Category Archives: N – Never Stop Designing Life

Make a Difference

After watching   movies like Seven Pounds and  Pay It Forward,  I  ask  myself, gosh, what I can I do to make a difference?!

So I GOOGLED   “make a difference”.

And I found a day called  just that!  The national MAKE A DIFFERENCE day  to help others and make a difference
will be  October  24th, 2009.

But in the meantime, if you want to do something right now, you can search by keyword, or city, or zip code! And find a project that is happening or upcoming!


Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of helping others, is sponsored by USA WEEKEND Magazine and its more than 600 carrier newspapers. Make A Difference Day is held in partnership with the Points of Light Foundation. The 18 th Make A Difference Day was Saturday, Oct. 25, 2007. Make A Difference Day supporter Paul Newman donates 100 percent of after-tax income from Newman’s Own to educational and charitable causes. 

Make A Difference Day Hot Line: 1-800-416-3824


What is the Meaning of Your Life? Seven Pounds….


Last night we watched  Seven Pounds.

I thought it was a great story, but could have been told better, but still,  gave it a  4 out of 5!

If you HAVE NOT seen it, it helps to know the story. In a nutshell….

Tim Thomas (Will Smith) caused a car crash; seven people died: six strangers and his fiancée, Sarah Jenson (Robinne Lee).

Tim decides on redemption. He sets out to save the lives of seven good people. A year after the crash, and having quit his job as an aeronautical engineer, Tim donates a lung lobe to his brother, Ben (Michael Ealy), an IRS employee.

Six months later he donates part of his liver to a child services worker named Holly (Judyann Elder). After that, he begins searching for more candidates to receive donations. He finds George (Bill Smitrovich), a junior hockey coach, and donates a kidney to him, and then donates bone marrow to a young boy named Nicholas (Quintin Kelley).

Two weeks before he dies, he contacts Holly and asks if she knows anyone who deserves help. She suggests Connie Tepos (Elpidia Carrillo), who lives with an abusive boyfriend.

Tim moves out of his millionaire dollar ocean front house and into a local motel, taking with him his pet box jellyfish. One night, after being beaten, Connie contacts Tim and he gives her the keys and deed to his beach house. She takes her two children and moves in to their new home.

Having stolen his brother’s IRS credentials, he checks out candidates for his two final donations. The first is Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), a blind meat salesman who plays the piano. Tim calls Ezra Turner and harasses him at work to check if he is quick to anger. Ezra remains calm and Tim decides he is worthy.

He then contacts Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), a self-employed greeting card printer who has a heart condition and a rare blood type. He spends time with her and  he begins to fall in love with her and decides that as her condition has worsened he needs to make his donation.

His brother tracks him down to Emily’s house. Ben then demands that Tim return his IRS ID to him. Tim leaves and returns to the motel. He fills the bathtub with ice water to preserve his vital organs, climbs in, and then commits suicide by pulling his box jellyfish into the water with him. His friend Dan (Barry Pepper) acts as executor to ensure that his organs are donated to Emily and Ezra. Ezra Turner receives his corneas and Emily receives his heart. 

WOW!  That’s  GIVING!

Seven Pounds YouTube Movie Trailer

So what can we do to make a difference???


Life By Design – Let’s Keep Designing!



We started this site nearly 3 years ago.  With the hopes we would share personal insight and ways for people to really make a difference in their lives. Live  a life  WORTH  MEANING! School does NOT teach us what we really need to know in life!

After I turned 30, I asked myself, “Is my life headed in the right direction? How do you change it if you are not? Why would you want a life by design? What if you thought you were, but are not happy with where your life has taken you? Do you go through the motions of life? With no meaning? or experience?”

SO I SAID! “Join me on a journey! A journey of discovering the secret to living a Life By Design! Inspirational and motivational. Let’s create change. Change in ourselves – change in others!”

WE  now  try to do our best  to juggle  15 sites!  And there is just no way to give each site the time and dedication that is needed.  But we try! So bear with us! Because this site,  LIFE  BY DESIGN  really  started it all. And it is something we are very passionate about.  And  I am not sure why….or  how….or  when….but we know this site will  EXPLODE one day! We enjoy a few thousand readers each month, there is just not enough time in the day to post to it frequently.

That said,  we are accepting posts from freelance writers. If you have a blog that is similar in  mission – send us a post, and we’ll make you a guest author!  E-Mail me!

This site is too important to us and I think as a collaborative effort – WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Let me know if you would like to contribute!

Derrick   Sorles
Michael  Snell

Life  By   Design


On A Sad Note…Suicide IS NEVER the Answer

A dear friend me called today. He knew a couple very well. (We did not know them very well, just by name and sight, just casually…) They were having problems, most of them financial for about 3 years now. The younger guy had mood swings and depression issues. So his doctor prescribed anti-depressents. Which, after a while, he quit taking them. They made him feel  drunk and hazy and were making him gain weight – so he just quit.

And this past weekend, while at his mothers house, he went into the garage and grabbed a container of anti-freeze. No one know’s exactly when he drank the liquid, but several hours later it had ravished his body and  while in the hospital, he had to be taken off life support. And was pronounced dead.

Why did this happen? Was there no one he could talk to? I read a great article about PAIN and COPING RESOURCES…


“Suicide is not chosen…
it happens when pain exceeds
                                   resources for coping with pain.”

That’s all it’s about. You are not a bad person, or crazy, or weak, or flawed, because you feel suicidal. It doesn’t even mean that you really want to die – it only means that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. If I start piling weights on your shoulders, you will eventually collapse if I add enough weights… no matter how much you want to remain standing. Willpower has nothing to do with it. Of course you would cheer yourself up, if you could.

Don’t accept it if someone tells you, “that’s not enough to be suicidal about.” There are many kinds of pain that may lead to suicide. Whether or not the pain is bearable may differ from person to person. What might be bearable to someone else, may not be bearable to you. The point at which the pain becomes unbearable depends on what kinds of coping resources you have. Individuals vary greatly in their capacity to withstand pain.

When pain exceeds pain-coping resources, suicidal feelings are the result. Suicide is neither wrong nor right; it is not a defect of character; it is morally neutral. It is simply an imbalance of pain versus coping resources.

You can survive suicidal feelings if you do either of two things: (1) find a way to reduce your pain, or (2) find a way to increase your coping resources. Both are possible.

Now I want to tell you five things to think about. Find these out, on their site!

Since you have made it this far, you deserve a reward. I think you should reward yourself by giving yourself a gift. The gift you will give yourself is a coping resource. Remember, back up near the top of the page, I said that the idea is to make sure you have more coping resources than you have pain. So let’s give you another coping resource, or two, or ten…! until they outnumber your sources of pain.

Now, while this page may have given you some small relief, the best coping resource we can give you is another human being to talk with. If you find someone who wants to listen, and tell them how you are feeling and how you got to this point, you will have increased your coping resources by one. Hopefully the first person you choose won’t be the last. There are a lot of people out there who really want to hear from you. It’s time to start looking around for one of them.

Now: I’d like you to call someone.

And while you’re at it, you can still stay with me for a bit. Check out these sources of online help.

Additional things to read at this site:

  • How serious is our condition? ...“he only took 15 pills, he wasn’t really serious…” if others are making you feel like you’re just trying to get attention… read this.

  • Why is it so hard for us to recover from being suicidal? …while most suicidal people recover and go on, others struggle with suicidal thoughts and feelings for months or even years. Suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  • Other online sources of help:

  • The Samaritans – trained volunteers are available 24 hours a day to listen and provide emotional support. You can call a volunteer on the phone, or e-mail them. Confidential and non-judgmental. Short of writing to a psychotherapist, the best source of online help.

  • Talk to a therapist online – Read this page to find out how.

  • Depression support group online: Walkers in Darkness – Please note: this is a very big group, but amidst all the chatter (and occasional bickering), it is possible to find someone who will hear you and offer support.

  • Psych Central has a good listing of online resources for suicide and other mental health needs.

  • Still feel bad? These jokes might relieve the pressure for a minute or two.

  • If you want help finding a human being to talk with in person, who can help you live through this, try reading this article about how to Choose a Competent Counselor.

Suicide and attempted suicide are often linked to a build up, or combination of difficult events. There might also be a ‘last straw’ event that encourages someone to attempt suicide. Not everyone who feels suicidal actually attempts to kill himself or herself. But if they do it can be a desperate call for help.

It is so awful to take one’s life. It’s a selfish act that hurts everyone around you – when there were surley options. Talk to someone. You can almost always get help, in any town, anywhere.

I heard a line in a movie tonight….when you are with someone, really, BE WITH THEM. Treat your time with them, like this could be the last time you ever see them again. Make sure they know they are loved by you.

Some things to think about…before it’s too late.

Please.  Listen. and Love.  It may just save someone’s life.


Susan Boyle – Britains Got Talent! Woman WOW’s THE WORLD! Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover!


       BY IT’S COVER!

She’s a frumpy 48 year old lady, who has never been kissed, never had a date, was bullied in school for a disability, her Mom just died, she is unemployed, lives alone with her cat, Pebbles and donates her time volunteering for her church. But can she sing?

The unlikely Britain’s Got Talent sensation Susan Boyle has become such an internet hit that Hollywood star Demi Moore has been Twittering about her.


The actress’s husband Ashton Kutcher spotted the talented unemployed Boyle, posting a link to a video of her much-discussed Saturday night singing performance on his Twitter page.

Boyle won over a cynical audience in the first episode of the new Britain’s Got Talent series on the weekend and her performance quickly became a YouTube hit.

The 48-year-old was initially greeted with scornful looks after confessing she had never been kissed and struggling for words when she appeared on stage. But her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream from the musical Les Miserables, brought the crowd to their feet.

Unless someone had an early clue and this was all a setup, what the viewers, audience and judges all got was that genuinely electrifying moment: something no one expected that was better than anyone could have dreamed. It was a “Rocky” moment!

Show judge and music mogul Simon Cowell is now reportedly organising a record deal for her, while bookmakers say she is the favourite to win the BBC talent show.

Boyle’s sudden trajectory mirrors that of previous Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts. The plain Welsh mobile phone salesman wowed audiences with his classical singing and is due to release his second album this year.


How fabulous is that?  Never stop designing your life! And don’t judge!

And by the way, she’ll be on CNN “American Morning” Friday (17th) to chat about it. In the celebrity biz, she’s a curve ball and a welcome one — even if she disappears as quickly as she arrived.


Jason and deMarco – We’re All Angels now on DVD



Literally. In the seventies, “gay” had a “look”. Over the last 35 years, with more youths coming out early in life, and with “gay” becoming the new “black”, the LGBT community has become  much more diverse, showing up everywhere and in places you would least expect.

But one area you don’t hear much  about – gay christian singers! Until now. Jason Warner and deMarco DeCiccio, known as Jason and Demarco,  met about 8 years ago, fell in love  and started performing the christian music circuit!

Two years ago they began their crossover into pop music and had two singles on the Billboard charts and LOGO tv.

A remix of “This is Love” along with their newest dance release, “It’s Okay”, both produced by DJ Scotty K, were both added to Abercrombie & Fitch’s playlist and have been heard in stores worldwide.
Last summer brought them more widespread exposure with an article in PEOPLE magazine and the release of their award-winning
documentary “We’re All Angels“, which has just been released on DVD. (directed by Robert Nunez).

At once a love story, a tale of religious struggle and a musical journey, WEʼRE ALL ANGELS takes an in-depth look at the lives of Jason & deMarco over eighteen months — at their music and their lives at home, in the studio, on stage and on the road.

Cameras follow the guys to rehearsals, recording sessions, label meetings, sound-checks, and concerts – giving us an inside look at the making of a pop album.

We also witness the joys and struggles of growing up, coming out, falling in love and living and working together. Through their story, we are confronted with the contradiction of spirituality and its relationship to sexuality, the power of music, self-acceptance, and the sometimes passionate resistance of many evangelical Christians to the expression of homosexual love.

By rights, Jason & deMarco should not exist. The “rules” say that Christianity and homosexuality are incompatible. Gay relationships donʼt work, especially when lovers work together. Young attractive gay men are said to be shallow and self-centered. But Jason & deMarco break all of these stereotypes, proving to all of us that life can be lived beyond conventional rules and without boundaries.

Following their appearance on the cover of The Advocate they struggled against the typecasting of being defined as “gay Christian singers.”

“We’re All Angels” reveals the duo’s efforts to achieve a wider message with
their music.  “We want our songs to be uplifting without being preachy,” says
Jason.  “It’s Okay” is a perfect example of their musical evolution.  “This is a
song that is bigger than our personal relationship,” says deMarco.  “It is about
the need for our world to come together, make a choice and take a stand for
what is really important — peace, freedom, liberty and justice for all.”

“We’ve had to work at clarifying that although we are both gay and men of faith, our music is not religious, nor is it gay,” continues Jason. “Our music has a message, and if I had to call it anything, it would be “uplifting.” We want it to speak to everyone, not only people of one particular faith.” 

Their music is really about love. And these two ARE SO IN LOVE!  To work together, live together and travel together, takes a strong relationship. And the documentary does an awesome job capturing that.

While they strive to achieve a successful musical career, their message of hope and acceptance to young gay Christian teenagers is nothing less than life-saving. The teenage suicide rate among this demographic is horribly high, and Jason and deMarco are positive role models for kids struggling with their conflicting sexuality/spirituality.

You have to hand it to them — or pray for them, if you like. If the usual trappings of rock music — tattoos, drinking, loud guitar, apathy and angry lyrics — are still rebellious to some, then a gay couple taking a message of love into one of the most unwelcoming, homophobic institutions in modern America — the traditionalist church — is downright revolutionary.

Catch them performing around Texas and Hawaii in the coming months!

Jason and deMarco website       Jason and deMarco on MySpace



From Poverty to Living Legend….A Star Dies… Remembering Eartha Kitt


What an example of someone born with nothing and having the strength to pull herself up by her bootstraps, and move forward.

Considering that she was abandoned by her mother at age 3, forced to pick cotton by age 6 and kicked out of the house at 16, Eartha Mae Kitt did not appear destined for global stardom.

She born in extreme proverty in the South. And because of her light skin color, had a hard time being accepted by both the blacks and the whites.  
(remember Imitation of Life?)

Yet by her 20s she had willed herself into becoming a singing sensation in Europe — the next Josephine Baker, proclaimed critics in the late 1940s and early ’50s. In quick succession thereafter, Ms. Kitt seduced American audiences singing in Broadway and Hollywood musicals in the mid-’50s and purring as Catwoman on TV’s ” Batman” in the ’60s.

Triply blessed with a pliant voice, a palpable charisma and a voracious appetite to succeed, Ms. Kitt conquered virtually every medium she took on, earning multiple Tony and Grammy Award nominations. Yet if she made her triumphs look easy, her journey was tumultuous from start and practically to finish.


In 1968 she made scandalous headlines by speaking her mind at the White House,  and her career came to a screaching halt. It took nearly a decade to start up her career and wasn’t really until  1995 when she won her rave reviews for shows at the Cafe Carlyle in New York and at Navy Pier in Chicago, where she clenched her fists and bared her teeth in a roaring medley of “I’m Still Here” and “I Will Survive.”


Since then, she played frequently in the Chicago area, performing cabaret at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, and bringing a shot of energy to Lanie Robertson’s “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” at the New Athenaeum Theatre.

She earned a Grammy nomination for her aptly named 1995 CD “Back in Business”; performed the voice of Yzma in the 2000 Disney animated feature “The Emperor’s New Groove”; and replaced Chita Rivera on Broadway in 2003 in a revival of “Nine.”

“When I look at my Eartha Kitt scrapbooks today, I think, ‘You know, she did a pretty good job of herself,’ ” said Ms. Kitt — who was married in 1960 and had one daughter before divorce — in the Tribune interview.

“She didn’t do too badly — for an ugly duckling.”

Perseverance pays off!

What a wonderful lady and wonderful talent.

Sadly, the singer-actor-dancer-raconteur died December 25th,  at age 81 in Connecticut of colon cancer. She will be greatly missed.

BWW TV – Broadway Beat did a great Tribute with Eartha Kitt, full  of  wonderful footage! Watch it online!

The Best of Gay New York   and  The Best of Gay Chicago

Turbo Tagger


What is Your REAL AGE? Measure How Fast You Are Aging


RealAge, Inc. is a consumer-health media company and provider of personalized health information and management tools.
These tools motivate health-conscious people like you to look, feel, and actually be many years younger—to Live Life to the Youngest®. RealAge has been featured on national radio and television programs including 20/20, Good Morning America, the Today show, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

The RealAge Test, our patented, flagship product, is the first measurement standard for healthcare. The test provides medically valid metrics that compare biological versus calendar age, based upon your answers to the test.

This health metric has received widespread consumer, medical, and scientific acceptance. RealAge experts developed the unique metric by reviewing 25,000 medical studies, which revealed 125 different factors that can influence rate of aging.

The new year is a great time to take a look at your life and evaluate how you are doing and what are some changes you might want to look at for the coming year.

Check it out and take the test!

Turbo Tagger


WAITER RANT – Confessions of a Cynical Waiter

This is such a great story – and it goes to show, do something you enjoy and are passionate about, and you will succeed!

I first discovered WAITER RANT blog about 3 years ago.  Waiter Rant chronicled the frustrations of an anonymous waiter working in an upscale restaurant somewhere near New York. It became HUGELY popular and generated tons of comments from readers, I knew he was on to something! He struck a chord in the service industry.

Now comes the book!  Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip–Confessions of a Cynical Waiter

“The waiter” – who was anonymous over the years – is out now, so to speak. Steve Dublanica is the writer behind the stories.I  never expected anything to come of the blog. I thought I’d get a few things off my chest, make people laugh and perhaps get some oblivious customers to sympathize with the waiter’s lot in life.”  – A book on the bestseller list, a second book deal in the works, and I heard even a TV reality show in the works! WOW!

 According to “The Waiter”, eighty percent of customers are nice people just looking for something to eat. The remaining twenty percent, however, are socially maladjusted psychopaths. Waiter Rant offers the server’s unique point of view, replete with tales of customer stupidity, arrogant misbehavior, and unseen bits of human grace transpiring in the most unlikely places. Through outrageous stories, The Waiter reveals the secrets to getting good service, proper tipping etiquette, and how to keep him from spitting in your food. The Waiter also shares his ongoing struggle, at age thirty-eight, to figure out if he can finally leave the first job at which he’s truly thrived.

It’s a very entertaining blog and book! Great reading for people in hospitality!

The front-of-the-house version of Kitchen Confidential; a painfully funny, excruciatingly true-life account of the waiter’s life. As useful as it is entertaining.

— Anthony Bourdain

Turbo Tagger


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  you may also visit his blog.