Setting Intentions: Gosia Narula of Mighty Beads

“Energy flows where intention goes.” – Author Unknown

A couple weeks ago, Nicole Linn helped me clear the negative energy from my home. After she showed all of us how to successfully smudge our spaces, she was kind enough to do a home clearing for me. (I welcome any opportunity to get rid of the “junk” and bring more positivity into my life! Who wouldn’t?) After she performed the clearing, she mentioned that GREEN and GOLD stood out to her, and that I should bring these colors into my life and my home as often as possible.

You know how I don’t like forcing things and opt to keep myself open to the “magic” of life unfolding naturally? Buckle up for this one …

Not long after Nicole’s clearing, I bumped into Gosia Narula at our town’s recycling center. (We met several months ago during my visit to Araya Rebirth, where she works as an aesthetician.) Oddly enough, a few days prior, I had been scrolling through her business’s Instagram page, admiring her beautiful pieces and thinking to myself that I’d love to collaborate with her in some way. When I saw her, she hugged me and told me she wanted to make me a Mighty Beads bracelet. I got chills down my spine. I immediately knew what I needed my bracelet to incorporate … the colors green and gold.

So, what are Mighty Beads?

It was a dream of hers for as long as she can remember that finally came to fruition about one year ago; Gosia began making beautiful custom-made (and ready-made) malas, necklaces and bracelets out of semi-precious stones. (I know right now my mom is reading and asking, “What the heck is a mala?” Similar to rosary beads, a mala, or Buddhist prayer beads, are a tool used to count the number of times a mantra is recited, breaths while meditating, etc.) The timing was finally right for Gosia and Mighty Beads was born.

The semi-precious stones in her pieces come from the earth. Holding them close to your body is believed by many to promote emotional, physical and spiritual healing. They are said to interact with your energy field, or chakra. Gosia explains, “Vibes and waves affect our energy. Just like a microwave or Wi-Fi interferes with our energy, crystals affect our energy in a positive way.” Some reading may have doubts … I personally believe in the power of positive thinking and visualizing your intentions.

Speaking of intentions … Gosia asked me for mine. (Perhaps not so) ironically, my intentions matched up to the colors green and gold, and she incorporated them into my bracelet beautifully.

in·ten·tion

inˈten(t)SH(ə)n/ 

noun

  1. a thing intended; an aim or plan.

“she was full of good intentions”

Here’s the bracelet that Gosia made for me. I’ve had it for a little over a week now and I’ve worn it every single day. Isn’t it so beautiful? It makes me happy.

These are the stones that Gosia used, along with what they’re said to do:

Moss Agate – A stone of wealth, attracts abundance. Improves self-esteem and strengthens positive personality traits. Encourages expanding one’s personal space and growth.

Jade – Attracts good luck, friendships and prosperity.

Green Aventurine – Know as the luckiest stone, invites good luck and prosperity for one’s life. It is a great comforter and the heart healer. Protects one’s energy.

Sunstone – A joyful stone. It restores the enjoyment of life, good nature and provides a sense of abundance.

Gosia Narula

Gosia, a Bergen County mom of two young children, loves witnessing her pieces come together, and feels such joy watching others wear the jewelry, knowing that they’ll experience good things from them. She says it “melts (her) heart.” Gosia has made custom pieces for suicide survivors, cancer fighters, those seeking strength and success … the possibilities are endless

To view more of Gosia’s pieces or to place a custom order, visit her website: http://www.mightybeads.com. You can also follow Mighty Beads on Instagram: @mightybeadshop.

ENTER TO WIN A CUSTOM-MADE MIGHTY BEADS BRACELET! 

What are your intentions for your life at this moment? Visit my Instagram page and enter to win a Mighty Beads bracelet for yourself or someone you have good intentions for. If you don’t have Instagram, feel free to drop your comments below and follow Stylish Mama AND Mighty Beads on Facebook!

Contest ends on Sunday, October 14, 2018 at midnight EST. One winner will be randomly chosen and notified.

  

Thanks for reading! Head back to the Stylish Mama site for more!

Liza XO

P.S. One of my favorite things about running my Instagram page and writing my blog is connecting people. This time, naturally, I’ve connected Nicole Linn and Gosia Narula … some pretty cool things are brewing with this perfect duo! Keep your eyes and ears open for details … I’ll keep you in the loop, of course!

P.S. Almost forgot to mention … you can pick up ready-made Mighty Beads at Araya Rebirth in Ridgewood!

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Burn, Baby, Burn! How to Clear Your Space of Lingering Negative Energy

*Consciousness educator and energy practitioner, Nicole Linn, helps us clear out the crap and start fresh this fall.*

I am a very spiritual person. I believe everyone and everything is connected and that we need to keep our hearts open to the messages all around us. If you pay attention, you’ll be amazed at how everything flows and guides us. I love to have conversations with anyone who is open to chatting about this, so clearly, Nicole is someone who’s right up my alley. I find her fascinating for several reasons, but mainly because she’s super-spiritual … and she covers up curse words in her writing with asterisks. It’s the Jersey in us … and it feels like home. Get your smudge sticks and your lighters ready … Nicole is going to help us clear out all the crap! – Liza XO

Burn, Baby, Burn! How to Clear Your Space of Lingering Negative Energy

A guest blog by “Spiritual Mama,” Nicole Linn

Sage! Palo Santo! Sweet Grass, oh my!!!

It’s the number one question I’m asked …

“How do I sage my home?”

I also get, “Can I use palo santo instead because sage smells like ___?” LOL.

You may have wondered yourself why you should burn this stuff, and when is the best time? Inquisitive minds with a pull toward spiritual growth are the ones filling my inbox with these types of questions.

People typically tend to talk about this topic and ask about the ins and outs of the process after they’ve had houseguests, a party, or even just some “stop by” company.

Why?

Well, people carry all sorts of energy with them. Energy has the ability to linger long past the source of it has gone, thus affecting the vibe in your space. Ever had the feeling, or even said aloud, “Jeez, that person is so draining?” That phrase in and of itself is totally talking about energy. It’s not weird to feel that way; it’s actually a pretty cool thing because it means you’re super-aware of yourself and your energetic field. You are increasing your consciousness!

So, here we are … summer is out, September is here. School has sprung, and we are given yet another opportunity to start fresh. What a wonderful feeling! Along with all the “new” this time of year brings, why don’t we add a “high vibin’ space” to all of it?! This is a perfect time to clear out all that stagnant energy and get everything flowing again.

Here are the basic steps for clearing your abode of unwanted sh*t …

CLEARING YOUR SPACE

The way our space feels is pivotal to our wellbeing. When I say “space” I am referring to any area that’s yours. Obviously, your home is the first and foremost area that needs constant clearing, and you also should clear the space where you work. Basically, any area that you spend a significant amount of time living in, needs to be cleared periodically.

Wouldn’t it be great if you were calling me every week to clear your space for you? Abso-fu**ing-lutely! But, I know that is just not realistic. What is realistic is to do it yourself! You might be wondering how … and I’m going to teach you!

Supplies needed:
White pillar candle
White sage bundle
Palo santo stick
Lighter

Steps:

1. Be alone.
2. Light the candle
3. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. If any thoughts come into your mind, acknowledge them and release them. Once you feel peaceful, light your sage bundle.
4. Wave the lit sage around your body. (This clears your energy field.)
5. Walk through each room of your home, holding the burning sage. As you go to each corner of the room, ask for all negative energies to be rid from the space. Open the window as you are doing this. Visualize the energy as a dark smoke leaving the space.
6. Continue this process throughout your home.
7. Once each room is completed, go back to where you started. Snuff out the sage.
8. Light your palo santo (this is a bit difficult to do – be patient! Once it catches fire, let it burn for a few seconds and blow the flame out. Now it should be burning like incense.)
9. Walk through your home with the burning palo santo in gratitude. Visualize beautiful white diamond light flooding your space. Close your windows as you do this.
10. Return to your starting space and say aloud, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

How often should you do this?

Whenever you feel called to, honestly. You are an extremely aware being … listen to yourself … not what’s going on in your head … listen to your heart. If you feel your space needs it, then clear it!

Nicole Linn is a consciousness educator and energy practitioner in Bergen County, New Jersey. For more information about Nicole’s services and to book a consultation, visit her website (www.nicolealinn.com).

You can also follow her on Instagram (@nicolealinn) and on Facebook

#lovelightlivelight 

 

Curious how it all goes down? For some videos and photos of Nicole saging my home, check out @stylishmama!

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Filling the Void

Guest Blog by Health & Fitness “Mama”, Anyssa Lucena

What makes you happy? A simple enough question, but a really difficult one to answer sometimes. Things that make me happy are climbing outside with friends, going for a walk alone on an unknown trail, spending time with my kids. Easy stuff. Yet, I often find myself … somehow unhappy. And it’s what we do in those moments that teach us how to grow into better people.

I’ve been spending a lot of time, almost a decade really, working with that space of the uncomfortable void, and learning how to sit with it, accept it and ultimately stop looking for something or someone to fill it. Especially where there are so many wonderful fillers to choose from to numb yourself from the pain. (Sex, shopping, alcohol, food, intense exercise … I’ve used them all.)

My awakening happened a few years ago. I was a stay at home mom with 3 small kids ages 6 months, 2 and 4 years old. You know how people come up to you and say something like, “Wow! You’ve got your hands full!” Well, I did. You know what I mean. I know you can relate. My days were based on routine with my babies, but I lacked something deeper inside. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but part of me was hollow. My soul felt vacated.

@genuineselfwellness

I decided to perk myself up a bit, got my mom to babysit the kids, and headed to the mall for some much needed quiet time and to “treat” myself with some shopping. There was nothing specific I had in mind to get, but I thought I’d find something. I wandered around the jewelry counters and looked for something … something “blingy”… something uplifting … something fun. I found this owl necklace that had a clock on it. It was cute. I bought it. Why not.

Later that day at home, after another long day with the kids … I sat and looked at my self gift. I hung it around my neck, and checked myself out in the mirror. It was cute. It was whimsical. It felt playful and free. However, It wasn’t very practical … I mean, who looks at a necklace to see what time it is?

Then it hit me. Kinda all at once. Like a punch to the stomach. It wasn’t playful. I didn’t feel free. I still felt empty. Vacant. Longing. I could have bought anything at the store that day and it wouldn’t have made a bit of a difference. There was a real, true unhappiness inside me that no material purchase could relieve. I returned the necklace the next day and actually felt more powerful, more in control, and filled with purpose and meaning returning it, than I did purchasing it.

I was trying to fill my emptiness with a thing. This was my personal turning point for knowing that there was something deeper inside that needed a close looking at. A few months later, I asked my husband for a divorce.

This initial first time ever realization of knowing I was turning to something else to feed an emotional need started me on the path of understanding what filling the void was all about.

Alcohol was a similar numbing tool that I noticed was playing an increasing role in my life. Although I don’t consider myself a textbook alcoholic, I noticed I was turning to that glass of something red when I was feeling upset, lonely, stressed … you name it. So many times, a quick glass of wine helped temporarily soothe the “rough spots”, and helped me not think of something uncomfortable, take some pain away, or otherwise distract me from the growth and work that I needed to take on. At times it helped me fit in, feel less vulnerable or pretend I was having fun, or enjoying others’ company (when I really wasn’t). I tried quitting on and off for years, and finally something clicked and I gave it up last August.

Now I actually enjoy those moments where I can sit and be angry or sad, disappointed or anxious. Heartbroken or lonely or scared. And I’m not afraid of that anymore. I welcome experiencing new potentially uncomfortable situations because I’m less worried about the outcome. Because I know I can take it on. Makes me feel kinda like a superhero. It’s been a long time since I felt this kind of pride in myself. Like the kind of proud you feel when your kid does something fucking awesome. It’s not just about saying “no” to a drink, it’s about finally trusting yourself to know that you’re capable of greatness. Here’s a little secret about being sober: I find that I’m living every minute of my life more authentically. I am braver. I am unapologetic.

@genuineselfwellness

This is not to say I’m completely addiction free. I still find myself looking to soothe my pain away with chocolate, baked goods or other sugary goodness. Although now, I am completely aware of what is causing me to turn to bad stuff to soothe me. I’m so much better at recognizing it, and can usually find a way to turn myself around and make better decisions. I sit in discomfort. I exercise the “this sucks” emotional muscle just like I train any other muscle at the gym.

@genuineselfwellness

Learning to sit in the void is an ongoing process. It sucks, but it’s the essence of the human experience. It’s real and it’s universal. So, I guess my advice is: find out what makes you happy. Try to do that stuff as much as you can. Life is short. And when you’re feeling down, crappy, unloved, disappointed, etc… Try sitting in that painful spot and see what comes out of it. Sit and repeat. Constant growth. Continuous learning. Unwavering self-love, acceptance and compassion is the only way to get through it.

*********

Anyssa Lucena is a climbing guide, health coach, personal trainer and fitness enthusiast who is passionate about inspiring women to reach their full potential through health awareness, self love, and outdoor life. She teaches rowing classes in her home studio in Montvale, NJ and climbing classes at The Gravity Vault in Upper Saddle River, NJ. She also runs various group programs for weight loss and healthy living. You can find out more and contact her at www.genuineselfwellness.com, or on Facebook: Anyssa Lucena and Instagram: @genuineselfwellness.

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Second Chances: Our Family Trip to the Bergen County Horse Rescue

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – Dalai Lama

I can’t quite wrap my head around how anyone could intentionally hurt another being … ESPECIALLY a harmless, helpless one. I ask myself how this could be more frequently than I’d like to, but the fact remains that it still happens. Chances are good that we almost always can’t prevent the abuse from occurring, but we can help those who have been neglected and have suffered and learn from those who have survived.

Nothing fascinates me – or quite puts things into perspective for me – as spending time with another being who has struggled and still persists; it’s humbling and inspiring. Up until now, it’s been other humans who have had this effect on me. I’ve come to realize that this response can come just as easily from animals, too.

My mom stumbled upon a beautiful farm on the way back from my niece’s ballet recital at Ramapo College in Mahwah a few weeks ago, and just as my mom would, she pulled right over and started asking questions. She made an appointment for a tour, as required (they ask for a donation in exchange), and brought us all back with her on a recent, beautiful, sunny Sunday. One of the Bergen County Horse Rescue’s volunteers, Karen (who has been around horses her whole life), walked us around the grounds and enticed some of the horses with peppermints so we could meet them and get a closer look. She told us how quickly time passes there when she volunteers at the BCHR.

Karen, my brother, and 2 of his 3 little ones.  

We learned so many fascinating things about these beautiful animals during our tour of the grounds. One of the things Karen said that struck me the most was that the volunteers often make assumptions on what a horse’s upbringing was like based on how they interact with other humans and animals. Some don’t react well to men and these horses below in particular were visibly excited to see the kids coming, leading the volunteers to believe they must have been around children often in their “past lives”.

We were missing 1 cute little stinker when we visited the horse farm. We will come back with my other niece when she’s a little older!
Jupiter & Olive

The rescue, founded in 2016, is currently at their maximum capacity; it houses 23 horses … and even a donkey and some goats. These animals have been rescued from all over the country from neglect, abuse, being euthanized or sold to become horse meat (they’ve had to outbid proprietors). At the BCHR, the horses receive love and comfort from other humans and can mingle peacefully on the 17 acres of farmland with other horses.

The barns are only freshly painted on the bottom because the volunteers aren’t permitted to climb ladders.

Most of the horses on the farm belong to the rescue, but some belong to individuals who fund their maintenance. Since the rescue is run with donations and volunteerism, money is needed to pay for their care, and supplies are also greatly appreciated. Last year, all but one of the horses suffered from the flu and the veterinary expenses were astronomical. The goal of the rescue is to rehabilitate the horses (this includes earning their trust) and get them ready for adoption. This is in no way a quick or easy process; it takes a lot of time, work and patience.

My tiny niece and tiny horses! Meet Rain & Mason. There is one more mini horse on the farm: Summer.
The farm is also home to 5 goats.

So, what can we learn from a horse who has struggled and managed to survive? There is an undeniable unspoken peacefulness that comes from looking into their eyes, but If these horses were able to talk, I think they’d tell us:

1. Everyone … and everything … deserves a second chance.  

2. When we care for others, we are helping ourselves the most.

3. Don’t ever give up hope.  

While it’s difficult to imagine how someone could harm an animal, our trip to the BCHR was a more meaningful reminder to me about how wonderful people can be. There are currently 30 volunteers that give their time to the rescue and care for these animals so that they can have another chance at life. It’s definitely not glamorous by any means, but certainly gratifying, to say the least.

Laz & Liza (me). <3

The Bergen County Horse Rescue operates on donations and volunteerism. Consider a trip solo, with your family, Daisy troop … whatever … just get there! I promise that you won’t regret going. In fact, you’ll be better for making the trip. Our family will certainly be back.

My littlest has always been a huge animal lover. She jumped right in to pet every horse she met. This is Goldie, the oldest horse on the farm at age 43. (Horses typically live 25-30 years.) Goldie has a sway back and a kind soul. She strolled alongside all of us to walk us out.

Have you ever visited somewhere and left better? Some places speak to our souls and leave significant imprints on our hearts. The BCHR was certainly one of those places for me … what special place has had an everlasting effect on you? Tell me in the comments below.

Liza XO

P.S. Want to learn more about the Bergen County Horse Rescue, including ways in which you can help? For more information on the BCHR, visit their website. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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Thanks for bringing us, “Mimi”! XO

“Planting” Perspective

My very first job was at a place called Russell Orchards. I started off working in the farm’s nursery section during the summer months. It was HOT AS HELL in the greenhouse and we always had to wear jeans, despite the temperature. Our boss, Paul, was tough; we were never allowed to sit around. If there weren’t customers in the nursery at the time, he expected us to walk around and study the names of the flowers that filled the greenhouse and prune the plants so everything always looked beautiful. At the time, it wasn’t an ideal scenario for a 14 year-old girl, but looking back, his guidance set precedence for what was expected of me as an employee, and I’ll always carry that with me, gratefully.

Not only did this job help me become a reliable and hard worker, it instilled in me a love for flowers. I still know the names of most annuals and perennials … and I’m a perpetual “plant picker.” If I spot dead flowers or leaves, I can’t help but pluck them off a plant.

I do this often, but tonight when I was removing dead leaves and branches off my hot pink petunia plant that hangs on our deck, I realized how plucking a plant that’s partially dead is an important lesson for us all.

What’s “dead” in your life? What’s holding you back from reaching your full potential?

As I plucked the brownish-gray branches from my petunia plant, I noticed how quickly the parts of the plant that were still alive bounced back even more beautifully than before; it went from being unattractive to stunning with just a bunch of pulls. Letting go of what no longer served the plant helped it to thrive.

I hope that you’re able to let go of what is holding you back from feeling how you want to feel and being what you want to be. Don’t be afraid to pluck what no longer serves you so you can get the most out of life.

Liza XO

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The “Junk” is Making You Miss the Good Stuff

I’ve grown to dread checking my e-mail because my inboxes are overflowing with junk messages that I just don’t want to read. I could spend hours clearing out all the crap that solicitors send me, whether I asked for it or not; the number 934 in a little red circle is glaring at me right now from my phone.  It makes me a little anxious. While signing up for 15% off a shirt 5 years ago that I didn’t need, I unknowingly traded my peace of mind.

Going through all of those e-mails will take more time than I’m willing to spend; I’ve done it before and that number will just creep right back up, pushing all the e-mails and Evites I actually want to see right back down. I’m sure some people will recommend that I “unsubscribe” from e-mails … it sounds like an easy solution, but it doesn’t help. (Has anyone ever tried to unsubscribe from Groupon, by the way? It’s freaking impossible.) I often forget to reply to the “good” e-mails because of all the junk. Do you do that, too? I’ll just click to “keep it as new,” planning to get to it later, and down it goes, to the land of forgotten e-mails. I’ve also been known to accidentally delete important messages in an effort to mass delete the crap.

I’m so sick of the junk. THE JUNK IS MAKING ME MISS THE GOOD STUFF.

The “junk” isn’t just in our inboxes … if you’re aware of it, it’s everywhere.

Let’s face it, whether you’re willing to admit it or not, life with or without kids is overwhelming to begin with. (We are ALL overwhelmed and it’s OK to admit it! There’s no need to be a hero – no-one is giving out medals.) Throw in work, after-school activities, social obligations, errands, bills, fundraisers, unnecessary pressure thrown at us via social media, replying to e-mails, texts, phone calls and direct messages … in 2018, life is more stressful than it should be for all of us.

I miss good, old-fashioned “snail mail.” E-mail and texting was supposed to be easy for all of us, but maybe “easy” is really making things more complicated. By making ourselves so accessible, we’ve made it so simple for people to reach us who really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and we are unintentionally pushing all the things that DO MATTER right down. We are overwhelmed by life’s “junk.”

Close your eyes and take a deep breath … all the way down into your abdomen. Don’t stop at your lungs … GO ALL THE WAY DOWN until your belly puffs out. Ask yourself what truly matters in this moment. Your work can wait; your boss shouldn’t be bothering you now anyway. If you’re running a little late for your 7 year-old’s soccer practice, stop panicking and nearly running people off the road in your minivan. Your kid is 7. And it’s soccer practice. Slow the F down. All of the unnecessary pressure you created for yourself can go scratch. All that matters is the moment you’re in. Really think about what actually matters. You can’t do it all, and that’s OK.

From hereon out, I’m on a mission to declutter my inbox and simply enjoy life. I want to give my kids a life, leading by example, where they can actually live in the moment and appreciate the world around them. I don’t want them to feel constant pressure coming at them from every angle. I want free weekends where we can hike together as a family, no technology allowed, and just talk.

I think it’s important in today’s pressure-filled world for someone to tell you that you are enough. You can’t do it all and no-one expects you to. J.Crew, Groupon and the Children’s Place don’t deserve your attention …you know who does deserve your undivided attention? YOU. Your family. Your friends who are always there for you when you need them. The rest can go scratch.

I’m going to go snuggle on the couch with my kids now.

Liza XO

P.S. Who or what are you going to tell to “go scratch” today? Tell me in the comments below. Then go and truly enjoy your day ~ tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

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5 Things I Know to be True at 40

Turning forty was big for me. In all honesty, despite my positive outlook on life, I kind of dreaded it. At a dinner celebration with my girlfriends, my friend Melanie said, “I feel like we’ve been talking about you turning 40 for years now,” and she was right. I have been “almost 40” since I turned 31 … technically making me “almost 50” now. I think I feel this way because there’s just so much that I want to do and so much that I want to see. Time seems to be racing by.

All photos: @photographybycaranj

But I’m fully aware that I can’t control the future, much like I can’t control the past. I talk about it all the time, but even I need a reminder here and there that all we can control – and all that’s worth our thoughts – is what’s happening right now, in this very moment. This is the reality, but there’s still the dreamer in me that wonders for all of us …

If you could control your past, would you? If you could go back and change an event or action you took in your previous days in some way, what would it be?

I’ve been playing around with the idea for this blog in my head for quite some time now. A few months ago, I asked my Instagram followers for two words that they’d whisper to their younger selves if they could go back in time. Here are some of the responses that were shared with me (I’d love to hear yours in the comments):

• Be you
• Take risks
• Be patient
• Don’t rush
• Be strong
• Calm down
• Start exercising
• Always sparkle
• Don’t worry
• Enjoy it
• Keep trying
• Be confident
• Have courage
• Be grateful
• Don’t quit
• Keep smiling
• Have faith
• Act now
• Be kind
• Love yourself
• Never settle
• Go BIG!

I certainly wouldn’t take back anything … and I mean ANYTHING … that life has handed me. Even when I think back to moments in my life that make me cringe a little still, they’ve made me who I am. All of the happy moments, the sad moments, the pain, the mistakes … I wouldn’t be who I am today if they didn’t all occur, and I am truly grateful for all of it. Because of each event, I am stronger, but gentler. I am braver, but cautious. I know my worth and I am aware that all others are worthy of the same compassion. We all are on our own individual journeys, with experiences unique to us that make us the people we are in this very moment.

For this reason, I wouldn’t go back and whisper anything to myself that would necessarily alter my past, but I would certainly love to enhance my experiences thus far. This is what I would whisper to my younger self, following my rule of two:

1. Create happiness. This one is first for a reason … it’s the most important to me. For so long, I rushed through the present moment and looked for the next “big” events in life to complete me. I felt I needed to speed off to college, get married, get pregnant … I thought that if I had all of those things, I would be happy. Of course, these things do make me happy, but they don’t complete me. I know now that I am the only person who can make myself happy; I am THE CAKE. I wake up daily and make the decision that I’m going to be happy. All of the other things … my kids, my relationships, vacations, etc. … these things are all just icing on the cake that I baked myself. When you are aware of the fact that you are responsible for your own happiness, it’s easier to let go of things and people that aren’t meant for you. Be the cake; the sweet foundation for all good things to come.

2. Take chances. I’ve had two close calls with death; one when I was 26 and another when I was 33. These experiences were two of the greatest gifts I could have ever received. Ever since, I take advantage of every experience that life puts in front of me that speaks to me, even if it’s just a little bit. I’m always “winging it”. Worst-case scenario, I don’t enjoy it and I don’t continue to pursue it. I can guarantee that I will learn and grow from it though. When making a decision, I always ask myself: which would I more likely regret down the road – having tried or not having tried? I don’t ever want to look back with regret. I don’t ever want to say that I wish I had done something but I was too scared to try, or that I was worried about what other people would think. Follow your heart and have confidence that what is meant for you will fall into place when it’s time. All of the worrisome chatter in your mind has no validity.

3. Be honest. For so many years, I was so concerned about other people’s feelings that I wouldn’t always tell the truth; I would tell people what I thought they wanted to hear. Through experience, I’ve learned that it’s so much easier on myself – and others – being straightforward from the get-go. If someone asks me if I want to do something that I don’t want to do, I simply say “no.” It’s liberating and refreshing for all involved, and guess what, the world doesn’t end! I now gravitate toward honest people who speak their minds, but in a kind way, of course. Tell me I’m not being rational. Tell me I look awful in that dress.  Honesty will help me grow as a person.

4. Take shortcuts. I went back and forth between naming this one “take shortcuts” or “f*@! Pinterest.” I enjoy pinning things that I’ll most likely never make just like the rest of you, but I’m done with the pressure to do everything perfectly. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t enjoy a good old Funfetti cake out of the box. I believe it is possible to “do it all” … you just can’t do it all and give EVERYTHING all of your heart and your best efforts. Pick what you really love and run full speed ahead with that. It’s ok to take shortcuts with the rest. Order a pizza, buy an already made cake, and enjoy the time with your company. The time is what matters.

I worked so hard on this cake. Here I am taking it out of the oven. 😉 Photo: @photographybycaranj

5. Don’t expect. This is the toughest one for me; it’s something I still struggle with daily, but I’ll get there. (When you have a big heart and would do just about anything for people, this is a rough one to fully embrace.) I try to remind myself to not take things personally. When someone doesn’t do what you wish they would do, it most likely has nothing to do with you in the first place. Again, we are all on our own unique path.

We can wish to go back and give ourselves some tips to enhance our previous years, but clearly, we can’t. Would we have really understood these words whispered in our ears then anyway? Perhaps it took us all of the growing experiences to truly understand the value of our own advice. Way back when, they would have just been words.

We can’t change what we have experienced already, but what we can do is take these words that we wish we could tell ourselves then, and instead remind ourselves of this advice right now, and from hereon out. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO BE WHO YOU HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE.

You’ve got one shot at this life – shamelessly dive in!

If you could whisper two words to yourself … not then … but right now … what would they be? What’s stopping you from heeding your own advice? Write those words down on a post-it note and hang it on your refrigerator, your mirror, or the dashboard of your car. We can’t alter the past, but we can make the absolute best of every remaining day.

Liza XO

P.S. I’d love to hear what your two words are. Please share them in the comments!

P.P.S. Aren’t these photos great?! Once again, they were taken by the EXTREMELY creative and talented (and super fun to hang with), Cara Polizzi. We always have lots of laughs together! Check her out on Instagram, too: @photographybycaranj.

Like what you’ve read? Head back to my website for more and follow me on social media:

Instagram: @stylishmama
Facebook: @stylishmamablog
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My kids enjoyed this part a little too much …

,,, and so did I.

Head back to the Stylish Mama Blog … 

Make Happiness Your Habit: Teeth Whitening Review

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me, “You’re always smiling,” I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now. Well, maybe I would be since it’s a message I believe is worth spreading, but I’d certainly be writing it on a beach, surrounded by palm trees, probably while sipping some Mai Tais.

It’s quite true … it’s hard to catch me without a smile, and I’m sure it may appear to some who don’t know me too well that my life is always carefree. However, my life isn’t carefree by any means. I’ve been through some things, just like most, that would most likely make your head spin. I have good days and I have bad moments. Despite these moments, I choose happiness over sadness and anger; it’s a much more constructive way to utilize my energy. HAPPINESS HAS BECOME A HABIT FOR ME.

It’s not always easy for me to put a smile on, but whenever I don’t feel like grinning, I remind myself of a few things:

  1. There is so much to be thankful for. If you’re reading this, you are alive. You have your sight. For crying out loud, you have access to the Internet! (By the way, did you know that only 51% of the planet has Internet access?) Be thankful. Direct your focus to the positives in your life, the big and the small.
  2. No matter what I’m going through, there’s someone out there who wishes they had my issues instead of theirs. No matter how bad things seem at the moment, it could be worse.
  3. Whatever life hands me, whether it’s good or bad, is shaping me into who I’m meant to be. Embrace everything that you have been dealt … and be grateful for it.
  4. Forcing a smile upon your face is an instant mood booster for those around you … and for yourself, too. Try smiling at a stranger and I guarantee that you will instantly feel a boost in your mood, and it will be almost impossible for the other person to not smile back. Energies are contagious. Spread good energy.
  5. All that matters is this very moment. Right now. You can’t control what’s already happened and worrying about something that hasn’t even happened – and probably won’t – is totally useless.

All of these points help me maintain myself on the inside, and I believe in maintaining myself on the outside, too. Just like you aim to maintain your weight and your hair color, you should also take care of your teeth before they become too difficult to fix. Being a person who smiles quite often, maintaining a bright smile is something that’s important to me. My teeth were already pretty white before starting Smile Brilliant, but thanks to the multiple cups of coffee I require to function as a 40 year-old mom of 3, they weren’t as white as they could have been.

I’ve tried other whitening kits in the past, which worked, but left my sensitive teeth and gums feeling sore. The strips I’ve tried have been so thin and sticky, and easily slid off, which was uncomfortable and made it difficult to talk while whitening. Smile Brilliant, developed by dental professionals, is quite unique and appealing for several reasons: their whitening trays are comfortable and custom fit to your mouth, and the company offers a special follow-up “desensitizing gel.” Prior to writing this blog, I’ve used the whitening gel and desensitizing gel five times; my smile is even brighter and my teeth and gums aren’t sore AT ALL. Smile Brilliant’s trays also allow you to whiten ALL of your teeth, not just the ones in the front. Here’s how it all works …

The Process: 

The starter kit that Smile Brilliant sent to me consisted of materials for me to create molds of my upper and lower teeth. The pastes were incredibly simple to mix and apply; it couldn’t have been easier to do. I popped the molds I made into the envelope they provided and mailed them back to Smile Brilliant. My molds were used to create lightweight trays that fit my mouth PERFECTLY. I then used the whitening and desensitizing gels according to the directions for five nights. I left the whitening gel on for 45 minutes and then the desensitizing gel for 15-20 minutes.

The Results: 

After 5 applications, I’m happy to report that my teeth are brilliantly white and the whole process was easy and painless. It’s not easy for me to carve out time for myself during the day; it was so simple to slide the trays into my mouth after I got the kids into bed, and then whitened while I folded laundry or did some work on my computer.

I’d recommend Smile Brilliant to anyone with a busy lifestyle who’s serious about his or her smiling game; men and women who get that there’s (almost) always a reason to smile. You may have to dig deep sometimes, but choosing happiness is always worth the effort. Once you get the hang of it, leaning towards a life filled with chosen happiness becomes more of a habit. MAKE HAPPINESS YOUR HABIT. 

Liza XO

P.S. I HAVE EXCITING NEWS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO GIVE WHITENING A TRY! The kind people of Smile Brilliant are giving away a T-3 SENSITIVE TEETH WHITENING SYSTEM (value of $149) to 1 lucky Stylish Mama follower! To enter, CLICK HERE.

For bonus entries, make sure you’re following me on my social media outlets! On Instagram and Facebook, be sure to “like” my posts and tag some friends! If you follow me on Twitter, re-tweet my post for extra brownie points. GOOD LUCK! 

My Before & After Smiles

** Contest closes on April 25, 2018 and is open to residents of the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada. The winner will be selected by Smile Brilliant. 

To receive 15% off storewide, use code: stylishmamablog15

 

Tooth Whitening Gel

Living One Moment at a *Time* … With My Wooden Watch

I want a tattoo. I already have one that I (sort of) regret on my hip. It’s a purple flower that, at 39, is quite absurd. In hindsight, if I could go back in time to that day when I was 17, I probably would have skipped it, but I don’t totally fret over it because it’s really not THAT awful and it’s in a spot where I can hide it easily. Let’s put it this way: it could have been a lot worse. I’ve seen a lot worse.

I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been craving another one. However, I keep thinking that 20+ years from now, there’s a good chance I’ll have doubts about it, just like the one that I (somewhat) regret having now. This time though, I want to do something that has significance to me; something more than just a flower. At the moment, I would love tiny angel wings on my wrist – where I can always see them – for 2 reasons:

1. After 2 close brushes with death (I’ll save that for another blog), I believe there is someone – or something – watching over me closely.

2. My motto in life is simply: “winging it.”

What is “winging it”, exactly? For me, it is living in the moment and embracing what life throws at me … the good and the bad. I’ve found that everything in life unfolds just as it is meant to unfold, so there is no sense in worrying about things that are beyond my control.

Technically, I was “winging it” when I got my first tattoo, but this time, I want it to truly mean something – and I want to be certain about it before I pull the tattoo trigger. So, I decided to test it out for a little while first by simply having it engraved on a piece of jewelry that hangs on my wrist instead. A simple reminder that can be easily taken off each night instead of painfully removed off my skin with lasers down the road.

On the back of my hand-crafted JORD (pronounced /YOAD/ like “TOAD”) wooden watch, I had the words “winging it …” engraved, to remind me to take one moment at a time, and embrace each moment, always. Deciding what to have engraved on my watch was the easy part for me. Deciding which watch to choose was a lot tougher, as JORD has an incredible selection of wooden watches.
For an additional fee, Jord offers engraving, making an already unique gift even more special.

Choosing the Perfect Wooden Watch

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I chose the Zebrawood and Ivory, The Cassia, women’s watch; it’s lightweight, clean and classic, yet unique. It arrived quickly and was packaged beautifully. The wood box, which can also be engraved, is magnetic. The time piece itself has a metal and wood link interlaced band, a full Roman numeral concave dial and domed sapphire glass.

     

What a great gift idea for someone special! What would you have engraved on a JORD wooden watch for yourself, or what would you have engraved on one for someone you love?

I’ve partnered with JORD to offer my followers 10% off of their beautiful, unique and sustainable time pieces. Click here to receive your discount AND to enter to win a $100 credit toward a watch of your choice! * One winner of a $100 credit will be chosen, but all entrants will receive 10% off. Contest ends March 4, 2018 at 11:59 PM. Both the $100 and 10% off codes will be issued when the contest ends and will expire on March 18, 2018. *

You can choose to have your watch sized perfectly when you place your order, or have it sized when it arrives. I chose to have mine fit a little loosely on my wrist, and I love it.

For more inspiration and special offers, follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

Please don’t go! Head back to the “Stylish Mama” site for more!


Watch Gift Ideas

Not Your Average Joey

by Liza Fonti

** We are all inspired by something in particular. For me, it’s people who have struggled and pushed through it to emerge even stronger; the people who don’t get bitter, they get BETTER. Even more than I admire strength, I love to surround myself with people who find joy in making the lives of others brighter. Put the two together, and it’s the perfect storm for me. Joey embodies this perfect storm that I crave. When I decided to write about people that motivate me, naturally, Joey came right to mind. I hope that her story and her mission can inspire others as much as it inspires me. **

Photo: Cara Polizzi, Photography By Cara (Instagram: @photographybycaranj)

One of the first people I met when I began my initial year of teaching was a curly-haired gem named Joey. I instantly knew that her name fit her personality perfectly – she was everything you’d expect a woman named “Joey” to be: kind, bubbly and outgoing. She was also incredibly creative, which I guess you’d assume any art teacher would need to be. She was exceptionally “artsy” though – the sets for all of the kids’ concerts at our elementary school were always outstanding, and she threw together an annual art show like no other. Her energy showed in her work; it was contagious … and it still is.

Even though I haven’t taught in quite a few years, and Joey has since moved to other schools in district, we have remained in touch, mainly thanks to social media. Since the first day we introduced ourselves, I’ve watched Joey thrive in her creative career and become a remarkable mother to her (now teenaged) son, Blake. I’ve also watched her suffer incredible personal losses. She has had some intense ups and downs over the years, and she’s managed to keep her positive spirit through it all.

Joey describes herself as someone who has to keep moving. She has so much energy that it took a fractured foot to (somewhat) slow her down in 2014, but it didn’t stop her creative juices from flowing; instead, it kicked her imagination into higher gear. She couldn’t move around much, but she was still able to order some beginner’s knitting supplies off of Amazon, as she had always been interested in exploring the world of “fiber art”.

Photo: Photography By Cara

It didn’t take long before Joey was knitting hats for individuals in need and recruiting others to join her mission. In the fall of 2014, she established the community Jo-Jo’s Lids for Kids: “where fashion meets charity.” The group knits hats for children – and also adults – who cannot afford to buy them. That January, along with her son, Blake, Joey ventured to two shelters in NYC with an assortment of beautiful handmade hats to do her first “hat drop.” They personally handed the hats out to the homeless, and adorned trees and fences with them, enabling adults and children to help themselves. The tags that hang from each hat read, “If you are COLD, please take me so you can keep warm.” When we last spoke, Joey was getting ready to tag her next batch of hats, soon to be dropped off in a New Jersey inner city.

  

 

Photo by Javier Vargas (Instagram: @javies_photography).

Of course, Joey shares her love of fibers with her students, too. One of the clever hashtags I’ve noticed on her social media posts is: #practicewhatyouteach. She calls this art medium “Knifitti,” and her project was featured a few years back on an episode of Classroom Close-up. Her “Knifitti” adventure goes beyond the classroom, as well. Perhaps you’ve noticed her work at the Ramsey Public Library, or maybe you’ve seen a colorful bench wrapped in yarn along the side of the road that once looked a little “sad”. Her dream, which I have no doubt she will accomplish, is to one day have her own show at the Montclair Art Museum (MAM).

When the school day is over, you’ll most likely find Joey in her home’s art studio, where a funky rack of bright spools of yarn is the focal point. In this simple yet beautifully decorated studio, Joey unwinds by making stunning pieces of jewelry. Not only are these pieces nice to look at, they can also be infused with essential oils. (For more information on how you can order her unique, handmade pieces, visit her Instagram page.)

Joey unwinds by creating beautiful and unique pieces of jewelry. For more information, visit her Instagram page: @notyouraveragejoey ~ Photo: @photographybycaranj

 

Joey says she is “on this earth to make it a little more beautiful.” I think that even more than that, her purpose – her mission – is making the lives of all she impacts a lot brighter. I hope that after reading about Joey, you are inspired to try that “thing” you’ve always wanted to try. I hope that you don’t let anything keep you down, and even if it does for a little while, I hope you come back up even stronger. I hope that if you haven’t already done so, that you find what you love and spread it like wildfire … or even better … spread it like yarn.

Photo: Photography By Cara (@photographybycaranj)

  


To keep up with Joey’s creations, follow her on Instagram: @notyouraveragejoey and on Facebook: @noturaveragejoey and @jojoslidsforkids.

Photography By Cara – Facebook: @photographybycaranj and Instagram: @photographybycaranj.

Joey’s entire outfit is from the Kristin Dahl Boutique, located in Midland Park, NJ. Instagram: @kristindahlfashions (Blazer: Black Tape   / Cami: Bailey44   / Jeans: Tractr)

Feeling inspired? Visit my website for more! You can also follow me on Instagram and Facebook.