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

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Lazy Gourmet: An Interview with Robin Donovan and Juliana Gallin

Juliana Gallin and Robin Donovan are the authors of The Lazy Gourmet: Magnificent Meals Made Easy —a hip, fun, and practical guide to cooking strikingly sophisticated, yet surprisingly simple dishes. With more than 125 delightfully easy recipes, the book shows that anyone—even those short on time, patience, skill, or experience—can cook impressive meals with minimal effort.

Everyone who knows me knows about my utter lack of cooking ability. That's why I was so excited to chat with Robin and Juliana and learn all about their book!

Shelly Rachanow: I love the title of your book, The Lazy Gourmet! What inspired you to write it?

RD & JG: We’ve been friends since college, where we were housemates in a huge old Santa Cruz Victorian that we shared with five other students. We all took turns doing the chores, including cooking. That was the beginning of our friendship, and we’ve continued to enjoy cooking together since then.

RD: Back then I was already very comfortable in the kitchen. I grew up in Berkeley in a very foodie family. My mom was a food writer and a professional restaurant critic, and I always helped her in the kitchen. I don’t actually remember “learning” how to cook—I just learned by helping my mom in the kitchen and became a fairly competent cook by the time I went away to college. As a result, I’ve always had a certain natural confidence in the kitchen.

JG: I, on the other hand, had no early kitchen training or foodie sensibility. My favorite foods were hamburgers, french fries, Pringles, and Doritos. As I got older I became more interested in eating and cooking real food, but I was a by-the-book, devoted recipe-follower—completely convinced for many years that I just had no natural talent in the kitchen. I stuck with it though, learned some rules and techniques, started experimenting more, and eventually became a pretty good cook. The most important thing I had realized during this transformation was that some of the best dishes were also some of the most simple. There didn’t seem to be any direct relation whatsoever between the difficulty of a recipe and the quality of a meal.

RD: And that’s the premise of our book. Over the years we talked more and more about the idea that cooking really good food doesn't have to be difficult, and that anyone can do it. At some point we decided to write a cookbook about this idea. We basically wanted to create a collection of our most elegant, delicious, exciting recipes—the kind of dishes you would serve at a dinner party when you want to impress your guests—that are deceptively easy to make.

RD & JG: As far as the title goes, the original title was How To Impersonate a Gourmet Chef, but that was too much of a mouthful. Our publisher urged us to change it and that’s when we came up with The Lazy Gourmet. This helped us to clarify our focus for the book—the concept that it can be really easy to cook well. Even for people who are kitchen-phobic, intimidated, time-constrained, or just plain “lazy.”

Shelly Rachanow: So many people think it takes hours to cook a fabulous meal, or days to prepare for a dinner party. Is that really the case? Can cooking good food really be simple and easy?

RD & JG: Yes! We like to say, “Cooking a gourmet meal can be just as easy as cooking a crappy meal.” And it’s so true. We firmly believe that cooking delicious, interesting, “gourmet” food can actually be really easy. It’s just a matter of using good ingredients and combining them in interesting ways using very basic techniques.

Shelly Rachanow: One of the things I love about your book is that it’s given me (someone who, as my friends will attest, cannot cook–at all) the confidence to help my fiancé (a chef) in the kitchen. What do you say to people like me who lack confidence or experience when it comes to cooking?

JG: I would tell them that I used to lack kitchen confidence myself, and now I’m a cookbook author! One of the light bulb moments for me, as I mentioned before, was realizing that elegant, impressive gourmet dishes are often exceptionally simple. To start building up your confidence and comfort levels, make a dinner where you basically have only one recipe to follow—pick a very simple, but interesting, entrée. Then pair it with a couple of side dishes that seem special but basically require no work at all, like black rice, or roasted asparagus, or even a prepared vegetable dish from a fancy deli. This is a great way to get your toes in the water without having to cook a multi-course meal from scratch.

RD: We also like to remind people that a recipe is just a suggestion. Don’t get too hung up on following it word-for-word. Substitute one ingredient for another; leave something out if you don’t like it; double the quantity of another ingredient that you love. This will break your dependence on recipes and help you become a more natural, comfortable cook.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about the types of recipes in your book, and share one or two of your favorites.

RD & JG: Our primary audience for the book is the novice cook—people who don’t realize how incredibly easy it can be to cook really well, and to impress guests with “gourmet” dinners. But we also wanted the recipes to appeal to experienced cooks. We measured each potential recipe against the following three criteria, to decide whether or not we thought it was worth pursuing: easiness, impressiveness, and that extra “certain something” that makes a recipe interesting and special.

Because we wanted to be absolutely certain that our recipes would be easy to follow, we enlisted more than 50 volunteer testers who made our recipes and then filled out detailed feedback forms where they rated each recipe for easiness, clarity of instructions, deliciousness, impressiveness, visual appeal, availability of ingredients, and more. We then made adjustments based on their feedback.

Some of our favorites recipes are Orange Crème Fraiche Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Drizzle; Asparagus and Meyer Lemon Tart; Savory Blue Cheese Shortbread; Artichoke and Endive Panzanella; Fig, Mint, and Pistachio Salad; Bombay-Style Vegetable Sandwiches; Smoked Trout Brandade; Roasted Salmon with Garlic Confit; and everyone’s favorite—Charmoula (a magical Moroccan condiment made of lemon juice, garlic, cilantro, mint, and spices).

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

JG: Wow, every single honest answer that comes to mind makes me sound like a real evil maniac. So I’ll just suggest that we let tiny, fluffy lap dogs run the government. I don’t think they would do a very good job, but it would be fun to cuddle them at their fundraisers!

RD: I like Juliana’s answer! But if I ran the world, I would make organic vegetable gardening and cooking required subjects in schools. I think it’s so important for kids to have an idea of where food comes from and how it gets from farm to table. Growing and cooking your own food gives you so much more of an appreciation for it, and I think makes you more inclined to choose wholesome, unprocessed foods. I think if we fostered this kind of connection to healthy food from an early age, we’d solve a lot of the health problems our society faces today.

For more information, visit:

Blog: http://www.twolazygourmets.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheLazyGourmet
Twitter: http://twitter.com/lazy_gourmet

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Frugal Foodie Cookbook: An Interview with Lara Starr

Cookbook author, cake decorating teacher, radio producer, marketeer, card-carrying cheapskate, wife and mom. Those are just a few words that describe Lara Starr: Whew!

Lara’s first cookbook, The Party Girl Cookbook, was written 1998. Back then, she was newly married and kid-less, the streets were paved with dot-com gold, and a young Ben Stiller was teaching us how to laugh. Lara had plenty of time and money for parties that included elaborate themes, silly costumes and the inevitable next-day hangovers.

Now, like many of us, Lara is striving to make ends meet, has faced un- and under-employment, and is looking to save a buck wherever she can. She also added a kid to the equation and is always on the lookout for healthy, nutritious meals that the Young Master Picky, Mr. Meat and Potatoes, and Ms. Frugal Foodie will all enjoy...and won't break the bank.

For Lara, it's been so fun and satisfying to discover and develop new recipes, find lots of little ways to cut spending without sacrificing a yummy lifestyle, and share it all in The Frugal Foodie Cookbook! As someone who loves good food, I was excited to talk to Lara more about her latest project.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about your book, The Frugal Foodie Cookbook.

Lara Starr: It's got lots of delicious recipes for food that doesn't cost a lot to make, and that makes the most of every ingredient, such as "The Exponential Chicken" which can feed two people for five days! It's also got lots of advice for saving money around the house—like how to make you own low-cost cleanings supplies, and fun quotes from foodies and frugalistas.

Shelly Rachanow: What do you tell people who say it isn’t possible to be a foodie while also maintaining a budget?

Lara Starr: I say you're dead wrong! My secret is meal planning. I know what's for dinner every night of the week, and have an arsenal of lunch and breakfast items. That way I only shop for what I need and I only shop once a week at two stores (the regular supermarket and Trader Joes). The less time you spend in a store, the less you're going to spend.

Shelly Rachanow: I love the “Frugal Foodie Tips” from the book. What are some of your favorites?

Lara Starr: I don't fry very often, but when I figured out that I can use newspapers and one paper towel to drain fried food instead of a pile of paper towels, it was a revelation. I only like to use a paper towel if my life depends on it.

I also love re-growing green onions. Who knew, right? I've always got a bunch of them in a glass jar in my window.

Shelly Rachanow: Your book contains recipes for breakfast, brunches, lunches, dinners, kids, snacks, and more. What’s one that you can share with us?

Lara Starr: These Biscotti are my one of favorite recipes of all time. They're easy, delicious and so inexpensive to make. I've made them dozens and dozens of times to rave reviews. Sometimes I get fancy and add chocolate or orange peel, but I really love them just as is.

Not Your Bubbe’s Biscotti

“Look at all of the fancy, schmancy mandel bread!”

That’s what I imagine my great-grandmother “Mimi” would have said had she lived long enough to see the platters and jars of dipped and decorated biscotti at upscale coffee shops. I grew up eating her mandel bread, a twice-baked almond cookie very similar to biscotti.

Mimi’s recipe contained butter and was a little more cookie-like than these. My biscotti are not only less expensive, but are more crisp and hold up very well to dunking in coffee, tea or wine.

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
3/4 cups almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil and grease well.

Beat the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour and baking soda and continue beating until blended. Mix in the almonds. With floured hands, form half of the dough into a 12-inch log. Place on the baking sheet and press down to flatten to about 3 inches. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake the cookie loaves for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on. Let the loaves cool for 5 minutes, then remove them to a cutting board. Slice each loaf diagonally into 12 slices with a sharp, serrated knife. Don’t press hard, let the knife do the work for you.

Put the slices back on the cutting cookie sheet, on their sides. Return to the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.

Cookies will keep for about a week in an airtight container or for up to three months in the freezer.

Shelly Rachanow: What are some tips you can give people who want to throw a foodie-worthy party without breaking the bank?

Lara Starr: Make a signature spiked punch or sangria instead of serving beer, wine or an open bar, and don't be afraid to ask people to contribute—people like to help! Take care with presentation. Use a tablecloth, set out flowers, light candles—these touches really make a difference, and even simple spaghetti seems fancy and festive in the right setting.

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

Lara Starr: My cheeky answer is I'd ban all boxed cake mix and canned frosting. I weep for the children whose only experience of cake is boxed cake mix and canned frosting.

My serious answer is that I'd ensure that all children have access to safe, stimulating and challenging schools, delicious and healthy food, and the love and support of caring grown-ups.

For more information or to contact Lara, visit her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/frugalfoodiecookbook

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

YALDAH Magazine: An Interview with Leah Larson

We’re never too old or too young to pursue our dreams, and this week's amazing woman is certainly proof of that! Leah Larson is the founder and publisher of YALDAH Magazine, now in its sixth year. Leah started brainstorming about a magazine for Jewish girls at age 12...and she was just 13 when the first issue came out. The quarterly publication now has subscribers worldwide, an editorial board of talented girls, a small staff, and is available in select Barnes & Noble bookstores. All the content is brainstormed and created by young girls.

YALDAH’s mission is to inspire leadership and creativity, to celebrate Jewish girls and women, Jewish life, and Israel. The magazine also sponsors art and writing contests, girls’ summer and winter retreats, and unity projects. After receiving a monetary award from Wells Fargo bank in 2008, Leah created the imprint YM Books and released two books for girls.

Leah is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including Microsoft Start Something Amazing Award, Guardian Life Insurance Girls Going Great Scholarship, Milton Fisher Scholarship for Creativity and Innovation, Jewish Children International Power of Children Award, and Next Step Magazine Super Teen Award. She also started a freelance graphic design business, LL Design. Leah is a sophomore at Yeshiva University and recently received its “Point of Light” award.

I was really inspired by Leah’s dedication to pursuing her dream, and I was excited to talk to her about ways each of us can do so.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about YALDAH Magazine?

Leah Larson: YALDAH magazine is a full-color, 64-page quarterly magazine for Jewish girls. Each issue includes articles, interviews, crafts, recipes, advice, true stories and fiction. All our content is brainstormed, written, edited, photographed and illustrated by young Jewish girls. We write about topics of interest to girls such as babysitting tips, starting middle school or cliques but also include articles with a Jewish slant like Rosh Hashanah recipes, a modest and stylish fashion column, and profiles of girls' Bat Mitzvah projects. We especially like to focus on profiling inspiring women and girls who are positively impacting the world. YALDAH’s mission is to inspire leadership and creativity, to celebrate Jewish girls and women, Jewish life, and Israel. In its seventh year, YALDAH has readers around the world and is sold in hundreds of bookstores including select Barnes & Noble stores.

Shelly Rachanow: What inspired you to create it?

Leah Larson: I was looking for a magazine to read myself! I loved reading magazines such as American Girl, but wished there was a magazine that I could relate to more with my Jewish lifestyle and values. Always a dreamer, at age 12 I started brainstorming what could go in the first issue of a magazine for Jewish girls. Once I had the table of contents, I asked myself, "why not go ahead and make this?" I didn't know much about publishing, but I learned from my mistakes, asked mentors for advice, and did a lot of googling. When I was 13 the first issue came out, and the adventure was just beginning. Seven years later, YALDAH has touched thousands of girls, keeps me busy at all hours, and is still continuing to grow.

Shelly Rachanow: What advice do you have for parents who are raising kids with big dreams and imaginations?

Leah Larson: Children naturally have big dreams and wild imaginations. It's hard to find children who don't frequent fantasy worlds, have tea with imaginary friends, and dream of being a ballerina or firefighter... or even a bird! The challenge is how to not squash that imagination as they grow older. I hate to say it, but I think school contributes a lot to teaching kids that there's one right answer and one right way to do things. Giving kids toys that inspire imagination and giving them lots of time for imaginative play is vital. I played with dolls until I was twelve and moved right into magazine publishing later that year!

I also think it's important to listen to kids. Hear their ideas and dreams and don't feel a need to introduce them to reality. I think the main reason I was able to publish a magazine at 13 is because I didn't know all the obstacles I would face. And lastly, support their dreams. Even if they seem unrealistic, you never know where they'll lead you. My parents thought my magazine idea was just a phase, but once they saw I was serious they've supported me every step of the way, and I'm incredibly thankful for that.

Shelly Rachanow: So often we tell ourselves we’re not good enough to achieve our dreams, perhaps saying, “I’m too young, too old, too un-educated, too fat,” or whatever the case may be. What have you learned from your own experiences that you want people to know?

Leah Larson: I learned never to let your age get in the way of your dreams. It was hard to get people to take me seriously at first, but once I proved my determination, people stopped paying attention to my young age. I also learned that when you empower children and give them responsibility, they really step up to the plate and are capable of so much more than we may think they are. We have a staff of editors, webmasters, marketing and publicity managers who are all under age 14 -- and they're doing an incredible job!

I also learned that you never know what you're good at or what you'll enjoy until you try it. I always enjoyed art but never would have imagined myself as a graphic designer. When I didn't have anyone else to do the magazine layout, I played around with photoshop and taught myself graphic design. I've found that I love it and now do freelance graphic design. So go explore, try something, teach yourself a new skill. Worst comes to worst, you'll know you don't like it! :-)

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

Leah Larson: I'd love to see a world where the pay-scale reflects people's impact on the world. Educators, non-profit workers, and inspirational leaders would be properly compensated for their hours of tireless work. Hollywood actresses and sports stars would be volunteers!

For more information, visit:

Website: http://www.yaldah.com/

Email: leah@yaldahmedia.com

Phone: 888-4-YALDAH

Twitter: @yaldahmag

Facebook: www.facebook.com/yaldahmagazine

Blog: yaldah-magazine.blogspot.com

Linked In: www.linkedin.com/pub/leah-larson/b/519/977

YouTube: www.youtube.com/yaldahmagazine

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm Glad I'm Me: An Interview with Sheila Aron

Sheila Aron is a native Houston, Texan. In 2008 her children's book, I'm Glad I'm Me: Weaving the Thread of Love From Generation to Generation, was published and it will soon be available in Spanish. Sheila is also on the art committee with the Holocaust Museum Houston and was on the board of The Center for Hearing and Speech for six years.

Sheila’s most recent endeavor is a 501(3) (c) called The Thread Alliance. Its mission is to weave the thread of love and end the cycle of child abuse by bringing child abuse awareness to the forefront in hopes of preventing it before it happens.

I was really excited to learn more about Sheila's book, and the great work she is doing to help children!

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about your book, I’m Glad I’m Me.

Sheila Aron: I’m Glad I’m Me is a parenting book disguised as a children’s book. It teaches parents and children together how easy it is to say “I love you” and how to express their heartfelt feelings. I began writing this book as a way to help parents, children and grandparents make connections through trust, acceptance and respect. Knowing that every child deserves to be loved and every parent wants to be the very best parent they can for their child, I wanted to create a book that would allow both needs to be met. I feel that I have done this in I’m Glad I’m Me by showing how easy it is to tell your child “I love you” from the time a child wakes up in the morning until he goes to sleep at night. There are so many opportunities that a parent can say “I love you” and my book gives a few examples and shows how simple it is and how often it can be said. All anyone wants is to know that he/she is loved. It helps raise self esteem and confidence while building strong bonds that last a lifetime.

Shelly Rachanow: How does your book help parents and children communicate their love for one another?

Sheila Aron: My book shows parents and children together that love can be expressed anytime, anywhere, for any reason. For those who have never heard the words “I love you,” saying them to their own children can seem difficult or maybe even impossible. I wanted to show how easy it is to say what is in your heart in very simple words because saying “I love you” is really so easy to say and means so much to someone. I wanted it to be a win/win situation by showing that parents benefit from the book as well. When a child hears these words of love he repeats them back to his parents. What could be better than hearing “I love you, too.”

Shelly Rachanow: You often talk about the importance of “weaving the thread of love from generation to generation.” What do you mean by that and why is that so important?

Sheila Aron: The subtitle of my book is Weaving the Thread of Love From Generation to Generation. The significance of these words are emphasized by the multicolored thread that runs throughout the book weaving in and around the family members showing the importance of expressing our feelings through words of love. The “thread of love” leaves memories that last a life time and should be strong, unbreakable, never ending and passed on to future generations.

Shelly Rachanow: How can parents best remember to communicate in a loving manner in those moments when they are angry, frustrated or overwhelmed?

Sheila Aron: Life has a way of throwing us a curve on a daily basis. When situations come up that create chaos and cause us to feel out of control it helps to consider the importance of the situation at hand and ask yourself if it is really all that important. Try to see things from your child’s point of view and remember that you set the tone by how you cope with this situation. Getting angry rarely accomplishes anything besides making matters worse. By keeping your emotions in tap you give your child reassurance of your ability to handle the problem at hand and move on. You are the role model for your children - how you interact with them is how they will interact with their children when the time comes. Try to be calm and teach your children valuable life lessons that they will be proud to pass on to the next generation.

Shelly Rachanow: What are some simple things parents can do everyday to express more love to their kids?

Sheila Aron: I show only a few events that could take place in a child’s life - there are so many more. Make everyday a day to celebrate your child by reminding him how much he is loved, how important he is to your life and how proud you are to have him in your life. Especially during emotional moments when he or you might be feeling unappreciated take this opportunity to say “I love you.” Teaching your child loving life lessons includes the unhappy times as well as the happy. Turn an unpleasant moment into a pleasant one by simply saying “I love you.”

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

Sheila Aron: If I ran the world I would make sure that every child enjoyed a childhood free of abuse of any kind. All children deserve a childhood filled with love, acceptance, compassion and respect. To take this one step further I have started a nonprofit, to go hand in hand with the message in my book, called The Thread Alliance. The mission is to weave the thread of love and end the cycle of child abuse by bringing it to the forefront and hopefully preventing it before it begins.

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

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Living the Life of My Dreams: An Interview with Caryn FitzGerald

Caryn FitzGerald is a mother, wife, friend, writer, healthy foodist, nature lover, teacher, blogger, entrepreneur, coach, and overall lover of life! She holds a masters degree and her formal training is as a mental health therapist. She spent many years working in both the prison system and the community sector assisting those facing challenges on redirecting their life’s path.

Caryn has been writing in several genres for over thirty years. Some of her recent work includes: Tulips in the Sand: A Riley Matthews Mystery and Fish Sticks, Books and Blue Jeans - Teaching kids to be thankful for everything (yes, even Fish Sticks) everyday! which she co-authored with her daughter, Sami.

Caryn recovered from a decade long struggle with bulimia and anorexia and is a domestic violence survivor. She shares her personal story and assists others by providing encouragement and guidance in overcoming adversity. Caryn’s belief is that a full, abundant life can be created and enjoyed regardless of one’s past. Today she enjoys the blessings of playing from home as a writer and speaker, fulfilling her passions by assisting others in learning the techniques required to create the life of their dreams. I was really excited to talk more with Caryn about this.

Shelly Rachanow: You write a wonderful blog called Embracing My Journey. Tell us more about that.

Caryn FitzGerald: I spent the first half of my life going through the motions and being bored with life. Over a decade ago, the Universe stepped in and in an instant I found myself moving in a different, more exciting and meaningful direction.

EmbracingMyJourney.com was created out of my desire to share my passion for living a life full of purpose while encouraging others to do the same. My goal is to share real-life stories from those who have transitioned, connecting them with those who are seeking something better. To inspire and encourage people to take a chance on themselves and go for what they really desire in life. Several times a week, I highlight and share the stories, guidance and wisdom from people who are living a life full of passion and purpose. Doing something meaningful each day and paying it forward. My intention is to contribute to the world by connecting those who are seeking with those who have the guidance to share.

Shelly Rachanow: I love the following quote on your web site: “A full, abundant life can be created regardless of one’s past.” Why do you believe that’s the case?

Caryn FitzGerald: Because I’m living proof it’s true. So often people are caught up reliving the drama of their past and the bad things that happened in their lives. It’s this cycle that keeps them grounded in negativity, lack and self-doubt. I’ve been there. I spent a decade struggling with anorexia and bulimia and abusive relationships. I could have easily continued to feed off of those negative experiences. I made a conscious decision not to. Instead of festering in it, I chose to use what I learned from those experiences to assist others and to contribute to the world instead of take away from it.

A perfect example is when something bad happens and instead of learning from it and releasing it, a person calls their seventeen friends and tells them each the story all over again, relishing the drama over and over again. It’s a slippery slope, and yet, it’s one anyone can avoid falling over by making one simple decision. The decision to live focused on the positive and letting the negative float on by.

Shelly Rachanow: I’m honored to be part of your Living the Life of My Dreams project. Tell us more about it and what’s so exciting about it this week especially?

Caryn FitzGerald: Several years ago I began writing my blog, EmbracingMyJourney.com. The blog is all about living a passionate and purposeful life. I knew I was not the only person who had turned their life around and was living like this, so I put out some feelers and asked people to share their stories. The response was overwhelming. Hundreds of people emailed me to say they were living the life of their dreams. After two years, I was asked if I would consider putting together a series of interviews and essays in ebook format. It felt right and that is how Living the Life of My Dreams: Essays & Interviews with 30 Ordinary People Living EXTRAordinary Lives was born.

On March 9, 2011, Living the Life of My Dreams: Essays & Interviews with 30 Ordinary People Living EXTRAordinary Lives will be released online at: http://www.livingthelifeofmydreams.com/ available for immediate download. Thirty people are sharing their personal stories, the lessons they learned along the way and their how-to suggestions for people who are ready to move out of the boring and mundane and into the exciting life of their dreams. The ebook has been met with rave reviews and on launch day, there are partners from all over the world joining us in spreading the word. Our goal is to reach over 1,000,000 people and encourage them to decide and take action, moving into the life they truly desire.

Shelly Rachanow: As someone who was once in a career that wasn’t my dream, I know how hard it can be for people to take a chance and pursue what they love. What are some things you’ve learned from the interviews you have done?

Caryn FitzGerald: The common theme that runs through all of the interviews I have done and from my personal experience is that one must make a choice to go for what they really want. Too often we get caught up in the path that others set up for us. Whether it be our parents, our spouses, school counselors or friends, it is common to rely upon external people or things to guide us. The issue is that when someone chooses to follow the guidance of others, they are making a decision. Then when things don’t work out well or happiness isn’t achieved, it’s easy to blame others.

The key factor I have learned is that it is important to follow one’s heart and move forward along the path that brings you joy. It is a lot easier to take these chances and move step by step towards one’s true destiny than it is to remain stagnant in a place that doesn’t allow for true happiness to radiate through.

Shelly Rachanow: What advice do you have for people who aren’t sure what their purpose is...or who aren’t feeling passionate or inspired about the life they are currently living?

Caryn FitzGerald: Give yourself a break. Take time for yourself, do something that makes you feel alive and excited. Reconnect with nature. Read a book that really catches your attention. Do something different. There are times when you won’t know exactly what your calling or destiny is. And that’s okay. If you are set up to do something that really causes a pit in your stomach or that nagging feeling of distress, don’t do it. Make small changes. Find new places to spend time, donate to others, add more laughter to your life. Begin removing the people and things you find not bringing you pleasure from your life. Then focus upon what you do what in your life and watch how the space will begin to fill in with these goodies.

Remember that you are responsible for how you fill your days, who you surround yourself with, what you contribute to the world. You don’t have to make all of the changes in one day, just take aim at what you’re seeking and continue to move forward, one step at a time.

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

Caryn FitzGerald: I would make it a requirement for everyone to learn about the power of intention and the Law of Attraction from childhood. I would like to see meditation as a daily practice, a time when the world goes silent and inward as a community for 10-15 minutes and people receive the peace, calm and clarity that accompanies meditation. I believe when people are at peace with themselves, it is reflected in their daily lives and in the way they treat others.

To learn more or contact Caryn, visit:

Blog: http://www.embracingmyjourney.com/

Website: http://www.carynfitzgerald.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheManifestingQueen

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/caryngf

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Teen Wisdom Inc: An Interview with Tami Walsh, M.A.

Tami Walsh, M.A. is President of the San Diego based teen and parent empowerment company, Teen Wisdom Inc. Tami is the first life coach for teen girls in the country and has personally impacted the lives of over 10,000 teenaged girls. Tami is committed to impacting 10 million teen girls by training 1,000 women worldwide on her cutting edge life coaching program.

A recognized expert in the teen community, Tami has appeared on both local and national radio and television shows including KUSI and SD 6 News, as well as TLC's 10 Years Younger and NBC's The Other Half. Tami has been a featured expert on the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.com website, has spoken to over 10,000 teens nationwide, and is the author of the top selling “Did-Wells Journal” for teen girls and popular audio series for parents, “Communication: Turning Battles Into Bridges With Your Teen.”

Currently Tami can be seen in the feature film, “The Compass” with other world renowned speakers and authors including Joe Vitale and Brian Tracy. Tami is a graduate of UCLA and received her Master's Degree from Loyola Marymount University. I was really excited to hear her insights about things we can do for teens today.

Shelly Rachanow: Teenagers often face some major pressure and stress in their lives. Tell us more about your program Teen Wisdom.

Tami Walsh: We are the world leader in teen life coaching and have helped over 20,000 girls in the last 11 years. Teen Wisdom Certified coaches worldwide are empowering girls to know and honor themselves, and to make decisions they can be proud of! We also focus on helping girls create a future they can be excited about!!

Shelly Rachanow: From cliques to drugs to boys to wanting to be accepted, it can be tough for teens to enjoy their teen years. But you’ve got some secrets to help them do just that. What are a few that you can share?

Tami Walsh: One of the key principles the Teen Wisdom Program is based upon is the importance of having a strong sense of self. One way we do this is through a tool we use called, “The Did-Wells Journal” which teaches girls how to define their worth based on the inner vs. their outer qualities. It is a tool girls use for at least 30 days and it transforms the way they see themselves. Teen girls today need to have an inner voice that is louder than that of the media, their peers, and oftentimes themselves. We also focus on teaching girls how to STOP the negative competition and comparison going on amongst them through our Oneness4Girls program which is one of my favorites!

Shelly Rachanow: What can parents do to better communicate with their teens, and to help them move through these years with self-love and self-respect?

Tami Walsh: I get asked this question a lot and the one thing I can say is: LISTEN, LISTEN AND LISTEN SOME MORE…oh, and WITHOUT JUDGMENT. This is not always easy but listening is the #1 need teens have from their parents, who often make them feel lectured and misunderstood.

Shelly Rachanow: You have a new program called Oneness4Girls that specifically addresses the gossip, rumors, and exclusion teen girls sometimes face. How does this program help tear down the walls girls can build around each other?

Tami Walsh: Yes, the Oneness4Girls program focuses on helping girls see each other as allies and ASSETS to one another vs. adversaries or “frenemies” It is time to empower girls to treat each other with respect. We don’t EVER want to see or read about one more girl who takes her own life due to bullying or cyberbullying by other girls.

Shelly Rachanow: You have a quote on your web site, which I love: Your Life = Your Habits. Your Habits = Your Life. What are some of the most important habits you encourage teens to adopt today.

Tami Walsh: “Get out of yourself” by helping someone else…daily.

Say “please” and “thank you” to your parents everyday!!

Find one thing you like about your body every time you look in the mirror. Yes, every time!

Dream big by making a list of your Top 100 dreams and take action on at least one of your dreams everyday.

See your mistakes as lessons. Just like you have tests in school, you will have tests in life.

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

Tami Walsh: I would have a large council of teen girls advising me on exactly how to run the world to make it a more harmonious, peaceful and equal place for all. Their wisdom, humor, and passion for living in the moment would ensure that I’d not only be the hippest dressed world leader, but the most relevant and inspired one, too!

To learn more about Tami’s Certified Teen Wisdom™ Life Coach Training Program and other programs to empower teen girls, please visit http://www.teenwisdom.com/. You can also find Tami on Facebook: Teen Wisdom, and Twitter: @TamiWalsh.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fix It, Make It, Grow It, Bake It: An Interview with Billee Sharp

Billee Sharp was born and raised in a little village in Dorset, England. She studied anthropology and ancient history at University College London. Billee went on to style herself a career as a contemporary art curator and gallerist. Working with Damien Hirst and others, she opened Building One, a huge gallery in an old biscuit factory, and mounted a series of group shows, which contributed to the emergence of the YBAs.

Billee moved to San Francisco, California in 1993 where she started both a family and record label. In 2009, Billee founded The Mission Casbah, which is a fair trade, free market for craftsmen and artisans. She lives with her husband and two sons. Her book, Fix It, Make It, Grow It, Bake It, was released in 2010.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about your book, Fix It, Make It, Grow It, Bake It.

Billee Sharp: I was very excited when Brenda Knight of Viva Editions suggested that I submit a proposal for a book about living cheaply and living your dreams. I believe that’s what I've been doing for the past twenty years and I was very glad to have the opportunity to share my philosophy and my tips!

Shelly Rachanow: I love the subtitle of your book: The D.I.Y Guide to the Good Life. What inspired you to live a D.I.Y. approach to life?

Billee Sharp: This book grew out of my personal experience: I've been married to my husband, a musician, for nearly twenty years, and when we started a family I decided that I wanted to be a full-time mom and continue developing my skills as a writer. The results have been very fulfilling but not entirely lucrative. We don't participate in a lot of consumerist pastimes, we make our own fun for the most part. This is the experience I tried to impart in my book: You don't need a lot of money to be healthy, eat well and enjoy life!

Shelly Rachanow: What do you want people to understand about quality of life on our planet today?

Billee Sharp: I think there is a wide misapprehension in Western society that we need a lot of things and these things make us happy. Like everybody else I love beautiful things and I feel happy when my family and I have the things we need. However getting caught up in materialism often leads to excessive consumerism which is difficult to sustain financially and certainly does the planet no good!

We cannot keep using the planet's resources at such a frantic rate. Deforestation and fossil-fuel depletion are real problems we are facing now in the twenty-first century. It’s our responsibility to change our ways and develop a more sustainable way of life. For this our children, grandchildren and beyond will be grateful.

Shelly Rachanow: Your book is a great step-by-step guide to help people consume less but create more. What are some ways we can do this?

Billee Sharp: I think the first step is to ask ourselves whether we really need the stuff we are buying. When we do need things, try to support green and sustainable industries and try to buy quality goods that will last, hopefully a lifetime. Although its nice to have shiny new items, it’s also great when your teenager says stuff like, "I love this dish. I remember you made a huge trifle in it for my fifth birthday party!"

Shelly Rachanow: What are some simple actions people can take right away to help both themselves and the planet?

Billee Sharp: Start by considering purchases as an ethical consumer. In our society we are very market-led, when consumer trends become identifiable they are followed. A good place to start would be to stop buying products which contain high fructose corn syrup – it’s bad for your health and bad for the environment. The less people buy of this nasty stuff the more obvious it will be to suppliers that we want healthy alternatives!

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

Billee Sharp: I really think the idea of women running the world is reactionary. I understand that men have held the concentration of power for the last two thousand years, they have made women second-class citizens and propagated a culture of inequality. However, I would hate to see the pendulum swing back the other way and I also reject the "women in power" model that women like Margaret Thatcher, Condoleeza Rice, Sarah Palin epitomize: These are women who act out like powerful men and follow the dominant themes of patriarchal society. This means that any power they have is merely male power by proxy.

I prefer the idea of partnership society which many contemporary anthropologists and ancient historians believe was the structure of Neolithic society. Partnership society is epitomized by men and women sharing power and making decisions for society together, where women are accepted as religious figures, doctors, teachers and politicians. Riane Eisler's book, The Real Wealth of Nations, advocates for partnership societies. She holds that sexual equality is the essential key to human development. Eisler cites the last 100 years of Swedish history as evidence that as women assume a more powerful role in the decision-making processes of society, men have less desire to aggressively dominate.

For more information:

Visit Billee on Facebook and read her posts at http://www.asitoughttobe.com/, including a recent article about feminism:


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jungle Mamas: An Interview with Robin Fink and Margaret Love

Robin Fink is currently working as the Program Manager for the Jungle Mamas/Ikiama Nukuri Program at Fundación Pachamama in Quito, Ecuador. She graduated from Reed College in 2009 with a B.A. in Anthropology. She also plays the alto and tenor saxophone with various musicians around Quito.

Margaret Love is the Program Director for Jungle Mamas/Ikiama Nukuri at The Pachamama Alliance in San Francisco, California. She is a retired midwife. She has three grown children and three grandchildren. She has been a landscaper and the founding board president of a private school in Santa Fe, N.M.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about the Jungle Mamas Program.

Robin Fink / Margaret Love: Jungle Mamas/Ikiama Nukuri, meaning Women as Keepers of the Forest in the indigenous language of Achuar, was conceived in a conversation between Margaret Love, a midwife from Berkeley, California and Achuar women in 2007. It is a program of The Pachamama Alliance in San Francisco, California and Fundacion Pachamama in Quito, Ecuador. The women and men in the communities were interested in learning about Western methods of pre-natal care, safe birthing and, post-partum care.

Traditionally, when it came time for an Achuar woman to give birth, she would scurry off into the jungle by herself and give birth alone in the forest, without the help of a mother, spouse or traditional birth attendant (who do not exist in Achuar culture). In the last 40 years, the Achuar have seen a great amount of change to their culture and society, despite having successfully kept out oil and resource extraction activities by transnational corporations. Through a deeply-rooted partnership with The Pachamama Alliance and its sister organization, Fundación Pachamama, the Achuar have been extremely active in protecting their territory, the rainforest, and the organisms that reside within it. Largely due to more increased contact and navigation of life outside of the Amazon, the lived realities and health conditions of Achuar men, women, and children have drastically changed. Jungle Mamas/Ikiama Nukuri was created as a result of these changes, both due to an increased openness for cultural exchange and an increased need for solutions to maternal and community health problems.

Initially, the Jungle Mamas team consisted of Margaret Love, the program director, and Narcisa Mashienta Jimbicti, a woman of the indigenous Shuar nationality, who has lived and started a family in Achuar territory and is currently the program coordinator. Since then, Jungle Mamas has been working to train men and women of the communities of Pumpuentsa, Kurintsa, and Corinua in birth attendant, prevention, family health, and basic health workshops. Ten Safe Birthing and Family Health workshops have been conducted so far.

Shelly Rachanow: What is life like for Achuar women? What are some of the biggest challenges they face?

Robin Fink / Margaret Love: Achuar life in the present is characterized by change. With increased travel to cities outside their territory, formal education and professional jobs, local realities have changed. Instead of authority residing in elders, it now resides largely in the men and few women who have received teaching titles or who have become leaders. Whereas traditionally it was the men’s responsibility to hunt, provide food for their families, and take care of the cattle. It was the women’s responsibility to take care of the children, tend to the animals, plant and take care of the family garden, bring water from the river, and maintain the overall well-being of the family.

Now that many men have become professionals, there are times where they spend periods of time outside of the community, placing more responsibility and pressure on the women to take care of their children and maintain their houses. It is the case of many women who have recently given birth or have newborns to spend very little time recuperating from their births, they often rest 3-5 days and immediately go back to lifting heavy buckets of water or spend very little time breastfeeding their children.

In one conversation, we discovered that it was common for women to stop breastfeeding between 3 and 6 month of age, significantly contributing to malnutrition and problems with diarrhea – the leading cause of death among infants in the communities we are working in. We have made significant advances in the prevention and treatment of diarrhea and dehydration, in addition to other easily preventable health conditions in the communities, but one factor remains a constant threat to the Achuar people – contaminated water.

Shelly Rachanow: Water.org, which was cofounded by Matt Damon and Gary White, reports that nearly one billion people on our planet lack access to safe water. They also note that the Ancient Romans had better water quality than half of the world’s population does now. How does water quality impact the Achuar people, and particularly, Achuar women during childbirth?

Robin Fink / Margaret Love: Contaminated water is the most problematic obstacle standing in the way of the health and well-being of the Achuar. In the past, Achuar communities would only stay in one part of the territory for up to 15-20 years before relocating to another plot of land. However, recently people have settled in one location and the land’s capacity for supporting growing populations is decreasing.

In one community, Pumpuentsa, for example, only two tiny creeks provide nearly 275 people with water for drinking, bathing, washing dishes, washing clothes, and cleaning meat. In an effort to address this problem, the county municipal government installed water systems that pump water from a cleaner water source – one that requires diesel in order to function. Keeping in mind that the only way to access these communities is via Cesna airplane, bringing in diesel from the exterior is hardly sustainable.

In addition, the municipal government did not provide the community with any education in maintenance of the system or how to navigate the eventual bureaucratic process once the system breaks. As a result of this unsatisfactory use of infrastructure, the community of Pumpuentsa has been without clean pumped water since April of 2010.

If a mother needs all the strength she can get after giving birth and yet she is drinking contaminated water, it is near impossible to ensure her own health let alone the health of her newborn and of her other children. The easy solution would be to tell them to boil water, but can you imagine the time it takes to boil enough water for a family of 8 over a wood campfire every day, in addition to all your other responsibilities.

Shelly Rachanow: How can we improve health and sanitation for people all over the world, while still respecting different cultures and ways of life?

Robin Fink / Margaret Love: The most important thing we can do to help improve health and sanitation conditions for people living all around the world begins first by listening and working to achieve an understanding of local needs, obstacles, cultural barriers, and culturally respectful means of action. Perhaps the greatest failure of all well-intentioned foreign aid projects originates from the beginning – when we as outsiders approach a local ‘problem’ without thinking through the consequences, obstacles, and local norms of action. It is wonderful to want to provide communities with water systems, but there is a double-edged sword to unwise, un-thought-out development.

By providing communities with resources that fall under the responsibilities of local and national power structures of authority, you are in effect guaranteeing the continued inefficiency of those larger bodies. You are also disempowering local communities by not providing them with the resources they need to eventually navigate the omnipotent system. So the greatest thing that people working in development or interested in helping people at the community level is to work towards building partnerships with local institutions and providing the resources that local community members need to be able to actively solve the problems in their community.

We are working both with local community members, local government, the Achuar Federation of Ecuador (NAE) and are currently building alliances with Ecuadorian governmental organizations and other international organizations to help find a solution to the contaminated water currently plaguing the Achuar.

Shelly Rachanow: What’s one thing each of us can do right now to make a difference? And, in particular, how can we support the Jungle Mamas Program?

Robin Fink / Margaret Love: You do not have to travel to a foreign country to make a difference in this world. Change starts in your heart and an active decision to open yourself up to what is happening in the world today. For those interested in learning more about the initiatives on climate change, and supporting indigenous initiatives, please visit http://www.pachamama.org/. To learn more about the Achuar, and for those interested in traveling to Ecuador to experience the Amazon with the Achuar, see this most recent NYT article: http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/travel/17Ecuador.html?ref=travel

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

Robin Fink / Margaret Love: The key to self and community empowerment lies in education. If I ran the world, I would make sure that everyone, regardless of gender identification, class, ethnicity, and age has access to a good education. What makes life so full of inequalities is the variable access to resources, not just economic resources, but social and basic.

Education is empowerment. When one has an education, one is better able to visualize a different future and thus take responsibility in creating it. An education, no matter how basic, provides people with the ability to believe in themselves and to access certain resources that allow for the creation of new opportunities and the realization of dreams. I was able to visualize my dreams thanks to my (albeit privileged) education and the very fact that I had people who believed in me, thus creating a belief in myself – a true sense of empowerment.

In the hypothetical circumstance that I should run the world, I would encourage children starting at a very young age to believe in themselves, for the members of their families to empower each other to envision new possibilities and that solutions to problems can originate from within.

For more information about or to support Jungle Mamas, please contact program director, Margaret Love margaret@pachamama.org or Ecuador program manager, Robin Fink at rfink@pachamama.org.ec.

Follow Jungle Mamas on Twitter: @Junglemamas

See videos of our workshops at: http://vimeo.com/user4829164

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Fatigue Prescription: An Interview with Linda Hawes Clever, MD

Linda Hawes Clever, MD received both undergraduate and medical degrees from Stanford University where she now serves the School of Medicine as Associate Dean for Alumni Affairs. She is founding chair of the Department of Occupational Health at California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Clever was the first woman governor in the American College of Physicians.

She is also founder and president of RENEW, a special project of the Institute for Health & Healing, at CPMC. RENEW is aimed at helping devoted people maintain and regain enthusiasm, effectiveness, and purpose as they navigate the challenges of work and life.

Dr. Clever’s widely acclaimed book The Fatigue Prescription: Four Steps to Renewing Your Energy, Health and Life was published in 2010 and I was so excited to talk to her about it.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about your book, The Fatigue Prescription.

Linda Hawes Clever: The book was born out of my conviction that you are important and worthwhile. You may have crushing pressures and troubles yet also have more resilience, courage, and resources than you think. The challenge is how to surface those so you can be enthusiastic, effective, and have meaning and joy in your life! As part of my work with the not-for-profit, RENEW, I asked people across the country and listened as they answered the question “How do you ‘renew’?” The book collects their answers and the results of other research. It offers profound yet practical ways to lift and focus your spirit and talent – along with your body, relationships, and attitudes.

Shelly Rachanow: So many people, myself included, often feel overwhelmed by all the things going on in their lives. What can we do to feel more revitalized and renewed?

Linda Hawes Clever: When you know your values, you can set priorities and do things that are central to your – and your dear ones’ – hopes and dreams. The fact is, you can’t Do It All, all the time. No one can. As you decide what to emphasize – body, soul, family and friends, outlook, learning – the frazzle drops away. . . if, of course, you can say “No” at the right time and in the right way :).

Shelly Rachanow: You organized a non-profit organization called RENEW. What inspired you to do so, and what is RENEW all about?

Linda Hawes Clever: RENEW helps people juggle work, family and community commitments and sustain their enthusiasm, effectiveness and purpose. It grew out of a terrible time in my life when I had to weather my parent’s death, my husband’s cancer (he is fine now!), losing two jobs, our home burglary and vandalism – among other things. My good friend, John W. Gardner, who had founded Common Cause and who wrote extensively on leadership, excellence and renewing, pointed out that this was the perfect time to put renewing theory into practice. With friends and colleagues, I started RENEW, which offers keynotes, workshops, seminars, Conversations Groups©, and teaches others how to convene Conversation Groups. We have a great time, doing what we do!

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us about a wonderful tool you use called the RENEW-O-METER.

Linda Hawes Clever: The RENEW-o-Meter is all about awareness, the first step in renewing. It is based on studies that have looked into ways you get and stay whole and healthy. You can total your points as you score yourself and see how much you need to renew. You can also notice which questions jump out at you. They may show where you need to start renewing – or where you are renewing and need to make sure you keep on. The RENEW-o-Meter is in The Fatigue Prescription’s Introduction and also on RENEW’s website http://www.renewnow.org/.

Shelly Rachanow: If there’s one thing readers can do right now to feel more energized, what would that be?

Linda Hawes Clever: Know that you are important and therefore that it is not selfish to take care of yourself. It is self-preservation so you can do the things you want and need to do.

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

Linda Hawes Clever: I would educate all people so they would use the safe water, healthy food, immunizations, and medicines I would make available to everyone worldwide. Imagine the fun--and the peace!--we would have.

For more information, visit:

RENEW Website: http://www.renewnow.org/

The Fatigue Prescription website: http://www.thefatigueprescription.com/

Email: renewjuggler@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Help! My Baby Came Without Instructions: An Interview with Blythe Lipman

Blythe Lipman has taken care of over 1,000 babies in the past twenty-five years. She worked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Boston as a volunteer while attending Boston University and is now the president of Baby Instructions in Scottsdale, Arizona. She has set up infant rooms with turn-key operations in many preschools throughout the country.

Blythe works extensively with new parents, providing seminars, tips and daily phone calls of reassurance. Blythe presents workshops sharing her expertise and easy-to-use tips to make those first years the easiest and best! Her parent books have won numerous awards of recognition.

Though I’m not currently a mom, I know if I ever become one, Blythe's books will become permanent fixtures by my bedside! I was really excited to talk to Blythe about all her wonderful insights.

Shelly Rachanow: I LOVE the title of your book, Help! My Baby Came Without Instructions. Tell us more about it.

Blythe Lipman: Here's the Story: One day when I was running an infant room in a preschool, a mom brought little 5 ½ month old Sophie in for her first day. As she walked in with Sophie in her car-seat she said, “You have to help me. Sophie has been sleeping in her car-seat since she was born. I don't know how to get her to sleep in her crib, she just cries!” That night when I went home from work, I sat down at my computer and started writing the first page of my book.

I always knew there were no instructions for new parents and the book had been in my head for years, but little Sophie was the baby that pushed me to sit down and start writing. And my thought was to have a book that was in list form so parents only need to go down the list and pick the tip that works best whether it be crying, sleeping, eating, bathing and a myriad of other topics. Let's face it, when a baby cries, moms don't have the time, patience or energy to sit down and read cumbersome chapters in a book or on the internet. They want their baby to feel better immediately and that is what my book does...provides those tips to help NOW!

P.S. Little Sophie was sleeping in her crib that first night. I taught her mom how to put her in the crib using a swaddle and sleep positioner so she felt safe and cozy in her crib.

Shelly Rachanow: One of the biggest things that's always scared me about being a mom is that I would do something “wrong.” What words of wisdom do you have for parents who may feel the same way?

Blythe Lipman: I don't think there is a parent in the world that isn't afraid that they are going to make a mistake. Here are my words of wisdom for every new parent: Each baby is wrapped up in it's own unique little package. They are all wonderfully different. So there is no right or wrong when caring for your baby. What works for one baby may not work for another baby and that's okay. Just go with your gut and your heart when caring for your baby. You will receive lots of well-meaning advice, just smile, say “thank you” and do what works best for you and your baby. While I give new parents lots of tips when caring for their babies, I teach them confidence. When a parent is confident, then the rest is easy.

Shelly Rachanow: These days, many people live away from their families and don’t always have their own parents, grandparents, or siblings around to lend a hand with a new baby. What advice do you have for people in that situation?

Blythe Lipman: Don't ever be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help, whether it be from a babysitter, husband or a friend. Being a parent puts many new pressures on us that aren't always easy. And trying to be a “Supermom” won't make any difference to your baby, it will just exhaust you! Remember to take care of yourself, too. When the baby naps, you nap...the dishes will still be there when you get up!

Also, pick one book or reference, (hopefully my book!) to use when you have questions. Too many resources can be confusing and frustrating. You know the old adage: “Ask ten people the same question and you will get ten answers!”

Shelly Rachanow: You have some wonderful tips in your book for what to do when a baby won’t stop crying, for making sleep time easy, and so much more. Give us a small sample of things people can do in those situations.

Blythe Lipman: Some ideas include:
  1. Put a receiving blanket in the dryer for a few minutes and make it warm and toasty (not hot), then swaddle your little bundle in the warm blanket.
  2. Turn on your clothes dryer and lay a receiving blanket on top of the dryer. Then gently lay your swaddled baby on top of the dryer on her back. Gently stroke her cheeks with your fingertips and say “Shh.” The warmth from the blanket, the vibration from the dryer, and your calming presence should stop the tears.
  3. If you know your baby isn't hungry, doesn't have to burp, her diaper isn't pinching and she is just having a cranky day, walk outside with her. Just open the door and step outside, the change in scenery usually calms any baby!
Shelly Rachanow: What’s the most important thing you want new parents to know?

Blythe Lipman: Babies grow up so quickly. Don't expend your energy worrying about your parenting skills. Just enjoy each and every moment and be confident that if your baby is eating, sleeping, growing and giving you lots of smiles, then you are doing a great job!!

“Babies are such a nice way to start people.” – Don Herrold

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

Blythe Lipman: If I ran the world I would make sure each woman gave herself permission to be exactly who she is, to make decisions based on her knowledge, experience and confidence. And to take care of herself first, not last. We women are very strong but tend to put ourselves last, and if we don't we are considered selfish. That's the wrong message to teach our daughters (and sons).

So many times I thought, if I just finish this task then I can take a nap, eat a piece of chocolate or do something just for me. It dawned on me a number of years ago that I will never take care of me with this attitude. It's like doing the laundry, there is always another piece to wash...it's never done! So now...the “new me” takes a minute to stop, breathe and think about what I am doing and if it's working.

I do realize that age and experience play a part in getting to know yourself, but maybe with a different attitude and more confidence, we'll take better care of ourselves sooner.

For more information or to contact Blythe, visit:

Website: http://babyinstructions.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Baby-Instructions/10150134590360453
Twitter: http://twitter.com/BabyInstruction
Radio Show: http://toginet.com/shows/babyandtoddlerinstructions
Podcast: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/baby-toddler-instructions/id342291190
Arizona Midday Channel 12 KPNX

And to set up an in-home, video or telephone consultation, as well as a workshop, contact Blythe at babyinstructions@cox.net.