Raising Boys To Value Women Starts With Us

Date: February 16, 2015

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Valerie Boucher

As a mother of three boys I never really felt that concerned about the campaigns where the focus was on how to raise young girls and empower them with self esteem, how it is important to change the message that the fashion industry sends and how we need to start changing our own behaviors as mothers to set an example.

But then one day we were looking at a movie and one of my boys said that this actress was fat. As I looked at the screen I could not believe my eyes. This character was far from being fat. In fact, she was a very beautiful lady who in my eyes was just glowing.

That was a wakeup call for me. That is when I realised that being the mother of three boys I had a responsibility as well. To teach them what is real beauty. What a real woman looks like.

As they grow into young men, I decided that since they will be the ones looking at their wives in the future I need to make them see what I believe beauty is. And it needs to start at home, with me, how I was seeing myself.

If a woman feels beautiful, she glows, and it shows in every aspect of her life.

Being their mother, we are the first woman that our boys see naked. We are the first woman that they look up to. And if we don’t see ourselves as beautiful individuals, then how can we expect them to see us any differently. If we let the media, the fashion industry with their standards and the magazines everywhere influence our young men on what a woman should look like, then we are missing half of the problem. We may do all the campaigns in the world about empowering women with our real beauty; if we forget our boys then the battle will be so much harder to win!

This past summer I decided that I was going to wear a bikini at the beach with my kids for the first time in years. I avoided going swimming because I did not feel comfortable in my own skin. That was then.

I went to a bathing suit store, tried many of them, finally found one that I felt was fit for my body type and we went to the beach. When I heard my boys telling me how beautiful I looked I almost cried. Because I realised right then, that everything starts within you.

The scars of my pregnancies did not matter anymore. Because I had achieved one thing. To teach my boys that even though I did not look like the magazine covers, I was a beautiful woman. And we went to the beach every single day that we could.

And I began to talk to them in a way to make them see that the messages the media was sending were wrong. I showed them over and over the pictures of me pregnant, and I even let them see the scars on my belly as they called it their little house!

Focusing on the little girls to raise them as future powerful and confident woman is vital and necessary. But teaching our boys on how real women look, so that in the future, when they put their eyes on their wives they will make them feel beautiful too, is also important.

We as women, mothers, sisters and friends have a responsibility, and it’s to make the world see us as beautiful as we are.

Valerie Boucher: As a mother of 3 boys that are  all  into sports, hockey and soccer  i am surrounded by men. I feel it is my responsibility to help change the world and it starts at home.


Email: [email protected]


Left Behind

Date: January 30, 2015

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Jacqueline Banchero

The iPhone 6 Plus is here! I have been waiting for it. Oh, the design. It’s sleek, lighter,  slimmer and has bigger frame to see the chubby cheeks of my grandbaby, Napoleon. Who cares that I may not be able to understand 98% of what the iPhone can do to make my life quicker, better, easier on this planet.

My excitement for a new phone equates to buying a designer purse or shoes. With my hand on my heart I say, “Lola, calm down, it’s ridiculous to upgrade. You upgraded in June to an iPhone 5s because the 4s was: Old. And you are still learning how to figure out the 50+ apps that are on it.”

Change is good, change is constant, change is everything. My son, Ralph, said to me, “Mom, you’ve got to ride the waves.” I agree. However, can we slow it down a notch? This is what I’m concerned about-my elderly relatives who I shuttle each week to Rite-Aid and the dentist to get their dentures adjusted and how they get left behind. This makes me sad, more so because I’m related to them and I see myself as a much older person when I look at them.

This week my Aunt Lucy asked if I can drive her to T-Mobile to see what is wrong with her cell phone. She is 91 years old, still has all her marbles, and she knows all the avenue names and street addresses. She even knows where all the cemeteries are located. She tells me she can’t hear the ring tone on her cell, she can’t get to her message box, and she lists a few more minor fixable issues. I looked at the phone, but had no success. I soon realized my limitations when it comes to computers and cell phones. I’m not as tech savvy as I would like to be. I have yet to learn about DropBox, WhatsApp, I-message, and Twitter.

Being left behind is no picnic. I notice more than anything with the elderly is they have no one to talk to. They are isolated. In their youth, they had a phone the size of a shoe box, could dial the number, and talk to a friend. Now, if you want to talk to your children you touch a small phone screen or you text, email, or Facebook them. All of these things are hard to do if you didn’t grow up learning how to do them.

What can we do to stay connected as we grow older? What is our responsibility to our family, friends, and elders? I do know that when I’m with my older relatives, I have to pray first that God will shower me with patience. I really need it. I also ask God to give me the ears to listen. On the flip side, I realize that I also need these gifts from God when I attend my computer class every Tuesday at my local senior community center. Seated next to me at Starbucks, I overheard the instructor, Bruce, telling a senior citizen how to navigate through her email. He noticed me eavesdropping. Then, he handed me his card. Would you believe he used to work for Apple as an tutor? I took that information and his card as a sign for me to take his class so I will not be left behind.

Dear God, change is never easy. I feel for my aunts and mom who have a difficult time keeping up with our technical world. My prayer is that everyone today will be more conscious of our senior citizens. Bless us with compassion and patience. Let us be first to notice them and say hi. Let us not overlook them. Remind us each day that it won’t be long until we are the ones who need a ride to the grocery store and dentist. Amen, Lola.

 Jacqueline Banchero is a 50-something, woman of faith, married, mother of two, actor, writter, blogger, speaker, woman. She enjoys staying home with her boys raising them to be young men - now that they are on their own it’s my turn to find my passion and share it with the world. Find Lola on her blog website, Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Spyros Papaspyropoulos. Find at Flickr.

Finding Purpose In The Crisis Of My Life

Date: January 10, 2015

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Tess Vergara

My greatest strength and accomplishment in life was in raising my 2 daughters singlehandedly. I separated from their dad at first sign of physical abuse towards our then 2-year old first born, literally after I gave birth to our second. I waited a few months to recuperate from a ruptured uterus, and on my 30th birthday I asked for a divorce. I agreed to counselling but it was a trick. He had planned to kidnap the kids to Hong Kong but I had my angels guarding me.

And because I was a stay at home mom and moved with him to the US on his work visa only six months prior, when we separated I became instantly deportable, homeless and with no source of income, no friends, no family, and a single mother of two toddlers. Without financial support from their father, I happily worked two jobs to give my daughters a great life. I was an ambitious, driven and determined single mom (still am!) who worked nonstop.

Within three years I was able to buy our first home, and a few years later, while people were losing jobs, I was able to buy real estate properties to rent out that helped me afford to send my daughters to private school from kindergarten through to high school.

But all this work took a toll on me - physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I didn’t realize how exhausted and depleted I was.

A certain sadness had grown inside of me with raising the kids alone for 15 years but looking back, it was the year 2009 that called me back home. It started with an arson on Easter Sunday, the death of my boss and confidante on June 30th and a betrayal and backstabbing by a few close people I had trusted. All of these were separate incidents that happened in the one year, and it was this year that broke the camel’s back. I had been carrying on, acting strong and putting out fires when I should have been grieving and processing my emotions.

Fate intervened and I broke my knee in a ski accident the same year at Christmas. I fell on my back after a loud snap from somewhere in my body. I prayed so hard “please, Lord, not yet. I just need a little time to get my affairs in order and make final instructions”. I remember counting my blessings as I looked around at nature’s splendor while I lay immobilized on the snow, waiting for help, feeling lucky to be alive. Then I thought to myself, “geez, I should have been more dare-devilish! Would have made the injury worthwhile!”

After the accident, determined to walk on high heels again and get my strut back, I took dance lessons as my rehab and soon enough I was walking and dancing and jumping and skating again. It was a pretty good scare, it opened up my eyes and gave me the resolve to live life to the fullest.

And then I got re-married. Who knew getting married would bring back unresolved issues from yesteryears? The slow build of depression and anxiety along with years of stress and self-neglect was a guarantee for exhaustion and burn-out. It also led to a meltdown at work - one I am not proud of but a huge writing on the wall that my energy was drained and I was taken hostage by crazy monkey chatter. What’s worse, I had alienated everyone I love, including the handful of friends who’d stood by me for so many years.

My husband described me as a matchstick ready to flare up at the slightest provocation and it stopped me in my tracks. There were no other people left to point a finger at but myself. What a rude awakening!

And that’s how I got into coaching. I was my first client and its the best investment I’ve ever gifted myself. I was in a state of confusion and pain. Not physical pain but a yearning for something more. As I journeyed inward - digging, weeding, clearing antiquated beliefs that no longer served me, I experienced a lightness of being each time a layer was peeled. It felt so good and liberating. The transformational shifts I experienced through self-love and empowerment, breaking free of the box I unconsciously built for myself, is a process I love to share with others.

Now here I am reminded that we are all called to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world. We all have a unique purpose that we have forgotten. We get so caught up with life that we forget how to live, truly, deeply, lovingly, meaningfully. It is my goal and desire to facilitate that awakening - to elevate awareness, self-esteem, self-respect, self-care, self-compassion - and lead others from heartbreak to heart-and-mind fully opened, awakened to their intrinsic beauty and infinite love.

Tess Vergara is a facilitator for awakening consciousness and very passionate in assisting highly motivated individuals to recognize and bring forth their unique self – the unique gift and brilliance within so they can come alive, make quantum leaps in life, business and relationships, and set the world on fire. Tess is a Certified Master Strategy Coach and a Certified General Account and also highly trained in Strategic Intervention, Unique Self Awakening and Awakening Coaching Training. She integrates 25+ years experience in Finance and Accounting with her intuitive and masterful coaching to offer a unique, practical and strategic approach to spiritual awakening.

Image: Neal Sanche. Find at Flickr.

Following The Whispers Of My Heart Saved My Life

Date: November 30, 2014

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Olga Dossa

The day I looked at my daughter for the first time was the day I saw the face of God. I had never experienced such love and such fear at the same time.

My life long desire to become a mother came true. In that moment, I knew that I did not want to go back to my high paying corporate job. And yet - I did. When my daughter was four months old, with my heart torn in two, I went back to work. There was no choice. There was a mortgage to pay; a lifestyle that had been created and I had to suck it up.

Very soon after, I was on Prozac, dealing with postnatal depression. My soul’s desire and my physical reality were vastly different and my body was paying the price. To add to the mix, my own mother suddenly died. I had no choice but to stop and look at my life.

I was looking at my new baby girl, dreaming about what kind of life she was going to have. At the same time, I was reflecting on the life my mother had lived and what lessons I could learn from her. There I stood as the reluctant new matriarch of my family, totally unprepared for my role.

When we stand at the edge of life and death – we realise that we cannot run away anymore.

I realised that my own mother had lived her life for everyone else. She had sacrificed so much for her family. She had lived for her children and even though she had dreams of her own, she did not fulfil them. She worked as a schoolteacher, even though she wanted to be a lawyer. She felt that her small salary was more important than listening to the whispers of her heart and following her dreams. As much as we told her to quit, she did not. The stress of her job ended up cutting her life short at the age of 50. She literally died for us.

I looked at myself and I realised that I was doing the same thing. I was working in a job to pay for a life that I thought my daughter needed and I was ignoring the whispers in my heart. I was a perfectionist and I was depressed. I would die for my daughter, so deep was my love.

I realised that if I did not change my ways, my daughter was going to become a depressed perfectionist, living a life that was not hers. She was going to live a life that she thought everyone else wanted for her. It was the realisation I needed to turn things around. It was the moment I took control of my own life. I realised that the only way my daughter was going to grow up and feel peace in her heart was if I was to do it myself. I realised that it did not matter what I told her, how well I educated her or what I dreamed for her. She was going to become me - just as I had become my own mother.

And I had such big dreams for my daughter. I dreamed for her to be happy, to feel at peace within her body, to have love in her life and to feel like the contribution that she was making to the world, mattered.

Yes - these were all my unrealised dreams. I wished all of these things for myself.  I could not create any of them for her, but I could create them for me! So, I claimed my desires. I decided that I was going to create this happy, peaceful, abundant life. Hopefully it would be enough of an example for my daughter to choose a life that inspired her. What started out as a quest to be the best example to her, ended up being the transformation that saved my own life.

It brought me home to my babies, it brought me to yoga, it brought me to a new life calling and it brought me to sharing my story with you today.

Every day, I choose what kind of life I want to create. I know that my children are becoming who they are - by watching me. And it takes me to the deepest, scariest parts of myself. It is the best ride I have ever been on. This ride has uncovered so many jewels, that I would not have discovered had I not had the courage to take that first step.

Living a radiant life is my biggest responsibility and it is so worth it!

Olga Dossa is a yogini, mama and the founder of Peaceful Mothering with Olga Dossa. She is committed to supporting mothers to step into their radiance by loving themselves first and claiming their desires. Through her journey with postnatal depression, she learned that she couldn’t give her best from an empty cup. She left her high paying corporate career to pursue a life that would bring her peace and inspire her daughter to live her own greatest life. Her great love for her daughter took her on the path of yoga, ayurveda and self-love. Olga believes that when mothers love themselves first, their children will thrive.

You can find her on her website, on Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest and Twitter.

Image:Dimitris Papazimouris. Find at Flickr.