america is an idea

Book Description:

From a co-founder of comes this “Why?” story behind the massive social platform, empowr, that’s been in the making for fifteen years.
Learn exactly what drove the participants (founders, advisors, success coaches and 1,000 employees plus 100,000 alpha test users) in their gigantic moonshot project.
After meticulously discussing the “Why?” the author then delves into how empowr has been designed to exploit the exponential characteristics of the web – via its tightly-integrated democratic, economic and educational platform – to deliver opportunity to people everywhere.
The book reads like a manifesto and a manual. One can’t help but come away with newfound or elevated inspiration to dream big, take on their own moonshot project and make a massive difference on the planet.

My Thoughts:

As one who writes about personal finance this book was an absolute dream to read. I am offered quite a few books for review each year, but this book spoke to me more than any other I have read in a very long time. The author, Michael Pousti, discusses so many important financial topics in an effort to explain why he built, a massive technology platform that hopes to redefine the American Dream and deliver that dream to people via the Internet.

Pousti actually summarizes the first few chapters himself stating

  • First-world democracies are being hijacked by special interests and big money;
  • Educational systems are leaving students woefully unprepared to participate in the modern, global economy where only highly skilled labor jobs matter as software and automation replace low skill jobs;
  • Network technologies are making it much easier for single corporations to rapidly take over entire industries and form job destroying monopolies;
  • To add insult to injury, each structural problem is making the others even worse, leaving the human race completely unequipped to face the many complex threats facing humanity.

Does that sound down right frightful? That is nothing compared to the three core problems Pousti is most concerned about. The issues listed next may make your heart race. They are problems that should concern each and every one of us. They are:

  • Poverty and inequality
  • Terrorism and extremism; and
  • The backsliding and destruction of democracy

In the second half of the book Pousti explores each of these three topics in great detail. He shows us just how easily terrorism and extremism can rise in areas where poverty and inequality abound.

He states quite eloquently what we all know. “When people have nothing to lose in their current lives, extreme ideologies and promises of a perfect afterlife have a much greater appeal. This often makes them easy targets for groups with radical ideologies and seemingly simple answers to complicated questions… the key factors of poverty and inequality once again create monsters that can do almost immeasurable damage to their own countries and to the rest of the world.” This is certainly a frightening but absolutely true commentary on the Taliban and other terrorist forces around the globe.

I am not certain if empowr will be successful, but either way this book contained a lot of interesting information about the world, economics and technology and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Meet the author: 

Mike Pousti is the co-founder of empowr, a partnership between academia and tech entrepreneurs that’s attempting to deliver a democratized social media experience where the company is governed by its citizens.

Mike began his entrepreneurial journey when he founded his first start-up during his senior year as a computer engineering student at UC San Diego (UCSD). Employing 200 people and generating millions of dollars in profits before the age of 22, his company, Higher Educational Resources Corporation, developed the first commercially successful search engine on the Internet, known as the Arpanet.

His next start-up, Productivity Solutions Corporation, was acquired when he was 24 and two years later, Mike started, the world’s leading website for the 18-23 year old demographic.

After the dot-com crash in 2000, was acquired, and less than a week later, Mike started Phase 1 of empowr. empowr’s highly patented suite of technologies generated over $150M U.S. and today, empowr’s proprietary technologies are used by all major social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and Tumblr.

While Mike remains an integral part in the daily operations of empowr, he recently relinquished his CEO position and handed over control of the company to empowr’s citizens, who formally elected their leader (and new President of empowr) via a web-based election.

Connect with the author:   Website

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October 23, 2015 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

Selling to a Consignment Shop (Trip #3)

Bouncy SeatOver the weekend my husband and I loaded a bunch of baby equipment into the car and headed for the nearest consignment shop. This isn’t a traditional consignment store. At this particular place a buyer reviews the items I bring in and pays me upfront for anything they want to try and sell. I earn less than a typical consignment shop would pay, but I don’t have to wait around for someone to buy my items and I don’t need to return to the shop to pick up a check.

I gathered a bunch of big ticket items and a small box of clothing and other miscellaneous items. Here is a list of what sold:

I received $44 for all items, which was roughly $10 per big ticket item and just over $1 for the rest.

I’ll be honest. I thought the big items would sell for slightly more than $10 a piece. When I asked for a little more information on the stores pricing policy I was told the highest payout is 40%. The baby equipment I sold would be priced between $24.99 and $27.99 and sure enough 40% is somewhere between $9 and $11.

Total sold to date:

Grand Total = $203.71

On a non-financial note I must admit I was quite sad to part with one particular piece of baby equipment. When my oldest was small I would place him in a bouncy seat in the morning so I could prepare breakfast, accomplish small household tasks like cleaning up or generally just give my arms a five minute break.

Every time I turned on the music the same song would play and when I turned that song on for the very last time tears streamed down my face. It’s hard to believe that little guy is now four years old. It’s also hard to believe my youngest will also be my last baby.

October 19, 2015 at 11:05 PM Leave a comment

Letting Go of Resentment and Anger


A few months ago a whole bunch of drama spun up between my in-laws, myself and my family. Every few months my husband and I seem to be in the dog house for some crazy reason or another and at least once a year a big blow up occurs that sends us into our respective corners.

Every time this happened in the past I was able to ignore it, rise above it and generally not let it bother me for more than a day or so. Our relationship continues and I do my best to be in their presence and to act pleasant, (despite all the turmoil), in front of them.

This time something changed for me. This time I cannot seem to look past the problems. This time I have two children. This time I have a baby to take care of. This time I am almost forty. This time I realized that nothing will ever change. This time I realized that no matter what I do I will be judged and criticized. I am tired of the drama and sick of being told I do not measure up to their standards.

I am no longer capable of smiling in their presence and pretending that nothing is wrong. As a result when we are together it is uncomfortable and awkward.

Over the past few weeks I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this situation. I have replayed the events of my past too many times and vented much too often.

I am not certain how to proceed. I wrote a letter and spent hours every night for an entire week revising it. I removed the emotion and anything that would further inflame the situation. I sent that email but it was so dumbed down it didn’t really say anything at all.

When I sit down with my thoughts I am unable to articulate why I am mad. I can cite specific incidents, but it is difficult to explain how those incidents made me feel or why I am angry about them.

I worry that my actions will impact my husband’s relationships with his family and that my children who are very close to their grandparents will lose that special bond. For the record: My husband believes my thoughts and feelings are warranted.

I’ve thought about writing another letter. One that expresses the truth of how I feel and why I feel it, but I worry that nothing will change as a result of my words. I worry that my words will provide further ammunition that they will use against me.

In the mean time I feel sick to my stomach over the matter. It’s the first thing I think about when I wake and the last thing I think about before going to bed. My emotions are incredibly raw.

I know that things will not change, but I also know that I need to see these people quite often. So if I cannot fix the problem how do I come to terms with it? How can I be in their presence but not be bothered by their judgements? How can I sit across the table from someone who is weighing my every action and word?

And most importantly how do I learn to let go? How do I resolve to no longer waste my energy on things that will not change? How do I learn to stop getting hurt by their accusations?

October 14, 2015 at 12:08 PM 10 comments

World’s Best Story: Unique Contest for Writers!

Writers submit your Story
Enter for a chance to join
the House of transmedia stories company

What is World’s Best Story?

“This is not just a literary contest, we’re looking for stories that will be consumed in multiple media formats – from books to the big screen and beyond,” says Vincent Salera, founder of World’s Best Story. “Our goal is to revolutionize the traditional literary contest and identify a story with blockbuster appeal. We’re looking for a story that audiences will love and help authors turn that story into trans-media franchises, which is why we’re empowering readers to judge the contest.”

How does it work?

Readers will vote for stories and awarded judges will declare the final Top 10 winners.

2015 Judges: Warren Adler, Victor Malarek, Tamarra Kennelly, Brooke Burgess, Samreen Ashan, Alistair Cross, Rhonda Hayter


Entry Period Closes/Public Voting ends. (November 8)

Top 10 Winners Announced! (November 8)

Professional Review/Voting (November 8 – December 8)

Winner and Top 10 Ranking Announced (December 8)

What are the prizes?

The top 3 winners will receive a full publishing package by FriesenPress, trademark protection in the U.S. and Canada by IP agency Benoit & Cote, a virtual book tour by Laura Fabiani of iRead Book Tours as well as consulting/marketing services with book expert Anne Chaconas of BadAss Marketing. Busbud and YoDough will be providing lots of goodies for both writers and readers.

How do I submit my story?

To learn more about World’s Best Story, including how to enter, please visit World’s Best Story.

World’s Best Story :

See what’s buzzing at World’s Best Story:

How to Get Readers Buzzing About Your Book: Secrets from the World of Book Blogging

Viral campaign with famous characters:

What if Oscar Wilde wrote Sex and the City? (series of posts)

What if Lady Gaga wrote Gone With the Wind? (series of posts)

The Current Top 10 Most Voted Stories

Connect with World’s Best Story:

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Pinterest

Enter your story today!

October 11, 2015 at 11:11 AM Leave a comment

Book Review: Someone Died Now What

someone died

Book Description: 

Someone Died… Now What? is a GPS for grieving. Corrie Sirota provides Guidance, Perspective and Support to help navigate through the grief process. Whether someone you love has died or someone you know is struggling with a loss, this book addresses many of the issues and questions that surface, providing concrete assistance on what to do immediately following a death, how to deal with feelings of sadness, anger and guilt, non-death losses and how to support grieving children. You will learn that grief is an ongoing process, and is as unique and individual as you are.

Link to Montreal Gazette:    Article

My Thoughts:
Our fifteen year old cat died earlier this year. I mourned for his loss, as any pet owner would do. My husband and I knew what needed to be done, but it didn’t make it any easier to take him to the veterinarian in the morning. While I struggled with my own feelings I struggled even more over the discussion that would take place with my three year old son.

How do you talk to a child about death? I wanted to be honest with my son but I wasn’t sure what to say. I told him the truth. That his dad took the cat to the vet, but that he was very sick and couldn’t be cured. As a result the cat died. I made certain not to tell him that our cat went to live on a farm or that the cat went to sleep, but of course, a three year old doesn’t exactly understand death. As I cried telling him what happened he said “It’s okay if you’re sad mommy. If you’re really sad just bring the kitty back home.”

So we talked about what it means to die. We talked about the flowers we bring home from the store. How they stand tall and vibrant in the vase and then slowly wither and die. He brought up death in little bits and pieces after that. He pointed out plants that died or flowers that were wilting. He asked questions about the cat. When he struggled with the idea he asked again why the kitty couldn’t come home.

I am grateful that our first conversations about death involved our pet. My grandmother is ninety-two years old and it is quite possible that our next conversation about death will be about her.

Among the chapters in Someone Died… Now What? is a chapter specifically focused on speaking to children about death. There are many practical suggestions including talking to your children about life and death as a part of your everyday routine. That you are honest and speak with love. That you explain that death is irreversible, that you do so at eye level and that you ensure the child is surrounded by loved ones.

This book is extremely helpful in guiding the reader through the grieving process or helping others grieve. The author dispels the myths around what is or is not expected when one suffers a loss. She lists ways of speaking to those who are grieving including what you should and shouldn’t say and points out that everyone handles these situations in different ways.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. You never know when you will suffer a death of a loved one. You also never know when you will need to support someone who is suffering a loss. This book is a great reference to assist the grieving process.

Meet the author:

Corrie Sirota holds a Masters degree in Social Work as well as a Graduate Certificate in Loss and Bereavement from McGill University (Montreal) where she has been teaching as a lecturer in the School of Social Work for over 20 years. Corrie is a licensed psychotherapist who currently maintains a private practice specializing in Loss and Bereavement, Parenting issues and Relationship issues. She is a well-known lecturer who regularly presents at conferences and workshops, both locally and abroad. Working in the Montreal Community for over 2 decades, Corrie has developed numerous prevention and intervention programs for families, children and professionals, students and various community agencies as well as Day and Residential Camps.

Corrie has also written numerous articles and blog posts and is regularly interviewed on local radio, news and TV programs to consult on issues relating to loss and bereavement, Child Development and Parenting.

To learn more information about Corrie Sirota visit her website

Connect with the author: Website  Twitter  Facebook

October 7, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Finally Waking After Four Years of Motherhood


For as long as I can remember I imagined it would be difficult for me to conceive children. After my medical problems in 2005 I was convinced children would not be in my future and after struggling for a year and a half with infertility I was almost certain.

When my son was born this perfect little baby laid in my arms and I felt whole in a way I never thought possible. I felt like I wanted to sing and dance for decades. I could not believe that something I never thought would happen had finally occurred. I wanted to pour myself into my son. To make certain the universe knew just how much I treasured this gift.

After my son was born I left my job, my sense of self, my sense of worth, my wages and most of my interaction with the outside world. I am the type of girl who places focus on work and my son became an around the clock job. With no one else but me to raise him 90% of the time I felt responsible for molding him into an incredible being.

I sat beside him and talked and played for hours. I couldn’t bear to hear him cry and although it seems crazy I never wanted to leave his side. Even when I was exhausted I would wake to every rustle of his bed sheets. For the first two years, even though he was in a separate room, I woke almost every time he stirred. And when my husband took him away to give me time to rest I couldn’t sleep. I was with him so often that my mind wanted to know what he was doing at all times.

As a result of this focus I let everything else fall to the wayside. Looking back its not that hard to see why this happened. When I think back to my first ten years at my previous job it actually makes perfect sense. I would start coding as soon as I woke up and kept coding, (not stopping to shower or cook dinner), until 2 am. How many times did my husband have to tell me to put away my computer and go to bed? If I was that focused on work imagine how focused I became on my child!

As a result of this focus I stopped paying attention to everything else. I knew that the majority of parenting landed on my shoulders and the enormity of that brought me inner stress and turmoil. I couldn’t even shower for five minutes for fear of his crying!

As far as I can tell much of my work paid off. My son seems to be a very caring, loving, polite and intelligent boy, but as a result of my actions other things in my life suffered.

I became so focused on my son that I didn’t always make dinner or clean the house. I lost myself and often failed to connect with my husband.

Strangely enough the addition of a second child woke me from my slumber. While trying to balance two children I realized I was too wrapped up in the first one. How could I find time to care for two kids when I couldn’t even find time to cook dinner?

Things are so much better now. The oldest goes to preschool three days a week, which gives me time with youngest and when the youngest is napping I find time for everything I was previously too exhausted to do.

I do not regret the way I spent my time over the last four years, but I am happy to see the light again.

October 3, 2015 at 11:36 AM Leave a comment

Shopping Consignment Sales: My Experience

baby clothes

Last week my six month old and I ventured over to a large consignment sale in the Washington, DC area. I had two big goals in mind. First, to look for a winter jacket for my three year old. Second, to investigate the prices for items sold there.

I considered selling at this particular sale on more than one occasion. I weighed the decision quite heavily as consigning at a sale involves a lot more work than dragging items to a consignment store. I thought I might earn more, but also dreaded the work involved in itemizing my children’s unwanted belongings, tagging, hanging, organizing and generally doing anything other than folding them into a box and carting them off to the store.

After thinking it over I decided to forgo the consignment sale in favor of the local consignment shop. The primary reason: to get the stuff out of my house as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to hold the stuff until mid-September. I sold two large boxes of stuff in July and August and earned $160.

The consignment sale provides general guidelines for each item sold. For example, a group of onesies should be $3. A winter coat can range from $10 to $15, but I wanted to see those numbers in action. I wanted to see how the quality compared to the guidelines. After all a brand new, name brand shirt should, in theory, cost more than one that shows more signs of wear and tear.

Unfortunately, children were forbidden from entering the sale on the first day, so my son and I waited until the second day and arrived shortly after the doors opened. To get the most accurate pricing picture I think I needed to be there on opening day. By day two things were quite picked over.

From what I saw the majority of items adhered to the sales guidelines, but there were a number of items priced higher. It was interesting to see how consignors priced identical items. Five trains were lined up next to each other on the floor. They ranged in price from $18 to $8. Each had varying signs of wear and tear, and some had more parts than others, but they were all relatively similar in condition. In some instances, the toy with the most wear and tear was priced the highest. It’s clear buyers need to pay special attention when duplicate items are available.

I didn’t find a coat for my oldest, but I did walk away from the sale with two toys. One was a true bargain at only $4. The other was $18. Although I only bought two items I found the best prices on toys, games and used baby equipment.

I looked at boys clothing in both the 12-18 month section and the 5T section and found the quality and selection quite poor. I didn’t see anything on sale for less than $5. Again I would imagine that the better bargains were found on the first day, but overall I was quite disappointed in what I found there.

While I wouldn’t expect used items to look like new, I did expect them to look pretty darn good. A few items had stains, piling and the overall condition of most clothing was quite worn. If these items sold on eBay I would rate them in ‘good’ condition at best.

Perhaps my standards are too high. I don’t use heat on my children’s clothes so they retain their color and shape despite being washed many times. I’ve also received many hand-me-downs over the years in ‘like new’ condition despite being worn by two boys.

Through a combination of sales, coupons and discounted gift cards I can buy brand new clothing for the same price, if not cheaper, then items I found at the consignment sale.

I typically buy clothing for my son from the clearance section of stores. My oldest has followed a typical growth pattern so I’ve been able to buy bargain items at the end of each season. I walk directly to the back of stores like Target, Gymboree, Macy’s and JCPenney and look for one size bigger than the size he currently wears. He wore 3T summer before last and 4T this summer. Next summer I assume he’ll wear 5T. This might not work for all children, (my youngest seems to skip sizes more often), but so far this has worked perfectly for him.

Over the years I’ve shopped at Target, Gymboree, Kohl’s, Macy’s and JCPenney. On average I spend less than $5 per article of clothing. This clothing is cute, colorful and brand new. Based on my experience with this particular sale I believe I can find better bargains on clothing in retail stores and have the peace of mind that I can return any items that don’t fit.

I also think it’s easy to buy too much at these types of sales. At a store I can walk away, think about my purchase and return again on another occasion. At a consignment sale I need to pick up whatever I want as quickly as possible to ensure someone else doesn’t scoop it up behind me. I can’t have buyer’s remorse at a consignment sale either. If I purchase too much I can’t return the next day with a receipt to return it.

I completely understand the desire to shop consignment sales for environmental reasons. There is no doubt that new products have a much larger environmental impact, but I would guess most customers shop consignment sales for the bargains, not for conservation reasons.

On a side note: I do believe second-hand shopping may differ by gender. A few friends with daughters commented on the fine quality of clothing they purchased at this sale. Perhaps girls aren’t as hard on their clothing. A friend also suggested that girls tend to have more clothes hanging in their closets so each article of clothing gets worn less frequently. Since I have two boys I can’t provide much input on that, but it certainly makes sense to me. The number of girls racks was more than double the number of boys.

Based on the prices I saw, and the fact that consignors only receive 55% of all sales, I consider my trips to the local consignment store quite successful. I am still intrigued by consignment sales though and part of me still wants to give it a try. There are always a number of items the consignment store doesn’t want to purchase. Perhaps I’ll gather those items together and sell them in the spring.

September 29, 2015 at 10:55 AM 5 comments

Book Review: Inspector Dewey

Inspector Dewey

Book Description:

My name is DeweyInspector Dewey.

I live in the big green house on Hampshire Avenue with my family: Thumper, Lily, and Anna. I am the Big Cat—responsible for keeping everyone safe and in order. I do this quite well, in spite of the fact that managing my family is like, well, herding cats!

Mostly our life is peaceful. But one night it wasn’t. That was the night the bad guy showed up on our block. Of course, I knew exactly how to outsmart the outlaw, but—miserable mullet!—would Anna and the police understand my instructions?

To find out how the adventure ended, you’ll have to read my book. But I’ll give you a hint: there’s a reason I’m called Inspector Dewey.

Fifty percent of the profits from the sale of this book will fund veterinary care for pets whose families are in financial need, so that the animals can remain in their homes and out of the shelter system.

My Thoughts:

My oldest son loves to read. As a small child he would stare at the pages of a book and let me choose board book after board book from his tiny library until the pile of books was as tall as he was. Every morning, from the time he was twenty-two months old until the time he turned three, he would climb into my bed and settle in to read three stories. When those three stories were finished he would scurry off my bed, choose three more, (with my assistance), and climb back on the bed. We could spend an hour reading together that way each morning.

I loved snuggly beside him. He awoke in those warm, footed pajamas with his hair all messy and disheveled. He would borrow his head into the crook of my arm and rest quietly against my chest. Back then we went to the library once a week, but never picked up books. He had a few favorites that he wanted to read day after day and showed no interest in adding new ones to the list.

These days he loves to read new library selections and is filled with over-the-moon excitement when we receive a book he can keep. Inspector Dewey is a gorgeous book. My words honestly cannot provide justice the beauty with which the cats and their owner Anna are depicted. There is a hazy, almost dream-filled way in which they are drawn.

My son loved the story about a crime solving cat. It’s told from Dewey’s perspective and Dewey is one smart creature with great telepathic powers that help Anna and the police figure out exactly what to do to catch a thief.

Our family recently lost our beloved cat of over fifteen years, so reading about Dewey and his family is a great way to remember our own cat and imagine all the thoughts he might have had if presented with a similar situation.

This is a beautiful story for any child, but might be particularly special for a child with cats of his or her own.
Meet the author:

Marketing Officer, Strategy Expert, Innovator and Brand Builder, Kristen’s business career spans 20+ years serving the biggest brands in industry and the biggest hearts of start-ups and entrepreneurs. Kristen revels in bringing compelling products and services to life and helping leaders and individuals with big dreams realize their big goals.Kristen’s life joys include her 2+ year obsession creating the most beautiful self-published picture book possible, the breathtaking forests and lakes of her Minnesota birthplace, the family that really does love her no matter what, and her three magnificent Norwegian Forest Cats who together, with Kristen, helped catch the bad guy on their block that inspired her upcoming book (stake out and high speed chase included!)

She holds a master of science in eCommerce from Carnegie Mellon University, an MBA from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, and a BA from the University of St. Thomas. As the great transformer in her life, Kristen supports others’ education and literacy as an adjunct professor of business and strategy and, more recently, through her children’s book, Inspector Dewey (Available September 2015).

Connect with Kristen:   Website  ~   Facebook Author  ~   Facebook Inspector Dewey  

Author Interview:

What genre do you write and why?

Picture books played an important role in my development as a child. They still influence me today. I collect them by the dozens, reading them as others read novels. I can’t imagine creating anything other than picture books—I love the marriage of words and visuals too much.

I am inspired by experiences—beautiful, emotion-packed, multisensory experiences. These are the things that memories are made of. And no book imparts a 360-degree sensory experience for me more so than the picture book choicefully designed to be read aloud by parent to child—with cherry-picked words, cadence, rhyming, alliteration and, of course, illustrations, those masterful swoops of the brush that add texture and beauty to the story, bringing it to life.

What are you working on now?

Right now, Lily’s silliness and certainty have taken hold of my heart. She’s a kind-hearted kitty who earnestly believes that she is the center of the universe. Her life isn’t too shabby—everyone should have days as delicious as Lily’s! So I started writing short little ditties about the silly, Lily-centered things she does to pass her time. I would love for these to turn into a picture book for young readers. However, I realize, as her human, I may be a little bit biased about her adorableness. Thank goodness my editor is a genius with a gentle touch—she’ll set me straight!

I’m also documenting my book journey online for Children’s Writer’s Guild ( It’s a monthly series that kicked off in July 2015 entitled “Trailing Joy.” I named it that because it was my emotions, and only my emotions, that propelled me to pursue the absolutely glorious, but highly impractical and unpredictable, journey of book creation.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or paper/hard back books?

A traditionalist, I refused to welcome the e-book into my life for a long time. Then the desire for immediacy got the best of me. When that first e-book graced my device the instant I pressed “go,” I was hooked. To this day, I’m an e-book buyer, albeit selectively. Speed, travel convenience, variety, and cost—e-books have advantages on all of these fronts. But the fact is, I prefer real books—the kind I can touch, smell, and feel their heft in my hand and their comfort on my pillow. My favorites grace the bookshelves in my home. They remind me where I’ve been, what I am thankful for, and what I dream for the future.

What is your favorite travel spot?

My favorite travel spot is the place I have not yet visited! I love to travel. My parents were responsible for instilling wanderlust in me at a very young age: I was hooked after my first trip abroad. I’ve been traveling ever since. I love exploring diverse cultures—the more different from my own, the better. People, history, architecture, food culture, and, well . . . experiencing and learning anything new excites me. Right now, I feel strongly that I need to get to India. But I’m not terribly picky. I’m all smiles anytime I can pack a bag, grab some Pearson’s Salted Nut Bars, and jump in my car on a road trip with family or friends. Anywhere will do—especially if there are homespun diners, antique shops, and historical markers along the way.

What is your favorite positive saying?

Ooh, tough. I believe fundamentally in the power of one’s environment to help or hinder one’s growth. To the best that I am able, I create a beautiful, supportive environment around me so that I can be my best. Practically, this means a clean house, fresh flowers when I feel like it, and a tidy to-do list. It also means being willing to let go of naysayers and soul-sappers, and the courage to walk away from harmful cultures—work or otherwise.

When it comes to positive sayings, I don’t think I could choose just one. I have hundreds, even thousands of sayings and quotes that I love. I collect them from books, online, and my own inspirations. I pin at least one or two each day on Pinterest as a reminder to me that, in life, it’s all mind over matter. Thoughts are things. I collect the good ones to keep the negative ones at bay.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I spent a good portion of my early life trying to do and be what was expected of me or believed to be in my best interests—by my family, my friends, our society, and culture. My advice to my younger self would be quite simply: Trust yourself. That inner voice of yours is divine. Follow it, and you will discover your dreams and live the life you were meant to live.


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September 28, 2015 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Odds and Ends in September


A few odds and ends…

  • I wasted too much time this past month dealing with a very toxic relationship. Unfortunately, I haven’t resolved the problem but I have gained a new perspective on the situation. I would like to know why nasty people are always dragging the rest of us down. Isn’t it amazing how a positive person can make you feel happy and a negative one can pull you right down into the mud?
  • In financial news we spent another $20,000 remodeling and upgrading our house. The house feels so much more spacious and open now, but in the past year we’ve spent over $60,000 to improve it! It sounds crazy, especially since we are considering moving in the next few years. The school district here isn’t the greatest, so we need to decide between private school and moving.
  • My son started his second year of preschool two weeks ago and was already struck by his first cold. How on earth do we prevent the transfer of germs while he is in school? We wash hands as often as possible and clean all of his plastic lunch containers in the dishwasher. I’m considering taking off all of his clothes each afternoon and moving them to the laundry room. Last year he was sick every few weeks and most of the time the rest of us got sick too. I would really like to avoid that this year, but I have a feeling I won’t be able to.
  • While the oldest is in school my youngest and I run as many errands as possible. It’s much easier to get out of the house with a baby then a baby and a preschooler, but all of these trips are costing me money. It’s so easy to pick up a few extra items in Costco or Target.
  • In other news I’ve completely curtailed my desire to purchase new books. I receive a few books through a book review program and pick up the rest from the library. Who knew it was so easy to place items on hold? I can now get in and out of the library within ten minutes. In fact, finding a place to park and walking into the library takes longer than picking up the books or checking them out!
  • My son will turn four in a few weeks and due to the drama mentioned above my husband and I need to host two separate birthday parties. My son won’t mind celebrating twice, but I don’t really want to bake two separate birthday cakes. I’m considering making strawberry shortcakes or something else fun. I even saw a cute idea for turning pound cake into miniature birthday cakes; maybe we’ll take that approach.
  • I also need to create a list of birthday gift ideas for our family members. Every year I add items to my son’s Amazon wish list and let people choose among the options or pick something on their own. I think our families would rather review the list and pick their favorite then come up with ideas on their own.
  • I’m happy that cooler weather has arrived, but I am not looking forward to the winter; bundling the boys in coats and mittens is not fun. Speaking of which I need to buy my oldest a winter coat. I’m heading to a consignment sale this week. Let’s hope I can look for the coat and not pick up a bunch of unnecessary items.

September 22, 2015 at 12:33 PM 1 comment

Tips for Saving Money on Your Phone Bills Around the Home

While once reserved for important conversations and emergencies, telephones are now an integral part of our daily lives. Whether you have a home phone, a cell phone or both, chances are you’ve used your telephone at least once today – and probably not to make an essential or emergency call. Having a telephone has become a necessity of modern life, but what of the stratospheric costs that we’re often left with at the end of every month? Is there a way that we can keep relying on our phones without footing that hefty bill?

Are your phone bills unnecessarily high?

If you or anyone else in your family has a cell phone, chances are you’ll have researched packages, looked into family contracts, and signed up for an online account that allows you to monitor your phone’s activity and charges. You may even have a particular package for data usage, calling abroad, or sending and receiving images and video. While carrying a cell phone is incredibly convenient and can often be rather cheap if you know how to negotiate the right package, the same can’t always be said for the humble home phone. Many of us have one, but do you know what charges are applicable every time you dial out, how much it costs to ring out of state, or even whether you’re able to make international phone calls under your contract? Cell phones seem so much easier to control and keep track of, while it is incredibly easy to rack up a huge bill on your landline; how can you reduce costs, even in a larger family home?

First thing’s first – shop around. If your home telephone contract is due for renewal, or if you’re shopping for the first time, look around for the deals that are on offer. Many packages will offer cheaper evening or weekend calls, for example, while other suppliers may provide better deals for paying by direct debit, special codes that you can apply to calls for cheaper rates, or combined internet, television and phone line bundles as an incentive. In terms of what you can do to reduce your bills, take the time to study your paperwork if the cost seems a little high. If you’re making a lot of long, expensive calls to certain numbers, it may be time to cut them short! Similarly, if you must contact friends, relatives or companies abroad, consider using email instead, or set up an alternative means of contact. Internet phone systems can work out to be much cheaper, for example. Finally, if you also have a cell phone, check out how many minutes you have left and be sure to use them over your landline – well, if they’re free, you may as well!

The telephone revolution: internet phone systems

As previously mentioned, internet phone systems can be a great way to save money on your landline bill, as they enable you to route all calls via an internet connection, much like using the Wi-Fi on your phone will reduce the amount of data you use. Setting up such a system, such as the one provided by leading Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider Lingo, is incredibly quick to do, and simply requires you to connect a special adapter between your internet router and phone – it’s that easy. Internet phone systems allow you to use your landline as you normally would, but because the connection is made via the web, communication will be clear and reliable, unlike some other methods of calling out. In addition, those with similar systems can often connect to you for free, and most services will provide incentives for joining, such as unlimited international calling plans. As international and out of state calls will always cost the most, internet phone systems (such as those provided at have become a lifeline for those who frequently need to call outside of their local area.

Whether you use your landline infrequently or all the time, it is important to know you’re getting the very best for your money. Remember to shop around, limit excessive lengthy conversations, and use your cell whenever possible, or sign up for an internet phone system such as Lingo – there’ll be no shutting you up then!

September 15, 2015 at 12:31 PM Leave a comment

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