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! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Join the VegCookbook Club: Vegan Indian Cooking

Hello Have Fun Do Gooders!

Just wanted to let you know that we'll be cooking from Vegan Indian Cooking by Anupy Singla over at my other blog, VegCookbook Club.

If you've never cooked with us before, here's how it works:
Join us!


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

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

5 Ways to Know That Blogging is Part of Your Purpose

1. You know someone needs to read what you have to share.

If you have a feeling that there is a community of people, no matter how big or small, whose lives would be richer because of your writing, photos or videos, don’t wait. Start your blog. Don’t worry about the numbers. Write for your people. They are waiting for you.

2. You know you need to publish now.

One of the many awesome things about blogging is that you are the writer, editor and publisher all rolled into one. You decide what your people need to read at that moment. Publishing in magazines and newspapers or writing a book can reach a wide audience, but you have to go through gatekeepers. It can be a long time before what you have to say is heard. Blogging allows you to share right now, when you feel like your people need it.

3. You love to share stories, resources and things that make people smile.

Think about the blogs you love to read. I bet they either share personal stories, resources (e.g. how-to) or photos, videos and anecdotes that make you laugh and smile. If you have a message to share that needs to be heard now, you will reach more people if you inspire them. Be authentic. Be valuable. Be fun. Be hopeful.  

4. You love to connect with people

Unlike traditional publishing, blogging is social. It’s a two way street. You’re not going to reach your people unless you chat it up. You’re going to need to comment on other blogs, and reply to comments. You’re going to need to share your posts on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and “like,” comment on, re-tweet and reply to what other people share. You’re going to need to be a guest blogger and to host guest bloggers. If the idea of all that interaction makes your palms sweat, a more traditional publishing route might be best for you. If it sounds fun to you, put on your party hat and start mingling!

5. You love to create

To keep a blog going, you need to post regularly, at least once a week, preferably more. The more you post, the more likely it is that your people will find you. Plus, you’ll become a better writer, photographer and/or video-maker. Creativity is messy, unpredictable, frustrating and fun. Sometimes you can’t stop making stuff, and sometimes the well feels dry.

As a blogger, you need to ride the waves of creation and keep going, through crappy posts and brilliant ones. You’ll write posts that will get tons of comments, and others that will sit in silence. In the end, you have to write because you love it. You have to write because you know that someone out there needs your blog.

This post first appeared in elephant journal. Photo credit: My Light by YuMaNuMa

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

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Crafting Calm for Creativity and Contemplation

"If you only have five minutes [to craft] that's long enough to lift your heart, to raise your inspiration." ~ Rev. Maggie Oman Shannon

As some of you know, I produce the Arts and Healing Network's Arts and Healing Podcast where I get to talk with all kinds of people about the healing power of art. In the most recent show, I chatted with Rev. Maggie Oman Shannon about her wonderful book, Crafting Calm: Projects and Practices for Creativity and Contemplation.

Rev. Shannon is an interfaith minister, spiritual director, workshop and retreat facilitator, and lifelong crafter whose passion is exploring the relationship between creativity and spirituality.

A former magazine editor and creativity coach, she is the the author of five previous books, including Prayers for Healing. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and young daughter (who also loves to craft), and currently serves at the Spiritual Director of Unity Spiritual Center of San Francisco. You can connect with Maggie on her website, on Facebook and on Pinterest.

It was lovely to talk with Maggie, and learn more about how she uses crafting for creativity and contemplation. I think you'll enjoy the interview ( :

If you can't see the player below, you can listen to it on the Arts and Healing Network's website or on iTunes


The next Juicy Blogging E-Course is September 5-October 3, 2013!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Have Fun, Do Good Birthday Fundraiser!

I'm going to be 44 on August 19th (can you believe it?). The 19th is also the 8th anniversary of Have Fun * Do  Good! A big thanks to all of you for reading (:

To celebrate my b-day, I've created a fundraiser on Crowdrise. My first one!

I mentioned last month that I've been doing some Big Vision Consulting for Rockwood Leadership Institute. I've been so impressed with their work, and the transformational impact that their Art of Leadership trainings have had for social change leaders that I am raising money to send one woman from a grassroots organization to their Art of Leadership for Women in Racial Justice and Human Rights in October.

The training brings together women of color and white women leaders who are working for education, immigrant rights, reproductive justice, environmental justice, indigenous communities and other racial justice issues.

Given what happened with the Voting Rights Act in June, the Zimmerman verdict in July, and the existence of things like New York's stop-and-frisk policy, we need leaders working for racial justice and human rights to be able to sustain themselves over the looooooooong haul.

The Art of Leadership training helps social change leaders clarify their life purpose, gives them skills to bring their lives back into balance, and teaches them how to partner and collaborate more effectively.

I'd really appreciate it if you helped me celebrate my 44th birthday, and Have Fun * Do Good's 8th anniversary, by sending a woman leader working for racial justice and human rights to the Art of Leadership.

Thank you!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Five Minutes of Fame in a Student Carbon Offset Documentary

A looooong time ago, in March 2007, I wrote a blog post, What Do You Think of Carbon Offsets? which led to a local magazine including me in a piece, Carbon Credit Report, in its August 2007 issue.

Honestly, I hadn't given carbon offsets much thought again until this past May. A high school student called to ask if I would be in her school project: a video about carbon offsets. I thanked her, and told her that I wouldn't be a good person to interview because I don't buy carbon offsets anymore.

A few days later, she called back to say that she'd gotten the same response from a couple other people she'd approached, so she decided that asking people why they don't purchase carbon offsets was an angle worth pursuing. Smart cookie!

She did a great job with her assignment. She interviewed five people: me, Tom Kelly (Executive Director, KyotoUSA), Erin Craig (CEO, TerraPass), Kathryn Sarkis (Marketing Manager, TerraPass), and Todd Jones (Center for Resource Solutions, ‎Green-e Climate Manager).

It's only 12 minutes long, so give it a watch, and support a student filmmaker. She's our future!


The next Juicy Blogging E-Course is September 5-October 3, 2013!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Compassion is Not Kumbaya

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” ~ Dalai Lama
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” ~ Mother Teresa
“It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.” ~ Mohandas Gandhi 
"Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future." ~ Nelson Mandela
I'm passionate about the work of nonprofits, socially responsible businesses, and activists, but lately I've been feeling like in order to solve our world's challenges, we need to do more. We need to change who we are on the inside, as well change as our systems, laws, policies, and businesses.

How do I change?

I can be a very judgemental, angry and self-centered person who would prefer to do things her way. It feels safer that way. To be compassionate, kind, generous, and collaborative feels like a bigger risk. To love is to be vulnerable.

It is a challenge for me to not judge someone who doesn't believe in gun control, or not be angry with the corporate customer service rep who can't answer my question because he needs to keep to a script, or not be selfish when I'm worried about finances, or be collaborative when I'm sure I know the best way. Those feelings come easily. They feel natural.

How do we change?

How do we make a cultural shift so that being compassionate, kind, generous, and collaborative are something we all aspire to practice each day? Not because we want to be "good," or because our religious or spiritual beliefs tell us we "should," but because we know in our hearts that it is what we need to do at this moment in history.  Because we know that being more compassionate, kind, generous, and collaborative every day is a practical practice we need to survive.

Judgement, anger, selfishness, and independence have their roles to play, but it feels like as a culture we're tipped too far away from values that may be viewed as old-fashioned, do-goody, or religious when in fact they are just plain essential.

How do you remember to be your kinder self?

Over time I've found that certain things help me to be a kinder, more compassionate, generous and collaborative person: meditation, exercise, eating healthy food, reading inspiring books, spending time with kind-hearted people, being in nature, creating things (e.g. cooking, crafting, blogging, podcasting), being exposed to new people, places and ideas, and being of service (e.g. volunteering). Sometimes the effect lasts a few hours. Sometimes a few days. Sometimes it's easier to remember to be my kinder self. Sometimes it's not.

It's a practice.

A practical practice.

For my happiness, and the happiness of others.

All photos are from Wikimedia Commons: Mother Teresa, Mohandas Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela.


The next Juicy Blogging E-Course is September 5-October 3, 2013!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

VegCook with the VegCookbook Club in August: Betty Goes Vegan

Just a quick note to let you know that in August the readers of my other blog, VegCoookbook Club, will be cooking from a fun-looking VegCookbook, Betty Goes Vegan: 500 Classic Recipes for the Whole Family by Annie and Dan Shannon.

I've tried two recipes so far: the Paglia e Fieno and the South American Corn and Quinoa Summer Stew (pictured above). Both were tasty! You can view the recipe for the South American Corn and Quinoa Summer Stew on

If you’ve never cooked with my VegCookbook Club before, you can read about how to participate on the VegCookbook Club’s About page, and read about members’ experiences on the Love Notes page. You don't have to be vegan, or vegetarian to join.

Everyone is welcome!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Inspired Blogging for Social Change (Video + Slides)

Hello Have Fun, Do Gooders!

This summer I taught a webinar about Inspired Blogging for Social Change for The Mission List. It includes lots of tips and examples of how individual bloggers can have fun, do good, and share their story to realize their big vision for a better world.

You can watch the video on the Mission List website, or on the player below:

I've also uploaded the slides to SlideShare, if you want to flip through and/or download the presentation:

There are links at the end to all of the inspiring blog examples. Enjoy!


The next Juicy Blogging E-Course is September 5-October 3, 2013!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Transformative Leadership Training for Social Changemakers

Hello Have, Fun Do-Gooders!

One of the reasons you haven't heard from me as frequently lately is that I've been busy doing some super fun Big Vision Consulting for Rockwood Leadership Institute.  I've known about Rockwood's awesome work for years, and am super excited to be working with them.

If you listen to my Big Vision Podcast, you may have heard my January 2013 interview with Rockwood's President and CEO, Akaya Windwood. She recently wrote a powerful piece in response to the Zimmerman verdict that I highly recommend.

Rockwood has a bunch of Art of Leadership trainings coming up for nonprofits and social changemakers that I wanted you to know about, including special trainings for Women in Racial Justice and Human Rights, and for Philanthropic Leaders. You can apply for all of the trainings here, and see the fee scale for tuition here.

Here's the 2013-14 Art of Leadership schedule, so far:

September 15-19, 2013
Art of Leadership
Edith Macy Conference Center
Briarcliff Manor, NY

September 16-20, 2013
Art of Leadership
Westerbeke Ranch
Sonoma, CA 

October 21-25, 2013
*7th annual Art of Leadership for Women in Racial Justice and Human Rights

View testimonials here.
Mayacamas Ranch

Calistoga, CA  

November 4-8, 2013
Art of Leadership

Earthrise Retreat Center
Petaluma, CA

December 9-13, 2013 
Art of Leadership
Mayacamas Ranch
Calistoga, CA

January 13-17, 2014 Art of Leadership
Westerbeke Ranch
Sonoma, CA

February 24-28, 2014  
*10th annual Art of Leadership for Philanthropic Leaders 
Earthrise Retreat Center
Petaluma, CA 

March 24-28, 2014
Art of Leadership
Westerbeke Ranch
Sonoma, CA

April 7-11, 2014
Art of Leadership
Edith Macy Conference Center
Briarcliff Manor, NY

You can follow Rockwood's news on Facebook, Twitter, and on its blog. If you have any questions about the trainings, lemme know, or contact the lovely Renee Yang Geesler at (510) 251-2500 x 115, or at training AT rockwoodleadership DOT org.

Please share with your have fun, do good peeps!

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Celebrate the People You Love While They're Around

I'm going to a memorial service for a relative this week. I'm sure that people will tell many stories about all of the things they loved about him. Unfortunately, he won't get to hear them.

This spring, I received the most amazing gift. My friends Julie, Rachel and Tara threw a party for me.  Just because.

It wasn't a birthday party, or an anniversary party, or a congratulations party.  It was a celebrate me party. How amazing is that?

It was wonderful. Not everyone I would have hoped could have been there could come, but many did. People who warm my heart. People who I hadn't seen in years. 

We laughed a lot.  There was a bowl on the dining table with prompts on strips of paper like:

People told hilarious stories, and I'm so glad that I got to hear them, and laugh with them about my, uh, uniqueness.

Sadly, parties like these don't happen often enough, at least when we're alive. In fact, when the invite was sent out, some people emailed back asking, "Is Britt sick?" "Is something wrong?"

Think of someone you love, love, love today whose life needs to be celebrated. Just because. Throw them a party. It will one of the most life-changing gifts you can give.

Original photo is Firework  from Wikimedia.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Zen Under Fire: Big Vision Podcast Interview with Marianne Elliott

"The difference that I could make was really much less grand than saving the world, but it was in many ways much more powerful because it was actually something that all of us can do. All of us always have the opportunity to serve the person who is right in front of us." ~ Marianne Elliott

This month's Big Vision Podcast features the lovely Marianne Elliott. Marianne is a writer, human rights advocate, and international yoga instructor. Trained as a lawyer, Marianne helped develop human rights strategies for the governments of New Zealand and Timor-Leste, has worked as a Policy Advisor for Oxfam, and spent two years working in human rights in the Gaza Strip prior to her time in Afghanistan, where she served in the United Nations mission (2005-2007).

Her memoir Zen Under Fire, tells the story of her work and life in Afghanistan. Marianne writes and teaches on creating, developing and sustaining real change in personal life, work and the world. Marianne lives in a converted church above the zoo in Wellington, New Zealand, where she writes to the sound of roaring lions and singing monkeys.

You can learn more about Marianne and her work on her website,, follow her on Twitter at @zenpeacekeeper, and see if she is coming to your town on her book tour at

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.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wanna Give a Free $25 Loan to an Entrepreneur on Kiva?

When some friends got married recently, they didn't set up a registry because, "We are in our 40s and already have lots of stuff." Instead, they asked that we do something kind for someone else. I decided to make a loan to, a nonprofit organization that facilitates regular people (like you and me) making micro-loans to entrepreneurs across the globe.

I liked the idea of giving a Kiva loan as a wedding gift because once the loan is repaid, it can be re-loaned to another entrepreneur, and another and another, so it's a wedding gift that will keep on giving. I've made 14 loans over the past 6 years, and they've all been repaid 100%, except of course, my newest loans, which are in the process of either being funding, or repaid.

As a Kiva lender, I can invite new lenders to make a free $25 loan. If you've never used Kiva before, and want to try it out, just click on the link below, and you'll be able to make a $25 micro-loan to an entrepreneur for free:

And here's the *really* cool part. If you use the link above to join Kiva, and make the free $25 loan, then I get $25 to loan too! It doesn't get more have fun, do good than that, does it?

Photo: Sophea Chum. A loan of $600 helped Sophea to purchase silk materials for weaving.

Monday, June 03, 2013

News Media: Take Responsibility for Your Influence

cat watches cat on tv
I'm tired of the news.

Browsing the headlines on The New York Times, CNN, USA Today, and Google News' sites is one long litany of horror: Murder. Rape. Cruelty. Lies. Selfishness. Riots. Fighting in Congress. Natural disasters.

I used to watch The Daily Show to feel better about the world, but even Jon Stewart has had enough, and is taking a break.

Why does positive news about people being kind, problems being solved, and hope being rekindled have to be allocated to a separate site, like Positive News, Good News Network, and Happy News, or to its own section, like HuffPost Good News?

So many of the people I've talked with lately seem overwhelmed by the amount of challenges our world is facing. Things will not get better unless we see news stories that describe our challenges and possible solutions. We need to document moments of despair and of hope. Together. Integrated. Not on a separate site, or in its own section, like it is a special interest.

I keep thinking about the recent March Against Monsanto to prevent the spread of genetically modified food. I think we need a March for Mature Media to protest the spread of only fear-based, negative, and violence-oriented news, and to promote the reporting of both good and bad news stories.

According to a Pew Research study, Americans are spending more time following the news.  It's time for the news media to take responsibility for its profound influence as the storyteller of our time.

Photo by cloudzilla.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Why "Be the Change That You Wish to See in the World” Really Works

be the change that you wish to see in the world

You've probably seen the Gandhi quote, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” somewhere. You might even have it tacked up on the wall of your office, or home.

Well, guess what? It really works.

Last week, I started a (free) Coursera class, Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence, which I'm loving.  One of the modules is about emotional contagion. Basically, how you feel and manage your feelings affects other people. If you go into work feeling sad, or angry, your co-workers may start to feel the same way. Even if you put on a happy face, if you're feeling down or discouraged inside, they will pick up on it.

In the same module, they talked about social contagion, which means that if you change your behavior, there is a good chance that someone you know will change his, or her behavior. Also, your behaviorial change has the potential to impact one of your friend's friends, or a member of her social network, even if you've never met him. There is also some evidence that your behavior change could influence behavior change three relationships out!

How cool is that?

So, let's all think about the change we'd like to see in the world, and figure out how our behavior can be part of the change. It will make a difference!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Celebrating Grandmother Power: Interview with my Gram

The Grandmother Power Blogging Campaign is a collaborative effort of hundreds of bloggers writing about how grandmothers are changing the world from May 7-14, 2013. It's being organized by Tara Mohr (creator of the Ten Rules for Brilliant Women Workbook), and Paola Gianturco (author of Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon). You can read all of the Grandmother Power posts, and add your own on

"Some people don't even begin to use all the power they have." ~ my Gram
"I think the answer to everything is education. You can try to re-educate some of the older people, but it's not an easy task. When people are older, and have established ideas, it's pretty hard to re-learn. It's better to learn to begin with, than to have to re-learn." ~ my Gram


My grandma is one of my favorite people in this world. She's ridiculously fun, and she's always doing good (e.g. driving friends to doctor appointments, taking care of friends who are sick, building community in her apartment complex by organizing parties). To celebrate Grandmother Power, I asked her about how she thinks the world has changed, and what it needs in order to be better today.

How do you think the world is worse, or more challenged than it was when you were growing up, or a young adult?

Well, I think some of the value systems have changed, and people are not held to quite as high standards as they used to be. I think the fact that there is a greater population makes it harder to keep things under control. As a result, I don't think the world is in as good a place as it was when I was younger.

In what ways?

I think there's more crime. I think a lot more young people are not living up to their potential, like they could.

What do you mean, that they're not living up to their potential?

I think many of them could go on, and go to school, and use their talents. A lot of them are doing that, but a lot of them aren't.

What do you think is better in the world than it was when you were growing up, or as a young adult?

Well, I think communication is tremendously better. Everyone is able to be connected easily because of the communication we have today. It's easier for everyone to get information.

How are we going to make the world better?

I think making the world better starts with the family. The value system in the family. It goes back to being good parents, mothers and fathers giving out value systems in the formative years, when it's important for children to learn the difference between right and wrong, and what's good and bad.

What are some of the values that you think have changed over the years that need to be passed on?

Respect. Young people today are not quite as respectful, or listen to their parents as they used to. I think young people today are a lot more independent. They go ahead and do what they want to do despite, sometimes, whether their families agree with them.

From what I see, there are a lot of adults, like in Congress, who are disrespectful, so is it necessarily the young people whose fault it is?

I agree with you one hundred percent. It goes into industry, and like you said, Congress, and different places where value systems have changed.

We need to change how we educate young people, but it's going to be a long time till they are going to be making the decisions.  What do you think has to change with how adults are doing things today?

Unfortunately, sometimes, by the time you're an adult, your behavior, your ideas and what you do is pretty well established, and sometimes pretty hard to change.

We're out of luck, unless we educate the next generation differently?

I think the answer to everything is education. You can try to re-educate some of the older people, but it's not an easy task. When people are older, and have established ideas, it's pretty hard to re-learn. It's better to learn to begin with, than to have to re-learn.

So, you think what we need is to have better education so that young people learn to respect other people's needs as much as their own, and become more of who they're meant to be?

Absolutely. Understand their abilities and make use of them, which I think a lot of young people do today, but I still think there's more room for others to do it.

I feel like these days young people are very smart, they have a lots of ideas, they've grown up in a society where people invent things, and they come up with companies, or they make an app, and it turns into something. Is that what you mean, or is it that they need to learn to make the most of their potential to change their community?

I think they need to learn to make the most of their potential, and then out of that potential often comes the results that you want. They need to find out what abilities they have, and use them. Some people don't even begin to use all the power they have.

My last question is to complete this sentence (taken from Oprah's Super Soul Sunday interviews), The world needs _________________________.

More peacemakers and more understanding of each other.

I think so too.


You can read all of the Grandmother Power posts, and add your own on

Monday, April 29, 2013

Out of the Spiritual Closet: Organizers Transforming the Practice of Social Justice. Big Vision Podcast Interview with co-author, Kristen Zimmerman

This month's Big Vision Podcast guest is Kristen Zimmerman, one of four co-authors of the Movement Strategy Center report, "Out of the Spiritual Closet: Organizers Transforming the Path of Social Justice," along with Neelam Pathikonda, Brenda Salgado, and Taj James.

As a Senior Fellow at the Movement Strategy Center, Kristen leads the development of the Center's movement building practice and methodology. Her primary focus is the integration of transformative practice with strategy, movement building and alliance building technologies, and the use of story and narrative for movement building. She currently serves on the design team and faculty of the NoVo Foundation's Move to End Violence — a 10-year movement building initiative to end gender-based violence. She lives in Oakland with her 8-year-old son, Jonah Ravi, and her partner, Adrienn.

Below are links to the organizations Kristen mentioned during our conversation:

You can download a free copy of "Out of the Spiritual Closet: Organizers Transforming the Path of Social Justice," from the Movement Strategy Center website, and connect with three of the report's authors on Twitter and Facebook:

You can listen and subscribe to the Big Vision Podcast via iTunes, or on the player below (if you are 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.