Would I be posting on social media if I only still had my Kodak 110 camera?

 

Remember the Kodak’s 110 Camera? It was my treasure.  It was so skinny and it could fit in to my Levi jeans without any problem! Ah… those were the days. When all you had was 24 chances for taking photos and carefully chose the time and place. Would you save them for your upcoming trip or use them all on your child’s birthday party?

“Back in the days” we weren’t photographing every single movement of a child, every car at the auto show or every play at a sporting event. Instead we were involved in real conversations and enjoying life without the need to view it through a lens. There were some occasions when once in a while a person might snap a photo without you knowing. (Case in point, the photo of me below taken in the 1970’s). But, overall a photograph was usually formal and well thought out, after all you were restricted by the number of photos on your camera film. For me – that was 24. Plain and simple.

“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective.”  ~Irving Penn

 

Confession 1. I was guilty of using more than my share of Kodak film with 24 exposures. But times have changed. Currently I am THAT PERSON who is busy snapping away with my iPhone and digital camera. Why not!? I no longer have limited chances of “getting it right”. I can hone my photography skills until my battery dies!

 

But, why am I taking photo after photo after photo?

 

Maybe it is because I am worried I won’t remember conversations or special moments in later years? And it is true that I have “self-designated” myself as the “chronicler” of family moments? Obviously, I have an addiction to photography and all technology associated with it? Or perhaps the real reason is simply I like the story that a photo is able to tell. A photo can speak volumes. A photo can convey in a way that words may fail.

For example, without one single typed or spoken word I bet you can imagine a story behind the photo I posted below. So much to view and possibilities.

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.”

~Robert Frank

 

Confession 2. When you work within the social media milieu you snap a lot of photos. Why? Well for starters, images can be focus of a social post. And, interesting images that are taken at cool venues make for high engaging posts If you are working for a brand then you know that high engagement equals happy clients.

Being a social correspondent on a red carpet can be fun, but in all honesty, there are a lot of challenges with getting the right photo at the right time during these high intensity events. There are exceptions, however. Such as this photo of pop artist/ singer Emii. Taken at the iPain Foundation gala, she posed with ease and the backdrop of the logo balloons was perfect! The venue was rustic and not fancy, but, she posed beautifully and without a blink. This photo was the result. Needless to say it garnered a “few likes” on social media.

In closing, I am glad we have moved beyond the Brownie camera, Kodak 110’s and even the standard camera of not that long ago that used “real film”. I am pretty sure that social media would look a lot differently if it wasn’t for the ability for a photographer or a aficionado of photography to have more than “24 chances”. Dare I even think if social media would not have even been as huge an entity if it weren’t for the digital camera?

What do you think?

 

Original article Linkedin on my account. Edited for WordPress

Featured Photo taken by me on an iPhone 6 plus of the kids from This Is Us taken at the Celebrity Connected Gifting Suite, 2017.

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Photo Credit: Sattler

Retro Bill – Teaching character, safety and acceptance to school children and organizations

I first met Bill Russo, aka Retro Bill, at a movie premiere that spotlighted the impact family and school emotional abuse and bullying have on an entire town.  The movie, White Rabbit, seemed to truly resonate with Retro Bill on more than a professional level.  After reading and learning more about him, I realized that his background perhaps was similar to that of many, many people.  So, without further adieu I share you my interview with actor, spokesperson, speaker and now my friend, Retro Bill!

Q1:  Hi Bill – Been almost two years or so since we met via a mutual friend,  tell me are you native to California?
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. Boy Scouts, a Tree Fort, Cornfield Mazes, Little League Games and then many trips to the BIG CITY – Chicago! 
 billwave
Q2:  How would you describe your experience as a student?  What were your challenges? What did you enjoy about learning or school?
  In some respects, school was GREAT! In other respects…TRAMATIC. I seemed to get bullied a lot:  “You’re TOO nice! You’re a WIMP!  You’re too skinny! You have buck teeth! You have pimples that look like Volcanoes.” I did my best to let the put downs roll off my back (“Like Water on a Duck” my Grandma said).  I always had a soft spot in my heart for the other Boys and Girls being bullied, and I would talk to them (Cheer ’em up) and or just let them know “You’re Special Just the Way You Are” (very Billy Joel) and “You’ve got a Friend in Me” (very Toy Story).

 

Watch clips of Retro Bill

WATCH RETRO BILL MEDIA CLIPS

 

Q3: You are gaining quite a reputation for bringing educationally sound programs against bullying to schools and other organizations. Tell us more!

 

I have had the HONOR of being the International D.A.R.E. Program’s “Safety & Self-Esteem Buddy” for 20 years.  This PRIVILEGE has given me the chance to work with Police Officers throughout North America.  I have delivered my Motivational Good Character based/Anti-Bullying/Healthy Life Choices Presentations to Elementary, Middle and High School Students in all 50 States, and throughout all of the Provinces of Canada. Which has put me currently in a position of being one of the most in-demand.  Motivational Speakers for Youth (K-12th Grade) in North America.  And, my friend Leeza Gibbons has Publicly declared on national television that she feels, “Retro Bill is primed to be the 21st Century’s Mr. Rogers!” An HONOR to be sure!

Q4: Where would you like to be with these programs in one year, 2, 5?
I have such a HUGE FAN BASE!  And I’ve been doing this so long, my FANS are ow at an age
where THEY’RE HAVING KIDS!  I am ready (and the demand is high) for more DVDS, 
a National Television Show (maybe as a Host dealing with issues Kids K-12th Grade are
dealing with…  Sort of a Dr. Drew for Kids!) I also see a SeriusXM Radio show in the
future that would play “Retro” (50’s, 60s, 70s and 80’s music) in between Interviews and
my providing Advice and Motivation.  It would be loads of fun to tie-in some of the music
with the advice… EXAMPLE: Let’s say I answer a call or email that asks, “Why does my
Mom ask SO MANY questions!?  Why won’t she let me go to a party that is unSupervised
by adults.  Does she not trust me!?”  My advice (pro-Mom of course) would then lead
to, “She LOVES You!” And, cue the Beatles “She Loves You!  Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”
 officialdare
Q6:  How can we help?
Putting the word out!  Schedule RETRO BILL for assemblies at your schools!
Rural. Urban. Public. Private. Christian Schools. Catholic Schools. Jewish Synagogues
(for Children’s Studies), Charter Schools, Kindergarten through 12th Grade… I have 
Messages for ALL Ages!  And my Messages RESONATE and make a POSITIVE 
IMPACT! Additionally, I am primed and ready for a “Hollywood Agent” who can
help me capitalize on ALL that I’ve done and built! I have over 100 Letters of
Recommendation on my website from Teachers, Principals, Superintendents,
Government Dignitaries and News Agencies touting my appeal and connection
with my fan base. I’ve got two Award-Winning Children’s dvds already successfully
in the market place.  I have a media reel (viewable at my website) with Celebrities
and News Agencies across America singing “Retro Bill’s” praises! I just need
that “contact” that can put Retro Bill in mee
tings with Media Decision Makers!
I’ve spent 20 years of my Life doing the leg-work to build the Brand (including
over 37,000 Likes on Facebook). 
 antibullying
Q7:  Must ask –  If you could design your “favorite kind of day” it would be….?
Waking up to sunshine.  Being able to get out of bed of my own ability.
A fresh cup of coffee. Tasty breakfast. Perfectly blown dry pompadour.
At least ONE Retro Bill Show in the day, connecting with Kids and hearing
from them that I “Made a Positive Difference!”  The day would end in casual
clothes, hair spray and gel washed out (ala, “hair down”), a walk on the beach
as the sun sets… A quiet dinner with friends. A quick soak in the jacuzzi
and fall asleep by a crackling fireplace while listening to easy listening
jazz and sufring the web via my laptop. AMEN.
Retro Bill and Louise at SPAGO Beverly Hills
Retro Bill and Louise
Q8:  Social media – Your favorite platform and why?
So far, one of my FAV Social Media platforms is Facebook (as I’ve got over 37,000
Likes and it’s kind of cool to be “Verified!”)  I didn’t even start my Facebook Fan Page
until a few years after Facebook had been on-line.  For a while I refused to have Facebook
or Twitter because I wanted my young Fans to know they didn’t need to be involved with
Social Media to be Cool or have their Own unique identity.  POPULAR and HIGH
DEMAND from my Fans (AND their Parents) finally inspired me to post a Twitter
and Facebook page. I also love Twitter (although I got my Twitter page up years
after Twitter had been around, and so, I’ve been behind the curve on Twitter as
far as Followers are concerned. Having said that, I LOVE TWITTER (as in a quick 
glance I can easily check what’s going on with the People, Places and Things I’m 
interested in…or FOLLOWING.  
Q9: What ELSE do you want yor audience to know?

It’s probably no surprise to many that (unfortunately) many States, Cities, Schools,
Law Enforcement Agencies, etc are hurting financially.  I mention this because
over the last year (in particular) I have daily received emails or calls from 
Law Enforcement Officers, Principals, PTA Presidents, Teachers, etc who say,
“RETRO BILL our Kids LOVE YOU!  YOU are their FAVORITE Speaker! UNfortunately
we don’t have ANY funds to bring you back this year to speak to our Kids.”
EVERY SINGLE call or email stating this breaks my heart : ( So, I would
ask your Audience to consider helping me find an Angel Investor, Corporate
Sponsors, and (as previously mentioned) Hollywood Representation to help
me keep “RETRO BILL out there making a Retro-riffic Positive Impact!”

Here is Retro Bill’s “About Me” – How clever is this introduction! To meet and greet this amazing edu-tainer in person and even better to bring him to your organization – click here! 

 

 is revolutionizing children’s edutainment  and motivational speaking for the restaurant  lodging  and airline  industries!  Retro Billhas put fun into safety, self-esteem and character counts education for  Kindergarten through 12th graders for the past 13 years, and he is also highly in-demand for his  customer service/hospitality presentations for working adults.  Retro Bill is on the road 300 days a year and is seen live by over 1 MILLION  American and  Canadian fans annually!

 

 

In closing, it would be my hope that Retro Bill gets to fulfill his dreams all while helping to keep your kids safe, organizations and  school educated and continue to sprinkle #SocialGood wherever he goes!

Thanks my friend!

 

A Special BlogTalk Radio Episode – Women Networking Groups

What are the benefits of joining a women’s networking group?

Why are women (and men) finding these groups integral to their business marketing plans?

What role does social media play with networking groups?

Meet three women from the BEACH CITIES BREAKFAST CLUB who share their experiences on why they joined a local networking group and the pearls of wisdom they have to share about growing their own business.

CLICK HERE to LISTEN 

Meet Anita Garcia! For more than 40 years she has represented the TUPPERWARE company.  She has seen products change, repurpose, come and go – all the while sticking with the company that was eco-friendly before others even knew what that meant.

Read more about Anita here

Michelle Velasco defines the words GO-GETTER! She is a real estate agent with a mission to buy, sell and make a difference. Her work via Keller Williams is her second or perhaps third career.

Read more about Michelle here

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LIGHT IT UP BLUE for AUTISM with SWEET CRUSH ICE

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TOMORROW, April 2, 2013 is
LIGHT IT UP BLUE for AUTISM AWARENESS.    So, it is my pleasure to introduce you to SWEET CRUSH ICE, a Los Angeles based dessert company who will be helping to give back to the Autism community with every taste of their incredible low-fat dessert on this special commemorative day!

What makes this the perfect synergy is that SWEET CRUSH ICE is a healthy, low-fat dessert with gluten free, lactose free and sugar free options. It even is certifed Kosher.  Flavors range from creamy vanilla, chocolate, espresso and coconut (to name a few) to non – dairy options such as guava, strawberry-lemonade (the kid favorite) and lychee (exquisite and so unique!)

splash-product-1

I first met, Yael Lustman, owner of SWEET CRUSH ICE at an OSCAR party given by OMGInsider.  This high energy entrepreneur impressed me so much with both her business savvy and her delicious sweet product that I invited her to be my guest on the 411 VOICES radio network SPOTLIGHT show.  (Click here to listen to our interview).  What I discovered is that Yael didn’t want to skimp on the taste of her shaved ice  nor the quality of her storefront (Which rocks with non intrusive changing lights and ipads which take photos of happy customers!).  All this truly shows from the moment you enter the SWEET CRUSH until you take the last bite of this naturally flavored shaved ice with oodles of toppings sprinkled with Asian flair!  I thought it would make the prefect place for kid birthday parties or ladies’ night out.

During our interview I discovered that family and wanting to do “more in life” was what prompted this once Wall Street attorney to leave it all behind for the long hours and the trials and tribulations of owning a food based business.  Yael shared her pearls of wisdom on air (won’t give away too much here), as she stressed that the smiles of people young and old and the versatility of owning a community shop gives her much joy and feelings of accomplishment.  She also mentioned that without the power of social media she wouldn’t have met as many connections resulted in garnering the attention OMGInsider and the OSCAR committee.

If you are looking for a company that provides something yummy, healthy and has a heart for giving back to the community please check out SWEET CRUSH ICE.  Address is below. Conveniently located next to Whole Foods in Brentwood.

Help them LIGHT IT BLUE for AUTISM on APRIL 2nd!  A portion of their proceeds on this day will be donated to local Autism charity.

11753 San Vicente Blvd. · Los Angeles, California · 90049  MAP

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Note: I received nothing more than a groovy t-shirt and free Sweet Crush Ice to sample in exchange for this blog.

2 Minutes of Yoga = A Better YOU!

I had the 2_minute_yoga__76235.1341872212.1280.1280pleasure to interview my friend and yoga instructor and trainer of others, Nicole DeAvilla via the 411 VOICES radio network.  She is the founder of the 2 MINUTE YOGA and has a very common sense approach to learning yoga. Her USTREAM online YOGA lessons are gaining momentum and worth the watch.

What I learned during our interview is that not all yoga classes or methods of teaching are the same. There is gentle yoga and also “heavy duty sweat it out” yoga (Bikram style).  I didn’t know that yoga for kids differs from yoga for adults (the energy levels and intent are the reason).   Also, outcomes differ by age group and type of yoga one enjoys. Regardless, Nicole assured us that anyone who has their physicians permission to go forth with a yoga program can benefit as long as the instructor is qualified and the yoga is giving you positive, not negative, physical changes. (Pain is not gain in yoga!)

To listen to how yoga can be integrated in to your life, reduce stress, improve attending, sleep and many more life activities then listen here: 411 VOICES RADIO

Enjoy learning more about this international dynamo and her yoga products by visiting her website  THE 2 MINUTE YOGA SOLUTION

Follow Nicole on FACEBOOK and TWITTER, too!

Here is a recent interview she had via Red Carpet Bay Area.

My Week with the Ricki Lake Show as Friend of the Week!

I had a Forest Gump week. You know the kind. When you don’t know what to expect but you are certain that your life will be like a ‘box of chocolates”.  That is how my week went.  It all started with a little video I posted on the FRIENDS OF RICKI Facebook page. I was encouraged to do so by my friend, colleague and fellow co-founder of 411 VOICES, Britt Michaelian.  Not long after the video uploaded I found out that I was in the running for FRIEND OF THE WEEK. (FOW)

What does FOW mean in terms of the RICKI LAKE SHOW. First, it is a woot!  Great fun getting to know all the people involved in the show, their fans and of course for them to learn a bit about the FOW.  However, in true Louise fashion, I wanted to make this experience a “teachable set of moments”. What can I share with this group of wonderful people that will be lesson. So, I decided to post throughout the week a series of videos that matched the daily themes.  Others had posted videos, too. But, mine were in sign language.

On Monday, I posted a MY MOMENTS video about Daniella. She was a student from the back hills of Western Pennsylvania that made a lasting impression on me.

Tuesday, I had an opportunity to shine the spotlight on 411 VOICES and our unique story. How many of us met because of social-media, yet most have never met in person!  Watch here!

Wednesday, I had the privilege of uploading my PSA for the I AM THE FACE OF THYROID DISEASE campaign. To help others be proactive against thyroid cancers has now become a passion of mine.

Thursday, was technology day.   Which technology can’t you live without?  Find out my answer

Today (Friday) was my farewell video as FOW.  You will need to view the video to understand why the RICKI LAKE SHOW staff snapped a photo waving a hello/ I LOVE YOU in ASL.  Also, today was jammed packed due to the TWEETCHAT which was a rapid fire Q and A.  My Q and A is below.. for more of the Twitter stream go here–> http://www.TWEETCHAT/ROOM/FRIENDSOFRICKI

All in all it was an excellent experience. I must say that I both was unprepared and overwhelmed by all the support and kudos.   So grateful to the amazing staff of the RICKI LAKE SHOW and my “family” at 411 VOICES. 

Thank you all. Enjoy the videos.  Transcript of the tweetchat is below, by request from those who wanted to have access.  Have a groovy week!

~Louise

TWEETCHAT TRANSCRIPT –  Posting this by request from those who couldn’t attend the TWEETCHAT but wanted to see what transpired. 

Q1 Hi @LouiseASL We are thrilled to have you here! Tell us about YOU.  #FriendsofRicki

A1a Hi @FriendsofRicki I am having such a good time in this community! #FriendsofRicki

A1b @FriendsofRicki I found this community via my friends from 411 VOICES #FriendsofRicki

A1c  @FriendsofRicki  I own Signing Families-> sign language + developmental psych melded together #FriendsofRicki

A1d @FriendsofRicki I help build communication bridges, special needs children, First Responders & more #FriendsofRicki

A1e @FriendsofRicki  I am a mom of 2 grown kids.  College student & a working actor! #FriendsofRicki

A1f @FriendsofRicki I’m married for nearly 25 years. He’s my best friend, makes me laugh  #FriendsofRicki

Q2.  @LouiseASL  Tell us more! What are your hobbies and interests?  #FriendsofRicki

A2a @FriendsofRicki Only ONE day 2 answer?  I have many! #FriendsofRicki

A2b @FriendsofRicki I enjoy PHOTOGRAPHY (Im a novice but love it) #FriendsofRicki

A2c  @FriendsofRicki I really love to TRAVEL! #FriendsofRicki

A2d @FriendsofRicki I also LOVE movies & watching vintage TV #FriendsofRicki

A2e @FriendsofRicki My daughter & I love INDIE films and have been to Sundance Film Festival! #FriendsofRicki

Q3  Describe to us your “Perfect Day” @LouiseASL #FriendsofRicki

A3a @FriendsofRicki Thanksgiving – family, friends around the dinner table laughing…  #FriendsofRicki

A3b @FriendsofRicki Followed by Black Friday shopping at midnight!  #FriendsofRicki

A3c  @FriendsofRicki  Love working with kids and families! #FriendsofRicki

A3d @FriendsofRicki Through SIGNING FAMILIES I get to help people on a weekly basis. REWARDING! #FriendsofRicki

Q4 @LouiseASL Tell us about the women’s media group #411Voices that you Co-Founded #FriendsofRicki

A4a  @FriendsofRicki Social media brought us 2gether, we’re all invested in helping others  #FriendsofRicki

A4b  @FriendsofRicki We have really become more than colleagues, tight knit friendships  #FriendsofRicki

A4c  @FriendsofRicki Our #411VOICES speakers bureau rocks!  #FriendsofRicki

A4d @FriendsofRicki We have many experts it our #411VOICES group. #FriendsofRicki

A4e @FriendsofRicki Experts from astrology – biz to education – family life. Empowering! #FriendsofRicki

A4f @FriendsofRicki  Our site 411VOICES.com – is also multilingual #FriendsofRicki

A4g @FriendsofRicki  French, Spanish, ASL-  many of us in #411VOICES know multiple language #FriendsofRicki

Q5 @LouiseASL “You Have Cancer” – that must have been tough to hear two years ago?  #FriendsofRicki

A5a @FriendsofRicki The clock stopped. Now my life is before cancer and after cancer BUT… #FriendsofRicki

A5b @FriendsofRicki Cancer does NOT define me. #FriendsofRicki

A5c @FriendsofRicki I now have an opportunity to educate others- why I made the PSA #FriendsofRicki

A5d @FriendsofRicki My desire to educate led me to making this PSA video http://ow.ly/bs4Mx #FriendsofRicki

Q6 @LouiseASL Tell us about your philanthropic endeavors #FriendsofRicki

A6a @FriendsofRicki My biz SIGNING FAMILIES donates many educational ASL materials #FriendsofRicki

A6b @FriendsofRicki Give free lessons to families and organizations yearly… #FriendsofRicki

A6c @FriendsofRicki My family also sponsors a college students ed yearly in memory of my Dad  #FriendsofRicki

Q7 @LouiseASL You help First Responders and #EMS learn to sign – why? #FriendsofRicki

A7a-  @FriendsofRicki Post 9/11 it was apparent that EMS was unprepared for much. #FriendsofRicki

A7b @FriendsofRicki Many EMS were unable 2 assist deaf & special needs communities  #FriendsofRicki

A7c  @FriendsofRicki EMS is now are taking courses in ASL & hoc to help special pops which is AMAZING!! #FriendsofRicki

A7d @FriendsofRicki  I now travel nationwide training EMS & many other groups/ companies #FriendsofRicki

A7e @FriendsofRicki This work is VERY REWARDING! #FriendsofRicki

Q8 @LouiseASL How can we all learn more about you? #FriendsofRicki

A8a @FriendsofRicki I would love for you stop by my FB page http://ow.ly/brW17 #FriendsofRicki

A8b @FriendsofRicki You can learn more about my work here > http://ow.ly/brW4b #FriendsofRicki

A8c @FriendsofRicki And I would LOVE to have you stop in to #411Voice > http://ow.ly/brW82 #FriendsofRicki

 

411 VOICES Supports Ongoing Relief Efforts in Japan with a Silent Auction

Akiko Yamazaki lost everything on March 11, 2011.  Gone  were the lives of her mother, daughter and countless other relatives when the torrential tsunami  hit her village of Otsuchi,Japan on that fateful day.  Lost were the hopes and dreams of many, including an exchange student who had visited the United States as part of a sister city educational experience with community members from Ft. Bragg, California.  Sharon Davis was one of the many who opened their homes and their hearts to students from Otsuchi and then months later felt powerless as the raging waters left destruction and death to those they had met.  Their story was recently chronicled on a CBS 60 Minutes broadcast.  (Watch below) Sharon is my colleague via the 411 VOICES media network. I also proudly call her my friend.

                

This Fall Sharon received a few keychains from Akiko. They are made from debris of her home.  This brave woman took what strength she had after such a catastrophic loss and decided to persevere by helping her community and giving them hope. Sharon Davis and I decided to expand her efforts by offering the above pictured keychain (or ornament) as an item for SILENT AUCTION via 411VOICES.com.

In order to place a bid for this keychain (which is about half the size of a credit card), simply send  an EMAIL with your name and the amount you wish to bid to INFO@411VOICES<dot>com  (unusual typing is to stop spammers). The bidding will conclude  at 11:59pm on December 16th (EST).  The winner  will be the person who made a bid of the highest monetary value.  The winner will be contacted the next day via email.  The keychain will be shipped priority mail within the United States by December 20th.

All proceeds go back to Akiko to help survivors in Otsuchi, Japan.

I thank you in advance for your consideration and perhaps your bid. If you are unable to bid at this time, please feel free to share this story with others. (http://wp.me/pSDlj-By)

Read more about Sharon Davis’ experience here

Newspaper article from Ft. Bragg can be found here

SPOTLIGHT OVATIONS – Empowering Kids Through the Performing Arts!

Tuesday, November 29th I will have the pleasure of interviewing on  the 411 VOICES Radio network show, ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT and the BUSINESS OF IT ALL!,  Sharla Mandere, who is the founder and director of  SPOTLIGHT  OVATIONS PERFORMING ARTS (SOPA).  

Sharla’s brainchild is a  performing arts group that is dedicated to helping empower children and instill confidence by providing various skill development classes for acting, circus training and dance.  She has an amazing story and I can’t wait for all to learn more about his dynamic woman!

Listen to the broadcast LIVE here on Nov. 29th at 11a.m. EST

Listen to the podcast here

Learn more about  SOPA and their San Diego based courses here or email Sharla at INFO@SpotlightOvations.com

Follow Sharla and SOPA here on TWITTER

Let’s Hear it for the Men! Two great reads: A SPY AT HOME and MAN SHOES

I was on vacation this past week and couldn’t help but notice how many dads (sans moms) were sitting with kids in restaurants, in museums and shopping. Perhaps they were single dads spending their “divided” holiday time with their children.  Or maybe they were dads who were raising kids without moms.  And yet, they could simply just be dads hanging out with their kids while “mom” was doing other “stuff”.  Whatever the reason, it was a pleasure to see dads having real conversations with their children. In honor of hard working and fun loving Dads everywhere- I dedicate this blog.  Also, Moms take note.. there great holiday recommendations here, too!

First up.. two great reads about dads negotiating life through good times and bad .  One if fiction and the other is based on true life.. both compelling and worth your time.

AND.. please take a minute to read the last and most important information on this blog. Thank you.

A SPY AT HOME is written by Joseph Rinaldo who is a parent of an adult daughter with Down Syndrome. However, this fun (with huge exclamation point) read is based on a father-son relationship.   I loved that A SPY AT HOME had loads of “CIA intrigue” while also a human story element revolving around the central character, a father, and his, Noah who has Down Syndrome.

Easily written and a wonderful story, a great addition to any holiday gift list. Best yet.. it was a real find for my new Kindle Fire and made my flight cross country really enjoyable!

You can read more about A SPY AT HOME and perhaps order it here via AMAZON ( I had the Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/A-SPY-AT-HOME-ebook/dp/B0033WSVVC

Tom Watson is the Founder of Your Better Life, a company that focuses on empowerment. His personal journey from survival of abuse and foster care to becoming a young stroke victim is the backbone of MAN SHOES, but certainly not the whole story.  It is no wonder that he wrote this inspirational read dedicated to his sons.  MAN SHOES, is written to inspire and help men become better husbands, fathers and sons.

This book swayed from being poignant, heart wrenching, empowering, heartwarming to humorous and quite frankly…simply genius.  Another book with many, many layers… it reads as a love story one moment and a “how to succeed in business” book the other. Easy to read, hard to put down.

Again, ADD THIS book to the list for that hard to buy for man in your life. Here is how you can order it: http://www.manshoes.net/

Read an excerpt here: http://www.manshoes.net/download_form.htm

And, if you are looking for another great tech gift for the men in your life- consider the new KINDLE FIRE.  Easy to use.  Great battery life.  Fun, fun, fun!  And way cost effective at $199 vs. the steeper iPad.  

*********************

I am proud to be part of 411 VOICES, a collective of women dedicated to helping others through education and resources.  This holiday season we are hoping to raise awareness and monies for Tsunami relief for Otsuchi, Japan.  411 VOICES member, Sharon Davis (recently featured on 60 Minutes) has been helping her Fort Bragg, California sister city (Otsuchi) with Tsunami relief.  The keychain / ornament featured below is made of wood from a destroyed home. This house belonged to a friend of Sharon’s who lost everything, most of all her mother and sister’s lives.  Yet, she had the presence of mind to help her community to heal by making these wonderful keychains.

We are offering a SILENT AUCTION for this keychain.  The bids can be sent privately to INFO@411VOICES.com  Add your name and email to each bid (plus the amount you wish to bid).  The winner will be announced in a few weeks.  

THANKS!!

I Hit the Social-Media Jackpot…

I hit the social-media jackpot this year! What started as a small idea between a few online friends and colleagues has spun its’ way in to a much larger and productive endeavor- 411 VOICES.  For those of you who don’t know about 411 VOICES, it is a collective of women who have a common mission – To make the world a better place by helping others through education (in the broad sense), via business and through empowerment / life leadership.  Some of us are from media while others are quieter soldiers making a difference one person, family or business at a time.

There are a ton of all women groups with online presence. Ours is different. And in order for me to explain the difference I need to introduce you to the amazing women who I now am proud to call not only my 411 VOICES colleagues but friends…. In the words of our member, Annie Fox....”We are a paella”.  I chose to introduce you to my “411 VOICES sisters” thought a media slideshow (also found on our intro video on the website).  The names of our experts and ways to connect are below.  To learn how to bring our 411 VOICES associated with our SPEAKERS ALLIANCE  please send an email to INFO@411VOICES.com.

Enjoy getting to know the women of 411 VOICES.  

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Meet…

DARA BLAKER ,  Entertainment and Music are her passion.  Listen to my co-host every Tuesday (11:30amET) here:  ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT and the BUSINESS OF IT ALL.    Follow here here: DaraOnRadio

KRISTEN ANDRESS     Media consultant who wants you to simply …Imagine Being.  She rocks the PR world including some well know celebs.  Read more about the CEO of Andress Consulting

LIYSA CALLSEN    Funny, poignant, thought-provoking, inspirational, and funny- again! That is our Liysa Callsen, aka codadiva.. learn about growing up hearing in a deaf world. (And better yet- book her as your entertaining speaker for your next convention)

SHARON DAVIS    My colleague and friend, Sharon, receives my  411 VOICES  humanitarian award for 2011. When not busy helping her friends in Japan following the aftermath of the tsunami, she is involved with finding people here JOBS!  Connect with Sharon via 2Work-At- HOME

ANN DUNNEWOLD    Hailing from the great state of Texas she is an author (of many books) and a life coach. Dedicated to helping women feel better about herself.

JANE DUNNEWOLD   Our newest member is a gifted artist with talent to spare. I look forward to learning more about her.

BETH ENGLEMAN    A media dynamo who juggles single mommyhood with hanging out with Oprah! Correspondent for iVillage and much more. Connect with Mommyonashoestring here

ANNIE FOX   Author, Educator and Anti-Bullying Advocate. She won’t stop until there are no more children being emotionally or physcially abused in our schools and neighborhoods. Follow her via Cruel is NOT Cool 

MAIMAH KARMO    SURVIVOR.  Maimah survived some of life’s biggest obstacles. Her personal journey is compelling and an inspiration to young and old. Read about this amazing survivor of both Liberian unrest and breast cancer.

LYNNE KENNEY  is the FAMILY COACH.  She is a top authority on keeping balance and harmony within the home.  Also, teams with another 411 VOICES member (Marianne Russo) on Special Needs Radio. 

MARGARET McSWEENEY   CHARITY.  Margaret is one to give over and over and over again.  Read about this authors work with young women via PEARL GIRLS 

BRITT MICHAELIAN    SOCIAL MEDIA GIRLFRIENDS  is Britt’s new venture about bringing women together via social media to help each other.  WOW my friend Britt, is the platinum standard for building a social network.

AVA PARNASS   The Kid Whisperer.  Musical, therapeutic and creative.  Connect with Ava via her new website 

JENNA RIGGS     Artistic, creative and dedicated is how Jenna rolls. Together with Beth Engleman they are MommyOnAShoestring!

MARIANNE RUSSO  Bringing people together to help those in the special needs community is the purpose behind Marianne’s THE COFFEE KLATCH.   

ASTRID STROMBERG   Psychic, Astrologer and expert on all things paranormal.  Astrid connects you to worlds beyond. Connect here to learn about weekly talk shows and on air readings

SHARA LAWRENCE- WEISS   The WHIZ at SMALL BIZ!   Learn how to “perk” with this successful stay at home entrepreneur via MOMMYPERKS.com

RACHEL WRIGHT    Turning loss in to opportunity! That is what this single mom did after her divorce. Creator of National Mom’s Night Out!

WENDY YOUNG   Tough Kids are her speciality.  Delivered with gentle reason and common sense through KIDLUTIONS!