Live More Own Less

Just writing I have set myself a new challenge this year - Live More, Own Less.

Simply, by the end of this year I want, at least, 1/3 fewer physical possessions than I have right now.

Why?

I want more freedom and mobility.  I want to be able to pick up and move at a moments notice.   I want to focus more on accomplishments and less on possessions.

Sometimes, (particularly if I’m looking through tabloids in the grocery checkout line) I think I may be one of the only people in the world who thinks walk-in closets, McMansions, and multi-car garages are grossly excessive. Bigger does not mean better.

Benefit of cleaning out stuff - finding a pic like this.

In the name of environmental activism and rational thought, I have declared a war on stuff. I am kicking materialism squarely in the nutz. I would rather be out in the world, experiencing it than trying to own it.

To meet my stripped down life goal I am giving away, or recycling one box of former belongings every week.  So far I’ve given away an estimated ¼ of my possessions - well ahead of target!  Goodwill has received most of the items because they also recycle textiles if they can't use them.

And here’s the really cool side effect– it feels great!

The more I’ve given away.  The better I’ve felt.  More liberated.  It’s become almost addictive. My tiny apartment looks better too.

That beautiful dress has a new home

I’m also consuming less because a) I loath shopping b) I’m thinking about every single item I bring into my apartment. I only buy what I absolutely need and concentrate on quality. If it won’t last forever, then I don’t want it.

If you’d like to try the same experience I recommend starting with formal attire.  Purge your life of formality. All of mine is gone! I don’t care how sentimental  it seemed – I have pictures.

I found a group called Working Wardrobes, which provides clothing for people seeking jobs, but also helps girls in need find dresses for formal occasions like prom and homecoming.  Working Wardrobes got all my dresses. Including the one and only pageant dress I ever owned. Some of the dresses were great, some I would rather forget (pageant dress), but now all will find new homes.

What have I done with my extra freedom?

IMG_0655

I have some incredible plans before the end of the year, but for right now I’ve: written a full length play, gone to museums to see the Endeavor Spacecraft and an exhibit of original photography from Queen Victoria’s reign, found Monarch butterflies and snakes in my neighborhood, seen the desert bloom after the rain, played with new baby niece while teaching other niece archery, etc.. All fun.

Can you name the museum?

Next Live More Own Less Project:

I have to find a new home for my old mountain bike, perhaps with a kids non-profit, but it needs to be refurbished.

 

Volunteer Journal #96 – An Extraordinary Senior

How many men? "All women should be married 2.5 times. The .5 is the most fun. If you know what I mean" - Sara, 93, Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles

Saturday morning I went to hang at a Cheviot Hills retirement center.  I was helping set up various games & activities when in rolled a 93-year-old-ball-of-female-awesomeness the size of a 50 lb. bag of sugar.  After she expressed her disdain for BINGO we agreed I would do her nails.

She picked a shell pink polish mentioning that "they" had just recently brought her here without letting her put on makeup or do her hair and nails. I am from the south - taking a woman above the age of 50 from her home without allowing her time to do hair and makeup is egregious. I had to ask questions.

LA 1929

The story that unfolded during Sara's impromptu manicure was extraordinary:

She was born in 1920, and moved to Los Angeles with her parents at the age of 9.  They took a train across the country from Washington D.C. and when they arrived in Los Angeles it was so tiny “it was a village” (see photo).

Sara's family lived in the Hollywood area and did their grocery shopping on Hollywood Blvd. They didn’t need a car because they rode the street cars everywhere.  I've only heard about these cars or seen ghostly remains.  The electric cars ran down the center of massive roads like Venice and Wilshire with passengers disembarking in the middle of the road.

Her family went to Santa Monica Beach on the weekends.  She says it was beautiful with no trash mucking up the view.

Rosie the Riveter

During World War II she went to work for Lockheed.  She was a riveter.  Yes, like Rosie.   She drove a Cadillac to work every day.  Meanwhile, her brother served in Europe, his last stop was Berlin before being shipped safely back home.

She was twice married but her husband had passed. She said that her second husband had been a good man.  The first one was not so much.  She told me that “All women should be married 2.5 times. The .5 is the most fun! Do you know what I mean?" Yes ma'am.

I finished her nails. She now had long beautiful elegant fingers with shimmery tips.

She asked me what I did.  I told her I was a writer and when she asked what I was working on now I told her about my new full length play.

She's hilarious!

Before I left she leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  Her eyes lit up and she said softly, “You must promise me you will keep doing what you are doing.  If you do you will be very successful.  And you will say,  'See Sara was right.'"  Then eyes twinkling she wheeled herself out of the rec room.

She had told me that she was the last of her family, so who brought her to the nursing home without her makeup?  The mystery is unsolved.  I'm simply going to have to go back.

Volunteer Journal #93 - Shoes For The Homeless

Shoes for the Homeless! This one was super easy!

Mission - Help get 1000 pairs of shoes to LA's homeless population.

Time commitment - 1 hour on Saturday.

Using my new LAWorks membership and their awesome events calendar (which I highly recommend every charity adopt) I found Shoes for the Homeless, Inc. in my area.  They needed volunteers to sort new or gently used shoes for the homeless on a Saturday.

Shoes for the Homeless was founded by Ira Goldbery, a Los Angeles podiatrist who has been in practice for 30 years. Ira works with the homeless regularly, and has seen many injuries caused by the lack of proper footwear.

My Shoes!

Ira is extremely organized. I got two emails confirming my involvement with the shoe sorting. When I showed up to sort shoes he gave me a quick 1 minute briefing.  That was it.  Then the 15 other volunteers, and I matched shoes, rubber banded matching pairs, and then sorted them by type.

In truth a bit of a ruckus did break out over whether certain types of ladies shoes were work appropriate or more suited to evening wear. I tried to stay out of it because I'm known to be inappropriate often.

It was over in a flash, and the shoes ready to be distributed to the estimated 58,000 homeless in LA via shelters like the Midnight Mission.

Side note - The number of homeless Veterans in LA surged by 23% last year.  I need to work with a homeless veterans group.  If anyone knows one please send suggestions through my Facebook page.

My Plays in D.C. & LA this Fall - Here is the Schedule

IMG-20111110-00080 Hello Everyone!

I am privileged to say that somewhere in the US my plays are up until at least November 12th this fall!

Here are the shows I know about, and links to buy tickets & plays:

In Los Angeles:

September 21st & 22nd, 27th & 28th - Santa Monica Reps' Wave Fest will be featuring "The Reaper" at 7 pm. Click here for tickets!

October 8th - November 12th at 8pm Whitefire Theatre Company will be running "Things Unsaid" and "Sweet Nothings" during a night of One Acts entitled "Fall Shorts." Information Here!

Meanwhile in Washington D.C.:

For one weekend only at the District of Columbia Arts Center Steel Spine Productions will present "Things Usaid" October 4th & 5th at 7:30 pm. Buy tickets here!

You can buy "The Reaper" here and "Things Unsaid" here or...

If you're in the UK (London) pick up a copy of either at the gorgeous The Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square.

I hope to see you guys at the shows!

Volunteer Journal #90 - Surfrider Bans Polystyrene

City Council Agenda - (Snore) I was sitting in a Manhattan Beach City Council meeting listening to a bunch of politicians gripe at Cal Edison, a utility, for shoddy service (Duh).  I’d rather be grocery shopping, doing laundry, lifting weights, cleaning the litter box, calling family members back, editing, any of the other 1 million tasks on my list that had to be done that day. It was quickly approaching 9pm. Not one of my chores were done. I had to work tomorrow.

But I kept my bottom in the seat because I was there in support of Surfrider, who in conjunction with a number of other environmental welfare groups, presented a case to the MB City Council to ban polystyrene containers within city limits.  In this case, numbers matter, volunteers in support of the ban were needed.

Polystyrene (often referred to as “Styrofoam”) is a know carcinogen, and as anyone who has done a beach or waterways cleanup can tell you – it’s everywhere. It’s a pain to clean up.  Polystyrene actually beats out cigarette butts in both quantity and annoying ridiculousness, which is hard to do. (FOR THE UPTEENTH TIME I HAAATTTEEE CIGARETTE BUTTS!!!!) But I digress.

At 9pm I was ready to bounce, but then things got exciting.

The Manhattan Beach City Council considers damning evidence against polystyrene.

The city appointed scientist finally stood to present their case – damning polystyrene toxic evidence followed damming evidence.  Supporters of the ban got excited.  Then a call for the community speakers. Surfrider representatives as well as community members got up and speak.  All in favor of the ban. Hurray!

But then a man in a blue shirt storms in...  Whispers circulate.  This is Michael Zislis of the Zislis Group - owner of several high profile restaurants in the Manhattan Beach area and the luxury boutique hotel Shade. Is he about to shut this meeting down, and say that the new regulations will hurt local business?

Actually... the opposite.  Michael prides himself on his green restaurants, hotels, his Tesla, and the fact that he's a free market guy. As he clearly states for the MB City Council all restaurants should support the ban on polystyrene.  He believes polystyrene is toxic and the cost difference between polystyrene containers and more eco friendly packaging is nominal – maybe one cent cost per unit.  All of his properties have made the shift.  The City Council members, clearly impressed, nod their heads in agreement.  One of their most prominent business owners has spoken.  Zislis, putting the nail in the coffin for Styrofoam, turns and quickly exits the hall.

 

I love LA! Congrats Manhattan Beach!

The ban passed with no problem.  Surfrider, Heal the Bay, the city scientists, the City Council of Manhattan Beach, citizens of MB,  volunteers, and Zislis should be proud.

I challenge people who live in smaller metropolitan areas to take up this kind of activism.  You live close to your local politicians, your kids might even play little league with the mayor's kid.  Why not take up a polystyrene ban?  Do you really want to get cancer from a cooler or bad take out food?

No! You Do Not!  And as Michael Zilsiz pointed out the cost difference is nominal.  So why would you continue to use something that pollutes and could poison you or grandkids?

Now if only I could ban cigarettes. Everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

The Los Angeles War Against Public Gardens

Los Angeles Garden

One of the most touching projects I’ve done in the last 89 volunteer missions was the day I worked with LA Green Grounds. In April we planted a garden in the food dessert that is South Central Los Angeles.  Angel Teger and her family allowed LAGG to plant the garden in her yard and the parkways (area in between the sidewalk and street) lining the property. 

In late July the 8th District of LA slapped Teger with a notice to pull up the garden in parkways in 48 hours or else. I contacted Angel for her side of the story.

Tell me about the moment you got the notice from the city…

It was a very upsetting experience.  It was Monday, July 22nd and my son and I had just gotten into my car to run some errands.  I started my car and was about to pull out into the street when I heard excessive and aggressive honking right behind me.  I looked out my driver’s side window and there was a man standing there, with no badge or uniform to identify him as a city employee. He said “I need to talk to you about your garden.”

 I wasn’t sure what was going on.  He said that his supervisor had called him over the weekend, specifically about my garden.  He even made a point of identifying other planting violations within eyesight of our corner, but said that it was our garden that was a problem.  He told me I had 48 hours to pull everything out of the parkways.  When I told him that was impossible – my husband works during the day and it’s just me at home, there’s no way I could do all of that in 48 hours, he said he didn’t care who did it, that it had to be done, and if I didn’t take care of it he would come back and take care of it himself.

What were you growing in this problematic garden?

We’ve harvested chard, kale, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, mustard greens, string beans, honeydew melon, chili pepper, banana pepper, bell pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, bok choy¸ nectarines and strawberries.  The cantaloupe will be ready any day now.

Tiny ones plant Angel Teger's Garden

So the city wanted you to pull up a food-producing garden. What was the condition of your yard before the LA Green Grounds event in April?

Our property sat vacant for over a year before we bought it.  The land hadn’t been cared for in so long, it was hard as rock and overgrown with weeds. People would leave their trash on the parkways – fast food containers, beer bottles, dog poop.  It was awful.

What did your neighbors think of this rouge garden and city violation?

The response from the neighborhood has been overwhelmingly positive.  It started on our dig-in day, with neighbors coming by to show their support – donating food to our volunteers, dropping off bottled water, and even grabbing shovels and digging in right there with us. 

Since we planted it (almost four months ago), we’ve met so many of our neighbors.  Some make a point of taking their daily walks past our house so they can see how things are growing.  A lot of the neighborhood kids come by and pick strawberries or take zucchini, squash, cucumbers or tomatoes back home for their families. 

Every day that we are out in the garden – without exception – someone stops to tell us how much they love the garden, or how they want to do the same.  It’s been a wonderful way to connect with people.  After all, it’s food we’re growing out there – the most basic of human needs.  It makes sense that an edible garden would bring us together and grow community.

A fast growing protest started on Facebook when Angel reported her community created garden was being threatened. 

The LA City Council, without explanation, backed down from its demand that the garden be pulled up. Why do you think they really backed down from pulling up the parkway?

I’m not really sure.  I don’t know why they had such a problem with it to begin with and I don’t know why they backed off.  But, I think that support for parkway gardens like ours and the urban agriculture movement in general has grown tremendously. (A shout out here for Ron Finley and his TED talk which is what inspired me to get involved with LA Green Grounds and made this garden a reality.) 

After we received the violation, Ron started a Facebook campaign urging supporters to contact Bernard Parks, the Councilman for my neighborhood, and ask him to save our garden.  I know that made an impact because Councilman Parks’ office immediately came out to my home and got involved.  Then Steve Lopez’s article came out in the LA Times, drawing attention to the fact that the Herb Wesson, City Council President, had vowed to change the laws to allow for parkway gardens TWO YEARS AGO and nothing had changed.

Ron Finley

What can we do now to bring food justice to LA and the rest of the country?

A simple step is for the [Los Angeles] City Council to update the parkway planting guidelines to allow for fruits and vegetables.  But, after two years, they’ve been unable to follow through. 

The City of LA has a really wonderful opportunity here to promote better health and nutrition for its residents by allowing us to grow food and build community in areas that really don’t have access to good food options.  South LA doesn’t have to be a food desert.  We can change that. 

Our little garden has come to symbolize a movement that the City of LA should embrace – growing your own food to take control of your diet and health; building strong communities in which neighbors look out for one another and share resources; reconnecting with nature and taking care of our own little piece of the planet while we’re lucky enough to be on it.  These are all good things that are worth fighting for, but we shouldn’t need to fight.

What happened to Angel is not unusual. 

But just like in Angel’s case, city and governments can always be pushed by the people. 

Food Justice For Everyone

Volunteer Journal #88 - Central Kentucky Radio Eye

Listening to the radio with my brother... When I heard about a little radio station in Kentucky called Central Kentucky Radio Eye, which uses volunteers to read printed news stories for the blind I immediately wanted to help out.  Besides being from Kentucky, I like to read :)

I contacted them and they had another suggestion - why don't I tell stories from TheGoodMuse and some new ones to break up their regular news programming.

Thus followed anxiety where I pondered over the right stories to tell and then how was I going to record it without knowing anything about recording.

Then I realized I needed to get over it.  I was doing this for other people.  No time for ego trippin'.

So one night I sat down at my computer, hit record on the GarageBand program, and tried to keep the cat off the pages I was reading.  You can hear the results.  One take, no edits, just me reading stories about growing up in Kentucky, living in California, and some adventures - volunteering and otherwise.  I hope it sounds okay.

You can listen to it live 5:30pm EST on June 25th, 2013 HERE

or

Here's a link to the stories:

My SuperChangeYourLife Interview

I just did an interview with Stanley Bronstein from Superchangeyourlife.com . We talked about what gets me up in the morning, my favorite groups I've worked with, what happens when it all goes wrong, what poverty looks like in America, and much much more...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMCxqG5X3t0&feature=player_embedded

Raegan Payne SuperChangeYourLife Interview

My Wish List for the 100

Me & My Buds In Alaska! I’ve only got a few projects left on my way to 100. As I’ve suggested before I have no idea right now what I’m going to be able to do or how I’m going to finish this list.  It will get done though.

These non-profits are on my wish list both national and international. I’d love to work with them someday:

Green Bronx Machine - - Stephen Ritz is an inspiration. Teaching kids how to grow their own vegetables in school and helping them become entrepreneurs in the process.

Living Lands and Waters – This Illinois group travels up and down the Mississippi cleaning up the river.  It reminds me of Huck Finn.

Surfrider – I’ve worked with Heal the Bay lots (technical term), but haven’t gotten to this national ocean saving organization yet.

Always Vote TheGoodMuse

Best Friends Animal Society – the Utah Sanctuary – They originated the Puppy Mill Protests I participated in years ago.  They rehabbed the Michael Vick Dogs.

Gleaners Community Food Bank in Southeast Michigan – I’ve worked with Food Forward in LA, but this group feeds the needed of Detroit with really innovative programs.

The Taos Land Trust http://www.taoslandtrust.org/pages/volunteer_info.html - Because much of my family has settled around this haunting beautiful section of New Mexico.

I’d love to work with Veterans in Murray Ky – Serving meals, telling stories, whatever they need.  This is where my grandfather hung out before he passed on.

Be the Match – Marrow/Stem Cell Donation – After 3 years on the donor list I’m a possible match for a 57 year old woman.  Will find out in a few months.

And the international groups:

Goonj – The ULTIMATE REUSE REDUCE RECYCLE ALIEVIATE POVERTY group in India – they are doing brilliant

Hi!

Mercy Ships -  These ships are all over the world.  They bring medical relief to remote villages who might not otherwise see a doctor.

Royal Canal Cleanup – In Dublin, Ireland. I was suppose to work with them while I was there last May, but got one of my notorious May sinus infections.  They still send me emails.  I still want to help.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - Because what little girl doesn't want to be a pirate?

TheGoodMuse Explains: FAQ Question - Why I Do This?

Princess Being Awesome “Why do you do TheGoodMuse?” “Why do this?” “What’s in it for you?” “What’s the ‘angle’?” “Who are you doing it for?”

I get asked the above a lot.  Often, with a fair amount of cynicism in the tone. Sometimes people ask these questions, and then cross their arms and lean back, like I'm about to try and sell them magic beans. A few times - they've looked at me with pity.

I think it’s interesting that I have to explain this, in this way, but here goes…

I did TheGoodMuse because it’s the right thing to do.  I did it because I believe that if you are in a position to do so it is your duty to lend a hand.

I did it because I needed help, so many times, so many many times, and it wasn’t available, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that way ever. (P.S. Big props to those who did step up and helped me over the years).

I did it because I wanted to help and always said I would when I became a big artist, but then realized – woulda, shoulda, coulda – if I wasn’t willing to help now when would I?

I do this because so many people want to help society, but less than 1% can write checks or go buy a table to a fancy fundraising banquet, luncheon, or event.  Everyone can give time.

I did not do it because I wanted to write a blog about what a good person I am. Totally debatable.

I did not do it because I naively thought I could solve all the world’s problems.

But I did do it to create a ripple in the pond.  And because - “Be the change.” Seriously. Be the freakin change people.

”How am I going to “capitalize” on it?” “How can I afford to do it?” “Do I realize there is not a market for this?”

I get asked a version of these questions several times a week at least.

I’m a southern girl. We don’t talk about money. It’s not polite. But just so I don’t have to be subjected to these again…

I am not a trust fund baby.  I am not a kept woman or a lady who lunches.  I am a doer.

I don’t make money on this.  I work other jobs.  This is an artistic pursuit.  An act of  and study on humanity.  A reason to get off the couch. My hobby. My passion.  I’m a good writer - this is how I release my artistic expression.

I’ve been smirked at because I haven’t monetized TheGoodMuse.  My question to the smirkers is: Why does everything have to be about money? You don’t get paid for breathing and still you do it.  Same deal.

Photo from the Vault. The little author in San Fran.

“Why don’t you film it?” or “Why don’t you have more pictures?”

I am actually doing the physical volunteer work, many times by myself.  I only have two hands.  Taking time away to film takes time away from the service project.  I try to take some pictures.  I hope that’s okay.

“How do you find the time?”

I’ve been denied jobs because of this one. HR finds the blog and then somehow think I can’t manage to have a hobby and work at the same time.

I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs or really socialize that much.  Think how much time is saved when you never have to recover from a hangover. And then think about what good you could do with that extra time.

I also don’t have kids.  I have a cat – Princess.  She is very low maintenance.

“Are you sorry for spending time volunteering, and doing this instead of writing another play, TV show pilot etc.?”

I can’t work all the time.  Again hobby, free time, release. I would not trade what I have learned doing this blog for a full paid 2 years Masters Degree from Oxford.

As artists, many of us wake up and wonder: “Did my art make an impact?”  “Did I change the way people think?”  In this project I know I’ve been 100 percent successful because I know I’ve impacted at least one person. I’ve heard from them.  I can live the rest of my days happy knowing that.

“Are you naïve?”

Look – It’s the right thing to do.

I believe that the good guy should win.  People / Non-Profits / Groups should be recognized for doing good and working hard.  Which they do.  With very little praise or notice.

I also believe: Fracking destroys drinking water.  Fur is evil and the people who wear it should learn to read. Vegetables = yum.  Reading is good. Princess is awesome. Comedy cures most ills. The sky is blue and water should be as well.

 

Taking it all in...

“What’s next?”   And most importantly: “How are you going to finish 100?”

I’m going to finish 100 volunteer projects by the end of the year.  I do have my list of charities I would like to work with someday, but I don’t know which exact ones will match my limited resources. I like finding new groups and look forward to the challenge.

There might be very little fan fare or celebration when I get this done.  But it will get done. And then I’ll probably keep going, but at a slower pace.

“Would I recommend someone else to try the same thing? “

Absolutely, there is no better way to explore the world than by helping people.

Remember -If you’re not going to do something now.  If you’re not willing to do something now.  You’re never going to do it.

Have a great day.

Volunteer Journal #87 –LA Green Grounds & Ron Finley

TED 2013 superstar, Our new crush. Last year when LA Green Grounds sent out a call for volunteer gardeners 5 people responded.

Then in early March 2013 a founding member of LAGG, Ron Finley, gave what is arguably one of the best inspirational speeches ever delivered on the famed TED Long Beach stage.

He spoke about planting gardens in South Central LA - making gardens, local food, and growing your own sexy and gangsta.  Ron’s TEDTalk went viral.

In early April LA Green Grounds sent out a notice for volunteers – in less than 4 hours they had 300 responses. And inconceivably enough, for any group of do-gooders, had to turn people away.

The before digging picture

Sensing this would be the case after I watched the speech 20 times I:

a) Contacted Ron Finley directly.

b) Set the LA Green Ground email as a special alarm on my phone so I could jump as soon as I got the volunteer request. I did jump – unfortunately while I was baking rosemary crackers, which burned.  I responded within 5 minutes and got into the April 21st LAGG Earth Day “Dig In.”

It’s a great world we live in when planting a garden in South LA is a harder ticket to obtain than a red carpet event.

For the April 21st Dig In LA Green Grounds renovated a yard and 3 sections of parkway – turning them into an edible garden.

http://youtu.be/4PO9CvnmZTQ

I dragged my friend Sara along – reminding her we had committed to 7/8 hours of work.  And work we did – we shoveled, and pick axed (in truth I’m not great with a pick ax), moved brinks, shoveled more, picked out weeds, put in baby plants, and shoveled some more. We had a fantastic time, though both of us had trouble lifting our arms that night.

Not to disappoint Ron Finley showed up and so did cameras. Lots of cameras.  A virtual paparazzi followed his every move whether demonstrating the proper use of said pick ax or pulling baby beet plants apart.

All the ladies with shovels say hey!!

While catching his breath near the mulch pile he told me the biggest difference in the last two months is that he slept before the TEDTalk.

The cameras, and all the attention are a bit odd to him. They are a bit odd to the entire tight knit group of LA Green Grounds founding members.  They were a renegade-grassroots-group-of-garden-graffiti-artists, and friends, that challenged the LA City Council. Now they’re rock stars. Almost overnight.

They’re learning. They’re growing. They all get they’re hands dirty. They’re trying to not let it get to their heads.  They’re still going to need you guys so don’t stop requesting to volunteer, find a renegade garden group in your town, or better yet – start your own.

To contact LA Green Grounds go to their website, be patient, and set an alert on your email. It's worth it!

 

Blue Fin Demand Increases & Supply Fades to Black

tunaIn a recent article “complacent” media was blamed for the lack of concern in Japan over the disappearing blue fin tuna. Apparently the Japanese public does not know that their consumption of blue fin is a major contributor to the species decline. Thus, in an effort to reach the people of Japan, one of the most educated and enduring cultures on the planet, I, a member of the media, am writing to say: Japan currently consumes about 80% of the worlds blue fin tuna, known as “The King of Sushi,” “Toro” or "hon-maguro." It is estimated that... Read Full Article on Celsias

Proud to be Cruelty Free

Cruelty FreeI would venture a guess that the majority of human beings want to use cruelty free cosmetic/beauty products. I don’t think people walk around saying, “I would like my perfume to be worn by a rat first please.” Or “I’m a smart sentient being who would never shove lipstick into my eye, but if you could please put lipstick into a monkey’s eye to be double sure it’s safe, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.” So why does animal testing on beauty products exist?

Animal testing on cosmetics began when the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 in response to manufacturers selling unsafe... Read Full Article on Celsias

Horses to be Slaughtered in the US for Meat

Lorie's HorsesThe U.S.D.A. (United States Department of Agriculture) is moving toward approving a horsemeat slaughterhouse in New Mexico within the next two months. This will be the first time equine meat slaughtered in the US will be offered for human consumption since 2007. Horses can be consumed in the US, but not slaughtered here so they have been shipped to Canada and Mexico. If you’re like me you might be shocked, and appalled that people could eat horsemeat in the US. And then, like me, maybe you’re also harkening back to those elementary school years (before I gladly became a vegetarian) thinking, “What was in those school hamburgers?!...Read Full Article on Celsias

Volunteer Journal #85 - The Polar Bear Jump!

Polar Bear for Polar Plunge! Here are the pictures from the San Francisco Polar Plunge I did benefitting the Special Olympics.

It was a great event and I had a blast! They ended up raising over $200,000 dollars for the Special Olympics in Northern California! I even got to meet some of the athletes.

A few things to look for in the slide show:

When I'm hugging the corporate bear in the white bikini check out the large bruise on my knee.  I dislocated my right knee lifting weights at the gym the week before.  It was so painful that I dropped the 10 lb. weight in my hand on the other knee causing the bruise and keeping me out of the gym for the last week.

When I dove under the water my friends lost sight of me and couldn't get many pictures.  Reason why - when I dove under my bikini top and bottoms slipped off a bit so I stayed under water until I pulled everything back on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNwkQozo19Y&feature=youtu.be

Thanks to all of my wonderful donors who helped me raise money for the Special Olympics and my first polar plunge.  As I've said before on Twitter and Facebook - you guys keep TheGoodMuse running with your well wishes and you've help me cross off a major event on my bucket list.

Here's hoping you all have a lovely week.

Stay tuned for the next 15!

Volunteer Journal #84 - The Crown Jewel Club Tea

If you see a flock of chickens on the sidewalk in Los Angeles you’re in a bad neighborhood. Roosters are illegal within the city limits.  People do bad things with roosters, the most innocuous of which is wake everyone up at sunrise. However, when I pulled up to the small elementary school south of Downtown LA for a tea party that’s just what I saw - derelict houses, and 2 Roosters managing a flock.

I was in South Central to help The Crown Jewel Club throw a graduation tea party for their newest graduates.  Somebody mentioned to me that this seemed kind of frivolous – tea parties weren’t necessary.  But instilling confidence in at risk girls, The Crown Jewel Club’s mission, is necessary, and this tea was to celebrate a group of 5th graders graduation from the program.

The Crown Jewel Club teaches basic etiquette and social skills to girls in small classes.  For example: before the tea party began the volunteers lined up opposite the girls and they practiced shaking hands, formal greetings, and eye contact.   You may think this is easy or natural, but I would beg you to try to get a 5th grade girl to look you in the eye and shake hands firmly.  As Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook mentioned recently the girls are instilled at an early age to lean back and not be assertive – it’s perceived as bossy or worse.  You could tell some of the girls were desperately fighting the need to look at the floor.

My job was beyond easy and fun - help set up the tea party and then sit down and help the girls practice conversation skills.  It went something like this [with body movements like this]:

Me: “Okay Guys... Sorry I shouldn’t call you guys… Ladies.  Okay ladies. [Taking elbows off the table and holding my shoulders back] What is your greatest dream? [Again don’t slouch].

Smart Girl 1: “I would like to be a vet. Errr…. Veterinarian.”

Me: “Cool… I mean that is wonderful.  So did I." [Gently taking the sugar spoon out of her hand before she used it to stir her tea, and then immediately dropping it against my saucer with a clatter as I almost did the same thing.] "What about you?” [Nodding to the second girl as a burn tongue on hot tea.]

Smart Girl 2: “I want to be a teacher!”

Me: “Great.  What subject?” [Stirring milk in my tea.]

Smart Girl 2: “Milk?”

Me: “Try it. You’ll like it.  It will cool down the tea. You won't burning the... it will keep you from burning  your tongue. Ah hmm. Yes. Now... What subjects do you want to teach?"

Smart Girl 2: “Math and Science.”

Me: “Are you serious? I mean that’s awesome!  You’re awesome.” [Smirking. Take that study which says little girls don’t like math and science.]

Well, I did my best.  I probably messed up the etiquette a bit.  I ended up telling them the story of my children's book.  They got excited because it's about a girl only a year older than them. They gave me tons of suggestions for the second book.  Maybe I'll use them...

My Interview with Trailer Talks!

Hey guys! I did an interview with this great little start up called Trailer Talks. Check it out here!

I wave my hands around a bit, but don't worry nobody was hurt while filming.