Our 2013 Joy-Inducing Plan

In modern families it can be difficult to not allow the pitfalls to consume you and/or define you and your family. However, if you make a committment to choose joy, it will give you a new perspective on life. Changing your mindset can truly change the dynamics of your complicated family and surprisingly, it doesn’t begin with focusing on your family’s problems. It begins with focusing on you! Below is our joy-inducing plan that will help you choose joy, thereby making your family more joyful as well.

Get Moving

Do some sort of exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. It can be walking, jogging, pilates, yoga or zumba. Studies show that exercise not only gives you energy but releases natural endorphins that leave you feeling healthy, strong, and happy.

Stop Comparing

I know that social media is supposed to keep us connected, but sometimes it can be a curse. While it’s okay to visit blogs to gain support from others in similiar situations, you still must take everything with a grain of salt. Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s because everyone’s journey is different. Instead compare your journey (if you must compare) to where you and your family were a year ago as opposed to now.

Start Forgiving

Replaying the hurt that someone imposed on us (often many moons ago) over an over again is bad for your health! Studies show that that kind of rumination is linked to anxiety, depression, stress and heart disease. Let go of the hurt and remember forgiveness is for you!

Start Helping

It’s no secret that shifting the focus from your problems to someone else’s truly increases your own happiness. Find a cause that’s dear to you and volunteer. It will not only make a difference in someone else’s life, it will make a difference in yours as well.

Girlfriend Time

Again, social media (facebook, twitter, Skype…) can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because it keeps us from connecting face to face. Humans thrive off of human touch (a hug, a kiss on the cheek, a touch of the hand…) and unfortunately, you can’t do that online. So, from time to time, grab your BFF or somebody’s BFF and have coffee, grab a bite to eat, or go for a walk and talk.

Have Sex

Quit telling your husband you have a headache and just go ahead and give him some already. Studies have proven that sex reduces anxiety and depression and just being touched in a sensitive area can increase those feelings of joy throughout the next day.

Fake it Until You Make It

Did you know that facial movements can actually trigger physiological responses? When you smile, even when you don’t feel like it, your brain gets confused and tells itself, “I’m smiling, so I must be happy.” By that same token, if you walk around with a frown all the time, it can have the opposite effect. So. put a smile on your face, whether you feel like it or not.

Plan Fun on a Regular Basis

A wise older woman (she was 91 years of age to be exact) told me that her secret to living a long, happy life was always having something to look forward to. This something can be as simple as game night with the girls, date night with your hubby, a night of a relaxing bubble bath and some soft jazz music, etc. Whatever the case may be, make sure you plan these little jolts of fun and put it on your calendar. Research shows that looking forward to future fun and actually seeing it on your calendar (no matter how small) can give you an immediate boost.

 

 

 

The Friends/Family Balance

This article was first published by Cynthia Hanson of Life and Beauty Weekly

The Beatles got it right: You can get by with a little help from your friends. Trouble is it’s tough to get their support if you don’t see them! So what to do when you haven’t had a girls’ night out in ages or your job leaves you feeling like you don’t have energy for your loved ones? Make a plan to get your life in a balance that includes both friends and family.

“Research shows that maintaining friendships increases longevity and boosts the immune system,” says Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C., and author of The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing and Keeping up With Your Friends. “But it’s hard for many women to prioritize friendships because they don’t seem as crucial as our families, jobs and responsibilities.” Follow this stress-less plan to strike a better balance and stay connected with all the important people in your life.

1. Don’t settle for Facebook newsfeeds.

“Me” time is vital to self-care — and self-care is crucial to staying in balance and having the energy you need for your family. “Give yourself permission to talk on the phone with a friend or do something fun together — even if you have to plan it four weeks in advance,” says Bonior. “You may feel like you keep up with friends over Facebook, but you’re not getting the same emotional connection when you’re clicking and commenting on links. You need more sustained, face-to-face contact or voice contact.”

2. Keep family time separate.

Does your friend always call when you’re getting your preschooler ready for bed? Or when you and your husband are trying to relax after dinner? Solution: Be assertive and set boundaries.

“It’s OK to screen your calls and tell friends that your evenings are family time,” says Joyce Marter, a psychotherapist and owner of Urban Balance LLC, a multisite counseling practice in Chicago. Let friends know when you’re free to dish — perhaps on your lunch hour or before you leave work. That way you won’t miss their latest news or your game of Monopoly with the kids.

3. Set a standing date.

It’s hard to coordinate a meet-up with a friend when your kids’ activities keep you hopping and chores keep you busy on weekends. Choose a day and time that fit your lifestyles and workloads — perhaps coffee at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, or brunch on the third Sunday of every month. Then stick to it, just as you would stick to a spinning class.

“Standing dates are also a good way to get a group of three or four friends together,” says Bonior. “It gets drilled into your brain that it’s something you want to do and should do.” Plus, by having it on your calendar, you’ll avoid all the back-and-forth “When are you free?” texts.

4. Be flexible.

Not big on breakfast, but 8:00 a.m. is the only time your friend is free? Take one for the team and nibble a bagel anyway. What counts is getting together — and it’s a guaranteed mood-booster. “When you connect and laugh with a friend, you know you’re not alone in dealing with life’s challenges,” says Marter.

5. Think small.

Back in the day, you lingered together over martinis and escaped to luxury spas. But those gal-pal outings aren’t realistic right now when you’re busy with family matters. So settle for close encounters of the quick kind. It’s better to squeeze in 45-minute lunch dates between client meetings than to have no F2F time at all!

Be Attitudes for Living a Happy Life

“Hap­pi­ness is a spir­i­tual path. The more you learn about true hap­pi­ness, the more you dis­cover the truth of who you are, what is impor­tant, and what your life is for.” — Robert Holden, Author of Be Happy!

Hap­pi­ness used to be one of those top­ics that not only I shied away from, but also believed that it just wasn’t going to be a part of my jour­ney. Thank­fully those self-fulfilling days of despair are over and I now know that happiness—just like any­thing else in life—is a mal­leable state of mind that can be learned.

Although some of us are born into the world smil­ing, oth­ers like myself have had to learn (and unlearn) cer­tain tech­niques and habits so that hap­pi­ness can be a part of our nat­ural lives. As I under­stand more about my Self and dis­cover who I really am I also rec­og­nize that hap­pi­ness is mine for the choosing.

Below are a few of the atti­tudes and habits I’ve cul­ti­vated over the years that I believe are key to liv­ing a happy life.

Be Authen­tic

Being authen­tic is about being who we really are with oth­ers. Authen­tic­ity is what helps us live life to our fullest poten­tial. It is also an essen­tial ingre­di­ent to find­ing hap­pi­ness within ourselves.

Liv­ing an authen­tic life ulti­mately opens us up to being in har­mony with our true Self so that we can ulti­mately dis­cover who we really are. And, the more true you are to your­self, the hap­pier you will be.

Be Know­ing

Knowl­edge doesn’t have to always resem­ble books and infor­ma­tion. How­ever, when it comes to being happy, know­ing what makes you smile and light up is extremely important.

For me, being cre­ative, spend­ing qual­ity time with close loved ones, and shar­ing what I’m learn­ing with oth­ers makes me happy. What makes you happy could be some­thing entirely different.

Ulti­mately it’s about find­ing the joy within your­self. Accord­ing to hap­pi­ness expert Dr. Robert Holden, direc­tor of The Hap­pi­ness Project, you feel the hap­pi­est when you begin to know who you truly are. “The rea­son why we’re so inter­ested in hap­pi­ness is because we want to have an expe­ri­ence of our true self.”

Be Grate­ful

“We tend to for­get that hap­pi­ness doesn’t come as a result of get­ting some­thing we don’t have, but rather of rec­og­niz­ing and appre­ci­at­ing what we do have.”— Fred­er­ick Keonig, Co-inventor of the Print­ing Press

As sim­ple as it sounds, grat­i­tude breeds happiness.

Peo­ple who have an atti­tude of grat­i­tude lead hap­pier and health­ier lives than those who don’t because grat­i­tude forces us to over­come what psy­chol­o­gists call the “neg­a­tiv­ity bias”—the ten­dency to dwell on prob­lems, annoy­ances, and life’s lit­tle injustices.

By focussing on the good parts of life—the things that we are thank­ful for—we are con­di­tion­ing our­selves to fos­ter­ing a pos­i­tive atti­tude and a healthy sense of well-being which is what hap­pi­ness is all about.

Be Com­pas­sion­ate

Any­time I think about hap­pi­ness or com­pas­sion the first thought that comes to mind is the Dalai Lama.

Hav­ing had the chance to be taught by him while I was in Wis­con­sin a few years back and hear him speak on the impor­tance of prac­tic­ing com­pas­sion with our­selves and oth­ers, I was pro­foundly changed by the expe­ri­ence and have become more com­pas­sion­ate as a result. As the Dalai Lama teaches:

“The great­est degree of inner tran­quil­ity comes from the devel­op­ment of love and com­pas­sion. The more we care for the hap­pi­ness of oth­ers, the greater is our own sense of well-being.” — Ten­zin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

It is true that by car­ing for the well-being of oth­ers, you auto­mat­i­cally increase your own level of happiness.

Be For­giv­ing

“To for­give is the high­est, most beau­ti­ful form of love. In return, you will receive untold peace and hap­pi­ness.” — Robert Muller, World Peace and Hap­pi­ness Guru

While the tools, tech­niques, and “be atti­tudes” for hap­pi­ness are valu­able, the most impor­tant of these is for­give­ness. Con­tin­u­ally being in a state of prac­tic­ing for­give­ness allows you to move past resent­ment, hate, fear, and inad­e­quacy while step­ping into the mind-frame of love.

Happy peo­ple learn from their expe­ri­ences, pains, dis­ap­point­ments, and are able to fully expe­ri­ence all the joy life has to offer.

For­give­ness may not be an easy task—in fact, it’s one of the most dif­fi­cult ones to practice—nonetheless, it is a sim­ple one and one worth mastering.

Tips to Grow By

Hap­pi­ness isn’t a reward, it’s part of the jour­ney and it is com­pletely attain­able. Sci­en­tists and psy­chol­o­gists have even dis­cov­ered that our brains have a cer­tain level of plas­tic­ity which allow them to be com­pletely trans­formable and capa­ble of change if we so choose.

How­ever, choos­ing to be happy is more that just a choice, it’s a con­scious deci­sion that only you can make for your­self. By being authen­tic, grate­ful, for­giv­ing, and focus­ing on the pos­i­tive things in life, you will be lead to greater hap­pi­ness.

And as Abra­ham Lin­coln once said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” So, make up your mind to be happy and start liv­ing a hap­pier life today.

About Aisha Quinece

“How am I making the world a better place?” is a question I ask myself almost on a daily basis. As a wife, mother, designer, writer, and teacher, actively enriching the lives of others is a responsibility that I take seriously. Supplying you with practical ways to “Create Your Life” is what my blog, www.AishaQuinece.com, is all about. So, check it out, visit me on Facebook, follow me Twitter, and get started creating your life today!

Diane’s Shepherd’s Pie

TMF Readers, today, for some reason, I have been doing a lot of reflecting.  Reflecting on my childhood and my grandparents and for some odd reason, one thing I could not stop thinking about was the food that I remember being prepared in my mom’s kitchen.  My mom was a single mother from the time I was 10 until the time I was out of high school.  She worked long, hard hours and didn’t make much  money.  We lived on a strict budget but us kids never missed a meal.  She cooked the best she knew how and today, I want to share my “kicked up” version of her Shepherd’s Pie.   I changed it around a bit in order to spruce it up a bit and I actually prepared it tonight for my  mom.   By the way, she loved it and so did my children and husband.  I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

12 potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
3 large cloves of garlic
1-1/2 pounds of ground beef
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. Ketchup
3/4 cup of beef broth
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:

Boil potatoes and garlic in boiling water until tender.  Brown ground beef, stir in flour and cook 1 minute.  Add mixed vegetables, broth and ketchup.  Cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Heat oven to 350 degrees; drain potatoes, return to pan.  Add sour cream; mash until potatoes are smooth and mixture is well blended. 

Put meat mixture into a 10×13 inch glass pan; cover with potatoes.  Bake for 15 minute sand then top with remaining cheese and bake until cheese is melted. 

Enjoy!

Today’s Modern Family Holiday Gift Guide

Changing houses and mixing traditions is just part of the stress that comes with the whole stepfamily territory during the holidays. Christmas shopping, if you both come into the marriage with kids and have kids of your own, can get really expensive. Not to mention that some blended families exchange gifts with ex-spouses, their new spouses and their kids, too and don’t forget about aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, stepgrandparents…! Whew! So while pondering some ways to cut holiday expenses, one of my favorite modern day( S)Mamas, Danielle, offered the idea of re-gifting and said that she even plans to try it this year.

“Re-gifting is also another cost-effective gift giving option and something my sister-in-law was infamous for. If you receive something that doesn’t suit your tastes, you have no purpose for, or that you already have; instead of possibly offending the person who gave it to you by asking for a gift receipt to return it for something else, you simply give it to someone else you think it would be better for (think the holiday fruitcake pass-along taken to the next level:-). It’s kind of sneaky and some might see it as disrespectful but it’s always the thought behind the gift that counts and better that gift go to someone who will love it than keep it for yourself and have it stashed away collecting dust,” said Danielle.

She went on to explain that you have to be VERY careful when going this route. You have to make sure to keep track so that you don’t wind up giving it back to the giver. Imagine the horror of giving the gift and have the receiver say ‘oh!! remember when I got you one of these last year?!?!’ Yikes!! It’s a good option, however, with gifts you receive from people who live out of town or for giving to those who live out of town, and even better when the initial giver doesn’t know and/or has limited to no contact with the eventual receiver.

Well we were so impressed by the idea of recycling gifts and cutting your holiday expenses that we thought we share a few of our recycled gift ideas with all of you.

Model Train Set: Train sets, if taken care of, can last a long time and is really good recycled gift idea for children. For example, you could pass it along to a younger cousin.

kidstrainset1

Books: From a collection of children’s Dr. Seuss books to old classics or self-help books, like Martha Stewart’s “Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook; books are great and thoughtful ideas.

marthastewartbook2

Champagne Glasses:  If you’re anything like my husband and I, you may have received duplicate wedding gifts that you just never got around to returning.  So, if you still have those champagne glasses, picture frames or a toaster, consider re-gifting it.

champagneglasses1

Neckties:My husband has about 100 neckties or so because for some reason, most people buy a father a tie or a wallet for just about every occasion.  They are a fantastic recycled gift idea for men.

necktie

Video Games: Instead of selling those video games that your son or daughter only played one time to Gamestop, consider giving it to another family member or family friend for Christmas this year.

madden09

Baby Items: I had a baby 7 months ago and I have a swing that my baby boy barely used, a bassinet that he never used and tons of clothes with the tags still on them. Any friend or family that is expecting a baby is getting some of my baby items this year. Baby clothes, bottle warmers, monitors, and baby furniture are excellent recycled gifts ideas.

bassinet

Are You an Anger Junkie?

momfrustratedI was watching the MoNique Show the other night; one of the rare occasions when I’m actually awake (it comes on at 11pm) and happened to catch it. In her opening comedic monologue she talked about being an “Anger Junkie.” Now of course she put her comedic spin on the term and had me cracking up, but as I pondered on the term I realized that there was a lot of truth to her jokes. 

We all get angry of course and I think getting angry can sometimes be beneficial. If you supress your feelings for too long and then release the anger, your anger explodes in a way that leaves you with the feeling of regret. Simply put, bottled up anger affects your judgement.  Acknowleding your anger and dealing with it before you explode increases your chances for controlled anger. The bottled up anger turns into habitual anger (you’re just mad all the time – sometimes without jusitification) and this is what leads to becoming an anger junkie.

Often times when we talk to a remarried couple, husband will say something like, “She’s just mad all the time and I don’t know why,” or “She just nags me and the kids all the time.” I say to myself – yep, she’s an anger junkie. Because stepmoms are taught to keep it bottled in due to the  fear of being labeled as wicked, that anger seeps out over a period of time in different forms (habitual anger).

According to Dr. Steven Stosny, a therapist who treats people for anger and relationship problems, problem anger is habitual — habits run on automatic pilot, processed in the brain much faster than conscious awareness. You are never aware of most of your resentment or anger; by the time you know you’re resentful or angry, it’s already in an advanced state. He further explains how  the jolt of energy you get at any level of anger works like an amphetamine or “speed.” Anger junkies use this jolt of energy frequently in response to an emotional need. For example, they only feel confident when they’re angry, or anger is a response to their anxiety or they use it to enforce a sense of entitlement. These anger junkies who act like bullies. They are hurt so they go overboard to make sure you hurt as well. They feel less confident about themselves, so they put you down to feel more confident. They get upset because you disagree with their opinions and as a result, “making you pay” consumes them.

Is there treatment for ange junkies? Dr. Stosny says that effective treatment for problem anger cannot merely reduce the emotional feelings or arousal of anger; it must restore a state of self-value that is more stable than whatever lowered it, which will replace the habit of blaming with a motivation to improve. And it has to do it fast.

Are you an anger junkie? Take the anger junkie test below to find out.

I use anger or resentment: 

  • For energy or motivation (can’t get going or keep going without some degree of anger)
  •  For pain-relief (it hurts when not angry) 
  • For confidence (only feel cer­tain when angry)
  • To ease anxiety  
  • To avoid depression 
  • To enforce a sense of entitlement   
  • To punish or inhibit honest disagreement with opinions 
  • More than once a day, and when you expe­ri­ence anger, it lasts for more than a few minutes 

Trendy Kids

Having children is the best feeling in the world (so I’ve heard)! I don’t have children yet so I can’t say that I know the feeling but I know how fun it is to get them dressed. I have nephews and God-daughters and I absolutely love shopping for them. It’s funny to me because they all have their own unique style and like to pick their own clothes.

This picture of the Jolie-Pitt kiddos (below) made me laugh because it reminded me of how different my nephews and God-daughters are with their style. My oldest nephew (11) is preppy and likes to wear polo shirts and slacks while my youngest nephew (6) is more into trying to dress like Michael Jackson.

joliepittkids

Jolie-Pitt Kids

I think it’s important to let your children have a little say in what they wear. It’s part of expressing themselves and coming into their own. Granted we don’t want the kids to have too much say so a good start would be to pick out a few choices and let them decide from what you’ve selected. Doing so will encourage and support their individuality without going overboard. I look at Angelina’s kids and they are definitely individuals. Zahara (5) is a girly girl in her cardigan and shorts while Shiloh (4) is more of a tomboy and prefers to only wear boy clothes (I won’t get into that). Maddox (9) has the surfer look and young Pax (6) is dressed like a little man. Check out the pieces below that will fit into your budget and keep your little ones stylish.

rebeltee

Crazy 8's $4.99

boyscardigan

Crazy 8's $13.99

boysdenim

Gap $19.99

denimruffleshirt

Gap $28.50

plaiddress

Crazy 8's $24.75

blackgymboreedress

Gymboree $20.83

Easily Transition Your Summer Wear to Fall

It’s almost September and time to start switching your closets from summer to fall. If you’re a fashionista on a budget like me then you’ll be happy to know that a lot of your summer items can make an easy transition into your fall wear. How so? Glad you asked!  You can take those cute skirts you loved during the summer, pair them with cute tights, a blazer and boots or pumps then presto change, you’ve got yourself a new outfit. 

skirtdress

 

 Have a favorite t-shirt? Try pairing it with a cute blazer, jeans and heels and you’ve got an easy outfit that you can wear to the store, dinner or anywhere else. 

 

 tankjeans3

 

A simple sweater or cardigan with heels or flats will allow you to continue wearing your summer dresses. Some dresses you’ll need to leave in the summer like those halters but even your long maxi dress will be cute to wear this fall.

maxidress1

 

If you feel the need to buy something new this fall but don’t have a lot of money to spend, try updating your look with new accessories or buy a few staple pieces that you can mix and match with other items in your closet. Never be afraid to venture into a store like forever 21 or Charlotte Russe,  you may not like their clothes but you’ll be surprised at what you can find on the accessories table. Both stores have great accessories for even better prices. I believe you’re never too old to be fashionable. Play around with look until you love until you find something that works for you. It’s all about you and YOUR personal style! Check out these reasonable priced pieces (all under $100) that will instantly take your outfit from drab to fab!

Baker's necklace $14.00

Baker's necklace $14.00

 

Old Navy Blazer $29.50

Old Navy Blazer $29.50

 

Forever 21 Bracelet $8.80

Forever 21 Bracelet $8.80

 

Simple Black Dress from Target $24.99

Simple Black Dress from Target $24.99

 

Baker's Shoes $79.95

Baker's Shoes $79.95

 

Pants from Newport News $19.00

Pants from Newport News $19.00

 tviolet-ryan1                                                    

Ta’Keisha Violet Ryan is currently the Assistant Director of Midwest Fashion Week and works side by side with some of the best designers in the Midwest. A love of fashion is what led her to create her blog Violet Meets Fashion where she encourages her readers to live life fabulously. Ta’Keisha is inspired by Kimora Lee Simmons but she attributes her sense of style to Sarah Jessica Parker/Carrie Bradshaw.

Something for Everyone – Spring 2010 Fashion Trends

romanticfashion

By Guest Blogger: Karen Boggs

Something for everyone! is not just a cliché’ in describing fashion trends for Spring 2010.  Styles will be based on romantic, nautical, tribal and military themes.  A variety of colors will enhance these themes – subdued pastels in the romantic pieces will provide the essence of elegance and femininity, whereas, bright yellows with green undertones will be popular with the military and tribal offerings.

Turquoise, a favorite of many women, will make a come back this summer. Shade of pinks, from cotton candy to hot pink will be popular in clothes as well as jewelry and purses. The combination of white and black always provides a classic, timeless look that works for everyone.

Soft ruffles, lace, and draping fabric will be seen in the romantic pieces. Strategically placed see through material will add hints of sexiness to dresses and tops.  Prints, including patterned, floral and stripes will be prevalent in skirts and pants this spring.

“Boyfriend” blazers will continue to be popular through the warmer months. These are slightly oversized jackets with rolled up sleeves. Bright blazers, in colors such as turquoise and tangerine, can add punch to an existing outfit.  One-piece jumpsuits will provide a fun, playful alternative to a traditional pant/top outfit.  Pants, shorts, skirts and jeans will be offered with higher waists this season. Ripped, shredded and patched jeans will be making a comeback, whether a welcomed one, remains to be seen.

boyfriendblazerIf you want to add several pieces of jewelry to update your look, think in terms of chunky chains, bangles and long, layered necklaces.  Metallics continue to play a big part in accessories this year. Brightly colored, bold bags will be major components in completing an outfit this spring. Quilted classics and tailored clutches will remain favorite styles for many.

Light and neutral colored shoes in tans and beiges will abound this season. If you prefer color, greens and blues will be good alternatives for you. Cork and rope covered heels will provide interesting accents to the popular wedge shoes. Heavier sandals, often including a thick ankle strap collar, will be the rage. However, keep in mind, these styles do not elongate the leg line and can make calves and ankles appear heavier. As you know, all trends are not for everyone. Real style is about finding clothes that fit and flatter your shape-stamping them with your individual flair and wearing them with confidence.

Happy Spring!

About Karen Boggs

Helping women determine the best styles for their shape and size is the goal of style consultant, Karen Boggs.  Founder of Renew You, LLC, Boggs works with clients through one-on-one shopping sessions and closet consultations. Along with corporate training on professional dress in  the workplace, she enjoys speaking to various women’s groups. Boggs has contributed to a variety of publications including Indianapolis Woman and Enjoy! For more information please visit www.renewyoustyle.com.

Take a Mental Vacation to Avoid Stress

italiancafeLast week I had the best vacation in Italy! I visited the cafes and museums, had a fabulous time at a few fashion shows and enjoyed the company of an old friend that I had not seen since high school. We decided to reconnect in Italy because we both have always wanted to go there. On our first night there we dined at Centrale, a beautiful, hip, chic restaurant/lounge in Venice. The food was amazing! I had a succulent parmesean farfalle pasta with chicken and mushrooms that was to die for…yummy! My friend had the spaghetti carbonara and a glass of white wine.  Afterward, we decided to return to our hotel in order to rest up for the festivities on the following day. Okay, people, I didn’t literally go to Italy last week, but I did take a mental vacation there, and it was almost as nice as the real thing.

Mental vacations are like retreating to that quiet, relaxing place that your yoga instructor tells you to go to when you are doing the final relaxation pose at the end of every class.  They are fun, free and can take you anywhere your imagination allows you to go. Mental vacations are a nice way for moms/stepmoms, working women and just about anyone to escape from the norm. I usually take my mental vacations during my “me” time in a relaxing bath with soft music playing. For those 3o minutes I am not mom, wife, business woman or counselor, and I don’t worry about the challenges of stepmamahood or motherhood. I allow myself to mentally escape to a place where I get to choose who goes along for the ride.

Next week, I think my business partner and very dear friend, Diane and I, will take a relaxing trip with our husbands to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We could all use a couples only vacation right about now. If anyone else wants to join us, please let me know. The plane tickets, hotels, food, and activities are all FREE!

What about you, readers? Describe your ultimate mental vacation in the comments section below and win a brand new Sirius Sportster 5 XM Satellite Radio!