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Summer Vacation

As the school bells ring their final chime, it’s time to decide on the family summer vacation plans.  Coming up with a trip that provides “fun” for everyone (and all ages) requires thoughtful planning. Here’s a guide to help you plan the perfect summer getaway for your family this summer.

Your Family’s Vacation Goals

Begin by gathering your family for a discussion on vacation goals. Identify shared interests and preferences to create an itinerary that resonates with everyone. Whether it’s sandy beaches, a mountain adventure, or cultural exploration, understanding your family’s vision sets the tone for your vacation.

Realistic Budget

Establish a realistic budget that aligns with your family’s financial comfort. Consider factors such as accommodation, transportation, meals, and activities. Research cost-effective options and explore discounts or package deals to maximize your budget. Without compromising on the quality of your vacation, you will enjoy savings and fun for the family.

Family-Friendly Destinations

Select a destination that offers diverse interests for all ages within your family.  Look for destinations offering a variety of activities, attractions, and amenities suitable for children and adults. Whether it’s a theme park, a national park, or beach resort, choose a location that’s a well-rounded experience for your family.

Age-Appropriate Activities

Tailor your itinerary with age-appropriate activities to ensure everyone has a good time. Consider the interests of your younger children, teenagers, and all the adults. Be sure to incorporate a mix of adventure, relaxation, and educational experiences for all tastes.  Strike a balance between planned activities and free time for spur-of-the-moment exploration or relaxation.

Create a Flexible Itinerary

While planning is essential, allow room for flexibility in your itinerary. Unexpected discoveries and adventures often become the most cherished memories. Leave space for downtime and unplanned activities, ensuring your family can embrace the joy of exploration without feeling rushed.

Pack Thoughtfully

Encourage each family member to contribute to the packing process. Create a checklist to ensure essentials like clothing, toiletries, and any specific items related to planned activities are not forgotten. Pack snacks, entertainment, and comfort items for the journey, especially if traveling with younger kids.

Planning a family summer vacation involves a delicate balance of organization and flexibility. By defining goals, setting a budget, and choosing a family-friendly destination you set the stage for a memorable vacation experience. Embrace the chance to create lasting memories, strengthen your family bonds, and enjoy shared adventures under the summer sun.

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Caring for Parents

Caring for aging parents is a journey that many of us take on expectedly. As our loved ones enter the later stages of their lives our own lives change. While it is an opportunity to give back and express our gratitude, it is not without its share of challenges. As I navigate through caregiving, I have come to realize the emotional toll it takes. I also discovered the profound rewards that come with caring for aging parents.

Life Balance

One of the most significant challenges I encountered is balancing my life and responsibilities with the needs of my parents. The demands of work, raising a family, and managing personal affairs can sometimes clash. With the time and energy required to ensure the well-being of my parents it’s hard to think of yourself.

It often feels like a juggling act, constantly trying to find a delicate balance. The give and take of caregiving and maintaining “normalcy” in my own life is tough. It is a delicate dance of making sacrifices, setting boundaries, and seeking support. Whether that support is from other family members or external resources to share the load, every bit helps.

Emotional Challenges

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Emotionally, caring for aging parents can be a rollercoaster ride. Witnessing the physical and mental decline of the ones who once cared for you can be heart-wrenching. It is a reminder of their mortality and our own vulnerability. Feelings of guilt, frustration, and helplessness may come up.

As you grapple with the reality of their changing needs and our own limitations, you get sad. Yet, in the midst of these challenging emotions, there is also an opportunity for profound growth, empathy, and connection. It is a time to cherish the precious moments, celebrate small victories, and deepen your bonds with them every day.

Healthcare Frustrations

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Navigating the healthcare system and ensuring the best possible care for your parents is yet another hurdle. The maze of medical appointments, medications, and complex decisions can be overwhelming. Advocating for their needs, understanding medical jargon, and coordinating with various healthcare professionals can feel like another full-time job. It requires patience, perseverance, and the willingness to become an informed advocate for your loved ones.

However, being an active participant in their healthcare journey allows us to be their voice. You must ensure their needs are met and advocate for the quality of life they deserve. Because no one else will.

Rewards

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Despite the challenges, caring for aging parents also brings immeasurable rewards. It is an opportunity to give back and show gratitude for the love and care provided us throughout our lives. It deepens our understanding of the value of family, love, and the fragility of time. It teaches us resilience, patience, and compassion.

Witnessing the small victories, the moments of joy, and the strength and resilience of people is amazing. It is a testament to the human spirit and the power of love for family and friends.

Caring for aging parents is a journey that tests our limits, challenges our emotions, and stretches our capacity for compassion. It is not an easy path. It is one filled with profound growth and moments of immeasurable grace. As I continue on this journey, I am reminded of this privilege of caring for my parents. It is a gift that I will forever cherish.

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Growing Happier Lives

I just finished a book by Harvard professor Arthur Brooks with insights by Oprah Winfrey. Here are useful nuggets you can use to create a happier life.  See if any of them surprises you.

3 Basic Pillars

The three basic pillars of happiness are enjoyment, satisfaction, and purpose. According to Brooks these “macronutrients” of happiness are scientifically proven by studies and our own life experiences.  Case studies and Brooks’ own family are examples of this principle. Some perceptions from Oprah’s own life also illustrate the importance of each one. The book reveals types of career paths you might have chosen due to one of these areas being out of balance. Whether it’s a job or relationship, you need these three “macronutrients” to feel complete joy.

Your Outlook

Another aspect to being happier, (or less unhappy) is having hope. We all have bad things happen in our lives, even tragic. Your reaction and how you deal with those experiences also play into your happiness.

Brooks explains it like this. “There’s a word for believing you can make things better without distorting reality; not optimism, but hope.” Again, illustrated with life and death examples of crisis and how individuals respond to those events determines levels of happiness. Brooks himself explains, he was not a happy person when starting out in his initial career. I won’t spoil anything for you, but his journey is inspiring.

Spirituality

Call it what you will, but believing in a higher power other than focusing on yourself makes a huge difference. Explained as “meditation” or simple connecting on a transcendental level for peace, this is the third area to explore.

Within you lies the power to create happiness and a happier life, but you must live in love and service. Several other spiritual writings assert what Brooks and Winfrey explain, ways they’ve been able to reach this level of contentment.

Living in love is the key along with these main factors. Healthy and happy relationships with the people we are close too, help us understand the feeling of joy and contentment. Living in gratitude, makes us appreciate the good and bad times in our lives.  So, remember, simple joyful experiences are the best kind and keeps us mindful of the love and happiness in our lives.

Think about the last time you were truly happy and joyful. What were you doing?

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Celebrities Like Us

Finishing up the book, “My Name is Barbra,” I never thought celebrities were like us.  But after reading this book it made me realize you can have all the fame and money in the world and still have setbacks.  Here are the lessons learned from music and cinema legend, Barbra Streisand’s 60-year career.

Stand Up for Yourself

Ms. Streisand had to overcome a great deal of prejudice in her career, and not just in the beginning in the 1960’s. As a twenty-year old Broadway star to a 40-something director, she prevailed despite unfair treatment. I love how she was a rule follower, (even when there were no rules) wanting to “do the right thing.”

When she was harassed on a movie set for more than year, she tried to “toughen up” and work with the famous actor.  It wasn’t until months later when her health was at risk, the situation changed for the better.  No one stood up for her, she had to advocate for herself. Be your own support system and act. If you are in a bad situation, you need to make it better. Seek help and take action.

Take Risks

Barbra was a trailblazer from the very start. Growing up without a father since age 8, her mother was overly protective. Barbra learned early on to take risks and do what “felt” right in situations at school and her career. Call it “street smarts” or intuition, she listens to her gut.  If she feels something is calling her, like being the first female director of a major motion, she does it!  “Yentl” was her first movie of many more directorial credits.  “You’ll always regret not trying, and you always lose unless you do try!”

Keep Learning

As we get older your experiences provide wisdom and learning opportunities. Hard work was always a pillar of Barbra’s success, along with learning new aspects of show business. She went from night clubs, to Broadway to movies to behind the camera. She kept learning for herself and for own curiosity. This growth mindset keeps her open to new opportunities along the way. She found love again in her 50’s by pushing herself past her shyness in social situations.  Keep learning to stay healthy!

To sum up, the details of Barbra Streisand’s career is fascinating. But overall, she took chances, nurtured her talent, and pushed beyond current norms to build a very successful career. Strong women would love her story and might also see aspects of themselves in her life and lessons.

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Women’s History Month

March, celebrated globally as Women’s History Month, holds special significance for young women navigating the complexities of modern life. This dedicated month serves as a platform to reflect on achievements, acknowledge challenges, and amplify the voices of women. For young women, Women’s History Month is more than just March; it’s an opportunity for empowerment, inspiration, and collective progress.

Recognition of Achievements

Women’s History Month allows the average young woman to celebrate the progress of those who paved the way before her. It’s a time to honor the trailblazers who shattered glass ceilings, proving that gender should never be a barrier. From women in science and technology to leaders in various fields, these role models inspire young women. Women need to dream big and strive for excellence in their chosen paths.

Acknowledgment of Challenges

While celebrating achievements, March prompts a reflection on the challenges women continue to face today. The average young woman recognizes the importance of recognizing and addressing issues like gender inequality, workplace discrimination, and societal expectations. This awareness fuels a commitment to advocating for change and fostering environments where all women can thrive.

Amplifying Voices

Women’s History Month provides a platform for us all to have our voices heard. It’s a time to share stories, experiences, and perspectives that often go unheard. Social media campaigns, events, and discussions become avenues for women to connect and contribute to the broader conversation about equality.

Fostering Support

This dedicated month fosters a sense of solidarity among young women. It’s a reminder that they are not alone in our journeys. There’s a community of diverse voices sharing similar experiences. Through workshops and public initiatives, women come together to support and learn from each other. This uplifting, continuous action creates networks women can use beyond the month of March.

Personal Growth

Women’s History Month serves as a catalyst for personal growth and empowerment. The average young woman draws inspiration from the stories of resilience, determination, and courage shared by others before her.  Whether it’s learning new skills, pursuing further education, or taking on leadership roles, this time ignites a sense of possibility. The belief that every woman can contribute to positive change.

Reflecting All Women

This time also prompts a deeper reflection on intersectionality. Acknowledging that the experiences of women are shaped by factors such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and more. Women recognize the importance of inclusivity. We all need to strive to provide a narrative that is diverse and representative of all women continually.

Through these lenses, Women’s History Month becomes a dynamic force. We can propel young women toward empowerment, growth, and the pursuit of equality in all aspects of life. We all learn by helping others.

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Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, and what better way to express your affection than gifts from the heart? While grand gestures are wonderful, sometimes it’s the simple, thoughtful presents that leave a lasting impression. Here are three heartfelt and budget-friendly gift ideas that will surely make your Valentine’s Day special without breaking the bank.

Handwritten Love Letter

In the age of online everything, there’s something incredibly intimate about receiving a handwritten love letter. Take the time to put pen to paper and express your feelings in a heartfelt note. Share your favorite memories, the reasons you love your partner, or your hopes for the future.

A handwritten letter adds a personal touch that can’t be replicated by a text or email. Consider placing the letter in a decorative envelope or tying it with a ribbon for an extra romantic touch.

Customized Memory Jar

Create a personalized memory jar filled with cherished moments and shared experiences. Gather small pieces of paper and jot down memories, inside jokes, or reasons why you love your partner. Fold each note and place them in a decorative jar.

Your significant other can pull out a memory whenever they need a pick-me-up. It’s a sentimental gift that continually reminds both of you of the special moments you’ve shared. This gift not only reflects on your shared history but also looks forward to creating more beautiful memories together.

DIY Book

Gift your loved one a homemade coupon book filled with redeemable gestures. Include IOU’s for a homemade dinner, a movie night of their choice, or a relaxing massage. Personalize the coupons based on your partner’s preferences and the things they love.

This gift shows your commitment to spending quality time together. It also allows you to tailor the coupons to your partner’s tastes. It’s a meaningful and cost-effective way to offer your time and attention, making for a memorable Valentine’s Day.

Thoughtful and affordable gifts can be just as meaningful, if not more, than expensive ones. By putting in the effort to create something personal, you not only save money but also show your partner that your love is genuine and comes from the heart.

This Valentine’s Day, let your creativity and affection shine through these thoughtful, budget-friendly gift ideas.

For more inspiration or a travel idea for Valentine’s Day check out my travel website: KathyHusserTempe.net

 

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Weekend in New York

 

Looking for a holiday getaway or a quick trip in January?  A weekend in New York City might fill the bill as long as you dress warm!

Flights

To maximize our budget think about flying into a smaller neighboring airport such as Newark in New Jersey.  Even Long Island Airport in Islip is doable with the train station so close.  Planning your flight midweek or even on a Thursday will help with airfare and might be less crowded.

But even these days, my flights this year have all been full. Be prepared to have extra time checking in at TSA or think about signing up for Pre-Check or Clear to make security lines less of a hassle. (Some credit cards will also reimburse you for these and other services, so check with your card company.)

Sights of NYC

Be sure to secure your hotel or VRBO near a subway or train line. NYC’s mass transit system is one of the best in the United States.  Being within walking distance of Times Square, Central Park, and museums are the best “home bases” for your trip.

Plan your visits along the subway line so you don’t miss out on winter activities in New York. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center and the NYC Rockettes usually have audiences through January.  Don’t forget the standards such as The Metropolitan Museum or Museum of Modern Art for your art and history lovers. Lines might be long at MoMA, so check the website for hours and special events. At night with the Christmas lights is also a site to see and enjoy this time of year.

Food

 Dining options are everywhere in New York. From fast food pizza to fine dining, you will have your pick for any budget. If you’re only in NYC for the weekend, maybe one or two “nice” dinners at an Italian eatery. Then the next day, think about grabbing breakfast (some are still free) at your hotel or café to people watch. Asking the locals (at your activities) is one of the best ways to get reliable local restaurant and eatery recommendations.

Remember to be flexible with your travel companion and plans in general. You might want to think about extending a work trip to enjoy the sights.  More people than ever are traveling and patience is needed to navigate trips these days.

Just enjoy the memories, photos, and last-minute trip flying off to New York.  Travel is the best way to experience new places, people, and cultures…so enjoy!

For more travel inspiration check out: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Why Love Taylor and Travis

 

In the vast landscape of popular culture, certain figures captivate our attention and hold our fascination. Two who seem to effortlessly command the spotlight are Taylor Swift, the iconic singer-songwriter, and Travis Kelce, the NFL player. What is it about these two seemingly contrasting personalities that ignites our collective obsession?

Taylor Swift: The Evolution of Empowerment

Taylor Swift’s journey from country sweetheart to pop sensation has been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Swift’s ability to authentically narrate her personal experiences through music has created an intimate connection with her audience. From teenage love anthems to mature reflections on heartbreak and self-discovery, Swift’s discography resonates across generations.

Her openness about relationships, friendships, and the challenges of fame endears her to fans. She makes them feel like they’re on a journey of self-discovery alongside her.

Additionally, Swift’s skilled use of social media invites fans into her world, fostering a sense of community. Her engagement with fans, candid posts, and witty interactions contribute to the perception that she is not just a megastar.  She is also a relatable individual navigating life’s ups and downs.

Travis Kelce: Beyond the Gridiron

Travis Kelce, known for his exceptional skills on the football field, has transcended the confines of his profession. Beyond his athletic expertise, Kelce’s magnetic personality has made him a favorite in and out of the sports arena. The tight end’s charisma, evident in his touchdown celebrations and post-game interviews, sets him apart. Kelce’s authenticity shines through, showcasing a genuine and approachable side of professional athletes often overlooked by the public.

Kelce’s involvement in philanthropy and community outreach further cements his status as a well-rounded and socially conscious figure. Fans are drawn to his genuine passion for making a positive impact off the field. He creates a deeper connection beyond his achievements in football.

Art Meets Athletics

The convergence of Taylor Swift’s musical prowess and Travis Kelce’s athletic excellence may seem unexpected. However, it underscores a broader truth: our fascination often lies at the crossroads of diverse talents. Swift and Kelce represent more than their respective crafts; they embody resilience, authenticity, and the pursuit of excellence in their chosen fields.

In essence, our obsession with Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce is not merely about their talent; it’s a celebration of their humanity. Through vulnerability, relatability, and a commitment to authenticity, these icons become mirrors reflecting our own desires, struggles, and triumphs. In a social media age of curated personas, the genuine nature of Swift and Kelce becomes our beacon. They are guiding our fascination and deepening our connection to their stories with our own.

 

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Thanksgiving To Remember

As the holiday season approaches, I think of memories of past Thanksgivings. My family would spend time cooking and filling our home with laughter. Yet, this year, there is a subtle but undeniable shift in the air—a desire to change our Thanksgiving. Is it time to embrace new experiences?

When do you make those changes to your traditions? How do you create lasting memories that reflect your evolving values and priorities?

Coming Together

For me, Thanksgiving has always been about coming together with family and friends. We share a feast  (usually turkey and my cornbread stuffing) and express gratitude for the blessings in our lives.

These familiar customs have been an anchor, a comforting thread that connects us to generations past. However, as life unfolds and circumstances change, it becomes important to adapt and find new ways to celebrate and connect.

The decision to change our Thanksgiving traditions was not made lightly. It involved open and honest conversations with family, each expressing their expectations. We acknowledged that traditions should not be stagnant but should grow and evolve with us.

We collectively embraced the idea of including fresh elements that reflected our shared values. We want to enjoy the holiday and respect one another’s different ideas of togetherness that Thanksgiving represents.

Community Service

This year, we decided to organize a community service project as part of our Thanksgiving festivities. Instead of spending the entire day in the kitchen, we will dedicate time to serve others at a community home.

Our family’s aim is to extend our gratitude to the wider community and make a positive impact who need it. The joy of giving back will undoubtedly deepen our sense of gratitude and reinforce the spirit of Thanksgiving.

Core Traditions

While service is a new addition to our Thanksgiving, we remain committed to preserving the core holiday traditions. The gathering of loved ones around a table with traditional family recipes will always be at the heart of our celebration.

We will continue to savor the flavors that evoke childhood memories and ignite conversations about family history. Again, I’m referring to my Grandma’s stuffing recipe, that I make only once a year.

The idea of changing Thanksgiving traditions may initially stir mixed emotions.  As we bid farewell to familiar routines and ideas of what the holiday should, it’s time to discover something new.

However, the essence of Thanksgiving lies not in the specific rituals, but in the deep connections we have and the love we share. By embracing change, we open ourselves up to the possibility of discovering new traditions that resonate with our present selves. Will you be making any changes this year? A new host or maybe try a community project?

Ultimately, changing Thanksgiving traditions is an opportunity to deepen the bonds we share with our loved ones. Making sure to honor values and embrace the spirit of gratitude in new and meaningful ways for your current lifestyle. Here’s an invitation to create lasting memories that reflect who we are today.

As I embark on this journey of change, I am filled with excitement and a little anticipation. I know that our Thanksgiving celebration will continue to evolve and grow. Be sure whatever our plans, you foster a sense of belonging, love, and gratitude. This will remain with your family and friends long after the holiday season fades away.

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Halloween 2023

 

Halloween is just around the corner this year.  Planning the perfect costume that is safe, non-political, and easy to pull together can be a challenge in 2023. Fear not! Here are four suggestions that will spark your imagination and ensure a memorable Halloween experience for all.

Classic Movie Characters

Step into the magical world of cinema by dressing up as a beloved character from a classic movie. Whether you choose Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” Indiana Jones, or the iconic Charlie Chaplin, these costumes are timeless. With a little creativity and items from your own closet, you can recreate these characters easily.

Add some finishing touches with props like Dorothy’s ruby slippers or Indiana Jones’ fedora hat, you’re good to go! Get ready to transport yourself into movie land with these costumes

Mythical Creatures

Embrace the magic and mystique of legends by dressing up as a mythical creature. From fairies and unicorns to dragons and mermaids, the options are endless. Tap into your imagination and create a costume that brings these creatures to life. You can use colorful fabrics, sparkly accessories, and face paint to enhance the fantastical elements.

Let your creativity soar as you craft wings for a fairy or design scales for a mermaid. These enchanting costumes are sure to inspire wonder and awe, making them perfect for all ages.

Book Characters

Pay homage to the beloved characters from your favorite books by bringing them to life this Halloween. Whether it’s Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, or the mischievous Cat in the Hat. These literary icons offer a world of possibilities for creative costumes.

 

Browse your local thrift stores or search your own closet for clothing items that resemble the characters’ signature styles. Add some key accessories, such as Alice’s headband or Harry Potter’s round glasses, to complete the look. Not only will you celebrate your love for books, but you’ll inspire others to dive into the world of reading.

Taylor and Travis

Yes, I went there! Why not mix the best of both worlds and go as two of our most popular icons in 2023? Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift “look a likes” would make a perfect Halloween couple’s costume.  Football and pop music blend seamlessly and talk about easy costumes to gather.

A Kansas City football jersey and some “Swiftie” swag and you are both set for Halloween!  You could also add those personal touches of hair color, beard, microphone, and #13 for effect.  Have fun this year with our most watched couple of the fall season.

Choosing a safe, non-political, and easy-to-pull-together Halloween costume may seem like a challenge. But, these suggestions provide a perfect starting point. Whether you opt for a classic movie character, pop icons, or a beloved book character, the key is creativity people!

Remember, safety should always come first.  Also make sure your costume is comfortable, allows for easy movement, and doesn’t block your vision. And don’t forget to add your own personal flair and unique touches to make the costume truly yours.

As Halloween approaches, let your imagination run wild and create a costume that brings joy to those around you. Whether you’re trick-or-treating, attending a party, or simply celebrating at home, these ideas will help you shine.

Keeping the focus on the fun and festive spirit of Halloween is the main point.  So, unleash your inner creative spirit, gather your materials, and get ready for a Halloween filled with magic this year!