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.