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Jan. 21 is National Hugging Day, and that has me thinking about the ways we say hello in different cultures and social settings. In Puerto Rico, we hug, but there’s also a lot of kissing in a greeting. The standard greeting in Puerto Rico is a kiss hello, usually an air kiss on each side of the person’s face. When you say goodbye, you typically do air kisses, too. If you are out socially, say at a cocktail party or work event, and meet someone new, instead of a handshake, you say hello and air kiss. This gesture serves as an introduction, a greeting, and a farewell. Growing up in a culture that embraces physical contact in this way made it interesting to adapt to a culture where only close friends hug hello and goodbye. No air kissing and no hugging; you shake someone’s hand or wave to say hello. It’s been quite a cultural shift. In general, Hispanic culture needs a lot less personal space than others. Andy, our firm manager and someone I’ve worked with for years, was surprised to find out that I’m a hugger. He’s worked at the firm for the past 3 years, and he worked with me even before that. I’ve known him for a while, but he only just found out that I like hugs. Because it’s not the norm in professional settings in the United States, he’d never really seen me hug anyone. Being in the U.S., I’ve learned to let other people take the lead when meeting or greeting them in professional settings. If they go for a handshake or greeting with no physical contact, I follow that cue. While I come from a culture where hugs and kisses are common, that isn’t everyone’s experience. It’s always important to ask and understand what someone is comfortable with. CAN WE HUG? HOW WE SAY HELLO
goodbye. Period. Even if they’re running to the grocery store just a few blocks away or if they’ll only be gone for 20 minutes, they find whoever else is home and give them a hug and kiss. The same goes for when they get home — a hug and kiss hello. My husband, Josh, sometimes giggles a little at how important this ritual is to me. “I just saw you 20 minutes ago!” he says with a laugh. Often, he’s on a mission when he leaves or gets home, like when he’s just returned from the grocery store and is intent on putting the groceries away. “Don’t forget my hug and kiss!” I tell him. He laughs, then obliges. It might seem silly, but I will take every opportunity I can to connect and to show my loved ones I care through an embrace. Hugs are awesome.
How about you? How do you feel about hugs?
As my family knows well, I like hugs, and human touch to and from my loved ones is important to me. In our house, before anyone goes out, they give everyone else a hug and kiss
–Meliha Perez Halp ern
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Help Your Kids Achieve More This Year WITH SIMPLE AND ACTIONABLE GOALS
With every new year comes an opportunity to reinvent ourselves or start down a new path toward self-improvement. Making resolutions is a big part of many families’ New Year’s traditions, and parents often have a desire for their kids to take part in that tradition when they’re old enough. Following through on resolutions is tough, especially for young children, but with your help, they can achieve their goals. PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH. You are your children’s role model for almost everything, including following through on New Year’s resolutions. So, ask yourself if you follow through on your own resolutions. When you proclaim that you will read more books or finally get a gym membership, do you actually try to do it? Your kids will assign as much importance to New Year’s resolutions as you do, so by sticking to your own commitments, you can help them stay on track too. KEEP THINGS SIMPLE AND ACHIEVABLE. When your kids are forming their resolutions, their first attempts will probably be very broad. Statements like “I want to be more kind” or “I will try to help more around the house” incorporate good values but don’t include any actionable steps. Help your kids More About Hugs Text As Meliha shared on the cover, while the occasion can differ depending on your own traditions and the situation, hugging plays an important part in showing loved ones we care. As it turns out, this show of affection also has many other benefits for our well-being. 1. HUGS CAN GIVE YOU A CONFIDENCE BOOST. The act of hugging gets your brain to produce dopamine, one of the chemicals responsible for motivation and feel-good emotions. At the University of North Carolina, researchers looked at how this TITLE
think of tangible ways to act on those goals. For example, if they want to be tidier, a good resolution might be for them to clean their room once a week or take responsibility for one household chore every day. DON’T DO ALL THE WORK FOR THEM. While it’s important for you to help your kids formulate their goals, be sure that you aren’t taking over. If they’re ultimately responsible for their resolutions, they’ll feel more compelled to keep them. Instead, suggest different goal areas they could improve, such as home, school, or sports, and let them elaborate.
When it comes to creating habits, nobody is perfect, so even if your kids falter on their goals in the middle of February, don’t worry. The important thing is that you continue to encourage them every step of the way.
3 FACTS TO HELP YOU EMBRACE NATIONAL HUGGING DAY
2. HUGGING IS HEALTHY. Research from the University of North Carolina also found that hugs ease blood flow and lower cortisol levels. When we hug, our pituitary gland releases oxytocin, leading to those lowered heart rates and, for our emotional center, feelings of contentment. Hugs are also shown to stimulate the thymus gland, a part of the body that regulates our production of white blood cells. 3. WE AREN’T THE ONLY SPECIES THAT HUGS. Monkeys do it, and koalas do it too (at least, they hug trees). Researchers at Florida International University studied hugging in the Colombian spider monkey, a species that, like us, lives in social groups. These monkeys have not one but two ways of embracing, and according to primatologist Filippo Aureli, they use hugging as a form of conflict management to defuse potentially combative situations. Oh, and when we talk about the benefits of hugging, it isn’t only human contact that produces these positive results — hugging your pets can have many of the same benefits! How cute is that?
played out on two groups of couples — one that participated in hugging and one that didn’t — and how they responded to a stressful situation. The couples who spent 20 seconds hugging before the stressful event had lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who had not hugged. The importance of this contact is especially true for children, who rely on physical contact to recognize their parents and carry that imprint through the rest of their lives.
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IS YOUR AUTO POLICY ENOUGH? WHEN IT’S TIME TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK
Does $30,000 sound like a lot of money? If you’re talking about $30,000 to cover the year’s rent or winning $30,000 to spend on a big vacation, then it is a lot of money. But when you have only $30,000 to cover extensive medical bills for yourself and others, plus the cost of a new car, that amount is spent really, really fast. We see this happen all the time, and we’ve seen enough cases to know that the amount of auto insurance required by law isn’t always enough to cover you in serious auto collisions. To avoid ending up in this situation, it’s a good idea to review your insurance policy and see if any of the additional coverage options are right for you. Often, they add a small cost to your policy, but in the long term, you’ll be thankful for the additional coverage.
resulting from a car accident regardless of who is at fault. In Maryland, you may waive PIP protection to pay less for your auto insurance. However, PIP insurance is not very expensive, so waiving this insurance to save only a few dollars is NOT recommended. You should have this important coverage for the few extra dollars it costs on an annual basis. UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST (UM/UIM) COVERAGE With UM/UIM coverage, you can bill your own insurance once the other driver’s insurance has been exceeded. That means you have peace of mind knowing an accident won’t bankrupt you, even if the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance themselves. Both of these coverage options are available to you even though your insurance agent may not have mentioned them. Talk to your agent and tell them that you would like to confirm you have PIP and add additional UM/UIM or enhanced underinsured coverage. If you have additional questions about your auto policy, don’t hesitate to reach out! We are happy to review your auto policy with you and provide guidance. The world of auto insurance is confusing, so don’t go it alone!
PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION Personal injury protection, often referred to as PIP, can pay some of your medical bills and 85% of lost wages for injuries
Ingredients • 4 oz (about 12) small chili peppers • 2 cloves garlic, slightly crushed • 10 black peppercorns Directions 1. Remove pepper stems and slice peppers into halves or quarters, small enough to fit into the jar or container. 2. Stuff peppers into an 8-oz bottle or jar and add cloves, peppercorns, cilantro stems, and lime juice. Pique: Puerto Rican Hot Sauce Enjoy authentic Puerto Rican hot sauce with this easy-to-make recipe! For the peppers, I like to use a mix of 7-pots, aji pineapples, and muranga reds.
• 4 cilantro stems • Lime juice • 1/2 cup white vinegar
3. Fill rest of container with vinegar, leaving some head space, and shake vigorously. 4. Let sit anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks to allow the heat and flavor to develop. Refill as needed with more vinegar and peppers.
Inspired by ChiliPepperMadness.com
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inside Meliha’s Feelings on National Hugging Day PAGE 1 200A Monroe Street, Suite 303 Rockville, MD 20850
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Helping Your Kids Make New Year’s Resolutions PAGE 2
3 Benefits of Hugging PAGE 2
Finding Justice for Our Clients PAGE 3
Pique: Puerto Rican Hot Sauce PAGE 3
Tips to Establish a Family Media Use Plan PAGE 4
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Screen-Time Strategies HOW TO SET A FAMILY MEDIA USE PLAN
CONSTRUCT A ‘MEDIA DIET’ Take an active role in what your children watch by co-viewing programs with them. You’ll have a better sense of what they’re seeing and can point them toward the programming that’s right for them. Look for educational media choices that teach good values. There are a lot of great educational opportunities on the internet, but there’s also a lot of room for negative exposure. If this is a concern, keep the family computer in a public part of your home so you can see what they’re accessing online.
With 24/7 media exposure from TVs, computers, and smartphones, it feels like life is dominated by screens. Consider implementing a media use plan for your family so they don’t miss out on the real world. SET A CURFEW Limiting the time your children spend staring at a screen is good for their health. Try to keep screen-time usage to under two hours per day. Implement a rule for no screens at mealtimes, and keep all screens out of bedrooms at night. Keep track of the devices by having a communal charging dock in a shared area where you can make sure everything is plugged in for the night. HAVE A CHAT Don’t shy away from warning your kids about what exists in the digital world. Explain to them that certain content isn’t age- appropriate, and teach them what movie and TV ratings mean. Remind them to be careful about what they put on the internet because anything they upload never really goes away. Teach them to be smart with their decisions. Connect with them on social media if it helps you keep an eye on things.
It’s important to educate your children about proper media health, but it’s even more important to encourage your kids to be healthy in other ways. Beyond the tips mentioned above, encourage them to play outdoors and read physical books so they can participate more actively in the real world.
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