What’s with the Sucky Food Capt Airport?

I normally try to bring food from home with me when I travel, but when you’re flying cross-country it is sometimes hard to bring enough.  My partner jests, “well, maybe if you didn’t take 7 books with you.”  Ha-ha…funny guy.  Even so, why when I decide to get food at the airport are there ‘rarely’ any good healthy options?  I never know where this food is coming from?  And there are hardly ever any gluten-free options.  WTF?

Today I ended up settling on a salad with tuna from Spring Fresh Salads.  It tasted like bland cat food.  I know, I should have known better on the tuna, but it’s my favorite protein and I was quite hungry with a few more plane hours to go.  (I won’t even get into airline snacks.)  So again, what’s with the lacking airport food options?

I got thinking about it as I ate my bland cat food…  Airports are striving to be greener – greener buildings, better energy efficiency, recycling, and even compostable packaging in some.  Why haven’t they applied the same standards to their food?  So many people fly and thus have to eat bland cat food like me.  They’re already charging you so much for it; they might as well make it healthy, sustainable and taste good.  Why can’t they have mini farmer’s markets like they have on highway rest stops?  Sure they’d have to approach the business model a little differently, but think of the health, social & environmental impact that could have.  I’d buy some fresh kale from a local farmer’s market at the airport.  I love eating raw kale, brussels sprouts, turnips…I could go on and on.

What do you think?  Do you think we could use more healthy, sustainable, local, gluten-free and tasty food options at our airports?

Resilient Mindset

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Exploring Resilient Mindset: A Look into Self-Practice & Process – # 1

torie beedle

Molly Gawler

Out of curiosity and wanting to build on recent posts, I decided to start interviewing people about their process and self-practice.  I’m curious to see what are good questions to help a person have insights into their self-practice and process.  I think all to often we are good, even great, at picking up on other people’s processes, but not to good at perceiving our own.  To kick off this social journey, I interviewed my friend Molly Gawler.  Along with being a dancer with Pilobolus’ Shadowland, Molly is also a very talented musician.   She sings and fiddles in her family band and in her sisters’ folk music group, the Gawler Sisters.  And without further ado…our interview!

What do you do to learn about yourself?

Well, I feel as you go about your life there are times when you have to take a moment and look back and reflect on how you’re doing.  I do a lot of writing in that case…a lot of journaling.  I think writing is a good tool for self-reflection.  I go through phases of making charts for myself.  Last summer I made a whole chart around the topic of “what do you love?”  In one column I wrote Thai massage, music, dance, yoga, qigong, and meditation.  Then each day I would check off which ones I did.  After a while I had a whole flow chart of ‘what do I love.’  It was a good self-reflection tool to go back and see which things were helping me the most, or that I was leaning on the most, in my life.

What were the learning items you would tend to come up with?  If you could categorize them what would it look like for you?

I guess one thing is patterns that you have.  Often times an event will happen in my life, and it will be like – Oh, that’s the boundaries pattern showing up again.  Often times they have to do with emotional things that come up.  If they are getting in the way of you doing what your meant to do, then it’s important to stop and reflect on that.  One tool I often use from my teacher and mentor, Ray, is a story wheel.  You draw a circle.  In the center of the circle is a calm place and on the outside of the circle is the issue you are dealing with.  The object of the story wheel is to try and connect the outside of the circle to the center.  It is just one way of writing it down and getting it out on paper.

What do you feel writing it down does for you?

I think it’s an action step.  I think action is really important or otherwise it is just floating around and not really clear what it is.  Once you put a word to it and get it out on paper, I think you are able to analyze it a lot better.

How do you communicate, connect or seek feedback from your community?

I was thinking about that and the biggest way is through art and performance.  I think music is a really strong communicator in the community.  It is also a way to give and receive pretty instantaneously…and over time too.  I just made this CD and people will come and give feedback.  They’ll say ‘we felt this way when we listened to this song’ or  ‘this song affected me this way.’  I think dance is another direct feedback.

What do you feel that feedback helps you with?  How is it valuable?

I think it has to do with finding your purpose in life…and your path.  Feedback from the community lets you know you are on the right way, right path.  I think we have different community circles too.  My family is a big one for me.  The dance community, music community, farming communities, and also the contra dancing communities are some big ones for me.  I feel there is this kind of porous receptivity that goes between them.

What is an example of an interaction with community, maybe some feedback you got, and how it evolved to a learning that helped you with your purpose?

Yeah…well, the lullaby CD that I made…its kind of peaceful, lullaby music.  I had someone listen to it while they were actually dying.  This lady was dying and she was like, “Can I just listen to Molly Gawler’s Honey Dreams?”  Her family put it on and it lulled her to sleep.  When I got that feedback, I thought, ‘Wow, that is really powerful…I’m going to keep doing music (laughs).  This is really important for me to do.”  It let me know I was on the right track.  There were a few more amazing stories like that, that prompted me to do more music with my family and really see that as a valuable thing for the world.

Could you give an example where the feedback wasn’t positive and how you were able to receive that interaction with the community and incorporate it into yourself and your purpose?

Hmmm…yeah, I guess what comes to mind is dance reviews.  There have definitely been some that haven’t been positive and hmmm…yeah…that’s an interesting question.  Because on one hand, I kind of want to say this is who I am – take it or leave it (laughs).  But on the other hand, I want to learn from the feedback that I am getting.  So, I kind of take it with a grain of salt, especially dance reviews because if there is something that is going to help me more forward, then I’ll listen to it.

So what I hear you saying is there’s a balance of stubbornness and openness?

(Laughs)  Yes, totally.

Could you share a tip for how you balance that stubbornness and openness that could maybe help someone else?

I think, well, it’s really…I think it’s just really important to know who you are…and it’s so hard to get to the purity of that.  Know who you are, and let all the other riffraff and chaff fly away in the breeze.  Cause if you are really strong in your center and you’re like, ‘well this is who I am,’ then…yeah, I guess that balance of stubbornness and openness…hmmm…yeah, that’s a tough one.  I’m not really sure I have a specific tool for that one.

What activities do you do that help center you or assist your flow or are activities that help you get in that ‘flow’ zone?

Yeah…well that is so important.  I think that’s really important for all of us to remember.  That flow is what allows us to live, be productive and make changes and stuff.  And I say that for my own self too, because sometimes I don’t place that as something that is productive, but it really is.  I have to put that high on my priority list.  I recently made another chart for ‘heartwork.’  For me ‘heartwork’ means anything that makes me clear in the mind and lets my heart be the leader.  Basically it’s where the heart and body are the leader and the mind is like a cleared out computer that does what it needs to do, but it’s not running the show.  So, playing the fiddle would be one.  Dancing would be heartwork.  Meditating.  Sometimes I practice just looking at a tree or something that’s living…seeing the aurora and just looking at it for a long time (laughs).  This morning, for example, I was just looking at the shadow that the smoke made outside from the wood fire.  What else…  Qigong is a big one because it is just about the breath.  Oh, that’s another one I love to use – conscious breath.  It’s a tool of just doing one full minute of breathing in and out and seeing if you can let your mind be still.  But often times I get little things going on in my mind (laughs)…blablablablabla…(laughs).  What do you do when that mind chatter come up for you? I usually try and say – I am thinking – and try to let it go.  It’s hard sometimes.  That’s where I need practice.

Are there other tools you use in your daily/weekly life to have a more resilient, sustainable self?

Hmmm…I think taking a bath.  I love taking bathes (laughs)!  And I think asking for help.  Like you Torie, you’re a good person to listen.  I think asking for help is a really good tool.  So, if you have a community, get together and dialogue with people.  Talk about this stuff and find out what other people are using as tools.  I think that in itself is a tool.  It takes an awareness to see ‘oh, I should work on this.’  What else…hmmm…handstands (laughs)!

Thanks Molly!!

Stay tuned for next episode of ‘Exploring Resilient Mindset: A Look into Self-Practice & Process!’

Until then, dare to wear your soul on the outside.  Live your legacy.  Unfold your own mythos.

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Defining a Self-Practice – Part 2

Last weekend I attended the Association for Experiential Education West Region‘s Winter Summit at the California Alpine Club on Mt. Tamalpais.  What fun groups of people!  There are few groups I know that could rival their enthusiasm for life, learning and adventure!  If enthusiasm for life, learning and adventure is something you are interested in, I highly suggest you look into these groups.

In the mists of this awesome weekend, I found myself facilitating a Open Space breakout session on Resilient Mindset.  Specifically, what is it and how do we develop it?  This is the subject of my practicum work for my MBA and is a topic I am very passionate about.  My intention for the breakout session was to (1) see how other people define resilient mindset, and (2) to figure out how others define their process or self-practice in developing a resilient mindset.  While the outcome didn’t fully reflect my initial questions, the dialog that bubbled up was equally as stimulating.  This is what I want to share with you today.

In my previous post I wrote about defining a self-practice.  I wrote that it contained three parts: a practice of reflection – self, purpose & path; a practice of communication; and a practice of ritualistic/centering activities.  In lieu of this past weekend’s resilient mindset breakout session, I’d like to revisit my notes on a practice of communication.  Through our session dialog it became apparent to me that this practice should not just be about communication or merely reference community, but be fully inclusive of community, coaching/mentoring and communication.  The image and thought that comes up for me here is the yin/yang symbol and true democracy (think ancient Athens).  In true democracy the citizen and the community each represent a side of the yin/yang symbol.  The citizen seeks self-mastery and strives to be their best authentic self within their community.  The community in turn nurtures, supports, gives feedback and opportunity for its citizens to succeed, thus helping the community as a whole to succeed.  When you give feedback or support, you are mentoring and coaching.  Coaching and mentoring thus goes hand in hand with communicating and is the lubrication between the citizen and the community.  One feeds and supports the other.  They cannot develop their full potential without each other.  The sum of the whole is greater than the parts.

So rather than a practice of communication, a self-practice should include a practice of the 3Cs – Communication, Community & Coaching.

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How do you define your Self-Practice?

I’ve been in a bit of a rut with my research recently (being sick doesn’t help I’m sure). When I get in these stuck spots I turn to writing for help. This time my writing took me to the idea of developing a self-practice and what goes into it. I’d like to share what I came up with.

I started off pondered the question of: How do we re-pattern ourselves – our mindset – to have a balance of reaching for both the delayed and instant gratification? How do we establish this as a practice and ultimately develop a more resilient mindset?

What I found was in order to develop a more resilient mindset; we need to develop a self-practice. This self-practice needs to include three things: a practice of reflection – self, purpose & path; a practice of communication; and a practice of ritualistic/centering activities. Allow me to explain further.

A Practice of Reflection – Self, Purpose & Path:

Reflections of Self is to understand where our current mindset is at, name our patterns and identity with our authentic selves. An understanding of one’s self, allows us to construct more succinct pathways and educational tools to support our goals and objectives. It can be done through writing, dialog, or an activity and writing/dialog, which ever works best for you. However, I recommend writing. This ensures your reflections will not be forgotten. Guiding questions: What excites you? What makes you sad? What environments and activities support you? Which ones do not?

Reflections of Purpose is the continual evaluation of desired goals, skills, passions & fit in community to discern the best possible placement for both self & community betterment. By continually updating and checking in with our vision of purpose, we can renew our drive and motivation towards pursuing our goals. Guiding questions: What are you passionate about? What are your skills? How can you fit your passions & skills within the community?

Reflections of Path is the continual evaluation of our path – the planning and construction of it. Purpose is our desired end goal. Goals, objectives and perceived gratifications/rewards are the milestones that define our journey toward our purposes. By reflecting on these we give ourselves the opportunity to course correct our paths & adjust our objectives and needed instant gratifications to better support ourselves and the success of our journey. Guiding questions: What are your goals & objectives (g’s & o’s)? What are the things you need to do to accomplish your g’s & o’s? What are the potential rewards for your g’s & o’s? Does your current trajectory support your g’s & o’s? If not, what do you need to change and how?

A Practice of Communication

Developing a self-practice is great in theory, but it is not something truly successful in a vacuum. Community is needed to provide support, feedback and opportunity. Reflections need to be shared to help establish value & worth to the individual. This validation from community supports our vision of self-worth and purpose. Feedback from the community allows us to adjust our paths. Communicating with community can be done through a number of ways with today’s innovations: talking with friends, giving lectures/workshops, writing letters, writing blogs, writing publications, posts on Facebook & Linkedin, participation in communities of practice, online book groups, etc. However, it is important to note that communication is a two-way street. You putting your information out there is one way. You commenting, critiquing, and offering feedback on someone else’s information is the return and second way. As the saying goes, “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

A practice of communication supports our vision of self-worth and purpose by providing validation, feedback, and guidance. Having this practice also allows for the sharing and growth of knowledge. It allows you and others to stand on the shoulders of giants. Guiding questions: How do you communicate with your community? How do you seek validation and guidance? Do you withhold information our of fear of rejection, failure, or change? Are you too stuck to your ideals, your art, your project, to share it with the community? Are you too stuck to the idea of being perfect? When was the last time you listened to someone else share their reflections and provide feedback?

A Practice of Ritualistic/Centering Activities

A self-practice also includes elements of structure and experience. These are the familiar routines or rituals you have in place to support your flow. They are what you draw upon to connect the inner and outer selves and create understanding and learning. This could be running, yoga, walking your dog, dancing, painting, doing the dishes, nature, etc. The important thing is that the experience provides stability and support your ability for reflection and communication. Guiding questions: What supports your flow? What do you do in your daily/weekly/monthly schedule that is ritualistic and helps center you?

Thinking of self-practice in this way, helped me see what I am missing. How do ‘you’ define and keep a self-practice?

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In-N-Out: Sustainable Fast-Food?

In-N-Out Watercolor by jack Schmitt

Recently, I was writing about In-N-Out Burger for my supply chain class. As far as fast food goes, I’m pretty impressed with In-N-Out Burger. For those who may not know, In-N-Out is a west coast, privately owned fast food chain that is known for its fresh, high-quality burgers and fries, clean establishments and friendly customer service. Here are just a few quick facts that I found interesting:

  • They started about the same year & only 45 miles west of McDonald’s. Rather then focus their mission on volume (like McDonald’s), they focused on quality and customer service.
  • They serve all their food fresh. Their burgers and french fries are never frozen or microwaved. They are 100% beef and potatoes respectively. Their shakes are made with real ice cream.
  • Their whole supply chain is within a day’s drive from any of their stores.
  • Initially, they only grew fast as they could support. Which at that time meant having a trained manager, a ready market and the cash to pay for the new store in full. Wowsers! You don’t hear of financial planning like that anymore!

Still, even with their great business model, there are some gaps that stand out to me in terms of being a truly sustainable business.

  • Improving energy efficiency. By converting all the lighting in their stores to LEDs they could save money on their utility costs.
  • Supplier resiliency: What are the practices of their suppliers? What would happen if the US is hit by a potato blight? Mad cow disease? Grain shortages? To build resiliency into their supply chain, In-N-Out Burger needs to assess the resiliency and sustainability practices of its suppliers.

With In-N-Out’s cult like following, it would be interesting to see what kind of impact they could have if they started to take on sustainability initiatives.

Mickie, R.  (2009).  Should In-N-Out Burger Dump Its Trash Cans? | Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.  (n.d.).   Retrieved December 6, 2010, from http://www.triplepundit.com/2009/04/should-in-n-out-burger-dump-its-trash-cans/

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Failure is an option, but fear is not.

When recently watching James Cameron’s TED talk, I was struck by his parting thought: “Failure is an option, but fear is not.”

I starting thinking about all the times I’ve been told “Failure is NOT an option,” and how often other people must have heard this too. In one hand we’re told we need to be creative and innovative, but then on the other we’re told we’d better not fail. Where does this type of coaching lead us?

The book Nurtureshock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, also touches on this issue. The authors mention how ‘non-specific praise’ is actually detrimental to development. They explain how in giving praise, such are ‘you’re so smart’ to help boost self-esteem, actually conditions the person to be afraid to fail. As a result, the person may be less apt to try new things out of fear of failure. Instead, the authors recommended that praise be giving in accordance with effort, such as “good job for following through and finishing that assignment on time.” This way the person learns to associate praise with effort and not with the lack of failure. The book is written in terms of children and childhood development, but I believe these lessons are just as applicable to adult coaching and mentoring.

With all the global issues were are facing today, it is more important then ever that we nurture creativity and innovation in ourselves and in others. To do this we need to cultivate awareness of our current relationship with failure, and then make a conscious decision to shift our mindset to embrace the option of failure, and not fear.

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A Portrait of Visual Collaboration

This is graphic visual aid that I co-created with Forest Stearns. It was used for a case study presentation in my Supply Chain & Green IT Operations class at Antioch University New England. It is the first of many collaboration ideas to come.

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