Thursday, June 28, 2018


I see a lot of dads playing sports with their sons in our neighborhood park, so when I saw a dad playing basketball with his young daughter, I was inspired and wanted to meet them.

Peter Banks plays on a team with friends.  When Hazel started to ask him about the game, he bought a small ball and started taking her to Carroll park to do catching, passing, and shooting hoops. They are currently looking for a hoop that is a better (shorter) size for Hazel.

Peter shared "I've always played sports and I would like her to have the option to enjoy sports, too."

What does Hazel like about playing basketball? "It's fun!" And here's what she likes about being a girl: "You get to do a lot of things.  It's cool. It's very nice!"

Friday, April 13, 2018


It was standing room-only at the Fifth Annual Women's History Month Celebration at Borough Hall.  The March 29 event, organized by The Office of The Brooklyn Borough President, honored women "[...] who are committed to public service and giving back to their communities."

The event featured guest speaker Warrant Officer One Mary Maysonnet, as well as Borough Hall staff members Lori H. Luis, Ama Dwimoh Esq., and Ingrid P. Lewis-Martin.

During the opening remarks, Mr. Ronald Law, Head of Government Relations for MetroPlus Health Plan, spoke about the power of a dream not deferred in reference to Bessie Coleman.  Ms. Coleman, he explained,  was the first woman of African-American descent and the first of Native American descent, to hold a pilot license.  The USPS dedicated a stamp to her memory, and when she died in a plane crash, 15,000 people attended her funeral.

Before announcing each award recipient, Borough President Eric L. Adams spoke about the universal oppression and exploitation of women throughout history, challenging the tenets of global sexism and male domination.

Here is a list of the honorees:

Jacqueline Dowd, School Safety Agent for Brooklyn Brooklyn North Command 84th Precinct

Lisa Molnar Juliano, Teacher for the New York City Department of Education

Martha Kamber, Chief executive officer and president of the YWCA Brooklyn 

Jacqueline Gist Tillman, Nurse for the New York City Department of Education

Caroline Gates Anderson, Founder, Bloom Again Brooklyn

Local 372 Volunteers, Brooklyn team organizers going door to door talking to members about union issues:
o   Robin Chisolm
o   Denise McClain
o   La’Nette Murphy
o   Melissa Serve
o   Imogene Thomas
o   Barbara Richardson 

To learn more about activities and programs at The Office of the Brooklyn Borough President:
To sign up for the Borough President's Mailing List:  

Thursday, March 29, 2018


I mainly knew about luchadores, Mexican professional wrestlers who often wear masks, through the movie Nacho Libre and through images of luchadores depicted on mugs, t-shirts, posters, and candle holders. In the film, as well as in the other product-based imagery, the luchadores are all male.

I had never seen a reference to a female luchador befored discovering the children's book, Lucia the Luchadora, at PowerHouse Books in Brooklyn.  Written by Cynthia Leonor Garza and illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez, Lucia features a girl luchadora who wears a mask to the park, stands upfor herself, and fights for what is right.  Lucia is Cynthia's first book.

Q: What were some personal highlights for you during the process of creating Lucia the Luchadora?  What did you learn about yourself during the creation process?

A: I wanted to write a story about lucha libre for a long time and could never quite figure out how to make it work. It had to be fun and high energy to match the feel of a real-life lucha libre match. When I got the idea to write a story about a little girl who wants to be a superhero, it just cliqued that she would become a luchadora. Lucía gives this book all its energy. She is quite a fierce little girl.

Q: What might surprise people to learn about what it was like for you to put this book together?
Many times, there is a wall of sorts between the author and illustrator with the publisher in between while a picture book is being illustrated, but with this book, we had good collaboration. It was a great experience as an author to be let in on the entire process.

A: What kinds of feedback, and from whom, have you received in response to the book?  What were some of the themes from the feedback?  Do you have a sense of the kinds of ways the book has impacted people?
The book has had a terrific response from both childrenand grown-ups. We all read books through our own unique lens, so it’s been interesting hearing the different take-aways folks have after reading this story. A lot of children are captivated by the superhero aspect of the story and the masks and high-flying moves. I’ve heard from parents who liked the strong girl power message in it. Others have said it’s a good lesson on fending off bullies, or standing up for what is right. It’s even been equated with the #MeToo movement, at the point in the book when Lucía unmasks herself and all the other girls follow her lead in solidarity. 
Q: What suggestions do you have for parents, coaches, teachers, and other people who directly impact the lives of young females in terms of how we can best be allies to them, best help them stay true to themselves, their minds, and their true power in the face of sexism, racism, etc.?
A: We have to work to smash the self-doubt that girls often carry, and remind them at every opportunity that they are capable and worthy of their biggest dreams. Luchadora literally means a fighter – a female fighter. Girls are often told to not fight, and one of the lessons of this book is that fighting is not always a bad thing. It is sometimes necessary. Also, girls don’t have to be nice all the time. It is okay to get angry when something is unjust. The part of the book that everyone seems to like is when Lucía gets mad, spicy mad, Ka-Pow kind of mad. It’s a feeling I think we can all relate to.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: Lucía the Luchadora and the Million Masks is in the works and is set to be released in October of this year. Lucía’s trouble-making little sister Gemma makes her debut in this story, which is also filled with lots of fun and adventure.

Q: What do you like to do for fun, to blow off steam?

A: I take a lot of long walks to help clear my mind. I live in Nairobi, Kenya and near my home is a forest with trails that has become my most recent obsession. The sights and sounds and feel of the forest is such a welcome change from working on my laptop.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


When I first saw Kate T. Parker's book on the store shelf, I nearly leapt out of my skin.  First,  there was the title:  Strong is the New Pretty: A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves.  Then, there was the cover: a non-smiling, athletic girl in swim gear.  Next, there were all the inspiring images inside the book: photos of girls playing football, wrestling, skateboarding, fencing, using a bow and arrow, rolling in the grass, navigating wheelchairs.  And the pages were filled with quotations taken directly from the girls. One of my favorite quotations was this one by 6-year-old Sabrina, who is shown playing water polo: 
"I love water polo and I can lift just one eyebrow and I speak Farsi and play tennis and I can make people laugh by making funny faces.  And I taught my little sister, Penny, to read when she was 3." 

And take note of this: Strong is the New Pretty led Kate to start a philanthropic offshoot, partnering with organizations such as Girls Inc., Glam4Good and Girls on the Run.

I was delighted when Kate agreed to let Creative Times readers know more about the woman and the process behind the book.

Q: What were some personal  highlights for you during the process of creating Strong is the New Pretty? What did you learn about yourself and your relationship to the subject matter during the process?

A: It was a huge learning experience for me.  I had zero knowledge about how the publishing world worked or how to put a book together.  I learned as I went and it was really amazing and eye-opening.  I loved the experience of starting something new and having the opportunity to create something from scratch.

Q: What might surprise people to learn about what it was like for you to put this book together?

A: When I traveled around the country, I found so many different kinds of strength.  
It presented itself in a million different ways, ways that were  specific to each person. 
I met and shot musicians, athletes, pilots, and valedictorians.  They were all so so different from one another, but strength was the thread that ran through all of them. 

I also noticed this truth: that talent is such a small part of success.  Anyone succeeding and excelling at anything is digging in.  Working.  Learning.  Putting the time in.   Not taking a no as a sign for them to quit.  Believing in themselves and going forward with the hard work of whatever their passion is. You know what that is?  GRIT. Those girls had grit.

Q: What kinds of feedback, and from whom, have you received in response to the book?  What were some of the themes from the feedback?  Do you have a sense of the kinds of ways the book has influenced people?

A: By and large, the feedback has been really positive.  I’ve gotten emails and messages saying that the girls who are reading this book really love it, relate to it, see themselves in it, and would like to be part of the next book.  

Q: What suggestions do you have for parents, coaches, teachers, and other people who directly impact the lives of young females in terms of how we can best be allies to them, best help them stay true to themselves, their minds, and their true power in the face of sexism, racism, etc.?

A: The idea and concept behind Strong is the New Pretty isn’t new.  Strong has always been beautiful.  However, as a mother with two young girls, I see them growing up in an age of filters, Snapchat, Instagram, and lots of photoshopping. The pressure that young women feel these days is new.  The internet brings it to an entirely new level. In this world, the message that strong is beautiful  needs to be heard more than ever. I wanted to provide a place, a message and images that celebrated girls for who they really are.  I wanted girls to know that who they are was enough. That their real, authentic, true selves were enough.  

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I am working on three books in this same vein.  I am so excited about these follow ups! The first book is a Strong is the New Pretty: A Guided Journal for Girls.  It really takes the concepts and ideas behind the original book and puts them into action for girls with daily prompts to get out and be active and confident.  The next book is called Boy Strong and it is about celebrating boyhood, however that looks and feels.  And the last book is about courage in girls and women.  

Q: What do you like to do for fun, to blow off steam?

A: I love spending time with my family.  is hands-down my favorite thing to do.  Joking around and hanging with them is hands-down my favorite thing to do.  I also like to run, play soccer, and take pictures.  I love taking and creating images!

Q: What's next for you as an artist?

A: I’d love to continue to spread this message of acceptance and confidence to the next generation, in different mediums, however that might look.  

For more information about Kate and this book:

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Missy and her husband, Mike.

I met Missy Farruggia via social media after joining a Facebook group of 3,000-plus women who run, cycle, swim, lift weights, do yoga, and gather together on this platform to post photos of themselves in  action and cheer each other on through thick and through thin.  The group was started by Kelly Roberts, founder of  She Can and She Did . Kelly's motto? "No matter how hard something seems, we really are stronger together.  The future isn't just female, it's strong, smart, emboldened, united, driven, funny, and ambitious as hell."

One of the first things I noticed about this FB group was the very strong presence of Missy.  One of the first posts I read was her hilarious and hard-hitting story of how she dealt with someone who targeted her with racism during one of her daily runs.  How Missy handled the incident became legendary and oft-referred to in subsequent posts of other group members. 

Through Missy's posts, I learned that she is Native American, her young daughters run too, and she was a surrogate mom for a friend who could not bear children.  Missy triumphed over physical adversity in order to complete four half-marathons, which inspired the Facebook group to create a Miles for Missy Solidarity Run.

Over and over, Missy shows up in her posts - and in life, no doubt -  full of humor, courage, and support of others.  I was so pleased that she agreed to do this Q and A. 


Q: How did you get involved in running? What is your current running  routine? 

A:  I have been running ever since I was a little girl.  My mom would take me running and I fell in love with it. I always felt so free and happy; I almost felt like I could fly!  It was a way to connect with Mother Earth.  I try to run every day, and my favorite time is first thing in the morning. I love finishing in time to greet the sun as it rises!

Q: What are some of your proudest moments as a runner?

A:  I have two proudest moments in running. I decided to sign up for my first race, a 5k. I was so scared because I had just come from an injury and was getting my running legs back. I had lost 110 pounds and when I got to the start line, I felt like I did not belong. I didn’t look like the other runners, who were so confident and happy.  I felt like I was gonna throw up. I wanted to go home, but my family was there and when I started running, it felt amazing! When I crossed that finish line, I was crying happy tears.I did it! It was amazing!!

My second proudest moment was the first time I ran with my daughters. Watching them discover their love for running made me fall in love with it all over again, but in a different way. After my injury, I appreciated it more and love that I can share that with my them.

Q: What kinds of physical activities did you enjoy as a child? As a teen? As a young adult?

A:  Running was really my only love; I didn’t do any other activity. 

Q: What keeps you going when the going gets tough? Are there particular people, places, experiences, or sayings that motivate and inspire you?

A:  Everyone has a tough run, everyone struggles. I think of my family and their love and it always helps me get through. My husband is the most amazing person I have ever met; he is my rock and best friend whose support and love keeps me going. My favorite saying is she believed she could, so she did! 

There is also an Apache saying: May the sun bring you new energy by day. May the moon softly restore you by night. May the rain wash away your worries. May the breeze blow new strength into your being. May you walk gently though the world and know its beauty all the days of your life.

Q: Do you have an overarching life philosophy?

A:  I believe in  being kind to one another and treating everyone equally. If we could just lift each other up and stop shaming others for the way they look or for their differences or beliefs, imagine what we could accomplish! 

Q:You have shared that you are Native American. What was it like growing up as a Native American female? What is it like for you now? How have those two identities shaped your life?

A: I didn’t really noticed a difference until I moved away from my family. The culture and traditions are so different and I found a lot of people were not so kind to those who are different. I did, however, find amazing, and loving people who made me proud to celebrate our differences and together we became stronger! I fell in love with my husband who is Italian, and we pass on our traditions to our two strong, beautiful daughters, Our differences are was make us great!

Q: You are a mom to two girls. What do you do to help your daughters stay confident in their minds and their bodies?

A: I encourage my girls to be strong.  My oldest is hearing impaired and her strength inspires me! I never want them to think that they can’t do something because of who they are. I always tell them they are smart, strong, and can do anything! I am so proud of them and look forward to see what they are going to accomplish in life. They are smart and funny and even if I wasn’t their mother, I would want to know them.

Q: What are a few of your personal goals and dreams?

A:  My goal is to run all the Disney half marathons. I’m a huge Disney fan and there is nothing more magical than crossing that Disney finish line! I have run three of their races and they are amazing! My first half was the Disney Avengers Half; it was an absolute dream come true! I have also run the Tinkerbell Challenge and the Disneyworld Half.

Q: What would you like to see happen on this planet in your lifetime?

A:  More female equality.  Women are smart and strong and not less than! We need to teach our young girls and boys that women are just as good as men and and that together we are stronger.


It's Women's History Month, and what better way to celebrate than by picking up some books about your favorite women from the past or present who have made history. 

Chasing Light: Michelle Obama through the Lens of a White House Photographer is the creation of Amanda Lucidon.  Ms. Lucidon, an on-staff photographer during President Obama's second term, traveled to about 20 countrieIs with the former first family. "I felt like every day was memorable and inspirational," she told CNBC Make It. "I got to travel to so many places in the world that I never thought I would see and being there with the president or Mrs. Obama was an incredible experience."

Amanda, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker based in Washington, D.C.,  
and her work has been honored by White House News Photographers Association, Pictures of the Year International, National Press Photographers Association Best of Photojournalism and Associated Press.

The text of Michelle Obama: A Photographic Journey comes from Antonia Felix, an author, playwright, educator and musician. 

With 140 photographs, inspiring quotes, and excerpts from five historic speeches, this gorgeous volume pays tribute to Michelle Obama. Although it primarily focuses on 2007 to 2016, the book covers the pre-White House years, as well: her childhood, her time in college and law school, her work as a young professional, her marriage to Barack, and her experiences during his first campaign. It also explores her family life; celebrates her “First Lady Firsts”; looks at her TV appearances and official trips; details her main health, social, and education projects; and presents her as the glamorous, fashionable First Hostess at State Dinners and other events. Fans of Michelle will treasure this keepsake of a trendsetting, socially conscious, and powerful First Lady.  
(Description taken from Amazon.)


I'm so excited to share that my friend, author and illustrator Sara Varon will be releasing her new book New Shoes on Tuesday, March 27, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Stories Bookshop located at 458 Bergen Street in Brooklyn.  Sara is going to be giving away some of her special monkey pins!
Come join in the fun!

Monday, February 26, 2018


I was so in awe of snowboarder Chloe Kim's gold medal-winning runs in the recent winter Olympics.  And then I learned that her dad, an immigrant to this country,  devoted his life to both coaching and taking care of Chloe.

It is moving to see a father so whole-heartedly back his daughter to become an all-out athlete!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018