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18 Date Night Ideas That’ll Actually Have You Making Time for Each Other

Raise your hand if your romantic relationship has lost its mojo. Eliza Morrow’s arm is up and waving. The Austin, TX, mom of Chloe, 7, and Eli, 3, who runs a thriving ceramic-jewelry business, has steadily felt the “honeymoon giddiness” drain from her connection to husband Neal. Mind you, kids and work aren’t the only romance vampires here. “The more Neal and I neglect date nights, the duller our love life becomes,” Eliza admits. “Sure, children and jobs make things tricky, but when we used to commit to fun and intimate kid-free time, all our responsibilities just felt easier to deal with.”

Not surprising. “A relationship is a living thing that needs to be nurtured and fed or it doesn’t make it,” suggests Ojai, CA-based psychotherapist and couples specialist Adaya Walsh. “Things can start to feel depleted, tense and distant. That’s when work, parenting, everything gets harder.” Walsh confirms Eliza’s thoughts by noting that date nights are the food your relationship needs. “Time and attention are our most valuable offerings,” she says. Give them to your relationship and watch it grow.

Just how often do you two need this nourishment? Consider this: Married couples who engage in one-on-one time together at least once a week are 3.5 times more likely to express being “very happy” in their relationship than their counterparts who don’t have weekly couple time, according to the national Survey of Marital Generosity, funded by the Science of Generosity initiative at the University of Notre Dame. That’s significant.

We could, of course, just tell you to date more, but we know you need extra inspiration to carve out time from your crazy schedule. That’s why we’ve come up with a slew of enticing date suggestions certain to add sustenance to your relationship and personal wellness. So say “see ya later” to dinner and a movie and “let’s give it a try” to our irresistible date-night menu. Just order, add to your shared calendar, and enjoy!

Read more on Working Mother!

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5 Motivational Lessons From Supercross Legends and Rising Stars

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Ryan Dungey in Anaheim (Photo Credit: Feld Entertainment)

When I think about common sources of motivation, phrases like “meditation”, “self help books”, “my grandmother”, “that yoga guru”, and “affirmations” pop up – “supercross riders” have never been on my list, but maybe they should be.

 

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a supercross legend, Ricky Carmichael, the current star Ryan Dungey, and two up-and-comers, Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac, about what it takes to build the courage to compete in a sport wrought with unpredictable danger, frequent injuries, and intense rivalries, and how to settle into the sweet mental state that often results in a big win.

 

As we talked, I expected a slew of technical terms I wouldn’t understand to be thrown at me, but instead, I received poignant and thoughtful responses on what it takes to go all in when committing to the challenges of supercross, and a life riddled with obstacles.

 

Following are gems of wisdom from a few dudes who have made a career out of conquering their mental doubts and physical limitations.

 

1. It’s Not Failing, It’s Learning. The term “failing” is not in Ricky Carmichael’s lexicon, instead, he uses the term “learning.” He views a mistake as an opportunity to wipe the drawing board clean and build a new and better way to tackle the challenge at hand.

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Ricky Carmichael (Photo Credit: Feld Entertainment)

Ryan Dungey seconds this sentiment, believing that his ability to objectively view a mistake, tweak his strategy, and fully commit to implementing that strategy during practice allows him to move into his next race with a refreshed mental state, which is important because . . .

 

2. Success Comes With a Sound Mental State. As Ryan Dungey puts it, “You can be the fittest guy out there, but if you don’t have it going on mentally, the physicality doesn’t mean anything.”

 

When life throws you into a high intensity situation, be it on a field or track, in a boardroom, or even a tense conversation with a spouse, a healthy mental state is the best tool to not just make it through, but find favorable results on the other side.

 

But, that healthy mental state doesn’t live in the realm of overconfidence, or the domain of timidity – it lies somewhere in the middle. As Eli Tomac says, “You don’t want to bring overconfidence because you might get caught sleeping, but, you don’t want to be too nervous and lose your way – try to find the middle.”

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Eli Tomac (Photo Credit: Feld Entertainment)

 

Sounds great, but how to do we find that mental middle ground . . .

 

3. Preparation Is Key. All four riders reiterated that preparation is, as Ryan Dungey says, “the best way to be ready for the challenge.” And when asked if he had any rituals before a race Ricky Carmichael reminisced that his only reliable ritual was preparation.

 

So folks, if at first you don’t succeed, do as Eli Tomac does and “go all in with preparation.” And the more you prepare, the easier it is to . . .

 

4. Keep your cool, and focus on yourself. In our social media obsessed culture it can be easy to get lost in what everyone else is doing – becoming despondent if someone scored a goal you’ve been vying for, feeling “less than” if a colleague is able to log more hours of prep than you, or getting distracted by irritation if a competitor seems adamant to goad you. Ryan Dungey battles this by “keeping my cool, and focusing on myself.”

 

So, if you become overwhelmed by the doings of others, circle back to your own unique talents and abilities, devote your energy to putting in the work towards your goal, and allow the resulting sense of power to return you to a lovely state of equilibrium.

 

And above all else . . .

 

5. Be in it for the long haul. In supercross (and most things in life worth working for) a championship is not won in one race, it’s won over a series of races. Losing perspective, by becoming ruled by the outcome of one event in a series, pulls you out of the long-term focus and lasting spirit you need to conqueror the ultimate win. Ken Roczen described it as, “Being out of for blood, but not overreacting.” Love it.

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Ken Roczen (Photo Credit: Feld Entertainment)

 

Want to see how this advice pans out for these boys? With the exception of retired Ricky Carmichael, these three riders just began their 2017 supercross season that is sure to offer an intriguing seventeen rounds, leading to the crowning of a champion.

Article also available on Huff Post

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Inside the NYC Music Scene with The Delancey Five Leader Svetlana Shmulyian

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There are many voices flowing through New York City’s music venues, but few as alluring as Svetlana Shmulyian – a woman who channels the essence of Ella Fitzgerald, while mixing in an aural flavor that’s all her own.

Svetlana is the leader of the swing band The Delancey Five, and a regular at many of the jazz clubs and speakeasies that together form a web of old school musical magic. But, as intriguing as Svetlana’s pipes are, I’m equally enthralled by the fact that she’s churning out all this goodness while also being the mother to three young girls (go team mompreneurs!)

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Svetlana and The Delancey Five

Below is your key into the mind of one of the most badass ladies gracing the most interesting stages in New York.

Bailey Gaddis: Any advice for NYC tourists wanting to make the most of their time being immersed in the city’s music offerings.

Svetlana Shmulyian: It all depends on what you want to see! NYC has a “scene” for everything – whether you are into avant-garde jazz, or swing dancing, or salsa, reggae, or indie rock – there are multiple spaces­ to listen to this specific kind of music and mix with other lovers of it.

There are highbrow spots and underground spots for every kind of music, each offering a unique experience – and an “only in New York” thing to do is to experience these different spots in the same night!  So, search online for a specific kind of music you are interested in, on a specific date, and go to a high-brow show at 8pm (for example, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola for jazz and swing), grab a small plate or a snack after (like a falafel or noodles in Greenwich Village), and then “club-hop” through a few hidden speakeasy spots, like Mezzrow, Back Room, or Smalls for an after hours jam session.

BG: Being a mom, how do you find time to explore the live music in NYC? Do your daughters enjoy jazz and swing music? 

SS: I mainly explore the live music scene when I perform – and then stay later to check out after-hours shows of friends, or other acts I am interested in. On the nights I do not work, I prefer to stay home with my daughters, unless there is a very special show going on.

On the other hand, attending shows is part of a continuous education and improvement for anyone – and a feeding of the soul, so I try to do it as much as I can. That said, keeping a work-life balance is a challenge for any working mom, being a musician mom is no exception – we all do the best we can!

My daughters like jazz and swing – my older one is exploring other genres in her school orchestra, band and chorus. My little one always asks me to put my record on in the car and knows all my songs by heart!

BG: What inspired you to put together flashmobs? What is that process like?

SS: The idea to create a flashmob came from dancers themselves, and one of the swing DJs that often work with my band (DJ Douglas McMilan). The idea stems from our love for swing music and swing dancing, and is meant to celebrate a great community of swing dancers, and our beautiful town of New York. Because of these factors, we wanted to pick a dramatic spot against which the dancers and the band can be best seen, listened to, and danced to – Times Square!

The infectious vibe of our first event gained momentum for the gathering, and the following summer’s event went viral with several thousand people RSVP-ing, and hundreds of people actually attending. Our flashmob this summer, around SeaGlass Carousel, was profiled on WPIX 11 with live music and dancing at 8am (clearly way too early, but still very cool!). And our last flashmob was, once again, conducted in Times Square on Halloween night, and was listed in Time Out New York as the top free event to do on Halloween. Our next Times Square flashmob will once again take place in Times Square – all the information will be listed on the band’s Facebook page, and the website, where folks can find videos and photos of the last year’s events!

BG: What are you currently working on?

SS: I am currently working up songs for my next album, which will be a Volume Two of Night at the Speakeasy (our first album produced by Guy Eckstine, featuring Wycliffe Gordon). The vibe will remain ‘swing’ and ‘music that makes you smile,’ as the first album did. But, I will continue to develop my voice through the new original songs, some of which may go outside of the swing idiom, while definitely still retaining a vintage feel, and a feeling of ‘social music’ (a term coined first by Miles Davis and today championed by Jon Batiste).

‘Social music’ is music for your mind (sophisticated music played by first rate musicians), your feet (music you can dance and move to!), and your heart (music that will make you feel warm and welcome to the world of art, imagination and music).

I also enjoyed having special guests on the first album and will continue this tradition in the second album. I wrote several songs, some with my songwriting collaborator, Ryan Smith, and received permission to record original songs written, and arranged by, friends and collaborators – Wycliffe Gordon, Jay Rattman, Ruby Choy, and others.

I am also working on the birthday show that will include some of this new material for the performance at Joe’s Pub (date pending for early March).

In honor of the chilly weather flowing across the United States, check out Svetlana’s rendition of Baby It’s Cold Outside.

*This article has been edited and condensed.

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Talking Freedom, Power and Masculinity with Transformational Teacher David Wagner

I’ve sought out the services of many “inner work facilitators”: hypnotherapists, meditation teachers, yoga instructors, psychologists, the eccentric old lady next door- pretty much anyone who would listen. I partook in all this wisdom seeking in the hopes of feeling like less of stranger to myself.

All the forementioned facilitators were lovely, providing open ears and sage words, but I usually left my time with these folks feeling confused, like I needed a wisdom decoder.

My desire for such a decoder persisted, until I met David Wagner. David is a transformational teacher and author of the book Backbone: The Modern Man’s Ultimate Guide to Purpose, Passion and Power he aptly describes himself as “a combination of a healer, life coach, and life strategist.”

As a friend, David exudes a refreshing transparency: precise with his language, and unafraid to express love . . . or raw humor, or curiosity, or whatever the heck he feels compelled to express. As a teacher, David fully shows up for the individual he’s working with. Every time I’ve experienced David in a professional capacity, he seems to enter the space holding a proverbial clean slate – having no agenda but to support that person (or group of persons) through whatever they’re navigating, and to support them in finding their freedom and power in the process.

David’s responses to my scattered thoughts and emotions, during a private session, were so uncontrived and clear I felt them strike me in my core, then resonate up to my mind, where I experienced dozen of ah-has in the span of an hour.

Because of this clarity and candidness, I thought it best for David to speak for himself – so, I sat down with him in his cozy office in Ojai, CA to get a better glimpse of what it’s like to be David Wagner.

Bailey Gaddis: How would you describe what you do?

David Wagner: People work with me on whatever they’re navigating; I’m like a midwife of freedom and power for people. When people are at that point where they’re ready to break free, where they’re ready to unearth some inner power that was previously jammed up, then I can help them to do that – to create space for them as they do that; I can assist that, I don’t do it for them.

I have made it my work to understand people, and to understand the way people live a life of wisdom. Basically, I help people to have a relationship with God; God in the broadest sense, meaning a relationship with Spirit, or something greater than themselves, or some unseen element of life. In some cases, that’s a matter or training people in practices like meditation, self-inquiry, etc.

BG: Why do you think it’s important to approach spirituality in a straight forward, no-BS manner? Or is that even an intentional choice?

DW: It is intentional.

Many teachers talk in that soft “spiritual voice” and create a certain environment (chanting, incense, etc.): they have a certain style. Maybe it’s useful, maybe it’s not, but you feel better when you leave because you’ve been bathing in a vibe, which is great; but, that’s not natural for me.

There’s a place where spiritual teachers can talk in a really ordinary language. I live a relatively ordinary life, so it’s natural for me to use sort of ordinary language.

BG: How are you affected each time you lead a retreat, or work with a private client?

DW: Every time I teach it’s different. Whenever I’m doing whatever it is that I’m doing, I’m not completely in it the way I would be if I were only a participant, but I’m immersing myself in the content I’m offering. Often, when I’m teaching, I’ll hear myself say things that are much more enlightened or wise than I think of my actual experience being. So I’ll hear myself teaching and I’ll learn from listening to myself.

Also, being in the experiential process with people, I’m right there in it with them. So if we’re meditating together – the way I do it – we’re going into a shared psychic space together; I’m experiencing what you’re experiencing.

The other piece of it is, it’s just incredibly moving for me to see people interacting with grace, and to see people going through the process of transformation – when they do it.

BG: What were the primary catalysts that led you to teaching?

DW: It’s my dharma; I was born to do this. So, in some ways it’s one of the only things I’ve been able to do well and feel like “yeah, this is my thing.” So that’s part of it, but the way I first got into spirituality was in AA when I was very young, a teenager. There was a heavy emphasis on service, and we had this expression, “you’ve got to give it away to keep it.” So, that was a general orientation and I discovered that was a really good way to stay sober and assimilate the work of transformation if I knew that I was going to have to help other people go through that process.

I also had a moment when I was in college [an art student.] I took a course called Mystical Consciousness, East and West, and it was a really cool teacher who was exposing us to all these different mystical traditions. One of the things he exposed us to was mystical Christianity. He showed us a documentary about mother Teresa, and there’s a scene where she and some missionaries have to go in and rescue children that are abandoned in a hospital in a war torn area. She enters the hospital and picks up an emaciated baby and looks at the baby, strokes the baby and says “beautiful child,” with so much love, and poise, and steadiness. She’s radiating so much love. It hit me in that moment; I realized that I could be whatever I want to be in this life. I could be a vehicle for God’s love on Earth; that was an option to me. Once I saw that I could do that, the realization erased all other options; there was nothing else I could do, as my main thing in life.

The way that I’m teaching right now, something that I’ve settled into over the past 15 or 20 years, is the most natural expression of that calling.

BG: When men complete Backbone, how do you hope their life (or their perception of their life) has shifted?

DW: It depends on the man. I wrote Backbone because after many years of teaching I realized 95% of the people I was working with were female, and the other 5% [the men] were already very open. There was no Oprah for men; so women had this huge expanse as a group, and men stayed out of it.

I wrote Backbone, and some of the men’s training that I do, to answer that. I wrote it in a way so a man that’s already on a spiritual path, could read it and find a masculine expression of his spirituality; and for a man who has no idea about his spirituality, the book can act like a primer for having an inner life.

A lot of men don’t really have a conscious inner life, and so if a man reads Backbone it can be confronting – they may need to take breaks. They’re confronted with the knowing that they can create themselves; they’re confronted with the idea that their life is theirs and the way that they are is their choice. If they get some tools about how to that from the book, I consider that an extra bonus.

To learn more about David, visit his website DavidWagner.com

This interview has been condensed.

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How to Have the Ultimate Christmas Family Vacation in Downtown San Francisco

I’m addicted to the spirit of Christmas – so much so that I would happily pull up roots and move to Santa’s Village if the big guy extended an invite.

 

This ever-present craving for all things jolly, cheery and evergreen-y pulled me to downtown San Francisco two weeks before The Big Day. I wanted a chance for my young son, husband and I to get away for a mini and merry trip before we were absorbed into the loving chaos of our extended family.

 

While most Christmas themed areas leave me wanting more (more mistletoe, more lights, more hot chocolate, more classic holiday tunes, more wreaths, more red, more green, and more cheer) I left my holiday getaway to SF full of joy, wonder and peppermint flavored spirits.

 

Have a hankering for your own holiday themed sojourn? Here are events and activities in downtown San Francisco to help you create the ultimate Christmas family vacation.

Read more on Huff Post!

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Nobody Told Me Weaning Would Be So Damn Hard

I felt a heavy ball of mourning in the pit of my stomach the last time I breastfed my son; physically, it felt like there was a cheese grater scraping over my nipples (I knew it was time to stop), but emotionally, I felt like we could go on forever. My body had been weaning him for the previous six months, supplying less and less nectar, requiring heightened sucking and ample nip-soreness.

I began the cold turkey weaning with the white lie, “Not right now,” when he would ask to nurse. I was lying to us both, giving him the illusion that at a time that wasn’t “right now” I’d let him nurse, and I was giving my self the illusion that the most intense form of bonding either of us had ever known wasn’t really over.

After a week of “not right nows,” my son and my emotions caught on and we cried hard. Our relationship had forever shifted, and my relationship with my self was thrown into a blender.

Breastfeeding was like my parenting “fail safe”; what I could rely on to make myself feel like a decent parent even if I’d been distracted and totally un-fun that day. It was my mommy reset button.

Read more on Babble!

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Honoring Our Need to Hibernate

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I love being out in the world. I love connecting with people. I love getting out of my head and tuning into my heart: it lights up when I’m with people who make me smile.

But after awhile, I don’t love it, and I need to reset.

After I burst my introverted bubble and observe myself with others, questions begin to percolate into my awareness as I step out of the socializing: “Why did I say that to this person? Why do I feel nervous in those situations? I wonder what that person thought when I said this thing? Why am I such an awkward hugger?” Ugh.

My time in my nest, my time for resetting, isn’t really about answering those questions, but letting them flow through and out of me. Sure, I could sit for days analyzing every social situation I flubbed, but that much time in my head makes me nervous.

So, I let those questions do their thing, I avoid human interaction for a few hours (maybe days), and I reconnect to myself. For me, that reconnection looks like writing, meditating, staring at my Christmas tree lights (happy holidays y’all!), watching TV shows that do nothing for my intellect but are so yummy, napping, playing with my son (who could care less how smart or witty I am), and engaging in other fail-safe activities for my soul – and ego!

After a solid period of hibernation, I crave a flight out of my coop.

I used to resist this hibernation. I used to have difficulty enjoying my alone time. I used to think that avoiding humans made me a less functional member of society.

But, hibernation actually makes me better at being a human who interacts with other humans. My well runs dry when I try to push too much socializing out of myself.

I’m starting to find my balance, and it feels really nice: I’m working with who I am, instead of who I think I should be.

What about you? When does your “socializing well” run dry?
Maybe it happens after an hour of small, medium and big talk at a party. Maybe all your wells fill up when socializing and you could do it all day er’ day. Maybe you can only handle a few minutes at a time.

Let’s honor our individual limits and care for our authentic selves, instead of trying to fit into that one-size-fits-all “model self” society has fashioned for us.

Happy nesting!

P.S. Have a child? Begin noticing when their little well runs dry and let them cozy up in their nest to refuel: the tantrums (for all of us!) usually start to fade when we honor our boundaries.