2018 is the year of getting better, of being better, both physically and mentally. I’m a mom of 3 children, and I’m very determined to stick to my new year’s resolution of being and doing better.

I want to be the mom that does as she says she will, and I don’t want my kids to see me do any different. Children pick up on everything, even those moods you think you’re hiding so well, and it affects them.

We all want our kids to grow up to be happy and healthy and, though this took me a few years to realize, a lot of that is looking after yourself. It’s strange way to think at first. It’s almost selfish. I’m a mom, I’m so used being the caretaker to others that being the caretaker for myself made me feel like I was taking away from my children.

Instead, I’m helping them by helping myself be the healthiest I can be. Mindfulness has improved all aspects of my life, including my work life and my home life.

Here are the 4 simple things that have changed my life 18 days into the new year.

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Not too long ago, I saw a Facebook comment on a George Takei post. A man from the Baby Boomer generation was going on a rant about the Narcissistic Generation & Millennials and how they were useless, lazy, didn’t know what they were doing, didn’t have real jobs, didn’t buy houses and more. It was quite a list of sins.

One particular thing which stuck out to me was his vehement claim of narcissism. This online stranger claims that millennials are selfish, self-absorbed narcissists.

Narcissistic Generation or a Value-Shift?

I don’t normally engage with random people on the web; however, his passionate rant rubbed me the wrong way.

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No one learns without failing or making mistakes. Yet, we as parents often forget this universal truth as we raise our children. Instead of pushing them to take risks, experiment and uncover their true potential, we refuse to let them learn from their failures.

However, shielding our children from risks only cripples their ability to learn new skills and prevents them from discovering their innate abilities. It also hinders them from learning how to overcome failure and adapt to change- key attributes required for personal growth.

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We live in a society in which we connect with technology hourly, but sadly don’t have much time or inclination to connect with nature. We’re missing out! Being in nature is good for the mind, body, and spirit, with research showing how it can make us happier and boost physical recovery from illness. Best of all, reaping the benefits of nature doesn’t require a weekend getaway in the mountains. You can achieve them with some light gardening. Here’s how gardening can help you reconnect with nature, which will make you a better person.

Have you ever experienced being in nature and feeling better about life and yourself? Perhaps feeling the sun on your shoulders and watching the beauty of the sun filtering through the trees made you feel more alive? It’s not your imagination to experience these things. Here’s how gardening benefits you.

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As parents of teenagers, you can think of many things that cause you worry and anguish. Likely near the top of such a list are their interactions with bad teen friends. Years of effective parenting can unravel with a few bad choices made via the influence of negative peers.

Luckily, you have many practical steps you can take to help guide your teenagers through this time when peer influence is at its strongest.

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Building teen trust can be hard at times. Your teenagers are experiencing a transitional stage of life, enjoying more freedom than they had during childhood, and the taste of freedom can be addictive. As the parent, you place a certain amount of trust in your teen, hoping they will not abuse their freedom. But sometimes poor choices are made and that trust is broken.

I understand dealing with the shifting dynamics of trust between parents and teens can be difficult. As I have advised many parents of troubled teens, I have compiled some advice for you parents out there who are struggling with trusting your own teens.

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Being a parent is not easy and this is especially true in the age of social media, smart phones and the Internet. More than ever, parents need to monitor their children and what they are looking at online. Plus, there is the added challenge of talking to kids of all ages about gender roles and discipline in the home.

Eric Gati, the founder of CynicalParent.com, has published the results of a new study that touches on the above subjects. Gati says he “learned a lot in this study, like the fact that there are more than a handful of very common fears that parents have about their kids using smartphones and social media, either from too young of an age or for too many hours per day. We also learned that 98% of parents find it important to monitor this, we were amazed at how conscious parents are of the inherent risks of social media”.

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Wolves

On my moms’ refrigerator, there is a quote. My older sister put it there many years ago and it stayed. Every time I visit my parents and open the refrigerator, I read it. It says:

“When you get angry, you punish yourself for other people’s stupidity”

I remember myself being very angry as a kid (surprisingly, this was before my teen years). Life just did not work the way I wanted it to work – people did not behave the way I expected them and my actions did not get me where I wanted to be. Life pretty much sucked (I hope it is OK to say “sucked” in a post, because it explains how I felt perfectly).

It took me a while to understand what this quote meant, but when I did, a huge, heavy load came off my young shoulders. Realizing that anger was a poison I was carrying with me was a big revelation – scary, but very relieving. My life has been much happier since.

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Bus waiting at a station

I like to walk around our beautiful neighborhood in the morning. It is one of the things that make me happy. I do it to warm up my body and mind, get my creative juices flowing (into the voice recorder on my mobile phone) and be ready for another great day.

About half way through my walk, when I was already going at a good pace and feeling pretty pumped, I saw a young Chinese woman leaving one of the houses and saying goodbye to a young man standing on the doorstep.

Suddenly, the young woman noticed a bus at a stop about 200 meters away. She became visibly uptight, her pitch rose and she looked like she was asking the young man what to do (as I do not speak Chinese, this is all my interpretation).

The man gestured towards the bus and looked like he was urging the woman to run for it and try to catch it. She kept pleading with him until he joined her and they started running toward the bus stop.

By the time they decided to run and crossed the street, I had been half way to the bus and it was still there. There were no passengers in sight, its doors were closed and it kept waiting.

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News flash

In our time, pressure seems to be everywhere. There is a wealth of information like never before, which means we could find out about anything we wanted, only this takes time, so we look for “drip feeds” that will give us up-to-the-minute updates and we assume our sources do a reasonable job at finding and telling things as they are.

Reality is a bit different, unfortunately. Most of our information feeds are controlled by a fairly small group of huge profit-driven conglomerates, which make their money by selling. To sell well, they need people to “see red”, so they inspire fear via TV news broadcasts, bold newspaper headlines and various other methods.

The result of this is the general view that violent crime is everywhere, that different people cannot live together in harmony and that all too often, the only way to sort things out is to wage war on another ethnic group or country, even at the cost of “friendly” life.

So what can you do?

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