Category Archives: Causes

Mindful Monday: Online Dating

I’m in a relationship. A fantastic one that brings me happiness every single day. But I was one of the lucky ones who found a partner in college. What if you’re not that lucky?

Mike and I talk a lot about how different it must be to be in a relationship in 2013 than it was in 1980. There are more opportunities to meet people from far away, communication is made so much easier through technology, and there are less barriers for women to be successful.

But when it all comes down to it, a relationship only works in the long run if you live in the same city, share common interests, and are a shooting for common goals. No matter what year it is, that’s a tough set of requirements.

That problem poses the technological solution: online dating. The stigma around it is slowly disintegrating. It’s now common place for singles of all life situations, from young professionals to older retirees, to join the many programs out there. Anyway! A blog I regularly read (Once a Month for Ladies) just posted the story of one such program. It’s a short but interesting read and reflects the harrows and successes of completely blind dates.

Grouper: The date. Not the fish.

– Once a Month for Ladies

I hope you’re all having awesome days. Love and a sweet smile. – Ash

The Healthful, Happy, and Loving Project …


March Goals:

  • Take a 5-minute walk down the block, every morning between shower and work. SLOWLY.
  • When I’m sad, stop thinking of the future. Just smile and try to make that moment happier.
  • Chose a day of the week to talk to each parent and sibling. Like I do with Gran.
  • Read this list every day.
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed.

These seem like some pretty specific goals right? How did I arrive at them? Well …


There’s a really awesome book a friend sent me. It’s called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Instead of being all preachy and general, she chronicles the details of finding her way to happiness. She lays out a list of what she wants to improve and then divides that list into manageable parts. It’s basically a book about baby steps.

I’m finding it very inspirational so I’ve decided to do the same. Every month I’ll lay out my goals for you all to see. I’m not doing this because I’m particularly unhappy. I just have so much awesomeness in my life and I think I could appreciate it better. If I’m not 100% content when everything is hunky-dory, what will happen when life isn’t so nice? I want my happiness to be strong enough to withstand even the hardest challenges.

The questions I’m asking myself:

  • What makes me feel good?
  • What makes me feel bad?
  • Is there any way in which I don’t feel right about my life?
  • Do I live in a way that encourages growth?

My answers to solve these questions – 2013 Goals:

  • Stop being so concerned with the future (haha, does the list of goals act against that?).
  • Learn to switch off work and relax.
  • Be outdoors more.
  • Wake up more energized.
  • Pay off my credit card bills.
  • Invest in quality cooking and cleaning tools – then use them to their full potential.
  • Communicate more regularly with friends and family.
  • Improve our nutrition (eat more raw, nutrient-dense food and cut out all dinnertime grains and sugars).
  • Remove toxins from our food, personal hygiene, cleaning products, etc.
  • Learn to enjoy riding my bike again.
  • Stop putting so much pressure on myself.
  • Remember to be happy when I succeed at these goals.

Things I don’t want to change:

  • My commitment to exercise.
  • My love of healthy cooking.
  • The strength of Mike and My relationship.
  • The strength of my ties to my family.
  • My plans for travel.
  • My thankful heart.
  • My cleanliness and organization.


My Commandments:

  • Just because it’s fun for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s fun for me.
  • Me is the perfect person for me to be.
  • It’s NOT “doing nothing,” it IS “active relaxation.”
  • Life is play, not an endless stream of work.
  • A true smile and laugh can change a whole conversation.
  • Want what I already have.
  • I don’t have to be good at everything.

To that end, I will let you know, each month what my focus goals are for that month. I’ll pick as many or as few as I think I can handle. Some of them may be focused on for multiple months, some may be much easier than that. Since March is 1/3 of the way in, this month’s list is relatively short. But there’s no better time to start than today!

Does anyone want to join me in this? It can be as big or small of a project as you like. Let me know!

Love and a big smile. – Ash


Mindful Monday: Never Enough

This morning’s repost is from a very smart man. His name is Seth Godin. He wrote an awesome book on entrepreneurship in today’s world (The Purple Cow). The type of world where ads on TV and small, incremental product improvements are not enough. Where business starters have to have not only a unique idea but myriad ways to get people to actually buy it. It’s a great book. A quick read full of awesome information, I recommend it.


He also writes a blog. Short posts dense with recommendations for leading a successful life. I thought his post today was perfect. Especially for a Monday morning. Just read it:


Never Enough

-Seth Godin

“There’s never enough time to be as patient as we need to be … investing now, when it’s difficult, is the single best moment.”

So don’t save for tomorrow what you know you need to do today. Even if it was extra hard to wake up this morning. Happy Monday everyone! Love and a toothy smile. – Ash


Mold Your Mind Monday: Do we need a women’s movement?

And of course, in my haste and excitement I completely forgot that today is Mold Your Mind Monday! (< still experimenting with names) As I mentioned last week, I read some really great posts from bloggers all over the world. Today’s is from one my first and favorite followers: Ruth Rainwater.

She posted yesterday on the evolution and necessity of the Women’s Movement. It’s anecdotal and gives a great look at the dark place our society came from. Just read it.

Do We Still Need A Women’s Movement?

– Ruth Rainwater


“The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food”

I’m not the only blogger or author writing about health, wellness, and design. There are others; thousands of others. Sometimes it makes me feel tiny and insignificant but then I realize: this is awesome! These people are so passionate about health and wellness that they take the time (a lot of it) to research and educate others.

Their articles are interesting and, a lot of times, align perfectly with subjects that I’d like all you to know. I consider myself a source of information, motivations, and amusement for you guys. So … from now on, Monday posts will be articles (or links to articles) written by other people.

I don’t want you to think I’m copping out. I love writing for you guys. But if someone else wrote it better than I ever could, why don’t we boost that person’s traffic and feedback instead?

So here is my first Spread The Knowledge repost. Mike passed it on to me after one of his marathon internet-learning sessions. I was hesitant to use it as my first repost because it is LONG. But even if you only read the first page or two, it will be worth it. It is dense with hard-earned research. Michael Moss gave me information that I never would have known without his intensive detective work. I’m impressed. The article has changed the way I think about the Standard Westernized Diet. It’s awesome. So just read it.

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food 

– Michael Moss (New York Times)

Gossip Ruins People


If you don’t have something nice to say, just zip that trap. We all heard that line (or some variation of it) when we were little. Every one of us has been the subject of gossip at some point in their lives. You know how much it hurts. So here’s the big questions:


I laid awake for much of the night wondering that. Just before I fell asleep, I found out that there are people who I barely know, in this brand new town of mine, gossiping about me. Rash, hurtful words that pinned me at my most vulnerable point.

Gossip Law #1: Even for me, strong, capable, confident me, words DO hurt. I learned this long ago in middle school and, ever since, I’ve realized that I don’t want to cause that pain to anyone else. It doesn’t matter how much I criticize them internally, everyone has weaknesses just like me, and I never want to make someone feel that that’s all I see.

Gossip Law #2: As much as we whisper and make people promise not to tell, the words ALWAYS get back to the person. This most recent gossip about me started in September. September! I heard it two night ago from a well-intentioned friend that was trying to help me become a better person. He was trying to help me and the fact that people talked STILL hurt.

Gossip Law #3: It doesn’t stop when we turn 16 years old, or 20, or even 35. It never just stops. It’s natural for people to talk negatively about others. It makes them feel powerful, like they have an advantage on you. Like they’re better than you. It’s natural, but it sucks and it can be stopped.

Gossip Law #4: It comes in all forms. Gossip doesn’t just have to be a woman whispering trash into another woman’s ear. As I’ve tried to cut it out of my life, I realize that gossip is any negative statement that emerges from your mouth about another person. Anything that, when you really think about it, could potentially hurt that person.

LISTEN UP. This is the most important one . . .

Gossip Law #5: It CAN be stopped. The only way to stop gossip is by filtering your own words. I have a best friend. My heterosexual life partner. She is the only person that I turn off the filter with. She does the same with me. We gossip to each other until kingdom come. But that is because we KNOW that it will never leave that conversation. With everyone else, my negative words are on lockdown. I don’t participate in negative conversations and will even try to stop them if they become about someone I love.

Everyone can do this. It only took me a few months to recognize and learn. So just try it, please. For the sake of all those people who you have yet to hurt.

Now off with you, have a wonderful, gossip-free weekend! I will be in Vegas with my family and friends through Monday so blogs will start back up on Tuesday. I will miss you all until then. But just remember:



Monday Book Review: Ape House

Happy Monday Ya’ll! I hope you all had wonderful weekends. If any of you read last week, you know I was pretty sick with the flu. Well it looks like I have kicked this flu (the one the lasts most people I’ve talked to about a month) in a week! I’m not quite back to 100% but definitely a functioning human rather than a zombie. I will be writing a post on how I did that for tomorrow, but TODAY…today I will tell you about an amazing book I recently read.


It’s called Ape House and it’s by Sara Gruen, the same author who wrote Water for Elephants. I was in love with that book (and movie) so when I saw another of her novels on sale at Barnes and Noble, I had to snatch it up. I read this book in 48 hours. It’s amazing.

No spoil summary: The main character Isabel works at a language lab with six bonobo monkeys. While the lab does amazing and very humane work, there are nay sayers who decide that they know better (as with everything in life, right?). Finally, they take matters into their own hands and a tragic drama ensues. Gruen is fantastic at making the reader feel the monkeys’ and their caretakers’ pain as they fight a long road from imprisonment back to freedom.

Why it’s special: The lab in this book is based on a real language lab in Des Moines, Iowa. Gruen spent a lot of time at the real lab, with the real monkeys and came to regard them as friends. You can feel her reverence for the monkeys in the way she wrote this book. They become human, real people, whom you relate to with empathy and joy. I think the main character is very much like Gruen in her complete love for the remarkable animals in her life.

The coolest part: I had no idea what bonobo monkeys were before reading this book. Turns out, they’re really fricken cool! Talk about smart. I would love to meet these monkeys in real life but they’re apparently very picky about who they become friends with. Basically, just read the book, it completely changes your perception of “human-like” monkeys and the labs that research and care for them.

Has anyone else read this book? Did you like it?

I hope you’re all having wonderful days and are settling into 2013 🙂


Saturday’s Cause: Think Before You Pink


I had sort of promised myself that I wouldn’t write about issues that would cause a lot of conflict on this here “happy” blog. Most of the time I am unprepared for any rebuttals and just don’t want to stir the pot. But sometimes things just get ridiculous and I have to stand up and declare it. Some of you may not like this but hear me out. I have a bone (a giant dinosaur sized bone) to pick with the Pink Ribbon and Susan G. Komen.

First let me say: I hate breast cancer. I hate it. My step-grandmother died from it and my other grandmother, great-aunt, and best friend’s mom fought it and won (thank goodness). It’s an awful, widespread disease and we (meaning anyone and everyone) should be doing everything we can to stop it. Sadly, most of us are not going about it the right way.

Most of this information I found on Breast Cancer Action’s website. They clearly cite all of their sources and, upon further digging, I found the facts here to be well researched and true. “BCAction is a national, feminist grassroots education and advocacy organization working to end the breast cancer epidemic.” I have studied most of their website and publications and personally think that they are a great resource for facts but not so awesome at providing information on how each of us, as individuals, can contribute to the greater cause. Their main cause is getting the government involved in breast cancer prevention and stopping organizations that are making the situation worse. With that being said, I will only use their website for facts.

Let’s establish some ground rules, if you disagree with these I’m not sure you should read on:

1. Eating an unhealthy diet filled with trans. fats, hormone laden poultry, malnourished beef, sugar filled candy, and fried anything will definitely increase your risk of disease.

2. Using products with toxin chemicals in them, even in small doses changed your bodies chemistry and also greatly increases your risk.

Obviously there are a huge number of other potential causes, environmental and otherwise, and you can find some information on those here. But I will not dive into that because it’s not relevant to what I have to say.

On to the meat of this post! In past I was a frequent purchaser of Pink Ribbon products. If I had to buy something, might as well buy it pink and donate to a greater cause right? Oh how wrong I was. Susan G. Komen began right here in Peoria, IL and I will fight against them right here in Peoria, IL. According to their website, SGK was launched in 1982 and has had great success. They have raised almost $2 billion to cure and advocate for breast cancer. That, in itself, is incredible. It shows that the public really cares for the cause and just needs a place to direct their efforts. I also have no doubt that SGK started from an honest place in a very kind and sad woman’s heart. Unfortunately, what started as an incredible effort on the part of one sister to raise awareness and end the disease has turned into an unbelievably backwards  organization.

Let’s cut the crap:

1. In 1970, 1 in 10 women developed breast cancer in their lifetime. By 2011 the risk had increased to 1 in 8 (National Cancer Institute).

2. 30-50% of all BC cases involve one or more of the following known risk factors: family history; early menarche (i.e., menstruation before age 11) or late menopause (age 51 and over); bearing children later in life (age 35 and over) or no childbirth; hormone replacement therapy; alcohol consumption; and exposure to ionizing radiation (e.g., x-rays, mammograms, nuclear power plants). This leaves 50-70% not accounted for by any of these things. (“Identifying Gaps in Breast Cancer Research.” California Breast Cancer Research Program. Ed. Julia Brody et al.)

3. In April 2010 the President’s Cancer Panel declared: “The Panel was particularly concerned to find that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated [and] … the American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures.” They urged the President ”to use the power of [his] office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”

So why raise a stink against Susan G Komen? They’re just doing the best they can to raise awareness and fund research. Right? MMM, not quite. It it obvious from the above facts that we can try as hard as we want to “cure” breast cancer but it’s just not working. Women, WAY too many of them, are still dying. I absolutely do not discount the survivors. There are many of them and, in my book, they rank as some of the strongest most admirable women on the planet. But why are we focusing on researching a cure rather than the cause and how, specifically, to prevent it? Why not encourage women to make their bodies a fighting machine? Encourage them to eat right, exercise, and make healthy decisions. Why not start from ground zero and make our way up to fighting what we still cannot prevent?

On that note, here are a some recent SGK promotions:


^ Promise Me perfume: At $60 a bottle, $8 of it actually goes to SGK. Based on their 2011 annual report, 19% of that ($1.50) per bottle will actually go to research. On top of that, it contains at least 2 toxic chemicals, Galaxolide (hormone disruptor) and Toluene (potent neurotoxicant banned by the IFRA).


^ In 2010, SGK partnered with KFC to sell “Buckets for the Cure.” 50 cents of every bucket sold went to SGK. Yep, buy some fast food fried chicken and fight breast cancer!


^ SGK has partnered with General Mills for their “Save Lids to Save Lives” campaign. By buying these sugary, chemical filled products and sending in the lids you are saving lives! Donate to SGK, provide lots of revenue for General Mills, and increase your own risk. Side note, before BCAction focused on the yogurt in 2008, all Yoplait yogurt was made with the hormone stimulant rBGH.

These are just some of the products that affect the human body in a negative way. Please read the “Think Before You Pink Toolkit”, found here, for more in-depth information.

So what do we do? Well, from now on, I will not be buying anything “pink.” I will not support a cause that is driving in the wrong direction no matter how pure the intention. And until I find another group that is looking for a cure AS WELL AS working to educate women on the daily act of disease prevention, I will do it myself. I promise to educate as many people as I can on having a good diet made of pure, nutrient rich food and an exercise routine that gets their blood flowing and their body fighting. I will not give my money but I will give my time and effort.

Now that I’ve decided, what do you think?