Monday, November 30, 2009

Have Fun Do Good Day: Even When It Isn't One

Getting back into the swing of things after a long weekend can be . . . OK, let's say it, not fun! So . . . how can you have a have fun do good day when you're not feeling great?

1. Do something nice for someone else. Today is my 4th day of the 29 Day Giving Challenge. I haven't decided what I am going to give today, but so far I've found that giving my time, whether that is by listening, sharing my expertise, or spending time together when I feel like I don't have any free time, has been the most rewarding.

2. Make a quick "I'm thankful for list." My friend Heather Meyer put up an inspiring blog post before Thanksgiving about creating an I'm Thankful List. Here's my quick list:

I'm thankful for:
3. Move. Jennifer Lee of the Life Unfolds blog recently gave me a pair of MuseCubes, a set of two handmade dice. One cube tells you how to move your body, and the other tells you a sound to make while moving. It may sound silly, but they really do make you feel better. 10-20 minute walks are a good option too.

4. Have a treat. One of the chapters of The Joy Diet, which I just finished, is about giving yourself treats throughout the day, and especially after you take a risk. I have a *big* sweet tooth, so I just treated myself to a piece of Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, that I made last night. Big thanks to HappyKatie for telling me about the recipe! It's freakalicious.

How do you have a have fun do good day, even when it doesn't start out like one?

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Alternatives: Sleep-In, Buy Nothing, Wear Plaid

Today is "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving when everyone is supposed to hit the stores to do their holiday shopping. "To buy, or not to buy?" seems to be the question on do-gooders' minds. Below are four ideas for how to spend, or not spend, today.

1. GlobalGiving is promoting November 27th as The Great American Sleep-in. They are encouraging people to sleep-in, spend time with the people they care about, and purchase their gifts through GlobalGiving. You can buy a gift card, make a donation to a grassroots social change project, or purchase something from (for each transaction made on the site, World of Good will contribute $5 to GlobalGiving projects).

2. As Green LA Girl mentioned in her post, Inspiration to spend less this season — without feeling deprived, November 27th is also Adbusters' Buy Nothing Day. They propose that in addition to buying nothing on November 27th, you also, "shut off your lights, televisions and other nonessential appliances. We want you to park your car, turn off your phones and log off of your computer for the day."

3. Celebrate Plaid Friday, shop local and independent. In the East Bay of Northern California, where I live, today is Plaid Friday. People are encouraged to wear plaid (to celebrate the diversity and creativity of independent enterprises), and to shop at local and independent businesses.

4. Buy something "responsible." In his post, Black Friday? Buy Nothing Day? How About Buy Something Responsible Day? Triple Pundit blogger, Nick Aster, suggests that Black Friday be renamed, "Buy Something Responsible Day," or something equivalent. He writes:
"[F]olks who understand the appeal of shopping locally, buying organic, and taking the time to understand where products come from and who makes them, already recognize that we vote with our dollars."
How will you be spending your time and/or dollars today?

Cross-posted from

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Do-Good Tranquilista: Interview with Kimberly Wilson

"That's why it's, "Enlightened Work and Mindful Play," because it's incorporating, wrapping up, and interweaving this notion of making a difference through your daily actions, and also infusing your life with style, and throwing really fun parties for good causes."
--Kimberly Wilson, author of Tranquilista: Mastering the Art of Enlightened Work and Mindful Play
I'm always experimenting with how to stress less, enjoy life more, and make a positive impact. One of the places I go for inspiration during my day is to the books, blog, podcast, and Twitter feed of Kimberly Wilson.

Kimberly is a teacher, writer, do-gooder, entrepreneur, and eco-fashion designer who is currently obsessed with, "Paris, potbelly pigs, and all things sparkly." She is the creative director and founder of Tranquil Space, which was named among the top 25 yoga studios in the world by Travel and Leisure. She is also the creative director and designer of TranquiliT, an ecoluxe lifestyle clothing line, and the founder of Tranquil Space Foundation, a nonprofit that brings yoga, creativity, and leadership to women and girls. Kimberly has authored two books: Hip Tranquil Chick: A Guide to Life On and Off the Yoga Mat, and Tranquilista: Mastering the Art of Enlightened Work and Mindful Play.

Below is an edited transcript of my November 3rd interview with Kimberly for the Big Vision Podcast. Our conversation began with Kimberly explaining what Tranquil Space Foundation is, and why she started it.

Kimberly Wilson: Tranquil Space Foundation started in July of 2006. We decided with my yoga studio, Tranquil Space, that we really wanted to expand our do-gooding efforts, and create a 501(c)(3) that we could really focus our efforts on. I put a note out in the Tranquil Space newsletter asking for interested participants to come to my living room. There were about 20 people huddled around talking about what we were going to be, what we were going to do, and how we could have the most impact.

Out of that, over about six months, we came up with our tagline. We came up with our first program. We came up with a curriculum for the program. My big focus, with a Masters in Women's Studies, has been on empowering women and girls. We decided to start with teen girls, ninth through twelfth grade, and with the notion that that's when as a young girl we're beginning to make important decisions about college, about life steps, and about goals.

We came up with the notion of bringing in three big components:
  • Yoga: to really help the girls get connected with and in touch with their bodies.
  • Leadership: to focus on goal-setting, and to become strong leaders in their own lives.
  • Creativity: to really explore coloring outside the lines, and doing things differently.
These were tools that many of the people involved in the organization wished they 'd had when they were in ninth through twelfth grade.

The big premise is really with the programming, but then over the past couple years another thing that we've branched out and been doing is we just adore giving microgrants to other organizations. We have this really great process from a woman who heads the generosity committee. We all present organizations that we'd like the Foundation to consider donating to that are in alignment with our values of yoga, creativity, and leadership.

We sit down, and there's this big voting process, big discussion, and then we contact the organizations to let them know that they're going to receive a grant from us. That's been a really fun piece, to give money away in a very targeted manner has just felt amazing. That's pretty much Tranquil Space Foundation in a nutshell. We're a little over three years old now.

Do you have any favorite Tranquil Teens success stories?

I would say my favorite stories for the Foundation so far have really been the organizations that we've granted money to who come and share what they've done with it, how it has made an impact on their organization, and how grateful they are.

With the Tranquil Teens program, where we go and actually take our curriculum out, so far we've just worked with girls in a one-time setting. Although we get really glowing testimonials and feedback from the girls, there is no way to really follow up with them a year later and ask, "So, have you been utilizing this? How has it made an impact? Are you writing in your journal?" things along those lines.

We can't yet fully speak to the impact that Tranquil Teens is having, although we're hopeful that it is making an impact. We do know that the money that we have been giving away has had a significant impact on the organizations.

What tips do you have for starting a nonprofit? What tips do you have overall for starting a nonprofit, but also for business owners. I see that as a growing trend, "Here's my business, and then, I also have a nonprofit arm of my larger brand."

In an odd way, I feel like everyone who has a for-profit should have a nonprofit arm associated with their organization. I just feel like it makes sense. It just shows and exemplifies values in a way above and beyond giving money does.

The reason I say that is because since the inception of Tranquil Space, I've donated money to various organizations, and partnered with organizations for events and things like that, and those felt really good, but to have an organization that its sole purpose is do-gooding, just feels amazing. It's really fun because people who are involved in the Foundation are often involved in the studio, but not always. That might be their main thing that they want to get involved in is just the do-gooding aspect, and so that's felt really good.

I would say the main way to really get started with a foundation is to have strong people on your Board. I'm blessed with a boyfriend who was a nonprofit attorney for years, and he's also a tax attorney, so he's been super helpful with all the questions that you have to think about with a nonprofit, that you don't have to think about so much with a for-profit. That's been super handy.

I would definitely say, have an attorney on your Board. Setting up your Board; of course, is one of the first things. Have an attorney on it, an accountant, and just people who have been involved in the nonprofit sector to give a lot of great feedback. I've really found that to be a powerful piece. Also, determine your mission.

In my new book, Tranquilista, I write all about this because I think it's really critical, how to set up a nonprofit. I had no idea. I was reading Nonprofits for Dummies, I was asking my boyfriend, other people who had founded nonprofits, other people who had worked at nonprofits, and just asking all I could to find out more about the creation of a nonprofit. There are so many people, probably within your own sphere, who can provide lots of great insights on how to do this.

The theme of all of your different enterprises: your clothing company, your books, your blog, your podcasts, and your yoga studios, is "tranquility." What does tranquility mean to you and why is it so important to you?

The whole notion of tranquility was a way to rename a yoga studio that started with, "Yoga at Kimberly's," in my living room in October of 1999. A little less than a year later, I decided that I needed a sexier name. I needed something that focused on what I really wanted to evoke, and what I wanted students and yogis to feel when they walked through the doors.

I came up with the name Tranquil Space. Loved it. I began to create other arms of the business, the first one was the clothing line, and it started with T-shirts, so that's where TranquilitT came to be, and that was 2002.

The next piece was the creation of my book, Hip Tranquil Chick. I really loved the title, Hip Yoga Chick, but was taken. You can't write a book, if you can't get the .com! [laughs] It just made sense to make it Hip Tranquil Chick, because then it wove in the whole notion of tranquility. The next piece was the foundation, Tranquil Space Foundation.

For me, it has been a constant reminder of the striving, and searching, and looking for tranquility in everything we do, whether it's clothing, do-gooding, yoga, etc. It's all about, ideally, bringing about this holistic balance to our lives.

How do you maintain your own tranquility with so many different enterprises? How in the world do you balance all of that, and keep your own tranquility?

That's a great question. Self-care, that's totally important, and I love to sleep. It's my favorite thing. A lot of people will ask, "Well, how in the world do you even sleep?" I'm like, "Oh, no-no-no, you don't understand. It's a priority." It's one of my favorite things to do.

As a matter of fact, last night I went to bed quite early, for me, and then I slept probably 10 hours I was so exhausted from the past few days. It is a priority of mine. I would say that is number one of self-care basics, sleep, critical, especially because I just absolutely adore it.

Also, hot baths, I'm a hot bath girl, every night. I love tea. I always have a nice cup of green tea first thing in the morning. I have a candle burning right next to me during this podcast. I always try and infuse little doses of tranquility into a very, busy, full life.

Why do you think it's important for people who are trying to create social change to be tranquil, and do you have any tips for busy changemakers?

It's critical to take care of yourself. There's that whole notion of refilling the well, and making sure that you're nice and full; otherwise, you cannot give what you need to give to others. That goes from parenting an animal, or a child, to taking care of aging parents, to taking care of your organization, or those who work for you. If you're not feeling full and feeling cared for and fed in many ways, it's going to be hard to give back, and really make the impact that you want to make.

Sometimes it can feel maybe a little selfish to say, "No, I have to stay in to take care of myself," or "No, I think I am going to pass on that invitation. I really just need an extra few hours of sleep," or "I just to need to curl up with a good book in front of the fire." I think it's really critical to make sure that is an absolutely important focus for all of us in order to really make the change, and really be the person that we want to be.

You talked a little bit about your new book, Tranquilista: Mastering the Art of Enlightened Work and Mindful Play, which is coming out 2010. What else will people find in your new book?

Oh my gosh, there's so much. It's an interesting compilation of my journey. There are three chapters on entrepreneurship, and that's where there's a piece - I can't remember actually if the setting up your foundation piece is in the do-gooding chapters, or in one of the entrepreneurship chapters - but there's a lot on creating what it is that you want to bring to fruition in your own life, and what you want your legacy to be, so to speak.

There's a lot of playfulness too, with regards to style, and taking care of yourself, and creativity. It's blending this aspect of work and play in a playful way, but also in a fairly deep way. That's why it's, "Enlightened Work and Mindful Play," because it's incorporating, wrapping up, and interweaving this notion of making a difference through your daily actions, and also infusing your life with style, and throwing really fun parties for good causes. I feel like the gamut is covered in this new book. I'm really, really excited to share it.

You also try to infuse sustainability and green practices into your businesses. Isn't your studio "green," or one of them, and also your clothing line?


Can you talk a little bit about the challenges, or talk about that process? Can you talk about why you chose to do that, and any advice you have for folks who want to add that aspect to their business?

With the clothing line, I was sewing with rayon fabric initially, and then I came across organic bamboo at a fabric show, and I fell in love. I was like, "Oh, my gosh! I'm totally transitioning." At that time, this was '06, I really couldn't find anything sustainable other than hemp, or something that was just a little itchy, or just not the luxurious fabric that I was looking for. When I found organic bamboo I was in love, and I've been using sustainable materials, organic bamboo and organic cotton, since '06.

With the studio, when we moved into a new studio in '08, we were building it out for about six to nine months. My contractor was really great about using reclaimed materials because his whole thing was, "Why go trash old stuff to buy new green stuff and fill up the landfills?"

He was really, really creative with my request to build out as green as possible. For example, he would find things on Craigslist, like tree grates that go around trees in urban settings. We cut those up, and that was used to support the benches that were made from reclaimed wood from an old barn. We lined the sides of two walls with wood from an old farmhouse. We used the floor joists from the upper two floors, that we had to replace because they were deteriorating and wouldn't be strong enough for what we would need, for shelving. It was just really, really nice to be creative, and to not just trash stuff that could ultimately be a gem.

What's next for you? What's 2010 look like for you? Are you going to add another enterprise? I don't know how that would be humanly possible!


On the what's next horizon, honestly, I've just come off of one of the most challenging months of my life. There was just so much going on in October for me, and one really big exciting milestone was our 10-year birthday party for Tranquil Space.

Initially, I had planned to take all of November off to think about what was going to be next for me, what was next on the horizon. Then, while I was in Costa Rica in May leading a retreat, I had been contemplating getting a Masters in Social Work for a while, I decided to sign up, and apply, and so I'm in graduate school right now.

Instead of taking November off to play fully, I am taking 10 days to go to Paris, which I had planned on before I started graduate school. For 2010, I really haven't scheduled a lot. I'm leading a few retreats, but that's kind of the norm. I'm going to focus on school, and I'm going to focus on just savoring what is right now. There are no new business ventures on the horizon.

I feel really good with the spin-offs that I've done. I love them all. I want to just continue giving them energy, and make sure that I in turn am taking good care of myself in the process.

Do you have anything else you want folks to know about Tranquil Space Foundation, how they can get involved, any of your other enterprises, or tranquility in general?

If there is any interest in getting involved in Tranquil Space Foundation, check out our website, We'll be donating to three to four more great causes in Spring 2010, so if you know of any organizations that cater to women and girls in the field of yoga, creativity, and leadership, please don't hesitate to let me know. I'd love to recommend them.

Also, with tranquility in general, be playful, have fun. Make sure you're taking care of yourself. Write in your journal, sip tea, do yoga. Really ask yourself on a regular basis, "How am I contributing to the well being of all?" There are small things that we can do such as just smiling to people we pass, giving compliments, giving kudos, sending snail mail. Oh, my God, the best thing in the world is receiving snail mail!

Just these small things can really make a big difference. Just reflecting on your life, that's called svadhyaya in yoga - self study, and continuing to explore, open, and live as fully as possible. To me, that's tranquility. And then, lots and lots of sleep!

You can learn more about Kimberly and her work at

Kimberly, Jennifer Lee of Life Unfolds, Lisa Sonora Beam of Less Stress, More Joy: Adventures in Creative Entrepreneurship, and I are collaborating to create an event for creative women entrepreneurs to connect, create, and learn together so stay tuned to our blogs as the details unfold!

Cross-posted from

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Have Fun Do Good Day: Make a Laugh List

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

When you're working to make the world a better place, there are going to be times when you'll feel challenged, discouraged, and even sometimes depressed. To balance out the tough times, you need to have a Laugh List to turn to on a regular basis.

Below are some items from My Laugh List. What's on yours?

Movies/short films
  • Ricky Gervais
  • Jack Black
  • Robin Williams
  • Chris Rock
  • Brian Williams, when he is a guest on The Daily Show
  • Our cat
  • Dancing to cheezy songs during ShimmyPop! class at Hipline

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Record Your Grandma's Stories: StoryCorps' National Day of Listening is Nov. 27

Will you be spending Thanksgiving with friends who tell great stories, a relative who has wonderful tales from "back in the day," or just someone special whose life you'd like to celebrate? Why not record their story in honor of StoryCorps' National Day of Listening the day after Thanksgiving (November 27th).

StoryCorps provides a free, downloadable Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide, as well as an Education Toolkit to use in a classroom or library, and a Community Service Toolkit to use in, "veteran’s hospitals, senior centers, homeless shelters, and other community centers."

I also like their Great Question List. It is organized according to the type of person you'll be interviewing. For example, some of the questions they suggest you ask your grandparents are:
  • Where did you grow up?
  • What was your childhood like?
  • Who were your favorite relatives?
  • Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?
  • How did you and grandma/grandpa meet?
  • What was my mom/dad like growing up?
  • Do you remember any songs that you used to sing to her/him? Can you sing them now?
  • What were your parents like?
  • What were your grandparents like?
We won't be spending Thanksgiving with family this year, but I could still record a family member's story with the Skype recording program for Macs I use for podcasting, ecamm Call Recorder for Skype. If you have a PC, I've heard great things about Pamela.

If you'll be face-to-face with the person whose story you'd like to capture, you could record it with a Flip video camcorder, a regular camcorder, a cassette recorder, or a digital audio recorder (Olympus has relatively affordable small ones). If you have a computer with a built-in microphone, you can probably record directly into an audio program like Garageband (Mac), or Audacity (Mac or PC).

Whose story would you like to capture? Whose life would you like to celebrate?

For inspiration, check out:

Cross-posted from

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Have Fun Do Good Day: 29-Day Giving Challenge

Long time readers of Have Fun Do Good probably already know about the 29 Day Giving Challenge created by my friend, Cami Walker.

During the 29 Day Giving Challenge, you give away one thing each day for 29 days. It can be anything: time, money, something you already have, something you buy, a smile, a compliment, or a kind word.

What you might not know is that since I first wrote about the Challenge in April 2008, Cami has published a New York Times bestselling book, 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life, and has appeared on the TODAY Show! Pretty cool, huh?

I've completed the Challenge four times, and found it to be a profound experience each time. I'm going to start my fifth cycle the day after Thanksgiving, "Black Friday," so that I will hopefully feel the spirit of giving (rather than buying) that the holiday season is supposed to be about. Interestingly, November 27-December 25th is 29 days!

Wanna give with me?

You can join the 29 Day Giving Challenge online community at, and download free 29 Gifts calendar and 29 Gifts Note Cards in their discussion forum.

I've pasted the video from Cami's interview on the TODAY Show below.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of 29 Gifts, and I am mentioned on page 154 of the book (:

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Have Fun Do Good Day: Stretch!

Do-gooders need to take care of themselves, as well as others, and that includes taking care of their bodies.

If I can make time to do yoga in the morning, I know it's going to be a good day. Sometimes I do it for 10 minutes, sometimes for 30 minutes, and sometimes I have the luxury of going to a 60-90 minute class. Either way, every little bit makes a difference.

If yoga sounds intimidating to you, just think of it as stretching with a lot of breathing (:

Above is a 4-minute video of the Six Movements of the Spine by Kimberly Wilson (who interviewed me recently) that you could probably do right now sitting at your desk, on the sofa, or even on the plane (if you have nice people in your row).

How do you find time to stretch and exercise?

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vote Today, Watch on Thanksgiving: 2009 CNN Heroes

It's your last chance to vote for your favorite 2009 CNN Hero!

A "Blue Ribbon Panel" selected the 2009 Top Ten CNN Heroes out of 9,000 nominations, and now you can choose the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year from their Top Ten. Voting ends Thursday, November 19 at 6 AM ET.

The Top Ten Heroes are an incredibly inspiring group. You can watch videos about each hero, and learn more about their stories on the 2009 CNN Heroes voting page. Give their organizations a click below:
Each Hero will receive $25,000 in recognition of their work, and the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year will receive an additional $100,000. The winner will be announced on CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute which airs Thursday, November 26 (Thanksgiving) 9 PM ET/PT on CNN.

Personally, I voted for Betty Makoni (pictured left), because I was moved when I read her story in Paola Gianturco's book, Women Who Light the Dark, and when I heard her story again while interviewing Paola for the Big Vision Podcast.

Even if you don't get a chance to vote, you can still watch the show on Thanksgiving. It's definitely a better option than having football on, don't you think?

Cross-posted from

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Have Fun Do Good Day: Do Something Nice for an Animal

I've been thinking a lot about animals lately, as I've mentioned in a couple recent posts, Midlife Food Crisis: What's Your Food Story?, and Love Animals? 9 Animal Rights Organization Blogs for Your Weekend Reading. What better way to have fun while doing good then doing something nice for an animal!

We have an adorable, but needy cat, who gets very sad when we go out of town. She is still recovering from our being away last week, so early this morning I gave her a special treat, cuddle time in bed when it was still dark out (she usually isn't allowed in till we are awake). Oh, the purrs! Isn't it amazing that such a small thing can make a little being so happy?

I had the same experience last week on vacation in Maine while playing with our friends' labradoodle in the rain. He was so happy!

Here are a few ways you can do something nice for animals today:
  • If you have a pet, play with them.

  • See if a local shelter or animal rescue near you needs volunteers. They can need help with everything from fostering animals before they are adopted, to going into the shelter to play with them and pet them, to web design work. Check out VolunteerMatch for ideas.

  • Offer to take care of someone else's pet. With the holidays coming up, lots of folks are trying to figure out who will take care of their pets. If you're staying in town, why not offer to help? Also, some organizations, like PAWS, need people to take care of sick and elderly people's pets.

  • Donate to a shelter, rescue, or animal rights organization. There are the big ones like ASPCA, but don't forget about the little local ones. We wouldn't have found our awesome cat if it wasn't for Maine Coon Adoptions here in Oakland.

  • And of course the big one, if you are able, look into adopting an animal. Here are a few tips for adopting a pet from a shelter. One place to search for animals that need a home is
What are some other ways to do something nice for an animal today?

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lovely Daily Show Interview with Jane Goodall

The hubs and I have been catching up on our Tivo'd shows after our awesome vacation in Maine last week.

On Sunday night, we watched a lovely interview on The Daily Show with Dr. Jane Goodall, who has a new book out, Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink.

This little piece of the interview keeps coming back to me:

Jon Stewart: Here's what I love about the work you do. You ooze compassion and helpfulness, and all those great qualities, but not extremism. You seem to have a very reasonable approach to the animal world and saving endangered species. I mentioned to you earlier, I enjoy the occasional cheeseburger. You were OK with that.

Jane Goodall: I'm OK with that.

Jon Stewart: Thank you. Do you find that the world that you travel in, other than the chimp world, is filled with extremists?

Jane Goodall: There's an awful lot of extremists and fundamentalists, and you would agree, that's really what's gone wrong with the planet right now. It's the fundamentalists, whether they're right, left, center, whatever they are, if they're fundamentalists, they're dangerous.
It's that last part that keeps resonating with me. In order to make the world a better place we all need to be more flexible, and get comfortable moving in and out of wherever we live naturally: left, right, or center.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jane Goodall
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

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Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm on the Tranquility Du Jour Podcast!

One of my favorite podcasts is Tranquility du Jour by Kimberly Wilson. I always find the women she interviews interesting and inspiring, and I'm soooo excited to be this week's Featured Tranquilista.

When we recorded the interview, we actually did a podcast "swap." After she interviewed me, I interviewed her for the Big Vision Podcast about her nonprofit, Tranquil Space Foundation, and her new book Tranquilista: Mastering the Art of Mindful Work and Enlightened Play, which I'll be posting soon.

I hope you enjoy the interview, and you should definitely check out past shows. You can listen to it online using the little player on her blog, or download it from the iTunes Music Store.

P.S. Kimberly is one of three co-collaborators brainstorming with me how to put together an event for creative women entrepreneurs to connect, create, and learn together. Today is the deadline to take our survey for a chance to win a prize, so don't delay!

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Midlife Food Crisis: What Is Your Food Story?

I've been having a little bit of a midlife food crisis. Ever since I saw Alicia Silverstone on The Joy Behar Show talking about her new book The Kind Diet, there has been this little voice in my head bugging me each time I'm choosing what to eat that says, "Eat less animal products."

You have to understand, I was a vegetarian, and then a vegan for most of my twenties, and then a full on meat eater in my 30s (Thought: maybe my body likes different diets for different decades?). We don't cook a lot of meat at home, but I do love milk and eggs, and once in a while, a good hamburger.

You can see why I'm feeling a little confused.

Anyway, I've been eating a lot less animal products lately, and have been cooking up a storm with my Veganomicon (I recently made her chili cornmeal-crusted tofu, which was delish), and my How It All Vegan and The Garden of Vegan. I'm being flexible in social situations, or when eating out, and just seeing how it goes, and how I feel.

If any movie was going to convince you to become at least a vegetarian it is Food Inc., which I watched this weekend, and highly recommend. I've included the trailer below to give you a taste.

So tell me, how do you make the food choices you make, whether it is to be a meat eater, a vegetarian, a vegan, a flexitarian, or whatever? I'd love to hear your stories.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Come On, U.S., Give the Kids Their Rights

November 20, 2009 is the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). According to UNICEF, "The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rightscivil, cultural, economic, political and social rights."

Only two United Nations member states have not ratified it: Somalia and the United States.

Did you just say, "What?" Yeah, me too.

I'm not entirely sure why the U.S. hasn't ratified the Convention. It seems like a no-brainer. According to The Huffington Post article, Obama Administration Seeks To Join U.N. Rights Of The Child Convention, "[O]pponents in the U.S. have long argued that it could open the door to outside interference from government and U.N. officials in what they say are parents' rights to raise a child as they see fit."

I know the Obama Administration has a ton on its plate right now, but I mean, come on--it's children's rights: things like non-discrimination, protection from abuse, and protection for children without families, refugee children, and children with disabilities. Do we really need to think hard about this one?

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has launched an online petition urging President Obama and the U.S. Congress to ratify the agreement. Amnesty International also has a sample letter template you can send to your Senator, and has created an unofficial summary of the 42 main provisions of the Convention for you to peruse.

If you know of a good reason why we shouldn't ratify this let me know, 'cause I can't think of one.

Related blogs:

Cross-posted from
Full disclosure: I have donated to Amnesty International and UNICEF.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

People Powered Movement Photo Contest

I'm a big walker. Because of where we live, I can walk to the grocery store, drug store, post office, gym, library, doctor's office, and the BART, which will take me into San Francisco, where I can walk some more.

Consequently, I was pretty excited when the Alliance for Biking and Walking asked me to spread the word about their People Powered Movement Photo Contest.

The Alliance for Biking and Walking creates, strengthens, and unites state and local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations. One resource its member organizations have requested is high quality images of biking and walking to use in their communications.

In response, the Alliance is holding a People Powered Movement Photo Contest. The contest will help them build a biking and walking advocacy photo library that will provide free, high quality images of biking and walking to Alliance member organizations.

Anyone can submit up to 20 images in 7 categories (biking, walking, biking and walking, complete streets, advocates in action, youth, or inspirational) for a chance to win an all-expense paid bike trip to Tuscany, and a year's supply of Clif Bars.

The two runners-up will win a Breezer Uptown 8, or a Dahon folding commuter. There are also first, second, and third place prizes in each of the seven categories. The winning images will be published in the 2010 March/April issue of Momentum Magazine. The deadline to submit your photo(s) is November 31, 2009.

Check out the cute video below for photo ideas and inspiration:

Related blogs:

Alliance for Walking and Biking blog
Bay Area Bicycles Coaltion
Bike Delaware News
Bikes and the City
Carefree USA Blog
Cycle and Style
Fresno Bicycle Coalition News
Philadelphia Bicycle News
Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
Virginia Bicycling Federation
Walk Oakland Bike Oakland

Cross-posted from

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