Teaching Kids About Giving

I came up with this idea one night while talking to my son about Santa and presents and all the Christmas stuff he had been hearing. He just turned three years old, and this is the first Christmas he started to be curious with what was happening. He knew Santa was coming, and he had a sack of gifts (mostly learned all this from school and books and TV) but I wanted to be able to explain gift giving to him, not just receiving. So I decided I would take him Christmas shopping.

I went to Target and got a few packs of these brown kraft gift bags. We were having Christmas Eve at our house, and expecting ten family members, so I wrote each person’s name on the bags.

I brought my son to the Dollar Store, and brought the bags. I gave him a basket and explained to him that we were going to buy a special gift for each person, something that we thought would make them happy.

We walked through the store, I would name a person and give him the bag, and we would stroll through the aisles talking about things they liked, and what might make them smile.

He was having a blast. I was surprised he had an opinion about each person! I would suggest something, and sometimes he would say, “No, I want to give them this” and point to something else of his choice. How sweet!

When it was time to check out, I gave him a $20 bill, and explained that in order to buy our gifts, we will have to give the cashier money. He was armed with sunglasses for Daddy, a toy pony for his sister, a basketball and football for each of his Grandfathers, and Disney figurines for the Grandmas. Not to mention a set of bubbles for himself. I agreed that a gift for himself would be appropriate.

When we got home, we unloaded the gifts, put them in the appropriate bags, along with a handmade card for each person.

The Most Beautiful Gift

My son picked this beautiful flower for me in my mom’s backyard, so I just had to share the joy of this moment! Seeing the proud look and huge smile on his face when he ran over to hand it over to me… made my heart sing.

Homemade Cold Remedy: Orange, Lemon and Honey Juice

I had a cold during a recent trip to my acupuncturist. While most people recommend to fill up on orange juice, she said the store bought brands are made of too much sugar, and suggested this mixed drink instead. I was pleasantly surprised how good it tasted! Your body does not absorb vitamin C, it basically leaves your body every time you urinate, so it’s important to drink this throughout the day (not just once) when you begin to feel the signs of a cold coming on.

  • 1 glass of water, slightly warm so that the honey will melt in it.
  • 1 teaspoon honey (Manuka honey preferred)
  • 1 orange, slice off two slices and put to the side. Then squeeze the remainder of the orange into the glass.
  • 1 lemon, slice off two slices and put to the side. Then squeeze the remainder of the lemon into the glass.

Place the remaining two slices of orange and two slices of lemon into them and muddle them into the mixture.

Gelatin: Better than Botox! Cranberry Jello Recipe

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Nutritional deficiencies can contribute to early aging, and adding gelatin to your diet can help increase collagen production for youthful skin.

Jello is an easy way to incorporate gelatin, and this healthy recipe is without added sugar or artificial ingredients – like the kind you buy in the store.

Jello-1

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan set over low heat, whisk gelatin with 1 cup cranberry juice and 3 tablespoons honey until there are no lumps.
  • Pour mixture into a medium bowl and whisk together with the remaining cup of cranberry juice, add lemon oil if desired.
  • Pour into molds and refrigerate until firm.

Finding Time to Meditate

Meditation

Ten years ago, I heard about meditation, it sounded interesting, like something I would enjoy and benefit from. But I hardly had the time to schedule another thing into my busy life. My mornings were a rush out the door, I was always running late, there were no breaks at the office, and by the time I got home I was exhausted. Years passed by, and I went on without meditating. I later learned, that if you can’t find an extra 10 minutes a day to do something for you, it may be time to reevaluate your life.

Fast forward ten years and my life looks very different. It is much more balanced and I am able to prioritize what is important to me, including self-care, personal growth, and awareness. It wasn’t until I began my Yoga Teacher Training course at Shiva Shanti Yoga that the topic of meditation came up again, and this time with an assignment. The assignment was to meditate 20 minutes a day. Well, now that it became an assignment, there were no more excuses, and I had to find a way. And I did. And now that I am able to see the benefits of meditation, now it is the first thing I make time for every day.

So how do you find the time…

If these outrageously successful and busy people including Oprah Winfrey and CEOs of various companies can find time to meditate, so can you. Meditating at the same time every day will help it to become part of your routine more easily.

Here are some examples of when you can find time to meditate. Pick one now, and stick with it for the next month:

  • The first 10 minutes of when you wake up, while still lying in bed.
  • When you get out of the shower in the morning, take 10 minutes to sit in a chair in your robe before getting dressed.
  • Before breakfast, take 10 minutes to sit outside on the porch or deck at home.
  • At work during the first 10 minutes of your lunch break, before eating.
  • When you arrive home at the end of the day, sit on the couch for 10 minutes.
  • In the evening when lying in bed before going to sleep, take 10 minutes to yourself.

If you don’t have 10 minutes, substitute with 5 minutes. If you don’t have 5 minutes, just try a minute. The thing is, just do it. Put it in your calendar and schedule it. Keep doing it so that you can make a commitment, and you can gradually increase the amount of time dedicated as you begin to build a routine.

According to Deepak Chopra, the best time to meditate is as soon as you get up and after you take care of your bodily functions—don’t think about it—just get up and sit down to meditate … even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Morning Detox: Lemon Water with Turmeric, Ginger and Mint

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Lately I have been starting the day with a detoxifying beverage of warm filtered water, lemon, ginger, mint and turmeric. Since I gave up coffee, I’ve actually been enjoying the morning ritual of mixing up this special drink. Truth be told, the peppery, bitter taste of the turmeric takes a little getting used to, but the health benefits are worth it. 

Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine. It has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic.

According to Dr. Axe, research shows that turmeric benefits go beyond that of these 10 drugs:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Anti-depressants (Prozac)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Anti-coagulants (Aspirin)
  • Pain killers
  • Diabetes drugs (Metformin)
  • Arthritis medications
  • Inflammatory bowel disease drugs
  • Cholesterol drugs (Lipitor)
  • Steroids

Turmeric contains chemical compounds called curcuminoids, of which curcumin is the most beneficial. Curcumin is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory agent and also helps the body to absorb other antioxidants.

So add some turmeric into your diet with this easy drink:

Ingredients

  • One glass of filtered room temperature water
  • 1/2 of a lemon, squeezed
  • 2 thin lemon slices
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of turmeric
  • 5 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 small slices of fresh ginger (a little goes a long way)

Instructions

Place all ingredients into the glass of water and mix with a spoon. You can add honey if the taste is too potent to start.

Keys to a Balanced, Happy Life

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Don’t Try to be Perfect:
Perfection does not exist and striving for it will only make you miserable. Instead celebrate the individual you are. Embrace it all – your talents, quirks and downfalls – and realize now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.

Balance_perspectiveGain Perspective:
It’s important to take part in a cause greater than yourself, to gain some perspective. At times, we can’t help but get consumed in our own problems, and helping other people makes you step outside yourself and see there are other issues in the world.

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Quit, and Quit Often:
When something does not feel right to you, let it go. All too often we are pressured to try our best, endure, and keep going – but sometimes you are just running in a hamster wheel and need to get off. If you are unhappy, don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life. You don’t have to be what everyone else wants you to be, you just have to be you.

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Get Sleep:
You need to give your body time to properly recharge in order to give every day your best. When we are running on lack of sleep, our energy levels and judgement become impaired.

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Eat Well:
Your body is your temple and you should treat it well. It will be your home for your lifetime so it is important to fuel it with natural, healthy ingredients as best you can.

Balance_helpAsk for Help:
Whether it is something simple like help preparing dinner, or something larger like coping with a loss, asking for help from others is a natural way for humans to connect. In modern society we have grown further apart, and often times struggle with life’s moments alone. Try asking for help the next time you need it, it will liberate you.

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Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable:
Going outside of your comfort zone is when you grow and experience what life has to offer. The phrase, “Don’t be afraid” is written in the bible 365 times, as a daily reminder from God to live every day being fearless. If something is scary, but also excites you, you should definitely pursue it.

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Forgive Others:
Don’t hold resentment, frankly it uses up too much of your own thoughts and energy. Forgive people that you want to keep in your life, and rid yourself of toxic people that are not good for you anyway.

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Slow Down:
Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted. Somehow, in our society, leisure time has become associated with being lazy. Don’t let that mindset become your norm. Slow down, wander for a bit, savor life’s little moments – the outdoors, food, music, family. Taking time to live will only inspire you in other areas, and inspiration is important to keep us going. At the end of their life, no one has ever regretted that they didn’t spend more time working.

The Power of Gratitude

Gratitude

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, we look forward to a day of eating, relaxing and spending time with loved ones. It’s also the perfect time to count your blessings, and reinstate the awesome power of gratitude.

Scientific studies, including those by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have shown that people who cultivate gratitude lead more happy, joyful, energetic lives. The deeper we appreciate, the more we move from a state of fear (or not having enough) to a state of expansion and love.

So how can we practice expressing gratitude into our daily lives? An effective way to do this is by keeping a daily gratitude journal, and documenting your appreciation. We all have a general, off the top of our head, list of things we are thankful for.

For instance, mine would start off like this:

  1. Husband
  2. Parents
  3. Siblings
  4. Friends
  5. Job

But the stand alone exercise of making an itemized list is not enough to feel the paramount influence of gratitude. It is much more compelling to be specific; pick one thing you are grateful for and write five, detailed sentences about it.

For instance, I am grateful for my husband Ryan because:

  1. He loves me unconditionally. He doesn’t have to understand me, but he always supports me and truly cares about me.
  2. He balances me out with his calm demeanor, and satisfaction with life as it is in this moment today.
  3. He is genuinely a good person. I value his character, morals and convictions, and how he treats others.
  4. He is funny and makes me laugh.
  5. I love being wrapped up in his arms, it makes me feel secure, loved, and warm.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Try doing this exercise every day for a month and see the immense power that gratitude can bring into your life!