What to Expect at the Mother of All Baby Showers

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Mother of All Baby ShowersIt’s hard to believe that 15 years ago TODAY, my first baby was born. HB is fully into her teens and teaching more about being a parent and a better person than I could ever imagine. And not to mention, allowing me to hone my skills in patience, anger management and improving my sense of humor as I experience life through the eyes of a teen in the year 2017.  Boy, new parents are in for the most wonderful, crazy ride of their lives! Which leads me to share info about an event I was invited to attend last week for new and soon to be mothers as a local blogger. I think when I started sharing pics from the event I gave a few of my friends a scare! But, while it definitely wasn’t my personal demographic – it was a good opportunity for me to see how this particular generation finds out about products, connects with others and enters into this exciting phase of life.

Aveda Tysons Corner - MOABS When I arrived to the MOABS Luxe and checked in, I was given an awesome VIP gift that included a Baby K’tan diaper bag filled with lots of stuff including a Baby Jack & Company lovey! I was then told to go and HAVE FUN! And boy did I! There is something really special about being around couples who are at the start of this magic. Their energy is contagious and they are so happy! I loved being around them…

My first stop was the AVEDA table (of course!), where I was treated to a nice, stress relieving shoulder massage using some amazing smelling Aveda oils. The staff at the table were the nicest and since I love Aveda products already, I did snag a limited edition candle Light The Way that smells Aveda Light The Wayamazing! And for those that know about Aveda, know that they are definitely a cause based company that believes in giving back. The candle is 12 bucks and all the proceeds go to help bring clean drinking water to people in Madagascar. From their site: “This year’s limited-edition aroma features certified organic vanilla, cinnamon and ylang ylang from Madagascar, where we’ve helped fund water systems for 10,000 people.” So, I helped others and got a yummy shoulder massage within the first 15 minutes of my arrival, I would say that the event was off to a great start, so I moved on…

Next up, I was greeted with food, drinks and a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN! I mean – COME ON, Now! The drinks included one of my favorites – La Croix Sparkling Water. A table full of La Croix water – all flavors. I love sparking water so this was another win for me! Fully fed, chocolated up and hydrated, it was time to enter the big room. The room with the different vendors, displays and where the speakers were going to drop their knowledge.  I kept thinking about how things have advanced since I had HB and Nate Dogg. Technology has improved so many aspects of parenting gear. I felt oddly unprepared even though I have successfully raised two kids myself…


Chocolate Fountain - MOABSLa Croix Water - MOABs

 Dorie Howell Photography

First stop in the main room was to visit Dorie Howell Photography. Her table displayed all of her amazing photos. I asked her a few questions about her photography, including her camera brand of choice (Canon!). She mentioned she has been photographing babies for quite some time and does do families and other portraits as well. Her photos were gorgeous and you can tell she connects with the people she photographs. She also mentions many times she doesn’t require much post production work either – which is pretty impressive if you look at her photos.  And in a small world coincidence, I shared her pic out during the event over Instagram and a dear friend of mine left a comment that Dorie is a dear family friend of hers! You never know who you will meet and we all are 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon for sure!

randy Cakes - MOABSI walked around the event for a bit and then it was time to hear the keynote speaker Maria Bailey share her thoughts. She shared some really great ideas about blogging and becoming a Mom Influencer which is what she specializes in. I really enjoyed listening to her advice and will be sharing some of what I took away from her opening remarks soon in another blog post. As a fellow marketing, influencer and blogger – it’s always interesting to hear how others make their way and the trends that I need to adapt to. After she spoke, I went and introduced myself and we chatted a bit about my experience and some of the challenges I have found working with brands and companies – one of which is to prove to them how important it is to reach out to influencers and use social media even if it doesn’t bring in direct sales!

http://www.madebymothernurture.com/I made my way around to each of the tables – talking a bit to the vendors and sampling and inspecting their products. They had a great baker Randy Cakes who offered delicious cupcakes (I brought them home for my “baby” HB and she gave them a thumbs up) and Mother Nuture, who make refreshing flavored waters and delicious chocolate truffles containing some of the essential nutrients that moms and their babies need like folic acid, DHA, Protein, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and choline. The ingredients in each of their nutrient blends work in harmony with prenatal vitamins and are made with all natural ingredients, nothing artificial. Now, no one in my house is pregnant but I loved the water and my husband and kids loved the truffles!

The event went on for a few hours with different guest speakers talking about car seat safety, pre-schools, cribs, baby stuff and more. And there were really terrific raffles after each speaker (think Cribs, gift sets of Aveda products, High End Car Seats) I even ran into a former coworker of mine, Heidi, who blogs at Boys on a Budget! I haven’t seen her in almost 20 years, so that was a huge bonus! It was a great night – stepping outside of my comfort zone, meeting new folks, re-connecting with others and finding out about some amazing products geared towards new Moms!

 

The World Needs More Inspirational Leaders

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The World Needs More Inspirational LeadersI’m once again on the hunt for career opportunities. After almost two years, my long term contract with a magazine publisher for younger kids has come to an end. It’s part of the drawback of being a contractor – no notice, no severance. Just – “hey, yeah, um we aren’t going to renew your contract that ends like TODAY.” But with all experiences, I have learned so much about so many things, including what makes a good inspirational leader.

In all fairness, my boss tried her best to get them to renew. She has been wonderful and I’ve loved working with her and the small marketing team. I made some real, strong friendships. What I didn’t like was the lack of true leadership that permeated throughout the company. No one took ownership or set a clear vision for the company. I would be in meetings and when pressed to make a decision, everyone in the room shrugged, unable to make the final call. How can anyone make progress and move forward if no one is at the helm?

The phrase, “Let’s try this again, just so we can check it off the list as things we have tried that don’t work, so the bosses feel satisfied” was repeated time and time again.

Everyone at the company was kind and polite, but the company lacked any sort of internal culture. The company has not been doing well for years. The owners have way too much expendable income on their hands and keep funneling money into it for whatever reason – only known to them.  And because they lacked funds, they were unable or unwilling to infuse innovation, inspiration and fun into their corporate culture.

What I realized towards the end of my contract was this: It’s not the kind of place I want to work. While it did meet a few of the things I am looking for, it was missing a key factor: Inspirational Leadership. 

What makes an inspirational leader? 

We all have different ideas of leadership, but I bet that there are some traits that almost everyone can agree on.  In my never ending quest of improving my own experiences, here are 6 traits that I have found make a leader successful and inspirational:

  1. They have a VISION.
    You may not completely agree with it, but you trust them enough to help them achieve it.
  2. They get to KNOW THEIR PEOPLE.
    I’ve been managed by far too many that never take the time get to know who works for them. No wonder they end up not trusting them or empowering them. You don’t trust people you don’t know.
  3. They have PASSION.
    The people that others want to follow are hungry for what they do. They go after things with gusto.
  4. They come to work with an OPEN-MIND.
    Surrounding yourself with yes men is never a good idea. The leaders that succeed are open to other’s opinions and do not shoot down someone challenging their ideas.
  5. They keep LEARNING.
    They understand how important it is to encourage learning for everyone, including themselves. We all have plenty to learn.
  6. They are PERSONABLE.
    You can probably point out a few leaders who lack the ability to really connect with others, but for the most part – a true, successful leader is someone you like to be in the room with. They make you laugh, draw you in, challenge you to think. They have charisma.

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As I look for the next career opportunity, this experience has taught me to much about the importance of good leadership and has made me that much smarter about what to look for and what to accept.

Keep Learning my Friends…and if you have any leads in the marketing/social media consulting realm – let me know!

Dogs are Awesome: Their Amazing Health Benefits

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Dogs are Awesome: Their Amazing Health BenefitsDogs are amazing and awesome

Last night, I watched this video: A dog’s remarkable journey to find a home: A distance of 6,455 miles doesn’t begin to measure the journey one dog made to join a team and find a family (video below) and I literally sat there crying for a few minutes after the video was over. What a special bond some dogs develop with their people. But even more than the companionship and love they give, dogs are good for your overall health.

Here are just a few of the many benefits:

  • Dogs are heart healthy According to the British Journal of Medicine, dog owners tend to have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, fewer heart attacks, and have fewer medical problems than those without pets.
  • Dogs help boost your mood Hanging out with your pooch can make you more calm and raises your brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin, the mood chemicals in your body!
  • Dogs get you moving Dog owners tend to exercise more by taking walks and running around with their doggies.
  • Dogs help boost kids’ immune systems According to Science Daily, kids who grow up with dogs have fewer allergies and are less likely to have eczema. They also are exposed to more dirt!
  • Dogs teach responsibility and commitment Caring for a dog is a major commitment and requires patience. It’s a 24/7, 365 day commitment.
  • They can detect health issues In addition to sniffing out cancer, dogs can also be trained to identify seizures, severe allergies, and other health issues.

Shannen Doherty Says Her German Shepherd Was The First To Detect Her Cancer

 

Dogs are Awesome

And while not directly related to health, but definitely affects a person’s overall well-being: DOGS REALLY CAN TELL IF SOMEONE IS A BAD PERSON

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Dog quote

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month Which Means I Run a 5K

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I’ve been taking some time off from blogging in case you haven’t noticed. I haven’t taken a planned break for years and wanted to reset. I’ve always blogged for the passion of it. To be able to share my own struggles, experiences, successes and hard work and have it help someone else – that’s my goal. That’s what inspires and motivates me. Learning about how others have succeeded has helped me throughout the years without a doubt. I don’t like to blog out of obligation and I guess that’s why I took a break.  I just didn’t feel like writing. But, here I am again…

A few updates from the past month or so to catch everyone up:

I’ve been living large all Fall and Winter long. Not really paying attention to what I’m eating and like so many of us – hearing my inner voice tell me I shouldn’t be eating with abandon. And I have noticed that my lack of attention has slowly started to show on my body. So, when Wayne, my trainer, mentioned that we needed to start weighing me in again – because Spring/Summer is coming – it hit me like a ton of bricks. Oh SHIT. What? Why? Why? Really? Ugh…

I’ve been getting back in the swing of things with making sure I am getting enough protein and limiting the crap I’m eating. Exercise isn’t my issue. It’s CARBS. I love CARBS and sugar! Sign..

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month - Scope It OutAs many of you know, my silver fox of a husband, Scotty was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age 37, so it’s a cause that hits so close to home that it is my home!  March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Colon Cancer is survivable if it’s caught early, so know the signs and symptoms.

One again, Team Hoagie’s Heroes will be running the 2017 Washington DC Scope It Out 5K at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC on March 19th,  We are celebrating Scotty’s 9th year colon cancer free. (He was diagnosed in July 2008).  If you can, join us or support our Hoagie’s Heroes Team in Scope It Out with a tax-deductible donation.

With that said, I am beyond touched by the kindness of so many people that I have met. I have received donations from some wonderful, awesome unexpected people. It blows me away and truly warms my heart that the people around me are the best people in the world. Not that I had any doubt. I appreciate all the donations from everyone but here is a story that totally made me cry.

Title Boxing started last month having a monthly campaign whereas for every check in on Facebook, they donate a dollar to a charity. The person with the most check-ins for the month gets to choose the charity.  I always check in as a matter of practice and I guess I was in the lead for a while.  I had no idea, but a fellow boxer Donna saw my post on Facebook about supporting Team Hoagie’s Heroes.  So, she set out to win the check in challenge and to surprise me, she picked my fundraising effort to donate to. When I sent her a note thanking her, she said,

I saw your post about the 5k a couple of weeks ago and then heard that you and I were in a close race for the check-ins. I felt it was the perfect way to honor you and your husband. I am honored to be supporting you in some small way.

How seriously kind and awesome was that? I’m blown away. I have met Donna a few times, maybe and yet – she did this. Now, that’s a stand-up person.

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Be Enthusiastic about Others

Reading Should Be Without Rules

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Reading Without RulesAbout a year and half ago, I decided to start reading before I went to bed every night. I had long given up reading anything more than a magazine or a quick web article and realized I missed having some quiet, yet productive time each day. I don’t really have any sort of rules about what I read — and when I don’t feel like starting something new, I reread one of my favorite Outlander books. (I love them!)  I prefer reading books that help me escape into new worlds and experience different lives – Escape Fiction. Some people think that we shouldn’t read to escape reality. I’m not on board with that — sometimes a great story is the only thing that helps you hold on. Recently, I came across this quote:

“reading books is a waste of time if you don’t let them change you. If books really are “portals” then they should leave you somewhere you weren’t when you finish them. Somewhere enlightened.”  

My take: Read because you want to — no rules, no parameters. Read because you love it, you enjoy a story, relate to characters, it helps you cope with whatever is going on in your life, you love reading the written word. READ with no rules! I think reading changes you whether you are cognizant of it or not.

And turns out it’s healthy for you:

I loved this recent article about President Obama, who said reading helped him survive the White House.

“…talked about the indispensable role that books have played during his presidency and throughout his life — from his peripatetic and sometimes lonely boyhood, when “these worlds that were portable” provided companionship, to his youth when they helped him to figure out who he was, what he thought and what was important.”

When Breath Becomes Air

 

I just finished a book that has stayed with me, When Breath Becomes Air. It’s a non-fiction autobiographical book written by Paul Kalanithi, about his life and illness, battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer. It’s a quick read that packs a powerful punch. Sad, poignant, introspective — all words to describe it. I went back and reread parts after I was done because I wanted to feel the feelings again after reading the closing chapter which was written by his wife, Lucy.

Blood Donation: An Easy and Important Way to Give Back

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Donate Blood: It Saves LivesIt’s always been important for me to do some sort of charity regularly but I made a deal with myself to go outside of my norm and give back in different ways this year and do it at least monthly. So with that in mind, I read a Facebook call out that blood donation was needed and that they were especially in need of type O.

I happen to be Type O+.

Type O+ blood is important because it is the most common blood type (1 in 3 people have it) and therefore is needed most. It is what maintains the country’s blood supply. So, I checked online to see if I could make an appointment to donate and sure enough, there was an appointment available nearby. Here’s where I went: Inova Blood Donor Services

You can choose to donate plasma and platelets, but I opted for a whole blood donation. There was a dude there donating platelets and you could tell it was quite a process and takes some time.

After filling out the paperwork, I was taken into a little office and asked some general follow up questions. Then my blood pressure was taken and my finger was pricked to get some blood to check my iron levels. All was good, so I headed to the blood donation lounge chair area. There, the person taking my blood looked for a good vein – found one and got me all set up and the blood flowing. I’m not that squeamish around needles – my strategy is as long as I don’t look while they are sticking me – I’m good to go.  I did have two babies after all!

Here are a few things to know before you go…

  1. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, work out beforehand. The person who took my blood explained that many times if a person comes in after a workout, they are dehydrated and it’s not only harder to get blood from them, the patient could end up not feeling so good.  Good to know, since I did indeed go in after a boxing workout!
  2. Bring ID. You will have to fill out some quick paperwork and they will need to see your ID.
  3. Make an appointment. I do believe that they will take walk ins but if you make an appointment, the entire process is not that long. At least when I went yesterday – from start to finish it took less than 30 mins.
  4. Bring your own Post Donation Snack if you have Restrictions. They strongly encourage you to stick around their cafe area and enjoy a snack and a drink. It’s to ensure you don’t faint or have other strange side effects from the donation. The ‘cafe’ was stocked with high sugar, processed foods though. I just happened to have a protein bar in my purse that I ate. The fridge was full of fruit juices and water. I opted for water.  Not a judgement, just a good to know…
  5. Post blood donation, take it easy. Drink lots of water and refrain from strenuous exercise or lifting heavy. Ha!

Blood Donation MattersThat’s it – 30 minutes from start to finish. I feel fine today and feel even better because I know I am helping someone, somewhere. If you can, donate! It’s an easy way to give back on a regular basis.

BTW: I donated in honor and memory of Mathias Giordano. Their family has set up a Team Mathias sponsor code 8164 so anyone can donate in his memory & for all the kids who have been affected by cancer.

 

Bone Conduction Headphones: Are they right for you?

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Aftershokz HeadphonesMy brother recently told me about these cool headphones that use bone conduction to transmit the sound, sending the vibrations straight into the top of your jaw and from there to your inner ear and brain. The company, Aftershokz, originally started making bone conduction headphones for the military and now they are offering them to the public. After hearing how much my brother loved them, I went to the website, checked them out and ordered the Trekz Titanium Wireless model. Here’s what the website has to say about this particular model…

“The lightweight and comfortable Trekz Titanium wireless stereo headphones are the safest alternative to traditional sport headphones and earbuds. Bone conduction technology, an open ear design and a suite of convenient features deliver premium music play and crystal clear calling without compromise. Designed with athletes in mind, Trekz Titanium are sweatproof, secure, and will allow you to hear your surroundings – no matter where life takes you.”

They arrived late last week and so far, I am loving them.  They don’t have crystal clear sound quality (you compete with outside noise after all)– and that’s ok with me. I love that I can wear them comfortably and still hear things around me. And they are comfortable. I have found that after a while with regular headphones that go in your ear, i have to move them around because they become uncomfortable. These fit nicely on the outside of the ear, and I haven’t really needed to readjust them that much as I move around. They are bluetooth and rechargeable. So far, I have gone 2-3 days without having to recharge them.

And you know what else? It uses cool new technology. THEY ARE COOL! 

Should You Try These Headphones?

If you run a lot outside with music and always leave one side of your headphones out so you can hear around you, these headphones are for you! Or the kind of active person who likes to hear what’s going on around you in general, go for these! If you are a audiophile and into really super crystal clear sound or are the type of person who puts your headphones on and zones out from the world around you – these are probably not going to be the right headphones for you right now. With technology constantly improving, that could change… so, keep your eye on the space because who knows, the next iteration could address those issues.

By the way: I was not asked to share info on these headphones. I just ordered them independently and really like them.  I will revisit my thoughts about them in a month to follow up on how well they have performed.

Want even more info? Here’s a good recap of these headphones from The Verge: Are bone conduction headphones good enough yet?

Aftershokz

Image by Aftershokz

 

Help! The Digital World is Taking Over Our Lives

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I rarely watch videos from start to end when they are more than a few min long, but the other day this one: Simon Sinek speaking about Millennials in the workplace of today, caught my attention and has really stuck with me. I have had to learn how to manage millennials and work with them in my day to day life. They are definitely a different generation than the GenX I am a part of.

Simon brings up so many good points about why they are the way they are — but his points don’t only apply to the Millennial generation. So many of us are addicted to our devices. We don’t leave home without them, we sit down at the table with them right beside us, we bring them to meetings – we are attached to these devices night and day. I remember having to sit for Jury Duty and the first thing I thought –WTF I can’t bring my phone or iPad while I wait? What am I going to do?? (I ended up running into an old friend and we chatted the time away and I wasn’t chosen so I got to leave early – so it all worked out.)

 

 

I went to Wegmans earlier this week and after watching this video, I stood in line and purposely left my phone at my side but what did I see all around me? Everyone else was on their phones waiting for their lane to checkout. Sinek is so spot on – we are losing the moments of connection, the moments that lead to an idea, innovation. We are so busy looking down at our phones, we miss out on all the opportunities to connect with others – known and unknown.  We need to look up more. I’m not in the camp that devices are evil – but they have all but taken over our lives. We are rarely disconnected, our kids are viewing celebrity lives through filtered lenses, heck, we see our own community through filters.  It does affect people –good and bad.

I wonder how hard it would be for all of us to do a digital cleanse? Maybe it would do us all good especially now that Trump will be in office soon and with him, comes a lot of propaganda, fake news and sensationalism.

Have you done a digital cleanse? Let me know —

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Do Not Confuse Motion with Progress

There’s No Escaping Getting Older

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Carrie Fisher quoteAs if hearing about George Michael’s passing wasn’t enough, now Carrie Fisher has died too. If you grew up in the 80’s, like I did, you have noticed that many of our childhood heroes and iconic figures are dying. Nancy Reagan, Prince, Bowie, Ali to name a few. I wonder if this is the beginning of our generation starting to feel old…

Carrie Fisher was Princess Leia in Star Wars- and if you know my family, Scotty’s favorite thing is STAR WARS. Beyond that, she was an author, comedienne and lent her voice to help to remove the stigma of mental illness- sharing that she was bi-polar.  It’s no secret she had led a pretty hard life  — and it eventually catches up to you, I guess.

It’s another reason why taking care of ourselves is so important. We aren’t spring chickens anymore. We can’t pass for kids in our 20s. We are getting old.  Just last night, Scott and I hit up the new MGM Casino at the National Harbor for his birthday. As we were walking into the casino, with our IDs ready for inspection, what happens? The security guard says – Ma’am you can go on through. No ID check, no humor me and look at the damn thing, nothing and he added a Ma’am to boot. What’s next?  Reading glasses!!!??

I realize there is no escaping getting older, so why do I, like so many others. fear it or live in constant denial that it’s happening? I don’t have an answer, but here are some articles to read for insight…

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Just Enjoy Today

Goodbye George Michael

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George Michael - QuoteAnother cultural icon passes away too soon. George Michael was a huge part of my growing up. His music was a constant as I grew up in the 80s and early 90s. We have lost so many greats in music this year -Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael…

Do you remember how controversial his song “I want your Sex” was? How it was obvious he was gay but wouldn’t publicly admit it because back then –artists didn’t talk about it. My how times have changed. I was trying to explain this whole thing to HB and she just looked at me like I was crazy. His music is so uncontroversial compared to what is put out today — but back in the 80s and 90s, he was blazing new trails and pumping out the hits.

This has been a rough year in so many ways – Politically, in the Pop Culture sphere, and around the World. I am sure I’m not the only one who is ready to put a pin in 2016 and call it a year. I’m not one to wish away time – but it’s been tough.

What do you think of the quote I included by George Michael? That “because of the media, the way the world is perceived is as a place where resources and time are running out?”  I agree  that our sense of normal has been skewed by the constant barrage of media images, today more than ever. It’s information overload and much of it is not accurate. It’s no surprise that the younger generation is having a rough time deciphering real from fake news. Do we even know what’s real anymore?

I know it’s the holiday season and things are supposed to be merry and bright, but that isn’t real either. There are a lot of people who are more depressed, alone and lonely during this time of year than any other — so, I want to suggest to everyone out there, let’s be kinder, more tolerant of one another and make decisions with the best of intentions. You never know what someone is going through or what might happen – so start at home, with yourself.

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Merry Everything and a happy always

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