To Quit Is To Die

“To Quit Is To Die,” declared Major General John Borling, USAF, Ret. several times during our dinner last night. That attitude, and his poet’s soul, has lifted him from failure to greater success than he imagined possible. It also lifts up others – including servicemen and civilians alike. And me.

General Borling, who earned 5 Stars and many high-level commands around the world (Don’t you just love the Make It Better orange flight suit? He “won” that from a German fighter pilot)

Borling’s greatest loves are his wife, Myrna, and being a fighter pilot. He was shot down during the Vietnam War and held as a prisoner of war in conditions of extreme deprivation for more than 6 1/2 years. He kept himself and the other prisoners in the “Hanoi Hilton” going by tapping messages on the walls, including his own poetry.

That attitude also helped him become of the most decorated soldiers in our country too.

Included in this photo are a Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars and 2 Purple Hearts.

That attitude also pushed Borling to recently publish Taps On The Wall – Poems From The Hanoi Hilton. He is promoting the book and his belief that each person “has a responsibility to renew yourself and your country” around the country. I recommend his poems and other inspiring messages to you.

You will learn more about John in the June issue of Make It Better magazine. We’ve very proud to be featuring him and other outstanding men.

“Values come from people,

Assessing their amounts.

Those worthy of respect and pride,

All know the striving counts.”

(Excerpt from “This I Believe” on p. 74 of “Taps On The Wall”)

How & Why To Nurture An Introvert

How & Why To Nurture An Introvert

Still waters run deep. The creativity and passion developed by an introvert’s rich inner life can add much to the world. But our extrovert oriented society makes it difficult for a quiet child to blossom.

The best thing a parent can do is to accept, love and take delight in the child for who they are. (Of course, isn’t that what all parents should do with all kids?)

Learn more from Susan Cain. She’s an introvert and also the author of the New York Times bestselling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,” and a wildly popular TED talk. Hear her speak next Thursday at Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette at 6:30 pm. Sponsored by the Family Awareness Network.

Learn more here:

Jump For Joy & Julia Sweeney

Comedienne Julia Sweeney emcees the Evanston Dance Ensemble gala on February 2nd:

Former SNL star, Wilmette resident and author Julia Sweeney

I recommend the event not only because it supports EDE’s outstanding dance program, and Ms. Sweeney is sure to be entertaining, but also because it supports “Jump For Joy,” a free dance program for physically challenged children who receive one-on-one instruction from advanced teen dancers.

Jump For Joy is a model worthy of replication by dance studios everywhere:

Win for the serious teen dancers.
Win for the youth who would never have this opportunity otherwise.
Win for parents & community.

Learn more here:

A Jump For Joy class – courtesy of Matt Glavin

Strengthen Your Talents, Act on Your Values, Achieve Success

Strengthen your talents, act on your values, achieve success.

These concepts sound easy right? But in our crazy busy world, it is not always easy to stop and reflect in order to know yourself, honor your values, and remain humble. Those traits are important in order to collaborate well and succeed as a leader.

Charmm’d Foundation and/or Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr. can help.

Charmm’d Foundation = Free leadership resources.

Courtesy of Charmm’d Foundation

Harry M Jansen Kraemer Jr. – Dearborn Madison partner, Kellogg School Of Business Professor, Author, Inspirational Speaker

Reflect on your values, see all sides, maintain humility, act with intention, succeed.

Harry M. Jansen Kraemer Jr.

Proceeds from his book “From Values To Action,” benefit One Acre Fund which supports farmers in Africa.

Why JK Why? Perhaps Because Our Magic is Better

Why JK, why? Perhaps because our magic is better than yours after all.

Since suffering through the entire book to the ignominious conclusion of JK Rowling’s recent release, “Casual Vacancy,” I’ve wondered why JK wrote this book. Petty, shallow, nasty characters live and die unredeemed lives. There is no magic to the story.

Why did the most magical, amazing writer of recent times do this?

I think I found the answer last night carving jack-o-lanterns with my girls, Emma and Andi. Real life can and should be magical. Almost everything we do in our daily lives can be in stark contrast to the small-minded characters in “Casual Vacancy” and feel magical.

And – really – daily life is best this way.

Me, my daughter Emma, and Andi Alexander.

Hope your Halloween celebration is as wonderful – magical – as ours already has been!

Thanks JK, thanks.

The Boy Who Saved Earle’s Life

Charlie and Earle

Earle Martin was a man with enormous blessings; but, he was still deeply depressed.

Charlie is his grandson, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 1/2 years old.

This brought Earle to life, and probably saved his life.

Earle tells his story, and inspires others in his book, “The Boy Who Saved My Life – walking into the light with my autistic grandson.”

Autism Speaks,, a vibrant nonprofit founded to connect families facing autism was well represented at the book signing and confirmed that all the Charlies of the world can be a gift to those who love them.

“We make ourselves wider and deeper and more thoughtful by caring about these special people. Please dig in a little more to help too,” Earle asked.

The proceeds from his book benefit The Brookwood Community, outside Houston, Texas, an educational and entrepreneurial community for adults with disabilities, where Charlie – now 24 – works.

Charlie and Earle spend two days each week together – as they have since Charlie was first diagnosed.

Diane Falanga Connects With Summer Camp Letters & “P.S. I Still Hate It Here!”

Diane Falanga at her reading of “P.S. I Still Hate It Here!.” (Photo courtesy of Design For Dignity President Beverly Hammell)

The secret to Diane Falanga’s success – as an author & friend – is her ability to embrace emotional truths, find what is dear & unique in each of us, and connect as many good people and good ideas as possible. Her reading of her sequel compilation book featuring hilarious and heart-wrenching letters by kids at sleep-away camp last night proved a good reminder of this.

Diane brought to life the children who penned sentences like “I love everything about the camp, except the campers” and “the rash on Josh’s P-Nus improved” for a connected and caring audience in an absolutely stunning lakefront home. We laughed, we sighed, we reminisced about our own or our children’s camp experiences.

Universal truths connect.

If this stimulates your interest in a 2012 summer camp experience, here’s a great digital guide for you:

If you’re sending your child to camp – share laughs and an opportunity to discuss potential emotional trials with them over a copy of P.S. I Still Hate It Here!, which you can order here:

Marian Tompson & La Leche League Prove Margaret Meade’s Point

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed that’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Meade.

Evanston’s Marian Tompson, a shy mother of 7 who never expected to become an international hero to the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco and mothers across Africa, and six others founded the La Leche League,, to help educate the medical profession and mothers around the world of the benefits of breastfeeding. Now its the norm. It never occured to me not to nurse my 6 kids.

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