Blog Inspiration: Corinne Bowen (Okay, also Human Being Inspiration)

Corinne first contacted me what must be over a year ago to tell me I won an online contest via Crazy Sexy Life for some UliMana raw cacao truffles. Hey, online contests are fun, and it’s really fun to get an email from a women who writes for one of your favorite websites (CrazySexyLife.com) and print publications (VegNews and Vegetarian Times magazines).

I’ve enjoyed seeing her work pop up in media outlets I frequently explore, and I’ve poked around on her website now and again. Corinne is also in-house-editor of Crazy Sexy Kitchen, by Kris Carr, a new book due out later this year.

Hanging out/working with Kris Carr in Woodstock, NY.

It’s not an exaggeration to say to women has her hands in some of my favorite things, truly dream projects.

In the last two weeks we’ve reconnected via the internet, and I have been endlessly pouring through her blog. Literally reading every entry whenever I have the time. I have been making the time, in fact, because her posts make me so excited about writing, cooking, carving my own career path, and the entirety of life in general.

http://www.CorinneBowen.com

Her blog has everything I truly find pertinent and personally satisfying in a blog at this point in my life: she’s   soon turning 30 so I’m finding moments of her life quite relatable from an age-perspective (I’m 28); I love reading about her beautiful, creative family and her extremely healthy vegan pregnancy; she has been focusing on the simple pleasures we can often forget – how refreshing it is to clear up some clutter which creates better mental space as well as physical, or that chopping vegetables can be meditative; but especially the posts she writes about following your bliss and how she gave up a “safe” career path (a salary, a 401K) to pursue freelance writing.

When I read about her projects, I almost (almost) feel intimidated because she has worked on/is working on what are some of my personal dream projects. A quick glance at her resume of work makes me feel like I’m talking to a person living the dream life.

Her beautiful family enjoying the sunshine.

And that’s whats so special about her blog. She illustrates that a dream life is possible. It’s not always glitzy and glamorous, it may still require a grocery budget, and it’s certainly not always easy or without self-doubt or hard work. But that’s what makes it great: it’s tangible, and it may be simpler to come by than we imagine.

There are far too many wonderful posts to try and pull from my favorite parts, but this one sums it up fairly well:

“I showed Audrey (daughter) her reflection in the mirror and couldn’t help but snap our photo. I thought: This is my life, on my terms, doing what I love with my baby girl beside me. I remembered: The doubt of changing careers, the anxiety of taking leaps of faith (over and over again), and the difficulties that came with ignoring advice. And I confirmed: Every single sleepless night, every what-if mind game, every hymn sung by my imaginary choir of critics (all of which still exist on very low volume) were so clearly worth the grief.

When I feel afraid to listen to my gut, I reflect on tiny yet tremendous moments like the one at Ma Petite Shoe. These quieter times are loud in perspective. They give me a little space to relish the fact that I’ve yet to discover a moment that following my bliss didn’t eventually lead to just that. And I’d urge anyone who has something daring or dreamy tugging at their heart to take a step forward, even if it seems scary.”

– Corinne Bowen.com

Corinne and baby Audrey

EXCITING THINGS!

Cookbook Giveaway/Birthday Wish (Support a Sanctuary)

1. Corinne is giving away a copy of the wonderful Blissful Bites cookbook! I’ve talked about Christy and her book before – it’s really lovely, tons of color photos, and the recipes are healthy and easy to make. This is one of my favorite cookbooks and Corinne feels the same way. She’s giving away one copy! 

2. For her 30th birthday, Corinne has asked folks to donate to the Maple Farm Sanctuary. She was introduced to this sanctuary after writing about them for a VegNews article, and it inspired her to selflessly ask that her birthday gifts come in the form of donations. You can sponsor a chicken for as little as $10 (yup, just ten dollars) and greater donations help larger animals. Instead of going out for lunch one day next week, consider donating to a wonderful cause and make a birthday wish come true at the same time.

She ended our most recent email exchage, a few hours ago, with this:

“It’s funny how easy it is to think that when we achieve a certain milestone, everything else will make sense. I’ve found that that never really happens. It’s just about being happy where you are. Things are always getting easier and more difficult at the same time! I think that’s the beauty of life when you guide your path by your heart. xo”

Go to her site. Start reading. Continue reading. Bookmark then read some more. Repeat.

I’M HAPPY YOU’RE HAPPY: And There’s Enough for Everyone

I posted this on my personal facebook page a few months ago, but it’s worth sharing again.

“We could all do better not to let jealousy, subjective comparisons, and perceptions of others “perfect lives” and happiness ruin our own dreams. Besides, if people really ARE happy, well.. isn’t that the goal? Couldn’t we stand to feel happy for them and not turn into grouches and insist they must be faking it?

The point is: another person’s success and joy doesn’t take ANYTHING away from you… And we’re all human. Just because someone isn’t blasting the internet with their personal struggles doesn’t mean they don’t have any. Act with love, not fear.”

Let us strive not to feel threatened when others do well in the form of a new job, a new creative project coming to fruition, they get recognized for work, they find a happy relationship, and so on.

Bright Colors make me happy. Photo by ADG Photography

When we aren’t happy with aspects of our own lives, it can be an impulse to look at someone’s happiness and begin to pick it apart to make ourselves feel better. WHY do rational, friendly people do this?

Here’s the thing: the world thrives, we thrive, when we make connections and share in our talents and visions.  There is not, and there never will be (thank goodness!) only one of the best of everything: the best musician, the best writer, the best designer. Someone else excelling in a field that you work in doesn’t mean you should stop doing your work, or that it’s any less valid.

The internet is such a wacky thing. It allows us to literally edit our lives. Sites like Facebook let you decide what to make public or private, what photos to share (the most flattering, of course!), and in the midst of all that sharing we can also leave out the hard times, the times we struggle, the bad days, the I’m-calling-in-sick-and-staying-on-the-couch-all-afternoon moments.

Most of us have had financial struggles, worked jobs we weren’t proud of (maybe even embarrassed of), been through at least one really horrible breakup, worked through self-esteem troubles, etc. Yet we compare and compare and compare and forget the truth: at the end of the day, we are all flawed, we are all imperfect, we all have ghosts in our closet or regrets that became lessons.

Watermelons and summer dresses make me happy. Photo by ADG Photography

Everyone, all of us, deserve happiness. No. Matter. What.

The sooner we can remember that, the easier it will be to focus on having it for ourselves.

BETHLEHEM GROCERY FOOD CO-OP THIS WEDNESDAY!

So, so exciting. In case you missed my post that explains the heart (and dare I say, community-based soul?) of a what a Food Co-op actually is, please read this.

I’m happy to say the first meeting got some press in one of the local papers today as the Express Times ran an article about the idea and the meeting, as well. This is important because this is going to be a lot of work. The fact that we are going to need a lot of volunteers, staff, lawyers, accountants, folks with experience, etc… is not lost on us and the more we spread the word, the more we can find those people. So keep telling everyone!

This Wednesday meeting is also a vegetarian/vegan potluck. You don’t have to bring food, but if you feel inclined, please do! Everyone is always happier then they are eating. Pair that with community involvement and the Library might start to shoot out actual beacons of light this Wednesday.

Read the Express Times article HERE.

I hope to see you Wednesday, Dec. 1st, at the Bethlehem Public Library (Northside location), between 7pm-9pm!

VEGAN MACHINE Blog Saves the Kal… I mean, DAY!

Back when I very first mentioned the rumblings of Bethlehem Vegfest on facebook, the amazing Kaycee Bassett of the blog Vegan Machine wrote to me to offer something so generous – could she make and donate some pocket guides so we may hand them out at the fest?

Could she? COULD SHE!?

A huge and resounding HECK YES. And so she did. Kaycee made up these guides of animal ingredients – things commonly found in food and other products that are animal derived that have crazy names and you may not know it just by reading the packaging.

Vegan Machine

She sent  literally hundreds, all of them hand-bound and made with love shooting out of that big heart of hers.

Cutie pie Kaycee Bassett of Vegan Machine

Cutie pie Kaycee Bassett of Vegan Machine

Please show Kaycee some love and support – you can help spread the word about what she does by liking her FACEBOOK PAGE, and checking out her blog full of drool-inducing recipes and lots, lots more.

She also organizes a Vegan Pen Pal match-up service. If you are interested in having a vegan pen-pal from a far off land, contact her and she will set it up. Who wouldn’t want some authentic Polish recipes or German vegan chocolates, not to mention a bond formed with someone new? GO HERE TO LEARN MORE.

Kaycee is one of those people that embodies a lifestyle based on compassion, and lives that every day in her actions and education. I am grateful to have her support!

Go visit Vegan Machine to keep up with this wonder woman!

IT GETS BETTER: LEHIGH VALLEY Video Submission

Take a look at what one little idea turned into:

What this project means to me:

I’m obviously an advocate for human rights. All the political aspects and statistics aside for a moment, the part of me that permanently lives in a world of rainbows and kittens and cartoon bluebirds singing in the air just plain doesn’t understand how homosexuality is still a negative issue for many people. I don’t get it. At all. There is not a single thing that anyone can say, not a SINGLE thing, that can justify to me how the love of two consenting adults is less than wonderful.

If one could try, for a moment, to consider all aspects of  life, it may shock most naysayers to realize how many queer people they know personally. What about your bank teller? The cashier at the store? The farmer that harvested your food? The person that drove the truck that brought your food to the store? The person that works in advertising and made the poster you saw for the concert you went to that ended up being the most fun you’ve had in years?

Recent political campaigns have only polarized people further – “us” versus “them”. In the midst of judging people based on their social class, their current job, who they date, what politcal party they belong to, their body type,  if they are religious or not, etc… (and all the while believing ” it’s wrong to judge people!”) we forget this one, teeny tiny fact – We all live on this same big, round ball. All of us. Every last one of us. And we’re all in this together.

When we support one another despite differences, we set an example for others. We awaken a part of people that may have forgot that within us we have enough power to shape our lives and our communities.

I want to mention that the video above came about in 3 simple steps. 1) I said “I want to make a collaboration video for It Gets Better”. 2) I called some local filmmakers to ask if they had interest, and without missing a beat they said “Yes, absolutely”. 3) I talked to Civic Theatre about giving a public space to shoot, and they likewise didn’t bat an eyelash to say “Yes, here is space for the whole day, take as long as you need.”

Done. It was literally that simple.

That’s not to say that things will always be that easy, or that you’ll always know the right people. But it does mean that taking an action – not just thinking “Wouldn’t it be cool IF…”, but taking the steps to contact people and, you know, actually do something, made this come together.

YOU have the power to do that. Yeah, I’m going to use the word “power” even if it sounds a little hokey. Because that’s truly what it is. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for what we can make possible, if we just begin the process.

Today, think about a project YOU would like to do…then do it. If it’s starting a new hobby, reading that book you’ve had on your nightstand for months, getting friends together to watch a film or have a dinner party, or take the time to think through ways you can begin something even bigger – you owe it to yourself to do it. You will benefit, and so will everyone around you. (Isn’t that nice?)

“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems” – Ghandi

(“Truth and Love” print, $20 from MursBlanc; “Small Acts” print, $20 from the Big Harumph via Etsy)

IT GETS BETTER: A Lehigh Valley Video Project

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the “It Gets Better” project – an internet based project where various people in support of GLBT rights and tolerance have had short video testimonials aimed at queer youth, to remind them that much of the harassment and injustices they face will get better in time.

The internet is full of video subissions, from various organizations to political leaders, to random folks wanted to lend their words and support. I’m so happy to announce that when I got in touch with some people to see if they had interest in helping make a Lehigh Valley PA submission, everyone immediately said “Yes!”.

So! On Sunday, Nov. 7th, ANYONE interested in participating can go to Civic Theatre of Allentown, from 1-4pm, where they will get a maximum of 3 minutes to lend themselves and their voice to be filmed. The point of the project is to remind people that over time, you get more comfortable in your own skin, and you find support from friends and community that are sometimes hard to come by when you’re a teen.

You are welcome to do this in any way that suits you best – read off a paper, just start talking, share a story, get mad, get excited, play an intrument… whatever you do best, do it and be proud!

Please go here to see the online event page, and spread the word: It Gets Better Lehigh Valley

Huge gigantic THANK YOU’S to: Sarah and Matt Fulton of Post Sputnik, you do incredible work that constantly improves and gets people excited about the Lehigh Valley. The fact that you will lend your equipment, talent and time to this project is humbling and everyone this affects will be forever grateful.

And also to Ryan Hill (my love!), Bill Sanders and Arlene Daily of Civic Theatre of Allentown, because despite organizing, planning and rehearsing the biggest production of the year, you all immediately wanted to help out and offered Civic Theatre as the public space for the filming to be held.

This project is for ANYONE that supports GLBT people and rights. There is a full, thriving community in the Lehigh Valley and this is a beautiful place for anyone to call home.

Political Optimism.

I’m under the weather today. Ideally I would have made a new video (the first in so long, the first in my new place!) but getting off the couch is a bit of a chore. I’ve been mostly reading and taking advantage of the instant watch feature on Netflix, and just finished watching No Impact Man.

A brief summary: This is a documentary about a man and his family as they attempt to live as green as possible for a year. They live in New York City, have an enviably cool apartment (the chairs!!!), and what seems like a wonderful and communicative relationship. Over the course of the year they cut out buying anything in packaging, begin to compost inside their apartment kitchen, give up toilet paper and other throw-away products, make all their own soaps, and forgo electricity.

I recommend the movie! But aside from just the basic message of the film – live comfortably using as little of the earth’s resources as possible – the filmmaker has such bright outlooks on the drive of people to make direct positive impacts on the world.

“If just I change, it’s not going to make much of a difference. But the hope is, if a lot of us as individuals change, it’s going to inspire everybody to change. So I believe the most radical political act there is is to be an optimist.

All of us are interconnected, and on many levels. If you’re religious, you understand that at a religious level. But even if you’re just practical you can see that we’re interconnected. If I splash a puddle and you’re standing next to it, it splashes you. If I make pollution, you have to breathe it in.

My mind wants to tell me that I’m the only one that’s important. So I have to keep teaching myself over and over again that that’s not true.” – No Impact Man

What we do affects others. Every day we make choices, no just in what we consume, but in our way of going through a day that it completely tied to other people we encounter in person and those we never see.

Holding a door for someone. Letting someone across the street go through a stop sign before you. Complimenting someone on what they are wearing. Engaging in conversation, even for a minute, to make a connection to someone else as a human being. These are all small ways where kindness and optimism can become contagious.

I remember when I was in college (round one, ha!) and one of my professors told us about his former job working for Crayola on the line for the paper wrappers that go around the crayons. And I remember thinking, “Wow. That’s someone’s job. Someone makes their living wrapping the crayons I have used for many years of my life.”  This man supported his family,  bought a home, and got up every day to go to this job most people don’t think about, but so many have directly used. Isn’t that incredible to think about?

When we back up and try to imagine that in the larger scope of our lives, we are affected (and in turn affect) hundreds and thousands of people, every day!

I began to watch another film, which begins with this quote:

“If one pulls on a single thread in nature, you’ll find it attached to everything else.” – John Muir

Interconnectedness is certainly abound. What timing! And on a personal and incredible level, I just checked my email and got a wonderful message from a new reader who told me a great story about how she found out about this blog. Her daughter was getting dental work done, and she was asking a woman in the dental office about what kinds of foods her daughter could eat while she was healing. She was especially curious as they are a vegetarian family. Turns out the dental employee had come to my cooking class, and told this woman and her daughter all about Save the Kales!

Now I’m going to be working with her in person as a nutritional case study for school. It’s so wonderful, and directly ties in with this whole idea that we can become a part of someone’s life without even knowing it!

Today, take notice of the products you use. Think about the folks who work hard every day that have some hand in creating that product. Say hello to a stranger. Look at items and food that you buy and consider how it impacts the earth and other people. And do it with the joyful knowledge that we are all in this together.

And I believe that really can change the world.