Monday, April 25, 2011

Tips for Latina Moms

With my youngest, at the movies
Being a good mom is not at odds with being successful in other areas. As a working mom of two girls, I’m passionate about combining child rearing with pursuing one’s personal and professional dreams and goals.

I’m happy to announce (actually, jumping up and down would better describe the feeling) that I have just launched as the Guide -writer and editor- of the section Consejos de mamá (Mom´s advice for Latina Moms) at en español, of the New York Times Company.

All the articles, tips and blogs in my new site are aimed at Spanish-speaking moms that need information, support or simply to laugh when they read something they can relate to.
Latina moms will find useful information such as: how to tidy the house in 20 minutes, how to look like you actually slept, and how to choose the best day care, to name a few.

There are also book and product reviews, forums and newsletters.

If you speak Spanish, I invite you to walk with me in this new venture, and to share it with Latina moms, aunts, grandmas, babysitters …

We all need to find ways to manage the family budget, the home and take care of the kids and ourselves.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What makes a Successful Website?

Guest blog post by Steve Nunally, of

There are two kinds of website needs. There are websites designed to get new clients from the Internet and that need to be "optimized" for the search engines. These websites are designed to display your product or service as close to number one as possible in the listings on Google and other search engines. 

The second type of website is known as a business card or brochure site, used strictly for giving additional information to your customers who already have your business card.

What type of company should I hire to do my website?

If the purpose of your website is simply to be a brochure or follow up to your business card any website company can do the work and your decision should be based on getting the best appearance and flow of information for the lowest possible price.  On the other hand, if getting new clients from the search engines is a priority then you want to hire a company that specializes in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and you should also pay more attention to the company’s track record with getting their clients to the top of the search engines (especially Google).

How do I know if a company is good at SEO?

A company that is good at search engine optimization will never type the address of a site they have built when showing you the site. Instead, they will tell you what their client sells and will demonstrate how good they are by searching for key words and then showing you how their site ranks in Google.  In fact, if a company cannot show you how it's clients rank in Google - hire someone else.

What is a successful website?

A successful website generates profits that are greater than the cost of building the site. The higher the ratio of generated profits to the site’s cost, the more successful the website.  For instance you could have the most beautiful website in the world, but if it does not rank in the search engines and gets no visitors, then you have lost your money.  Why?  Because without visitors, even the most beautiful website in the world cannot generate profits.

Five tips to increase traffic to your website

1) Talk to the reader, not at the reader.  Nothing is worse than going to a website that feels like an advertisement, where people are just talking about themselves.  If you have good and interesting content people will come back over and over and also refer their friends to your website.

2) Your navigation should be easy to use and your pages should open quickly.  Nothing is worse than going to a website that is confusing, with pages that take forever to open.

3) Make sure that everything on your site works.  No broken links.  No missing pictures.  Navigation goes to where it is supposed to go.  Happy visitors come back more often.

4) Focus on the happiness of the visitors to your site.  Google tracks each person who does a search, using a small software program called a cookie.  If Google sees people going to your site and leaving after only a few seconds Google knows the people are unhappy with what they found on your website.  On the other hand if people stay a long time, go to many pages, and come back over and over again then Google assumes they are happy with what they found on your website and so Google will move you up in it's rankings.

5) Hire the best. There is only one number one spot in Google for each keyword.  You are in a competition with other website owners.  If you try to cut corners, while your competition focuses on quality, you may save a few dollars today, but they will be the ones making all the profits.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Conquer Your Fear

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fearlessness doesn’t equate courage– utter fearlessness can be a sign of immaturity or even a mental disorder. Courage is facing your fears. If you let yourself be ruled by fear, you become weak and vulnerable and that can lead to a miserable life and even depression.  

Throughout my life I’ve overcome several common and extremely inconvenient fears: fear of public speaking, fear of flying, fear of heights, fear of failure and – after a near fatal car accident – of driving. There may be more, but those are the ones that come to mind.  

The most effective way of overcoming a fear is to acknowledge it and face it head on. I overcame my fear of driving by getting back behind the wheel over and over, the fear of public speaking by accepting interviews and giving presentations.

I conquered my fear of flying by flying!  Long before the tragedy of September 11, I asked to visit the cabin of a commercial plane, and when I saw the pilots weren´t pulling out their hair in a panic, I relaxed!

And of course, when I became a mom, knowing that my kids are always watching made me enjoy every flight with them and take it just like they do: as an adventure.

What fears have you overcome?

What fears would you like to conquer and what are you willing to do to face them?

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Qualities of Successful People

-       The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant and kind. W. Somerset Maugham

A failure, just like a success, is circumstantial. Some people accumulate many failures but they use them as stepping-stones to achievements that lead to one huge success. For instance, Thomas Edison failed numerous times before he invented the light bulb.

Other people accumulate achievements but can’t manage to make them lasting or profitable and they soon find themselves again engulfed by failure. For instance, someone who lands good jobs but can’t manage to keep any of them.

In order to turn small achievements into a solid foundation on which to build your life you need to develop the qualities of a successful person.

Many people say they want to write a book or run a marathon and some even try. But when faced with the first difficulty – writer’s block, a rejection, an injury or simply laziness – they give up.

Those who succeed in publishing a book or running the marathon are the ones who embark on the journey knowing that they need to be committed to the goal, that it won’t always be easy and that they need to do whatever it takes to make it.

Some of the qualities of successful people:
- Patience
- Perseverance
- Adaptability
- Creativity
- Joy
- Compassion
- Productivity

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Overcome the Feeling of Defeat

We must avoid wallowing in the sense of defeat caused by a circumstance.

It’s easy to feel defeated because your car was repoed, your house was foreclosed or the love of your life skipped town.

Keep in mind that you are not your circumstances. You are the person who experiences them. 

It’s in your hand to change that circumstance and unless you’re some lazy bum who lays on the couch and does nothing to change his or her life, nobody can rightly criticize you because something happened that was beyond your control.

And if they do badmouth you, rest assured that they have most likely not yet experienced something similar. And I say “yet” because life has a peculiar way of putting everyone in his or her place, sooner or later.

Avoid thinking that your loss or crisis will last forever. You won’t be single or jobless for life nor depressed until the day you die. If you set out to recover from the punches life dishes out, you will soon enjoy its caresses.

When you feel your efforts are good for naught, focus on the success of making the effort. You cannot control the results, but the more you put into it, the greater your chances of achieving any goal you set out to accomplish.  

Chin up! I speak from experience!

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Was a Really Good Mom, Before I Had Kids.

I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids, by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile is a fun read. I picked it up at the library book sale for a buck, which I´m grateful for. Now I can reread it as needed!

The dirty little secrets of moms, that pepper the book´s pages, bring comfort to the gender that was born with a guilt gene! If nothing else, its nice to know that I´m not the only mom who second-guesses herself most of the time and who is yet too quick to judge her sisters but doesn´t enjoy feeling judged herself! Sound familiar?

“I wonder if I´m spending enough time with my kids?”
“Perhaps I´m spending too much time with my kids? Maybe they should go to bed earlier, so I could work more …”
“Am I putting them to bed too early? Maybe I should be more relaxed about that …”
“Are they getting enough sleep? Am I getting enough sleep? Should they sleep in their own bed? Should I nurture them more? Am I too strict? Am I being a wimp? Am I as good a mom as Mary? She is in all the PTA meetings, and makes cupcakes from scratch …”
Blah, blah, blah …

If you can remotely relate to the mental chatter, grab a copy of this book and be ready to laugh when you recognize yourself in some or all of the pages.

One of the best lines reveals that men may feel guilty about something specific, like having whacked their kid on the head with a tennis ball by mistake, for example, “but none of that ´am I a good dad´ BS” that we wear like some kind of sick badge of honor.

Next time you do something for yourself that you feel guilty about, such as work out or spend time alone, ask yourself: “Do I regret it?” If the answer is no, ditch the guilt already!

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Friday, April 1, 2011

The Power of Now

One today is worth two tomorrows. Benjamin Franklin

We tend to ruminate about the past or worry about the future and find it hard to simply savor the present. Thus, the joy of life eludes us.  

If we postpone happiness for when we achieve this or do the other, it will never happen. The truth is that even achieving a much-desired goal, overcoming a huge problem will not guarantee eternal happiness. New challenges and conflicts will arise along the way.

Besides, with so many electronic gadgets – that are also very useful – it’s easy to get sidetracked and not focus on the here and now. For instance: it’s common to text and have a face-to-face conversation at the same time or check your e mail while watching TV. Or read while you grab a bite or update your Facebook page at the supermarket checkout line.

The brain benefits from moments of reflection. Although we can now optimize our time by reading the news on our smartphones in the waiting room of the doctor´s office, it´s also a good idea to embrace those moments and wait them out by being fully present.

I used to always listen to music or talk on the phone during my runs. Lately I´ve tried running while listening to the sounds of life or nature. Then I can meditate or use the time to reflect on my life or on the latest piece I´m writing. It´s not only relaxing, but allows the brain to rest from the constant input of modern life.

How do you take advantage of the present moment and live it in all its intensity? How could you eliminate distractions and take a break from your electronic gadgets that prevent you from being in the now?

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