Category Archives: Uncategorized

When the World is Heavy

The world seems so heavy right now. Hurricane Harvey is devastating the lives of many Americans, politics are in shambles right now and North Korea. Someone close to me is recovering from a mastectomy, another has Alzheimer’s and sometimes it just all seems like too much. It is an easy place to find despair and cynicism—and even more important that we don’t. In these moments, what joys we can find , no matter their size or significance can be our strength. Have a listen…

In these moments where the world seems in chaos, we must hold tight to our humanity. We all share the human condition. We all experience, sadness, fear, happiness and joy. Continue reading

Talk about Charleston

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, where nine people were murdered on June 18, 2015. Photo courtesy of Google.

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, where nine people were murdered during a bible study on June 18, 2015. Photo courtesy of Google.

When it comes to what happened to in Charleston this week, I have — without a doubt — buried my head in the sand. I’m done with that now.

One more shooting and one more round of heart-breaking sadness, discussions about why it happened and what we can and cannot do. It is too much to bear. It is hard to hear when you know that eventually the sadness will be replaced by politics, people will stop talking, and we will wait for it to happen again. I’ve been through this before. Continue reading

Give More, Get More

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A stained-glass lesson with my buddy, Irv Rich. He’s helping me fix the solder on a piece I made for my Mom for Mother’s Day. Photo by Jackie Hobbins.

A few months ago, I sat next to Mr. Irving Rich at church. In his late-80’s, he was sitting by himself in the back row at church. I introduced myself and Irv and I have been buddies ever since. He is the kind of guy who you know he enjoys your company, but is cheeky enough to always be giving you a hard time. Shortly after we met, he asked me how old my boys were and said he had a night-light that he’d made out of stained glass and that he wanted to give them. He brought in the next week in a brown paper bag; he sort of threw it unceremoniously at me, saying, “This is for you.” It is a beautiful little rocking horse, and we use it every night in the boy’s room. When I mentioned to Irv that I’ve always wanted to learn how to make stained glass, he said he would be happy to teach me. I jumped at the opportunity. Continue reading

Ugly Food is Delicious

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Ugly Vegetables. Photo Courtesy of Vox.com.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 27% of the food produced in the United States is thrown away. That is 263 million pounds of food, thrown in the bin, every single day. This is unfortunate considering that 14% of Americans struggle to put enough food on the table not to mention that the natural resources used to produce the food are limited.

This is not only a moral issue, but an expensive one. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 12% of all solid waste generated in American households is food. Continue reading

Philanthropy Gets Real Personal

Arunachalam Muruganantham, one of Time Magazine's 2014 100 most influential people. Photo courtesy of elapse.com.

Inventor of a machine that produces low-cost sanitary napkins, Arunachalam Muruganantham. Photo courtesy of elpais.com.

Arunachalam Muruganantham was born into poverty in rural India, the son of a hand-weaver. His father died in a road accident, so Arunachalam dropped out of school to support his family, at age 14. Yet, in 2014, he was on Time Magazine’s list of the year’s 100 Most Influential People,  having invented a machine to produce low-cost sanitary napkins. Continue reading

Big Problems. Tiny Solutions.

house1n-3-web

Elvis Summers handing Smokie the keys to her new pad. Photo courtesy of Starting Human via Youtube.

Meet Elvis Summers. Elvis has a blue mohawk, lives in L.A. and found himself frequently running into a 60-year-old homeless woman named Irene McGhee–“Smokie” to her friends. Smokie would sleep in the dirt near his apartment complex and was always asking him for recyclables. Their brief but frequent interactions led eventually to friendship. Continue reading

Bring Back Bragging

Australian aviators Nancy Bird and Jack Kingsford-Smith standing next to a de Havilland. Photo courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

Australian aviators Nancy Bird and Jack Kingsford-Smith standing next to a de Havilland. Photo courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

I am married to a Brit and we lived in Australia for almost four years. I’ll tell you one thing Brits and Australians really suck at is bragging. Americans on the other hand, are not too shabby at it. This cultural difference took me years to discover, because something that does not occur is a lot harder to spot then something that does. Continue reading

A Purple Door to the Community

Madison Chandler and Mark Smesrud, co-directors of Purple Door Coffee. Photo courtesy of Purple Door Coffee.

Madison Chandler and Mark Smesrud, co-directors of Purple Door Coffee. Photo from Purple Door Coffee.

Today I met Madison Chandler. She is co-director, with Mark Smesrud, of Purple Door Coffee a specialty coffee shop in the heart of Denver. This classy little place serves a fantastic cup of spicy chai and a mean cup of joe. However, their greatest achievement is not the tea or the coffee but their mission to employ and job train people coming out of homelessness. They do this by offering one-year contracts to homeless young adults. During their year of employment, they not only get a paying job, but life-skills training, life coaching and a warm group of friends in their co-workers that many end up calling family.

The idea began back in 2007 as a dream. Continue reading

Good Deeds Day!

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San Jose, Cost Rica – Kids perform in a flash mob in Plaza de la Cultura, photo courtesy of Good Deeds Day.

On March 24th of this year, nearly a million people participated in Good Deeds Day. Volunteers celebrated the day by simply doing a good deed; these varied from feeding the homeless to cleaning up local parks, visiting children at orphanages or building gardens—there were even flash mobs! This international day was the brainchild of one woman, Shari Arison, from Israel. As a businesswoman and philanthropist, Shari believes that small good deeds make a difference. She started the day in 2007 and already it has grown to include people from 50 countries.

As Shari puts it: Continue reading

Intend a Little Joy

flowersA few weeks ago at the shops, a woman approached me with a white rose. She said, “Would you like a flower? ” I gave her a look that I’m sure she had seen before, a ‘this is cool but why are you doing this?’ sort of look. She smiled and said, “I’m just trying to make the world a brighter place.” I brought the rose home, where it lived for about two weeks in a vase of water on my desk. It was such a beautiful bloom that my friend Marty thought it was fake. I shared the story with everyone who saw it. That woman did indeed make the world a little bit brighter.

Last week, I was at the grocery store with Tommy and we wheeled our cart by stand full of roses. He said, “Mommy, can we get some flowers?” Continue reading

Can Money Make you Happy?

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Money is generally seen as a positive thing: more money equals more opportunities, equals more happiness… right? You would certainly think so by the way people work—often sacrificing time with loved ones and hobbies of their own just to get a little more green. Our relationship to money turns out to be a little more complicated then the standard notion, More Money = A Better Life. Continue reading

Love Has No Labels


This video is about love for sure, but it is also about implicit bias—the subconcious biases we all have that affect the way we interact with others. It is part of a campaign by the Ad Council called Love Has No Boundaries to help folks recognize their own biases. With all the conflict in the world that is based in religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and race, this seems like a particularly poignant message at the moment.

If you are up for digging in a little more, the site has some quizzes that can help you recognize your own biases and some stories that show how implicit bias has had an affect on others. Remember, first and foremost,

Before anything else, we are all human.—Love Has No Labels Campaign

Patina

photo by Tommy Hobbins

photo by Tommy Hobbins, age 4.

It is late in the afternoon and I am folding laundry while my 4-year-old is digging through my jewelry box. Normally the box is off limits, but today has been a slow, sluggish day and my parenting gusto has followed suit. It is snowing outside, I’m coming down with something and I’m counting down the minutes until Dad gets home.

The little guy comes over to me with a silver ring with a large rectangular bright-blue turquoise stone on the band. It is a ring my Dad bought me for my birthday from a shop called Denny’s Wigwam in Kanab, Utah, where he used to live.  “Mom, do you want to wear this? It is beautiful.” Continue reading

Initiative Pays Off

You may think it takes an extraordinary person to see a problem and create a solution where none exits. But actually, it just takes initiative in someone that finds themselves faced with a problem. The three folks below found themselves with a problem on their hands and took it upon themselves to solve it, and each is being rewarded for their efforts. In doing so, they prove that the news isn’t all bad (in case you were still having doubts).

Shubham Banerjee, a 13 year old that built a low-cost Braille printer out of toy parts.

Shubham Banerjee, a 13-year-old who built a low-cost Braille printer out of toy parts. Photo by Marcio Jose Sanches, AP.

One day, Shubham Bnaerjee, of Santa Clara, CA, asked his parents, “How do blind people read?” They told him to “Google it.” He did, and on reading further about Braille printers, he was shocked to find out that they cost around $2,000-$3,000. As he puts it, “I decided to hack it.” Continue reading

Pep Talk

kid president

Kid President, Bobby Novak.

Have you ever heard of the Kid President? Also known as Robby Novak, Kid President has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a brittle bone condition that leads to a whole lot of casts. Despite his condition, he is quite the dancer and has an amazing attitude about life.

Kid President videos are produced by his Uncle-in-Law. They work together because they believe that kids voices are worth listening to and that people can change the world. I concur. It wouldn’t hurt me to listen to a little Robby Novack pep talk each morning. And now… for your morning pep talk: