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deliberateLIFE is a socially-motivated lifestyle brand engaging today's globally-conscious citizen in building a better tomorrow. We believe choices matter – so we vet ideas, products and organizations to make it easier for today's busy professionals to live well and do good. We are your lifestyle guide for impactful living. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Buy Local Vintage Furnishings?

Fay Johnson

by Kelly LaPlante

We all know that the things you choose to bring into your home make a difference. Where they are made, how they are made, how the makers are compensated—for the conscientious consumer, factors to consider can be overwhelming, paralyzing even.

I'm lucky, I suppose, that when I started on my path as a sustainable designer, there weren't a lot of options. "Green-washing" wasn't a thing, yet. I didn't have thousands of companies vying for my sustainable spend. At the time, it was very clear to me that buying secondhand furnishings was the best, easiest and most efficient way for me to produce sustainable interiors.

Today, there are plenty of excellent companies who are doing a phenomenal job of producing new items that are healthy and enriching for both people and the planet—and, believe me, I spend some serious cash with these companies. That said, I still regularly make the case for finding a piece at your local vintage store. Here's why:


Local = Good

Recently, I accepted a stint as the Guest Editor for Trove Market—an app and website that helps people buy and sell vintage or pre-loved furnishings, locally. Theirs is a mission that definitely resonates with me. Supporting your neighbors = good for your local economy. Buying something from someone nearby, rather than having it shipped from overseas = good for the planet. See where I'm going, here?

Also, I admit it, I like instant gratification. Finding something local means I don't have to wait. I can go pick it up today!


They Don't Make Them Like They Used To

In this current era of disposable furnishings (need I even mention the "I" word?) it feels incredibly satisfying to find a great old piece that has already stood the test of time and has plenty more years to go. Not to mention that our design forefathers were pretty damn fantastic. There's a reason mid century modern never goes out of style.

I'll (Not) Have What She's Having

Nothing is worse than spending good money on your furnishings, only to see the exact same pieces all over Instagram. I can think of a particular rug that, last year, suddenly became the go-to piece for designers from Los Angeles to Brooklyn. How disappointing to put all that work into a project and then feel like a key component is nothing more than a carbon copy!

Having the same piece as everyone else also pretty much guarantees that you are going to get sick of it faster. Buying something vintage solves that problem—it's uncommon to see the exact same piece twice, much less hundreds of times.


The Damage Is Done

Aside from a few extraordinary companies who are achieving a net zero carbon footprint, even sustainable manufacturers leave a mark on our planet. That's not to say that they aren't doing a lot of extraordinary things, like creating jobs and producing eco-friendly goods that are safe to bring into our homes. But, from time to time, I just like to feel like my purchase results in no new ecological damage, whatsoever (save for the 1/8 tank of gas I use to go pick it up).

The footprint of that old table or chair was made decades ago— and my purchase relives a tiny bit of the demand for new production. Gold star for me.
 

The Thrill of the Hunt

This is really what inspired Trove Market. The founders love hunting for diamonds in the rough, and so do I. When you find the perfect vintage treasure at the perfect price, you feel like you hit the jackpot.

It's a feeling worth chasing.

___

 

Kelly LaPlante is a sustainable designer, entrepreneur and journalist. She is the author of écologique: the style of sustainable design (2008) and was the founder and Editorial Director of Standard Magazine (2010-2013). Currently, she enjoys serving as Guest Editor at Trove Market. You can find Kelly at kellylaplante.com, or via Instagram and Twitter @kelly_laplante.

Basic Organics: Starting From the Top

Annmarie Rodriguez

   

By Annmarie Rodriguez |

The average person's supermarket experience has evolved into quite the quest. After a day filled with endless choices, the idea of having to make yet another one can seem daunting. I often find myself standing in front of a wide array of colorful cans trying to decide whether to buy the $2.89 can of tomatoes or the $2.99 one. I'm then posed with the simple but equally daunting question: organic or conventional?

By the time we reach adulthood, we've heard countless facts and myths about nutrition that make figuring out the best option exhausting. But, there's hope. Here are some helpful insights for venturing back through those supermarket doors. 

Choosing to purchase an organic product is more than simply buying a particular fruit or vegetable. By buying organic, you are supporting a particular process, which affects farmers, land and nutrition.

Land used to grow organic produce is held to higher USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] standards than conventional farms. Organic farms meet standards that provide benefits to both future generations and wildlife. The production of organic foods reduces the use of pesticides and eliminates the use of GMOs [genetically modified organisms] in and on foods. 

These details may feel far removed or disconnected from our everyday lives. It's hard to fully grasp the importance of this choice when many of us are far from farm life. It's the classic 'out of sight, out of mind' idea. We at deliberateLIFE are trying to bring it back into view. We believe it's something worth talking about. 

Pause for a moment and try to visualize the actual farms. You can even go visit one! Take your family, a friend, a nephew or niece and check out what an organic farm looks like and why it's valuable to both our personal health and environmental sustainability. 

Many people (USDA included) refer to buying organic produce as a 'gateway' into other healthy habits. Research has begun to persuade people that organic foods contain higher levels of nutrients than conventional foods. Researchers at UC Davis discovered that organic tomatoes produced more flavonoids, Vitamin C, and phytochemicals than conventional tomatoes did. 

Phytochemicals exist in a variety of foods, and are considered to help with disease protection. Within the umbrella group of phytochemicals, flavonoids are the most diverse sub-group. Flavonoids are thought to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular benefits, to name a few. 

Because buying organic produce supports better land maintenance, animal treatment, and pesticide reduction, We the Deliberate believe that it is a choice worth making. Buying organic transforms the mundane and potentially tedious task of grocery shopping into a do-good opportunity.

So next time you walk through those oh-so-familiar doors, take a deep breath. Don't sweat the small stuff. Enjoy being informed and living well.  

Keeping Your Mind Sharp: How to Improve Memory

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez |

Is it possible that our busy and technologically innovative generation is having trouble keeping track of all the moving pieces? With so much going on, is it more difficult for us to remember? Gary Small, M.D., director of the Memory & Aging Research Center at UCLA, offers an answer. "Our lives may be more frenetic, but we actually have the capacity to remember much more than we do," said Dr. Small. "We simply need to work on improving our attention." 

Staying focused and paying attention are increasingly important factors to cultivating a strong memory as we grow older. We can do this by focusing and adjusting how we listen, process, and remember information. 

Here are some tips to strengthen your memory:  

Repetition + Association 

Repetition helps you remember everything from someone's name to the details of a software program your company has recently installed. For the best retrieval and in-depth understanding, pair repetition with distinct associations. A recent study in Learning & Memory explained that plain repetition - for example, meeting someone named Dan and repeating 'Dan, Dan, Dan,' again & again - strengthens memory. However, this also makes retrieval 'less precise.' Plain repetition makes it easier for us to get confused when faced with similar choices later on. Imagine seeing him again after a week or two: was it Dan or Don? 

Association is necessary for a strong and precise memory. You can come up with clever expressions related to someone's name; for example, 'Dan the Man.' Or for more complex recollections, acronyms are helpful. Also, do not be afraid to make creative connections - things that may seem odd to others may be helpful to you.

For example, I color-code events in my planner based on my personal associations with that color. Soccer-related events are written in green because grass is green. Events I'm excited for are in light blue since it's my favorite color, and I use dark blue for work-related tasks (because I think it's a more serious color). Serious is an odd way to describe a color, but this technique helps me remember what is happening and when. 

Rest To Remember 

Sleep helps sew our memories together and solidifies long-lasting memories. Harvard Medical School conducted an experiment to study the connection between memory and sleep. They found that people who slept were able to memorize more random words from a list than those who did not have the opportunity to sleep after being shown the words.

Also, make sure to sleep a sufficient number of hours. 

For every hour we’re awake, it takes about a half hour of sleep to process that information.
— Dr. Stickgold

Dr. Robert Stickgold, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition, stated the following: "One of the big functions of sleep is to take the information that we have learned throughout the day and do [a couple of] things with it: first, [sleep] stabilizes it so we won't lose it...second, it actually takes that information and tries to integrate it with older information...it's one thing to memorize something new, it's another thing to figure out what it really means. What does this mean to me? How does this fit in with the rest of my life? We're doing that while we sleep." 

Relax + Recall 

Imagine this: You're in your office or home intently listening to someone speak. You've thought of a valuable response, but right when you open your month to speak, nothing comes out. It's not stage fright; you genuinely forget. 'What in the world was I going to say?' One of the best ways to fight the frustration of forgetting is to give yourself grace and stay calm. "Anxiety distracts us, making it even harder to remember," stated Dr. Small. 

Relax, take a deep breath, and (if needed) tell the person that you need a moment to think, or that you will get back to them later. 

Deal With Stress 

It's important to not just endure the stress you feel. We experience stress for a reason. Try not to ignore it. Stress has physiological repercussions, especially in regards to one's memory due to the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol interferes with the hippocampus, which is the area in the brain that controls our learning and memory.

When we are stressed, the cortisol levels in our hippocampus rise and obstruct our ability to remember. This inability to remember often leads to frustration and an even higher level of stress. "As you get older, chronically elevated cortisol levels are linked to memory impairment and a smaller hippocampus," explained Shireen Sindi, a researcher at McGill University in their Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. 

Learn what causes you stress and seek healthy ways to adjust your lifestyle. 

Take a Walk

Fun fact: you can expand your hippocampus by staying active! "Fitness improvement...leads to an increase in volume of this brain region [the hippocampus]," stated Dr. Art Kramer, a Univeristy of Illinois professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. 

It does not have to be anything extensive. "Just get out and walk for an hour a few days a week," stated Dr. Kramer. 

So, Remember 

  • Repetition combined with association strengthens your memory. 
  • Sleeping helps us process information. 
  • Don't stress. Staying calm makes it easier to retrieve memories. 
  • Exercise your hippocampus! Staying active improves memory.

 

 

 

 

 

The Story Behind The Wheel

Annmarie Rodriguez

deliberateLIFE was founded by Fay Johnson to help people live well and do good. Through our deliberate discourses, digital magazine, and blog content we help people make more environmentally and socially-conscious decisions in their daily lives. We the Deliberate are a community of like-minded people who believe in building a better tomorrow by making intentional choices in our daily lives. 

Whether you are an active part of our deliberateLIFE community or this is your first time to our site, you've seen our logo (imaged on this page). 

The simple and thoughtfully designed wheel symbolizes our desire to create a forward-moving community. The spokes of the wheel are made up of branches and twigs which represent our organic, natural, growing and interconnected community. I asked Fay for the more in-depth story behind the wheel. 

Here's what she said. 

deliberateLIFE: Who designed the logo? 

Fay Johnson: A Portland-based artist named Holly Sharp.   

dL: How did this idea come about?

The logo symbolizes what I hope this community will grow to be - interconnected, organic, and something that creates forward movement.
— Fay Johnson

FJ: Circles have historically represented community, connectivity, and inclusion. They also represent continuity, something that is unbroken. Our mission has always been to create that kind of community around deliberateLIFE. Holly is a talented painter, graphic designer and multimedia artist.  I loved a series of paintings she did called Without the Space Within. Circles have appeared in her work in the form of brush strokes, coffee rings left on tables, and even in a tattoo she designed for herself. (Anyone who is committed enough to tattoo a circular design onto themselves, loves circles as much as I do).

dL: What inspired you about the series of paintings? 

FJ: They're just beautiful. I love the natural tones (which you'll see across our deliberateLIFE branding), complexity and sense of balance.

dL: Why did you decide to design a icon that is separate from the words 'deliberateLIFE'?

FJ: I have always been drawn to companies with iconic logos – We all know what the Apple, Nike and McDonald's icons look like. You can see "the swoosh" anywhere and immediately think "Just Do It". deliberateLIFE has already become much more than a magazine – as we continue to grow, it's my hope that the wheel becomes something that people associate with their own intention to live a more mindful, purposeful and engaged life.


                        

Things to Learn Now for Camping This Summer

Annmarie Rodriguez

Eager to spend quality time in nature? After lots of research and personal experience, we have compiled a list of helpful camping tips to keep in mind now so that you can begin prepping for the summer.

First things first: Make sure you claim your temporary home in the wilderness. Use recreation.gov or reserveamerica.com to reserve a spot as soon as possible for the summer. 

Tips of the Trade

*Many of these tips require everyday household items. While reading the list, make note of the items you'll need so that you can start putting them aside for your future trip.  

Camping Coffee 

  1. Pour coffee grounds into a coffee filter. 
  2. Tie the filter closed with a piece of string into what will look like a makeshift tea bag. 
  3. Boil hot water and steep the coffee bag into the pot. 
  4. Enjoy your coffee in the great outdoors. 

*Needed Materials: Coffee grounds. Coffee filters. String. 

Easy-To-Make Fire Starter

  1. Collect lint from your dryer machine and empty toilet paper rolls.
  2. Next, stuff the lint into the toilet paper rolls.
  3. Take this home-made tool camping and use it to start a quality fire.
  4. Roast marshmallows, or simply enjoy the warmth.

*Needed Materials: Dryer machine lint. Empty toilet paper rolls. 

Use A Pencil Sharpener 

Useful for: starting fires and making skewers. 

How to:

  1. Find a twig and use a pencil sharpener to create a fine tip.
  2. Use the shavings to start a fire, and use the stick as a skewer to cook hot dogs or marshmallows. 

*Needed Materials: Pencil sharpener. Twig.

The Multi-functioning Water Jug

Take advantage of this awesome and easy-to-pack item. Here is a list of all the different ways in which packing a water jug could be helpful while camping: 

  • As an ice bag. Freeze the water jug and place it in an ice chest with food items to keep them cold. 
  • For drinking water. Once you're done with the ice, let it melt and drink up.   
  • To make a lantern. Shine a flash light through the melted water and bam! Lantern.
  • To make a shovel. Once the bottle is empty, use a knife to cut off the top and use it to scoop up things.  

*Needed Materials: Water Jug. Ice chest. Flash light. Knife. 

Spice-Filled Straws 

Useful for: bringing practical amounts of spices to the woods for savory cooking. 

How to:

  1. Get a plastic straw.
  2. Burn one of its ends. 
  3. Pat the burnt end closed with a piece of cloth so that the melted plastic glues together. 
  4. Pour desired spices into the straw. 
  5. Burn the opposite end & repeat step 3. 
  6. Label the straw with its corresponding spice using a Sharpie. 
  • Once you cut the end open to use for cooking, feel free to burn the end again to close back up. 

*Needed Materials: Plastic straws. A lighter. Spices. A Sharpie. 

Duct Tape Tip 

Instead of bringing a whole roll of duct tape, wrap a few feet of it around a water bottle. Keep your water bottle on you to stay hydrated and just in case you need the tape. It can be used to: 

  • Mend a tear in your tent or backpack. 
  • Cover a blister: The compression will easy the pain and keep it from getting worse.

*Needed Materials: Duct tape. Water bottle.

Journal It 

Take a few moments out in the wilderness to write down some of your thoughts. Writing in a journal is good for your emotional and physical health. There is increasing scientific evidence that shows how writing in a journal helps reduce stress and resolve conflicts with others. It's also a wonderful way to record the memories that you are making on your camping trip.

*Needed Materials: Journal. Pen or Pencil. Willingness to write and reflect. 

We hope these tips will help you live well, do good and enjoy the great outdoors.

 

Who Made My Clothes?

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez | 

Today is Fashion Revolution Day. Celebrated every year on April 24th, Fashion Rev Day marks the anniversary of the disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh two years ago when Raza Plaza building collapsed on top of the factory garment workers inside. 1,133 people were killed and 2,500 injured. 

The building collapsed due to poor working conditions and unstable building infrastructure. The clothing workers were not provided with a safe place to work, which we believe is a basic human right. Compelled to help care for the workers in this industry, Fashion Revolution was created as, "a global coalition of designers, academics, writers, business leaders and parliamentarians calling for systemic reform of the fashion supply chain."  

Many of us are familiar with the term 'sweatshop' or the phrase 'unfair working conditions' from conversations about fashion brands that needs to be more socially responsible. Yet, the reality of this issue doesn't always quite sink in until a tragic event like the Raza Plaza building collapse occurs.

Much of this problem comes from the gap between people who make clothes and those who buy it. It's an issue of disconnect. Similar to Fashion Revolution, deliberateLIFE believes that positive change in the fashion industry must begin with taking the time to know the human faces, hands, and hard labor behind our clothes. That's why this year, deliberateLIFE is joining Fashion Revolution by asking #whomademyclothes?


To raise awareness, Fashion Rev is encouraging people to wear their clothes inside out to spread the word about the importance of knowing who made your clothes. Join the revolution. Flip your shirt or sweater inside out, snap a photo and post it on Instagram or Twitter with the hastag #whomademyclothes. Above, two members of the deliberateLIFE team show their support by turning their garments inside out.

What's Consuming Our Fresh Water Supply?

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez 

When attempting to live a more water-conscious life, many of us automatically think of taking shorter showers, turning the faucet off while brushing our teeth or letting our lawns brown. These are all worth while tips! However, after writing our Making Water Conservation The Norm post, I continued researching and came upon some astonishing numbers.

Many people are unaware of how much water is used to produce certain foods. According to the Department of Water Engineering and Management from the University of Twente, 

Agricultural production takes the largest share, accounting for 92% of the global WF [water footprint].

Below is a comprehensive list containing the amount of water (per gallon) required to produce particular foods (per pound). We have also included tips on how to change eating habits in order to save water, care for ourselves and care for the earth. 

Meats 

  • Beef requires 1,847 gallons of water per pound. 
  • Pork: 718 gal/lb. 
  • Chicken: 518 gal/lb. 

Nuts 

  • Almonds: 1,929 gal/lb. 
    • This number is especially relevant for California where 80% of the world's supply of almonds are produced. This fact, coupled with it's increasing demand, have added difficulties to ending California's drought. 
  • Cashews: 1,704 gal/lb. 
  • Pistachios: 1,362 gal/lb.
  • Hazelnuts & Walnuts: 1,260 gal/lb. 

Sweets 

  • Vanilla Beans 15,159 gal/lb. 
    • Keep in mind, vanilla beans are often used in very small proportions. 
  • Chocolate: 2,061 gal/lb. 
  • Cocoa powder: 1,874 gal/lb.

Vegetables 

  • Artichokes: 98 gal/lb. 
  • Eggplant: 43 gal/lb.
  • Cucumbers: 42 gal/lb.
  • Broccoli: 34 gal/lb. 
  • Lettuce: 28 gal/lb.
  • Tomato: 26 gal/lb. 

*Tips of the trade:

Work on developing trends in your eating habits.

  • Eat less animal products and processed foods. Instead, eat more plant products. This will help you save water and eat well.

4 Ways to Make Your Clothes Last Longer

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez 

1. Put your jeans in the freezer.

If your jeans have an undesirable odor or you're worried about their color fading with too many washes, place them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer. The cold temperature will fight off the bacteria causing the smell. Doing this allows you to wash your jeans less.  

Both you and the environment win!

According to Levi Strauss Co., "If everyone in the U.S. washed their jeans after every 10 wears instead of just two (the national average), we would save enough water to meet the annual water needs for the city of San Diego (or San Jose, or Dallas!) and enough energy to power 1.3 million households.” 

*For explicit directions on how, check out this video from Apartment Therapy.

2. Use Lemons Or Baking Soda

To get out unwanted armpit stains use lemons or baking soda. For especially tough marks, put baking soda and water on the stain, let it soak in for a few minutes and then wash.

3. Use Hairspray Or Clear Nail Polish.

Snagged your tights and worried that they'll rip? Spray hairspray or paint clear nail polish on the tears to keep them from running.

4. Shave Off The Lint & Fuzz.

Got a bunch of loose lint and fuzz on your sweater, jeans or jacket? Use a razor to shave them off and restore it back to its non-linty greatness! Then, use tape to take off any left over pieces. 

*Note: the blade on the razor will only take off the surface level fuzz. 

[Image from Cotton + Curls]

Spring Recipe Ideas: What To Make

Annmarie Rodriguez

There are a plethora of tasty fruits and vegetables that are ready for the picking this time of year, as you may have seen in our two previous spring-spirited posts. Here to help you utilize your knowledge of what's in season, we've composed a list of recipes from simple to more complex. Prep time & cook time: 2 minutes to 2 hours. It all really depends on you. 

Simple Recipes 

Pineapple Salsa

Total Time: 10-15 minutes  There are a plethora of tasty fruits and vegetables that are ready for the picking this time of year, as you may have seen in our two previous spring-spirited posts. 

Here to help you utilize you r knowledge of what's in season, we've composed a list of recipes from simple to more complex. Prep time & cook time: 2 minutes to 2 hours. It all really depends on you. 

In a bowl, mix the following ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups diced fresh pineapple
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

[Recipe brought to you by Whole Foods]

Fresh Peas With Lettuce & Green Garlic Recipe   

Serving Size: 4 people 

Total Time: approx. 10-15 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 5 small stalks green garlic, thinly sliced, or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 small heads butter lettuce (about 6 oz.), washed, cored, and torn into large pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper 

Directions

Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a 12″ skillet over medium heat; add garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add peas and cook until bright green and tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in remaining butter, along with lettuce and 1 tbsp. water, season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat. Stir until lettuce is just wilted, about 1 minute.

Apple Salad (Contains Celery)

Prep Time: 15 minutes 

Total Time: 1 hour & 15 minutes 

Ingredients 

  • 2 large apples diced (Honey crisp recommended)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery 
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar 

Directions

  1. Place apples, celery and walnuts in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir mayonnaise and sugar until smooth.
  3. Pour mayonnaise over apples/celery/walnuts and mix well.  
  4. Four the best taste, refrigerate 1 hour before serving.*Tip of the trade: 

*Tip of the trade: the recipe can be easily doubled, if you would like more of this tasty goodness.  

 [Recipe brought to you by Ann Drake]

Recipes that Requires More TLC ~ Time Looking and Cooking 

Strawberry Pineapple Smoothie

Serving Size: Makes 1 smoothie

Total Time: 5-15 minutes 

Filled with delectable fruits of the season, you can feel happy about both the health benefits and flavor packed into this smoothie. 

  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple (fresh in juice recommended)
  • 1/2-1 cup ice cube
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
    • Want to make it vegan or lactose-free friendly? Swap out the skim milk for almond, soy, or rice milk.

Fill the blender with all this refreshing ingredients and blend until the liquid has smoothed.

Feel free to alter the ice input based on desired consistency--thinner or thicker. 

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This recipe is a healthy make-over of a family favorite recipe. 

Serving size: makes 5 cups 

Ingredients 

  • 2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1(10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry 
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt 
  • 1 (8 oz) block 1/3 less-fat cream cheese, softened and cut in 1/2" cubes 
  • 1 (8 oz) block fat-free cream cheese, softened and cut in 1/2" cubes 
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced (optional garnish)

Directions 

Slow Cooker Method: Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients except the red bell pepper. Stir to combine, cover and cook until heated through. 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours on high, 3 to 4 hours on low. [Recipe can be doubled]. 

Oven Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set aside half of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. In a large bowl, stir together all remaining ingredients but the red bell pepper. Spoon mixture into greased or sprayed 1& 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle top with remaining cheeses. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes of until bubbly and golden. 

To Serve: Sprinkle cooked dip with diced red pepper, if desired. Serve warm with crackers, tortilla chips, pita chips, crostini, or raw vegetables. 

[Recipe by Yummy Life]

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

CC0504_strawberry-rhubarb-pie_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscape.jpeg

Serving Size: 8 people

Total Time: 2 hours (1 to prep, 1 to cook)

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • looking for a healthy alternative? Try Arrowroot!
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie
  • 1 egg beaten for glaze
  • sugar (optional) 

Directions 

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit 

Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch of arrowroot, lemon juice and cinnamon in a bowl. 

  1. On lightly floured surface, roll our half of the pastry and line a 9-inch pie plate. 
  2. Spoon in the filling from the bowl.
  3. Roll our the pastry for top crust: using pastry wheel or knife, cut into 1-inch wide strips. 
  4. Beat eff and brush pastry rim with some of the egg. 
  5. Gently weave strips over the pic to form lattice; trim and flute the edge. 
  6. Brush lattice with the rest of the beaten egg. Sprinkle top with sugar if using. 
  7. Bake on a baking sheet with the sides in the oven for 15 minutes. 

*Tip of the trade: If you do not have a cookie sheet handy, make a drip catcher out of foil paper, larger than the bottom of thepie plate, and place it under the pie plate and up the sides loosely. 

  1. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes more or until rhubarb is tender, filling is thickened and crust is golden. 
  2. Let the pie cool off for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting. 
  3. Enjoy the nutrient-rich ingredients and taste! 
[Recipe from Canadian Living Magazine; May 1993]

Spring Time Vegetables

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez 

‘Eat your vegetables!’ may be an expression echoing through your head from childhood. Since it's a familiar expression, it can be easy to dismiss. Yet, to make consistent healthy choices it’s important to cultivate a deeper understanding of why eating certain vegetables can be valuable.

Similar to our ‘Spring Time Fruits’ post, we have researched and compiled a list of various vegetables that are in their peak season during spring. The list includes their nutritional value.

Our hope is that this will help you shop, cook and eat well.  

Vegetables In Season

Rhubarb is often used as a fruit, but is technically a vegetable. It is available year-round, but grows with greater variety from April through July. It contains a good source of vitamin C, potassium and manganese.

*Important to note: rhubarb stalks are the only part of the plant that you should eat.

Asparagus are in their prime during April; however, their full season lasts from February through June. This vegetable contains numerous health benefits due to its many nutrients, including: fiber, folate, Vitamin A, antioxidants (Vitamin C, E, minerals: manganese and selenium).They are high in gluthanthione, which is a 'detoxifying compound' that helps our bodies fight off harmful substances like free radicals.

*Fun fact: Asparagus comes in three colors—green, purple and white. 

Spinach is often referred to as an ultra-healthy 'power' vegetable. If you've ever seen Popeye, a cartoon series from the 1930s, you know what I'm talking about. Popeye, the protagonist, eats a can of spinach in times of need and quickly bulges with muscles and strength. Although you may not gain superhuman strength by eating a can of it, spinach is in fact an incredibly nutritious vegetable. It contains large amounts of Vitamin K which helps our bodies maintain bone health.  It also contains a wonderful supply of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. It is available year-round, but is in season during the spring from March to June. 

*Tip of the trade when cooking spinach: It doesn’t hurt to put a little more spinach in your pan than you might think. Spinach has a large water content which causes it to shrink.

Artichokes are at their peak season from March to May. Artichokes contain a rich nestle of nutrients, which include: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, folate, and great amounts of fiber (about 10 grams for a medium sized artichoke). They hold anti-inflammatory antioxidants within their green, round and slightly spiky exterior.  

*Fun fact: California grows close to 100% of all of the artichokes in the U.S.

Green Garlic is a young form of garlic that looks like green onion because of its stalk. It is in season from February to June. When eaten fresh, green garlic helps boost your immune system due to the allicin it contains, which also gives garlic its strong smell. Because of this, it helps prevent both the cold and flu. 

Peas are in season from April to November. You can eat them cold or warm, whole or just the peas without the pod. In addition to their versatility in consumption, peas are low in calories, and high in protein and fiber. They also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to the following nutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, antioxidant mineral zinc, and alpha-linolenic acid (through which peas provide Omega-3 fat). They also contain pisumsaponins I & II along with pisomosides A & B. 

Celery is in season from April to December. Celery is filled with healthy content. It contains Vitamin A, C, E, D, B6, B12, K, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, and fiber. All these nutrients gathered together in this green stalk-y vegetable to provide the following health benefits: reduced blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, reduced inflammation (around joints, in the lungs due to asthma, and the like), and it's good for your eyes (due to its Vitamin A content) and soothes your nervous system which means: stress relief! 

*Tip of the trade: It will retain more of its great nutrients if it is freshly chopped. If you're going to chop it up, do so the same day as consumption. 

 

 

[Photograph by David Marsden. Photo Library: Getty Images] 

The Case for Being Unprofessional at Work

Annmarie Rodriguez

A recent article published in Forbes asked the question, "Does Crying Kill Your Career?" This sparks an important conversation about the necessity for an authentic human experience in the workplace. Crying is viewed by many as unprofessional, regardless of gender. However, behaving professionally does not mean that we cease to be human. 

Stoicism has little value in the modern workplace as connection and a sense of safety allow employees to perform their best, most creative work. Sometimes emotions get the better of us, and it is far better to release by crying and seek help than to just suppress the feelings and keep pushing through.  

Many people become uncomfortable around tears due to fear. Managers are afraid to be sued by handling the situation incorrectly, or even just to cross that imaginary boundary where an employee or a colleague is seen fully as another person. That is one of the reasons why our managers solicit feedback from their teams every week, because the greatest weapon against fear and disconnection in the workplace is asking a question.

Part of asking the right questions is being prepared for the answers you might receive, and the emotions associated with the responses you may not likebut building trust requires transparency. Some see the expression of emotions as a weakness, while others  create safe environments where expressing emotions skillfully can begin a process of breakthroughs.

Disagreements at the workplace inevitably arise and sometimes emotions run high. For example if an employee works on a project for six months and the management team decides not to put it into action, that person can feel marginalized. It’s not uncommon for anger or tears to well-up as a result. Creating an environment that promotes honesty encourages that person to share their frustration. This ultimately fosters more connection between managers and employees, and can lead to more effective performance.

The skill-set necessary for resolving conflicts with finesse is exemplified in the work of the renowned psychologist Dr. Daniel Goleman. Goleman’s framework of emotional intelligence at work is as important as the intellectual know-how that it takes to get each task done. Crying may be the most authentic response to a very real situation, and this kind of transparency is part of building the trust that is needed to resolve issues and collaborate effectively.

Self-Awareness: Taking a Step Back

At one of our leadership retreats, I had a disagreement with a manager on how to approach an issue. I was advocating for one possibility and he shot down my idea saying, “that’s not it,” but had no alternate solution to offer. We were both livid at first, but our outbursts were followed by a conversation where we discovered one another’s perspectives.  I was really attached to my idea and imagined that it was being bulldozed with nothing to replace it.

Taking a step back I realized that wasn’t the reality. When emotions come up, they can get the best of us and cloud our thinking. We get into trouble. We imagine that our reality is the truth, but it is just our perception. We treat our assessments and perspectives as underlying facts. When I cooled off and became more self-aware, I was able to approach the situation with more curiosity for my colleague’s point of view, and feel even more connected with him afterwards.

Empathy: Building a Bridge and Moving on

When multiple realities collide, take a minute to retrace your own thinking and make space for the other person to express their story and point of view, then the crucial conversations can really begin. When the other person feels unsafe to express opinions or dissent, they lock their creativity inside and relationships can be damaged irreparably.

In the Forbes article referenced above, Chery Connor offers an example of recommended HR guidelines: “when an employee cries the manager should offer tissues and listen, but should not touch the employee or offer reassurances, as the situation could have liability inferences such as sexual harassment claims.” I can certainly see the need for guidelines for how managers handle emotional situations at work. But whenever you put rules in place that limit natural behaviors, you are also limiting creativity and authentic human connection. If you want to prevent a car accident from happening, would the solution be to permanently shut down the highway?

Imposing limits to protect against a situation where someone gets emotional and considers suing you may seem like the safest route. But you are putting up a barrier to human interactions that lead to more connection, and higher performance. Shutting down the highway for the one accident that may occur limits all connection and productivity.

The goal is not to avoid these emotional situations. They inevitably happen, and can be accompanied by shame and discomfort because they are not commonly accepted in the workplace. Treating people with humanity and respect creates more understanding, connection, and trust. These can be profound opportunities for personal and interpersonal growth. When handled properly, you are more likely to facilitate long-term loyalty and engagement from employees.

Self-Regulation: Making Room for the Range of Emotions.

Emotions are a part of being human, and unexpressed emotions can lead to distress and take their toll on our health.  We all want to be healthy humans with a high quality of life, and expressing emotions actually lets the stress out of us. Conversely, shutting off an emotion or access to it because that’s deemed unprofessionalimpacts our overall ability to feel.

To be fully expressed and creative individuals with much to offer, we cannot limit the range of emotions that we are willing to feel.  If you want to experience the heights of joy, you have to be willing to experience the depths of pain. If you want people to experience passion, engagement, inspiration and enthusiasm (great performance) you can’t shut off fear, anger, frustration and pain. If you are looking to build a company of numbed out robots, go for it. But if you want people to operate at their peak, you have to make the opposite acceptable.

Managers have to be cognizant of when employees are overwhelmed by emotion as they may need additional support or some time off. They can also have a negative impact on morale and productivity company-wide. But overall people have to be encouraged to share openly with their managers in the right settings like in their 1-on-1 meetings.

The best-selling book Crucial Conversations, discusses how you can express yourself (no matter how offensively) and feel heard as long as there is safety. Learning to become proficient at creating a sense of safety will allow you to help people express how they really feel. Issues that would otherwise never see the light of day just fester, but when they are out in the open appropriate action can be taken. This ability to honestly and safely express oneself can also lead to personal breakthroughs. This can manifest in creativity, innovation, and doing great work.

Expectations: Be Careful What You Wish For.

When I expect someone to be a jerk,  they will probably show up that way in my presence. If I have a permanent story that someone is a jerk, that’s how I will filter every interaction with them. My task is to get to the root of my own story and my own part in creating situations.

Writer and psychologist Gay Hendricks’ believes that each side is 100% responsible for the outcome of a situation. Sometimes the difference between resolution and a continual gripe around the water cooler is surrendering to this concept that each side has a part and no one is a victim of circumstance.

Create new possibilities by shifting from labeling someone in your mind with preconceptions and assumptions to taking a completely different road and granting trust to the person. It’s the difference between this reaction, “he’s being  curt and looked frustrated. He doesn’t like me and is just not saying it”, and actually confronting the issue, “Remember that time that you responded curtly when I was mentioning my results on that project. It seemed that you were frustrated and angry and not sharing it. This is how I felt. Here is the story I made up. I may be wrong but I wanted to clear that with you because I want to have a good relationship and do great work.”

Moving through conflict as full-spectrum human beings requires us to look at our own selves with curiosity and come to the table with curiosity for our colleagues. The task then is to mind the gap between where we both are and where we can envision one another to be. This is a courageous task, because looking at the truth can mean that we have to come to terms with the lies that we tell ourselves.

When I look critically at myself, I may see that there is something preventing me from doing my best work. Then I question my perceptions. By questioning my own perspective, I may out my stories as not-quite-truth but something that I made up. Then, I can open up to other perspectives.

From this place, managers and employees or coworkers can come to common ground, working through the conflicts as they arise. We can bring our emotions to the table when there is trust, safety, curiosity and consideration of our colleagues, not as human resources but as human beings. And when we are on the same side of the table, we are united in our mission and can do our best work.

David Hassell is Founder & CEO of 15Five, web-based communication software that elevates the performance of managers, employees and entire organizations by initiating weekly conversations that quickly uncover achievements, challenges, and risks. Learn how David and his team are helping companies inspire greatness in their people at www.15five.com.
 

Spring Time Fruits

Annmarie Rodriguez

For those of us near the west coast, spring is finally here. This means new colors, warmer weather, and new fruits and vegetables.

For your spring know-how, we have compiled a list of fruits that are at their peak during this time of year.

What's In Season

Strawberries are accessible all year-round, but hit their most prime season from April to June.  Health wise, they have a good source of fiber, manganese and potassium. They are also high in vitamin C which is an antioxidant and helps promote immunity.

Sweet Cherries are only available during the late spring and early summer so eat up while you can! These juicy delights are high in potassium and fiber, low in calories.

Pineapples are best during April to May. The Hawaiian ones are considered the freshest, especially those marked with a ‘Jet Fresh’ tag on them. This means (as one might insinuate from the tag) that they were flown over (if you’re not in Hawaii) by a jet and are only 2-3 days old—in terms of when they were plunked from their plant. That’s right! Pineapples come from leafy plants, not trees.

Oranges: Navel, Blood, and Valencia Oranges are currently in season. Navel Oranges are in peak season from March to April, and Blood Oranges are in their prime only during March. Valencia Oranges, often referred to as summer oranges are actually in season as early as March until August. These fruits are a great source of vitamin C, a good source of B Vitamins (including: B1, pantothenic acid and folate), Vitamin A, calcium, copper, and potassium.

Grapefruit are in season from winter to early spring. They are high in Vitamin C and contain the antioxidant lycopene (only found in pink and red grapefruit). Lycopene has a high ability to help fight off oxygen free radicals which damage cells. 


When you choose to buy and eat what is in season, you support our environment and your own health. Enjoy!

Walking Gratitude

Annmarie Rodriguez

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By Annmarie Rodriguez || Simply put, gratitude is the quality of being thankful. Though the word may evoke mixed feelings, or bad memories of being pressured by an overly optimistic relative or friend, it (in its most authentic form) has the ability to positively alter the way we think and perceive the world around us. Gratitude is not meant to mask difficult scenarios. Rather, it can provide a lens for us to view life more holisticallytaking in the good with the bad. 

I'm not always the first to admit it, but Mom may have been on to something... 

My Mom grew up in Guyana, a developing nation in South America. Throughout my childhood, she constantly reminded my brothers and I to be thankful. This included all the great food we had because "back in Guyana" (a frequently used household phrase) all they had to eat for lunch were two slices of bread and one slice of meat. Food is absolutely something worth being thankful for, but sometimes this constant reminder made cultivating an attitude of gratitude feel forced or insincere. Maturity has brought perspective and I've been able to practice gratitude in a more genuine and regular way. This behavior shift has had a positive effect on my quality of life.   

Thankfulness is linked to happiness as well as other physiological benefits. Science shows that gratitude helps people cope with stress and promotes optimism which boosts your immune system. There are many studies that verify these claims.

As noted in our previous post, ‘Setting Goals for the Life You Want,’ Darrell Jones is a great example of someone who believes deliberate living requires thoughtful and diligent action. Through this philosophy he has worked towards, developed and acquired many life-giving habits.

One of them is gratitude walks:  

“I have a gratitude practice every morning. I recount things for which I’m thankful,” stated Darrell.  He practices this on a particular street near his work. He started by forcing himself to think of what he was grateful for. It has since grown into a habit, and even further, into a joy-filled association. “Whenever I walk along this street now, I get happy and start thinking of things I’m grateful for,” explained Darrell.  

The simple act of being thankful redirects your attention away from the often too large list of things you want to do or buy. Practicing gratitude reconciles us to the truth of what is good now instead of fixating on what is, was, or might be problematic in the future. 

Gratitude walks are a great way to cultivate optimism while staying active. However, if you want to try a different gratitude practice or add on a new one...

Here are some other habits to help you foster an attitude of gratitude: 

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  • Keep a Journal. Conjuring up a list mentally or physically, on paper, of what you are grateful for can seem daunting. It's often easier to think of the big things (like promotions, getting a new car or receiving an award) as worthy of gratitude and forget the small or seemingly obvious. Making thankfulness a habit brings to light the reality of how wonderful what we do or have actually is

  • Write letters or send emails to people you are thankful for. This habit reaps benefits well worth the time and effort it takes to write and send a note.

  • Set an alarm on your phone or laptop to remind you to pause and be grateful. This habit has the ability to positively influence mood and increase productivity. 

  • Create a Gratitude Jar. Keep a jar, pad of paper, and pen nearby your desk or bed. Write down a few things you’re thankful for each day and put them in the jar. At the end of each week or month, take a few minutes to sit and read through them. Need help being accountable? Do it with a friend or loved one. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised at how much your jar overflows. 

 

Whether you try one of our suggestions or create your own way to pause and appreciate life, we hope you enjoy the bounty of what a grateful heart and a positive mind can produce.

Making Water Conservation the Norm

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez ||

According to the LA Times, California is drinking up its last year’s supply of water. In California, it’s easy to gaze out at the beautiful Pacific (assuming you’re near the coast) and feel as though our current state of drought is less than severe. Truth is: though the majority of our earth is composed of water, only about 1% of it is available for human use.

As a community, it’s important that we work together to change our mentality and habits towards how we use water.

The drought is not an issue that can be conquered by environmental enthusiasts alone. Practicing water conscious habits is a necessity for all of us. Water Conservation is an invaluable way in which we can advocate for the well-being of both ourselves and others, including those of future generations. Water preservation can seem daunting, an extra task on your ever-growing list of to-dos. However, if you put in a little time upfront (to assess and implement healthy change), conserving water can become a regular and easy part of your everyday life.

To help, Here are some tips of the trade:

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  • Take Quick Showers: Have trouble keeping track of time? Make a shower playlist and challenge yourself to finish your shower within one song’s length of time.
  • Flush Less: If it’s yellow let it…well, you know how it goes.
  • Turn It Off: Make sure to turn the water off so the faucet’s not running while your brushing your teeth. Also, instead of thawing food items by running the faucet until the water's hot, throw your food in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Wash Efficiently: Only use the washing machine when it’s full. The fewer loads you run, the less water you use.
  • Fix Leaks: Make a habit of annual plumbing and irrigation system checks. Little leaks in the home can lead to gallons of daily water loss.
  • Invest in Less: In less water use, that is. Buying water-efficient products (shower heads, toilets and the like) can help you save both water and money. One way to determine if a product is water-efficient is by looking for a watersense label which indicates that the product has met U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) qualifications for "water efficiency and performance." 
  • Compost It: Add food waste to a compost pile instead of throwing it down the garbage disposal (which uses water). For more info on how to create a compost pile, click here.

It's easy to think that our water supply is plentiful. For a large number of us, each time we turn on the faucet, hop into the shower or press against the lever in our fridge with a glass, water comes flowing out. Though plentiful is far from the case,  there is something we can actively do to make a positive change. We can integrate water conscious habits into our day-to-day lives.

We hope that the above tips will help you as you deliberately choose to be part of the solution; save water and live well. 

[Graphic from the U.S. EPA]

Setting Goals for the Life You Want

Annmarie Rodriguez

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By Annmarie Rodriguez |

deliberateLIFE shares an office with two other start-up companies (Clef Inc. and ShopPad). The office is filled with bright blue walls, sit-stand desks, and hardworking people. Inspired by the work ethic and kindness of those nearby, we decided to interview Darrell Jones, Clef's Head of Business Development, about what deliberate living means to him.

Over lunch, I asked Darrell about his weekend, which quickly revealed one of the ways he is able to live so deliberately. He explained how he utilized the weekend to write out something similar to a life audit (explained below).

In order to become the type of person you want to be, Darrell believes that, “You need to have in your mind a very clear vision of who you want to be and then find role models who you can emulate along  those lines of your vision.”

Affiliating yourself with people who you admire and can learn from is encouraging – it gives you courage. Seeking out mentors, hearing their stories, and having the permission to pick their brains for how they've become who they are is a helpful way of stepping into the life you desire.  

“Often when people talk about wanting to live deliberately, they set very vague goals. They don’t have any actionable items or a process through which they can gauge their own progression,” expressed Darrell.

As discovered through a study done on the 1979 Harvard MBA program, there is a clear correlation between specific goal writing and success. The study surveyed a group of Harvard students and found that 3% specifically recorded their goals, 13% wrote down broad goals, and 84% did neither. Ten years later, they found that the 3% who wrote down their specific goals were making about 10 times as much as the other two groups.

Whether or not your goal is to earn more money, specific goal writing is helpful in keeping yourself accountable to the deliberate choices you are hoping to make.

Each morning at deliberateLIFE, we write down each task we need to accomplish and approximately how long each will take. Our founder, Fay Johnson, also has a nice framed list of her specific goals for 2015 by her desk. Each item has a box that can be checked off.

With this knowledge in mind, here’s what Darrell wrote down on a big sheet of poster paper during his weekend. It's a smaller version of a life audit: 

  • In the Middle: He wrote down who he wants to be.
  • At the Top: An overarching statement that reflects an important part of who he wants to be.
  • To the Left: 4 characteristics that he wants to embody and emulate.
  • To the Right: 3 of his most important values (his priorities).
  • At the Bottom: A call to actiona general statement of something he’d like to do on a daily basis.

Darrell said that this activity was helpful and attempts a similar process of recalibration once or twice each month.

Taking the time to articulate the type of person you want to be is empowering. It influences your daily decisions and creates coherency in your lifestyle. This intentionality can come in the form of a full-blown life audit, a similar and smaller version (as exemplified by Darrell), or by simply writing a thoughtful list of specific goals – personal or professional.

Whichever route you choose, we've found hearing stories like Darrell’s helpful in expanding our views of what deliberate living can look like. We hope it helps you too!

 

A Week of Water – My Hydration Challenge

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez. || We've all heard that we need to drink 7 glasses of water a day. When I started at deliberateLIFE, I decided to calculate my ideal daily water intake. Based on my calculations, my ideal daily water intake is 9.5 (based on the weather, my level of physical activity and my body weight). I am far from reaching this goal, so I decided to challenge myself for a week. They say it only takes 10 days to create a new habit, so a focused effort seemed the best way to begin shifting my behavior.

Day 1—Monday

It wasn’t too bad today. As long as I kept my Nalgene (a water bottle equivalent to 4 cups) within viewing distance, I naturally remembered to keep drinking. I got through about two Nalgene's = 8 cups. But once the bottle was out of sight, it was harder to stay on track. Based on the amount of fruit and vegetables that I ate, I think I wasn't far off for day one. Good start!

Day 2 –Tuesday

Today was a bit tougher. Amidst the hustle n’ bustle, I forgot to keep my water bottle nearby. I did remember, however, to keep pouring myself glasses of water. Pouring, not drinking.

I came back to my room at the end of the day and was surprised by the pile of cups that had formulated on my desk: 1 Nalgene, 1 mug, and 4 glasses-all of which were still pretty full. Determined to meet my ideal intake, I sat down and drank them all before bed. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so full from water. Although, I reached my water intake for the day—I do not recommend this method. I woke up several times during the night to use the restroom. Note To Self – drink your water during the day.

Day 3—Wednesday

It was hard to drink water today because I still felt full from chugging so much water from the night before. Despite feeling a little full, I still wanted to reach my daily intake. My Nalgene was nearby, but as I zoned in on work, I seldom remembered to drink water. I almost reached my daily intake, but fell a few cups short.

Day 4—Thursday                 

Today went well. I kept my water bottle on me most places I went.  I finished my first Nalgene (4 cups) by the early afternoon and finished my second before I got ready to go to bed. In addition, I made sure to eat fruits and veggies that had high concentrations of water.  Today was the best yet in terms of consistent water intake.

Day 5—Friday

The habit of hydration is slowly settling in. Though I was able to drink a sufficient amount of water today it has yet to feel like a natural part of my daily routine, but I’m enjoying the process.  It has only been 5 days and I feel a healthy difference. My lips are less dry and in general, this challenge has made me more aware of what I put in my body and the importance of intentionality. 

Throughout this week of trial and error, I have realized the importance of strategy. Whether it’s placing sticky notes in your office, setting alarms on your phone, or keeping your favorite reusable water bottle nearby--tangible reminders can help you to live a healthy and happy life. 

Day 10 Update:

This past week the new staff got (cute) glass mason jars with lids and glass straws (cuts down on exposure to plastic toxins). The rest of the team has been using these jars to keep themselves on track with their water intake, and I can see why. Having something that you don't mind having out on your desk or in your hand when you walk to a meeting, definitely helps keep water in sight. Several teammates swear by drinking out of a straw. (Our Editor, Fay, can regularly be caught at her standing desk sucking down 3 cups of water while typing away). I am getting through 6-7 cups at the office, which helps avoid the late-night chug.

My body is getting used to being hydrated and I now notice when I haven't drunk enough water. A good sign that a new habit is forming.

Interview: Annmarie's Take on Deliberate Living

Annmarie Rodriguez

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This semester, deliberateLIFE  has the pleasure of hosting Annmarie, a Junior at Westmont College as our editorial intern. We interviewed her to get a deeper insight into what living deliberately means to her.

deliberateLIFE: Where did you grow up?

Annmarie Rodriguez: I grew up in Southern California, in the city of Irvine. 

dL: What interests you about editorial work?

AR: In working on editorials, you get to both learn (through research and investigation) and also to teach (through writing). You have the ability to share valuable information, relate-able or completely odd-ball stories, and the like. You get to share acquired wisdom and various snippets of life, often with people you've never met before. I love that.

dL: What does deliberate living mean to you?

AR: Living deliberately stems from the inherent, beautiful, and unavoidable knowledge that people matter; both people and the earth. When I view life in these simple terms, living deliberately feels less daunting and more natural. Because the world is such an intricate and interconnected place, choices often affect more people than we are aware of. For example, choosing where to buy groceries can appear separate from social justice issues. In reality, where we shop and how we spend our money are often the most frequent ways in which we vote for or against social injustices (slavery, unfair wages, chemical usage, etc.). For me, living deliberately begins with waking up each morning knowing that my decisions matter and working to inform my choices with reliable, life-giving information. 

dL: What current deliberate choices are you making? 

AR: Recently, I've been using a reusable lunch bag instead of paper bags each day. I’ve been eating organic, locally grown, fair trade foods as often as possible and trying to run at least 3 times a week. When I run, I try to explore a new place each time--whether it's Golden Gate Park, the bridge, or Ocean beach--it makes staying healthy fun. I’m also working on attaining my ‘ideal water intake’ each day in order to stay hydrated. It's been a real challenge, but I've begun to feel a positive difference. I also intentionally choose to buy a majority of my clothes from second hand stores, such as: buffalo exchange and crossroads. 

dLIn what ways are you hoping to improve your deliberate living in the next four months? 

AR: I’m hoping to keep making the same daily choices as stated before. Other than that, I really want to learn more about where and how the clothes I wear is produced. I’d love to learn about the different chemicals that are used in cleaning and beauty products in order to be more aware of potentially harmful ingredients. For me, knowing the place and people around me well is also an important aspect of deliberate living. Since I just moved to San Francisco about a month ago, there's still so much too see and do. I'm hoping to be more deliberate in exploring the beautiful, obscure, local, and touristy parts of the city as well as making an intentional effort to be a valuable part of the community. 

dL What are the main obstacles that have kept you from living a deliberate life? & How have you worked to overcome them? 

AR: I’ve often felt too busy, which is silly. A big part of deliberate living (for me) is remembering its incredible value—because if it’s worth doing than it’s worth taking the time up front to figure out how it can be properly implemented into everyday life. The biggest way I’ve overcome this obstacle is by taking the time to recognize my priorities. I contemplate what’s really important and worth spending my time on. Time and time, I am reminded that the only kind of life I want to live is a deliberate one. 

Interview: Rachel's Take on Deliberate Living

Annmarie Rodriguez

This past January, deliberateLIFE hired two interns to work on Event Planning and Content Building. We interviewed them both to gain a deeper insight on how they live deliberately. First, meet Rachel Harril, the Events & Marketing Intern. 

deliberateLIFE: Where did you grow up?

Rachel Harril: I grew up in Los Angeles County in a city called Carson.

dL: What interests you about event planning and marketing?

RH: The level of personal interaction, the prep work, the fast-paced environment and getting to see the joy on peoples' faces when they interact with the brand.

dL: What does deliberate living mean to you? 

RHI think it means to recognize that making small daily choices for yourself and/or your community, will have a lasting impact. Whether that’s changing certain eating habits, buying certain products, or refraining from buying products, living deliberately means paying attention to the story that is behind each choice and to your own influence in that story.

dL: What current deliberate choices are you making?

RHI try to be deliberate in my clothing, coffee, food, and waste management. Most of my clothes come from second-hand stores, or from friends or family members. I’ve eased myself off of large-chain coffee companies and worked toward frequenting the smaller local shops. I’m eating healthily (probably the healthiest I’ve ever eaten) – organic fruits and vegetables, more lean meats, and no fast food. And I’m a lot more conscious of what article of waste goes into which bin (compost vs. recycling vs. trash), rather than throwing everything in the trash. 

dL: In what ways are you hoping to improve your deliberate living in the next four months? 

RH: I want to make some smaller goals – buying a reusable lunch box, for example. I want to create consistency in my food consumption, and continue with the healthier lifestyle that I've initiated. On a larger scale, I want to continually grow in living deliberately in my relationships. In the last few months, I've definitely taken some relationships for granted and not kept lines of communication open the way I should have, so I’m working to rectify that. I also want to build a greater sense of community in my time up here in the Bay area.

dL: What are the main obstacles that have kept you from living a deliberate life? & How have you worked to overcome them? 

RHHonestly, my own laziness has been my biggest challenge. It takes a conscious effort to think about each choice you make, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. Sometimes I get in a mood or a state of mind where I don’t feel up to the task. My personal solution to this is to take a step back and to re-focus my perspective. I have to re-ask myself, what is the choice you need to make? Why is this important? What is the impact? It’s when I can stop and ponder these questions that I can shift my perspective back to where it needs to be.

Chocolate Made the Loving Way

Annmarie Rodriguez

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When one thinks of the most typical Valentine's Day gifts, chocolates immediately come to mind and not just every day chocolates, but boxes of beautifully presented, specialty chocolates that, when given, will communicate love at best, or fulfill cultural expectations at least. According to a 2009 Nielsen report, Americans purchased around 58 million pounds (over $345 million USD) of Valentine's Day chocolates prior to the holiday!

Although chocolate has a long history of notoriety, there is a bitter side to its sweet story. Just as slavery is known to exist in the production of cotton, steel, oriental rugs, diamonds and silk, cocoa production also lends itself to exploitative labor. Child labor and bonded slaves are often used in the harvesting of the cacao pods. According to a US government-funded study, over 1.8 million children work in West Africas cacao industry. Many of these children are subject to unsafe working conditions. This unsavory reality has stirred activists and businesses alike to seek solutions.

Consumers who wish to enjoy guilt-free treats now have many options available to them. Possibly the easiest way to ensure that your chocolate is ethically produced is to buy Fair Trade certified products. The Fair Trade certified label guarantees that the farmers who were involved in growing the raw materials in your chocolate receive fair prices for their crops. It also ensures that slave labor and child labor were not used during the production cycle. You can check out Fair Trade USAs website for a list of chocolate manufacturers.

It is important to note, however, that there are companies making ethically sourced produces that, for financial reasons, choose to forgo the Fair Trade certification process. These companies may choose to develop relationships directly with farmers, monitor their own supply chain and label their products ‘direct trade’ or ‘ethically’ made. The benefit of direct trade, some argue, is that producers can pay higher prices to farmers due to the savings incurred by not going through the certification process.

While we at deliberateLIFE are strongly in favor of producers receiving the best possible price, we do encourage supporting companies that undergo external evaluation of their supply chain to maintain transparency.

Note: Organic products are definitely better for the environment and for one’s health, but it’s important to note that ‘organic’ is not synonymous with ‘slave-free’.

Through Discomfort to Connection

Fay Johnson

Fay M. Johnson, Editor-in-Chief | Yesterday I headed to the airport and hopped on a plane to Burbank. Our first event in Los Angeles, a dinner discussion (part of our Deliberate Discourse series) was to be held that night in Los Feliz. Upon arrival to Southern California, I headed to the store, picked up last minute items for our evening and began preparations with our host, Davey, and the chef for the evening, Scott. We set up tables and chairs, cleaned and placed flowers on the tables.

An hour later we kicked off our 5th dinner on the topic of race in America. Just as we have started each dinner, I welcomed our guests and asked them to reflect on their intentions for the evening. Participants expressed the following: they were there to learn, to be present, to increase in understanding and to connect with others. I then asked them to express in one word how they were currently feeling about the issue. They expressed feeling: Frustrated. Hopeless. Stuck. Angry. Isolated. Overwhelmed. As they shared how they were currently feeling, the conversation naturally shifted into talk about recent events from the last six months. I noted how similar their feels were to those expressed by other Deliberate Discourse attendees in Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose. Many of us are unsure about how to deal with racism, institutional injustice, and other harmful divisions.

One thing that has surfaced over the last five dinners is how much discomfort keeps us from connecting and potentially learning from one another. There is a high level of fear associated with talking about race. Euro-Americans expressed high levels of 'white guilt' and a consequential fear of speaking up because they don't really know where they fit into the conversation. Some expressed fear of stepping on toes, saying the wrong thing, or having their intentions misunderstood. Our African-American attendees have spoken frequently about not wanting to be perceived as the 'angry black' woman or man in the room. Sometimes they hesitate to speak out against racist comments in a desire to 'keep the peace'. A few black, Caribbean and African-born guests shared how they have had to navigate their relationships with black Americans that they do not share a common history (but do share a common reality) with. At every dinner someone has admitted that they almost didn't come because they were fearful of how the night would go.

I have admitted at each dinner how I too have to push through my fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, or asking the wrong question, to fully engage. Having had the privilege of being at most of our dinners, it is getting easier to sit with this discomfort. Every time I have asked a question, despite my fear of coming across as potentially offensive, I have been met with a kind and thoughtful reply. This has encouraged me to sojourn on into deeper conversation and understanding. At each dinner we divide attendees into groups of 5 or 6 to maximize everyone's participation. At this dinner, my group discussed terminology that wasn't common to everyone in our circle. This topic, in a different setting, might have been glossed over. I am grateful for those who asked honest questions and for those who shared their perspective within the group.

The structure of our LA dinner was just like the rest – provide good food, a safe space, a few questions and time. By 10:45 pm (we were scheduled to end at 9:30 pm) we had all gathered around the fire to share how our separate group conversations had gone, what we had learned and how we felt. Every person present had a different experience with race, racial identity and the diversity of social interaction. Sisters who attended shared how one had no black friends and the other had no white friends despite having grown up in the same home and both being black. Books were suggested. Movies were analyzed (leave it up to LA to be the only dinner that brought in a film critique to make a point). And encouragement was given.

A big take away? Everyone needs to participate. Black Americans only make up 12.6% of the US population, as one black guest pointed out. Creating changes at a national level will require white participation. Those unsure of what role to play were asked to actively participate in taking off their own blinders and to work towards countering white dominance in their environments. Though it is not always an easy task, naming and talking about racism also removes a portion of the power it has in a given situation. The best next step for conversations like these, and for this issue in general, is to continually push through the discomfort created by the unknown, to talk and to engage. 

Our next conversations will take place in Portland on the 15th and Chicago on the 25th.