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But in 2008, Perdue terminated her contract. Morison suspects this had something to do with the camera crews she'd allowed into her barns to shoot footage for the shocking documentary Food, Inc. It wasn't until 2011 that she and her husband bought 500 Rhode Island Red laying hens—and set about doing things their way.
From the start, the hens were a revelation. They batted around Ping-Pong balls and chased each other to snatch pieces of lettuce, their favorite snack. While the industrial birds had been fragile and identical, the Reds were hardy and varied, with a stubborn resistance to disease. Perdue had demanded Morison use the company's proprietary feed, which she says routinely contained chemicals like arsenic (Perdue has said it stopped using arsenic in 2007). She fed her new birds grain, grasses, and clover to complement the worms they dug up on her 14 acres of pasture.
Recently, Morison's farm was certified by Animal Welfare Approved. While she previously "despised" her work—in addition to her guilt over contributing to toxic runoff in the Chesapeake Bay, she says, "I just felt so bad for the chickens"—she reports that "these days I'm having way more fun."
Four years ago, marketing director Allyson Morehead offered to throw a bridal shower for a friend. Eager to find the perfect invitation, she went to a local card store and began scanning the racks. But Morehead was disappointed by what she found—or rather, what she didn't find. Most of the smiling women depicted on the cards were white. A few were black. But none of them resembled the bride, who was biracial. Worse, the so-called multicultural stationery she found often featured stereotypes. ("The cards would say things like 'Hey, sista girl!'" Morehead recalls.)
Certain she could do better, Morehead began toying with her own line of stationery—some of which, she envisioned, would be fully customizable to match any skin tone or hair color. In May 2011 she launched Sweet Potato Paper, a stationery company that allows customers to personalize select invitations and announcements by choosing from eight flesh tones, eight hair colors, and six hairstyles. The originality of the concept quickly struck a chord: "I thought sales would start slow," she says, "but I got a lot of orders right out of the gate." Morehead says the company's mission is to celebrate uniqueness in a way that's open and welcoming—not exclusive. "I keep things modern, clean, and contemporary," she says, "so anyone can feel comfortable purchasing my products."
When it comes to Elva Fields, Emily Maynard's lively jewelry line, the name of the game is reinvention—whether Maynard is transforming flea market beads into eye-catching earrings or reinvigorating an estate sale necklace with a blingy brooch turned pendant. Maynard's one-of-a-kind pieces, as colorful as they are unique, combine midcentury flair with a thoroughly modern aesthetic. "I love that I'm able to make each item into something people will wear again," she says.
"When I was growing up," Maynard says,"my mom had an uncanny ability to find lackluster furniture at the flea market and resurrect it into something amazing." While planning her wedding in 2003, Maynard applied the same concept to jewelry, transforming 1930s celluloid pendants and gemstone beads into keepsakes for her maid of honor, mother, and grandmother. "From then on," she says, "I couldn't pass a garage sale or antiques market without stopping to see what kind of materials I could dig up." Elva Fields—named for Maynard's great-grandmother—launched that year.
With two young daughters, Maynard has had to curb her frequent flea market runs; she now goes on dedicated buying trips all over the country a few times a year. (She does admit, however, to braking at the sight of any yard sale.) She stores her finds by material or color, experimenting with new designs by juxtaposing strands and beads until a felicitous combination emerges. "With vintage pieces," Maynard says, "everything you're working with has a story. I try to let the personality of each piece tell me about the new life it should take on."
Münter, 36, grew up lecturing her friends on recycling and dreaming of becoming a marine biologist. But she was also"an adrenaline junkie," she admits—so at 23, she started taking driving lessons at a California racing school. A local team owner soon spotted her and encouraged her to go pro. She has now racked up nine top-five finishes in NASCAR and Indy Pro races, among other series.
But despite driving fossil fuel–burning vehicles for a living, Münter remained passionate about the environment. In 2006, when she blogged about the film An Inconvenient Truth, "I got people on a NASCAR board to argue about global warming!" she says. These days she adopts an acre of rainforest for each race she enters, to offset her car's emissions. She's also discussed the need for NASCAR to switch to biofuels. And while some racing fans write her off as "that tree-hugging vegetarian hippie girl," they're also curious, especially when she approaches issues in an unexpected way—like helping the veterans group Operation Free publicize national security reasons to support clean energy.
In February, Münter dedicated a race at Daytona to The Cove, the Oscar-winning documentary about the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. When her tire blew out, she was "heartbroken." But her accident gave the TV commentator a chance to discuss her mission to save the dolphins. Afterward she could only bring herself to watch the race once. But when she did, she says, "I had to smile."
Why we need more female leaders
The crime remains unsolved—but not, perhaps, for long. In 2008 the FBI assembled a volunteer team, now called the Citizen Sleuths, in hopes that they might drum up new clues. Scientific illustrator Carol Abraczinskas—whose eye for detail helps her render dinosaur fossils for the University of Chicago—was eager to participate: "Who wouldn't find this interesting?" she says.
Abraczinskas helped pinpoint the exact location where some of the ransom was found, and through an obscure French-language comic book, whose hero was named Cooper—revealed a possible blueprint for the hijacking. "Was Cooper a Francophone?" she asks. "The questions keep coming."
This May, Abraczinskas even joined the FBI Citizens' Academy to better understand the bureau's work. "This case is the only unsolved hijacking in U.S. history," she says. "For me, it's all about the experience."
The upside of this kind of mania is that it goes both ways. This weekend I had finally sailed to port at the end of a supermarket voyage, both kids in the cart – at least I think so, somewhere there under all the berry cartons and bunny crackers– my list clutched in my fist like a besmirched treasure map, all my energy devoted to willing the kids to stop wailing for cookies and freedom...and there it was, the final gauntlet. The Clerk. She held the future of our day in her hands. Would she glare at my mewling young, shout out my way-more-than-I’d-thought-total, even, expect me to bag my own groceries while also convincing my baby of the wisdom of silence?
No. No she did not. This woman, she gave my daughter a sticker. Then she carefully, methodically, jigsaw-puzzled my purchases into my disgusting, over-re-used bags, with an artistry I have never before seen. She worked quickly, but you could see the concentration on her face. In a few moments, she had, with the precision of an eyebrow threader, filled one bag with the frozen goods, one with the boxes, one with the perishables. Fruit was nestled safely in a protective fence engineered of cereal boxes. Each bag was easy to lift, not too heavy. Unpacking the groceries at home would be a breeze, for in organizing my bags she had also organized my kitchen.
"You’ve changed my life!” I said. She nodded, sagely. She knew.
The thing was, she’d dealt with my groceries, with her job, for which she is likely not paid enough and certainly not much celebrated in the public imagination, the way I’d hope to deal with every task, no matter how large or small: with care and attention, with thought and organization, without expectation of glory or acknowledgement; doing a small task the best way possible simply because it is possible to do it well. I thought of her later that day as I loaded the dishwasher and took an extra 30 seconds to actually line up the dishes properly; again as I sat down to respond to an email in a thoughtful, sane way, yes, even spelling out every single word.
I'm not suggesting that everyone has to love their job every second. But since, every second, we have jobs to do, why not do them as well as possible, with the ninja-like mindfulness of, you know, a store clerk?
Finding A Love for Laundry
The Art of Living in the Present
Transform Your Life by Altering Your Thoughts
Ach, the unanswerable questions of a preschooler deep in the whys. Here's something I've discovered: If asked enough questions enough times, you really do start to think of yourself as a Personage With All Answers. So the last time we had this conversation I said, authoritatively, "Well, there's not really that Wonder Woman. But there are other wonder women who help solve problems and make people act nice." She seemed to accept this, although she did want to know whether or not they all wear American-flag-themed leotards.
And as if in answer to my own why-why-why's, here they are: the real-life wonder women. Fast Company has assembled this auspicious, inspiring, and thrilling group of influential women who answering the question: Can a devoted group of concerned women change the world? The League of Extraordinary Women includes powerful CEOs, leaders, and politicians who are working to improve the lot of women and girls throughout the world. As one example, Maria Eitel, the CEO of Nike, was inspired by a visit to Africa (and in particular, the smart girl she met there who was about to married off in exchange for some cows) to start The Girl Effect, the purpose of which is "to inspire girls to believe in themselves; to deliver resources girls need to grow; and to remove the barriers that hold them back." From giving women micro-loans to help them start their own business, to providing access to clean water, the organizations these extraordinary women have started are changing the world, one step at a time.
You have to pore over the whole list to understand the scope of this league of real-life wonder women. Just prepare yourself for a buzz of happiness and relief that these people are using their powers for the purposes of so much good.
Why We Need More Female Leaders
Powerful Women in Training
Today, June 22 is, as I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone, Take Your Dog To Work Day. Please don't tell my dog, Quimby. She is, if you squint, a lovable mutt, but her proclivity for face-licking renders her palatable to extreme-dog-lovers only. Should your canine companion be of a mellower disposition, you might want to learn more about Take Your Dog To Work Day at the official site, which includes tips for TYDTWD success and, obviously, the official TYDTWD song. (Warning: There are totally dog barks involved. And it's pretty catchy.)
This may seem like a newfangled phenomenon, but dogs have actually been getting involved in people's toils for decades. For example, did you know that dogs helped the Allied Forces during World War II? Whether you are a pet-owner who regularly scoops piles of animal-hair off your floor and jokes, originally, "We could make sweaters out of this stuff!" or just a connoisseur of adorable fluffy animals, please enjoy this vintage reel from the awesome British Pathé:
So there you have it. Dogs don't have to be useless couch-warming face-lickers (ahem, Quimby). This Friday, let your dog feel useful, whether you're taking her to work, enlisting her in a cause, or letting her do her best job of all: being your buddy.
Dog-Inspired Rules to Life By
Why Raising a Dog Changes You
Life Lessons from Pet Dogs
And good thing, too -- since I just read that the most successful people are those who use their mornings efficiently. After all, as Laura Vanderkam writes, "Mornings are a great time for getting things done." Yeah! Take that, you ridiculous people who get to sleep in until the - gasp - double digits on weekends! Feh to you!
Vanderkam, who has written much about time management, has a great run-down at Fast Company of ways in which to be more efficient in those wee hours. Weirdly, she doesn't suggest allowing any time at all for feeling sorry for oneself about being up so early. Instead, she suggests a five-step process for reassessing mornings. One of her recommendations: Picture Your Perfect Morning. This may include steps for personal growth, like reading through a sacred text or training for a marathon, or it may be more about professional growth: using that quiet time to organize and strategize, or even taking an online development course. She also shares very practical steps you can take to make your morning dreams a reality without being too self-defeatingly ambitious.
How to Have More Productive Mornings
17 Ways to Be More Efficient in the AM
Just what was going on here? Wasn't my boss supposed to be a Queen Bee? Competitive and gloriously mean, like the pant-suited bosses in movies always are? Didn't we all want to claw each other to the top? Um, no? The worst you could say about this work environment was that an endemic dread of conflict led to indirect email threads of too-niceness. And yet, strangely enough, almost all of my former coworkers have moved up and up, including that wonderful, supportive boss.
Well, according to the Huffington Post, researchers have found that female bosses who mentor other women in the workplace help not only their protégés but themselves, too. Christine Silva, the lead researcher on the study, told The Huffington Post that mentoring talent was "really a win-win. It creates a culture of talent development where everyone recognizes their role in developing a good pipeline of leaders." She also revealed that "women who developed protégés received an average of $25,075 more between 2008 and 2010 than those individuals who did not." The article suggests that the idea of the "Queen Bee" boss, who doesn't want anyone but herself to succeed, is largely proliferated by the media. (And let's admit it, the Queen Bee makes for some good entertainment.) In other words, in the workplace, paying-it-forward and creating a supportive environment are good for everyone. Huh. Just like in the rest of world. Imagine that.
When Good Woman Make Bad Bosses
Why We Need More Female Leaders