Friday, December 21, 2012

Looks Like We Made It - Now What?

This is a meaningful day for so many reasons that range from the light hearted to the heart breaking. On the upside, it marks our survival as a human species according to Mayan Calendar predictions of December 21, 2012 being the end of it all. But, even more importantly, I can listen with pride to Barry Manilow's Looks Like We Made it without embarrassment. (Non-tangential note: I (along with my entire family) are closet Barry Manilow fanatics, always have been,  but oh man those lyrics - pure magic). 

I have been a long believer in the Mayan Calendar and its prediction of December 21, 2012 as not necessarily the end of our physical civilization, but as a shift in our collective consciousness. As demonstrated by  recent personal and global circumstances, so many of us are being presented the opportunity to do the deep inner work of moving from our own personal darkness and into the light centers of our hearts and soul. To seek support outside of ourselves, and to love, simply love.  

Like so many people in the world, my heart is so heavy and deeply saddened by the events in Connecticut one week ago.  It is hard to comprehend how such a tragedy is even possible. And as a human being working to live a conscious lifestyle, I find myself even more perplexed yet simultaneously aware of this cosmic shift in consciousness that we are in the midst of.  This multi-faceted state of awareness where darkness and light are so completely intertwined, as we witness the tragedy being met with inspired acts of generosity, love, and support to a community that is simply evolved and epitomizes the way we all need to be coming together right now.  

The evolution of our spirits and higher selves is no longer a choice, but a natural calling for so many people right now to live with our hearts wide open, to have a faith in something greater than ourselves (however you wish to define that), and to realize we simply can't do it alone.  

Let the Mayan  prediction represent a time for us to release the doomsday fears, and for this to be a call for all of us to connect with each other in ways that we could never imagine. To hug one another closer.  To see our worlds as communities to nurture, love, support and grow together. To look each other in the eye for a bit longer than normal and literally see our reflections in every other person we encounter. To forgive those who have hurt us and have compassion with the fact that we are all doing the best we can, but collectively can now each strive to do better.  Where precious awareness is paramount and gratitude is our compass. 

So as we head into the holidays with our friends and family, let us be reminded of our collective human connection and the ultimate powerful impact of love, support and community. And maybe, just maybe, listen to a little bit more Barry Manilow. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

W3LL: Hippie Tested. Diva Approved

via: Austinist

Calling all people who want to look good, be good, and do good. A new kind of shopping is making its way into Austin and bringing sustainability to a whole new level. Dubbed W3LL People, this the ultimate skincare boutique located at The Bridges on South Lamar.

No risk of greenwashing here - from the materials used in the d├ęcor and building to all the ingredients in the products, W3LL was created to bring a fresh, safe focus on skincare by providing products with proven, medical-grade nutrients that actually work and are not harmful for the planet.

Most conventional skin care products have extended shelf lives because they are packed with preservatives and other "scientific" fillers and chemicals. As it turns out, not so good for the planet or your skin. With the skin absorbing over 80% of what it comes into contact with, it makes a person take pause. While Europe has placed a ban on certain chemicals in many personal care products such as parabens and phthalates, the U.S. government does not require safety testing or have any regulations in place. At W3LL they have culled a list of the top ten worst of worst chemicals that we all should avoid and that you won't find in any of the products they carry.

W3LL was inspired by three friends who met at UT. James Walker, Renee Snyder, M.D., and Shirley Pinkson all shared a common passion in fashion, beauty, sustainability and doing good. The owners of W3LL embrace the challenge of creating a sustainable shopping experience. "We are learning as we go, trying to be conscious and deliberate to do the right thing. There is a level of education that has to happen and we want to create a safe haven that is fun and modern, so people can focus on the good stuff - taking care of themselves and their skin," says Walker.

The space itself serves as a respectable example of doing all things green with a variety of materials and processes. From meeting LEED energy requirements with its AC/electrical units and finish-out, to the zero/low VOC paint, to the eco-resin packaging and display, to the reclaimed chairs bought at a local thrift store, to the recycled denim insulations visible to the eye, you feel better just walking into the space. Whether you are a hippie or hipster, everyone will find something friendly at W3LL through a variety of product lines that are natural, organic, and scientifically proven. A few to take note of:

Ren (based in the UK, pioneers in all natural skincare, excellent men series); Luzern (all organic, luxury offering); Arcana (started by a German chemist turned homeopath/naturalist, proven driven science)
OSEA (marine based, family owned in Malibu, good men series - rumor has it the Luke and Owen Wilson use this line to get their glow on); Raw Gaia - 100% organic, nice baby and children line

W3LL is also coming out with its own product line that is crafted and manufactured in Taos, New Mexico. Its anti-oxidant lip balm (loaded with pomegranate which is a natural SPF) includes PLA biodegradable packaging and its eyeshadows and blushes come in aluminum cans that can be brought back for a discount. They also give 5% of all profits to its environmental partner World Wildlife Fund. Perhaps this goes into too much information for those of us not necessarily wise to the sustainable way, but the calm, fun, and hip atmosphere of W3LL makes you feel good just by being there. The tagline says it all: "Hippie tested. Diva approved." Stop by the W3LL Exclusive Preview Party @ The Bridges on S. Lamar on Saturday, July 12 from 2-8pm and take part in the W3LL experience – your skin will thank you!

Monday, June 30, 2008

A New Day!

Now this is how to kick off a Monday!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The "Woo Woo To Do"

As I was catching up on my Oprah for the week, I noticed that in one week she had Dr. Oz talking about past lives on one day with Dr. Brian Weiss and New Age revolutionaries like Louise Hay, Martha Beck, and Sheryl Richardson on another day talking about daily affirmations and Law of Attraction. For the record, I think it is safe to say that Oprah has gone "*Woo Woo" people and in turn making it mainstream.

Now usually I am not one to claim credit (although I do seem to be doing it lately - but at least conscious of it:-), but I have been following these new age philosophers practically since birth. While not explicitely perhaps in the form of mantras, meditations, and master cleanse, I was born into a family where we were taught to believe in ourselves and see the affirmative in every possible situation. My grandfather gave each of his grandchildren a gift of "Grandpa's Hints For Life" listing the top 10 lessons that we should aspire to in our life - "Develop and maintain your self-image, YOU ARE THE BEST" is number 6.

As I watch Oprah telling stories how she passes by a mirror on a daily basis and says "Hello Sunshine" as her self-love mantra, a part of me feels a sense of relief because perhaps the "O factor" can be that shifting point to wake people out of the humdrum of their daily lives. And if she can look in a mirror and say she loves herself, why can't the rest of us?

So what does all this have to do with sustainability and living green? Well, perhaps it is a stretch, but sustainability is literally about being conscious of our daily choices. And being conscious of how we view and feel about ourselves is where the deepest perception must change for the true paradigm shift to occur. If we can't love ourself, how can we love our planet? I get how cheesy that sounds, but I like to call it the "inner green."

Now perhaps affirmations and mantras are not your thing. Trust me, it is easy to judge as "koo koo" (a step below woo woo) because it feels awkward, silly, and sometimes really hard to look at yourself in the mirror and say "I Love You." I mean I can't even write it without giggling. But it is the modern age people, so we can get creative. The best example of this is from my older sister, who likes to leave herself voicemail messages when she needs to add something to her to do list. But because affirmations are part of our blood, she adds a special flare that goes something like this.

(note: For some reason whenever my sisters are on the phone or in a crowd, their Oklahoma accents tend to come out. If you can't imagine that - think Texas with an Alabama twang - not a tried and true accent, but one I think they got from my Aunt Tricia. So please try to imagine this as she calls herself.)

"Hey, it's me. First of all, you looked FABULOUS today. Great color. I wanted to make sure and remind you to call _______________ regarding __________________. Ok, have a great day. And seriously you look amazing today. Love you!"

The thing is, she is totally serious! So if mirrors aren't your thing, try the "woo woo to do" approach of my sister, texting, or even twittering yourself. Better yet, check out these Louise Hay online wisdom cards - (or buy them here for the full mantra:-) the perfect user friendly affirmative reminder. Whatever it takes - embrace the momentary awkwardness, grab hold of that conscious spark, and feel a little bit of the inner green love!

*Editor's note: You will notice the use of "woo woo" used throughout this blog. I am perfectly aware that "woo woo" has numerous terms, many of which are perhaps inappropriate and embarrassing to get into here. But for the use of this blog, it is meant to imply spiritual, energetic, perhaps even "koo koo" and embodies thoughts that many consider to be too new agey and out there.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Caught In A Green Moment

When it comes to being green, I have come full circle and seem to be coming around again. My journey began back in college as a journalism and environmental science major. My first job out of college was actually with the Sierra Club in San Francisco. So I can fully appreciate all shades of green from the old school treehuggers to the eco-chic trendiness that is taking hold.

While I grew up in Oklahoma, I spent the early part of my professional career in San Francisco where I Iiterally rode the dotcom boom and bust. So I am aware and keen on the excitement surrounding new trends, innovation, and the feared bubble aspect of this new green wave.

When I moved to Austin, Texas several years ago, I tried to nurture a different side of my green roots by focusing on health and wellness. After five years being a co-owner of a successful pilates studio, my entrepreneurial inner voice started to buzz once again, and I found myself back in the Bay Area and in the throws of the new green and sustainable bubble.

I epitomized all aspects of green trendiness. I blogged about celebrities going green. I carried an eco-chic reusable bag and a Sigg reusable water bottle. I drove around via Zipcar and even took public transportation on occasion (which for anyone who knows me is somewhat unheard of). And while I was filled with inspiration by this new voice of sustainability, I grew homesick for my home in Austin and all of the things that make this thriving city with all its hip and trendy development still feel like a quaint small town. Austin has this unique sense of community that really embraces the ability to make real impact. This combined with a commitment to bring a little piece of the green bubble back to Texas served as the primary catalysts for my latest venture. Over the last several months I have adapted back into my down home vibe of being back in Austin with a subtle dash of eco-intent sprinkled into my everyday awareness.

Yesterday, I caught myself in a moment where I realized that I had once again become that image of green trendiness that I was back in San Francisco, only this time it was not forced but rather just a natural evolution. Below is a brief recap of my day. I realize that to most people I seem eccentric at best. Luckily, I was taught very early on in my life that one of the greatest gifts in life is to be able to laugh at oneself. Therefore I am comfortable taking actions that others may consider odd/silly/stupid, and if there is even the smallest chance that I might be able to provide a new perspective to someone, then it makes it worth it.
  • Morning: Wake up. Make a soy protein smoothie because I ran out of Ultimate Meal - bummer.
  • Mid-morning: Go for a run. Wearing my "Do Good Often" t-shirt. People are staring - either at my odd running style, my chest, the t-shirt, or all of the above.
  • Late-morning: Go to Whole Foods, grab a wheat grass shot, some ultimate meal, and a BPA free water bottle (I left my other one at the pool the other day).
  • Lunch: PTerrys to pick up all natural organic hamburger and veggie burger for my niece and nephew.
  • Afternoon: Attend the grand opening of a new eco-conscience skincare boutique - W3LL People (Hippie Tested, Diva Approved).
  • Late-afternoon: Prepare/decorate for couple's baby shower I am co-hosting. On tap: Blueberry Izzy's (with vodka), Sushi (veggie), Blueberry Shortcake Cupcakes (vegan), Veggie Platter, Cheese Platter, all served on recycled plastic PRESERVE brand (awesome!) and biodegradable corn starch plastic cups.
  • Evening: Party time - big success! An eco-party and no one even flinched:-)
So there you have it. A few green moments that felt effortless thanks to an increased accessibility on several levels and an ingrained awareness. I believe I may have even managed to fuel some giggles (either by me or at me - it really doesn't matter!:-)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's Day - Gifts and Reflections

It has been awhile since writing for my beloved Sunshine Chronicles. Like so many times in life, it seems the littlest things that bring us the most joy get pushed to the bottom of our priority list as the sea of change, opportunities, and life experiences come swooping in and claiming more importance.

Well, perhaps it is the forced introspection from the universe as claimed by Mercury in Retrograde, or more sadly, the soulful loss of a great American commentator and father force, Tim Russert. While I come from a highly politically passionate family, I am a closet politico sticking close to the personalities of MSNBC as my informants. So this surprising loss is heart wrenching and reflective. It is in times like these where I turn to writing which serves as my internal compass to keep me on course. Don't worry, no dramatic theme shifts from the original purpose of the Chronicles, but perhaps a childlike clumsiness as I discover a new voice that reflects the many changes in my life. But what better way to kick off again, than with a note on Father's Day.

To reinforce what I am so passionate about and what I believe are the pillars not just of The Sunshine Chronicles, but of the core areas I try to be aware in my life, I have a few gift ideas for the men in our lives. 

Health: The Wii Fit seems too good to be true. And while the visual of your father playing my be to much to bear, it seems worth the risk and benefit of his health!

Wellness: I am crazy for these Brainsync meditations you can download. They come in a variety of topics from deep sleep to weight loss. The tap into your subconscious brainwaves, so perfect for passive meditation (ie. sleeping). The also come in guided meditations as well.

Social Consciousness: No secret my love for Kiva.org, and what better way to spread the love and entrepreneurial spirit than a Kiva gift certificate. Better yet, select an entrepreneur from our BlueAvocado page, and join the journey!

Sustainability: What is Father's Day without a day of golf? Check out these eco-golf balls to bring some green to his game.

One more note on Tim Russert. I am always keen to look at the literal and emotional links connected to physical ailments and manifestations (sometimes to an obsessive and annoying degree to the loved ones in my life:-) And when reading the details of Tim Russert's tragic death, it is noted that he died of a heart attack, more specifically an enlarged heart due to coronary disease. In no way do I want to minimize the seriousness of this disease, but in thinking of my own reflections about this amazing man and watching far too much MSNBC in the last 24 hours, a big heart almost too simply and perfectly encompasses the impact this man had on millions of lives. He always seemed to be overflowing in love, especially in his commentary on politics. He was truly a model of integrity, love, passion, grit and humbleness that we each can strive for in reflecting on our own "karma footprint" we make in this precious lifetime. 

And to my own father, who in some many ways reminds me of the integrity, passion, and soul that Tim Russert epitomized, I know I speak for my entire family when we realize how blessed we are to have the love, friendship, inspiration, guidance, and grace all beautifully wrapped up in the perfect little package we call Dad. Big love PaPa! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

SXSW Singing A Sustainability Tune

Via: Austinist

Austin is about to incur a hefty carbon footprint as SXSW kicks off, but thanks to the folks at MakeMeSustainable (MMS), people have an opportunity to walk the sustainability talk. The 'Interactive Carbon Tree' was designed specifically for SXSW in an effort to mobilize attendees at the conference to reduce their collective carbon impact. Check it out here: http://makemesustainable.com/sxsw

MakeMeSustainable's innovative social networking tool has earned a finalist position in the Activism and People's Choice categories for the SXSW Interactive Web Awards. The Carbon Tree tool is also available to environmentally conscious musicians to help mobilize fans around sustainable goals. Jose Gonzalez is the first artist MMS partnered with and they've created a customized Carbon Tree designed for him and his fans: http://www.reverbrock.org/josegonzalez/.

Event organizers are also doing their part to reduce SXSW's impact by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from the City of Austin to negate the 263 tonne carbon footprint.

Austin Energy will retire 448 solar RECs on behalf of SXSW and use the proceeds from the sale to begin implementation of a local renewable energy project. One project under consideration is a solar charging station. The charging station would provide sufficient power to charge small devises such as cell phones and laptops, as well as electric scooters and bikes.

Greener Actions at SXSW 2008 include offering all delegates 24/7 access to biofuel made from cotton seed waste for their vehicles; eliminating all bottled water for staff and volunteers and using municipal water fountains instead; featuring environmental issues in the conference programs and offering tips to delegates on how to have a greener SXSW.

So be sure and join the collective impact of tracking your carbon reductions via the MakeMeSustainble SXSW carbon tree tool and get your green on while getting your groove on!