Friday, November 30, 2007

We Are All Unique

Inspirational thought/read for the day. I copied this from something I came across online. I took out some of the corniness though!

Think what a remarkable, unduplicatable, and miraculous thing it is to be you. Of all the people who have come and gone on the earth, since the beginning of time, not ONE of them is like YOU.

No one who has ever lived or is to come has had your combination of abilities, talents, friends, acquaintances, burdens, sorrows and opportunities.

No one's hair grows exactly the way yours does. No one's finger prints are like yours. No one has the same combination of secret inside jokes and family expressions that you know.

The few people who laugh at all the same things you do, don't sneeze the way you do. No one prays about exactly the same concerns as you do. No one is loved by the same combination of people that love you - NO ONE!

No one before, no one to come. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY UNIQUE!
Enjoy that uniqueness. You do not have to pretend in order to seem more like someone else. You weren't meant to be like someone else. You do not have to lie to conceal the parts of you that are not like what you see in anyone else.

You were meant to be different. Nowhere ever in all of history will the same things be going on in anyone's mind, soul and spirit as are going on in yours right now.

If you did not exist, there would be a hole in creation, a gap in history, something missing from the plan for humankind.Treasure your uniqueness. It is a gift given only to you. Enjoy it and share it!

No one can reach out to others in the same way that you can. No one can speak your words. No one can convey your meanings. No one can comfort with your kind of comfort. No one can bring your kind of understanding to another person.

No one can be cheerful and lighthearted and joyous in your way. No one can smile your smile. No one else can bring the whole unique impact of you to another human being.

Share your uniqueness. Let it be free to flow out among your family and friends and people you meet in the rush and clutter of living wherever you are. That gift of yourself was given you to enjoy and share. Give yourself away!

See it! Receive it! Let it inform you and nudge you and inspire you!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Taking Time to Give Back During the Holidays

Christmas is fast approaching.

As we all know, the holidays are designated to giving that extends far beyond wrapped gifts under the tree. It’s a season where we *should* reach a hand out to help those who are less fortunate in an attempt to make their holidays a little brighter.

If you want to make that kind of contribution and brighten someone's day locally — it's not tough. One of the most obvious things out there are the Salvation Army bell ringers who have recently taken up their annual vigil in front of all major stores. When you come out of the store with bags full of gifts, make sure to drop your change or a few bills into the red kettle. If you want to go above and beyond, take a turn at ringing that bell yourself by calling your local Salvation Army or for those in southeast Michigan, visit the Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Web site. It's cold and tiring to stand out there, but for the (few) people that take the time to drop a few cents in and smile at the ringer, it's worth it.

If you are in Michigan and hate the cold, another great nonprofit organization that needs help around the holidays is United Way. Check out your local United Way Web site for volunteer events such as delivering gifts or food to the elderly or sorting children's toys for those in need. Click here for volunteer opportunities with UW of SE Mich. Many of the events only require a few hours of time.

Another thing to consider while out shopping is gifts that "give back." I am hoping to write a blog entry in the next few days about such items... But one gift that gives back that I've come across and am smitten with is by and is part of the “Path to Peace” collection of Rwandan baskets (see photo above). These have been created in partnership with four Rwandan widows’ organizations. They truly are beautiful pieces of hand-woven artwork that puts sustainable income into the hands of the weavers, helping to change their lives. Each design symbolizes its own thing, whether friendship, unity or peace.

Shop smart, think of others and remember what the holidays are truly about - giving back in some way.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Give Thanks 365 Days A Year

Hard to believe it's the last day of Thanksgiving weekend already... it went by so fast. I hope everyone had a great, tasty, family/friend-oriented Thanksgiving, and that the leftovers will be gone before you get sick of them.

What should not go away is the thankful, blessings-counting spirit that Thanksgiving urges us to feel. Look around you... don't you have things you are thankful for?

I know its cliché, but I like to list out the things I am thankful for each are my top picks:

Being American. Not everyone in this world is able to rant, rave and express ourselves the way we can. I'm thankful for those they have come before us that helped to pave the way to freedom and those that continue to do so in our nation's military - we enjoy our freedom and they earn it for us.

Hard Lessons. I am thankful for life's "trials" that I have been faced with. They have shaped me into the thankful person I am today.

Family and Friends. Those who are always there and those who are just a phone call away and it doesn't matter how long its been since we last talked to each other.

Never being hungry. I can list out the wonderful foods I am in love with... Thanksgiving sides, Taco Bell, sushi, pickles, wine...too many to list. I'm thankful to be in a place when all those things are readily available to me.

Happy people. There's no technology that can ever replace great customer service, whether it's someone who let's you go ahead of them in the grocery line or just an overly friendly cashier. Hearing "have a nice day" from a stranger who sounds like they really mean it makes my day.

Considerate Drivers. Everyone is in a rush. Nobody wants to be stuck behind someone going less than the speed limit in the fast lane. Wave and smile at those that let you go before them in traffic.

The moral of my list is to make sure I pray for our troops, drive how I'd want you to drive, look to the future in a positive way, tell my family that I love them and be thankful for making it through yet another day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cuddle Alert: New Site to Benefit Local Charities

Many people sink into a deep depression during Michigan's winter months... we don't want to go outside unless we absolutely have to, the sunshine turns to gray and driving is an icy nightmare. In fact, I can't think of many reasons winter is much fun at all. However, one thing does come to mind and that’s cuddling. Who doesn’t like to do that?

It's a good thing to do too, especially for your health. According to research, along with hugs (see earlier post on hug health benefits), cuddling increase hormones that can decrease the risk of heart disease. And since heart disease is the number one killer in America, I’d say it’s safe to say we can all use some cuddling in our lives.

With this in mind, Chuck Gadica, a well-known weatherman from the Detroit area, has launched a new Web site called, based on the phrase he coined more than 20 years ago. The site currently sells clothing, hats, blankets and baby items. There's also Cuddles the bear and Cuddle Alert bumper stickers in which proceeds benefit our local children's hospitals.

The best part of this new site according to the Great Lakes IT Report, is that Chuck has indicated that the site has a potential opportunity to raise funds for a worthy charity or provide a way to donate products to those in need. He said he's investigating organizations to be the beneficiary of the Cuddle Alert concept.

That means potentially great news for all my non-profit friends out there.

So Michigan: bring on the cold. We're ready for cuddle alerts. But Chuck, please turn up the heat on your Web site and raise some dough for the area nonprofits in need!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Life Lessons: Chapter 1 - Patience

Today my patience was tested.

I didn't feel well and was out running a work errand in a relatively unfamiliar area when I realized the entrance ramp to get back on the expressway was closed. I figured I'd just go back the way I came. No such luck. Thinking I had found my way, I turned up my tunes and enjoyed the scenery and then out of no where, I was on a dirt road. In the middle of metro Detroit. How could that have happened? I'm looking at my Michigan map in the 5 p.m. darkness, trying to weave through traffic and squinting with my bad eyes to see the road signs ahead and I have no clue where I am. I can't even tell if I'm going east or west. I scold myself - I should have gotten directions to get home, not just to get there... I feel my eyes well up with tears... it's a frustrating feeling to be lost when you're only 25 miles from your home. And all I wanted was to be home with a bowl of soup.

Just as I was approaching all-out rage, I was reminded of a story I read this week in a Catholic magazine called "Faith." The story, written by Father Bill (who is marrying Jason and I actually), discussed how patience truly is a virtue and gives us the ability to endure many things, including life's little inconveniences (like getting lost).

Here's the story in my own words:
There's a woman who took care of her husband who was suffering with Alzheimer's disease. She had to keep a close eye on him in case he wandered off and forgot where/who he was.

The disease had taken a toll on her, but it was important to her to keep her vows she had made to him many years ago - "I promise to be true to you in good times and bad, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health until death do us part."

One day, her husband, not thinking clearly, got into some magazines and books she had just organized. Frustrated, she got angry and yelled at him and stormed out of the room to cool off.

Moments later, her husband wandered in to where she was stewing with her anger and said, "There you are my dear. It's so good to see you. Hey, if you go into the den, be careful. There is a strange woman in there and she is mad!"

She immediately was hit with a sense of his love and forgave him. What a humorous way to be reminded of the importance of patience. Her husband didn't recognize her as the “angry” woman. He remembered her as his patient and loving wife.

Recalling this story while I was frustrated driving was a blessing. Crying or getting ticked off wasn't going to help me navigate – just like anger wasn’t going to cure the woman in the story’s husband from his horrible disease. I just needed to take a deep breath, laugh at myself for not being armed with better directions, turn up my music and enjoy the scenery.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Article of the Day: A Life Lesson Learned at the Stop & Shop

My favorite part about diving into the latest issue of Newsweek is a section called "My Turn," which features an essay told by the voice of a "real" person (not a journalist). Each week, there is a story of tribulation, triumph or a lesson learned that is told from a unique perspective. Each one is truly a pleasure read!

I read one today about a man who was obsessive about managing his time until a small act of kindness slowed him down. It's a great reminder to all of us that Ferris Bueller made a genius statement when he said, "Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Read it here and think about it - it's deep.

Monday, November 5, 2007

This Day in History: Susan B. Anthony Breaks U.S. Law to Vote

Attention ladies: Today is a very important day for us.

It was this day in 1872 that Susan B. Anthony defied U.S. law and voted in the presidential election, asserting that the 14th Amendment entitled her to do so. She was arrested and fined, but her actions drew great attention to the women's rights movement.

It was her actions that have enabled all of us future sisters the right to vote - something we often take for granted.

It's a shame Susan didn't live to see the 19th amendment brought to life (it ratified in 1920, 14 years after her death). She really did start a revolution and deserves our thoughts on this day.

Here's an exerpt from the words that made her famous:
''The preamble of the Federal Constitution says: "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government - the ballot."

Thanks Susan B. You really are a shining example of true girl power.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Happy Birthday, Faygo!

According to the Detroit Free Press, Faygo is officially 100 years old as of today.

The Detroit-based pop maker has been celebrating its centenary for several months, but Nov. 4, 1907, was the day Ben and Perry Feigenson founded the company, whose name was shorted from the original Feigenson. The brothers used their cake-frosting recipes from Russia to brew a carbonated soft drink.

The first flavors were fruit punch, strawberry and grape. Headquartered at 3579 Gratiot since 1935, Faygo has been credited with helping spread the use of the word "pop" for soda in the Midwest.

It has attained minor cult status, too, as the Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse uses Faygo as a prop in its act, spraying fans from the stage and mentioning the beverage in its songs.

Thanks Faygo for helping my minor obsession with Red Pop through the years. You are always there for me when I need a mid-afternoon boost, and for that I am forever thankful. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Words That Hurt: Stop Using That "R" Word

I usually try to keep this blog strictly optimistic, but I just found something powerful that I wanted to share...

The days when "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me" are long gone. I have a few words that I despise and refuse to use, however the one that sticks out and is the most prevalent in my life is the word "retarded." Maybe I've become sensitive after working for Special Olympics Michigan, but please don't say it around me -- it is hurtful to my heart because of the negative connotations that come with it.

The reason this fire is in my soul is because of an old Op-Ed from The Boston Globe that I came across. The writer is asking the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation to change its name. Please read it below and maybe you will understand where I am coming from and choose to use your words more wisely.

Let's not use words that wound
BEVERLY BECKHAM - March 25, 2007

I like to believe that it's a lack of thought and not meanness that makes people use words that hurt. That they're going with the flow, following the crowd, saying what everyone else is saying with no intent to wound. But words do wound.

My granddaughter Lucy is 3 years old. She has dark blonde hair, green eyes, and Down syndrome. Even before she was born, I bristled at the use of the word: "That outfit looks retarded." "He's a retard." "I'm not driving all the way over there. That's retarded." It was mostly teenagers who said it then, and twenty somethings.

Now the word has gone mainstream. It's on TV. In movies. On the radio. In books. In music. It was the title of a Black Eyed Peas hit song, "Let's Get Retarded," which was changed (because the ARC of the United States, formerly known as the Association for Retarded Citizens, wrote and objected?) to "Let's Get It Started."

The word is also all over the Internet.

Retarded has even spawned new words: celebutard, a famous stupid person; debutard, a rich stupid person; e-tard, a stupid Internet user -- stupid being the common denominator, and "tard" a suffix and a word in itself. ("Tard: Adjective used to describe one so retarded, they do not deserve the 're' " -- Urban Dictionary.)

Which is why the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation must change its name. And soon.

Originally known as the Division of Mental Retardation under the Department of Mental Health, it kept "mental retardation" in its title when it changed its name 20 years ago.

Even then, retarded was a word with too much baggage. But now it's worse, bringing back movie images of wards full of dull-eyed people with mismatched clothes, bad teeth, and shuffling gaits. The village idiot, mocked and scorned.

Hollywood gave us these pictures of the mentally challenged. Maybe they were accurate at the time; maybe they weren't. What is unarguable is that they are not a picture of the cognitively disabled now.

Now is different. Now is a better world for all people with any kind of disability. Now there's inclusion and handicap access and Braille and aides and closed caption TV and community support and group homes and amazing amounts of empathy and understanding.

Which makes the use of the word retard by people who should and do know better, curious. Why the surge in use of this word now?

Lindsay Lohan has used it. Paris Hilton. Britney Spears. Courtney Love. Bill Maher. It's out there being said by the rich and famous. Two steps forward, one step back.

Words matter.
Come back.
Go away.
It's benign.
It's malignant.

Learning disabled. Special needs. Intellectual and developmental disabilities. Cognitively challenged.

Words change the way we think. Everyone knows someone who is challenged in some way -- who has autism or cancer, who is head-injured or depressed, who has war wounds, who is old -- people who need extra time or help or support to get along in the world.

And in our world today, we assist these people. We -- most of us -- do not mock them. There are exceptions.

On the Internet, when you Google "retarded" up comes a picture of a boy with Down syndrome. He has dark hair and a big smile and he's running a race, his feet in the air, his arms out straight as if he is flying. The picture is sweet. The boy looks happy. But the words on the picture are toxic: "Arguing on the Internet is like running in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded."

The word is a throwback and a setback. It's insulting, demeaning, and hurtful, and it is all over the place. Legislation to change the name of the Department of Mental Retardation has been filed, and Commissioner Gerald Morrissey supports it. "This is an issue about dignity and respect," he says. "About all citizens of the Commonwealth being treated with respect." Call it a euphemism. Call it political correctness. Call it superfluous, getting rid of a word.

Call it whatever you want. Just don't call it the Department of Mental Retardation anymore.

Very well put, Beverly. I admire you for telling it like it is!

* Update on this story: It is STILL called the Mass. Department of Mental Retardation, even several months after this article was printed. Several other states have similar state department names (Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama to name a few). There is only one way to bring about change: don't use the word and voice your opinion to governmental leaders.

If you get the opportunity, feel free to sign the pledge to not use the "R" word. You can sign it here. Make sure to read Jenna's story and the letters that accompany it too… and remember Ghandi’s words: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mother Teresa's Grace

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them." - Mother Teresa

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. The way Mother Teresa helped people throughout her time on earth has been so inspirational to me and the way I hope to live my life.

The latest controversy:
Yes, Mother Teresa died with doubts as indicated in her recently released letters... but who in the heck doesn't have doubt? It's human to doubt and does not make her phony... personally, I think it makes her more human, therefore I adore her even more!

No matter what religion you are or what you believe in, you can definitely say she was a glorious representation of the good in humanity. I hope you enjoy this video celebrating her life (gotta love the song too -"Grace" by U2).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Article of the Day: Web Marketing to a Segment Too Big to Be a Niche

I thought this was an interesting article/idea from today's New York Times...

Maybe it's just because I in the marketing mix professionally, but it is crazy to see what marketing has come to encompass over the years -- reaching into "niche" markets we didn't even know existed... but what about the mainstream "niches" that still are left unnoticed? Shouldn't marketers answer to them too?

A recently launched Website,, addresses the need for the disabled community to have a social/community networking site, just like the rest of us with our beloved Facebook and MySpace. Except this site is also coupled with information of interest to its readers: medical news, career advice, dating resources and travel tips. (They also recently acquired, a dating Web site for people with disabilities).

Among some of the advertisers who have signed contracts with the starting “boom” of Disaboom: Netflix, Johnson & Johnson, Avis, Cricket Communications and Ford Motor Company.

With this launch, Ford is highlighting its $1,000 allowance for new car buyers to avoid costs of adding adaptive equipment like wheelchair or scooter lifts, steering wheel knobs and pedal extensions. What a great and powerful opportunity for this struggling company to help generate revenue and do something socially responsible.

Advertisers are smart for jumping on the bandwagon, too. People with mobility challenges are active consumers. A 2005 Harris Interactive study commissioned by Open Doors found that 69 percent of adults with disabilities — more than 21 million people — had traveled for either business or pleasure at least once in the preceding two years. In that same period, more than half had stayed in hotels, while 31 percent had booked at least one flight and 20 percent had rented a car. More than 75 percent of people with disabilities dine out at least once a week.

Disaboom's Web presence also hopes to affect the means of communication between people with disabilities – organizing them to make one voice resound within business and government.

I found this excerpt from the article especially interesting:
"There are few media outlets that specifically aim at the disabled population, but advertisers like McDonald’s, Verizon Wireless, Sears and Honda have featured people with disabilities in their mainstream advertising. Target features disabled models in sales circulars; Kohl’s department stores use mannequins in wheelchairs in store displays. Although some of these efforts may prompt accusations of political correctness, advocates for people with disabilities say they welcome the ads."

“If you’re watching a commercial for a bank or a wireless phone carrier and you see someone in a wheelchair who is just part of the scene or background, it helps create a message that people with handicaps are integrated in society,” said Mr. Imparato, of the American Association of People With Disabilities. “Part of what that does is it normalizes having a disability.”

Now that's something we can all afford to think a little bit more about in our everyday lives. Is everyone's voice truly being represented in the mainstream? Continuing to represent all and keeping these fresh marketing ideas coming makes for an innovative way to let all voices be heard.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My Personal Commandments

I randomly find things I like and need to write about it instantly. This was one of those moments.

Inspired by writer Gretchen Rubin's blog, The Happiness Project, I decided to make a list of personal commandments to live by and thought I would share them on here.

Lauren’s Rules of the Road Ahead
1. Think before speaking
2. Live as if… (you die tomorrow, things turn out wrong, etc.)
3. Go to bed thankful
4. Love myself
5. Don't make excuses
6. Simplify and beautify the world around me
7. Reduce the drama
8. Trust my inner voice
9. Life is shades of gray - black and white thinking is unrealistic and boring
10. Choose happiness, don't chase it
11. Never stop learning
12. The next five minutes are the most important

I'm not here to be a motivational speaker, but making this list has been therapeutic. I suggest you do the same, no matter how corny you feel!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Open Your Eyes and Be Thankful

A blind mother in the Nepal sees her baby for the first time, thanks to the organization Cure Blindness.

Of all of our senses, many would say that the gift of sight is the most significant. I was reminded tonight of how truly wonderful our gift of sight is while watching National Geographic's Explorer TV show, which highlighted North Korea – the secret country we have limited contact with.

North Korea has always been a fascinating country to me, especially due to the constant controversy surrounding the country and its dictator leader, Kim Jung Il. I can't fathom how brainwashed the people are over there and often wonder what would happen if they could see how life outside their hermit county is.

The story I watched took place in Pyongyang – North Korea's capital and where the most "privileged" of Kim Jung Il's people live. It showed various aspects of the country and its people and the show was only able to videotape because the country’s people thought it was strictly for educating surgeons on how to perform the eyesight-saving surgery (which it was, in part).

Part of the story followed Dr. Sanduk Ruit, an amazing man whose team travels to less fortunate countries and performs surgeries that helps people who are blind from cataracts to be able to see again. It showed the thousands he "healed" during his 10-day stay in North Korea. Because of North Korea’s strict rules for displaying adoration for their countries “great leader,” when the people's bandages were removed, they went up to praise Kim Jung's portrait.
Not one person said thank you to Dr. Ruiz, who was the one who technically healed them... I know they don't know any better, but that bothered me... so from millions of miles away, I'd like to say thank you to Dr. Ruiz for making an impact in our world. You set the true example of living a selfless life – something we all can aspire to.

If you're interested, check out his great organization, Cure Blindness, and learn more about him and his staff and their stories and the amazing miracles they perform to those that need it most.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Consumer Consequence: How GREEN Are You?

After reading an article by Desiree Cooper of Detroit Free Press (sent to me by my lovely friend Nikki), I decided to take a look at a game called Consumer Consequences, which is designed to illustrate the impact of our lifestyles on the Earth by calculating your ecological footprint. It's part of American Public Media's special series, "Consumed," which explores whether the modern American lifestyle is sustainable in the long run.

The game asks you a series of questions about your lifestyle, and as you play, it will show you how many "Earths" of natural resources it would take to sustain all 6.6 billion humans if everyone lived like you. After taking it, I discovered that if everyone lived like me, we'd go through 3.7 planets. The place where I received the most points (which is a bad thing), was in the food category and shopping habits. My eating out habits and the type of food I consume - lots of meat and dairy didn't help (it's time to increase my veggie and fruits intake). I also am a self-proclaimed shopping addict when it comes to clothes and accessories. Time to start mending things where I can and stopping shopping as much as possible...

There are lots of hints and facts along the way that show you where you can help our planet. One thing I found interesting was that a plugged in cell phone charger consumes energy and adds to your monthly bill. I'm going to make a better effort to unplug mine daily from now on. I scored low for how much garbage I go through (one bag a week), due to all that I recycle, so that was a plus.
Take the quiz, it's VERY interesting!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Have You Been Hugged Today?

I've made a pact to myself to hug more.

Not just because the time I get to spend with friends and family is few and far between nowadays, but because now I've also learned that hugging actually has health benefits. Who woulda thunk it?

A study by University of North Carolina researchers found that hugs increase the "bonding" hormone oxytocin (essentially the hormone of love) and decrease the risk of heart disease.

In fact, it was found that when couples hugged for 20 seconds, their levels of oxytocin increased. Those in loving relationships had the highest increases. Meanwhile, levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased in women, as did their blood pressure.

Another study indicated that hugging and handholding reduce the effect of stress. Two groups of couples were asked to talk about an angry event, but one group had previously held hands and hugged, while the others sat alone.

It was found that:
- Blood pressure increased significantly more among the no-contact group as compared to the huggers.
- Heart rate among those without contact increased 10 beats a minute, compared to five beats a minute for huggers.

What's more, it's suggested that contact such as hugs and hand-holding before the start of a rough day "could carry over and protect you throughout the day." Isn't that pleasant sounding?

Read the stats and article referenced here. They're pretty amazing! And remember: a hug is free and the benefits are priceless, so hug away your day!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Face of Autism

Here's Quinn's story.

Being Autistic, Being Human

The Centers for Disease Control reports that 1 in 150 children in the U.S. is now diagnosed somewhere on the spectrum of autism, making it a condition that affects many lives and families across the nation.

The word "autis" in Greek is the word for "self" and is a condition when a person lives - literally - in their own world.

Reports tend to focus on the physiology and neurology behind autism, or on the possible causes or cures. The more I've learned through these stories, the more interested I've become in learning about the inner workings of people living with autism.

I'll never forget a boy with autism I met a few years ago. I've never been more astounded by the human mind. The boy, we'll call him Charlie, was in a Special Ed classroom setting, but if you were to base on looks alone, you wouldn't think he belonged. He looked "normal," however, he had a hard time communicating. He just made noises and you had to guess as to what he wanted. After sitting with him for awhile and feeling as if I was talking to myself, I saw the amazement of his mind. He began writing his name, and his perfect printing astounded me (think book-worthy print). I then started talking to him about math, and then I gave him some equations to work out... his math skills were amazing. I was taken aback... why couldn't he communicate then?

I learned that Charlie has a type of autism called Asperger Syndrome, which is characterized by "difficulties in social interaction and by restricted and stereotyped interests and activities." This explains his facination with math.

Since then, I've made it a goal to continue to learn about autism and the people affected by it. I recently came across a radio segment on American Public Media's Web site. Throughout the segment, the featured guests discuss life with their child with autism and how it has deepened their understanding of human nature.

Tune in here to hear their thoughts. And make sure to check out Quinn's story in the YouTube video above to learn about one boy's journey with autism.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

News Flash: Divorce Rates Down, Marriages Lasting a Lifetime

It's a shame the media chooses to focus on celebrities and their extravagant marriages followed by bitter divorces... new studies actually show that divorce isn't hip at all - at least in REAL life.

According to recently released Census Bureau stats, divorce rates were reported as being the highest ever. But, because the stats were compiled in 2004, these aren't relevant anymore since it is nearly four years later... (silly government, why can't these stats come out in a timely manner?) In actuality, new studies show divorce rates in 2007 are down, and in fact, are as low as they were in 1970.

So, make sure to stock up on those 25th anniversary cards - chances are that those who take those forever vows will be with their life partner until death.

To me, things are looking up in America!

Is it because more young people are worried to go through what they saw their parents experience? Or are more getting married after getting a college education? Read interesting CBS article with varying opinions on why this is happening here.

Haitian Baby Saved


I read a story the other day by Patricia Montemurri of Twist about a Michigan girl who had such a big heart to save a Haitian baby that had a tumor the size of a baseball and was incredibly touched.

The story highlighted 20-year-old Midland native Mallery Thurlow and her love of God and calling to be a missionary to the people of Haiti - one of the world's poorest countries.

Reading this gives me hope for our future... and shows the world that all us younglings aren't selfish... It also shows how people coming together can make a giant difference in the life of an innocent (and adorable) child. Read the story here and prepare to be touched.

Friday, September 28, 2007

THiNK PiNK During October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month

What is more fun than the color pink? I can't think of much. Yet in October, pink symbolizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month - a time when people band together and reflect on a cause affecting thousands of our nation's women (and men).

When I was in college, I had a breast cancer scare. My doctor found a lump during my annual exam and wanted me to watch it for the next two weeks and then come back for a follow-up appointment. Me, being a naïve 20-year-old, didn’t think to ask too many questions and proceeded on as normal. Upon telling my mother and worrying her sick, I started to think about it a little more… what if I did have cancer? Those next two weeks of wondering were unsettling… It’s not the best thought to have when you are in college and trying to find a balance between hitting the books and appearing at parties.

Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t have to be faced with a sullen look on a doctor’s face upon my return visit to the office. The lump had disappeared and I had nothing more to worry about.

That event inspired me to always make sure I educate people (especially my girlfriends) about the importance of annual breast exams. I would hope all of you – especially during October – are reminded of this wherever you go out in public and are faced with the sea of pink out there.

To honor the month, I did a little digging to find some of my favorite pink-inspired products with proceeds benefiting a legit and wonderful cause - the Susan G. Komen For The Cure.

Here were some highlights:

* HOT for a Cause travel mug ($17.99, available at Komen's Promise Shop) By using this mug, you can show everyone that you are HOT for a cure – and a world without breast cancer.

* Every woman's fantasy: the color pink + chocolate.
M&M's has created a special pink pack of M&M'S called the "Promise Blend" with 10% of sales going to Komen. These are so cute!

* Panera Bread is producing their Pink Ribbon Bagel (very delish and only 89 cents) during the month of October with 25 cents of all bagels sold benefiting Komen. This is my office's favorite... try it and prepare to be amazed!

* If you're blind like me and use Bausch & Lomb's Renu Contact Solution, why not buy something for a cause? Plus, it comes with a sassy pink case and 75 cents of all boxes sold benefit Komen.

* Oreck Corp. is selling a special pink Oreck vacuum cleaner, making cleaning much more fun in pink. For each one purchased through the end of this year, Oreck will donate $50 to Komen, with a minimum donation of $500,000 and no maximum limit.

See more here:

So Komen does great things, but what's the story behind the organization?
I was curious to know too. Come to find out, the founder of Komen - Nancy G. Brinker, lost her sister "Suzy" to breast cancer. It was Suzy's desire to help others and work to defeat the terrible disease that gave Nancy the inspiration to create such an amazing organization. Read the story here.

This month, remember breast cancer doesn't just exist as another disease in the world. For many of us, it has touched our lives in some form or another – whether it’s in ourselves, in our mothers, grandmothers, sisters or friends.

THiNK PiNK this October.

Falling in Love With Fall

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."
- Stanley Horowitz

Even though I missed the technical date for the autumn equinox, I still wanted to throw this in... Who can beat Michigan in the fall? We are one of the lucky ones that get to experience all seasons, just remember that and be thankful.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Save the Planet via Peanut Butter!

Who doesn't like peanut butter and saving the environment? My Twitter buddy 21 Century dishes here:
Check it.

When Shopping, Don't Forget About Michigan

How ironic, I was just thinking about doing some research and writing a blog about all the wonderful Michigan-made products that are out there when I came across a great story today by Kate Lawson of the Detroit News featuring such foods (see article: Buy Local, Buy Fresh).

I had the "blog idea" last night when I was reflecting on all the chaos that is swallowing up my beloved mitten state. I started playing scenarios in my mind that could help our state to flourish like it did in the 1920's, and I came up with this thought: What if Michigan closed itself off from the rest of the states and began fending strictly for ourselves? No national trade agreements needed with foreign countries, no milk and cheese from Wisconsin or pineapple from the tropics... We could only eat our food and use Michigan-made products. I quickly realized that that situation could never happen, but alas, made a note to myself to start paying more attention to where my stuff originates.

Granted it can be a challenge, but it truly would be great if we all agreed to try to buy Michigan-made products when given the opportunity to choose (regardless of price). Sure, sometimes the no-name Michigan brands prove to be more costly then all the products we have from China, but doesn't it feel good that we are helping our state that so desperately needs our love and support?

So what are some Michigan-specific products? You have the infamous Faygo pop, Koegel hot dogs and Better Made chips, but what else is out there?

There's condiments, dips and marinades. Cherry-made products, including wine. Golf and hunting items. And of course, fresh meat and produce from Michigan farmers.
And according to the article, there's a lot more and I've only highlighted a few:
Sauces: Al Dente pasta and sauces; Andiamo's sauces; Sweet Lorraine's marinades; Garden Fresh Gourmet salsas (my personal fave) Billy Bones barbecue sauces; Sensonetti salsas; Cafi Cortina pasta sauces; Freshwater Foods toppings, sauces and marinades; American Spoon Foods jams, jellies and preserves; and Kenzoil.

Breads and desserts: Achatz pies; Avalon Bakery breads; Gayle's Chocolates (another amazing one); Johnny B's cookies; Alinosi's ice cream; Stucchi's ice cream; Guernsey Dairy; Spillson's Rice Pudding; The Bloomfield Canopy's The Original Cheesecake Co.

Miscellaneous: Buell Honey; Safies pickled beets, asparagus, peppers, beans, pickles; Wee Bee Farms honey; A Bean To Go Coffee; Germack nuts; Trenary Toast; Stakich bee pollen and royal jelly; Kingslake & Crane Granola; Zingerman's coffee, breads and cheeses; and oh, the Michigan wines.

For a comprehensive, Michigan-specific list of products, check out this site: The Directory of Michigan Made Products.

So next time you're shopping at a Michigan store, think of putting your money back into the state a bit. And, most importantly, don't forget your post-consumer recycled tote to carry all your goodies in.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lions Club Does Not Just Mean Tootsie Rolls

I never really had an understanding of the Lions Club and what they do until the following news release prompted me to scope out their Web site...

Come to find out the Lions Club really does a heck of a lot more than pass out candy for pennies at grocery stores -- they help people, and in a major way. Here is another example of how Americans have helped our so-called "enemies" in Iraq.

American Soldier and Wisconsin Lions Clubs Team Up to Give Iraqi Girl Chance to See
Lions Clubs, Aspirus Wausau Hospital and Lions Eye BankDonate Corneal Transplant to 7-Year-Old

Wausau, WI - (August 27, 2007) - Sergeant John Kempen, United States Army, and the Lions clubs of Wisconsin could help a 7-year-old girl from Iraq see clearly for the first time in her life after she receives corneal transplant surgery next week. Kempen, stationed in Iraq from August 2005 to December 2006, noticed the girl, named Zahraa, couldn’t see well when he was tossing candy to her.

“We always threw candy to the kids and gave them the presents people sent from the U.S.,” said Sgt. Kempen, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. “We were in Iraq for 14 months and soldiers got really bummed out so giving gifts to the kids cheered us up. The kids love it; and they really go after the candy, but Zahraa could never get any. She was holding her hands over her eyes in pain.”

Sgt. Kempen, now stationed at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks Alaska, took Zahraa to see his medic and then spoke to Iraqi doctors who said they couldn’t help her. He spoke to Zahraa’s father who said that she was born with a vision condition and all the doctors could do was give her eye drops that had little effect. Her father said Zahraa has felt like she has sand in her eyes ever since she was a baby.

“Zahraa has swollen corneas and blisters on the front of the cornea which is why she can’t see through them very well,” said Doctor Kevin Flaherty, M.D, who specializes in corneal external disease at the Eye Clinic of Wisconsin. “The front surface of her cornea is breaking down from the swelling which makes her uncomfortable and the blisters make her feel like there is a foreign object in her eye constantly, hence her description of the sand.”

“Zahraa’s vision is at 20/400, which means that with a lot of effort, she can barely make out the large ‘E’ on the eye chart,” Dr. Flaherty continued. “It’s like she’s looking through a very steamy window. She can see objects and shapes but she cannot make out anything clearly.”

A year ago Sgt. Kempen turned to the Lions clubs, known for their work to combat preventable blindness around the world, for help. His mother of Crandon, WI worked with the Crandon Lions Club to arrange for Zahraa to enter the U.S. to be evaluated by Dr. Flaherty at the Eye Clinic of Wisconsin.

“Through the help of the Lions clubs and Sgt. Kempen we’re hoping to help Zahraa see as normally as she can,” said Dr. Flaherty. “I am optimistic that surgery should improve things for her. She hasn’t had a clear cornea for many years, but she’s of an age where she still has the opportunity to have her vision improved.”

The Lions clubs of Crandon and Wausau, WI worked with Sgt. Kempen, his mother and Lions Clubs International to arrange for Zahraa to receive the corneal transplant. The corneas and surgery will be donated by the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin in Madison and Aspirus Wausau Hospital. The services will be donated by Dr. Flaherty and the Eye Clinic of Wisconsin.

“We are so happy that Zahraa and her grandmother are finally here. We have worked hard to make this happen,” said Frank Bocek, past president of the Crandon Lions Club. “Sgt. Kempen and his mother called us because they knew Lions fight blindness—and that if anyone could help Zahraa, it was the Lions. This was a real community effort and we thank Aspirus Wausau Hospital, the Lions Eye Bank and all the others who helped make this possible. We hope we can help Zahraa see well and make her eyes feel better, too.”

The Lions of Wisconsin were able to work through many channels to help Zahraa and her grandmother obtain American visas. Students from Crandon Elementary School raised money to help fund Zahraa’s travel to the U.S. A Wausau-based Lion and seasoned host family will house Zahraa and her grandmother for the duration of her stay in the U.S. which will last at least eight weeks.

Lions are well known for their work to end preventable blindness, which began in 1925 in response to a challenge from Helen Keller. Over the past 16 years, Lions have given $202 million in grant funding for sight-related projects such as cataract surgeries, building eye hospitals and clinics, vision testing in preschool and elementary schools, distributing sight-saving medication to prevent river blindness and training eye care professionals.

“The fact that the Lions were able to bring Zahraa to the U.S. alone is a miracle,” said Sgt. Kempen, who will visit Zahraa in Wisconsin during her recovery. “Now if they can help give her the gift of sight or even just stop the discomfort she feels in her eyes, all the hard work will be worth it.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NOW OPEN: Asian Village of Detroit

Photo by Jason Grant Benberry

Everyone needs a little sushi in their lives and with Asian Village of Detroit finally open, us downtown workers can now enjoy it daily!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Look on the Bright Side

I read this forwarded email from my mom and got to thinking... there really ALWAYS is a positive to things.

John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"
He was a natural motivator.

If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, "I don't get it!

You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?"

He replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or ... you can choose to be in a bad mood

I choose to be in a good mood."

Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.

Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or... I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.

"Yeah, right, it's not that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is," he said. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood.

You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life."

I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident.

When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I'd be twins...Wanna see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

"The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter," he replied. "Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or...I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?" I asked

He continued, "..the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me," said John.

"She asked if I was allergic to anything 'Yes, I replied.' The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'GRAVITY'!"

Over their laughter, I told them, "I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead."

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude... I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.

Attitude, after all, is everything. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

After all, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Smile's Worth A Prayer of Thanks

"I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite."
- Buddy the Elf from Elf

Have you ever thought about physically not being able to smile? Such a natural expression to most of us... except those that suffer from Moebious Syndrome.
I learned about Moebious Syndrome on Discovery Health's "Medical Incredible" show. It prompted me to do a little research. I learned that it is a muscular weakness on both sides of the face, due to facial nerve paralysis. The girl who was featured just wanted to smile and be "normal." My heart broke as I watched the show.
It made me start to imagine a life without smiles... when a friend says "say cheese," you can't give anything but a blank stare. You hear the funniest joke ever and you can't show your appreciation to the comedian. You see the most gorgeous person and you want to show your interest in them with a smile, but you simply can't. My smile is a gift I never realized I had until today.
Just another life lesson in not taking anything for granted.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Red Scarves Benefit Orphans

Crafters alert! Can you knit or crochet?

I surely can't, but I've been inspired to learn... After doing some research for a client, I came across this great organization that's making waves in the lives of our nation's orphans. It's called the Red Scarf Project and is a way a unique way to send warmth and encouragement to college-bound foster youth. I know as an ex-college student how much a care package from parents (or anyone for that matter) can bring sunshine to your day. Check out the site and the cause and knit away!

A great blog has started too as a result of this fabulous project, find it here: nownormaknits.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Volunteer Opp: Team Up with United Way and Panera Bread of SE Michigan

Here's a great volunteer opportunity that's going to be taking place around the metro Detroit area. It's with United Way of Southeast Michigan and Panera Bread and is called "Impact Your Neighborhood." The program is series of various volunteer events and are just a one-day (just in the morning) commitments.

I'm super excited about this program because not only is a great way to help out, but it's a perfect opportunity for us people out there that don't have a whole lot of extra volunteer time to devote to a single organization.

Here's the line-up of events through December:

Saturday, September 8, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. @ Vista Maria, an organization dedicated to helping at-risk girls (ages 11-17) based in Dearborn Heights. Volunteers will meet at the Dearborn Heights Panera location.

Saturday, October 27, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. @ Lighthouse PATH in Pontiac. This organization helps out homeless mothers and children. Volunteers will volunteers will participate in a Halloween craft activity with the organization’s women and their children and will meet at the Bloomfield Hills Panera locations.

Saturday, November 10, 10 a.m. – Noon @ First Step, a domestic violence shelter based in Plymouth. Volunteers will assist with an outdoor and indoor beautification project and will meet at the Plymouth Panera location.

Saturday, December 8, 9 a.m. – Noon @ Gleaners in Taylor. The volunteer activity will be to sort and pack donated food items for delivery to homeless shelters and other area non-profit organizations -- perfect for the holidays! Volunteers will meet at the Southgate Panera.

To sign-up to volunteer, visit the United Way website at or call (313) 226-9200.

All you people, let me know if you can make any of these events, I'd be happy to go with you!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Seeing a Rainbow within Hurricane Katrina

I write this blog with a heavy heart because today is the 2-year anniversary of hurricane Katrina -- one of the costliest ($40 bill+) and deadliest (1,000+ people, not to mention lots of animals too) hurricanes in the history of the United States.

I was fortunate enough to go on an Alternative Break trip my senior year of college in which I spent a week helping with disaster relief a few months after the mess occurred (photo by yours truly). My team was able to help to rebuild a garden served by the developmentally disabled at the ARC-GNO, among other things. The people we met and everything we saw in that week touched us all deeply and reminded us of what incredibly lucky people we all are.

So, what POSITIVE things have been done since the disaster struck? A little investigating helps me to get to the bottom of this...

Not only have many lives been restored, but thousands of volunteers and families have come together as a result. After a bit of digging, I came across this awesome blog developed by a NOLA Web site called "Touched by an Angel." I recommend you all take a look to see some of the incredible, positive things that have come as a result of the tragedy:

Here's one story that speaks volumes to me:

Soles for the soul
Posted by Mike Gamble August 29, 2007 2:20AM
My story is one of compassion and generosity. My wife Alison and I spent two weeks in Destin, Fl. in Sept. 2005. We were put up by FEMA at a small motel on Hwy. 98. We had breakfast most mornings at the Destin Church of Christ, just a few blocks away.
Several members donated their time and talents every morning to cook and serve us a wonderful hot meal. On our last morning there we were asked if we needed any clothing, shoes, toiletries, etc.
I had evacuated Lakeview with only the pair of sandals I was wearing, so I asked if there were any size 9-1/2 shoes available. We were taken to a storage room with many shelves of mens and ladies shoes separated by size.
I found a pair of relatively new Sperry Topsiders that were my size, and asked if I could have them. I was told that, yes they were now mine. I was also told that they belonged to a church member named Tom (I forget his last name).
When I asked how in the world she knew who donated these particular shoes, she related this story. At service a few Sundays prior to our leaving she was asking members as they left the church if they had any size 9-1/2 shoes for donation (they had run out of that size).
When she asked Tom he took off his shoes and gave them to her right there on the spot. He then walked to his car in his stocking feet and drove home. I still choke up when I think of his generosity.
I wore those shoes for several weeks and finally got around to buying a new pair. I have those shoes in my closet and some day would like to personally return them to Tom. They still have a lot of life left in them!
Maybe things aren't quite perfect in NOLA and may never be, but something did come of this mess: HOPE for a better tomorrow.

Thanks to Mike for sharing his story and making us all realize how small acts of kindness can result in a big change in a person's perspective on life.

(NOTE: This blog is dedicated to my dear friend Sarah, my AB team and of course, Ms. Jane our favorite NOLA person!)

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Little Dolphin That Could

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Ghandi

What a great quote. It's funny how in return, the animals will treat us well. Here's some snipets to this amazing "tail" I read about in the Freep yesterday.

About Winter (dolphin pictured)
Winter lives at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a nonprofit marine animal-rescue center in Clearwater, Florida.
She was a frail, dehydrated 3-month-old when she came to the hospital in December 2005. A fisherman had found her tangled in the buoy line of a crab trap in Indian River Lagoon near Cape Canaveral. The line cut off the blood supply to her tail, and it slowly fell off like shreds of paper as the aquarium team worked to save her life. Both Winter's tail flukes and peduncle, a wrist-like joint that allows her tail to move up and down, were lost.

Winter learned how to swim without her tail, which is used for propulsion -- amazing her handlers with a unique combination of moves that resemble an alligator's undulating swimming style and a shark's side-to-side tail swipes. Winter uses her flippers, normally employed for steering and braking, to get moving.
Enter prosthetic specialist Kevin Carroll who worked to re-create a tail for Winter.

Amid concentrating on Winter's unique situation, lessons were also learned that will benefit human amputees. For example, Carroll found that the gel sleeve he developed to cling to what's left of 18-month-old Winter's tail without irritating her sensitive skin also soothed a painful prosthesis for Air Force Senior Airman Brian Kolfage, who lost both legs and his right hand in a 2004 mortar attack in Iraq. The sleeve sticks to Winter's tail with suction the same way a rubber surgical glove grips a human hand.

Carroll, who like the others on Winter's team volunteers his time and resources, began by brainstorming elaborate vacuum attachments, then settled on the simple silicone gel sleeve.

Handlers slide the sleeve over Winter's stump and move her tail up and down, teaching her how to swim like a normal dolphin when the prosthesis is attached.

After rescuing sea turtles a few years ago on an Alternative Break, I've learned the importance animals have -- not only to our food chain, but to our overall quality-of-life. Lesson for all: report the cruel Michael Vicks of the world, commend the people that help our animals to survive and take time each day to appreciate our earth's creatures that don't have their own voice to be heard.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sarah McLachlan - World On Fire

I cannot get enough of this video. Everyone needs to watch it at least once and take it all in...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I found this to be very interesting and thought I would share...

It's an index of happiness around the world.

Green = Happiest
Red = Least happy

Canadians, Norwegians and Swedes, what's your secret pray tell?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Green is Sexy

One of the biggest trends as of late are post-recycled material grocery bags. Let me tell you, these are hot, handy, and all-purpose items!

Owning one not only makes you feel good about not contributing to a landfill packed with plastic, but they have great, fashionable photos and can hold a heck of a lot! I got my hot pink one for 99 cents - at Farmer Jack (RIP), but I've seen them everywhere. Now that's a steal that's both sexy and green. Just please don't go out and buy one of the expensive designer ones... that's ridiculous. It's for your groceries, not a poddle. Puh-lease.

Other "green" ideas? Check out tips @:
It's a very cute Web site with lots of great tips and products that do the earth good.

Here's one great product posted on the site:
Preserve toothbrushes are made from recycled plastic (mostly yogurt cups) and are 100% recyclable themselves. When your Preserve toothbrush is ready for retirement, the company sends you a postage-paid mailer to return it to them for recycling. Preserve converts your old toothbrush into plastic lumber, which is used for things like picnic tables in parks! For more info on Preserve toothbrushes, including where to buy them, go to:
Saving the earth and avoiding cavities... now that's productive.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Campaign for Real Beauty - A Site Not to be Missed

This is a link all women out there need to go to. Not only will it inspire you, but it will empower you to always do things that display your true beauty -- outside and in. Yay for serious Girl Power!

The Story of Miles Levin: A Teen Sharing Cancer With the World in a Beautiful Way

Miles Levin, an inspiration to many around the world – and especially in Metro Detroit -- passed away yesterday. This is devastating news because he was so young and talented, but it is also beautiful news because we all know he's in a better place and in his short life he was able to teach us so many lessons on the value of life.

I came across the 18-year-old's blog a few months ago after reading a story in The Detroit News. I quickly became intrigued by reading the blog, which was written from a sobering perspective – he was living with Stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and deadly type of cancer. I felt guilty reading about someone else's pain, but thankful that I was granted yet another reminder of life’s preciousness.

My heart broke as I learned about his life and how he had to watch as friends in high school live “normal” lives, thinking ahead to the days of college, marriage and children, meanwhile Miles didn't know what was procedure was next or what was going to happen the next day or when the cancer would consume him for good. But he didn't let those thoughts faze him.

I found him to be amazing.... I didn’t know him, yet I felt so inspired by him. He was literally an 18-year-old trapped with a mind that some 80-year-olds don't even posses. His lust for life was undeniable and he easily was a magnet to many people searching for inspiration.

Here is just one of many thoughtful and inspiring excerpts from his blog:
"I went to the driving range the other day and I was thinking... I was thinking how you start out with a big bucket full of golf balls, and you just start hitting away carelessly. You have dozens of them, each individual ball means nothing so you just hit, hit, hit. One ball gone is practically inconsequential when subtracted from your bottomless bucket. There are no practice swings or technique re-evaluations after a bad shot, because so many more tries remain. Yet eventually you start to have to reach down towards the bottom of the bucket to scavenge for another shot and you realize that tries are running out. Now with just a handful left, each swing becomes more meaningful. The right technique becomes more crucial, so between each shot you take a couple practice swings and a few deep breaths. There is a very strong need to end on a good note, even if every preceeding shot was horrible, getting it right at the end means a lot. You know as you tee up your last ball, "This is my final shot, I want to crush this with perfection; I must make this count." Limited quantities or limited time brings a new, precious value and signficance to anything you do. Live every day shooting as if its your last shot, I know I have to. I found out today 5 year survival rates are just 20%."

Miles has a lesson we all can/should learn -- stop and smell the flowers, feel the grass beneath your feet, bask in the sun and love and be loved -- you never know what tomorrow may bring.

RIP Miles. We all know yesterday was a day for another angel to get *wings.*

If you get the opportunity, check out his blog via Beaumont hospital's CarePages Web site at (you have to register, then type in "LevinStory" in the search bar).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Random Ramblings for the Day

Quote to think about
"It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living."
--Oliver Wendell Holmes, writer
Well put, Oliver!

Fun outing for the day
McDonald's is giving out FREE coffee in metro Detroit on Wednesday's (not sure for how long). The best part is, we're talking flavored iced lattes too, not just run-of-the-muck icky blackness!

It's true, corporate America can have some heart too... and as a lover of both coffee and all things free, it just made my hump day go by that much quicker!

The glass is half full in the world of Google
When running a Google search for the word "optimism," I found 17,500,000 results.
When I ran a similar search on "pessimism," I found 4,070,000 results.
Funny how that really makes me feel optimistic about the world.

I also learned that your iGoogle homepage can be made into a creative expression of your personality... all you have to do is click on the "add stuff" link. Where have I been with this one, folks?

I went a little crazy and added several quotes of the day, a daily "this day in history" factoid, USA Today headlines, NPR briefs and hot CD releases + more. Man, I am going to become the queen of everything hip now. I honestly learned about five new useless facts, its great!

Some other favorites that can be added: funny cat photos, words of Christ, date ideas, a body fat calculator, beer news, a daily water tracker and a Chuck Norris fact generator (I'm totally adding it now).

Check it. Keep the creativity alive, Google! Soon you'll have me more hooked than Facebook...maybe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"CNN Heroes"

I was watching CNN today and heard about a great special reporting segment they are running called "CNN Heroes."

The story that was highlighted was about a former soccer star in Haiti who has decided to dedicate his life's work to promising athletes that are growing up in Cité Soleil, the country’s largest slum. He founded L’Athletique d’Haiti, a program that offers after-school sports and tutoring to 1,300 children a day.

What a great man. Makes you thankful there's still some genuine hearts out there.

Kudos to CNN. It's about time the "real" people start getting some recognition for their efforts from persuasive media.

There's a bunch of great hero stories from all kinds of real people making a difference on the site. Keep it up, ya'll.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Miracles A-Plenty

Tiny miracle baby survives war-torn Iraq... isn't she precious?

Reviving One Life in a War Zone
Baby Girl Found Near Baghdad Home After Mother, Uncle Shot to Death

Staff Sgt. David D. Highsmith takes his turn with little Fatima Jbouri at the American military's 28th Combat Support Hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Aug. 2, 2007. Jbouri was found under a metal sheet after her mother was killed.

One of the littlest survivors in Baghdad is 10-month-old Fatima Jbouri, who is now in the care of American medical personnel after gunmen killed her mother and uncle in their Baghdad home.

After the murders, Jbouri was dumped — literally — outside in the garbage on a day when the temperature hit 118 degrees.

Iraqi police found her in the rubble and handed her over to U.S. soldiers, who brought the severely underweight baby to the combat support hospital in the Green Zone. She then gained 3 pounds in less than three weeks.

"When she first got here, she looked like this little alien child," 1st Lt. Katie Van Beusekomon told ABC's Miguel Marquez. "Now she's just like this cute little baby that … screams at us when we don't feed her."

She said finding this baby was a "miracle," given what is going on in Iraq.

And, among all the severely injured casualties of war, Jbouri has been a gift for those in the hospital.

"She can get fussy, but it's very pleasant to have her and not have to deal with all the blood and gore, and she's just doing well and healthy, and to see that is very, very pleasant," said 1st Lt. Hattie McDowell.

To escape the noise and chaos in the trauma ward, the nurses have set up Jbouri's crib in a quiet and cool supply closet.

Although she won't be a permanent resident in the hospital, the staff would like to find relatives to take care of her, and reunite her with her five brothers and sisters who are now in an orphanage.

But saying goodbye will not be easy for her caretakers.

"It's hard being a health care provider in an American hospital, because we take care of these kids, we send them out, and we're left wondering," said Beusekomon.

Source: ABC News

Baby Fatima has suffered all she can. Let's make sure to keep her in our thoughts, she's an inspiration to all of the fighters in the world.

A Wise Man

I just read something profound and beautiful...

A Wise Man
As Ghandi stepped aboard a train one day, one of his shoes slipped off and landed on the track.

As the train started to roll, he was unable to retrieve it. To the amazement of his companions, Ghandi calmly took off his other shoe and threw it back along the track to land close to the first shoe. Asked by a fellow passenger why he did that, Ghandi replied, "The poor man who finds the shoes lying on the track will now have a pair he can use."

I've decided to start a blog displaying a collection of stories/ideas/expressions like this that show the bright spots of life's intracacies. This blog is going to be for my people out there looking for meaning beyond measure in simple everyday things, just like myself.

Each day I read something that makes me feel, whether it's stories of countries far away or right here in the D. It's time to share a little piece of my brain pie with the world.