Pass Along Hope

Every 9 seconds in this country a woman is assaulted or beaten. In the state of Pennsylvania alone, more than 140 residents lost their lives to domestic violence in 2012. That is 140 too many from just one state. If we multiply that by 50 states there are 7000 lives gone too soon from domestic violence.

Verizon Wireless and the Philadelphia Eagles are partnering to raise awareness through a campaign called Pass Along Hope. You can help by simply tweeting a message of hope for victims and survivors of domestic violence using the hashtag #EaglesVZWHope. Every time the hashtag is used during the month of April, Verizon Wireless will contribute $1, up to $15,000, to the Pass Along Hope campaign. Just click on the image below and RT to help:


You can also go directly to the tweet here.

If you live in the region you can also contribute by bringing unused cell phones, batteries and accessories to any regional Verizon Wireless store. They will be donated to the HopeLine program, which provides lifelines to victims of domestic violence.

You don’t have to be an Eagles fan or a Verizon Wireless customer to help – anyone can make a difference.

Happy Thoughtful Thursday!
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Thoughtful Thursday: It’s a Junga World Out There

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One of my goals for this year has been to live more mindfully and more purposefully. Life has been frantic for the past few years, so I wanted to make a more concerted effort to stop and breathe every once in a while. Actually, I needed to do it for the sake of my sanity.

Sometimes I wish my kids would practice this more as well. These are difficult concepts to teach a kid. Sometimes they are even difficult to teach an adult!

Junga World is an edgy new children’s media project developed by a team of artists and animators who want to teach mindfulness to kids. It is a digital comic and animated series for kids ages 5-12 with an app on the way. It is based on six teenagers who learn to practice self-kindness, mindfulness, and a sense of shared experiences with others. Each of these friends (and bandmates) have different challenges, yet they are all on a quest to find their Junga, the passion and purpose that fulfills them. Will the musicians succeed in their efforts to discover their inner rockstars?

The lessons from Junga World, based on curriculum devised by UCLA professor Diana Winston, are designed to teach children the various tools to help them face the pressures and challenges of growing up.

With catchy, upbeat songs, lively stories and lovable characters, viewers get to watch and absorb the lessons in the episode, which have been carefully designed to speak to kids in their language. They will learn about paying attention to life experiences, to recognizing and eliminating negative thoughts, to be kind to themselves, and to think of others. What parent would not want their children to learn those lessons?

Right now Junga World is a project on Kickstarter, and they are hoping to raise the funds to produce additional video clips, music videos, and hopefully a web series. You can watch the exclusive sneak peak trailer and find out more about the project here. Their powerful premiere song, Power Within Me, is available now on iTunes.

After hearing this week about two children who are suffering from unbearable bullying, it does not go unnoticed that regardless of age we could all use a little more mindfulness. If you can help the Junga World project in any way, please consider doing so.


What have you got for us on this Thoughtful Thursday?

The Genetics of One’s Weight

Genetic test can predict your risk for obesityIf you could tell a Kindergartner what his or her weight might be as an adult, would you? This gets filed in the, “I’m not so sure how I feel about this” category, which is why I am bringing it to you. Scientists have found that a simple blood test, which can read DNA, could be used to predict obesity levels in children.

But is this something that you would want to know?

Part of me understands that this can be helpful for working with children who are at risk for obesity, as well as its corresponding health concerns. This test could lead to earlier identification and diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, for example.

Yet as a parent, my first thought is that kids should be taught the same information about health, nutrition and fitness regardless of their risk factors. These are lessons that will benefit everyone throughout life, not just those who are at a higher risk for obesity. Additionally, this will not single out those who are at risk, perhaps making them feel insecure or put them at risk for bullying. While I am all for advances in medicine and wellness, this is one area where I think we should proceed with heightened caution.

This test does provide further evidence that being overweight or obese in childhood is not necessarily due to lifestyle, but may in fact be genetic in nature. There are switches in the body that control how genes work, and those switches are set during childhood. By the age of five, a test can predict one’s body fat content into adulthood. While one might think that this would reduce the propensity to fat shame, who knows if it could have the opposite affect.

What do you think? Would you want to know if your children are at a genetic high risk for obesity?

Come On, Get Happy!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone were happy? What if we could all be happy at the same time, even for just one day?

This week we are turning Thoughtful Thursday into Happy Thursday. Why? Because this Thursday, March 20th, is the International Day of Happiness.

You are already happier having just read that, aren’t you? Thought so.

At 5:00 pm EST there will be an hour-long surge of positive energy across various platforms of social media. Learn more at You can follow along on Twitter or Instagram at #HappyDay. You can join along on Facebook too, at Global Hour + Social Good.

The International Day of Happiness is the brainchild of the United Nations Foundation, and it is being done in conjunction with musician Pharrell Williams and his hit song, Happy.

So, who wants to be happy with me?

Discover the Forest, Why Don’t You?

Did you and your kid love the movie Rio? Well, guess what. In an effort to encourage children to spend more time outdoors and reconnect with nature, the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council are joining 20th Century Fox to launch a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring scenes and characters from the second installment of the animated film, Rio 2. A similar campaign was done for the release of the Smurfs movie.

Children who spend time outdoors have lower stress levels and more active imaginations. They have the opportunity to become more physically active and fit. They also may develop an appreciation for the environment.

With a mission to give children a stronger love of nature, the Discover the Forest campaign hopes to use the film’s release to promote spending more time outdoors. As a parent of two kids who sometimes need to be dragged away from their technology to get outside, I love this effort. Any reminder of the beauty out there is fine by me.

For more about the campaign, visit

What Happens to Misprinted Sports Apparel?

What happens to misprinted sports memorabilia? #socialgood #beinspiredEvery year in major sports a final event comes down to two teams. Every year when I watch these events, I see the printed memorabilia that players are wearing stating that they are winners just moments after the game has ended. Knowing someone who does apparel and accessories printing for several major stores, I have heard stories of  that rushing to work as the winner is announced to start printing out his gear.

This year it was the Seattle Seahawks who donned the apparel after that final game of NFL football season in a stunning show of domination over an opponent. Before the confetti had settled players were already wearing their championship memorabilia.

But what about the other team? Clearly they must have to print items for both teams in advance of the game, and plenty of it. What happened to all the hats and shirts that declared the Broncos the winners of the big game?

I have always wondered about this.

Having always assumed that it was donated somewhere outside of the United States. Today I found out that this is exactly what happens. It makes me so happy to know that people in need will receive the items rather than get destroyed.

According to the article, prior to 1996, the league would destroy merchandise that was ultimately misprinted. However, for the past 17 years, World Vision has been given the merchandise as a donation.  Misprinted sports apparel and merchandise from championship games from the NFL and other leagues comprised 60 pallets of product that were sent to people in need around the world last year.

What inspired you this week?

What Falling in Love Does to the Body and Mind

When was the first time you fell in love?

My son and his friends are at that age when some of them are starting to have their first crushes. While he is not there just yet, a few of his friends, and particularly the girls, are already feeling that flutter when the object of their attention walks by in the hallway. It seems like yesterday that it was me and my friends in the same situation, though watching it now as a parent is quite entertaining. While I fear the moment when he feels that first heartbreak, I know it something pretty much everyone will experience at some time.

As a parent today it’s a whole new world of falling in love by phone. In the eighties and nineties we passed notes. Now they text, send each other “selfies”, and Instagram message one another instead.

Did you know that falling in love only takes about one fifth of a second? How’s that for a Valentine’s Day fun fact?

That moment when you start to “crush” on someone (as the kids around here like to call it) is a biggie in a person’s life, no matter how young or old you are when feel it, whether it is with an elementary school classmate or having those first feelings again after a divorce. And on this, the week of Valentine’s Day, it may be a great time to talk with our kids about what happens to the body when it starts to develop those feelings.

Crushing on someone or falling in love (for our more mature audiences) makes our bodies release dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin, and norepinephrine, chemicals that generate a variety of perhaps somewhat unfamiliar reactions. It is common for those who are feeling this way to have flushed faces (blushing), sweaty palms, racing hearts, a feeling of euphoria, and a range of sexual desires. Now do not panic when you hear the term “sexual desires” because they would, of course, differ based on age. For a young child that may just be the desire to kiss their crush and nothing more than that, yet. But those feelings we get, both emotional and physical? The redness that fills our faces (or those of our children) making it obvious when there is a special someone? Those are oh so real.

The physical effects of falling in love includes reduced serotonin levels, which gives us more of a feeling of euphoria. Perhaps that is also why a heartbreak can be so darn difficult to overcome, when the mind goes from a high to a low so rapidly. Soon I will be the parent trying to help my kids with crushes and heartbreaks, and while that excites me it really does scare me too. But it’s Valentine’s Day, let’s not worry about heartbreak and focus on the love part instead, shall we?

So, when was the first time you fell in love?
Falling in love

Sources: Loyola Medicine, Syracuse University, University of Haifa

A Competition to Help Those Affected by Cancer

Thoughtful Thursday LinkyDo you have an idea that could help make the lives of people with cancer a little brighter? Can you think of a way to help caregivers and family members?

This week the LIVESTRONG Foundation launched a competition to generate innovations that will improve the daily quality of life for people affected by cancer. The “Big C competition” hopes to create a movement that gets people, organizations and big businesses to collaborate in a way that creates sustainable enterprises that help those affected by cancer as well as for the family, friends and caregivers. Verb, a social good entrepreneurship competition organizer, is facilitating the competition.

I love this idea! What a great way to get people thinking that even a small idea can make a big difference. The competition is open to anyone with a product, service or other innovation that helps cancer patients. Participants can submit their innovations in any of the following tracks: rebuilding financial health, regaining emotional well-being, caring for caregivers, improving access to quality care, filling the knowledge gap or any innovation that helps people affected by cancer.

Here’s the nitty gritty. Sixty total ventures will receive $140,000 in seed funding. The grand prize winner will receive an additional $25,000. Entries will be accepted until May 15th, and then judging will begin. For more information, go to:

Happy Thoughtful Thursday!

Do You Chideo Yet?

Thoughtful Thursday LinkyToday I read about this really cool new site that launched this week. It’s called Chideo, which stands for charity plus video. Here’s how it works. Celebrities and famous personalities create videos for fans to see based on ideas generated from fans. Then the fans get to vote on the ideas and share them via social outlets. The ideas that get the most votes may be brought to life by the celebrities.

What a fun and unique new way to give back! So far the site has over 60 celebrities and over 50 amazing charities involved (including a few that I have written about here on this site), and they just launched this week. You can check it out and start participating at

In other news, welcome to Sarah Hughes of Finnegan and the Hughes, my new co-host on the Thoughtful Thursday blog hop/linky! As usual, we are looking for your inspiring, thought-provoking, thoughtful posts – so be sure to link up!

Thoughtful Thursday

This week’s Thoughtful Thursday is all about you. I haven’t taken a moment in a while to say thank you. Thank you for reading this blog, for adding your links, and for participating week in and week out. It has been wonderful having you here. Wishing you many wonderful Thoughtful Thursdays.

Be a Champion for Kids!

Be a Champion for Kids!Champions for Kids has a goal of mobilizing 20 million people by 2020 to help kids, whether in their neighborhoods or around the world. As a huge fan of Champions for Kids, I want to share their January Simple Service Project with you.

Sadly, as kids throughout country are returning to school this January, many of them will lack the resources they need to thrive, from food to school supplies. In fact, last year teachers spent a combined $1.2 billion of their own money on classroom supplies. So this January, why not give a child near you supplies to will help children succeed in the classroom, easing the burden on teachers and the children who cannot otherwise afford the supplies?

You may want to start by learning about the issues affecting your local schools, as various districts and schools may have different needs. Participate on your own or gather together your family, friends, and neighbors. Ask them to bring school and classroom supplies such as paper, markers, and boxes of tissues to donate. Then just give the items you collect to a teacher, school administrator, or to an after-school program in your community.

And if you do choose to participate, feel free to share your story at

Happy first Thoughtful Thursday of the year!

Helping with Hope, the Nelson Mandela Fondation

One of my very favorite quotes is from Nelson Mandela, who once said that, “a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

As people around the world mourn his passing this week, there is something we can all do to make a difference. “Hope” is a song for which Nelson Mandela personally wrote and recorded lyrics, that has been released by pop star Emin. The song was intended to celebrate 2014 World Peace Day, but was released to honor Mandela after his passing.

All proceeds from downloads of the song on iTunes will benefit the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, which strives to improve the way society treats children and youth, believing that all children should enjoy a life free of hunger, abuse, and exploitation.

In the song, Mandela says, “The generosity of the human spirit can overcome all adversity. Through compassion and caring, we can create hope.”

You can listen to it here:

Thoughtful Thursday: Where Angels Play

Where Angels PlayAs we approach the one year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th. That makes it the right time to tell you about The Sandy Ground: Where Angels Play.

The group was inspired by the senseless violence in Newtown, CT and the damage done to the storm ravaged east coast after Hurricane Sandy. In an effort to honor the victims and restore the area, the group has made it their mission to build 26 playgrounds, one for every life taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School on that horrible day. When completed, the playgrounds will stand as 26 living memorials for all children who have been victims of violence while creating safe, fun places for children to be children.

To date, 13 playgrounds have been built with help from local communities, so they still have a ways to go. If you would like to help out, go to:

Project Sunlight

Unilever Project SunlightWhat would it take to make you live a more sustainable lifestyle? What would convince you that we need to focus more on the little things that can help save the planet for future generations?

This week Unilever announced the launch of Project Sunlight, an initiative designed to motivate people to live more sustainable lifestyles. The goal of Project Sunlight is to show the possibilities of a world where everyone lives well and within the natural limits of the planet via a short film which can be seen at

Their website, invites consumers to get involved in doing small things which help their own families, others around the world and the planet as a growing community of people who want to make the world a better place for our children, and for their children. After all, it seems that children are key to motivating adults to want to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and a powerful influence on parents changing their behavior.

To mark the launch of Project Sunlight, Unilever will be helping 2 million children through its ongoing partnerships, providing school meals through the World Food Programme; supporting Save the Children to provide clean, safe drinking water; and improved hygiene through UNICEF.

Is sustainability important in the way you live now? If not, what would it take for you to make a change? And here’s one more. Would you be more loyal to a brand who is making a more concerted effort to be environmentally-friendly and encourage others to do the same? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Download. Dance. Save Lives.

World AIDS Awareness DayIf you are a child of the 80’s like me, you probably never thought it would be possible that just 32 years after HIV was first diagnosed, we are looking at the very real possibility that we can soon see the first generation free of AIDS. Growing up AIDS was so new, and there was so much stigma associated with the disease. And today in sub-Saharan Africa where the disease is still most prevalent, the UN hopes to put an end to mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.

The very real possibility of ending AIDS by 2015 is just mind boggling and amazing to me.

Music lovers get ready, because this next part is really neat. Thanks to (RED), the DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES2 music compilation album will be released on iTunes on November 25th, but you can pre-order it available now at  Proceeds from the album’s sales will go towards the Global Fund to fight AIDS.

Last year’s compilation topped the iTunes dance charts at #1 in a whopping 33 countries. This year’s album features new and original collaborative dance tracks from artists such as Avicii and Swedish House Mafia, as well as remixes from Robin Thicke and Katy Perry. You can click here to see the official trailer for DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES2.

Beginning on November 30 in Sydney, Australia, (RED) will kick off a 24-hour dance party taking place across the 2013 World AIDS Day weekend. Continuing the celebrations, (RED) will also host a series of parties in major cities across the globe, including: Singapore, Mexico City, Johannesburg, London, New York and Los Angeles.

So download, dance, and let’s celebrate a world free of AIDS. For more information, go to:  

The Chemical Safety Improvement Act

Chemical Safety Improvement Act Last week on Capitol Hill, Seventh Generation’s CEO John Replogle convened a panel discussion on why the current law governing chemicals in the United States, called the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), urgently needs to be updated.

As consumers we might assume that chemicals in our household products are tested for safety before heading to the marketplace but sadly that is not the case. According to the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition, over 80,000 chemicals have been approved for use since TSCA became law and only about 200 have these have been tested for safety over the last 37 years. What’s worse, the current law allows nearly 20% of these chemicals to remain secret, and consumers are unaware of them all together. The lack of oversight is having a real, tangible effect on people, impacting our health and wellness. Chronic disease trends are on the rise.

Evidence has suggested that chemical exposure to a wide range of serious diseases. (I have personally seen the effects of chemicals on my own son, which is a blog post for another day.)

As just one of many examples, researchers have found an association between levels of PBDE flame retardants in the cord blood of babies and delays in mental and physical development. And the widespread use of phthalates in consumer products has resulted in contamination of breast milk, umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid. Many phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that have been linked to changes in sex hormone levels, obesity, reduced female fertility, preterm birth and low birth weight, a worsening of allergy and asthma symptoms, and altered toddler behavior.

Introduced this year by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA), the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), would update regulations on toxic chemicals and incentivize companies to work with federal regulators on testing and disclosure.  More information on the legislation and the need for reform can be found at,, and

Are you in support of the Chemical Safety Improvement Act? If so, consider talking to your state representative about supporting this act so that we can all live without harmful chemicals in our products.

A Cancer Kick-Starter

A Cancer Kick-StarterI love this idea! A cancer survivor launched a non-profit organization to connect cancer patients along with their friends and family to cancer researchers. is one of the first websites of its kind and it is utilizing a kickstarter approach to raising funds for research and clinical trials. was created by cancer survivor Martin Smith and Raleigh web and software developers Atlantic BT. At the present time, the website costs are being paid by Smith and Atlantic BT as a payback and pay forward “Thank You” to cancer researchers and great cancer care institutions. If you are interested in helping, they are accepting donations from many web visitors.

The site is free for federally designated cancer centers and cancer patients, their friends and family to use. Cancer Centers can upload information about cancer research so patients and donors can “see inside the lab” for the first time.

The organization features cancer research from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center,the Duke Cancer Institute, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. They plan to extend to other federally designated cancer research centers soon.

Crowdfunding cancer research sprang into Smith’s mind when his oncologist Dr. Hank van Deventer shared how his recent cancer research NIH application for fibrocyte research was turned down during one of Smith’s 18 rounds of chemotherapy. His research was one of the first campaigns shared on the site. For more information, go to

Happy Thoughtful Thursday to you!

Get Keith Urban’s Guitar

Keith UrbanGot a Keith Urban fan in the house? Are there any country music fans or guitar players? He has sold more than 15 million albums, won four GRAMMY Awards and won Best Male Vocalist three times, and became the Entertainer of the Year. Oh, and he has won five Academy of Country Music Awards, an American Music Award and People’s Choice Award. He’s had 15 No. 1 singles and five consecutive platinum or multi-platinum albums.

Not bad, right?

Now, you or one of your loved ones can own an URBAN guitar. The URBAN Guitar Collection features two versions of the “Phoenix Edition” guitar – electric and acoustic/electric. It is the same kind used by Keith Urban at his shows. It is part of a 21-piece set that includes a custom amplifier, coated guitar strings, embroidered guitar strap, guitar picks and more. Also included are two instructional DVDs.

Even better, a portion of the proceeds from the URBAN Guitar Collection, as well as guitar packages, will go to Mr Holland’s Opus Foundation and the GRAMMY Foundation.

The collection will become available for sale exclusively on HSN, and via HSN Mobile on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013 at 12:01 A.M. (ET). That just happens to be my birthday in case you are interested in buying me a present.

I have no personal affiliation with HSN or the URBAN Guitar collection, not will I benefit in any way from the sale of the items. I just think it is pretty darn awesome!

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