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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What if Children's Artwork Could Reverse the Literacy Crisis in America?

Thought for the Day: This week I heard about & the Art4Literacy Project. I decided to help them by creating a one minute What If? Wednesdays video. The clip presents a creative organization's plan to impact the education crisis in this country. They hope to bring literacy & opportunity to America's "New New Poor," the 65 million intellectually & educationally impoverished children of the United States who either cannot or can only barely read. Take a look & see how they plan to use children's artwork to reverse the literacy crisis in America. Any thoughts, ideas or suggestions for the Art4Literacy project will be forwarded to them. Let me know if you have a "What if?" dream project that you would like to have featured in this blog. Have a great Wednesday & see you on Friday for #FF Friday's Fabulous Finds & on Saturday's Songs for the Soul!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Throwback Thursdays: Updated Motivational Mondays: Better Than the Oscars Breaking News: Katy's Coming Home

Katy on Feb 25th 2013
Katy today!

Thought for the Day: On February 18th & 25th 2013, I reported on a 5 year old's journey to receive a heart transplant. (in case you missed the earlier posts, a link to the 1st post & the entire 2nd post are included below) Since then there have been ups & downs as Katy, the young rockstar adjusts to her new life with a healthy heart. She & her parents have spent several stays in the hospital adjusting medications & taken short trips. In a recent blog post Amiee, Katy's mother, wrote about a trip to Storyland in NH. In the past when they went somewhere, they felt they had to do everything they could, in case there might not be a next time. This year, they were able to say, we'll do it next year, knowing it will be possible. When I got the picture above, I thought you would likean update on Katy's progress. Rockstar Katy is back in her ballet costume taking classes at Catch the Funk Dance Studio. Here's what the dance studio wrote on their facebook page:  

INSPIRATION, DREAMS and LOTS OF LOVE have come together to bring you... KATY MURPHY RETURNS!

Yes, it's the return of the super-duper dancer-love-of-our-lives - KATY MURPHY!

As many of you may remember, Katy had been a dancer at Catch The FUNk in our 2012 recital/season - and she has always been AWESOME! Her heart was not so optimal...and she waited for a new one SO patiently (her parents/family too!).

SHE GOT THAT HEART and it's pumped her right back into the FUNk!!!! YAY for her, YAY for us and I wanted to deliver this happy ending to everyone at our studio!

Thought for the Day: Last week many people viewed the post about the March for Change & 5 year old Katy's heart transplant. Since so many people were interested, I decided to post an update on Katy's recovery. I had planned to post her parent's update from  February 21, 2013 (below), but while watching the Academy Awards, I heard even more exciting news than the Oscar winners achieving their dreams, so I changed the post a bit. Katy will be discharged tomorrow & the family's new normal will begin. I added yesterday's post from Aimee (Katy's mother) at the end of the earlier post. I know Katy is loving all the amazing photos cards she has received so I decided to change the intro to this post & add the good news that Katy will be coming home tomorrow.

It is inspiring to hear how Katy & her family are rising to the challenges they have been facing throughout Katy's life. We all can learn about the psychology of resilience from people who face adversity, find ways to cope & then support others by sharing their experiences.  It also can help other families struggling with the delicate balance of raising an emotionally healthy child despite the serious medical concerns they must face daily. If you have an inspiring story, I would love to hear it. If hearing about Katy & her family helps you with your challenges, it may help someone else with their issues. So feel free to comment & share this with people you know. Over the next year I will post updates from time to time here on my blog. Here is what Katy's parents posted on their website about what the future holds for Katy:


It has been 1 week since Katy received a new heart. 5 plus years of waiting, endless moments of worry, tears, joys, sharing & friendships – 5 years of wondering what type of life we would have had “if things were different” & at times, what type of parents we would have been. There were times when out of necessity Katy’s illness defined the direction our family took, but if you’ve followed our journey, it never defined our lives. Now, that door is closed. Katy has her heart and the question of “when” has been answered.

And if the expression holds truth, now that one door has closed, which door will open?

Because so many have been on this journey for do long, there is some natural curiosity as to what happens next. And because of the outpouring of support, it seems impossible to allow any of Katy’s Rockstars (that’s all of you (those following the website)) to simply walk away from this page & from this story without knowing “What comes next?”

Below is the first of series of Q & A’s with Mike & Amiee. As the weeks & months pass, we’ll continue to share Katy’s story, & pictures of her thriving with her new heart.

Thank you all for the love, the prayers, & for sharing your joy with us over her miracle.

Q. When can Katy go home?
A. (See update below) Katy will leave the hospital sometime before Feb 26. The day Katy is discharged depends on when her first cath/biopsy is it could be as early as Monday the 25th or as late as Wed the 27th Katy will be discharged the following day.

Q. That seems soon! Does she just go home & get stronger?
A. It feels soon, but it’s under the care & management of her team & she must adhere to rigid protocol. When Katy returns home, she will return to a completely clean & virtually sterile environment. For the first 12 weeks after discharge, Katy will wear a mask every time she leaves the home or someone comes into the home outside of immediate family. She will be expected to make 2 visits weekly to the hospital & is expected to have upwards of 30 separate procedures including multiple echo cardiograms heart biopsies & catheterizations. Constantly watching for rejection. Drug therapy will be Katy will be coming home on 18 different meds & will be given 21 doses of meds per day. Katy's rejection meds will need to be monitored & levels checked twice weekly to ensure she is being given enough immunosuppressant to keep her body from rejecting her new heart.

Photo from Katy's friends from Dance School
Q. Are there risks with going home?
A. No. We will be able to control the germs in our home environment. Good hand washing is a MUST. We will be in our "bubble" until spring.

Q. Now that Katy has a heart, if she totally fine? Will she be able to do everything someone with a “regular” heart could do?
A. Katy is not totally fine... the first year will be long & we will constantly be watching for rejection. We as well as her team of doctors expect Katy to go on to live a full life. She is excited to head back to school and dance & even start soccer this year.

Q. Does the donor family know who received her heart? Can you thank them?
A. The donor family does not know who we are... I believe at six months although it may be 1 year we can write to the donor family to thank them & let them know about Katy & how thankful we are for their choice to donate during their grief. UNOS will then pass the letter on to the donor family & they may or may not choose to respond. We are absolutely open to meeting them & expressing our gratitude although I am not sure words will ever be able to describe how thankful we are & how we are grieving for them & their precious little one.

Katy's brother, Patrick
Q. How is your son?
A. Patrick is doing great. He is such an easy going wonderful little man. He is being spoiled rotten by his Auntie & grandparents & has handled this separation better than any of us could have hoped. We miss him like crazy... but think that this is better than the back & fourth we had originally planned.

Q. What are you most looking forward to?
A. I am most looking forward to finding our new normal. Mike & I whether we knew or not have been living in constant fear of losing our little girl for the last three years. That kind of fear takes it toll. We are looking forward to watching Katy grow & thrive & go to Kindergarten. We are looking forward to transitioning back to work, being a "normal" family. Sleep... sleep will be good!

2/24/2013 from facebook:
Katy is doing great and I still can't believe we are looking at discharge on Tuesday. I know many of you want to know what we need and what you can do to help. I have updated the Be A Rock 4 Katy Amazon Wish List (its pretty boring... but all things we will need as we will now be full on germaphobes) Please do not ever feel obligated to purchase something your thoughts and prayers mean so much to us. Just thought I would share since it is impossible to answer each and every kind email and message. Thank you to all who have made a cash donation. It will be very helpful in getting us through the next few months. We love you and could not have done this without you. Much Love, The Murphys

In addition to the wishlist site, you can help the Murphy family using either of the ways below:

& direct gifting to:
Be a Rock For Katy
The Savings Bank of Wakefield
357 Main Street
Wakefield, MA 01880

Join me on Wednesday for my What If? Wednesdays series where dreams can become possible.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday's Songs for the Soul: Halleluyah

Thought for the Day: It's Saturday & I usually do not post on weekends, but today I am posting. Tomorrow would have been my brother Larry Bogdanow's birthday. I have written about my brother several times since he passed away in June of 2011 (February & in June of 2012). As a psychologist, who has helped people deal with grief, I know that anniversaries, birthdays & holidays often are tinged with sadness after we lose a loved one. Knowing this makes me intentionally do something to remember & celebrate the life of the person I am missing. I was not sure what I would do & decided today to give Larry a musical tribute. Larry shared my love for music & introduced me (& all his friends) to new music that he discovered by making & sharing CD mixes. When I find great new music I will share it here on Saturdays in honor of my brother. Unconsciously last Friday, I may have picked & posted a glass harp instrumental rendition of Leonard Cohen's Halleluyah. I shared this song, performed by Jeff Buckley & other, with Larry multiple as he lay in the hospital, both when he was conscious & hopeful & after he slipped into a coma. Just as food sustains the body, music sustains & heals the soul. Larry lived his life & brought joy to others every day. I hope that these musical Saturday posts will bring you joy as well.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday's Fabulous Finds: Olivia Newton John, Tell Your Story, & Easy Ways To Support Causes

Thought for Today: This week my posts have focused on helping a child who received a heart transplant, encouraging people to support reasonable changes to gun control laws, & my personal science fiction fantasy of how our world community might respond if aliens invaded our planet. Since today is Friday it is time for my Friday's Fabulous Finds. I decided to bring you a mixed bag from Olivia Newton John on depression, to ways to make the planet greener, easily voice your opinion & tell your story to Washington DC, & easily start or support a cause you are passionate about.  I'd love to hear your thoughts & hope you will share your discoveries. Let me know if these things are helpful & what else you would like me to help you find to make a difference in your life. Have a wonderful weekend.

1) My first find is an article about Olivia Newton John, an actress that three generations will remember as Sandy in the 1978 musical Grease
with John Travolta.  What many people did not know until now is that the star has dealt with multiple challenges in life, breast cancer, divorce, the disappearance of her partner of nine years & her daughter's battle with an eating disorder. Whenever a star talks about how therapy improved their lives, it helps others overcome their concerns about trying therapy. She found both therapy & the use of anti-depressents as a way to gain the strength to heal & deal with things. Thank you Olivia Newton John, not only for your beautiful musical voice, but also for speaking up about depression & the importance of therapy.   -->|heroes|dl19|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D272235 

 2) Those of you following my blog know that I have been advocating for sensible changes in the laws surrounding gun control & increased mental health services both in schools & with adults in our nation. This week, I learned of an easy way to tell your story & to voice your opinion to your senators & congressmen. Although it is a non-profit supporting Barack Obama's policies, they want to hear from you & all citizens as they design new more sensible programs. Take a look. It only takes a few minutes for you to  share your stories, thoughts & ideas.  -->

3) My third fabulous find,
-->One Million Acts of Green, (@omaog) empowers people to make a difference to save our planet (close to 4 million actions have been taken worldwide since it's launch!). It suggests & supports all sorts of actions you can take from creating your own actions & content, to joining groups, or getting inspired by celebrities. 

-->The fourth fabulous find: Causes is a website that was "built for change." They offer "free & easy tools for passionate people to spread the word, find supporters, raise money, & build momentum."
Their "goal is to help you reach yours." They help you by offering nine templates that you can customize "ranging from a boilerplate petition to a page designed to capture video views - to fit your aspirations & drive towards lasting, real-world impact. If you're not ready to lead a movement, browse through some of the most popular actions to find one that could use your support."

So in case you feel like aliens have already attacked our planet & you want to make a difference, here are some resources that can help you change the world. 

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What If Aliens Attacked Our World?

Thought for Today: My imagination took me to a strange question today. I tend to avoid science fiction, but somehow my What If? Wednesdays series led me to wonder what would happen if aliens attacked our world? Would we unite as one human race to protect our planet?  Are we already being attacked by alien like transgressions? Take a look at this short video & see what you might do.  Are we all too busy to take some time to make a difference? Together, I believe we can. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you have any suggestions for additional What If? Wednesdays posts? Let your imagination take you to whatever "what if" questions you would like to explore. I hope you will come back Friday for Friday's Fabulous Finds.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Motivational Mondays: How to Heal Broken Hearts: Sandy Hook Promise & a 5 Year Old Heart Transplant Recipient

Katy (Rockstar) Murphy at Boston Children's Hospital
Thought for the Day: Last week on Valentine's Day I joined thousands of concerned citizens on a March for Change. I planned to write about my experiences at the rally today. It was a powerful day which brought tears & calls for action by parents & siblings whose hearts were broken by gun violence but whose spirit is unshaken. They vow to help make changes in gun laws to prevent events like those that happened two months ago in Newtown CT. In the interim, since Valentine's Day, I learned of another family's journey from a broken heart to hope & healing. I decided to tell both stories in this post with a request to support both endeavors to heal broken hearts.

      The first part of how to mend broken hearts began at the March for Change Rally in Hartford CT. The signs were powerful in & of themselves.  The one above sums up for me the most important reason to take a stand. Our constitution promises: "Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness Life Comes First."  On the right, the poster reports that, "There have been 1,774 gun related deaths in the 2 months since the Sandy Hook Tragedy. "The third sign says, "Who in your life would have to die from gun violence before you would want to see gun laws change?"
     To see thousands of people, men, women & children from around CT  taking time on a Thursday morning to take a stand, many for the first time in their lives, against gun violence was encouraging. There were "Newtown Moms for Change" & children climbing on snowdrifts demanding change now & signs saying that, "Enough is enough."
      The speakers, however, brought home both the urgency & the challenge ahead of every citizen who backs the need for rational reform of the laws surrounding guns in our nation. Veronique Pozner, mother of Noah Posner, who at 6 years old was the youngest of the Sandy Hook shooting victims, told of how her young son would ask her questions that at times she did not know how to answer him. Her young philosopher asked, "If God created the universe, who created God?" This young child lost the opportunity to grow up with his twin sister & best friend who now fears she "will forget the sound of her brother's voice." His mother vows not to let people forget her son & to make sure laws are changed to help prevent losses like these from happening.
     Jillian Soto, sister of teacher Victoria Soto, who died protecting her students, also spoke of how proud her sister would be that she & others are taking a stand against gun violence. She forced back tears as she spoke of how she feels robbed of sharing a life full of Christmas mornings, weddings, births of children, the children she hopes to have not having cousins, or their aunt & not growing old with her sister who was her hero long before the tragedy. Jillian asked the audience "to think about the five most important people to you. What if you wrote those five names down on a piece of paper, handed it to me, and I crossed one of them out. How would that impact you?”
     Finally, we learned from our state officials, including Gov. Dannel Malloy, Republican Senate Minority Leader John McKinney who want to do what is right & make necessary reforms (tighter ban on assault-style weapons, a limit on high-capacity ammunition magazines & the creation of a universal background check system). However, those who want reform must speak up & contact their elected representatives. The gun lobby is sending one hundred letters to every one from those who want change. For our elected officials to do what they feel is right, they need to hear from those who want change. If your heart, like our country's heart has been broken by the increasing gun violence & you want to make changes, take a stand & speak up.
     The second story on how to mend a broken heart came to me from my daughter, Lee, via facebook. She asked me to share a post on my facebook page, since there are close to 1000 fans & hundreds of pages following my page. When I read about 5 year old Katy who has been waiting for over two years & living with a life threatening heart condition since she was born, I knew it was important to share. I offered to share it on twitter, facebook & my blog as soon as possible.  Here's what my daughter wrote:
Katy sitting up in the hospital after the operation
"Mom, I am wondering if you can share this link to give to Katy (Rockstar) Murphy on your Wake Up and Dream Challenge page? Katy is a 5 year old girl who received a new heart on 2/13/13 at Children's Hospital in Boston. Katy's mother, Amiee Sullivan Murphy, is a friend of mine from Bay Path College (where my daughter completed her BA & is completing her Master's Degree in an intensive program on Saturdays).  Both Aimiee & her husband have lost their jobs due to the demands that taking care of Katy has put on their time. There is a 30 day on-line fundraiser where people can help the family with medical expenses. No gift is too small, even if everyone gave $1 it would make a world of difference. On the fundraiser site there are links to Katy's Facebook group, the Murphy Family blog & the "Be A Rock For Katy" fund webpage where people can get more detailed info on Katy & her condition. It would mean a lot if you would be willing to post this on your page to try to get Katy's story out too as many people as possible. She truly is an amazing little girl."
To view a video from WHDH Channel 7 Boston about Katy click here:

or  on WBZ TV Boston click here:

I hope you will take action & help. We can all write & make calls to our elected officials to help prevent broken hearts. Any assistance you can give to Katy & her family will help her heal. ( We cannot bring back the children who have lost their lives to gun violence, but we can help Katy have the life she & all children deserve. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

#FF 3 Gifts: Music, a Children's Book & Life Via Facebook

Thought for Today: It's Friday & time again for my fabulous finds. This week's finds are all gifts. The first brings the gift of heavenly sounds of music on the glass harp. My second find is of a giveaway offer of a children's book, Amazing Matilda, by Bette A. Stevens. Steven's book has synergy with my book & philosophy. It encourages children to overcome obstacles & reach for their dreams. Grab a free copy for children you wish to inspire! The third find tells the story of giving the gift of life to strangers via a facebook page. I hope you like these finds & share them with your friends & family.
        Yesterday, I took part in the March for Change Rally in Hartford & plan to share some of the motivational stories & experiences next Monday, so be sure to come back for my Motivational Monday post. If you have ideas or suggestions for my What If Wednesday posts, please share them with me. All comments are welcome!

1) It has always been amazing to me that musicians can make such awesome sounds from glasses of water. Both pieces are favorites of mine. Leonard Cohen's Halleluyah makes me appreciate life every time I hear it. This version is performed by a street musician. Thanks to Erica Joy on Google + for posting this:

Erica's post led me to wesley chun's (On Google +) suggestion of Tchaikovsky's Dance Of the Sugar Plum Fairy (a piece I listened to & danced to over & over again as a child) is performed by The GlassDuo of Anna & Arkadiusz Szafraniec. They are the only glass music group in Poland, one of few professional ensembles worldwide.

2) My second fabulous find is a new children's book, Amazing Matilda, by a facebook author friend of mine, Bette A. Stevens.  It reached #59 in Amazon's top 100 children's books & #4 in the top 100 butterfly books in the Kindle Store. Amazing Matilda does for children, what The Wake Up and Dream Challenge does for adults. It inspires kids to meet challenges with patience & persistence. The heroine of the book, Matilda, becomes discouraged when she is unable to fly during the early stages of her metamorphosis. But, Matilda never gives up on her dream. To see a lovely short video about the book click the video on the below.
You can get a copy for FREE from February 17 -19 on Kindle:

3) My third fabulous find is a story by Shakthi Jothianandan on Huffington Post about how one person, Leah Hostalet & a facebook page, Find a Kidney Central, have helped save 38 lives. Her efforts are giving hope & support to countless others dealing with kidney failure:,,20673541,00.html?icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl27|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D270690.  "Everyone who is in need is so supportive of one another," says Hostalet, "The community feel to the page brings me such joy." 

Have a wonderful long weekend!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What if Wednesdays: What If An Hour Could Change Your Life?

Thought for the day: Last November, a new educational program called Udemy contacted me. They wanted to know if I would be interested in developing an online video course that students could download & complete on their own schedule. Udemy's goal is to: "help students make moves. Whether you want to get promoted, break into a new industry, start a company, further a passion, or just accelerate your life, Udemy helps you learn from the amazing instructors in the world, so that you can get there and get there faster." They are making news in The Wall Street Journal, Business Times, & Forbes who see them on the cutting edge of education adding ipad & mobile phone apps.

      Since I want to help people make moves & accomplish their dreams, I liked Udemy's approach & felt honored to join best selling authors & professors from around the world. It required recording lessons & developing downloadable assignments. I took a look at the courses they offer & decided that it would be possible to develop an abbreviated course based on techniques taught in my book. Since I had developed seminars for my tour last summer (Dreams On Wheels VI: Tired but Inspired, V: Report from Richmond, IV. On the Road, III: Olympic Dreams), developing the content & assignments for the course would not be a problem.

     However, videotaping & editing the course would be challenging for me. I can do the simple videos for this What If Wednesday blog, but filming & editing down an hour's worth of short video clips (There are 18 2 - 5 minutes videotaped lessons in the course) was beyond my level of expertise. Therefore, I searched for a film intern. I was fortunate & found Emma Debany, who happened to be coming home for Christmas break in Connecticut.  Emma did an amazing job on a very tight schedule & today I am announcing the launch of the course, How to Jumpstart Your Life in an Hour. Take a look at the one minute video above to hear more about it or check it out at

      Let me know what you think!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Motivational Mondays: How to Avoid Valentine's Day Blues

Thought for the Day: Whether you have a Valentine or not, many people struggle with Valentine's Day blues. Jon Stewart used this fact to poke fun when he said, "Happy Valentine's Day! And if this is news to you, my guess is you're probably alone." Today's post will offer some ways to avoid the depressive symptoms that may arise when things are not going the way you hoped for on Valentine's Day. As a psychologist, I have helped clients deal with all the challenges of relationships. Personally, after going through a divorce many years ago, I gave a lot of thought to the challenges of being single & meeting partners in a world filled with couples. Today, I am sharing some of the insights I learned over the years to keep from letting Valentine's Day get you down. As always, I'd like to hear your reactions, stories & comments. I'd especially love to hear about your worst & best Valentine's Day experiences.

     Sixteen years ago, I could have had a bad case of Valentine's Blues. I had been single for about a year and a half. In addition to my psychology practice, single parenting, writing songs, & dancing as exercise & social networking, I ran a small business helping single dancers find partners. The dance business was a pre-internet based resource for dancers. Although I did not run dances, I decided to try to co-sponsor a dance in NYC on Valentine's Day. In 1977, it fell on the Friday before President's Day. When plans to meet a friend from Texas fell through due to a winter storm warning, I had no other plans for my Big Apple escape. Therefore, I had a long weekend ahead with just the Friday night event. I was staying at my brother & sister-in-law's in Soho, but they were leaving the city Saturday morning.
      The dance Friday night was disappointing & I was beginning to feel a bit down on Saturday morning. However,  I vowed to take advantage of a weekend in the city that never sleeps & not to slip into the Valentine blues. I searched the Village Voice & the New York Times for activities. I chose a number of things that I knew would make it an enjoyable weekend. I had a massage in Chinatown, lunch in Soho, & a matinee of the movie Shine (see video clip from the Oscar winning performance by Geoffrey Rush), at the Angelica Film Center. I picked up dinner at one of the grocers near Greene Street & ate at my brother's loft. For the evening, I chose a Beau Soleil concert at Tramps (which closed in 2001). Since the band plays Cajun dance music, (in 1986 they were featured in the movie, The Big Easy) I hoped I would be able to dance. Just in case, I did not get to dance, I chose a late ballroom dance event for after the concert.

My daytime activities were great. When the evening started, I was not sure I had picked well. I was seated at a small table with an unhappily married woman who confided that she was on a blind date. Her date's muscular tattooed body was a bit intimidating. However, I like Cajun music & even had a tape of a song I co-wrote called, The Zydeco Swing, in my purse. I was hoping I would find a way to get the tape to Michael Doucet, the leader of the band (They played backup for Mary Chapin Carpenter on the crossover country hit, Down at the Twist & Shout). My table mate asked me to join her on the dance floor since she was a bit uncomfortable with her escort! On the floor, we stood near a small group of friends, 2 men in wheel chairs with their girl friends & their friend, Jerry, who was there without a date. Jerry & I began talking & dancing. He was a NYC special education teacher & a good dancer (I later learned that he had never done Cajun dancing & simply picked up the 2-step naturally that night.).  One of Jerry's friends, Mark, was a DJ for a small Long Island folk & blues radio program. Mark was lined up to interview Michael Doucet, during the band's break! Jerry asked him & Mark agreed to give my tape to the band leader! Jerry & I stayed for the 2nd set after his friends left. After the concert, Jerry walked me back to Soho where we had a 3 AM breakfast at Lucky Strike. Little did we know it was our lucky strike & we have been together ever since.

So, what are the lessons you can learn from my Valentine's Day experience. I was lucky, but the lessons apply whether you meet someone or not. If you are single, often you will meet someone when you least expect it. Here are some tips: 1) Make plans to do things you enjoy. Whatever happens, if you choose well, you will have a great time. You are also more likely to meet people with similar interests.
2) Speak with both men & women. Meeting new friends is always helpful. Having friends to go out to events with when you do not have a date, can be a huge asset. They may have, siblings, cousins or friends for you to meet. If you like them, you may like their friends as well.
3) Don't be afraid to go by yourself to events. Celebrate your freedom to do whatever you feel like doing without having to consider anyone else. You can meet someone anywhere & when you are alone, you are more likely to speak with & be open to meeting new people. Choose events where people might interact, museum talks, dances, or a class.
4) This year it's easy to find a dance. All week you can sign up for One Billion Rising to raise awareness & stop violence against women. Events are happening all over the world (see my #FF Friday's Fabulous Finds post for details). Women & men, who care about women, will be dancing all week!
5) Starbucks has offered a buy one get one free coupon till 2/14/2013. Get a coupon & offer to share it with someone at Starbucks. You never know who you might meet over a free cup of coffee!

Use this as an opportunity to repair things
If you are in a relationship, Valentine's Day holds different challenges. If you are getting along, the biggest danger lies in disappointments due to unspoken expectations. Take some time to talk about & plan your Valentine's Day. Do you hope for gifts or cards as part of your holiday? Do you want to be surprised or will you be disappointed if your partner's plans are less than you expect. No matter how long you have been together, your partner cannot read your mind. Take some time to discuss what you want your plans to include.

If your relationship has been rocky over the last few months, Valentine's Day can be even more challenging. However, it can also be an opportunity for a peace offering. Write a heartfelt letter expressing your wish to improve your relationship starting with Valentine's Day. Plan a getaway & surprise your partner. Visit the place you met or frequented when you were dating.

Now it's your turn please share your best &/or worst Valentine's Day stories.  Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 8, 2013

#FF: Professor Rap, Jane Fonda, Table Talk & Juggling Parenthood

Thought for the Day: I love the internet. It exposes me to new things every day. This week was no exception. My #FF Friday's Fabulous Finds this week include: two videos about a Professor, I happen to know personally, from Tufts Medical School who uses Rap to teach students about stem cell research, a world wide Valentine's Day Dance with Jane Fonda leading the way to stop violence against women, questions to facilitate communication with your children & an article with questions a five year old might ask their working mother about juggling work & motherhood.

1) My first Fabulous Find was a video,, from The Boston Globe about Jonathan Garlick, A Tufts University professor who uses Rap music to teach students about stem cell research. I've met Jonathan socially several times while in Boston & never suspected his hidden talents. The 60 year old professor has earned a reputation with his students as the Stem Cell Rapper. I have included not only the Boston Globe article, but an earlier YouTube video (above) that went viral. He is an educator who is literally breaking down a difficult subject & communicating his message about the importance of stem cell research to young people in a way that they will remember.

2) My second Fabulous Find for the week  brings together multiple areas of interest for me. I have been a fan of Jane Fonda for many years. Her acting skills, outspoken ability to speak her mind even when her beliefs are unpopular, candid sharing of her personal problems & support for feminine causes are some of my reasons for respecting her. I have heard her speak twice & spoke with her briefly each time. The first time, I learned about her early painful years in Connecticut. I had not known that Ms. Fonda spent years in therapy trying to make sense of her mother's suicide when Jane was just a toddler. I also heard how years after Jane had taken on the cause of helping women victimized by rape, that she learned that her mother had been raped. So I was hooked when I saw that Jane Fonda was sponsoring this massive event: V Day Until the Violence Stops, But my excitement did not stop there. The event involves another of my passions, dancing, to help promote the cause. They call it One Billion Rising / Strike /  Dance / Rise! Events are happening around the world & anyone (including men who care about their mothers, daughters & wives) can join in the world wide flashmob experience. Take a look, find an event over Valentine's week near where you live & join the movement!  -->

3) I discovered my third find on Google+. This blog post by +Stefanie Mullen suggests 10 questions a week for Table Talk with your children: This week's post is number 37, but you can check previous weeks. On the blog you will find great ideas for conversation starters with your kids like: 8. If I had to dance or sing in front of your friends, which would be less embarrassing for you? or 10. If I gave you one rule free day, which rule would you most be excited to be free of? It's never too early to start speaking with your kids about all kinds of topics so that they will feel comfortable speaking with you as they enter the tough teen years.

4) I picked the fourth article because of the unique perspective the author (who was doing a guest post) Leoarna, known as Not different but Interesting on Babyhuddle took of trying to ask questions her 4 going on 5 year old might pose if she interviewed her mother about the juggling act of being a working mother. The questions & answers may resonate with the working parents among you .

Hope you enjoy these finds as much as I did & that you will share these with your friends. Have a wonderful weekend! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What If: Politicians Asked Like Ed Koch & We Took the Time to Answer?

Thought for the Day: On Friday, the world lost former Mayor of NYC, Ed Koch. I was fortunate enough to see him at Lincoln Center at a screening of the new documentary, Koch, just two weeks ago (on the link to this event is a clip of the Q & A at the January 13th screening I attended). Although he was physically frail & came to the event in a wheelchair, he began lively informal discussions with the audience before the screening in the lobby. He proudly walked from the wheelchair onto the stage after the film screening for Q & A. His responses were lively & as entertaining as he was earlier in his life. The movie is a very well made film giving insight into both Koch's often controversial style of leadership & the history of NYC. As I prepared the short video (less than a minute) for my What If Wednesday series, I was struck by the question, What if all politicians followed Ed Koch's example & asked, "How am I doing?" & we all took the time to answer?

What do you think would happen? Would we have the same stalemates in Washington? Since psychologists have found that social action is related to feelings of an internal locus of control, would we feel more in control of what is happening in our country? Would we be more motivated to get involved in politics?

From the documentary, Koch, with the city he loved
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts & comments. Let me know, "How am I doing?" The best ideas & suggestions for future "What If Wednesday" posts will be shared in later posts. So please let me know what you think.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Motivational Mondays: America the Beautiful Bringing Hope to America, New Orleans, & Newtown

Thought for the Day: Since I only started this series last week with the post Manic Mondays, I decided to take one of my followers suggestions. Instead of Manic Mondays, Monday's posts will be either Motivational Mondays or Milestone Mondays. Motivational Mondays will offer tips to reduce stress & start the week on a positive start. Milestone Monday posts will discuss important events or holidays that happen on that week. I will post great photos that I find like the stunning one above by +Ken Ohsawa from G+ as well. You can check his profile out on Google+.

This week, I had planned on writing tips on stress management. However,  when I opened my computer & saw the video above of Jennifer Hudson and children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School singing America the Beautiful at the opening of the Super Bowl yesterday, I changed my mind.

First, I have a confession to make. I did not watch the beginning of the Super Bowl. I am not an avid football fan, therefore, I was driving when the Super Bowl began. I watched later in the game, saw some amazing touch downs, Beyonce's extravaganza at half time, the black out & the rest of the game. While watching, I was working on the Motivational Mondays photo & began to organize my thoughts for today's post.

This morning when I saw this video, I realized that I missed the best part of the Super Bowl. It was inspiring to see the players moved by the song as they swayed, some with their hands over their hearts or on a child's shoulder & sang along. It was even more powerful to know how much having the Super Bowl in New Orleans was helping a city still overcoming the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Whether you missed this powerful rendition of America the Beautiful, which represents the resilience of a nation coming together & rebuilding, or if you saw it yesterday, it is worth watching again to motivate you this Monday morning. It was a major dose of positive psychology for a nation in need of recovery. I applaud the producers of the Super Bowl for making such an inspiring statement. Hopefully, it will help us to remain focused on the conversations that need to happen that will lead to reform & creative solutions to the problems that face our great nation (see my earlier posts: Dear Mr. President: Help Us Make Right Something So Wrong, Five Ways to Give Meaning to a Blue Christmas, & What If? Wednesday).

Last week I used the song Manic Monday by the Bangles to give you some suggestions of ways to weave your dreams into your week staring on your 1st coffee break. How did you do with that assignment? Did you discover a dream that you want to start working toward? Spend some time on your coffee break to revisit your dream & see whether you have been making room for it over the last week. I'd love to hear how you are doing with the assignment!

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, February 1, 2013

#FF: A Beautiful Teen, Working Parents/Bickering Kids, Job Creation & Les Mis

Thought for the Day: TGIF! It's time for my Friday's Fabulous Finds. I am loving the wide array of topics I can cover in one post on Fridays & hope you like my selections, too. Today, I bring you a wonderful post by a beautiful teenager who went out of her way to try to help all the students in her school; a working mother who shares her frustration with the bickering that arises at the end of her "professsional" work day and the beginning of her private work day with her children bickering on the way home; recognition and call for support of a great nonprofit organization that helps create jobs, and the film Les Miserables. Let me know your thoughts & have a great weekend!

1) This week's first #FF Friday's Fabulous Find was written by a sixteen year old, Ashley Monroe, from Massachussetts. Her post is featured in a blog on the Huffington Post Teen. Ashley was upset last year when she kept hearing her peers put themselves down & decided to do something about it. She "wrote out 1,986 sticky notes. Each said, "You're beautiful," and (she) stuck one to every locker in (her) entire school." I applaud Ashley for taking the time to help her peers feel better about themselves, in a world filled with stories of bullying and prejudice, this post is a breath of fresh air, a innovative positive psychology experiment by a teen! Take a look & see the reactions to her efforts.

2) The 2nd Fabulous find of the week is a post from a blog called Stickers, Stars & Smiles by Helen Neale who describes her job as "professional juggling - well sort of."  She is the "mum of two minis who inspired her business, PT analyst helper, FT chaos avoider... (who) runs the printable reward charts and chore charts business from home in her *spare* time." This post describes the witching hour when tired working mothers leave work and pick up their kids who start to bicker. I commented that, "I love this post, since it is so brazenly honest." The trials & tribulations of working parents trying to transition from “work” to their second job, parenting, are also spelled out clear as day. I also like the way that the font, even on the comments has the look & feel of writing in a daily journal. If you are a working parent & want to feel understood & get some tips from parents in the same boat, take a look at Helen's blog.

3) My third Fabulous Find is about an issue that our nation needs all the help it can get: job creation. The news came to me an e-mail from Martha Rollins, founder of Boaz & Ruth, a nonprofit organizations featured in my book. (I have written about & posted a video (see above) of one of the graduates of their program in previous blog posts.)  Martha told me that Boaz & Ruth, based in Richmond VA, has been noticed nationally and has been selected as a finalist  in the JobRaising Challenge, "an innovative competition to help job-creating nonprofits raise money and publicity. The Skoll Foundation, The Huffington Post, and knowledge partner McKinsey & Company have selected the most innovative, feasible, and scalable candidates of the 210 applicants representing 31 states and 110 cities across America." Boaz & Ruth has been invited to share in a national 'harvest."  The organization that raises the most will receive an additional $150,000.  I hope you will read more & help Boaz & Ruth win that prize. 

4) I'm adding a fourth Fabulous Find today. Yesterday, I went to see Les Miserables.  I had seen the musical years ago and although I love to see Broadway musicals, I often do not like the movie versions. I had heard good things about Anne Hathaway's performance & like to see films that have been nominated for the Oscars before the awards are doled out. If you have been reluctant to see this film, do not miss it. The first scene was the only one that did not work well for me, from then on in, it was amazing. I have a feeling that it will not only have a long run in theaters, but will become one of the greatest classic films ever made. The acting is superb and hard to believe given that the characters are singing, not speaking. I have not seen all the nominees, but I believe there will be several Oscars given to this film.

Have a wonderful weekend! See you next week!