It’s hard to believe that 15 years ago TODAY, my first baby was born. HB is fully into her teens and teaching more about being a parent and a better person than I could ever imagine. And not to mention, allowing me to hone my skills in patience, anger management and improving my sense of humor as I experience life through the eyes of a teen in the year 2017. Boy, new parents are in for the most wonderful, crazy ride of their lives! Which leads me to share info about an event I was invited to attend last week for new and soon to be mothers as a local blogger. I think when I started sharing pics from the event I gave a few of my friends a scare! But, while it definitely wasn’t my personal demographic – it was a good opportunity for me to see how this particular generation finds out about products, connects with others and enters into this exciting phase of life.
When I arrived to the MOABS Luxe and checked in, I was given an awesome VIP gift that included a Baby K’tan diaper bag filled with lots of stuff including a Baby Jack & Company lovey! I was then told to go and HAVE FUN! And boy did I! There is something really special about being around couples who are at the start of this magic. Their energy is contagious and they are so happy! I loved being around them…
My first stop was the AVEDA table (of course!), where I was treated to a nice, stress relieving shoulder massage using some amazing smelling Aveda oils. The staff at the table were the nicest and since I love Aveda products already, I did snag a limited edition candle Light The Way that smells amazing! And for those that know about Aveda, know that they are definitely a cause based company that believes in giving back. The candle is 12 bucks and all the proceeds go to help bring clean drinking water to people in Madagascar. From their site: “This year’s limited-edition aroma features certified organic vanilla, cinnamon and ylang ylang from Madagascar, where we’ve helped fund water systems for 10,000 people.” So, I helped others and got a yummy shoulder massage within the first 15 minutes of my arrival, I would say that the event was off to a great start, so I moved on…
Next up, I was greeted with food, drinks and a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN! I mean – COME ON, Now! The drinks included one of my favorites – La Croix Sparkling Water. A table full of La Croix water – all flavors. I love sparking water so this was another win for me! Fully fed, chocolated up and hydrated, it was time to enter the big room. The room with the different vendors, displays and where the speakers were going to drop their knowledge. I kept thinking about how things have advanced since I had HB and Nate Dogg. Technology has improved so many aspects of parenting gear. I felt oddly unprepared even though I have successfully raised two kids myself…
First stop in the main room was to visit Dorie Howell Photography. Her table displayed all of her amazing photos. I asked her a few questions about her photography, including her camera brand of choice (Canon!). She mentioned she has been photographing babies for quite some time and does do families and other portraits as well. Her photos were gorgeous and you can tell she connects with the people she photographs. She also mentions many times she doesn’t require much post production work either – which is pretty impressive if you look at her photos. And in a small world coincidence, I shared her pic out during the event over Instagram and a dear friend of mine left a comment that Dorie is a dear family friend of hers! You never know who you will meet and we all are 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon for sure!
I walked around the event for a bit and then it was time to hear the keynote speaker Maria Bailey share her thoughts. She shared some really great ideas about blogging and becoming a Mom Influencer which is what she specializes in. I really enjoyed listening to her advice and will be sharing some of what I took away from her opening remarks soon in another blog post. As a fellow marketing, influencer and blogger – it’s always interesting to hear how others make their way and the trends that I need to adapt to. After she spoke, I went and introduced myself and we chatted a bit about my experience and some of the challenges I have found working with brands and companies – one of which is to prove to them how important it is to reach out to influencers and use social media even if it doesn’t bring in direct sales!
I made my way around to each of the tables – talking a bit to the vendors and sampling and inspecting their products. They had a great baker Randy Cakes who offered delicious cupcakes (I brought them home for my “baby” HB and she gave them a thumbs up) and Mother Nuture, who make refreshing flavored waters and delicious chocolate truffles containing some of the essential nutrients that moms and their babies need like folic acid, DHA, Protein, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and choline. The ingredients in each of their nutrient blends work in harmony with prenatal vitamins and are made with all natural ingredients, nothing artificial. Now, no one in my house is pregnant but I loved the water and my husband and kids loved the truffles!
The event went on for a few hours with different guest speakers talking about car seat safety, pre-schools, cribs, baby stuff and more. And there were really terrific raffles after each speaker (think Cribs, gift sets of Aveda products, High End Car Seats) I even ran into a former coworker of mine, Heidi, who blogs at Boys on a Budget! I haven’t seen her in almost 20 years, so that was a huge bonus! It was a great night – stepping outside of my comfort zone, meeting new folks, re-connecting with others and finding out about some amazing products geared towards new Moms!
Dogs are amazing and awesome
Last night, I watched this video: A dog’s remarkable journey to find a home: A distance of 6,455 miles doesn’t begin to measure the journey one dog made to join a team and find a family (video below) and I literally sat there crying for a few minutes after the video was over. What a special bond some dogs develop with their people. But even more than the companionship and love they give, dogs are good for your overall health.
Here are just a few of the many benefits:
- Dogs are heart healthy According to the British Journal of Medicine, dog owners tend to have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks, and have fewer medical problems than those without pets.
- Dogs help boost your mood Hanging out with your pooch can make you more calm and raises your brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin, the mood chemicals in your body!
- Dogs get you moving Dog owners tend to exercise more by taking walks and running around with their doggies.
- Dogs help boost kids’ immune systems According to Science Daily, kids who grow up with dogs have fewer allergies and are less likely to have eczema. They also are exposed to more dirt!
- Dogs teach responsibility and commitment Caring for a dog is a major commitment and requires patience. It’s a 24/7, 365 day commitment.
- They can detect health issues In addition to sniffing out cancer, dogs can also be trained to identify seizures, severe allergies, and other health issues.
And while not directly related to health, but definitely affects a person’s overall well-being: DOGS REALLY CAN TELL IF SOMEONE IS A BAD PERSON
I rarely watch videos from start to end when they are more than a few min long, but the other day this one: Simon Sinek speaking about Millennials in the workplace of today, caught my attention and has really stuck with me. I have had to learn how to manage millennials and work with them in my day to day life. They are definitely a different generation than the GenX I am a part of.
Simon brings up so many good points about why they are the way they are — but his points don’t only apply to the Millennial generation. So many of us are addicted to our devices. We don’t leave home without them, we sit down at the table with them right beside us, we bring them to meetings – we are attached to these devices night and day. I remember having to sit for Jury Duty and the first thing I thought –WTF I can’t bring my phone or iPad while I wait? What am I going to do?? (I ended up running into an old friend and we chatted the time away and I wasn’t chosen so I got to leave early – so it all worked out.)
I went to Wegmans earlier this week and after watching this video, I stood in line and purposely left my phone at my side but what did I see all around me? Everyone else was on their phones waiting for their lane to checkout. Sinek is so spot on – we are losing the moments of connection, the moments that lead to an idea, innovation. We are so busy looking down at our phones, we miss out on all the opportunities to connect with others – known and unknown. We need to look up more. I’m not in the camp that devices are evil – but they have all but taken over our lives. We are rarely disconnected, our kids are viewing celebrity lives through filtered lenses, heck, we see our own community through filters. It does affect people –good and bad.
I wonder how hard it would be for all of us to do a digital cleanse? Maybe it would do us all good especially now that Trump will be in office soon and with him, comes a lot of propaganda, fake news and sensationalism.
Have you done a digital cleanse? Let me know —
- Why You’re Not in Shape (Yet)
- Which exercise burns the most calories: Jogging, spinning, or personal training?
- The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking
Another cultural icon passes away too soon. George Michael was a huge part of my growing up. His music was a constant as I grew up in the 80s and early 90s. We have lost so many greats in music this year -Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael…
Do you remember how controversial his song “I want your Sex” was? How it was obvious he was gay but wouldn’t publicly admit it because back then –artists didn’t talk about it. My how times have changed. I was trying to explain this whole thing to HB and she just looked at me like I was crazy. His music is so uncontroversial compared to what is put out today — but back in the 80s and 90s, he was blazing new trails and pumping out the hits.
This has been a rough year in so many ways – Politically, in the Pop Culture sphere, and around the World. I am sure I’m not the only one who is ready to put a pin in 2016 and call it a year. I’m not one to wish away time – but it’s been tough.
What do you think of the quote I included by George Michael? That “because of the media, the way the world is perceived is as a place where resources and time are running out?” I agree that our sense of normal has been skewed by the constant barrage of media images, today more than ever. It’s information overload and much of it is not accurate. It’s no surprise that the younger generation is having a rough time deciphering real from fake news. Do we even know what’s real anymore?
I know it’s the holiday season and things are supposed to be merry and bright, but that isn’t real either. There are a lot of people who are more depressed, alone and lonely during this time of year than any other — so, I want to suggest to everyone out there, let’s be kinder, more tolerant of one another and make decisions with the best of intentions. You never know what someone is going through or what might happen – so start at home, with yourself.
I’ve been putting off reading Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement address to the 2016 UC Berkeley grads – knowing it would bring out the feels. I read it this morning to help fire up some inspiration – sure enough, it hit me just like I expected…
The entire speech is poignant, funny and meaningful, but here’s what resonated with me the most…
“when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void—or in the face of any challenge—you can choose joy and meaning.”
‘Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful. Try it. Start tonight…”
‘Build resilient communities. We find our humanity—our will to live and our ability to love—in our connections to one another. Be there for your family and friends. And I mean in person. Not just in a message with a heart emoji.’
Scotty’s cancer battle profoundly changed me. And, while I do at times find myself getting dragged under by the minutiae of life, I try my hardest to focus on being thankful and choosing joy. It’s about perspective – my life could be a lot worse as I found out. I choose to be thankful and look for the meaning and joy in every day. It sounds schmultzy, but it’s true. Life is way too short to hold onto anger, be resentful, let fear control you or hang out with toxic people.
Thank you goes out to Ms. Sandberg for sharing her very personal, intimate experience with the world. By sharing it, she is helping others find meaning in their challenges. I’m glad I finally read it – it was definitely worth it.
I have been so busy that I haven’t had a ton of time to update, which is good and bad. I often find posting in here a cathartic experience and one that forces me to stop for a few moments during the week and think – about what has caught my attention during the week, what is spinning around in my head – and document it for lack of a better word. So, it’s been well over a week with no entry – and I feel the guilt creeping up.
NY Tartan Week 2016
Rumor has it that I do have some Scottish genes from my fraternal grandmother, but in all honesty, no one would ever mistake me for being Scottish. That didn’t stop me and 10 of my Outlander friends from traveling to the Big Apple to celebrate the yearly New York Tartan Week yearly event, including marching in the parade down 6th Ave. We had been planning this girls trip (dubbed Tartcon 2016) for more than six months as a way to get together beyond online. We had no idea that the leading actor Sam Heughan would be the Grand Marshall of the parade and cause thousands of other Outlander fans to drop everything and head to NYC too.
Seeing the Outlander Stars
As part of Tartcon, we were able to see the OL cast at the Apple store in SoHo (although I was too short to really see anything). The following day, Scotty was able to pull a few strings and get two front row seats reserved for me and my friend Mandy to watch Outlander Cast: AOL Build Interview. I was able to fan-girl for a few short minutes and then it was over. Mr Heughan did make eye contact briefly (I quickly got flustered and looked away) and shook my hand (which was soft but a bit on the cool side). Then – it was over. I never saw Mr Heughan in person again. Sigh…
On Sunday, we were able to march in the parade as part of the Outlanders United group. Normally this would be fun, but it was cold and rainy. Most of the marchers were not prepared for the weather, including me. I did have a hat and jacket on but boy, my hands were frozen by the end. Not to mention, something had upset my stomach big time so I was struggling to finish the parade, so I could run off to find the nearest restroom (TMI).
There is something really endearing about the parade tradition. People gathering together, for a common cause/theme. It’s a very old fashioned tradition and even though it was rainy and cold, the energy surrounding the event was palpable. There were doggies wearing special tartan sweaters, bag pipes, traditional Scottish gear, lots of kilts and of course WHISKEY!
After the parade, was the after party at Papillion Bistro. I wasn’t feeling 100% and I looked like a drowned rat – so I wasn’t in the most festive, partying mood. Despite that, I made the best of it and spent the next few hours with some lovely, amazing friends and some serious Scottish lovers drinking lots and lots of water. (Well – I was drinking the water anyway).
After the party, we walked over to the Director’s Guild to watch a special screening of Episode 1 of the Second season of Outlander. Well, that was the plan anyway. One of my friends, Kathy and I were so cold and over it all, we decided to pre-order pizza (Johns Pizza) and leave the screening early to pick it up and enjoy some carbs, water and down time in our hotel room. Think about the constant activity and noise I was being barraged with the past few days – I needed some down time. Living in the suburbs is not good training for being in a big city. You tend to forgot how loud and always on the go it is. It’s not a bad thing, just not something I am used to.
There were a ton of other activities and moments I shared with my amazing group of friends this weekend. Imagine 11 of us (some just meeting in person for the first time), all hanging out for 4 days together. There was fun, good food, Whiskey, great memories and a lot of support. There were also a lot of strong personalities in one group, but we all got along amazingly well. This was the sort of trip we needed -getting away from our lives for a few days. Our wonderful lives that are full of husbands, kids, jobs, real life responsibility and enjoyed each other’s company with love, laughter and support. Each of the women on the trip has a story and personal experiences. After this weekend, I think we all found something magical and powerful in one another and combined. And after it was all said and done, we ended up adding two new Tarts to the group as well.
I was trying to figure out what really bothered me about the latest Kim Kardashian instagram image. It’s her body, so what do I care if she wants to show it to the world. But yet, it still bothered me. Then I read something posted by Pink today on Twitter that captured what I was feeling:
“Shout out to all of the women, across the world, using their brains, their strength, their work ethic, their talent, their ‘magic’ that they were born with, that only they possess. It may not ever bring you as much ‘attention’ or bank notes as using your body, your sex, your tits and asses, but women like you don’t need that kind of attention. In the quiet moments, you will feel something deeper than the fleeting excitement resulting from attention, you will feel something called pride and self respect.” -Pink
It is absolutely her right to show her body off and be proud. I just can’t help but think about what happens when her ‘looks’ stop getting her attention. What happens then? More plastic surgery, treatments, perfect lighting to keep up the facade? I would imagine that when your fame and career all stem from how you look – you get wrapped up and it consumes you.
When I saw her IG posts, I didn’t stop and say oh, i wish I was just like her. Quite the opposite actually, It bothered me. It felt cheap, unnecessary and an over the top cry for attention. It also angered me – my teen daughter sees images like that all over the place now and in her still forming mind, she begins to think that’s worthy of attention and worthy of emulation.
It makes parenting that much harder…
- What’s wrong with the American diet? More than half our calories come from ‘ultra-processed’ foods
- The Water Diet: Can you lose weight just by drinking more water?
Last week was my birthday. It was an awesome day that started off with a good 530A workout. I try to always exercise on the big day as a way to thank my body for hanging in there. Of course, I took a nap when I got home because waking up before 5a is just not OK. I woke up to a wonderful homemade breakfast. HB made me a feast fit for the health conscious queen that I am, including gluten free toast with an owl design made out of fruit. It was awesome and yummy.
In the evening, my friend Mandy invited me to go into DC and check out a panel discussing Behind the Scenes of the Walking Dead. And yes, Andrew Lincoln was there! It was really awesome to hear more about how the show is made —Greg Nicotero, executive producer, director, and special effects makeup supervisor talked about the process to create the zombies. It was clear listening to him how much he was born to do what he does. It fascinates me to listen to people who from an early age found something they are passionate about and get to do that thing every day as a career.
The next evening, Scotty and I enjoyed a steak dinner at DC Prime. It was so amazingly delicious and we came home to cut into my yearly Carvel Birthday cake with the kiddos.
It was a lovely weekend that ended with a super bowl party over at a friends house with friends that have been in my life for over 20 years. Coincidentally, this past weekend I came across this article: ‘I have lived over half of my life’ : Writer Miranda Sawyer on the quiet desperation of a midlife crisis. I had never thought about my age in this way, but thanks to this writer, I have spent more time than I care to admit thinking about it. It’s scary in some ways – to think that half of my life has been lived but on the other hand, I have had a ton of great experiences and lessons and it has led me to the life I lead now – which is pretty damn good. (see birthday weekend as an example.) She makes some good observations that I can certainly relate to although not necessarily because I agree or it’s been my own personal experience.
It also speaks to something that has been on my mind – quite a few of my friends are splitting up. They are separating, divorcing, up and moving across the country – doing some reflecting on where they are in their lives and deciding it’s not where they want to be anymore. For some, it was a long time coming and best for everyone involved. For others, it hit them like a sucker punch. They were not ready for the life shock that hit them – and are now trying to recover. There is something about hitting middle age. We are not the same people that we were in our twenties (at least I hope we are not), and the things that some people chose during their younger years are not the right things for who they are now. There is no right/wrong about it – even though I know it happens, it still causes a bit of a pit in my stomach.
Watch This (and Laugh)
Even though David Bowie was as far removed from my real life as possible, waking up to the news of his death from cancer caused my heart to sink. I wouldn’t even say I was a huge fan of his music other than an appreciation of his talent and art – but to me, he represented the freedom to be different, to reinvent yourself any time, and how to live life on your own terms. He was a part of the fabric of my youth– the 80’s music scene. Bowie, Queen, Duran Duran – huge musical influencers during the eighties.
Why do deaths of icons hit people so hard?
I think it’s a reminder of the passing of time and the realization that we are getting older, even though it feels like yesterday. Cancer hits everyone. He was 69 years old: way too young to die no matter how. But cancer doesn’t discriminate. You can be famous, rich, kind, amazing or poor and anonymous. Cancer doesn’t care.
Bowie was an artist – writer, creative genius, actor, musician. I love that he was also able to see the humor in his legacy:
He just released his final album last week – and like his musician friend Freddie Mercury, his final video was a parting gift and a goodbye on his own terms.
David Bowie’s last release, Lazarus, was ‘parting gift’ for fans in carefully planned finale : The producer of Blackstar confirms David Bowie had planned his poignant final message, and videos and lyrics show how he approached his death
Here we are in December, weeks away from the New Year and the beginning of winter. Colder weather, darker days, a lot of stress for some trying to survive the holiday season.
For me, it can be the perfect recipe for losing motivation and momentum – if you let it. I used to think that this time of year and into early January, when all the gyms are full and people start creating New Year’s resolutions, was the time for renewed inspiration. I find myself starting to feel the pull of the warm bed in the early morning and find myself staring at the clock during some of my workouts wondering how much longer I have until it’s done.
It’s a good thing to recognize because as someone who loves working out – the feeling of a good sweat and the feeling of strength that comes with a great workout. There’s nothing like it, I can’t imagine drifting away from this lifestyle – but it becomes more chore-like if I don’t continue to challenge myself by trying new things or switching things up.
So – for those who are active on the regular and reliably focused on leading a healthy lifestyle – I challenge you to switch things up in the upcoming year. If you find something you love already – great – keep it up but also try a few new things to spice things up. Try a new class – ZUMBA anyone?? Try weight lifting, try Barre. Get outside of your comfort zone — your body and mind will actually benefit from it!
- How Often You Should Switch Up Your Workout to Keep Losing Weight
- When, Why, How & How Often Should You Change Your Workout Routine
Star Wars Kraft Macaroni & Cheese “Can’t Play”