Storytelling in Business

Writer: Teresa Madaleno



Storytelling is a very important part of running a business today. Whether you are standing on a stage, writing a blog, or putting together a case study, you need to get your point across with good storytelling. So what is good storytelling in business?

There are really three elements you have to keep in mind when you are trying to get attention for your brand through storytelling. First you have to be clear in illustrating your point. State up front what your message or idea is. Most people feel like the world needs a lot of background information in order to understand yet in business the truth is that we need to get to the point right away. If we don’t get to the point quickly, we lose the audience.

Another important element is proof.  The best way to help a consumer, investor, or potential business partner understand your vision, concept, product, or service is to provide proof of its value. One way to do this is through case studies. Case studies are really just examples. Yes, they can be boring so some people present examples in the form of video or testimonials – and these can be effective too.

Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to give people simple, easy to follow instructions. This can demonstrate how easy it is for the audience to implement or use whatever it is you are selling.

Standing in front of an audience singing your company’s praises or writing a blog that touts how unique your product is will do little to impress people, but telling a story about how your product or service worked for someone else carries a lot more weight. Storytelling can be creative, entertaining, and even humorous depending on the product or service you provide and the audience you are catering to so before you formulate your story, make sure you know your audience well.






Books Coming to Screen in 2018



Writer: Teresa Madaleno


I know a lot of people who enjoy reading books before they become movies. The idea is to read first then watch the movie, compare and critique. Lately, I have had several readers ask me what 2018 books will be coming to a theatre near them. While I imagine I am missing some, here are the books know will be movies:

  • A Wrinkle in Time – if it sounds familiar it’s because it is the adaptation of L’Engle’s 1962 novel about good, evil, and time travel. Rumour has it that this Sci-Fi will star Reese Witherpoon, Chris Pine, and Oprah Winfrey.
  • All the Bright Places – is a novel about two teenagers helping each other through some very difficult times. Elle Fanning will be playing one of the lead roles in the movie version.
  • Ophelia – the story of Hamlet from the point of view of Ophelia, a book by Lisa Kline, will hit the big screen at some point in 2018. The cast will include Naomi Watts and Clive Owen.
  • Ready Player One – this book about an obsession with an online game leads to a massive treasure hunt in the online world. The movie version is expected to be thrilling, as well as humorous.
  • Let it Snow – is a novel by the same author who brought us “The Fault in Our Stars”. Does this mean you should bring a box of tissues to the theatre to see the movie version? Some insiders say, “Yes” the story of love just might bring you to tears.
  • Peter Rabbit – the classic tale of a rebellious rabbit comes to the screen in February 2018. It will star James Corden as Peter Rabbit, and Rose Byrne as Bea.

So if more than one of these sound appealing to you then, get reading. The year 2018 will be here before you know it.

Hurricane Heroes vs. Scammers

Writer: Teresa Madaleno 


Hurricane Harvey took at least 70 lives that we know of at this point. That’s too many. One life is too much. However, as authorities work through what is expected to be a very long recovery process, they say they are “surprised” that that death toll was not higher.

The fact that weather forecasters were following and reporting storm activity as it made its way toward land and people heeded the warnings, made a huge difference in lives saved. If you have been watching or listening to news over the last few days, you have likely heard the stories about near-drownings and dangerous rescues. You have also likely heard about the real heroes. For example, the veteran Houston police officer who died on a flooded highway while trying to report for duty so he could help during the crisis. Of course, there were also the two volunteer rescue workers who drowned carrying families to safety. The people of Houston are broken, but they are proud – proud of their resilience and proud of their efforts to help their fellow man.

What is very hard to hear about amid all the tragedy and sadness is that this horrible weather event has stirred up much more than your typical storm debris; it has awakened the scammers. Sadly, there are people who take advantage is cases of tragedy. The Washington Post reports that scammers are using robo-calls to try to “fleece” hurricane Harvey survivors. Here’s an example: the scammer dials the phone and when the homeowner answers, they hear that their premiums are past due and they must send money “now” or have their flood insurance cancelled. How awful! These disaster parasites are in a class of their own, called “the lowest class”.

If you know anyone in Houston and Florida who is recovering from Hurricane Harvey or Irma, please talk to him or her about these parasites. One of the biggest scams experienced by storm survivors in recent years has involved dishonest contractors. They get survivors to sign a contract for repair work on a digital tablet; however, when they print out the work sheet, the bid is thousands of dollars higher than what the person originally signed. In some situations, survivors unknowingly assign FEMA disaster aid over to the scammer.

While we would all like to focus on the heroes, it seems it is the constant barrage of parasites that we have to keep watching for. They should be severely prosecuted.

A side note to anyone reading this – give generously to hurricane recovery efforts. There are different ways you can donate, including through the Red Cross and the United Way, as well as other organizations listed below.



Reversing Brain Trauma

Writer: Teresa Madaleno


If you are familiar with competitive sports then you know that TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) is real. TBI ranges from a mild concussion after colliding with a teammate to something severe, such as a blow to the head when you are slammed into something with great force. These jolts to the cranium can lead to permanent brain injury and even death. Now, there is hope for traumatic brain injury patients.

As the mother of an avid hockey player, I have witnessed multiple head traumas at the rink so I was pleased when I heard about the recent discovery by scientists at the University of California in San Francisco. If you haven’t already heard the news, a team of researchers found that a new experimental drug could restore normal brain function in mice following two types of TBI’s.

Until now, medical experts thought there was no way to reverse cognitive decline and memory loss for those with traumatic brain injury. As for surgery, well that has to be carried out within hours of an injury to be effective. However, the University of California research team gave mice a compound and those mice developed memory capabilities similar to mice that never had brain injuries.

The drug that was administered during the study is called ISRIB and is pronounced, “iz-rib”. It was actually discovered back in 2013 by a biochemistry professor at UCSF. Doctor Peter Walter calls the findings with the mice “extraordinary”. He recently stated the following: “We think that ISRIB may uncover an untapped reservoir in the brain that allows damaged memory circuits to be repaired.”

What is particularly remarkable about the discovery is that in one phase of the study, the researchers waited until several weeks after the mice sustained the injury before administering the drug. Co-author of the study, Susanna Rosi indicated that animals with these types of brain injuries normally never learn well again, yet the drug ISRIB could restore ability to form memories even when giving the drug was delayed for four weeks after the injury; something that was considered impossible before.

While more research is needed before human studies can be conducted, the researchers have publicly stated that they have “high hopes” that the drug ISRIB can one day help those who have suffered brain injuries.

According to the U.S National Library of Medicine concussions account for up to 14 percent of hockey injuries at all levels of the sport. While prevention should be the name of the game, we all know that every season there will be players of various ages that will experience head trauma, which means we must support the advancement of research, like the work being done at the University of California in San Francisco.

Finding Your Customers

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Most company executives understand that the better they understand their customers, the more likely their business will grow. The problem often becomes defining customer base. For instance, I often have clients who want me to “spread the word” about their products and services through both traditional and social media channels, yet I quickly discover they don’t have a good handle on who their customers really are.

You can have the best products and services. You can have the best messaging to explain those products and services, but if the right audience does not receive those messages then you haven’t accomplished anything.

Lets take an affordable cell-phone provider as an example – if someone asked executives at the phone company, ‘Who is your typical customer?’ they might say something like, ‘Well, our typical customer is Millennials and teenagers hooked on technology.’ I realize this is really general, but you get the point. Most people can define their target audience with some careful research. Knowing the age, gender, income, personality, likes, dislikes, and behaviours of the people who would most likely be interested in your product or service is crucial to your communication efforts. Of course, the wider your customer base, the better chance your message will do what is it supposed to do – encourage people to act.

Some companies are lucky in that they deal with a specific sector, but have a wide customer base. I will take up and coming energy company, Sparta as an example. Sparta focuses on advancing the capture, conversion and optimization of energy. If you asked their executive team, ‘Who is your typical customer?” They would likely say, ‘Almost anybody’. This is because Sparta is about more than one product or service; it is about using various tools and technologies to address the needs of customers in many different industries when it comes to reducing their energy consumption. This is the great advantage Sparta has – there is no limit to the Corporations potential market as the vision has been to constantly adapt and add products and services that clients need in order to help them remain competitive – be sustainable. When Sparta spreads their message they have a massive customer base to target.

No matter what sector you are in or how broad your customer base may be, giving careful thought to exactly who your customers are is more important now than ever before. We are living in an increasingly competitive world so it makes no sense to spend time, energy and money on crafting a message that doesn’t get seen or read by the right audience.

While there are many ways to examine your typical customer, one of the best ways to start is by looking at your current customers and asking yourself, what do they like, dislike or what works for them and what doesn’t. From there check out the competition, who is buying from them? Soon you will start to build what is referred to as an Avatar; a representation of what your client looks like.

Grounding – The impact on the human body


Writer: Teresa Madaleno


A few years ago I wrote an article for a health industry client on the subject of “Grounding.” The research I conduced at that time was really my first foray into examining the process of removing excessive charge from an object by releasing it into the ground. Walking barefoot is an example of grounding. Since that article I have learned a lot more about electrons playing a significant role in the cellular process that takes place in our bodies.

As reported in the U.S National Library of Medicine, multi-disciplinary research has indicated that electricity contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth produces interesting effects on our health. Studies show the effects relate to inflammation, immune responses and wound healing. Some research even suggests that grounding can prevent and treat chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. While this is still a relatively new area of research, what experts at the University of California and the University of Oregon have discovered is that grounding an organism can produce noticeable differences in concentrations of white blood cells and other molecules involved in inflammatory response. Physiology professors say grounding reduces pain and alters the number of circulating neutrophils and lymphocytes. Neutrophils are white blood cells important in the defense against infections. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are part of the immune system. There are two main types of lymphocytes: B cells and T cells. The B cells produce antibodies that are used to attack invading viruses, bacteria, and toxins. Lymphocytes are high if you have an infection.

Grounding is really any system that allows for frequent contact with the Earth. This includes while sleeping, sitting at a desk, or walking outside. There are conductive systems such as sheets, mats, wristbands, ankle bands, and even adhesive patches. These applications are connected to the Earth through a cord inserted into a grounded wall outlet or attached to a ground rod placed in the soil outside.

A couple years ago a group of researchers, including some from the University of California and University of Oregon, looked at the physiological impacts of grounding from various perspectives. Their work has led to over a dozen studies being published in peer-reviewed journals. A peer review is a process that subjects an author’s work or research to examination and scrutiny of other top experts in the same field, before a description of the work can be published in a journal. The fact that the grounding research has been peer-reviewed and the actual studies show grounding could be an effective healing method has opened up new and promising avenues for research, particularly in the area of inflammation. Some suggest that it could have broad implications for health prevention and public health.

Despite the current research, all of this may still sound odd to some people, but think about it this way: We are all living on an electrical planet and our bodies transmit many frequencies that help run our muscles, our heart, our nervous system and our immune system. Many years ago it was perfectly natural to sleep right on the ground, and it was common to walk the Earth in bare feet. In our industrialized world, we rarely walk around without leather shoes and we do not sleep on the ground unless we are camping. In reality we are all disconnected or ungrounded. Considering that this disconnection may contribute in some way to illness may not be as far-fetched as many of us think.

Protein Supplements: Do you need them?

Contributing Writer: Michael Cameron


I was with a friend last week, talking about our diets and the challenges that I face with mine. Carbs, no carbs, low fat, high fat, and a million other variations were passed between us. Eventually we began discussing protein supplements and whether or not I should be using them. My friend, Rob Sinclair of Cross Fit Solid Ground, has a wealth of experience in the area of health and nutrition. Besides owning a Cross Fit gym, he also has a B. Sc. in Biology with a minor in Exercise Science, is a certified personal trainer, as well as a nutrition and wellness specialist, so when he speaks, I listen. For him, it is very simple – “Know your protein requirements, figure out if you’re meeting them and if you have a protein deficiency, then you should be taking some type of protein supplement,” he said.

Rob went on further to explain that my body uses protein to build and repair tissues and to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is ultimately an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. He said if I wasn’t getting enough of it, my body wouldn’t be able to function properly and I may experience the following:

  • Food cravings,
  • Muscle and joint pain,
  • Slow recovery from injuries,
  • Fluid retention,
  • Regular illness
  • A cloudy mind

So, how much protein does a person need? The average person needs about .8 g of protein for 1 kg of body weight but there are certain exceptions and in fact, certain groups of people are susceptible to not meeting those needs, resulting in protein deficiencies. Check out the following categories below:

  • The elderly. As we age, our bodies become less efficient at processing our food.
  • Many sports require levels of high energy, strength and muscle.  Protein plays a key role in that relationship.
  • If you’re injured or ill, you need about 1.5 times your regular protein requirements to recover.
  • If you are stressed, you breakdown muscle and tissue faster than if you weren’t.
  • People that try to lose weight and cut calories.

Now I know how much I need and I know why I need it, but how do I figure out if I’m getting enough protein in my diet? I learned there are great meal tracking options to figure out if you are getting enough protein (I like If you use one and figure out that you’re not getting enough protein, there are a lot of really great options for increasing your protein intake. For instance, eating more whole foods (meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables) and fewer processed foods (carbs and sugars), minimizing stress by learning how to meditate or manage your anxiety through other means and finally, if you don’t like traditional sources of protein like meats, soy, peas, grains, then taking a protein supplement.

Contributing Writer, Michael Cameron is a martial artist and avid sports enthusiast who loves to spend time with his family, as well as write about sports and recreation in his spare time.

What Fake News Means to Future Generations

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Fake News might seem like just another voguish term, but its unlikely to slip from the North American vocabulary any time soon. The problem is that thanks to people like Donald Trump using the term inaccurately, there are a lot of people who don’t really understand the term.

Fake news is not the practice of well-trained, well-educated, competent journalists. Sure, at times things can fall apart in any news organization to the point where an editor or reporter exaggerates or leans too far to one side (left or right). While I would never condone this, it can’t be labeled as fake news. Fake news is the shift that has occurred in our social media era and it’s due to the dizzying speed of tweeting, posting etc. online.

As a former broadcast news reporter and journalism teacher, I can tell you that the majority of trained reporters take the golden rules of quality journalism very seriously. Those rules include being objective, focusing on the facts (just the facts), and using multiple, accurate sources to back up those facts. Fake news is the opposite – it is falsehoods, lies, subjective, and not backed up by any credible sources.

The problem with fake news according to psychologists is that the human mind only has so much time to process the myriad of information coming in and then make judgments about what parts of that information to keep. Humor, shock, and the unusual – all of these tip the scales in favor of being remembered and recalled, whether it is real or fake.

Here is where I find it scary. Fake news can be extremely damaging to all aspects of life. I have a daughter who is about to turn 20. She has grown up in the digital era. I think of her friends, as well as my nieces and nephews attaining and processing news. What they need to know is that fake news can hurt them. If they were to ask how? This is what I would share with them. Suppose someone said you were responsible for another person’s death and this was untrue. Can you imagine how this would impact your reputation, your career and your personal life? It has happened. A known trash magazine alleged that American Senator Tom Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. When Donald Trump talked about this allegation, the story spread like wildfire. There was no stopping it. The Washington Post and other reputable news agencies launched an investigation and determined that these allegations were “untrue” but the damage to Cruz was already done.

There are many other examples where fake news can negatively impact you financially, emotionally and physically. There have been a number of fake news cases that have led to civil unrest. Your purchasing of goods and services and your decisions about investing can have a devastating impact on your wallet when based on fake news.

Scientific studies show that when only 10 percent of the population holds a strong belief, the majority of society will always adopt this belief.

This is not meant to insult anyone, but the truth is that people are victims of their own ignorance, unwilling to fact check what they hear and read. Many will argue that they don’t have time to fact check and this may be true. Guess what? That is what we have trained journalists for. Unless we start speaking up to save real news organizations, your generation will have one of two choices: spend all your time fact checking so you can decide what to believe and repeat to others or live in a world where you make very bad, very damaging decisions about your life based on fake news.



Children’s Books Every Adult Should Read

Contributing Writer: Keelin Mayer

If you are a book lover then you probably find yourself reflecting on your childhood reading from time-to-time. Well, just because you are an adult doesn’t mean you can’t relive the various themes and life lessons in those great books you read as a young person. Here are six books that every adult should consider reading again or for the first time, if they haven’t done so as a child.

Charlotte’s Web – An uplifting story of friendship, the tale of Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider allowed me to believe in something bigger than myself; adding an element of wonder and hopeful possibility to my childhood. I learned that it is important to stand up for what you believe in and to embrace the commonalities and differences between yourself and your friends.

Anne of Green Gables – The story of Anne with an “e” will forever be a part of my soul. A classic, magical and timeless tale of friendship, perseverance and love Anne taught me that it is important to build your own life path. It is a story that warms my heart and reminds me to never give up – regardless of the obstacles before you anything is possible.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Harry Potter walked me through the universal childhood challenges – the need to figure out who you are as an individual, the desire to be the same as everyone else and the realization that you can only ever be yourself, and ultimately the quest to find meaning in life. It is an entertaining book that captured my imagination and made tackling childhood fun.

The Secret Garden – A story of finding oneself by helping others, I found The Secret Garden to be an illustration of how a person can change when placed within new circumstances and offered new understandings of life. The metaphor of the garden is a visual component of the book that drew me in, allowing me to connect with the story through a personal familiarity of the beauty and tranquility of gardens. Opening your heart to the unexpected is the message I took away from the tale of Mary and Colin.

The Outsiders – The sad circumstances of the characters of this story were heartbreaking. Offering me a window into a realm of life unfamiliar to me, the poverty, underlying message of the need to fight to survive, and the lasting impact of split second decisions spoke to me of lost innocence. The book was a product of its time with a message that still resonates today.

The Story of Ferdinand – With a message of non-violence and pacifism, The Story of Ferdinand introduced me to the concept of internal struggles stemming from external sources. Ferdinand’s resolute determination to smell flowers instead of participate in bull fighting suggested that we all make our own destiny; it is not necessarily determined by the circumstances of our birth.

Reading at any age is an opportunity to step outside of the day-to-day routine. The life lessons learned from books read as a young person have the ability to stick with the reader, ultimately influencing their decisions and helping to shape their world view.

Contributing Writer, Keelin Mayer is passionate about writing, yummy food and nature. She spends her free time exploring forests and mud puddles with her husband and two young sons.

Kickboxing: A Different Kind of Workout


Writer: Teresa Madaleno

It is becoming a popular form of exercise for a number of reasons – it doesn’t require heavy investment in equipment and you can pick the routine up at any time. I am referring to kickboxing. Once a man’s sport, more and more women are now enjoying it and here’s why:

  • Helps you break a sweat within minutes
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Helps you develop lean body
  • Great stress reliever
  • Increases confidence and self-esteem
  • Great for self-defence
  • Good for the heart

Aside from these health benefits, anyone who has ever taken a kickboxing class will tell you that it is a whole lot of “fun”.

One of the nicest parts of kickboxing is that you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy it. People from all walks of life and from all fitness levels take part in this form of exercise. Most kickboxing studios have beginner up to advanced classes. Some places offer one on one lesson.

Kickboxing has its origins in the 2,000-year-old discipline of Muay Tai fighting. It was initially developed as a self-defence tool, but slowly developed into a sport when unarmed combat in warfare became less effective. Today kickboxing is the national sport of Thailand.

Sara Madaleno is a kickboxing instructor and my niece. Sara spent several years as a competitive athlete, specifically in the sports of hockey and soccer. With a degree in psychology and sports studies, as well as a diploma in pre-health sciences, Sara combines her knowledge of human behaviour and her love for fitness to help students at “ilovekickboxing” in Vaughan, Ontario gain confidence in themselves and learn fun, invigorating kickboxing moves. Who can participate in kickboxing? Well, both men and women of all ages. At ilovekickboxing clients range from 13 to 70 years old.

“For some people it is not just about burning hundreds of calories- it’s mentally transformational,” Sara has said.

If you are interested in having a lot of fun, toning those muscles or shedding some pounds, Sara tells me that ilovekickboxing is always offering specials. So take some time to check them out.


What not to do at work

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Work can be incredibly satisfying. It can help us learn and grow in ways we never imagined possible. It can open our eyes to new ideas and opportunities, as well as lead us to financial rewards that help secure a good life outside of work. Let’s be honest though, not every day or every work experience is fantastic. Even those people who appear to have it all (at the office) are sometimes dying inside.

Whether you are one of those people who are silent and dying inside or someone who wears stress and frustration on the outside for everyone to see, there are certain things you must keep in mind when you are at work.

Both psychologists and employment experts agree that while you can’t keep everything bottled up inside all the time, you also have to be diplomatic in your approach to all that is office related.

Here are five things the experts say we should never do:

  • Speak or quit out of anger – it is not unusual to feel a wide range of emotions on the job, especially it you feel strongly about your work. Showing you care is a good characteristic, but losing it and acting out from rage always ends up being regretful. This behaviour is often grounds for firing and it simply makes you look unprofessional. I have to confess, when I was still a television reporter, I once screamed at a producer in front of everyone and while I did not get fired, I am certain I lost the respect of some people in the newsroom.
  • Lie – people tell lies when they think that somehow the truth will do them terrible harm. The truth about a lie at work is that you will likely have to do a lot of scurrying  to cover up your lie and in the end you will get figured out anyway. I remember the first time I caught a co-worker in a lie and I felt not only betrayed, but I no longer felt comfortable working with the individual. I just did not trust him.
  • Tell people you are unhappy – when you admit that you are miserable in your job, it doesn’t benefit anybody. It tells your co-workers and possibly your boss, if it gets back to him or her, that you don’t fit in. Additionally, it drags others in the office down.
  • Burn bridges – no one survives at work without other people. It’s all about relationship building and working together to make the project or company successful. We need each other so don’t burn bridges. Protecting work relationships can be a real asset.
  • Retreat within – while spewing your anger, frustration and negativity throughout the office is not the right move, keeping everything bottled up inside is not healthy. If you have a legitimate concern, discuss it in a professional way with a superior and be ready to offer up a possible solution. Also, think about talking to someone outside the office, such as a career counsellor or psychologist who specializes in work-related stress. Mounting stress can have both a physical and mental impact when it is not dealt with. Some people who are stressed-out due to work find that they become forgetful, which can hurt their work performance.

A study conducted in Canada a few years ago indicated that 51 percent of respondents felt work was a moderate to major stressor in their lives. In the United States the number of people calling in sick due to work-related stress has tripled in the last couple of decades. This is something that not only workers but also employers have to take a serious look at. Studies show that unhappy workers are 10 percent less productive.

Defending The Goldfinch

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

So I finally found the time to sit down and read Donna Tartt’s, The Goldfinch and I am glad I did. This book, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize actually came out in 2013 and has been stirring up controversy ever since.

The book has drawn a long list of rave reviews, but it also has its naysayers. For example, the editor of The Paris Review, one of the most highly regarded literary magazines in the world, has been quoted as saying, “A book like The Goldfinch doesn’t undo any clichés –it deals in them.” Another harsh critic referred to the book as “children’s literature”. While I can see that the book does contain a few boilerplates, it should be recognized for what is really is, a story that brings characters alive, a story that touches various emotions, a story that makes you think.

In the aftermath of a terrorist bombing, a young boy named Theo comforts a dying man who points to the small painting, The Goldfinch. The boy takes this as a sign he should grab the painting and leave the rubble behind. His decision to take the painting leads him on a wild coming-of-age journey, complete with eccentric characters and heartache. That small painting becomes a lifeline to Theo, a reminder of his dear mother who was killed in the bombing.

Tartt’s decision to have Theo tell his own story was a way to draw us deeper into the heart and mind of a tortured boy. She manages to craft a tale that allows you to see his soul. Theo Decker is a prime example of a fantasy feeling like reality. You forget when you put down the novel that Theo is not real, but rather a well-crafted character from an author’s imagination.

Theo’s attachment to his mother is as strong as his distaste is for his reckless father. His heartbreak over the loss of his mother is compounded by his concern for the safe keeping of The Goldfinch. Here is an example of Theo telling his own story. He is sick with a fever and dreaming…

“She came up suddenly beside me so I saw her reflection in a mirror. At the sight of her I was paralyzed with happiness; … She was smiling at me, … not a dream but a presence that filled the whole room … I knew I couldn’t turn around, that to look at her directly was to violate the laws of her world and mine; … our eyes met in the glass for a long moment; but just as she seemed about to speak … — a vapor rolled between us and I woke up.”

If you have ever lost someone who means everything to you, then this passage hits home. It is hard to write grief well, but Tartt does it with vivid and intoxicating language.

It’s not all about Theo, Tartt manages to introduce readers to a whole cast of characters that will keep you turning the pages. Even some who have panned the book for it’s far fetched plot, also admit they had difficulty putting it down.

By the way, The Goldfinch, which is a real painting by Carel Faritius, was never stolen. Today the 1654 painting, sits in the Royal Picture Gallery of The Hague. Believe me, if you haven’t read Tartt’s The Goldfinch yet, this little piece of information will do little to spoil the narrative.

Oh, one more note – The Goldfinch is coming to a movie theatre near you. That’s right, it is going to hit the big screen sometime in 2018. That means you have plenty of time to get through the approximately 900 pages of the book before heading to the theatre.




Overhauling Natural Health Product Regulations in Canada

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

It is believed that anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of Canadians use natural health products on a regular basis. A few years ago an Ipsos poll showed that about 36 percent take supplements.

Research seems to suggest that the use of natural products whether it is supplements, vitamins or natural organic personal care products, is likely to keep growing. The natural health product picture is about to change though. That’s because Health Canada is proposing an overhaul of the industry.

unknownRight now manufacturers of natural health products must apply to Health Canada for a license to sell products. They get a special number that has to appear on their product labels to signal the agency’s approval. However, these manufacturers are not required to provide strong evidence that a product works. Under the new proposed system natural health products, including vitamins, minerals, personal care products, natural household cleaners etc. would all be regulated based on potential health risks that they pose.

This proposed system could classify many vitamin, mineral and homeopathic products as “low risk”, which essentially means that Health Canada would not license them. While they may still meet Health Canada’s quality standards, they wouldn’t be able to put disease or prevention claims on their labels. On the other end of the spectrum, some products could be declared “moderate” or “high risk” and would be able to make claims on labels if enough scientific evidence was available to prove those claims.

Some health law and policy experts welcome the change saying that it is high time consumers really understand what it is they are getting. While others are worried about product availability and are left wondering if it is a cash-grab. You see, part of the proposal suggests imposing user fees to companies that want to sell natural health products. Under the current system, these types of user fees don’t apply to natural health products like they do to other non-prescription drugs.

Opponents of the overhaul say they are worried that a new system of regulation will lead to supplements they love disappearing and increase the cost of the products that are left. Studies show the biggest reason people shy away from purchasing natural health products right now is, price.

There are those who feel so strongly about the overhaul that they have been circulating warnings online – encouraging fellow Canadians to reach out to their local MP’s and let them know they do not want an overhaul.

Do you know where you stand on the issue? Health Canada ends it’s public consultation period on the subject next week, (Oct 24th).

Self-published Authors

Writer: Teresa Madaleno3339059842_2fdbfe1b6a

If you like to write, and I mean really like to write, then you probably know that completing a book is only part of the journey when it comes to getting published. Finding a publisher that is willing to take a chance on you is much tougher in most cases than actually writing the novel itself. Luckily, in recent years the publishing industry has changed dramatically. E-books are now very popular so it is easier to get your work out there and read. As well, there are a number of self-publishing programs that allow writers to publish their own stories at a reasonable cost, and in some cases, free of charge.

While it is true that anyone can self-publish, not all self-published work gets read. It has to be good. It might surprise you to learn how many good books are out there that are self-published. Some of your favorite authors could have started out with self-publishing or perhaps they are still using this route.

Now a household name, David Chilton, the man we all know as a Dragon from CBC’s Dragon’s Den, published The Wealthy Barber out of his basement when he was still studying economics. Today, it is a top book for those who are looking to learn about the basics of investment.

There is also K.A Tucker. She self-published her own Y.A stories for about three years before getting noticed by Atria Books, which is a division of Simon & Schuster. Tucker is the author of the well known, Ten Tiny Breaths, which is the story of a girl trying to start over following a horrible drunk driving accident.

One of the most successful self-published authors of all time is, Michael J Sullivan. Before signing with a traditional publisher, he sold close to 70,000 copies of his Sci- Fi, Fantasy tales all by himself.

“Still Alice” is another book, made into a major motion picture not long ago and it was originally self-published.

If you are looking for a new author to follow, don’t discount self-published works. You just might find a gem.

Zorbing – A different kind of sport


Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Have you ever considered zorbing? Those who have played call it, a “wild experience.”

To play you need a zorb or orb, as some people refer to it. Essentially, it is a transparent plastic ball that you literally crawl inside and then roll down a hill in. Zorbing was invented in New Zealand back in 1994, but is catching on around the world, including here in Canada.

Zorbing works best on gentle slopes and can also be done on flat surfaces, which can allow riders to have more control. There are some zorbing areas that have runs up to a half a mile long. Now if you have never seen or heard of this extreme activity, you are likely wondering about bouncing around and getting injured. The fact is, these spheres are designed to minimize the impact of bumps while you are inside riding them. They are built with a ball inside a ball and with a layer of air between those balls, thus providing protection.

Zorbs or Orbs come in two different styles – harnessed and non-harnessed. Usually, harnessed orbs are built for one or two people and include a seatbelt-like mechanism. Non-harnessed can take up to three riders, but there are no seatbelts and they bounce more than the harnessed orb.

Even though most people enjoy zorbing on land, you can add water inside the ball and make it a wet experience. There are theme parks in the U.K that allow “water walking” by placing the water orbs in a lake or large pool.


If you think zorbing is something you’d like to try, check with some of your local resorts. A number of resorts, including ski hills have been known to offer zorbing.

This extreme sport is not without risk, as is the case with many extreme physical activities. According to the Mail Online, back in 2013 a Russian man died when his inflatable ball accidently plunged off a cliff at a resort. Onlookers reported that they thought the ball was going in one direction when it “suddenly veered” in another and headed straight for the cliff. The tragic accident brought about calls for barriers when zorbing and is a stark reminder to sports enthusiasts to do their homework when choosing a place to go zorbing. You need to know the lay-of-the land before you step foot inside a ball.

Those who have enjoyed zorbing for years say they believe that it can be fun and safe if it is played under the right conditions.

What to know before entering a Mud Run

Madaleno Magazine Guest Contributor: Sam Zeitz


Although many would like to believe they could wake up one day and run a marathon, this isn’t the case. It takes lots of training and dedication, especially if you throw a bunch of obstacles and a slew of mud into the mix.

Mud runs aren’t your traditional race but they have been skyrocketing in popularity over the past few years. They combine the fun and benefits of a marathon and an obstacle course, but with mud splattered all over.

Here is what I have learned and can share about Mud Runs:

Preparing for an event can be very motivational and fulfilling. Having a goal in mind, makes getting in shape seem more of an accomplishment, rather than a task. But where do you start?

Mud runs are tough on the body so you should be sure you’re in good health before you sign up. With the word “run” right in the title you should be expecting lots of cardio. However, take into account the terrain you’ll be running on during the race. It won’t be anything like your treadmill at home! Do your best to work on your cardio outside. It will get your legs ready for the work that is about to come.

Don’t just focus on the running. It is a big part of the event but don’t forget about the obstacles. Body strength is important when it comes to finishing the race. Design a fitness plan that works for you. Make sure to incorporate exercises for all parts of the body. In the event you can face crawling under barbed wire, scaling walls, climbing cargo nets, etc. Some good exercises for training include, burpees, push-ups, pull-ups and lunges.

Since it is a mud run, don’t expect to only get your shoes dirty. There will be mud everywhere but there are showers at the end of the race. Be careful, the sticky mud adds extra weight to your clothes as you continue.

Don’t be nervous. Whether you’re doing this race to be competitive or to see what it’s like, there will be others just like you. When the race starts there are too many bodies to just sprint ahead. Once people get moving the group will spread out and you can move at your own pace.

Samantha Zeitz is an avid sports fan and hockey player. She has played hockey for over 12 years and is currently studying sports broadcasting.

Stopping to Smell the Lavender

Madaleno Magazine Guest Contributor: Keelin Mayer


I find the smell of lavender intoxicating. Subtle yet distinct, I use lavender essential oil for relaxation and enjoy the delicious plant in a refreshing cup of lemonade on hot summer days.

My love for lavender and all things derived from it made my discovery of Prince Edward County Lavender very exciting. Nestled in Hillier, Ontario the owners Rolande and Derek have built an inviting and picturesque oasis that offers visitors a boutique, accessible lavender fields and a charming and comfortable B&B.

From teas and soaps to t-shirts, the Prince Edward County Lavender boutique has something for everyone. Visitors can’t help but walk through the store slowly, smelling and touching products as they go. Access to the fields is available through the store. A moderate two-dollar charge is required for all those wishing to explore the fields, and it is well worth it. Row upon row of purple and white flowers’ invite visitors to stop to inhale the subtle smell and gently caress the fragile flowers.

By happenstance I stumbled upon the farm on a Saturday afternoon in July when Roger Scannura, a Flamenco Guitarist/Composer was serenading guests as they wandered through the fields. My family and I relaxed in the brightly coloured Adirondack chairs scattered throughout the field, while the tranquil melody wafted across the aromatic-air and plump bumblebees flew from one flower to the next. It was a perfect way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.

After returning home, I looked up the company’s website and Facebook page and discovered that the farm hosts an annual Lavender Festival. Running two days in early July, guests are able to enjoy live entertainment, local food, live music and of course, an array of lavender products. I have already made a note on my calendar for next summer!

More information on Prince Edward County Lavender can be found on their website, or Facebook page.

Contributing Writer, Keelin Mayer is passionate about writing, yummy food and nature. She spends her free time exploring forests and mud puddles with her husband and two young sons.

Women Shopping in Men’s Stores

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

UnknownSo how many times have you seen a man in a women’s store fumbling through racks and looking uncomfortable? He’s probably looking for a gift for someone but for some reason he feels and looks uncomfortable. It is interesting that when a woman goes into a men’s store she is usually calm, cool and relaxed as she walks about, touching and rifling through various items. Often she will engage store employees in conversation as she tries to find the perfect tie for Dad or a great shirt for her boyfriend or husband.

Since we are so comfortable in these stores ladies, why are we not taking it a step further and trying some of the men’s clothing on? Yes, I am suggesting that as you thumb through those racks you just might find something that looks great on you. Here is why men’s clothing might be a good option:

  • You will stand out – if you don’t want to look like every other girl on the block, you can stand out by wearing a cool shirt or perhaps a hat from a men’s shop.
  • You will be comfortable – not everyone likes clothing to be skin-tight and this is your opportunity to find something loose fitting. Sometimes you can find funky men’s shirts that serve as dresses.
  • You can find lots of basics and neutrals – generally speaking men don’t go for a lot of flash; they prefer to keep their wardrobes pretty simple. Men’s shops are full of basics, such as plain colored t-shirts and socks. Every girl needs basics in her wardrobe.
  • You can stretch your budget – a lot of pieces that you buy in men’s stores remain in style for a long time, thus saving you money in the long run.
  • You can meet guys – for those ladies who are single, shopping in a men’s store is a good place to meet a new friend – wink, wink.


Studies show that a lot of men shop as if it is a task that has to be completed in a certain amount of time. They find the products they want; sometimes check competitors or alternatives, make a purchase and they are done.

Meanwhile research shows the majority of women, treat the task of shopping as an important mission. They look at a lot of options, try many items on, compare with alternatives, ask about new stock coming into stores, discuss choices with girlfriends, hunt for discounts, put items on lay-a-way, sign-up for store newsletters/e-mails…the steps go on. I doubt adding stop by a men’s shop would bother many of the women who can identify with this way of shopping.

If you love to shop until you drop or if you are just looking to add something different to your wardrobe, consider going to a men’s store.



Fat Busting Foods


Madaleno Magazine Contributing Writer, Marie Russell

Those who know me well understand that I have a keen interest in anything to do with food. This doesn’t mean I know everything about nourishment, but I do like to keep up on the latest research in nutrition. A few years ago zero calorie foods were a big topic of discussion, but now the focus has turned to fat busting foods.

Zero calorie foods are great since they contain fewer calories than the body needs to break them down. Nutritionists account for the energy it takes to chew and digest a food when they calculate calories. Foods like celery and cucumbers are zero calories and can be yummy. You can eat them in large amounts without feeling guilty and without feeling like you are busting a gut. Let’s be honest though, after a while zero calorie foods can be downright boring. For this reason, I like fat busting foods.


Here is a list of some of my favourite fat burning foods:

  • Lentils – one cup includes 35 percent of your daily iron needs. Close to 20 percent of us are iron-deficient. I learned years ago from a nutritionist that our metabolism slows down when you lack a nutrient.
  • Green tea – there is a compound in green tea that can speed up metabolism. I like to keep a jug of green iced tea in the fridge to increase my intake.
  • Low fat dairy – rich in calcium and vitamin D, low fat dairy can help to preserve muscle mass and help you maintain a strong metabolism.
  • Hot peppers – chilli peppers have a compound in them that heats up our body and makes calories melt. You can consume raw, cooked, dried or powdered peppers to burn fat.
  • Grapefruit – this fruit can lower insulin, and regulate metabolism.
  • Spinach and green vegetables – many green veggies fight free radicals and can also help muscle building.
  • Whole grains – in small amounts, quinoa and brown rice prevent the body from storing fat.

There are other examples of fat burning foods, but these are the ones I like and find easy to incorporate into my daily diet. Give some of these a shot instead of limiting yourself to zero calorie foods and see if you shed those few extra pounds you have been wanting to say goodbye to.

Contributing Writer, Marie Russell is a pop-culture expert and self-professed foodie who has been freelance writing for over a decade.




Emoji Equality

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Over the weekend, I was visiting a small Ontario town with a girlfriend when I overheard a group of young people outside an ice cream parlour having a debate about emoji equality. If you haven’t already heard about this, Google employees have suggested a new set of emojis to reflect gender equality in the workplace.

Owl (Hoot) emoji

Emojis are the small digital images used to express an emotion or idea in electronic communication. While some people don’t give a hoot about emojis, they are very important to others. The new proposed emojis include cartoon female engineers, chemists, plumbers and farmers.

In their pitch, Google employees noted that of the 92 percent of online consumers, who use emojis, 78 percent are women, while 60 percent are men. They also said that both women and men are becoming more vocal about the need for more accurate female “representation in emoji professionals”.

Some people are shaking their heads and suggesting we focus on more pressing issues. However, I think we have to look at the bigger picture here.

We already seem to have a racial issue that has boiled over in North America and since our young people are using emojis so much, don’t you think it is a good idea to make sure our youth understand the importance of female equality? Adopting these new emojis could help cement the right images in young minds – both female and male minds. People throw around the words equality and diversity every once-in-a- while, but it is small actions like adopting emoji equality that can actually add up to real change. I guess what I am saying is, every little bit helps when it comes to defining and promoting equality.

For more on the emoji equality issue, check out this July CBC article:




The Buff Stuff Store


Madaleno Magazine Guest Contributor: Keelin Mayer

UnknownI spent a lot of time in and out of doctor’s offices and hospital emergency rooms with my youngest son when he was very little. It was worrisome, to say the least. The issue was his breathing, and while our family doctor did her best to try to identify the underlying issue it wasn’t until I was introduced to a wonderful naturopath that we figured out that my son was allergic to a wide variety of foods, including cow dairy. We immediately altered his diet and saw an improvement in his health.

Fast-forward a year and a bit. My son, at a year and a half was thriving but feeding him was proving extremely challenging due to an increasing list of food allergies including cow, goat and sheep dairy. Haunted by the belief that young children need large amounts of high fat cow’s milk for proper brain development, I worried about the long-term affects of the omission then I discovered the Ontario Water Buffalo Company.

Ontario Water Buffalo Company is a family-run milking water buffalo farm located in Stirling, Ontario. I stumbled upon it when searching for a viable dairy option for my son.

Owners, Lori Smith and Martin Littkemann opened their aptly named Buff Stuff Store in 2014 and sell everything from water buffalo steaks to soaps and cheeses.

My kids and I now make weekly trips to the Buff Stuff Store where we stock up on honey garlic pepperettes and smoked asiago cheese – yum! The staff now know us by name and have taken a genuine interest in my son’s introduction to, and acceptance of, water buffalo products.

While Stirling may be out of the way for some, a trip to the Ontario Water Buffalo Company is well worth it.

More details about their farm and store can be found on their website and Facebook page.


Contributing Writer, Keelin Mayer is passionate about writing, yummy food and nature. She spends her free time exploring forests and mud puddles with her husband and two young sons.

The Little Tart



Madaleno Magazine Guest Contributor: Keelin Mayer

The first time I walked into The Little Tart I felt at home in the space. The bakery was a general store in a previous life, and I could still picture the shelves holding grocery store bread and bags of chips. These items had been replaced with original works of art, humourous food labels and upbeat music, making the room feel unique and inviting.

When I turned my attention to the display case in front of me I stopped dead in my tracks. Before me lay a wide variety of home made delicious looking tarts, cookies and squares. Yum!

I am a sucker for home baking. And I don’t mean the ‘home baking’ of a large corporate company that claims to be “family owned and operated”. What I mean is the home baking that uses great-grandma’s cookie recipe – a secret shared with a select few each generation. Or the lemon meringue pie with peaks so perfect you hesitate eating them because you feel that you are eating works of art.

I purchased my first delicious lemon tart from the shop owner himself. Bill is an easy going, tie-die wearing man who will patiently stand by and watch as you wrestle with yourself, trying to figure out which tart you’re going to indulge in today.

If you have a cottage in the Haliburton area and have not ventured to The Little Tart shop I encourage you to plan a trip there soon. Bill and Theresa work tirelessly during cottage season to stock the shop with their home baking. Be sure to get there early; they tend to sell out!

The Little Tart is located just outside of Haliburton, in Donald, Ontario. Find them on Facebook or visit their blog,

Contributing Writer, Keelin Mayer is passionate about writing, yummy food and nature. She spends her free time exploring forests and mud puddles with her husband and two young sons.


Dogs- A Medic Alert System

Writer: Teresa Madaleno


Teresa's Daughter - Kirsten with their Dog, Sprite

Teresa’s Daughter – Kirsten with their Dog, Sprite

The Madaleno’s who are long standing canine lovers, have always joked that dogs should have jobs. After all, they spend so much time lying around, yet are full of energy and often amaze us with their level of intelligence. Turns out some dogs do have jobs and they can be vital or should I say, life-saving.

Did you know that dogs with their cold, wet noses can be trained to sniff out the presence of the C. difficile superbug among patients? This could give healthcare professionals much needed help in fighting outbreaks of the bacterial infection that are a problem for hospitals around the world.

Clostridium difficile or C. diff as some people call it, is resistant to antibiotics. It can spread easily, quickly and has the potential to be fatal. It is often transmitted from one person to the next in hospital settings.

It turns out that dogs can also smell abnormal drops in blood sugar levels occurring in people with type I diabetes.

Yes – this is for real.

Just a few years ago, one study involving a dog in Amsterdam showed that Cliff (the dog) was able to correctly identify 50 out of 50 positive stool samples of people with C. difficile and 47 out of 50 who were negative. Remarkable considering that Cliff had no previous smell-detection training.

Angus, a springer spaniel is now going to work at Vancouver General Hospital sniffing out C. diff. Hospitals across the globe will be keeping close tabs on the health facility to see if their number of C. difficile cases go down as a result of Angus’s work.

When it comes to diabetes, here is why dogs are able to help. New research out of Cambridge University has found that a fall in blood glucose also leads to a rise in isoprene, which is a natural chemical that we release while breathing. Dogs can smell this chemical on a person’s breath and be trained to alert them. The YouTube video below demonstrates.

Lets face it, we love our pets. No relationship that humans have is really like the attachment we develop for them. These medical discoveries give us yet another reason to, not only adore them, but to treat them with the respect they so obviously deserve!




Fear of Falling

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

So here is something I want to share that is rather personal, but I think others may benefit from what I am about to explain. As people get older the chance of developing basiphobia, which is a fear of falling, increases. Those who are afraid of falling tend to avoid physical activities that in fact can prevent them from falling. Doctors who research falls and hip fractures now say exercises, including those that focus on balance, are great at lowering our apprehension and can mean that as we get older, we will be less likely to fall.

I lost my father a few years ago and strongly believe if it weren’t for his fear of falling, he would not have died at that time. Donato (Dan) was an avid sports fan and golfer. He drove to the ice rink for all his grandchildren’s hockey and soccer games. He coached hockey for many years, he hit the links at least 3 times a week. Dan also owned his own home, cut his own one acre property, did his own shopping, snow shoveling etc. He was self-sufficient. However, one day he tripped over something he dropped in the hallway outside a washroom in his home. That was the beginning of the end.

Teresa & her Dad (Dan)

Teresa & her Dad (Dan)

Since he had difficulty getting up, didn’t have a cell phone and could not get to his landline, he laid on the floor for over 24 hours, desperate for someone to come help him up. His frustration and his attempts to get up led to a mild stroke. My siblings and I thought it would be okay. He was an active guy so with some physiotherapy and TLC he would get back on track. Besides, this was the same man that had brain surgery five years earlier and stunned doctor’s at Toronto Western with his incredible mental and physical recovery. What we were not taking into account however, was that he might be afraid of falling again.

No matter what we said or did, no matter what the doctors and physiotherapists said or did, there was no way he was going to attempt to stand-up or walk again. As a result, he grew weaker and weaker. We exhausted all attempts at physical therapy. Special equipment to encourage him to take steps and tempting him with visions of returning to the golf course did not work – nothing worked. Eventually, his will to go on faded.

Dan quickly lost strength not only in his legs, but in other body parts. It became difficult for him to even lift a fork or spoon in order to eat. Staying hydrated and nourished was difficult even with the help of dedicated nurses and doctors. One week before his 85th birthday, his body gave in and his life ended.

I have many friends, neighbors, associates, and clients who have elderly relatives. I would hate for them to have to watch their loved one go through what our Dad experienced.

Susan Friedman a geriatrician at the University of Rochester Medical Center who studies falls has reported that even after extensive physical therapy many people become depressed and frail. She calls the fear of falling a “vicious cycle” and suggests that meditative exercise like Tai Chi can help lessen apprehension in those who may experience a fall.

If you have an elderly parent Tai chi may be a good preventative measure for them. The National Council on Aging states that every 13 seconds in the United States, an older adult is treated in the emergency department for a fall and every 20 minutes, an older adult dies as a result of a fall. The numbers are much the same in Canada.

The recent research suggests that exercise is the best way to prevent falls and reduce fear of falling. In 2014, a review of multiple studies on fear of falling and various exercises, including Tai Chi, showed that exercise provides significant benefit when it comes to improving balance, coordination and simply walking. One study, conducted in the United States found that Tai chi was more effective than any other form of exercise.

According to the U.S department of Health and Human Services Tai Chi, which involves moving the body slowly, gently and with awareness of deep breathing, has multiple physical benefits that give people of all ages’ confidence in their body’s strength. Tai Chi includes, aerobic exercise, coordination, flexibility, and balance. The practice has been known to ease pain and stiffness thus encouraging the elderly to participate more freely in other day-to-day activities.

There are some studies underway to test the use of virtual reality exposure therapy as a way to treat people who have a fear of falling. Virtual reality exposure therapy or VRT is a method of psychotherapy that uses virtual reality technology to treat people with anxiety disorders and phobias. It is a primary treatment for PTSD.

Geriatric specialists admit that Tai Chi isn’t for everyone, but insist that exercise of any kind can help improve strength, balance and confidence, especially as we age. If you know someone who is getting older and is sedentary, I urge you to get him/her moving. If you know someone who is active, but has had a fall please consider that they may suffer from basiphobia and do whatever it takes to get him or her help. Traditional physiotherapy is important, but non-traditional therapies and/or psychotherapy like VRT may make the difference when it comes to sustaining life.




Children and the Climate Change Debate

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Drought impact
The topic of climate change and its potential impact on our world has spurned much debate in recent years. The Paris Climate Talks in December 2015 seemed to reignite the masses response to issues surrounding global warming.

What is particularly interesting to me is that rising temperatures and the increase in extreme weather phenomena impact our lives, but will in some cases forever alter the lives of our own children. Still, children don’t really have as much to do with climate change discussions, as they should.

I am pleased to see that Princeton University and the Brookings Institution has taken notice of this and recently published a paper calling for the world’s children to become a “central part of the climate change debate.”

As the Princeton report points out, by 2050 the world is expected to see as many as 200 million environmental migrants. A great number of these migrants will be children. An environmental migrant is someone who is forced to leave their home region because of sudden changes to their environment that could impact their wellbeing. Drought, flooding, and drastic fluctuations in sea level are some reasons for displacement.

The paper titled, “The Future of Children”, outlines how climate change will affect children’s health and wellbeing.

“When we consider that people today must pay the price of efforts to mitigate climate change but people in the future will reap the benefits, all of these uncertainties make it harder to decide how to balance future generations’ wellbeing against our own,” said Janet Currie who is the senior editor from Princeton.

Essentially the paper zeroed in on four specific themes – that climate change will alter earth in a way that threatens children’s physical and mental wellbeing, both today’s kids and future generations will bear the brunt of the burden created by global warming, poor children face the greatest risks, and uncertainties associated with climate change make it hard to enforce appropriate climate change policies.

The paper calls for much more research to determine the impacts of climate change – social, economic and health wise on our children.

For more information about “The Future of Children” publication click on the link below:


How to edit your own writing

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Four eyes or eight or 10 or 12 or 14 are much better than two. However, there are times when content has to be turned around quickly and that means you have to write and edit your own work fast – there is no time to pass your writing off to someone else to check.

The demand for engaging, accurate content is growing so if you want to be a writer you have to learn how to self-edit. Sure, if you are working for a big publishing house you will have an editor; maybe even a group of editors, reviewing your work before the public reads it. If you are blogging, writing web content or working for a small organization, you have to learn to edit yourself.

Here are my top 6 tips for becoming a better self-editor:

  • Don’t edit while you write, just write and remember the editing will come later.
  • Read your work in a different format. For example, you might consider printing out a blog or read it on a different platform like an e-reader. Sometimes it is easier to catch mistakes when you change your view.
  • Most people write too much so cut out 5 to 10 percent of the content. Remove anything that sounds repetitive, get rid of overstated arguments, and eliminate unnecessary adjectives.
  • Don’t depend too much on spellcheck. Go ahead and use spellcheck but use your eyes more. Remember spellcheck is not foolproof. Some words sound the same, but are spelled different and only your eyes can catch those. Spellcheck has also been known to point out words that are in fact spelled the right way so following every spellcheck suggestion could be a mistake.
  • Read your piece backwards. You can become so familiar with the material you have produced that mistakes will slide past you when you read. Reading backwards can help you catch mistakes since the copy suddenly becomes less familiar.
  • Read your copy out loud. I have always found that I catch more mistakes when I read my copy out loud.

While self-editing sounds easy, I really can’t stress how important it is to have extra eyes on your work whenever possible. No matter how good a writer you might be, no matter how detail oriented you might think you are, mistakes can be missed. Some best selling books are even guilty of not being well edited. For example, “The Hunger Games” has a comma overload problem and the popular book, “Fifty Shades of Grey” forgot to edit out the 5 to 10 percent of unnecessary content and has serious punctuation issues. When I wrote my non-fiction book, “Girl Power: Chronicles of the True Power of Female Friendships”, it had several eyes and a professional editor, yet the first print still had a typo on the back cover. Yikes – I was mortified.

You get the point, editing is a very important part of the writing process.







PR-How do I start?


KTML solutions

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

I enjoy working with small businesses. I think it has something to do with my tendency to cheer for the underdog. Current data suggests that about 50 to 55 percent of small businesses die by year four or five. The top reason they fail – inexperience.

Some of that inexperience has to do with promoting their company, message, product, services etc. When a small business owner comes to my company (KTML Communications) all excited and eager to “get noticed”, here is what I ask them.

  • Are you ready?
  • Have you established your identity?

Often times, the response is a blank stare. This is when I know the potential client needs to take a step back and assess. They may not be ready for PR, at least not yet.

Being ready means that your product or service is the best version of itself. Being ready means you are confident it can and will get good reviews. No reporter or blogger will be interested in you or your company if you are not ready. If you are not ready, you could experience negative press. Make certain you are ready before starting PR.

Before you can tell the world who you are and what you are all about, make sure you know exactly who you are and what you are all about. You need to know your values, your company culture, who your competitors are and what makes you different from them, and if you are doing anything that is unique.

In a nutshell, you have to fix you/your company before you can tell your story. Now don’t panic. While it is true that KTML can’t fix you, my communications company can guide you to people who can teach you how to get ready and establish your identity. 

Once you are ready and are comfortable with your identity you can start PR . We would  be happy to tell you how.

So you can be a survivor. It just takes thought and careful planning and of course, some long hours.

Interviewing Tips

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

interviewingAside from people asking for advice on writing, I am often asked the question: How can I become a good interviewer? I have had young journalists, human resource professionals, law enforcers, health professionals, students and business managers ask me to teach them how to be better at interviewing.

To teach interviewing is difficult, but here are some tips that can help you to really connect with people.

  • Prepare– this is the most important part of the interviewing process. You have to study up on the subject’s background. Large business organizations and some news organizations have a staff whose job is to collect background information. Not everyone has the luxury of a staff to collect background so do your homework yourself if you have to. Your background research will not only familiarize you with the subject, it will give you confidence going into a conversation, as well as make your subject more comfortable about opening up to you.
  • Ditch the notes: Many people make the mistake of carrying their research notes to the interview and clutching on to them like they are a life preserver. Don’t do that – get rid of those notes once you have read over them. It is best to take a more casual approach and allow the conversation to flow naturally. Having those notes with you can be a distraction. For example, what if the interview subject says something really intriguing, but you are hung up on the next point in your background notes and don’t pick up on this great opportunity to dive in and ask a question based on what you just heard?
  • Focus on connecting: Good interviewers are able to make people feel at ease. When a person feels at ease, they are more likely to talk and reveal interesting tid-bits about themselves. One way to make people comfortable is to match their mood during the interview. For example, if they seem like they want to be serious- you should be serious, if they seem like they are high energy – you should use high energy. Matching their mood, tone, energy level, language style; both verbal and body language, will go a long way in helping secure a good connection.
  • Empathize : It has always been thought that reporters and people who hold powerful corporate positions don’t care about people. They just care about getting the job done. If you show people a little understanding when you are having a conversation with them, they are more likely to open up to you.
  • Absorb your surroundings: Whether the interview takes place in an office, a house, or at some other location, glance around. There could be books, trophies, and photos etc. that reveal something about your subject and will spurn questions.
  • Establish ground rules: People use the term “off the record” a lot, but sometimes they don’t fully understand it. In other cases, they may understand what the term means, but once you discuss with them what you’d like to include in your writing or report and exactly how you would present it, they change their minds.

Good interviewing skills are important in building new relationships, gathering information or just becoming a good conversationalist.

The best questions to ask are those that are open-ended. They begin with How? What? Where? When? Why? They encourage expansive answers. One of the things I can remember from my days of teaching college journalism was how students would make the mistake of asking “yes” or “no” questions. Here is an example…

Journalism student: “Did it feel good rescuing the dog from the frigid waters of the lake?

Interview subject “Yes”.

Journalism Student:Were you worried you were going to drown along with the dog?”

Interview subject: “Yes”.

Journalism student: “Were you glad when you made it to shore?”

Interview subject: “Yes”.

Not too riveting.

This would be a better approach…

Journalism student: “What did rescuing the dog in those frigid water feel like?”

Interview subject: “It was freezing, but I am glad I went in and I am so relieved that I was able to reach him.”

Journalism student: “What was going through your mind as you ran into the water to rescue the dog? Why did you do it?”

Interview subject: “I just knew I had to reach the little guy. I used to have a dog and know what it is like to lose a pet.”

Journalism student: “Tell me how you felt when you realized that both you and the dog were safe on shore?”

Interview subject: It all happened so fast, but I was happy it all worked out. I’m just glad I spotted the little guy and was able to help.”

It’s important to remember that we are human and can make mistakes. In an interview situation, it is okay to edit yourself. In other words, you can say ‘Excuse me, but that was not a great question, let me put in another way…’

Interviewing can be a lot of fun; it does not have to be a chore. You never know where an interview can lead and that is what can make it exciting.

What is and isn’t news?

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

So you want/need some media attention!

If you own a business, feel passionate about a cause or want to bring an issue out in the open, the media can be a great communication tool, but just because you think you have something important to share with an audience doesn’t mean journalists, assignment editors and news editors will agree that you have a story worth telling.

In order to get media attention you have to understand what news is. Getting a story published in a newspaper or having it broadcast on a newscast isn’t going to happen just because you want it to or because you hired a PR firm to help you. It simply doesn’t work that way. You have to think like a journalist and the organization they work for.

Every time a story idea comes across a reporter’s desk, the first question that comes to them is – Why would my audience care about this? They then put themselves in the position of the audience or reader and answer that question. Clearly if there is no answer the story idea dies.

When my clients have a hard time with this I ask them to go through some basic questions:

  • Is it new?
  • Is it unique?
  • Is it timely? (Related to something else in the news right now)
  • Is it shocking?
  • Does it involve conflict?
  • Does it involve emotion?
  • Is it surprising
  • Is it scandalous
  • Does it involve Hypocrisy?

You might not like the above questions, but the truth is a “yes” to any of these questions means you stand a chance of getting your story/message heard and if you answer “no” to all of the question, your chances are slim.

All is not lost if you come up with “no”. We live in the social media age, where blog posts, tweets, and Instagram, which can include photographs and video help us share our messages. Content marketing on our websites can also go a long way in telling stories. In these cases, reporters are not required.

It is true that anyone can post, tweet, and send out news releases. This means we are in a very big pool of people all fighting for attention and getting traditional media attention once-in-a-while is still important for some companies. While some can afford fancy events, or the release of pricey research studies to attract attention, others may have to use data from small phone or e-mail surveys to grab media coverage. With a little thought and planning questions in a simple survey can result in new and interesting information that can shed light on an issue that is newsworthy to reporters.

It’s all about being thoughtful, creative, and at the same time realistic about your expectations. It is also important to remember to take baby steps- if it is your first attempt at working with the media, don’t discount local coverage. In other words, you don’t have to make the front page of the New York Times – sometimes coverage in your local newspaper or in a small trade magazine can lead to great things.


My Ancestral Home: Castropignano – Campobasso, Molise-Italy









Rome, the capital of Italy, is a popular tourist attraction with its inspiring art, architecture and culture on full display. The ancient ruins, including the Roman Forum and the Colosseum help visitors imagine a time long ago when the Roman Empire ruled. Rome gets about 30 million tourists per year, but there are so many parts of Italy that are beautiful and worth seeing.


Take a 3-hour drive southeast of Rome towards the Matise mountains and you will be entering Campobasso, the region of my ancestral home. To the northeast it is bordered by the Adriatic Sea, on the North by Abruzzo, to the southeast, Apulia, and Campania in the south. Here there is a mixed landscape with towns, cities and villages that run through hills and cliffs. Situated at an elevation of 2-thousand feet above sea level is a quaint little town called “Castropignano”. Due to its elevation it is often called the “Balcony Over The Biferno River Valley”. From the town you can see a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding towns and hillsides. This is where the Madaleno family home is located.

Quaint street in Castropignano

Quaint street in Castropignano

Castropignano is a very small town with three interesting historical monuments: Evoli Castle, Church of San Salvatore, and Ruins of the Church of San Nicola.

Evoli Castle

Evoli Castle

Evoli Castle was built in 1362 by nobleman Giovanni d’Evoli. He was the founder of a large herding practice called “transhumance”. Transhumance is the practice of moving livestock from one grazing area to another in a seasonal cycle – normally to lowlands in winter and highlands in the summer. In 1636 Giambattista d’Evoli transformed the castle into a residential palace with elaborate works of art and furniture. Over the centuries transhumance and the society/culture associated with it declined. In the early 19th century the castle was stripped of everything and abandoned. Within a few decades it was in ruins; however, it’s charm and mystery remains a draw to this day.

For many centuries Castropignano has been known as an agricultural community, producing high quality wine, cheese and olive oil. When it comes to food, tradition is important here. Residents try to stay true to their roots when it comes to mealtime; using fresh ingredients and focusing on a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Antonio Madaleno Teresa's Nonno

Antonio Madaleno
Teresa’s Nonno


Family solidarity is everything in Castropignano. This is very different from our Canadian “nuclear family” mentality. In Castropignano extended family is extremely important so everyone is included, not just mom, dad, and the kids. This is one of the reasons any kind of celebration can become big. My late Nonno (grandfather), brought this tradition of family solidarity with him when he moved  to Canada. Our gatherings at his house always included the whole family, as well as many friends, especially at mealtime.


Events are always big in Castropignano even though the town is small. Last year (2014), an old tradition was carried out in the streets of Castropignano to honour the institution of marriage. You can see in the link below how big the event became.

There are many small towns and villages across Italy that are worth noting, Castropignano is just one of them. If you are travelling this great country and find yourself in the Molise Region, visit this little town and take a step back in time.














The New Status Symbol

Plastic for luxuries

Plastic for luxuries

Watches, jewellery, lavish houses, luxury cars, designer sunglasses, and exclusive gym memberships – millions of North Americans whip out the plastic to buy these items even when they can’t afford them. Why? Do you suppose it is because they need them? I suspect not. It probably has more to do with the fact that they want to belong to a club filled with those who do have the money to live in luxury. In other words, these items are status symbols.

As it turns out, to keep up with the latest, ultimate status symbol, you are going to have to think long and hard before you leap. Kids; a lot of kids is today’s ultimate status symbol according to well known psychologist and author, Wednesday Martin.

The New York based PhD. just recently released her latest book, Primates of Park Avenue. It’s an in depth look into the lives of the mothers who live in her Upper East Side neighbourhood. Specifically, Martin dives into their social behaviour and family life. What she notices is a trend that is happening not only in New York City, but also in other communities across North America.

When Martin first moved to the Upper East Side she didn’t give much thought to how many children people had; however, over time she realized that just like 40 became the new 30 and 50 became the new 40; when it came to kids – three was the new two, then four was the new three. Pretty soon, “Five was no longer crazy or religious –it just meant you were rich,” Martin recently said.

Considering how expensive it is to raise a big family, it makes sense that more kids equals – status symbol. In a place like New York City, nannies, private school and summer camp are standard expenses so it may not seem like a fair assessment. Yet, social experts say it is expensive to raise kids anywhere. In the United States, government statistics place the average cost of raising one child at just under $250,000. As a matter of interest that figure would likely double if you lived in Manhattan. In Canada, the average cost to raise one child from birth to age 18 is set at around $245,000.

Beyond 18 is a different story. There is always the high cost of post-secondary education to consider. When parents can’t afford to foot that bill, their kids get saddled with debt from student loans, which ultimately means they have less money to start their own families (when they are old enough) since they are focused on paying back what they owe.

So if status is really important to you, think hard about what symbol might actually mean something to you in the long run. If the ultimate symbol (kids) is on your list, you just might have to pass on that cottage, speedboat or the luxury cars.

Also, keep in mind that often we focus too much on what we stand to lose, instead of all that we have already gained in our lives.



Reasons to love New York City


Living on the outskirts of Toronto means I have easy access to a rash of great city buildings, a multitude of vibrant neighbourhoods, an electric entertainment district, a culture embedded in art, music and great food, as well as world-class landmarks, such as the CN Tower. I am proud to be part of the Toronto landscape, but a big part of my heart belongs to New York City.

Some of my friends and family would agree that New York City is like no other place on earth, but then there are those in my life that haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit the Big Apple. To those people I say, here are some of the reasons you too will fall in love with NYC.

Chicago may be the birthplace of the skyscraper, but New York’s Empire State and Chrysler Buildings are two of the most noteworthy structures to grace the sky. New York City has close to 6 thousand high-rise buildings. The Twin Towers, destroyed by terrorists in 2001 helped secure Manhattan’s place as a skyscraper king.

It is not just the height but the history and architecture that make these buildings fascinating to people around the world. Some of New York’s skyscrapers date back to the early 1900’s. The Flat iron building for example opened in 1902. Located at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, it was originally built as the headquarters of the Fuller Construction Company. It was supposed to be named the Fuller Building, but was quickly called “Flat Iron” due to its unusual shape caused by the triangle plot it was developed on.

It may not be a really tall structure like the Woolworth building, G.E building, Bank of America or MetLife building; however, the Dakota, which was built way back in 1884 is one of New York’s most famous buildings. The renaissance architecture can’t help but catch the eye of passersby. Located on the northeast corner of 72nd and Central Park in the Upper West side of Manhattan, the apartment building is best known as the former home of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and sadly, the site of Lennon’s murder.

Times Square 2013

Times Square 2013

If you are like me and have no sense of direction, New York City should be a dream come true. When I visited Manhattan for the first time I could not believe how easy it was to navigate. A plan in 1811 to develop New York’s pattern of numbered avenues and streets led to a lot of city development and to this day supports a constantly flowing fast-pace of life. If you forget your GPS at home, you don’t have to worry – you will get to where you need to go.

New York City has the largest and longest subway system in the world. The system also has the most number of lines, making it easy for residents and visitors to get to their chosen destination. Subway trains run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Pay-per-ride MetroCards are one of the best ways to get around. If the subway isn’t for you then it’s easy enough to just hail a taxi. No-where in the world have yellow cabs become more of an icon. There are over 13 thousand yellow (medallion) cabs licensed to operate in the NYC.

New York does the musical better than anywhere else in the world. Some historians believe it was a five-and-a-half-hour-long show on Broadway called The Black Crook that signaled the beginning of the musical phenomenon back in 1866. Since that time, the city has more than earned its place as the champion of the musical. Today even actors and actresses from London’s West End are drawn here to perform.

The city oozes art and culture. People come from all over the world to live here and practice their craft- be it painting, sculpting, dancing, singing, acting etc. New York’s mix of creativity and energy makes it one of the most interesting cities in the world. There is the potential for a surprise around every corner.

With at least one third of its residents coming from somewhere else in the world, it should come as no surprise that the United Nations Headquarters is in New York’s midtown area.

Teresa relaxing in Central Park 2009

Teresa relaxing in Central Park 2009

Central Park serves as an example for city parks around the world. Situated in the center of Manhattan, it includes several fountains, playgrounds, baseball fields, ice rinks, bodies of water, tennis courts, and other facilities. It is a welcome escape from the busy city. Since the early 1900’s over 240 films have been shot in the park. Central Park was the first landscaped public park in the United States. The first area of the park opened to the public in 1858.

Often when you visit a big city you meet a lot of stressed out people. The demands of job and family seem to be too much. Interestingly enough, my experience in New York is that of happy people. The stress doesn’t seem to show. I have always been greeted with smiling faces and an open, friendly attitude. Recently, I learned that NYC residents live about 2 years longer than the national average. In 2010, A New Yorker’s life expectancy at birth was estimated to be 80.9 years.

While I write about the virtues of NYC there is a long list of creative minds that have been singing their hearts out for the city over many decades. New York State of Mind became one of Bronx Born, Billy Joel’s biggest hits. Our current generation is familiar with Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys and Jay Z. It became Keys top selling single. Rufus Wainwright, Public Enemy, Paul Simon, Beastie Boys, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Lady Gaga, Neil Diamond, George Gershwin, Elton John and at least 50 other well-known artists have written songs about NYC too.

Today 8 million people live in New York’s five boroughs. According to a 2010 New York Times article an astounding 800 different languages are used in New York. Thanks to the city’s diversity and artistic flavour, it is one of the cultural capitals of the world – more than enough reason to visit if you haven’t already.






Some of The Best Writing Advice I Have Received

During my writing career I have been fortunate enough to meet, as well as work with some really accomplished journalists, news directors, editors, professors and authors. Along the way I have learned a great deal from all of them…so whenever I get asked for writing advice I like to refer to what they once told me; tips that I took to heart. I hope you find this advice as helpful as I have.

The best of the best writing tips…

  • Tell the stories that only you can tell. There are always going to be better writers than you, but you are the only you on the planet.
  • Consistency in your writing is key!
  • If you don’t take time to read a lot, don’t bother taking time to write.
  • Don’t kid yourself – the first draft is never close to what the final draft should look like.
  • Don’t spend time with people who are not going to support your writing efforts.
  • Collect stories from everyone you meet.
  • Every sentence should do one of two things: reveal something or advance the action.
  • Get a copy of Elements of Style.
  • Read your copy out loud.
  • Write every day.



Getting Noticed


Whether we are talking about personal relationships or career, we all want to have some level of success and in order to do that we need to attract attention.

Think about it; when we are kids we do all sorts of things to get our elders to notice us, as teenagers we try to get the attention of other teenagers to build friendships, as adults we attempt to get the bosses attention in the hopes of landing that big promotion or raise. Virtually everyone is scrambling to get noticed. Businesses are no different, but in our global world where the internet and big advertising dollars stretch far and beyond, it can seem like an impossible task for the little guy to get any consideration at all

Given the right attitude and the right strategy, small companies need not finish last. There are many creative, inexpensive steps that you can take to increase your company profile. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Show off your talent and knowledge

You can do this by offering to give free speeches to organizations/associations in your town or city. Joining some of these organizations, especially those that are business related is also a great networking option. Tapping into your local College or University to share your knowledge and experience is also worth exploring.

  • Reach out to local media

You don’t have to have a public relations team to speak to a reporter. Although it is hard to get heard, you have nothing to lose. If you have something interesting to say, try reaching out to the media to share your views. You just might be invited to speak on a radio or TV show or you could get quoted in a newspaper or online media site

  • Use Social Media regularly

The web is accessible and inexpensive so if you aren’t using it today, start tomorrow. It is easy to set up a social media account and if you are not the tech type, you can be sure that someone in your office is and can assist you. It’s easier than you might think.

  • Talk shop

While many people say you shouldn’t talk shop in social settings, often times talking shop can be fun and interesting at non work-related gatherings. Share with people, especially people you are meeting for the first time. You never know when you might be talking to someone who you can partner with or who can add more value to what you are doing.

  • Read and listen

Pay close attention to what is happening in local, national and international news. There could be something going on that relates to your business and gives you a jumping off point to open new dialogue with the media.

  • Develop a community presence

Get involved in the community where your company is located. It can be in a big or small way. It could be as simple as volunteering at a charity golf tournament or donating an item to an event that includes a silent auction. Some companies have a team of their employees volunteer at charity events. Media often attend these events, making it a face-to-face chance to chat with them.

There are other steps you can take when it comes to building attention on your own, but just applying a few of the strategies mentioned above have been known to help many small businesses.

Writing Groups



Writers like to discuss their work with other writers, much like painters tend to hang out with other painters. A lot of it has to do with support.

Being an artist is not for everyone. There is a certain level of uncertainty attached to artistry that some people are uncomfortable with. The majority of writers for example are not connected in any way to the top levels of success. There is much more certainty in other professions. This is one of the reasons writers groups are becoming more popular – they serve as a great support system for people who already make a living from writing, want to make a living at it or just write as a hobby.

I have been writing my entire career and just recently joined two writing groups, one in my local neighbourhood and one in a town not far away. Both groups serve as great motivation for future projects. I always walk away learning something from our discussions. It is also nice to know that I can share my knowledge with those who are new to the writing game.

During one of my last meet-ups a discussion came up about the most difficult part of the writing process. Several people stated that the middle of their stories often fell flat while the beginning and end tended to be stronger. We each threw ideas on the table for improving “the middle”. Some of the ideas were note-worthy, others were destined for the trash. The discussion eventually parlayed into a debate about the best guides for those who are new to writing.

I won’t say one writing guide is better than the other; however when it comes to beginning, middle and end, Nancy Kress does an excellent job in her Elements of Fiction Writing. She shows you how to find effective ways to tackle problems as you build your story. Everything from creating drama, revealing characters effectively, developing credibility and controlling prose is covered in this guide. Following the advice in Elements of Fiction Writing-Beginnings, Middles, Ends can help writers get their story off to an exciting start, keep the readers engaged through the middle, and end with a bang. Easy exercises are included in the book to help you strengthen your writing skills.

If you are a beginner or amateur writer, Elements of Fiction Writing is a tool you might want to consider.

Can Writing Really Be Taught?

Some novelists enjoy debating whether the art of writing can really be taught. Teachers on the other hand look at it from a more practical point of view. They have seen evidence that suggests people can learn to be better writers.

To teach writing isn’t always an easy task; however, what teachers do can make a major difference in what students are able to achieve as writers. Theory and lectures are fine, but students need to write a lot – they need to be given time to write and revise. As someone is rethinking and revising they are able to slowly bring about improvements. Writing and revising is not enough though; they need to read. Reading anything and everything makes a person a better writer. When I was teaching post-graduate journalism students I would often have them take a break from a writing exercise so they could read or so I could read to the class. It doesn’t matter what you are reading if you are interested in being a writer; just read, read, read.

While as a budding writer you have to work hard at the craft, your teacher needs to do his/her part. The teacher needs to be well versed in theory and be able to turn that theory into practice. He/she must also be able to adjust to the individual styles of each student. I am a firm believer that when it comes to writing, one-on-one instruction is vital. I also believe that general comments on a paper don’t help a student; line-by-line dissection does.

New writers must be encouraged to develop their skills outside the classroom. It is not enough to simply use good habits once-in-a-while. When you think about it, we all do an excessive amount of writing in our daily lives: emailing, texting, blogging, making web-sites, keeping diaries or journals, working on projects or sending someone a birthday card. It is helpful when teachers emphasize good writing outside the classroom and when they can extend projects outside class, making writing more relevant for students.

It can be flattering to feel that someone’s work is a gift as opposed to labour so it is understandable why some argue that writing can’t be taught. Consider this though – if people can really argue that writing can’t be taught then the same would be true for many other creative endeavours such as painting, singing and dancing. We don’t hear many people debating whether or not these forms of artistic expression can be taught.
















Banned Books

For hundreds of years books have caused controversy. This controversy swirls around the issue of banning; the removal of material that for some reason an individual or group finds offensive.

Books are usually challenged with good intentions.  For example, people want to protect children from inappropriate language or sexual content. In some cases, people argue that some books are “unsuited” for any age group.  Sometimes the objections get out of hand. If we banned every book just because someone found one word in it objectionable, shelves would likely be empty.

Since the first book was printed on paper back in the 1400’s many attempts have been made, and continue to be made to ban books.  Here’s a look at books that have been banned. Some of the titles may surprise you.

Ulysses by James Joyce:

This book was banned in the United States from 1918 to 1930 after being declared “obscene”.  Fans of Joyce fought feverishly to have the ban lifted and finally succeeded in 1933.

Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault:

An illustrated edition of the book was banned in two California school districts back in 1989 as the book shows the heroine taking food and wine to her grandmother. People complained about the use of alcohol in the story.

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain:

This book has been banned from the juvenile section of the Brooklyn Public Library and banned from the library in Concord, MA.  There have also been lawsuits over its use as a teaching tool at the high school level in the United States. People have objected to what they call “offensive” words in the book.

The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare:

Known around the world as a literary masterpiece, the Merchant of Venice was banned from classrooms in Midland Michigan in 1980. This was due to its portrayal of the Jewish character Shylock. It was also banned in schools in Buffalo and Manchester New York in the 1930’s.

The Bible:

In some countries around the world it is illegal to manufacture the bible and in other places the bible is banned. For example, in 2005 Scotland’s Edinburgh University banned Bibles from campus residence halls, calling it discriminatory and unwelcoming to students who were of different faiths. In 2006 a British airline banned bibles for airline personnel flying to Saudi Arabia, afraid of upsetting Muslims with non-Islamic material.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank:

This story of a hopeful young girl who died in the holocaust was banned by the Alabama State Book Committee in 1993 because it was “a real downer”.  It has often been described as one of the best examples of the theme of good versus evil.

Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum:

A true classic – first published in 1900, adapted for stage in 1902 and then making it to screen in 1939, the Wizard of Oz was banned by the city of Chicago in 1928 in all of its public libraries.  In 1957 the Detroit Public Library also banned the book. The management said the book had “no value for children” and brought children’s minds to a “cowardly level”.

Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs:

The Tarzan series of books were banned in Los Angeles, California in 1929 because although Tarzan and Jane are fictional characters, they are living in the jungle together without being married- yes Tarzan and Jane, living in sin!

The Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling:

Not everyone sees the Potter series as a powerful and magical story and an example of standing up for your friends. Some people see it as an inappropriate depiction of witchcraft for Christians. Among those who have banned Harry Potter, a Massachusetts Catholic school.

So now you think you have heard it all? Maybe not… Did you know that a southern California school board banned the dictionary?  It was banned in 2010. They pulled the Merriam-Webster Dictionary off shelves after a parent complained about the definition of “oral sex” in the book.

How To Generate Ideas For Essays

At some point most of us have had to write an essay or a short piece of writing. It might be something that you have to do on a regular basis; it might be something you have to do right now.

Many people; particularly students, say the hardest part of essay writing is getting started. They often grapple with what to write about. Generating ideas for your essay or short body of work doesn’t have to be that difficult. Below are a few suggestions that I often share with people who ask me, “how can I come up with ideas?”

  • Free Writing – this is the practice of writing down the first thing that pops into your head. It doesn’t really matter if it seems disconnected or if the grammar and spelling is all wrong, just get it down on paper. Often times writing without rules can bring out the best ideas. A good way to free-write is to type nonstop for several minutes without lifting your fingers from the keyboard. Don’t stop to think about making corrections. If you get stuck then type the word “stuck” or “free” until a new word pops into your head. While the paper may not look pleasing to the eye, it doesn’t matter because you are writing for yourself at this stage. You will see once you go back and read that a certain word, phrase or a sentence will likely formulate a great idea for a specific  essay.
  • Reading – books, magazines, newspapers, the Internet, even flyers and posters can help generate great ideas. Reading information from a variety of sources can stimulate our thinking and provide us with all sorts of new concepts worth exploring. Sometimes the best approach is to read about topics you enjoy. It can be difficult to immerse ourselves in subjects that we find boring or hard to comprehend. When we read about topics that interest us, we tend to ask more questions. Sometimes those questions can lead to essay ideas.
  • Talking – when we are open to communicating with others about our difficulty it can lead to fresh ideas. We can talk to who ever we want about our essay or writing project. Don’t be afraid to approach anyone who you are comfortable with and you know will be open-minded. It could be siblings, parents, professors, close friends, neighbours, co-workers or someone you admire for their work.
  • Airwaves – most of us have discussed with a friend or co-worker something we have heard on a radio or television broadcast. Think about it – if radio and TV generates that much conversation then it can generate ideas too. For example, I recently heard about an awful fire at a nursing home in Whitby Ontario. This could generate all sorts of essay ideas…like Nursing Home Safety, Caring for Elderly, Retirement Home Standards, Women in Firefighting, the Physics of Firefighting, and The Stress of Professional Firefighting. The point is that just like newspapers and magazines, daily news programming is a good jumping off point for many people searching for topics to write about.
  • Associations- most communities have associations, clubs or networks that meet from time to time. Many even have guest speakers that give presentations on interesting topics. It is worth finding out what groups exist in your neighbourhood and who is going to be speaking in the near future. Perhaps whatever they are going to be talking about could lead to an idea for you.

I am sure there are other ways to generate ideas, but I have found the above very helpful and I hope you do too. If you have any tips on generating essay or article ideas, I would love to hear from you so I can pass them on to readers.






















Why Write Your Memoir?


dear journal


A number of years ago a friend came to me with a pile of paper. This bundle was in fact her father’s memoir. She asked if I could take a look at it; make it a “smoother read” through editing. You see, English was not her father’s first language and his writing was, well to put it mildly disjointed and full of neologisms.

I spent an hour on just one sentence and was about to throw the pile out the window when I realized that this was not just a bunch of paper I would be discarding, but a life. Memoirs are memories put down on paper, and memories are life. Our memories pile up year after year after year, much like photos used to pile up in boxes. You know how bad you used to feel not doing anything with those boxed up photos. It got me to thinking… like my friend’s father, we should all feel the same about memories because they help keep us alive; they tell the story of us and prove that we were living, breathing, important parts of this world.

Since that first experience editing a memoir, I have had other people approach me about editing memoirs. In one case a man who emigrated from China had me work on his memoir. He was in his 70’s and had endured a great deal to achieve career successes and raise a family in Canada. He wanted his children, grandchildren and future generations to hear his story; hear about ancestors back home and to have them understand their legacy. Keeping the family history alive was very important to him but there are many different reasons for writing a memoir.

  • When you create a written narrative, your past takes you on a journey of discovery, giving you a clear vision of who you are.
  • Memoir writing can help you form a connection with relatives from your past; old friends or new people who you want to share your story with.
  • Often times it is easier to write as opposed to talk about the past.
  • Writing about the past allows us to share ideas or teach lessons.
  • It allows you to share information about people (i.e. grandparents) and places with children and grandchildren that you might not ordinarily talk about in everyday conversation.
  • It can be therapeutic, helping you to deal with guilt, anger or betrayal from the past.
  • Once you write a memoir it can be habit forming leading to all sorts of other writing projects, whether for pleasure, history or career.
  • Writing is challenging so it is a good mental exercise. Research shows it can improve mental agility.

If you are too young to get started on a memoir then simply start writing in a journal. This will help you keep track of events, people and places in your life. Some people find it hard to write in a journal regularly and that’s okay. Many people write down their thoughts in a notebook on a consistent basis then they take a break for months or even years and then pick it up again. Write as much as you can, when you can, but keep in mind that there will be many important moments in your life that you will be able to remember years later, despite not writing them down.

For assistance with your memoir contact Teresa Madaleno at

definition of neologism: A term used to describe the use of words that have meaning only to the person who writes or verbalizes  them.)









Writers Block- How to cope

writers block

So you have writers block and you don’t know what to do about it. You are not alone, a lot of people suffer from writers block. Even the most famous of writers admit to having difficulty beginning or continuing a piece of work from time to time.

There are various strategies you can employ to tackle the problem. Here are a few you might want to try if and when you hit a block.

  • Write down ideas and phrases as they come to you. This could be when you are in the middle of doing something other than writing. You can always refer back to them when you are ready to sit down and write.
  • Create outlines, charts, and flow charts. It doesn’t always have to be words that inspire you and get you started.
  • Try brainstorming; writing down everything about the subject that comes to mind. At this point it doesn’t matter what order your lines are in. Some may end up being deleted, but other parts you will want to keep.
  • Start at the middle or end of the piece instead of the beginning. Every story, article or manual has a beginning, middle and end, but you don’t have to write starting at the beginning.
  • When you are trying to find the perfect words stop and say to yourself: What I really mean is…and just write it down. You can refine the phrasing later.
  • Put an interview cap on and ask your characters questions about themselves as if you are having a conversation with a friend or someone you are trying to get to know for the first time.
  • Talk over your story, article or paper with a trusted friend or use a recording device and talk away. You can listen to the tape later and decide if there is anything worth writing down.

There are many other strategies you can try when you have difficulty writing. Talking to fellow writers, teachers and colleagues may help you to discover more tips that will help you with your writers block.















Roofie Alert Nail Polish

nail polish

I have two beautiful nieces, I have a teenage daughter, and I know dozens of teenage girls who will soon be going off to colleges and universities across North America. My niece Sara just graduated from University and if she had a dollar for every time her Aunt Teresa lectured her in recent years about being careful at gatherings, about when and how her drinks were poured, about taking that drink everywhere she went- no matter what, she’d be a rich woman today.

According to a Statistics Canada report that dates back to 1993, about half of young Canadian Women have reported being victims of sexual assault or violence. One recent U.S study estimates 5 percent of female college students are assaulted every year and in many cases date rape drugs like Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine are involved. The statistics are not accurate though. They are in fact much higher. Many girls don’t come forward to report being victimized for fear of embarrassment or having to go through ugly legal proceedings.

It is fitting that a group of students from North Carolina State University would be the ones developing a clever way for women to protect themselves. Undercover Colors is a nail polish line that not only makes your finger nails look bright and shiny, it helps indicate if your beverage has been spiked with drugs. All you have to do is quickly dip your finger into your drink as if you are stirring it. If the polish changes color that means it has detected date rape drugs.

The students (all male) have been working on the nail polish line for over a year now. They are still in the testing phase; however, they have already caught the interest of investors so we could see the polish on store shelves in the not-so-distant future.

Students are helping students; they are really killing three birds with one stone – they are shutting down the predators, developing their science skills, and creating a business opportunity.

Some feminist groups object to the idea of a roofie detecting nail polish. They argue that is will just add to the ever-growing checklist of steps women have to take to protect themselves when the problem should be dealt with by society as a whole. The feminists go as far as to say the nail polish “reinforces a pervasive rape culture in our society.” At this point it seems that the male researchers are getting a lot of support for their efforts though. They have a Facebook and Twitter page where you can voice your thoughts and express your desire to donate to research and development of the product if you feel strongly about what they are doing.

Nail polish has never been more popular. According to Time Magazine in the United States alone nail polish sales hit a record $768 million in 2012. If women are wearing nail polish anyway I don’t know if you can consider changing brands as women having to add another step to their checklist – we women change brands all the time when it comes to items like nail polish.

Maybe I’m just an over-cautious aunt, mother and friend, but I say kudos and best of luck to them as they work through the testing phase and hopefully move this product on to commercialization.








The Right Sauce- Marrying Sauce and Pasta


pasta in bowl

As promised I am following up my pasta article with a little information on sauce.

One of my food loving friends once said, “Just use whatever sauce you like with whatever pasta you like. It makes no difference.”

You can certainly do this, but there is in fact a difference.

Pasta comes in a number of shapes and sizes- some big, some really small, some skinny, some rather fat, and there is also pasta that is curvy or ridged. Since pasta sauce comes in several varieties and consistencies, the best way to have a good pasta experience is to match the shape to the sauce.

According to my ancestors, as well as the National Pasta Association (yes there is a Pasta Association) this is how we should decide what sauce to use…

  • Thin pastas are good with thin sauces. This is simply because the sauce slides easily over the surface of the pasta. A red tomato sauce or an olive oil works perfectly.
  • Tube, twisty shapes like penne, work with thick sauces. This type of pasta can capture and hold onto hearty sauce as opposed to sliding right off and onto your plate. Ridged pasta also fits into this category.
  • Ribbons which are wide, flat pastas seem to be great at soaking up thick, creamy sauces. The rule is: the wider the noodles, the heavier the sauce should be.

So what are the different sauces? There are too many to count; however, here is a list of some of the more popular sauces:

Pomodoro- simple tomato sauce

Bologne– meat sauce with ground beef or pork, tomatoes, onions, garlic and celery.

Marinara- tomato sauce seasoned with onions, garlic and oregano.

Alfredo– butter, cream and grated cheese

Burro- butter and grated Parmesan cheese

Aglio e olio– olive oil with garlic and parsley

Frutti di mare– seafood sauce

Carbonara- cream, eggs, Parmesan cheese and bacon bits.

Pesto– oil, grated cheese, basil, garlic and crushed pine nuts

Vodka– tomato sauce with vodka and heavy cream

The best part of pasta sauce is that you can make it your own. You can add your favourite spices to make a new recipe or add vegetables and meat that you really like. My grandmother, (Nonna) Stella Madaleno used to put cooked spareribs in some of her sauces. Once the meat fell off the bones and into the simmering tomato sauce, she knew the sauce was ready.

Whether you are a tomato sauce lover or prefer creamy sauces, remember that pasta is a quick, easy and affordable meal to whip up.


Pick Your Pasta

Pasta is synonymous with Italy, but for decades historians have fought about who invented this delicious food.  Most people assume that pasta originally came from Italy, but that isn’t exactly what the records show.

In 2005 National Geographic reported that scientists unearthed the oldest bowl of noodles; long thin, 4,000 year-old noodles. They were found during an archaeological dig in northwestern China. Now here is where it gets more interesting. These noodles were made from two different kinds of millet, but Italian noodles and North American noodles; the ones most of us enjoy from our local markets, are made largely from wheat. This is why many records indicate Italy was the birthplace of pasta.

According to many history buffs, wheat based noodles were first discovered in Ancient Rome around the 1st century. What exactly did the chef’s of the day create? Fine sheets of dough that they called Lagana. This word eventually developed into Lasagna. Several similar versions started to appear in Israel in the 3rd century.

We may never know for sure who can lay claim to the birthplace of authentic pasta, but there is one certainty -Italy perfected it. Worldwide there are 600 different types of pasta.  We are all familiar with Spaghetti, but here we look at some of the other popular Italian pasta.




This is a stuffed pasta that’s typically a half-circular or circular  shape and  stuffed with meat





Just like spaghetti in shape, except that it’s hollow in the middle.





Large tubes that can be smooth or ridged. They are usually filled with meat before being covered in sauce and baked.




This word means “corkscrews”. They’re hollow and twisted.





Short pieces of pasta with a rolled edge.



Conchiglie Conchiglie

This is common seashell-shaped pasta.




This word means butterflies, but the shape is like bowties.





These are similar to the cavatappi in that they’re shaped like corkscrews, but they’re flat pieces of pasta that   have been twisted instead of round pieces.





The word “gemelli” means “twins,” and this pasta looks like two short pieces of  pasta twisted together.





These are thumb-sized pieces of thick pasta that are actually made from  potatoes





This pasta looks like a snail shell. It’s basically a hollow tube that’s been folded  in half.




radiatore  Radiator

This word means“radiator,” and this pasta is shaped like little mini radiators.





A small tube-shaped pasta with straight-cut ends.







This is small stuffed pasta that’s shaped almost like a half-moon. They are usually stuffed with either cheese or  meat.

Of course there are many other types of Italian pasta that you can find at local grocery stores and at Italian shops in your neighborhood, but the ones listed above are common and should be easy to find. Keep reading Madaleno Magazine. In a future article we will be looking at the various types of sauce that go with all of these wonderful pastas.

Meditation-a growing medicine

Tranquil Sunset



Meditation is a tradition that goes back thousands of years.  Countries like India, China and Japan lay claim to its origin so we  can’t say for sure where it first began; however, most experts agree  that its original purpose was a desire to understand the conscious  mind. Today meditation is used across the world as both a spiritual  and physical tool.

Spiritual Meditation

Meditation is influenced by both the Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, but there are other religions that have elements of meditation. Those who practice meditation for spiritual benefits believe that it opens the mind to divine influence and can serve as a form of prayer. In this case the purpose of meditation is to attain an increased understanding of spiritual truths.

Physical Meditation

Meditation can involve techniques of physical and mental relaxation. Sitting or lying in a relaxed position and including deep breathing are a central part of this type of meditating. For people who focus on this form of meditation, eliminating the worries of daily life is key. As a result of physical meditation, people feel better equipped to take on personal problems. As well, they tend to feel more confident and focused.


In North America anxiety, addiction, stress and cognitive problems have traditionally been treated with drug therapies. Studies now show that meditation is linked to improvement in these psychological areas. There is also research that suggests meditating can reduce blood pressure and stress hormone levels.

According to neuroscientist at Yale, meditation changes the cells and neurons in our brain. They say that cells and neurons in the brain are always making new connections and disrupting old ones based on response to different stimuli.

Research conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital indicates that 60 to 90 percent of doctor’s visits in the United States are for stress-related conditions. The statistics are likely much the same in Canada. There has never been a bigger need for stress therapies.

Most of the studies conducted on meditation in the past have been largely based on loose tools such as questionnaires, but Harvard School of Medicine is leading a comprehensive five year study using neuro-imaging and genomics technology. So far the examinations show that meditation techniques can switch on and off some genes linked to stress and immune function.

This ongoing study could convince more doctors to prescribe this alternative when it comes to combating modern ailments.


Writing News Releases

Social media may be the norm today; however the traditional news release still has a valuable place as a promotional tool for small businesses, agencies, clubs, and charities.

Writing a news release is easy if you follow some simple rules. If you veer off track your release will make its way to the trash with hundreds of others.

There are people who are professionally trained in writing news releases, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write your own release. You should; however, make sure that you triple check for errors. The best approach is to have another set of eyes; maybe even two or three people who are willing to read it over before you send it out.

Getting Started

 Before you even put a single word down on the page you have to ask yourself an important question. Is what I have to say really newsworthy? There is no point in wasting your time writing a release if it has no news value. Journalists will not give your story a single thought if it offers no real value to their audience.

Here is what makes a story newsworthy:

  •          The story impacts the media’s readers, listeners or viewers
  •          The story contains new information
  •          The story involves conflict or resolves a problem
  •          The story is unique or offers a new perspective or new information
  •          The story involves a famous person such as an entertainer, politician or community leader

Once you have established that your story is newsworthy, think about the headline. News releases should be written like news stories with eye-catching headlines. If you want assignment editors or journalists to read your release you have to capture their interest. If there are other releases with more intriguing headlines then your release won’t even get read.

The Lead

 In the first couple of paragraphs, also known as the lead, you should answer the following:

  •          Who?
  •          What?
  •          Where?
  •          When?
  •          Why?
  •          How?

When you answer these questions you are making it easy for the journalist to understand the essence of the story quickly so he/she can move on with what is no doubt a busy day.

The body

 In this section of the news release you can include background information; tidbits that may be interesting to the journalist such as statistics or factual data that can be used to enhance the story.

Going online

 The internet has opened up so many more possibilities for the news release. The viral world improves the chances that your news will reach people. Today RSS feeds, e-newletters and other social media avenues can spread your message quickly.

Including links to videos in your news release is a good way to bring your story to life. As well, it can provide busy journalists with much needed footage to tell your story. It’s all about making life easier for the journalist.


 Don’t forget to include contact information at the end of your release, including the proper title, phone numbers, e-mail etc.

Final Pointers

          Don’t oversell your story it will backfire on you

  •          Limit your release to one page
  •          Post your release on your own company web-site
  •          Don’t call it a “Press” Release you are addressing many forms of media-it is a “News” Release.

Girl Power: A Book by Teresa Madaleno

The term “friendship’ has changed a lot over the years. Today social media has stretched the world “friends” to a whole new dimension. People now have relationships with others from all over the world and they may never see them face-to-face. Still there are some things about friendship that have never changed and never will. For example, there will always be good friends, bad friends and fair weather friends. It is up to all of us to decide what kind of friends we want and what kind of friend we want to be.

I think most of us want and deserve the kind of friend you will read about in Girl Power!

Teresa's Non-Fiction Book

Girl Power: Chronicles of the True Power of Female Friendships is my first non-fiction book. It is currently available at, as well as on Amazon Kindle and on Kobo.

I spent 4 and a half years interviewing women about their unique and powerful friendships. What I ended up with was a moving collection of short stories from ladies across North America. Each story is about two women; one who inspires, helps or guides the other through an overwhelming obstacle or difficulty, therefore demonstrating the true power of female friendship.

“Girl Power” covers a wide array of human experiences  including pain and heartache, joy and faith. It brings a number of issues to the forefront such as physical abuse, mental illness, divorce, trauma, cancer, and even miracles.

I am so grateful to these women for allowing me to share their lives with readers. They are remarkable ladies who are examples of strength and hope.

Jacqueline Thornton -Information Services, Aurora Public Library says, “These stories will radiate off the pages and into your heart.”

Marion Gold-Narrative Researcher, Hag and Crone says, “The narratives capture the readers’ interest and the stories demand the turning of pages. They flow as a river of words. A terrific psychological narrative!”



Why Write Case Studies?

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Everyone loves a good story right? Case studies are an effective, yet underutilized way to tell stories. As a business owner or sales director you might worry that case studies are too long and boring – that no one will read them. The truth is, if positioned well, case studies can paint pictures, evoke emotions, and lead to action.

Generally case studies start with a problem, outline various solutions and then offer proven results that showcase your product or service as the best solution for the problem.

So why should you consider writing a case study for your business?

  • They can position you as an authority
  • They can explain how to solve a problem
  • They can provide social proof
  • They can lead to spinoff content like blogs, newsletters, and videos.
  • They can generate sales

Case studies take time to develop. If done right, this means weeks or months. Of course, once the writing is done, you have to market the case study or should I say, maximize your case study conversions. You see that it is well worth the effort when your studies lead to interest in your products or services. Few people can become expert case study writers overnight, but I try to help get you started with my writing guide, which is coming out this fall so stayed tuned and I will let you know how you can get a copy.