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

10 Ways to Hit the ‘Reset’ Button

I don’t know about you, but I have, more than once in my life, wished there were a big ‘reset’ button sitting around that I could smack. Really smack it. Reset my day, my month….. I’m usually, if I really think about it, looking to reset my attitude. Today’s post is short and sweet. Here are 10 ways I’ve found to reset my “Blargh!!!!” and start anew: Go outside. In nature. Look at it and smell it. If you don’t have nature, imagine it or stick your face in a hedge, for real. Drink a glass of cold water, slowly. With your eyes closed. Nap. Pay attention to your breath for five minutes. Again, eyes closed. While we’re at it, close your eyes (eyes closed helps you to turn your attention inward and filter out the fray). Laugh. Make a friend date, or a self date, to do something fun. Notice if you are feeling overwhelmed or stuck, perhaps you have forgotten to do something, like eat. So eat, and make it healthy, with great texture. And don’t do other things while you are eating. Pick something you really want to do from your bucket list, and engage with it, by surfing the web, writing about it, or finding a photo and daydreaming. Here, you are reorienting to your ‘why’ and to your dreams. Take a day off; Take a vacation; Quit your job; Find a new one; Make. A. Change. The urge for a reset, or a time out, is usually an indication that what is happening in and around you is not in alignment with your truth, preference or authenticity. It’s a call to look, and can also be a call for change. Next time this happens to you, instead of plowing on through, take a moment to stop, look, and take action on your own behalf. This message brought to you by the committee for finding more fun and less sludge in life. No suggestion in this article is to be put into practice without a healthy dose of common sense, or is a replacement for medical advice or psychological counseling. About the author: Jen Kahn MS, RYT works with clients using...

Mind-Blowing Talent: A list of underrated actresses.

Mind-Blowing Talent: A list of underrated actresses.

Mar 31, 2015

We watch movies and television for enjoyment, education and entertainment. We get lost in the worlds that we see on the screen. It is up to the actors to breathe life into the characters we are going on the journey with. You know the stars’ names, for example: Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson, Julianne Moore and Sandra Bullock just to name a few. When you watch these movies there are always supporting characters (and sometimes a lead that is not well known) played by very talented women. Certain ones you may know the names of, others you may recognize as that woman from (insert title here). This column is about that breed of  lady. Actresses that are at the top of their game although you may only recognize them by sight. You may not know their names but you should. This is a small list of some of the best actresses in Hollywood in my opinion and they take us on wonderful adventures. This is Movie Bad Girl of the Week: Underrated Actress Edition!  Missi Pyle is probably one of the busiest women in Hollywood today. You’ve seen her in dozens of films and/or TV shows. She is well versed in acting and can tackle dramatic or comedy roles and I must admit her comedic timing is impeccable. You may not have been familiar with her name although this tall and beautiful woman is one you recognize on sight. Her first appearance was in 1996 in a film titled “The Cottonwood” and she hasn’t stopped acting since.  If you want to become familiar with Missi and some of the incredible characters she has played here are a few selections out of her filmography: Television: Mad About You: 2 episodes:The Final Frontier Part 1 (1999) The Final Frontier Part 2 (1999) The Drew Carey Show: 1 episode: Drew’s Reunion (1999) My Name is Earl: 1 episode: Broke Joy’s Fancy Figurine (2005) Heroes: 2 episodes: Chapter Fifteen ‘Run!’ (2007) Chapter Sixteen ‘Unexpected’ (2007) Movies: “Galaxy Quest” (1999) Laliari “Josie and the Pussycats” (2001) Alexandra Cabot “Bringing Down the House” (2003) Ashley “50 First Dates” (2004) Noreen “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005) Mrs. Beauregarde “Gone Girl” (2014) Ellen Abbott Here...

True Confessions from Twelve Years of Marriage

True Confessions from Twelve Years of Marriage

Mar 30, 2015

Today marks twelve years in my marriage. If practicing something for 10,000 hours makes you an expert at something, I guess that makes me an expert at marriage. Well, it makes me an expert at my marriage at least. After twelve years, however, I am still practicing. And in this practice, I have discovered a few key elements and beliefs that have led to a place of contentment and satisfaction after twelve years. The following confessions are lovingly whispered to any and all people who have chosen a partner to love inside a marriage. Certainly much of this applies to all long-term relationships, but there is something special about taking legal action to bind yourself to another–a right all people deserve.   Confession One: Marriage consists of two living beings. A marriage is alive. As with all living things there is continuous growth. Think of two plants side by side. Neither one will grow in the same way or even in the same direction. Even if the two plants are the same type of plant, they will not look or behave the same way all the time. One may need more water for a time, one might need a different set of nourishment or to be turned a different direction. To think of marriage as a “thing,” as an inanimate state, is poison. That thinking prevents the possibility of movement that would allow each participant to grow in the healthiest way. Recognizing marriage as a living organism prevents resentment when one individual starts to grow in a new direction or requires different care. Confession Two: Support is more important than happiness. “Happiness” is a loaded notion. The very expectation of “happy” can ruin actual contentment. People feel like if their level of happiness isn’t dripping with honey, if they aren’t jumping out of their seats and dancing in the street, that they aren’t truly happy, or that something needs to be fixed. Happiness is also a very personal feeling. It is a mistake to think of a relationship as happy. Think about phrases you often hear: the happy couple, wedded bliss, happily married. People have asked me many times over the year, “Are you happy in your...

How Do You Find The Time?

How Do You Find The Time?

Mar 25, 2015

By Vee Pope “How do you find the time?” I’m trying to break up with how that question makes me feel. It has simultaneously irked me and made me feel productive. My over analytical mind asks if it’s a loaded or genuine question all the time. I never know but what I do know is that I can control how I react to it.   So, how do I find the time? I can say I simply make the time to do the things I want to do, or I can show you how I have tried to master the art of time management. One thing I want to make clear to those who are taking the time to read this: I currently have How I Met Your Mother playing, another “work” computer is running, and I just finished texting with both of my parents. Also, I did not sit down to write this in one sitting. Now, I recognize multi-tasking might not be effective for certain tasks. I’m not claiming to be perfect in this area of my life, but I can still provide tips on how you can better manage your time. Let’s just say I have spent a lot of time researching time. Okay–these tips can apply to anyone and I mean ANYONE! Time is not gender, age or race specific. It doesn’t matter if you are a mom, single, dad, married, teen or toddler (well, some of the tips may not apply to toddlers).  We can tackle these together! Find a hobby: No matter who you are or how your days and weeks are structured, you absolutely need to find a healthy outlet to build into your routine. Hobbies can contribute to eustress, which is a healthful dose of stress or quite literally speaking “good stress”. Eustress is that feeling of excitement about life. It keeps us revitalized and positive. So pick up that book or go on those walks and treat yo’ self to a HOBBY! Write everything down: My planner obsession is unhealthy. Trust me, I recognize that, but I have also met people who wished they had one. While whipping out my planner to schedule future appointments, people will comment on how they just...

Donna Reed would be horrified!

Donna Reed would be horrified!

Mar 24, 2015

We watch television pretty much everyday of our lives where we can be entertained, educated and informed. Some of you may even watch the racy channels to spice up your life a bit. When we love a show we invest in the characters and want to watch their exploits, adventures and dramas on a weekly basis. Watch a show enough and you actually feel like you know the characters and it is like visiting with cherished friends. The family dynamic is always a great subject for a show. This week we are visiting with some TV moms. Who do you think of when I say TV mom? Carol Brady? June Cleaver? Florida Evans?                   We think of these wonderful and delightfully loving mothers when we hear the term TV mom and the list goes on and on. This week we are pushing these ladies aside and doing a count-down on terrible TV moms. Don’t get me wrong. Each character I have selected does love her family (even if it is in her own strange way) but her parenting skills leave much to be desired. This is Movie Bad Girl of the Week: Television Edition: Terrible TV Mom Awards. So without further hesitation we begin and I am saving who I believe is the worst mom in television history for last. This is going to be fun!   The Award for the mom who needs a lesson in not spoiling her kids and learning how to be a decent human being goes to:  Harriet Oleson: “Little House on the Prairie” Katherine MacGregor is so deliciously bitchy as Harriet Oleson. She is the wealthiest woman in town and has decided that because of this she is better than everyone and treats them as such. Harriet care about one thing…Harriet.  She is also the town gossip loving nothing more than sticking her nose into other people’s business and spreading rumors. She wears the pants in the family and why her husband (it must be love) puts up with it is beyond me. The problem is she spoils her kids and teaches them to be snobs and they walk around treating...

Dear Cell Phone User,

Dear Cell Phone User,

Mar 23, 2015

Over my next few Monday-Funday columns, I will write about things that get under my skin and bug me. I am serious about the things I am saying and hope I have said it with enough humor to make you smile.  Alexandra xoxo We live life day by day, doing our jobs, taking care of our families, doing our weekly (and sometimes) daily chores. Life at times can be very stressful. There are so many things that can distract us from our daily routine. I am feeling like Michael Douglas in “Falling Down”. I doubt very much that I will go and shoot up a fast food restaurant like he did in the film. Instead I am going to use words. There are some distractions in this world that we could do without and I am calling people out on it. Dear Cell Phone User, There is a time and a place to use your cell phone whether it be for a call or a text message. There are many places where it is not okay. I did not pay $12.00 to go to a movie and have you sit one row behind me and take a call. I understand that sometimes those calls can be important, however, set the phone to vibrate. If it does vibrate please leave the theater to take your call. This is called good manners and quite frankly I don’t give a shit if your kids are fighting over the last Twinkie. If I was the babysitter I’d eat the Twinkie and then the fight would be over. When I am behind you in the drive-through at Burger King (or any other fast food restaurant) do not hold up the worker trying to take your order because you are on your phone. You can stop talking to the caller for 30 seconds and order your Whopper and fries. Have it your way, but for the love of Pete get off the phone to do it. You are being rude to the worker, me and everyone behind me. If your best friend just called to tell you she is pregnant guess what? She will still be pregnant 45 seconds from now!...

Where Does Balance Begin?

Where Does Balance Begin?

Mar 19, 2015

A couple of months ago I posted about finding balance, and how I like the “surfing” concept of balance more than the “scales of judgment” idea. To share an inside peek into the life of Jen, I’ve been struggling with balance and time management recently in my life, and for a multitude of reasons it’s been hard to see a solution that I can really get behind. And then I saw a recent video from my friend Dr. Melissa West, founder of Namaste Yoga, about balance for beginners in yoga, and I had a real face palm moment (have you heard of “A ha!” moments? Mine are often more like “Oh, duh!” moments. For realsies). I view experience in this world in a very embodied way. Your body lives with you throughout your life, and parallels any experience you are having in your mind or emotions. Sad? Your body is too. In love? Bet you’ve got some butterflies! Your body can have a lot to say about your life situations. Likewise, things that happen to your body (like an injury, illness, or super awesome massage) can impact your thoughts and emotions as well, but that’s a post for another day. So when I’m stuck, it has never failed me, to start my exploration with body connection and exploring the topic from a physical standpoint. Are you struggling with balancing work, home, fun and relationships? Then try exploring the physical aspect of balance, and take it ‘to the mat’. This particular video offering is yoga, but it doesn’t have to be…you could ‘take it to the surfboard’ or the balance beam, or simply to standing up in your living room and shifting from one foot to the other and seeing what it takes to find ‘balance’, and paying attention to what all is happening while you’re doing all that. You can check out the (free) video here.               In the introduction page to Melissa’s video, she talks about the components of finding balance: observing, interpreting, and responding to stimuli. The same pieces apply to finding balance in life. How do you observe what’s happening around you, particularly the things in life...

Branding Tips For The Small Business Owner

Branding Tips For The Small Business Owner

Mar 18, 2015

Small businesses often overlook their branding efforts because of the perceived cost of having a cohesive look. In reality, it’s a small investment with high return potential. Branding is the first thing a customer sees and also the last thing a customer feels. My best tips to help you strengthen your brand: 1. Describe Your Brand’s Personality – What does your brand look, taste, smell and feel like? Are your current efforts evoking this personality? Every company should have a personified brand and those characteristics should come out in everything you do. 2. Fix Your Font – If your company is modern, new, fresh and clean DON’T pair it with Times New Roman. And please don’t ever use Comic Sans, Curlz, Brush Script or Papyrus. That’s a big WTF (Why The Font) in my book. Once you’ve described your brand’s personality, pair it with fonts, colors and verbiage that convey. 3. Be More Than The Business Suite – A cohesive business suite of collateral is standard. Well-branded companies look the same over e-mails, invoices, thank you cards and social media. Here are a few great resources for inexpensive logo’ed products: Pakible – Online packaging products with a variety of colors and sizes to pair your logo with. Take advantage of the current 10 for $10 special. Sticker Mule – Another low minimum (50) online print shop with a fast turnaround. Choose your final sticker size based on multiple uses.  Campaign Monitor – User friendly e-newsletter templates that you don’t have to know code to customize. The best thing about Campaign Monitor is the option to test out one campaign without the commitment of a long term contract. Canva – This free, online photo-editing site offers small business owners a place to edit their branding with built in dimensions. Templates from facebook ads to pinterest posts are readymade with no pixel x pixel guesswork. 4. Establish Your Standards – Once you’ve settled on your branding, set the standards. At minimum, your business should have a guideline of colors, fonts and logo to adhere to.  A simple brand standards guideline would look something like this example from University of Connecticut: http://brand.uconn.edu/sites/default/files/BrandStandards_Guide0913.pdf. Don’t let the entire document deter...

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