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The Keystone Bridge with Evan Zislis

vol. 3.3

You Have Three Minutes


DAVID BROOKWELL How to Create a Lasting Family Mission with Maria Del Rey





issions are not what they used to be. There was once a simplicity to the idea that happiness alone was the biggest mission one could hope to accomplish with a family. In truth, our lives have become more complex and our children have unprecedented access to information that you need to help sort out. Keeping everyone actively on the same page has become more challenging! The mission issue gives you insight on creating your own mission statement that can buffer your family from being lonely in the same home. In this issue we enjoy the works of our new contributor Evan Michael Zislis from Carbondale, Colorado. Evan is a marvelous up-and-coming thought leader on life simplification and leads the clutter-free revolution.




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Table of Contents


Creative Fathers

The Artistic Parent



Interview Psychology Partner



Media Matters

Tech Dad

The Joy of Parenting

Life Lessons

Your Life on Music

Writers in Residence

ChildGood Book List

Duke Star Ray Comic Strip





Maria Del Rey

Joshua Greer

George Simms M.D.




MDR has won numerous national and international awards from the entertainment industry, parenting groups, and educational organizations. Her awards include several Parents’ Choice Gold and Silver Honor Awards, the Carnegie Centennial Grant Award and major acclaim as a producer with a nomination for a Latin Grammy Award. MDR was a delegate to the United Nations Global Peace Initiative for Women Leaders in Geneva, Switzerland. She was honored as a top role model in the state of Pennsylvania. Ms. Del Rey has lectured at numerous universities and educational conferences. She has also created several national touring arts and education programs to celebrate diversity. MDR has created media for the family marketplace for over 25 years as a media producer and as the publisher of ChildGood Magazine and ChildGood Media. Married for 25 years, together with her life partner they raised their son to adulthood in a dynamic, creative household.

Josh launched a freelance writing and editing career after ten wonderful years teaching middle and high school English. He now works from home full time and helps homeschool his children, ages 8, 6, and 4. He is passionate about fathers engaging with their families and replacing screen time with daddy time. He counts his own dad among his greatest influences and hopes to help other fathers recognize the important roles they play in the lives of their kids—roles that extend far beyond providing and disciplining. Josh is a feature writer for ChildGood magazine with his regular column for Creative Dads, where he shares the struggles and triumphs of his experience and calls other dads into creative fatherhood. Josh lives in west Michigan with his family.

Dr. George Simms is Professor Emeritus of Family and Community Medicine at Penn State University College of Medicine. He was a family physician for thirty-nine years and Medical Director of Pinnacle Health Hospice for ten years. In addition to his doctorate in medicine from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, he earned a Ph.D. in Human Behavior from the United States International University, where he studied under Viktor Frankl. He also received a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and a fellowship in Medical Ethics from Harvard University. He has a special interest in the moral dimensions of medical decision making and the integration of the biological, psychological and spiritual aspects of aging.



Dr. Chrissi Hart

Dr. Sukhdeep Gill

Maria Barlett




Dr. Chrissi Hart is a licensed psychologist and author who has helped troubled children for 30 years. She has a BA in psychology from the University of Hull, UK, a British Psychological Society Diploma in clinical psychology and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Leicester, UK. She has a private child psychology practice in York, PA, specializing in anxiety and psychosomatic problems and has worked in pediatric settings in Great Britain’s National Health Service for many years. Dr Hart’s professional credits include eight publications in child psychology and lectures at national conferences and workshops. She is also the author of several children’s picture books including The Legend of the Cross and hosts Readings from Under the Grapevine: Inspirational Stories for Children of All Ages, a popular weekly children’s podcast on Ancient Faith Radio.

Dr. Sukhdeep Gill is an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State University. She received her Ph.D. from Penn State, and held the positions of Associate Director of Early Childhood Programs at the Prevention Research Center and Discipline Coordinator of Health and Human Development, University College at Penn State. She is a lifespan developmental psychologist interested in early development, interpersonal relations, mindfulness practices, and community-based action research. Her current areas of research include preventive interventions for families with young children from poverty backgrounds to promote health, social-emotional development, and school readiness. She is a member of the AsiaPacific Regional Network of Early Childhood-UNICEF’s Peacebuilding and ECD initiative. She has authored several publications and appeared on radio and television. Dr. Gill has been the recipient of the James H. Burness Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Children’s Champion Award conferred by the York Area Association for the Education of Young Children.

Maria Barlett received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami Frost Conservatory of Music. She is an accomplished teacher and jazz singer and collaborated with Master Jazz pianist and arranger Hal Schaefer for 10 years. She received her Master of Arts in political science from the University of Florida, with a specialty in International Development Policy and Administration. She served as a consultant to the President of Georgia for 8 years. Since 2009, Maria has been a guardian and private educational consultant through her company Maria Barlett, PA, and is represented by the Pavillion Agency, New York, for special individuals and projects.



Evan Micheal Zislis

A.A. Giles

Sylece Andromeda




Born and raised the son of an Army doctor, I have had the privilege of living in many wonderful places, which meant moving – a lot. It wasn’t always easy. But after a lifetime adapting, I learned to simplify my stuff, stay organized and refresh new spaces – over, and over again. It turns out, these skills have had a profound influence on my ability to adapt, improvise, innovate, and help others succeed. Since 1999, I have lived and worked in the Roaring Fork Valley in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. My career has focused on education, program development, organizational leadership, and serving my community through the health and human service industries of Aspen Valley nonprofits. Every opportunity has been a chance to learn and grow.

A. A. Giles started his career narrating internationally acclaimed children’s records and videos while living in his hometown of Los Angeles. By the time his voice changed, he had worked on twelve international titles that were enjoyed by millions of children. Giles studied film at UCLA and English at Harvard, and has thereafter nurtured an irreverent capacity for analysis that he extends to various storytelling mediums. While being specifically enamored with film, Giles is a prolific writer and an avid fan of human expression – however misguided or insipid. Giles enjoys sharing his views on family media for ChildGood, as recommending genuine stories with heart might improve the hearts of his junior generation. He gets a comforting, warm feeling inside whenever this topic comes up. Giles currently lives in Boston, more or less blissfully, with his two cats Plato and Bartholomew.

Sylece Andromeda is the author of Hardrock Man Whispers from the Cripple Creek District Underground and Speakeasy in The Gold Camp. She’s also a personal historian and enjoys bringing smiles to others as their histories are written and preserved. She was named 2006 Miner’s Poet Laureate by the National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum. Having a creative and inquisitive passion for life, she reads lots of books, makes fine jewelry, enjoys amateur nature photography, and hikes in the mountains. A sometime homeschooler of her two gifted sons, she became knowledgeable in gifted & talented education while actively navigating her children’s time in the public school system. Both sons now away at college, she still hikes the alpine with them when they have time.



Scott Gladfelter

James Schaller C.M.P.

W.S. Mathis



Scott Gladfelter has worked as ChildGood’s lead illustrator for over 14 years. His artwork has been enjoyed internationally on numerous video media projects for children and families including award-winning media projects such as The Adventures of Lindy and Loon, (published in French, Spanish, and English). His new comic strip The Further/ Slower Adventures of Duke StarRay, Galactic Bounty Hunter will debut on Apple Newsstand’s ChildGood Magazine The Journal for Creative Families. His illustration and art work will also be featured in the upcoming Hello Amigos multicultural celebration educational series due in late 2014. Scott is a devoted husband and father of two boys. They live in Central Pennsylvania.

James Schaller is the creator of the new series Your Life On Music for ChildGood. James is a Certified Music Practitioner (CMP), trained to create and play therapeutic music in medical situations. He has produced a series of therapeutic music albums as well as many segments for home DVD series. James has lectured widely in medical care facilities and trained professional and volunteer caregivers how to understand and use the therapeutic qualities of music to augment their patient care. Dubbed “Mr. Art on Time,” he is a trusted leader, and is seasoned in every aspect of production, while serving as contributing editor for ChildGood. Over the years James has produced media with Maria Del Rey on many occasions. Other production credits include several magazine format shows and Shelly Duvall’s Fairy Tale Theater series.

CONTRIBUTOR William Mathis specialized in Naval guided missile, radar and computer systems and microminature electronic diagnosis and repair. Concurrently receiving a degree in science from SUNY, he went to work from E-Systems (Raytheon) working on a number of classified projects for various US government agencies. In 1996 he was selected for the position of Lead Systems Administrator supporting the Space Imaging IKONOS project based out of Thornton, Colorado. IKONOS was the first commercially viable high resolution satellite imaging system (1 meter) brought to market by partners Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin and Mitsubishi. Since 2002, he has managed and operated his own consulting business specializing in needs analysis, network architecture and system integration.


Dive In: Thinking Deeply about Life

by Josh Greer

Buoyancy has always been an issue for me. If I ever experience one of those cruise ship disasters we hear about so frequently, I know I’m headed straight to the bottom. It doesn’t matter what I try. Freestyle, backstroke, treading water—all end with me flailing and sinking. My kids already have my blue eyes and chances are good they’ll pick up my love of hiking, history, and all things J.R.R. Tolkien. Are they also, therefore, doomed to a life of thrashing miserably in the water? One school of thought says I should toss them all in the pool and let them figure it out. As the thinking goes, they’ll conquer any fears and pretty much turn into river otters within minutes. It could just work. It better, actually, because if I have to dive in after them, the situation only gets more complicated. Real life, as it turns out, is a bit like that swimming pool. (Or the ocean—no need to be all that picky with your metaphors.) There’s a deep end and a shallow end, and everyone starts in pretty much the same place. You can choose the depth you want to venture into—same goes for your kids. Oh, and occasionally someone shits in the pool. Unfortunately, many stay near the shallow end all their lives, not questioning their beliefs and choices and motivations. Just like our eye color, we can pass this lack of metacognition to our kids. I’ve done it. “Why do I have to have school today, Daddy?” “You just do.” Facepalm. What an idiot. To leave the ankle-deep end, to move from shallow ideas and actions toward contemplating your decisions and purpose, you begin by thinking about your thoughts. Those parents who desire to train their children to safely navigate the depths, where chances are taken and creativity flourishes, where both opportunity and failure lurk, must model this thinking deeply about life. Dads can get actively involved with this training. Albert Einstein once wrote, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Entropy being what it is, most everyone’s thinking, our kids included, tends toward the selfish and cynical without a concerted effort to move the other way. If you desire a better life, a better future, even Einstein’s better world, it begins with a thought. What do we want kids to think deeply about? There is no shortage of worthy ideals, no lack of problems that today’s children will be faced with when they become tomorrow’s leaders. But brevity, as one unusually deep thinker once wrote, is the soul of wit. So let’s consider five ways of thinking that affect most of what we do (or don’t do). HOW DO YOU TREAT OTHERS: CRUELTY VS. THOUGHTFULNESS Children, and by extension all of us, exhibit stunning selfishness early on. It’s a bit of a survival thing at first: I want to be


Dive In: Thinking Deeply about Life

by Josh Greer

fed, and I want it now. But no one grows out of the selfish stage accidentally. In my theological tradition, humans are often described as bent. Other traditions make similar claims: that we think and act with only ourselves in mind, often hurting others. Training your child to be thoughtful and considerate of others requires both constant modeling and timely correction. “Do as I say, not as I do” works exactly nowhere. Seriously. It was stupid when your dad said it, and it’s still stupid today if you think or act like no one’s watching. If we would see our children exchange selfishness for altruism, we must begin by modeling it. Ignoring cruelty and selfishness in your child fails as well. Silence is tacit approval—even kids who aren’t prone to testing all the boundaries all the time understand that. If a child is unkind to others, his behavior should be addressed, not in a punitive manner, but as a matter of restoration. “What did you do that was unkind? What can you do to be kind instead?” Over the course of years (Yes, years) cruelty can be replaced with kindness, allowing children to experience more depth in their interactions with others. WHY DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE: PASSIVE ACCEPTANCE VS. CRITICAL THINKING Please understand: this is not some appeal to naturalism or humanism, philosophies that miss much that is good and beautiful in the world by ignoring the spiritual and recognizing only what can be understood empirically. Critical thinking need not devolve into agnosticism, for questioning your beliefs can just as easily buttress them. But a wide chasm exists between that which is worked out through critical thought and questioning, and that which is accepted without question. Do you believe everything you see on the news? Every promise your state representative makes during election season? Every statistic you read online? Teach your children the value of questioning and healthy skepticism as well. I sometimes listen to the radio when my kids are in the car, and we’ve begun picking apart the advertisements we hear—questioning their claims and discovering their motives. Not only does it make the commercial breaks more enjoyable, but my children also learn to think critically. Eventually, they can learn to judge other’s claims carefully, avoiding some poor decisions. WHY DO YOU LEARN: EXTRINSIC VS. INTRINSIC MOTIVATION Chances are, if you’ve added a new skill recently—mastered a new artistic approach, learned new software, attended a course—then you fully appreciate the value of learning for learning’s sake. But many children stumble into extrinsic motivation by default. The carrots of grades, rewards, and attention too easily distract from the true goal and value of learning. Again, modeling saves the day. Let your kids see you reading, trying new things, or watching webinars. Enthusiastically explain what you’re learning. Formal education has a purpose, but it can often feel like jumping through hoops—mastering a skill simply to get to the next level or pass a test. Your children need to see real, useful learning happening every day.


Dive In: Thinking Deeply about Life

by Josh Greer

I installed a new bathroom faucet recently. Typically, my ventures into plumbing end up sounding like a scene from Pulp Fiction, but I kept this one G-rated and walked my kids through the process of installing and testing the shutoffs, supply lines, and other components. The education was practical, hands on, and fun. They learned, not because someone made them, but because they wanted to learn. That’s how we survive and thrive in the adult world, isn’t it? A stagnate skill set guarantees you nothing these days, while an ever-growing knowledge base keeps you abreast of new opportunities. Even the best schools can’t teach this; it’s gotta come from you. HOW DO YOU HANDLE DISAPPOINTMENT? BROODING VS. ELASTICITY Most kids actually start off pretty well here. They bounce when they fall, their moods can improve on a dime, and their inexperience predisposes them to fearlessness. But a decade or so of watching those they love most suffer bouts of sadness and feelings of worthlessness whenever failure strikes may leave them jaded. They learn to fear failure and become despondent when the inevitable disappointment strikes. Like eagles in a Tolkien book, modeling comes to the rescue again (and again). We WILL fail. So will they. Absolutely nothing is gained by sugar-coating reality or shielding them from failure. Just as children need to hear mommy and daddy make up after they’ve viewed a disagreement, they need to hear us express confidence and flexibility when life doesn’t go our way. Or as an old country band once put it: “We all fall down—it’s the gettin’ back up that really counts.” Be careful, though, of risking insincerity. Even the most optimistic and resilient among us experience disappointment, and a little grieving is completely appropriate. Then let them hear you transition from despondency to hope—showing that closed doors are not the end. HOW DO YOU APPROACH NEW SITUATIONS: FEAR VS. COURAGE For most of us, failure and the accompanying disappointment have led to new opportunities, even if they were, as Thomas Edison wrote, “Dressed in overalls and looking like work.” Our children develop their thoughts about change, risk, and new situations by watching us. Fear leads to inaction which leads to stagnation. No one wants this for their child. Courage brings about action which creates new opportunities. That sounds more like it. I’m petrified of heights. Seriously—even standing near the window and looking down from inside a tall building makes me nervous. Now imagine if I verbalize this fear every time I climb a set of stairs or peer over the edge of a canyon with my kids. No one wins. My fear of heights won’t disappear anytime soon, but I can still face it with courage so my children don’t learn to shy away from the new and unknown. Given time, a bit of boldness and assurance on my part will help them develop the same. Verbalize your reactions to new situations and old fears. Let your kids hear you roar, and they’ll grow to be lions. Fatherhood means far more than passing on a set of genes. It’s also more than transmitting a set of beliefs by rote. For our children to treat others well, think critically, value learning for learning’s sake, bounce back from failure, and approach the future confidently, we must teach them not what to think, but how to think. Children can think deeply about the challenges of life. We needn’t fear that. Deeper water awaits.

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Family Mission Weekend


Maria Del Rey



Family Mission Weekend Imagine for a moment that you can speak to your future self. The version of you twenty years from now has reached across the decades to thank you for raising children you can be proud of. They have become young adults who are motivated and engaged in meaningful careers, and most importantly, they are good people. Your future self will respect your actions today and cheer you toward creating the skill set you need to reach that future goal. No small task, right? Most parents feel concerned about how their children will turn out in twenty years. You can parent well if you allow yourself to learn new things and cultivate the types of skills that can sail through chaos and drama. There is a parenting fad that celebrates “good enough” parenting. It is a needed backlash to the fear-mongering intensity of overachieving parents, tormenting their children with ridiculous stress. We get it and agree. However, keep in mind that it’s all about the right attitude. If you tell your mind that a “C” level is your best effort, you are saying to yourself, “this is good enough.” After a while, on your bad days, you will utterly fail your child in the long run. An “F” is never acceptable for parents, certainly not as a way of life. You can cultivate a high level of expectation with the right tools: self reflection and discipline. With a good mission and plan, you will develop ample time and skill to manage the core non-negotiable responsibilities of parenting. So you aim for “A,” and on most days you’re a “B” and on bad days it’s a “C.” That is a better version of “good enough” parenting. No one is perfect, but your intent can have a translucent shiny perfection woven into it. With a unified family mission, you set a high, yet attainable, bar within your family unit. Give yourself full permission to set these wonderful goals, as they will inform the excellent people you will all become. We want to get you thinking in a holistic manner. This is sacred time for quiet processing and respect. You will begin to reshape your trajectory as a unified family unit, showing your child that you are authentic, sane, and capable to lead. When your family knows you have a competent plan, they breathe a sigh of relief, and goodness enters into the family mission. A good mission will ignite the hearts and minds of your children. The methods you will learn today will work with older children, even with young adults when all are agreed.

by Maria

Del Rey

Regardless of the age of your child, an authentic positive intention to reach out and create a Family Mission is a true gift of time.

SHARPEN THE BLADE OF ALTRUISM Common barriers to creating a family mission are sarcasm and irony. Our western societies just love a good sarcastic joke. Even the most irreverent jokesters need that big moment of truth with their families to define and claim what is actually sacred, untarnished, and real. Sarcasm prevents us from reaching pay dirt: the foundation where the heart of your family lives. Do not lose your ability to be sincere and earnest. Author Jessica Gross writes, “I hate sarcasm. I’m also terrible at detecting it, and when I fall prey, I feel like a fool. Because inviting people to feel like fools is its lifeblood. Think about it: Sarcasm promotes the speaker at the expense of others. It functions by creating distance, undermining connections, and pushing people away. And, of course, it’s often mean. It involves the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say, especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny. Its etymology traces back to the Greek word ‘sarkazein,’ which means ‘to tear flesh.’” There’s the rub: many people are not fully committed to risking the courage and vulnerability needed to stand up for something worthwhile. After a few decades of endless sarcasm, your veins will pump with so much cynical concrete that you will be unable to get revved up to do meaningful, fresh work. More importantly, your habit of sarcastic joking creates a barrier around you. This barrier directly affects your children and confuses healthy attachment. Your kids may have no clue who you really are behind the sarcasm and mean-spirited dialogue. Without healthy attachment that lives in real-time truth, that barrier of irony feels like a Sumo costume where no one can hug the real you because so much hot air surrounds you. If your family does not stand for something, your child will see you as merely a walking ATM or an annoying console game ”boss” they have to take down to get to the next level. Sarcasm begets shallow perception. You never have to risk your true self. In between ATM withdrawals you are considered non-essential personnel.

CHILDGOOD OPINION Let’s explore the various ignition keys and foundational elements you need to create a family mission.

MATURATION We can not expect to foster and maintain future success with yesterday’s tool kit. The antiquated fantasy that only your art matters has stunted the growth of many families. It is important to find truth in the mire of ignorance that surrounds the creative arts and sciences. We balance two very strong, weighty forces as parents and as professional creatives; each element can be a full plate of important responsibility and challenge. Many believe that creatives lack maturity because they are absorbed by their own worlds, unable to effectively parent or run successful businesses. Is it true? Is the creative class actually inferior and unable to be mature? Can creatives provide for their families as well as traditionalists? We believe you can, but many films, books, and press endeavor to relay the idea that you can’t. As creatives we can allow ourselves to mature in our career’s deep rich work. We can embrace the acquisition and mastery of healthy parenting skills. Never let an antiquated system allow you to think that the job of parenting belongs to anyone but you. Regardless of the millions of products you may sell, or huge audiences cheering for you, nothing is more important than the little humans entrusted in your care.

TOO COOL TO CARE Is it actually pretentious to say you will affect people with your family mission? Did Martin Luther King think that? Did Gandhi or Einstein think small? No, they did not. Great men and women have a vision extending from the depths of their souls out into the world through action and sacrifice. This larger vision positively affects generations of people. Why? Because a passionate decision was made to see their lives dedicated to the good of humanity. In media we enjoy seeing the simple anti-hero who by his naive actions makes us feel better about being a simpleton or arm-chair cynic. A cynic basks in the cool glory of being so much less than he can be and crucifying those around him who try to do good things. You have to eschew the façade that you are too cool to care. You must risk and act courageously to inspire a mission worth the effort to achieve.

MISSION WEEKEND FOR CREATIVES Take a few days to open the petals of the family mission flower in a relaxed and trusting atmosphere with a special mission weekend. The weekend can be held at home if you

turn off all electronic devices for the sessions. Or if home is too chaotic, rent a cabin to get away and focus on your mission weekend. Either way, it needs to be special, not business as usual. Create a relaxed environment for each stage of the process without cyber interruptions. Make it an argument- and stress-free zone. Don’t schedule it on huge deadline weeks. You will want to be well rested to concentrate on the work at hand. In agile management there is a scrum master; for creative mission weekend there is the mission master—the person who gets the supplies and writes and leads the weekend, inspiring the family to collaborate in an enjoyable atmosphere.

PART 1- THE TALKING STICK – 3-HOUR SESSION IN TWO RELAXING PARTS - FRIDAY LATE AFTERNOON Take a hike together to clear out the energy of the week. Along the way, find an interesting item to create a ‘talking stick’. This can be a unique piece of wood if you’re in the woods or a soup spoon you find on a city walk. Decorate it together to create the first item for your weekly meetings. Create something larger that is safe and can fit into the hands of toddlers with ease and safety. If the children are older, a finer version can be created as the first unified family work of art. Each person contributes something to the beauty of the stick to create a family heirloom that can be used for years to come. Honor the spirit of self discovery. Fine artists need to add their expertise but not overpower the delight of the child.

PART 2- BRAIN DUMP – 1-HOUR FOCUSED SESSION Friday after dinner Sit comfortably in a circle where everyone can mastermind in full view of two white erase boards. The Mission Master writes the statements on the board: no editing or judgments. Each person states the key things they want to do this year. Think results both in schoolwork and personal fun. Maybe someone will learn to order food in French or write the outline to a children’s book or learn to ride a bike without training wheels. All should be tangible, measurable results. You will get many ideas. There are no right or wrong answers. Make sure the session is sarcasm free; do not let anyone have a bad attitude. The main ingredients here are goodness, unity, and results-oriented ideas. Use color-coded dry erase markers for each person in the family. So when an idea is up, everyone can see whose idea it is and respect that person’s arc of ideas.

PART 3- MEANING TO MATTER – 2-HOUR RELAXED SESSION Saturday morning Gather the family to watch It’s a Wonderful Life, in which George Bailey’s guardian angel shows him how the character of one person can affect others in profound ways.

CHILDGOOD OPINION Follow the breakfast film with a walk and talk. Each person answers the following questions to learn the attitudes your family holds. How did this film make you feel? What do you appreciate? It is always fun to hear the opinions of people you are close to. Focusing on a film will deflect the real motive of opening dialogue about big-picture thinking and asking whether we actually make a difference.

PART 4 - THE RAW COLLAGE/VISION BOARD Saturday Afternoon after Lunch Purchase one large poster board for each member in your family. Find recycled or used magazines, and scavenge for interesting images that fit the main things you want to accomplish this year. Fine artists can also add swirls and texture to the magazine images that will become the larger family collage. Young children will need extra help to find images and paste them to their board. This is a quiet and serene time where pictures can be shared. Each person creates a beautiful tile of intentions for the year. Once these collages are complete, they will be unified as one larger family piece. Get a large poster frame to insert all the finals. Leave a two-inch margin wherever you are artistically inclined to write the family mission statement for the year.

PART 5 - THE POWER MANTRA ART SHOW Saturday Evening Quotable Quote: Turn the vision elements into a clever quote that brings in all the collages and intent words from the dry erase yearly ideas. Keep the final best ideas. Each person keeps the top three things they want to do that year. A phrase will emerge that will embody what is important to each person. Mantra Word: Create an acronym to bring the ideal family mission statement into one secret power word code. Create a song or poem version of the mission. This part is super fun and becomes a powerful tool for motivation.

PART 6 - THE SPREADSHEET MAVEN Sunday Morning The mission master opens the computer, laptop, or mobile device. Each person shares what their year and threemonth goals are. For example your child may say “Finish 5th grade on the honor role and in three months learn to order a meal in Spanish, sew a pillow case, and collect flower blooms and press them for grandma.” Those are quantifiable goals. As the mission master you ask the

team if anyone has any ideas for this person’s mission, then add new ideas that resonate with the individual. The next person takes the talking stick and explains their goals. Each person is anchored in the larger family goal. Once each week following the mission weekend, the family meets to talk through the progress, creating group accountability.

SUMMARY Why do you need a family mission? Because your future self will thank you for having the guts to change the course of your family’s history. For creatives, many issues prevent us from understanding who we are. Anyone can make up a trite mission, but it takes guts to dive deep and get an accurate picture of the real needs of your family. Creatives with dynamic lives can better understand how addictions cloud your judgment when you are blind to reality. Caring is the coolest and most satisfying thing anyone can do for their family. Our family’s maturation process begins with us leading the way. How do you expect your children to take you seriously if you behave like a child? Your next step is to get the weekend in the calendar, and then make sure everyone is packed and ready to go with ample time and little worry. Buy all the supplies in advance. Get everyone to agree that this will be a happy drama-free zone.

by Maria

Del Rey


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You Have Three Minutes


DAVID BROOKWELL a groundbreaking show for a lot of people—just like The Jeffersons and Mary Tyler Moore. I loved watching Get Smart, and Mel Brooks is by far one of my biggest influences. My parents were big fans of Mel Brooks as well. My mother was a diehard Frank Sinatra fan, so I was also indoctrinated with the Rat Pack and Count Basie big band music.” So a future award-winning producer, a giant in family media, fell in love with telling stories. But the path to a career in film production wasn’t a straight one. Going to school in suburban Chicago, Brookwell soon encountered film from the other side of the screen. “I was in middle school when they got some really high-end video equipment: cameras, a video switcher, the whole nine yards. I didn’t become the AV dude, but I remember playing around with the equipment and having this fascination with it.”


ou have three minutes.” That’s how producer David Brookwell, best known for Soul Surfer and That’s so Raven, got his start. “I gotta tell you—my family was a tough crowd. I was the youngest one and I was always like, ‘What about me? I have a story.’ I would start telling a story and my dad would put three fingers up and say, ‘You have three minutes.’ I would stumble along, trying to tell it, but there it was: I was being trained to pitch. You’ve got three minutes to give me the story. If you can’t give me the whole story in three minutes you’re going to lose me. They thought it was very funny. I thought it was a little cruel at the time.”

Not that Brookwell wasn’t up for the task. He had plenty of examples to emulate growing up in a home that appreciated good entertainment. “There was always a love for laughter in our house. We loved entertainment. In early childhood, Disney was a huge influence—at a very young age I remember Mary Poppins. But as I grew older there were a lot of shows that were accessible for adults and worked on two levels, like Hogan’s Heroes and F Troop and Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch. They were truly family comedies.” The family’s choices continued to evolve, shaping Brookwell’s views on entertainment. All in the Family was

“When I got into college I became a broadcasting major and took some film classes. The only A I got was in filmmaking 101—that might tell you something. We had Super 8 cameras, and we edited and spliced the film ourselves. We experimented with putting different music with the scenes we shot. It was very rudimentary. But the basis of that was this deep-seated urge to be able to tell stories and entertain people.” The very first story he turned into a movie sparks instant recollection all these years later. “I made a film about my dog. The point was to display the redundancy and the sheer joy and bliss that my dog experienced day in and day out. He slept and then he played with a ball. He sat in front of the TV and then he played with the ball again. I got the idea from just throwing a tennis ball up against the wall. He would run and catch it. It was the same action: bounce it off the floor, bounce it off the wall, and he’d catch it. Bounce it off the floor, bounce it off the wall, and he’d catch it. So I decided to film it. Then I cut it. I had a music track—a Pink Floyd song called “Seamus the Dog”. I remember projecting it for my family and friends. That was the first time sitting and watching people watch my work.” However, “A Film about my Dog” didn’t lead directly to becoming co-founder of a successful production company. Like most who aim high in creative fields, Brookwell had a lot of work ahead of him.

DAVID BROOKWELL “I remember being very anxious when I first got into the business. I wanted to rise to the top and start producing my own shows. It was probably a good thing that I didn’t get that chance. When I started working in the business, I really rolled my sleeves up and dug into it. I learned everything along the way, and it’s prepared me to be a better producer. I’ve done every job on the set, working through editorial, on set, and everything.” That hard work created more opportunities, and Brookwell did eventually start producing his own shows. In 1997, he teamed up with Sean McNamara to co-found Brookwell McNamara Entertainment. Together, they’ve produced hit television series like Even Stevens and That’s So Raven, as well as popular movies including Raise Your Voice and Soul Surfer, both of which partner McNamara directed. But from filming his dog to producing popular family movies, his goals have remained the same. “To make good stuff and enjoy doing it. It’s not something I just woke up this morning and thought of—it’s been consistent for many years. When we do find something we like, it takes a lot of passion to make it happen. Getting a film made or getting a TV show on the air is like pushing a huge boulder up a hill. With TV we learned a long time ago that whatever idea you walk in the door with, it is going to morph into something entirely different. That’s just the nature of the business. We can go back to That’s so Raven. Raven was actually the sidekick in the pilot. It was a Laverne and Shirley buddy comedy. When we tested it, we realized every time Raven was in front of the camera, interest would spike, so it became Raven’s show through a process of molding the show into a series.” “My goals have been the same for a long time: finding really good material—stories that make us laugh, that make us go, ‘yeah, yeah, I love that idea!’ Because it might take years to get the idea launched. Soul Surfer took us six or seven years before we actually got into production. It’s just really wild—it’s coming up on five years from the initial release and still chugging away.” This particular story started on a quiet morning in 2003, when up-and-coming amateur surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her arm to a shark attack while surfing near her


Kauai, Hawaii home. Her willpower, faith, and courage to return to the waves led her to write the New York Times bestselling book Soul Surfer, a story that resonated with surfers and nonsurfers alike. Brookwell, an avid surfer, was impressed by Hamilton even before he was approached to produce the movie adaptation. “When Bethany’s manager Dutch Hofstetter got to us early on in the process and gave us the book, I had already heard about the story. Everybody had heard about the little girl in Hawaii who lost her arm to a shark attack and survived. She was on The Today Show with Matt Lauer and he said, ‘Do you think you’ll ever surf again?’ and she says, ‘Do I think? I know.’” Her words and actions inspired many, and Brookwell knew the young surfer’s story could inspire more. “Bethany is such an amazing person. I remember the first time I surfed with her. We were down in Huntington Beach in California at the pier. The surf was really thumping, breaking big lefts off the pier. I was paddling out and watching her duck dive under these big waves. I was so mesmerized. I wasn’t paying attention and would let the whitewash hit me straight in the face! She’s getting underneath these huge waves and coming out the other side and smiling! I remember looking up and seeing a line of people on the pier, shoulder to shoulder, and every third person was pointing at her. She dropped into this really steep wave and it just blew me away. And all these guys in the lineup were just looking going, ‘Wow! Dude, she’s just got one arm!’” But this story was much bigger than surfing, and Brookwell understood that even people who’d caught a wave could connect with Hamilton’s resilience. “She’s just adapted. It’s really kind of amazing that her passion for the sport led her to adapt and excel. It blew me away. Then we started digging into the story and realized this isn’t so much about surfing as it is about a girl’s faith and passion for what she loves to do. That’s what made it so relatable for people. Anything you get passionate about and can’t imagine not doing—it’s who you are. The story was really about being knocked

“I gotta tell you—my family was a tough crowd. I was the youngest one and I was always like, “What about me? I have a story.” I would start telling a story and my dad would put three fingers up and say, ‘You have three minutes.’ I would stumble along, trying to tell it, but there it was: I was being trained to pitch. You’ve got three minutes to give me the story. If you can’t give me the whole story in three minutes you’re going to lose me. “


(above) David directing “Beyond The Break” with co-producer Brian Keaulana (center) with his family at the premier of “Soul Surfer”.

(above) David Brookwell with Vincent Gallot in Versailles, France on the set of his latest film “The Moon and the Sun”

DAVID BROOKWELL down and getting back up and dusting off and saying ‘I’m not going to let this change my life.’ That’s the message that connected with so many people.” Brookwell looks forward to making the next movie with the same sort of goodwill and impact. He sees how family media has evolved but relishes the challenge. “Family media is changing in a big way because of ondemand and gaming. Kids are glued to their cell phones and their devices. The attention span has gotten much shorter. So it’s a real challenge, but I think there is a healthy need for good content.” At the same time, he stresses the need for moderation as parents navigate the media environment with their kids. “I would engage your kids beyond the media. Don’t leave them alone with an iPad all day. The tablet and the phone have become the boob tube for today’s kids. There are all sorts of studies about the effects on kids. Personally, I think handheld devices can really be distracting to social interaction. So put the device down. Take a break. Go outside and throw a ball around. Go to the beach.” He speaks from experience. The father of two understands how media can overwhelm families and he encourages balance. “I have a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old and to get them to look in your eyes once in a while…it’s like, ‘Take your headphones off and talk to me.’


their days on the beach getting physically fit and learning about ocean safety and having fun and getting away from those devices. I think that’s important to round out your existence. Socialization is important. My kids’ answer to socialization is Instagram or Snapchat, and we try to make sure that they don’t get sucked into the vortex.” Still, his love of family comedy has rubbed off on his kids. “You ask my 14-year-old daughter, ‘What’s your favorite movie of all time?’ and she’ll tell you Young Frankenstein. We love watching that movie over and over. She can recite every line just like other kids can recite every line from a Harry Potter movie. She can do that too, but she knows Young Frankenstein backwards and forwards!” David Brookwell continues to share great stories with audiences worldwide. He knows when his films have connected with viewers, as he’s been studying their responses ever since that first movie about his dog. “To this day I love going to the theater and seeing our films projected—going to the front of the theater and watching people’s faces. Are they crying at the right moment? Are they laughing at the right moment? Are they going to get up and applaud at the end? That’s really what we feed off of. Were we able to make a connection with the audience and get that desired emotion?” Fortunately, he gets a bit more than three minutes to tell his stories these days.

Interview by Joshua Greer

‘Did you say something, Dad?’ “We were on a family trip driving past Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite and I said, ‘Look at that!’ I turned around and my kids are looking at their iPhones. ‘Okay, we’re stopping the car; give me your phones. I need you to look out the window and appreciate this!’ So as a parent that’s my personal experience.” “We live in a beautiful, idyllic place in southern California. And I mandated early on that the kids get involved as Junior Lifeguards. So in the summers they spend half

David Brookwell and Film Director Sean McNamara

“ Family media is changing in a big way because of on-demand and gaming.

Kids are glued to their cell phones and their devices. The attention span has gotten much shorter. So it’s a real challenge, but I think there is a healthy need for good content. “



What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

~Henry David Thoreau

by Dr. Chrissi Hart



by Dr. Chrissi Hart

Q: What are the benefits of children setting meaningful goals? A: Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up, and it is a question that elicits their dreams for the future. As parents we want our children to be happy, but do we consider our children setting deep and meaningful goals? Happiness is about the present, about enjoying the present moment, while meaning is about the future—about purpose, efficacy, and self-worth. The mind has a propensity for going in the direction of whatever goal it has set. The goal may be short or long term. A short-term goal may be downloading and using a meditation app, joining a baseball team, or learning to play a musical instrument. A long-term goal may be dreaming of becoming an inventor, a singer, or famous author or illustrator. If you do not have goals, your life is like a rudderless ship, with no direction or purpose. Thus, having goals gives purpose and meaning to your life. The journey, however, is also important. Researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham advise parents how to set SMART goals.

Goal setting involves setting SMART goals:

1. Specific (what you want to achieve)

2. Measurable (how you will know if you met your goal)

3. Attainable (or achievable)

4. Relevant (important or inspiring to you)

5. Time-bound (when do you want to achieve the goal?)

Five elements that can improve goal setting:

1. Clarity (set clear goals).

2. Challenge (are challenging but realistic).

3. Commitment (believe in your goal).

4. Feedback (evaluate your progress).

5. Task complexity (break complex goals down into smaller goals).

The benefits of goal setting for children include increasing purpose, focus, and motivation to help secure a great future. Children who have goals or dreams are more successful than those with no goals. This may be because goals provide structure, encourage persistence, and help to actualize potential. Our task as parents is to teach and model to our children important life skills to prepare them for adulthood. These life skills include leading a healthy lifestyle, staying motivated, displaying emotional intelligence, learning how to cope with stress, and managing money and finances. Use behavior charts to monitor goals with young children and increase motivation and self-efficacy. However, the secret to meaningful goal setting is to enjoy the journey and the process. Don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers along the way!

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. ~Ernest Hemingway



Media Matters


Family Media We Recommend by A. A. Giles

It’s A Wonderful Life It’s A Wonderful Life is a widely regarded film classic by director Frank Capra. It still translates today with endearing pathos, familial sweetness, and genuine warmth. Despite initially debuting in 1946 to lukewarm reviews and an underwhelming commercial performance, the film has survived and thrived as an American staple of family unity, appreciation, and holiday spirit. Many families have even added it to their list of annual family films, especially during the holidays, because it is so uniquely life affirming and so carefully structured. The signature human quality of Capra’s work is never more present than in this film for which he is best remembered. It’s A Wonderful Life wears its heart on its sleeve with themes so wholesome and uncynical that it becomes apparent why people still watch it more than half a century later.

A 9/10 Family Heart-Warming Classic Feature Film

In the opening scene, heavenly constellations are twinkling and communicating. They talk USA about a man on earth who apparently requires guidance. A neophyte angel, still in the process of earning his wings, is dispatched to take over the case of George Bailey, who Award-winning wishes, in a moment of weakness, that he had never been born. We learn of George’s life up until that tipping point, including the various complications, frustrations, and characters Director that led to this moment of despair. As a youth, George jumped into a lake to save his FRANK CAPRA brother from drowning. This act brought partial deafness to George, a disability that kept him out of the army at the advent of World War II. He had taken over the management of the building and loan association, and was confronting a local Scrooge who had jockeyed him into a position of financial discomfort where George was being significantly taken advantage of. All these troubles come to a climax during Christmas. While George’s young family awaits his presence, he makes his fateful wish, and the angel who was assigned to watch over him grants that wish. In the fantastical events that follow, George realizes how much his apparently directionless existence means to others and he retracts his wish. George claims a new focus as he realizes the true impact of his existence, through his family, friends, and loved ones. Despite the apparent adversity that has been stacked against him, he finds his true sense of purpose in his family and relationships. The film does not lack in corniness. Yet, corny as it may be, it is an important and uniquely joyful statement of positive family values that reminds every one of us that we make contributions to the people around us, contributions we might not even realize. Capra’s direction of the individual characterizations is distinctively his, and the performances are about as charming and wonderfully engaging as one could expect. James Stewart and Donna Reed, down to the smallest morsel of screen time, are magnificent. At his peak, none of Capra’s peers could top him at what he did: making sweet, genuine statements about life and joy.


Protecting Your Family from Computer Malware, Viruses and Other Bugs W.S. Mathis


Protecting Your Family from Computer Malware, Viruses and Other Bugs He giggled and, to be honest, it made me a little uncomfortable. Back in the day when being a geek or a nerd was not such a good thing, he was the nerdiest person I knew. Unfamiliar with the sun, he spent all his free time indoors on his beloved, uber-customized Mac. I would run into him occasionally at the rather advanced data processing and analysis facility where we both worked. So he was giggling and at the same time gesticulating towards me, beckoning me closer. As I approached he whispered in a conspiratorial voice that he had finally done it. “You’ve done what?” I asked suspiciously. “A virus.” He replied. “I finally wrote my first virus.” He was obviously immensely pleased with himself. “Have you released it?” I asked in alarm. “No, no, no ... I just wanted to see if I could do it.” Sadly, I would not be willing to guess that he never did. Since computer security constitutes a large part of my day job, I am asked on a regular basis why people write computer viruses. Well, the aforementioned true story used to be the answer. It was done as a demonstration of skill by the disaffected and ultravioletly ignorant. Simple one-upmanship crafted into an arrogant display of knowledge. The early viruses were usually prankish and, although annoying, they were typically non-destructive. Their great harm lay not in the payload but in the message conveyed by their mere existence. No programmable data system exists that is loyal. They are all capable of having their programming re-programmed. But today the intent of the individuals crafting these ugly little pieces of code has become much easier to understand, and much darker.

Malware: The Essentials

computer virus is designed to replicate itself. Specifically, it makes copies of itself throughout the system that it has infected, including any shared media with other systems, i.e. flash drives and so on. These duplicate copies can number into the thousands per system and cause billions of dollars in damage per year. Traditionally, they spread via email attachments but can also be embedded in application macros such as MS Word or Excel. Also they can be picked up by inserting an infected flash drive, or any infected media for that matter, into your system. The thing to remember about a computer virus is that it can not exist in a vacuum. In order to function it must attach itself to some other computer program or program component. Viruses are therefore parasitic in nature.

Worms Computer worms are standalone programs. They do not require another program to attach to in order to replicate, spread, and infect. Often payload free, they are network aware and so use existing networks to spread themselves to other computers in order to install back doors to leverage these systems for other uses. Viruses hurt computers, while worms hurt and compromise computer networks. A computer that has been attacked by a worm is called a zombie and an entire compromised network is known as a botnet.

Trojan Horse Derived from the story of the wooden horse used to trick the defenders of Troy, a Trojan is a self-contained program with a hidden payload designed to attack the host system. Common examples are email attachments with a promised fun graphic or a needed font. Programs downloaded from websites promising free screensavers or some other type of software can represent themselves as something useful in order to trick users into downloading them.

Malware, by definition, is malicious software designed to alter or corrupt legitimate computer operation. It can be used to gather data, obtain access to other data systems, or disrupt others’ abilities to use these systems. Although a plethora of terms accompanies the constantly evolving technology, I’m going to address the big four malware types and what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

Once the Trojan has been downloaded and executed, the hidden payload also executes and can provide remote access to the creator in order to collect personal information or to leverage the host system in a manner similar to a worm attack. Or it can just remain in the background, monitoring the user’s activity and habits.


This is the latest and nastiest player in the malware world. Where viruses, worms, and Trojans usually attempt to hide themselves, Ransomware, as the name implies, is an outright attempt at extortion. Initially originating from

This is probably the earliest known term used to describe computer malware. The word is well chosen because a



Protecting Your Family from Computer Malware, Viruses and Other Bugs Russia, early versions would attempt to intimidate the user by claiming to be from the FBI or Homeland Security. A locked splash screen would appear indicating that child pornography had been found on the user’s computer, requiring the user to pay a fine anywhere from $200 - $400 to regain use of their system.

Antivirus By and large, modern antivirus software does a reasonable job of protecting systems, but it is far from 100% effective. For antivirus software to work, it needs to know what to look for. New viruses are being released every day, and it takes the antivirus vendors time to detect and analyze these new threats, known as “Zero day exploits.” This means that the best antivirus in the world is helpless against a threat it doesn’t understand. Having an antivirus installed that is regularly updated and used to scan your system is essential. You can protect yourself without spending more money on the most expensive antivirus program out there.


Later variants have abandoned all pretense of civility and no longer pretend to be legitimate. They encrypt the entire contents of your computer’s hard drive and inform users that they have 48 hours to pay a fee to the extortionists in order to recover the decryption key. After 48 hours, the key will be deleted. The threat is real and the encryption is real.

Any modern Operating System (OS) should have a software firewall installed and turned on by default. But I would encourage the use of an external hardwarebased firewall in addition to the built-in software firewall. A hardware firewall provides an additional layer of protection for the home network and can be configured to disallow specific types of traffic to and from your home with the use of configurable rule sets and access lists. They can also prevent network penetration by hostile attacking systems, which computer-based software firewalls can not do. Cost starts around $75 and increases with functionality, but this network level of protection is essential in today’s world.

Backups I know you’ve heard this over and over, but backups are the only fully reliable fallback for recovering from any type of malware attack. In the case of Ransomware, no other option exists if your files have been encrypted. Economical external USB drives are available in the Terra-byte range. System Restore (Windows) or OS X Recovery and Time Machine (Apple) have the capability to revert to earlier versions of your computer’s configuration. All these tools require some time and effort to get them installed and sufficiently automated and running. But the effort is well worth it and obviously so if you have been bitten even once.

W.S. Mathis


Thinking Outside the Box



Thinking Outside the Box Question #1

Question # 2

A: When children think critically and creatively, they are interacting with their environment as well as bringing something to their environment. This active participation – “thinking outside the box” –is the primary transaction that allows children to construct information and develop problem solving techniques. Parents yearn for their children to develop these critical thinking skills; however, by implementing a rigid set of rules, they actually hinder that child’s maturation abilities. After repeatedly being told exactly what to do, the child is reduced to compliance; and as they comply, they become externally controlled. Exploration diminishes, and where children have no opportunity to grow, they have no room for creativity.

As parents we are all invested in our children. Yet, sometimes our desire to see them succeed causes us to unknowingly obstruct their learning. Parents must recognize that it is perfectly normal for a child to think and act in ways that vary from our perspectives. Rather than reflecting the child’s frustration when conflict arises, parents should show patience and allow open exploration to occur. Similarly, to best encourage growth, parents must stay within the child’s zone of proximal development, recognizing what the child can accomplish independently and where she needs assistance.

What are the benefits of children thinking critically and creatively?

In order for a child to become self-reliant, to understand the world and independently choose how to act upon it, parents must create an environment which fosters creative thinking. When creativity is explored openly in the home, children develop reasoning skills, which lead to greater in-depth understanding of concepts. A child is capable of sustained attention when these skills connect meaning to the task at hand, which makes learning fun, increases interest, and prolongs the attention span. As Jean Piaget first proposed, two processes are at work in cognitive development: assimilation and accommodation. As children apply past knowledge and skills to current problems or tasks, they are in the process of assimilating. When assimilation fails to provide an adequate solution, children need to explore alternative solutions and employ different strategies, which leads to accommodation and adaptation. This constant series of assimilation and accommodation plays an important role in children’s development, allowing them to expand their skills, knowledge, and reasoning. However, if parents provide quick solutions, especially when they see their child struggling to solve a problem and getting frustrated, they teach their child to look to others for answers.

How can parents inspire and allow children to “think outside the box”, creatively and critically?

No formula exists for perfect parenting. However, some approaches have proven to stimulate greater levels of creativity in children. First, utilize open-ended questions that encourage joint thinking. The idea is to say, “Okay, I don’t have the answer to this problem, what would you do?” Try some games like half-finished sentences or read a story with just pictures and allow the child to construct their own written version. Even granting children the power to make everyday decisions as simple as choosing a snack is beneficial in the development of critical thinking. Give them smart choices like “Apples or carrots?”, but when they choose apples, ask how they arrived at that decision. Children benefit from making choices and learn to think through the decision-making process. The flexibility in these activities expands creativity and allows children to think outside the box. Nurture creativity by providing an environment that encourages alternative ways of thinking. I remember the first time somebody said to me, “Let’s have pancakes for dinner.” I thought, “Wait, that’s a breakfast food!” The purpose of this is to exemplify that it is okay to want a typical breakfast food for dinner. It is okay to stray from the norm—that is thinking creatively!

CHILDGOOD THE JOY OF PARENTING When these tactics are applied, parents will notice that their children begin to plan and think about their choices in greater depth. Feel comfortable giving them leadership roles and share real-world experiences with them to further their understanding. When parents act as role models and are comfortable being atypical, which in fact is really what parents in creative professional fields do every day, it creates an atmosphere where children feel that they can explore their world without fear of judgment and ridicule. Here’s another idea: encourage your child to make up languages, develop different labels for objects, or create their own rules. When my son was four years old we got a dog and we asked him “What would you like to call this dog?” He started laughing as he pondered over that question. When I asked what the giggling was about, he looked at me with a twinkle in his eyes: “Can we call it Pony? Can a dog be a pony?” So our dog was named Pony! Also, be aware that nothing kills creative thinking like comparing a young child to others. This is not to say that children should not be guided and encouraged to learn positive behaviors, mannerisms, and habits—all that is good. But comparing them with other children indicates to them that they are not good enough unless they become like someone else. It is our duty to recognize our child’s unique strengths and assist them in realizing their full potential. So I would like to leave you with a question, “What would you like your child to be?” A conformist? An obedient child who responds to you as a puppet? Or a leader, a trailblazer, or an inventor? If we want to raise our children to be self-reliant independent thinkers who can take control of their environments, their lives, and become pioneers in their fields, then they must consider new alternatives. You can lead them to discover those alternatives.


The Ethical Matrix


The Ethical Matrix Question #1 What are the most important components that go into a family mission? All families want the best for their children. Health, well being, a good education, meaningful relationships, success. We wish this for our kids because we have learned that without health, education, and meaningful relationships, success is not possible.

Question #2 How do we create a family mission strategy? Is there a strategy, a “game plan” for achieving this goal? Some would say that a strategy is not necessary, that it is simply enough to love your kids, and everything else will follow. Unfortunately plentiful evidence shows that love by itself is not enough. It is not enough because love is a sentiment that means different things to different people. Every parent loves their child. But not every parent acts in ways that are loving. Our prisons are filled with men and women whose parents, if asked, would say they loved their kids. But their kids likely never received the foundation they needed—and deserved—to become responsible. So if it takes more than saying “I love you” to make a healthy child, what are we to do? I would suggest that a child needs to be raised in a family unit where certain ideas of what it means to be a responsible citizen, both in the family and in the larger community, are conceptualized, discussed over the dinner table, agreed upon, and lived out. Parents need to work out a “family

mission statement” to which every member of the family pledges to remain accountable, and to devise a system to make sure that everyone lives up to that bar in daily life.

Question #3 What would a family mission statement look like? While individuality and creativity are important, there are certain non-negotiable building blocks in building healthy relationships and self-esteem. For example, honesty, openness, gentleness, forgiveness, courtesy, doing one’s best, willingness to hear the other side when there is issue, agreement to a chain of command in the family unit, and giving others the benefit of the doubt. Most parents would agree that these are important lessons for children to learn. But most parents will not construct a “family ethics” program in which everyone—parents and kids—agree to be held accountable for their actions.

Question #4 Why is this important? It is important because too many kids—both affluent and poor—grow up without having been held accountable for their actions. They lack an ethical matrix upon which to judge themselves and others, and are thus left to the undeveloped desires of the moment. They have no frame of reference because they were never given one. And how does one gain such a frame of reference? By growing up in a family where the foundation is laid by observing the family mission statement lived out in small, practical ways that declare “This is who we are, this is how we have chosen to live our lives, this is what we believe in.” Nothing in life is more powerful.



by James Schaller Certified Music Practitioner


Powerful Friend or Implacable Foe



Powerful Friend or Implacable Foe

At first glance it was just another sepia photograph of explorers in National Geographic, circa 1912. Grim-faced, cold, unshaven men stand with rough equipment and torn flags in a barren, arctic landscape posing for a ‘selfie.’ The caption tells me that this is Robert Falcon Scott’s expedition to the South Pole, and within a few months all would be dead. What killed them: bitter cold, injury, lack of food and medicine? Actually the environment, hostile and brutal did them in. They perished in an environment that did not support their desired goal and actively worked to thwart their success. In today’s discourse, mention of ‘the environment’ leads to discussions of weather, climate change and other ‘out there’ conditions. Other types of environments can be more subtle: emotional, home, learning, loving…all these activities have their own emotional, physical and spiritual eco-systems that combine to create environments in which we work, play, raise our family and project creativity. Environment is also the situation in which an activity occurs. Environment is powerful – even more powerful than our will-power (as the members of Scott’s expedition would bitterly learn). Eastern philosophy teaches that awareness of our environment (and that includes people and situations – not just the weather) can prove to be either a powerful ally or an impediment to self-growth. The choices of friends, community, activities, location, and work combine to either support our personal growth or lead us into miserable blind alleys of wasted efforts. If we are not careful, a negative environment can derail our most carefully laid plans. Attention to creating a positive environment can pay dividends as it supports our work and intentions and helps bring about desired results. If we can change the environment or at least shape it to support our desired activity, we have a much better chance of success. If Scott’s team could have somehow changed their environment to support their trek, they would not have perished. How can we use this knowledge to create an environment that will support an important family meeting such as the mission meeting? This event is a time for family members to align their goals, desires, and work projects. It’s a time to learn and understand what all the family members are pursuing and how to best support each other. We should undertake all we can to support a positive outcome for this meeting. How can we affect the environment to insure a measured, productive, positive, enriching meeting with meaningful understanding that results in cooperation among family members? From quantum physicists to eastern mystics, there is agreement that the nature of matter is vibration and/or the potential for vibrations to occur. Music is the ordering of vibration into specific patterns of vibrational data that trigger multiple areas of our brain in specific sequence. It’s powerful! If you can use the power of music to shape the environment for positive outcome, your family meeting stands a

better chance of ending as the Apollo mission’s lunar landing, and not Scott’s failed attempt to return from the South Pole. Music supports a calm environment suitable for critical thinking and lucid discussions. Certain types of music have been proven to lower the breath and heart rates, distract and calm thought processes, and help create a restful metabolic state. Music can also support coherent thinking and energize work activities. Many retail establishments use music to support the vibe that will best resonate with their desired customers and make them feel comfortable, hip, urban, relaxed, excited, ready-to-party, understood etc.. You can use this same principle to set the relaxed, welcoming tone for everyone as they enter your family meeting space, and then support creative thinking and the energy to take action. Before your meeting begins, use music to set the tone of the room. Use soft instrumental music that is spacious, simple, and relaxed in tempo. Some of the types of music I have used include: Renaissance, slow, ‘chill-out’ groove music, slow early American instrumental or Celtic music. As your meeting moves from the initial sharing of everyone’s goals and aspirations onto specific actions to be taken, consider changing the music to either up-tempo versions of the above or western chamber music. The change will help stimulate active excitement and energy for your family as you commit to specific actions and how you can support each other. Personal music preferences are wide and vary greatly across cultures. A general guideline is to choose slower tempo instrumental music that you find imparts a relaxed or comfortable feeling. (Hint: unfamiliar instrumental music is a good choice because no one mentally sings along with the lyrics.) When the time comes for discussing actions to be taken, change the music to faster, energizing selections. Play the music at a soft volume that does not step on the conversation; straining to hear conversation over music causes stress. Music is an important yet easily controlled component of an environment. Pay attention to other aspects such as the choice of room, seating arrangement, food and beverage, protected time from interruption and room temperature and ventilation. Environment is extremely powerful and with attention we can harness its power to support desired results. Consider music an ally in the creation of a successful family mission meeting, which is a critical step for creative families in their quest to balance mutual support and understanding.

James Schaller C.M.P.


THE AGORA by Maria Barlett


of the ancient Greek citystate was the public forum for civil discourse on politics, current events, and cultural life. The concept of democracy first came to life there. Today, more than ever before—whether due to the extreme partisanship in our politics, or the immediacy of awful and thoughtless behaviors captured in social media—this antique tradition fires my imagination. It represents a safe place to be heard without being vilified. And yet the Agora, and the concept of regular constructive civil discourse it represents, seems to be fading even further into the past. This need not happen, though. We can be proactive in preserving this ancient, humane, and helpful concept.

The first and most important place we can practice the notions of constructive exchange embodied in the Agora concept is in our families. The home is where we learn to relate to others, whether through constructive or destructive dynamics. It is where we pass on our closely kept values to our own children before we ever send them off into the world. It is not enough, however, to simply set time aside to talk as families. We need to cultivate and guard a sense of safety when we talk. Then we can use the special family time to even greater effect—whether at the breakfast or dinner table, around a fire pit in the backyard, in the car on a long trip, an hour every Thursday, or wherever you find yourselves. We can cultivate civility and fair play in conversation, foster an environment where the members exercise patience, and establish that vilification is entirely out of place. Freedom from the fear of vilification for one’s opinions and beliefs can have a threefold affect. First, it is a simple matter of consideration that a person be allowed space to speak without interruption, without fear. There is palpable irony in the fact that in a country where the principle of freedom of speech is woven into the Constitution, many still fear and even expect retribution for expressing an opinion that someone else doesn’t agree with. Secondly, trusting that one’s listeners will keep their negative responses in check enables the speaker to first formulate and then articulate a cohesive thought with less anxiety. Remember, not all ideas are fully developed before discussion ensues and not everyone is gifted at debate. In fact, this writer is frozen when it comes to debate. I have no gift for argument, regardless of how many facts I have or my level of conviction. I simply do not like to argue. It makes me nauseous, in fact, to hear others argue or to be drawn into an argument. If I perceive that my ideas are not going to be given consideration, my natural tendency is


by Maria Barlett

to just clam up. I have to push myself out of my comfort zone when I feel the need to disagree with something publicly. That is one of my personal challenges and I know I am not alone. Thirdly, once an idea is expressed in full it becomes sort of an entity unto itself. Then other people, including the one who formulated the idea in the first place, can step back and consider or re-consider the implications. Sometimes people do not “change their minds” because their minds have not been made up to begin with, but rather programmed by repetition of others. After calmly examining an array of well thought out and calmly expressed alternatives, we can then make up our minds. Sometimes we decide to be comfortable with vagueness and not choose one position over another – which is often a valid position in itself! In the name of reducing the potential for our close ones to feel vilified or intimidated for their ideas, we can actively seek to check ourselves when feeling the urge to interrupt and correct or otherwise show disapproval. We can guide younger people in practicing the skill of active listening and reserving judgment as part of a healthy exchange of ideas. And once an idea is on the table, whole, then we can practice the skill of disagreeing without being disagreeable – and even aspire to the higher arts of understanding opposite viewpoints on the way toward seeking common ground. When there is an accepting, non-intimidating vibe established, it will bear fruit. The topics we explore become ever more wide ranging, thought provoking and character building. Endless possibilities come into focus: people or striking images in the news, important events like a political election, even astonishing cultural moments like Harper Lee publishing a new novel for which To Kill a Mockingbird is a prequel, or Bob Dylan releasing an album of standards! There is no such thing as being too old or too young to participate, and there is no telling what creative inspiration will transpire. Furthermore, families who safely and calmly exchange ideas and thoughts form the foundation of communities that do the same. This is the precursor to realizing a revived Agora—a contemporary public space where people can assemble, physically or virtually, with the intention and skill to approach a discussion of politics, policy, and culture as an exchange of ideas and not a contest of wills. If we miss the opportunity to let the Agora be re-animated with us as individuals and families, we may pay a steep price down the road. Political parties worldwide appeal to their

TH E A G O RA extreme wings for finances and steadfast support. This hyperpolarization disables governments from being able to develop and pass consensus-based policy and legislation. Gridlock has been elevated to a dark and high art. Growing disillusionment with traditional parties has spurred rapid growth in the numbers of political independents whose concerns are not being met by either right or left.   A peculiar trend has ensued in recent years of media outlets delivering programming that is overtly biased in favor of one political extreme or the other. Simultaneously, the numbers of sources which offer information that asks questions and challenges the listener to examine and reexamine his or her views are shrinking. Rampant are the programs whose anchors and guest opinion makers tailor their remarks to the listener who consumes only that which echoes his own thinking, the listener who is prone to demonizing any who have differing viewpoints. This cynical and deliberate programming (cynical I say, because network programming choices are based on dollars and cents as much as philosophy) conditions an audience to tolerate biased, and even severely tainted information. Vitriol and hyperbole have become profitable deliverables that feed political extremism, corrode constructive communication, polarize society and cripple the democratic processes. Might the Agora be revitalized in social media? Possibly, but it is notable that vilification is all too common. When it happens, we have a choice to “unfriend” or “block” if we feel abused by another social media user, but even those choices are designed to cut another off, not encourage understanding. I have made a couple of successful attempts myself to bring a critic around


by Maria Barlett

– not to my viewpoint necessarily, but to a friendly footing by using gentle humor to dissolve an impasse created by, shall we say, overzealous disagreement. A funny example comes to mind – certain blogs make it clear that they seek to engender measured and calm conversation, especially when parties disagree. Sounds good, right? But still there are those who participate and fling vitriol even when it is clearly stamped on the page heading that the intent is to cultivate an amicable exchange of ideas. Certain folks persist in treating the blogger and his/her readers to bloviating lambasts rather than expressing differences with a respectful tone or writing logical points which build a cogent position—or just not posting at all! Common though this is, there are some heroic non-partisan efforts out in the social media sphere to elevate the quality of public discourse. Hopefully, in our near-concentric circles (parents, extended family, teachers, and caregivers) we can start to seek more ways to counter influences that might disturb the peaceful exchange of views. Perhaps as a result, the Agora, and the concept of regular constructive civil discourse it represents, need not fade even further into the past. When we increase the civility of public discourse instead of trying to drive the discourse according to our entrenched positions, we contribute in a tangible way to advancing the “civilization” we hope to hand over to our children. Over the next weeks and months I would like to use this space to expand on how to invite civility back into private and public life and perhaps bring new life to this ancient concept. I bid you then, come to the Agora.


The Keystone Bridge by Evan Michael Zislis


The Keystone Bridge by Evan Michael Zislis

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” ~Ferris Bueller

If we’re not careful, the momentum of life can spin us into a frenzy. As parents, we’re not just frantically managing households and careers, we’re also teaching our children the importance of balance. Helping them understand a well-rounded lifestyle starts with setting the intention and modeling strategies to ensure success. Doing this well requires a little planning and consistent follow through. In the end, you’ll feel more in control than you ever thought possible. Like most parents, my wife and I are extremely busy people. We’re entrepreneurs, athletes, community volunteers, and hobbyists. My wife runs a successful massage therapy practice from our home and teaches yoga to oncology patients at the local hospital. I am an organizational solutions and strategies consultant working with households, businesses, students, and people in life transition. I’m currently finishing my first book, with a second one already underway. In addition to working with clients full time, we both run the administrative side of our businesses. Like most working parents, we also make time for a balanced life outside of our careers. Our five-year-old daughter goes to karate, ballet, gymnastics, and swim lessons. She has play dates with her friends and enjoys cooking, art projects, books, and a good movie from time to time. We get our energetic puppy out for a run several times a day and focus on obedience training with him when we can. We all love food, so grocery shopping, maintaining our organic veggie garden, preparing awesome meals, and cleaning the kitchen are big parts of our days. In between, we keep our house tidy, volunteer in our community, and enjoy the Colorado Rockies where we live. Like I said, we’re pretty busy. Living a well-balanced and fulfilling life requires getting clear on personal priorities and then implementing them with heart and integrity. In my professional practice, I help people to simplify, so they can focus on what matters most: who we love, what we do, how and why we live, because everything else is just stuff. For most people, this is a three-part process.

PART I: CHOOSING YOUR FAMILY KEYSTONES Part one is all about identifying which aspects of life are most critical to you. Imagine these individual aspects as figurative keystones, wedged together to form an arc, like the base of a stone bridge. Together these stones form an interdependent foundation that supports a happy, healthy lifestyle. When we neglect one or more elements, the strength of the bridge is diminished. However, when we maintain equal focus, the metaphorical keystones wedge tightly together to further increase the practical strength of the entire structure. I usually recommend the following seven primary keystones: wellness, family, career, finance, education, community, and creativity. These represent typical areas of individual and collective engagement that require time, resources, and energy. Each one supports the others. When they are in balance, life takes on extra stability and invigorating vitality. Neglected keystones cause weakness that deteriorates the integrity of the entire structure. People who feel unbalanced are usually overlooking one or more keystones in their lives. Getting back into balance requires clarity and intentional resolve.

PART II: GOAL MAPPING Getting clarity on what is most important is just a starting point. Once we have our keystones, we should examine the ideal vision for each one. Plotting a course to get there is an exercise I call Goal Mapping. This is literally a drawing with two points on opposite sides of a single piece of paper. The first point is where we are right now. The other is the target objective, describing where we hope to end up. Lastly, we add subsequent benchmarks, literally plotting a course through a series of incremental actions to get us there. These points become a road map of premeditated action items.

PART III: TIME & TASK MANAGEMENT The benchmarks along the way to the ultimate goal will not complete themselves. They must be intentionally scheduled and strategically checked off, one by one. This requires the important step of scheduling.


Appointments should be scheduled in a calendar system designed for monthly at-a-glance efficiency. Task items (do this one thing, one time) should be scheduled into an at-a-glance weekly planner designed to highlight the ongoing list of items left “to do” this week. Checking these items off in the short-term ensures that nothing slips through the cracks on our way to achieving long-term success. Mastering a well-balanced family life requires focus, clarity, and deliberate action. To inspire buy-in, include everyone in the process. Inspiration to participate and ultimately contribute will only come with ownership and accountability, so give everyone real incentive to get involved. Before you know it, you’ll be standing on a solid foundation built to support the entire family.

Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of Intentional Solutions. He helps forward-thinking people to simplify, so they can focus on what matters most: who we love, what we do, how and why we live… because everything else is just stuff. Working with households, businesses, students, and people in transition, he focuses in five areas: organization, operational systems, time and task management, content creation, and professional networking. Learn more at, email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions. com, or become a friend at www.

“Mastering a well-balanced family life requires focus, clarity, and deliberateaction. To inspire buy-in, include everyone in the process. ”



Meaningful Connections with People that Nurture Supportive & Mutually Beneficial Relationships


*BALANCE Balance provides stability and a strong foundation for growth. Life out of balance is vulnerable, volatile, and removes viable choices. The strongest foundations are made of sturdy pillars that support all others.

Opportunities to Earn a Living that Support an Inspired, Healthy Lifestyle, & Contribute to the Common Good


Diverse Outlets to Explore, Create, Design, Inspire, and Express Personal Passion & Individuality


Thoughtfully Manage Assets and Resources through Intentional Savings and Strategic Spending Manifest the life you seek by thoughtfully choosing the 7 Pillars that reflect YOUR personal goals. Identify the areas of your life important to YOU, and then take ownership of your success. Follow-through by scheduling actions that support your 7 Pillars.




Opportunities to Learn, Grow and Evolve as a Creatively Problem-Solving, Thoughtful Human Being





Well-Balanced Nutritious Food, Regular Exercise, a Spiritual Practice, & a Sustainable Living Environment




Active Civic Contribution and Engaged Friendships that Support Healthy Living, Personal & Collective Goals | ©2012-Present All Rights Reserved




verybody has a talent, and the authors below have found theirs. Whether you’re looking fora good read for yourself or a great gift for someone else, consider one of the books below.

Curated by Sylece Andromeda

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey Family is of supreme importance and there is no leadership role more important than parenthood. Both philosophical and practical, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey is anchored in the importance of creating a beautiful family culture. Offered are suggestions to help lead you toward that goal by creating action plans and ways of being more effective as a family unit. This engaging read also includes suggestions for improving daily behavior and balancing individual and family needs, as well as insightful anecdotes. From problem solving to shifting from dependence to interdependence, this helpful guide is sure to inspire family greatness... effectively.

The Grandparent Solution: How Parents Can Build a Family Team for Practical, Emotional, and Financial Success by Arthur Kornhaber Dr. Arthur Kornhaber’s The Grandparent Solution: How Parents Can Build a Family Team for Practical, Emotional, and Financial Success is a guide to creating a strong family team by utilizing the three-generation family bond of grandparents, parents, and children. Emphasizing the importance of personal attitudes and values, he provides helpful guidelines and techniques to effectively face a variety of challenges, including the line between love and intrusiveness. Ranging from family diversity to the benefits of having grandparent involvement in child rearing, this a worthy, inspiring read.


Created by Scott Gladfelter ©2014 Licensed by ChildGood










Created by Scott Gladfelter ©2014 Licensed by ChildGood


CG PUBLISHER MARIA DEL REY CHILDGOOD MAGAZINE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF JOSH GREER CONTRIBUTORS DR. CHRISSI HART DR. SUKHDEEP GILL GEORGE SIMMS M.D. A.A. GILES MARIA BARLETT SCOTT GLADFELTER SYLECE ANDROMEDA EVAN MICHAEL ZISLIS MAGAZINE DESIGN, WEB & VIDEO DESIGN TEAM MDR INTERACTIVE STUDIOS ASTARKDESIGN.COM PHOTOGRAPHY & ILLUSTRATION COVER - JJRD ROBERT INGELHART, DIANA HIRSH, ANDREW RICH, SKYNESHER, MARK HATFIELD ADVERTISING ADVERTISING @CHILDGOOD.COM All Rights Reserved - Created in the USA No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, by photocopies, recording or otherwise without prior written consent. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this publication, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions or any consequence of reliance on this publication. The opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of the editor, the publisher or the publication. Contributions are submitted at sender’s risk. Please retain duplicates of text and images. Letters to the editor are welcomed . © 2012-2015 ChildGood LLC - Maria Del Rey are registered US trademarks ®

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Childgood The Mission Issue  

ChildGood Magazine, offer you media-rich, timeless wisdom in a variety of must-know topics. In-depth articles and expert instructional video...

Childgood The Mission Issue  

ChildGood Magazine, offer you media-rich, timeless wisdom in a variety of must-know topics. In-depth articles and expert instructional video...

Profile for childgood