John Duffy – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – John Duffy

I believe the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned in my life is to follow my heart, my soul, and my passion. I work with children every day in my practice, and I encourage them to do just that. Discovering and following my own passion has been in fact a long and arduous journey for me.

I began my career as an accountant, Making that choice solely out of fear of my parents reproach. Over time, I began to experience acute anxiety during the course of my accounting career, seven years in total. My body was offering me a very clear signal that something was wrong.

After a time, I chose to heed that signal. I quit my very secure job in the accounting world, and headed into the great unknown of graduate school in clinical psychology. Many people suggested this was a very bad idea, destined to fail. Why would someone give up such safety, to follow a dream?

Eventually I received my doctorate, and opened my practice. That was 15 years ago, and I have served and helped more than 300 families in that time. I love my work, and hold it more precious and dear than almost anything. I am so grateful that I took the leap of faith and followed what mattered most to me. I tell this story to my young clients frequently, and hope that they too will follow their passions.

John Duffy, Psychologist, Author

Barbara Techel – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Barbara Techel

What a wonderful subject! My message to kids would be that our thoughts are so powerful. I want them to know that even though we are always going to have challenges in our lives; the way we choose to deal with them will have a powerful impact on our lives. If we choose positive thoughts it truly can help us get through a situation with a bit more ease. It won’t make the problem go away, but we can move through it easier when we choose positive thoughts.

Another thing I want kids to know that vulnerability and empathy are gifts, not weaknesses. I wish I would have understood this years and years ago as I know it would have saved me much heartache, from feeling “different.” I really started to understand these lessons about seven years ago after my dachshund; Frankie became paralyzed due to diagnoses of Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). I spent most of my life worrying what others thought of me and my choices, as well as lack of self-confidence, and being a very sensitive individual. I always thought that being vulnerable and sensitive were “bad “things. Frankie taught me that we all have challenges, whether others can physically see them or not.

But we can all work through these challenges by being positive– and we can each stand tall in who we are. I’m not sure what I could have done differently to change this. But I have worked hard the last six years instilling in kids that being positive will help them live better lives– Frankie helped me do this and she was such a perfect example for the kids to learn from– we were a great team sharing this message to instill in kids they always have a choice about their attitude. We also helped them understand empathy and being compassionate to all living beings. One of my favorite things to teach kids is that though Frankie was in a wheelchair she was still Frankie– she did not change. Her wheelchair was her tool to help her live the best life she could.

– Barbara Techel, Joyful Paws, Author

Jacqueline Marcell – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Jacqueline Marcell

I Wish I Knew What Sugar Addiction Was When Young

After a lifetime of misery battling my weight (same 30-40#’s again and again), compulsive eating and through every imaginable diet and psychological program known, I have finally solved this issue and it has been the biggest SHOCK OF MY LIFE. It has been over a year now that all my cravings have magically gone away—but only after going through a month of BRUTAL withdrawal—from eliminating all insulin spiking foods: sugars, starches and grains. I had been eliminating them 80% for many years, since my Brst. Cancer in 2004 because I was told sugar feeds cancer, but I still had cravings I just thought were normal. it wasn’t until I immersed myself in studying the science of leptin/insulin/adrenalin resistance and dopamine/serotonin and sugar/carbohydrate addiction that I finally understood what had happened to me. I learned how to go off those foods 100% and get through the withdrawal and get to the other side without drugs. IT IS HEAVEN ON THIS SIDE.

I am so FURIOUS I didn’t know any of this when I was young (numerous doctors and weight loss programs never told me), because I could have had a much happier life and I believe even prevented my cancer. I will never go back to those foods, as I so clearly see them as the poison they are for me. Finally, no white-knuckling determination trying not to eat them, incessant exercising—instead, eating is simply effortless. I am on a mission to spread the importance for people to understand the science of chemical food addiction, which removes the shame of being unable to control yourself.

Additionally, Alzheimer’s is now termed Type 3 Diabetes, so I am doing everything I can to spread this science.

Jacqueline Marcell, Speaker, Consultant, Author of ‘Elder Rage, or Take My Father… Please!, How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents’, Book-of-the-Month Club, Print/Audio/eBook

Dr. David Che – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Dr. David Che

1. Your message to kids today that you wish you knew back then what you currently know now. Be specific.

I wish as a child, I knew the consequences of drinking soda or carbonated soft drinks, which resulted in cavities in my teeth. The average can of soda contains SIX teaspoons of sugar! Coke also contains acid in addition to sugar, which damage the enamel on our teeth. Soda and carbonated soft drinks should contain pure cane sugar, which is actually good for the body and doesn’t cause tooth decay. However, soft drink companies use high fructose corn syrup, which is a lot cheaper to produce and brings in more profits. In 1983, a beverage analyst estimated that by switching to high-fructose corn syrup, Coca-Cola gained a cost advantage of USD 70 million a year over Pepsi and its bottlers! A year later, Pepsi followed in Coke’s footsteps and also began using the artificial sweetener. High fructose corn syrup is also the suspected culprit behind increased rates in diabetes and obesity since it was introduced in 1982. High fructose corn syrup has other negative effects on the body which is beyond the scope of this article.

2. How did you learn your lesson or what was your lesson? Did you get hurt, did you upset someone, did you get scared?

My dentist never explained the causes to me, as he just treated my cavities. I spent much time in the dental office having my teeth drilled on and my cavities fixed. I could never figure out why I was getting cavities. I later learned the strong connection between carbonated soft drinks and cavities while in dental school, studying the effects of high fructose corn syrup and saw the direct effects as a practicing dentist. I see children who drink lots of soft drinks come to the office with a lot of cavities, and it’s quite obvious now.

3. What you would have done differently back then if you could turn back time.

If I could turn back time, I would avoid drinking all carbonated soft drinks (except maybe at birthday parties) and stick with water and NOT FROM concentrate fruit juices. (Juices from concentrate have a lot of sugar) It’s worth pointing out that Coca-Cola produced in Mexico with the large glass bottles are actually made with cane sugar, and NOT high fructose corn syrup! Also, the store called Whole Foods Market produces their own brand of soda called 365, which has NO high fructose corn syrup. It comes in a variety of flavors such as lemon lime, cola, root beer, and ginger ale. I’ve personally tasted them and they taste just the regular store brands, minus the high fructose corn syrup!

4. Do you convey this message to children in your life today?

Yes, all the time in my dental practice and people I come across. I tell children and their parents that soft drinks, which contain high fructose corn syrup is very damaging to the teeth as well as . Cane sugar is the preferred good sweetner, but can be hard to find as high fructose corn syrup is present in many foods today, not just in soft drinks. Education is very important, but difficult because soft drinks are so widely advertised.

– Dr. David Che, Cocoa Beach, Florida US,

Neil Gussman – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Neil Gussman

Strength and determination define your life at every stage of your life. And the older you get, the more options you have in life if you are strong and determined. I smoked as a teenager to be cool and continued to smoke through my 20s. By the time I was 30 I could barely run and got tired on stairs. I quit and started exercising. In my 40s I became a bicycle racer. At 54 I re-enlisted in the Army after 25 years as a civilian. At 56 I deployed to Iraq. I ran my first marathon a week ago and learned to swim this year. My wife and I are planning to do an Ironman Triathlon in 2015. So much of what I do now depends on being healthy, fit and determined. I have six kids and have been an example of fitness for them. They compete in sports in school and in races outside school. Two went on to be college athletes. If I could “do over” my life, I would have been healthy the first 30 years, not just the second 30.

Neil Gussman, Sergeant, 2-104th Army Aviation

To our readers: Are you interested in participating in our If I Knew Then What I Know Now series? If yes, use the contact form above to reach out to us with your story! Your message may inspire children to make a right decision in life. Look forward to hearing from you.

Edie Weinstein – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Edie Weinstein

I actually do this exercise in workshops that I call “What I Wish I Knew When I Was You” as I encourage people to speak to younger versions of themselves. I do it myself often (:

First and foremost, I would share with young people that they are love incarnate, that they need not earn love by being ‘good boys and girls’. They get to be loved….just because. They are good enough AS IS and don’t have to be what someone else wants them to be to earn approval. Yes, there are rules we all need to follow to get along, like not saying or doing mean or hurtful things on purpose, like taking care of the planet, like being kind to each other and the other beings with whom we share the world, like cleaning up after ourselves, like acting responsibly. I would also remind them that their bodies belong to them and that no one touches them without permission, including those who are ‘supposed to’ take care of them. (Among other things, I am a therapist who has worked for 30 some years with abuse survivors and have seen the impact of physical and sexual abuse. The same respect is to offered to others…no means no…

Taking care of their bodies is important too; eating healthfully, being smoke free, exercising, not getting caught up with drugs and alcohol. Healthy relationships, good communication, being independent, being in integrity are core values as well. I am learning (at 54) that I didn’t need to earn approval and I could have saved a great deal of confusion in relationships. I am learning that I am indeed enough AS IS. I am learning to take better care of myself. Yes, I have shared these values with my own son who I raised solo since my husband died when Adam was 11 and I also express these thoughts with other children including my nephews and niece.

Edie Weinstein, Bliss Mistress, By Divine Design,

Scott Maloney – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Scott Maloney

1. Your message to kids today that you wish you knew back then what you currently know now. Be specific.

I now know as an adult what adults try with some success to teach our youths – to abstain from underage drinking and to make responsible decisions when of legal drinking age. No one ever likes to hear “I told you so!” after a decision that we made. It’s my hope that the youths learn from my mistakes and don’t need to experience them on their own.

2. How did you learn your lesson or what was your lesson? Did you get hurt, did you upset someone, did you get scared?

I learned my lesson through as the result of a near fatal decision I made under the influence of alcohol my senior year of college. A decision that nearly ended my life and affected my family forever. No one is invincible, not even a 21 year old in the prime of his life. I hurt myself, my family and I scared everyone I care about.

3. What you would have done differently back then if you could turn back time.

If I could go back and redo my life as a 21 year old I would without any hesitation. If I could go back and not make a silly decision to impress a few lower class-men my life would be a heck-uva lot better than it is today but I don’t deserve to complain because I got lucky!

4. Do you convey this message to children in your life today?

I do convey the message of responsible decision-making to students audiences ranging in size from 25 to 3,500 at a time …

Scott Maloney

** Interested in taking part in this web series, email the webmaster using the contact link above.

Kim Randall – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Kim Randall

My message to kids today is to educate yourselves on nutrition. Know what foods are doing to your body long term and learn how to make healthy changes now rather than later in life where lifestyle changes become harder to make and keep up with. Get out and walk or run daily, start a routine and stick with it. The reason why I am so focused on this is because I am an overweight 30-something year old that never really had the proper nutritional knowledge growing up. A hot home cooked meal was considered healthy where-as today it would be seen as not the healthiest. Trying to reboot your schedule and create new routines is extremely hard as an adult and I do wish that I had started exercising more often when I was a teenager. Start early so you aren’t running into the issues and problems adults my age are. Eat fresh and raw more often and save the processed foods for an occasional snack.

My last piece of advice for kids today is to go ahead and be different. It’s OK to be unique and it’s highly applauded and sought after as adults. No one wants to hire all the same “clone-like” people. Diversity makes companies thrive so yes… go ahead and flaunt those red polka dotted pumps you git at the thrift shop. They’re just as unique as you are.

Kim Randall, CEO and Social Brand Strategist, KiMedia Strategies

To our readers: Are you interested in participating in our If I Knew Then What I Know Now series? If yes, use the contact form above to reach out to us with your story! Your message may inspire children to make a right decision in life. Look forward to hearing from you.

Emma Hunter – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Dr. Emma Hunter

No One Is Thinking About You!

I remember being in fourth grade, it was my birthday, and the annual book-fair was taking place in our school library. Soon, it would be our class turn to visit the library, and buy all the books, pencils, erasers, and other cool items we wanted. Before departing to the library, my teacher announced to the class that there would be a drawing. Whichever student’s name she drew from the box would be able to get any free item they wanted from the fair. She stuck her hand in the box, and I couldn’t believe it—my name had been called! I was so excited. I loved the book-fair, and now I had the chance to get any item I wanted for free. The moment she called my name, I knew I wanted something special. Maybe stickers, pencils with cool erasers, markers, or a paint-set.

Just seconds before we were to leave for the book-fair, the teacher made a comment to the class that sent my heart twirling into sadness. She encouraged us to go to book-fair, and buy a book that was at the fifth-grade reading level. Doing so, she noted, would help us improve our reading comprehension, and prepare us for the reading/writing sections of future MEAP tests.

I knew my teacher would be very pleased if I bought the book. But there was a problem. I wanted to color! Not read a boring book!

All the students in my class were huddled around the right section of the book fair. That’s where all the fifth and six-grade level books were located. And the teacher was even helping students pick out which books to buy. I stayed with the crowd for about 30 seconds or so, but wasn’t entirely happy.

Nervous of the repercussions of what would happen if I strayed, I hesitantly started making my way to other sections of the book-fair. Lo and behold, located at the left side of the library, I found an item I fell in love with. It was a plastic purse, and inside of the purse was a “Clifford The Big Red Dog” book with cool coloring utensils, a pencil, and Clifford eraser! I started fantasizing about how fun it would be when I got home, and had a chance to start reading, coloring, and using the cool eraser.

While I knew it was what my heart wanted, I kept the purse on the shelf and proceeded back to where my classmates and teacher were. There I felt safe, but not happy. I was doing what everyone else was doing. My teacher would be happy, and no kid could possibly make fun of me for choosing an item for a little kid. I picked up a fifth-grade level reading book that I thought might interest me. “Just maybe,” I thought to myself, “I can enjoy reading it.” But as much as I tried to convince myself, I couldn’t. Should I stay with the crowd and get the book? Should I go back, and get my Clifford package? Would the teacher be disappointed if I didn’t challenge myself with a “big-kid” book? Would the other students make fun of me for choosing Clifford—a book for babies?

booksI slowly proceeded back to the left-side of the library to admire the Clifford package one more time, but didn’t dare pick it up. I reluctantly started walking back to the crowd. But as I was heading back, something from within caused me to stop walking. There I stood in the middle of the library—half way from what I really wanted, and half way from gaining the approval of others. I felt trapped. Maybe I could get my Clifford without anyone noticing? I could keep it on the down-low, hiding it as much as I could with my hand. And so that’s what I did. I had made my choice: Clifford it was. No one was going to notice anything.

Our shopping time was nearing the end, and I was keeping the package on the down-low. While I was making my way back to the crowd, my teacher came up to me and asked: “What did you get?” I reluctantly showed her the package, and what came out of her mouth shocked me! “That’s a nice choice,” she said with a big smile on her face. I couldn’t believe it. What!?! It was a nice choice? But I thought she would disapprove because she was encouraging us to get a fifth-grade level reading book?!? But no, I was wrong, she thought it was a nice choice. And for the other students thinking I was a “baby” if I got Clifford, you know what? They didn’t even notice what I got. They didn’t even care. They were all caught up with their own books, and what they had bought. Both my assumptions of what my teacher and classmates would think of me were wrong.

I didn’t realize it at that time, but that experience offered a great life lesson. It was a lesson I would have to learn over and over again in my own life: You are free to live the life you are meant to live. The choice to be true to yourself starts and ends with you. People can tell you whatever they want. They can share their advice. They can tell you their opinion about the choices you are making. But at the end of the day, it’s completely up to you as to whether you follow your dreams in life. I know now more than ever in my life that my happiness will be derived only by having the courage to pursue my dreams. And no matter how it looks to others, you come alive when you know deep within your heart that you are living the life that is right for you.

Emma Hunter, PhD, Life Coach and Author of Where’s The Love?, Confessions of a Soccer Mom, and Failure: The Key to Success

Mary Lee Gannon – If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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Life Lessons From Adults To Children
Today’s Guest – Mary Lee Gannon

I was asked to present to high school students as part of a program entitled “Pittsburghers That Make a Difference.” My topic was Goal Setting. When first asked to do this all I could think about was how boring a topic this would be to teenagers. It was even boring to me. And then when I found out that one of the other presenters was the veterinarian from the National Aviary who was bringing the Froot Loops bird I knew I was in trouble. So I decided to focus my talk on something kids and many adults tend not to think about – failure.

What happens when you set a goal, are working toward it and realize the goal was a mistake?

Forty-four percent of college graduates change their major between the second semester of their freshman year and graduation day. Eighty-three percent of a recent graduating class of Duke University were working for a different organization within five years of graduation and 43 % had changed careers at least once.

Setting goals and readjusting them is an ongoing part of life.

Remember two things with respect to setting goals:

#1. Begin with the end in mind – Know where you ultimately want to be.

#2. It is important to fail early – Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks.

If you have made a bad career choice, define your transferable skills and start researching other opportunities. Transferable skills are in the following three key areas: 1) Organization of Information, 2) Communication and 3) Fixing and operating equipment and systems. If you are in school and majoring in something you feel will ultimately not make you happy, diversify your course selection and change majors or minor is something new if it is too close to graduation.

Your job, your ongoing education, your relationships, your outside activities – they are like a boat at a dock. You will get one. You will get in it. Your boat will start to pull away from the pier. If you have a set of oars, you will drive the boat. If you don’t the boat will drive you. You probably won’t sink – unless there is a terrible storm where faith and self-worth will come strongly into play. But you will more likely find yourself in the same inlet circling the same waters over and over never being able to pull out of the harbor and into the sea toward a destination.

Think about people whom you have heard repeatedly say, “I hate my job.” “I hate my life.” “If only he would…” They haven’t taken hold of the oars.

Goals are not notions. Goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results Oriented and Timely. “I am trying” is not a goal. It’s a notion.

“I will do it within this amount of time” is a goal.

So ask yourself, if circling the inlet is good enough for you? Who is driving your boat?

When I graduated from high school I went off to college in Michigan where I majored in an allied health profession and took a job in the Houston Medical Center upon graduation. In my first month living in Texas I knew I had made a mistake. Houston, though lovely, was not where I wanted to live the rest of my life, but I could gain valuable work experience there that I couldn’t get in any other part of the world. I hadn’t anticipated how much I would miss my family and the familiarity of a town I loved. I really didn’t want to fall in love and marry someone and have to live away from things that m nattered to me the rest of my life so I set a goal – I would work in Houston for two years (personal goal with a time-frame) and then move to a place where my professional experience would stand out (professional goal with the end in mind). Two years to the day I moved back to Pittsburgh. Sure while in Houston I had to focus on smaller goals like where I wanted to live, what kind of furniture I’d buy, how long I wanted my commute to work to be. But the ultimate place I wanted to be was back in Pittsburgh with great work experience behind me.

homeThen I got back to Pittsburgh and set another goal. In two years I would buy a house. Well I hadn’t figured on falling in love so that goal got tossed out the window when I married and bought a house with my husband. We had four children. I continued to work in my profession before my first child was born but I was beginning to see
that while I was very fulfilled in an allied health profession at 25, there really wasn’t a lot of room for advancement and I couldn’t imagine doing this work at 45 or even 26 for that matter. I have an entrepreneurial spirit and that personality type breeds restlessness and achievement.

I was at a crossroads: I could continue doing allied health work forever. (Remember the people that say they hate their job?) Or I could work at something new – which was risky. I decided to fail early at my first career choice and regroup.

So I started building a corporate gift business and an antiques business on the side while I was working in a large physician’s office so that when we started a family in two years, I’d have something in place for home. (Calculated risk with a time frame that gave me the luxury of a paying job while building a business on the side.) I had always loved writing and after my first child was born I began writing on a volunteer basis for organizations for which I was volunteering.

What happened was that the corporate gift business and antique business were getting too large to manage from home and I did not want to work outside of the home while my children were young so one day I saw an ad that said the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was looking for freelance writers and I sent clips of my writing in to the PG for consideration. (The goal of staying at home with my children was ‘keeping the end in mind’ and being a reporter held a calculate risk of rejection.) I didn’t have a degree in journalism but that didn’t stop me. I’ll never forget what the PG editor said when he hired me. “Mary Lee, you can write like you are having a conversation around the dining room table. We can’t always find that.” So by now I had pretty much realized that I was not going back to the profession in which I had a degree. I was writing five stories a week for the PG. I had picked up a lot of freelance work such as being the public relations director of a public school district, the executive director of a trade association, freelance business writing and graphic design and more – all work I
did from home.

WriterI taught myself to write grant proposals when the public school district asked me to help them secure a grant for a summer program for special needs children. This work was not in my contract but that didn’t matter to me. I saw this as an opportunity to learn a new skill for which there was a need in society. I went to the Foundation Center of the Carnegie Library and looked up everything I could on grant proposals and then started calling funders all over the city to see if they would read my proposal. We succeed and the district was awarded $68,000 for the program. Next we pursued a grant to put AstroTurf on the athletic field. I then started to see that raising money was not just about the written proposal but more about the relationships between those asking for money and those giving away the money. I mentored under a keen school board member and we secured that grant as well – $450,000. I never got paid for working on that grant either. And I wouldn’t be where I am today without having volunteered to learn how to do this work.

The school district awarded me a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for my efforts in securing these grants. Shortly after this and when my youngest child was in school full time I took that citation on an interview which resulted in me being offered a full time executive director position at a hospital foundation in charge of all of the hospital’s fundraising. Now remember, I had never worked as a professional fundraiser. They were not offering me the job of major gifts officer, event planner, vice president of operations or any of the other myriad of jobs in the fundraising profession. They were offering me the lead job because of measurably what I had accomplished in a short period of time – $518,000 in grants on my first two attempts to fund raise.

I was with that hospital for less than two years and was then offered the position at a much larger hospital as president of their foundation where our capital campaign goal was $5 million over two years and we raised more than $10 million. That led to a bigger position at a hospital foundation where I was just recently recruited.

“I will do it by taking these steps it in this amount of time” is a goal.

Again: If you only remember two things about goals remember this:

#1. Begin with the end in mind

#2. It is important to fail early – don’t be afraid to take calculated risks
and adjust your goals.

So ask yourself, “Who is driving your boat?” Do you want to get out of the inlet to a destination or is circling the same waters OK with you?

What are the steps to get there?

It was Christopher Columbus who said, “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Pick up your oars and start now!

Mary Lee Gannon, CAE, President, / Gannon Group