A Healthier You Has Arrived

It’s nearing the end of February, which means you’ve made it almost two months without breaking your New Year’s resolution of losing weight… right?

Let’s get real, if you’ve made it this far you deserve a round of applause, because you’ve probably lasted longer than most. But if you find yourself inching towards old habits and need an extra motivation boost, that’s exactly what this featured blog post provides. In a recent post from Allison Arden Besunder, she presents “6 Tips for Wellness in the New Year,” all of which are noteworthy and serve as great motivators.

  • Tip 1: The New York Times 30-day Wellness Challenge - Short, daily challenges you can easily incorporate and start now!
  • Tip 2: Drink water - 64 ounces a day is the goal, and try one glass in the morning and one at night with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in it.
  • Tip 3: Use an activity tracker - It inspires you to get your steps in if you haven’t hit the mark, and it reminds you to move every hour if you haven’t gotten up—an important key in wellness.
  • Tip 4: Log you habits - You may be surprised at how much and what you ingest, and when you’re mindful about what you’re eating, you’re liable to make healthier choices.
  • Tip 5: Eat – Eat small meals throughout the day with unlimited vegetables. And, revelation of revelations, begin your day with breakfast.
  • Tip 6: Be kind to yourself - It’s just day by day, improving small habits one by one, and over time you will feel better and see results.

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For the full article and details on each tip, click here.

Repurposed from Allison Arden Besunder Law Offices

Who Run the World… Girls!

Bell Family is a company built on the minds of strong and intelligent women. Our collective passion of working hard to achieve both individual goals and goals as a women run business, has allowed us to expand our network and continue to grow year after year.

A lot of our partners and guest blog writers are women entrepreneurs sharing their story of what it means to them to be a leader, and their journey to getting to the top. So, after hearing from our partners on what it means to them, our team got together to share our thoughts on what it means to us to be apart of a women run business.

“There are so many pieces to this women run business puzzle. Determination. Motivation. Comfort. People who truly care about others. Passion to do something because we really want to help. Proving we can do it the same or better than men. Understanding. Proud. Supportive. Appreciating individuality. Willing to overwork when times are tough. All of these wonderful pieces that make this women run business my purpose.”

Lindsay Bell, Founder & President

“I feel so lucky to work for an all women run business. Bell Family is a place where we support each others goals and uplift one another when we need the extra help. To me, it feels really important to be in this place right now, and to show others that a bunch of brilliant women can successfully run a business when we come together! And it also means that we have a platform to inspire and work with other women run businesses.”

Meredith Hamler, Sitter Services Manager

“Working in a women run business is empowering to me; I feel like I can share my ideas and take charge (run with things) without feeling any insecurity from others. As a team run by women, we are all supportive of our professional and personal lives, and encourage one another to be our best self. We all work hard as individuals and come together as a team to make our work shine. Here, I feel like I am my best self and take a lot of pride in it. We’re also able to share our proud, personal moments (births, races, vacations) to the team and feel appreciated, not put down. It’s always a great feeling!”

Lauren Kruk, Nanny Services Manager

“Working for a women run business is empowering. Especially in our line of business – childcare – we as women can relate to our clients more, as some of us are also mothers or have worked previously in the childcare industry. I am fortunate and proud to be part of this company.”

Courtney Bell Garvey, Sitter Services Manager

“I grew up surrounded by women with thanks to my four older sisters and Mom, so I learned early on what it’s like to have a women support system and the joys that come along with it. This company is much the same. Approachable, open, supportive, driven, focused, fun, friendly. All words that describe what it’s like being part of a women run business.”

Taylor Bell, Marketing & Social Media Consultant

We hope all of the women entrepreneurs out there continue to kick butt, support each other, and inspire more women to rise to the top!

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Let’s Hear It for Women Entrepreneurs

I was destined for success in a conventional track. I would work hard in grade school, get into a good college, and graduate with a great job in graphic design that would sustain me for decades. Yes, the product of two business owners, hailing from a long lineage of innovators, entrepreneurs, and scrappy survivors looked forward to a nice, stable, corporate career.

I spent the better part of my employment feeling like a square peg in a round hole. Not only was I an entrepreneurial female at heart in a male-dominated industry, but also, I am someone who values good work in addition to hard work.

In hopes that it would provide me with better opportunity, I exited corporate life to work in startups. During my tenure I did time as a designer, software developer, and product manager. Five positions later, I finally figured out what role I was intended to fill: business owner. Shocking, right?

My favorite part about being a business owner, aside from the obvious of setting my own hours, and taking calls #inmyCalvins, is the same thing that drove me to starting my own web development and design business. As an employee of other companies, I found myself constantly frustrated having to sacrifice quality in favor of getting things out the door rapidly. So, the greatest perk of being my own boss and running my own operation is having total autonomy to set and adhere to my own high standards, and treating each project with care and attention to detail.

When I first set out, I was a diehard member of the “Ya Ya WomenInTech Sisterhood”. I was frustrated with the way I was treated as a female in a male-dominated industry. I felt singled out and demoralized by what set me apart. I was disenchanted with being the only female manager in a room of C-level men, so I left, and sought opportunities and partnerships where I could leverage what made me different.

Women bosses, nay, women EMPLOYEES are important because we bring something different to the table; women tend to be more empathetic, pay closer attention to detail, and even problem solve differently (not necessarily better, just different) than their male counterparts. Research shows that gender diversity isn’t just good for moral, it’s good for the bottom line too! Gender diversity is a crucial ingredient when it comes to true innovation. Women and men are objectively and fundamentally different, but it’s not a bad thing. While some may refer to this as “an inability to see eye to eye”, I see it as a great opportunity for collaboration.

I practice what I preach at my business Stacks and the City. We believe in diversity, but not without the advocacy of women in tech and leadership.

I’m no stranger to being the odd person out, and while I resisted it for a long time, learning to grow and accept unconventionality as a superpower is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and my career. It’s important for us all to reward each other for what makes us different (not just in terms of gender), for the future of innovation as well as acceptance.

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Written by our guest blog partner, Rachel Shatkin, Founder of Stacks and the City

Finding Life Balance as a Mom

This week we present a guest blog writer, Jolynn Jaekel, who tells her story about becoming a mom, and her journey of balancing life and motherhood. Read her relatable and impressive story below!

Our mom was home with us while our dad went to work until I was in high school and even then, we had our grandmother to take care of us when mom went back to work. I grew up thinking that’s how it was done, but not certain that’s what I’d choose. Nothing about my path was traditional.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version… graduated college with a journalism degree; moved to Los Angeles and became an entertainment publicist; loathed LA; moved home to New Mexico; moved to New York City for a PR stint and confirmed I didn’t love PR but I did love New York; moved back to New Mexico to “figure it out;” rediscovered my love of acting; and then moved back to New York and became a professional sometimes working actor who taught fitness for survival. Whew!

So, when I finally got married and pregnant, I was hustling hard and knew no other way. BUT the second I looked into my daughter’s baby blues, everything changed. And it kept changing.

Before she arrived, I “knew” I’d be a better mommy if I was working out of the house. But then she came, and I realized I “knew” nothing. When I returned to work after my eight weeks of unpaid maternity leave, I couldn’t stand being away. I raced home as soon as I could, eliminating all non-parenting activities. It took both my husband and I plus two part time childcare providers to cover our crazy schedules with no family around for support. So, we moved to just outside of Washington, D.C., where one of my sisters lives.

We decided that initially, I would be home with our daughter. This was what I had been longing for, to be present for every single moment. At first, I reveled in the stay at home mom culture. We were busy with playdates, story time at the library, exploring every museum, farm, nature center and kids’ music performance, and finally making the crafts I’d pinned long ago. I got to be with my baby girl all the time. I was also alone with my baby girl a lot of the time. My husband’s hours had always been long, but now I was keenly aware of how long. My husband was receiving well deserved accolades at work but at home no one cheers you on for doing a great job cleaning a dirty diaper or gives you a promotion for keeping your child alive and well fed. It is the hardest job you’ll ever love. And I LOVED it, but I had no balance. I had cut myself off from everything I had known before motherhood and I began to notice.

I also began to realize it was time to go back to work because living on one salary in a city just as expensive as New York would not cut it, but where to begin and how to make it work? Fitness seemed like the most flexible place to start. I developed a mommy & me fitness program that let me teach a few classes with my daughter by my side. I eventually became a group fitness director at a local boutique gym which had on-site child care. It felt good to be back in the workforce without compromising my time with her. Then the gym eliminated child care. Time for Plan B.

We needed an additional income and I needed something of my own. I took a leap of faith with something I knew nothing about and previously had no interest in trying;  a home-based sales business. Turns out, what I had prejudged as totally wrong for me, was the perfect solution to my complicated equation. It gives me the flexibility to maintain our mommy & me adventures, while I get to flex my atrophied mental muscles AND bring in a salary. It’s given me something else I realized I desperately needed, a community of like-minded women who are courageous, smart, inspiring and supportive of my journey no matter how many twists and turns it takes.

Here’s what I know for sure. I AM happier when I have something to focus on that inspires me outside of the incredible gift of our daughter. I AM a better mommy when I have balance. I DO love my job as her mommy and am so grateful to not have to miss a moment, but I’m glad I’ve found a way to have some moments of my own too.

Jolynn Baca

Written by our guest blog partner, Jolynn Jaekel
Photo taken by Shauri Dewey

How to Avoid, “Are We There Yet?”

Holiday travel season is here, and people everywhere are wishing they could magically wake up in their desired destination without having to deal with the crowds of people. Travelling with the kiddos can be an added challenge, but what’s the holiday season without some hurdles, right?

We took to investigating some travel tips to help parents keep the kiddos entertained during both air and road travel. First up, try these ideas when it’s time for wheels up.

  • Story time: Bring a classic story to life with finger puppets! Three Little Pigs, anyone?
  • Who’s that relative: Use photos of Grandma, Grandpa and other family members to play the guessing game.
  • Origami: Fold origami paper into cranes and caterpillars. Print pages from the site Origami Club for simple-to-follow directions.
  • Arts and doodles: Don’t underestimate the power of a roll of stickers. Pro tip: for coloring, bring triangle crayons so they don’t roll off the tray. 

Keeping your feet on the ground for holiday travels? Try out these road trip games for fun entertainment!

  • Road trip bingo:  Search for road trip sights like bicycles, wind turbines and airplanes. The first player to find five in a row wins!
  • Word search road trip style:  Search for road trip-themed words using the word search puzzle template.
  • Are we there yet: Write in and number the cities you plan to pass during your route on the template cards. String the cards around the car and have the kids take down the card once you’ve conquered another city.
  • Scavenger hunt: Check off the road trip-themed list while in the backseat, at a rest stop, or while out exploring together.
  • Moving truck mural: Kids can practice their drawing skills to replicate the murals of moving trucks they spot while on the road.
  • License plate game: See how many license plates you can find during your road trip and check them off the map.

All templates for the road trip games can be found here.

Happy travels, families!

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Moms + Yoga – The Perfect Combination

We all know the cold and dreary winter days will soon be upon us, and finding motivation to get out the door gets more and more challenging. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding the right activity to give you that extra push, and for me, that activity is yoga.

Meet Allegra McBane-Sanchez, a certified yoga teacher in the Greenwich, CT area who specializes in prenatal, postpartum and mommy and me yoga, as well as vinyasa and gentle practices for moms and non-moms alike. She teaches group and private sessions at various local studios, and partnered with us to share her yoga-knowledge through the Q&A below.

Q: Yoga is a great resource for moms and soon-to-be moms to stay healthy throughout their pregnancy. What are some benefits of prenatal yoga for soon-to-be moms? 

A: Pre-natal yoga can be a highly beneficial part of pregnancy. The physical benefits of practicing poses that offer a supported way to open up, to stretch, and also to strengthen can help your body more comfortably grow for your developing baby. The mental benefits of connecting deeply to your body and to your breath can help you to more peacefully navigate pregnancy, birth and new motherhood. In prenatal yoga, we focus a lot of awareness on breath work as a tool for expectant mothers to stay present in their bodies throughout their pregnancy and as an integral tool in the labor and birth experience.

Q: Why is it important to continue to practice yoga post-birth? 

A: A postpartum yoga practice can help reconnect new moms to the changes they have experienced in their bodies through pregnancy and birth. A thoughtful postpartum yoga practice can help moms regain strength in their cores, pelvic floors, and throughout their bodies; it can reconnect them to their breath and to their own innate strength; and, it is also an opportunity for a new mom to check in with her body, mind and breath as she adjusts to the demands of new motherhood.

Q: How does mommy and me yoga help bond mom and new baby? 

A: Mommy and me yoga is one of the most rewarding classes to teach. Offering a space for moms to be with their little ones while also caring for themselves is a very beautiful thing to witness. Babies enjoy the touch of their moms as they gently massage and stretch the babies, and moms enjoy incorporating their babies into movement and poses that benefit their physical and mental health. The babies respond positively to calm breath and gentle movements – it brings them a sense of calm as well. It’s also a really nice opportunity to meet other new moms and find a community while doing something good for yourself and your baby.

Q: What are some things you’ve learned from practicing yoga? 

A: This is hard to answer because, really, yoga has changed my life. It has changed the way I view my own body, my own relationship to my child and the way I interact with others. I have had a yoga practice for nearly 20 years but it was only after I gave birth to my son, that yoga became something more than a chance to stretch and strengthen. The challenges that many new mothers face: hormonal changes that impact our mental health, physical changes that impact our ability to do what we previously did, and the profound shift when we become responsible for another person’s life, can take its toll. I turned to yoga as I navigated the transition to new motherhood and not only did it provide me with more physical strength and flexibility than I have ever had before, but the focus on breath work and the practice of being present in my body in the moment that I am experiencing has taught me how to be a more engaged and conscious parent and has taught me how to view my life through a lens of gratitude and patience.

Allegra Sanchez 

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Own Unique Artwork With Help From Sugarlift

Looking to jazz up the walls in your home? Imagine having unique and original artwork that no one else has had their hands on. Talk about a conversation topic for your next dinner party!

Our friends at Sugarlift help to find the best emerging artists to fill up those empty walls that have been staring blankly back at you. Read our Q&A below with the Sugarlift team to learn more!

Q: Finding the perfect artwork for your wall can be time-consuming and challenging. How does Sugarlift help simplify the process?

A: Finding the perfect art is actually much more complicated than it used to be. Collecting art was once done by a smaller group of connoisseurs who were spending much more on acquiring art from galleries or auction houses. The rest of us were living with framed posters (think Martini and Rossi or Dark Side of the Moon) or paintings done by our friend’s cousin.

Today, a myriad of online options bring art to a wider audience. But endlessly browsing online presents its own challenges. Our clients come to us after spending hours and hours scrolling through websites and still not finding something they love. Or they find an artist they like but don’t see any pieces that fit their space. In addition to that, framing and hanging art can be difficult if you don’t work as a part-time art-handler.

We designed Sugarlift to simplify the whole process. Clients who are looking for art are connected with a human art advisor who helps them navigate all of the options and decisions along the way through a free and fun service. We not only recommend hand-selected artists to fit your aesthetic tastes, we consult on the appropriate size, hanging, and even help with executing custom commissions. It’s our mission to help more people live with great art!

Q: What are a couple unique options for artwork in a child’s bedroom for someone looking for something a bit different?

A: The most important thing to know about the process of finding the right art is that it’s very subjective. What you like may be the opposite of someone else, and that’s okay!

When I think of children’s rooms, the go-to artwork seen across the Instagram universe often features photos of baby animals or illustrated prints. These can be fun, cute and playful, which is usually the feel people are going for in kids’ rooms—so they work!

We’ve had clients who want to replace pieces like these as their kids grow up. For example, we had a client replace baby animal photos with a large crashing wave taken by Brooklyn-based surf photographer Matthew Clark. Her nine-year-old picked it out himself! Another fun idea is creating a gallery wall of both contemporary artists and works made by the kids. Art doesn’t have to be so serious, and whose children aren’t making amazing abstract paintings?

Q: The playroom is an essential and frequently used space in a family’s home. What types of artwork would look or work best in that room?

A: This is definitely a question for someone not New York-based! In our apartment, the playroom doubles as the living room, dining room and part of the kitchen. And I thought we have a pretty comfortable apartment!

In a dedicated playroom, it’s fun to think about uplifting artwork. It’s an art and a science to determine which artwork will be energizing, but you can typically count on bright colors and dynamic compositions to achieve this goal.

Some unique options would be to include art by street artists like Eelco van den Berg or fun prints by collaborative artists such as Chiaozza or Gentleman’s Game. These artists incorporate play into the process of making the art, and why shouldn’t that idea translate into the space?

Q: Some people have a clear idea of the artwork they want and others need a lot of direction. How do you guide customers to find the perfect piece(s)?

A: This is very true. Some of our clients start without any idea of what they want. It’s our job to show them options and listen to their feedback. We don’t all have the vocabulary of an Art History PhD, so it’s important for us to listen and continue to refine the options we are showing.

What is also true is that when you find the right art for you, you don’t need an art history degree to know it. Living with art you love is an uplifting experience and should be accessible to all!

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

Holiday Survival 101: How Acupuncture Can Reduce Stress

While the holiday season can be a joyous and exciting time of the year, it can also be a time of added stress and anxiety. Holiday parties and holiday shopping all require extra time and energy, as we continue to meet the demands of our daily responsibilities. Family gatherings have also been known to ramp up stress and anxiety during the holiday period for many. Though holiday stress may feel challenging to address, there are ways to minimize its impact. Getting enough sleep, regular exercise, being mindful of nutrition and not indulging to excess, can all be helpful in keeping stress at bay.

Acupuncture can also be an effective way to relieve and reduce stress and anxiety during the holidays and throughout the year.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine that is more than 2,000 years old. Acupuncture, a natural therapy that works with the body’s own energy and healing capacity, is a noninvasive way to address many conditions, including emotional issues, and has little to no side effects. It is based on a meridian system of energy in the body. The 12 primary meridians correspond to certain organs and run throughout the body. Energy or qi (pronounced “chi” as it is called in Chinese medicine) and blood move through these meridians bringing nourishment to all aspects of the body. An individual remains healthy when qi and blood are moving freely and uninhibited. Disease such as pain and stress occurs when qi and blood become stagnant or blocked. Blockage can be a result of various reasons.

Points on these meridians have specific functions such as clearing heat, strengthening the immune system, and calming the mind. Once a diagnosis is reached, hair thin needles are inserted on specific meridians at specific points to treat a particular issue. While the needles are in place the patient has an opportunity to relax as the needles are balancing the body’s energy and unblocking areas where energy and blood have become stuck.

Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is most often associated with pain management, for which it is extremely effective, but it also treats a wide range of  non-emergency conditions, including insomnia, painful periods, fatigue, and menopause symptoms.

Some benefits of acupuncture include:

  • Supports the immune system
  • Speeds up recovery after an injury
  • Decreases muscle and joint pain
  • Improves blood flow and circulation
  • Decreases stress and anxiety by regulating the nervous system
  • Increases energy
  • Improves sleep

Acupuncture may not be the first thing that comes to mind when dealing with seasonal stress. But it has proven to be helpful in managing and reducing stress during the holiday season, and throughout the year. If you find yourself experiencing increased stress and anxiety during the holidays, acupuncture could be just what the doctor ordered!

Annora Cheng

Written by our contributing partner, Annora Cheng, L.Ac., at Internal Harmony Acupuncture in NYC

Home Life in Greenwich, Connecticut

Have you been thinking more and more about moving outside the hustle and bustle of the big city? How does Greenwich, CT sound?

In our final week of talking all things real estate, we partnered up with Margaret Vorder Bruegge and Sharon Kinney, our experts of real estate in the Greenwich, CT area (don’t worry, Bell Family has sitters in Greenwich)! Read below for our Q&A, and then find yourself browsing their listings like I did.

Q: What are some common requests that families make when looking for a home?

A: When looking for a new home, families prioritize neighborhoods, school districts and extra curricular activities available to their children. Greenwich has an abundance of sports, social and education resources for all ages. Parents who work in the city ask about access to the train and highways, and about services that make their lives manageable – references for nannys, dogwalkers and doctors and dentists.

Q: When working with a family to find a new home do they come with a clear idea what they are looking for or do you steer them to a home best suited for family?

A: Today’s buyers are smart and have a list of features that they are looking for in their new home.  They know how many bedrooms and bathrooms they want, they have an idea of what size home and property they desire. When buyers don’t know the town well, we help them pinpoint which of the many areas of Greenwich – each with its own lifestyle – meets their desired location needs, which is information not available on the internet.

Q: What are some tips you give to families looking for a new home?

A: We have each lived in Greenwich for over 30 years and raised our own families here. We share resources about schools – public and private, extracurricular sports programs and the fabulous Greenwich public parks, which include a golf course, three local beaches, marinas, a town pool, paddle and tennis courts and hiking trails.

Q: Life with kiddo’s can get hectic and spare time can be limited.  What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day.

A: We make the homebuying experience very efficient by understanding our buyers wants and needs and price range. Together we develop a finely tuned profile of the “perfect” home. We then preview homes on the market on their behalf and call them to see the right one when it becomes available. We can add the most value when our clients trust us to be their eyes, ears and advocates.

Learn more about Margi Vorder Bruegge and Sharon Kinney, and be on your way to calling Greenwich, CT home.

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Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell

 

Tips and Time Savers for Home Buyers

We continue with our real estate topic this week through a Q&A with Mary Kirby, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Learn great tips about home searching, buying, and how to make it a stress free process.

Q:  What are some important rooms for a growing household(s)? 

A:
1. Open concept den, kitchens with an island and stools
2. Bathtub
3. Bedrooms on the same floor
4. Quiet street
5. Close proximity to parks, library, eateries, school

Q: When working with a Buyer with children to find a new home, do they come to you with a clear idea on what they are looking for?

A: Generally they have an idea of specific criteria. We then pass along information to the buyer on finding the ideal town or neighborhood by asking questions such as: private school vs public school, public transportation or dependence on car, commute time to work, budget, forever home vs starter home.

Q: What are some tips you give to Buyers with children looking for a new home? 

A: Get to know the neighborhoods. Go out to lunch, stop in the stores, and visit playgrounds to get a feel of the different neighborhood vibes. A lot of times, prospective buyers end up in a completely different neighborhood than they had originally shown interest in.

Q: Life with kiddos can get hectic and spare time can be limited. What are some good ways to go about home searching if someone has little extra time in their day?

A: Finding and trusting a local market expert realtor is key. In such a fast paced market, we typically preview potential homes for our clients, face-time/take videos, send weekly updates on open houses, new listings etc. Once you have chosen your ideal neighborhoods, you should dedicate about two months towards searching for that perfect home. It is also important to be pre-approved by a mortgage lender prior to searching, so you are ready to submit an offer.

To work with Mary and the Douglas Team, click here for more information.

Mary Kirby

 

Written by our Marketing & Social Media Consultant, Taylor Bell