Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Living My Five - Tera Saves a Cow

Like Alyson, I've been finding it hard to find time to dedicate to my Five during the busy holiday season. Between trying to finish up my book, going out of town for the holidays, dealing with a record snowstorm, and redesigning my website, it seems like all my time is full.

So, I decided to get creative. I integrated one of my Five into regular daily life, into an automatic routine. My family is full of meat lovers. Steak, burgers, hot dogs, pork chops, roasted chicken... you name it and we eat it. But meat is heavy on the environment, the raising and feeding and packaging and transporting and on and on. (It's also not the healthiest diet, but that's another issue.)

In order to reduce our meat consumption I've instigated vegetarian day in the Childs household. Once a week we forgo meat of any kind for an entire day. It's turning out great. For our first dinner I made an amazing vegetarian chili that even my chili-loving dad loved. (Find the recipe on

It's easy, healthy, cheap, and, oh yeah, lighter on the environment.

How about you? Do you have any easy ways to work your Five into everyday life? Because if you do, I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Living My Five - Becca

Hi, Fivers!

Sorry this is late! We've had an even busier Christmas season than I anticipated :)

That said, I've also had a very active and service-oriented Christmas season - all part of striving and remembering to Live my Five. Here's a brief recap of what I've been doing:

First, a woman in my neighborhood decided, this year, she wanted to teach her children the true meaning of Christmas, and invited my family to participate. This particular friend recently volunteered at the County Food Bank, and decided she wanted to help stock the kitchens. She asked the families in our neighborhood to join her on a food-drive parade. When I told my kids, they were very excited to select cans of tuna, chicken, soup and vegetables from our pantry to donate to the Food Bank. It ended up being a great way to work together as a family, and neighborhood, to think beyond ourselves and pay it forward to others in our community.

Second, this past week, the Fitzpatricks cleaned out the basement. We filled several boxes with baby and maternity clothes, Christmas decorations, coats, toys and housewares to take to Goodwill.

Finally, I had the opportunity to share a random act of kindness with a friend who was in need of a babysitter. As soon as I discovered her need, I jumped on the opportunity to volunteer before she had to ask. Service truly does rejuvenate the soul!

What about you? How have you been Living Your Five?

P.S. Here's to wishing you a happy and safe New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Living Your Five presents... Snow Angels - The Book Kind

We talk a lot on Living Your Five about gratitude and paying it forward. When I saw this blog post earlier in the month, I knew it was perfectly in line with our mission!

Josie Leavitt of The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, VT shared a wonderful program on PW's Shelftalker blog this month. The bookstore creates a snowflake tree with the age and gender of kids in the community who are in need of holiday gifts ala books. Customers come in, choose a snowflake, and the staff helps them select books (at a discount - very thoughtful!) which the store gift wraps and delivers to over 150 kids.

Isn't that a wonderful idea? I love it!

Here's the full blog post with all of the details. Cheers to Josie, Elizabeth, and the entire Flying Pig team for going above and beyond during the holidays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Living My Five- Alyson's Holiday Five!

Okay, I'm not gonna lie--the last two weeks have been tough and not at all productive. Mostly due to the fact that I had braces put on, underwent major mouth surgery, and have pretty much spent every day since lying on the couch, sleeping, reading books, watching HGTV, popping pain meds, and applying warm compresses to my face--all of which it makes it a little tough to get very active where my Five is concerned.

And yet, when I stop to think about it, being far less active also means I used far less energy than I usually do--(and not just physically!)--so score one for the environment there!

And while a mouth full of sutures pretty much precludes me from taking part in the usual holiday festivities, I still feel incredibly lucky to have had such a great year, and so, wanting to give back in some way, my husband and I have decided to forego our usual gift exchange by donating the money we would've spent to both Heifer International (an annual tradition, and one of our fave charities) and The City of Hope, who not only provides top-notch care for cancer patients, but who also saved my husband's life--so yeah, I'm incredibly grateful for them!

And really, that's what Living Your Five is all about--doing whatever you can from wherever you're at!

I wish you all a warm and wonderful holiday and all good things in the New Year!!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Living My Five - Kay's holiday tips for going green!

It's holiday time for many of us, and that means (at least for my family) holiday cards and gift wrapping time! I've always felt like these were a double-edged sword. On the one hand, sending holiday cards to let people know we care and having presents cheerfully wrapped under our Christmas tree are two of my favorite things about Christmas. On the other hand, both of these traditions are woefully wasteful of our limited resources. What's a girl to do?

This year, I made changes on both of these fronts that I'm super excited about!

Holiday cards gone green

In 2009, we started sending more and more birthday e-cards to family and friends instead of traditional cards. There are lots of e-cards that are every bit as fun as paper cards, especially the animated ones! (I'm a huge fan of Hoops and YoYo myself.) Now I'm a big fan of sending impromptu hand-written notes. And thank you cards? Hand-written is always classier. But birthday cards, it always seemed to me, were fairly generic anyway. Why not do the earth a favor and write my personal note on an e-card instead?

But the idea of sending a generic holiday card? I just couldn't do it, especially since we traditionally include a family holiday photo in our cards. Fortunately, I have a very creative husband who stumbled upon Hallmark's Smilebox software that allows you to upload your own pictures into your e-cards. He came up with a darling e-card that has half a dozen photos in it and I was thrilled! I explained when I sent them that this was part of our family commitment to going green, and the response from our family and friends has been wonderful. Mission accomplished! (Thanks, honey!)

Holiday wrapping the green way

Several years ago, I saw some fabric holiday gift bags in a craft store that I thought were a fabulous idea. The prints were gorgeous and they were reusable too! For the last five years, I have made it a goal to create my own fabric gift bags to use for our gifts for under the tree.

And every year, for the last five years, this goal has gone unfulfilled. Until now!

Introducing... my holiday bags!

I found three darling prints and, I have to tell you, they look prettier under the tree than our gifts have ever looked before. (I'm not a stellar gift wrapper, just so you know.) I used Stitch Witchery to bind the edges since I don't own a sewing machine, and it took me about 5 hours to create 15 or so bags in varying sizes. For someone who definitely did not inherit her mother's Martha Stewart gene, I couldn't be happier with the result!

So those are the two ways I'm going green this holiday season. What about you? Are any of you doing fun things to make the holidays more eco-friendly?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday FiveSpot presents... Mystery Couple Pay It Forward!

This week, my friend Adrienne emailed me a link to a news story from Philadelphia that reminded her of Living Your Five. I clicked through the link and was completely in awe of this random act of kindness that snowballed like a giant snowman of goodwill!

While eating at a local diner, a couple quietly asked to pay for their meal and the meal of another table of diners. They didn't make a big deal out of it, they didn't leave their names. They just offered a simple act of kindness.

What they didn't realize was that their single act of kindness would spur others on to continue their gesture and pay it forward themselves... for five more hours! Here's a link to the full news story with all the lovely details:

Now that's the power of paying it forward!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tera -- Living My Five

Most of my Five progress in the last two weeks has been eco-related. When my mom and I went shopping for new cleaning supplies--always a must during the guest-heavy holiday season--we chose the eco-friendly Clorox GreenWorks wipes and dish soap. It's such an easy (and affordable) way to change out chemical-laden cleaning products for ones with 95% natural plant and mineral-based biodegradable ingredients.

In addition to providing eco-friendly products, GreenWorks also works with Clothing Swap (an organization that brings fashionable swappers together to swap clothes and shop--their mission is "Be good. Be green. Be GLAM!") and one of my favorite environmental groups, the Sierra Club.

The Clorox Company, too, is working on going green. They have committed to reducing their electricity and water use, to disclose carbon data, and is a member of the EPA's Climate Leaders Program. Plus they own one of my favorite natural beauty products line, Burt's Bees.

In other green steps, after using up our aluminum foil on holiday baking we picked up recycled Reynolds Wrap, and when we packed up our treats to mail to family we used biodegradable, water-soluble packing peanuts from Staples.

All in all it's been a pretty green fortnight in the Childs household.

How about you guys? Are you going the extra distance to make your holidays and your household easier on the environment?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Becca - Living My Five

Hey, Fivers!

I feel like the past couple weeks I've been finding some great ways to live my five, despite all the (fun) chaos that surrounds the holiday season. I thought I'd share a couple quick things I've been up to.

1. Our long-time washing machine broke this past week, so I was in the market for a new machine. I decided it was a wise and earth-friendly investment to put a little extra money into buying a high-efficiency machine. It feels good to know I'm using less energy and water every time I launder my clothes!

2. Friday, December 11 was Lights Out Lunch day here in Ft. Collins, and I wholeheartedly supported it! From noon until 1p.m., individuals, businesses and local schools turned off the lights and ate lunch using natural light. What a great way to save energy! My kitchen is south-facing and welcomes quite a bit of natural light through the windows, and I've committed to eat lunch using natural light every day. If you'd like more information about Lights Out Lunch, go to their website at

3. Finally, I'm participating in Leave a Mark this week! I thought it was a great way to pay it forward and say thanks to all the teachers, librarians and people in my life who helped foster a life-long love of reading. Thank you!

What about you? Are you living your Five?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday FiveSpot presents... Three Things ala Tera

Happy Friday!

It's week three in our continuing series about the simple but important question we asked ourselves when we first got Living Your Five rolling.

If you could encourage everyone on the planet to do three specific things, what would they be?

Here's what Tera had to say:

Little things can make such a big difference. If I could encourage everyone on the planet to do three specific things to make the world a better place, they would be:

1. Replace regular bulbs with compact fluorescent, they use a fraction of the energy and last up to ten years. With the advances in fluorescent technology, you can choose from a variety of shapes, sizes, wattages, and even warm or cool light. They may be pricier up front, but they'll save you money in bulbs and electricity in the long run.

2. Turn off the water while you're brushing your teeth or scrubbing a pot. You don't need the water until you're done, and over the course of a year you'll save gallons of water. Growing up in California, water conservation was ingrained in me as a natural way of living. Once you get in the habit of shutting off water, just like you'd shut off the light when you leave the room, you won't even have to think about it to save water.

3. Take a hike, stroll through a park, find a connection with the natural world and feel why it's worth protecting. Living in an urban or suburban environment it's so easy to isolate yourself from nature, to live exclusively within the man-made world. That might be a more convenient way of life, but it's not healthy. Getting outside always makes me feel more relaxed, as if the stresses of the human world don't matter anymore. Nature can be your recharge, but only if you seek her out.

What do you think, blog readers? If you could encourage everyone in the world to do something positive, what would yours be?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Lately I feel like I start just about every blog post by saying:

“It’s been a crazy/busy week . . .”

To the point where I feel like it’s become my very own personal:

“It was a dark and stormy night . . .”

And yet, just because something veers toward the cliché doesn’t make it any less true, and this week has already proved to be both crazy/busy and dark and stormy, so, there you go!

But even in the midst of all that activity, I’ve still managed to carve out some time for my Five. In fact, the more I live this Five lifestyle, the more ingrained it becomes, to where I’m constantly on the lookout for new opportunities, as well as new things to write about.

And so, while I was enjoying a really nice b-day dinner last week, our extremely entertaining waiter mentioned something about a book drive he was involved in, and as soon as I returned home, I packed up signed copies of the first three books in The Immortals series and sent them off.

And then just two days before, while reading Kay’s Five, I decided to make my own donation toward clean drinking water in honor of Alyssa Milano’s b-day (such a great idea—wish I’d known about it last week when it was my b-day, but I’m totally doing that some day!).

Both of which, were easy and spontaneous, and totally covered my random acts of charity vow!

And to aid me in my no snark/no ranting vow, I recently downloaded a gratitude journal App onto my iPhone and I make sure to write in it on a regular basis—especially on the days that aren’t going quite as well as I’d like, since it forces me to list all the wonderful things I have to be thankful for, (which makes all the not-so-great stuff totally fade in comparison!)!

So, that’s it for me—how about you?

Are you Living Your Five?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Living My Five - Kay

Commit to a life of gratitude

Last time, I talked about trying to find a new Thanksgiving tradition for my family. I'm delighted to say that we chose to create a Gratitude Tree. In fact, it turned out so wonderful that I had it laminated so we can display it again next year and put our new one right next to it. Here it is in all its glory. (Please keep in mind that I did not inherit my mom's craft gene.)

We each wrote out our leaves in advance and then took turns pasting them onto the tree and talking about why we were grateful for that thing. Some of them made us laugh, some of them made us sigh... it was really lovely. I highly recommend giving it a whirl with your own family or creating one just for yourself as a reminder of what really matters.

Live a greener life ~and~ Pay it forward

It's two, two, two Fives in one! :-)

Today, I saw something that really resonated with me. (And is also a great example of how you can use social networking sites like Twitter to change the world!) Actor Nathan Fillion tweeted about it being actress Alyssa Milano's birthday and all she wanted was to help raise money for mycharity: water. Did you know 1 in 6 people on the planet don't have access to clean water? This great organization has an ambition goal of ensuring safe, clean drinking water for everyone on the planet by creating clean water systems one community at a time.

Is that Five-ish or what?

To make it fun, the campaign was set up with an easy selection of buttons to choose the amount, with the first button being $37 for Alyssa's 37th birthday. (I loved that part too - even the suggested amount has meaning!). So I donated and then created a page of my own so I can host a future campaign myself. Hmm... maybe when I turn 40? Here's a link to Alyssa's page:

So that's what I've been doing to live my Five. What about you? And for those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving, what were you thankful for?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday FiveSpot presents... Honorary Fiver Day!

Welcome to Honorary Fiver Day!

We'll be hosting this event on the first Friday of every month. Honorary Fiver Day is your chance to become a bonafide Honorary Fiver member of the Living Your Five community.

To become an Honorary Fiver, all you have to do is share your Five in the comments on this special Honorary Fiver post. Let us know the five areas you want to make a difference in!

Once you've shared your Five on this post, you are officially an Honorary Fiver and have our permission to nab this cute logo (designed by our own fab Tera!) to place on your blog or web site. Cool, right?

What does being an Honorary Fiver mean?

Being an Honorary Fiver means you're ready to join us in our quest to change our world... one person and one Five at a time. But posting your Five in the comments area of an official Honorary Fiver Day post is just the beginning. We want you to keep us posted on how you're doing on your Five! Any time one of us posts about our progress, please chime in and share your Five news too. Tell us what great things you're up to. All Fiver progress is worth celebrating, big steps and baby steps alike!

The more action we take, the more excitement we spread, the more momentum we build... the more impact we make as a Fiver community!

And yes, we encourage you to post about your Five progress on your own blogs too if you wish. Blog your Honorary Fiver hearts out, we say! Just remember to post your progress on Living Your Five too so you can inspire the rest of our community. :-)

An important note to keep in mind...

One of the tricky things about creating your Five is distinguishing between something that's beneficial to you vs. something that's immediately beneficial to others. Even we had to stop ourselves on occasion and ask "Who is really benefitting from this?"

Your Five must be things that directly impact others in a positive way, not something that is primarily for your own personal benefit.

In addition to our Fives, Alyson, Tera, Becca and I are all actively pursuing our own kinds of personal development. That's just part of being the best we can be. But that's a personal endeavor, not a Fiver endeavor.

Here's an example of what I mean:

Things like regular meditation and spiritual development are for your own personal growth. They're lovely goals, to be sure. And they may very well improve your ability to carry out your Five. But those goals would not be part of your Five themselves because the person who benefits most is you.

Stick to things that directly and obviously impact others first and foremost, whether those others are people, animals, the Earth, or whatever you happen to care about. Don't worry... if you're like us, there will be way more than just five things in your "Impacting Others" column.

NOTE: You must post your Five here to become an Honorary Fiver, even if you've already shared it in the comments of a non-Honorary Fiver Day post. (Having all of the Fives together on these special Honorary Fiver Day posts is the only way we can keep track of our growing Honorary Fivers membership.)

And now, without further ado, I introduce... YOU!

So there you go, dear readers! If you're ready to step up to the plate--Welcome! We're thrilled to have you aboard!--now is your time to shine. Share your Five in the comments below, nab the Honorary Fiver logo for your blog or web site, and go change your world!

Are you ready to Live Your Five?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tera -- Living My Five

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the holiday season is officially here. (In my family we have a hard and fast rule of absolutely nothing Christmas-related until after turkey day!) This means I've started thinking about gift giving. I'm also trying to keep my Five in mind as I decide what kind of gifts to give. I've done some research, and a couple of my favorite blogs have terrific posts on "alternative" gifts.

Unclutterer has a 2009 Gift Giving Guide series. So far they've talked about small things (like gift cards and chocolates), gifts that reflect what matter most to you (perfect for Fivers), education (like online classes and language CDs), and uncluttering (aka their book). There are sure to be more great tips coming soon, but these are already giving me some great ideas.

The frugalistas at the Simple Dollar suggest giving experiences rather than things. This can be anything from a coupon for babysitting to planning an outing to do something the recipient loves. Simple, cheap, and meaningful.

Now, I can't exactly share how I plan to implement these ideas (there's still a lot to be said for the element of surprise) but you can bet that this holiday season my nearest and dearest will be getting gifts from the heart.

What about you? Do you have any unique and meaningful gift suggestions for the holidays? I'd love to hear them.