Friday, November 30, 2012

Feeling Sorry for Powerball Lottery Winners

There were two winners in the recent HALF A BILLION dollar jackpot winnings for the Powerball this past Wednesday.  I just watched the live newscast of the family that won in Missouri.  It was the all-American family from Midwest-- mother, father, three adult sons and beautiful young daughter.  Their faces beaming, containing their excitement, perhaps nervous from being on live television.

Once upon a time I felt genuinely happy for these winners. Imagining how there lives would be a little easier and better. So I thought...Now I'm fearful and pray for them. How I wish they never did the press conference. WHY?

In picking up the newspaper, I started reading and learning about the harsh reality of winning lotteries.  The more I read the more fearful I became that I do not even buy a ticket. You see for these mega winners, their life changes completely and not necessarily for the better.  Sure money can buy material things but you lose your privacy and also a "normal life".  It attracts unwanted attention. A common thread for these winners is the mounting temptations to spend recklessly, the inability to manage the earnings, and the number of disingenuous people around you --friends, relatives, coworkers, investors.  It's very similar to paparazzi pursuing celebrities. You are followed, hounded relentlessly. No one is genuine anymore. For the average person one might say "how bad can it be? We're talking millions of dollars."  It's the beginning of another nightmare and unexpected pressure. Yes having millions of dollars comes at hefty price.That's why stardom and celebrity fame comes at a price.

Spending is easy but several mega winners will tell you they wish they never won! Not knowing how to manage and invest, wanting to help every friend, relative and coworker, and temptations to buy everything they ever dream of lead to bankruptcy, and for some--homelessness.  Even more tragic, it has lead to a number of suicides. At first I couldn't believe it. The more I read, the more it made sense.  How to survive? Having that much money takes a STRONG discipline not to spend it all AND money management skills to grow the money AND the ability to remain anonymous or discreet.

Here is the reality: Roughly nine of out of 10 big winners lose their windfall within five years according to a Stanford University Study of lottery winners.

Roughly nine out of 10 big prize winners lose their windfall within five years, according to both a Florida study that looked at bankruptcies and a Stanford University study on lottery winners,

Read more:

Jack Whittaker wish he never won  the $314 million after his daughter committed suicide

Poverty after excessive gambling. There was Evelyn Adams who won not once but twice! Raking in $5.4 million in 1985 and 1986, she admits gambling became an addiction. Today she lives in a trailer.

The pressure could lead to death. In 1998, William "Bud" Post III won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery, only to later wish it had never happened. That's because his brother hired a hit man to try to kill him and his sixth wife (and was arrested for doing so), other relatives made him invest in businesses that never paid off, a landlady made him give her a third of his winnings and Bud ended up in jail for firing a gun over the head of a bill collector. He died in 2006 of respiratory failure.

End up murdered. Then there was Abraham Shakespeare who won the $31 million jackpot in Florida in 2006. He disappeared in 2009, having spent most of his fortune; his body was found in early 2010 under a concrete slab. According to author of the book "Plain Dealer", a woman befriended him and fleeced him for $1.8 million. Police believe she may be connected to the murder.

Being too generous lead to suicide. I remember the story of Bob Harrell Jr. who won $31 million in the Texas lottery. At first everything was great. He purchased a ranch and half a dozen homes for himself. As one who loved to give, he purchased new automobiles for family members and gave large contributions to his church and if a congregation member needed help, he was ready with cash. Then his life unraveled as quickly as it came together. With mounting pressures from everyone, his spending and lending was out of control. It splintered his marriage and 20 months after winning the lottery, Harrell committed suicide.

There are many stories like these. I only shared a few.

 As an optimist, at first I hesitated to write this post and burst bubbles this holiday season.But then I've always been an educator to help PREVENT accidents and misfortunes and improve lives of people and pets.

The lessons I learned and want to share with you are the following:

  1.  Don't buy a lottery ticket for bigger games if you currently have debt for non necessity items.  Debts from mounting bills due to job loss and other emergencies is one thing. But if you have debt from non emergency spending, chances are you will have difficulty managing your million dollar winnings.  Play a smaller game or scratch-off ticket. 
  2. Avoid playing major lottery games in states where you are required to do a press conference. To me this is the biggest mistake because now the whole world knows and regular people have no idea how to handle the constant attention and pressure. By law in Illinois, you have to appear at a press conference. Only six states allow you to remain anonymous--Kansas, Maryland, Delaware, Michigan, North Dakota, and Ohio.  Other states publish your name but you are not dragged to a media frenzy event. Sure, the media can obtain this information and publish it but you're wise not to do any television interviews for further exposure.
  3.  Don't rush to claim your ticket. Do research first and set up a Trust fund to protect your identity as much as possible. Sadly in the State of Oregon, this practice is forbidden. 
  4. Hire a reputable accountant. Mine is the best! She has clients across the country, from all income levels and knows the laws inside and out and doesn't charge outrageous fees. It's like getting a Mercedes for price of a Toyota.   She'll guide you through this complicated process as you gain more assets. 
Do I buy any lottery tickets? Oh sure! I only play the Fantasy Five and am thrilled whenever I win $10, $20 even $200.  The odds are greater and I don't have to be on national TV.  So winning a maximum prize of  $200,00, I would be ecstatic! I know how to invest, manage, never spend more than what I earn and save. Truly wealthy people are not saddled with debt. So far I'm ahead with my Fantasy Five earnings, by a few dollars. At least I'm not losing and still hope to win a few thousand dollars.

One last thing, please consider donating to a charity the same amount you spend on any gambling. The reward is greater!  

So do you buy lottery tickets? Which ones?  Leave a comment below! 
And I won't be offended if you don't agree with my advice.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bombshells in Catsuits

Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider

If you know me, then you know I love cats and wearing cat suits--for a cause.  Here is a video of actresses in jaw-dropping form-fitting catsuits for various movie roles.

Cat suits do not necessarily mean that an actress must be playing the role of a cat woman. Other famous "cat suits" include Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. Take a look at the video and tell us which is your favorite!

Which one is your favorite? I have to go with Michelle Pfeiffer as Cat Woman. But then again I love Halle Berry too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So what did I think of Salt Lake City?

"Different by Nature" that's the motto of Salt Lake City. Indeed after my very brief trip, I was so impressed with this city, I have added it to my Top 10 list of cities to visit or return. So many unexpected and pleasant  (except one) surprises, I was heartbroken I could not spend more time. There were a number of free tours and free transportation. Then I saw gangsters and cowboys getting married! Then I get into a duel with a certain woman and end up with bloody nose. Read on!

The purpose of my trip was for personal and professional growth. I attended Blog Paws, a conference for pet bloggers to enhance efforts for my new dream, a nonprofit organization to help homeless pets.

First, I made sure to arrive the night before the conference so I had half a day to explore. What was I thinking. Half a day? This city has so much to offer! My hotel was ideally located in downtown, and it reminded me of Miami--a small big city. I was minutes away from visiting the Mormon temple grounds, museums and galleries, from sampling endless dining and shopping options, from attending a Broadway musical or symphony...There's so much more to discover. Nestled at the base of the Wasatch Range, one is so close to streams and trails to hike and bike.  City and nature are neighbors that live in harmony. What was most impressive was the cleanliness of the entire city especially downtown. No trash, litter or graffiti.

NO GPS Needed
Salt Lake city is so well planned, you don't really need GPS. The city is built on a grid, and there's public transit everywhere. Buses, light rail (TRAX) and high-speed rail (Front Runner) can convey you throughout Salt Lake City and around the Wasatch Front. Fares to ride TRAX and local buses are $2.25 one way $4.50 round trip or $5.50 all day. However in downtown, is a free-fare zone for both the train and buses. Yes free!

The day was glorious and weatherpersons warned of a 97 degree high temperature. Wow! That's hotter than Miami, or so I thought. No worries for this Miami girl, my wardrobe is full of light, airy sundresses.

So I walked three blocks from my hotel to catch the TRAX. After about seven minutes, I hopped off at the stop outside the Temple grounds.What greeted me was something out of a painting. The tall, clean line buildings and the rows of colorful flower beds--it all looked new! But it wasn't. Just very well kept by volunteers.  A recurring theme during my two hour visit to Temple grounds which explains a lot.

There are several buildings open to the public with FREE tours offered by volunteer tour guides.

Immediately I thought of my mother. How a green-thumb hobbyist like her would have fallen in love
My mother toiled in gardens most of her adult life until a fall signaled her to sell her house and move to a condominium with elevators and no stairs and no gardens to tend to. Gardening was a labor of love.

 So upon walking through one gate I inquired at the information booth about the various tours. Apparently I just missed the "garden tour" by half an hour. If only I did a little research and planning. However, the volunteer at the booth explained she could have two sisters (Mormon sisters--that is how they refer to fellow women of the same religion) take me on a general tour and talk about the gardens.

The sisters, walked out in very humble blouses and long skirts. To be truthful, I felt under dressed and half naked in my short and bra less sundress. Not because of how the sisters were dressed, but because for me it did not feel hot in the direct  97 degree sun! Mother Nature and I were at odds. The air was so dry that later I experienced nose bleeds. I missed the Miami humidity! Can you believe that? But one older woman complimented my dress and told me I wore it well. Relief set in.  Nothing was going to spoil this beautiful visit.

The sisters, while they didn't know the names or types of the flowers still offered a couple of fascinating facts about these endless gardens.  One, they are replanted 16 times a year by volunteers from the age of 12 to 18. From a young age, the Church of Latter Day Saints teaches young people a work ethic and the  importance of contributing or giving back through their skills. It is no wonder that as a community, Salt Lake City prospered quickly as an outcast group. Second, the gardens are considered "rooftop" located just above a heated garage below. So that's where all the non-volunteers that work in the various buildings park their vehicles. Genius!

As I continued following the sisters, we came upon the administration building as seen in the below photo on the left. The first church office was built in 1853 and all records of births, baptisms, marriages and deaths are stored there. This is very important as I would assume, this determines if you are a Mormon, the only people that can enter the Temple. Non Mormons are not permitted. My second assumption is that if Mormons tithe, (offer one tenth or ten percent of their harvest or in contemporary times, their income) this is where the contributions are tracked and recorded.

Once I thanked the sisters I continued on my own to absorb and revel in this serenity and beauty. Then the Temple appeared like a shiny beacon in the distance. Near me were a wedding party posing for photos.

The red, white and 1930's theme was fun and festive and caught me by surprise. To be honest I was sensing a gangster theme.  I had assumed the religion was strict  and would not permit deviations from the white and black. Well the bride is wearing white. Looks like groom and groomsmen have total freedom in deciding their attire. Hmm I wonder if brides can wear other colors?

As I meandered on the grounds heading towards the temple that grew larger, more ominous, I saw one, two, three, 20 different wedding parties.  The Temple performs over 50 wedding ceremonies a day! Even more in the summertime. Couples and close friends and family members travel from all over the country and the world to celebrate their wedding at the capital of Mormonism.

At various outdoor entrances, wedding families posed for group photos before entering the temple.  This one caught my attention where the groom and his toddler son are wearing cowboy hats! I soon learned there are a number of ceremony rooms inside the temple.

My next stop was the Beehive house, also the home of Brigham Young, the prophet. Two sisters greeted me inside the house and two other sisters were the tour guides. Another free tour.

Beehive House
(home to Brigham Young, prophet or leader of Church of Latter Day Saints)

Something else that was hard to miss. Each sister always carried two books. The Bible and the Book of Mormon.
The house was built in in 1889 and Brigham Young had arrived from Illinois with only a bible, the book of Mormon, a dictionary and tools. Faith and hard work would  provide them shelter and sustenance. Sure enough it did. This is why the home is referred to as the Beehive house and has a plaster beehive affixed to the rooftop. The beehive is symbolic of industrious work.

The sisters explained that a person is designated a "prophet" to teach about Jesus Christ, just like in the Old Testament, and mentioned Moses as one of the well known prophets.  Brigham Young started as an apostle of Joseph Smith who was a prophet.  Later Brigham Young was the chosen prophet to lead the church.

The house was beautifully decorated. We learned that some of the more specialized work from furniture making to artistic designs were all contributions from fellow (Mormon) brothers and sisters. They were a community that regularly worked hard and helped their neighbor. This was truly impressive.

Music Room

Living Room

I had expected more austere and humble furnishings. My preconceived notions were far from the truth. If community members came together and offered their specialty skills, and this is the home of the leader of the church, then it only makes sense his home would have the finest furniture and decor.

When I asked how many children Brigham Young bore, the sisters answered that no one knows for sure. He had at least 17 children but possibly more. About seven children lived in this house, others lived next door.

After the tour, next door was the Lion House which now serves as an iconic restaurant known for their homemade recipes especially the bread and buns. It was recommended to eat in the outdoor patio, but unfortunately it was closed for a wedding reception but the meal was palatable and definitely homemade. Since I was on vacation with no time to exercise, I chose the grilled chicken instead of the caloric chicken pie. Delicious.

Lion House
(formerly a house, now a restaurant)
 My free time was ticking fast and I scurried through one of two visitor's centers. So much to see, learn and admire! There was a model of the Temple with one side cut open like a doll house to give outsiders a view of the various rooms and chambers and their purpose. Unfortunately, my time was up and I could not stay for the free tour!

As I headed out of the gates, a most spectacular and gracious host loomed and bid me well--the Mormon Temple.

The Latter-day Saints labored with faith for 40 years to build a new temple.  A flawed initial foundation, the arrival of federal troops in 1858, and the building of railroads from 1868 to 1873 caused major delays.  Severe winters, plagues, extreme poverty, the lack of effective shipping methods, and the demands of harvest and further settlement also slowed construction. But despite these difficulties, the Saints continued their labors and completed the temple in 1893.

The above quote was an inscription in the visitor's museum. As I exited the grounds, I felt inspired and received affirmation. While I may be Catholic, both religions have much in common. And so I felt a connection and received a message. At a difficult crossroads in my life, where I was currently without a day job and regular income, I had made a tough decision. To pursue my dream to grow my small business. It would not be easy. Hurdles, disappointments and long hard work awaited me. But this is nothing new for me--that was my advantage. It is a familiar road. More importantly, I received an acknowledgement that I embraced wholeheartedly. For many years now, whether I was unemployed or living well,  I was volunteering. I was giving back. The Mormons don't just preach about service, they live it everyday. Such a wonderful example. I realized if everyone gave back just a little regularly, this world would be a much happier place. My blood, sweat and tears to help homeless animals is not without its rewards. While I may not see it now, God's grace will reveal itself in time. I am so thankful for all that I have and feel truly blessed for my family, my health, and the freedom of this country to realize my dreams.

Thank you Salt Lake City! I'll be back!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day at the Team Room, Cauley Square

It's Mother's Day and I wondered what my mother would choose for her brunch or destination. Yes on this day and her birthday, mom gets to choose any activity of her liking.  And boy does she keep it varied and interesting.

Once it was an airboat tour of alligators. The following year it was brunch outdoors surrounded by gardens--that's heaven for a greenthumb like my mother. Then the next year it was brunch in the Art Deco interior of the National Hotel followed by privileges to their pool and beach access.  This year it was Florida history and brunch at the Tea Room at Cauley Square--a historic railroad village in Homestead, Florida. The first time I visited Cauley Square in March, I was so excited. It was like discovering a slice of history quietly tucked away.

Red Caboose at entrance of Cauley Square

The Tea Room is nestled among a  handful of pioneer built houses. I'm reminded of ladies in petticoat or high collar dresses that gathered for afternoon tea. Sure enough the painting on the house exterior, says it all.  Oh fiddle-dee-dee, I didn't wear a dress.

Inside we scanned the three dining rooms. Originally we reserved the "butterfly room" but our two seater table  jammed in a corner was a tight squeeze. No worries. There were other themed rooms. So we opted for the "antique room" to the left of main entrance.

"Butterfly Room"

At this point we were room -and -table hopping.
Thankfully it was not crowded
 Today's menu was a special three course pre-planned menu instead of the typical soup, salad or sandwiches. Sure enough it tasted like grandmother's homemade cookin' which we enjoyed while scanning the antiques throughout the room. Upon leaving, we popped into the "white lace room" surrounded by windows. We made a note to return for sandwiches and tea next time.

I call this the "White Lace Room"

After lunch, the garden paths invite you to casually stroll under the shade of decades old towering trees.

Garden figurine sculptures outside the Tea Room restaurant
  Among the gardens you will find quaint little cottages that offer you some of the most intriguing items to delight the discerning shopper. These shops offer collectible treasures each with its own flair from antiques to country crafts, fine art, home decor, vintage clothing, hand-crafted items, jewelry and specialty paper store for invitations and more.

But one highlight for me were the outdoor cats (around 20) and family of racoons that lived around the antique shop run by a little old lady. I soon learned she's a fellow member of the Cat Network. All cats are rescues and are spayed/neutered and vaccinated. She also cares for a family of racoons.  I happened to see the mother and babies waddling around.  Some cats were lazily napping outside and didn't blink as you walked by or stopped to say "hello kitty". I even spotted an older raccoon at the neighboring courtyard.

As we continued meandering the grounds, our trail lead us to the Village Chalet restuarant. This shows the quaintness of the one -block village. This video shows us looking for the restaurant. 

Just one more place to visit to sample the food and ambience.

Cauley Square also hosts different events throughout the year such as fashion shows, the Renaissance Festival and many other unique events.

It was so peaceful, a nice escape from the city life.  As we drove home, past all the crops fields and beautiful homes, I thought about buying a small house as a weekend getaway. Bet you didn't know there's a little country in me.

So I wonder what mom will choose for her 70th birthday in August. She did mention skydiving! In this case, I will dutifully serve as cheerleader.

For more photos and additional stories, visit my website My Fabulous Florida by clicking here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Patty Cake Cats

For your Friday laugh to start the weekend...Check out this video of two cats playing Patty Cake! The originally video (without voiceover) reached 1 million hits, but since these guys added voices to the cats, it has over 13 million hits. Cats are just amazing. Be sure to leave a comment !

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Alligators, Crocodiles and Pythons Oh My!

I love my home state of Florida for many reasons--the weather (yes I can take humidity over freezing cold any day), the beaches, the variety of cultural activities and the scenery EXCEPT for unwanted alligators, crocodiles, and pythons.  We see them more and more in front lawns, backyards and swimming pools.

Growing up in Titusville, FL (across the river from Kennedy Space Center) , we had a house with plenty of trees, bushes and flower gardens which my mother tended to regularly. Often she would spend an entire day on all fours, with hoe, shovel, bags of soil, toiling away--weeding, digging, planting and repeat.  But once she thought she grabbed the green water hose. As it turns out it was a garden snake that slithered right out of her hands.  She shrugged it off. On another occasion my sister, father and I were indoors and heard my mother screaming, shrieking! Was she being attacked? YES! A cockroach had flown down her shirt while she was gardening.  I ALMOST PASSED out at the thought of it. I always say, old age won't kill me-- but arachnophobia, cockroach phobia, reptile phobia, will certainly be the cause of my heart attack. (My mother didn't faint, she's stronger than me).

This is why I live in a highrise condo, closer to the clouds than the ground, on the 40th floor. How high do cockroaches fly? Wait! Don't tell me. Let me continue to believe they hover around floors 1-5.

In my research as part of the storytelling of the Florida landscape for my popular Art Deco/South Beach tours, I share the fact that Miami Beach was originally inhabited by rats and crocodiles. That's correct. CROCODILES, not alligators.  Over the years they have almost become extinct and were listed as endangered and it was forbidden to trap or kill them.  Sure enough with time, the American Crocodile has made a comeback.  An ecosystem restoration project flourished and crocodiles now total around 1,500 in the state. It's cousin, the alligator still dominate at 1 million.

So what's the difference?  Basic Facts:

Salt water crocodile

  • Alligators are native to only the US and China (where there few left). Crocs are more prevelant throughout the world especially Africa, Asia and Australia.
  • Crocodiles have pointed, snaggle-toothed, V-shaped snouts, while Alligators have U-shaped mouths.
  • Alligators generally grow to 6 feet in length. Crocs up to 23ft. WOW.
  • Alligators are only found in fresh water but also brackish. Crocs can stand brackish and sometimes salt water.
  • Crocodile gets their name from the Greek meaning “worm of the stones”. Alligator comes from the Spanish “Lagarto” for lizard. (Identified by Spanish Explorers in the New World).
  • Crocodiles tend to be the ones made into handbags, belts and boots.

Last summer I saw on late night TV news a seven- foot alligator that had pummeled through a screen door and lay on the kitchen floor of an elderly woman's home.  Maybe he was looking for a cool spot? Fortunately the unwelcome visitor didn't attack the woman as she almost stepped on him.  She did live near a canal where they often live and lurk. But apparently, the American crocodile and alligator generally stay away from humans. There has never been a reported incident of a crocodile attacking a human in the Florida wild.

An increase in crocodile population means  that "croc encounters" are on the rise as well.   Last summer, crocs cruised into the canals of upscale Gables by the Sea along Biscayne Bay. Then a five- foot crocodile was found in the swimming pool of a homeowner.   But when state trappers came to pull the crocodile, they dumped  it back into the canal, weeks after a dead dog was found floating in the bay with bite marks. While crocodiles were removed from the "ENDANGERED" list they are still "PROTECTED" federally and can not be trapped or killed. This prompted the community association to add "crocodile watch" to the Crime Watch and Traffic Watch duties.

Even more alarming is that crocodiles and alligators eat small prey, including pet dogs. Just last month in Key Largo, a 10-footer in a canal killed a 65 pound dog named Roxie. 

More crocodiles are pulled from swimming pools, plucked from ocean waves in Cocoa Beach, and spotted sunbathing in a homeowner's yard in Tampa.

So are alligators and crocodiles invading suburbia or is man invading their natural habitat by building homes and communities on the border of the Everglades? This is why I happily live on the east side, far from the Everglades in a highrise.  But this story takes another wildlife turn. PYTHONS!

Homeowners in west Miami are now placing "nuisance calls" not just for alligators and crocodile sightings but pythons as well!  Burmese pythons, native to Southeast Asia were smuggled into the U.S. as pets. But over time, people dumped these pets into the Everglades. It sounded like a joke when the news first hit in 2000: Giant Burmese phythons were invading the Everglades. Now scientists have measured the impact of this voracious species and the news is troubling.

Experts say these pythons have almost obliterated marsh rabbits, foxes, raccoons, opossums, and white-tailed deer.  It's possible that the decline in bobcats, coyotes and panthers is linked to the disappearance of the smaller prey.

Pythons are also eating lots of birds. More than 25% of pythons found in the Everglades contain bird remains, according to the Miami Herald, January 31, 2012. "They also happily eat pets including cats, dogs and some farm animals. Roosters and geese have been found in their stomachs".

The Everglades National Park personnel have captured or killed 1,825 since 2000. 

In watching Animal Planet's The Swamp Wars, I soon recognized the aerial view and terrain from the opening credits--South Florida.  In this video, a woman catches a glimpse of a snake in her backyard and calls 911. Miami Dade Fire Rescue comes out and turns out it's a very large Burmese Python. Watch as this female firefighter tries to grab the snake!

In this clip below a female firefighter tries to capture an adult Burmese Python, which in turn tries to bite her and wraps around her leg!

Tune into Animal Planet to watch the full stories. 

In wrapping this up,  I just realized my condo is along the Miami River. Do they live there as well? I've seen many manatees. While I'm feeding the neghborhood cats, near bushes, there could be snakes and alligators lurking nearby!  Oh no! Dialing National Wildlife folks now.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Rage about Pinterest

Now as a marketing professional it's my job to keep up with marketing trends, gimmicks, technology... Candidly, I haven't plunged into Google+ and based on loose perception, it rates low on the craze scale but according to one Google analyst, they have several million users. We'll have to wait and see for proven case studies for its impact.

But a newcomer social technology, Pinterest, has received immediate positive buzz. Fellow bloggers have embraced it.

Recently, HitWise, a web tracking firm, named it one of the Top 10 social networks on the Internet. Small business owners that can't afford traditional marketing, are smart to delve into social media.
So, here's a quick Pinterest lesson.

Pin: A "pin" is an image, which usually includes a web link, that you tack to your boards.
Boards: A "board" is where all your pins live, and you can create as many boards as you want.  For example, you would create a board titled, "Things to Cook," and pin all your recipe ideas there.

Re-Pinning: If you see a pin that you like, all you have to do is click the "re-pin" button and it will automatically go onto the board that you choose.

Basically, once you pin something, it pops up on the feed for everyone to see.  So then, a stranger could re-pin one of your ideas, and so on. That's how everything gets spread around.

You can "follow" your friends' boards, or just follow strangers who pin things that you find interesting.  You don't have to request someone or approve the people who follow you.

There is also a search bar, so you can find exactly what you are looking for. So if you wanted to find "spring fashion 2012," just type it in, and all the pins that correspond with that topic will pop up.

If you are trying to see a product, if you type a price into the description, it will automatically pop up as a banner across the picture.

And the beauty like other social media, it's free.  Share your success story about Pinterest

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Day and My Dream for America

Christine feeding Mama Cat and Romeo

On this important date in history I am reminded of a great leader. As we know leadership is often riddled with conflicts that may ignite prejudice, violence even wars. Basically due to ignorance.

We know the stories in history of people belittled, degraded, attacked, unfairly treated in social, commercial, political and legislative aspects just because of the color of their skin or their religion or country of origin.

As a white, highly-educated female born and raised in the United States, I never imagined I would be a target of prejudice. And yet it has happened in recent years. Yes, I've been the subject of awkward glances, snickering, and verbal assault.  Why? Because I have a dream. That dream is to reverse the epidemic rate of homeless pets by getting to the root of the problem--education. The mass public knows little to nothing about the plight of homeless pets, especially the soaring number of cats.  So I started by setting an example and getting in the trenches. I set out to trap and spay/neuter outdoor cats and feed them regularly so they continue to live humanely. Then I started to use my voice to help the voiceless. Then the conflicts began. The verbal attacks.

 Had I quietly gone about just feeding cats, my life would remain the same. Pets are a man's best friend and cats are the most common pet, outnumbering dogs in the U.S. They play an important role in our society. For many owners, they are considered family members and provide unconditional love, companionship and therapuetic benefits. Dogs and even cats are known to save the lives of owners from a fire or flood by alerting them. The stories of unbelievable heroism and hilarious antics are shared daily on the Internet. Pets also entertain. Yet when they are abandoned, dumped in the street, multiplying, suffering, they are viewed as rodents.  This is far from the truth.

I soon learned that educating people about a concept riddled with misconceptions launched me into the battle of my life.

Thankfully, today came along, and I'm reminded how Martin Luther King fought against stubborn closed minds with powerful words, public marches-- both peaceful means.  Then I glanced at binders of books lined on my bookshelf of other heroes or rather heroines who fought also with the power of speech for their causes.  One was a little old lady, a widow, with no political connection or any measurable wealth who single handedly fought against deep-pocket developers, went to  Congress and in 1979  saved the Art Deco buildings in South Beach from being demolished. They are artistic and have history.  Her name was Barbara Capitman. Then there is Marjory Stoneman Douglas, another little old lady who became an activist at the age of 70+ and fought to save the Florida panther and the Everglades.  These were women of vision and conviction.  Sure Barbara Capitman was called the Crazy Art Deco Lady and I can only imagine what they must have called Marjory Stoneman Douglas.  These figures, heroes remind of the phrase "One person can make a difference".  While my goal remains undeterred I pray others will join me sooner than later to make a difference and save lives. To lessen the suffering of animals and humans.

As Robin Roberts on Good Morning America so eloquently said this morning, "today is a reminder to use our voice, a day of service". So I will.

If you care to join me or learn about homeless pets, visit