Ideas

Aimee Mullins was born without tibias, but that hasn’t slowed her down a bit. This para-Olympian has inspiring words to share such as …

We think that success means moving through a challenge unscathed but adversity isn’t an obstacle we must get around. It’s just a part of ourselves …

Our challenge is not to shield our loved ones from adversity but to help prepare them. We do a disservice to our kids when we don’t equip them to adapt …

The only true disability is a crushed spirit. You must see beauty, to keep hope, to be curious and imaginative. We are then able to create new realities and possibilities.

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As women, I believe we are part of a sisterhood that spans the generations. No matter if we are 20 or 60, we can learn a lot from each other’s stories. We can breathe deeply into each others lives and fill our lungs with fresh air for our own journeys. My own refreshing wind showed up in the pint-sized package of a Pakistani neighbor. But don’t let her size fool you, she is the powerhouse of inspiration.

I was having one of those weeks (okay, months) where I was seriously wondering just who I was in life and what’s next for me. It’s a sentiment that each of us feels as varying times — moms home with toddlers, young career women pushing at break-neck speed, women whose nests have emptied who are reigniting their careers and dreams …

I decided to drag myself around the block on a walk, though my lower lip was so low I was sure I’d trip over it. As I trudged along, a perky woman walked up beside me. I plastered on a smile and forced myself to be cheery. It didn’t work. She smiled warmly and asked if I was having a hard day.

I don’t know what possessed me to pour my heart out to a stranger, but I did. Rather than bolting away from me at a fast clip, she placed a hand on my arm empathetically. After listening to my tale, my walking companion, Moona, commented that it was never too late to pursue your dreams. She had a dream of becoming a translator.

She was from Pakistan and had lived and worked part-time in the U.S. for a few years. Now  she wanted to return to college full time to get a degree in linguistics. She already has a PhD in economics from a Pakistani university, but since her home country’s government was so precarious, she couldn’t get the necessary documentation to start school in the U.S.

I looked over at Moona’s smooth skin, trim physique and determined expression. This woman, was not dissuaded however. After numerous fruitless phone calls to the dean of the linguistics program at the local university, she had planted herself in his office and told him she wouldn’t move until he admitted her into the program. Perhaps fearing this woman would use his office as her new home, he admitted her into the program. Moona was on her way to becoming a Chinese translator.

I admired this spunky woman. “Good for you, Moona,” I said. Moona looked to be in her late 40s, perhaps 50. If she could go for it, perhaps I could too. “Moona,” I said. “Do you mind if I ask how old you are?”

Without hesitating, Moona replied, “I’m 72.” I nearly fell out of my Nikes!

Moona is 72! Okay, I’m having what Moona is having! For the next 30 minutes, I picked Moona’s brain as we nearly walked around the county and back.

Here are Moona’s tips for being young and vivacious at any age:

  1. Growth is not optional. If you want your second half of life to be even more dynamic than the first half, never stop learning, growing or changing.
  2. It is never too late to be the person you want to be. Monna said her family came to the U.S. because this is one of the few countries where you can build the life you want based on hard work and perseverance. There is no date of expiration on that fact.
  3. There will always be obstacles, as there are at any stage of life. Just keep going and keep stretching for what you want.

Who has shown up in your life lately to inspire you? Go on that walk with them and listen carefully to their story. You might be surprised how their experience intersects with your own.

 

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5 Clever Ideas to Make Life Easier

by Cathy on September 5, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas

I don’t know about you, but I’m all about saving time/money or just generally simplifying life. This makes more room for the good stuff by streamlining the “must do” stuff. Here are five clever ideas I found around the web to do just that.

1. Eliminate sticky residue on an iron by running an iron over paper (no steam) sprinkled with salt. (Source and photo: RealSimple.com)

2. Bread tags make the perfect labeled cord holders. (Source and photo from TheDailyBuzz.com/au)

3. A non-toxic solution to kill and prevent spiders: Take one cup of vingar, one cup of pepper, a teaspoon of oil and liquid soap. Put the ingredients into a spray bottle and spray along the outside of your outside door and along windows. (Source and photo: CutoutandKeep.net)

4. Round up some tension rods, stagger them in a closet and you have an instant and inexpensive shoe rack. (Source and photo: ArielVenereal.com)

5. Store bed linens in their pillowcases. (Source and photo from TheDailyBuzz.com/au)

 

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I hate to confess this since I work in the marketing/social media profession but I am a bit late to the Google+ party. Frankly, I just didn’t see the value of joining and contributing to one more social media channel. That was before I started exploring Google+. My conclusion? Google+ is definitely worth my time. Here’s why.

  1. Google+ is similar to Skype but better. Google+ hangouts are video conferences in which up to nine people can participate but countless people can watch. It also automatically records the video chat. Literally millions of people could watch … all at no cost. Think of the potential for your business or organization — perhaps a live webinar?
  2. Google+ allows you to connect with the community you build (both people you know and people you follow) through circles. You can have a circle for friends, family, acquaintances, people you follow, and (most importantly) people with a common interest. Perhaps you love photography, some of your friends love photography, and you would love to connect with some professional photographers. Build a circle called “Photography” then simply add the people you want to be in that circle. You can then follow all their posts, photos, reviews … whatever they put on their Google+ page.
  3. Google+ is  a channel through which you can both post and search for reviews for restaurants, retail stores, local events, and more. Granted, Yelp and Urbanspoon also provides a channel for reviews but Google+ offers this and so much more.
  4. Google+ is here to stay. How do I know that? This is a Google product, folks. As social media guru Guy Kawasaki notes, “Google owns the river of search.” Google and its products are not going away any time soon. The company has too much skin in the (social media and search) game to just pull the plug.

So, jump into the Google+ pool! The water is fine! For the full story on Google+, check out Guy Kawasaki’s new book, What the Plus.

Leave a comment and tell me why you like Google+ or why you still haven’t jumped into the Google+ pool. I’d love to hear your ideas. Thanks!

 

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He asked and she said yes

by Cathy on June 26, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas,Style

So, there was a little excitement around our household this weekend! (Photos and story courtesy of Classy and Fab Girl) … Here’s our daughter Lauren’s  story:

So I thought this past weekend was going to be quiet and uneventful but boy was I wrong. I was completely surprised and ecstatic when Mike asked me to marry him this past Saturday night. You would think after seven years of dating I would have seen it coming but I was still totally surprised. Here is a glimpse of the big night.

Thankfully my family showed up a little after it happened to take pictures. It was an amazing weekend full of great memories with great family and friends. I am so happy to have the support of all the people I love. I am excited to spend the rest of my life with the best guy I know. And after seven years its about dang time!

So here goes the journey of planning a wedding and I will definitely be using my blog to keep track of all my thoughts and ideas, as well as wanting some feedback from you. Let the wedding planning begin! (“Yikes,” said the bride’s mother! That would be me!)

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Just working on my abs ...

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Easy Graduation Party Idea

by Cathy on May 20, 2012 · 2 comments

in Food,Ideas

I’m not sure how it is where you live but in my hometown, high school graduation can be a bit over the top. This past month has been an endless stream of awards banquets, senior picture photo sessions (Can you say “expensive”?) events, ceremonies … and then we have the graduation parties. I, however, am not an over-the-top gal. I’m all about family, friends, warm memories. I’m not out to impress anyone. This girl just wants to have fun. So for my daughter’s graduation party last weekend, we did our own thing and it WAS fun.

We hosted a dessert and champagne/sparkling cider open-house at our home with two other families. It was much simpler than providing a whole meal, was very casual, and filled with great conversations and laughter. I saw people who were dear to me but didn’t know each other before the night engaged in lengthy conversations. A lot of people came but it was very relaxed. Best of all, my daughter was blessed. So if you haven’t planned your child’s graduation party yet, go easy on yourself. And did our guests have fun? All I know is that most of them spent the entire evening at our house.

Here is a look at our table decor and links to some of some of the dessert recipes. (I’m guessing on some of the recipes since the other families also baked.) My daughter added some fun touches, such as the mason jars tied with ribbon that held the silverware and the chocolate-dipped pretzel rods. She is both girly and artsy so the pink with black/white color scheme suited her perfectly.

Cake Pops
Lemon Bars (a mix)
Oreo Truffles
Cookie Dough Dip with Graham Crackers
Chocolate Cupcakes (a mix) with Buttercream Frosting
Easy Pretzel Buttons
Plus Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries and Pretzel Rods

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My friend, Nilla Childs, comes from a long line of diary keepers. In fact, her grandmother, Dorothy, kept a diary for nearly 50 years. Nilla’s own diary entries about her son, Daniel, helped unlock the puzzle that had kept Daniel’s life scattered in pieces. Daniel was extremely bright, gifted in fact. Sure he had his quirks and his challenges connecting with others, but those issues somehow didn’t hold Daniel back. Until the day they did. Daniel moved away from home and went to college. His orderly world fell apart.

Nilla’s well-crafted book, Puzzled, documents her journey to solve the puzzle called Daniel, who was diagnosed with autism at age 23. Her book doesn’t follow a chronological flow. Instead, it mimics the scattered pieces of Daniel’s life, going back and forth in time. Each short chapter shares her wise observations, experiences and her mother’s heart. Daniel’s remembrance of the same event follows each of Nilla’s chapters.

Puzzled is not a neat, tidy “they lived happily ever after” book. Instead, it chronicles the ups of downs of real life with grace, love, humor and wit. Whether or not your child struggles with autism, you will be blessed by this charming and gritty chronicle.

Excerpt from Puzzled: 100 Pieces of Autism

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Make It Count: A Cool Video

by Cathy on April 12, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas,Travel

Actor and director Casey Neistat was hired by Nike to make a video with the theme “Make It Count.” Instead, he used the money to travel the world with his friend Max until the money ran out. (Smart man!) The resulting video he created is pretty amazing but then, hey, I love to travel. I also love the inspiring quotes that appear in the video.

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We took the same Carnival Cruise twice, three years apart, and booked two wildly different shore excursions in Progresso, Mexico. The first excursion was tourism at its worst — local merchants constantly pestering us to buy cheap souvenirs as we attempted to sunbathe on the beach. This most recent excursion was a grand adventure, rich with local culture, beauty and physical activities. (Though the scuba nightmare and the human sacrifices lent a chilling air to the experience!)

Our excursion began with an hour van ride to a small Mayan village. (Yes, the Mayan people still exist!) A primitive dirt road wound its way past simple, side-by-side shacks and led to our first stop, a bicycle shop, We hopped on mountain bikes and trekked along bumpy paths through the jungle to a cenote — a natural sinkhole filled with crystal clear water. The cenote resembles a water-filled cave with stalagtites and stalagmites.

The Yucatán Peninsula is the site of the largest series of cenotes in the world. Two creepy facts: First, the ancient Mayans performed ritual (as in human!) sacrifices at the cenotes and just a few days before our visit, a scuba diver got lost in the vast array of underwater caves, never to be seen again. Thankfully, our snorkeling in the cenote was not nearly that dramatic. Before we jumped in the water, a Mayan shaman “blessed” our adventure with a Mayan prayer. Then he told us just a bit about the local plants and herbs he used to cure a host of physical maladies among the local villagers. An interesting guy!

After a bit of snorkeling, we pedaled to a larger cenote and snorkeled there. Then, we hopped back on our bikes and pedaled through the jungle to an open-air cottage with a thatch roof. Here the local Mayans fixed us a tasty, authentic Mexican lunch. (And no, we did not get sick eating it because they washed all the produce with bottled water.)

The van ride back to the cruise port found many of us dozing. We were exhausted but man, it was a good adventure! If you take the Carnival Cruise to the Yucatán Peninsula, be sure to book the Biking and Cenote Snorkeling Expedition.

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