Is your child ready to stay home alone?

Home_Alone_Boy1

Some parents dread it, while others are anxiously awaiting it…the decision to leave your child home alone for the first time. How do you determine if your child is ready to stay home alone? Only a few states have laws that specify the age when a child can be left home alone, including Maryland (age 8) and Illinois (age 14). In Kansas and Missouri, state laws do not specify the age at which a child can be left home alone.

Most states have guidelines with the Department of Health and Human Services or other child protective agencies that test a child’s ability to be left home alone. According to the Child Welfare Reform Information Gateway, here are some questions to consider before leaving your child home alone:

  • Does your child feel comfortable being home alone?
  • Does your child obey rules and make good decisions?
  • Is your child physically and mentally able to care for himself?
  • How does your child respond to stressful situations?
  • How long will your child be left home alone?
  • What time of day will your child be left alone?
  • What routines well your child be responsible for? (i.e. Will your child need to fix a meal?)
  • Is your home safe and free of hazards?
  • How safe is your neighborhood?
  • Are there adults nearby that you trust and you are home and can offer mediate systems if there’s an emergency or if your child get scared?
  • Does your child know what to do if a visitor comes to the door?
  • Does your family have a safety plan for emergencies? Can your child follow this plan?
  • Does your child no his or her full name, address, and phone number?
  • Does your child know where you are and how to contact you at all times?
  • Does your child know who to contact if you cannot be reached? 

 

Once you have determined that your child is ready to stay home alone, the following tips may help prepare your child to feel more comfortable about staying home alone:

  1. Communicate. Encourage your child to share his feelings with you about staying home alone. Have this conversation before leaving and when you return.
  2. Establish rules. Make sure your child knows what is (and is not allowed) when you’re not home. Set clear limits.  Some experts suggest making a list of chores or other tasks to keep children busy while you are gone.
  3. Have a trial period. Leave your child home alone for a short time while walking the dog around the block or running a quick errand to the grocery store. This is a good way to see how your child will manage on their own.
  4. Role-play. Act out possible scenarios to help your child learn what to do if a visitor comes to the door and how to answer phone calls in a way that doesn’t reveal that a parent is not at home.
  5. Discuss emergencies. Talk about what your child considers an emergency and what you consider an emergency. Create a form with the plan and contact numbers in the event of an emergency.
  6. Prepare. Spend time with your child before you leave preparing simple snacks and meals, making sure doors are locked, reviewing house rules and expectations for behavior. This is a great opportunity to fill your child’s bucket and let them know how much you care about them and their safety.
  7. Check in. Call your child while you are away to see how everything is going. If you are not able to check in, ask a trusted neighbor or friend to do this for you.
  8. Don’t overdo it. Even a mature responsible child needs interaction with their peers and adults. Consider other options such as programs offered by schools, community centers, youth organizations or faith-based organizations.


If you determine your child is not ready to be left home alone consider these options for childcare:

Two Strategies to Help your Child’s Sleep Schedule when Daylight Savings Time Begins

 Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, March 13th, 2016.  This is the time of year when we spring our clocks forward (and lose one-hour of sleep). For most of us, the lost hour of shut-eye is no big deal, but for young children, daylight savings can create a kink in their sleep-wake cycle.

So, what can parents do?

First and foremost, begin by developing these healthy sleep habits:

  1. Establish a consistent sleep schedule for your child. Bedtime and nap times are always the same time.
  2. Establish a 20-30 minute bedtime routine. (i.e. Brush teeth, story time, prayers, snuggles, good night kiss.)
  3. Know your child’s sleepy cues. Consistency is encouraged, but also be aware of your child’s sleepy cues. (Yawning, irritability, etc.) An over-tired child will have a more difficult time falling asleep, so start the bedtime routine as soon as you see those sleepy cues.
  4. Eliminate bright lights or screens at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light interferes with melatonin production and can create bigger bedtime battles.

Once you have these basic sleep practices in place, choose one of these two methods to help your little one transition with the time change:  “Go with the Flow” or “Adjust the Schedule Steady and Slow”.

“GO WITH THE FLOW”

WHO: Early risers, kids who typically wake up at the crack of dawn and kids older than two years old.

HOW:

  1. Move all your clocks ahead one hour before going to bed Saturday night (March 12, 2016)
  2. On Sunday, continue with your normal routine. If you have an early-riser, your child should wake up a little later.
  3. Keep nap and mealtime routines on schedule according to their usual schedule. (i.e. If nap time is noon, keep it at noon)
  4. Keep bedtime the same as always, if bedtime has always been 7:30pm, keep it at 7:30pm.


“ADJUST THE SCHEDULE STEADY AND SLOW”

WHO: Babies and children who are more sensitive to changes in schedule

HOW: Slowly adjust your child’s bedtime after the time change:

  1.   Shift your clocks forward one hour on Saturday night (March 12, 2016).
  2.   Sunday, keep your child in bed until the new waking time, which would be 30 minutes earlier than normal. So if your child normally wakes at 8:00 a.m., you will want to wake your child up at 7:30 a.m. (which is the old 6:30 a.m.).
  3.   For bedtime, you’ll want to have your child in bed at 8:30 p.m. (this is the old 7:30 p.m.).
  4.   It’s important that you are consistent with your child’s schedule and routines. To do this by moving all mealtimes and naps 1/2-hour later.
  5.  After 2-3 days, move your child’s bedtime back another 1/2-hour to 8:00 p.m. (the old 7:00 p.m.). You will also need to shift your baby’s waking time later by 1/2-hour. So you’ll now wake your child at 8:00 a.m.
  6. Adjust all mealtimes and naps 30-minutes later throughout your daily routine.

It can take a week or two for kids to adjust to the time change.  So, stay consistent and persistent.

Introduction to Empowerful Parenting™ 

What is Empowerful Parenting™?  

Empowerful Parenting™ is giving children the power and opportunity to learn and grow by doing things for themselves.  

In a society of “helicopter parents” who swoop in anytime their child is challenged or uncomfortable, Empowerful Parents understand that it is through life’s challenges that we grow

Empowerful Parents give their children space and opportunity to learn through experience

Empowerful Parents provide children with honestloving guidance and positive support to develop independence and self-confidence.  

  

Scenario:  Your 6-year old wails from the couch, “Mom, I’m thirsty!”

The enabling parent:  

Responds to needs by getting the child a drink.

The Empowerful Parent:  

Says an empowering statement, “You are thirsty? What are you going to do?” (This statement says:  I believe in your abilities.  You are capable.  I value your opinion.)

Then, gives space and time for child to think and respond.

If child needs help, parent offers guidance by saying, “You could get a cup from the panty for water or there are juice boxes in the refrigerator”

If child asks parent to do it for them, parent responds, “Let’s get your drink together.  I can show you how, so you will know what to do next time you feel thirsty.”

Scenario:  Your 10-year old has put off doing his book report–it is due tomorrow and he hasn’t even started yet.

The enabling parent:  

Helps the child by basically doing the project for him so he won’t get a bad grade.

The Empowerful Parent:  

Encourages the child with an empowering statement that helps the child recognize the strengths of the situation (i.e.  “you still have plenty of time to finish the project” or “you are smart kid, I know you’ll figure it out”). 

Then, The Empowerful Parent gives the child space and time for independent problem solving while remaining present for positive support.  

Next, offers guidance when child requests assistance.

Finally, if needed parent works together with the child to help facilitate problem solving. 

The Empowerful Parent sees challenges like this as an opportunity for the child to learn about time management.

Learn more:  Empowerful Parenting™ Fox News interview 
I can’t talk about Empowerful Parenting™ without giving a “shout out” to all of the people who have influenced my evolution as a parent.  I am blessed to be surrounded by a community of Empowerful Parents.  It is these amazing mamas and papas who have helped me to see the power of positive thinking, recognizing abilities and providing children with safe and appropriate opportunities for growth and independence.  These relationships have helped me evolve from an enabling parent into an Empowerful Parent.  Thanks to all of you…you know who you are 😉

How to Play “The Smile Game”

Smiles are contagious. 

Every time you smile, you start a feel-good party in your brain.  Your brain starts throwing out neurotransmitters, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin like confetti. When other people sense your smile party, they want to join in too. Before you know it, your infectious smile has spread.  People all around you have contracted your contagious smile.  Scientist and spiritual teachers alike agree that smiling can transform you and the world around you. Current research (and common sense) shows us that a smile makes you appear more attractive to others. It lifts your mood as well as the moods of those around you, and it can even lengthen your life. So slap a smile on that face of yours.  Who knows who you will spread your case of the smiles to?!?!

THE SMILE GAME   The perfect great game for ANYONE, ANY AGE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE!

How to play:

  1. Smile at someone, anyone.  It can be the cashier at the grocery store, your mom, a baby or the mail man.
  2. See if they smile back.
  3. If they do, hooray!  You get one point.
  4. If they don’t, boo hoo.  You lose one point.
  5. The goal is to get 10 points.
  6. This can be a contest between multiple people to see who gets to 10 points first or a race to see how quickly you can get to 10-points on your own.

My family has a blast playing this at the grocery store, at home with each other, at school…any where.  

Have fun and may the smiling odds ever be in your favor! 

 

How to create your happiest year ever…

I love this time of year. The beginning of a new year. New goals. New aspirations. Excitement. Optimism. The start of something new brings the hope of something great!  We set goals to eat healthy, exercise more, lose weight, quit bad habits, be more productive…

Why do we set these goals?  

Is it because it’s the “right” thing to do, what we think we “should” do? Or, is it because doing these things will make us happy?

I challenge you, this year, to stop “shoulding” yourself and set your New Years resolutions based upon your soul’s deepest desire: HAPPINESS.  

Take a moment to reflect on your life. What moments do you remember with a smile? Is it busting your butt on the treadmill at 5am or is it that afternoon that you hiked through Tooth Fairy Forest with your family?

This year, instead of setting goals for things you SHOULD do, write a list of all the things that will make you HAPPY. Then, resolve to spend more time doing those things.  

Resolve to choose happiness above all “shoulds”.

I’m definitely not saying go hogwild on the fried chicken at Country Kitchen buffet or spend the year sitting on your couch laughing at reruns of Seinfeld. Those activities might make you happy in the moment, but when December 31, 2016 rolls around are those the moments that you will remember?

Resolve to create moments worth remembering.

I am certain this resolution will lead you to your HAPPIEST year yet!

What are your resolutions to create happiness? I’d love to read them!

A few of my resolutions to create happiness:

  1. Having FUN makes me happy…Spend more time playing, laughing and being silly.
  2. BALANCE in my life makes me happy…balance my time between work, play, relaxation, relationships, me-time, charity.
  3. SUCCESS and accomplishment makes me happy…Take daily action towards my life goals.
  4. Spending QUALITY TIME with my loved ones and friends makes me happy…have parties, celebrate everything, host more happy hours, lunch dates, put down my phone and Be present with people, snuggle my family and puppy.
  5. TRAVELING makes me happy…plan vacations, take road trips.
  6. Feeling HEALTHY makes me happy…walk the dog, walk with friends, do yoga, plan healthy meals, cook with my family, meditate.
  7. MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION makes me happy…spend time daily talking with my kids about topics beyond “how was your day”.  
  8. INSPIRING others makes me happy…write inspiring blogs, public speaking, write inspirational book, practice affirmations.
  9. Being KIND and HELPFUL makes me happy…continue working as a pediatric OT,  volunteer at kids’ school, volunteer on HOA board, do lots of random acts of kindness.
  10. Being CREATIVE makes me happy…write some more books (maybe with my kids), launch the Comfy Cup.
  11. Having FREEDOM and FREE TIME makes me happy…So I vow to practice saying “no thanks” to thongs and things that don’t make me happy! (haha, typo that I decided to leave in–because thongs don’t make me happy…I much prefer a cozy booty-covering underpant). No thanks to thongs that ride up my crack!  Also, no thanks to any THING doesn’t create FUN or FREE TIME or HAPPY AND MEMORABLE MOMENTS.

Each year, I choose a “word for the year”.  Several people have asked what my word is this year.

 This year, my word is HAPPINESS.

    What is yours? 

    The BEST jeans for the kid that ONLY wears elastic waisted athletic pants.

    For the past two years, my 9-year old son’s wardrobe has rarely deviated from elastic waisted athletic pants.  We have endured tears and tantrums about putting on a pair of pants that have a zipper for class programs, weddings, and family portraits.

    I am not the mom who picks out their kids’ outfits everyday.  I’m exactly the opposite.  Anyone who has seen my kids on any given school day knows that I let my offspring choose their clothing–almost always.  

      A handful of times each year, I ask ny kids to wear something that matches and looks like they didn’t just roll out of bed or walk off the basketball court.  

    Special occasions requiring dressed-up attire have been a tearful, sweaty disaster with my big-guy.  UNTIL, my neighbor enlightened  me about Abercrombie & Fitch’s sweatpant stretch jeans.  

    That’s right.  SWEATPANT. JEANS. 

    Jeans that fit and feel like sweatpants. This is not a joke. This is a real thing. If you don’t know about it, you are missing out.

    After purchasing a pair of the $39.95 a&f straight sweatpant stretch jeans, my 9-year old son who hasn’t worn a pair of jeans without crying in 2-years exclaimed,

    “On a scale from 1-10, I give these a 9.75!”

    Then, HE WORE THEM TO SCHOOL! All day.  Without complaining. He even rode his bike around the block wearing them after school.

    I am getting ZERO kickbacks from a&f for this blog (although I would gladly except some in order to afford multiple pairs of these magical sweatpants jeans).  I wrote this so other mothers with “husky” “sensory-sensitive” boys can experience the bliss and freedom from a life lived solely in athletic pants.  
     Disclaimer: my husky 9-year old needed a size 14 in the skinny stretch jeans, so size up if your little man is a bigger-little man.

    Seriously…Give your family the gift of a athletic pant-free holiday and order some of these magical jeans today!  You will not regret it.  Especially when it’s time to go to Aunt Vivienne’s fancy China-clad Christmas Eve dinner and you kid wants to roll up to the table in his Under Armour apparel.

     A&F Sweatpant Stretch Jeans

    Empowerful Parenting: how to lovingly empower your kids vs. enable them

    Any parent will tell you that parenting is the hardest job in the world. A day spent at home with my kids is more mentally and physically challenging than any day at work.  Why? I believe it is my strong emotional connection to my kids.  After all, it is my responsibility to fill them with love and help them grow into the best human beings they can be.  As parents, it is our nature to give our children unconditional love and kindness. The challenge arises when delineating between loving-kindness and enabling.

    “Moooom, WHERE ARE MY SHOES?”

    “Moooom, I’m hungry!”

    “Moooom, is it time to go yet?”

    “Moooom….”

    “Mom? Did you hear me?”

    “MOM–wake up!”

    I know I am not the only mother that is exhausted by the end of the day. The constant need for guidance and assistance and attention can be draining.  Sometimes, it just seems easier to do things for them rather than teach them to do things for themselves.  But is that the loving thing to do?  Isn’t empowering more loving than enabling?

    Like all parents I love my kids to the moon and back. I want the world for them and I want them to HAVE, DO, and BE everything their soul desires. I realize that I don’t have to HAVE, DO, and BE everything FOR them.  

    So, where is that fine line between acts of love and enabling (which really is disabling) your child to depend upon you to HAVE, DO, and BE everything FOR them.

    By definition, enabling means: give someone or something the authority or means to do something.  

    There comes a time when you have to choose between giving your children the means to depend upon you or giving them the authority to explore the world independently.

    I recently placed a picture in my kitchen to remind myself how to choose between lovingly empowering and enabling my kiddos. 

    On a picture of my children at the beach, the caption reads: Do not do for others what they can do for themselves.

    Now, when I hear, “Mooom….”, I take a moment to ask myself, “Is this request something they can do for themselves?”

    If it is something I know they are capable of doing, I do this– I call it Empowerful Parenting:

      
    1. I encourage them by letting them know that I believe in them and their ability to do this task independently. 

    You are smart and strong I believe that is something you can do for yourself. 

    2. Then, I challenge them to find a solution.

    Hmmm…what ideas do you have to solve this problem?

    3. If they tried. I mean really tried. Then I offer choices as suggestions to guide them in their problem-solving.

    Have you tried___ or ___?

    4. Finally, I offer to help complete the task together. Not FOR them, WITH them.

    I am proud of you for trying…let’s see if we can do it together.

    If you think about it, when we are recognizing our children’s abilities and supporting and believing in the fact that they can do it for themselves. We are empowering them. That is ultimately loving them.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are still “MOOOOM” moments that require my attention. (i.e. I puked in my bed or I want a hug.) 

    And, if I am being completely honest, I still revert back to the “I’ll do it for you” on occasion. Hey, nobody is perfect, right?

    Overall, I am consciously making an effort to EMPOWER my children to trust in themselves and their own abilities, not to depend upon me to magically meet their needs and solve all their challenges.

    Presently–and even after my kids are grown-up and moved out of the house–I know there will be those “MOOOOM MOMENTS”. Those moments when my children really do need ME. 

    In those moments I will follow the advice of my own mother, and “appreciate being needed“.  

    Toilet Meditating for Parents who Barely Have Time to Poop

    As a parent in a busy household, one of the wishes I have each day is for just a few moments of peace and quiet and solitude. As a mama also aspiring for enlightenment– a few moments of meditation would be equally awesome.  But, let’s be honest.  Finding peace and quiet is a rare commodity in a busy household–unless you wake up at the crack-of-dawn and disappear to the solitude of the basement before those little feet pitter-patter down the hall squealing, “I’m hungry”. 

    Of course, you could wait until the house is quiet in the evening after the kiddos are in bed and your spouse has finished blaring his nightly Netflix episode of Breaking Bad on the TV …if you can stay awake that late.  I don’t know about you, but it seems that my house is abuzz with activity from dawn until midnight. 
    So, what is an exhausted mom seeking a slice of solitude to do? 
    We all know the “escape to the bathroom trick”.  Oh, come on, don’t act like you have never used the bathroom as a getaway.  Once you are in there, hunched down holding your head in your hands, how do you maximize those precious moments of “me time”and bring your energy from zero back to hero?  
    Toilet Meditation.  
    Yes, you read that correctly…Toilet Meditation.
    It can be done, and it can be glorious.  We take time to “lighten the load”, but what about our emotional and energetic load?  We owe it to ourselves and our families to pause a few extra minutes on that porcelain throne to enlighten our minds and not just our behinds.
    The benefits of mediation are comparable, if not better than a good BM, so why not squeeze a MB (meditation break) in after your BM?

    Consider these benefits of toilet meditation:
    1. Provides a sense of calm and balance
    2. Increases energy
    3. Reduces pain and enhances the body’s immune system
    4. Reduces stress
    5. Relieves muscle tension

    Follow these 10 Steps to Master the Toilet Meditation:
    1.  Secure the area (that’s basically the lock yourself in the bathroom technique aforementioned).  
    2.  Get loaded.  The toilet provides a wonderful support for you to sit grounded with your spine erect and your feet flat on the floor.  No need to try the lotus position in the loo. 
    3. Close your eyes and bring your attention to the space between your eyes.  
    4. Get your brain from Beta to Theta.  I personally love listening to Dr. Joe Dispenza’s “You are the Placebo” meditations (available on iTunes).  However, if you are locked and loaded and you left your iPhone and earbuds in the kitchen, the hum of the bathroom exhaust fan is the next best thing to the harmonious binaural beats.
    Follow this handy-dandy brainwave map to get you there:
      

     5. Do not attend to any knocking, hollering, barking, ringing for 5-minutes.  Imagine that your body is not a solid mass, but instead that it is made up of millions of tiny atoms (because it actually is). Feel the space between the atoms expanding and filling the room (kind of like a fart). 

    6. Breathe.
    7.  Ignore that pounding on the bathroom door and the “Moooooom, are you in there?”
    Bring your awareness back to the space between your eyes.  Keep your eyes closed.  
    8.  Stay in that Toilet Theta State as long as you can…but not too long.  You don’t want to end up with ring-around-the-toilet thighs (especially during tennis-skirt season), or worse yet, have your legs fall asleep!
    9. Bring your awareness back your body.  Open your eyes.  Can you feel your toes?
    Your legs? Your arms? Feels good, Right?
    10. Don’t forget to flush and wash, and while you are in there, go ahead and give yourself a wink in the mirror and say, “I’m good stuff!”

    Why you should: Find your Fractals,  See the Seagulls, and Pay Attention to the Signs!

    I don’t know about you, but I can’t get my mind to shut up.   I am constantly thinking about what comes next or worrying about how I could’ve done something different in the past.  Sometimes, when I’m driving in the car I try to meditate in silence. However, it is very easy and tempting to numb our mind’s chatter with to all of this with the songs on the radio.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love singing in my car. And makes me so happy and is a great emotional release. However, I wonder, what am I missing when I am numbing my mind with the radio or the television?
    You see, I have started to realize when I am aware and focused in the present moment, The Universe sends me little signs guiding me toward my intentions.
    I am getting better every day. However, many days I feel like I am driving down a dark highway with the music blaring and my headlights out.   It is as if my fuel light has come on and I am in a panic to get to the nearest gas station as fast as possible.  In this state of fear, I am completely unaware of all the signs along my path guiding me where to go.
    A fractal is a natural phenomenon that exhibits a repeating pattern.  It is something that is repeated over and over again in your life, a sign, a guidepost, telling you which way to steer.
    I learned the term from a wonderful teacher, Jen Freeman. She explained to me that when we reflect on our lives, we can identify many fractals, or common themes that are consistently repeated.  When we become aware of these fractals or signs, we can feel more confident and moving toward our purpose.
    I read an email today from Ramit Sethi.  In the message, he described signs or fractals as seagulls. He wrote:
    “In the 1820s, a sailor wrote about his 3-month-long journey from Spain to America: “I love when I see seagulls, it reminds me we’re close to land”
    In 1492, Columbus kept a diary of his voyage. In September, he wrote this:

    “That day they navigated, on their westerly course, day and night, 20 leagues, counting a little less. Here those of the caravel Niña reported that they had seen a tern and a boatswain bird, and these birds never go more than 25 leagues from the land.”

    In other words, he noticed the birds…and knew he was close to land.

    You can use this principle in business and personal life, too. I call it The Seagull Theory.

    The Seagull Theory describes how the subtlest of clues can signify you’re on the right track. For example, when someone says something once, you might not notice it. When you hear it again, that’s interesting. When you hear it three times, you lean in and start paying attention.

    The universe is so amazing. It is constantly sending us signs to steer us on our divine course. However, we have to turn off the background music, turn on our headlights, and pay attention in order to notice the signs.
    Let me give you an example:
    Last week, a friend told me about an opportunity for therapists to travel to Peru to provide therapy for a community that does not have access to this type of healthcare. This is something I have always wanted to do with my husband (since we are both in healthcare).  I actually, put an image of it on my vision board this year.
    I sent an email to get some more information on the Peru opportunity and that was it…at least that is what I thought.  However, I was really practicing being aware and focused and tuned in.  And since then, Peru has been popping up like a zit on a teenager’s face.
    One of my favorite authors who I follow on Facebook posted this week that she will be traveling to Peru to give a seminar.  Then, over the weekend my neighbor told me I needed to try out a Peruvian restaurant nearby. (We were even talking about Peru-nor does she have any idea about my interest in traveling there.)
    So, in less than a week, Peru came up three different times.
    And maybe even more,Who knows what I might have missed while I wasn’t tuned in.
    So, what does all this mean? Am I attracting Peru to me? Or, is the universe sending me signs about Peru?
     
    When we increase our awareness, and quit numbing our minds with the tune of “uptown funk” for the umpteenth time that day, some pretty amazing signs start to appear. Signs that have probably been there all along, but we were just tuned in to Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson instead of our own divine rhythm.
    Take a minute and reflect on your own life. What fractals can you identify? This week, make a conscious effort to become more aware and tune in. What signs do you see appear in your life? What seagulls are flying over your head giving you a little fly-by-hi squawking, “This way to land.”

    

    Vision Boards 101

    2015/01/img_1715-0.jpg
    Vision Boards 101
    vi·sion board
    \ˈvi-zhən\ˈbȯrd\
    noun
    : a visual representation of your goals, dreams, and ideal life.
    : see also-“dream board” or “inspiration board”

    How to create a vision board:
    1. Identify your goals and desires.
    Each of our lives has a unique purpose. When we align our goals with this purpose, we have more fun have manifesting your desires and more easily achieve success.

    The key to making a vision board filled with goals and desires that reflect your unique life purpose is to take some time to figure out what in the heck your life purpose is.
    Don’t overthink this.
    Many people spend their entire lives trying to answer this question. But, it is really quite simple.
    (For me, I believe my life purpose is to be creative and helpful to others.)

    Ask yourself these questions to zero in on YOUR purpose:

    -What have I always enjoyed doing? (From childhood to adulthood)
    What did you play as a child?
    When you first started considering a career, what was your initial thought?

    -What are my interests? If you had nothing else to do, what would you love to spend your time doing?
    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that people find genuine satisfaction during a state of consciousness called “Flow”. In this state they are completely absorbed in an activity. During this “optimal experience” they feel “strong, alert, in effortless control.
    Think about a time when he you were in the “flow” state.
    What were you doing?

    -What resources do I have available to me?
    I believe that the universe aligns us with the resources that we need to fulfill our purpose.
    Do you have resources that are unique from others and align with your interests? This could be a clue to what your life purpose is!

    2. It’s time to get crafty
    Get out your magazines, photo albums, glue and markers.
    Find pictures or words that represent the experiences, items, and feelings you wish to attract into your life and paste them onto a piece of paper or poster board. It does not matter what size you choose. It could be an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of copy paper or a large stretched canvas. Just make sure that it is big enough to hold all of your desires.

    The images don’t have to be of YOU doing the activity. However,
    I have had the most success when I get crafty and past pictures of my face into experiences that I desire.

    Last year, I pasted a picture of my face next to my favorite author, on my vision board. Several months later, we had coffee together!

    You can choose words and pictures that depict the goals in one specific area of your life or your vision board can be all encompassing. You could make one vision board for personal goals and one for career goals. It is completely up to you.

    The most important thing, is to choose words and pictures that touch you on an emotional level. You want your vision board to be filled with images and sayings that inspire positive feelings, get you excited, and make you smile.

    3. Post your vision board in a place where you will see it frequently.
    It is especially important to place your vision board in a spot where you will see it right before you go to bed.
    The images you see in the 45-minutes before you go to sleep are the ones that replay in your subconscious mind during the night as you sleep.
    I keep my vision board in my bathroom above my sink where I can see it every morning and every night while I brush my teeth.
    My dentist, Dr. Smiley, (yes that is her real name) will be happy to know that I spend a few extra minutes cleaning my pearly whites each night as I become absorbed in my vision board.

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    4. Feel gratitude.
    As time passes, you will begin to see the desires on your vision board manifested. Make sure to take time and feel gratitude for these things.

    Every morning, before I get out of bed, I routinely go through and think about all of the things I am grateful for, including those desires that have manifested themselves in my life.
    I am oh so grateful for my dear friend, Allyson File, who taught me this valuable practice.

    5. It is a work-in-progress.
    Your vision board does not have to be a “one and done”. You can always add new desires to your board as your dreams evolve and expand.

    I like to make a new vision board every year. I have started a tradition in my family of making vision boards at the beginning of each year. It is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your family as you share the successes and achievements over the past year and look forward into the future together.
    I always keep my vision board from previous years. It is like a visual journal of my dreams and personal growth.

    6. Take action!
    Your vision board is a wonderful place to start in realizing your ideal life. However, let’s be realistic. Your desires are just going to magically appear while you sit on the couch watching re-runs of Seinfeld.
    You have to get out there and take advantage of the resources and opportunities that the universe gives you.
    This is when you release your fears and trust that, “the universe has your back”. When your desires are truly aligned with your life purpose, then you will discover that it is very easy to attract the things you wish for.
    But, YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING! This is the part where you email your favorite author and invite her to coffee or send a letter to the publishing company that you want to publish your book.
    You have to believe that the answer is already “yes” and that the things and experiences you desire are already on their way.

    Now, go get crafty and let your vision board be a catalyst for creating the life you were born to live!