Is your child being poisoned?

sick kidWhat if your child’s brain cells were being eaten away? What if you notice that he’s been having trouble learning new things or having difficulty with his memory? Has he started talking excessively, or is he constantly fidgety? Is he complaining of feeling like bugs are crawling all over his skin? Does he have headaches; is his heart pumping fast? Is he having stomach aches, constipation, diarrhea?
All this can be signs of stress toxification. A small amount of adrenaline and cortisol can be beneficial. Cortisol can regulate blood pressure, manage glucose levels and enhance the immune system. Adrenaline, in small, temporary doses, can increase memory and alertness as well as improve brain function. The problem comes when kids are under constant stress, experiencing too many demands and pressures with no safe place to decompress. Chronic stress causes a constant flow of what are supposed to be ‘health-aiding hormones’ to become toxic. Instead of short bursts of energy and improved memory and immune function, they can turn on your child and cause a variety of negative symptoms as mentioned above, leading to serious illness.
What can you do, as a parent? Read full article here in the Huffington Post.







10 Ways to Bring Out the Best in Your Kid


Imagine your kid engrossed in something that keeps his attention for hours, expands his senses, nurtures his awareness, calms him down and strengthens his immune system. And it has nothing to do with electronics or medication.

Imagine that you are also calm and at ease and not having to control his every moment or correct him over and over.

Imagine that you are having fun and being healthy all at the same time.

Even good parents get overwhelmed and feel like they run out of ideas, or they just get so busy that implementing new ideas just seems like too much effort.

Imagine learning a few tools that you can use anytime to collect yourself and calm down anytime throughout the day. Even better, imagine your children learning those same tools and having fun doing it, creating a calmer, healthier and more pleasant environment in the home.

Imagine that you could start right away, creating good memories, less stress in your relationships and better family bonding.

Creating a lifestyle of mindful awareness and joyful living is easier than you might think. Learning the principles of connection awareness, and detaching from drama (Peaceful Parenting: 10 Essential Principles, 2013) you can begin to create a calming energy within yourself, which has an overflow effect into your home. You know as well as I do that kids do what you do before they will ever do what you say.

It just doesn’t make any practical sense for them to do something that doesn’t seem to be working for you. So when you tell them to calm down while you are yelling, they consider that scenario and think, “Calming down doesn’t seem to be working for Mom, so I think I will yell louder since that’s what seems to be working for her!”

When you insist that they read because it’s so much fun, but you spend all your time on your phone, they are tempted to think, “Obviously Dad isn’t buying into the ‘fun reading’ thing, so I will just play on my tablet too. I want to be like Dad.”

Imitation is a sort of flattery…continue reading on the Huffington Post Blog

Advice from a pediatrician about how to help your special needs child.

Dr Diana ChalmetaDr. Diana Chalmeta discusses when to refer your special needs child to a specialist. We also explore the role of nutrition and how it influences symptoms as opposed to medication.

This 10 part series on explores different resources you can seek out for parenting your special needs child and where to get the help you need, how to find support and answers and how to take care of yourself in the process.

If you have a child with special needs, this video series is for you! Check it out today!

Partnership works to keep children from crime.

Brenda Raj, Anna Marie Askin-Evans, Elaine Lassiter and Marianne Clyde (left to right) are working together to help at-risk youth avoid future trouble with the law. Fauquier Times Staff Photo

Brenda Raj, Anna Marie Askin-Evans, Elaine Lassiter and Marianne Clyde (left to right) are working together to help at-risk youth avoid future trouble with the law. Fauquier Times Staff PhotoWith positive reinforcement, group therapy and a partnership with juvenile courts, one group plans to keep at-risk teens from a life of crime.












Marianne Clyde, a Warrenton-based therapist, and Elaine Lassiter, the director of the county’s department of juvenile courts, have partnered to create a therapy program for at-risk youth.

First, Lassiter and her team determine if children in the court system present a low, moderate or high risk of committing crimes.

“The court system should be focusing on the moderate- or high-risk kids,” Lassiter said.

But for the younger ones or those without a criminal history, she wants to give them a chance to learn before they end up in front of a judge again.

Read the whole story here.

As posted in the Fauquier Times, by Michael Melkonian, December 9, 2015






One little song can change the world!

I have seen many people doing a lot of good over the years. When I speak with community leaders  from the Department of Juvenile Justice, administrators of schools systems, religious leaders and government officials, we all agree that early intervention is effective in helping our future leaders divert high risk behaviors and develop into strong, healthy citizens.

If early intervention is good, prevention is even better.  If we can build children up early, teaching them the power of creativity and mindfulness, showing them how they can impact their environment in healthy and powerful ways, we have a winning combination.

Having said that, I am very proud to be the President of the Board of Kid Pan Alley, a non profit organization that goes into schools, nursing homes, abused women’s shelters, etc. and teaches students and adults alike that they have the power to stop things like bullying, and domestic violence as well as the power to build themselves and others into the strong human beings they were created to be.

Here is a short video showing what they do and asking if you will help this holiday season. You, too, can help change the world. Watch here.

Will My Divorce Screw Up the Kids?

No, a divorce will not screw up your kids. Neither will a death of a loved one or a move to another state or flunking first grade. Clearly they are all significant life events.

Divorce Situation and Its Effect in Family RelationshipNone of these things, in themselves, have any power at all to either help or hurt your children. Their thoughts and beliefs determine how they will respond to a trauma or a significant life change. It depends largely on how you communicate information. How you respond or react have a huge impact on your children, not necessarily the event itself. Children learn more from what they observe in you than you will ever know.

 read more here…

Choose well…

every day choices














What’s all the fuss about mindfulness?

I’ve heard people say that mindfulness exercises don’t work with young children. But studies prove differently. According to Sarah Rudell Beach, in her Huffington Post article on the topic, “There is an emerging body of research that indicates mindfulness can help children improve their abilities to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset and to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus.


Who doesn’t want that for their kid? What teacher wouldn’t think this is helpful for classroom performance? What parent wouldn’t appreciate their ADHD child being better able to self-regulate?

Teaching mindfulness to kids is easy and fun. Of course, as with anything, children learn from your example rather than expecting them to perform by harping on them.

The principles from my book, Peaceful Parenting: 10 Essential Principles, bear mentioning here because the principles help you be the parent that you want your kids to emulate:

  1. Connect with your Creator
  2. Know your true identity
  3. Nurture awareness
  4. Breathe
  5. Respect
  6. Practice gratitude
  7. Limit judgments
  8. Detach
  9. Communicate clearly
  10. Forgive quickly

These are principles of a mindful life.

They are easily acquired through meditation, walks in nature, paying    attention to the present moment, letting go of the need to be right, not  engaging in drama, and by not comparing one thing to the other, just learning to appreciate each person and thing for its own value.

Fun ways to teach these principles to your children are:

  1. Having a treasure hunt in the woods.
  2. Stopping and stating three things that you hear or smell or see.
  3. Watching the clouds and picking out shapes.
  4. Going fishing. My grandson, who is usually very active can be still for hours catching tadpoles, fishing, skipping rocks in the pond.
  5. Reading poetry that encourages a thoughtful approach to nature.
  6. Listening to different kinds of music and talking about how each makes you feel differently.
  7. Smelling different types of oils and discussing which ones you like or don’t like and why.
  8. Practicing sitting still. Sometimes I will set the timer for 5 minutes and say just listen to what God has to say to you. Then discuss it afterward. You will be surprised at what they hear.
  9. Let them pick a rock from outside and close their eyes and turn it over and over in their hands, feeling its texture and ask what the rock wants to communicate with them.
  10. Teach them to just take a deep breath a few times when they are feeling over-stimulated to calm themselves down.
  11. Teach them to name their emotions. Don’t label them as good or bad but ask if there is a different emotion that would feel better and discuss how to get there.
  12. Teach them that they always have a choice and always have a voice.
  13. Model respect for each member of the family by listening and responding thoughtfully rather that just reacting.

You might be surprised that kids find these things fun and easy to do. They particularly enjoy doing these activities and engaging with you. And in the process, you will find yourself calming down and feeling more peaceful as well.


I want to be out of my mind…

don't fence me in

Today, I want to be out of my mind.
Out from under conditioned responses.
Out from under false or man made assumptions.
Out from under the opinions of others.
Not bound by fear or irritations or perceived limitations.
I want to be fully aware that this world is a temporary experience
in an everlasting pool of peace and love and joy.
My only job is to leave some of that peace and love and joy
behind when I go.






Don’t fence me in

You’re fat. You’re Republican. You’re handicapped. You’re black. You’re a girl.  You’re smart. You’re an athlete. You’re a red-head. You’re Muslim. You’re a cop. You’re old. You’re tall. You’re silly. You’re an alcoholic. You’re an idiot. You’re gay. You’re beautiful. You are this…not that.

one dimension

There. You’re in a box. How does that feel? Whenever we label anyone, we are often sticking them in a category in our minds. If someone is fat, they are also a list of other things that we associate with fat. If they are Jewish, we automatically attribute other characteristics to them that we have created in our minds.  Some of those characteristics might be good; some may be negative. Some we might consider to be in “our camp” and others, we might reject as being on the other side of the fence, or even our enemies. Same with white, black, Asian, Hindu, Gay, Christian, male, female, and any other category we consider.

Anytime, we put someone in a category, we are defining them. But only by our own standards. So we are really only defining ourselves. We don’t really know them. Anytime we create a club or camp or faction in our minds, it sets us up to compare ourselves to that faction. And of course, much of the time, we come out on top…just because that is the way human nature is. We must look good. We are better. We are superior. Or at the very least, we are different from them.  So we stick to our own kind. It seems better that way. It seems easier. Sometimes putting ourselves in a box makes us feel secure.  We can define it. It is predictable. But we sure don’t want anyone else to do that!

It is also exclusive. If you shut yourself in, you are shutting someone else out. And division can breed contempt, hatred, judgment, and even a false sense of security.

Of course there are obvious differences. None of the statements or categories is wrong or bad in itself. And there’s nothing wrong with boy’s clubs and girls clubs and joining groups. The problem is the meaning we automatically associate with a person or a group when all we see is one characteristic, one dimension, one category, and label it as better.

Every time we put someone in a category, our children also put them in a category. Every time we judge a person or a group or avoid a person because of one-dimensional thinking, we are teaching our kids to do the same.

Yes, it is risky, but let me suggest that you step outside of your comfort zone. Begin to determine yourself to find out more about someone; learn something new about someone out of your club or category. Then encourage your kids to do the same.

We must not be color blind and pretend we don’t see differences, but begin to see the differences as unique characteristics that make someone even more interesting. Much like another facet on a diamond. Then they are much more valuable than someone we “already know all about,” so that we don’t even consider them.  We cast them aside as not worthy to associate with, or worse yet: as our enemies.

Teach your kids to look deeper, to explore further, to find a place of connection instead of automatically assuming there is none.

My daughter has a tattoo on her foot that says, “Don’t fence me in…”  It’s something I think we all feel. No one like to be categorized or put in a box to be put on a shelf in your mind or cast aside. If you don’t like it, don’t do it to others…and don’t teach your kids to do it.