Don’t Labor-Enjoy the Day!

Today is the perfect day to celebrate all the hard work you do by taking time off. Whether we are caring for our children, partners, parents, friends, or pets, most women labor all the time, both in and outside of home. So just today, climb back in bed, have a cup of coffee, watch the TV show you want, go to the mall, have your nails done, read a good book, or do whatever suits you. You can go back to work tomorrow. For now, enjoy!

For more ideas about what you can do to make self-care part of your life, visit “Taking Care of You: Body, Mind and Spirit” at http://extension.missouri.edu/takingcare. I just got trained in this program and can’t recommend it enough.

Have a great day.

Kids Need Self-Care, Too

One of my daughter’s best friends is Chinese. Her parents came to the U.S. before she was born, so she is an American citizen. Her mother, on the other hand, is holding on tight to the Chinese culture. This causes heavy distress for Jane* as she tries to make Mom happy while fitting in with her friends. I call this phenomenon, which happens more than you would think, Cultural Gap. Jane is falling right into it.

As I watch how things go in Jane’s household, I realize just how high her mother’s expectations are for her. If she makes an 89 on a paper or test, she gets sent to a tutor. She is expected to excel in all areas, and is taking an art class taught by a famous Chinese artist. As you can imagine, Jane is quite miserable sometimes, and she and her mom butt heads constantly.

In this case, the main player is culture. Jane and her mom are having a tough time navigating between Chinese and American cultures. Yet, I see plenty of American children going through similar experiences, being held to impossible expectations and being punished for a “B”. Just look around on the Internet and you’ll find all kinds of studies about how kids these days are more stressed than ever.

Our readers with kids in school, have you noticed if your child or children are extra stressed? Have you evaluated your expectations? Have you spoken to your child about how he/she is feeling? As parents, we sometimes get so focused on external achievements, like grades and extracurriculars, that we overlook the consequences they can have on our offspring.

One thing that my family does to lower stress is limit our 13 year-old daughter’s extracurriculars to 2 activities. We also went from the “you must take all Pre-AP [advanced placement] classes” to “take whatever classes you can handle.” Our daughter has a special situation. As the child of 2 anxious parents, she has developed OCD. So it is especially important to us to help her manage her stress, and knowing that our expectations are meetable definitely helps.

If you have dealt with, or are currently dealing with, a stressed-out child, what advice would you give to other parents as to how to help manage the stress?

*Name changed to protect privacy

If I Were A Guy???

This is the question I’ve been asking myself lately. Why? Because I’m in the “middle” of negotiating a lease for my new Midwest Mind Body Health Center which opens Oct. 1, and I’ve been in the “middle” for the past 8 weeks.

When I first saw the building, I asked the owner to deal with me directly but he said he’d hired a real estate broker and it’d be better to speak with him. Would a man have agreed to this? I don’t know, but I did to “be nice.” What’s happened since then? Not much. The broker has been on vacation twice, doesn’t answer morning calls, isn’t much better later in the day, and took 10 days to get me the draft of my lease even after I decided to take a bigger space in a building that’s only half-full.

Not a great way to run a business especially in a real estate market that’s glutted. Then yesterday I decided I’d had enough and called the owner who seemed “clueless” that his broker was handling our deal like this. I told him I’d tried to respect his request that I work with the broker but I’d had enough. How soon would a man have done this? Probably much sooner. Certainly a man wouldn’t have been “nice” about it when the broker wasn’t doing his job.

Although I was raised to be a “nice girl,” I was also brought up to respect myself. While I know the broker is not intentionally disrespecting my time and need to wrap things up, I’m done waiting for him. Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different solution.”  So, Monday I’ll be phoning and e-mailing the owner again to get my lease settled. If the broker ends up with mud on his face, he’s earned it.

What are your thoughts about this? What would you do? How long would you “be nice.” Let us know.

Battling the Back-to-School Blahs

Now that my daughters are older, starting school is less challenging time and energy wise. But for those of you who still have younger children, August can be a stressful and depleting month. Here are some recommendations from Lisa Salazar, a therapist and mom of two teens and a toddler, who’s found that organization and routine is key to decreasing stress and maintain a healthy balance in at home.

Schedule family time:  Allow your children to help plan a weekly family night.  An example is renting videos and watching them at home with favorite movie snacks to enjoy.  During family night, rules should be established, such as no texting or taking phone calls.

Choose chores:  Because everyone’s schedules are busier now, it is helpful to have a family meeting where everyone can decide which chores they will be responsible for.

Homework:  By providing your children a calendar and having one for yourself, both of you can jot down any special dates and scheduled tests.   Staying organized is the key to a successful school year!

Observe child’s behavior:   Be mindful of any changes in behavior, sleep, and eating behaviors.

Offer support and solutions:  Be your child’s strongest advocate.  Reach out to teacher s and counselors to help you and your child.

Listen:  Use car rides home and dinner time to talk with your child.

Real Mom Lisa

Today’s guest author is Lisa Salazar, MA, LMFT, LPC who is a licensed marriage and family therapist.  She has been married for 18 years and has 3 children.   Books in the Burbs is a blog that Lisa maintains to write book reviews.

Summer Sunsets and Back-to-School

These last precious moments of summer pave the way for the annual back-to-school countdown. Are you ready to rumble?

While we’d love for all our days to be relaxing, purposefully lazy and carefree, we
know that’s not reality. Darn it. Sounded good though, didn’t it?

How do we make that transition smoother? What’s a mom to do? You’ve gotten used to the kids being around, if only for a few weeks. With the change in season, come changes in schedules and stress-levels potentially on the rise.

Here are a few quick tips to make the transition a little less bumpy:
• Create special back-to-school routines for you and the kids
• Take care of all the shopping ahead of time to ensure proper planning
• Pay attention to those phone calls and emails coming from school
• Create a special way to say “see you later,” when dropping off at school
• Take a tour of the school with your child so he or she knows where
everything is
• Have a family meeting to discuss any and all loose ends

It doesn’t take much for families to get it together as new things come our way. A
little prior planning prevents poor performance.

Today’s back-to-school author and mom is Mollee Bauer, founder of pregnancy.org, the premier website for info, advice and support for pregnancy, new moms and early motherhood. To visit, click here.

When A Mother Kills-How We Can Prevent This

Last Monday, the unthinkable occurred in the idyllic, picture perfect community just 10 minutes from my home. A mom who was known to have struggled with depression but seemed to be “doing okay,” shot her children and then killed herself. A week later, it’s become clear that a severe mental illness led to their deaths.

Could this and other tragedies like the recent movie theater shootings have been prevented? I think so. Because of the stigma associated with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder, people are afraid seek help for fear of being labeled “crazy.” Instead, they try to “mask” their distress by appearing “normal,” which doesn’t work. Likewise, they frequently don’t continue with counseling until they’re well or stay on their medicines because they don’t want to admit the full extent of their illness.

Truth is that each of us is vulnerable to depression, anxiety, OCD or bi-polar disorder depending on what runs in our family and that under the right conditions/stressors, we’ll experience a clinical episode. But, we believe that nothing as bad as the above tragedies will happen because we’ll be able to stop it. Tragically, when you have a severe mental illness and your brain isn’t working right, terrible things can happen to anyone. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

What can we do to prevent such bad outcomes? First, we must let go of any stigma we have about mental illness. Next, acknowledge that depression, anxiety, OCD and bi-polar disorder can affect anyone, including us.

Click here for video- Understanding Mental Issues for Mothers

Know our family’s mental health history and seek help immediately if we start feeling bad and it’s not letting up. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the most we’ll be out is our time and co-pay if we discover you don’t need help. Make certain our loved ones do the same. Insist they follow their health provider’s recommendations until they’re fully recovered and without symptoms for a minimum of six months.

We can make a difference for ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s start today.

How Our Children Teach Us to Surrender

One of my most challenging life lessons has been surrender-letting go of what I want to have happen and allowing life to unfold naturally. Sound familiar? I imagine it is. Why is this so hard to do? Because we’re convinced that if we “let go” bad things or at least random things will happen, that will be bad for us. But if we hang on really tight, then we can produce the desired outcome. Right?

What often happens though is that we produce the effect we wanted to avoid. Take our children for example, the more we struggle to make them like us, the more they fight to be themselves. I am not talking about teaching them to be kind, respectful and compassionate. Of course, we want to do everything we can to instill these values. What I mean is trying to control who they become like who they choose as friends or the interests they pursue.

Here’s what Kahlil Gibran had to say “On Children”

“Your children are not your children, They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”

This week, look deeply into your child’s eyes and ask “Who are you? Who are you becoming?” Then listen with your intuition. If you don’t have children, look into your own eyes in the mirror and ask the same questions. Finally, release whatever comes to mind and let the universe fill in the details. Ah, the sweet taste of surrender.

Enjoy!

Sex and Creativity: The Power of the Second Chakra

As you know, I recently spent a week at “Seduction of Spirit,” a signature workshop given by Deepak Chopra and his talented Chopra Center instructors. While there, we studied the seven “chakras” or energy centers in our body. Today, I want to pass on what I learned about our second chakra-the seat of our sexual energy and creativity-physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Second chakra energy is critical to he evolution of consciousness which depends on sexual union and procreation but also our union with universal consciousness which you may call God, Jesus Christ, Buddha or your higher power. What this means is that by expressing yourself creatively in your own unique way through the arts and who you, you enable life to change for the better. If this sounds a little “woo woo,” keep listening because when you are in harmony with the “cosmic dance,” life is an endless, creative pursuit which flows effortlessly.

Here’s what Patanjali, the author of Yoga Sutras had to say in the first to third century B.C.

“When you inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds;

Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new great and wonderful world;

Dormant forces, faculties, and talents come alive, and your discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

This week express second chakra energy by connecting with your authentic self through pleasure and joy, physically, emotionally, and spirituality. Abandon yourself to the cosmic dance. Let the energy of the universe flow through you free and unbounded.

Enjoy!

The Law of Giving and Receiving

I just got back from a wonderful week of meditation and yoga with Deepak Chopra and the amazing Chopra Center teachers. In it, they talked about how each day corresponds to one of “7 Spiritual Laws of Success,” and ways to practice each law on a given day.

So, here’s my first gift for you-ideas from Deepak Chopra about how to put Monday’s law, the “Law of Giving” into practice.

1. Bring everyone you come in contact with today a gift. For example, a smile, compliment or hug. Be creative. Material gifts count too but research shows that affection, attention and acceptance nourish our souls most.

2.  Be grateful for all life’s gifts like the sun, the flowers and waking up in the morning. Be open to receiving gifts from others whether it’s a material gift, compliment or kind remark. Let it soak in.

3. Keep the ultimate “wealth in life” -love, affection and caring ” circulating through giving and receiving which work in unison to keep the energy of the universe flowing. Send lovingkindness silently to everyone you meet.

My second gift to you is to encourage you to sign up for the Chopra Center’s 21-Day meditation challenge “Free to Love” which starts today. Each day has a guided meditation, inspiration and practical tips about improving your health and well-being. Don’t pressure yourself about this. Be open-minded and take from it what works for you. That’s all.

Enjoy!

To Celebrate the 4th-Let’s Go Crazy

To celebrate the 4th we wanted to do something fun. Hope you enjoy this taste of crazy. Have a great holiday week and stay cool!

To Maintain A Healthy Level Of Insanity (from unknown online author):

1. Sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. Watch them slow down!

2.
On all your cheque stubs, write ‘ For Marijuana’

3.
Skip down the street rather than walk and see how many looks you get.

4. Order a diet water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.

5. Sing along at the Opera.

6. When the money comes out of the ATM, scream ‘I won! I won!’

7. When leaving the zoo, start running towards the car park, yelling ‘Run for your lives! They’re loose!’

8. Tell your children over dinner, ‘Due to the economy,
We are going to have to let one of you go.’


And the final way to keep a healthy level of insanity

9. PICK UP A BOX OF CONDOMS AT THE PHARMACY, GO TO THE COUNTER AND ASK WHERE THE FITTING ROOM IS.

Send this to someone to make them smile.

It’s called …. THERAPY

Today’s post is dedicated to Chris W who always finds a way to smile and helps others do so too. Thanks for sending this to me. Happy 4th.