Create your balance. Design your life.

Career

Shop Small This Week

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015

Here’s the thing: People work really hard to follow their dreams, create a business, and carve out a life for themselves. Let’s support that. Sure, mega-chain-marts are cheaper. But there is no substitute for handmade quality and originality. Have to shop for someone who “has everything?” Get them something unique from a small business, local craftsman, or artist. It is sure to be a hit! Support a friend by purchasing gift-cards for their services, and gift it to others. Pay it forward. Supporting the small businesses in your community, and the businesses of your friends, will score you some big karma points for the next time you need support in your corner. We could all use a hand. Don’t know where to begin? Try Facebook. Chances are, you’ve seen a friend recommend a local shop or business, or promote their own. Scroll back through and check out their websites. Make it a point to support a few of them while you shop this season. Here are some fabulous places I recommend. I guarantee you are supporting real people, real craftsman, real...

Read More

Motivation

Broken Resolutions

Posted by on Feb 2, 2016

By Danielle Katz Repeat after me “Its OK. Im only Human.” Every year we burden ourselves with promises of improvement. This tradition is a natural response to a big change, or turning point, or even an upcoming event like a reunion or wedding. New Years Resolutions have to do with a number going up by ONE by the way. Its a natural time to reflect. “Hmmm …what have I screwed up over the past year? How can I improve on that?” All this reflection is natural, so is screwing it up and falling off that “wagon of change.” You see this resolution, or this manifestation of our hopes for ourselves, most assuredly as Oreos are delicious, will be broken. “To human is to err”…I think someone important said that. I don’t know who, but damn if it isn’t true! We are human, therefore, we make mistakes. Now sometimes its no big deal, like we took a wrong exit on the New Jersey Turnpike and now were totally stuck in traffic. And sometimes its a real dozy! “Holy crap I just took...

Read More

Health & Well-Being

The Pressure to be Happy for the Holidays

Posted by on Dec 9, 2015

For every song on the radio filled with cheer and jingling bells, there’s another filled with loneliness and longing.  It’s good to know I’m not alone… Starting in the weeks leading up to Halloween, the calendar fills up with every seasonal activity imaginable. We are constantly reminded how “precious” this time is with our children, and urged to create Pintrest worthy family traditions. Pressure builds to make sure the family experiences ALL the joy of the season: decorations, shopping, tree lighting, Christmas concerts, school shows, baking, visiting with family, crafts, on and on. We push ourselves to accomplish all of our “normal” activities AND the additional activities of the season, and do it all while grinning wildly from ear to ear—lest we be called a humbug.  For some of us, it feels a little like moving through molasses.  Every activity requires twice as much energy (and leaves a lingering sticky residue). A while back, I wrote about authentic happiness. Not everyone’s happiness looks the same.  TV seduces us into thinking true happiness is a bubbling and bursting, a new-car-with-huge-red-ribbon kind of glee.  Some...

Read More

Family & Relationships

Clever Keepsake Crafts for People Who Don’t Have Time

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015

Spring is in the air! Time to clean, purge, and organize. Every year, this season fills me with the desire to start a keepsake project for my kids that will–one day–leave them speechless and teary-eyed with joy. I just don’t have time. Projects like scrapbooking take a lot of energy and dedication to complete (not to mention a ton of supplies). Many of us don’t have the space or the will to make it through these kinds of hobbies. Though I would love to present my children with beautiful mementos of their childhood, a scrapbook is not in the cards. I can’t even organize their photos on my hard drive. Still, while I’m cleaning for spring, I get nostalgic packing away their little outfits and artwork. In this article written for BuzzFeed, 7 Adorable Ways To Commemorate Your Kids Without Scrapbooking, I share seven ideas that have a low supply/storage/or time commitment. In most of these, the major requirement is to think about it from time to time and make a purposeful contribution. The idea is to choose one thing, like bath toys, and make a purposeful...

Read More

Recent Posts

Broken Resolutions

Broken Resolutions

Feb 2, 2016

By Danielle Katz Repeat after me “Its OK. Im only Human.” Every year we burden ourselves with promises of improvement. This tradition is a natural response to a big change, or turning point, or even an upcoming event like a reunion or wedding. New Years Resolutions have to do with a number going up by ONE by the way. Its a natural time to reflect. “Hmmm …what have I screwed up over the past year? How can I improve on that?” All this reflection is natural, so is screwing it up and falling off that “wagon of change.” You see this resolution, or this manifestation of our hopes for ourselves, most assuredly as Oreos are delicious, will be broken. “To human is to err”…I think someone important said that. I don’t know who, but damn if it isn’t true! We are human, therefore, we make mistakes. Now sometimes its no big deal, like we took a wrong exit on the New Jersey Turnpike and now were totally stuck in traffic. And sometimes its a real dozy! “Holy crap I just took the dogs medicine by accident, someone drive me to the ER!!!” But either way, we learn and move on. As a mom, this is an especially tough one to drive into your little ones, especially those little perfectionist types (gosh-darn it they drive me crazy, boy I love ‘em!) This is important for adults too! We screw up and its OK!!! See the first line in this article. Repeat as needed. You will fall off that wagon, whether your trying to loose weight or not go postal at the post office because the lines are so long. (Aren’t the Holiday’s Over? Why are the lines still so long?). Here is the important part. Get back on the wagon. No kidding, its really that simple. Why does it have to be new years eve for you to be inspired? It could be a random Tuesday. Just do it. (Sorry Nike….but its true). For me its the diet. I can be an emotional eater, Hell I eat if I’m just tired and cranky. But I’m 5 feet tall and gain weight just looking at cake....

The Pressure to be Happy for the Holidays

The Pressure to be Happy for the Holidays

Dec 9, 2015

For every song on the radio filled with cheer and jingling bells, there’s another filled with loneliness and longing.  It’s good to know I’m not alone… Starting in the weeks leading up to Halloween, the calendar fills up with every seasonal activity imaginable. We are constantly reminded how “precious” this time is with our children, and urged to create Pintrest worthy family traditions. Pressure builds to make sure the family experiences ALL the joy of the season: decorations, shopping, tree lighting, Christmas concerts, school shows, baking, visiting with family, crafts, on and on. We push ourselves to accomplish all of our “normal” activities AND the additional activities of the season, and do it all while grinning wildly from ear to ear—lest we be called a humbug.  For some of us, it feels a little like moving through molasses.  Every activity requires twice as much energy (and leaves a lingering sticky residue). A while back, I wrote about authentic happiness. Not everyone’s happiness looks the same.  TV seduces us into thinking true happiness is a bubbling and bursting, a new-car-with-huge-red-ribbon kind of glee.  Some people have a happiness quotient that is more of a simmer, save for those actual lotto-winning moments, and it is much more quiet. Like our bodies, happiness comes in all shapes and sizes.  We think something is wrong when we don’t feel what we think we should feel.  We tell other people to, “SMILE!!”, as if that is the only way to walk around in the world.  There is a difference between being unhappy and not-as-happy. Make this distinction in your solitude.  Appreciate the moments you have when your child says something magical about the season, when a great friend is in town for a visit, when your favorite movie comes on TV. It’s also perfectly reasonable to appreciate the quiet of the season: the glow of the lights when your house has turned down for the night, the warm smell of baking, the tears shed over people who have passed. We don’t give ourselves, or each other, enough opportunity to express an emotion other than jubilation this time of year.  There is room for reflection, remembrance, and reverence.  It is the pressure...

Finding Gratitude In The Dark

Finding Gratitude In The Dark

Dec 4, 2015

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie Most of us have heard about the benefits of gratitude. It can boost your immune system and decrease stress, according to Elizabeth Heubeck from WebMD. We know that practicing gratitude leads to a happier life and the feelings of abundance. What happens, though, when we can’t find gratitude? When we are trapped in darkness, how can we find a spark of thankfulness? Tune into one. small. thing. That’s it really. The practice begins in finding an appreciation for one small thing. Then the next. Then the next thing after that. Psychology Today posted a great article from Toni Bernhard, J.D. about moving forward when we find our gratitude “in short supply.” She says, “Instead of trying to talk myself into big gratitude—a lecture that is always packed with judgmental “shoulds” and “oughts”—I decided to think small.” Bernhard shares this example: Thinking big: “I should be grateful every single day that I live in a nice house with my own backyard.” Thinking small: “That’s a pretty little bird in the yard.” By thinking small, we tune into the TRUE feeling behind the sentiment. We can say we are grateful for the roof over our head because we feel we should. Our intellect reminds us of the atrocities of the world, and how we should feel grateful it is not happening to us. But sometimes that is too big for us to tap into. We can think it but not actually feel it. In those circumstances, reach out for something you can feel. For me, it starts with my children. I can immediately tap into honest feeling when it involves my girls. The practice of gratitude has to start somewhere. As with all things, the skill becomes stronger with practice over time. Seek the first, little thing you can find to be grateful for, and really feel the gratitude...

Shop Small This Week

Shop Small This Week

Nov 24, 2015

Here’s the thing: People work really hard to follow their dreams, create a business, and carve out a life for themselves. Let’s support that. Sure, mega-chain-marts are cheaper. But there is no substitute for handmade quality and originality. Have to shop for someone who “has everything?” Get them something unique from a small business, local craftsman, or artist. It is sure to be a hit! Support a friend by purchasing gift-cards for their services, and gift it to others. Pay it forward. Supporting the small businesses in your community, and the businesses of your friends, will score you some big karma points for the next time you need support in your corner. We could all use a hand. Don’t know where to begin? Try Facebook. Chances are, you’ve seen a friend recommend a local shop or business, or promote their own. Scroll back through and check out their websites. Make it a point to support a few of them while you shop this season. Here are some fabulous places I recommend. I guarantee you are supporting real people, real craftsman, real artists. RadLabs Know anyone that loves cool leggings? How about filling up some blank wall space or spicing up your couch with some new pillows? You have got to check out RadLabs on Society6. ABOUT THE ART: “Artists Katie Helms and Veronica Fannin create collaborative artist’s books. This image is a small detail taken from mixed media books made over several years of working together with many other artists. Steeped in love, ritual, and friendship & reaching toward center, these two friends offer to you a glimpse into their larger network of partnership.” The print I’m crazy about: Titled “I Don’t Hide Anymore,” this print has got my name written all over it!   Mama Sews Best It’s not jut the name that is adorable. You have to check out these handmade, cleverly creative, gifts. From matching kid/doll accessories to custom keepsakes, you are sure to find something you like. The item I’m crazy about: These Memory Bears are made from a loved one’s old clothing and offer comfort in all seasons. This tender tribute is especially wonderful for someone who is facing...

Kipling, Belted and Flayed: GUNGA DIN [1939]

Kipling, Belted and Flayed: GUNGA DIN [1939]

Nov 9, 2015

[Originally published by Mind of LeVine on November 8, 2015.] So I’ll meet ’im later on At the place where ’e is gone— Where it’s always double drill and no canteen.    ’E’ll be squattin’ on the coals Givin’ drink to poor damned souls, An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!          Yes, Din! Din! Din!    You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!       Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,          By the livin’ Gawd that made you,    You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din! Thus reads both the closing monologue of the 1939 RKO Pictures adventure film Gunga Din and the final stanza of the 1892 Rudyard Kipling poem from whence it comes. And so stands the extent to which the two works of art have anything in common. (Check out all five stanzas of the original Kipling poem here, courtesy of the Poetry Foundation.) Kipling’s rhyming narrative plays out as the nostalgia of a retired British soldier; as an old man’s yarn of glory days spent “A-servin’ of ’Er Majesty the Queen” in “Injia’s sunny clime.” But the glory of which he speaks is not his own. For “[t]he finest man [he] knew/Was [his] regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.” The Bhishti are a Sunni Muslim tribe of Northern India/Pakistan/Nepal whose traditional role in the regional caste system is that of water-bearers. And they were used as such (read: as slaves) by the occupying army of the British Raj (1858-1947). [1] In Kipling’s poem, the water-bearer Gunga Din is shot dead in the brave act of saving his wounded master (the narrator) amidst a great battle. Said master/narrator is then left to live on with the curious feeling of having been his heathen slave’s moral inferior. Not the inferior (or equal) of all the heathen slaves, mind you. Just of the one who saved his ass; a very special man who was clearly an anomaly. It’s all very Noble Savage and Talented Tenth-ish, and thus hard to take as a 21st century liberal. But it’s also spectacular manipulation of the English language. The poetry itself is gorgeous. (And, yes, content and language are mutually exclusive, just as are artist and art.) The George Stevens film, on...

5 Ways to Give Yourself Permission

5 Ways to Give Yourself Permission

Sep 29, 2015

We find ways to justify all kinds of detrimental behavior. We can find excuses for all our bad habits, half of which are unconscious. But why is it so hard for some of us to allow ourselves happiness, freedom, passion? Why do we make excuses for poor relationships and unrewarding careers? Embrace the Fear Fear is responsible for much of our thinking. I have made too many decisions in its influence and I’m sure you have too. You don’t think so? It is easily disguised. Maybe you thought, “The timing isn’t right for me to leave this job. I’ll wait until _____.” Or maybe you thought, “I’m too busy to look for a new _____.” Perhaps fear even felt like comfort. People will tell you to move past the fear. That’s never worked for me. I just couldn’t let go of those feelings. What I have been able to successfully do at many points, and am encouraging you to do here, is embrace the fear. Hold the fear and move on anyway. Use the fear and turn it into excitement or, at least, allow it to remind you to keep moving. Who wants to sit around in fear? You want to move fast enough that you don’t quite feel it anymore. Dump the dead weight you are with. the one who makes you feel terrible, that holds you back. Afraid to be lonely? Well…make a plan to join a social club. Use the fear to spur you into finding opportunities to meet people whose company you’d enjoy.  Afraid of loosing your job if you start looking for a new one? Use the fear to help you organize yourself and move quickly. Make a plan to send out resumes and be smart about your search. Don’t allow the fear of loosing a job you hate keep you in the job you hate! Remember You Are Not Psychic Our imaginations can get the best of us. We can project (fear) into the future and hallucinate all kinds of scenarios to talk us out of following our passion. Have you ever had a fake conversation with someone that turned into an argument? Have you ever felt terrible (racing pulse, upset...

Finding Balance Between Opposite Extremes

Finding Balance Between Opposite Extremes

Aug 29, 2015

Sometimes it seems like every article I write becomes about opposite extremes, and finding balance. I’m beginning to realize that might be because this pattern shows up a lot for me in life… plus this website is about work, and life, and balance. Today, I’m going to talk about how finding balance between opposite extremes relates to the Darwinian concept of the Middle Road, and the Buddhist idea of the Middle Path, or Middle Way, and how that approach can be applied to life and to health, for growth and success. For the philosphers among you, Aristotle’s Golden Mean and Confucious’ Doctrine of the Mean are right up along this alley as well. What got me thinking about all this was a noticing that I often see with clients, and in the health and wellness industry in general, an oscillation between states or practices of deprivation, and states or practices of excess, or hedonism. You may have experienced this yourself, if you have ever been on a very restrictive diet: you’re limiting calories, or carbs, or sugar, or foods that start with the letter T, and at some point, three hours or three days, or three weeks in, you’re standing in front of the fridge with a chicken leg in one hand, and a pint of ice cream in the other. Some of you are shaking your heads no because you’re always calculating and don’t succumb to cravings. For the rest of you, the vast majority of everyone reading this article, uncontrolled indulgence is a natural response to deprivation, and you are not alone. The idea of the Middle Road, per Darwin, came from a combination of the ideas of inductivism and eurekaism: The former suggests that the way to a breakthrough is work, work, work and practice, practice, practice, while the latter suggest that breakthroughs happen in one, spontaneous aha! moment, while dancing in your kitchen listening to techno (Darwin totally listened to techno, I just know it). So Darwin’s idea is not that neither of these approaches work, but that they both work, only not in isolation. They must be combined to be successful. The Buddhist idea of the Middle Path or...

How To Entertain Kids When You’re Sick

How To Entertain Kids When You’re Sick

Aug 27, 2015

Spring brings lots of beautiful flowers, green grass, and ALLERGIES! When the little ones are sick, late nights and early mornings make life tough. But what happens when Mom or Dad is down for the count? We’ve already had a round of couching and sore throats at our house, which reminded me to share this article I wrote for BuzzFeed, about 20 ways you can entertain kids when you feel like you. can’t. even.   The article lists a bunch of great ideas to help keep kids busy, but here are a few extra pointers to keep in mind when you are down for the count: 1. PRE-PLAN I hope the all-caps indicates the importance of this one! Gather a few items reserved specifically for sick days, and half of the work is done for you. You may recall packing a “hospital bag” or “home birth kit” before baby came. This is important too. Grab a box or bin and fill it with age appropriate supplies. Some ideas for older kids include, new coloring books and crayons (sure you’ve got old crayons, but new crayons are the best), exciting Playdoh colors in neon or sparkle, fun activites from the dollar store kid isle. Little ones are a bit harder, so make a few busy bags in advance. This site shares 15 ideas that are easy to put together–from lacing cards to sensory bottles. Age aside, all kids love new things. Make a little grab bag of small new toys. Pull one out in these kinds of emergency situations, and hopefully you can get an hour or two of peace. When the kids get too many toys for a holiday or their birthday, I like to put a few away (they never remember) and pull those out when needed. 2. Hire a cleaning service. Look, when the main caretaker is out of it, kids will take advantage of everything they can. For me, that means my house is going to be a mess. This stresses me out. Sometimes, for the sake of sanity, we have to spend a couple dollars. It seems indulgent at first, but you cannot put a price on sanity. You might even...

%d bloggers like this: