If Women Ran the World, Sh*t Would Get Done now a Spirited Woman Top 12 Holiday Book Pick!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Affirmative Therapy Products: An Interview with Donna McCullough and Barbara Klein-Robuck

Donna McCullough, PhD received her Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology in 1994 from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She has a private practice in Laguna Hills, CA. Donna has a special interest in spirituality and psychology, and she incorporates mindfulness and meditation into her work with clients. She also worked at the UCSD Alzheimer's Disease Research Center as Senior Psychometrist.

Barbara Klein-Robuck, MS, RN is a Board Certified Holistic Nurse with an MS in Health Care Administration. At her San Juan Capistrano, CA home office, she empowers clients using a unique combination of healing energy modalities: Therapeutic Touch, Jin Shin Jyutsu and Integrative Imagery. She was named Holistic Nurse of the Year by the American Holistic Nurses Association. Barbara is also a case manager in private practice for workers' compensation and long term care insurance clients.

Recently, Donna and Barbara combined their expertise and co-founded Affirmative Therapy Products ©. As my parents still spend a good part of their day caring for my brother (who was born with a disability thirty-three years ago), I was excited to learn more.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about Affirmative Therapy Products.

Donna McCullough and Barbara Klein-Robuck: Affirmative Therapy Products © or ATP are audio CDs with positive messages and inspirational music (specially composed by Mark Romero – http://www.markromeromusic.com/) that support and acknowledge you. The Affirmative Therapy for Caregivers CD is for family and facility caregivers. The positive messages on this CD affirm the importance of their nurturing role and help reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and fatigue sometimes experienced with care giving. Caregivers are reminded of the healing potential of their loving presence. The Affirmative Therapy for Memory and Cognitive Challenges CD affirms health and well being as well as the ability to get along with others. The positive messages on this CD help reduce agitation and increase receptivity to redirection. Both CDs have been referred to as "Respite in a CD."

Shelly Rachanow: What inspired you to develop them?

Donna McCullough and Barbara Klein-Robuck: A series of coincidences unfolded which inspired us to develop ATP. To begin with, Donna's step-father, Pat, had been struggling with Alzheimer's disease for a couple of years. As is typical of someone in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, Pat was experiencing low self-esteem and depression related to his cognitive decline. Donna mentioned Pat's diagnosis to a mutual friend who suggested that she talk to Barbara, who had some information that might be useful.

Barbara had just read about the work of Barbara Derrick, PhD in a newsletter from AHHA (American Holistic Health Association - http://www.ahha.org/). Dr. Derrick had arranged for Alzheimer's patients in a large residential care facility to listen to a positive affirmation CD to bolster their self-esteem and improve the quality of their lives. She used a similar CD for caregivers to support them in their role as caregiver.

Dr. Derrick's research showed that patients who listened to the CD were more cooperative and easier to re-direct than those who did not listen to the CD. Facility caregivers who listened to the CD daily for six months reported greater job satisfaction and their absenteeism dropped from 33% to 3%.

Shelly Rachanow: Being a caregiver for someone, be it professionally or as a friend or family member, can be an incredibly emotional and challenging experience. What’s the best way we can support loved ones who are facing a health issue, and also the people who care for them?

Donna McCullough and Barbara Klein-Robuck: One way to support a loved one who is struggling with a health challenge (or a caregiver to someone with a health challenge) is to be fully present with them with an open heart as they experience various emotions, thoughts, and reactions to their situation. It can be uncomfortable to talk with someone that you love about how they are suffering. Often times it seems better to distract a person from their negative feelings or to minimize these feelings.

However, this does not make the feelings disappear; it just pushes them out of their awareness. It then takes a lot of energy to keep the feelings suppressed, and this energy might be better used to help the person heal (either physically or emotionally). Instead, if you want to provide support to either a caregiver or a patient; start by taking a deep breath, relaxing your chest and opening your own heart. Then ask the person how they are feeling (both physically and emotionally) and listen in order to understand what they are experiencing.

The nature of feelings is for them to pass through a person and it is only by allowing the feelings to come to the surface that they can pass. As our caregiver CD states, "You are a loving presence in the life of this person. Your loving presence has a healing effect on them." By opening your heart and accepting them where they are, you are providing them with the space in which they may begin to heal.

Shelly Rachanow: The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging estimates that anywhere from 2.4 million to 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer’s Disease. Tell us more about how Affirmative Therapy Products can help memory and cognition.

Donna McCullough and Barbara Klein-Robuck: Both our Affirmative Therapy for Caregivers CD and our Affirmative Therapy for Memory and Cognitive Challenges CD provide the listener with respite from the worry, disappointment, sadness and fatigue of dealing with a health challenge. This can help to alleviate anxiety and depression, both of which contribute to difficulties with concentration and memory. So by helping a person to feel better about themselves and their situation, they might be able to function better cognitively.

In addition, the body is capable of healing itself in many ways. Providing the right kind of environment (i.e., low stress) can help the immune system, the autonomic system and other parts of the body to function better.

Shelly Rachanow: What kind of benefits have people experienced from your CDs?

Donna McCullough and Barbara Klein-Robuck: Dr. Barbara Derrick's research results show that patients with advanced forms of Alzheimer's dementia demonstrated improvements in their ability to cooperate with others, are less agitated, and are easier to redirect. We conducted a similar study at a local Board and Care facility. Although we did not have a no-treatment control group, our results replicate Dr. Derrick's findings. Caregivers in our study report that the residents were calmer and more cooperative.

In the early stages of his Alzheimer’s disease, Donna's step-father, Pat said that listening to the CD helped improve his self esteem and alleviated his depression. In later stages it helped reduce agitation, restlessness and helped him stay calmer.

The research shows that professional caregivers who listen to the CDs feel more satisfied with the work they are doing and they have a lower rate of absenteeism. Our family caregivers report that they feel more energized and less depressed after listening to the CDs. Clearly this approach is a cost-effective therapeutic tool!

Shelly Rachanow: And last, the 'If Women Ran the World Blog' question for everyone - What would you do if you ran the world?

Donna McCullough and Barbara Klein-Robuck: If we ran the world we would ask each person to consider why we are at war with each other instead of feeding each other? We would ask people to take an honest look and ask themselves why they hold resentments and judgments towards people in their lives, even friends and loved ones? We would educate people about why this happens, including an understanding that this kind of behavior stems from fear (See the book The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer for more information).

We would educate people further about opening their hearts and trusting the process of life. For more information about opening the heart, please see the article by Dr. McCullough called “Caring From the Heart” that was originally published on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room blog http://www.alzheimersreadingroom.com/. We would also ask people to consistently and consciously focus their awareness on the present moment and meet life as it is. We would ask them to open their hearts wide for all of the world. We would ask them to imagine what it would be like to walk into work (or come home from work) and hear, “Oh hi, it's so nice to see you! You are so special to me and I am really glad that you are in my life!” Just imagine how good that would feel.

Now, as Nike says, "Just Do It!”

To learn more about these wonderful products and to listen to a sample of the CDs, visit http://www.affirmativetherapyproducts.com/ or contact:

Barbara Klein-Robuck, MS, RN, 949-493-2534, barbarakr@aol.com, http://www.bkrwellness.com/

Donna McCullough, PhD, 949-246-7724, donnamccullough@cox.net

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

MommyBest: An Interview with Donna Scrima-Black

Donna Scrima-Black is an author and a mom. Her first book, MommyBest: 13 Inspirational Lessons Derek & Dylan’s Mom (and maybe yours) Never Learned in School, was nominated as a finalist in ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards in 2009. MommyBest was truly a labor of love for Donna, taking over ten years to piece together, using any spare moments she could find while raising her boys and juggling part-time work freelance writing and helping families with Educational Advocacy issues.

Before having children, Donna was a successful Advertising Sales Representative for several years. Seeking to make the world a better place and longing for fulfillment in her daily work, she went back to school to earn a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. She taught fourth-grade for several years in the suburbs of New York, before starting her own family. Her greatest and most challenging endeavor is raising her “two boys, her two joys.”

Shelly Rachanow: I’m not a mom yet, but I definitely think being a mom is both the hardest and most important job on the planet. Tell us what inspired your book, MommyBest.

Donna Scrima-Black: The birth of MommyBest: 13 Inspirational Lessons Derek & Dylan’s Mom (and maybe yours) Never Learned in School is a tribute to my two boys, my two joys: Derek and Dylan. It’s also my way of shouting out to the world: “Hey, do you women out there feel the same as I do, blown away by the transformative journey you’ve taken into motherhood? What happens to the carefully laid-out life itinerary plans once we have children? Like me, do you need to connect with other moms about traveling into these unchartered waters, often losing your way? Do you need some Cliffs Notes and a way to share your thoughts about discovering which choices make the most sense for you to live the life you and your family so desire?”

Until a woman becomes a mom, there’s no way of truly understanding the intense and complex set of emotions that exist, the challenges we encounter in making difficult choices and ways to navigate through the social environment we moms encounter. There are so many lessons for moms today which, if shared early, can truly sustain them in raising their children as they grow into adulthood. Ultimately we discover a woman needs to be her personal best on her journey to becoming her MommyBest!

Shelly Rachanow: What do you think are the biggest challenges moms face today?

Donna Scrima-Black: There are many challenges that moms today face, some similar to those of our own mothers and some very different ones.

A major challenge that women continue to struggle with is staying “true” to who they are, regardless of the social norms that exist. For example, I’ve met many older women who shared they wished they had the career opportunities afforded women today because they weren’t fulfilled as “stay-at-home” moms. Yet, they never rebelled, often feeling trapped by what others would think if they challenged traditional norms.

In contrast, our generation has so many choices that it can be overwhelming! After graduating college during the 80’s, I was bombarded by numerous career opportunities. In stark contrast to my own mother’s wish to get married and raise children, I wanted to travel the world and, with a little luck, become famous at “something.” Most of all, I was determined to emerge as an independent woman, able to make her own decisions and pay her own bills. Hence, getting married and having children was not on my immediate to-do list.

Instead, I planned measurable career goals, often exhausting myself in order to achieve them and impress others. It took many experiences and lessons to connect with who I truly was and what MY dreams are – and then seek to live them! I ultimately discovered becoming independent means constantly evolving and making choices that reflect who I am – at any given moment of my life.

Some major challenges women today face center on finding a support network for the difficult choices we make. Families often live states away from each other, instead of in the same neighborhood – which now, in many cases, have been replaced by “developments.” Plus, women often don’t support each other regarding which winning recipe creates the coveted magical life: pursuing a career, full-time motherhood or combining the two? Adding more rift to the divide that already exists is the often spoken about fallacy of women “having it all” – as if such a state of being even exists – and why isn’t this expression a height which men aspire to reach?

I believe each of us has it all when we find a unique balance that works for today in fulfilling our individual dreams along with those of our families.

Shelly Rachanow: How do you want your book to help moms in their everyday lives?

Donna Scrima-Black: This book is designed for “Everyday” moms and aspiring moms who are the real “Superstars” in changing the lives of those they touch! Even Oprah says Motherhood is the “hardest job” she’s never done! I’m hoping that MommyBest puts a smile on women’s faces because they feel a connection, a sisterhood, if you will, knowing someone has “come out of the kitchen” with truths we all share.

MommyBest is a quick, spirited read providing a unique format of Lesson + Memoir + Reader Reflection Page. It was designed with the understanding that women have little time, so they can read the lessons in any order, whichever seems relevant at the time, and then use the Reader Reflection Page to jot down their own responses to one day use as a springboard, if they so choose, to create their own family story. The topics range from dealing with children growing-up so quickly, to parenting opposite children, to what it was like to be an identical twin (the book includes suggestions to help parents of multiples) to the importance of nurturing a child’s relationship with “Grandma.”

It is my intent for MommyBest to leave an imprint on the reader’s mind so that she will reflect/assess/adjust her choices and the consequences of each in helping to create a happy and balanced life; to encourage women to surround themselves with a network of people who will support the difficult decisions we make; to cherish being a mother and define what that means specific to our own lives; and possibly, the most significant, is to create a universal paradigm shift of our cultural view of women so our society, in its entirety, pays homage to all mothers for their daily contributions on behalf of their family’s well being.

Shelly Rachanow: I definitely agree a paradigm shift is needed! On your website, you make a really important point when you say, “Today, more than ever, women need to rally together. Unlike ‘older times’ when Mom's had relatives and neighborly friends close by, we are often isolated and bombarded by an overload of career and domestic choices to make and responsibilities to take on.” As someone who lives 3,000 miles from her family, I completely agree with this. What advice do you have for women and moms who are feeling isolated and overwhelmed?

Donna Scrima-Black: Moms and women in general who feel isolated and overwhelmed can find comfort in seeking a network of people who do support the triumphs and struggles women face. If there isn’t family close by, a mom can join a parent support group or “Mommy & Me” type of class. It’s important to note that some of the people we meet through these venues will be acquaintances for only the duration of the shared activity; others may remain friendly for many years; and a few relationships will amazingly develop into wonderful and lasting friendships. So, don’t discount anyone because all different levels of connections will help us grow in wondrous ways!

I share a lesson in my book about the importance of remaining connected to at least one friend who knew you as a child, then as a woman, before ever knowing you as a mother. This shared history provides a strong foundation for me! Sometimes, I go out with my childhood girlfriend who doesn’t have any of her own children. I get a break from talking about my mommy stuff, and my friend and I often act like our shoe size rather than our age.

E-mail communication and social networking sites like Facebook enable us to connect with peers from high school, create a stronger bond with some and get to know others we never befriended during those school days. For example, people from my high school are now connecting and sharing their successes as well as their hardships – and all different personalities who weren’t friendly back then – are now connecting, reminiscing and planning reunions. So, there are plenty of opportunities to reach out.

Shelly Rachanow: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned that you want to share with other moms?

Donna Scrima-Black: The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a mom is to trust my “Mother’s Instinct” regarding any and all decisions that have to do with my children. During my first pregnancy, I had to change obstetricians a few months before my delivery date because my doctor became affiliated with a different hospital. I never felt comfortable with the new obstetrician, yet my husband assured me he was well regarded and had impressive credentials. Hence, I ignored many of the uneasy feelings I had when I was around him.

During my delivery, complications ensued, and I developed a fever. Derek’s heart rate had to be monitored. The situation intensified when an emergency vacuum delivery was performed, and the doctor regrettably forgot to remove the fetal baby monitor clip, attached to Derek’s skull. The monitor clip had pierced his head and left quite a large hole, which the nurses immediately X-Rayed. Our son was placed in the Special Care Nursery for weeks before miraculously healing. Through my tears, I had to sign consent forms for tests to be done, including a Spinal Tap. As I wrote the word, Mother, for the very first time beside the phrase Relationship to Patient I prayed to never again second guess my Mother’s Instinct in guiding my son and I on our future journey through Life.

Shelly Rachanow: That’s a really great lesson…for all of us! And last, the 'If Women Ran the World Blog' question for everyone - What would you do if you ran the world?

Donna Scrima-Black: If I ran the world, I would ask every fortunate mom to help another mom in need. Since our first son had a “rough journey” into this world and miraculously healed, my husband and I agreed we would focus on the magical moments of parenting. In my quest to become my MommyBest, it’s my intention to donate a portion of the profits from MommyBest to charities/organizations devoted to empowering families less fortunate. In this way, I am doing what I ask all mothers to do: help other moms/families in need reach their full potential.

Thus far, I have worked with several schools to do fundraisers to help members in the local community! It’s my desire for all fortunate women – and men – and businesses to extend a helping hand to those in need. When I learn of famous people paying thousands of dollars to get their hair styled, I’m “blown” away because we have so many hungry people, especially little kids on the streets. Ultimately, I want to get on the Oprah and Bill O’Reilly Shows (from O to O) to help me spread the word and work with other moms to better the lives of children.

For more information:

Visit http://www.mommybestbook.com/ or the MommyBest Book page on Facebook

Email Donna at dscrima@mommybestbook.com.

MommyBest can be purchased at http://www.mommybestbook.com/, barnesandnoble.com, and Amazon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Interview with Melanie Joy, Ph.D

Melanie Joy, Ph. D., is a psychologist, professor, and author who teaches psychology and sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She has also authored numerous articles on psychology, animal advocacy, and social justice, which have been published in academic and popular journals and magazines. She has been interviewed for magazines, books, and radio on her work, including the prestigious Le Scienze, the Italian edition of Scientific American and National Public Radio.

Melanie’s groundbreaking new book, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, explores the invisible system that shapes our perception of the meat we eat, so that we love some animals and eat others without knowing why. Unlike the many books that explain why we shouldn't eat meat, Joy's book explains why we do eat meat – and thus how we can make more informed choices as citizens and consumers. Melanie’s book has received some amazing reviews, including a feature on Ellen DeGeneres’ site earlier this year!

While I’m not currently a vegetarian, I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about the connection between our diet and our health, after one of my best friends passed away from colon cancer in April. I was really excited to discuss this fascinating topic with Melanie.

Shelly Rachanow: When did you first become interested in exploring our relationship with animals?

Melanie Joy: Like many Americans, I grew up with a dog who I loved like a family member. And like most Americans, I grew up eating meat, often multiple times a day. I never thought how strange it was that I could pet my dog while I ate my hamburger without recognizing the profound inconsistencies in my attitudes and behaviors toward animals. I had that “knowing without knowing” – on one level, I was aware that whenever I sat down to a meal of meat an animal had to die for my plate. Yet on another level I preferred not to know, not to connect the dots. So I lived with an internal, largely unconscious, moral discomfort; there was a gap in my consciousness when it came to eating meat. It was my experience of becoming aware of this gap, and working to close it, that led me to explore our relationship with animals and, ultimately, to write my book.

Shelly Rachanow: What do you want people to understand about carnism?

Melanie Joy: Carnism is the invisible belief system that conditions us to eat (certain) animals. This system has a profound impact on our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and values; it’s the invisible hand that guides us when we eat meat and other animal products. Essentially, carnism teaches how not to feel; it blocks our awareness and empathy toward the animals we eat by maintaining the gap in our consciousness. For instance, consider how you might feel if you were told that the lamb stew you’d just eaten was actually kitten stew. Even though lambs, like kittens, are babies, chances are you’d be disgusted at the idea of eating baby cats while you’re not disgusted at the idea of eating baby sheep—simply because you’ve been conditioned from the moment you were weaned not to think or feel when you’re served certain kinds of meat.

Carnism is the reason humane people can participate in inhumane practices without realizing what they’re doing. The whole system is set up to keep us from thinking for ourselves; when it comes to eating animals, most of us don’t even realize we’re making a choice, following the dictates of a deeply ingrained belief system. We’ve been taught that it’s only vegetarians who bring their beliefs to the dinner table. But when eating animals isn’t a necessity (as is the case in the majority of the world today), it is a choice—and choices always stem from beliefs.

I want people to become aware of carnism—how it’s structured, the mechanisms it uses to perpetuate itself—so that they can make their choices freely. Because without awareness, there is no free choice.

Shelly Rachanow: Why did you write this book?

Melanie Joy: I wrote my book because carnism hurts all of us: animals, humans, and the environment. Meat, egg, and dairy production cause extensive, intensive, and unnecessary animal suffering; consumption of animal products is a leading cause of disease and death in the western world; and animal agribusiness is the number one cause of global environmental degradation. And carnism will continue to thrive until enough people can step outside of the system to see through their own eyes, rather than through the eyes of carnism.

I wanted to write a book that would appeal to meat eaters, a book not simply about why people shouldn’t eat meat, but why they do eat meat. I wanted a book that would invite meat eaters into the conversation rather than preach at them. I wanted people to understand the specific psychological and social defense mechanisms carnism uses to maintain itself, so that they could be less vulnerable to these defenses and more likely to become conscientious objectors to the system.

I wrote my book because people need and deserve to know the truth—not just the truth about meat production, but the truth about carnism—so they can make choices that are in the best interest of themselves, animals, and the planet.

Shelly Rachanow: Do you think it’s unnatural for people to eat meat, even though we’ve done so for centuries?

Melanie Joy: It’s true that we’ve eaten meat for centuries, but it’s also true that never in the history of humankind have we eaten anywhere near the amount or type of animal products we consume today; there’s absolutely nothing natural about contemporary meat production and consumption. And there’s an ongoing debate about whether humans are natural herbivores or omnivores.

But I think we need to examine the true meaning of this question—which I’m very glad you asked. More often than not, the question of whether it’s natural to eat animals is actually a question of whether it’s justifiable to eat them. We’ve been taught that if eating animals is “natural” then we are justified in continuing to do so. We see eating animals as something we’re “meant” to do and can therefore give ourselves permission not to reflect on the ethics of our actions. In other words, we end up viewing meat eating as a given rather than a choice.

So we need to be careful to distinguish between natural and justifiable. Consider, for instance, how murder, rape, infanticide, and cannibalism are as longstanding and therefore as “natural” as eating animals, and yet we don’t invoke the history of these acts as a justification for them. I think a more productive way of looking at the issue of eating animals is not whether we’ve eaten them historically, but whether meat consumption is necessary. And for the vast majority of us (the exception being those without the economic means to make their food choices freely), we don’t eat meat because we need to; we eat meat because we choose to.

Shelly Rachanow: What is one thing you’d like readers to take away from your book?

Melanie Joy: My hope is that readers will become aware of facts that can change their lives and help change our world. I want readers to leave my book with an awareness of a truth that had been hidden from them. Much of the power carnism has over us is due to its invisibility; unveiling carnism empowers us to step outside the system, and stepping outside the system is like waking from a dream.

Shelly Rachanow: And last, the “If Women Ran the World Blog” question for everyone: What would you do if you ran the world?

Melanie Joy: Oh, wow. That’s a tough one! I honestly wouldn’t want to run the world, so it’s a bit difficult to imagine being in that situation. But if I somehow found myself in this position, I think the first thing I’d do is surround myself with people from diverse cultures and disciplines, with diverse viewpoints and experiences. These people would be committed to their own integrity and would espouse the qualities I believe are fundamental to the kind of world I’d be proud to say I’d had a hand in shaping—qualities that are, perhaps not surprisingly, the opposite of those carnism is based on. So together we’d work to shape a global paradigm based on empathy rather than apathy, compassion rather than complacency, awareness rather than ignorance, authenticity rather than dishonesty. I’d want to help create a world that encourages all human beings to become their highest selves, a world that doesn’t need anyone to run it.

To learn more about Melanie’s work, visit her at http://www.melaniejoy.org/.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Change the World, Change Your Life: An Interview with Angela Perkey

18,000 children die of hunger every day. By 2030, there will be no glaciers left in Glacier National Park. 47 million Americans do not have health insurance. From job loss and foreclosures to global warming and poverty, it’s hard not to feel powerless in the face of such depressing news. Yet, many young people today are more eager than ever to get involved, to do something to improve the world. They crave meaningful lives that are worth remembering.

Angela Perkey is the founder of Students Serve, a national nonprofit that awards service grants to college students. Students Serve has been mentioned or featured in several publications, including the Chronicle of Higher Education and USA Today.

Angela’s book, Change the World, Change Your Life, which was published earlier this year by Conari Press, shows young people how to get involved and effectively address the problems they care most about, from their own backyard to the world stage. It provides a kind of blueprint for being of service and includes several pages of links to practical resources for starting a non-profit or other service agency.

I had the privilege of speaking with Angela recently about ways each of us can be of service in the world.

Shelly Rachanow: I know you believe, as I do, that each of us has the power to change the world. Why do you believe this is so?

Angela Perkey:  Even the smallest things we do on a daily basis can impact the life of someone else. Smiling at a stranger and taking the time to talk with the grocery cashier can turn their days around. You never know what someone else has been going through, and this is just a small example. The effect that you can have on the lives of others through service and by giving financial contributions to solve world problems is vast.

Shelly Rachanow: What prompted you to found Students Serve?

Angela Perkey:  As a college student several years ago, I became frustrated in classes because we were coming up with new and realistic plans for solving the problems that my classmates and I were learning about in textbooks. However, few of us could use our ideas to improve communities because we didn't have the basic funding that was necessary. In many cases we only needed a couple hundred dollars. Because few students could use their skills and ideas to improve the world due to lack of funding, I decided to launch Students Serve. The nonprofit provides grants that empower students across America to use their education to benefit communities.

Shelly Rachanow: Why did you decide to write Change the World, Change Your Life?

Angela Perkey:  It was during my last year at the College of William and Mary. People from students to professors to senior citizens kept asking how to start a nonprofit and how they could make an impact, so that’s why I wrote the book.

Shelly Rachanow:  What’s the best way to start making a difference to help solve a world problem?

Angela Perkey:  None of us can ‘save the world’ by solving every problem out there, so because of this it’s really important to first take a step back and figure out the one or two issues that you’re most passionate about. Then you can identify how to plug in and contribute your skills and talents.

Shelly Rachanow:  How can we improve upon traditional ways of serving our communities and providing funding to charities?

Angela Perkey:  Instead of doing traditional volunteer work that might not use the unique abilities and skills that you have, think about what your natural gifts are. If you’re great at teaching young children, you can volunteer with a literacy group. If you know Spanish or another language, volunteer to help an ESL adult learn English. If accounting is your passion, help senior adults file their taxes. This multiplies the impact that your efforts can have.

Shelly Rachanow:  For people who want to start giving back, what are some easy steps they can take to begin the process?

Angela Perkey:  Reading the newspaper, watching the news, and staying up-to-date online are important so that you can know what our world’s most pressing problems are. Once you narrow all of these problems down to a couple that you’re passionate about, see if any local nonprofit organizations or churches are doing anything to make a difference in this area. Contact them and ask how you can contribute your skills.

Shelly Rachanow:  And last, the "If Women Ran the World Blog" question for everyone: What would you do if you ran the world?

Angela Perkey:  So many things! However, the first thing on my agenda would be to make sure that everyone is employed in a job that uses their skills in a productive way and also pays a wage that is fair - not too much or too little. This might seem surprising, but I believe that when people are able to contribute to society through their work, they value themselves, other people, and their communities. And with adequate compensation they can provide for their families and also give to others.

To learn more, visit Angela’s website, http://www.changetheworldchangeyourlife.com/.