Heads Up!

"My Advice to the  2017 Graduates!"


Sue Stauffer

Heads Up!

"Change Your Attitude and You Can Change Your Life!"

By Sue Stauffer


 It is June and this means it is graduation season. Many college, high-school and middle-school students will be moving on to the next stage of their lives. Some will be sad to say goodbye to their school, classmates and, maybe, even a teacher or professor but others are eager to move on to the next phase of their life.   But whether you are graduating or not, it’s likely that success and happiness are high among your goals.  However, it is important to remember that happiness is not determined by what you have or even what happens to you; it’s a function of how you think about your life.

If I were to give a graduation speech this is what I would share with the graduates:

“I believe that it is important to have goals so that you can have some direction in what you want to achieve.  If you don’t have any goals at this time, borrow the goals from the person next to you or even the suggestions made by your graduation speaker. They’re probably as good as any, and besides, true success isn’t always getting what you think you want but learning to want what you get.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to prepare yourself to deal with unavoidable ups and downs and unexpected twists and turns that are almost certain to scuttle your best-laid plans. No matter what happens, it is most important that you take control of your life by taking control of your attitudes. Remember, pain and disappointment are inevitable, but tough times are temporary.  If you believe in yourself then no negative emotion or circumstance can withstand your will to be happy.  Happiness is always a choice that each person makes not something that just happens…it is always a choice!  If you listen to both your heart and head; pursue your passions with confidence;  don’t confuse feelings with facts, fun with happiness or pleasure with satisfaction; live within your means and don’t sacrifice a million tomorrows for a few todays, you will be guiding your life in a good and sound direction. Be especially careful of choices that can jeopardize your health, reputation, or important relationships. Safeguard your integrity. You never know when you’ll need it. People may not always remember what you may say to them, but they will always remember how you made them feel. 

If you set realistic goals and set out on a steady path to achieve them in an orderly manner, you will be moving toward a successful and happy life.  It is fun to dream big, but reality is what really gives us purpose and helps us to achieve success.  Never forget that confidence, hard work, and dedication to the task at hand are the building blocks for success and achievement. There is nothing that you can’t do if you really set your mind to it but always be mindful of the other people who touch your life as they must be part of your overall plan for happiness and success.  Giving to others is just as important as what you accomplish for yourself so be generous in both thought and deed.  To quote an old phase, “No man is an island!” People may not always remember what you may say to them, but they will always remember how you made them feel.  Life is filled with all kinds of people so learn from them as everyone has some contribution to make to your knowledge and understanding of the world in which you live.  Always be open and receptive as you never stop learning or growing “Finally, don’t settle for a little life. Fill it with purpose and meaning and people worthy of your love and respect.” Seize every day and move forward!

I worked as a counselor for teenagers who were having difficulties with school, family, and peers as well as drugs and alcohol for fifteen years.  My offices were on two high school campuses and with an open door policy, any student could come into my offices and have someone to talk to.  Everything was confidential so the students felt safe sharing openly with me or my staff.  I loved working with young people and I think that my staff and I made a difference in many of their lives.  We taught them new ways to cope with their problems mostly by helping them make necessary adjustments to improve their lives and relationships.  We encouraged them and gave them support while they met the challenges that were facing them mostly from holding bad attitudes and negative thoughts.  I discovered that the key to change attitudes, is to change the underlying driver of attitudes, beliefs about themselves and how the world around them works.  I am convinced that whether the desired change is for more positive behavior or less negative conduct, we have to start by identifying and describing what the desired outcomes are and then convince them to form two critical beliefs:  1) “I can do it” and 2) “It’s worth it.”

The “I can do it” aspect of the formula focuses on creating a new confidence coupled with making extra effort.    If someone really believes that they can accomplish the desired change and reach an established goal, then success is probable, if not inevitable. Without a firm conviction that the goal is achievable, the motivation needed for ongoing effort will be impossible to muster. 

The “It’s worth it” element is the other critical piece of motivation. With our teenagers, we tried to instill the belief that acting out behaviors could be controlled if the student sincerely wanted to make life changes.  This would take confidence as well as self-control as teens are governed largely by the attitudes of their peers as well as impulses.  It involved a process of learning to examine choices and possible consequences resulting from chosen behaviors.  Our best bets were to instill in the students the belief that they have the choice to control negative impulses and peer pressures by trusting in their own intuition and taking charge of each situation.  We always encouraged self-confidence and belief that whatever work it takes to develop self-control and self-responsibility is well worth the effort. This would dramatically improve their lives in all aspects at school, home, and even with peers in most circumstances.   We also supported the “I can do it” conviction by giving examples of others who have done it.   We tried to teach impulse control strategies (like counting to 10 before reacting), and then examined and discussed the results.  When the strategy worked, there was always praise and encouragement. It is the recognition that good things result from having control of yourself and not reacting in a negative way that leads to the development of a better relationships and increased opportunities for a happier outcome and a more fulfilling life overall.

These basic techniques work and they can be employed by employers, teachers, parents and basically anyone who wishes to improve their lives and relationships.  Still, we have to be realistic. Instilling these beliefs and changing entrenched attitudes and habits is not easy. It takes persistent ongoing reinforcement of the basic belief: “You can do it and it’s worth it!”

Heads Up!

By Sue Stauffer

“Mother’s Day Remembrances”

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to make some difference so that you have lived and lived well." Ralph Waldo Emerson

My parents were both very hard working people who made certain that their two daughters knew the value of time and effort.  They were firm believers in “idle hands are the devil’s tools” so we were never really idle.  My family owned department stores as well as a ranch so there was much to do at both sites.  We had chores and I mean real chores… In addition to having lots of chores to keep us busy, we had a variety of projects with which we assisted our parents.  There was limited television, no technology, no computers and not much mobility.  Life in the 40’s and 50’s moved at a snail’s pace compared to the hustle and bustle of today. My family was also very charity minded and helping others was always something that was considered very important.  Since my father was an orphan who was raised by his school teacher, Mrs. King, he had a very big heart when it came to being compassionate.  He enjoyed helping people and always was so thankful to Mrs. King for taking him and his brother into her home,  that he was always trying to find a way to give back and pass on his assistance to others.

We had a large Colonial style home with a very large apartment in our basement.  After the war, my father found refugees needing housing and work and brought them into our home.  The men helped on the ranch, worked in the yard or at the stores and the women helped in the house.  It was an interesting “charity” project and I give my mother lots of credit for supporting it.  Our first refuge was a Belgium gentleman who had escaped from the Nazis in WWII’  All I remember is that his name was Scotty and he worked at the store as a window dresser.  He had smuggled two large diamonds out of his country, sewed into the lining of his clothing. These he sold to my father for his “grubstake.”  My father had them made into beautiful rings for my mother who wore them on both hands.  They were supposed to be the missing earrings from the Empress Eugenie for Russia.

 After Scotty, came the Ito’s, a wonderful Japanese couple who lived with us for about a year before leaving to make a new life on their own.  I learned to love Japanese food from Mrs. Ito’s wonderful cooking as she expanded my culinary appreciation to include all kinds of vegetables, rice dishes and especially fish.  The next basement residents were the Hungarians, Elizabeth and Carlos with their daughter Julie.  I remember them best because I was older and loved “hanging out” with Elizabeth in the kitchen.  She was a marvelous cook and I loved her Chicken Paprika, stuffed cabbage rolls and her delicious marble cake.  Carlos was a great gardener and also enjoyed working with the horses so the stable was in top shape. Later they moved across town but always stayed in touch with our family. 

All I can say as I look back on my childhood, is that my parents set a very strong example for us to follow as far as living a purposeful life is concerned.  I have tried to do the same thing and follow in their footsteps.  As a teacher and then as a school counselor, I had many opportunities to help students, and families who were having troubles with drugs, alcohol and acting out behaviors through my Outreach Program which ran for 15 years on two high school campus’.  It was a very satisfying job and I know that the program helped many students in many different ways through the difficult teenage years that always seem to stress families. Now I am in the process of watching my children and grandchildren find their own ways of making differences in people’s lives.  Everyone must find how to be useful, compassionate and honorable in their own unique way. When they do, happiness is guaranteed to follow as feeling good about your accomplishments is the true key. I encourage them to take pride in all they do, be respectful to everyone, be kind and caring, and whenever possible help others feel self -confident. Make someone happy and it will make you happy as well. “People may not remember what you said to them but they will always remember how you made them feel!” 




Heads Up!

By Sue Stauffer

“Understanding the Criminal Mind-

An Evening With Jana Monroe"

Heads Up!

By Sue Stauffer

 “How I See America on this 4th of July?”


On Tuesday evening, July 25th, members and guests were given the opportunity to learn about the different techniques and scientific investigations that are conducted by FBI profilers.  Jana Monroe, who has been an FBI profiler, was the guest speaker for the Pasadena Rose Republican group, held her audience spell bound with her stories and experiences working as one of the investigators with the Criminal Psychological Analysis Unit.  Jana was the first female profiler for the FBI of the original twelve and consulted on over 850 homicide cases.  She was the profiler selected to serve as the advisor to Actress Jodi Foster for the Oscar Winning film, Silence of the Lambs. 

In this terrifying film, Foster plays the part of Clarice Starling, the trainee profiler who investigates the serial killer, Hannibal Lector, a former psychiatrist who is imprisoned in maximum security isolation for his crimes as a serial killer. Lector is unique for having cannibalized his victims. Starling’s assignment is to pick Lecter's brains to help the FBI solve another series of murders of five recently killed women.   All these victims were young women who are slightly overweight especially around the hips, all who were drowned in natural bodies of water, and all who were stripped of large swaths of skin. In the film, Starling must match wits with Lecter - who has the darkest of all minds - and trust him to give her clues in the search for "Buffalo Bill", a nickname for the loose, unknown, unstoppable psychopathic serial killer. 

 Monroe informed us that the character of Hannibal Lector was a composite of six of the most notorious serial killers that she had profiled:

Serial killer, Jerry Brudos, aka “The Lust Killer” born 1939 in South Dakota, bludgeoned and strangled four young women between 1968 and 1969. He not only killed the girls but acquired trophies from his victims including amputated breasts and a foot.

 Serial killer, Ed Gein, born 1906 in Wisconsin, was a religious fanatic obsessively devoted to his mother.  After her death, Gein became increasingly deranged, robbing graves, practicing necrophilia with corpses, taking body parts for trophies and experimenting with human taxidermy. In 1957, Gein’s twisted mind turned to killing and he murdered at least two women.

 Serial killer, Ted Bundy, born in 1946 in Vermont, was one of the most notorious criminals of the late 20th Century.  Bundy raped and murdered young women and is believed to be connected to 36 murders and is thought to have committed over 100 across several states in the 1970’s.  He reportedly spend hours committing sexual acts on the bodies of his dead victims, decapitating some of them and keeping the severed heads as trophies.

 Serial killer, Gary Ridgway, aka “The Green River Killer,” born 1949 in Salt Lake City, murdered

run-aways and prostitutes that he picked up along Route 66. He murdered at least 49 women in Washington State before a DNA test revealed him as the killer.  He was caught in 2001.

 Serial killer, Edmund Kemper, born in 1948 in Burbank, California, killed both his grandparents at age 15 to “see what it felt like.” Later he killed six young college-age women in Santa Cruz area in the 1970’s.  He reportedly stabbed and strangled the girls before engaging in sexual activity with the corpses.  In 1973, he killed his mother and her friend and then turned himself in.

 Serial killer, Gary M. Heidnik, born in 1943 in Cleveland, Ohio, kidnapped, tortured and raped six women in Philadelphia.  He had been convicted of abuse and rape earlier in his life but abducted 5 women and held them captive in his basement in 1986.  When one of the victims died of starvation, torture and sickness, Heidnik disemboweled her and mixed her flesh with dog food and fed it to the other captives. In July, 1999, he was sentenced to death and executed.

 Jana Monroe was one of the profilers who worked on all of the above cases investigating the intricacies of their criminal minds and hoping through increased understanding, the FBI would be more successful in preventing serial killings or in catching and bringing them to justice.  Her 22 year career culminated with Jana pioneering as one of few women in the FBI leadership ranks.  She served as Special Agent in Charge (SAC) in Phoenix, Arizona and Los Angeles, California; two of the largest field offices in the U.S.; and was the first Assistant Director of the FBI Cyber Division, based in Washington D.C.
Monroe joined Herbalife from the multi-billion dollar electric utility company, Southern California Edison Company (SCE) where she was the Chief Security Officer charged with transforming security services for SCE, a major part of the key national infrastructure.

Monroe is currently Vice President of Global Security for Herbalife.  She is responsible for all security functions throughout the company: Executive protection; Physical and Cybersecurity; Employees, Facility, and Property Security; Investigations; Safety; Business Continuity and Crisis Response.

 After her presentation, Monroe fielded questions from the audience about her various experiences.  It was a very interesting evening and everyone left with increased knowledge about the serious need for better mental health treatment for identified deviant behaviors.  Early identification and treatment will hopefully lead to increased prevention of psychopathic killers terrorizing the population with despicable acts of murder.


I see America when I see our flag flying proudly on buildings, houses, from car antennas, and bicycles’ handlebars.

I see America in our supermarkets, tall office buildings, concert halls, movie theater complexes, shopping malls, major hospital and sports arenas.

I see America in our freeways, in all our cities, on our farms, in our towns and neighborhoods.

I see America in our educational system with clean classrooms, good teachers, and excellent academic achievements from nursery schools to universities.

I see America in the wonderful Norman Rockwell paintings of our citizens, in John Wayne movies and in our glorious history.

I see America whenever I see people attending church, having a picnic on the 4th of July, enjoying an outdoor concert, riding horseback, visiting a museum, going to the zoo, dressed up in Halloween costumes, saying a blessing on Thanksgiving, and drinking morning coffee at a sidewalk cafe.

I see America when I think of our children playing Little League baseball dressed in their uniforms just like the stars on trading cards or playing soccer, chasing each other, kicking the ball and missing and running until they are exhausted.

I see America at Friday night high school football games or the Saturday afternoon college gridiron; cheering at basketball games, soccer matches or tennis tournaments.

I see America at garage sales, real estate open houses, city council meetings, neighborhood block parties, political campaigns, pep rallies, and charity fund raising events.

I see America at Taco Tuesdays, the drive-thru at Macdonald’s, buying sandwiches at Subway, visiting Pizza parlors, or having breakfast with friends at Magpie’s.

I see America in the morning walkers or joggers striding out for exercise or riding bicycles around the Rose Bowl stadium.

I see America in the many races and creeds of our people working together in every kind of employment.

I see America in our many volunteer organizations, charities, museums and historical societies.

I see America in our Miss America pageants, our awards to the entertainment industry, and the excitement of our national championship games.

I see America in our magnificent mountains, crystal lakes, abundant plains, raging rivers, sandy shores, and roaring ocean waves.

I see America in the faces of our people of all ages, cultures and creeds.

I see America every  time I hear the national anthem or sing “God Bless America” with tears in my eyes.

I see America in everything we know and love and don’t stop to really appreciate!

We take it all for granted, but can’t take it for granted anymore!  These are all the things we have and enjoy because they were fought for from the very beginning.  We must always continue to fight for them! Protect our rights and support our constitution! Celebrate the 4th of July but appreciate the meaning of this event!

All my babies are now gone.  I can’t believe it! Where did the years go?  It seems like yesterday my daughters were young children playing with friends, taking riding lessons, ballet classes, piano lessons, worrying about school and growing up to adulthood.   I have great satisfaction in my two daughters as mothers who have given me four wonderful grandchildren. My grandchildren are really adults now. (In fact all are taller than I am so I guess I am now the shortest member of my immediate family.  That is something I never thought would happen as I always saw myself as “taller than average.) I guess as this Mother’s Day comes around, I am the mother and grandmother of people who read the same books as I do, have opinions that differ from mine, sometimes tell stories that make we wonder where I was or what I was thinking on an occasion and tell jokes that make me laugh until tears run down my cheeks.  I no longer have children or grandchildren who need help dressing, feeding themselves, or need transportation to and from activities and school.  They are all independent as they should be.   Today, the well -worn books I read to my children and then my grandchildren: “Goodnight Moon” and “Where the Wild Things Are” still sit on the book shelf in the bedroom but rest unopened. I suspect if I opened their dusty pages, memories would rise from the dust as reminders of special times together for both generations.

Raising children and grandchildren is truly a multiple choice exercise.  Now all the parenting books that I once pondered are no longer necessary. The articles on sibling rivalry; sleeping through the night; early childhood education; and potty training are all past history but I still say “thank you” Dr. Spock for helping me through some of the stages and fazes of child rearing days.  As a parent you learn advice from magazines, books, other mother-s and grandmothers and well-meaning relatives but you finally realize that parenting is really an operation of trial and error.  No one really know the answers but everyone has an opinion or a solution.  One child responds to positive reinforcement while the other can be managed only with a stern voice and frequent “time outs” to get his attention. Eventually as a mother you have to learn to trust yourself and follow your instincts and good judgment. Every part of raising children is humbling and that goes for grandchildren too.  When my grandkids came along, I had forgotten much of what having babies or toddlers was about.  It was almost a completely new experience as many things had changed in the years between my babies and my grandbabies.  The temper tantrums, the sibling battles, the messes, the talking back, and the demanding of time and attention where all back again but disguised and altered my ability to cope much better in the role of grandmother. My patience had improved and I was no longer the primary caretaker.  Childhood survival is over and everyone has graduated to adulthood with no tell-tale signs of parental inflicted damage as we all move into new roles. My daughters are “empty nesters”; my grandchildren are “young single adults” hopefully searching for mates to move into the next phase of their lives and I am a “senior citizen” with a grown family awaiting my next challenge of “great grandmother” if I am so fortunate.


Heads Up!

“Finding Your Purpose in Life”  

By Sue Stauffer