Be the change

34c3ac3d-3533-4011-bb96-0c3545b9ea33.jpg

Be the change. 

Have you ever felt so passionately about something that it became the driving force of your life? Did it keep you up at night with excitement and fill your heart with determination? There's so much going on in the world that desperately needs fixing. It's often overwhelming to know what we can do on a "small" level. 

Today, I'm going to challenge you to BE THE CHANGE. I know that not everyone feels called to be a leader but guess what?  Foot soldiers are just as important in creating change. Here are some steps for creating change in your own life and in the world:

  1. Identify your cause or passion
  2. Find someone locally that has your same passion
  3. Reach out to them ( 2 heads are better than 1)
  4. What change needs to happen in order for your problem to be solved?  Are you worried about children starving in America? Instead of solely blaming the government (which can only get us so far), do SOMETHING. Maybe go to restaurants, grocery stores, and collect leftover food to donate. 
  5. If you want to take the political route, fantastic.  Understand that is going to take change in legislation --  find local politicians to help you.  It might seem tedious but if you want policy change, you have to be a turtle….slow and steady wins the race
  6. Say it out loud to anyone that will listen.  When I was discussing my personal cause, I discussed it with all of my friends and colleagues. Eventually I was directed to the correct person.
  7. ENJOY THE NATURAL HIGH OF MAKING CHANGES!

Ready to be the change? Email me back about what you are inspired to do. Accountability is everything :) 

Elise

Happy Thanksgiving

7fbed4fd-6df2-47a1-9d24-9dea3668c280.png

Ah, I love Thanksgiving. It's the perfect time to think about what we are thankful for and take inventory of our lives. You might have already started counting your blessings but if you've gotten lost in holiday shenanigans, I invite you to start now: 

What are you really thankful for? 

It can be something that you usually take for granted or something big that happened this year. Gratitude is gratitude. Plus, if you need even more of an incentive to be grateful, check out this article on all the health benefits of focusing on what you're grateful for. 


 Also,  remember some family and friends may not have Thanksgiving plans... I'd encourage you to reach out and invite them to your celebration. Being alone during the holidays can be very lonely and difficult. Payton felt destroyed when her friends didn't invite her for Halloween plans...  imagine how adults feel without anywhere to go for the holidays.  

 

Thanksgiving often comes with some family drama. Instead, be proactive and decide that you will have a different perspective. Understand that no one is perfect. The annoying parent that seems to only “criticize” you? They might just be really scared and doing the best they can.  Try to empathize with the path they have taken in life to arrive at the place they are. Perhaps they only know negativity. Show compassion through your own positivity.

 

Wondering what the hell you are going to do with the kids the entire vacation? Rest and relax!  Sleep in, make a mess, let the kids come in your bed for snuggles. You will miss this time in a few years. Do things that your normal schedule wouldn't allow. for. Bake, sing loudly, dance, play. Enjoy the togetherness of family time.  It’s a beautiful blessing.  If you have a toddler that screams and throws temper tantrums, take this opportunity to do some behavior modification techniques while you have the time to devote.

Finally, relax and enjoy the blessings of life and family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, 

Elise 

5 Steps for back to school success

979d5629-5533-475f-8801-15390bae1785.jpg

As summer is winding down and we are preparing our kids for back to school, I think about how I geared up for a new school year.  I DID NOTHING!!  I was not the most stellar student, so going back to school did not appeal to me in any way shape or form.  As a single working mother of 2, I have to make sure my after school schedule is run like a mean fighting machine.  Here are my tips to an afternoon of easy homework, happy kids and no arguments
 

  1.  Assess your child.  Should they come home and go straight to work after being in school all day or do they need a break?  Only you will know after trial and error which is right for your children.   One day have them come home and go straight to work.  If they seem like they are distracted and unable to settle down, let them run around for about an hour, then get back to homework.  If they come home and play for an hour and can't seem to make the transition back into school mode, then they will need to do their work first.
  2.  Have a neat work space area for each child to do their own homework.  Make sure they have all the necessary supplies to do their work.
  3. Be available for SOME assistance.  Save phone calls to friends for another time.
  4. As many of children’s teachers have taught me, the parent is not the student.  DO NOT DO THE WORK FOR THEM.  You are not helping them by doing the work for them.  Teachers always say:  be a guide on the side.  If your child does not understand the concepts of the homework, you should not be the one to explain.  Chances are, you are not a teacher, you are a parent.  Your job is to parent them, not teach them Algebra!  This is great news, you are off the hook! No more fighting about doing homework.   In addition to creating an adversarial relationship between you and your child, doing their work does not alert the teacher that your child needs extra attention with the subject.
  5. Make a list of tasks that need to be completed after they have done their work but before they do their preferred activity.  For example, I have my kids each make their lunches, put away laundry, complete their household chores, complete a fun physical activity and take a shower.  Only after that list is complete and all homework is finished, then you can lose them to the abyss of electronics.

Your kids may give you some resistance about doing homework.  The key is to stay calm, don’t yell and don’t show any fear.  You are the parent.  If at any point your child does not comply with this schedule, they simply don’t get to perform their chosen activity (basketball, youtube, xbox etc).  Do not threaten to punish them by taking things away, but rather give it back to them when they have completed all necessary tasks.
 
Good luck and have a great school year.


Elise 

The lesson of the burnt toast

48c7bec2-8e10-4331-a3a1-25361ef85c3c.jpg

If you’re anything like me, multitasking is your middle name. We seem to take great pride in doing more things at once.  I can work, talk on the phone and make lunch for the kids!” 
 

In a society that moves faster than the speed of light, it appears that we're not really moving that fast. We’re actually falling behind. Most parents work which renders us multitasking experts. After all, it’s a REQUIREMENT that we’re must be fantastic parents, friends, employees and still get to the gym, right?

 

Hm. Not so much. 

 

The other morning, I thought I would be in contention for mother of the year. I decided to make my daughter homemade French toast for breakfast.  But like any working mother, making just French toast was not enough for me to do.  I flipped open my computer and started working on the counter just next to where I was cooking.  Whenever I work I get fully immersed in what I’m doing, so that day was no exception. I was busy handling “work stuff” when I smelled the burnt toast.  As I looked back at the breakfast, I realized immediately it was not salvageable.

 

 It got me thinking, why was it so important that we do so many things at once?  Why do we feel that we’re not useful unless we are busy. Why do we brag about being stressed and overwhelmed? We have become so conditioned to multitask that often times,  we’re not even actually getting things done.. we just think we are.
 

When you’re on the phone while working, how great is your work really going to be?  How can you really be actively listening to your kids while working?  The way I see it, we are doing a whole lot of nothing.  
 

So this next week, let’s all try and hit the reset button. Be present: at work, home, exercise, family, friends, and LIFE!  Give 100% to one thing not 25% to four things.  Life will get much sweeter for yourself and all of those around you! Hit “reply” and let me know how you plan to be more present this week. Even better, when the end of the week rolls around, let me know how your week turned out! 


Elise 

shutterstock_271332740.jpg

Hi Friends, 

This evening, I'm writing to you right after I put my little one to bed (she's not so little anymore... almost ten years old).  I was reminded of how precious time is. Time with our children, time with our spouse, time with our family. It sounds super cliche but it really does go by so fast.

So I want to ask you, are you present when you're with your kids? Are you really in the moment with them, even for just for 15 minutes a day? Sometimes we are "with" them all day but are we really present?  

This week, instead of getting annoyed when your children interrupt you, try actually listening. I get it... when we are busy with all of the other pressing responsibilities that go along with parenting, even 15 minutes seems like a lot; but find the place in your life where children are not a distraction, but rather a gift.

There will come a time in the not- so- distant future that you will be beggingthem to talk to you. So enjoy all this time now, it goes by so fast. Be in the moment.

If you're feeling inspired and want to connect with other like-minded parents, come on over to my Facebook group. We've really created a community over there and I feel so honored to be a part of it. This Thursday night, at 9 pm, I will be doing a Facebook live. So come with an open heart and lots of questions. I'll see you then!

Lots of love,

Elise 

Do you ever take a vacation from parenting?

vacation download.jpg

Hi Friends,

 

TGIF! As parents, the weekends don’t necessarily mean we’re off duty… parenting is a full time role! The weekend is often spent immersed in our children’s lives and often, we neglect our own needs. 

 

Today, I want to remind you of something very important: It’s okay — actually, it’s necessary — to take time for yourself. It’s best for you and for your children. Here are some tips for preventing burnout: 

 

1. Know your limits: Rather than waiting to have a meltdown, give yourself a time out. You are the leader. You need to be well rested and ready to tackle the day. Take a bath, go on a run, listen to some music and dance. (Even blasting music in the house and dancing with the kids is an awesome way to get moving and release some endorphins). 

 

2. Take a social media break: As parents, we want the very best our kids. But it messes with our minds when we scroll through Facebook and see the “picture perfect” lives of others. Just like knowing when to take a “time out,” know when to say goodbye to social media. You’d be amazed at what 3 days off can do… 

 

3. Now that you’re taking a break from Facebook, you can put this extra time to great use! Get organized for the week ahead, relax a bit, eat good food. Take advantage of the weekend to plant seeds for the week ahead while recharging your battery.

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Elise 

Perspective is everything

57dba7c7-fb90-47ea-b27d-4447549da607.jpg

Perspective is everything. 

As my son was heading out to school this morning, he forgot his wallet. One of my “crazy” rules is that we don’t wear shoes inside. So he takes off his shoes, runs upstairs, grabs the wallet, puts his shoes back on, and then remembers that he left his keys upstairs. Once again, he bolts upstairs, grabs the keys, and then literally tumbles down the steps. He was so upset and angry when he hit the ground and starts telling me that my “no-shoes-in-the-house” rule is the reason he fell and is now late for school. I say, "Sweetie,  I cooked you a homemade breakfast and prepared your lunch today while you were chilling on the couch. I asked you if you have everything ready and you told me that you did.” He was still fuming so I definitely didn’t want him to drive to school in that state. When I told him he had to cool down before getting in the car, he became even angrier, worrying about being late to school. I could see him becoming more and more anxious about the repercussions of being late. So, I had to snap him out of it. 

I told him to take some deep breaths and tell me the worst possible result of being late. He said he would get in trouble. I assured him that the only person he needed to worry about getting into trouble with was me and he was free and safety is, by far, the most important thing. Then he said he was angry that he can't wear shoes in the house. I then asked Spencer to repeat after me: “If not being allowed to wear my beautiful shoes in my beautiful home where I had homemade French toast today is my worst problem, then I am a lucky person". I asked him to repeat it with me a few times. He humored me and then…he got it!  He understood that he is beyond lucky and was brought back to the moment.  His state immediately shifted. He might have been a bit late for school but he left calm and safe.  I’ll take a teachable moment over a perfect attendance record any day. 

Lots of love, 

Elise

Setting the tone for the year

00e14f91-e909-441b-84a2-f7b2a808fc2a.jpg

.

View this email in your browser


Is it really time to start buying school supplies?

In the blink of an eye summer seems to have come and gone. I hope you've taken the opportunity to recharge your battery to get ready for the upcoming school year.

Remember to embrace the new year! Your children are always watching you so if you are excited, they will be too. New school years are a symbol of new beginnings. This brings about chances to start fresh with friends, grades and study habits. Start the year with routines in place to encourage great study and homework habits. And if any of your kids are expressing anxiety about the upcoming school year, encourage them to talk through their fears.

 A strategy I use for this kind of anxiety is called "take it the worst possible place.” For example, if your child is nervous about the upcoming school year ask them why?  Perhaps, they will answer, "all of the homework." Take this to the worst possible place. Ask them what is the absolute worst thing that can happen to them if they do not finish their homework. Doing this exercise makes them realize whatever their anxieties are, it is not going to be the end of the world. Remind them of their blessings. 

As always, feel free to reply to this email with any questions or thoughts! I love hearing from you… 

Elise

"Are you really listening"

77ba3299-ecae-46ea-b39a-16bc742052bb.jpg

"Mom (or dad) are you listening?"

How many times have our children been talking to us and we just nod our heads and say, “ yea, yea no problem". Then, later, we find out that we have absolutely no idea what our darling child just said!

 I am totally guilty of this. My daughter actually called me out on it this past week. She must have seen the glazed look in my eyes when she said to me, "mom are you listening?"  I instantly snapped out of my wandering thoughts and zeroed in on Paytons urgent monologue about her pet fish.  I realized in that moment that if I wanted my daughter to talk to me when she gets older, I needed to  be present and interested right now. So I immediately added to the banter with my own insight about the fish. I knew I had made the conscious decision to be present now so she would allow me to be present later. 

Today, I want you to really be present. Put down the phone for a bit and really listen to your kids, your spouse, and your friends. You’ll be amazed at how far a little mindfulness can go… 

Have a fantastic weekend,

Elise

Saying yes to the right things

05fab3e8-7529-4988-871e-3909c9af06c3.jpg

Do you ever feel like you say “yes” to the wrong things? 

A few days ago, I went to Target with Payton. While passing the toy aisle, she asked — yet again — for another box of Pokémon cards. Seriously, how many cards does one child need? Anyway, I explained that, in our house, we get presents for Chanukah and birthdays… not every time we go to Target.

The night before, as I was putting Payton to bed, she asked if we could work on one of our night time projects. Immediately, in my head, I was thinking "I really don't want to start this now," but instead I decided to say yes. We began our ritual of discussing new laws for our make believe city, Everything World. We write them down in a book and sign each new law into our constitution…very serious business. Payton is President and I am her VP. When she asked to work on the constitution, it was probably the last thing I felt like doing. What I really wanted was to lie down like a slug and have her read to me but my angel asked for my attention, so I obliged. 

The point of this story? Our instincts are to say yes to the easy, quick things (like buying the 100th box of Pokeman cards) and say no to the important things like being present for our children. The next time your children ask you to buy them something, resist the urge for the quick fix and opt for the meaningful one, the one's that are planting the seeds for your future relationship. Trust me, it'll be worth it. 

Love, 

Elise

Laugh all weekend long

8e0fd0ae-b4ef-4c9a-913b-aad7d4f5b3bd.jpg

Is there anything better than a child's laugh?

My kids and I were sitting at the dinner table last week and I must have said something funny because both of them started hysterically laughing. So then I started to laugh uncontrollably; the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt. What better medicine, right? 

I looked at my kids and wanted to savor the moment. I wanted to savor their innocence and their ability to laugh anything. 

I thought back to the different ways I used to make my kids: talking in a goofy voice, making fun of myself, and — the most fun —  dancing around the kitchen with whisks as our microphones. We serenaded our pretend audiences to our favorite LIVE song.  

It's so important to have laughter and fun in the house. We get crazy running our kids around from activity to activity, making sure they are eating correctly and getting their homework finished. So often, we lose sight of just having a good laugh. I want my home to always be the place that brings my kids joy, comfort and laughter. 

So when things get just a bit too hectic in your house, step back and have a good laugh. It will work wonders. 

Till next time, 

Elise

Have you ever felt misunderstood?

23608c26-35fc-48ad-9e36-7bdb057a5be2.jpg

Have you ever been in an argument with your spouse, sibling, or a friend where you felt utterly misunderstood? 
 

Think about how you felt.


Frustrated, alone, confused? In most cases, these arguments are on an even playing field. We often yell until you are understood. We fight until our feelings becomes validated. 

Now think about how it feels to be a child and not feel understood. Think about how it feels to be punished for yelling and being disrespectful. They, too, have opinions, wants, and needs; but if it doesn't align with their parents', then often times they are dismissed. Think about how you would feel if your spouse dismissed your feelings? Your reaction may be to do something to get their attention to make your point.

Children feel the same way!


Next time your child starts acting out or "fighting back” to a request, just ask “why?”. Give them the validation they want through listening and making them feel respected and worthy. This automatically diffuses the situation and makes them feel less defensive. This opens up a discussion instead of an argument. Validating feelings doesn't mean you agree, it just means you hear them and are offering empathy. 

The next time you find yourself in an argument. Step back, listen to the other person, validate and then come together to come up with a plan. It will work wonders. 

Elise 

Are you resistant to change?

4ef00a51-5341-40da-84d6-2a45adaa9d2c.jpg

I don't want my baby to grow up. 

Over the last year, I’ve been telling my youngest child, leading up to her tenth birthday, that she’s not allowed to get older. I want her to remain the same beautiful, innocent human that she is. She agreed for the entire year up until a couple of days ago. She proclaimed, “I'm ready to grow up.” After some resistance, I agreed that yes she could, indeed, turn double digits.  I then began thinking about why I didn’t want her to grow up?  Payton is kind, sweet, funny and loving. Why would anyone want that to change? The answer is: FEAR! It drives parents, friends, spouses and employees absolutely crazy. We’re scared of the unknown. In this case, I feared what this milestone would mean for my precious Payton. My job, as a mother, is to nurture and mold this tiny human into an incredible, independent adult that makes a difference in this world. And to do so, my angel will have to spread her wings, fall down and shed some tears. Rather than resist, I’ve decided to embrace it. So as I  celebrate her birthday I will no longer be sad, even though time seems to move way too fast. I will love every molecule of her being and appreciate every moment I have right now. I will honor her growth by being present and for the first time in my life I will embrace the unknown.  

Today, I encourage you to get curious about what you may be resisting. You may have gotten comfortable in a lack-luster relationship or a “just-okay” job. I want you to remember that your life can evolve into a much more exciting, fulfilling version when we just let fear take a backseat and get behind the wheel. You’re so much more capable than you know… 

Have a wonderful weekend, 

Elise
 

Do you always say what you mean?

a43d47ec-0b6d-42ba-8846-0f38c8b741e2.jpg

What I say is what I mean and what I mean is what I say! 
 

I was on the phone with a friend of mine who happens to be a famous boxing coach. He promised me tickets to one of his most prized fighter’s next match. I thanked him profusely and he said,“what I say is what I mean and what I mean is what I say!”

 

It got me thinking….how often do people actually do that?  We are taught to be kind to others and we teach our children to be kind to others but how often do we forget to put in in to practice? Why don’t we actually say what we mean and mean what we say?  Often times we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings and, in turn, we keep our thoughts to ourselves.

 But at what price? We get angry and bitter towards the people that we’ve suppressed emotions towards. 

But guess what? With just one shift in your thinking, you can learn how to truly say what you mean and mean what you say!

 

Is the other person more important than you? Are they more worthy of peace and understanding? NO. So why shouldn’t you tell them how you feel? Remember no one is going to take care of you if you don’t take care of yourself…

 

I’ve never had the problem of keeping my feelings to myself. If anything I am a bit too transparent (if you have ever seen my weekly Facebook lives you would know what I mean). However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that life is not so black and white and I would like to think that I found a way to express my feelings with conviction without hurting anyone in my line of fire. For those that suffer from oversharing their feelings, I have a couple tips for you.

  1. Take a step back and put yourself in the other persons position.It sounds so simple but it’s incredibly effective. How would they feel receiving the information with your delivery?
  2. Take a moment to understand what your goal is in communicating. Do you want to feel understood?  No one will understand what you are saying when you say it in an inflammatory way, so take the emotion out of the conversation and stick with facts about yourself. For example, recently on facebook a women misread a comment I made and came back to me with a bit of a zinger. I could have responded in an inflammatory way but what does that achieve? Nothing…it just starts a fight.  What I really wanted her to know is that she misread the comment so that was all I said and ya know what? She ended up apologizing without my starting a Facebook fight (life’s just too short for that!). 
  3. Finally: you never know what someone is going through. Don’t say something you don’t mean in the heat of the moment in response to a person who may be rude to youIt never solves anything. Express the same compassion you desire as well. 

 

Now it’s YOUR turn, hit “reply” and let me know one thing thing that would help you stay true to your word. 
 

Have a wonderful weekend, 


Elise 

Enjoy the days of summer

79004959-2beb-4943-b18a-aec26632e08e.jpg

Summer is in full swing! 
 

Now is the time to soak in the joy of no homework or school projects. No deadlines or parent-teacher conferences. 

Take the opportunity to clean out closets and toys. Start with something small like a drawer or a shelf. You'd be amazed how fun cleaning can be when you blast fun music and relax a little. And what an awesome project to do with your kids. While cleaning, reminisce about all the fun times you had with a particular toy or a funny story about an experience with a certain outfit. Use this time to let your children know the importance of giving to those less fortunate than us. You can even turn it into a friendly competition: whoever has the biggest giveaway pile wins something fun. 

 

Enjoy the slower days of summer because before you know it, we will be back in the grind of alarm clocks and PTA meetings. 

 

Until then, soak up the sun and be present in the days you'll be day- dreaming about soon! 

Elise 

Elise's Story

By the time my son turned 3-months old, my maternal instincts kicked into high alert and had me questioning his behaviors.

Why didn’t he make eye contact with me? When he cried, why did he cry harder, louder and longer than any other child? Why was he not playing with toys that were in front of him? Why didn’t he care about toys and people? Why did he only like vents, fans, and wheels?

There were no answers.

Pediatricians told me to stop comparing him to other children and that he would be fine.

I knew differently.

One day when I was reading, I came across a checklist of traits for autism. If you answer yes to 9 out of the 14, your child is autistic. How could it be so simple to test? But I read the questions and answered yes to nearly all of them.

My heart sank and I was paralyzed.

The overwhelming sense of responsibility washed over me again. What do I do? How do I help my innocent and seemingly perfect child? I researched and found out that my state conducted free tests to determine reasons for which children do not hit milestones. I signed up and was put on a 4-month wait. Then the day finally came for our now 23-month old son to be evaluated.

It was like cheering for a losing team.

You watch and want them to be able to make the basket, score the touchdown, or make the goal but not one can be done. After a grueling 3 hours of watching my child not achieve any of the tasks asked of him, the therapist sat me down and explained that my little baby had PDD: Pervasive Developmental Disorder; it’s on the autism spectrum. The good news is that I was right. Mommies always know their child.

The bad news was I was right. My son was autistic.

I immediately went into SUPER MOM mode, calling anyone and everyone that could possibly help us. Not everyone has that reaction. Some ignore and hope it will go away but it doesn’t.

I had to help my son. He was my responsibility.

I hired a team of therapists with me as the quarterback. I sat in on every therapy session my son has ever had, even to this day. I can’t risk missing important information about my child. So I read every book, knew all the terminology and I sounded educated. The doctors and therapists listened to me because I made it my business to know their business. But this was exhausting. I started boxing as a means of coping. After 30 hours of therapy each week and a screaming child all the time because he was on sensory overload, hitting someone felt really good. 

But that wasn’t enough, I was falling apart.

I did everything in my power to try and understand how my son felt. I wanted to get into his world, so I could better help him get into ours. I suffered because no one was taking care of me and without me, the ship would sink.

I wish I had someone who would have told me I was going to be ok, regardless of how my son was doing. He was the sun, moon, and stars to me so I probably wouldn’t have believed it. I took him around the country for every therapy imaginable, but piece by piece, I was losing myself and losing my way.

How is it possible to find happiness and peace when your child suffers?

I medicated myself so that I became numb. I drank excessive amounts of alcohol and got divorced.  On top of everything else, I was now a single mother of two children.  I adopted my darling daughter from China to give me a chance at mothering a typical child. I became alone, sad, and scared that my children would not be ok. FEAR paralyzed me and “what ifs” consumed me. I was having a nervous breakdown. I never took care of myself. 

Everyone else had typical children so it was much easier for them to be happy. I believed that as a parent of a special needs child I would never really know true happiness and peace. This mentality all changed the day I went to a yoga class, my instructor said something that resonated with me and has since become my mantra.

We are happy, our natural state is happiness.  Anything that takes us away from our natural state is merely a disturbance or a distraction.” 

At first, I thought, that was easy for him to say since he didn’t have an autistic child. Nothing applied to me, I couldn’t control my happiness. How am I supposed to be happy when I am fighting with the school board and also advocating for my son?  It was then, while I was sobbing, that my instructor said to me,

“Elise, you can give yourself permission to cry and react for a couple minutes. Stomp your feet and say it sucks, it’s not fair, no one understands but then realize that you can get just as much, if not more, accomplished when you are calm and happy.” 

So I screamed and cried and complained for about 15 more minutes and then I got on the phone and happily kicked ass. I never again let anyone or anything, not even my children, take my happiness from me. I no longer let my son’s Autism define me.

I have arrived at my destination, it is peace.