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You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls Paperback – April 10, 2005

4.6 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazing things happen when Woman taps her inner Girl Scout. In You Can Do It!, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas and friends present an engaging cast of female "mentors" who share their expertise in activities ranging from money management to firewalking. Fanning the can-do spirit kindled during her own scouting years, Catuzzi goes beyond the badge with this concept; wealthy information and the book's visual charm encourage women to embrace their aspirations and, in turn, to build self esteem. All who completed this commendable handbook following Catuzzi's tragic death deserve applause.
Read our interview
with Vaughn Catuzzi Lohec
& Dara Catuzzi Near

Want to fly airplanes? Break a habit? Learn photography? Grandcolas demystifies 60 popular activities here. Low-key visualization and a biographical page featuring a talented mentor kicks off each chapter. Badge steps follow, conveying all the necessary how-to's. Margins contain revealing anecdotes, plus thumbnail definitions for mastering each skill's language. For example, the wine appreciation chapter offers brief descriptions of common whites and red, tips for ordering in restaurants, a glass guide, and suggestions for creating a wine journal. The final step--stocking your own cellar, in this case--concludes with a hearty "Congratulations!" and tips for venturing "Beyond the Badge." A pageful of resources including books, magazines, web sites, and related organizations completes each chapter. For those who groove on such things, 60 silver-dollar-sized merit badges await earning (okay, they're just really pretty stickers at the book's end). Never motherly nor professorly, You Can Do It! fuses straight talk and wry humor to keep the read enjoyable, and success within reach.--Liane Thomas

Start Exploring You Can Do It! Today
Discover Sample Badges and Related Reference Books Below

Badge # 3 - Roam Where You Want to
This badge helps you "define your dream trip, prepare for takeoff, and wind up with a departure date, itinerary, and perfectly packed bag. Consider St. Augestine's words: 'The world is a book; those who stay home read only one page.' ...Get ready to say bon voyage. You can do it!
Badge #21 - Get down to the Knitty-Gritty
Whether you're a trendsetter hankering for a hand-knit PDA cover or a traditionalist after a tea cozy just like Grandma's, this badge will have you in stitches - and a new scarf - in no time. As your fingers fly, you'll soothe your soul, relax your mind, and satisfy your creative urges. Get ready to get hooked. You can do it!
Badge #27 - Get Well-Read
Being well-read means different things to different people. It usually assumes some depth in a specific subject area or breadth across an "established" list of classics. But there is no right or wrong to any great love affair. The purpose of this badge is to open doors to a lifetime enriched by reading on your own terms, without any literary presumption or prejudice. You can read whatever you like, and as much (or little) as you like, so long as you stay true to the call of what really interests and delights you. You can do it!
Badge #28 - Dine In
Imagine this... When afternoon turns to evening and stomachs start to growl, you invite your friends to stay for supper - and bowl them over with your baked ziti...How did someone who used to find cooking for people intimidating turn into such a gracious gourmet chef? By keeping a panic-proof pantry, learning to rustle up a few reliable dishes, and refining your repertoire. Grab an apron. You can do it!
Badge #29 - Know Your Best Cellars
There's a difference between drinking wine and tasting wine. When you are drinking wine, it blends with the experience to become a poignant memory. When tasting wine, the process of swirling, sniffing, sipping, and spitting is educational. It's fun to buy, order, serve, and savor wine. Learning what you like and a willingness to experiment is all you need to get into wine. Grab a corkscrew. You can do it!
Badge #33 - Hang Ten
Imagine this... You stride purposefully down the beach, board under your arm, sun on your back, smile on your face. When you reach the water, you gracefully throw down your board, ease yourself onto it, and begin paddling into the clear blue of sea and sky. Thoughts of deadlines and duties recede with the shoreline. You have just one thing on your mind: catching a wave and riding it sure and strong. If this is your beach-chair daydream, this badge will get you up, out to sea, and on a board. You can do it!


Grandcolas was an experienced sales and marketing professional embarking on a writing career when she died on United Flight 93 on 9/11; her husband, family, and publisher rallied together to complete her outstanding debut, which encourages middle-aged women to do the things they have always dreamed of doing. The text-patterned after a Girl Scout manual-is made up of seven "badge" categories (e.g., "Dare," "Create," and "Learn") that are further organized into activities such as learning to skydive and care for one's car and building family rituals or breaking bad habits. Each badge takes readers through the task from start to finish and includes excerpts from professionals in that field. A bibliography of books, magazines, and web sites for further information is included. A pure pleasure to browse, this is the perfect gift for those celebrating 40th birthdays and beyond and will enjoy a high circulation among public library patrons. Highly recommended. Library Journal

Not long before 9/11, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas posted a motto on her refrigerator door: "Get busy living or get busy dying." The 38-year-old marketing executive, pregnant with her first child, had recently started work on a book encouraging women to pursue their dreams—no matter how outlandish—even as they struggled with the daily demands of children, marriage and career. Grandcolas came up with a set of "merit badges for grown-ups" and even hung her old Girl Scout sash above her desk as inspiration. Before she could finish, Grandcolas was killed aboard United Flight 93. After her death, Lauren's husband and sisters gathered her notes and met with her agent. This week, Chronicle Books will posthumously release "You Can Do It! The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls." "She truly, truly wanted women to get out there and taste life," says Vaughn Lohec, Lauren's younger sister. "But it's bittersweet that she can't be here to talk about the book herself." Newsweek

Many of the badges are based on adventures from Lauren's own life: taking her husband sky-diving to celebrate her 30th birthday, earning her emergency medical technician credential, learning how to kayak and Rollerblade. Other badges are more practical, such as getting personal finances in order or quitting smoking. "Lauren worried that women got too caught up in their 'To Do' lists instead of their 'Dream to Do' lists," says her husband Jack. "This is her final gift." Book proceeds will be donated to a foundation supporting Lauren's favorite charities. Newsweek

"...it is more than just a life-maintenance manual - the emphasis is very much on breaking through personal boundaries and trying something new." London Times

"You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls, for all Girl Scouts at heart, embodies the spirit of sisterhood." USA Today


Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; Stk edition (April 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811846350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811846356
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Okay, I'm a guy here. And I can't tell you how many times I've spoken the phrase this book takes for a title to my incredibly accomplished sweetheart who, despite her successes, is never quite confident enough to chase down her dreams. "You can do it!" I've been saying for years. "Look what you've already done!" So when I came across this book and saw that it was an intelligent, results-oriented, motivational manual (it's more than just another "self-help book"), I decided to let someone else have a go at her. At first she rolled her eyes and said, "Nice try, honey." (I also got a kiss for being a thoughtful, if overly optimistic, boyfriend). But then a week later she sheepishly came over to me, sat in my lap, and spoke the words, "I got my first badge." Well, let me just say that it'll be a while before I'm in the doghouse again. My thanks to all the inspiring women who contributed to this kick-in-the-pants bible. From now on I get to say, "SHE DID IT!"
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You CAN do the thing you fear! Or the thing you never thought you had time to do. Just use this book as your guide/mentor, and whatever pursuit you've "always wanted to try" becomes possible.

Whatever it is you've been longing to do, you'll probably find it in this big, encouraging book, which breaks down goals into small, easily achievable steps.

Recommended for girls/women of any age who want to finally get on with DOING the things they've been waiting to try.

Reviewer: Linda Painchaud-Steinman, Park Edge Books

Side Note: The author of this book was a victim of September 11. She was on flight 93. The details are in the book's poignant introduction (written by her sisters).
Comment 31 of 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I have given this book as a gift a few times and it is an all-time favorite present! I plan to give it again and again to all my friends. So many of us say "I would love to try (blank)" and this book gives you the guidance and inspiration to actually do it! It also gave me ideas to try things I had not considered before. What great fun!
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This book rocks. Who wouldn't want a copy of a book that basically encourages you and guides you to do all of those things you've been wanting to do, but felt like you couldn't for one reason or another. I was inspired to sign up for a cooking class with some of my co-workers because I felt like I kept making the same old thing over and over again...we took a class on how to make a four course Vietnamese dinner! It was so much fun and so inspiring to actaully check one of those things off of my I-wish-I-could list. And the best part is, there's a seemingly endless amount of options in the book--so many cool things to do and to learn. It's the perfect kind of book to get a bunch of friends together and do something you've always wanted to do, but never thought you would or could!
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Imagine This... There was a woman who was always interested in learning new things. She regularly hiked, biked, kayaked, took classes in cooking, gardening, SCUBA diving, and wine appreciation. According to her friends, she "made things happen." As if that wasn't enough, she decided to write a book that would boost women's self-esteem by helping them reach their own goals and realize their own dreams. A grown-up Girl Scout herself who proudly displayed her badge-laden sashes in her office, she based her book on the concept of learn a new skill, get a badge. I was never a girl scout myself, but as I get older the more I appreciate that concept. I imagine that Lauren Catuzzi Grancolas was the kind of woman who made life fun for the people she knew. She was tragically aboard the doomed Flight 93 on 9/11. Adopting her spirit, her two sisters, one an at-home Mom of three, finished compiling this book in her honor.

You Can Do It is one of those books that is fun to have on your shelf. It is part self-help book and part how-to guide. It presents 60 skills for grown-up girls to master. The badge activites range from life skills like negotiating & financial planning to hobbies like camping and flower arranging to extreme things like flying an airplane or becoming a stand-up comedian. Each skill begins with an "Imagine This..." section that takes you to a time at some point in the future when you have already mastered the skill.

For example, in the Speak Up chapter "Imagine This... Fellow parents nominate you to introduce an important issue to the PTA... Gone are the days when you'd feel sick with anxiety, make excuses, and keep your mouth shut - only to berate yourself later.
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1 Comment 14 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I don't usually write reviews- but since I loved this book so much I felt I had to.

This book helps you to get off your butt and get moving on the things you really want to do. It covers everything- from organizing your closets to walking on fire.

I love the Merit Badge idea. Hey, if stickers work for kids, why not for adults?

This book has already changed my life.

I'm a 33 year old woman who never got her drivers license. Thanks to this book, I finally got moving and got it taken care of. I'm also signed up to take a foreign language class, joined a book discussion group, and started organizing my home.

Buy this book! It's written so you can see how you can actually obtain your goals. You can follow the steps outlined in the book, or do your own.

I've already picked up a couple copies of this book to give as gifts- this is a book that every woman should have.
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