Tuesday, March 30, 2010

25 Ways You Said You Would Have Fun and Do Good + Paloma's Nest Winner

A couple weeks ago I posted that Paloma's Nest would be giving away a TODAY I WILL . . . fill in the blank tiny text bowl to a Have Fun Do Good reader.

To enter, all you had to do was leave a comment that completed the sentence, TODAY I WILL . . . with a have fun do good idea. Below are how 25 people said they would have fun and do good:
  1. MAfrika: Complete my EVOLVE missions and thanks to you - I now have a mentor too...
  2. Niels Teunis: Enjoy the sun with a good friend!
  3. Elliot: Bug some friends to donate to CDI Chile's earthquake-relief project.
  4. Sylvia-Louise: Tell the people in my life "I love you" and smile at strangers as we meet.
  5. Melissa Hayes: Chase my dreams
  6. Kayla: Put work aside and focus on my family.
  7. Slappy Walker: Keep it all in perspective.
  8. Elisse: Hug my best friend for as long and as tight as possible!
  9. Lauren: Take all of the stuffing out of a pillow & sprinkle it on my son's floor. (Last night he said he really wants to see snow... we live in Florida!)
  10. Cami: Be so happy to daydream about our upcoming trip to Napa for my best friend's 30th birthday.
  11. sallyc: Breathe deeply and live in joy!
  12. paige: I will meditate, giving thanks for what I have, and for what I lack
  13. Ginger: Today I will be thankful for my many blessings!
  14. Mary Daniel Hobson: Give myself time and space to be creative.
  15. Stephanie: Call a recent volunteer with a very personal thank you. I wish I had time to talk individually with them all!
  16. TommyGirl: Take ten minutes for myself to think about all the good things in my life and be greatful.
  17. iHanna: Spread metta into the world! :-)
  18. Just_Kelly: Live, laugh, and love!
  19. ramblingandruminating: Make one person's life easier.
  20. Vana: Remind the people around me of how much I love them.
  21. Flynn: Put away my laundry and read poetry.
  22. eatyourveggies: Today I will email you about coaching/consulting and start reading Creating a Life Worth Living, which you told me about!
  23. Amorouscents: Thank my family and friends for their love and support, and I will continue to follow my dreams.
  24. Anonymous: Give my niece a big hug and a big kiss, and then get captivated by the most precious smile on all the universe!
  25. Gabriela Masala: Stay grounded amidst big changes and move with loving presence through the world.
I used a Random Number Generator to pick a winner, and the winner is . . .18, iHanna!

Thanks to everyone for entering and sharing how you will have fun and do good, and a big thanks to Caroline Colom Vasquez of Paloma's Nest for giving away a TODAY I WILL . . . fill in the blank tiny text bowl.

If you decide to purchase your own TODAY I WILL . . . fill in the blank tiny text bowl, $5 of your purchase will be donated to Doctors Without Borders to support their work in Haiti.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Cupcakes, Veganism and Fundraising: Fat Bottom Bakery and the East Bay Vegan Bake Sale

"We get to be really creative, create all these really delicious things, and show people that veganism can be delicious and cute."- Ashley Rowe, Fat Bottom Bakery

I'm a big cupcake baker, lover and eater. I have a collection of cupcake cookbooks, cupcake displays, and cupcake carriers. I've also been cooking a lot of vegan recipes ever since I watched Food, Inc., and read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, and The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone.

You can imagine how excited I was to find out about Fat Bottom Bakery, a vegan bakery in Oakland, CA (where I live) that makes all kind of desserts, including cupcakes! Fat Bottom Bakery's creators, Ashley Rowe and Carolynn Webb, describe their bakery as, "a manifestation of our desire to spread delicious, cute, cruelty-free things to the world." They also produce the East Bay Vegan Bake Sale where they sell baked goods to raise money for charity.

I've posted an edited transcript of my interview with Ashley and Carolynn for the Big Vision Podcast. You can also listen to it on the little player below, on the Big Vision Podcast website, or on the iTunes Music Store.

Our conversation began with Carolynn and Ashley describing the path that brought them to start their own vegan bakery.

Carolynn Webb: Ashley and I had both been long time home bakers. One day Ashley was making me and our other friend, who shares the same birthday, some cupcakes. Our friend mentioned that we could probably sell them.

I feel like Ashley and I both have a really short list of things that we could do that would fit our interests, and also be exciting for us. It got added to the list, and we just thought more and more about it. After talking about it, living together, baking, and all that, we decided to try to do it.

Ashley Rowe: The first event right after that, where we decided to go and sell, was San Francisco Pride. The other part of the story was that the cupcakes I was making were rainbow-layered cupcakes. It came up as, "Oh, these are amazing. Everyone would love them at Pride. We should totally go sell them there." We realized that we could, and nothing was stopping us.

It blossomed from there. We made this cigarette girl tray, which we call the "cupcake girl tray," and took it out with us to sell in public. It had a great response, and ever since then we've been trying to find different local events, and branching out from there.

Britt Bravo: Why a vegan bakery?

AR: Well, both of us are vegan, and have been for many years. I think it's generally been appealing to us, and consistent with our ethics, at least in my opinion, to abstain from animal products. I think one of the great things about being a vegan bakery, and a vegan business, is that we get to go out into the public and show people that abstaining from something doesn't mean, necessarily, that you're losing out on anything.

We get to be really creative, create all these really delicious things, and show people that veganism can be delicious and cute. Of course, it's cruelty-free, which is the point.

CW: It's just one of the nicest ways to talk about veganism because it is always on our display, whether it's a table, or our cupcake girl trays. At almost every event someone will come up and be like, "I just ate that. It was good, and then I found out it was vegan and I was like, 'That is great.'" People have a particular idea of what something is going to taste like if it's vegan. People can try it, if they're interested, and also will accidentally get surprised. It's a nice way to talk about it.

BB: What better way to introduce the concept than with something delicious and cute? What do you both enjoy the most about running your bakery?

CW: Something I like the most is that since it's just Ashley and me, we're involved in everything. We get to think of the ideas for the recipes. We get to make it, and then we get to go out and put it out there. We get all the pluses from every stage. We get to use our creativity, have our hands in every part, and see the final product, so every stage of it is our own.

AR: I think one of my favorite things about it is what we were just talking about. People who aren't vegan and who happen to try them and are like, "I never knew that it could be like that. That was delicious." It's really satisfying to talk to people out in public who maybe wouldn't have bought that product, did, and then found out that they really liked it.

The flip side of that coin is that we get to sell to people who aren't used to getting a lot of the types of things that we sell. We've done special orders for folks whose kids have egg allergies. They're like, "My kid has never eaten a cupcake and they just love it." That's really satisfying; getting to connect with all different kinds of people, and spreading the baked good love.

BB: Can you talk a little bit about where your passion for veganism comes from?

AR: I consider myself to be an anarchist, and a feminist. I'm into radical left politics. Those are all things that came from getting into the punk scene as a kid. Veganism was a similar thing that also stemmed from that. I just had my 10-year vegan anniversary, and so it goes back a long ways. I always talk about how I would never know how to cook, or bake something that wasn't vegan, because I've just never done it. By the time I started cooking and baking, I was vegan, and that was sort of my path. For me, it's just something that is consistent with my beliefs about the world. At this point it's really something that is a habit, too.

CW: For me, veganism is an extension of how I was raised. I was raised in a vegetarian household, and a household that was very concerned with living a good life in the world, and lessening suffering in every way that you can. When I was a teenager, it blew my mind when I found out about veganism. When I adopted it, it really felt like a logical extension for all the things that I was raised to believe, and had also come to accept on my own.

BB: What's been the biggest challenge? You guys just started this bakery not that long ago. Six months ago? Seven months ago?

CW: Around six or seven months.

BB: What's been the biggest challenge as creative women entrepreneurs?

CW: For me, it's been really great because it's been an opportunity to take something that was a hobby and an interest, and dedicate more energy into it than I otherwise would have. That part seems comfortable and exciting, but putting in all the business stuff, and learning how to do that in an intelligent and legal way, has been a real challenge. We're taking that on chunk by chunk. That's been the thing that has caused me the most worry.

BB: What's your favorite thing to bake?

AR: Well, my favorite thing to bake is actually cupcakes. That may or may not be a popular opinion, depending on who you talk to. A lot of people love them; they're really cute, they're fun, but the whole cupcake fad has exploded so much over the last few years that they're also sort of passe. I really like them because they're like fun, little individual units, and you get to decorate each one, and make it look just how you want. I prefer the regular size cupcakes to the mini cupcakes, because the mini cupcakes are half the size, and four times as much work.

CW: Right now, this minute, I've become really interested in pies. We've been working on a variety of mini pies, so that's something that I'm really excited about.

BB: What do you use in your experiments to make the crust flaky? Isn't that always the tricky part of the pie?

CW: It's just using Earth Balance and shortening, and then a very light hand. It's more of a technique thing than a pure ingredient thing. It's tricky, so that's one of the reasons why it's a challenge and I'm interested in it.

BB: The way I found out about you two is because in my neighborhood you had the very first East Bay Vegan Bake Sale in January. It was not just a fun opportunity to eat and buy vegan treats, but also the money you raised, which was something like over $2,000, was for the Bad Rap Pit Bull Rescue, and for Laurel Elementary School to build a school garden. I want to hear about why you did that, how you organized it, and tips you might have for other people who hear that and think, "That's cool! I want to do something like that."

CW: We have participated in the San Francisco Bake Sale for the past several sales. I just fell in love with that event; it was so fun. A lot of people had a stake in it because they brought something to contribute, and were also so excited about the other things people brought. It had a lot of good energy to it. Then, Ashley came home one day and was said, "Why don't we do that in the East Bay?"

AR: I can't take all the credit for that. It actually stemmed from a conversation that I was having with our friend, Chelsea. I think the San Francisco Bake Sale was coming up, and I said, "Oh, are you going to go?" And we were thinking it would be so much more convenient to have one here. It just makes sense. So, Chelsea is actually the third organizer of the East Bay Vegan Bake Sale.

Between the three of us, we pulled it together over the course of about six weeks. We called in some favors from some of our connections. Our friends who own Issues magazine shop, where we had the bake sale, very generously allowed us to set up in front, and we got in touch with all kinds of people who participated in the San Francisco one, sent out a lot of emails, made a Twitter account, and just spread the word. I'm not going to say that it wasn't a lot of work, but it was not nearly as hard as I expected it to be. For anyone who's considering pulling together their own bake sale, I would definitely say go for it. You're totally going to be able to do it.

BB: How did you choose the recipients of your profits?

CW: We all had a meeting and talked about the different things we had in mind. We had the idea of having an animal-based charity and a human charity, and having both represented at each bake sale.

I work at Laurel Elementary, and they have had a plan for a garden on the books since I started working there two years ago. It was basically a financial issue. After the bake sale, they're over one-third of the way done with everything they need to make the garden. There's so many different organizations that are so worthy, I basically brainstormed a list and decided to go with a couple of them.

BB: I think I heard about the bake sale on Twitter, so that gives me the impression that you used a lot of social web tools to get the word out. Can you talk about how you did that? Lessons learned, what worked, what didn't work?

AR: Right from the start with Fat Bottom Bakery, and then later on the East Bay Vegan Bake Sale, we decided that the Internet was going to be a great tool and asset for us. We immediately got a blogspot set up for the bakery, and a presence on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. After seeing how well that all went for getting us exposure for the bakery itself, we decided to extend that to the bake sale.

It's amazing how much a little bit of networking on the Internet can go. The great thing is that all of these things are free. We haven't paid for anything, we haven't needed to, and we've reached hundreds of people. Twitter, especially, is so great because it's so minimalist, and yet allows you to get out what you need. It takes two seconds to retweet, so people tell their friends, and those people tell their friends. It's been a really, really good tool for us.

BB: As you know, I have a blog called Have Fun, Do Good. It's my impression that you guys are pretty much doing that: having fun and doing good. What do you think is the secret to that combo?

AR: I think the secret is to find something that you're interested in, find some good people to get on board for it, and just go for it. You can choose to be an activist for any number of different causes in any number of different ways. I've always thought of the bakery as being a way to do exactly that: having fun and doing good. It's one of the more fun ways for us to spread the word about veganism.

CW: It comes down to having that short list of things that we would be happy doing. It's being authentic to yourself and doing something that you're passionate and care about, but also bringing your entire personality to it; which hopefully has a little bit of fun in it.

BB: How can people who are listening get involved with the East Bay Vegan Bake Sale, or find one in their community? I think there are other ones going on across the U.S? Internationally?

CW: If you want to get involved with the East Bay Vegan Bake Sale, we are so excited and it would be wonderful. You can contribute in all kinds of ways. If you have a blog, just mentioning it on there is really great. You can bake something, and we always want people to come and eat something. You can email us at ebveganbakesale@gmail.com, or find us on Twitter at @EBVeganBakeSale.

If you want to find one near you, there's a website called veganbakesale.org, and they have a whole list of vegan bake sales. There are a lot more coming up as time goes by. If there's not one near you, you should definitely start one.

AR: Veganbakesale.org is also a really great resource if you are interested in starting your own bake sale. They have a lot of tips, tricks and advice. One more tip is, if you are going to have your own bake sale, when it comes time to price items that people have brought, price them higher than you want to. It's a bake sale, everyone will totally pay for it, and that is how you're going to make the most money for your causes.

Update: Last week Ashley and Carolynn had the 2nd East Bay Vegan Bake Sale and raised close to $1,200 for Animal Place and the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund.

Related blog posts and articles

Cross-posted from BlogHer.com

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Reflections from Off the Mat, Into the World: Your Wound is Your Gift

Yesterday I completed a five-day Off the Mat, Into the World Yoga, Purpose and Action Intensive led by Seane Corn, Hala Khouri, and Suzanne Sterling. It was a profound experience. I hope I can do it justice in words.

My biggest learning was to be aware of where your motivation to be of service comes from. Oftentimes, your desire to serve is rooted in your shadow, the parts of yourself that are difficult to look at, but want to be healed.

Sometimes the connection is obvious: you have an eating disorder, so you decide to work with people with eating disorders. Other times it is circuitous, your parents gave you things instead of attention, so you are passionate about reducing consumerism. Being aware of the stuff about yourself that you don't like isn't supposed to make you feel badly. It's the opposite. Your wound is your gift. It gives you empathy, and can reveal your passion.

For myself, I realized that one of the reasons I like to help people figure out what their purpose is, and to facilitate their taking action to live their big vision, is to heal my own lack of clarity and fears about living my big vision.

You might be thinking, why does it matter why I want to serve? The most important thing is to get things done! Results are absolutely important, but the idea is that you will become a more effective changemaker, activist, volunteer, or whatever you want to call your role in service, if you understand why you are doing it. Your awareness will help you serve from a place of compassion, rather than from judgement. Regular activism oftentimes requires one set of people to be wrong, and another to be right; conscious activism comes from empathy.

Many of the world's problems happen because of a sense of otherness based on things like class, race, politics, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc. The idea is to become aware of those dark icky parts in yourself that you project onto "the other," so that you can serve from empathy and compassion rather than from pity, anger, or arrogance.

For myself, I've had to look at the qualities I hate in Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, and ask myself, how do I have (and hate) those qualities in myself in some way? By learning to hold the light and dark parts of ourselves equally we will not only feel better, we'll also be able to serve better, and be less likely to get burned out.

One of yoga's roles in all of this is to help release the physical tension, stress and anxiety that difficult feelings and experiences can cause so that we can relax and feel them. By opening ourselves up to feeling all of our feelings, we will become more empathetic, compassionate, and grounded. By relaxing and slowing down, we will be more likely to respond to challenging situations, rather than to react to them.

In addition to all of this soul searching (bring your Kleenex if you do this training!) we also practiced nonviolent communication, and did some exercises around clarifying our purpose.

One of the last exercises was to:

1. List 2-3 qualities that your best friend would use to describe you.
2. List 2-3 ways you express these qualities.
3. Describe in a couple of sentences how the world would look if the problem that breaks your heart was solved. (I'm not sure if this was the actual prompt . . .)

Then, fill in the blanks below to create a purpose statement:
I intend to use my ( answers to #1), through (answers to #2) so as to create a world where (answers to #3).

For example, my purpose statement is:

I intend to use my insight, creativity and resourcefulness through big vision consulting, blogging, and cooking so as to create a world where people are clear about their joyful purpose and living it in a way that is fun and fulfilling for themselves, and beneficial for others.

As I said at the beginning, it was an intense 5 days and words aren't capturing it all, but if it interests you at all, I highly recommend it. Seane, Hala and Suzanne were some of the most grounded facilitators I've experienced, and are expert at integrating the spiritual and the practical.

For more information about upcoming trainings and events, go to http://www.offthematintotheworld.org/training.html

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Paloma's Nest Giveaway: TODAY I WILL . . .

Last month I reconnected through Twitter with a woman I used to babysit, Caroline Colom Vasquez of Paloma's Nest.

Not only did she grow up to be a lovely young woman, she also makes beautiful "handcrafted modern heirlooms" like Hearts of Gold, Good Eggs, and Text Bowls.

To celebrate this fun re-connection, we've decided to do a little giveaway of her TODAY I WILL . . . fill in the blank tiny text bowl.

To enter to win, leave a comment below completing the sentence, TODAY I WILL . . . with a have fun do good idea. Please be sure to include a way for me to contact you if you win (i.e. link to your website or blog, include your email with the comment, etc.).

On Tuesday, March 30th I will use a random number generator to choose one commenter to win a TODAY I WILL . . . tiny text bowl.

If you can't wait to find out if you won, and would like to purchase a TODAY I WILL . . . fill in blank tiny text bowl, $5 of your purchase will be donated to Doctors Without Borders to support their work in Haiti.

What have fun do good thing will you do today?

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Your Free, Fun Spring 2010 Big Vision Goals Worksheet

Last month I posted a worksheet for your Big Vision Goals for 2010 with places for you to write down three goals for 2010, three goals for winter, and three goals for the lunar month (new moon, Feb 13-new moon, March 15).

Well, the next new moon is coming up on March 15th, and the first day of spring is around the corner on March 20th, so it's time for us to review, revise, and recommit to our goals.

I've posted a new illustrated March/April/Spring Big Vision Goals worksheet, that my hubs designed, for you to download.

As you work on filling out your new worksheet, try to make your 3 Big Vision Spring Goals flow from your 3 Big Vision 2010 Goals, and your 3 Big Vision March/April Goals flow from your 3 Big Vision Spring Goals.

Here's an example for someone whose goal is to move to New York City in 2010:

Big Vision 2010 Goal
Move to NYC

Big Vision Spring Goal
Visit NYC for 1-2 weeks to look for a job, and an apartment.

Big Vision March/April Goal
Buy a plane ticket and ask my friend if I can stay at her place.

If this is your second time using the Big Vision Goal worksheet, remember, goals can change, which is why it's important to set aside time each month to reflect on what progress you made, or didn't make on your goals, and decide to either create new ones, or recommit to the ones you already made.

Don't feel badly if you didn't meet the goals you set for yourself last month, or if you realize that you want to change them. As my friend Danny Hobson once observed, even if you don't reach the goals you want, the act of making them, and trying to reach them will still take you somewhere.

If you need help filling in your sheet, you know I love helping people with their big visions!

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fun Dinner with Two Creative Women Entrepreneurs

Last night I had dinner at Cafe Gratitude with Jennifer Lee, creator of the Right Brain Business Plan and Kimberly Wilson, the creator of the eco-fashion line, TranquiliT. They're also two of my three co-collaborators on the creative women entrepreneurs retreat. Very inspiring ladies!

I am just finishing up Jenn's Right Brain Business Plan e-course, which was super fun, interesting and clarifying for me as I chart out the next phase of my business, Big Vision Consulting. I highly recommend you take her e-course the next time she offers it, and look for the Right-Brain Business Plan full-length and full-color book that will be published in early 2011. She also sells a Right Brain Business Plan e-book.

While at dinner, Kimberly showed me one of the very pretty pink infinity scarves that will be a part of the TranquiliT Spring collection, that you can see a sneak peak of here. In addition to being an eco-fashion designer, Kimberly is also an author of two books. She was in the Bay Area to promote her newest book, Tranquilista: Mastering the Art of Enlightened and Mindful Play, which I enjoyed very much.

As I mentioned last month, I am trying out being an affiliate for both women's businesses (the Right Brain Business Plan and TranquiliT) as a way to support writing Have Fun Do Good, and producing the Big Vision Podcast.

You can learn more about Kimberly's work by reading my November 2009 interview with her on Have Fun Do Good, or listening to it on the Big Vision Podcast. You can learn more about Jennifer's work by reading my January 2009 interview with her on Have Fun Do Good, or listening to it on the Big Vision Podcast.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

How to Help Chilean Earthquake Survivors

Last Saturday, February 27th, Chile was hit with an 8.8 magnitude earthquake. Yesterday it experienced a 6.6 magnitude aftershock.

If you're looking for ways to help the earthquake's survivors, the sites and blogs below have posted lists of relief organizations working in Chile:
Check each relief organizations' individual site for ways to support their work.

The Mozilla Blog has a list of organizations you can text donations to in their post, Earthquake in Chile: How to Help. Interestingly, mobile giving for Chile hasn't raised money as rapidly as it did for Haiti, according to the post, Chile earthquake relief: Cellphone donations struggle compared to Haiti on the Christian Science Monitor's Global News Blog.

In their post, Responding to the Earthquake in Chile, Idealist.org suggests checking the CrisisCommons Wiki for ways to help.

Finally, Angela Perkey, author of the Change the World, Change Your Life blog, writes about Cost-free Ways to Help Chile. One that I thought was lovely was:
"If you know of anyone with relatives in Chile, offer to bring them dinner or do anything else you can to provide some comfort and show that you care."
What are other ideas for how to help Chilean earthquake survivors?

Flickr photo credit: Puro Chile, es tu cielo azulado uploaded by Diego Salgado.

Cross-posted from BlogHer.com.

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