Month: February 2014

RX: Act of Kindness

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the digestive tract, the central nervous system and the pineal gland within the brain. It relays signals from one area of brain cells to another. It is strongly believed that serotonin influences brain cells related to mood, desires, appetite, memory, sleep and social behaviors. Theory states that high levels of serotonin increase feelings of well being and happiness. Conversely, low levels are associated with depression as well as aggressive behaviors.

A simple act of kindness may seem inconsequential yet there are benefits to be derived, whether you are the presenter or on the receiving end. When a person performs an act of kindness, levels of serotonin in the brain increase. This infusion causes an increase in feeling of joy, happiness and satisfaction. Just by thinking of another person and acting on it we can naturally increase this feel-good hormone in our bodies.

The CDC’s Center for Health Stats shows a 400% increase in the usage of antidepressant drugs from 1988 to 2011. Many of these antidepressants, known as SSRI’s and SNRI’s, work to increase the serotonin levels in the brain and in turn increase feelings of joy as well as ease the effects of depression. With such power embedded in a simple act of kindness, is it naive to think we can positively influence society naturally rather than medically?

I often think of a great movie called “Pay It Forward“. The basic premise being that if one favor is passed onto three others, the positive effects of the good deed multiply exponentially. Creating a movement that one simple idea can change the world.  The next time you are looking for a movie to watch, check this one out. You may just be inspired to increase your serotonin levels.


How do you feel about the health benefits of an act of kindness?

Perform one act of kindness today and let me know how it makes you feel.

The AAUW’s Goal to Empower Women

The American Association of University Women, AAUW, is a great non-profit organization whose main purpose is to empower women. They are involved in advocacy, philanthropy, research and education. With over 170,000 members, 1,000 branches and 800 college & university partners, AAUW has the power to facilitate positive change for women.

The AAUW has been around for over 130 years and in that time has grown to be the largest source of women’s educational funding. In the current academic year, the group has provided funding in the amount of $3.7 million for graduate women. Each of the six fellowships and grants they offer address a different situation to be able to help a variety of women.

In addition to university educational programs, the group also hosts programs for young women to explore fields of study such as engineering, technology, science and math. This is a great opportunity for girls to explore fields that traditionally employ males. Additionally, they are building supportive relationships in the process.

Do you have a personal experience with AAUW? I’d love to hear about it.

Check out the AAUW website for further information.

Funding Our Educational Venture

Once we have decided to take that leap to return to school, funding our educational venture moves to the forefront of our minds. There are a ton of questionable websites that claim they can identify funding sources for your education for a fee. Be cautious as there are scams targeted at students. Conversely, there are an abundance of resources available online that are completely free.

The first website that I suggest you visit is Benefits.Gov. This is a great resource when searching for educational benefits (as well as other benefits). It has an easy to navigate questionnaire to lead you to the programs that apply to your specific situation. The programs are explained briefly with a link to get more information and to apply.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, FAFSA for short, is an online application for various grants, loans and work study programs for college and career schools. Part of the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid provides more than $150 billion to students each year. There is nothing I love more than an organized and informative website. You can even populate your financial information from your last tax return on file with the IRS. Additionally, the website offers free assistance throughout the financial aid process.

Fastweb.com is one of the largest online databases for scholarships. This database is great as it looks at student involvement rather than just grades, matching students to groups within their community for assistance.

Talk to other women in your community about your new endeavor. There are many local groups and clubs that offer financial assistance as well as guidance to help you through the journey.

What other roadblocks do you anticipate as you begin your pursuit? Share them in the comments section.

A Gift that cannot be taken away

Education holds an immense amount of power. It is the one gift that we can give ourselves that cannot be taken away. As women, further education enables us to:
• Start a new career
• Advance in our existing career
• Earn more income
• Have a higher quality of life
• Maintain job security
• Boost our self image and self esteem
Additionally, education allows us to be role models for others as well as encouraging our children to pursue higher education.

As we progress through our lives, women often find that it becomes more difficult to allocate the time and make the commitment to go back to school. Families are established and careers in place bringing the feelings of guilt when thinking about doing something for ourselves. By making the decision to return to school, the woman, her family and her career will all benefit in the long run.

Unfortunately, there are many uncontrollable factors that lead women to seek more education. The two-income household is a reality and with unemployment at staggering levels, losing one of those incomes can be devastating. An abrupt change in household dynamics can force a woman to reevaluate her earning potential as a single parent. Whether by choice or out of necessity, women are seeing the need to advance their education and enjoying the value it brings.

Statistics show that women with college degrees earn 30.8% more today than in 1979. More women are taking advantage of this by pursuing undergraduate degrees. 43.1% of undergraduate students in the 1969-1970 academic years were women compared to 57.2% in 2009-2010. This is projected to increase to 58% by 2020-2021. Women pursuing graduate degrees are also increasing. 38.8% of graduate students in 1969-1970 were women versus 60.3% in 2009-2010. (U.S. Department of Education-National Center for Education Statistics)

Ultimately, furthering a women’s education offers her more choices and more flexibility.
Please leave any comments or motivation that you would like to share!
Vashon High School

Circle of Friends

Where do you gain your support? Is it from family and friends? Do you have coworkers or bosses who will support you? Are you involved in any clubs or groups? These are all great sources of support that can help guide us along our intended path – whatever that may be.

The importance of a good support system is the backbone of a happy and fulfilling life. Without support, days are dreary and goals seem unattainable. When we are young, building this support system seems so unimportant. As we grow older and encounter challenges in our lives, we fall back on our friends to share tears with, confide in and celebrate joyous occasions. The structural integrity of this support system should be solid and able to withstand inevitable setbacks.

The circle of support that surrounds us as we journey through life may contain many people who serve different purposes. It has taken me years to identify the components of a productive support system. I suspect that part of this was (and still is) discovering who I am as a person. After living with myself for a while, I got to know what types of people I work best with, enjoy being with and motivate me.

A valuable link in my circle is the women that I am lucky enough to network with in a club that I belong to. The diversity in age and occupation is great but each of these women unconditionally offer support, whatever my endeavor is. This positive environment and reassurance brings me the inspiration to share this with others. The ripple effect at work…

The key to remember is that support can come in many different forms and for many different purposes. Finding a support system that works for you can make all the difference in the world.

As with any post, I love to hear back from you so feel free to leave comments and share your experiences.
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Photo Credit

I blog because…

I believe in the power of women. When I think of people who have influenced me over the years, the path always leads to the fantastic women whom I am blessed to have in my life. Each has offered support, guidance and encouragement as I have encountered difficult times in my life. As we’ve navigated these challenges together, the bonds grow and relationships were built. This foundation has made me what I am today.

I believe in…
Educating women. The power of education extends far beyond any university or trade school. Its benefits are more dynamic than a degree or certificate. Education has been shown to promote community involvement, expand life choices and empower women to seek positive change.

The strength of another woman’s support. By adding another support system to a woman’s life, we give her an outlet when faced with difficulties as well as offer guidance through challenging times. The relationships built when women support one another are long lasting and productive.

The benefits of empowerment. By empowering women, we strengthen the society as a whole. We see more community involvement, not just as volunteers but as women leading our community, bringing diversity and progress.

The positive effects of women’s education, support and empowerment are compounded incrementally for future generations, similar to the ripples in a pool of water.
Ocean Water

With this blog, I plan to explore and share ideas to motivate women to make positive changes within themselves, their family and their community. I hope to encourage a few to look beyond their perceived boundaries to the endless possibilities that our world can offer. Whether your goal is to pursue further education, be a more supportive woman or climb the corporate ladder, I hope you find my content helpful. Please feel free to leave feedback, I’d love to hear from you!