The Wisdom Keepers

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The Wisdom Keepers


What is aging and ageism?

Ageism is defined as prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. Aging is the process of growing old. The word “old” in the definition of aging creates an attitude and predisposes a prejudice towards older people.

Declining years is a misnomer. Age does not decline, it progresses, it advances. We are progressing from the moment we are born; starting an uphill climb from  the lowest levels thereby progressing onward and upward.

The very phrase ‘declining years’ sets up a way of thinking. It would be more appropriate to say we are continuing on the path of life’s journey and are in advancing years. A person’s health, physical or cognitive ability may decline, but they continue to advance in years. The expression “over the hill” contributes to the idea of a person being in their declining years. Do we reach our peak at some predetermined age and continue a downward descent from that point? Who determines the peak of the hill?  When do the declining years begin? Is it some arbitrary number; 60’s; 70’s; 80’s? Who determines that number? Is it the same for everyone?

Jared Diamond, UCLA professor of geography and physiology. stated that “the repositories of knowledge are the memories of old people”. In fact, Native Americans have been known to refer to their elders as “wisdom keepers” This was especially true in a pre-illiterate society. Though we are far from a pre-illiterate society the availability of search engines allows us to have vast amounts of knowledge both on demand and at our fingertips. But the richness of the experience comes from a person who has lived many years enduring many of life’s hardships and circumstances. Consider the example of the young brilliant character played by Matt Damon in the movie “Good Will Hunting” He is able to recite poetry, sonnets and brilliant passages from the great classics. The mature psychotherapist played by Robin Williams tells him that the words he’s reciting have no meaning because, without living life, without the experiences, the words are empty. He has no reference point, no understanding of what it feels like to have those experiences and therefore, cannot begin to understand the true meaning of those words.

We don’t realize that the attitudes about older people is deeply rooted in our verbiage and our culture. Questions on applications such as: “how old are you?” continually reinforces attitudes towards the word “old” When someone asks about your age you may say I’m ___yearsold.There is at least one language with which I’m acquainted in which the question posed seems more appropriate. The question in Spanish” Quantos anos tienes usted” ‘how many years to you have?” are completely neutral They carry with them no connotation other than the years you have acquired.

Wine becomes finer as it ages…it becomes more robust as the flavors ripen and have a chance to mature. We as people are equally deserving of similar adjectives.

Consider these paradoxical scenarios. The high school or college student who reaches his/her senior year is considered to have achieved a level of accomplishment. Yet, we do not ascribe reaching an advanced age with that same level of accomplishment. We exalt longevity and mourn premature loss. But somehow there is a contradiction in our attitudes, care and the treatment we provide our elders when achieve longevity.

How many have remarked to someone or have been told, “You look good for your age?” I know I have and until recently always thought it a compliment. But what does that imply? What is the expectations in looks or behavior at any age? For that matter, what about the phrase that a person has not aged well? Does that expression imply the person who looks in a way that one WOULD expect for a particular age is somehow to blame? What is the expectation of how you should look, what you should do or be, or what you are are capable of doing or being, at any age?

American culture is a discarding culture. When a car begins to break down after it has accumulated many miles we discard it.  But that is a thing, and we are people. It appears that because an older person may no longer be contributing to the work force, they have outlived their usefulness and therefore are no longer needed. This phenomenon leads to lack of dignity and respect, poor treatment and quality of care for our elders. We should not be discarding those among us who have worked for and built this country in whatever way or to whatever degree. Many among us have sacrificed their lives and personal safety in jobs or war for our country. And, indeed, they gave birth to the next generation, none of us would be here if not for them. Why do they now not matter?

This is not about us or them. For after all, we are talking about our future selves. What do we expect and want for ourselves in our advancing years?


“The Voice for Eldercare Advocacy”











The Day Henry Met: Season Two – Explore Life and Friendship. Be Curious. Learn from Others!

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The Day Henry Met: Season Two – Explore Life and Friendship. Be Curious. Learn from Others!

Every day Henry meets something new! I wonder what Henry’s going to meet today? Henry is a 4-year-old boy who always wants to learn and find out more. In each episode, Henry has a friendly chat with whatever he meets and discovers something new…”Hello, Caterpillar. How do you turn into a butterfly?”  “Hello, Bear. What is hibernation?” “Hello, Telescope. What is a constellation?” No matter what Henry meets, they’re always delighted to talk, laugh and share their amazing world with him. After finding out so many amazing things about his new friends, Henry lets his imagination run wild and imagines himself. As a Paleontologist discovering dinosaurs. As a skateboarder learning how to jump, flip and grind. As a show jumper to help a horse win a top prize. As a teacher learning all about school. As a detective solving cases. And more! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “Henry is an inquisitive and playful little boy who loves to learn!  Every day he meets new friends, whether they are a human, animal or an object, they are all of interest to him.”  Ethan P. adds, “I like this DVD because the music is very catchy and the episodes are short and entertaining… The moral of these episodes is not let people, well in this case things, underestimate your abilities to do something you want to do or be.  Henry is always positive; he can do whatever his imagination tells him to do.” Siaki S. wraps it up with, “I like this DVD and it reminds me to be more like Henry – be creative, active and enjoy the moment that is given to us. Henry reminds us to never give up and that is true in life.” See their full reviews below.


The Day Henry Met: Season Two

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11




Henry is an inquisitive and playful little boy who loves to learn!  Every day he meets new friends, whether they are a human, animal or an object, they are all of interest to him.  The Day Henry Met DVD has 26 episodes to inspire curiosity.  Who or what will Henry meet next?


My favorite episode is The Day Henry Met… A Dinosaur Bone as I love the museum setting and the fact that he travels back in time.  This episode is both educational and fun.  There are so many good moments in this series including The Day Henry Met… a Violin, a Tennis Racquet and an Ice Cream Van.  Can’t forget The Day Henry MetA Comic BookSuper Henry appears to make the city safe and happy.  Love all the fun characters and situations in this episode.


The voices in this series reflect all of the diverse characters that Henry meets and really bring the characters to life.  This series, directed by Gary Gill, is playful and will appeal to younger children.  The illustrations are reflective of children’s drawings and are quite appealing.  It is so imaginative that it makes you view the world around you in a different light as Henry talks to whomever or whatever he meets each day.


The message of this series is to explore life, friendship, be curious and learn from those around you.  There is something to learn in every situation, even if you are with a dustbin or a sponge!


I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8.  Reviewed by Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more reviews by youth, visit kidsfirst dot org.


The Day Henry Met; Season 2
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 10



I like this DVD because the music is very catchy and the episodes are short and entertaining. The Day Henry Met; Season Two has 26 episodes of cute little stories.


The storyline is about a 4-year-old, red-head boy named Henry, who has a big imagination.  In every episode Henry meets something new.  He talks to different objects, animals or things.  Once Henry interacts with the objects such as a violin, a skateboard, a camera, a horse or a bear, these things or animals make Henry’s imagination go wild.  For example, Henry imagines such things as being a conductor or a detective.  Henry also wants to learn and find out more about the objects he interacts with.  At the end of each episode, Henry’s mom calls him and Henry’s imagination ends by him saying goodbye to the objects he was talking to.


The animation style of this DVD is simple and plain, looking as if it is hand drawn. Basically, all the objects have eyes and a mouth, including the house.  What caught my attention is that Henry has a voice like a 12-year-old.  He sounds much older than a little kid.  I like how friendly his chats are with the different animals and objects.  The episodes are so short that I didn’t lose interest while watching them.  My favorite episode is “The Day Henry Met A Dustbin” because, out of all the episodes, this particular one is the most realistic one for my age.  Henry wants to be a garbage man so he can help his trash can and all the other trash cans in his neighborhood to be emptied, because the garbage man who had that route is sick and cannot pick up the trash that day.


The moral of these episodes is not let people, well in this case things, underestimate your abilities to do something you want to do or be.  Henry is always positive; he can do whatever his imagination tells him to do.


I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8, but adults can watch it with their kids and might find it interesting.  This DVD is available now, so look for it.


The Day Henry Met Season 2

By Siaki S., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 16



This series of episodes is definitely full of laughs and fun to watch, which I didn’t expect it to be. It took me by surprise.  This DVD is definitely colorful, entertaining and a big “yes” to capture younger kids’ attention spans quickly. The show is produced and directed by Susan Broe and Gary Gill who are definitely tuned into the younger audience.


This story follows a little 4-year-old boy, Henry, who is eager and excited about life and learning new things. He’s always discovering interesting facts and tactics in every episode. One of my favorite episodes is called “Running Shoes,” because Henry becomes an athlete, as well as an opponent to the running shoes, to help the running shoes compete against himself in the 100 meter dash and finish the competition. Although the shoes are just a pair of shoes, he wants to give the shoes meaning. As Henry is inches away from winning, he scurries over to the running shoes to put them on and finish the race.


I like this DVD and it reminds me to be more like Henry – be creative, active and enjoy the moment that is given to us. Henry reminds us to never give up and that is true in life.


I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 10, as well as adults. Adults will enjoy it all the messages that remind us to be better and always try harder – to be just like Henry in many different ways. This DVD is available now, so look for it.




Can you pick up the pieces

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Can you pick up the pieces


The story is too familiar. You are involved in a long term relationship or marriage. It usually starts out wonderful, full of joy and excitement as you pursue your hopes and dreams. You are ready to take on the world together. Then life happens. Stress at work; money issues; children’s needs; losing a job; issues with in-laws; health concerns. The list goes on and on. The feelings of joy starts to fade. You didn’t sign up for this! You stop communicating with each other, I mean really communicating and connecting, not just talking at each other. The relationship and your life become a grind. You start going through the motions.

You start to think, there has to be a better way. Chances are your partner feels the same. One of you finds a kindred spirit, a friend, an associate, someone with whom you can share your frustrations. You tell yourself, it is nothing serious we’re just talking. The more you talk and share with your kindred spirit, the less you share with your partner. Sooner or later you cross the line. You are hoping to make things better, but they are about to become worse. Heart break, separation, betrayal, divorce.

Since my book When the Wife Cheats was released, I have spoken to dozens of men and women whose resolution is simply to “move on” from betrayal. This one is not so easy. Betrayal comes in many forms. We have all been betrayed by a friend or co-worker or a trusted employee. Although these betrayals hurt, we are able to move on fairly quickly. However, it is not so easy when the betrayal is your spouse or life partner. I wish I had the answer—I don’t. I can only share what has helped me.

Whether you want to or not, you cannot escape the grief process (shock, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, and acceptance). I know because I tried. Unfortunately, these stages don’t always go in order. I still find myself going back and forth between them. It’s OK. This process is not an exact science. Spousal betrayal is made more difficult because your heart isn’t just broken, often it is shattered. There is usually a set time to fix a break. A broken bone may heal in six to eight weeks. A shattered bone or heart has no fixed time to heal. It is going to take far more time than you expect. Give yourself time.

Before you can pick up the pieces and start moving forward you have to forgive yourself. Let me say that again; forgive yourself. You weren’t the worst husband or wife ever. While you may have done the best you could to make your marriage work, it didn’t work. You cannot make someone else happy or make them love you if they don’t. You may never forgive your spouse—that’s OK—but forgive yourself.

I used this quote in When the Wife Cheats. It helped me. I hope it helps you.

“There comes a point in your life when you realize: who matters, who never did, who won’t anymore and who always will…so don’t worry about people from your past; there is a reason they didn’t make it to your future.”

Now I know this is far easier said that done. You are going to find yourself in the depths of depression and sorrow; when you don’t believe you have the strength to even get out of bed; when you have no idea how you are going to survive the next hour—let alone raise your children. Believe me, you will have ALL of these feelings. When you feel completely overwhelmed, remember this: Look up… Get up… And never ever give up.

You will recover in time. When you are ready, pick up the pieces and start moving forward. There is nothing new to see in the past, so don’t look behind you; you’re not going that way. Even in your hardest day move forward. Better times and better people will come into your life.

This DVD features the incredibly talented and funny Martin Short as the voice of the Cat in the Hat

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This DVD features the incredibly talented and funny Martin Short as the voice of the Cat in the Hat

The illustrations and animation are what you would expect from the Cat in the Hat’s world and I especially enjoyed the fantastical wilderness scenes. ” Morgan B. comments, “I absolutely love all the different things I learned about from this DVD! The animation is spot on in this show which brings out a lot of cool stuff.” Alejandra G. adds, “ This series is very enjoyable for kids to watch. The plot is well designed for kids to understand and relate to the stories.” Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror adds, “What a great DVD to get you in the mood for the upcoming summer vacation! I’m a big fan of the Cat in the Hat and his shenanigans. This one does not disappoint!” See their full reviews below.


The Cat in The Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Selene Weiss, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11



Looking for adventure this summer?  Look no further than the new DVD The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!  Join The Cat in the Hat, Nick, Sally and Fish on their trip to Fish’s family reunion.  Along the way they are joined by the Little Cats as well as an appearance by Thing 1 and Thing 2!  Plenty of trouble ahead for this group.


On the way to Fish’s family reunion his fancy new fishbowl starts to leak.  The Cat in the Hat tries to fix this problem for his friend and as usual lands the group in more trouble.  The “thingamajig” heads to a crash landing and Thing 1 and Thing 2 appear to help their friends.  The group starts on a wilderness trek to help Fish make his way to his family when they discover the joys of nature.


This DVD features the incredibly talented and funny Martin Short as the voice of the Cat in the Hat!  The illustrations and animation are what you would expect from the Cat in the Hat’s world and I especially enjoyed the fantastical wilderness scenes.  The river scenes in particular are my favorite animation on this journey.


The message of this adventure is to enjoy the great outdoors and don’t get lost in your screen-time.  Interacting with people, things and the world around you is more important than viewing life on a screen.  The Little Cats learn this lesson several times on this DVD.


I rate this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 12.  The DVD is available now so look for it.


The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 10



I like this DVD because it is very entertaining and useful.  The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping has a duration of one hour and you can watch it in English or Spanish.


This DVD is about two kids named Nick and Sally pretending to camp in their backyard on their first day of summer vacation.  The Cat in the Hat (Martin Short) comes to visit them with his friend Fish who has a family reunion at the time.  The Cat in the Hat tellls Nick and Sally that he is going to set up a camp at Fish’s family reunion.  Nick and Sally are very excited because they really are going camping. The Cat in the Hat takes his hat off and his three little cousins come out of the hat, Little Cat A, Little Cat B and little Cat C.  During their journey to Fish’s family reunion, The Cat in the Hat teaches the kids and the little cousins a lot about nature, insects and the beautiful landscape, with the help of a special electronic device.  Meanwhile, Fish is worried about his special suit not getting ruined during their journey to the reunion and his fancy fish bowl not getting muddy (so he can show it off to his family).  Unfortunately, this trip is not going the way Fish wanted to go.


The animation on this DVD is the same as other Cat in the Hat movies.  The songs are catchy and pleasant to listen to.  The show features Martin Short, from The Three Amigos, as the voice of the Cat in the Hat.  My favorite scene is when the Cat in the Hat, Fish, Nick and Sally are flying in the air in the Thingamajigger singing “Go, go, go, go on an adventure.”


The moral of this show is “no matter how you dress, how look, or what you have, your family will  love you for who you are.”  Family doesn’t care about your appearance or your possessions.


I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 8.  Adults can watch this with their kids and might even learn some tips about camping. The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping! is available now, so you can enjoy it as much as I did.


The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Alejandra G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15


To start off, this DVD impacts children in a positive way with its great vocabulary and important lessons that are taught in each episode. This series is very enjoyable for kids to watch. The plot is well designed for kids to understand and relate to the stories. I can understand why kids are attracted to it. The way the show is made, with all the colorful objects and cute plots draw the kids in quite easily and, in that moment, their life seems interesting.


All the episodes on this DVD have different stories and plots, but the format and the meaning is pretty much the same. All the adventures are different, but every one teaches the lesson that you can play and have fun in nature enjoying the most awesome sights. You can have a great time without damaging the environment yet, you still need to respect and take care of it. Along with that, the viewer experiences some great adventures that are unforgettable.


My favorite scene is at the end of one episode when The Cat in the Hat, Nick, Sally, Fish and all his family gather together in one musical finale extravaganza where they are all celebrated as true adventurers. I like this scene because it is very creative, has great songs and the little musical finale is so well organized. It definitely gets children’s attention since it really stands out. <p>The important message gleaned from these episodes is that people and children can have fun without electronic devices. This DVD teaches kids about the wonder in nature. It shows how phones, computers and other electronic devices are not more fascinating than the activities you can do in nature. It shows you how to share quality time with the people you love and learn about your surroundings.  This DVD is available now so, go check it out. It’s just in time for summer vacation.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Camping!
By Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Juror

What a great DVD to get you in the mood for the upcoming summer vacation! I’m a big fan of the Cat in the Hat and his shenanigans. This one does not disappoint! It’s entertaining for the whole family and children, ages 3 to 9 will love it! I like that all the characters such as the Fish are included in this fun outdoor adventure. It also has a great story line from the beginning to end and it’s just so fun to watch. I found myself laughing out loud more than a few times. I also like that it is rather original and the animation and soundtrack are great. I give this 5 out of 5 stars and think that the adults will also enjoy watching this one with their young children. This is available now, be sure to go check it out.


Changing the Odds

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Changing the Odds

As someone who interacts directly with over 50 Angel and Private Investors I am going to share some information with you.

INC magazine reported than one in five Americans would like to own a business. That is 2nd only to home ownership, as part of the American dream. However, more times than not, this dream of owning a business becomes a nightmare.

This is from Forbes magazine – 50% to 60% of small businesses fail within three years. 80% fail with 5 years. 70% of SBA loan applications are rejected.

What is going on here? Obviously, something is seriously wrong with the process of preparing entrepreneur’s. But how can that be when there are dozens and dozens of organizations, be they, Government, nonprofit, or for profit that have classes or seminars or webinars whose intent is to assist business owners through this very process.

So you would think that with all these programs and organizations designed to help, the odds of success would be better. They’re not.  We meet with so many people, who attended these programs and leave less than satisfied. The three statements we hear most often are:

  1. Most of the presenters have never started or owned a business
  2. They present theory not reality
  3. They provide very basic information on WHAT to do, but little to nothing about HOW and WHY to do it

The bottom line is – Far too many small business owners are not adequately prepared to navigate the land mines of becoming a business owner.

If you made it past the five year mark – congratulations! You have beaten the odds. You achieved some degree of success. What did it take?  More than likely you have been working 80+ hours a week; are juggling every crisis alone; have missed far too many family dinners and some of your children’s events just trying to survive. Not thrive, just survive.

Now if you were like me, you might think, Wow, I made it to 5 years, I can finally take a breath & relax.   Well not so fast, nothing stays stagnant in business.

If you made it to 5 years, you are about to enter yet another unknown area.  You are or will be soon in a position where you have to grow or expand or merge or scale, or sell or acquire. Regardless, you are going to need capital again. Now what? More bad news, reports that 50% of businesses fail after 5 years and 70% fail after 10.

Why is there so much failure? It’s not that the ideas were terrible or the owner was not capable. It is quite the contrary. The real problem is you don’t know what you don’t know, and you don’t know where to go to find out what you don’t know.

So what do you do? You talk to friend who knows a guy; or your CPA or lawyer or banker. If you’re lucky, they will be supportive but it’s not their business on the line – it’s yours.

Did you ever talk to your banker or CPA when you were at a cross road? I did turn-arounds of failing companies for over 15 years. I had more of these conversations than I cared to have. The conversation went like this: they nodded at the appropriate places, but when I looked in their eyes, they weren’t engaged. They were thinking, “Oh no, if this thing fails, we have a huge loan out to this guy”; or “We are going to have to raise the interest on his credit line.”

Their primary concern when you are facing a cross road is what happens to them, not you.

Too often when we reach a cross road, we tend to wait to make a decision. We say to ourselves, “I need more data, or “I need to see next month’s report.” As we wait the situation goes from concern to crisis, then crisis to panic. What happens in panic mode?  We either make no decision or a poor decision.

We flounder around hoping to catch lightening in a bottle. Other than Megan Markel, how often does than happen?

As I mentioned, I did turn-arounds of failing companies for several years. These were companies who had some degree of success. All had made it past five years, some past ten. Then they had reached a cross road they had not and were not prepared to address. They found themselves in crisis mode. Far too often this is when they call for help.

Of all the companies I worked with, here is what I found in every case.

  1. They admitted in hindsight they should have bitten the bullet early in the process and engaged with an organization that could have helped them avoid the land mines they stepped on.
  2. They had convinced themselves that they didn’t have the time or the money to bring in help, BUT they would have time as soon as they finished this one last project. Then another last project. You know the story.
  3. While they didn’t have the time of the money to work with someone who has been there and done that, they did have the time and money to hire a fitness trainer or a life coach, or go to three more conferences.

Something must change or this pattern of failure will get worse. So what are you going to do? Consider this!

My associates and I have all started, and successfully operated businesses for decades. We have since sold our companies and are now sharing our 130 years of combined business knowledge and experience. We have developed a four step plan, called “Changing the Odds.” Where we work directly with business owners to guide them through the process of defining, creating, and most important, sustaining a successful business.

Now, you should be saying, “Yeah, yeah Frank, why is this different from the other programs?”

First and foremost we have been there and done that. We know what it takes to successfully run businesses in the real world. Second this is not a class. We don’t present theory and give you reams of paper and send you on your way. We work directly with you through all four steps.

What are the four steps?

  1. Strategic Direction – We help you define WHY you want to start this business and if you are already in business why do you want to take this next step– what value does it provide.
  2. We create a business plan and multiple contingencies. Because no matter what the rules are today – they are going to change.
  3. Branding/Marketing/Positioning – We build you a marketing program, not a campaign, a program, which will differentiate you from the herd.
  4. Fiscal/Financial – We prepare a detailed investor strategy which works for the business and our investor. If we secure funding we stay with you to implement the plan. This will give you the greatest chance for success.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all know, insanity is continuing to do the same old tired processes and expect a different result.  Regardless of where you are in your journey, do yourself a favor and work directly with people who have been there and done that before you put your company and life savings at risk.

Let me leave you with this, the secret to walking on water is to know where the rocks are. We can show you where the rocks are. Call me, let’s talk, I’ll help you.

Plan a Picnic or Pool Party

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Plan a Picnic or Pool Party

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“There are few things so pleasant as a picnic eaten in perfect comfort.”  W. Somerset Maugham

Perhaps because I practiced interior design as a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers (A.S.I.D.) for twenty-five years, or perhaps because my gardener mother always created gorgeous, casual, and delicious summer gatherings, my style of summer outdoor entertaining has always included color, surprises, and fun.  With the lovely warm weather, whether it’s throwing a blanket on the deck for an impromptu picnic or setting a stunning table for a themed get-together, dining alfresco is my preferred approach to feeding my guests.  

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My cues arrive in collaboration between my interior and exterior spaces. Since I designed my garden to be an extension of my home, the outdoor eating areas complement the kitchen creating an inviting flow from my interior décor to the garden rooms. Creating this sense of serenity and continuity is as significant to the outside of the home as it is to the inside. Before I plan my menu or my decorations, I meander around my garden spaces, investigating what flowers will be blooming during the fete and what fruits and vegetables will be ready for harvesting. I want to know what scents, textures, lighting, and colors will be on display on that particular day or evening. Once I’ve taken a few photos and made notes, the party planning begins.

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The goal is to always serve a menu filled with fresh, homegrown ingredients that honor the colors of the rainbow. Whatever is ripe in my garden at the moment will star in the meal. If I didn’t grow it, I’ll purchase what’s in season from a local fruit stand or Farmer’s Market.  Tomatoes, beets, arugula, carrots, peppers, eggplant, corn, cucumbers, watermelon, peaches, nectarines, tangerines, apricots, cherries, apples, and eggs are a few of my normal staples that will inspire not only the carte du jour, but my tablecloths, floral arrangements, and tableware. 

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If it’s a pool party, sturdy yet pretty shimmery plastic ware is essential as bringing glass near a swimming area is a major no-no. Making sure the lounge chairs have fluffy beach towels, the fountains are spouting or gurgling, and the planters are filled with colorful combinations of annuals are part of designing an inviting setting that encourages the guests to grab a drink, relax, and inhale the fresh air. 

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For a picnic on the lawn, experiment with an edible arrangement of herbs that can flavor the picnic fare served on paper plates. Basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, sage, lovage, calendula, and nasturtium are starters. Setting up a game of croquet offers a sense of play and recreation.

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For a more formal party, covering chairs with a gauzy material and fashioning a more extravagant centerpiece with roses or peonies adds elegance to the occasion. Besides serving wine, beer, or other beverages consider crafting an original cocktail to get the festivities rolling.

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Here’s a refreshing summer garden cocktail that I concocted for a girlfriend’s birthday that is both luscious and appealing. Measure according to your liking.

Summer Garden Cocktail (or Mocktail)

  • ϖ Muddle together watermelon and mint leaves. 
  • ϖ Add the juice of Meyer lemons and limes. 
  • ϖ Stir in a spoonful of honey. 
  • ϖ Pour into a pitcher with equal parts sparkling water and ginger ale. 
  • ϖ Add tequila or your favorite alcohol. (Eliminate the alcohol for a mocktail)
  • ϖ Stir and pour over crushed ice into glasses rimmed with salt.
  • ϖ Garnish with a spring of mint and piece of melon.Special patio party coctail.jpg

Don’t forget the kids! Make mocktails. When the three or four generations of our extended family gather, the little ones get excited shouting “picnic party, picnic party”.  We’ll paint faces, run around blowing bubbles, climb through nylon tunnels, splash in the pool, and dance to silly songs. A big mat or cloth is spread on the grass or the deck with platters of finger foods. The kids happily dive in for the feast. 

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String lights, candles in jars, patio heaters, and your favorite tunes all add to the comfort and contentment. Nothing is ever perfect. There will be spills, breaks, trampled flowers, bug bites, and burnt barbecue.  But that’s the splendor and unpredictability of partying in the garden.  As Erasmus said, “No party is any fun unless seasoned with folly.” 

Enjoy the dazzling days and easy evenings of summer with a picnic or pool party. Kick- off your shoes, slather on the sunscreen, don your sunglasses, and chill out. Summer is a time to slow down to appreciate being outside surrounded by nature. 

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for August

STAY hydrated. Drink lots of water, don’t do garden chores in the extreme heat, and keep sports drinks on hand.

BE fire safe. Read how to landscape your garden to be more fire-resistant.

STAKE gladiolus as they tend to be top-heavy and fall over.


DEADHEAD roses and other perennials to keep the blooms coming

CLEAN pruning shears with alcohol after each use.

CONTINUE weeding. Make sure to cut any dry, tall grass.

HARVEST fruit and vegetables in the morning for best flavor and nutrition. A few of the fruits and vegetables that are currently ripe are plums, peaches, apples, melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, beans, corn, carrots, and zucchini.

PICK up any fruit that has fallen on the ground to prevent rodents, raccoons, turkeys, and other critters from invading your garden.

ENCOURAGE herb growth by pinching the tips. Use the cuttings in your recipes.

MULCH your garden to retain moisture and keep roots cool. Do not use gorilla hair as it is highly flammable. Keep all mulches moist.

SOW seeds of brassicas including cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi for an autumn harvest.

PLAN now for autumn planting.

WATER plantings in containers daily if needed. The heat dries out pots quickly.

ORDER spring-flowering bulbs from catalogs including tulips, Dutch iris, daffodils, woodland hyacinths, and whatever else grabs your attention.

PLAN a picnic party. Re-live your summer camp frolics. Casual or upscale, the fun begins outdoors.

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Read more and view photos at

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing! 

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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 Radio show and order her books at

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Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at 

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

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Spotlight on Radio Host & Author, Cynthia Brian Donating Books for Disaster Relief

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Spotlight on Radio Host & Author, Cynthia Brian Donating Books for Disaster Relief

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IBPA Member Spotlight: Cynthia Brian


Be the Star You Are!® (BTSYA) was not originally created to donate to disaster relief,” explains IBPA member and author-publisher Cynthia Brian. “It was founded as a literacy and positive media message charity to empower women, families, and youth by donating books and other resources to those who could not afford to buy them.”


Cynthia added disaster relief, though, when 9/11 occurred. “In 2001, my book, Be the Star You Are! 99 Gifts for Living, Loving, Laughing, and Learning to Make a Difference (Ten Speed Press) was scheduled for a late August debut. I was booked to appear on a major TV show on 9/11 in NYC but a couple of days before the show, the producers rescheduled me to 9/18. Like the rest of the population of America, I was horrified by the terrorist attacks and just as sickened knowing that I was supposed to be in NYC that day.

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“Besides being farmers, the majority of my family members are first responders: Chiefs, captains, firefighters, paramedics, police, CSI, heavy equipment operators. My dad was Captain in our valley volunteer fire department for 45 years and as a kid, I was on numerous burns, mostly control fires. Since BTSYA doesn’t provide blood, water, food, or medical, I called FDNY Family Crisis and asked if books, games, CDs, DVDs, puzzles, and other resources would be helpful to offer hope and healing from the trauma for all ages. They responded ‘YES, PLEASE!’ My teen volunteers and I went into action. I reached out to every author who had been on my radio show, as well as publicists, producers, and publishers who had worked on my TV and radio shows. In addition, I had acting clients and volunteers across the country who stepped up to spearhead collections in their areas. It was truly a national outreach program, and BTSYA was one of the very first charities to offer non-emergency assistance to the victims and survivors. Over several months, we shipped over 50 pallets worth $57,000 (in this relief effort and in general, books make up around 85% of donations). The program was called Operation Ground Hero.”


Be the Star You Are! went on to ship $27,000 in resources to schools, libraries, groups, and shelters for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. “Then the disasters kept coming: fires, tornadoes, and floods,” says Cynthia. “Disaster areas started reaching out to us to help. When Super Storm Sandy hit, one of our volunteers in New Jersey lost her home and we collaborated to ship $30,000 in resources. My son, who is a Captain with Cal Fire was on a Southern Cal. fire for 57 days without relief. Disasters are traumatic for everyone.”

Be the Star You Are! is completely volunteer-based, including Cynthia, and it’s now a year-round program. Donations can be made to the nonprofit by clicking here. If any publisher or author would like to be included on a list to donate and ship books for Disaster Relief or other tax-deductible outreach programs, they can send an email to All donations will receive a tax receipt for the contribution from Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 literacy and positive media charity.


Four Questions with Be the Star You Are!’s Founder Cynthia Brian

IBPA: Can you share three tips for other independent publishers who are looking to set up nonprofits related to their books?

Cynthia Brian (CB):

  1. Don’t set up a nonprofit. Find one that is already in existence.


  1. If I had known in 1999 what I know today about the challenges of running a charity, I would not have founded a nonprofit. The road is tough; the work is long and hard; funding is difficult; and the paperwork, emails, calls, and mail are unending.


  1. After 20 years of leading Be the Star You Are!®, I am very dedicated to the cause of increasing literacy and positive media messages. I am still holding the goal of finding a volunteer somewhere in the world to create a software program that will provide an avenue to register aid organizations that need books with publishers who want to donate books and shipping companies that will provide the shipping. BTSYA would orchestrate this circle and provide tax receipts to donating participants and make sure that “rescued” books were sent to people who could benefit.

IBPA: Can you list three key lessons you’ve learned about how one can succeed as an independent publisher?


  1. Giving a percentage of sales to a nonprofit improves your book sales. For all 8 of my published books, I donate a percentage to Be the Star You Are!® charity, and I put this information in each book.


  1. Marketing and radio interviews are key to success.


  1. Speaking engagements and radio interviews help with branding and making experts, which equals selling more books.

IBPA: How has it been beneficial to you to be a member of Independent Book Publishers Association?

CB: In 1998, I interviewed Jan Nathan when IBPA was called Publishers Marketing Association (PMA) on my radio show, StarStyle®. The interview with Jan prompted me to find out more about PMA, and I also had contracts for books with two publishers at that time, so I thought that learning about publishing was a great idea. When I joined the organization, I found the IBPA Independent magazine the most valuable resource. Since I am an acting and media coach as well as a radio/TV producer, I started submitting articles that were published, mostly regarding marketing and publicity via radio and TV. I also decided to professionally publish my book that had been very popular with actors, The Business of Show Business, using the new tools that I learned through IBPA. The book is now in its 14th enhanced edition and won a Silver in the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. I also found that going to a few IBPA Publishing University conferences was terrific to meet fellow members and get to know some of the staff. And this past year I offered a Publishing University Online webinar, How to Think Like a Producer and Interview Like a Star (IBPA members can watch this webinar for free by clicking the link above and logging into their IBPA profile).

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IBPA: Do you have any new books coming out soon?

CB: I published two books in 2018, Growing with the Goddess Gardener (Book 1 in the Garden Shorts Series)and book 3 in the Be the Star You Are!® trilogy, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World.

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My next projects will focus on the life lessons I’ve learned with adopting abandoned and abused animals over my lifetime. These will be books for young children, including picture books. I am looking for a fabulous publishing partner!

IBPA: Thank you, Cynthia, for sharing your story with the IBPA community, and for all the disaster relief work you do through your nonprofit!

Click here to learn more about Be the Star You Are!®

Click here to tune into StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® radio


Read more:


Let’s Get Clinical: Understanding Depression, Dementia, and Delirium

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Health & Wellness
Let’s Get Clinical: Understanding Depression, Dementia, and Delirium


Let’s Get Clinical: Understanding Depression, Dementia, and Delirium

This blog is about three clinical syndromes that besiege many older adults: depression, dementia, and delirium. For those who are not working in the field of health care or may have heard the terms but don’t know how to distinguish among them, this blog sets out to explain their similarities and the differences.  And, if you happen to re-play Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical” in your head while reading, all the better.

Why is this an important subject? Caregivers, both paid and unpaid, are present in at least 20% of U.S. households, and this is expected to

grow rapidly over coming decades, for several reasons: demographics – the population is aging, medical advances that allow for shorter hospital stays, and more home technology that allow people to reside in their homes longer. Additionally,


Never Too Late Blog

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Health & Wellness
Never Too Late Blog

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Never Too Late: Research Now Finds that Increasing Exercise at Any Time Can Increase Lifespan: Join the Livingto100.Club

The notion that it’s never too late to shift toward healthier behaviors gets another boost with research findings from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.  Smoking cessation, dietary modifications, a change in outlook, and other strategies can prove to be beneficial on our mental and physical well-being, promote successful aging, and increase longevity, regardless of how late in life these changes are adopted.  Now, a study in the British Medical Journal is showing that it is never too late to reap the benefits of a longer life just by adding exercise to our daily routine, or increasing the intensity of our usual routine.  Strikingly, the benefits included reduced mortality risk from cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The study followed over 14,000 men and women, aged 40 to 79, for anywhere from 7 to 12.5 years, monitoring lifestyle and risk factors (education level, employment status, diet, alcohol, smoking, BP), as well as changes in medical history.  The researchers looked at physical activity and sedentary habits.  Throughout the follow-up period, approximately 2,000 participants died from cardiovascular disease and cancer.  After controlling for pre-existing activity levels, the authors concluded that over time, high levels of physical activity correlated with a lower mortality risk.  More striking, though, was the finding that modest increases in exercise correlated with a 29% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and an 11% lower risk of dying from cancer.  The authors inferred that participants who went from being physically inactive to becoming more active over a 5-year period were less likely to die from any cause than people who were consistently inactive.

One final conclusion applied to those who already were involved in high levels of activity:  those who had high levels of physical activity at the start of the study were 42% less likely to die prematurely from any cause.

The benefits of increasing physical activity do not depend on past activity levels.  This is the encouraging result.  As the authors state, older adults “can still gain substantial longevity benefits by becoming more active, lending further support to the broad public health benefits of physical activity.” It also affirms the belief that we should never give up or stop moving forward.  Apparently taking on new behaviors at any age still pays off.


The Living to 100 Club, LLC, is an Amazon Affiliate; sales commissions accrue to the Company when recommended Amazon products are purchased by our readers.  These products target healthy lifestyles, information on successful aging, and aid to caregivers. The online store at Living to 100 Club also gives you access to more products with items that improve health awareness, fitness, and travel with items for maintaining an active senior lifestyle and a positive outlook toward our future.

Radio Talk Show

The Living to 100 Club is all about staying positive as we age. Our blog articles and our new weekly live Radio Show emphasize longevity, successful aging, risk management, and handling setbacks whenever they occur.  Be sure to tune in to our weekly live Radio Talk Show on VoiceAmericaHealth, every Friday at 2pm Pacific, with your Host, Dr. Joe Casciani.

Missed the live event?  Recordings of all episodes are stored on the Club website. Scroll down on the audio player and select “Episode Listing” to display the selections.

This Week’s Recommendations

Exerpeutic Folding Upright Exercise Bike – Editor’s Choice: small enough to fit in a studio apartment while also being strong and sturdy.

Amazon Basics Neoprene Dumbbell Pairs and Sets with Stands – Ideal for resistance training, and made for indoor and outdoor use.

Learning Dumbbell Workout Exercise Poster – Double-sided for vertical or horizontal use, tear-resistant.

Younger Next year: The Exercise Program – A Guide to show the right way to exercise, how to start an exercise regimen, and the know-how to keep it going.

AmazonBasics ½-inch Extra Thick Exercise Mat – Extra thick mat for workout routines, textured surface, and lightweight (74×24”)

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Click this link for a copy of the Living to100 Club Member Handbook, 9 Principles  to Create Positive Frame of Mind as We Age.


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