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Archive for February, 2016

Extraordinary Woman: Molly Demeulenaere

Posted on: February 29th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

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Molly Demeulenaere grew up on a horse farm in South Florida, where she spent most of her childhood. Her parents, Pam and Greg Demeulenaere, weren’t afraid to raise and homeschool Molly and her older brother, Brad, in unconventional ways—and perhaps unknowingly drew her toward her present job in an exciting and unpredictable world: as the CEO of MOSI.

“I had the wonderful opportunity to spend most of my school-age years learning in an informal environment, including visiting water treatment plants, nature conservancies, and even MOSI – which really sparked my interest in science,” recalls Demeulenaere, who also started working at the age of 13 with a large animal veterinarian, Doctor David Randall. “I worked for many years at his clinic, Big Cypress Animal Clinic in Naples, and he really shaped me into the thinker and worker I am today. From the first time I set out on house calls until I left his practice to pursue other career opportunities, Dr. Randall treated me with respect and gave me autonomy to learn, make mistakes and think for myself. He held others to the same standards and taught me that it doesn’t matter how old you are or what your background is, if you have a passion for something and work hard enough, your dreams can come true.”

What do you think is the secret to your family’s success?
Work ethic! In addition to working for the vet, I also had daily chores including milking goats, mucking stalls and even working in my parents’ carpet and furniture cleaning business. Going to work with my dad wasn’t enough; my parents pushed me to think like an entrepreneur and I started making pot holders on the way to clients’ homes in the morning and then would “pitch” them before he was done cleaning. Sometimes I would even look at their kitchen when we would arrive and make coordinating pot holders while we were onsite so I knew they would buy them before we left. I saved all my money and bought my first car when I was 15: in cash!

What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is fear. It strangles my confidence and reduces productivity, which has a very negative effect of both my work and personal lives. What is the worst that can happen? I fail? Ok, well, every person that has accomplished great things has failed at something, right? This is not to say that I don’t worry about it day in and day out. I set very high goals for myself and the people around me and risk-taking is in my DNA. This comes with its share of fear. I want to make my team proud, my organization thrive and my community a better place.

What advice would you give to other women?
Don’t let people tell you ‘no.’ By the way, I give everyone that advice. Don’t sit at the kids’ table. Show up, do what you say you are going to do and over-deliver. Don’t think about being a woman. Think about being the best professional, parent, mentor and community member possible. What else can people expect? On the other hand, remember what is important. Most people who have known me for a long time know I have had enough hair colors to match every color in the Easter basket—even pink and blue. When I was younger, I felt that expressing my individuality through fashion was part of my identity, and if people judged me by my looks, that was their problem. A few years later, when choosing my next path and thinking about the conundrum of self-expression versus career goals, someone asked me: What’s your mission in life? Do you want to change people’s lives or have pink hair? Enough said; the pink went away and I haven’t thought about it since. That is a lesson I wish I had learned a few years earlier!

What is your proudest moment?
Becoming the president and CEO of MOSI. I am 38 years old and I’ve traveled a very non-traditional path, and with hard work, passion, blood, sweat and tears, I have my dream job. I get to come to work every day and watch people’s minds expand. I yearn for more knowledge, and work with donors to transform children’s lives through education. Really, I can’t imagine having a better job, a job that makes me get up every day at 5 a.m. without an alarm and run to my office. Yup, still proud to be MOSI’s leader.

What is your biggest achievement?
I don’t think I am there yet. I feel there is so much more to do. I think I have benchmarks in my life. Most people don’t know it, but I was a professional ballroom dancer in my 20’s and got to travel around the world and opened my own dance studio in Sarasota.

What makes you happy?
Smiling, content and healthy people including myself and those closest to me. I have a wonderful partner and step-son, and when I am not working, I am spending time with them here and in Germany.

How do you relax and take time for yourself?
The beach, sunrise and sunset. Even though I grew up accustomed to seeing them, I still can’t get enough and not a week that goes by that I don’t marvel at the beauty of where we live. I love mid-century modern architecture and furniture. I can often be found scouring thrift stores and vintage shops for the next great find. Oh, and great food and wine.

What kind of message would you like to give women in the area?
It is time we start acting like the majority, be confident and give ourselves a break for not being perfect. Men aren’t perfect and you don’t see them worrying about it. Step back, look around and do something every day to make Tampa Bay a better place.

What is your favorite thing to do with your kids in Tampa Bay?
We visit science centers all over the world, but in Tampa Bay I have to say that the Tampa Trio of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in the Florida Aquarium, Lowry Park Zoo and MOSI always top our list. Is that a shameless plug? Maybe, but I have been talking about being fearless, so I had better walk the walk.

What is your biggest inspiration?
So many! My parents; Dr. Randall; my first non-profit mentor, Patricia Caswell; my staff; science center CEOs from around the world, and the list goes on.

Visit Our Friends!

Posted on: February 17th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Here you’ll find links to resources, affiliates and partners who share information about parenting, family and more!

Want to see yourself here? E-mail info@ParentingWithAngela.com

TALKING TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT TRAGIC EVENTS

Posted on: February 10th, 2016 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

So how can we make the news an educational experience for our kids, instead of something scarring and traumatic for life?

Before you explain it, think of how it is perceived 
The most important thing to remember when exposing your kids to the news, is that children perceive things much differently than an adult, according to KidsHealth.org. A news report about something like a school shooting or a bombing, for example, can make them fear that it will happen to them and it can cause severe anxiety. They also may be afraid of things as simple as a thunderstorm by watching the news– especially when newscasters use terms like “deadly” and “severe”.

Take a step back when viewing the news, and think of how your child might perceive it. Try to find news programs that do not use sensationalized, loud, or particular disturbing images. You might want to check out a news website and watch it alone at a later time, or watch short clips of reports to decide if that it a channel worth bringing into your living room. Sometimes, there is no way to sugar-coat or dull the news down, but trying to find the right TV news station that doesn’t make every single story completely terrifying can help. You can also encourage your kids to read the newspaper, which you can easily monitor before they see it.

Break it down into simpler terms and be proactive
It is important to keep your kids informed on what is going on with the news, but you should also try to explain it to them in terms that they can understand, according to KidsHealth.org. Ask your kids what they think about current events, how it makes them feel, and what they think the people involved should do.

Ask them what they can do to help as well. Sometimes, especially in a traumatic event or a natural disaster, it can be easy to feel powerless and small, which will cause your child to have more fear. By helping your child find some way to help, no matter how small, you are empowering them against fear. Be open to their questions as well and don’t be afraid to tell them your opinion of a news story.

It is also important to teach your child the context of a news story. Is this an isolated incident being reported? Something more regular? What are the chances that your child will ever encounter what they are discussing on the report? Your kids should be informed, but they should also learn to use the news as a reference point for the world around them. If they don’t understand a report’s context, they may think that tragedies happen every day to every person and that is not realistic.

Filter what types of media they consume
KidsHealth.org suggests that you watch TV news with your kids so that you can filter it, and then turn it off once you have seen the report. Discourage your kids from watching the same report over and over. If you want to follow a story, perhaps you would like to keep up with breaking news during a tragedy for example, consider downloading an app on your phone or visiting a news website so that your child is not constantly exposed to it.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests letting your child know that it is okay to be upset or even angry after a traumatic event in the news, but to field how much information your kids are taking in. You should also assure your kids that you will do everything you can to keep them and the rest of your family safe.

Another thing you can do to help your kids stay informed without staying afraid or confused, is to encourage them to consider their news sources as they grow older. KidsHealth.org suggests that you teach your kids to consider why something is newsworthy or why it is on the air. For example, was a segment on the air just to boost ratings, or is it something that will actually have an effect on their lives? When a teen or child understands the mission of the news, they can more accurately choose a good news source and can feel in control of what they are exposing themselves. This is a good thing for parents to consider as well– is the news source you are watching just trying to boost ratings, or are they trying to keep you informed and safe?

Beware of overplaying the news. Especially in matters of extreme tragedy, like a school shooting for example, we can be tempted as adults to be sucked into what is called the “24 hour news cycle”. When we watch these news stories over and over, it can instill fear in kids and cause them to become a little obsessed and afraid of the tragedy, making them think that it will happen to them.

It is true that knowledge is power, and the news can be a powerful and highly useful tool for teaching your kids about the world around them. With open communication, the right news sources, and a little monitoring, having a news informed child can be a great thing!

If your kids or teens want to find ways to get involved after local events or tragedies, visit The Children’s Board online.