Tips for Mental Health Month

Look for things that make you smile. 

Even if you have to search the internet for pictures of babies or kittens, or puppies, do it if it will make you smile!

Get some exercise.

Take a walk, go for a hike, walk around downtown.  Do this by yourself or with someone you enjoy being with – just do it!

Have some quiet time.

Quiet time can be taken in your parked car, out in the open, while taking a bath, in your bedroom before getting out of bed.  Regenerate, reflect, look inside yourself.

Love yourself.

Look in the mirror and see the amazing person you are.  Don’t focus on the imperfections.  Celebrate the perfection of who you are.  Let self-criticism and self-blame fall away. 

Be of service. 

Helping someone, greeting a stranger, listening with interest, and being present are all ways of being of service.

Enjoy the moment.

Start a gratitude list.

If your present moment is stressful, begin a gratitude list.  Being alive can be the first item on your gratitude list.


Laugh Often!


Sometimes you just have to laugh.

I have worked with thousands of family members and caregivers over the past eight years and the stories of their struggles in supporting a loved one with mental illness are touching and sad. That is why laughter is a big part of my day - every day! I try to count my blessings, be grateful for the special, little things in my life, and celebrate everything good. Life happens. If I am lucky, I will be around for more. So, I choose to laugh rather than be sad, dance rather than sit still, experience rather than shut down. Today is good!

New Book on Mental Illness in the Family


A book written out of necessity!

When I was in crisis struggling to make sense of mental illness in my son, I grasped for information that was easy to understand. Because, let’s face it, I walked around in a daze putting out fires, feeling grief at the news of my son’s condition, trying to maintain structure in a family that was falling apart. In my vocation as a family advocate, I have met hundreds of caregivers and family members in similar crisis situations. Hence, An Unexpected Visitor, Un visitante inesperado, was born.

Easily navigated, this book addresses topics of importance listed in alphabetical order. The vignettes of shared personal stories will resonate with many and readers will realize they are not alone. Mental health disorders affect many people without discrimination. One in five people will either experience mental illness in their lifetime or will know of someone who has.

This short, 80 page book is written in English and Spanish and can be purchased at Amazon below:

Posted on April 2, 2019 .

Genocide Remembrance Day

In honor of Holocaust and Genocide Remembrance Day, I want to introduce:

Half Spoon of Rice:  A survival Story of the Cambodian Genocide

Nine-year-old Nat is forced out of his Cambodian home and marched into the countryside when the Khmer Rouge comes into power. Nat is separated from his family and endures forced labor in rice fields from dawn to midnight with little food. Over the next four years, Nat confronts starvation, fear, and brutality. With the help of his friend Malis, Nat finds hope and the strength to escape, eventually reuniting with the family he loves. Half Spoon of Rice is based on true stories of courage, friendship, survival, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Author, Icy Smith, wrote this award winning story that should be found in every library around the world  - so that we will bear witness and never forget.

Book Awards: Benjamin Franklin Silver Award California Book Award Finalist Society of School Librarians International Honor Award Cooperative Children Book Center Choices Skipping Stones Honor Award Moonbeam Children s Book Award.


East West Discovery Press

Posted on April 23, 2017 .

We are not always comfortable with the unfamiliar.


When I was very young, I lived in a community of Hispanics.  Everyone looked like me.  The people I loved most looked like me.  In first grade, we moved to a small mining town in Arizona.  My mother left me in the care of my new teacher, who after welcoming me, prudently directed another student to show me the bathroom.  This is how I met Vivian.  

Vivian had long, red hair the color of a shiny, copper penny.  She greeted me with smiling, pale, blue eyes framed by washed-out , spidery lashes. What was most startling, were the rust colored freckles that covered her from head to toe.  When Vivian clasped my hand to show me to the bathroom, I worked at gently extricating my hand from her grasp.  I was afraid her freckles would jump onto my brown skin!

Who would have known I would one day dedicate my life to promoting tolerance, to learning about other people, and to making people THINK about their own personal biases.  

We are all Vivian to someone else.


Posted on July 13, 2016 .

Albuquerque Here I Come!

The first week of November finds me in Albuquerque, New Mexico presenting school assemblies at Griegos Elementary School and attending the 20th Annual Dual Language Conference - La Cosecha at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

The learning experience began when I first entered the word "Albuquerque."  It took me several tries to get the spelling right, but I now have it committed to memory!   I am certain I will enjoy my visit to what I understand to be a fascinating city in New Mexico.

Posted on October 25, 2015 .

Cultural Diversity - Skin Color

Frightened of Skin Color

When I was in the first grade, we moved to a small mining town in Arizona.  This was my first close encounter with a person with red hair.  My teacher introduced me to Vivian who was to take me around the school yard and introduce me to the bathroom and the playground. Vivian had long copper hair, light blue eyes, spidery blonde eyelashes and eyebrows, and freckles everywhere!  Boy, did she scare me.  When she clasped my little hand in hers, I was afraid her freckles would jump right onto my hand.  Without causing offense, I extricated my hand from her grasp and walked beside her.  Needless to say, I avoided Vivian at all cost.

This was not the first nor the last time the color of skin and how it is perceived was an issue for me.  For this reason I wanted to introduce the following books:

The Skin You Live In

by Michael Tyler, illustrated by David Lee Csicsko and published by Chicago Children's Museum.  The rhyme is.  wild with imagination and may not be for every reader, but I loved it.  I especially liked when the story got to the issue of acceptance - It's not tall skin or short skin, or best in the sport skin; or fat skin or thin skin, you lose and I win skin...We all make a beauty, so wonderfully true.  We are special and different and just the same, too!

All the Colors We Are - Todos los Colores de Nuestra Piel

by Katie Kissinger, photographed by Wernher Krutein and published by Redleaf Press.  What I liked the most was the ability of the young reader to make a skin comparison from the color pallet that runs throughout the book.  There is a explanation of the relationship between melanin and sun exposure.  It ends with "skin color is one of the many ways people are special and different from each other."

Shades of People

by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly, photographs by Shelley Rotner and published by Holiday House.  The photographs are of wonderfully diverse children.  I especially like the words: "our skin is just our covering, like wrapping paper. And, you can't tell what someone is like from the color of their skin."  The photo of many colored hands at the end is precious.

I love using children's literature to teach older children and adults about cultural diversity.  I recently encountered the following TEDS Talk on the origins of man that addresses the color of our skin.

Posted on October 10, 2015 .

Cultural Diversity

Global Travel

I consider myself a world traveler.  I have traveled to 14 different countries over the years with my two sons and my husband.  We made it a point to learn about the countries we visited, their customs, their traditions, and their laws.

As an author, I have spoken to many children about my travels and experiences.  My focus has been to teach educators and students about different cultures.  I recently found a children's book that simplifies my message to very young children.  This book, published by Little Pickle Press, is titled What Does it Mean to be Global? 

As we went from one country to the next, our mind set was to experience without imposing our Western values.  One of the messages in this little book is

respecting that others may have different values than you do. 

We would also be mindful of the culture and dress and behave appropriately.  Another of the book's message is:

understanding how your actions affect another person's experience.

In line with the message I want to deliver, is the following comment: respectfully and peacefully with one another. ... opening your mind to new possibilities.

How can we become better Global Citizens?

Posted on September 23, 2015 .

Origins of our Feline House Pet

Our human companions came from African Wildcat.


African Wildcat

African Wildcat

  • I have a personal story to share, but I must begin with how cats became human companions.  Recorded history shows humans were captivated  by these creatures some 10,000+ years ago.  Their spread from Africa to the Middle East and Asia ensued as humans found their capacity for mice control beneficial.  Our independent pets can often revert to their wild lifestyle and care for themselves.

15 years ago, I took my youngest son, then 7, to the animal shelter where we adopted Gypsy.  As happens in families, the kids grow, leave, and leave their pets.  Gypsy has gotten a bit crabby in her old age.  She wants to be fed at 5:30 a.m.  This is when she begins her caterwauling.  It is not pleasant.  For the last year this behavior has worsened.  I was ready to send her back to her own origins (the animal shelter), when I remembered a friend telling me about an automatic cat feeder.  

I opened my peepers this morning and turned to my husband and said.  "Either the contraption worked of the cat died."  Yahoo! (not the search engine), I feel so refreshed this morning.  I slept in until 6:30 a.m.!!!

Posted on August 17, 2015 .