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Deborah Cruz

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Ever wonder why some people can accomplish so much in just a day and you can’t seem to? Or maybe you’ve got a super-efficient friend that takes out a to-do list like a boss. No matter what the case, you too can be more productive with just a few new habits. It’s easy to change with a few new habits of highly productive people

Still wondering how they do it? Are they superhuman? No. Are they organized? Yes. 

Everyone I know is looking to be more productive. In their work, their home life, with their hobbies and in general. I thought for sure when the pandemic quarantine happened I would get so much done but I didn’t. In reality, I got exhausted just from the anxiety and worries about everything that could have happened. My daily productivity slowed to a halt.

Making lists and promises to yourself isn’t actually going to make us any more productive, if it did everything on our to-do lists would be done. Instead, you need to take action. 

Build systems that enable you to work smarter, not harder.

Here are some easy to follow habits of highly productive people.

The Don’t- do list

Adding too much to your to-do list is asking for trouble. To be productive, you should do what is required of you without overloading yourself. Shorter to-do lists are not only beneficial in terms of getting everything done, but they have a bigger mental benefit. 

When you check something off your to-do list, you get a boost of achievement and happiness. 

The more you tick off the list, the most you want to do. 

Focus on you

Tired people who aren’t feeling great will need to make some changes. Taking care of themselves first thing in the morning is essential. 

If you wake up, check your email, and get a sense of dread, you are starting off on the wrong foot. 

Instead, when you wake up, focus on just waking up in the best way possible. 

A good breakfast – either healthy or something you enjoy – preferably both. Take time to read the news or a newspaper. Perhaps you can listen to it on the radio. It’s about what makes you feel good. 

Giving yourself time to wake up without worrying about everything you have to do, gives you a bit of peace. 

Take breaks

Tired people cannot produce the same amount of high-quality work as people who are refreshed and energized. 

Taking regular breaks in your working day is essential to give yourself time to think and concentrate on something else for a while. 

Going for a walk, stretching, having some lunch, and of course, drinking some water will make all the difference. 

For every 20-30 minutes you work, step away for between 3-5 minutes, and every 1-2 hours, have a more extended break of about 20 minutes. 

This is the Pomodoro method, and you can have a timer that can help you stay on track. The Pomodoro method is perfect for keeping you focused for short periods. 

Since we respond to deadlines, it enables us to work faster and more efficiently. 

Sometimes what we really need is a hard reset. Read more: 5 Tips for a self-reset break to make your life easier. 

Eat the frog

Whatever the task is that you don’t want to do – do that first. The tasks that we put off can often hold us back. We keep thinking about them until we manage to get them done. 

The most challenging work can feel much more overwhelming than it is; once it is done, you might wonder why you hadn’t done it before. 

When you complete this task, you are free to move on to more enjoyable work. 

It is typically the type of job that leads us to avoid doing anything by procrastinating. If that sounds like you then, you need to read more into learning how to stop procrastinating

Say No

The key to getting everything you need to get done, done? Not accepting things that get in the way of you completing it. If you have friends and family or co-workers that ask more from you than you have the time or energy for, then say no. 

While helping others makes us feel great, we need to learn that sometimes we should come first.  Saying no to things that require too much of us is entirely okay. So say no more often. 

Multi-tasking

Trying to do five things at once means you are trying to stretch your mental and other capacities to their limit. 

Focusing on one task at a time is the only way to complete tasks to the best of your ability. 

When we switch between tasks, we can lose up to 23 minutes of focused work time. That can have a significant impact on how much we can get done. 

A significant impact on productivity. 

Getting your best work done is about organizing what you need to get done in the most benefits you. 

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An Open Letter to Men from Women on Misogyny, Abortion, Sex and Equality

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

As a feminist mom of teenage girls, this is the post that lives in my mind at all times. As a daughter and granddaughter of a mother and grandmother who have always been marginalized by what lies between her legs, I am offended.  As a woman who has been judged, juried and punished for being feminine and curvy, I am livid. As a woman who has been sexually harassed and abused by men and afraid for as long as I can remember, I am done. As a woman who thinks and feels and sees and exists, I am outraged. This is my open letter to men on misogyny, abortion, sex and equality

For as long as I can remember, I have walked through the world feeling in danger. In danger of being touched, groped, raped and even assaulted by men. Worse still, I have learned to survive. To make myself small and quiet when I needed to which if you know me, you know is not me. I am not alone.

When strange men on trains, on planes, in clubs, at school, at church, online, at frat parties, walking home from school, playing at a friend’s house, while shopping, while eating, while working, breastfeeding, playing at the park with my children, while living my life and even while sleeping have forced their crude remarks, wandering hands and themselves upon me, I had to learn to escape with the least amount of damage; not unscathed because, as any woman knows, that is impossible. So I made a decision, a long time ago, I refused to raise my daughters to make themselves small and I myself will never again make myself small…because they (my daughters) are watching.

Misogyny

I refuse to raise my daughters to hunch their shoulders, hide their bodies in baggy clothes, feel shame for being attractive or saying no. Not today misogyny. I would not raise them to consider anyone other than themselves when getting dressed. No one else’s opinion on what they wear, their size, shape, hair color, makeup or sexual prowess is any of their business. I taught my girls that they are equal to men and, let’s be honest, in some ways, they’re better. Most importantly, I raised them to respect themselves and their own thoughts and opinions over anyone else’s. That being said, they were taught that everyone else is entitled to their opinions about life but those opinions have no effect on our lives.

My girls know what consent is. I taught them to say no loudly and habitually when they want to. Their body is their body, not mine, not yours and not some random dude who can’t keep his toxic masculinity and hormones in check, not even their husband or boyfriend. Believe me, toxic masculinity comes in more forms than just a rapist in a dark alley or skeevey dudes at the clubs, these men can also be your boss, your priest, your friend, the old man down the road, the boy next door and the guy who’s supposed to protect and serve your community.

I’ve fought the school on dress codes and refuse to have my daughters wear baggy clothes just because it’s too distracting to the boys. Why aren’t clothes that fit enough? Sorry, breasts and butts happen. We all have them.

I’ve fought public opinion on my daughters wearing bikinis when they were toddlers because someone had the audacity to say I was sexualizing my toddlers. No, you pervert are the one sexualizing a child. That’s a “you” problem. I was simply buying a suit that was comfortable for my tall child. Covering her belly button is not more important than preventing discomfort or causing infections. As teenagers, I stand by that statement. What women are wearing is not a concern for men. If it offends you or overstimulates you, overt your fucking eyes. Stop policing us. We don’t police you. Stay in your lane.

Sex

I’ve taught my daughters that sex is beautiful when they are mature enough to handle all that comes with it. We’ve talked about sex since they started asking. It’s not dirty or bad. They are not naughty for being curious. I don’t preach abstinence. I talk about respecting their bodies, themselves, their partners and waiting until they are ready.

I tell them that sex does not equal love. Sex is sex and someone can love having sex with you and not love you at all. I’ve taught them about birth control and responsibility, taking it themselves and demanding it of their partners. Sex with someone you love is beautiful and sex with yourself is cathartic. We don’t slut-shame so I’ve even taught them that we don’t judge and criticize other people’s sexual choices.

Abortion

I am pro-choice and I’ve raised my girls to know why. It’s not that I am pro-abortion or that I’ve had or would’ve ever chosen to have one. It is that I respect women and their lives and it is every single human being’s right to be in control of what happens to their own body. You can argue that you are pro-life because you believe every single life is precious but if that’s your reasoning, what about the life of the girl or woman who finds herself pregnant (for whatever reason, the reason is irrelevant…women should not have to qualify the choices they make for their own bodies to anyone else, especially men) and is not capable of raising it, taking care of it, wanting or loving and providing for it in the way that she wants at that time?

If you are pro-life only for an unborn fetus, then you are not concerned with life (because you have disregarded the woman’s) you are concerned with moral superiority and inflicting your beliefs on others. It’s a power struggle not a pro-life issue. If abortion morally offends you, simply do not have an abortion. Period. While we’re on the subject, can all the politicians please GTFO of our uteruses?

Whatever your belief is, the consequences rest with the woman having the abortion and it’s between her and her God. She will have to live with that choice forever. There is no way around that. If you think the decision to have an abortion is one a woman takes lightly, you’ve never actually asked a woman who has to make that choice. Her decision has no immediate or direct effect on your life. It’s not your business to decide and making abortion illegal will not stop abortions, it will only stop safe abortions which means they will put women’s lives and their future reproductive health in jeopardy.

Equality

My girls are free to make their own choice on which side they choose to support because I respect them, their intelligence and their right to choose. If my daughters ever find themselves unexpectedly pregnant, I will do what any parent should do, I will counsel, love and support them in whatever decision they make for themselves. But at the same time, it’s my responsibility, as a parent, to teach them about respecting their bodies, loving themselves, pregnancy prevention, sexual safety and knowing the difference between love and sex.

Don’t misunderstand, I am not promoting teen sex, promiscuity, unplanned pregnancy or abortion. I am simply saying that these things happen and, in case no one was paying attention, it takes a man and a woman to get pregnant but only the girl or woman is left with the immediate responsibility of raising, caring for and providing for the child because we are the ones who carry it. Men can walk away and pretend it didn’t happen and some do. Men are not the ones paying for the consequences of one night for the rest of their lives, women are.

So until men can be held equally accountable for women’s reproduction, they should have no say in what we do, how we behave or what we choose to do or not do with our own bodies. Women are not property, nor inanimate objects, we are not born to provide care and pleasure for men…we are simply born to live and pursue our own happiness, just like every man.

It’s enraging enough that we are not given equal pay, equal voice or equal respect or rights as human beings. The world teaches little girls that doing anything like a girl is bad, weak and less than. It teaches girls to be quiet, be amiable, smile more and accept the places they’ve given us. Little girls need to be encouraged and empowered to use their voices, stand up and be everything they dream of being without the worry of being oppressed and reduced to their sexuality. Our girls are more. We are more.

This is not about me bashing men. This is me protecting and standing up for my daughters and every other child. These things I am teaching my daughters; need to be taught to our sons as well. Things will never change until we all work together to change the way things are; we have to stop accepting misogyny (in all its forms) as just the way it is. I don’t want my girls to feel scared and afraid of men and boys and I don’t think your boys want my girls to feel that way either. It starts now by refusing to let one more girl make herself feel small and quiet just to feel safe living with girl parts in the world.

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Linville Falls Campground, North Carolina, GoRVing

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Last month, the Big Guy, Bella and I headed south for a fresh-air filled, unplugged, be present getaway and we got just that. Gabs didn’t come with on this trip because, well, in honesty, it’s been a long 17 months. The rest of us packed a bag, jumped in the jeep and headed off to picturesque Linville Falls, North Carolina to make some memories.

Disclosure: We were hosted by Marla and Kenny at Linville Falls Campground in partnership with GoRVing but all opinions about our experience are mine.

The Linville Falls Campground is located in Western North Carolina, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, centrally located to some of the best Appalachian hiking and biking trails that you could ever want to try. This privately owned campground has full hook-up sites, water/electric sites and a secluded, primitive tent area. 

It’s about an hours drive from Asheville, NC and about 30 minutes from Boone and Bowling Rock, NC. There are so many options for things to do in the area and all set to the beautiful backdrop of the majestic Smokey Mountains. Located minutes just away from the area’s most spectacular attractions, including Linville Falls & Gorge, Wiseman’s View, Grandfather Mountain, Linville Caverns and Gem Mountain. 

Linville Falls Campground, North Carolina, GoRVing

The campground itself is made up of tent space, RV space and cabin rentals. There is truly something for everything; from beginner to avid camping fan. We were provided a cabin, #11, Black Bear to be exact. It is a cozy little cabin located at the back of the property. It was quaint and provided the perfect opportunity for my very much plugged-in family to unplug and unwind without our phones blowing up with all the obligations we left behind at home.

Linville Falls Campground, North Carolina, GoRVing

There is cell service but, Wi-Fi is scarce and honestly, isn’t that part of the charm of camping? You’re not supposed to be doing work in the wilderness, you’re supposed to unplug, look up, listen to the birds singing, smell the flowers blooming and hear what the people you love have to say. That’s exactly what we did.

Linville Falls Campground, North Carolina, GoRVing

The cabin was a two-room, rustic cabin with a fully furnished kitchen including a full-size refrigerator, stove, microwave, a quaint front porch, huge deck with stairs leading down into the woods where a fire pit awaits; perfect for nighttime stargazing and sitting around the fire laughing and making memories. It had one bedroom with a full-sized bed and a pull-out sofa couch with the potential to sleep 4. The cabin was cozy and falling asleep listening to the crickets, cicadas and bullfrogs at night was absolutely magical.

Linville Falls Campground, North Carolina, GoRVing

Cabin 11 can sleep 4 but, personally, I think it is the perfect weekend getaway for couples. It’s just enough space to have all the together time your heart desires with that special someone. In fact, I’d say it is the perfect place for a secluded, serene romance with a side of nature. I joked with the Big Guy that it’s the ideal conditions for expanding a family or just reconnecting on a deeper level, not just couples but families in general.  One of our favorite parts about staying in a cabin is that we get to connect without all the disruptions and distractions of our normal day-to-day and that was absolutely true of our trip to Linville Falls Campground.

Linville Falls Campground, North Carolina, GoRVing

According to Go RVing, Park Model RVs (sometimes referred to as deluxe cabins or cottages) are unique units that provide temporary accommodations for recreation, camping or seasonal use. Park Model RVs are designed to look like a home, but they need to be hooked up to site electricity, sewer and water like an RV. They may have a front porch, a sleeping loft and are a great way to experience the campground lifestyle if you don’t have an RV or all the gear that goes with tent camping.

We spent our days on long hikes with breathtaking views and our nights collapsing from exhaustion and laughter after a day well spent together in nature. No service and no distractions meant 100% quality time and that is more precious to us now than ever with the girls getting older. I say it every time we go camping, and I’m saying it again now because it is so true, take your family camping whether its in a tent, a cabin or an RV, you won’t regret it and it is, by far, the most meaningful family vacation you will ever take and those memories will last a lifetime.

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Are CoVid Vaccinations Putting Us All at Higher Risk due to False Security

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Today, my girls return to in-person school during a pandemic, after a 10-day quarantine. Three days is how many days my girls were back in school before they were quarantined for 10 days. Yes, you heard me correctly, my daughters who are fully vaccinated were both directly exposed to someone who tested positive for coronavirus at school where masks are not mandated but encouraged. No, my daughters were not wearing masks because my daughters are vaccinated that was definitely my poor judgment. But breakthrough CoVid infections are real and dangerous. Did I mention that masks are not required and mode 3 virtual is not even an option at my daughters’ school this year? It’s not. Leaving me to wonder are CoVid vaccinations putting us all at higher risk due to a false sense of security?

Why my girls were quarantined

Both girls were exhibiting potential Coronavirus symptoms that were on the “must quarantine until they get a negative CoVid test result” or as I like to call it, the “CoVid No Fly” list. We got the test results back and both were negative but because they had been directly exposed and had been sick, even with the vaccination and negative test results due to the possibility of a false-negative test they have to quarantine for the entire 10 days. While I am thrilled that the school is doing their due diligence and my girls are negative (yay science), I am pissed off that there are so many parents who refuse to get their kids vaccinated and still send their kids to school sick, unvaccinated and refusing to wear the masks the school has asked unvaccinated students to wear. Their recklessness has caused a large number of quarantines within the first few days of school being back in session and it’s only going to get worse.

Here are the most recent CDC guidelines for back to school.

I got the vaccine. My girls and the Big Guy, we were first in line after a year+ of being societally obligated to be imprisoned in our own house due to a pandemic and some fun underlying conditions that made the world a virtual minefield of danger zones for our health. We masked up when so many others in our area were not. We were genuinely afraid of contracting and dying from a gnarly case of coronavirus. We did everything we were supposed to (and more) watching in horror as friends and family contracted and died from the virus. When school was scheduled to start back on August 11th, we were nervous but excited. We knew we had to be diligent but felt safe returning to school during what we believed were the end stages of the coronavirus pandemic. We were absolutely wrong in our false sense of security and believing that others did their part.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist or particularly scared of anything in the world. I wasn’t raised on fear. I’m a Gen Xer who has had her fair share of cooties. I kissed a lot of frogs in my lifetime, observed the 5-second rule and regularly used other people’s toothbrushes in a pinch during my college years. However, I do believe in science and my IQ is a little higher than the average bear.  The biggest thing is that I can read, have intelligence and believe that a brand new respiratory virus is going to be contagious. My doctor also believes that the horrible “virus” I contracted in early February of 2020 left me nearly for dead, so much so that I literally gave my notice at work, complete with loss of taste, smell and even CoVid toes before it was even a thing, in fact, early days rona. Did I mention that I lost three family members to coronavirus? I did. It has been an epically shitastic year and to make it all worse, I am surrounded by idiots.

Yep, I said it. You can’t wish away rona any more than you can cancer. It’s here, whether you want to believe in it or not and guess what? It is coming for you. The only unknown variable is will you be an asymptomatic carrier who spreads and kills others, maybe you’ll get long-haul symptoms (it’s possible even when asymptomatic) like strokes, heart attacks, asthma or brain damage afterward. Maybe you get a mild case and survive or maybe you catch it and suddenly find yourself dead. I’m sure your family will love the fact that they lost their mom, dad, sister, brother, son or daughter because you decided your right to be a selfish asshole was more important than wearing a paper mask in public and staying the eff out of other people’s personal space for the greater good.

Anyways, I got my vaccination and so did my immediate family. We did everything we could to be part of the solution instead of the problem. We don’t want to be responsible for killing others. We’d rather gamble on science. For a couple of months, we felt safe. Slowly, we ventured back out into the world amongst other people. We thought everyone was doing their part. We were dead wrong.

Are CoVid vaccinations putting us all at higher risk due to a false sense of security?

It was exhausting because in the last 17 months peopling has become terrifying; every single person we encounter is a potential assassin and we really like living. School started back for our girls. They are in person for the first time since March 2020. My girls celebrated 2 milestone birthdays confined to the house like criminals on house arrest; we all did. We chose to do the right thing and still, here we are in the middle of yet another surge because other people still chose to believe conspiracy theories over science. These are obviously the same think tanks who refuse to believe that dinosaurs existed, the Holocaust happened or anyone ever set foot on the moon. Yep, the same geniuses who think the world is flat. If this part is offending you, you should stop reading because I don’t think we could have an actual intelligent conversation together in person so let’s stop wasting each other’s time.

My whole point is so many of us did the right thing and the rest of you are messing this up. It’s bad enough that you’ve destroyed the climate now, you’re openly chastising those of us trying to save the world. This group project sucks and I am so tired of being the one who’s doing all the work. Do your part. I’m so mad at myself for letting my guard down.I think in some small part having the CoVid vaccination is putting us all at higher risk due to a false sense of security even though literally it is saving our lives.

Here I am somewhere between terrified of dying and so pissed off that I’m about to start throat punching random people who refuse to mask up. The trigger in my brain that felt safe for those couple of months, doesn’t want to believe that some of you don’t give any f*cks whether you kill my mom and dad or my elementary school-aged nieces and nephews but I’ve seen your posts and I know that you don’t care who you kill, as long as you can run around without wearing a mask. Mentally I am spent.

I’m tired so tired and I don’t want to play this game anymore. It’s 4 a.m. and I’m awake with a Freshman who has gotten no sleep because she is stressed out about returning to school tomorrow; afraid of coronavirus and the 11 tests and quizzes that she has to make up upon her return. The bottom line is, you’re an asshole if you’re not vaccinated. Adults you need to do your part; wear your masks at all times in public, wash your hands and social distance. You liars and rule-breakers are the reason we can’t have nice things (like safely being able to exist in the world and do things like going to school and getting groceries) and the reason we’re all going to end up back in lockdown and to you, I say, “EFF YOU.”

So if you’re refusing to do your part, remember that there are children who don’t have a choice but to put themselves in harm’s way physically and mentally because you can’t make good choices. Your choice to disregard science, ignore facts and not wear a mask or get vaccinated go way beyond you. This is not a personal choice that only affects you but every single person living in it. Your one moment of selfishness can mean death to others. The kids are not alright and as adults, it is our responsibility to keep them safe and sound. If you don’t care enough about yourself to do the right thing, what about the innocent kids who are suffering from the mental and physical stress of trying to live in a coronavirus world?

If you live in an area with no mask mandate in place in the schools, are you sending your kids back to school in person and if so what precautions will you take to keep your family safe?

Do you think CoVid vaccinations are putting us all at higher risk due to a false sense of security?

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Back to School Brain Food Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

School is back in session and it’s in person this year. Let’s be honest, it is exhausting peopling these days, even for kids (especially those old enough to know better). My girls are back in school after the longest 17 months in the history of their world; pandemic problems even in the first world suck. They come home hungry and in need of a pick-me-up. I want to give them comfort and listen over a healthy snack. One of my girls’ favorites is my back to school brain food homemade granola bar recipe.

I’ve been making this recipe for almost as long as my girls have been alive. They’ve requested it more times than I can count and I’m not mad at them about it. I love them too. This granola bar recipe is quick, easy and 100% customizable and goes great in breakfast parfaits too.

There is something reassuring and organic about making food with love for your children and knowing what’s in it, no preservatives.  In fact, I just made a big batch earlier this week for their first week back to school! It’s Gabi’s first week in high school so I needed to give her all the comfort I could.

I used to make this recipe with the girls and we’d have a blast making it together and enjoying it as a snack with a huge glass of organic milk (wouldn’t do the hormones for my girls..but that is an entirely different post about precocious puberty). These granola bars also make a super awesome topping on French Vanilla yogurt.

Back to School Brain Food Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cut shredded coconut
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or raisins or other dried fruit of your choice!

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

Back to School Brain Food Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

Line 9×13 pan with foil and spread mixture.

Granola Bars Goodness

Back to School Brain Food Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, let cool a bit and then cut into squares.

Back to School Brain Food Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

Wrap in cling wrap and eat within about a week. They are still good after a week, but dry out a bit and become crumbly.

The best part is that it’s so customizable to your family’s taste by simply switching the nuts, dried fruits or adding peanut butter ( or whatever chips you’d prefer) into these delicious granola bars. I promise your kids will be begging you to make this back-to-school brain food homemade granola bar recipe. Eat it alone, with milk, in a parfait or with some fruit as part of a bowl; perfect for breakfast, on the go or an after-school or late-night snack.

What is your favorite back to school brain food recipe?

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DIY Bedroom Storage Ideas for Your Home. DIY Bedroom Storage Ideas for Your college dorm, DIY Bedroom Storage Ideas for Your apartment

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Lacking storage space in a house or apartment is a common problem that many homeowners can relate to, especially at this time of year, as kids are packing up their entire lives and moving into college dorms and houses. In these instances, sometimes your bedroom is the only room that is actually yours. The space inside of a bedroom has its limitations, usually of the space variety.You need creative DIY bedroom storage ideas for your home, apartment and college dorm to maximize your spaces and make it your own. Our bedrooms are where we decompress. You want it to be functional and inviting at the same time. To do this, it helps to have some clever storage solutions.

Here is a compiled list of some of the best DIY bedroom storage ideas.

Install Shelves Along the Perimeter of Your Walls

When you have a small bedroom, like a dorm room, the easiest way to make it look bigger is by adding shelves along the perimeter of your walls. You can also go crazy and install a wardrobe for your bedroom. Not only will this give you more storage space and an uncluttered feeling in your room because there won’t be so much stuff on display, but they’ll also offer some privacy for when you’re changing clothes.

Use Crown Molding as a Shoe Rack

If you’ve got so many shoes (like me) and don’t have much bedroom space for storage, this is something worth considering. Turn your crown molding into an instant shoe rack! All it takes is some mounting hardware to attach the bracket at just the right height off the ground so that you neatly arrange your heels where they belong. Plus, because it’s hidden behind doors or curtains, what more could anyone ask?

Baskets 

A basket can be a great way to store things in your bedroom without an immediate home. For example, you might want to keep some lotion or sunscreen on the bedside table but not always within arm’s reach when getting out of bed. Instead of taking up space with multiple items on your nightstand, put them all into one container and place them on the side of the nightstand (in a drawer or under the bed) where they won’t move around too much.

Built-in Nooks

Built-in nooks are a great way to increase your bedroom storage space. If you have an unused closet or wall space that you can fill with shelves and cabinets, this option might work for you.

They take up floor space, but the payoff will be more than makeup for it. You won’t need to worry about getting out of bed whenever you want something from under the bed anymore because everything will be within arm’s reach on built-in shelving units. Plus, when guests come over, it’ll look so cozy with all those books lining your walls. So there’s no downside to taking advantage of available surfaces like these!

Shelf Dividers

To easily organize items on your shelves, it’s a good idea to have dividers. It makes seeing what is in each section much easier than just one big pile of stuff you can’t see through. Plus, they’re cheap compared to buying new shelves and nails for them. 

Use Your Radiator As Shoe Rack

If you live in a small space and don’t have much storage, use your radiator as a shoe rack. For example, you can buy a shoe holder that fits your radiator and then use it to store shoes.

The best part about using the radiator for storing shoes is that they’ll be off the ground and out of reach from pets or children who might accidentally get into them.

With these tips, you can have a cozy and neatly arranged room. Of course, some might work better than others, or perhaps a combination of these would be best. Whatever solution you find may require an investment in time and money, but it will pay off with the extra space that comes with it.

What’s your best DIY bedroom storage ideas for your home, apartment or college dorm?

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back to school, must have supplies for college

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Kids are getting ready to go back to school in person again soon. I don’t know about the rest of you but we are ecstatic. I loved the bonus pandemic year home with my girls (I truly did) but it was challenging and it was hard on everyone involved. The girls deserve a normal high school experience and I can’t wait to watch them have it together.

All that being said, last year was long and the kids got cheated and moms never got a day off, not even an hour in the day because thanks to pandemic hyper anxiety and depression, moms were on call ( if not actively tending to meltdowns) every minute of every day. Who am I telling? You know. If I wasn’t worrying they would contract coronavirus, I was terrified they were getting suicidal and that might have been the worst part of everything. I wasn’t just meeting needs, I was anticipating spiritual, psychological and physical needs. I was a damned mom medium and I am exhausted.

My girls are not the only ones going back to school. Kids all over the world are making the leap from virtual to in-person over the next few weeks from kindergarten to university and moms everywhere are having high impact, stop you in your tracks panic attacks predecessed by elation and followed by extreme mom guilt because how can we put our own comfort above our children’s safety and send them back to school but really it’s all about everyone’s mental health.

Here is a definitive list of what college kids need this year before returning to school:

Therapy appointment

I am serious, all kids from 4-24 ( and all the adults) need regularly scheduled therapy appointments for re-entry into the real world and out of the zoom world and the best way to do that is by taking an hour every other week and meeting with their therapist over ZOOM. Baby steps and it works. The girls have been in therapy since the pandemic started.

Ergonomic Office Chair

Thanks to Flexispot I was able to personally try out the Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair and it is amazing and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve worked from home for the past 12 years and spend a huge amount of my time sitting at a desk. The thing is that in the wrong chair that means back pain, neck pain and feeling pretty awful. I’ve been using this chair since the spring and it alleviates all of that and it is very comfortable. I love it and will be sending one with each of my girls when they head off to college in the next couple of years because if I can’t be there to make them comfortable, you better believe that I’m sending them a chair that does.

CoVid Vaccination

Not to be that person but if you can, please get your kids their CoVid vaccination before school start back not only to keep them safe from coronavirus and keep others safe but to give your kids peace of mind. You think the long-term effects of CoVid are worrisome ( and they are) well, the effects on everyone’s mental health, even those fortunate enough to avoid contracting the virus, are devastating. It’s too much. Kids have enough to worry about as is, as parents, we need take this off their plate and make the decision to do the responsible thing for the greater good.

Lodge Baking Ware

It’s been a minute since I’ve been in college myself but I do remember making a few meals once I had an apartment and good bakeware was (and is) always appreciated. To be honest, I always remember my mom having cast-iron skillet ware and they were her favorites because they cooked evenly and completely. Recently, through the generosity of Lodge I tried out a few basic pieces myself;

Dual Handle Grilling Basket, Pizza Pan and the Casserole Pan and they are great for grilling, cooking pizza and making my mom’s chicken broccoli casserole, three staples I’ve taught my girls for college.

Meters OV-1-B Headphones 

These headphones are perfect to buy ahead of your teens going to college. My girls are in high school and like all teenagers they love to play their music very loudly the new fashion-forward Meters OV-1-B Headphones provide a win-win solution for both parents and their children. These headphones feature cutting-edge audio quality and a trendy design with volume unit (VU) meters on each earcup, giving teens a headset they’d actually want to wear while empowering parents to monitor how loudly their child/teen is playing their music. 

Each VU meter features a customizable RGB backlight, letting young listeners alter the color and brightness of their VU meters to match any style or mood. These real, active VU meters measure the headphones’ input, replicating the meters found on professional-grade bass amplifiers used in live musical performances, and giving parents a discrete way to ensure their child is enjoying music at a safe volume.

Face Masks

As much as we all thought that the pandemic was coming to an end, Delta variant had other plans. Now, there are surges everywhere and if you are sending your kids off to university you are probably worrying about them anyways so just load them up on face masks, disposable or some cool ones

Triple-Layer X-STATIC® Mask 

has a removable filter (that you can cut and tailor to your own face shape) and the layer closest to the face is made with X-STATIC® silver yarn. Used by US Special Forces and NASA astronauts, X-STATIC® yarn is 99.9% pure silver, making it one of the most effective antimicrobial and antiviral materials for use in textiles. 

  • Antimicrobial and antiviral
  • Highly effective in hot and wet environments
  • Permanent (silver is irreversibly bound to a polymer so it becomes a physical part of the fiber) and performance does not diminish over time (X-STATIC® has been tested for more than 250 washes with virtually no reduction in performance)

The masks are reusable and washable and come in a pack of two masks (so you can wear one while the other is in the wash). 

Last but not least, send our child off to college with lots and lots of love and support. Encourage them to spread their wings, meet new people, and try new things because that’s what college is all about…growing up and learning to live life on your own terms, becoming the person you want to be with no regrets.

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Olympic gymnast , GOAT, Simone Biles chose mental health over Olympic glory, lost in air, Tokyo Olympics, pandemic

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Simone Biles did the unthinkable for an Olympian athlete, she withdrew from the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics to focus on her mental health just a day after her dramatic withdrawal from the team competition. While I found it initially shocking, not because of why she withdrew but that she chose to walk away at all, especially in a world that marginalizes mental health. Simone Biles chose mental health over Olympic glory. I find her to be incredibly brave and the kind of role model our daughters need. What I really found shocking is some people’s negative reaction to it.

“I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being,” the decorated athlete told reporters.

To be clear, putting your mental health first is hard, especially in a society that values being number 1 over almost everything else. Quitting is seen as a weakness. We are taught from birth to work hard to achieve our dreams with no regard to the sacrifice and cost to ourselves. Everyone else in the world is competition and our goal is to win. But when you fight that hard to win, something will get lost, often ourselves.

I was talking to someone and their reaction to the Simone Biles situation was that, “she choked and she is selfish because she chose to quit rather than to continue on as part of the team. She took a spot that could have been given to someone else. She threw away an opportunity. She let her team and America down.” This person was visibly annoyed. This person who is not an Olympic athlete nor a competitive athlete. This person who very single-mindedly admonished her for “giving up.” I was flabbergasted because where I saw strength and courageousness, this person saw weakness.

As someone who struggles with her own mental health, as many of us do especially after this pandemic, I can assure you that Simone Biles choice to withdraw was probably one of the hardest decisions that she’s ever had to make. Gold medals are cool and every Olympic athlete spends their life training, sweating and sacrificing in hopes of winning one and the glory and recognition that it brings in their sport. So for her to choose her mental health over her pride is telling and one of the most mature and mentally healthy things I’ve ever witnessed.

Simone Biles chose mental health over Olympic glory and it’s the bravest thing ever.

In all actuality, Simone put her team first by knowing her own mental and physical limitations. Biles confirmed she was not injured but felt her poor vault would jeopardize the team’s chances for a medal. “I felt like it would be a little better to take a back seat, and work on my mindfulness,” she said. “I didn’t want the team to risk a medal because of my screw up.”

Biles admitted that the stress of competing at the Tokyo Olympics, the mounting burden of competing at a pandemic Olympics after the past 16 months of lockdowns and restrictions, may have finally taken its toll.

According to Time, days after arriving in Tokyo, an alternate on the team tested positive for COVID-19, and another alternate was placed in isolation because she was a close contact. “Today was really stressful,” she said. “The workout this morning went okay, it was just the 5.5-hour wait—I was shaking, and barely napped. I’ve never felt like this going into a competition before. I tried to go out, have fun and after warming up in the back I felt a little better, but once I came out here, I felt, no, the mental is not there. I need to let the girls do it and focus on myself.”

We talk about privilege and as a Mexican American woman I’ve felt how privilege works against those who don’t have it firsthand. It wasn’t until within the last 5 years that it hit me just how different it is to be a white man and a Latina woman. For example, I will never know what it feels like to walk down the street alone at night and not feel afraid.

I had no idea that privilege extended to mental health and those who don’t struggle so easily look at those who do as weak. We are not weak; we are strong we learn to bend as to not be broken. If you are really strong, you fight to be your own advocate and that is exactly what Simone Biles did. Backing out wasn’t giving up, it was standing up for her own well-being.

I struggle with my own mental health issues and I’ve had to do a lot of work since my diagnosis 20 years ago. It’s taken a lot of time, understanding, patience, therapy, education and learning to love myself enough to do what needs to be done in spite of what others expect. Intuitively it feels selfish to choose me over others but if I don’t choose myself, my own health and mental health, as a priority who will? I am my own responsibility and I am responsible for my actions. More importantly, I am responsible for my family and if I can’t take care of myself, how can I take care of them?

The past year has been trying on everyone’s mental health. There has been a shift in the way we think. Everyone is a potentially deadly threat due to CoVid. Being in public is exhausting and it’s impossible to feel safe during a world health crisis. Anxiety and depression are a symptom of the new normal. It’s no one’s fault, it is what it is. It’s lingering after effect of the pandemic that every single one of us has been touched by because it is impossible to be normal when nothing else is.

It is counterintuitive for us to choose ourselves over society’s expectations. As humans, especially as Americans, our default setting is that we choose glory over our own good. We choose to push through over sitting with. We want to be the best at all costs. To save ourselves, we have to unlearn all of this to be the stronger and better version of ourselves because, to be honest, the default settings suck. They only work if you want to be a basic bitch with no free will of your own; no responsibility for yourself. It’s brave to choose you. It took a lot of courage for Simone Biles to recognize her limits and withdraw from the competition. She didn’t give up. She did the hardest thing possible, she publicly chose her mental health over what other people perceive as her responsibility.

As a society, we need to change the narrative. Choosing your own health, mental or physical, or your own dreams over the limited expectations that the world holds for you is good. It’s the hard decisions that make us who we are. Going along with something that is detrimental to your health and mental well-being is the most insane thing you can do. If you’re doing that, stop it.

If she had continued on in the Olympics and ended up having a full breakdown, the world would have gasped and said, she should have told someone and withdrew, the Olympics are not worth her sanity. She would have been embraced with empathy but since she made the brave decision to know her own limitations and quit before she was broken, she is being criticized for letting her team down.

The world is a duplicitous place and the people who cry when someone commits suicide and asks why they did it are the same people who mock those who set boundaries they don’t understand. Simone Biles didn’t do a selfish thing and choose herself, she chose the right thing for her and her teammates. She made the hard choice for the right reasons. We should all take a lesson from Simone Biles and choose our health over what other people expect of us. I’m glad our sons and daughters get to see her choose her mental health over a gold medal because that’s much more important than winning. You don’t get to be GOAT without being a trailblazer and she is without a doubt GOAT for life.

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why luxury fashion is an investment

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Spending money is something I take very seriously. I’m not cheap by any means but I know how hard it is to earn money and I know what it feels like to not have it so I’m frugal. I don’t deprive myself but if I buy something it has to be worth it to me…in some way. I don’t believe in waiting for special occasions so I want to invest in things I can appreciate every day and I want to appreciate every day like it’s the last day.

I’m don’t usually shop at Walmart or Target for clothes, shoes or handbags for myself (though on occasion I have found some cute, quality items) but as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to differentiate between quality made and disposable fashion. I know the difference between throwing my money away and making an investment and I’m here to tell you that an investment in your overall happiness and quality of life is just as important as investing in a good piece of jewelry or property.

Today you can find clothes, shoes, handbags and watches ranging from a few tens of dollars to hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on if it’s an original piece of couture by Dior, a high-end luxury piece off the rack like Zimmerman, a midrange dupe by a less expensive designer like Steve Madden, fast fashion like Primark or a mega mass-produced copy of a dupe sold on Shein.  You choose your own fashion adventure but keep in mind, that not all products are created equal but they all have their place. Most people own reasonably priced pieces with a few luxury pieces interspersed within their wardrobe.  Owning luxury items is not easily accessible to everyone and to be honest, not everyone cares about the brand name. 

But thanks to many amazing brands, you can still have a quality fashion wardrobe on a budget if you are an intelligent and patient buyer without always paying the highest price. For example, just look at the GMT Master II guide. But the question remains: why buy a luxury item, when you can get it for less? Here are some valid reasons to wear a luxury watch! 

1. To be at the forefront of technology 

When we talk about being at the cutting edge of technology in the watchmaking sector, some will quickly think of the famous Apple Watch. Yet the largest watches are a thousand times more complex.  Owning a luxury watch means having years of innovation, research and testing on your wrist, each more complex than the next.  In short, wearing a luxury watch means having an object designed and built down to the last detail, thanks to decades of know-how.  The big brands carry out all the stages of production: from the casting of gold alloys to the assembly of the movement elements, the case, the dial and the bracelet, including machining and finishing. It is a sign of the times, and a sign of fashion. 

2. For social status

Wearing a luxury watch is an indescribable feeling. A feeling of confidence, exclusivity, specialness which can only be found with the biggest brands. This is valid for you, but also for others. Your high-end watch is more than just a watch. It is a symbol. It says to the world that you belong in all the rooms. When you wear luxury fashion you know who you are and it shows.

3. For the universe that goes with it 

Having a luxury watch on your wrist encompasses a whole universe. You don’t just walk into a Rolex store. You enter the world of the brand. Specific smells, watches displayed in a certain way and salesmen dressed in costumes. It’s an experience. In addition, the greatest watch models have a unique history.  The Rolex Submariner for example highlights its crossing of the Atlantic. Omega’s Speedmaster and his conquest of the moon. These watches do more than carry a story: they feed the legend. 

4. For an irreproachable quality

The precision of assembling a luxury watch is comparable to that it takes to plan the trajectory of an earth-moon rocket. In other words, surgical precision. Wearing a luxury watch means having all risk insurance on your wrist. You have gone away for several decades with your timepiece, if not several generations. To give you an idea of ​​the performance of these little jewels of watchmaking, NASA has equipped an astronaut with an Omega. This one remained 365 days in space.  

5. To make an investment 

When you buy an after all mundane watch, you are spending money. This is called a liability. On the other hand, the purchase of a luxury watch, on certain models, is a real investment. The watch will gain in value over time. After a few years, you will be able to resell it with a nice added value. This is called an asset. 

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Ways to grow closer to your spouse, ways to grow stronger as a family

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

It’s a little frightening how many people I know my age have gotten divorced recently. I’m sure the pandemic didn’t help. You really get to know someone when you’re trapped in a house with them for 16 months. CoVid was a marital stress of epic proportions. I’m sure even the healthiest couples thought about it at least once during the past few months.

This is why I am constantly trying to think of ways to grow closer to my spouse and ways to grow stronger as a family.

Some of the couples I thought were perfect for one another, called it quits quietly. Divorce is, unfortunately, pretty prevalent these days with about 39% of all marriages ending in an uncoupling. Let’s be honest, no one gets married to get divorced but no one gets married to be unhappy either. Honestly, if the marriage isn’t working out, there are only 3 ways it can go 1) work together to grow together and hope it’s enough 2) do nothing and stay in a miserable marriage (this shouldn’t even be an option) 3) divorce and move on with your life.

The thing is sometimes there is someone to blame, sometimes people just fall out of love and sometimes people grow apart. It’s not a crime but it’s not exactly the happily ever after any of us dreamed of. People are busier than ever before; kids are overscheduled, parents are overworked, overwhelmed and exhausted and no one has time to just be present anymore. This is where things can start to slowly fall through the cracks and no one even notice it.

The best thing we can do as couples is spending quality time together; one-on-one facetime, listening and touching. Hugs, holding hands, kissing and saying I love you may seem trivial because you assume the other person just knows but they don’t. Words and actions matter. It never hurts to speak it into existence. Take the time, say it and do it. It can mean the difference between 2 months and 20 years. This applies to building relationships with your children too.

9 ways to grow closer to your spouse and ways to grow stronger as a family

Eat Together

Every day, everyone is in a hurry to get to work or school. Usually, breakfast is hurried, lunch is spent at work or school so make dinner count. This is something my parents do and something, the Big Guy and I have made a point of doing. Dinner every night at 5, unless there is an extracurricular, in which case, we all wait until we’re all there. Sharing meals is one of the best ways to come together as a family and check in with one another.

Whenever you share a meal, stay focused by implementing a no phone and no television rule. Instead, be present and talk to one another.  

Do the boring stuff together

Chores and errands often feel like a lot of work and no fun. Obviously, kids (and adults alike) would rather spend their days with friends, relaxing, watching movies or doing anything else other than the menial stuff. Everyone who lives in the house should be responsible for doing their part of the chores and if you do it right (we add loud Latin music, lots of dancing and laughing and a definite start and end time) it can be a great way to bond as a family. Have a list of tasks ready and assign them accordingly; you can perform them together at a set time during the week or weekend when you all can do them together.

Doing chores together fosters teamwork; if one experiences a difficult time, those who complete their tasks first can help and that tiny act shows love. If your kids have demanding schedules, give them deadlines to complete their chores. They’ll soon learn that performing duties together makes it more fun and fast than doing them alone. To make it more rewarding, have something to look forward to afterward, like enjoying a special meal or going out to the movies.

One-on-one time

Spending time as a family is great, but don’t forget to have one-on-ones with each other. It’s about quality not quantity. You can spend half an hour with each of your family members on different days. It’s as simple as asking what they’d like to do. Having one-on-ones with parents is crucial for kids; you get to discover what’s going on in their life away from home and their needs or troubles. One-on-ones with your partner is what feeds the intimacy that will get you through the hard times. Give your partner your full attention when there are no distractions; you can discuss issues to do with family and individual hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

Laugh together

Laughter is said to be food for the soul; it makes a bad day better and helps you bond as a family. Laughing stimulates your immune system and reduces stress; it has been proven to actually add to one’s life. Enjoy every moment you get to share in laughter, whether your husband ripped his pants showing off his killer dance moves at an impromptu kitchen dance party or you’re watching funny TikToks with your family (something we do often as an after-dinner activity). Whenever possible, create time to share stories, play games, or just cut up and laugh together. It relieves tensions and models to not take yourself too seriously to your children.

Attitude of gratitude

Family members do a lot for each other without expecting anything in return; saying thank you after a good deed can go a long way in making someone feel valued. Be appreciative by taking the time to surprise a family member with a gift, note of gratitude, or simply say “thank you” when one does something for you. It teaches respect and instills an attitude of gratitude.

Create family traditions

Family traditions and rituals enable you to create time for each other and memories; they shouldn’t just be for the holidays. Create routines like family movie nights, carving out pumpkins, game nights and baking days, weekly or monthly. Suppose there is an activity that you all enjoy doing, such as playing soccer, attending festivals, or picking strawberries during summer, do them together. These traditions ensure that even when the kids move away, they’ll want to make time to attend and be together with the rest of the family because of the fond memories they have of doing them in the past.

Family vacations

For us, travel is top of the list of things to do to ensure our family grows together. Going away on regular trips gives you quality time as a family, away from busy schedules and school. It allows you the space and time to be present with one another while making new memories together. Include everyone in the planning so that no one feels left out, including the kids. If going away on vacation sounds like fun, start planning, say a month earlier. Include it in the family calendar and inform everyone. Weekend getaways with your spouse can really reignite the fires of romance too and it doesn’t have to be far, just a local hotel will do where you can be man and woman and not just mom and dad.

Exercise as a family

Exercise is personal and I love my time alone, if I’m being honest but other times, I love long walks with my husband, bike rides as a family or a fun HIIT dance workout with my teen girls. If your family is into fitness, working up a sweat together is a healthy and fun way to spend time and bond with each other. Exercising together doesn’t require you to sign up for a boot camp, though that’s also a viable idea. Find simple ways to stay active while outdoors or indoors. When it’s warm, take a walk, run or bike around the block or to the park, create an indoor gym or plan workouts and do them together. If you have a furry friend, take him out for a walk together. It’s not about what you do, it’s about moving and being together.

Make time for family meetings

Meeting as a family is essential for you to check in with each other, discuss plans, or air grievances. We do this daily at dinner time. Family meetings also create an excellent time to discuss upcoming events like chores to perform during the weekend, day trips, or vacations. Schedule meetings on your calendar or check in with everyone to know their availability if it’s impromptu. Let everyone send in their items or issues for the agenda so that all grievances are discussed. To make these meetings effective, establish some guidelines.

Family is the most important thing in life, couples, siblings and parents are all a vital role in it. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep everyone together and thriving. We intentionally set an example early on so that our girls would grow up placing a high value on family. The bottom line is that family is everything so enjoy and cherish your family in all the ways. Never lose sight of the fact that marriage and parenting take effort and don’t just happen. Remember to not take one another for granted and tell people how you feel, happy or sad, before things go left unsaid and unheard for too long.

These are just a few of the ways, I work on my family and my marriage every day. It’s not the only way but it is the way that works for us. What are your best tips for ways to grow closer to your family and ways to grow stronger as a family?

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