Monday, December 27, 2010

100 Books for 2010.....CHECK!

Two weeks ago I completed my goal of reading 100 books for 2010.  I happened to finish my last book at work "Breakfast at Tiffanys," by Truman Capote. I was tutoring on set for a new series for  The Family Channel called "What's Up Warthogs," and my two students, Ana Golja and Connor Price had been cheering me on for the seven weeks that I was with them as I quickly went from book 90 to 100.
I truly believe that reading has played a large role in getting me through the turbulence of 2010. I have learned so much through the books I have read and definitely feel stronger and wiser now.  Trust me, it's true that books make you smarter. In June I bought a journal and as I was reading my books, anytime a sentence or paragraph jumped out at me and made me have an "ah ha" moment, I recorded it. It's been very therapeutic and something I will continue to do as I read on. Below is a list of some of my favorite quotes and the books in which they are from:

1. "Time is the school in which we learn"- The Year of Magical Thinking
2. "To finishing big."- Still Alice
3. "Just as in life, the destination was less important than the journey"- Marley and Me
4. "There are years that ask questions and years that answer" Without Reservations
5. "Let tomorrow come tomorrow."- Without Reservations
6. "Time flies,  remember you must live."- Without Reservations
7. "I thought to myself that there were really so many simple ways we could make ourselves look less stupid."- A Complicated Kindness
8. "A half-read book is a half-finished love affair."- Cloud Atlas
9. "You always have the right to be an asshole- you just shouldn't use that right very often"- Sh** My Dad Says
10. "This is why we're here, to fight through the pain and, when possible, to relieve the pain of others."-Open
11. "No matter where you are in life, there is always more journey ahead."- Open
12. "I may not be old, but I'm too old to have this much nothing." -This is Where I leave You
13.  "You choose your level of achievement by choosing your level of expectations."- Age is Just a Number
14. "In my loneliness it comforts me to think that the world's doors, however closed, are never truly locked to me."- The History of Love
15. "Happiness sucks as a spectator sport."- That Old Cape Magic
16. "Only very stupid people are happy."- That Old Cape Magic
17. "A second on the lips, a century on the hips."- Thin is the New Happy
18. "Orthodox, conservative and reform. Or as my father used to say. Crazy, hazy, and lazy."-Camp Nurse.
19. "You only see what you know."-Camp Nurse
20. "If we don't change the direction, we will end up where we are going." 19 Minutes
21. "Maybe bad things happen because it's the only way we can remember what the good is supposed to look like."- 19 Minutes
22. "Something still exists as long as there is someone around to remember it." 19 Minutes
23. "That which you manifest is before you."-The Art of Racing in the Rain
24. "The crazy person talks. The wise person listens."-Zeitoun
25. "You make life out of what you have, not out of what you're missing."- Forgotten Garden
26. "There has to be a pony in this barn full of crap."-Prairie Tale: A Memoir
27. "To leave the world a little better than you found it, that's the best a man can ever do."-Timbukto
28. "It took death to make one feel momentarily alive, truly present, minute to minute."- Birds in Fall
29. "No one ever built a statue of a critic."- One Day
30. "I don't think people really understand the value of happiness until they know what it's like to be in that very, very dark place." -BedWetter

If you are interested in tracking your books, I highly recommend you sign up at
This has been so instrumental in helping me organize my books. If you do join please "friend" me on there. You can find me through my email address:  You will also be able to see my complete book list.
Thanks for all your support and great book recommendations for 2010. Definitely looking forward to doing this again for 2011 and I hope you will also challenge yourself. As I've explained to people, my job and the fact that I have no kids of my own, allow me a lot of time to read, so if 100 books seems overwhelming to you, then try 20 or 50, or whatever is realistic for you to challenge yourselves.  I am still figuring out how to do this as a charity and welcome all suggestions. I'm thinking MS Read-A-thon style, but perhaps with a choose your own chairty factor. I'll get back to you on that one in the new year.  Until then....KEEP ON READING!

Love and Silver Linings

Andrea Dana

Monday, December 6, 2010

One Small Voice Can Teach the World a Song

The greatest thing about working in the film industry is the fabulous and interesting people I get to know. Although meeting Steven Spielberg and Julia Roberts have been two of the highlights of my career, I'm actually referring to the crew I get to work with and not the celebs. For instance, there's Tim, the driver, who can cure any ailment with his selection of fresh juice recipes, or Tamsin (Happy Birthday!), my favorite craft services girl who can whip up the best snacks in no time. Is there a better place to learn hair and make-up tricks than from the gals and guys working hard inside that warm, and coffee stocked, hair and makeup trailer? I could go on and on about the many great people I learn from everyday, but recently I am inspired by my friend and colleague, Julie O'Neill, who has been working hard at raising awareness for one of my favorite causes: animals.  I met Julie while working on various feature films over the years, such as: Mean Girls, Get Rich or Die Tryin'...etc. Months ago after a much needed break from looking at peoples' baby photos and Florida vacation albums on Facebook, I clicked onto Julie's profile and was taken back by the beautiful photos she had posted of the work she has been doing at an animal shelter in India called Animal Aid. My curiosity got the best of me and I contacted Julie to find out about her passion. I am so grateful that she agreed to do an interview with me for my blog because as a true animal lover and recent vegetarian, I'm a firm believer that a little enlightenment can go a long way.
Julie O'Neill has been around dogs her whole life and has always felt comfortable around animals. "My mother was a dog breeder and we usually had a litter or two on the go at all times. I spent more time playing with puppies than I did with other children. As I got older all of my school projects were about animals and those that devoted their lives to saving them." Before even setting foot in India, Julie had been a vegetarian for many years, after the realization in her 20s that she was basically eating meat because everyone else was, "I decided to follow my heart instead of the crowd." Now a decade later after spending time with the cows in India, and coming to the conclusion that they often suffer more than animals that are killed for their flesh, Julie has become a vegan.
Julie's biggest inspiration growing up was Dian Fossey, an American zoologist who undertook an extensive study of gorilla groups in the mountain forests of Rwanda for 18 years before being murdered in 1985.
Julie jumped at the chance to volunteer at Animal Aid four years ago while traveling in India, after discovering their website online. Just as her two week stint was coming to an end, Julie fell and broke her foot while taking photos of a passing parade. Realizing she would not be able to continue her travels through the country until her foot healed, Julie was invited to stay at the home of the founders of Animal Aid, Jim and Erika. "I witnessed first hand the trials and tribulations that come along with devoting your life to saving animals in a country where it is not anyone else's first concern. After a month of living with these wonderful people and spending everyday surrounded by so many sweet angels, I was hooked." When Julie's cast finally came off, she decided to stay put at the animal hospital in the tiny village and before she knew it a year had gone by before she returned home to Toronto. Now Julie goes back and forth from Canada to India approximately every six months. As I have learned from some rough times that I have gone through with my own dogs, animals cherish their lives just as much as humans do, if not more. Julie too has been privy to witnessing many animal miracles. "I have learned in India that animals can recover from incredible things if given the chance. The biggest miracle that I have witnessed is the miracle of love. Most of the animals that come into Animal Aid have never experienced love from a human before. I can not count the number of animals that looked as though they would not survive and after receiving some love from the staff and volunteers at Animal Aid, their conditions completely turn around." Julie also adds that there have been many lost human souls that have staggered into Animal Aid and the reverse can happen. "The same can be said for humans. Animal Aid has received many humans with wounded souls that the love of an animal was able to treat." In the four years Julie has spent going back and forth to Animal Aid, there have been huge changes. One of her biggest goals was to get the Indian staff to be more comfortable with the animals. "Even inside the animal hospital the local staff were frightened to touch or to get too close to even the cutest and weakest puppies. I decided to do all that I could to change this. I promised myself I would stay until I was comfortable leaving the animals in their care. Well that goal was accomplished long ago, but I am just too in love with the animals, the people, and the place to leave for good." Julie sites the most important aspect of Animal Aid's work to be education others. It is true that the most effective way to bring about change is to make other people aware of what is going on and how to help out. "The plight of animal suffering needs to be brought to people's attention before things will change. Although Animal Aid is doing amazing work rescuing hundreds of animals each month, the real goal is not have to rescue any."
Unfortunately, the cost to run a division of Animal Aid out of Toronto, which Julie hopes to do one day, is extremely expensive. First hand, I know from the negative experience I had with Toronto Animal Services after my dogs and I were attacked by a German Shepherd, that they too are extremely understaffed and in need of more funding. It can be very daunting to think about how much more work needs to be done to keep animals safe even in a city like Toronto. However, someone like Julie, who doesn't sit around thinking about what she can do to help, or talking the talk, but actually is paving the way to make change happen is a true inspiration. "Volunteering for Animal Aid has changed my life. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to help animals. I just didn't know how to go about it. Or maybe I just wasn't ready to give up too much of 'my life'. Now that I am involved in helping animals, 'my life' is so much more full and meaningful." 
It is the perfect time of the year to stop and think about others, whether they have two legs or four. I feel so privileged to know someone that is really taking matters into her own hands to help create a better place. "I am not sure what kind of impact my actions have on changing people. I know that animals suffer needlessly everyday because of the choices people make. If spreading awareness about these issues can ease the suffering of animals then I sure am going to try."
If you are interested in learning more and donating to Animal Aid this holiday season, please go to:
It is a very worthy cause. Also if you have further questions for Julie about Animal Aid or are interested in volunteering there, please contact her at:  Remember as Elmo and all of our other furry animal friends from Sesame Street sang "Just one small voice can teach the world a song."

Love and Silver Linings
Andrea Dana