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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Joy Factor: An Interview with Dr. Susan Smith Jones

For a woman with three of America’s most ordinary names, Dr. Susan Smith Jones has certainly made extraordinary contributions in the fields of holistic health, optimum nutrition, anti-aging and balanced, joyful living. For starters, she taught students, staff and faculty at UCLA how to be healthy and fit for 30 years! As a renowned motivational speaker, Susan travels internationally as a frequent radio/TV talk show guest and motivational speaker; she’s also the author of over 1,500 magazine articles and 25 books, including her new release, The Joy Factor: 10 Sacred Practices for Radiant Health, which is available this Friday, October 1.

In the Foreword to The Joy Factor, Dr. Wayne Dyer writes, “Regardless of your current state of physical or emotional disrepair, you can take this book, read carefully, and begin now to create vibrant health and bring serenity and sacred balance into your body and life.” I was very excited to ask Susan more about this!

Shelly Rachanow: I was inspired by how you celebrated the “human being” in your new book, The Joy Factor. Would you please share what you wrote about how special we all are? Everyone wrestles with low self-esteem from time to time.

Dr. Susan Smith Jones: Think about this Shelly? 80 billion humans have walked this planet since the beginning of time, and never has there been anyone exactly like you. If each of the 6 billion people living on our planet right now were to stream by you in single file, it would take 200 years to greet each one in turn. And by that time you would probably be off your rocker!

How miraculous is that? In 200 years you would never find two people exactly alike. You would never find two whose experiences had been the same or whose fingerprints were alike or who thought, believed, felt, or talked alike. To that let’s add another amazing fact. Of the approximately 50 to 100 million sperm that traveled an immense distance, and overcame tremendous obstacles, just one won the competition — probably the fiercest and most challenging of your life — and succeeded at fertilizing the one egg that lay in wait and together they joined to become you. You see. You are already a winner.

What’s more, you are composed of a body, mind, and spirit, and you already have everything you need to live up to your highest potential—to become master of your life. I think that calls for a celebration. “The place where you stand is holy ground.” (Exod. 3:5) Today, I want to encourage everyone reading this to focus on this miracle, this work of divinity that is you. The point is, we are all waves of divine and infinite energy and potential and today, spend some time thinking about that.

Shelly Rachanow: Do you think that we too obsessed with our bodies and how they look?

Dr. Susan Smith Jones: Yes and no. No, we must not let our health take a backseat to anything; we must be serious about taking loving care of our bodies and our lives. And yes, to answer your question about obsession -- it’s so easy to identify too much with the way our bodies look.

Just last week I saw a television program about plastic surgery, where they interviewed teenagers who were unhappy with their looks. They were getting all types of plastic surgery — breast implants, ribs removed to make their waists smaller, cheek and chin implants, fat sucked out, and lips puffed up. It was heartbreaking to see teenagers so determined to change their bodies to suit some cultural ideal and worse to think that their parents were supporting them in creating the “bodies of their dreams.” It was fairly obvious that the parents didn’t feel good about their own bodies and were passing that judging attitude on to their children.

Of course we are all encouraged to do this all the time. But just look at most magazine ads or television commercials. Either by innuendo or by outright declaration, they encourage us to change who we are in some fundamental way. Here’s the truth of the matter: You can spend millions of dollars changing your physical features, but that will do little good until you stop looking for love and acceptance from the outside in.

Shelly Rachanow: Talk about the connection between self-esteem and the body and how important positive self-image is to creating success in every area of our lives.

Dr. Susan Smith Jones: When you are not feeling good about you, you feel separated from others and God. When you see yourself as a failure, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. You attract to yourself that which you believe you deserve. Your negative thoughts and attitudes about yourself, whether they originated within yourself or others, convince you of your inability to succeed. If you feel you don’t deserve success, don’t deserve prosperity, don’t deserve to enjoy life, don’t deserve happy relationships, joy, and peace, you settle for less than that to which you are entitled. When you feel unworthy, you cut yourself off from the fullness of life.

Shelly Rachanow: How detrimental is negative self-talk and self-judgment?

Dr. Susan Smith Jones: At any moment, we have the choice to judge ourselves or to be kind and loving. Whether we succeed or fail, enjoy our lives or struggle, depends largely on how we view ourselves. In fact, numerous studies have concluded that the view we have of ourselves is the key to taking control of our lives.

Loving ourselves — feeling good about ourselves is an inside job. When you begin to see yourself as divine, special, and unique, chances are you’ll be happy with the miraculous physical body that your Creator provided for you, and you will establish a salutary health and fitness program to keep your body temple in peak functioning order.

Shelly Rachanow: Is there an action step that someone can do today, something really simple Susan, to jumpstart his or her life and move out of a humdrum, “spin-cycle” life and back on the right track to a life of more joy, passion, success, and vitality?

Dr. Susan Smith Jones: There are countless things you can do: Perhaps start with something special today to honor your body temple. Some examples might be to . . . take a bubble bath; drink more water or eat more fresh, colorful fruits and veggies; splurge on new, luxurious bedding and sleep in them; go to a movie that makes you laugh because laughter is always the best medicine; get new PJ’s that feel good against your skin; carve out extra time for quality sleep; get a massage, facial, or manicure and pedicure; or any thing else that shows you are honoring and loving your beautiful body temple. Think about how miraculous your body is today.

Shelly Rachanow: Why did you write The Joy Factor?

Dr. Susan Smith Jones: In the routine of everyday life, it can be easy to feel stuck. We may cycle between fad diets but never reach our weight goals, shove our greatest hopes and dreams to the back of the closet, and ignore our nagging health concerns. Sometimes we just need a jumpstart and supportive advice from someone who cares and knows how to get us back on the right track—Yours Truly. In The Joy Factor, you will have in your fingertips all of my tools and time-tested advice to take your life from ordinary to extraordinary. I have put my decades of invaluable information and research into this reader-friendly book – part rule-book, part work-book, and part play-book.

Through the pages of The Joy Factor, I will become your own personal holistic lifestyle coach. You will soon begin to revel in simple pleasures, live more intuitively, learn how to let too much stress flow off your shoulders, and take every opportunity—large and small—to serve others and engage fully with the world. If you invite me into your life with each page of my book and the countless healthy living tips, I will gently guide you — step by step — on how to reinvent your life, become the CEO of your body and life, blossom into your highest potential, and create the life you desire and deserve – with 360-degree success and delicious joy.

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

Dr. Susan Smith Jones: If I ran the world, everyone would need to take time out daily to meditate, dance, sing, laugh, and tell someone how much you love them. I also would encourage people to get lots of sleep, breathe deeply, eat colorful, healthy foods, spend time in nature, and find ways to move (exercise) daily. As well, I would offer these words of Robert Fulghum in his book All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, which would change the world for the better. He suggests the following: "Think of what a better world it would be if we all -- the whole world -- had milk and cookies about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had the basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and cleaned up our messes. And it it still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together." Our planet would glow with love and vitality if we could all live this way. And it's this vision I hold close to my heart day and night.

For more information, or to order copies of The Joy Factor: 10 Sacred Practices for Radiant Health, please call toll-free: 1-800-423-7087 ET or visit http://www.susansmithjones.com/ and http://www.susansremedies.com/.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dearn Law Group: An Interview with Alicia I. Dearn

When I was practicing law years ago, I heard my fair share of negative things about lawyers. Yet, I’ve also had the privilege to meet many attorneys who are committed to serving their clients with integrity, respect, and trust. Alicia I. Dearn is one such attorney.

As the CEO and Managing Attorney of Dearn Law Group, P.C., Alicia represents businesses in general civil matters from advice to litigation, and both employees and employers in all aspects of employment law, with a focus on employers. Alicia acts as an outsourced “general counsel” for her clients and is part of their business team, helping them succeed within the framework of the law. Her litigation practice is sophisticated and full service, including trial, appeal, complex matters and class actions.

I really enjoyed talking to Alicia recently about her legal practice, her advice for women who want to start their own business, her thoughts on making a difference, and why she says that if she ran the world she "would make it a prerequisite to filing or appearing in a lawsuit that the litigant explain their position in detail to their grandmother."

Shelly Rachanow: As a former attorney, I can speak from first-hand experience about the negative opinion many people have of lawyers. How do you think we can change that as a profession, and how are you working to change that individually?

Alicia I. Dearn: There are many parts to why the legal profession has a negative reputation (which is a polite way of saying that most people think that lawyers are greedy, dishonest agitators). There is not just one answer on how to change this. But I personally feel that the most immediately effective way to improve perceptions is to ditch billing by the hour. The billable hour creates a natural conflict of interest between attorney and client (the attorney being incentivized to work inefficiently on the client's matter and charge more). No matter how diligent the lawyer, this is perceived by the client and creates distrust.

The client is frequently surprised by the bill, no matter how much you communicate with them. As a result, clients spend hours combing over the massive bill and wondering to themselves why their lawyer deserves to be paid $47.50 for an email. With this distraction, the lawyer cannot effectively communicate her value to the client and cannot help the client purchase appropriate preventative legal services. The result is that clients only hire lawyers because catastrophe has struck; and now they are stuck paying the extraordinary bill that results. The whole thing is negative and destructive.

I have eschewed traditional law firm business models to offer legal services on set monthly fees with defined deliverables. This allows me to be more interactive with the client, focus on problem solving and communicate my value in an authentic and natural way. The relationship with the client becomes centered around positive actions and collaboration. Money is only in the equation to the extent that the client has to budget for my services (and she can, since the price is stated up front).

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about Dearn Law Group, and why you decided to start your own practice.

Alicia I. Dearn: I started DLG out of necessity. I was partner-bound at a big firm but felt deeply unsettled at the prospect of staying long term. Even now, I cannot really put my finger on it; I think, perhaps, I'm more entrepreneurial than I am big-corporate and I felt stifled by that environment. After several years, this unsettled feeling dominated my psyche, but I did not know how to modify my career to resolve it. When my husband needed me to go with him to London to help him care for an ailing parent, quitting the big firm to support him felt like a no-brainer -- my love for my family is massively more important than a career I wasn't even satisfied in. As I'm an intellectually active person, I used that time to learn about business, marketing and technology. Several months later, I returned to San Diego and quickly obtained several offers at law firms. But the economy simultaneously crashed and my job offers were yanked. I'm plucky, so I thought to myself: "I still have a license. I don't need a firm to practice law." And so DLG was born using Craigslist and my laptop in my living room.

Shelly Rachanow: How is your legal practice different from most?

Alicia I. Dearn: Dearn Law Group, PC is different from other firms because we are focused 100% on leaving the client in a better position as a result of hiring us than they were in before they met us. The money is secondary; we're obsessed with helping people (particularly small businesses and entrepreneurs). As a result, we become a business partner and true counsellor to our clients. Drafting legal documents is almost an incidental service because of the amount of strategic advice and planning that goes into our work with our clients before pen ever touches paper. We never just spit out forms; if that is what our clients need, we'd rather send them to LegalZoom or Nolo and spend less. For that reason, we only work with clients that we really like, because they become an important part of us and our obsessive personalities. I worry about my clients in my sleep -- I don't take on that kind of stress for just anyone!

Shelly Rachanow: These days, more and more women are starting their own businesses. As a business owner, and an attorney specializing in business and employment law, what advice do you have for other women who want to start their own business?

Alicia I. Dearn: Be brave. Being an entrepreneur has huge highs and deep lows. It's also an exercise in almost irrational optimism. You must march forward bravely, holding onto that optimism in the face of all contrary evidence and ignoring your worries. You cannot let fear stay your hand because your talents are needed in the world -- now more than ever -- and it is taking fearless action that gets your talents out there. Success will follow this inspired action.

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

Alicia I. Dearn: I would make it a prerequisite to filing or appearing in a lawsuit that the litigant explain their position in detail to their grandmother. Too many people engage in ridiculous arguments for the sake of pride, greed, arrogance or short-sightedness. If you can explain your position to grandma without either blushing or being slapped upside the head, then there may be a bona fide dispute. Otherwise, stop fighting over petty stuff and work on a compromise, or let it go. Litigation should be the course taken only when there is literally no other choice. Typically, the only winners in litigation are the lawyers.

For more information, visit http://www.dearnlaw.com/.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Power of Slow: An Interview with Christine Louise Hohlbaum

Christine Louise Hohlbaum is an American author of several books, including Diary of a Mother and The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World. A frequent media commentator (NPR, New York Times, PC World, Redbook, Woman’s Day and more) and lively presenter, Christine is a proven thought leader in the area of time consulting. She often conducts speeches, corporate seminars and Webinars for ExecSense.com.

Christine also works as a PR consultant for various international companies and lives near Munich, Germany with her husband and two children. Occasionally, she appears in TV shows and feature films, playing smaller roles to satisfy her inner thespian. Writing and acting are her passion. Her biggest dream is to change the world through words, which is a dream I share.

Christine has been a wonderful supporter of my books through the years, and I was so thrilled to chat with her about her wonderful book, The Power of Slow, and the time crunch so many of us feel today.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about your book, The Power of Slow: 101 Ways to Save Time in Our 24/7 World.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: The Power of Slow was borne out of my need to articulate what seems to be happening to our every day lives thanks to the technological revolution that is the Internet. Our relationship with time has dramatically changed as we can now perform things instantaneously that used to take days (such as ordering a book ~ have a Kindle? Download in seconds!). While we have raised the bar on productivity, we have left a lot of roadkill in our path, including our own personal sanity.

The Power of Slow serves to address our collective sense of urgency and offers solutions to work with the clock, not against it. After all, you cannot manage time, only the things you do within the time that you have.

Shelly Rachanow: On your web site, it says, “Christine Louise Hohlbaum is a recovering speedaholic who recognized the power of slow while one day eating ice cream with her then three-year-old daughter. Life is in the details. Don’t let it whiz by.” How did that moment transform your life?

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: It feels like just yesterday that I had that revelation! I was standing in front of a huge selection of ice cream with my daughter when I noticed how impatient I felt about her taking ‘so long’ to decide on a flavor. I mean it is one of the most precious moments in a child’s life when she gets to bask in the glory of 100 flavors! Yet I was pushing her along, as if I had somewhere incredibly important to go. Accustomed to the rush-rush of my former corporate lifestyle, I had yet to adjust to the pace of my children who were becoming more independent themselves as they explored their world on their own two feet. I realized that I could slow down to their pace and still have a happy life. It was a most liberating moment for me!

Shelly Rachanow: There’s another great point on your web site that I really agree with: “Everyone seems to be feeling the time crunch in today’s plugged-in, stressed-out world: businesspeople, moms and dads, even over-scheduled kids. Yet the desire to constantly do more—and do it faster—is actually eroding our productivity and quality of life.” Why do you think this is and, more importantly, what can we do about it?

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: First, let me just say I am not a technophobe. I thank the Internet, my cell phone and other devices for allowing me the flexibility and freedom to work and live as I do. At the same time, it has been scientifically proven that our pace of life has increased globally by 10% since the mid-90s. http://www.paceoflife.co.uk/. In some cases it has increased as much as 30% (Singapore). I attribute our faster pace to the technological advances that have placed us in a space of reactivity most of the time. It is harder to feel you are the master of your ship when you’re constantly being distracted by text messages, inbound IMs, phone calls and email.

The first step in addressing our collective time crunch is to slow down long enough to take a look at the Big Picture. We need to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this?” Once we’ve answered that question, we can then probe deeper to ask ourselves, “What is most important to me?” Take a significant time of year, whether it’s the New Year, your birthday or anniversary to evaluate where you are in your life and where you’d like to go. The moment you identify your ultimate purpose is the beginning of your dropping those things that fill your time, but empty your spirit. When you follow the ‘less is more’ principle, you will begin to see the true power in slow. It is a most satisfying place to be because you dwell in time abundance versus time starvation.

In short, busy is a mindset. The Power of Slow requires that you shift your paradigm from one of lack to one of abundance.

Shelly Rachanow: These days, many of us, women especially, find ourselves multi-tasking a good portion of our day. How can we learn to be more mindful, especially when we are feeling so pressured or overwhelmed with everything that’s on our plate?

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: Great question! Multi-tasking for humans is a myth. Much like a lot of our behavior today, the term multi-tasking is informed by computer science and means to execute multiple tasks at one time. The human brain cannot focus on more than one thing at a time. In other words, it can task switch, but not multi-task. Nonetheless, women seem to have more neural pathways connecting the two brain spheres, making our ability to task switch more pronounced.

Having said that, I would say ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to!” Is it really necessary to respond to every request that comes your way? Learning to say ‘no’ is key here. Women are often taught to accommodate everyone else’s needs. When we place our oxygen mask on first, we can help others do the same.

Draw boundaries for yourself. Going back to question #4, look at the Big Picture of your life. Take the time to ask yourself what is meaningful to you? When you’ve identified one or two things, guard them with your life. So if salsa dancing keeps you sane, don’t even consider scheduling a Girl Scout meeting during your dance hour.

A simple mindfulness exercise you can begin immediately is the moment you wake up in the morning. Repeat a daily affirmation that reinforces what’s most important to you. Mine is “I embrace this day and all the possibilities it brings. And so it is.” As Marianne Williamson recently told me in an interview (Link: http://www.wowowow.com/life/shadow-effect-deepak-chopra-debbie-ford-marianne-williamson-audio-47514), how you start your day informs how the rest of it goes.

Another exercise I recommend is the time abundance exercise. If you feel you are going to be late to something, the natural response is to rush. Instead, take a deep breath, then exhale slowly. Tell yourself “I am going to arrive at the exact moment I need to.” You’d be amazed at how relaxed you are when you do arrive (safely, I might add!).

Shelly Rachanow: If there’s one thing you want people to take away from reading this to help them in their daily lives, what would it be?

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: I believe we all can embrace a positive relationship with time so we have more of it. We are all born into this construct called time and our lives are defined by two very finite time notations: the date of our birth and the date of our passing. What we do with the time in between is up to us.

You have a lot more time than you think. If you’re rolling your eyes at this point, think about it. How do you spend your 24-hours? Do you fill it with activities that truly serve you? What one thing could you do differently right now to get you one step closer to ‘yes’ in your life? Chances are it won’t take much of a change, but it will take something for you to see the possibilities for positive transformation.

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

Christine Louise Hohlbaum: On some level I believe we all run our own worlds. We are in charge of our attitudes, if not our circumstances. When we embrace our own personal power, we grant others permission to do the same. Imagine a world in which we all embraced 100% personal responsibility! It would change everything: We would no longer be stripping the Earth of its natural resources (see http://www.storyofstuff.com/) and we would give back to each other in a large pay-it-forward circle of generosity and care. The world would recognize the impact of its actions; people would truly see how important each and every one of us is; and we would all live our ultimate purpose in life: realizing all that we ever searched for has been within us all along.

To learn more, visit:

Web site ~ http://powerofslow.wordpress.com/ You can subscribe through feedburner at http://feeds2.feedburner.com/ThePowerOfSlow.

Email ~ christine@diaryofamother.com

Twitter ~ @powerofslow

Facebook ~ bit.ly/fanofslow

Youtube ~ http://www.youtube.com/diaryofamother

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Boxes of Secrets: An Interview with Veronica Wright

According to statistics found on the National Domestic Violence Hotline web site, 1 out of 3 women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. That’s something author and speaker Veronica Wright personally knows about. Her debut novel, Boxes of Secrets: A gripping true account of overcoming sexual abuse in a 'perfect' Christian home, is a fearlessly raw and authentic account of the abuse she suffered as a child.

Today Veronica is a survivor, advocate and spokesperson for rape victims worldwide. She also works with and is the spokesperson for International Crisis Aid (ICA), which is based in Saint Louis, MO. ICA rescues girls ages 4-14 who are victims of sex trafficking, forced prostitution, rape or other sex crimes. Through this partnership, Veronica speaks at government agencies, conferences, universities and churches promoting the rescuing and safe havens for children – not only in this country but in many others as well.

I recently had a chance to talk to Veronica about this important issue and about her thoughts on how we can eradicate sexual abuse and sexual slavery from the planet for good.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about Boxes of Secrets.

Veronica Wright: Boxes of Secrets: A gripping true account of overcoming sexual abuse in a “perfect” Christian home is a book written from my own personal experience. The book starts out with my husband and I in a complete financial crisis, which ultimately led to a marital crisis. After 23 years of marriage, we were on the verge of divorce. In a last ditch effort to save our marriage we decided to give marriage counseling a chance and found ourselves in a therapist’s office. In one of our first sessions together, our counselor had us describe each other’s childhood experiences. To my surprise, my husband was unable to disclose many details concerning my childhood. I discovered that after 23 years of marriage, I was a complete stranger to my husband. I hadn’t intentionally been silent concerning my abusive childhood, I was my family’s secret keeper and I took that belief into my adult life.

The book then chronicles my walking the reader through my forbidden and nightmarish history. With the guidance of a trusted therapist, I backtracked through the decades where I had methodically packed away my memories in carefully wrapped boxes in a special storage closet in my mind. I escort the reader into my therapist’s office where one by one, I open the boxes of memories whose contents are shocking even to the seasoned counselor. In the end, readers are on the edge of their seats as I dare to confront my abusive family members in an explosive confrontation that takes place in my therapist’s office. Ultimately, I show that it is possible to walk away from your abusive past and its harmful effects and into a life of freedom.

Shelly Rachanow: What gave you the courage to share your story?

Veronica Wright: I guess I found the courage from recognizing that I was not alone in my experience. I wanted to help other victims know that there is hope if you reach out for help. I also became very passionate about dispelling the belief system in the Christian community that you are to remain silent about your abuse and trust God with the outcome. What is so puzzling about that belief is, it’s not how God demonstrates handling family secrets. Soap operas have nothing on the Bible. The scriptures don’t have any objection with telling us what brother raped his sister, what father slept with his daughter-in-law and so on. It is all about exposing evil and dealing with it. I have come to believe that “silence is permission”. If victims don’t speak out about what happened to them and who the person responsible for it was, it empowers the perpetrator to hurt more victims. I call it the “Religious Code of Silence.” My editor was appalled while researching for my book to find that it is the first “tell all” in the Christian market.

Shelly Rachanow: On your website, you say that it is your “heartfelt belief that not only can a victim survive, but they can thrive beyond the pain of an abusive past.” What have you learned that can help other people who have also been abused?

Veronica Wright: Many outspoken well-known people are open about surviving a past of sexual abuse. In my observation, survivors tend to fall into two categories. One category is those who repeat the pattern of victimization into their adulthood, like marrying abusers or self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse. I think in those cases, subconsciously victims feel they don’t deserve better. Of course many feel the need to self medicate as a way of escaping the pain. However, there seems to be another group of survivors who go the exact opposite direction. They are the overachievers, the ones who thrive.

I have witnessed countless women who tell stories of unimaginable childhood horrors, but in their adult life, they have not let it stop them from doing what they were created to do. A notorious example of this is Oprah Winfrey. She is very public about having been molested by three different perpetrators in her childhood. Oprah has achieved more in her five decades on this planet than most could achieve in three lifetimes. But, she is not alone in this multiplication factor. Many former victims rise up from the ashes of abuse and use the tenacity that it took to survive such traumas into achieving great things. In other words, they refuse to let the perpetrator win. Although many victims seem to thrive instinctively, it is my heartfelt belief that this thriving quality is available through faith, education and counseling.

Shelly Rachanow: What are some things we can do to help eradicate sexual abuse and sexual slavery from the world?

Veronica Wright: Awareness!! The issue of sexual slavery and sex trafficking has been in the dark far too long. The FBI recently reported that 300,000 American girls are at risk of being trafficked every year in the US. That 300,000 number only represents the American girls who are at risk. It does not reflect girls who have been smuggled into our country for the expressed purpose of sexual exploitation and slavery. The number one demographic group that is trafficked is 11-14 year old girls.

We have eradicated slavery once in the history of this country; I truly believe we can do it again. History shows us that freedom was accomplished through the strong convictions of certain individuals who wouldn’t back down for human rights. We need tougher laws on the books for persons found guilty of selling other human beings. Sexual slavery is a multi-billion dollar industry. The laws have to ensure that it isn’t worth the time in prison if the pimp gets caught. Right now, a pimp can make thousands of dollars selling his sex slaves, many of whom are only 11-14 years old, and if caught and convicted, it is only a matter of time for him to be released to go back to his fortune. Why a person who sells a human being for the expressed purpose of sex ever sees the light of day again, is beyond me!

Shelly Rachanow: If there’s one thing you could say to someone who is currently experiencing abuse, what would it be?

Veronica Wright: Get help! Regrettably, this is easier said than done. When abuse is all you have ever known, it becomes a normal part of your life experience. Lines between love and hate quickly become blurred. I encourage anyone who is in some kind of abusive relationship to tell another trusted individual. More importantly, if you know of someone who is in an abusive relationship, reach out and offer them support. Often the abused feel as though they have nowhere to go so they remain in an unsafe relationship. They have usually been shamed into thinking that they are not of any value. You can make the difference in the life of another simply by offering them help and support in their time of need.

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

Veronica Wright: Hmm, that’s a great question and not an easy one for me to answer. I feel incredibly torn between something terribly profound and something completely ludicrous. I’m gonna have to go with my gut on this one, believe it or not, I would eliminate homework and “at home” school projects. I have four children who spend close to six hours a day, nine months of the year, in school. I would love them to be able to come home and just be kids for the rest of the day. I think there is as much to learn while playing with friends in the neighborhood and in various sports activities as there is in the classroom. I would insist on children being able to live much more balanced lives than what we are giving them. They will have plenty of time to stress when they are adults. I say let them remain children while they can.

Boxes of Secrets is available at Amazon.com and Kindle download, and at http://www.veronicakwright.com/.

Look for Veronica Wright on Facebook.