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Full House

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
Full House

Plants for Indoor Space

“Having plants in your house is a natural way to continuously clear yourself!” Doreen Virtue

With another four weeks to go before the start of spring, turning our yearnings for gardening chores to our indoor spaces is ripe with opportunities. For many years we relied on the debunked 1989 NASA report that claimed that houseplants cleaned up to 87% of dangerous VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in our interior air. We thought if we filled our homes with a jungle of plants, we’d breathe easier and even prevent colds. Many scientists still agree that plants do remove pollutants through a process called absorption, although how much is debatable. Recent studies indicate that while a few plants won’t do much purification, a full wall of plants will.

The living walls that we witness at airports and fancy hotels are scenic and inspiring as they freshen the air for the numerous clientele that transit. Creating a living wall of plants and flowers in our homes is not feasible for most of us. Yet, there are other benefits to including plants in our interior designs.

Benefits of Plants Indoors

ü  Aesthetic Appeal: Plants add beauty to any room. Plants create a natural feeling, making the atmosphere more inviting and pleasant.

ü  Elevate Moods: Being around plants helps to reduce stress, improve moods, and boost cognitive function. Plants make people happy.

ü  Increased Oxygen Levels: Through the process of photosynthesis, plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.

ü  Therapeutic Benefits: Tending to plants, whether outdoors or indoors, is calming and meditative. We create a healthier environment that is pleasing to the senses.

ü  Enhanced Productivity and Creativity: Studies have shown that plants in a workplace or study area enrich concentration, sharpen attention, and reduce both physiological and psychological stress.

ü  Healing Properties: Looking at greenery when recovering from an illness or surgery helps speed recuperation. Research has focused on patients in hospitals, not in homes, but my personal experience demonstrates that transporting nature to the sickbed, speeds the healing process.

Before you bring plants into your home, make sure to choose varieties that are safe for children and pets. For a list of toxic plants, connect with the resources of the ASPCA and the National Poison Control Center. Some plants could be toxic if ingested, and others may cause skin reactions.

ASPCA website: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/a

National Poison Control website: https://www.poison.org/articles/plant

Goddess Gardener Recommended House Plants

Sadly, two of my favorite indoor plants that are easy to grow, attractive, and flourish for years are on the poisonous list: Peace Lily (known to be an air cleaner) and pothos (a great climber or trailer). Below I’m listing houseplant suggestions that I grow.  I leave it to you to double-check for toxicity that would affect your family or animals.

Beautiful, yet poisonous!
Pothos and Peace Lily

Orchid: I’ve never met an orchid that I didn’t love. The bad rap that orchids receive as being fussy is a myth. Basically, read the plant tag for best results, provide a few drops of water weekly, and ignore them. Mine are continuously reblooming.

Bromeliad: Super simple to grow, long-lasting, low maintenance, and minimal watering needs. Before the flower dies, the plant will produce offsets, called pups, around the base

Snake Plant: Referred to as “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue” tolerates low light and minimal moisture. This plant is almost impossible to kill.

Spider Plant: Known as the “Airplane Plant”, this plant is perfect for beginners. It’s easy to care for, produces long, cascading stems, and is great for hanging baskets or trained to a trellis.

Philodendron: Foliage comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Prefers moist soil and vines to eight feet or more.

Parlor Palm: Add a bit of the tropics to your office. Great in dim light. Only prune dead fronds. Don’t overwater.

Fiddle Leaf Fig: Slow growing to fifteen feet or more. This plant prefers east-facing windows. Water only when the top inch of the soil is dry and never feed during the winter months.

Aloe: Every home needs an aloe plant for medicinal purposes. If you get a burn or a cut, snip a piece of aloe to soothe the area. Aloes prefer to be root-bound in sandy soil and require very little water.

Croton: Growing in warm, humid climates outdoors, crotons may reach eight feet, but indoors, they offer an explosion of color in a small pot when ideal temperatures above 60 degrees are maintained. Place pebbles with water under the pot to increase humidity.

These favorites are all relatively low maintenance and will thrive in a variety of environments. They are terrific choices for beginner indoor gardeners as well as those with more experience. As always, when you make a purchase, carefully read the plant instructions tag and follow directions. The number one cause of house plants failing to succeed is overwatering.

No matter what your lifestyle, add a touch of hassle-free greenery to your home and enjoy a full house of indoor nature to keep you happy, healthy, and gardening rain or shine.  

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

 Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1626/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Full-house.html

Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Her newest children’s picture book, No Barnyard Bullies, from the series, Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures is available now at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store  For an invitation to hang out with Cynthia for fun virtual events, activities, conversations, and exclusive experiences, buy StarStyle® NFTs at https://StarStyleCommunity.com

Cynthia is available for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com  http://www.GoddessGardener.com

©copyright 2023 Text and photos Cynthia Brian ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

JuneTeenth-Freedom Day

Posted by presspass on
JuneTeenth-Freedom Day

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Read the newsletter: http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/672296/2c1f13214d/288055965/bbd34d3431/

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“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” Martin Luther King Jr.

MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN, Founder/Executive Director

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, marks the end of slavery in the South on June 19, 1865. As PBS proclaims, “in this sixth month of the non-stop stunner that is 2020, the country finds itself in a period of education and reckoning of the racism embedded in its birth.”

I write this message to apologize for using the “color blind” analogy in our previous newsletter. After sending out the newsletter to share solidarity, a few of our dedicated BTSYA volunteers politely emailed to inform me that the use of the words “color blind” is offensive in todays vernacular. (You may read excerpts below) I thank these brave individuals for their courage to stand up, express themselves, and educate all of us,

specifically me. One of my mottos has always been “Failure is fertilizer. Throw your mistakes on the compost pile and grow a new garden.” I made a mistake and from that I learned so much. I am sorry.

We are living in unprecedented times and the world is in chaos with Covid-19 and the largest wave of civil unrest since the 1960s, spurred by outrage over police brutality and racism. Here at Be the Star You Are!® we are INCLUSIVE. We don’t tolerate bigotry, racism, or any other negative attitude towards any race, religion, gender, culture, or viewpoint. We stand together as a colorful united family of brothers and sisters from many different countries and backgrounds. Take a peek at our website,https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org or our teen radio show athttp://www.expressyourselfteenradio.com and you’ll see that our volunteers represent the nations of the world. We are very proud to stand for freedom and equality for all.

My acting union, SAG-AFTRA released the following statement from President Gabrielle Carteris and National Executive Director David P. White on the murder of George Floyd. It states more eloquently what we at Be the Star You Are!® believe so I share this with you.

“The murder of George Floyd is deeply emblematic of a corrosive inequality and injustice at the heart of America. As protests spread across the country it is not enough to condemn injustice. It’s not enough to demand change. We must recognize that racism lives in our culture and only we can change that. We must speak up in the face of injustice and fight back against the indignities our fellow citizens face every day. We must be defenders and allies. We must be better than this.The ugly truth is that Mr. Floyd’s killing was one among many murders of black people over many years. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Jr., Marsha P. Johnson, Emmett Till, and the list goes painfully on and on stretching back for centuries. It must end. Black lives do matter.”

Again, I apologize if the newsletter offended, Please forgive me. It was never my intention to be offensive in any way.

There is no room for bigotry, brutality, or racism in our world. We are all on a learning curve and open to all feedback. Although we are all sailing together in this time of pandemic, I recognize that we are not in the same boat.

This is a time to be kind. To help one another. To be inclusive. We will not tolerate injustice. When we embrace diversity we increase peacefulness. Let’s remember that love always wins when kindness prevails. Smiles will keep us happy.

Juneteenth is not currently recognized as a Federal holiday but by celebrating it, we take one step forward towards reconciliation and the fight for freedom for all.

We want to hear from you. How do you demonstrate that Black Lives Matter? We’re interested in your thoughts and actions. Send your comments (less than 50 words) to our Kindness Coordinator, Karen Kitchel at karenkitchel@comcast.net by June 30. We will include a variety of responses (first name only) in our July newsletter.

I know I’m going to make many more mistakes. We all will. But let’s learn and grow from them. We are COLOR BRAVE!

Be strong, be brave, be safe.

And don’t forget to also celebrate Father’s Day on June 21. A salute to all the great dads of every color and creed.

In solidarity,

Cynthia Brian
Founder/Executive Director
Be the Star You Are!®
PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556 Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org http://www.BTSYA.org

DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


“I’m emailing you now about the newsletter I recently received that was titled Become Color Blind. I understand the need to be in unity in this fight against institutional racism and police brutality, so I do appreciate your response on this. But I feel that asking everyone to “become color blind” is counterproductive and incredibly tone deaf in light of recent events.

Saying you are color blind says that you ignore the fact that oppression/racism exists for people of color like me. As recent events have shown, we are all not treated equally, unfortunately. I in no way mean to attack you, but this was something I found to be offensive. Put short, I feel there are better ways voicing your support.

Here is a video that might help explain some of what I said
better. https://www.ted.com/talks/mellody_hobson_color_blind_or_color_brave Sincerely,
Anika ”

“I admire all of the work you do in order to enrich the lives of young people. I received your email earlier this week regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and in it you stated that your organization is ‘Color Blind’, I know this statement is not meant to have malice or be hurtful. So I felt obligated to explain why this popular statement is damaging and can make people of color feel uncomfortable.

I am Latina and for me this statement, while well intentioned, can feel as if my unique experiences with being Mexican are overlooked. We can no longer be colorblind, we must recognize people’s experiences and understand that someone who is Black has had a different experience than someone who is Asian. To say that your organization is ‘Color Blind’ diminishes the experiences of POC. While we all bleed the same blood we are all experiencing a different reality, while some of us may never struggle because of the color of our skin others will have to live in fear because of theirs. And these differences need to be acknowledged. What you must strive for instead is to not be color blind, but to be actively Anti-Racist. Being anti-racist means that you are actively acknowledging other experiences while educating yourself on how to be a better ally. We must realize and digest how Black people in our country carry the weight of hundreds of years of systematic oppression and learn how to fight for a system that values Black lives. Color blind and anti-racist are not interchangeable and while one diminishes the existence of oppression and experience the other acknowledges oppression and actively tries to counteract it.

I wanted to contact you to explain this because I know that your email had the best intentions and did not mean to diminish any experiences. I am very happy to see your organization be so accepting and so against discrimination. I wanted to mention that I mean no disrespect in sending this email to you and solely wanted to let you know how this term has changed and evolved. I understand that the words I use today when it comes to fighting against discrimination will be replaced in the future with other terms better suited for the fight against racism. I am very happy that I worked with a group that has taken a firm stance on this issue and I wish you all the best.

If my definition was not very clear here are some resources that may explain it better than I could:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/10/05/white-parents-teach-their-children-be- colorblind-heres-why-thats-bad-everyone/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culturally-speaking/201112/colorblind-ideology- is-form-racism

Thank you for reading this and hearing my perspective in this issue. Best,


Don’t live your life by default, live by design.


Passions into Profits Women’s Summit

Hosted by Jane Applegath at http://JaneApplegath.com.

Summit begins on June 20th, 2020 with a special guest featured each day .Be the heroine of your own epic life. Watch and learn from a league of leaders and trailblazers to help you to lead a life you love. Your dreams can be your reality!

Cynthia Brian is the featured guest on June 25th. FREE registration.


As part of our Be the Star You Are! Disaster Relief Outreach program (https://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of- operation-hurricane-disaste), Be the Star You Are!® has collaborated with the Authors Guild to showcase the new books launched by many authors from around the country in a variety of genres. We will also be showcasing artists, actors, and musicians, all of whom had had their gigs canceled and are out of work. We believe in supporting creativity and believe that books, art, music, and film provide escape and

joy, especially during tough times. For the next few months, make sure you are tuned in to both StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® on Wednesdays at 4pm PT for “Writers Wednesdays” LIVE http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are as well as our teen program, Express Yourself!TM airing on Sundays at 3pm PT for “Super Smart Sundays”, https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

Both programs broadcast on the Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel and will be archived on that site as well as iTunes, Stitcher, etc. It’s a giant artistic festival!


Our 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,
you-are/. Many thanks to our Book Review Coordinator, Stephanie Cogeos, for keeping us on track. If you are interested in joining our team, you can find the info athttp://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html,.


Need a gift for Dad, birthdays, graduations, weddings, or just for yourself? These are on- line shopping portals that will sell you what you need, offer discounts, and assist our mission as a nonprofit. Please use these web sites for all of your shopping essentials,

1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882
2. Discounted books at
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity
3. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash at 3500+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA:https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the- star-you-are-inc

& buy from your favorite stores.
4. Search and GoodShop: Choose Be the Star You Are as your charity to support. You can log in with Facebook, too! https://www.goodshop.com/nonprofit/be-the-star-you-are 5. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE: http://www.iGive.com/BTSYA

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

Positive Results: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/positive-results About Us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/about_us
Programs: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/programs
How to Help: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/how-to-help

Blog: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/blog-1
Events: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/events
Contact us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/contact
GREAT NON PROFITS REVIEWS: https://greatnonprofits.org/org/be-the-star-you-are-inc GUIDESTAR/CANDID: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/94-3333882

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

Celebrate Freedom Day! &

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556 Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org


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Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556

FireScaping for Survival

Posted by presspass on
FireScaping for Survival

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“Some say the world will end in fire.” Robert Frost

A running crown fire came rolling down the hillside toward our Lake County mountain cabin, moving faster than any human could run. All exits were blocked. Trees vaporized.  Sixteen civilians trapped in the valley were being gathered in the meadow around our house. This acre of lush green grass would be the safety zone, everyone’s last hope of survival. Ninety firefighters had been spread out along the roads, trails, and hillsides in the fire’s path. Their orders were to stay put until the fire was upon them, then to light a backfire and escape to our meadow.

The energy released was a hundred times that of a normal forest fire, with an explosive force nearing the intensity of a small atomic bomb. Everyone prayed. My sister and her husband said their goodbyes. Death seemed seconds away. Besides being a farmer, our Dad had been Captain of our volunteer fire department for forty-six years. Dad built the safety zone.  “Daddy,” my sister prayed, “please don’t let us die like this.”

Then, almost imperceptibly, the roar began to diminish. The fire continued to rage for fourteen days in nearby canyons, ultimately burning over eighty-two thousand acres. At the time, it was the second-worst firestorm in United States history, the subject of national training videos for firefighters and showcased on an episode of the TV series, 20/20. 

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I chronicled this epic true story in my book, Be the Star You Are!® 99 Gifts for Living, Loving, Laughing, and Learning to Make a Difference. The chapter is appropriately titled The Gift of Survival. (First Editions available from http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store). 

When a town called Paradise is transformed into burning hell incinerating everything in its path within twenty-four hours and becoming the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California and United States history, it is prudent for Lamorindans to make fire safety a priority.

A few months ago readers reached out to me asking if I would write an article on how to landscape with fire prevention in mind. They had contacted  their local Fire Chief to find out how to become a Fire Wise neighborhood. Being fire wise is dependent on everyone in a neighborhood being diligent about keeping their property fire safe because fires do not honor property lines. If one home’s landscape is pristine and the neighbor next door has overgrown bushes, brush, or low hanging trees, all of the properties become indefensible.

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The area where I live is rural, wooded, and has minimal escape routes. Many of the plants and trees growing throughout our area are highly flammable including pines, cypress, cedar, fir, bamboo, acacia, juniper, Pampas grass, rosemary, ivy, arborvitae, miscanthus, and eucalyptus. Heat moves up and many homes are on hills. Fire speed and severity is stronger on slopes where vegetation management is crucial.

Just as there is no such thing as a deer-proof plant, a fire-proof plant is a myth. Under the right conditions, every plant will burn. Referring to a plant as “fire safe” means that it tends not to be a significant fuel source by itself. Some plants chemical compositions resist heat and combustion. It is critical to keep plants around our homes well maintained and pruned as a fire protection tool. The closer plants are to the house, the more care is needed. 

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Firescaping is simply a landscape design that reduces house and property vulnerability to wildfire. While enhancing the beauty of the property, we surround the house with plants that are less likely to ignite and create a defensible space. 

Characteristics of Highly Flammable Flora

  • ϖ Dry and dead leaves, twigs, branches
  • ϖ Abundant, dense foliage
  • ϖ Needles
  • ϖ Low moisture foliage
  • ϖ Peeling, loose bark
  • ϖ Gummy sap
  • ϖ Leathery or aromatic leaves
  • ϖ High resin, terpene, or oil content
  • ϖ High, uncut or dry grasses

Characteristics of Fire-Resistant Flora

  • ϖ Hardy, slow growing plants that don’t produce litter or thatch
  • ϖ Native plants that are drought tolerant with internal high water content. Generally, California natives are more tolerant of deer and fire. 

(see Nature’s Natives: April 17, 2019, https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1304/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-April-Natures-Natives.html)

  • ϖ Trees with thick bark that restrict the growth of invasive shrub species and hardwood trees such as walnut, cherry, maple, and poplar are less flammable. Deciduous trees and shrubs are generally more fire resistant because they have a higher moisture content when in leaf, lower fuel volume when dormant, and usually do not contain flammable oils.
  • ϖ Supple, moist leaves with little to no sap or resin residue.
  • ϖ Low growing ground covers.
  • ϖ Bulbs.bright pink tulips.jpg

How to Create a Fire-Resistant Landscape:

  • ϖ Include fire-resistant features such as pavers, bricks, pavement, gravel, rocks, mulch, dry creek beds, fountains, ponds, pools, and lawns. Water features including ponds, streams, and pools can be helpful fuel breaks.
  • dry creek rierbed.jpg
  • ϖ Select high moisture plants that grow close to the ground with a low sap and resin content. (See an included list of plants, shrubs, and trees)
  • ϖ Maintain all plants and lawns. Clover, groundcovers, and grasses that are kept low and green through irrigation are excellent alternatives. Mow, prune, water, and space appropriately.
  • ϖ Leave space between plants.
  • ϖ Minimize the inclusion of evergreen trees within thirty feet of structures. Clear debris and understory. Have clearance of all trees within twenty feet of chimneys. 
  • ϖ Remove invasive species or swaths of flammable plants including ivy, rosemary, broom, and juniper.
  • ϖ Moist mulch, rocks, or gravel can be used for firescaping. (Bark and leaf mulch can ignite unless sufficiently wet. Usage not recommended near structures.)
  • ϖ When planting trees, identify the tree size at maturity. 
  • ϖ Prune trees carefully to remove the possibility of fire laddering.
  • ϖ Arrange plantings in clusters and islands, with those near structure being smaller. 
  • ϖ Consider the combustibility of decorative features such as gazebos, fences, sheds, porches, and junk areas.  Keep appropriate clearance to reduce the threat of burning embers.
  • ϖ Bare ground is not recommended due to soil erosion.
  • Lawn .jpg

General Rules of Fire Safety

HEED the checklist from our local fire departments to create a defensible space around your home.  To reiterate fire district recommendations:

  • ϖ Prevent embers from igniting your home by clearing leaves, needles, and debris from gutters, eaves, porches, and decks.
  • ϖ Mow grasses and weeds.
  • ϖ Keep your garden watered.
  • ϖ Prune tree limbs to keep the lowest branches 6-10 feet from the ground.
  • ϖ Reduce “fire fuel laddering” by not allowing bushes or trees to touch one another.
  • ϖ Keep combustible materials 15-30 feet away from structures.
  • ϖ Maintain your property and be alert for any fire danger.

Through proper plant selection, placement, and maintenance, we are able to diminish the possibility of ignition, lower fire intensity, and reduce the spread, helping our homes to survive the blaze.  A fire-resistant landscape reduces the risk to our homes while enabling firefighters a place to defend our structures.

Helpful Websites:

National Fire Protection Association: https://www.nfpa.org

Fire Safe Marin (We are not in Marin, but this is a great resource): http://www.firesafemarin.org

Pacific Northwest Fire Resistant Plants: http://www.firefree.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Fire-Resistant-Plants.pdf

University of California Cooperative Extension: https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/Prepare/Landscaping/Plant_choice/

Las Pilitas Nursery (although this nursery is in Santa Margarita it has the best website that gives burn times for various plants. Plus it also has deer resistant information as well.)https://www.laspilitas.com/easy/deerfire.htm

Sign Up for Alerts:

Alerts for Your Specific Area: http://www.nixle.com


Sample Listing of Plants that are Fire-Resistant

(I reiterate, NO PLANT is fire-proof. Maintenance, pruning, watering, spacing, location are all extremely important elements for fire safety.)

Bulbs (tulips, daffodils, iris, hyacinth, freesia, etc. Cut stalks to the ground when leaves are dry)

California redbud









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Wild strawberry

Common yarrow

French lavender


lilac begins to bloom.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1305/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-May-FireScaping.html



California lilac

Society garlic


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Yellow or Purple ice plant

Creeping phlox




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Trumpet Vine


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Red hot poker


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Lamb’s ear



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Evening primrose






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Mock orange

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Horse chestnut

Liquid Amber

Honey locust


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Purple robe locust

Fruit trees (varieties of cherry, plum, pear, peach, apricot)

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Black oak






Manzanita (prune without dead wood)

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Harry Houdini wrote, “Fire has always been and seemingly, will always remain, the most terrible of the elements.”  Use your common sense. If you need additional help, consult a professional. Contact your fire department for a Fire Wise walk.

Fires are in our future. Hopefully, we won’t require a green meadow safety zone for survival, yet we need to be prepared. Make firescaping an ongoing conversation. 

In the meantime, get out to weed, water, prune, and maintain. Do what you can to be fire safe.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

See photos and read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1305/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-May-FireScaping.html

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. 

Cynthia Brian-Fire Garden Hat.jpg

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

Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.



Donate to Fire Disaster Relief via Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 at www.BethestarYouAre.org


Nature’s Natives

Posted by presspass on
Nature’s Natives

California poppy.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1304/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-April-Natures-Natives.html

by Cynthia Brian

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

Witnessed from outer space this spring, a pageant of splendor burst into bloom on hillsides, in fields, chaparrals, and desert environs. The “super blooms” of Southern California captivated hearts and cameras. Northern California is exhibiting a bountiful season of blue lupines, orange poppies, and gardens filled with flowers, just not to the degree of our neighbors to the south.

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Although weeds are described as plants growing where we don’t want them, weeds are in proliferation after our continual wet days. Wild cut leaf geranium resembles a ground cover when small with tiny pink petals, yet it is a weed that needs to be pulled before it scatters seeds. Hand removal of invasive grasses is also necessary as they create fire danger while outcompeting native flora for light, water, space, and food.


More than 18,000 plant species are native to the United States and approximately 6000 species are endemic to California. To be considered a true California native, the plants must have grown here before the late 18th century when the Europeans arrived. Our state flower, the California poppy, as well as lupines, fuchsias, and other “natives” were actually first cultivated in the gardens of Europe, yet we have adopted them as our own. We are blessed to grow numerous flora inhabitants from the Mediterranean that have acclimated to our mild four seasons and adapted to our clay soil. I have termed these friends, such as lavender and acanthus, “the new natives” as I like to include them in my garden designs. 

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Natives are drought tolerant after they have been established, although they will require water if the weather has been exceptionally dry. They are wildlife attractors bringing songbirds, lizards, salamanders, butterflies, frogs, hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators into the landscape.  Minimal maintenance is required without dependence on pesticides or fertilizers. Top dressing all plants with mulch to maintain a constant temperature while reducing erosion and temperature fluctuations is advantageous.

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For year-round interest, select a variety of natives that bloom during each of the twelve months. Wildflowers are fussy as transplants therefore for a spring show, sow seeds in the fall to allow the winter water to promote a strong root system. Plants with tiny seeds can live dormant in the underground seed bank for 80 years or more depending on the optimum conditions to coax them above ground to flower, fruit, and set seed. 

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A Sampling of Favorite California Natives 

Trees, Grasses 


Western Red Bud












Blue-eyed grass




Reed grass

Wild Rye

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Shrubs, Plants, Flowers


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Ceanothus (California Lilac)







California poppy




Blue Dicks

Morning glory


Wild rose

Wild grape


Wood Strawberry

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Matilija Fried Egg Plant

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Native Perennials to the United States



Black-eyed Susan

Butterfly Weed


Creeping Phlox

Bee Balm








Bluestar Grass



Blazing Star 




Trumpet vine


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These are just a few of the thousands of natives you can discover at your nursery. A large variety of succulents and cacti are also available. It is important to remember that every plant is native to someplace. When choosing a species, you want to make sure it will grow well in your microclimate.

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Because natives have adapted to our land, they won’t struggle for survival. They are strong players requiring less work, water, and food as they work in harmony with our ecosystem. Natives are an advantageous addition to any garden as they support bees, butterflies, and birds, bringing beneficial insects and pollinators to our landscapes.

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide

BEWARE the tick. Ticks are attacking and they are not just on the deer. Keep your lawns mowed and the brush cleared.  Rid your yard of Japanese barberry as this invasive species is a haven for ticks. 

KEEP deer from nibbling your new sprouts by installing a nine to twelve-foot deer fence. Unfortunately, all of the natural remedies including soap, hair, sprinklers, whirlybirds, lights, and noise are not effective long term. 

RE-POT orchids in spring if they are root bound or the planting medium has broken down. Most orchids need to be repotted every two to three years. If you notice green root tips on plump white roots, it is time to divide. Re-pot in lightly packed fir bark or sphagnum moss using a container large enough to allow for two more years of growth.

DIMINISH spring allergies by always removing your shoes before entering your home.  Change your clothes, shower before bedtime to keep the pollen from gathering on your sheets. Ramp up your house cleaning efforts by dusting, vacuuming, and mopping often.

SHARPEN lawnmower blades for a cleaner cut. Stay off the grass if it has been raining as walking on wet grass damages the blades and the roots.

SNIP the flowers off bolting arugula, kale, lettuces, and other leafy vegetables to prevent the plants from going to seed. Add the flowers to salads, soups, and sauces or decorate your plates.


MARK your calendars: 

April 21 is Easter. Fill baskets for garden lovers with my book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener available with extra freebies at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store April 22 is Earth Day

April 28 is the Annual Wildlife Festival at Wagner Ranch www.fwrna.org/annual-wildlife-festival.html

May 11 is the Moraga Community Faire. Visit the Be the Star You Are!® booth to celebrate nature, books, and kids.www.bethestarBTSYA volunteers Moraga Fair-Cyn (1).jpg


Wishing you a hippity hoppity happy Bunny Day on Easter!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing,

Read more and see photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1304/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-April-Natures-Natives.html

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. 

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

Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

BE StarYouAre_Millennials to Boomers Cover.jpeg Cynthia Brian'Growing with the Goddess Gardener book copy.jpg

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.





Celebrating Volunteers

Posted by presspass on
Celebrating Volunteers

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Read the newsletter at http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/672296/f916a880b9/288055965/ac7221bc2f/

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Miracle Moment®

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” Muhammad Ali

A Message from Founder/Executive Director, Cynthia Brian

Besides adoring the beautiful flowers springing up in our gardens, April is dedicated to appreciating volunteers. Here at Be the Star You Are!®, we are proud of the service of our volunteers. 2019 marks the 20th year of being a 501c3 charity dedicated to empowering women, families, and youth through improved literacy and increased positive media messages, and we have much to celebrate and for which to be grateful. Throughout the years we have collaborated with volunteers from numerous countries around the globe besides working with thousands from various states in America. The majority of our crew are teens and young adults with a few adults sprinkled in the mix. 

Our Star Teen Book Review Team boasts the largest amount of volunteers, currently with 92 teens reading and writing reviews that our Book Review Coordinator, Stephanie Cogeos, uploads to our Book Review site at http://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html. Stephanie makes sure that format, fonts, and style are correct and that each review is worthy of the parents, librarians, teachers, and others who will read it. The book reviews are published at our literacy partner, The Reading Tub, where we are honored to have assisted in hitting their 3000 book review milestone. Make sure you check out the reviews: https://thereadingtub.org/books/be-the-star-you-are/

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Our two Radio Broadcasts, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® and Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio are setting new highs. StarStyle® has been broadcasting LIVE weekly since 1998 and Express Yourself!™ since 2011. Both programs are now on the Empowerment Channel at Voice America. Find out more information at http://www.StarStyleRadio.com. Forty one teens have become reporters and hosts through these innovative programs. 

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Operation Disaster Relief has become an ongoing outreach project since the devastating California fires of the past two years. Two of our teen radio hosts, Joven Hundal and Siri Phaneendra have been co-chairing this imperative service. Please consider donating to this worthy cause as we continue to help those affected by terrible disasters around the country. https://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-hurricane-fire-disaster-rel

Be the Star You Are!® volunteers are involved in numerous other outreach projects. Eighty-seven volunteers became published writers through their contributions in two of our signature books, Be the Star You Are! for Teens and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World. Buy the books with all money benefiting Be the Star You Are!® at http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store

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Find out more about our programs, events, positive results, and how to help at http://www.BetheStarYouare.org, 

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

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

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

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

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

Blog: http://www.bethestaryouare.org/blog

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

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

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

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

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

As an all-volunteer non profit, I, too, am a volunteer. And as a volunteer I agree with what Mahatma Gandhi said,  “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Be the Star You Are! is supported 100% by the generous donations of individuals like you. BTSYA has no state or federal contributions. We thank you in advance for making a donation in honor of a special occasion, someone you love, or just because.

Thank you to our volunteers. We all salute and honor you.

Happy Spring!

Heartfelt gratitude,

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556




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In our recent shipments to help the survivors of the town of Paradise who lost so much in the disastrous Camp Fires, Be the Star You Are!® wants to thank three main supporters who assisted us in getting much needed new books to the distribution center.

Our sincerest appreciation goes to:

David Hancock, Morgan James Publishing: https://www.morgan-james-publishing.com

Monique Muhlenkamp, New World Library: http://www.newworldlibrary.com

Diana Zimmerman, The Calabiyau Chronicles: https://www.kandide.com

Caring is sharing. Thank you David, Monique, and Diana.

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We are very proud of the work of all of our volunteers. We shine the spotlight on a few STARS who share their views on volunteering with BTSYA. 

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“I can say with certainty that joining Be the Star You Are! is the best decision of my life. This rare organization not only does good work for the community, but also actively promotes its volunteers and affords them opportunities not found elsewhere. I’ve worked as Lead Host of BTSYA’s teen radio show, Chairperson of BTSYA’s Disaster Relief, and even was published in BTSYA’s latest positive message media anthology, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World. Nowhere else could I have found such service opportunities, and I look forward to taking advantage of them even more in the years to come.”

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I have been involved with Be the Star you are since I was a teen. The incredible impact it has made on my life and thousands of others, has continued me to stay involved all through my 20’s and now in my 30’s!! This organization is based on motivating others through the power of positivity and inspirational media. Thank you for every beautiful moment this organization has brought into my life.”

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“BTSYA is honestly amazing. I’ve been volunteering as a reporter and host for BTSYA’s teen radio show and it’s provided me with so much. It’s given me countless opportunities to speak about my interests, have fun, meet new people, and grow and develop as a person. Cynthia Brian is unbelievably kind and supportive, and an amazing leader and mentor all around. I am truly honored to be a part of this team.”

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“Amazing is one way to describe this outstanding nonprofit and its fearless leader, Cynthia Brian. Over the years I’ve seen many instances where Cynthia has been a role model in rallying teen volunteers to reach out to those in need, no matter where they are or what situation presents itself. 

I support this fine organization because I believe in their cause and their leadership, and I encourage you to do the same.”


On Saturday, May 11th from 11am-3pm, the 13th Annual Moraga Community Faire and Classic Car Show will provide a day of family fun and community. The Faire attracts 3500 + attendees with numerous attractions, vendors, Kids zone, food trucks, wine, beer, art, and a classic car show. As the official face painting booth, Be the Star You Are!® volunteers will be offering activities for children including face painting, a reading circle, and giving away books to increase literacy. A book signing is also planned. Chelsea Pelchat is our teen coordinator. ““For the past four years, I have been the teen event coordinator where I have been able to exercise and develop life skills that I will use forever.“ To sponsor or volunteer, email info@BetheStarYouAre.org. Visit https://www.bethestaryouare.org/events

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For the perfect Easter basket gift, buy any of our books. When you order directly from our website, 100% goes to Be the Star You Are!® charity plus you will get extra FREE goodies. For spring, how about adding Growing with the Goddess Gardener.  Or to bridge the generation gap, buy Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers with chapters by 35 volunteers Autographed the way you want and they are donation too! https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store

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If you would like to make a direct donation to our giving fund, please visit our PayPal page!



We appreciate a direct donation most of all via PAYPAL GIVING FUND at https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504.

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

There are other easy ways that assist our mission and don’t cost you a dime!

1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases http://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882

2. Discounted books at Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity

3. Buy or Sell on EBAY:http://givingworks.ebay.com/charity-auctions/charity/be-the-star-you-are-501-c-3/1504/?favorite=link

4. Use GoodSearch to search the web & buy from your favorite stores. Choose Be the Star You Are as your charity to support. You can log in with Facebook, too!http://www.goodsearch.com/goodto-go/be-the-star-you-are

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

6. BTSYA Logo Storehttp://btsya.rylees.net

7. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash back at 1800+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA: https://givingassistant.org/np – be-the-star-you-are-inc

8. Designer Clothes to Buy or Sell: https://www.unionandfifth.com/charities/be-the-star-you-are-moraga-ca/shop

9. Buy “Read, Lead, Succeed” T-shirts and tanks $19.99 at StarStyle® Store: http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store

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

““We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

Read the newsletter at http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/672296/f916a880b9/288055965/ac7221bc2f/

Be the Star You Are! 501 c3, PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556.

Celebrating 20 years of stellar service to the world!

GROW with us!


Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556




Find out more about our programs, events, positive results, and how to help at http://www.BetheStarYouare.org, 

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

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


Please Be A Friendly Neighbor

Posted by presspass on
Please Be A Friendly Neighbor

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“Look for helpers. You will always find those who are helping.” Mister Rogers

After sowing seeds of beets, arugula, Swiss Chard, and leeks, I sat on my small white wooden bench to watch. Within minutes a black and white king snake slithered by my foot sending shivers up my spine at the sudden surprise yet joy because I know that king snakes keep rattlers away.  A tail-less baby lizard scampered to a rock to bask in the sunshine, and a chorus of frogs croaked their mating calls, each attempting to outdo the other. Two moths flitted through the nasturtiums, a swarm of honeybees gathered on the rosemary, and a clew of worms tilled the rich soil.  A covey of quail called to one another, landing in my chestnut tree. My vegetable garden was alive with congenial visiting helpers.

mushrooms in mulch.jpgFor years Fred Rogers modeled the benefits of caring on his award children’s program, Mister Rogers Neighborhood. The root principle of his teachings was to be a good neighbor and find helpers. Having friendly, helpful neighbors is good not only for humans but for plants and animals, too. We are all interdependent on one another for survival. To fully understand how important buddies are, we need to look no further than the kingdom of plants.

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In gardening, we call this companion planting. Health and yields are improved when certain plants are grown together. Some plants will attract beneficial insects while others will repel destructive ones. Certain flowers, vegetables, and herbs grown together will produce more beautiful flowers and flavorful edibles than if grown in solitary confinement. 


When planning your companion garden, for the team to thrive, it is critical to consider these important requirements. Determine if they enjoy the same type of soil (sandy, loamy, clay, silty, peaty), light exposure (shade, partial shade, full sun, partial sun), water (how much and how often), and pest control. 

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Soil: The ideal garden soil is loam as it is a balanced mixture of sand, silt, and clay with plenty of humus.  To improve our clay soil, we need to develop better drainage and lighten the heaviness by adding copious amounts of organic matter.  A combination of compost, mulch, and cover crops will enrich the soil, prevent erosion, and minimize weed growth.

Light: Record where the sun is during different times of the day. Remember that tall plants will provide shade for smaller plants that need protection. 

Water:  Roots need oxygen to survive. Waterlogged roots rot. Vegetables require about one inch of water a week, columbines prefer a moist environment, while succulents succeed in drier soils. Determine your own watering personality then choose compatible plants accordingly.

Pest Control: One of the most exciting things about companion planting is how various plants can attract good bugs and deter the bad ones when surrounded by their friends. Alliums are terrific company for almost all plants except asparagus and beans!

When building your garden, think about building a community of friends. 

Roses are jewels of the garden for at least three seasons, and, as with their mineral cousins, their beauty is enhanced when placed in the right setting. According to rose expert Michael Marriott, senior rosarian and technical manager of David Austin Roses Ltd in Albrighton, England, roses are beautifully suited to mixed garden borders. The trick to combining roses successfully with other garden plants lies in knowing which will play well together. Although we don’t normally plant roses with our vegetables, rose petals are edible. Gathered early in the morning, they make a tasting topping for salads and soups.

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The best partners, he says, bloom exactly together or closely overlap. “The joy is in pairing flowers that play off one another when seen side by side in full bloom. The goal is to heighten peak bloom experiences. Extending the bloom season is a different exercise. Here is a short list of his recommended rose partners.

Favorite Blue Perennials:


Blue Eyed Grass






Sea holly



Pincushion flower



Favorite Other Colored Perennials:






Black-eyed Susan



Favorite Biennial


Favorite Annuals





Sweet pea

Favorite Hedge


  dutch iris-ferns.jpghttps://www.cynthiabrian.com/gardening

When it comes to vegetable companions, we have a long list of allies and enemies. General rules advise avoiding planting in long rows or big patches to deter the pests.  Instead, interplant with flowers and herbs to confuse the predators and attract the beneficials.

Marigolds are the workhorse of any vegetable planting as they discourage beetles and nematodes. The presence of calendula in any garden is a plus repelling nasty insects while the roots clean the soil by establishing active relationships with soil-borne fungi. Nasturtium, chives, and garlic keep away aphids. Dill improves growth and flavor in all plants of the cabbage family including kale while mint will deter ants and cabbage moth and improve the flavor of peas.  However, dill will retard the growth of your carrots.  Parsley, carrots, and parsnip attract praying mantis, ladybugs, and spiders that dine on pests. Beans, peas, and clover make nitrogen that enrich the soil. 


Never plant corn and tomatoes near one another as the identical worm attacks both. If you want potatoes, plant horseradish in the four corners as protection and refrain from including squash, cucumbers, or sunflowers in the same location as they all suffer from the same blight. If you are growing strawberries, prevent worms by creating a border of thyme and strengthen resistance to disease and insects with borage. Oregano provides general pest protection while basil ward offs flies and mosquitoes while improving (no surprise) the flavor and growth of tomatoes. 


Before you start your spring planting, consider the community you will be creating. The rains are continuing, the crabapples are blooming, and the willow buds are set to burst. 

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Fred Rogers said that maybe heaven is the connections we make while on earth. In gardening as in life, it takes a village. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Read and see photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1303/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Wont-you-be-my-neighbor.html

tulip tree blossoms on ground.jpghttps://www.cynthiabrian.com/gardening

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. 

Cynthia Brian-ocean.jpghttps://www.cynthiabrian.com

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

Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Cynthia Brian'Growing with the Goddess Gardener book copy.jpg

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.



Donate to Fire Disaster Relief via Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 at www.BethestarYouAre.org

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Awaken Spring

Posted by presspass on
Awaken Spring

pink freesias.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1302/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Awaken-spring.html

“The ghostly winter silences have given way to the great spring murmur of awakening life.” Jack London

It all began when I witnessed the new growth unfurling on one of my loquat trees. The leaves were a mesmerizing bright green, like the color of lime with a hint of sunshine.  Ah, sunshine, I thought! How I longed for warm, sun-drenched days. The darkness, cold, and wet of winter had begun to unravel my soul. 

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The rains throughout the winter, although welcome and necessary, have been torrential. The creeks are full and raging. If only we could save this H2O to quench summer thirsty landscapes.

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Our hillsides are carpets of emerald grasses. The only hint that salvation was near was the happy stalks of the ubiquitous daffodils singing to the sky an end to the melancholia. 

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I wanted to bottle a bit of this luminosity from those loquat leaves so I did the next best thing…I painted my fingernails the exact color! An odd choice, I’ve been told, but I was hell-bent on awakening spring.

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The next day, the weather reports suggested that we would bask in sunlight for at least a week. My earthy polish must have summoned the gods of rebirth. 

As if on cue, terra firma has erupted in a procession of power plants. Besides the narcissi and bergenia that have been blooming successively since January, we now witness muscari, tulip, hyacinth, ranunculus, anemone, oxalis, calla lily, azalea, freesia, Chinese fringe, blue star grass, and one of my favorite over-looked specimen, hellebore joining the parade.

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Hellebores are a deer resistant, low maintenance perennial that stirs with blooms (actually sepals protecting the flower) before other plants. Known as the Lenten rose, they prefer partial shade, are evergreen and boast flowers January through May. If you plant them on a slope, you’ll be able to see the flowers more easily as their stems face downwards. Hybrids include shades of ivory, jade, maroon, pink, yellow, speckled, and fringed combinations. 

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As the soil warms and the daylight hours grow longer, it is time to prepare your garden for seeding by weeding, hoeing, and adding rich soil. This year I have chosen packets from Renee’s Garden (https://sh2543.ositracker.com/121062/9151) and have already jotted down when the seeds will be planted. At the end of March or beginning of April, I will be planting beets, leeks, and clarkia. In April I will add cleome, columbine, and dwarf dahlias. Brussels sprouts will wait for a summer sowing.

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Pumpkin seeds that I’ve saved will be planted in late May in anticipation of Halloween and Thanksgiving. If you want to carve them, choose a fun variety such as Warty Goblin or Super Moon. For that delicious holiday pie, the go-to favorite is Pik-a-Pie. Pumpkins need a large area to grow making it essential to plan now to give your Curcubita pepo the room to thrive.  Small pumpkins need a 12-foot area, medium pumpkins require 24 feet, and giants want a 36-48 feet space per plant. 

Are you thinking of including perennials that will attract butterflies, bees, bats, and birds? The National Pollinator Garden Network has announced it has surpassed its goal of registering one million pollinator gardens. In just three years, 1,040,000 gardens were registered with the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. From tiny yards to public gardens, the million-plus gardens add up to a network of approximately five million acres of enhanced or new pollinator habitat. Offer a buffet with a diverse array of flowers, herbs, colors, fragrances, sizes, and shapes that will encourage these garden guards to visit and stay. 

red ranunucula-yellow oxalis.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1302/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Awaken-spring.html

The elegant tulip soulangeana magnolia adds beauty and structure to any landscape and now is the time to choose a specimen in full bloom at your local nursery. Blooming time varies with varieties and micro-climates. Santa Rosa plum and peach trees are radiantly blossoming and will soon form fruit.  Crab apple will follow shortly. Hopefully, the rains won’t knock off too many buds.

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The frogs are chirping, birds are tweeting, and cows are mooing. The orchestra of nature waking up from its winter slumber is music to my ears. It’s time to polish our dancing shoes (and maybe your nails) as the vernal equinox has arrived with an equal balance of light and dark. The season of spring has sprung.

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Reminders

CREATE a cutting garden for summer by planting delphiniums, snapdragons, and sunflowers.

VISIT http://www.RecycleSmart.org for dates of the 5th Annual Compost Giveaway. Register to collect up to three yards of free compost or “black gold” which has been recycled from the green organic bins. 

FERTILIZE lawns. Spring is also the second-best time after fall to install a new lawn or refresh an old one. If you are seeding, March and April are excellent times to scatter seed, especially before a rain. My preference is http://www.PearlsPremium.com for an almost weed-free, lush green ground cover.

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ADD to your planting list aeoniums and other succulents as they require minimal maintenance and water, even in the hot months. 

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CONTINUE to pick up the fallen camellias. I know I’m sounding like a broken record but camellias have a long blooming season and the ones that drop will cause a rot for next year’s bloom. Don’t stop picking them up and don’t add them to your compost or recycle bins.

BUY seeds for spring sowing from Renee’s Garden (https://sh2543.ositracker.com/121062/9151) 

Through March 24 you can get FREE Shipping on orders over $20.00.

STOP mowing your lawns when the grass is wet or it is raining. Hearing the growl of lawnmowers when it is pouring outside boils the soul of my inner gardener. Cutting the grass when it is raining damages the grass blades and causes ruts and compaction. Inform your “mow, blow, and go” service providers to perform other tasks in inclement weather. A healthy green lawn will thank you for your restraint. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Hello Spring!

Read more at 


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. 

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

Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

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Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.


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Donate to Fire Disaster Relief via Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 at www.BethestarYouAre.org

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Pass the Mustard!

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Pass the Mustard!


“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” William Blake

The thunder clapped. The lightning bolted. The skies opened. 

Rain, life-giving rain.

The garden rejoices. 

The lawn, browned from the hot summer and autumn, is once again a lush verdant emerald. Fresh new leaves are beginning to unfurl on plants presumed expired. Weeds are sprouting in every crevice and worms are back working their tilling magic.  Tiny pink buds are exploding on peach trees, white blossoms already cover the flowering pears, and scarlet blooms of Chinese flowering quince, a member of the rose family highlight the barren landscape. We are smack in the middle of winter with the opportunity to learn, teach, and enjoy.


lush lawn.jpgAs you drive along the local roads, you’ll witness fields carpeted in yellow. This is the wild mustard plant, the magical staple of my childhood. Every year in March our walnut orchards would be blanketed in five-foot tall plants that provided my siblings and me abundant opportunities to build forts, hide from our parents, and make mustard leaf sandwiches. We’d collect the seeds, mix them with vinegar and sea salt, and make our own culinary creations. Our Dad would eventually till this beneficial cover crop back into the soil as a green manure to add nitrogen, increase drainage, and water retention.

If you planted seeds of edible greens and cool loving crops in the fall, you are now harvesting many members of the mustard family including cabbage, kale, collards, kohlrabi, broccoli, yellow mustard, bok choy, and cauliflower. Buds of Brussels sprouts are forming their “sprouts” in the axils of leaves on the stalk.  Flavor improves with Brussels sprouts after two or more frosty nights. The mustard family includes the genus Brassica whereby most of the leaves and flowers taste peppery. Since the flower pattern is in the form of a cross, the plants are referred to as cruciferous. Called super-foods, cruciferous vegetables pack a punch with disease- fighting phytochemicals, attributed to preventing cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Brassicas are also nutrient and fiber-rich with healthy plant omega-3’s, vitamin A, C, E, B-1, and folic acid. They are easy to grow from seed in well-drained, fertile soil enriched with compost.  Because Brassicas are prone to pests and soil-borne diseases, make sure to practice crop rotation and never compost the roots. Although you can use recycled containers to start seeds indoors in the winter, these plant varieties are more successful when seeds are sown directly in the garden. 

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With the recent outbreaks of e.coli infections found in a variety of leafy greens and specifically romaine lettuce, growing your own vegetables is not only less expensive, but it is safer because you have the power to control what goes into your soil. Seeds of arugula, Swiss Chard, lettuces, spinach, scallions, sorrel, fennel, and nasturtium can be succession scattered to ensure year-round eating pleasure. 


Your vegetable garden has the potential to feed your family throughout all four seasons at a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay for equivalent produce at the market. In winter, you will rarely have to turn on a water source, and you can fertilize with your homemade compost.  When you save the seeds of your favorite plants, you also won’t have to buy new seed packets. During every planting period consider adding an unfamiliar crop that you’ve discovered by perusing seed catalogs.


Even when the inclement weather is keeping you bundled by the fire indoors with a cup of hot tea to ease your sore throat, if you’ve taken an hour or so to sow your favorite seeds, germination will be happening underground. One sunny day you’ll walk outside to witness the miracle of nature. 

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Voila! Instant leafy greens sown and grown in your personal hearty-health home garden. 

Pass the mustard!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide for February

PICK UP the fallen blooms of camellias to prevent the fungus Camellia blossom rot which causes blooms to turn brown from the center out. Do not compost spent blossoms. Put the dead blooms in the trash bin. 

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USE Chinese flowering quince as a spiny hedge or barrier.

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DON’T mow your lawn after a rain when the soil is too moist or you will damage the grass and cause rivets in the soil.

PLANT seedlings of celosia next month for a late spring show.

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FINAL time to heavy prune your roses. Dig canes in a rooting solution and plant in rich soil in small containers to give as summer hostess gifts.


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GROW your own Brassicas and leafy greens by sowing seeds in succession.

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MAKE homemade mustard from the seeds of wild mustard by grinding them and adding salt and vinegar.

PRUNE and shape pelargoniums and geraniums for fuller flowering.

WASH leaves of indoor plants that are dusty. Re-pot if necessary. 

FEED the birds as winter is challenging for them to find essential food.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

View photos and read more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1226/Cynthia-Brians-Digging-Deep-Pass-the-mustard.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. 

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


Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

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Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.



Donate to Fire Disaster Relief via Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 at www.BethestarYouAre.org


Love is a Rose!

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Love is a Rose!

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“Everything is coming up roses!” Ethel Merman

When Cupid shoots his arrow of amour on February 14th, more than 51% of the flowers bestowed upon the lovers will be roses.  The allure of roses dates back more than 5,000 years when rose cultivation began in China. Evidence in fossils indicates that the wild rose is as ancient as 35 million years. No wonder that the rose has symbolized beauty, love, politics, and war for the past five centuries in our modern world.

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Roses possess a classic beauty with an unrivaled diversity of shapes, sizes, colors, and fragrances. Blooms may be solitary and delicate, semi-double, open cupped, rosette, pompon, peony-like, buttoned, and ruffled. They may be single stemmed or present a bouquet of several blossoms on a stalk.  Newer disease-resistant varieties brag continuous flowering from the first bud in spring to the final pruning in winter. 

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Best of all, with a little know-how, roses are one of the easiest plants to grow in our gardens offering perennial joy.  Plant them in a formal garden bordered by boxwoods, or add varying heights of roses to a casual mixed backyard bed. Pop them in containers to add elegance to a porch, patio, or balcony. Train climbers and ramblers to grow on arches, gates, trellises, fences, and walls adding vertical appeal.

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February is an excellent month to plant bare root roses. 

How to plant bare root roses

1.    Decide where you want to plant roses. Although some varieties will tolerate a reasonable amount of shade, most roses require at least four hours of daily sunshine.

2.    Once you know the “where”, you can decide the “which”. Peruse rose catalogs and visit your nursery.  You want to purchase the right rose for the right purpose. Make sure that the bare-root roses you select are healthy and sturdy. If planting more than one, it is best to purchase the same color and type of rose in uneven numbers. For example, buy three or five of the same rose for preferable impact.

3.    Soak your roses overnight in a bucket of water to rehydrate them.

4.    Dig a hole large enough to allow the roots to spread.

5.    Spade the soil well and add compost.

6.    After removing each rose from the bucket, place the bare roots of each rose in a separate hole. The bottom of the stems needs to be two to three inches below the top of the hole.

7.    Replace the soil and tap around the rose with your foot until the ground is firm.

8.    Water slowly and deeply.

9.    Mulch with bark, shredded wood, or pine needles to three inches of thickness.  This prevents erosion, controls temperature variations, suppresses weeds, and makes for a prettier presentation.

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Maintenance of your rose garden

1.    Watering properly is key to healthy roses. Water deeply without flooding and be cognizant of your sprinkler system to assure that your roses are not over or under irrigated. 

2.    Fertilize in March, then approximately eight weeks apart starting in May through September. For my first feeding, I like to use alfalfa pellets mixed with diatomaceous earth.

3.    Although the new varieties of roses are more disease resistant, black spot, rust, and powdery mildew remain the culprits to control. Destroy any diseased, fallen leaves.

4.    If you have a plethora of other flowers, your garden will have developed a more natural eco-system, keeping most pests away. Aphids can be sprayed with soapy water, or introduce ladybugs. 

5.    Deadhead as flowers wilt and prune stems back one and a half feet after flushes of flowers to shape your plant.

6.    Once a year, usually towards the end of January, heavy prune roses removing any dead, diseased, or damaged stems. Old wood can be cut from older roses to encourage fresh growth. Shrub roses can be pruned 1/3 to 2/3. Hybrid teas and floribundas should be pruned to ¾. Leave ramblers alone or shape them according to your wishes. Remove the dead wood on climbers and cut the year’s flowering stems back to ¾.


Whether you decide to cultivate shrub roses, old roses, rambling roses, climbing roses, hybrid teas, tree roses, or floribundas, you will be rewarded with beauty, fragrance, and the ability to create sweet-scented arrangements throughout the year. 

For Valentine’s Day, consider giving your loved one a bouquet of roses and a bare root plant! Double the pleasure! Everything is coming up roses!

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for February

  IDENTIFY: With the rains, fungi are at their edible best. If you don’t know how to identify mushrooms that grow in your garden, do not eat them. Buy from a reputable source and enjoy the impressive nutritional benefits of this humble fungus. Whether you eat shitake white, oyster, hen-of-the-woods, Portobello, or others, mushrooms are brimming with phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber, all which are packed with anti-inflammatory properties that can protect you from numerous diseases. 

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  APPRECIATE: Daffodils and narcissi have unfurled their blooms suggesting the promise of Printemps.

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  BUY: Growing with the Goddess Gardener is a gift that will give perennially. Order copies with extra freebies at http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store.

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    PERUSE catalogs to create your plan for spring planting.

    FIND a rose with the same name of your partner. If you have the dollars, there are companies that will allow you to name a rose. 

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    ENJOY this final month of garden rest before the busy spring season arrives.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Love Day!

Read more and see photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1225/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-February-Love-is-a-rose.html

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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. 

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

Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.



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Donate to Fire Disaster Relief via Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 at www.BethestarYouAre.org


$20.00 Discount on Animated Video with Health at Your Fingertips with Deborah Myers Wellness plus Taming Teens

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$20.00 Discount on Animated Video with Health at Your Fingertips with Deborah Myers Wellness plus Taming Teens

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Do you want to feel stronger, healthier, and more vital? Founder and Director of Health at Your Fingertips, Deborah Myers, is passionate about empowering others to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle.  Deborah helps audiences reduce stress, relieve pain, and begin healing through the use of energy balancing techniques of acupressure and Jin Shin Jyutsu. Deborah will share her techniques for boosting energy, creativity, and productivity and introduce her animated video, the Daily Clean Your House Flow. www.deborahmyerswellness.com. Get a discount on the animated video and ebook — purchaser can select any of the ebooks

$20.00 off of the $89.00 price

Coupon code is

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Is your young teen moody and emotional? Hormonal changes peak in early adolescence. Parents can help by focusing on what matters most to teens. It’s important to be aware of the signs of serious issues and just normal teen mood swings. Learn a few strategies to modulate the mood for better coping skills. 

Do you find the marvelous in nature? Why do you garden? In Growing with the Goddess Gardener, you’ll discover how a warm summer resides within our souls even in the depths of a frozen winter. www.cynthiabrian.com/books


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Deborah Myers’ Biography

Deborah Myers empowers wellness, transforming stress and pain into balance and health. Health at your fingertips comes alive in her programs and workshops for the classroom and workplace. 

Deborah is an Acupressurist and Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner and has been in private practice for over 20 years. She is founder and director of Deborah Myers Wellness and Health at Your Fingertips. 

She is the author of the Easy Self-Help Acupressure Book Series and the creator of the Daily Clean Your House Flow animated video, a program that allows people of all ages to enjoy more stress-free and productive lives. Her video is an easy way for children to discover less stress, increased focus and improved performance at school, at home and in all extra-curricular activities. 


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Listen at Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/111102/health-at-your-fingertips-with-deborah-myers-wellness-taming-the

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JUST PUBLISHED: Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World and Growing with the Goddess Gardener.

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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

Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:  https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

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For photos, descriptions, links, archives, and more, visit http://www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Get inspired, motivated, and informed with StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!®

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If you are a fan of the authors, experts, celebrities, and guests that appear regularly on StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® radio, you can now be sure to never miss an episode. Embed this code into your WordPress site or any site and you’ll always have Cynthia Brian and all of your favorite pioneers on the planet at your fingertips.  Upbeat, positive, life-changing talk radio broadcasting live each week since 1998. Lend us Your Ears. We are Starstyle®-Be the Star You Are!®


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