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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Would You Stop Running a Race to Help a Competitor?

Seth Goldstein, Last Place Winner

Thought for the day: What would you do? Would you stop & help a competitor while running a race or run on like the rest of the pack? Are we running past people in need without even realizing it?

Today, I saw a story about a 17 year old Tennessee High School senior, Seth Goldstein, (pictured above) who was running a cross country race when he saw another competitor drop to the ground. He was the only runner in the race to stop to help the student from another high school. He called his parents & had them dial 911. He kept his wits when he saw that the boy was bleeding from the mouth & turned him on his side so that he would not choke on the blood. When the runner began to have a seizure he held him, told him he would be all right & reassured him that help was on the way. After the paramedics came, he stayed till he was sure the boy was all right. Then he asked if he could complete the race. The paramedics had not even realized that the young man was in the middle of a competition. He came in last, but he in my mind is the real winner of the race.

We all would like to think that we would stop & help someone in a similar situation, but don't really know until a situation arises. As I thought about this incident, other less obvious situations came to mind. Several of my posts have addressed the psychology of bullying & bi-standers who do not step forward to help someone being bullied, even when they disapprove. Our lives at times become like races. We run from place to place, taking care of work and family obligations. In this day & age, when people are anxious about their jobs or unemployed, the race becomes even more hectic. As we run the race of life, do we sometimes pass by those in need of assistance? When we hear about a charity or a worthy cause, do we feel too poor or too busy, with our own troubles to help someone with greater needs than our own. Working with the nonprofit organizations featured in my book and others I have been supporting since writing my book, I know that many nonprofit organizations are struggling to raise funds in these tough economic times.

Over the past few months, I have written about some of these amazing organizations that help people reach for their dreams. Most recently, I posted "It Takes A Cell Phone To Raise a Child," a call to register your cell phone to help keep children, disabled & elderly citizens safe from harm when they go missing. A Child Is Missing has facilitated the safe return of over 1,000 missing people. It does not cost a penny, just some time to give them your number. Did you stop your race to register your cell phone? In another post I raised the question of whether social media is leading to social inaction. Another post talks about two organizations using dolls as therapeutic tools for homeless children & children struggling with Cancer.  In another post I wrote about, Simon's Fund, another organization featured in & benefiting from my book, helps screen children for otherwise invisible heart conditions that can be life threatening if they are not detected. Voices Against Brain Cancer is working to try to end a disease that is taking so many people. My list goes on & there are many others.

I hope you will be inspired by Seth's selfless act of caring for someone in need & stop to take some time to read about these organizations & find a way to help them. If you can't afford to donate money, donate some time. I am building teams of volunteer interns to help. Let me know if you would like to help with social media or other activities.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It Takes A Cell Phone To Raise A Child

See How Your Cell Phone Can Become Part Of The Village & Help Save Lives!
Thought for the day: It used to take a village to raise a child. Today, it takes a cell phone to raise a child.

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure to finally meet Sherry Friedlander, founder of A Child Is Missing.  I have spoken to Sherry & worked with her remotely for about two years.  A Child Is Missing is one of the amazing Dream Nonprofit organizations featured in & benefiting from my book. Visiting their headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale gave me a new perspective on the dreams that Sherry's organization is fulfilling & it's future goals & aspirations. 

Sherry Friedlander with Dr. Lavi in Ft. Lauderdale
The new office is not fancy or spacious, but it is filled with a dedicated staff that is on call 24/7 protecting every child (including Autistic and Down Syndrome), disabled or elderly person (often with Alzheimer’s) in the United States of America. It is the modern day village helping to keep children safe. When I arrived, I was taken down a short hallway decorated with walls of pictures of Sherry with famous supporters of her mission from Barack Obama to Senators Orrin Hatch, Utah; Robert Menendez, NJ; Rep. Steve Chabot, Ohio;  Rep. Ted Deutch, FL;  Senator John Cornyn, TX; Rep. Allen West, FL;  Former Rep. Ron Klein, FL;  State Reps. Sharon Beasley- Teague, GA;  Barbara Ballard, Kansas to name just a few. In a small office with a computer, I was given a demonstration of how the missing person alert system works. As soon as a call comes in from a police department from anywhere in the United States, information is collected about the missing person. The person on call enters information about the missing person into a sophisticated computer program which generates an alert that includes their description, what they were wearing & where they were last seen. The computer produces a map & can facilitate a phone call to 1000 phone numbers per minute within a specific radius of where the person disappeared. They have made over 1,196 safe assisted recoveries at present.

I'd like to share with you two critical pieces of information that will help you become part of this modern day "village" & help save lives that I learned yesterday:

1) DON’T WAIT! You should not wait to call the police when someone goes missing. The sooner you notify the authorities, the better the chances of finding them safe & sound.

2) Register your cell phone & YOU CAN  HELP SAVE LIVES!  I learned that this amazing network needs everyone in the United States help. The system was developed before cell phones began to replace ground lines. As people switch from ground lines to cell phones, A Child Is Missing needs access to cell phone numbers to call in an emergency to help find a missing person. If a child, elderly or disabled person goes missing your cell phone might help find them.  You have to opt in with your cell number. Just go to www.achildismissing.org and register your cell phone number. You can help save a life.

You can also support A Child Is Missing's dreams to expand the village by buying The Wake Up and Dream Challenge. Go to this link & when you check out, put the words, “A Child Is MIssing” in the comments section. On half of the profits will be contributed to A Child Is Missing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Growing Pains of Motherhood

A Mother's Role Is Always Changing

Thought for the Day: If "built in obsolescence" is the goal of being a mother, how can mothers deal with the growing pains of being successful & watching their children grow into adults who no longer need them?

Yesterday,  I visited & spoke with the amazing founder of Museum of Motherhood visionary, Joy Rose, who is also the founder of Mamapalooza. Conversations with Joy are always stimulating. We talked some about the growing pains of being a mother when your children grow up & start living on their own which inspired me to write this post. As parents, we know much more about our children's than our own growing pains. We spend our lives nurturing our offspring, helping them adjust as they grow & development. We obsess about when to ween our infants, how to potty train them, or help them get over nightmares. We work hard to ease their entry into the world. We help them deal with stranger anxiety as infants, fears when they start school & advise them with their struggles with social acceptance or with bullies. We hold the line & control our tempers as we try to guide them through the turmoil of adolescence

As mothers, we become specialists at easing our children's way through all the stages of growth, but rarely look at our own growing pains. Even as mothers have been claiming & accomplishing their own dreams, they may not take time to look at the impact of their own growing pains at each stage of their child's increased independence. Instead,  mothers seem to find creative ways to multitask & make space for all their children's needs as they make space for their own. They become experts at juggling schedules, carpools, work & marriage.  If you are a mother, have you ever taken the time to address your own growing pains? Who do you talk to when you feel stretched beyond your comfort zone as your role as a shifts & changes?

Although a lot has been written about the impact of "empty nest syndrome" on couples' relationships & how that often coincides with the stress of midlife crisis on marriages, very little seems to address the impact of the identity crisis for mothers (or stay at home fathers) who have successfully launched their children into adulthood.
Each Age Brings It's Challenges

What it means to be a "good enough" mother (or parent) is constantly changing as a child grows. (I use the term "good enough" to avoid the mistakes that psychology made in the past of blaming mothers for any & all of their children's problems. Psychologists are now careful to make it clear that we strive as parents to do a "good enough' job since there is no such thing as perfect parenting to strive for, but that is the topic for another post!) When a child is born, being a "good enough" mother means focusing exclusively on the infant's needs for food, shelter, warmth, & nurturing. When the child starts to crawl, mothers need to learn to give them room to explore while making sure there are no dangerous items within their reach. When a child goes to school, if mothers continued to focus on the child 24/7, it would be seen as being over-involved & stifling the child's independence. In adolescence, a mother needs to give her children even more room to grow & make their own mistakes while still providing structure & rules for some semblance of safety. As the her children go off to college, mothers need to shift their role again, hoping that the core lessons they have taught them will keep them safe & help them make wise life choices. The premier of the TV show Parenthood had a touching story of the painful process of letting go when one of the characters leaves for college. At each stage, mothers worry & try to influence their children, but let go of more & more control of their children's lives.
What Happens When You Become Obsolete?

A friend once told me that in her mind a mother's role is to have "built in obsolescence." If you do your job well, your children will out grow the need for you to do things for them. They will know how to clean up after themselves, do their own laundry, cook for themselves, pay their bills, have healthy relationships & build an independent life. That does not mean that they will never need to consult with you or see you, they simply will be able to run their own lives. However, did anyone ever prepare mothers for the growing pains that go along with launching your children into the world & becoming obsolete? Sure there is the joy of having more time for yourself & your own needs, but there are & will be mixed feelings at every stage of the game.

What I said to Joy is that I believe that the growing pains are a built in mechanism to help mother's cope with the inevitable changes that every mother will feel as her children grow.  The growing pains however can lead to an even richer relationship at each stage of a child's life. The transition is painful, but can lead to even richer relationships with your children at any stage. When children are younger we share the growing pains with out spouses & get our parents' advice on how to deal \with the painful transitions.
Mothers Have Their Ways To Stay Connected

When children are grown, we can share the feelings with them. By sharing them, we can work on enriching our relationships with them in the new frontier of an adult relationship with our children. Motherhood is a job for life. We can't resign.  Even when our children are grown & independent, mothers are mothers forever, & we only get one (although some of us are luck enough to get a step-mother who can fill the role in a unique way). Our role shifts & changes according to our children's growing & changing needs.

When our children grow up however, an even richer relationship can develop. In the best case scenarios, it becomes more like a very special deep friendship & bond, in which children support their mothers & mothers support their children more as equal adults. If you are lucky, (it does not always happen, even with "good enough" parenting),  when you have sown the seeds throughout a child's life,  you reap the benefits. In adulthood, that happens when children are connected to you & include you in their lives & in their children's lives not because they need you, but because they want you to be there. It does not always happen, but when it does, it is one of the most rewarding experiences for both the mother & the child.

I'd love to hear your thoughts & experiences with maternal growing pains.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What Do Michelle Obama & Book Publishing Have in Common?

Regardless of Your Political Persuasion the Obama's Have Served as Role Models for All Wake Up Dreamers
Thought for the day: At the #DNC Michelle Obama gave an inspiring speech. She may have stolen the show for the entire election campaign. While listening to her speak, I started thinking that she should run for president. She is a shining example of how hard work & education can lead to accomplishing your dreams. The primary goal of her speech was to support her husband & his dreams. However, her genuine desire to help all people reach their dreams has been evident in her tireless work with veterans & fighting obesity in children over the last four years. As I work on my ambitious goals to help others through my book, I have been humbled by the amount of work needed to accomplish my task. Michelle Obama's dedication to lending a hand to those following in her footsteps aspiring to reach their American dreams inspired me. I decided to write about the at times overwhelming task of book promotion & share with other writers some of what I have learned over the course of the last couple of years.

Every writer is a dreamer. Just to write a book requires imagination, courage, perseverance & a leap of faith. Even in this age of self-publishing, with the help of the internet & social media, getting a book out to the world takes determination & hard work. When I began this journey, I knew it would not be easy. In addition to working on completing the book, I began developing a website, Facebook fan page, Twitter following,  LinkedIn account & this blog. I have had the help of three Dream Teams of interns. Along the way I have met, either virtually or in person, over twelve thousand people. They include, psychologists, authors, photographers, film makers, journalists, bloggers, housewives, veterans, & people from all races, religions & socioeconomic levels who finds my message inspiring. I am especially grateful to all the writers who have shared their knowledge, tweeted & posted about my work. I'd like to give back to them in this post by sharing some of what I have learned about the massive task of marketing a book.

Before I share some tips on social media, let me tell you about where I was a little over a year a half ago. When I began this process, I was a passive observer on Facebook. I had a personal page, but I tended to simply click through the posts & rarely made a comment. I didn't think anyone would be interested in what was going on in my life & was afraid as a therapist to share anything personal. Nothing in my life seemed worthy of writing about in a facebook status update. Twitter was an even more foreign concept to me. I had attended an EWN (Entrepreneurial Women's Network) workshop in Norwalk, CT about the use of twitter, opened an account & never did anything with it for over a year. To me it seemed silly that people were tweeting about where & what they ate for dinner. On LinkedIn, I had a partial profile, but only a handful of connections. I was afraid to reach out to anyone I did not know well on LinkedIn fearing that I would automatically be ejected from the site. I had tried to blog a few years before, but when the program on my website started to malfunction, I gave up. I did not think I had enough to write about on a regular basis.

Today, I have over 9,000 followers on 3 twitter handles: @WakeUpDreamNow, @DreamNonProfits, & @PostTweetDreams, almost 600 fans, 247 friends & a couple of thousands of pages that like me on Facebook, over 500 connections on LinkedIn & over 12,000 pageviews on this blog since it's inception last January. In addition, I have a presence on YouTube, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest & Klout (score = 60). Surprisingly, given my passive observer stance less than a year ago, I actually enjoy social media & blogging immensely! What happened? I think the change in my attitude toward social media was gradual, but here's some of what I have learned.

Remember Sharing = Caring!
Tip #1: Don't be afraid to speak up on the social network sites. Join the conversations! Once I began to overcome my reluctance to share my thoughts & opinions, stopped lurking & observing, social media became an amazing networking opportunity.  I don't share the mundane activities in my life, but I do comment, share, like, tweet & retweet things that I believe are important. I support other authors, nonprofit organizations, & causes that I care about. The more I support & share, the more people support me. I have met & interacted with people from around the world whom I would never have encountered without the help of the social networks. If you are a friend of an aspiring author, take note, help them out by sharing, commenting & liking their posts, too.

Tip #2: Join & participate in groups that are interesting to you. On Facebook & LinkedIn there are a myriad of groups to choose from, join them & start interacting with new people with similar interests. From those groups, I discovered some amazing resources for therapists & authors. On Links For Shrinks, I have met wonderful therapists from around the world. They have discussions about therapeutic dilemmas as well as support & critiquing of facebook, twitter & blogging. From those groups & discussions, I have met writers from Psychology Today, professors from prestigious colleges & other creative thoughtful therapists whose ideas give me food for thought & for my social media posts. From the authors groups & discussions, I have discovered the WorldLiteracyCafe.com a treasure chest of resources for aspiring authors & curious readers looking for great books by aspiring new authors. The authors I have "met" through this network help one another by sharing & tweeting about book signings & other events. They often teach one another about marketing, offer guest blog spots & share writing resources. You can use search words to help you find the people & groups you wish to follow on Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter.

Tip #3: Pay attention to people's profiles on Facebook & Twitter, follow their links to their websites & you may discover other resources. Recently, after getting my book onto kindle on Amazon.com, I began paying attention to Twitter handles related to ebooks. I noticed one connected to a website called AuthorMarketingClub.com, they offer an array of free marketing resources & tools for authors including: A review request system where you can put your book in front of readers who want to read & review your book; a thriving community of authors willing to share their marketing tactics & lessons, & failures; helpful advice & resources for new & experienced authors alike; and, specials & offers for discounted services to help you publish your book.

Tip #4: Mind your manners. When someone helps you, acknowledge their support & return the favor. Social networking is not that different from other social situations. We learn as children to say, "Thank you," when someone does something for us. On the social networking sites, it is important to say thank you as quickly as possible. If they share something that you have posted thank them. if you see something that they have posted that you think your followers will appreciate, share it & let people know how you found the information.

In short, the more you give to others, the more you will get in return from those you meet. I'd love to hear your stories about people you have met via social media. I will share more stories about my encounters in subsequent posts.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How a Motorcycle Accident and A Fire Rekindled a Dream


 
How a Fire Engine Rescued a Restaurant & Became a Dream On Wheels
Thought for the day: Sometimes adversity helps us rediscover & reinvent dreams we thought were impossible. Here’s a story of how a dream was rekindled by a fire! If this story reminds you of other similar ways that adversity lead to the resurrection or creation of a new dream project, I’d love for you to share it, since it may inspire others & help them find creative ways to reach their dreams.

I must admit, living near NYC has spoiled me. It is easy to find great restaurants just about an hour from home without paying an arm & a leg. However, in Fairfield County CT finding good food at an affordable price is a challenge. Whenever we find one, it closes within a year or two. Jerry, my fiancĂ©e, & I have been keeping a running count of good down-to-earth affordable restaurants in Fairfield County that we have loved & lost over the last couple of years.  So far we are up to about 20. It seems that the overhead in CT is high & the economy is tough. Around here, people seem to be willing to pay for atmosphere & food that is overpriced & inferior to reasonable establishments in NYC, but will not frequent the less expensive simple restaurants. It is also hard to find places that stay open late since many people commute into the city & go to bed early.

We discovered a relatively new brick oven pizza restaurant on Blackrock Turnpike, near Fairfield Cinemas at Bullard Square in Bridgeport CT about 2 years ago. Although we often avoid pizza since it is high in carbohydrates & fat, this one was different with thin crusts & healthy unique toppings. We ate there before & after a few movies & were happy to have found a new restaurant.

Late one night, a year & a half ago, we were on our way there after a movie when we saw that the entire street was blocked off by fire engines in front of the restaurant. The fire had occurred earlier in the day. The entire building was virtually demolished. Fortunately, no one was hurt although there had been some close calls.

To our dismay, we assumed we had lost yet another good restaurant. After I heard they planned to rebuild, whenever we went to the movies in Bridgeport, we would drive by to see whether they had reopened.  A sign on the window said it would reopen six or seven months ago, but each time we went, we saw no progress.

A few months ago, we drove by & to our surprise saw a fire engine parked on the street where the restaurant used to be. By the truck, there were some tables & we realized they were selling pizza. At closer inspection, we saw that the fire engine had been retrofitted with a brick oven. The sign on the truck said “Fire Engine Pizza Company.” We stopped & had some of the best pizza I have ever tasted!
Marty McCarthy by his Fire Engine Pizza Oven

With my new iphone in hand & the positive experiences I had doing psychological research about people’s dreams on impromptu interviews on the Dreams On Wheels 2012 Tour, I decided to go back & find out more about how this new creative business literally rose from the ashes in the midst of a recession. I interviewed Marty McCarthy, one of the owners of the restaurant, that burned down a year and a half ago & of the new catering business housed in a fire truck.

When I asked him to tell me about his dreams, I learned that this was not the 1st time he had overcome adversity. Marty had been a volunteer fireman for many years as well as a restaurant manager. He had always dreamed of becoming a professional fireman. A week before his physical exam to become a fireman in 2001, a motorcycle accident & a shattered femur ended his fire fighting aspirations. About a year later he opened his 1st restaurant.

When the fire destroyed his newly opened sit down restaurant, he “tried to make the best out of a bad situation.” He still loved firefighting & always wanted to own a fire engine, but the only way his wife would let him buy one, was if it made money. He designed & had the brick oven built inside the fire engine. On weekends, they will be selling pizza on the street until the sit-down restaurant reopens in a few months. During the week, & after the restaurant reopens, they will take the fire engine to birthday parties & corporate functions as a catering business.
video 
Although I recorded the interview on my iphone, most of it simply won’t download to my computer (note to self, learn more about your iphone). The clip above, is Marty’s advice to people working on their dreams when challenged by financial, medical or other problems.

What’s your dream? Have you rediscovered older dreams like Marty did, when adversity struck? I’d love to hear your stories, please share them. They may help someone struggling to see how to accomplish their dreams. Thanks!