New Decade: New You

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New Decade: New You

The Eldercare Advocate

How many of us think about devising a strategy to maintain or improve our health and wellness as we age? We may discuss or develop strategies to secure our financial future, we seek out medical plans to serve us in the event of failing health, but we rarely develop a health and wellness strategy, a true plan, to give us the best shot to live as healthy as we can for as long as we can. This is not usually included in any conversation on aging. A plan for your health and wellness journey encompasses more than food choices and exercise. Many people are unaware of the impact that getting sufficient sleep and drinking water has on health and wellness. But a complete strategies for wellness also encompasses mindfulness, a strong mind body connection and positivity.

Though food choices are important considerations, it is beneficial to look at them through the lens of nutrition management. Nutrition management is more than thinking about food choices and diet…it’s developing a strategy for selecting the appropriate foods for your body and lifestyle. The body is like the recipe for a favorite food. Specific ingredients are required proportioned in their relationship to one another in order to produce a well-rounded, fine tasting finished dish. If the proportions are incorrect, an ingredient is mistakenly omitted or added, the end product will not be as expected. So it is with our bodies. Food is our fuel and good nutrition is the key to managing our bodies for optimal functioning. Intelligent nutrition management includes diet types and food recommendations for specific conditions the general impact of various foods on body function. For example, avoiding foods that impact inflammation in the body is important for maintaining good digestive and intestinal health. There are specific foods that boost brain health and decrease your risk of memory loss. One website that offers this information is:

Vitamin levels may be impacted by season as well as cultural and religious customs. For example, sunshine is an important source of Vitamin D. Colder seasons and climates where there is less exposure to sunlight may affect the body’s Vitamin D levels. This would also hold true for people in nursing home or assisted living facilities who are rarely out of doors as well as older people unable to venture outdoors. Recently, it was pointed out to me that cultural practices of covering the body from head to toe may also impact Vitamin D levels.

Finally, it is vitally important that you understand your body type and lifestyle,  your body’s personal needs, and the interaction of foods with supplements and medications when making food choices. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and are two resources for finding out science-based food and nutrition information.

Is there a particular formula or ingredients for achieving optimal health and well-being? Is it ever too late to begin that journey?

There is available research and many websites that provide the framework and strategies that you can be apply whenever you decide to begin that journey. What better time than a new decade?




Discovering Hope and Silver Linings Workshop: Set the Energy for 2020

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Health & Wellness
Discovering Hope and Silver Linings Workshop: Set the Energy for 2020

The Stats and What They Mean for Us

Did you know that on average, 80% of our thoughts are negative, and, even worse, 90% of our thoughts about ourselves are negative?  Would you believe me if I told you that we worry 1 to 8 hours a day? Are you surprised to hear that most heart attacks occur Sunday night due to worry about work? You all probably know this to be true from firsthand experience, as do I. The sad thing is, though, that only 8% of what we worry about actually happens. Negative thoughts eat up our timeenergyhealth and self-esteem spreading negativity to others. We must discover new ways of thinking and focus on hope and silver linings. Our lives and peace depend on it.

Silver Linings in Action

I will give you a real life example of how focusing on hope and finding silver linings in every situation, even the worst ones, can turn your life around. I had a coaching client who was worried about workplace changes that would soon leave him without a job. Loss of a job can trigger fear, or it can be an opportunity to reassess: Who am I now? What do I want now? What will bring me joy now? My client has shown himself to be capable of profound change. In just under three years, he has gone from living in his parent’s home and helping them pay their mortgage to living independently to sharing an apartment with his girlfriend; from parking cars at minimum wage to actualizing his childhood dream of selling cars; and from being home schooled in a socially and academically limiting environment to being comfortable with his coworkers, mentored by his boss and chosen to participate in a special training, which required him to attend a week-long class with a teacher, strangers, and homework for the first time in his life. He has even been exploring his creativity through writing, painting and playing guitar.

His self-confidence, self-esteem, aspirations, and understanding of his capabilities keep changing as he allows himself to explore his talents, skills, and desires. What could have been a terrible situation, ended up being the catalyst for him to change his life for the better in more areas than just one. Through this process of finding the silver lining, he was able to hear his inner wisdom and reaffirm his self-confidence, knowing that, as in the past, he will continue to create a better life for himself moving deeper into who he really is and what will truly bring him joy.

There is Always Hope

No matter what is going on in your life or in the world, you can always find something for which to be grateful. Happiness is the result of how we think about our circumstances and not what our circumstances are. When we focus on the negative, that’s all we see, and we miss the amazing things that are good in our lives. I’ve learned to notice what I wish were different but not dwell on it. I no longer get stuck in the pain and drama. Instead I keep my attention on the good things, the things that make me smile and bring me joy and hope. From that place of gratitude and happiness, it’s easy to bring in more of the same so that the good things keep multiplying. When something is especially challenging, I focus on what I am learning and how I am growing in wisdom, knowledge, strength, patience, compassion, empathy and/or love, including self-love. There is always something for which to be grateful.

This positive approach to life is especially important from now through the end of 2020. Since 2020 is a year of choice, what we choose now will affect us throughout the entire year.

If this message speaks to you and you would like to set a positive energy for 2020, click here to learn more. Remember to register to guarantee your spot at this special event.

Past episodes of Uplift Your Life: Nourishment of the Spirit are always available on-demand. To catch up on any of my radio shows you may have missed out on, click here.

Dr. Paula, The Life Doctor, has helped hundreds of thousands of people improve their health, wealth and relationships through her writing, coaching, and speaking. Contact her today to get started on your journey. Recently Dr. Paula Joyce, PhD was chosen by Expertise as one of the 16 Best Life Coaches in Dallas.


Dr. Paula Joyce, The Life Doctor

  • Personal, Business, and Spiritual Transformation Coach
  • Email-
  • Office Phone- 972.788.2393
  • To learn more, please visit my website-
  • To hear more shows from Uplift Your Life: Nourishment of the Spirit- CLICK HERE

Accelerating Competitive Advantage with AI: How Organisations are Moving from Experimentation to Business Impact

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Accelerating Competitive Advantage with AI: How Organisations are Moving from Experimentation to Business Impact

This blog is provided by Dr. Jennifer Barth and her team, as a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview, Accelerating Competitive Advantage with Artificial Intelligence aired on 1/7/20.

Research Overview

We collaborated with Microsoft for the third year running during summer 2019, to explore the current state of AI across four specific industries, retail, manufacturing, health and financial services within the UK. We analysed how organisations within these sectors can implement AI in an ethical, cost effective and optimal way.

With rapid advancements in AI, our research answers questions around ethics, responsible innovation and the future impact of AI on our industry sectors and workforces. We gathered practical advice on how organisations can create robust and scalable AI investments.

Key Research Findings

  • 56% of organisations in the UK are using AI enabled solutions with notable advances in use of machine learning and analytics
  • Organisations already using AI at scale are performing an average of 11.5% better than those who are not – up from 5% just one year ago
  • Last year 51% of organisations did not have an AI strategy at all, a number which has decreased to 37% of organisations this year.
  • 38% of business leaders want to be leaders in AI innovation – a figure that has more than doubled since last year

Report Findings

How exactly can UK organisations scale their use of AI and secure a competitive edge while, at the same time, doing so in a way that is ethical, responsible and in line with the needs of their employees, partners and customers? Our research explores three key themes that allow organisations/leaders to truly accelerate their competitive advantage through AI enabled solutions.

  1. Moving from Experimentation to Implementation

Of all the business leaders we surveyed, only 8% classified their organisation as Advanced AI users while nearly half (48%) currently remain in the experimentation phase. Thus, over half of all British businesses using AI don’t seem to have an AI strategy at all, mainly because they lack a clear understanding about what AI can do for their business. As the people tasked with setting an organisation’s strategic direction, leaders need to quickly ascertain exactly what role AI can and should play within their organisation and provide adequate training and resources for successful AI implementation. Currently, only 21% of leaders have completed training in how they can use AI in their jobs, and only 21% are sure they can meet staffing needs related to skill changes caused by AI. Overcoming these obstacles will be crucial in enabling UK organisations to implement AI quickly and responsibly across their organisations to stay relevant in the future.

Luckily, advanced AI-organisations recognise this as those that are successfully employing the technology at an organisational level, rather than just a local or departmental one, are much more adept at evaluating the business benefits of AI investments and ensuring they have a clear objective at the outset. They are also more agile in how they operate than those that are experimenting with AI, meaning they are better equipped to respond to customer and employee needs, changes in technologies, or market conditions

  1. Create a Culture of Participation

Ensuring workers have the tools to augment their job roles with AI is critical – The change is as much about culture as it is about technology. It involves a move away from a situation in which only certain people or business functions have the tools to experiment with AI, to a democracy – where everyone has the building blocks to integrate AI into their working day and actively contribute to the development of new solutions, regardless of where they sit in the organisation

Building out your culture to equip your people will be the best competitive asset you have. Our research found AI-advanced businesses lead to stronger democratic practices, as organisations that are more advanced in their use of AI are more likely to:

  • Ensure AI is used responsibly
  • Understand and develop the skills and mindset needed to work with AI
  • Create and implement workforce diversity plans
  1. Make AI work for everyone

By establishing a clear set of developmental standards and operating principles to ensure the technology is deployed ethically, with attention to bias and in a way that actively promotes diversity and inclusion. Our research shows us that firms advanced in AI are better at tackling overall bias, as 77% of advanced organisations say they have the capability to identify bias in their organisation when it is observed (58% experimenting).

Two of the most important criteria here are the ability to accurately identify all ethical issues as they arise and understanding how to respond when they do. Crucially, the more advanced an organisation is in its AI-led digital transformation, the more likely it is to have established the operational logistics to deliver against an ethical criteria.

Take Away: Tips for Scaling AI successfully

  • Treat it as a business change programme – this needs to be something the entire organisation is involved and invested in
  • Make sure everyone is supported in knowing how the technology works – an understands how they can use AI to be more effective in their role
  • Embed a culture of integrity and ethical behaviour – it’s up to leaders to communicate internally and establish a framework for making ethical decisions – companies advanced in their AI implementation know how to operationalise solutions to these problems

Research Methodology

Our research used a mixed-method approach to analyse the current state of AI within the UK in the spring and summer of 2019. Including an in-depth literature review of academic, industry and media sources, subject matter expert interviews and case studies across a variety of academics, professionals and organisations, a social experiment on augmentation. The research also included a survey of 1000 leaders and 4000 employees in organisations with over 500 employees with focus on four industries (finance, retail, manufacturing, and healthcare). From these sources, we developed a set of dimensions as a lens through which to consider the opportunities for AI in the UK today.

More Information

To find out more about this research, click here.

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

Dr Jennifer Barth is an experienced ethnographer and social researcher, with a PHD from the University of Oxford. Her work is informed by empirical research on the intersections of emerging technologies and socioeconomic change. She provides companies with thought leadership and media engagement opportunities on global issues impacting and shaping our current and future socio-cultural lives.

Her current research focuses on the human impact of artificial intelligence (AI) through fieldwork experiments with IBM Watson and other providers, leading Digital Transformation and AI implementation research for Microsoft, Reinventing Loyalty with Adobe, and more. She is skilled at research design, qualitative research and analysis, quantitative analysis, new methods using emerging technologies and working with people to bring to life the stories behind numbers.

Photo by D1_TheOne

James Van Praagh and the Topic of Mediumship

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James Van Praagh and the Topic of Mediumship

James’ Impact on My Life

The day of my mother’s funeral, I woke up and immediately felt pulled to go outside. I looked up and there to greet me was this beautiful rainbow in a clear sky. There had been no rain and I had never seen a rainbow at my mother’s home before this. I was sure that she was telling me that she was fine, even happy, and had safely crossed over into spirit. Mother loved color, nature, and beauty so the rainbow seemed like the perfect way for her to communicate with me. This was very comforting, but I was going completely on my intuition. When my friend gave me James Van Praagh’s first book, Talking to Heaven, I read it like a textbook with my yellow highlighter in hand. I was hungry for this knowledge and soaking up all I could. His book helped me trust what my intuition was telling me. He helped validate my experience. This was brand new information for me. I had not heard anyone else talking about these ideas. James set me on a path of deeper spiritual learning, which has led to my ability to communicate directly with my family members who are in spirit and even to share messages with others from their loved ones. It changed my life in profound and beautiful ways bringing some of the biggest blessings of my life. To be able to help others heal is an amazing blessing. I do the work I do now because James’ book helped me wake up to the unseen world where the amount of wisdom and knowledge is unending.

James Van Praagh is an internationally renowned #1 New York Times bestselling author. He is hailed throughout the world as a pioneer of the mediumship movement, bringing people solace, peace and spiritual insights. He has received many awards for his dedication to raising the consciousness of the planet. James has been on national radio and television, including: OPRAH, DR. PHIL and THE VIEW. You may know him as the creator of CBS’s THE GHOST WHISPERER. He will be returning to my show Thursday, January 9, 2020, and believe me, this is going to be a show you won’t want to miss! (If for no other reason than for the sheer joy of hearing James Van Praagh share his wisdom.)

James appeared on my show September 1, 2016 [CLICK HERE TO LISTEN NOW] where he shared his personal experiences with seeing spirits as a child. This motivated me to say that after my grandmother died, I would talk with her while falling asleep. I didn’t expect James to see my grandmother, but he did. He told me that she was here with us, that she used to sing lullabies to me to help me sleep and that she still does. I was stunned because in that instance I put some experiences together that hadn’t quite made sense. Yes, he clarified why I spoke to her at bedtime, but what James didn’t know was that several years ago I had gone to hear an Israeli singer who sang mostly Yiddish lullabies. Although I don’t understand Yiddish and I had no conscious recollection of any of the lullabies, I cried all the way through the performance. What James said helped me realize that those were the very lullabies that my grandmother had sung to me and the concert triggered deep emotional memories.

I was not expecting this gift, but I am very grateful to James for it. You will also be grateful if you come to Dallas and hear James speak live January 9th through the 11th at CSLDallas, A Center for Spiritual Living. James’ 2016 workshop provided me with very important insights. He helped me further develop my psychic abilities and mediumship abilities, so much so, that I was able to receive a message from my late sister. During my sister’s last days on earth, we were able to heal the wounds from our childhood and express the love we had for each other. Although I had much gratitude for the silver lining of our healing, I was still carrying a sadness that we were not able to sustain a healthy relationship while she was alive. After receiving this message from my sister at James’ workshop, I felt peace that we had completed our healing and were embarking on a new phase in our relationship. If my story of finding peace with the spiritual realm or James Van Praagh’s story speaks to you, and you would like to open yourself up to a similar opportunity, please CLICK HERE to learn more and reserve your spot before they all fill up.

There is More to Being a Medium Than You Think

Any time that I spend with James Van Praagh is a real treat. He is wise, funny and an extremely accurate medium. When he was on my show, I expected the time to be filled with stories about people whose relatives on the other side helped them through the messages they received. It turns out that James believes that being a medium is more about helping others live a life with no regrets, no should haves or could haves. He has learned to live in the moment and wants other people to do the same. He said that he has learned from the dead spirits who talk to him how important it is to forgive others while keeping your boundaries. Sometimes that means ending relationships but without anger, blame or guilt. One of his witty and wise pieces of advice was: always take the high road—there’s less traffic up there. James reminds us that we don’t know what motivates others. This is good to keep in mind when we are working on forgiveness. It allows us to let go of the pain and live life through the eyes of love, not fear. So as you can see, there are many reasons to tune in Thursday, January 9, 2020 at 10 a.m. 😊

My Tip for You

In honor of the topic of this blog, “Mediumship,” I will leave you all with this tip: Trust the Information You Receive. When you are having difficulty making a decision or understanding something: Just before going to sleep, light 13 white candles and write on a piece of paper what you need to know. Your unconscious mind will work on the answers. When you wake up in the morning, you will have the information you need. Trust it and act on it. The more you use this technique, the stronger it will become. I’m sharing this today because this technique will help you grow your intuition and even your ability to communicate with dead relatives or friends. When you light the 13 white candles, you can even ask that a particular friend, relative or spiritual guide visit you in your dreams and answer the question that you write down. The key here is trusting the answers that you get. All too often our logical minds do not want to believe that this is possible because it wants concrete evidence. I’ve learned to find the evidence in the numerous signs that the Universe provides. The more I am able to tune in to those signs, the more magical and awe filled life becomes. The concrete evidence is in the way my experiences and my life evolve.

Remember to Check Out the Dallas Events With James

  • Learn more about James Van Praagh’s events January 9th-11th at CSLDallas, A Center for Spiritual Living: CLICK HERE
  • As always, my past shows can be found on-demand on VoiceAmerica, including the September 1, 2016 show that featured James as my guest: CLICK HERE
  • For more information regarding my executive and life coaching, speaking engagements, upcoming workshops, and other services I offer, as well as my radio show- Uplift Your Life: Nourishment of the Spirit- please visit: CLICK HERE
  • My next workshop, “Discovering Hope and Silver Linings: Set the Energy for 2020,” will be happening Saturday, January 11th at 2 p.m. at the Dallas Meditation Center. For more information as well as registration: CLICK HERE

Dr. Paula, The Life Doctor, has helped hundreds of thousands of people improve their health, wealth and relationships through her writing, coaching, and speaking. Contact her today to get started on your journey. Recently Dr. Paula Joyce, PhD was chosen by Expertise as one of the 16 Best Life Coaches in Dallas.

Wishing you all a very happy New Year with much love, peace, joy, happiness, good health, prosperity, and your dearest wishes coming true.



Dr. Paula Joyce, The Life Doctor

Personal, Business, and Spiritual Transformation Coach


Office Phone- 972.788.2393

To learn more, please visit my website-

To hear more shows from Uplift Your Life: Nourishment of the Spirit- CLICK HERE

Leadership Trends: Lead the Disruption 2020

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The following blog is a republish of an article appearing in Forbes written by Maureen Metcalf. It is a companion to Trends interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on Tuesday, December 31st, 2019, titled Leadership Trends: Lead the Disruption 2020.

To learn more about the 2020 Trends, click here.

During a time of ongoing organizational disruption, I encourage leaders to explore how the rapid change can serve as a pointer and inspiration to help them envision futures that were not possible as recently as last year. Each disruption opens another door to opportunity across a broad range of industries.

This annual trend summary looks at what I think are the most important business drivers to consider over the next three to five years.

  1. Disruption is accelerating. Organizations must continue to monitor trends and disruptions and look for ways to leverage them for strategic advantage. It’s often noted that businesses must recognize the importance of disrupting or get disrupted. The question for organizations and their leaders is how to monitor these trends and create an advantage.

One essential tool is the strategic planning process. This process itself looks different now than it did in the past. It provides a necessary structure for leaders to use as they consider current and potential disruptions. The planning process allows leaders to envision the future and develop a business strategy to turn disruption into business advantage.

  1. Adaptive leadership is required. As companies evolve to respond to disruption, leaders need to elevate the quality of their leadership. The challenges businesses face are adaptive: leaders need to change themselves and their organizations. We are facing problems that we can’t solve with our current thinking. Dr. Ron Heifetz, Harvard, talks about adaptive leadership as a practical leadership framework that helps individuals and organizations adapt to changing environments so they can effectively respond to recurring problems. This research has been considered in the 10 Must-Reads by the Harvard Business Review. I recommend leaders elevate the quality of their leadership rather than build skills.
  2. Organizations need to innovate who they are — and what they offer. Organizations need to build innovation into their DNA. This means they need to get comfortable updating what they do and how they do it to meet evolving strategic goals. In addition to elevating their leadership, leaders must update the overall systems, processes and cultural beliefs that underpin their organizations.

According to Bloomberg (paywall), “Leaders at some of the world’s largest companies said they plan to abandon the long-held view that shareholders’ interests should come first amid growing public discontent over income inequality and the burgeoning cost of health care and higher education.”

This level of change could mean a significant overhaul of how companies operate. Innovation must be a priority to transform organizations. Effective innovation requires creating clear accountability, assigning people, measuring results and allocating financial resources.

Attracting and retaining the right people will become increasingly difficult with changing job requirements and growing skill gaps. According to IBM Institute for Business Value’s Enterprise Guide to Closing the Skills Gap: “Arguably, one of the greatest threats facing organizations today is the talent shortage. Executives recognize the skills gap. They know it’s both real and problematic. But most of their organizations don’t appear to be actively or effectively tackling the issue.”

It goes on to say, “Compounding the issue, new skills requirements continue to emerge, while other skills are becoming obsolete. And it’s all happening quite rapidly.” Organizations must elevate their focus on the impact disruption will have on their workforce. This includes focusing on topics like creating real diversity and inclusion. We can no longer ignore or give minimal effort to the levers that are proven to drive success.

  1. Digital transformation drives and destroys value. Organizations must become more effective at leveraging digital tools. The lines between the physical, digital and biological worlds are becoming more blurred. Many organizations are now using some form of robotic process automation (RPA), business analytics or artificial intelligence.

Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all aspects of a business. It is a trillion-dollar industry, but 70% of all digital transformations fail. The most successful organizations will break the code on implementing these tools effectively and efficiently.

  1. Human resilience remains critical. As organizations accelerate the pace of change, people are often overloaded with current work and transformation work. The people who make change possible hit a point of diminishing performance that impacts their ability to deliver. Employers must provide work environments that maximize employee performance.

One important factor is creating an environment that ensures employees connect the work they do to their values. Even better, when possible, create opportunities for employees who don’t routinely interact with clients/customers to interact and see their impact. Employees also need to own their personal resilience. They can build resilience by ensuring they are taking care of their physical health, engaging in a mindfulness practice that allows them to observe and manage their thinking and building healthy connections inside and outside of work.

  1. Sustainability and the human/planet interface are critical. We continue to see an acceleration in climate volatility, high costs to businesses from weather events, lost biodiversity and environmental damage. According to the Associated Press, July 2019 was the hottest month in recorded history. Many parts of South America are burning in unprecedented forest fires. Glacial melt is accelerating, “Over 30 years, suddenly almost all regions started losing mass at the same time,” said researcher Michael Zemp of the University of Zurich. “That’s climate change if you look at the global picture.”

Addressing this trend will require everyone to act. In 2015, the UN created the Sustainable Development Goals, “the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” They address global challenges, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity and peace and justice. The goals interconnect and are designed to leave no one behind. These goals were signed by 193 countries.

Many organizations are making progress. The World Green Building Council is supporting efforts to convert buildings to energy-efficient standards on a large scale. We see changes like the move toward more local foods across the U.S. and expanding solar power in Nigeria. These actions are a start. I encourage leaders to understand the opportunities created by disruption and envision the possibilities. As we envision the future, we can elevate the quality of our organizations’ leaders.

To learn more about the 2020 Trends, click here.

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

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, is a renowned executive advisor, coach, consultant, author and speaker.


Be a Giver

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Be a Giver


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December   30, 2019
We have the whole world in our hands.

MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN Founder/Executive Director

cyn-xmas hat-treeBeing the Executive Director of a non-profit was not my dream. I never intended to start a charity.

My life was full, fun, and fanciful in the 1990s boasting a happy young family, a beautiful country home, glorious gardens, and a barnyard of rescued animals. As a successful actor, coach, and interior designer, my varied careers fulfilled my creative urges as well as increased my bank balance. Life was beautiful.

Since I was a little girl, volunteering was a part of life. Giving back was ingrained in us and it continued into my adulthood as I worked in my children’s classrooms, spearheaded events for worthy organizations, lead Girl Scouts, 4-H projects, sports activities, and lectured at church.  In my mind, it was other people who founded and created organizations and I had zero interest in becoming one of them.

Then my beloved Dad was diagnosed with a rare incurable cancer.  He was given three weeks to live and I became his champion to save his life, scouring the world for treatment in days before the internet. With excellent medical intervention and his positive attitude, our family enjoyed his earthly company for three additional years. When I asked him on his deathbed if there was anything more I could do for him, he smiled widely to exclaim, “I am dying a happy man. I married the woman I loved, we were blessed with five great children, and I worked in a profession that was my passion. I have lived my dreams.”

Something clicked inside me at that moment. My epiphany screamed pay it forward. My Daddy was a not a college-educated man, nor was he president of anything. He read books and did on the job training to learn what he needed as a farmer and a volunteer firefighter.  Dad was my hero, a man of his word, a pillar of strength, a person who helped everyone. Daddy was a giver. Although he was dying young, he felt that he had lived a life of purpose because he had loved, been loved, and fed people through his daily work.

It took many starts, stops, detours, and U-turns, but by 1999 I did pay it forward by establishing a charity, becoming a non-profit Founder and Executive Director. Be the Star You Are!®was created from my heart to empower those who needed it most—women, families, and kids.

It’s been a struggle to keep the vision alive. Thank goodness I didn’t have a crystal ball to see the many hurdles or I would never have started on this journey. Yet, now, working with teens and young adults, witnessing the slow yet steady progress to improve lives, I realize that this is the path I am meant to travel. Like my Daddy, I am a giver.

As I scroll through the hundreds of pages of volunteer sheets each filled with over a hundred names and positions, I am grateful for the experiences and the people who have grown with Be the Star You Are!® . We have planted pride, grown leaders, and reaped readers.

There comes an hour in all of our lives when we get turned upside down, meet disaster, sadness, loss, or regret face to face.  This is the opportunity to step up, put a smile on our faces, and make a difference.  Life offers choices. We can become bitter or we can become better. Better is best.

My Dad died many years ago in December. I miss my Dad and still hear his cheerful encouraging voice in my mind. His mentoring taught me how to live in the moment to recreate dreams, live with passion, welcome the possibilities, and see the potential in our world. His example showed me that I am enough and that each of us is unique with a special gift to share with our neighbors.

As 2019 ends and 2020 commences, I take this opportunity to thank you for being part of our collaborative community. Be the Star You Are!® volunteers are leading the way with empowerment, educational, communication, and literacy efforts that help others have a happily ever after. If you have the resources and believe in our mission, I encourage you to make a year-end tax-deductible donation, or better yet, sign up to donate regularly. You can donate via PAYPAL Giving Fund with no fees or send checks to BTSYA, PO Box 376, Moraga, California, 94556.

As we complete our first four months in our 21st year of being an all-volunteer charity with no paid staff, with your help,BTSYA will be able continue to make a difference in the years ahead for those in need. We must be doing something right to be around this long! Thank you for believing in our work to increase literacy and positive media messages.

Remember to shine brightly and smile widely. Be the star you were born to be. You can live your dreams.

Wishing you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Be a Giver! It will make you happy. 🙂

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556




2019-platinum-seal-guidestarBefore you donate this holiday season or anytime, it is always a great idea to make sure the charities that are asking for your dollars are legitimate. You want to be generous but you don’t want to be scammed. Here are a few tips to help you navigate.

  1. Locate your states charity regulator at
  2. To ascertain that your donation is tax-deductible, a charity must qualify as a 501 c 3 organization. Look up eligibility at,
  3. Visit Great Non-Profits and read reviews. Be the Star You Are!® consistently receives 5 STAR reviews.
  4. Check the watchdog of non-profits at GUIDESTAR: Search for your non-profit. Non-profits are rated as bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Be the Star You Are!® receives a platinum rating.:
  5. Go directly to the charity website and read about the mission and outreach programs. This will help you identify any bogus charities that are approaching you with a similar name.
  6. Don’t donate over the phone or through people you don’t know. Some solicitations made over the phone or on the internet could be scams.
  7. Be the Star You Are!® has been working faithfully to help those in need since 1999. Don’t be a scrooge and donate now either directly via or Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:


by Karen Kitchell

I believe gifts are meant to be tokens of appreciation or recognition of the role someone plays in our life. We can’t dictate what the receiver does with our gift, though we can enjoy knowing we have given our time and thought into choosing a meaningful gift. Instead of waiting to see or hear how very much someone likes what we have given, we can remind ourselves that we are a giver. And the world loves givers! It’s also important to remember that gifts can come from unexpected places and are not always things.

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

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The Snowman * A Holiday Classic Unlike Any Other!

Posted by presspass on
The Snowman * A Holiday Classic Unlike Any Other!

One crisp, winter morning, a young boy wakes up to find a thick blanket of snow has covered the ground as far as the eye can see. Filled with excitement, the boy decides to build a snowman using a tangerine for his nose, coal for his buttons and eyes, and tops him off with a hat and scarf. Later that night, at the stroke of midnight, the snowman comes to life! The young boy and the snowman embark on a magical adventure of discovery where the snowman explores the young boy’s world and in return he takes him flying to his home in the North Pole. Upon arriving at the North Pole, the two join a party as the guests of honor to a very special person. Based on Raymond Briggs book, The Snowman is a family classic for generations to enjoy. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Clayton P. comments, “…directed by Dianne Jackson and produced by John Coates. This extravagant film has a little touch of magic which will keep you on your toes with excitement.” Eden T. adds, “This heartwarming film about the winter season never ceases to amaze me. It reminds me of myself during the holidays.” Morgan B. wraps it up with, “I love that this film has no words is both beautifully illustrated with animated images. The orchestra for the original film is Sinfonia of London. Their performance is stunning.” See their full reviews below.


The Snowman

By Clayton P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17


The Snowman is a masterpiece that will bring families closer together for the holidays. The film is based on the classic UK picture book by Raymond Briggs, which has sold more than 8.5 million copies since it was first published in 1978.In The Snowman, a young boy James wakes up one morning and finds snow on the ground. He quickly gets dressed and runs outside. He then builds a huge snowman. He gives it eyes, a nose, a scarf and a hat. He even gives it a big smiley face. After building the entire snowman by himself, it is time for James to go to bed. When he wakes up he notices that the Snowman has moved a little, so he runs downstairs and out the door. He then notices that the Snowman is glowing, moves some more and then, totally comes to life. James is flabbergasted to see a live Snowman. The Snowman and James introduce themselves and become great friends. The rest the film shows the two flying around having so much fun and adventure throughout the day.


The Snowman book was adapted for the screen in 1982 and earned a nomination for an Academy Award for best animated short film.  The animation of the drawings is just amazing, bringing to life so many memories from the days of movie shorts. There is no dialogue, which makes it even more beautiful and somewhat old-fashioned.  The music by Howard Blake, Peter Auty and the Sinfonia of London is amazing. It fits perfectly with everything the boy and the snowman are doing.  Each song tells a story, with each pluck of a string or push of a piano key. The songs in the movie are catchy and addicting to sing along with.  I am sixteen and I sung along with the songs!

The Snowman is directed by Dianne Jackson and produced by John Coates. This extravagant film has a little touch of magic which will keep you on your toes with excitement. I recommend this for ages 1 to 12 and give it 5 out of 5 stars.


The Snowman

By Eden T., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11



This heartwarming film about the winter season never ceases to amaze me. It reminds me of myself during the holidays. For example, when the boy has to scrounge up snow for his snowman, I thought about when I tried to do the same thing!In the film, a young British boy in a classic 1950s English rural home builds a snowman on Christmas Eve. At midnight, the snowman comes to life and takes the boy on a flying trip around the world! The scenes become grander and grander until you think nothing more can happen! After all of this is over, they travel back home. The next morning, the boy…well, you’ll see. The ending brought meaningful tears to my eyes!

The detail in this movie is stunning! Even though there is no talking, the artistry makes up for that. Each scene is hand-drawn, which must have been a technical pain for the scenes in motion! These movies are based on Raymond Briggs’ classic picture book.  Besides young children, adults who have read this book in their youth will also appreciate this quality film. The unexpected ending is truly memorable!

I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 2 to 6, as well as adults. This movie is available both on DVD now so check it out. Enjoy this winter delight!


The Snowman

By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14



Holiday movies are one of my favorite forms of entertainment. Especially those that have adorable characters and a heartwarming tale. That is what this short film is all about. Add magnificent hand drawn animation and you have the perfect Christmas movie.I love that this film has no words is both beautifully illustrated with animated images. The orchestra for the original film is Sinfonia of London. Their performance is stunning. Each piece of music fits the scene perfectly because it made me feel as if I was in the scene myself. Also the music is superb to relax to. So grab a hot cup of cocoa and put your feet up.


The images in this film are hand drawn with pastels and pencils, which make it special and unique. I like having a break from all the CGI we see and seeing animation as it was made years ago. This is something that many other kids will appreciate as well. This movie never gets old and people from all over the world will absolutely adore it. This DVD has become one I have added to my holiday collection and will watch it every year. Even really young children can watch it because it is so beautiful and the message is all about friendship, love, cheer and what the holidays are all about. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 golden stars and recommend

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