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Posts tagged ‘healthy’

Month 4 of Taking Care of You: Pamper Yourself

Pamper YourselfThis is the fourth installment in the “Taking Care of Me” series. In month one we examined Habits, month two we looked at Loving Ourselves, and month three we examined Letting Go Of Something Toxic. This month is about Pampering Yourself.

This month, for the first time in years, I actually looked at my face. Sounds pretty crazy right? For years I have not taken the time to look in the mirror. With how busy of mom life is each morning, I would wash my face, brush my teeth and get on with reading for the day. The hustle and bustle of the increasing morning responsibilities with children chipped away at my make-up routine.

Eventually what little primping I did evaporated. Jewelry and accessorizing was a practice that went away along time ago. Morning life just became too busy to take the time to stare in the mirror outside of  a cursory glace as I ran out the door. (This was pretty much to make sure my hair wasn’t sticking up and I didn’t have baby food anywhere.)

Never having been a girly girl, I ;et go that at this point in life I just didn’t  have the time to paint my nails, put on lipstick regularly and select complementary accessories. Yes, I would stare in jealously at the women at work who always looked put together and ready for the day.

I vowed to myself someday I would take the time to take better care of myself. Finally I would use the trendy facial mask collecting dust on my vanity. Or at any rate I would at least fully dry my hair before I left the house. In reality those things never happened, I never made the time. Feeding the baby, throwing in a load of laundry, and packing lunches. Those things had to happen first.

So I let the primping and coloring go. I stopped caring about doing my hair and make-up. Hey, I was raising a family, lipstick had to take a backseat. So what if I felt disheveled and a bit embarrassed when I got to work? None of it really mattered when I thought about all I had done before leaving the house each morning.  Looking back I give myself and any working mom a pat on the back for managing to get to work at all.

Then one day I looked in the mirror. I REALLY looked in the mirror. Who was this person? My skin looked terrible. The big dark circles under my eyes make me look like I got double face punched. My eyebrows! They were an Italian girls nightmare. Suddenly the acne that had plagued me disappeared but in its place was this patchy dry, sagging dullness. My skin didn’t look like this before. My face looked tired…and old. In my hustle, bustle and self-neglect, I had aged.It was written all over my face.

The process of change began by the purchase of moisturizer. A product me and my formerly oily skin, stayed far away from. Then with the help of some Younique and Sephora samples I stared to experiment with other items like primers, creams and foundations. I never used a ton of make-up due to my acne. Everything I used would break me out so I kept it very basic and never experimented much.

After about 5 (or more) years of not taking the time to care for my skin and face, I was shocked and saddened by the changes that took place. This could not be me. I didn’t look like this. Who was this person? But I knew the answer was staring at me like that new tub of moisturizer.

This is the mom when stayed up with her restless daughter or sick son. The daughter who buried her father, and grandmother. She is the wife who tried to keep the house quite and let her husband sleep in because he worked all night. This is the caregivier who cooks a weeks worth of food in one day so her family will be well feed. This face is me. Maybe not the 20-year-old me, but it was me all the same. And it was time I took care of her.

This month I (literally) came face to face with my face. Deciding instead of pining for the skin I once had, to take the time to accentuate what I am now. Instead of noticing my new wrinkles and dull skin, I need to take a moment to pamper myself. Discover and apply some products that make me feel good about the person I have become. The tired mom… well she is still here but I no longer have a baby crying through the night and my red, bumpy, painful acne is a thing of the past.  I can embrace the face I have, with all the wonderful experiences that are etched into it.One year of taking care of me

For the first time in my life I am learning about make-up. Finding joy in the pigments and products. Exploring how proper skin care and application can transform a tired face into one of brightness. Honestly, I didn’t know how transformative proper skin care could be.

Learning all about the amazing array of products, what they do and how to apply them has been fun. Pampering myself was never a phrase in my vocabulary but venturing into this area has been so restorative, emotionally and physically. Overall I just feel better about myself when I use these new products and take the time to apply them regularly.

Although it has not been easy. Some mornings I have had to force myself to set aside time. Literally locking my husband and kids out of the room until I was done. I have even started night routine. Before I would just crash into bed from the exhaustion of the day. Now I am preparing myself for bed.  This month I learned a lesson in valuing myself and making my face a priority. It is not a great deal of time, but it is a enough to get back to the me I need to be. The one that I now see on a daily basis in the mirror.

This month is about Pampering Yourself. This could mean scheduling a spa treatment or massage. Finally getting the expensive purse you have been loving from far. Or just stopping to take a needed nap on a Saturday afternoon. This month make a special effort to treat yourself right and give to yourself without blame, guilt or regret because you are important and you matter.



A Lesson in Heart: Why the Relative Age Effect is Wrong

Contrary to what some writers and sports analyst think being the smallest and youngest does not guarantee failure in a persons athletic career. Lessons are learned by team sports which go far beyond physicality, follow a child through their entire life and set them up for success.

My son is super active and in constant motion. We figured sports would help put that energy to use. We really didn’t give that much thought to the myriad of lessons learned through team sports. As we approach the end of the season I am reflecting on the amazing change and growth that team sports has brought in my child.

My son actually began with T-Ball and had an instant love for the sport. He took to it easy and made friends quickly. However, he is literally the youngest…I mean the absolute youngest player in the entire league. Due to when the division cut offs fall and when his birthday is. Much like school, in sports he is the youngest one out there.

Age is nothing but a number

If you have ready Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers, ” then you might have thought, much like myself, that having the youngest smallest child in sports would be to set him up for failure in life.  According to NY Magazine, one of Mr. Gladwell’s points is “…an initial advantage attributable to age gets turned into a more profound advantage over time.” This theory has become known as the Relative Age Effect and in my view is  bull.

Me and my husband initially considered theory for a long time and actually thought about holding my son back in school to ensure he was bigger, stronger and more mature when he began. However, intellectually he was ready and decided we would be doing his a disservice by holding him back.

When we signed him up for T-Ball, this idea came back to haunt me. Would he be the smallest? What if he is picked on? What if he struggle? How it effect his emotionally and scar him for life? Ok I probably was a bit over dramatic. But aside from the scarring him for life part all of that has happened and it is not a bad thing.

Season one and two

My son was the smallest. In being smaller and younger he did not have the motor coordination, at first, that the other players did. I watched in agony as he would miss ball after ball. However, my agony was not his. He was having a blast. He loved his coaches and they loved him as well. My son was learning what it was like to be part of a team and how to support your teammates.

More importantly he was learning resiliency. How to keep trying even if you might not get the results you want the first time. Each practice he tried his best. Never gave up and enjoyed every minute. By the end of the first year he was actually hitting the ball!

Season three

The second year brought new challenges. The size different between my son and the other kids were much more apparent. Likewise the skill level difference between him and other kids varied greatly. He fell somewhere in the middle, with older, bigger kids having more skill and motor control then he had. To my surprise there were older kids that were similar in stature to him struggled throughout the season.

Also, due to the cut off he was no longer in T-Ball. He was moved up (too soon in my opinion) to Coach Pitch. My son was scared he wouldn’t be able to do it and almost choose not the play. However, after meeting the coaches and other kids he wanted to try.

Sometimes he went game after game without a hit. Without a play or so much as touching the ball. There were a few times I turned to mush as he cried that he wanted to give up. The difference is he didn’t. He asked me and his Dad to practice with him more. (which we did.) He started to pay better attention during practice. With hands on his knees he was “baseball ready,” instead of throwing his mitt around the outfield.

While it was heartbreaking to see him leave the batter’s box dejected and sad, there was a lesson in this as well. It was a lesson about playing with Heart. Heart, Will, Determination, Fortitude, Resilience, call it what you will. It is what winning teams are made from.

You can see it time and time again when the underdog, underestimated teams blowing away their opponents. The 1980 US Hockey team, the 2004 Red Sox, and most recently the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.  In most cases it is not purely, skill, strength or physical prowess that does the job. It is Heart and that is what my son was learning.

His abilities to field, hit and pay attention long enough to get through an inning were finally starting to come on line. By the end of the season he was hitting pretty regularly and had a good grasp of the game. Plus, he understood what it felt like to overcome a struggle.

Season Four

This past season was yet another lesson. Most of his teammate were almost a full 2 years older then he is. Many were now in travel ball league. This meant they had skills far beyond my son. I mean these kids were turning double plays! He had just learned how to hit. However, what surprised me was the social struggle. It seemed like none of the kids knew where they fit with each other. The age and skills varied so greatly. The older kids were not very nice. With the idea they were better players they acted like jerks to the younger kids.

My son, who pretty much gets along with everyone,  had a really hard time with this. It was the first time he was encountering bigger kids who were being bullies. He doesn’t really find them in school because of the anti-bullying efforts, but here on the ball field they still exist. I had a big issue with this and was ready to pull him out of the league.

However my husband stopped me. He reminded me that he NEEDS to learn how to deal with them. IF he doesn’t learn these lessons now he will have a harder time in life when he encounters bullies in the real world.  Boy was it tough to watch these kids but I knew he was right. he had to learn to stick up for himself. If things got bad I could step in. But as painfully hard as it was I had to let him fight his own battle. Uggg!

He was right, my son did learn how to stand up for himself. The effort in overcoming his fear also brought with it a new confidence in his abilities. I watched in amazement as he no only became a solid hitter he actually began to hit it into the outfield. Along with this his fielding also improved. With the encouragement and knowledge of incredible coaches he has grown into a strong player and a respected teammate.

Lessons for life

Being part of a team sport has brought along its challenges but the lessons learned and triumphs have been so worth it. These lessons learned through sports are what will make him a success, not the month he was born and when his birthday falls.  So Mr. Gladwell you are dead wrong that the smaller, younger kids are set up to fail due to age disadvantages that follow them through life.

You didn’t take into account all of the people like coaches, players, friends and family who help to mold them. Mr. Gladwell you also did not consider the many athlete’s who were not the ideal physical specimen, who might not have natural talent but still achieve greatness through hard work, will and determination.

Yes, my son is still the youngest and his is still one of the smallest but like many underestimated people he has Heart and that is what you need to win in the game of life.



Year of Taking Care of Me – Month 3

letting go of something toxic

Letting Go of Something Toxic

This month in the “Taking Care of Me” series we focus on letting go of something that makes us feel bad about ourselves. We say good-by to something toxic. The toxic thing makes us feel icky from the inside out. It drags us down and gives us a terrible outlook and a warped perception of reality. This toxic thing could be anything from a toxic friend we haven’t cut loose, toxic food we know we shouldn’t be eating, or a toxic mindset. This toxic thing might be different for each person.

Part of this month’s journey is about “letting go” as much as it is about “taking care of.” It is kind of ironic that my phase for 2017 is “letting go.” One year of taking care of meThis month I can identify 3 areas where  I have tried to remove toxic things from my life.

Toxic thoughts

I have experienced this mostly at work, but sometimes in my family life. This month tried to honed in on some of the thought patterns that have made me feel like bursting into tears and disgusted with myself at the same time.

In this I discovered one of the areas incubating these thought was coming through gossip. What seemed like friendly work conversation was actually gossip and I was a part of it a lot more then I wanted to be. Gossip does nothing but bring others and yourself down. It is one of the most toxic things in a work environment. Once I recognized how much I was engaging in gossip I was pretty disgusted with myself.

However, it was much harder to remove myself from it in a work environment then expected. Not wanting to come off like I didn’t care or create an enemy I had a hard time navigating around these types of discussions. This “How to avoid gossiping”  from illustrated some easy ways to deal with gossip which were very helpful for me.

Toxic people

I know we have all heard about toxic relationships but have you ever really looked at how it is defined?

According to, “a toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner…a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy...A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, control. We risk our very being by staying in such a relationship. To say a toxic relationship is dysfunctional is, at best, an understatement.”

This seems pretty straight forward right? Who wouldn’t avoid these types of people ? But I don’t think toxic people are as easy to identify, at least not at first. And what if they are say…family members, what then? Is it possible to cut off what makes them toxic without ending the whole relationship? This was something that I had to confront this month. In my case, due to the nature of our relationship, I was unable to disconnect from this person fully. But I began to recognize and distance myself when the toxic behavior began to occur.

Has our relationship changed? Greatly. We will never have the closeness I once believed we did. However, there is still a relationship and now I feel it is on my terms. I no longer end the conversation feeling bad or inadequate.  It was really tough to accept this person is just this way and I can not change them or accept the behavior. But as the weeks went on and I ended conversations when they steered down a toxic path, I felt more in control. So while I can not fully “let go,” of them I can “let go” of the toxic behavior.

Toxic body

Our mental and emotional state are completely effected by our physical state. For many months I have been suffering from colds, the flu and various other illnesses. I felt completely run down and wiped out, needing to rest. But instead I pushed through and developed a sort of anxiety driven insomnia. Likewise, I was not taking the time to workout or eat right. Heck, I hadn’t packed myself a proper lunch since before Christmas! I just didn’t have the time.

All of this came to light this month when I finally had a chance to rest during a family vacation cruise. It was amazing! I had 7 full days of solid sleep. I eat normal food at appropriate times of the day and physically exerted myself again. Likewise, I also had minimal contact with a computer or cell phone. It was eye-opening.

I had no idea how tired and run down I was until I woke up a few days into the cruise feeling better then I had in months. My whole outlook changed. Energy, absent for about a half a year, returned. More importantly, an overall sense of well-being and positivity came back. Since returning from our vacation I recognize I was neglecting my health. This effected my emotional health more then I realized.

Even thought I know the value of proper nutrition and adequate rest, I still let these things get away from me and my mental health, as well as my physical health suffered. This month I was lucky to discover I was cultivating a toxic body. Sometimes our body is telling us what we need, we just have to listen.

Have you let go of something toxic in your life this month? How did it go? Was it difficult or did you find it easier then expected? HOw do you feel know that the toxic thing is gone?


5 Things for Parents to Remember on the Sidelines of Youth Sports

5 things for parents to remember on the sidelines of youth sportsPlaying youth sports has so many benefits. It teaches teamwork, leadership, and perseverance among other things. These are skills a child will refer back to their entire life. Becoming involved in sports helps to shape children into amazing adults, productive human beings and incredible role models. Having my children involved in sports teams it is fascinating to watch as they learn new skills, develop leadership and overcome interpersonal challenges.

Once of the most heart warming of sights is seeing my son light up when his coach takes special time with him to congratulate or teach him a new skill. Coaches have such an important role in the life of these beginning athletes. They teach them valuable skills and connect with them in a different way then a parent. [ctt title=”Coaches are role models. They are an important influence in teaching kids how to become good, well-rounded human beings.” tweet=”Coaches are role models. They are an important influence in teaching kids how to become good, well-rounded human beings.” coverup=”EK09j”]

For this reason I have always felt an immediate respect for these types of coaches, especially those who are unpaid volunteers. They give so much of themselves and their time to help make children into a better people. While coaches and the team setting are important, there is one piece of this puzzle than I am leaving out. This is the person who can make or break the childhood sports experience. That is the parent.

I look back on fond memories shared with my dad as he yelled from the sidelines of my soccer game. It was one of the few occasions in our relationship where I felt he truly believed in me and will always be something I cherish . Unfortunately, this is not always be the behavior of parents on the sidelines or youth sports coaches.

Since the inception of youth teams there have always been “those ” parents. You know the one. The one with a secret dream of become an NFL star, or Major Leaguer but never got a chance. These are the ones that do not just believe their 5 year old can be the next Johnny Bench or Magic  Johnson. They are determined to make is happen.

They get a bit overzealous and turn the game from being light-hearted fun into pressure filled warfare. We can all have be this parent from time to time but most of us can pull ourselves back from the edge and leave the coaching to the coach. However, their are some adults who forget these are kids and this is just a game.

It has gotten so bad that most youth leagues now require parents sign a Code of Ethics pledge. The code of ethics is intended to remind parents to well…act like adults. Apparently, it has happened enough times and in enough instances that a signed document is necessary to keep parents in check.

I can say from personal experience I became totally disgusted when a parent coach in my sons little league violated this pledge. He was a coach/player parent/league administrator and for years has used his position to cherry pick his teams. Selecting only the best, most experienced and oldest players to dominate over all others grade schoolers and win the championship each season. He had to secure the coveted plastic, baseball batter atop a metallic blue stand. The underwhelming trophy telling everyone he is a “T-ball Championship Winner.”

These are 6 and 7- year-olds! The dejected look on my son’s face knowing this team was unbeatable, broke my heart. To hear his team members sadly state they were going to loss before the game ever started, was awful. All for what? What skills did this teach any of them. What challenge did it present to the other team? All so a pathetic, broken man could fulfill his dream of little league domination.

In another instance there are the parents who cart there kid all over creation because the have to be part of a “travel” team. They must attend completions and tournaments. Don’t get me wrong if the kid wants to do this it could be a genuine special memory between parent and child. The problem comes in when the need of the parent to relive their glory days outweigh the logic of the situation. Like having your 7-year-old spend summer weekend in another state competing when all they really want to do is be home playing with their friends.

As parents we only want the best for our children. That being said, we all have the potential to be those parents. We just lose sight of why our kids are playing sports in the first place. To have fun. Here are five ways to keep yourself in check as a parent of a young athlete.

Model good sportsmanship

Recognize your child will take their cues from your behavior. If you bad-mouth another team or player they will think this is acceptable behavior and follow suit.

Recognize the team in addition to your child

It is important to not fixate only on the actions of just our child. Recognizing the accomplishments other players in front of your child helps demonstrates leadership and teamwork. Encouraging your child to cheer on and congratulate others will also foster these skills.

Demonstrate Respect

Always speak to other parents, coaches, umpires and referees with respect even when you disagree. Little eyes are watching and little ears are listening. If you are feeling to emotional to restrain yourself. Walk away.

Make sure you are not pressuring your kids to live out your dreams

This is a tough one and it is easy to fall into without noticing. Everyone harbors secret dreams that their 7-year-old child will be the phenome player heading to the big leagues. But sometimes these secret hopes don’t remain secret. Some of the warning signs are being overly critical if you child misses a play or expecting them to play at a level well beyond their age and physicality. If you are buying your kid expensive equipment they never asked for it might be a good idea to examine what emotions you have invested in their sport.

Remember you are the parent, not the player

Be attentive to the needs and emotions as they grow in their sport. Also know when to step back, let them learn and find their own way. Allow them to be a kid who loves to play without the pressure of being the best. Look for chances to encourage and build self esteem. When they make a misstep help them learn to deal with losses and mistakes with grace and dignity. If parents can accept their supporting role, instead of coach or former player, then a lifetime of teachable moments, beautiful memories and valuable skills await.


hint with a kick of natural caffeine

A Year of Taking Care of Me

year of taking care of meAfter finishing out my year of organizing I felt like there was an empty hole needing to be filled. I wanted to learn something new in little bites over a year just like I did with “One year to an Organized life.” After a pretty exhaustive search of books starting with “52 weeks…” “Learn such and such in a year.” and “365 days to a ….” I found nothing that really seemed to fit.

I don’t want a challenge…

This year I didn’t want to take on any weighty pressure filled goals. No, I didn’t want to push myself to be more. Although there are many great books out there about becoming more productive, using your time more efficiently, and mastering the art of getting things do that wasn’t what I wanted from this year.

As a matter of fact I want to do less. This year I don’t want to shove as many things into a single hour as I could possible get done. The next 365 days are about letting go of the need to multi-task and over do. In 2017, I wanted to take things off my plate and maybe take care of me for once.

Since I couldn’t find the right book to guide me in the way “One year to an Organized life,” had I decided maybe I should follow my own path. Maybe this year the thing I should be learning about is…well…me. As mom’s we give to our families, as working mom’s we give to our jobs but all to often the last person we give to is ourselves.

This is a theme I have talked about many times on this blog but it still eludes me. When I try to make my own care, my own needs a priority, I am racked with guilt about the time spent. (Mom’s I know you feel me.) An example of this behavior is when my sweet husband gave me a gift certificate to get my nails done. It was really thoughtful and from the heart but all I could think of is between work, the kids sports and everything else I have to get done how will I ever find the time? Also the hour it would take me to get my nails done would be agonizing as my mind would fill with all I have to do.

For these reason my nails go unpainted, my hair overgrown, my clothing wrinkled and outdated. There are doctors appointments I have put off, glasses I need to repair and books and TV shows I DVR but never watch. That is the life of Mom. Well not this year.

I read a post from the Playful Notes blog where the blogger went in search for a parenting challenge to pursue during 2017. After failing to find one that she was looking for she decided to start here own. You can check out her challenge here.

Her inventiveness inspired me. Seeing as I was in the same predicament, I didn’t want the pressure of a full on challenge so nothing quite fit. I only wanted a monthly check in to keep me accountable in making doctors appointments, keeping things simple and listening to my mind, heart and body. Something more introspective and emotional. So following that inspiration I decided to create my own “A Year of Taking Care of Me.”

Again this is not a heavy goal setting, achievement oriented pursuit. It is designed to be a reminder that we matter. We deserve to take time each month to do something we enjoy, to sit and think or paint our nails without guilt. To let go of the laundry list of responsibilities.

At the end of 2016 I kind of felt like a hollowed out shell. Everything I had in me, my intense emotions, my energy, my drive was just used up. In 2016 I was blogger, mother, wife, worker, chef, maid, banker, event planner ect…but in reality nothing was left of me. My hope is that at the end of 2017, I can recognize how this happened and feel like myself again. ( Wow, this got much deeper then I expected.) Here goes:

A Year of Taking Care of Me

January: Why do I do that?: Look at the habits you have created, are they good? bad? How did they develop? Which ones I would like to change? Which ones have I changed unknowingly? We all know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What do we do over and over again?

February: Love myself: Make a list of the things you like about yourself. What makes you a good mom? What you do well at work? Make a second list by asking your family and friends what they like about you. I know it sound awkward…do it anyway. All to often we are really hard on ourselves. We only see our flaws and failures. Very rarely do we see what others see in us.

March: Let go of something toxic: Since this is also the Lenten season, it seems like a good idea to let go of something that maybe toxic to, this could be a bad friend, ugly self-talk, or emotional eating. Let go f something that makes you feel bad about being you.

April: Pamper yourself: This is actually a lot harder then it seems. Each week schedule in something that will pamper you.  Do not make excuses. You deserve this. It can be something as small such as getting a new pair of shoes to get yourself a ticket to New York for a shopping spree.(Ok, don’t break the bank but you get the picture.)

May: “May”be it’s in my head: Keep an ear out for negative, distorted thinking. Each week write down one thing you may have distorted or thought of in a negative way. See if you can re-write it to make it more positive.

June: Love your body: With the start of summer go shopping for a bathing suit. Yes a new one that makes you feel confident and beautiful. Wear it. Do not hide. Next schedule trips to the pool or beach and be ok with how you look. Get in your head and fix whatever it is that makes you feel a bad body image and fix it. Fake it till you feel it if you have to. Read books, see a therapist, use positive affirmations. But find a way this month to accept your body in whatever for it is and love it that way.

July: Give yourself a summer break: Remember summer break as a kid where the days felt like they lasted forever. You could just play and have fun with very little responsibilities. Try to take time to recapture that carefree summer feeling. Yes, leave the laundry undone, the dishes in the sink, play with your kids all day while you step over the toys instead of cleaning them up. Lay in the grass and read a good book. Give yourself the permission and freedom to be a kids again if only for a little while.

Bonus-Christmas in July: Start to think of who you would like to give to this holiday and what you want to give to them. Don’t just give an obligatory rushed gift this year. Take the time to think about what the gift recipient means to you and how your gift can reflect that. Take your time and have fun gift giving this year.

August: Here’s to your health: Schedule all of your necessary doctors appointments that you have been putting off all year. This is non negotiable. DO NOT put it off. Don’t be over come with fear or shame. One year of taking care of meYou only have one body. Take care if it.

September: Time for me: Find one way each week to treat myself to something that makes me happy, like taking an hour long walk by myself, watch a guilty pleasure TV show, or do absolutely nothing.

October: Get dressed up: At least one day each week take the time to get dress-up.  Wear your favorite outfit, put on make-up, and add some jewelry. Pull out the clothes you never take the time to wear but always feel amazing when you do. Or try on something you might not have had the confidence to wear before. For one morning instead of rushing out of the house, do your hair, dress-up and take the time to put yourself together.

November: Stop saying yes to everyone and set your boundaries: This year figure out what makes you most happy and do that. If you don’t feel like driving all over town during the holiday’s, then don’t. Say no and make a choice that will make you feel happy, content and satisfied. Let go of guilt. Be ok with not making everyone else happy. They will get over it. Make your favorite dishes at Thanksgiving this year and create the memories that matter most in your heart. In other words you can’t please everyone so sometimes it is ok to please yourself. Your family will love you and maybe even respect you more.

December: Keep Christmas special for you: Since by now a lot of your gift should have been purchase. Slow down and do all of the things mean joy, love, and peace to you. Watch a Christmas special, bake cookies, spend time with family. Pick one day this month (Christmas Day is mine.) To spend the day in your PJ’s, take long naps, and enjoy all the gifts God has given you.

I would love if you did this with me. If I get enough of a response then I might even start a Facebook group where we can share our feelings, triumphs and struggles. Either way I am going to post monthly about what I learn. This year I’m taking time to be me again. I hope you will too.


Here are 5 reasons our goals will fail

goals will failLast year I wrote out goals in the four areas of focus discussed on this blog. It was a great exhaustive, multi-post list. How many did I actually accomplish. Ehh….maybe 1. Each year we start fresh. Each year we start new and set our sights on accomplishing new goals and resolutions. It is a great idea but often it is a failed effort. Why? Here are five reasons this happens.

We pick large goals with no path to get there

One of the reasons we often fail to stick with our goals and resolutions is we select a goal that seems almost unachievably grand, like losing 50 lbs or saving $100,000. Then we fail to map out the steps involved in achieving these big goals. It is great to aim high, but if we ever hope to achieve them we must attack it in parts. By breaking this goal down into small, achievable parts we visualize how to get there.

We choose too many goals/resolutions

My goals failed last year because I gave myself so many points I wanted to achieve that my focus was scattered. My goals were all across the board on so many topics. It was impossible to keep track of progress let alone remember what goals I set come mid year. It was way to ambitious and unachievable. In goal setting as in most areas of life simple is better.

We didn’t select goals/resolutions we really care about achieving

No, I am not going to give you the “anything is possible” line or “If you can dream it you can do it.” Yes, you can if you actually put the effort in. Dreaming alone will not get you there. It would be nice to lose the extra baby weight but if we really don’t want to change our habits then it is not going to magically happen. I would love to eat healthier and exercise more, but if I have no intention of getting off my lazy butt and changing my behavior I am going to fail.  Just stating you want to do it is not enough. You actually have to care about getting it done. If you really don’t care enough to put in the effort and change the behavior then your resolution will go nowhere.

We picked the wrong goals for us

Everyone makes the resolution to lose weight but maybe that should not be the primary focus. Maybe joining a support group or getting the help of a nutritionist might be a better goal for you. Paying off debt might be a great goal but if you are in the a habit of whipping out your credit card maybe you should focus on using cash only instead. Picking the goal that doesn’t address your current bad habit will only set you up for failure.

Not putting a number to you goal.

One of the primary items discussed in successful goal setting is quantifying you goal. Don’t talk in lofty terms of someday.  Give it a number. For example, I will eat five vegetables daily or I will save $1000 by February 1. Assign a date, amount or number to you goal. If you can not insert a number then your goal is to vague and probably needs to be narrowed down.




A Matter of Mindset

success in parenting

A Matter of Mindset

by Ann Marie Flanagan, contributor

As a mom, have you ever had a legitimate sick day?

I am talking about being alone in your home, cell phone in the off position, no email or social media groups that need immediate or constant attention. No, you haven’t had that? Really? Yea, me either.

What happens to us when we get unexpected news about our health and we have little to no time to process the information? Or this unexpected news is delivered in the presence of our children because we did not have the ability to leave them in the waiting room? Yes, this does happen and it happened to me the other day with my eight year old in tow.

Let me give you a little background before I share what occurred. I am a mom of three children. Their ages are 25, 16, and 8 years old. The 8 and 16 year old are under my room. My middle child is my clone and my youngest son is extremely sensitive to changes that concern me. He is a little feeling detective.

I tell you these things because I am sure your children are sensitive to your needs, even if they don’t express that verbally. Children have a keen sense when something is about to go down. So, here is my recent health journey.

Last September, I was given a diagnosis that took me off guard. It is not life-threatening, just life changing. It knocked me down for about a month because I could not wrap my head around the fact that I am “sick.”

I don’t feel physically sick and I didn’t know that most people don’t feel this way on a daily basis. Having always prided myself on my, mostly healthy lifestyle, I allowed myself to feel defeated. Until this behavior began to affecting my relationships.

Changing your mindset for yourself and your children

When I saw the reflection of myself through my children’s eyes I received my wake up call. My behaviors (short-tempered, depressed, and angry) were not examples I wanted my children to follow. Seeking out the counsel of another mom who had the same diagnosis, as well as two friends of mine that are nurses, I made additional healthy choices. This included going on a gluten-free diet to decrease my inflammation and using essential oils, to heal my body. That was the easy part.

But my biggest obstacle is my mindset. My journey of being mindful is my biggest challenge. Why do I want to be mindful? Illness will not freely reside in me and be fueled by unhealthy thoughts and feelings. I want to be everything I can be for myself, my children, my husband, family, and friends.

In order to work on my mindset, I chose to surround myself with people who are examples of this very concept. To continue to remove negative influences that are causing my self-doubt to sneak in. These negative influences are negative people, past experiences, social media, and the list goes on. How am I doing this?

Well, I am a list maker. I am making a list and methodically removing these items from it. It is not an easy or quick process, but it has begun. I need to also continue to remind myself why I am doing this. It is for ME!

When I have a healthy mindset, all of those around me will begin to reap the benefits. Why is this a difficult process? Because ever since I was a child, I have never lived my life this way. The idea of having a healthy mindset ignites my fire to do right by my children. So I may be their positive role model again. When I say “my children,” this includes not only my biological children, but also the ones I have in my class, my “Girls on the Run” team, and others  I come in contact with daily basis.

Another way I am changing my mindset is by using researched-based information and practicing what speaks to me.  Not all of the research-based suggestions work for me, so I pick and choose the ones that fit. Likewise, I have also found “influencers” that have me striving to be the best that I can be.

Getting up after a set back

Now I will share my most recent health set-back. I have had an enlarged lymph node in my neck for as long as I can remember. Always thinking it was just a swollen gland, I monitored it but paid it little attention.

That was until recently when I discovered two more nodes in my groin area. This concerned my physician and she sent me to an oncologist. This resulted in an immediate setback to all of my self-care.  Just by hearing the word oncologist and the fact that I know have one, was enough to create a feeling of foreboding.

They ordered ultrasounds and a CT scan. The first doctor wanted to cut the lymph node in my neck out and then test it.

HECK-to-the-NO! I asked for other options, choose to wait three months and rescan those areas. Except I was scared and allowed those three months to come and go. I told myself, since there is no pain involved in these areas, I must be fine.

Well, last month the doctor’s office called to say they set up my next appointment since I didn’t follow up. I had the ultrasounds last week and received the news that the groin area nodes are the same. However, the node in my neck has increased in size. The surgeon said he was not convinced that it needs to be removed but is concerned and is sending me for another CT scan to get a better look.

I asked “why” even though I knew in my heart what he is looking for. Unfortunately, all of this news was delivered in front of my 8-year-old. Thank goodness when I asked him, he said, “The C-word,” for the benefit of my child.

After the appointment, I went into a tail-spin. It was ugly. I informed my “tribe” about my results and then turned inward. It took that entire evening and part of the next day to pull myself back up. Deciding to not allow this situation to define me, even if the “c word” is what it is.

Because what if it’s not??!! Why am I wasting my time worrying? I made the choice I was not going to give in to the fear and worry.  My CT scan is next week and the results will be given the following week. I WILL survive and throughout this process I will teach my children how to stand up to what life throws us in a dignified and positive way.

We all struggle with our health at one time or another. Your struggles may be much more than mine. If you would like to chat you can reach me privately at

If you have children, please join for a place to share your successes, ask for help, and form long-lasting friendships with other parents. I cannot wait to see you there.

In addition, I live stream on Periscope at @AnnMarieFlanagan where I discuss techniques and strategies for helping our children excel.

Beginning October 17th I am involved in a new Periscope channel called @SelfCareSociety. We will be sharing great tips for self-care in all parts of life. Thank you for allowing me to spend this time with you!

Ann Marie

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