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]

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!

This is the time of year when I flash back to 1975 and start singing “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts non-stop. In the summer, I stock up on new books and music, searching for story-tellers with muscular, mind-blowing, mentor-centric tales to feature on the OMSF blog. Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend and his parents, Martha’s Vineyard has become my creative retreat. The island has its own natural philosophy, and the very first edict is to slow the &#^*@ down, soften up, and unburden yourself. The Vineyard has a way of tranquilizing even the busiest of minds.

Through the snarl of the city, against my workaholic inner voice, I curse and argue, knuckles white on the steering wheel, and aim my car towards the Cape. Once I sense the salt air and drive into the belly of the Vineyard ferry, my nerves start to unwind. On this road trip, the workaholic loses; my artsy self wins. When I reach the secluded island I am a world away—swapping my suit for shorts, my painful high-heels for sandals, unapologetically stripping in the front seat of my car. I’m ready to be surrounded by water, to lose myself on country roads, to sink my teeth into something freshly retrieved from the earth—to be mentored by this amazing earthy way of life. Sun, sand, and salt-spray release the tension in my over-worked mind. The ebb and flow of the surf mentors me to calm, and calm feels so good.

Before I get to the beaches, I stop to grab a bunch of books at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore or Edgartown Books. To become fully intoxicated by my surroundings, I always kick off the read-fest with an island author. These titles almost always come from the local publisher Jan Pogue and her Vineyard Stories. I always—without any research or hesitiation—see films produced by the Weinstein Company, and buy music released by Virgin Records or Geffen Records. That’s how it is with Vineyard Stories. I’m drawn to their artistic taste, and they never let me down. I was delighted when Jan was also able to find time in her crazy schedule to meet me; we’ve become friends since I featured one of her books, Star Child by Kay Goldstein, here at the blog. I admire Jan for her ability to discover a great story as well as her brave, entrepreneurial spirit. I knew that she would become a prized mentor in my fabulous mentor collection.

Lucky cover, lo res jpegOne of the books released this year by Vineyard Stories is Some Kind of Lucky. It was my first summer read of 2014. I completely adore this book. The author, Joan Cowen Bowman, has been coming to the island for fifty years for the same reason I go there: because it offers a simpler existence. Like Joan, I find the mysterious secrets of the island nurturing and healing. Like her, I drift into this magical place and become a better version of myself.

In the book, Joan recounts her life as a divorced woman in the 1960s struggling to raise four children. As a person who watched my parents’ marriage crumble during the 1970s, I know first-hand how unusual that was. A decade after Joan’s divorce, my parents were among the first divorces in our small town. When the news became public, my life changed dramatically. Other families thought we were contagious. We were socially quarantined.

Some Kind of Lucky is like the ocean around the Vineyard: serene, fascinating, and turbulent in turns. Joan and I both return to the island year after year for the star-filled, whisper-soft nights; for the sun-kissed days, the moody early mornings, and the mysterious foggy nights; for the fire-fly ballets and the crumbling stone walls. We have both felt loss at sea in our lives, and both crave for the simpler existence the island presents.

Martha’s Vineyard allows you to lose the signal of the mainland and be still. It absorbs all that you bring to its shores, and then tenderly washes away all the confusion, pain, tension, and toxins. It’s a kind of magic. As the jacket of Some Kind of Lucky reads:“sunrise and moonrise, birdsong at dawn or dusk, the lullaby of the tides as we sleep-all this remind us throughout our days and nights that there is some kind of law and order in the universe.”

 

[box]About the Author

As the co-founder of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, Dawn Carroll is leading the way in what she calls “mentorology.” OMSF is a unique media-based project on a mission to raise awareness about the lifelong benefits of mentorship. An award-winning stone designer, writer, producer, songwriter, and mentor collector, Dawn believes that mentoring stimulates the creative mind and that creative minds will find the answers to many problems we face today. Mentoring creates leadership skills and stronger, more compassionate leaders.[/box]

 

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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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