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Healthy Change Is a Family Affair

  • Family and Friend
  • Health and Fitness
  • Architects of Change

09/28/10 | Latisha Lawson | 0 Comments

Latisha Lawson
Latisha Lawson & Family





By Latisha Lawson, Champion Mom, Sacramento, CA

Today is Family Day in California, and First Lady Maria Shriver has asked families to celebrate by sitting down and sharing a meal together. She’s a mom, and she gets it. Moms know that many important life lessons are learned at the dinner table.

My family’s dinner table is the centerpiece of our home. Eating together is as much about connecting with my kids as it is about teaching them healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Meal time is my chance to learn about their day and share about mine – all over delicious, nutritious food.

Of course, it isn’t always easy. Sometimes things that are good for kids are things they don’t want to eat. But I’ve learned that when kids help choose and cook food, they are more likely to eat it. Younger ones can tear lettuce for salads or rinse fruits and vegetables, and my older kids help me chop and slice.

My kids are also more likely to eat healthy foods when they see my husband and I eat them. That’s why I make a point of eating all kinds of fruits and vegetables. In my house we’ve learned that what we eat affects our health, so every bite counts.

I know all too well what can happen if you don’t take care of yourself and your family – my father died from diabetes at the age of 33. While it’s hard to get loved ones to make healthy choices, it’s much harder to watch them deal with the consequences.

Nothing is more important than the health of my family, and I am doing everything I can to prevent this disease from impacting my children. Even small steps – like having a healthy family dinner at home – can lead to big health improvements. So I changed the way I prepare and serve my family’s food. I make it easy for my kids to snack on fruits and vegetables and to drink plenty of water.  In fact, sugary drinks aren’t allowed.  

Working multiple jobs in a tough economy, I know how hard it is to make ends meet, keep my kids active and put healthy food on the table. But I have the power to make healthy choices for my family.

With the rising prices on just about everything these days, I have learned that eating healthy doesn’t have to cost a lot. You just need to be resourceful. I make a shopping list whenever I go to the store so I don’t buy things we don’t need, and I visit my local farmer’s market to buy produce in season when it costs less.

Lots of families like mine are living on a tight budget and facing issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer that are linked to the growing obesity epidemic in California. I believe everyone deserves a healthier future, so I am speaking up for healthy changes in my community. I even helped bring a farmer’s market to a neighborhood where there were few places to buy produce, and too many places to buy unhealthy foods.  That success inspired me to think about the future.  My vision includes communities where sugary drinks aren’t allowed in schools, where schools provide kids with free drinking water and a place where kids have safe places to play.

I see a future filled with healthy communities where it’s easy for kids and moms to make healthy choices, and where eating more fruits and vegetables and being more physically active will help kids concentrate and do better in school, feel good about themselves, grow and develop strong bodies and live longer, healthier lives. I think that’s something every mom wants for her children. But moms need the support and encouragement of other moms who are overcoming challenges, especially when times are tough.

That’s why I’m thankful for the First Lady’s support of Family Day and this opportunity to share my story with you. If I can do it, you can do it.

Please join the First Lady Maria Shriver, me and millions of other moms to celebrate Family Day.  Healthy change is a family affair so gather your family together tonight. Sit down with your children and connect. Share a healthy meal. You’ll be glad you did.

Latisha Lawson lives in Sacramento with her husband and three children. As a Champion Mom with the Network for a Healthy California, she empowers other moms to be Champions for Change.

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Honoring Eunice Kennedy Shriver

  • Architects of Change

09/23/10 | The Women's Conference | 0 Comments

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver

In honor of Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day, September 25th, Maria Shriver is inviting members of The Women’s Conference to follow in the footsteps of her mother by finding small ways in their everyday lives to help others.

Two women – the owners of Cape Cod’s Centerville Pie Company, Oprah, Cape Abilities and Harry & David have teamed up to make honoring Eunice’s memory – and her mission to help people with disabilities – easier for all of us. Together they are helping bring employment, housing and other services to people with disabilities.

A year ago, when Oprah and Gayle King attended Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s funeral on Cape Cod, Laurie and Kristin, the founders of Centerville Pie Company, delivered a chicken pie to Oprah’s hotel room. Despite the heavy security, their pie got through (thanks to Gayle King), and the rest is history.

Oprah calls this pie, “The best I’ve ever tasted!” And even better is the fact that every pie purchased supports people with disabilities. The pie company employs 30 people with disabilities, and a percentage of every pie bought through Harry & David will go to Cape Abilities, a nonprofit that supports and helps employ people with disabilities.

This fall, we can honor Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s memory and help support the developmentally disabled. It’s as easy as pie.

To order a pie, visit Harry & David | Centerville Chicken Pie or order toll-free: 1-877-322-1200.

To learn more about the amazing life of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, visit the Special Olympics website.

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What I Wish I Would Have Known at 13!

  • Life Balance
  • Health and Fitness

09/15/10 | Jess Weiner | 1 Comments

Jess Weiner 200
Jess Weiner, Global Ambassador, Dove Self-Esteem Fund

I'm sure you've done it. Fantasized about going back in time and battling all those teenage woes with the wisdom you've garnered now as an adult.

Maybe you'd tell your thirteen year old self that she is beautiful. Just the way she is. Braces, freckles, acne, frizzy hair, stringy hair, over developed, under developed, lots of friends, no friends, band geek, drama geek, sports geek -- that it all doesn't matter in the end. That finding true self-acceptance is about loving who you are (even in the 'imperfect' moments) and that believing in yourself is one of the best choices she could make.

Maybe you'd tell your thirteen year old self that she really can reach her full potential in life if she follows her dreams, takes good care of herself, and gathers around her a group of people who support her, listen to her, and talk to her. Maybe you'd tell your thirteen year old self that the heartache she feels right now because she feels rejected, alone, ugly, stupid, or defective are really just passing moments of emotion. That they aren't the truth. And that she will get through her hard time. And go on to flourish! Maybe you'd tell her that she is loved. Just because. Just because she is worthy of being loved. Maybe you'd tell her that she should take a risk and try out for that school play or present her science project in front of the class because taking those risks will help her cultivate a sense of confidence that only comes from doing the things that really scare you (and living to tell about it!) Maybe you'd tell her that she isn't alone. That other girls (and adults) feel the same way she does. And that if she can just raise her hand, ask for help, or try to find the right words to express how she feels that there will be someone on the other end more than happy to lend an ear or a hug.

Or maybe your conversation might look a little like mine would - if I could go back in time.....

Jess Now: "13 year old Jess, I promise you -- your hair will grow back."

Jess 13: "Really? You promise? Because this is the worst hair cut ever!"

Jess Now: "Yes, I promise. And one day you'll make peace with your curly hair, too. Do you know people pay a lot of money to get perms?"

Jess 13: "You sound like our mother. She always tells me that."

Jess Now: "Well, don't tell our mom, but she was right. You'll come to love and appreciate all the things you think you hate about your appearance."

Jess 13: "Impossible"

Jess Now: "No, really. You'll soon discover that all the time you spend on hating those things can be spent on appreciating and accepting your own real beauty. You'll even make a career out of sharing this message with others."

Jess 13: "No way."

Jess Now: "Way"

Even if we all can't go back in time to re-do our teenage years, we can do simple small things now to help a girl in our life. Just by spending time having a conversation about self-esteem and confidence you can truly make a difference in the life of a girl. Those minutes you spend can help erase negative messages, confusing relationships, and age appropriate self-doubt by replacing it with a meaningful moment of connection. Don't ever underestimate the power of your words and your time. To you they may be just moments but to her they are the wisdom and moments that change her life. Join us in the vision of the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem where beauty is a source of confidence and not anxiety and tell us what you wish you would have known at thirteen here!

Considered this generation’s “Go to Girl” for self-esteem, Jess Weiner is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Talk to Jess, LLC and the Actionist® Network. She is also the author of two best-selling books, "A Very Hungry Girl" and "Life Doesn't Begin Five Pounds From Now". She currently serves as the Global Ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Fund and travels the world speaking and hosting workshops on self-confidence.

Jess Weiner will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2010.

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Join Us in Creating a World Where Beauty Is a Source of Confidence

  • Life Balance
  • Health and Fitness

09/15/10 | Jess Weiner | 0 Comments

Jess Weiner 2
Jess Weiner, Global Ambassador, Dove Self-Esteem Fund





As a kid, whenever I would struggle with tackling a new skill (like tying my shoelaces) or learning a new craft (like jazz dancing) my Grandma would always tell me "everything worth doing takes practice." Honestly, at 8 or 9, I had no idea what she really meant. All I knew was that she was my biggest champion, showing up for every school recital or home made art show I put on. But in thinking about that concept now "everything worth doing takes practice" -- I choose to apply it to my own development of self-esteem, self-worth and confidence.  

If you think about it - a musician must practice hours before improving their skill, same for a mathematician or a visual artist. So it would also make sense that if we want to change the level of confidence and esteem that our loved ones (and ourselves) have - we have to practice.

Every moment we spend with our family is a chance to send a positive message of love and esteem. Every word we speak is an opportunity to practice more kindness and less negativity. Every thought we think allows us a chance to practice compassion and forgiveness. When you turn your life into a practice ground for encouraging word, thought, and deed - you are more than likely practicing your way to higher self-confidence.  

The more we practice at developing a positive relationship with our own beauty the more we have to offer the girls in our lives who look to us to help them nurture and reach their full potential. Part of this mentorship is establishing with the next generation that beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. We want the next generation to learn from our own struggles with beauty and self-esteem. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been prompted by Dove to answer, “what do you wish you’d known at 13?” [link to tab] How can we help loved ones navigate the same confidence waters that we did? It’s time to have these conversations with the ones we love.

The more we can all collectively participate in the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem's vision, the more vibrant our community of confidence grows. Now here's what you can do to further practice your commitment to this vision: Join us for the Dove Self-Esteem Weekend October 22nd - 24th. Nationwide, people are committing to spend one hour of time that weekend with a girl (or girls) in their lives. Mark your calendar!

There are a variety of ways you can get involved and get the conversation started:

Remember, one hour with a girl in your life during the Dove Self-Esteem weekend makes a world of difference. It’s time to practice with loved ones on how to reach a positive relationship with beauty this October.

I look forward to seeing our event map grow with registered ideas and inspirations on how you are going to spend time during this important weekend.


Considered this generation’s “Go to Girl” for self-esteem, Jess Weiner is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Talk to Jess, LLC and the Actionist® Network. She is also the author of two best-selling books, "A Very Hungry Girl" and "Life Doesn't Begin Five Pounds From Now". She currently serves as the Global Ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Fund and travels the world speaking and hosting workshops on self-confidence.

Jess Weiner will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2010.

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Announcing The Great August Giveaway Winner

  • Family and Friend
  • Health and Fitness

09/15/10 | The Women's Conference | 2 Comments

minerva head246x8




Food can be a symbol of love. It can create togetherness and warmth. In our Great August Giveaway, we asked you to tell us,

What’s your favorite memory of a meal with friends or family?

Your responses shed light on the power of food – as well as on the power we have to make simple things – like ramen or freezer-burned ice cream sandwiches -- seem like delicious meals.

Below is our winning response, as well as our three honorable mentions. The range in responses reflects the range in how we can approach food, and what food means to us.


Queen Esther

It was just another meal; actually it was the best meal of my life. Ironically, I’m not even sure I remember what I ate. Truth is this meal was what I feasted on the day I said, “No More!” No more starving myself to be thin. No more missing a meal just to fit in. No more hating the image in the mirror. No more!

Soup’n’salad, a hamburger, or spaghetti – it really doesn’t matter what I ate that day. What does matter is that I ate.

Little did I know the meal would represent my launch into years of healing and looking in the mirror and finally loving the woman looking back at me. Little did I know my experiences would be shared with thousands of little girls, teens and young adults as I conduct workshops across the nation about high self-esteem and healthy lifestyle choices. Little did I know that I would break bread with many workshop attendees while sharing both my test of once having low self-esteem and an eating disorder as well as my testimony and platform as a Quintessential Faith-Filled Fabulously-Fierce Full -Figured Female and the reigning Ms. Plus America 2010.

Honorable Mentions

Marissa, 33

Freezer-burned ice cream sandwiches.

Perhaps it’s an unusual choice, but my grandmother’s stash of these chilly treats is a childhood memory so vivid I can almost taste it. On a hot summer day in L.A. (which, in our neck of the woods, stands for “Lower Alabama”), my siblings and cousins and I would run inside, throw open the freezer, and work diligently on peeling the wrappers from the warped bars.

Unlike the stereotypical Southern grandmother, Edwina Morgan Murphy couldn’t cook. At all. She burned rice. “Orange juice” at Grandmama’s house was a glass of water mixed with a spoonful of frozen orange concentrate. She once served my sister cold pizza she’d ordered the night before because Grandmama had heard that’s what college kids eat for breakfast.

Some grandmothers teach how to cook, bake and sew. Grandmama Edwina, on the other hand, taught me to overcome weakness, laugh off mistakes, and make a meal less about the food and more about the company.

Grandmama lost her battle with Alzheimer’s last night. Today, her legacy lives on through those of us whom she publicly and proudly proclaimed as the “best family in the world.”

We miss you, Grandmama.
folsom10, 30s

My favorite memory of a family meal happened over 15 years ago when we celebrated my mother's graduation from nursing school. I do not remember what we ate, or even who helped prepare it. What I do remember was the sense of pride and admiration I had for the woman who not only survived, but who flourished against all odds. I watched after 18 years of marriage, 4 children, zero job skills, my mother pack up her children and leave her abusive husband. We had come full circle from a shelter for abused women and children, to night school, and finally graduation. I am not sure if she knows how her strength and choices have fueled many of my steps into adulthood and a family of my own. She could have done nothing, but she chose to fight. By doing so she set an example that will endure generations. At that very "celebration" dinner I saw not only victory in my mother's eyes...I saw peace. Thanks mom, for all you have done and continue to do. Your actions nourish my soul in so many ways. Oh and your pot roast ROCKS!

On we go     

One of my weekly chores as a little girl was to set the dinner table for my family. There was six of us. My mother every night would make me set an extra place setting. Being only seven I never questioned or understood why. One day a girl from our neighborhood needed some help with math. She was in one of my older sister's classes. She had stopped by for help just minutes before our family was about to sit down for dinner. Without any hesitation my mother said to this little girl "We have been waiting for you, go wash your hands and come sit down for dinner with us". The neighbor girl hurried off and then returned with the biggest smile. We had our dinner that night with even more chatter and laughter. Five little girls all under the age of 12.

When I was helping clear the dinner table, I said to my mom "Were we really waiting for her so we could start dinner?". "Yes" she replied. She then whispered to me, "God knew too. That is why we always set an extra plate at our table. We must always be ready for someone that may need to share a meal and some company. We must not let our guest know that we really had no idea that they were coming. We always want that person to feel welcomed and wanted in our home". I really didn't fully understand until years later. When my father passed in 2005 I heard from the neighbor girl. She told me how grateful she was that my family always invited her to have dinner. She was more amazed that the seventh place setting was always set before she ever showed up. She shared with me that her parents were hardly ever home and she was on her own for dinner most nights. She wanted me to know that she would never forget the kindness my family showed her. My mother taught fourth grade until she was 72. She is now 81. She always knew when a child needed just a little more. Whether it was a meal, a hug, or just a ear to listen. She knew. In my mind, my mother has demonstrated Minerva qualities my entire life. Thanks Mom!

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EmpowHER’s 1000Women Campaign

  • Health and Fitness

09/10/10 | Michelle King Robson | 1 Comments

1000Women logo cut






People, especially women, always ask me how they can make a difference. How can one person make a difference in the lives of many? How can we advocate for the health and wellness of all women?

When I started EmpowHER, I had a mission – to improve women’s health and change their lives…one woman at a time.  Now, I am asking you to do the same. You alone can help thousands even hundreds of thousands of women just by telling your story, sharing the stories of others, and telling other women.

I want to tell all of you about EmpowHER’s 1000Women campaign www.1000women.com:

Through our 1000Women campaign, EmpowHER is recruiting 1,000 women who will then each tell 1,000 women about this campaign. Our goal is to create the biggest movement for women’s health and wellness in recent history!

Here are three easy ways to get involved:

Tell A Friend -- For every woman that participates in 1000Women, 5¢ will go to women's health research.

Vote for A Story -- Stories with the most votes will be featured in major, national promotional efforts. Stories that reach 1,000 votes receive special promotional opportunities.

Inspire Others -- Help other women by sharing your story.

When we have reached our goal of reaching 1,000,000 women, EmpowHER will donate $50,000 towards women’s health research, and YOU will have had everything to do with that! See, just a few seconds of your time and your email address, and 1,000,000 women’s health can be improved and lives changed – just like that.

This is your chance to share your story with the world. This is your chance to change the lives of the women you love. This is your chance to enable friends, family and strangers to advocate for their health and wellbeing. I am calling on you to get involved. We NEED your help! Your involvement may save a life one day.

Michelle King Robson is the founder, chairperson and CEO of EmpowHER.

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Congratulations to Margaret Dano, the Top March on Alzheimer's Fundraiser for August!

09/7/10 | The Women's Conference | 1 Comments

Trish Eileen Marg and Jackie Dano
Trish, Eileen, Margaret and Jackie Dano





Margaret is marching in honor of her father, Thomas Dano. Her three sisters will be flying in from all over the U.S. to march with her: Patricia Dano from Maine, Eileen Dano-Tkacik from Pennsylvania and Dr. Jaculeen Dano from Texas.

When Margaret and her sisters were young, their father encouraged them to believe in themselves and to dream big.  He was always there to coach, inspire, teach and nurture them to fulfill their potential.

When Margaret’s successful and otherwise healthy father turned 50, he started showing signs of Alzheimer’s: forgetting where he was, forgetting where things were, forgetting who people were. 

By 55, he didn’t recognize anyone, and her mother became his full-time caregiver.

Because her father was in his 50s, he was not eligible to receive State or Federal Aid. He passed away at 63, prior to being eligible for Medicare.  The financial cost was devastating to the family. 

Margaret became a strong supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association after the death of her father.  She served on the organization’s Los Angeles chapter Board of Directors and as a member of its Audit Committee.

Her goal is to encourage families to reach out to the Alzheimer’s Association and to get the help and information they need to survive this, as Maria Shriver puts it, "mind-blowing disease."  The Alzheimer’s Association provides resources for both the patient and caregiver, support groups, certified daycare facilities, Geriatric specialists, and more. 

Margaret often thinks about her father’s lifelong dream of packing up the RV and, together with their mother, driving across the country and visiting the grandchildren. 

Now his dream drives her to be the highest fundraiser for Maria Shriver’s March on Alzheimer’s on October 24, 2010, and she is certainly on her way.

We encourage you to join her team or contribute to her personal page.  Let’s support the Alzheimer’s Association, which serves these families during their time of need.

Margaret Dano is a senior executive with over 30 years of operating experience in Best Practice Companies.  Ms. Dano retired as Vice President of Worldwide Operations for Honeywell’s Turbo Technology business. Prior to Honeywell, Ms. Dano served as Vice President of Worldwide Operations for the Office Products Division of Avery Dennison Corporation. She has served on the Board and Audit Committee of the Los Angeles Alzheimer’s Association.

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