Archive for the ‘making a difference’ Category

Help Prevent School Bullying on October 8 (and Have Fun Too!)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Bullying is one of the worst and most relevant things children today must deal with. It is something that we as a society need to tackle, and it will not go away unless we all work together to help educate our children. If you have always wondered how you can help, or what you can do or say to eliminate it, here is your chance.

On October 8 from 4-7 p.m. come on down to Rock for Challenge Day at The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach for some great music (by Temple of the Dad) for a great cause. All proceeds will go towards Challenge Day at Aviara Oaks Middle School, which is an award-winning program for teens to combat bullying. Challenge Day is coming to a Carlsbad School for the first time on November 7. Over 100 children and 35 adults experience this amazing workshop, to help stomp out bullying and teasing on school campuses.

If you have not read one of my previous blogs about Challenge Day and do not know about it, you can go to MTV’s website and watch an episode of “If You Really Knew Me.” http://www.mtv.com/shows/if_you_really_knew_me/series.jhtml This show is a reality show that highlights the Challenge Day program at campuses across the nation. You can pick any episode, but make sure to have tissues handy. Share it with your teens too. Challenge Day is the most real, raw, intense and inspirational wake up call to kids. NO ONE IS UNAFFECTED by this program.

Our biggest dream is that Challenge Day can one day be on every high school and middle school campus, but we need your help. It is not free, and there are few people who are trained to run the program, so there is a waiting list. Here is your opportunity to really make a difference in preventing bullying, and all you have to do is come to the Belly Up and enjoy some great music with friends, have a drink, and relax.

To find out more about Rock for Challenge Day on October 8, Challenge Day itself, and to order your tickets, please visit http://www.villatortuga.net/ChallengeDay/ChallengeDayBenefit.html. Tickets are only $15, and will be $20 at the door. The Belly Up Tavern is a 21 and over venue.

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Change for the Better

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Change. It is a powerful word that conjures up a plethora of emotions, from excitement to fear. The very idea of change can make you panic or it can energize you, but you shouldn’t let your response to change prevent you from making it, as you could end up missing out on some fantastic opportunities. The fact is that the world is moving so fast, and change is always inevitable – but happiness should be your main goal.

Obstacles. It is human nature to accept patterns and situations in life, and oftentimes that means putting up with things we don’t love (or even like), for fear of the unknown. Countless people go to jobs every day that they don’t enjoy. They may dream of opening a bed and breakfast, selling homemade blankets or granola bars, starting an organization to help latch-key kids have something to do after school. The reason they don’t act on their passion is because they are afraid of the unknown: what if I don’t make money for a long time? How will I finance my dream? Where do I start? How do I get my product approved by the FDA?

Baby steps. The answer to all the fear is to make a plan and then DO IT! The founders of some of the biggest companies started from their homes and garages and kitchens. They didn’t know they would end up building multi-million dollar companies, but set out doing what they were passionate about and stuck with that. Because they loved their work, good fortune came from it. I am not saying you should quit your job today and go home and start baking your famous brownies, but you need to start with generating a business plan.

Business plan. If you don’t know how to create a business plan there are websites you can visit and books you can buy to help you do so. Talk to other people in similar businesses and see what types of equipment they use, who they go to for materials. Get out there and do some research. Then, when you have compiled that and have a list of sources, create a plan and figure out what you need to start up. Do you need a patent? Trademark? What is the minimum amount of money you will need to start up? Do you have enough savings, or need a loan, or an investor? Do you need to go back to school? Speak with your accountant and figure out how you want to form your business (Corporation, LLC, partnership, etc. Each has different benefits). You can have a legal site like LegalZoom.com draft up your documents, and you can register your ficticious business name with your county.

Start now. Make time to take the steps you need to start working on your passion. It may take months, or even years, to get off the ground and get to the point where you can leave your job and start to build your passion, but you will feel good knowing that you are working toward that goal.

The most important advice to remember is to not be afraid of change…instead, embrace it!

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Lessons Learned from Bin Laden’s Death

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

As I watched the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death unfold last night I had, as did many others, mixed emotions. I was happy that a man who had such an evil mind, a man who killed people like they were no more than ants, will no longer be around to spread his toxic hatred. But at the same time, I did not feel the urge to celebrate, as I know that his death is not the end of terrorism or hatred.

As I always try to do, I wanted to look for the good in this situation, and see how I can apply it to life in general, maybe even take something positive from it. In thinking about it I realized that the most important consequence of an event like this is that it reminds every American that we all have to stand together.

Do you remember what it felt like in the weeks after the twin towers fell? I do, and I will never forget that. People everywhere were kinder, nicer, more respectful. There was just a feeling of connectedness that I can’t explain. It was as if people stopped and realized that we were all joined in some way, that even though you may not have known someone who perished that day we are all Americans, and we are part of that which is so much bigger than just ourselves.

It is my hope that despite the horror of terrorism and natural disasters, death and destruction, and even mean people, we can all learn to respect each other just a little bit more, to be more kind. It is so easy to get caught up in our own busy lives, to watch the news and see things happening in other places and feel a moment of sadness before thanking our god that we and our loved ones are not suffering.

I hope that from this we can all remember what it felt like in the days and weeks after 9/11, that we are all vulnerable, and that we have to stick together. Out of every tragedy comes some good. Remember to smile and spread kindness and be a little more respectful, appreciate everyone and be thankful every day. This is actually a great lesson to teach our children, that from the bad comes something beautiful, and that Americans are strong because we all respect not only our freedom, but that of every other person.

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Oh So Many Number Ones in Real Estate

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Claiming to be number one in some fields is very prestigious–say if you are the number one tennis player or golfer, the number one company that donates to charity, the number one cancer research hospital. Being the best at a sport, discovering a cure…these things are all something to be proud of and are important to consider in marketing. But when it comes to businesses that provide a service, such as real estate, do we really want to hear that the service provider is “Number 1?”

The real estate industry has changed drastically in the last decade. The housing market crash, economic issues and the explosion of technology and social media have changed the way Realtors do their job. It has also changed the way potential customers feel about our industry. The home buyers and sellers have so much available today at their fingertips, and many feel that a Realtor is not necessary. Realtors need to change the way they run their businesses to make them more client-centric instead of agent-centric.

I read a great blog by Matthew Ferrara, a Realtor in the Boston area, comparing the real estate business to that of Starbucks. Starbucks has had to reinvent the way it does business as well, he says, because people just were not buying the “it’s all about the atmosphere and the feeling” anymore–when it comes down to it, they are still paying for a $4 cup of coffee. He says Realtors are the same–it’s not about the agent, it’s about what the agent can do for the client, and that has to be the focus.

When an agent advertises his services he needs to focus on the client: how would a potential client see that advertisement? I huge billboard with “I’m the number one Realtor in___” will not likely cause the person to want to pick up the phone and call you. The customer wants to feel that s/he will be well cared for, that you will hold their hands and guide them, answer their questions, provide valuable information and be there when they need you.

Recently I was at the movies with my husband. A Realtor in the area advertises on screen. Two middle-aged ladies behind me started to laugh when the advertisement came up proclaiming the agent was “Number 1.” One asked the other, “What makes him number one? How can he say that?” This was interesting to me, because it was an unsolicited response and it proved my point–do people really want to hear/see this? How valuable is it? Surely a customer wants to know their agent has experience, but realistically if you are “number 1” in sales can you truly provide the best service?

We can try to change the requirements for marketing in ways that do nothing more than espouse puffery, but the change has to come from the individual.

No matter what business you are in you should consider how you market yourself and your company. Look at things from a different perspective–what would YOU want to see and get when hiring a service provider? Then project that in your marketing. It’s really a grass roots approach, back to basics. People have choices when they choose a service provider, so tell them what you will do for them. You will probably be pleasantly surprised at the results.

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Feeling Down? Keep on Living

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

It is hard lately to not feel depressed. After what happened in Japan last week, with tens of thousands presumed dead and many homeless, with the now confirmed statement that there is a threat of death from radiation exposure to citizens, to the violence in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, and the ongoing problems in other parts of the middle east and our own economic problems here at home. There seems to be so much going on that it is hard to not feel sad. Many people question whether they should go on with their lives and have fun, do happy things, in the face of such sadness.

Moving forward and looking at things from different perspectives can help us all to recover. I know that my beautiful sister-in-law, my birth father, and many others who died too young would want me and my loved ones to carry on, to make a difference and help others. They are not here at all, and I am sure they would have given anything to live longer. In honoring their memory, and the many loved ones who have passed, I feel better and can move ahead.

I am talking with my children about all the problems that are occurring in this world right now, but I am also teaching them to go forward and live, to make each moment count. I teach them not to forget that others are suffering, and to give whatever they can to help those in need, to think of things they can do to ease the pain of others. It is a great discussion to have. We cannot be strong for others if we do not take care of ourselves. So find ways to give, to help, to make a difference. But don’t forget to live.

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Are We Going Backwards With Race & Religion?

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

[I want to warn you that what I am about to discuss is a sensitive subject, and I will do my best to present it in a way that hopefully will stir some dialogue. I welcome your feedback.]

There are times when I think this country has come so far in regards to racial and religious relations. Look at the Civil Rights Movement and what it did for slavery, at the horrors of the holocaust and what lessons we learned from that. We are lucky to live in a society where we are supposed to be able to be free to practice our own religions and be equal no matter our race or skin color.

But there are also times when I truly question whether we are really all equal and free. Look at the issue just this week that happened on a U.S. airline with praying Muslims–they were assumed to be terrorists. There are still country clubs in our very own nation that, while they may not state so in their membership documents, African-Americans or Jews or other races are simply not allowed. There are places in this country where discrimination still occurs. There are active chapters of hate groups.

This week something happened in my own community, in a school nonetheless, that again makes me question whether we have truly learned anything from the past. A middle school-aged child asked me why African-American kids in his school call each other the “N” word when addressing each other in a friendly manner. We got into a big discussion about Hip-Hop and Rap music and how many of the entertainers in this field also do so. Personally I think it is a terrible word, one that was born in times of slavery, one that conjures up inequality, one that formed the very pillars of that famous “I have a dream” speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr. I simply do not understand why this should be ok and I could not explain to the child why this occurs.

In speaking with a friend of mine who is a PhD candidate and has looked at this issue, I was told that it is a cultural phenomenon. Apparently there are very educated African-Americans who speak this way to their close friends, and they obviously choose to do so. He pointed out that when they say it the word has to end in “a” instead of in “er,” and that if you listen to the music you will hear this.

Needless to say in light of all this I still do not understand. More importantly, what effect does this have on younger generations? Are we not showing them a lack of respect and compassion should they hear these things? After all, children cannot truly process this dichotomy and will not be able to do so until they are adults and their frontal lobes have fully matured.

On the religious front, there are school-aged children who salute each other with the “Heil Hitler” salute and draw swastikas. This is an extreme sign of disrespect toward Jews and all those who perished in the Holocaust, but to most of these kids it is just “cool.” Aside from the fact that some of the above actions could be considered human rights violations, the immediate effect is that it desensitizes those who speak/do them and those who hear them or see them acted out.

The fact of the matter is that we all need to sit down with our children and discuss these things. We need to remember to confirm the compassion that we have instilled in and taught to our children. These behaviors are signs of disrespect and if we allow them to continue in our communities and our homes I am afraid we will all slip backwards. Let’s try and raise our children to believe that we are all truly equal, no matter the color of our skin, our religious practices or sexual identities.

Until we raise the next generation to believe this, we will never truly be equal.

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Holiday Toy and Food Drop Off Locations

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

During this crazy time of year I always like to remember that many people are not as fortunate as my family. It gives me the most pleasure to donate food to the needy and toys to children who might otherwise not have any. Here is a list of locations in San Diego county where you can drop off these items. Even if you only have a few dollars to spend it could make a big difference. I tried to make this list as inclusive as possible, but there are likely many drop off centers I missed. If you know of others please post in the comments. Many of these drop off centers only take drop offs through December 19 so act quickly! Have a wonderful holiday season!

Union Tribune Holiday Food Drive

Help raise over 1 million pounds of food for the San Diego food bank!!
Drop off any non-perishable food items at all VONS and STATER BROTHERS markets (they even have pre-packaged bags of food you can pay for, at various prices)
Visit http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/holiday-food-drive/ for more information. As of this posting 550,000 pounds of food had already been collected!

YMCA Toy Drop off locations:

YMCA Branch Locations:

East County Toy Drive Through December 19:

ANGEL TREE
Volunteers will accept donated toys at our
angel tree in the Parkway Plaza mall

AJ’s Kids Crane Donations:

GRACIE SAN DIEGO
7976 Engineer Rd
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 505-9917 or

IKEA San Diego
2149 Fenton Parkway
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 563-4532

Ultra Star La Costa Cinema
6941 El Camino Real
Carlsbad, CA 92009-4108
(760) 599-8221

Marine Toys for Tots Donations:

Go to online website to make a toy or monetary donation:
http://www.toysfortots.org/default.asp

The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina (drop off center)
1441 Quivira Road.

The Belly Up Tavern
143 S. Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach 92075

Coffee Donations for Troops Overseas:

Purchase at any area Starbucks

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What’s Happening in Carlsbad

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

With Fall starting this week there are some new things happening in Carlsbad that may interest you, so check them out and have fun!

Coastal Cleanup Day September 25: This Saturday you can show how much you love Carlsbad, enjoy the beautiful Fall weather and feel great about helping keep our city clean. It is the annual Coastal Cleanup day from 9:00 a.m. until noon at Tamarack Beach, and everyone is welcome. This even it always a big hit and it’s a great way to show your children the importance of community support. Bring your own buckets and work gloves. Last year over 174,000 pounds of trash were removed! Snacks will be provided. For more information visit http://www.carlsbadca.gov/about/news/Pages/coastal-cleanup.aspx

Firehouse Open House October 9: Drop on into any of the six city fire stations from 10:00-2:00 say hello!. Get to know your local fire fighters, take a tour of the station, get safety tips, check out the fire engines and equipment and enjoy the fun kids’ activities. It’s a great way for the entire family to thank the men and women who help keep our city safe, and have a great time in the process! For firehouse locations visit http://www.carlsbadca.gov/about/news/Pages/Fire-station-open-house-2010.aspx

City Parenting Program Starts September 28: The City of Carlsbad is offering a 10 week parenting program–called Parent Project– starting September 28. The program is geared toward parents who have children between 11 and 18 who are difficult to control, strong-willed or have listening issues. This award-winning program will take place on Tuesday nights from 6:00-9:00 p.m. and will be held at the Carlsbad Senior Center (799 Pine Avenue). The cost is $25 for a single parent or $35 per couple; active military parents are free. Contact 760-931-2167 for more information or to register.

There will also be a course offered in Spanish during the same time period at Jefferson Elementary School. Contact Jovita Barria, 760-434-9099, for more information or to sign up.

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Love or Hate: It’s Your Choice

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

This could be a controversial post but in light of the controversy that has surfaced from Glenn Beck’s Washington, D.C. rally (on the same day that Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech), I thought it an appropriate time to address the issue of racism and respect in this country.

I am angry that racism exists; I will always be angry that there are people in this world who hate. Hate is a powerful emotion that can destroy people and cause violence and destruction. It is an emotion that is not natural, one that does not take into consideration that one person is no different, no more special, no more human, than another. It defies the notion that we are all equal. How can someone believe he is more entitled than the person standing next to him?

I have tried to teach my children that hate is wrong, but in school there are children who make racist comments all the time. My kids have experienced this. What do you think these children will grow up thinking? Is it really considered “cool” to insult people based on race or religion or differences in appearance? I would think we have come too far as a nation to raise our children to disrespect others, don’t you? But it is happening in our neighborhoods, our schools, even our own homes! Part of growing up is questioning: if kids are taught something is wrong, yet they hear it and see it when they are around other kids, don’t you think that they will question it? Or at least consider why this thing they were taught is so “wrong” is no big deal to many others? What kind of a message does this send?

Have we as a nation not learned anything from the Nazis, from the fighting between the Israelis and Palestinians, from the troubles in Iran and Iraq, from the drug lords of Southn America and Mexico who murder innocent people on a whim for being in the wrong place, from the terrorists who blew up the twin towers and killed thousands of innocent people? What will it take to make people realize that we all need to respect each other, to honor differences even if we don’t agree, to get along? After all, isn’t that the point of a democracy?

I know this is a heavy topic for a blog post, and one that I am sure will generate a lot of commentary (even it if is not written), but come on everyone! To see change we need to be change! Kids need to be raised to respect each other. While everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, and those with power like Glenn Beck can draw hundreds of thousands out to listen to his views, we need to start in our own homes, in our own schools, churches and neighborhoods.

Thinking that your actions cannot make a difference is like pledging to accept hate, and saying it’s ok that these things occur. You don’t have to be a star, politician, talk show host or even have deep pockets to make a difference. Change often starts small. So stand up against hatred and small-mindedness. You CAN make a difference.

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