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Monday, January 13, 2014

The No-BS Diet! No gym, no diet fads, just good tips for a healthy lifestyle...and reduce your carbon footprint too!

Many people have been posting about the latest diet fads, whether it be paleo, the Atkins diet, biggest loser diet, or one of the others that many grab on to for a temporary moment in time. However, as many of these diets tend to come in and out of fashion, so does their ability to be sustainable to anyone's actual lifestyle. These diets cannot be sustained for long periods of time, and although they might seem attractive, you cannot actually live on them alone for long periods of time. So, in response, I decided to post the tips that have actually worked for me. I decided to post these tips, not to make anyone feel bad, but in light of the fact that technology has made life a little too convenient for people, I found that these simple tips have done more for my health and well-being than any of the fad diets I have tried. The best thing about these tips? If you want to keep your diet, you can! These tips are simple, fun and although they may seem like common sense, they are good reminders for anyone. Enjoy!

1. Get rid of your car. Seriously. Not only will you save money, you will lose that weight and anxiety you get from driving a car everywhere. People make many excuses for why they need a car, but most of the time, it is out of convenience, not out of necessity. I lost a solid 5 pounds when I got rid of my car because I was forced not to be lazy. I would walk and ride my bike everywhere, and take public transit which still required me to walk to and from each locale. When I did get lazy, I took cabs and/or ride shares, but I usually was able to guilt trip myself into doing the more active thing. My body has thanked me for this and so has my back. You would not believe what consistent moving will do for a body and your overall well-being. My anxiety and stress levels have gone way down since I gave up my car, which also helped me burn stubborn calories. Stress fat doesn’t exist you say? Look it up, it does!

2. Cook instead of eating out. Or, at least cook 5 days a week. But, cooking is hard, you say. Tough shit, I swear it will become fun with practice. But, cooking takes time. No duh, good things take time! Restaurants, fast food places and cafes do not cater to health, they cater to taste. Therefore, I can pretty much guarantee you are getting twice as many calories in a meal than if you made it yourself. Fat is not your enemy, it is your friend if you are the one that controls what goes into your food. I was forced to learn to cook at a young age when my mom was unimpressed with me becoming a vegetarian and told me she wouldn’t cook vegetarian for me. I was so stubborn, I vowed to cook all my meals, and eventually I grew to love cooking. You do have to become a savvy consumer and you can find healthy versions of things you love with a bit of research and trial and error. You also have to learn how much you consume and buy produce and perishables in quantities that won’t go bad before you eat them. All the other stuff, usually keeps for a while, so you can save money when you buy in bulk. In addition, if you are worried that you don’t know how to cook a healthy meal, just follow this one rule...lots o’ colors! If your meal only has one color, you need to add some other colors in there to make it healthier. And no, you cannot just dye your food rainbow colors and think that counts, only your eyes will be fooled. I like a meal to have a lot of green, a bit of beige/brown (for rice/pasta) and orange or yellow. You will start to get super creative trying to incorporate crazy colors into your foods like red quinoa or blue potatoes. If you can’t make the food taste good right away, at least it will look good. Then eventually, with time, recipes and practice, your food will taste as good as it looks, and you will to ;-).

3. Fix things yourself and make stuff by learning a trade. Carpentry, plumbing, mechanics or small repairs will require you to DO something, as opposed to sitting there and having someone do it for you. You probably won’t be a pro at fixing things yourself which will require you to sweat and toil a bit, which is great for burning calories. In addition, the sweet satisfaction you will get from fixing something yourself will release a ton of dopamine and you can gloat to all your friends, and look hot while you do it.

Wait, that’s it? What’s the catch? The only catch is that this requires effort, motivation and will only work if you change yourself and your lifestyle. There are no shortcuts and changing your convenient habits is not always fun at first. But, it does get fun. I have so many funny/interesting/frustrating/ fun stories from these three tips I followed and my life is richer for it.

As Biggie would say, "if you don't you know!"

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cleanse and Be Merry! A Memoir by Yours Truly

About once a year, I start to feel the intensity of life pile on and my body takes the brunt of it. It’s my own fault and I take full responsibility. I work and play hard and eventually my body says, “hey there, you need to take better care of me so we can continue to adventure together.”

So, once a year I listen.  The reason I like this cleanse  because it’s flexible and the foundation is based  on The Miracle Gallbladder and Liver Cleanse. I recommend reading the book and taking it with a grain of salt. You don’t have to follow it verbatim and you cut out certain parts that you don't think will work for you. You can get it cheap as an e-book, or even borrow it for free from the library. It’s a quick and easy read.

Disclaimer: I am not a health practitioner  and what I say is based on my own personal research and experiences. This is my 4th cleanse. I grew up in a hippy haven, so I have been exposed to many alternative health movements throughout my life and experimented with many types of cleanses and fad diets (the master cleanse and the rose cleanse are some of the examples). I worked as an apprentice for a chiropractor and holistic medicine practitioner in high school and became very interested in nutrition and food as remedies and preventive healthcare from a young age. I took several nutrition classes (and health workshops) in University. I am an avid backpacker, so food as fuel is always incorporated into my daily routine. 

What I am about to divulge has worked wonders on my friends who recommended it to me, and I can say the same for myself. However, I am also aware that this particular cleanse might not have the same effect for every body.

My motto is, "if it’s broke, look at ALL possible solutions to fix it…and do what works best for you."

This is a summary of my experience. This is a very personal account and if you have health-related questions or concerns you should probably consult a couple doctors, a nurse,  an acupuncturist, a shaman and yourself before considering this.

Once a year, I try to restrict my diet so I can give my body a gift of eating well and only taking care of myself for one-week. I know I should do this for way more time, but this dedicated time helps me realize that and partially continue aspects of the cleanse into my everyday routine.

As Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “The second half of a man's life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.”

The word “cleanse” is not entirely true for the whole process. In actuality, the first 6 or 7 days are preparation for the cleanse, and on the night of the 6th or 7th day you actually do the cleanse.

My process:     
  • An 8-day vegan, gluten-free, room temperature diet. (what does room temp diet mean? Nothing was chilled, everything consumed, including drinks, were at room temp. or higher, apparently this is better for digestion).  
  • Drink at least one liter (38 oz) of unfiltered apple juice a day. This seems like a lot, but over the course of a day it’s not that bad.
  • Drink a lot of water!!!! (I added a tablespoon of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar to all my water, because it’s known as a good health tonic)
  • As a survivor of the MasterCleanse, I missed the “spicy lemonade” so I drank at least one liter of that for the first 5 days. It consists of: 
    • 1 cup fresh-pressed lemon juice, a hardy dash of cayenne and a teaspoon of "Grade B" real maple syrup) 

I also limited my caffeine intake to one-cup of green tea a day. This was not as hard as I thought it would be and since the cleanse I have had much more energy.

I started the cleanse on a Saturday and finished it the following Sunday. I wanted to be at home for the actual cleanse and I’ll explain why in just a moment.

An 8-day gluten-free vegan room temp diet seems like it would be impossible, but if you like to cook, it’s really not. If you don’t like to cook, learn! You are what you eat and cooking is a valuable life-tool to have. I can teach you, it's fun! 

On the 7th day is when I actually did the cleanse, which was a Saturday. They recommend you do not eat past 2pm. That was pretty hard for me, so I stopped eating at 5pm, and was cranky for the rest of the evening, so I stayed at home so no one else had to deal with me. you should do the actual cleanse on a weekend, or when you can be home all day, as you may experience slight "discomfort." 


On that Saturday, drink apple juice in the morning, eat something light like oatmeal and/or fruit and only drink water (with a bit of apple cider vinegar) after 2 PM.  

6:00 PM   Prepare a jar of 32 oz. of water  (or 4 8 oz jars) mixed with 4 TBLS of Epsom salt (yuck, but necessary).  Drink 8 oz. of the jar at 6.  You can make these ahead of time and put them in fridge which takes the bitterness away. I also added a bit of lemon juice to mine because I hate the taste of Epsom salts.

8:00   Drink 8 more ounces of the salt water with a tinge of lemon juice.

9:30   The author suggests an enema or colonic at this point.  I did not dare do that, but might try it in the future. I just meditated and did some light yoga instead.

9:45   Squeeze enough grapefruits to make one cup of juice and mix thoroughly with the 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  They also suggest add a capsule of Black Walnut hulls, which I did because I figured it can’t get much grosser, so why not go all in. 

10:00   Drink the olive/juice mixture as quickly as possible and lay down. Lie perfectly still for at least 20 minutes and the author says to mediate and focus on encouraging your body to cleanse itself of toxins.  I tried to do that, but frankly I got bored, so I watched an informative documentary to nourish my mind while I cleansed my body.


6:00 AM the next morning, drink 8 oz of salt water.  I set an alarm to make sure I did this. I stayed in an upright position helps push the toxins out by means of gravity.

I went the bathroom SEVERAL TIMES. This is what is supposed to happen between 6:00AM and 10:00AM and is the essence of the cleanse. 

I hate discussing bowel movements but it can best be described as passing water and small toxin-like stones through your rectum. It was very uncomfortable the first time I did this, but mostly because I was not used to my rectum passing water and stones through it. 

8:00-8:30 Drink the last 8 oz of salt water. After this, just relax and start the day off anew! 

10-10:30 I started with freshly pressed carrot-ginger juice, then fruit and added more foods throughout the day I kept the diet light as the stomach and system are sensitive. 

Update: It's been 4 days since the cleanse and I've only incorporated dairy and wheat back into my diet. Don't deny your stomach what it wants but be careful of going back to heavy animal fasts and dairy-packed goods, it might give you a tummy ache, and that is no fun.

I wasn’t able to follow the schedule that strictly, but the most important thing is to allow two hours between drinks so that your body will prepare.  There is a very small window of discomfort from the night before and the morning after.

So, cleanse and be merry if you dare, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask away. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

26 Lessons

St. Patricks Day was my half birthday so that, paired with the fact that my passport is about to expire prompted me to make this list. Let me preface this by saying the only true thing I know is that the longer I’m here on this crazy Earth, the more I realize I have so much to learn. This curiosity drives my passion to discover life on many different wavelengths and hopefully weave a net of experiences that can inspire others to be innovators. I learned these lessons through experience, observation and the valued opinions of others who I have met along my journey thus far. Please enjoy and share liberally.

  1. Every single person you encounter can teach you a lesson.There was a point in my life when I thought that I thought some relationships were a waste of my time. However, I soon realized those encounters did teach me valuable lessons in my life. I have now changed my perspective and I honestly believe that every person I meet is here to teach me something. This new perspective makes life much more enjoyable and less burdensome. Your life is a story and everyone you cross paths with only adds more depth to your tale.

  1. If you wouldn’t let a child do it, don’t do it yourself.
    I use this one to gage how I should conduct myself in the real-world. When I was teaching children, I used to say all these inspiring things to them about how to act and then I found myself doing the opposite once I left the classroom and dealt with adults, especially in business. So, when I think of doing something sneaky in business I always ask myself, “
    Would I let one of my students get away with this?” If the answer is no, then I reconsider my actions and try to find a more ethical solution.

  1. Show, not tell.
    Be the change you want to see in the world and lead by example. Being the example you set for others is very important. When you can live up to your words it is inspiring for others and makes non-believers think the impossible is possible. I have many friends in my life who say what they mean and act on it. It’s one of most attractive qualities a person can have, but it can also be a struggle, but it will be worth it. Be patient with yourself and try to work on it.

  1. Kids and drunk people are oddly similar, treat each accordingly.
    I learned this in university while I was tutoring kids during the day and bartending at night. Don’t treat children like they are stupid, they are smarter than you think and will resent you for it later. However, don’t treat drunk people like rational humans in their moment of lushness. We all have our moments of utter stupidity, and that’s why we have kind-hearted sober people in our lives to make sure we get back on the right track.  

  1. You are beautiful, already.
    This one is primarily for the ladies, but men take note too. I was thankful to learn this lesson while I was 16. I battled with image and body issues as a teen, and then one summer I went to volunteer in Ghana. While I was there, people complimented me on my curves, freckles and all the other things I thought were odd about me. I realized that everyone is always going to find themselves awkward, but work with what you got, because it’s the only body you have. I find women absolutely breathtaking in so many ways. Their complex nature weaves them into a fabric of beautiful imperfections. The real beauty is owning those imperfections and knowing within yourself you are beautiful. Looks come and go, but compassion for yourself lingers for a lifetime.

  1. Even if you speak the same language, people communicate differently. I thought by learning other languages, I would be able to understand people better, but I soon realized that there is much more to communication than the words we employ. If you are not reaching someone, try to change the way you say it. If you still feel like you are not reaching the other person, respect the disagreement and disengage. It’s great to be passionate, but (s)he who shouts the loudest usually ends up looking the most stupid...and gets a sore throat, which is no fun. My goal in any conversation with someone is not to win the discussion but to better understand where they are coming from and from that point I can try to create a more sustainable solution.

  1. The force of nature is unchangeable; everything else is hackable.
    I learned this lesson from
    David Suzuki. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Suzuki during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and he forever changed my views of how to combat climate change. When we first met, I admitted to him that I had little faith in environmental economics because people were stubborn and won’t change. He looked at me very sternly and said, “The only force that is unchangeable and utterly stubborn is nature...any other man-made force or system can be changed.” Even though those were not the most encouraging words, that outlook gave me a more optimistic view of how we can approach environmentalism going forward. People don’t like change, but it’s the only thing we can guarantee in life so, we better adapt before nature catches up to us and it is too late.

  1. Community is faith in public garb. People talk about the importance of networks, but I believe in the importance of community. Growing up in Marin, the idea community was not solely confined to the family or home. Home is always where the heart is when you are able to build communities around where you are located and what you are passionate about. Building and maintaining community is not always easy, but thankfully social media has made it easier and I have taken advantage of this tech tool.

  1. Kill them with kindness.
    I hate to say it, but being kind to others is not as common as I thought. People are products of the society that raised them, so if they were not raised in a loving environment, they won’t be able to be kind or  it won’t come naturally to them. If someone is rude or mean, have compassion for their struggle and be kind to them. Some cynics might think you are being fake, ridiculous or high, but if you are consistently kind to them, they get used to that feeling and kindness is very contagious and you will be remembered for it. As Kurt Vonnegut said,
    Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”

  1. Ask for what you want and don’t be afraid of  the big, bad NO.
    I’m not sure if this comes from Irish Catholic upbringing but I have always been afraid to ask for exactly what I want. I thought that I could get by in life by having others guess what I want. Well, that doesn’t work at all and only disservices myself. I found a huge weight lifted when I gained the courage to ask for what I want. In the end, there is really no risk involved when I ask for what I want. If I get it, great! If I don’t then I’m basically in the same position I was before I asked.

  1. When things are good, prepare for the worst.
    Oh, Canada, thank you for teaching me this lesson. Spending my formative years living in the Great White North taught me many valuable lessons, but especially this one. You could interpret this lesson liberally across different aspects of your life, however, it serves a multi-faceted purpose. When you are doing well, feeling secure and getting things done, that is the perfect opportunity to prepare for times when things don’t go your way. When you do this, the unexpected isn’t so scary and the unexpected things in life become much more manageable.

  1. Make marvelous mistakes, but learn from them.
    As Dostoevsky said, "
    The second half of a man's life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half." So, do the things that scare you, take risks, but be mindful of your actions, especially if they have a malicious effect on others. If you mess up, that is ok, but make sure to show yourself and others that you won’t do it again. If you end up making the same mistakes over and over, you should reexamine whether you still define them as mistakes. If you do, then you should really try to change your behavior; own your mistakes don’t let them own you.

  1. Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.
    I learned this one the hard way, because I used to abide by, “
    Do unto others what you want done unto you,” and unfortunately, that is not always how it works out with others. Don’t lose faith, but understand that people will hurt you from time to time so you can minimize the suffering by not setting any expectations. By doing that, you will be more surprised by people than disappointed.

  1. Good food solves all problems.
    I am convinced that most of the world’s problems could be solved by having one big global potluck. In all seriousness though I have been amazed by the power food has on problem-solving. Food brings different cultures together by sharing the one thing we all have in common, the need for sustenance. I love talking about food, making food, and especially sharing it with others. I feel that it builds community among the different business, personal and familiar circles I’m involved in. Furthermore, let’s face it, people are more likely to shut up and pay attention to you if you can give them something delicious.  I love that what I cook has a direct impact on the people around I always try to make meals healthy whenever I can.

  1. Being poor is better than being in debt. My good friend and former roommate Alicia told me this one. She convinced me that paying off my students loans instead of doing anything else would give me so much more freedom in my life. Although this lesson seems obvious, I was shocked by how many young people don’t abide by this. I didn’t want to be in debt to anyone so I worked really hard after university to pay off all my student debt, and I am so glad I did. I might not have a lot capital on hand, but not being in debt to anyone but myself has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I now have the freedom to find other opportunities to invest in myself and the things I am passionate about without financial obstacles holding me back.

  1. Pay yourself first.
    Honestly, financial advice is far and few between but I got this one from
    The Motley Fool, a great financial blog. This lesson is simple, for whatever dollar you make, put a portion of it in a savings account. You might not always be able to put the same amount away each week or month, but putting some amount aside consistently will only help you over time. I call this savings my “plan B” so that when there are those WTF moments we all experience at least once in life, I have something that will help cushion the fall. Once I recover I start paying myself again, and it always feels good to get paid.

  1. Nothing is as simple as we hope it to be, and there is beauty in that.
    I appreciate this lesson each time I travel, regardless of where I go. It is fine to be steadfast in your convictions, but most of the time things are not black and white. Experiencing other cultures opened my mind to the notion that there are many ways to go about processes, problems and reaching solutions. When I push myself to think outside my preconceived notions, I end up learning so much more about the world around me. Just like in nature, there is beauty in the intricacies we find all around us.

  1. Good things come to those who wait...but work really hard while you wait.
    I am an impatient product of an the over accommodating tech culture I live in. Due to my taste for instant gratification I used to try and build everything to scale immediately with little concern for execution.I have learned the hard way through many marvelous mistakes that starting something impulsively will only create an unstable foundation. As my father would say,
    “you can’t build on top of a shaky foundation, you have to start over and do it the right way. Even if it takes you more time, it will hold better and last longer.” So, now I have envisioned some big goals I want to achieve but I realize that these goals will not be accomplished in one day. However, this does not mean I will sit back and wait for things to materialize. I know I have to work as hard as I can each day to make my goal and reality align. So be patient, but keep working until there is a sign to move on to the next phase of your ultimate goal.

  1. Be grateful and life will be grand.  From observing different cultures I have noticed that the more privilege one has, gratitude tends to diminish. I was once victim of the “grass is always greener on the other side” syndrome, until I realized that you don’t really appreciate what you have until it is gone. I find people who constantly compare themselves to their peers and are never happy and usually anxious. Anytime I start to think like that I around me and take a deep breath. I look at my hands, I feel my feet and then jump for joy because they all work accordingly. Then, I go to my sink and turn on the water. When I drink from it I am reminded that I am so lucky to be on this Earth. I have also learned to avoid unnecessary risk because of this. Instead of constantly wanting what I don’t have, I just try to focus on how to make what I do have better.

  1. Confidence and humility are your best friends.
    Confidence is attractive and intriguing, when I play my cards right. When I am able let go and be exactly who I am, I feel free and creative. I try to give myself credit when it’s deserved but I also don’t see the need to shout it at the top of my lungs; that is what friends and fans are for. The balance of being confident and humble is hard to put into practice so I try to work on it every day. Thankfully, I have good friends that know my intentions are good and help guide me to find a better balance.

  1. Do what you love and others will follow.
    I love helping people. I learned this from a young age but my teachers told me that was more of a hobby than a career path. Well, I decided not to take that advice and follow my heart. Doing what I love shows in my work and others are attracted to it. Since I cannot create without being passionate about it, I have turned down many opportunities because they did not align with my beliefs. Many might think I was stupid for turning down these opportunities, especially when times were tough, but in the end the right thing will come your way and you will be thankful that you waited for it.

  1. You are never too old to try something new.
    I used to think that since I am of a certain age, I shouldn’t take on a new hobby or try to learn something new like, example, a language. Well, I was totally wrong! Adults tend to believe that if there is little benefit in learning something new if they are not able to excel in it immediately. I have witnessed that children don’t view it this way. They are open to trying new things and then they create based on how much or how little they take away from the experience. This practice will only add more depth to what you are already doing. You might not be at the same level as your younger counterparts, but who cares, at least you have the opportunity to learn something new. As Mark Twain said,
    “age is an issue of mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” It is never too early or late to learn something new, it will only add more depth to your legend.

  1. Education is the most powerful tool you can have, don’t take advantage of it.I have traveled to many different countries and found that education is tool that takes people places they could have never gotten to on their own. I am a believer that everyone who has the privilege to continue their education should go for it, but I don’t mean that in a purely institutional way. What I really mean is that when are in an academic or learning setting, take advantage of it, because whatever you take away you can use as tools you to help you navigate life better. Plus, loving learning  early on will help you create healthy learning/study habits which will allow you take the most out of the education you have. I always say that life is my classroom, and wherever I am, I’m ready to learn and share my findings with others so they in turn can pay it forward. We as a society are as strong as our weakest link, and the only way we can strengthen that link is by using the tools of education.

  1. Today is awesome, make sure to be present for it.
    I am very much a future-oriented person so I have to teach myself to be present almost everyday. I used to have a fear of missing out, but if I remain focused in the present, then I will never have that problem again. When I have my future-minded moments of struggle, I say this quote to myself to help keep me in the moment,
    "If you're depressed, you're living in the past. If you're anxious, you're living in the future. If you're at peace, you're living in the present." -Lao Tzu

  1. Don’t be offended if someone doesn’t take your advice.
    My sister taught me this one. When others don’t take your advice it is not because they don’t respect your opinion. Sometimes, people just need to learn the lesson, in time, on their own. I used to hassle my sister with all these tips about how to live life and I kept getting annoyed when she didn’t take my advice, thinking that I knew best. One day, she calmly looked at me and said, “
    I want to take your advice but sometimes I need to go out and experience this for myself.” Well, that not only shut me up, but it has helped me to understand that when others make decisions that go against your advice it is not because they don’t respect you. If it truly is good advice, eventually it will be followed, no need to push it.

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
    I am very passionate about what I do, but I try to not be too serious, life is too short. Be silly, laugh at yourself every once in awhile.I try to keep things light in order to make others feel comfortable. If you do something stupid or get embarrassed, that’s OK but don’t relish in it too much. I take myself seriously when I’m conducting myself in the real-world but when I mess up or fall down, I laugh it off and get back up again. Sometimes those laughs are actually tears, but my ability to get over it allows me to heal faster and get back to what really matters.

I can't wait to come back to this list in a year and see what has changed or where I am. Here's to the innovators, go create and be merry!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

To the Board of Trustees at the Tam School District, regarding the closure of the TEAM program

Dear Tamalpais Union High School District Board of Trustees,

What if the next Steve Jobs came from Marin? Where would he go to school? If he went to a regular high school all four years, would he succeed academically? From reading his autobiography, the answer would be, no. Thankfully in Marin, we “think differently” in terms of offering unique educational resources like the TEAM program to the next generation of innovators. The closure of TEAM would hold back future leaders and entrepreneurs from gaining the valuable skills they need to create sustainable change in the world.

Personally, I was not fortunate to to grow up with incredible wealth, however, I used the intellectual wealth Marin provided to take advantage of unique educational programs like TEAM. As 2003 graduate, TEAM played a formative role in both my professional and personal development. No matter what social, economic, or even physical obstacles stood in my way during high school and beyond, TEAM gave me the tools I needed to succeed both in and outside of the classroom.

I am grateful for everything that TEAM gave me. During a time of insecurity and awkward self-realization, TEAM  created an interdisciplinary curriculum to challenge me mentally, emotionally, physically and professionally. This is something that a traditional classroom simple cannot do for the majority of its students. From their innovative approach to education to the teachers commitment to innovative education, TEAM gave me the confidence I needed to succeed in the classroom. From leading rope course challenges to back-packing through the California wilderness with fellow “Teamies,” I gained professional development that later put me ahead of my peers when I entered the professional world.

After years of living abroad and talking to people from all over the world, I realized how fortunate I was to have TEAM. No other experience during high school generated the same lasting results my year at TEAM did. I always make sure to include TEAM on my resume, which teacher Chuck Ford helped me create and I still use today, and it made me stand out both to academics and working professionals.

My memories of TEAM and the harsh reality that are not enough of these kinds of programs out there has has motivated me to be an advocate of educational reform. TEAM helped me realize my life passion to develop contextual educational curricula that close the achievement gap in rural and impoverished areas in developing countries.

To shut down the TEAM program now would not only be a mistake, but it would damage the next generation of innovators. To those who think differently, TEAM provides a safe environment for students to harness and strengthen their creativity and apply it in the real world. In order to make TEAM scalable it should be expanded and replicated within the district, not dismantled. To end the program would mean closing the door on the next generation of bright minds. So ask yourself this, if the next Steve Jobs is out there right now, which program would best prepare this future leader to contribute individually and collaboratively in order to address the challenges of a dynamic and diverse world?

As a former student of Tamalpais High School, TEAM and Tamiscal, I would say with confidence, TEAM.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Danielle (aka Dani) Bicknell
TEAM, class of 2003

Monday, January 23, 2012

If you don't you know. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) are tabled for now in Congress but they are far from gone. My girlfriend Sarah Austin and I took to the streets to get the message across in order to protect the future of our freedom of information.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I wish I wasn't part of the 99%

Have you ever woken up and felt the agony of debt dig so deep into your stomach you could hardly breathe?
Have you ever hesitated to tell a child that they can be whoever they want to be because you were afraid they might not be able to afford school in order to achieve that dream?
Have you ever cried with a parent or loved one because they were denied health insurance to get the care they desperately needed?
Have you ever helped somebody move out because they were tricked by a bank to get a sub-prime mortgage on a home would never be able to pay back?
Have you ever sold a couple things on craigslist to help your sibling pay their student loans so the interest rates wouldn't rise and they wouldn't be further indebted?

If you haven't, praise your lucky stars because you are the exception.

Everyday I wish I was NOT part of the 99%. I hear family members filing for bankruptcy because they were determined to put their kids through college, being put in debt for having a common diseases that could easily be prevented with affordable access to health care. And not being able to pay their student loans which prevent them from moving up on the economic ladder.

Everyday I wish I didn't care so much about my fellow citizens. I wish I wasn't saddened everytime I heard a class size of 55 or more, or another person dying from a preventable disease because the "death panels" of insurance companies were denying another person proper care.

Everyday I wish I could tell the brave U.S soldiers that they fought for democracy and not to secure future oil reserves in Southern Iraq.

I wish I could just trust that my banks were doing their absolute best to make sure, me, THE CUSTOMER, was getting the best financial advice and services they could provide.

I wish I could just desensitize myself from all the pain and suffering I see around me...but I can't.
And that is why I am part of the 99%

I can't ignore that there are millions good, hardworking Americans who are living in third world conditions just to get by. And that is why I am part of the 99%.

I can't ignore that a former Vietnam vet, now homeless man in Oakland, told me that he was put in jail after "acting up" because he was not given the care he needed for his post-traumatic stress syndrome. And I will never forget when he told me that he said the food he got was way better in jail than it ever was in the army. And that is why I am part of the 99%

I can't ignore ignore the pain and suffering that is happening all around me and since I don't have billions of dollars to draw attention to my cause, I stand in solidarity with those know we deserve better than this.

I may not have faith in the government but I have faith in the American people. We are good people and before you judge the protesters look at those who are suffering most and ask yourself, who is fighting for them?

The banks say we need them but we need our families and our communities more. And, most importantly, we need them to be safe.

I wish I was not part of the 99% but until I can tell my baby cousin with confidence that things will get better, I have no choice.

I am one person and I represent the 99% of Americans who were forgotten and demand acknowledgement.

Monday, October 10, 2011

We need to be reminded of this everyday (El Mejor Discurso Jamás Hecho)

                            I have been at a loss for words recently. It has probably shown in my absence but I haven't felt too inspired these days. I apologize for the inconvenience but I feel like I have too many frustrations and I need to reflect before I speak. I saw this and it helped me put things in perspective during this chaotic and transitional time. Enjoy and may it inspire.....