Friday, October 24, 2014

Be open to Big Vision photobombs

While visiting New Mexico this summer, I raised my phone to take a photo of some pink flowers against a blue sky when this happened:

This hummingbird flew right into my frame and posed for a long time (at least by hummingbird standards). It was a magical moment, especially because hummingbirds have always been an "auspicious symbol" for me.

Sometimes when we're working on our big vision: noticing what sparkles, letting go of old visions to be open to the new, and running towards what excites us, something unexpected shows up right in front of our face. It might even be more wonderful than the vision we imagined. Why not focus on it, before it flies away?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Don't be shy. Run towards your big vision.

As I was walking to work one day this week, I saw this cute Corgi (pictured above) on the street. At first he was shy. He watched me with half of his face hidden behind the wall. But as I walked closer, his excitement overwhelmed him. He ran out of hiding to say hello and invited me to pet him (so soft!).

Sometimes that's how we are with our Big Visions. Shy at first. Testing the waters. Not wanting to make a commitment. But here's the important part. The excitement. When we get SO excited about something that we just HAVE to do it, or learn more about it, or share it with others, we need to let go and run towards it.

When you feel pulled towards something that makes you go "Oooooooh!" Move towards it. Get closer. See what it's all about. For example, I often take photos on my walks to and from work.

A color will catch my eye and compel me to take out my phone and look closer.

 Sometimes I decide that it doesn't look as great as I thought it would, and I keep walking.

Other times, halfway through editing it on Instagram, I'll decide that the image or moment isn't drawing me in anymore. I discard the edits and delete the photo.

But a lot of the time, if I stop to photograph something I feel inexplicably drawn to, the photo turns out even more beautifully than I could have imagined. And that makes me happy. Very happy.

Big Vision experiment: Move towards what excites you, attracts you, or draws you in this week.

All photos by me.

Friday, October 10, 2014

When your big vision dies . . .

A tree grows a tree
"The Death of a tree is the birth of a log or a snag [a standing dead or dying tree]. Dead trees are essential to the health of the forest and they are the basis of its astonishing productivity. Fallen trees are a substantial reservoir of organic matter and water that other plants and trees depend on. . .
As a tree slowly decays, it becomes a nursery for plants. It may take 400 years or longer to become incorporated into the forest floor. During this time, a variety of shrubs and trees have the opportunity to develop part or all of their root systems within the decaying wood."

- California State Parks guide for the Founders' Grove in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
A couple weeks ago, I went on vacation along The North Coast or "Redwood Coast" of California. The hubs and I spent a lot of time hiking, and did some camping among the giant redwood trees. It was wonderful.

Fire-scarred tree
I was particularly struck by how intertwined death and life are in the forest (Did you know that the greatest accumulation of biomass [living and dead organic material] ever recorded on earth is in Humboldt Redwoods State Park?).

I knew in theory that when things died they provided nutrients for living things. "Cycle of life," "when one door closes, another opens," and all that, but there was something about seeing so many fallen and standing dead trees, and the life that grew out of them that amazed me.

Tree with a hole in it
There were also a lot of fire-scarred trees, and trees with crazy holes through them. The forest wasn't just filled with natural beauty, it was also filled with destruction, natural and man-made (96 percent of the original old-growth coast redwoods have been logged).

Sometimes when we are pursuing our Big Vision, things die (goals, habits, identities, ways of being, jobs, where we live, relationships). The destruction can happen by our hand, or by others', deliberately, or against our will. Reality is, death, destruction and challenges will happen. On the up side, the growth of new things and "nutrients" for existing things can come out of those deaths.

One of the things that helps redwoods survive strong winds and floods is to intertwine roots with other redwoods, so when a storm rolls into your Big Vision, or your life in general, find someone to intertwine your roots with and hold on!

All photos by me and the hubs.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Looking for Your Big Vision? Notice What "Sparkles"

Rain "sparkles" by me

A friend who is between jobs recently asked me, "Is there one piece of advice you would give to a creative person when they are looking for their next job, or project?"

I responded, "Notice what 'sparkles' for you."

I think of "sparkles" as things that make you smile, makes time fly, or that you all of a sudden become very curious about (even if you don't understand why).

If you are a "creative" type, you already know that most creative projects don't usually happen in a straight line: A to Z. They often begin with something small: a craving for an ingredient, a phrase you can't stop thinking about, an attraction to a color, or a problem that piques your interest. My experience has been that if you follow that sparkle, and the next one and the next one, they will take you on a curvy route to your next big vision.

If you're in the middle of a transition and trying to figure out what to do next, follow you sparkles, even if they don't make logical sense. They will light the way.

Try this:

Over the next three days, notice what "sparkles" for you:

  • What brings you joy?
  • What are you attracted to?
  • What are you curious about?

Capture your "sparkles" in your journal, in a conversation with a friend, or with photos.

  • Are there any themes that run through all of your sparkles?
  • How can you bring more of what sparkles into your life?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Big Vision Tip: Stay on Track. Text Your Big Vision Buddy

About a year and a half ago my friend Heather and I decided to try the Oprah and Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience. To make sure we completed it, we texted each other right after we meditated. There were many mornings when I would "forget" to meditate (isn't it funny how our minds do that when we're resisting something?), and her text would prompt me to do it.

It worked so well that even when the 21 days were over, we continued to text each other after we meditated. A year and half later, our meditation practices certainly aren't perfect, but they're so much a part of our lives that we no longer text about it. We've moved on to new projects!

Heather is working on finishing her book, and I'm trying to get back into the swing of regular blogging, so now we text each when we're going to write, and when we finish. Once again, it's working! I'm posting here for the first time in almost two months.

It's such a simple process, but one that has made a huge difference in our lives.

Below are a few tips for texting with your Big Vision Buddy:

    • Pick a Big Vision Buddy who is also working on a project, or habit. It's more fun for the support to be two-way, rather than one-way. 
    • Also, your Buddy should be someone who you aren't competitive with, or who isn't emotionally invested in the completion of your goal, or project.
    • Nudge don't judge. If your Buddy hasn't texted you in a while, gently ask them how things are going, and how you can support their getting back on track.

    Big Vision to-dos for you:

    • Pick a project, or habit you would like to work on this week, this month, or this fall.
    • Ask someone to be your Big Vision Buddy.
    • Start texting!

    Speaking of which, I'm going to go text Heather now!

    Photo of Heater by In Her Image Photography

    Saturday, July 26, 2014

    Bye-Bye Big Vision Podcast: 70+ Interviews Over 7 Years with Social Changemakers

    East Bay Express, Best of the East Bay 2007

    Today is my day for letting go of things to make space for something new.

    I just told my VegCookbook Club that I'm stepping down as its organizer, and now I'm letting go of the Big Vision Podcast. It has been REALLY hard to let this go, but after not posting an interview for a year, I know that it is time.

    I started the Big Vision Podcast in 2006 about six months after starting Have Fun, Do Good. When I told my husband that I wanted to interview social changemakers for my blog, he suggested that I start a podcast. He had the audio equipment to help me with the recording and iTunes had recently added support for podcasts.

    And so began seven years of talking to some pretty amazing Big Visionaries. What an incredible experience.  Every single one of these people inspired me in some way, and I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time with them.

    I'm not sure how much longer I'll pay for the podcast's hosting, so if you've been meaning to go back and download any of the old interviews, now is the time. You can listen on iTunes and on the podcast's home page. I'll also embed a podcast player on the bottom of this post. If you click on Menu, you should be able to access all the shows from there as well.

    I've listed the interviewees by year below. I didn't put their organizations or titles because many people's jobs have changed. Sadly, one of the Big Visionaries I interviewed, Priya Haji, passed away recently.

    I want to thank all of you who have been listeners over the years, and of course thank all of the people I interviewed for making the time to talk with me about their big vision.

    Lisa Truong


    • Tara Mohr
    • Marianne Elliott
    • Kristen Zimmerman
    • Lisa Truong
    • Akaya Windwood

    Will Allen

    • Beth Terry
    • Will Allen
    • Deanna Zandt
    • Stacey Edgar

    Kathy LeMay

    • Ben Mangan
    • Sara Potler
    • Carinne Brody
    • Halle Butvin
    • Naomi Natale
    • Kathy LeMay
    • Samin Nosrat
    • Rachel Cohen
    • Aneesha Raghunathan
    • Robert Wolfe
    • Gabriela Masala
    Jensine Larsen

    • Secret Agent L (Laura Miller)
    • Jensine Larsen
    • Marsha Wallace
    • Temra Costa
    • Jessica Prentice
    • Tom Aageson
    • Anna Lappe
    • Melinda Kramer and Amira Diamond
    • Ashley Rowe and Carol Webb
    • Rebecca Kousky
    Zainab Salbi

    • Patricia Loya
    • Kimberly Wilson
    • Lisa Witter
    • Jose Corona
    • David Cohn
    • Kjerstin Erickson
    • Zainab Salbi
    • Seane Corn
    • Bryant Terry
    • Jennifer Lee
    Cristi Hegranes

    • Favianna Rodriguez
    • Marianne Manilove
    • Cami Walker
    • Marisa Handler
    • Martin Fisher
    • Ari Derfel
    • Janessa Goldbeck
    • Anisha Desai
    • Kavita Ramdas
    • Cristi Hegranes
    • Christina Arnold

    Solutionary Women Panel

    • Andre Carothers
    • Paola Gianturco
    • Shalini Kantayya
    • Marsha Wallace
    • Elizabeth Pomada
    • Chris Messina and Ivan Storck
    • Solutionary Women panel I organized for the Stanford Women's Leadership Conference: Alli Chagi-Starr, Ilyse Hogue, Melinda Kramer and Reem Rahim
    • Van Jones
    • Paul Rice
    • Priya Haji
    • Jodi Van Horn
    • Reem Rahim
    Anna Lappe

    • Kevin Danaher
    • Melinda Kramer
    • Ingrid Severson
    • Jessica Jackley
    • Jonah Sachs
    • Lisa Russ
    • Nola Brantley
    • Anna Lappe
    • Steve Williams
    • Ilyse Hogue
    • Abby Jaramillo (Rosenheck)
    • Mei-ying Williams (Ho)
    • Brahm Ahmadi
    • Ari Derfel and Eric Fenster
    • Alli Chagi-Starr

      Saturday, June 07, 2014

      Color = happiness

      A few years ago, I had a vivid dream that I went into a dark therapist's office to meet with my client, Cameron Diaz. She wanted to know the secret to happiness, so I told her:

      • Cook
      • Connect 
      • Care
      • Color

      I've heard that all of the characters in your dreams are aspects of yourself, so I've thought a lot over the years about my advice to the "Cameron Diaz" aspect of myself.

      Cooking, connecting and caring made sense, but I didn't fully understand the color part until last week when I joined Andrea Sher's e-course: Collecting Color: 30 Days of Photo Joy. I'm having so much fun!

      Each day, for thirty days, she sends out a photo prompt (e.g. take a photo of a flower, color at your feet, a splash of red). I take 1-5 photos based on the prompt, and upload them to the course's Flickr group. It's self-paced, so I can do as little, or as much as I want, whenever I want.


      Walking around each day on a "treasure hunt" for color has helped me to see beauty in the everyday. I took all of the photos in this post walking on the not always pretty streets of Oakland. When I look at them, I feel like I live in a magical land full of luscious flowers, yellow brick roads, and luminous symbols.

      Last week, I wrote about the healing powers of different things. I think color should be added to the list. Turns out there is actually something called color therapy or chromotheraphy. Who knew? (OK, probably a lot of people knew, but not me).

      I now understand what my dream was trying to tell me. Color matters: in my home, my clothes, my food, my environment. Everything. It is one of the keys to happiness.

      How can you add more color into your life this week?


      P.S. I think registration for Collecting Color is still open, if you wanna join me!

      Saturday, May 31, 2014

      The healing power of . . .

      I woke up this morning feeling kinda poopy. It was one of those mornings when I felt like a "broken" person. When I feel like that, I sometimes wonder if it is all me, or if I am also feeling the pain and sadness everyone is feeling (I'm a bit of an emotional sponge).

      I began thinking about what heals, what helps us feel more whole, and how there are a lot of things we say have "healing power":

      • Healing power of nature
      • Healing power of listening
      • Healing power of art
      • Healing power of hugs
      • Healing power of laughter
      • Healing power of tears
      • Healing power of animals
      • Healing power of children
      • Healing power of eating together
      • Healing power of food
      • Healing power of water
      • Healing power of sleep
      • Healing power of compassion
      • Healing power of friendship
      • Healing power of connection
      • Healing power of community 
      • Healing power of telling your story
      • Healing power of music
      • Healing power of silence
      • Healing power of medicine 
      • Healing power of movement
      • Healing power of prayer
      • Healing power of creating
      • Healing power of letting go
      • Healing power of love

      Most of the things on the list usually refer to healing for an individual, or a small group, but I wonder if they work on a national, or global level. Can laughter heal injustice? Can eating together heal environmental destruction? Can music heal crime?

      What I see on that list is a lot of basic human needs, activities and qualities. No single one of them is more "healing" than another.  Together, they form a quilt of things, and ways of being that help us feel whole.

      So, if you wake up feeling poopy, try one of these healing powers (that's why I'm writing this blog post!), and if you are struggling with something that is "broken" on a community, systemic, or global level, why not try some of the healing powers as part of the solution? I have a feeling they'll help.

      Photo by me with my iPhone (how cool is it to see the bee up close?!)

      Sunday, February 23, 2014

      Feeling Between Seasons

      Is it spring yet?
      It is warm and lovely outside today, and I'm feeling between seasons. It's technically winter, the time of the year when we're supposed to stay inside and embrace the quiet and the darkness, but it's also spring-like (at least in California), which is inspiring a desire to bloom.

      Very confusing weather that is reflective of the transition time I'm in.

      In January, I joined the staff of Rockwood Leadership Institute as the Senior Communications Manager (yay!), which has been awesome, and a big change after working for myself for about eight years. Over the past couple months, I've been learning the ins-and-outs of my new job, and getting accustomed to working in an office (no more working in my PJs with the cat on my feet!). Simultaneously, I've been trying to figure out what to do with the business, blogs, podcast and other social media channels I created while self-employed.

      One of the wonderful things about working for Rockwood is that they have a four-day workweek (how cool is that, right?), so there is a possibility that I can keep some of the things I created, but definitely not all of them. In fact, not many of them. Maybe one, or two.  So, what should they be?

      My springtime urges make me want to know how to do my new job perfectly, and have the decisions made about my old work life sorted out and settled, but the part of me that knows it is still wintertime says, "Slow down there, pardner. It's not time to sprout yet."

      Like our kitty on her new perch, I need to keep an eye out for the sunshine of spring, and know that it's coming, but stay "inside" during this transition process, until the winter's work is done.

      How are you feeling during this late wintertime season? Is there anything you're trying to make bloom before it's ready?

      Monday, January 20, 2014

      Are you giving to what you really want to change in the world?

      "Everyone is a philanthropist whether you're giving five dollars, or fifty thousand dollars. What sets this apart as philanthropy is, are you giving in a way that really affects your passions, your interests, what you really want to change in the world. . . . Are you giving mindfully? That to me is really the mark of thinking about this as a philanthropist." ~ Lauren Brownstein on the Tranquility du Jour podcast.

      While listening to Kimberly Wilson's Tranquility du Jour podcast interview with fundraising and philanthropic consultant, Lauren Brownstein on Saturday, the quote above really resonated with me.  When it comes to giving donations, I don't think I've ever really thought about it that way: am I giving to what I really want to change in the world?

      I use that framework when choosing where to volunteer, but not necessarily when I make a donation.  Maybe that's because I usually donate to a cause because 1. someone I know asked me to give, 2. a crisis happens (e.g. earthquake, tsunami, fire), or 3. I like the org because I'm connected with them in some way either through a friend, work, or volunteering.

      Over the last few years, I cut back on my donations because I felt like they were all over the place and not making much of an impact (especially when I give my little donation to an organization and I feel like they spend it by sending me pounds of direct mail).

      This year, I would like to be more mindful with my philanthropic giving, even if it isn't a huge amount. Each year, Lauren picks three causes that are a priority for her, and gives money and time to them.  She offered a handful of questions during the podcast to help determine personal giving priorities:

      • What brings me joy? What really excites me? What inspires me?
      • What makes me sad?
      • Is there a way that I've needed help that someone, or an organization reached out to me?
      • Are there things that my family gave to when I was growing up?
      • Is there is someone I want to honor?
      • Do I want to pool my money with someone else and/or put together resources with a group of friends to have a bigger impact?

      Some of my answers to her questions would be:

      • What brings me joy? What really excited me? What inspires me?
        Cooking. Making things. Writing. Social innovation.

      • What makes me sad?
        The state of our public school system. Lack of arts in the schools.

      • Is there a way that I've needed help that someone, or an organization reached out to me?
        Having arts and great theater and writing teachers in school changed my life.

      • Are there things that my family gave to when I was growing up?
        Groups working on poverty and homelessness issues.

      • Is there is someone I want to honor?
        Not at this time.

      • Do I want to pool my money with someone else and/or put together resources with a group of friends to have a bigger impact?
        I would actually. I've always been interested in giving circles.

      Looking at my answers, I would say that the three causes to prioritize my giving to in 2014 would be  public education, arts in the schools and social innovation.

      How do you prioritize how you give your time and money?

      Do you feel like you're giving to what you really want to change in the world?

      Flickr photo credit: Colored pencils by Alan Cleaver.

      Wednesday, December 18, 2013

      Both Are True

      As we head into the darkest day of the year I'm trying to remember that so often, "both are true."

      • This is a time of year for rest and solitude and of celebration and company.
      • The holidays are a time of fun and of sadness.
      •  It is OK to feel gratitude and grief.
      • There are a lot of good and bad things going on in the world right now.
      • Person/corporation/political party x is harmful and helpful.
      • Others do and don't need my help. 
      • I help others for selfish and unselfish reasons.
      • I am perfect and imperfect just how I am.

      As someone who tends towards a right/wrong, black/white, good/bad way of looking at the world, I think practicing "both are true" will give me comfort in difficult situations, and perspective in joyful ones.

      Is there a "both are true" situation, or belief you want to hold for yourself during this holiday season, or in the New Year?

      Hat tip to Adrienne Torf for helping me to really understand this idea.

      Sunday, December 08, 2013

      What I've been learning, cooking, reading, teaching and making

      Hello Have Fun * Do Gooders!

      I've missed you. The last seven weeks (since I last posted) have been a whirlwind. I love Marianne's Elliott's e-news where she shares what she's been "learning, reading, writing and listening to," so I'm doing my own version.


      After working as a communications consultant since May for Rockwood Leadership Institute, I finally had the opportunity to participate in their signature personal leadership development training, The Art of Leadership.

      Myself and 28 other social changemakers spent five days at the Earthrise Retreat Center learning how to use Rockwood's six practices (Purpose, Vision, Partnership, Performance, Resilience and Personal Ecology) to be more effective leaders for social change.

      It was a deep and profound experience. I learned a lot about my strengths and challenges as a leader, and gained a bevy of tools to help me be a better one.

      Although I will use what I learned about myself and the tools for a lifetime, the most powerful experience was watching the evolution of trust and love in my group of 29 incredibly diverse people (e.g. issue, gender, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, background). As a Rockwood alum I recently interviewed put it, "It could be blueprint for something bigger." It was quite an amazing experience.


      In November, the VegCookbook Club (my other blog) cooked from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new vegan cookbook, Isa Does It. 

      I made the:

      • Carrot Cake Pancakes
      • Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Lentils
      • Lentil-a-roni
      • Lentil-Quinoa Stew with Kale
      • Omaha Yakisoba
      • Puffy Pillow Pancakes
      • Sunflower Mac
      • and the Roasted Yellow Beet Salad with Warm Maple-Mustard Dressing
      I wish I'd had time to try more recipes, but I'm really struggling with finding the time and energy to cook now that I'm working outside of my home a few days a week.

      Four years ago I wrote a post, 5 Tips for Finding Time to Cook, but I'm realizing now that it was written from the experience of someone who works from home and has a much more flexible schedule than I do now. I don't know how in the world people who work full-time outside of their home do it.  I would love your tips and advice about how to find time to cook.

      On a related note, an interview with me about the VegCookbook Club was featured in Viva Vegan last month.


      I've been too tired lately to read any heavy nonfiction, and in general, I usually don't enjoy adult fiction, so I've been reading children's books, and loving it. I read The Summer of May by Cecilia Galante, and The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles. I really liked The Summer of May, so now I'm reading The Patron Saint of Butterflies, also by Galante.

      If you're a fan of children's lit, I'd love to hear your suggestions. Some of my favorites (all old) are Harriet the Spy, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, My Side of the Mountain, and A Wrinkle in Time.


      On Friday, I taught a fun Social Media for Coaches unit as part of a "Building a Successful Coaching Practice: Nuts, Bolts and Social Media" course in San Francisco State's College of Extended Learning's Core Strengths Coaching Skills Program. Super fun.

      While researching different examples of how coaches are using social media, I came upon Heather Plett's 12-point social media manifesto.

      At the beginning of her post, Plett writes, I’ve been giving some thought to what kind of presence I want to have online, and I realize it’s not much different from the presence I want to have everywhere I go.

      A number of the students in yesterday's class were hesitant to use social media to promote their coaching practice. They wondered if social media was a space where they could bring their authentic, non-flashy, non-shiny, non-polished, non-branded selves. It was wonderful to be able to share Plett's manifesto which includes declarations like: I will share my messes from time to time to remind myself and my friends that I am human and beautifully flawed.


      I've been trying to take time lately to make stuff for no particular purpose except for the joy of it. I've been doing a little collaging and embroidery. When I was a teenager, I used to do a lot of embroidery. I find it soothing, meditative and satisfying.

      In early October I bought a pre-printed embroidery sampler (left) that says, "Love What You Love. Make What you Make." Seemed like an appropriate reminder for me ( :

      That's it for me.  

      What's new with you?

      Thursday, October 24, 2013

      Writing as a Spiritual Practice with Pat Schneider

      "The thing that I have learned through my own practice, and writing this book, is that the dragon is there guarding it for me." ~ Pat Schneider

      As some of you know, in addition to the Big Vision Podcast, I also produce the Arts and Healing Podcast for the Arts and Healing Network. This month, I posted an interview with Pat Schneider, the author of How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice.

      If I was Oprah, I would make this book my book club pick. It is not only one of the best books on writing I've read in a long time, it's one of the best books I've read in a long time, period. It inspired me to explore why I "do good" here on Have Fun, Do Good.

      You can listen to the interview on the Arts and Healing Network's website, or on the player at the bottom of this post, and you can learn more about Pat's work on

      Wednesday, October 09, 2013

      Why I Do Good: Starry Night

      I'm exploring the roots of my desire/need/compulsion to "do good." I don't usually share personal stories here on Have Fun, Do Good, and I'm not sure where this is going, but I'm giving it a whirl. Here's the link to my first post, Why Do You Do Good? and my second post, Why I Do Good: The Center and Agape.

      I was raised to serve.

      In addition to being very involved with our church community, my parents' professional work was service-oriented. My mom had a variety of teaching and counseling positions while my dad worked mostly for nonprofits. Outside of his paid work, my dad organized CROP walks in our community, co-founded Martin House, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and Witness for Peace, and visited elderly people at the local convalescent home who didn't receive much company.

      Being a dutiful only child, when I went to college, I unconsciously followed a service-oriented path. I studied sociology, did a summer internship for the National Coalition for the Homeless, studied in Sweden for a semester (so that I could understand how their public policy worked), co-chaired Vassar's Hunger Action chapter, and wrote a couple pieces about social-changey things for the student newspapers.

      Even though I was studying and doing things related to social justice, I ended up writing my senior thesis about the holistic health movement as a social movement, and my most transformative moment came from reading in the library one night about the Atman, or "world soul" in The Upanishads for a History of Religion class.

      As I walked back to my dorm across the dark quad from the library, I remember the sky being incredibly full of sparkly stars, the grass feeling extra soft, and the people I passed seeming simultaneously close and far away. I felt a blissful, joy-filled rush of connection to all things and all people. I wasn't on drugs, but it felt like I was.

      I've never had an experience like that again, but I think of it often, and wonder why I had it at that moment. I wish everyone could have that feeling at least once. If I could figure out a way to make that happen, I would do it in a flash.

      Photo of stars at night by sukchander.

      Monday, September 23, 2013

      Jennifer Louden's Shero's School for Revolutionaries September 23-28

      My friend, Jennifer Louden, is hosting a free, online event this week (September 23-28), The Shero's School for Revolutionaries. Each day she'll be sharing streaming audio and video interviews with women about how to express your gifts in service to the world. Each interview will be streamed for free for 24 hours from their start time.

      Here's the line up for today, Monday, September 23:

      • 2 PM PT/5 PM ET: Welcome to The Shero's School for Revolutionaries with Jennifer Louden.
      • 2 PM PT/5 PM E: Yes, You are a Shero with Seane Corn
      • 3 PM PT/6 PM ET:  Being Led by Love with Julie Daley
      • 4 PM PT/7 PM ET: The Feminine Call to Greatness with Justine Musk
      • 5 PM PT/8 PM ET:  Evolving Lives: 4 Sheroic Stories - Jane Goodall, Etty Hillesum, Sister Helen Prejean, Tenzin Palmo with Carol Lee Flinders

      To sign up, click here.

      Wednesday, September 11, 2013

      Why Do I Do Good: The Center and Agape

      I'm exploring the roots of my desire/need/compulsion to "do good." I don't usually share personal stories here on Have Fun, Do Good, and I'm not sure where this is going, but I'm giving it a whirl. Here's the link to my first post, Why Do You Do Good?

      In 1975, when I was five, we moved from Vermont to Mystic, CT.  The local Catholic Church, St. Patrick's, had been in a fire, so Masses were held in a church-owned building next door, The Center, while the church was being repaired. The main room of The Center was a gymnasium. On one end was a wooden stage with a thick velvet curtain. On the other end was a kitchen where coffee and donuts were served from after Mass.

      Once the church was repaired, everyone went back to the church with the steeple, except for the people of the 11 o'clock Mass, where many families with young children, like my parents, often went. They preferred sitting in folding chairs arranged in a circle (rather than in rows of pews), fabric banners hanging from the ceiling (rather than a crucifix), and singing modern hymns led by a "folk group" with guitar, bass, clarinet and drums (rather than an organ and dusty hymnals).

      Mass went for about an hour and the coffee hour lasted for another hour, sometimes longer. Once the folding chairs were cleared, the large space was perfect for the 30+ children to run around in while their parents socialized, or had meetings. Often the meetings were about how to keep the Mass in the Center.

      Over the next ten years, or so, the people of the 11 o'clock Mass fought to stay in The Center. From a child's eyes, it seemed like they were the most active members of the parish, organizing community events and giving back. Over the years, a variety of priests and the Bishop visited to assess whether, or not the Mass in The Center constituted going to "real church."

      I remember the passage, For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20), being cited often, but it was to no avail. In the late 80's, the people of the 11 o'clock Mass were told to return to the church with the steeple.

      It was during this time, when I was 15 or 16, that I wrote the Bishop to say that I thought it was wrong that the 11 o'clock Mass couldn't meet in The Center, which is why I wouldn't be getting confirmed along with the other teens in the parish. He wrote back a not very nice letter explaining why I was wrong. I chose not to be confirmed.

      Some of the members of the 11 o'clock Mass went back into the church building with the steeple, but many of them, including my parents, created their own weekly worship experience in the warehouse of a religious book publisher, a couple, who had been a part of the group at The Center.

      Each Sunday, they put up their banners and placed their folding chairs in a circle in a drafty room with windows looking out on the Mystic River.  One person would lead the service with a reading from the Bible, and a "homily" of sorts, based on the reading. The folk group led everyone in the same songs we'd sung at The Center. On the back wall, a big silver coffee maker brewed coffee during the service, and people brought treats to share during coffee hour while the kids played in the warehouse, and by the water.

      They called it Agape, which basically means, a selfless love for everyone. It still exists almost 30 years later.

      To be continued.

      Photo: This is a page from a scrapbook about growing up in Mystic that my childhood friend, Jill, made for me when I moved to California. The top photo is of St. Patrick's Church with The Center to the left, partially obscured by a tree. The bottom photo is of the building where Agape was first held.

      Monday, September 02, 2013

      Play Big. Change the World. Interview with Tara Sophia Mohr

      tara mohr

      "I really believe if women are playing big, we are going to have a more peaceful, 
      more sane, more humane world." 
      ~ Tara Mohr

      This month's Big Vision Podcast features Tara Sophia Mohr creator of the Playing Big leadership program for women. Tara is a writer, coach and an expert on women's leadership. Her work helps women play bigger in their work and in their lives.

      With an MBA from Stanford University and an undergraduate degree in English literature from Yale, Tara takes a unique approach that blends inner work with practical skills training, and weaves together both intellectual rigor and intuitive wisdom.

      She has a deep commitment to amplifying women's voices. her 10 Rules for Brilliant Women have struck a chord with tens of thousands of women around the world. In 2010, Tara was honored as a Girl Champion by the Girl Effect organization, which supports girls' education in the developing world.

      Tara is  a co-creator of two anthologies of contemporary women's writings, The Women's Seder Sourcebook and The Women's Passover Companion. She is also a poet and the author of Your Other Names.

      She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and has been featured on TODAY,, Whole Living,, USA Today, International Business Times, Ode Magazine, Forbes, Beliefnet, and numerous other media outlets.

      You can learn more about Tara and the Playing Big Program at and follow her on Twitter at @tarasophia.

      You can listen and subscribe to the Big Vision Podcast via iTunes, or on the player below (if you're reading this via email, or rss and can't see the player click here to go to the original post). If you like the show, I'd really appreciate it if you took a moment to rate and review it on iTunes.

      If you have suggestions for people I should interview, please email me at britt AT brittbravo DOT com.


      The next Juicy Blogging E-Course starts September 5th!