Children and Electronics

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Recently I was talking to my cousin about the amount of time he allows his two-year old to be in front of the screen. This started a conversation about how I don’t let my 10-year old watch any television during the week. Our conversation turned into whether or not the amount of time in front of the screen makes a negative impact. This prompted me to put some research into the subject and find out what the professionals suggest. I really always went to my sister, a speech therapist and my go to guru for what I should and should not allow my daughter. I trust and respect her input and her knowledge.

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So first, here is what screen time means, watching television, being on computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets.

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I found out that too much screen time has been linked to health problems in kids including obesity and emotional problems. Experts say using media while in the classroom can be helpful, but too much use outside school decreases academic performance. Using it at bedtime has been shown to disrupt sleep. Technology can also get in the way of family time. As with anything in life balance is key.img_6336

Here is a family media use plan that is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Mealtimes should be screen-free.
  • Homework should be done without any electronics.
  • If homework requires a computer, have kids work on it in the kitchen or other common area.
  • Don’t use electronics during the school week; this will help avoid creating a dynamic where kids rush their schoolwork to get to their screen time.
  • Have kids earn screen time by equal time spent on physical activity or chores.
  • Make bedtime screen-free.

Here are the limits of screen time for kids in different age groups according to experts:

  • Ages 0-2, no screen time
  • Ages 2-3, 30 minutes per day
  • Ages 3-5, 1 hour per day
  • Ages 5-6, 1 and a half hours per day
  • Ages 6-12 2 hours per day

So now we know that too much screen time is harmful, but it’s important to also think about what our kids are doing online. Content matters! We can use screen time to learn, create and challenge ourselves or simply to veg out. It’s important that our children’s screen time emphasizes the first three.img_6337 img_6338

Obviously technology is here to stay and we want our kids to thrive in this digital world. They can do this with our support and involvement. Start a conversation on the risks of technology use and how much screen time Is too much.

Good luck, they aren’t going to like it now but they will thank you later in life.

Oh the joys of parenting!

Lavender Feilds

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Forgiveness is the smell that Lavender gives out when you tread on it.-Mark Twain

img_9311Every second of every day is an opportunity to be grateful. Grateful for the air we breathe, the beauty that surrounds us, our health, the children we are fortunate enough to raise, our loved ones, our friends. Every situation in life good or bad gives us an opportunity to grow and to be grateful. Even in the worst of times we can find something to be thankful about.  Live this way and you will see your life change for the positive.

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Here are some other ways to live a positive life

  1. Spend time getting to know yourself
  2. Appreciate what you have
  3. Accept and love yourself 
  4. See the positive in every situation
  5. Live in the moment
  6. Travel to new places
  7. Stop worrying about the future
  8. Spend quality alone time with your spouse
  9. Enjoy every second of your children, they grow fast
  10. If you are lucky enough to still have your parents, spend time with them
  11. Make time for friends that want to spend time with you
  12. Be a positive role model for your children by living authentically
  13. Teach kindness and compassion by practicing it yourself
  14. Do something for others on a daily basis, you will be surprised how much happiness this will bring you
  15. Keep on learning, a new language, knitting, dancing, cooking, something that will keep you reaching for goals
  16. Take time to make new friends and reconnect with old ones
  17. Forgive, love and let go
  18. Stay away from negative people
  19. Live your dreams and take risks, life is happening now
  20. Connect with your source, learn to meditate, pray

In all things in nature there is something of the marvelous -Aristotle

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Take time to be present, stop and smell the flowers.

 

Ride the waves

 

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In life we experience ups and downs, rocky and smooth times. People disappoint us or surprise us. New friends come into our lives while others leave. Loved ones pass away and new ones are born.

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All we can do is focus on the positive, appreciate today, enjoy the ones we have and be grateful.

imageAll we can do is live and ride the waves of life.

SHENPA

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Shenpa is Tibetan and it defines obsessive feelings and urges you just can’t seem to release. Feelings like resentment, failure, anger or urges like addiction and cravings. Tibetan Buddhist, Pena Chodron, says that’s how we get taken over by a negative experience. A death of a family member takes me directly to Shenpa. I feel sad, so sad that I can think or feel nothing else.

The Tibetan Buddhist says that the best thing to do when we feel that way is to remove ourselves from the situation. Give ourselves some space. Take a walk and just be aware of what you are saying to yourself. Notice your thinking and come back to just being present. Keep on doing that and you will learn to live in the present more often.

Chodron says the negative feelings are really our ego. Once you realize that it’s your ego you can notice it, allow yourself to have the discomfort of suffering, then let it go allowing evolution to happen.

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Change is inevitable, if we don’t learn to embrace it our life will be an unhappy one. I’ve always battled change. When I was little I didn’t want to grow up, I hated it when we moved and I had to change schools. I always fought it and even though I was always able to find my footing, I just hated change and I still do .Losing someone I love is the biggest and most painful change for me to endure. I now know that I have to learn to embrace change, be open to what God has in store for me.

In a blink of an eye our lives can change and it will continue to change for decades to come. We have to focus on the now. To enjoy it, embrace it and be grateful for the ride. Easier said then done for some but all we can do is try, otherwise happiness will elude us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s in your hands…

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You have to decide whether you are going to be the leader in your own life or an extra in somebody else’s life. Take charge. Make a conscious effort to change what you don’t like about your life. Be grateful for what you do have.

 Sit in contemplation everyday and meditate about what will bring you happiness. Then take the first step to make it better. It’s not easy or simple but it’s a good place to start, one step at a time.

If you want to get in better shape…take the first step by eating better and moving your body..

If you want to improve your marriage…take the first step by having an open dialogue, spending time together or even seeing a marriage counselor… take a step to change it for the better.

If you are feeling a void in your life, you have to first find out what it is that you are missing. Take the steps it takes to look within yourself. Once you find out what it is then you can move forward.

One step at a time…to a better life. 

 

 

A Magical Time

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Childhood is  a fleeting time. I never  realized just how quickly it goes until I had my own child. It  feels like yesterday when we celebrated our little girls first birthday and now in just a few months  she will be ten. My time as a child feels so far away and yet I have such amazing memories. Now that I am a mother seeing my own child growing before my eyes is  so  surreal. I want to create amazing memories for her so that she can look back in time with fondness.

Holidays, birthdays, family weddings and new babies in the family are all really special occasions . I want my daughter to remember all these significant occasions so I take a lot of pictures. I want to  document every special moment for her.

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Every year I see a huge difference in her. She is taller, more mature looking and she is really growing emotionally too. She is becoming more self-aware. Year after year I watch as she understands more, becomes more a part of this world. I wish I could bottle up that amazing feeling of being able to do anything when we are children.

IMG_0766Along with great memories of family, I have wonderful memories of friends. Friendships growing up were so important to me. They have literally saved me from many gloomy and sad days. I am so thankful to have had every single friend in my life…even those whom are no longer a part of my life. They helped me endure all the ups and downs of growing up. I know my little girl’s friendships are precious to her as well.

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I always try to keep the magic alive for her and her friends during the holidays.  Although we are not Christians, we definitely believe in giving and we believe in Santa Clause! We try to do simple yet wonderful things together with friends and family.

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We indulge in creating beautiful memories. We spend time with the people we love. I try to instill in her what my parents instilled in me. I want her to open her heart to her family and friends. I want her to know what it is to be compassionate, to be thankful and enjoy the simple joys of life. I want her to know how special she is and I want her to have self-love as well as love in her heart for others. It’s a time of giving so she will certainly get a few presents from Santa…but I already see that what matters to her is that connection we all need with one another. She is also a little girl who has compassion for others and wants to give her own money and time to help others.

Here is a painting my daughter created…honoring her favorite magical friend.

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I hope this season is a magical one for you and your family. Wishing you peace and love.

Missing your loved ones during the holidays

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The holidays are a time of family gatherings, traditions, gifts and spirituality.  It’s a magical time for children and adults alike. It’s also a time many of us miss our loved ones who are no longer with us. After someone  important dies the holidays are often never the same again.

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Traditions, events, parties, songs, movies.. the grief triggers are everywhere. Many cope with their loss by avoiding conversation about their loved ones or just being in denial. Here are some ways of coping with loss during this time.

My loved ones are always in my heart. I miss them even more when we have celebrations. Their absence is deafening. Keeping our loved one’s memory alive helps us cope. You can continue to make them a part of your holiday season.

Here some ways to remember loved ones during the holidays:

1. Photos: Leave old photo albums around, or make an album featuring your loved one. Before you know it you’ll be reminiscing and telling stories with family and friends.

2. Get out the old home videos. Yes it can be emotional and painful, but it also might be comforting to see your loved one up on the TV screen.

3. Wrap up a few of your loved one’s old things and give them to family and friends who will appreciate them. Write a card letting them know why you chose to give them this particular item. They will love the gift and the sentiment.

4. You can create a special place for people to write down memories. Put out a marker and paper or plain wooden ornaments. Friends and family can hang the ornaments or leave the memories in an empty gift box. When everyone is gathered together, read the memories aloud.

5. Donate to a cause in your loved ones name. Try  and choose a charity your loved one would have supported.

6. When you see a gift your loved one would have liked, go ahead and buy it. Donate it to a charity or give it to someone as gift.

7. Volunteer your time to others in need. You might choose a cause your loved one worked with or supported.

8. Light a candle in honor of your loved one. Leave it burning during days when you think you’ll miss them the most.

9. Invite your family and friends to a holiday potluck. Ask guests to make a dish that your loved one liked.

10. Buy or make a memorial ornament.

11. Use your loved one’s old recipe(s) to make holiday cookies or a holiday dinner.

12. Visit or spend time in a place where you feel close to your loved one. You could also spend time watching their favorite holiday movies or listening to their favorite holiday songs.

13. Take the trip you have been planning or dreaming about.

14. Give a framed photo of your loved one to people who also miss them.

15. Spend time talking about your loved one with family and friends. Express your feelings…cry if you need to.

16. Take care of yourself. Attend a workshop or support group for people dealing with a loss during the holidays. Remember that your loved one would have wanted you to have the support you need.

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Unfortunately I’ve lost a lot of loved ones…family and friends. I think about them often. I’m always grateful that I believe in the hereafter and that someday I will reunite with my loved ones. For now, I choose to keep their memories alive and enjoy the loved ones who are here. I choose not to take them for granted and do my best to be present with them.

I wish you all peace and love during this wonderful season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Message to my daughter

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Last year we bought our nine-year old something she had been wanting for a long time. Our daughter  really loves to write. She is very creative and imaginative. She likes to make up stories and write songs. We wanted to support her love of writing so we bought her an inexpensive no frills laptop.
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Sophia also loves to write and receive emails from family. She is only allowed to communicate with her family. It gives her a chance to keep in touch with her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
Sometimes she will email my husband and I little notes of how much she loves us. I in return like to  email her things I want her to know. Things she normally will not pay attention to in person. I noticed she really reads and re-reads her emails. So recently I put down a few things that I have learned though out my life.  I feel it will help her during her journey as she transitions from childhood to adolescence and into adulthood.
Here it is….
  • Everyone has a story. You are the writer of your own story.
  • Learn from every experience. If you make a mistake, try not to repeat it.
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Love yourself.
  • Respect yourself and others.
  • Every single thing that has happened in your life is preparing you for the journey to come.
  • Caring, compassionate, loving….describes you my sweet girl.
  • Don’t pretend to be what you are not, be proud of who you are. 
  • God talks to us all the time, first in a whisper, if you don’t pay attention…the whisper will get louder and louder. Make sure you are listening to what God is telling you.
  • We are more than what we appear to be.
  • Life is all about growing into your best self.
  • Your thoughts create your life. Be careful what you think. Always say “I can do it” to yourself. Never doubt yourself. You can do it and you will do it.
  • God can dream a bigger dream for you than you can ever dream for yourself. Surrender to God and just believe and then let it go.
  • Your intention is everything.  Please always have powerful intentions. 
  • You and you alone have control of yourself.  Do your best everyday, always.
  • Serve others, this will bring you happiness.
  • Be kind and compassionate.
  • Be loyal.
  • Be a good friend.
  • You are not alone.
  • You are the possibility of what can be. Everything you want to be is possible. Just believe in God.
  • Spend time with your loved ones. Love is everything.
  • Stay true to your calling. You will know what that is if you pay attention.
  • Everything that you put out into the world is going to come back to you.
  • There is an energy flow in life. You are either in flow or out of it. Try to be in flow. Be balanced in your life.
  • Be connected to God, always
  • Everything passes in its time. Only the soul remains.
  • Find out what your purpose is in this life that has been gifted  to you.
  • Always know that you are loved.

I love you.

Mommy

Finding Your Way Out of The Fog

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Do you ever feel blue for no apparent reason? Are you low on energy and motivation? If you are feeling this way for more than a couple of days, you may be experiencing depression. Anyone that has gone through depression knows that overcoming it isn’t quick and easy. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. In my personal experience the key to beating depression is to start small and build from there. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself.

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In order to get out of depression you need to take action and that’s not easy to do when you are blue. In fact sometimes just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like going for a walk or spending time with friends, can be exhausting! So basically the things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do but not impossible.

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When you are depressed you don’t have much energy, but you can do small things like picking up the phone to call a loved one. This may seem like a small step, but it will quickly add up. Here are some other ways that can help you get out of a slump.

  • Cultivate emotionally close relationships
  • Schedule a weekly dinner, or coffee date
  • Volunteer at an organization that works for a cause that is important to you
  • Exercise, it’s a powerful tool for dealing with depression
  • Change your negative thoughts into positive thoughts

Changing your negative thoughts to positive thoughts is one of the most important things you can do. We believe whatever we tell ourselves. So if you are living your life according to a set of beliefs you’ve held for most of your life, you take those beliefs as the gospel truth. The truth is that the lens through which you are seeing the world may be distorted.

What we think shapes our lives. So if you are constantly self criticizing,  you need to stop. So many of us think pessimistically without even realizing it. It’s important to pay attention to your thoughts. One of the best ways to do that is to journal daily. This is something I was asked to do by my spiritual mentor and friend, Dr. Sultan Abdulhameed, the author of “The Quran and the Life of Excellence”. It’s an amazing book and I recommend it to everyone, no matter what religion you practice.

Dr. Abdulhameed asked me to sit in a quiet place and write down whatever enters my mind every day for 20 minutes. It’s called free writing. Wait a couple of weeks before you look at what you have written. Then read though your journal and you will find a pattern of negative thoughts. Once you know what you are thinking, then you need to switch that thought with a positive one.

I’ve been doing this for some time now. It helps give insight to what I am focusing on subconsciously. Some other things that help are the following.

  • Allow yourself to be less than perfect
  • Socialize with positive people
  • Stop looking at things in black or white. There is a middle ground
  • Get 8 hours of sleep
  • Eat healthy
  • Expose yourself to sunlight every day
  • Practice meditation
  • Pick up a hobby that you enjoy

If you find that your depression is getting worse then you need to seek professional help. It doesn’t mean that you are weak, just that you need help to get better. Depression can be treated but you have to take steps to help yourself. It doesn’t go away by itself.