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Everyone’s Actions Matter – How Will You Participate in Positive Change?

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Business
Everyone’s Actions Matter – How Will You Participate in Positive Change?

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This blog is provided by Dan Mushalko, as a companion to the interview with Jack Modzelewski and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leadership, Communication and Credibility in a High-Stakes World that aired on April 14, 2020.

 

Humanity sits unquestionably in transition. This is particularly true in the United States, which faces three simultaneous and intertwined crises:  a wounded economy, a blistering pandemic, and dynamic social upheaval from racial inequality.

There simply is no going back to the old normal. This tumultuous trio weighs heavily on realities we’ve hidden and ignored for too long.

Change, then, is inevitable.  Whether that change advances us or mires us in the past depends firmly on our leadership. Successful change depends on everyone participating in the change process. This has never been more true. We each get to take an active role and, more than ever before, our voice impacts the success or failure of the changes we are seeing. The phrase, “many hands make quick work” applies here. Where a group of people are working together, toward a common cause, the change effort is much easier.

From individual Facebook posts to mass-appeal pulpits of TV pundits, too many of us are reacting to that change with fear. Poor leaders divide us to amplify our fear, wielding it for power at the polls.

Fortunately, there’s a science to change. Change is inevitable, so of course it’s been studied. Biology and chemistry, chaos theory and game theory – much of science rests squarely on the universe’s need for change.  In business, this has resulted in the field of change management.  From a broader organizational perspective, change is a vital part of survival. In biology, we see evolution and survival of the fittest. In business, similar principles apply. We hear them expressed as change or die. The same would be true of non-profits and political organizations.

If science and organizations thrive on change, where does all this angst come from?

Bluntly, fear of change is, in part, the result of bad leadership.

Short of Charles Dickens sending three ghosts to them in one night, our current crop of bad leaders won’t improve.  That means it’s up to you to lead us through this change. We are in a time where the actions of each individual matter more than ever. Just calm one person.  Allay their fear.  All you need is one person helped to make a difference. It starts with you leading yourself. It doesn’t matter if you are a college student or a CEO, leadership always starts with yourself before you can effectively lead others.

How?

Try these steps:

  • Ask “why.” Why is change happening? Why is it needed? How will it impact me?
  • Remember that (videos of throngs aside) real change is individual; it happens person by person. Your reaction matters.
  • Change is a choice. Ask them – What future would you choose? How can you help bring about a more positive, sustainable, and just future?
  • Keep in mind that much of the fear arises when people see change coming, but don’t know how to deal with it in their personal lives or within their organizations.
  • Help them. From COVID to racism, explore why change is needed. Conflict feeds fear, so be calm and seek to understand. Compassion and empathy begin with you. You don’t need to agree or disagree, you can just listen and learn and reflect on what you are hearing before expressing your point of view.
  • Recalling how you have been successful at making personal and/or organizational change in the past can boost your self-confidence about your personal change journey.
  • Once you have managed your own concerns, share your personal success with others. How have YOU embraced change? How did you overcome the challenges you faced? Are you helping build personal or societal infrastructure so the change will be lasting and positive?

I believe in a positive future, one in which society helps every one of us become the best versions of ourselves. Understanding that change — especially revolutionary change as we’re undergoing now — isn’t intuitive. Positive change needs guidance from you.

 

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, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Dan Mushalko’s professional life combined a short stint at NASA to a long ride in radio…with experiences often overlapping. Dan merges leadership, creativity, and science for people and organizations. The thread through it all: mixing creativity and leadership. Dan is a creative and innovative leader specializing in media management/leadership, creative concepts in audio, new communications technology, media analytics, creativity fostering and consulting, teaching, writing, and science.

Photo by Ian Panelo

 

Meet Olivier Lelardoux, Director of Award-Winning Series Gigantosaurus

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Interviews
Meet Olivier Lelardoux, Director of Award-Winning Series Gigantosaurus

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Enjoy Zoe C.’s interview with Olivier Lelardoux, Head of Animation / Director at Cyber Group Animation. Lelardoux is the director of the award-winning series Gigantosaurus, Zorro the Chronicles, Zou, Mia, The Legends of Tatonka, Ozieboo Protect the Planet and more.

 

https://youtu.be/DEeM3u3qQBA

 

 

Cyber Group Studios is a Paris-based developer, producer and distributor of animated television series and movies for children in France and internationally. The company produces 3D and 2D animation products for television series and movies, web series, and news and documentaries. It also licenses its own and third-party characters.

 

Olivier Lelardoux has 18+ years of experience in the production of youth programs as director, designer and production designer. Since 2005, he has been at Cyber Group Studios, a company he co-founded, co-owns and co- manages as Head of the studio and Director of the company’s series. Olivier also oversees the external studios in India, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Kuala Lumpur and Tunis that work on Cyber Group Studios series and spearheads the company’s technology group. Series directed by Olivier have won multiple awards and nominations including:

 

* Awarded series number one on CCTV China

  • 2D3D Film Festival (Italy) 2020 – Gigantosaurus for Best Voice Acting Award
  • Pulcinella Awards 2019 – Best upper-preschool series, Gigantosaurus” Season 1
  • Common Sense Media Seal Honoree 2019 – Gigantosaurus
  • Cynopsis Kids Award 2014 – ZOU Winner new Preschool Series
  • Chicago Animation Festival 2012 – ZOU, 1st Prize, Animated Television Program
  • International Emmy Award 2013 nomination, ZOU
  • TVFI Prix Export 2013 Nomination, Gold Panda (China ) 2013 – Tatonka
  • AET Canada 2010 – Manon – Best Canadian TV Animation Series
  • TVFI Prix Export 2008
  • Shanghai TV Festival – Magnolia Award

 

Previously, Lelardoux worked at Esteban Production (2002 to 2005) as director of TV ads, music videos, motion graphics, TV shows and VFX supervisor. Esteban production is specialized in live action shows for kids. He also worked at BillyWeb (2000 to 2002) as web designer. Olivier was also in charge of creating kids CGI characters for web sites. Olivier’s production expertise spans across production main steps (design, projects development, directing, producing, studio management, budgets and planning). Olivier received a Master degree from the Movie and Animation school ESRA Paris.

Cast of Paramount Film, Mighty Oak and Author of Never Sit If You Can Dance, Jo Giese

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Empowerment
Cast of Paramount Film, Mighty Oak and Author of Never Sit If You Can Dance, Jo Giese

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SAG/AFTRA member Cynthia Brian continues Wednesdays with Writers and Performers on StarStyle® giving authors, actors, artists, and entertainers who have had their live performances and events canceled due to Covid-19 a platform to shine. Find out how brilliant our world talent is right here on StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!

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MIGHTY OAK tells the story of Gina (Janel Parrish, “Pretty Little Liars,” To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before), a band manager who struggles after losing her brother/lead singer (Levi Dylan, 12 Mighty Orphans) in a fatal car accident while traveling to a gig.  A decade later, Gina meets a 10-year-old music prodigy named Oak, played by newcomer Tommy Ragen, a real-life prodigy whose music inspired the screenplay.  Oak seems to possess the same qualities as Gina’s late brother, inspiring her to pull her life back together and try to reunite the band with Oak as its new front man. Directed by Sean McNamara (Soul Surfer), guests to be interviewed by Cynthia Brian include Tommy Ragen (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock Broadway Musical), Rodney Hicks (Rent, Come From Away) Gianna Harris (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock Broadway Musical), and Ben Milliken (Bosch, Blue Crush  www.mightyoakthemovie.com

Official Trailer: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ba40pACGBZ0

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At a turbulent time in America, when personal connections are fleeting and shared values rare, award-winning journalist and author Jo Giese offers uplifting lessons in old-fashioned civility in her memoir, Never Sit If You Can Dance: Lessons from My Mother. The lessons are wisdom from a mother of the 20th century for a daughter in the 21st century. www.jogiese.com

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Bio: Tommy Ragen

Tommy Ragen is a 12 year old musician, songwriter, producer, and actor. He has released three albums “9, Rocket, and Heart Emoji”. He played the lead role of “Oak” in the Paramount Pictures movie Mighty Oak. Mighty Oak features eight original songs co-written by Tommy and Caroline Corn. He was, also, a cast member on the First National Broadway Tour of The School Of Rock the Musical.

  www.mightyoakthemovie.com

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Bio: Rodney Hicks

Rodney is a longtime New Yorker, originally from Philly who now resides in Colorado. He is an Award winning Black Gay

Male Artist. His play FLAME BROiLED had its World Premiere at Local Theater Company in Boulder, CO in the Fall of 2019.

The play was awarded the 2019 Eulipions Fund on behalf of The Denver Foundation. Previous versions of his plays MS.

PEARL’S CABARET and JUST PRESS SAVE were a 2019 and 2018 Semi-Finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Conference.,

respectively. Rodney was last seen on Broadway as Bob & Others in Come From Away; Clarence Norris in The Scottsboro

Boys, Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar (2000 Revival) and the Original Cast of RENT. He currently has a supporting role in

the newly released Paramount Studios film ‘Mighty Oak’ at Drive in’s and movie theaters. Rodney is a peace and love

practitioner/meditator as well as a playwright and actor. www.rodneyhicks.net/ Follow on instagram: @rodneyhickshere Facebook: Rodney Hicks     

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Bio: Gianna Harris

Gianna Harris is a 15 year old singer, musician, actor and dancer. She plays the guitar, piano, bass and ukulele. Gianna discovered her love for performing in 2015 and as an amateur she performed at MSG during the Knicks half-time show and Apollo Theater. Gianna’s professional career started in March of 2016 when she got her first big role in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s School of Rock on Broadway. In 2017 she graduated from Broadway and joined the touring company of School of Rock. Her most recent role is Emma Biggs in Mighty Oak. When Gianna is not acting she is either writing and recording music, reading or riding her skateboard. Her favorite color is lavender and her favorite dessert is choc chip cookies. Gianna is a huge advocate and voice for Mental Health Awareness and LQBTQ+ Equality. Insta: @thegiannaharris

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Bio: Ben Milliken

Born in Manchester, England, Ben was raised in Bilgola Beach located on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Ben, then moved to Los Angeles where we quickly began landing roles in multiple film and television projects, including Universal’s “Blue Crush 2”. Most recently, Ben landed a role in season 5 of Amazon’s hit show “Bosch”.   www.mightyoakthemovie.com

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Bio: Sean McNamara

Sean Patrick McNamara is an Irish-American writer, director and producer of the break out hit “Soul Surfer” (Tri-Star Pictures). “Spare Parts” from the Wired Magazine article “La Vida Robot” (Lionsgate), “The Moon and the Sun” (Paramount Pictures), “Raise Your Voice” (New Line Cinema), “Hoovey,” “Field Of Lost Shoes” and many more Feature Films and Television shows have been Helmed and produced by Sean. He is the director of Mighty Oak. www.mightyoakthemovie.com

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Bio: Jo Giese

Jo Giese is an award-winning radio journalist, author, teacher, community activist, and former TV reporter. As a special correspondent, she was part of the Peabody Award–winning team at Marketplace, the most popular business program in America. At Marketplace she won an EMMA for Exceptional Radio Story from the National Women’s Political Caucus and a GRACIE from the Foundation of American Women in Radio. She has contributed to Ira Glass’s This American Life and is the author of A Woman’s Path (St. Martin’s Press) and The Good Food Compendium (Doubleday). She has written for many top publications, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Vogue, the LA Weekly, European Travel & Life, BARK, Montana Outdoors, and The Malibu Times. An intrepid and enthusiastic world traveler, Jo has visited more than 50 plus countries. She lives in Southern California and Bozeman, Montana, with her husband, Ed Warren. www.jogiese.com, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjogiese/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/giesejo/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jogiese7

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Listen at Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel: 

https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/124732/cast-of-paramount-film-mighty-oak-and-author-jo-giese

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When you are looking for upbeat, life-changing, and mind-stretching information, you have come to the right place. Host Cynthia Brian takes you on a journey of exploration that will encourage, inspire, and motivate you to make positive changes that offer life-enhancing results. It’s party time on StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!®. And YOU are invited! Join us LIVE 4-5pm Pt on Wednesdays or tune in to the archives at your leisure. Come play in StarStyle Country. Catch up with all broadcasts on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/starstyle-be-the-star-you-are!/id669630180?mt=2

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Learning to Be Human – Taking Steps to Remove Racism from My Thinking

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Business
Learning to Be Human – Taking Steps to Remove Racism from My Thinking

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This blog is provided by April Blaine and is a reflection on a past experience and how it shaped her.  It is a companion to the interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future with Joyce Beatty, Congresswoman, and Doug McCollough titled Winning in the Face of Adversity: Overcoming Challenge with Grace which aired on 10/13/18.

One of the first steps to remove racism in the world is to remove it from our thinking. It is essential to take a critical look at our lives and see where we can update our own story about who we are and how we have benefited from systemic racism. This critical view of our stories is an integral part of our healing and allows us to make sense of what we experience now through a lens that is less biased, fairer, and more just. April Blaine, one of the ILI certified facilitators shares her experience with this process.

 

I’m Sorry Mrs. Skull…

I began the first grade at Fulbright Elementary School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1983.  More than twenty-five years after the city’s infamous and violent path toward desegregation at Central High School, the district continued to struggle with integration, particularly in the elementary schools.    While I lived less than a mile from the school, most of my classmates were bused from across town.  All of them were African-American except myself and one other girl.  The remaining children on my block,  who swam with me at the pool went to  local private schools.

My teacher, Mrs. Skull, made it clear on day one that she meant business.  She was tall, thin, dignified, and serious.  One of only a handful of black teachers in the school, she always dressed smartly, her hair pulled back in a bun, accentuating her beautifully defined cheekbones and smooth, clear complexion. My six-year-old memories would place her anywhere between the ages of 25 and 55… something about her felt ageless.

As adults, we can reflect on these moments in our childhood and how we made sense of what was happening around us.  We can review the stories that we were told with a more critical lens… examining them with an ability to ask – was that really true?

But back in 1983, in my all-white neighborhood and nearly all-black school – with the only black teacher I would ever have in my public school experience…  I didn’t have the gift yet of perspective.

My mother had started reading with me from a very young age.  She is an educator by vocation, and I took to reading quickly… spending my preschool and kindergarten years never far from a book.   I’m not sure who was more excited on my first day of school.  My mother dressed me in a hand made purple smocked dress, both of us filled with high expectations for all that I would learn and discover in this new season of life.

In the early part of the year, Mrs. Skull began placing us into reading groups.  I remember reading the book she gave me and thinking to myself, “This is easy.  This is too easy.”  As I looked around the room at other groups, I recognized that others were reading books that were harder.  I wanted to read those.  I was told no.

I don’t remember feeling angry about this… just confused.  Why wasn’t I able to read the books the other children were reading?  At some point, I vocalized this concern to my mother.

There are lots of words you could use to describe my mother.  Strong, intelligent, generous, and loyal would be some of the first to come to mind.  But close behind them would be pushy, aggressive, convinced she is right and unwilling to take no for an answer.

I can only imagine how the conversation went with Mrs. Skull.

All I know is that a battle ensued between my mother and this teacher.  I wasn’t privy to all the details, but I could hear the muttering at home on my mother’s end.  Mrs. Skull was not appreciative of a parent questioning her judgment.  She refused to change the reading groups based on my mother’s demands.

More phone calls and visits to the principal’s office ensued.  The saga ended with me being removed from Mrs. Skull’s class and placed in a 3rd-grade classroom for most of instruction for the remainder of the year.

And so the triumphant story was told throughout my childhood of our victory over prejudice and hate.  In my version of the story, my mother was the hero standing up against racially motivated discrimination directed at her daughter.    I was, of course, the victim in the story.  Mrs. Skull was the black teacher who gave preferential treatment to her black students and discriminatory treatment to the white student.  And in this story, my departure from the classroom was a picture of poetic justice.

Woven into the narrative were all the cultural stereotypes of angry black females.  My serious and dignified teacher became a stern, cold, and hateful woman in the story we were writing.  Even her name seemed to connect to a more primitive, dark, and negative side of the human race.  Mrs. SKULL…

This story left its marks on the identity I built for myself over time, one in which, as a “victim of racism,” I could not possibly be racist or prejudiced.  I even went so far as to align myself with people on the margins in solidarity.  After all, I had been one of the only white girls in the class.  I “clearly knew” what it was like to be discriminated against.

This story gave me a lot of permission.  It gave me permission to excuse myself from anti-racism work, permission to claim the status as someone who understood racism and discrimination. Still, most of all, it permitted me never to ask any questions about the real truth of the story itself.

At least, until now.

It’s pretty embarrassing how long it took me to realize that this story had some real problems.

At 42, I’m starting to come to terms with ways that white supremacy was and is woven into my life. I’m a real beginner at this, and most days, all I’m learning is how much I don’t understand and how complicit I have been for so long.

But the work has finally helped me to start asking new questions.  I’ve started to wonder about how this story might have played out from the perspective of my 1st-grade teacher.

As a child, I was bossy, outspoken, and slipped quickly into roles of leadership… whether I was invited to or not.  I wonder what Mrs. Skull thought as she assessed her class and tried to create the right learning environment for each one of us.

  • Did she see my early reading skills and place me in the reading group with other students so that I could be helpful to the others?
  • Did she recognize that experience in a group that wasn’t the highest achieving would turn out to be valuable for me?
  • Did I somehow misunderstand the nature of the reading assessment and test at a lower level than I actually was?

As a black woman of color, Mrs. Skull had probably worked twice as hard as her white colleagues to prove her worth and aptitude in the profession.  She hadn’t crossed enormous racial boundaries and systemic hurdles to secure a position in the suburbs by accident.

  • What must it have been like to come all this way to have your integrity challenged so directly?
  • What was she thinking when this white mother was relentlessly demanding that she submit to her expectations?

I’m sure it wasn’t the first time she had encountered this kind of treatment by a white parent.  I’m certain it wasn’t the last.

What did it take for her to walk into school every day with her head held high and keep doing what she intended to do… teach these children with dignity?

The stories we tell ourselves matter.  They shape a reality for us that we then live in, often far into adulthood.

This is normal, human stuff.  We all do it.

AND

We need to examining our stories.  They need to be taken out and explored and reconfigured and understood with the new information that we have as adults who are waking up and beginning to see things more clearly.

I don’t know exactly what happened at this moment in 1983.  I don’t know what motivated Mrs. Skull’s actions.

But I do know that if there was a victim in this story, it wasn’t me.

The system of white supremacy that supported my mother’s demands and moved me to an advanced class was operating as it always had… in the interest of white people.

And in the process, a hardworking, intelligent, dignified black teacher, who might have had the opportunity to make a real impact on my life, and teach me things from a new perspective, perhaps throw a wrench into some of the ideals that would be further cemented in my mind when I moved 2 years later to an all white community… was disgraced, disrespected, and overruled by her white superiors.

And I participated in it.  I participated in it at the age of 6.

Unknowingly.  Unintentionally, yes.

And yet, I participated in powerful ways that made an impact on the life of my teacher.

I’m sorry, Mrs. Skull.

I’m sorry for making you the villain all these years.

I’m so sorry for not doing the work I needed to see the truth.

I’m sorry I couldn’t see you as a human being…

I’m sorry I took my power and privilege for granted.

And I’m so sorry that you had to suffer because of it.

It’s not OK.

And it’s time to start telling the truth.

The real stories.

Thank you for being my teacher…  36 years later, I’m just beginning to learn.

 

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, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Rev. April Blaine is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.  She currently serves as the Lead Pastor at Hilliard UMC in Columbus, OH.  April and her partner Martin have 2 children, Eugene and Marcus.  April is passionate about helping others to make their home in a sense of love and acceptance so they can discover within a spiritual depth, honesty, and courage previously unseen.  She teaches prayer and meditation courses online at Hilliard UMC and is working with the Innovative Leadership Institute to develop a course on the importance of Spirituality and Inner Depth as an Innovative Leader.

 

 

The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off! * Kate McKinnon as Ms. Frizzle Hits it Out of the Park!

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VoiceAmerica
The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off! * Kate McKinnon as Ms. Frizzle Hits it Out of the Park!

Bus, do your stuff! Field trips with Ms. Frizzle are wilder than ever, into space, over to the Galapagos Islands even a plunge into the depths of the Sun itself. And along the way, the kids we know and love bring their science investigations into the 21st century still taking chances, making mistakes and getting messy! Climb aboard for a field trip you’ll never forget. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Jude A. comments, “This new DVD brings back the characters we all know and love and doesn’t fail to bring back that hilarious, but educational feeling we get from these fifth graders and their wacky teacher! This DVD doesn’t just deliver a flying school bus and a catchy theme song; it also delivers hilarious dialogue and creative adventures.” Allison B. adds, “While watching this DVD, many details stuck out to me. To start, the theme song is sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda! Not to mention that Ms. Frizzle is voiced by Kate McKinnon. Talk about some serious star power. On the topic of Kate McKinnon, she makes a great Ms. Frizzle, as she gives the character the craziness and yet, calm attitude that makes her really come alive. She isn’t the only voice actor that sticks out to me. Miles KV, as Arnold, conveys realistic emotion through his character by only using his voice. Even when listening, you can tell he is worried about Ms. Frizzle and her shenanigans. The animation in this show has a very interesting touch. While the character and objects remain cartoonish, the backgrounds look magnificently real, especially when the glass goes to space.” Selene W. wraps it up with, “Love this reboot of the magical series I grew up with. In our household Miss Frizzle can do no wrong as she makes learning complicated science lessons easily understandable and fun. I was worried that our family’s all-time favorite learning series would be compromised in some way, but I’m happy to share that I can’t wait to watch all the new episodes.” See their full reviews below.

The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off!
By Jude A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14
https://youtu.be/6dALLdjr6-U

Let me take on you on a field trip because today we are learning about the new children’s DVD The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off! This new DVD brings back the characters we all know and love and doesn’t fail to bring back that hilarious, but educational feeling we get from these fifth graders and their wacky teacher! This DVD doesn’t just deliver a flying school bus and a catchy theme song; it also delivers hilarious dialogue and creative adventures.

The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off! follows the same group of students and teachers as the original 90s show The Magic School Bus. Once again, it captures the adventures that Ms. Frizzle (Kate McKinnon) takes her fifth grade class on. This DVD includes four wild adventurous episodes, including going into space and repairing near-by satellites, and flying over the Galapagos Islands.

As a fan of the original show, I was skeptical at first because remakes can sadly sometimes diminish the love for the original. The new show is a breath of fresh air and leaves you wanting more of these wild field trips. Kate McKinnon is the best possible actress for the role of Ms. Frizzle because of her overall humor and energy. What a perfect fit!

This show is educational and provides belly-laughing humor without sounding forced. Many morals are also provided as it teaches children about the importance of teamwork and friendship. Along the way, this show teaches children that mistakes are okay; the best thing about mistakes is that you can learn from them.

This DVD goes above and beyond the stars just like Ms. Frizzle and her class do and provides an educational, yet fun-loving show that all children can enjoy. I give The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Blast Off! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 8. It’s available on DVD or Digital now so look for it.

By Jude Adler, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! 
By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 13
https://youtu.be/tQOt3iSYNq0

I was absolutely wowed with The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! This adventurous DVD collection kept me entertained, laughing and wanting more. You will ride along with crazy Ms. Frizzle and her lovable class on the adventure of a lifetime. 3…2…1 BLAST OFF! 

The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off is a collection of four episodes: Frizzle of the Future, Space Mission: Selfie, Ready, Set, Fail! and Making Magic. Each episode has a new, exciting field trip to watch and enjoy. In this series you will travel from space to the Galapagos Islands while learning lessons about failure, teamwork, getting messy and having fun while doing it all! The kids and teacher you know and love are back and better than ever, so hop on for an experience you’ll never forget!

While watching this DVD, many details stuck out to me. To start, the theme song is sung by Lin-Manuel Miranda! Not to mention that Ms. Frizzle is voiced by Kate McKinnon. Talk about some serious star power. On the topic of Kate McKinnon, she makes a great Ms. Frizzle, as she gives the character the craziness and yet, calm attitude that makes her really come alive. She isn’t the only voice actor that sticks out to me. Miles KV, as Arnold, conveys realistic emotion through his character by only using his voice. Even when listening, you can tell he is worried about Ms. Frizzle and her shenanigans. The animation in this show has a very interesting touch. While the character and objects remain cartoonish, the backgrounds look magnificently real, especially when the glass goes to space.

The message of this series is: if at first you don’t succeed, try again. The kids learn this through trying to take the perfect space selfie, to getting a magical orb that seems to hold all of life’s answers. While doing these things, they figure out that failure can be a good thing, because you can learn from mistakes. They also learn that with good teamwork and a positive mindset, anything is possible.

I give The Magic School Bus Rides Again Blast Off! 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to ages 7 to 14. This series can now be found on DVD and Digital. 

The Magic School Bus Rides Again – Blast Off!
By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12
https://youtu.be/Hv5j-XkLY0Q

The Magic School Bus Rides Again! Love this reboot of the magical series I grew up with. In our household Miss Frizzle can do no wrong as she makes learning complicated science lessons easily understandable and fun. I was worried that our family’s all-time favorite learning series would be compromised in some way, but I’m happy to share that I can’t wait to watch all the new episodes.

The Magic School Bus Rides Again starts with a new Miss Frizzle and a new school year in science class. Fortunately, we learn that Miss Frizzle is the younger sister of the original Miss Frizzle who is now Professor Frizzle, as she has been busy getting her Ph.D. and continues to be voiced by the incredible Lily Tomlin. Like classmate Arnold, I was nervous about accepting the new Miss Frizzle, but Kate McKinnon adds her voice and personality to her role as Miss Fiona Frizzle and we soon accept her as our new teacher. I say “our” because, as a viewer, you are pulled into the lessons being taught in each episode.

All of the original characters return in this series except for Phoebe who has moved and we are joined by a new classmate, Jyoti. The Blast Off! DVD contains four field trips and you will enjoy the new high-tech school bus and other updated gadgets in the new series which bring it into the 21st century. The animation is updated by animator Matthew DaSilva; you still recognize the characters and classroom, but it has a more modern feel and integrates well with the story. You just have to watch these episodes to see the other minor updates.

If you’re new to the series, jump on the bus! The Magic School Bus Rides Again is such a fun way to learn, while being massively entertained. Each episode explores a science topic and the magic of the series is that it can take you forward or backward in time, place or size and alters your appearance in an effort to experience life as the subject you are studying.

The message of this series is to learn by taking chances and making mistakes and that is still as true today as when the original series aired. Kids learn through exploring the world around them and seeing how everything is interconnected. Miss Frizzle not only teaches us science but life lessons as well!

I rate this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 6 to 16 and, of course, adults will like it too as our family watched this incredible series together. This compilation is available now on Digital or DVD from NCircle Entertainment.

Privacy and Business Continuity

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Variety
Privacy and Business Continuity

Join me Aug 27/20, as I talk to Privacy expert Constantine Karbaliotis and how it relates to Business Continuity. With so many people working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic, privacy concerns have become a major issue for organizations.

Don’t miss it!

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Ethics Violation: A Practical Example on Gathering All the Facts

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Business
Ethics Violation: A Practical Example on Gathering All the Facts

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This blog is provided by Rob Chesnut and is an excerpt adapted from his latest book, Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution (St. Martin’s Press, 2020) and used with permission.  You can purchase his book here.  This blog is a companion to his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution which aired on 7/28/20.

 

The primary guidance I have for those who find themselves in a position of having to work out appropriate consequences is: put on your ethics goggles and be intentional. At every stage of this process, every leader involved should strive for fairness and honesty and be able to understand how decisions come across not just to those involved but to other employees.

Let’s work through a fictional example that will ground some of these ideas. Milo has spent the last year working as a logistics manager for a family-owned furniture company with 150 employees. The company has a code of ethics that includes a $100 limit on gifts. Milo’s administrative assistant, who is the nephew of the owner, mentioned to his uncle that Milo accepted a pair of Stanley Cup playoff tickets worth $500 from a shipping partner.

Clearly, Milo broke a rule.

The owner calls Milo’s manager and learns that Milo is an excellent employee who has never had any other complaint lodged against him. Next, the owner talks to Milo, who says he realizes that he was supposed to read the ethics statement but he never got around to it. He relates that at his last company, there was no policy about gift limits, so he did not think to check when the tickets arrived. He apologizes and appears genuinely upset to learn that he violated this rule. Not only was Milo contrite, he offered to call the vendor who gave him the tickets and reimburse the value.

Milo screwed up here, no question. He was careless . . . but, far as I can tell, not devious. Based on these facts, I’d probably advise the owner to give Milo a stern verbal warning. I’d be sure to say if he did this again, there would be serious consequences. I’d reinforce that he must read the code of ethics. I would remind Milo that he should not retaliate in any way against his admin, who had every right and arguably a duty to report his violation. If he’s already used the tickets, Milo probably should reimburse the shipper and explain that he made a mistake, in part so that the furniture company is not seen as a partner where high-value gifts are expected or appropriate.

This may seem lenient. The company has every right to “throw the book” at Milo . . . but he seems like a very good employee who made a mistake. Demonstrating compassion and thoughtfulness in this case might create an opportunity for the owner to remind everyone to reread the code of ethics, and thus prevent more problems. There is no mandated confidentiality involved in a verbal warning, and so Milo and his admin can talk about what happened, and others who might have questions can raise them as well.

So, let’s call that scenario one. Now, let’s alter the facts a bit.

What if Milo gets angry and defensive when asked about the tickets? What if Milo’s admin says that this is the third or fourth time the shipper has sent Milo tickets for a sporting event or a concert and that he has warned him several times that accepting the tickets is a violation of company policy? What if Milo’s manager says that Milo suggested the company shift more business to this shipper . . . just a few days after the shipper sent him the tickets?

In the second scenario, the results of the investigation suggest that Milo has engineered a relationship with the shipping partner that is a conflict of interest. So here we have two identical offense reports, but the details elevate the second scenario to a much more serious level. They may suggest a deliberate bribe by an employee of the shipper, and they may be significant enough to warrant terminating Milo immediately.

Wow, harsh. Terminating an employee can be catastrophic for that individual, and it can hobble a work team. It should never be done lightly, but some offenses, like sexual harassment or fraud or bribery, are so serious that once you have established that they occurred, you must act decisively and signal that this is unacceptable behavior.

As Milo’s example shows, the facts and details always matter. Intentions are important. Mistakes are different from premeditated acts. Investigations must be fair and full, approached objectively.

In the corporate world, disciplining an employee for a code violation is a necessary part of the integrity process. And I’ll be honest: it’s my least favorite part. While it’s fun and energizing to write a code of ethics and feel like you are shaping a great company where everyone will be proud to work, it can be infuriating, frustrating, and sad when someone violates that code. Sometimes people, for a wide variety of reasons, can make consequential mistakes that cost them their jobs, put their families’ financial stability in jeopardy, and create a permanent stain on their reputations—and the company’s as well. But you have to respond, or your code will have no credibility. You’ll fail as a leader, and the people who follow the rules will suffer.

Adapted from Intentional Integrity: How Smart Companies Can Lead an Ethical Revolution by Rob Chesnut (St. Martin’s Press, 2020).

 

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, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Rob Chesnut is the Chief Ethics Officer at Airbnb, a role he took on in late 2019 after nearly four years as the company’s General Counsel. He previously led eBay’s North America legal team, where he founded the Internet’s first ecommerce person to person platform Trust and Safety team. He was the general counsel at Chegg, Inc. for nearly 6 years, and he served 14 years with the U.S. Justice Department.

Surviving Summer!

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Empowerment
Surviving Summer!

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SURVIVING SUMMER!

MIRACLE MOMENT®

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 

                         Eleanor Roosevelt  1884-1962, Former First Lady


MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN, Founder/Executive Director

CYNTHIA BRIAN SUNFLOWER 2According to reports, more that 1/3 of the population are currently depressed. With the deadly pandemic, civil unrest, political upheaval, unemployment, climate change, travel restrictions, school closures, and stock market ups and downs, it’s no wonder that people feel disoriented. Although we are all in this together, every situation is different. And when we feel burdened, sad, or disillusioned, it doesn’t hurt any less because others are experiencing the same.

We are in pain. We feel the ache, the anguish, the agony, the loneliness, the sorrow. We feel human.

The good news is that as long as you are feeling something, anything, you are alive with  the possibility and potential that things will get better. Summer is normally a time for fun, family, friends and vacations. This year, we all just want to survive the chaos.

Make an effort to get out of the shadows of fear and stand in the sunshine. Reach out to help someone and you will feel better. Being of service to others has that effect. Give yourself a break to walk in nature. Listen to the birds. Watch the passing clouds. Smell the roses. Feel the wind on your cheek. Taste a freshly-picked tomato. Roll in the grass. Run through a sprinkler.

“This too shall pass!” We just don’t know when. We will survive this horror. In the meantime, hang in there. Wear a mask. Keep your distance. Stay at home when feasible. Be brave. Be strong.

Living with gratitude,

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556

Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org

https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org

http://www.BTSYA.org


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BE UPLIFTED WITH BE THE STAR YOU ARE!® RADIO BROADCASTS

As part of our Be the Star You Are! Disaster Relief Outreach program (https://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-operation-hurricane-disaste), StarStyle® Productions, LLC and Be the Star You Are!® are showcasing authors, artists, actors, poets, musicians, and many others, all of whom had had their gigs canceled and are out of work. We believe in supporting creativity that provides escape and joy, especially during tough times. You’ll even meet the cast of the new film by director, Sean McNamara, “Mighty Oak”.

Tune in to StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® on Wednesdays at 4pm PT for “Wednesdays with Writers and Performers” LIVE http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are as well as our teen program, Express Yourself!™ airing on Sundays at 3pm PT for “Super Smart Sundays” https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

Both programs broadcast on the Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel and will be archived on that site. You can also listen to all of our broadcasts on the following platforms:

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Places to Listen to StarStyle Radio:

Live Show: https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are

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

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Places to Listen to Express Yourself! Teen Radio

Listen at Voice America Network: https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

Apple iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/id481894121

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Iiee6vo3fccc7qc4ac4naqvjnc4

Tunein: https://tunein.com/podcasts/Young-Adult/Express-Yourself-p401071/

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/voice-america/express-yourself

iHeartRadio: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/256-express-yourself-31136273/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/24ol79nCzJ1wzao8pTYysj


PANDEMIC FREEDOM

andrea smith wetsuitby Andrea Smith

Living during a global pandemic can feel extremely isolating and lonely. We are social people living in a social world. Suddenly our world is completely turned around. Before quarantine we had never-ending things to check off the daily list. Think about it, when was the last time that you took 15 minutes just to sit and breathe? The society we live in is constantly moving at a rate so fast that we must sprint to keep up.

Unfortunately, the consequence of this is that the beauty of solitude is long forgotten. We lose sight of the bigger picture in life, what in the end will make us happy rather than what society says will make us happy.  If we aren’t attuned with ourselves, how can we possibly be truly attuned with others?

At the start of quarantine, I began writing each night in a journal. My diary acts as a best friend, for paper will always listen, never judge, and never tell. The act of writing brings you to a place where time no longer moves, where you can finally take a moment and breathe. Sadly it’s an art that has been lost, hidden under the shadows due to the boom in technology. But like any art, it has the power to change your life.

Art gives you relief from the pressuring norms of society and allows you to become more than your accomplishments or failures. Art liberates us, lets us go where we want to go, and be who we want to be. Grab a piece of paper, start writing, and let yourself free.

Andrea Smith is our newest reporter of the segment “In the Spotlight” and host on Express Yourself!® Teen Radio. She is a high school senior who loves swimming and everything related to the ocean. She is extremely passionate about Model United Nations and ways to live a happy and healthy lifestyle! https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself


“I am so happy to be a part of this team! The past weeks have been an absolute blast and I can’t wait for what is to come!! 🙂 I am so grateful for you! Thanks again!” Andrea Smith


THE VIRTUAL VIRTUOUS WOMAN

Priscilla Mac-gownBy Priscilla Mac

Being a responsible woman of virtue on the internet means being resourceful and giving back to others who are your audience. You can do this in any way that is in sync with your brand and talents but the best way to be resourceful is to make your audience think.

How?

By sharing knowledge and allowing them to take action steps of research. Posting books, articles and blogs that you find online and even newsletters like the one you are reading now help your audience grow. It’s also a great conversation piece to share ideas, opinions and other virtual findings that your audience has access to that perhaps you do not. It all begins with the brave step of putting it out there. I know we tend to think that what we are interested in others aren’t but that’s not always true sisters. Being a Virtual Virtuous Woman involves being brave, bold, bright, and beneficial to others.

You must see yourself as the key that unlocks mysteries of the mind and do your due diligence to be a virtual contribution to the positive information load of the internet. We have been virtuous women for some time but today there is an additional platform to shine on called Social Media.

Be sure to share intelligent, fun and quality content so that you attract like minded citizens.

Continue reading at http://www.btsya.com/resources.html

Priscilla Mac is volunteer with Be the Star You Are!® and Christian Television Talk Show Host of a program called “Still Learning Still Developing” which airs on Preach The Word Worldwide Network.During her 5 years of service in the U.S. Army she specialized in Logistics and is currently a Digital Systems Analyst for Voice of America International Broadcasting.. www.priscillamac.com


HELPING CHILDREN TO DEVELOP LITERACY SKILLS-OTHER COMPONENTS

BTSYA High Res Logo Read Lead SucceedBy Stephanie Cogeos

There are ways to help children develop literacy skills. Literacy is generally defined as being able to read, write, communicate. There are more deeper levels of literacy that are just as important.

Establishing predictable routines to help children learn to anticipate events. With routines, children can begin to learn about objects and vocabulary associated with certain activities. Participating in all steps of a routine can reinforce concepts and language skills. Routines can also help children learn about a sequence – first this, then this, or start to finish. Examples would be setting a table, laying out clothes or arranging materials for any activity.

Children who are visually impaired or blind also need the opportunity to experience things through hands-on activities.  They would need more instruction because of lack of learning through incidental learning. A book about a farm will be more meaningful if one can visit an actual farm, pet different animals, listen to their calls, etc.

 

Using a wide range of vocabulary and concepts are important to have good literacy skills. Using lots of adjectives and more detailed descriptions can help expand a child’s vocabulary. Examples would be “let’s put on your red rubber boots today” or “get the blue pitcher of cold milk”.

Many children benefit from reading aloud. It can give them special attention, reinforce language development and to work on book handling skills. Continue reading at http://www.btsya.com/resources.html

Volunteer Stephanie Cogeos is our Book Review coordinator. She is now doing research to provide resources for the public to learn about the importance of literacy, positive media messages, and empowering women families, and youth. You can keep up with the resources at this link: http://www.btsya.com/resources.html

karen kitchel with millennial bookby Karen Kitchel

Kindness is contagious. When we find simple ways to spontaneously bring joy to others, we bring joy to the world.

Lyrics in the play Hamilton raise the question:

“Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?”

Thought for today:

When my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?

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


SUMMER SURVIVAL READING

the reading tub logoOur Star Teen Book Review Team is busy reading and writing reviews for you to enjoy this summer. Reviews are honest and the personal experience of each writer.

Check them out at our website, http://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html, and at our partner, The Reading Tub, https://thereadingtub.org/books/be-the-star-you-are/.

Many thanks to our Book Review Coordinator, Stephanie Cogeos, for keeping us on track. If you are interested in joining our team and you are genuinely interested in being of service to others, you can find the info at http://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html


READ AWARD-WINNING ARTICLE ABOUT FIRE SAFETY

2020 Garden Comm Award Silver LogoFire season is ramping up and with the recent winds, wildfires could easily ignite. Make sure to cut any tall grass or weeds, trim low hanging branches, clean gutters, and remove debris from around your property.

GardenComm: Garden Communicators International notified Cynthia Brian that out of 160 entries, she won the 2020 Media Awards Silver Medal of Achievement for a Journalism Newspaper Article,  the Lamorinda Weekly article, Scary, scary night. 

Read the article to help you prepare your landscaping for fire resistance. With this Covid-19 pandemic, the smoke from wildfires has the potential to be extra dangerous or deadly.  Read Scary,scary nightat https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1318/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Scary-scary-night.html

Read about the award here:

http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/cynthia-brian-receives-silver-medal-of-achievement-in-the-national-2020-gardencomm-media-awards-1296930.htm#

Get in touch with the outdoors, nature, and gardening.

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Be prepared. Stay safe this summer.


SHOP ONLINE WITHOUT A MASK!

Since we need to stay at home and only go out when absolutely necessary, these are on-line shopping portals that will sell you what you need, offer discounts, and assist our mission as a nonprofit. 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, then donate a percentage to BTSYA:https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc

& buy from your favorite stores.

4. Search and GoodShop: Choose Be the Star You Are as your charity to support. You can log in with Facebook, too! https://www.goodshop.com/nonprofit/be-the-star-you-are

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

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6. Buy “Read, Lead, Succeed” black tanks $19.99  and books at StarStyle® Store: http://www.starstylestore.net/

T-shirts

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


Direct Links you can use for Be the Star You Are!®

Positive Results: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/positive-results

About Us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/about_us

Programs: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/programs

How to Help: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/how-to-help

Blog: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/blog-1

Events: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/events

Contact us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/contact

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GREAT NON PROFITS REVIEWS: https://greatnonprofits.org/org/be-the-star-you-are-inc

GUIDESTAR/CANDID: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/94-3333882

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We invite you to volunteer, get involved, or make a donation. Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:  https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


PLEASE DONATE

t-shirt_btsya_outlinesBTSYA receives no government or corporate support. We count on YOU to help us help others. During this pandemic, all of our fundraising events have been canceled, yet we continue to support those in need. We appreciate a direct donation most of all via PAYPAL GIVING FUND at https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

Checks can be sent to PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556

http://www.btsya.org


Classified Ads:

If you’d like to advertise your service or product while supporting Be the Star You Are!®, we are now accepting approved ads that will benefit readers. Contact info@BetheStarYouAre.org for details.


Keep your face to the sunshine and you won’t see the shadows. Stay strong and resilient,

 
 
Sending sunshine, sunsets, and starlight. SHINE!

You will survive summer!
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PO Box 376
Moraga, Ca.94556
www.BetheStarYouAre.org
www.BTSYA.org


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Sweet, Savory Summer

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Empowerment
Sweet, Savory Summer

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

Sweet, Savory Summer

By Cynthia Brian

“Steep thyself in a bowl of summer.” –Virgil

Summer! Just saying the word puts a smile on my face.

Since I was a little girl, the months of July and August were times of great joy, working as a laborer picking or cutting apricots, peaches, and pears in neighbors’ orchards or fruit shed to earn money for college during the day, followed by unwinding with evening baseball games in the fields. Sundays were spent with cousins and relatives swimming in the pool at my grandparents’ vineyard. Our parents would prepare a feast for dinner after harvesting whatever vegetables were ready in the garden while the kids braved the thorny brambles to find the juiciest berries for dessert. In the station wagon on the way back to our ranch, we’d fall blissfully asleep, our hearts filled with happy memories and our bellies pleasantly satiated, except, of course, for my Dad, the driver. 

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Summer boasts a sweet and savory story with harvests of corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches, pears, apples, plums, prunes, eggplants, zucchini, berries, peppers, and other nutritious treats that will grace our dining tables. Although this summer I won’t be hosting any barbecue buffets, I still enjoy picking fresh fruit in my orchard and eating my home-grown vegetables. Pink cherry plums are plump and especially delicious this year as are the deep dark purple prunes. Prunes and plums come from the same genus, prunus, yet they are not identical. Plums are usually round, red or yellow, whereas prunes are oval-shaped and purple, almost blackish with a pit that dislodges easily. Plums and prunes are also related to cherries, peaches, and almonds, all in the family prunus. This season my cherry plums have a distinct flavor of peaches. My peaches aren’t ripe, but they are planted close to the plums. Every year the taste varies. Because cherry plums are the size of cherries and quite crunchy when not over-ripe, I freeze a few and eat them like a popsicle. Sometimes I add the frozen plum to my beverage for an enlivening alternative to ice. I plan on dehydrating some of the prunes or drying them for future use.

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My girlfriend, Nora, is a huge fan of black currants, also known as cassis. Over thirty years ago her dad gave her a cutting from their family currant shrub to plant in her garden. Harvesting the currants brings a sweet memory of the times she spent with her doctor dad. This year’s crop was profuse. She’ll freeze a few cartons of these tasty, complex, and medicinally useful fruit for her family’s winter enjoyment. My black currant flowers were prolific, yet my berries were disappointing. A handy tool for harvesting is a Scandinavian berry picker that eliminates having to pluck single berries one by one. 

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It wouldn’t be summer without the sweet and savory ingredients of fresh-picked corn, cucumbers, and heirloom tomatoes. If you are not growing any, farmer’s markets have bushels ready to buy. I soak the ears of corn with the husk on in a bucket of water for an hour, then, pull back part of the husks, lather with a basil-garlic butter, and steam them on the barbecue. Yummy!

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My mother’s tomato salad has been a family tradition for ages. Slice heirloom tomatoes, red onions, and cucumbers.  Add chopped garlic and red, orange, or green bell peppers. Dress with olive oil, wine vinegar, and balsamic. Season to taste. Voila! A beautiful and scrumptious summer salad. 

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Finally, don’t forget to cut a few stems of “pretties” to add to a vase. Right now, the crocosmia or firecracker plant is in full bloom and makes a fantastic cut flower. Leave several in the garden for the hovering hummingbirds. Don’t forget to refill fountains so that our bird friends can have a refreshing drink or bath.

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Fire season is ramping up and with the recent winds, wildfires could easily ignite. Make sure to cut any tall grass or weeds, trim low hanging branches, clean gutters, and remove debris from around your property.

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GardenComm: Garden Communicators International just notified me that I won the 2020 Media Awards Silver Medal of Achievement for a Journalism Newspaper Article, presented by out of 160 entries for my Lamorinda Weekly article, Scary, scary night. I am honored for this major award and encourage you to have another look at that winning entry because it will help you prepare your landscaping for fire resistance. With this Covid-19 pandemic, the smoke from wildfires has the potential to be extra dangerous or deadly.  Read Scary,scary night at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1318/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Scary-scary-night.html

Read about the award here:

http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/cynthia-brian-receives-silver-medal-of-achievement-in-the-national-2020-gardencomm-media-awards-1296930.htm#

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May you enjoy a sweet and savory summer of social distancing and wearing masks.

Be healthy, hopeful, and positive. Steep thyself in a bowl of summer.  I am!

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Happy gardening. Happy growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1411/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Sweet-savory-summer.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. 

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Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Summer Fun with Molang * These Characters Seem to Be Enjoying Summer More than Anyone!

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Summer Fun with Molang * These Characters Seem to Be Enjoying Summer More than Anyone!

Summer is here! Molang and Piu Piu are ready to make the most of it. From deep-sea diving and discovering underwater wonders, to meeting new friends and travelling in an RV, our two friends will live a summer bursting with fun, surprises and friendship. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Alexis J. comments, “I love this DVD, Summer Fun with Molang. It has such adorable animation. Summer is here. A bunny and a chick drive around to find a little fun together and are very cute. The anthropomorphic characters seem to be enjoying summer more than anyone! “ Cadence G. adds, “This DVD is about a bunny named Molang and a duck named Piu Piu who have a lot of fun and go on many adventures together. In one episode, Molang and Piu Piu go on a vacation to Hawaii. They meet friends on the way, but one of them gets stuck and when they try to help them, they get stuck on the island too. Luckily they work together to get back to Hawaii, but you’ll have to watch it to see what they do. Another adventure has to do with a whale. At first everyone is so scared of it, but then they want to help the whale get back to the ocean. Check out the episode called “The Rescue” to see what happens.” See their full reviews below.
Summer Fun with Molang
By Alexis J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 9
https://youtu.be/zR05YJBLhw4

I love this DVD, Summer Fun with Molang. It has such adorable animation. Summer is here. A bunny and a chick drive around to find a little fun together and are very cute. The anthropomorphic characters seem to be enjoying summer more than anyone!

The bunny, Molang and chick, Piu Piu are the main characters. There are six episodes on this DVD experiencing summer adventure together. In first episode, Molang and Piu-Piu go underneath the water together to face the sea monster, even though everyone is afraid of it. Even during their scary adventure, they find ways to have fun and share good times together. In another episode, they are together at the fair. Molang sees a unicorn on a shelf and really wants to have one. Molang tries several different games but fails to win. Piu Piu doesn’t hesitate to help Molang as a best friend. However, Piu-Piu also fails in all game. Piu Piu doesn’t stop there. Piu Piu came up with a brilliant idea. It makes Molang smile. I love Piu Piu’s brilliant idea and it makes me smile, too.

Director Marie-Caroline Villand really delivers a super cute animated show. The anthropomorphic bunny and chick do everything together. However, even though they act like humans, their speaking is not like humans. Don’t worry! You will find ways to understand them while watching this DVD. They go snorkeling underneath the ocean, tubing around an island, build a sand statue of friendship and drive a RV together. In each episode, the adorable bunny and small friend face new adventure with laugher and joy. It seems like their friendship gets stronger and stronger every second.

The message of this animation is, “Friends are always there for each other.”

I give Summer Fun with Molang 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12. Adults will enjoy it as well. This DVD is available now so look for it!

Summer Fun with Molang
By Cadence Graber, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11
https://youtu.be/JXgD6IjY-8g

I like Summer Fun with Molang because the characters are super funny and the animation is the cutest thing ever. I also love all the stories in each of the six episodes on this DVD. I don’t like that the characters don’t talk and only make noises. Sometimes that can get a little annoying, but younger kids will probably love it. Rather than dialogue, the animation includes little pop-up bubbles that show what the characters are thinking. You can also tell what they are thinking by their expressions and the tone of the sounds they make.

This DVD is about a bunny named Molang and a duck named Piu Piu who have a lot of fun and go on many adventures together. In one episode, Molang and Piu Piu go on a vacation to Hawaii. They meet friends on the way, but one of them gets stuck and when they try to help them, they get stuck on the island too. Luckily they work together to get back to Hawaii, but you’ll have to watch it to see what they do. Another adventure has to do with a whale. At first everyone is so scared of it, but then they want to help the whale get back to the ocean. Check out the episode called “The Rescue” to see what happens.
I love the settings of all the episodes because they are mostly the ocean and the sand. I’m not familiar with that because there is only a lake and not an ocean where I live. Lake Superior is beautiful, but I love when I get to hang out on the beach in Los Angeles, California. The animation looks realistic and reminds me of having fun on the coast. My favorite part is when the characters have a hula dance in Hawaii because it’s funny and cute.
All of the episodes have their own little messages, but overall the message of this DVD is that if you work together you can get things done quicker and easier. I know my dance group performs far better when we are working together instead of dancing as a group of individuals.
I give Summer Fun with Molang 4 out of 5 years and recommend this DVD for ages 3 to 9. This DVD is available now, so look for it.

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