7 Gems from Nana and Papa

As Baby Wags’ birthday quickly approaches, I find myself thinking more about the type of mom I want to be and what I want to teach him.  In journaling this, I couldn’t help but think about my parents, Marie and Bob Barrese, and the lessons they’ve taught me.  There are so many, but the seven below are the ones I cherish the most.

1.     Surprise people – From the time my brother Tony and I were little munchkins to now, Mom and Dad have always surprised us.  I remember being a kid eating breakfast on a seemingly regular summer morning and hearing, “We are going to Great America today (Six Flags)!!!” “Ahhh!” we screamed. “How fun! We had no idea!”  The surprises continued on into adolescence, with a vacation to Hawaii (we thought we were going to California, and I kept telling the flight attendant that we were on the wrong flight), and even as adults, we are constantly surprising each other with gifts, both small and large.  Taking the time to plan something thoughtful for the people you love without them doing any of the work is one of the coolest feelings in the world.  Click here to see when we told Marie & Bob about Baby Wags.

2.     Bake for others – If you know my mom, you know she bakes.  But Marie is not the average baker; I am convinced she could have her own show on The Food Network.  Every Christmas, she bakes over twenty-five different types of cookies and gives them out as gifts.  My brother and I took on this tradition (in a much more reasonable manner) and give baking treats to friends, family, and co-workers at various times of the year.  There’s just nothing like a home-cooked, sweet treat to show you care.

3.     Keep in touch with people who matter – When I was twelve, our family moved from Chicago to a suburb of Boston. At a young age, I learned to make the effort (because not a lot of people do) to keep in touch with the friends and family I left behind. Next time you are in traffic (and are not in a school zone and you have a hands-free phone, of course), call someone you haven’t talked to in a while. It will make his/her day, and there is just nothing like a connection with an old friend. It’s not enough to just think about people.  If they matter to you, make the effort to connect.

4.     Do what you love – My parents did a great job encouraging my brother and I to do whatever we wanted in life, no matter how crazy it seemed.  Because of this, they ended up with a yoga studio owner and opera conductor, which I personally think is super cool. Even if you can’t make it your career, find something that makes you happy and do it, often. Always be curious and in exploration. You just never know what you are going to find. I mean, I certainly didn’t major in yoga in college!

5.     Don’t procrastinate – The Barreses are all about getting shi* done. When my dad sees that a mirror needs to be hung or gutters cleaned out, he is on the project before I can finish my sentence.  When my mom sees that the laundry needs to be folded, there is nothing else she will do until it’s folded and neatly put away. They don’t mess around; they never wait for the infamous “later,” and they are always in action.  When I’m going through a lazy spell, I channel my mom and ask myself the question, “What would Marie do?” The answer is always: get up and get it done. My reward for not procrastinating is guilt-free time to play and do the things I enjoy.

6.     Always say thank you –When someone does something nice for you, acknowledge them and let them know how much you appreciate them.  This could be through a verbal thank you, a phone call, email, or my personal favorite, a handwritten note.  Mom and Dad instilled a sense of gratitude in us at a young age. I am always on the lookout for fun thank you notes. I keep a stash in my office and send them all of the time. There is just nothing like getting real mail these days!

7.     Celebrate everything! – Italians are known for celebrating everything. When we had a recital or performance, they brought us flowers and took us out for dinner.  Every birthday, anniversary, and holiday (even Halloween) is a BIG DEAL in our family.  I love this because it has made my life richer and simply more fun. I have fond memories of having a haunted house in our garage at Halloween, having my favorite cake on my birthday (which my mom always makes gluten free now!), and feeling so much love and support on my wedding day.  We all know that life is short. Celebrating every moment, big and small, makes life more meaningful.  It’s worth the effort, and it’s just plain fun!

To my sweet baby boy (who I get to meet in just a few days), I cannot wait to pass down these traditions and share life’s gifts with you. But what I am most excited about is what you will inevitably teach me about life, love, and family.

COMMENTS
bob barrese
Who knew? we were making it up as we went along. Maybe number 8 is trust your instincts

Anthony Barrese
4 & 5 are the magical combo! Love T

Rebekah
You will be a great mom! He will learn these lovely things from you and many more amazing things! It will be a beautiful journey and I am so excited for you that is begins for you in just one short day!

Cassandra (cassandra@yogasportdallas.com)
I just love this!! I also would just like to say I’m pretty excited for Marie to be down in this region with those baking skills! 😉 xoxoxoxo

Yoga for Relaxation

At over 38 weeks preggo, I definitely need some relaxing stretches in my life.  However, you don’t need to be pregnant to gain benefits from relaxing yoga poses.  Follow the simple sequence below to de-stress and add some calm into your body.  You can make it as long or as short as you like but I suggest holding each posture (or doing each movement) for at least 1-2 minutes each.  Add some breath and voila, you are doing something really good for your body. For my power yogis who like to flow, see the picture gallery at the bottom for how and when to add in Downward Dogs to connect the poses.  And thank you to my assistant Bella for her help in this photo shoot.

Start with a simple yoga pose to warm up and move your spine. This is called Cat Pose (I think Bella must know this!) Pull your belly in (if you can), tuck your chin and press your hands into the mat until you feel a rounding between your shoulder blades.
Start with a simple yoga pose to warm up and move your spine. This is called Cat Pose (I think Bella must know this!) Pull your belly in (if you can), tuck your chin and press your hands into the mat until you feel a rounding between your shoulder blades.
Drop your belly, pull your shoulders back and gaze forward (or up if your neck is cool with it). Continue to slowly move from Cat to Cow to Cat to Cow until you feel like your spine is warm. You can also add a slow side to side hip movement if that feels good on your spine.
Drop your belly, pull your shoulders back and gaze forward (or up if your neck is cool with it). Continue to slowly move from Cat to Cow to Cat to Cow until you feel like your spine is warm. You can also add a slow side to side hip movement if that feels good on your spine.
To stretch your chest muscles, grab a strap or towel, straighten your arms and stretch your arms behind you. It's ok if your arms have a bend in them. If you are really flexible, you may be able to interlace your fingers and not use the strap. It's important to keep your chest and head lifted while you do this pose.
To stretch your chest muscles, grab a strap or towel, straighten your arms and stretch your arms behind you. It’s ok if your arms have a bend in them. If you are really flexible, you may be able to interlace your fingers and not use the strap. It’s important to keep your chest and head lifted while you do this pose.
Hook a strap or towel around your right foot and draw your lower back into the floor by engaging your abdominal muscles. Keep your shoulders on the floor and your chest relaxed. If you need more of a stretch, gently pull your foot towards your body.
Hook a strap or towel around your right foot and draw your lower back into the floor by engaging your abdominal muscles. Keep your shoulders on the floor and your chest relaxed. If you need more of a stretch, gently pull your foot towards your body.
Keep your shoulders and your left butt cheek on the ground as you extend your right leg out to the right. Keep your foot flexed and only go to where you feel a stretch. Extend your left arm out and look over your left shoulder.
Keep your shoulders and your left butt cheek on the ground as you extend your right leg out to the right. Keep your foot flexed and only go to where you feel a stretch. Extend your left arm out and look over your left shoulder.
This is one of my favorite neck stretches. Start by drawing your left ear to your left shoulder (the typical neck stretch we all know well). Keep your ear dropping towards your shoulder and look down to the left side of your body. Once you cannot move your head anymore, hold and breathe.
This is one of my favorite neck stretches. Start by drawing your left ear to your left shoulder (the typical neck stretch we all know well). Keep your ear dropping towards your shoulder and look down to the left side of your body. Once you cannot move your head anymore, hold and breathe.
Simply tuck your toes (you may have to manually invite your pinkies into the stretch) and sit on your heels. While this is a simple stretch, it can be very intense. Take deep breaths and build up your tolerance by holding it a little longer each time. Aim to sit for one minute in this pose. It's incredibly healthy for your feet, arches and your legs and yes I KNOW it's challenging. Relax your jaw and breathe!! :)
Simply tuck your toes (you may have to manually invite your pinkies into the stretch) and sit on your heels. While this is a simple stretch, it can be very intense. Take deep breaths and build up your tolerance by holding it a little longer each time. Aim to sit for one minute in this pose. It’s incredibly healthy for your feet, arches and your legs and yes I KNOW it’s challenging. Relax your jaw and breathe!! 🙂