Winter Break

East Coast parents are getting ready to have the kids home for their winter break. While, some of us are lucky enough to take a few days away with the kids, others may have to work or just can’t afford to get away.

Here are some fun things I’ve done with my daughter when we have stayed home. It’s not so bad when you live just a few minutes away from New York City.

  • Spend a day or two in New York City, visit a Museum, see a Broadway Show or just go out for a great meal. God knows we have some of the best restaurants in the country. There are also so many amazing Museums in the city, there is so much culture and history. 
  • The Long Island Children’s Museum is such a great place to spend the day with the family. If you want to stay local, there’s a lot to see and do there. I’ve spent an entire day at the Museum with my daughter when she was younger..
  • Take your child to see a show at the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport.  It’s Long Island’s only year-round professional theater, and you don’t have to pay a fortune to enjoy a great show with some great seats.
  • Take a family hike. it’s gorgeous on the North Shore, and it’s not too cold this year so get out and enjoy it.
  • Plan a special day with the kids. Go out to lunch, maybe it’s a good time to introduce your child to something new on the menu and then go see a movie together.
  • Take a road trip. Go anywhere, as long as you’ve never been there before, or go somewhere you always like to visit. We love going to the Mohonk Mountain House, a beautiful resort in Hudson Valley. We gone there for over twenty years.
  • Discover the neighborhoods nearby. You never know what little gem you are going to stumble upon, I’ve found lots of great places just by exploring.
  • Get out and meet up with a few of your mom friends and their kids. This is a great way for both you and your children to enjoy the day.
  • Give your kids time to do absolutely nothing. Catch up on what you have been postponing to do and just let your kids have a lazy day or two, they need a break.
  • Host a sleepover. it’s always a great time for the kids. All you need is some pizza, a bunch of board games, a karaoke machine and it’s on. Adult supervision is a must.
  • Spend quality time with your kids.  If you are working, try to take a few days off to enjoy your children. Talk to them about how they are feeling, let them ask you questions, listen to them, be present, be mindful.

Regardless of whether or not you are going away or staying home, a week with your children is a treasure. Before you know it they will grow up and we won’t have the privilege of having them with us for an entire week. There is no doubt that raising children is hard work, but it’s the biggest gift that we can ever have. So, enjoy your week together. And don’t forget to check out my new store for something beautiful for your favorite girl.

 /https://ariaandsophia.com/

 

 

Entrepreneur, ugh!

I’m venturing into uncharted territory. I’m about to become an Entrepreneur! This adds nicely to my many other supposed titles, writer, producer, reporter, blogger, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend.

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We all have so many different titles, but who are we really? Ever think of that? Ever ponder why you are here? What are you meant to do? What is your function in all of this dysfunction? Well, I don’t know, I’m doing the same thing that you are doing, searching. I’m always looking for the meaning of life. I grew up with parents who always told me that life was all about helping others. Family has always been my priority and helping others has also always been the core of my parent’s existence. So yes, I am jumping in to this new title but it does not define who I am. I am a human being who is having many experiences and evolving.

 

Back to my new title, simply defined, an entrepreneur is a person who identifies a need and starts a business to fill that void. But this definition doesn’t really give you insight into what really makes a successful Entrepreneur. Here’s what 20 company founders and business leaders told Business News Daily about what they think makes a truly successful entrepreneur.

  1. To be courageous and sometimes reckless to actually do it, check!
  2. To be constantly hungry,  the idea that you are never satisfied with how things are, check!
  3. To have a mindset, a way of thinking and acting. It is about recognizing an opportunity and capturing its value, check!
  4. To balance vision with a willingness to embrace change, that’s my weak point, but I’m working on it.
  5. To go into uncharted territory and to be able to deal with the roller coaster of emotions that comes with failing, this one is really hard but I’m ready to conquer it.

I can go on and on but here is the shortcut of it, in order to be a successful entrepreneur you have to:

  • make a passion of learning,
  • to have courage and perseverance,
  • to stay optimistic when things fall apart.
  • be people oriented,
  • to see opportunity everywhere,
  • to take calculated risks,
  • to look at the bigger picture,
  • to have the creativity to question, the strength to believe and the courage to move,
  • be wired to be driven by an innate need to create, build and grow,
  • to push the naysayers aside, and turn possibility into a reality,
  • to be able to take the bumps in the road and remain focused

That said, being an entrepreneur means being in full control of your destiny. If that’s something that is meaningful to you then all of the challenges associated with striking out on one’s own are worth it. And, this one is something that’s important to me. You need to be supportive of other women who are venturing out to do what you are doing. As women, we need to be supportive of one another. That’s what I teach my daughter, to be happy when her friends succeed and be supportive.

I’m focusing on my dream, I have many things on the burner, but this one is ready to happen. I have an online children’s store opening on Monday.  It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for about 10 years, since my little girl was two. Now she is 12, about to turn 13 in three months…better late than never.

My store,  Aria & Sophia is named after my daughter Sophia and my niece Aria, the two girls who own my heart. The desire to open a store that reflects my style has been something that my daughter Sophia has inspired.

Aria & Sophia will launch tomorrow. I would love to know what you think. Feel free to shop for the little one’s in your life,.

Stay tuned….www.ariaandsophia.com debuting on Monday, January 21st.

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Big Life Journal

My friend Dave,  recommended this book called “Big Life Journal”. Let me start by saying, it’s a wonderful book to get your tween or teen.

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It’s basically a journal that helps kids develop confidence. Now I know what you are thinking, no book can do that. Yes, you are right, in order for our children to develop confidence we, the parents have to be confident. Children emulate what they see.  That’s just the beginning of what we have to do in order for our children to be ok with themselves. This is where this journal comes to play.

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I started to read “Big Life Journal” with my 12 year-old daughter. The first chapter begins with evaluating your child’s mindset. As I began to read, my daughter snickered and right away said, you must of written this book mommy! Umm no, but it’s definitely something I’ve been practicing with her for many years, her mindset. Here is the first paragraph of the chapter:

It all starts here! Everything in life starts with your mindset. Your mindset is how you think about yourself and the world around you. It is the foundation of your success and happiness!

Voila! There you have it folks, just knowing this much makes a world of difference in the lives of our children.

The chapter continues to focus on the difference between positive mindsets and negative mindsets. It talks about how a negative mindset can prevent a child from reaching their goals and happiness, while a positive mindset can help them reach their dreams.  It then asks your child to evaluate themselves by taking a quiz. The results, well the most important result in my opinion is that is makes your child AWARE of what they think of themselves.  If they find that they have a positive mindset, then great, but if they are in a negative mindset, it helps them to rewire it. It encourages them to discover themselves and develop the mindset of growth, resilience, gratitude, and positivity.

As I move along with my daughter, I will share other things that resonate with me. In the meantime, get the book for your child and spend some time reading it with them. You won’t regret it.

Essential Oils, “The Bomb”

It’s the time of year where most of us are run down and sick. I’ve committed myself to sharing what I know about essential oil remedies. So here is what I give my family when any of us are under the weather. I use a blend of essential oils that we call “The bomb”.

It’s a combination of various essential oils that help boost the immune system. I use Doterra’s On Guard, Frankincense, Lemon, Oregano and Melaleuca essential oils. I’ve researched Doterra and I love their essential oils. You can use it two ways, either ingest it by putting two drops of each oil in a gel capsule, this is something I recommend for adults only. Make sure you eat something fatty when you ingest the oil. You can eat some eggs, yogurt, something fatty to dilute it. Take the gel capsule three or four times a day and within two days you will feel better.

For children and my husband who refuses to ingest the oils, I put 6 drops of each oil in a roller bottle and I add fractionated coconut oil to the rest of the bottle. I role it on feet, back of the neck, and down the spine.

For babies and toddlers, use 2 drops of each oil and fill the rest of the bottle with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil, roll it on the bottoms of the feet, in the back of the neck and down the spine every couple of hours.

You can buy both the gel caps and roller bottles from amazon.

Try it, you’ll love it.

Bringing smiles to children of war

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I would like to tell you about my friend David Mason and his amazing plight to bring smiles to the faces of innocent children. He has dedicated his life to helping children of War.

Unfortunately, right now, while our kids are safe and thriving, there are millions of children around the world suffering. This is happening right now, in our lifetime. Those of us who are parents can imagine the horrors that these innocent children have face. Think of what they feel and how they are able to survive.

I met David in 2003, when I was on a trip to Afghanistan, my parents homeland. I had not been there since before the war, so I was vey young. My family was in the US, when Afghanistan was invaded by Russia. My father was a diplomat in the United Nations and so, the trip in 2003, was my first time back “home”.

It was an emotional trip. Before our plane even descended, the landscape of the country took my breath away and took me back in time. Seeing the majestic mountains ignited a rush of  bitter-sweet memories.

 

My cousin Wais introduced me to David, a Danish-Iranian, in his early 30’s who had left his comfortable life in Denmark to help the Afghan children. He was inspired after 9-11. He wanted to do something good, for the most innocent of us, for our children. According to David, my cousin kind of adopted him and his dream of what is now the Afghan Mobile Mini-Circus for Children (MMCC). 

 

David, is the founder, MMCC, an educational non-profit that uses circus activities to educate and empower kids. The program also manages to bring smiles to the faces of Afghanistan’s children and promote peace in the war-torn country.

At MMCC’s flagship school in Kabul, Afghanistan, 120 children ages ten to 17, learn juggling, unicycling, acrobatics, theater, singing, puppetry and magic tricks. They then perform and conduct workshops across the country, spreading awareness about health, land mines, the importance of education, and other issues along the way.

 Most of the circus activities are led by the kids themselves.

This wonderful human being continues to spread joy and awareness with the Afghan Mobile Mini-Circus for Children (MMCC) for all these years. 

 

Now they are looking to raise money to transform the harsh winter of 900 underprivileged Afghan Children into a cheerful one. By donating, you will help ensure that the children will be safe and secure from the cold and bitterness of winter, while learning English, Computer, various Artistic, physical, Social and Life Skills while having fun.

Please take some time to log onto their site and give what you can. 

46% of the funds for Cheerful Afghan Winter for 900 underprivileged is raised, Thanks and keep Donating and Sharing please: www.globalgiving.org/projects/Cheerful-Af

ghan-Winter

 

Essential Oils

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Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

For the past couple of years I have leaned to use essential oils as a way to keep the people I love stay healthy. At first, many family members, including my husband, were skeptical, but eventually they came around.  They saw the benefits of using essential oils first hand.

I was recently asked to share what I know about how to use essential oils, so from now on, I will be sharing what I know one essential oil at time every week. I’m not an expert, just a mom who has spent many hours researching the benefits of essential oils. I would love to help you learn from what I know.

More people, especially parents are turning to more natural & holistic approaches when it come to healthcare. By using natural remedies to heal ourselves we can be free of the worries of unwanted side effects.

My use of essential oils began over a decade ago when I got into meditation, to help my anxiety. The person guiding the class applied Lavender essential oil on our temples to help us relax.  Lavender has a wonderful smell and it really helped relax me. I used it every night before bed for a long time, I still do but now I tend to alternate oils, not just Lavender. I loved it so much I started to seriously look into essential oils more.

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Also, I grew up with an amazing, magical mother who always used natural remedies for us. She would have us gargle with salt water for a sore throat, massage sweet almond oil once a week into our scalp and hair to keep it healthy. She taught my sister and I how to use yogurt as a face mask, put cold cucumbers on our eyes to bring down any puffiness, toothpaste for our burns and a million other holistic remedies. She would even make ridiculous faces and claim she was exercising her facial muscles so she would not need a face lift. She was brilliant and beautiful with such class, strength and impeccable manners. She had a heart of gold and a smile for whomever crossed her path. She and I started writing a book together that included all her beauty and health remedies, but then my dad got sick and then he passed away and then she left this earth and left us.

Today is the first anniversary of her death, she has always been the wind beneath my wings, and she continues to be even in death. I know she would want me to be strong for my family. I’m doing just what my mother would want me to do, helping others like she always did. Thank you mom, I love you so much and will miss you all of my life. She was the first to want to learn and then use my essential oils. I hope to pay it forward and help you help yourself.

So the first thing you need to know is that you should always use pure essential oils, that way you avoid any pesticides. Do your research, I prefer to use Doterra, but there are some other companies that use pure essential oils as well. There are a few ways to use the oils, you can inhale them, diffuse them, use them topically and there are a few that you can actually ingest. It’s a lot to learn but if you take your time and do your research you will use them without even thinking.

When I use essential oils topically, I aways dilute it with some sort of carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil, a heat pressed refined oil. Using essential oils straight or neat is usually too abrasive and can sometimes harm you, even burn your skin.

This week’s essential oil is Peppermint oil. It’s one of the most versatile essential oils out there. It can  help with muscle aches, seasonal allergies, low energy and digestive problems. Its also used to boost energy and improve both skin and hair health.

The next time you have a headache, instead of taking a Tylenol or an aspirin,  use a teaspoon of a carrier oil with two or three drops of peppermint oil. Apply it to the back of your neck, to your temples and your forehead. I usually make a roller , most of it is filled with fractionated coconut oil, with a few drops of peppermint oil and I roll it to my temples and back of my neck. Be careful not to get any in your eyes. Wash your hands after handling any essential oils.

For fevers, you can rub it down the spine on the hairline and the neck. To help boost energy, rub peppermint with some lemon essential oil on the back of your neck,  you can also put a drop or two in your water.

To help relieve seasonal allergies symptoms, diffuse peppermint and eucalyptus oil at home, or apply 2–3 drops of peppermint oil topically to your temples, chest and back of neck.

To boost your energy levels and improve concentration with peppermint oil, take 1–2 drops internally with a glass of water, or apply topically to your temples and back of neck.

You can put a drop on your toothpaste to freshen your breath and kill bacteria. Add 2–3 drops of peppermint to your shampoo and conditioner. It’s actually used in many high-quality hair care products because it can naturally thicken and nourish damaged hair. It helps  stimulate the scalp.

There are so many other ailments that peppermint essential oil aids, here is a list of a few,

  • Relieves itchiness
  • Relieves sunburn
  • Reduces nausea
  • Repels bugs
  • promotes healthy skin

Let me know if you want to know about a particular oil and it’s benefits. Next week I’ll tell you all the benefits of Lemon essential oil.

Happy Holidays, enjoy the ones you love.

 

 

 

 

YOUR WORDS GIVE LIFE TO YOUR LIFE

“What we speak becomes the house we live in.” ~ Hafiz
“Words are things, I’m convinced. You must be careful about the words you use or the words you allow to be used in your house.” -Maya Angelou

Think about how profound that is, especially if you are a parent. 

Words bring out the best or the worst in us. You can uplift people or tear them down with words. You can empower or disempower both yourself and those you share words with. And that is why it is so important to pay close attention to our words.

Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.-unkown

We are all human and lose control of ourselves from time to time but for the little humans we are raising, it’s imperative that they hear words that encourage, uplift and even heal. So the next time you have something to say, speak with intention. It all goes back to being mindful.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” -Bill Keane

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There are mornings when I wake up and the reality that I have lost both of my parents hits me hard! My heart falls into my stomach, I feel sick and so lost. To be without them always feels like a punch in the gut. It still takes my breathe away. My father is gone a year and four months, my mother passed away almost a year ago. It’s a pain that I would never want for anyone to experience, yet we all will. Some morning  I feel completely paralyzed, unable to accept that they are both gone, until I hear my 12 year-old call out to me. Her voice helps me to  refocus and be grateful for her existence.

It’s not easy to deal with loss, especially when you suffer multiple losses. Regardless of my pain, I put a smile on my face and try to begin my daughter’s day on a positive note. We chat as she gets ready, some mornings we are frantic, trying to get out the door.  After I drop her off at school, I return and often find myself unable to leave the couch.

I try to enjoy and be mindful of my first cup of coffee. It always puts a smile on my face. I thank God for my husband, who almost never leaves the house without making me coffee. That’s love.

As soon as I allow myself to feel gratitude,  my heart gets lighter. I am grateful for the people I have in my life. Today is a present.

Mindfulness

You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn

The past few weeks have been difficult for my family. It was our first Thanksgiving since my parents passed away. We decided to skip it this year, it was too difficult. Instead, we sat in our pj’s and watched movies. I took some time to think of all that I had to be thankful about, there are boundless things and people whom I am thankful for. I am mostly grateful for my parents and their gifts of discipline, faith, compassion and their love of family. We will forever cherish one another because of how they raised us.

So while I mourn my parents, I also need to honor them by being the best wife, mother, sister, friend that I can be. So I sit, I reflect, I am mindful of the pain, but I’m also mindful of all they have given me. I am grateful for their love and that will never leave me.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness expert, uses the ancient metaphor of the ocean to describe how mindfulness works. The entirety of our mind is deep, it’s vast and intrinsically still and quiet, like the debts in the ocean. There are times in life when the waves are dangerously rough, but if we learn to sit still and get a hold of our thoughts, we can ride through the waves.

Mindfulness is a practice, it’s all about being. Mindfulness helps you find your way, it allows you to listen to your heart, listen to your own yearning. Just begin by paying attention to your mind, really get to know it, be present, so when you are stirring the pot, or washing the dishes, just do that, be mindful of it. Whatever you are doing, do it with awareness. Dive underneath your pain, your anxiety, your anger and you will find awareness capable of holding it all and knowing “this is anxiety, It’s going to be ok”. When we actually believe our negative thoughts we spiral into anxiety and depression. Change your thought pattern and you can change your entire life. When you become aware of your negative thoughts, you have power over them. Zinn says that mindfulness is the gateway into the full dimensionality of being human of being alive. Without it you miss a lot.

I try to be mindful as much as I can. I often find it easier when I walk in nature. Mindfulness is not meditation, you don’t have to sit still for a period of time in order to be mindful. It’s just the practice of being present. Try it and you will realize that you are not your thoughts, but the awareness of your thoughts. It will change your life.

You can learn more by picking up Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Mindfulness for Beginners.

Your Path in Life

Do you like the path you have chosen in life? Maybe it took you years of getting your education to become a lawyer or a doctor, or a teacher. Maybe you are a stay at home parent or an advertising executive or a postal worker. It doesn’t matter what you do. Have you ever just given it some thought? Does it fulfill you? Does it make you proud? Does what you do contribute positively to anyone or any cause? Does it make you a better person? Does it bring you some sort of satisfaction? Maybe it challenges you, if it feels right then good for you!

There are many who are not feeling especially positive about their work. Maybe it does not bring them joy or satisfaction. It pays the bills but why just settle for paying the bills? Why not spend some time and thought on what will make you happy and pay the bills. Many of us just grow up expecting to find our way to the perfect vocation. We go to school, then to college, then to a good paying job that will support us. Some of us are happy, others start off being challenged and satisfied but something changed, their jobs no longer makes them feel good. That is just a little nudge from the universe telling you that it’s time to do something different.

Human beings are ever evolving. The one constant in life is that there will always be change. If we listen to those uncomfortable feelings and we try new things, we grow and blossom. If we cling onto something that is no longer serving us then we become stagnant. That is a foul place to be. We are always evolving, always growing, always learning something new. Even in grief, especially in grief.

Life is short, stop looking in the past and stop worrying about the future. Just be in the present, be thankful.