’s busy families. All of Georgia’s clients have one thing in common, they want to stop the chaos and find more time to enjoy life. The road to a more balanced and enjoyable life can easily be accomplished once your home, work and daily routines are in place and organized. Visit www.OCandB.com for more information.