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.
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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.