Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ain't That (Fancy) Philanthropy

Giving, of all kinds, is über greene, since it regenerates both giver and receiver. As I settle in at KIG, I think I'll try to post weekly about particularly inspiring philanthropy and/or service work. Why not start with some of the most well-known philanthropists in the world?

 Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda Gates with a newborn baby at Keleya Community Health Center, in Mali.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently pledged $1.5-billion over the next five years to improve maternal and child health, family planning, and nutrition programs in poor countries. This is in keeping with the Foundation's history and mission to improve health conditions worldwide, and working to oppose hunger and extreme poverty. The pledged amount is about half what the organization gave away, total, in the year 2009.

Now, the Gateses are joining with Warren Buffett to encourage other Seriously Well-Funded folks to give away half of their assets in their lifetimes. The project is called The Giving Pledge, and its rather interesting story was told by Fortune Magazine

Philanthropy at this level is so far beyond me that it's hard to wrap my mind around. Consider the fact that Buffett can, as he has pledged to do, give 99% of his net worth to charity without impacting his or his family's lifestyle at all. Huh?

Still, I love the idea that each participant will write a public letter about how they decided to make this commitment. I am fascinated by the "why," and I very curious to know what will come of it all. Check back for updates!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sleepy = Dopey

I invest a good deal of money, time, and mental energy in my health.

I see an acupuncturist, 
a chiropractor, 
an integrative Western-style doctor,
a dentist, and
an optometrist.

I brush and floss three times a day,
have a good mattress. 
practice yoga and meditation, 
eat organic meats, eschew caffeine, 
don't smoke, 
avoid the microwave, 
wear sunscreen (more on that soon), 
use orthotics, 
try to remember my multivitamin and fish oils, 
and even take the stairs whenever possible! 

And yet, I  ignore one of the most important (and most cost-effective) factors in overall health: sleep. Public shaming time:

Yes, I've been keeping track, and I did the math. It's an average of 6.3 lousy hours per night, while my doc says even grown-ups should get 8.Doesn't seem so bad, until you remember that's 30-50 hours of sleep debt per month!

I first heard about sleep debt from Dr. Jennifer Caudle, the director of family medicine in the division of General Internal Medicine at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD. 

Apparently, not sleeping enough is like shopping with a credit card. Even if I lose the receipt, the bank still knows about my little trip to BCBG, and the next one to Banana Republic. That pesky balance builds and builds and has to be paid, one way or another. At least with money, it's only money -- I pay the piper and wipe the slate clean. ("Ouch! But that skirt is cute and totally worth eating iceberg lettuce the rest of the month.") The possible ramifications of sleep-deprivation, though...they ain't pretty. I'll let Gwynnie give you the GOOP on that.

I routinely pick on Gwyneth Paltrow's blog (easy target), but her newsletter on sleep hit me right between my half-mast eyes. It compounded my PCP's recent chiding and the running conversations I have with friends, such as: "Tonight, I really am turning off the light at 9pm! 10, latest! OK, 11... Well, maybe tomorrow."

I'm sick and tired of being so tired I feel sick. With proof coming in from all sides that a well-rested girl is a greene girl, it's time I do as Dylan suggested"shut the light, shut the shade" and get some Zzzzs! 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Same Song and Dance

Arcades keep it greene in their own grimy, nostalgic way, and seaside arcades, rife with fearless seagulls and leather-skinned locals, are, of course, a notch above the rest. A recent spontaneous trip to Salisbury Beach to play Ms. Pac-Man brought an unexpected treat that had my friend and me transfixed for a good while.

We definitely had to place a second coin in the slot to "make it go" again, Sam. This was one of those eerie, fascinating, slightly repellent experiences during which I couldn’t tell if I should be charmed or spooked.

Note the smooth white patches where the dance floor has worn away under the puppet’s tireless twinkle toes. Note that the flaxen-haired lass in the front row has lost a leg, but not her painted, wooden smile. Look closely (or click the photo to enlarge): the tall woman behind her has rubbed off her own nose with the mild, relentless mechanical sweep of her arm back and forth in front of her face. 

As if the scene was at all lacking in curiosity points, after two peppy songs lip-synced by the Wicked Witch and a circus-ringleader-type (both hidden from view in the pic) the third track was not a song at all. It was a snippet of Big Bird addressing Mr. Snuffleupagus filched from an episode of Sesame Street. Incongruity alert! Yes, they are both puppets, but…no. Big Bird’s voice goes with Big Bird’s body, not with a pint-sized, wooden, broom-jabbing cackler. My friend felt sort of cheated by that, and I agree, it somehow cheapened the 25-cent show.

Still, greene is in the dust and the details, and the fact that this little box of eclectic characters in hand-sewn costumes remains, outdated, but consistent, in the corner, next to the Simpsons pinball machine and across from Big Buck Hunter shooting game.

Friday, June 18, 2010


No one keeps it greene like a teen. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you find some adolescents to hang out with. I'm not kidding! If you happen to be the parent of a teenager, you might think I'm nuts, and, indeed, it's often easier to hang out with a teen or a parent who is not your own.

Even moms and pops will have to agree that these no-longer-children-not-yet-adults are truly amazing creatures -- extremely idealistic, constantly in flux, highly emotional, sometimes cranky, often quite honest, and, very, very perceptive. In my case, I find continual inspiration in my much-young sister, Alice, who turns 16 in October. Check out the collage she made me:

It hangs on my bedroom wall and makes me remember the days when I had no choice but to let myself experiment, be messy, dream big, fret out-loud (quite often), contradict myself and fully assume that I had Broadway or Hollywood in my future. Alice had a blog before I did, but, she admits, "I was being really mean to my parents and my brother," so that privilege got the ixnay. (When she's paid her dues and gets back to posting, you'll be the first to know!)

In sum, nothing spells g-r-e-e-n-e like the musings of a teen. Simultaneously, nothing so ensures my acceptance of laugh lines, car payments, and truncated summer vacations as remembering the slings and arrows of outrageous adolescent fortunes. That's why I highly recommend you visit with some double-digit-under-twenties on the next possible occasion. Or, get out the scissors, the rubber cement, and some old magazines, and unleash your inner high schooler. May the results be a colorful, complicated, collage of humor, hopes, fears, fantasies and fun.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

For Our Ears Only

I work in a beautiful brick building on a campus of breathtaking Gothic architecture. Most days, it is a picturesque environment.

Today, though, it’s like a trip to the dentist times 1 bajillion. As workers prepare to upgrade the building’s façade by first drilling away the old mortar directly outside my window, it feels and sounds like they are burrowing into my very skull. My bones are rattling and my teeth are chattering and I would give my Blackberry for a pair of earplugs. I’m SOL today, but, check it out, my officemate just told me there is a handy new accessory that all the girls are using…

Ladies! If your aural canals are too delicate for beastly, man-style hearing protection (in icky, undainty colors like orange and blue, which might clash with your rose-hued nighty), now there is a noise-protection device just for us. These are, and I quote, “Softer, Smaller, Silky Smooth and Contoured.” Isn't that just the thing?

This discovery has done nothing to diminish the head-splitting ruckus outside, but it is, most certainly, the silliest thing I’ve heard all day, and silly keeps you Greene. I think I’ll get by with my un-contoured noise-cancelers, but if you are the type of gal looking for "ultimate comfort" up to 30dB, in hot pink...look no further!

Sleep well, Dreamgirls. 


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2 Weeks Left to Choose!

 Image courtesy of:

I went to a boarding high school and I'm pretty sure I'm one of the most heart-on-my-dorky-sleeve head-over-heels-in-love alumnae there ever was. It was a natural fit, and I have adored the institution and the community from the moment I stepped onto campus. Even after getting a good look at the man behind the curtain as a member of the development staff until just last winter, my crush remains intact.

College was, inexplicably, much different. I felt miles away from my seemingly self-assured and sophisticated classmates who appeared to be living the College Dream. I struggled to find my place, feel confident academically, curb my bagel consumption, and stay awake through long passages in Red Star Over China. Although I learned a lot and grew up a great deal, those were not my happiest days, to say the least.

15 and 10 years later, respectively, I make sure I send an annual gift to each institution.

Giving to the my high school strengthens the good memories and reconnects me to its mission. I love providing today's teenage artist-scholars some version of the not-your-father's-prep-school world in which I thrived.

Giving to my college has, conversely, smoothed many a rough spot in my personal archive. As a donor, I feel pride in this impressive institution, instead of nagging regret about skimmed texts and half-hearted essays. I forget outdated grudges against former roommates and, instead, crack a smile, remembering late-night Karaoke parties and hours spent poring over the pages of our actual facebook (in the days before that word was a proper noun).

Whatever one's personal experiences, there are many reasons to give to one's school:

~ Alumni participation (i.e. the fact that you gave, not the size of your gift) improves a school's strength and ranking, boosting the integrity of one's diploma.
~ The number of alumni who donors improves a school's chances of winning grant funding to assure its healthy future.
~ If you received financial aid, we can stop the conversation right here, but...
~ Since tuition alone doesn't meet the school's costs, even if your parents paid for the whole thing themselves, your education was still subsidized by those who went before you.
~ It matters to someone else, someone young, to have a community in which to be confused and creative and challenged and courageous and carried along by the generosity of those who went before her.

We might think our generosity too "barely detectable" to have an impact at a school we loved. Or, we might think, "Meh, that place didn't float my boat. I'll just recycle this appeal letter." But, if you're anything like me, when you give back to institutions that helped make you who you are, the life (or, at least the perspective) you change just might be your own.

Your school's fiscal year probably ends June 30, 2010. Two Weeks Left to Choose Generosity!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Twigs and Heather

I cannot choose a favorite among the tantalizing array of homemade Twigs and Heather jewelry -- 
and you can't make me! 

I love variations on a theme, and these girls (identical twin sisters, of course) are all over that. 

Each has her own distinctive style.

Heather's stuff is cast from organic elements such as birch bark, twigs, and maple seeds, 
which she gathers herself. LOVE!

 Kerry has a rockabilly vibe that is both edgy and romantic. It brings out the (extremely latent) badass in me.

Betcha can tell whose is whose!

I'll take two of each, please!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Indian Hill Press

I played it cool last summer when bringing my grandmother to meet poet, printer, and printmaker Daniel Waters at the Vineyard Artisan's Festival, but, really, it was a Brush With Greatness (BWG)* for me.

I had always loved the tiny, often hilarious, hit-the-spot poems which used to pop up randomly on the pages of my hometown newspaper, mysteriously credited to “D.A.W.” Who was this masked rhymer? Why so shy? The rumors swirled. (Turns out, it’s a great story. Wicked awesome poems, too, huh?)

Mr. Waters has long since come uncloaked, founding and running Indian Hill Press and staying proudly, “out of step with the modern world.” (Then again, he’s on Facebook. At least my grandmother has held out.)

Take a gander at his gallery. Isn’t it like opening the window of your stuffy bedroom on a quiet June night and getting two lungsful of post-rain-shower freshness?

"Whoooo is D.A.W?"

*BWGs are uber-Greene, because they always make you that much more jazzed about being alive. This subject will get its own post someday soon.

Friday, June 11, 2010


There are many reasons to love Aveda, chief among them being olfactory. I mean, it's no use forming a partnership with a women's cooperative network in Morocco, sourcing ingredients from traditional communities, or becoming the first beauty company to manufacture with 100% certified wind power unless your cleansers, hair-curling goop, and signature herbal tea are the opiates of the nostrils, right? 

Besides seducing my sniffer and softening my skin, though, Aveda boasts an innovative program to recycle plastic bottle caps. (Surprise! While it's easy, these days, to find a place to recycle your plastic water bottle, most facilities don't have a system in place to deal with its screw-on top. That gets tossed and can eventually contribute to terrible wildlife destruction and marine pollution. Pee-Ewww!)

Recycle Caps with Aveda is targeted towards schools, but, being neither a parent nor a teacher, I have gotten into the habit of saving bottle caps at home and carrying them right into my local Aveda store. (It might be wise to call ahead to yours, in case policies differ, store-to-store).

 (Our cap collection, awaiting its trip to the Atrium Mall.)

Store visits can, of course, be an expensive habit, thanks to the aforementioned heavenly scents swirling in the rarefied Aveda air. Still, at my last drop-off, I mustered nerves of steel, purchased nothing, and was offered, as thanks for my trouble, a free sample of the latest nose-worthy Caribbean Therapy moisturizing cream.

Better for the earth, great for my epidermis, and including a free giveaway? Smells like a winning combination to me!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bounce It Out

Regeneration begins at the cellular level! Or, so says my rebounding instructor, the inimitable, unstoppable Joanne, to whom I dedicate this post. (That's not her in the photo, by the way. I love how completely frozen that woman is -- quite the opposite of what you'll see in a real class! Thanks for the pic,

What is rebounding, you ask? Only the most fun you can have working up a sweat in mixed company!

Imagine a roomful of adults (in my case, fellow employees at a lunchtime staff wellness class), on single-sized trampolines, jumping, jogging, twisting, stretching, and "moving fast while breathing slow."
The music is pumping and the teacher is expounding on how we are, at this very moment, rejuvenating our cells, cleansing our lymph glands, boosting our immune system and, generally, turning ourselves into superheroes. Sounds enticing, huh?
My teacher  is beyond enthusiastic about the benefits of this regime, and she is not alone. It seems that rebounding is actually a pretty awesome way to detox (although I really can't get behind the idea of letting the girls go unsupported, but I'm curious to hear your reactions on that part of the linked article).

Besides being an amazing workout, bouncing around like a monkey on the bed is a natural mood-elevator. While attempting to avoid sailing off the rebounder and smashing into the wall (I'm a little bit overly enthusiastic) or catching my yoga pants in the springs, it makes my day to see my classmates completely going for it, full-throttle, no self-consciousness. We sing along to Sonny and Cher as we bounce away the stress of the day. Sometimes I glance at a colleague, red-faced like me; like me, grinning and bobbing like a Jack-O-Lantern on a pogo stick, and I laugh so hard out of sheer delight that I almost fall off my trampoline. Which makes me laugh even more, and I hear laughing is good exercise, too!

Wanna see for yourself? In fairness, this video looks almost nothing like what happens in my life on Wednesdays at 12:15pm. These folks are in rebounding graduate school, while I am in pre-K. Still, the similarity is the smiles. You might snark, "I'd be happy, too, if you could bounce a quarter off my abs," but I assert they aren't merely being smug -- it really is impossible not to beam while you bounce!

UPDATE: I just heard from the amazing Joanne that I have led you astray! Regarding the video I posted, which was, unbeknownst to me, a different kind of rebounding from what I know and love. Joanne says, "Yes it looks harder because it is harder on your body. When you bounce down on a rebounder and pound you are not using gravity. That's the magic of rebounding -- using gravity UP... I will explain all this at my lecture at beyond Fitness 5 Summer street this coming Wednesday at 6:30 that's June 16th, in downtown Natick."  

This is a wonderful lesson that less is more and just because it hurts, that doesn't mean it's good for you! 

"Use gravity to strengthen you, not weaken you. Training in multidimensional patterns gives us the flexibility to enjoy a happier life.” Joanne Schmalenberger,