Summer Dog Days

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Summer Dog Days

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Digging Deep with Cynthia Brian, the Goddess Gardener, for August

The Dog Days of Summer

By Cynthia Brian

“Dog Days bright and clear, indicate a happy year!” The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1817

Sirius, the Dog Star, rises in summer in the Northern Hemisphere with the “dog days” traditionally beginning on the 3rd of July and ending on the 11th of August. The ancient Egyptians welcomed Sirius as a forecaster of the floods of the Nile River. They could prepare for the river’s overflow delivering much needed rich soil to their deserts or destruction to their lands. The Greeks and Romans did not appreciate the sweltering weather believing Sirius, meaning “scorching” in Greek, brought drought, disease, and disaster. The Roman poet, Virgil, described Sirius as the “bringer of drought and plague to frail mortals.”  

August 11th has come and gone, yet the month of August is notoriously hot, dry, and this year, permeated with a global pandemic. And although the historical meaning of “dog days” has nothing to do with our canine comrades, it is a fact that many house-bound families have decided to adopt a hound or two. What better time to romp in the yard with a new puppy than now as we shelter-in-place?

Although you need to keep yourself and your dog well-hydrated in this hot weather, if you planted a succulent garden earlier in the season, you don’t need to waste any water by running the irrigation system. Succulents and cactus thrive in the heat and offer texture, color, form, and interest when planted with consideration. Silk trees and oleanders provide a long blooming season but do not let your hound chew on any oleander leaves as they are poisonous.

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A sparkling clean gurgling fountain can be the watering hole for your pet while placing a small saucer filled with marbles or stones that I call a “butterfly bowl” will be a lifesaver for butterflies, bees, lizards, and other insects.

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While you are out playing with your pooches, glance through your garden to see what projects await attention. I find that these hazy days of August are a great time to assess the needs of my yard. If you have weeds anywhere, they need to be pulled or at least cut to the base before they seed and invade more of your landscape. If perennials have finished flowering, it’s time to deadhead to encourage a repeat bloom. Do your hedges need trimming? Are any sprinkler heads broken? Is your nightscaping working? If your clay soil is compacted, it requires mulch and compost to regenerate the nutrients. Composting is easy and your doggie will probably enjoy helping you to create a compost pile, although don’t let him do his business in it!


Making Compost

To make nutrient-rich compost, all you need is a combination of greens and browns. The greens are vegetable and fruit peelings, grass clippings, eggshells, coffee grinds, tea leaves, and other organics. The brown is wood shavings, small branches, sawdust, cardboard newspaper.  Keep a lidded pail under your kitchen sink, in the garage, or at the back door for ease of use and just scrape the scraps into the pail. When the pail is full, pour into a 3 x 3 x 3-foot enclosure in an out-of-the-way area or buy a compost tumbler. If you have chickens or rabbits, add their manure to the batch. If you made a pile, with a pitchfork, turn the compost regularly.  Keep the contents damp, and when the compost turns crumbly with a texture of a chocolate cake, it is ready. Add it to your flowerbeds as a fertilizer, moisture retainer, and soil enricher.

Although we want to discourage our furry friends from munching on our plants, if you want a beautiful flowering plant that is not harmful to indoor pets, look no further than orchids. 

spotted mauve phalaenopsis orchid.jpgMy spotted mauve phalaenopsis orchid has been blooming continuously for the past four years. Orchids are trouble-free and undemanding. Just leave them alone, put an ice cube once a week in their container, and let them beautify your home. Outdoors, begonias are now gorgeously in full bloom and they are toxic to all animals. 

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Our dogs watch us eat and they may be inclined to want to join the party. Use caution and knowledge when feeding your canine anything but dog food. Grapes will be ripening in the next few weeks but as delicious as they are for humans, don’t be tempted to feed any to your dog.

green grapes.jpgGrapes can be toxic to a dog, damaging the kidneys, and for some, even eating one grape could be fatal.  Beets and cucumbers are ready to be harvested along with tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and numerous herbs.

beets.jpgIf you plant tomatoes in a large pot with parsley and basil, you can move the container to follow the sun. In small amounts, ripe tomatoes (not green, too much solanine), cucumbers, peppers (specifically red), and eggplants can contribute to a healthy immune system for your dog. Consult your veterinarian before dispensing any fruit or vegetable to your pet.


Summer is the time to pick and dry fresh herbs to be savored all year. Home-grown herbs have more flavor than store-bought varieties. If your dog has bad breath, a sprig of mint or parsley will remedy the odor. 

It’s easy to dry your own by following these simple steps.

Drying Herbs

  1. 1. Harvest herbs in the morning after the dew has dried. Make sure to pick herbs before they begin to flower. Flowers can be used in all food preparations, but to save your herbs, it’s best to have foliage, not flowers.
  2. 2. Make a clean cut using a sharp shear. Don’t pull herbs or you may disturb the entire plant.
  3. 3. Rinse in cool water, pat with a towel.
  4. 4. Choose a hot, dark, and dry spot where temperatures will be 80 degrees or higher without any humidity. A garage, shed, attic, porch, or even a closet can work. Light degrades the essential oils, thus, make sure the area will be dark.
  5. 5. For large leaf herbs such as basil and mint, the best drying method to place the stems on a rack or screen to allow for air circulation. A window screen works great.
  6. 6. For small to medium-sized leaves such as parsley, sage, thyme, dill, or cilantro, gather into bunches of a dozen stems and hang from the rafters. Don’t hang herbs in the kitchen as steam and the brightness will destroy your craft.

Most herbs only take a week to three weeks to dry perfectly. They can then be put in airtight jars or canisters and stored for future use. Dried herbs make excellent gifts for a cook who is a non-gardener, too. Most herbs are a healthy additive for dogs, but, again, always consult with your vet first.

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Although the dog days of summer are over, you still have time to romp with Rover and watch the twinkling Dog Star in the predawn darkness. Sirius will be the brightest star in the heavens for the next 210,000 years shining with glints of red and blue sparkles! 

Happy gardening. Happy growing.

Read more:

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach, as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at

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Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at 

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

COVID-19’s Impact on Radio and Podcasts: The Future of Listening

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COVID-19’s Impact on Radio and Podcasts: The Future of Listening

Radio and Podcasts: The Future of Listening

2020 has brought about some of the most challenging times due to COVID-19. Many businesses that count on face-to-face interaction have suffered due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders. However, radio and streaming have seen an incredible increase. The world is going through an unprecedented time and now, more than ever, everyone is counting on technology to keep them informed and entertained. 

What impact has COVID-19 had on radio and podcasts?

The Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent social distancing guidelines has provided a (more) captive audience eager to consume content, whether it’s via a streaming service like Netflix, podcasts, or internet talk radio. With more people stuck inside and looking for a new show to binge or podcast to listen to the need for new content is rising. 

According to a Nielsen survey, adults over the age of 18 in the United States are listening to as much or more radio since the COVID-19 outbreak began. In the same survey, listeners said that they felt that radio hosts helped them stay informed, stay connected to the community, and feel less panicked. 

VoiceAmerica has seen an increase of 43 new radio shows since the beginning of 2020 with even more on the horizon with hosts to provide educational content to listeners. This new focus has caused companies and brands to adapt to service their consumers and advertise to this new audience. Less time being spent outside has meant more companies are focusing on radio and television advertisements to engage and target their consumers. 

Why do consumers choose radio and podcasts?

Radio has been around for over 100 years and the technology is always adapting for every audience. Podcasts are a more recent development as a society, but their focused channels help keep consumers entertained and informed. Here are a few major reasons people are choosing to listen to content. 

  • Trust has been a huge factor that has caused radio to be so dependable. Right now, most national news media is seen as untrustworthy by a large portion of the population. However, the attitude toward radio is the opposite. Most people trust their favorite hosts to keep them calm and in the loop of information critical to them. 
  • Balance is a critical component to radio. A lot of television and news can be very heavy and dedicated to the negativity, but radio is a great outlet to keep consumers informed on critical news while keeping them entertained with music or a great host. 
  • Variety is a great advantage to radio and podcasts. With so much content available and channels to choose from, listeners have a wide range of sources of information and entertainment. Consumers have full control of what they want to listen to and choose from a massive range of topics and hosts. 
  • Availability and accessibility keeps radio and podcasts a top source for content. Services like VoiceAmerica allow people to listen to their favorite shows on-demand. 
  • Local coverage is a huge benefit to radio. A study conducted in March 2020 by Nielsen uncovered that over 60% of listeners trust their favorite radio hosts to provide them accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19 and resources available to them. 

Radio and podcasts are reliable and trustworthy news and entertainment sources with on-demand options for listeners to catch up. Radio and podcast listening is only going to continue to grow in the future for listeners and businesses. 

What are the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on radio and podcasts? 

With 8 out of 10 people listening to radio the same or more than ever before, radio is set to continue to grow. Businesses have begun to move their advertising strategies to focus on more radio and streaming platforms to capture the at-home audience. Nielsen data suggests that media consumption will raise up to 60% due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It’s critical to embrace technology and find ways to create captivating and engaging shows. VoiceAmerica hosts have been using conference technology to create engagement with their listeners, guests, and other hosts to ensure they’re creating educational and entertaining content,” said Ryan Treasure, VP of Broadcast Operations at VoiceAmerica. 


COVID-19 changed the world for many businesses and industries with limited contact and plans to work from home for the foreseeable future. Many businesses will continue to grow and adapt to use radio, podcasts, and streaming as a source of advertisement, engagement, and education.

About VoiceAmerica

VoiceAmerica, the pioneer of digital radio programming since 1999, is the original digital broadcast company for the production and delivery of Live Internet Talk Radio programming and continues to be an industry leader in Live Internet Talk, podcast audio creation, production, and distribution. VoiceAmerica creates and distributes over 500 unique and innovative radio programs that engage millions of listeners worldwide. Five diverse VoiceAmerica network channels distribute live programs daily that reach a growing domestic and international audience. 

Listen live at VoiceAmerica Variety, VoiceAmerica Business, VoiceAmerica Health,  VoiceAmerica Empowerment, VoiceAmerica Influencers, and on our Apple and Android devices. 

Follow VoiceAmerica on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. To learn how to become a host or sponsor on, call 1-855-877-4666.  

VoiceAmerica | Become a Host | Advertise with us | About VoiceAmerica

“I did the math!”

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“I did the math!”

Early in the morning, before sunrise, in the eastern sky, and close to the horizon, a very bright star shines!  Well, the truth is, the “morning star” is not a star, it’s the planet Venus.  In the quiet morning moments before sunrise, Venus shines alone.

How much light is needed to command our attention?   I did the math:  The sun is 600 million times brighter than Venus.  Yet in the predawn morning, the morning star, shining alone, can fully engage our consciousness.

Martin Luther King Jr. compared light to love when he said:  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.   Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”

And Mohandas Gandhi compared light to life itself, when he observed: “In the midst of death, life persists.  In the midst of darkness, light persists.”

How much light is needed to command our attention?

How Much Suffering?

How Much Worry?

How Much Joy?

How Much Appreciation, is needed to command our attention?

I did the math: It’s A single thought.  A Single Thought can fill our consciousness!

I remember something I learned from one of my heroes,   Viktor Frankl, that even a Tiny Gratitude, a “trifling thing” he called it, could fill our consciousness!

Viktor spent much of World War II in  concentration camps where he was subjected to unimaginable hardships:  Disease,  Deprivation, Degradation, Unrelenting Hatred!  He survived the war and later wrote about the ordeal.

He wrote about how he drew constantly on human capacities for optimism and humor, inner solitude and hope,  and a steely resolve to live.

Most important, he said  “No matter what happened, I retained the freedom to choose how to respond to my suffering.”

He compared a person’s suffering to the behavior of a gas:

“If you pump a certain amount of gas into a container it fills the container completely and evenly, no matter how big the container.

In the same way suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little.”

I reckon that what is true for suffering must also then be true for other things.

How Much Worry?

How Much Joy?

How Much Appreciation, is needed to command our attention?

I did the math: It’s A single thought.

I am grateful to Viktor Frankl for being the inspiration to my aspiration.  Here’s what I mean:

After the war Viktor was awarded honorary degrees from 29 universities, and wrote dozens of books including Man’s Search for Meaning,

Once, he was asked to express in a single sentence the meaning of his own life.

He wrote the response on paper and asked his students to guess what he had written.

Presently, a student replied: “The meaning of your life is to help others find the meaning of theirs”.

“That was it, exactly”   Said Viktor Frankl, “Those are the very words I had written.”

I hope this has been meaningful for you.  Please let me know what you think.


Covid-19: August Update with Regina Phelps

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Covid-19: August Update with Regina Phelps

Join me Thursday, August 20/20 for my monthly chat with Regina Phelps, as we continue to talk about the latest happenings with Covid-19. We’ll touch on things such as the latest virus numbers and status, vaccines and therapeutics, the upcoming school year, and considerations when experiencing a second crisis during the pandemic.
Insightful as always!

LOVE LIGHT Guest Testimonial

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“It was a privilege to be a guest of Dr. Jean Marie Farish on the VoiceAmerica World Talk Radio Empowerment Show/LOVE LIGHT. From start to finish, Dr. Farish was sincerely engaging and evoked a loving curiosity about my journey and the ancient Hawaiian healing practices that helped me to heal. Dr. Farish provides a safe arena for authors to project their Light and Joy out into the world.”Thank you kindly.BelindaFarrell  (USA)Author of  “FindYourFriggin‘ Joy”,CertifiedMasterHypnotherapistNLPMasterPractitionerHunaPractitionerandReconnectiveHealingPractitioner
Find Your JoyAugust 14, 2020

How to Become an Incredible Virtual Leader

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How to Become an Incredible Virtual Leader

To receive the Innovative Leadership Institute weekly blogs via email, please sign-up here.


This blog is provided by Ashley Halsey, as a companion to the interview with Greg Moran and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Evolving Leadership to Navigate Significant Disruption that aired on August 18th, 2020.


Working during these surreal times of COVID-19 has meant that many businesses have implemented remote working into their daily operations. This means holding virtual meetings, working from home, and trying to keep things going as straight as possible. However, when you’re leading a remote team virtually, there are a lot of difficulties you wouldn’t come across in the traditional way of working.

It can be a challenge to be a successful virtual leader, especially if it’s something you haven’t done before. To help you be as successful as possible; here are the tricks and tips every virtual leader needs to know.


Respect the Times

As a leader, you need to be aware that these are unprecedented times, and people are going through challenging circumstances. Balancing the work-home life while staying at home will be difficult for many and adjusting to these new ways of working will take time, even for months to come.

Being a successful leader means respecting and understanding and having patience for these difficulties, and then being proactive in helping your team through all the difficulties and hopefully make the best of this situation.

“You can do this by setting aside time to talk to staff as a group and individually so you can help them describe the obligations and challenges they’re facing, and then you’ll be able to address them and work with your team to provide solutions that work on an individual basis,” explains John Hammond, a leadership blogger at Draft Beyond and Researchpapersuk.


Making Sure People are Punctual

Timekeeping in remote working is still just as important as it is in the traditional working environment. Being punctual promotes a trusting culture within your team and helps to bring everyone together. If someone is late or people are casual when arriving to meetings, this can cause divides between people and your team dynamic will fall apart very quickly.

However, there are plenty of ways a virtual leader can incorporate and nurture this kind of culture. Firstly, make sure you’re laying down the rules quickly that people need to be attending meetings when the time is set. There shouldn’t be any kind of leeway on times.

Then, you need to make sure your meetings have agendas that can be followed to ensure that everyone knows what’s being spoken about, and you can stick to a time frame that works. If your company has back-to-back meetings, it may be worth booking 50-minute time slots for meetings, so people can get up and have a ten-minute break before heading into the next meeting of the day.

Remember, people will be late for some meetings. Life simply gets in the way, so think about how you’re going to deal with this. Communicate the problems that come with being consistently late, and the process of what will happen if the problem continues.


Spice Things Up Over the Long-Term

When you’re sitting in virtual meetings or in front of a computer screen all day, things can get boring very quickly, so as a leader, it’s up to you to get creative with how you can make meetings more interesting. For example, you might set up a small fun part of the meeting first that gets everyone to have some kind of input.

On a basic level, you might go around the group and get them to describe something they’ve been up too outside of work, or in the previous meeting, get them to prepare something for the start of the next meeting, such as a positive quote, or saying something they’re grateful for.

“Just like you would with team-building days or going to a bar after work, you may want to hold a virtual social meetup, where you could do something like have a fun quiz, or even asking a little question for everyone to give fun answers too. One of my favourites is Mug Monday, where everyone shows the coffee mug they’re drinking from,” shares Tina Harrison, a business writer at Writinity and Last Minute Writing.


Be Adaptable to Positive Change

Just because every other business in the world seems to be using Zoom to host their virtual meetings, that doesn’t mean you have too. From Microsoft Teams to Slack, you need to make sure you’re trialling different ways of working to see what approach works best for you and your team.

This doesn’t just stop at the video conferencing software you’re using. From cloud services to instant messaging apps, think about the solutions you’re using and how you can make things better for everyone involved. Of course, you don’t want to change things all the time, but rather have test sessions and then get feedback from your team so you can iron out the creases of virtual working.


To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.


About the Author

Ashley Halsey is a business consultant and writer at Essay Writing Services and GumEssays who has been proactive in helping businesses adjust to the current COVID-19 climate. Mother of four children, she enjoys travelling, reading and attending virtual business training courses.

Be a Super Hero…Wear a Mask!

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Be a Super Hero…Wear a Mask!

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Read at



masked little girl 2“You are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Christopher Robin 


MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN, Founder/Executive Director

Cynthia Brian-Mask-HatHow are you doing in our 8th month of this horrid pandemic? Are you wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding crowds, washing your hands, and being responsible?

If not, please heed this message because Covid-19 is a devastating disease that will negatively affect you and those you love.

As of August 11, global Covid-19 cases have doubled from 10 million to 20,395,035 million, and those are only the cases that are reported. It is estimated that the numbers are at least 10 times those that are reported. The death toll is 741,807. It took 6 months for cases to reach 10 million and only 6 weeks to reach 20 million. Half of those cases are in just 3 countries-the United States, India, and Brazil. California, Texas, Florida, and New York lead the pack with confirmed cases over 500,000 and thousands of deaths.

If you read this newsletter, my blogs, or listen to our radio shows, you know that since March 11, my office has been closed and I have been sheltering-in-place with only occasional quick visits to the post office while wearing a mask, gloves, glasses, and a hat. My husband’s office was also closed and only reopened the end of June after he purchased all the pandemic protection equipment including masks, shields, gloves, gowns, goggles, security dividers, thermometers, sanitizers, specialized air filters, mouth rinses. He and his staff follow a very strict protocol for working with patients as do medical professionals everywhere.

We have all experienced our favorite salon, restaurant, pub, gym, bank, or store reopening only to be shuttered because an employee gets sick with Covid-19. It’s heartbreaking for the patrons and financially disastrous for the owners and employees.

I witnessed this recently when a close friend’s company was impacted.

Two weeks ago, an employee fell ill. Seven days later the office was informed that this employee tested positive for Covid-19. The business had to immediately close, all staff and their families had to be tested, all clients informed, and contact tracing begun. Because of a back-log at the labs, results from tests can take anywhere from 4-14 days. In this case, seven days elapsed. Everyone was instructed to stay home until a negative result was determined. Fortunately for my friend, his staff, and all their contacts, the test results were negative so work could be resumed within 12 days. But that was 12 days without income or services.

This is occurring everywhere around the country as businesses attempt to re-open. However, when even one person tests positive with Covid-19 in the workplace, the business must close. No one can go to work.  The one positive infection exponentially affects hundreds, perhaps thousands of individuals and businesses. Many people live with several generations and everyone has to be tested and traced. Family members and friends become angry about the possibility of exposure, especially when many are being so careful. Everyone is losing out on earning a living. Many people live pay check to pay check and missing work for a week or more could mean ruin.

Even though every protocol is adhered to in a workplace, an employer can’t dictate what an employee does on her/his private hours. But there is one thing that everyone can easily do to curb the spread and that is to wear a mask when in public.

The power and potency of wearing a mask and social distancing can not be over emphasized. Wearing a mask is NOT a political gesture, it is the responsible action. Covid-19 strikes everyone and anyone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that if everyone wore a mask throughout the United States for the next few months, over 40,000 lives could be saved.

The volatile political landscape is fraught with misinformation. Contrary to what some politicians have claimed, Covid-19 is not going away, in fact, it is ramping up. The disease knows no boundaries. It doesn’t care what political party you belong to, what religion you practice, or where you live. It is an equal opportunity infector with people of color and lower-income households heavily hit. If you are gathering with groups and not wearing protective gear, you are risking your health and maybe your life as well the lives of those you love. Pay attention to evidence based health experts and scientists. Get your information from the CDC, not from social media or the campaign trail.

As coronavirus surges, labs are struggling to keep up with testing. Having to wait for a week to 14 days for results renders a test useless to prevent transmission. The CDC states that currently we are identifying only 1 in 10 cases because we are testing so few people. Currently no vaccine is available to prevent coronavirus Covid-19. To bring the pandemic under control we need rapid testing. We need to be able to test daily or weekly without cost and receive results within an hour or at most, 24 hours. Only then can we safely send our children to school and reopen our economy. The federal government must step up its leadership to safely ensure that we can go to work and gather. For now, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed.

Are you old enough to remember cars without seatbelts? I am. Our family of seven would pile into a truck or a station wagon and there wasn’t a seat belt in sight. At first when seat belts were introduced, a public outcry occurred. But today, I wouldn’t dare get into any vehicle without first buckling up.

Closer to home, you’ve probably engaged in a Zoom or SKYPE call for personal or business reasons. You could easily wear a lovely shirt or blouse on the top part of your body while your bottom is wearing underwear. But if you need to go to the market, I bet you add a pair of pants or a skirt! Right?

This autumn, major designers are adding masks to their haute couture lines. Whether or not there will be runway shows, you will be seeing coordinating outfits with a mask to match. Masks are going to be the next hot trend for looking hip, cool, and well-dressed.

Covid-19 is a non-partisan pandemic and it is at our doorstep. For accurate information visit

Put a smile on your face and start viewing masks as a beautiful, life-saving accessory.


Remember, super heroes wear masks. 

You, too, can be a superhero. Cape not necessary!

Be brave, be smart, be strong. Do your part. WEAR A MASK!

Living with gratitude and wearing a mask,

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556



jonathan jackson-headshotOur newest and youngest reporter on Express Yourself! is 13 year old Jonathan Jackson who will be showcasing a segment called Jay’s Sports World beginning on September 13th.  Be on the lookout for this new talent.

Hello, My name is Jonathan Jackson. I am 13 years old and from California. I enjoy playing sports and spending quality time with my friends and family. Basketball has always had a special place in my life. It is not only recreational for myself but it’s also mental and emotional . I like to compete and I love to show my passion for both the game and its history.  I have always had a natural curiosity towards all sports.  This has created a desire to become a future sports journalist . I am a student athlete that is trying to maintain a 4.0 GPA. This will help to achieve my dream of going to UCLA and joining their journalism program. I love to talk, and I guarantee you will love my show!

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Siri Phaneendra-8-2020by Siri Phaneendra

Eradicating the coronavirus involves a team effort and the cooperation of everyone. It is imperative for us to come together in unity against calamity.

As Greek philosopher Aristotle emphasized, ‘Society is something that precedes the individual.’ It is not about you and me — it is about humanity. Even if one life can be saved, isn’t it our moral obligation to wear a mask? The efficacy of wearing a mask can only be enhanced when every individual in the vicinity makes a conscious effort to do so.

The asymptotic nature of the virus causes it to exponentially spread like a forest fire. Let’s not add fuel to the fire by protecting ourselves and others. Spread love, not the virus.”

Siri Phaneendra studies Computer Science at UC Berkeley and is a recipient of the Cal Alumni Association Leadership Award. She is the founder of, a company that provides people a platform to express their love by creating physical books with customizable characters. Siri  is a host on Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio on the Voice America Network.



2016 Promo Banner bothshows-no picsAs part of our Be the Star You Are! Disaster Relief Outreach program (, StarStyle® Productions, LLC and Be the Star You Are!® are showcasing authors, artists, actors, poets, musicians, and many others, all of whom had had their gigs canceled and are out of work.

We believe in supporting creativity that provides escape and joy, especially during tough times.

Tune in to StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® on Wednesdays at 4pm PT for “Wednesdays with Writers and Performers” LIVE as well as our teen program, Express Yourself!™ airing on Sundays at 3pm PT for “Super Smart Sundays”

Both programs broadcast on the Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel and will be archived on that site.


by Angelica Paramoshin 

I remember the days of March that were so heavily flooded with normality. Crowds of individuals flocked towards train stations like classes of fish swimming through reefs. In the present day, we all crave that forgotten feeling of normality. We miss the days when we were able to peacefully stroll through the streets watching all forms of life flourish around us. Now that we are all stuck within the barriers of our homes, we cannot fathom what is to come.

Numerous individuals have struggled to assimilate into this newfound lockdown in quarantine and ultimately, have sunk into a never-ending whirlpool of emotional turmoil. As someone who is currently writing this from the confines of her room, I understand how mentally exhausting it can be having minimal social interaction with the people you were once inseparable from. People have forgotten to take care of their emotional well-being because their feelings of anxiety and fear of the unknown leave little space for glimmers of positivity and improvement.

Although we are living amongst the presence of a pandemic, we must continue to live for ourselves and not simply for the need to survive. Everyone deserves a day dedicated to themselves. Even reading a few pages of a novel you’ve been wanting to read, allows your mind and soul to flow through a river of serenity and peace. It is okay to take a step back and breathe. We are all on this mystical planet together and we will survive together.

Angelica Paramoshin currently is a rising senior in high school devoting her time during this pandemic to volunteering with Be the Star You Are!®. 



the reading tub logoOur Star Teen Book Review Team is busy reading and writing reviews for you to enjoy this summer. Reviews are honest and the personal experience of each writer. Check them out at our website,, and at our partner, The Reading Tub,

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


Since we need to stay at home and only go out when absolutely necessary, these are on-line shopping portals that will sell you what you need, offer discounts, and assist our mission as a nonprofit. Please use these web sites for all of your shopping essentials,

1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases

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2. Discounted books at Amazon:

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3. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash at 3500+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA:

& buy from your favorite stores.

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In Defense of Adversity

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In Defense of Adversity

Join me Sep 10/20 as I talk to Resilience and Emotional Intelligence expert Steve Gavatorta (who is also the author of ‘In Defense of Adversity: Turning Your Toughest Challenges into Your Greatest Success’. We’ll chat about Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, and how we can help make ourselves more resilient after encountering adverse situations.



Wizards: Tales of Arcadia * Guillermo del Toro’s New Series Will Enrapture Viewers

Posted by presspass on
Wizards: Tales of Arcadia * Guillermo del Toro’s New Series Will Enrapture Viewers

Wizards: Tales of Arcadia (or simply Wizards) is an American computer-animated fantasy limited series created by Guillermo del Toro, and produced by DreamWorks Animation Television and Double Dare You Productions. The series is the third and final installment of the Tales of Arcadia trilogy, following Trollhunters and 3Below, and was released on August 7, 2020 on Netflix. In the newest installment, wizard-in-training Douxie (Colin O’Donoghue) and the heroes of Arcadia embark for the control of magic that will determine the fate of those supernatural worlds that have now converged.


Tales of Arcadia first launched in 2016 with the Emmy-winning series Trollhunters, including a first-ever Emmy win for del Toro and Rodrigo Blaas for Outstanding Directing, followed by the second installment 3Below in 2018. On the surface, Arcadia appears to be a slice of timeless Americana, but it is no ordinary town. It lies at the center of magical and mystical lines that make it a nexus for many battles among otherworldly creatures including trolls, aliens and wizards.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Eshaan M. comments, “Guillermo del Toro’s new series Tales of Arcadia: Wizards will enrapture its viewers because of its high-quality animation, detailed emotional rollercoaster plot and strong script. The eight-time Emmy award-winning team behind this production creates a whole new fantasy world to dive into with the intricate CGI in this show—the mesmerizing floating castle of Camelot, incredible flying contraptions and futuristic technology complete the look. Designed with the utmost care, the many characters of this show are illustrated with clear lines and realistic coloring for skin, whether human or monstrous, hair, fangs and even fingernails—now that’s detail-oriented!” See his full review below.


Wizards: Tales of Arcadia

By Eshaan M., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14


Guillermo del Toro’s new series Wizards: Tales of Arcadia will enrapture its viewers because of its high-quality animation, detailed emotional rollercoaster plot and strong script. The eight-time Emmy award-winning team behind this production creates a whole new fantasy world to dive into with the intricate CGI in this show—the mesmerizing floating castle of Camelot, incredible flying contraptions and futuristic technology complete the look. Designed with the utmost care, the many characters of this show are illustrated with clear lines and realistic coloring for skin, whether human or monstrous, hair, fangs and even fingernails—now that’s detail-oriented! Now to the plot of Wizards: Tales of Arcadia. The main character in this TV show is Hisirdoux or Douxie, our favorite clumsy wizard-in-training. After a stand-off with the Arcane Order – an evil band of magicians led by the wily Morgana – goes wrong, the group of do-gooder wizards (Merlin and Hisirdoux, along with the Guardians of Arcadia: Claire, Toby, and Steve, as well as Archie and Jim) set off on a time-twisting adventure to the times of 12th-century Camelot.  The control of magic, the nature of all the supernatural worlds, and Hisirdoux’s status in his mentor’s eyes all lie in the balance.


The plot is intricate and crafted carefully – there are several plot twists along the way, and all of the characters are nuanced and lifelike. Well, the ones that aren’t monsters are lifelike. I found it very hard to peel my eyes away from the screen throughout the ten episodes! Surprisingly, for a fantasy series, I was unable to predict what would happen next!A highly talented and vaunted figure in television series lore, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, one of the many executive producers of the film, is well-known for his expertise in the industry. It shows in this TV series as well. Throughout the series, I found myself going through tears of joy and sadness, and cracking a super-wide smile at several parts. The script of Wizards, written by Andie Bolt, Ian Rickett and Lila Scott, was truly feature-film quality.

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Colin O’Donoghue plays Hisirdoux; I found “Douxie” to be possibly the most nuanced of all the characters, and O’Donoghue is excellent at portraying all the facets of his personality. Steven Yeun plays Steve on the show, and he portrays the clumsy jock with comedic genius. Lena Headey plays the conflicted Morgana with finesse. Those are my three favorite characters on the show, with Archie as a runner-up – you have to love the cat/dragon’s sarcastic commentary and incredible portrayal by Alfred Molina. Toby seems like an accessory character in this show and does not have much importance in lines or scenes.


There are several sweet messages incorporated throughout the show—messages of acceptance, perseverance, camaraderie and believing in yourself. The emotional development and maturing of Hisirdoux surely will cause you to shed a few tears as well, and you can’t help but be proud of Callista, a troll with an interesting secret, for stepping up and casting aside what other trolls thought of her.


I rate Wizards: Tales of Arcadia 4 stars out of 5 and recommend it to children aged 10 to 15. Wizards: Tales of Arcadia is coming to Netflix August 7, 2020!


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