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Be the Star You Are! 501 C3 Celebrates 20 Years Serving the World!

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Empowerment
Be the Star You Are! 501 C3 Celebrates 20 Years Serving the World!

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Local Literacy Non-Profit, Be the Star You Are!® Celebrates 20 Years of Service

by Brigitte Jia

 

On September 9, 2019, Moraga based literacy and positive media message charity, Be the Star You Are!® marks a major milestone…20 years of serving the community, county, and country.  A two-decade feat of being a non-profit is even all the more spectacular knowing that Be the Star You Are!® is 100% staffed with volunteers, no paid employees, and operates solely with the generous donations of individuals and businesses.

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For six years, I’ve been a proud member and volunteer for the top-rated non-profit Be the Star You Are!® charity. In my freshman year at Campolindo High School, I stumbled upon the opportunity to be a behind-the-scenes “art coordinator”. With the encouragement and enthusiasm of Founder and Executive Director, Cynthia Brian, I soon spread my wings to become a reporter on Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio, brought to the airwaves under the auspices of Be the Star You Are!®  (BTSYA) charity. I quickly sharpened my communicative abilities, giving me the chance to grow from an awkward high school freshman into an open, articulate individual.

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My volunteer role gradually expanded with time as I participated in many activities that Be the Star You Are!® offered. I advanced to hosting the award-winning international radio show interviewing authors and celebrities from around the globe. I provided free books to children at events, shipped supplies to survivors of natural disasters across the United States, performed pop-up concerts with other BTSYA volunteer musicians throughout Lamorinda and for seniors at Moraga Royale and Aegis, read books to children at the Moraga Faire, painted faces at St. Mary’s events and the Pear Festival, helped children write letters to Santa at the 5A Rent-a-Space Holiday party, and continued to be the resident Be the Star You Are!® artist.

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In 2018, Be the Star You Are!® published the third book in its Be the Star You Are!®series titled Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World. How honored I was to have two of my chapter submissions accepted for publication, the Gift of Activismand the Gift of Art!Thirty-one Be the Star You Are!® volunteers are now published in that book. Two of the recent contributors were also published in Be the Star You Are for TEENS where an additional 41 volunteers and supporters were published. All proceeds from sales of these books benefit the charity.

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There are numerous opportunities for teens to get their community service credits while growing as people and leaders. Besides reporting on the thought-provoking radio broadcast, one of the most popular Be the Star You Are!® outreach programs is to become a writer on the Star Teen Book Review Team. To date, over 2000 book reviews have been written and published.

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In these past six years, I’ve experienced some truly heartwarming moments of gratitude and collaborative power. A unique trait that I admire about volunteering with Be the Star You Are!®501 c3 is that the Founder, Cynthia Brian, is a dedicated mentor helping each volunteer find his/her passion and individual strength.  Read the reviews at Great Non-Profits: http://greatnonprofits.org/reviews/be-the-star-you-are-inc/.We have a motto, “Read, lead, succeed. To be a leader, you must be a reader.”  Through Be the Star You Are!® programs I have found my voice and my leadership capabilities.

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With my chaotic college schedule, I have less time, yet I’m glad that I’ve been welcomed as a part of something so much larger than just myself. Because of my involvement with BTSYA, I am no longer afraid to talk to others about my feelings and opinions. As part of this organization, I’ve grabbed the globe by the horns and have been able to concretely change peoples’ lives. The work I do alongside Cynthia and other members of our BTSYA family will stay with me for the rest of my life.

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It’s a big deal to celebrate 20 years of nonstop grassroots service. Our new slogan is “Communicate, Collaborate, Innovate!”  I can’t wait to see what BTSYA has in store for me and the world in the future!

For more information, to volunteer, or make a donation, please visit the main web site at https://www.BetheStarYouAre.organd our creative community at http://www.BTSYA.org. Reviews: http://greatnonprofits.org/reviews/be-the-star-you-are-inc/

MAKE A DONATION:

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

Brigitte Jia is a university sophomore interested in helping to bring the flaws of society to light. A volunteer with BTSYA, she is a host and reporter on Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio, artist, and published writer. She enjoys reading, playing the violin, and weightlifting. http://www.expressyourselfteenradio.com

 

Edited version published on 9./4/19: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1314/Local-literacy-nonprofit-celebrates-20-years-of-service.html

 

Controlled Chaos

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Empowerment
Controlled Chaos

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

Controlled Chaos 

by Cynthia Brian

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.”~ Buddha

There is only one certainty in the garden: it is never finished. Gardens evolve, change, mutate, and metamorphose. A landscape that was once very ordered and manicured quickly turns into a tangled jungle without ongoing maintenance. With TLC, one can control the chaos to create a masterpiece.

The longer I garden, the more I enjoy the whimsical.  What appears at first glance to be an imperfect arrangement is often the most excellent of combinations.  Mixing the hydrangeas with the nasturtiums and heucheras adds an element of awe and wonder. Discovering a vintage stone angel sitting on top of a plow’s disk praying over the naked ladies, roses, salvia, dried nigella, and the silvery plecostachys serpyllifolia invites one to pinch a stem to smell the licorice plant. Wandering in a meadow filled with daisies, coneflowers, and perennial sweet peas rejuvenates the spirit.

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Yes, I have embraced the controlled chaos of nature.  Several years ago as an experiment, I planted wisteria, grapes, and pink bower vine on a pergola on my deck to see which of these three specimens would dominate. To my amazement, instead of choking one another, they have tangled together creating year-round interest. The wisteria blooms in spring and maintains green leaves until winter when it drops its leaves. The grapevines leaf out in spring, bear edible fruit in fall, change leaf color when the weather turns cold, then showcase bare bark for the winter months. My pink bower vine is perennially green displaying pretty rose-colored petals with a deep cherry center from early summer to winter. What was deemed to be a mishmash of plants resulted in a happily married and visually pleasing grouping.

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On my hillside, a mangle of chartreuse euphorbia intermingles with striped pink morning glory.  The chaos is palpable yet stimulating. My friend Michael Curtis’s garden is an exemplary model of perfection in controlled landscape chaos. Around every corner, one is greeted with a capricious element.  Stroll along Surprise Avenue, be on the lookout for a locomotive in the ivy, and giggle at the numerous street signs lining the paths. 

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Creativity and enchantment reign when you invite the unexpected into your garden planning. Once you have controlled your chaos, you will look up and laugh at the sky.

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Cynthia Brian’s Mid-Month Gardening Guide for August

  • WATER, water, water. August is one of the warmest months and it’s necessary to keep an eye on your containers and yard. If you see drooping leaves, it’s time to sprinkle. In the hot weather, you may have to water daily. 
  • ADD pea gravel, decomposed granite or spaced stepping stones planted with creeping thyme in the gaps for a permeable path with a Mediterranean appearance.
  • STORE herbs by drying them by hanging the stems upside down. For instant soup flavorings, chop finely, add the herbs to an ice tray with a small amount of water, and freeze.
  • DIG out dandelions from your garden and lawn. As long as you have not used insecticides or pesticides, you can add them to salads or stir fry.
  • ESTABLISH a wildlife habitat in your yard by providing food, water, shelter, and sustainability for the wandering and flying critters.
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  • SPICE your supper with floral edibles of nasturtium, calendula, violas, roses, citrus blossoms, dianthus, pansies, chamomile, and blooming herbs. Eat the daisies, but not the toxic flowers of tomato, potato, pepper, or eggplant plants. 
  • PLANT seeds of beans, carrots, radishes, and beets for a second crop to harvest in the fall.
  • FLUSH birdbaths and fountains regularly to maintain fresh drinking water for our feathered friends as well as repel mosquito larvae from hatching. 
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  • PINCH zinnias and chrysanthemums to encourage bushier blooms.
  • WASH your car on your lawn. Your car will get clean and your lawn will benefit from the extra soak. 
  • WATCH out for errant sparks from fire pits, barbecues, candles, and tiki torches. It’s fire season. 
  • DRIVE CAREFULLY. School is in session. Ask your children what vegetables they want to eat as snacks, then make sure those treats are planted in your garden.
  • SEND your college kids off to school with a potted plant. It will bring the outdoors in and provide oxygen to the brain.
  • EMBRACE the controlled chaos of your garden and enjoy the perfection of imperfection. 
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  • LAUGH at the sky. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy August!

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1313/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Controlled-chaos.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 Are!® 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.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

What’s Bugging You?

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Empowerment
What’s Bugging You?

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“…many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth.” Charles Darwin

Twenty-three honeybees, ten lady beetles, five lizards, three frogs, and several spiders.

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Within two hours on a very hot day this past week, the rescue count from the swimming pool kept mounting. I was afraid to leave the water lest more of my garden friends would drown.  It’s summer and the flying insects, creepy crawlies, and slithering creatures are in abundance.  The ones I want to save are the ones that are our garden guardians. 

The Good Guys

Bees

We’ve all heard about the Colony Collapse Disorder affecting honey bees worldwide and the importance of protecting our all bees. Don’t confuse honey bees with carnivorous yellowjackets. Bees, bumble bees, and yellowjackets are all pollinators yet honey bees and bumble bees don’t attack humans unless they are stepped on, slapped, swatted, or threatened. They are gathering pollen and the honey bees are making honey while keeping our fruit, flowers, and vegetables reproducing. 

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Lady Beetles

There are over 450 species of ladybugs in the United States and they are voracious consumers of aphids, caterpillars, lace bugs, mealybugs, scale, whiteflies, and mites. Lady beetles are perhaps the most beloved of all insects and even though you can purchase them for your garden, they will fly away when their food level declines. An adult will eat over 5,000 aphids in her lifetime.

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Lizards

Don’t be afraid of these garden helpers. Lizards are carnivores, not plant-eaters. You are fortunate if you have lizards in your yard. They eat beetles, ants, wasps, aphids, and grasshoppers. They like to bask in the sun and also shelter under rocks or in the mulch. Predators to lizards include cats, snakes, and birds. 

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Frogs

Both frogs are toads are amphibians living on both land and in water. They need moisture to survive and prey upon snails, slugs, and other insects. However, if they fall into a swimming pool without a way to escape, they will drown. In one summer, a single toad may devour over 10,000 pests.  Some species will eat mosquito larvae. Like our lizard friends, pets, birds, and snakes enjoy them as a meal. Enjoy their choral music at dusk.

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Spiders

Fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias even though most spiders do not bite humans.  The two biting spiders with venom that can be fatal to humans are the black widow and the brown recluse. Spiders are not insects.  Spiders are arthropods as they have eight legs.  As happy hunters, they are excellent garden pest control managers, actually considered to be the most beneficial and efficient insect eradicator in our landscapes.  When you see a spider web, admire its delicate intricacy. Don’t destroy it. Inside your home, spiders are helping eradicate more invasive bugs.  Spiders don’t carry diseases like mosquitoes or ticks. 

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To keep the good guys attracted to our landscapes, eliminate pesticides, insecticides, and chemicals. Companion planting with a diversity of species will provide a variety of stalking and dining options. Offer shelters of mulch, rocks, small branches, and a water source.

The Bad Guys

Mosquitoes

Mosquito bites cause puffy red bumps that can itch for a week. Worse, mosquitoes are vectors for West Nile Virus that they transmit to humans. Empty any standing water around your garden and punch drainage holes in containers. Change birdbaths daily or add a re-circulating pump. If you have a pool or hot tub, keep it effectively chlorinated. Check for leaky faucets. It only takes a few days for larvae to mature. Vector Control is available at no charge to add mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) to your pond water.

Yellowjackets

Although yellowjackets do help with pollination, they are scavengers for meat and sugary food, disrupting picnics, summer outdoor activities, and barbecues. Never squash a yellowjacket. When crushed they emit a chemical that calls to other yellowjackets to attack. They build nests in abandoned burrows, in eaves, and bushes. Because their sting is so potent and painful, if you find a nest, call Vector Control for eradication.

Ticks

Lyme disease is one of the fastest-growing epidemics with over 300,000 diagnoses occurring annually in the United States. Summer is the most likely time to be bitten by a tiny deer tick. Ticks are parasites that feed on blood. They live in brush piles, leaf litter, lawns, tree stumps, ground cover, and stone or brick walls. They even have been found on picnic tables and benches. It’s important to wear tick repellent clothing when outside and after being outdoors, conduct a full body check, take a shower, and put your clothes in a hot dryer for thirty minutes to kill any ticks, then wash your clothes. (I know, it seems weird to dry first, then wash, but the heat of the dryer kills the ticks) Check your pets. Ticks can be hard to find and can linger in your hair, clothing, or pet fur. If you find a tick, don’t twist it or turn it. Use sanitized pointed tweezers to grab the tick and pull it straight out. Wash the bite, apply antiseptic, save the tick for identification, and seek medical attention.

The “bad guys” are on my ‘danger watch out” list. I’ve had three trips already to either urgent care or the emergency room with ticks lodged in my neck that required surgery to remove.  Mosquitoes are my nemesis inflicting gigantic, itching bites with bumps that last for two weeks or more. In the last year, I’ve stumbled upon three yellowjacket nests, suffering multiple stings on my hand and arms with swelling that abated after a week. 

The “good guys” I’ll continue to rescue as they are my garden “watchdogs” along with the numerous birds and hummingbirds that thankfully aren’t nose-diving!

What’s bugging you?

Plan a Picnic or Pool Party

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Empowerment
Plan a Picnic or Pool Party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Garden Cocktail (or Mocktail)

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

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

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

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

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for August

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

BE fire safe. Read how to landscape your garden to be more fire-resistant.  https://blog.voiceamerica.com/2019/05/21/firescaping-for-survival/

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

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DEADHEAD roses and other perennials to keep the blooms coming

CLEAN pruning shears with alcohol after each use.

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

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

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

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

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

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

PLAN now for autumn planting.

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

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

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

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Read more and view photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1311/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Prep-a-picnic-or-pool-party.html

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing! 

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. 

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

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

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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

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

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IBPA Member Spotlight: Cynthia Brian

https://www.ibpa-online.org/news/460747/IBPA-Member-Spotlight-Cynthia-Brian.htm

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cynthia Brian (CB):

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

 

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

 

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

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

CB:

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

 

  1. Marketing and radio interviews are key to success.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Read more: https://www.ibpa-online.org/news/460747/IBPA-Member-Spotlight-Cynthia-Brian.htm

 

Parks not Pills

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Empowerment
Parks not Pills

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“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul” John Muir

How often are you outdoors? Are you spending most of your time sitting in a chair staring at your computer screen? Do you feel lethargic, tired, and anxious? 

You are not alone and help could be right outside your door.  In today’s technological world, many people, including children, are increasingly living their lives indoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of children (one in five) and 30% of adults (one in three) in the United States are obese. 

Back in 2005 when I was doing my weekly radio broadcast, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® (www.StarStyleRadio.com) on World Talk Radio out of studios in San Diego, I invited author Richard Louv to be a guest on my program with his newest hardbound book at the time, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.  Before the program, we sat in the sound booth lamenting the startling facts that the average child of the day could identify TV personalities yet know nothing about bugs, flowers, trees, or nature in general. Kids were not outside playing as we did as children because they wanted to be plugged in and tuned out. His book and the interview have remained lodged in my psyche as a warning that we don’t want our child to be the last to witness the woods.

Fast forward to 2019 and although nature-deficit disorder is not an official medical disease, children and adults are more alienated from nature than ever before with increased attention difficulties, higher stress levels, poorer body image, obesity issues, and a plethora of physical and emotional illnesses. Pills have been prescribed yet people are sicker.

Could spending more time in nature be the answer to our woes?

Physicians throughout the ages have encouraged people to go outside more. Hippocrates wrote that walking was “man’s best medicine.”  To ward off aging, physicians in the Han dynasty suggested outdoor “frolicking exercises”.  In the 19th and 20th centuries, people were instructed to visit the mountains to enjoy the “magic airs” or “take in the waters” at a mineral spring to mitigate a variety of infirmities.

Science supports the fact that exposure to natural stimuli, especially gardening, lowers blood pressure, bolsters immune systems, reduces the levels of stress hormones, improves our disposition, increases confidence, promotes healing, lessens inflammation, minimizes obesity problems, and decreases our dependence on pain medication. 

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Besides having fun, a brisk walk in the park three or four times a week may stave off cognitive impairment for older adults. For kids, the exercise and fresh air of playing will help with maintaining a healthy weight as well as heighten their cognizance of the natural world. Community gardens offer people an opportunity to commune together to grow and harvest fresh food promoting better health. 

Nature is a healer. For me, my garden is my happy place, my refuge, and my innovator. I get all my best ideas for my endeavors while outside listening, watching, tasting, feeling, exploring, experiencing, doing, and being.  Right outside my office, a beautiful redheaded house finch perches on my gurgling fountain singing his heart out daily. The frogs croaking, the buzzing bees, the wind in the palms, the scent of the star jasmine, the rustling magnolia leaves, the beauty of blossoms, the trickle of the water, the cooing of the doves and the chants of the quail activate my imagination and soothe my soul. The repeated refrains of Mother Nature are my nurture and my medicine.

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It won’t be long before physicians everywhere will be writing prescriptions for parks instead of painkillers. Being in the outdoors inspires awe and wonder. We are blessed to have an abundance of open space, meadows, trails, mountains, and local parks where we can experience the tranquility and magic of the outdoors.

It’s summer. Nature is calling. Get up, get out, and welcome the fresh air. Spend more time in a garden or a commons. See for yourself how you feel.  Although I’m not a doctor, I am prescribing more parks instead of pills. There is no downside. 

“All my hurts my garden spade can heal.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cynthia Brian’s Garden Goddess Guide for Increasing Health Through Nature

IMPROVE physical skills for kids by getting them to play outside more. 

BUY a supersize bubble wand and blow bubbles in the yard.

EAT healthier with a Mediterranean diet loaded with freshly harvested vegetables and fruits.

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SOURCE produce hyper-locally at your Farmer’s Market or rural fruit stands if you are not growing your own. Summer is the optimum time for the freshest fruits and vegetables with high nutritional values.  Did you know that the USDA defines purchasing local produce and food as within 400 miles of your state? Most food on the American dinner table has traveled between 1500-2500 miles according to the Worldwatch Institute meaning that nutrients and antioxidants have been diminished. If you really want to pack a punch with your food, you have options. Eating in season while growing your own or being part of a community garden is the number one solution. Frequenting farmer’s markets will reduce your carbon footprint and offer fresher alternatives. Or take a drive to a local farming community to purchase freshly harvest crops at road stands. This serves a dual purpose of getting you out into nature as an RX for better health and stocking your kitchen with food that will be delicious and nutritious.

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FLOAT bougainvilleas blooms as a creative centerpiece.

SOAK your tired feet in a bowl of warm water filled with healing marigolds and chrysanthemums. 

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COOL off on a cushion of green moss.

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EXPRESS awe at a dragonfly hovering on a reed in the water.

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ENLIGHTEN your perspective with a copy of Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. 

PICK chamomile flowers to make a soothing tea. Save some of the seeds to plant.

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INSTALL a birdhouse and a fountain to entice the songbirds.

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WANDER through a colorful succulent garden to see the various textures and forms.

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WONDER at the sight of a flower that you’ve never seen before.

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SOAK in the beauty of the delicate blossoms on a silk tree.

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GAZE at the clouds and be grateful for your health. 

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DRINK plenty of water to stay hydrated.

LISTEN to the sounds of our beautiful earth to experience calm.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing! 

Photos and more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1310/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Parks-not-pills.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.

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

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Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Ode to GREAT Dads

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Empowerment
Ode to GREAT Dads

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Miracle Moment®:

“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”  Billy Graham

A Message from Cynthia Brian, Founder/Executive Director

Father’s Day has come and gone yet I want to shout out my admiration for the marvelous dads in this world. My Daddy was a mountain of a man with a heart of gold. He made each of his five children believe that each of us was important, valuable, and worthy. Daddy “saw” our unique talents, skills, and gifts, and he really listened to what we had to say. He and our Mom were a loving team who showered us with encouragement while modeling what a great marriage looks like. They didn’t care what occupation we pursued as long as we were caring citizens always striving to make the best better. As a result, my siblings and I are optimistic, confident, hard workers, and devoted members to our growing families. Our children are continuing the legacy of being concerned, compassionate, and considerate parents. The happiness and joy in their children is a reflection of their dedication to continuing a tradition of truly “being there” for their kids. 

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The media seems to only portray the evil men and women which skews our way of thinking about the sexes. Today, let’s honor the dads and moms who sacrifice every day to make life a fuller and more prosperous one for their children. Parents are my heroes. 

In this month of celebrating fathers, I want to thank my Daddy, my son, and my relatives for being amazing fathers and honor all the great fathers around the globe. I see you. I hear you. I praise you. You are a valuable asset to society.

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Sincerest gratitude and love to Dads for being the STARS you are!

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.

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Spotlight on New Express Yourself! Teen Radio Reporter

Arjin Claire

Be the Star You Are!® and Express Yourself Teen Radio are thrilled to welcome the newest member of our STAR team, Arjin Claire. Arjin will be reporting his segment called Innovation Nation about all things around the world that are changing the way we live, think, and be. Arjin is a curious and enthusiastic 9th grader in the Sacramento area. He’s a competitive soccer player, loves the drums, is an avid esports gamer, competes on his high school Mock Trial team and is always up for a healthy debate! He’s also a reporter and Business Manager for his high school’s award-winning newspaper, The Octagon. 

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His motto to school (and life) is…never shy away from asking why.

Tune in to Express Yourself!™ Sundays at 3pm PT on the Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel. https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

More information about our radio broadcasts can be found at https://www.BetheStarYouAreRadio.com

Fathers of 1900 and Fathers of Today

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Photo:  Creative RM / Getty Images – Article from liveabout.com

In 1900, a father came home from work to find his wife and children at the supper table.
Today, a father comes home to a note: “Jimmy’s at baseball, Cindy’s at gymnastics, I’m at the gym, Pizza in the fridge.”

In 1900, fathers could count on children to join the family business.
Today, fathers pray their kids will soon come home from college long enough to teach them how to work the computer and set the VCR.

In 1900, fathers shook their children gently and whispered, “Wake up, it’s time for school.”
Today, kids shake their fathers violently at 4 a.m., shouting: “Wake up, it’s time for hockey practice.”

In 1900, a Father’s Day gift would be a hand tool.
Today, he’ll get a digital organizer

Contributed by volunteer Karen Kitchel who is passionate about scattering kindness. Currently she serves meals to the homeless, is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach and mentor.m She wrote the chapter, The Gift of Adoption, in our book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World and she continues to volunteer as a contributor to our newsletter. www.scatteringkindness.com

Buy Gifts for Dad and Others

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 3300+ 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: https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-storeCynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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

 

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

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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

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

Have a safe and happy summer!

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

Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org

http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org

http://www.BTSYA.org

All donations are 100% Tax Deductible according to law. Thank you!

Read more and see photos are http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/672296/8120e0cd23/288055965/ac7221bc2f/

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Sip into Summer

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Empowerment
Sip into Summer

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“As the scent to the rose, are those memories to me.” Amelia C. Welby

Cooler weather has bidden a sweet goodbye, and warmer days beckon us to linger outdoors. My garden is ablaze with blooms and the aromas of scrumptious scents. My daughter Heather Brittany, also an avid gardener, is visiting and wants to learn more by walking through the landscape with me.

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However, on this occasion, I am the student and she is the teacher as we stroll through the perfumed botanicals. Heather is a sommelier, a trained and knowledgeable wine professional working in an elite and innovative winery in Temecula. 

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With a glass of vino in hand and several varietals opened on the patio, she crushes leaves and pinches petals informing me of the subtle flavors we may be experiencing as we sip our way through the backyard. We pick nasturtium, rose, mint, mock orange, cherry, lambs ear, calendula, Nigella, lemongrass, fennel, various citrus, berries, and a sliver of an olive branch.

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We stick our noses in lilies, lavender, and jasmine, inhaling deeply. 

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We scoop a handful of soil and mulch to draw in the aromas of nature.  Rosemary, sage, thyme, chervil, parsley, oregano, and bay…I haven’t ever thought of them as essences of wine. At each stop, she encourages me to stop, breathe in, and imagine. “Touch the lambs ear.

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Feel the velvety finish of the Queen Elizabeth rose. Take a bite of fennel. Slow down. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you feel? What do you taste?”

I was born and groomed in the vineyards of Napa Valley where I learned farming and gardening skills from my parents and grandparents, yet I’ve never ambled in my private gardens equating my flowers and herbs with the wine I consume.

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Often I’ve been told that as a writer, I should be crafting the verbiage on wine labels. What has kept me from being creative in that format are some of the normal descriptions that I read on bottles. Leather, tar, asphalt, and tobacco are not ingredients that I choose to imbibe.  But here, in my garden, I understand. We luxuriate in the multitude of floral opportunities to discover the subtle notes of the fruit of the vine.

A whiff of a barnyard reminds me of my childhood riding horses, tending sheep, branding cattle, and raising chickens.

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Pine and redwood needles evoke the memories of Christmas. A shaving of St. Lucia nutmeg makes me nostalgic for Thanksgiving. Narcissus and jasmine are the smells of spring. The sweet stench of aged compost and sensational swathes of fragrant roses and perfumed lavender offer spectacular sights and spice to the summer garden.

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On our way back to the house we watch a small sparrow flit from my pine wreath at the back door. Upon careful inspection, we witness three tiny eggs nestled in a nest. We shoot a photo to remember our afternoon lesson. What a fitting finale from our spring into summer sipping expedition!

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Pour yourself a glass of Bacchus’s favorite beverage and walk around your garden indulging your senses with scents and memories. Slow down. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you feel? What do you taste?  Sip into summer!

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for June

PRUNE daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, bluebells, freesias, and other bulbs once the leaves have turned crispy yellow.

ADD companion plantings of Oriental poppies, allium, delphinium, daylilies, salvia, and peony.

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PHOTOGRAPH eggs in a bird’s nest, but don’t disturb the nest. The mother bird is alert and watching.

CELEBRATE National Pollinator Week June 17-23 by planting three new pollinator plants that will attract bees, butterflies, and birds. Try Nigella (love-in-a-mist), bee balm, and fennel.

DIVIDE perennials before the weather is too warm. Alstroemeria, hosta, yarrow, aster, and astilbe. Most perennials need dividing every three to four years to maintain annual blooms.

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ADD three inches of mulch to your garden. If you have pine or redwood trees, gather the needles to mulch your roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, fuchsias, and other acid-loving plants. The mulch will keep the plants cooler and maintain moisture.

CONTAIN all mints in pots with saucers. Spearmint, peppermint, pineapple mint, catnip, and the rest of the mint family can easily become invasive when planted in the ground.

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DEADHEAD roses at least weekly to encourage continual blooming.

BAIT for snails and slugs.

PLANT annuals in blocks of odd numbers—three, five, seven, nine, or more to create a more natural and aesthetically pleasing look to the human eye. To achieve this, you can plant the same variety of flowers in each odd grouping, or you can create color blocks with several similar varieties.

CUT bouquets of alstroemeria flowers for two weeks of vase life enjoyment.

WALK through your garden to savor the scents of a variety of plants. 

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DO a second planting of beets, chard, beans, and radishes. 

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LISTEN to the serenading of the bullfrogs as they seduce with their song.

REPEL mosquitoes by emptying all vessels containing even a few drops of water. Add Dunks® to ponds or non-circulating water sources. Citronella and lemongrass plants supposedly help placed on the patio.

POUR a glass of wine and decipher the flavors that emanate from the garden. 

COMMEMORATE any special occasion with a gift from the garden and include a copy of my book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener available at http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store

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CELEBRATE life with a “bonfire” in a spark shielded firepit.  Did you know that the word “bonfire” derived from the words “bone fire” because bones were burned to make lime to sweeten the soil? In years past, bone fires, or bonfires were beacons to guide travelers on land and sea. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Read more and see photos: 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1308/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Sip-into-summer.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. 

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

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Buy a copy of her books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers atcyntha brian with books.jpg

 

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

FireScaping for Survival

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Empowerment
FireScaping for Survival

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https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1305/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-May-FireScaping.html

“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.
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  • 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

Sage

Penstemon

Heather

Fuchsia

Columbine

Columbine-cinereria.jpg

Thyme

Poppy

bearded iris and california poppies.jpg

Wild strawberry

Common yarrow

French lavender

Lilac

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

Coreopsis

Ajuga

California lilac

Society garlic

Alliums

Wild allium in bloom.jpg

Dianthus

Yellow or Purple ice plant

Creeping phlox

Lamium

Sedum

Succulents

succulent shelves.jpg

Veronica

Armeria

Agapanthus

Trumpet Vine

Daylily

yellow daylily.jpg

Heuchera

Hosta

Red hot poker

Lupine

geysr lupins.jpg

Delphinium

Echinacea

Lamb’s ear

Yucca

Roses

closeup pink rose.jpg

Salvia

Evening primrose

Daphne

Boxwood

Rhododendron

Spirea

Dogwood

pink dogwood in bloom.jpg

Mock orange

mock orange.jpg

Azalea

Current

Viburnum

Horse chestnut

Liquid Amber

Honey locust

Crabapple

pink crabapple.jpg

Purple robe locust

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

pear orchard i bloom.jpg

Black oak

Hawthorne

Birch

Aspen

Poplar

Maple

Manzanita (prune without dead wood)

manzanita in bloom - 1 (1).jpg

Walnut 

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.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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

fire.jpg

Nature’s Natives

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Empowerment
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.

broadleaf wild cutleaf geranium weed.jpg

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. 

acantha leaf.jpg

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.

salamander baby.jpg

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. 

freesias in the rain.jpg

A Sampling of Favorite California Natives 

Trees, Grasses 

Oak 

Western Red Bud

Redwood

Sequoia

Pine

Cypress

Cedar

Fir

Yew

Willow

Alder

Aspen

Sycamore

Blue-eyed grass

Sedges

Rushes

Fescue

Reed grass

Wild Rye

oak tree.jpg

Shrubs, Plants, Flowers

Manzanita

manzanita in bloom - 1.jpg

Ceanothus (California Lilac)

Sage

Currant

Fern

Lupine

lupins.jpg

Columbine

California poppy

Heuchera

Dicentra

Brodiaeas

Blue Dicks

Morning glory

Clarkia

Wild rose

Wild grape

Clematis

Wood Strawberry

wood strawberry.jpg

Matilija Fried Egg Plant

fried egg poppy.jpg

Native Perennials to the United States

Milkweed

Echinacea

Black-eyed Susan

Butterfly Weed

Aster

Creeping Phlox

Bee Balm

Bluebells

Lobelia

Hydrangea

Acanthus

Gaillardia

Trillium

Coreopsis

Bluestar Grass

Honeysuckle

Switchgrass

Blazing Star 

Dogwood

Iris

Gaura

Trumpet vine

Elderberry

Blue eyed star grass mint.jpg

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.

california red bud in bloom (1).jpg

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.

kale-flowering.jpg

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. 

cynthua Brian-tulip tree-lemons.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. 

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

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

 

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