Help Me 2 Understand

Felicia Garland

Help Me 2 Understand is a podcast where women give their voices to issues of social justice, political activism, giving back and more. I'm your host, Felicia Garland, and I want this to be a place where honest conversations can happen. We live in an age of political and social divisions, global warming, economic inequality, racial tension, and a breakdown in many of our social structures. And that was just this morning’s news. It's overwhelming and confusing. I know I want to make a difference in the world, even if it’s only a tiny one—but I also feel, and I think you might too, that we all could use a bit more knowledge and understanding if we are to be the change that we seek. It’s my mission with this podcast to provide some of that knowledge as you seek to understand. So, welcome to this journey of discovery. I’m so glad you’re here!
…and WE BREATHE, A Conversation For and About Caregivers and Self-Care with Loren Gelberg-Goff, LCSW, Author and Speaker EP: 15
According to Loren Gelberg-Goff, LCSW, ask any caregiver how they’re doing, and they’ll tell you they are “fine.” But, if you take a moment, she suggests, and really ask them how they’re feeling, you’ll discover they may be stressed, full of guilt, anger or resentment---altogether not fine. Somewhere early along the road to caring for a loved one, she points out, caregivers learn to put their own needs on hold. Whether a necessary or chosen caregiving commitment, caregivers take on an assumption that their loved one must ALWAYS be viewed as the priority, at all times and in all situations. In our conversation Loren and I discuss how she opens their eyes to the reality that, to be able to sustain their ability to provide effective and loving care over any length of time, the exact opposite is true: caregivers must be sure that their own needs are met as well. “I work to reach caregivers where and when they need the most help.” she says. “I want to assure them that their wellbeing is just as profoundly important as that of the people they care for.” “I want to teach them new habits and perspectives that will empower them to treat themselves with love, kindness, generosity and compassion.” T In this episode we discuss: ● How caregivers can create 3 crucial boundaries that assure they take care of themselves first ● How caregivers can release the overwhelming impulse to do things for others simply out of guilt ● Why caregivers need to make clear requests of others without fear of being judged or rejected ● How and why caregivers need to get clear about what they WANT to happen, versus what they THINK they can achieve ● The #1 tool for caregivers to stop communications from becoming explosive confrontations in seconds ● The one crucial sentence that caregivers should use to receive support from others and change their life forever ● Why caregivers need to consistently make themselves a priority, clear in the knowledge that YES, they really do matter ● Why is it so important to just BREATHE And so much more… LISTEN NOW “You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to be the best-cared-for, happiest version of yourself possible,” says Loren. “You really can be relaxed, compassionate, resilient and loving - and embrace each day without stress or regret.” “As a caregiver,” continues Loren, “you just need the tools and practices for creating empowering new habits that lead to a life more like the one you’ve been wishing for.” Connect with Loren: Website LinkedIn Twitter
6d ago
49 mins
THIS IS GRIEF, A Conversation About Love and Loss with author Tanya Detrik EP 14
For author Tanya Detrik it was a sudden heart attack on New Year’s Eve 2018 that took the life of Wade, her partner, lover and soulmate of 26 years.  With Wade’s passing virtually everything in her life changed.  Intense emotions following the death of a spouse or partner are not surprising, still she was struck by the kaleidoscope of feelings and emotions she experienced.  As a gifted and perceptive author and blogger, she turned to what she knows best—writing---and began capturing in a journal her  sometimes-raw observations of loss, hurt and anger.  Those entries, however, also contained notes of humor, introspection and frequent “conversations” with Wade.  Although she never set out to write a book about grief, she realized that others might recognize their own thoughts and feelings in her words and thereby find connection, validation and new hope.  THIS IS GRIEF, When Breathing Hurts, Love Songs Suck, and Good Days Come with Guilt is that book.  It is a compilation of her contemporaneous thoughts, observations and feelings within a setting of beautiful and inspiring art and graphics. In this episode we discuss: Why the grief at the death of a spouse/partner is different than other kinds of griefHow Tanya dealt with and continues to deal with Wade’s passing—the sorrow, the pain and the humor—yes, humorDifferent perspectives on how to handle griefInsight and ideas on how to help friends or family who may be grievingReal-life stories and suggestions for those who have experienced lossHow shifting your perspective on loss can lead to healing and resilience  And so much more. “The death of a spouse or partner brings its own kind of grief,” explains Tanya.  “THIS IS GRIEF is not a book of advice.”  “I’m not a clinician or academic,” she continues. “Rather, I hope my book reflects the very real and raw emotions of those dealing with this life-altering loss.”  As Tanya shared, “It doesn’t get that much easier; it just gets more familiar…. Grief is like a knapsack that I am carrying all the time.” To find out more about Tanya, THIS IS GRIEF and her inspiring perspective on the grieving process, go to:  https://www.tanyadetrik.com/
Oct 20 2021
28 mins
DIFFICULT MOTHER? DIFFICULT DAUGHTER? Or Both? A Conversation with Karen C. L. Anderson EP: 13
Have you ever wished for a better relationship with your “difficult” mom? If you’re a daughter, like me, it’s quite likely that you’ve experienced (or maybe continue to experience) some “tension” - such a polite word - with your mom.  Perhaps your relationship is merely strained; or maybe it’s toxic. Even if you haven’t spoken in years or your mom has passed on you still may carry the weight or scares of a traumatic past.  You may never work it all with your mom, but you can heal yourself.  (And, for the record, it goes both ways. Mothers can be looking to improve their relationships with their difficult daughters.)  Enter my latest guest to HM2U, Karen C.L. Anderson.  She’s a prolific and successful author on the topic of mother/daughter relationships. She’s also a  coach offering her clients the support and self-reflection they seek as both mothers and daughters, to heal themselves and move beyond the trauma.  As Karen puts it, “As a woman, whether you are a mother or a daughter or both….it’s about finding peace within yourself.” In this episode we discuss-- How we can find peace within ourselves to help process past trauma and abuse How societal expectations of women play out in a mother daughter relationshipHow conflict + curiosity = intimacy The keys to understanding your nervous system in a conflict situation, and how we can work with our bodies and not against themLearning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable A new way to define boundariesFinding what we value and how to transform them into boundaries Finding the best ways to communicate boundariesLearning the process of growing up and making hard decisions from a conscious place  And so much more. “In my work,” Karen shares, “I help men and women reveal patterns, heal shame and transform legacies.”   Author of Difficult Mothers, Adult Daughters: A Guide For Separation, Liberation & Inspiration; The Difficult Mother-Daughter Relationship Journal; and Overcoming Creative Anxiety: Journal Prompts & Practices For Disarming Your Inner Critic, Karen incorporates story-telling, journaling, awareness tools, shadow work, and simple energy and somatic practices in her Mother Lode 1:1 mentorship program. Her approach is safe, fun, and effective. To find out more about Karen, her books or her coaching, find her at www.kclanderson.com.  Connect with Karen: karen@kclanderson.com
Jul 28 2021
43 mins
Depression is Like a Cancer of the Soul  A Conversation with Author Martha Rhodes EP: 12
In 2009, Martha E. Rhodes sought what she thought would be the easy way out---36 Xanax and three shots of vodka later---she attempted to take her own life.  “Suicide was the easiest decision I even made,” she told me in our candid conversation about suicide, depression and her struggle to find an alternative to the six doctor-prescribed antidepressants that failed to relieve the symptoms or her treatment-resistant depression. Despite having a seemingly ideal life, including her corner-office career in advertising, it wasn’t enough to overcome the darkness in her soul that was her severe depression. In her book, 3000 Pulses Later: A Memoir of Surviving Depression Without Medication, she describes Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), the FDA-approved treatment that literally saved her life. Ten years later she has become a passionate advocate for patients suffering from the debilitating and dangerous symptoms of drug-resistant depression who seek more information about TMS, and support in obtaining insurance coverage for this potentially life changing therapy.  In this episode we discuss-- Her incredible candor in discussing her attempted suicide and the factors that drove her to itWhy she says, “choosing suicide was the easiest decision I ever had to make”Her earliest memories of mental illness and why she calls depression an illness of the brainWhat it took to succeed in her corner-office career while managing severe depressionTranscranial Magnetic Stimulation, what it is and what it is NOTHer fight to obtain insurance coverage for her TMS therapyThe importance of self care in managing mental illnessWhy she has made patient advocacy for TMS her life’s purpose And so much more. “I hope to create more awareness that depression is a chronic medical illness--especially treatment-resistant depression,” she says. “I want to encourage patients to find the therapy that works for them because there are new alternatives to traditional treatments.”   To find out more about Martha or her book, her journey and her work on behalf of others with treatment-resistant depression, go to: www.3000PulsesLater.com  http://www.ott.emory.edu/about/success/NeuroStar.html To reach her: martharhodestms@gmail.com
May 26 2021
45 mins
What’s Love Got to Do With It?  A Conversation with Arlene Washburn Dating and Relationship Coach EP: 11
What’s love got to do with it, you ask.  According to my latest guest, Arlene Washburn, a heck of a lot.  But, it’s not the kind of love you might think.  It’s not the love you find with another; it’s the love you have for yourself.  As Arlene describes in our conversation, when you fall in love with yourself first, it will be easier to find the romantic love you seek.  Arlene was a highly-sought out executive matchmaker when she realized that many of her clients lacked the first element to finding that perfect mate:  the self confidence and appreciation for themselves that others would find attractive.  She wanted to maximize every opportunity for her client’s true personally and positive traits to shine through. But how to help them do that?  That’s when she struck upon the idea that in order to support  her matchmaking she needed to add a coaching component to her work. And her science-based Get Real, Get Love Coaching System was born.  In this episode we discuss-- The differences between a matchmaker, a dating service and on-line datingHow time-starved professionals can benefit from professional matchmaking servicesWhy self-love is the first step to finding the perfect mateRealistic dating expectations and how to set themThe role mindset plays in dating and how to develop a positive oneWhy you need to get real to get loveHer best dating tipsTaking a Love Cleanse And so much more. “To be truly successful in finding your perfect mate, and more importantly, build a happy relationship, you first need to develop self awareness, and appreciate and love yourself” says Arlene.  “From there,” she continues, “focus on setting realistic expectations.” “Once you know who you are and what you truly want in a mate (not what society tells you should want), my dating advice becomes simple: Keep an open mind and give the relationship time.”  To find out more about Arlene, her matchmaking and coaching go to: www.AVConnexions.com  www.GetRealGetLove.com www.LifePastDivorce.com Arlene on YouTube   To contact her:  arlene@avconnexions.com
Apr 29 2021
26 mins
“Hello God, It’s Me” -- Perspectives on the Infinite Ways We Embrace Religion and Practice our Faith EP 10
The Talking with God Project is a research project into lived religion among followers of the Abrahamic religions––Judaism, Christianity and Islam. With so much distrust of the “other” wouldn’t it be beneficial for us to better understand the nature of the similarities and differences amongst peoples--especially religious and cultural differences. My most recent guest, Méli Solomon, is an inter-religious leader who seeks to understand--and, importantly, share with the rest of us--the range of practices amongst people walking diverse religious paths.    In this episode we discuss--  The infinite ways we “practice” our religion.  How respondents distinguish between prayer and talking with God.  Reflections on the nature and quality of prayer.  How differences in age, socio-economic or education may impact our relationship with God.  The importance of understanding the nature and quality of the religious practice of others.  How Méli brings her work and learnings to the greater community through speaking, webinars and workshops.    And so much more.  “People who are different--or the “other” can seem threatening,” says Méli. “How to reduce that fear, and increase curiosity, knowledge of and connection are the driving forces in my research and community engagement.”  To find out more about Méli, the Talking With God Project, her most interesting discoveries, or her speaking and writing, go to www.TalkingWithGodProject.org.
Apr 14 2021
40 mins
I’M READY FOR MY CLOSE-UP, ARE YOU? -- A Conversation with Photographer, Karianne Munstedt EP 9
Why do so many women cringe at the sight of a camera? It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s for a snapshot at the beach, a family photo or the business headshot. Very few women seem to love how they look in pictures. Why is that? Could your fear of being photographed represent something deeper than just a dislike of your full face, double chin or not so itty-bitty tummy?  And could the consequences of that fear be more significant than just wanting to stand behind your cousins in the family photos?  My latest guest, Karianne Munstedt, an award-winning photographer, inspirational speaker and coach, believes she knows the answer.  And importantly, she shared it with me: P-E-R-F-E-C-T-I-O-N-I-S-M In this most recent episode you’ll hear from a photographer with a fascinating personal story and journey who is on a mission to help women step into their full potential--and in front of a camera!  We also chat about… The importance of releasing negative self-talk and why you may want to start changing your thoughts - now.How letting loose of perfectionism can help you embrace the beauty that is you.What it means to “See Yourself Exist in Photos.”How, with the right mindset and attitude, any woman can photograph with an inner confidence and glow. What a “Brand Photo” is, who needs one, and where you should use it.Karianne’s signature talk, “From Bully to Bestie--How Changing Your Thoughts Changes Everything.” And so much more. “What if your grandchildren never got to see you in photos because you didn’t want to be in front of the camera?” asks Karianne. “Do not let that happen. “Someday,” she says, “it’s going to break your heart.” To find out more about Karianne Munstedt or her photography, speaking or coaching, go to www.kariannemunstedt.com. Also, be sure to check out the beautiful photographs of “real” women and shots from her exhibition--40 Women Over 40 https://kariannemunstedt.com/40-over-40/
Mar 31 2021
37 mins
Fighting Hate One Muslim Woman and One Jewish Woman at a Time EP: 8
Through the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom’s growing number of chapters worldwide, Jewish and Muslim women are meeting together to build strong relationships based on mutual trust and respect with the goal of ending anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiment.  The idea is so simple, yet so profound: better relationships among individuals lead to better inter-group attitudes.  “It is hard to hate a different ethnic, religious or racial group when you have friends who are members of that group,” says Roberta Elliott, President of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.org.  That universal truth lies at the heart of this latest HelpMe2Understand conversation. We also chat about: The surprising event that led to the Sisterhood’s founding.How the simple idea behind the Sisterhood took root and continues to expand worldwide.Why sharing religious practices and beliefs can be so powerful in ending conflict between Muslims and Jews.The importance of women in this work.How the work of the Sisterhood influences family, friends and the general public to fight hate, negative stereotyping and prejudice. Sisterhood resources: Guide to Responding to Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism; Guide to Religious Holidays; and Cultural and Religious Etiquette. Why a focused outreach to Muslims and Jews of color.    And so much more…  According to Roberta, “By building bridges of trust and respect, Sisterhood members are uniting against bigotry and acts of hate one Muslim and one Jewish woman at a time.” She continues, “The Talmud (oral law) asks, ‘“Who is a hero?” and answers “One who makes one’s enemy into a friend.”’ If we all would live by this one ideal, how many world conflicts could be resolved in an instant?  To find out more about the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.org, how to find or start a local chapter, or where to view Stranger/Sister, please visit their website, www.sosspeace.org.
Mar 17 2021
37 mins
Feeding Your Passion to Give Back---a Conversation with Diana Polack, Founder & Chief Change Officer at ArtWare For Good & Mission Driven Success EP 7
Do you want to make a positive impact in the world?  You’ve discovered a need and know exactly whom you want to help.  How do you make that happen? Do you work with an existing organization OR do you establish an organization that feeds your passion? Where can you go for the resources and strategies to get clear on your goals and stay focused on your mission to help those you aim to serve?   Enter Mission Driven Success.  My latest guest, Diana Polack, is the founder and chief change officer at ArtWare for Good, and her latest venture, Mission Driven Success.  At ArtWare she partners with not-for-profit organizations creating art-based fundraisers and donor recognition programs. She’s a connector, facilitator and leader.  Over her 30 years in fundraising she’s learned a thing or two about charitable organizations and their biggest challenges.  With the onset of Covid-19 and the elimination (at least for now) of in-person, hands-on fundraising----her forte, by the way---she has had to pivot and support not-for-profit organizations in different ways.  Diana’s answer:  Mission Driven Success, which offers masterminds for not-for-profit leaders to create change in themselves, their organizations and the world.  In our conversation, Diana shares what she’s learned in her work with women who want to give back to their communities. As it so happens, you can support organizations of all sizes and with different missions in any number of ways. You are only limited by your creativity! We also chat about: What it means to have a passion to give back. How to find a charitable or philanthropic organization that supports your passion.Or, how to start your own not-for-profit organization.The biggest challenges for even the smallest of organizations.It isn’t all about the money--how to give back in different ways.The importance of connecting in support of your mission.The impact of Covid-19 on promotion and fundraising.Masterminding and learning from other not-for-profit leaders.  And so much more… “My passion,” Diana says, “is to gather communities, get creative and do good in the world.”   “This pandemic led me to create Mission Driven to serve those who are serving others.” She continues, “I want to help not-for-profits navigate the changes, re-inspire their board members and employees, and find new and exciting ways to help them engage their donors, so that they can get to work on fulfilling their mission and vision..”  Find out more about Diana, ArtWare for Good or Mission Driven Success, please visit her websites, www.ArtWareforGood.com and www.MissionDrivenSuccess.com.
Mar 3 2021
36 mins
We’re in it for the Long Haul:  Electing Women to Public Office---a Conversation with Sarah Preston, Executive Director, Lillian’s List.org EP 6
Are you a progressive-minded woman from North Carolina considering a run for public office-- from town council to the United States Senate or anywhere in between? Or, do you know someone whom you believe would make a good political leader?  If you answered “Yes” to either of these questions, then let me introduce you to Lillian’s List, a not-for-profit dedicated to electing pro-choice, progressive women to public office. It turns out that as many as 20 states---including North Carolina---have organizations devoted to electing more progressive women to office.  Heck, women make up 51% of the US population, but recent statistics indicate that women hold only about 30% of elected offices nationwide.   If you happen to be a resident of North Carolina----where women make up 54% of the population, but hold only 25% of elective offices---and you want to throw your hat in the ring, you turn to Lillian’s List for guidance, training and support.   I recently spoke to Sarah Preston, Executive Director of Lillian’ List to get the inside scoop on what a woman needs to know if she wants to make jump into the political arena.  We also chat about: The dynamic women who established Lillian’s List and their guiding mission.The biggest fears women have when considering a run for public office.The biggest campaign challenges a female candidate might face. What training, support and encouragement are available to the female candidate.Why Lillian’s List coordinates with similar organizations in other states and why have state-level organizations at all?How to know if you have what it takes.Recruiting-----How to spot the leader next door, and what to do when you do.     And so much more… According to Sarah, “Lillian’s List was established to give women a seat at the table.” “Pay equity, reproductive rights, education -- these are women’s issues, and women need to be represented at all levels of government.” “We know it won’t happen overnight,” she continued.  “As Jan Allen, one of the co-founders of Lillian’s List often said, “‘We’re in it for the long haul’.”  Find out more about Liilian’s List, what you need to know if you are considering a run for office, or how to support Lillian’s List, please visit their website, www.LilliansList.org.
Feb 17 2021
25 mins
COVID-19 and Its Impact on Domestic Violence in New Jersey--a Conversation with Trish Perlmutter, Esq. EP: 5
When you think about it, it should come as no surprise that the prevalence and severity of domestic violence cases in New Jersey have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Has the pandemic made the daily tasks of living, working and raising children, among other things, easier for anyone?  Job loss (and it’s ugly cousin, reduction in household income), homebound parents and children, and forced home-schooling for children are significant stressors that can cause fissures in any family. It’s no wonder NJ has witnessed a significant rise in the number of domestic violence cases, especially among low-income families.  Even before Covid-19, the statistics around domestic violence, both nationally and from NJ, were staggering:  In the United States, more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence. In NJ, one act of domestic violence occurs every 8 minutes and 29 seconds.3Nationally, partner violence accounted for 20% of all violent crimes in 2019. During this same year, in NJ over one-quarter of all criminal complaints were domestic violence cases. (That does not take into account the tens of thousands of civil cases each year.) 4On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive over 19,000 calls.5Sadly, children are involved or present during 28% of all domestic violence offenses. Notably, legal assistance is one of the most requested services by domestic violence victims.  Enter Partners for Women and Justice (pfwj.org), a not-for-profit “law firm” of sorts, located in Northern New Jersey. Staff attorneys, combined with a significant number of private practice lawyers, provide pro-bono legal services to help low-income domestic violence victims navigate the legal system.  Since Covid-19, Partners has experienced a significant uptick in the number of victims reaching out for their services.  In an effort to understand this rise in cases, Partners, with Seton Hall Law School Center for Social Justice, and with the support of Newark, NJ-based law firm, McCarter & English, released a report they authored that examines the possible causes for this increase.s, as well as, They also document the responses of state and social services agencies. The report demonstrates the pandemic has increased the rates of domestic violence in NJ by magnifying and multiplying the obstacles for victims seeking to escape abusive relationships.  Trish Perlmutter, a public-interest lawyer and former law professor, is Policy Counsel for Partners. She participated in producing the report and is one of Partners’ primary spokespersons. Recently, she joined me in conversation to discuss the reports’ findings and recommendations, and their significance for NJ.  We also chat about: The differences between civil vs. criminal complaints in domestic violence cases.Why a victim of violence might prefer to file a non-criminal complaint against their abuser.Protective orders and why they are so important for a victim’s safety. The importance of legal representation in domestic violence cases, and why a victim represented by an attorney is 10 times more likely to obtain a protective order than a victim without an attorney. How the economic impacts of Covid-19 have magnified the dangerous combination of poverty and domestic violence, especially for victims of color. The new ways perpetrators are using power and control tactics to prevent victims from seeking help. The four essential actions outlined in the report that NJ lawmakers and government officials should take to continue to promote safety for victims and their children during the pandemic and beyond.    And so much more…  According to Trish, “The results of this report echo what we were seeing in many of Partners’ cases that victims of domestic violence from marginalized communities are in a vise, enduring job losses, unaffordable housing, and hunger brought on by Covid-19.”  “Finding a path to safety,” she continues, “ has become extremely difficult in light of these challenges combined with constant surveillance by controlling partners and fear of contagion.”  “There is a tendency,” Trish stressed, “to downplay the importance of domestic violence cases in our society; however, a look at the data underscores why we as a society must grapple with domestic violence if we want to reform policing, reduce incarceration, and promote anti-violence policies.” Find out more about the report, Partners for Women and Justice and how to support Partners and their mission, at www.pfwj.org.
Jan 27 2021
36 mins
An Island For So Long - A Journey to Gender Identity - a Conversation with Dayne Bachmann EP: 4
Honestly, after conducting more than 40 interviews over the past two years for this podcast and another, this interview was one of the most challenging for me. In this conversation I speak with Mr. Dayne Bachmann, a licensed clinical social worker and owner of Twin Peaks Counseling located in West Hartford, CT.  Dayne’s is the first episode exploring the issues and challenges faced by those in the LGBTQ community. I plan to do others. For me, the challenge began with something as simple as language.  In the introduction, I referred to Dayne as a transgendED man.  A few minutes into our conversation, he gently corrected me.  “The proper term,” he said, “is transgendER man.”  And so it began. Isn’t this what it”s all about---to begin to understand the world from the point of view of another? Continuing the interview, Dayne clarified additional terms, including, “gender identity,” “gender reassignment,” “non-binary,” etc.  In the heart of this episode, Dayne shared his personal journey to find his own gender identity and the disconnect he experienced growing up feeling as a boy/man trapped in the body of a girl/woman.  These are concepts that can be difficult for straight people to understand, and you’ll hear some of that in this conversation.  We also chat about: What it means to be transgender---the differnce between one’s genetic profile and the sense of who they are truly meant to be. Transitioning----what does it mean?  Is it only one thing? Gender reassignment. Confronting negative stereotypes. How, as a licensed clinical social worker, Dayne helps others discover their own gender identities, and counsels individuals and families through the process. “An Island No Longer”, Dayne’s book describing his personal journey. He hopes it will give hope to those who are struggling with the same issues and challenges he confronted.                     And so much more… According to Dayne, “It is possible one day to feel more male (or female) at any given point in time.”  “Your gender identity is on a continuum,” he adds.”  “It doesn’t have to be black or white.” “There are people who stay in the closet forever because of fear, lack of support or lack of knowledge,” says Dayne.  “I hope through my work with the transgender and LGBTQ communities, and especially through my book, I am able to alleviate some of that fear, provide support and understanding and guide others on their journey to live the life they were meant to live. “ Find out more about Dayne, his upcoming book, “An Island No Longer” and Twin Peaks Counseling at www.twinpeakscounseling.com. Or reach out to him at dbachmann@gmail.com.
Dec 30 2020
26 mins
Speaking Up on Behalf of Vulnerable Children EP: 3
Their stories will break your heart.  Jason’s is all too typical: He was removed from his birth mother right before his 5th birthday. It was determined that Jason was at substantial risk of harm due to inadequate parental supervision and homelessness, as well as his mother’s serious mental health issues and substance abuse.  Jason was placed into a foster home. Unfortunately, Jason exhibited violent tantrums, and he was diagnosed as suffering from mental illness. He often needed to be hospitalized due to his violent outbursts which resulted in the foster parents’ inability to keep Jason in their home. A cycle of being placed in a foster home, and then removed because of disruptive behaviors and threats to other children, was sadly repeated 14 times during the course of his case.  Fortunately for Jason, Evelyn, a CASA volunteer (Court-Appointed Special Advocate for Children), was appointed by the court to advocate for him throughout his difficult journey.  As a CASA, Evelyn was steadfast in advocating for his medical and mental health needs, and the in-home services that enabled Jason to settle into a permanent home.  This story has a happy ending: At the age of 10 Jason was adopted by his foster parents.  Within months the foster parents relayed the good news that Jason was awarded a trophy for the “Most Improved Student” during the school year. Evelyn’s work on Jason’s behalf is typical of a CASA volunteer.  In this episode I speak with Lisa Barsky-Firkser, Ph.d., the executive director of CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties in New Jersey.  Under Lisa’s leadership, CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties has become a model for other CASA and similar organizations around the country. In our conversation, we discuss the foster care system, the CASAs’ role in the system and the ongoing work involved in finding state and private support to continue CASA’s mission. We also chat about: CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties’ mission to be a strong voice for the best interests of vulnerable children who have been removed from their homes for abuse, neglect or abandonment. What it means to advocate for children in the foster care system. Why CASAs are needed to do this work. The difficulties in finding safe, permanent and nurturing homes for children in the system.  Working toward permanent placements for children. What it means to “age out” of the system, the daunting challenges these adolescents face as they navigate on their own, and the efforts of CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties to support their needs. "CASA understands that it is vital for every child to have a voice--and that every child is an individual with unique needs,” says Lisa.” “CASAs are trained and supported to be that voice for vulnerable children,” she continues. “Although public funds for this work are limited, with the generous support of private individuals and organizations, we will continue to provide the resources, programs and mentoring needed to enable the success of the children and youth we serve.” Would you like to help a child like Jason? Find out more about Lisa, CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, and find out how to get involved. Here’s where you can reach Lisa: LFirkser@casamsc.org
Dec 16 2020
44 mins
“ICE QUEEN - A Cautionary Tale for Teens About Cyberbullying and Sexting EP: 2
We’ve all read the tragic stories in the news or heard them on television concerning teen sexting, cyberbullying and cyber-harassment.  Maybe it’s happened to the child of a friend, or God no, to our own child.  It can begin innocently: a girl wants to impress a boy and agrees to text him explicit photos of herself.  The photos get shared with others and perhaps posted to the Internet, and the girl becomes the target of cyberbullying and harassment. Reputations may be ruined and a young life impacted forever.  How can an innocent high school junior get caught up in a sexting scandal?  That’s the story line in Felicia Farber’s latest book, Ice Queen.  It’s her timely, contemporary novel written to introduce teens to the social and legal risks of sexting and cyberbullying, and guide them through the dangers of mixing sex with social media.  Between her practice as a lawyer and employment mediator, Farber has become a recognized expert in the patchwork of laws concerning teen sexting and cyberbullying.  The statistics are startling. According to Farber, in an online survey conducted by researchers at Drexel University, over 80 percent of respondents from age 18 to 82 admitted to sexting in the prior year. In the 18-26 age bracket, almost half have reported having sent nude or seminude photos of themselves to others and two-thirds report having received sexually explicit photos of others.  A cyberbullying research study in 2016 found that 33.8 percent of middle and high school have been cyberbullied in their lifetime. This can include posting mean or hurtful comments, rumors, threats, and hurtful pictures or video, as well as, online impersonations and mean web pages.  With Ice Queen, Farber speaks to teens in a language they understand and through a storyline she hopes will resonate with them.  She wants to help teens (and adults) avoid the serious perils and pitfalls of dating in the digital age.  We also chat about: The real-life experience of a friend that motivated her to research the myriad laws relating to sexting, cyberbullying and cyber harassment and to write her book. Why sexting and cyberbullying have become major issues in the United States, especially among teens. How the very laws meant to protect our children could actually turn them into criminals. The potential liability parents of sext-tors face for the actions of their children. Basic steps parents can take to protect their children. What a parent should be looking for in their child, if they suspect he or she has been a victim...and what a parent can do about it. The importance of teaching our children that it’s alright to say “No.” “Sexting, cyberbullying and other forms of digital harassment are a parent’s worst nightmare,” says Farber. “Beyond teaching teens and young adults about the risks of sexting and cyberbullying, parents and educators need to learn to recognize the signs their children might be involved in these activities,” she continues. “We owe it to our children.”  Find out more about Felicia Farber, the perils of teen sexting and, importantly, Ice Queen  Connect with Felicia
Dec 16 2020
39 mins
Cookies, Building Character and Girls Changing the World EP: 1
I bet many of us look forward to the annual Girl Scout cookie sale.  I know I do. And, I also bet that for many of us, the cookie sale represents what the Girl Scouts is all about.  In this interview Betty Garger, president and CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey will crumble that notion in a hurry!  Girl Scouts and scouting are so much more than cookie sales (although, did you know that over 50% of female entrepreneurs and business owners are Girl Scout alums? You’ll never look at a Thin Mint in the same way...)  Entrepreneurship is just one way Girl Scouts seeks to develop young women of courage, character and confidence. A lot has happened from the establishment of the first girl scout troop over 100 years ago. In this episode, Betty shares how Girl Scouts serve the 1.7 million girls currently involved in scouting. In addition to instilling entrepreneurship, scouting focuses on life skills, leadership, outdoors and, importantly for girls, STEM.  We also chat about: The G.I.R.L. in girl scouting. (Hint: Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-taker and Leader)  Why learning-by-doing is such an important philosophy in developing confidence in young women and girls. How Girl Scouts defines risking-taking and why it believes it is such an important skill for young women and girls to learn. Why programs that are girl-led and girl-centered are so much better for developing girls into leaders than gender-neutral programs. The hard work Girl Scouts is doing to be known for diversity and inclusion. The how (and) why Girls Scouts has taken positions on some very important issues of the day, including Black Lives Matter. The importance of Girl Scouts’ L.E.A.D. Outreach Initiative, and why it matters to girls in underserved communities. "Girl Scouts wants to develop young women of character to become the leaders and builders of tomorrow,” says Betty. “Girls learn best in an environment that is both nurturing and safe, but is also challenging.  Courageous women need to learn when it is appropriate to take risks, and that it is OK to fail,” she adds, ”and that’s what scouting offers.”  Do you know a courageous young woman?  Find out more about Betty, Girl Scouts and Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey at gsnnj.org  Here’s where you can reach Betty:  BGarger@gsnnj.org
Dec 4 2020
42 mins