Category Archives: Guest Author

Real Soulful Site Inspires People

real-soulful-random-acts-kindness

A new social networking site to INSPIRE US!

Social Networking Entrepreneur Tiffany Cooper is spreading the news about a new online social network that promotes positive social networking and allows users to improve their emotional and mental well-being.

For the month of January, Cooper is inviting users to join the www.realsoulful.com site for a different kind of resolution-setting: helping others. Beginning January 1st through January 31st, the new social network is challenging its users to find one kind act that they can do that benefits someone else.

“So many people spend this time of year thinking of ways to improve their lives, which is great.” says Cooper. “Whether it’s to exercise more, eat less, make more money, spend less – we start out strong, but often lose our way before Valentine’s Day. I believe these goals often fail because they lack true inspiration behind them.”

“It’s amazing, though, what we can do when we stop focusing on ourselves and set out to help others,” explains Cooper. “Performing daily acts of kindness has been sceintifically proven to benefit a person’s heart, reduce anxiety, allow for better sleep, improve relationships, lower blood pressure, and simply make people happier and more satisfied with their lives. Who could ask for more in the New Year?”

Realsoulful.com launched in Beta-mode in February 2014 and has over 750 global users to date, with a demographic of 58% female and 42% males. Users are encouraged to share their stories of kindness on the realsoulful.com site to help “promote positivity and inspire others.”

Found at realsouful.com, the “Soulful Networking” site is designed to go beyond sharing everyday happenings (like on most social networking sites) to connecting people on a higher level in areas such as personal growth, gratitude, inspiration and supporting one another’s dreams in a purely positive space.

Cooper explains that many social media sites deal with our basic extrinsic needs, which revolve around status, image and success. While those needs are valid, the idea behind RealSoulful is to connect people at a more profound level to help meet intrinsic needs such as helping others, discovering purpose and creating a better life.

On realsoulful.com users create their own content. They can make a personal space, a “MySanctuary” page, and also post and make comments on a central forum called the “SoulCentral Stream.” In these ways it’s like other sites, but it is with a more soulful context and free of the negativity that exists on other sites.

Realsoulful.com is a free site open to anyone who is willing to abide by the site’s “Playground Rules” which include checking your ego and judgments at the door; being kind and supportive, and saying something nice or nothing at all.

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How to Live Passionately when Life Punches You

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Motivational author and speaker, Shawn Anderson, has interviewed hundreds of people who have experienced tragedy, failure and setback. He’s also been witness to many who have walked through their toughest moment only to make it to the other side with an increased passion and purpose for living.

“It’s inevitable that at one time or another life will punch us hard in the gut; no one is immune to experiencing tragedy or failure,” Anderson says. “But when it’s our turn to feel life’s stomach blow, how will we handle it? Will we ‘go the extra mile’ and passionately keep on living, or will we just give up and go through the motions?”

In his interviews, Anderson learned that extra-mile people who transition positively through life’s toughest moments practice at least one of these seven regrouping strategies.

1. They don’t quit on life. “Tragedy might have happened, huge mistakes might have been made, but the world continues. People who have walked successfully over life’s hot-coal moments always keep going. They never quit living,” Anderson shares.

2. They live day-by-day. “It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the ‘What am I going to do now?’ feeling, but extra-mile people focus on the now. They don’t let thoughts of how they’re going to deal with tomorrow defeat them,” Anderson says.

3. They find support. “By forging relationships with positive, move-forward type people, survivors trigger positive energy to flow back into their lives,” Anderson points out.

4. They get involved again. “Extra-mile people transcend life’s tragedies by not choosing isolation when life knocks them down,” Anderson shares. “It’s easy to want to hide in a cave after something bad happens, but the longer we stay in the cave, the more challenging it is to ever leave it.”

5. They remain optimistic. “Extra-mile people support themselves with their own words and actions. They don’t let negative self-talk rule their brains, and they make sure not to surrender to negative, self-defeating emotions,” Anderson says.

6. They trust their faith and look for a higher purpose in their loss. “Extra-mile people believe that there is a stronger power at work in the world. Faith in a higher power…and yourself…works miracles in overcoming bad events,” Anderson quotes.

7. They seek to add value to the world. “People who have weathered a life storm recognize the opportunity to re-evaluate their own contribution to the world. They use their event not as a forever defeat, but rather as an igniting spark to do something meaningful,” Anderson says.

The author of six motivational books, including A Better Life: An Inspiring Story About Starting Over and Extra Mile America: Stories of Inspiration, Possibility and Purpose, Anderson is not only committed to support others in overcoming life’s toughest moments, he is also a leading voice on “going the extra mile” in order to maximize potential and contribution. Last year, his Extra Mile America organization led 444 cities to declare 11/1/13 as “Extra Mile Day”… a day recognizing the capacity we each have to create positive change in ourselves, families, organizations and communities when we “go the extra mile.”

“When something bad happens, we have the choice to either throw our hands in the air and give up or ‘go the extra mile’ and keep giving life our best effort. When we achieve that extra-mile distinction, we change our destiny.”

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$25 Can Go A Long Way

I’m a Kiva lender. I work with Kiva.org to
help alleviate poverty through micro-lending. I’m one of 700,000 who
have made investments as little as $25 in food shops, vegetable co-ops,
child care centers and the like, in places like Congo, Tajikistan, and
Cambodia. It’s a way to help bring political stability and quality of
life to developing parts of the world, and do so with kindness instead
of guns, drones, tanks or rhetoric. 



Surely
nothing can stabilize life more than grassroots economic empowerment.
Take the economic leverage out of the hands of dictators and put it in
the hands of the people. Then see what real, honest democracy looks
like.



Simply put,
Kiva … works. Those seeking loans apply and submit their stories.
Local orgs coordinate with larger orgs to complete the loan process and
fund the recipients. They sign repayment guarantees on their honor in
front of their families and communities. 



As a
lender, you don’t earn interest on these loans, but you have the
tremendous satisfaction of knowing you’ve directly and vitally changed
people’s lives for the better. As a person of faith and follower of the
Golden Rule, that’s all the interest I need.



And I’ve
had great success with Kiva! Since 2008, my Foundation and I have made
twenty-one loans to small groups and individuals. 
Most of the
loans I’ve chosen to fund are to women, or groups headed by women, and
in countries and regions where women are typically oppressed or whose
voices are not heard. I believe that when we empower women in this way,
we make the world a kinder and better place.

As of today, every cent I loaned has been repaid. To me, this is
remarkable — think of the default rate in most lending situations. The
result is that I currently have funds sitting in my Kiva account,
waiting to be re-invested. I’d like you to help me choose where to allocate it. 

Here’s what I’d love you to do:

  • Visit kiva.org/lend and look at the current loan requests. These are heart-rending stories of real people who want to get ahead in life.
  • Leave the name of the person or group who most appeals to you as a comment on this blog. Include a blurb about why it appeals to you, if you like.
  • I’ll pick the top three and make the investment on your behalf with my dollars. 
  • If you are as inspired as I am by the whole process, you may become a
    Kiva lender yourself. It just takes a few minutes to sign up, and you
    can loan as little as $25.

I am really excited to see how this will go. PLEASE participate. It costs you nothing, and can help change lives!
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Obama Promises – His Long Tail Game Will Work -If Given the Chance

GIVEN THE ENORMITY 
of what Obama inherited, and given what he explicitly
promised, it remains simply a fact that Obama has delivered in a way
that the unhinged right and purist left have yet to understand or
absorb. Their short-term outbursts have missed Obama’s long game—and why
his reelection remains, in my view, as essential for this country’s
future as his original election in 2008.

Andrew Sullivan has written a  MUST READ piece called,

How Obama’s Long Game 

                Will Outsmart His Critics

Former editor of The New Republic, weekly columnist for the Sunday Times of London, Andrew brought his hugely popular blog, The Dish, to the Daily Beast in 2011. He’s the author of several books, including “Virtually Normal,” “Love Undetectable,” and “The Conservative Soul.”

This is the best, most researched article, and everyone, Republicans too, should read it. A president in the last year of his first term will always get attacked
mercilessly by his partisan opponents, and also, often, by the feistier
members of his base.

FACT – When Obama took office, the United
States was losing around 750,000 jobs a month. The last quarter of 2008
saw an annualized drop in growth approaching 9 percent. This was the
most serious downturn since the 1930s.

But
Obama did several things at once: he continued the bank bailout begun
by George W. Bush, he initiated a bailout of the auto industry, and he
worked to pass a huge stimulus package of $787 billion.


All
these decisions deserve scrutiny. And in retrospect, they were far more
successful than anyone has yet fully given Obama the credit for. The
job collapse bottomed out at the beginning of 2010, as the stimulus took
effect. Since then, the U.S. has added 2.4 million jobs. That’s not
enough, but it’s far better than what Romney would have you believe, and
more than the net jobs created under the entire Bush administration. In
2011 alone, 1.9 million private-sector jobs were created, while a net
280,000 government jobs were lost.


READ THE FULL ARTICLE OF FACTS AT THE DAILY BEAST

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Vulnerability, Self, & Oneness – By Ronnie Kroell

Our dear friend Ronnie Kroell did an awesome post today that we wanted to share with you –  


Perception is always reality, but perceptions are not always truth.

In
other words, someone may perceive me and make a judgment based on how I
walk, talk, or an action that I have taken; while that may be their
truth, it may not be accurate.

For example: Many times people have made
snap judgments (positive and negative) about me based on my appearance
on Make Me a Supermodel, my Playgirl Magazine spread, or other projects.
While these perceptions and judgments are valid to them – it does not
make them truth. In fact, as a society we love to make snap judgments
about people, especially those we see on TV, but unless we actually meet
them to confirm our perceptions – with what evidence can we really
ground our findings?

The following videos were shared with me by my friends – and they
have truly changed my life. Thandie Newton & Brene Brown discuss the
topics of vulnerability, self, and oneness with such clarity and
soulfulness! In a world where we are born into “oneness” we quickly
learn how to create “self” in order to navigate the social world – but
that self is not necessarily who we are. Our “self” is shaped, for
better or worse, by the people in our lives and experiences that we
have. We develop a sense of “self” in order to survive/fit in, but more
than that to escape having to think about the inevitable – death.

In order to truly connect with others we must challenge our “selves”
to be vulnerable, to live authentically, and to find oneness again! It
is most important to realize that “we are enough” – just as we are. We
must give up on the idea of who we are “supposed to be” or what others
“want us to be” and acknowledge who we really are.


I was watching Oprah
one day and I remember Kenny Rogers shared this really cool idea: “We
are all three people – The person we think we are, the person others
think we are, and the person we really are.” I have thought about this
many times since watching the program and it makes such perfect sense
now!!”

Stop by his site for the rest of the posting and the inspiring videos.

(Spiritual
Angel Readings – If you are in the Los Angeles area, or catch Ronnie
traveling, he offers personal one-on-one spiritual angel readings which
are truly insightful and helpful.  Using Celestial Wisdom Cards (not
Tarot Cards)  they do not tell your future, but rather they offer
guidance and insight. It is a wonderful gift he has!  Find out more. )

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Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer



There are days when I think my life is falling apart. I got into a car accident; maybe I slipped in my driveway or my son got called into the Principal’s office. I even got fired.  But, compared to the millions who suffer from chronic illnesses like cancer, my life is nowhere near falling to pieces.

If you or someone you know has just gotten the news that your health conditions are changing your life, it may seem impossible to get everything back on track.  

Whatever the reason, you need an
action plan.

Here are a few tips.


1. Treatment
Exploring treatment options is a big deal, but doing it can help you to understand what’s going on with your body and in the world of medicine and technology.  Being more informed can lead to a better relaxation and uplifted spirits. For example,
mesothelioma treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and tumor removal surgery.

2. Alternative therapy
Searching for additional and alternative options may increase your sense of control over your situation. For example, some
mesothelioma alternative therapies include astragalus, used to alleviate chemotherapy side effects.  Some breast cancer patients find yoga to encourage remission and an awareness of the physical self.  Acupuncture and massage therapy may also relieve pain and stress.

3. Support
Emotional, financial, and, in some cases, legal support is always a plus for those struggling with chronic illnesses. Having people, or entire organizations, in your corner may mean stress-relief and transference of burdens.
 Support groups and family therapy may also help you to connect with yourself and others concerning the trials of your illness.

So, if your life is falling apart, there’s help and hope. You can still pick the pieces up and with these tips and an action plan, embrace a new day and a new life of strength and health.

 

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Living Oprah For A Year Is Not Such Good Advice

Chicago-based yoga teacher and performance artist Robyn Okrant had a crazy  idea!

What if she spent the entire year of 2008 doing everything Oprah Winfrey suggested? Live Your Best Life! Would she find happiness? Would she achieve Oprah’s female “ideal” without domestic help and on a yoga instructor’s budget?

It was something no one else had done before. She decided to go for it. – She started a blog, it cost her $5,000  in  out-of-pocket expenses, the process made her sad, put a strain on relationships – but she did get a book deal out of it!

This week, Okrant’s book about the experiment, Living Oprah: My One-Year Experiment to Walk the Walk of the Queen of Talk , is out. The tell-all follows her as she makes do without paper towels, gives herself a makeover, redefines her sex life and adopts a kitten. By the end of 2008, she’d spent almost $5,000 and had committed to 57 ongoing Oprah challenges, as well as countless one-time tasks.

On  FORBES.com this week, they ask her….


Following all of Oprah’s advice for a year took you a total of 1,202 focused hours–about 75 full days, excluding sleep. What was it like?


It was incredibly draining, and it made me really sad. It made me sad to think of how many hours I’ve lost–even when I wasn’t doing the project–to blindly following advice and listening to what other people tell me I should be doing to create my own happiness. I wondered how many hours other women have lost in the course of their lives to that.


Ultimately, what did you learn?


I had so many self-realizations about the fact that I am so susceptible to advice–from Oprah, from self-help books, from magazine stands and TV. I learned without a shadow of a doubt that I have to listen to my own voice. I have to create my own definitions for beauty, success and happiness if I am to feel fulfilled. That felt very empowering.



READ THE FULL INTERVIEW AT FORBES

READ ROBYNS BLOG – LIVING OPRAH




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Never Stop Dreaming – Never Stop Designing Your Life




The Rise of the Phoenix – Daniel Jenkins 

 When I shot this image on the edge of Lake Michigan in Chicago I felt like it was a turning point for me, my life and my career. I look back on the events that led up to this point and it was interesting how many things come to full circle. I was back in Chicago after being away for quite a while. Another project led me here and gave me the resources to replace all that was lost over a year ago when a car was broken into and left me with nothing but the clothes on my back. I learned a few valuable lessons. One, get insurance on your gear. It is imperative. I think the most important lesson that I learned was one that most people deep inside know already, but don’t always live… NEVER EVER GIVE UP on your dream.

Many people may have looked for the tallest bridge to jump from at that moment. I must just be too stubborn and really wanted to see what was next. I looked at my options, any option, even the remote possibility of an option. I think most would suggest “Get a job”. That sounded like the easiest thing to do. I was skilled in many areas, left the technology sector to pursue my passion in fashion photography. The income from a “job” could have me back on my feet within three months. Sounds simple enough… but it wasn’t having moved from NY to California, staying in Arizona… I didn’t have a car, let alone something to wear to an interview. I had a few clothes left here and there that were sent to me, still nothing interview appropriate. In addition it seems no one was really hiring.

I was in a position that whatever I was going to do, I had to do it other than the conventional way, I had to create it. Luckily I had friends and family that would put me up for a bit and in turn I’d help them out with whatever they needed. What did I do? I worked hard booking shoots as I would if I had gear. As long as the budgets were big enough, I’d rent whatever was necessary to get the job done. A friend lent me a 35mm camera for a few weeks and I went out and snapped some film that I had leftover somewhere. I spent more time working on images from my dvd archive that I had already shot.

I had a one way airline ticket leftover from a part of a flight. Great thing about “buddy passes”. I had many opportunities to go back to California but was waiting for the right one. We started planning a birthday party to be a kick off party to a series of fashion shows. Many promoters were involved and it seemed like the best time to take that flight. The party should have produced a small amount of cash to get me by for a bit. December 19th, it rained in Los Angeles. This, the fact the venue double booked, and the promoters over promised and under delivered made things harder. I was running out of time.

I spent a lot of time on the beach thinking and probably a lot of time hoping and praying. The sun and the sand felt so good. I would scoop up a pile of sand and let if fall as if it were a magic hour glass that would grant me my wishes. It wasn’t many days after, I got onto a bus and went back to Arizona. Some family needed some help moving.

Once back in Arizona when I wasn’t helping someone out, or trying to book shoots, I was polishing my image collection. I looked at the possibility of stock photo sites but I really didn’t see anything that had generic commercial value. I posted what I could with no luck. I was able to sell some of my live music photos to some fans here and there.

February brought a glorious gift. A close friend brought me a replacement Canon 20d and a Manfrotto tripod during Superbowl weekend. I felt like a photographer again. I was still a long way from my lens loss and light kit loss, but this forced me to learn more about natural light and other methods. I continued to book small shoots here and there and even went out into the desert to shoot these desert landscape

March and April brought some small gigs, May brought me back to California. I continued working hard at self promotion and picked up a light kit. August brought more travel opportunities and by October I was able to replace my laptop and some other gear as well as a really good lens. My hard work and perseverance was showing signs of payoff. With the launch of my new web site and a rising google ranking, I’m landing some larger projects again. Which brings me back to Chicago. There’s something that makes sense in this area. It takes me all day to fly to New York from L.A. So I find myself looking for studio space in Chicago to be more centrally located to work between both NY and L.A. more efficiently. I’m constantly seeking opportunity to work anywhere in the world therefore I’m careful to use my resources more wisely. My first investment in something that isn’t related to photography gear will be a custom Zaharoff suit. This will require monumental celebration.


I recently had a conversation with a friend whom I used to date. She said to me “I have to give you credit, you keep on keeping on”. That’s exactly it. I keep on keeping on. I am committed to succeeding. Even the smallest tasks, I move forward to ROCKIN my dreams.


Daniel Jenkins is an independent fashion photographer with an unique vision that grabs attention and intoxicates the viewer. You may view his work at  danieljenkinsphoto.com  you may also visit his blog.

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Happy Gay Pride! What is Gay Pride?




June is  GAY PRIDE month around the world!

It is traditionally celebrated the last Sunday of June, in most cities. Pride celebrations stemmed from the Stonewall Riots in New York City.

The Stonewall Riots were a series of violent conflicts between LGBT people and New York City police officers that began during a 28 June 1969 police raid, and lasted several days. They were centered at the
Stonewall Inn and are widely recognized as the catalyst for the modern-day movement towards LGBT rights.

Gay pride or LGBT pride refers to a world wide movement and philosophy asserting that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Heterosexual people have sometimes asked me, “Why do you have to have a  pride day? Why are you so proud? We don’t have  straight pride day?” – It’s about not feeling ashamed of who we are. It’s about showing people our numbers, that we are in fact EVERYWHERE. We come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
Gay pride is about appreciating yourself and other members of our community for being different. GAY PRIDE means accepting yourself and celebrating who you are.



       

Gay pride advocates work for equal “rights and benefits” for LGBT people.  The movement has three main premises:
 
 – that people should be proud of their sexual orientation and gender identity,
 
 – that sexual diversity is a gift,

 – and that sexual orientation and gender identity are inherent and cannot be intentionally altered.

Someone at Cedar Rapids Pride said, “Often the hardest person to come out to is yourself.  GAY PRIDE doesn’t just happen. It is hard work to overcome the profound effects of abusive religion and cultural abandonment that afflict all minorities. Self-esteem is the greatest achievement that you can reach in life. Your sense of self-worth is so valuable, that you work hard all of your life to find and express it. To reach your goal of self-esteem and happiness requires knowledge and positive experience.”

Jed Ryan from Lick The Web says, “
So, what is “Gay Pride?” It may not be so important that we find a universal definition. What’s more important is that all of us feel positively and lovingly about being who we are– in our case, definitely including but not limited to being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered– at least for one moment in our lives and hopefully more. And that can be in June or any other month, at the Parade or any other location, or whether you’re 17 or 70. Ultimately, the real and most important meaning of “pride” is in within each one of us.”

Marches celebrating Pride (pride parades) are celebrated worldwide, and every year, the number of gay people and their supporters grows bigger and bigger! We’re here, we’re queer, you’d better get used to it!


Michael  Snell
New Gay Travel Guide


Turbo Tagger

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Learning To Live Through Learning By Guest Author Tim Draayer




Live Your Best Life was born.


In the beginning I didn’t know what I was doing but as I began writing more and more I got a feel for the thoughts and ideas that I was passionate about. And because of the previous months, as well as the fact that I was going through some emotional growth spurts I began to write about my thoughts pertaining to personal growth.


I didn’t recognize it at the time but as a result of my writing and the passion it brought me I was beginning to view life differently. I felt much more postitive about myself and I began seeking the experiences that once caused me to pull back. Tom often described me as ‘Tim reborn’ and would tell me about how he used my story when he talked to new people about the business.


Many phenominal experiences have happened in the past 8 months and now I am eager for new experiences. Writing this article made me recall the early years when I was young and so full of life. I wanted to try everything because I wanted to experience it all. It made me feel so alive and those years are hard to beat. Now I am happy to say, I want to experience life again, achieve my goals and the feeling of being alive thrills me.


We learn by doing but I also want to include the wonderful words of Longfellow “With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait” and Campbell “Follow your bliss.”


As the days of our lives tick by we are conditioned to live a certain way and we tend to forget about discovering our passions. Following our bliss means persuing those experiences and lessons for which we are passionate and to do so with a heart that is glad for them. Prepared for the experiences that can also be harsh.


This is what I have learned–to once again live a passionate life and I thank God every day for that lesson. My bliss is in helping others to realize their own potential and so is my intent and dream.


Follow your bliss and do the things that bring you joy. Learn from them as you would from anything else becaue this is what joyful learning is all about.

You only have one life; live it.

Tim Draayer is author of Live Your Best Life.

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