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How Sweet It Is

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How Sweet It Is

“How Sweet it Is,” is an Excerpt from Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work, by Ariel and Shya Kane

Click here for more information or to purchase this book.

There is an old story about a man who was walking through the jungle. Sensing a presence, the man looked over his shoulder and saw a tiger slinking through the foliage, following him. Quickening his pace, the fellow followed the path he was on until he reached a cliff. Looking back once again, he saw the tiger was still there and coming closer. Standing with his toes over the edge, the man noticed that there was a vine running down the cliff face and he swung out onto the vine in order to escape the tiger. Just as he quickly lowered himself down, the tiger jumped. Slashing over the edge with her paw, the tiger narrowly missing catching the man as he made his decent. As the man started to work his way down the cliff face, he looked down to the bottom and saw yet another tiger, the mate of the one at the top. The tigers settled down to wait. Hanging there, the man saw that two mice, a white one and a black one, had started gnawing on the vine above his head. It was only a matter of time before the vine would give way. Looking off to one side, he noticed a wild strawberry gleaming crimson in the sunlight. He picked it, put it in his mouth and tasted…How sweet it was.

Worrying about the future and missing the sweetness of the moment seems to be a way of life for most people. Of course, there are plenty of things to worry about today, if that is what you are used to. There was plenty to worry about in our parents’ day also and in our grandparents’ and so on back through time. And yet they survived. We are all a living testament to that. Perhaps we worry as a part of the culture we were raised in, as a survival strategy, passed down from generation to generation. Have you ever stopped to think that worry is not an integral part of well-being but something extra, unneeded and unexamined that we have absorbed from those around us?

You can taste the wild strawberries that exist around you in your everyday life by being here in this moment, rather than worrying about things you cannot immediately do anything about, such as the state of the world, global warming, political conflict, wars, etc. Those things do exist but in this moment so does the chair you are sitting in, the air you are breathing and the floor under your feet.

Perhaps you tend to worry about something more personal, such as your finances, the state of your relationship or your health. Well, does worrying actually accomplish anything positive? Worry is the mind’s projection of possible futures, based on what we have experienced or known from the past.

Being Here in this moment is the great transformational agent. If you are actually engaged in being here, then life does not have to repeat itself. Unknown creative solutions can present themselves and if you are here, you are available to see them.

There is a Country Western song by Tim McGraw called, “Live Like You Were Dying.” It is about a man who discovered he had a potentially terminal disease and goes out and does all the things he only dreamt of doing…and many he hadn’t even considered; riding a bull, going fishing, being a true friend, talking sweeter, loving deeper and giving forgiveness he had been denying to others.

For the most part, we don’t live our lives as though it is our last day. There are things we do which, if we were dying, we would never indulge in. If the end were near we wouldn’t be wasting those few precious moments. The trick is in discovering how to maintain this sense of urgency and vitality without threatening oneself with dire circumstances such as imminent death. Although the song “Live Like You Were Dying” is just a song, it is representative of what can happen if you engage in your life without preference, without listening to the story of whether or not you feel like doing something and without thinking that this moment doesn’t matter.

How do you engage in your life as if this moment matters when you are truly out of touch with that, and are lost in a loop of worry, you might ask? Well, you could start by washing your dishes, making your bed, cleaning up your office, completing those things that have been incomplete and that you ignore by worrying about other things. What if worry was just a sophisticated way to procrastinate? Have you ever considered that if you are really busy, fully engaged, getting things done, your rarely have time or interest in complaining about your life?

So, if you need a place to start, look around you. Handling any little incompletion is a great start. Then move on to the next thing. You might start with the things you like to do first. Get in a rhythm. Then keep including what’s next. You will be pleasantly surprised how, as you handle the minutia of your life, the answers to how to handle the “big” things magically appear.

This is an excerpt from Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work, available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, podcast/radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, Germany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their Being Here podcast or join their email newsletter. Also get information about their award-winning books. Their newest book, Being Here…Too, is available on Amazon.comBarnesandNoble.com and everywhere books are sold.

Books by Ariel & Shya Kane

Joy to the World

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Joy to the World

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Only those who go where few have gone can see what few have seen.~ Buddha

Did you know that poinsettias grow into trees? Or that mother’s tongue, also known as snake plant, is an excellent fence barrier? Without a thought from whence a plant derives, most of us buy our indoor plants at nurseries, grocery stores, and big-box centers.  Our holiday décor includes colorful tropical specimens that thrive inside.

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On a quest to discover the flora and fauna that bring joy to our world, I traveled to Cuba with a program in support of the Cuban people. Throughout my journey, the diverse and unique landscape constantly changed as our small group of six plus an informative Cuban guide hiked through nature reserves, parks, rainforests, and into the magnificent Escambray Mountains. In 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba describing it as “the most beautiful land that human eyes had ever seen.”  Supporting 7,500 species of flowering plants with more than 53% being endemic, Cuba is a garden lovers paradise.  

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The rivers, grottos, caves, and waterfalls were dotted with gigantic tree ferns, indigenous species of orchids, tillandsias (air plants), bromeliads, and palms as well as banana, mango, papaya, orange, and grapefruit trees. Philodendrons twined up fifty-foot trees and Ixora commonly called jungle flame or jungle geranium, firespike, and ginger flanked the narrow footpaths.

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Fields of sugar cane, coffee plants, and tobacco straddled the lowlands and hillsides. We traversed log bridges over rushing rivers in Topas de Collantes and were mesmerized by the delicate mimosas. Their leaves instantly closed with the touch of a finger.

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We tiptoed on rocks crossing trickling streams and swam in the poceta de cristal or crystal pond under a waterfall near the top of the mountain.

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A sign on the tree read salto los desparramaderos: translated means “jump the scatters”.  Chuckling, we jumped numerous “scatters”! Tall thick spires of bamboo led to the mouth of the river where rocky stalactites hung from the ceiling of caves and the rocky formations of stalagmites rose from the cavern floor.

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We were fortunate enough to witness the unique Cuban national bird, the trogan tocororo, sitting on a limb in the forest. Its striking feathers are red, white, and blue reflecting those of the national flag. It is said that this endemic bird found only in Cuba will die of sadness in captivity, symbolizing the desire of the people to always be free. It was called guatini by the Taino Indians and is also known as the onomatopoeic tocoloro because of its song. 

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At lunch one day under a thatched canopy, we met the largest endemic land mammal in Cuba, the friendly and curious social rodent, the Cuban Hutia.  Prized as a rare delicacy, it lives in trees and is almost extinct because of over-harvesting. We stopped at a lunch hut in the Zapata Swamp another afternoon but didn’t see any Cuban crocodiles, an endangered species found exclusively in Cuba. 

The produce on this island is always organic, fresh, and delicious. When I commented about the importance of growing and eating organic, our guide informed us that farming organically was not a choice but a necessity because the cost of fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides are prohibitively expensive. Growing organic is cheaper than using chemicals in farming. Fruits and vegetables are only eaten in season. Pineapple, guava, and bananas are the sweetest I’ve ever tasted anywhere. In Havana, carts of tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, beets, bananas, and cucumbers are pushed through the streets offering a daily rolling farmer’s market to the populace. 

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Nature is what attracted me to Cuba and it didn’t disappoint. After hiking, biking, snorkeling, kayaking, bird watching, horseback riding, and examining the flora and fauna of the island, it was the people that stole my heart.

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They have so little economically speaking, yet they are joyful, full of life, and welcoming to Americans. In the casa particulares where we stayed, tiny Christmas trees or frayed holiday trinkets brightened the small rooms where families gathered, a far cry from the Disneyesque Christmas spectacle I’m accustomed to in my family. Speaking Spanish to several Cubans, I learned of dreams to travel and hopes for a freer future.  

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Not many Americans have had the opportunity to visit this impoverished, yet beautiful Caribbean nation. If you are one of those individuals who want to see what few have seen, consider supporting the Cuban people. You’ll be rewarded with a visit of joy, diversity, and plenty of grateful hugs!

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for Bringing a Slice of Cuba to your Landscape

Cuban plants that make great houseplants in California:

Ixora, commonly called jungle flame, flame of the woods, or jungle geranium with clusters of star shaped flowers.

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Poinsettia, a Euphorbia pulcherrima, is the most well-known holiday flower. Although red is the most popular color, the bracts are available in pink, white, salmon, and bi-colors. Poinsettias love warmth and humidity and in Cuba grow to be trees.

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Tillandsias, the largest genus in the bromeliad family, are air plants that will cling to anything. Natural light, soaking, and misting will keep them happy.

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Bromeliads, add a touch of the tropics to every home. With flowers of pink, red, and maroon, they require minimal care. Fill the cup at the base with water and let them thrive.

Philodendrons are easy care houseplants. Vining philodendrons need a pole to climb; non- climbing will grow upright without any support. They like bright, indirect sunlight, and enjoy an occasional vacation outdoors in the shade.

Snake plant, also known as mother’s tongue, is one of the air freshener plants. It requires almost no care at all and will keep you breathing freely.

Mimosa pudica, a perennial herb in the pea family, is the touch-me-not-plant. When touched it closes its leaves, titillating audiences.

Cuban plants to grow in your garden:

Gloryblowers (Clerodendrum) make excellent choices for trellises, poles, and other structures in full sun as climbers. Since they are tropical, they need to be protected from frost.

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Coleus, painted nettle plant, grows outdoors when it is warm, but being a tender specimen, are best grown as a container or houseplant.

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Royal Palm will grow to 60 feet in frost-free areas and is moderately drought resistant, bringing the sway of the island inland.

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Bamboo is a fast-growingCuba 2018-bamboo forest.jpg giant grass that makes an excellent privacy screen. Beware, certain species of bamboo can take over, breaking concrete and sidewalks. 

 

Firespike, odontonema strictum, is an evergreen shrub that tolerates drought producing brilliant panicles of tubular waxy flowers summer through winter.

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Ginger, both ornamental and edible, is easy to grow and incredibly pretty. To grow edible ginger, just break off a piece of a healthy, plump ginger root that you buy at the store and plant in the location you want. Leaves die back in winter. Harvest whenever you need to add spice to life!

Look around your house and garden to identify what botanicals you are growing with a Cuban origin. Wishing you a beautiful holiday season of joy, peace, gratitude, and love.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Feliz Navidad y Feliz Jánuca!

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Read more: 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1221/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Joy-to-the-world.html

Cynthia Brian

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 Are1® 501 c3. http://www.BethestarYouAre.org

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Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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Cuban Adventure, Brain Buzz, Making Scents

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Cuban Adventure, Brain Buzz, Making Scents

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When you hear the word “Cuba”, what do you think? Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro, Revolution, Cigars, Mafia, Christopher Columbus, Hemingway, pirates?

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Cynthia Brian has just returned from this largest island in the Caribbean on a Support the Cuban People cultural experience and found a rich culture steeped in history with European, African, and Asian influences.

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From UNESCO World Heritage sites to celebrating Cuban music, Cynthia and her new friend from the Cuban adventure, Paul Devaney, bring you along as they reminisce about participating in the daily life of the charming people, hiking and horseback riding through the mountain forests, enjoying delicious dishes, photographing breathtaking flora, and kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling in the crystal aqua seas.

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Want to learn a few simple tricks to keep your brain healthier? If even one of the tips resonates with you, your brain will benefit and so will your overall wellness.

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Freshen the air in your home with a calming aroma. Cynthia Brian explains how to make potpourri, homemade incense, and other fragrant packages with flowers and herbs from your garden.

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Guest Bio: Paul Devaney

Paul Devaney, a 2nd Dan Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and Black Belt in Aikido and an FAA Certified Flight Instructor recently retired after twenty-five years working with the postal service. He teaches an informal martial art fitness class 5-6 times a month and is a daily practitioner of S.A.V.E.R.S. “Win the morning seize the day”  He’s been married for over 30 years to his beautiful wife, Cleo and has twin daughters who both work in breweries on opposite coasts. Besides traveling, he is considering playing guitar more, writing a novel, and learning a foreign language or two!

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Listen at Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel: : https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/111070/cuban-adventure-brain-buzz-making-scents

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

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Team Effectiveness, Brexit and Theresa May

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Team Effectiveness, Brexit and Theresa May

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This blog is a guest post by Simon Mac Rory as a companion to the November, 27 Voice America interview where he talks about his latest book, Wake-up and Smell the Coffee: An Imperative for Teams.

While writing my recent book “Wake up and smell the coffee – the imperative of teams” all around me was the Brexit discussion. I could not pick up a news feed and not see something on the negotiations in terms of the UK position, the EU position and the Irish question. I must admit, despite a keen interest in the outcome, both as business person and an EU/Irish national living in the UK, I remain in a confused state as to what is happening. I cannot make head nor tail of the UK position!

Observing the UK Brexit team and the confused narrative that emerges, I got to wondering how effective are they as a team? Do they have the capability for success? Brexit is such a critical issue for the UK overall and can even be viewed as the greatest existential threat to the UK since World War II, if the negotiations are not a success.

To be effective there are a number of critical issues that teams need to address. If they can improve on these through their own efforts, they can drive their overall effectiveness substantially. I define team effectiveness as – “The ability of a work team to be successful and produce the intended results. For the team, success is achieving the results, but effectiveness is about capability for success.”

I have attempted to map the Brexit team to the factors and criteria for an effective team. These are my views and generated as a distant observer (as I can only be). What do others think – does Theresa May and her Brexit team have the capabilities for success? The model I use is displayed below and is comprised of six factors. Each factor in turn contains two criteria that impact team effectiveness. In the table that follows I have given a brief definition of each criteria and my opinion of the Brexit team in relation to same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a reader of this blog and listener to the interviews, please consider enrolling in one of the innovative leadership online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching through our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

About the Author

Simon Mac Rory is a specialist in team development. He works with senior staff leaders to help them discover that edge to becoming a truly high performing team. Over his 30-year career he has worked globally with a blue-chip client base in both the private and public sectors.

He founded The ODD Company in 2011 to deliver TDP (a cloud-based team development tool and methodology) to the international markets. Simon
operates the business from London with a Dublin-based development and support office.

Simon received a doctoral degree for his work on the application of generic frameworks in organizational development and is a Visiting Research Fellow at Nottingham Business School.

Follow Simon on Twitter @SimomMacRory

Leadership Trends to Watch for 2019 and Beyond

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Leadership Trends to Watch for 2019 and Beyond

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With 2018 coming to a close, many of us are looking to 2019 and beyond. This article was originally published on Forbes.com in August 2018 summarizing the trends that emerged from the last 100 interviews conducted on Voice America Radio, Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations interview series.  It is the companion to an interview between Christopher Washington, PhD and Maureen Metcalf Top Leadership Trends in 2018 and beyond.

I host a weekly radio show that helps leaders update how they lead. The interviews are with key business leaders, global leaders, thought leaders, authors and academics. Each year, I publish the main themes we discuss on the show as well as in my consulting work with senior executives around the world.

I have now completed more than 150 interviews, and volatility was a recurring theme. This article is a synthesis of what we can take away as key factors for leaders and executives to focus on for the next four years.

1. Leaders must pay attention to trends and predictions.

As the rate of change accelerates, if you take a “wait and see” stance, you will be caught unprepared. The intersection of volatility, changes in technology and global interconnection means there are threats and opportunities on all fronts and a large pool of organizations poised to leverage both. Speed continues to matter.

2. Leaders and their organizations are becoming agiler.

A McKinsey survey of more than 2,500 organizations of different sizes, specialties and regions reported that “37 percent of respondents said their organizations are carrying out company-wide agile transformations, and another 4 percent said their companies have fully implemented such transformations. The shift is driven by proof that small, multidisciplinary teams of agile organizations can respond swiftly and promptly to rapidly changing market opportunities and customer demands.”

As leaders, it’s important to adopt a nimble mindset and culture. Being nimble means paying attention to trends and identifying small “experiments” you can run to keep up with or even ahead of the changes happening around you. Once you are clear about what will work for you and how it will work, pilot that change. Truly agile companies are always experimenting.

3. Organizations and their people must accelerate their pace of learning.

With an increase in agility, people and organizations will need to accelerate learning. In 1978, Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus Chris Argyris wrote Organizational Learning: A Theory of Action Perspective. This work continues to evolve and increase in importance, as learning provides a competitive advantage.

Take, for example, how organizations are automating more work. Employees who continue to learn and update their skills will be able to find new roles, while others who are not continually learning will be left unemployed or underemployed as their roles diminish.

4. Age range in the workforce will continue to expand.

As life expectancy continues to increase, many people will want to and need to work longer. Organizations will need to find ways to attract and engage older workers. They will also need to address the dynamics created when multiple generations of employees are working together on the same team.

With the decrease of age-based seniority, leadership will be taken by the best person for the role and will likely shift frequently in an agile environment. Organizations need to be creative in promoting engagement and teamwork across multiple generations.

5. Leaders need to identify and build talent at an increasing rate.

As technology evolves and organizations change more quickly, employees need to learn faster, and organizations need to identify workers to fill changing talent needs. Some of these needs will fall in the technology space, but not all.

We referenced older employees remaining in the workforce and returning. We also need to find ways to engage talent who have been previously overlooked. This could mean people leaving incarceration, people with disabilities who would, in fact, be great fits for certain roles, or adults who work from home because they are caregivers to their children or parents, to name a few.

6. Employee engagement will continue to be important in volatile times.

The importance of human interaction will continue to increase even as more of the workforce is working remotely – many rarely, if ever, meeting their colleagues. Leaders and organizations need to focus on soft skills such as emotional intelligence that have a strong impact on engagement and the effort employees put into communicating.

7. Communities must come together to solve quality-of-life and economic issues.

With the level of change, segments of the economy can easily be excluded from the workforce. The gap between economic haves (those with education, access and resources) and have-nots can increase, and the cost can be significant for the individuals, families and businesses impacted by a worker shortage.

Successful regions create organizations to tackle these challenges. This means organizations that traditionally compete for resources and clients also need to work together to solve challenges that impact them.

8. Effective leaders are conscious of their impact across a broad range of factors and stakeholders.

As we talk about conscious capitalism, the main idea is that “conscious” organizations tend to the health of a broad range of stakeholders. It becomes increasingly important to pay attention to the needs of competing stakeholders and balance these demands. Conscious capitalism is one mechanism that helps leaders explore the broader range of stakeholders and understand their drivers.

Business is getting more complicated and requires leaders to continually update their skills as well as their mindset and focus. This article summarizes some of my key learnings.

As a leader, are you seeing similar trends? What’s missing? What are you doing to prepare yourself and your organization to succeed during the next four years?

As a reader of this blog and listener to the interviews, please consider enrolling in one of the innovative leadership online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching through our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

Maureen Metcalf, CEO of Metcalf & Associates is a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, coach and consultant.

Octonauts, Season Two: Whether You Love The Ocean Or Not, This Is Filled With Information In A Fun Way!

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Octonauts, Season Two: Whether You Love The Ocean Or Not, This Is Filled With Information In A Fun Way!

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Dive into adventure with your favorite underwater explorers, the Octonauts! Join brave Captain Barnacles, daredevil ex-pirate, Kwazii, medic Peso Penguin and the rest of the crew, as they explore the world s oceans, rescue the creatures who live there and protect their habitats – above and below the waves!<p>Based on the richly imaginative books by Meomi, this series combines immersive visuals and ‘submersive’ humor to transport young children into a world that is both real and fantastic, full of mysteries to unravel and surprises around every corner.<p>In this season set, encounter all types of creatures from the Great White Shark to Lionfish and more! The adventures don’t end there! Embark on an Amazon adventure with the Octonauts as they travel down the Amazon River in search of a lost city and Kwazii’s long lost grandfather, Calico Jack! So come aboard the Octopod for 24 exciting missions! Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10 comments, “The show is based on American-Canadian children’s books by Meomi Design Inc., which make it ideal for young kids! The series is very entertaining and educational. It contains lots of information and if you love the ocean, I definitely recommend this series.” Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult reviewer adds, “. One of my favorite things is how, at the end of each show, they give facts about sea animals such as the Great White Shark and Sea Snakes.” See their full reviews below.

Octonauts: Season Two
By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Octonauts: Season Two is a very cute children’s television series animated in Ireland and voiced by British actors. The show is based on American-Canadian children’s books by Meomi Design Inc., which make it ideal for young kids! The series is very entertaining and educational. It contains lots of information and if you love the ocean, I definitely recommend this series.

You don’t need to watch Season One to understand Season Two. From the very first episode, you are immersed in a colorful underworld, discovering the adventures of the very likable characters. The intrepid Octonauts travel in nautical space ships and the Octopod and will remind parents of Star Trek and the expeditions of French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. I like that they work as a team and how they respect each other. Each character brings something different; they have different specialties and each one is unique.

My favorite characters are Peso, the penguin and Barnabas the polar bear captain which I found very classy. But, all six adventurers are fun to watch – Kawazii (the cat), Inkling (the Dumbo octopus), Shellington (the sea otter), Tweak (the rabbit), Dash (the dog) and Tunip (half animal, half vegetable). They are not only adorable, but it is easy to relate to them. They all have different accents and, by the sound of their voices, they are different ages too.<p>Everything is very interesting in this show. Each episode follows a different mission where you learn fascinating information about the ocean and marine life in a very fun manner. Each episode is based on one particular sea creature or animal and the Octonauts not only explore the ocean but also protect their habitat. The technology in the series is imaginary, but the creatures are based on real ones.

The show’s color palette is beautiful with lots of light blues and greens. It’s quite refreshing and calms you down, which I think is ideal for little ones. I really like the animation, especially the graphic transitions at the end of each episode as it gives a recap (Creature Reports) to the episode and additional information about each animal.  Each episode is also focused on a particular conflict or problem, but you can enjoy them individually since there’s no sequence between them.

Season Two comes with two discs, with 12 episodes each and 12 Creature Reports, which are music videos about the animals featured in that episode. This gives a nice recap on that segment. The message series is “explore, rescue, protect.” There’s a whole ocean out there to discover, but we have to care and preserve our nature for future generations and ourselves. <p>I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 8, but parents watching with their little ones will enjoy as well. It’s available on DVD now, so look for it. Reviewed by Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 10

Octonauts, Season 2
By Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer

It’s the Octonauts to the rescue! Well, they actually do more than just rescue, but I really enjoyed the rescue. They also explore and protect and I can add another one – they educate young children.  The characters are extremely likable and engaging. There are so many different adventures in this season’s collection. I especially enjoyed the one about the Great White Shark which the group needed to rescue and at the same time had to be very careful so they didn’t end up as the Great White Shark’s lunch! The underwater scenes are fun to watch. The dialogue is creative. I highly recommend this for ages 3 through 7. One of my favorite ethings is how, at the end of each show, they give facts about sea animals such as the Great White Shark and Sea Snakes. I give this 4 stars out of 5 stars for its entertainment and educational aspects.  Reviewed by Denise B., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Once Upon a Deadpool * Action-Packed, Draped With The Famous Parody Of The Original

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Once Upon a Deadpool * Action-Packed, Draped With The Famous Parody Of The Original

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“Fox has been asking for a PG-13 basically since the start in 2006,” Ryan Reynolds told Deadline. “I’ve said no since 2006. Now, this one time, I said ‘Yes’ on two conditions. First, a portion of the proceeds had to go to charity. Second, I wanted to kidnap Fred Savage. The second condition took some explaining…”Fred Savage will join Reynolds in new scenes for Once Upon A Deadpool in an homage to Savage’s starring role in the 1987 bedtime-story classic The Princess Bride. Fred remarked, “while my participation in this film was anything but voluntary, I am happy to learn that Fudge Cancer will be the beneficiary of this shameless cash grab.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O. comments, “Similar to the original film, the story is action-packed with some romance and drama, but always draped with the famous parody feel that creates an entertaining and comedic atmosphere.” See his full review below.

Once Upon a Deadpool

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

https://youtu.be/F-rKT9s92Po

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Deadpool had much attention recently for its fame of being highly mature, but at the same time incredibly entertaining. Once Upon a Deadpool attempts to break that by releasing a PG-13 cut of Deadpool 2 and, while it will make the audience laugh as much as the previous version, it fails to expand the Deadpool audience to younger viewers.Similar to the original film, the story is action-packed with some romance and drama, but always draped with the famous parody feel that creates an entertaining and comedic atmosphere.Once Upon a Deadpool follows the previous film with Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) losing the love of his life, leading to him trying to find ways to stop his grief, eventually ending up with Deadpool trying to save a young mutant boy from becoming a cruel murderer and on the way making a new family. In the PG-13 edition, the entire story is told by Deadpool to Fred Savage as a bedtime story, similar to the style of Princess Bride. While this doesn’t truly affect the main plot a lot, the twist leads to much laughter and many comedic moments.

 

Once Upon a Deadpool delivers the same chaotic, dark and highly mature atmosphere that the previous film did and, despite being marketed as a PG-13 film, it still has the same amount of lewdness and foul language, even if the material merely gets hinted at instead of blatantly shown. While this does technically makes it a less severe rating, the re-cut is far from a family film that everyone can enjoy. Also, at times, the re-cut rearranges scenes and shots very uniquely to avoid showing anything mature. Mostly this works to tell the story, but at times it feels forced, as if the editor had to construct a film from sticks instead of clips, with awkward cuts and sequences.Aside from this, the film achieves high praise overall. The new cast and old cast hold a great quality in their performances, despite being in many ways a parody film. Of course, being a superhero action, good VFX holds a huge role in the end product. While the CGI throughout has less quality than what you’d see in an Avengers’ film, it still mostly looks realistic and could convince anybody that what they see on screen is real.

Some of the funniest scenes come from the method that the film tells its story by having Deadpool read it to Fred Savage as a bedtime story. Most of the scenes breaks the fourth wall and are filled with self-mocking and sarcasm, which makes each time that the two are shown on camera together enjoyable. Savage and Reynolds’ on-screen chemistry works perfectly and the conversations and scenes flow smoothly, adding to the enjoyment as the comedy feels natural and real.Despite being rated PG-13, Once Upon a Deadpool fails to actually expand to the target audience. I recommend this for ages 15 to 18, as well as adults. Parents should be warned that, while the film meets the national standard for a PG-13 rating, many adult-oriented elements are still referenced heavily, making it very mature in many ways. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars for excellent acting and comedy, but lacking in an interesting and unpredictable story and having a strange flow at times due to the numerous edits necessary to achieve the lower rating. This film opens in theaters December 12, 2018 so, check it out.

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Photos ©Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

The Snowman * A Holiday Classic Unlike Any Other!

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The Snowman * A Holiday Classic Unlike Any Other!

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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
https://youtu.be/x-ONxIpcmLA

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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 sang 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 10

https://youtu.be/fQ0RUgoP16Y

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!

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The Snowman

By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

https://youtu.be/uzeqVye7G4U

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 it for ages 2 to 18, as well as adults.

A Moment in Time

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A Moment in Time

A Moment in Time

by Wendy in Queens, NY

an excerpt from Being Here…Too, Short Stories of Modern Day Enlightenment by Ariel and Shya Kane

kidsswinging.jpgMy brother Brian was born a year and a half after I was. My mom told me that when she brought him home from the hospital, I thought he was a gift for me. When we were growing up, Brian seemed to know how to do everything without any help or training. I’d ask him, “How do you know that?” I was amazed and jealous that things seemed to come so easily for him, or so I thought.

Years later when I graduated from college, I found a job in New York City. My brother offered to drive my stuff and me from our home in Rochester, New York to my new apartment in Jersey City, New Jersey. We packed his Suburban to the gills and off we went. We made our way there using a good old-fashioned map since this was before cell phones and Google Maps. We spent the weekend setting up the apartment and took a quick trip into Manhattan to explore the area. The days flew by and the time came for him to head back. We hugged goodbye and off he drove into the horizon. As I watched my brother’s truck get smaller and smaller, tears fell down my cheeks.

Time moved on, life happened, and Brian and I grew apart. I held on to my belief that we would be super close again someday, because that’s how I thought it should be. That’s how I thought life worked. But Brian started using drugs. As his addiction grew stronger, the gulf between us grew wider. He got help, but it was a struggle and he repeatedly slipped back into his old habits. I had a lot of judgments against him, but they had started long before he was using drugs.

Eventually, I discovered a totally new perspective about my brother and my life when a co-worker invited me to one of Ariel and Shya Kane’s evening events in New York City. Soon after, I attended a weekend seminar with them and started to look at relationships through a different lens. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but my perspective just shifted. As a kid I’d made decisions to not be like my family. I started seeing how I held my family and myself as not good enough. I had ideas about what a “good family” looked like, down to how a good family should celebrate Christmas. In the past, I had sat at home feeling sorry for myself if the celebration was not up to my standards.

Then, one December, I had a spontaneous experience of how my life had transformed. I had flown to Rochester to celebrate Christmas with my family and quickly discovered that no one had made plans for a holiday gathering. Rather than going to that familiar place of feeling sorry for myself, I realized that I could plan something. This was a novel idea and I got excited at the notion of hosting Christmas.

With my sister Holley’s permission, I invited everyone to her house on a snowy night in December. I made all of my favorite dishes – cheesy macaroni and cheese, creamy cauliflower mashed potatoes and a big green salad. Holley finished it off with a fresh baked apple pie. My mom brought the frosted buttermilk Christmas cookies that she made every year. Everyone was happy to contribute. Hmm, maybe my family wasn’t such a lost cause after all.

Earlier in the day my sister and I had bought gifts for everyone, including a chess set that I thought my brother would love. Brian was a pretty good chess player and he loved the game. The doorbell sounded and I greeted my mom and brother at the door. It was as if time stood still. I looked into my brother’s eyes and I saw that I had a choice. I could drop my judgments and meet my brother Brian, as if for the first time, or I could hold on to past grievances. In a split second I chose to drop the past. I saw the light flicker in my brother’s eyes as I reached out to hug him and I felt the wall between us crumble. Even the sound of his name was sweet and I was excited he was there.

The evening flew by. After dinner we exchanged gifts. I felt sated and happy. I realized the picture in my mind of how Christmas should be celebrated was a child’s idea and I preferred the way it had unfolded in reality.

Being Here…Too, Short Stories of Modern Day EnlightenmentI was scheduled to fly back to New York City on Sunday night and to my surprise, Brian joined my mom and me on the ride to the airport. When we arrived and I found out the flight was delayed, I asked them both to come inside the airport and wait with me. I’d never done that before. I usually couldn’t wait to get out of Rochester but this time was different. We sat in Dunkin’ Donuts, sipping coffee and eating muffins, and laughing at stupid jokes. It was a lot of fun and the silliness was sweet and intimate. When my flight was ready to depart, we said our goodbyes and I made my way to the gate with a big grin on my face.

A few days into the New Year, I got a call in the middle of the night. My brother Brian had overdosed on heroin and his heart had stopped. He died later that night and I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that just a few days earlier we’d had some of the deepest and kindest interactions in years. It was as if I had found my kid brother again only to lose him.

I miss my brother but I’ll be forever grateful for the time I got to spend with him that Christmas. I’m thankful that I dropped the past and discovered who Brian really was while he was still alive.

 

This is an excerpt from Being Here…Too, now available on Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, radio show hosts and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. Find out more about the Kanes, their seminars in NYC, in the UKGermany and Costa Rica, the Say YES to Your Life! Meetups their work has inspired, their award-winning books, their Being Here radio show and join their email newsletter.

Building Teams By Doing Meaningful Work

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Building Teams By Doing Meaningful Work

This blog is a guest post by Simon Mac Rory as a companion to the November, 27 Voice America interview where he talks about his latest book, Wake-up and Smell the Coffee: An Imperative for Teams.

Alison Green, advice columnist, consultant and author of the Ask Manager website had a very interesting article on the BBC news website recently entitled Why corporate team-building events can be terrible – (see article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45260246). I couldn’t agree more with her and in my recent book “Wake up and smell the coffee – the imperative of teams I address the very same issue in a chapter debunking the myths around team work. Here is an excerpt from the book on the issue.

Offsite teambuilding can take time away from ‘real work’

Suggest a team building session and immediately the outdoors springs to mind. Contrary to popular opinion, I am convinced they do not help in delivering an effective team. There are many variations of this with some even run by ex-special elite soldiers. Primarily they are based on the completion of group exercises and challenges, supposedly developing team spirit and team effectiveness.

A trust circle at an off-site event!!!!!!

Every team member is encouraged to participate equally by the facilitator, the work team leader no longer has the same level of power as this is ceded to the facilitator. The team are given clear and precise goals and directions. This is not the norm at work. The degree of psychological safety is higher at these events (controlled by the facilitator) and everyone’s opinion tends to be heard. No idea is considered too wacky as most of the tasks are wacky in the first place. Credit for new ideas and novel solutions is given as the ideas are developed. The team become increasingly successful at the tasks as the day progresses, based on this more engaged way of interacting.

When they return to the workplace they are faced with the leader reasserting their control again, not being heard, lack of clear goals and roles, suggestions and solutions being knocked, and ideas being stolen.

What is actually happening with these outdoor events?

The number one problem with these sessions is their capacity to create an expectation that the team can work better together. The sessions are carefully constructed – I know because I used to deliver them at one time – precise instructions are given for each exercise along with clear objectives. For starters, this is not the norm in the workplace. Often the exercises bear no resemblance to any work-related task that the team carry out. As the day progresses the tasks get more difficult and most teams do complete the tasks successfully because they are designed to be completed successfully.

The outcome is a team that are in high spirits and delighted with themselves in their success. They are full of energy and drive to get back to the workplace and prove their effectiveness with this new-found capacity to work together. But, when they get back to work, lo and behold nothing has changed. If fact, very quickly the frustration levels rise as the team members recall how well they worked together at the offsite, but just cannot make it happen. The frustration levels rise accordingly and often the very opposite of what was intended is the reality. The team are less effective and more fractious.

The offsite is a false environment. Not only do the tasks not represent the normal work of the team, the conditions in which they happen are also not representative!

Real team development that delivers sustainable development and effectiveness happens in the workplace. Teams that take time to think about how they do things rather than what they do can always develop more effective means of working together. Teams that address goal and role clarity, planning and evaluation, composition and structure, appropriate leadership style and participation, conflict management and performance recognition, communication and trust are the teams that will not only deliver more but will create a psychologically safe environment as a platform for their effectiveness. All of this takes place in the workplace and not in the outdoors or at wild and wonderful offsite events.

Team development is not about time away from real work, rather it is about the time correctly given to reflection on ‘how’ the team does things, rather than ‘what’ it does. It can, and does take place in normal work hours, where it is far more effective and does not serve to embarrass and compromise any team member. Think carefully before organizing any outdoor events/offsites in terms of the team members and their various dispositions. Remember, it is not about fun; it is about addressing the real issues that drive team effectiveness.

As a reader of this blog and listener to the interviews, please consider enrolling in one of the innovative leadership online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching through our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

About the Author

Simon Mac Rory is a specialist in team development. He works with senior staff leaders to help them discover that edge to becoming a truly highperforming team. Over his 30-year career he has worked globally with a blue-chip client base in both the private and public sectors.

He founded The ODD Company in 2011 to deliver TDP (a cloud-based team development tool and methodology) to the international markets. Simon
operates the business from London with a Dublin-based development and support office.

Simon received a doctoral degree for his work on the application of generic frameworks in organizational development and is a Visiting Research Fellow at Nottingham Business School.

Follow Simon on Twitter @SimomMacRory

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