So Your Master Degree is Useless! Sonja Landis Tells All About Art, Books, Life and Legacy!

Sonja Landis Tells All About Life, Legacy, Art and Books!

Melinda: Today, I’m going to have a Girl to girl chat with author, motivational speaker, mom, looser of keys and eater of carbs, Sonja Landis.  We’re going to talk about her journey from being a single mom to being an artist, author to having celebrity clients.

Sonja:  I was seeking funding the Painted Laugh when we met.  I record children’s laugher and paint it as modern art.  I did end up opening the gallery and it was a dream of mine that I wanted for so long.  But once I opened it, I realized that it didn’t actually match who I was as a parent and what I wanted to do as a career.  I learned a lot and was really emotionally attached to it.  So when I decided to close it, it was heart wrenching.  There was so much guilt because I thought it was what I wanted and now I’m not happy.  After getting through the guilt and knowing that I did the right thing, I had a whole litany of projects that came my way that were better fitting and allow me to be the mom that I wanted to be.  And now I can work in a way that is much more leveraged of my time and skills.  Being a writer has allowing me to be more of who I am.

Melinda:  You felt like you had to go through that process first in order to go to the next phase.  If you had those opportunities prior to opening the art gallery, would you take those opportunities the same way?

Sonja: I don’t think so, I definitely believe in everything happening for a reason and in its own time frame.  Had I not opened my gallery, I would have always had this longing and desire inside of me.  But just because you have a dream and it comes true, it doesn’t mean it’s your dream forever.  And so I learned a lot about flexibility and being open.

Melinda: And you’re brave enough change!  I know a lot of women out there who may want to change but is paralyzed by fear.

Sonja:  And yes, it’s hard to be open to change.  You feel a sense of security and a sense of responsibility especially as a mom.  It is hard to be brave but it’s much nobler to be brave.  I think there’s more power in bravery than sitting idle to wonder, hope and wish. There’s a lot of power of achievement through that bravery. That’s an important aspect that I want to show my son. I want him to see that in me.  Even if I’m scared, I always think about what I’d want him do, I’d want him to be brave, to move forward, to accept change roll with it and to be flexible to new possibilities.

Melinda: This is an Oprah AHA moment!  This really resonates with me because I want moms to take that risk and take a chance.  Their personal happiness is out that for them and if they’re content, that’s okay, but if they’re not, then there are ways to take action to make themselves happier!

So you a book…

Sonja: My first book is called My Master’s Degree is Useless…  I came up with the title because it was the way I was feeling at the time.  It was during the recession when I’ve gotten a Master’s degree.  It was pushing me to a career path that didn’t fulfill me or make me happy.  It was over qualifying me for some positions that I would have really enjoyed and wanted to get into.  But because I had an elevated degree, it was pushing me toward something I didn’t want to pursue and it was holding me back from things I was really interested in.  The other aspect of that was I had gotten a Master’s degree and the world was changing.  There was so much technology, social media and entrepreneurism that was really evolving and I wasn’t set up for that with my degree.  And I paid a lot of money for that degree but I wasn’t prepared to be an entrepreneur and to live the kind of fulfilling life that I wanted.  I had a really unique life and made some really great decisions and some enormous mistakes along the way.  I feel like I can help people by encourage them to pursue their own dreams and destiny.  I want to point out my flaws and mistakes in a funny way so they can feel that if she can do it, so can I.  The mistake you make yesterday doesn’t carry on when you move forward.  So I can tell them my mistakes and flaws to give them encouragement.

Melinda: So you’re also a life coach, I’ve spoken with you briefly about this because I’ve always been skeptical of life coaches.  There are so many experts out there, how do you know if someone is really for you.  Since they’re seeking help, they’re desperate and are willing the pay the price.  What is the best advice for them to have them get a coach that’s right for them?

Sonja: It definitely depends on the person’s specific goals and what they looking for.  It could be for personal development, build a business or they want to inspire and build communities.  There so many different goals so it’ll depend on who speaks to them the most.  For me when I was in search for a coach, I wanted someone who had a business sense as well as personal development because I’m a single mom and head of household.  So for me, not only did I want to be fulfilled but I also have a child I needed to provide for.  Having that business aspect in a coach was very important to me.  Part of my book does say that you can build your life doing what you love and make money at it.  But you can’t just affirm it, cross your fingers and hope for the best.  You really have to put some business principles behind it.

Melinda: That’s what leads you to your next book…  Which is Nothing But Net, She’s the contributing author in chapter 23!

Sonja: It hit the bestselling list in 5 different categories including for entrepreneurial.

Melinda: So what inspires you?

Sonja: I’m inspired by humor, I love it when people make me laugh and when I make others laugh so that’s something that’s so true to me.  It’s really a brand new thing because it’s come out of my writing.  Another thing that really inspires me is bravery and creativity.  I think they go hand in hand.  Anytime you get bravery and creativity together, I’m really inspired by that. For example, like when people think outside the box in little things they do such as creating different ways to perform random acts of kindness.

Melinda: What legacy do you want to leave behind?

I want to people to know that I did just the best that I could with what I had and that I didn’t waste any of my days or my time and talents being afraid or looking back too much. I’m raising my son so I really want him to be brave and want him to pursue things with an open heart, mind and be flexible.  I want that for him so much.  The only way to do it is to demonstrated it and not just tell him.  I want to have made people laugh and them knowing that I laughed all the time and did what I loved.

Melinda: Now giving the same circumstance and situation, what is your imagined life?

Sonja: Now, it would be to continue to write and I have several books in the works.  So I definitely want to keep writing and pursuing that.  I want to get into public speaking and especially speaking with young women to inspire them to not get stuck into all things they should do but just to be more aware about their options and take the time to listen to their own heart and do what they want to do.

12 Simple and Free (or at least inexpensive) Ways to Give

I recently interviewed Amy Fox on AspirelyTV.  Amy Fox is a mother of 2, community philanthropist and got inspired to start giving after her daughter was really sick when she was two years old. After her daughter recovered, she has been an avid supporter of national and local charities. Not only is she a supporter, she always inspires others to give.  Click HERE to view her interview! – Melinda

Guest blog by Amy Johnson Fox

Here are 12 Simple and Free Ways to Give!

1. Bring bags to the park or beach and have your kids clean up trash–this not only beautifies the community, but it really makes you kids see how dropping just one wrapper really adds up.
2. Fill a pair of new warm socks with small toiletries in one and snacks/drink in the other. Add a handmade card, tie the socks together and keep in your car. When you see a person in need of help (usually on a corner with a sign) hand them the socks.
3. Grab two or three other families and schedule a date to make a meal at the Ronald McDonald House. It is fun and rewarding.
4. Grab others in your sports league to organize an equipment swap for everyone or to provide as a donation for underprivileged kids. This helps get gently used equipment that kids have grown out of back into play at no cost.
5. Volunteer at an animal shelter or for a rescue. Foster some kittens or walk/socialize dogs.
6. Organize a toiletry drive at school, church/temple, or in your neighborhood and sort them into hygiene kits. Clean out all those unused hotel toiletries from under your sink and get them into the hands of families. Deliver to a local food pantry, OC Rescue Mission, or Ronald McDonald House.
7. Purchase fleece material on sale and have your family make no-sew blankets for Project Linus. It is fun and easy, and you can do this while watching a TV show. A cute fleece blanket will warm the body and heart of a sick child.
8. Keep your eyes open in your neighborhood. Maybe you have an elderly or sick neighbor, or a pregnant mom on bed rest. Offer to take trash cans in and out, or organize meals, water plants, or help with their pet care. What can you do to help out a neighbor going through a rough time?
9. Adopt a grand friend at a senior care facility. Play games, do art, read, simply talk, or help them learn some new technology.
10. Help abused kids at Olive Crest by making them Easter baskets or filling backpacks with school supplies.
11. Share your skills: medical, teaching, law, art, music… Everyone has skills they can share. Donate your time and expertise. Help those who cannot afford these skills, and help them break the cycle of poverty.
12. Appreciate your military. There are many ways to volunteer time or items through Operation Help a Hero.

How Amy Fox, a Community Philanthropist, Collected 50 Boxes of Clothes to Hurricane Sandy!

Amy Fox is a mother of two and got inspired to start giving after her daughter got really sick when she was two. After her daughter recovered, she has been an avid supporter of national and local charities. Not only is she a supporter, she always inspires others to give. Here’s her story and she’s going to give us some tips about how we can help and make a difference as an individual.

Melinda: I’d like to start by talking about Hurricane Sandy.  When I heard what you have done, that’s when I really wanted to speak with you!  You personally collected 50 boxes of coats after the hurricane and people were sponsoring your boxes to be shipped!

Amy: So I have family on the east coast, people there lost their home, clothes and belongings while it was winter. They had requested on fb just trying to collect some clothes locally.  I shared this information to my kids, they said that “We have clothes, we have coats and we have grown out of things.  Let’s send our stuff”.  We started collecting stuff and we sent some text to friends for their donations.  So we also sent out an email to our school and the response was overwhelming.  Our community really wanted to help but didn’t know how.  People gave us bags and bags of coats, hats and warm clothes for adults and children.

Melinda: What inspired you to start giving?  What inspires you now?

Amy: Originally, 11 years ago, I had a child who became critically ill. While we were in the hospital, People brought us food, they took care of our mail and our cat.  Just those simple things really warmed our hearts and made us think how we could do this for others in the future. We also got involved with the Ronald McDonald house because we had to stay there while our daughter was in the hospital.  We were so grateful that it was there.  The organization helps support families with sick children in the hospital so that the parents can be there with their children.  So when we got out of the hospital, we stayed active to help the organization, the hospital and kids on dialysis.  We also really stayed active with the Ronald McDonald house because we think that’s an organization that really just needs to be around.  Any parent can find themselves needing their services and it’s just great that they’re there for us.  What keeps us involved is that we are lucky enough to be involved with our school and congregation community that’s really big with community service.  So we get in involved with different projects.  It’s really fun and rewarding.  Every time we volunteer together with family or friends, we always end up getting something from it.  Not because we mean to but because we feel great about it.

Melinda: What is the next project?

Amy: I have 2 projects coming up, one is an annual donation for the Fleischer foundation.  We raise money to provide CPR training in school. They fund a program through the American Heart Association called CPR anytime.  Each kid gets a recessitation kit, learn CPR and they go out and train 3 other people.  We also put defibrillators in schools.  Automated external defibrillators are key when some body’s heart stops and sometimes you need to shock that heart back in.  The shock is needed within 5 minutes of a heart stopping or the person can die.  We had a few young adults who passed away for that reason.  And so, this is saving lives.  The other project coming on is for kids who are going through dialysis.  There is only 1 dialysis center for children here in the OC.  Kids are spending 3 hours a day getting their blood cleaned.  We support them with their child life coordinator by providing movies, personal dvd players and video games.  My daughter is going to teach the kids origami and make crafts with duct tape.  Giving them things they can do while doing dialysis.  It’s a hard life being in dialysis, they can’t swim, play sports because they have tubes coming in and out of the bodies.

Melinda: You are showing people how you can make a difference by taking action and not just about donating money.  That’s incredible.

Amy: There are websites you can visit to give you ideas.  Just find things you are passionate about and jump in and find ways to help.  I know a little girl who walks dogs and donates the money she makes to animal shelters.  Or she buys them gift cards so they can buy food for the animals.  My younger daughter loves animals, and so, for her birthday one year, she collected gift cards for her local animal rescue.    This year we just recued a cat from the rescue.  She noticed that the cat didn’t have enough toys so she wants to collect dog and cat toys for the rescue.  So you can turn things that you love and help that way.

Melinda: If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

Amy: I would love to write a book about inspiring your kids to just be good people.  How to do simple things to make a difference and change the world.  They can change the world by helping people in need.   Just being a kind person.  If you don’t have the money to give, there’s always time.

Melinda: You and your family are amazing not only because you give but you inspire others to give.  It’s contagious and it’s inspiring.

#FitnessTuesday: Diet vs. Exercise. Where Should You Start?

Feature Guest Blog:  #FitnessTuesday with Andrea Galbreath!

Diet vs Exercise: Where should you start?

I get approached by many people telling me they want to lose weight.  Interestingly enough, that statement is often followed by this question:  “Should I start with diet or exercise?”

Well, here is my take on this.  It’s kind of like the chicken and the egg debate.  Does it really matter which one is first? Not really, because you can’t have one without the other.  The same goes for diet and exercise.  It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you start! But in order to have real and long-lasting results, you need diet AND exercise.

Here are a couple of (almost) real life examples:

  1. We all know somebody that has lost 20, 30, 40 or more pounds with just diet alone.  Sure, that person has gone down a few dress sizes, but they look kind of soft and squishy and get out of breath just walking up a flight of stairs.
  2. What about that friend who is at the gym everyday sweating it out with the best of them?  She meets you for lunch, orders a cheeseburger, french fries, and a diet coke, then complains that she can’t fit into her pre-pregnancy jeans. Hmmmmm. Wonder why….

So what’s the take-away? First, don’t wait for the stars to align before you take control of your health. Start now!!!  Maybe you want to focus on your eating habits.  That’s great! Maybe you want to start by establishing an exercise routine that you can maintain.  Fabulous!  Just start and remember that in order to feel the full benefits of these changes you will have to include both diet AND exercise.  You won’t be sorry that you do!

Have a healthy day!


Connect with Andrea!

Mom of 3 amazing kids, health and fitness professional, Turbo Kick junkie, and Transformation Specialist helping people transform into better versions of themselves!




Redefining the Modern Mom. What does it mean to you?

In the 50’s, mothers stayed at home to serve their husband and children.  Between the 60s and the 90s, women fought hard to define femininity in the workplace, culture and home.

Today, 72% of moms are in the workforce with kids under the age of 18. Modern moms now want to be great mothers, however, while still pursuing and an identity outside of motherhood.  One of the biggest issues that moms face is the backlash of fragmented families and the fight to hold on to traditional values.  Moms are finding themselves having to work for financial needs but in reality 53% of them would actually prefer to be stay-at-home moms!

Is that possible for a working mom can put 150% in during work hours and can come home and hold on to traditional values?  Why is it that moms feel like they have to aspire to be a stay at home mom in order to achieve that?  Try Googling with the keyword “mom guilt”, and you’ll find over 20 pages of content just about moms and their guilt of self-care and work.  Each day, more than 25 millions mothers work, in addition to performing their duties as a mother, wife or homemaker.  Where is the Momevolution moving toward?  Are we going backwards?

With the rise of Gen Y moms (ages 20-35), a shift in thinking will be needed to close in this gap of 53% of working moms aspiring to be stay at home moms.  The modern mom will enlist help from friends and families to keep focus on their children’s development while feeling fantastic about the work they’re doing outside of their home.

Kick in those traditional values like “it takes a village” to raise a child and believe in the power of community.  Use technology to make your lives easier while staying connected with people you trust.  Don’t feel guilty for your happiness because the media portrays what their definition of a mom is supposed to be.  Because only 12% of moms feel that the media actually portrays them correctly.

The modern mom is NOT about going back to being a mom of the 50’s.  It’s about being smarter while combining the old with the new.

What are your thoughts?



*Sources: Searcher Moms: A Search Behavior and User Study, DoubleClick, 2007, U.S. Department of Labor, Trillion Dollar Moms by Maria T. Bailey & Bonnie Worthy Ulman and the Current Population Survey, Bureau of Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics

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I’ve got it all wrong. Achieve for your daughters, not for you.

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I often get asked why I’m a founder of a startup.  I get warned that the road is rough ahead and success rates are really low.  My selfish answer is that I want to achieve something within my lifetime.  Recently, I have set out on a journey to tell moms to hold on to their goals and dreams, take care of themselves and continue to achieve for a happier balanced life.  But I’ve got it all wrong.

As I was watching a video from Sheryl Sandberg today, there is a bigger purpose for my journey.  Here she is, speaking to college grads telling them to not quit before they quit. Often times girls are choosing professions that will give them a flexibility to have a family schedule later in life.  However, when they make that decision, they are cutting themselves short of their maximum potential.  What really needs to happen is that moms of my generation needs to raise their children to not to quit before they quit by being role models themselves.  Show your children that anything is possible, show them that even as a mom, you CAN achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself.  This is beyond selfish achievements, this is about demonstrating to your daughters that accomplishments are made by not giving up.

So forget about setting goals for yourself for a minute, set your goals for your children to see how you accomplish them.  Do and then you will teach.

Please take the time out to watch Sheryl Sandburg’s Video…  She truly is an inspiration.



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