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The Morning After

With freedom, all things are possible!


JUL 05, 2024


“With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” Oscar Wilde

A MESSAGE from Founder/Executive Director, CYNTHIA BRIAN

Before I start my workday, every morning when I open my laptop, I am confronted with hundreds of emails–spam, sales pitches, political propaganda, volunteer requests, and plenty of must-reads. It takes hours to sort through everything and it is necessary work. But yesterday, on the birthday of our nation, I decided it was my personal freedom day, too. After feeding my animals, watering my plants, and wishing happy days to family and friends, I plopped on a hammock under a magnificent magnolia tree and read two books. I listened to the birds singing, admired my flower garden, and explored my immense gratitude for living in the land of the free. Reclining on a patio chaise later that evening, the night sky filled with fireworks and stars. I was relaxed and happy.

Today is the morning after. I’m back at work sorting through double the emails, yet the refreshing day experienced yesterday lingers. Of the hundreds of requests I receive monthly from around the world from people who say they want to volunteer with Be the Star You Are!®, an average of two become volunteers. That is not because we turn them away. It is because once these individuals learn that volunteering involves doing the work, they disappear. The volunteers of Be the Star You Are!® are dedicated to empowering the lives of others. They do receive community service credits, they do add their work to their resumes. But, unlike the people who state their desire to volunteer, but don’t follow through, our volunteers do the work.

Over the 25 years that Be the Star You Are!® has served women, families, and youth, thousands of fantastic volunteers have spent their days with us. On September 28th, at the Pear and Wine Festival and parade in Moraga, BTSYA will be celebrating and honoring everyone who has helped to make a difference. Be the Star You Are!® is honored to have won the 2024 Nonprofit of the Year Award. Our teens are now planning the events and more information will be released on our website, under events soon. I hope you’ll join the festivities.

Today, on the morning after, I extend Happy Birthday wishes to America, Maria, and Kristen. Read on to learn more about Maria. On July 30th, celebrate friendship, kindness, diversity, inclusion, acceptance, and togetherness on the United Nations Global Day of International Friendship,

Take time to heed Oscar Wilde’s advice. Freedom, flowers, books, and the moon are a few of the ingredients of happiness. I add the love of family and friends to that list.

If you’d like to read my article about Freedom Flowers, visit

Wishing you a restful, freedom-filled summer.

Sending love and peace and gratitude,

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO box 376

Moraga, California 94556


A sparkling conversation on Bold Brave TV with host Serene Grace of "Your Inner Light" with StarStyle® Productions President and Founder of Be the Star You Are!® charity. Get inspired, heed the positive message, and discover your sparkles!

The 5th of July

by Karen Kitchel

While most folks celebrate the 4th of July, it’s the 5th when I remember making a dream come true.

Many years ago, when my heart drove me to explore various places around the world where I might find “my Maria,” I knew it wasn’t going to be a simple journey.  As a single parent, my options were limited in where I could adopt a baby girl.  Mexico appeared to be an easy possibility, notwithstanding all the red tape, reference letters and endless forms needed to apply.  Several months later, I got a call saying the program had closed for no apparent reason, and they wished me the best of luck.

I then learned Honduras offered an adoption program, and I even had a chance to communicate with another Mom who successfully added a daughter to her family.  While having a little baby girl was my wish, when I received a photo and description of a one-year-old, I accepted that she was the one chosen for me. That was until I received a letter apologizing for the agency’s mistake of giving this girl to someone else, and sorry to say, there were no more children available in the foreseeable future.

A co-worker once called me tenacious. It may have been this never-give-up attitude or very strong belief there was a plan for me, that kept me going.  Paraguay popped up in my research with an adoption office in rural Minnesota.  After completing a third set of paperwork and non-stop praying, I hoped this would be my destination. A photo and description of a beautiful three-month-old baby girl, whose birthmother’s name was Maria, felt like a sign from above.  The following Christmas Day, I found myself in Paraguay, where following a knock on my hotel door, appeared my Maria.

On July 5th I will celebrate the day 35 years ago when this adoption was finalized, and Maria officially became my daughter.  Every ounce of effort was rewarded, and I’ll always give thanks to all who helped make my dream come true.

Karen Kitchel is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She purchased the book, No Barnyard Bullies, as a gift for every kindergarten student where she is a volunteer teacher.  You can read more about Karen’s adoption story in the book Be the Star You Are! Millennials To Boomers.

With freedom, all things are possible! Happy July!


Passion, Purpose, & Possibility Producer

Empowerment Architect
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