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Archive for the ‘Living a Healthy Lifestyle’ Category
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1. YOUR KID IS NOT KING: You’re raising your kid to be a member of the human race, a society, a community, a family – not to be the center of attention.
2. REAL LIFE IS DISAPPOINTING: Learning early to handle disappointments well helps your kid become confident, self-governing and optimistic in a world full of limitations.
3. AUTONOMY IS THE GOAL: Effective self-governance and healthy self-esteem come from knowing our strengths and weaknesses in doing things in the real world and getting feedback, not from excessive encouragement or praise.
4. DON’T FEED YOUR KID JUNK PRAISE: Junk praise (for example, “Great job!” for ordinary activities), like junk food, is addictive and takes the place of developing inner wisdom that is necessary for skillful decision-making.
5. RESILIENCE COMES FROM BEING FLEXIBLE: Don’t protect your child from making mistakes, encountering failures or knowing the limitations (of self and other) that teach us how to be flexible in facing the expectable challenges of life.
6. HELP YOUR CHILD HAVE PATIENCE WITH TALENTS AND CREATIVITY: Diligence and patience are necessary for true creativity to develop; it takes about ten years to become truly creative in any field.
7. KINDNESS AND GENEROSITY BRING THE GREATEST HAPPINESS: Guide your child to be compassionate and helpful to others. Teach your kid to look around and see who needs help, assistance, or support in any moment (not just special occasions). There are countless opportunities to feel happy as a result of helping.
8. GOOD CHARACTER WINS: Good manners, good conscience and virtue are the requirements for good character that provides the best foundation for success.
9. BE AN EXAMPLE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS: Show respect, kindness and interest in your own parents, partner and elders. If you don’t, your child will not show a lasting interest in elders and other family members, including you.
10. TEACH YOUR KID HOW TO BECOME A MEMBER: Belonging to a family means more than being born into it. All kids should be taught to contribute to the welfare, celebration and cooperation of their families throughout the life span, becoming valuable members.
By Polly Young-Eisendrath, PhD, author of The Self-Esteem Trap: Raising Confident and Compassionate Kids in an Age of Self-Importance.
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How many times have you caught yourself saying,”Well, with my luck (fill in the blank with the worst case scenario for what you are dealing with)”? I find myself doing this more than I like to admit. Several weeks ago, during a particularly trying time in our lives, my husband and I were driving home from a very scary visit to our vet’s office. We had taken both our dogs in for their yearly routine exams having no clue anything could seriously be wrong with them. When the vet found a large, very suspicious mass on one of the dog’s chests, he soberly told us he didn’t like what he saw and would let us know the pathology results in 5-7 days. On the car ride home, I burst into tears and told my husband, “We just can’t catch a break these days.” My husband was very calm and told me to just keep my emotions in check until we knew what we were dealing with.
That was the longest week of my life. My stomach was in knots, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t find joy in anything, and basically just wanted to curl up in the fetal position. My dogs are brothers and extremely close. All the worst case scenarios of how the other dog would go on without his brother kept running through my mind. It was horrible. The test results finally came back and showed that the mass was large and in a very bad spot, but was benign. A great deal of money, a quick surgery and recovery later, and our pup is back to normal.
This whole incident made me take a serious look at why I am always ready to jump to the worst case conclusion. Am I trying to protect myself? Get my armor up and ready for battle even though it might not be needed? Why can’t I be more positive and optimistic? Does it always have to be the darkest day in my brain?
I think a lot of us do this. We expect the worst and the worst hardly ever happens (thank goodness!). But when it does happen, it rocks our world, and we decide to not be caught unprotected again. So, next crisis, our minds go into overdrive and we imagine what it will be like when the world falls on our heads so we can be “ready.”
While this is just human nature for some of us, starting now I am going to make a real effort to temper this impulse. Spending those 7 days imagining life without my beloved dog was in no way good for me or my family. And, of course, as it turns out, totally unnecessary. I am going to try to put my imagination in a lower gear, be realistic when things come up, but not panic and freak out. I know this will be harder than I think, but in the long run, it will balance my life, allowing me to be a more positive presence for myself and a more positive force in the world.
Leave it to my dad to find enlightenment from a herd of one-track rabbits. Eons ago when he drove one of those open-car, hand-cranked railcars for the Milwaukee Railroad (Hello, Elmer Fudd?!), he said that rabbits would get on the track in front of him, and once they started running, they couldn’t seem to figure out that all they had to do was jump off the track to avoid their demise. I don’t know if my dad realized what a powerful life lesson he imparted with this story, but it’s about the best metaphor for life a dad could share with his daughter.
Just as life never pans out for rabbits running from trains, it doesn’t fare too well for us when we’ve got railcars of pettiness, negativity, and — well, you fill in the blanks — heading our way. I don’t know what motivates rabbits to continue in their folly, but I have an inkling of what compels us as people. Long before wheels and railcars were invented, group survival was where it was at, and I still fall prey to its siren song of ‘there’s safety in numbers’ as well as that strong desire to be ‘included’ and the fear to change.
In that sense, it takes a brave bunny to break away from the herd (especially when that herd is its family of origin!). But I’ve found life is so much sweeter when we take a daily look at the track we’re on, our traveling companions, and what we have stuffed in our brain’s baggage compartment. Over the years, I’ve learned that if it looks like a train, sounds like a train, and smells like a train, it’s my cue to take the nearest exit. There’s no need to hurl insults at the rabbits who choose to remain, or throw rotten eggs on the railcar, track, or conductor. Just get yourself off the track now. Refuse to spend one more minute of your precious life huffing and puffing in order to stay out of harm’s way. You’ll never out-run a moving locomotive, and it’s no fun trying.
Truly, life is too short to settle for being steamrollered by anyone or anything. It’s a new year. The next time someone in your life wants to engage in drama, trauma, or just plain petty meanness, choose to get off the track! You can do it. A beautiful world of unlimited possibilities awaits you. Wishing you all a Happy New Year and Happy Trails!
Recently I was on a flight with a self-professed high school ”nerd.” During our 2-hour flight, I told him the good news — that if he’s a nerd now, I can pretty much guarantee one day he’ll be living The Good Life if he can survive the next four years without dropping out — of school or life. School life, I told him, is not kind to nerds, but real life is, as 20-year high school reunions can attest to. The teen years can be such a brutal time in our children’s lives. They don’t have the life experience to know that this conform-to-the-herd-or-be-a-nerd time is so temporary in the grand scheme of things. They don’t yet understand that a whole new world awaits in the not-too-distant future — where the dweeb of the lunchroom can be the CEO of the boardroom and the mousy girl in hand-me-down clothes can win an Oscar one day.
The key is to help our children discover what it is they truly want to do, what makes their heart sing, and let that define them and motivate them rather than their peers’ opinions of their shoes or how they wear their hair. If we parents/mentors don’t create the space for our kids to be real and feel listened to, where else will they find it? If your 16-year-old’s heart’s desire is to draw cartoons, encourage it, celebrate it, allow him to experience a sense of mastery in it, and explore possible career paths involving art even if your practical side is screaming.
My airplane buddy has a passion for World War II history and would love to work in a museum one day, but his mom is hoping he’ll become an ultrasound tech because they’re really in demand and make good money. If I could have coffee with his mom, I would first applaud her for raising a son who knows his bliss. If she said, ”Well, I don’t see how it’s going to put bread on the table!” I’d agree with her that it might not be easy, but then I hope I’d have enough gumption to tell her I hoped her son would find the courage and the means to live an authentic life. I might even share one of my favorite quotes by Howard Thurman: ”Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Since it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever meet this boy’s mom, I guess the next best thing is to write this to all the moms (and dads!) out there whose children are entering that stage where true passions and interests often take a backseat to their peers’ opinions, especially if their interests are not ‘cool.’ We can’t control what their peers say, but we can control what we say. The world may need more ultrasound techs, but my hope is that each of us looks for what makes our children come alive in the world and helps to nurture it. Wishing you all a beautiful spring full of hope and new life.
No matter how hard I try, the perfection I strive for seems to be just out of reach. As soon as the floors are mopped, a little tuft of dog hair inevitably appears in the corner. No matter how many hours of tender care I give my roses, the critters that forage in the yard at night leave nibbled petals and an occasional broken branch for me to find in the morning. Then, there are those personal life ‘experiences’ that burst the perfection bubble. Let me explain.
It was a picture perfect (nature can be perfect!), sunny afternoon, and my husband, our two sons, and I were at a high school graduation party for one of the nicest kids you could ever hope to meet. He and his beautiful mom (also one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet) live in a gorgeous home on a hill with an absolutely stunning view. I felt pretty confident that I looked nearly perfect: my hair was up, my dress was cute, and everything about my outfit said ‘this woman has got it together.’ Little groups of people were scattered about, chatting and munching on the yummy food, enjoying the whole setting. As I was chatting and munching, a soft breeze came up and blew a couple of pieces of lettuce off of my plate. Being the conscientious guest that I am, I stepped back so that I could pick up the lettuce. Did I mention we were outside? So, I stepped back — and directly into the Jacuzzi. Way in, to the middle, completely submerged. When the need to breathe overpowered my feelings of utter humiliation, I surfaced and slowly opened my eyes to see a row of surprised faces and my oldest son sitting on the steps and holding his head in his hands in total mortification. As I retrieved the piece of pizza bobbing on the churning surface of the water, all I could do was laugh. My stunned husband helped me out of the water, the really nice kid brought me a big towel, and his even nicer mom asked what, if anything, she could do for me.
Well, there wasn’t anything she could do; it was up to me to own the moment. So, I wrapped the towel around my dripping dress, apologized to my embarrassed 18-year-old son, removed the clip from my hair and fluffed it a little so it could dry, accepted the new plate of food my darling husband brought me, and enjoyed the rest of the party. Did I still look nearly perfect? Not a chance. My hair was frizzy, my dress was a little wrinkled, although it was completely dry by the time we left, and my mascara had settled into dark smudges beneath my eyes.
So, as you are frantically cleaning, decorating, baking, and wrapping this holiday season, remember that the little mishaps in life make it interesting. Your friends and family are not coming to your home to check whether your cloth napkins are expertly pressed, or whether or not all the candles in the centerpiece are perfectly straight. They are coming to see you, to share your warmth and laughter, because they love you and want to be with you just as you want to share yourself with them. Relax and own the moment, imperfections and all. Who knows, you may just end up with a great story to share.