Archive for ‘Family’

April 4, 2014

How to Balance Technology in the Home

Contributed by Eva Fleming

kids and technologyEach generation of parents has their own unique challenges and ours is clearly the excess of technology our children are being bombarded with. The problem is so new that the wisdom of the past generation has little to add when this highly addictive behavior is exhibited in their presence. What can we do with this monster that swallows our children’s time, creativity and energy? Instead of falling into despair or admitting defeat, let’s try to find solutions to improve our possibilities of raising healthy children that live in this reality without having to rely on cyber space to find happiness or peace.

To curve our children’s insatiable appetite for technology consumption the first thing we should do is clarify our purpose for their future. What type of people do we want our children to be as adults? My desire is that my children learn how to live a balanced life. I would like them to actively seek to develop all aspects of life: that they would have friends, that their bodies would be well taken cared of, that they would be outstanding students, that they would develop love and empathy for those around them. But a child that doesn’t know his or her world because he/she lives in an alternate reality, cannot achieve these goals. If this your problem, I suggest you become more involved in your children’s daily activities.

It’s important in our technologically driven society that children get opportunities for exercise. This can be achieved through organized sports, spontaneous play between siblings, or activities deliberately planned by a parent. A child’s body needs physical movement, no matter what season of the year it is. In my house I keep a BOSU ball so the children can jump while they watch TV. This ball comes in especially handy those days we can’t get to the park due to bad weather or difficulty in the day’s schedule. During those days, you can also help a child exercise by making them a list of items they can bring from one side of the house to the other. You can say, for example, run and get your laundry basket and bring it to the laundry room in less than two minutes.

In addition to physical activity, children should spend time doing school work and chores. During homework time, don’t allow your children to get distracted with TV or radio. Of course this is easier to achieve if they are younger in age because once they are teens, their habits have been formed and they are difficult to challenge. But while they are still young and you have control of their electronic devices, you can easily put them away during homework time. During the long summer months, or any other special vacation days when they don’t have homework, insist that they spend time reading or practicing an instrument so they don’t neglect the habit of feeding their mind. Chores should have the same importance. There’s a variety of things children can do to help them in their growth, like setting the table, picking up clothes from the floor, putting toys away, helping with gardening, etc.  I give my seven-year old a couple dollars every time he fills up a bag of weeds during the summer months. So I’m not only introducing him to gardening but also I’m teaching him the connection between work and money.

After children have gotten exercise and you know their homework and chores have been completed, then you can allow them to use their electronic devices using your judgment.

Don’t forget to include social activities in your children’s week.  Social activities can be limited to a family dinner where everyone has the opportunity to interact, table games like Monopoly, building LEGOS or playing dolls with friends, as long as the games are supervised. Social interaction is important to teach social-emotional skills. They create an emotional connection that bring personal satisfaction.

In regards to electronic games it is important that you don’t buy your children all the video games they want. You can, for example, buy them an electronic game in the summer, one during spring break, and maybe one during winter break. Limiting them to three games per year will ensure that once they have finished the cycle of each game, they are left with free time to develop other interest. The logic is to do everything with moderation; since excess is never healthy.

As parents, we should always keep in mind that we are raising adults. What kind of adults would we be raising if we allow our children to live only in a cyber world? Begin to train your children in the way they should go so when they are old they don’t depart from it. Begin to take control of the technology your children consume so they don’t become slaves of it. Think that one day they will be somebody’s husbands and wives and that a balanced life is the best gift that you can give his or her future family.

March 31, 2014

Listen With Your Heart

Contributed by Omaira Gonzalez

listen-with-your-heartI remember a time when my daughter and I were getting ready to attend a women’s conference. She had been asked to perform a dance that day. As we were getting ready, I spent moments earlier holding her in my arms consoling her from a heartbreak she had experienced, drying her tears. I didn’t know what to say that would make things better or make the pain feel any less. I remember mumbling words hoping something I would say would stick or would work like Tylenol and ease some of the pain. It felt like a hopeless attempt every time. We arrived at the conference and she put on her strongest face, smiling though you could still see pain piercing through her eyes. I smiled and chatted away, trying to distract everybody from the obvious question everyone wanted to ask. The moment finally came when my daughter had to perform… but how do you do it? How do you give it your all when you are hurting, your mind is foggy and you feel like a part of you is crushed? She stood there and with all of what was left, she gave it her all. It was one of her most memorable and best performances ever. She took the pain inside and used it to fuel her to dance while tears rolled down her face.

This experience brought me to an important realization… When your kids have a  cold, you give them cold medicine; if they struggle with school, you help them with more tutoring; if they fall, you place a band-aid on them. However, what do you do when your child has had a traumatic experience in his or her life? How do you help? No band-aid can fix it, no tutoring or cold medicines can give pain relief. You may even feel a bit frustrated because you don’t have the skills, insight or resources to deal with it at the moment.

Today teens are dealing with more than a heart break. They are dealing with suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, sexual identity, divorce, loss of a friend or loved one, and substance abuse, just to name a few. How we respond to this is as important as knowing when to get professional help when necessary. As a parent, our influence is very important. We need to be prepared to talk to them and walk them through their crisis with wisdom, compassion and the tools to help them heal. A friend once shared with me this advice: “Listen with your heart.” That was one of the best advice she could’ve given me when dealing with my teens and some of the crises I came across. I was so used to always using my head in dealing with their issues that many times I left out the most important part – my heart! I forgot that when you listen with your heart then you begin to connect with them emotionally, instead of trying to figure out the problem and search for quick solutions. I realized that once I started listening with my heart, I had better results. We connected better, because I understood them more and started to see where they were coming from and what they really needed.

Hopeless times may come when your teens face some of the most difficult moments in their lives. Remember that wisdom, compassion and most important— to “listen with your heart”—will help you get through those hard times.

March 10, 2014

Poor Jack: forgot to ask

Contributed by Charles Woehr

You still can’t believe it – how could people be so careless? What were they thinking? Or better: why weren’t they thinking? And now, the damage is done…too late to change their minds, too late to make last minute adjustments, the only thing left is their posthumous cry: “OH, NO!!”

It didn’t have to happen that way. A little more planning, a bit more investigating …things would have turned out differently. We have the benefit of learning from the mistakes of others, without having to go through their pain or loss. Let’s take a closer look at one of those stories and see what we can learn that will make us wiser (than them) in the choices we make.

Poor Jack. It all started with a live pine tree from a Christmas long ago, which had later been replanted in the space between the house and the swing set in the backyard. Now, years later, it was taller than the house and no longer appreciated. Jack decided to cut it down. He could have called for tree removal service but preferred to save money and do it himself; after all, he thought, he had a chain saw, a pair of gloves, and a good head on his shoulders. What more could he need? The day for action came, and he stood by the tree going over his plan: goggles, gloves, chainsaw, a couple of nicely placed cuts, and one tree down (should drop right between the house and the swing set). Everything was going just fine until he noticed that the tree was starting to fall in the wrong direction… against the house! End result: broken roof, wall, windows, and having to call the tree service anyway (not to mention his neighbor who caught it on video and posted it on the internet). What went wrong? Jack made a wrong guess about where to place the cut that would cause the tree to fall in the right place. He could have consulted an expert, over this detail, and saved himself a lot of trouble.

That kind of thinking carries over into other areas of our lives. For example: you want to have a strong and healthy family. You may think you have all the elements to make it happen: a husband, a wife, and three little children. But do you have all the knowledge you need to make this family nucleus into a strong and healthy one? Are you ready to be a good role model? Do you know how to meet the needs of your spouse? What about disciplining children? What are the most important things to teach your children? What boundaries should a healthy family have? How do you know if you are being successful?

Remember poor Jack: he forgot to seek out an expert in tree cutting. So, if your goal is to have a strong and healthy family, you need to seek an expert on the subject. Family Bridges is a great choice for getting sound and practical advice for making your family a strong and healthy one. With a wide variety of workshops, trainings and lots of helpful materials, Family Bridges has been successfully educating couples and families for years. Remember, you are not alone in your project – you don’t have to guess what to do to get things to fall into place. Contact Family Bridges and let these family experts give you great advice on how to get the job done.

March 3, 2014

10 Love Challenges

Contributed by Sarah Pichardo

lovechallengeI’m from a family of six girls. As you can imagine, getting a word in can be a little difficult, especially since all six of us are pretty opinionated. If there’s one thing, however, that all six of us have in common, aside from being stubborn, is that we are all do-ers. Our parents taught us, mostly by example, that in order to make a difference in the world, you have to show love not just simply speak about it.

What we do speaks volumes about who we are. What do your actions say about you?

Put your love into action this month and take the Love Challenge. Do all 10 of these challenges and you’ll see that it will not only make a difference in the life of another person, but will also make a difference in your own life.

Love Challenge 1: Do something nice

You’ve heard the saying a million times, “actions speak louder than words.” Do something out of the ordinary today for someone you love. Wash their car, bring them a cup of coffee, clean the kitchen, buy their favorite dessert, fold the laundry, cook them their favorite dinner – whatever it is, do it with love.

Love Challenge 2: Say something nice

How much do you appreciate your spouse, parent, child, friend? How often do you tell them? Take time today to say a simple “thank you for…” or “you make me happy because…” and make their day.

Love Challenge 3: Spend time with someone

Make a simple sacrifice to spend time with someone. Take a chunk of your free time, and devote it to a friend or family. Don’t just physically be there but be there emotionally and mentally. Pay attention to that person. Really be there, in that moment. Because that’s a moment you’ll never get back. And life is all about moments.

Love Challenge 4: Buy a thoughtful gift

I don’t know one single person that doesn’t like to receive a gift every now and then. An unexpected gift can light up someone’s day very quickly. Pick up a book you think they’ll like, their favorite flowers, a gift card to a restaurant, etc. You don’t have to get them something big – just something thoughtful.

Love Challenge 5: Give ‘em a hug

Have you hugged someone recently? A hug is a great way to let someone know you care about them and brighten their day. Plus, did you know research shows that hugs lower pressure, improves your immune system and relieves stress? Who doesn’t want that?

Love Challenge 6: Help someone

Life is hard sometimes and we can all use a helping hand. Is someone moving? Have they just welcomed a baby into the world? Are they having a financial difficulty? What can you do to help them out during this time? Again, it doesn’t have to be huge – just the smallest action can make a big difference.

Love Challenge 7: Decide to forgive

This one can be a doozy. Forgiving is hard but worth it. Forgiveness is a process and not an immediate, one-time act and may take time for the heart and mind to follow along. Start with making the decision to forgive. Doing so will release a burden and release more of your inner beauty.

For more in depth information on how to forgive, download the gloo mobile app and check out our “FORGIVE” program.

Love Challenge 8: Volunteer

Find ways to assist those living in your neighborhood or community. Practice conscious acts of kindness and giving. It’s good for you and good for others. Just do it.

Love Challenge 9: Listen

Listening is underrated. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who just listened to you vent – no interruptions, no judgments? Wasn’t it wonderful? Make an effort to give someone your undivided, fully concentrated attention. Showing understanding of the other person’s feelings and thoughts is all that’s needed to ease their burden and do them a world of good.

Love Challenge 10: Be kind to yourself

So you have shortcomings – we all do. Learn to accept yourself. Focus on your many positive traits, on your strengths and your abilities. Let go of harsh judgments, comparisons to others, and self-hatred. See yourself as the divinely inspired person you are. Love yourself.

February 16, 2014

Hold on to Love

Contributed by Eva Fleming

EVERLASTINGLOVEChildren are full of hope. Every day I hear mine talk about how great their future houses, families, and careers will be. In turn, I kindle their hope by telling them that they have the power to make it so. I encourage them because I know that hope is a life sustaining force. It is like oxygen; essential to a good life. Unbeknownst to them, I cherish a big hope for them too: I hope they have everlasting love.

As a child, you were probably like my kids believing that tomorrow held a great promise. We start out with such great hopes but life hits us hard so we begin to write off love and lose hope in marriage and relationships altogether. If you’ve had a relationship that ended in a break up, or you saw how your parents ended up getting a divorce after 20 years of marriage, you may have become a skeptic. It isn’t hard to lose hope in love, when in addition to your own past failures, all you hear are your friends constantly talking about their unhappy relationships. You start piling up the reasons why it could never be and end up envisioning a society without love; children who survive without the support of their parents; life without people that bring you support. If this is how you have been feeling lately, I ask you to go back to the hopes of your youth and imagine a world where family units continue to keep the fiber of society strong; a society where children can count on their parents, and where husbands and wives love and respect each other. Imagine a society where your talents and virtues are appreciated and wanted and envision what would happen if all your friends got infused with that much hope!

 “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane,” Said Red from the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Red was right, hope is dangerous, but it is also wonderful. It is better to be insane than to be bitter and full of regret because we refuse to pursue love. When I talk about hope and the power of love, I’m not talking about wishing upon a star or the exercise of positive thinking. I’m talking about the kind of hope that fuels our daily living so we can change the course of our lives.  Since my children’s minds go so easily to the future, I use that as fuel to encourage them to study hard, never miss school, practice their instruments, and exercise.  I tell them that hope has legs and getting through all these small, menial and daily tasks is how their wonderful future will begin to unfold. What about you? What small, menial, daily tasks can you incorporate in your daily routine to nourish hope? Is it physical exercise and healthy eating for a healthier you? Is it having a studying and reading time for a well-educated you? Is it service time for a more generous you? Do what you must but don’t give up on love, friendship, and family only because you don’t want to be driven insane by the winds of hope.

Love and hope are not tied up to a romantic relationship. You can be single and still cherish life, love and family. It is possible to be single without being alone. Hopeful singles don’t poison their emotional well being with crushed hopes and dashed dreams.  Hopeful singles are not stuck in the failures of their past. Hopeful and happy singles have taken charge of their reality and given up all envy to pursue optimism while still holding on to love. They have learned to be good stewards and refuse to live selfishly to fulfill only their own desires. They foster meaningful friendships and become part of a community. And when they are ready for a relationship, they engage in it with hope.

So whether you are a single person with many past hurts or a married person that has lost hope in their relationship, learn to rise above the failures of your past. Stop dwelling. Dwelling is the absolute opposite of hoping. Hope is rooted in your relationship with the future; dwelling focuses your thoughts in the past. Thinking about past things that could have been good or bad, rarely, if ever, compel one to act. Instead, continue to develop strategies that will help you move forward, learn to plan for difficulties, setbacks, and disappointments and give love, friendship and family another try. You can become part of the group of dreamers that work to rebuild a society that still holds on to hope. Hope has renewed my relationship with my husband during the last 22 years over and over again and hope is what I give to my children so they too can pursue everlasting love.

January 29, 2014

The War on Poverty

Contributed by Alicia E. La Hoz, Psy.D.

IStock_HispanicFamily22When I grow up, I will meet a girl I want, get married and have three children.”  Our four-year old child has a clear picture of what marriage is and already envisions that he too will be married.  Unfortunately this is not the case for many other Hispanic children born today. According to Child Trends, among women under 30, 53% of births occur outside of marriage, of which 65% are born to Hispanic mothers.  Thus, many of the children born today will not have a schema or internal framework of what marriage is. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, much attention has been drawn to marriage as one of the social indicators that holds promise for addressing poverty. Social science studies have clearly demonstrated that two-parent family homes lead to more economic stability and mobility while single parent family homes are more at risk for poverty.

Since the 1970s, the Hispanic community has grown 300%, now comprising 21% of the U.S. population under the age of 25. The impact of this expansion is reflected in the marketplace as Hispanics controlled $978 billion in spending power during 2009[1] and are expected to account for 74 percent of the increase in the nation’s labor force from 2010 to 2020.[2]   Nevertheless, this exponential growth is not without challenges to the family, education, poverty, mental health and immigration. For example, of the 6.1 million U.S. children living in poverty in 2010, 37.3 percent were Hispanic, as compared to 30.5 percent  white, and 26.6 black. [3] While the percentage of births outside of marriage increased for all ethnic groups, there is variability by race and ethnicity. Latinos and Whites account for the highest proportion of births outside of marriage, 65% Latinos and 61% Whites in comparison to 30% Blacks. In 1990, according to Child Trends, 37% of births to Latino women were non-marital in comparison to 53% in 2009.[4] Thus, the out-of-wedlock birth rate among Hispanics remains among the highest of all population groups.

 The trend is troubling since Hispanics have historically held a positive outlook on marriage and family life, emphasizing values within the traditional family. Economic strains, social isolation, immigration stress, barriers to marriage, and shifts to cultural norms have challenged the traditional family structure held closely by Hispanics. Hispanics have overcome the challenges faced through a strong work ethic, dependence on faith, and reliance on strong family values. The strong family values leading to the formation and sustenance of intact families that would otherwise protect children and their families from the ills of poverty are eroding.

 It is essential for the economic wellbeing of the country that anti-poverty policies be promoted not only by government-led initiatives but they encompass a community based approach that leverages the private sector, collaborates with the faith-based leaders, and is embraced by the community.  The problem is multi-faceted and the answers also need to be comprehensive in nature.  Promoting healthy marriage and fatherhood education programs, along with other social service programs such as job readiness and asset development, holds some promise as an effective intervention in reversing the current trends.  The Supporting Healthy Marriage Program Evaluation study of the Healthy Marriage Programs criticized by opponents of marriage and fatherhood programs had stronger effects for Hispanic and for more distressed couples.  These findings align with the local outcome studies of comprehensive programs implemented across the nation.  For example, Family Bridges, one of the largest federally-sponsored programs in the Midwest serving approximately 10,000 low-income (<100% of the federal poverty level) individuals, couples and families annually, of which 68% are Hispanics, has found in follow-up studies of low-income couples who engaged in the marriage education workshops large gains in parenting skills and a dramatic reduction in stress. In addition, follow-up outcomes conducted of those participants indicated that one-third of those relying on public aid when they took the workshops no longer needed that help two years after they completed the program.

Why have these programs worked for the Hispanic participants served by Family Bridges? Qualitative studies of interviews conducted with graduates of healthy marriage programs suggest at least three dynamics that influence change: (1) self-awareness brought about in the context of a trusting relationship; (2) a decision to change; (3) available resources that provide the needed guidance for the change process to occur. Participants served by Family Bridges either are dealing with generational or situational poverty. Generational poverty defined as having been in poverty for two generations or more is perpetuated by a cycle of hopelessness due to educational, parental and spiritual poverty. Without the hope and belief that life can be better, the motivation and energy to break the cycle is very low.  Couples and participants attending our programs gain a sense of hope as they witness others in similar distressful circumstances pull out and move forward. A renewed sense of hope, coupled with social and community supports and the needed resources, propels couples and individuals towards entering the change process.

Unless the marriage trend changes, our four-year-old will most likely enter into the school system with other Hispanic children who will not be raised with the benefits of a two-parent household. Other Hispanic children he befriends will most likely be at risk to be high school dropouts, to be teen parents, or to enter the juvenile system. These are the trajectories leading to poverty. Indeed, the marriage agenda is one of many interventions that, when implemented within a comprehensive community model, provides needed wrap-around and supportive services such as job skill development and is a promising practice for minorities as it draws on inherent cultural values that are appreciated and endorsed by many Hispanics.


[1] Selig Center for Economic Growth, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia, July 2009.

[2] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[3] Pew Hispanic Center, Childhood Poverty Among Hispanics Sets Record, September 2011.

[4] CDC/National Center for Health Statistics.
January 7, 2014

Stuck inside? Don’t lose your parenting sanity…

Contributed by Dr. Alicia La hoz

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If you have children, your patience may be tested as you enter into a second day of school closings due to the weather – not to mention having them for the holiday break.  And even if you super bundle-up your kids, it’s even too cold to take them out so they can burn off some of their energy.  Just like the enchantment of the Christmas toys have begun to loose their entertainment value, your children’s sporadic cute phrases and adorable smiles are not helping to taper off your frustration with their tantrums, boredom, and demands for you to entertain them. Besides popping in videos or letting them spend  endless hours on electronics, here are some additional ideas to entertain your kids and to keep your sanity:

  • Make edible art.  Take out your crackers, cream cheese, peanuts, carrots, jam, jellies, peanuts, etc. and let them decorate crackers making shapes, faces to their hearts desire. Then everyone can eat his or her work of art.
  • Take out the board games. Board games can be a fun way to pass a couple hours while also helping to teach your children some helpful skills: to think on their feet, to think strategically, to learn to lose.
  • Work on a challenging puzzle.Puzzles are great for the brain and they also provide endless hours of quiet entertainment. The human mind has two separate hemispheres or lobes –  right and left-brain – with each one dealing in different functions. Right brain deals with emotions and performs tasks holistically while the left-brain functions in linear fashion. When you are able to use both the sides of the brain, you will find that as you try to put together a jigsaw puzzle, you harness both the brain powers.
  • Listen to an audiobook.  Having a book read to you is a great pleasure and helps your children with comprehension, listening and your non-readers may even begin to appreciate books.  There are great audiobooks (many you can rent for free via your public library) that the whole family can enjoy.
  • Dance. Turn on the radio and blast on some fun music and have your kids go at it. Make sure to join them.
  • Work on an album.  For older kids or adolescents, have them help you put together an album of the holidays, birthday or season. You can even do this electronically in websites like shutterfly.com.
  • Happy Crappy App.  Download our Happy Crappy app and work on the activities suggested with your kids.  Download gloo here and check out Happy Crappy.

 Additional Parenting tips:

  • For younger children, keep a room clear of toys and have them bring one toy or activity at a time, as this helps them to focus and will play longer with their toy.
  • Help your get started on an activity child for a couple of minutes. This will help them become interested in it and they will be less demanding of you throughout the day.
  • Instead of just saying “No” to things, try to get in the habit of redirecting them to what you want them to do or how to act.

What other ways or things are you doing to survive being cooped with your children?

January 6, 2014

The Promises I WILL Keep This Year

Contributed by Jane June, PsyD

Resolutions-411x306I’ve always had mixed feelings around making New Year’s resolutions. Oftentimes, I set myself up by making resolutions that are impossible to sustain so they end up discarded by February or I let the busyness of life drown out my good intentions and forget about them along the way. Either way, I end up feeling badly about not keeping them. Can anyone relate?

So, as 2014 is quickly approaching I am faced with a dilemma. Do I make new promises or do I forgo them altogether? I have yet to decide, but I do have some thoughts on what I’d like to hold onto in the new year.

As a working mom of two little ones, I find myself hurried and overwhelmed by all the things that need to get done. Whether it’s cooking a meal, doing laundry, or shooting out a work email in between naps, playdates and preschool, I feel like the demands of life don’t slow down and neither do I! When you find yourself going grocery shopping between 11pm-midnight, there is no slowing down.

But, it’s when I step back and look at what is most precious to me, I realize that being efficient and productive is not what’s most important. It’s my children, my husband, and the people around me that I value the most and if I focus all of my energy in trying to get things done, I will miss out on what’s most important.

So, in 2014, I promise to hold onto relationships and people, and I can only hold onto this if I make myself available emotionally, mentally, and physically. This means making space in my life for people to enter and for relationships to grow. It means doing less and saying no to extra commitments, not because they aren’t worthy, but because I know it will keep me from holding onto what is most precious: my family, my friends, and a healthy me.

December 30, 2013

Change Your Old Script for a New One

Contributed by Dr. Alicia La Hoz

scrabbleListen carefully to yourself and you will recognize a familiar script that seems to automatically roll off your tongue. Your spouse and children easily recognize this script. Instead of mobilizing them toward action, your words seem to touch off a trigger point, causing them to roll their eyes or to aggressively assert their point of view. You find yourself repeating yourself over and over again because people haven’t done what you have asked them to do.

Working with families and couples, I have heard variations of the same script; “I have to watch out for myself because no one else will”; “You are selfish”; “You don’t listen so I . . . “; “I have to do everything myself”.

We seem to carry these phrases around and launch them to our spouses or family members during stressful conversations, during moments of exhaustion or when things are not working out. Tension acts like a magnet during these situations, drawing out phrases that would be better left unsaid. These words keep the argument fresh in the mind of all parties involved, creating a toxic environment charged by negative emotions.

This phrases, or scripts, hide some of our most basic needs; the need to be loved, valued, recognized and respected. Instead of meeting these needs, however, they can keep you and your spouse stuck in a cycle of perpetual conflict.

You may keep falling back to this script because you are frustrated from not being listened to and at things not changing.  The reality is that each time you fall back on the same script, the opportunity to initiate change in behavior dissipates. As shown from past experience, your trusty script doesn’t inspire or motivate anyone to change.

I challenge you during 2014 to take on a new script. Get rid of the old script that you have nurtured over the years. You can do so by replacing your script with one of forgiveness and grace. Start with, “I am sorry”; “I am thankful for who you are in my life and all you do for us”, “let’s try to work things out”, “How can I support you in all of this?” It is time to recognize that the old script only leads down the trail of bitterness and resentment and has no resolution in sight. Choose to adopt a script that empowers, engages, and forgives. As you recognize and validate others, your ability to listen and connect with others will improve. You will model an attitude that shakes away the bitterness and embraces love and grace.

This New Year, start with a clean slate and become a source of inspiration and motivation to those you love. Become a cheerleader and champion for the dreams of your friends and family and nurture their gifts along the way. As you focus on raising others up, you will transform your home into a place of cultivation rather than destruction, of renewal rather than exhaustion.

December 22, 2013

The Art of Giving

Contributed by Christian Zapata 

giveloveIt is that time of year again when the snow begins to fall, houses are decorated with festive lights, and the shopping malls are filled with eager customers in search of the perfect gift to give. Yes, Christmas is here again. It can be so easy to get swept into the hustle and bustle of the holiday gift giving, that we can forget the true spirit of the season.

Many of us have heard of the old adage, “It is better to give than to receive.” But what does this really mean? During the Holidays, we find joy and satisfaction in being able to give material items to our loved ones as a symbol of our love and appreciation. So where is the line drawn between altruistic giving and compulsory shopping lie? What unspoken messages are we passing along to our children?

It is important for each family to know and understand their values, but more importantly where these values came from. Some people grew up in homes where expensive gifts were given with little regard towards being able to afford it, while other people grew up in homes where fellowship and a simple hand written card would more than suffice. Once we become aware of the things we bring to the table, the more insight we can develop towards the traditions and values we want to teach our children.

So, during this Christmas season, reflect on what is important to you and make a conscientious decision to set that example. Let’s remember that giving is an art; spend time with your family and loved ones, give someone a kind word, help someone in need or even a small gift, because it is the combination of these gestures that captures the true spirit of the Christmas season.

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