Spring 2015: Musical Inspiration

Every season, I share artistic expressions that have inspired me. This month I’d like to share some music that has resonated. In particular, in line with my Happiness Project – I wanted to share some of the tracks that made it to my Happy Playlist.

I would love to hear what music has inspired you over the past season, or what tracks made it onto your happy playlist, in the comments below!


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You can find more artistic expressions which have inspired me: here
You can find out more about my Happiness Project: here

Promise or Pay: Creating social change through individual action

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Promise or Pay is an innovative social platform whose vision is to transform personal promises into wide scale social change. It uses a combination of publicly declared promises and pledges to charities (if promises are not kept) to ensure a win-win outcome with guaranteed impact.

I was absolutely inspired by this concept created by founder Jay Boolkin, an Australian social entrepreneur who used behavioral and motivation research to create this concept. He explains:

Research shows that making a formal declaration of your intentions increases your chance of actually achieving your goal by 33%, and by 72% if money is put on the line.

By using the power of social media sharing as leverage, his aim is to inspire millions of people from around the world to be the best (and happiest) they can be, while encouraging and promoting donations to worthwhile charities.

I recently created my own promise – to exercise 5 days a week (next 3 months) or pay $50 to a mental health charity (Open Minds), inspired by my Happiness Project. Consider sweetening the deal, by becoming one of my supporters, or better yet creating a promise or pay account yourself! You can also check out their free resources (like a 30 day program on how to build a lasting habit).

What goal would you like to accomplish? Did you make a new years resolution that needs refreshed attention? Are you following your own happiness project? Share your ideas below – or links to your own promise or pay pages!


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My Happiness Project: Stage 2

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This year, I made a resolution to explore initiatives to create an atmosphere of positivity and balance in my own life – an initiative I am calling my Happiness Project. My plan is to introduce 3 new tactics every quarter of 2015, and I invite you to join me!

I’m excited to announce the three new happiness tactics (for April to June) are as follows:

  • Invest in 5 meaningful and intentional relationships – It has been said, that we are the company we keep. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people, and create a significant impact on your own outlook. Additionally, a sense of connection with others has been shown to increase happiness. Take time to really consider the people in your life – your friends and family – and determine 5 key relationships. If you can’t think of 5, it’s time to get out there and meet them! Find ways to invest in these people often: carve time out of your day to ask and listen to them, organize dinner parties, arrange coffee dates, go on nature walks, tell them how much you appreciate sharing moments with them.
  • Exercise daily – Getting our bodies moving, helps keep our emotions in check. Be kind to your body, and get started regardless of your current activity level. Go for a walk around the block (perhaps with one of the people above), check out the 7 minute workout, start a yoga practice (free on youtube), or integrate exercise into your daily commute (like biking).
  • Create a happy music playlist – Find the songs that make you feel peaceful, happy, or joyful. Listen to it often, and specifically when you are feeling down.

From January to March, we focused on: daily identifying 5 things we are grateful for, meditating, and removing one negative thing from our lives. I implemented all three and have noticed a shift in my awareness and level of stress.

One tool I discovered that I cannot say enough positive things about is Headspace, a tool for meditation. I especially liked the metrics (like tracking your meditation day streak), ability to keep track of friends meditation activity, and best of all if you purchase a subscription they provide one free of charge to someone who needs it.

For those of you who implemented happiness initiatives in past 3 months, share your insights below! Which songs make you happy? Do you have tips for including exercise in your daily life? What are things that you are thankful for (list 5 below)? Join the Happiness Project with me!


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Innovative IDEAS to solve world issues

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I have decided to start an IDEAS section for this blog, dedicated to exploring solutions to world problems which have yet to be solved. No problem is too big. Roll up your sleeves with me, and dive in fearlessly to tackle big issues, share relevant information, brainstorm ideas, and compassionately encourage others to do the same.

If you have a sustainable or compassionate problem (big or small) you would like solved, please note it below! I will be selecting a different topic each month for discussion. Additionally, a social media challenge will be launched each month to increase awareness about the issue chosen.

This IDEAS area is a safe place – all ideas, however seemingly unrealistic, are welcomed. Additionally, information generated from this section is free for entrepreneurs and innovators to pursue – in fact that is the point!

Lets change the world…one IDEA at a time.


**If you (or others you know) are interested in brainstorming or pursuing an IDEA, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**

CaGBC ORC – A Year in Review

I have been blessed to volunteer with the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) regional chapters, both in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa Region, over the past 5 years. My spirit has been enriched through shared passion, education, and collective action.

The CaGBCs mission is to ‘lead and accelerate the transformation to high-performing, healthy green buildings, homes and communities throughout Canada’.

Buildings are the largest contributor of human caused green house gases. Sustainable buildings add value in many ways – from lower environmental impacts (increased waste diversion, and reduced energy and water consumption), better occupant health and productivity, reduced operating expenses, to top talent acquisition and retention. Living, working, and playing in green buildings should be a top priority for those who care about the environment, their health, or their wallet.

This past year, I had the pleasure of being the President of the CaGBC Ottawa Region Chapter (CaGBC ORC). We had a brilliant team of dedicated volunteers, who worked together to create tangible positive changes including:

  • Ten high value and well attended green building events (including green building seminars, building tours, networking, LEED credential training, and community education and outreach)
  • Launched new CaGBC ORC website (600% increase in monthly views), with a new Industry Expert Blog (~2,000 views per article)
  • Increased Social Media reach (500+ people) {You can find the CaGBC ORC on twitter, LinkedIN and facebook}
  • Increased membership (<100 to >150) and membership benefits (including terra20 savings for change program)
  • Expanded Emerging Green Builder Group to include School Groups
  • Continued to build strong partnerships (Post Secondary schools, environmental groups, building associations, government).

It never ceases to amaze me what a dedicated team of people can accomplish, when heads and hearts combine to form action. The ripple effects of the work done this past year, are likely much larger than even I can imagine. I wanted to personally thank all those who devoted their time, energy, enthusiasm, and intellect to further green buildings in Canada over this past year.

You are changing the world. Never stop.

For those interested in how they can get involved: Check out CaGBC, USGBC, or World GBC for volunteer opportunities in your region. If you want to find out how you can start making changes in your own home, you can review my Home Energy Project. I challenge you to inquire at buildings you frequent (such as your place of work, community center, school, shopping center) if any sustainable building initiatives have been pursued – advocate for changes if they have not, give recognition if they have.


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Winter 2015: Poetic & Visual Inspiration

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I am honored to share an incredible poem,  from a brilliant soul – Paul Jensen. I have been blessed to have glimpses into Paul’s life and light, through sharing of his written word.  Paul passed away unexpectedly last week, and although his passing is heartbreaking to those of us who knew him, I know his spirit lives on in his creative work. With great admiration, and in remembrance, one of Paul’s poems has been reprinted here. Share in this moment. Reflect. Life’s small miracles are still all around us. 
We will miss you, Paul.

Dawn’s Too Early Light

Light on the ceiling
Glowing
Shadows banished early

Silence all I’m hearing
Hushing
All life abed too late

Too much light too little noise
Awakening
The world has changed

The drapes pull back
Revealing
Blinding white, pure light

Snow

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You can find more artistic inspiration (poetic, visual and musical) here.
If you enjoy these photos, you may be interested in my Instagram.

 

Empowering Sustainable International Development

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In an ideal collaboration the International Sustainability Club (ISC) at the leading school for sustainable business, Presidio Graduate School,  partnered with Zawadisha to analyze and provide insights for  Kenyan women’s entrepreneurship in environmentally conscious products.

Zawadisha is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower, entrust and expand opportunities for women through micro-lending, preventative healthcare, and education. They accomplish this through funding micro loans which address the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) – such as water tanks, and solar lamps.

Allyn McAuley, a MBA Candidate at Presidio whose focus area is in the development of software solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental and social problems, explains the success factors of Zawadisha’s approach:

Zawadisha’s approach differs from many micro-finance organizations because their eco-product ideas come from the women that they serve (their members), not from the organization. In addition, Zawadisha works solely with women’s groups, as opposed to individuals, because groups provide the support and accountability necessary for successful lending and repayment of loans.

The ISC students assessed the financial, social and environmental impacts of the micro-loans, including the Grameen Foundation’s Progress out of Poverty Index. The information collected was used to visualize and identify opportunities within the network.  Outcomes included storyboards (individual and organizational), money management training modules, as well as the incredible opportunity to share knowledge on how to address social and environmental issues from one set of business leaders to another.

I cannot help but feel a sense of hope that widespread solutions are within reach, if we continue to share expertise and work together to create worldwide change.

Have you participated in a micro-loan program? Where do you see the largest opportunities for business to solve social and environmental issues today? Are you involved in supporting those who are pursuing positive change? Please share links to other worthwhile projects below!


**If you enjoyed the content of this post, please consider following my blog, reblogging, and/or sharing on social media (twitter, linkedin, facebook)**

You may also enjoy other articles on how business or investing can create change: Q&A interview with Impact Investor, William Doll OR Sustainable Investing for the Future.