NEW Changes starting this year!

 I know I have been missing in action for the last several years.  A lot has taken place, but I am ready to bring this blog and my Connecting Women Media brand back to life.

New Changes will take place! I am planning to blog on a more consistent basis, do a weekly podcast with guests and update my YouTube Channel.   Connecting Women Media is a lifestyle media that looks at empowerment and education.  We are here to show you the world through people, resources and ideas.

Connecting Women Media will be connecting you to people, resources and ideas!

Weekly Reads Book Review: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

click on the photo for more info
(Affiliate links have been used).

  by Kelly O'Connor McNees was sent to me by a publisher.  This historical fiction is a must read for fans of Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women.   

When I first started reading the book, I was lost because I needed to refresh on Alcott's famous work Little Women because there are references made in the The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.  So, what did I do?  Why re-read Little Women, then read McNees' book.  This made sense to me because I was able to see parallels in both books.

McNees does a nice job in imagining an unknown part of Alcott's life having relationships.  She bases her writing off of research she has done in trying to understand Alcott's relationships. McNees does bring an interesting point she mentions that Alcott burned letters once she finished reading them.  It does make a reader wonder if there was more to Alcott that we may never discover.

A highly recommend read.

Princess Diana/New Smithsonian Specials on 20th Anniversary

Two new Smithsonian Channel films on Princess Diana are premiering on the 20th anniversary of her passing, Sunday Aug. 27 8 p.m. CST.  Narrated by Kate Winslet, "Diana: The Day We Said Goodbye" recounts stories behind the funeral, from the royal florist devastated by Prince Harry's card to "Mummy" to the pallbearers' battle just to stay on their feet.

"Diana and the Paparazzi" details the inside story of Diana's entanglement with the paparazzi, presented through rarely seen footage and testimony from those who protected her and those who photographed her.  

Just in- below are full screeners for the two new Smithsonian Channel films on Princess Diana, premiering on the 20th anniversary of her passing. Narrated by Kate Winslet, "Diana: The Day We Said Goodbye" recounts stories behind the funeral, from the royal florist devastated by Prince Harry's card to "Mummy" to the pallbearers' battle just to stay on their feet. Several contributors have either never been interviewed or never on-camera. "Diana and the Paparazzi" details the inside story of Diana's entanglement with the paparazzi, presented through rarely seen footage and testimony from those who protected her and those who photographed her. Spokespeople available upon request. All assets below - many thanks, Eddie

DIANA AND THE PAPARAZZI (8/27 at 8 PM ET/PT)Full screener (registration required):
Sneak peek- Viewable link (downloadable file avail):

DIANA: THE DAY WE SAID GOODBYE (8/27 at 9 PM ET/PT)Full screener (registration required):
Sneak peek-Viewable link (downloadable file avail):

Sneak Peek:

An enigmatic member of the British royal family, Princess Diana captured the hearts of millions worldwide in both her life and her death, and remains just as iconic today. On the 20th anniversary of her passing, Smithsonian Channel will honor the "People's Princess" with an exclusive royal event commemorating the woman at the center of immense public fascination. The two specials detail the life and death of Diana and illustrate how the public's and media's obsession with her not only served as a catalyst for the fatal car crash that took her life, but also played a major role at her funeral and has lasted well after her untimely death. DIANA AND THE PAPARAZZI premieres Sunday, August 27 at 8 PM ET/PT, followed by DIANA: THE DAY WE SAID GOODBYE at 9 PM ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.

The most photographed woman in the world from 1985 until 1997, Diana suffered from constant hounding from paparazzi, but she also brilliantly used the press limelight to her own advantage, to promote the charitable and humanitarian causes that she cared so passionately about. DIANA AND THE PAPARAZZI follows her attempt to strike this balance before, unsuccessfully, trying to retire from public life in an effort to curb the relentless trail of photographers and reporters cataloging her every move. The special features interviews and footage of Diana’s personal friends, security and staff as well as the paparazzi that photographed her, including some who were present at the scene of her fatal car crash just seconds after impact. This special brings viewers right up against the lens that Diana was so often photographed through, showing how the incessant chasing by paparazzi forever changed her life and factored into her death.

A televised event viewed by over 2 billion people worldwide, Diana’s funeral became the focal point of a nation in grief and provided a stunning tribute to their princess. DIANA: THE DAY WE SAID GOODBYE, narrated by Kate Winslet, recounts the day of her funeral from the experiences of guardsmen, reporters, pallbearers and more as they share the sights and sounds of that day, some speaking publicly about the day for the first time. This special takes viewers on the journey of the cortege from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey through the crowded streets of mourners in London and hears from those who witnessed the procession pass by on that otherwise idyllic September morning. It was the world’s love for Diana that made her funeral one fit for the final goodbye of the “People’s Princess.” The special also reveals how one of the funeral’s signature moments – Elton John singing “Goodbye England’s Rose” – almost didn’t happen, because officials at Westminster Abbey objected to the lyrics of the original, “Candle in the Wind.”

Smithsonian Channel will also premiere a four-part series on Sunday, August 13 at 8 PM ET/PT, INSIDE WINDSOR CASTLE. The series goes behind-the-scenes in the largest and longest-occupied castle in the world. It is far more than just a castle and a home; for nearly 1,000 years it has been the stage on which some of the biggest names in British history have plotted, planned and executed their most controversial deeds. Windsor has seen countless royal births, deaths and marriages, and has withstood numerous sieges and battles. With gripping dramatic reconstructions, intimate interviews and revealing archive footage, INSIDE WINDSOR CASTLE uncovers the truth about Britain’s most famous family and castle.

DIANA AND THE PAPARAZZI was produced by Charles Thompson with executive producer Bernard Clark of TVT Productions Ltd. John Cavanagh, Charles Poe and David Royle serve as executive producers for Smithsonian Channel.

DIANA: THE DAY WE SAID GOODBYE was directed by Leslie Woodhead and produced by Lorraine McKechnie, with executive producer Sue Summers of Finestripe Productions Ltd. Charles Poe and David Royle serve as executive producers for Smithsonian Channel.

INSIDE WINDSOR CASTLE was produced by Paul Nelson of Red Planet Pictures (Entertainment) Ltd., with executive producers Philip Clarke and Simon Raikes. Joy Galane serves as executive producer for Smithsonian Channel.

Smithsonian Channel™, owned by Smithsonian Networks™, a joint venture between Showtime Networks Inc. and the Smithsonian Institution, is where curiosity lives, inspiration strikes and wonders never cease. This is the place for awe-inspiring stories, powerful documentaries and amazing entertainment across multiple platforms. Smithsonian Channel combines the storytelling prowess of SHOWTIME® with the unmatched resources and rich traditions of the Smithsonian, to create award-winning programming that shines new light on popular genres such as air and space, history, science, nature, and pop culture. Among the network’s offerings are series including Aerial America, Million Dollar American Princesses, Polar Bear Town, The Weapon Hunter, The Lost Tapes, Mighty Ships, Mighty Planes and Air Disasters, as well as critically-acclaimed specials that include Building Star Trek, The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima, MLK: The Assassination Tapes and The Day Kennedy Died. Smithsonian Networks also operates Smithsonian Earth(TM), through SN Digital LLC., a new subscription video streaming service delivering spectacular original nature and wildlife content. To learn more, go to, or connect with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Interview with Kathy William Chiang: Things You Should Know and Do With Your Data

Kathy William Chiang VP, Business Insights, at Wunderman Data Management, is a co-author of the new book, Monetizing Your Data: A Guide to Turning Data into Profit-Driving Strategies and Solutions [Wiley]. With the explosion of information available from emails, online searches, text messages, blog posts, and postings on Facebook and YouTube, Chiang has seen a shift in how data is being used across all business sectors and have unique insight and knowledge into the analytics that business leaders should be using to increase their profit.

Read on for what Kathy has to say.

Faten Abdallah (FA): Why is it important for companies to collect data?
Kathy William Chiang (KWC): Data captures the life flow of the business. It is a record of each and every activity that the business conducts. Since practically every key system that a company uses is now computerized, such as CRM, Point of Sale, Production Management, Billing and so on, a digital record of every important activity the company undertakes is available to be collected, stored and studied.

Through collecting and analyzing their data, companies have a window into the health of their business. This is analogous to going to your doctor to have medical tests performed. You may be feeling just fine but when data on vital stats is collected, potential underlying issues are revealed that if addressed early can be prevented from impacting your health.

If companies don’t collect, monitor, and analyze their data, they will end up making decisions based on feelings or prior experience which may not be representative of the market forces they currently face. Without a good understanding of the trends and patterns of their business, managers can find themselves reacting to the noise of the day. Today’s sales are down, yesterday’s were up. How do you know which is more representative of the trend?

FA: What kind of data should companies collect?
KWC: The short answer is all the data they can at the most detail level possible.

This is because you cannot predict what business challenge you will face this week, next month, or next year. Is it a demand issue? Then comparing seasonal patterns of sales by product type is important. Is it a supply issue? Then looking at production output, completed orders, backlog will be key. Is it a product quality issues, then looking at customer complaints to the service center or online comments are critical. When an issue arises, if you don’t have historical context to examine, you will be flying blind when deciding how to react.

Additionally, you want to keep the data as granular as possible, that is data at the level of individual transactions. Summarizing and averaging data causes valuable information to be lost. If one particular plant or supplier is the source of a production issue, this information can be lost if production data from all sources are summed up to save space or reduce the quantity of records.

The dramatic reduction in data storage costs, the increased power of computer technology and the proliferation of cloud based systems are making storing and accessing core business data a financially feasible proposition for companies large and small. These new technologies are leveling the playing field with respect to business analytics for small and medium companies. Competing on Data is no longer just an option for large enterprises.

FA: Often times, it is common to find data stored with no action.  What should companies do with collected data?
KWC: Having just said you should keep any and all of your data, the flip side is that you should not simply start funneling all that data to your managers. Being overwhelmed by a flood of data, reports and analytics is a common problem today.

Once companies have made the effort to collect a treasure trove of data, the temptation is to try to use it in daily business but oftentimes astrategy to use it to drive actions and decisions is lacking.
A common mistake companies make is to think they can hire data scientists to mine their data for ‘nuggets’ that will then give them insights on how to improve the business. But as the old adage goes, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. Managers need to spend time thinking through the actions they need to take and architecting the decision process to make those actions productive and meaningful.

Data is the ‘hard’ quantitative side of the business, but the ‘soft’ qualitative side is equally vital to making smart decisions. Being aware of and actively managing biases and points of view that managers bring to the table when facing a business issue, helps companies to make more objective and thoughtful decisions. Furthermore, historical data of the business can reveal insights about the future only to a point, probability and uncertainty also need to be considered when developing strategies and plans.

FA: What are some tools useful for collecting and implementing data driven information?
KWC: Tools needed to collect, store and analyze data are becoming increasingly affordable and easy to use. A good database to store and structure your data is a must. Add to that a good data visualization tool and you have everything you need to get started. All of these assets are available as on-premise or cloud-based services eliminating the need for large up-front investments.

In business, there is a common expression. If you don’t eat your lunch, someone else will. Competing on data is now a core business process. If you don’t start learning how to deepen your understanding of your customers, their needs and wants, then someone else will come along and serve them better.

Bringing data into your business management and decision processes is a journey. No one starts the process with a perfect understanding about how to go about it and everyone is learning more each day. The important point is to get started.

We talk about the ideas presented here in much more detail in our book, Monetizing Your Data: A Guide to Turning Data into Profit-Driving Strategies and Solutions, available on You can also go to our website: for more information and tools to help you start your journey.

Product Review: Beetology--a Healthy and Tasty Drink

(The company sent me Beetology to review.  All of this is my opinion)

It’s a good bet that our ancient ancestors sat down to an infinitely simpler and more nutritious lunch than the tuna sandwiches and chips on our plates today. They used whatever ingredients nature brought their way, “straight up,” with minimal processing if any. And they discovered that certain foods from Earth’s pantry had properties that somehow seemed to make life a little better.  I've always wondered when did food get filled with odd sounding names as ingredients?

Today, of course, we know that different foods contain specific cocktails of nutrients associated with almost every aspect of wellness. And while superfoods have been around for ages, the demand for easy, tasty ways to embrace their powers has never been greater. Moreover, sophisticated consumers are interested in ingredients they can pronounce, served as close to farm-to-table as possible. But not everyone has time to grow and prepare a healthy diet from scratch.

I am very picky when it comes to my drinks and food, so when I was sent Beetology, I was curious because who drinks beets for fun?  I tried Beetology.  I couldn't believe how well it tasted. I even had my husband, son, my mother and my brother try the drink.  They were surprised and loved the drink too.   You can still taste the beets a little bit, but the other flavors add a unique twist to the drink.  My family and I STRONGLY recommend Beetology for being a healthy drink that tastes good!  

Beetology are sweet, organic, cold-pressed juices are made from nothing but beets and a handful of other 100% natural, good-for-you ingredients like ginger, veggies, and fruit.  I added ice to my drink because I like them cold.  If you don't finish your drink, be sure to refrigerate.

Beetology has created a delicious way to drink your beets for optimal health benefits.  According to many sources, beets may improve your health in the following ways.

Here are 5 reasons why you should drink Beetology.

1. Lower Your Blood Pressure
Drinking beet juice may help to lower blood pressure in a matter of hours. One study found that drinking one glass of beet juice lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points.

The benefit likely comes from the naturally occurring nitrates in beets, which are converted into nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps to relax and dilate your blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.

2. Boost Your Stamina
If you need a boost to make it through your next workout, beet juice may again prove valuable. Those who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for up to 16 percent longer. The benefit is thought to also be related to nitrates turning into nitric oxide, which may reduce the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.  My family members and I noticed we had more energy and moved more that day.

3. Fight Inflammation
Beets are a unique source of betaine, a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It's also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.

4. Anti-Cancer Properties
The powerful phytonutrients that give beets their deep crimson color may help to ward off cancer. Research has shown that beetroot extract reduced multi-organ tumor formations in various animal models when administered in drinking water, for instance, while beetroot extract is also being studied for use in treating human pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.

5. Rich in Valuable Nutrients and Fiber
Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beets also contain the B vitamin folate, which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.

6. Detoxification Support
The betalin pigments in beets support your body's detoxification process, which is when broken down toxins are bound to other molecules so they can be excreted from your body. Traditionally, beets are valued for their support in detoxification and helping to purify your blood and your liver.

Beets are also “a goldmine of health-boosting nutrients that you may not get anywhere else,” according to And while scientists have yet to find the key to eternal youth, they’ve long known that beets contain antioxidants like lycopene, which boosts the production of collagen – associated with firmer, younger-looking skin.

“Beets are the new pomegranate,” said Charles Herzog, Chief Beetologist and VP of New Business Development at Kayco, producer of Beetology beverages. “Chefs, foodies, health-conscious folks, and even athletes have been tapping into the versatile beet in creative new ways.” Even Martha Stewart is getting into the act, he added. “Her latest cookbook has a Chocolate Beet Cake! She says pureed beets made it extra moist and not overly sweet.”

Consumers can feel good about serving Beetology anytime, anywhere. Every grab-and-go bottle of Beetology is 100% non-GMO, U.S.D.A. Certified Organic, and Certified Fair Trade. Each variety is non-soy, non-dairy, and certified kosher, with no preservatives, additives, artificial colors, or flavors. 

Beetology is a great way to refuel after a long hike, hard work out or a great yoga class. I love drinking this after I have run my miles for my marathon training.

Delicious, refreshing Beetology comes in five tantalizing blends:

  • Beet + Lemon + Ginger
  • Beet + Veggie
  • Beet + Tropical Fruit
  • Beet + Berry
  • Beet + Cherry
Find Beetology in the refrigerated section at health food, specialty, grocery, and kosher food markets. Beetology is produced by Kayco, one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of Kosher and Specialty food products. For additional information about all Kayco products visit

Interview with Holly Brown: 11 reasons why you may need a social media break

Holly Brown
Does the thought of taking social media break spark anxiety, or a sense of relief?

Many of us feel inundated by the politics in our feed, or maybe by the images of other people’s seemingly perfect lives.  How do you know when you need to take a break? And what should the boundaries be when you return?

According to marriage and family therapist Holly Brown, you know you need a break if you:
  1. quickly feel demoralized and hopeless every time you log in.
  2. slowly feel demoralized and hopeless every time you log in. (Sometimes a viewing session has an insidious effect that lasts long after you’ve turned away.)
  3. are losing large amounts of time and neglecting tasks that you value more. This is a sign that you’re losing track of your priorities and perspective.
  4. wind up feeling bad about yourself, and inadequate compared to others.
  5. feel more judgmental of yourself and others. Unfettered mean thoughts can easily go unchecked when you’re on social media.
  6. are writing nasty things to other people, joining in the dog pile in ways that are unkind and unproductive. Brown is also a psychological suspense novelist whose recent release THIS IS NOT OVER dives deep into how social media and internet culture exacerbates the projections, jealousies, and misperceptions between her two protagonists.
  7. you are jumping on social media more than once an hour, or just have it on all day long.
  8. if the thought of NOT being on social media sites for a day fills you with anxiety and fear.
  9. you’re craving pings all the time, constantly overstimulated or in need of stimulation.
  10. you’re not connecting with people in person.
  11. you go to check one thing and the suddenly, it’s an hour later. But the time spent wasn’t really happy or fulfilling; it was just time. And it led you to crave more input, like you’re always seeking another hit.
Holly Brown, MFT lives with her husband and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she’s a practicing marriage and family therapist, and a psychological suspense novelist whose recent release is THIS IS NOT OVER. Her blog, “Bonding Time”, is featured on, a mental health website with 1.5 million visitors per month. For more, visit and

I had the honor of interviewing Holly.  Enjoy!

 Faten Abdallah (FA): Define Social Media.  How did it shape our world today?

 Holly Brown (HB): Social media is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn...and even when you don't have your own account, the impact is unavoidable. That's because people are witnessing each others' lives (or at least, the curated version of them) and that then shapes the way those people's perspectives. Also, the empathy-numbing and meanness that can pervade social media can extend beyond as well. If we don't adequately consider others' feelings online, we're less likely to continue them in person.

FA: What are some pros and cons of Social Media?

HB: A pro is that people have a forum to efficiently connect with one another. We can share good news and commiserate over bad. We can keep in touch in a time-effective way. We can send each other love, affirmations, and support, and see the latest pictures of our friends and our friends' children across the country. And at its best, it's a place to commune over similarities and explore differences in order to broaden our frames of reference.

At its worst, it's where people are intolerant of differences, and where it can be too easy to dehumanize others since we don't have to see their faces. We can then relate to them accordingly--as if they don't deserve basic human decency and respect. Then there's the way it can effect self-esteem. We may compare ourselves unfavorably to others, or can find ourselves seeking instant gratification and validation rather than gaining those things through our own esteemable acts, and through deeper connections with those who are, ostensibly, closest to us. That means that instead of being with the ones we love, we're paying them half-attention as we check the web. Being mindful and present is what strengthens relationships, and social media can be a distraction from that.

FA: How do you know if you are getting burnout from using Social Media?

HB: You're not having any fun on social media but you just can't stop checking in. You've developed a bad case of FOMO. You might be comparing your life to what you're viewing of other people's lives, and you're losing the awareness that what you're seeing is just what they want you to see.  Perhaps you're more involved in your online life than your real one, deciding what to do or not do based on how it would appear to others. You're losing touch with your lived experience because it's all about how you appear, as contrasted with how you feel. You might not even really know how you feel anymore, as distinct from what you're uploading.

You're also burning out if you're frequently seeking jolts of self-esteem from social media--for example, needing to be "liked" often in order to feel okay. If your moods are highly dependent on social media, both positive and negative, you're entering a danger zone.

FA: Is it good or necessary to take a break from Social Media?  Explain.
HB: It's not necessary if social media is an enhancing adjunct to your life, and you're able to keep it in its proper place. If it's bleeding into everything else, then a break would be good. And if you're got the signs of burnout I referenced above, then it might be necessary.

FA: What kind of help is available for people who can't stop taking a break from Social Media?

HB: If you can't stop taking a break, then that might mean you want your break to be permanent. And that's okay. I know people who are content in their lives without participating actively in social media.

Now if you need a break but can't enforce it, it's possible you need an accountability partner. This can be your romantic partner or a friend, just someone who's doing it along with you. This works well for other motivational activities, like working out where people are much better at showing up at the gym if they know a friend is waiting for them there.

And if you're not able to get off social media, it might indicate another issue. Maybe you're having trouble engaging deeply in your life and you could use a mindfulness practice. Or perhaps you're combing social media as a way to avoid whatever problem feels too big to tackle. In that case, some therapy could be helpful.

 Readers might want to note that 

Guest Post: Protein – Brownies? That Are Delicious!


Sloane Davis

(Check out Sloane's interview here

My approach to weight loss is based upon flexible dieting.  My clients are given macros, which are proteins, fats and carbs, which comprises total calories.  They then eat within the budget that is prescribed for their specific body.  What makes this plan so effective is that there are no foods that one has to eat and no foods that are off limits.  This makes for very sustainable, long term, successful weight loss.

While I can have a brownie, ice cream or cookies, I have learned that those types of calorie dense foods add up very fast.  And because I like to eat in volume, I have created many healthy, low calories, low fat versions of these desserts so that I can have the entire tray if I’d like for less calories rather than just one. 

One of my favorite recipes is my Protein Brownie. You can add a peanut butter swirl to it, a cream cheese filling, chocolate chips or simply plain as is.  Not only do they hit the spot and cure my cravings for sweets, but keep my waistline in check too. 

Here is the recipe that has never been shared before, as it’s a new edition to my recipe ebook due out in a few weeks.

Protein Chocolate Brownies
4 scoops Chocolate Protein Powder
½ cup + 2 TBS cocoa powder
½ cup + 2 TBS Pure Pumpkin
2 tsp baking powder
5 ounces % Plain Greek Yogurt
1 cup Sweetener (I used Swerve)
1 cup Water
⅓ cup chocolate chips (I use Lily’s)
Preheat Oven to 350
Mix dry ingredients
Add wet ingredients to form the batter
Pour into 8x8 greased (or sprayed) square pan
Bake 30-35 minutes or until middle is set
Cut when cool

Serving Size: 9 pieces 83 calories 5g carbs 1g fat 13g protein

These are a total crowd pleaser to bring to your next barbecue. Also, try these out on children a great way to serve a snack with a healthy punch!


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