Tuesday, November 13, 2012

24 Hours of Reality

People have been asking me how I weathered Hurricane Sandy being from New York City.

Part of me is beyond grateful that we only had some broken branches and a traffic light tip over.

East 91st Street between 2nd & 3rd Avenues

Corner of 92nd & 2nd Avenue

And then there is the part of me that feels guilty as so many people are suffering.

Some of my friends waded through waist deep water and lost power.

Some of my colleagues lost homes and one was held up at gunpoint over firewood.  And throughout the tri-state area, there were many that lost their lives.

Since Hurricane Sandy, there has been a great deal of talk about climate change and “dirty weather.”

Dirty Energy pollution is heating up our climate, and we end up with Dirty Weather.  Today, climate disruption affects us all.  And it will take all of us together to solve it.

It is now more important than ever that we take a stand against climate change.

Millions will join me and Al Gore online tomorrow for the live broadcast of The Climate Reality Project’s 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report.

You can watch it right here.  Just pick an hour…or two…and find out how the world is mobilizing to address this risk.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Unbeknownst to me, my Halloweens when I was growing up were very green.

Though I didn’t always want them to be.

Since the year I was born, I never wore a store-bought costume. My mother was a fabulous sewer and she made all of our costumes using things from around the house.  From clowns to witches, baton twirlers to bumble bees – they were made with love for us, and then passed down to cousins and friends.

We never knew anything else…until that Halloween of 1978.

My mom had taken my sister and me to Bradlees to get some last minute Halloween candy. Bradlees was the equivalent of Walmart but better!

Trips to Bradlees were a treat. They always had really fun stuff that we would beg her for and this trip would be no different.

As we entered the store, we stepped into a Halloween wonderland full of boxed costumes depicting every possible TV character.  It was like a walk through the Battle of the Network Stars.

Chachi.  Mork.  The Bionic Woman.  My eyes widened at every piece of molded, toxic plastic.

And then – I spotted her.  Kris Munroe.  I had to be one of Charlie’s Angels.

I knew I had an original Sheila masterpiece waiting for me but I had to be Kris.  My favorite TV character immortalized in a plastic mask with big eye cut-outs and a one-piece plastic jumpsuit that smelled so good!

I could not find a picture of the "Kris" costume...but you get the idea.

I grabbed the box so as no other 9 year old could take it and ran up to my mom.  “PLEASE can I be Kris for Halloween?”  I shouted as I practically tripped over the cart.
“You have a costume at home that I made you.”

This was going to be harder than I thought.

“You don’t understand. I HAVE to be her!!”

“Now stop.  Put that away.  It’s junk.” she said simply and continued to push the cart, trying to avoid running me over as I blocked the ca

I knew I only had one option left.  And it was risky.  But the situation was dire and I needed to act fast.  The plastic smell was intoxicating me (literally).

I dropped to my knees and began to cry.  And not just any cry.  Full out wailing.  In between sobs, I told her how awful my life was and that I just had to be Kris.

She stopped the cart and calmly asked me to stand up and put the costume away.

And I did.

I was devastated.  I sat the entire car ride home wondering what lucky girl was going to get to be Kris - the best Angel ever.

When I got home, I saw the ballerina costume hanging on my door that she had made especially for me.  And while I was still mad that I wasn’t the plastic version of Kris, I decided that Kris would be on assignment as a ballerina fighting crime.

It worked.

Today, boxed costumes are a thing of the past but store-bought costumes still fill the aisles of Bradlees-type stores.  Made in China with lots of dyes and chemicals, there is no better time to bring back the home-made costume!

And a few years ago I did get to meet the real Kris Munroe (Cheryl Ladd) who autographed my Charlie’s Angels trading card.  That made up for the boxed costume a zillion times over.

I thank my mom for her decision that day and send her a sincere apology for what I’m sure was not a pleasant afternoon.  If she were alive today, I know she’d be sitting at her sewing machine with her glasses on, busily creating works of art for the next generation of Forbes kids (and dogs).

And as I walked by the dozens of Halloween stores that popped up for the month of October, filled with every imaginable character, I think to myself how lucky I was and give my mom a smile.

Costumes hand-made with love by Sheila Forbes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Action Day 2012 - The Power of We

For the past several years, I have been participating in Blog Action Day, a day when thousands of bloggers come together to write about the same socially conscious topic.

Never has a topic resonated so much with me as this year’s - The Power of We.

Having just returned from San Francisco from the training session for The Climate Reality Project, I’ve experienced first-hand what the Power of We means and what it can do.

When I first stepped on to the bold-patterned hotel carpet in the ballroom where our training was about to take place, I instantly froze at the sight of 1,000 like-minded people.

2012 Climate Reality Leadership Corps - I'm in the 3rd row behind Al Gore!
 I spend so much time trying to convince others to carry their own bags and use a reusable mug that I didn’t know what to do with myself when I was surrounded by people who were already doing that!  Who was I if I wasn’t yelling at someone to reduce, reuse and recycle?

The Climate Reality Project is the organization founded by Nobel Laureate and Former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, to bring the facts to the public about the climate crisis and engage the public in conversation on how to stop it.

As a Climate Leader trained by Al Gore himself, I am now equipped to present the slideshow that Mr. Gore gave in the Academy Award-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth.

Joining the global force that is The Climate Reality Project (already more than 3,000 strong and representing over 50 countries) is a tremendous honor that also carries a lot of responsibility.  The climate crisis has become about more than just changing your light bulbs - we need to change laws.

On November 14th and 15th, “we” will be out in big numbers for The Climate Reality Project’s 2nd Annual 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report. (This will be broadcast live over the internet and you can check back here for details or on The Climate Reality Project's website.)

People around the globe will share their stories of about the impact of climate change and how they’re moving forward with solutions.

Wouldn’t it be nice to walk outside on a hot, summer’s day without your hair expanding to the size of Texas from the humidity?

How about not having to swim through your neighborhood because your streets are flooded?

Better yet, wouldn’t it be fantastic if you made s’mores over a campfire as opposed to a wild fire?

24 Hours” will feature music, man-on-the-street interviews, multi-media content…all generating energy and urgency so that We CAN all work together to address the climate crisis.

So as I write about The Power of We, I’m talking about the power of you.

If you are ready to take a stand, talk about climate change and stand up to the deniers...you will be making a difference.

And if you are one of thousands reading this, then that’s thousands making a difference.

The power of one converted into The Power of We!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Al-Gore-Rhythm Day 3

As I sat on the floor of the Grand Hyatt, listening to Kathy Mattea sing the words, “It’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away,” I quickly turned to my friend Joe and said, “I didn’t realize she sang this song!”

Joe turned to me with a look and said, “Only after the Rolling Stones wrote and performed it 35 years ago.”  He had a look on his face that was all too familiar.

It was one that John, a huge Stones fan, would have given me (and did, when I got home).  I begged Joe never to tell him should the two ever meet.

And I suspect they will.  Joe was one of several people with whom I bonded with at the training.

Up to this point, I had spent much of those three days telling my story and hearing theirs.  So it was serendipitous that the third and last day of training focused on storytelling and presentation.

Everyone has a story to tell and if you read this blog regularly, you know I have lots of stories to tell.

During our training, we were asked to tell each other personal stories…the girl who helped her dad find the spot where his brother died in Viet Nam and my friend Emily who helped to rescue an abused pig at a petting zoo so it could enjoy life at a sanctuary.
But there were also stories of what inspired these 1,000 people to want to save the planet.

Some were raised in homes where their parents’ read Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring," the 60's call-to-arms that launched the environmental movement.  Others, like myself, saw "An Inconvenient Truth" and were immediate converts to the cause.

These are the stories that through our presentations, we will share with our audience…our personal connection to climate change and why it’s so important to make a difference now.
Connecting through our stories, I met some of the most amazing people from all over the world who are expressing their stories about climate change by writing plays, teaching children, creating music and finding alternative energy solutions.

I feel so lucky to have these new friends…friends who I know will last a lifetime.  And with all of our stories combined, the solution to climate change is “Just a slideshow away!”
Me and Eve - my dear friend and fellow actor from So Cal! 

Lauren!  My NYC friend and partner in crime!

All my new NYC friends - Gordian, Kathy, Vicky, Lew, Emily, Lauren and Scott!

As a final story…I'd like to give a shout out to the woman who came up with the title for this series - Al-Gore-Rhythm.  She was in our international break-out session where we gathered to find solutions for those who are experiencing climate change first hand with floods, droughts and massive storms.  I don't know her name, but she's clearly a very witty person!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Al-Gore-Rhythm - Day 2

The closest I have come to the feeling I had the night before my training was the one I had the night before I got married.

A bunch of Monarch butterflies poking around my stomach saying, “Is it morning yet?  Can we walk down the aisle already?!”

The Monarchs (I use Monarchs simply because I don’t really know any other butterflies) can also make their appearance right before I’m about to confront the Starbucks barista as she makes my drink in a paper cup and pours it into my reusable one.

These butterflies are not to be confused with first-day-of-school or starting-a-new-job butterflies. Those are more like moths which bring about a sense of worry and nervousness.

In truth, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Thoughts of a man circled by Secret Service, our table locations being switched around, a tall guy sitting in front of me blocking my sight line…these are just some of the ideas my brain played around with.

But like most things in life, my worries were for nothing as I took the same chair I’d been in the day before, spread out my notebook, poured myself a glass of water and settled in waiting for the day to begin.

When Al Gore walked out on stage, emotion overtook me and I filled up with tears.

Here was the Former Vice President, Nobel Prize winner, and Academy Award winner standing right in front of me.

But it wasn’t just those titles that were getting to me.  I was about to learn about climate change from the master.

Round one was just simply watching the slideshow presentation which runs about 45 minutes.  The presentation consists of slides showing the effects and proof of climate change and is, of course, narrated by Mr. Gore.

We were asked to note how he presents the material, what feelings are evoked, etc.  The slides have been updated since last I saw the film, but the message is still the same.  The facts have gotten worse.  More droughts, floods, melting.  The situation is dire.

When I first started my conversion to a greener lifestyle, I would come home with stories of people taking 4,000 plastic bags at the grocery store or the girl in the bathroom who would leave the water running as she dried her hands.  John would laugh and then follow up with,“You need to write a blog!”

But I was sure that the green movement was not ready for humor.

Obviously I overcame that thought and found my voice.  And one of the things I learned during Mr. Gore’s presentation is that I’m not alone.  Al Gore is funny.

Talking about how Vatican City is one of the most sustainable places, he commented “Well, they have two advantages: they’re small and they have God on their side.”

But he was also serious.

He noted that it’s important to change lightbulbs, but it’s more important to change laws.

The energy radiating off everyone after he finished the presentation could have supplied enough power to light the Empire State Building for an entire decade.

After our break, it was time to get to the nitty gritty – learning the presentation.  Again, not knowing what to expect, I somehow thought Mr. Gore would appear again later in the day and one of the Climate Reality staff would do the teaching.

And once again, I was wrong.

Mr. Gore divided the presentation into three sections, the opening, the scientific proof, and finally, what you can do.  He went through every slide, explaining what it meant and his rationale for using it.  He was up there for almost nine hours with a few breaks in-between sections.  His energy and enthusiasm never waned.

There were moments of laughter and moments of passion in explaining the slides.

And there were many moments where we all rallied, encouraging him to show us that extra slide or video despite the wants of the staff to keep us on schedule…something none of us at that point really cared about. How often do you get to have Al Gore show you the SNL sketch “The Yard-a-pult?” (This is where Kevin Nealon plays a homeowner who catapults his trash into his neighbor's yard thereby using the analogy, let it be someone else’s problem.)

Like all good things, the day came to an end too quickly.  Mr. Gore told us that we would prevail and wished us “Godspeed for taking on this endeavor.”

The room flew to its feet and erupted in applause for the man that brought attention to a crisis and started a conversation.

After his presentation, Kathy Mattea and her husband, John Vezner, came back and sang for us. 

She prompted us to “sit down and enjoy the show!” and we all dropped to the floor…including Al Gore who sat with us, in the exact same spot, the entire time.  And no matter how cramped my legs got, if Al wasn’t moving, neither was I.

When the final note was played, the butterflies came back.  But this time I realized that I was really the cocoon keeping them safe and it was time for them to be born and set free.

I had come full circle.  The whole reason I started The Green, The Bad and The Ugly four years ago this month, was because of the emotional reaction I had watching An Inconvenient Truth.  And now I was qualified to present that same slide show and hope to make an impact on others the same way it was made on me.

I was the butterfly about to spread my wings – and the message.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Al-Gore-Rhythm Day 1

My dreams came true two weeks ago as I jetted off to the golden city of San Francisco to train with the guru of green, Al Gore.

The first thing that struck me was that instead of landing on Cloud 9, I actually landed in a bunch of fog.  I had no idea it would take me three days to actually see the Golden Gate Bridge!  However, once it unveiled itself, it was well worth the wait…as was the wait to get to the conference.

The airport shuttle pulled into the driveway of the Hyatt Regency and we were greeted by a group of protesters.  OK…three protesters.  But protesters with picket signs, nonetheless.

I guess I should’ve expected some sort of protest from the climate change deniers telling us that proven science isn’t accurate. However, these protesters were not deniers…they were upset that we weren’t covering “animal ag.”

This threw me…and brought two questions to mind.  The first – what is animal ag?  The second…how did they get their hands on our agenda?  I hadn’t even seen our agenda at this point!

Assuming that animal ag had something to do with the food industry and that is definitely something that affects climate change, I realized that no crusade is easy and that my job wasn’t only to fight the deniers, but to also convince the believers!

I decided to focus my energy on the task at hand – getting registered.

With cardboard notebook and badge in hand, I set out to meet up with my fellow New Yorkers.

The conference was divided into about 100 groups, each with approximately 8 individuals from a region, paired with a mentor. My mentor was the very amazing Gordian.  We all headed out to lunch to discuss how we were going to save the planet.

The bonding was instant and easy – until the conversation really got started and I soon realized that this was not to be one of sharing crazy stories of store owners keeping their doors open with the air-conditioning on (as I was used to telling), but rather with names of climate experts and activists that I did not recognize.

I found myself smiling and nodding my head…a lot…pretending to know what they were talking about.

And then I relaxed, listened and learned.

When it was time for the training to begin, I entered the room and a strange, foreign sensation came over me…I was about to sit down with 1,000 people who recycle and carry reusable bags.  What on earth was I supposed to blog about now?  I had never been in a room with that many people who thought the same way I did.

The energy coming off my fellow trainees and the speakers, including Maggie Fox, the CEO of the Climate Reality Project, was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.  The closest I’ve ever come to electricity like this was when I was a kid and my dad took me to have breakfast with Santa.  A room full of kids waiting for the man in the red suit to appear so we could sit on his lap, tell him what we wanted and get a coloring book.

In this case, the man in the red suit was actually one who wouldn’t appear until the next day, but the anticipation was the same.

The one thing I noticed was that when you have speakers who are passionate about what they’re speaking about with an audience just as passionate about devouring every word, time can get away from you.  So while we all would have loved to hear more about social media and presentation skills, the day had to be keep moving.

Our special treat (the equivalent of Mrs. Claus showing up at the breakfast) was Grammy-Award winning singer, Kathy Mattea.

She is also a trained Climate Reality Presenter and told stories of her eagerness to fight the fight not only against climate change, but the coal industry as well.  Later we would learn how to tell stories to get our points across and finding unique ways to do so. She told her story through her Grammy-nominated album simply titled “Coal.”

One important thing about training in 2012 was the added benefit of media like Facebook.  Prior to training, we were all exchanging ideas and articles on our private page and it was so fun to be able to connect with those people at the conference. 

Excited, exhilarated and exhausted, I headed off to bed with anticipation for the next day where I would be seeing Al Gore!  And excited because I knew the presents he would be delivering were going to be a lot cooler (no pun intended) than the pencil case I got from my breakfast with Santa.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mission: Possible

Greetings from San Francisco!
This isn’t any trip to San Francisco.  True, I want to see the Mission murals, eat a Mission burrito and plan a mission to Alcatraz.  But my real mission – which I’ve chosen to accept – is to train with Nobel Laureate and Former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore. 
In conjunction with his organization, The Climate Reality Project, I and several hundred other eco-minded individuals, will be trained to give the slideshow presentation Mr. Gore gave in the Academy Award-winning movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
That's the film that inspired this blog, so to come full circle, where I will be the one actually giving the slide show, is more surreal than San Francisco's murals.   

The slide show is meant to bring the facts about climate change to people in order to ignite action.  The objective is to get the conversation going.  In the words of The Climate Reality Project:  “The climate crisis is real and we know how to solve it.” 
What does that mean to me?  Watch out world…this blog is about to explode!
Thanks to Facebook, I’ve already been able to connect with some of my fellow trainees.  People are attending from literally all over the world and I get to meet them today!

The Climate Reality Project has chosen me, along with four others, to live tweet on my experience during the training.

I couldn't be more excited about my Mission: Possible!  So stay tuned…this blog will self-destruct in 5 seconds.

You can follow my live tweets on @MeredithForbes and @ClimateReality from Tuesday, August 21 - Thursday, August 23.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Thrill of Victory - The Agony of De-feet

If my weekly Weight Watchers meetings were the Olympics, and the sport was Going Green, the coverage would go something like this:

Bob Costas
These women have been counting points all week.  Let's see how they do on the scale.  Stepping up now is the woman from the Upper East Side.  She's worked out hard this week and we should see some good results.

Al Gore
Because it's summer and so hot, these women are stepping on the scale without shoes.  It's a requirement by the Weight Watchers Committee to lay down a piece of paper towel before they step on to remove all possibilities of athlete's foot.

Bob Costas

That's right, Al.  However, that towel is no friend to the environment.
Al Gore
It certainly isn't and we will be adding pounds to their weigh-in based on how many towels they take.

Bob Costas
Here is the UES woman.

Al Gore
She's taking two towels. That's a .4 gain.

Bob Costas 
Absolutely. She doesn't look happy.

Al Gore
With these games you work hard all week and something so careless is going to cost you.  Approaching the deck is the woman from Yorkville.  Here she goes for the grab!

Bob Costas 
Four towels!

Al Gore 
This is unheard of.  One is standard, two is stretching it, but four!

Bob Costas 
This is going to cost her, no doubt.  Let's see what the leader adds on...

Al Gore
It's a full pound!  She's adding a full 16 ounces to her weight loss.

Bob Costas 
Unbelievable but deserved.  Watch as she bunches the towels and throws them away.

Al Gore
Coming up next is the visitor from SoHo.

Bob Costas 
She should be very familiar with this practice as they crack down hard over there.  And after seeing what just happened, I'm confident she's going to use just one.

Al GoreShe's looking in her purse.  What is she doing?

Bob Costas 
I can't believe it!  She is using her own socks.  This is unheard of!

Al Gore
She's absolutely losing this week.  Gold medal.  I've never seen anything so perfect.

Bob CostasShe's in it to win it.

This is what went through my head as I waited for my turn at the scale.  Woman after women grabbing paper towels by the handful.

I took my turn – with socks – and headed back to my seat.

The meeting began and our leader announced that this week's meeting topic would focus on the phrase “If only…” because people say, "If only ___________, then my weight loss would be successful."

Still steaming from all the paper towels, the first thought that popped into my head was, “If only we all brought socks to the meeting and eliminated the need to step on paper towels for two tenths of a second.”

The first woman's "if only" was “If only I had someone to clean up after me, I’d save more time.”

To which the leader replied, “You can always get disposable things!”

Before I had time to get mad, another woman said, “I line all my pans with tin foil and then when I’m done cooking, I just throw it away so I don’t have to scrub!”

It was too much...like a green Sanya Richards Ross, I sprinted into action, waving my hand frantically in the air.

The leader nodded to me.

“I’m a huge environmentalist and when you talk about disposable and throwing things away, it makes me want to rip my head off!”

The leader looked horrified and the entire room of women was staring back at me.

"If you do your own dishes," I continued, "and give that pan a little elbow grease, you can earn Weight Watchers activity points.”

The leader did say "Good point," but it was clear I wasn't winning any medals.

I didn't even get the usual smile and a nod when someone leaves early, which I had to do (I couldn't miss the synchronized swimming finals!).

When I got home, I made an Olympic size dinner - used my own plates and scrubbed my own pans.

And I imagined the coverage went like this . . .

Bob Costas
She's going . . . she's going . . . she's won the Green Medal!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Stepford Cashier

As I stood in line at Key Foods waiting for my turn at the check out, the girl in front of me put her groceries on the conveyor belt. Then I watched in horror as the cashier double bagged them:  two frozen dinners (double bag), a 12-pack of ginger ale – with an easy-carry handle (double bag), and the bounty to end all bounties, paper towels (double bag!!).

Most of the time when I'm shopping, I watch this process in utter amazement and annoyance.  But double bagging paper towels threw me over the edge.  I found myself wishing the Brawny guy would stick his big hand out and slap the cashier.

The girl left and it was my turn.  I tried to remain calm.  All of a sudden, the words came rushing out of my mouth.  “Do you think this store will ever ban the plastic bag?”

He chuckled…nervously…and replied, “That’s not in our power. That has to come from the Federal government.”

This poor kid had no idea how things worked.  How many people thought this?  Or thought about it at all?

“Well, that’s not true," I said.  "The city has the power to ban the bag and I’m working to help that process.” I said trying not to be preachy, when I really just wanted to grab the stand holding the bags and run out the door.

“The Surfrider Foundation where I volunteer is working hard to get the plastic bag banned in New York.  Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland have already banned them!”

“Really?  Wow,” he said as he started to put my items in a plastic bag.  I waved my reusable one at him.  “Oh!  Sorry.  Right.”  He started putting my items in a plastic bag again, then caught himself.

I realized that these poor cashiers are programmed like Stepford wives to automatically reach for plastic.

“I think our store would never be able to do it," he said.  “People would get mad.”

“Doesn’t it matter if the people who don't want plastic get mad?”

He pondered the thought, agreed and then pointed out that the store sold reusable bags for 99 cents and showed them to me.  He said that when someone says they forgot their bag, they offer those.

I thanked him, took my reusable bag, and headed out the door past all the people grabbing their plastic bags.  And as I approached the final cashier station, I saw someone’s Brawny paper towels sitting there waiting to be bagged.  And I swear the Brawny guy gave me a wink of approval.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Jones Beach Ball Boys!

For the second time in a month, I saw one of my favorite groups…the Beach Boys!

This wasn’t just any concert…it was the 50th Anniversary Tour.  And what better way to see the Beach Boys than at a beach -- Jones Beach!  Hearing "California Girls" with the ocean breeze blowing my sun-kissed locks was like catching a wave and sitting on top of the world.

And if ocean breezes, tiki drinks and my high school anthem, "Kokomo," weren’t enough, the group was introduced (and then later joined) by my teen idol, John Stamos.

When the still ever-so-handsome guy appeared on stage, I started hitting John’s leg and screamed, “Oh my God, that’s Blackie Parrish!”  Could this night get any better? 

Well…at one point, I wished I could get in my little deuce coupe and drive away.

There was the guy sitting next to me tapping his chair incessantly. And the kid in front of me buried in a game of Connect Four on his father's iTouch. While I wanted to scream help me, Rhonda, I realized that while they were distracting, it was not tragic.

There was a problem with the show.  And it wasn't the Beach Boys.

It was the beach balls.

They were everywhere.

At first the stupid things just kept getting in my sightline.  Then the crowd would erupt in screams as it came near us as if John Stamos himself were batting the ball.

But the real reason I hated the damn things is because the brainiacs hitting the balls kept knocking them into the water. They are floating in the Atlantic now, just waiting for some poor whale or dolphin to think it's food.

I found myself getting more and more annoyed as the evening went on... especially when one pegged me in the head.

I wish the Beach Boys could get rid of the beach balls.

I know some would say that if I'm not giving off good vibrations, that it'd be fun fun fun 'til the greenie took the plastic away.

But God only knows I'd like to send the beach balls on a surfin’ safari so there’s no alley oop into the surfer moon.

Wouldn't it be nice?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Stingray Shuffle

Florida is full of dangers.  Sting rays.  Bull sharks.  Republicans.

Thankfully, when I was in Florida last week, I survived them all.

The biggest thing I survived was Stand Up Paddle surfing.

I had my first SUP lesson on the Intercoastal Waterway in Jupiter, where my friend took me for one of the greatest, coolest experiences of my life.

There were things I needed to watch out for.  Drifting into the middle of the Intercoastal and falling off my board were my biggest concerns.

But there was a more immediate obstacle as I entered the warm waters…stingrays.

Finally my television watching had paid off.

I had recently seen an episode of Lifeguard where the topic was stingray stings. To avoid them, you have to do the “sting ray shuffle.”  Instead of walking, you shuffle, moving the little buggers along so as not to accidentally step on them.  The scuffling scares them and they swim away, keeping your feet out of harm’s way.

When we were deep enough, I climbed onto my board and after a little while of getting the feel of it, I graduated to the standing position.

I felt so at peace searching for manatees and watching fish jump.  And I got to see some rays scurrying below me.

I was stunned when I lost my balance and fell into the water, but I kept calm and hoisted myself back onto my board.

I’m actually more sturdy and confident in the water than on land.  I’m famous for bumping into furniture, banging into walls, and tripping over things that shouldn’t be tripped over.

When I left Florida, I expected to leave the heat and humidity behind but New York was just as balmy.

Unfortunately, I knew what was coming next.  The dreaded, vampire-energy-sucking air conditioner.

I do not like the A/C.  The noise.  The fake air.  The menace to the environment.  Every year I wait longer and longer to install ours.  But the time had come upon us early this year.

I was just about finished tightening the last screw.  I was ready to settle in with a glass of wine to watch another Lifeguard episode, when I stepped off the two-step stool, lost my footing and came crashing down.

I had three punctures in the bottom of my foot.

I had managed not to be wounded not by a stingray's tail, but by an air conditioner's plug.

Later, as I lay in my hospital bed waiting for the doctor to stitch me up, I hummed new lyrics to a Rolling Stones song:

Hitch hitch hike baby
Across the floor
I can't stand it no more
Now come on baby
Now get into your slide
Just ride ride ride
Little 3-prong plug, ride!
Yeah yeah yeah do the A/C shuffle

Air conditioners aren't just bad for the environment - they're bad for your foot.  I'm heading back to my paddle board where the shuffle is safer.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day 2012 - A Billion Acts of Green

This Sunday, April 22nd, is the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day!  Join in the Earth Day “Billion Acts of Green” celebration this weekend! Here are just a couple of events happening in Manhattan but if you check out Earth Day’s site, you will find hundreds of events all across our great nation!

Earth Day New York
April 19-21st
Grand Central Terminal
Join in the fun at GCS where there will be exhibits, activities for adults and kids as well as entertainment! Best of all…it’s FREE!

Green Festival
April 21-22
Javits Center North
Saturday – 10-7
Sunday – 11-6
This is an amazing weekend packed with “green” vendors, amazing speakers and sustainable food.
Tickets are $10 for the day or $15 for the weekend if you buy online (a bit more at the door)

In celebration of Earth Day - I thought I'd give you some "green" tips.  Unfortunately I don’t have enough room here to give you a billion tips, so how about 10?

1.  Use a reusable water bottle to keep plastic out of our landfills and oceans.

2.  Keep your own utensils at work and avoid plastic ones.

3.  Change out your light bulbs for LED or CFL bulbs.

4.  Unplug those “vampire” energy suckers like hair dryers and coffee makers.

5.  Use an eco-friendly power strip if you need to keep things plugged in.

6.  Use non-toxic, biodegradable household cleaners.

7.  Eat local, organic and sustainable foods.

8.  Use reusable shopping bags.

9.  Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or while drying your hands.

10.  Pledge your act of green on the Earth Day website and tell all your friends to get on board!

One person’s actions can make a difference.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

World Water Day

I love water.

I love to drink it, swim in it, bathe in it, surf in it (or wish I could surf), brush my teeth with it, clean my clothes with it, cook with it, listen to it and watch it.

Maybe it's because I grew up going to the beach all the time...Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, New Smyrna.

Or maybe it's because I have webbed toes like Ashton Kutcher and Patrick Duffy in The Man From Atlantis.

John often tells me I'm part fish despite the fact that he's grossly intrigued by my twin toes.

I like to think that this unique trait of mine has empowered me to defend and protect our waters.

That could be why today is one of my favorite days...World Water Day.

World Water Day was conceived to "focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources."

But with the world weighing in at a whopping 7 billion people and another 2 billion expected by 2050, we have to do all we can to ensure there is enough water for everyone.

So since today is the 22nd...and the 22nd happens to be one of my favorite numbers (seeing as I was born on the 22nd), I thought I'd give you 22 ways to conserve water!

Happy H2O Day!

1. Turn the faucet off when you brush your teeth.
2. Limit your shower to 5 minutes.
3. Don't water your lawn if you know it's going to rain.
4. Reuse water from your shower or cooking to water your plants.
5. Reduce your food waste - most food is made with, you guessed it, water!
6. If you're not going to drink it, ask the waiter to stop filling your water glass with it.
7. Don't use your toilet as your trash can - less flushing.
8. Use a water aerator on your sinks.
9. Install a water saving shower head.
10. Check your toilet for leaks.
11. Rinse your fruits and veggies in a basin as opposed to under the running water.
12. Wash full loads of dishes and laundry.
13. Buy high-efficiency appliances.
14. Use your garbage disposal sparingly and compost.
15. Soak your pots and pans to get the dried food off instead of running them under the water.
16. Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
17. Bathe young children together.
18. When you change your pet's water, use the old water to water your plants and shrubs.
19. Throw the leftover ice from your drinks into plants.
20. Keep up with your car maintenance to reduce leaking of oil and such that seep into our environment and pollute the drinking water.
21. Sweep your driveway or sidewalk instead of watering it.
22. And finally...my biggest pet peeve...PLEASE turn the water off while you dry your hands!