The Science Behind a Happy Relationship

I had the honor of being a “pioneer” at Happify, which is a site (an app) that uses scientific methods to help the user increase his/her happiness levels. They have just released this infographic, and I am “happy” to share it with you!

Click on the image below to view the entire thing.


Candy Land

So, it’s November first – the day after the kiddos have dressed up and gone into a sugar coma! Can you believe how quickly this year has gone by? As you’re going about your day and glancing over at the loot left over from last night, consider these tips on how not to overindulge:

  • Divide the candy and treats into “portion sizes” and put each portion in a Ziploc baggie (a reasonable portion is 2 – 3 “fun size” candy bars)
  • Eat fruit instead of candy when your sweet tooth comes a-calling
  • Give yourself permission to eat a portion of candy on certain days (for example, “I may have my portion on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.”)
  • If you pig out, don’t thrash yourself. We’re all human and most of us love chocolate! After all, it boosts serotonin and releases endorphins, which elevate mood!
  • Use these same tips with your kids – moderation is the key to preventing tummy aches and you’ll be teaching them the importance of a healthy, balanced diet.

Days like Halloween, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah are usually filled with all kinds of sweet treats. Having a plan in place before you face the table full of desserts will help you stay on track with your healthy diet. After all, physical health is one of the basics of self-care!

Self-Care During the Heat Wave

Temperatures have been breaking records all over the country due to the extreme heat. Not only is it uncomfortable, but triple-digit temperatures can be the cause of illness and even death if you don’t take care of yourself!

Some self-care techniques may seem obvious when you step outside and immediately start sweating. Stay inside where there’s air conditioning, drink plenty of water, and, if you do have to be outside for more than 15 minutes, wear at leastSun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 sunscreen to protect your skin from dangerous sunburns and seek out shady spots and take breaks often. However, there are some facts about self-care in the heat that many are not aware of.

Pools are popular places for residents to go for relief from the heat. The cool water masks the fact that you are still most likely sweating. Also, the pool water can actually focus ultraviolet (UV) rays on to your skin in a more extreme manner than if you were out of the water. So if you think you have less of a chance of getting burned in the pool, think again. Don’t pass up that SPF 30 or greater sunscreen, and apply it often – about every 30 minutes. This also applies to visits to the beach or a lake!

Cloudy, breezy days also seem to encourage folks to come outside. Many people believe that since it is cloudy, their risk for sunburn is diminished. Unfortunately, UV rays easily penetrate even the thickest cloud cover can can burn skin just as quickly as they would on a clear day.

It is true that the best times of the day to be outside in weather like this is in the mornings before 10 a.m. or in the afternoons after 4 p.m. The sun is not high in the sky during these times and UV rays are not as harsh. However, if you are required to be outside for over one hour during the heat of the day, wearing long sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat will give you the greatest protection. It sounds backwards, but the clothing will protect your skin and will also help absorb moisture from sweat. In this case, it is essential to stop and drink water every 10 – 15 minutes to lessen the chances of experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. It used to be common thought that sugar and caffeine found in sodas and other drinks actually dehydrated the body, but this has been found to be false. However, experts still agree that water is the best option for hydration in temperatures this hot.

It looks like the heat is here to stay for a while, but using the self-care tips outlined above, you and your family can navigate the summer free of sunburns and heat illness.

They Grow Up So Fast

It is almost noon and I am sitting here waiting for my teenage girl to wake up. It is now summer break, and she takes advantage of catching up on her sleep deficit. As I sit here, I’m feeling nostalgic and a little bit sad.

Yesterday, the kiddo and I made plans to spend the day together. It’s my day off and it seems like I don’t see her very often. She’s really good about doing all her chores and so her reward is being allowed to visit friends. And visit she does! I know her friends now know her much better than I do, thus the sadness.

I remember when she couldn’t wait to spend time with me. She was always a “momma’s girl” and really still is in a lot of ways. I know in my heart that this is what happens developmentally: adolescents focus more on their peers than on their parents. She’s developing her individuality. She’s proving the idea that “they grow up so fast.” But who says I have to like it?

This is our challenge, moms! We have to move into acceptance as our children grow up. It is our job to teach them and guide them so we can feel confident about them eventually going out into the big, bad world. There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad or whatever else you may feel. Just make sure you don’t let yourself go down the “hurt” road. Your child is not trying to hurt you on purpose; he/she is doing his/her job, which is growing up and launching him/herself out into the world. You don’t have to like it, but just know that’s how it is. Accept this and look back at all the things you and your partner have given your children: lessons learned, guidance, being there through sickness or emotional issues, and letting them know that you will always be here if they need you. That, my friends, is how it’s supposed to be!


I spent the weekend watching movies on Showtime and its partner channels. Most of them were older, such as Medicine Man and The Core. As I watched, one thing stood out in each movie: recognition. Whether it’s a presentation of a new project or a potential cure for cancer, the characters wanted to make sure their names were included in the program/scientific journals.

As American culture dictates, we all work hard and try to be as productive as possible. But what do we work for (besides our paychecks)? Recognition or praise. Some managers recognize this need and make sure to praise their employees when appropriate. As a result, the employee will want to continue to work hard to keep worthy of the praise that was given to him/her. Recognition is a great motivator.

Praise is within your reach anytime you need it. This may be a difficult task, but pepper your self-talk with positive things. Instead of I am such an idiot! try I made a mistake, but I am human. I forgive myself. Extend your positivity to your children; praise them any time they are exhibiting pleasant behavior. Thank you for being such a helpful boy! encourages the child to be helpful more often. Giving praise to family, friends, co-workers, kids and especially yourself will make life much sunnier and definitely more peaceful. Happy April!

Racing to “Nowhere”

I was fortunate enough to see a screening of the independent film, Race to Nowhere. The filmmakers interviewed students, teachers and parents from across the country to gauge the stress levels of our nation’s families. If you have kids, particularly in grades 6 – 12, you probably already know how overworked and overscheduled our children are. But have you given thought to the ramifications of their stress on you?

The film suggested that some schools and families started worrying about getting into a good college as early as first grade! And in order to do that, the student must have spectacular grades, many extracurricular activities, student clubs and community service projects. You may be aware of how much time you’re spending in the car or working on homework with your kids, but have you noticed that their stress levels are sometimes fueled by us, as parents?

Whether you work or stay at home, you have a full-time job. You’re already stressed enough. The film pointed out that time spent doing homework has increased from 1 – 2 hours per night prior to 6th grade to 4 – 6 hours between grades 6 – 12. They also pointed out that after 1 – 2 hours, the correlation between amount of homework and academic achievement is zero.

Are We Running Our Kids Ragged?

Step back from your kids for a minute. No, you can’t directly control how much homework they have, but you do have a say in what clubs, extracurriculars and community projects they are involved in. Do you see anything that can be dropped from their schedules? Are they in some activity because they “should” instead of because they “want to”? If so, I challenge you to talk with your student about paring down his or her daily schedule. Not only will their stress levels go down, but so will yours. And self-care for the entire family will go up!


Three steps to teachable holiday moments

The holidays often sucks us into the gimmes, just like our kids, as we make the holidays happen. We easily lose track of the underlying message of the season for our kids. Consider these focused activities to reconnect with the holiday lessons:

1) CHOOSE actively, in line with your values. Stop and consider what you want to teach about the holiday season. You might want to say no if an event is too commercial, or detracts from planned family time. It’s fine to focus on fun–and opt out if an event is more drudgery or duty than pleasure. This is your holiday, too, and you have the right to celebrate it in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable for you. What a good example for your children!

2) INVOLVE everyone in the process of giving, helping small children pick out toys for the holiday toy drive, donate from their piggy banks to the bell ringer at the grocery, or make macaroni necklaces for favorite aunts or sitters. Older children might perform a chore, or sing/perform on an instrument for neighbors, visiting family, or residents of a senior living community.

3) READ one book about your spiritual perspective and traditions nightly. Every library has a children’s librarian eager to suggest new (or old favorite) titles. On the subject of reading, consider a classic book as a gift each year. Building a personal library for a child fosters a lifelong love of reading, one value to focus on that continues throughout the year.