My home.
Early afternoon.
My guests, husband and wife, are talking about the
new addition to their family.

They’re showing me pictures.
I look at the beautiful dog
These wonderful people saved the dog from being

They’ve been doing volunteer work for years.
And know a lot about the dire situation at the shelters.

Animal shelters are overcrowded.
More than a million dogs are killed every year.

Many people buy pets on a whim.
Especially around the holidays.

Few months later they don’t want them anymore.
And they drop them at the shelter.
Or just abandon them on the street corner.

/ / / / /

I’m looking at my guests.

The world needs more people like them.
Driving more than 1,300 miles to rescue a dog.
Because they believe all pets deserve a decent life.
Because they believe pets are family

I feel privileged to know them.
When I grow up I want to be just like them

Be kind
A kinder world starts with YOU

Pets are family

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Accomplished Fugitives

“We can keep ourselves so busy.

Fill our lives with so many diversions.

Stuff our heads with so much knowledge.

Involve ourselves with so many people

and cover so much ground

that we never have time to probe

the fearful and wonderful world within…


By middle life most of us are

accomplished fugitives from ourselves.”

~ John Gardner

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Going too fast from point A to point B?

Living life in the fast lane?
Or do you take your time?
Making frequent stops and sometime forgetting where you were heading to begin with?

We all know people from both camps.

Some are go-getters; hard workers. So much so that sometime their personal life suffers.
Others are the opposite.
Work? Yes, as soon as they are done playing one more computer game.
After all they are almost at level 30.

The first group — those who travel through life in the fast lane:

They do know the best is to be somewhere in the middle.
But when they hear about living a balanced life, they’ll counteract with,
“Is that even possible in today’s world?”
These are the same people who keep saying “yes” and add more commitments to their over-booked schedule.

Living a balanced life is not always possible, of course.

There will be times when you don’t have much of a choice. You have to work long hours.
And get that project finished.
But as soon as it’s done take time to recharge. IT’S IMPORTANT.

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air.
You name them — work, family, health, friends and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air.
You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball.
If you drop it, it will bounce back.
But the other four balls — family, health, friends, and spirit — are made of glass.
If you drop one of these,
they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered.
They will never be the same.
You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”
Brian Dyson, former vice chairman and COO of Coca-Cola

We’ll talk next week about the second group — those who travel life leisurely.
Is it because of hardly any planning and goal-setting?
Or is it because they like it that way?
Or another reason altogether?

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Memory File: Construction Sites

A few weeks ago, as part of a small group, I was touring the site of a multi-million dollar construction project.
The project manager was guiding us around; and answering questions about how the money was spent (our tax dollars at work).
When the questions started to slow down our guide started walking faster.

He thought he fulfilled his “duty” and now he wanted to go back to his regular work as soon as possible.
I caught up with him and started talking. He gave reluctant, monosyllabic answers; and increased his walking speed.
(Little did he know this was “home” to me. I easily kept-up the pace; and kept talking.)

By the time we were done, a now-much-friendlier project manager was telling me how he fell in love with construction at the young age of 14.
His first project was helping fix the family garage.

  *     *     *     *    *    *

That day, on the construction site, it felt like I’ve boarded a time-machine.
It took me back to Eastern Europe.
Back when my family would spend a few months out of the year in the country side while my father was away, working on different construction projects.

During the school year the whole family would move near the construction site so we can all be together.
(I learned then to make friends at whatever school I happen to be.)

When the school year was over we all, except my dad, would move back to our home in the country.
(The house I grew up in it’s still in the family).

Grandma lived only few blocks away and, in the summer, I would visit with her often.
She raised beautiful ducks and I liked playing with them; and chasing them.
(Actually we took turns – the ducks were chasing me when they had little ones.)

  *    *    *     *     *    *    *

Well, time to get back to work. That means time to get off the time-machine : )

Be well. Thanks for stopping by.


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Serious about making an impact? Power down your smartphone and get to work

“Most social media is best described as a collection of somewhat trivial entertainment services that are currently having a good run. These networks are fun, but you’re deluding yourself if you think that messages, posts and likes are a productive use of your time.”

This is an excerpt from an article written by Cal Newport.

A computer scientist, author and a blogger, Newport wrote an article in the NY Times. In it he talks about how addictive social media can be; and how it interferes with our civic life.

He concludes the article with,
“If you’re serious about making an impact in the world, power down your smartphone,
close your browser tabs, roll up your sleeves and get to work.“
(Forgot to mention: Newport is also a millennial. What is this world coming to : )

Another Times contributor, Andrew Sullivan, paints a much darker picture.
The title of his piece says it all,
“I used to be a human.”

The irony of it
What I find interesting is that Newport’s article was brought to my attention by one of my LinkedIn connections.
The irony doesn’t escape me: an article about the bad effects of social media is shared on the very medium it vilifies.

Is it really as bad as  Sullivan and Newport want us to believe?
No doubt. When done in excess, of course it’s bad.
(What isn’t?!)

It’s all about balance
When used moderately, far from being a villain, social media is great for networking.
It’s also good for keeping in touch with family and friends.
(Yes, Messieurs Sullivan and Newport, I have to concede: watching cute birds, puppies, and kittens it’s addictive : )
It’s all about balance.

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A day of forced reflection

I’m at loss of words.
Looking at my friend I’m trying to say something.
Something that will calm her. And infuse some optimism in both of us.

Earlier that morning
It’s almost 8AM. My friend and I discuss the day’s agenda.
We are at an out-of-town conference. And looking forward to the workshops planned for that day.
After planning to meet for lunch we each go to different parts of the building.

Words seem pointless
Several hours later, I’m in one of the conference rooms.
Unexpectedly, I see my friend standing in the doorway.
Surprised, I go to her.

In an almost inaudible voice she says,
“My husband just called. Our eight-year-old son had an accident.
Now he is in the emergency room. And can’t move his legs.”

I want to say something to comfort her.
But words seem pointless.
I just give her a hug and say, “We’ll leave immediately.”

As we are heading home we are trying our best to stay focused on the best possible outcome.
But bleak thoughts keep rushing in.

I thought of how this day started.
What seemed so important in the morning is now insignificant.

Good news
We are about an hour away from our home town when my friend’s phone rings.
It’s her husband giving her good news: their son is doing well.
And he CAN move his legs!
Doctors believe a pinched nerve caused the temporary paralysis.

Decide what’s really important
What a day!
It’s like a giant hand came out of the universe, grabbed us by the shoulders and forced us to stop.
Stop and reflect on our busy, always on the go, lifestyles.
Often losing sight of what’s really important.

Days like these serve as a wake-up call.
A call to simplify our lives.

Decide what really matters.
What’s really important.
And make time for it.

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How much you love your job depends on, “location, location, location”

If you work in the Eastern part of the U.S. chances are you don’t like your job much.
(According to the annual Monster and Brandwatch Job Report.)

Top five states where people are most likely to tweet about not feeling satisfied with their work:

  1. Michigan
  2. Virginia
  3. West Virginia
  4. New Jersey
  5. Ohio

After reading that I was curious to know where are the happy people (happy with their job, that is).

The top five states with higher job satisfaction:

  1. Idaho
  2. Montana
  3. North Dakota
  4. Vermont
  5. Utah

I’m not surprised Idaho is on the number one spot. There is a strong sense of community here. And that may be an important factor contributing to the increase in job satisfaction.

One summer years ago, I was traveling from Washington to California. Instead of the usual, shorter route, I wanted to “explore” the nearby states. That was my first encounter with Idaho and its people. I liked how friendly everyone was. So much so that I came back to Idaho that very summer. And bought a small house on a street lined with big, beautiful trees.

And it looks like Flipper and Sunny approve of Idaho too : )

june 2016 kids 072


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A smart way of spoiling a fifth-grader?

It’s a sunny day, great for taking my feathered-kids out for a walk.
(Actually I’m not sure who is taking who. Flipper, my strong-headed girl, lets me know in no uncertain terms she wants to go out; and I’m happy to comply — as often as I can : )

We go to the nearby park.  There we see few other neighbors. The fifth grader from across the street is there with her friends. We stop and talk with them for a while.

One of the girls proudly shows us the latest gift from her grandma: a smartphone. I look at her, then at her friends.  Judging by their interaction with one another, such a “cool” gift instantly elevated her status among her friends.

*  *  *  *  *  *

We seem to have mixed feelings when it comes to technology. We love all the benefits. But then we talk about the need to “unplug”. We need to remember that all our technological devices are “tools” — nothing more, nothing less.
When we want to spend quality time with family and friends, just turn them off. It’s that simple.
Winners are those who CAN strike a balance between being connected and enjoying the journey of life.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Back to my walk in the park, fifth-graders, and smart phones.

When it comes to children and mobile devices, many parents and educators are concerned.  Especially when new studies link the use of mobile devices to a decrease in attention span and a decline in critical thinking.
Parents do want the best for their children.
And grandparents do want to spoil their grand kids as much as they possibly can : )

Is the smartphone a smart way of spoiling a fifth-grader?

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What makes them the happiest people on earth?

According to United Nations’ poll, Denmark is the happiest nation on earth.

Some of our political candidates are already saying Denmark is the nation/model we need to look up to.
Is this another case of “the grass is always greener…”?

Denmark is a small Northern European country with a population of less than 6 million.

Few interesting statistics about Denmark:

  • Has one of the world’s highest personal income tax rates (60%).
  • Universal health care
  • Free education
  • Generous unemployment benefits

Are these the “keys” to happiness?

Or maybe the “secret” is how they govern themselves. The last time one single party had a Parliament majority was 1909.
Maybe their secret is in their consensus politics.

I don’t know.

What works for Danes, may not necessarily work that well for Americans.

That being said, people of Denmark, with their 35 hour work-week, seem to have a better work-life balance.
A shorter work-week means they have more time to be with their families.

That’s something we need to do better in this country — more balance between work and family.

That’s good for all of us. And a MUST for parents with young children.

You sharing this with friends — much appreciated!

/Comments/in Work Life Balance/by Mariana Fieraru

Armchair traveling to Zanzibar

It’s Friday.
Time for some armchair traveling : )
Let’s go to Africa; more specifically to Tanzania.
Because that’s where five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles can be found.

You probably know that sea turtles are on the critically endangered species list.
The pollution of our environment, plus their natural predators (birds, fish, and other animals) — are the main threats that greatly decrease their chance of survival.

sea turtleSince 2001 Tanzania has created a conservation program to protect and improve their chances to survive in the ocean.
The program is part of the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia.
The sea turtle sanctuary is at the northern part of Zanzibar.

The program aims to increase their chance of survival.
It protects the newly hatched turtles to reach adolescence before releasing them back in the wild.
The program also helps rescue injured turtles and nurses them back to health before releasing them back in the ocean.

Let’s hope this, and other initiatives, will ensure their survival.
And future generations will be able to enjoy their beauty as much as we do.
(Dorin, many thanks for the beautiful photo.)


/Comments/in Work Life Balance/by Mariana Fieraru