Been A While …

It’s been quite some time since I put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards….we’re in the midst of a pandemic and social justice movement.  I won’t go into details, but I’ll just say I’m waiting on my next best PR/Communications project/job so I can continue making the world a better place.  One person can and does make a difference!

Proud of my hometown of Annapolis (below) for social distancing, wearing masks and marching for change.

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Memories of Lives Well Lived

38931918_10216286481851146_1139836865264746496_nLast week, several members of my family gathered in Buffalo, NY to say goodbye to the eldest matriarch in our Webber family, my Aunt Shirley Webber Hall.  She was one of the kindness people I have known, a gentle spirit and generous soul.  It was quite humbling and touching to see people gather and unanimously speak about her kind and loving soul.

(This picture shows my Dad Lester Webber with his little sister Shirley.)  So great to see my Dad as a kid! We even saw movies, so old they had no sound!

One of the benefits of the trip was coming across old photo albums of the family, dating back into the early 1900’s (see featured image). The clothes, the cars, the humble homes and smiling faces. I was transported back to childhood, memories of visiting my grand39121632_10216312921112111_3335661495462658048_nparents In Buffalo and reunifying with my Northern cousins.

Oh the memories … picking flowers in my grandmother’s garden, sharing a hammock with my cousins Randy and Janet, eating a six course meal at my Aunt Lyd’s, petting her dog Skipper, breaking my grandmother’s bird feeder, and one of my all time favorites … playing badminton.

I had a full circle moment last week when saying our final goodbye to Aunt Shirley, who was buried next to my grandfather’s and grandmother’s graves.  Grandma’s was the first funeral I had witnessed as a child.  I recall walking tentatively and unsteadily to the casket to view my first dead relative.  My thought, amidst the trembling, was … the life in her was clearly missing.  She didn’t look like the grandma I knew.  My second thought was wanting to kick the shins of her elderly friends who commented that she looked a little puffy and they didn’t like her lipstick.  How dare they!  People can be a little weird at funerals.


On this trip, my cousin Janet and I  recalled our memories of that funeral day in 1974, so scared of saying goodbye to our dear Grandma.  There we were, two little girls, cousins, holding hands in the pew, nervously giggling.  Our not-so-silent giggling quickly turning to tears. Grandma had given us so much love and we would miss her so.  We didn’t know what the world would look like without her.

And now, here we were again, together, holding hands and weeping, saying goodbye to another great Webber woman, her mom.  Another life well lived. A kind soul put to rest who will be sorely missed. 10301421_10203331417382631_7371645918471798265_n

One’s own mortality comes to mind during these times.  What will people say about me at my funeral?  Will my daughter stand up and say I was a loving, great mom, like Janet said about hers, touching everyone’s heart. (Or will she mostly remember by parental fails, of which there we many. Some day she’ll see it’s not as easy as it looks!)  Will folks laugh at my antics, as they did Aunt Shirley’s?  Will so many people sit in an old pew that it cracks in half, with grown men badly stifling their smiles? (This happened during Shirley’s service).  Will cousins gather and remember their innocent childhood memories? Will tears be shed?

What will I do between now and then that matters?  Hopefully I will be remembered as a loving person who made a positive difference in people’s lives and in the world.  I’m sure someone will recount something I wouldn’t want to recall. But, that’s what being human is all about, the “good, bad” and the sometimes painfully hysterical.  All in all, I hope I made a few people laugh, brightened their day, help them feel loved.

Above all else, I hope I help people remember who they truly are — amazing, infinite beings who have great memories of this wild ride called life.

Maybe a few people will shed tears when it’s time to say goodbye to you and me.  I’m pretty certain of that.  Every person makes a difference.  Even if we don’t realize it.


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Day 11: #Me too and the Re-Evolution

Today as a “me too” I want to curl up in a ball.  No wonder I like working from home, don’t have to risk the harassment or assault.  Isn’t that terrible?

Then I’d just like to punch someone.  Hard.  (Never have been able to do that, even in my dreams… ).  I wish I could go to a warehouse and throw plates at the wall or something.  Or use a baseball bat to hit something, over and over again.

So many emotions rise to the surface when thinking about sexual assault.  And many other emotions and feelings do the opposite, they bury themselves deep inside, becoming depression, introversion or “dis-ease.”

For years, I described something that happened to me as, “He made a pass at me.”  I couldn’t even say he sexually assaulted me because it would mean I was labeling a father figure as an abuser.  It would ruin the picture of fatherhood in my mind.  It would break up the family.  It would hurt the daughter that he had.  I really wanted to minimize it, lessen it, for God’s sake anything to make the memory of the incident go away.

But you can’t.  That is the problem with sexual assault.  Once it’s happened, it’s happened.  It changes you.

It changes how you think of the assailant.  If it’s an adult man, like it was for me (sadly, more than once), it makes it hard to trust adult men.  In my case, white men in positions of authority … businessmen, doctors, father figures.  Because that’s who they were, the ones that harmed me.  Someone I thought I could trust. Then I learned I couldn’t. In all cases, I had NO IDEA it was possible it could happen with them.  Totally shocking.

Fast forward to today and my dealings with men, especially those in authority.  On some level, and quite honestly, I just don’t feel safe.  Because at any moment, without any signs, they can “make a pass at me,” harass me or hurt me.  And what hurts is that I cannot know they won’t.  If they hold that position of the “father figure” or “professional” or “authority figure” I’m really on my guard.  And yet, I meet many, many men I really like and respect.  Do I trust them though?  Deep down, no.  Sadly, I do not.  I don’t think it’s safe to.  At least not up until now.

Even just a few years ago I was showing my resume to a potential client.  When he looked at my resume that listed my clients, very notable, high-profile leaders, he asked me, “How did you get these clients, Barbara?  Did you sleep with them?”  I was completely shocked.  You think it’s okay to say that?  I dropped my head.  Shocked.  He actually repeated what he said and I replied, “No, I didn’t.  No I did not.”

Maybe he thought it was a joke.  It’s not.  What in the world makes you think it is okay to demean my abilities, my job, my career, and my talents by reducing them to some sexual favor to land a client?”  That’s disgusting.  NOT funny. And, I didn’t laugh.

Honestly I don’t even want to write this or post this because for some damn reason it’s embarrassing. Humiliating.  Why do we do that, shame ourselves?  Not that I thought this was my fault, but I wonder what made him think it was okay to say that to me?  What made it okay for my pediatrician to molest me?  What made it okay for my father figure to sexually assault me?  What made it okay for a female boss to stand up at her desk and openly proclaim she would totally “f” a particular famous woman because she was so pretty.  It’s SO not okay.

barbie xmas cookiesEver since I was a little girl, I’ve always been a pretty open, bubbly person.  But this kind of thing, assault or harassment, it changes you.  You dim your light because you see men (most in my case) mistake this as an open invitation to be flirty or physical and you want to avoid that at all costs.

I’d love to be as open and bubbly as I feel, but I simply cannot do that in many situations.  In avoiding that at all costs, I guess the “cost” is not being myself.

There’s one good thing about getting older.  I feel less likely to be objectified, “hit on” or assaulted.  As much as I’d like to be young and fit, there’s a feeling of safety as I become older and probably less attractive to some. I know my age or physical appearance doesn’t necessarily prevent any harassment, assault or attack, but it “feels” like I’m a little safer.  The eyes and attention are going to the younger, prettier ones. God help them.  WE must help them.

Truly, this whole thing just disgusts me.  It’s happened to too many amazing women and girls I know.  It has taken a toll that I am not sure we will ever truly understand.

The little bit of light I see is that people are openly saying, “me too.”   Some, for the first time.  And some men are writing how upset they are to realize what has happened to (mostly women but also men) and what they will do to stand up for and with women.  I can’t express how much that means to me.  (And yes, I know assault also happens to males, but not being one I don’t want to try to speak for them.  Males haven’t confided in me, but many females have.  So I honor your experience no matter your gender or identity and I’m focusing on what I know and have experienced.)

One can only hope that in the future, young people will think this kind of outrageous behavior is as foreign as a cave man grabbing a cave woman by the hair and dragging her into a cave.  And yet, I know that cave men mentality still exists today only wrapped in a modern scenario. But, you get the idea.

Normally I try to be as upbeat and positive a person, to find the silver lining, but right now, I think I just need to feel sad. Or angry. Or depressed.  To wear the most comfortable, softest clothes, wrap myself in a cozy blanket and stay inside.  To just feel all the feelings buried down, stuffed down, hidden away.  It’s frightening to even imagine letting them surface, but I know I must.

So, wherever you are in the process of this revolution, this re-evolution, I honor that.  However you define it, doesn’t matter, it’s yours. However you feel, it’s your’s.  It’s okay to feel that.

2013-12-24 15.10.19Sometimes I can only figure out how to help myself if I imagine a child with the same problem.  So, if a little girl came up to me today and told me she had been assaulted, I would look her in the eyes and listen with my whole heart.  I would tell her that I am SO sorry this happened and she did nothing wrong.  I would tell her that I would do everything I could to take care of her.  That there is no shame in this. That we will tell someone what happened.  That it is okay to feel however she feels.  And that she is a beautiful, perfect little girl who deserves all the love in the world.  She deserves to feel safe.  That she does not stand alone.  I would tell her, “Me too.”  So, whatever you would tell that little girl … tell yourself.

In the meantime, you’ll find me inside on my cozy couch, in my softest clothes, working my way through this journey.  These incidents don’t define me.  They changed me, but I’m still doing okay.  Most days I’m actually pretty good.  So, it does getter better. Somehow.

To those who said, “Me too” I wrap my arms around you and tell you that I love you and I admire your courage.  We will get through this.  Somehow.  Some way.  And some day, less and less people, less and less children, will be saying, “Me too” and we’ll know from this outcry we had some little part in that. That future must come to pass, and I actually believe it will. It’s a RE-Evolution of humanity.

More of us are no longer going to tolerate harassment, assault or abuse.  We won’t keep quiet.  We won’t isolate.  Find SOMEONE to tell, anyone.  Don’t keep it inside.  If you’re a “me too,” remember, you are not alone.  We are with you, standing beside you, standing up for you.  Even when you feel you don’t have the strength to stand, lean on us, we’ll stand for you. We’ll listen, believe and stand with you as you find your way back to your true, empowered self, in your own time, in your own way.  But, you are not alone.

And however you feel, this will change over time.  It may get worse at times, but over time it is likely to get better.  There is hope here. There is progress.  By the millions of beautiful souls saying, or honoring, the statement “me too.”

I’m with you. I’m so sorry this happened to us.  But, it is not who were are.  We are so much MORE than this could ever be.  I stand with you in love and in awe, knowing your future is bright. Especially when we collectively shine our light.

Me too, anch’io


Your Intentional (RE-evolutionary) Co-creator

PR expert and author of Feeling Loved, A Ted E. Bear Story

P.S.  Here is Aunt Kitty’s take on “me too.”  (My southern, straight talking alter ego who is an amazing life coach!)



Special thanks to one man in my family who was the role model for males who love and respect females and never cross the line.  I am forever grateful to my kind, loving, amazing, respectful, best brother ever, Lee Webber.  I love you and am forever grateful for your love, protection and never ending belief in me.  He’s my role model for men.  (Sadly he passed away many years ago and I miss him every day.)




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Day 10: Desires and Waterfalls

I had one of those brain breakthrough’s yesterday.  You’ve heard something about the way the world works, or your mind works, over and over again.  You know it intellectually, you believe it, and you’ve even talked about it but it doesn’t always feel true in your experience.  Then, all of a sudden. when you’re least expecting it, that idea  becomes a visceral knowing.  No longer just an idea or belief, now you just know inside your very soul that IT is the truth. That’s what happened yesterday.  But first, a little background.

I used to be a big achiever.  And a big dreamer.  (I think I’m still the latter and a now just a bit of the former).  I went after a lot of things: to do, to be and (a little less) to have.  But, I hit some of those marks and still did not feel “fulfilled” or happy.  Sound familiar?  You realize that “the thing” you thought you wanted wasn’t what you were really looking for.  It’s wonderful that it happened, you created it, or you co-created it, however you think of it.  But, you discover that the outside happening is not what fulfills or satisfies your spirit.  It’s what is going on inside you that makes the biggest difference in how you feel about your life.


Webber Professional Media Consulting’s most recent project.  Here’s me with my client Rodney Barnes, an award-winning writer and producer as he visits Annapolis, MD. And I look tiny next to him, thanks!

My mind began reflecting back on some of my amazing accomplishments in business.  I have served as a strategist, writer, and expert communications professional leading public relations and media relations campaigns nationwide since the 1980’s.  My work included representing many high-profile  leaders and resulted in some phenomenal outcomes: helping restore hope of Democracy to the people of South Korea by delivering an exiled leader home to safely; helping end Apartheid after years of pressure on the U.S. and South African government; raising the issue of Equal Pay and other women’s issues, civil rights issues and environmental issues, and, even saving children from abduction.  I helped communicate pressing issues in a way that would activate change in our country and around the globe.   And, celebrated phenomenal outcomes.

mom n me

Me and my mom, honored to love her through her illness and be her companion and champion as she fought the good fight

I’ve also many great “outcomes” in my personal life, often overcoming difficult times.  Surviving childhood traumas and adult ones.  Helping my best friend navigate, and being her rock, during the painful and frightening cancer diagnosis of her finance’ and then his death only a few weeks after their marriage.  Then, helping my mom deal with all the difficulties of lung cancer.  Nursing her and being her companion through that awful disease and holding her hand as she died.  Saving a little kid from drowning.  Helping a 16-year-old homeless pregnant girl.  I was a companion, survivor and rescuer.  I liked being there when people really needed someone and making sure they did not feel alone in this big, sometimes scary, world.

Loves. I had a few great ones.  Getting married to a very kind and supportive man.  Falling in love with an adventurer who brought passion and life to me when I desperately needed it.  Choosing love with an amazing doctor/healer who helped my daughter, me and many others recapture their health which taught me more about the body, mind and soul connection.


The ever growing family at my daughter’s graduation

My deep desire for family.  Blessed with loving siblings (Beth, Lee and Carol) and parents, I early wanted a family of my own, complete with children. I gave birth to the most amazing daughter I could ever want and am thoroughly grateful for the gift of motherhood.  Although I lost my mother, father and brother, I still have sisters and their children (and their children) … and the family keeps expanding.  Now, I add to my love bucket the young people for whom I have become a pseudo Godmother to guide, love and empower them. Being part of, and belonging to, a family was one of my biggest dreams that came true.

I also wanted to understand who I was and why I was here.  I read numerous spiritual books, self-help books, went to conferences, workshops and watched hours of video. Anything to learn about growth and spirituality.  I learned so much I was able to teach metaphysics and spiritual development courses and be a mentor to others.  I explored, increased and expanded my intuitive gifts so I could support people in connecting with their soul and a higher understanding of being a spirit in a human body.

I wanted to be healthy so I sought out traditional doctors, holistic and homeopathic physicians, acupuncturists, nutritionists, herbalist and healers.  Learned tons and got better, even beat a life-threatening illness.  Now I’m able to point people in the direction of different avenues and resources for wellness.


Who Dun It, Bowie MD

I wanted to entertain people and express my creativity.  I auditioned and won roles in a ton of theatre shows, videos, some television, radio, etc.  I traveled the country performing in schools using an educational/entertainment format.  I learned to play the guitar and won an award in middle school (which funnily enough I had no memory of until someone on Facebook found me and reminded me!) I wrote and published books, children’s activity books, produced video and plays.  Creativity fuels me.

So, now I am contemplating what wanting something and getting it actually gets you.  I wonder what do I really want … and if I get it, will I be satisfied?  What if I really, really want something and what will  happen if I get i … or if I don’t?  (Both can be scary) Have I done everything I wanted to do and been everything I wanted to be?  Not a chance.  Have I reached some point where I feel complete, fulfilled? Nope.

lily grad

My daughter Lily and I

Achievement review: So overall, in my lifetime, I really wanted to help others. √  T I wanted to contribute to the world. √  I wanted love, romance and passion.  √√√  Wanted to live (when everyone thought I wouldn’t).  √ Wanted to get married, yep.  Got a GREAT child. (Biggest check!)  You get the drift.  But, I realize, more than ever, that there’s more going on beneath and beyond the outcomes.



So, yesterday I got a flash, an insight, about all these “things to do” imaging what I “want” next.  Then, the insight hit me at a soul level, feeling viscerally what I understood intellectually all along — that feeling fulfilled is an inside job.  I can have all the professional success, all the personal relationships, all the knowledge, creativity, compassion, connection and still feel unfulfilled. Like there’s more to do, be, have …

Maybe it’s the human spirit, to always want more.  Not even from a place of greed or gluttony, but from being a natural creator who loves to create over and over again.  We want to experience something new.  Be something different.  Learn something never known before. Get something we don’t have.  Find the something new that is always around the corner. Continually creating.

Lately, what I have been able to let go of (a bit) is the “how and when” of it.  Or even knowing what the next thing is. The unknown.  I’m letting go of the details I imagine must happen to “hit my mark.”

What I know is that I like to share my gift for communication and entertaining, to have loving relationships, to be creative, and to make a difference.  How that will unfold I have no idea and I have less investment in “making it happen.”  I’m more in a place of just being myself and see what come up.  More than ever, I’m now in a place of trusting the unknown to unfold, in the right moment, in this adventure called my life.

It takes off a lot of pressure, that’s for sure.  Phew!

For now I’ll still wait for that forever love, until I find it (or better yet it finds me).  Somehow.  Who knows how, or why, or when, or where.  (Italy? Maryland?)  Life changing and world-changing projects will fall into my lap at some point.  I will be drawn to opportunities to act, perform, collaborate, speak to groups and teach.  I will enjoy my precious daughter, family and friends and meet others to love.  I will probably get sick and well and sick and well.

Maybe I’ve stopped looking for fulfillment.  I’m not sure it’s even possible because once you get filled up, you give some away and more room is made for more filling up.  It’s really continual, less like a cup filling up and overflowing and more like a stream that runs into a river, that runs into an ocean. And more water just falls from the sky whenever it wants.  Sometimes its a sprinkle and other times a storm.  The tide is high and sometimes the tide is low.  But the water, it flows naturally.  It is amazingly beautiful and perfect, and takes all kinds of unknown twists and turns.


Me and Stephy now grown up, but would still enjoy racing sticks over the waterfall in Reston, VA

I’m now thinking that maybe I’m like the sticks I played with as a child.  My friend Stephy and I would go down to a stream that had a waterfall at the end pouring into Reston’s Lake Anne.  Stephy and I would find different shaped sticks and name them:  Bendy, Skinny, Crooked, Charlie.  We would put the sticks at the top of the stream and chase the sticks through the flowing water, keeping our eyes on the sticks until they reached the falls.  Sometimes we’d rescue them just before they went over and sometimes, let them take the waterfall ride.  Often the stream was slow but other times fast, sped up by recent storms.  With glee we’d watch our sticks float down the stream, we’d yell goodbye and wish them luck on their journey just before they careened over the waterfall.  Then, we would go back and find more sticks to set on a journey and do it all over again.  It was a great adventure.

Whatever your desire or dreams, it’s the beginning of a journey.  Whether you’re the stick floating towards the waterfall, not knowing where it will lead you, or the water carrying the sticks merging with bigger waters, I wish you a great adventure.  We don’t know where we’ll end up in the great ocean of life, but I know that it’s the adventure that matters.  The outer adventure is very thrilling but, the inner adventure is the one with the deepest waters.

In the flow, nel flusso,


Your Intentional (Visceral) Co-Creator

PR expert and author of Feeling Loved, A Ted E. Bear Story

P.S.  What body of water should I visit when I’m in Italy and can I put sticks in my luggage?

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Day 9: Fear, Guns and Fact Checking

I tried not looking at the news yesterday.  I just did not want to watch another whole day of violence and terrorism in America.  Yes, terrorism.  Terrorism by the gunman and terrorism via the incessant news.  Both create terror.

I have worked with the media my entire life and my working relationship I have honest respect for them, to report fair and balanced stories.  But I’m not sure when the television turned into an hour by hour rehash of the worst possible news.  Replay after replay, vocal minute by minute play-by-play, horrific images, over and over and over, for hours and hours and hours. That is terrorizing too. To our psyche. And our country.

Since media often requires we have equal airtime for both sides of an issue, I propose all day television reporting about what is being done to stop violence.  Who is working for our country’s safety and who is working just to put money in their bank account?  Fact check, and follow the money. I know fear drives both sides of this equation.  So let’s talk about it.

Ask Aunt Kitty

Ask Aunt Kitty

My unintentional life coach and alter ego, Aunt Kitty, of “Ask Aunt Kitty” has her take and I agree.  (She’s funny and really smart!)  Part of the problem about the media coverage is that we are addicted to adrenaline and fear.  Why else would we watch hour after hour after hour of the same footage of suffering?  Now, if I had family in Las Vegas during this event, I sure as heck would be scarfing up all the news I could get until I knew their whereabouts and safety.  But, if not, it’s just feeding your fear and adrenaline.

StockSnap_6DAD1FF44BIf we’re honest with ourselves I think we all can admit to some adrenaline addiction.  First step, admit we have a problem.  Focusing on something that is fearful gets your juices going, it triggers that old part of the brain that helps you have enough energy to outrun a Sabre-tooth Tiger.  But, generally when we are sitting in our living room or office cubicle there aren’t many Sabre-tooth Tigers around.  And if there are some in your living room, you might want to rethink your living space.  That would keep your adrenaline at a might high level, pretty much all the time.

So, why do we do that? Feed our adrenaline addiction? Ask yourself? My elderly father used to watch the 24 hours news stations and let me tell you it was not good for his mood or outlook on life. It was his constant companion.  But geez, sounds like a frenemy to me.  So, when I talked with him the conversation was nearly always about something bad that happened or was predicted to happen.  Of course, this saved me from talking about his latest bunion, stools or hip replacement, but still… so not great for his well-being. Or mine.

How does focusing on a negative or scary news story keep you distracted?  And from what?  Your life?  Your personal fears?  Ask yourself.   I know so many people who feel powerless so focusing outside of ourselves seems to make us feel powerful because we can wax prophetic about what “they” should be doing (kinda like I am doing here…whoops).  Or we connect around the bad news.  But, here’s an idea for taking control … turn off the bad news.  And find another connection, surely there is one. (Don’t call me Shirley!)

But honestly, once you heard about yet another violent attack and mass shooting in America, what constructive action did you take, for yourself or your community or your country?  Did it paralyze you or propel you? Anything that you are doing over and over again that is keeping you stuck or in fear is not helping you or anyone else.

If you’re concerned about gun violence, there’s a lot you can do.  Have an open conversation about the topic, preferably with someone who does not think like you do and see if there is common ground, any action that can be taken.  Find out how your Congressional representatives stand on the issue, what actions could you encourage them to take?  Let the media know you appreciate news, just not 12 hours of terrorism. Use your voice and your vote.

Many people who are living in Las Vegas, who personally experienced this tragedy, took action.  They donated blood, brought food and juice to blood donors, offered a safe place to stay, gave comfort.  After the shock, they activated.  Some, I’m sure went to their houses of worship or homes and said prayers.  Many were understandably stuck in shock and grief, and that’s okay too.  Everyone processes tragedy differently.  But eventually, I hope to see some kind of action from each and every one of us.

Fear.  It’s a killer.  If the overdose of adrenaline doesn’t kill you, continual fear will.  Kill your life, take away your joys and rob you of your every day experiences.

Fear lives in the past and the future, not the present.  It replays the fearful incidents of the past or imagines the potential incidents of the future. It has power only if we feed it … images. Images of pain, suffering, violence.

Fear in the moment can work to your advantage, it can provide adrenaline to help you run from a situation, defend yourself or give you super human strength. But fear of the past and the future, it hurts you over and over again. It’s shown to be really harmful to your immune system.

sandy hook image by Shanon Hicks, Newtown Bee

Photo by Shannon Hicks, The Newtown Bee

As much as I avoided the television news yesterday, I could feel the collective fear and grief of our country.  I really couldn’t avoid it.  And I asked myself, how many more Sandy Hooks, Pulse Nightclub, or Las Vegas strip shootings will it take for us to take real, measured, helpful action?  Whether you focus on mental health issues, common sense gun laws, or productive dialogue with leaders who affect our very lives by their decisions and legislation … there IS something you can do.  Be the change.


It might help you to investigate any personal fear you are carrying.  Is it stopping your from living your best life or preventing your unique contribution to humanity?  Be in the present, but act for the future.  All of our children are depending on that.

I don’t want to avoid the news, I want the news to be about how we came together to overcome this horrific violence that has become all too common in our country.  I want the media to be able to report that good news.  How we copied what worked in Australia and successfully ended mass shootings.  There are solutions. Proven ones.

On whatever side of an issue you stand, fact check and always, always follow the money.  (Leaders get paid by lobbyists to stand on one side or the other.  See who donates to them and visits their office!) Please don’t assume something is TRUE because a leader or any person tells you that it is, i.e., the “Democrats/Republicans/Communists are trying to take your guns.” FACT CHECK. (Note:  Despite 8 yeras of spins and fear mongering, President Obama wasn’t planning to and, as history shows, didn’t take our guns.)   Facts tell you more than any one newscast can.

StockSnap_32PHX17FREUnderstand you have to be a wise consumer of the news… When a journalist reports, “The President (whichever one) said …x, y, z or A/B/C person said l, m, n, o, p” it doesn’t mean that what the President or person said is true, it just means the journalist is telling you what they said. For example, Journalist Pat says, “Congressional leaders reported today that the sky is blue.  But, President Napoleon made a speech to his leadership today and rebutted that, saying the sky is gone.”  Both are true.  The sky is blue and Napoleon said that (in this made up scenario, I hope).  But, the sky is NOT gone.  FACT CHECK.

A balanced reporting on the issues does not mean both sides are telling the truth … follow the source and the money!  Investigate their history on the issue.  For instance, locally in Annapolis we have a city council member named Peroutka who is has been aligned with a White Supremacist organization for years, and then he all of a sudden tries to distance himself from that organization and claims he didn’t know they were racists.  Nice spin but …  REALLY?  Read their website, look at their photos.  Anybody could figure out who they are and what they’re about.  (Again, if you follow his money trail and speaking engagements, it’s pretty clear.)  FACT CHECK.

I realize that some people fear that the government is trying to take away their weapons; that we need assault weapons to potentially defend ourselves from said government.  My take:  if our government went so off the tracks that they wanted to lock us all up, they have more than semi-automatic rifles to do that.  Chemical.  Biological.  Nuclear.  Your itty bitty semi ain’t gonna cut it.  And if you’re afraid of another country coming in, same thing applies, we got ammo.

Maybe that’s just what the gun industry, who makes billions upon billions, wants you to think so they can keep making profits off us. Blood money, I’d call it. Rest assured you can keep your hunting rifles and self-defense pistols.  There is no reason on God’s green earth to have a rifle that can shoot 500 people in minutes.  Come on people.  The only people who profit from the sale of those weapons is the gun industry and the people they pay to represent them (lobbyists, members of our Congress, political parties, etc).

I don’t know about you, but even on a normal day, I breathe easier once my daughter is home safe.  I don’t even realize that as the sun goes down I begin having a about her safe return.  Way too many people in Las Vegas didn’t have their children come home safe last night.  Some of their children they will see in the hospital and others they will not see on this Earth again.  The question is, what are you willing to do about it?  And, please tell me that you won’t wait until it happens to your children.

Don’t let fear paralyze you, use it as it was intended, to propel you to safety. In this case it can help you to use your voice, your vote and your victory for everyone’s safety.  Every child in this country depends on us. On you.

Prayers for everyone affected.  And that’s pretty much everyone.

With my voice, la mia voce,


Your Intentional, fact checking, Co-Creator

PR expert and author of Feeling Loved, A Ted E. Bear Story



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Day 8: Humanity and Loving Thy Neighbor

My friend DaJuan Gay called me Sunday and said he was speaking at a March for Racial Justice in Annapolis, MD and asked if was I going.  Being the supportive, activist “godmother” friend, I kicked into gear and went. (After bringing him breakfast, of course, since I’m always a mom.)


DaJuan Gay, Kobe and Kamryn Green, Youth Speakers and Leaders at the March in Annapolis

For many years I would have been the organizer or publicist of this kind of event.  This time I was a spectator and participant so I had the opportunity to really listen to each speaker instead of worrying about any logistics.  It was a small, but dedicated, group in Annapolis and a few speakers really stood out, especially the young people like my friend.

One speaker, Michael GrayHawk Parsons really taught me  a lot.  He is an Indigenous Native American and one of the topics he addressed was the Washington NFL football team name.  We really have things to learn here.   Or at least I did.

native american greyhawk

Michael GaryHawk Parson, Author and Speaker

Like many, I assumed the “r” name came from the reddish skin color of Native Americans, but this articulate, knowledgeable man enlightened us.  He explained that after his people shared corn and land with white folks those white folks wanted to take away more — their women, their language and their culture. Fighting and genocide ensued.  White people were offered a bounty of $200 for “Indians” which was quite a lot back in those days.  However, rather than bring back the entire body of the “Indians” they killed, they would scalp them from forehead to the back of the head, which would make blood run down their faces and bodies, turning their entire body red, thus the nickname “r.”  Now, do you have a problem with the name (if you didn’t already)?

He also referred to most films depicting Native Americans as the slender, tall, high cheek boned peoples.  He told us that his native people, his tribe, were actually medium height and build while his brothers and sisters from other tribes looked very different.  Some of them rather tall, some short and heavy set, some with straight hair, others with curly hair.  There is no one body type or hair type for his people.  It’s time to be aware and educated about representations about so called “races” and stereotypes of any group.

I recall that back in college (with horse drawn carriages…) during a sociology course, we viewed a film about race and racism.  It was then that I learned that “race” is entirely made up.  The fact is there is no such thing.  There is no difference between “races.”  It’s a way to divide and separate people.  Did you know that at one time Italians and Irish were separated from Caucasians as being separate races?  Somebody made that up.   There is one race, the human race.

There was once a national speaker, I think he was an astronaut, who toured schools and was famous for saying, “When the aliens show up, we won’t be worry about what race we belong to, we’ll all be the human race.”  Is that what it will take?  I don’t think so.2013-12-24 15.10.19

I taught my daughter at an early age that we are all one human family.  She accepted this without any questions or doubt.  We are.  However, one day she was telling someone she was Jewish and I said, “Well, honey, you’re not Jewish.”  And she said, “But, what about Bubby Suzy?  She’s Jewish and she’s my grandmother.”  Ahh.  I could see where she got that.

Bubby Suzy is one of my favorite people on the planet and she is Lily’s adopted grandmother (my mother died when I was 25, way before Lily was born).  So I explained to Lily the difference between “adopted” grandmothers and biological grandmothers.

Then, she said, “But, mom, you said we are all family.” And I said, “You’re right!  We are.”  Kids are the best at bottom lining it.

Fast forward many years and our family began digging into our ancestry.  It turns out my mother’s father, Leon Hirsch, was, in fact, Jewish.  When he married my grandmother, with English roots, they raised their children (my uncle Lee and my mom) as Episcopalians.   When my Uncle Lee grew up and started a business, he would change his last name to Hirst to hide the appearance of being Jewish due to ongoing prejudice.  I honestly don’t know what my mother knew about her Jewish roots, she never spoke about it.  My my siblings and I grew up not even knowing our heritage from my grandfather’s side.

So, as my sister explained the newly discovered family history and our ties to Judaism, we were all surprised.  All except Lily who turned to me and said, “I TOLD you I was Jewish!”  Kids have it right more often than not.

One of my famous kid quotes is, “God, who drew the lines around the countries?”

We did.  We find all ways of separating ourselves.  But what I see now is that when people in power try to separate us, the vast majority rise up and work to connect more deeply.  We advocate, join forces, we stand for and with one another.  We do what we can to tear down racism, sexism, and all the isms, the stereotypes and division.  Fear creates such great divides.

People also argue over the right labels and groupings and whatnot.  I find the best route is to let people identify themselves in the way that works for them.  Who am I to say what “group” you belong to and what names are offensive to you.  And educate yourself; now I understand even more why the name of the Washington NFL Team is so offensive.

I honor your choice to self identify and to take issue with harmful, divisive, demeaning, disgusting or stereotypical names.  It’s your race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, history.  You do what works for you.  It’s hard enough figuring out who I am on a day to day basis, and I’m pretty much a white chick (with Jewish roots) who loves everyone.

I’d rather be connected than divided.  I want everyone to be included and accepting.  I don’t know of one religion that doesn’t teach Love Thy Neighbor. (or however it is spoken in the language of the land).  How many people die because we don’t?

multi ethnic children

I am certain that if we put people side by side and asked them to list things about themselves, who they are, what they want for themselves and their family, we would discover far more things in common than different.  Most people want to work, to contribute, to raise a family (or not), to be accepted for who they are.   If we asked anyone do you want war or peace, I think most would say peace.

When I worked with military leaders I discovered they were the biggest proponents of peace I had met (I previously thought the hippy/peace movement people were).  But these military folks, they had been on the line, they had lost friends and family on the line.  They wanted peace more than anyone I met.  Very enlightening.  My uneducated assumption was that the peacekeepers were the ones on the “other side.”

Ends up we are very often on the same side, even if we look different on the outside: one in uniform, one hugging a tree in flowery dresses (Ok, you know I’m kidding right?), one darker skinned, one lighter skinned, one praying in a mosque another in a temple another in a church and another in nature or not at all.  Honor the difference but find the connections and similarities. And Love Thy Neighbor.

We drew the lines around the countries.  We draw lines between ourselves and another.  It’s time to erase those lines and connect the dots. I think the picture of one humanity with its beautiful diversity is a sight to see, believe in and work towards.

love-thy-neighborAs we marched through Annapolis carrying signs of people who had been murdered at the hands of police who judged them by the color of their skin, many people took pictures and gave us a thumbs up.  One young person took issue and said, “You’re ridiculous.”  Tell that to the mothers and fathers of the dead children whose pictures we wore. Love thy neighbor.

Someone in opposition to our march said, “God bless America!!!” and some of us replied the same back to them in total sincerity, “God bless America.”  I find it really odd that people think it’s un-American to march or kneel or however you show your values or dissent.  Uh.  That’s what makes America different.  We can march.  We can have differing opinions.  We can speak up if people in authority need to be checked.  We can speak up if there is racism, oppression, or innocent lives lost. Love thy neighbor.

I recently wrote about “Challenge Day” and saw 13 year old children crossed the line to show if they had experienced racism, violence, bullying, sexism and the other isms.  Way too many kids crossed the line.  So, we still have much work to do.  Love thy neighbor.

Whether you march, educate yourself or others, speak up, pray, look out for others, find your way to love your neighbor.  Please do your part.  We are all in this together.  I still stand by what I taught my daughter, we are all family. One family.  One race.  The human race.  (Or as I really see it, spiritual beings dressed in human costumes, learning a whole lot about what it means to be human.  But that’s for another blog).

With humanity, umanità


Your Intentional (Human costume wearing) Co-Creator

PR expert and author of Feeling Loved, A Ted E. Bear Story

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Day 7: Expectations and Do-Overs

I am so tired I am using my hand to hold up my head as I write this.  But a promise is a promise so I am writing.  It may suck today but then again it may be the most insightful writing ever.  That’s the thing, you never really know what’s going to happen.  Never.

Take my pregnancy for instance.  I had dreamed about getting married and having a baby since I could remember.  When I was around children I just lit up.  Their innocence, cuteness, wonderment, laughter.  And my family just loved children, so it was either hereditary or contagious.

In any case, I didn’t get pregnant until I was 37, the first year of my marriage, and boy was I excited.  When that little stick turned pink or blue or had a positive sign, whatever it was, so long ago that I cannot recall, I was thrilled.  I couldn’t WAIT to tell someone.  So, I looked at my little red poodle and said, “PepAroni, we’re pregnant!”  He was thrilled.  (I named him PepAroni after his Italian cousin MacAroni, from a storybook I published long ago.)

11080905_10205782685742808_3897439349251435442_nAnyhow, I had to wait the whole day until my husband “A” came home.  It’s appropriate that he’s A because that’s the initial of it first name and he was my first husband.  I haven’t met B yet.  Although I did have a B relationship just after so maybe I’m waiting for C.  Where I am going with this? Okay, back to story.  Surprise husband with baby news!

I went out to the local Walmart to find a baby gift to wrap up and use as a surprise to hand to him when he came home from work.  I picked out little white baby booties, so adorable.  The other reason I wanted children, to buy those incredibly cute little clothes.  (One of the worst reasons to become a parent, but whatever).

I went home, wrapped it up and put together a picnic. When he came home I told him I wanted to take a walk to our local park in Bowie, Maryland, called Allan Pond.  It was in short walking distance from our little house.  So, I put Pep on a leash, handed A the food goodies and we walked hand in hand to the park.  We laid out a blanket and the food, with my heart pumping a mile a minute . I had waited 37 years for this moment!

10340180_10203473361771152_5821175779155680986_nWe sat down  and I pulled out all the food containers.  Then I said, “Before we eat I have something to give you.”  I  took the little package from my coat pocket and handed it over, trying to hide the smile that wanted to burst from my face.  He slowly opened the package (it always seems slow when you want someone to rip it open!).  As he pulled out the little white baby booties, I yelled, “We’re pregnant.”

And he replied, “I know,” in a flat, matter of face voice. Cue sound of balloon bursting.  I was completely deflated and disappointment was written all over my face.  Now, you should know A was a very cerebral person, he didn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve.  Well, let me clarify, when he wanted to court me he was very expressive.

When he was newly in love with me he expressed his love and compassion and kindness very openly.  We would read, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” together.  We would talk about hopes and dreams and our feelings for one another.  But generally, he was very cerebral.  This was totally NOT the time to be cerebral.

Thankfully, I had recently finished re reading the book, “A Return to Love,” by Marianne Williamson.  (Highly recommend this book!).  In one part of the book Marianne recounts a time when her boyfriend tells her something  and her response was something she didn’t like.  So she says, “I want a do over.”  He tells her that thing again and then she responds in a more powerful way.

Return to loveSo, I say to A, ” THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO SAY.”  About that loud and it probably echoed around the pond and woke up half the men in the neighborhood who thought their wives were saying that exact thing.  “Aren’t you happy?  Aren’t you excited?” I ask.  “Yes,” he replies.  “Then act it!” I demand.

I should explain,  he does not always know how to act appropriately in social situations, he can be awkward or shy or blurt out things that make people uncomfortable.  Definitely an introvert who tries his best to have conversations and connections when he’s not always skilled.


So, I say, let’s have a do-over.  I’m going to tell you I’m pregnant and you’re going to get really excited, give me a big hug and a kiss and we’re going to celebrate. ” I re-wrapped the gift and handed it to him once again.  He unwrapped it and I exclaimed, “I’m pregnant!”  and he smiles and says, “Oh my god, that’s wonderful, I’m so excited,” and he puts his arms around me and gives me a big hug and a kiss.  And I’m happy.  It actually worked to have a do over.  And we went on to have a nice picnic by the lake and imagine all the wonderful things that becoming a parent would entail.  We dreamed and talked and laughed and PepAroni begged for food, a perfect picnic.

This could have been a disaster.  I could have been totally disappointed.  I could have started a fight.  I could have made him feel like a piece of crud.  I could have sulked and told the entire world what a terrible human being he was.  But that didn’t happen.  I chose to be honest, ask for a do over and give clear expectations or guidance for a person who simply sometimes, without malice or ill intentions, didn’t have a clue as to how hurtful and disappointing “take one” would be.

Expectations can really be the death of a relationships, especially if you never share what yours are.  We all grow up with expectations of how friendships, jobs, children, and even life is supposed to be.  And we cannot control how things turn out.  But we can share expectations with those in a relationship who care about the relationship and want to participate fully.  And they have every right to say, “yea, no I’m not going to do that, but this instead would be okay.”

It’s not about control or manipulation, it’s about understanding the hidden expectations you have and cluing in your partner about them. Some people expect their marriage to be like their parent’s relationship.   One example is: Person A, as a child, got up every morning and the mom cooked breakfast for everyone.  So when Person A gets married he/she expects the partner to do the same, cook for everyone.  But Person B grew up in a family where everyone made their own breakfast, so he/she thinks that’s what’s going to happen every morning. Can you imagine the first morning together? (In a world where people never slept over before marriage.  You know, that world.)

10334365_10203326143770794_8084650246484597035_nPerson A, let’s call him Dan, goes downstairs, sits at the dining room table and waits for Person B, let’s call them Pat, to come downstairs and prepare eggs and bacon.  Pat comes downstairs, walks into the kitchen and starts making their own meal, cereal and toast.  Dan is watching in disbelief.  He thinks, “You don’t even notice that I’m here waiting for you.  You’re only thinking of yourself.  You don’t even care about me!”  And maybe even says one of these wonderfully connected thoughts aloud.  Or he holds it in all day feeling resentful.  His expectation has not been met, and he can choose to share that or not.

Scenario 1:  Dan says, “Aren’t you going to make breakfast for me?”  Pat says, “What, can’t you make it for yourself?  Are your arms broken or something?”  (Pat is clearly enlightened). Scenario 2:  Dan realizes Pat is not going to make his breakfast so he gets the cereal out and pours his own.  That night he tells Pat he realizes he had an expectation their marriage would be like his parents and they discuss how to deal with these expectations.  In the most open dialogue they would share each expectation and come up with a plan how to deal with meals in the future.

But, most of the time we aren’t conscious of our own expectations nor do we share them, in advance or after the event.  So, a do over is a great method, as is talking about expectations prior to events.   What is your expectation of a best friend, a boss, your child.  Get clear in your own mind.  And see what stories you may come up with about that expectation.  One I found for myself was, if they didn’t do X, they must not love me or care for me.  That could not be further from the truth.

I once had the courage to convey an expectation to a good friend and shared it in this way.  I said, “I realize that it’s really important to me to have friends who call me and check in with me, how was your day today, kind of thing.”  She told me how she doesn’t need that at all, but she heard me and said she would try to do that more often.  So I changed my expectation about her.  I understood that was not her style, not her strong suit.


My JMU friends, some of whom I talk to every week, some a few times a year, and some I see every 20 years at a reunion. All good!

As I looked at my friendships in general I could see that some people were the, “I always be there in the tough times” kinda friend.  Others were the “let’s hang out from time to time.”  Some were , “I can talk you through stuff but I’m just too busy to spend time with anyone but my immediate family.”  None of them had to do with how much they care about me, or how caring of a person they are, but it about what works for them in terms of friendships.

So, check in with yourself.  What are your expectations?  When people aren’t meeting them, and they seem really reasonable, have you shared them?  If you expectation is that you expect people to read your mind and know what you need and appropriately respond or know before you do and do the exact thing you need, you might want to reconsider the expectation.  Be realistic. Don’t expect an introvert (husband A) to be an extrovert.  But you can offer tools and ways to keep a connection that means something to you.  Or you may find this person just cannot or will not even try to meet your expectations.

And, more deeply.  What are the expectations you hold of yourself?  To be a perfect partner, parent, worker?  I definitely held expectations of never making mistakes and would really beat myself up if I missed something at work, or said the “wrong” thing to my loved one, or lost my temper with my child.  Then, I started being a little kinder to myself and allowed myself “mistakes.”  I would apologize and take responsibility but I wouldn’t beat myself up.

Ok, so you see my expectation when I began writing was that this blog would probably suck.  WRONG.  At least I think so.  I expect you to fully love it and write me a long love letter in response.  Hmmm…maybe I need to look at that expectation.

With great expectations,  grandi aspettative

Barbara Your Intentional (expectant) Co-Creator

PR expert and author of Feeling Loved, A Ted E. Bear Story

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Day 6: Challenging Days and Icebergs

OK, so you know I made a promise to myself to write every day, and I have.  Just not on my blog every day so it’s currently day 6 of my blog and day 12 since my pledge!  That’s $240 closer to Italy, whoo hoo!

Yesterday was quite the day.  I volunteered for a non-profit organization called Challenge Day that goes into schools and helps 7-12 graders (or teachers/businesses, organizations) to connect, stop bullying, racism, etc.  I met the most amazing, compassionate, open young people.  But they didn’t appear that way when we first met.

CD be the changeAs they entered the room, we adults made a tunnel, cheering them on, as if they were stars or famous.  Just darn glad to see them!  Many of these 7th graders have the expressions  adults and parents have come to know and love as, “What the hell are you doing and why the hell are you embarrassing me?” (Yes, today’s young people cuss).  Some gave a bashful smile or a returned a high-five and yet other children just soaked it up with huge smiles like, “Finally, my fans have arrived!”  Isn’t  that interesting?

If you walked into a room and a group of people cheered you on, high fived you, patted you on the back, yelled and whooped it up, how would you respond?  Which group would you be in?

Backing up:  Remember I mentioned that I was at a primary party in Annapolis, watching the vote count for our city election?  And if you didn’t, here’s a recap because if your memory is anything like mine, you can hear a story more than once and only remember at the very, very end that you’ve heard it before. (Oh yea, I remember that story, book, movie, person…)

Anyhow, we party gatherers were supporting Gavin Buckley for Mayor, who is a businessman who has provided jobs, renovated a rundown part of Annapolis and turned it into a thriving restaurant and arts area, and has a big dedication to the under served and our youth.  (Remember) I met Gavin when he showed up to help us deliver air conditioning units in one of our public housing developments during the summer (with no fan fair, publicity seeking or bravado. He just lugged the units, helped the volunteers and greeted the residents).

Gavin groupSo, towards the end of the Gavin’s celebration party (he won the primary!), I went up to congratulate him.  I told him how inspired I was by what he was doing for our town and especially young people.  At one of his speaking engagements I heard him speak about wanting the young people of Annapolis to be able to stay and work in the community after they grow up/graduate, to be able to raise their families here.  Often it is just too expensive for many people to live here.  We’re known for having two Annapolis’s, one with great wealth and another without it.

I told him I was volunteering for a youth anti-bullying, anti-racism and self-esteem program called Challenge Day that was coming to a nearby county school system.  I told him that I’m hoping to bring this program to our area schools, to combat the racism, bullying and division we are seeing.  (And gangs, we have four missing Hispanic boys at the moment which breaks my heart.)  And I asked him, “Do you have someone on your team who might like to join me?”  His response, “I do.  I want to go!”  I have worked with a lot of political leaders, activists and famous folks and rarely do I get that response, for personal, hand-on involvement.  I was shocked, impressed and so happy.

Therefore, Gavin was with me at Challenge Day, along with one of his buddies, political strategist and restaurateurs Brian Callahan, who among other things owns 49 West a coffee-house, food, music, art hangout in Annapolis and home to many.  We ended up carpooling because some idiot drove over a median on the way to the coffee house to meet them. (Me).  Actually, it’s more the idiot who built it, apparently this is a common problem.  Note to the owners of the buildings near Starbucks on West St: Paint the dang median; make it higher, or put trees on it.  Because idiots like me can’t see it in the dark at 6:00 a.m.  Probably because most of them haven’t had their coffee yet. (Or form of caffeine because you know I don’t drink coffee, and if you don’t go back to Day One of this blog!)

Ok, so Challenge Day starts with a lot of high energy activities and ways to connect on a small level.  Then we are put into “family units”: one volunteer adult to 4-5 youth, in my case four 7th graders.  My circle looks something like this: one girl arms crossed, “I don’t even know what we’re doing here.” Scowl.  Another boy, looking anywhere but at the three girls in our group.  Another bright eyed and bushy tailed waiting to talk.  And another young lady looking in wonderment at me.  (And if one of you is reading this, I may or may not be making this up! And spoiler alert:  I do not reveal your personal issues or identities.)

“So, what are we going to do?” one cutie pie says.  “I really don’t know,” I reply.  Shock and awe.  How often does an adult actually admit that?  Oh no, if YOU don’t know we are really screwed says the thought bubble.  I add, “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.  It is Challenge Day so I guess it’s a challenge.”

CD kids 1After exercises and activities and a few hours one of the facilitators introduces the concept of the Iceberg.  That 10 percent of the iceberg is above water, it’s all that you see. But, 90 percent is below the water line, what you don’t see.  And that’s how we are, we only see about 10 percent of others, what they wear, their facial expression, what groups they belong to, etc.  And maybe that’s all we show or share….

They asked the kids, what’s the 90 percent below the water line?  Kids knew.  They said, “Depression, drugs, loneliness, insecurity, abuse, neglect, family problems, etc., etc.”  And some positives, “Talents, confidence, interests in books, shyness …”  The leader then told a very personal story about her upbringing, successes, challenges, losses, self judgments, racism, and victories. She bravely shared a story of the death of a loved one by suicide. As I looked around many of the children’s eyes were tearing up.  They were touched.  (The hard shell is beginning to crack and open!) Or, the water line is lowering….

So, then came the first big “challenge” of Challenge Day. Go back to your family unit and in two minutes, lower the water line of your ice berg, share some of what people don’t see or know.  Say these words and complete this sentence, “If you really knew me you’d know …”

Challenge Day leaders always ask for volunteer participation, one of the things I respected most about Challenge Cay — honoring children where they are, letting them choose their own level of comfort and participation.  It’s rare we empower young people that way.  It was SOOO wonderful to see.  They asked who would be courageous enough, in each family unit, to begin the exercise with the “if you really knew me…”  None of my kids raised their hands, so that meant the adult, (me, I’m the adult?), goes first.  Each person has exactly 2 minutes to use however they wish, in silence or speaking. No judgement. No pressure. (Again, great guidance.)

CD parentsFollowing the lead of the leader, I was honest and deep and real.  I said, “If you really knew me, you’d know that my daughter is gay and I love her with all my heart.  That when my daughter went to college, I had to bring her home because she was suicidal, due to rape.   That every time she leaves the house and comes home late I worry something has happened to her.  That I love this girl so much and want her to have love and happiness and she has worked very hard to heal and I’m very proud of her.”  By this time my tears are freely flowing.

As I finally have the courage to look up into my young people eyes, I see they are tearing up and openly crying too.  They care.  They are sensitive.  I am really touched and we connect more deeply than we had.   I continue with, “If you really knew me, you’d know that every day I wake up in pain because of surgeries I had due to a very serious illness.  If you knew me you’d know I push through that and I give to my community and I care about others and even though I make mistakes as a mom, I love my daughter with all my heart.” (My daughter has publicly shared all the above and given me permission to share I am not outing her).

And it was their turn, which I won’t share because it is confidential.  Suffice it to say each of these amazing young people have great challenges in their life.  I can say, they and many others, noted that they had no idea their friends were going through things like this.   All of these things made them cry. And it was a safe place to do so.  After every share, each young person hugged the other.  They also hugged me after my share.  Even the young man reached out to each of us which made me so grateful.  He showed all kinds of courage to share his feelings, because as we know, boys are not “supposed to” cry or show their feelings.  Echoes of the destructive messaging of our ancestors, but hopefully not future parents and society.

CD kids 3As soon as they exercise was completed, the young people searched the room for their friends.  From around the room, sharing and comfort about illness, abuse, death, racism, loneliness, etc…. The first thing I saw and heard was a young lady embracing another and saying, “I’m SO sorry.”  For what, I don’t know.  Was it judgment, racism, coldness, disconnection, a rift in the friendship, or simply not knowing what was below the waterline?  I saw a deeper connection between so many young people, so much compassion, so much empathy.  It was beautiful and gave me such hope for the future of this school and each of these students.

I challenge you to go below the waterline.  But don’t hit someone with it right away.  It takes a little time to set the tone, to create a sense of safety and confidentiality.  You could share this story and see how they react to the concept.  There is no question to me that it connects people to one another, it enables more compassion and begins to tear down the walls of racism, sexism and all the other isms that make us separate from one another.

There were some other really great insights I gained and I’ll share with you at a later date.  Crossing the line. Really powerful (is that enough of a cliffhanger to make you check out my blog later?)

Part of the result of the day, for me anyway, is an emotional exhaustion that inhabits your whole body.  I was so incredibly tired that night and even the next day (is that today?   Yesterday?  I think so! Geez).  So apparently it also wipes out your short term memory.

If I really knew you, what would I know?  Feel free to share with me in the comments, on my Facebook or privately through email.  I’d love to connect and see who you really are.  I think that’s one of the greatest challenges of being human, showing who you are, which may begin with remembering who you are.  Human amnesia, remember?

With gratitude (con gratitudine),

Barbara, Your Intentional (Iceberg explorer) Co-Creator

PR expert and author of Feeling Loved, A Ted E. Bear Story

P.S. I recommend you bring Challenge Day to your community, for your young people and our future.

P.P.S. I wrote from 9-10:24, does that count as 1.5 days?

P.P.P.S I am so freakin’ tired I am going to take a nap.  Is 10:30 am too early to take a nap?  Answer: Hell no. Take care of yourself.  (That’s what Aunt Kitty told me just this morning, You take care of you.)

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Day Five: Sit Com Characters and Stage Fright

How would your life be different if you were just a little like your favorite sit com personality?  If you could be any sit com character, who would it be?  First character who comes to mind, write it down.  That’s me, above, with my “serious librarian” expression. For some reason men seem to really like this picture.  Who knew? Probably because they love reading. I prefer the really funny “characters.”

I want you to know I am writing this even though I am in a world of pain (tore something in my back, thank you).  This just goes to show you can do something if you really put your mind, and in this case, body into it. I’m generally a “push through it” kinda person (which I don’t necessarily recommend),. But, when you do something you love, you don’t feel the pain as much or even not at all.  You can focus on something other than the pain!  Above all, listen to that precious body of yours.

So, after resting my injured back, I did what would be fun, distracting and uplifting.  I transformed myself into “Aunt Kitty: Your Un-intentional Life Coach,” answered Dear Aunt Kitty questions and made YouTube videos.  Kinda like Dear Abby meets Dr. Phil.  SO MUCH FUN.  Links will take you to some clips.  (Feel free to send me a question for Aunt Kitty.)  You’d be amazed at the wisdom that comes out of this funny lady).

Aunt Kitty pic

Meet Aunt Kitty, The Un-intentional Life Coach (where Dear Abby meets Dr. Phil)

See here, I got Aunt Kitty all dressed up for her video debut.  Aunt Kitty likes a “splash of color.” I dressed her up in a neon green top, multi flowered colored pants (which don’t even show, but I know they’re on, you’re welcome), a multi colored scarf tied up in her hair, a very bright peach lipstick and some colorful reading glasses.  Aunt Kitty lives!  I love an acting opportunity, especially when it allows me to become an eccentric character.  Kitty is teaching me how it feels to say it like it is, be forthright, unafraid yet loving all the while.  She’s a hoot!  And very smart.  (She must have been listening at all those self help seminars I attended!)  Another opportunity at acting!

I’ve been doing theater, acting, since I was in 6th grade.  Ice skating for Hans Christian Anderson was my debut, not much talking, but don’t underestimate how hard it is to ice skate on Reston Elementary School flooring.  I had been dreaming about being on the stage since I was a wee tot. (Hello Scotland!)

Anyhow, my next foray into theater was teaming up with my pal Lori Durso and writing our own version of The Wizard of Oz.  She played the Lion and I played Dorothy.  How I wish we had personal video cameras back then, I would love to see us now. Although, maybe my imagination is better.

My favorite scene was when I, as Dorothy, is running around the stage as the twister started to blow, yelling, “Auntie Em, Uncle Henry.”  With our big time budget, we had fashioned a window out of construction paper, got a fan, and used baby powder for the visual of the tornado.  So, as I ran by, my back stage friends started the fan, then threw the paper window and baby powder in my general direction.  The result:  The window flew back and forth and gently glided to the floor.  Seeing it on the ground I had to think quickly.  So, I pretended to fall, and did my best trip and fall impression.  And the baby powder landed on my head.  Very realistic as you can tell. But, I hit the wooden stage so hard my director jumped out of her seat and gasped, thinking I was really hurt.  Anything for acting!

Lily as Mouse Alice in Wonderland age 6

My next great stage adventure was playing the mouse in Alice in Wonderland, which my daughter would do years later and make me laugh as she did her knock, knock jokes. “Who’s there?  Banana .(Banana who?). Who’s there? Banana (Banana who?)  Who’s there.  Orange.  Orange who? Orange ya glad I didn’t say Banana.” Of course our own children are always brilliant on stage.

Then onto middle school where “impromptu acting” was required. My first play in 7th grade was, Any Body for Tea, a mystery.  Several old ladies discover that a handsome man lives right across the street, and he’s a detective.  So, one by one the elderly gals poison their roommates to force an investigation, a home visit, from the handsome detective.

Opening night one of my co-stars had such stage fright that when she hit the stage she opened her mouth to speak and nothing came out.  She completely lost her voice.  It was shocking.  So, I jumped in and said her first line.  And her second, and her third…. I ended up taking all her lines and would, on the fly.  The hardest part was turning the dialogues between she and I into monologues, but I did it, saying things like, “I’m sure you would say” or “I know you’re thinking…”  Acting is a team sport. My director was so proud of me.  Thank god I had a good memory (back then).

But, that is what I love about theatre, it is never the same show and you NEVER know what is going to happen, including having a fellow actress go instantaneously mute due to stage fright.  (For those wishing to give it acting, this malady is very uncommon.  Go for it!  Generally it’s really scary right before and during your first line and after that it’s a blast).  Having someone drop a line is pretty common and you cover for one another, but totally losing your voice, now that is an experience even a memory challenged old person like myself will never forget. Talk about adrenaline.  Join an improve group, that’s so much fun.


the Gangster Mol

So whether I’m onstage, performing live in a theater, in my living room, a video or on tv show (and now on YouTube) I love the art of acting.  Honestly, I feel more at home on stage or in front of a camera than anywhere else.  I enjoy working with my fellow actors, collaborating, laughing, and crying and getting to know a new character or reconnect with a favorite one. Whenever I watch a really good play I find myself crying at the end when the actors come on stage and take their bows. (Hmm, hint from the universe?)  Do what you love!

OK, remember at the top I asked you who is your favorite sit com character?  (I eventually get back to my point. Well, usually. If I can remember what it was.  What was it, oh yes…)

When you think about that character you most love or who came to mind, what is he or she like?  Shy, bold, brassy, eccentric, funny, what?  How are you like that person or not like that person?  Write down their characteristics and compare to you and who you’d love to be, or fall in love with.  You may find there is an inner Kramer, Phoebe, Shelton, “Just Jack”, Wil or Grace just dying to get out!   I encourage you to find an outlet to explore this inner character, maybe meet your alter ego.  My secret wish, top of my bucket list is to do a great sit com with amazing actors, as long as I can be just as amazing.  So, find your niche, play, have fun, do your thang!


Me in The Foreigner

Taking on a character, I just love it.   I get to meet me in difference incarnations. For instance, when I played the witch in Bell, Book and Candle I got to be un-apologetically eccentric.  Or Betty, in The Foreigner (above), I’m the sweet, simple, little old lady who is stage struck by the foreigner who comes to visit, feeling like her forgotten dreams of traveling the world have come true. She finds meaning once again and stands up to neighbors (in white robes) who judge him due to his foreign roots.  Maybe be particularly releveant right now.  It’s also one of the funniest and most meaningful plays ever, go see it if you can. Or audition!

Then there’s Georgianne, from Five Women Wearing the Same Dress.  She is pining over her high school crush and admits to a one night drunken hook up with him in her adulthood.  She says one of my favorite all time lines, “We did it.  Right behind the dumpster. It was incredible. I will never, ever smell garbage again without thinking of him.”

So whether it’s through a play or an improvisation opportunity, writing a letter from the position of your alter ego (to yourself), or making a YouTube video, let your inner character come out!  It’s so freeing and really fun.  Or just explore the personality of your favorite character and see if you’d be willing to let a little of that into your life.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll crack yourself up.

Theatrically Yours,

Barbara, the character actress

Your Intentional (attrice caratterista) Life Coach

PR expert and author of Feeling Loved, A Ted E. Bear Story


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Day Four: Opportunity, High Heals and Stillness

What do you do when you want to make changes but you don’t know the right path?  What’s better:  action or stillness?

So, things are moving along, at a wonderfully rapid pace for me right now.  I’m seeing all kinds of opportunities coming my way.

First, I send out a notice to my spiritual/metaphysical/meditation group of several hundred people and tell them I’m going to start a group coaching soon, asking who is interested.  And within a minute, I kid you not, I get a reply saying, “I’m interested.”  Wow, that was fast.  And a few others followed. A great affirmation that people want this and want it from me.  Cool.  (My psychic ESPN is my secret weapon in my coaching).

Falcon Rodney

Here’s Rodney Barnes’ Comic Book Debut. 

Then, a friend, Bumper Moyer, calls for some advice on publicity promotion for a friend he has coming into Annapolis in October.  Turns out this friend, Rodney Barnes is from our town of Annapolis and has made it big in Hollywood as a writer/producer (for Chris Rock among others)  Now he’s writing and creating comics and is doing some public events in Maryland to launch his new comic book  So, I give Bumper the PR 101 (something I really need to teach online because I know my shit on this!) This is pretty exciting to me because I love hanging out with funny people, writers and creative types.  And I have this secret wish to be up close and personal on a sit com some day … hanging with the writers (and writing?), sitting at a table read (or being a character reading at the table read!), or being one of the favorite funny characters on a hilarious sit com (the BIG dream.)   Or maybe just watching sit-coms on TV, which I also love!

second pickup acThen, a friend calls who is wanted to get rid of some furniture and wants to know if I know someone in the community I recently helped.  Background, I had recently responded to a neighborhood Facebook post on the need for air conditioning units in public housing where low-income residents live, the disabled, working poor, single moms, vets, etc.   Long story short, I went to DaJuan Gay’s home (the amazing young person who posted on our FB page to call this abomination to our attention), we made up a video, and launched a crowd raising effort. In one day we raised $4,000, in three raised $12,000 and delivered 80 air conditioning units to families in need, during this 100 degree heat wave.   This blew my mind, after 30 years without AC in many of these homes.  It amazes me what can be done when the right people come together with purpose, passion and experience.



This effort introduced me to some of the best people in my community, the generous humanitarians and the hard-working lower-income folks who deserve to live in a livable home.  Wonderful collaboration!  So, because of this, I knew just the family who needed living room furniture — a single mom of 5 kids who was moving into a home that day.  So, she got a living room set, with a pull out bed so she would actually have a bed on which to sleep.  (Like a good mom, had beds for all her kids, first, but not for her yet.)


Gavin Buckley, helping with the A/C Campaign, one reason I’m hoping he’ll be the next Mayor of Annapolis.  He really cares about people and takes action!


Also, I went to a primary election night party in Annapolis at Metropolitan Kitchen (delish!)  At the end of the night, I had a chance to talk to Gavin Buckley, who I think will be our next mayor, and told him how excited I was about his dedication to youth in our community.  I told him I was going to an event called “Challenge Day” that is an anti-bullying, self-esteem building program.  I asked if he had someone on his team that might like to go.  He said, “I would!”  He’s a hands-on kinda guy! I know if the right people participate (remember, purpose, passion and experience) we can bring this program to our community and make a huge difference for our young people.

Backing up just a tad … because I was going to a party I put on my best “have fun and look good doing it” wardrobe.  That included a black fringe top, jeans, a funky black and white jacket and black high heels.  It was all good until the high heels.  What was I thinking?  I really don’t wear high heels anymore; I dress like an old lady. Comfort, comfort, comfort.

So, then, in my list of so many things happening I woke up with a huge pain in my lower back.  So, I went to my trusted chiropractor and he did his thing, although my muscles were so in spasm and tight, I knew it would take more than one visit to take care of this high heel wearing fool.  So I took a hot bath that night and woke up and was SORE.  The next day, I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I had to call my daughter in the next room to bring me a heating pad.  Ridiculous.  I sure hope I looked good in my heels because I was paying the price big time!

So all these great opportunities and now I am grounded.  Like really.  Enough that I am dreading when I have to pee, knowing it will be a painful enterprise.  The getting up part, not the peeing part.  I did not have that much fun at the party!

purple carrott

Delicious by the way!


I had just bought a “complete meal” home package delivery by Purple Carrot (vegan, my new healthy eating habit, that I didn’t plan and was just happening naturally … thank you GOD! And yummy, it turns out.)  So I had three meals waiting to be made.  But I can’t get out of bed. I post my dilemma on Facebook, kinda in jest but also praying for a kind soul, and say, who wants to cook today?  And one of the amazing community members I recently met actually offers to come over and cook.  Wait, what?  You mean that still happens.  Am I living in Mitford? (I always wanted to, where everyone helps everyone, knows everyone and even the quirky folks are adored and everyone finds their right partner…ah!)  Anyhow, that was AMAZING.  Yes.  And Annapolis turns out to have a little Mitford in its soul.  Loving it!

Now you’d have to know me better to know that me even posting that “ask” is a stretch.  Asking for help like that on Facebook.  So afraid for rejection, ridicule or an ill-intentioned single man asking to help. Of course if he was wicked handsome and funny I might take the offer.  Ends up a close friend came over instead and not only did I get a great meal, but wonderful company.  And I could actually sit and not move and hurt myself more, which tended to happen … as I bent over to pick up a dog dish (ouch), open a window (eek), sit on the couch or get off the couch (really?), or do anything besides breathing.  What a relief to be able to just sit and heal.  And don’t you just love good company when you’re hurting (unless you haven’t had a shower and you look scary).

So, this sitting thing was also really good for my mind.  Because after a while, when I was alone, my mind was so quiet.  I knew I couldn’t do much, so my mind didn’t think of a thousand things “to do”.  The quiet body led to a quiet mind.  Nice.

And it was clear to me that I didn’t have to figure out which of these great opportunities I most wanted to happen.  I wasn’t attached to the outcome.  Wait, what?  I was aware that I had no idea how it would turn out and I was okay with that.  I may or may not coach.  I may or may not “play” on a sitcom.  I may or may not get more involved with anti-bullying efforts.  I may or may not help on the mayor’s race, or offer my PR services to my city or elsewhere.  I may or may not pick up my dog’s food bowl. Well, probably that.

So, being waylaid can be great.  And having lots of choices can be freeing versus stressful.  It’s only stressful when you think you HAVE to DO something about the opportunities, make a decision right NOW, or are afraid you won’t do one of them well.  That inner voice chatter that is so quick to judge and criticize is a dream killer.  The quiet mind is friendly and comforting.  Kind of like the friend who comes over to cook for you, let’s you sit, feeds you and talks about lovely things that you enjoy talking about.  For me, on this day, it is spirituality and contribution to the world.

So, all in all a busy, fun, freeing, hurting, amazing, week.  How was your week?

Another day closer to Italy!

Feeling blessed, Sentirsi benedetto


Your intentional (heal wearing/back hurting/activist) co-creator

PR expert and author of Feeling Loved, A Ted E. Bear Story

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