Friday, October 24, 2014

Be open to Big Vision photobombs

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

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

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

* I will be moving Have Fun, Do Good over to my website,  If you would like to receive my posts via email or RSS, the prompts to subscribe are at the bottom of

Friday, October 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All photos by me.

* I will be moving Have Fun, Do Good over to my website,  If you would like to receive my posts via email or RSS, the prompts to subscribe are at the bottom of

Friday, October 10, 2014

When your big vision dies . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All photos by me and the hubs. 

* I will be moving Have Fun, Do Good over to my website,  If you would like to receive my posts via email or RSS, the prompts to subscribe are at the bottom of

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Looking for Your Big Vision? Notice What "Sparkles"

Rain "sparkles" by me

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

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

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

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

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

Try this:

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

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

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

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

* I will be moving Have Fun, Do Good over to my website,  If you would like to receive my posts via email or RSS, the prompts to subscribe are at the bottom of

Monday, September 15, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Big Vision to-dos for you:

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

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

    Photo of Heater by In Her Image Photography

    * I will be moving Have Fun, Do Good over to my website,  If you would like to receive my posts via email or RSS, the prompts to subscribe are at the bottom of

    Saturday, July 26, 2014

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

    East Bay Express, Best of the East Bay 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Lisa Truong


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

    Will Allen

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

    Kathy LeMay

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

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

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

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

    Solutionary Women Panel

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

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

      Saturday, June 07, 2014

      Color = happiness

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

      • Cook
      • Connect 
      • Care
      • Color

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

      Saturday, May 31, 2014

      The healing power of . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Sunday, February 23, 2014

      Feeling Between Seasons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Monday, January 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Some of my answers to her questions would be:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Flickr photo credit: Colored pencils by Alan Cleaver.