Posts with Category Where Am I Giving?

Is awareness a burden or the key to happiness?

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“Don’t F@ck with chocolate. I don’t want to know.”

That was a friend’s reaction when I told him I was researching the book that would become WHERE AM I EATING?, a book in which I traveled around the world to meet farmers who produce chocolate, bananas, coffee, lobster, and apple juice.

The cocoa farmers I met in West Africa lived in poverty. A worker on a cocoa farm was enslaved. Child labor. Environmental degradation. Economic impacts of a changing climate. There were plenty of issues to be aware of.

So…did this awareness ruin chocolate for me?

Nope. Quite the opposite. Now that I know more about chocolate, how it’s produced, where it comes from, and brands that concern themselves with the well-being…

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The Invisible Poor

Poverty, like death, is something that is all around us, but we like to pretend it doesn’t exist and could never happen to us.

Most cultures have prejudices toward the poor. I’ve noticed this when I travel. I’ve had translators in China and Cambodia who wondered why I would want to talk to people who worked in a factory or lived in a slum. I’ve had plenty of translators and friends who’ve said things like “They talk uneducated,” and they do things because “they don’t know better.” For many of my translators, the poor in their country are as invisible to them as the poor in my own had been to me until I started to volunteer. Researchers found that tourists on slum tours in India looked at slum residents…

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Would You Save This Child?

Say Cheese!This is a pic of my son Griffin. I think you’d save him, if he needed saving. Why then do we ignore the preventable deaths of other children around the world when our actions would save their lives?  This is a challenging question and one introduced to me by Peter Singer, author of The Life You Can Save.

I present Singer’s thoughts in this excerpt of Where Am I Giving?:

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I threw my cell phone, dropped my laptop bag, and ran as if my life depended on it. Part of me wanted to throw up or scream or both, but I needed to focus all of my energy on running as fast as I could.

Nothing else in my life mattered in that…

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Wanderlust, It’s a Wonderful Life, & Mom

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(Mom and I with Safari Doctors in Lamu, Kenya)

A few years ago Mom told me that when she was in high school she wanted to be a travel writer. She graduated and went to a business college for a year before becoming pregnant. Mom and Dad got married in a ceremony I haven’t heard much about. They moved into a mobile home, but her life was anything but mobile. Dad worked construction and on his parents’ farm. Mom worked as a secretary for an auto manufacturer that has long since closed.

She lost the baby. His name was Michael. I’ve always felt some connection with him. If he had lived, would they have decided to have a third child after…

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Dear friend who doesn’t like to get political

Dear friend who doesn’t like to “get political,”

Farm bill. Food stamps. Farm subsidies. Food safety. Poisoned.

Eating is a political act.

Car emissions. Smog warning. Ozone action. Factory exhaust. Suffocation.

Breathing is a political act.

No music. Test teaching. Politician’s curriculum. Slashed budgets. Dumbed.

Education is a political act.

High premium. Expensive meds. Uninsured bankruptcy. Untreated. Preexisting until you unexist.

Health is a political act.

Farm runoff. Waste treatment. Lead water. Depleted aquifers. Parched.

Drinking is a political act.

Bears Ears. Natural parks. Algal blooms. Dying reefs. Homeless.

Recreation is a political act.

Trade laws. Labor rights. Underpaid. Overtime. Destitute.

Working is a political act.

Neighborhood watch. Stand your ground. Speed limits. Slow . . . at risk children at play.

Safety is a political act.

Unemployment. Social security. Disability. Promised entitlements. Uncertainty.

The future is a political act.

Museums. Public works. Heart appreciation. Examined…

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The gift of a teacher

Mrs Marshall

Before I turn in a book manuscript to my editor, I turn it in to my high school English teacher, Dixie Marshall. She’s my best and most trusted editor. And also, I suppose, I’m trying to make up for all the assignments I didn’t turn in as a high school student.

There was the group project on King Arthur where we turned in our “notes” and it became apparent that none of us were taking the assignment seriously.

There was the summer reading group. Mrs. Marshall selected me and a few other students for a group she hosted at her house . . . in the summer! Did I mention this was during…

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Do you tip the barista when they aren’t looking?

Has this happened to you?

You place your coffee order and by the time you find a buck or two for the tip, the barista has their back to you. You look at the hand-decorated, ornamented tip jar and pause. Do you drop in the tip while no one is looking, or do you wait to get “credit”– a “thank you” for your “thank you.”

What did you do?

Does a tip fall into a jar if there is no one in the cafe to see it? Does it count? Of course it is counted at the end of the day. But in that moment, it’s not counted as your act of gratitude.

But are we tipping to enhance our own status or tipping to support someone else? Is tipping about us or…

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I cut Steven Seagal from my book, Putin pasted him into US-Russian relations

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Vladimir Putin named Steven Seagal as the Russian Special Envoy to the United States. While writing Where Am I Giving I went on a Steven Seagal tangent I thought was worth sharing. As a kid I watched a few of his movies, but until I went down the Steven Seagal rabbit hole to research the tangent I never realized how deplorable of a person he seems to be.

To set things up… the tangent came in the first chapter of the book when I write about my first post-college trip. I had been taken in by a monk, Sange, who had stayed at Steven Seagal’s house. We were prepping for a celebration in honor of Sange’s teacher Penor Rinpoche.

Here’s…

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Want to make the world a more generous place? Help launch my next book

Kelsey at APSU

 

My new book Where Am I Giving? comes out on July 25th, or 15th, or who knows? I’m not JK Rowling. However, I do I believe there is magic in this book that can make each of our lives and the world better.

I need your help! The world’s a noisy place and marketing budgets are limited.

So far I’ve received some great endorsements from world renowned philosophers, bestselling authors, and Gandhi’s grandson, but none of them meant as much as what my high school English teacher, Dixie Marshall, wrote to me after reading an early version of the book:

“I believe this is the most important book you have written and may ever write. It’s really an impressive book, a valuable book,…

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Happy Red Nose Day?

photo by Bryan Ledgard Flickr Creative Commons

If you’ve shopped at Walgreens recently, no doubt you’ve seen red clown noses for sale. They fight poverty or something, whatever that means.

“60 percent didn’t quite understand what we did,” says Janet Scardino, CEO of  Comic Relief USA  that partners with Walgreens to sell the noses.

Between the US and the UK, the campaign has raised more than $1.4 billion, which goes to organizations like Save the Children, Feeding America, and the Boys & Girls Club to help children in need.

NPR’s Goats & Soda reported on the campaign: “But how does buying a red foam nose at a drugstore for a buck help the cause? And does this charity with the silly name really do good work? We…

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