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Filtering by Category: deliberate Choices

4 Exercises You Can Do While Getting Ready in the Morning

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez | 

Eat. Work. Sleep. This is the daily routine of many Americans. Some are able to squeeze time in for a social life, and even fewer do so for exercise. With work at the top of on our to-do lists (or even taking over our to-do lists), it's easy to compartmentalize exercise as an un-ideal and unproductive task.

Effective exercise doesn't have to look like hours spent at the gym or around the track. Those activities can be wonderful, but are not mandatory for holistic health. 

In a New York Times article titled, "One Twin Exercises, the Other Doesn't," Dr. Kujala [a professor of sports and exercise medicine at the University of Jyvaskyla] explained how, "Even if the input from our DNA and upbringing urges us to skip the gym, we can 'move more.'" Based on this study, he says, we can "rapidly and substantially improve the condition of our bodies and brains."

We care for our mental, emotional and physical well-being when we take a few moments to exercise each day. 

When To Exercise

The exercises listed below can be done: 

  • While waiting for the shower to warm up.
  • Waiting for the coffee to brew.
  • This one is especially relevant for #4 since you're likely to be in a kitchen or near a chair. 
  • Waiting for your straightener or curler to heat up. 
  • Waiting for your eggs to fry or bread to toast. 

Get Moving In the Morning

1. Calf Raises

The exercise: Simply stand on your tiptoes and slowly lower your heels without touching the ground. Once your heels get close to touching the ground, raise them back up and repeat. 

How many? Do 1-2 sets of 30-50 calf raises. This should take less than 3 minutes to do. 

2. Squats

The exercise: Place you feet shoulder-width apart. Squat down & stand back up. Focus your weight towards the back of your heels for balance. You can also extend your arms out in front of you to help keep your back straight, which will give you better form.

How many? Start with 2-3 sets of 10 squats in the morning, and feel free to increase as your legs grow stronger. 

3. Push Ups

There are many different ways to do a push up. You can do a traditional push up, a knees-down push up, a standing push up, or (if you want to challenge yourself) a spider push up. 

The exercises: 

  • Traditional push up: Put your weight on your hands and toes. Push down at a 90 degree angle and come back up. Make sure to keep your back straight for better form. 
  • Knees-down push up: Assume a traditional push up position, but instead of balancing on your feet/toes, use your knees. 
  • Standing-up push up: Lean your hands against a wall or a bed at about a 45 degree angle or greater (a greater angle adds difficulty). 
  • Spider push up: Start in a traditional push up form. Lower your body down. As you push back up, pull one of your knees to your side so that it's parallel to your body. Switch between your two legs. Pushing back up and pulling up one of your knees should be simultaneous.

How many?

Start with 1-2 sets of 10 push ups each morning. Feel free to do more once you feel your arms, legs, and core strengthening. 


4. Tricep Dips 

*See graphic on right for visual demonstration.

The exercise:

  1. Find a stable chair.
  2. Face your back to the chair. 
  3. Use your arms (specifically your triceps) to lower yourself.
  4. Form a 90 degree angle with your elbow. 
  5. Keep your legs closer to the chair for low intensity, and farther away for high intensity. 

How many? Start with 2-3 sets of 10 triceps dips and increase your amount as you feel your triceps and core strengthening.  

Sometimes the best habits are formed by small steps. We at deliberateLIFE hope that this list of tips will encourage you to care for your body and get movin'.

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.  

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.

Walking Gratitude

Annmarie Rodriguez

people walking-citylife.jpg

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: 

  • 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:

water info graphic from watersense.jpg
  • 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]

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.

6 Tips To Reduce Plastic Waste

Fay Johnson


Summer is often marked by the scents of sunscreen, warm earth, wildflowers, salty seaside air,... and plastic. Walk into any convenience store, drugstore, or coastal gas station and you will be greeted by stacks of freshly-minted water wings, flip flops, rows of overpriced bottled water, and beach toys. A garish panoply of neon colors and the acrid aroma of cheap wares.

As a community committed to building a better tomorrow, we should consider two things: why beaches exist and where those plastic conveniences end up. The answer is one and the same: the ocean. Of course, not everything that we pile into our large beach totes remains on the shore, but the increase in disposable plastic can harm us and our environment. In addition to the health concerns that arise for humans and wildlife from exposure to plastics, this waste is a financial burden for states and countries. [California, for instance, spends $52 million annually to clear trash away from its beaches alone.]

There are over 165 million tons of plastic in the world's oceans, with eight million pieces of plastic entering the ocean every day.  Seem abstract? Animals from at least 267 different species have died due to eating or getting tangled up in oceanic plastic waste – that's an embarrassing fact.

We love the outdoors and are grateful for all the affordable fun it provides us. So, as part of our commitment to making sure the earth wins, here are six things you can do this summer to reduce your plastic waste.

1. Use a reusable water bottle

If you're looking for reasons to switch to a reusable water bottle, here are a few: Bottled water is not any healthier or cleaner than tap water – so why spend the extra money and time waiting in line?

The most commonly used plastic in the production of plastic bottles is petroleum-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Manufacturing these bottles requires an estimated 47 million gallons of oil each year. In fact, in the United States alone, 1.5 million barrels of oil are used annually in the production of plastic bottles. That's enough to fuel 100,000 cars for one year!

The global distribution of bottled water creates yet another environmental hazard. The trucks, airplanes, and boats on which the water travels consume even more fossil fuels, while simultaneously causing air pollution and global warming. “The Earth Policy Institute estimates that the energy used to pump, process, transport and refrigerate bottled water is over 50 million barrels of oil annually”. Around our office, we use these tumblers.

2. Bring your own bag when you shop

For those committed to reducing waste, sometimes the hardest part can be remembering to bring the bags along. I have a compact bagu that I keep in my purse at all times – it comes in handy.  For large shopping needs, I keep a few totes in my car.  If you need a cute tote for heavier items, grab one of ours! It's a great way to reduce unnecessary waste.

3. Buy food with limited or no packaging

When you can, buy produce at the farmers market, roadside stalls or stores that provde packaging-free items. It's also a good way to reinforce healthier eating.

4. Pack a picnic in reusable containers

There are countless numbers of reusable lunch containers available today – buy a few that work well for your needs and bring them along to the beach or pool.  Getting in the habit of packing your own snacks will not only save you money, it will also help with eating healthy. We reviewed some of our favorites in Issue no. 4.

5. Invest in quality beach toys

As the carefree days roll on, plastic beach toys often break under the pressure of enthusiastic castle building. Instead of grabbing another bucket and shovel from the local gas station, think about investing in tools that will last longer. Need some ideas? We're a big fan of the San Francisco-based company Green Toys that makes items out of recycled milk bottles. Consider their Sand Set for your summer fun this year (and next!). 

6. Buy better footwear that won't dissolve before the weather turns

When the weather finally warms, sandals take the stage and demand perfectly pedicured toes. The impact of fast fashion can be even worse when it comes to flimsy footwear. Instead of grabbing a pair of cheap flops, consider investing in a well constructed pair that will last for years to come and save some of our ocean friends in the process.


Soulful Summer: Better Flip Flops

Fay Johnson

Photo courtesy of Indosole. Article by Seth Strickland

By Seth Strickland

The benefits of buying better quality sandals are many, and the cost is small. To aid this choice, the deliberateLIFE staff has selected three flip-flops which are fairly and greenly made, won't break the bank, and will look good to boot!

Types of Soles: There are essentially two green schools of thought on the material used to make the soles of sandals: natural rubber, harvested sustainably, or recycled rubber (typically from car tires). The advantage of the first process is that not only is it natural, but it is habituating a method of manufacture for future generations of shoe manufacturers. Its disadvantage is that it is adding more rubber (albeit biodegradable) to an already rubber-filled world. The advantage, on the other hand, of the latter, is that the material already exists in the form necessary – the soles must be cut, but not manufactured from scratch. The disadvantage of this is that the soles are usually petroleum-based.

Quality: When you're at the store or reviewing products online, look for details that indicate that the shoe is made with care and will survive the adventures of summer sun. Are they stitched or glued? Handmade? Are there positive reviews of the product? Quality is one way to reduce the amount of waste created.

Here are three brands that you might want to consider this summer:


The first brand we recommend is Indosole, which falls in the latter category. The company is based in San Fransisco but manufactures in Bali. The company promises that its workers work in excellent manufacturing situations. Indosole's flip-flops are made from recycled motorcycle tires by hand, so the manufacturing process itself is largely fuel-free, and on top of all this, the shoes have no leather uppers, so they're vegan as well. This makes a good alternative to a brand like Tevas and is likely to last for at least five years if not longer. For anyone who longs for the days of Simple Shoes again, these are the sandals for you.


For sandals firmly in the harvested natural rubber camp, look no further than Guru. Their striking aesthetic has roots in ancient Indian sandal designs, but the company is brand-new. They're stylish and simple, fairly inexpensive, and the company is just out of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. By all accounts, these flip-flops are comfortable and functional while helping the planet.


Our final entry in the flip-flop lineup is a much more conventional design. Feelgoodz flip-flops look exactly like other flip-flops, but feel much softer. They come from intentionally fair and empowering materials-sourcing, fair manufacturing, and naturally and sustainably acquired rubber.

This summer consider buying sustainable and long-lasting flip-flops comfortable for the foot and the soul and support businesses doing good.

Two-Wheeling to Work

Seth Strickland


By Seth Strickland

Biking to work is fun. It's also great for all your muscles (including your heart!), it'll drive you to make better diet choices, and it'll give you a good chance to take a break from the ol' automobile. 

Citi bike has grown steadily more popular, as well as various bike sharing  programs, so it's easier than ever worldwide to get your hands on a bike without having to actually buy one. But, chances are, there's a yard sale down the street, a recently-unexplored garage, or Craigslist, whereat a lonely bicycle is waiting, like a puppy, for you and only you. 

Where to begin riding? Think about your work commute. Is it feasible for you to bike to work? Look for perhaps previously undiscovered bike paths in your community - chances are, if you live in a bicycle-friendly community or an urban environment, there are bike trails all around you. Get in contact with your local bike commission for a bicycling map.

 I'm not advocating, though, that you pick up a bike tomorrow and set off on your 18-mile commute. Unless you do this already, I'm telling you that you're probably not going to make it. Plus, if you do make it, you might, through your tears, wish that you hadn't ever laid eyes on a bicycle nor been born or something foolish like that. But, if you have a commute of three miles or less (or more if you want to!), think about taking a day or two next week and biking to work. See how it feels. 

Think also about the quick run to the store. That store, unless you are suburb-bound, is probably not far away. A backpack and a bike can make that secret exercise. 

Why to begin riding?  Your muscles are something like 50 times more efficient, on average, per calorie, than your car. And, since every gallon of gas you burn releases a pound of carbon dioxide, your pedaling is more efficient and releases next to no carbon dioxide. Plus, there are all those healthy reasons I told you about before. You'll do your body and your surroundings a lot of good.

This week, dust off the old Schwinn, buy a used road bike from your Local Bike Shop (LBS), or teach your kid to ride. This week, pedal deliberately. And wear a helmet.

My Year of Non-Compulsive Shopping

Fay Johnson


By Paula Derrow

For more than two decades, I worked at fashion magazines, smack in the middle of New York City, where buying a new shirt or a pair of cute shoes was as easy as strolling past a shop window, running in, and strutting out with yet another bag. Not that I’m swimming in designer labels, but I just didn’t give shopping much serious thought. If I wanted something, and it wasn’t too, too pricy, I bought it. In that respect, I’m quite unlike my frugal parents. I grew up not lacking for anything, but my father is a champion coupon clipper, and I’m certain my mother has never spent more than $50 for a bag or a pair of shoes.

Partly, I blamed my profession for my spending habit. I worked with all women at all those glossy magazines, women who (nicely) noticed what I was wearing, and I didn’t want to get caught wearing the same thing more than once a week (if that).

As the years passed, I found that I was buying more and more, yet, like most women, wearing the same seven or eight favorites over and over. Sometimes, I’d even discover random shirts buried deep in a drawer with the tags still on, mostly cheap things I’d picked up without thinking about it. But even a shirt that costs $10 is no bargain if it stays tucked in the drawer.

Shopping Diptych.jpg

Then, about a year-and-a-half ago, I lost my job in a company-wide layoff, and had to make some big changes in my spending, fast. I made a vow: No new clothes for a year. Or shoes. Or bags. Or jewelry. After all, I no longer had colleagues to impress. Besides, I had a closet stuffed with enough for two or three wardrobes; it was time to use what I already owned.

That’s a smart move for anyone’s budget, and as it turns out, for the environment. As Leo Rosario reported in “Fashion Forward,” in Deliberate Life’s second issue, a single textile mill in China (a country that accounts for up to 54% of the world’s clothing production), can use up to 200 tons of water for each ton of fabric it dyes, to the tune of millions of tons of fabric a year. I was definitely up for conserving water, never mind cash.

At first, it was tough. Whenever I’d pass a colorful window display, I found myself slowing down. “Ooh, love that coral bag! That sweater looks so soft!” my brain would think, and I’d lean in closer, scanning to see if there were any sales going on. Then, my super ego would kick in: “Keep going!” I’d warn myself sternly. You have plenty of bags. And sweaters.” And I’d move along, my heart beating a bit faster at a danger averted. Sure, I could go in for a browse without buying, but I told myself I wouldn’t even enter stores. Why tempt myself?

It turns out, some old habits don’t die so hard. Within a month or so, I wasn’t stopping to press my nose against store windows; I wasn’t even turning my head as I strode on by. And, to my surprise, instead of feeling deprived, I felt a tiny bit…relieved. There was no more keeping up with trends, no more wasting time deliberating over whether I could afford something.

Then came a major challenge: a long-planned trip to Rome that I’d been promising my 13-year-old nephew for years, in honor of his bar mitzvah. Despite my resolve, I wasn’t sure that I could resist the sumptuous leather bags, the Italian cashmere, the soft leather boots….


I’d like to say that I kept my vow on that ten-day trip. But the truth is, I broke down and bought a few things. A bag. One sweater. I felt guilty—but not tremendously so. Because even though I was buying, I was doing it in moderation, thoughtfully. I passed up many sweaters before I finally plucked up one that I adored. And when I returned home, I paid off my VISA bill and resumed my un-buying spree. It was nice to have a few new things in my closet, and I wore them with pleasure; there was no way I was going to forget I owned these pieces.

As for the rest of my year-without-buying, it went off without a hitch. I actually learned to enjoy putting old pieces together in new ways (it’s amazing how a cool scarf can make an outfit look fresh again). I was free, for the moment, from the shopping bug, the urge to acquire, speeding past store windows on the way to more important things.

And when it was over, I didn’t rush out on a buying binge. Instead, when I do take out my credit card, I make sure it’s for something I need, something I’ll love, something I’ll wear like crazy. I can feel good about that kind of buying, even on a budget.

Images by Michelle Park

Sweater Weather

Seth Strickland

Everyone who reads this magazine in a tropical climate can ignore this post. 

For the rest of you: here in the Northern reaches of the East Coast, summer's lease hath all too short a date, and it's nearly time for temperatures to drop and for all of us to pause at a long-neglected spot on the rug and reach for... (cue Psycho  violins) the thermostat! Well, it's not that scary. Cheap thriller tactics. But, as deliberateLIFE  shows you in our issues (and issues - hah!), every decision you make is important for you and for others around you.

Resume scene.

You're reaching for the thermostat, but what kind is it? Not something you've thought of? Let's consider it. If it's one of those thermostats which look like bronze macaroons with a watch-like dial on the top, we'll talk to you in a little bit. Stick around.

If you have a programmable thermostat, listen up. Most people (the author among them) have not ever actually programmed  that sort of thermostat. We're going to encourage you to figure out how to do that if you don't know how - ask the techie friend, the neighbor who turns your laptop on and off when it's broken, a precocious nephew. You'll want to set the temperature of your house to automatically lower at night. Or, you can set up a whole-week program designed to keep the house cool when you're not there, or you're unconscious. Because, if you 1. get eight hours of sleep (as you should!) and 2. turn your thermostat down for those eight hours, you'll save something like 1% of your energy use per degree turned down. Amazing! Try five degrees cooler per night, and see if you can get it down to as much as 15 degrees cooler. You might already know this, but we figured we'd give you some numbers.

Now, for you macaroon people - you can do this too. You'll just have to remember every night to turn down the ol' thermostat. One percent per degree might not sound like a lot. But, if you bump down your thermostat ten degrees every night year-round (it works with the AC too, only the opposite way), you could look at saving 10-15% on your energy bill, and if your house is heated by fossil fuels, you're conserving that much usage which helps make a dent in the 22% of the country's energy usage attributed to residences. 

And now for the fun part! 

For ye olde sufferers (the victims of hard-handed dads who turn the thermostat down to 55 degrees), or those who want to take one or two (degrees) for the team, remember the existence of sweaters. They're warm. They go with everything. They can come from the Alpacas who live down the road (for some of us). They're also renewable insulation - a natural & (possibly) organic way to keep warm. And, best of all, you can knit them for each other. 

So, this lovely autumn, we at deliberateLIFE  encourage you to turn down the thermostat (or program it to do so!), and bundle up a little more. And, if you're savvy, knit a sweater for your buddy/significant other/child/dog. Not only is it soothing, you're helping lower your personal energy consumption.

Fall deliberately.

By Seth Strickland 

Like Riding a Bike

Seth Strickland

by Seth Strickland

"It'll be easy - like riding a bike." How many times in the course of an average month do you hear that phrase? It's not without reason - by the best estimates, nearly 27 million Americans ride a bicycle at least infrequently, but it's nearly certain that many more have learned. It's one of the trials of childhood - your pedaling guru holds you upright on two suddenly too-skinny pieces of rubber, and lies, "You'll be fine." A few dozen skinned knees and elbows later, you usually are. The phrase 'like riding a bike' itself, though, is a colloquial and positive version of 'old habits die hard', and it's positive for a reason.

There's the obvious positive that bike riding at any age gets you off the couch, but less obvious, perhaps, is the fact that twenty miles a week reduces risk of heart disease by half. Again: by half . While you're fighting heart attacks harder than whole wheat, you're also improving coordination, reducing stress, burning fat, and making your brain steadily more pleased with itself.

 'Okay, okay we get it!' cry out the fact-bludgeoned readers, 'we'll think vaguely about riding a bicycle!' Thinking about it can't cut it forever. Researching for this post has made me realize that most cycling articles have two main effects: they make the reader feel either slightly guilty or morally superior. So far, the bicyclists are feeling pretty good about themselves (see this cartoon chart to understand), and we, the spokeless masses, feel a little grumpy. But what do we do? How do we become one of the enlightened, a... cyclist ?

Here's the skinny: to be a cyclist, you only have to ride a bike. Amazing! Some gears, a chain, a handlebar, and a few brakes, and you will be welcomed into the elite echelon of bicyclists. And so, for the rest of this month, I challenge you to get out and ride one mile every day. That's all. By my count, that's something like six or seven miles. No sweat. Why? The first slow fingers of autumn are reaching out with crisp air, the kids are off at school, and the days are getting ever so slightly shorter. It's the perfect time for a bike ride.

To Start A Day

Seth Strickland

By Seth Strickland

Good morning. 

It's lovely to start a day. To start this day. The weariness of the night is gone; the dawn brings a fresh perspective and clarity. Some days. 

Most days, as we all know, start out something like the above idyll, but need a little umph, a little morning chutzpah we call coffee. 

For a smidge over half of Americans, coffee starts our days off right. Whether it's a spouse blindly hitting the grinder at five a.m. or it's you sauntering Saturday-morningly down to your kitchen to crank your lackadaisical   Porlex, the smell of crushed beans and sweet steaming water filtering through them is a true American ceremony. 

Coffee's ubiquity is deceptive. What  coffee are you drinking? Will it be here forever? Kew Gardens's  recent Vimeo release indicates that our world coffee supply lacks genetic diversity. No problem? Think again - this, combined with forces of rising temperatures in Ethiopia (you'll have to see the film to understand the full importance of this country) puts the existence of coffee as we know it in danger.

We don't like scare tactics here at Deliberate Life, but a lack of deliberation could mean that more than half your friends will be inhuman for days, and you'll have to Porlex pepper one of these days. Seriously, though, it's something to consider - coffee is not only essential creative and cultural sap for Americans or Parisians or Turks, it's a global industry which supports thousands of people and their families as this documentary by TwentyTwenty Studios reminds us.

Fair Trade certified coffees and the direct-buy movement in coffee houses (especially, it seems, in third-wave shops) make supporting these sustenance coffee farmers possible, but remember that you, the consumer, have the choice. It's you, pal. Think about this next time you sip a lovely cup of joe. Ask your barista where his house gets the beans. Sustainable living is possible, especially on this daily level, which might seem small until you think about how many people drink coffee and how often.

Live deliberately, even early in the morning.

Image by Becca

Spring Picking

Terry Chi

By Terry Chi

The growth of early spring blooms, sprouts, and swells into abundance in late spring and early summer, bringing copious amounts of fresh fruits and veggies to our tables. You might notice a difference in the amount and variety of produce coloring the aisles of your local grocery stores and farmers markets. Apples and oranges are no longer the only fruit available—they are joined by nectarines, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and others. A lovely array of vegetables also enters the scene, opening up the door to exciting summer salads and a diverse range of vegetable dishes, from a summer squash salad to stuffed gypsy peppers.

To help you prepare healthy in-season fare for your family and friends alike, we spoke with the head chef at Oakland’s Boot and Shoe Service about what you might enjoy this season. A weathered wood haven for early morning risers and afternoon lunching locals, this café restaurant is one of the growing number of eating establishments that are dedicated to using fresh, local, organic ingredients to make dishes that change with the seasons. Started by the owner of Pizzaiolo and former kitchen aide at Chez Panisse, Charlie Hallowell, Boot and Shoe has a similar, if not the same goal as both those restaurants —to take ingredients from the community and transform them into delicious fare for the community.

Drawing from the Slow Food Movement,  the people at Boot and Shoe Service strive to follow the Slow Food mission to, “counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” This mission does not have to be confined to the restaurant world—each and every one of us can apply the philosophy of the Slow Food Movement to our own lives and eating habits. Taking time to make a meal and then sit down and enjoy it makes a great difference in the quality of our lives. Whether we enjoy food by ourselves or in the company of those we love, we should appreciate what nourishes us. By eating local, organic foods, we help to protect both our health and the health of the environment by reducing our carbon footprint and avoiding the chemicals in pesticides that are harmful to our bodies. In order to live deliberately, we must eat deliberately.

Note: ‘Slow food’ does not have to mean hours of cooking. A healthy slow food meal can be as simple as ripping up some organic kale and tossing it with pine nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil for a refreshingly simple salad. With some help from the head chef at Boot and Shoe Service, Marc Baltes, we’ve put together a list of food and easy recipes that we love and that you may want to try this May: 

Asparagus Harvested from March until June, depending on geographical location, these tasty spears are wonderful steamed, boiled, or sautéed. Available in white or green, asparagus stalks vary in width, but you may be surprised to find that the thickness does not correlate directly with their tenderness. The asparagus’ tenderness depends on how the plant is grown and how soon it is eaten after it has been harvested. They are wonderful steamed, boiled, or sautéed. Marc Baltes recommends serving them roasted or grilled with mustard vinaigrette, hard cooked eggs and bits of pancetta.

Rhubarb Known for its tart taste, this sour stalk acts as a great pairing to sweet fruits like strawberries and cherries. Put it in a pie, make it into a jam, or turn it into chutney. For the freshest rhubarb, look for heavy crisp stalks with shiny skin.  


Via TheKitchen

Via TheKitchen

Cherries Cherry blossoms turn to cherry fruit at the end of spring, which means you can enjoy these sweet, antioxidant and melatonin-rich treats at the beginning of summer. While sweet cherries, like Bing or Rainier, can be found from May to August, sour cherries have a much shorter season, and are only available for a week or two, usually during the middle of June in warmer locations and as late as July and August in colder areas. Have a pit-spitting contest for fun!

Mint This herb starts to thrive in the spring and adds a refreshing taste to fruit or veggie salads and iced drinks or cocktails. At Boot and Shoe, Baltes tosses whole leaves of mint with arugula, drizzling it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make a simple, but delightful salad that goes great with their buttery avocado toast and marinated beets. He also recommends adding some feta to the salad for a little extra richness.

Nettles Rich in iron, these dark leafy greens can be found at farmers’ markets sold by foragers and farmers. In some regions, they may be growing as "weeds" in gardens. Purée them into a soup or make a sun tea by plunging them into hot water and letting them sit in the sun while their nutrients seep into the water. According to Baltes, you can also wilt them quickly in a hot pan, squeeze out the water, chop them up coarsely, and mix them into beaten eggs for a bright green frittata.

Spring Cleaning The Natural Way

Terry Chi

Springtime is here and the sun beckons us to make things shine! In a salute to the spring, we’ve compiled a list of safe, affordable cleaning solutions that won’t harm Mother Nature or you.

White vinegar

  • This bacteria-killing solution dissolves dirt, soap scum, and hard water deposits from smooth surfaces.
  • To create a spray cleaner, mix one cup of white vinegar and one cup of water. To increase the potency of this mixture, heat it in the microwave. Undiluted white vinegar can also be used as a cleaning agent.

Baking soda

  • As a mineral powder, baking soda has natural scrubbing capabilities. Sprinkle it on a damp sponge and use it to scrub your bathtub and sink.
  • For slow-running drains, mix a half to a quarter cup of baking soda with a little water and let it stand for at least two hours (overnight is best) in your drainpipe. Then flush with hot water.

Lemon juice

  • The juice from this acidic fruit cleans hard water deposits and soap scum easily and can also be used to shine brass and copper.
  • To create a cleaning paste, mix lemon juice with vinegar or baking soda.
  • Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle the top with baking soda. Use it to scrub dishes and plates. Note: lemon juice can act as a bleaching agent.
  • Drop a lemon peel into the garbage disposal to freshen the air.


  • Ground up from the endosperm, or “hearts,” of corn kernels, this white powder has effective absorptive qualities.
  • Use it to absorb grease stains in your carpet. Cover the stain with cornstarch and leave for 20 minutes or until the grease is absorbed. Use a vacuum to remove the powder.
  • Clean your children’s stuffed animals by dusting them with cornstarch. Keep the toy in sealed bags overnight and then throwing them in the dryer for 10 minutes on low heat.
  • It can also be used to absorb mildew around your home.