“Louise’s TIPS!” is my compilation of images using a fun Bitmoji and some thoughts or observations that could be categorized as: “Life Lessons”.
Hubby and I had just landed in Japan and caught a few hours of sleep when I realized it was Valentine’s Day back in the United States. I quickly logged on to hotel WiFi and wished my friends and colleagues in a group text a “Happy Valentine’s Day”. I made sure to add a few funny and snarky comments, such as how we unexpectedly and gloriously upgraded to business class for our 14 hour flight from LA to Osaka. The texts shared from the others were more of the same – wishes for a lovely “heart” day, etc.
Then came this text … “*Jane is in school where there is an active shooter happening right now.”
WHAT THE ______? My heart stopped. I reread the message at least five times before I responded. Took to CNN news and Twitter to discover, yes indeed, there was an active shooter and “Jane” was inside the school along with scores of other students.
Quickly I realized that my day of touring around the city Osaka, known for architecture, commerce and history, would be drastically altered because of a heinous crime thousands of miles away. I had to know she was OK. They were OK. I was in tears and feeling pretty helpless. They were dear friends and I wasn’t going to play tourist when we didn’t know if “Jane” was safe.
It was February 14, 2018 and the active shooting was at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. You would have to be living under a rock this past year not to know that this day was seminole on so many levels, including the way the students, parents and community responded in the aftermath.
In the end, “Jane” was on the survivor list. She saved lives by helping others to safety. She lived and helped others to do the same.
My friend, her family, their friends and their families now all mark time before and after this day. They lost loved ones in this tragedy and continue to ache in their hearts beyond measure. They are steadfast in not letting these young students and staff die in vain.
They are #MSDStrong
It is not lost on me that in the past 12 months thousands in the United States, and yes I said THOUSANDS, of adults, young adults, teens and children have died in their homes, schools and other venues due to crimes committed by guns. Now, before you spring to the comment section to tell me about gun rights, know that the debate over gun laws is not the focus of this blog. BUT… I am writing to ask for better education so we can all become part of the prevention process. I want all the “Janes” to feel that they can go to school, the mall, places of worship, concerts, etc. – without needing to figure out their exit plan in case “it” happens to them.
Sandy Hook Promise has offered a website full of information to identify and help be part of the solution to stop gun violence in our communities. Their KNOW THE SIGNS PROGRAM can be found here. It is worth your 5 minutes to read and share.
Please consider an extra few minutes to watch their videos.
I close with a request – If you are a parent, a teacher or a friend… be wise, be aware and learn how you can know the signs.
This Valentine’s blog is dedicated to those who lost their lives a year ago at MS Douglas HS and those who are the survivors and relive this tragedy every single day.
They will not be forgotten:
- Alyssa Alhadeff, age 14
- Scott Beigel, 35
- Martin Duque, 14
- Nicholas Dworet, 17
- Aaron Feis, 37
- Jaime Guttenberg, 14
- Chris Hixon, 49
- Luke Hoyer, 15
- Cara Loughran, 14
- Gina Montalto, 14
- Joaquin Oliver, 17
- Alaina Petty, 14
- Meadow Pollack, 18
- Helena Ramsay, 17
- Alex Schachter, 14
- Carmen Schentrup, 16
- Peter Wang, 15
*Jane is not the real name of the student, but used for anonymity.
Last week I was asked to help start a GoFundMe page for a person I have never met. She is a physical education teacher who through a series of life events now has debilitating back pain due to a spinal disc that has partially broken off. Surgery is needed to alleviate the pain and start the healing, but due to red tape, her insurance company is denying or limiting much of the coverage she will need to pay for the “must have” medical procedures and after care.
I don’t want to make this article about insurance issues in our country, but rather how a community has come together in less than five days to donate a serious “chunk of change” to get Ms. Monica Wood back on her feet again. They have given her not only financial help but the gift of their love and community spirit.
Side note: I know the agony of back pain and my experiences have been nothing compared to what Monica is having to endure. Read related blog.
Monica Wood and I have communicated via good old fashioned texts and what I have learned is this is a vivacious woman who is beloved by the students, staff and parents at Grand View Elementary School in Manhattan Beach, California. She exudes all the traits one needs for a speedy recovery as she is hopeful and keeping a positive outlook. She also believes in not wasting a moment or wallowing on her situation as she recently asked a group of friends about how to get connected with area organizations who knit blankets for families with new babies. Geez – that is one incredible woman!
Monica’s unique story is best told by the many comments and photos that have been left on the walls of the GoFundMe campaign. I am simply inspired by each and every one. These days we are all so busy and focused on our own lives – but, the outpouring of love and generosity to help this educator simply is a testimony to the willingness of community members to stop everything in order to help. Not only are they demonstrating their support with their wallets, but also with their hearts and social sharing to others. Those who are in social media call the act of social sharing: #SocialGood!
From the GoFundMe “Giving BACK to Monica Wood” campaign:
Monica, You are the best! Always positive, encouraging, and energetic. We are so sorry you are having such pain. We wish you a speedy recovery. Love, Kate, JT, Edie and David <B>
Ms. Wood- you were the first person to really see Brendan and to help him have happy time in school. You gave him a safe place and a teacher’s love. I’m so sorry you are going through this. You deserve the best of everything. ~ <B.P/>
We got your back, Monica!!!!! ~ Kari
Monica Wood has responded to all the amazing folks in her GoFundMe “sphere” with these words
Lastly, I conclude this note to all with a video from the GoFundMe page and also my thanks to all for reading this very special story.
I love quotes. I love photography. Like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich- they are “perfect” when paired together. I am confident that I am not the only one who thinks that the combination of a witty or motivational statement superimposed on a whimsical or lovely photo can make you smile or feel inspired. In fact, social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have dedicated days that lend themselves to just these type of posts with images – #MondayMotivation #TuesdayTravel #WednesdayWisdom #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) and more.
Never one to miss an opportunity to showcase my favorite photography, I have embraced creating images with my own or others’ quotes as passionately as I have ingested many a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
In the social media world there are people who are content creators (people who use their skills to create engaging posts.). There also are people who are known as social media influencers. This second group are folks who have an audience that reacts – usually positively (and often profitably) – to the endorsement or reviews posted by the influencer. Some may say I am both. But, if I have to pick one- I would love to be known as a content creator. I think developing fun and meaningful messaging on social media posts for my own or another’s brand leaves far more a lasting impression than endorsing product after product after product. My favorite is when you can meld the two together- such as working for a brand that wants you to promote a social good / philanthropic agenda. Or if the brand has an interesting story to tell – that is heart- wrenching, inspirational, or teaches a life lesson. Plus, posting on your own social media platforms images or video that you have created, is for a person like me, an enormous amount of fun!
Photos taken in unique places are often my favorite backgrounds for posts with quotes.
I also like to create posts that promote education and travel together
Sometimes you can forgo a quote because the objects in the photo are message enough
Or nature provides you the perfect composition and no words are needed
Don’t forget that people make great social media photo posts, too!
Lastly, a photo for a social media post can include people! Some of my favorite photos are not the ones that are posed, but the candids of friends taking a photo of themselves as they live – “in the moment”. Below is Marlee Matlin and her interpreter, Jack with Camryn Manheim (center) at the Nyle DiMarco Foundation party in Los Angeles in 2016. Just look at their joy!
Social media allows you an avenue for creativity to flow from your brain to the world wide web! I would be remiss if I didn’t conclude this post with a few cautionary tales…
- Be sure you have permission to post photos of people. Especially those who are not adults, but minors. It is just common courtesy to skip posting a photo with people who happen to be in the background without their permission. At the very least, blur their faces. Portrait mode on a camera can help focus on the subject matter or people you wish to capture and not ancillary folks!
- Limit the selfies! Enough said.
- Every moment doesn’t need to be photographed. Nor does it need to be to shared on social media. Especially each and every milestone of your life or that of your child’s.
- Put your name on photos that you care about or have them watermarked. I had the misfortune of having my photos “hijacked” by another social media poster. UGH
- Give credit to photos that you use from others. So, if you have a photographer helping you at an event and use their photos- credit them! If you use stock photos- acknowledge that, as well.
- You don’t need a fancy camera – although that helps. I use either my OLD Nikon 60 or my iPhone. Once in a while I will grab my Samsung phone/ NOTE because the camera is so amazing!
- Simply enjoy the creative process. I may not be a “top photographer”, but I enjoy photography and am hoping others enjoy my efforts.
A few more to close out this post…
This post dedicated to my dear friends, Sue and Bob, who over dinner last week complimented my travel photography . Thanks for the encouragement, laughter and sharing the baklava!
I am a career chameleon. I have worked many years in the rewarding field of education as a Psychologist, Sign Language Instructor and Interpreter, Parent and Teacher Trainer and much more. I LOVE the milieu of education. It is one of the most “warm fuzzy” careers you can have because you are able to make a difference in the lives of students on a daily basis. Yet, it also can be stressful (very) and with the add on of responsibilities outside of the prevue of education being placed on teachers, many educators are leaving the field. To some degree that was me – ten years ago.
Admittedly, I was ready for something ELSE. Something that wouldn’t result in burn -out. As it so happened around that time I developed sign language products to help novice learners, especially parents and First Responders. I used social media to market these products and amazingly – they sold like hotcakes! YES! This was the catalyst that I needed to find my “second” career. And, due to crazy twists and turns in my life, I landed into the world of social media.
Fast forward, now I want to take this opportunity to share (and educate) others about what I have learned working in social media this past decade. Consider this the “inside scoop”…
Point 1: To have a social media career is to know that social media as a career is not about making random fun posts but about constructing a well thought out strategic plan for 1-3-6 months – at a minimum.
This is a profession that is not for the weak of heart or for someone who requires a lot of sleep. The first step is to become educated. What are the nuances of each of the most used and requested social media platforms? My advice – learn about them and their algorithms and analytic programs. Become an on-going student of media and marketing as these are professions that change on such a rapid basis that it may make your head spin. And lest not forget about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations.
Sidenote: If you are involved in social media for pay or product – this is a must read! Start by clicking here for FTC guidelines for brands and influencers.
Take away: A career in social media is not about the “posts” but the strategy behind the posts.
Point 2: Posts should be meaningful and client/ product centered.
When you work in social media, unless you are a key influencer and are making a living doing so, chances are you are working for a client representing a brand. It is important to remember that you (or your agency) have been contracted or employed by a brand to work on their behalf. This means that your focus is on the client. Every day you will be looking at their competitors, curating related content, creating eye-popping engaging posts, and analyzing the impact of your campaigns. Unless you are instructed to be part of the campaign – your face (literally) needs to be out of the picture.
Take away: Focus on your client if you truly are a media strategist.
Point 3. There is social media in other countries. Know what is popular there.
The mistake we often make in social media in the USA is thinking that the only social media platforms “worth” anything are the ones we use here in “Old Glory”. Not true. If your brand wants to connect with an international audience then you need to familiarize yourself with these (among others), too: MIXI (Japan) and Youku (China).
Point 4: Social Media is a profession. Don’t dilute it by working for free
If you have read this far chances are you want to work in social media and that means needing to getting PAID. No one will take you seriously if you give away all your expertise. This also doesn’t help grow social media as a profession. Gratis work for an occasional friend or non-profit is considered “ok” – but be cautious. And, you are worth more than just a few dollars for your knowledge.
Point 5: Get professional liability insurance.
This is a profession where you most likely will be a freelancer. Suppose that you work for a client who feels your strategy “didn’t work” and wants to now take you to court for “breach of contract”. I highly recommend having liability insurance and also a legal team to help you – “just in case”. While there are many good insurance and legal service companies / individuals, I use Legal Shield for legal services and HISCOX for professional liability insurance coverage.
Point 5: Be CLEVER! Use your own content or give credit where credit is due!
Almost every person has a cell phone. It also is one of the most important “tools” a social media manager can own in their personal arsenal. BE CLEVER! Use great apps and computer programs to architect social media campaigns with animation, gifs, video, images, graphs and much more that will be “eye popping” and keep your audience engaged!
Most importantly – give credit to where your content was curated. If the photo is not your own – let people know that! If the quote you used was authored by someone else- make sure you acknowledge them.
Point 6: Have Fun!
It is no secret that my work in social media includes being a social media correspondent. The opportunities I have been afforded has allowed me to meet, greet, interview and often become friends with many who are in the entertainment, tech and media verticals. People often think “all I do” is work as a social media correspondent. It has been a “ton of fun” to create campaigns and events that are high profile or to attend them as a social media reporter/ correspondent.
Below is a sample of where you may have seen my “work” as either an attendee or correspondent.
The US FESTIVAL 1982: I had the pleasure to work with ICON Television and Music to help build their social media presence and create an event for their official film premiere. This was an exciting event as the film’s story is about a two weekend musical event solely paid for by Steve Wozniak, one of the founders of APPLE. (Check it out on Amazon and other online stores.)
SUPPORTING SOCIAL GOOD CAUSES with SOCIAL MEDIA
RACE TO ERASE MS GALA
Below you will see photographs I have snapped from the ORANGE CARPET at the 2016 annual gala for ERASE MS. I simply love this organization and am proud to have donated my time to help them promote about resources for those with Multiple Sclerosis and the medical advancements made to help those who have been diagnosed with this disease and related disorders.
iPain Foundation Gala
The iPain Foundation helps those who have chronic disorders, such as Lupus or RA.
Nyle DiMarco Foundation for Sign Language Support for Parents and Deaf Children
This foundation is near and dear to my heart as helping families to learn how to communicate with their Deaf child with sign language (ASL) has been one of my life-long career goals.
In closing… I hope that this article has enlightened those who wish to pursue a career in social media. And remember that this career is not for everyone.
The educator in me wants to leave you with some last nuggets of information:
- Follow reliable online tech and media outlets (Mashable is one of my favorites)
- Join groups that help to educate without judgement on Facebook and especially, Linkedin.
- Remember with social media, like with almost everything else – is dependent on knowing your business by being educated. In other words… education does matter!
Good luck! And remember life is too short – so do what you love. I am lucky… I get to work in both EDUCATION and SOCIAL MEDIA!
Happy International Women’s Day!
About four times a year I receive an invitation to partake at a Celebrity Connected Gifting Suite. This company, owned by Gene Sheynis , packs beautiful venues with vendors all waiting to meet and greet celebrities and have an opportunity to discuss with them the wonders of their product or service.
After nearly five years of attending these gifting suites I have become friendly with many of the Celebrity Connected staff and really admire their keen eye for picking out brands. Recently, they have increased the number of companies “with a purpose” – meaning those who have a desire to “give back” with a cause. I love meeting folks who truly care about making a difference!
This time it was my friend and associate – Photographer Joy Daunis, who spotted Gems for Gems first at the Oscar gift suite. Apparently, her initial encounter with them left such a huge impression that she came “flying” over to me and said that I shouldn’t delay meeting them. I am glad I listened to Joy, as she was right- they were amazing, inspirational and “sparkly” people!
From the Gems for Gems website:
Gems for Gems is a Calgary based Charity whose mission is to ‘Empower Women to Empower Themselves’. Through the collaborative efforts of corporations and community, this heart centered organization works with shelters to change the lives and futures of women who have experienced abuse. It is our belief that within each woman exists a hero, ready to save the day. We teach, inspire and motivate, through our three initiatives, to bring out that hero in each woman we work with….
(Question 3: LS): I know that you are asking for donation of jewelry? Why? And what is it used for?
(Answer 5: JG) Without a doubt, the contacts we gained from attending the Celebrity Connected Luxury Gifting Suite. I am still blown away.
(Answer 6: JG). GROWTH! Our greatest desire is to positively affect the horrendous statistics on domestic abuse. We are definitely wanting to expand to the U.S.A. and will do so once our program is strong and producing the desired results in Canada. We have a very proactive approach to this staggering issue and want to create lasting change for each woman in our Scholarship Program as we assist in ending the cycle of abuse.
I am pissed. (Sorry Mom, but I have to use this strong language)
I am pissed because our children are being bullied by the very people who should be protecting them, encouraging them and nurturing their endeavors. Who should be seeing that the futures of our youth are as bright as the sun and not dark as a storm looming.
I am pissed because we now live in a society where the children need to act as leaders and the leaders are acting like spoiled and bratty children.
I am pissed because teachers who walk in to schools every day to accomplish one goal… give each of their student’s the best education possible against all odds – now are being asked to engage in gun fights. Seriously! Are we the wild, wild west?!
I am pissed because when I travel abroad people ask me if I am embarrassed to be a citizen of the United States because of our leaders’ obvious lack of common sense and good judgment?!
I am pissed because our leaders are adding to the problem by deflecting blame versus putting their high paid education to use and creating sensible solutions.
I am pissed because our leaders are not doing their job by enacting any semblance of a comprehensive and well thought out plan, but act like the “Keystone Cops” with methods of bullying and worse.
I am pissed because I work in social media with the goal to use it to make a positive difference in the world, while others may be using it for destructive reasons. Anyone who works in social media and understands its’ power will tell you that some conversations are best left OFF the Twitterfeed and BEST to be done IRL (in real life).
I am pissed because my dear friend has to live a “new normal” – knowing that each day she and her daughter will remember how a shooter nearly took this young innocent teen’s life and succeeded in taking the lives of 17 of her classmates, including close friends.
I am pissed that children throughout our world go to bed and have nightmares that aren’t “bad dreams” but are due to their daytime reality.
I am pissed that the problems of our communities, country and world are so enormous that we don’t even know where to begin to make it better.
But… perhaps I am hopeful that the youth of our world may just have the answers that the adults in our world have refused to accept. So, I look forward to the day when each of these amazing kids can VOTE and get the naysayers who believe that their views are the only views OUT OF OFFICE and make their sentiments as obsolete as the negative and non-inclusive principles they cling to.
Until then… I just may remain pissed.
This weekend will be the “official start” of the Hollywood award season as the Golden Globes will bring together elite actors and filmmakers from television and film. I always have loved award season, but I predict that this one will be very different with less cause for celebration and more focus on political and social action.
Over the past year, we have witnessed movie producers, filmmakers, television host personalities, movie actors, musical artists and other “heroes’ fall from grace. Their legacy of work now overshadowed (and rightly so) by their irresponsible and heinous history of abuse and harassment towards others. Many of these “alleged” predators often occupied prime “real estate” during award shows and this year won’t even make the invitation list. And to add salt to the already wounded – the victims are probably going to be re victimized again during the weeks and months to come.
But it is Hollywood… is it really that surprising?
Of course, when compared to other more severe issues around the world, some may say that an award season that may resemble a solemn event vs. one of fanfare is simply a “first world problem”. However, I disagree. The reasons why I predict a contentious and tense award season is simply not to be dismissed. Sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace, film industry, etc. is prevalent and finally this “plague” is out in the open and the center of discourse worldwide. We finally get a chance to press “reset” and start on a new course of how we treat each other in the workplace, our schools, places of worship, on the set, and in our homes. Period.
I won’t name names of who are the purported offenders. You have seen them in the paper, online or heard their names. I don’t have that kind of time or space on my blog as the list is too long and reads like a “who’s who” of the most powerful or popular in recent living history. All I know is that my heart broke when Bill Cosby was purported to have conducted heinous acts against women who he supposedly placed in vulnerable circumstances. My heart continues to ache as I hear more and more stories. I find myself yelling at the TV or computer – SHAME ON YOU! My fear – I will continue to have this visceral behavior throughout “award season”.
So while I will be curious who graces the red carpet this year… I won’t expect the conversation to be light and frivolous. And, if you too are a voyeur of the red carpets and post-show interviews – join me on Twitter as @LouiseASL. Let’s keep the convo flowing and try to make sense of the crazy.
Thanks for reading.
Is 7 really a lucky number? For me it is. Or at least I think it is. You see, I realized this week that the number seven has resonated with me throughout my thyroid cancer journey. Yet, only recently did I connect the dots as to why it is indeed “lucky” or at least significant.
7a.m – The time I arrived to the surgical unit for my operation.
Seven hours. The number of hours Dr. Ralph Tufano, (my hero) performed surgery on me at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Seven days. That was the length of time the post-operative drains remained in my neck. (Seven minutes was all had on the “patience meter” for living with said drains.)
Seven weeks. That was the time it took for me to get my voice sounding more like me and less like a prank phone caller.
Seven months. That was about the amount of time I needed to brave going out without a scarf around my neck to shield people from seeing my scar. (July is one hot month and the seventh one!)
Seven years have passed since January 5, 2011 when I had my surgery and my life was forever changed. You may think this was a tantamount day filled with dread, but in reality many amazing things have happened from that day forward.
Related articles: If you are interested in the “whole saga” here is a link.
And, per usual I will use this forum to share some life lessons. (Forever an educator) Although this year the theme may be a bit “lighter” than in the past. (Side note: read to the very end, please.)
The seven lessons I want to share in my annual “post cancer blog” are …
- 7 is the number of continents in the world. Go explore them while you can.
- 7 good friends is better than a lot of people pretending to be your friend.
- 7 pairs of shoes may be an Ok amount, but in reality I own three times that number.
- Social media forums cite 7pm as a popular time to be online engaging with others and reading articles.
- 7 is considered one of the luckiest numbers, according to Quora, because there are Seven Seas, Seven Heavens, Seven Continents, Seven Colors in a Rainbow, Seven Notes on a musical scale, Seven Days in a week, Seven Wonders of the World and so on. Seven is considered to represent the “extraordinary”.
- 7 is the number of chakras the body possesses.
- Seven minutes can be all it takes to check your neck with an ultra-sound to see if you have a healthy or unhealthy thyroid. Seven minutes- worth every one of them.
Now for the serious “stuff”…
First, be your own health advocate. If you feel that something isn’t right with your health – go see a doctor or two if you are not satisfied with the first opinion.
Next, CHECK YOUR NECK. At least once a year – have your doctor check your neck for irregularities. Are you gaining weight suddenly or losing it without dieting? Do you have a chronic sore throat or persistent cough. These are all red flags that something could be amiss and a due to a thyroid issue!
It wouldn’t be my annual “cancer” blog without a nod towards helping others via #socialgood
Each year, since my cancer journey began, I spotlight ways to help people who are diagnosed and living with cancer. This year I am asking that readers of my blog consider supporting the CYCLE FOR SURVIVAL campaign. My daughter, Natasha, is participating with the Cycle for Survival fundraiser and any support would be greatly appreciated. Here is the link. EVERY DOLLAR RAISED goes towards funding research for rare cancers via the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
About Cycle for Survival
Cycle for Survival is the movement to beat rare cancers. Our high-energy indoor team cycling events provide a tangible way for you to fight back—100% of all money raised directly funds lifesaving rare cancer research.*
Join the Battle
- *An estimated 1,688,780 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2017.
- Approximately 50% of people with cancer are battling a rare cancer.
- Rare cancers include brain, pancreatic, ovarian, thyroid, and stomach cancers; leukemia and lymphoma; all pediatric cancers; and many others.
- Each year MSK treats more than 400 subtypes of cancer.
As always, thank you for reading and remember… CHECK YOUR NECK!! Lastly, If you do donate to Cycle for Survival, please let me know and I’ll be sure to thank you personally on Twitter via my account (@LouiseASL). You can leave me a message here or connect via any of my social platforms. Thank you!