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7 Tips on drugs from a personal medication consultant

By | coaches, healthcare

Are you busy taking care of your elderly parents? You may not understand everything that’s going on with their medications and the potential errors that might be happening. Do you want to help keep your parents as healthy as possible, but you feel confused with all the information and don’t have enough time or expertise to find all the answers?

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More than half of Americans 65 and older take five or more prescription medications at any given time APhA. If you, or someone you know, is taking multiple prescriptions, you’ll want to read on. Getting advice from a personal medication consultant could help you reduce your risk of adverse drug interactions or possibly even save your life!

Dr. Carrie Fu is a personal medication consultant who has a passion for senior medication wellness and healthcare management.

“I help people set goals to manage their health and embrace life without being dependent on drugs. I also help people avoid risks that result from medication errors and oversights.” Dr. Fu said.

Here are some general guidelines from Dr. Fu:

1. Stick with one pharmacy.

This way, all your drug information is based in one place. When you go to multiple drug stores, they don’t have your complete medication history so they can’t check for drug interactions.

2. Keep a list of all your medications.

Each person should have a personalized medication list, not only their current medication, but also their past meds. You can type up a document or just write it down. You should give your medication list to all your providers, including your pharmacist, dentist, acupuncturist, primary care physician, or anyone who is providing your health care. Dr. Fu recommends that you check the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists website for an online form to record your Medicine List. For additional tips, refer to Helping patients keep and up-to-date medication list from the American Pharmacist Association.

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3. Get a consultation every time you pick up a prescription.

Ask for a pharmacist consultation before you take your prescription. Find out how to best take it. It’s always a good idea to ask the pharmacist if there’s anything in particular you need to watch out for.

  • Are there any side effects?
  • How long do I need to take this?
  • Should I take it with or without food?

4. Take into consideration over-the-counter drugs and vitamins.

A lot of people don’t realize that vitamins are like medicine. If you take too many vitamins you could get a kidney stone, for example. Or if you’re taking a thyroid medication you need to know that you shouldn’t take calcium supplements within four hours NIH MedLinePlus.

5. Don’t abruptly stop medications for chronic conditions.

If you want to taper off or discontinue your medication, it’s critical that you consult with your doctor, pharmacist or a specialist. If you abruptly stop taking your blood pressure medication, for example, you increase your risk of having a stroke.

6. Have one medical professional who has access to all your medication history.

Medication errors can happen when a patient moves from one location to another. Problems often arise when patients change care between a hospital and a retirement home.

7. Know your rights, resources and benefits.

It’s important to get more involved with your own healthcare. You can start by going to AHRQ for suggestions on how to ask questions and talk to your clinicians. It’s also important to understand your drug prescription benefits under Medicare Part D.

Dr. Carrie Fu

Dr. Carrie Fu

Dr. Carrie Fu is a consulting pharmacist who specializes in personal medicine and Medication Therapy Management (MTM). As a medication consultant, she helps her clients understand their medication and feel well.

Even if you have a chronic condition, you can still be well. She helps people to be as healthy as possible from a medication perspective. She wants to help her patients be in the best health by taking the least amount of medications. Whether you have diabetes, high blood pressure or another chronic condition, Dr. Fu can help improve your medication regimen.

Health is your #1 asset. She helps people to embrace life without being dependent on medications. There’s no magic bullet, but there are always options. She’s a health coach who focuses not on your illness, but on creating more wellness in your life. She is also on the provider panel at Doctor Quickly. To set up your own personalized medication consultation, contact Dr. Carrie Fu.

Food biz coach offers 9-step process for edible startups

By | BUSINESS, coaches, cooking, restaurants | One Comment

“Most food entrepreneurs suck at marketing and sales . . . and most don’t know how to launch their business,” says Mari-Lyn Harris, a food entrepreneur coach based in Silicon Valley. But if you get help from an expert, you increase your odds of succeeding. Here’s her 9-step recipe for success to help you launch your tasty idea:

1. Start where you are.

So you’ve decided to start a food business? Maybe someone inspired you. Mari-Lyn wanted to start a pie business as a vehicle for social change. She explored the idea, but had to figure out how to get the product into the marketplace. Her neighbor was going to have a garage sale every weekend for a month, so she set up a little table at the garage sale. She got people to sample her pies.

PieChartCartoonStarting where you are means that you have to get people to sample your product. By starting where you are, you begin by figuring out how to get your product into the hands of customers. Find ways to get your product to more people so they can try it. Mari-Lyn calls it “the five-minute bite.” You can do home parties. Just like when you go to Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Market, you sample the food. They know if you like it, you’re more likely to buy it.

Mari-Lyn empowers food entrepreneurs to move forward. Your inner voice may be telling you that you can’t do it or you can’t afford it. But you have to challenge yourself.

“You may not know where to go or how to get started. You may not know where the money will come from, but if you have a great family recipe or great food idea, reach out for help. Don’t give up until the means and resources show up,” says Mari-Lyn.

2. Create your vision.

It’s important that you create a vision for yourself and your business. It gives clarity, direction and buy-in from other people. If you don’t begin with your vision, all your good intentions will be scattered and nonproductive.

A vision statement is more important than your mission. You need to know where you want to go with your idea. Make your vision statement the business you want to grow into. It’s the dream you’re going after. What does it look like? Can you clearly describe it to others?

Cultured Gourmet's Kraut Source

Cultured Gourmet’s Kraut Source

3. Test your product.

Give people free samples and ask for their feedback. Get feedback from people outside your friends and family. If you have a product for weddings, for example, you can offer samples to people who are getting married and caterers to see if they like your product. If not, don’t be offended. Just ask them why. It’s useful feedback.

To test your product, you have to find a way to do it underground. Reach out to professionals to give you a review of your product, such as food bloggers or people who write about food products. Then you can know if your product may be well received.

Engage your customers. You have to deliver for them what they want. Let your customers be your advocates.

To get into a farmer’s market, food truck or market, you have to be licensed. You don’t want to do that right away until you know your product will be viable.

4. Have an audience.

You may have a great idea, but it doesn’t mean it will work. You need to keep testing your product and get feedback from potential customers. Narrow in on your “tribe.”

A lot of food entrepreneurs think that everyone is their audience, but it’s not so. Mari-Lyn discovered that men like pies more than women, but women are the ones who buy pies for the men in their lives. Your research helps you discover who will buy your product. “This is your tribe.”

5. Set up a sales and marketing strategy.

Marketing and sales are two different things. Marketing is the promotion and buzz of your product. Sales is when you actually sell a product or service.

Sales is not a negative or dirty word. It’s about developing relationships with people to get sales. A sale won’t happen until you speak to people. Technology can’t do this for you. You may have great pictures and descriptions on your website, but this isn’t enough. You can use technology, but you also need to have someplace where they can buy and then taste it. It’s all about relationships and getting to know your customers.

Marketing is the key component in any business. Mari-Lyn recalls working with a client who put together a flyer, but it didn’t say how to get in touch with him. And when she checked his website, there was no email or way to contact him.

He had an ineffective marketing materials. When you don’t have a thought-out marketing plan, it’s easy to forget simple things like this.

A sales and marketing strategy will help you execute. The strategy is the layout of action steps you’re going to take to get the marketing done that drives your sales.

6. Build a marketing map.

You have to know your audience before you build your marketing map. This is a plan. Find some customers and build your plan at the same time. Your marketing map can be simple. It’s your hub.

From your hub, you have different tactics or action steps to reach out to your tribe. You write out how you’re going to do it. You develop content to help deliver the message about your product. You don’t need a business plan unless you’re going after funding.

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Let’s take, for example, a personal chef. You may not know how to get your services out in the market place, but the marketing map helps you to develop your business easily. You may want to blog, for example. The blog helps you educate your future customers on how to prepare food or get to know you better.

5 Essential appliances for easy healthy meals

You can blog about how you help your customers. For example, one chef discovered that his client was lacking in magnesium so he prepared foods with more magnesium which helped her feel better. If you decide to blog, here are some things you need to consider:

  • Who will participate in writing content?
  • How will you get new content on a regular basis?
  • How will you share the information?

Many people feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to go. The marketing map gives you clarity in knowing your next step and how to effectively use your time.

7. Get sales.

Put your sales strategy to work. When someone eats your food, you want them to have a great experience when they taste it. You want it to be memorable. You want people to say, “this is incredible,” or “I love this!” The sales part happens when people buy that taste and experience.

TrustYourHeartKindleeBookMari-LynHarrisOnce you have a small tribe, you can develop partners who can help you get more sales. As a startup you may not have a large budget, so the quickest way is to develop collaborative partnerships.

Building relationships with people will help you get sales. Mari-Lyn worked with Marnie Pherson and 23 other business builders. Each wrote a chapter in the book about leveraging relationships. It reached the Amazon Best Sellers list in March 2012.

Have you ever though about writing a cookbook? Books help give you authority. When you collaborate with others toward a common goal, you often get there much faster than going solo.

Mari-Lyn offers workshops on “someone you ought to meet.” She helps her clients develop partnerships who can help them get sales.

8. Get help if you need it.

If you don’t have the resources or people in your community, then join other groups for support. If you live in the Silicon Valley area, you can join the Food Entrepreneur networking group hosted by Food 4 Social Change, which is a cluster of food professionals such as manufacturers, chefs, suppliers and vendors. Everyone can help each other.

9. Execute your strategy.

Executing your marketing strategy is picking something that’s a tool. Who will do what. How will I execute it? It’s all about the who, what, when, where why, how. It’s usually a series of tactics to get things done. Whether it’s your marketing or sales strategy, the execution is all about the who, what when, where why how.

Wally Amos, the legend behind Famous Amos Cookies and founder of the Cookie Kahuna, was featured in the August 2014 issue of Costco Connection magazine. His and his partner came to a point where they had different ideas about how to execute their business plan. He decided to stick with his original plan and grow his company organically.

Mari-Lyn Harris, Food Entrepreneur Coach at Food 4 Social Change

Mari-Lyn Harris, Food Entrepreneur Coach at Food 4 Social Change

To him, focus means that you need to follow one course until you’re successful.

Whether you’re a caterer, a food-truck owner, a specialty food maker, or even Wally “Famous Amos,” most food entrepreneurs lack the sales and marketing skills they need to succeed. But Mari-Lyn can help.

Mari-Lyn Harris is a business consultant who has been coaching entrepreneurs since 1996. She coaches food startups to build out customized plans for their future. Mari-Lyn is also the Founder and CEO of Food 4 Social Change. The vision is to create jobs by assisting food entrepreneurs to fulfill their dreams of a bold and vibrant business community. One of the things Food 4 Social Change offers is a business networking group to help create a vibrant food community.

Call Mari-Lyn at 510-564-7880 to help you develop your customized marketing map.

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8 Great tips for entrepreneurs to create a winning pitch

By | BUSINESS, coaches | One Comment

One of the richest men on earth, Bill Gates, says “half of Silicon Valley startups are silly.” He’s right, though perhaps a bit blunt. According to Microsoft‘s founder, plenty of great sounding one-line ideas won’t actually work.

GatesMicrosoftKindleBookCoverStay out of the “silly 50%” category by sharing your idea with a proper pitch. Whether your vision is a Facebook-size epic or a thriving brick and mortar business, it’s absolutely critical to get clear on your value proposition, competitive advantage and growth strategies. And do it early! How? Prepare a winning pitch.

“Pitching utterly focuses your mind to discover and prove the assumptions behind your idea,” says Roy Terry, a professional pitch coach based in the heart of Silicon Valley. Read on for his tips on how to pitch smarter, learn faster and build your dream.

1. Understand the goal of your pitch.

A pitch is a call to arms. You have a just cause to create a good result in the world and you’re asking others to share in your triumph. You want them to feel that it’s good for them to get involved. The goal is to motivate your audience to take action through logic plus emotion.

Emotion is more powerful than logic. Logic gets you in the door, but emotion gets you the business. The best starting point to generate emotion through your unique exciting idea. You want to pitch the “wow factor” of your idea. Ultimately it’s emotion that moves people to buy your product.

2. Use short colorful phrases to make your pitch stick.

It’s a common short-fall of many people to use long sentences. Punctuate your pitch with short sentences that carry your message. Mixing sentence styles and pace literally changes the listeners’ openness to receive your message. Remember to slow down and instead of giving explanations, make a crisp statement. Streamline your message to win converts.

3. Use a winning structure.

A pitch takes the audience from troubles to triumph. Start with a 15-second sound bite that captures the what of your company. Explain how you deliver value to specific customers. Then describe the problem.

Remember, the flip-side of every problem is an opportunity. Are there enough people who care enough about this issue? Incorporate a story to illustrate why this problem is important to a lot of people. Show how your solution solves the problem. Make it practical, unique and superior.

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4. Incorporate story.

The most fertile ground for your pitch is a personal story. Tell people how you found the vision for your business. A problem is like a bear. You want them to feel the sense of an agitated bear in the room. Your solution calms the bear or makes him go away entirely. People have lots of bears in their lives, but they don’t have the time or know-how to make them all go away.

The second fertile ground is the story of how you realized that your solution was the winner. Tell a story about how a customer expressed their enthusiasm or gratitude for your solution. Make sure each anecdote has a conflict and resolution.

5. Rehearse with adult supervision.

Your peers and best friends don’t have the best perspective. Seek a friendly senior advisor and take their advice. Ask your expert if they would repeat your pitch to someone else. It’s best to get advice from a number of people, but if you work with an pitch expert, he or she can help you quicker. As you develop the pitch, incorporate changes based on audience response.

The man in this video won the “worst ever pitch and product on BBC Dragons’ Den.”

Here are some of the common errors he made in his infamous pitch. He failed to do the following:

  • provide an overview of his business hypothesis that could have demonstrated savvy or credibility
  • convincingly demonstrate a large or serious problem
  • convey unique value and defendable advantage of the technology
  • respond flexibly to questions and criticism

6. Be approachable and willing to learn.

The purpose of your pitch is to motivate the audience, so be responsive to their viewpoint and willing to acknowledge and value their suggestions. When they view you as an expert collaborator who can help them solve their problem, calm their bears, they’re likely to engage.

7. Make your pitch a feel-good celebration.

This point relates to both structure and story-telling. You start with a serious problem and in the end, you offer a great solution. A great pitch is the ultimate feel-good story where the good guy wins in the end. Make your feel-good story extend into future solutions for more and more people.

8. Make it easy to follow up.

Offer at least two ways for people to take action. A pitch without an invitation is flat. A pitch needs to be about the future. Let them know what you want them to do. In traditional advertising this is your call to action (CTA).

Check out this vintage pitch of Steve Jobs introducing the iPod. It’s an oldie, but a goody.

In this pitch, Jobs covers all the usual persuasive points. However, since he’s speaking as a famous person with an iconic and legendary company, he can skip some steps. Nevertheless, here’s what Jobs does well:

  • SteveJobsKindleBookCoverOverview: It’s Apple introducing a new product. He explains in simple and compelling terms how the retail music device business is ripe for disruption.
  • Problem: All the existing devices have serious capacity, expense and convenience issues. There is no market leader.
  • Solution: An easy-to-use Apple MP3 device with CD quality that gives you 1000 songs in your pocket.
  • Business Model: In a consumer pitch, the business model consists of making adoption easy, addressing pragmatic questions such as: How fast will it charge up? Will it work with my computer? How much does it cost? Jobs provides smooth answers to all the basic questions.
  • Ask: The CTA is omitted because we already know it’s a sales pitch and the CTA is “buy one.”

Just in case you’re looking for a more current-day pitch, check out this winning startup pitch that Vurb did at TechCrunch DISRUPT:

 How to accomplish a big goal: Get in the right position

Roy Terry, The Primal Pitch

Roy Terry, The Primal Pitch

Roy Terry is a professional pitch coach who has served numerous startups in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. He serves both local and visiting overseas companies. He offers pitch-coaching sessions from time to time at Hanhai Investments. Roy’s clients include HP, Oracle, Talenttoday, PageyourselfPriceMatch and others. Roy is trained as a public speaker and NLP practitioner. He incorporates knowledge and practice from stage acting and hypnosis.

You probably already have a great value proposition. Now it’s time to create a pitch that motivates people to choose you. A great pitch is logic plus emotion. Call or email Roy at The Primal Pitch to build your winning pitch together.

 

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SIX DATING TIPS for women in search of Mr. Right

By | coaches, love | No Comments

“I’ve been alone for 16 years. Where are all the good men?” Cindy asked.

“How many of them do you want?” Patricia asked.

“Just one,” Cindy said.

“We can make this happen,” Patricia assured her. Patricia is a psychic dating coach and she knew that Cindy was going to meet someone. For the next 40 minutes Patricia guided her on how to meet the right man.

Patricia saw that Cindy’s number one criteria was a man with deep pockets. She was accomplished herself, and she wanted a man who was equally successful. She had a deep fear of being saddled with a fraud and ending up with his debt.

Lovers card means you’re combining energies with another person or entity to create something new.

Lovers tarot card means you’re combining energies with another person or entity to create something new.

Although Cindy was able to meet men who appeared to have money, she always wondered if they were truly affluent. She really needed to know if a man was truly financially secure or just putting on a front. Patricia encouraged Cindy to have an intelligent conversation, as if she were talking to a banker. Patricia’s intuition served Cindy’s needs.

Cindy met with Patricia again about six months later. When she arrived, Cindy was so elated that she seemed to be floating across the room. She held out her hand showing Patricia a diamond that was the size of an almond. She met her dream man in a casino in Las Vegas. When the time came, she had a conversation about his financial situation and the man was just what she was looking for. Cindy was ecstatic with Patricia’s coaching!

If you’re searching for a man, here are a few dating tips for women from the Dating Diamonds expert, Patricia Fuqua:

1. Understand yourself so you can know who you want to fall in love with.

“What makes you the kind of person a man would want to be with? You need to know what you want to attract and what you want to experience,” Patricia says.

Too many women think about what they don’t want instead of what they do want. Know what your strengths are in a relationship and what your attitudes are.  This is how you will attract the emotions and experiences you’re looking for. You can attract what you want, but you have to live it and believe it.

2. Be positive.

“Are you exuding positive affirming energy? Some women don’t realize that their negative thinking and attitudes about men are keeping them single. Negativity comes from past experiences that were emotionally or physically traumatic, but each relationship is new,” Patricia tells her clients. “There’s no value in carrying old baggage into new relationships.”

Online Dating Magazine Cartoon tips women

It’s important to be aware of how you’re approaching men and how you feel about them. You have to to be able to shift your energy to be more positive and see the possibilities in them. You must believe that a new relationship can be positive and open yourself up to finding the man of your dreams. Manifesting your Soulmate happens through the Law of Attraction.

3. Know the types of men you want to avoid.

“Do you know your deal-breakers? My clients often tell me they’re looking for chemistry, someone who’s hot or has these types of clothes or looks, but what they need to know is that looks and bodies sometimes come with addictions or cruelty. Just because a guy is good-looking doesn’t mean he’ll be a good protector or provider,” Patricia warns her clients.

It’s easy to become attracted to someone who seems exciting or hot, but he can’t fully support you when he’s consumed by chasing other things. Whether he’s bodybuilding at the gym every day or has some other extreme passion that takes priority in his life, he’ll always leave you wanting.

Tiger Woods cheated

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If you know yourself and what you want to experience, going after the hot sexy guy who’s emotionally unavailable can be counterproductive. Know the types of men you want to avoid. Deep down, most women are looking for an alpha-man to love and protect them.

4. Have a strategy to keep focused in your search.

“What is your relationship goal? Do you want a partner, a boyfriend, a husband or just a one-night stand? Be clear. Once you know what you want, you can align your strategy to achieve it. You know how to present yourself on dates, speak the part and appeal to the kind of man who wants what you’re searching for,” Patricia says.

How to accomplish a BIG GOAL: Get in the right position

This increases your chances because your actions are aligned with your goal. If a guy thinks you’re dressed like a slut, he’s not going to look at you as wife material. You have to be ready and open all the time when you go out. Align everything toward your goal.

5. Be patient and compassionate.

“When cute fades, what have you got? You may wish you could order a man like you order a customized coffee at Starbucks, but it isn’t going to happen. When your searching for someone you want to fall in love with, it’s important to be patient. It’s all a numbers game.”

Online services have lots of men and some sign up for multiple sites. Before you sign up for an online dating service, carefully consider how you portray yourself. Focus on classic qualities. Once you know what you want, it’s easier to know the personality categories you’re looking for and men that are compatible with yours.

Abstract qualities have outward signs. Learn to notice the clothes men wear, the speed of their thinking, their movements, and their approach with women. These are indicators you want to watch for to decide whether or not you should go on a second or third date.

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6. Get a coach or participate in a support group.

Do you trust your natural intuition? Think about all the chatter that goes on in your mind. It helps to get the conversations out of your head when you talk with others who have your best interest at heart. Although women can perceive that a relationship isn’t going to work in the long run, they’ll often go on dating guys, even though they know they’re dead end relationships. You need to be nice to others, but also avoid wasting time or getting your heart broken. Stay focused on your ultimate goal.

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“Everything is energy and vibrates at different frequencies. If you have been attracting men who don’t work out in relationships, you know that it’s a sign for you to increase your vibration through shifting your belief about what kind of partner suits you. When you love and appreciate your qualities and your peace, the quality of men that you attract will improve,” Patricia says. “The natural Law of Vibration says that like attracts like. What are you like?”

Patricia Fuqua Dating Diamonds

Both women and men fantasize about relationships. Make sure that you’re present, listening carefully and paying attention when you’re with a man, as well as paying attention to how you feel when you aren’t. It’s important to have a sounding board. Patricia helps women understand what they want to experience and how to attract the right men into their lives.

If you’re one of those women who has made massive mistakes in the past and want to change your dating destiny, call Patricia at 650-877-2563. If you live in Silicon Valley or the San Francisco Bay Area, you can schedule a private consultation in person with Patricia or attend one of her MeetUps.

 

CLICK HERE to buy Patricia’s book now.

Life Lessons I Learned From World Champ Darren LaCroix

By | coaches, PEOPLE | 4 Comments

“I moved to Vegas,” said road warrior Darren LaCroix. “My goal was to be so good that I could sleep in my own bed more often.” He went on to share countless personal stories of his own struggles and successes, including the fact that he flew into San Jose earlier today and had to leave shortly after the presentation for his flight back home to Las Vegas. This ironic conflict is just the sort of thing that captures audiences.

2014-06-18 Darren Lacroix sitting

World Champion Darren LaCroix

I’m so glad I showed up to hear Darren speak at Symantec! In less than two hours I picked up more than a dozen valuable life lessons from him. Here’s what I learned from this down-to-earth entertaining world champ:

1. Keep a story file.

Keep notes on things that happen to you throughout your life, even stories that are difficult to share. For each story, think about what point you can illustrate. Here’s how to become a good communicator: tell a good story, make a point. Repeat.

2. Collect quotes.

Collect quotes that inspire you. Read one every day for a dose of inspiration or motivation. If you don’t have time to collect quotes, sign up for Darren’s favorites at 365InspirationalQuotes.com.

3. Become a student of self-development.

Darren grew up with a club foot and it affected his self-esteem as a child. “Toastmasters didn’t just change my speaking. It changed my life,” says Darren. Join an organization that can help you reach your goals. “Two percent of people are funny . . . and I don’t like them either,” says Darren. The rest of us have to read books like Stand-Up Comedy: The Book to learn to be funny.

4. Let go of being perfect.

Share stories about your failures, your flaws and your firsts. Not only are they a source of humor, it’s also a great way to help others who can be encouraged by hearing the struggles you’ve gone through. Who knows, you may even become someone’s hero!

5. Be heroic by living out your passion.

You impact people more by the life you’re living than the speech your giving. People aren’t looking for speakers. They want heroes. “Heroes are imperfect individuals striving to be heroic by carrying out the things their passionate about,” Darren said.

6. Every interaction is important.

Darren shared a story about his grandfather who was a school crossing guard. He changed lives by the way he made people feel. Everyone who went to that school remembered him.

7. Change your habits to change your finances.

Your finances won’t change unless you change. Darren shared his recent experience of participating in a Dave Ramsey‘s Take Control of Your Money Program. Whether you want to eliminate debt or increase your income, you can begin today by setting goals and changing your habits to reach your goals. “If you want to live like no one else, you have to live like no one else,” Ramsey advises.

8. Keep going.

Want to know the secret of the people who succeed? The answer is simple. It’s whoever keeps going. Darren shared his story of studying 90 videos of world class speakers so that he could discover the difference between the people who came in 2nd place and those who came in 1st place. When you want to accomplish something, you’ve got to stay with it until you reach your destination. In 2001, Darren became the World Champion of Public Speaking with his Ouch speech.

2014-06-18 Darren LaCroix letter from Ron LeGrand9. Get a personal coach.

Get help from an expert to gain the skills you need to do what you’ve been longing to do. Darren shared his story about hiring Ron LeGrand, “the millionaire maker,” to help him learn the art of improving his sales pitch. Ron shot back with some very harsh criticism, but it was exactly what Darren needed to learn. “Great coaching expedites the process,” Darren says.

10. Don’t blame other people for anything.

After four years of business school, Darren invested $60,000 in opening his own Subway franchise. He did this despite the fact that his attorney advised him not to. After another Subway opened up four miles down the road, his business took a dive. Darren had to let all but one of his employees go and he, himself, had to work from 9 am – 1 am seven days a week. In just six short months, he doubled his debt. He ended up selling the business at a loss, but it was one of the biggest lessons he learned in his life. Not only did it up the ante on his personal work ethic, it also gave him a deep sense of personal responsibility for his decisions. Your woes can lead to your audience’s wows!

11. Build more stories by doing more.

Live more stories. Don’t worry about whether they’re going to turn out good or bad. As a communicator (or speaker), your stories are your assets. Because Darren was learning comedy, he got to know all the Boston headliners. He developed relationships with lots of local comedians. These comedians gave him a big inventory of ideas and it helped him on his own journey of adding more humor to his persona.

12. Tell your stories.

Your stories are gift cards. When you don’t tell them, they go unredeemed. Darren mentioned that in one year Best Buy had $16 million in gift card “breakage” (gift cards that go unredeemed). “How many lessons have you learned that you’ve never shared?” Darren asked. Most people never share their most valuable stories. The only way to redeem your value is to you give your lessons and stories away to others. “If you want to speak like no one else, you have to live like no one else,” Darren advises.

2014-06-18 Darren LaCroix at Symantec

Darren LaCroix sharing “how to impact lives through stories” at Symantec in San Jose, CA

13. Life is like a video game.

There are wolves out there who will try to eat you up, but they’re just sheep in wolf outfits. When you face challenges, you often fall down a level to learn something before you can climb up a ladder to get to the next level. Darren calls these “life lesson ladders.” In life and in games, you can fail many times and get back up with even greater strength and knowledge. But you only have one real life to live, so make sure you’re playing the game to the fullest!

2014-06-18 Darren LaCroix Gift Card

Next time a world champ or hero comes to your town, break out of your normal routine and go out of your way to hear him or her. Although I considered staying home this evening, I’m sure glad I ventured out to hear Darren LaCroix speak. I had a good excuse not to go: I had already heard him speak years ago in Florida and I had already purchased his Laff Pack that kept me laughing for months afterward.

A Toastmasters Champion Who Will Lift You Up

Darren reminded his (Toastmasters International) audience that we give others a gift when we tell our stories, especially those that involve hardships or failure. When we share them, we help others and, in some cases, we even become heroes! Darren was undoubtedly a hero to me and many others in the audience this evening!

2014-06-18 Darren LaCroix and Lorraine

Darren LaCroix and Dr. Lorraine in San Jose, CA

As a fellow Toastmaster, it’s my duty to give Darren a suggestion to improve his speech. He gave us a brief synopsis of his 17 Minutes to Your Dream commitment. I believe he would have given his audience a bigger gift if he encouraged each of us to set out on a similar course of action by committing a certain amount of time each day to turn our dreams into our realities . . . to take those steps after our Ouch. “If you’re willing to learn, you can do anything,” Darren says.

Do you want to be a super hero? If so, what are you doing to become that hero?

Do you want to be a world champ? If so, what actions are you taking on a daily basis to become that champion?

Toastmasters where leaders are made logo

10 Tips from a Silicon Valley author in love with hiking

By | authors, books, Natural Remedies | One Comment

Do you hate to exercise? What if you could find a way to work out for four hours solid every week and not mind a bit?

Miriam Nuney, a transplant from the flat plains of Illinois, has lived in Silicon Valley for decades. Once the hiking bug bit her, she dragged her husband out with her, convinced the exercise would do them both good. After shedding many pounds and getting into the best shape of their lives, they started inviting people to join them to discover the joys of getting above the stresses that technology can’t cure, but nature still can. Here’s what she has to say about hiking:

Ever go hiking with a group of friends?  There’s nothing like chatting the hours away, huffing and puffing up the hills and skipping along the trails, breathing fresh air, and staying blessedly away from all those handy tech-gadgets and cell phones that seem to be running our lives instead of making them easier.

Hikers on bridge Miriam Nuney IMG_2235

Photo courtesy of hiker Joan Kushner.

You’ve probably even seen hiking venues along your commute route and not even been aware hidden paths are calling for you to tread on them next weekend. I should know. You were me.  And boy was I surprised to find dozens of parks and designated open space areas ribboned with public trails just waiting for me to explore. So I did.

After years of hiking in the hills above California’s famed Silicon Valley, where the burning desire to escape confining cubicles and intrusive technology reaches dire levels, I can assure you there is nothing better for your physical and mental health than escaping into tantalizing wilderness and letting your cares and worries drop away for a few hours.

Hiker in woods Miriam Nuney DSC_0221

Photo courtesy of hiker Denise Herbst.

I’ve hiked with people who’ve achieved significant weight loss (we’re talking forty+ pounds!), recovered from spinal and knee surgeries, reduced to the bare minimum medications for chronic asthma and diabetes, and recuperated from bike and running injuries.

All from simply putting one foot in front of the other–again and again.

Walking is a natural human activity, so . . . if you can walk, you can hike.

Hiking generally means getting out into a large park and walking on dirt trails, usually including climbing hills, and occasionally crossing streams and clambering over fallen tree limbs. Yes, nature has a way of reminding us it has an awesome power we can’t control, but hey–humility is good for the soul. Learning to let go of problems we can’t do anything about is one way to alleviate unnecessary stress.

Hikers crossing stream Miriam Nuney DSC_0352

Photo courtesy of hiker Denise Herbst.

And don’t make any excuses about being too old–or young.  I’ve hiked with 10-year old kids who had more energy than me at the end of the hike, and a frail-looking 72-year old Chinese woman who carried water from her wells at home to keep fit.

In fact, she had the last laugh on us on one of our more challenging hikes at the Pinnacles National Monument in central California. This hike includes clambering over incredibly steep steps carved into a sheer volcanic mountainside, fortunately with sturdy handrails for those of us with a fear of heights. Afraid she might fall and break her hip, we dogged her every stride despite her protests she was “quite capable, thank you.”  

2012-03-10 Miriam Hiking Pinnaccles 058

Photo courtesy of hiker Joan Kushner.

We made it safely back to the parking area for a picnic lunch, and wouldn’t you know it–the youngest in our group slipped on a quarter-inch of low-lying water on the pavement and went down on her hands and knees!

A few minutes later we squished together on a picnic bench. I perched next to her on the very end and crossed my legs, only to find myself teetering off bench and onto the ground. Our Chinese friend couldn’t stop laughing at me. Trail hazards be damned!  It was the modern conveniences that got the better of us.

HIkers checking the trails Miriam Nuney DSC_0322

Photo courtesy of hiker Denise Herbst.

Before you head off hiking, here are ten safety precautions you should follow:

  1. Check the park’s website for trail conditions, maps, and entrance fees.
  2. Bring one friend…or more!  It’s unwise to hike alone.
  3. Estimate your time on trail–generally you hike at half the speed you walk.
  4. Bring 16 oz of water per hour on trail, and bring snacks such as nuts, granola bars and fruit.
  5. Wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, sturdy shoes and socks (jacket and gloves as needed). 
  6. Pack a basic first aid kit with bandages, a pain reliever and any special meds you need.
  7. Hike in the daytime. Avoid hiking at dawn or dusk due to bugs and critters.
  8. Check weather forecasts and be prepared for even the slight possibility of bad weather. 
  9. Pack a spare change of clothes and extra water, and leave in the car.
  10. Anticipate making your way out on your own. Most trails do not have cell phone coverage, so don’t assume help is a quick phone call away. 

hiking cartoon

Don’t let the unknown outdoors stay unknown for long. Get out there and embrace it!  There is nothing more real than getting out into the hills and meeting head-on the challenges of nature and, best yet, overcoming them.

Hiking Group Picture--Miriam Nuney

Photo courtesy of hiker W. Douglas Lamb.

If you live in Silicon Valley or you’re planning a trip in the area, be sure to check out Miriam’s eBook, 101 Great Hikes Above Silicon Valley, available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Smashwords. To join their hiking group at no charge, send an email to JohnMiriamNuney@aol.com. For comments or suggestions about this blog post or her ebook, email Miriam directly at MNuney@aol.com.

101 Great HIkes Above Silicon Valley by Miriam Nuney s260x420

Book cover photo by Robert L. McQueer.

Why you ought to squat a lot: 7 benefits of squat toilets

By | home, Natural Remedies, parenting | 4 Comments

Did you realize that squat toilets are the norm for the majority of people throughout the world? If you grew up using a Western toilet, you might find this surprising but . . . squatting is the natural position for better elimination.

split pants baby squattingIn China, babies are allowed to follow their instinct and squat when they need to go. Although they usually wear diapers for the first few months, they’re quickly weaned off diapers and clothed into crotchless pants that make it easy for them to go when they need to.

When a child is outdoors, the caretaker usually tries to get the child to go on the nearest tree or landscaped area, sometimes holding him or her from their knees in a hanging squat position until the child is finished.

When an adult sees a toddler going down into the squatting position, it’s obvious that the child is getting ready to go. I remember many times, when living in China, seeing babies and toddlers stopping in their tracks and stooping to squat. The parent or caretaker, and everyone else around, knows exactly what’s coming!

America is the land of dog and cat lovers. It’s socially acceptable for animals to pee or poo near trees or grassy areas, but many Western travelers sneer when they see human babies doing the same.

The health benefit for the child is that their bottom isn’t soaking in their pee or poo in their diaper. It’s all wiped away immediately, just as adults do for themselves. Some Asians view diapering as a dirty and unhealthy practice. Which is more important? The cleanliness of the sidewalk area or the cleanliness of the baby’s bottom? Your culture has taught you the “right” answer.

Warning: Old People and Frogs May Trigger Culture Shock

Before you cringe about hygiene, keep in mind that dogs, cats, birds, and nearly all other living creatures defecate in their natural settings. They don’t have indoor plumbing. In all cases (whether animals or humans), it’s best if the excrement is collected and disposed of properly, especially in highly populated areas.

Did you hear the joke about the toilet? Never mind, it’s too dirty. Great Clean Jokes

man pooping in a squat toiletBefore I traveled to China, I didn’t know much about squat toilets, but within a few weeks of living there, I noticed the benefits of squatting. Not only did it feel more natural, I also gained more strength in my calves and thighs from squatting several times throughout the day.

Consider the following seven health benefits of squatting:

  1. In general, squat toilets are more sanitary than Western toilets because your body doesn’t need to touch any of the toilet parts. Passport and a Toothbrush
  2. Squatting is the natural position for elimination. It positions your muscles in a more ready position for elimination. Wellness Mama
  3. Squatting helps to alleviate hemorrhoids. Lillipad
  4. According to Dr. Oz, constipation is the #1 gastrointestinal complaint in the US and, in rare cases, can even be fatal. Squatting is a natural treatment for constipation. Squatty Potty
  5. Squatting allows you to better empty your bowels which reduces your chances of irritable bowel syndrome, appendicitus and fecal stagnation which can lead to colon cancer. Nature’s Platform
  6. Squatting when you eliminate may help prevent numerous health issues caused by western toilets such as: bladder incontinence, diverticulosis, endometriosis, GERD, heart attacks, hiatus hernia, hysterectomy, pregnancy and childbirth issues, prostate disorders, sexual dysfunction, uterine fibroids and much more. Adam Huber
  7. Squatting helps to increase your flexibility in your ankles, calves and thighs. It can help you maintain balance. This is especially helpful as you age. Squatters tend to have better health throughout their lives and are therefore less likely to be as needy in their later years.

If four out of five Westerners suffer from one of these Western-toilet related ailments, does that mean that one enjoys it? Porcelain Poetry

Are you pooping wrong? 

Some experts believe the western toilet was one of the worst inventions in modern times, as detrimental to people’s health as cars. Just as cars have taken away people’s need to walk when they want to go somewhere, Western toilets have taken away people’s natural tendency to squat when they need to go. If you believe it’s more “civilized” to sit on a toilet, sit in a car, sit at work all day, and sit on the couch in the evening, you must also conclude that it’s more “civilized” to have more health issues. Real Constipation Remedies

When I moved to China I found it fascinating to see people relaxing in the streets or in the subways in the squat position. Interestingly enough, while I lived in China it quickly became a comfortable and relaxing position for me as well.

men in Asia squatting

When you feel the urge to go, try to go soon. If you make a habit of going in the squat position when nature calls, you do yourself a big favor. Holding it puts extra stress on your bowels, your stomach, and your digestion system. Squatting allows for a full release.

“But where do I put my feet?” Here are some basics on how to use a squat toilet:

Don’t assume that a Western toilet, or “porcelain throne” is better just because you’re accustomed to it.

If you have a Western toilet at home, consider purchasing a platform that allows you to squat. It relaxes the muscles in your back and throughout your body making it easier for you to release fecal matter.

If you’ve never tried squatting, you can work your way up to it by using higher and higher footstools near your toilet. You can also practice extra squats throughout the day. Over time your flexibility will increase.

Your Best Excuse for Not Going to the Gym

You don’t have to go to a gym to work out. If you squat each time you go to the bathroom, you can work on increasing your strength and flexibility multiple times a day wherever you are.

Trainers recommend that you breathe out as you squat down and breathe in as you stand back up. This may be something helpful to think about as you’re practicing squats. Squatting improves the flexibility in your legs and back, and it also helps to maintain your core strength. If you can already squat down and balance on your feet for several minutes, you’re probably in fairly good shape.

If you aren’t flexible enough to squat yet, begin incorporating squats into your daily routine. Practice squats throughout the day when you’re doing household chores, gardening, or reaching for things on low shelves. With practice, you can increase your strength and flexibility.

11 Equipment Essentials for Easy Everyday Exercises

If you’re interested in purchasing some type of device to help you get started at home, begin by using a stool to prop up your feet in front of your toilet or purchase a toilet adapter from the Squatty Potty (7″ or 9″ foot elevation) if you’re a beginner, the Lillipad (12.75″ and 15″ foot elevation) once you’ve developed some flexibility, or Nature’s Platform (adjustable to the height of your toilet) when you’ve achieved maximum flexibility.

The next time I remodel, build, or buy a home, I definitely want to have at least one squat toilet. In the meantime, I’ll keep lifting the toilet seat to squat on western thrones. Always lift toilet seats when squatting because they often shift when you put all your weight on them.

squatting

Once you increase your strength and flexibility, you can practice squatting on Western toilets when you’re away from home. When you’re using Western toilets in public restrooms, choose handicapped stalls whenever possible because they have handle bars to hang on to. This helps to make it a little safer.

Although I have more I’d like to share with you, I really need to go . . .

toilet hackers org logo

Michael Mobbs offers 9 tips for a more sustainable home

By | authors, books, eating, gardening, health, laundry | One Comment

Would you like to cut your living expenses in half without giving up modern luxuries? Me too. That’s why I wanted to meet Michael Mobbs and see his home that’s (almost) off the grid in the heart of a big city. On a recent trip to Sydney, I had the opportunity to meet with Mobbs and get a private tour of his Sustainable Home. Here’s what I learned . . .

SusHouseCover2print.inddSince 1996 Michael Mobbs has lived in a unique house in the center of Sydney, Australia. If you rode by on your bike, you wouldn’t notice anything different from the outside. Only a plumber or electrician working on the inside would know the difference. With three other house friends, Mobbs’ total annual water and energy bills are less than $300 AU or about $280 US. His three bedroom home is about a 40 minute walk from the Sydney Opera House.

He has solar panels on his roof. The electric company sends him a check to pay for the clean solar electricity he puts into their main grid lines.

In 1996 he disconnected the water and sewer. He uses rain water that falls on his roof in place of tap water. He treats his own water that flows from his toilets, washing machine and kitchen sink. The system recycles the water back into the house. He uses the recycled water to flush the toilets, wash clothes and hose his beautiful backyard garden. He doesn’t pay any water or sewer bills. In his book, he describes how the simple wastewater system works.

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Michael Mobbs Sustainable Home backyard water treatment garden

The house is still connected to gas. The annual bill is about $200 US.

“I’m not special, kinda short, have no handy skills and can barely drive a nail. If I can do it, you can too,” says Mobbs.

Even if you do own a home, you may not be ready to generate your own electricity and collect and process your own water. But you can begin with smaller projects. I asked Michael for some tips that almost anyone could apply regardless of where they live. Here are some of his recommendations on how to save money even if you’re renting an apartment.

1. When one of your lights goes out, replace it with an LED bulb. LED lights are much more efficient.

2. Paint interior walls shades of white. This also applies to outdoor areas, such as fences. White reflects light back into your rooms. Avoid dark carpet, walls or furniture. Black eats light while pale colors bounce it around.

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Michael Mobbs Sustainable House

3. Install a water efficient shower head. You can take it with you if you move. It saves the energy that it takes to make the water hot and it also cuts down on your water usage. It can save over 15,000 gallons of water a year in a four-person household. This is especially important if you have one or more people in your household who take long showers. Even if you take short showers, you can relax knowing that the same amount of time will cost less.

4. Get a water and energy efficient dishwasher and washing machine. This can knock up to 50% off your energy and water bills. Efficient ones will use about 10-20% of what the standard guzzlers use.

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups

5. Get the most energy efficient refrigerator possible. It runs 24/7 and is typically the biggest energy-using appliance in your home.

6. Catch rain water if you can. You can use it to water your indoor and outdoor plants. You may be able to do this even if you’re in an apartment and only have access to a small balcony.

SusHouseCover2print.indd7. Grow food you can eat. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can grow mint, garlic, rosemary, lemongrass and other plants suitable for indoor environments or small spaces on balconies. Grow mung beans for your salads in a glass jar on your window sills. Get involved with a community garden if there’s one in your neighborhood. If you have too much of one type of food, swap surplus food with other gardeners.

8. Buy food from your local farmers markets. Fresh produce is always healthier and more nutritious than the store-bought refrigerated stuff.

9. Compost fruit and vegetable scraps to make soil for your pots and/or garden. Even if you don’t have a lot of space you can add worms to your compost and they will turn it into fertile black gold (dirt) in 1-3 months.

Mobbs says a modest meal which includes a small portion of meat puts a much greater strain on the environment than a meal that’s fully vegetarian. We need to think about our overall impact on the environment even outside our homes.

“The energy and water needed to keep me alive is about 20-40 times greater than the energy and water needed to run my house. Yes, my house saves over 100,000 liters (about 20,000 gallons) of dam water a year by harvesting the water which falls for free using the natural stormy energy of the skies. But in ten days of eating the typical Australian diet, there’s over 100,000 liters of water needed to grow, harvest, clean, store, package, transport and refrigerate my food. My little tummy uses far more water and energy than my house,” says Mobbs.

Michael Mobbs Sustainable House with Lorraine

Dr Lorraine Haataia with Michael Mobbs in front of his Sustainable House in Sydney, Australia

The costs, designs, products, materials, tragedies, mistakes, truths, and failures of his house and tummy are spelled out in his two books: Sustainable House and Sustainable Food.

“Plug the leaks in your home. When you take steps to reduce your living expenses and environmental impact, you may ultimately reduce your financial stress and have the chance to invest in new opportunities with the money you save,” Mobbs says.

A few years ago my husband and I traded in our big suburban home with a 3-car garage for smaller living quarters. This freed up both time and money giving us the opportunity travel to places like Sydney.

The next time you’re in Sydney, be sure to tour Michael Mobbs’ Sustainable House or see the scaled down version of his home at the Powerhouse Museum near Darling Harbour.

In the introduction of his Sustainable Homes book, Mobbs offers some of the key lessons he learned through the decisions he made with his own home. If you aspire to create a more sustainable home, look for others in your community who are making changes in their homes and lifestyles. You’ll get there much quicker if you share your challenges, successes and fears with them.

Steven Wright recently moved into an all electric house. One evening he forgot to turn off the lights before he went to sleep. When he woke up in the morning to let his dog out to pee, the front door wouldn’t work. 

Take a look at this candid interview with Mobbs as he explains how he handles some of the resistance he faces as a positive change-maker doing things that seem perfectly logical. His advises everyone to have the courage to say, “I can do this.”

It’s helpful when your cohorts share common factors such as weather, jurisdictions and local suppliers. And even better if they have some professional experience that might help to expedite projects. Mobbs happens to be an environmental lawyer by trade. In 2009, The (Sydney) Magazine listed Mobbs as one of Sydney’s 100 most influential people. See the About Michael page on the Sustainable House website to learn more about him.

 Build It Green logo

 

WARNING: Old people and frogs may trigger culture shock

By | GO, longevity, love, parenting | 3 Comments
Eric Chen Lorraine Wei Eddie Toastmasters

Lorraine with Naigui Chen (wearing a tie)

When I first met Naigui Chen in China, he introduced himself to me with his English name, Eric. I was immediately impressed with his fluency in English, but even more so with his hospitality and kindness.

My husband and I had recently moved to Shenzhen and decided to join the nearest English-speaking Toastmasters club. Eric happened to be the president of this club, Eloquence of the Elites (EOE). My husband and I became good friends with Chen and many others in the club.

At the end of summer 2013, my husband and I moved back to the US and, coincidently, Chen moved to Indianapolis for the MBA program at Kelley School of Business.

A few days ago, I received this note from Chen . . .

Hi Lorraine, I went to a nursing home to help move someone to a different facility because his health is deteriorating. It was the first time I saw such a thing as nursing homes. It’s so sad. On the way back home in the car, I cried my heart out. And then I thought about the Chinese belief of children taking care of their old parents is a good thing. It’s such an emotional time for me. I don’t think I will ever forget it. I thought I might share this special experience with you.

Thank you so much for sharing this story with me Chen. It means a lot to me! It’s the American way. Many people have compartmentalized lives. Can you please tell me more about your experience?

old people

Absolutely. My friend is a hospice consultant and I went to help him move a patient from a nursing home to an assisted living community for Alzheimer patients. What really shocked me was the dining room full of patients, people at the end of their lives, away from their children and taken care of by staff. In China we don’t have many of these. The children are supposed to take care of their parents no matter what happens. Although nursing homes are starting to appear in China, most people don’t send their parents to those places because of the social stigma. Seeing all these patients was just too strong an emotional impact for me. The good news is when we got back today, there were volunteers coming in to teach songs. Music made most of the time a little more tolerable for me.

When I heard Chen’s reaction to American culture, I immediately thought about the Boiling Frog Syndrome.

If frogs can be content in hot water, can seniors be content in retirement homes, apart from their families? Turns out that many seniors in retirement homes are happy as long as they feel connected to other people, regardless of whether or not they’re family. Pets and even social media sites such as Facebook also provide a satisfying sense of connection. AARP

Another factor that affects happiness in old age is a person’s perception. People who are happier in their younger years are likely to become even happier as they age. People who are irritable in their younger years are more likely to become grumpy old people. The same applies to health. People who are lively or athletic at a younger age tend to be healthier as they age. Our characteristics tend to become more exaggerated over time. Wouldn’t it be it great to know now How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free?

One of the things I like most about Chinese culture is the sense of community. In the daytime, you see the elderly pushing their grandchildren in strollers. They park the buggies and congregate in parks to talk with friends as the toddlers play. As the kids get older, you see grandparents waiting for their grandkids outside schools at the end of the school day.

Go Away! And Other Good Advice Parents Should Give Kids

In the subways you see all ages, young and old, moving about together to their next destination. These grandparents aren’t in wheelchairs. They stay active because they have purpose. Many of them also do the shopping and prepare meals for three generations. This aspect of Chinese culture, some gerentologists say, is one of the reasons why Hong Kong (with similar traditions) touts the greatest percentage of centenarians in the world. China Daily

In the evenings you see the elderly dancing in the parks or walking arm in arm with their spouses or adult children. It’s common to see an old person hanging on to their adult child for support, but very rare to see anyone in a wheelchair.

Since returning to the US, this sense of community and connectedness is one of the things I miss most about Chinese culture. Although I wasn’t anyone’s child, parent or grandparent there, the people in my neighborhood who recognized me would smile at me every day, acknowledging my presence. I really like that about them.

But it was also shocking to me that Chinese women my age would choose to live with their in-laws and/or adult children and derail their careers while their husbands had the opportunity to advance in their jobs and, in some cases rumor has it, have affairs with younger women.

The Chinese ladies I befriended would twist their arms around mine when we walked together. And both males and female friends rub shoulders while eating a meal or talking together. Even as a foreigner with very limited language skills, I felt closely connected to many of my Chinese friends physically, mentally and even spiritually. Humans are humans in every race. I didn’t expect it, but the end of our going away party when we said goodbye to some of our closest Chinese friends, several of us fought back tears.

If you move a native Chinese senior to an American nursing home, he might fall into deep depression. Or if you told an American senior that she was responsible for taking care of her grandchildren and cooking for her adult children every day, she may feel cheated out of her restful retirement years. It all depends on the person and his or her expectations. You’re Only Old Once, so you might as well make the most of it.

Chen is an especially kind and sensitive man. I’m sure the elderly man sincerely appreciated Chen’s help with his move. If Chen were to ever to lead a retirement home in the US or China, it would be a wonderful place to live. Chen would make sure of that. I saw his leadership skills in action in one of the best Toastmasters clubs I’ve ever been involved with in the past decade. He has the good nature and wisdom to influence the people around him to bring out the best in everyone.

frog cartoonCulture brainwashes us to expect people around us to act a certain “normal” way. When we travel to other cultures, we see people acting “abnormally.” Sometimes it seems a little strange. Other times it’s so disgusting or delightful, so appalling or appealing that it causes us to experience culture shock. Ironically, you can find micro-cultures of people, even within your own country, who aren’t doing things the way you think they should.

Many people live like frogs in hot pots, on the edge of boiling point, knowing that something isn’t quite right, but too stifled by cultural or family pressures to do anything about it. They don’t care enough to take action until it’s too late.

You may not be able to change your culture or family, but I urge you to create happiness in your life sooner than later. Check your temperature.

Meditation: The Answer to All Your Problems

What’s the one thing you need to do now to create more happiness in your life?

 AARP logo - The power to make it better.

 

 

 

It doesn’t take a PhD to see that DOE deserves a D in education

By | education, Movies, NONPROFITS, parenting | One Comment

USDOE logoDear Mr. President,

I know you’re very busy trying to fix the deficit, the economy, the NSA and the ObamaCare website, but every good dad should have a few minutes to take a look at his kid’s report card. There’s something else you need to fix. Your child, Doe, isn’t doing very well in school. Here’s DOE’s report card.

Math & Science Scores – C

Among other countries, the US ranks 31st in math and 23rd in science. Students FirstThis puts US students in the “middle of the pack,” about the equivalent of a C. Huffington Post. This average score, however, has nothing to do with the number of qualified math teachers. They always multiply. PunOfTheDay 

School Lunches – F

Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. CDC. When kids walk through hallways to go to another class or to go eat their Monsanto lunch, they pass by vending machines filled with junk food. Huffington Post. Most people believe that school lunches play a big part in contributing to childhood obesity and that schools have a big influence on what kids eat. FreshBites. Overweight kids are more likely to face health issues that will shorten their lives and they add economic burden to all citizens. Some students are so fat, they can’t even jump to conclusions. JustOneLinersFood Matters!

Physical Education – D

Only six states require physical education classes. As school budgets have been tightening their belts, students have been letting theirs out. Physical education and other elective classes such as nutrition and health have been cut. This is further exacerbating the obesity issue. SPARK. Some young moms are so out of shape that they have trouble pulling shopping carts apart. AgelessFx

Graduation Rate – F

According to the OECD, the United States has a 76% graduation rate. The No Child Left Behind plan failed. The White House. Of the OECD countries, 20 of the 34 are doing better in providing a basic education to their citizens. I wasn’t a math major, but I think this means that the US ranks around 38%, equivalent to an F. We need more teachers like Erin Gruwell, who rallied up students to be Freedom Writers. Recently, a group of dropouts gathered at the front of a movie theatre for a noon matinee on a school day. They were all texting and one by one more kept showing up. As the crowd grew to more than a dozen teens, the manager stepped outside to ask what they were doing. One young man with oversize droopy pants spoke up said they were still waiting on a few more friends since the sign said that 17 and under were not admitted. Jeff Foxworthy

SAT & ACT Scores – D

Maybe students aren’t interested in studying at school and they’re picking up their reading and writing skills on social networking sites? Maybe not. SAT and ACT scores are generally on a downward trend. The Unsilenced Science. The DOE needs to invest more in high-tech teaching tools and less on high-tech security equipment, then these scores would be rising, not falling. “Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Kuwait,” says A. Whitney Brown.

Teachers – D

Teacher job satisfaction is the lowest it has been in 25 years. If the teachers aren’t happy teaching, then students won’t be happy learners. Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teacher’s union, says, “Teacher job satisfaction will continue to free fall as long as school budgets are slashed.” Huffington Post. Do we need more money or do we need more teachers like Jaime Escalante who are willing to Stand and Deliver?

Spending – D

If you’re thinking that we need to spend more money to solve the problem, consider this. The US already spends more on education than any other participating OECD country. NEA TodayIf I were a business consultant and found out that a company was spending more than any of their competitors to deliver their service, and customers and employees were unsatisfied, I’d give them a D with a warning that they better start doing their homework before they go out of business.

Schools – D

The education system is needs fixin’. It’s going to take a superhero to take care of all these issues! Fortunately, there are some superheros among us. Some kids have the good fortune of getting into KIPP schools. But we need more superheroes like SuperMike and SuperDave KIPPsters to figure out how to get all kids into successful schools. Watch Waiting for Superman free on Vimeo to see how KIPP schools have overcome these issues and found a way to successfully prepare their students for college. Check out the trailer. . .

By bringing Monsanto executives into your administration, you’ve been quite successful at destroying America’s food system and the health of American people. Occupy Monsanto. This leadership thing really seems to do the trick. By the way, was the tree in the DOE logo genetically modified too?

Stand Up For Kids“My school was so tough, the school newspaper had an obituary section,” says Norm CrosbyTake a look inside one of the country’s most dangerous schools on this ABC News report. “If you know any teenagers in prison, send them some candy to help them break out.” Jill Perlow

Today’s kids are generally worse off than their parents, mentally, physically and financially. I’m writing on behalf of all the kids who are suffering, getting left behind, sleeping in the streetsgetting locked up and dying for help. The kids are Waiting for Superman! Can you please hire some KIPP-like leaders to head up the DOE so that they can help all our young does and John Does succeed? Please call immediately to schedule a parent-teacher conference.

Go Away! And other good advice parents should give kids

KIPP Work hard. Be nice.

This CAR game will drive you crazy

By | parenting, transportation | 6 Comments

The Covert Auto Racket (CAR) is a game patented by the government. They use your tax dollars to build, maintain and police the playing board (the roads). They also write the rules. Big corporations market the game, sell the pieces and set the costs on all the stuff you need in order to play.

car crashCAR is a game of solitaire, but you do compete with all the other players and objects on the road. The purpose of the game is to navigate your motorized vehicle without bumping into anything. It sounds fairly simple, but it’s a costly and risky game. Wired

The CAR game creates the illusion of freedom. Players feel like they can go anywhere they want. They quickly become addicted and start to believe they can’t do without a car.

Many parents teach their kids to play the CAR game, seeing it as a necessary step in helping teens transition to self-reliance. This complex game was carefully crafted so that even parents wouldn’t realize that the game actually fosters dependence on vehicles, big corporations and the government.

In order to play the CAR game, you must first pay for the following: driver’s license, car, license plate, title fees, inspection fees and insurance. Even after you have all the basics, keep in mind that you’ll need to continue paying for things indefinitely: insurance, gas, maintenance, repairs, parking fees, parking permits, tolls, annual license plate registration stickers, monthly payments, and loan fees if you borrowed money. And of course there are additional taxes and other hidden costs.

You may be involved in an accident or your car may break down at any time. Any player can shop around for estimates on repairs. But only players with good driving records should bother to shop around for better rates on insurance. And players need good credit to shop around for better rates on car loans. No players, however, can control the rising cost of gas.

Players must yield to all the rules or they risk incurring additional expenses such as parking tickets, towing fees, speeding tickets, attorney expenses, court fees, insurance increases and even lawsuits or imprisonment if they do something really stupid like driving while intoxicated or intexticated.

One time a cop pulled me over for running a stop sign.

“Didn’t you see the stop sign?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said, “but I don’t believe everything I read.” Steven Wright

Speed limits are posted on roads and you’re supposed to obey them. You can go faster, but you risk getting a speeding ticket. New speed-trap technologies are helping to increase revenues for local jurisdictions who have ticket quotas to help compensate for their tightening budgets. Players can cheat by slowing down in known speed trap areas.

Freeways are places where players are free to toss their fast food trash out their windows while they’re on their way. These free-to-litter-ways are expensive to build and maintain. Taxes cover the cost of the government employees who build and maintain them and the prisoners who clean up the garbage. Most players don’t feel bad about this, however, because they know their tax dollars are paying for the prisoners‘ meals and housing. They seem to qualify for more benefits than the working poor.

Years ago, some players got annoyed with the amount of litter on the freeways. In 1984, James R. “Bobby” Evans came up with the brilliant idea of getting people to volunteer to clean up after their lazy neighbors. For this, the Adopt a Highway program gives companies or organizations a discrete sign to advertise the fact that they have volunteered to be the garbage collector for this stretch of the road. If the road looks bad, it’s now the fault of that company whose volunteers are slacking.

The US has long held the record for more cars per capita than any other nation in the world. And the government has convinced players that this makes them champs. Winners, some believe, have nice cars, vanity plates and two or three-car garages attached to big houses in the suburbs. They may look like winners, but keep in mind that the game wasn’t designed for the players to win. The only winners in the CAR game are the oil diggers and frackers, and big companies who make or sell CAR stuff.

Losers appear to be the people who have older model cars or ones in disrepair. But some of these people have more assets than the ones driving newer models. It’s nearly impossible to know, however, because Americans rarely share financial information with anyone they trust.

woman in car Betty Auchard

Illustration by Betty Auchard

Many people play the CAR game for years without realizing how much stress it causes. According to a recent study by MIT and Audi, driving can be as stressful as skydiving.NYDailyNews. Players can expect to get stressed out twice a day by their work commutes. Slate. And players can also expect to get stressed out when driving with their kids or spouse . . .

It’s hard to avoid playing the CAR game in a country where the federal government has invested in interstates instead of trains, and state and local jurisdictions have invested in pavement instead of public transportation. The US has more cars per capita than nearly every other country in the world. According to DriveSteady, “the United States is clearly in the lead.” In 1991 more than 95% of American households had a car. But the numbers are finally starting to shift. Today, that number is closer to 90%. CNBC

CAUTION: Once you start playing the CAR game, there are only two ways out. You quit or die.

Some players quit against their will. They can no longer afford the car, they lose their license or their health has deteriorated from so many years of a sedentary lifestyle and now they’re no longer healthy enough to drive. This can leave seniors stranded, forcing them to give up their homes in the suburbs.

Some people quit willingly. They see the financial and health advantages and they position their home, work and family life in such a way that they don’t have to play this stressful game any longer. Few people have the willpower to do this in a culture which has designed its infrastructure around cars instead of people. According to Louis CK, people who play the Covert Auto Racket game have a different set of values.

Corvette from HellMillions of Americans are injured in traffic accidents each year. The CDC reminds people to buckle up and reduce their drinking and driving, but they don’t say anything about alternate transportation modes. Every day, thousands of people are involved in crashes that result in injuries and deaths.  In 2012, there were 34,080 motor vehicle fatalities in the US. NHTSA. About 93 people die each day on American roads and, unfortunately, some are just innocent pedestrians and bike riders. The three major causes of fatal accidents are distractions, speeding and drunk driving. These are just some of the reasons why this game drives people MADD.

There were times in my life when I played the CAR game and times when I didn’t. I’ve lived in everything from small towns to big cities. Lots of college towns have high walkability scores. I lived virtually car-free for many years as I progressed through my education at Monterey Peninsula College, Slippery Rock University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Florida.

Europe has great public transportation. I went anywhere I needed to go by foot, bus or train when I lived in Nancy, France. I also lived without a car in one of the biggest cities in the world, Shenzhen, China. Coincidently, they have one of the newest subway systems in the world and it hooks up to high-speed trains or planes that take you anywhere you want to go.

It’s easy to quit the CAR game. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose. Like gambling in a Vegas casino, CAR will welcome you back into the game again anytime you show up with a big wad of money.

zipcar

I always enjoy the more relaxed lifestyle when I’m not playing the CAR game. I’m currently living car-free in one of the biggest cities in the US, San Jose, CA. It’s easy to get around here by foot, bikebus, light railsubwaytrain and even plane.

Every now and then if I really need a car, I use Uber, Lyft or Sidecar, or I rent a ZipCar for a few hours. Parents tell their kids to share their toys, but toddlers are watching to see whether or not their parents share theirs.

Jacob, a teen boy, just passed his driver’s test and asked his dad if he could borrow the car.

“Bring your grades up from a C to B average, study the Bible, get a haircut, and then we’ll talk,” his father responded.

At the end of the semester, Jacob showed his father his report card and asked, “can I borrow the car now?”

“You have a B average and I’ve seen you reading the Bible, but your hair is longer than it was before.”

“But dad, Samson, John the Baptist, Moses and even Jesus had long hair!”

“Yes, and they all walked everywhere they went.” GuySports

 

Public Transportation Takes Us There logo

 

Go Away! And other good advice parents should give kids

By | education, GO, Movies, parenting, travel | 2 Comments

A pilot made a very rough landing, skidding the plane on its belly across the runway. As part of his job he was required to stand at the terminal door and say goodbye to the passengers as they disembarked. He was afraid of what they might say about his landing. But nearly everyone passed by without saying a word until the last few people were exiting and one little boy asked, “Did we land, or were we shot down?” AJokeADay

Sum Ting Wong? Yes.

Ho Lee Fuk. What’s up?

Wi Tu Lo. Our scores need to go up.

The US spends more $15,000 per student annually. This is more per student than any other country. OECD.

Ho Lee Fuk.

And here’s what we get for our money . . .

How is it that something like this can make national news in America? Did you know that the US has been slipping behind in the global report card for years? Even smart people who work at places like news agencies can be duped by an intern or Dum Gai.

It doesn’t take a PhD to see the DOE deserves a D in education

According to the OECD, the US falls well below the global average for the percentage of students graduating from high school. The NO Child Left Behind policy obviously doesn’t apply to ALL children. If you want to increase your child’s chance of graduating from high school, you’re better off in Slovenia, Finland, Japan, Korea, the UK, or more than a dozen other countries that outperform the US.

Wi Tu Lo.

But if you have the money, you can move to an upscale suburban neighborhood where higher property taxes help to ensure that your child gets a better than average education.

Watch Waiting for ‘Superman’ to see if you have enough money to play education roulette with your kid’s future. I don’t cry easily, but this film had me sobbing over the fact that American leaders are neglecting the education of millions of children, instead choosing to imprison them as young adults, causing them to fall into a life of poverty where they scrape by in less than desirable neighborhoods. And become a financial burden to all Americans. The wrong people are going to jail in this case! Go KIPPsters!

Sum Ting Wong?

Apparently some children are more important than others.

Ho Lee Fuk.

Bang Ding Ow.

Do you believe everything you hear on the evening news? I don’t either and I urge you to start looking for second and third opinions elsewhere. And teach your kids to do the same. If you and your kids can get news in other languages, all the better. Languages act like firewalls. If you can’t speak a language, you miss out on a lot of information on the other side of the wall.

Powerful corporations act like firewalls too. A Canadian poll recently revealed that 90% of scientists are afraid to speak openly to the media about the work they do. Tyee. The survey also found that 24% were asked to exclude or alter information for non-scientific reasons and 37% were told not to respond to questions by the public or media. Media Matters! Watch the War on Whistleblowers to learn more about Hu Yu Hai Ding. PL

Big corporations buy out news organizations, politicians and scientists to ensure that we only hear what they want us to hear. And they pay off citizens to keep their mouths shut.

So Su Mi. GLP

Smart people with ethics don’t last long under these circumstances. They eventually lose something: their ethics, conscious, job, home, health or life.

Sum Ting Wong!

The Union of Concerned Scientists represent 400,000 scientists and citizens from all walks of life who believe that we should be making decisions based on science without obstructions from politics, the media or corporations. UCS is working on some of the world’s most daunting problems such as global warming, how to feed, power and transport the world’s growing population, and how to reduce the threat of catastrophic war.

Bang Ding Ow.

Watch Collapse to get an idea of how we got where we are and for tips on what you can do to help prepare for the future.

Survival of the fittest applies to both animals and people. The country with the smartest and healthiest people has the best chance of surviving. According to the OECD, Asian students make up 53% of foreign students enrolled in universities worldwide. The largest numbers of foreign students are from China, India and Korea, and these numbers continue to grow. Europe is the top destination for students enrolled in college outside their country of origin. Although foreigners are still enrolling in American universities, it’s on a downward trend. Wonder why?

Talk to Wi Tu Lo and Wi Tu Phat.

Yang Mythos France Eiffel Tower

Yang Mythos students from China sketching the Eiffel Tower

An American man struck up a conversation with a woman from Switzerland while on a Mediterranean cruise. They seemed to be hitting it off fairly well so he invited her to go for a dip in the sea followed by dinner when they docked in Rome.

“Can you speak Italian?” she asked.

“I’m American. I only speak English,” he responded.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I speak Italian, so I can order dinner for us.”

“Can you swim?” he asked.

“No,” she said, “but I can scream for help in six different languages.” HBBB

If you want your children or grandchildren to have a better understanding of the world, encourage them to travel and study abroad. There are so many things they’ll never see or comprehend if they never leave the country or learn another language.

You can’t see your country when you’re too busy driving between your home in the suburbs to your job, to strip malls scattered all over the place and to gas stations to keep filling up your tank. And the growing number of less fortunate who don’t have a car or home, are too busy trying to figure out how they can safely eat and sleep each day. Have you found your Escape from Suburbia yet?

Every good artist knows that you have to step back and look at your creation from a distance. Only then do you gain a true perspective on the whole.

This is when you gain new insights and come up with innovative ideas. That’s what a democracy is about, right? Education for all and freedom of speech for all. We educate our people so they have a fair shot at the American dream and a say in shaping our country, making it a better place for everyone.

A great time to live abroad is to take a year between high school and college or a year between a bachelor’s and master’s degree, or a year between completing a college degree and getting a job. If you’re like most people and don’t have the funds to lay on the beach for a year, look for a work opportunity in another country. You’ll learn a whole lot more that way any how and build a resume line that may help you for years to come. New York Times Gap Year

You don’t have to wait until your kids or grandkids are in college. Students can participate in exchange programs in middle school or high school. When I was living in Shenzhen, China, I had the opportunity to befriend and become language partners with Yang Mei Hong, the founder of Yang Mythos, of one of the most amazing intercultural schools I’ve ever seen.

Yang Mythos - Lorraine & Mei

Dr. Lorraine Haataia & Yang Mei Hong at Yang Mythos Center at Children’s Palace in Shenzhen, China

Yang Mythos Art Education Center isn’t only about art, fashion, dance and travel. It’s so much more. Students have the opportunity to attend local art classes with many talented foreign, bicultural or bilingual teachers as well as participate in international exchange programs. These real-life experiential programs give them hands-on opportunities to practice creativity, happiness, wisdom, enlightenment, and much more. The teachers, parents and students all have fun while building relationships and bridges among people and across cultures.

Yang Mythos has more than a dozen exchange centers throughout the world, in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Canada, France and Germany. And they just recently opened a new center in Washington, DC.

Yang Mythos Berlin WallThis Chinese boy is writing on the Berlin Wall. Who knows how this experience might affect his future? Perhaps he will tear down Nefarious walls and free people. The writing is on the wall.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked the teacher.

“Possible,” said the boy.

“What do you mean by that?” the teacher asked.

“My mom keeps telling me I’m impossible. When I grow up, I want to be possible.” AHD

Don’t let money stop you. Look for funding through organizations like the Institute of International Education.

Just one international trip can change many lives forever. Take a look at the Touch A Life Foundation to see what one trip to Vietnam did for Pam and Randy Cope and the countless lives they’ve affected through this organization they founded.

When was the last time you told your kid to go away?

AFS Intercultural Programs