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9 SELF-CARE Practices I Can’t Live Without



The Getaway, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Volume 6 / Issue 59

5 Resolutions That Will Make You a Better Parent This Year

[ PARENTING ] 9 Self-Care Practices I Can’t Live Without


6 Start Running Yourself Like A Business (Be strategic about getting the help you need)


The One Thing More Important Than Diet & Exercise

[ TRAVEL ] HOTEL SPOTLIGHT The Getaway, Carmel-by-the-Sea


22 Teaching Teens to ‘Just Say No’


Six Ways to Keep Winter Blues at Bay






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*Grades offered vary by location. Preschool State License Numbers: 073402482, 073406680, 013420588, 013423042, 434404890, 434413440, 434410816, 434408056, 013420939, 414004014, 384001837, 384004006, 434407977, 434408877, 434410807, 434404336, 434406722. Copyright © 2019 Stratford Schools, Inc.





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Contributing Authors

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Megan Shackley

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Fashion Editor

Kathy Brillheart

Rachel Fawkes

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Renee Trudeau Jamee Tenzer Amy McCready Dr. Laura Markham Christine Carter, Ph.D. Shasta Nelson, M.Div

Elizabeth Kang

Teresa Agnew Craft

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Editor’s Note Each year many of us resolve to do something new, something better. Perhaps it’s taking up a new hobby, the promise to stop yelling, or possibly to lose ten pounds. Whatever your resolution, I know that the one thing many, if not all of us have in common, is the desire to be the best parents we can be. Life is hard and throws many obstacles our way, whether it is relationship issues, financial issues, health, etc. Our hope is that via our content and social media channels we can help as you navigate the crazy world of parenting. Whether we provide you with the perfect vacation plan, offer some great parenting advice from our experts, offer up some unique gift ideas for the season or maybe a date night destination, we have you covered. If you’re looking for additional ideas, we’d also love to hear them! Be sure to join us on Instagram (activefamilymagazine) and Facebook (activefamilymag) for more content, giveaways and sharing. Wishing you all a wonderful 2019! Tracie Brown Vollgraf Editor


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Transformational coach/author/ speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau is passionate about helping parents come into balance through the art/science of self-care. She’s been featured in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more, and thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups/retreats based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of several life balance books including The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15 year-old son. Subscribe to her weekly, award-winning blog Live Inside Out here and check out her upcoming retreats at www.

9 Self-Care Practices I Can’t Live Without by Renee Trudeau I just returned from a family graduation celebration in Philadelphia. We indulged. It was a gastronomic whirlwind: divine Greek dishes, sublime Italian gelato and delicious Saag Paneer with a heaping side of poor sleep. When I get off my normal routine–which my body craves–and need to get back in my groove, I head back to basics. Recently at a retreat I led in the Midwest I was asked, “What are things you do on a daily basis to care for yourself?” Here are 9 of my favorite daily self-care practices: 1. I begin my day intentionally. I love my 20 minute morning meditation practice. But if things are hectic, I find that even when I take 5 minutes to start my day with a clear intention, gratitude practice, prayer or stillness, this has a huge impact on how the rest of my day flows. My husband, son and I also do morning “power circles” right before we head out the door. We take two minutes to circle up, ask for support, remind each other to look for opportunities where we can give and receive love during the day, hug and head out the door. 2. I make pleasure-full movement a priority. My favorites are yoga, vigorous walks with friends around the lake and Nia dance. I often have to juggle like


[ PARENTING ] crazy to make this happen and always have to plan in

bird bath, 10 minutes in my hammock or walking to the

advance to build this in, but it’s a non-negotiable for me

park and back after dinner with family, I find communing

at this life stage.

with nature has a calming effect on my nervous system and helps me reset and shake off any “funk.”

3. I eat foods that make me feel great (most of the time!) and ask, “What would really nourish us right

8. I prepare for a good night’s sleep. After dinner, we

now?” before I decide what’s for dinner. This also means

make it a priority to relax and unwind. It’s not a time to

planning ahead and keeping the fridge and pantry

get stuff done, it’s time to let the busyness of the day

stocked with lots of my favorite staples: hummus, a

fall away. Sometimes this means embracing a “good is

variety of nuts and nut butters, fruit/veggies, garbanzo

good enough,” attitude and letting the house be messy,

and black beans for salads and dips, green and ginger

clothes pile up, work deadlines wait and scrounging in

teas, etc. I also always carry bags of almonds and dried

the pantry for lunch fixings for my son so I don’t have to

apricots with me in my purse or the car. 4. I take breakfast seriously. I find if I start the day eating protein, it helps me maintain steady blood sugar levels and has a huge impact on how I feel later in the day. I like to drink a cup of warm water immediately upon waking to “get things moving.” Then it’s often a spinach omelet, scrambled eggs with leeks, steel cut oatmeal with blueberries/almonds and soy milk, goat’s milk yogurt with fruit and granola or if we’re in a hurry, apples with almond butter and GF bagels. 5. I build in girlfriend time. Heartfelt face-to-face connection is key to lowering stress hormones and keeping perspective. Ideally it’s a lunch, evening women’s circle or walking date, but even a good 15 min. phone call with a dear friend boosts my mood.

hit the store. I love late evening strolls with my husband or neighbor, delicious aromatherapy baths, gentle yoga stretches before bed (legs up the wall is my favorite) and I snuggle down by 9:30 with something inspirational to read. At 10:00 p.m. it’s lights out, usually after a short calming, breathing exercise. 9. I make eating dinner with my family a priority. I find it helps me feel grounded and connected to share a meal with those I love. Family dinner also helps lower stress levels, allows us to plug-in to each other and share about our day and practice mindfulness while we take in a good meal. I felt hesitant about sharing my personal self-care practice and rituals as I don’t ever want you to think there is right or wrong way to practice self-care (read

6. I take time to pause and rest. Pausing to ask, “What is

more about how I define self-care). I also don’t see self-

mine to do?” helps me use my energy more effectively

care as something you need to add to your to-do list,

(critical to running two businesses). These pauses also

but rather it’s about cultivating a new relationship with

help me tune in and ask my body what it needs (one

yourself. But I have found that often the more we hear

of my hormonal balancing tinctures, some B Complex,

what self-care practices our friends are committed to,

Vitamin C or a nap?). For the past year, I have started

the more curious and motivated we become about

taking 20 min. afternoon rests almost every afternoon. I

adding to, changing or enhancing ours.

believe this will be key to creating a sustainable energy level over the decades to come.

I’d love to hear what self-care practices you can’t live without! Let’s create some self-care waves by sharing

7. I walk on the earth (ideally barefoot). Even if it’s just 5

these and make a kinder way of being with ourselves the

minutes of pulling weeds in the backyard or refilling the

norm, rather than the exception. JANUARY 2019 | ACTIVE FAMIL Y 7




HOTEL SPOTLIGHT The Getaway, Carmel-by-the-Sea

by Elizabeth Kang

If the often-repeated mantra “location, location, location” bears any weight in your hotel hunt, then Carmel’s The Getaway will be a heavy hitting contender on your list of worthy competitors. This newly renovated hotel’s location is ideal for exploring the seaside town on foot, being smack dab in the city center — next to shopping, restaurants, and right down the street from the beach. The Getaway is perfect for a weekend family getaway or romantic couple’s retreat, or even a fun-filled girls’ trip, as it’s quaint, casual and cozy, yet modern, contemporary and stylish (as well as dog friendly!)



A MODERN AESTHETIC Freshly remodeled and newly renovated, The Getaway is a 34-room boutique hotel located on Ocean Avenue in downtown Carmel-bythe-Sea. Swathed in sparkling white paint and Cobalt-blue accents, the B&B appears bright and beach-y from the outside. The inside in just as clean and modern, with fresh whites, sandy beiges and pops of fresh blue. Room amenities include cozy electric fireplaces, LCD flat screen TVs, plush robes, Wi-Fi, down bedding and complimentary flip flops. The chic bathrooms are simple and stylish, with modern tile flooring and clean, white vanities. The B&B’s lobby makes a cute and cozy first impression, with a large, warming stone fireplace, plush sofa, and modern beach decor. Be sure to carve out time to enjoy the sleek and modern outdoor fireplace — the perfect spot to enjoy some of the welcoming goodies offered at The Getaway’s “Evening Bubbles & Snacks.”

FRINGE BENEFITS Included with your stay at this charming B&B are some impressive perks that make the daily rate’s price point feel like an absolute steal. After a few hours on the road, The Getaway’s “Evening Bubbles & Snacks” is a most welcome way to unwind. Enjoy complimentary sparkling, red, or white wine, along with yummy nibbles such as olives, nuts, popcorn, and fruit. The real knockout star, however, is breakfast, which is quite a few steps up from the usual continental fare. Guests will delight in the delicious, diverse and vibrant morning spread of house-made granola, fruit and yogurt 10 ACTIVE FAMIL Y | JANUARY 2019


parfaits, veggie frittata, lox bruschetta, seasonal mixed fruit, freshly roasted coffee, juices, and more. It’s a delightful and generous breakfast, and a lovely way to start the day. Another fantastic perk available to guests of the hotel are beach cruiser bicycles. The property has plenty of the charming blue bikes (complete with baskets) available to take out, which is a such a fun way to explore the city. A highly recommended bike route to take is down Scenic Road, which brings you through a one-way street of breathtaking and unique beachside homes and idyllic coastline. The street is easily accessible from the hotel and is an easy, safe ride. JANUARY 2019 | ACTIVE FAMIL Y 11




FAMILY & FIDO FRIENDLY Although The Getaway is perfectly situated for couples, it’s just as accommodating to families, (including fur babies!) with a few King-bed suites that offer pullout sleeper sofas and can accommodate a family of four. Children will love being in close proximity to the beach, and the hotel is just a short drive to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium. Carmel-by-the-Sea is well-known for its dog-friendly policies, and The Getaway is no exception. Included in Fido’s stay is a cozy pet bed, waste-disposal bags, doggie treats, bowls for food and water, and even a customized ID tag. (Only certain rooms are pet friendly, so be sure to call the hotel to make sure you’re booking an appropriate 1st-floor room.) A one-time $75 cleaning fee is charged for one dog ($90 for two) upon check-in. The Getaway is a universally pleasing and surprisingly affordable addition to the Carmel hotel scene. The convenient location, charming aesthetic, and high-quality perks included with your stay make this memorable B&B worth returning to.

THE GETAWAY Ocean Avenue and Junipero Street, Carmel, CA (831) 219-2864 (Rooms from $175) JANUARY 2019 | ACTIVE FAMIL Y 13


Jamee Tenzer is an Executive Coach, Trainer and Mentor. For the past 15 years she has been privileged to coach breadwinner moms and executives and to work internationally as a coach mentor and trainer. She has worked with leaders in many industries including; entertainment, non-profit and technology. In addition to serving as a Supervisor, Mentor and Trainer for the International Coach Academy from 2006 to 2015, she is also a trained mediator and the co-creator of three ICF Accredited courses for coaches; Deeper Conversations Coaching, Mentor Coach Certification and Real Coaching Sessions Unplugged. Jamee is a member of the International Coach Federation, Producers Guild of America and Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She holds a CPC from the International Coach Academy, a PCC from the International Coach Federation and a BCC from the Center for Credentialing and Education. She is a committed im-perfectionist - her husband and three children can attest to this!

Start Running Yourself Like A Business (Be strategic about getting the help you need) by Jamee Tenzer You are a lot like a business. You have goals, responsibilities and a vision for the future. What you don’t have, is help. You are running this thing all on your own. And, you are doing a great job by the way. But imagine where the business of YOU, could go with some help? Right now you are wearing all the hats. Whether you are looking for a job or promotion, parenting a child, running the school fundraiser or getting back into the dating world after a divorce; you need to be good at sales. And if you are interested in learning more about yourself personally or expand your skill sets professionally so you can “expand into new markets,” you are heading up development. How about the way you present your business? If you can’t remember the last time you went to the gym, got a good haircut or bought yourself a massage, it’s time to bring in a marketing expert. Have you taken a good look at those files, schedule and budget lately? Time


[ PARENTING ] for some secretarial help?

for some help with accountability? Maybe you could invite her for a weekly coffee or chat on the phone to

And who do you answer to? Who is holding the vision for

help you identify some goals and cheer you on when

you when you get bogged down in the details? Time to

you take actions?

get some heavy hitters on your Board of Directors. Perhaps you are really sick of feeling out of shape. Is It could be that the next step for you is to put together

there someone in your life that seems to have exercise

your team of experts and this will require asking for help.

“handled?” In other words, they work out regularly and are relatively fit. Why not ask her for her tips? Invite

I’ll give you a moment to digest that. Yes, it will require

her for a walk and ask her how she makes working out

asking for help. But guess what, once you get over that

a priority and what her work out is. People love to be

hurdle, you are going to be awash in new ideas, support

acknowledged for what they do well. This is a win win!

and enthusiasm! If it’s organization that is the problem, ask a friend (who And here’s the best news ever! Your team is already in

is not challenged in this area) to come over and just give

your life and they want to help.

you her thoughts about where you would begin and how to tackle your situation. You may think you have thought

Most of them will happily work for free – some of them

of everything – but when people are naturally good at

might trade you for a good massage or a slice of your

something, they do things differently than the rest of us.

famous chocolate pie and you yes, you might need to

Learn her secrets!

throw down some cash for the rest. But every cent you put back in the business of you, will come back to you in

2. Barter for help.

the long run. If you have a talent or ability that you can trade with This is about looking at the people in your life in a new

someone else, bartering is a great way to get some of

way. What special talents do you see? What could you

these needs met without money changing hands!

learn? 3. Hire strategically. And what are your needs? Is there something that you need that could be delegated or hired out? Don’t allow

If working with an organizer for 10 hours will completely

yourself to dismiss the idea of paying someone for a

change the way you feel in your house, think about

service without honestly assessing the value that it might

what that is truly worth to you. How would that clear

bring to your life.

your mind? What could come from that clarity? If hiring a coach for 3 months would help you shift your

So let’s get started!

relationships, excel in the work place or take on a new challenge, what is that worth to you?

Coach Me Quick Tips for Running Yourself Like A Business:

4. Think big.

1. Identify some areas in life in which you feel you need

Once you have identified some strategies and solutions

some help.

for current hurdles, give yourself the gift of thinking about your future. Where would you like to go and how can

Maybe you want to start looking for a new job but you

you get there? Who can help you?

just don’t know where to begin or you can’t find the time or you feel it is hopeless? Is there someone in your life

Remember that you are your business and you deserve

who isn’t having this issue in his or her life? Could you ask

to have the “top talent” on your team. JANUARY 2019 | ACTIVE FAMIL Y 15


Parenting expert and “recovering yeller” Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time… The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling (Penguin, 2011.) Amy is a regular parenting contributor on The TODAY Show and has also appeared on Rachael Ray, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Steve Harvey and elsewhere. In her most important role, she plays mom to two teenage boys. Follow Amy on Twitter @AmyMcCreadyPPS.

Six Ways to Keep Winter Blues at Bay by Amy McCready Helping Parents Keep Their Wits on Long Winter Days For parents with little ones, winter days can feel like an eternity. Cold temperatures, weather hazards, the dreaded cold and flu season, and the onset of cabin fever can lead to a frustrating loop of, “I’m bored” and “What are we going to do NOW?” How do you keep your kids healthy, happy, and help everyone keep their wits? Here are six ways to keep winter blues at bay: 1. Turn off technology. WHAT? Seems counterintuitive—right? It’s an easy go-to for winter storm relief but a little Minecraft goes a long way. A steady stream of screen-time can do more harm than good. Keep your technology limits in


[ PARENTING ] place and turn to alternatives that engage kids’ minds

entertained, and fortunately for us, an entire internet

and bodies.

filled with ideas.

2. Think outside the living room. Have a YMCA nearby?

4. Let the Light In. Some of what invites a downward turn

An indoor trampoline arena? Art and science museum?

in emotion is simply the lack of light in the winter time.

Gym with a kid zone? Aquarium? In almost every area

Without that big dose of Vitamin D from the sun every

there are places where your family can learn, laugh, and

day, it’s easier to feel blue. Be sure to open the curtains,

burn off a little energy while exploring – or engaging in

turn on the lights, make things as bright as you can in

some physical activity.

your living and play spaces. Even if it’s not a bright, sunny 80-degree day – you can invite in light in other ways.

3. Get creative. Once a week, sit down with your kids and brainstorm 10 family fun time ideas for the week.

5. Remember Routines. With cold weather zapping

Then, see how many you can check off! Here are a few

everyone’s energy and snow days throwing a monkey


wrench into outdoor plans, it’s easy to get lazy about regular routines. Combat schedule sluggishness by

Build a blanket fort

sticking to your set routines each day—even when bad

Go indoor “camping” – tent and all

weather cancels school or quells activities. When the

Bake cakes in cups

expectation exists that household jobs and homework

Try new recipes

continue to be done daily, they’ll be no need for

Play with clay

questioning or quarreling later.

Break out rolls of craft paper with crayons and markers

6. Look for Silver Linings. It’s easy for discouragement to

Make paper snowflakes

settle in when your child’s favorite outdoor activities get

Set up an indoor obstacle course

curbed. Make it a practice to help your kids be mindful

Play hide and seek

and in the present – even when things don’t go their

Invest in science experiments

way. Steer the narrative away from the bad weather to

Read books together

the fun activities of the day, the blessing of time together

Write stories together

and the opportunity to get creative. Helping kids shift

Explore new music or instruments

their mindsets now will not only get you through the gray

Have a dance party

days of winter, but will help them see the silver linings

Have an indoor picnic

throughout the major and minor upsets of life.

Play games

Create new games

Whatever the season, there are always ways to promote

Go “swimming” in the tub

healthy, happy, positive practices that make the weather

Have a movie marathon

matter less and the time together matter more. It is often

Organize playdates

in those creative, out-of-the-norm moments when some of the best memories are made. Enjoy them.

There are hundreds of ways to keep kids engaged and

Stay warm and safe, and as always – happy parenting! JANUARY 2019 | ACTIVE FAMIL Y 17


5 Resolutions That Will Make You a Better Parent This Year by Dr. Laura Markham

"Dr. Laura....My new year's resolution is to be more patient. But when I told my family, they reminded me that I made the same resolution last year. I feel like a failure, even though I know I've become a better mother over the past Dr. Laura Markham is the author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University and has worked as a parenting coach with countless parents across the English-speaking world, both in person and via phone. You can find Dr. Laura online at, the website of Aha! Moments for parents of kids from birth through the teen years, where she offers a free daily inspiration email to parents.

year." –Christina Many people don't make New Years Resolutions, because they find themselves making the same resolutions every year. But that doesn't mean you're a failure. It means you're headed in the right direction, and you aren't perfect yet. (Shocking, I know!) The bad news is, you won't be perfect this year either. The good news is, you don't have to be! Kids don't need perfection from parents. What they need is a parent who accepts them with all their imperfections, models compassion and respect, and apologizes and reconnects when things go wrong -- as they inevitably do.


[ PARENTING ] This is tough work, because it's about regulating our own

Every child is unique, so it takes a different approach for

emotions. That's why resolving to be more patient rarely

each child to feel seen and valued. The hard work for

works. By the time we're gritting our teeth to stay "patient"

us as parents is accepting who our child is, challenges

we're already sliding into the stress response of fight, flight

and all – and cherishing him for being that person, even

or freeze.

while guiding his behavior. The secret? See it from his perspective, empathize with him, and celebrate every

But if you want to become a more patient parent – and

step in the right direction. Maybe most important? Enjoy

a happier person – it’s completely possible. Here are 5

your child!

simple resolutions to support you in creating a home with less drama and more love. Practicing these is the work

3. Resolve to stay connected. Kids only cooperate and

of a lifetime, so you still won't be perfect in a year -- in

"follow" our leadership when they feel connected.

fact, you might make these same resolutions next year!

But separation happens, so we have to repeatedly

But I guarantee you'll be a more peaceful parent, with a


happier, more cooperative child. 1. Resolve to work on regulating your own emotions, so you can be the emotionally generous parent you want to be. Start by integrating daily sustainable self-nurturing into your life: Go to bed earlier so you're better rested, eat healthfully to maintain your energy, transform those inner negative comments into encouraging ones, and slow down your pace so you're not so stressed.

Remember that quality time is about connection, not teaching, so it’s mostly unstructured. Hug your child first thing every morning and when you say goodbye. When you’re reunited later in the day, spend fifteen minutes solely focused on your child. (What do you do in that 15 minutes? Listen, commiserate, hug, roughhouse, laugh, play, empathize, listen some more. Not enough time? What could be more important?)

Most important of all, commit to managing your reactions. When you're in fight or flight, your child looks like the enemy and you can't teach well. Just say No to taking any action while you're angry. Does this sound hard? It is. Maybe the hardest thing we ever do. But that urgency to act is a signal that you're in "fight or flight." Calm your upset before you engage with your child.

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[ PARENTING ] Stop working and turn off your phone and computer

just the hard work of constant course correction to get

before dinner so you can focus on your family. Eat

back on track when life inevitably throws you off.

dinner together without screens and do a lot of listening. Have a chat and a warm snuggle at bedtime every

So don't worry if you're making the same resolutions

night with each child.

every year. That just means you're keeping yourself on track by choosing, over and over, to take positive

4. Resolve to role model respect. Want to raise kids

steps in the right direction. Before you know it, you'll find

who are considerate and respectful, right through the

yourself in a whole new landscape. Parenting, after all,

teen years? Take a deep breath, and speak to them

is a journey -- not a destination. For today, just choose

respectfully. After all, kids learn from what we model. If

less drama and more love. You'll be amazed at how far

we can't manage our own emotions, we can't expect

that takes you.

our kids to learn to manage theirs. Not always easy when you’re angry, so remember your mantras:

And if keeping these resolutions sounds like too big a lift, that just means you need more support. This is some of

• "It's not an emergency."

the hardest work anyone ever does, and we all need

• "I'm the role model."

help from time to time.

• "He's acting like a child because he IS a child." • "Don’t take it personally."

Happily, if you're resolving to be the best parent you can

• "This too shall pass!"

be in 2019, I've got you covered.

5. Resolve to address the needs and feelings driving

• Use these blog posts as your own complementary

your child’s behavior. The most important time to stay

coaching library to help you feel better, be more

connected with your child is when she's acting out.

patient and emotionally generous, connect more

All "misbehavior" is a red flag that your child needs

deeply with your child, and coach your child to be

your help to handle big emotions or fill unmet needs.

his or her best self. Remember, you can subscribe to

Once you address the feelings or needs, the behavior

get them right in your in box.

changes. If you can lead by loving example, redirect preemptively rather than punish (“You can throw the ball outside”), and set limits empathically (“I see how

• Don't forget that the website has hundreds of articles about children of all ages. • Have you taken my self-paced Peaceful Parent,

mad and sad you are. No hitting; hitting hurts. Let’s use

Happy Kids Online Course yet? I guarantee that you'll

your words to tell your sister how you feel. I'll help...”)

create real change in your family. You still have time

you'll raise self-disciplined kids who WANT to follow your

to register for the Course that begins in mid-January.


This could be the best gift you give your family all year!

Sure, your child will make mistakes, and so will you. There are no perfect parents, no perfect children, and no

I'm honored to accompany you on your parenting

perfect families. But there are families who live in the

journey, and I look forward to supporting you in making

embrace of great love, where everyone thrives. The

2019 the best year yet for you and your family. May this

only way to create that kind of family is to make daily

year be filled with countless moments that take your

choices that take you in that direction. It's not magic,

breath away.





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Shasta Nelson, M.Div., is the Founder of, a women’s friendship matching site in 35 cities across the U.S. and Canada. Her spirited and soulful voice for strong female relationships can be found in her book Friendships Don’t Just Happen! The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends. She also writes at and in the Huffington Post, speaks across the country, and is a friendship expert in the media appearing on such shows as Katie Couric and the TodayShow. Twitter: @girlfrndcircles

The One Thing More Important Than Diet & Exercise by Shasta Nelson, M.Div This is the time of year when we are increasingly motivated to stop smoking, cut back on alcohol, try that 30-day-no-sugar diet, commit to some form of a detox, join a gym, or buy a pair of running shoes. If that's you.... if you want greater health in the year to come, then keep reading. Q. Do you really know what impacts your health more than any other factor? A. The most significant issue to your health is your experience of love and support in your life. Did you read that right? Yes. As someone who has been following relationship studies for over a decade, I can you assure that study after study continues to showcase that our social


[ PARENTING ] connections increase our longevity, decrease our stress

And when we say "better off," let's be clear what we

levels, boost our immune systems, recover us from surgery

mean: you are 3-5 times more likely to die if you don't

and sickness faster, protect our brain health, and protect

feel loved and supported.

us from disease and death. One famous study from Brigham Young University I Consider some of these statements from world-renowned

quote all the time reminds us that feeling disconnected

Dr. Dean Ornish in his book Love and Survival:

is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, twice as damaging as being obese, and has an impact on our

"I am not aware of any other factor [than social

health equivalent to being a lifelong alcoholic.

connection]--not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery--that has

Those who feel disconnected have an increased risk

a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of

of premature death and disease from all causes! That

illness, and premature death from all causes."

includes dying or suffering from coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal

Amazing, isn't it?? "Quality of life, incidence of illness, and

diseases, infectious diseases, allergies, autoimmune

premature death from all causes" doesn't come down

diseases, many types of cancer, alcoholism, suicide, and

to genetics or healthy behaviors as much as it does to

the list goes on and on. And we're not just talking about

how well we can answer the question, "How loved and

preventing disease or maintaining health, but also for

supported do you feel?"

recovery and life-lengthening:

Illustrating that point, one of the many studies he

"Smoking, diet, and exercise affect a wide variety of

highlights followed over 7,000 people over the span

illnesses, but no one has shown that quitting smoking,

of nearly 2 decades; and found that while those with

exercising, or changing diet can double the length

healthy lifestyles and strong social ties were the least

of survival in women with metastatic breast cancer,

likely to die, it may surprise many to know that those with

whereas the enhanced love and intimacy provided

close social ties and unhealthy lifestyles outlived those

by weekly group support session has been shown to

with healthy lifestyles but poor social ties!

do just that."

Let that sink in... you're better off cultivating stronger

Across the board, whether you're merely trying to prevent

relationships than you are in joining a gym, eating more

or recover from the common cold, lower your cholesterol

kale, or cutting out sugar. He says,

levels, or prevent a heart attack--moving away from loneliness and building your support network is crucial to

"This association between social and community ties

your survival.

and premature death was found to be independent of and a more powerful predictor of health and

Are You At Risk?

longevity than age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, self-reported physical health status, and health

I believe we're living in an epidemic of unacknowledged

practices such as smoking, alcoholic beverage


consumption, overeating, physical activity, and utilization of preventative health services...."

Which is incredibly dangerous because we assume that JANUARY 2019 | ACTIVE FAMIL Y 23

[ PARENTING ] since we're not hermits, recluses, or socially isolated that

If I won a paid vacation for me and 3 friends-- my

we're safe; when in fact, most of us don't feel the level of

biggest problem would be picking which of my

intimacy and support that actually creates that safety.

friends to come with me. •

For the vast majority of us, we are immensely

How true are these statements in your life? How many

networked, but will struggle to answer yes to most

times can you answer "yes?"

of these questions. And of those who can answer yes, even fewer will be able to say that they aren't

If I needed a ride to the hospital, I have a friend who

dependent on only 1-2 friends for all those needs.

doesn't live with me whom I could call instead of

relying on a taxi or ambulance.

A safety net of love and support must be developed, it

If my current closest confidante was physically or

never just happens.

emotionally "unavailable" for a season of life (super sick, intensive caring for an aging parent, extra

Unfortunately, most of us will read this data and still pour

travel for work, wrapped up in planning a wedding),

more time into our diet and exercise than we will in

I have at least two other close friends who could be

developing deeper relationships.

"present." •

If I experienced a financial need, I have a friend

Why? Partly because our doctors are trained more in

that could loan me the money I needed.

surgery and medicine than they are in relationships

If I were excited and wanted to share my big dream

so their well-meant advice will lean that way; partly

or ambitious goal with someone, I have a friend who

because our culture is addicted to weight-loss and

would be thrilled to hear from me.

appearance over health and longevity so our tendency

If I needed to list a local emergency contact, other

will be to focus on the things that change our looks more

than a spouse, parent, or child, I have at least two

than improve our body function; and partly because

options I feel comfortable listing.

diet and exercise is so much more tangible, immediate,

If my closest friend and I had a big fight, I am

and controllable than relationship building can feel.

completely confident that we could work it out

because we've talked through many difficult things

The role of relationships in our health won't get as much


press as diets and fads to help you lose the proverbial

If I had a big celebration in my life-- a birthday, a job

ten pounds, but let's not let magazine headlines dictate

promotion, a wedding, a baby shower-- I can think

what we know to be true.

of a couple of friends who would be happy to host

and plan the event.

Please, please, listen to the science and align your life--

If I needed to be completely raw, messy,

your time, your energy, your resources-- to that which

unguarded, and vulnerable with a friend who I

proves to not only bring MUCH greater health but also

know loves me completely, I know who to call.

greater happiness.






Christine Carter, Ph.D.*, is a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. She is the author of “RAISING HAPPINESS: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents.” She teaches online happiness classes that help parents bring more joy into their own lives and the lives of their children, and she writes an award-winning blog for *Greater Good* (

Teaching Teens to ‘Just Say No’ by Christine Carter, Ph.D. Today’s teens are busy. Last week, one of my teens was sitting in the kitchen replying to her emails while I prepped dinner. “Help me write a really good excuse,” she asked. A teacher had asked her to speak at a school function that she didn’t want to be involved in. “Just write, ‘I’m honored to be asked, but I can’t help you this time,’” I suggested. This turned out not to be so helpful. “MOM. Please. That will not work. I need to say why I can’t do it.” I walked around the island to look at her email. She had typed not one but two paragraphs detailing why should couldn’t go. Nothing she had written was


[ PARENTING ] exactly true.

than are necessary, even if someone asks why you can’t help them out or come to their party. Detailed

Even though she wasn’t interested in attending, she

explanations imply that the other person can’t handle a

hadn’t really said no; it was as though she was trying

simple no – or that the kids need help working out their

to paint a picture of a life so disastrously busy that


her teacher would have no choice but to retract his invitation.

2. Rehearse a handful of simple and vague go-to ways to say no.

It can be really hard to say no. Teenagers, especially, want to be liked. They don’t want to disappoint us or their

When teens make a specific plan before they are

friends or their teachers. But they often don’t know how

confronted with a request, they’re far more likely later to

to say no, and so they find themselves hemming and

act in a way that’s consistent with their original intentions.

hawing – and often saying yes instead. Something simple – like saying, “That doesn’t work for me The ability to say no is a critical life skill, and one that

this time” – is almost always sufficient. But kids will need

our kids probably won’t learn without explicit instruction

to come up with something they would feel comfortable

and practice. We adults tend to emphasize that kids

saying. Help them pick a default way to say no, and then

should “just say no” to the big things – sex and drugs and

help them practice saying it before they need it. Here

anything that might kill them. But if they can’t confidently

are some ideas:

decline an invitation or choose not to do someone a favor, how will they say no when it matters more?

• “Thank you so much for thinking of me! I’m sorry I’m not able to help you at this time.”

Here are some ideas for teaching kids to say no that have worked for me:

• “I can’t be there, but I will tell my friends about it and post it on social media.” • “I wish I could, but it’s not going to work out for me this

1. Teach them to be clear about their priorities and


truthful in their refusal. 3. Help kids think about the future rather than the Saying no is easier when we’re clear about our priorities;


it’s even harder to decline a request when our reasons for doing so seem unimportant. My daughter has a lot

Research shows we often choose what is most satisfying

going on this semester that’s more important than her

in the present rather than what will make us happiest in

teacher’s event. She needs to be careful about what

the future – and pleasing others by saying yes can be far

she commits to on school nights. Saying, “I’m not that

more pleasant in the present than saying no.

interested” seemed selfish to her. But it was also true for her to say, “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I’m already

We can help kids make better decisions by encouraging

committed to something else that evening.” What was

them to picture themselves moments before the event in

she committed to? It didn’t need to be anything more

question (or in the aftermath of, say, not having enough

than completing her homework and getting to bed at a

time for homework or sleep). Would they be relieved if it

decent hour.

were canceled? If so, encourage them to say no now so they don’t find themselves trying to weasel out of it later.

Even though this response was vague, it was the truth. Untrue excuses and white lies lead to further

4. Encourage persistence.

entanglements and greater stress. If their “no” isn’t accepted with grace, help them Telling the truth is not the same as sharing more details

practice repeating their refusal calmly, using the same JANUARY 2019 | ACTIVE FAMIL Y 27

[ PARENTING ] words. This will help the other person see that they

excuse when they are having a hard time saying no. We

are sticking to their “no,” and that their pestering isn’t

can always easily tell when they’re asking for permission

changing their answer. If that doesn’t work and they

to do something they don’t want to do. When this

need something else to say, encourage them to express

happens, we’ll often clarify how they feel. (“Do you think

empathy. For example, they could say, “I understand

it’s a good idea to go to that concert?” Or, “How badly

that you are in a tough spot here,” or, “I know this is hard

do you want to help out with that?”) Then when the

for you to accept.”

response comes back lukewarm, we’ll put the hammer

If the other person still won’t back down, teens can share how they are feeling. For example: “I feel uncomfortable and a little angry when you continue to ask me even though I’ve declined.” Have them focus on their emotions – how the other person’s refusal to accept their honest decline is making them feel – and not the logistical details or logic for their refusal. (This takes a

down. Very occasionally, the kids will indicate to us that they need us to say no firmly and within earshot of their friends or in a text that they can show their friends. We’re happy to provide this service; they don’t always have to do the hard work of saying no on their own. Finally, if kids are still feeling nervous about saying no,

good deal of courage, to be sure. Even thinking about

have them take a moment to call to mind the respect

this is a step in the right direction.)

they have for themselves and how they’d like others to respect them as well. It takes courage to consider your own needs and priorities along with the needs of others.

5. Say no for them.

But it’s worth it. In the long run, the ability to say no is a My kids have permission to use my husband and I as an

little-known key to our kids’ happiness.

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Active Family Magazine  

Local Life and Style for the San Francisco Bay Area

Active Family Magazine  

Local Life and Style for the San Francisco Bay Area