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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Recent Posts

Inspiration

Inspiration

Apr 28, 2015

I had a column ready to go today and I accidentally deleted it. It now sits in that dimension where missing socks from the dryer go and I don’t think it is coming back. I have decided to share a previously published column that I enjoyed. After this I will be taking a month off of my writing duties for personal reasons and I will be back full force in June. This column was originally published in January 2014. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I will see you in June! Alexandra Elaine Michaels xoxo I know I usually focus on one character but this week we are going to mix it up a little. I am going to list a few movie bad girls that are not only self-empowered but really have a quality that I find inspiring and who make me want to be a better person by the lessons I’ve learned from them. I will give you the character, the movie and the trait I admire. I hope you’ll re-visit or watch some of these movies for the first time. Enjoy. These bad girls are a special breed.   Tracy Turnblad  “Hairspray” (1988) (2007)                     Tracy Turnblad is not your average teen. She comes from a family that doesn’t have much money although she isn’t really aware of it and this girl loves life. She is the girl that is not in the popular cliques but she doesn’t really notice this either. She isn’t envious of the other kids. The only thing some of them have that she desires is a spot on a local dance show that airs after school everyday. Tracy manages to get on the show and then the fireworks fly. Tracy being the girl she is (she likes everyone for being themselves) makes friends with some of the black kids in school and she realizes they are not being treated equally only because their skin is dark. Tracy wages a small war for equality in a city full  of prejudice and stands strong even risking jail time because she so firmly believes...

The Wonderful World of YouTube

The Wonderful World of YouTube

Apr 21, 2015

We are putting the bad girls aside this week. Why you ask? I’ll tell you. While I was in the car today I had the radio tuned to “Drew Garabo Live!” on 102.5. During the show he played the audio from a video and I found myself so moved by the clip that I was crying while trying to navigate through a rain storm. The clip involved a 19 year old boy who has autism. He got a paid apprenticeship at a hotel. This will be his first job. The joy in his voice turned me into a blubbering woman trying not to wreck the car. It was a beautiful clip and it got me thinking of all the different kinds of clips you can find on YouTube. They are all like mini-movies. Sometimes they will pull at your heart strings, they may amaze you or you can be laughing until your sides hurt. I have decided to share some of my favorite videos I have found on YouTube over the years. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. If you don’t blame Drew. He inspired this column with audio from a single video (which I could not locate on YouTube). If you are in the Tampa area tune in to Drew Garabo Live. I am not getting a thing for giving his show a plug, I honestly love it. He is on 102.5 FM every weekday afternoon from 3 until 7 and he provides some seriously entertaining talk radio. Now on with the clips. When you are done take a little time and explore YouTube for yourself. You never know what you might find. Orcas Playing in a Boat’s Wake The first time I saw this video I was floored. This is an encounter with nature that I would kill for. I sat and watched in amazement as a pod of killer whales were feeling frisky and playing in the wave wash as the people on the boat were enjoying an afternoon cruise. The woman on the boat said it best when she uttered “Jack Hanna, eat your heart out” Enjoy this awe inspiring slice of nature. Music that will...

A Preview of Coming Attractions

A Preview of Coming Attractions

Apr 20, 2015

I had a different column in mind for today, however I have changed my mind. This week people everywhere have been very excited by the premier of the new trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. I am not one of those people. It did get me thinking about trips to the movies and the trailers for upcoming films being one of the most exciting parts of any trip to the local theater. If I missed any of the previews that trip to the movies was a less satisfying experience. Sometimes the previews are dead on and the sense of anticipation started by the trailer will continue to build until you get to see the actual film. At other times the trailer is far better than the film that is being advertised. I have gathered some of my favorite movie previews from over the years to share. Sometimes I got everything and more when I saw the actual movies and at other times they should have just released the 2 minutes preview instead of the terrible film they actually got you to go spend your hard earned money on. So sit back, relax and enjoy a preview of coming attractions. “The Blue Lagoon” (1980) When I saw the trailer for this it was at that age when hormones are kicking in as we develop into our teenage years. I really wanted to see this movie because Christopher Atkins was nearly naked in the preview and I really wanted to be allowed at the time (in a fairly innocent way) to admire his body. Being the movie was “R” rated I needed an adult to take me and I got my wish. Imagine my surprise (and to be frankly honest) delight that he went full frontal in the movie and I got to see his privates. I think he was my first big celebrity crush. The movie was a beautiful love story and is still a great movie today. Seeing Chris Atkins full frontal now is not very exciting now like it was when I was 13. Sometimes becoming a grown up sucks…lol.   “Bug” (1975) This creepy little gem was the last film by...

Stop Buying Time and Start Experiencing It Instead

Stop Buying Time and Start Experiencing It Instead

Apr 17, 2015

I realized yesterday that I have been trying to buy time. Not against impending death or doom, but every minute of every day I am thinking of how I will be ‘spending’ my time, ‘filling’ my time, or working against it. This noticing came to me in the context of thinking about money, and how it has often seemed, to me, like a trade off between the two: if I want time, I have to give up money, or if I want money, I have to give up time. It occurred, then, to me, that perhaps there was another option. To let time move on of its own accord. To let the cup runneth-ing over with space, generate abundance of its own accord. In the work I’ve been creating for the past few years, I teach people how to listen to and learn from their bodies, emotions, thoughts, intuition, and from the things that are happening in their lives, both internally and externally. I’ve gotten pretty good at practicing this myself, except for this one, rather glaring oversight: I haven’t been listening to time. I’ve been trying to control, shape and berate it into doing my will. Or I’ve been ignoring it, or anxiously trying to, while in wait of shift or change or inspiration. But I definitely haven’t been listening. I’m a big fan of imagined outcomes and fantasy future, but when it comes to bringing dreams into reality, some actual action has to take place. We can “practice” being in action by doing physical activity, setting schedules or following routines, or taking something metaphysical (like an idea) and making it physical, by writing, building, cooking, or other ‘creating’ activity. Time itself involves flow, and perception, both things that are also involved in the creative process. My next step with my big ‘a ha’ idea about time is to explore a greater connection to my own internal sense of time, and my internal sense of readiness and action, rather than orienting solely to the external clock. I’ve been doing this for years, by following my energy, and following my thoughts and emotions, but I have yet to follow my rhythm. I’m going to...

Clever Keepsake Crafts for People Who Don’t Have Time

Clever Keepsake Crafts for People Who Don’t Have Time

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 collection of those items. For one of these crafts, a mother collects tidbits from her son’s pockets over the years. If you are emptying pockets for the wash anyway, why not stuff the contents into a jar? Easy. Low effort. Great future impact. My absolute favorite idea, one I started for my girls, is to make them an e-mail account. For better or worse, I have my phone in hand all the time. Any time something adorable happens, I have a thought I’d like to share, or I snap a picture of their accomplishment, I send it right to them. When they turn 18, I plan on giving them the password to the account. Of course, I can always curate posts I send (or others send) before that birthday. Naturally, I sent a bunch of emails when I first opened the accounts. Since then, I e-mail when I think of it or something big happens. Still, by the time they hit 18, they will have a nice collection of thoughts, observations, and pictures. I even send them the answers to their birthday questions. This digital...

Movies that are so bad they’re awesome!

Movies that are so bad they’re awesome!

Apr 14, 2015

Someone on Facebook yesterday put up a post asking everyone to list their favorite bad movie and that got me thinking: Ever sit down to watch a movie and it was so bad that it was great? I love a good/bad movie. These movies become our guilty pleasures and we might even be a little embarrassed if someone found out that we liked one of them. I actually don’t hide it. I love bad films along with the good. It is one of my joys in life to share these movies with others and hope they see the charm in them that I do.  These are the movies that filmmakers were very serious about when they made them and somehow they ended up campy, over the top and at times the acting in them was less than stellar. I have selected 4 of these films for my column this week. Although the movies might only win the Razzie Awards they do have one thing in common: Kick ass women characters that I cherish watching. Now grab some popcorn and a soda and sit back and relax, this is going to be bad….really bad, and you’re going to love it. This is Movie Bad Girl of the Week: The Great Ladies of Bad Cinema Edition.  First up is one of my favorite bad sci-fi films. Shot in 1959 on a shoe string budget and not released until 1962 I gladly give you: Virginia Leith as Jan Compton in “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” Dr. Bill Cortner (Herb Evers) is a brilliant surgeon although his methods are a bit unorthodox. He has been experimenting with keeping human tissue alive for transplants. He is determined to make a name for himself. He has been working by trial and error and midway through the film we will meet one of his mistakes. On a night like any other Bill and his fiancee’ Jan are out on a drive when they have a terrible accident and poor Jan is decapitated. Bill who has been working with keeping human tissue alive collects her head and using all his skill manages to revive it. Now Jan’s head sits in a tray in...

“My Role Models Growing Up” or “A Look at Some Retro Bad Girls”

“My Role Models Growing Up” or “A Look at Some Retro Bad Girls”

Apr 7, 2015

When we are growing up we watch television, movies and sports. As children we sometimes like what we see in a person and want to grow up to be just like them. It was no different in my day except we only had about 5 channels to choose from. We did not have cable or movies at our fingertips (there weren’t even VCR’s when most of these programs originally aired) but we had our heroes and we wanted to be like them. Who did you want to be when you grew up? We all had someone that we wanted to be just like. For people my age this will be a pleasant walk down memory lane. For my younger readers, you may not even be aware of who some of these ladies are. You would probably find the shows lame by today’s standards. I assure you, in my day, these ladies kicked ass! This is Movie Bad Girl of the Week: Television Edition: Retro Ladies Who Were Beautiful and Tough First up on our Retro Bad Girl Countdown: Sgt. “Pepper” Anderson  “Police Woman” (1974-1978) Once upon a time the only women you saw on TV were mothers, wives, maids, secretaries,school teachers and maybe waitresses. “Police Woman” was groundbreaking television because the lead was a cop. She was beautiful and she was tough. This was practically unheard of. A strong woman and the show was about her. This gave little girls dreams that they didn’t just have to stand in a kitchen and bake cakes and I am sure more than one boy’s heart fluttered at this sexy lady. Pepper had an exciting career. She was a member of the L.A.P.D., C.C.U division. (Criminal Conspiracy Unit). She was part of an undercover team and many times went undercover in dangerous situations as a hooker, prison inmate or nurse just to name a few. They investigated all kinds of crimes from murder, to theft and blackmail to rape and drugs. The guest stars on the show were also top caliber including Sandra Dee, Patty Duke, William Shatner and Ruby Dee just to name a few. There was even a doll produced where young girls could create their own...

“May I interest anyone in coffee or dessert or manners?”

“May I interest anyone in coffee or dessert or manners?”

Apr 6, 2015

Here is my next column on things that get under my skin. I thought of this one yesterday when my husband and I were out for lunch and the woman behind me was being incredibly rude to the restaurant staff. I am serious about everything I am saying in this column and hope it has enough humor in it to make you smile. Alexandra xoxo Over the years I have worked as a server more than once. Sometimes the job can be fun and exciting while at other times it can seem completely thankless. Serving in a restaurant can be exciting and fast paced yet it can also be stressful and emotionally taxing. I am writing this column on behalf of everyone who waits tables to earn an income. It is a list of simple things that you (the diner) should be aware of. It is called common courtesy. There are certain things you should never do while in a restaurant and please take this to heart: I am not pointing fingers. Some of you may do some of these things and not even realize that you are doing it and that is okay. Learn and move forward. If you follow my little list of tips you will make your server happy and make your overall dining experience a much more satisfying one.   A Guide to Good Manners When Dining Out 1. Choosing where to dine When choosing an eatery in which to dine there is one question you should ask yourself. Do I have time for a sit down meal or should I grab something quick at fast food restaurant? There are so many things to factor in here: a. what day of the week is it? I know that may sound funny but restaurants tend to be busier on certain nights of the week. Think of the business on Friday and Saturday night vs. Monday night. On Wednesday do they get large groups after bible studies? Do they have kids night on Tuesday? Is it a sport themed establishment that will have the big game on 5 televisions? All theses things can determine how long service will take. b. what time of...

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