You Can Do It!
The Merit Badge Handbook
for Grown-Up Girls

You Can Do It!

by Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas with Yvette Bozzini

Chronicle Books, 2005. ISBN 0811846350.
Chronicle Books, 2006. ISBN 0811851524.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Moore
Posted on 01/24/2006

Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Active Life

You Can Do It! was an idea Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas had for a year before she died on September 11, 2001, on her way home from her grandmother's funeral aboard United Flight 93. Whether it was learning to cook, garden or scuba dive, Lauren was always trying something new. She is remembered by her friends and family as their personal coach and champion. It is a fine tribute to Lauren's memory that they completed this project on her behalf.

Lauren, a former Girl Scout, structured the book around sixty "badge activities." Mentors for each chapter become a cheerleading team, encouraging women to make our dreams a reality. In order to earn a badge, you need to follow the "badge steps." The badges are full-color stickers created by Toronto illustrator Julia Breckenreid.

The first chapter I turned to in the "Create" section was "Be an Author." I always love to see what other writers have to say about the writing life. In this one, poet and novelist Laurie Henry explains what she does (writes books including The Novelist's Notebook) and why she does it ("it's an engrossing challenge"). For "extra credit," there's some advice on "Getting Published." The chapter touches on every aspect of the writing life, such as what to do when you're not writing (read). Or to keep the momentum going, meet with other writers. Every chapter has an extensive list of resources as suggested by the chapter's mentor.

No dream is too big or too small the author reminds us. So readers can check out firewalking, beading or sewing. Practical advice is included on the subject of money, and inspiration is included for our inner lives through such activities as meditation. Maybe you don't know what it is you need mentoring for. As you browse through the book, you'll remember, "Oh, yes, that's the dream I put on hold." At the end of the book, you are invited to dream up your own badge.

I found the book's design, by Debbie Berne of Herter Studio in San Francisco, attractive as well as practical. An innovative approach to the table of contents, for instance, is a checkerboard in greens, white and black. It's visually appealing and reminds us there are many moves we can make as we dare, create, learn, play, deal, connect and dream—all headings for the sections of the book.

The book made me feel like an excited kid again. But this time my kid has a team of mentors to encourage me. You Can Do It! is an inspiring and encouraging springboard for girls of all ages. Young girls can learn of all the many possibilities, and mid-life women (or beyond mid-life like me) can be affirmed in knowing they still have a chance to learn something new.

The accompanying You Can Do It! Workbook is a place to Dream It, Write It, Do It, and it reminds you to turn your to-do lists upside down. That means your want-to-do's will be on top. The workbook has lots of space, guided exercises, roomy pockets for brochures, an address book for your support network. The inspirational quotes throughout were like the voice of a coach as I made my daily journal entries.

Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas pursued a career in marketing and advertising, had her own consulting company in Northern California and, most recently, served as account executive for Good Housekeeping. As the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States reported, "The nation owes a debt to the passengers of United 93. Their actions saved the lives of countless others and may have saved either the U.S. Capitol or the White House from destruction." Lauren's legacy lives on in the dreams and aspirations of women of all ages. The proceeds from You Can Do It! go to the Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas Foundation to support charitable causes that were of interest to Lauren.

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