42 Things to Do When You’re 42

In my ongoing quest to do what I love despite work, family commitments and not enough hours in the day, I’ve decided to come up with 42 things I’d like to accomplish over the next year.
1. Take my mom to Spain for an unforgettable birthday celebration….Check! We’re heading off in a few days and can’t wait to spend time with my amazing mother.
2. Lose 15 pounds – no this time, I really mean it.
3. Get back to singing more than just once a year.
4. Play tennis with my husband on a regular basis.
5. Take my son away on a special trip.
6. Plan my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and not get stressed out along the way.
7. Girlfriend retreat with my closest friends.
8. Get published in one women’s magazine.
9. Put the gadgetry away when I come home from work.
10. Tell my husband and kids that I love them very much – even though they sometimes drive me nuts.
11. Read at least 10 great books.
12. Go to at least 5 movies by myself.
13. Take my husband to see the Book of Mormon
14. Plan to return to Jake’s Resort in Treasure Beach, Jamaica
15. Plan a mediterranean cruise for my entire family to take place in the next two years.
16. Re-connect with old friends.
17. Call my old friends more often.
18. Don’t let work stress get to me.
19. Learn yoga and clear my head for once.
20. No more Diet Soda!
21. No more splenda!
22. Enjoy drinking water
23. Attempt to jog 1 mile on a treadmill
24. Attempt to jog 1 mile on a road
25. Take dancing lessons with my husband.
26. Get back into fitness classes at my gym
27. Throw one dinner party where I actually cook and don’t cater in.
28. Be comfortable wearing a bathing suit this year.
29. Bat Mitzvah Botox…or Knee Fat Lipo – that is the question?
30. Finally learn how to ski.
31. Travel more with my family – travel less without my family.
32. Surround myself with positive people and purge the pessimists once and for all!
33. Be candid with people who truly piss you off.
34. Pay it forward to givers.
35. Stay away from takers.
36. Volunteer my time to causes I feel truly passionate about.
37. Encourage my kids to give back to the community.
38. Smile more, stress less.
39. Do what I love, love what I do.
40. Convince loved ones in my life to take a leap of faith and do what they love too.
41. Be a cheerleader for those individuals who are truly making a difference in this world.
42. Write about what I love.
So there you have it. Here’s hoping I can stick to my birthday list. Have any things you’d like to accomplish this year? Feel free to share!

Gina Otto: Empowering Women…One Girl at a Time

about-the-book.jpegThe one thing I have learned throughout my journey as a writer, publicist and dreamer is that you never ever give up on what you believe in, no matter how daunting the task may seem. And that’s why, when I got the chance to host a brunch featuring Gina Otto, the author of the new children’s book Cassandra’s Angel
and founder of the brand new Change My World Now website, I instantly learned that no matter how much you’ve achieved in your career, if you’re not using your talents for good, you might as well pack it in and call it a day.
That’s exactly what Gina did just a decade ago. As a top film and television commercial producer, she was truly at the top of her game. Gina worked in film, television and fashion with talented visionaries at Lucasfilm, NBC, CBS and Viacom. But something funny happened on the way to fame, fortune and success. Gina was producing a diet cola commercial and noticed how incredibly thin the young models looked during the shoot. And as she thought about what that image conveyed to young girls, Gina realized that she no longer wanted to build a career centered around sharing negative messages about body image to young women. And so, she quit.
about-gina.jpegLeaving her glamorous Hollywood life behind, Gina began visiting schools where she spoke with tween and teen girls about the issues that they felt were most important in their young lives. Little by little, the students confided their innermost thoughts – sharing their insecurities about body image, the problems they faced with peers, family and much more. The school visits soon turned into a book idea called “Cassandra’s Angel” which sold more than 50,000 copies and eventually became a concept for a musical. And as fate would have it, when Gina set out to do a reading of the play, hundreds of people filled the theater and then asked for a DVD of the performance. Soon, word of the reading spread across the coast to a Broadway producer who invited Gina to New York so that “Cassandra’s Angel” could be developed into a full fledged musical.
Fast forward to this fall where Gina has just embarked on a 20 city nationwide bus tour to promote the launch of “Cassandra’s Angel” with Sterling Books as well as the premiere of Change My World Now, a safe social networking site for tweens that will provide them with the tools they need to make a difference in their community and the world. Take a look at the Change My World Now launch video which has already received over 24,000 views since it debuted last week:

Throughout the next several months, Gina and the cast of her engaging musical will be visiting schools, malls and children’s museums where Gina will be dispensing heartfelt advice and inspiration while sharing readings and musical performances with students, educators and their parents. The goal behind the tour is to get kids to share what’s going on in their communities while offering them the resources and advice they need to effect change in their own hometowns. For more information, visit www.cassandrasangel.com or www.changemyworldnow.com.

Take Back the Kitchen: Black Bean Soup Recipe

Fall is certainly here and cozying up to the dinner table with a hot bowl of soup can end the day ever so nicely. Enjoy this updated classic with the sweetness of agave syrup.
109246.jpgSmoky Black Bean Soup:
Serves 2
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
one cup cooked black beans
1 small chopped onion
1 tsp agave syrup
optional Greek yogurt for garnish and chopped red pepper
Place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and simmer 25 minutes. Serve with a garnish of Greek yogurt and chopped peppers.
For more great recipes, visit Alma Schneider at Take Back the Kitchen.

Walk Yourself Thin with Striiv

110810 Device with Ent.jpgYou know how I’m able to tell that a gadget is a total hit with my family? Simple – when everyone fights over it. That’s exactly what happened when I received Striiv – a super cool device that tracks your footsteps, knows when you’re climbing stairs or running and puts you through challenges that will help make our world a better place.
The great thing about Striiv is that it shows you how walking can lead you to your fitness goals. The first day I tried it out, I took it along with my family on a trip to New York City and within a matter of six hours, I walked more than 10,000 steps – the equivalent of climbing the Eiffel Tower! That’s the great thing about Striiv – it literally compares your strides to climbing mountains or traversing the world’s landmarks. Plus, the more you challenge yourself, the more points and rewards you earn. Sure, they’re virtual rewards but the amazing thing is that Striiv has partnered with GlobalGiving which means that every step you take will lead to a charitable donation.
Striiv retails for $99 and is currently available for purchase on their website.

October 19 Event: Ramp Up Your Financial Smarts

If you live in the tri-state area, you’re invited to a special program, “Especially for Women:  Take Charge of Your Financial Life”–at the White Plains Public Library, 100 Martine Avenue, White Plains, on Weds., Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. Get expert advice on setting personal financial goals, budgeting, investing, insurance, retirement planning, credit, and other important financial topics. The program is free, and refreshments will be served.
imgres-31.jpegOur keynote speaker and expert on investing is Susan Hirshman, author of “Does This Make My Assets Look Fat? A Women’s Guide to Finding Financial Empowerment and Success.” She worked for many years at JP Morgan and prior to that at KPMG. Susan has often been a speaker at Wealth Management Conferences throughout the country, has been quoted in numerous publications (Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Forbes, Kiplinger’s etc), and interviewed on various TV and radio- business news shows (CNBC, CNN, FOX, ABC etc.) Ms. Hirshman is president of the consulting firm SHE Ltd., which focuses on women’s financial literacy and client-financial advisor partnerships.
Deirdre Cosgrove .jpgOur expert on retirement planning and insurance will be Deirdre Cosgrove, an Allstate agent and owner of the Deirdre Cosgrove Agency, Inc., in White Plains, NY. As a successful businesswoman, she helps families prepare a strategy to achieve their financial goals and protect the things that are most important to them–family, home, and car. She is an expert in financial products including IRAs, mutual funds, variable life insurance, and variable annuity products.
solomonalgazi.gifOur panel will also feature Solomon Algazi, a nationally recognized credit education expert and the president and founder of Credit Servicez. He is often employed by the nation’s biggest banks and lenders to teach their customers how to understand and improve credit. His clients include lenders, auto dealerships, insurance brokers, and small business owners all seeking his expertise on their clients’ or their own personal credit problems.
Beth Feldman, founder of RoleMommy.com, an online community for parents, will moderate the panel discussion.
new logo 2008.jpgThe program is sponsored by the White Plains Library Foundation and supported by a grant from The Allstate Foundation to present women’s financial empowerment programs to the community. 
For information, please contact Libby Hollahan, Executive Director, White Plains Library Foundation, 914-422-1495.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

P1090036.JPGMy garden did not exactly work out this year but I did get some nice herbs from my herb garden. Before it gets too cold, pick that basil or just buy it! This pesto is easy and delicious and oh so versatile. Enjoy!
2 cups packed basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cups walnuts
3 small garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a food processor, puree the garlic first. Then add in the walnuts, cheese, basil and oil. Puree until blended and keep scraping down the sides with a spatula. Add salt and pepper to taste and voila!
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit Take Back the Kitchen.

Halloween is Coming!

madeline.jpg Can you believe that Halloween is right around the corner? My kids have been talking about halloween for months, and it’s finally time to get them their costumes. Every year I dread going to one of those costume shops, waiting on line, just to find out they are out of the size I need. Now, there is an easier, and less painful way to get your kids (and perhaps you and your hubby) the perfect Halloween costume. The Amazon Halloween Shop has tons of amazing costumes to choose from. Everything from super heroes, angry birds and animals to princesses, Harry Potter characters and witches! They even have adorable costumes for your pet.
The Amazon Halloween Shop also has a great selection of candy, decorations and trick-or-treating accessories, making it a one-stop-shop for all things Halloween! As always, with many items eligible for Amazon’s fast free shipping options and free returns, even last minute shoppers can skip the long lines and over picked selection at the party store.
Take a look at these adorable pictures and visit the Amazon Halloween Shop for all you need for Halloween! Many costumes are even on sale so check it out today!
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Growing Up Organized

Guest contributor Lorraine Brock shares how childhood prepared her for her career as The Organized Mom
j0430776.jpegWhen I was a little girl my mom often gave family friends a tour of my bedroom. My bedroom was the most organized and clean space in our home and I was the teenager. I remember clearly one year that I had requested my birthday gift to be a room makeover. Thinking the first step was painting the walls, I was told the paint color I chose was off limits. So instead I chose to paint the inside of my reach-in closet; a small space but never-the-less it gave me the freedom to use color.
My decorating skills were good, but what my parents and others saw in me were my incredible organizing skills. I could organize and put together anything. I would plan and organize back to school parties, organize small spaces to hold lots of items, and early on I even started budgeting with my humble allowance. Then one day I decided I wanted to get a job. I walked from my childhood home in Garland, Texas to the main street near my home where many fast food restaurants were located. I walked into my first interview at Long John Silver’s™ without knowing how to prepare or even telling my parents what I was doing. While I did not land that job, I did at the very next interview at Bonanza Steakhouse®.
While walking was my main source of transportation, I decided I would learn how to use the local Dart transit system. I began taking the bus to friends that lived across town and to the mall and at times I even hired a taxi to get me where I needed to be…all using my own money and my own know how.
I had a very healthy home life and my parents gave me a large amount of responsibility around the home even while I worked part-time, attended school, and had extracurricular activities. My responsibilities included all the household laundry, ironing, unloading the dishwasher, gardening, and mowing our entire, extremely large, yard.
Now that I am all grown up, I can look back and see how accepting responsibilities and my upbringing has placed me in a career as a Professional Organizer. I can see the traits starting at a young age that I mirrored from watching my father. He was, and still is, very organized. Dad always worked from a calendar and planned ahead for everything. Even to this day my dad starts thinking of what to purchase as a baby gift for his great grandchild at just the announcement of the pregnancy.
So why are your kids organized….. or not? It might be because of your habits and lifestyle. As parents you play a major role in influencing your children to acquire these skills and habits. Often parents decide that it is easier to do things themselves than to teach their children how to manage responsibilities. Remember that handling responsibilities well as children helps them become responsible adults.
As a busy mom, I need all the help I can get keeping my home picked up, clean and organized, and I want to raise my boys to be young men of honor, courage and yes, to be organized. Given the opportunity, they will figure out with time and practice how to balance the responsibilities with having fun. Set clear expectations, give them the right tools, avoid giving into their complaints, and be upfront with the consequences of not accomplishing their tasks.
Take it from me, whether your child is organizing a lemonade stand, a party, or their room, organizing is an important skill that will follow your child into college, their first apartment, a future home, and their workplace. Instilling this skill in your child will be a great way your child can stand out amongst their peers and create a successful future.
Lorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and president and founder of “Get Organized!” “Get Organized!” is a professional organizing company in the Dallas, Texas area. “Get Organized!” specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes for moms as well as implementing systems in the home for better family management.
Description: Description: LB-EmailBW.jpegA popular media guest, Lorraine has appeared on Dallas’ two top morning television shows: Good Morning Texas and Good Day Fox , and has been featured on various radio outlets. She has been hallmarked in many local, regional, and national print and online magazines, such as the Dallas Morning News, Mercator.net, SheKnows.com, and Daily Candy Kids. Additionally, Lorraine has shared the stage with stars from HGTV and DYI Network at the Great Big Texas Home Show at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. To obtain more information about Lorraine, visit www.GetOrganized.ws.

Good Grades or Good Manners?

09vL19M8coeHq_3258-300x210.jpegThis week, I attended an incredibly eye opening event hosted by NBC Universal called “Power of the Purse.” The brunch, which took place during advertising week in New York City was targeted to moms and featured one of my favorite Role Mommies of all time…Sarah Jessica Parker. SJP was on hand to react to findings of a new study about what is truly weighing on the minds of today’s busy moms.
While the survey shared many important results – including the fact that moms want to be accurately portrayed in the media and feel we’re not or that fathers secretly long to switch roles and become stay at home dads, the statistic that struck me most was the fact that 77% of moms surveyed said they’d rather have a kid with good manners over one with good grades. Even SJP has this to say about her own son, James Wilke:

Untitled from beth Feldman on Vimeo.

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As someone who went through life striving to achieve good grades while having good manners along the way, I have to admit that as a mom, I have witnessed embarrassing behavior from my own kids and from other children too. When either of my kids do something that is inappropriate or rude, we call them out, make them apologize, or take something away from them so that they know we’re not going to stand for that behavior. However, most moms I’ve seen simply cave in so that they don’t have to deal with their kids’ despicable behavior.
Just last week, I was waiting for my daughter to get a haircut, as a woman walked inside with her three children. The kids’ ages ranged from 3-6 years old and as I sat trying to read a magazine, the whine factor was driving me nuts.
“Mommy, why can’t I get something? I never get anything,” wailed a three year old boy.
“What do you mean sweetheart? We just came from the supermarket and I bought lettuce and bananas and all kinds of good things for you and your sisters,” his mother responded.
“But you never get me anything!” He wailed louder and then burst into tears.
Never get you anything? For Pete’s sake, you were in the supermarket with your mother. Every time you step into a store doesn’t mean you’re supposed to get something!
Fast forward to another incident when a mother confided that she didn’t want to take her daughter with her to an important event because she knew she would just be annoying, would complain about being there and frankly, she just didn’t want to deal with her attitude.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve been in those situations when my 12 year old doesn’t want to spend time with us, but at the end of the day, we still make her go. And you know what? When she does, she actually has had a pretty good time. The more we cave into our kids’ demands, the more we are going to find that we are truly raising little monsters. Entitled kids who tell us to jump and we bow to their every demand and ask, “How high?”
Frankly, I don’t want to play that game anymore. I want my kids to do the right thing. To respect others. To look out for one another and to stand up for those who aren’t being treated right. But the more that parents continue to put up with the whining, the demands and complaints without sending them to their room to reflect on their deplorable behavior, the more that behavior will only get worse. Fast forward just one decade and watch what is currently unfolding in the workforce.
If you’ve been working for more than two decades like me, I’m sure you’ve begun to notice that there’s an entire generation of college grads today who have some of the worst manners I have ever experienced. Raised with a sense that they could do no wrong, many of today’s millenials continually question authority or blatantly tell their bosses that they don’t agree with the direction they’ve been given. Sure, we’ve had years of experience under our belts, but in the eyes of many kids who came of age in the world of Mark Zuckerberg, we are dinosaurs who have no clue. Frankly, many of these kids have bad manners who are singlehandedly taking down successful businesses with their laissez faire attitudes. If they don’t like a job, they quit within a matter of months. If they don’t agree with their boss, they will argue until they think they’ve been heard. And if they believe they have been treated poorly, they will gossip and complain to anyone who will listen.
I don’t know about you, but frankly, I don’t want to raise a child who disrespects authority, has no regard for others and is so ego driven that they never look out for anyone but themselves. I want my kids to get those good grades, but more importantly, I want to raise my children just like Sarah Jessica Parker – I want them to be good citizens.
I do have to say that this year, I had a really nice conversation with one of my son’s teachers. We were at “Meet the Teacher” night and it just so happened that my daughter had the same teacher just three years ago. I remember her being lovely and supportive and my daughter truly enjoyed being a student in her class. As we gave one another a hug, she said something that truly made me smile.
“I don’t know what you’re doing Mrs. Feldman, but all I can say is keep doing it. You’re children are such nice kids. It’s truly a pleasure to have them in my class.”
Now if that’s not an instant A, I don’t know what is.