Audio Interview #1: Pace and Kyeli!

I decided to start offering interviews every two weeks to highlight some of my favorite people around the interwebs and the great work they are doing.

This week, I spoke with Pace and Kyeli of Connection Revolution, formerly Freak Revolution. I was intrigued by the transformation, so decided to pick their brains a bit. Enjoy the 15 minute interview, where we discuss connection, finding common ground with our opposites and changing the world.

Special thanks to Brett Bakshis for the music, and Kelli Wise for editing.

My apologies for the echo and sound quality.


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Next episode, I’ll be speaking with Susan Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy and Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing (and freeing your creative process). Swing back by in two weeks, or sign up for the newsletter and don’t miss a thing!

Yael’s Variety Hour

Welcome back to the variety hour! Here’s my favorite links for the week, now with music!

Gem of the Week

This You. Beautiful post (and audio) on how powerful we can be when we stop hiding.

For laughs

Local Idiot To Post Comment On Internet and I’m Afraid We Will Never Win In Afghanistan Unless Central Command Gets A Pinball Machine are two great pieces from the Onion, one old and one new.

Hyperbole and a Half: Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Ebola. Probably is a hysterical piece about those dumb pain charts in hospitals nationwide.

Ever get tired of unsolicted advice?

Me too. Here are three songs about that… in very different genres.

Sara Bareilles – King Of Anything

Screeching Weasel – My Right

Ani DiFranco – Not a Pretty Girl (cover)

Shameless self-promotion

I have quite a few pieces up on the internet this week, so here’s just a few of them.

I wrote an article for Straight to the Bar on how to get your gym on the map–literally.

I was lucky enough to get to interview teen hearthrob MMA fighter Urijah Faber for MMA HQ.

And finally, I wrote a piece for MMA Ratings, MMA Fighters: What’s With the Attitude?

Yael’s Variety Hour

Is it just me, or was this week especially awesome on the internets? Here are seven great posts I found, plus two resources and a couple of my own articles around the web.

For Laughs

47,143 people liked this hysterical cartoon of obnoxious or annoying e-mail behaviors, so chances are good you’ve already seen it. But just in case…

From the Onion. Sounds about right.

For Foodies

Leslie Kruempel wrote this insightful article on reasons you should eat local, even if reducing your carbon footprint ain’t one. (She’s @realfoodmn on twitter.)

Michael Pollan is my hero. And who hasn’t wanted to make as many dishes as possible in 30+ hours for all meals? Got and produce and mushrooms, oh my!

For Writers and Bloggers

There are some! Kelly James-Enger explains.

Nuff said.

Without ripping them off from others.

Some recommendations

  • Wisestamp helps you create beautiful e-mail signatures on Gmail (using Richtext, on Firefox). They can also include your facebook, twitter and LinkedIn profiles as well as your latest blog post. And it’s free!
  • Remember the Milk is an awesome site for task management, including an online to-do list and other bells and whistles. Also free.

It’s Me! On Other Sites!

My guest post for Tim Brownson’s awesome blog, A Daring Adventure. I’m honored.

In which I accuse UFC president Dana White of whitewashing.

Your turn…

Any posts I missed from the past week that you thought were especially awesome? Leave ’em in the comments.

My Paleo Experiment (Or: 30 Days Without Ice Cream)

I’ve been almost Paleo for as long as I can remember. Meals are easy. I like eating eggs for breakfast, have been known to order freezer packs of grassfed beef directly from farmers, and absolutely love a nice fresh salad. It’s the snacking that always gets to me. As much as I love eating meat and vegetables, I also love eating chocolate, jellybeans and other sundry snacks. Sugary soft drinks were a problem when I was working as a teacher, and I find them slowly creeping back into my diet during high-stress weeks riddled with deadlines.

When I lived in Tucson, it was a lot easier to limit snacks to weekly or bi-weekly cheat meals. Living in Eau Claire has made this a lot more challenging. I can’t ride my bike to community acupuncture when feeling frazzled, and don’t really have anything that could be considered a support system (at least, not compared to my wonderful desert friends.) Finding an outlet has been pretty challenging.

However, as a long-time advocate of the Paleo diet (managing editor of the Performance Menu, one of the proofreaders for Robb Wolf’s book and co-conspirator in the T-Nation interview, etc.) I really want to put my money where my mouth is.

It helps that Scotty’s recipes are awesome. Plus, all the cool kids are doing it. That includes Tim Brownson and Tim Ferriss.

SO I am about to embark on the 30-day Paleo challenge. And as a huge believer in transparency, I’d like to cover this process openly. Here are the questions I’d like to answer for myself and, of course, for all of you.

  • Is it affordable? I’m not really big on pasta or anything, but have been known to eat rice and other cheap carbs from time to time. I’ll be documenting the exact cost of groceries for the Paleo diet, as outlined in the Paleo Solution, for two people.
  • Will it make me crazy? Specifically, I’m wondering if my mood improves after the first 10 days or so and how I feel on this diet (no cheats included). I was noting to a friend the other day that eating gluten always leads to existential crises, so even when I do start incorporating 10% meals again I’d like to completely eradicate gluten from my diet.
  • Will it support my workouts and sport? I’m a BJJ player on hiatus and am about to start this killer intense workout program written by Troy Anderson to help me get my cardio up so I’ll be ready to train again after we move in just over 6 weeks. As much as I think health is important, I’d be lying if I said succeeding in the gym and on the mat wasn’t a priority. Will I be tired on such low carbs, or will it help me ramp things up and kick some ass?
  • Am I going to lose weight? Actually, I’m more concerned with body fat percentage than poundage. Specifically, I am wondering how big of an effect my non-Paleo snacks have been having on my body composition.

I will not be doing blood tests at this time. The last time I got them checked my numbers were very good and my doctor even asked me if I was an athlete. It was a grand moment.

I’ll be posting weekly updates for the next month or so. Feel free to chime in if you’re also doing the 30-day experiment, or if you have any questions or anything to add.

The Sandhill Crane Migration

It was a beautiful, clear day when we decided to venture out to Crex Meadows for the sandhill crane migration. Although the birds were roosting further away, we did get to see them flying quite close overhead. Unfortunately, my video footage is not nearly as good as my video of us chasing capuchin monkeys, but I did take some good photos.

If You Are Here, This Is For You

If you are here, this is for you. That was the name of the one-man performance art show written by Rob Horne, which I saw it performed by Brian Ora Coya back in 1998.

I met Brian at Cleveland Food Not Bombs, where I’d show up every Sunday to help cook soup for the homeless. Brian was passing through on a two-day tour. (The second day he performed in Chicago at the amazing Hotel Kafka; read the Chicago Tribune review here.) Brian rode freight trains and did performance art, and he sold copies of photographs he took while he was traveling.

Although I’ve never wanted to hop trains myself, I was drawn to his ideas on freedom and following your dreams and finding your way in the real world, not the one that has been created for you. And yet there was such a strong sense of restlessness, discontent and longing… It was raw and honest and grating and real. I wanted to share some quotes from the script. I’ve left the typos, etc. intact to maintain the spirit of the piece.

“once, it was said of me that i showed promise, of what i am not certain, but i felt early on that this promise, in the world of those who would say such things, could only mean a slow spiritual death for me, and that if i were ever to assume the raiment of my true self that this promise must remain unfulfilled in the eyes of the world. in this way it could gain some sort of a meaning, even for me.

i have tried entering the gates of the spectacle, mingling with the guests, engaging in late night barroom confidences & drunken feats, great sudden pooltable smirks like a mongol in a mall, a haj in detroit, a flame under water. there is nothing there for me, nothing but laments, sighs and unsung dirges and from these i am tired unto wakefullness. i must leave….” [Read more…]

Yael’s Variety Hour

I’ve been inspired by Marissa Bracke’s Friday Menagerie, Havi Brooks’ Item! posts and Eric Cressey’s Random Friday Thoughts, and I want to play! I tried to come up with a good title, but words like smorgasbord and random miscellaneous came to mind, and that just wouldn’t do. Anyway, here’s my collection of random thoughts, observations and recommendations.

Life Skills
I went to Chris Guillebeau’s Unconventional Book Tour in Minneapolis last Sunday night. Chris wrote this amazing book called the Art of Nonconformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World and is currently in the process of visiting all 50 states and 10 provinces on a a whirlwind book tour which you should check out if he’s coming to your town. It was nice to see so many people come out to hear Chris’ message of living a meaningful life of purpose, and I was particularly moved by seeing so many young people there who are already asking the right questions and trying to figure out how to set their own terms for living–but in a thoughtful and nonconfrontational way. (I did the nonconformity thang as a teenager, but didn’t pick up on the latter part until much later in life.) Anyway, I’d highly recommend the book, and wrote a review up on Amazon.

Creative Writing
I am teaching a series of three creative writing workshops in Chippewa Falls, starting tonight, for the next three weeks from 6:30 to 8. I’ll be drawing on the work of  Natalie Goldberg, Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge and Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (aka SARK). I am pretty excited about helping people turn blank sheets of paper into those filled with prolific, insightful prose… in three very different ways. If you know of any other writing experts with great practices, please leave their names in the comments.

Contemporary Social Issues
I actually enjoyed the book Eat Pray Love, but I also thought this interesting article, Eat Pray Spend: Priv-lit and the new, enlightened American dream, offered some pretty thought-provoking analysis.

I found an interesting article on what is called Suburban Warrior Syndrome in Psychology Today. It describes how fantasy movies can tap into our impulse to be heroic. My favorite quote? “Quiet heroism is showing up for your child’s school play when it’s  difficult to get off work, or being honest and ethical in the face of  someone’s disapproval or scorn,” says Tessina. “That’s the kind of  heroism that really counts in life.”

Dean Rieck wrote an excellent post on Copyblogger entited 8 Bad Habits that Crush Your Creativity and Stifle Your Success. Definitely worth reading.

Phys Ed
Got tight hip flexors? Check out some tips from Coach Keats on assessment and self-massage.

Wired magazine had an amazing article entitled Sex! Hackers! Embellishment! The Inside Story of the Facebook Movie. Not only was the movie fascinating, this article is so craftfully written that it made me wish I only read Wired and magazines like it.

Extra Credit
I wrote a guest post on ProBlogger, Five Ways to Prevent E-mail Overload, which you may want to check out if that’s an issue for you.

Thanks for reading and, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments–feedback on these articles or anything else I posted, interesting items you’ve found so far this week, or anything at all, really…

Book Review: The Paleo Solution

Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution has already made the New York Times bestsellers list, and was virtually sold out before it even came to print. He’s already made waves on T-Nation, Tim Ferriss’ blog and public radio and, of course, was featured prominently in Eat This: The Ultimate Food Resource Guide. I almost feel like a book review is overkill, but I definitely wanted to add my voice to the choir.

Giving up grains and dairy isn’t popular, which is why this book is so necessary. It outlines the scientific evidence for the “original human diet,” delves into the harmful effects of Neolithic foods and details the practical application of Paleolithic eating with a masterful combination of ancient wisdom and modern science.

The Paleo Solution is both informative and entertaining, comprehensive and accessible. Whether you’re a science geek or a cave dweller, there is something in the book for you if you’re interested in understanding Paleolithic nutrition, wanting to lose weight and reverse disease or are simply chasing improved health and athletic performance.

Here’s what you’ll get if you get your hands on the book:

  • The hows and whys of Paleo nutrition, written in an engaging and accessible manner
  • The nuts and bolts of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and hormones (including glucagon, leptin, cortisol and insulin-like growth factor)
  • Information on digestion, insulin resistance, leaky gut syndrome and other disease states, and their relationship to Neolithic foods
  • Solutions for reducing stress and controlling cortisol (primarily through sleep)
  • The recipe for the infamous NorCal margarita (not ideal, but better than gluten-rich beer or “froufrou drinks with umbrellas”)
  • Specific information on which blood markers to monitor if you’re looking to track your progress
  • A very basic workout program, specifically written for beginners or intermediate exercisers (and a list of resources for those who are a bit beyond that.)
  • A one-month meal plan, written by the amazing Scotty Hagnas (who writes awesome recipes for the Performance Menu each month, and has some cookbooks out as well). The recipes look simple, delicious and nutritious.
  • Comprehensive information on some important supplements, including what they do and how much we need.
  • A boatload of references (30 pages of them, to be exact)

I feel comfortable offering a blanket recommendation for Robb’s book because it has so much for everybody. If you’re not into the nitty-gritty details, you can simply read the overviews on topics you’re interested in. If you’re a scientist, you can geek out on the more comprehensive information included. Need some support in making the transition? That’s why the 4 weeks of meals and exercise program would come in handy. (And if you’re not sold on the Paleo diet, you’ll learn exactly which biomarkers to track before and after a one-month experiment, so you can make a more informed decision.)

If you’re a fan of Robb’s blog or podcast, you will love the book. Already got your hands on it? Would love to hear what you think in the comments.

What is Excellence?

I’ve been a bit of a gypsy the past couple weeks, traipsing around Phoenix and Tucson, my old stomping grounds. It’s been excellent to meet new people and see old friends, and I’ve been humbled by everyone’s kindness and generosity.

While perusing calendars at one of my favorite independent bookstores this past weekend, I noticed that Earth Goddess imagery doesn’t do it for me anymore. Beautiful drawings of flower goddesses, women morphing into trees or hanging out with their Earth bellies is something I no longer find resonance with. This isn’t to say that I find it less valuable or would begrudge other people their favorite sacred images, but just that it’s something I’m no longer attracted to.

When I interviewed pagan theorist Starhawk back in February 2001, I remember she told me that the political was the sacred. That people putting their lives on the line to create systemic social change were acting in a sacred manner, whether they thought of themselves as spiritual or not.

One of my favorite quotes is by Aristotle. He said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” This always resonated with me because habits are controllable, unlike genetics. Whether trying to achieve athletic excellence, mastery of a craft or even improve relationships, habits are key.

I’m finding glimmers of excellence in all sorts of places. A mother who I noticed apologizing for her kids’ behavior, but rather than feeling critical I was actually noting how she was masterfully deflecting all impending arguments with compassion and poise. A personal trainer who had such an eye for detail that he could pick up on problematic movement patterns in mere seconds.  A bodyworker who literally refuses to charge unless his clients are 100% by the end of the session. A street musician rockin’ the resonator, making an extremely challenging performance look easy. Fighters who show such heart and skill even in practice, never taking a shortcut, never giving up.

While traveling I found myself noticing that I was attracted to the friends I’ve kept here for a reason. They come from different walks of life and have different professions: massage therapists, acupuncturists, writers, videographers, project managers, personal trainers, EMTs, editors, teachers. But what they have in common is that they don’t cut corners. They give things their all: their work, their families… their passions. I only hope that I can live up to the shining examples all around me and find myself manifesting the bright light of excellence to others on the path.

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strength and resolution,” Kahlil Gibran said. And I see that more and more all around me as well. It is internal strength and resolution that stops us from hardening our hearts and enables us to let the love flow–to our work, to our families and ultimately to one another.

Here’s to excellence.

What Are Your Fitness Questions?

Coming soon! Work It: The Ultimate Fitness Resource Guide.

My most popular post to date has been Eat This: The Ultimate Food Resource Guide. I compiled over 50 different sites and divided them into categories. Recipes, food activism, miscellaneous blogs and resources were all listed, and food lovers nation-wide can check out the guide and find specific information they’re looking for. The guide was a hit because it had something for everybody, and all in one place. Fitness buffs (and aspiring fitness buffs), you’re next!

Since Eat This was posted, I’ve been asked to do the same thing for fitness-related blogs. And so I’ve been working diligently on compiling information for a fitness resource guide, but I want to make sure that it includes everything you’re looking for. So far categories include beginner programming, specific sports (Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, conditioning for BJJ/MMA, etc.), specific gyms (gyms with chalk, etc.) mobility and recovery.

The Fitness Resource Guide will include free information found online, our favorite books and e-books available for purchase, equipment to buy and/or make, standards to work up to, and ways to find all good things local. In addition to helping you find programs to get you strong and fast and local training and resources to get what you need, I’ll also throw in links for finding the best bodywork (etc.) locally, so that you can work on niggling injuries before they become a problem or manage chronic issues with someone knowledgeable.

Like Eat This, Work It will include short descriptions of each resource listed, divided by category. But I need your help. What am I missing? Please tell me what I need to include to make this resource complete–the sooner, the better! I hope to finish the resource list by early October. Please leave your thoughts, ideas and suggestions in the comments. What would you need in this resource guide to make it complete? What could I include that no other fitness resource guide has?