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Addiction : Brain disease or a lack of willpower BY DR. SURITA RAO

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Addiction : Brain disease or a lack of willpower BY DR. SURITA RAO

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Addiction is one of the most hard wired brain diseases that exists , yet people routinely ascribe it to weakness or a lack of willpower. Complicating the issue is the fact that many of the consequences are social ones such as legal charges, financial problems or the impact of the addictive illness in a person’s relationships with friends and family. A patient suffering from alcohol or drug dependence may appear to be rational but when it comes to picking up whether to use or not or whether to tell the truth about what they are doing and how to go about it, they may not be using the rational part of their  brain at all.

 The Mesolimbic pathway of the brain is responsible for ” drive ” behaviors such as food and sex. The former is necessary to keep the organism alive and the latter to keep the species  alive. It is one of the most phylogenetically old pathways in our brain, one we share in common with animals who are far simpler than us such as lizards. In fact you can think of it as the ” lizard brain” , a part of the brain which is wired to work almost purely on instincts. The disease of addition ” hijacks” this pathway , tricking the brain into thinking that the drug , including alcohol is more important than food or anything else in life, maybe even more important than staying alive.

 In addiction treatment the person is taught to use their brain’s higher centers, those responsible for rational thoughts and inhibitions, such as the frontal  lobe or the cortex to override the ” lizard brain ” when a craving  occurs. The craving may be set off by external triggers or romanticized memories of drug or alcohol use. This is why in the therapies most often used to treat addiction such as relapse prevention therapy , there is emphasis on learning simple , easy to remember techniques and rules which are explained and practiced in a repetitive manner. One example is learning to avoid ” people  places and things” that are associated with the drug use. This may sound simple but can be a complex socially involved process that can eliminate a person’s entire social life and routines and replace them with new ones.

 Yes many people in society believe that addiction is a disease of choice rather than something that happens to us , like  clinical depression. While the patient does have to make a choice to get better or enter treatment or go to a 12- step meeting, these are not simple choices such as turning down an invitation to a party or choosing not to buy something or even have a second drink , may be for most of us. The closest those of us who do not suffer from addiction  can come to experiencing what it would  be like to give up  drugs and alcohol completely would be  for us to give up all sugar and refined carbohydrates. No one  can argue that sugar and refined carbohydrates are necessary foods. Yet we eat them everyday, even though we know they are not good for us. What if you could never eat them again ? No cake, cookies, donuts, bagels white rice, bread that is not one hundred percent whole grain,  and no pasta unless it is whole grain. How many of us could  really do that for the rest of our lives without slipping up , in a world whee these foods are everywhere?

In many ways having an addictive illness is like having heart disease. It is a combination of genetics and lifestyle choices. Getting better from a heart attack involves medications, maybe surgery but also exercising, eating right and reducing stress.  One can go into remission but constant monitoring is needed to make sure that the person stays healthy.

Entering and staying in recovery from an addictive illness can be similar. The patient often enters treatment, either in ” rehab ”  ( residential level of care ) where they go away to a program  and immerse themselves in treatment and recovery or to an outpatient program where they attend group therapy while living at home , still working and doing other everyday activities. 

There are medications available for the treatment of substance uses disorders . They may be long acting opiates themselves ,such as methadone or suboxone

( buprenorhine) , ” anti  craving  and maintenance of recovery ” medications, like topiramate, acamprosate or naltrexone for alcohol or ” blockers” like naltrexone for opiates or antabuse  ( disulfiram ) for alcohol.  However they form only a small part of the treatment of the addictive illness. Psychosocial treatments are still the mainstay.  These should be done in a specialized treatment program or with a therapist who is experienced and trained in the treatment of addictive illnesses.

In either case, long term aftercare is often crucial to sustained recovery , as is active involvement in a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous . It is not enough to just attend 12-step meetings. The person must also get a sponsor, a peer who has long term recovery and helps others and work through the twelve steps in a personalized manner. AA and NA are free, anonymous, available almost everywhere in the United States and provide a lot of support for the person with an addictive illness to enter recovery. 

Sometimes medical students or resident doctors will share that they are uncomfortable asking their patients to attend AA or NA if the patient feels it is too religious. Twelve step programs are spiritual programs at heart , but not religious . I have had patients who are atheists or agnostics who have actively participated and loved being in a 12-step program. I sometimes ask the medical student or resident that if there was a free , widely available way that someone with a different life threatening illness could go into remission for life, from cancer for example , would they be so conflicted .

Addiction is a life threatening illness. It is also a life long illness. However there is significant hope that if a person  has the discipline to do all the things needed to go into remission they can successfully go into recovery for  life. Making those healthy choices may not be as easy for a person with an addicted brain as it may seem to the rest of the world.

 

Surita Rao, M.D. is the physician leader of the Behavioral Health Services at Saint Francis Care and host of the show, Mental Health with Dr. Surita Rao on the VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness channel. She completed medical school at Bankura Sammilani Medical College in India and did her psychiatry residency training at St.Vincent’s Hospital in Staten Island, New York and the Yale University School of Medicine. She did her addiction psychiatry fellowship at the Yale University School of Medicine. She has been on the faculty at both Yale and Emory Universities. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor with the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

Her clinical work has focused on addiction psychiatry, including both substance use disorders and dual diagnosis issues. She has worked with impaired physicians and other health care professionals.

Upon completing her fellowship training, she worked as the Medical Director of the methadone maintenance clinics at Yale University School of Medicine. She has been the Chair of Behavioral Health at Saint Francis since 2002 and is the President of the Saint Francis Behavioral Health Group.

Dr. Rao is on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Addiction Medicine and is co-chair of their national membership committee. She is also on the Executive Committee of the Connecticut Chapter.

Dr. Rao is chair of the physicians’ health committee at Saint Francis. She also serves on the Board of the Saint Francis Foundation and has been appointed as a Corporator for Saint Francis Care.

 

 

 

No More Business as Usual BY MARY MEDUNA

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No More Business as Usual BY MARY MEDUNA

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One of the most common phrases I heard from teachers and administrators in response to the introduction of change initiatives was, “That’s not how we do it here”. In some cases this was from well-intentioned colleagues who didn’t want to see me (I should have noticed the reference to “me” and not “us”, but that’s another story) start down a new path because they knew the kind of resistance that would come from others and the inevitable pain that I (not we) would encounter in the process. In other cases, this was a line in the sand that I was more or less warned not to cross.

So how often does this one assumption keep our schools, our districts and our public school system from evolving into a system that values all of the students and the adults within it?

Our collective assumptions and points of view about our schools, districts and the system determine what we believe is possible and these beliefs direct our decisions and behaviors. This first assumption results in a culture that values sameness and certainty in the name of safety—not physical safety, but rather emotional safety. As a result, those in this contextual reality will continue to look to the past to see what has been done before and decisions will be made to maintain the predictability of the culture rather than explore the possibilities as yet unknown and undefined. As a result, schools get more of the same and then complain, “We’ve been down this path before” and they become even more committed to the points of view the kept them on this path in the first place.

So what else is possible? We will be speaking with Steven and Chautisa Bowman about this very question. What does it take to get out of the Assumption—Belief—Judgment—Complaint cycle? We can’t wait to learn more! 

 

Dr. Meduna earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education from Wayne State College, Master of Science in Community Mental Health Counseling from the University of Tennessee, and an Ed.S. and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Indiana State University.  In addition, Dr. Meduna is also certified in Reality Therapy through the William Glasser Institute, and earned her coaching certification through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching.  

Dr. Meduna also currently co-hosts a talk radio show with Margaret Ruff called, Educational Leadership.  What else is possible on the VoiceAmerica Variety channel.

Revenge, Forgiveness and All Things Between BY REBECCA COSTA

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Revenge, Forgiveness and All Things Between BY REBECCA COSTA

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The court of public opinion is officially in session.  Soon, the country will choose sides.  Those who want Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to pay for the bombing in Boston with his life.  Those who hope the government will work out a plea deal and spare us another O. J. Simpson spectacle.  And those who test the outer limits of our humanity by daring to urge compassion.

If you have never asked for forgiveness, then redemption is off the table.  It’s the stuff movie-makers and writers fantasize about:  a vampire is saved by the love of a good woman, a cheat learns his lesson from a child, a drunk hits rock bottom and sees the light.  We cheer the fallen priest, the lousy father, the ruthless boxer and sea captain as they fight their way back from the dark side.

The trouble is, we don’t believe in redemption any more.  Not even if you’re nineteen and have seventy years ahead of you.

We used to.  But these days redemption is for chumps.  Just look at the recidivism rates for burglary – a crime far less heinous than murder.  Within 3 years of conviction, nearly 70 percent are re-arrested.  If we don’t know how to reform a common thief, is it any wonder we think an Islamic radical has about as much chance of being rehabilitated as a child molester.  

But is this really true?       

Recently, Dr. Anne Speckhard, weighed in on the Tsarnaev brothers.  She’s the terrorism expert from Georgetown University Medical Center responsible for the design of the Defense Department’s Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq.   Speckhard spent thousands of hours interviewing 400 violent terrorists in Russia, Iraq, Yemen, Morocco.   And what did she find?  The soil has to be prepared in a specific way for radicalization to take root.  The key ingredient appears to be “vulnerability.”  Perpetrators like Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have a need for acceptance, validation, and mission long before radical Islamic predators arrive on the scene.  From this vantage point, the process of turning young boys into terrorists looks a lot like Johns staking out bus stations for runaways.

What is it predators know that, we – who no longer believe in redemption – have forgotten?   They understand human nature.  They recognize that – dating back to prehistoric times – Homo Sapiens were designed to be troupe-dwelling organisms.  Similar to wolves which hunt in packs and swallows that nest together, we rely on each other for protection, sustenance, companionship and a sense of belonging and meaning.  We may walk around with cell phones, drive automobiles, and send satellites into outer space today, but that ‘s done little to diminish our need for affiliation. 

Sometimes that need is satisfied by our family, the Boy Scouts, the company we work for, or an online chat room.  Sometimes it’s a cult, a violent gang, or a group of fellow hackers.  And sometimes the need is so compelling that we join with our captors – as in the case of Patty Hearst – or act out in unthinkable ways – such as the perpetrators of genocide in Germany, Serbia, and more recently, Syria.    

Our closest living relatives, the Bonobo monkeys – with whom humans share 95 percent of the same DNA – reveal a lot about how important membership is.  In nature, expulsion from the troupe is a sentence as lethal as capital punishment.  Without the group’s protection and resources – a single Bonobo is a dead Bonobo. 

Left up to the DNA we share with Bonobos, we will do the same.  Sentencing a teenager to death is all the evidence we need to prove that we have succumbed to the lower instruments of our genetic inheritance. But if we are choosing to go nature’s route, keep in mind that deformed infants, the aged, the slow and incapable, present a threat to the troupe’s survival a well.

Which begs the question: just how far are we prepared to go? 

If nature’s example doesn’t sound so appealing, then consider the alternative: we may be working with a 5 percent difference in DNA from our nearest relative, but the long haul of human evolution has allowed us to tame our savage instincts.  More than any other creature on the Earth, humankind has been blessed with the ability to choose reason over blood thirst, compassion over cruelty, resiliency over condemnation.

In other words, there is an alternative.  We could fight fire with fire.  Use the same tactics predators use to turn children into murderers to turn them back again.

The central coast of California presents a good example of predatory practices in reverse.  Here, law enforcement is outgunned and outnumbered by Hispanic gangs that are now recruiting 11 year-olds.  This once sleepy agricultural community is now credited with the highest homicide rate in the state and 5th highest in the nation. 

But today, Boys and Girls Club buses line up outside school doors to transport children to secure facilities where they are embraced by a different kind of gang – one which does their homework together, plays sports, feeds and cares for the guinea pigs in the science room, and is not allowed to throw their trash on the floor.  One that sends every child willing to work for it to college on a scholarship.  One that turns society’s most vulnerable into collaborators and contributors.  Is the Boys and Girls Club predatory?  You bet they are.  And so is are the Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and Police Athletic Leagues and Boys and Girls Scouts and every other organization which taps our primal need for troupe.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is nineteen.  He is not old enough to order a beer or rent a car.   

Given a choice, will we join those who prey on our young by showing them the same disregard?  Can a teenager who has committed an atrocity be forgiven?  Redeemed?

And if not a nineteen year old, then who?  

 

Rebecca Costa is a sociobiologist who offers a genetic explanation for current events, emerging trends and individual behavior. A thought-leader and provocative new voice in the mold of Thomas Friedman, Malcolm Gladwell and Jared Diamond, Costa is the foremost expert in “Fast Adaptation” tracing everything from terrorism, debt, epidemic obesity and upheaval in the Middle East to evolutionary imperatives.

Retiring at the zenith of her career in Silicon Valley, Costa spent six years researching and writing The Watchman’s Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction. In her book, Costa explains how the principles governing evolution cause and provide a solution for global gridlock. When asked why the book has special significance today, Costa claims, “Every person I know, wants to know why our government gets more in debt, our air and water more polluted, our jails more crowded, our security more tenuous and our children more violent. We seem to have lost our ability to solve our problems. The Watchman’s Rattle offers a genetic explanation for our paralysis, and prescribes a way out.”

The success of Rebecca Costa’s first book led to a weekly radio program in 2010 called The Costa Report onVoiceAmerica.com. The Costa Report is currently one of the fastest growing radio programs on the West Coast.

 rebecca costa

 

What is the language of a successful person? BY RICHARD LEVY

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What is the language of a successful person? BY RICHARD LEVY

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If you strive for a life of success, wealth, health, and happiness, model the thinking of a successful, prosperous person. Learn for yourself:

  • Why we need to listen to our gut feelings, our intuition
  • Memorize an all important and simple affirmation of wealth
  • The lessons of the past and look forward
  • Be in the present and prepare our mind of a life of abundance
  • Hate is poison in your own body. It hurts you – not others.
  • Let go of stress / negativity in your life and watch what the Universe does!
  • Why you want to regularly fill out your gratefulness journal
  • How feeling grateful attracts prosperity to you
  • How to almost make negative people disappear from your life
  • Four thoughts that bring abundance into your life
  • Why self-love (self-celebration) is so important and how to achieve this
  • Why it is so important to feel worthy and deserving of success
  • How to handle challenges and come out as a winner!
  • Forgiveness of yourself and others is not option – if you want wealth!
  • Overcoming fear
  • Much, much more!

Want to hear these words, and much more, spoken by a wealthy, successful, happy person?

Just click on this link to hear Cassandra Carr talk about success in her own words.

http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/69143/guest-interview-cassandra-carr

Thoughts Make You Wealthy. Wealth and success start with what you choose to think and talk about most of the day.

Have a prosperous day!

 

Richard Levy

 

Richard Levy is a radio host for the show â€œWealthy Thoughts.”  on the VoiceAmerica Empowerment Network.  Levy is a nationally acclaimed motivational speaker, author and life coach. He is best known for his “Thoughts Make You Wealthy” philosophy, which focuses on identifying negative habits and replacing them with abundant thoughts and behaviors that cultivate personal and professional success. Levy’s philosophy is practiced by thousands of people across the country and has helped transform the lives of many.

Levy’s positive lifestyle led him to personal and professional success and now his pursuit to help others learn to think their way to abundant lives of success, wealth, health and love. He speaks at events all across the country and regularly holds wealth seminars. His first book, “Thoughts Make You Wealthy,” was published in 2012. Levy lives in Chicago, where he enjoys spending time with his wife Anne and their two dogs, Lucy and Ricky.

Approaching Risk BY KIM KIRCHER

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Approaching Risk BY KIM KIRCHER

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Everyone approaches risk a little differently. While one person might balk at the thought of riding a roller coaster, another might dream of jumping off the top of the structure with only a wingsuit and a single parachute and fly over fairgrounds.

One man’s thrill is another man’s day at the beach.

But it’s not only individuals that differ in their approaches to risk. Communities do as well. In researching my book on risk and reward in action sports, I’ve had the chance to meet some very interesting people and talk to them about not only why they love their sport but also how they mitigate the risks.

What strikes me is the way communities that surround a certain sport all seem to have similar approaches to mitigating risk. Skydiving, for example, might seem like a very risky sport. Standing on the lip of an open cockpit, the wind buffeting your chest and blowing hollows into your cheeks while your heart struggles to leap out of your jumpsuit feels quite risky. It feels like you’re about to jump to your death, like you’re about to make a terrible mistake. Only adrenaline junkies and reckless thrill-seekers do this kind of thing, you tell yourself. At least that’s how it feels on your first jump.

But meeting skydivers and reading accounts of participants, I’ve found the opposite to be true. Skydiving, and the off-shoots such as speedflying and wingsuit flying, require precision and accuracy. Skydivers are not reckless; nor are they living off an adrenaline rush. Instead, they are careful, calculated, and abhorrent of those taking too many risks. In a way, skydivers are some of the most risk-averse group of action sports athletes I’ve met. They also encourage others to take personal responsibility for their training, their jumps and their actions.

Extreme kayaking has progressed rapidly in the past decade. With the advent of shorter, more maneuverable boats, kayakers are now hucking off waterfalls that a few years ago would have been considered unrunnable. According to extreme kayaker and filmmaker Josh Neilson, younger boaters are now performing tricks and drops that took years for their older brethren to master. Kayaking is a sport with some barriers to entry. First of all, you must have an instructor. Few people could jump into a boat and start out on a Class IV river. Along with the equipment comes boating partners. This is not a solo sport; so the veterans teach the newbies the rules of the river. Moreover, there’s a worldwide community of kayakers very keen to keep their reputations intact. Whether in online forums or face to face in the eddy, veterans will remind aspirants not to go too big too fast lest they all be labeled reckless risk-takers.

Skiers, on the other hand, are different. Perhaps because the sport of skiing grew up within resorts, where operators managed some of the risk for their customers, skiers were never encouraged to take things slowly. Instead, skiers and snowboarders are lauded for how big they go. Sponsorships, film shoots and contests go to the ones with the biggest cajones, the skiers and riders willing to try the gnarliest lines.

The sport of skiing has progressed to a point where skills are not quite matching the conquests. Now that fat skis, rockered tips and beefy touring bindings allow people to ski steep spines that a few years ago would have been reserved for the pros, everyone can be a hero. They can even capture it all on their helmet cam and post the event straight to Facebook before they even unstrap their bindings. Unlike some of the other action sports communities, the skiing world rarely censors such acts.

But things may be changing.

Robb Gaffney, psychiatrist, skier, and author of Squallywood and creator of G.N.A.R. or “Gaffney Numerical Assessment of Radness” has a new project. Through his website, Sportgevity.com, Robb hopes to continue pushing the sport while also maintaining longevity for athletes. When I spoke to Robb recently on The Edge Radio, he told me that when we get positive feedback for hanging it out there, our identity gets wrapped up in that; we are destined to make mistakes. Robb is tired of hearing the trite conclusion, “he died doing what he loved.” Instead he wants to change the way we approach our sports. So far his website is doing just that, with videos and articles aimed at building judgment and maintaining a rational head while pursuing our various sports.

In December the New York Times published “Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek,” a 16,000 word interactive article that includes video and audio clips from the avalanche accident that claimed the lives of three beloved men. With over 3.5 million view of this article the public reaction has been incredible.

The cover of the December 2012 issue of Powder Magazine asked a stark question, “Why do the Best Skiers Keep Dying?” In that article Matt Hansen claims that the “level had gotten so high, the commitment so fierce, that any little mistake, stroke of bad luck, or curveball from Mother Nature proved fatal.” It’s important to know when to push and when to take a step back. If skiers keep pushing it every day, they’re bound to make mistakes. At the end of the day, we all want to keep doing our sport. A bad decision can change that forever.

It seems the time is right to have a discussion about skiing and risk. Perhaps the greater community will take part by encouraging more thoughtful reflection.

How do we as a ski community enjoy the sport, even progress the sport, without killing ourselves or attending yet another memorial service? Here are a few ideas:

1. Take personal responsibility. I recently wrote a post about this over at blogcrystal.com and how it relates to skiing in our inbounds avalanche terrain at Crystal Mountain, where I work as a ski patroller.

2. Remember why we’re doing it. We ski and snowboard because it’s fun. We ride powder for the pure joy of carving plastic and metal and fiberglass through snow. In order to ski big lines, we need to choose the right conditions. We need to ask ourselves whether it’s really necessary to ski that one big line. Would it make it any more fun? Would the day be any better? If yes, then take precautions, choose the right day and go for it when you’re ready.

3. Keep your head. I’ve seen skiers on a powder day as they wait in line for first chair, their eyes circling in a crazed state that borders on scary. They’ve spent the better part of the morning to be there, sacrificed sleep and possibly breakfast and told themselves repeatedly that all the effort would be worth it. That no matter what, they will find powder that day. Which brings me to my last point.

4. We as a community need to promote thoughtful reflection and judgment. No more, “powder at all costs” attitude. Because the costs have gotten too high. Instead, we could take on Crystal Mountain local Dan Hogan’s line that he said last year on a busy day while riding the gondola. Granted, Dan got a lot of powder days last year. But on that particular day, he just shook his head at all the rudeness going on around him. It was as if all the skiers and riders on that busy Saturday could only be happy while skiing pristine powder. The rest of the day, the remaining 90% of it, was just wasted it seemed. Dan declared to all that would listen, “It’s all good, man,” and lifted his hands to take in the entire gondola, the hordes cramming the slopes below him and the powder getting ripped to shreds below us. It’s all good.

 

Kim Kircher is a professional ski patroller, author and talk show radio host for The Edge on the VoiceAmerica Sports Network. She has logged over 600 hours of explosives control, earning not only her avalanche blaster’s card, but also a heli-blaster endorsement, allowing her to fly over the slopes in a helicopter and drop bombs from the open cockpit, while uttering the fabulously thrilling words “bombs away” into the mic.

Her memoir, THE NEXT 15 MINUTES, takes the lessons she learned on the slopes as an EMT and applies them to her husband’s battle with bile duct cancer and subsequent liver transplant. Her articles have appeared in Women’s Adventure, The Ski Journal and Powder Online. She is currently at work on a book about risk and reward in action sports.

Her awards include the National Ski Patrol’s Purple Merit Star for saving a life and the Green Merit Star for saving a life in arduous conditions. Her memoir received the book award from the North American Ski Journalists Association.

How Does Your Company Grow? By Marcia Zidle

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How Does Your Company Grow? By Marcia Zidle

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In Grow or Die – a classic by George Ainsworth-Land – it describes the predictable growth of a business is three phases. Each phase is unique with its own set of challenges and cannot be skipped over. Each requires leadership skills and perspective that can both boost or deter your company’s growth.

Which Phase Are You In?

 Phase 1: Invention or Getting Off the Ground
The company is highly entrepreneurial. It’s born out of a desire to meet a need – whether it’s a nonprofit to deal with a social or community issue or a start-up to bring a new product or idea or process to market. The climate is high energy, fast paced, seat-of-the-pants and at times chaotic. But it’s exciting.

Can you make it through this phase and not burn-out or fail-out?  

Phase 2: Improvement or Rapid Expansion
You begin to see results from all the hard work – more customers, funders, publicity – but are you making a profit or making a dent in the problems you’re trying to solve? This is when you’re adding staff or opening new stores or creating new programs, etc. It can be a real culture shock to move from stage one to two. As a leader you want it to happen. But there are many challenges to deal with.

Can you move from the visionary leader to an effective manager?

Phase 3: Reinvention or Stagnation
To keep growing, you must look at new markets, grow your current niche, expand product lines or add new services. You may be considering acquisitions, mergers or going public. Similar to Phase 1, the leader must create the vision, energy, culture and direction again. However this is a much different, more complex organization. But your leadership role had changed again.

Are you able to let go of operations and become an innovator again?

Smart Moves Tip

Growth always requires entrepreneurs and business leaders to change what they do, how they do it and who they do it with. Successful and sustainable growth requires the right kind of leadership, the right environment (culture) and the right processes. Do you have them?

Marcia Zidle, the smart moves executive coach and speaker, is host of The Business Edge  on the VoiceAmerica Business Network. The show features the Smart Growth System providing small to medium sized businesses the proper foundation for expansion: a Growth Agenda that becomes their roadmap, a Growth Engine that attracts and engages the best talent and Growth Leaders that make it happen. Marcia, the CEO of Leaders At All Levels, brings street smarts to help businesses get on the right track and not get sidetracked on their path to higher performance and profitability.

KIDS FIRST! : Review of The Great Gatsby BY RAVEN D.

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KIDS FIRST! : Review of The Great Gatsby BY RAVEN D.

[embedplusvideo height=”298″ width=”480″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/JKrRLsQb668?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=JKrRLsQb668&width=480&height=298&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=1&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep2291″ /]

 

The Great Gatsby

 

From one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century, F. Scott Fitzgerald, comes this latest filmed version of his book, “The Great Gatsby” by Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, the director of “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge.” Known for his lavish productions, he delivers no less than that in this new treatment of this classic book. Fifteen-year-old Raven D., whose review follow, gushes over the production and the acting. Be aware that it is rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language.

 

The Great Gatsby
Reviewed by Raven D. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

“The Great Gatsby” tells the story of Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a secretive millionaire who is in love with a wealthy woman named Daisy Buchanan, played by Carey Mulligan. When Daisy’s cousin, Nick Carraway, played by Tobey Maguire, moves in next to Gatsby, he doesn’t hesitate to use Nick to get close to his lost love. With the publicity constantly involved in his life, Gatsby finds it hard keeping his love for Daisy hidden from her husband. When Daisy’s Husband, Tom Buchanan. Played by Joel Edgerton, discovers his wife’s affection for Gatsby, he is quick to make sure it doesn’t last. When Jay Gatsby’s past is revealed, his entire life begins to unravel. Can Gatsby and Daisy make a life for themselves or will the past control the future?

 

I am in love with this movie! Words can’t describe how incredible the entire film is, but I’ll do my best. This film is in 3D, which makes the incredible set and costume design come to life. The visuals in this film could have been a movie of its own because they are so breathtakingly beautiful. The rich colors and textures make the cinematography pop. This film is set in the 20s, where life for the wealthy was lavish and over the top 24-7 and the wardrobe really shows that off. The entire look of this movie is so rich and lavish that it sucks you in and you feel as if you can grasp the fabrics and streamers of Jay Gatsby’s parties because everything is so full-bodied with color. I feel like you could take a screenshot of every frame in this film and then send it off to a photography museum because it is just so striking.

 

The soundtrack is another thing of wonder in this film. It features modern songs such as Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild” as well as Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” and other artist such as Florence + the Machine, Beyonce, Will.Iam and even a few dubstep mixes, however all these modern hits are meshed with 20s rag time, giving it an authentic feel with a modern edge. It took me a few scenes to get used to because when I first heard modern artist Frank Ocean singing while a 20s-themed trumpet tune played, I was a little shocked. Once I warmed up to it, I fell in love with the unique sound. I actually think it is a very clever way to make the younger generation become more enthralled with the movie because the music we are used to at parties is the more modern sound. I think it is a clever way to make the festivities of this movie more appealing to a younger crowd.

 

My favorite scene would have to be when Nick goes to one of Gatsby’s massive parties. People from all over New York and from all walks of life would flock to Gatsby’s house weekend after weekend to indulge in his lavish lifestyle, even though none of them knew Gatsby or had ever met him. In the very first party scene you really become engorged in the luxurious accommodations of Gatsby’s palace. His house is filled with streamers, dancers, outrageously dressed guests and vivid decor.  The entire scene is so visually pleasing. I also really enjoyed the scene where Gatsby plans for Daisy to visit Nick at his house and then “coincidentally” stop by so he can see her again after 5 years. I like this scene because Gatsby always seems like such a confident man who is on top of the world but, when he is faced with seeing his true love after so many years apart, he gets the demeanor of a squeamish school boy. It is so cute how he obsesses over Daisy in the beginning of the scene and it is touching how nervous he gets before she comes over. Leonardo’s acting in this scene is truly astounding and his subtle display of emotions accents the fact that he is frantically trying to conceal his emotions.

 

My favorite character is Jay Gatsby because he is such a complex man. He builds his entire dream life to impress Daisy. He builds his home across the lake from her house so he can see her, throws parties hoping she’ll attend, and does everything in his power to be near to her which is very humbling considering he could do virtually anything with his riches. Leonardo’s performance in this film deserves an award because of how realistically he portrayed Gatsby. I truly respect Leonardo as an actor because no matter what role he is playing I never see it as Leo playing so and so, but I see him as the actual character. He full-heartedly embodies Jay Gatsby and shows the depths of the character in such a remarkable way. I loved every second of his performance.

 

Overall I give this film 5 out of 5 stars, I would give it more if I could! “The Great Gatsby” has everything I look for in a film – well executed plot, excellent visuals, unique music, and a brilliant cast and crew. I recommend this film for ages 13 and up for excessive drinking and mature situations. I can’t wait to see this film again, so be sure to go see “The Great Gatsby” when it hits theaters May 10th.

 

Credit:  KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions.  

KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions is a weekly radio show on the VoiceAmerica Kids Network, hosted by eighteen KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, ages 7 to 15. These kids win a spot as a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic through a national competition annually in the fall. They review all the latest film and DVD releases rated PG-13 and younger, attend Red Carpet events and premieres and interview talent on and off the Red Carpet.

KIDS FIRST!, a program of the 22-year-old Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, is the country’s most valued source for reviews of children’s media. As a national, nonprofit organization, KIDS FIRST! teaches children critical viewing skills and engages them, together with adults, as jurors to evaluate, rate and review films, DVDs, TV shows, games and apps.

Listen for KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions every Tuesday at 1PM Pacific Time on the VoiceAmerica Kids Channel.

 

KIDS FIRST!, a program of the 22-year-old Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, is the country’s most valued source for reviews of children’s media. As a national, nonprofit organization, KIDS FIRST! teaches children critical viewing skills and engages them, together with adults, as jurors to evaluate, rate and review films, DVDs, TV shows, games and apps.

CARS CAN BE REPAIRED. CAN PEOPLE BE FIXED? BY RICHARD LEVY

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CARS CAN BE REPAIRED.  CAN PEOPLE BE FIXED? BY RICHARD LEVY

pick up, voiceamerica

 

Okay, your colleague at work always complains about how much the boss makes, how everything is better at the competition, how the business plan is all wrong.

A relative is angry, judgmental, finds fault in you and everyone else, is “better” than the rest of us, “knows” the right way to live, and is basically a miserable person.

Is it your mission in life to “fix” these people? Even if you were able to “fix” them (which is impossible, by the way), would you be closer to a life full of abundance, love, wealth, happiness, and great health? Simple answer: no. Let them be, let them say, let them behave, let them preach as they wish.   In the meantime, think on your wealth affirmations, what you appreciate, what you love in life, and visualize everything you want. 

 Thoughts Make You Wealthy. Wealth and success start with what you choose to think and talk about most of the day.

 

Have a prosperous day!

 Richard Levy

 

Richard Levy is a radio host for the show “Wealthy Thoughts.”  on the VoiceAmerica Empowerment Network.  Levy is a nationally acclaimed motivational speaker, author and life coach. He is best known for his “Thoughts Make You Wealthy” philosophy, which focuses on identifying negative habits and replacing them with abundant thoughts and behaviors that cultivate personal and professional success. Levy’s philosophy is practiced by thousands of people across the country and has helped transform the lives of many.

Levy’s positive lifestyle led him to personal and professional success and now his pursuit to help others learn to think their way to abundant lives of success, wealth, health and love. He speaks at events all across the country and regularly holds wealth seminars. His first book, “Thoughts Make You Wealthy,” was published in 2012. Levy lives in Chicago, where he enjoys spending time with his wife Anne and their two dogs, Lucy and Ricky.

 

KIDS FIRST!: Review of Star Trek into Darkness By Patrick Nguyen

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KIDS FIRST!: Review of Star Trek into Darkness By Patrick Nguyen

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Star Trek into Darkness is the second movie based on the original TV series and, for those of us who grew up watching this show, brings back all our favorite characters – Captain James Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto). Uhura, (Zoe Saldana), Bones (Karl Urban), Scotty (Simon Pegg and Sulu (John Cho). The storyline also is reminescent of those of the past but fleshed out with 3D, great character development, outstanding sound effects and good acting throughout. Our youth film critics were wow’d by the film. Patrick Nguyen, age 13, commented that it “left me in awe and thrill.” It also brings attention to the close brotherly relationship between Captain Kirt and Spock. In the end, Patrick finds a new passion for Star Trek as you can see below.

Star Trek into Darkness

By Patrick Nguyen

 Satirical, Emotional and Epic are the only words to describe the new movie Star Trek Into Darkness. I got a chance to visit the Paramount lot for an exclusive screening of this movie, which left me in awe and thrill. Although this movie is a sequel  to the previous Star Trek series, movie goers who are not familiar with the story will understand the plot clearly. The actors portray their characters very well thanks to the director, J.J Abrams. The scenery and set for the futuristic year of 2240 are so vivid and realistic, audience members will forget they are in the year 2013. This movie is also produced for the IMAX 3D, which puts all the explosions and fight scenes in your face.

           

The relationship of all the characters on the iconic Starship Enterprise are deep and meaningful. Captain Krik (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachery Quinto) develop a brotherly love through the struggles they conquer. The Villian, Khan (Benedict Cumberpatch) is a scary two-faced character that will leave the audience guessing his fate until the very end. Not only does the main star achieve his role prefectly, but the co-stars also do an superb job. The writers, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof successfully add comedy in the script to bring an emotional roller coaster to the audience.

 

The set ranges from modern skyscrapers to futuristic spaceships. The designers portrayed the theme very well, using many computer generated images to create the year of 2240 in a way that makes it seem so real. The 3D element is an added bonus because it brings the action up close. The beginning scene has lots of running and fighting sequences and yet it is all filmed in such detail that the characters seem like they are going to run off screen.

 

After watching this movie, my passion for Star Trek has been sparked! I rate this movie 5 out of 5 because it balances the comedy and action scenes so well. It has multiple themes taking place but the on-going theme “the power of friendship can build you or destroy  you” is present throughout. This movie contains a hand-full of violence but is not bloody or graphic. The action sequences, violence and realistic make-up could be scary for younger audience members so, I recommend this for ages 13 to18. This movie has sparked an interest in Star Trek for me and hopefully, it will do the same to you.

 

Credit:  KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions.  

KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions is a weekly radio show on the VoiceAmerica Kids Network, hosted by eighteen KIDS FIRST! Film Critics, ages 7 to 15. These kids win a spot as a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic through a national competition annually in the fall. They review all the latest film and DVD releases rated PG-13 and younger, attend Red Carpet events and premieres and interview talent on and off the Red Carpet.

KIDS FIRST!, a program of the 22-year-old Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, is the country’s most valued source for reviews of children’s media. As a national, nonprofit organization, KIDS FIRST! teaches children critical viewing skills and engages them, together with adults, as jurors to evaluate, rate and review films, DVDs, TV shows, games and apps.

Listen for KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions every Tuesday at 1PM Pacific Time on the VoiceAmerica Kids Channel.

What is this Thing you Call Hope? By Mary Meduna Ph.D

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What is this Thing you Call Hope? By Mary Meduna Ph.D

popquiz, Mary Meduna, VoiceAmerica

 

Pop quiz—on a scale of 1-10, (10 being high) how hopeful do you feel in this moment? Don’t over think it; don’t make exceptions for any area of your life—Sum total—how hopeful do you feel?

Now, question 2—how hopeful is your work culture; your colleagues, team members and your leaders?

Did you pass the quiz? That is, are you happy with the numbers you have come up with?

What is hope? How is it different than wishing or optimism? What does hope have to do with leadership?

According to Shane Lopez, quite a lot.

In his book, Making Hope Happen, he reports that “when Gallup asked followers whether their leader at work (typically a manager) made them enthusiastic about the future, of those who said yes, 69 percent were engaged in their jobs, scoring high on a measure of involvement in and excitement about work. These engaged employees are the products of a hopeful leader. They are more innovative and productive than others, and they are more likely to be with the company over the long haul. Of those followers who said their leaders did not make them enthusiastic about the future, a mere 1 percent were committed and energized at work. These disengaged workers are a threat to business, coworkers, and themselves” (p.179).

Do you want to think about the scores you gave yourself and your workplace again? Would you say that you’ve given yourself and your workplace a passing grade?

If you haven’t, don’t despair because hope is a choice and it can be learned. And we have the privilege of learning about hope from Dr. Lopez in our conversation with him this week on Voice America. Join us to learn just what hope is, why it matters, and strategies you can use to bring more hope into your experience.

Hope is contagious—let’s create an outbreak.

 

Dr. Meduna earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Special Education from Wayne State College, Master of Science in Community Mental Health Counseling from the University of Tennessee, and an Ed.S. and Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Indiana State University.  In addition, Dr. Meduna is also certified in Reality Therapy through the William Glasser Institute, and earned her coaching certification through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching.  

Dr. Meduna also currently co-hosts a talk radio show with Margaret Ruff called, Educational Leadership.  What else is possible on the VoiceAmerica Variety channel.

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