Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Enjoying the Season: Fall Apple Picking

With all the busyness of life it's important to schedule time for fun. Last week my family and I did just that. We went to a local apple farm and picked (way too many) apples. It felt so nice to be out in the sun with the family. We took our time and enjoyed the day together. There was a corn maze,pumpkin slings & even a band with a banjo.

I'm looking forward to scouring the internet for apple recipes. Number one on the list is a home made apple pie.

(I'm pictured here with my oldest son.)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Taking a Breather in Between Hat Changes

I have been working from home now for about 8 years. I work as an accountant and the deadlines are just as crucial as when I am physically in the office with my coworkers. Working from home has a unique set of challenges. Not only are we expected to meet daily professional responsibilities, but there are also the challenges of being a mom…at home. It requires various hat changes throughout the day. If you’re not careful you can quickly become too stretched & highly stressed. That is what happened to me. First let’s think about all the hats working moms are required to wear in a day. There are: the wife’s hat, project manager’s hat, chef’s hat, chauffer’s hat, nurse’s hat, tutor’s hat, P.T.A. hat, coach’s hat, merry maid’s hat and the stylist’s hat. (Please tweet me if I’ve omitted any.) Before reaching my epiphany, I would on any given day go from one hat to the next without taking a breather in between. For the work at home moms out there, I’m sure you’d agree that you must get as much work done as possible, before the children arrive home from school. It is almost impossible to concentrate once they are home. For example, as soon as my 9 year old walks into the house, he has ‘needs’ like a snack or help finding his baseball glove. He also wants to tell you all about his day at school or he has papers that need to be signed. I would immediately take off my accountant's hat and put on my chef & tutor hats without taking a breather. And on those days where I have crucial deadlines, I would multitask by wearing more than one hat at the same time! (Don’t attempt this unless you are a seasoned professional!) Once those jobs were done, I’d put on more hats without ever taking a moment to rest. After several months of this rigorous schedule, I turned into a very high strung, and stressed out wife & mom. I should have taken notes from my children. When they walk through the doors from a long day at school, they head straight for the den to fling themselves on the couch. They instinctively take a few minutes (about 30) to unwind before starting their homework. The notion never dawned on me to do the same…until recently.
If you work from home and often find yourself wound up too tight, you might want to try the following:
1. Slow down. Don’t rush. Take time to smell the roses during the day, literally. Take a walk outside in your yard, enjoy the beautiful Fall foliage or simply take a quick stroll around the block. This will help you to loosen up a bit.
2. Take a lunch break. If you’re like me, you’re tempted to work like the energizer bunny in order to maximize your time while the children are at school. This is counterproductive. Enjoy your lunch.
3. Approximately 15 minutes before the children arrive home from school, take a little break. Listen to some relaxing music or watch a game show…anything that relaxes you.
4. Take a little breather in between each hat change. For example, don’t go directly from doing laundry to bathing the baby. Take a 5 or 10 minute breather for yourself in between.
Some of you may be thinking “This is a bit much, I can handle multitasking and changing hats without taking a breather.” Trust me, I used to think the same way…until it caught up with me. You may feel fine now, but your body was built for balance. Although you may not feel the effects now, you are wounding yourself up tighter and tighter the longer you continue this rigorous schedule. Learn from my mistake. You’ll thank me later, I guarantee it!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Changing Hats Along the Way

Cornrows under a vintage silk scarf

I'm approaching my two year mark of transitioning to natural hair. I did the "big chop" several months ago and must admit I'm in somewhat of a conundrum regarding hats now that my hair is natural. As a part of my hair prep routine, I wash, then cornrow my hair for texture. I prefer letting it dry naturally, so I usually use a scarf (pictured above) or wear a hat if I have to go out before my hair dries. When my hair is dry and the braids are taken a loose, it is full (sort of afro-esk) and wearing a hat is no longer an option. In the past when my hair was straight with a perm, fitting it under a hat was never a problem, but now with natural hair, fitting it under a hat 'cutely' is almost impossible. I no longer have this as a go to for those bad hair days or when I simply don't have the time to prepare it. This caused me to reflect on the days of old, when hats and I were like bread and butter....inseparable. Here's a peek at some of my favs.
This was taken with locs under a Kango
Roller set under my favorite Fedora
Blow dried perm under a floppy vintage sun hat

Monday, May 26, 2014

Spring Nail Color - Sinful Colors Bright Lucite

Bright Lucite
Base Coat
My nail color of choice for Spring has been Sinful Colors Professionals  - Bright Lucite. First,  I apply my Mineral Fusion clear base coat ($7.99). It's a safer alternative than traditional nail polish. Then, I apply the Sinful colors Bright Lucite. The price is right ($1.99) and the color is perfect for the season. It's my go to nail color for Spring...I just can't get enough of it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hug Therapy

I'm a hugger and I'm proud of it. Huggers are a unique breed. A little touchy feely some might say, but overall our intentions are good. A hug at the right time can be like warm sunshine after a rain shower.

Allow me to share with you a recent hug story....the other day, while shopping at a local gourmet market, I ran into a young lady who attended a pre-marital counseling class my husband and I had facilitated a few years back. She had recently married and had a beautiful baby boy. As we chatted, she asked questions that most newlyweds do and I shared my advice and experience. At the end of the conversation, I felt the love rising up in me, so I asked the big question..."Can I have a hug?" She responded with a big smile and was quick to open up her arms to reciprocate. To my surprise, I discovered that this beautiful young lady was a fellow hugger. How do I know, you might ask? This was the dead giveaway- when we embraced, she pressed her heart against my chest and gently rested her head against my shoulder. That little sneak not only received my love, but she sent me an infusion of her own. As we stood there at the deli section holding one another, I physically felt her sending love beams my way.  I had had a very challenging week myself and that hug was just what I needed! There is nothing more powerful than love, and hugs are a great way to send and receive it.

Are you interested in hug therapy? If so, keep these things in mind:

A good hug is heartfelt.
A good hug is timely.
A good hug is never awkward.

Studies also show that hugs boost serotonin levels (happiness) & self esteem, relax muscles and balance the nervous system. Hugging also builds trust and a sense of safety. Are you a little curious? Give it a try and see how it feels.

Hugs,Hugs & More Hugs,

Mona Ashley
Ms. Magnet

Sunday, March 30, 2014

FREE FALLING - Trusting God, Even When You're Afraid To

There are many admirable people in our world today, but who I'm most inspired by are those who trust God completely. They could be facing some really dire circumstances and yet they have complete peace through it all. God in His word tells us often to "Fear not."  If He finds it necessary to repeatedly remind us of this, it implies that He is aware that it is our nature to do just that...be afraid when things get tough.

Not too long ago I found myself in a situation where I was tempted to be afraid. I talked to my older sister about it and she said, "Well, it sounds like you need to trust God." I was a little baffled. I wondered what fear had to do with trusting God. Could she be right? Was this an issue of trust? Was the root of my fear, the lack of trust in God? I finally conceded. I wanted my outcome for the situation. I wasn't trusting that God would see me through. I had lost sight of the fact that He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me. I wanted the control. I was afraid to trust God.

Someone very dear to me was diagnosed with colon cancer several years ago. She is very courageous and very faithful. I spoke with her about my concerns. I shared how I admired her faith and fearlessness. I asked how it was that she was able to have such peace. She replied, "I trust God, I know He's got me." When the doctors give their report, she trusts that God is in control and that He has the final word. She went on to paint a verbal picture of what trusting God is like. "When you're in a very difficult situation or hardship,it's like being on the edge of a cliff and the only way to safety is to jump. God is waiting for you and assures you that He will catch you." Taking that first leap is your trust in God. As you're free falling, you're trusting that God will catch you. Your body is outstretched and relaxed. Your eyes are closed and the wind is blowing against you. You're filled with peace because you are fully assured that you will land in God's arms.

At some point or another, we all have a cliff that we are forced to stand on the edge of. Some of us are on that cliff right now. It could be a financial crisis, a very serious health challenge or relationship gone awry. No matter what it is, God wants us to know that if we jump (trust Him) He will be there to catch us with big, strong & able arms. He also wants us to remember to:

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you.; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)

"...and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

3 Red Flags for a First Date

Ok, so you're really excited about your first date with the guy you met at the coffee shop the other day. You haven't spoken on the phone much, but you have been sharing text messages. Today is the day you will get to know him. Beware of the following 3 red flags, which in my humble opinion are an indication that he may NOT be the one:

1. He Shows up Late and Doesn't Seem to Think it's a Big Deal. This might not mean a lot to you, because afterall stuff happens, but if brother man doesn't give you a call to tell you he got caught in traffic or if he doesn't seem to value your time because he is arriving late without any remorse, I'd think twice about seeing him again. If he has this attitude on the first date, he will absolutely carry it over into future dates. Who wants to be sitting by the phone, all dressed up with no where to go because this guy doesn't value your time?

2. If He Invites You on the Date, but Wants to go Dutch Treat on Everything. Call me old fashioned if you want, but if dude is expecting you to pay when he invited you out, he is either cheap, broke or clueless. Now being broke isn't a bad thing, afterall everyone goes thru hard times every once in a while, but if that were the case, he could have chosen to do something affordable like visit the museum, a picnic in the park or a free outdoor concert. These are all very affordable, thoughtful and romantic things to do with someone you care about. Now on the other hand, cheap and clueless are not viable options.If this is the case, he may not be ready for you! Upward and onward ladies.

3. If He has a Roaming Eye. We did mention that this was the first date, correct? If you're on your very first date and this guy is checking out everything that wiggles by in a skirt, then you should definitely think twice about seeing him again. Think about it, if he can't contain himself for the two hours he's spending with you on your very first date, then this will more than likely be something you'll be dealing with all the time. In a nutshell, if he is rubbernecking on your first date, he is just not that into you and he definitely doesn't respect you. Going out with a guy who gives you his undivided attention is the ultimate complement to any lady. Kick him to the curb if he doesn't. You don't need or deserve that kind of treatment.

Ladies, don't lower your standards. If you respect yourself, men will do the same. You are to be treasured and adored. Don't settle. If a guy doesn't appreciate you and chooses to treat you without respect, don't waste your time with him. When you show that you love yourself and can live without them, they take notice and give you what you deserve.

That's just my humble opinion.

Love & Hugs,

Mona Ashley
Ms. Magnet