Sunday, December 16, 2012

Have a Heart: From around the world to Newtown

I am still in shock, and disbelief that such evil can exist in our world?  I drove home eyes streaming with tears as I put myself in the shoes of those families, just eleven days before Christmas, who lost their precious angels. I thought of the brave heroes who risked their lives to protect those innocent children.  I thought of the children who will never get to open presents from Santa this Christmas... who will never have their first kiss, their graduation, the chance to make a difference in the world.  It is hard to rationalize that which is not rational.  The breadth and scope of humanity is just a fleeting second, and for those precious gifts of God, much too short.  My heart breaks...
In memory of the recent tragedy in Newtown we are hoping to come together as a community in the thought that “those children are our children” and show the people of Newtown that we are in this together. So many of us watched the news with broken hearts and a feeling of helplesness. Here is the opportunity for all of us to show our love for Newtown, to let them know they are not alone. To let them know as they piece their lives back together that we are there to shed tears with them, prayer with them, and help in any way we can.
Here is what you can do: Cut out a paper heart, decorate it, and write a message of love (positive messages only please). Address them to Hearts of Hope and send one or many and mail them to:
Newtown Congregational Church 
14 West St, Newtown, CT 06470 
First Church Congregational
148 Beach Rd, Ffld CT 06824
This Christmas as I gather with my fiance, his mother, and two step daughters we will make and send these to show our love and support.  We are going to take these hearts and cover Newtown with our love from around the world. We are going to take these hearts and hang them up in local businesses, churches, and banks so that no matter where the people of Newtown go they will be surrounded by love and reminded that from hate rises love and support. That humanity is still very much alive and if we band together with love and hope in our hearts we can accomplish so much more. It really does take a village...
Additionally, it didn't take long for many more generous people to start online fundraisers for the victims and their families.
Here are five online campaigns you can contribute toward right away to help-sandy-hook-victims.  If you know of other online efforts to help the victims, please share them in the comments.
·        Sandy Hook Elementary School Fund: Chris DeLetto of Champaign, Ill., started this fundraiser on Crowdtilt, hoping to raise $50,000 in 30 days.
·        Help for the Sandy Hook Elementary School Families: Razoo's campaign started by Joe Waters is raising money for the Sandy Hook Parent Teachers Association.
·        Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund: This Crowdrise campaign, started by Ryan, is raising money for the school's PTSA organization.
·        Secure Schools: Becky Hoover launched this campaign to get security systems in place in all U.S. schools, including pass-key systems with cameras.
·        Wall of Love: This interactive website, designed following the tragic shooting, wants to show everyone affected by the tragedy that there is more love than hate in the world.
In the last few nights I have read many posts from parents saying they were going to hug their children a little tighter.  I urge us all to cherish the time we have with our loved ones, for we never know what can happen.  May we all find light in this darkness, and may God bless those who so needlessly lost their lives and bring comfort to those still on earth. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Year 1

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Our Year 1

Year 2

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Last night Jay and I celebrated our 2 Year Anniversary ... the day we met, stayed up talking till 6 in the morning, and fell in love with eachother!! Little did he know I was working hard on his gift. This is a compilation of our memories in YEAR 2! 

Warning - it is JAM PACKED with lots of amazing memories. Feel free to fast forward through our magical Year 2! :)

Jay- thanks for making every day of my life memorable, even when we are just celebrating hand in hand eating Fro Yo, hehe. I Love you today, tomorrow, and always!

Friday, September 28, 2012

What do YOU want to be when you grow up?

It was somewhere between not too long ago, and a lifetime ago that I was graduating high school and entering College and pondering that dreaded question, "what do you want to be when you grow up?".  As a child I had loads of ambition and diverse career choices, ranging from circus acrobat to pediatric cardiologist.  I also loved to paint, and was often choosen to do school art murals; someone asked me once if I wanted to be a painter.  I replied as an honest and sassy 12 year old, "no, they only become famous when they're dead".

My mom was a single mom, and although she worked 24 years for the NY Board of Education, I clearly remember her joking around saying, "I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up", in fact it might have been last week.  She has always had a strong will, and curiosity to try new things. She also encouraged me to get a college degree (first in my family) and inspired me that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grow up, sky's the limit.

CEO of Cisco- John Chambers, and I
For those of you know me, my fear of heights limited my acrobatics career, and my passion for technology, and a fortunate opportunity, paired with a "go get em' attitude" (thanks to my Brooklyn NY Mom) has now luckily landed me my 9 year career at Cisco.  I am very happy with my opportunity, and continue each day to learn something new.  I still remember the meeting that changed my life.  I graduated College with a 3.6/4.0 double majoring in Global Business and Marketing, yet I was waitressing and walking around in my bathrobe post graduation.  Mom would greet me and say, "What are you, Hugh Heffner? You graduated with honors, you have more potential than this...".  I knew she was right, I just didn't know where to begin?

Luckily, my alma matter, Manhattan College, had an alumni event.  Due to my high grades and achievements in school and leading many clubs and activities they invited me to attend.  Unfortunately, most of the alumni that attended were more interested in chatting with each other than the students.  I stood in the hallway greeting people, wearing a Scarlet O'Hara inspired Dress and a giant green sash with the letter M {for Manhattan- I pray they still don't make us wear them haha}.  A man approached me, and joked, "Hi M, Where are your friends, N, O, and P?".  Cue humiliation, and a good laugh.  We began chatting for almost an hour.  He would ask me about my history at MC, my goals, and aspirations.  He went on to inquire if I knew anything about Routers or Switches.  I nodded, and sheepishly grinned- "No, but I'm a fast learner".  I have always loved technology, in fact, I would stay late at our school computer labs while my mom worked, and often won the "computer awards"  beginning as far back as Elementary school.   It was not until that very moment that I had even considered I could have a career in something I loved.  Most of my family was first generation from Italy and Poland.  There were six of them- "the Italian Brady Bunch of Brooklyn" people would jest.  They were blue collard, dedicated, hard working, honest, and passionate.  They each inspired their children, that in America, you can do anything you dream of, that each of us are capable of anything we set our minds to.

That man, Lou McElwain, who I later came to realize was a Cisco VP, changed my life and helped filled in the dots where I lacked direction.  He told me about the Cisco ASR program, and I began interviewing.  The first two went smoothly, but the last looked at my resume and laughed, "I don't think this job is for you".  I intercepted, "I think you're wrong...if you can teach me, I can learn".  Turns out I was hired a few weeks later and offered both the Engineering and Sales positions.  The rest was history.

I recently sat in the CompTIA Break Away AMM " Women in IT" Meeting, where I now sit on the executive Board.  We had a group of wonderful volunteers (women and men) from Nellie Scott of Lenovo, Stephanie Young of Xerox, Mary Ellen Grom of Synnex, and John Mehrmann CEO at Zylog Systems- to help answer questions, share their stories, experience, and wisdom to those young and young at heart who listened in closely during our Breakfast Meeting. They touched upon really pressing questions, such as "What advice is critical for women who want to approach management for raise", "Do you find that qualified women enter work force strong and drop off at promotion?".  They also shared their thoughts in regards to a 2011 study concerning challenges of women which states “Middle Mgmt women get promoted on performance --men on potential”. Additionally, they shared personals stories such as what they did to differentiate themselves in their career, and how that helped them; and of course a highlight focus on the ever pervasive question "What can we do to get more young woman interested in a career in IT"?

For those struggling with these questions, their pearls of wisdom proved why "Advancing Women in IT" is one of, if not THE most important and collaborative community CompTIA offers. Learn more about CompTIA's Advancing Women in IT.  You can also join our group on Linked IN: AWIT LinkedIN Group.

CompTia's Advancing Women in IT

Although I was lucky to find mentorship, I wish such a group existed when I was in College or even High-School to help recruit and educate young men and women to a career in IT.  Although, it is never to late to learn something new.  I recently had the fortune to participate in the CompTIA Advancing Women in IT Video. This engaging and entertaining video showcases IT as an exciting, multi-faceted and long-term career choice for women. The video’s target audience is women either:

•       starting out in their career, or
•       considering a career change

The video encourages viewers to learn more about opportunities in the technology industry. The end of the video directs them to an AWIT Mentoring Program Landing Page where interested women can access resources to get them started, including finding a mentor, exploring career roadmaps, earning certifications and more.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:  Advancing Women in IT Video

Please help us promote this video inside your personal and professional network video by doing one or more of the following:

1) Posting the video link ( to your status updates on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn.

2) Forwarding this link to your contacts with:
women’s organizations
your alumni association
your local high school
members of your network involved in the technology industry
your local girl scout troop and/or 4H organization
women’s networking organizations within your company
veteran’s organizations
local news organizations covering the technology industry and/or women’s interests
other relevant education or technology-focused organizations

3)     Share the video link with your children and your friends

I now have two step daughters, aged 13 and 15.  As my beloved mother guided me, I want them to know they can be anything they want when they grow up, and maybe just maybe that is a career in IT.  I am reminded of one of my most inspirational books, by the one and only Dr. Seuss, "The Places You'll Go", and I leave you with these words:

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy {or GAL} who'll decide where to go...

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Facebook Statistics- Where Do I Rank?

For those of you who are on Facebook and enjoy random facts and statistics (like I do), I was very excited to find out we can check our stats via a company called Wolfram, which has taken profile analysis to the next level (Thanks Jay McBain, ChannelEyes Founder and Fiance Extraordinaire for the find!).  

So what did I learn about myself, and all of you?  Well notwithstanding the clock ticking away my birthday to the hundredth decimal ;) I learned not surprisingly my highest activity this past year was in June (coincidentally the month I got engaged); as well as May 2011 (I am guessing my Birthday).  My most common posts are before 9 am and after midnight. My most common words: Love, Jay, McBain, Happy, Life... funny eh?  

My most liked post was my SMB150 Influencer Award by SMB Magazine, followed by my move back to NY from RTP NC. Out of 2,797 posts analyzed, my average "likes" are 6.67, and my average comments are 4.02 per post with an average post of 27 words and 173 characters (Take that Twitter)!  What was my most commented posts?   When I was awarded the Cisco World Wide Innovation and Growth Award, tied  with people who were asked to describe me using only one word... gulp. 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, I tower as a "chatty Cathy" with a whopping 6,092 photos in my Photo Albums!  Omitting those who doctor their age, my "oldest" friend is my Great Uncle Eugene at 77 year oldest, and the youngest is my stepdaughter Mila at 12!   Divided by sex, my facebook is shockingly almost half and half at 52% Women and 47%, and only half are married.  If you are single and looking, perhaps I can take a swing at "Match Making" :). 

Where do my friends come from? Well, the top 5 countries represented are United States, Canada, UK, Australia, and Brazil. My favorite friends political quotes?  "Conservative (just to the right of the crazy right wing lunatics" and "Can't we all just get along" (my guess not quoted from the same source ;)).  It also appears the majority of my friends are Christians, Catholics, and Atheists (there could not be a more disparate scale).  Out of all my friends the most common first and last names? John Williams.  Proving not enough of my relatives are on Facebook (My family names are more like Santino, Gieuseppi, Vincenzo and always end in a vowel- "fuggetaboutit").

The majority of my friends are made up of Cisco, School Friends and Zumba friends (makes sense I would suppose, as these are the most important aspects of my life, and as we aforementioned my family is not on facebook). 

This was an interesting way to look at my life, my friends, and myself.  If curious you too can give it a try:

The following is my Infographic:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ode To My Fur Kids

When I look at your sweet face
And see the grays creeping in on your chin
I remember your days as a puppy
Just moments ago, blown by in the wind.

I think to myself how lucky I am
To have my life be blessed by you.
Sweet and loving, always forgiving

And to not only have one- but two!

Together we have all grown up
So many memories we share
Every laugh, and every smile
Through every tear, you were there

You never leave my side
On walks you wait for me
(I suppose you have an advantage…
I have ½ the legs of thee)

The way you play, And sleep all day
And snuggle all night long
The way you cry at the foot of the bed,
And sing to me your song

I lift you up, and share my bed,
Or rather give you all!
And you give all your heart to me...
I’m luckiest of all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Picture it, you enter the hallway of the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Florida and are swarmed by a sea of people clad in neon colors and flamboyant styles.  The music is pumping from the hotel bar and it rings through the lobby as masses of smiles greet dancing strangers who are suddenly friends.  Who is this energetic mob affectionately joked as being "dressed by Ray Charles"? This mass of 7,000 people representing 79 countries from around the world could only be one thing- Zumba Instructors at the National   Zumba Fitness Convention   the largest fitness convention in the world!

I have witnessed two extremes.  Those who have potentially been living under a rock, and have never even heard of the word "Zumba", and those die hard fanatics who do not miss a single class.  In the essence of everyone in the middle, who might have heard of it, but still don't know what exactly Zumba is- here is your quick schooling:
Zumba is not just "another fitness class" it's key quote best described as "ditch the work out, and join the party", combines dance and aerobic elements to form "fun fitness". Zumba's choreography incorporates a diverse array of International dance styles from Hip-Hop, Soca, Samba, Salsa, Serengue, Mambo, Martial Arts, African, Bollywood, Swing, Belly dance, and more!  They also manage to sneak in some Squats and lunges, along the way.  
Zumba is a Colombian dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez during the 1990s.  Alberto Perez started out as a street performer and then an aerobics teacher in Colombia, making extra cash on the side teaching the wives of businessmen how to dance in nightclubs in his hometown.    
One day the owner of a nearby gym called and asked if Perez could stand in for an injured aerobics teacher. He agreed - but didn't mention he had never done aerobics and rushed out and bought a copy of Jane Fonda's Workout Book.  His fitness career was born.                                       In 1986, Perez forgot his tape of aerobics music for a class he was teaching. He took the tapes he had in his backpack—consisting of traditional salsa and merengue music—and improvised a class using this non-traditional aerobics music, today known as Zumba! 
 It proved to be a hit and he quickly developed a loyal following before he moved to Bogota, where he briefly worked as a choreographer with pop star Shakira.  In 1999, Perez packed up and headed to Miami, speaking no English but hoping to make a breakthrough in the Latin-flavored U.S. city with his new dance exercise class.  He struggled before eventually building up a large, adoring fan base of mostly Colombian expatriate women, including the mother of Alberto Perlman.

Perlman who was then a technology entrepreneur, lost his job in the dot-com bust two years later and was struggling with what career move to make next. He co-founded Zumba Fitness and is now its chief executive.
"My mom had been taking his classes for years," he said. "She would tell me about this amazing class but I never paid attention. When the bubble burst, I went to have dinner at her house and she kept saying 'Talk to Beto, maybe you guys could start a gym.'"               "I said I'd meet with him but I wasn't sure what I was going to do with him," Perlman recalled. But after watching a class, he came up with the idea for a new fitness video he hoped could be an infomercial success.
The men sought to put a name on the exercise, first thinking of the Spanish word rumba, which loosely translates as party, but realized it was already trademarked.  So, they went through the alphabet to see what rhymes with rumba. "We were getting nervous by the end, nothing sounded good - bumba, kumba. Then we settled on Zumba, it was perfect."After finding initial success in Colombia, he moved to the United States in 2001, where he teamed up with cofounder Alberto Perlman and a childhood friend, COO Alberto Aghion. The trio of Beto's produced a demo reel, and the concept was discovered and licensed by a company called Fitness Quest to create a direct marketing campaign and a line of home videos.

Zumba has exploded from a Miami gym phenomenon to infomercial and DVD smash hit into a global craze with some 12 million people taking classes every week  in over 110,000 locations across more than 147 countries around the world.  Zumba Fitness now boasts being the largest branded fitness program in the world.
What began as a company focused on fitness has evolved into a lifestyle and entertainment brand combining e-commerce, apparel and music, and a sought-after outlet for stars like hip-hop artists Pitbull and Wyclef Jean and reggaeton singer Don Omar who have turned to Zumba to promote their music.  What more this marketing behemoth has cornered the fitness market:  Zumba began selling DVDs via infomercials in 2002. In 2005 The Zumba Academy has been launched to license instructors for teaching Zumba classes. In 2007 the company launched a clothing line called Zumbawear. In 2010 Zumba released its first fitness video game, Zumba Fitness on November 30, 2010. As of August 2011, it has sold 3 million copies.  In July 2012, it released the compilation album Zumba Fitness Dance Party. 

Zumba has appeared in multiple magazines and news articles such as Shape, Fitbie, Washington Post, Bride Magazine, USA Today, Fox Business, Reuters, Aging Well, and most recently Men's Fitness with our very own Beto on the cover!

The company has also launched its own line of brightly colored clothing, Zumba footwear and a glossy magazine named "ZLife", all designed in its Miami office. But it is also focused on developing TV shows, pushing into global markets, particularly Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America, and exploiting a new business opportunity: fitness concerts.  "I see Zumba Fitness also as an entertainment brand," Perlman said. "It's becoming a music, TV and concert platform."  

You can pick from a variety of shades and options to find the best fit for you. There are eight different types of classes for different levels of age and exertion. These include Zumba, Zumba Gold, Zumba Toning, Aqua Zumba, Zumbatomic, Zumba in the circuit, Zumba Gold-Toning and Zumba Sentao. Zumba Gold mainly targets the older population, beginner classes, or those with injuries who want a more low impact work out.  Zumba Toning is for the people who do their workouts with toning sticks. Zumba Toning will target the abs, thighs, arms, and other areas. Aqua Zumba is Zumba in a swimming pool- imagine you are in an exotic location as you splash and dance. Zumba in the circuit is the dance combined with circuit training, at Curves. ZumbaAtomic is geared towards kids who rock out while they work out. The newest is Zumba Sentao, chair-based choreography will strengthen, balance and stabilize the core, and step up cardio work in a whole new way. Students learn to use a chair and their own body weight to enhance muscle strength, improve definition and endurance, and tone their physique!
"Over the years, fitness became too complicated and difficult," Beto said. "The industry turned egocentric with an emphasis on instructors doing the exercises. It became a show." He added: "They forgot about normal people - mothers, grandmothers and the housewives who want to stay in shape and have some fun. That's the essence of Zumba."
So why am I so passionate about Zumba? I am a proud instructor for the past two years, and Zumba Lover and student for five:  My Zumba Website.  Through Zumba fitness I have lost close to forty pounds.  I have found a hobby which I love, a way to inspire others, and new friends every day.  This week marked my first ever Zumba Convention along with 7,000 of my closest friends and "zisters", the largest fitness convention in the entire world.  We indulged on educational and inspirational sessions, speeches, and non stop dance classes and dance parties for  good causes (this year raising money for Susan B Komen and Breast Cancer).  Giving back is something I am very passionate about, and through Zumba we can host events to raise money for non profits and charitable causes of our choice- a great way to bring the community for fun fitness, and raise money and awareness for a great cause.  I have been privileged to do many, for various charities:  Leukemia, Breast Cancer, Heart Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Animals, and hope to do many more.

I left the convention fired up and ignited with passion.  As I mentioned earlier 79 Countries were represented, and I have never seen such amazing energy and feelings of being unified despite all of our differences.  All shapes, all sizes, all colors, Black and White, Latino and Asian, Old and Young, , Gay and Straight, Active and Handicapped, Christians, Jewish, Muslims, Athiests, Buddhists and Agnostics-- all dancing as ONE.  Zumba does not discriminate, it unifies, and brings the world together through dancing, laughter, and fun.   No Limits, No Boundaries!We don't do it to lose weight, or gain muscle, although that is a side effect.  We participate in Zumba because it is an hour of the day for us to take time to forget about our troubles, and have a great time.  You find classes near you by going to: I encourage you to give it a try, and warn you- you too might get addicted! :)

Beto Perez and I :)