Felix Assivo

COVID, Vaccines, and the Delta Variant – Update w/ Regina Phelps

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COVID, Vaccines, and the Delta Variant – Update w/ Regina Phelps

Join me 1pm EST on Thursday, July 29/21!

If you have doubts or questions about COVID19 and vaccines (the facts and myths), and want to know more about the new the Delta Variant taking hold around the globe, then this is the ‘Preparing for the Unexpected’ episode you must not miss. I speak with internationally recognized expert Regina Phelps (who was also a nurse), who puts everything into perspective. If you have fears of getting a vaccine, Regina breaks it down for you and what it means to get a vaccine…and the facts about not getting a vaccine. Share this with your friends, family, and work colleagues that are hesitant about getting a vaccine or push back believing it’ll do more harm than good – or even that COVID is a hoax. This gives you the information you need to make informative decisions based on fact, rather than political spin. Don’t miss this episode!


Movie Review: Ailey * Defining The Brilliance Behind Choreographer & Dancer Alvin Ailey

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Movie Review: Ailey * Defining The Brilliance Behind Choreographer & Dancer Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey was a visionary artist who found salvation through dance. An immersive portrait told in his own words and through the creation of a new commission inspired by his life, Ailey fully profiles this brilliant and enigmatic man who, when confronted by a world that refused to embrace him, was determined to build one that would. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ashleigh C. comments, “Out of many dance genres, modern dance used to be my least favorite. I found it odd and confusing. That is until I watched the film Ailey. Director Jamlia Wignot takes the documentary into a learning experience not only about Alvin Ailey, but also about the true meaning of interpretive dance.” Selene W. adds, “The film Ailey opens with a moving speech by American actress Cicely Tyson honoring Alvin Ailey for his lifetime contribution to American culture through the performing arts.  Ms. Tyson’s speech sets the tone for the film as she states that he is a “choreographer of the heart” and has the “very spirit that has made him a pied piper of modern dance.”  See their full reviews and interviews below.


By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13 

The film Ailey opens with a moving speech by American actress Cicely Tyson honoring Alvin Ailey for his lifetime contribution to American culture through the performing arts.  Ms. Tyson’s speech sets the tone for the film as she states that he is a “choreographer of the heart” and has the “very spirit that has made him a pied piper of modern dance.”  Through dance he “reveals the meaning of things” and has brought a “whole new public to modern dance.”

Ailey is a tribute to Alvin Ailey’s life and work and shows his humble beginnings in a rural area of Texas during the Great Depression.  His relationship with his mother and his childhood history impacted his outlook and expression in dance as he grew up dancing at house parties in his community.  However, Alvin was a rebel and had his own ideas about movement and dance.  As a choreographer he sought to create movement in the search for truth. 

The film interweaves archival footage with interviews from Ailey American Dance Theatre members sharing their experiences at the dance company and Alvin’s impact on dancing through his reenactment of life.  Beautiful movement, agility and sensuality are shown throughout the various dance pieces, exploring the search for emotion by dancing with passion, joy and anger, as well as sorrow.

Director Jamila Wignot weaves everything together and highlights how Alvin Ailey’s life experiences influenced his choreography and programs.  The documentary wouldn’t be complete without the amazing work of archival producer Rebecca Kent and her team, as the footage really brings his life story together.

The message of this film is that innovation and passion can affect change and raise peoples’ consciousness.  The movie, as well as Alvin Ailey’s dancing, is a celebration of life.

I give Ailey 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. The film releases in theaters July 23, 2021 and if you appreciate dance and body movement you won’t want to miss Ailey.

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 17

The documentary Ailey redefines the meaning of contemporary dance and the unconventional form created by choreographer Alvin Ailey.

Ailey is a documentary about the life of choreographer Alvin Ailey, known for creating contemporary dance arrangements such as Revelations and The River. With his own narration and testimonials from people who knew him, we learn who he was, what he went through and how he interpreted his life into dances that later became world renowned.

Out of many dance genres, modern dance used to be my least favorite. I found it odd and confusing. That is until I watched the film Ailey. Director Jamlia Wignot takes the documentary into a learning experience not only about Alvin Ailey, but also about the true meaning of interpretive dance. I enjoy the scenes of the modern Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, showing that his legacy still lives on through dance. This film has many scenes that feel like filler when the narrator is speaking and that gets repetitive over time. I love how this film does not require you to have a general knowledge or passion for dance. It allows the audience to create their own feelings and opinions about what dance means to them.

The message of Ailey is to pursue your passion and use your talent to impact others in a meaningful way. This documentary portrays this message with great success.

I give Ailey 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18, plus adults. You can watch Ailey in theatres July 23, 2021.

Keywords: Ailey, Jamila Wignot, Alvin Aley, Lauren DeFilippo, Daniel Bernard, Roumain, Naiti Gamez, Sundance, choreographer, modern dance,

10 Surefire Medical Reputation Management Tips

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10 Surefire Medical Reputation Management Tips

Online reputation has a great impact on your business. It can make or break your business. Your online reputation determines how others see your business when they search for it. Online reputation management can help you in maintaining a good reputation.   Below are ten ways you can ensure that your healthcare practice has a good reputation.

  1. Audit Your Brand Name

Achieving a solid online reputation has something to do with knowing your competition. It would be best if you understood what other online brands are doing, so come up with a means of outpacing or outdoing them. People will go to the internet when searching for healthcare providers or hospitals. Reevaluate the information available online about your brand, noting the positives and negatives.

  1. Leverage Social Networks

It is not enough to have a social media account; you also must have a persistent presence which entails taking a proactive approach by being part of the conversations and sharing content. Set up Google Alerts for brand mentions to ensure you know when your name comes up in an online discussion. The alerts will also ensure you are part of the conversation and you can respond adequately. Please keep in mind that negative comments can dent your brand’s reputation if they go unchecked, more so when they originate from your social media network. It is best to use a positive countermeasure, a proactive strategy that will safeguard your name and online reputation.

  1. Tell Your Story

It is also wise to use it to build your brand’s image with an online social network presence. Furthermore, you can take advantage of social media to strengthen your overall online presence. You can achieve this by sharing/posting creative, relevant, positive content and linking them with your website and blog. Always present your brand as you tell your story, striving to establish yourself as an expert in your field. In addition, the material you churn out should generate responses from your target viewers, which will help it gain a higher search ranking.

  1. Encourage Positive Online Reviews

One of the most effective ways of snuffing out negative remarks and strengthening your online reputation is by aggressively promoting positive materials about the doctor’s profession. Encourage your medical faculty to share or posit positive reviews. The more such content you get, the less likely you are to get negative remarks that dilute your reputation. You also should monitor online reviews, which you can do using Google Alerts, Social Mention, and other tools. It is a tactic that ensures you are better equipped to counter negative content and mitigate its impact as you push the positives by responding promptly and professionally to all remarks.

  1. Never Disregard Negative Reviews

Some patients might not be happy with you despite your best efforts to be professional in your specialty. They are likely to post a bad review, resulting in significant losses in your medical practice if ignored. If such a remark bears some truth, own up to your mistake and contact the reviewer offline, proposing ways to resolve the issue. At times, a sincere apology can be what it takes to deflate or diffuse the situation. Moreover, avoid getting emotional because you might end up saying something regrettable. It is best to maintain your cool as you offer to handle the matter offline. You could make a loyal patient out of that disgruntled individual once you hear them out and address their complaints. They also could recommend your practice to their friends, family, and colleagues.  

  1. Earn Your Patients’ Trust And Respect

Today’s internet users rely heavily on online content to know who to trust when searching for products or services. The same is expected of people when looking for medical care. Patients want a healthcare provider that has a seemingly untainted reputation. Providing high-quality care is one of the vital starting points. People expect you to offer this, which plays a significant role in the bigger picture. Remember, sometimes issues do arise and it’s the way you rectify them that defines you as a business. Perhaps you’ll need a defense counsel to do so, however, you should always strive to make amends.

Overall, excellence should be your goal in every step of the care and other services you provide to your patients. Let their journey – from searching and find you to getting treating and leaving your medical facility be a fantastic experience.

  1. Do Your Best To Listen

Use your social networks as avenues for hearing what your patients are saying. You will get unedited voices that let you understand and relate to your audience’s voices, especially the unhappy ones. Pay closer attention to the feedback regarding your brand. Understand their complaints and concerns before rushing to fix the issues. That is who can repair the fundamentals and prevent such problems from arising in the future.

  1. Encourage Your Workforce To Offer Excellent Service

Patients will not always express their anger upfront, but you know they left unhappy when they stop coming back to your medical facility. They also can tell their friend, family, and colleagues about how your staff handled them, which can have a negative ripple effect that damages your business’ reputation. You should have health practitioners that understand the need for providing outstanding health care services. Such a staff play’s a crucial part in improving your reputation and bolster your business’ position as a leader in your niche.

  1. Develop Long-Term Reputation Management Strategy

Having a highly-trained staff that strives for professionalism will not fix your online reputation overnight.  It is best to consider a long-term approach, which is a process that demands commitment. Feeling frustrated when your reputation management efforts have little to nothing to show is understandable. However, it would be best if you did not forget that all the work you put into will have a long-term impact on bolstering your reputation. Some of the things you can consider in your long-term plans include setting patient care benchmarks, hiring qualified practitioners, providing staff training, and more. Overall, strive for realistic goals, exercising patience, and maintaining a level-head when facing challenges.

  1. Hire Reputation Management Specialists

Lastly, it is best to consider outsourcing your medical facility’s reputation management responsibilities if you feel overwhelmed. Many healthcare practitioners will bring onboard

professionals to help them handle their business’s online reputation by managing their online presence. Reputation management for healthcare businesses can be complicated but is worth the investment if you want to ensure your business’ name is untainted. Work with qualified professionals when trying to build your online presence and reputation.

Vibrant Agreements Supercharge Hybrid Work Environments

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Vibrant Agreements Supercharge Hybrid Work Environments

This week’s article was originally published by Maureen Metcalf for Forbes Coaches Council on June 8, 2021.  It is a companion to the interview with Greg Moran  titled The New Role of Leadership in a Hybrid Workplace on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future that aired on Tuesday, July 20th.

Companies are taking a range of approaches to return to work. A Harvard Business School study on remote workers “showed that many professionals miss their colleagues and other aspects of being in the office, and some want to go back. But, since they proved they were able to perform, and even excel, during the pandemic, they want more flexibility.” The study also found that:

  • 27% hope to work remotely full-time
  • 61% would like to work 2-3 days a week from home
  • Only 18% want to go back to the office full-time

This raises a question: How do we create a future-ready, post-pandemic environment that allows organizations to meet their missions and employees to thrive and manage the stress, mental health and engagement challenges?

To add to the challenge, many employees want to retain some flexibility. However, companies that don’t get their culture and work-from-home approach right risk struggling to attract and retain the talent required to succeed during a tight labor market.

Creating a vibrant culture that supports high productivity and engagement and accelerates change readiness is vital. Vibrant organizations have the cultural secret sauce. The authors of a McKinsey report, “Organizing for the future: Nine keys to becoming a future-ready company,” write “Among the most successful companies, culture forms the backbone of organizational health and fuels sustained outperformance over time: companies with strong cultures achieve up to three-times higher total returns to shareholders than companies without them.”

Vibrancy-based organizational agreements are crucial enablers to creating a culture that attracts and retains top talent to deliver results consistently. A vibrancy-based agreement is a shared understanding of how we interact with others. Vibrancy-based agreements differ from standard agreements because they explicitly look at what we can do to create a positive environment and achieve high-impact results. These agreements underpin the business operating models, processes, behaviors and culture and must be explicit to ensure they generate the desired outcomes.

Agreements often happen over time and somewhat unconsciously. They are the unwritten rules of “how we do things around here.” Like most things that evolve unconsciously, they are likely to become outdated, out of step with the organizational complexities and socio-eco-system.

Harvard adjunct researcher Dr. Jim Ritchie-Dunham conducted extensive research on the science of abundance-based (vibrancy-based) agreements that create engaged and highly productive organizations. His research started with the question, why are people continually attracted to some organizations above others? This question led him to look at organizational agreements at three different levels:

  1. Slow To Change

What are we delivering with our existing systems and processes? How can we be more efficient within our current systems and processes? Many organizational agreements fall primarily into this category. We make the best of our current situation, we have limited resources and we use them efficiently. The kinds of associated limiting statements might be things like “Don’t over-commit” and “That improvement would be nice, but we don’t have the budget to do it.”

  1. Development-Focused

How can we accomplish what is possible? What do we need to build, learn, grow and develop? Moving from level one to level two means organizations focus on delivering results and creating the growth mechanisms to grow, transform, learn and improve. Organizations at this level talk about what they are doing to grow their people, increase capacity and address shifting priorities. They are more agile and willing to experiment as they achieve results.

  1. Aspirational

What is possible? What do we want to accomplish? Organizations that evolve to the third level are “abundance-based.” They see opportunities and potential. They realize that if they can see the potential clearly, they can develop the capacity and deliver the results in a sustained and resilient way. At this level, they leverage the capacities they developed in level one and level two, continuously evolving their capacity to develop and deliver potential over time while simultaneously creating thriving dynamics within their organizations.

So now that you have read about the levels, where would you want to work? It seems like a simple question, yet getting there requires leaders to understand the transformation framework and methodology.

The transformation journey begins with examining the organization, viewed as a system with a flow of energy. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the organization’s current capacity to 1) engage their collaborators and their available resources, 2) envision, leverage and transform that capital in the organization’s unique way and 3) create, scale and transfer the value to the organization’s stakeholders. All three are key to avoid “leaks” in the system and tap into the potential to embody a future-ready company.

Most organizations start with the majority of their agreements somewhere between level one and level two. The most prominent wake-up call is looking at the cost of scarcity or missed opportunities. The cost of suboptimal agreements can be a 50% reduction in service levels and financial measures. This cost is the norm for organizations in level one. An organization can unlock its impact by engaging, transforming and transferring its creativity, each aligned within the next level of agreements.

As a rudimentary example, I worked with an organization whose staff was struggling with burnout. During a facilitated session focused on building resilience, the team defined how they wanted team members to feel at work and identified agreements about how and when they would communicate and what they expected of one another. These agreements allowed team members to clarify expectations and plan their work and personal lives to be and feel successful. One distinction with vibrancy-based agreements is that they consider people’s energy levels, impacting their health, engagement and commitment. They manage interactions to maximize recharge and minimize depletion.

As we build future-ready companies that continue to evolve and thrive in ever-changing situations, we need to look at the underlying agreements. These agreements allow us to grow our organizational impact and solve some of the world’s most significant problems; they allow us to generate far greater value for ourselves and all of our stakeholders. It is a choice.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Maureen Metcalf, CEO, the Innovative Leadership Institute, is dedicated to elevating the quality of leaders globally.

10 Summer Blooming Perennials

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10 Summer Blooming Perennials

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“When the sun rises, I go to work.  When the sun goes down, I take my rest. I dig the well from which I drink, I farm the soil which yields my food, I share creation. Kings can do no more.” Chinese proverb

In the sizzling heat of summer, many annuals go to seed and flowers fade. Thankfully there are plants besides cacti and succulents that enjoy the higher temperatures. Most of my favorite summer bloomers are perennials that once established require minimal irrigation. 

My top ten summer flowering favorites include acanthus, agapanthus, bougainvillea, bower vine, crape myrtle, crocosmia, daylily, hollyhock, hydrangea, and rose. I also am a huge fan of the Naked Lady, but it sprouts its neck later in August, lasting through the fall months.


Also known as Bear’s breeches, Acanthus can be deciduous or evergreen growing from rhizomes. It is drought tolerant with shiny oval leaves lobed with spines and spires of flowers that are purple, white, pink, cream, or green. It doesn’t like full sun when it is hot, so it may be best to grow Acanthus in partial shade. The flower spikes can grow to five feet. I like it as a back border plant or to line a path. The good news: butterflies flock to it. The bad news: deer devour it. Cut it to the ground in the fall and it will re-emerge in the spring. Greek Corinthian column capitals were and are modeled after the Acanthus plant.

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Another rhizome spreader that is hardy in drought times, yet pretty in bloom is the Lily of the Nile or African Lily that we know as Agapanthus. The rhizomes retain water and divide easily to plant in other locations. They prefer a sunny location, although I’ve seen many beautiful specimens growing in the shade. The sky blue, midnight blue, or white trumpet-shaped flowers bloom June through the end of August with stalks that reach four feet high. The elegant strap-like leaves are evergreen. When planting work compost and organic matter into the soil and continue to fertilize during the growing season. Deadhead when the flowers fade and toss them on the compost pile. Wear gloves when working with this plant as it is poisonous and could cause an allergic reaction in those who are prone to plant allergies.



A gorgeous tropical vining shrub, bougainvillea flowers are modified leaves called bracts blooming in colors of yellow, orange, white, and my personal favorite, fluorescent pink. Native to arid climates, bougainvillea thrives in hot weather and needs full sun while requiring a minimum of H20. On our ranch, bougainvillea covered one full side of our two-story farmhouse delighting our family year after year with a spectacular showcase of hues. Plant bougainvillea on a strong structure or well-made fence. It can be pruned when it starts to rain or after flowering. Since it is susceptible to frost, cover with burlap in the winter to protect it if your plant is small enough.


Bower Vine:

This is the most perfect flowering evergreen vine for pergolas, arbors, and trellises. Grow bower vine over awnings, around windows and doors, or as a gate climber. It is easy to care for, doesn’t invade a roof or siding, and is a swift grower.  Blooming throughout spring, summer, and fall, flowers are pink and white with deep-throated trumpets attractive to hummingbirds. I grow bower vines in full sun and partial shade. Once established they don’t require much water while providing year-round beauty with their shiny green leaves. Prune whenever the vine needs a bit of TLC as this vine is not fussy. Cut stems to add to indoor arrangements.

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Crape Myrtle:

The crape myrtle is hands-down one of my very favorite specimens because of its beauty and interest in every season. In summer the bush or tree is covered in showy flowers, in fall the leaves change to gorgeous red, umber, and gold, in winter the leaves fall off showcasing beautiful bark, and in spring the shiny green leaves sprout. All crape myrtles bloom on new wood and come in colors that include watermelon, red, white, pink, lavender, and purple. I prune my purple shrubs in early winter to twelve inches from the ground and by summer they have grown to three feet high. Prune trees periodically to keep them shaped. Although crape myrtles prefer acidic soil, they will grow in sand, clay, or loam. The Chinese Lagerstroemia indica crape myrtle is prone to powdery mildew so look for a cross with the Japanese L. fauriei to enjoy glorious blooms, attractive bark, and leaves without any issues. They are drought resistant, too!

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This firecracker plant boasts a tropical origin with bright blazing orange, yellow, red flowers that light up the summer garden. In our region, they start blooming right in time for the fireworks of Independence Day and continue until autumn. Their sword-like foliage offers spikey interest to the landscape. Hummingbirds and butterflies are especially attracted to the trumpet-shaped blooms while deer and rabbits stay away. The corms naturalize and the stalks make excellent floral displays. After the flowers are spent, the seedpods provide additional appeal. 

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Sometimes called “ditch weed”, daylilies will grow anywhere! Their botanical name is Hemerocallis from the Greek word hemera meaning day and kallos meaning beauty. They tolerate every kind of soil, are extremely low-maintenance, and require minimal irrigation once established. They are not a true lily as they have fleshy roots as opposed to bulbs. The leaves grow from a crown and the flowers form on a leafless stem called a “scape”. Most do not self-sow. Divide the roots every three to five years to create more plants. Each flower blooms for only a day, but each scape will have a dozen or more buds that will continue to open. A variety of colors and shades are available with butter yellow being the most ubiquitous. Every part of the daylily is edible. Sauté the buds in butter, garlic, and a little white wine for a delicious veggie treat that tastes like asparagus mixed with peas.

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Happy memories surround the legacy of my hollyhocks. I can’t remember a time when hollyhocks were not growing in my mother’s or grandmother’s gardens. My seeds are heirlooms from several generations of family gardeners with a history that goes back over a hundred years. Hollyhocks are the classic cottage garden staple that every gardener should include for spikey tall stalks of pink, white, magenta, and red blooms that will continue until winter. A member of the hibiscus family, this self-seeding China native grows best in full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Because they grow to fifteen feet or more, plant towards the back of the garden or near a fence. By deadheading when the flowers fade, you will encourage continuous bloom production. Prune to the ground by winter and save the seedpods to share.



Another favorite plant for generations of gardeners, hydrangeas produce abundant blooms in partial sun. They are thirsty plants and need mulch around them to improve the soil texture and maintain moisture. Pruning hydrangeas is tricky because it is necessary to know what type you have as different hydrangeas require different pruning times and methods. The most common hydrangeas are Bigleaf, Oakleaf, Mountain, and Climbing which are pruned after summer blooming. They rebloom on “old wood” which are the stems from the previous season. Panicle and Smooth hydrangeas bloom on new wood (the stems from this season) and must be pruned before the buds form. I’m looking forward to trialing new Panicles from Proven Winners which will include Limelight Prime and a space-saving Fire Light Tidbit that will have cream-colored flowers covering the plant in summer, then turning to pink and lasting through frost.



No introduction is necessary for the fabulousness of the rose. Roses are the most versatile, beautiful, and coveted plant in every garden. When gardeners proclaim roses to be the bedrock of their landscape, they are not exaggerating. Roses come in every color, shade, petal, and size to suit every desire. Roses are a diverse group of plants that include shrub roses, carpet roses, floribundas, hybrid teas, climbing, old roses, rambling roses, and tree roses. Their shapes and structures differ. Some look like peonies, others have a single floral pattern. There are rosettes, cups, doubles, pompons, button-eyed, incurved, recurved, and quartered.  My favorites are David Austin roses with intoxicating fragrance, fine foliage, disease resistance, and stunning flowers.  Over a hundred roses grace my landscape and I am constantly adding more. As Emma Goldman stated, “I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”


When the sun rises, I go to work, spending as much time in nature as feasible. Consider planting some of my perennial favorites to enjoy elegance and exquisite allure throughout the summer months. 

Stay cool, hydrated, and share creation.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

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Photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1511/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Perennial-favorites.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

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Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.



Just Keep Breathing

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Just Keep Breathing
No matter what it feels like, you have within you the capacity to
rise and slay.
As an encourager, I am uniquely aware that “stuff happens.”  The good thing is this, life goes on!  It’s entirely up to you to choose to embrace the lessons learned. You get to see every challenge, failure, stumbling block through the lens of opportunity.  Each life situation, no matter how painful has uniquely molded and shaped us into who we have become.

While the last year has been one of great challenges personally and professionally, there was one significant difference that I noted.  It was very clear that this was the year of change!  The circumstances I faced were solely dependent on my willingness to see that each challenge created as an opportunity to boldly and unapologetically live my life on purpose, and with purpose.  I have always sought the counsel of individuals who both supported as well as provided wise insights. Last year, I was challenged to take some bold steps which, quite frankly, scared me.

As I reflect on the steps I have taken, I am truly amazed at the outcomes.  Had I allowed fear and negative self-talk to take precedence during moments of difficulty, I would have completely missed the many opportunities that were birthed in the midst of adversity.  By no means am I being boastful of my accomplishments.  It is my goal to emphasize the possibilities that can occur when we refocus our perception through the lenses of opportunity.

We remain excited about continuing to provide practical tools to solve specific needs and/or problems as it relates to adversity.   We are committed to share insights that:

  • inspire YOU to pursue a greater understanding in order for you to live your best life in abundance
  • encourage you to develop YOUR critical thinking processes in the face of challenges
  •  allow YOU to discover new possibilities

Three Practical Life Lessons for Your Toolkit 

As we are now in the 2nd half of the year, here are three practical life lessons that are extremely important when challenges arise, or setbacks occur.   They are:

  1. Trust YOUR process – While it may completely make no sense, you can rest assured that there is indeed a lesson to be learned from EVERY life setback.
  2. Develop an attitude of gratitude in spite of what YOU face – In times of adversity it is important to find something to be grateful for.
  3. There is light at the end of YOUR tunnel – Just as a gold is tested through fire, we likewise are tested through adversity which refines us.
7-Day Action Plan 

Over the next 7 days, take a few moments to reflect on what the greatest life lesson you have learned that is creating a new opportunity for you? Over the next several days, take a moment to reflect on necessary action steps that could possibly catapult you into the center of your purpose.

Final Step

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Never be a prisoner of your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.
  • Stop watering dead plants.
  • Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.
  • Grow through what you go through.
Dare to Live Your Best Life in Abundance,

Your Mindset and Wellness Coach

Link to original post: https://mailchi.mp/e8beba784725/flip-side-of-adversity-just-keep-breathing?e=eac358a046

Read, Lead, Succeed!

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Read, Lead, Succeed!

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“Read, lead, succeed. To be a leader, you must be a reader.” Cynthia Brian


Summer seems to be a time when we all find an opportunity to pick up a book that we’ve been meaning to read. We go to the beach, swing in a hammock, or just sit on a porch in the twilight enjoying a bit of escape. During the pandemic, people sought books as a refuge from reality. Children and teens need to enjoy reading more than ever. Children learn to talk and to read when we read to them. It is the job of parents to model and value literacy through home activities. The success of a child depends on the interaction between parents and children as they engage in literary endeavors. Reading is the building block which facilitates the development of language and writing skills which leads to life success. Research indicates that children with lower literacy skills who don’t catch up by third grade struggle throughout their school years and beyond. 

Our Star Teen Book Review Team makes it easy for you to find excellent books for your child through young adult. Volunteers read and write honest, first-person reviews of thousands of books. Our stellar Book Review Coordinator is Stephanie Cogeos. She spends countless hours going over every review for accuracy and making sure that the reviewer has followed stringent guidelines. She then uploads each review under the correct category so that parents, librarians, guardians, and kids can find a book that matches their interest. Find a favorite book at 

http://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html . A big shout out of gratitude to the team and Stephanie for jobs well done.

In addition to book reviews for all ages being on our website at http://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html , book reviews for young people are published through our literacy partner, The Reading Tub. https://thereadingtub.org

We are so grateful to the Executive Director, Terry Doherty, for our many years of collaboration. She reads every book and makes sure reviews are accurate and original. Visit The Reading Tub for photos and descriptions of a book that will entice and enlighten your child. https://thereadingtub.org/books/be-the-star-you-are/

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Be the Star You Are!® has an Amazon bookstore with several hundred brand new books offered at the lowest possible prices. Shipping is usually within one day. Visit https://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity

Speaking of Amazon, if you are buying more and more things on-line, when you shop at Amazon, please use this link:  https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882. Amazon donates . 5% of your purchase to Be The Star You Are!® and it costs you nothing.

If you are seeking a special gift book with autographs and other goodies, go to our online book store at our StarStyle® Store: http://starstylestore.net Because we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first publication of our Be the Star You Are!® series and Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, you’ll get big discounts. 


Build connections in your child’s brain by sharing books with them. Books are the gifts that keep on giving.


Enjoy a safe and healthy summer. Read, lead, succeed!

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556




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DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


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The cost of illiteracy to American taxpayers and businesses is $225 billion dollars for crime, loss of tax revenue due to unemployment wages, unemployment, welfare, and other government assistance. In addition, low literacy adds $230 billion to the annual cost of delivering healthcare in the United States.  Illiteracy is a growing epidemic causing irreparable damage to our society. Low literacy and communication skills have been identified in studies as major contributors to general conduct disorders, psychiatric disorders, criminal behavior, and adolescent suicide. (Department of Communications and Public Affairs) “…nearly 800 million people across the world lack the basic reading and writing skills needed to accomplish simple tasks such as reading a medicine label or filling out a job application, costing the global economy more than $1.19 trillion a year.” Thirty two million adults in the U.S. can’t read, 45 million are marginally illiterate. That is 14 percent of the adult population. Twenty one percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read; one-fifth of high school graduates can’t read their diplomas.           


Be the Star You Are!® has cases of brand new books to donate to shelters, organizations, or charities in need. The books are free. Shipping is $25 per box. There are 10-12 books per box. Books retail for $15-20 and are free to you. If your group is interested, email info@bethestaryouare.org. We do not provide a list of the titles. We have non-fiction and fiction.  The shipping charge can be paid via PayPal. Details will be emailed to you.

2021 FREE LIVE EVENT-Pear and Wine Festival

Mark your calendars for the 2021 Pear and Wine Festival to be held on September 25th from 11-4pm PT in Moraga. Be the Star You Are!® will have a booth for family fun and children’s activities. FREE and Fun! To volunteer or sponsor, please email info@BetheStarYouAre.org,.

More information at https://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-events

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spotlightTwo talented young women have joined our Express Yourself!™ Radio team, Ruhani Chhabra and Sidney Suh. Make sure to tune in to Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio Sundays at 3pm PT Listen at Voice America Network: https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

Ruhani Chhabra

Ruhani Chhabra is a rising junior from Northern California. She enjoys reading, writing, and listening to music. She plans to major in journalism, which is why BTSYA is a perfect opportunity for her to expand her public speaking and writing skills. Through being a reporter at Express Yourself!, she hopes to become more interactive with people, a skill she’ll use when she teaches one day. Her focus is on teen leadership and her segment is titled, Teenship. Ruhani is also spearheading the Instagram platform for Express Yourself!™ Check it out at https://www.instagram.com/expressyourselfradio/. She’ll also use that strength when she travels around the world and becomes friends with strangers. Her ultimate goal is to live in the Italian countryside with a bunch of puppies.

Ruhani Chhabra headshot

Sidney Suh

Sidney Suh is currently a senior at Cate School. She is the Co-Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the HUMANITIES+ Journal, which can be found at www.hplusjournal.com.

It is an international platform for perspectives that transcend the traditional divides between the fields of humanities and STEM (www.hplusjournal.com). Her passions include empowering minority communities and uplifting student voices. In her spare time, she loves to read and play the euphonium. She is a volunteer with Be the Star You are!® and a reporter on Express Yourself! Radio with her segment, Breaking Boundaries.

Sidney Suh headshot



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by Karen Kitchel

Here’s what a few folks had to say about kindness:

“If someone were to pay you ten cents for every kind word you ever spoke and collect five cents for every unkind word, would you be rich or poor?”   Nonpareil

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.”  Audrey Hepburn

We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”   Whoopi Goldberg

“Always be a little kinder than necessary.”   James M. Barrie

Karen Kitchel who penned two chapters in the book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World, is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She serves meals to the homeless and is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor. www.scatteringkindness.com

LISTEN TO STARSTYLE®-Be the Star You Are!®

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Starstyle® Radio is LIVE every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT broadcast from the world’s largest radio network, Voice America. Listen live at http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are with photos and descriptions at www.StarStyleRadio.com . 

The show is also available wherever you get your podcasts:

Apple itunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/starstyle-be-the-star-you-are/id669630180?mt=2

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/listen#/ps/Iftzhum24ektnw3ocfq3keduefq

Tunein: https://tunein.com/podcasts/Motivational/StarStyle—Be-the-Star-You-Are-p46014/

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/voice-america/be-the-star-you-are

IHeartRadio: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/256-starstyle-be-the-star-you-31083110/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/4zDdwzlsHH44caWiMQdD25


We have suggestions for you to shop, save, and stay safe. Please use these web sites for all of your shopping essentials.

1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882

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2. Discounted books at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity

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3. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash at 3500+ popular online stores :https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc

4. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE: http://www.iGive.com/BTSYA

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5. Buy “Read, Lead, Succeed” black tanks and books at StarStyle® Store: http://www.starstylestore.net/


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6. Are you a gamer, lover of new software, or other digital content? Buy all of your favorites at Humble Bundle. http://ow.ly/cYs130iN6n4


BTSYA Innovate logo -bookendEnjoy the days of summer while staying safe and healthy.


Thanks for supporting Be the Star You Are!®

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556
Email: info@BetheStarYouAre.org
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Movie Review: A Cinderella Story: Starstruck * A Uniquely Humorous Family Film With Great Characters And Even Better Actors

Posted by Felix Assivo on
Movie Review: A Cinderella Story: Starstruck * A Uniquely Humorous Family Film With Great Characters And Even Better Actors

Finley Tremaine, a small town farm girl, longs to spread her wings and soar as an aspiring performer. When a Hollywood film crew arrives in her sleepy town, she is determined to land a role in the production and captures the attention of handsome lead actor, Jackson Stone. Unfortunately, a botched audition forces her to change course. Now, disguised as cowboy “Huck,” Finley finally gets her big break. But can she keep the charade a secret from everyone, including her evil stepmother and devious step-siblings? KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Kyla C. comments, “Do you love Cinderella stories? Are you looking for a brand new, humorous and unique family film that has excellent characters and even better actors? You need to watch A Cinderella Story: Starstruck. It’s one of my favorites of 2021 so far, and it’s suitable for nearly any audience!”

A Cinderella Story: Starstruck

By Kyla C, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Do you love Cinderella stories? Are you looking for a brand new, humorous and unique family film that has excellent characters and even better actors? You need to watch A Cinderella Story: Starstruck. It’s one of my favorites of 2021 so far, and it’s suitable for nearly any audience!

Finley Tremaine (Bailee Madison) is not your average Cinderella and neither is this story. Finley aspires to be a Hollywood star, so when a new action film comes to town, bringing famous actor Jackson Stone (Michael Evans Behling) along with it, she becomes focused on the audition stage. The film spirals into drama as Finley faces a constant inner conflict and tries to be more than one person. Will she keep her secret? The fear of discovery is constant, and she soon realizes that honesty could truly be the best policy, especially when it comes to her dream.

A Cinderella Story: Starstruck checks every box. The cinematography is better than most of what I’ve seen. The lighting and perspective make the images natural, and they use tons of creative angles. The cinematographers seem to have lots of tricks up their sleeves to make this film look amazing. Settings are chosen with precision; though some do seem a bit extraordinary for a normal town and farm land. However, we constantly see colorful views that leave me in awe. The film is a Cinderella story, but it isn’t easily predicted like most new versions are. It’s probably the most innovative princess story I’ve ever seen. The resemblances to the original Cinderella are hard to find, but are there nonetheless. Instead of mice, Finley’s support friends are the farm animals. There’s a unique addition behind every twist and turn of the plot. One of the best touches that I like is including a stepbrother, Kale (Richard Harmon), along with the traditional stepsister, Saffron (Lillian Doucet- Roche). These two siblings argue a lot; another different aspect between this version and the original. The stepmother, Valerian (April Telek), is as unbearable as always, though she’s still a great character. Lastly, the acting is truly magnificent. It doesn’t feel like acting. The actors seem to have real bonding, which is special. Richard Harmon as Kale, Bailee Madison as Finley and Michael Evans Behling as Jackson give some of the best performances. Kale is a difficult character to play, as there aren’t really similar characters in other Cinderella stories. Richard Harmon pulls off the role with astounding ability, setting a great example for any future step brothers.

The message of A Cinderella Story: Starstruck is to follow your dream. Parents should be aware that there is some mild language and action.

I give A Cinderella Story: Starstruck 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to 18, plus adults. It releases on digitally June 29, 2021 and on DVD July 12, 2021, so don’t miss it!

Keywords; movie reviews, by kids for kids, a cinderella story starstruck, cinderella,the things, warner brothers movies, family movie 2021,filmisnow family, baille madison, bailey madison, selena gomez, another cinderella story, bailee madison, Richard Harmon, Lillian Doucet-Roche, April Telek, Michael Evans Behling

Movie Review: A Fun-Filled Musical Comedy Perfect For Theatre Kids And Musical Lovers!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
Movie Review: A Fun-Filled Musical Comedy Perfect For Theatre Kids And Musical Lovers!

A couple, Melissa and Josh, go on a backpacking trip in an attempt to patch up their failing relationship, only to find themselves still arguing. They then discover a magical town called Schmigadoon, which is perpetually trapped in a Golden Age-style musical, and slowly realize that they cannot leave until they find true love. The title and concept is a parody of the 1947 Broadway musical Brigadoon. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katie F. comments, “Schmigadoon! is a fun-filled musical comedy perfect for theatre kids and musical lovers! The cast of this new series has some famous faces like: Keegan-Michael Key, Dove Cameron, Kristen Chenoworth and many more!” See her full review below.


By Katie F., KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, age 12

Schmigadoon! is a fun-filled musical comedy perfect for theatre kids and musical lovers! The cast of this new series has some famous faces like: Keegan-Michael Key, Dove Cameron, Kristen Chenoworth and many more!

On a bonding trip, lovers Josh and Melissa accidentally find themselves in the 1940’s musical town of Schmigadoon. Josh and Melissa see everyone bursting into song and dance and soon discover that they can’t go home until they find true love. Do they have it? Will they find it? Watch Schmigadoon! to find out!

The cast of Schmigadoon! stands out and so do the sets  Josh Skinner (Keegan-Michael Key) is not excited about this musical town and tries everything he can to get away from all the singing and dancing. Josh experiences many emotional highs and lows: engagement, break-ups and drama. Melissa (Cecily Strong) is the one who decides on the bonding trip which leads them to Schmigadoon!  She does enjoy the musical town and, eventually, joins in on the fun.

The scary Mrs. Mildred Layton (Kristen Chenoworth), wife of Reverend Layton, is the leader of the “Mothers of the Future” organization and isn’t very fond of Josh and Melissa’s arrival. As well as Josh, Mildred is also trying everything she can to get them to leave, as she thinks they are ruining “her” town. Betsy (Dove Cameron) is a young waitress who takes a quick interest in Dr. Skinner and tries to be his true love.  Enchanting and wise school teacher Emma Tate (Arianna DeBose) doesn’t care much for love and focuses on teaching the children, but all that changes when she meets Josh. 

The set replicates a genuine theatre stage set, creating a definitive boundary between the real world and Schmigadoon!’s stage set—I love that. The music is all taken from mid-1900s musicals, but the words have been changed. You’ll spend all day singing the tunes in your head, trying to figure out what the original songs are. I love the contrast in costumes from Josh and Melissa’s modern day clothes to the town’s 1940’s outfits. 

While there is more than one message to the story, the main one is that when hope looks lost don’t give up (and maybe add a bit of song and dance).

I give Schmigadoon! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults, but strongly recommend this for theatre kids. This series does contain strong language and some slightly inappropriate scenes. You can find Schmigadoon! starting July 16, 2021 on Apple TV. I’m looking forward to a season 2 already!

Keywords: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul, Fred Armisen, Dove Cameron, Jaime Camil, Kristin Chenoweth, Alan Cumming, Ariana DeBose, Ann Harada, Keegan-Michael Key, Jane Krakowski, Cecily Strong, Aaron Tvelt, Michael Rios, Viola Abley,

Developing Your Grit

Posted by Felix Assivo on
Developing Your Grit
Grit, the raw endurance, perseverance, and passion that keeps you
going despite obstacles.
While resiliency is the ability to bounce back from adversity and keep moving forward in the face of adversity, grit is a belief in yourself and a commitment to never give up. While the Merriam-Webster Dictionary has several definitions for grit, I like the one that reads, “grit is a firmness of mind or spirit: an unyielding courage in the face of hardship or danger.”  Wow! A survivor who is determined to thrive amid adversity whether in your workplace, family or community.  Grit is a dominant leadership trait that is developed by a never give up attitude.

A Historical Story of Grit

Throughout history, many have and continue to inspire us. One of my heroines is Harriet Tubman. One of the things that I found most impressive about her was her tenacity and her grit in the very face of adversity. While this amazing woman courageously escaped slavery herself, she boldly committed her life to free those who were still in captivity. Throughout her life, she fought tirelessly for the abolition of slavery, freeing hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad. Her life reflects a passion for what she believed in.  The drive to bring others to freedom was empowered by her resolve and tenacity.

As you pause and think about what drives your passion for achieving your goals, I am confident that you will agree that both physical and emotional pain accompanies it. Whatever your passion is, real grit comes from pursuing a purpose higher than yourself. Tubman would never have been able to achieve her goals if she were timid and easily discouraged. With a goal this important, she needed to be courageous. When I think about what drives my grit, I am reminded of the importance of not waiting for the right time to pursue our goals but instead start where you are – NOW!

Developing YOUR Grit
Do you struggle with feeling that you’re not skilled enough to achieve your dreams? Do you contemplate throwing in the towel? If you do, I need you to abandon that thought and develop a never give up attitude.  You must develop a willingness to keep pushing past the obstacles in front of you. Developing your grit may require you to put in a couple of extra hours to achieve your goals. It will require you to identify and block all distractions. It will require more self-discipline to gain greater clarity and focus on your goals. Developing your grit is going to challenge you to move beyond a place of surviving to a place of thriving through every challenge you face.

When faced with challenges, it will be vital that you follow your heart. Specifically, be intentional to focus on what matters most to you. Here are three steps you can take to build your grit:

  1. Identify the goal that you are most passionate about, that truly inspires, drives, and fascinates you.
  2. Be willing to make changes that aligns you with your true passion.
  3. Practice, practice, practice, as much as possible! It’s how you develop your skills.
What I’ve learned is that people with grit embrace each day as a new challenge and an opportunity for growth. When you run into a problem, don’t give up and accept it as fate. Instead, make an effort to become the person you are destined to be.
7-Day Action Plan

Over the next seven days, take time to assess your endurance, perseverance and passion.  How will you develop more grit and resilience so that you can experience a growth mindset in more areas of your life?

Final Step

The secret to living your fullest potential is in developing your skills. During the process, it is essential to maintain an excellent attitude and to remind yourself of your past successes. Being mindful of recent successes keeps you motivated as you practice with a purpose.  Let us strive to become awesome women of grit!

Dare to Live Your Best Life in Abundance,


Your Mindset and Wellness Coach

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