Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What can I give?

You may know that I work for a charity in Calgary.  Every day, I get to see the difference that people make when they give of themselves - of their time, energy, money, ideas and of all that they are - to make our world a better place.  And I see the results - the supports that encourage kids to flourish, the opportunities that are provided in safer housing and the hope in the face of a teen who realizes that ending their life is not the only way.

That's why I was excited and inspired when I heard this story.

You may have heard of the giving pledge.  40 billionaires (yes, billionaires... take a minute to think about what that means) have pledged to give away at least half of their wealth during their lifetimes.

Of course,  Warren Buffett and Bill Gates personally called each of the contributors to ask for their gift.  That`s not exactly a call it would be easy to avoid, or a conversation easy to say "No" to!

Anyway, to the point... proportionally, half of my income is not nearly as much as half of a billionaires.  Giving away half of my income prior to my death would be exciting, empowering and hopefully make a huge difference to the issues I chose to support.

While the idea is exciting, it's not very practical for my life.

But, this giving pledge has inspired me to think about what, exactly, I can do.  I can give my time, energy, ideas and passion.  I can commit to, share about and generate donations and support for issues that I believe in and want to support.  Without giving half my wealth, I can still make financial investments in things I care about.

Stories of this giving pledge have inspired me to do more for issues, charities and people that I value and care about.

What about you?  What can you do?  Your contributions make a difference to the issues that are important to you - give something today!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Shout outs

This is a quick shout out to some amazing organizations in Calgary that I had an opportunity to enjoy this weekend...

  • I was on 4th Street on Friday night, and only had time for a quick dinner.  Stopped by Purple Perk for something quick - and the service was fantastic!  The food was good too, but mostly, I was impressed by the service.  This is definitely the kind of place that, if I lived closer, I know I would be there every day.
  • Following dinner, I went to The Tech Shop to pick up my Calgary Women's Run race package, and also picked up some shoes.  Again, fantastic service - I showed the staff my shoes, they recommended 2 new kinds that were good, explained why they were good and helped me to try them.  One pair was perfect and I now love them.  Check them out for all your running/walking stuff!
  • For an early dinner on Saturday, I checked out Local 002 in Glamorgan (not yet listed on this site, but owned by the same company).  The salad was wonderful, and there were so many other yummy-looking things on the menu that I know I will be back.  And, they were super understanding and supportive of my crazy food allergies, even explaining the menu and adjusting food so that I could enjoy it.
  • Finally, the Calgary Women's Run on Sunday morning - many wonderful sponsors, including Amp Radio CalgaryLululemonFast & FemaleCommunity Natural Foods and a number of others came out in support of the Calgary YMCA and put together a great women for a whole bunch of runners.  Good times!
Huge recommendations for these businesses - if you're interested in any, I'd definitely recommend checking them out!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Calgary Votes...

So, in case you didn't know, Calgary will be electing a new city council on October 18th.

Today, I attended a Mayoral Forum hosted by the Calgary Leadership Forum.  There were 11 candidates for Mayor in attendance - some I had checked out the policies for, others who were somewhat known to me and still others that I'd never heard of at all.

Before I launch in to some thoughts, a bit of background on me... I'm 26, have lived in Calgary for forever, and have voted in every election (civic, provincial and federal) since I turned 18.  I've voted for lots of different parties and candidates, but have never volunteered on any campaign and am not a member of any party.  I very much enjoy watching politics from the sidelines, and following what's going on... and I look forward to the day when I am passionate and excited enough about any candidate to put my heart and effort in to working on their campaign.

So, some thoughts on the forum...

  • The forum didn't help me to decide who to vote for... but it certainly helped me decide who not to vote for.
  • I realized that I want specifics - more than knowing that a candidate has good values or platitudes, I want to hear specific ideas and strategies.
  • In addition to a vision that I believe in and can follow, I want a Mayor who is stable, confident and trustworthy.  
  • Issues that I think are important include affordable housing, budgeting and planning (short and long term) and council functionality.
  • I'm looking for a candidate who communicates well, and who will continue to communicate well with citizens when they are elected.
  • In some cases, the candidates would have been better off running for an aldermanic position - some just seem like they would speak much better to and on behalf of smaller, local communities.
  • 11 candidates is a lot... and the full slate of candidates for the Mayor's job is even more than that!  Add to that the candidates who are likely to come forward before the official nomination day (September 20th), and it will be a very full ballot.  Unless a number of them drop out, I suspect many candidates will have a hard time being heard through the din.
Finally, an over-riding thought... VOTE!  Every Calgarian has rights, responsibilities and a role to play in our city.  Everyone should vote!

So, what do you think about this election?  Were you at the forum?  Do you know who you will be voting for in October?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What does leadership mean?

I've been thinking a lot lately about leadership.

What is a leader?

What makes a leader?

Why some people (organizations) and not others?

I don't know the for sure answers to these questions, and I don't know if I ever will.  But I am learning, as I meet leaders both good and bad.

Don't get me wrong here: I know some absolutely lovely people, good friends and whom I admire in many other ways, who simply aren't leaders.

Some characteristics that I would suggest make a good leader...

  • vision
  • confidence
  • respect for others
  • ability to delegate
  • genuine love for and interest in people
I believe that some people are born with these traits, and others learn them - and that neither is better or worse.

I aspire to be a good leader, and believe that I can be... but also believe I have a lot of progress to make.  Fortunately, I am fortunate to know some excellent role models and mentors in this area.

What do you think?  What makes a good leader - and why?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Carrots + quinoa = dessert??

I don't know about you, but I love a good celebration.  Frankly, any excuse to eat cake is a good day for me : ) That is why I am a huge supporter of a tradition we have at the office - every time someone has a birthday, we all take half an hour and have some cake.  There are only about 10 of us, but that's 10 mini-celebrations a year!  We try to have the favourite cake of the person being celebrated - there's been black forest, red velvet... and this week, the birthday girl wanted carrot cake!

Normally we just pick up one of these cakes at a local grocery store or bakery, but this time, I wanted to try my hand at something new.  In some exploration, I discovered this recipe (taken from Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming) and thought "hey, I bet I could turn this in to carrot cake".  Hahaha... at least I am crazy ambitious in the kitchen at least, if not talented!

So, I made some modifications (obviously) and came out with a pretty tasty creation!  It was super moist, and with the carrots, I'm pretty sure it counts as a veggie serving!!

Without further ado, I present...

Quinoa Carrot Cake!

2/3 cup white or golden quinoa
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup milk (whatever kind works - I used almond milk)
4 large eggs (I used egg whites)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 shredded carrots
1-1/2 cups white or cane sugar
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Bring 1 1/3 cups of water to a boil, add the quinoa, lower the heat and put a lid on the pot.  Cook until all the water is absorbed (about 10 minutes).  Stir with a fork and let it cool down.

Turn the oven on to 350 degrees and grease 2 8- or 9-inch pans.

Shred the carrots in to small or long pieces - whatever makes you happy!  In a blender, combine milk, eggs and vanilla.  Add the cooked quinoa, butter and carrots and blend.

In a bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Pour the quinoa mixture into the bowl and mix to moisten all.  Pour batter in to both pans and bake for 40-45 minutes (I baked for about 45, but probably could have done with 5-10 minutes longer to make it firmer).  Cool and ice the middle, then put the two cakes together and ice the top.

I used a basic cream cheese icing (cream cheese, butter and icing sugar).

The original chocolate version of this would be tasty too.  Definitely gonna have to try that!

Let me know if you give it a shot... would love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Come on down!

JCI Calgary, an organization that I'm a member of and sit on the board of, is the local chapter of an international group that provides opportunities for people ages 18 - 40 to network, learn and enjoy themselves.  We're having an event on Wednesday night at 7pm at the Kahanoff Centre (200, 1202 Centre St S).

Part of the session will be a presentation by Robert Vanden Heuvel.

How can we do well in business... while also doing good? Whether it goes by the name social enterprise, social investing, or philanthro-capitalism, this is an exciting and growing phenomenon. Where trillions of dollars of aid has largely failed, business has a unique ability to effect social change which is also sustainable!

Robert Vanden Heuvel is one of the top Account Managers at Calgary-based Bedford Biofuels. At August's JCI Member Opportunity Night, Rob will be presenting Bedford's compelling "triple bottom line": profitable, environmental, and humanitarian. Where is the demand for oil -- and biofuel -- headed? Do practical and economically competitive biofuels even exist? What about "food versus fuel"? How can a business help meet the needs of poor communities and why does it make great sense to do so? How can I get involved and do well while also doing good? Come learn the answers to these and more!

Find more information here, and let me know if you can join us!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The right tools

I ran 8.6 KMs today!  This is a huge first for me, an increase of almost a full kilometer.  I'm working up to a 10K at the end of August, and am happy to be making progress.

Post-run, though, my knee began really aching - a reminder that I need to upgrade my tools.  Specifically, I need to buy new runners - it's been about a year since my last pair (probably at least 3 months too long) and now I'm starting to feel the ache in response.

The pain didn't last, but it was really just a quick reminder that, though I like to think I can do just about anything, the right tools, the right support and the right mindset put together make all the difference.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What's your why?

I love my job.  I consider myself incredibly blessed to go to an office every morning that I look forward to (most days, at least), to do something that I'm passionate about and to know that I'm making an impact.  That's not to say every day is perfect; frustration happens, successes don't always come easy, and there are days when it feels like I go in circles.

And, my job isn't everything - there are other passions and other loves that compete for attention, time and energy.  I believe this combination is healthy, and for me, it fits.

Many, many people don't consider themselves so fortunate.  So many spend their work days willing away the time, just waiting for it to be over.  Fortunately, there are other ways to find fulfillment - family, friends, volunteering and interests can all be passions and driving forces in our lives.  The opportunity to find joy through work remains for many though, however elusively.

All of this contributed to my excitement at discovering the Live Your Why project, which is about compiling stories about people who found part of their passion in their work.  I hope to submit a story and look forward to reading the many other submissions.

Kudo's to Katie for putting together such a cool project!  And congratulations to those who have found joy and passion in their work, and to those who are still seeking the same.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Who Knew?

Growing up, I detested veggies.

Not only detested, but also never ate. Never learned to enjoy them. Used to torture my Mom about not including onions, or peas, or anything else that may be a veggie on my plate.

Then, I moved out and had to start cooking for myself... and it got worse. I began only eating food that came in a package, cooking with one pot and a thin little frying pan.

Fast forward a whole bunch to tonight... when I ate asparagus for dinner. With onions, peppers, mushrooms, and kale. Without, I might add, anyone threatening harm or death for not eating.

Recently, I've also been experimenting with eggplant, cabbage, brussel sprouts and... horror of horrors... swiss chard (this experiment didn't go well, but I will be getting back on this horse).

It doesn't always work - I've been known to throw out entire frying pans of food - but I almost always enjoy trying.

This has also become a bit of an analogy for ny life - trying new things, stepping into fear, doing things I never thought I would or could.

And learning to live in the moment and enjoy every second.

Tonight, I ate (and enjoyed) asparagus.  Here's to adventure and experience!