Using Manners

The Importance of Good Manners
We all learn from a young age that good manners are important. Simple things like saying “please” and “thank you” become second nature to most of us as we grow up. The Golden Rule and other similar behaviors are drilled into our heads both at school and at home. What doesn’t always make sense is exactly why manners are important. There are situations where certain words or actions are just expected. Growing up, Nanny drummed into us our manners…that it was important to respect one’s elders, look people in the eye when talking to them, keep our elbows off the dinner table… and so many others. However, we never necessarily understood why until we got older. We go through the motions, but what benefits do those motions actually provide?

I was very thankful for my first bike.
In 2020, good manners for kids, and especially adults, have never been more important. The COVID-19 virus crisis is causing continued stress for everyone. That crisis makes it easy for all of us to forget sometimes how a kind word or action can completely change the atmosphere of a situation. Even when there is no crisis, many standard situations can quickly go awry when we don’t use good manners and common courtesy. So, what makes good manners so important?
Good Manners are Socially Necessary
None of us are likely to intentionally surround ourselves with rude people. There is a reason for that. As humans, we are social creatures. We crave positive interactions with friends, family members, and even total strangers. Social cues are all around us, whether they are positive or negative. We all learn how to use them, as well as interpret them. Human beings also have certain ingrained chemical responses to them. For example, science has proven that the use of bad manners triggers pain receptors in the brains of people on the receiving end of rude actions or words. None of us wants to be in pain, so that is all the more reason to avoid inflicting unnecessary pain on those around us. You do this by using good manners as much as possible. Good manners are socially necessary to make day-to-day activities easier in all sorts of environments, including:

  • Home
  • School
  • Work
  • Dates
  • Job Interviews
  • Dealing Effectively with Tenants or Landlords
  • Getting Along with Neighbors

Good Manners are Social Building Blocks for Kids
Our kids are born as clean slates. They don’t know how to be intentionally rude. Children also don’t know how to be intentionally nice. Yet, even before they can talk, our kids can learn behaviors. For example, they can learn that smiling is a positive thing. As they grow, they expand on those concepts, such as when they first learn to share their toys.
Kids are constantly learning from the world around them. They are like sponges, which is often the problem. Kids can learn what we intentionally teach them, but they also keep learning, even when we don’t want them to. That makes practicing good manners as adults as important as teaching them to our kids. Poor habits learned early are all the more difficult to break, whether they are intentionally taught or not. They can negatively affect our children in social situations for years. The use of bad manners can even seep into their adult lives.
Using Good Manners Because “You Never Know”
We have all heard the saying “you never know,” and it applies to the use of good manners in multiple ways. For instance, there is no way to know what kind of day or week another person is having and what impact your words and actions will have on them. A simple thing like saying “thank you” might change their entire disposition. There is also no way to know when we might cross paths with certain people again. This is why leaving good impressions on those around us by implementing good manners is so important. If we practice good manners, it might not make the whole world a brighter place, but it could certainly make someone’s day a whole lot brighter.
So go ahead and say “please” and “thank you.” Hold the door open for someone. Acknowledge your appreciation for a kind gesture, word, or gift.
Ultimately, we are the primary beneficiaries of our own good manners.
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How to Discuss Coronavirus with Your Children

Discussing Coronavirus with your Child

At this point your child has heard about Coronavirus and is curious. What do we tell him or her? How much should we tell them? Most experts agree that discussing the Covid-19 virus and why precautions must be taken is important, and that telling your children nothing can be harmful. Without context, children who are witnessing the heightened concern and worry, the increased stockpiling of food, the inability to go to soccer games, dance classes, or school may become anxious, aggressive, or fearful. This can have long term implications. So how do we approach such a heavy topic, especially when the news about Coronavirus keeps changing on a daily basis? Here are a few ways, depending on the age of your child, to approach it.

The First Question to Ask

For older children, it is appropriate to ask your child if they’ve heard people talking about the coronavirus. Specifically, what have they heard? This gives you an idea of what your what they may know, and it gives you a starting point for the discussion. It also lets you know if they’ve heard the wrong information (and there is plenty of it out there.) It’s important not to force the conversation. If your child wants to spend time talking about it, fine. Otherwise, if they do not seem interested, or don’t ask many questions, that’s fine too. Some children like to think about the situation, and then may return later to discuss it with you or to ask follow up questions.

What Your Child Needs to Know MOST

To be a child is to be at the mercy of the adult world most of the time. Seeing a caregiver or adult worried or fearful makes a child afraid for their own safety. In your discussions, what your child needs to know most is that you are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe. If you are fearful and worried, save your meltdowns for behind closed doors and out of earshot of your child. When you discuss Covid-19 with them, speak calmly and honestly. When my children ask a question that I do not know the answer to, I tell them so. I take the moment as a teachable opportunity and we research the question together. A great place to get the latest up to date information is directly from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Empower Your Children

Your child wants to be part of the process, especially helping to keep the family safe. Give them an age-appropriate task, including washing hands. Older children should be encouraged to remain home as much as possible, even if your area has not enacted a shelter in place order. Impress on your older children and teens that this is a very serious illness and any of the heartless social media challenges that are currently cropping up are not only dangerous but could potentially land them in trouble with law enforcement.

When your children watch the news about the Coronavirus make sure you are there to place the stories in context for them. Listening to the death count reports are terrifying for all of us but especially so for very young children, so carefully consider your decision to allow them to watch these reports. Conversely, your older children may be getting conflicting, confusing, or outright wrong information from a variety of sources. Make sure that you check in with them often to clear up any misinformation they may have read or watched. Encourage your children to use video conferencing, SKYPE or Zoom, to check in with older relatives they may worry about. Explain that your family pet cannot catch it or transmit it.

Explain What is Being Done

Children need to know that their leaders, both in their local, state, and federal government, are working on ending the crisis. While children may not need to know all the intricate details, it is important to conclude most discussions about the coronavirus on a positive note. Share the fact that the country’s best scientists and doctors are working on a cure and that with everyone’s cooperation, it can be over shortly. While being confined may be inconvenient, it also offers you additional contact with your children, which is never a bad thing. Embrace some of the changes, speak clearly and plainly with your children, and keep the communication between you available. They may astonish you with their own insight and thoughts about the current situation. Mine certainly have, and they continue to do so.

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Seeing and Preserving Through Photography

Life is full of memorable moments — and a lot of us like to take pictures or videos of those times. Whether I have documented milestones like my two boys first steps or moments with my late father, I am so grateful to have them to look at. It’s critical to build memories that tell the story of your life so you can remember all those precious points in the years to come. And that’s where photography plays an important role in my family.

The Role of Photography in Documenting Your Life

In today’s world, we all have the power to take photos and create videos at our fingertips thanks to our smart phones. But what you might not realize when you’re taking pictures or videos is that you’re building a vast treasure trove of memories — not only for yourself, but also for your family.

According to Psychology Today, reviewing family photographs and videos can serve as a framework that facilitates conversations about the past with your kids. For example, you can show them photos of a grandparent who has passed away or share images of the home you

lived in when you were young. This gives your memories of the past a boost — plus, it can strengthen your relationship with your kids. And of course, seeing old pictures of loved ones who have passed away can bring you great solace.

That’s also why it’s just as important to take photos now that you can look at in the years to come. Just imagine how easy it will be to recall all the good times you had when you were in college, or all the precious moments you enjoyed when your children were growing up. Or how about the fun times you had on your vacations?

Gretchen Rubin writing for HuffPost advises that photos and videos of your everyday life can act as a diary. It might not be so interesting for somebody else, but for you, it can be a wonderful thing to document the little things that bring you joy in your day — whether it’s your dog frolicking in the park or a cappuccino at your favorite coffee shop.

At the same time, you can also use photography to document your hobbies. For example, if you enjoy baking, you can collect images of baked goods on Pinterest and add photographs of your own creations. Or if you’re an avid runner, you can take photographs of the races you’ve run or make videos of when you cross the finish line.

Creating Authentic Images

One of the most important things to remember about seeing and preserving through photography is that you don’t always have to look perfect in every image. We’re all unique, and although we’re inundated by images of celebrities and influencers, it’s critical to find the beauty in your own life. So, to make sure your images and videos are as authentic as they can be, try to really connect with the people and environment around you — instead of focusing solely on the camera — when you’re taking pictures.


Tips for Organizing Your Photos and Videos

Of course, taking lots of photos and videos is no use if you don’t know how to find the ones you want to see. Keep the following tips in mind.

  • Digitize analog images. If you have a collection of old printed photos stored away somewhere, it’s best to digitize them before they deteriorate. Lifewire advises scanning them to your computer, or simply taking photographs of them with your phone or tablet.
  • Save your photos and videos to the cloud. If you have all of your photos on your phone, tablet or computer, they’re vulnerable to hardware glitches. That means you could lose them all in a split second. To avoid this, upload your images and video files to the cloud. Once that’s done, you can either keep the originals on your device so you have two copies — or you can delete them to free up memory.
  • Make your images searchable. Now you have a cloud backup of your photos and videos, it’s time to make sure you can find them when you want to. You can do this by adding specific tags in each file’s metadata, as USA Today reports. For example, for photos of vacations, you can add something like “Paris, 2020.” Then later, when you want to see them again, all you have to do is type in that key phrase.

Remember to Be in the Moment

Regardless of the power of photos and videos to create memories, it’s also important to be in the moment. So instead of always seeing everything through a lens, take some time every now and then to simply focus on your loved ones and the world around you. Because doing so opens the door for more spontaneity — and that in itself can lead to even more memorable moments.

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Learn to Kick Ass and Feel Better About Yourself

The New Year is here, and that means it’s time for millions of women to make resolutions aimed at helping them lead better, happier, more fulfilling lives in the year ahead. New Year’s resolutions often focus on purely practical ambitions like saving money or losing extra pounds. But for me, like many other women, I have found that feeling better about myself starts with taking more control over my life and well-being – which helps me feel more confident and more self-assured.

For decades, women have turned to self-defense classes to help them lead safer lives. The good news I have learned is that it turns out self-defense classes can help you in other ways, as well.

Physical benefits — and more

Certainly, self-defense classes can help women develop skills and techniques to ward off attackers, and many women take self-defense classes for that reason alone. In 2018, nearly 653,000 women were victims of violent assaults in the U.S. — about eight times the number of men who were victims of violence in the U.S. in the same period. According to data from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National network (RAINN), roughly one out of every six women will be a victim of sexual assault during her lifetime. Learning self-defense techniques is a smart way to increase personal safety while discovering simple, effective ways to prevent violent attacks in all sorts of settings.

But self-defense classes have given me and many other women far more than just physical techniques. They have given us an air of confidence and capability that leaves us feeling safer, more empowered and confident, and, as a result, we are far less likely to be attacked. This can prevent violent confrontations before they start.  One study shows women who’ve had self-defense training are angrier and far less scared at the outset of an aggressive confrontation than they would’ve been before the training, and that because they appear stronger and more confident, they are far less prone to being victimized. These women also found that in real-world situations their training helped prevent escalation during the early stages of physical confrontations.

Types of self-defense: Which one is best?

When it comes to selecting self-defense training, the first step is deciding which type of training is right for helping you reach your goals. You’ve got plenty of options.


Aikido is unique in that it teaches students how to use the attacker’s own force or strength against him. For women, that means they don’t have to rely on being stronger than their attacker in order to successfully defend themselves. Aikido tends to rely a lot on throwing and “locking” positions that help destabilize an attacker, giving women the opportunity they need to get away.

Krav Maga

Krav Maga is used by the Israeli Defense Forces, focusing on defense techniques against both armed and unarmed attackers. One of the biggest benefits of Krav Maga is that it teaches students to reason, think and function in situations of extreme stress. Krav Maga students learn how to use their arms, knees and other body parts as weapons to ward off attackers.

Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do focuses on using the lower body for defense through a series of special kicks and other moves. Since men tend to have greater upper body strength than women, Tae Kwon Do’s focus on use of the legs and feet can help women gain an edge during a physical assault.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The Brazilian version of the classical Japanese martial art Jiu Jitsu uses hand-to-hand grappling, which can be very useful for a woman handling a frontal attack. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu places much emphasis on ground-fighting techniques, which can help women defend themselves when they’re being held down or pinned under an attacker.

Finding a good trainer

There are many options when it comes to selecting self-defense classes, and to get the most benefits it’s important to make sure you choose the right trainer. You can ask friends and coworkers for recommendations and looking at online reviews can also sometimes be helpful – but it’s also very important to look at a trainer’s credentials and experience, since those two factors will have a huge impact on your results. Ideally, you want a trainer with plenty of experience in multiple techniques so you have options when it comes to selecting self-defense disciplines.

You also want a location that’s easy to get to and offers class times that are convenient for your schedule. After all, when you’re really busy, it’s all too easy to skip a class if it seems too far or if the times just don’t work with your other obligations. You might also want to consider the makeup of the class; some women prefer a class that’s all women, while others find working with male students helps them prepare better for real-world confrontations.

Put yourself first in 2020

For me, and I imagine for you as well, it’s not always easy to put yourself first, especially when your life is jam-packed with other obligations. But the fact is, taking care of yourself should always be a priority — not just at New Year’s, but throughout the year. When you make your own self-care a priority, you put yourself in a much better position to take care of other responsibilities too. Self-defense classes are a great way to feel and be better, physically, emotionally and socially. Stop making excuses. Make 2020 the year of caring for you. Sign up for a self-defense class and experience the benefits yourself.

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What is The Mid-Atlantic Accent?

The Mid-Atlantic Accent: Is That a Real Thing?  

Most people recognize an English or Scottish accent without too much prompting. A southern drawl from U.S. states such as Georgia or Alabama stands out as much as a Scottish burr. What about the Mid-Atlantic accent? It is one you might pass off as English or American. Is the Mid-Atlantic accent a real thing, though, and if so, what should you know about it?

It is a thing.

Not only is it real, but it is also apparently the way we talk in my family. My brother found an article identifying ‘The Mid-Atlantic Accent’, so we decided to dig in and learn more about it. Mid-Atlantic or transatlantic is a cultivated accent that blends different types into one. That makes sense when you consider that my siblings and I grew up in the Mediterranean, Europe, South Africa, and the United States.

The way we speak and pronounce words comes from a variety of cultures and regional accents. Our speech patterns do not represent any one area but a blend of many. If someone calls you a mate, you think Australian. If they say “cheers,” for thank you, you probably think British. But those with a Mid-Atlantic accent speak in a vernacular that does not represent one distinct place, but many.

Is the Mid-Atlantic Accent New?

Not really. It has been around for generations but presented in different ways. For example, it is sometimes called a fake British accent because it resembles the affected accents found in the old cinema.

Classic actors famous in the Golden Age of Hollywood were taught to speak this way to make their diction clearer. In fact, well-known vocal coach Edith Skinner wrote about the technique in her theatrical training textbook “Speak with Distinction.” Back then, it wasn’t an accent, really, more of a dialect designed to clarify speech so audiences could clearly understand each word. The technology wasn’t great, so these steps were taken to make movies more exciting and relatable.

You can see it is some modern-day performances, too, usually associated with evil or crazy. Mark Hamill supposedly applied a Mid-Atlantic accent to his performances as The Joker from Batman fame, for example.

A Mid-Atlantic accent is also associated with the American upper class in the early 1900s. Franklin D. Roosevelt is one famous historical figure that spoke with this accent. They often spend time in both England and the U.S., so it developed naturally as was a sign of social status.

What Characterizes the Mid-Atlantic Accent?

It’s a hybrid that combines attributes of both British and American accents. There are three main characteristics:

  • Dropped “r’s” so mother sounds like “mothah”
  • Hard and sharp “t’s”
  • Soft British vowels stretched out similar to what you hear from someone with a Boston accent

The result is a way of speaking that is somewhat clipped and sometimes nasal. It sounds a bit British but slightly American at the same time.

What Makes the Mid-Atlantic Accent So Interesting?

Most accents evolve among English speakers who pass their word pronunciations from generation to generation. But the Mid-Atlantic accent was made up or, more precisely, engineered. People learned how to speak Mid-Atlantic English with a specific purpose in mind. It gives Americans a chance to show they are upper class. But this accent did not develop naturally as part of the evolution of a culture.

Think of it this way. Certain flowers exist in nature. If you walk in a field, you can pick them and know they are authentic and natural. Others are hybrids made by man. Someone in a lab wants to see what will happen if they marry a rose with a mum, so they engineer the pairing and resulting offspring. That hybrid will pass from generation but didn’t evolve naturally.

A Mid-Atlantic accent is similar. It is a hybrid. It didn’t develop naturally through generation after generation adding its own touches to the way its ancestors spoke. Instead, it started as something engineered. It may also develop almost naturally for people who experience many different cultures during their formative years, like my siblings and I did.

Further Resources:

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A Bamboo Grove In Kyoto Is Ideal For Family Outings

Growing Memories with Kids: A Japanese Bamboo Forest  

Your Kids Will Love Bamboo

Many children become fussy or have trouble winding down from a long day of playing or travel; I know mine did! Some people use soothing toys and videos depicting serene forests as a tool for calming down hyped-up kids. While pictures and imagery are compelling to young minds in need of serenity, they can’t hold a candle to the real thing. Japan is known for heavenly botanical vistas, I sometimes find some of the most breathtaking also come from something more humble than towering mountains or vast lakes.

To-Do: Bamboo

One of our favorite family vacation memories is of Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture. It holds a great, green secret that towers dozens of feet in the air, waiting for both discovery and immersion by little eyes and minds. A family outing to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is ideal for children of all ages – even those too young to walk through it themselves. Lush, towering bamboo offers pleasant shade and a tranquil, immersive experience ideal for dreamy little imaginations. Studded with mountain temples, nearby shopping, and the Iwatayama Monkey Park, an attraction we were particularly excited to see, where visitors can hand-feed monkeys fruit and peanuts in a specially-designated area, the bamboo grove makes an excellent starting point for the day. The hike across the bridge and the climb up the mountain required a little exertion, but our overall consensus is that the views were decidedly worth it.

Decide What Works for Your Family

We parents know what our children can and can’t handle on long outings, so it’s worth weighing if your children are the right age to visit Arashiyama. While the bamboo grove itself is relatively short, children without a stroller should wear supportive shoes and be able to walk moderate-to-long distances to ensure an easy afternoon. A stroll across the adjacent Tsutenkyo Bridge brings your family from the bamboo grove over to the monkey park, but you should be prepared for a hike of 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the crowds.

Decide How You’ll Travel

Like many scenic areas and tourist hot spots in Japan, the Arashiyama grove and surrounding points of interest are accessible by train and the Japan Rail Pass. Taking this route into the area can be a lengthy trip. When my brothers and I traveled on the bullet train in the 70’s we met three very impressive and extremely friendly sumo wrestlers who made the trip very entertaining. Or you can rent a car and drive to the Arashiyama grove. While driving in takes a bit more effort than hopping on the train, it also affords more flexibility in scheduling arrival and departure. Arriving early – between 7 and 7:30 am – is an absolute must if stunning pictures are a priority. Around 8:30 am, crowds begin to mass, and I found it a bit difficult to get shots of us and the bamboo without other people in the background.

A fun tourist area with scenic views, interesting activities for children and adults alike, and a beautiful riverside location awaits at the Arashiyama grove. Bamboo, while a humble and incredibly useful plant, becomes a true work of art in this towering grove of green. Ideal for a refreshing dose of nature and an undeniably Japanese experience, our visit here – one in which plenty of spectacular pictures were taken – was a trip that my children will remember fondly all their lives.

Nabila Khashoggi travels extensively with her own children, believing it broadens their horizons, fosters tolerance and understanding, and ensures a global perspective of the planet.

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Travelling with Children

Traveling with Children: How to Make it Fun

For many parents, traveling with children is difficult, especially if they are flying as part of their trip. Some parents choose to leave their children with another family member so they can go on vacation. This is certainly a valid option for some trips, but there are many benefits to taking your child with you on vacation. Not only is it a good bonding experience for your family, but traveling with your children, especially younger ones, has been shown to positively impact their intelligence. I know from my own personal experience, that flight time often offers up a time to communicate in an unhurried way. My phone is switched off, work gets put on hold, and my son gets my undivided attention for the duration of the flight. Our flight time becomes quality family time.

While there are many good reasons to travel with your kids, it is important you prepare in advance to ensure both your travel and vacation are a fun and positive experience for your family.

Bring Activities for the Plane
The hardest part about traveling with your child is keeping him, or her entertained on the plane. Nobody wants to be the parent responsible for a loud and restless child. Even if you are going on a relatively short flight, you must bring something to keep your child entertained. Keep in mind you want activities not only for the flight itself but also for the time you’ll spend in the airport. When you are traveling with children, you typically want to arrive early at the airport. Factor in wait and boarding time, and you may end up in the airport for an extra hour or two on top of however long your flight is. It is easy for children to get bored during this wait time, which can make them even more irritable once the flight begins. Other children may find the process stressful, so having activities helps to distract them. When my children were younger one tried and true activity that kept them distracted from the boredom of standing in queues at the airport was a good old-fashioned game of I Spy. And I always had a deck of cards in my purse for a few rounds of Snap or Go-Fish while we were sitting at the departure gate.

You want to bring an activity to occupy your child without disturbing any passengers nearby. Fortunately, this is much easier thanks to the number of electronic toys available. Consider bringing an iPod, Kindle, handheld videogame console, or a portable DVD player. Make sure to bring headphones so your child does not bother other passengers. Also, make sure the devices have enough battery life remaining before you board the plane. My youngest son and I enjoy trivia games. There are many free age-appropriate apps available to download, and it’s an activity both you and your child can play together.

Non-Electronic Options

Not all children want to play with electronic toys. Non-electronic options are just as viable as electronic devices. Coloring books are an excellent way of keeping artistic children occupied during a flight. Puzzle books and sticker books are also great options. Some children are comforted by having their favorite stuffed animal accompany them on the flight as well. Older children can also bring a book to help pass the time. The key to bringing a non-electronic toy is simplicity. You do not want to pack anything that is too large or overly complex.

Activities Are Not Limited to the Plane

For many parents, the biggest challenge of vacationing with a child comes in the evening. Adults have a much easier time decompressing in a hotel. Children are usually much more energetic, especially if it is their first time traveling. While it is good they are so excited about the trip, it can be stressful when you are all cooped up together and trying to rest. Even if you are lucky enough to have a child who is completely fine on flights, or you avoid flights altogether on your trip, make sure to pack a few activities to keep your child entertained during the slower moments of your trip. An interesting book you can read together is perfect for winding down the energy level.

Do Not Forget Snacks

Another useful tip both for traveling and your actual vacation is to bring snacks. Many children can go from being perfectly well behaved into having a temper tantrum if they are hungry. I’m not immune to becoming a little tetchy myself when I’m hungry! While you are traveling you may be able to stop by a restaurant or a store to get something to eat, but this is not always an option and can sometimes bleed into your vacation spending funds. Instead, carry small snacks with you. Crackers, fruit, and granola bars are all excellent options. If you are going on a longer trip, consider bringing a water bottle or juice box as well. Make sure you pack moist towelettes or compact hand-towels for cleanup.

Keep an Eye for Family or Children Days

A big concern for parents is finding vacation activities good for both adults and children. When you are planning your trip, try to prioritize locations that have family or children days. This is a great choice if you are planning a museum trip. Many children have a hard time in a traditional museum. Lots of museums counter this by having special exhibits specifically for children. These exhibits often feature hands-on activities to keep even the most energetic children entertained. These locations often have discounts available as well, usually in the form of reduced prices, but sometimes children even get in for free.

Factor in the Wait Times

One of the quintessential family vacation destinations are theme parks. There is no shortage of rides and games to keep your child entertained, but depending on when you are traveling, these activities may also have long wait times. For some children, this is not an issue. Others have a harder time waiting in line, especially if they are excited about going on their favorite ride. Some parks have special passes available where you go in a VIP line with minimal wait times. However, these passes can be expensive. If you know your child has a hard time with long lines, try and schedule your vacation outside of the usual vacation seasons to reduce the number of visitors at the park.

Like the plane or hotel room, you may be able to keep your child entertained with another activity while you wait in line. However, this is usually harder since you do not want to carry a bunch of toys with you into a park, and a line is just not an appropriate spot for certain toys.

Flexibility is Key

It can be frustrating, but when you travel with children you do not want to stick to a rigid schedule. With younger children especially, it is important to have a flexible schedule. Your child may end up enjoying the first location you visit and get upset if you try and go anywhere else. The opposite can happen as well, where your child is unhappy with a destination and wants to go someplace else. Bad moods can carry over for the rest of the day and put a damper on any other activities you have planned. It is strongly encouraged to plan out multiple locations or activities for each day, but do not be afraid to speed through or even skip things outright to keep everyone happy. Include your child in selecting the activities. Whenever possible, I offer my son a variety of options and find, more often than not, that he is more inclined to enjoy those excursions that he participated in choosing.

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What I have learned in Japan

I love visiting Japan! The Japanese culture is rich and filled with traditions that have been passed down through the generations. Embracing simplicity, always being respectful, and learning to reduce stress are just a few of the lessons that I have observed on my trips there.

What I have learned in Japan

Lesson #1. Always Be Respectful.

Respect is at the center of Japanese culture. One of my fondest memories is when I went to a winter festival in Sapporo. There amongst the nearly 200 ice sculptures, all lit from within with lanterns and lights, were families with children. I found myself observing how they interacted with one another. While many other cultures tend to be more open, and let manners slide from time to time among their family members and friends, the Japanese are known for being more formal and conservative. Young children are taught early on about the importance of respecting their elders, possessions, and the world at large. I saw this in the way even the very young children politely asked permission before engaging with the various hands-on displays.

When speaking with some of the visitors who were from nearby areas, I learned that the early childhood lessons include always arriving on time, removing shoes before entering a home, and being considerate of others in every single social act. Additionally, you will see adults greet each other with a bow as a sign of respect. Titles of honor, including -sun, -sama, -kun, and -chan are also used to show respect. There is a wonderful embedded expectation within Japanese society that all individuals will act with an appropriate level of etiquette and decorum, especially when they are out in public.

Lesson #2. Waste Less to Create a Smaller Environmental Footprint.

Walking the streets of Japan can be a strange experience for Americans who are used to seeing litter clutter their favorite cities. In fact, many places in Japan don’t have public garbage cans. Instead, people will carry their trash with them until they have arrived at their destination, returned home, or have found a location with a wastebasket. The Japanese approach to waste has led to spotless streets and an incredibly efficient recycling system. As a whole, the country has adopted a “waste less” approach to creating a smaller environmental footprint. This smaller footprint is enhanced by energy efficiencies throughout the workplace and zero landfill waste policies.

Lesson #3. Cleanliness is Key to a Healthier Life.

Cleanliness goes hand-in-hand with respect in Japanese culture. To help promote a healthier life that stems from cleanliness, the Japanese are known for distributing wet towels before meals. Imagine my shock and delight when I purchased something and my cash transactions were completed with the assistance of a tray! The money is placed on the tray so that the customer and cashier do not have to touch hands, which is both an act of cleanliness and respectful consideration. The latter consideration can also be seen by the numerous people who wear surgical masks out in public. When I inquired about them, I was told that the masks are not to prevent catching a cold, but are typically worn because the wearer is already sick and does not want to spread germs to others. I found that this high level of consideration is just one of the many ways that the Japanese embrace cleanliness throughout their daily lives. It is not a bad thing to adopt in our own country, for sure.

Lesson #4. Live Longer by Eating Well, Meditating, and Walking Often.

Did you know that Japan is home to a blue zone? Blue zones denote areas in the world where a high proportion of the population live past 100. In addition to having a blue zone, a 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) report discovered that Japanese women have the highest life expectancy throughout the globe. The Japanese way of life can help teach us how to live longer by eating well, meditating and walking often. The latter mentalities are ingrained into daily life by eating small portions, preferring lower-calorie foods, and making time for tea to help aid digestion and promote emotional well-being. When speaking with a Japanese mother, I was told that Japanese children are taught these valuable life lessons at a young age. They are also encouraged to walk to school to help prevent obesity. Children and adults often combine exercise and meditation, enjoying and honoring nature on a daily basis through group and individual activities. While they aren’t immune to technology, and use it in their daily lives, they have found a way to balance that…definitely something I plan to incorporate in my own life!

Lesson #5. Reduce Stress by Finding Pleasure in the Simple Things.

In addition to eating well, meditating, and walking often, the Japanese have also discovered the joy in reducing stress by finding the pleasure in simple things. From meals, to drinking tea, to decorating a home or office, simplicity is embraced by the Japanese. Instead of rushing or eating while walking to work, meals are enjoyed in a relaxing environment. Rituals, such as preparing, pouring, and enjoying tea, are done with a pride that dates back hundreds of years. I have returned to Japan many times, and on every visit I’ve always made a point of enjoying a tea ceremony in a lovely tea house somewhere. The Japanese culture also has a love for nature that can be seen in their minimalist approach to life. This love for nature, coupled with enjoying the simple things in life, has led to a culture that is respectful, considerate, and mindful of the past, present, and future.

In conclusion, Japan has numerous lessons that it can teach us. The importance of respect, the ability to create a smaller environmental footprint by wasting less, the vitality that is created through cleanliness, the ability to live longer by eating well, meditating, and walking often, and finding joy through the simplest things, are just a few of the lessons that I have brought back with me from Japan, and some that I continue to incorporate into my life to this day. Which of the above seem like they might work for you? I’d love to hear from you and what you’ve learned from your travels!

Nabila Khashoggi loves to travel and share the exciting truths from her many years of adventure. This same care and attention is offered through her exclusive line of cosmetics, home goods, and travel items sourced during her many treks around the world.

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Stlyling Your Workspace

The Science of Styling Your Workspace 

I move around quite a bit. My desk is mostly the ‘on the go’ type. I dream of getting back to my space, and when I do, sometimes, weeks later, it’s just as I left it, a mess. It almost derails me before I even start. I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one buried in desk clutter. When I literally spent 15 minutes looking for some stupid sticky notes, I knew something had to give. I mean, we sit at our desks for hours upon hours. Staring at a screen is almost inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be tedious. You don’t have to work in a cluttered workspace. In fact, your desk can be a place of peace and serenity, if you style it right. But you don’t have to go out and hire someone to help you untangle the mess on your desk. Here are some recommendations that were given to me. Believe me…they’re a game changer.

1. Clean Your Desktop Off Completely

If you’re like me and a lot of other people, your desk has probably accumulated a number of things you may not even need any longer. Papers pile up, trinkets appear out of nowhere, and wires seem to take on lives of their own. Before you begin styling your desk, clear it off completely. Working around clutter is only going to derail the process. Move stuff to the floor or couch or a side table, (or the bed… this way you are forced to deal with it!) then you can put them away or work them into your design as the process goes along. Avoid the temptation to take your arm and make a clean sweep of it all. Looks great in the movies…not so much in real life.

2. Prioritize the Big Stuff First

Which items must be on your desk? You’ve probably got a computer and mouse. Maybe you have an external monitor and keyboard, as well. Those big items are your anchor items. Place them in places that make the most sense for your body so you’re not sitting in an awkward position or straining to see your screens. Are you left-handed or right-handed? The answer to this question will probably affect the best setup for your personal desk space.

3. Choose a Theme: Utilize Office Organizers

I can’t say this enough: organizing tools have become my best friend. They keep clutter away, enabling me to enjoy my space, and they’ll do the same for you. Decide which items could be in drawers and which should be kept on the top of your desk. Keep in mind that the clearer you’re able to keep the surface of your desk, the less anxiety you’ll experience when you’re working away. For file folders that’ll live on the top of your desk, find organizers that store them upright. Anytime you’re working on making a space more efficient and comfortable I found that it’s important to use vertical real estate, not just horizontal surfaces.
Your theme can be anything from fun and wild colors to wooden accessories; the point is to make everything congruent so that it looks and feels like it all naturally goes together. This will help the aesthetics in your entire home or office fit together better, too.

4. Address the Clutter

At this point, if it hasn’t made it back onto your desk yet, because it doesn’t absolutely need to be there, don’t start stacking it back on now. Take time to go through the rest of the items you’ve placed aside. Do you need them? Can they be filed? Does anything belong in the trash or donation piles? Get rid of everything you don’t need and find organized storage places for the stuff that needs to stick around but doesn’t need to live atop your desk.

5. One Last Look

Before you plunk your laptop down on your desk and start hitting keys, take one last look. Take a moment to look to see if things may work better if you put them in a different position. You’ll be astonished at how much more efficient your work day can be when all of your items have a proper home. It literally took me the better part of a day working with an organization expert to come to terms with the crazy that was my desk…but, in the end…it has been well worth it!

#nabilakhashoggi #khashoggi #lifestyle #explore #gettingorganized #declutter #habits #nabilak #spartanandthegreenegg

Nabila Khashoggi loves to travel and share the exciting truths from her many years of
adventure. This same care and attention is offered through her exclusive line of cosmetics, home goods, and travel items sourced during her many treks around the world.


French Secrets For A Happy Life

Lessons from the French: Elevate Your Lifestyle

Ever since I was an infant, my family and I visited the South of France every summer. My father loved the Mediterranean Sea and any country that bordered it. Later I lived there for quite a few years. When it comes to living life to its fullest, the French — particularly those in the beautiful South of France,— can teach us all a thing or two. And the best part is you don’t need a caviar budget to take these lessons to heart.

Pay Attention to the Little Things
Living in France, I soon learned one thing the French know for sure: You don’t need a big reason to enjoy the simple, daily pleasures of life. In fact, “big” things can get in the way. Instead of waiting for something special to celebrate, the French focus on turning everyday activities into something worth celebrating in a meaningful way. Typically, that can mean something as simple and transformative as indulging in a unique item, such as candles to light during dinner, or super-soft sheets for your bed, or something really unique you find in a small out-of-the-way shop.

Shop Locally
Scenes of French men and women browsing in outdoor markets brimming with colorful and healthy vegetables are among the most common images associated with French living. But you don’t have to go to France to have that same experience. Here in the United States, there’s almost sure to be a farmer’s market in your area, and most towns have at least one local patisserie — aka bakery — where you can enjoy a fragrant loaf of fresh bread, or maybe even buttery croissants. Not only will the food be fresher, but you’ll be supporting local businesses too. And if you really want to feel French, invest in a reusable net shopping bag (sometimes called a string bag or a fishnet bag), almost a necessity for most open-air market shoppers.



The French put a lot of stock into conversation — real conversation, about current events or other interesting topics. They recognize the value of meaningful conversation in creating and nurturing human contact. What’s more, they have conversations face to face, not just on social media. For most of us, tech — while convenient — has made our conversation skills just a wee bit rusty. To get back in practice, use family dinners and lunches with friends and work buddies to polish your skills. I grew up speaking French, but when out of practice it shows. Conversation, a two-way street, is a great way to practice a new language.

Cultivate your Own Style

The French fashion scene gets a lot of attention, but for most French people, their actual attire is a lot more practical and focused on comfort without sacrificing style. In Cannes and Paris, it didn’t take me long to see that the French aren’t swayed by fads; instead, they build their wardrobes around timeless pieces in top-quality materials that will look good year after year. The French take time each day to make sure they look their best because they know that helps them feel their best, too. French women tend to value a good, basic haircut that flatters their features — one that doesn’t require a lot of time primping, curling and styling. And they use one or two tasteful accessories to take a basic outfit from day to night without a lot of hassle.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make truly meaningful changes to your life. By taking the time to make even the smallest events more meaningful, by making the space around you beautiful, you can incorporate a little bit of the French lifestyle into you own corner of the world.

I love to travel and share exciting observations from many years of adventure. Hopeful you will see this translated into our Nabila K lifestyle line of exclusive line of cosmetics home goods, and travel itemssourced during many treks around the world.

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