Monday, January 25, 2010

How in the World Can I Make a Difference that Counts?

A devastating earthquake in Haiti. Sexual abuse of thousands of women and girls throughout our war-torn world. American families forced from their foreclosed homes - homelessness on the rise. Smog-filled skies and polluted rivers. Shuttered businesses - 12.3% unemployment nationwide, and growing. Under-funded schools, unconscionable dropout rates. Drug-gang violence....
As the world's woes bombard us from every direction, and appeals for help flood our email and mail boxes, so is it natural for each of us to feel both overwhelmed and anxious to do something significant to help, somehow.
This is when the suffocating questions begin to suffuse our thoughts about taking action. 'Where do I begin? How can I make a difference? What is the most pressing problem? I'm just one person; how can my limited resources make the biggest impact?' While each of these questions is valid, rather than helping us take focused action, they often have the opposite effect; they force us into knee-jerk responses at best, and an utter standstill at worst.
How can we move from this unsatisfying place
to one where we consciously commit ourselves and our resources to causes that matter both to the world and to us?
Yes, both components - positively impacting the world and ourselves - are key. Why? Because sharing our resources from a win-win place means that we are expressing our authentic selves in response to the world's needs. Finding and sticking with these matches enables us to give freely and joyfully. As important, saying 'Yes' from our authentic selves to specific causes and organizations frees us from guilt about saying 'No, thank you' to others.
I propose 3 phases towards commitment that may be repeated yearly, biannually, or whenever there's a change in our live's warranting review of our current choices:

Self-Awareness -- Exploring the Options -- Taking Action

1. Ask yourself:
"What do I care about right now?"
For example: the environment; women's issues; animal rights; domestic and international poverty alleviation; healthcare; literacy...
Prioritize your top 2-6 choices. Save the others for the future (or for others who have them at the top of
their lists).
2. Then ask yourself,
"At this time in my life, what are my specific, realistic, available resources that I'd like to share?"
categories below with examples)
special skills and/or hobbies - athletics, personal finance how-tos
financial contributions - amount quarterly, semi-annually, annually
volunteering/pro bono work - what type, how often, duration
other donations - clothing, books, food, giving blood
providing connections - government officials, educators, business leaders...
other - ...
Once you've identified types/amounts/times above...
Merge 1 and 2: what matters to you now with the resources you can and want to contribute. *At this point you may not know the specific organization(s) you'll be volunteering for, or contributing to, but you will know the cause(s) you're enthusiastically and realistically ready to put your resources behind.

Now that you've merged your whats with your hows, you're ready to move to exploration. It's a great way to connect with others and discover what resonates with YOU.
Ask: friends and colleagues via email, facebook, linkedin, twitter, face to face
Research the Web: key terms/organizations serving your causes
Visit/Interview: an organization and others who've committed to organizations you're targeting
Check-in with yourself. 'Am I excited about being involved in this cause? Is this organization where I want to put my time and/or resources?' If so, move to Phase 3. If not, move to the next cause or organization on your list until you find the 'right' fit for YOU.

Say 'Yes' to causes and organizations that resonate with YOU.
Enjoy the commitment(s) you've made to make a positive difference in the world.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Join me and 3 other Authors on Feb. 6th at The 16th Annual Festival of Female Authors

What is it like to be an author? What are the steps, challenges and highlights along the way? Please join me and three other authors as we discuss our journeys and our books at the:

16th Annual


SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2010, 8:45- 3:30


on the Berkeley Marina

Four women authors from California highlight the 16th annual Festival of Women Authors sponsored by the YWCA Berkeley/Oakland. The Festival, at H’s Lordships on the Berkeley Marina, is a full day of presentations, questions and answers and book signings on Saturday, February 6, 2010. Doors open at 8:45 a.m. Book lovers, writers and members of book clubs are invited to enjoy a continental breakfast and luncheon along with a full day of literary entertainment. Books by the featured authors will be sold by Books, Inc., Alameda throughout the day with 20% of the proceeds going toward support of YWCA programs.

The featured authors for 2010 are Dana Whitaker, Bonnie Tsui, Michelle Richmond, and Vivienne Sosnowski

Dana Whitaker’s stories and photographs in Transforming Lives $40 at a Time, Women + Microfinance: Upending the Status Quo, bring readers face-to-face with the dreams, fears, and successes of some of the world’s poorest women from five continents. Dana holds Master of Arts degrees in education from Stanford University and The George Washington University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from U.C. at Berkeley, and is a graduate of the Newfield Network, an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coaching program. She lives in Berkeley with her husband and son.

Bonnie Tsui is the author of American Chinatown: A People’s History of Five Neighborhoods. A frequent contributor to The New York Times, she has also written for The Atlantic Monthly, National Geographic Adventure, and Mother Jones. She is a recipient of the Radcliffe Traveling Fellowship, the Lowell Thomas Award for travel journalism, and the Jane Rainie Opel Award from the Radcliffe Institute.

Michelle Richmond is the author of four books of fiction, including the critically acclaimed novel No One You Know and the New York Times bestseller, The Year of Fog. She is the recipient of the Hillsdale Award for Fiction, the Associated Writing Programs Award, and the James Michener Fellowship. She lives in San Francisco.

Vivienne Sosnowski is the author of When the Rivers Ran Red which has appeared on the San Francisco Chronicle's best-selling book list. This is the first book for this long-time journalist who cites two years of persistent searching through both national and local libraries and archives; through old files in court houses and newspapers and even in family photo albums as the basis for her history. She lives both in Healdsburg, CA, and Vancouver, Canada, and is at work on her second book.

The YWCA Berkeley/Oakland has been providing programs and services for women and girls, University of California students and the greater community in Berkeley and Oakland for over 120 years. Current community services include: Youth Development Program, Youth Mentor Program, TechGYRLS, Leadership Development Programs, English-In-Action and a diverse group of health, fitness and dance classes. Tax-deductible donations are always accepted to support programs at the YWCA. Tickets for the Festival of Women Authors are $70 per person in advance and include a continental breakfast and lunch. Tickets at the door are $80 and do not include lunch. Call the YWCA at 510-848-6370 to make your reservation. Ample free parking is available.

To register for the Festival of Women Authors
visit us on the web at or call us at (510) 848-6370.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

HAITI - How Can We Help?

How can we help the Haitians? I've chosen an immediate and long-term strategy in order to address the current and future needs of the people.

IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE: The Haitians are in survival mode. Therefore I am financially supporting an organization specializing in helping stabilize the people's needs right now by providing emergency assistance of food and medical assistance. WhiIe there are many organizations providing these essential services, I chose OXFAM America whose work on the ground I highly admire.

LONG-TERM ASSISTANCE: I have a background and strong belief in the power of microfinance - with both its short and long term goals focused on helping individuals take care of themselves - rather than receive a handout (which IS also necessary in any disaster like the earthquake in Haiti). Microfinance resources, including business loans, business training, insurance, health and literacy training, are key to helping no- and low- income individuals develop and grow self-sufficient businesses. Fonkoze, a microfinance organization based in Haiti, is the second organization I've chosen to support because of their life-changing work helping impoverished individuals, thus their families, work their way out of poverty. With businesses in ruins, yet those same businesses forming the core of the Haitian population's everyday needs - from providing foodstuffs to clothing, housing materials to pharmaceutical products, supporting Fonkoze will restart these much needed businesses, and help rebuild Haiti from the bottom up.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Do You Want To or Have To Make a Change? Join InChargeInChange - A Workshop Series to Help YOU Thrive in the Process

Are you currently making or getting ready to embark on a change in your professional or personal life?
How do you habitually respond to and/or enact change? How effective are you?
InChargeInChange workshops teach you about the change process.
Then you'll learn what helps and hinders you from flourishing during change.
From this awareness, you'll be able to activate the key components of yourself to not only strive for and survive a change, but to thrive while doing so!

It is said that only 10% of go-it-aloners make change happen, whereas 80% of those who seek support and guidance are successful. Sign up today for an upcoming Bay Area workshop so that you will become one who is InChargeInChange.

Are you contemplating or going through a major change that's disruptive, confusing, or challengling?Whether it's a new stage of life, a job layoff, a relationship issue, or starting a new career, we can help. We understand that change is complex and full of emotions—and we’ve developed a whole new way to look at change and navigate through it successfully.

Our InChargeInChange Workshops introduce you to your personalized ChangeCast, giving you the tools and insights to make any major life change positive and productive.

  • Get to know your personal ChangeCast

  • Understand how it works for you, or against you, in change

  • Gain clarity about your specific situation

  • Get the tools to regain control of your Change Story

  • Take action now--and keep the knowledge forever

For more details click here.
Want to see What People Are Saying?

Whos' Got the Lead in Your Change Story?Imagine that your change is like a play. Each of us has an internal cast of characters we can call on stage, so to speak, to guide us through change. We call it a ChangeCast. The way your unique ChangeCast works together during a major change determines your experience and your Change Story.
To learn more, click here

Winter Workshop Schedule
Beginning in late January, we're offering InChargeInChange workshops in two Bay Area locations, San Francisco and Berkeley. Each workshop is a four-part series.
Cost: $295

Want to save $25? Just register by 1/15. If you refer a friend who also signs up, you'll save another $25. Click here to register.
San Francisco Workshop Series
(led by Donna McDonald and Patti DiVella)
Session 1: Mon 2/1 - 6pm to 9pm
Session 2: Mon 2/8 - 6pm to 9pm
Session 3: Mon 2/22 - 6pm to 9pm
Session 4: Mon 3/1 - 6pm to 9pm
Berkeley Workshop Series
(led by Susan Wayne and Dana Whitaker)
Session 1: Wed 1/27 - 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Session 2: Wed 2/3 - 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Session 3: Wed 2/10 - 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Session 4: Wed 2/24 - 5:30pm to 8:30pm

Read about the leaders and our approach

This year, give yourself a lasting gift--the tools and insights to thrive under the influence of change/ Happy New Year from the ChangeCast team!

Questions about our workshop? Just email, or
To learn more about ChangeCast, visit us at