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The Incomparable RIE Approach

When I became a new mom, I felt lost and insecure.. bombarded with so many different opinions, parenting books and methods. Then I discovered RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) and it was the best thing I ever did!

My good friend invited me and my son to join her RIE class in LA and I was so relieved that RIE was not just another idea to read about. For two years, we took our 6 month old to weekly 90 min classes with a group of about 5 kids around the same age. Our insightful teacher Jill Getto Lee, became our RIE parenting coach as we gained a new awareness of our kids and a deeper understanding of the amazing first two years of life.

Magda Gerber’s philosophy on respectful parenting has been invaluable to me as I navigate through parenthood.  Here are my favorite RIE basics that I still practice everyday with my kids (now ages 2 and 5).

Respect your kids, see them as intelligent, enlightened beings.. not objects.

Be present. Especially during feeding, bathing and bed times.

Be patient, slow down to their pace.

Communicate your actions beforehand and encourage their involvement in everything.

Inspire active play with passive toys. Avoid passive play with active toys or screens.

Trust their own ability to learn, develop and problem solve.

Have clear boundaries, offer clear choices.

For all things RIE, one of the best bloggers and writers is Janet Lansbury , she has an abundance of knowledge and information.

If you are a new or soon to be parent and want to find classes in your area click HERE  Also, the annual RIE conference is coming up at the end of the month. For more info click HERE

 

Hello Parenthood!

Hello world! I’m back from my long hiatus..

Over one year ago on March 20th, 2013 I gave birth to a perfect, beautiful baby boy named Leo and it was the most epic, emotional and incredible experience of my life. Even though I was technically ready, I had no idea what to expect.. it almost felt like looking toward a blank slate, that our lives as we knew it was ending and would never be the same again..

Leo is 15 months old today and we feel as though he has been in our lives forever. Parenthood has taught me how to be selfless, how to be a better partner, how to overcome challenges and how to live a more simple, balanced life.  How beautiful to feel yourself evolve as a human being and to witness creation in it’s most purist form.. AMAZING!

After many months away I have so much to share.. so stay tuned as I hope to have new posts coming regularly!

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Not So Fresh and Clean ~ How to avoid hidden toxins in your home!

More and more people are starting to educate themselves on what they perceive to be healthy. With information being easier to come by, consumers of all types are no longer letting companies tell them what they should or shouldn’t do. As many of us know, we can find toxins and nasty chemicals in almost everything, but are we really paying attention to the many hidden toxins used everyday in our homes that are having lasting negative and sometimes deadly effects on our health over time. Some of  the main sources of hidden toxins in your home and how to avoid them are :

Cleaning Products – According to the US EPA, levels from pollutants indoors can be two to more than 100 times higher than outdoors, and the number one culprit for indoor pollution are our very own cleaning products. Some of the top-selling daily products are the most dirty and toxic: Lysol Antibacterial Spray, which ads encourage parents to spray wherever children play, contains denatured ethanol (which can cause central nervous system depression) and alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, a known pesticide.

Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to avoid chemical-laden cleaners. Shop for cleaning products carefully –  Avoid any product labeled antibacterial. On safe cleaning products, they are usually listed. Most of the ingredients should be recognizable names — citrus or coconut extracts, for example — not what appear to be answers to a chemistry quiz. Or better yet, make your own! Good old unscented soap and water has worked for centuries, and there’s no reason to change now. Add baking soda; borax; essential oils, such as lavender; lemon and other citrus extracts; distilled white vinegar; vegetable soaps or dyes; and linseed oi. For more info about non toxic products to buy or how to make your own click HERE

Fabric Softeners/Dryer Sheets – Fabric softeners are made to stay in your clothing for long periods of time. As such, chemicals are slowly released either into the air for you to inhale or onto your skin for you to absorb. Dryer sheets are particularly noxious because they are heated in the dryer and the chemicals are released through dryer vents and out into the environment.

Vinegar (among all the other amazing things it can do) is a natural fabric softener. It also removes soap residue, neutralizes tough odors and reduces dryer static. You can add vinegar directly to laundry during the rinse cycle or pour vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser (or fabric softener ball if your machine is dispenserless) of your washing machine.

In the dryer, grab and old, cotton washcloth that is ready for retirement. Add 3-5 drops of essential oil of your choice (Whole Food’s 365 eucalyptus oil is my favorite – and very affordable!) to your cloth and throw it in the dryer with a load. Replenish cloth with 3-5 drops between each dryer load. Also, wool dryer balls are a great alternative for softness and will shorten the duration of drying time. To buy or to find out more click HERE.

Furniture / Mattresses – Flame retardants are chemicals added to furniture to reduce the risk of fire. Unfortunately, many of these chemicals which settle into household dust, get on our hands and enter our bodies when we eat—are also associated with endocrine disruption, reproductive disorders, and possibly even cancer. Before buying, always check to make sure it is free of flame retardants.

Guruji ~ In Memoriam April 7th,1920 – December 11th, 2012

“Age is a cage where I sit and watch my youth pass by, Though I cannot run as fast as I did before, musically I think I am better than ever for sure. Should I be missing my youth, or thank the Lord and rejoice in the everlasting magic of the music. ” Ravi Shankar 2010

Last month I was struck with grief after hearing about the death of our beloved Guruji, Pandit Ravi Shankar. Raviji had suffered from upper respiratory and heart issues over the past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last month at a hospital in San Diego. Although the surgery went well, he was not able to recover and transcended back to the heavens at the age of 92 on Dec 11, 2012.

I feel so blessed to have had the amazing opportunity to know him and his family personally since 2007. As a sitar player and student of Indian Classical music, I was fortunate to be able to play tanboura for him on three concert occasions in Modesto CA, Dallas TX and Los Angeles CA. Over the past few years in addition to the music, I was able to help him relieve his pain through bodywork. He was my oldest client! During the sessions he would make me laugh telling amazing stories about his life and would ask about my husband Andrew and how my sitar practice was going. His amazing energy and light that always shined through his eyes no matter how lousy he felt was true evidence of the soul’s presence and agelessness. To me, he was the closest I ever felt to being in the presence of an enlightened being. I will always remember and cherish those quiet moments I shared with him.

His memorial was held on Thursday, Dec 20th 2012 in Encinitas and was beautiful, but bitter sweet. The legendary musician was remembered as an unfailingly generous teacher with a gentle spirit and sense of humor whose music fostered understanding between East and West. Different family members spoke as well as  Isreali conductor Zubin Mehta who said he felt like a ‘little crumb’ listening to him play. Olivia Harrison also eloquently spoke saying Raviji helped a young George Harrison achieve a more meaningful life. She said, “They were like father and son as well as brothers and he completely transformed (George’s) musical sensibilities. They exchanged ideas and melodies until their hearts and minds were intertwined like a double helix.”

As a performer, composer, teacher and writer over an 80+ year career, he has done more for Indian music than any other musician. Like Mozart or Beethoven, Raviji’s music and legacy will never be forgotten. May he continue to inspire and influence many generations to come.

BE the Change

Every now and then you come across a cause or movement that really inspires you. Last weekend, 60 Minutes on CBS aired an amazing story titled ‘Children Helping Children’ about the success of the non-profit organization called  ‘Free the Children’ and I was so moved that I had to share.

Free The Children’s mission is to create a world where all young people are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of social change. Founded by Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he gathered 11 school friends to begin fighting child labor. He was only 12. Today, Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner, with more than 1.7 million youth involved in innovative education and development programs in 45 countries.

Every year Free The Children host’s ‘We Day’ to inspire youth to take action and get involved. The event brings together a stadium full of elementary and secondary students who have committed to a minimum of one local and one global action. It’s a day of celebration, with live music performances and inspirational speakers, (now in eight cities across Canada, and growing).

We Day is mainly an educational event, but it’s impact has sparked a movement of young people leading local and global change. We Day is tied to the yearlong We Act program, which offers curricular resources, campaigns and materials to help turn the day’s inspiration into sustained activation.

To learn more or if you missed the 60 Minutes broadcast click HERE.

Find Your Passion and Do what you Love!

Throughout the ages, many wise people have said that to find true joy and happiness, you have to fulfill your passion, love your life and continue to be inspired by your work. I believe this to be so true today as ever before!

In his 2005 Stanford commencement address, Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on.”

The Holstee Manifesto is one of my favorite manifestos for the creative life, for the life of purpose and a daily reminder of what matters most. The first part states, “This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.”

For soul searchers and parents of kids whose direction is unclear here is a breakthrough book about talent, passion, and achievement from one of the world’s leading thinkers on creativity and self-fulfillment, Ken Robinson Ph.D. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything is the point at which natural talent meets personal passion. When people arrive at the Element, they feel most themselves and most inspired and achieve at their highest levels.

MUSIC FOR RELAXATION

As a longtime massage therapist, I am always searching for new relaxing, beautiful music to add to my playlist because as you could imagine.. I hear the same things over and over again. Over the years I have noticed that I’ve gotten much more picky about which songs or albums to buy. My standards have become this – the tracks can’t be too busy or have any fast build ups, have any vocals in English, or be to cheezy like ‘new age music’ can be. I tend toward world music artists that have a spiritual feel. Here are my top 5 albums for relaxation, yoga, meditation, reading or even to get inspired. All are available on itunes!

1) Night Book – Ludovico Einuaudi

2) The Spirit of Yoga – Ben Leinbach

3) Shamanic Dream 2 – Anugama

4) Music for Yoga and Other Joys – Ben Leinbach & Jai Uttal

5) Voice of the Esraj – Benjy Wertheimer

Local Escapes to Restore, Renew and Reflect!

This time of year we’re drawn to go inwards, to create new beginnings and transform old habits. Fall is a great time to make a shift – For health reasons or to boost immunity, to focus the mind how to accomplish new goals for the coming year, and uplift our spirits to reset our attitudes. Here are my favorite local escapes to amazing retreat centers that are guaranteed to nurture your body, mind and soul!

Esalen Institute – Big Sur, Ca

If you have never been to Esalen, prepare to be blown away! Situated on 27 acres of spectacular Big Sur coastline, The Esalen Institute was founded in 1962 as an alternative educational center devoted to the exploration of what Aldous Huxley called the “human potential”- the world of unrealized human capacities that lies beyond the imagination. Esalen soon became known for its blend of East/ West philosophies, its experiential/ didactic workshops, the steady influx of philosophers, psychologists, artists, and religious thinkers, and its breathtaking grounds and natural hot springs. Offering 500 workshops each year in a wide range of topics. For more info click HERE

Optimum Health Institute – San Diego, Ca

The Optimum Health Institute offers an amazing holistic approach to the treatment of cancer, heart disease and other terminal illnesses. Many friends and clients have gone or taken relatives for a week or month and return transformed – physically, mentally and spiritually. OHI provides a holistic healing program where participants cleanse and nourish the body with diet, fasting and exercise; quiet and focus the mind with journaling and meditation; and renew and awaken the spirit with study, prayer and celebration. For more info click HERE

The Blue Pearl – Laguna Beach, Ca

Created by two world-renowned yogis, Geo and Katresha, The Blue Pearl Laguna not only offers a calming and gorgeous escape, it also provides proven results. Nestled amongst the trees in Laguna Canyon, this twelve-bedroom, twelve-bath luxurious ashram offers single week and multi-week programs, designed to harness the transformative powers of yoga and nature. Enjoy pure organic food, daily yoga, hiking, massage and meditation. For more info click HERE

BACK TO LIFE ~ The inspiring true story of courage and the will to survive.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

In life we all will experience hardship and triumph, suffer through illness and celebrate another year of good health. Although, we all go through the ups and downs life brings, we never expect things to change so fast or to overnight lose control over it all.  Almost four years ago, I got a call from my mom that my beautiful, healthy, amazing cousin Penny was holding on to her life by a thread. I almost fell off my chair in shock and couldn’t believe it.

Penny was happily vacationing with her family in Palm Springs when she fell gravely ill. Her husband took her to the local hospital to get checked out and the doctor told her to take a few over the counter pills and sent her home. About six hours later, she returned back to the hospital barely able to walk and after they finally admitted her, she fell into a coma diagnosed with TSS, (Toxic Shock Syndrome) and was teetering on the brink of life and death.

Miraculously Penny survived and came back to life after 3 months of being in a coma. After overcoming many obstacles, years of pain and grueling rehabilitation she is thriving again.  A few months ago she wrote about her experience for the first time and it is such an unbelievable account of strength, courage and the will to survive. I hope that her story will inspire you as it continues to inspire me and will remind you not to sweat the small stuff in life.

Here is the link to Penny Fisher’s Story: Surviving a Coma AND Staying Fun Mommy

Why Organic Matters

As a health food advocate, vegetarian and environmental activist I always seem to get into heated discussions about why organic matters. There is either a lack of information out there, or plenty of false, biased information coming from the major food industries that want the monopoly of our food supply. Eating organic food and supporting organic farming is simply healthier for our bodies, the animals, the soil and the  planet! Here are my Top 5 reasons why organic matters.

1. Chemical Toxins – Conventionally grown crops are sprayed with significant amounts of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, and chemical fertilizers. Recent cancer rates are as high as one out of every two people and chemical toxins are a leading cause. To learn more click HERE

2. More Nutrients – Scientific evidence shows organic food to have far greater nutrient levels than conventionally farmed food. Although organic food is more expensive, you can’t put a price tag on good health. For more info click HERE

3. Healthier Livestock– Buying certified organic animal products ensures that the animals they came from were raised humanely and were not fed any chemicals, drugs, or hormones. Today, hundreds or thousands of factory farm animals are crammed into indoor warehouses, unable to move, forced to live in their own fecal matter, and never see natural sunlight. To learn more click HERE

4. Carbon Footprint – Research has found organic agriculture to be up to a 60% smaller carbon footprint than conventional. Soil is the foundation of the food chain and the primary focus of organic farming is to use practices that build healthy soils. In response to the rapid pace of global climate change caused by human activity, the Marin Carbon Project seeks to enhance carbon sequestration in range land, agricultural, and forest soils through applied research, demonstration and implementation. Click HERE to find out more.

5. On & Off Farm Pollution – Giant livestock farms, which can house hundreds of thousands of pigs, chickens, or cows, produce vast amounts of waste, often generating the waste equivalent of a small city. Industrial agriculture doesn’t singularly pollute farmland and farm workers; it also wreaks havoc on the environment downstream. Pesticide drift affects non-farm communities with odorless and invisible poisons. The elimination of polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, done in combination with soil building, protects and conserves water resources. Click HERE for more.