“I need to excuse myself to make a quick phone call to the hotel. I’ll be right back” I excitedly told the group. I was in paradise, aka Sicily, leading my most recent Transformational Journey to Italy. We were in the middle of one of the best days we had had yet: an extraordinary cooking class with a Countess in her majestic Palazzo when I suddenly remembered I had to call my hotel and make some arrangements. Alone in one of the rooms, I picked up my phone and saw a Facebook notification pop-up; my husband had just updated his Facebook status and it read, “The Heavens opened-up today and took back one of its sweetest Angels. Took her way too early. Did not get enough time to play with her, to see her run, or to call me uncle. I hope to one day get that chance, LOVE YOU Bethany.” My heart immediately sank; I threw the phone on the bed. I could not believe it. My baby niece, Bethany, had passed away at only 9 months old from a rare disease called “Biliary Atresia” just two days shy from her liver transplant. I went into the room where the cooking class was being held and called my colleague, Dr. Sarah Larsen. “She’s gone!” I told her and I threw myself in her arms, tears streaming down my face. For the next several hours, I cried, screamed, or simply sat in silence. My heart was broken.
Having grown up in Sicily, Italy, I learned that family was everything. I watched as all of my cousins marry their childhood sweethearts, have exquisite weddings, buy gorgeous homes and start beautiful families. Their entire lives revolved around good food and family. Every weekend, we would hang out with our close and extended families. I knew that when I grew up, I wanted the exact thing. So I attracted just that: a man with an amazing family (The Gomez) and with the same set of values I have. The Gomez family is very tight. All of our kids are growing up together and we love to hang out almost every weekend. The death of one of our own was something that none of us expected, or knew how to deal with.
This led me to ask deeper questions about death. These days I’ve been reading Alan Cohen, Leo Buscaglia and talking a lot to Dr. Sarah Larsen. As a Spiritual person, I know that our soul never dies. Alan Cohen says, “There is no death. What was never born can never die. That which is truly alive lives eternally.” Our physical bodies are simply vessels, but that is not the essence of who we truly are. We have a beautiful spirit that lives on for eternity. Cohen continues, “Death has no power over the spirit. Nothing has power over the spirit. We are spiritual beings, and no matter what seems to be happening in the physical world, who we truly are is always very much alive, whole, and in love.” The sacred book, A Course in Miracles, states “Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem. Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality, and dying in the end?…it is one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world, that all things in it are born only to die…and no one asks if a benign Creator could will this.”
Bethany lit up every room she was in. Even in her discomfort due to the disease, she was constantly laughing at everything. Her smile made everyone’s heart melt. Her energy and essence were beautiful.
And the best part of all: she is STILL all of that and more! She is now happier and healthier than ever, and we are blessed that she is now watching over all of us. We are fortunate to have the extraordinary medium, Dr. Sarah Larsen, in our life who was able to have Bethany communicate with her parents. They talked for close to two hours, and in those two hours, Bethany’s parents truly got that their child was alive more than ever. This brought them an enormous amount of peace and happiness. Recently at a wedding, I overheard a mother complain that her daughter was crying too much. I immediately thought of my sister-in-law, and how she would give anything to hear Bethany cry again. If anything, death should teach us to not take each other for granted. Any of us can go at anytime. Think of all the petty arguments we get into with our loved ones. At whom are you currently mad and not on speaking terms? What if you knew it was that person’s last day on this earth? What if this was your last day on earth? We often ignore this fact, thinking it won’t happen to us but guess what? It happens to all of us. It’s just not worth it. If anything, this experience teaches me to be kinder toward those I love. How many times are we too hard on our own kids? Yelling, screaming, belittling, judging them and loving them only conditionally (if they do what we say). What if today was the day we stopped all of that? What if today we accepted everyone as they are, truly forgave, and learned to love everyone unconditionally? American author, Leo Buscaglia, puts it beautifully, “Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time… It tells us to tell each other right now that we love each other.”
Are you ready to love – today?
Sending you lots of love & positive energy,
In the United States, we have many issues: obesity, diseases, autism, depression, cancer, etc. Most believe these issues arise due to genetics or “just because,” but what if I told you that despite genetics and “bad luck,” these could be prevented and even cured in a natural and safe way? Harmful chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis and foods are major players when it comes to our health. Yet, most Americans don’t know the basics of eating healthy and protecting their family from harmful chemicals. Although I could write an entire book on this subject alone, I will give you the very basics that will dramatically change you and your family’s life.
One of the most powerful books out there is, Natural Cures “They” Don’t want you to know About by Kevin Trudeau. Do yourself a favor and go to his extraordinary website http://www.naturalcures.com . One important chapter is, “How to Read Food Labels.” Before you purchase any food, read the label and do not buy products with the following: 1. anything you can’t pronounce 2. Monosodium Glutamate 3. Aspartame 4. High Fructose Corn Syrup 5. Hydrogenated Oil or Partially Hydrogenated Oil 6. Sugar 7. Natural & Artificial Flavors 8. Spices 9. Artificial Color 10. Palm Oil 11. Dextrose, Sucrose, Fructose 12 .Sucrulose-Splenda 13. Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour, and Enriched Bleached White Flour 14. Soy Protein Isolate.
You’ll notice that most of your current food contains these ingredients. So what should you do? Trudeau, like me, doesn’t shop at regular supermarkets and never buys brand names. The bottom line is that they’re trying to make a profit at all costs, thus use the cheapest products that aren’t good for you. Personally, I only shop at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and farmer’s markets. And even at these amazing places, I read labels and make sure I’m buying organic. Whole Foods can be quite expensive and not available in all areas. Fresh & Easy is a great alternative, but once again, you must read the labels regardless. If I had more space, I would go into detail as to why all these products are harmful, which means you have homework to do.
According to the Holistic Medical Doctor, Dr. Sarah Larsen, (www.drsarahlarsen.com) “since 1940, over 75,000 chemicals have been created and added to our food chain.”
Here is another tip that will save your life: stay away from fast food- period! Please google revolutionary Chef, Jamie Oliver, who is 100% committed to educating the U.S on healthy eating. I recently read about a campaign Oliver is heading to change McDonald’s recipes. The documentary description states that, “according to Oliver, the fatty parts of beef are “washed” in ammonium hydroxide and used in the filling of the burger. Before this process, according to the presenter, the food is deemed unfit for human consumption.” Oliver says, ““Why would any sensible human being put meat filled with ammonia in the mouths of their children?” I ask the same question. We claim we are “treating” our children by taking them to fast food chains, but how is poisoning them a “treat?”
One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see people just following the masses. When I ask people why they make certain choices, I often hear, “because that’s what everyone else does,” or “I saw it on TV,” or my favorite- “because my Doctor said so.” My question is, “who cares?” Just because a Doctor said so does not make it true. Listening to your Doctor, old wives tales, the media, or the masses can be extremely dangerous. Do the research. With the internet at our hands, there is no excuse. Educating yourself on health is one of the most important things you will ever do. Dr. Larsen says, “one small step you take today can have a massive impact in your life. Switching soda to water, fried to baked, or from bread to brown rice can add years of vitality to your life.”
My favorite health expert, Arnoux Goran’s advice is, “don’t believe what your doctor says. Their information is at least 40 years old. There is new information that doesn’t get into medical schools fast enough that can save your life.” (http://thmastery.com)
Homework and tips:
-Do you vaccinate your kids? Why? Because a doctor said so? I strongly recommend you review this website: http://vaxtruth.org
-Cleaning products: go green! It’s not only extremely bad for the environment, but the fumes are terrible for you and your baby: http://healthychild.org. Check out Jessica Alba’s line of products for your house and baby, which in my opinion are the best: https://www.honest.com
-Purchase deodorant, toiletries, and make-up, at a health store.
-Sick? Don’t run to the drug store. I go to Whole Foods and they recommend the best remedies. They are more powerful than drugs and have no side effects.
-I don’t recommend flu shots or mammograms. Instead of mammograms, (which can be dangerous) I recommend BREAST THERMOGRAPHY. More info: http://www.thebreastthermographycenter.com/
Don’t take my word for it. Do your own research; it’s so much more powerful. Hopefully I have at least sparked some interest. Start by checking every single website listed above.
Are you ready to start leading a healthy life?
Once upon a time I had a boss who owned a multi-million dollar company and worked every day from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. (yes, you read that right). All day I witnessed how hard this man worked and how he constantly pushed himself. Although he had millions, it was never enough. What was even more disturbing was his uncontrollable anger. Anything would set him off and what followed was screaming, nasty emails, or simply, the silent treatment. After I quit, I came to learn my former boss had died of a heart attack. I was very saddened, but not surprised.
If you believe that emotions and feelings such as depression, anger, resentment, and bitterness do NOT affect your health, think again. High blood pressure, ulcers, cancer, or any “dis-ease” of the body is a consequence of negative emotions. And negative emotions are consequences of our thoughts.
One of my all-time favorite books is called “Supercoach” by Michael Neill. Neill explains that “every emotion you experience is a direct response to a thought, not to the world around you. The more clearly you see that your emotions are always reactions to your thoughts, not to the world, the easier it is to simply feel them and let them go. And the gift of that insight is that you stop needing to change the world in order to change the way you feel.” We have thousands of thoughts a day. Expecting us to have only positive thoughts everyday is silly. But what do we do when a negative thought presents itself? I like to compare it to a negative, pesky neighbor knocking at your door. You can’t control the neighbor knocking at the door. But rather than just not answering the door, thus allowing the neighbor to leave, we open the door, invite the neighbor in, offer them tea and have a full-blown conversation! In other words, rather than just noticing our negative thoughts, “he doesn’t love me!”, “I will never amount to anything!” or “no one cares”, we entertain our thoughts for a long time, and so the thoughts become stories, the stories become screenplays and next thing you know, we are watching a horror movie in our head.
Neill continues by saying, “Your day doesn’t create your mood; your mood creates your day. When your mood is low, the world looks bleak; when your mood is high, you feel as if you can take over the world…The difference is, as always, not in the world, but inside you. And a deeper understanding of how it’s being created will give you a whole lot more options about what to do about it.”
How you start your day is crucial. Personally, I start my days with a long hot bath while reading inspirational and personal development books for one hour. I then pray and get into a positive, relaxed mental state. Then, I have a healthy breakfast and I am ready to start my day from that state. I do not touch my phone or computer until after that. How do I avoid getting into a negative state? First off, I don’t watch the news nor do I watch any form of violence. You might ask, does that really affect us? Absolutely 100% yes! I don’t care if you say it doesn’t, it totally does. It always baffles me to see parents cover their children’s eyes when a sex scene comes on, but when there is atrocious violence on, they don’t even flinch at their kids watching it.
Lately, I have been working on observing my thoughts more carefully. Neill says, “If you’re feeling bad, that’s like a red light warning you to disengage from whatever toxic thoughts are in your mind. You don’t have to try to stop thinking altogether; just don’t climb on the train and don’t fall for the sense of importance and sudden urgency your thoughts may seem to have.”
It wasn’t until much later that I realized it didn’t matter if my boss made 10, 20, or 600 million; the money did not make him any happier. He allowed his emotions and feelings to take over and in the end, the anger killed him. Neill states, “All happiness, well-being, and wisdom come from within. They aren’t the fruit of something you do; they’re the essence of who you are. And there’s nothing you can ask for and be given from the outside that will fill the hole you’ve been digging for yourself on the inside.”
Are you ready to be happy, now?
Sending lots of love & positive energy,
“I take thee, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; and I promise to be faithful to you until death do us part.” Or until divorce do us part. With divorce rate being close to 50% in the United States (divorcestatistics.info), these romantic wedding vows seem harder and harder to achieve. Divorce can be amicable and easy-breezy. It can also be extremely challenging, confusing and gut-wrenching. This is especially true when children are involved. However, we are adults, and as adults we make choices. We must face our choices and live with the consequences. When it comes to divorce, our children are not the ones making the choices, and yet, must live with the cost, which more-times-than-not affects them for the rest of their life.
Throughout the years, I have asked several divorcees, psychotherapists, child-experts and lawyers what is the best advice for couples with kids who are getting a divorce and here are the top three:
Don’t bad mouth your ex-spouse to your kids
You are hurt. You are angry. And you might even feel justified for feeling this way. For example, “she cheated on me” or “he took all my money” or “he was abusive.” Understood. My suggestion is definitely to go and process this with a life-coach, spiritual advisor or to whomever you are drawn. But no matter how “horrible” you believe your ex is, never, ever, ever tell your kids how awful their parent is. Think about it: your children are half you and half your ex. On a psychological level, your kids will grow up believing that half of them is bad and rotten. Besides, they love their parent and the last thing they want to hear you saying are really nasty things about someone they love.
Stop using your kids as tools to get back at your ex. Your kids have feelings and these types of actions affect them for the rest of their life. If your ex is a good parent, then be happy about that and let him/her be a good parent. Being a good parent has nothing to do with being a good partner. Perhaps s/he was awful to you, but that has nothing to do with your child. Treat the relationship between your child and your ex as sacred.
Make the transition as easy as possible for your kids
A teacher of mine once pointed out that prior to divorce kids say, “this is my house.” After divorce, kids say either “I am going to mom’s house” or “I am going to dad’s house.” Suddenly, they no longer have a house of their own. The most ideal situation I have ever seen was that the kids never moved out of their home; mom and dad would move in and out when it was their turn. Naturally, most are unable to carry out this type of arrangement. The best family law attorney I know is my dearest friend, Araceli Lerma, and she suggests that each parent work on creating the best home environment possible for their children. This does not mean the biggest or most luxurious home, but a loving environment, where meals are cooked together and children have a space, even if it’s a bookshelf or a play area, all for themselves. In that way, they will have two homes that they equally enjoy and in which they thrive. Whatever you decided to do, please keep this in mind. It really does take a toll on children.
Do not force your children to take sides. You are the one getting divorced, not them. Your children should never have to choose between mommy and daddy. Put yourself in their shoes: it’s simply not fair. Healer Achaessa James says, “let them know that they can love both of you and that your feelings won’t get hurt.”
Don’t make your children feel guilty about liking their parent’s new partner. So your kid likes their parent’s new partner, be happy about that! Yes, that new partner may even be the one for whom your spouse left you, but that has nothing to do with your child. Your child just wants peace, and quite frankly, deserves peace. They have nothing to do with your battles, so don’t involve them. If your kids want the new partners to be at special events, honor your child’s feelings.
More importantly, if you are the one with the new partner, pay very close attention to the way your new partner interacts with your child. As a life-coach, I have had many clients tell me they were abused both physically and sexually by their step-parent. They are not your child’s parent; they already have a set of parents. I am all for the step-parents providing extra love and attention, but not to act as the disciplinarian. Many parents get so excited that they have found a new partner that they quickly want to “force” the relationship onto their kids. Give your children some space and respect their feelings. Don’t force your child to spend “alone time” with their new step-parent. This is often when my clients suffered the abuse. Finally, if your new partner is nagging you about spending too much time with your child and is asking you to choose between your child and him/her, you should definitely reconsider your choice in partner.
Set an example of love and forgiveness
You say you love your kids, prove it! Actions speak louder than words. Do you want them to be healthy adults? Do you want them to enjoy a healthy loving relationship? Children learn by example. Consider this: Karen’s parents get a divorce. But her parents never fight in front of her, and never bad mouth the other parent. They are amicable and very cordial to one another. Visitations are never an issue; they are both respectful of each other’s time and understand the importance of their child spending time with both parents. Now, let’s look at Jensen’s situation. Jensen’s parents are constantly yelling at each other in front of him. The parents are repeatedly telling Jensen what a loser the other parent is. His parents are always fighting about who gets to spend what weekend with him, holidays are always a nightmare, so he starts to feel like he is in the middle of a tug of war. Now tell me, who do you think will grow up more balanced, stable and with a positive view on relationships? Despite her parents getting a divorce, Karen will see it’s possible to not be in a relationship, but to stay friends.
The most important issue here is: do you want your children to grow up with love in their hearts or anger and bitterness? Do you want them to be able to forgive quickly, or have so much resentment that they are unable to have long-lasting, healthy relationships? What are we teaching our kids? Consider the long-term effect we are having on our kids. It’s simple: the more unhappy we are as parents, the more unhappy our kids will be. Would you rather be right or happy?
Araceli Lerma’s rules when getting a divorce are simple. She calls them the 3 C’s: common sense, civility and cooperation. Araceli & I will be leading a workshop on this very subject. For more information please contact me.
Are you willing to teach by example?
Sending you lots of love and positive energy,
Connie Costa is a Writer, International Speaker & Transformational Coach