Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Life You Want...


Last month the city of Miami, along with Olay Beauty, Crest Health and Covergirl hosted Oprah's "The Life You Want Weekend". Now, I am a professed "Super Souler". I don't watch much television, but I do believe in quality programming. Anything other than middle-aged women making fools themselves or dating back 100 years of  progress is a welcomed change in this household. So when I do watch, I prefer that it at least add some value to my life. Featured positive social influences willing to bestow jewels of wisdom on a weekly basis is my kind of tv. So when I received the call to participate in the coverage for the weekend, I jumped on it! 

Much to everyone's dismay the weather was anything but positive! The grey clouds moved in and brought the rain with them. Trudging through the puddles and mud (yes, mud) proved to be difficult with a toddler in tow. Okay, let me explain...
As usual there was a snafu with the whole sitter situation and I, (being the wonderful mother I am) decided the show must go on. With a toddler. In the rain. Mother of the year right here folks.

Hey, it's OPRAH! I digress.

Just as suspected, the event was full of all the positivity needed that day! Take that humidity!
The grounds of Miami Museum Park were set up with tents as far as the eye could see with different themes all lending to the positive messages driven home by the OWN network.
Renewal... Reinvention...Evolution, you get the idea.


Renewal was filled with positive messages and tips on how to help feel renewed, with products provided by its sponsor, Olay Beauty. All things aimed at helping you feel your most beautiful surrounded the tent and visitors were spoiled with a plethora of facial treatments. Camera crews circled the tent asking passersby "What makes you feel your most beautiful?" We were fortunate enough to take part in the filming of this commercial and chime in on the beauty in baby-wearing. 

The Reinvention tent was all about helping you maintain an new you, sponsored by Covergirl Cosmetics and Crest Health. Here everyone was treated to a preview at all of Covergirl's newest products and consultations with professionals on how to best achieve your own "look". Once again we were approached to participate in some filming in which I'm sure you already know what my answer was... Yes I did have to say "Easy, Breezy, Covergirl!"

The rain unfortunately did not let up and it was getting harder to navigate through the puddles of water and mud, I was happy to be a baby-wearing mama, I was able to spare my (not so) little guy from all the trouble. I suppose I feel my most beautiful when I'm able to be fully present in the moment, when plans don't work out and I go with the ever-present current of life. When the sitter cancels at the last minute, take the little ones along! When the stroller won't work, wear em'! And when there's rain...
Well, you get the picture..
Everyone I met had the same attitude towards life, it was so refreshing to be surrounded by so many positive people "living in their element" as Sir Ken Robinson would describe it. It seemed every cheerful person I connected with that day, had overcome some feat in order to be there. It was as if we were all rewarded with this wonderful presence and almost electric experience, just bursting with all the bright personalities and wonderful vibes all mixed in one. Every cloud has it's silver lining indeed. Who needed great weather, when we all brought our own sunshine...


I try in most cases to see life through the eyes of my children, with magic and wonder. To always be faithful and trusting in humanity, fighting hard to never become jaded or cynical. It's easy to get wrapped up in the blame game, pointing fingers as to why things never worked out in your life, your community or even in your nation. It takes awareness in order to work from the inside out and focus on your part in and how you can effect the whole. I suppose this is what happens when you never lose that magic, when your living the life you want...

video

Essentially Yours,

Erika


Monday, November 24, 2014

Forego Black Friday, Cancel Cyber Monday, Go with Giving Tuesday!


Mappy Thanksmaskuh!

It's November, possibly one of my favorite months out of the calendar year. The weather is cooler in most parts of the country (annoyingly the same in Florida), but not quite freezing. Halloween is over, the candy has all been eaten or "donated" in our case, and there's a stillness in the air. That calm before the storm so to speak, a quiet month of reflection on gratitude and all that truly matters. The sense of impending fulfillment that can only come from watching your crazy relatives do what they do best, drive each other crazy! Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday, because it was the simplest of all the holidays. No muss no fuss, just food, family and lots of love.

(*Best Holiday movie EVER!)

Well, NOT ANYMORE!

Have you strolled the aisles of any of your local chain stores lately? They barely cleared away the halloween costumes before bringing out the cheesy tchatchke's or tacky blow up Santa's you find on every lawn around the holidays. To be clear: I AM a lover of Christmas and decorating, although I've learned to streamline it over the years. Quality decorations over quantity. More hand made with love, less cluttered crap. I don't enjoy my home looking as though I cleared the X-mas clearance aisle at Walmart. I use this opportunity like any other to decorate our home with crafted items we've made while creating lasting memories, or anything passed down throughout the years that bring fond memories of holidays past.



I'm fully aware of the morbidity of what actually took place on the first Thanksgiving, and am trying to figure out ways to convey a positive message from this celebration to our boys over the years, but how when the holiday is being phased out completely?

Over the years I found it strange that some people would actually put up their Christmas tree on Turkey Day. Call me crazy but growing up in New York we would buy our X-mas tree the first days of December, you know the actual month of the very holiday we were celebrating. Nowadays I even see in some homes the tree is already up and decorated tinsel and all, in family Thanksgiving Day pictures. 

It's bad enough consumers can't wait a whole evening for the infamous "Black Friday" sale that they had to move it up to midnight the night of Thanksgiving! I find this appalling on a lot of levels.. Not only do these companies plaster their shelves with merchandise in the month of October, but they require their workers report for duty at midnight on the day of a National Holiday! How far have we come from the family unit in this country that we feel the need to rush through turkey carving, so we can hurry up and get to the matter at hand... Consumerism! How much value do we put on "family" if were constantly sending the message to our children that the "almighty sale" is more important than spending time with your loved ones. I see more  Black Friday waiting line selfies on social media than I do family portraits.

Is it ever really that serious? Do we really HAVE to have that electronic device or toy so badly that we are now willing to sacrifice the peace from one holiday in order to rush into one that comes with presents? A little respect for the bird people! A little more presence perhaps and less presents. This poor turkey gets no love! He lost his life so that you can stand in line at Target with hundreds of other people waiting for a toaster oven? Shouldn't we at least pay homage to this foul by way of a tryptophan induced semi-coma?

To make matters worse, they've added Cyber Monday! In case you didn't get enough on Friday and still have something left in your 401k, there's still time! Except it's even better, you don't have to leave home at all, you can spend your retirement right here online! Thanksgiving is now the "Cinderella" of holidays. I truly feel as though this holiday is getting the raw end of the deal, being phased out completely for its lack of oh I don't know, REVENUE??? Can't we just enjoy this holiday and all that it brings? There will be plenty of time for more holiday festivities in December, it lasts all month long! Societies are built around MORE. More of EVERYTHING. More money, more cars, homes, devices, toys, vacations, clothes and jewelry, etc... More of everything, except time. All of these easily become distractions from more important matters. Time cannot be bought, sold or replaced.



I'm relieved by a  growing trend to help offset all of this holiday madness and get back to what really matters, giving back! Giving Tuesday is the day after Cyber Monday, it is set for December 2, 2014 this year and if you haven't participated before, now is the time! Giving Tuesday is a global day dedicated to giving back to all sorts of causes that have partnered up with this movement.


You can find hundreds of your favorite organizations partnered up with Giving Tuesday and donate to the charity of your choice. Sunflower Creative Arts is one of the many on the partner list and a wonderful way to give back to a local center contributing to the future of our community, our kids!  You can find out more about #GivingTuesday here. Join today and post an #UNselfie this holiday season! Sunflower is dedicated to protecting the freedom of childhood. I invite you to give the gifts of Play + Nature + Art  on #GivingTuesday bymaking a donation to Sunflower's Operating Fund.


There are many ways you can give back. Giving of your time is one of the most rewarding of all on both ends. If you can't afford to just donate freely to all the charities that call to you, then you can make it your business to give something much more personal, your time. Sometimes the call to service is there, but we don't always know how to answer it. That's what sites like Volunteer Match are for! They partner good people with good causes. I found them while trying to volunteer at local soup kitchens with the boys last year, which was more difficult than I anticipated because most of them were fully staffed. If you are sure you would like to volunteer on some level and give some of your time, all you have to do is visit their website, they will provide a list of organizations in your area that need volunteers and even provide you with their contact information and specifications on what that particular organization is in need of. 

Whatever your traditions or holiday celebrations consist of, I hope you'll consider giving back this season in whatever way you can. Take time and enjoy company instead of credit cards, people instead of presents, and giving instead of getting. 

Happy Holidays!


Essentially Yours,

Erika



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spotlight on Acupuncture for Humanity!


Have you always been curious about Acupuncture but never had the opportunity to try it? Have you tried it and loved it but perhaps it isn't affordable for you? Either way this is a great opportunity at an unbeatable price! Each month the fine folks at Palm Beach Shared Acupuncture practice will hold an evening of group acupuncture / meditation and intention setting guided by live music and aromatherapy. Not to mention a portion of the proceeds go to help a new charity each month. This month the chosen organization is Habitat for Humanity!

A charity near and dear to my heart since my  days in construction and their neighborhood revitalization projects. Habitat has transformed the lives of more than 4 million people around the world. They aren't only known for building homes, but also for building communities and hope. To learn more about this organization and all that they do you can visit their website here.

Where?
Boynton Beach Woman’s Club
1010 S. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach, FL 33435

When?
November 20th 7-8 pm
(Doors open at 6:30, starts promptly at 7)

What will the treatments entail?
While lying on your yoga mat, four thin, sterile, single-use needles are placed into the wrist and ankle areas by
State Licensed Acupuncturists. The needles are generally left in place for 20-45 minutes.

What I will need for the session?
Bring whatever will make you feel comfortable (e.g. yoga mat, pillow, blanket to lay on, or blanket to cover
yourself if cold etc.). Wear comfortable clothing. You will be asked to remove socks and shoes because needles
will be placed around ankles and wrists. Please bring your own water.

Cost is $40 and a portion of the proceeds goes directly to Habitat for Humanity


Register here for this month's session or get info / dates on all future sessions.

Hope to see you there!


Essentially Yours,

Erika



Monday, November 17, 2014

Growing Back..


We've recently acquired a plot at the Boca Raton Community Garden, a spot we waited over a year for! A great place for novice gardeners like myself looking to grow their own food. In an effort to take part in a sustainable future we have secured this plot and even planted our first seeds, anxiously awaiting our harvest. We go as a family and tend to this plot, hoping to instill some value in the process of planting a seed, caring for the garden and patiently awaiting, quite literally the fruits of our labor.


Studies show that children are ten times more likely to eat vegetables they've grown themselves. Not that we really have a problem with that, our boys are thankfully excellent eaters and will grab broccoli first on a table full of assorted foods. They have never shied away from anything green and leafy, and their snacks consist of fruits and veggies not packaged crackers or yogurt pouches chock full of sugar / preservatives/ additives, etc..

We often go after a full day of Seedlings and water the garden, we end up having a mini-picnic while discussing things like what is growing, how long it will take and why we pull the weeds from our garden. I knew we would be modeling sustainability and the natural responsibility for the food we ingest, but I wasn't prepared for the pockets of sweetness we would endure in the process. Their natural wonder for the world around them makes this experience all the more delightful and fulfilling.
Walking past all the plots and discussing what other gardeners are growing, I've learned that they can identify between parsley and basil. They can recognize when a radish is ready to be picked, and they can even tell when pests have gotten to some greens. It amazes me how quickly, when given the opportunity, children will immerse themselves so deeply, so presently in their natural surroundings that they instinctively learn and grow. I suppose it falls under our belief in immersion play, process art and natural evolution. It's one thing to read the research, feel the call to change your lifestyle, but to watch it unfold before your eyes is a glorious feeling. Akin to the feeling you get when you first saw this young life enter the world and take their first breath. Bearing witness to the unfolding of their personalities and the developing of their curiosity is  nothing short of miraculous. 
The Boca Raton Community Gardeners donate a portion of their harvest to the Boca Helping Hands, a community based organization dedicated to making a difference. They provide meals for those in need and work closely with the Boca Raton Community Garden throughout the seasons. Join us in volunteering our hearts and our time for Family Cooking Night at Boca Helping Hands, Thursday December 11th! We will be there!

"The seeds we sow today determine the kind of fruit we'll bear tomorrow."

-Unknown


Essentially Yours,

Erika

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"Bad Officials Are Elected By Good Citizens Who Don't Vote"...


I'm not one of those people who goes around debating politics or religion at a party. I'm a believer in everyone having the right to their own individual opinion. I strongly feel that it's the differences we all need to embrace in each other in order to learn more or accomplish anything while we are here.  In order to make any kind of real change.

These subjects can and do incite powerful emotions from people, partly because it reflects some of their core beliefs as a human being. What if, no matter what our thoughts and opinions were we could just respect these divides and learn to build bridges and meet in the middle? What if we all became a part of a much larger conversation in which all of our voices could be heard? 

I hear time and time again how people refuse to vote, they think it doesn't matter, their voice won't be heard. Well it won't, because a closed mouth cannot get fed. I hear all sorts of excuses why people think voting is a waste of time.. So I decided to write a few reasons why I DO vote. 

  • Because I believe that big changes start with small groups of people who care. Big ideas started with one small fleeting thought. The almighty "What If.." The outward ripple effect of thoughts, ideas and a willingness to compromise is what is going to take us all to the next level. A higher consciousness as a whole, to improve life and liberty. 
  • I vote for all the women with voices that were never heard. For years women weren't allowed to vote, as though their thoughts and opinions had no value and did not matter. I vote because they did and still do.
  • Because the thought alone of a democracy calls to me in a way I cannot explain. The acknowledgement of all, an outlet to be counted. To be seen and heard as human beings is all the connection we need. The idea that all people and their voices matter make my heart flutter. There is a cloud of compassion on the ideals that all individuals have the right to be heard, simply because they were born. Regardless of their race, gender or class, the fact that they exist at all is reason enough. 
  • I vote for my children. I vote to help shape a better world for them, but also to show them how to stand and be counted. To rise to the call of humanity and contribute when and where it is necessary. To believe in something other than yourself, to believe in the greater good of all people. To respect those around you no matter what their opinions may be, and to learn to work with each other. I vote to teach them about peace and understanding. Learning to accept all thoughts and ideals whether you agree with them or not, or to fight for what you do believe in wherever there is injustice. And finally, not to give up. No matter what you did vote for or what you feel is necessary, it wont always come. But that doesn't mean you stop caring or sharing. It doesn't mean you become jaded and decide that your voice no longer matters, that very thought alone will make it come to fruition. It means that when your face is marred with dust, and the greater good does not prevail, you dust yourself off and get back into the arena. 
  • Finally, I vote because I can. Because it is my fundamental right not just as an American, but as a human occupying this planet. There are millions of people who do not have this right, I will vote for them. I vote to become a part of the national conversation, because it's needed. I don't vote simply to get the result I want, or what works for me, simply to be self-serving. I vote and become a part of this conversation in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the needs of the people and world around me, not just my own. Because at the end of the day, that's what it's all about. We are all one in the same, all at different levels of consciousness or awareness. Coming from different places and perspectives, with different levels of understanding. The ability to co-exist peacefully and fruitfully with all of these differences in play is what is going to make the biggest difference.
I invite you to become a part of this conversation. 


Click here for information on where you can go to place your vote today!


"The Ballot is stronger than the Bullet" -Abraham Lincoln





Essentially Yours,

Erika

                                                                   

Monday, November 3, 2014

DIY: Our Homemade Halloween Costumes


Most of our home life is homemade. We skip boxed, canned or frozen foods of any kind for the most part, I bake mostly everything from scratch and I usually rehab old furniture around the house.

I have fond memories of sitting in my grandmothers home and watching her sew and mend everything on her old fashioned black antique Singer sewing machine. That room always seemed magical to me as a kid, the possibilities were endless. It didn't matter what was torn, worn or just beat up she could fix it. I always dreamed of having a craft room of my own to store all of my fabric swatches, hot glue sticks, card stock, yarn and thread. For now, my husband puts up with the constant clutter on our computer desk and storage boxes filled with scrapbooks chronicling our lives. I've been on the hunt for one of these Singer sewing machines on my many thrift store hauls for quite some time now, maybe "Santa" will bring me one this year (hint, hint).

I've wanted to make the boys Halloween costumes for a while now, but always assumed I would need a sewing machine to create them. Until this year.. Until Pinterest! I'd had it with the over priced cheesy commercialized polyester get-ups offered in costume stores and was desperate for a new creative outlet in this area. Sadly, it seems even the children's female costumes have been effected and followed in the footsteps of the cliche` sexy women's costumes (Sexy Sesame Street, Really?!?!?). We'll save that for another post.

I always ask and somehow let the boys decide what they want to wear each year, obviously this year was the easiest as they are now able to communicate their wants much more effectively. It was a hard yes on the train costume, but they had already worn a store-bought conductor costume in the past. So we scoured the internet for some inspiration. As soon as I clicked on the DIY Thomas the Train costume, their faces lit up with joy and excitement. Now THAT is the reaction I was looking for. Not only could we create memories making it together, but they would enjoy it and love the costumes all the more. SOLD! To the lady with the hot glue gun!

Off to the craft store we went! It was like a neat scavenger hunt for the few key materials we would need. Not that it was all roses and rainbows. Have you ever tried navigating the narrow aisles of Michael's with two boys under the age of five, sans naps? I do not recommend. But we made it, multiple trips until we had the proper adhesives and box scraps needed. 
Another element of "Project Railway" (this is where my construction background comes in, doesn't every former Project Manager need a title for their craft projects?) is the amount of imagination it required. Pondering over which everyday items we could use to shape different aspects of the train makeup, e.g. toilet paper rolls became smoke stacks, painted yo-yo's became buffers, oatmeal canisters were sprayed to look like barrels, etc... It was great to watch the light go off in their head when we would find a material that fit the description. This was quickly becoming more of an experience than just pointing at an item in the crowded store among screaming kids, frustrated parents and paying for it at the register.

Not to mention a great way of keeping costs down seeing as how all we needed was a few Office Depot boxes (free), old shoe boxes from my "shoe farm", some paint, tape and glue! The priciest part was probably the Velcro needed to secure the straps. All in all the project was still under the $20 mark, #ThriftyMom score!

I wouldn't recommend waiting until the day before or day of to attempt this costume, but it's good to know it was possible (I've been insanely busy these days, don't judge me)! It's probably for the best, who knows how many add-ons would have occurred if I had more time to stew on it. I can just see it now, a homemade track built around the neighborhood so the kids can puff along the tracks merrily!
Any opportunity where they could help and assist in building the costumes was a plus, of course once all the adhesives dried and it was safe for them to touch the materials. But I will never forget the anticipation in their eyes while we were painting alongside each other, the pride that came when we were finally finished or the excitement when they first were able to wear them. Those memories created will stay with me forever, and I'm hoping the same for them.

Needless to say, this will be our family tradition for as long as the boys will participate. Hopefully one day I will be able to continue this tradition with our grandchildren. Perhaps they too will have fond memories of their grandmother sitting at a sewing machine in her craft room filled with magic and wonder where anything was possible.


Off they go!



Essentially yours,


Erika