White Male Embargo: An Introduction (guest post)

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I’ve had the seriously cool opportunity this past month to get to know Corvus Elrod, a Portland gaming expert, technology educator, and overall seriously interesting man who’s taking personal strides to assess his role in the world, and learn from this experience and those around him who don’t share the same skin color and gender. After telling me about a project he is kicking off tomorrow called The White Male Embargo, I was instantly hooked and asked him to introduce this to my blog readers, and encourage readers to follow him and get inspired…

 

I’m embarking on a bit of an adventure this Sunday when I begin a media-wide White Male Embargo. I’ll explain that fully, but let me start with some background.

I’ve been experimenting with restricting my media consumption in interesting ways for a couple of years now. It began with the Low Violence Challenge. For one year I didn’t play any video game that relied on the depiction of character-on-character violence as a major gameplay mechanic. The following year I implemented the Rule of Two. This rule involved what I call “geek culture” movies – action, sci-fi, fantasy, super hero, and animated films. I would only individually pay to see any of these types of movies where at least two of the three people in the roles of writer, director, and lead actor were women.

The purpose of these experiments was twofold. Firstly, I’m tired of seeing the journey of the white, western, male repeated in my media over and over. I’m tired of stories about triumph over adversity – especially when the route to that triumph is littered with the bodies of the protagonist’s fallen foes. The flawed idea that every “good” story is a reflection of the hero’s journey has become bland gospel in geek culture and it perpetuates the harmful notion that the experience of the white western male is a universal one that everyone can – and should – relate to.

Secondly – and related – I no longer wish to financially support this harmful shaping of our culture. As a call-back to a hashtag I started on Twitter during the Low Violence Challenge, our media conglomerates need to #BeBetterStewards.

I was a bit nervous going into both of these year-long experiments. I was going to be cutting myself off from conversational touchstones among my friends. I was, I knew, not going to play a few big game releases and see quite a few movies I’d otherwise pay to see. But as it turned out, I didn’t feel constrained at all. I felt freed. I sought out interesting media to consume, I heard more diverse voices, experienced more diverse approaches. So this upcoming year – as marked by my birthday – I’m upping the ante with the White Male Embargo.

This terms of the embargo are simple: During the Embargo I will not buy or rent any media – including books, movies, music, board games, and video games – created by white men.*

Further, as I am both white and male, I will not be posting any content that I, myself, create during the embargo. Any and all posts I make on public social networks during the embargo will be re-shares of content by non-white-dudes. Anything I feel the need to express publicly during the embargo will be posted to Tumblr, but post dated for one year from the date I post it.

You’re more than welcome to join me, or simply to follow along. My Tumblr is at http://corvuse.tumblr.com and my Twitter handle is @CorvusE.

*Excluding the selections of the Book & Movie club I belong to, which were proposed by a group of 4 women & 2 men (including myself) prior to my coming up with the embargo.

EcoGrrl-icious

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proceserv-1Helluva week, y’all. For those who regularly read my blog, some interesting stuff occurred last weekend that, if nothing else, has reminded me how much of an incredibly kick-ass strong bond my husband and I share with each other. I believe his favorite nickname for me right now is Wonder Woman. I am deeply appreciative of who he is, as well as two close girlfriends who have been unconditional allies over the years who supported us :)

Here’s what’s up on the EcoGrrl radar this week…

* Loving this article on Backyard Orchard Culture!

* In perfect timing for Thanksgiving, this Pumpkin Pie Fruit Leather sounds soooo delish. We’ll see if I have leftover pumpkin puree from our harvest (after making pie!) to try this out! Oh and definitely check out what Family Yield’s blog has to

* The Keystone XL pipeline is not just an environmental tragedy waiting to happen, it’s also a socioeconomic one already in progress, and continuing to devastate communities. This On Earth article tells the story of Port Arthur, Texas, and what the industry has already done to hurt the inhabitants of this town.

* Confused about the eco-friendliness of buying a Christmas tree? There is now SERF (Socially & Environmentally Responsible Farm) certification and you can go to their website to find out who near you has it to make a smart choice this season. Not one in your area? Google “sustainable Christmas tree” and the name of your state, and there are usually listings for those who at least use low or no pesticides.

* I am LOVING Ted Turner’s updated ten commandments.

* While I’ve read some articles in the past, I’m incredibly heartbroken reading about the extent of the little value for female life in India and China.

* And finally, I love blog posts about having kids that are less mushy-squishy and more upfront and honest about the experience from all sides. Things Learned in the First 3 Months was a way cool, funny, and touching, post. #5 gave me the giggles as my hubby and I have recently bought a few kids’ books from our own childhoods over at Powell’s that we’ll read to our little one in the future, and a bunch of his I’ve never heard of!

“Getting down on all fours and imitating a rhinoceros stops babies from crying. (Put an empty cigarette pack on your nose for a horn and make loud “snort” noises.) I don’t know why parents don’t do this more often. Usually it makes the kid laugh. Sometimes it sends him into shock. Either way it quiets him down. If you’re a parent, acting like a rhino has another advantage. Keep it up until the kid is a teenager and he definitely won’t have his friends hanging around your house all the time.”
~P.J. O’Rourke

Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and encouraging men to follow their instincts)

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I talk to many of my coaching clients, especially men, about trusting their instincts and drawing the ability to utilize them in decision-making, even in the most data-driven environments.

Listening to one’s gut is often attributed to women, as if we are the only intuitive creatures out there, since society often speaks in horrendous stereotypes of women as the emotional creature and men as the logical creature, when it couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone I’ve coached, everyone I’ve worked with, hell everyone I’ve known has the capacity for both, and intuition is definitely something that everyone can work on.

Today though I bring up the men, because they often don’t get the time or encouragement in our professional world to understand how one’s gut can be a strong tool in the workforce. And no, I’m not saying leave data behind, what I’m saying is, when you know something “just doesn’t feel right” in a situation, that you must give yourself permission to listen to it and investigate those feelings that are there for a reason.

Man will have replicated his own intelligence not when he teaches a computer to reason but when he teaches a computer to have a nagging feeling in its circuits.” ~Robert Brault

I’m working on a story to share with you that I provided some summary of in my last Weekend in Pictures post, and with that research that brought my husband and I to get him extricated from there, I read this story of a man whose trusted authority figure (in this case, his boss) pressured him over and over to attend a “training weekend” to bond with the rest of his team.

Now, most of us have done “teambuilding” exercises and/or workshops where we do assessments like Myers-Briggs, or throw a ball around or what not, and get to know how people make decisions, but as you’ll see in the Eggleston lawsuit, this employee discovered that the New Warrior Training Adventure was in no way a training, but rather a cult where men were deprived of food and sleep, wearing minimal if any clothing, and using Gestalt therapy techniques with unlicensed professionals to share personal and private experiences  that made him immediately suspicious and uncomfortable.

This man had the foresight to investigate the organization and learned about the great harm it’s done to so many men and he refused to attend. He received such horrendous treatment from his boss and then retaliation on his compensation package as well that he was forced to seek other employment. But he struck back. He knew what was happening was wrong in so many ways , and didn’t go along with the crowd. He stood strong amongst tremendous pressure, mentally, professionally and financially. And that’s something to applaud.

Fellas – how has listening to your gut helped you?

“Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out.”
~Michael Burke

Weekend in Pictures

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bernies-southern-bistro-51941c2154b972451000045e

Fried chicken, pork spare ribs, collard greens, mashed potatoes and leek/squash bread pudding as a special late night treat for my hubby at Bernie’s Southern Bistro (photo source)

Chai

Had our first sips of chai latte from our case of Prana Chai!

EPpancake-1

Used up some of our fresh pumpkin from this year’s garden to make delish pumpkin & spice pancakes, making them on my grandpa’s pancake grill. YUM!

sunset

lovely night sky!

Ladle

We (and our refrigerator) were banished to the living room while we had our kitchen floors refinished after I pulled up the black & white stick-on tiles 2 years ago, It was a bitch of a process as the contractor forgot we’d asked for a low-VOC water-based finish, and did the first coat with HIGHLY toxic & flammable “Swedish” finish, stinking the house up with formaldehyde odors, giving me a massive headache and forcing all of our windows & doors open on a 29 degree day. Along with that I had to get myself and the dog to safety and not wanting to leave my house with everything open, it meant working on an outdoor project all bundled up, she with a bone and me working fast with a shovel. The after the water based version was applied today, we realized while it was drying that we had no utensils! So my husband decided to make a bowl cereal using a glass storage dish and eat it with a giant ladle :)

Nwta

The last part of the weekend involved extricating my husband from a “training” where the group who set it up turned out to be a cult and a pyramid scheme, pressured to attend by our (now former) therapist calling it a great retreat for men. I will write about this more later, but it starts out with them stripping him of his name and turning him into a number (above), continues with food & sleep deprivation, misogynistic talk about women, forced nudity and constant pressure into groupthink, and ends with me following my gut after they didn’t want me to talk to him when I called (they had confiscated his cell phone and attempted unsuccessfully to get him to remove his wedding ring) and after doing a lot of research, getting a car to drive out there and get him the hell out of there. He was so relieved to see me and said another man had left shortly before I arrived. And on his way out? The Australian therapist who had for some reason decided to lead THIS particular “training”? Insulted who I was to my husband as he left. Disgusting sick freakish bastards. Very similar to Scientology where they use subtle mind-control. And yes – oh yes – I will be writing much MUCH more about this cult and it’s tremendous damage to so many participants (even suicide for at least one former attendee). For a bit about what happens, read this article for an undercover account. It’s very accurate.

 

The Art of Gratitude

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Grave-D

When I go see my father’s grave, it’s not something I mention much but I almost always pay my respects to other family members who have passed.

At Willamette National Cemetery, it’s not only to lay next to where my father’s body is buried, but also to say hello to my grandma and grandpa, his parents who were so good to me growing up. They were cremated so there’s just a placard on a wall for each of them. Not as personal. You have to find a unique way of getting the roses to smoosh right between theirs and other placards if you don’t want them to be on the ground below a long list of dead people. I talk to them about what I’ve been doing, thank them for the memories, tell them about my life.

At the same cemetery, in the section from ten or twelve years prior, is the gravesite of my third grandmother. She was the mother of my mother’s first husband, biological grandmother to my older siblings who I share only half of the same DNA with. We spent frequent weekends at her home near Peninsula Park growing up in the 70′s and 80′s, and she treated me just the same as the other two. Unlike my family, I wasn’t so-and-so’s kid, I was just another one of her granddaughters. I remember the week she died when I visited her on my own in the hospital. The wig was gone and her long hair that she hid was cascading down her shoulders. We giggled at all the marks in her arms and I hugged her and told her I loved her.

Across town, there are two more cemeteries. Mt Calvary, up in the hills, is a beautiful drive up Skyline Boulevard and the first gravesite I ever visited. My great grandmother on my father’s side, the mother of my grandfather, is one I went to with my father and cherish, as she was the one great grandmother I spent the most time with as a very small child. My memories of her consist of big hugs, carob stars, cigarettes (she died of lung cancer), my dad having long conversations with her, and the overwhelming love everyone had for her. No one told me she had passed, instead I found her obituary in the newspaper at the age of six. Yes, I was a very young newspaper reader, and remember seeing the same last name as me while I sat at my aforementioned non-biological grandma’s kitchen table one Sunday, and calling my dad to ask if that was her. I never understood why they hadn’t told me she was gone. It was the first in the string of not including me in big events, with later that being both parents getting remarried and not inviting me to the weddings. With my father, I learned decades later that not only was I not invited, the entire rest of the family was, and it was right across town (my mother had married my stepfather out of town).

Down the slope along the Sunset Highway is the last cemetery I visit, Sunset Hills, which now has the unfortunate background of freeway noise. There I don’t need directions, and instead look for a large tree and a row of hedges. Next to the hedge are the gravesites of three people – my grandparents on my mother’s side, one who died when I was fifteen and the other who was the first of the annual passings I was to deal with on my return to Portland. My grandfather took me to the duck pond and told me about his five dollar gold coin he won in a spelling bee. I remember laying on the carpet in their living room watching Circus of the Stars with my sister and he in the corner. And at 4 or 5 in the morning, the crack of light in our room as I heard the sound of my farm-raised grandfather up making waffles. I wonder what he thought of then. In later years he lived with us for a short time and I saw a side of him that drove my mother to a place I’d never seen her, and it changed my vision of him in many ways. I had never been close to this grandmother, and perhaps I should have done more, but was fortunate in that the very last time I saw her, nearly twenty years after his death, while she was living in a small home with other elderly women, I saw a woman at peace who was funny and interesting. She was 93 and I never had the chance to see that again, but it left me curious as to what she was really like – you know, outside of family life.

The third grave belongs to that of David and is what spurred me to write today. Over the years I often refer to David as my second big brother, someone who this year would have turned fifty, and wondered what that would have been like having two brothers. He was my mother’s second son, and died in a car accident that was so excruciatingly painful for my mother that it changed her forever. I learned about him from my sister as an adolescent, but as for my mother, she only spoke of him in one sentence to me, and I never learned anything more. Not just about him but about her, which always crushed me.

You see, here’s the thing I realized at this last visit to his grave: he isn’t a second big brother. He was a baby boy of a year old who was intended to be the last of their children. A wife, a husband, and two sons. A year after his death my mother had her first daughter, and some time after that she divorced that first husband and married my father. Two years later I was born.

Do you see what I’m getting at? If he hadn’t have died in that tragic accident, I would not exist. All my memories, all my words, all my love, none of that would be here. I am living, because he did not. I have to find gratitude for my life that began because of the death of another. The circle of life presented its strange path on that fateful summer day in 1965 and one winter morning in 1974.

How does one come to grips with that?

The first reaction many have is about my mother. What she’s been through, the “no wonder” response. That almost five decades later, the event that day which forever changed her should also indelibly stamp how things were handled. I look at a bunch of childhood art I had made for her and rather than think warmly about them, my first thought is, ah, yes, that was in the pile she dumped on my front porch a few years back. No note, just a pile of what seemed to be every reminder of me she had, in an old plastic bin left in front of my house.

I think of this coming year where my husband and I want to start a family, and the natural instinct is to think about the two people who brought you into the world. We talk about our dead fathers who never will get to hold their grandchild, and we talk about our alive mothers whose narcissistic behaviors have forever created a rift that neither of us care to return to. My side is perhaps a bit softer than my husband’s as his situation has been recently much more dramatic and I’ve had time to let the years soothe my heart. I see the danger of trying to rekindle very similar to how I remember getting back together with ex-boyfriends, in that once you are around that person again, you are instantly reminded of why you left, that the ten or fifteen percent you loved so strongly was not enough to overcome the majority of experiences that left you feeling unloved.

Getting remarried this year has brought up a lot of emotion on so many topics. How will I deal with challenges this time around? What is and is not worth arguing over? Who am I this time around and who do I want to be as time goes by? Am I repeating the same mistakes? How do I deal with my fears and frustrations and failures? Will I be a good parent? Will he? When will I ever fucking relax about this kind of stuff? :)

I had a tremendous experience last night which told me exactly who I was and how much I bring into this world.

You know that fierceness and smile Uma Thurman’s character Beatrix Kiddo had as she drove away at the end of Kill Bill Pt 2? That was me. I fucking roared as I trusted my instincts and it was definitely an event (which I’ll write about soon) that reminded both my husband and I that our walk through this life together is and always will be a powerful one. This love is beyond beautiful. I have come into this world to shake it up, fight for the underdog, and expose the gorgeousness of it all in my words and actions.

I’m the hero of my own life.

“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you,and that you will work with these stories from your life–not someone else’s life–water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

EcoGrrl-icious

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Cold, but gorgeous!

Frickin’ cold, but gorgeous!

Yes, as most folks around the US are experiencing, winter decided to cut into our gorgeous fall. Freezing rain, a bit of snow, bitter cold, and winds that make you curse. How was it last week we were in happy autumn fleece mode and now the furnace is cranked up? Even for a “penguin” like me, I bumped things up to a toasty 70 in the house. Hmph! And we aren’t even in places like Denver or Minneapolis or Atlanta or even our Central/Eastern Oregon neighbors that are all colder than us Stumptowners. But what’s nice? Watching our bullmastiff Ruby trying to eat snowflakes from the sky, sipping hot toddies at the cafe, and making pumpkin pancakes for my hubby.

And here are some other things I’ve been wanting to share…

* Meditation’s benefits proven by neuroscientists. Pretty sweet.

* Did you know 4-H and GMO big-ag are partnering in Africa? Shameful.

* A little closer to home, happy to see that my local cafe is welcoming the Social Pleasure Club on Sundays for some chill music mixed with local ingredients and awesome coffee. Guess where I’ll be :)

* And speaking of good drink, hubby & I splurged on a case of Prana Chai from his former stomping grounds of St Kilda in Australia. Good god it’s delish – and we’ve yet to find anything even somewhat close to this masala chai mix they make….mmmm!

* Today, we are depaving the back half of our long driveway that lines the south side of our property and hasn’t hosted a car, well, ever since I bought it. It’s such a long driveway and the 1925 garage being more of a shed, even when I had a car (which I sold 6 years ago) I only parked it in the front near the walkway, so it’s always been this hot piece of concrete that reflected the summer heat right into our bedroom. In 2009, I’d created a driveway garden, and my husband loved the idea to just depave it altogether. We’ll be fencing it off as well so we can get rid of the chain link between the garage and house and have more privacy (and security) as well. Before & after photos to come!

It may be cold but we are still finding a way to do things garden-related! :)

“Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.”
~Hugh Macmillan, “Rejuvenescence,” The Ministry of Nature, 1871

Workin’ 9 to 5 (…and preventing bias when screening ex-convicts)

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In the October 24, 2014, issue of the New York Times, I read a great article about curbing employment bias against ex-convicts, talking about the rampant discrimination during the hiring process for those with criminal records. Unfortunately, some states still allow employers to ask about criminal history at the start rather than at the end of the process, creating a huge potential for discrimination against candidates with convictions. In addition, many don’t ask about felony convictions within the past 7 years (the standard question), but rather ask about arrests and/or “have you ever been convicted of a crime”, inferring that misdemeanors could be used against you as well.

What worried me terribly in this article was one hiring manager saying, “the fact they have a criminal record proves that at one point in their lives they weren’t trustworthy,” using a conviction as the sole litmus test for hiring decisions. And while I’m not making a blanket statement about hiring or not hiring those who have served time for crimes committed, to say that someone who, for example, got a DUII six years ago, is one hundred percent not trustworthy compared to someone who has not? That’s just goofy logic.

  • What about the trustworthiness of the applicant who cheats on her spouse?
  • What about the trustworthiness of the applicant who beats his children and isn’t found out?
  • What about the trustworthiness of the applicant who lies on his taxes and doesn’t get caught?

But you can’t ask that on an application, now can you.

Yes, of course you don’t want to hire an accountant who’s been convicted of fraud, and you don’t want to hire a childcare provider who is a registered sex offender, or a delivery driver with a drunk driving record. But what about those jobs where their criminal record doesn’t apply?

As one job applicant (with a handgun possession conviction from 10 years earlier) whose candidacy for a janitorial role was immediately pulled by HR said in the article, “I was somehow too dangerous to clean the floors.

I’ve worked in Human Resources field for 16 years and have seen the issues come up in nearly every company. Fortunately, most of my employers have had the policy of decisions being dependent on whether the crime was relevant to the work, but it’s also because I as the recruiter or HR representative have always asked what our specific policy was. Most employers don’t have a written strategy or policy for dealing with the criminal question, and with that many haven’t done the homework to know what they can and can’t ask, and how they’re allowed to use this information in making hiring decisions.

As the Ban the Box campaign informs us, “The EEOC has already begun prosecuting employers who have a blanket ban on hiring people with felony convictions, since this ban violates an EEOC requirement for “individualized assessment” of the circumstances of any past convictions.”

Hiring and HR teams, do you want to learn more about what you can and can’t do? Check out the enforcement guidance provided by the EEOC. “And review the infographic below to start the process of assessing what you are currently practicing in your workplace – not what your policy claims you’re doing, but what you are really doing. “Ban the Box” generally prohibits employers from asking about your history during the initial part of the application process as well as preventing them from running background checks before an offer.

If you’re an applicant, pay attention – whether you have a criminal record or not (1 out of 4 do) – to what employers are asking on the application. If they want to run a background check before an offer is extended, that’s should be a warning sign that this company may be discriminating. Employment offers from companies who conduct background checks should include the paperwork with the offer letter (not before), with the forms stating how the information is used and how far they are going back.

As Mark Levin said so perfectly, “It really is a great benefit to public safety if ex-offenders are able to get jobs, find places to live and get occupational licenses — whether it’s from the perspective of the ex-offender or those of us who are going to live next to them.

Tuesday Go Ponder: Finding Your Way to the Finish Line

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How does writing a book become your 9 to 5, with your recruiting and coaching being your side jobs?

When you say out loud, I’m a Writer – first and foremost. When you make it your true professional priority.

Continuing off of my recent post, I’ve been plugging away, putting the things that slow me down to the side, acknowledging their presence and remembering that I am safe to be, safe to create, safe to thrive. I’ve been editing the second draft and coming up with more ideas and content to enhance it, and getting inspired by the writers in my community, online, and in the books I’m immersed in reading.

The longer I’ve been running my business, the more impassioned I become to be an advocate for both sides. To help hiring teams do better and be better. To help candidates represent themselves with strength and clarity. And seventeen corporate clients and over 100 coaching clients later, I am pretty sure I’ve made an imprint (no pun intended). The other day a longtime colleague of mine told me how when she asked one of her highly regarded technical colleagues who he trusted in our (recruiting) community, my name came up.

That was humbling. It was especially reassuring, especially following a quarter that emotionally baffled me and brought me to the edge of the “should I or should I continue doing this” precipice.

“Some days you might feel that nothing is working, but you’ve got to have the discipline and the energy to go in and do it anyway.”
~ Dr. Laurie Glimcher, Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College (New York Times, 10/26/14)

I read the above quote on a day where I needed to see this. As those who know me best have seen, I am extraordinarily hard on myself. When I don’t excel and amaze, I often feel like I’ve failed. Learning how to give myself a break and remind myself that I’m exactly where I need to be? That’s the mantra I repeat to myself.

This past weekend marked the sixth anniversary of my father’s sudden death at the age of 62. He feels faraway now, but I see reminders of him at times. When I love how my husband both adores his solitude but finds the ability to strike up a conversation with just about anyone – that’s a reminder. When I walk into Powell’s and automatically think of our bazillion trips there to get the latest Black Stallion (me) or Louis L’amour (he) – that’s a reminder. When my red roses grow, I am quietly grateful for the love he gave me of roses. When my voice is a bit louder than the others – I laugh louder, because that reminds me of him. When my husband and I talk about the fact that both of our fathers died before getting to be grandfathers to our future little one – I am reminded.

Some days are easier than others to stay the course. Some days you have to just remember the brevity of life and soak up everything you can, and move forward. Because the finish line could be anywhere for each of us.

Weekend in Pictures

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Monday the 10th at 1:29am is when my father died six years ago. This weekend was quiet, sun-filled, and where I took time to go visit him up on the hill and do a few things that reminded me of those quiet years, before the other family came in, when it was just me and him. That's the love I remember the most, that I cherish the most, from him. Before everything else happened, there was he and I and the ocean. That's what I'll tell our kid about when they ask about their Grandpa Pick.

Monday the 10th at 1:29am is when my father died six years ago. This weekend was quiet, sun-filled, and where I took time to go visit him up on the hill and do a few things that reminded me of those quiet years, before the other family came in, when it was just me and him. That’s the love I remember the most, that I cherish the most, from him. Before everything else happened, there was he and I and the ocean. That’s what I’ll tell our kid about when they ask about their Grandpa Pick. I’ll show them this hat and I’ll tell them how thrilled he would have been to have met his grandchild. XOXO

As we are kicking off an awesome garden expansion project next weekend, I got online and reserved two pear trees from Friends of Trees, whose volunteers will come out and not only deliver but plant the trees. Pretty rad.

As we are kicking off an awesome garden expansion project next weekend, we reserved two pear trees from the local nonprofit Friends of Trees, whose volunteers come out and not only deliver but plant them. Pretty rad – and a long time coming for fruit trees at home! (image source)

(image credit)

Working with coaching clients who are in a variety of roles, from an instructional designer with an awesome background in gaming to a vice president of engineering to a writer/editor. I love this job! (image credit)

Our girl Ruby is loving the autumn weather. Our vet recommended Boswelia and it has made a huge difference in not just her energy level, but her ability to recuperate after walks. Where she was sleeping half the day after a walk in the first few weeks, she's now ready to take 8 walks a day if allowed. :)

Our girl Ruby is loving the autumn weather. Our vet recommended Boswellia and it has made a huge difference in not just her energy level, but her ability to recuperate after exercise. Where she was sleeping half the day after a walk in the first few weeks, she’s now ready to take 8 (short) walks a day if allowed. :)

The hubby and I cozied up on the sofa Saturday night with bowls of fettucine and homemade pesto, red wine, and watching A Most Wanted Man, Philiop Seymour Hoffman's final movie before his death this year. Great, great film. (image credit)

The hubby and I snuggled up on the sofa Saturday night with bowls of fettucine mixed with homemade pesto and a bottle of red wine, and watched A Most Wanted Man, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final movie before his death this year. Great, great film. (image credit)

A mild weekend meant lots of morning walks in the park near our house with my two favorite individuals!!

A mild weekend meant lots of morning walks in the park near our house with my two favorite individuals!!  Ruby is getting very good at listening to us offleash and hilariously, most of the time doesn’t spot the squirrels. Throw a ball and she looks to another dog to get it for her. As for my hubby? He just keeps getting cuter! :)

Slow Living Essentials: October 2014

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
~Roger Caras

What an October! Seemed to fly by… While it’s a bit late, here’s my wrap-up of the month for Greenhaven’s Slow Living Essentials series…

Comfort food ruled this past month, with my dairy-free version of my stacked chicken enchiladas (Daiya wasn't bad...it ain't cheese, but it did the trick).

{nourish}

This month comfort food ruled, with my dairy-free version of my stacked chicken enchiladas (Daiya wasn’t bad…it ain’t cheese, but it did the trick). No homemade food was photographed this month, shockingly, so I borrowed this from an old blog post. That being said, it was a pancake for dinner kind of month with the hubby working late shifts and coming home famished :)

pickle

{prepare}

All done with harvesting and therefore not too much going on in the land of preservation. We did cut up and roast our Halloween pumpkins and pureed them, tucking away in the freezer until it’s time for Thanksgiving in a few weeks. However, my friend Ruth gave me this great book on pickling to get my brain thinking about next year’s cukes and what I could do with them :)

danruby4

{green}

While I’m thrilled to announce my husband landed a good job with the local organic grocer pretty darn quickly after getting his American employment authorization, the green thing we are celebrating is how we spend our one day off per week with each other, which is always focused around walking somewhere beautiful. This month included renting a car for the day (we don’t own a car) and taking our newly adopted (shelter) bullmastiff, Ruby, on a field trip out to the Sandy River Delta so she could go offleash, be around other dogs in a non-dogpark setting, and enjoy the fresh air and freedom of the wide open spaces, paths through the trees, and yes, the lovely river. She stood in the water but doesn’t have the capacity to run and jump like the crazy labs, but we could tell she thought it was pretty cool.

gardenia {grow}

The rest of the garden came down this month and the majority of our time was focused on reorganizing the cinderblock raised beds which I’d not placed too well over the years, so they weren’t maximizing space. So there was a lot of heavy lifting! But we got some plants from pots into the ground, like this gardenia (pictured above), and also discovered ChipDrop.in, an awesome resource for arborists and gardeners to partner up – arborists have to pay to dispose wood chips and gardeners want them, so we just signed up and within a day we had an entire truckload dropped off on the street in front of our house. Thank goodness it wasn’t raining! Boy was it nice to save all that cash too!

{reduce}

Beyond our normal dropoff at Goodwill, physically we didn’t reduce much. We sold our old leather sofa on eBay for enough to pay for the majority of the cost of a new one (not made from animal hide, yay!), and rearranged the living room which I like to do rather than buy new stuff, but didn’t get rid of anything.  One point I will celebrate though is that we annualize our natural gas bill for our heating, and if we use less than in the prior year, we get the difference back, and this year we got $20 back, which left our monthly bill at a whopping $8. Pretty rad. And that includes our contribution to Smart Energy, their carbon offset program we joined last year. Yay :)

{create}

Major editing in process on my to-be-named jobseeker book and am now into my 2nd draft, with a hardcore goal of getting through it by Thanksgiving to send over to an editor I know who I’ve been trading services with this year. She’s also recommended I get a literary agent, as what I’m putting together is something I think could make money if I go about this the right way. While I’ve considered the self-publishing route, I don’t have 100% trust in Amazon and the other services I’ve read about seem so-so, so I think a few meetings are in order when the new year arrives.

{enhance}

This month Dan & I kicked off our weekly volunteering with Start Making A Reader Today (SMART) at Woodlawn Elementary School, not far from our home. This is my first full year and last year he got to try it a couple of times and was hooked. This year we’ve got the kindergarten crowd, and Dan has two little girls he reads to who you can easily tell think he’s the cat’s meow. One gave him a big hug at the end of reading and the other was wearing his scarf as they read. Pretty adorable and obviously as a future mama making me smile big. :) We are thrilled to see that SMART is in this year’s GiveGuide and will continue to be part of my business’s annual giving budget going into 2015.

My pup got to try out acupuncture at her holistic vet appointment today. She took the needles easily but a few minutes after this while walking around, she decided to shake...and yep, most of the needles went flying. Based on the cost of treatment after the initial appointment, we're not going to be moving forward with this, but were glad we tried it :)

{discover}

While it wasn’t a class, per se, we learned all about holistic dog care including acupuncture from our new veterinarian at Ruby’s integrative exam. She responded well to the acupuncture needles (then I think it tickled after 10 minutes or so and she shook, with needles flying everywhere, hahahaha) and we got a lot of good information about nutrition and natural supplements that would aid her in feeling better, since she came to us in much worse shape than those lying jerks at the shelter represented her to be. It was good to talk to someone who believes dogs, like humans, can be treated with more than conventional methods!

proceserv

{enjoy}

One of the highlights of my year was the opportunity to escape with a bunch of Northwest woman to a beach house on the Oregon Coast for a yoga wellness retreat, hosted by my “dream team”: my gentle yoga teacher and my fabulous massage therapist. Four yoga classes over three days, meditation, vegetarian fare prepared by a great cook, and lots of quiet time to take solo walks on the beach and grab a window seat to look out at the forest behind the house and write in my journal. It was a wonderful getaway that has inspired me to find new ways of self-care in the future.

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.”
~Gilda Radner