More Energy for Mama! Simple Ways to Up Your Beat

My normal state is upbeat, optimistic and energetic. So if I am feeling out of sorts in any way, I know something is up.

I am fortunate to be blessed with good health and a positive disposition. Unfortunately, over the years, I have also developed some minor health challenges that can rob me of my usual energy, motivation and pleasure when I am not keeping close tabs on my daily attitude.

If you are experiencing consistent low energy, it’s time to visit your doctor, who can run a series of tests to determine if you have a medical condition in need of treatment.

But if you only feel occasionally out of steam or out of sorts, maybe it’s time to pay better attention to your energy tank. Is your tank typically half-full or even running on empty? No matter what the cause of your energy dips, the best way to banish the doldrums and bounce back with vigor is to pay attention to ways to increase your energy each day.

So, the next time you feel wiped out, whether for an hour, a day or even a series of days, see if you can pump your energy back up by trying some of these simple yet helpful mood boosters:

Up the Green Stuff. Try Odwalla Superfood juice. Add spinach or kale to your next smoothie. Put a couple of teaspoons of Vitamineral Green superfood powder into your daily juice. If you are vitamin/mineral-deficient, you will likely notice the difference immediately once you ingest more much-needed meanie-greenies.

Move That Booty. Try aerobic exercise three times a week for 30 minutes, five times a week for 20 minutes or just get out for a daily walk. Put on your workout clothes first thing after you get up to remind yourself to make exercise a daily priority.

Drink It Down. Put your daily allotment of water in a pitcher on the counter and drink the pitcher down as the day goes along. You don’t have to sip your water slowly, and it’s easy to chug down and absorb if you keep it at room temperature. The Mayo Clinic recommends women drink nine cups or 2.2 liters per day.

Snooze Better. Keep the bedroom tidy. Block out any evening or morning window light with heavy drapes. Change your sheets weekly. Replace any bumpy or ragged pillows.

Let Sunshine In. Open up those shades and blinds and give the windows a quick wipe down for an immediate mood-improver. Sunshine boosts your happy hormone, serotonin, and increases white blood cell production, which helps boost your immune system. Ah.

Keep Blood Sugar Steady. Add more protein into your diet so you will stay energized longer. Try easy-to-incorporate sources like yogurt, cottage cheese or eggs.

Buy Some Boing. Bounce back more quickly from everything with a pair of new sneakers and some cushy athletic socks. Put them to ample use by wearing them indoors and out.

Surround Smile. Hang images of smiling people you love everywhere. Put away any photos that bring you down. What other images or words bring you joy? Get them out and up.

Share the Bouquet Bounty. Purchase a large bunch of flowers and then break the blooms up into smaller vases around the house. Combine a few flowers with twigs and blooms in season by the front door.

Brighten Up. Dispel shadowy corners by changing all the burned-out bulbs in the house. Then restock your backup supply so that you will be ready for next time.

Wash Away the Dust. Launder the curtains, the blankets and the pet beds. This keeps the air cleaner and keeps seasonal allergies at bay, as well.

Chew Longer. Put a bowl of fresh fruit next to the couch near the TV. Continually rotate a variety of crudités in the fridge. When you need to crunch, choose healthy junk food like popcorn or baked chips.

Spritz Things Up. Place some lemon or orange air fresheners around the house, especially in the kitchen, bathrooms and pet rooms.

Bring on the Berries. Keep a variety of energizing berries in the house year-round, if you can. Add their intense color to at least two meals a day.

Freshen Up. Add a mint or eucalyptus body and foot scrub to your shower gel collection. Either one will wake you right up.

Still Tired? Try an easy-to-absorb iron supplement daily for one week. Take it with a citrusy beverage. Notice an improvement? You just might need more iron on an ongoing or cyclical basis. Ask your doctor about a blood test to find out where you stand.

Boost Your Energy on the Go

Here are some items to keep in your purse or car that will keep your energy running high all day, no matter what you have on your to-do list:

  • Small packets of trail mix
  • Non-sugary granola bars
  • A water bottle that fits in your car’s beverage holder
  • A couple of individually wrapped Yerba Maté tea bags
  • Minty gum or breath fresheners
  • Photos in your wallet of your most beloved people
  • Lip-gloss in your favorite color
  • Roll-on perfume to dab on your wrists
  • Divinely scented hand cream

You may also like:

Nancy Gonzalez, Volusia County Schools
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Trisha Howell MSH, RD, LD/N, IFMCP, CEO of Smart Wellness LLC
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Dawn Sapp Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, St. Johns County School District
Barbara C. Holley

Moms! Make YOU a Priority

Raising kids is one of the most life-changing and rewarding times of your life, but it can also be the most exhausting and draining. While moms typically make their kids their top priority, putting them above their own needs and wants, moms need to make time for themselves so that they can continue to be at their best when it comes to supporting and taking care of their families. Moms, it’s time to make you a priority.

Why?

Your mental health is important

Being a mother has its emotional highs and lows. Your body goes through amazing physical and mental changes during pregnancy, birth and the years that follow. It is important for moms to make their mental health a priority. Ask your significant other or a trusted friend to help you monitor when you are struggling. Ask for help if you feel you are not at your best emotionally. Taking care of your family on a day-to-day basis can be draining on your emotional reserves, but when you have participated in activities that make you feel happy and healthy, it is easier to be attentive and supportive to those around you.

Your physical health is a priority

If you are physically exhausted, it is hard to be patient with your kids or accomplish anything productive at home or work. Getting good rest, exercising and eating healthy are important for moms to feel at their best. It’s also important for moms to make their health important by visiting the doctor, dentist and other appointments to maintain health on a regular basis. So often, moms will delay their own scheduled doctor visits to make time for their families, but routine check-ups can prevent issues before they arise.

How to make yourself a priority?

Find your tribe

Having a group of friends who understand what it’s like to raise children, work, maintain a healthy lifestyle and commit to a loving marriage is important for moms to feel “normal” and supported. Moms groups (like MOPS), online meetups or groups, book clubs or church groups are great places to meet and connect with other moms with whom you have things in common.

Set aside time

Between running errands, extracurricular activities, housework and spending time with your kids, it can be hard to set aside time for yourself. Spending time alone, with your spouse (without your kids) and with friends is so important for moms to feel energized for another day. Add time for you to the family calendar to ensure that it happens on a regular basis and that any child care needs are met.

Exercise

A good exercise routine not only keeps you healthy and fit, but it can also help you feel better about yourself as well as give you an extra energy boost for the long days of mothering. Taking time for exercise can also give you a chance to be alone and listen to a podcast, audiobook or music you enjoy while working out. If your exercise takes you outside, you also get an added boost of Vitamin D, which has been proven to help you feel happier too.

Treat yourself

Moms work hard. Allow yourself a treat such as a coffee, a new outfit, a fresh haircut, a pedicure or a sweet treat on occasion. Giving yourself permission to treat yourself can boost your mood and acknowledge that you work hard and deserve something special. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money; it’s more about putting yourself first on occasion.

Talk to someone

Sometimes we just need someone to talk to about our feelings, what is going on in our lives, and the details of everyday life. One way moms make themselves a priority is to find a friend or family member they can chat with on a regular basis. Some may find it helpful to talk to a counselor if they have a lot to work through and have dealt with depression or feel like they could use some unbiased advice.

Ask for help

Moms are used to helping others and many of us have a hard time reaching out and asking for help. However, when a friend asks, we are the first to offer assistance. Give others a chance to help you. Set up a carpool so you are not always the one playing taxi with the kids for their after-school activities, accept help when offered, or trade babysitting with a friend so you can have a much-needed date night. If your significant other offers to help out around the house, let them, even if it isn’t exactly the way you would have done it. Accepting help can be a big relief and can give moms the chance for some much-needed time to focus on themselves.

Take up a hobby

What do you love to do? Many moms find they have forgotten the hobbies they used to enjoy prior to kids. Make time for yourself and your interests. Seek out an old hobby or find a new one – reading, running, sewing, scrapbooking – whatever activity gets you excited is what you need to make time for. Whether you do your hobby with a group of friends or on your own, you will not regret making time for something that is important to you.

It’s not possible to put yourself first all the time when you are a busy mom, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set aside time when you are the priority. It’s important for your mental and physical health and well-being and will make you a better mom overall.

Quick Ways to Boost Your Mood

After taking care of your family’s needs, working and doing household chores, moms can feel like their gas tank is running on empty, which can drain their energy and mood. Here are some quick ways to boost your mood.

  • Sing along – Turn up your favorite song and sing along. Dancing and singing are sure to boost your mood.
  • Laugh it off – Call a friend who always makes you laugh. If your child is doing something that is frustrating, try to laugh it off. Turn on a funny TV show or podcast. Laughter is the best medicine.
  • Take a bath – A relaxing soak in the tub is always a good mood booster and can help tense muscles relax, helping you feel physically better as well.
  • Take a walk – Physical exercise and a break from your house and chores is a great way to change your mood.
  • Let it go – Do you have piles of dishes and laundry to do? Is it overwhelming? Let it go. You can’t leave it forever, but you can for now. Find something fun to do instead, just for the day. You might find that after a break away, you come back to it with a better attitude.
  • Take a nap – There is nothing better than a nap to help you recharge your batteries. If your baby is sleeping, take the time to rest as well. If you have older kids, put in a movie and rest next to them on the couch. You will feel recharged and ready for the rest of the day.

You may also like:

Nancy Gonzalez, Volusia County Schools
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Carla Defuria , Health Coach and Registered Dietician, Flagler Health+
Trisha Howell MSH, RD, LD/N, IFMCP, CEO of Smart Wellness LLC
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Dawn Sapp Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, St. Johns County School District
Barbara C. Holley

Snapshots From the Past

When I set out to write this article, I thought my community outreach would yield scores of ideas and loads of sentimental stories about sharing fun and timeless traditions learned from generations prior. Alas, I was proved wrong. My efforts proved fruitless. How can a writer write without a source, inspiration or other people’s insight?

Sometimes, you must look within.

Traditions—family pastimes—are a funny thing. Often, we don’t even know they are happening, as they are just a part of us, occurrences that have continuously existed. It’s not until we look back that we see the great imprint these seemingly small moments had on our lives. For the Modugno side of my family, there has always been an unwavering presence of food and music.

Rock out.

My great-grandfather was a musician in the iconic Mummers Day Parade. Every visit to their South Philadelphia row home, he asked my sister, “Did you bring your fiddle?” He’d grab his banjo and start plucking away. Then, Sammie, a dear family friend, would tune his saxophone and whistle along with the enchanting melody, usually an Italian ballad of sorts. (Fun fact: A distant cousin Domenico Modugno, is the voice behind “Volare,” which means “to fly” in Italian). Finally, my grandfather, my Poppi, would jump in, finessing the accordion. The band was in full swing. We would clap and dance along. Sometimes, there’d be a sweet solo sung, but often it was an extemporaneous jam session.

This happened at my Poppi and Grammie’s house, too. Only there, the pianos would start the groove—that’s when my Uncle RJ would take the helm—and my Poppi would keep the rhythm on the drums. Oldies, rock or a nod to our Italian heritage were the favorites. Sometimes, Pop would enlighten us with a titillating jazz riff when no one else wanted to play along.

We grew up immersed in the tones and nuances of instruments. My sister’s repertoire grew to include piano, mellophone and French horn. I remember the Christmas my brother got a drum kit. To this very day, he plays in bands. I was always the singer, the entertainer, who knew enough piano to play some basic melodies.

For my sister and me, our kids have taken notes. These days, it’s my husband who is gliding his hands on the piano as I sing. My son dances to the tune or dives into the songs he knows, like “Memory” from Cats. My niece, on the other hand, has accepted a coveted vocalist placement at a charter school in her town. Well earned.

All of these musical forums convened as anticipated a meal…

Lasagna: it’s what’s for dinner.

I still remember the setup of my grandparent’s house. The stairs upon entry. The couches, with clear plastic coverings so the grandkids couldn’t destroy the furniture. Cases harboring my grandfather’s Eagles shrine. They lived outside of Philadelphia, after all. A sofa so old the indentations were permanent, the recliner solely for my grandfather and the pianos. But then there is a fragrance of simmering foods and sweets baking, with music and laughter boldly in the background.

Food has been a keystone for our Irish-Italian family, as it is in many others. My grandmother has six children to feed, four of them active males. Many holidays and family events were spent waiting in agony for the food to be ready. My uncles would charismatically saunter through the kitchen, tossing a dashing smile toward their mother, grandmother and sisters, plotting the precise time to strike and snatch a sample of anything they could grab—a taste test of sorts. Often, the cunning behavior was welcomed with a whack from a spatula—usually delivered by my Grammie or Nanny—a warning to run from this hub of scrumptious goods.

Meanwhile, all the kids would lurk in the shadows, pathetically feigning starvation, as if we had some control over when supper would be served. This was especially difficult at Christmas because until dinner was served, there would be no unveiling of the gifts.

It was a staple at our dinners, lasagna. My Grammie and great Nanny Piccani each made a stellar version layered with a menagerie of noodles, mixed Ricotta and melted mozzarella, finished with just the right portion of garlic marinara that the delectable red sauce would cascade when served. Kiss. I’m certain there were fights over whose was better, though I was shooed from the kitchen and any discussion.

This attention to cuisine is something dear to me as well as my siblings. Rita, my sister, who is the namesake of my great grandmother Nanny, is a much better cook. I’m more of a free spirit, a risk taker but a solid baker, while my brother is super adventurous and creative.

Over the years, beginning with my pregnancy, I took a liking to preparing meals for my family, and I have a keen eye for lasagna. It was the first dinner I made and froze to prep for the new addition. I never follow the recipe, yet I’m always asked for it. Spoiler, I don’t have one. Somehow Rita 2.0 got her paws on those things, so I just make it up as I go. And now, my son has taken a liking to joining me in the kitchen. Baking is his favorite because he loves cookies. His idea of fun is gathering all the ingredients—particularly the eggs—combining them and asking when the timer will ding.

There is history in food; there are solace and promise in the music we share with our loved ones. Reflecting on these moments, I realize I’m passing on the same affinity to my kid, the same affection for homemade food and quality time. He impatiently waits for the treats to be ready…just as I sat in agony through dinner anxiously waiting to dive into dessert. And he has found a love for rhythm that cannot be taught.

Things may change in ways from generation to generation but continuing or reinvigorating certain aspects may inspire the next legacy. And, well, that’s just delicious.

You may also like:

Nancy Gonzalez, Volusia County Schools
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Trisha Howell MSH, RD, LD/N, IFMCP, CEO of Smart Wellness LLC
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The Legacy of Moms

A mother’s impact is felt from the moment their child is born. Throughout their lives, they take on many roles, such as caregivers, confidants, educators and friends. Much of their energy is given to the betterment of those around them, finding joy in the chaos parenting presents. They leave their mark on the world, not only in what they do but also in the humans they raise and the lives they touch.

Mothers provide a sincere and intimate bond that can’t be replicated, a love and support that often begins at birth. As such, we continue to celebrate and honor their dedication.

For over 100 years, we have shown our gratitude for the woman who raised us. But for many, observing the Mother’s Day holiday is earmarked with memories of times past, memories that will never be re-created.
Remembering those souls who are no longer present is a situation many find themselves in each year. While they may not be present, their legacy lives on.

A Difficult New Year

For JoAnna Thompson, this Mother’s Day will be difficult: her mother passed in the early months of 2022, making this the first celebration without her best friend.

“Her spirit is alive. I didn’t do anything to make that happen; she did,” JoAnna says, reflecting on her mother’s infectious personality. “I hear her voice. I see her in the mirror, in my sister, my kids.”

What does she miss the most? Among her unconditional love and frequent phone calls, she misses her mother having the right answer, the words she needed to hear—in comfort or in tough love. Joanna knows this isn’t going to be easy, especially for her own children, who were also close with their grandmother.

Yet, she has found some solace in the memories of them singing together. The song “The Truth I’m Standing On” by Leanna Crawford has been a treasured release as she navigates the world and fondly recalls the beautiful moments she cherishes of her mother.

To honor her mother, she says, “The only thing I can do is try to be even just half the mother she was.”

A New Generation

Sophie Taylor’s mother passed about 10 years ago from breast cancer. She admits there are hard days, days when the sudden grief will wash over her. This became particularly noticeable after the birth of her own daughter, Faye.

“I have great women in my life, who have been super supportive and helpful,” she shares. “But you know, not to sugarcoat it, it’s not my own mom. It’s just not the same.” By acknowledging her emotions, she is able to move through the absence of her beloved mom. “[I] lean on my husband. I talk it out when I need to, and I do have a counselor that I call on and talk to as a third party.”

And she chooses to make every effort to show young Faye the dynamic essence of her grandmother.

Favorite hobbies of her mother included making fresh-pressed flower frames with watercolor paintings, Sophie explains. “I was able to get one of those frames from my dad and I put it in Faye’s nursery. So, she’s [my mom] physically there and so Faye can look at it.”

She continues, “My mom was really into gardening and had a green thumb, and Cory [my husband] and I are the same way.”

The pair has turned it into a new favorite pastime, not only for the fresh fruit, vegetables and beautiful flowers but also as a way to connect their daughter with her grandmother.

Leaving A Legacy

Nearly 13 years ago, Jennifer Presswood’s mother lost her battle with breast cancer. Though the way she honors her mom each year changes, the sentiment, love and admiration are ever radiant.

“She did everything with so much passion behind it,” she reflects. Her mom was a pharmacist, committed to helping people. Jennifer is now a marketing executive for a regional health insurance company with a mission that inspires Jen. After her cancer diagnosis, Jennifer’s mom, Karen, founded METAvivor, an organization dedicated to metastatic breast cancer awareness, research and support.

“My mom left a legacy,” she shares proudly. At first, she felt a subtle pressure to be involved in the organization to keep her mother’s advocacy alive, to continue what her mom started.

“The legacy of starting a nonprofit organization, advocating for the need for more dollars to go to research and support for Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer while fighting cancer herself, those are some tough shoes to follow or step into,” she says.

Eventually, Jennifer found her own passion in the volunteer world. “What I have learned over time is I need to honor those shoes by creating my own legacy to keep her passion and spirit alive,” she acknowledges, collaborating with METAvivor when possible.

As she has evolved both personally and professionally, Jennifer is in a place where she is more now than ever a striking comparison to her mother: living her purpose and passion through work.

“As I have become more grounded in my grief, this year I will honor my mom by resting, pausing and simply celebrating her,” says Jennifer. She wishes her mom could see how far she’s come.

Anna Jarvis secured her mother’s legacy so we could continue to honor mothers for years to come. Simply choosing to remember our maternal figures, no matter the manner, is the greatest gift we can give. It embodies all forms. From artistic endeavors and rest to maternal aspirations and legacies, our recognition of what they do and have done will continue to guide our path.

We honor those who have moved on from this life by living our lives. By carrying out our dreams and by welcoming each day with unyielding zest and energy for whatever comes our way, we honor them. By using the lessons they have taught us, engaging with their passions and joys—even in our own way—and sharing these facets with our own children, we honor them. Now and always, we carry them in our hearts.

You may also like:

Nancy Gonzalez, Volusia County Schools
Nathalie Orlando, RN
Carla Defuria , Health Coach and Registered Dietician, Flagler Health+
Trisha Howell MSH, RD, LD/N, IFMCP, CEO of Smart Wellness LLC
Bookelicious
Dawn Sapp Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, St. Johns County School District
Barbara C. Holley

Ten Mompower Mantras: Positive Self-talk for Moms for the Whole Family’s Sake

In case of an emergency landing on a plane, we are instructed to put on our own air masks first before assisting our children. We hear this advice so often that it eventually becomes like a mantra we repeat to ourselves as soon as we board an aircraft.

But how often, in the midst of hectic times in our lives, do we jettison all the healthy instructions we know we should be repeating to ourselves right then when we need it most?

For busy moms, the answer is too often. Enter these 10 mompower mantras to help you remember the magic words that can quickly restore order and sanity to your life no matter how much hustle and bustle you are facing today.

So sit yourself down and commit these phrases to memory. This list of notes-to-self will remind you how to take care of yourself in the short run, so you can better take care of your whole family in the long run and set a good example for a lifetime of healthy self-talk, too.

  1. I Am Allowed To Say ‘No Thanks.” If you feel harried and hectic, running from one family activity to the next, you may have forgotten how to bow out gracefully. All you likely need is a little practice in the no thank you department. Once you get back in the habit of weighing and measuring before you commit, your schedule will calm down and you can better choose how to divide and conquer your time. Just remember, in times of distress, the cure is often the shortest word you know.Repeat: Sometimes I say, ‘yes,’ and sometimes I say, ‘no.’
  2. My Health & Energy Matter. Expect to feel happy and healthy every day. And if you don’t, seek solutions and improvements immediately. If you are not feeling your best, don’t ignore niggling symptoms. Maybe a small adjustment in diet and exercise is all that is needed. Or maybe you need to consult with a health care professional. If you carry invisible hurts from the past, you owe it to yourself and others to seek healing support.Repeat: I take care of health concerns in a timely manner.
  3. Oops, I Am Not Perfect. If you are putting yourself under too much pressure or believe that others are holding you up to impossibly high standards, you may have trouble accepting yourself as you are. You are human, so naturally, you will sometimes make mistakes. Forgive yourself for past errors in judgment or action, make amends with others swiftly as needed, and resist the tendency to be too hard on yourself. A penchant for self-recrimination will hurt you in the long run.Repeat: I am human; therefore, I make mistakes.
  4. Home Is Sacred. Creating a safe, secure, stress-free home helps everyone in the family feel more loved and loving. Undercurrents of strife can undermine a family’s need for relaxation and rejuvenation. Try to make your home a relaxing respite where everyone feels welcome and appreciated. Then family members can carry that feeling of sacred space out into the world when they leave home, too.Repeat: There is nowhere as precious as home.
  5. I Keep in Touch With My Needs. Are you feeling fuzzy and muddled, as though you are not really certain what matters and what doesn’t? If you can’t remember the last time you did anything for yourself, then it’s time. Making space for yourself is not selfish; it’s necessary. When you spend time doing things you enjoy, your energy goes up. For caregivers, it takes conviction to carve out time for self-expression; otherwise, it inevitably falls to the bottom of the priority list.Repeat: I make regular time for myself.
  6. My Voice Counts. Sometimes we convince ourselves that our opinion does not matter before we have even had a chance to share it. The truth is that everyone’s opinion matters, ours just as much as anyone’s. Sometimes it’s hard to share what you think, especially if your opinion goes against the grain, and speaking up is a risk that’s always worth taking.Repeat: My opinion deserves to be expressed and considered.
  7. Acceptance Is Sanity. Practice accepting situations and others as they are. When things don’t work out the way you’d like, remember that we can’t ultimately control other people and situations. If you feel beholding to everyone and everything, maybe you have forgotten how to let the world spin on without your input. Sometimes we need to be reminded that the world will keep spinning without our expert micro-managing. Today, just tackle what’s already on your plate.Repeat: I am only responsible for what I choose to take on.
  8. My Example Inspires. You matter. Often we look for role models without remembering that we are all setting an example, for better or for worse, every day. Sacrificing self is not a requirement; it’s an unhealthy habit that needs to be broken. If you relentlessly practice self-sacrifice, then that’s the legacy you pass along. You are all called to be an example for someone. Start with what you want to embody for your children and family and then move on to the rest of the world from there.Repeat: I strive to be a person I would admire.
  9. Tomorrow Is Going To Be Great. Things don’t stay the same, so it’s important to expect life to be an adventure in growth and change. If you have a very traditional mindset and you like routine, it may take courage to embrace the idea of life as a continual evolution. But if you start by looking forward to tomorrow and can simply let it be different from today, you will enjoy the journey instead of resisting it. If you want to raise brave, optimistic, adventurous children, you are going to have to be brave, optimistic and adventurous yourself.Repeat: I look forward to every day of the future.
  10. I Appreciate This Moment. Of course, we all want to live as long as possible. But we never know how long we are going to be here. Rather than worry about it too much, why not just embrace today? Happiness in this moment isn’t about how much money you make, what you look like or what kind of car you drive. It’s not about how clean your home is, your waistline or what grades your kids are earning. Enjoying the moment is about finding something to appreciate right here, right now and sharing that joy with whoever is right in front of us.Repeat: I surrender to the joy of this moment.

You may also like:

Nancy Gonzalez, Volusia County Schools
Nathalie Orlando, RN
Carla Defuria , Health Coach and Registered Dietician, Flagler Health+
Trisha Howell MSH, RD, LD/N, IFMCP, CEO of Smart Wellness LLC
Bookelicious
Dawn Sapp Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, St. Johns County School District
Barbara C. Holley