[box]Life was complicated for me in junior high. Sharing the intimate details of your life was not an option during the 1970s. You hid everything back then, pretended that nothing hurt. You sucked it up and moved on. But I remember my music class, and our teacher Pip Moss, vividly. Under Pip’s direction, we dissected our favorite songs and discussed their meaning. James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”is the one I recall the best. That song was the first instance I can remember of anyone talking openly about private emotional pain.

On my favorite radio station back then, the songs told stories about every emotion that life could elicit. I knew just about every word of every song. Music has the unique ability to arouse introspection, and it offered me some stability in those turbulent years. If that’s not a kind of mentorship, I don’t know what is.

I’m very excited to feature my old classmate, Peter Downing. With this post, Peter reminds me how important our music teacher Pip Moss was, and how grateful I still am for his guidance and education.

— Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

 

I clicked on two video links: “Musician arrested for singing in subway” and “BBC Music – God Only Knows.” The second video is a montage of pop artists singing The Beach Boys’ masterpiece,“God only Knows.” An eighty-piece orchestra backs twenty-seven hugely famous and talented singers, who take turns singing one line of Brian Wilson and Tony Asher’s classic love song each. Brian himself is in the video. By the time it got around to Dave Grohl, however, the meaning of the song had changed.

I was primed by the video of that brave New York City subway musician being wrongfully arrested for plying his trade. I’ve been a busker, you see—not out of fiscal necessity but rather out of spiritual need. Holding court in The Pit, in Harvard Square, with my old band, The Peasants, is a cherished memory. For me, it was the only outlet that beat the skull-busting rush of shooting cocaine.

Watching the young man in the first video being taken away in handcuffs—for what? For being the most alive one can be? It affected me. It hurt my soul.

I no longer imagined the musicians singing “God only knows” to a loved one; instead, the song become a paean to music itself. I didn’t see Elton John the mega star. I saw the awkward little boy, the target of ridicule, then a tortured artist, finding solace in creativity, now paying tribute to the thing that saved him.

Not every musician is “tortured,” obviously. But there is a certain madness required in mastering an instrument. It takes hundreds of hours alone in room, repeating the same work over and over with single-minded focus. God only knows what Brian Wilson and this distinguished band of merry misfits would be without music as an outlet.

Without it, I know, I’d be incarcerated or interred.

My story is a familiar one: alcoholism, broken home, latchkey kid. I was a good reader, but most of the other subjects confounded me. I couldn’t seem to pay enough attention.

Enter a young, long-haired, energetic, and very knowledgeable music teacher named Pip Moss. He had soft shoes, John Lennon glasses, and a corduroy blazer. Despite the hip style, Pip was the son of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s first violinist and Concert Master. His intention, according to my classmate Warren, was to turn kids on to classical pieces in his first year teaching the class “Music Listening.” But the kids rebelled.“We want rock,” they demanded. And Pip—maybe realizing the futility of his campaign—turned on a dime. He got a Fender Stratocaster and some Hendrix records, and by the time my class showed up the following year he had whole new curriculum.

He led off with Cream. My older sister liked the band so I already knew them. I was able to answer some questions intelligently. Pip took notice. During a quiz he played an obscure track. It was our job to identify the musician.

I knew instantly, raised my hand, and said, “It’s Cream.”

Pip smiled broadly and said, “Correct! How did you know?”

“Clapton’s voice.”I said.”

“Mmm. Good ear,” he said, “except it’s actually Jack Bruce who’s singing.”

It was an imperfect victory (something I’d have to get used to) but a victory nonetheless. I was suddenly engaged, scored well on quizzes, and in no time I was even teaching my classmates guitar. It was a sea-change.

Pip’s support may have been a small gesture, but it grew exponentially, the way a tiny adjustment at the start of a tee shot becomes a quantum leap three hundred yards down the fairway. A metric expansion of space began that day, and forty years later his words are still helping me as I strive to be more patient, kind, and generous. Where would I be without him as a mentor? God only knows.

[box]About the Author

Peter Downing graduated from Tufts University. He is a musician, father, and Managing Partner of Cerberus Life Management, an addiction recovery services firm.[/box]

Mitchell-Gold-Recap

Happy Mentoring Month! The beginning of each new year not only gives us a chance to set goals for the future, it also offers an opportunity to reflect on the past. We’re delighted to report that 2014 was a banner year here at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Here are just a few highlights, from awards and events to media sponsorships and emotional mentorship stories.

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peace-sign-39484_640The world witnessed its share of sadness in 2014. The cycle of senseless violence made us question our selves and our place in the world. Now, the start of a new year brings the promise of a new leaf. But the world isn’t cooperating. These past weeks have seen a violent attack in France, continued turmoil in the Middle East, and civil war in Eastern Europe. Misunderstanding blinds us to the right course of action, and stops us from peacefully seeking the route to understanding.

At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we have been searching for a way to make a positive impact, however modest. So in 2015, we’re going to Mentor Peace.

We mentor peace by opening our minds to new concepts. We mentor peace by fighting ignorance with education. Above all, we mentor peace by treating every person with care and respect we would show to a member of our families. Over the past few weeks, I interviewed a number of magnificent young people, from all corners of the globe, asking a simple question: “How will you mentor peace in 2015? What do you hope for in your country regarding peace?”

Fahad, Age 23, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
“I want to mentor peace by showing that world that regardless of what they see on the media, there are good people in all corners of the country.”

Kylie, Age 22, Ferguson, Missouri
“I will mentor peace by showing people that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by their character. I will do this by showing the world how successful people of color can be, regardless of stereotype.”

Lucy, Age 19, Paris, France
“I want to mentor peace by showing the world that together, non violent acts of protest can speak to millions in silence.”

Fatima, Age 25, Islamabad, Pakistan
“I want to show the world that violence is never right. I want to show the world that people who are violent will not win. The only way to fight violence is with peace. The only way to remember the lives of the innocent is with positivity. I want the world to know that the lives of the innocent children killed in my country will always be remembered. I will be peaceful for them.”

Mira, Age 22, Beirut, Lebanon
“My wish for peace in 2015 is for my country to see the beauty in all people. God has given us the ability to live in a beautiful country. We must also show that beauty through our actions.”

Mohammad, Age 29, United Arab Emirates
“I want to mentor peace by telling people to love all religions and respect everyone’s belief. We can do this by educating and really listening to each others point of view respectfully. Didn’t our prophets do the same?”

Tyrese, Age 8, Boston, Massachusetts
“I want to mentor peace by showing my friends books about all different cultures. This way, we can all be friends and get along.”

Martin, Age 26, Dublin, Ireland
“I want peace to be mentored through every step I take. I want peace to be mentored through the kind words I speak to people. I want peace to be mentored through politicians, because people pay attention when people in power practice peace.”

Miranda, London, UK
“I love people of all race religions and backgrounds. I want to take my knowledge and spread it like wildfire —that underneath our skin we are all the same!”

Carlo, Madrid, Spain
“I want the people of my country to have empathy on those who are poor, and mentor them into better health. I want to mentor and inspire people to help the less fortunate.”

Bahir, Damascus, Syria
“I want to mentor the world. I want to tell people; My country is beautiful. Even under violence, we still dance and love. If we can mentor dancing and love through hard times, we can help anyone get through a hard time.”

Let us mentor the world with powerful actions, showing that peace is greater than hatred and violence. Let us mentor society by demonstrating that peace can be found everywhere on earth. Let us mentor each other on the path to peace.

 

[box]About the Author

OMSF team member Marissa Ranahan is a student at the University of Hartford and hopes to pursue a career in writing.[/box]

New-Year_Resolutions_list

Every year, millions of people around the globe make New Year’s resolutions to better their lives.

Some of the most common goals are to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, learn a second language, and save money. These are all perfectly worthwhile ambitions. But there’s another resolution that should be added to the top of your list: to become a better mentor.

January is National Mentoring Month in the United States, and that’s a perfect way to kick off each new year. It’s a reminder that everyone needs the support of their friends and loved ones to succeed, and that each of us can become a better mentor to the people in our lives.

Becoming a mentor doesn’t necessarily mean working with a charity (although there are many fantastic volunteer mentorship opportunities). It doesn’t require a long-term commitment. Coworkers, family members, and friends can all use the support of a mentor from time to time. Opportunities arise daily—as long as we’re looking for them—to lend support and guidance, to bolster the best parts of each other.

This year, commit yourself to a new New Year’s resolution. And stay on track by staying in touch:

· Check out the OMSF archive and subscribe to the blog

· Become a fan of OMSF on Facebook

· Contact us about sharing your own mentorship story!

[box]I get so excited when I discover a unique mentoring story, whether it’s in the form of a book, song, show or film. Today OMSF is thrilled to feature Kay Goldstein, author of Star Child. It’s a fabulous adult/YA book that takes us on a journey of Terra and Marius—two star children trying to fit in. It’s a story is about confidence and loneliness, fears and obsessions.

January is National Mentoring Month so we are particularly glad to have this tale, which uses mentoring to counter the alienation and negative feelings that diminish the possibility of hope. We all need more hope, and we all need a mentor. I’d like to thank Kay for taking the time to write this piece for the OMSF blog, and I hope you’ll buy a copy of her book!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

As we begin the New Year and many of us think about making resolutions, I am reminded that all of us can use a little help achieving our goals. And one thing I learned from writing Star Child is that there is only one resolution that we really need: to be true to our selves. For if we know who we are and can nurture the very best and most unique parts of ourselves, then we will find a great satisfaction in our lives, our relationships, and our work. Any resolution that is not based in this truth is bound to fail, especially if it is designed just to please others.

The story of the star children offers inspiration as well as examples of how to get through difficult times, and how to realize one’s unique self. Both children recognized that they were different from the others. Both felt the pain of their “differentness,” even though they had caring adults and family around them. In fact, they were often pressured and even bullied to conform to the “norm.”

But each found a mentor who provided some special guidance. For Terra, it was the Ancient Mother; for Marius, it was the Baker: both appeared just when the characters most needed guidance. While different in their approaches and support, each provided similar assistance:

  • They were non-judging—that is, they were accepting of the young man and woman. The goal was not to change them into something more socially acceptable, but to help them develop their unique abilities so that they could share them with others.
  • They shared something of their own stories and experience, not all of which they were proud. In other words, they shared their common humanity.
  • Each encouraged Terra and Marius to trust themselves and to seek what they most desired.
  • Each had skills that they shared with Terra and Marius.
  • And finally, both the Ancient Mother and The Baker had great wisdom that allowed them to intervene in the lives of their community and those they mentored at critical times. Neither expected Marius or Terra to follow exactly in their footsteps but allowed them to find their own way with their guidance and support.

Kay Goldstein

Kay Goldstein

As the author of this story, I felt those characters help me understand how to write a book that was true to my own voice and self. When faced with the task of editing the final version of the story, I often imagined what the Ancient Mother or the Baker or even Terra might want to do or say. They ended up being my mentors too. It was only when the book was published that I realized that I was learning, at a much older age, many of the same lessons that Terra and Marius had learned.

January is National Mentoring Month. If you seek support, guidance, and good examples—no matter what your age—then seek out a mentor! You’d be surprised: they sometimes appear only once you have decided you need one. And consider offering your own gifts and skills to those around you. Everyone will benefit!

[box] About the Author

Kay Goldstein is the author of Star Child (Vineyard Stories), a spiritual fairy tale for adults and young adults and recipient of a 2013 Nautilus Book Award, as well as A Book Of Feasts, Stories and Recipes from American Celebrations, a James Beard Award nominee. Kay was formerly an editor for Zagat Restaurant Guides and founder of award-winning Proof of the Pudding, Atlanta’s first gourmet takeout store/restaurant and catering business offering innovative American and fusion foods. She is married to Buck Goldstein and has two grown children, dividing her time between Chapel Hill, NC, and Martha’s Vineyard, MA.[/box]

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[box]My dream for the Over My Shoulder Foundation has always been to support and encourage mentoring relationships. We do that by producing stories, events, music, and awards that pay tribute to our own mentors and tell their stories. The journey has been so rewarding, and we have been so very fortunate to meet amazing people committed to making the world a better place. We have featured unique people like the graffiti artist Toofly; author and former white supremacist Arno Michaelis; and the brilliant lawyer Rick Dyer, who overcame addiction and now practices in the same court where he was sentenced eight times! Our stories have come to life via Jordan Rich’s nationally syndicated radio show and have been able to tell our story on the website of the acclaimed jewelry company, Alex and Ani.

Today I’m pleased to announce OMSF’s relationship with a fabulous new movie, “All Saints.”  By the time I hit page twelve of the script I could already hear the songs, drenched in mentoring, with a movie score that could inspire hope and mentorship. The producer, Martha Chang, is a long-time friend. Back in the 1990’s we watched a little film project of ours—called 3 Ninjas—come to life and take flight! I’m blessed that this friendship has flourished all these years, and I am truly honored to be working with her again on this amazing project!

—Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

The Reverend Michael Spurlock and his congregation at All Saints Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, know that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

And so does mentoring, as they have come to find out. Spurlock helped a group of impoverished Southeast Asian refugees make their home in the United States while they showed him how to save his dying church at the same time. Now their story is on its way to becoming both a Hollywood movie and an innovative mentoring opportunity.

In 2007, Spurlock made a midlife career change and became an Episcopal priest. His first assignment was to move to Smyrna and close down All Saints, which had lost most of its congregation to a more conservative rival Anglican church. That’s when an unexpected influx of new worshippers appeared: seventy Karen refugees from Myanmar (also known as Burma), Christians forced to flee their country or face possible death.

Rather than sell All Saints, as he had been ordered to do, Spurlock decided to revive the church by utilizing the Karen’s skills as farmers. Despite many formidable obstacles—including drought, floods, lack of equipment and money, and skeptical church superiors—the plan worked. The church was saved, restored to health by this infusion of committed congregants.

A piece about the small miracle in Smyrna appeared in a Nashville newspaper and came to the attention of Steve Gomer, a TV and film director on the lookout for a special kind of story.

“There was a writer I had worked with closely and we wanted to find something to do with a clergy person,” Gomer said by phone from his summer vacation in Vermont. “We thought it would be a good area. I had done some research. When you read about studies that have done with clergy, you see there are similar problems. The kids have problems, the spouses have problems, and they deal with interesting life or death things. We found this article about what happened at All Saints and started looking into that. The more we found out about it the more interesting it became.”

Producer Martha Chang was also keen to work with Gomer—but she was dubious when Gomes told her about the All Saints idea.

“It actually started with Steve saying there are all these Karens in Tennessee,” Chang recalled from her home in Los Angeles. “And I said, ‘No, I think all the Koreans are here in Koreatown in L.A.’ And he said, ‘No, the Ka-RIN, K-A-R-E-N.’  It turns out they’re a minority group from Burma and they’ve been going through a form of genocide, although I believe that’s calmed down quite a bit now. They had been brought here as political refugees.

“Steve said, ‘I think this is a story you’ll really like. It’s about a priest.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I’m not sure I want to do a movie about a priest right now.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s really about faith.’

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On Friday evening, September 5, Over My Shoulder Foundation Executive Director Dawn Carroll was thrilled to present Boston design legend Yolanda Cellucci with the second annual “Designing the Next Generation Award” during a VIP reception at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation.

The “Designing the Next Generation Award” spotlights the importance of mentoring across generations and cultural barriers—not only to the field of design, where it is vital, but also to the work of creating a better society. Founded by OMSF in 2013, in partnership with the Cumar Marble and Granite, the award’s inaugural recipient was Governor Michael Dukakis.

For more than four decades, Yolanda Cellucci has worked tirelessly to translate movie-star glamour from the runway and the red carpet to the streets of America. In that time, she has mentored more than her share of young women and men: fashion designers, interior designers, and local media fixtures—as well as a familiar face.

“Like so many young women, I launched my career at her store,” explains Dawn Carroll. “She ignited confidence in me that women could be powerful business leaders, glamorous wives, and nurturing mothers. Yolanda was a wonderful mentor.”

Friday night also marked the opening of “Yolanda: Innovative Fashion Icon; 50 Years of High Heels, Headpieces, and Haute Couture” an exhibit of high-fashion gowns that features an all-star lineup of twentieth century designers. Curated by Cellucci herself, the exhibit includes several items from her private collection.

Here are just a few scenes from the event, courtesy of photographer Jim Canole:

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OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll and Yolanda Celluci
Yolanda Cellucci (L) with OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll (R)

Waltham, MA – Featuring the designs of Oscar de la Renta, Bob Mackie, Stephen Yearick, Givenchy, and other fashion visionaries of the twentieth century, “Yolanda: Innovative Fashion Icon; 50 Years of High Heels, Headpieces, and Haute Couture” opens to the public on September 8. Hosted by The Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, this special exhibit is curated by Boston icon Yolanda Cellucci.

On Friday, September 5, Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) Executive Director, will present Yolanda Cellucci with the second annual “Designing the Next Generation” award during a VIP preview of the exhibit. The award, co-sponsored by OMSF and Cumar Marble & Granite, honors those who cross generations and cultures to mentor the leaders of tomorrow, and was last presented to Governor Michael Dukakis.

“Like so many young women, I launched my career at her store,” explains Dawn Carroll. “I learned show production and how to navigate the world of glamorous luxury brands. Under her guidance, I learned how to work with political figures, newscasters, and celebrities. We all learned how to be ladies, how to be professional, how to work with all kinds of people. She ignited confidence in me that women could be powerful business leaders, glamorous wives, and nurturing mothers. She demanded that you respect yourself and be the very best that you could be. Yolanda was a wonderful mentor.”

Yolanda Cellucci founded her famed bridal salon with just a handful of dresses in 1968 and built it into a local institution. She brought couture fashion to the conservative streets of Boston. Forward thinkers like Yolanda sparked the imaginations of designers of all kinds to explore couture, bringing the glitz of Cher and glam of Bob Mackie to the woman on the street.

By the time Yolanda Cellucci closed her shop in 2009, the business included a bridal salon, bridesmaid and couture boutiques, children’s wear, and a full-service beauty salon and spa.

 

[box]More Details

September 5: VIP opening reception, 6 p.m., at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, $25.
The reception includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and the “Designing the Next Generation” award ceremony. To purchase tickets, visit yolandavip.eventbrite.com.

September 8: Public opening of the exhibit. There is a suggested donation of $10.

October 16: Special exhibit talk with Cellucci at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, 6 p.m., $25. To purchase tickets, visit yolandatalkcrmi.eventbrite.com.

November 20: Special exhibit talk with Sondra Celli at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation, 6 p.m., $25. To purchase tickets, visit sondracellicrmi.eventbrite.com.

For more information, visit crmi.org.[/box]

 

Having It All

6267365751_bb19f7fc47_oAnne-Marie Slaughter, photo © PopTech

[box]When women are asked if they think they can “have it all,” many will say yes. A few usually say, maybe not. It’s still so hard for women to juggle high-pressure careers, family, mental health, friends, and hobbies. They have to stay emotionally stable, stay physically fit, nourish a marriage—oh yeah, then there’s soccer, gymnastics, hockey games…. Can you do it without a team of experts, a house manager, a Nanny, a stay-at-home dad? I personally side with those that say Nope! I could not do it—though maybe I could pretend. But inevitably, something would break. Something would be compromised. When I watch brave women trying to have it all, I can’t help but wonder…

Reading the now-infamous Atlantic article by Anne-Marie Slaughter, I was so relieved: here was a very successful woman admitting that there was a problem. I stopped feeling weak, stopped wondering if the grass really was greener. I asked today’s writer, Erica Korff, to give me her view because, when I was her age, there was no stopping me. I was determined to destroy the glass ceiling. Sliding comfortably into my 50s, I wonder whether I should have done things a little differently.

Join the conversation and let us know what you think!

—Dawn Carroll, Executive Director[/box]

“You’ve got the power.” It’s a simple motivational quote one hears throughout their lifetime. “You can be anything you want to be.” It’s what young adults today heard from their parents. But did every kid really grow up with these ubiquitous sayings?

Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, grew up in a family whose beliefs were rather different. Her experience shines light on the realities of women and the struggle for equality.

In an interview, Indra talked about her mother’s reaction to her becoming the CEO of Pepsi. One would think that such a high position would garner praise and celebration. “Let the news wait,” Indra’s mother said. “Can you go out and get some milk?” That was her reaction to this life-changing news. “Let me explain something to you,” her mother said. “You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

When Indra was asked in a more recent interview if women can “have it all,” her response reflected her mother’s beliefs and perspective. “I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all.”

Indra went into further detail, explaining the challenges of balancing work with her personal life. To her way of thinking, one must choose what they are going to be at a certain time—a mother, a daughter, a wife, or a worker. One cannot be all of those things in a single moment. Perhaps this is true. But does it really mean that women can’t have it all?

“Having it all” may mean something different for each person, but that fact doesn’t mean it can’t be achieved. Indra’s mother told her that she never had a crown to take home—but Indra did have that crown. It’s a sign that the times are changing. Still, “having it all” does not necessarily mean taking on multiple roles at the same time. One chooses, as from a basket. In Indra’s basket were a husband, two daughters, and a rewarding job. Indra may have to pick and choose at times. But that doesn’t mean Indra hasn’t succeeded; it only means she picks one role at a time, depending on the moment. In the end, she carries them all together.

I decided to ask my mother if she thinks that women can have it all. She has been extremely successful in her career, acting as the Executive Sales Manager for New England Home Magazine. I asked whether she had a mentor. She said she did not. Despite that, her views on the question are rather positive.

“I think that women can have it all,” she said. “I think everyone’s definition can be different. I think having it all can be hopefully having a loving relationship, a family, a job, and friends, and making it all work. It’s harder for women because that’s just the way it is; men don’t have to have that added pressure of ‘Oh I have to take care of the kids,’ so it’s a lot on a woman. I do think women can have it all but it is challenging.”

Next I interviewed my great-grandmother, who turns 102 this September. She’s an amazing woman: intelligent, funny, and very with it. She became a widow at a young age, and had to support the family on her own. An extremely hard worker, she now writes stories to share her successes and accomplishments. When I asked her about having a mentor, and what she thought about women having it all, she told me:

“I had Rabbi Zigmond who sponsored me when I worked at Harvard years ago. He supported me and motivated me. Having a job and having a family are two separate loves. Women can raise a family and have a good job, because it’s not the same kind of love for the work and for the family, but they both can get along.”

The women in my family seem to believe that women can have it all, but they recognize the same difficulties that Indra Nooyi described. It may not be easy, and it may require balance and a plan—but if you believe in yourself and work hard, it can all work out. You’ve got the power!

[box] Pure bliss is the only way I can describe the feeling when I get to thank the people who helped me in my career and life. So many people have shared and invested their time, wisdom, and expertise. Prior to starting this foundation, I spent most of my time tucked away in my office, writing. Then, without warning, something awful snuck up and polluted my creative ecosystem. The plug was suddenly pulled on my creative energy, and I hadn’t even completed my project. It was a ridiculous case of writers block! Desperate to get back the fire, I signed up for a class at Boston’s Pine Manor College MFA Program (founded by writer Dennis Lehane). The class was taught by a charming man named Michael Steinberg, who reviewed my writing, giggled at my frustrations and my plans, and told me that one of the “many” reasons my memoir wasn’t working “just yet” was—the end hadn’t taken place!

He told me to put my notebooks away and write something else for a while. He said that I couldn’t force my pages to fall into perfect alignment if I wanted any kind of authenticity, and that I could not cheat this project by crafting a quick (fictional)  resolution. It was the hardest, most honest advice I ever got. I had to wait—patiently—for the story of my life to develop. To a control freak like me, this wasn’t easy. I nearly threw the manuscript off the cliffs of Zuma Beach. But I didn’t. Instead, I packed it away and fiddled with some lyrics, which eventually became songs, which inspired the founding of the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

It has been years since I looked at that manuscript. Last weekend, curiosity started to burn. I rummaged through the antique chest, that premature coffin to my thousands of pages of notes. A lot has happened since I last tried to write my ending, though. So now I’m searching for a completely different one, inspired by OMSF! Then, after dusting off the manuscript, a funny thing happened—I got an email from Mike. Since I started the Foundation, I have been begging him to share his story on our blog. And now, finally, ladies and gentleman, I am so pleased to introduce one of my most important mentors, Michael Steinberg!

—Dawn Carroll, Executive Director [/box]

MJSWe encounter our most influential mentors, it seems, when we’re ready to receive them. In my case, it happened shortly after I began teaching freshman composition. In the late 60’s, all comp teachers were required to plan their courses according to an outmoded, prescriptive syllabus, one that required teachers to assign their writing students to produce a series of papers. Among them were a narrative, a descriptive essay, an argument, an expository essay, a piece of literary analysis, and a final term paper based solely on library research. This methodology had been in place since the late nineteenth century. It is a narrow, wrong-headed view of what writing is all about. But back then, there was no other option.

Around that same time, I happened to come across a book, A Writer Teaches Writing, by Donald Murray, someone of whom I’d never heard. Murray’s book advocates an inside/out approach to teaching composition. I was immediately drawn to his philosophy. And it kick-started what would over time become my transformation from writing teacher to teaching writer.

Donald Murray was one of the first writing teachers in this country to suggest that the teaching of writing (and literature) had been, for far too long, the exclusive territory of professional critics, researchers, and literature teachers—many of whom, though they might admire writing and literature, do not themselves write.

We didn’t know it back then, but this was the beginning of what would evolve into both the writing process and teacher-as-writer movements. From the late 60’s to the early 90’s these movements changed the way that introductory college writing was taught. In addition, Murray’s work sparked a renewed interest in the teaching of the personal essay, which helped foster the rise of what we’re now calling creative or literary nonfiction.

But now I’m getting ahead of myself.

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[box]Over My Shoulder is thrilled to introduce a new writer, Erica Korff. Erica attends the University of New Hampshire and will be graduating in the Spring of 2015 with a Bachelors Degree in communications and writing. Her interests include journalism, blogging, and broadcasting. Living in Boston for the summer, Erica will be offering positive and uplifting stories for mentees and mentors. Today writes about mentorship, business, and mental health. Please help us welcome Erica, and check out her personal blog!

Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director [/box]

mental health: noun 1. a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.

What can you say about your mental health? Do you consider it to be strong and positive? Do you consider it to be healthy?

Whether you’re a young entrepreneur or an experienced business owner, it’s important to sustain good mental health. Carrying all that pressure on your shoulders can be tiring and stressful. It’s important to balance that weight in order to maintain your peace of mind—and, most importantly, to be happy.

Breathing exercises and exercise are good for your all-around health, but having a mentor by your side will also strengthen and stabilize your mental health, in and out of the workplace.

A confident, independent person might be thinking: why would I consider having a mentor? Owning a business, founding an organization, or simply putting yourself to work can stress the mind and body. It isn’t a bad thing to spend time working hard—not necessarily. But it’s important to manage your mental health in the process. That’s where mentorship comes in. Here are three mental health benefits of having a mentor:

1. Advice In Any Situation
A mentor isn’t a manager, someone above who tells you what to do. A mentor provides an outlet to lessen the pressure. Whether it’s an issue with a project or with a fellow colleague, a mentor can advise you to help solve these problems. Having an independent yet experienced perspective can help you sort out obstacles in the workplace. Being able to share your problems and brainstorm solutions with an experienced mentor will strengthen your resolve, ease the pressure, and clear your mind of undue negativity.

2. Someone You Can Trust
Having a mentor with similar interests and a compatible personality builds a sense of trust. With a carefully-chosen mentor, there exists a bond of support. Sometimes it’s difficult to take orders; sometimes it’s difficult to give them. With a mentor offering suggestions and guidance, it can be easier to recognize good advice. A trusted mentor helps you listen, digest, and take action. This strengthens your mental health by lessening the stress of ongoing projects.

3. A Port in the (Entrepeneurial) Storm
Starting a company can be exhilarating. Will your idea sell? Will people visit your site? Will you be able to live on what you earn? Despite the fact that you’re starting a business on your own, however, you don’t have to be on your own. A mentor who is experienced in building great ideas can calm the nerves. They can review your ideas and processes, give feedback, and dole out the “tough love” when needed. A mentor can guide you through the storm of entrepreneurship, settling your mind as well as your emotions.

[box]About the Author

Erica Korff attends the University of New Hampshire and will be graduating in the Spring of 2015 with a major in Communications and a minor in writing. Her interests include news writing, blogging, and broadcasting. Living in Boston for the summer, Erica will be blogging positive and uplifting messages for mentees and mentors. [/box]

1. LisaFischerHeadshot2

[box] “All alone, on my knees I pray / For the strength to stay away / In and out, out and in you go / I feel your fire / Then I lose my self control /How can I ease the pain / When I know your coming back again / And how can I ease the pain in my heart.”

I am so excited to be have the opportunity to share singer Lisa Fischer’s mentoring story with you today.

Lisa is one of my music heros and it is an honor to feature her at the Over My Shoulder Foundation. Her hit song, “How Can I Ease the Pain,” was the soundtrack to my life during a tricky break-up while I was living in Los Angeles. I listened to it over and over while I re-grounded myself. I knew and felt every word, and wished that I could write beautiful lyrics for Lisa to one day sing. With eloquence and ease, her voice soars, an takes you away from your worried world. Her gift has been a sanctuary for me.

Many years ago, in Boston, Lisa and I briefly met. She was touring with the Rolling Stones, and had just gotten off stage and come back to her hotel. I happened to be in the Lobby. Lisa and I had mutual friends, so she came over to the table to say hello. I was completely star-struck but managed to blurt out, “ Your singing saved me. One day I want to write a song for you to sing!” She smiled and said, “Well then do it!” I doubt she remembers that night, and while this post may not be a song written for, her story is one you soon won’t forget. If you have seen Lisa on tour with the Stones or in the film “20 Feet From Stardom,” then you know what an unforgettable spirit she is!

Dawn Carroll, OMSF Executive Director[/box]

 

Lisa Fischer has spent most of her life standing “20 Feet From Stardom,” as the title of this year’s Oscar-winning documentary film puts it. Most of her fellow-background singers in the film ached for the spotlight to shine on them. But not Fischer.

“I never feel like I’m relegated to the background,” she said by phone from her home in New York City during a break from the Rolling Stones current world tour. “I don’t know how other singers feel, but for me, I just love background so much. I really enjoy watching artists who love what they do and need someone to support them. So for me it’s a beautiful journey. I’ve been really lucky and blessed to be with amazing artists who I love and respect.”

LisaFischerHeadshotFischer has had her taste of chart success, awards and, yes, the spotlight. Her rendition of “How Can I Ease the Pain,” a song she also co-wrote, was a smash hit that won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 1992. Rolling Stones concerts feature a rendition of “Gimme Shelter” where Mick Jagger moves over and “backup singer” Lisa takes over with houseshaking effect. She also moves to the front of the stage when she tours with Tina Turner: after going toe to toe with the volcanic Tina on “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll,” the duet turns into a solo showcase for Lisa’s powerhouse pipes.

Yet somehow these small samplings of the limelight have not instilled a gnawing hunger in Fischer for more fame, more money, more of everything. She has found joy and contentment helping others shine.

Fischer’s story begins in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, where she started on her musical path as a child. “My mom sang a lot at home,” she recalled. “My dad sang a lot at home, too. My grandparents bought us a piano and we would just sing. It was part of life. And I’d sing at school, elementary school, high school, college. It was just an extension of the life they started for me.”

By the time she finished junior high school she was dreaming of a career in music, thanks to the guidance of an educator who recognized her talent.

“There was a teacher named Dennis Moore,” Fischer said. “He’s the brother of Melba Moore. He was really kind and was interested in knowing what I wanted to do with my music. I was, ‘Oh, I don’t know.’ And he gave me the idea of auditioning for [New York City’s] Music & Art High School.  He helped me choose songs for the audition. He gave me piano lessons and didn’t charge me. He was just patient because I was just a kid, insane, and didn’t know what I wanted to do. He was just lovely. He could see me so clearly. That was just beautiful. And so I went on to Music & Art and then Queens College and just started working in clubs after that.”

Enter the man who would become Fischer’s mentor: Luther Vandross, who spent years touring and recording as a background singer before breaking out as a solo star. 

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mentor-tips

Most importantly, make good use of both your and their time.

We’ve used our Over My Shoulder Foundation blog to share some helpful tips for how to be a good mentor, but we haven’t really discussed the other part of this important relationship: how to be a good mentee. To get the most out of your mentor/mentee relationship, we wanted to share some helpful tips for mentees:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your mentor has willingly entered into this relationship and is more than happy to help you in any way that he can; however, your mentor will not know how he can help you unless you ask.
  • Touch base on a regular basis. Even if you have nothing new or exciting to report, keeping the channel of communication open is essential. This could be as simple as dropping your mentor a note to keep her in the loop about an upcoming seminar that you plan to attend or sharing a news article where your business was mentioned.
  • Be focused and prepared for your meetings. Since both your time and your mentor’s is precious, plan to get the most out of your meetings by being focused on the task at hand and prepared when getting together.
  • Retain confidentiality. Sometimes your mentor will share information with you that is only for your ears to hear, so keep his trust by keeping this information confidential.
  • Follow-up with your mentor on her suggestions. This will help your mentor to see that you appreciate the knowledge and wisdom that she is sharing with you and that you are executing on these shared strategies.

To learn more tips for mentees and the powerful impact that a strong mentor/mentee relationship can have, please contact us the Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Forgiveness

13328459305_198b4641c1_zImage © Craig Sunter

“I thought forgiveness was important for anyone to move forward in life. But most importantly, forgiveness is for ourselves! Just like many spiritual teachers stress. Oprah, in one of her life classes, taught about the art of forgiveness and how its practice enriches the mind, body, and soul. Freedom and forgiveness go hand in hand. When it’s in full swing, you can now put the past behind you. As someone once said; “When the past comes knocking, don’t answer, it doesn’t have anything new to say.”

So true! Here are two quotes I found on Oprah’s Life Class website, and incorporated my own words, enjoy.

“The knowledge of the past stays with us. To let go is to release the emotions, the grudges, the pain and sorrow that hold us back. Forgiveness is not something you do for someone else, it’s something you do for yourself. And once you forgive, you feel free.”   [box] About the Author Marissa Ranahan is a student at the University of Hartford. She hopes to pursue a career in writing.[/box] Marissa Ranahan

 

mentor-oprah

Even Oprah has benefited from having a mentor.

If you take a closer look at some of the most successful people throughout history, I bet you would find that the majority had a mentor or two along the way that made a positive impact on their lives. Harvard recently released a list of some of the most powerful people in the world, and I found it particularly interesting to see who some of these listed as their mentors. Read through this list of famous mentors yourself and see if you have the same feeling:

  • Oprah Winfrey: Mentored by Mrs. Duncan, her 4th grade teacher.
  • General Colin Powell: Mentored by his father, Luther Powell.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King: Mentored by Benjamin E. Mays
  • Henry David Thoreau: Mentored by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Quincy Jones: Mentored by Ray Charles
  • Mitch Albom: Mentored by Morrie Schwartz (Tuesdays with Morrie)

And while the following mentoring relationships are fictional, Hollywood can’t help but demonstrate how a strong mentor can positively shape a person:

  • Luke Skywalker: Mentored by Obi-Wan Ben Kenobi (Star Wars)
  • Harry Potter: Mentored by Professor Dumbledore
  • US President Josiah Bartlet: Mentored by Dr. Benjamin E. Mays (West Wing)

As you can see, this list of famous mentors includes interesting pairs that bring together diverse backgrounds, both across differing generations and areas of expertise. At the Over My Shoulder Foundation, we believe that this type of mentoring relationship can be mutually beneficial to both the mentor and mentee and therefore strive to raise the awareness of “Mentorology.” Please contact us to learn more about our organization and how you can become involved.

Image Source:  Alan Light

 

Newest Miss Representation Trailer (2011 Sundance Film Festival Official Selection).

I am worried about the future of women. If you don’t understand, I don’t blame you—but if you’re a woman, go find a mirror. Take a long look at yourself. What is the first feature you notice about yourself? Likely it’s a physical trait. Is your reflection starting to get foggy? Are you comparing yourself to someone else in society? Many women’s mirrors fog up because they are comparing themselves to airbrushed advertisement models and societal images of what is “beautiful.”  I imagine a 13-year-old woman opening a beauty magazine, then tugging at her thighs and dreaming that “life would magically be better” if she only had that “majestic” thigh gap so many girls desire. This “foggy mirror” image of young women is why I am worried for the future.

However, there is some solace in knowing that I am not the only one who’s worried. A new documentary, Miss Representation, looks about how women are misrepresented and influenced by the mainstream media. A particularly exciting segment of the film focuses on “minute mentoring,” in which young women go from one successful women to another, asking for mentoring advice from each one.

“Women have the desire to be mentored,” says Jessica Shambora, one of the brains behind this mentoring initiative. “When women mentor each other, it is really powerful.” The girls in this film listen attentively to the women that spoke to them. Many of the girls said they felt empowered afterward, and energized simply by meeting successful women who take an interest in mentoring them.

However, girls still feel tension between their intellectual ability and their appearance.

“There is no appreciation for women intellectuals. It’s all about the body, not about the brain,” says Ariella, a high school student. “When is it going to be enough?” asks Maria, another high school student featured in the documentary.

Miss Representation shows how young women feel the constant pressures of the media: the sexualization of women in advertisements, the obsession over weight, the negative effects of social media. All play a key role in distorting the self-image of young women. But positive media can act as a mentor to clear up the fog.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the director of the film, has done a fabulous job creating awareness through cinematography. She imagines a world when her daughter can be confident with her own image, but also recognizes that we have a long way to go. The film features prominent women such as Rachel Maddow, Condoleezza Rice, and Jane Fonda, speaking about their experiences with media distortion through supposedly benign weight jokes, “bitch” jokes, and negative stereotyping. It’s time women ask themselves, When is it going to be enough?

Miss Representation has started many (positive) media campaigns to help raise awareness about this topic. “The Representation Project” on YouTube has videos about the media’s effect on young women. The videos are simple and appropriate for girls of all ages. The film’s website has several ways young women can get involved in the body-positive movement. It also features “media positive” advertisements for girls to watch and compare with mainstream ads—I call this media positive mentoring. If we show young women that their worth is not about their waistline or their appearance, a generation of women intellectuals can be nurtured. It’s time that young woman became just as “obsessed” about being a senator as they are about makeup products.

Everyone can be a media-positive mentor for the young women in our lives by asking girls questions about issues that really matter, by showing them that not all girls are judged by their appearance, by teaching them about successful women past and present, and by showing them how to break down barriers and stereotypes. One of the mentors from the Minute Mentoring program summed up their message simply: “To thy own self be true.”

Visit the Miss Representation web site and click on the link “Take Action” to find more ways to get involved.

 

[box]About the Author

Marissa Ranahan is a student and staff writer for OMSF.[/box]

[box]Singer-songwriter-mentor-performer-mother-philanthropist-healer: meet  my beautiful friend, rock icon Robin Lane. Like many aspiring female rockers, I sat glued to MTV ( when it was actually about music) waiting for my favorite videos. One of theses was by Robin Lane & The Chartbusters—their big song, “When Things Go Wrong.”  Years later Robin still writes, sings, and performs. She also dedicates much of her time to supporting people when things go wrong in their lives. Her nonprofit organization, Songbird Sings, uses songwriting and music to mentor people who have been through difficult experiences, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

Now Robin Lane’s life story is about to come to the big screen, in a new film by Tim Jackson—named after the big song—and we are very pleased to have Larry Katz interview Robin just a few days before the movie premiere and benefit this Friday, April 4, at the Regent Theater in Arlington, MA.[/box]

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 12.46.14 PM“When Things Go Wrong,” the new film about Robin Lane, includes all the elements you expect to find in the story of a rock musician’s life.

Troubled childhood? Check.

Wild teen years? Check.

A shot at stardom with a major label record deal? Check.

The band’s breakup and the hard times that inevitably follow? Double check.

It’s all there in “When Things Go Wrong,” a new film which will be seen for the first time on Friday, April 4 at 7 p.m. at the Regent Theater in Arlington, MA, a premiere benefit screening that will include a live performance by Lane and her former band, the Chartbusters.

But—spoiler alert—the movie does not end with either the rehab stint or triumphant comeback found in your typical “Behind the Music”-style rock doc. These days Lane, the queen of the Boston new wave scene circa 1980, has found a new venue for her voice and guitar: leading songwriting workshops as a way to help victims of sexual and domestic abuse, at-risk teenagers, prison inmates, and the elderly.

While what Lane does in her workshops is a form of music therapy, she is quick to point out that she is neither a therapist nor a counselor.

“I’m a facilitator,” she said from her rural home in Western Massachusetts. “I facilitate these situations where people can, through songwriting, find a key out of their dilemma—a key to their own healing capabilities. My role is really just to help them find a way to write a song, to help them to heal themselves and get out of whatever they’re in that’s dangerous and not good for their lives.”

It’s not a job she consciously pursued, at least not at first, but it’s one that Lane has found herself eminently well-qualified for. Music, after all, had always been her own lifeline.

“I’d been writing songs for years,” she said, “and didn’t realize why. I’d always loved music, but if I hadn’t had songwriting I would be scared to think of what would have happened to me.”

Lane’s life story has more than its share of mental and physical hurt. Distant parents. Sexual assault. Domestic violence. Divorce. And a tantalizingly close, ultimately frustrating brush with stardom. When the first two Robin Lane and the Chartbusters albums failed to sell as much as expected, the band was tossed aside by their label, Warner Brothers. And after Lane gave birth to a daughter, Evangeline, she found she was no longer considered a serious contender in the male chauvinist rock world of the 1980s.

“I raised my child,” Lane said of her post-Chartbusters years. “Got married again. Had a couple of dogs. Played around. Made the ‘Catbird’ CD [ed. 1995]. Then I got divorced, around 1999.”

And almost without realizing it, she was embarking on a new career as a songwriting mentor.

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[box] We are thrilled to feature this inspirational interview between Larry Katz and Sam Polk. It’s incredible the way a mentor at the right time can pry us open, leaving just enough space for the light to shine in, providing enough leverage for the next unexpected mentor to step up. Enjoy![/box]

 

Sam Polk

Sam. Photography courtesy of Sam Polk.

Would you walk away from a job that paid millions?

Sam Polk did.

Four years ago Polk was working for a Wall Street hedge fund. When he received a $3.8 million bonus on top of a $1.5 million salary, Polk reacted with anger. He demanded that his bosses increase his bonus to $8 million. They raised their offer, but only if he agreed to stay with the firm for several more years.

Polk refused. He said he didn’t want to make the commitment.

But the bonus amount wasn’t the reason Polk quit his job. He had come to believe he was an addict hooked on making money—and it didn’t feel good.

Polk tells his compelling story in “For the Love of Money,” an essay published in January on the front page of the New York Times’ Sunday Review. It attracted far more notice than he expected.

“I had no idea of the impact it would have,” Polk said from Los Angeles, where he has launched Groceryships, a non-profit he has co-founded with his wife to provide needy families with “scholarships for groceries.”

“I’ve gotten over 10,000 emails,” he said. “I’ve been interviewed and been on all these radio and TV shows. It’s been overwhelming and shocking.”

In his New York Times story, Polk outlines how he came to understand the wisdom of that old saying, “Money can’t buy happiness.” It wasn’t an easy lesson, especially since he grew up being told the exact opposite. Polk’s salesman father, he writes, “believed money would solve all his problems.” Then, while attending Columbia University, Polk read in “Liar’s Poker” how a young Michael Lewis made hundreds of thousands as a Wall Street bond trader. He somehow missed the book’s dark side.

“My heroes,” Polk said, “were people who had made billions of dollars and risen to the top of Wall Street.”

A very different set of heroes would emerge later in Polk’s life—unexpected mentors who would profoundly alter his definition of success and a well-lived life. We wanted to know more about these influences and Sam Polk was happy for the opportunity to tell us about them.

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Pictured (from left): Janice O'Leary, Denise Hajjar, Paula Daher, Dawn Carroll, Ivo Cubi, Carlotta Cubi, Jon Butcher, and Dave Connor. Photograph courtesy of Russ Mezikofsky.

Pictured (from left): Janice O’Leary, Denise Hajjar, Paula Daher, Dawn Carroll, Ivo Cubi, Carlotta Cubi, Jon Butcher, and Dave Connor. Photograph courtesy of Russ Mezikofsky.

On Monday, March 24, the Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) partnered with Cumar, purveyors of fine marble and granite, to present Charmed by Charity: Mentoring in the Music, Design and Fashion Industries.

The event was held at the Alex & Ani outpost on Boston’s trendy Newbury Street, and featured a mix of local celebrities, media, and mentoring supporters. Guests were treated to light fare and copious attention from the Alex & Ani staff, who were on hand to help customers choose from an array of beautiful bangles and bracelets.

Headquartered in Cranston, Rhode Island, Alex & Ani is known for their collection of meaningful jewelry that “adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit.” 15% of proceeds from the evening’s sales were donated directly to the Over My Shoulder Foundation; guests who purchased $100 or more in merchandise were treated to The Path of Life, a book of testimonies by Alex & Ani customers, who share the ways the positively-focused jewelry changed their lives for the better.

Janice O’Leary, health and wellness editor of the global luxury publication Robb Report, formerly editor-in-chief of Boston Common magazine, was the event’s emcee, which kicked off with a welcome from Dave Connor, CUMAR general manager and OMSF board member. Guests were also treated to a song put together especially for the event: “The Path of Life” was co-written by Grammy-nominated Boston rocker Jon Butcher and OMSF Executive Director Dawn Carroll, and was inspired by the Alex & Ani book of the same title.

After that, Amanda Frederick, assistant manager of Alex and Ani’s Boston location, discussed Charity by Design. Cumar’s executive vice president, Carlotta Cubi, and Paula Daher, principal of Paula Daher Design, talked about the importance of mentoring in the stone and interior design industries, respectively. Then stylista Denise Hajjar, of the eponymous boutique, shared her insights from the fashion industry.

Before she took the mic, Paula Daher mentioned just how important mentoring has been to her as her career’s progressed. “It took me awhile to find [a mentor],” she said, “And in fact, I never thought I would. It’s men who tend to hold positions at the pinnacle level.” In response, she says that she feels even more compelled to mentor—in particular, women—now that she’s established herself.

Janice Dowling, another area designer and instructor at Boston Architectural College, agreed, and added that, “It doesn’t matter how far along in your career you are, or how old you are. There’s always something to learn. Be a sponge. Ask questions. Be curious.” Which just goes to show: mentors are needed at every stage of life.

 

About the Author

Karyn Polewaczyk is a freelance writer living in Boston and a staff reporter on personal finance for the Boston Globe.

 

When we build a mentoring relationship, the way we show up for the other person can empower them to find their voice or it can unintentionally stifle their authentic expression. What does it take to create a space where another person, an adult man or a teenage boy, can dig deep and speak their own truth without the fear of being judged or being “told what to do?” What does it mean to really be there for and with a teenage boy? What can we do to invite him to discover and become the man he wants to be?

The Boys to Men Mentoring Network, which offers group mentoring programs for boys ages 12 to 17, has devised a simple yet elegant communication model that is at the heart of the mentoring relationship. Mentors and teens are taught to communicate consciously, using a model called LAAMB: listen, accept, admire, model, and bless.

This model is in direct contrast to the FRAP style of relating to which many men are socialized: fix, rescue, advise (unsolicited), and project.

Because men are often taught they need to “have the answer,” or “solve the problem,” it may be hard to just sit and listen to a teenage boy speak about his experience, especially when some of his choices or decisions are problematic. Yet when a man feels a need to give unsolicited advice, tell the boy what to do, or respond from his own discomfort with the boy’s path through life, he inadvertently clips the boy’s wings.

By giving a boy the space to share his experience authentically, without judgment or interruption, by looking for positive behaviors or actions that he can appreciate, and by responding with advice or feedback only when asked, a mentor shows his faith in a boy’s ability to find his way and to access resources only when he needs them. The mentor then also models a kind of humility that is also important for a young man to experience. There is so much pressure to know, to fix, and to figure things out—seeing that we don’t always know, can’t always fix things, and don’t always need to figure things out, provides a healthy balance. More importantly, the kinds of “solutions” that come out of the FRAP model are not even what is needed some of the time. Being truly heard and seen can be a very powerful gift.

A beautiful feature of the LAAMB communication model is that, once you understand the principles, it can be done without great effort. Men can mentor simply by being with a teen, rather than what they do for them. Many men shy away from mentoring teens for fear that they won’t know what to do, preventing them from showing up and supporting boys who simply need their presence and personal connection.

While an entire course could be given on all the elements of LAAMB and FRAP, understanding these important principles provides a way to create safety and trust in any relationship.

Boys to Men New England is having its 3rd Annual Benefit Concert at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston on Sunday, April 13.  This year’s theme is “Building Community Through Mentoring.” Keynote speakers are Marty Martinez, Executive Director of the Mass Mentoring Partnership, as well as Victor Martinez and Carlos Cordero, Founders of Boys to Men Lawrence.  Headliners include Geoff Bartley, the godfather of folk, and jazz diva Tracy Clark. Performers include teens as well as adults. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased through: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/535928. Donations of any amount are welcome. Checks payable to BTMNE can be sent to BTMNE c/o Linda Marks, 3 Central Avenue, Newton, MA 02460.  For more information contact Linda at 617-913-0683 or lsmheart@aol.com

[box]Linda Marks is Board Co-Chair of Boys to Men New England. A single mom, Linda found BTMNE 6 years ago as a resource for her then 12 year old son.[/box]

Why Should You Become a Mentor?

David Shapiro and Dawn Carroll

David Shapiro and Dawn Carroll

One of my earliest and most-treasured mentors is David Shapiro CEO of Mentor, “the unifying champion for expanding quality youth mentoring relationships in the United States.” I asked him to offer some reasons for becoming a mentor. Here’s what he told me:

“Currently, 1 in 3 young people reach age 19 without a mentor of any kind. Absent this critical guidance and support, an extraordinary amount is left to chance—and we are too often losing these children to hardship and hopelessness. It has been proven that young people with mentors both aspire to and reach college at a higher rate. They also have better self-esteem and they make better, more productive decisions.

“The more risk factors in a young person’s life, the less likely they are to connect to mentors ‘naturally.’ With such a powerful tool in our midst to improve the lives of young people, we have a responsibility to actively engage with them. We have to learn to notice the signs that a young person needs support and use what we know about quality mentoring to create and support them.

“It is for these reasons that Mentor was founded, more than twenty years ago. It has expanded from helping 300,000 young people in mentoring programs then, to helping 4.5 million today. It is our privilege to work to inform, connect, and fuel the mentoring movement in America—whether through the National Mentoring Month campaign in January, the National Mentoring Summit, our work on advocacy and policy to advance integration and support for mentoring, or our work to help get practitioners the best information from researchers to make their programs of the highest quality.”

As we celebrate National Mentoring Month, I hope you will share in the mentoring spirit. Consider making mentorship a part of your life. Mentoring shatters barriers that separate generations of people and cultures. Mentoring fosters respect, diversity, culture, and individuality. Mentoring develops the talent of our youth, who will then have the leadership skills to amend our social and economic woes.

This is the essence of Mentorology. We hope that you will become a mentorologist too, and help spread the good word of mentoring!

—Dawn Caroll, Over My Shoulder Director

[box]Recently, I was invited to write a guest post for the blog of Alex & Ani, a company that “offers eco-friendly, positive energy products that adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit.” It was thrilling to be able to highlight the importance of mentorship for their community. Here is the complete text of the post, which you can also find at the Alex & Ani website.

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Director[/box]

Picture 1A few years ago I was asked to help write a song for a very talented thirteen year old to sing with her mentor, singing legend Patti Austin. The challenge was to find subject matter that was both appropriate and authentic, something teenagers and adults could relate to. I was given a musical formula by the managers: take a base of Taylor Swift, blend it with Adele, and decorate it with some Carly Simon – with that, I was supposed to cook up a delicious song with multi-generational appeal.

Initially, I laughed about the assignment. It was like being asked to write the spell that turns lead into gold. I said to myself, “If I can write that story/song, I could retire tomorrow!” However, I enjoy a daunting task and attacked it with relish. At the time I happened to be with my niece, Meghan, so I asked her to help me. Together, we came up with many ideas in just a few hours, but there was one idea that kept me up that night.

When I was trying to make it big in Hollywood, I was working for a music management company. They represented, among others, New Kids on the Block (hey, they were pretty big at the time!) as well as singing legend Patti Austin. One time, Patti was asked to describe the recipe of her own success. She simply replied, “Mentors.”

That word kept coming back to me as I was working on this new song. I have jokingly told people that it only took 15 minutes to write a duet for Patti to sing with this young lady, but truth be told, the song had been marinating inside me for more than two decades. That’s how I came to write “Over My Shoulder.” The message of the song is simple: two voices, two generations, each one inspired by, supportive of, and paying tribute to the other.

This was the very first song I ever wrote, and at 48 years old, it was also a lifelong dream come true. The song was a hit! It initiated vibrant conversations amongst powerful leaders both young and old, and something stirred inside me as well. Jimi Hendrix, my musical hero, once said, “If there is something to be changed in the world, it can only be done through music.” I felt that I could create music, tell stories and produce events that could spotlight mentorship, to promote positive change in the world by encouraging people to care for each other.

I believe that there is nothing more dangerous than hopelessness. Mentoring is our most powerful weapon in the fight against it as well as poverty, ignorance, and hatred. We all need to become life-navigators and be open to them. It is up to all of us to design the next generation, to instill hope into the future. Without it, we become disconnected as individuals and lost as a society.

The Alex and Ani story is a perfect example of the power of mentorship. Like many of you, I gravitated to its positive energy and ethos of continuity, “inspired by the wisdom of ancient thinkers,” as the company’s biography reads. I discovered that Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder and Creative Director, created Alex and Ani to carry her family’s legacy forward, to fulfill the vision of her father. She did this not only for its own sake (and all of ours!), but for her daughters’ as well.

The Alex and Ani mission is mentorship writ large: history and values being passed across three generations and likely more to come. Mentoring truly is a life force without which none of us can thrive. It helps the next generation take over and succeed. It allows the spiritual side of passion to flourish and let a living history be passed on.

I cofounded the Over My Shoulder Foundation to shed light on these important examples of mentorship in music, design, and elsewhere. As Executive Director of OMSF, having collected dozens of stories like this, I have come to learn how important mentoring is to people. It spans across age, class and race, defying innumerable social divisions. Mentoring is a healing and hopeful force that reconnects the disconnected. Mentoring stimulates creative thinking, and it will be creative minds that will move us all toward a society of greater inclusion, integrity and value.

 

[box]“I did not know where my life would go…” That’s one of the lyrics from the song that inspired this foundation, “Over My Shoulder.” It happens to be one that I did not write—but I love it the most! Most of us think we know exactly where we are going and then… a surprise comes along and before you know it, you’re in the middle of a mesmerizing experience you never saw coming.

Today we feature a story on reporter Stanley Roberts, who was investigating a story when, out of the blue, his whole life changed. He had stumbled upon something breathtaking. Then his small town story shot around the world and he had everyone, from CNN reporters to people like me, chasing him down to learn more.

Stanley had re-connected two former best friends—international Rock Star Carlos Santana and Marcus the Magnificent, his brilliant but homeless band mate. The powerful mentor-centric energy in this story blew my mind. I wanted to know—why did Stanley pursue this story? What did he hear in the tale of Marcus the Magnificent that so inspired him?

You’ve probably seen the moment when Stanley reconnects Carlos Santana with his old best friend. We wanted to tell you more about Stanley, who took it upon himself to assemble a team to help a person in need of hope and restoration.

It’s the first week of a new year, also the beginning of National Mentoring Month. So I entreat you to adopt a simple habit, to be a little more like Stanley: when you see a new person, ask yourself, “What do I see that this person can be?” I call this habit of mind “Designing the Next Generation.”

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Director

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Stanley Roberts

Stanley Roberts

As the TV newsman responsible for “People Behaving Badly,” a nightly feature on KRON 4 in San Francisco, Stanley Roberts has been called a lot of names, most of them not very nice. So he’s amazed that many people, including rock star Carlos Santana, are now calling him “an angel from God.”

A week before Christmas, Roberts played the pivotal part in reuniting Carlos and his long-forgotten percussionist, Marcus “The Magnificent” Malone. The two had not seen one another in forty-five years. The touching story of this unlikely reunion first aired on KRON and quickly spread around the globe.

Roberts encountered Malone by chance. He was homeless, reduced to picking through the trash, and claimed in a televised segment that he was a founding member of the world-renowned Santana band. That might have been the end of the story—but Carlos Santana happened to catch the segment. Santana reached out to Roberts to help him reconnect with his old bandmate. Now the two are actively involved in getting Malone off the streets and back on stage.

Two days before the start of the new year, we spoke to Roberts by phone from his Bay Area home. Still absorbing the ramifications of what has turned into the biggest story of his life, Roberts graciously shared his experience.

“I used to be a photographer, a regular cameraman,” he said. “Then our company got purchased by another company and they decided to change us into something they call ‘video journalists.’ Basically I started doing everything myself, writing and editing. The acting news director told me, ‘Go out and do POV,’ point of view journalism, where you go out and see what’s going on and talk about it. I said, ‘I have a better idea. I want to go out and look at what people are doing that they shouldn’t be doing. We could call it People Behaving Badly.’

“We went out and did the first one and phones rang off the hook. We got an incredible response. It drew people’s attention. It was about public urination. We watched people buying alcohol—and when they got drunk, because there are no rest rooms downtown around Market Street, they would pee and poop anywhere they wanted to, in broad daylight. Basically I just showed that. It was the grittiness of what was actually going on there, that no one wants to talk about, and I talked about it. So that was the first segment. That was eight years ago. The segment got so popular that now I actually turn a story every single day, except when I’m off.”

Roberts doesn’t go after big time criminals or expose major scandals. People Behaving Badly is about what he calls “quality of life issues.” Texting while driving. Bicyclists running stop signs. Drinking alcohol in city parks. Littering. Viewers love seeing transgressors caught in the act—and not just in the Bay Area. Roberts has more than 1,200 videos on YouTube, which have attracted close to 10 million views.

Of course not everyone is a fan of his brand of “gotcha journalism.”

“I get a lot of hate mail,” Roberts said. “A lot of people don’t want to know what’s going on, don’t want to know the truth. I get accused of picking on the homeless, of picking on dog owners, cat owners, home owners. I get death threats. It’s amazing. I was not used to it. I was always the guy with the camera while the reporter gets the fame and the glory. Then I had an idea eight years ago and it changed everything. It flipped my world upside down.”

Now Roberts’ world has flipped again because of Marcus Malone and Carlos Santana.

“It’s crazy,” he said. “I’m a devil one day and then all of a sudden the biggest rock star outside of the Rolling Stones is calling me an angel. Carlos told me, ‘You were sent by God. You’re an angel from God.’ I told my assignment desk what he said and they just laughed. They made fun of me. I’ve been called a few other things like asshole and the N-word, but never an angel.”

December 9 started out like any other workday for Roberts. He decided to go out to a dicey area of East Oakland to look for illegal trash dumpers. He found plenty of trash, but no dumpers, just an elderly man rummaging through the discarded junk.

“Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction,” Roberts said. “First of all, I don’t normally talk to somebody randomly digging through the trash. That was an anomaly. I just wanted to get shots of him going through all the garbage on that street and then go back to the office and get the story done. What made me speak to him was that I’d already asked some of the businesses on that street what was some of the strangest things they’d seen dumped out here. Couches. Marijuana. Dead dogs. I asked Marcus, ‘What did you find today.’ He says, ‘Nothing. But I’ve found jewelry. And money. Once I found 800 dollars in an old pair of jeans. Eight one hundred dollar bills.’ And I go, ‘What did you do with the money?’ I thought he probably smoked it or something. You tend to think if you’re homeless or something you probably got there because of drug use or alcohol or something like that. That’s what’s going through my mind. But then he says, ‘I bought some tools because I’m a landscaper.’ I’m thinking, ‘Okay, but how many landscapers are digging through the trash?’ Then he says, ‘I bought some supplies, some paper, because I’m a composer and I write music. My name is Marcus Malone.’

“It didn’t mean a thing to me. And then he says, ‘I used to play in the original Santana Blues Band.’ I never heard of the Santana Blues Band, I just heard it called Santana. I said, ‘Blues Band? Some band like Santana?’ And he said, ‘No, Santana. Carlos Santana. I was an original member of the band. We started it in my mom’s garage.’

“I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a tall story.’ I said, ‘If I go look it up will I find your name, that you played with Carlos Santana?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, you will. But I messed up everything. I messed up my life. I went to jail and ruined my life forever.’ He said it really low, whispered it. And he walked away. The interview was pretty much over but I went up to him one more time. He was still looking through trash, but he was singing ‘Black Magic Woman.’ I laughed. I thought, ‘Okay, now he’s just performing for me. But I’m going to go back and check on his story anyway.”

 

Marcus Malone

Marcus Malone

Call it instinct or intuition, but Roberts aired the segment of Malone talking about Santana, even though it had nothing to do with the subject of the story.

“Typically at KRON we keep our stories uber-focused,” Roberts said. “My story should have been about illegal dumping and nothing else. I should have just mentioned that this guy once found some money. But I decided to keep him in the story. One of the editors came to me and said, ‘The story is good but you kind of went off course with this guy.’ And I go, ‘No, the fact is that when I did some research, his name did pop up with Santana, so I decided to keep it in.’ I figured if my bosses chew me out the next day, well, it’s already out there. You can’t un-ring a bell. So that bell was rung. If he was nobody, then he was nobody.”

But there was another concern. In his research, Roberts discovered what Malone had meant when he said, “I messed up my life.” In 1969 Malone was convicted of manslaughter. He served three years in San Quentin.

“I spoke to our assistant news director after the story aired,” Roberts said, “and I said, ‘If this guy is who he is this could be something big.’ She said, ‘Yeah, but he killed somebody.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but it looks like it was a fight. He didn’t go out there trying to kill somebody. It appears that a fight broke out and somebody died. It was unintended. But if you don’t think it’s a big story, then I’m not going to worry about it.

“To be honest with you I had no idea of the magnitude of what was going to happen. No clue whatsoever. I was not prepared for it. Nine days later I get a Facebook message on my fan page, which I don’t check that often. It says, ‘Hi, I’m Kathy, manager of Carlos Santana.’ I’m thinking she’s going to say this guy Marcus was not with the band and never has been. But then she says Carlos has been driving around 90th and Pearmain trying to find Marcus. My mouth hit the ground. I jumped up and ran to the assignment desk and said, ‘Hey look at what I just got.’

“It was a Thursday night and the assignment desk wanted me to talk to Santana on the spot. Now I’m a huge fan. I love his music. And they’re saying see if you can go out there with him and look for Marcus. Now here’s where it got interesting. The next day we called Carlos and he said, ‘Well, I’m busy right now, it’s getting close to the holidays. Can I do it on the 23rd?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m going on vacation in two weeks and I won’t be here. But if you want to do it today, I can.’ He said, ‘I’ll tell you what. I’ll meet you at 2 o’clock today in Sausalito and we’ll go looking for Marcus together.’

“I told my news director that I’m going to drive out to Oakland and look for Marcus. Now we’re not allowed to go out without security. He said, ‘Don’t you get out of your car. Just drive around and see if you can spot this guy.’ Because we’ve been robbed. They’ve been robbing photographers and reporters. Oakland is crazy dangerous right now. So I jump in my car and drive over there. I’m looking for a guy with a beard riding a red bike.

“Well, there are bikes everywhere. Everyone is on a bike. I decided to do what every journalist would do: ask someone. There are two guys sitting out there and I say, ‘Hey, I’m looking for someone named Marcus Malone.’ First thing they say is, ‘Oh, what did he do? You the police?’ I said, ‘He didn’t do anything. I want to find him and give him something.’ They said, ‘We don’t know who he is.’ That’s the standard response. Then one of them says, ‘You mean the little guy who rides around on a bicycle, the old guy? There’s a camper around the corner he lives in.’ I said, ‘Camper? What camper?’ He said, ‘Trust me, you won’t miss it.’

“I turned the corner and there’s an old camper parked on a dirt sidewalk with an abandoned house next to it. There was a red bicycle chained to the bumper. I bang on the door and yell ‘Marcus!’ but there’s no answer. So I take a couple of pictures with my phone and call back my desk and say, ‘I think I’ve found Marcus. I’m going to hang out for a little bit.’ So I’m sitting and watching, and also watching that no one is going to roll up on me while I’m sitting there. I decided to take out a business card. I write, ‘Be here at 3 o’clock.’ That’s all I said. I stuck it on the door and waited a little more. Then a guy walks by and I said, ‘Hey, quick question. Who’s camper is this?’ He goes, ‘Oh, that’s Marcus’s camper.’ Then he looks at me and goes, ‘Hey, you’re that guy! The people who act badly dude! You put Marcus on TV. Y’know, he’s the real deal.’ I said, ‘Okay, if you see him tell him Stanley was here from Channel 4 and I have something to give him at 3 o’clock.’ I wasn’t going to say I’m bringing Carlos Santana back here. That would have been like setting a fire in timberland. Everyone would have been out there.

“So I go drive from Oakland to where Carlos is in Sausalito. That’s like driving between two different worlds. Well, Carlos is late. Then we get stuck in traffic. I had told our security officer, a retired cop, to meet me at the camper and stake it out. He called and said, ‘I’m at the camper, the door’s open and there’s another bike there.’ I said, “If you see him come out, detain him.’ He laughed and said, ‘I am not detaining anyone, I’m not a cop anymore.’ I said, ‘Just don’t let him leave.’ When we got to the camper I looked at my clock and it was 3:39.

 

Carlos Santana and Marcus Malone

Carlos Santana and Marcus Malone

“I knocked on the door with Carlos and the security officer watching. Marcus came out and I said, ‘Man, you are the real deal. So I’m back, like I told you.’ He said, ‘Man, I don’t remember your name.’ Now when I do my segments it’s not about me. It’s about the world around me and what’s going on. This story wasn’t about me. I’m about to introduce Marcus to Carlos Santana. I said, ‘Dude, my name is not important right now, your name is what’s important.’ I got a lot of hate comments about that, people saying that I was being a douche bag for not telling him my name and that I was being disrespectful. On the other hand, I also got comments saying it showed that I’m not the kind of person who’s out there for fame and glory. Honestly, I just wanted the moment of him walking to the car and he sees Carlos’s face and Carlos sees his face. I just wanted to cry. I’m laughing, but it’s laughter that they’re finally seeing each other after all these years.

“Carlos handed him $7,000 in cash. I didn’t put that in my story because they would have run up to him the next night if they knew Carlos had handed him that cash. I thought it was a bad idea, but it is what it is. You can’t tell Carlos don’t give this guy seven grand in cash because who knows what will happen.

“I called the station and told them that they met. The station went ape-shit. Oh my god! When I came back with the video there was huge applause in the newsroom from all my coworkers that I had got this. Then it was, ‘You need to do this, you need to do that.’ But I’m thinking, ‘I need to get to work and write the damn segment because I’m off at six and I’m going on vacation.’ But they wanted me live on set at 8 o’clock. Now I do live stuff rarely, and never on prime time. I’m not a big front-of-the-camera guy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do it—but it was my last day of work before my vacation and I wanted to get out of there and do my thing. But I’m there until 8:30. And I have to drive to Los Angeles the next morning because I can’t afford to fly.

“So the story aired and there was not a dry eye in the place. But the magnitude of what took place didn’t dawn on me until I got a phone call from CNN saying ‘We want to put you on air.’ I said, ‘For what? I didn’t do nothing.’ I said, ‘I’ll be in L.A. tomorrow if you want to talk to me. So I talked to them and Inside Edition and did some radio. And now I’m talking to you.”

Roberts’ chance meeting with Malone resulted in the biggest story of his career. But this is just the beginning of Roberts’s relationship with Malone. He is committed to acting as Malone’s guide to a better life.

“We’re doing everything we can to help him,” Roberts said. “I told him, ‘I’m in it for the long haul and we’re going to get you back on your feet. The problem is he wants to move, but old habits are hard to break. Carlos called me. He basically designated me on the spot and I am here to help Marcus get back on track. So I’ve embraced that, even though I still have to figure out how to pay my own bills.

“I created People Behaving Badly not knowing it would lead to this. It’s me going out every day, trying to make ends meet, doing these segments, getting hate mail from people, getting death threats, being told by the police to change my habits so that people don’t follow me home. I’m like, ‘Is this really worth it?’ But I guess it is, when you find people like Marcus. This was a diamond in the rough—who now we have to shine. Because he’s really rough. Between me and Carlos Santana, we’re going to shine that diamond and try to bring out the stone that was covered in soot. We want to get him back on the stage playing. And if he’s on the stage I want to be in the front row. I’ll be bawling out of control.”

 

About the author
Former Boston Herald columnist and editor Larry Katz has covered music and the arts for more than 30 years. Visit his website, thekatztapes.comContact him at larry@thekatztapes.com.