Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Music: The Comfort of the Season

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One of my favorite comforts of the holiday season is the short time it's OK to listen to Holiday music incessantly. For me with a mid-November birthday, it usually starts the week of Thanksgiving and I get four full weeks of holiday music bliss.

My relationship with Holiday music is a one of the easiest I are three reasons why:


Holiday music connects. Connects the past with the present. Connects distant people, places and things in your life. Who listens to Holiday music without getting lost in a specific holiday celebration? Good memories and sometimes bad ones are triggered by "that song." Our family is forever connected by a sweet song we heard for the first time last holiday - Toy Jackpot by Blackalicious. I know that in years to come when we hear the start of this song, laughter will ensue. This song is seared in our hearts and it will connect us wherever we are in years to come. I hate to say this but I am certain there will be a Christmas in the future where I am not going to physically be with my kids. Thanks to Blackalicious, we will feel connected in that moment. For sure.


Perhaps my favorite thing about Holiday music is how I can hear the same song sung by many different artists in a small time period and never tire. Take Winter Wonderland. Not the most emotional of songs for me but a keeper. How awesome is it to hear it by Ray Charles, Jason Mraz, Amy Grant and Jesse McCartney? Like life, I love how everyone brings their own interpretation to the same lyrics. So while it's the same song, it is very different depending on who's crooning at the moment. And that is one beauty of our relationships with others. We must not insist that they are similar, we must embrace how they are different and enjoy them. Love that.


Tell me you don't get this one. Holiday music everyday of the year would NOT make my holidays special. Now, as we are all prepping to reconnect with family and others in our lives we don't see very often - this is a huge thought. Enjoy the season because it is just that. A season. Not meant to be indulged in all year round. Perhaps this time of year is especially tough because of what some of the music connects you to in your past. Gear yourself up to look at it as temporal... a few weeks... a few hours. Don't get caught up in how annoying the time is but embrace the season and use it as a spring board into your fabulous new year.

Enjoy the holidays and all the comforts they bring. And here's hoping when you fire up the Holiday music, you'll be reminded of what it's meant to you.

Comfort is the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday gift list, so be sure to take advantage of Tempur-Pedic's Buy 2, get 1 free pillow offer! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What is Your Relationship With Success?

Kicking off the new decade of my life has provided yet another opportunity to reflect. Much is written about success, leadership, goals and motivation. Not a day passes that I don't find a post, or many, written on any of those topics. Instead of just spouting off a few lines about success, I decided to take a look at how our relationship with success really sets the tone for our life.

Friend or Foe

Would you call success a friend? Or would you call it the elusive non-starter in your life? Your experience with success starts with what you actually think about success. I see success as a companion. Not always in the forefront but always in view. Success is not some big win for me but rather a succession of small wins. Consistently.

By Design or By Accident

This one is big. I always lay out what my best case scenario would be. That is my vision of success. It does not always play out but having the vision makes it easy for me to recognize when it actually shows up. Clearly, there are cases when the timing is right and things just happen. I know that. However, your preparation for that moment matters when the iron strikes. So success still has to be at least envisioned to allow it to manifest at the opportune moment.

For Me or For Others

Another biggie. It is quite easy to look at others and compare your success level to theirs. I personally never do this. Success looks different for everyone. I rejoice when others have success in their endeavors. It is motivation for me to clamp down and achieve mine. It is never an option to see success only for others. Success is for me. I say it. I live it. Often times before it has arrived. I call it my "Michael James Jordan Rule". I play success over and over in my mind until it just starts to happen in real life.

My relationship with success is solid. We don't have issues - we just roll together and grow stronger as the years go by. What about you? How's your relationship with success? If not where you want it, how can you change that?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Equipping Kids For A Good Relationship With Money

This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at

At any given moment the wallets you see here of 10 year old Emma and 6 year old Evan, are full of cash bursting to be spent by its owner. Most often, cool heads prevail and said wallet retains most of its contents. But there are moments when desire, lack of reason and plain ole bad decision making wins and causes a Barreto kid to part ways with hard earned funds. And so begins our tale.

Many of us have a complicated relationships with money. And it starts as kids. I certainly did. We never seemed to have enough and so when I did have it - I blew it.  Things changed slightly when I started working but not much. To be honest, it wasn't until my cherubs arrived 10 years ago that my relationship with money changed drastically. It was then I made a conscience decision to teach them money matters early in life. 

Here are three things my kids know about money that most kids their age don't know:

1.  Time is money

Not literally,  but my kids fully understand that time spent at work gives us money to do our life. And as an entrepreneur starting several businesses, my kids are uber aware of what Mommy's time is worth. You may think that is crash but it happens to help with our choices of how we spend our time together. The kids understand that Mommy taking a full day to hang with them means a lot and is a sacrifice financially. And they make the connection to their allowances. They each get a set amount every two weeks in direct proportion to their extra contribution around the house. That value creeps in as we hit the dollar store or when someone wants to spend money on "The Claw". They remember what it took to earn the money and suddenly the desires change.

2.   Cash is king

Whenever we embark on a goal, the whole family is in on the savings toward it. Our kids know that cash is king with us. They understand the idea clearly of spending what you actually have versus the alternative. For example, we are going to Spain this Christmas and started saving for it in early 2010. Each month, we have watched together as our savings climbed toward our goal. It has been a fun exercise. We started saving for Emma's quincinera that we plan to host in Mexico when she is 15. Yeah, 5 years and 8 months before the event we started stashing cash for the big party teaching our kids a valuable lesson along the way.

3.  Generosity with money rules

My kids understand that they are fortunate and are eager to share with people who are not. I cannot tell you how many times my kids see a need that they can fill with their money. Interesting enough, we don't talk a lot about giving money away. We just do it often when a need arises and our kids have picked that up. Donating money to causes you care about is one of the most rewarding feelings one can have and it is amplified when you teach that value to kids. 

While these three tips won't make kids financial geniuses, it will help them start a lifelong positive relationship with money and it's place in their lives.

I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about BMO Harris Bank, visit their website

Friday, November 4, 2011

Don't Get Lost On The Way To Your Goals

It's November already.

I feel like the year just started and I remember putting together the goals of 2011 as if it were yesterday.  Now as this year winds down and I'm bearing down on my 40th birthday, I am reminded of how close I am to my goals mainly because of the temptation to give up.

Yep you heard me.

It's that complicated relationship we have with the things we want in our lives. Most of us don't have such a tidy illustration as above when it comes to goals in our lives. We usually get lost some where in between "Stick To It" and "Reach Goal"

This is particularly true if your goal is not simple. For example - tomorrow I am running my second 5K race and I've found this whole running thing fascinating. How simple is it to say you're going to run a race and then plot out a training and go do it.

Super simple - I'm doing again exactly two months to the day since the first race I've run as an adult. I'm still not a runner but how cool is it that I can barge in on this sport simply by setting a goal and having minimal discipline and then executing? Very and I'm certain there will be many more races in my future - most likely 5Ks because I don't like running but I love the thrill of finishing a race. The cheering. The way my body creeks.


Starting a business? Now that's complex. I've been on this journey for a few years now and finally have found some traction but have yet to land THE contract, THE partnership to free me from my "real job." The temptation is very real to give up.

The lost sleep pulling together projects in every spare moment.

The look on my kids face when I steal a call or check the email.

The exasperated looks from my husband as I pound away at this post.

It's enough to make a girl open the classifieds, look for a job and call it a day.

But not this girl. The problem with me now is I've tasted what its like to do your life's work. The thing God uniquely wired me to do. AND people have paid me GOOD MONEY to do it.

There is NO WAY I'm giving up now. And I encourage you all to do the same - dig deep. Remember that our lives come and go in seasons and the tough season before the light shines is the season you must push through. You must keep your focus on what you're working towards - not what you see today.

I am in the thick of the "Stick To It" season and not giving up until the hand tips over into "Reach Goal."