Meade Palidofsky is Goddess of the Week!

My Interview with Meade Palidofsky

By Tabby Biddle

“These are kids who have enjoyed risk-taking – the thrill of drugs, the thrill of being in a street gang. One of the things we are trying to teach them is that there are healthy ways to take risk. A lot of the kids are scared before they go on stage, and then it’s thrilling to hear other people applaud you, particularly for kids who have never really been applauded before. So you are trying to transfer the feeling of thrill into something that’s healthy.”

— Meade Palidofsky,
Artistic Director of Storycatchers Theatre

Meade Palidofsky, artistic director of Storycatchers Theatre

For more than 30 years, Meade Palidofsky has been helping young people find their voice and tell their stories through performance art. In 1990, she started working in prisons. She says that was a real turning point because she felt like she met the population that she was meant to work with. Since that time, she has helped hundreds of incarcerated youth heal from past traumas and pave the way for a brighter future. I learned about her incredible work through the powerful documentary, “Girls on the Wall.”

Tabby: I was so moved by your work when I saw Girls on the Wall. What inspires you to do this work?

Meade: I have always been interested in working with teens, especially teens from challenging backgrounds. Many people want to write this age group off: which is why you can be tried as an adult in some states as early as 12 or 13! I think it’s an amazing age to work with. They are still capable of so much insight and change and mature enough to be able to process their lives.

The first time I walked into a detention center and saw the teens incarcerated there, it struck me that it was a tremendous opportunity to reach kids who are not easily reached otherwise. You will not find this population in schools or park programs. Locked up, they have plenty of time on their hands and a desire to fill that time, often volunteering to do things they wouldn’t on the outside — like writing and performing in a show about themselves.

Tabby: This is intense work. There must be some challenges. What are they?

Meade: Prisons and the justice system are political. Some places can be hard to work in. They are full of corruption or just believe more in punishment than rehabilitation. I have been fortunate to work in a state [Illinois] that has established a Juvenile Justice Department — and recently, the Governor took this department completely out of Corrections and put it in the Department of Children and Family Services. Hopefully, this will be a good move and the system will become evermore child centered.

The Aftercare system (or lack thereof) is the biggest challenge. We work with these kids to make better, healthier decisions and then they are released to the same dysfunctional families and neighborhoods — but with no services to mentor them.

Tabby: How have you overcome some of these challenges?

Meade: The biggest thing I have learned is to only work in institutions where there is a champion — someone in administration within the institution. It’s important when we leave — and on the days we aren’t there to have people support the teens. My staff and I go early to program in order to spend time with the institutional staff. It’s important to know everyone from security, dietary, and on up so that everyone supports what we are doing and helps us to accomplish it.

Tabby: Why do you think a girl or young woman telling her story is so healing?

Meade: A lot of the stories that the girls tell are being told for the first time. So it’s not just telling a story, it’s like telling a secret. These kids have been sexually abused and assaulted, and that in particular is often an unspeakable trauma. What we do is provide a safe way for the girls to tell their stories.

If you’ve held on to something forever, it just festers and you don’t heal. But

Rosa raps her story

once you tell the story, then you let it go. By sharing stories, you also hear that there are other people in the room who have had similar experiences. This is strengthening and empowering.

I think the biggest thing is that you are able to let it go. You tell the story on stage, so it’s formalized, it’s universalized, and other people relate to it. Then it becomes a story that exists in the world outside of yourself and so, you can kind of walk away from it. Furthermore, it becomes not just a story but a song or a scene in a show — and then it becomes artistic. It’s something that, although it reminds you of a time that was painful in your life, it also becomes beautiful.

Tabby: You are a woman helping young women tell their story. Do you find a healing and empowering element for you?

Meade: Oh yes. Even though I am hearing a lot of trauma, it’s enjoyable because I see kids who really seize the opportunity to tell their stories to work out trauma in their lives. I see kids who go from being scared to be on stage to feeling good about it and feeling good about telling their stories. You see them change. It’s really a remarkable thing to watch. When you see a light go on in somebody’s eyes and they understand, or they feel safe to tell something for the first time, when they reach out to other people and support them – it’s a wonderful feeling. When everybody gets on stage together and they become a team and really support each other – especially kids in jails that have been tearing each other down — when they begin to empathize with each other, it’s kind of a high for everyone.

Tabby: I notice from seeing Girls on the Wall that you have great instincts about when to push the girls and when to back off. Where does that come from?

Meade: I love to solve problems. If I have a kid where something isn’t happening, I go home at night and think about it. The next day I try a new approach. You have to be patient. I think what’s important is patience and realizing that everyone comes around in their own time. You can’t predict exactly when it will happen for everybody.

These kids need love. They have been abandoned by everybody in their

casting for the musical

families and have been left behind, and so they don’t trust people. So you really have to build their trust. And you have to love them. They really need to feel like you care about them. Even when you are disciplining them, you have to do it with love. I use a lot of terms of endearment, like “Stop it sweetheart.” They have to know you are doing it because you care about them, and not just because you are ordering them around. They don’t like to hear harsh tones in people’s voices.

It’s important to be the adult in the group. These kids are not looking for peer friends from you. They are looking for someone who will be a guide, and will assume an adult role in their life that has been missing.

Tabby: What are some important leadership lessons you’ve learned in working with these girls?

Meade: When I first started working I was really absorbed in it being my own work and absorbed in all of the one-on-one stuff with the kids. What I learned over time is that the more people you bring into the process, the more you get the staff involved and the administration involved, the better off the kids. You really need to do that to support the kids. You need to have a bigger structure. You also need to work in institutions where you have a champion – where people believe in what you are doing so you are not fighting the system.

Tabby: What are some of the common misperceptions about the work that you do?

Meade: I think when people think of kids that are locked up they think of them as bad kids, evils kids, or dysfunctional kids. They think that for anyone who is locked up, there is something wrong with them. I think what people learn when they come in to work with the girls is that what’s dysfunctional is our system. What’s dysfunctional is that we don’t have a lot of systems that work for kids on the outside. They learn that these kids are kids. They have potential. They learn that these kids are really likeable and smart and could be somebody if society helps them out.

When the girls tell their stories it becomes so clear why they are locked up. It usually starts from a trauma they have experienced causing them to be angry and depressed, which causes them to drop out of school, do drugs, join gangs, and eventually become incarcerated. It’s a pretty clear cycle. It can be surprising for some who come and work with the girls since they’ve never thought about it before.

Tabby: How has this worked changed your life?

Meade: Well, this is my life. [Laughter]. It’s my mission in life. When I first started doing this work it was more with kids out in the community and in high schools. When I started working in prisons in 1990, it was a real turning point because I felt like I met the population that I was meant to work with. From that point on it’s been a personal journey figuring out … I feel like I’ve been given a gift that I am a playwright and a lyricist. It’s a real gift to be able to use what you love to do to get other people to not only learn playwriting and songwriting, but to actually use that process to heal themselves. That’s joyful for me to do that.

Tabby: What’s your best advice to other women who want to follow their mission I life, but are scared to for one reason or another?

Meade: My best advice is that if you want to do something, you just have to do it. I grew up in Flint, Michigan with a father who always said ‘no.’ I used to tell him, “I’m not going to ask you about this, I’m just going to tell you because otherwise you’ll just say no.” My advice is don’t allow yourself to accept ‘no’ as an answer when you want to do something. Ask yourself the question: “What’s the worst that’s going to happen?” If you can live with the answer, then you should do it.

Tabby: What’s some of the best advice someone gave you in your life?

Meade: When I was a kid my teachers always told me that I could be anything I wanted to be. Having been told that, I believed it. I feel like that is one thing I have to do in life is to tell other young women the same thing: You can do it. Believe in yourself, and don’t be afraid of failure — see failure as an opportunity to learn.

To learn more about Meade’s work, visit www.storycatcherstheatre.org.

To see Girls on the Wall, visit www.girlsonthewallmovie.com.

Tabby Biddle, M.S.Ed., is a writer/editor dedicated to amplifying the voices of women making a positive difference in the world. Her work has been featured by The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and other national media. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.

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Caroline Myss is Goddess of the Week!

Presenting GODDESS OF THE WEEK …

Caroline Myss, Ph.D.

medical intuitive, author and international speaker on mysticism, power and healing

“Despite my business interest in alternative therapies … I wasn’t the least bit interested in them. I had no desire to meet any healers myself. I refused to meditate. I developed an absolute aversion to wind chimes, New Age music, and conversations on the benefits of organic gardening. I smoked while drinking coffee by the gallon, still fashioning myself after an image of a hard-boiled newspaper reporter. I was not at all primed for a mystical experience.”

— Caroline Myss, Ph.D.


Caroline Myss, Ph.D., medical intuitive, author and speaker on power and healing

I have chosen Caroline Myss as Goddess of the Week because by living and speaking her personal truth, she is helping millions of individuals heal from a soul level. Through her work, she is helping people wake up to their personal power and learn how to use it wisely, lovingly, and in a way that unleashes their best self.

Caroline Myss is a wise woman pioneer. Her life’s work is about personal transformation, healing, and the study of power and mysticism. Initially a newspaper journalist, she left journalism to get a master’s degree in theology. She eventually joined forces with two partners and started a publishing company publishing books about healing methods and alternative therapies. Although she had a business interest in these things, she says she had no interest in becoming personally involved in alternative therapies, or even meeting any healers. Life then took her by surprise.

“I was not at all primed for a mystical experience,” she says in her bestselling book, Anatomy of the Spirit.

Caroline found that her perceptual abilities were becoming quite keen. “For instance, a friend would mention that someone he knew was not feeling well, and an insight into the cause of the problem would pop into my head. I was uncannily accurate, and word of it spread through the local community.”

It is now 30 years later, and because Caroline was courageous enough to live her truth as a medical intuitive, she has changed the lives of millions of people. Caroline’s gifts include being able to sense where someone is losing their life force, how soon that person will become ill, where that illness will likely locate, and why they will get that illness.

What makes Caroline’s work unique is that she marries mysticism with action.  She teaches and writes about the “unseen” world, while making the lessons practical and tangible. Through her work, she helps people get honest with themselves, with others, and most importantly, their soul.

“The journey is about becoming mystics outside of the monastery.” — Caroline Myss

What’s so exciting to me is that her work has opened the doors for many health professionals to practice medicine differently. In 1996, she and Harvard-trained neurosurgeon Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D., founded the Institute for the Science of Medical Intuition, which funds research in the field. Caroline herself partners with doctors providing them intuitive information that can help them better serve their patients.

In 2003, Caroline established her own educational institute, CMED (Caroline Myss Education), which offers a range of programs devoted to personal development, spirituality, and human consciousness research.

She is the author of five New York Times bestselling books including Sacred Contracts, Anatomy of the Spirit, and Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can.

Caroline says that over time she has become more comfortable in the life of someone falling into mysticism.

One of the most poignant lessons I have taken from her work is this: Your biography becomes your biology. In other words, if you don’t heal your spirit, you are endangering your physical body and putting yourself at great risk for illness and disease. Instead, she encourages individuals to focus their attention on learning to interpret their life’s challenges symbolically — and find meaning in them. This step alone has helped me tremendously.

Thank you Caroline for your incredibly courageous and groundbreaking goddess work. We all look forward to you continuing to live and speak your truth!

Caroline Myss, Ph.D., will be teaching at the I Can Do It! 2010 conference in San Diego, May 14 –16. Click here for more information.

The Difference Between Curing vs. Healing

Written by Tabby Biddle


Most of us want a quick fix when we are sick. Who wouldn’t? The problem with this, however, is that a quick fix isn’t always possible — and in many cases, it’s not even the best medicine.

When I was taken to a hospital in Thailand 15 years ago for what appeared to be amoebic dysentery, I had a deep sense that medicine was not the only answer to my illness. I had been away from my American cultural norm for six months, and was opening up to new ideas and perspectives (in particular through the practice of meditation and yoga). While I knew that medicine would probably help subside the painful and life-threatening symptoms of the dysentery, I knew deep inside that medicine was only one piece of the puzzle.

As I laid there in the hospital bed for what seemed like endless hours, I came to realize that whatever was going on with me went much deeper than the symptoms I was experiencing on the surface. It wasn’t just my physical body that needed to be cured, but my mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies were asking to be healed. Thus, my healing work began.

What I am talking about here is the difference between curing vs. healing. While I was brought up under the conventional medicine belief system where prescribed medications were considered the “cure” for my various illnesses as a child and young adult, the experience in Thailand woke me up to some other possibilities for healing. In short, for the first time I discovered my own power to heal.

Enter: holistic medicine.

There is no question that the relationship between holistic medicine and conventional medicine has been a contentious, or maybe more apt — ignored one — for many years. Those who prescribed to holistic medical thinking and action were considered “on the fringe,” New Age “woo-woo” types, or flat out ignorant. Understandably, those who prided themselves on their rational minds and put an emphasis on the physical world (at the expense the “unseen” one) would not want to consider that there might be more to healing than treating the physical body.

Today, however, due to the work of some particular individuals — we’ve moved on a bit from these stereotypes.

One of these outstanding individuals is Caroline Myss, Ph.D. Caroline, a world-renowned medical intuitive, author, and speaker in the field of health and healing, has been a pioneer in courage in the health care field. In her book, Anatomy of the Spirit, she points out: “Healing begins with the repair of emotional injuries.” She explains, in other words, that instead of illness being considered simply a result of germs and genetics, it is essential to consider the emotional component of illness.

“Holistic and conventional medicine take two different attitudes toward power: active and passive,” says Caroline. “The chemical treatments of conventional medicine require no conscious participation on the part of the patient … When a person is passive – with an attitude of ‘just do it to me’ – he does not fully heal; he may recover, but he may never deal fully with the source of his illness.”

In contrast, she explains, holistic medicine considers the patient’s willingness to participate fully in his or her own healing as necessary for its success. “Healing is an active and internal process that includes investigating one’s attitudes, memories, and beliefs with the desire to release all negative patterns that prevent one’s full emotional and spiritual recovery,” says Caroline.

To put it simply, when you give your authority over to your doctor to “cure” you, you may be missing out on an important part of your healing process (aka the emotional, psychological, and spiritual stresses that were part of the illness). If conventional medicine cures your symptoms, but not the underlying causes, Caroline and other holistic medical experts say there is a high possibility that your illness will come back.

It’s been 15 years since my hospital experience in Thailand and the healing journey continues. Each time I get sick or “under the weather,” I look at the underlying causes and respond accordingly. I am happy to report that my frequency of illness has decreased tremendously and when I do get sick, I recover much more quickly. To me, curing is one piece of the health care puzzle and healing is the puzzle itself.

Caroline Myss, Ph.D., will be teaching at the I Can Do It! 2010 conference in San Diego, May 14 –16. Click here for more information.

Tabby Biddle, M.S.Ed., is a writer/editor specializing in the areas of health and wellness, women’s empowerment, personal growth and spirituality. Her work has been featured by The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and other national media. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.

Do You Believe in Guidance?

Written by Tabby Biddle

I’m not just talking about intuitive guidance. I’m talking about angels and spirit guides. Yes, I’m going there.

In getting ready to attend the I Can Do It! conference in San Diego in a couple of weeks, I spoke with Sonia Choquette, Ph.D, one of the conference presenters. Sonia is world-renowned author, healer, intuitive guide and spiritual teacher. She is best known for her workshops and books on connecting people with their guidance systems, including angels and spirit guides. She defines angels as “light beings that meet you at the first breath, assist you and walk with you throughout life, and walk you back to heaven at your last breath.”

Sonia told me that 30 years ago most people perceived her as a nut, a kook, a weirdo, and a deviant. Now, she says, she is being invited to speak at business conferences, at universities, in hospital groups, and church groups.

Could angel guidance be moving from marginalization to mainstream?

In my own case, I feel confident now to admit that I have dabbled in spirit and angel guidance over the years. This is something that I have kept mostly to myself because of not wanting to be marginalized. As a non-religious person, but a very spiritually-oriented one, I have relied upon my intuition and occasional assistance from my “helpers” to guide the way. I have noticed that the more I tune into and acknowledge my guides, the more assistance they provide.

“We are now beginning to recognize and even hear from people that we have great respect for – scientists and doctors and philosophers — that say that there really is actually more consciousness to be accessed and to tune into than just our strict intellectual dialogue.”     — Sonia Choquette

So how do you open up to guidance if you’ve never done it before? (Or if you already have, how do you open up more?)

Sonia suggests a four-step plan.

Step one. Be open to it. This is the most important step. Most people who aren’t receiving guidance aren’t open to the idea that it’s available. Being open to it is like turning on the radio. Being open to it accesses a part of your consciousness that is receptive … your right brain.

Step two. Expect guidance. Take a little more definitive and risky choice and actually expect that guidance will come.

Step three. Invite guidance in. Guidance will come through your heart. When you want guidance, take a deep breath and let out the sound “HA” because it opens the heart. You can literally feel the opening.  It also opens the throat, and it relaxes the mind. Put your hand right on your heart. Pose the question that you are seeking guidance on. Then, without hesitation, answer out loud: “My heart says …”  Just be curious about what pops out. There’s your guidance.

Step four. Act on it. Then your life will transform.

Tip: When you receive guidance or synchronicity in your life, instead of treating it as something peculiar or bizarre, talk about it positively. Try saying: “The most beautiful thing came through today. I can’t explain it, but I’ll take it.”

While angel and spirit guidance may still sound marginal to some, you can think of it this way: “We have our national guards, our policemen, our volunteer crew, our army, and our navy. We have many levels of support in the human experience, and we have that same pantheon of support in the Divine realm as well,” says Sonia.

It may be fun to give the four-step guidance plan a try. Why not see what happens?

Sonia Choquette will be teaching at the I Can Do It! 2010 conference in San Diego, May 14 – 16. Click here for more information.

Sonia Choquette is Goddess of the Week!

My Interview with Sonia Choquette

by Tabby Biddle

“I feel very strongly that we are evolving from homosapiens to homospiritists. We are taking the next steps. We are in process of morphing evolutionarily into a higher expression of consciousness … human consciousness on this planet … We are beginning on a collective level to intuitively sense that we will self-destruct unless we evolve.”

— Sonia Choquette, Ph.D.

Sonia Choquette

For more than 30 years, Sonia Choquette has been sharing with the world her wisdom and experience with six-sensory perception. Even when others thought she was a “kook” and a “deviant,” she pressed on. She never let others’ judgments prevent her from sharing what she knew to be true. Today, she is a world-renowned author, storyteller, healer, intuitive guide and spiritual teacher.

T:  I just started reading your book “Soul Lessons and Soul Purpose.” In the book you said, “The sooner we individually raise our vibrations, the sooner we’ll collectively heal the suffering on the planet. We have no time to waste.” Can you say more about this?

S:  I believe that what we have been genuinely unconscious about is that even though we have free will, what we choose, and how we live, and how we go about our daily life affects the whole. Nobody is having an autonomous experience that is independent of the collective experience. Conversely, for every one of us that elevates our vibration, our intentions, our direction, our priorities, and our commitment to living as a responsible, creative, contributing human being versus a victimized, dispirited, uncreative, non-contributing, non-interested person — we will, by the laws of entrainment, affect those around us. As our vibration is felt, it inspires and activates those same inclinations in others. It begins to set off a chain of events where one can affect five; five can affect 25; 25 can affect 125, and so on and so on — like ripples in a lake.

So until individuals really begin to feel and embrace their personal responsibility and power to influence the whole, we won’t see a change. Now, having said that, that book was written a few years ago. I actually see that that kind of awareness is really beginning to kick in and take place.

T:  I absolutely agree. It feels as if in the past couple of years things have rapidly increased in terms of consciousness. Do you think the pace has quickened? And if so, why?

S:  I definitely think you are accurate about the quickening pace. I think that in the last 24 months things have become extremely destabilized in terms of our personal comfort zone. Our financial systems are imploding. Our jobs and the things we assume to be there — or be reliably consistent — have fallen apart. The earth under our feet is rocking and rolling, firing and spewing. Although some would say it’s been happening all along, certainly not at a time and place in civilization where so many people have been affected. In other words, we may have had earthquakes for the entire history of the planet, but huge societies were not necessarily built on those places where those quakes were taking place.

People are beginning to recognize that there is a dependency on one another and a dependency on our earth that is elevating our awareness of how we treat one another and how we treat our planet. In many cases, it’s bringing out the best in us, not the worst. We are more creative, conscientious, and have spirited awareness. So, I think that the disturbances are sort of like the metaphor: It almost kills a butterfly to get out of a cocoon, but the same effort gives its wings the power to fly.

T:  I know you work a lot with guides, angels, and emissaries. Are they playing a part in the more drastic phenomena?

S:  I do think that the veil between the third, fourth, and fifth dimensions is thinning. I think the level of perception in the average human being is elevating, and that we are beginning to sense on many different levels that we are not alone in this Universe. And that our human voice is not the only voice that has influence – that we have a subtle, intuitive voice. We are beginning to sense the subtle conscious realm of Divine beings. This is happening in rapid rates.

I do feel that the parts of people’s brains that have been dormant and inactive are starting to get stimulated because of all this change. This includes the pineal gland, which is the source of the Third Eye – the inner knowing that gives us the ability to perceive subtle energy. I feel very strongly that we are evolving from homosapiens to homospiritists. We are taking the next steps. We are in process of morphing evolutionarily into a higher expression of consciousness … human consciousness on this planet.

T:  That’s pretty cool.

S:  It is cool. Every evolutionary step in human consciousness has been adaptive, and we are adapting now to a lot of shifts in terms of how to survive as a species. Homosapien is ego-centered, and ego-centered is “me against you.” So we are killing each other. “Me against you” in the physical body is called cancer.

We are beginning on a collective level to intuitively sense that we will self-destruct unless we evolve. So it is our adaptive sense of survival that is activating this higher consciousness.

T:  How do think the upcoming I Can Do It! conference can help people?

S:  Every one of us who comes to speak at those conferences are all messengers – and we all have very unique and very important ways and means and gifts to share.

I know my gift. I am more than a messenger … I am an alchemist. What I create within my workshop is that I actually activate the vibration for the frequency and the experience of vibrating at that higher level of consciousness. I activate the four chambers of the heart. I activate the pineal gland. I engage the participants’ voice of intuition. It’s sort of like I jump start people into this higher frequency and they feel it. So it’s not a matter of taking notes and hearing about it and thinking this is a destination you are going to be in one day if you stay the course. I actually put them in the experience – and give them the vibrational jolt.

T:  What role do you think intellect plays in all of this?

S:  I think that the intellect is important. This is how we learn. First we see it. Then we hear about it. Then we experience it. Then we own it. It’s sort of like window-shopping. You’ve got to let something be introduced to you before you even know it’s out there. It’s like when you see something beautiful in the window and you think, “Hmmmm … I might like that.”

My workshops are about having the experience, and then my books are a way to educate the intellect to support the experience rather than undermine it.

T:  What can you share about guidance?

S:  Every human being has had some experience of guidance. That is not our challenge. Our challenge is: Will our ego humble enough to acknowledge that there is more than the ego running the world and the experience of the human journey through life?

My mother used to say this all the time: “Never assume what you know is all there is to know, or you’re in a lot of trouble.”

Be open to being surprised with guidance. One of the ways to accelerate guidance is to talk about it in a positive way.

T:  Can you say more about this?

S:  I gave this whole workshop one day about guidance, and I said, “Talk about it in a positive way.” At the end of the workshop, three of my students came up and said, “Oh, I’ve got to tell you about this really weird thing. It’s really bizarre.” And I said, “What’s positive about that?”

If you frame guidance as being abnormal or peculiar, then you set up subconscious resistance. Instead, you can say: “The most beautiful thing came through today. I can’t explain it, but I’ll take it.”

T:  Do you remember your very first moment of being guided?

S:  I never have a moment of my life where I remember not being guided. To me, that’s like the worst handicap that I can fathom. That is why I am devoting my life to activate the higher octave of our eyes and ears, our intuition. With intuition in place all will be okay. And without it, I can’t make the same claim.

T:  In closing, any last words you want to share about intuition?

S:  The question has definitely matured. It’s no longer, “Does it exist?” The question has evolved into, “How does it work?” “How can I get it to work consistently?” How can I get it to work for me?” And that’s the question that I’ve devoted my life work to.

Sonia Choquette will be teaching at the I Can Do It! 2010 conference in San Diego, May 14 –16. Click here for more information.

You can visit her website at www.soniachoquette.com.

Gabrielle Bernstein is Goddess of the Week!

My Interview with Gabrielle Bernstein

by Tabby Biddle

“I’ve overcome drug addiction, love addiction, food addiction, work addiction, you name it and I’ve recovered. Becoming the happiest person I know didn’t happen overnight. I did a lot of serious self-reflective work to get to this place. Man, was it worth it!”

Gabrielle Bernstein, founder of HerFuture.com

author of Add More ~ing to Your Life


Gabrielle Bernstein

T:  You are coming to LA next week to lead an event called “Know~ing Your Worth.” Tell me about that.

G:  The Know~ing Your Worth lecture focuses on a key principle to manifesting. I don’t teach people the tools for manifestation without getting them into “the know” first. Until you believe you are worthy of your desires you cannot fully receive them. This lecture focuses on amping up your belief system so that you can make your manifestations stick.

T: It’s so true — until we believe we are worthy of our desires we cannot fully receive them. What’s one method you use to help women amp up their belief system?

G:  D.P. & M. Daily prayer and meditation will get you into “the know.” Constant contact with your ~ing guides you to know that the Universe has your back.

T: What exactly is ~ing? I know you recently published a book called Add More ~ing to your life. Tell me more about that.

G:  ~ing stands for ‘inner guidance.’ By adding more ~ing we choose the voice of our inner guide over the voice of our fearful ego. In my book I am teaching that adding more ~ing leads us to happiness by choosing a better way to view our lives.

T: How did you get on this path?

G: Up until the age of twenty-five I was searching for happiness on the outside. I had a bad case of what I call the “when I haves.” For example, “When I have that next boyfriend then I’ll be happy.” Or, “When I have that new client then all be happy.” None of that worked. This outside search led me to hit a bottom at which point (at 25 years old) I chose to turn inward. I became a student of metaphysics and amped up my meditation practice. In addition, I got sober. I released the party girl mentality and became a metaphysics junky. Then I went into self-study mode. I read everything I could get my hands on. I became a student of A Course in Miracles and I began to reposition my fear back to love. I continue this on a daily basis. Most importantly I grew a deep meditation practice. This is what carries me today.

T: You mentioned becoming sober. What have been some of your other personal struggles?

G:  I’ve overcome drug addiction, love addiction, food addiction, work addiction, you name it and I’ve recovered. Becoming the happiest person I know didn’t happen overnight. I did a lot of serious self-reflective work to get to this place. Man, was it worth it!

T: So would you say that your ~ing helped you overcome these things?

G:  Yes, my connection to my ~ing is what has carried me through all of my obstacles. I’ve overcome all of these struggles with my steadfast journey inward. Today I know I am being guided and I can see all obstacles as opportunities.

T: I love that perspective of seeing all obstacles as opportunities. Can you say more about that in your life?

G:  Any time a situation doesn’t work out the way I planned I know it’s always because there’s something better on the way.

T:  What is your life is like today?

photo by sam bassett

G: As a result of turning my life around I have everything I’ve ever desired. I  practice the principles that I teach on a moment-by-moment basis. Therefore my life just flows. When I have difficult obstacles I know they are assignments and I just show up. My life rules today.

Today I am a motivational speaker, life coach and author. My mission is to spread this message to the masses and change lives by igniting one ~ing at a time. That was how I was guided to write Add More ~ing To Your Life.

T: Is there anything you still struggle with?

G:  Fear creeps in from time to time but I am grateful for that. My mini ego meltdowns keep me on my toes and connected to my work.

T: What do you mean by that?

G:  What I mean is that I still struggle with fearful thoughts from time to time. Rather than succumb to the fear, I use it as a road map to look inward and figure out what I still need to work on.

T:  Looking back now at “worth,” what advice can you offer a woman who wants take the first steps to knowing her worth?

G:  The first step towards knowing your worth is willingness. With the slightest willingness you’ll be guided to go deeper and believe in yourself. You’ll become clear on how you’re blocking your greatness and be willing to change.

T: So, how can women get more involved with the work you do?

G:  The best way for women to get more involved with my work is to join my site www.herfuture.com. This site is one of my greatest accomplishments. There are thousands of women helping one another and mentoring each other. The content on this site is based on love. It truly rules!

To learn more about my upcoming lectures you can visit www.addmoreing.com, and to download my guided meditations and lecture podcasts just type my name into iTunes.

T: Wonderful! Thank you Gabby.

* You can join Gabrielle at her event, Know~ing Your Worth, on Wednesday, April 28  in Los Angeles at The Standard Downtown LA, 550 S Flower St. Los Angeles CA, 90071. Get more details here.

Money, Money, Money

Written by Tabby Biddle

It’s April 15th (maybe the 16th by the time you are reading this). It’s no secret that this date is loaded with all sorts of feelings for people around the country.

This year I had my first experience of being audited. The woman at the Internal Revenue Service told me, “You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just that Uncle Sam wants a small piece of the pie.” She said this as she drew me a yummy looking pie with her black ballpoint pen.

Taxes were very easy back in the day when I had one job at one company. Add to this, I had unlimited access to a financial advisor on the job (thank you National Geographic Society). This very nice woman taught me about 403bs (the non-profit’s version of a 401k), and she taught me the basics of investing and the great benefits of saving.

I felt so happy and responsible – like a big lady out in the world making money, saving, investing, and putting away for my retirement. The perfect money manager.

Things changed a bit later on when I left my job and headed out into the world in a different way – this time as a backpack traveler, yogi, and student of Buddhism. My entire view of money and how to manage money CHANGED.

Heck, if all life is always changing and we could die at any moment, what’s the use in socking away the money for the future if there might not be a future?

DANGER. DANGER. Don’t go on a Buddhist meditation retreat if you want to keep your savings. (Slightly joking.)

Look at how happy these families are in Vietnam, Thailand, and India living on so little!

Boy was I naïve.

Well, not completely. But I did certainly have some of the picture skewed.

I returned to the US full-time a few years later with the idea that sustainable living was best. This meant that I needed just the basics – clean, safe apartment, healthy foods, yoga classes, good friends and family. Moderate living, you know?

The problem with this is that my idea of moderate living was having an apartment on the Upper West Side in New York a couple of blocks from Central Park, taking $3000 yoga teacher trainings (multiple ones I will confess), and food shopping at Fairway and Citarella. Add to this, I still loved to travel to faraway places like India and South America.

In order to live my “moderate” life on my teacher’s salary, and the fact that I now had the idea that saving for the future was just a trap in the rat race, I wasn’t saving, investing, or putting anything into my retirement anymore.

Fast forward seven years to starting a business. How do I do the books? Oh, it will just work out. It always has in the past.

Let’s just say that learning the ropes of managing the money for a business was a big task for me. I insisted on doing it mostly on my own. Yes, I took classes at the Small Business Development Center in Santa Monica. Yes, I hired the occasional bookkeeper. And yes, I had an accountant at tax time. But it always seemed like there was more to learn.

As strange as it might sound, the audit experience has become a teachable moment for me. Instead of fearing the IRS, I actually feel quite supported by them because I am learning. The woman who is doing my audit is teaching me about what they look for, what raises red flags, what counts, what doesn’t, etc. In other words, I am getting front line training.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all get front line training, but not wait for the IRS to call us in to get it? Financial training from an early age is a very useful thing – so why don’t we get this in school?

I’ve written recently to promote the implementation of healthy lunches in schools. Now I would like to propose the implementation of healthy money training in schools. If more people knew their way around the books by the time they were adults, it seems that we wouldn’t have so many people in tremendous debt.

I’m advocating for early childhood training in money management (making it fun of course), but who should the teachers be? How do we start fresh and not re-build a broken system?

Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed. is a writer and editor specializing in women’s issues, health and wellness, personal growth and empowerment. Her work has been featured by The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and other national media. She lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband.

Amanda Steinberg is Goddess of the Week!

Interview with Amanda Steinberg

by Tabby Biddle

“It’s more common for a female job candidate to ask what the job pays, rather than walking in the door, clear about her own bottom line … Women often approach jobs and contracts with fear and insecurity, hoping ‘they’ll want us,’ and don’t think about the established market value of what we bring to the table.”

— Amanda Steinberg, Founder of DailyWorth.com

Amanda Steinberg, Founder of DailyWorth.com

T: I’m familiar with your work and your mission, but a lot of my readers are not. Please describe what you do.

A: Sure. I am the founder of DailyWorth.com. Our mission at DailyWorth is to transform women’s relationship to money and help women specifically build real net worth. How we do this is similar to Daily Candy — which you may have heard of – we email women daily about different money issues. The types of money issues that we cover are really a broad range. We cover everything from earning – how to negotiate a raise; to budgeting – what kind of budgets really work: to the nuances of how to save and how to invest.

T: Why do you think this is important for women right now?

A: We are actually at a fascinating time in history as it relates to women and money. There are two trends converging at this very moment in time. On the one hand women are in control of money more than they ever have been before. This year it’s projected for the first time that we will be 50 and then 51 percent of the work force. That’s never happened in history. It’s been estimated by the latest Maria Shriver Report that as many as 40 percent of married women are the breadwinners in their home. Imagine that dynamic where so many women are actually responsible for the income that’s putting food on the table. And I could go on and on. [The point is] that more and more women are at the center of both earning money and controlling how it’s spent.

At the same time women are really behind in terms of our own net worth. Women still earn 20 percent less than men. We retire with as much as a third less in our bank accounts than men. And I’ve even talked to some divorce experts who talk about the nuances of the way assets are divided at the time of the divorce, which affects more than 50 percent of women. Their net worth can be drastically reduced as a result of it.

So DailyWorth really exists to support this shift in society and to make sure that women have the knowledge and the expertise to make sure that we really have the equity of financial standing that we totally deserve.

T:  Yes, we deserve a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. I know so many women who undervalue themselves or have trouble asking for what they are worth. What advice or tips could you offer us to overcome this?

A: Women need to make sure they are paid what they are worth. It’s more common for a female job candidate to ask what the job pays, rather than walking in the door, clear about her own bottom line … Women often approach jobs and contracts with fear and insecurity, hoping ‘they’ll want us,’ and don’t think about the established market value of what we bring to the table. Here are a few tips that come from our contributing experts at DailyWorth:

Know the marketplace. It’s important to know what others in your position earn. Do your research. Ask around. Then focus on the higher end, and ask for it.  Never low-ball yourself, because climbing up from the bottom rung is tough.

Request the range. When an employer asks what you expect to be paid, politely but firmly say it depends on many factors, and ask for their range.

Know your worth. Quality employees come at a cost. Chances are you have a lot of experience in what you do. When asking for a raise or stating your fee, lay out your relevant experience and achievements. People pay you because you’re good, not because they like you.

Rehearse. Pretend a potential employer is on the phone. State your ideal salary or fee out loud. Repeat that figure until it feels natural—and you get that question mark out of your voice.

Close the deal with confidence. When you believe you’re worthy, others believe you’re worthy. Hold the vision of yourself as worthy, and then after you ask for what you want, stop talking. There’s no need for further explanation when you know your worth.

T: Great tips. Thank you Amanda.  How did you choose this path?

Click the arrow to hear a short clip from Amanda.

A: Well it’s funny. You know a lot of things in life kind of happen to you. It was definitely not pre-meditated on any level. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 10 years, and having been raised by a single mom who really struggled with money, I’ve always said how important money is to me, and how being able to take care of myself – not depending on anyone else has always been important to me. And I’ve always done really well on the earning side. I’ve been really good at making money for the last decade I’ve been in the work force. And yet when I was 30 years old, I bought my first house with my husband and we really over-mortgaged ourselves. Despite having a household income of upwards of $200,000 a year, we really struggled to make our mortgage payment. And I asked myself, “How is it that I’ve always said that money is really important to me, and yet we are struggling to make ends meet?”

So I started to do the research, and it led me to the realization that so many women (and men) – but I have a particular interest in women – don’t understand the very, very basics of financial management. So I thought, what better than to give women a daily email – not necessarily a blog post because you have to go seek out blog posts – and I don’t know about you, but I’d probably rather be reading UsWeekly than Kiplinger magazine for example. So I thought email was really the right format because it comes to you, instead of you having to go after it.

T: You talked about being really good on the earning side but you and your husband struggled to make your mortgage payment. It’s sounds like something else was going on. Tell me about that.

A: Yes. In my 20s, I discovered I had a knack for earning money. As a high performing saleswoman, I was commanding six figures in my mid-twenties. Unfortunately for me, I was just as talented at spending it.

Fast forward 10 years. My husband and I bought a gorgeous house and surprise! We spent more money than we should have and put ourselves into quite a financial hole.

One autumn afternoon, staring down at four unpaid bills on the kitchen table, I had an epiphany:  “It’s not how much you earn, it’s how much you don’t spend.”

Radical notion. Why, I asked myself, had it taken 10 years to recognize my flawed behavior and how much income I’d wasted on therapy-shopping?

T: So what did you do?

A: After scrutinizing my patterns in the areas of budgeting, spending, saving and investing, I made the conscious choice to value my net worth and to hyper-educate myself in all areas of personal finance. DailyWorth.com is the outcome of this resolution.

T: Very cool. I love that you are taking on this issue where you struggled, and are now helping empower other women like you empowered yourself. I heard that DailyWorth just had its first LIVE event. Tell me about that.

A: Yes, we had our first live event last week in New York and 150 people came to it. I have to say  — I’ve done a lot of public speaking over the last 10 years, but often times I get to the microphone and no one knows who I am. And I asked the audience how many were DailyWorth subscribers, and the entire room raised their hand. It kind of took my breath away. It was really overwhelming.

Women said they were riveted by it, and I’ve gotten three emails since* about how they went to their boss and negotiated raises and how well a lot of those conversations went.

*I interviewed Amanda five days after the event.

T: Are DailyWorth LIVE events something you are going to continue?

A: We definitely plan on doing a lot of live events. But to all of you who are moms out there, you know how challenging it can be. If I didn’t have kids, I’d probably be doing a lot more traveling — a lot more live events. So it’s something I’m trying to figure out: How to be a mom – how to be there – and also how to produce these events.

T: What does the future look like for DailyWorth?

A:  We are going to continue to be a daily email. That is always going to be our core service. I think a lot of businesses lose their power when they try and diversify into all these different tool sets. I think if we remain a media engine first and foremost about bringing you the most innovative budgeting tactics and demystifying aspects of investing, I think that we are ultimately going to best serve our market.

We are however exploring the development of certain tools. For example, we are looking into writing some eBooks. We also would like to plan a tour. Of our 20,000 subscribers, about 20 percent of them are in LA, about 20 percent in New York, and the rest are distributed across the country. We would like to do this, but I think first and foremost we are going to remain a daily email.

T: How can people get involved with DailyWorth?

A: There are a few ways.

  1. The first way to get involved is to sign up for our daily email at www.DailyWorth.com. You can also follow us on Facebook, and you can follow me on Twitter, @AmandaSteinberg.
  2. In terms of engagement, we always invite conversation at the end our blog in the commenting section. We’ll get anywhere from 10 to 50 comments on our posts every day. So it’s a really active community.
  3. We invite article contributors, but we are not looking for recycled personal finance advice — we are really looking for women’s personal stories. For example, things that are less talked about in society – like the nuances of money management between a husband and a wife, or what it’s like when you really get into a cash flow situation. Things of that nature. If you would like to contribute to us, send us an email at contact@dailyworth.com.

T: I love what you are doing. It is definitely making a positive difference in my life. Thank you Amanda.

A: You’re welcome!

Anne Wells is Goddess of the Week!

Interview with Anne Wells

by Tabby Biddle

“For me, each and every experience in Tanzania leaves me humbled, grateful and yearning for more!” — Anne

Anne Wells is the founder of UNITE The World With Africa. "I believe that extreme poverty on this planet is ALL of our problems… not just those who suffer directly," she says.

T: Tell me about the work that you do.

A: I recently founded the social organization “UNITE The World With Africa” to empower and facilitate meaningful giving and service opportunities between Americans and Tanzanians. Specifically, I design and run humanitarian outreach tours to Africa in which participants are partnered with their peer-counterparts to share their time and talents in targeted and impactful ways.

T: Why do you do this work?

A: I believe it is of utmost importance to get more Americans directly involved in international development. We all can’t be Angelina Jolie or an ambassador for CARE or Save The Children, but we can do our part and contribute. I believe that extreme poverty on this planet is ALL of our problems… not just those who suffer directly. First, it is our duty to care. As David Lamb so eloquently writes in his book The Africans, “To be oblivious to the problems of Africa is to promote more international misery, hunger, instability – and to increase threats to peace in the world.” And second, it is our human right to care. When we stand side-by-side and celebrate all that unites us … our common humanity … we grow. We develop. We break down walls in our hearts. Our lives are forever better.

By bringing Americans to Tanzania in a manner in which they can cultivate meaningful relationships, give of themselves in personal and impactful ways, and experience village life as it is – not as it may be seen through the eyes of a tourist – I believe that we create the space and opportunity for transformation. While most first-time visitors may be struck and saddened by the extreme poverty, more so they are deeply touched by the rich Tanzanian sense of community, family and faith. It is my experience that when someone has nothing to give (meaning no “things”) they give of themselves… their hearts, truths and joys. It is here that I believe we are starving as a people.

So, I chose this path to facilitate and empower giving and receiving, learning and teaching, self-exploration and discovery. For me, each and every experience in Tanzania leaves me humbled, grateful and yearning for more!

T: You have a Women’s Empowerment tour coming up. Tell me about that.

A: During our 2010 June tour our team will work alongside our Tanzanian peer-counterparts and extended community partners — in a series of train-the-trainer style workshops — to address some of the most pressing issues faced by women in rural Tanzania, including maternal & infant health; education; vocational training & microfinance and business development; HIV/AIDS education; leadership training; and more. During our time in-country we will visit with schools, orphanages, women’s groups, medical clinics and others groups/organizations in the Northern District of Tanzania.

T: How do you put together your outreach tours?

A: To execute these tours, I partner with a number of local grassroots non-profit organizations that are doing their work in excellence and having a positive and measurable impact on their communities, and who are also in great need of support and assistance from the West.

With my partners, I take a look at the unique skill sets of my given Team — which this year includes women’s health, public health, leadership training, microfinance, business development and economics, education and even jewelry making — and overlay that with a thorough community-level needs assessment, and then we determine the best way to put my Team to work during our time in country. Prior to our arrival, we collaborate to create requested training materials, and my Team also works to raise funds directly for UNITE’s NGO partners to support their programmatic work in Tanzania.

T: How does your Team raise funds?

A: We do everything from bake sales, private parties and corporate giving to used-clothing, book and medicine drives. A little goes a long way, and each UNITE team member is asked to do his or her best to support our friends in need.

T: You used the term “work in excellence.” What does that mean?

A:  What I mean by that is that the NGOs we partner with are moving within the natural flow of the villages. They are “bottom up,” not “top down” approaches. Their work and programs are sustainable and scalable. They empower local people through education, microfinance programs, vocational training, etc. In other words, they don’t create a dependence on hand-outs.

T: This is really incredible work you are doing. How did you choose this path?

A: I have a long history living, studying and working in Tanzania. My first visit was in 1991 as a student of wildlife and human cultural management. I literally “fell in love” with the country and have been working to build bridges back ever since.

In 1994 I traveled alone through the northern district spending time at a snake park and dairy farm and even charting a walking safari to the Maasai Mountain of God – Oldoinyo Lengai. Years later, while living in St. Louis – after being married, having three young daughters and establishing a successful career as a writer, journalist and marketing/communications executive – I met a man named Father Dennis Mnyanyi, an Anglican priest from Tanzania. Dennis and I became fast friends, and he tolerated my endless questions about Tanzania, development and how Americans can best be of service – if indeed at all. Dennis requested that I come to Tanzania to identify local Tanzanian-run groups doing their work in excellence for whom I could garner for support in the U.S. I did that with my husband in 2008, and a year later in 2009 I brought my first group of 14 Americans to Tanzania.

T: How did that go?

A: We worked in a number of villages teaching First Aid, basic lifesaving and public health. We visited schools and orphanages, parishes and women’s groups, hospitals and clinics, and as a result of those experiences – I believe – the trajectory of lives were changed.

When I came from that tour, I left my job as the marketing director of a prominent U.S.-based NGO and committed myself full-time to growing this work in Africa. And today not only do I have a network of brilliant and trusted local leaders in Tanzania who have partnered with me to grow this venture and continue to plant the seeds of change, but I also have the commitment and faith of the Americans who travel with me. I am the bridge, and for that I am deeply blessed.

T: It sounds almost seamless. What have been some of the obstacles?

A: Wow — they are many! My biggest challenge is determining how to organize and mobilize people who are thousands of miles apart with extremely different cultures and expectations to come together to have meaningful and impactful exchanges in a concentrated period of time.  Also, finding the support I need has been a long, laborious process. Not everyone wants to spend two weeks of their year SERVING others in rural Africa. So I court many dozens and dozens of people for each team member that commits. And fundraising for my non-profit partners in Tanzania is an ongoing challenge.

T: How have you moved through these challenges?

A:  I have partnered with a handful of excellent leaders in Tanzania with whom I work to address — to the best of our abilities — all questions and challenges in advance of my team’s arrival. And, as I said earlier, we partner my UNITE team members with their peer counterparts in Tanzania so a doctor is training medical professionals, a teacher is working with teachers and educators, etc. This effort, combined with tons of advanced preparation and communications, empowers us to be impactful during our time in country.

And – thankfully — with each passing day, week, month I find a few more people who care and want to help… be it with Global Girls UNITE (my mommy-daughter club) or with fundraising or gathering items for second suitcases. Some even say they want to come with me to Africa some day!! So I focus on the miracle of these people who indeed DO care and are willing to give of their time, talent and treasure to support those in need in a world away. These people give me the fuel I need to carry on!

T: Bless those people! What about fears … have you had any?

A: My two main fears are sickness and dissatisfaction. The sickness threat is obvious — Africa is Africa and lots can go wrong. However, I do everything possible to keep my team healthy and after ensuring safe transport, water, food, lodging, bed nets, malaria meds, vaccines, etc…. I just have to pray for the best.  As for dissatisfaction, I am doing everything in my power to ensure that my team has an extraordinary, unique, personalized, impactful and meaningful experience, but of course I cannot guarantee that they feel these things — even if I do!

But honestly I believe that these fears are in fact good because they remind me of the illusion of control and bring me back to my very strong and very clear faith. My faith gives me courage, laser focus and a strength and stamina I didn’t know I had. This work that I do is really about God, the universe, and the divine that resides deep within us all and UNITES us. When I feel alone, overwhelmed, scared or simply exhausted, I pray for guidance and strength… and so far so good because I am still here, working at it as hard as I can!!

T: Wow! That is powerful. How can other people get involved with the work you are doing?

A: People can get involved with UNITE The World With Africa in a number of ways.

  1. They can come with me on a tour. I will be returning to Tanzania each year and also expanding into new countries. For example, this fall I will be in Botswana scouting an outreach tour in parts of the Kalahari Desert. I am always looking for bright, motivated, committed and adventuresome individuals who want to join me!
  2. They can work with me to raise funds for my partner NGOs in Africa. I work with small, grassroots organizations that do what they do in excellence but that also need lots of support. Friends often support UNITE by hosting house parties during which I can speak to their extended networks about the work we do and our beneficiaries, and about the very specific tasks/expertise that we need at that given moment.
  3. They can help spread the word by sending news of UNITE to their friends and colleagues who may be interested in doing hands-on development work in Africa.
  4. They can email me directly at atmwells@gmail.com, and we can brainstorm. I am always open to new ideas and possibilities.

T: Thank you Anne!

A: Karibu sana! (You are most welcome!)

Kudos to Jamie Oliver for Leading the American Food Revolution

Written by Tabby Biddle

“For all the debate lately, one basic fact about America’s health care crisis is rarely mentioned. Namely, the one thing that could really reform health care is you, collectively speaking: People living healthier lives.”

– Steve Lohr, New York Times

As I’ve listened to the health care debate over the last year, my main concern has been the limited focus on preventative medicine. Did you know that studies show that 50 to 70 percent of the nation’s health care costs are preventable? And do you know one of the best ways to prevent disease?

Eating a healthy diet!

Here’s something important to know: This is the first generation of children who aren’t expected to live as long as their parents.

It’s an open secret that kids today are growing up in a soda-filled, carbo-centric, junk food culture. According to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled in the last 30 years (and the numbers keep growing). This increase in obesity has both immediate and long-term health effects for our kids, and our country. For example:

  • Obese kids are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
  • Obese kids are at a greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
  • Obese kids are more likely to become overweight or obese adults, and therefore are more at risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, osteoarthritis, and several types of cancer.
  • Obesity can cut off 10, 12, 15 years or more of one’s life.

Lots of people may be aware of this information, but why hasn’t there been change?

2010-04-02-junkfood_lunch.jpgThe fact is that even if parents are trying to feed their children healthy foods at home, the school lunch programs around the country are feeding them JUNK. French fries and chicken nuggets are school lunch staples. Add to this, the soda and candy vending machines around school serving your children sugar bombs are destined to set them up for diabetes, mood swings, and in my opinion, attention deficit issues.

2010-04-02-JamieOliver.jpg
Jamie Oliver, chef, foodie author and television personality, is now on a mission to change the way America eats. After airing a four-hour television series in the UK aimed at improving school lunches, he got the British government to allocate one billion dollars to revitalize the British school lunch system. The revamped program includes more fresh foods, more local foods, better food standards, and no more junk in the vending machines. Nice work! Now Jamie is on an even bigger mission in the US doing what he calls, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” Through a TV series, recently published book, and his website, he is inviting Americans to take a stand and change the way we eat in our home kitchens, schools and workplaces.

Can he do it?

2010-04-02-MichelleObama.jpgLuckily he’s got First Lady Michelle Obama on the same team. Last month Michelle launched her Let’s Move initiative aimed at solving the childhood obesity epidemic (within one generation!). Let’s Move was designed to get healthier foods in schools, give parents support to make healthier choices for their children, and get families up off the couch and active together. Furthermore, and I think probably the most important aspect of the program, it is focused on getting healthy, affordable food available in every part of the country. Whether we want to talk about it or not, money is a core element of the health equation, and cannot be ignored.

“The culture of supermarkets – buy one get one free, and the bargain deals – is so weighted on the highly processed cheap foods, junk foods, snack foods, and drinks. But also give us some deals on something seasonal and local in America,” said Jamie in an interview with Oprah that aired last Friday, the same day that Food Revolution premiered on primetime ABC.

In my opinion, if our country wants to get itself back on its feet fiscally, health should be our number one priority. Without our health, what we do have? Now is the time to heal the huge disconnect between wanting to be the best country in the world and at the same time abusing our health, which is the very core of who we are. It is time to heal the rift between what we vision in our minds for our future, and what we are actually feeding our bodies in the present.

“Enough is enough,” says Jamie. “The standards in this country are not protecting your kids, and I want mothers and fathers to get angry about this.”

Anger can be a good first step, as long as it fuels the fire for positive action.

As with many things in life, just a little effort can make a massive difference. If you want to make a positive difference in the health of your children and in effect, the health of our country, here are some simple things you can do.

• Shop for your family at your local farmer’s market.
• If you don’t have a local farmer’s market, buy local foods at your grocery store.
• Buy organic as much as possible.
• Take your kids with you to shop for foods and teach them where the foods come from.
• If you have outdoor space, start a vegetable garden with your kids.
• If you already have a garden, involve your kids in it.
• If you have limited outdoor space, consider planting herbs, small lettuces, and cherry tomatoes in window boxes.
• Talk to other parents about the changes you’d like to see in the lunch program at your child’s school.
• Attend PTA meetings and give voice to changes you know need to happen.
• Talk to the school principal to open up dialogue about food at the school.
• Sign Jamie’s petition for fresh foods in school. Jamie will take this petition to the White House to show President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama how many people across the country really care, and ask for their support.

You can get healthy recipes to be used in your child’s school or in your home on Jamie’s website. The LunchBox: Healthy Tools to Help All Schools is also a great resource for healthy menus and recipes.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution can be viewed on Fridays at 9pm/8c on ABC.

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Tabby Biddle, M.S.Ed., is a writer and editor living in Santa Monica, CA. She specializes in women’s issues, personal growth, health and wellness. Her writing has been featured by The Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and other national media.