Posted by: Anne Balaban | September 8, 2012

Common Sense is Uncommon–Chapters- Newmarket -Book Signing Alert

I will be at Chapters, in Newmarket, today, Saturday, September 8th from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Book Signing of Commmon Sense is Uncommon. Great store, great people!

Psychology classes at the Toronto District Board start on Saturday, September 15th and 17th.
I will be reviewing many fun psychological topics, including the long term results of a study on instant gratification.

I am continuing my “Motivational Lecture Tour” on “Diversity” at Amica Bayview on Sunday afternoons. Everyone is welcome, please call Amica.

Team Canada mens' beachHeather and Team Canada

Two Canadian beach volleyball teams have earned their spots for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Annie Martin and Marie-Andree Lessard will compete in the women’s Olympic tournament, while Josh Binstock and Martin Reader will represent Canada in the men’s competition.

Both teams won their final matches at the Canadian Beach Volleyball Trials at Ashbridges Bay in Toronto.

What a wonderful privilege it was to be in the crowd supporting our team.
I am a long time friend and supporter of the Binstock family and was thrilled to be at such a momentus event…Congratulations to everyone, especially Suzanne and Howard.

From: Martin Reader []
Sent: 2012-07-09 12:45 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Olympics for team Binstock/Reader!!!

Dear family, friends and fans,


Josh and I won the Canadian trials event in Toronto this weekend and will be representing Canada in London! We had a fantastic match on AshBridges Bay this Saturday and beat the second ranked Canadian team in 2 sets 21-18, 21-14. We can now call ourselves Olympians!


For more articles and updated info please visit our facebook group


Thanks you for your overwhelming and continued support. We can’t wait to represent Canada on the front steps of Buckingham Palace in a few weeks.


All the best,


Martin and Josh




Team Canada Beach Volleyball

2012 Olympian

Posted by: Anne Balaban | June 24, 2012

A Canadian in Rio de Janeiro: From a GRINGO perspective

I have had one of the best and longest birthday celebrations you can ever imagine.
Starting with The live Oprah Show in Toronto and ending on the Copacabana Beach Resort in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Please be aware that the word Gringo applies to any non-Brazilian and does not hold a negative connotation in Rio.

Advice:  From a  Canadian who has just come back… as of June 2012…VERY LITTLE  ENGLISH IS SPOKEN.. very, and I mean very few people speak English. Portuguese is the language spoken.

Secondly, Be Safe…Be aware…Do not  look like a Tourist . Do not wear any jewellery not even a  WATCH. This is difficult when you have hidden your money in a very private place, close to many personal body parts and then have to  try to get the money out to buy coconut water on the beach!!! !!!!

Thirdly, Check your bank and credit card balances carefully after you get home. Accessing your money from the Citi Bank money machines was no problem, except that the machine decided how much money you will get!!!  Different machines, at the same location, responded with different amounts (depending how much money they had left) regardless of your request.

Rio is hosting the Rio+20 Conference June 20-22, 2012, UN Conference on Sustainable Development, World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics 2016 and therefore many positive changes are taking place.

I visited a  favela which is the generally used term for a shanty town in Brazil. In the late 18th century, the first settlements were called bairros africanos (African neighbourhoods). This was the place where former slaves with no land ownership and no options for work lived. Over the years, many freed black slaves moved in. Even before the first “favela” came into being, poor citizens were pushed away from downtown and forced to live in the far suburbs. However, most modern favelas appeared in the 1970s, due to rural exodus, when many people left rural areas of Brazil and moved to cities. Without finding a place to live, many people ended up in a favela [1]. Census data released in December 2011 by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) shows that in 2010, about (6%) of the population lived in slums in Brazil[2]

 Investments, such as the ones to industries, infrastructure, tourism and social assistance appear to be helping to spread todays wealth, developing historic underdeveloped regions  and reducing the reasons to migrate to economic cores in Rio de Janeiro. The fast economic growth which Brazil appears to be experiencing shows that the poor classes are entering the middle classes and the rate of poverty is vertiginously falling. The city is working at cleaning up the city and better controlling the safety issue.

Safety:  This actually happened not far from our hotel on Copacabana beach. Imagine…..Police officers led by an agent from Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) landing two armored police helicopters on Copacabana Beach  (on Wednesday morning June 4th), much to the surprise of passers-by (ME), to come to the aid of a group of tourists who were being robbed.


Police helicopters took advantage of an empty Copacabana Beach to intervene in an assault on a group of tourists.

The officers had been returning from a training exercise on the Niterói side of the Guanabara Bay for Rio+20, to prepare for the Rio+20 Conference , when they spotted the assault taking place on the sidewalk in Copacabana. YES>>>>>> I took off my watch!!!!!!!!!!!Police helicopters took advantage of an empty Copacabana Beach to intervene in an assault on a group of tourists, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News


Common Sense is UnCommon.

 Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful city. Despite its social problems, the city, like its people, is warm, captivating, musical,  and devoted to enjoying itself. Rio is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character, and a different unforgettable view of Corcovado, the mountain that is crowned by a magnificent statue of  C’hrist, who appears to be watching  over Rio with his arms spread out in perpetual welcome.

Sugar Loaf Mountain: This boulder shaped mountain at the southern end of Botafogo beach had a magnificent view. The summit was reached by cable car. My birthday was celebrated, by a Sumba band, in the cable car, but unfortunately my age was mistaken due to loss in translation!!!!!


Rio+20 – the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012 – is a historic opportunity to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all.

 Twenty years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where countries adopted Agenda 21 – a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection – the UN is again bringing together governments, international institutions and major groups to agree on a range of smart measures that can reduce poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources.

An Earth From Above exhibition is taking place for a few months on the Cinelándia square, in the center of Río de Janeiro. The exhibition, that brings together 130 photos of Yann Arthus-Bertrand, was inaugurated in his presence on the 27th of April, and will continue until after the end of the Rio+20 Summit. While on a walking tour of downtown Rio, I discovered these magnificent  photographs, purely by chance. They were all presented in three languages, Portuguese, Spanish and English. Yann started his work “Earth From Above” after the United Nations summit on Environment that took place in Rio in 1992.  The photos are accompanied by captions and specific figures that help us take the measure of what exactly has changed in these past 20 years.


 Hippie Fair Crafts Market: Like  A hippie hangout in the 1960s, this Sunday market in Ipanema is an entertaining place to browse for arts and crafts, as well as to people watch.

Art for sale at the Hippie Fair

 Other wonderful highlights: National Museum of Fine Arts, soccer game (cheering for Flamengo), Favela Tour, dance lesson (from Samba to Tango), street food and drink(Acai and Cupuacu juices), visting and enjoying tours with Lemon Spirit Hostel,, Arts and Crafts at various markets,  beach walks (Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon) full of laughter and fun,  jewlery by a local Brazilian artist Maria Oiticica, taxi rides with drivers actually watching soaps on mini television sets while driving, all you can eat pizzas and crepes (birthday chocolate), Incredible “churrascaria” (steak houses), breakfast full of local fruits, tiny elevators, spray paintings, McDonald’s, looking for English speakers, getting used to rain, every single day, rain hair for me, Starbuck’s at a mall…just having fun in the rain with the best company ever!!!!! Thanks for the best birthday ever! Thanks for the Memories.

P.S.  Remembering.. I Love Lucy, Ricky Ricardo’s and Barry Manilow’s hit

The Copacabana!!!!






Birthday Cake 2 Clip ArtHere’s to friendship, fun and laughter. Please join me on Sunday, April 29th at Talbots, Yorkdale, from 10:00 am until Noon and have a piece of birthday cake with me. Please bring your funniest joke.

ON April 16TH, Oprah Winfrey brought her popular series, Oprah’s Lifeclass: the Tour to Toronto for a live show which aired Monday, April 16 (8 p.m. – 10 p.m. ET) on OWN.  Yes, I was one of the 9,500 people in line to be part of the Oprah Show live from Toronto. She was joined on stage alongside hand-picked experts including life and business catalyst Tony Robbins, spiritualist Deepak Chopra, Bishop T.D. Jakes and inspirational author Iyanla Vanzant. The topic was Forgiveness.

My “AHA” moment…. A young man, 16 years of age, was on stage telling his story of  how he would like to reconnect with his dad, whom he has not seen in three years. He told the audience about the emotional stages he has gone through since his dad divorced his mom. “What do I do now?” was his question. Iyanla went through an exercise that he could do. But it wasn’t until Tony Robbins was on stage and a couple on Skype presented him with the same issue but with a different twist, that the audience went “AHA”.  The man on the screen related that he wished that the young boy was his son,  because his son has not wanted to connect with him at all. He asked Tony “What do I do now?”.

Tony related his own story but most importantly gave the following advice to the man on the screen.

First,  keep communication going once a week to your children, reminding them how much you love them. Be persistent. Don’t give up.

Secondly, make peace with your children’s mother. Ask how you can make her life easier!!!!!!

Tony Robbins Guides a Father Through Healing His Family – Oprah’s Lifeclass – Oprah Winfrey

Watch this:

I related this story to all my students this week. I received four e-mails thanking me. I learn, I teach and all I ask is that you Pay It Forward. Common Sense is UnCommon!

I had a great time watching the show, learning and meeting incredibly positive people. I like Positive Psychology.   To all my students, I am the dot in blue..try to find me!!! Kidding!!!

Posted by: Anne Balaban | April 11, 2012

Oprah’s Life Class Toronto

Watch  Oprah’s Lifeclass on April 16th at 8 pm on OWN . Yes, I will be there (together with over 5000 guests) and I cannot wait.

Pictures:  #1 Habitat For Humanity  #2 YMSAC Alumni dinner #3 Team Binstock/Reader Olympic Fundraiser

This is one of the best interviews I’ve ever experienced…..please make the time to watch it. Thank you Anthony Robbins for bringing her story to all of us…what an inspiration!!!

108 year old woman, living in London, still plays the piano everyday!

Inspirational #2

Subject: kitty Cohen- 99 in negril!
Kitty Cohen -99 years old dancing in Jamaica. She lives in Toronto, Ontario. Canada.

I was complaing about my upcoming birthday at the YMSAC alumni dinner and the Mackenzie Girls dinner when it was adviced that I read CommonSense is UnCommon again and listen to the 99 and 108 years young women.

What inspirations!!!! I am quiet now. I will be spending my birthday with Oprah Winfrey and Anthony Robbins at the Metro Convention Centre…. so there!!!

Posted by: Anne Balaban | March 6, 2012

Wonderfully Successful Diversity Art Exhibition

Nacho Cartagena, Josephine Latorre, Marta Alvarez, the artists, and Jorge Podgaiz, the pianist, all helped to make this art show a wonderful success. As the speaker, it was truly an honour to be among these exceptionally talented and generous people.

The video of the introductions of the three amazing artists:

Posted by: Anne Balaban | March 1, 2012

singer Davy Jones dies at 66

 I’m A Believer, Last Train To Clarksville, I Wanna Be Free, Steppin’ Stone, (I’m Not Your), Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, The Girl I Knew Somewhere, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Words, and Daydream Believer…..yes I was a fan!!!!

Yesterday, news of Davy Jones’ death brought on many emotions. Wonderful nostalgic remembrances of certain childhood songs and memories.  At 66 years young he died of a massive heart attack, according to today’s autopsy results, now that sent chills up my spine. If you’re in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, the news of how Jones died might also have given you pause as it did me. A heart attack at 66? How likely is that? Could it happen to me?
Just another reminder to live your best life everyday.

As far as the Oscar predictions, I was wrong fifty percent of the time. The lectures were great and I am scheduled to review The Artist and Hugo in the coming months. Now that is fun!!!!

Posted by: Anne Balaban | February 26, 2012

Predictions of the Oscars

I will be hosting four events tomorrow discussing the Oscars.
Who vote?
Here are my predictions:
Best Actor: Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Actresss: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, The Help
Best Picture: Hugo
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Have fun everyone!
This weeks inspirations, check them out….

Posted by: Anne Balaban | February 21, 2012

Fire Bag Souvenir- Reminder of overcoming our fears

 Fire Bag Souvenir- Reminder of overcoming our fears

I walked Barefoot on Red Hot Coals!!! Put simply, by changing your body’s physiology, you can change your emotional state, and by doing that, you change your behavior and therefore your life.This is my proof that I actually did this.
PS For me, having had the experience, it was exciting and exhilerating to watch Oprah, one of the worlds most successful women and role models, share in that experience.The firewalk challenge is used as a metaphor to illustrate what we can accomplish when we overcome our fears.

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