Durable Human (2 book series)

Insights Behind the TEDx Talk Durable Humans are Smarter Than Their Phones

Kids with arms around huge durable Sequoia tree.

Top TED talker Brene Brown nailed it at the Mom2Summit when she declared: “I’ve never done anything that was worth much unless I was scared shitless and nauseous.”

That’s exactly how I felt stepping onto the red circle at TEDx Tysons in Tysons, Virginia. But as I delivered “Durable Humans are Smarter Than Their Phones,” I was uplifted by the inspiration of a host of brilliant people I want to thank here.

Copious credit goes to Hilarie Cash, co-founder of ReStart, the nation’s first Internet addiction treatment center. Hilarie invited me in to meet people like “Jeff,” the young tech addict whose heartbreaking yet hopeful story you can read about here.

ReStart’s track record proves that simple things like cooking dinner and mopping the floor can help young people break the stranglehold of addiction and return to success in real life. By creating and sustaining Attachment, Hilarie told me in this interview, parents can help kids Continue reading

Best Books To Help Parents With Tech Mentoring, Nature Guidance, and Self-Care

Parents want to raise well-rounded kids who are comfortable in their own skin and with navigating in the natural and digital worlds. These advice books help parents and other care-givers to achieve that goal or to care for themselves in the process.

screenwise-coverThe sensible guide to raising digital citizens we’ve all been waiting for, Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World finally gets how kids use technology and how parents can support their efforts.

Author Devorah Heitner is thoroughly respectful of both sides of the equation and never talks down to, judges, or belittles anyone. Her book is chock-full of practical use-‘em-now tips and she gently instructs and builds the confidence of kids’ first and best digital mentors: their parents. This book doesn’t just skim the surface, it gets gritty and granular, supplying the words and tools we all need.

Among Heitner’s most important points:

  • Choose mentoring your child over simply monitoring what they do online.
  • Have clear, consistent boundaries and explain them to your kids.
  • Pay attention when your kids need you, or as Heitner says, “Be here now.”  Why that’s absolutely crucial.

balanced-and-barefootAnother must-read, Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children supplements Screenwise by  Continue reading

6 Books that Make You Feel and Think

Beach girl cartwheel crop by Jenifer Joy MaddenWhen reading or giving a book, you want the experience to be uplifting or at least thought-provoking. These titles are worthwhile because they exemplify redeeming qualities of human nature – or prompt us to work harder to retain them.     

Rare Bird by Anna Whiston-Donaldson cover compressRESILIENCE. One reason Anna Whiston-Donaldson’s Rare Bird has rocketed to the top of the non-fiction bestseller list is because of her extraordinary candor. Here she recalls what happened when her young son was swept to his death by a swollen creek near their home. Anna admits she’d always been the kind of  mother who let her kids play out in the rain, which she did that fateful afternoon. In her book, she intimately describes her struggle with the ensuing anguish and guilt. Her humor, honesty and faith are startling and cathartic, making Rare Bird soothing to the soul of anyone who has experienced a sudden loss, whether of a loved one or a way of life.


HOPE. In The Survivor TreeCheryl Aubin tells the story of a lone Callery Pear lovingly rehabilitated after it was buried in the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Centers. Beautifully illustrated in watercolor by Sheila Harrington, this is technically a children’s book, but has brought consolation, peace and hope to 9/11 survivors of all ages and the loved ones of those who were lost. Cheryl says she was called to research and write this story after seeing a tiny mention in USA Today about a little tree that was unearthed mangled and badly burned – but alive.


Best Care Possible cover compressCOMPASSION. In The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care through the end of Life, which I wrote about here, physician Ira Byock presents a positive approach to palliative care – the science and art of helping people in the end stages of life. In his sensitive and sensible guide, Byock holds the reader’s hand, making a heart-wrenching subject easier to face, as he summarizes in this statement: “We will encounter people whose lives we cannot save—diseases we cannot cure and injuries too grave to repair—but we can always make dying people more comfortable…to walk with patients, alleviating the person’s discomfort, optimizing his or her quality of life.”


Courier by Terry Irving cover compressIMAGINATION. We humans take delight in a good story, which Terry Irving delivers in Courier. Set in Washington, D.C. during the 1970s, a Vietnam vet, entrusted with delivering sensitive documents and fresh video for a major news network, rides straight into the center of a nation-shattering political scandal. Terry, whom I had the pleasure of working with at ABC, paints an accurate and vivid picture of the heyday of network news, bringing back the clatter of the old Associated Press wire machines even as he hints at the coming digital age. I never thought I’d be enthralled by the details of high-speed motorcycle chases, but Terry Irving proves me wrong with this delectable thriller.


The Circle by Dave Eggers cover compressPERSPECTIVE. As our lives become more entwined with technology, in The Circle Dave Eggers issues a dystopic wake-up call about what could happen if we don’t watch out. Set in the near future, Eggers describes how online life has been simplified to the point where everything we do is accessed through a single password and our activities are integrated by one, giant company which has managed to subsume all its competitors. We witness how one young woman, her family and her freedom are quickly transformed when she’s plucked from a dead-end job and brought into The Circle. This book presents a discomfiting look at one way that humans might figure in the future’s equation.


DURABILITY. The Durable Human Manifesto is an antidote to Eggers’ unnerving scenario. Baby giggles, crashing waves and other sounds of life accent the new audio version of this slim book which inspires you to be happy and effective in an increasingly digital world. As one reader describes it: “This quick 25-minute-listen is well worth your time.” From another: “Madden helps me understand how paying attention makes us more durable and better equipped to thrive in everyday life.”

Read more by Jenifer Joy Madden by joining the Durable Human News email list and following her on Google+.

How to Mingle with Agents and Editors

PubSmart Conference logoHere in the digital age where anyone can publish anything, emerging authors need to work harder than ever to stand out in the crowd, especially when speaking with an agent or editor. Your approach will make all the difference.

“Professionalism matters,” advised Angela Bole of the Independent Book Publishers Association, setting the tone for PubSmart, a practical new conference about the business side of book publishing.  

Since there’s no second chance to make a first impression, PubSmart presenters stressed that authors should speak with confidence and positive energy. “Have a pleasant look, hold peoples’ eyes—and don’t say um,” agent Rachelle Gardner told a rapt audience of authors in a session about how to mingle with industry experts.

But just as important as what you say is where you say it. Continue reading

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