I’ve always lived eco-friendly and environmentally conscious before it was trendy to “go green”. It was a part of my upbringing as my family is very earth friendly and recycles, reuses and reduces like you wouldn’t believe. An eco-friendly lifestyle can be accomplished in many ways: how you recycle, creating and supporting sustainability, what you cook and how, the vehicles you drive and the clothes that you wear.

When I was invited to attend Toyota’s first ever EcoDriven event in Yountville (near Napa), California a couple weeks ago I was excited. Actually, saying I was excited doesn’t even sum it up… I was honored, thankful, ecstatic and stoked. Yup, stoked.

My journey began on my way to Napa. My flight was thankfully less than an hour but I arrived at peak traffic time with an hour commute from San Francisco. I was told it could take two or three hours in traffic. This is usually something that makes people cringe… but after growing up in Los Angeles and living in New York traffic doesn’t phase me in the slightest. I also took the opportunity to talk to my driver. He was friendly, funny and in that three hours of traffic I talked his ears off. We laughed, talked about our families, traveling, cars, wine and life. I kept getting texts, tweets and emails asking where I was and friends telling me how bummed they were that I was in such bad traffic. Didn’t seem that bad when I was making the most out of it.

When I arrived to Yountville I was shocked at how gorgeous it was. I felt like I was on a movie set. The city is full of beauty and culture… oh and great food and wine. The Bardessono hotel, a LEED Platinum hotel, was an additional piece of beauty to this area. The Bardessono combines green, luxury and the ultimate Napa experience with an amazing Bar and Restaurant called Lucy’s. We started our first night drinking wine outdoors and then making our way to experience the deliciousness of Lucys. If you ever stop in here order the french fries… They are the most amazing fries you will ever have. I. Kid. You. NOT!

  • This was the most amazing bathroom my bum has been in This was the most amazing bathroom my bum has been in
  • Caryn (RockinMaMa) and Chelsey (ThePaperMaMa) Doin what Bloggers Do Caryn (RockinMaMa) and Chelsey (ThePaperMaMa) Doin what Bloggers Do

The next day our agenda is jam packed of awesomeness. Our morning began with a panelist of inspiring green career centered people from Yogitoes, Threads for Thought, Bob Burnquist, Jana Hartline with Toyota. It’s truly inspiring to hear what companies are doing to make a conscious effort to focus their business around sustainability.

Chelsey and I were paying attention and completely inspired. Truly. But, this picture cracks me up so I had to include it. Don’t kill me Chelsey! hehe

Then we got our Yoga on which was hosted by the fabulous ladies of Yogitoes. I’ve never been a yoga person… I’m a mountain bike riding, snowboarding, bmx biking, martial arts kicking and geeky gaming dancing type of physical person. I always thought Yoga seemed boring. Oh, I’ve tried to do Yoga… at home… from a DVD but I never had the full Yoga experience. I was five minutes into this calming Yoga session when I looked over at Caryn from Rockin Mama and I whispered, “This is really freaking hard!”


I embraced it. Powered through it even though my still-giving-me-issues-foot was starting to ache and I walked away absolutely loving Yoga. I’m looking into a Yoga studio now!

One thing that I love about Yogitoes is their sustainability and eco-friendly focus. This is something I talk about regularly with my Girl Scouts and their peers. Seeing more companies focus on sustainability warms my ninja heart.

Then we were off to learn more about Toyota’s EcoDriven vehicles. I’m constantly impressed with Toyota’s environmentally friendly focus and the vehicles they give us as a result. The RAV4 EV for sure caught my eye since plugin vehicles are evolving quickly. I, naturally, gravitated towards the Highlander Hybrid since it is the perfect married between my outdoorsy side and desire to drive a hybrid. When it comes down to it I’d be happy with any Toyota vehicle!

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Caryn (Rockin MaMa), Romy (Romy Raves), Chelsey (The Paper Mama) and I ended up driving the spacious Prius V on our way to Sala Salon for an Aveda spa treatment.

I’m not great at being a chick. This is something I’m very vocal about. I was raised by a single Dad who isn’t exactly down with the feminine knowledge. Spa’s and salons are foreign to me and the word product when it pertains to beauty confuses me. However, I’m always down to try something new. I told my stylist to do what she thought was best for my hair… she immediately asked me why I wasn’t embracing my curls.

I don’t know? Because my curly hair makes me look like the offspring from Hagrid and a Wookiee?!

I told her I would leave it up to her. First of all, did you know they give you a scalp massage when they start the Aveda process?! Yup, I’m sold on this. Anyway, Aveda’s Be Curly products have made me actually loving my hair! For many years Aveda has been the one company I can rely on that won’t destroy my sensitive skin or flare up my eczema. It doesn’t shock me I’d find product that would work well with my curly mop of mess on my head.

I guess sometimes I can take a nice picture without faces. Just sometimes.

I left Sala Salon in our Prius V still feeling Yoga pumped and feeling happier about my hair than I ever have been… and this eco-friendly adventure isn’t over yet…

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Toyota Womens Influencer Network and was invited to Toyota’s EcoDriven event because I live an ecodriven lifestyle. I was not compensated for this post or event. My travel and accommodations were provided for me. All opinions expressed are my own.


My Dad and I were talking about what it was like when I reached driving age and he told me it was pretty much the worst experience of his life. His annoyance started to ooze from his pores and I got that crazy Dad look from him like I was that teenager again.

I honestly couldn’t believe his statement that it was the worst experience of his life.

I then started to remind him of all the other stupid and horrible things I did in my youth and this somehow didn’t comfort him.

In my defense my Dad was the worst freaking instructor ever. Imagine Mr. Miyagi (silent and pushes you harder) and Samuel L Jackson (total badass and gets scary when loud) mashed up as your father figure giving you driving lessons.

Despite what Samuel L Jackson said in Pulp Fiction – It. Wasn’t. Cool.

He sat in the car, crossed his arms, glared at me and didn’t say a word.

I was so nervous I was going to screw up that I couldn’t concentrate. I reversed instead of pulling forward. I forgot to use my blinker. I came out of a shopping center parking lot too fast and the car made the THUMP SCREECH noise.

The whole time he just made this face –

He is terrifying!

This horrible experience lasted all of 15 minutes and he signed me up for driving school. This was mandatory to get my permit but he made me take the extended course twice. TWICE!

To this day my Dad still won’t let me drive when he is in the car and I am fine with that.

Toyota has a program for Toyota Teen Drivers – This program not only helps teen drivers but also helps parents become great co-pilots for their kids. I told my Dad about this program and suggested we took the course so we can one day learn to drive together.

He laughed at me and said if I can survive the course with my daughter then he will consider it. Maybe.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Toyota Women Influencer Network aka TWIN. I was not compensated for this post or participation in the program.


Post image for Women in the World Summit: Ninja Kicking via Womanhood and Being Empowered

Just a week ago I was in NYC walking in the Lincoln Center for the Women in the World Summit and not knowing at the time that this trip would change my life. I knew the Summit was about the fearless women who take on the world but I didn’t expect so many of them to be, well, like everyone else who were propelled forward to do more.

I mean the life altering part genuinely, by the way. Some people can exaggerate that saying with statements of truly insignificant things changing their lives. I once said a tiny brownie would change people’s lives if they ate it…

and while that was a slight exaggeration… I still haven’t had a brownie that has compared to that one. It really was that good.

This Summit is obviously bigger than a brownie. It’s the creme de la creme brownie of life topped ala mode with awesomesauce.

Not only am I currently still inspired but I am now really hungry.

I believe in taking every struggle, hurdle and obstacle in life as a lesson and making the choice to move from it with something to gain. I affectionately encourage those around me to ninja kick those obstacles out of the way to find happiness. It is what I teach my daughter to help her get through her life threatening health hurdles. It is something I live by and something that many have found inspiring about me. I’m flattered when people find me inspiring.

I mostly wonder if their heads have some screws loose!

I am very confident, don’t allow negativity to weigh me down and I have an obnoxiously determined personality, however, I am quite humble and am probably more critical of myself than anyone should be. Compliments make me feel awkward and when I am provided something amazing I often wonder why the hell I, of all people, am so fortunate.

Hillary Clinton

Standing in a room with many powerful figures in the world and hearing their stories would usually make someone feel insignificant or intimidated… it gave me perspective. It charged me full of energy. It made so many day to day complaints insignificant. It made me even more determined to obtain my goals for my kids and I.

It made me realize that the encouragement we hear from childhood that anyone can make a difference is truly a fact.

I’ve been staring at this screen for a week not knowing how I would convey all that I learned. I have many notes. Many people I want to talk about. Many topics I feel are inspiring and can light a fire cracker up some butts to get people going. So many feelings I want to share about the company, Toyota, who sent me to this Summit because they support women in the world. Oh and the women they support! The Mothers of Invention and how fortunate I am for the time I spent with them.

So rather than writing a general blog post summing up my experience I am taking the time to research, plan and take action. I gained a ton of feedback on twitter, facebook and email from those of you who were following this event. I hope to share and start a ripple of inspiration from the knowledge I feel privileged to have now.

The situations that some of these women found themselves in seemed hopeless. All odds were against them. Some had no families and no answers. Some thought they had no rights in their own lives. They found strength, courage and hope despite everything… and they not only survived the unthinkable but they also empower other women. They make women as a whole stronger. They had me laughing, in tears, physically uncomfortable and inspired from their stories.

Mothers of Invention Supported by Toyota

They made me damn proud of being a woman.

It doesn’t matter if you are from humble beginnings, giving a second life to teen moms, thrown in to a life of slavery, determined to invent something outside of the box or want to empower youth because every single person can make something extraordinary out of their lives.

There is no man, person or seemingly impossible odds that can hold you back from anything you want to accomplish. You want it? Go out there and do it and don’t stop until it’s done. It may seem easy to say that and sure these are just words on a screen just as a movie can give us that Hollywood ending that anything is possible…

But, after the Women in the World Summit I now know for a fact that it isn’t just stories. It is life. And it’s ours to live.

My feet haven’t touched the ground since my trip and I hope this elated and empowered feeling lasts a lifetime.

Photo Credit: Fadra from All Things Fadra - The TWIN team at Women in the World Summit!

Disclosure: I attended this Summit as a special guest of Toyota as a member of the Toyota Women’s Influencer Network. My travel expenses and pass to the summit and event were covered. I was not compensated for this event and all opinions expressed are my own.


I was invited to join the Toyota Womens Influencer Network aka TWIN thanks to the Clever Girl Collective and it’s been such a genuinely eye opening experience. As part of this program I am introduced to the core values of Toyota and am able to have a deeper understanding of what Toyota is about.

I think this must be said… there is a huge freaking difference between companies that write a check to have their name on a cause to boost their PR image and companies like Toyota that genuinely stick to core values that have a genuine impact.

As an introduction to Toyota members of Toyota Women Influencers Network were invited to their headquarters in Torrance, California for a “TWIN Camp” where we learned about all things Toyota. I’m an information geek so the opportunity to learn is something that I get giddy over.

This is a company that takes care of as well as values it’s people… and at this TWIN Camp it showed. It’s sometimes hard to find a company that appreciates what a Social Media Entrepreneur does. It’s a important to spread the word on how to do it right as well as being appreciative for the companies, like Toyota, that are trying to do it right.

What is the primary thing that a blogger needs to build a foundation of success for any campaign?

Information, respect and inspiration. We need something about the company that motivates us.

Toyota delivered that and then some. Everything I learned about Toyota motivates me in a genuine and authentic way because they are a company that is doing it right.

The TWIN Camp was an information packed day filled with presentations from many departments, tour of the Toyota Museum as well as test driving opportunities. We also got a lot of one on one time with those that could answer our most pertinent questions as well as reciprocate what we feel Toyota could do with Social Media.

Highlights of what I learned:


  • Toyota practices the Japanese business philosophy of Kaizen. Kaizen means improvement or change for the better. It is something that is always in progress and continuous. You will see a lot of companies rush to make changes and improve when things start to fall short, however, with Kaizen you are always making small continuous progress upward.
  • I’m in love with how all the Toyota vehicles handle. I’m not a car snob or a car expert by any means but I love everything about the Toyota vehicles. I also really want a Tundra one day, however, the Prius has my practical side leaning towards it. The new Prius models really make it possible for anyone to have the perfect Prius for them.
  • By supporting Toyota we support it’s amazing philanthropic efforts. They believe that an auto company can be a vehicle for a change. With programs like 100 Cars for Good as well as their programs for the environment, education and safety it’s evident they are actively making a difference.
  • I love old cars and running around taking pictures with them. The Toyota Museum was a lot of fun.

  • Every single person I’ve met who works for Toyota has nothing but great things to say… even after a few drinks! Seriously, that is substantial. There is a lot to be learned about a company based on it’s employees and what they truly think. Not only does everyone with Toyota love working for them but they are all extremely inspiring, genuine and highly intelligent people.
  • I adore all the women involved in TWIN and I’ve formed some fast friendships. Please hang out with us on Twitter under the #ToyotaWomen hashtag. We all have very different blogs and interest so we will all be blogging and chatting about very different topics! Check out Tech Savvy Mama’s TWIN Camp 9 Facts post , Zensible Mama talks about Toyota Culture and Lisa over at A Daily Pinch who recaps TWIN Camp.

I’m so thankful for this opportunity and learning about Toyota’s corporate structure. I’ve also loved connecting with those of you who are proud Toyota owners who can echo what Toyota is trying to accomplish.


Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I was given Toyota branded items at the TWIN camp as well as gifts. My travel expenses were covered for attending the TWIN Camp.  I did not receive any compensation for writing this post. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of the Toyota.

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It’s Girl Scout cookie season and philanthropy is fresh in my mind right now. I always become inspired by my girls in their cookie selling efforts and the ways they want to use that money to give back to their community.

It’s not just about cookies! It is about teaching my Scouts to understand business practices, profits, budgets and balancing the fun things we do with our earnings as well as service projects.

More often than not the focus is on how to help others with that money we earn. It is inspiring.

My daughter regularly thanks her cookie purchasers for assisting her in making a difference.

My daughter told me last year that she wants to be a business woman so she can make a lot of money to give to those who need it. That has been a huge topic since then. She understands what a sponsorship is and how large and small companies give money to organizations in needs.

She wanted to learn about companies that do this and why. We have done a lot of research and learned a lot together. Okay, we are a little strange I suppose. These are the things that we bond over.

When I was introduced deeper to Toyota which is launching their second 100 Cars for Good Campaign and when I told her about it she said, “See, that’s what I want to do! How many cookies do we need to sell to give someone a Toyota car?”

The ambitious gleam in her eye was wonderful and scary! I explained that we could do a lot but maybe buying someone a car would be out of our cookie range at the moment!

In 100 Days Toyota gives 100 cars to 100 charitable organizations.

That is a whole bunch of cars!

You can read more on their FAQ page. I’m going to quote part of it because I found it really powerful.

“Toyota believes that motor vehicles, and the mobility they provide, can also be vehicles for change to contribute to the betterment of society.”

On March 12th they will open the flood gates for applications and will close submissions on March 26th or until they reach 5,000. On May 12th everyone who visits Toyota’s Facebook page can help vote for the winners! Even if I can’t give someone a car it is rewarding to spread the word about this and be a part of the voting process.

Please take the time to watch the video. Share this if it motivates you and please be a part of it. And I will take a lesson from my daughter and say:

Thank you to all Toyota owners. Supporting this company makes a difference in all of our communities and I am very appreciative of that.

Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of the Toyota.