Archives for June 2013

The Bright Side Of A 30 Day Challenge


Photo credit: Robert Barone

“The next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not, so why not think about something you have always wanted to try and give it a shot for the next 30 days?”
– Matt Cutts, Google Engineer

I stumbled upon Matt Cutt’s: Try Something New For 30 Days Ted Talk and I probably would have been googling Zappos in no time if it wasn’t for my challenge. I’m participating in a blogathon which requires blogging every day for 30 days, which also coincided with my blog’s launch.

This is day 20 and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to deal with a WordPress learning curve and generating a story idea every day. My kids have said I seem a little distracted but that’s a defense mechanism so they’ll leave me alone.

The pursuit of the next blog post is tantamount to any and all household crises. When I started the blogathon I had about five posts ready to go but now I’m working one day at a time – but the best part is that I’m absolutely not giving up even if my kids starve, my house is taken over by the laundry police or my eye twitch becomes permanent.

It’s the kind of determination that Michelle Rogers, my guest blogger yesterday wrote about her turning point and how small, consistent steps made all the difference in her  weight loss journey. It’s also the same kind of resolve that Kimberly Gorman Muto, who I also wrote about this week, committed to unearthing her inner artist.

I even had a Cinderella moment one evening when power went out for about 45 minutes at 11:00 p.m. as I was about to publish my post. In the nick of time, at 11:59 p.m. my post was published.

I couldn’t stop shaking my head as Cutts spoke about his experiments. Here’s what he learned and why I kept nodding my head while watching:

  • Time – “Those next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not…” I’ve been starting my blog for a long time. I kept delaying the launch because I was focused on minutia and that negative voice inside my head. The months do fly by and why not try something you’ve always wanted to do? Cutt’s found that instead of the months flying by forgotten they ended up being a lot more memorable.
  • Negative Thoughts – Cutt’s self-confidence increased so he started to explore more ambitious challenges. He went from being inactive to biking to work every day to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I haven’t finished my first challenge but I can tell you that I’m starting to become a different person. That negative voice is being pushed to the side and I may try to write a book one day or at the minimum start pitching more media outlets.
  • Determination – There’s nothing like setting a goal and doing your best to keep it. Sounds obvious, right?

“I stopped setting goals for myself because as a mom, I had become the gatekeeper for everyone else’s goals.”

  • Start Small – I think this is one of the reasons why people give up, they start with Mt. Kilimanjaro first! According to Cutts, small sustainable changes are more likely to stick than large lofty goals and if you don’t believe that, check out Michelle Roger’s story.

I’m not sure what I’ll do next but I can tell you that I’ll set up another challenge for myself and I hope you will too!

Check out Cutt’s Ted Talk here:

[ted id=1183]


One Woman’s Turning Point With Weight

mrToday’s post is written by blogger, Michelle Rogers. She candidly shares her struggle with weight and how she successfully lost 60 pounds – and gained so much more in the process. Her journey prompted her to start her blog, Healthy Beauty. I hope she inspires you!

My name is Michelle Rogers. I’m 46, and live in North Carolina with my husband of 27 years. Being a mom of two is my greatest joy, and I have a career in communications that I love.

But my biggest accomplishment has been overcoming a very personal burden. From childhood until five years ago, I struggled with self-esteem, eating and my weight. From an eating-disordered low of 124 lbs. as a teen to a pregnancy high of 230, I’ve been every size in the store.

Yo-yo dieting and sporadic stints of exercising were the norm for me. I’d see a magazine cover that promised “lose 20 lbs. this month!” and I’d believe it and try it. By the time I reached 40, my weight had steadily crept up. Five years ago, the scale was hovering at 200 and I wore a size 18.

I was always bloated, and finding clothes that fit and were flattering was a challenge. Worse of all, I felt sick and tired almost all the time. I’d get up from my desk feeling stiff and sore, and walk like an old woman to the copier. I was taking four Ibuprofen at a time, daily. After going grocery shopping, I’d need to lie down and rest for a while. Just getting through the day made me weary.

I wasn’t happy with myself, and I certainly wasn’t fully enjoying life. Not only did I feel bad physically, I felt terrible emotionally. I was so self-conscious and timid that I often shied away from activities that involved people. My self-esteem and energy levels were connected, and both were as low as they could go, it seemed.

I knew I wasn’t being the best I could be, and that bothered me. But with failure after failure at keeping weight off, I just felt so helpless to overcome it.

Five years ago, I’d had enough. I decided I was done with dieting, done with losing only to gain it back. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and too young to feel this old! So I figured that if nothing else, I needed to get my body moving to try to alleviate the stiffness and tiredness.

We’d just moved into a new house and money was tight. One day I was scanning ads for used furniture on Craigslist, and saw a treadmill for $100. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went and saw it. Covered in dust in the garage corner was a practically brand-new NordicTrack! It even had a shock-absorbing cushioned belt, which would be good for my sore joints and feet. It was perfect. It was meant to be.

Because I was so determined that this time would be different, that I wouldn’t lose weight just to gain it back, or start an exercise program just to give it up, I really thought about how I should proceed with fitness. This time I decided to start small and keep it doable. And as it turns out, starting small but being consistent was a key point in my success.

I started walking 15 minutes on the treadmill at a scheduled time every day. The next week I did 16 minutes. Each week I added another daily minute. Gradually, I increased speed as well as time.  Once I got to 30 minutes, the weight started dropping off. By then I’d been at it a few months.

I wasn’t losing weight at first, but I didn’t give up like I had every other time in the past. Why? Because I realized I’d started feeling better. My legs were getting stronger. I didn’t feel stiff and sore when I got up from my desk like I used to. I had more energy, was more cheerful even. I was truly getting better, physically and emotionally. So I said, heck with it, if I don’t lose pounds then so be it…but I’m not giving up. I didn’t want to go back to feeling sick and tired all the time.

That was the turning point.michelle-pilotmountain

It was when I made exercise about my health and feeling good, instead of the scale, that everything finally clicked for me. And amazingly, that is also when I finally started losing weight!

All the effort I’d been putting into fitness made me want to start eating healthier, too. I began with small, gradual changes there as well.

For example, when we went to McDonald’s, I ordered a quarter pounder without cheese, instead of my usual big mac. I also quit eating late at night, because it gave me heartburn. I started eating high protein meals and fewer sandwiches, because that was better for my hypoglycemia.

After all these years I started listening to my body and what it had been trying to tell me for so long. It was craving nourishment and movement. It was rejecting foods and habits that were bad for me.

Five years ago when I began this journey, I didn’t tell anyone. With my track record I had no expectation of success and didn’t want to announce I was starting something just to once again fail. A fit body seemed like an impossible dream. But to my surprise, this time was different — I did succeed. I succeeded because I refused to give up.

Today, I’m 60 pounds lighter and a size 4/6. I’m still using that same treadmill, every morning before work. I look and feel the best I ever have. No longer stiff and tired, I bounce right up from my desk. And I can hike mountains on the weekends, instead of needing a nap from going to the store.


Michelle’s before and after!

Every area of my life has improved and benefitted from this change in me. Not only do I have my youthful energy, looks and health back, I have more confidence and self-esteem than I have ever had.

And for me, that is the biggest success of all.

For more inspiration and tips on healthy living, please follow my blog at:

Finally Seeing The Light

305909_10151127849886852_610467976_n That Girl Is Amazing: Kimberly Gorman Muto

It’s never too late to expose your dreams! Say goodbye to your hurdles and start today!

The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.
– Ernest Haas

Kimberly Muto’s twins were bantering about vocabulary when her son asked what entrepreneur meant, her daughter responded: “You know what Mommy does!” That was music to her ears.

Muto’s passion for art started when she was a little girl. She says she was born with a crayon in her hand.

“I was always coloring…trying to make the world a beautiful place,” shared Muto.

She majored in art history and dabbled in studio art in college eventually landing at Merrill Lynch. She knew it wasn’t a great fit but, like many artists, was unsure how to translate her passion. Then life got in the way – moving, marriage and children.

The “artist” didn’t stay dormant for long. She loved taking pictures and her children became her muse. Prior to the surging popularity of Christmas card photos, Muto designed a card and received accolades from friends and family.

The idea to build a business developed organically. She began with a point and shoot camera. Her husband then purchased a better camera for her and she decided to take classes.

After researching photographers, she found Rob Goldman, an award winning photographer, who viewed her work and asked her apprentice with him.

Again life got in the way for this busy mom of three. Met with calamity and disappointment, her husband had an accident, lost his job and the dog smashed her camera – somehow the artist prevailed.

Three years to the day she first contacted Goldman, she had her first lesson. Having just purchased a Nikon D300S, Muto was paralyzed by fear.

“I didn’t know how to turn it on,” added Muto. “I was blessed to find a teacher who was not about working the camera. His advice was to ‘see the light.’ Then he taped my camera settings.”

That was the freedom Muto needed to go out and shoot the beauty she saw in the world. Goldman left her with advice that launched her passion: “I can’t teach you what you know.”


Female portraits are Muto’s signature shots.

Using Facebook to launch the business she began to develop a clientele. One of her first job requests came from a woman who wanted to capture her pregnancy and they are still Muto’s favorite shots.

The more she shot, the more the inner artist emerged. She draws from her favorite artist Matisse, who loved the female form. Muto favors portraits, shooting in natural light and women as subjects. Women in their 40s have been drawn to her work and she’s thrilled about that. Behind the lens, she sees wisdom and an aura of sexuality that’s lacking in their younger counterparts.


“Moustache” won Best In Show, Huntington’s Art Council.

“My gift is to truly find the beauty in every face I see,” explained Muto. “Many women are surprised when they see their photos.”

Muto’s work was recently recognized as Best In Show by The Huntington’s Art Council.

Proud to be doing what she loves, she also feels she’s a role model for her children.

“We can try and ignore who we really are but eventually we find our way home,” said Muto. “When I’m behind the camera, I feel I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

To learn more about Kimberly Gorman Muto photography visit her at or via email at

A Letter To My Midlife Canine

IMG_0274“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.” – Nora Ephron

Dear Harry,

I’m starting with a confession: I didn’t want you. I know I’ve denied it but you have to understand where I was coming from.

I was just getting over an 11 year relationship with a 90 pound golden retriever named Oliver who ate: a kitchen floor, Christmas lights, mail, shoes and every important paper I owned. He made Marley look like one of Cesar Milan’s dogs!

It was three years after Oliver’s passing and my obsession with vacuums was subsiding and so was my eye twitch. I didn’t blame Oliver. We were bad parents; we worked during the day. No one was home to walk and play with him. When I became a stay-at-home mom it was a little late for rehab – although I did research canine lobotomies.

I went to the shelter under the premise we were just looking. After owning a purebred we thought we would rescue a mutt. Oliver was likely a product of bad breeding practices, since he experienced a range of health issues.

We almost left without you – we were walking away after checking out the dogs available for adoption. I could see evil in every one of their eyes. Visions of chewed shoes danced in my head.

Then after prompting from my son, we went back in. I’ll admit you were cute and happy.

My husband said, “We’ll take him!”

Before you know it, we were driving home with you, pet bowls, food and buyer’s remorse (mine).

I set up a crate and prayed. That night, I didn’t sleep. We had just renovated our home and I couldn’t do it again.

I woke up and said, “We have to get rid of him.”

I know it’s hard to hear those words but you won me over. You are not perfect but apparently neither am I; I’m a cold heartless soul who kicks puppies to the curb!

Despite, the hair you deposit everywhere, you won me over. You arrived just as the teenage cretins who live in this house have asserted their independence. The hormone tsunami has hit and during this storm you’ve become a ray of light.

I love you because:

  • You are always happy. Here in hormone hell, happiness is measured on a Richter scale!
  • You always love me. I know I feed and walk you but I’ve messed up a couple of times. The cretins don’t always love me!
  • You never ask me for money. Teens and money, need I say more!
  • You never complain about dinner or your life! Teens do that a lot!
  • You are a constant in world that is perpetually changing. The trials and tribulations of watching my kids grow up have intersected with my own changes. We are all moving in different orbs and sometimes it is frightening – and there you are a steadfast companion, a creature of habit who thinks I’m ravishing and misses me if I’m gone for five minutes.

What’s not to love? Okay, maybe the hair!










Five Wishes For Father’s Day

small_4718225577For fathers, children and any man who has ever touched the life of a child.

Whatever version of patriarch you are celebrating, here are five wishes for today!

  1. Step Up To The Plate – That all fathers realize the importance of their role. We hear the laments about single moms lacking support. If you can afford little, give time and what little you can. Your impact on a child today can either reap dividends or sow regret.
  2. Support Your Daughter’s Dreams – Here’s to Warren Buffett’s recent decry that we’re using only half of our country’s talent. In our modern world I have heard: “My daughter is just going to get married anyway. Why spend so much on college!” Nails on a blackboard! A fancy, private college is unnecessary – build your daughter’s confidence, pave the way for her to be an independent, free thinking woman and support her education which is no less important than your son’s!
  3. Think Before You Legislate – For politicians at every level: look at your wife, your daughter, your granddaughter and think what kind of world you want for them. Is it acceptable to sustain a wage gap, limit her rights and cut services that affect women and children?
  4. Seize An Opportunity To Be A Dad – Every Father’s day, until he passed away, I sent my best friend’s father a card. I loved him like my own Dad. While my father was mired in grief due to my mother’s death, Mr. G drove us everywhere – no questions asked. Don’t let the opportunity to touch someone’s life go away.
  5. Forgive – Life is short to hold grudges against those who don’t know any better. For those who never understood the man that sired them – think about the context of their life, the time period they grew up in and their limitations. Some men are lousy fathers, in this case, be the father you never had.

Nietzsche said: “When one has not had a good father, one must create one.”

Happy Father’s Day! My last wish is that we all embrace the many different types of families that exist in our country.

photo credit: <a href=”“>mcdarius</a> via <a href=”“>photopin</a> <a href=”“>cc</a


There Are Many Ways To Say Goodbye

small_1865482908Facing a parent with dementia…

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 8 older Americans has Alzheimer’s disease. The incidence and prevalence of this disease is on the rise. As we age, many of us will face this disease with our parents. This piece was written to raise awareness and in tribute to my father.

Until I received a very strange phone call two summers ago, I didn’t realize how many ways there are to say goodbye.

My father was on the line and he wanted to know if I was sitting down because he had great news.

“I just inherited a million dollars,” he exclaimed.

I don’t come from the type of family that bequeaths a million dollars. When he told me his fortune was from a childhood friend he hadn’t spoken to in 70 years my concern rather than his bank account increased.

I soon learned that it is futile to disagree with someone who is suffering from dementia. At 87 years old, my father survived World War II, widowhood with two small girls to raise and most of his old age sans too many bruises all to become master of a strange universe. It was sudden and difficult to come to terms with.

Dead relatives have resurfaced and have invited themselves to Thanksgiving dinner. All kinds of celebrities have become distant relations and I’ve even found myself with a new brother. More heartbreaking is my father’s insistence that my mother, who passed away 38 years ago, is still alive and spends most of her time at the Waldorf Astoria waiting for us. He often queries if we have seen her and becomes upset if we haven’t. Though in his own way, he ponders why he hasn’t seen her.

He was someone who loved to travel and he now travels between two different worlds –  the world that seems to agree with the order of things and the one inhabited by the past lacking order or control. The characters who surface in this new world range from those who’ve left big gaping holes like crater in our hearts to others who just flitted by.

The old world barely exists and the new world doesn’t. After the initial shock and denial, I decide to participate in both worlds not understanding either. Meanwhile in my own world, I’m missing a piece. I have a wonderful story to relay and I think my father would be a great audience and then I pause and remember that it would be too arduous to explain. From a wonderful conversationalist he has become taciturn.

I wonder about loss. Is this a legitimate loss? If it feels real, it must be. If that’s so, his premise is not that far off. I pine for our laughs and for his wry and sardonic quips. His generosity always outpaced what he had but he loved to offer help.

Alternatively, he is at times more satisfied than he’s ever been. The pre-dementia father could be unhappy.

We all have many sides to our personality. Forever changed irrevocably my father is here and gone. Now we travel together, he revels in the past while I yearn for it.

photo credit: <a href=””>Josep Ma. Rosell</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>


The Catharsis Of Sandwich Making

IMG_4298How an ordinary sandwich and its sublime construction made my day…

I joke, I’m the sandwich lady. Every morning I make two sandwiches for my children’s lunch. Sure they can make their own sandwich but it’s like a bad habit I can’t stop. Besides they are always running late or can’t find something. I don’t love making sandwiches, most mornings I fling the ingredients on the counter and slap everything together with the main goal of putting everything back in its place…only to start over again the next morning.

I do add finishing touches like a piece of romaine lettuce and sometimes I get fancy and make basil mayo. The kids like it although my son was once told by a classmate that his sandwich was moldy – mostly though it’s another chore like washing the dog’s dish and feeding him day after day after day.

Yet, I can’t help but feel there is something cathartic for me about sandwich making. A sandwich packed neatly in a brown paper bag, means someone is behind the scenes keeping it all together.

I didn’t always have that someone behind the scenes since my mother died when I was in sixth grade. We ate hot lunch in school and all I ever wanted was a sandwich. I do remember the sandwiches my mother made on white square rolls with ham and muenster cheese. Those were mostly Saturday sandwiches.

I make sandwiches for other occasions as well. There are the sandwiches I make for double header baseball games when I know my son will be gone for six hours and my kitchen will remain intact. Those sandwiches are like a good luck send off. School sandwiches represent the survival meal for those who don’t eat breakfast.

The other day I made someone else a sandwich. I spotted rare roast beef at the deli and ordered a half a pound. I knew I would be visiting my Dad the next day who is suffering from dementia. Food has become one of his last remaining pleasures – that and the Yankees. I made sure I purchased a soft white roll. I made that sandwich a little more carefully, although I noticed lately that I care how neatly the cold cuts are folded and lined up. I spread mayonnaise on the roll and sprinkled salt and pepper. No lettuce though, it’s too late to convince Dad of the merits of vegetables. I made sure I cut the sandwich in two even parts.

It’s all about setting the mood for visits to Dad. As I unfolded the aluminum foil, I could sense Dad’s interest. I wanted him to like my sandwich. If he deemed it too rare or not rare enough, his ire would dampen our time together. He liked the sandwich. We smiled at each other and he happily ate it.

It was a small and simple pleasure to add Dad to my list of sandwich recipients. I don’t really understand who he has become but the sandwich brought us a little closer. It imparted a little bit comfort…while the simplicity of its construction held it all together.

Women Inenvtorz Network

MelindaAndDhanaThis Is One Dynamic Duo! Dhana Cohen and Melinda Knight have proven they are mothers of invention. Stonewalled by the invention process themselves, they formed an online community providing the vital support women inventors need to succeed!

Dhana Cohen and Melinda Knight founders of the Women Inventorz Network (WIN) have set out to help women inventors get their products off the ground. Both women had been through the inventor cycle and knew all too well the roadblocks inventors encounter along the way.

Cohen jokes that her number one resource in 1995, when she started working on her first invention, was the Yellow Pages.

“It was a struggle to get to market, prior to the advent of the internet,” said Cohen.

The Chicago mom has 25 years experience in marketing and product development. When she decided to stay home and raise her kids, she ran her own marketing firm for 10 years. It was during this time period that she worked on developing her own products. In the throes of figuring it all out, she became stonewalled by the process.

“I was working on a disposable bib but the process was daunting and then Pampers came out with their version,” shared Cohen.

Entrepreneurial by nature, Cohen couldn’t shake the invention bug and went on to create The Next Big Zing, the only independent award and contest program for innovative products. She also co-hosts an entrepreneur radio talk show.

Knight, based in Seattle, shares Cohen’s sensibilities regarding innovation and creativity. Her formal background is in business and marketing. While working out in the gym one day she thought how great it would be to exercise and work on her laptop at the same time.

She developed a laptop tray design and attended a casting call for a TLC show on women inventors in Chicago.  Amazed at the number of women with great ideas, but no way to promote them, Melinda returned home with a bigger idea and Womentorz was born.

The two women, met virtually, and decided to joined forces to create WIN to inspire and educate women inventors in the U.S. and Canada.

The network is based on the concept of group marketing; it’s an online community that women can tap into to help bring their product to market.

Membership is free and inventors have access to a virtual storefront. Benefits include promotion and social networking to generate sales. Members also have access to a menu of options, on a fee basis, such as inclusion in television appearances and celebrity gift giving.

According to Cohen the biggest obstacle women face is funding. This is one of the reasons why they supports the American Women Inventorz, NFP Award and Grant Program, whose mission is to support and build the brands of women inventors through outreach and education. The non-profit will host an award event next year in April.

“We want to help women get in front of investors and help them meet the right people,” explained Cohen. “Sometimes inventors have to back up 10 steps to move forward two steps but dreams can happen to everyday inventors.”

For further information regarding Women Inventorz Network visit





Ode Of The Over Assessed

The Trials & Tribulations Of High School Junior Year!

thumbn_55118321I’m not a kid anymore,
Give me that college brochure!
I’m going far, far away,
What am I supposed to write on that college essay?

Take me on a college tour,
Oh, those tours are such a bore!
Have you thought about what you want to do?
What, I was thinking about my curfew!

SAT, ACT – I can’t take it anymore!
Can I go to college by the shore?
I’ll scream if I have to take another test,
I think I’m over assessed!

Tests, tests, tests, tests, tests.
We should protest!
The real world is not that hard,
No report cards!

Oh, I’ll need a car for senior year.
Oh don’t worry have no fear!
I know how to start the car,
Drivers Ed took me far!

Am I going to need all this in real life?
It’s all strife, strife, strife!
I can’t wait to get to college and graduate,
Oh no, now I’m worrying about a prom date…!

photo credit: <a href=”“>psd</a> via <a href=”“>photopin</a> <a href=”“>cc</a>

Brewing A New Business

IMG_4238That Girl Is Amazing: Kim Orlic Of A New Leaf Tea Emporium

Love this story because it’s all about taking a risk on a product you truly believe in. Hope she inspires you!

Kimberly Orlic had 25 years of higher education work under her belt when she took the plunge and decided to start her own business. It wasn’t easy leaving an established career, in the midst of a bad economy, but running her own business was a dream she couldn’t give up.

Inspired by visiting tea houses throughout Europe and in her husband’s homeland of Croatia doubled with her love of tea – A New Leaf Tea Emporium was well on its way. The behind the scenes work was actually done ten years before the business launch when Orlic was pursing an MBA. She was required to write a business plan, so she wrote one for a tea house.

Orlic is a true tea sommelier. Her shop is a tea lover’s paradise boasting an abundant array of over 60 varieties of fine black, oolong, and green loose-leaf teas as well as rooibos (roy-boss), fruit and herb infusions. She has worked tirelessly to create the finest tea experience.


Tea flavors include cream Earl Grey, apple spice, Earl Grey green, Moroccan mint, lychee peach and many more. If traveling to Long Island is not in the cards, A New Leaf Tea Emporium will travel to you. Online ordering is available and Orlic is happy to answer any questions tea lover may have on her Facebook page or via email.

As the mother of three daughters, she’s proud of taking the plunge and going out on her own. She put her public relations skills to use along with her recent MBA. Orlic was very hands-on in the brick and mortar shop and is excited to offer her shop’s fine teas online. Tea accessories such as infusers, tea cups, paper filters and gift items are also available for online ordering.

Orlic never wanted to live with the regret of, “what if I had,” in the back of her mind. Though running a business is a lot more complex than most people realize and it can be a test of patience her approach to each day is based on small successes: making a new connection, converting a coffee-drinker, receiving compliments or repeat business.

“All of the small successes are what it’s all about,” added Orlic. “It’s not for the faint of heart, starting a business in your 40s. I’m glad my girls have had the chance to see what this experience was like. Even when they see how difficult it is, I think it’s a valuable lesson for them to see that you can accomplish your goals if you work hard enough.”

A New Leaf Tea Emporium is located at 152 Seventh Street, Garden City, NY. For further information, or to order online visit