Monday, November 20, 2017

Just Breathe



The holidays are coming. Every year it seems like they arrive faster and faster. Pre Black Friday sales and deals being advertised as early as the first week of November. Ads coming at you from every which way from the TV, laptop, phone, you name it someone is advertising to us on it.

The more connected we become as a society though it can be said that all of this information overload is actually doing more to disconnect us than it does to connect us. I know some people who are so fed up with it that they just disengage from technology all together, or for periods of time to get away from the noise. I mean really, what's the point of a social media feed if it's not going to be the things you like and want to follow and instead be just lots and lots of advertising that some algorithm picked "for" you? Silly if you ask me.

So with the hustle and bustle season about to move into full swing I wanted to take a moment to remind people to take a little time to breathe. Everyone has lists of things that need to be done, goals, dreams, and to do's that at times may never seem to end. At the end of the day though, it's not about the quantity of things we stuff into the twenty-four hours we are all allotted every day, it's the quality that matters.

The Holiday Season starts with Thanksgiving. Which in my humble Greek opinion is a really great way to start. Forget about everything that needs to be done and take the time to reflect on everything you have done and accomplished in the last day, week, month or last year for that matter. Take a moment to consider your victories big and small. Rome wasn't built in a day and too many people don't give themselves kudos for all the little things they do that really add up.

Whether it's helping others at your job, volunteering, or just people in your everyday life. Look around and think about whom you have touched with your actions big and small and I'm guessing you'll have a whole lot to be thankful for. Some people focus more on what isn't going right in their lives instead of looking at the things that are. Then there are people who are never satisfied, and they are always looking to the next project or adventure and so busy moving forward that they never stop to smell the roses or celebrate the fact that they were able to walk the path where the roses bloomed.

I'm thankful for coffee, endorphins, dogs and cats. All kidding aside... I'm thankful for my faith, my health, my gifts and talents and the opportunity to use them to bless others. I'm super thankful for my amazing wonderful, gorgeous superman of a husband. I'm thankful for my family, my victories and my challenges. Because every day is an opportunity to learn something new and grow in ways we never know. My wish for everyone this Thanksgiving Holiday is to have a little time to breathe and just "be" happy.

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com


Monday, October 30, 2017

Cute Overload

Halloween... the holiday where pet owners everywhere dress our pets in silly costumes. Attend pet parades and swap pics of our furkids going gaga over the cuteness. Isn't that what the holiday is all about? Well for some of us it is. So like always, I dressed my furbabies up in silly costumes again this year.

I swear if my almost eleven year old Pekingese "Punkin" could talk she would be cursing at me. Every time we put a costume on her she makes herself heavy and stiff like a little corpse. Maybe she thinks it'll keep her from having to don the costume, who knows, but the faces she makes the entire time just kill me.

Not just on Halloween, but Christmas and all throughout the year my fur babies have an entire wardrobe of outfits to keep them cute and in style. So without further ado, here is Aston furbabies "Howl-o-ween" Costume parade for 2017.

Punkin "I'm too old for this crap!"

Pepe is an NYC ACC "Urgent List" Survivor.

Lulu is also an NYC ACC Survivor.

Pookie "Is it almost over?"

For the grand finale... the group!


The cats just sit around looking at the dogs and probably thanking their lucky stars that their momma has not decided to add them to the costume parade. Although... you never know, I can think of two little black bomaby cats I know who just might start wearing silly costumes one day too.

Hope everyone has a fun time and stays safe. Happy Halloween!


Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo

www.avaaston.com





Monday, September 25, 2017

Ignorance is Bliss

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This is how you do it! Kudos to Geneo Grissom for demonstrating respectful professional conduct becoming of an NFL player during the National Anthem. (unlike the lunkheads kneeling next to him)
Fall is here again; it's actually my favorite season. Fall is such a beautiful time of year, so many things to take in, the fresh air, the foliage, pumpkin coffee (well actually pumpkin everything), and football among other fun fall things.

Which brings me to a disturbing trend that seems to be taking over the NFL, kneeling during the National Anthem. (WARNING: this blog is not politically correct, snowflakes and safe space residents please be advised).

Why on earth does everything these days have to offend someone for some reason? Why are people so easily offended? When did Americans get such thin skin? I'm sorry but I just find it totally and utterly ridiculous for grown men to be acting like spoiled rotten little kindergarteners on the playground.

The Greatest Generation left their homes, families and country (well before any of them were actually even men by the way) to go fight in foreign lands to keep America and the rest of the world free. They stopped a madman from taking over the world, and saved an entire race of people. Every single day in our country for almost our entire history men and women have lined up to put others ahead of themselves, and leave everything they know so that others can be free.

I have had the honor to perform the National Anthem for many professional sports teams, and it is actually one of my favorite songs to sing. So forgive me, but I find it abhorrent that grown men who make millions of dollars playing a professional sport that they love for a living feel it is appropriate to have a temper tantrum and protest the National Anthem and Flag because they don't like the President; or feel some need to kneel for "social justice". Seriously, do we really need social justice here in America?

We have dozens of social programs including but not limited to free and supplemented education, housing, food, and medical for people in need or low income individuals and or families (including non citizens - yes it happens every day). People come from other countries to have babies on the American tab in American hospitals, then go back home to Iran (just one of many countries) and poof the baby is now a citizen. It's a simple word with big complications and consequences; entitlements they do exist and yes they are abused. Yet so many seem to be ignorant to the reality of what is actually happening, so when the social justice warriors come calling they fall in line.

America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. According to social justice warriors she has so many wrongs to apologize for, and to be embarrassed of. America, the country where people have come from nothing, from complete poverty and risen to the highest heights in their fields. There are hundreds upon hundreds of examples of sports figures, Dr's, lawyers, law enforcement professionals, and teachers, all of them dreamers. People who did not let where they came from determine where they were going, and who they would ultimately become. All of these people who did this, did it in America.

America a country that some choose to stand up and fight for, and some choose to kneel in protest. I ask what on earth are they protesting? Being born in a country that affords them the opportunity to play professional sports and earn millions of dollars a year for a living?

Yes, it would have been so much better to be born somewhere like Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Somalia. Better yet, maybe even better to be born a little girl in Somalia (where female genital mutilation with no anesthesia is a common practice by the age of five). Yes, would be so much better to be there, or anywhere other than America. Give me a break.

Ironic, I seem to recall a certain NFL player who kneeled to pray before games and he was mocked. Yet now we have NFL players who kneel to protest and they are celebrated? Houston, we have some problems.

People including NFL players are free to have an opinion, to like, dislike or even hate the President. However, I have a newsflash for the people who think it is cool to kneel in protest for the National Anthem and the Flag: the Flag and the National Anthem represent people, not a political party. The Flag and the National Anthem represent men and women who gave everything they had, some even their lives for this country.

So when players protest, they are spitting in the eye of Americans; spitting in the eye of the people who died for them to have that right. Players can have their personal opinions and they can do it on their own time. Fans do not pay hundreds of dollars to go see a game to watch players act like spoiled children. If they want to protest they can do it on their own time, and not under the guise or platform of the NFL. It is disrespectful, it is disgraceful, and it is sickening.

So I say, don't like America, hate America? Stand up, or pack your bags and don't let the door hit ya on the way out. I’m sure one of the countries I mentioned above would be glad to have you.

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com









Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Internet



I know most everyone is going ga ga over the eclipse that is set to split America for the first time in ninety-nine years. People are in a frenzy scrambling to get their hands on last minute “solar eclipse glasses” on Amazon and all kinds of online retailers. I however kind of wish it were an eclipse of the Internet that was on its way instead.

Why because in my humble big fat Greek opinion, something special has died and I just have to get it off my chest. Social media on the Internet has gone from something totally unique that connected people in way it never had before in history to one big giant commercial advertisement. Which leads me to the following thoughts. (WARNING: Greek Girl rant about to ensue)

Dear facebook,

If it’s not broke, please don’t fix it. Now I can imagine that all of the millennials over at corporate headquarters get twitchy and itchy if they don’t have something new and innovate to keep changing. However, here’s a request straight from one of your millions of users… please stop. Because, we the everyday users don’t actually don’t “like” it (no pun intended… well, maybe some).

Here’s an idea, how about we change the term “social media” to “social advertising”. Because the spark of genius that was the magic of Facebook has died. The brilliant invention that enabled a person in Timbuktu to connect to a total stranger, musician, business, blog, or what have you in East Jupeepee no longer exists.

It has been replaced by advertising. So Joe Blow in Timbuktu will no longer organically see a post from a person, musician or, business in East Jupeepee unless that person, musician, or business pays to have Joe Blow see it. This is how technology went from a stroke of brilliance to a nuisance.

Thus more and more people are disconnecting from social media altogether. Sad, but it is true. All of that just so Facebook could go public and increase profits. I suspect that in the long run Facebook will eventually go the way of Myspace. Haven’t really seen or heard of too many people itching to hop on MySpace and check out the latest meme (just sayin).

Since when did the average person have to have a rocket science degree to admin his or her own Facebook business, band or musician page? And I’m not just saying that because I have a head injury (really I do have one, but all kidding aside) I was on Facebook for like two hours the other night configuring, or shall I say, “trying” to configure the apps on my musician page.

Somehow the Instagram got disconnected and the Twitter again for about the third time in a month… I reconnect it, then it disconnects without my knowledge. Next thing you know, Facebook posts are not posting to twitter and so on.

Here’s a shocking bit of information for Facebook to consider: not everyone has a “social media manager” on staff operating their account. Now I can imagine that you all love to talk techie and swap ways to “innovate” and improve the “user experience”; however as one of the millions of users, seriously, please stop. It is beyond obnoxious every time we get the hang of something and figure out where in God’s name you all hid the button to operate a tab or function, you all flipping change it again. Honest to Pete… it’s lunacy.

It’s not “The Jetsons” and we’re not living inside a computer world (yet)… so please for the love of all that is left that is good and right in the world, STOP CHANGING THINGS!

Which brings me to my next gripe… Google. You all are just as bad. Seriously that film “The Circle” anyone seen it? Probably not because it didn’t do so well at the box office. I would bet the powers that be at Facebook and Google got together in a secret meeting and put the kabash on the advertising for that film. It is a frighteningly accurate portrayal of what I imagine the corporate world of Facebook and Google to be.

Get this one: I am “not allowed” to post the link to my own songs on “iTunes” because it “violates Google policy, and is spam”? Seriously… HELLO Google, I’m an “Independent Recording Artist” which means, no record label paying for songs to be promoted on radio, film, TV and lets not forget to be actually SEEN by my own followers on Facebook. Followers who clicked the “like” button of their own volition, meaning they wanted to actually see what I am posting. (Not only when I am paying you to show it to them) If posting my music on my own page (that people sign up to follow mind you of their own will) is “spam” then what in the heck in the world is the point of being on social media at all?

Besides the fact that Google is just as bad as Facebook when it comes to changing things. It’s like a bunch of techie minions sitting around in Silicon Valley trying to figure out the most outrageous way to keep people confused. They change things even more than Facebook, and good luck trying to figure out where and what they did with a feature when they do. Since when did a person need a college degree in Computer Programming to manage their Google and Google plus accounts? Sheesh.

Lets not even get into YouTube (the left arm of Google – and when I say left I do mean left) censoring videos for monetization that it politically disagrees with. How’s that “free speech” thing working out for you all… hmmm? Profanity is allowed to run amuck all over YouTube, and Facebook will allow a livestream of a GANG RAPE and even a MURDER. But boy oh boy… you best not post anything that conflicts with a left leaning ideology… whatchout.

What on earth? HELLO can anyone say Orwell? Holy bananas batman, it’s seriously getting beyond absurd. No wonder people are leaving social media in droves, and unplugging from technology all together. Can’t say I blame them.  

Thus my suggestion to change the name from “Social Media” to “Social Advertising”. Better yet, make that, “Social PAID Advertising”.

Stepping off my soapbox now. That’s all… carry on.  Enjoy the Solar Eclipse wherever you may be watching from (and don’t forget your glasses).

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo

 







Monday, June 19, 2017

Beachbody

Jack LaLanne



It's that time again. The official start to summer is just day's away, time to get buff for the beach. Time to break out the Bikini, skinny jeans, tank tops and all the fun clothes made for people with the body of a Greek god or goddess. For some this is what comes to mind when they hear the word "beachbody".

I would like to put a different idea into people's noggins. Yes "beachbody" is a word often associated with the things I mentioned above. However, it is also a company that helps people literally transform their lives for the better. (No this is not a paid review). I just know that this time of year can be stressful with unrealistic images bombarding people on a daily basis. It puts unnecessary pressure on people to be fitter, and it can be confusing to sort through all the information and programs available out there. Many people have injuries that have made physical activity difficult if not impossible sometimes. So, I would like to offer a little insight into my experience as a beachbody customer since 2002.  

It all started with Slim in 6 with Debbie Seibers, a program put out by Beachbody. I've always been active and loved exercise. At the time I had been working out with Tae Bo by Billy Blanks for about a year and I wanted to try something new. So I ordered it and loved it. Then I discovered Tony Horton and the original P90, oh what fun that was.

I have always been fascinated by the fact that people who exercise and eat right look so young. Tony Horton at the time was about forty-four and he looked no where near it. I was thinking wow if this guy looks so young and healthy this program is definitely something I want to try. To this day he still looks nowhere at all near his age, and like one of my other fitness heroes Jack LaLanne, he has continued to defy the norm, giving a new face to what the human body can and should be at a particular age.

Anyway without going off into a novel of my fitness journey over the last fifteen years, the point is that there are always options. Since that time, Beachbody has produced countless programs for nearly all fitness levels. Almost every program has modification options, which makes "excuses" for not putting your health first obsolete.   

I have many fitness heroes, some not even affiliated with Beachbody. I love Jillian Michaels, Jackie Warner, and I also really like the Firm fitness programs. Not every body is the same and even the same body will not always need or like or even be capable of doing the same program forever. Which is why it is important to always stay in the game no matter what is going on with your body. It's not about getting a ripped hard physique (although I'm guessing everyone would like that). It's about being the best possible you that you can be. To get and stay healthy and strong so you can enjoy life to the fullest. 

Injuries happen to the best of us. Slips, falls, work, overuse injuries, accidents, you name it. For me it was two close dated car accidents. People with herniated disks simply should not jump, period. So that takes things like running and plyometrics training off the table. Does that mean you can't exercise? No, it simply means you modify your workout. So for example; if you're doing a workout program like say 21-Day Fix (which is not an extreme program by any means) but there are jumping jacks, etc., what do you do? You modify the jacks, by doing step jacks instead. Almost every program will have a modifier doing the workout so you can see exactly what options are available if you are not able to jump or do the advanced version of a particular move.

There are so many options, walking, yoga, pilates, one workout program I particularly love, love, love, (did I say love) is Piyo created by Chalene Johnson. Piyo combines yoga, and pilates, and gets your heart rate up like crazy. It sculpts, and stretches your body and you feel like a million bucks after a workout. The best part is no jumps, no weights, so it is fantastic when traveling. Which by the way, is a major excuse people use for skipping workouts.

The thing is you can make excuses or you can make results. The choice is up to you. There are super short workouts, even as short as twenty minutes. Everyone has twenty minutes. Endorphins really are God's medicine. Exercise is good for your mood, and really should be something you do every single day, just like brushing your teeth.

So what are you waiting for? Get to that phone, computer, or iPad, and find out what you      like and get started on that beachbody ;o) or shall I say healthy body. One that will carry you into your golden years if you treat it right. Remember the saying... use it or lose it. Happy working out!   

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com