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Don’t Forget to Live

I remember growing up on a block surrounded by kids of all ages whose laughter and playful taunts echoed throughout the neighborhood. We anticipated sunrise to feel the warmth as we rode our bikes, played hide and seek and walked to the pizza shop. We rode the bus to the mall to check out the latest sneakers that dropped, although none of us could afford it.  We watched as the moon crept through the skies, turned on our porch lights and we would sit outside tossing around amusing stories of the day that unfolded before us, listening to the chirping crickets and catching lightning bugs. When overcast clouds gave us a rainy night, it was a reminder we would all arrive outside bright eyed and ready to wash the dirt off the cars in the morning. As we lay in our sound and safe beds brewing up the next day’s adventures, it was never forgotten that tomorrow would indeed be another magnificent day to explore, laugh, cry, and fall and most of all, live.

Fast forward to a day in the life of those same kids now. Things have changed drastically. Wanting to prolong sunrise so we can get a few more minutes of much needed rest to battle a day of kids’ lunches, school drop offs, delayed subway trains and unbearable coworkers whose life’s goal is to make you miserable. You leave the house without even a peck on the cheek, or simple “have a nice day.”  The thread on your jacket begins to unravel and the clash of thunder and lightning just makes you wish you never got out of bed.  You finally get off the train totally drenched, walking up to the coffee cart, only to realize you left your wallet home because you were in such a rush, so now, you can’t even buy yourself breakfast.  Catching only a glimpse of the beautifully decorated store windows as you scurry off to work and missing out on the talented teenager dropping some serious chords with his guitar. We anxiously await darkness to hover over, so we can put the kids to bed and fall asleep besides them, dauntingly exhausted and drained. We never ask about each other’s day, never steal a kiss or even a stare.

It’s inevitable we must all fulfill the duties of our everyday tasks. It’s pretty much written in stone that we have an unbroken responsibility to our children, to our homes and to our jobs. How could we possibly get through the day without doing a single chore or raising an elbow to clean up a mess (at least I can’t).  But nowhere does it forbid that we live our lives. I cannot say we should live as we did as kids, because a flood of memories would spiral me into wanting to skip work as I skipped school to get Ralph’s Italian Ices, or round up all the neighborhood adults for a quick manhunt game.(This would be awesome!)

Just stop and wonder. Stop to take a breath of fresh air and admire all the yellow Lilies in the summer midst or the multicolored butterflies fluttering about. Listen to your favorite song on the radio and sing it as loud as you can without a care in the world, strap on those dancing shoes and dance your heart away in the rain (As cliché as it sounds) or just hold on to your loved one’s hands and cherish that you can feel their soft touch.

We forget to live, to really live. We forget what it’s like to be free and full of excitement to wake up and experience the outside wonders, as my kids do every day. We forget to realize, every day, no matter how unusual to our expectations and clouded with complications and seemingly impossible obstacles are in that day, no matter how stressful we become and inundated with tasks, every day, is a day to live.

We smile at the teacher at school as we drop off our kids every day and say, “how are you?”  But when’s the last time you asked your significant other how they are?  Your boss needs you to take the highest paying client you have to dinner and you say ok. But, when your kid asks you to play outside, you say no because you’re too tired.  You come home in a frenzy, rush to make dinner and clean up the kitchen. But, when it’s time to eat, you’re still washing the dishes, the kids are sprawled in the living room watching TV eating their dinner, and your spouse is reading the newspaper while scarfing down a plate.

As life accelerates, we tend to roll with the punches and tumble into equilibrium of repetitive habits. Get up, make breakfast, feed the kids, go to work, come home, eat dinner, sleep.

How do we stop or at least alter this reoccurring cycle to find enjoyment and peace- even for a few minutes a day.

Forgetting to live is almost like not living at all.  When we become open and vulnerable to unnerving and raw negativity that influences what we think, say and do and how we aim to define living, it creates a bubble around us that forces us to envision nothing beyond the realm of this bubble.

The prerequisite for achieving satisfaction in life should be fulfilling simplicity. We get caught up in achieving “the American dream” that we neglect our own dreams.

The challenges that lay ahead are only true challenges within us if we haven’t really lived for what’s important. Face the unexpected with your heart and soul attached to your loved ones. Love the sunsets and raindrops as they tap on your window. Listen to the sounds of the ocean and tell your children incredible stories about heroes and mermaids.

Spend more time with loved ones. Cherish what you have today, or it can be gone tomorrow. Make memories together, hold on to life together. Live in the moment or by chance, live for the purpose of your deepest dreams and fantasies.

Whatever you do, however you do it, don’t forget to live.

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Take an Active Role in Your Doctor Visits

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Patient-doctor relationships are a partnership and require understanding and compassion from all parties involved in a patient’s care, whether you are an adult or receiving medical care for a child. Taking an active role in your health care and working alongside your doctor will help you to better communicate your needs and achieve your medical and personal health goals.

Here are a few tips you can follow on your next doctor visit.

  • Write down a list of your concerns and prioritize them.
  • Make a list of the medications and vitamins you are taking and update your doctor.
  • Consider bringing a family member or friend with you for support.
  • Update your doctor on what happened in your life since your last visit. Mention any changes you’ve noticed in appetite, weight, sleep, energy levels or any changes in medications.
  • Talk about your habits and daily activities you enjoy. It will help him or her to understand your medical conditions and recommend the best options.
  • Get information about new medications your doctor is prescribing – side effects, unusual interactions with other medicines or allergic reactions. Make sure you understand directions for correct dosages.
  • Ask questions about medical tests that are being ordered:

-Why is the test being done?
– What steps does the test involve? How should I get ready?
– Are there any dangers or side effects?
– How will I find out the results? How long will it take to get the results?
– What will we know after the test?

  • Discuss choices, different treatments, risks and benefits.
  • Learn who the other members of the healthcare team are and communicate with them as well- nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, occupational or physical therapists.
  • Ask about prevention measures.
  • Don’t be afraid to call or email your doctor with any follow up questions or concerns after your visit.

Most importantly, remember that your doctor is there to provide guidance, encouragement and medical expertise to achieve the highest possible outcomes for you. If  you don’t agree with something, speak openly with your doctor.

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What you don’t know won’t hurt you

If you cheat on your partner and he or she never finds out, no one gets hurt. So they say. I’m not sanctioning this thought. But, maybe not knowing what ultimately could lead to a broken relationship and family, filled with severe emotional pain and suffering, is better than knowing and tearing apart what you have, marred by a foolish mistake.

Does the same go for your body? What if you had an illness or disease and never found out what it was. Would it make your life better not knowing, or worse being left in the dark about your health?

I recently met a couple who shared with me their love history together.  They met as teenagers at their local hometown diner where she was a waitress and he was just stopping in with friends to grab a quick bite to eat. Long behold, they connected and went on their first date a week later. A year later they were hopelessly in love. 5 years later they were moving in together. 7 years later they were married and 10 years later they were having their first child.

25 years later the man was healthy as can be, but oddly began experiencing symptoms of memory loss and confusion.   His wife thought going to see a neurologist would help steer them to what was going on. Before his visit to the neurologist’s office, he told his wife he would go in and explain his symptoms, but when it came time for a diagnosis, he wanted her to receive the official diagnosis or explanation of what was happening to him, while he stepped out of the room.  She asked him if he was sure, he said yes and she agreed.

The neurologist did his examination and was on the tip of telling the couple what was wrong, when the man stopped him and told him to wait while he stepped out. Baffled by what was going on, the neurologist insisted he come back in. His wife told the doctor that was his wish and he wanted her to receive the diagnosis for him. So she did. After getting the diagnosis, they drove home and all she said to him was; it’s all going to be fine. You are going to be fine.

2 years later, the man’s symptoms slowly began diminishing. He was eating healthier, exercising every day and began practicing meditation- all on the wise advice of his wife.

Now, he’s symptom free, like nothing ever happened.

Now, it took a lot of guts for his wife to take on the burden of his diagnosis, and not everyone could do that. But, ultimately, his illness was reversed just by him thinking he was totally fine and never finding out what was actually wrong.   He never learned what the neurologist told his wife, nor did his wife disclose it me.

The point of the story is; our minds are capable of so much more than we realize. The power we can unleash just thinking positive, feeling positive and being positive is relentless.

Receiving bad news has a profound effect on our physical and mental health. Our brains filter negative images and words, and induce feelings of anger, depression, anxiety or sadness, which in turn affects our bodies.  This is what stress is.  When stress begins to flow through our bodies, ailments begin to unfold, aches and pains begin and we search for answers as to why.

Now, we can never completely shut off or sensor bad news. We cannot run from life.  Financial troubles, medical issues, relationship struggles and work stress is all part of life and sometimes it makes us a better person, stronger and more attuned to life, to take it all in and deal with it head on.

It may be better to learn about your illness, accept it and face it head on, as it would be to know your partner has cheated on you, accept it and move on.

But in some cases, it can only progress what you are trying to avoid from happening. The couple wanted to avoid the man’s illness from getting worse, so he turned his mind toward positive reinforcements. He never once believed he had any illness and he listened to his wife saying everything would be fine.

Any physician reading this may say, “Have you totally lost it? You have to know what’s wrong with you. You need to know your diagnosis in order to get better.”

But what about people in the middle ages who didn’t have access to physicians, or before enough studies were conducted to even be able to give a proper medical diagnosis. What did those people rely on? Some believed our bodies related to the four elements of earth, air, fire and water, ancient Chinese Medicine talks about channeling our chi to restore balance and rid ourselves of sickness, and some believed in the higher spirits to make it all better.

Medicine has come a long way since then and we are more capable now of knowing and understanding human anatomy than we were before. But maybe revisiting how they did things in the olden days isn’t so bad. They relied on the power of their own bodies and minds.

I did ask the woman, if her husband get worse or his symptoms never disappeared, would she then tell him. Her response was; “I never once believed he wouldn’t get better.”

That is the power of believing.

 

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Channeling our Energy for Ultimate Healing

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Sickness is an inevitable experience we each pass through at one point or another in our lives. Whether it be a bad head cold, a migraine, unbearable body aches, or more serious complications stemming from a chronic illness or disease, our bodies were built to fight and heal itself, internally and externally. The capacity to unleash self-healing stems from the understanding, that the mind, body and soul operate in unity, in connection with the earthly energies that are fused within us. Cleansing and balancing this earthly energy rids our bodies of toxicity and allows our chakras or the wheels of energy to flow calmly and peacefully to facilitate physical, mental and spiritual healing.

Our physical body is comprised of layers of energy fields that can send signals to our mind and soul to influence our overall balance and well-being. This energy is considered an invisible force, rooted deep in the earth that feeds us the necessary elements we need to live a fulfilled life such as compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, belief and faith.  This is what we need to tap into and align. To begin healing and open the gates of our chakras, we must become in tuned with our bodies. To we must first begin to listen to our bodies and give it what it needs.

Some of us may have experienced ourselves or heard stories of loved one’s going to the doctor and receiving a discouraging diagnosis of Cancer, Diabetes, Heart disease, Alzheimer’s or other chronic conditions and illnesses. It is disheartening; it is hard to receive news like this, and accept it. But take a minute to think of the domino effect of the news. Immediately after the news is given, this sets off a chain of negative signals in the brain that leads to stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, sleepless nights and other unwanted complications. Ultimately, all the negative energies being unleashed, lead to the body accelerating the sickness or disease.  Symptoms you may not have even noticed before now becomes more prominent or begins. Other complications like insomnia or high blood pressure set in, and it almost seems like it’s a downhill journey.

Now, we all must process the unexpected diagnosis, be angry, be scared and frustrated. But the next steps are crucial to overcoming these feelings and the underlying illness.  Once the negative energies are unleashed, you can focus on the positive ones; the one’s that bring a vital healing force to the forefront.  So, what does our body need to refuel and balance the earthly energy to keep us vibrant, healthy and positive?

Here are a few things.

  • Healthy foods give us power. Most of us try a healthy diet to lose weight, but eating the right foods not only helps us shed the pounds, but we can feel a boost of power in our body. Nourish your body with fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, proteins and healthy fats. Eating a well-balanced diet includes foods that are filled with vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting nutrients and antioxidants like; Kale, Spinach, broccoli, bell peppers, avocado, blueberries, grapes, sweet potatoes, beans grains, and many herbs & spices including turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, ginger root, rosemary and more. Our bodies are like cars- without the right fuel, it cannot operate effectively.
  • Relaxation is key. Unwinding techniques and finding mental clarity is different for everyone. For some it may be sitting in a corner with your eyes closed and turning off your thoughts, for others it’s shopping, cooking or curling up to a good book. You need to find what works for you. Here a few techniques to get you started.
    • Meditation has become a widely accepted way to give your body much needed peace, energy and healing. Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position. Turn on calming music, sounds, guided meditations or just sit in complete silence. Block out all thoughts focusing on your breathing and tap into your unconscious. Meditation has many benefits for your mind, body and soul and is one of the most important aspects to gain ultimate healing
    • Yoga is seen as unwinding the body and calming the mind. Through a
      sequence of stretches and poses, you can loosen the physical and emotional tensions. This holistic approach will aid in your astonishing transformation in your health and even personal life.
    • Activities you know calm you, are a great way to induce and release those endorphins. Invest your time in doing what you want for a change. Grab the new bestseller, a comfy blanket and start reading. Maybe you’re an outdoor person. Jump on your bike and head out for a long ride. Hit the malls if you enjoy shopping (just don’t overspend!) or even window shopping. Taking care of your needs is sometimes what you need to energize and be ready to face the World again.
    • Sleep is a huge element not to dismiss, as most of us are literally sleep deprived. With full time jobs, kids, chores, things to do around the house, part time or weekend commitments, the hustle and bustle never ends. But you need to know when to stop and get the much needed rest you lack. Make your bedroom inviting, warm and cozy to get the best sleep possible.
    • Writing is one of the most healing hobbies you can take up. I find journaling or writing on any topic of your choice (as I’m doing right now) will help you find your creative side, allow you to open your imagination beyond the realm of what you know and just give you the opportunity to sit back and relax as the master of your creation. You can write about your anger and frustration if that helps, or I find writing about the positive thoughts or goals that I’m working on achieving, is more beneficial to feeding my body with essential energy.
  • Qigong captures your energy in every way. As a branch of ancient Chinese medicine designed to unblock, free and balance chi in your body, this exercise is a way to self-regenerate the physical, spiritual or emotional blockages. It’s a combination of slow fluid movement, self-massage, meditation, and deep breathing that opens your awareness of your energy points or “chi” Qigong practice has been attributed to providing relief from stress, illness, pain, disease and enhances the body’s immune functions. You can practice these self-healing exercises standing or sitting, and Qigong routines can be tailored to your physical capabilities and situations.
  • Exercise is a must. Cardio, aerobics, or any physical activity amplifies your ability to heal. The stronger your heart, the stronger your body, mind and soul. Build your resilience, endurance and flexibility. Use your body strength to build mental strength. Let go of your anxiety during your workouts and give your body a firm workout. Find exercises that work for you like walking, jogging, swimming or gardening. Incorporating your Qigong into your routine is even more beneficial.
  • Believing and positive thinking is how you can get through the toughest of times. Most of you may have heard this various times throughout your life. Taking an important test, interviewing for a promotion or new job, doing an important presentation, or even just starting your day off; all will be better if you have full belief in yourself that you will succeed.  Positive thinking is essential to releasing unwanted energy and healing. Our state of mind can affect the overall  health of the body and well-being. The healing power of our minds is relentless and we just need to tap into it. The well-known placebo effect has proved this theory in multiple studies. What is it? Patients with a reported illness such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Cancer, or Diabetes were placed into two groups. One group was given the real medicine or pill to help calm the symptoms, while the other group was given sugar or water pills- the placebo. The outcome; patients taking the placebo doubled their rates of improvement or their improvements were just as same as the group taking the real pill. Mere positive thinking and expectations that the placebo they were given was going to work, actually did work. Their bodies received the positive energies and vibes and went to work on repairing itself.  Believing in your self-healing abilities and being positive even throughout the most difficult facing illnesses, really spikes your energy levels and makes a difference in how quickly the disease will progress or diminish.
  • Prayers, positive sayings or affirmations really do work. This is really verbalizing what you’re thinking in the above action. If you practice religion or not, there are many ways to program your mind with positive thoughts and beliefs. Many, who are religious, take to their prayers of choice and recite these prayers every day. Gaining spiritual clarity is a cleansing and revitalizing process and helps us attain a higher sense of realization. If religion isn’t your forte, writing down positive thoughts and affirmations and reciting them at least once a day, is just as beneficial. These statements of truth and inspiration become a part of who we are, what we represent and ultimately lead the path towards healing. Things go wrong all the time and it may not seem like it’s your day, but by reaffirming “I will succeed” “I will heal” “I hold the power to my healthiness” you can have a real effect over your physical and mental health. These prayers, words and thoughts become crystallized in our minds.
  • Compassion, forgiveness and gratitude will help you discover yourself and your abilities. You must absolve all hatred, anger, jealousy, resentment and persecution towards others and yourself. Learning compassion is gaining awareness of others and their needs and using your own abilities to help them fulfill these needs.. Going to sleep and waking up with a clear heart is almost a necessity to finding healing in any aspect of your life. Forgiving those who have done you wrong, or forgiving yourself, helps you see past the present and look towards the future with clarity. Expressing your gratitude for even the smallest gestures and being thankful for the roof over your head, the little bit of food you may have, the shirt on your back and the love someone may show you, will help you appreciate life in ways you never thought possible.

Illness in any form is cruel, painful and can rob you of your ability to live, physically, mentally and spiritually. The harsh reality of a doctor’s diagnosis can really hit you hard, knock you down and keep you down.  You just have to gain the strength to get up and knock it back down.

Healing will never be the same for everyone. Finding the successful path for unleashing the earthly energies within us, will be different for all and may take longer for some than others. Some of the above mentioned things may not be right for you, or may not appeal to you, and that’s okay. Trying various paths is all about finding ourselves, the real us. Find your path today and unleash the energy!

Happy healing and good luck!

 

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Building a Future

As I sit back and think ten years ahead in the future, what do I see? Well, first I’m hoping I’ll still be with the love of my life and my children would be on their way to being the next Disney Channel star in the making. I’ll be hopeful and say I’ll only have 10 years left on my mortgage and I’ll be debt free.

But, more than that, I want to be a successful entrepreneur striving for the top. I want to see myself teaching my kids the ropes of our family business (just in case their rise to stardom doesn’t work out), maybe making a few worthy investments, maximizing the benefits of stocks and bonds and utilizing capital in a smart way to be a thriving business person.

Looking ten years in the future really means examining life now, in the present. All of us have to start planning now for what’s to come and that means thinking business.

Franchises are a valuable investment if you’re looking for a low-cost credible start-up business. There are nearly a million franchised establishments in the U.S. consisting of food, retail, manufacturing, agricultural, health care, and professional services.  Franchisees, can have a higher chance of success than in a sole proprietorship and includes initial training and ongoing support, established brand awareness and the opportunity to benefit from national and regional advertising.

Buying into an established business has numerous benefits. You don’t have to devote your time and energy to brainstorm a business plan or develop a business model- the work is already done for you.

This not only includes the customers, but suppliers, employees, equipment, and systems as well. It is a good possibility that the previous owner(s) may offer some insight and assistance, therefore making the transition easier.

In addition, the cash flow most likely will start immediately, rather than in an unknown timeframe when starting a brand new business.

Each year, Franchise Business Review surveys thousands of franchise owners across North America and publishes a ranking of today’s top franchise opportunities based exclusively on owner satisfaction.

Just a few that made the list for 2015 include; Visiting Angels Senior Care, Budget Blinds, MaidPro, Two Men and a Truck, Home Care Assistance, Amada Senior Care and much more.  This list includes numerous franchises in the healthcare, automotive, Home Services and Senior Care sectors.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in starting a business from scratch, but whatever you choose, plan now and plan smart. One job is not cutting it nowadays.

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Summer Home Maintenance Tips

Rising temperatures and warm weather call for the beach and outdoor barbeques, but it’s also more of a reason to maintain your home to avoid hazardous wear and tear that can lead to unnecessary claims and higher premiums. Here are a few summer home maintenance tips to keep homeowners cool and safe this summer.

– Have your air conditioning tuned and ready to go. Inspect and maintain to prevent unwanted emergencies. Inspect refrigerant levels, coils are thoroughly cleaned, fan is functioning and there are no potential fire hazards with faulty wiring.

-Roof check- Your roof should be inspected annually to avoid problems. What better time to do this than summer. Don’t let small problems turn into a bigger issue.

– Maintain your driveways, walkways and decks. Being outdoors provides an opportunity to inspect your driveways and pavement for cracks and holes. The goal is to avoid accidents such as neighbors and guests slipping and falling. If you have a deck, inspect your deck for curling, cracked or rotting wood. Replace boards if needed. Ensure your deck support structure is sturdy. Doing your due diligence now, will avoid later possible home inspections and more time and money spent to repair.

– Upkeep your garage. Keep your garage clear of hazardous materials that shouldn’t be left in the heat such as paints, solvents, combustible materials, etc. Do a thorough cleaning to lock away fertilizers, pesticides and hand and power tools. Keeping your garage clean and maintained will avoid unnecessary spills, stains and possible hazardous accidents.

-Maintain the exterior of your home. Take advantage of the warm weather to wash the windows and gutter- water can debris can accumulate which can lead to water damage. Clean the sidings and repair any damaged vinyl or aluminum siding. Check and be aware of termite situations and remedy immediately. Home inspections are happening more regularly – Investing the time now, will save you a home modification later.

-Clean your dryer vent- The U.S. Fire Administration reports nearly 16,000 dryer fires occur annually, which happens because of clogged vents. Invest in a vent-cleaning brush kit which can help clean your dryer vent tubing more thoroughly.

-Maintaining appropriate insurance coverage. Ensuring you have proper coverage that can protect you when you need it most, is most important. Are you insured for windstorms, hurricane, fire, theft, etc. Have your policy reviewed every year and sit down with an experienced insurance company, such as Frank P. Rampersad Insurance, to receive the best tips and recommendations.

Contact Frank P. Rampersad Insurance at 718-845-7615 or visit us at 125-05 Liberty Avenue, Richmond Hill, NY 11419, for more homeowner safety and maintenance tips, and to learn more about your insurance policy.

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Keeping Zayna’s Memory Alive

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Beautiful as the suns brightest rays and pure as night and day, Zayna was the epitome of all that is true and right. The twinkle in her eyes and her sweet smile was enough to make anyone melt.  My family and I are truly grateful for the  time we spent with her and today I write this to share with my daughters as they grow older, so they will never forget, but always treasure Zayna’s memories and remember her as their best friend.

Zayna and my daughter Vishanna were born 5 days apart and I still remember that special day Sarah and I told each other our joyous news. We couldn’t believe we were going to have our kids together. Everything we had done growing up came flooding back and we joked and laughed at how the two would carry on our legacies. We were ecstatic we would experience this bond firsthand and be there to guide them through all their precious moments, good or bad.

The most anticipated day approached and I gave birth to Vishanna on February 8th. I remember thinking in the hospital, she already had a bestie that she would soon meet.  5 days later on February 13th, Zayna was born.

Zayna and Vishanna’s fate as friends had long been written and it was their destiny to have each other for as long as they did.

Vishanna and Zayna finally met and it was like a battle of the stares. The two had no idea why they put together, or why this was so cool for their moms, but it was the beginning of a friendship that would never end, and now, never be forgotten.

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As time went by we had play dates and outings and we watched them giggle, hold hands, run, grow, and be the innocent kids they were. The best part of it all, is that they both had loving parents who’s friendship would also never end.

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Not too long after, my second daughter Valanna was born. Now, we were really headed for trouble. These “trouble makers” as we all liked to call them, were inseparable when they were together.

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The last and fondest memory I have of Zayna and my girls were on New Year’s Eve. Sarah, Mike and Zayna rang in the New Year’s with my family and I, a tradition we started when Sarah and I were pregnant. Every year, the kids played and stayed up until the ball dropped and of course fought to keep their eyes open with the fear of missing out on something, or missing each other. Last year, tearful eyes and pouting faces is how they departed from one another.

This year was different. Maybe the universe knew in some way, it would be our last moments together. Sarah and Mike slept over this year and we had sweet angel Zayna spend more time with us than she normally would have on this holiday. I remember when Zayna walked in, Vishanna instantly spotted her “Peppa  Pig” sweater- a favorite cartoon Zayna and my girls enjoyed.  Vishanna loved it and talked about it all night. The three cooked in their play kitchen, took every toy out of the toy box and ran endlessly around the house. The happiness of their togetherness vibrated throughout the house and it was obvious how much they loved each other. Some people might say children don’t know what love is, but I can tell you firsthand, these three girls had an unconditional love for one another, one that will always exist for my girls.

Valanna was the first of the trio to fall asleep. Vishanna was next. But Zayna, bright as day, was wide awake and ready to go for another few hours. I remember Sarah and Mike telling me how she didn’t sleep that night, but tossed and turned all night. Maybe her insomnia was in excitement and anticipation of waking up to another day of fun and games with Vishanna and Valanna.

New Years Day was probably the best day I’ve had watching Zayna and the girls play. The three woke up to each other’s loud giggles and hugs and kisses. They set up their play kitchen again and I watched as they talked to each other, tugged at each other’s hands and danced and sang Ring Around the Rosie, and all fell down together. Sarah and I filled the tub, threw in some bubbles and watched the three of them swim, make funny water noises and Santa Clause faces. When we took them out, we changed them and put them all down for a nap in one bed. Like sisters, the three lay next to each other and I remember thinking how lucky they were to have each other. Again, Valanna or “baby Lanna” as Zayna liked to call her, was the first to knock out, eventually Vishanna did and little Zayna just wanted to play.

She finally did go down for a nap and it was so peaceful watching all three of them sleep. Innocence and purity captivated their hearts, seized by beauty and treasure.  The three sleeping dolls were dreaming their hearts out. It was a magical moment indeed.

Zayna spent all day with us and it was the best day of the New Year.  Little did I know, it would be the last my family and I would see her bright smile again.

I refused to go into Zayna’s hospital room and I chose to say goodbye to Zayna in my own way because I wanted to remember her vivacious soul, infectious smile and bubbly personality.

Zayna brought  magic, laughter, beauty and purity into my home, into my girls’ life. The tears are streaming down my face as I write this, and I know how hard it is to remember, but today I make a promise to my dear friends Sarah and Mike.

I’m not sure how you explain to a 3 and 1 year old their best friend is gone, but I do vow to make sure they always knew she existed and she was a huge part of their lives.  My girls are so lucky they had Zayna for as long as they did. I promise, Zayna’s memory will stay alive with her best friends for life.

RIP sweet baby girl and keep dancing with the Angels in Heaven!

Please continue to support TeamZayna and the Cooleys anemia foundation. 

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Parents Need Increased Role in Bully Prevention & Detection

bullyingI came across a young girl who asked me if I knew how hard high school was today; not in the sense of keeping up with gym class and acing the math test, but adapting to teenage and adolescent growing pains. My response-honestly, I don’t think so. She looked at me, nodded and said; every morning I get up and make sure I have the perfect outfit picked out, my shoes match accordingly and my hair and makeup are untouchable. If I don’t do that, I’ll be the next target.

Wow!! Is this really how youth are thinking today?

I know the issues I may have faced when I was in high school were sought by petty girl fights that eluded to a battle for territorial power that meant nothing the day after, boy drama that emerged from whispers and sightings in the hall, or defining who’s group of friends belonged to which social clique- again, all forgotten as soon as it happened.

Sad to be hit with a dose of reality, but eye opening to face the true monsters our youth are running from-literally. Today, our world is filled with social media, cell phones, video games and overwhelming inappropriate television programs that are bombarding and threatening their potentials to make wise decisions. I know there are numerous articles on why, how and what can we do about this issue- but let’s take a step back and just talk about the role of parents and how the patterns that are defined at home can lead to such behavior, whether it be your child is the bully or is being bullied.

Bullying is all too common among school-age children, especially that age 12-18. According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, more than one out of four children had been a recent victim of bullying, with 6th graders the most vulnerable. Every day, nearly 160,000 children miss school because they are scared of bullying, according to the National Education Association. These numbers are just climbing the peak of outrageous and continue to spike.

School was always the stepping stone where children gained knowledge, sensibility, social skills and ultimately set the foundation for adulthood. As parents, we expect this would be the safest place for our children. Unfortunately, bullying is resulting in serous physical, emotional and academic harm, and now in an overwhelming number of cases- death.

In some cultures, parents are often reluctant to talk to their children about who their friends are, and what they are doing outside of school, what their hobbies are, the new “crush in their lives, or even what type of clothes they are into. Neglecting to spend quality time with your child and really understand who they are as a person, may deter you from recognizing the warning signs that your child is involved in bullying. It’s important to be alert that something is not right to help steer your child in the appropriate direction, or provide guidance. That can only happen by being intimately involved in your child’s life. Take an interest in their social settings, study environments and habits, taste in music and fashion.

Most households have more than one child. If you’re dealing with two siblings or four, the fact remains that one always takes on the more dominant role and how they begin to treat and act towards the other siblings is only the beginnings of shaping their minds. It’s important to start turning that behavior around from a young age and teaching them the importance of kindness, compassion and unity. Kids are so intelligent at such young ages and it’s incredible how easily they will pick up and mimic what their parents do.

Condoning bad behavior can lead to impulsive and wayward conduct that equals trouble. Overlooking good behavior can lead to insecure and ungrateful adolescents who are always seeking approvals or acceptance. Both are important elements of building character for your child. My two year old, as any two year old would, draws all over my cabinets and has spitballs flying out of her mouth. Now, while this is a much more trivial example- I still let her know what she’s doing is wrong. When she listens and actually gets ready for bed at a decent time (doesn’t happen often) – I let her know what a good girl she is. Giving children positive feedback will help build their self-esteem and give them confidence to stand up firmly for what they believe, reinforcing empathy. Letting them know something isn’t right will also give them a sense of reluctance to make an unwise decision and promote responsibility.

Taking bullying serious from a parent perspective can allow us to play a more significant role in preventing it. Parents have the key to shaping a child’s mind, giving them the power of knowledge and more importantly, helping them overcome the challenges of growing up.

According to the National Crime prevention, your child may bully if, he or she; lacks empathy and doesn’t sympathize with others, likes to be in charge, often fights with brothers and sisters, is impulsive. kids who are bullied tend to be different from other kids, whether by size, race, sexually, or have different interests, seem weak, either physically or emotionally and are insecure.

Look out for these signs and be more vigilant to help your child find his or her path in this world.

The Center for Disease Control and prevention has an entire section dedicated to helping youth and parents cope and overcome bullying.

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Turning a New Leaf for Generation Y

When my parents bought their first house in 1974, they paid less than $100,000 for it. When they decided to open a business, they bought computers, printers and other start up accessories for under $500. Today, I can’t think about buying baby formula and pampers without having at least $100 in my pocket. Times have changed so drastically and many young people are struggling to keep afloat, raise a family, keep their houses, and experience the adventures of life. We all yearned for independence and freedom from the time we were probably 15 years old, but did we really understand what that meant. Generation Y may not have been cushioned with enough experience to enter adulthood and were not fully prepared to handle the evolving dynamic economy and financial demands of a household, family and the workforce.

Becoming an adult has fundamental core elements traditionally coined by sociologists- leaving home, completing a degree, entering the workforce, getting married and starting a family. It seems these transitions have become an economical and financial burden for many and young people today are taking longer to attain a gratifying level of achievement.

For 21-year olds graduating from college and entering the job market- fear and hopelessness floods to the top. Some go into a dismal panic as they already have thousands in school loans, job prospects seems dim and they are competing with successful baby boomer generations who don’t want to give up their jobs that easily; and some really shouldn’t have to.

Those starting a family find themselves with a $300,000 mortgage, $50,000 in debt and late bills. When the first child is born, the strains are tightened and the emotional stress becomes a deterrent in attaining joy from starting a family.

Many thirty year old bachelors are enjoying life without attachments and commitments, and sometimes that means commitments to the bank. Some are frivolously spending money on cars, vacations, and other materialistic things forgetting to save for the long-run.

This raises a few concerns. Was this generation prepared with the appropriate skills and guidance to adapt to adulthood and make the shift to the next phase in life? Were we really ready for this complex pathway to adulthood where we must own up to our own mistakes and misfortunes? Sometimes, I think not.

Graduating with a business degree gives us the green line to become, a Vice President, CEO or entrepreneur, but I’m not sure it builds our mentality for a financial down spiral. While we thrived in our classrooms and honed in on broadening the horizons of climbing the corporate ladder, we may have taken for granted the unsolicited advice on making critical life-changing decisions that could impact our financial growth.

I don’t know if I myself had a true understanding of the power of a credit card and how toxic it could be, or how quickly debt really piles up. Joining the workforce is undeniably complicated on so many levels, but knowing how important investing in a retirement plan is was not something I was taught in college.

When my husband first talked to me about life insurance policies-It was new concept that never crossed my mind. Thinking about taking a second mortgage on our house now has me searching on Google to better understand how it could impact my life.

Yes, some of this seems so trivial, but yet, gen Y is finding we are covered 10 feet deep under a dark hole.

According to an article in the New York Times magazine entitled “What Is It About 20-Somethings,” One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch.

No group has felt the impact of the economic turmoil more than generation Y and I do agree it’s harder for this population to reach many of the basic financial goals our parents may have taken for granted. It’s harder now to save for the future, pay for college, or buy a home.

But I also think easy to blame this time period for our financial troubles and we should begin to look forward on how we can turn this around and help our own families prepare for what we may not have been prepared for.

The expectations of this generation were always highly optimistic, but youthful optimism does not always give insight to the crushing realities.

It’s our time to hold the reigns and leverage the tools we are given to trudge ahead. Attending financial seminars, learning how the stock market works, taking advice from elders who can often be a valuable resource, or networking with business professionals, can all help us get back on track and take control of our financial outlook. There are classes about budgeting, saving money, how and when to use credit cards.

One of my favorite presidents, Bill Clinton so eloquently said, ” As we have throughout this century, we will lead with power of our example, but be prepared, when necessary, to make an example of our power.”

We have the opportunity not to arm ourselves and our families with the power of knowledge- let’s take it and run!

 

 

 

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Turning Workplace Frustration into Empowerment

We often find ourselves stressed, frustrated and just down and out because of our job and its inevitable remnants on our lives. While some of us love what we do and we do it well- the toxic environment we thrive in can distract us from growth and accomplishment causing unnecessary happiness.

The combative tone of a boss who doesn’t possess the skill, drive, or talent to be in his or her position, the scathing emails from co-workers in high positions who believe their ultimate goal is to diminish the existence of your being, the uncooperative teams of people who send you into ten different directions to get what you need because they are too lazy to do it themselves, and the bitter remarks from the caddy “one” who has a sense of entitlement because she’s been there a little over three years- get over it. Unless you’ve put in 10+ years of devotion keep your whining to yourself.

Putting up with all of this can really send you into a career coma- dreading the feeling of turning on your computer and going to your first meeting, talking to anyone to has anything more than Good Morning to offer, seeing your bosses face, and becoming agitated by the minute because you decided not to call in sick today.

Most of the people described above really lack the compassion and dedication you clearly possess and there really is no explaination why they’ve come so far, so don’t bust your brain trying to figure it out. Some are either trying to get you out of the picture because you pose a threat to them, make you slowly cut your own rope so they don’t look bad, or they just do not like you. Is any of this fair? Of course not, but who’s really going to do anything about it. Forget human resources as most of the time it’s a failed attempt that gets right back to the management you are complaining about- which in the long run may give you what you think you want- no job. Talking to other employees may console you, especially if you’re all in the same boat and feeling the same way. But, at the end of the day, you deal with your own problems and you go home to face the sleepless nights, endless headaches and frequent ‘I’m going to quit this f….n job today!” outbreaks.

So, is it really going to knock you down and keep you there? Only if you let it. While I know this is going to sound cheesy and almost impossible at times, I find staying positive and trudging through the mud is the best option in the long run. Well, the best option aside from really quitting and pursuing your dream. For some, quitting and moving on is not that easy if you have a family to support, a mortgage to pay, debt to pay off. Finding another job is a great option, but you actually have to spend time looking, interviewing and don’t forget taking time off from work and dealing with the repercussions of not being at work during a major fire. Looking for a job is stressful in itself, and there’s no reassurance you’ll find something that pays as well, is the optimal location you’re looking for, or is even the best job fit for you.

By staying positive I mean literally looking outside the box of your cubicle and spotting ambition. Finding outside hobbies that raise your self confidence, portray your real worth and give you a sense of accomplishment leaves you empowered and feeling above those who try to bring you down. Some people have so much more going for them outside of work than they realize. We all have unhidden talents and there’s no time like now to unmask them and use it to your advantage. We hear stories all the time of people like Warren Buffet who started off selling gum and coca-cola door to door, but put his time and effort into a real interest which made him a millionaire and America’s business magnate.

There are plenty of business opportunities available that you can devote just a bit of start up money and real time too, and your investment may turn you into the next business mogul.  

In a nutshell if you’re unhappy at work-be happy at life.

Make something for yourself. Start your own business, whether it’s an online t-shirt store, a blog, or a lemonade stand. Become the world’s next biggest humanitarian by creating your own volunteer group and start making a difference just in your community. Join groups, chambers and churches and see what you have to offer.

Think about your talents at work and how you can make money outside using those talents. I’ve developed a career in marketing and communications, and I’m actively using those skills outside of work to head up a non-profit organization, start my own marketing company, and invest in business opportunities.

If you really do want to move on and find a new job, these extracurricular activities and self motivational movers will all look great on your resume and above all, you will start feeling more empowered.