I love “leaving Corporate America” stories. Perhaps it’s because I did and I can really relate to those who say “Sayanara!” to the stressful spirit spiral.

Julie Pech hopped out of Corporate America to write in a book in a field in which, according to her, she had “zero experience”. She had been in the corporate apparel industry for 18 years, but at the same time she had always loved health and nutrition and chocolate. Doesn’t seem like it goes together? Read on!

When several studies touting the “health benefits of chocolate” were released, she decided to take a leap of faith and write about it. Her book The Chocolate Therapist: A User’s Guide to the Extraordinary Health Benefits of Chocolate was released in 2005 as a self-published title, but last year it was picked up by Wiley Publishing. She rewrote it, thereby doubling its length. It was release late last year.
After taking that leap of faith, Julie has started speaking up to twenty times per month about the health benefits of chocolate. She also teacheschocolate & wine and chocolate & tea pairing classes, hosts corporate and charity events and even travels internationally as a guest lecturer speaking about chocolate.

An entrepreneur at heart, she ended up buying a chocolate shop where they make all-natural chocolate with nuts, berries, spices and organic flavoring oils to support the concepts in her book.

“It’s been a very interesting journey!” she says.

Now, I wonder if she could get Johnny Depp to star in the sequel to Chocolat? Knowing Julie, she just might!

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Good Housekeeping is one of several periodical...

Image via Wikipedia

Good Housekeeping, that housewife’s magazine that’s been around since 1885, is keeping with the times by developing a new green Good Housekeeping seal for products its new environmental advisory board considers ‘green’.

It’s an interesting concept that shows how far our consciousness has come. But not all green things are golden. As my friend, who works in a consumer advocate’s office herself, once said, “Just because it has a seal, doesn’t mean it’s good for you or the environment.”Organic cookies? They contain sugar, too.

Sigh.

I had proudly swept my hand across a drawer of organic products to show her what a good green person I was! She peered inside, then frowned. I realized how many of them were contained in plastic, with wrapping or had travelled from afar to land in my cupboard.

To quote Kermit the Frog: “It’s not easy being green.” But Good Housekeeping‘s efforts (see below) are admirable and it’s a sign of our ever-changing times. We’re trying, folks. Really, we are!

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING CREATES AN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY BOARD TO PROVIDE INSIGHT FOR THE GREEN GOOD HOUSEKEEPING SEAL

A Special Environmentally-Focused Good Housekeeping Research Institute Tour is Open to the Public on Earth Day

Good Housekeeping has created an Environmental Advisory Board consisting of leading sustainability experts from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia, and media to provide insight for the Green Good Housekeeping Seal evaluations, pinpointing areas of biggest concern, and educating the magazine’s more than 27 million print and online readers through interviews for editorial articles.

Inaugural members of the Good Housekeeping Environmental Advisory Board are: Laurie David, producer (An Inconvenient Truth) and award-winning, bestselling author; Wood Turner, Executive Director for Climate Counts; Suhas Apte, Vice President Global Sustainability for Kimberly-Clark; David Bennell, Executive Director, Textile Exchange; Pamela Brody-Heine, Product Stewardship Manager, Zero Waste Alliance; Jill Dumain, Patagonia; Sally Edwards, Sc.D, Research Associate at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Center for Sustainable Production; Katie Galloway, Earth Fund Manager for Aveda; Reid Lifset, M.S., M.P.P.M, Associate Director of the Industrial Environmental Management Program at Yale University; Erin Meezan, Vice President of Sustainability, Interface; Ursula Tischner, Program Coordinator Design for Sustainability at Savannah College of Art and Design; and Mary T’Kach, Energy and Sustainability Coordinator, Ramsey County, MN.

In celebration of Earth Day, at 10AM on Friday, April 22, Good Housekeeping will host a special environmentally-focused tour of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, the magazine’s state-of-the-art product testing laboratory (I’ve never been, but boy! Would I love to go!).

Visitors will have an opportunity to meet the engineers, chemists, nutritionists, and all of the Research Institute’s expert staff, learn more about the Green Good Housekeeping Seal, and visit the famous Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen to hear about the increasing interest in vegetarian recipes and participate in a taste test.  You can sign up for the special Good Housekeeping Research Institute Earth Day tour here.

Good Housekeeping created the Green Good Housekeeping Seal to set a mainstream bar for consumers who want to live a greener lifestyle.  The scientists and engineers at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute worked with Brown & Wilmanns Environmental, one of the nation’s leading green consultants for businesses, NGOs and governmental organizations to establish criteria for the Green Good Housekeeping Seal.

Before being considered for the Green Good Housekeeping Seal, a product must pass evaluations for the primary Good Housekeeping Seal, which evaluates claims and measures efficacy to ensure it performs as promised.  If the product passes, it is then reviewed using more in-depth environmental criteria, including the reduction of water use in manufacturing, energy efficiency in manufacturing and product use, ingredient and product safety, packaging reduction (see my post on plastic), and the brand’s corporate social responsibility.

And it seems their evaluations have fairly rigorous standards.

Products that have earned the Good Housekeeping Seal and the Green Good Housekeeping Seal carry a limited warranty: If the product proves to be defective within two years of purchase, Good Housekeeping will replace the item or refund the consumer.  You can get more answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Green Good Housekeeping Seal here.

Continuing to establish a leadership role within the environmental industry, Good Housekeeping is co-sponsoring with The Daily Green the Good and Green conference, a two-day conference on May 11 and 12 featuring a series of environmental-themed sessions, keynotes, case studies and roundtable discussions.  I will actually just miss it as I’m leaving NYC on May 11, but for those who are interested, Good and Green will be held in the Hearst Tower, the first LEED-gold certified office building in New York City. You can register to attend the Good and Green conference here.

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Many thanks to @SuzanneHenry for pointing to these trends, such as de-teching and outsourcing self-control (remember my time suck Quickrr post?), to help keep us interacting with each other in the now.

The slow movement has its roots in the Slow Food movement. Born on the Spanish Steps of Rome, the Slow Food movement started out as one man’s reaction to a global fast food chain that wanted to open its doors near the famous Roman landmark. Carlo Petrini despised the notion of junk food being sold anywhere near his beloved Spanish Steps. Thanks to him, the concept of slow seeped its way into our global consciousness.

Tying food production back to local farming is a smart, and sustainable, thing to do. In an age of dioxin scandals and mass animal slaughtering, we have clinicalized the very thing that keeps us alive: food. We treat food as a cog in the massive economic system. It has to play a role like water and oil or any other natural resource you can think of. Produce massive amounts at the cheapest price, no matter the real cost (environmental or otherwise) behind it.

Slow money is a concept that promotes investments in local farming and the health of our local economies. This group has set a goal of mobilizing 1 million people to invest in their local food production before 2020. It is a noble cause and one I highly recommend you explore.

According to SlowMoney.org, the principles of slow money include:

I. We must bring money back down to earth.

II. There is such a thing as money that is too fast, companies that are too big, finance that is too complex. Therefore, we must slow our money down — not all of it, of course, but enough to matter.

III. The 20th Century was the era of Buy Low/Sell High and Wealth Now/Philanthropy Later—what one venture capitalist called “the largest legal accumulation of wealth in history.” The 21st Century will be the era of nurture capital, built around principles of carrying capacity, care of the commons, sense of place and non-violence.

IV. We must learn to invest as if food, farms and fertility mattered. We must connect investors to the places where they live, creating vital relationships and new sources of capital for small food enterprises.

V. Let us celebrate the new generation of entrepreneurs, consumers and investors who are showing the way from Making A Killing to Making a Living.

VI. Paul Newman said, “I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer who puts back into the soil what he takes out.” Recognizing the wisdom of these words, let us begin rebuilding our economy from the ground up, asking:

* What would the world be like if we invested 50% of our assets within 50 miles of where we live?

* What if there were a new generation of companies that gave away 50% of their profits?

* What if there were 50% more organic matter in our soil 50 years from now?

I ask you: what if we left this Earth in better shape than we found it? Give back to the soil that feeds you. Today.

Other resources:

www.SlowMoney.org

www.CompassNaturalMarketing.com

Inquires into the Nature of Slow Money

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So I got a few last-minute Christmas gifts today. Why? It was my husband’s request. And I have to say it felt pretty good, you know? No frenzy. No worries. It was like this part of the gift hunting was gravy, like the cherry on top. There’s something to be said for holding off until the idea strikes you (of course, I’m not talking about procrastination here ~ just an ease and grace that comes with taking it slowly!).

But first, consider my conversation with my husband this morning.

(background sound ~ *Chuscha chuscha* the scrubbing of a broom. Husband is washing the tiled hallway on the top floor for the first time in two years.)

Husband: Are you going to Expert (think Circuit City) today?

Me: (considerable pause b/c I was actually headed to the gym) No.

*Chuscha chuscha*

Husband: Oh, because if you were…

*Chuscha chuscha*

Me: What do you need?

Sound abruptly stops.

Husband: That sports video game for the Xbox I bought…for our son.

*Chuscha chuscha*

Me: Okay. I’ll get it. But this year there’d better be a reaaaaaally good gift for me waiting under that Christmas tree.

Watch this video (thanks to www.latebloomerbride.com for first posting it there)!

Guess who’s watching it next? Woof! :)

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Because magic lives everywhere…


 

Join the Smiling Turtle

December 7, 2010

What’s today? Not just Pearl Harbor Day. No, no! Today is the day you can join me, Shirley MacLaine, my smiling turtle and many others to receive a ton of bonus prizes when you purchase a copy of The Power of Slow.

Who is the smiling turtle? He’s the product of my brilliant Webmaster who put together this site www.powerofslowbook.com just for you. Go visit him. He’s a hoot!

How can you benefit from this offer?

Go to www.powerofslowbook.com. Purchase a copy of The Power of Slow (‘Step 1′), put in your amazon order confirmation # by clicking on ‘Step 2′ and receive a free month membership to Shirley MacLaine’s site along with dozens of other gifts from best-selling authors such as Mike Robbins, Stever Robbins, Arielle Ford and more!

I would welcome your participation. Give yourself and others the gift of time this holiday season!

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A Mindful Christmas

December 6, 2010

POM Pomegranate juice
Image by gabster_ro via Flickr

The month of December is stressful for a lot of people. The holidays add to the tension and for some, light deprivation deeply affects our moods. During this season of light (or lack thereof!), we need to engage in empowering activities that bring the love closer. Because I am sensitive to the lack of light at this time of year, I engage in a self-made winter empowerment program. It involves exercise, lots of pomegranate juice and practices of self-forgiveness during moments of crankiness.

When I came upon Barbara Kilikevich’s book, A Mindful Christmas: How to Create a Meaningful, Peaceful Holiday, I felt a sense of relief. Moving beyond the consumer madness, we can rejoice in knowing our bodies are allowed move a little slower at this time of year. After all, bears hibernate. Why shouldn’t we?

Helpful tips from Barbara’s Website include:

∙ Organize your Christmas so that it is less stressful
∙ Add Meaning to your Christmas season without added expense
∙ Protect the Christmas Spirit in children
∙ Remember what you love most about Christmas (it isn’t gifts)
∙ Avoid post holiday let down
∙ Glide smoothly back into reality after it is all said and done

Celebrate your holiday slow-style by remembering less is more and more is too much!

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Come play with me!

March 16, 2010

B&N, 1035A Emmet Street, 4 pm

Tomorrow, March 17th is not only St. Patrick’s Day. It’s also my big day at the Virginia Festival of the Book. At 4 pm, Leslie Truex and I will be discussing Work, Time and Life at Barnes & Noble in Charlottesville, VA. The discussion will be moderated by former Charlottesville mayor, Virginia Daughtery.

If you happen to be in the area, I’d love to see you!

Can you bear some change?

January 28, 2010

It was a fruitless exercise, but I was already caught up in the ‘have tos’ and ‘gottas’.

You see there I was, standing at the bakery counter, digging through my purse for some loose change so I could keep my Euro whole that I planned to use later for the shopping cart at the next store (Europe uses coin-operated carts, not bag boys!). My face reddened through the embarrassment and effort, but I was bound and determined to give the woman exact change. She moved on to other customers as I dug some more, fussing over the silliness of it all.

When I finally gathered all the change I needed (which involved going to the car to look for errant pennines under the car mat ~ ridiculous, I know!), I smiled at the bakery clerk. She smiled back in a knowing way, as if she knew the feeling of being stuck in the should’s of life.

The irony? When I got to the car, I had two more coins in the central console that I could have used for the cart, if I had taken a slow moment to look. And when I got to the store, I grabbed a cart whose coin slot was in disrepair, allowing me to use it without the coin I so desperately tried to salvage.

It made me laugh. Some days we get stuck in how things should be. We carefully plan, align our actions with our intentions, and it ends up being a useless exercise.

I wonder what would have happened if I had cheerfully given the bakery clerk the extra change and left it up to God/the Universe to see me through to the next store with or without the proper coin. Most likely I would have saved an extra five minutes and enjoyed the flow that trusting the unknown brings.

Life offers lessons no matter where you are ~ oftentimes they come from the unlikeliest source!

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