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Friday, April 27, 2012

Flashback Tuesday: Part III: Paying It Forward Deep in the Heart of Texas

      Today I decided to repost a blog that I wrote in 2012, since it highlight the story of a Veteran, Higher Ground's recreational therapy program & paying it forward. All week you can purchase a copy of the Wake Up and Dream Challenge with a discount (today it is 40% off tomorrow it will be more expensive, so the sooner you download the book the bigger discount you will get). Every time someone buys the buys the book on Amazon 1/2 of the profits will go to Higher Ground, so you will be helping honor our veterans & wounded warriors. (You do not need to own a kindle to download the book. Using Kindle's free cloud reader you can download it to your computer, ipad or smartphone.) You can also send it as a gift to friends.

Pay it Forward The Movie 2000 with Helen Hunt & Kevin Spacey
Thought for the Day: Yesterday was Pay it Forward Day. On Wednesday, I took part in a special 2 hour live radio program Paying It Forward with Josephine Geraci to celebrate Pay It Forward Day. I was one of multiple entrepreneurs included in the show who are paying it forward in their businesses, including Catherine Ryan Hyde, author & founder of the Pay It Forward movement. The book became a movie in 2000 starring Helen Hunt & Kevin Spacey. You can download & listen to the radio program & be inspired. How have you payed it forward? Has someone payed it forward for you? I would love to hear your stories.

After I left Camp Young Judaea TX last Sunday, I stopped to buy water at the 1st gas station before I got onto the highway. When I went to pay, a man in line told me I could go first. I was not in a hurry & at 1st did not understand why he let me check out before him. He was leaning against the counter, with his shirt unbuttoned & his hand against his chest. It was 90 degrees outside & the man, who already had what used to be called a healthy tan, appeared to have the start of a sunburn. I asked if he was all right. He told me he was having an angina attack, but he would be OK. He said, "I've had them before, but I left my medicine at home. I walked too much today." I asked if he needed a ride. He said he would appreciate it & offered to pay me gas money. I told him there was no need to pay me anything & offered to take him to a hospital if he felt it was necessary. Since he lived close by, I asked the cashier who had been listening to our conversation, if he knew him & whether he could vouch for him. The cashier assured me he knew Joe & it was fine for me to drive him home. (If I disappeared, the cashier would know where to look for me!)

Joe also had an orange tree (more like a potted plant) that he had been carrying with him in the scorching Texas sun. He put the plant in the back seat & we began our journey. As he reached into his pocket, I told him again that there was no need for him to pay me. Instead, he pulled out his Veteran's ID card to let me know he had served our nation. He also apologized for having the smell of alcohol on his breath since he had taken a drink to help ease the pain. As he directed me to his home, a shack with a "roof that needs fixing,"  he told me he felt lucky to be able to rent it for only $415 a month.

When we got to his place, he asked if I would mind praying with him. When I agreed, he asked if he could hold my hand. He thanked Jesus for getting him home safely & then he prayed for my safe return home. When I was a child, I would mouth the words of Christmas carols thinking it was against my religion to sing words that were not my religion's beliefs, but I felt honored to be included in Joe's prayer. When he got out of the car & took his orange tree, he stumbled a bit & told me that he has neuropathy in both feet.

I felt I had done the right thing & may have saved Joe from having a heart attack, but was most touched by his prayer for me. When he showed me his Veteran's ID, I started to tell him about Higher Ground & the great work they do to help veterans, but stopped myself. Instead, I am sharing this story with you & I hope that it will inspire you to pay it forward & help a veteran.

In War there are no unwounded soldiers
There are too many veterans, like Joe, living with multiple physical & invisible wounds on below poverty level incomes. As the T-shirt in the above picture says, "In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." I don't know if Joe has an alcohol addiction, but he does have a heart condition & appears to have diabetes. He can't afford a car in a place where there is virtually no public transportation. He is a proud man who is getting by with very little & thankful for what he has. Joe & all our veterans deserve more. Programs like Higher Ground use recreational followed by three years of vocational therapies to rehabilitate our war heroes.
Recreational Therapies provided by Higher Ground

You can Pay it Forward by buying a book which supports Higher Ground. When you finish reading the book, donate it to a library, encourage your friends or book club to do the same. Happy Pay It Forward Day. Let's make it 365 days a year!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Part II: Somewhere Over the Rainbow in the Winds of Texas

Amelia Samet Kornfeld Memorial at CYJ
Thought for the day: For today's post, you will need a foreign language lesson. Hebrew, the language of the Bible, is a very rich language. I'd like to teach you two words. Many words in Hebrew have multiple meanings leading to endless interpretations of the Bible. Most people know that the word "Shalom" means peace, but it also means hello & goodbye. Perhaps this came about from wishing that people would go in peace & welcoming them with peace on their arrival. The second word I'd like to teach you today is "ruach" (pronounced with 2 syllables, rou - ach). It has four meanings. The 1st meaning is "wind." "Matzav ruach" mean mood with the additional word "matzav" or condition. Moods can change like the wind. In addition, it means two kinds of spirit: 1) the spirit as in "excitement" or "enthusiasm" & 2) when used as "ruach nefesh" it means a spirit like one's "soul." This meaning probably came from the wind or breath of life. Read on to see how these words can be helpful in dealing with the loss of a loved one.

You may be wondering why I'm teaching you Hebrew. As many of you know from my previous post, I went to Texas to visit my summer home-away-from-home at Camp Young Judaea in Wimberley Texas. What I did not mention in the earlier post is that going to camp was a family affair for me. My older brothers, Bill & Larry, went to camp for two years before I was allowed to attend. I was so envious of what I saw on visitors day that I begged to be allowed to attend. My 1st session at camp was the summer before my 8th birthday.  When my younger brother, Mike, was old enough, he too joined us at camp.

As I said in my last post, there was tremendous excitement about being at camp. It was not a tornado like in the Wizard of Oz, but I always felt swept away by the excitement. Whether it was music, dance, arts & crafts, there was the joy & excitement kind of ruach. They taught us Hebrew words at camp. A stand up comic at last weekend's reunion pointed out that we actually learned a lot of nouns. Although we really did not know how to connect the nouns, we thought we knew how to speak Hebrew. Unlike Hebrew school, at camp we loved learning the language, which seemed to come alive at camp. When I visited a sister camp in New York, Tel Yehudah,  several years ago. I was swept away by the ruach or spirit as well. What impressed me was to see teenagers excited about their heritage. The ruach lives on.

As I prepared to visit camp, however, I carried bittersweet sad moods as well.  This time two of my brothers were not able to come to the reunion. Bill passed away many years ago in his prime, as he was completing his Doctoral Degree. Larry, lost a battle with brain cancer less than a year ago. My friend Amelia, also was not there having lost a battle with brain cancer a little over a year ago. I had mixed feelings about being at camp without them there. However, I think my brothers & Amelia were there through the fourth kind of ruach, that of the spirit of their souls.

                                       Dori, Seth & Alyse  Dedication Ceremony at CYJ TX

Saturday was a windy day, but Sunday was a warm sunny day. On Sunday, there was a dedication ceremony of the memorial to my friend, Amelia. Her three, amazing adult children spoke about their mother & the significance of the interactive exercise equipment & walking path at the camp in her memory. As they spoke, children played on the equipment. We all knew that was something Amelia would have been thrilled to see. There was not a dry eye in the crowd that gathered to honor her memory. Somehow, as the Texas sun shined upon us, it felt as if she & my brothers were there with me, Mike & all of our friends who knew & loved them.  It was not the same, but it helped to acknowledge our sadness, in the midst of a joyous occasion. Their spirit will always be in the warm Texas winds, in the excitement & joy that camp provides it's campers & in my heart & soul.

If you have lost someone dear to you, hold on to their "ruach" & they will never be far from your heart. In time, you will be able to remember them with less sadness. I hope that when you hold on to their "ruach" that it bring you "shalom" as you carry your dreams & keep their memory alive.

As always feel free to share your stories of how remembering someone who has passed away before a holiday or joyous occasion has helped you process a loss. In my next posts I will relate the story of a war veteran I met on my way home from camp & ask for your help in giving back to a guidance counselor from Bellaire High School.

One of the versions of my book benefits The Amelia Samet Kornfeld Memorialat CYJ Texas. If you would like to purchase the book & donate to CYJ TX in Amelia's memory, you can find it on Amazon here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Over the Rainbow Deep In the Heart of Texas

                   PS22 Chorus Sings Over the Rainbow at the 2011 Oscars

Thought of the Day: The video above epitomizes how dreams can come true. The story began in a school located in the Graniteville section of Staten Island NY. The student body is composed of 78% black, Hispanic & Asian students. A chorus teacher, Gregg Breinberg, who the kids call Mr. B, started streaming videos of his chorus made up of mostly 5th graders on YouTube which went viral. The power of their energy, enthusiasm (which you can see in their animated faces) & amazing voices carried them all the way to the 2011 Oscars. A new documentary "Once in a Lullaby" will premiere at the prestigious Tribecca Film Festival in NYC. Most dreams don't come true when we are in 5th grade, but practice, perseverance & passion can pay off over time. Next weekend, I will be attending a reunion at a camp, deep in the heart of Texas, where I & thousands of others had our "Over the Rainbow" lessons in believing in our dreams & our ability to make a difference in the world. Who inspired you as a child to believe in your ability to accomplish your dreams? Was it a teacher, a camp, a parent, a song that helped you keep aiming towards your dreams? I'd love to hear what gave & gives you the strength to continue dreaming as an adult.

As I prepare to go home to Texas, I have been thinking about my second home when I was a child. I lived year round in Houston. I saw a bumper sticker once which said, "You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl." I was not what most people think of as the typical Texan. I did not grow up on a ranch. I never rode a horse to school. My family did not own an oil well. The closest I came to any of those things was to buy a cowboy hat & tell kids I did those things as a joke, when I went to camp in NY state as a teenager. I was amazed that kids would believe me when I told them those tall tales & quickly set them straight!

I grew up in the middle of a suburban neighborhood in Houston. I have pictures of myself as a small child on a pony dressed up as a cowgirl in a photo taken by a photographer who would go house to house with the pony. Probably every child who grew up in Houston has a photo like that one. You cannot, however, grow up in Texas & not become proud to be a Texan. The history of 6 flags over Texas is rich & inspiring. I was not, however, a typical Texan. Growing up Jewish in Texas was not easy. In elementary school at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, my family was the only Jewish family. When I was in 6th grade my best friend, Cory Stiles, told me I had ruined Christmas for her in 1st grade when I told her that Santa Clauses in department stores were not really Santa Claus. I was a good student, won the school's spelling bee contest, got lead parts in musicals, but also remember discriminatory remarks. During the year, I was different from all my classmates, I didn't go to CCD or celebrate Christmas or Easter.

In the summers, I was lucky to have a place where my "Over the Rainbow" experiences happened. At the time my home away from home was at Camp Young Judaea in Kerrville, TX (or CYJ). At CYJ, I was able to learn to believe in myself, my heritage, & my ability to make a difference in the world. Every child should have a CYJ in their lives. I remember the excitement I felt every year from the age of 8 till I was 17 & came as a counselor to camp. When the bus arrived, I would run from building to building. It was as if I was making sure it was all still there waiting for the magic to occur inside the bunks, dining room, swimming pool & assembly hall. After running around, unpacking & settling in with a new bunk with old & new friends, I also remember sharing personal stories with bunk mates. It did not take long before there were tears, laughter & bonding. It was all right to share your worries from home & then just be yourself. I excelled at everything I did at camp & tried new things. I was a leader in ways I never allowed myself back home. Somehow, the counselors & friends brought out the best in all the kids at camp. I was not the only one who felt this way at camp, we all did. There was one song that has stuck with me throughout my life called "You and I Will Change the World." We learned to respect differences, to fight for justice & to be proud that our Jewish heritage includes the responsibility to take social action. 

CYJ is now located deep in the heart of Texas, in Wimberley TX, & is celebrating it's 60th Anniversary. Alumni are doctors, lawyers, musicians, film makers, psychologists, educators & are strong supporters of the camp that helped them believe in themselves & their dreams. When one of my friends (who I met at camp when we were 8 years old) & fellow psychologist, Amelia Samet Kornfeld, zl., lost her battle with brain cancer a little over a year ago, I asked her husband what charity he would like me to feature in & support with my book in her memory. When he suggested CYJ, I was thrilled to include my "Over the Rainbow" place that did so much to strengthen my dream potential. (To purchase the book & donate 1/2 of the proceeds to CYJ click here.)

Did you have an "Over the Rainbow" place like CYJ as a child? Was it a camp, a drama club, or a chorus, like the one at PS 22?  Did you have a teacher, coach or mentor who believed in you & helped you learn to believe in your dreams? Do you have one now?  I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Hunger Games Parenting Nightmare or Opportunity?

                       Parenting Nightmare or Opportunity?

Thought for the day: I heard a story once about the difference between heaven & hell. In the story,  in hell there was a huge banquet table overflowing with food. The people seated at the banquet table had long spoons attached to their arms. The spoons made it impossible for the people to bend their arms, so they could not reach their mouths & feed themselves. The people at the banquet in this version of hell were all starving. In heaven, there was an identical banquet table. The people at the banquet table in heaven also had long spoons attaches to their arms, however, these people were not starving. The people in heaven had figured out that they could feed one another & they were all enjoying the bounty. Even when we are faced with difficult situations, we have choices.  The movie, The Hunger Games raises similar moral & ethical questions. What would you do if you were challenged by life & death issues? What do you want your children & teens to learn from movies like The Hunger Games?

Yesterday, I went to see the movie, The Hunger Games. It is not the kind of movie I tend to frequent. When I heard the story line about choosing teenagers in a lottery to fight to the death in a televised "reality show," I was anxious about the impact it would have on our youth. I went to see it to be prepared to help parents & teens in my clinical practice process this blockbuster movie which brought in $152.5 million[5] (USD) on its opening weekend in North America. I am glad I went & would encourage parents to see the movie before their children, so that they will be prepared to talk about the questions the movie will raise for their children. It does not need to be a parenting nightmare any more than the book, The Lord of the Flies which is taught in most schools across the USA.

The movie is a powerful critique of many things which are happening in our society. One of the characters says, "It's only a television show." It raises questions about how television productions can distort & sensationalize reality. Each of the "Tributes," children chosen as sacrifices to fight to death for their district, is taken to the capitol to be packaged, branded & prepared to try to get "sponsors" to support them. The 2 tributes from District 12, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) &  Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are followed as they try to survive & hold true to themselves & their values. Katniss volunteers to be a tribute to save her younger sister who was picked in the lottery. She then befriends & tries to protect a younger tribute from another district. She also protects Peeta from her district. The children & adults from the districts are trapped like sacrificial lambs. The parents in  are impotent & unable to protect their children. The adults in the opulent capital are portrayed as childish caricatures of adults enjoying the horrors as if they were at a Mardi Gras celebration. The leaders, like the character portrayed by Donald Sutherland are cynical, calculating, & controlling. They give minimal hope to the districts to keep them subservient.

Unfortunately,  in our world today, in Africa, Asia & the Middle East children are being used to fight in adult wars. Terrorist recruit suicide bombers among dissatisfied teens. In 2010, the United Nations started the Zero Under 18 campaign to help stop the deployment of children to fight wars. Throughout our world, even in the United States, human trafficking of children & teens is happening. Children are being abused, kidnapped & used as prostitutes. Organizations like A Child Is Missing, featured in my book, help protect children from being abducted or kidnapped. Although there has not been a Hunger Games TV show, we need to protect our children from the abuses of children in our world. The movie will bring up the uncomfortable, yet real questions of what you are doing or can do to protect children from child abuse & war.

The kinds of discussions that this film can provide are worth having with your children.  What could parents have done to protect their children? After one of the tributes was killed one district did try to fight back. How could adults help one another & fight back? What could the children have done to fight back? The time to protest is before dictators take over. Are there things happening in the world that we as Americans who have freedom can help prevent? Are we like the people in heaven or like those hell, failing to see that there are ways we can help one another?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

One Person Can Only Do So Much?

Thought for the day: On this holiday weekend what is your dream for the world? Spring is a time for rebirth. I hope that spring will help you to reignite your dreams. This weekend I have been thinking about freedom, change & the circle of life. What are your dreams? I hope you will share one dream here. As the simple edit above shows, one person's dreams can do so much to inspire others.

How often do you see the problems facing the world & feel overwhelmed? We are all busy living our lives, feeling we can only handle the demands of work & family life. When we feel this way, we think thoughts like the one above, "I'm just one person, how can I make a dent in the problems of the world?"

In 1983, I was a 3rd year doctoral student at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, I was one person stretched to what I thought was the max. I worked part time as an intern, part time as a fee-for-service psychology assistant at the Greater Lawrence Psychological Center, was a full time student & mother of three children. I was trying to complete my doctorate & had to choose a topic for my Doctoral project. I was leaning towards working on something that would build on my Master's Thesis, which looked at what helps children cope with bereavement, father absence & war. I thought it would make the project easier to accomplish within a year.

That same year, the television movie, "The Day After," aired. It was a powerful, disturbing movie which portrayed the lives of a family in Kansas the day after a nuclear attack. After I watched the film with my family,  I angrily asked, "Where are the demonstrations? Why aren't there protesters against nuclear proliferation like there were protesting the Viet Nam War?" My oldest daughter was a teenager.  With the biting honesty of a teenager confronting what she saw as hypocricy she asked, "Why aren't you doing anything?" I told her I was too busy, going to school working & running a household, but her question haunted me.

For those of you who have been reading my blog, you may already have noticed that often I sleep on or "dream on" things & awaken with new solutions to problems. After I slept on it, I woke up & realized that I could do something. I decided to use my doctoral project as a way to discover what was keeping people from taking action against the nuclear threat. I decided to create & study a technique to help promote discussion of this difficult topic & to help stimulate activism. It was harder than what I had planned to do since I was going into a new area of research, but it energized me. I felt more positive about the project & actually completed it in a timely fashion.  In addition, as a parent, I was modeling the kind of behavior I wanted my teenage daughter to emulate. Instead of telling her, "There is only so much one person can do," I was showing her that, "one person can do so much."

What is your dream for the world? What can you do today to start moving toward your dream? The 1st & most important step is owning your dream. Tell yourself what you want to accomplish & then tell others. Just conceptualizing it will help you begin to see how to fit your dream into your already busy life. In this day & age, it might be as simple as googling the issue & posting something on your facebook page every day. I'd love to hear your dreams. Have you ever felt like there was nothing you could do to change something & found a way? I'd love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Cyberbullying Facebook App: Like or Ban?

No, YOU Don't! Help Ban EnemyGraph

Thought for the day: Last night I got an e-mail from my friend, Denise Restauri. She sent me a link to an article she wrote for Forbes, "New Facebook App: What Are You Waiting for? Go Make Some Enemies!". She reported on a new Facebook App which enables making lists of your enemies, People & things you "hate." I read it & was outraged. I commented, shared it on Facebook & LinkedIn, I Tweeted in protest, & Google+ed it. This morning, I woke up & I realized I needed to do more & I will need your help with this one. If you want to help stop Facebook from promoting this APP,  please comment here. I will forward all comments to Facebook directly.

Denise's article tries to be fair in it's presentation of the facts about The site was developed in Dean Terry’s research group at UT Dallas' Emerging Media + Communication program by graduate student, Bradley Griffith, with assistance from an undergraduate, Harrison Massey. They say they developed it because, “Most social networks attempt to connect people based on affinities: you like a certain band or film or sports team, I like them, therefore we should be friends. But people are also connected & motivated by things they dislike. Alliances are created, conversations are generated, friendships are stressed, stretched, &/or enhanced.” They see “EnemyGraph as a critique of Facebook's social philosophy.

Denise also reports that EnemyGraph may have some fun elements.  She notes that, if the app were to be used just to list things & places we hate, it might not be so bad. If you hate beer & join other beer haters, for instance. I agree with Denise, I'd rather make friends on positive connections, but joining together over hating beer isn’t harmful. Unfortunately an app like EnemyGraph will not stop there.  As Denise surmises, it will give "bullies & people with a sick sense of humor a great way to bully & attack.  It’s another example of “Absolutely nothing good can come of this.”

If the developers thought this was cute or funny, they need to think again. It's potential could be deadly. #Cyberbullying has already been a contributing factor in #depression, #schoolphobias, & even #suicides among teens. We do not need a Facebook app to encourage #bullying, #discrimination & #prejudice. I have spent my professional life using positive psychology to fight the fallout of #abuse & #bullying on the mental health of thousands of my clients. If you want to help stop this app, please comment below & I will forward all comments to Facebook. Thanks!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Psychology of Social Media for Social Good

Thought for Today: The Psychology of Social Media is strongly connected to what I called the Psychology of Unexpected Adventures in an earlier post on March 23rd. Unexpected adventures bring joy & sometimes help us shift direction in life. Some people call these events serendipity, the law of attraction or fate, but I think it is something different. The March 23rd post led me to discover a wonderful new product capable of helping multiple causes. I'd like to share their story as an example of the connection between social media & the Psychology of Unexpected Adventuress. How has social media led to an unexpected discovery or adventure for you? I'd love to hear your stories.

I saw a very funny, touching film yesterday at the Garden Cinemas , in Norwalk CT. We try to see all the movies played at this wonderful 4 screen art house, since they show films you may not find at the bigger establishments. I knew nothing about the movie, but trusted that it would be good if they brought it. I was not disappointed. I had not realized that Susan Sarandan was one of the stars along with Jason Segal, Ed Helms, & Judy Greer in the movie, Jeff Lives At Home. I don't want to ruin the movie for you, but in one sentence, getting out of your normal routine often leads to unexpected adventures. Jeff's mother, Susan Sarandan, is worried about him & her one birthday wish is for him to buy wood glue at Home Depot & fix a wooden slat on a louvered door on her closet. Jeff sees everything as signs of his destiny. He follows all the "signs" when he ventures out of the basement to go to Home Depot.

Jeff, (Jason Segal) who lives at home & is going nowhere in life, but he is not the only onewho is stuck. All the main characters in this movies are dissatisfied with their lives in one way or another. His mother (Susan Sarandan) is working hard at a job, but is lonely & dislikes both her sons. Ed Helms plays Jeff's brother who turns to extravagant purchases to try to fill the void he's feeling in his marriage. His wife, played by Judy Greer, is having an affair. She is looking for someone to pay attention to her, since she feels misunderstood by her husband. Each of the characters change their normal routine on the day reported in the movie & have unexpected adventures. In the movie, we only see one day in their lives, so we can only guess & hope that the adventures lead to changes in their lives.

You may be thinking, what does this have to do with the psychology of social media? I have loved the internet since I first started using it about 12 years ago. I have been able to "meet" people through the internet that I would never have met in real life without this technology. When I started using twitter last May, I did so since everyone in the world of publishing seemed to think it was important. Personally, I thought it was a silly platform where people tweeted about what they were eating for lunch. By the end of the summer, my view of twitter was totally different. I had used the platform to build several thousand followers including NPOs, authors, musicians, psychologists, philanthropists, & journalists interested in social activism. I discovered some (@BlindJudo, @Elimin8Prejudic, @VABC & @MusicFromABottle) of the NPOs included in my book through twitter. Many nonprofit organizations found me.

On March 23rd, on this blog, I asked readers to share their stories of unexpected adventures in their lives. I posted a tweet to my now 7500 followers on three twitter handles (@WakeUpDreamNow, @DreamNonProfits, & @PostTweetDreams). Three minutes later, here's what happened:

WakeUpDreamNow: Are you open to unexpected discoveries & dreams? Amazing things can happen on the path to your dreams. See how... Link 8:31am, Mar 23 from Facebook
Eraselet: @WakeUpDreamNow Ck out how we followed our dreams and used our past to gv bk 8:34am, Mar 23
 (The only change I made was to update the links which were no longer active!)

With over 7000 followers, I had not read about Eraselet before this twitter encounter. When I read their story, I loved it & promised to write about it after last Thursday's event Wings of Change at which I was preparing to speak along with other authors, philanthropists, educators & NPOs dedicated to changing the world. 

Behind @Eraselet is Bryan Ricci, another person on a mission to help change the world. His story can give hope to anyone who is struggling at this time. At age 15, Brian lived on the streets of Nashville. He was sleeping under bridges. Brian hopped from couch to couch to survive. “I didn’t know what to do,” Ricci said. “And then one day … I had this crazy moment. I hitchhiked to California, got a job waiting tables & turned my life around.” Fast forward, 16 years & now Brian at 31 is married with children & working to help others avoid the path he took as a teenager.

His current unexpected adventure started when Brian's 10 year old daughter kept losing erasers. Brian's wife, Kimberly Ricci, says that, "knowing how kids wear all those bands & bracelets around their wrists, Bryan told her he’d make her an eraser she could wear like (a bracelet).’’ He invented a rubber wristband, called an Eraselet, that doubles as an eraser. The wristband can be used as a marketing tool to promote slogans such as “Erase Hunger.” For the Metropolitan Homelessness Commission, “End Homelessness.” So the once homeless father, has found a way to help others erase homelessness & endless other causes.

I believe that once we decide to make a change in our lives & start moving towards our dreams, we begin to make changes which lead us to unexpected discoveries & adventures. Whether we get out in the real world or the virtual world of social media, we begin to discover people, organizations & ideas that can help us move forward towards our dreams. It is not some magical process even though it may seem magical. When you are stuck & start doing things differently, it becomes like a chain reaction leading to new opportunities. I hope this post brings multiple new opportunities for Brian's wonderful invention & reaches as many charities as possible!

What discoveries & encounters have you had using social media? I'd love to hear your stories!