Sunday, July 31, 2011

An Army of One

Let's face it, everyone is not on team positivity. When you decide to go after a lifelong dream or a more recently conceived goal, not everyone will be wishing you the best. Maybe you have decided to go back to school, change jobs, start your own small business, etc. Unfortunately, when you excitedly share these hopes with your friends or family they may not always see your vision the way you do. They may voice opinions that leave you feeling inadequate. This is when you have to become an army of one.

In his article, "5 Ways Your Negative Friends Can Drag You Down" Robert Pagliarini helps readers to recognize when people are trying to sabotage their goals, and offers a way to overcome the criticisms.

In the end, Pagliarini tells us that we must not allow the negativity of others to keep us from our dreams. Whether they say that we aren't good enough for what we want, that our plans won't work, or that they think our ideas are plain old dumb, we must push forward. If that doesn't work we could also do as Pagliarini says in his article, "When You Should Breakup With Your Mother" and breakup with negative friends.

Growing up I used to hear a saying often that said, "Not everyone can go where you are going." That is never more true than when you attempt to improve your life.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Love Your Body Contest

If you speak with almost any woman she will tell you that there is some part of her  body that she doesn't like. Many people blame the media for their portrayal of women as inadequate because of their body size, skin color, or hair type. The pictures on the fronts of magazines are often unrealistic and unattainable for the average woman which leaves her feeling like she is not enough just as she is.

The National Organization for Women Foundation is looking to break this cycle by holding the 2012 Love Your Body Campaign and Poster Contest. For the contest you must create a poster that is graphically appealing that opposes the current idea of beauty plastered on every magazine on the newsstand. The winner will receive $200 and will have his or her poster featured on the web, at Love Your Body events, and displayed in schools, and other public places.

For all of the artist out there, now is the time to use your talents to make a difference in the lives of girls and women everywhere.

Visit the Love Your Body site for more information on the contest today!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jesi Lea Ryan -Interview

Yesterday I posted my review of Jesi Lea Ryan's new novel "Four Thousand Miles". Today I have the pleasure of bringing you my interview with Jesi. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

KP: Have you always wanted to be a writer? Was there ever a time when that writing dream was deferred?

Jesi:  I remember wanting to be a writer as a child.  In fact, I published a children's book when I was eight years old called Grump: The Skump Who Ate Liver.  (Don't worry; no one else has heard of it either.)  But as I grew older, I didn't think a career in writing was practical.  I grew up in a poor family, and I thought that limited my options.  I sort of thought the only people who could be writers were those with families who could help support them until they made their way.  I majored in Creative Writing and Literature in college, because I was interested in it, not because I thought it would lead to a career.  After college, I entered the insurance industry and gave up writing for about a decade.  In 2009, my insurance position was downsized, and I suddenly found myself at a crossroads.  After plenty of discussion with my husband, I decided to give writing a shot.

KP: On your website you share that you lost your job in 2009, how did you find the courage to use that seemingly bad situation as a catalyst for your writing career.

Jesi: I think in general, I am a positive person.  Of course I felt bad about losing my job, because I loved it, but rather than dwelling on what I couldn't have, I decided to look ahead to new opportunities.  I treated myself to a one day pity-party.  I took one day off work to cry and throw things and curse the unfairness of it all.  Then, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and made the decision to move on.  I always wanted to try to write a novel, so that is what I set myself on course to do.

KP:  How did the idea for "Four Thousand Miles" come to you? What do you hope readers take away from the book?

Jesi:  Shortly before losing my job, my husband and I went on vacation to England.  I completely fell in love with the place!  Anyway, we were staying at Elvey Farm, a bed & breakfast in Kent (, and I began to day dream about how wonderful it would be to abandon my life in the States and stay there permanently.  Again, I'm too practical to actually do that, but I could create a fictional character to runaway to England for me. 

Most readers would see Four Thousand Miles as an escapist read, and it is, but if I were to attach a higher moral lesson to it that I want readers to take away from the book, I'd say that life is not a straight line.  Sometimes it gets off track and sends you into new directions.  Rather than getting depressed and scared about it, look at it as a new opportunity.

KP: What lessons have you learned about life through the writing and publishing of this book? What lessons have you learned about yourself?

Jesi: If someone wants to be a writer, they need to view writing as a reward in itself.  You can't count on getting rich or famous or on the bestseller list, and you have to be okay with that.  What have I learned about myself?  I really like being able to wear pajamas all day.  :)

KP: Why do you think so many people wait so long to change the direction of their lives, even when their current circumstances aren't working?

Jesi: I think most people are scared of change.  They don't have enough self-confidence to take chances.  I guess I understand that, but I can't relate at all.  I've just never been that way.  I see life as a journey.  It's too short to waste in an unhappy marriage, a dead-end job or stuck in your hometown. 

KP:  Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start over, or go after their second chance?

Jesi: Change can be scary and uncomfortable, but really, what is the worst that can happen?  I know that no matter what, I will not starve.  I will not lose the love of the people who matter most to me.  If all else fails, my mother has a room in her basement for me, my husband and my two kitties, so I will never be homeless.  If people just focus on the positive advantages to change rather then all of the "what if's," some really great things might happen.

You can follow Jesi on twitter @Jesilea.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Four Thousand Miles

Four Thousand Miles
Jesi Lea Ryan
DCL Publications, LLC 2010. 431pp. $2.95

 "Four Thousand Miles" the debut novel by Jesi Lea Ryan begins with Natalie Spencer facing the worst day of her life. Without any notice she loses her job and  finds out that her marriage has been based on a lie. Without any where else to turn, Natalie decides to run away from it all . Using her severance pay she escapes to England. There she meets a kind stranger, Gavin Ashby, who shows Natalie that  her life is not over, but instead it is just beginning.

At over 400 pages this novel gives readers a sweeping view of England, and Ireland. Ryan manages to weave in some of everything from history to music into this modern day fairytale. This book is perfect for anyone who loves a wholesome romance that takes its time to develop. The reader is allowed to savor every moment, and see the world through Natalie's experiences.

I would have preferred the book have  a few more plot twists, but overall this is a strong debut from Jesi Lea Ryan.

If you have ever dreamed of running away and starting your life over then this is the book for you.

*The author provided a copy of  "Four Thousand Miles" for me to review.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Question of the Week

In his article, "A College Education for All, Free and Online"  Kevin Carey discusses a new university called University of the People  which offers online, tuition-free degrees. Created by Shai Reshef a successful educational entrepreneur, the school charges only minimal fees and provides people from all around the world with an opportunity to learn.

The school was founded in 2009 and since then has garnered a lot of attention. Schools such as NYU now accept transfer students from University of the People and the school even has a former top administrator from Columbia as its Provost, David Harris Cohen. Currently the school is seeking accreditation in America.

Would you ever attend a college that was free? Do you believe your degree would have the same value as one from a college that costs $40,000 + per year? Do you think more colleges will begin to offer free classes, and degrees?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Foundation for Global Scholars

Studying abroad is often the most exciting part of a student's college career. Getting to live, and learn in countries such as Malaysia, New Zealand, and Thailand while earning academic credit seems almost too good to be true. Yet every year thousands of American students spend at least a full semester abroad.

Foundation for Global Scholars has created several scholarship opportunities that will make it that much easier for students of any age to see the world. Each scholarship requires students to be enrolled in a North American college or university where transfer credit from a program abroad will be accepted. The awards range from $500-$2,000 dollars.

Check out the website to see the various scholarships offered, and how to apply here.  Traveling abroad does not have to remain only a dream. Apply today.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


We have all seen the calls to volunteer on shows like Oprah. Millions of lives have been changed thanks to the hearts and hard work of people who simply want to make a difference.

Have you ever thought of volunteering but didn’t know where to begin? Perhaps your passion is teaching adults to read, feeding sick children, making blankets for foster children, re-building houses in disaster areas, or raising money for clean water in third world countries. Whatever your goal you can find a volunteer opportunity that is right for you.

VolunteerMatch is a place where you can go to find hundreds of volunteer opportunities around the country and abroad. The website matches your skills and goals with volunteer projects.

Darlene Grieger is an 80-year-old woman who as a birthday present to herself spent 12 weeks in Costa Rica working in an orphanage. She says it was one of the best things she has ever done in her life. You can read about her experience here.

Go over to VolunteerMatch and see where your help is needed. It's never too late to make a difference.