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11 project

Lissa Boles
Sarah Callan
Michael Dante DiMartino
Kristin Glenn and Shannon Whitehead
Chris Guillebeau
Jennifer Louden
Amber Maida
Jill Miller
Megan Elizabeth Morris
Melissa Pierce
Desirea Rodgers
The 11 Project is a magazine that is
redefining the good life by hunting for
the best of what humanity is up to.
In each issue 11 people are asked the
same 11 questions around a theme.
Brooke Thomas Publisher, Editor-in-Chief
Reese Spykerman Art & Design

Photo Credits
Stephanie Zito Cover Photo
Nikko314 on Flickr.com Page 3
Tomasfano on Flickr.com Page 12
Seeminglee on Flickr.com Page 20
Vincepal on Flickr.com Page 35
Kubina on Flickr.com Page 42
Luchilu on Flickr.com Page 42

Licensed under Creative Commons: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/3.0/

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such as publicity or privacy rights.

outside-the-box issue
table of contents

1 6
Sarah Callen Page 5 amber maidaPage 23
The Bird in Flight The Artist
“As long as you are expressing yourself, sharing “I don’t believe I have the ability to set terms,
your story and showing people who you are, only to cherish my time.”
there will always be another opportunity for
you to be happy.”

Desirea RodgersPage 28
The Liberator

Jill Miller Page 7 “It was then that I knew that if they could have
The Mover and Shaker hope, then I could. Hope changed everything. It
“No simple thing was going to anchor you to is a creator, a builder, it is a power that reaches
your own soul or to your own life. You were inside and says yes.”
just going to have to figure it out yourself.”

chris guillebeauPage 30
Michael dimartinoPage 12 The Obstacle Demolisher
3 The Storyteller
“It’s amazing to me how turning your life in a
“I’ve learned that the pursuit of pleasure, or
the pursuit of building your own amazing life
slightly different direction can create so many that’s strictly focused on yourself, is ultimately
new possibilities.” a fleeting thing.”

Lissa BolesPage 35

jennifer loudenPage 16
The Welcome Wagon The Soul Mapper
“Failure and heartbreak have been the places “Purpose isn’t simply something you live in
that have changed everything for me more your work or your business. Your purpose is
than success.” meant to be fulfilled through every area of your
life, it’s holistic and comprehensive.”

melissa piercePage 20
The Driver
Megan Elizabeth MorrisPage 40
“I would follow my heart and more would The Growth Inducer
appear from the world. Opportunity would “I think too many people assume their lives
continue to knock.” need to be about these negative emotions just
because that’s how life is, and that’s not true.”

Kristin Glenn and
Shannon WhiteheadPage 46
The Purpose-Preneurs
“Our goal is to show people that all of us have
the ability to make it work — and to learn, ex-
perience, and change the world in the process.”

outside-the-box issue
editor’s letter

I’m a chronic over-doer.

I have one of those schedules that look like an elaborate game of
Tetris. It’s by choice, of course, and I do agree with Chris Guil-
lebeau when he said in his interview that he’s “not interested in
trying to create the most balanced life. I’m really having a lot of
fun being relatively unbalanced.” However, when I recently added
this new project to the number of plates I already have spinning, I
asked myself many times, “Why do this?”

Life is full. I love my other work (as a Rolfing practitioner and What I do know, and what I try to spend my mental and emotional
helper-outer of other holistic professionals), and I cherish my energy diving into, is that people can be thrillingly amazing too.
time with my young son. Adding a whole new adventure to that With technology making our world smaller, I feel like now more
can sometimes feel like I must have been under the spell of some than ever we’re able to hear about the wonderful contributions that
powerful wizard who just wants to see more inspiring magazines people are adding to life here on Earth.
in the world.
The diversity of those contributions is stunning. Not everyone
I know no such wizard exists of course (though that would be has to renounce everything and pitch in Mother Theresa style.
pretty awesome), which leaves me with the question: “Why do We don’t just need heroes here on Earth (though Desirea Rodgers
this?” I could answer it with grandstanding sentences that include rocks my world and gets my very enthusiastic hero vote for this
phrases like “…change the world” or “…transforming lives” but I’ve issue); we need light in all of its lovely forms.
never been much of a blowhard and I’d rather be honest than puff
up my chest about the whole thing. In reality, I’ve spent a whole To usher in that light we need more and more people who are will-
lot of years- likely all 36 of them that I have under my belt- feeling ing to break out of the numbing molds that we’ve been sold on, and
alternately amazed and horrified by humanity. to start finding their own particular gift that they can bring to both
“Evil” is a loaded word, especially these days, but I see the horrific their and others’ lives. So what better way to kick off The 11 Project
things that people can do to one another and I have a very hard than with the Outside-the-Box issue.
time coping with it. I spent this fall walking to my office every day
past the blocks long stretch of news trucks surrounding the New As I mentally skim through some of the 11 people interviewed in
Haven courthouse. A man, whose name I can’t bear to print in my the following pages, I get giddy just thinking about the forms that
own magazine, was being tried for brutalizing and murdering a freedom from the box(es) can take: Michael DiMartino is bringing
mother and her two daughters in their own home. light to the world through storytelling and animation, Jill Miller
through re-acquainting people with their bodies, Kristin Glenn and
Every day the same dark circus was there as I walked to work. Shannon Whitehead through (true) eco-friendly apparel, and Lissa
Every day the newspapers leaked some new hideous piece of Boles through handing people their own purpose GPS. There is so
evidence. And then he was sentenced to death. Which did nothing much more, and it is all oh so delicious to me.
to help me answer all the questions I had- questions I have always
had- about what makes a person capable of something like that. I And to answer my own “Why do this?” question: We can focus on
suspect, and hope, that I’ll never know. whatever we want in this life- the darkness, the light, and every-
thing in between. Lord knows I’ve spent my fair share of time in
all of those shades of grey. But what I want to do now, and what I’m
capable of doing with The 11 Project, is to shine a light on the best
of what humanity is up to these days. Let’s turn up the volume on
the good stuff together, shall we?

brooke thomas
Letters to the editor are always welcomed, as are submissions if you
think you or someone you know should be featured in the magazine.
Both can be sent to brooke@11project.com

outside-the-box issue
sarah callan

the bird in flight

happiness factor diminished, I was left with I have always dreamed of the circus. I am
1 an eight hour day of going through the mo- from Ireland and the opportunities of cir-
tions. When I opened my eyes in the morning cus in Ireland are non-existent, so I quickly
and I found myself thinking of reasons to call dispensed of this dream as a child, yet even
What is your work and what in sick, I knew it was time for a change. as a gymnast in my adolescensce, I secretly
impact do you hope it hoped Cirque du Soleil would send scouts
to my gym. When I moved to New York City,
will have?
3 my mother, knowing of this ever-present
I work as a Flying Trapeze instructor at hope, bought me a trapeze lesson for my
Trapeze School New York. I am hoping that birthday. That was the end of denial and the
I can provide the same kind of experience As someone who is living life beginning of acceptance that I had finally
that I had when I discovered flying trapeze found my place. I think this feeling, wheth-
on your own terms, what are er you had circus aspirations or not, is quite
for other people. For me, it was rediscover-
ing a passion. I have had quite a long term
your terms? common at TSNY. So, I like to believe that
relationship with my body as my biggest the original idea of Trapeze School New
I focus on the things that make me happy.
asset — I had spent years competing as a York — to help people, in my case, rediscover
Teaching is so incredibly rewarding, shar-
gymnast, years that often felt like compet- a passion — is still present. It is something we
ing experiences with people I would never
ing against my body. Flying has made being strive towards in every class with every stu-
have met unless I was involved in some-
active and fitness what it should be, fun. dent. And this opportunity certainly changed
thing so creative. I work with so many pas-
my perspective for the better.
sionate people that it is easy to be excited
for new opportunities and other outlets to
2 express talents. As cliché as it might sound,
you have to make opportunities happen. As 5
long as you are expressing yourself, sharing
Did you ever have a period your story and showing people who you are,
there will always be another opportunity What’s something that’s
in your life when you were
for you to be happy. changed everything for you?
following the status quo and
what did that look like? This question can be answered lots of ways.
For me, something that changed everything
Yes. I believe we all fall victim to it at some 4 was my injury. Fourteen years of gym-
point. For me, it was working at jobs that nastics will take a toll of someone’s body,
made me unhappy. Perfectly good jobs and although back pain was a constant
that I was lucky to have, which is why I How did you come to throughout my gymnastic career I failed to
stayed with them for so long. But when the those terms?
outside-the-box issue
If you wake up in the morning and you are excited
to start your day and to see what opportunities
you can create, you are on the right track.

address it in the manner I should have. Unfortunately, a herniated

disk will change everything. But it’s what you do with that change 9
that matters. Flying trapeze helped me realize that I am more than
just my injuries; I can overcome them if I put as much effort into
rehabilitation as I do into training. Although managing this injury What’s your relationship to doubt?
can sometimes be a full time job, it taught me that my determina-
tion to succeed is stronger. For a performer doubt is ever present. Am I good enough? Will
people like me? I manage my doubt as best I can. I know when I am
training, or getting ready for anything I am concentrating all of my
efforts into being better. I know when I get to the end point that it
6 will be my best. And that is all you can do.

What do you think the pursuit of happiness

is all about? 10
It’s about the pursuit! If you are not happy then you are not pursu-
ing correctly. If you wake up in the morning and you are excited to In the moments when it’s been tough to go
start your day and to see what opportunities you can create, you are against the grain, is there a person or thought
on the right track. that inspired you to keep at it?
My mother brought me to my first gymnastics class when I was
7 three. She spent the next fourteen years carting me back and forth
to various trainings, competitions and displays. She bought me my
first flying trapeze lesson. She has been at every single one of my
What’s your idea of hell? shows. She is my rock, my believer and I strive to be as influential
on my children as she has been on me.
Giving up.

What do you think humanity
Do you long for something right now? needs most these days?
I long to perform more. All in due time. I am still training a lot, so Perspective. If you are doing something that makes you unhappy,
keep watching! you should stop. Chances are if you are happy doing something you
will be better at it.


Sarah is originally from Ireland and moved to the US for College. She has a BA in Writing, an MS in Nonprofit Management,
and is currently a flying trapeze instructor at Trapeze School New York. She dreams of Cirque du Soleil and traveling the
world- preferably combining the two. She also enjoys jumping on random buses in Manhattan just to see where they will take her!


outside-the-box issue
Jill miller

mover &

What is your work and what impact

do you hope it will have?
I teach people human movement. I teach people how to propriocept the way
their body actually moves. All of us have body blind spots. These are areas of
the body that are overused, underused, misused or terribly abused.
The exercises, sequences, and self-care practices that I teach with Yoga
Tune Up® are designed to heighten the sense of proprioception inside of people
so that they can reclaim areas of the body that aren’t playing well together. I
like to say we move the mind into the muscle, and really hammer it home that
the intelligence of your tissues is constantly being stifled by poor circulation,
scar tissue, lack of hydration, and also just the way we think about ourselves.
The mental messaging that we give ourselves definitely impacts the tone
of our tissue. And so, if there are areas of your body that you’ve cut yourself
off from because of an emotional or personality conflict that you have with
yourself, or some disbelief that you have or mistrust of areas of your body, it’s
going to create this dark pile of non-movement. And then that non-movement
is non-circulation, and that non-circulation is a roadblock that eventually is
going to cause injury. I see it all the time.
But tissues renew themselves. Every single cell of the body can regenerate
and they all have different lengths of time. It’s not like a disc is going to turn
over in two weeks. You need about five hundred days of consistent new ways of
moving in order to make a significant lasting change in those tissues. The same
thing with nerves; Nerves take two to five years to re-grow.
I have a student with MS right now, who, when I first met him, had been told
that he could never dorsiflex or ever move his ankle. He was also told he could

outside-the-box issue
never individuate his toes or have an opposable thumb. His fingers looking at antigens and viruses and bacteria, but I’m looking at
were gnarled. And we’ve disproven everything that his doctors biology in a different way: The biology of human movement and our
have said. mental connections to that. I get all of it now in the career that I have.
He can file his nails now, he can light his medical marijuana
bong with his opposable thumb, he can button up his shirt, and he’s
lost 40 pounds. We worked so intensively on the nervous system in
the practices to build consciousness back into the moving system
of the body.

Did you ever have a period in your life when

you were following the status quo and what
did that look like?
I was waitressing. I started working illegally and driving illegally
when I was 14. I’ve just always been a worker, Brooke! I’m a worker
bee, and I’m happy when I’m doing stuff. (That’s also why I appre-
ciate the stillness that I get from my practice.) So I was waitressing,
going to yoga classes, and acting out here in Los Angeles, and one of
my customers was starting an online company that was going to be
a makeup hub.
Now, I’m not a makeup person. I have makeup and I have to do
it sometimes for photo shoots, but I’ve never been a daily makeup
So, he asked me if I’d be interested in helping to develop this
online hub that was going to take on Sephora. And I really liked
him, he was an entrepreneur and I always had fun when I waited
on him. And I said, “Yeah sure. I’ll help you take that on. I would be
As someone who is living life on your own
interested in learning a new skill set.” terms, what are your terms?
And so, I quit my job at the restaurant (which was a great restau-
Move every day. Move something. Shake it! Get my body circulating
rant!), drove to the office, sat down in front of the computer screen,
every day, so whether that’s rolling on the floor with my doggies,
and literally felt every single cell in my body shutdown.
or using my YTU therapy balls, or doing my conscious movement
My vision got blurred. I even started having trouble breathing.
practice which is my Yoga Tune Up practice- which can include a
Within five minutes I said, “I just don’t think this is going to work
gazillion different things- that’s the first thing: Move, circulate.
out.” I felt my soul get as dim as a gray computer screen, and that
Another term is to eat foods that make me feel nourished.
was a moment where I thought, “I will never, ever be able to make
Articulate daily my love for my husband. So often I’m not with
this work. I’ve got to move! I’ve got to move! I’ve got to teach! I
him, because I’m on the road so much. But we make a really big
can’t be behind a computer screen my whole life!”
point to express our love and gratitude for each other. We acknowl-
It reminded me of when I was deciding on going to college. I was
edge the adventure that we’ve laid out for ourselves, because it’s
looking at schools that had a great molecular biology department
not challenge free, so it’s really important to continue to remind each
and schools that had a great theater and performance department.
other of the specialness of that adventure that we’re taking together.
I was a straight A student and I graduated first in my class. So I
Infuse into my students the kind of inquiry that fuels my inter-
was a really smart kid and I loved science, but I also loved talking to
est in my life. I want to be around students who are questioning
people, being out there, and playing.
and who are challenging themselves; Students who are especially
I was deciding between Tufts and Northwestern. At the time,
willing to let go of physical habits.
Tufts had the best molecular biology department, and Northwest-
When I say my students, I’m also talking about the teaching
ern had the best theater department.
team that I mentor. I have an amazing teaching team of nearly
Then thank God the question came in: “Well, for the rest of your
eighty teachers around the world and it’s super important that we
life, do you want to be behind a microscope or do you want to be in
are on this investigation together and that we provoke each other. A
front of people?” And it was clear, I don’t want to be sitting behind a
big part of living life on my own terms is that I help to inspire that
microscope, I want to be in front of people.
inquiry in others so that they’ll challenge me right back and keep
What’s cool though is I get to do all the biology stuff with people
me growing.
— I get to service their microbiology in a conscious way. I’m not

outside-the-box issue
Be playful. Play like a kid, and take some time every day to So, I suppose I came to my own terms just continuing to ask
breathe really deeply and to be willing to feel the emotional timbre the questions.
and the nervous timbre of your heart and soul and your being. That I really think I had the loving support of a teacher who just
can be really scary. wanted to cultivate a student’s mind in me. Believe me, I’ve met so
That’s enough terms. many masters and great teachers and they’ve got dogma. You have
to pick and choose what does and doesn’t work. So I just really
appreciate about Glenn that he didn’t have any agenda. I think he’s
4 the ultimate anarchist.

How did you come to those terms? 5

Thank God I had my mentor, Glenn Black. When I met him I didn’t
know that he was going to be anything important in my life. At What’s something that’s changed
nineteen I was working at the Omega Institute in Upstate New
York, and for the whole summer
everything for you?
lived in a tent on the ground Oh, there are so many things
and did a lot of healing. I had
been bulimic up to that point,
You can’t get away from the that changed everything. When
I was fourteen years old I got to
and it was that summer that
I actually was able to finally
flavor of chocolate. When go to Germany on an exchange
student program, and my host
reckon with my crippling low
self-esteem and dislike of my you put it in your mouth, it mother gave me a ticket to go
to a Wagner Festspielhaus in
body. I had been really dark and
unhappy, and that summer at just takes you over and ev- Bayreuth, and I’d never seen an
opera before. It was a six‑hour
Omega helped to introduce me long opera, because that’s Wag-
to hundreds of people who were
willing to talk about the kind of
erything is that moment. I ner! Here I am this antsy four-
teen year old and I am trembling
stuff that I needed to talk about
in order to heal.
think that in the pursuit of for six hours straight because it
was one of those perfect theatri-
My teacher Glenn would
teach really early classes in the happiness there are these cal experiences. So that was life
morning and maybe six or seven
people would show up. I didn’t moments of bliss that are I do think that meeting my
husband has been the catalyst
even know his name, but when I for the greatest amount of rapid
look back in my journals from
that time, I talk about this yoga
actually born of the body. change of my life. He saw more
potential in me than I ever knew
class that I took and I don’t was there, and helped me to
even mention his name. create an infrastructure around
He was so innocuous and so not about the fact that he was Yoga Tune Up® so that I could reach more people. I was happy just
teaching, he just kept throwing all the inquiry back on the student, doing what I was doing- making my videos and teaching around the
which was so transformative and very powerful. The type of work world- but he was like, “You can reach so many more people than
we did was so concentrated that you didn’t have a moment to even you’re reaching and I want to help you do that.”
think about his personality or who he might be. Together we’ve created a larger company called Tune Up Fit-
He also had a rule: no questions. No talking during class. So, ness Worldwide®, Yoga Tune Up®, essentially, is our first brand that
you absolutely have to be in introspection in service of your own we’re developing. We aim to inspire many other subsets one of our
mind. I think that him with his “mental hands off of my mind” so lead teachers has already crafted a program that’s directed towards
to speak — he was not trying to indoctrinate me into any type of personal trainers called Physio Tune Up®. Some of the teachers are
method or maxims. There were no repeating sutras or any type specializing in Yoga Tune Up® for seniors and for osteoporosis, or
of dogma. It was the most generous and also confusing teaching, Yoga Tune Up® for kids.
because it’s all on you. No simple thing was going to anchor you to So meeting him has definitely been the single most catalyzing
your own soul or to your own life. You were just going to have to figure thing in my life. And I found him online! I’m a big fan of online
it out yourself. dating everybody!
I’ve written five teacher training manuals now and all of my
manuals are full of all of the questions that I had come up indirectly
through him like: “What is it to be in this body? What is it to be in
this mind?”

outside-the-box issue
6 7

What do you think the pur-

suit of happiness What’s your idea of hell?
is all about?
Lack of sleep.
Can we just talk about chocolate for a mo-
ment? On a simple level it’s really about get-
ting chocolate that has aromatics and flavor 8 9
notes and fumes that penetrate your brain
and help transport you to a moment of
bliss. And I think that that’s the pursuit of Do you long for something What’s your relationship
happiness — a dark 78 percent, really good
confection. I love chocolate.
right now? to doubt?
I think I eat chocolate to seek out that A little more sleep, and knowing that I don’t think I live in a doubt place. The
melty moment of union and bliss. You everything is completely organized for first thing that comes to mind with the re-
can’t get away from the flavor of chocolate. my next trip. Because I travel so much we lationship to doubt would be: has 48 hours
When you put it in your mouth, it just takes have to stay on top of multiple logistics for gone by after I’ve lobbed an email out there
you over and everything is that moment. I months at a time, and I get tremendously and have I not received an answer back?
think that in the pursuit of happiness there anxious when I’m leaving. Over the next For me doubt is lack of communication.
are these moments of bliss that are actually two months I’m going to be gone for about I’m a real, what is it called, “straight
born of the body. a month of that, but that is eight different shooter.” I shoot from the hip, and I really
Chocolate is a great metaphor, because cities in one month! like people to be upfront. It’s better to have
you can’t have chocolate without actu- While people may think, “Oh, Jill, you the truth than to have omissions and a
ally tasting, and tasting happens in your get travel all over!” It is great, and I love lack of clarity. So, that’s my relationship
cells and in your nervous system. I love working with different populations. But to doubt — it’s just about being a clear
moments that feel like that to me- where the days of prep that go into making sure communicator.
everything is attuned to the same frequency everything is in place is a lot of little nitty
and you just float. gritty. We have an office manager that helps
us with that but, ultimately, it’s on my back. 10

In the moments when it’s

been tough to go against the
grain, is there a person or
thought that inspired you to
keep at it?
I think about both of my parents. My
mother is the director of a synagogue in
New Orleans. After Katrina, she decided to
move back to New Orleans and to help build
Jewish identity and to build the city back
and I just look at her endurance.
That is only a small example of my
mother’s endurance. My mother has been
an educator, she’s been a small business
owner, she’s worked in mental hospitals-
she’s had a gazillion careers and she’s never
picked and chosen jobs by what package
it’s going to give her or what kind of money
she’s going to make. She’s a do-gooder.
She’s full of heart and soul.

outside-the-box issue
There have been lots of things that she’s had to face over the course of her life that
humble me. I draw great strength thinking about the sacrifices that she has made, and
continues to make, for her children.
And then I also draw great strength from my father, who is a gifted physician. He’s an
Epidemiologist at Scripps La Jolla and he’s an infectious disease specialist. There’s that
microbiology thing of being able to assess what’s really creating pain and decay in a human
body. The way he analyzes illness has always fascinated me and keeps me real on the West-
ern medical model side of things. I knew that any time I would throw out anything yogic or,
from Oriental medicine about chi or anything, that I’d get challenged by him. He forced me
to clarify things in terms that everybody else could understand.
I’m really blessed to have the endurance on one side and the fact checker and great heal-
ing artist on the other in my family.
Then there are a couple of deceased mentors who were professors of mine in college.
Two of my dance professors were actually dying while they were teaching. One was dying

of HIV, and the other was dying of spinal meningitis, but they kept teaching while they Miller is a fitness and yoga
were dying. therapy expert with more than
It was amazing to be around them, because, literally, we were getting their dying words 25 years of expertise including
as they were teaching a body movement. And I think that being around them and recog- the moving arts of Yoga, Modern Dance,
nizing the importance that they were really sharing — the distillation of what was most Pilates, Bodywork and Shiatsu. Her ground-
important at that point to them both in terms of human movement, choreography, beauty, breaking format, Yoga Tune Up® (www.
grace, connectivity, and spirituality. yogatuneup.com) playfully integrates the
nuts and bolts of human movement coupled
with profound yogic philosophy. She is a pio-
11 neer in forging conscious links between the
worlds of fitness, yoga, massage, and pain
management. Her innovative techniques
What do you think humanity needs most these days? have catapulted her to a sought after leader
in the field of mind-body fitness and pain re-
A good massage! I really think that if people took better care of themselves, they would lief wellness. She teaches her students to Live
feel better and they would be less hostile in general. We have so much tension because of Better in Their Body by empowering them
our worries, our concerns, and just the day to day stuff, that as soon as you can trick your with accessible, therapeutic approaches that
tissue into compliance for at least twenty minutes to an hour — and sometimes you can get retrofit their body from the inside out.
that result in two minutes on the Yoga Tune Up balls — you can get sedation, circulation,
and relaxation. Jill teaches workshops, trainings, confer-
Maybe with that decisions would be made a little bit more compassionately. So, get ences and retreats internationally, and her
down and roll people! Get on your Yoga Tune Up® balls! When you get circulation of blood signature class is taught by her specialized
you get your heart and your mind back in there back in there. Or you can take out the parts Yoga Tune Up® teaching team at Equinox
of your mind that have been stuck in there. All those parts that have been twangled and and other yoga and fitness facilities world-
shot- let them flow freely! I would love to see people at peace with themselves, and I think wide. Her popular Integrated Embodied
we get a piece of that peace by having openness in our tissues. Anatomy for Yoga Teachers curriculum is a
fixture at many Teacher Trainings.

Jill has been featured in Self, Prevention,

Redbook, Yoga Journal, Women’s Running,
ABC and on NPR; the LA Times calls her
“kinetically arresting.” She is a Contribut-
ing Expert at GaiamLife. Jill’s critically
acclaimed DVD series and self-care therapy
products include Yoga Tune Up®, the Prana-
maya produced Yoga Link, and Gaiam’s
Yoga for Weight Loss. She lives in Los An-
geles California with her husband and two
gigantic rescue mutts.


outside-the-box issue
outside-the-box issue
Mike dimartino

the storyteller
King of the Hill. Family Guy. Mission Hill. Avatar: The Last
Airbender. Director Mike DiMartino talks about
why stories are so meaningful in the world, and how one
decision changed his life.

What is your work and what impact

do you hope it will have?

In a general sense, my work is telling stories, primarily through animation. My

goal is to create characters and worlds that inspire kids and adults. Also, I want
to push the boundaries of what people expect from an animated television
series. Writers and artists who follow their passion have always inspired me
and I hope the work I do will similarly inspire others.
There’s a great quote by Phillip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass,
that has always stuck with me: “We need stories so much that we’re even will-
ing to read bad books to get them, if the good books won’t supply them. We all
need stories…” I think this explains why we are all willing to sit through bad
movies, TV shows, and books — we’re hungry for stories and are willing to take
any tiny morsel that is thrown at us. I hope I create stories that are accessible,
entertaining, enlightening, and most importantly, worth a person’s time.

outside-the-box issue
literally everything that’s happened in my life since, I can trace
2 to that one decision to transfer. It’s where I met so many great
friends, including Bryan Konietzko, with whom I created Avatar:
The Last Airbender. Whenever I look back on that decision, it’s
Did you ever have a period in your life when amazing to me how turning your life in a slightly different direction
you were following the status quo and what can create so many new possibilities.

did that look like?

One summer during college, I had a job as a bank teller. At the time 6
it was the most I’d ever been paid and I worked with very nice peo-
ple, but I knew I wasn’t cut out for the world of customer service.
Plus, I had to wear a tie. And when I was a kid, I had told my mom I What do you think the pursuit of happiness
never wanted to have a job where I had to wear a tie. is all about?
It’s about finding some sort of peace, contentment, and acceptance
of oneself. I’ve realized that pursuing happiness, as if it is an exter-
3 nal destination, is futile.

As someone who is living life on your own

terms, what are your terms? 7
To live without limitations, from without or within. The self-
imposed limitations (which are always false) are the ones that trip What’s your idea of hell?
me up the most.
I know “freedom” is a politically loaded word these days, but hell
for me would be if I were forced to live under a totalitarian govern-
ment where I had no personal freedoms.

How did you come to those terms? 8

Several years of therapy has helped immensely.
Do you long for something right now?
To find the discipline and inspiration to finish on a young adult
5 novel I’ve been working on for years.

What’s something that’s changed

everything for you? 9
My first year of art school, I attended Maryland Institute College of
Art. I had always wanted to go to art school and become a painter What’s your relationship to doubt?
or illustrator, even though I had always been interested in writing
and animation. Toward the end of the year, I realized I didn’t want
Oh, we’re good friends. Self-doubt is always poking its nose into my
to be at that school anymore — I didn’t like living in Baltimore and
business, telling me I’m not smart enough, talented enough, nice
although I got a lot out of my classes, I felt something was miss-
enough… Basically, not enough. In fact, that voice is here right now
ing. I visited a friend who went to Brown, thinking maybe I would
telling me these are terrible answers, but I’ll try to ignore it and
transfer to a liberal arts college and just do art on the side. While
keep writing anyway.
I was there, I decided to check out RISD (Rhode Island School of
Design) which was right down the hill. I immediately fell in love
with the place, and once I discovered they had an animation pro-
gram, something clicked. I knew I had to go there. But applications
were due that week. It seemed unlikely that I’d be able to make the
transfer happen. But I got an extension, applied, and got in. And

outside-the-box issue

In the moments when it’s

been tough to go against the
grain, is there a person or
thought that inspired you to
keep at it?
Knowing there are people in the world who
have already connected to the work I’ve
done makes it a lot easier to keep going.
And with my writing, I’ve learned that shar-
ing the work with others in a writing group
and getting their feedback really helps keep
me inspired. Even though it can be scary
and risky, and you might not always like
what people have to say, I find it valuable to
share what I do with others. Creating in a
vacuum gets lonely very quickly.


What do you think humanity

needs most these days?

When I was a kid, I had told my

Balance — Emotional, physical, political,
ethical, financial, etc. To me, finding bal-

mom I never wanted to have a

ance doesn’t mean going with the status
quo. It means trying to find some middle
ground in all this craziness and living a

job where I had to wear a tie.

little bit healthier.


Winning filmmaker, Michael DiMartino be- 2004-2008. Avatar has won many accolades, including a Genesis
gan his training at the Rhode Island School Award, several Annie Awards, and a 2008 Peabody Award. Michael
of Design where he graduated in 1996 with currently serves as Executive Producer of The Legend of Korra, a
a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in the Film and Animation Depart- sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. He resides in Los Angeles,
ment. His directing credits include the prime-time animated series California with his dog, Truman.
King of the Hill, Family Guy, and Mission Hill. He wrote, animated,
and directed the short animated film Atomic Love which screened Two of Michael’s other passions are traveling and photography.
at the 2003 Sundance and Los Angeles Film Festivals. The film He is currently writing a young adult novel about a young artist
also aired as part of the Nicktoons Film Festival on the Nicktoons who fights for artistic freedom in a fantasy version of a fascist-city
Channel. In 2002, Michael teamed with friend and co-worker, Bryan state.  Michael (jokingly) describes it as the kid-friendly version of
Konietzko to create the animated Nickelodeon series, Avatar: The The Fountainhead meets 1984.
Last Airbender, on which he served as Executive Producer and story
editor on the series, which ran for three seasons on Nickelodeon, from www.nicktoons.nick.com/shows/avatar

outside-the-box issue
jennifer louden

the welcome wagon

community of little Craftsman houses. I always swore I would

1 never live in a neighborhood like this!
The non-conformity part of my life is that I’ve been self em-
ployed since a couple of years out of college. I’ve only had two
What is your work and what impact do you straight jobs. I could have stayed in my home town and taken over
my dad’s company right out of college and I would have been mak-
hope it will have? ing $400,000.00 a year. Yet it never even occurred to me to do it.
My mission is really about bringing aliveness to the world, and I left Florida when I was nineteen to move to LA because I
always starting with myself. And doing that has been through this wanted to be a film maker. I had no idea what I was doing — I do
obsession with self soothing as a way to be able to calm ourselves not come from a creative family, I don’t even come from a family
and our natural anxiety of being alive, so that we can show up in the where people went to college. And later, I had barely read self help
world in a more alive way, and therefore do more good. books before I wrote my first one. In some ways I look back and go,
That’s still my core mission, but what I’ve become tired of is the “Whoa, that was totally non-conformist!” and on the other hand I
fact that self care nowadays it’s everywhere — I mean it’s used to have retirement, I help take care of my mom — she’s fully func-
sell Lean Cuisine! When I started talking about it in 1992 it was a tioning but I help her manage her money. I have a child. I do a lot
fairly radical idea — there wasn’t anything written about it, there of things that are pretty conventional — I just organized the food
was stuff here and there, but nobody had written a whole book on drive for Thanksgiving for my neighborhood. If you saw me in the
self care. grocery store you’d say: “There’s a nice soccer mom in her stained
In the last few years when I took a digital sabbatical, what I yoga pants.”
woke up to is the need to use this platform to wake people up to
how comfort can help us deal with our fear that our world is crash-
ing to a horrible end. We can actually use self care, comfort, and self 3
compassion to show up and to take some direct action.

As someone who is living life on your own

2 terms, what are your terms?
Kindness first of all. I think of the values I have taught my daughter
Did you ever have a period in your life when and that I see her living, as well as those that I share with my sweet-
you were following the status quo and what heart and I think kindness, friendliness, and inclusion are huge. I
see how naturally those arise out of me. Sometimes I want my val-
did that look like? ues to be so lofty, as if you can pick from a list of values and say, “I’ll
take that one and that one and that one! I’m so noble!” But when I
Oh gosh. I think my life is a mixture of conformity and non-
think about what really arises out of me it’s love, kindness, humor,
conformity. I mean if you saw where I lived you would say status
wanting to make people laugh, and wanting people to feel included.
quo. I live in a little community on an island near Seattle. That
When I teach a retreat or speak I just want to wrap my arms around
sounds pretty unique, but it’s fairly affluent and is a very safe place
everybody and make them feel safe and included.
to live- it’s not as funky as it was ten years ago. I live in a planned

outside-the-box issue
Learning is another huge value for me, along with sharing and
giving people resources. The happiest thing you could do for me is
to be in a bookstore with me and ask, “What should I read?” Oh my
gosh! That’s better than winning the lottery!

How did you come to those terms?

I think it’s by paying attention to what is, what I’ve taught my
daughter, and what gets me excited. And asking: “What are my
strengths? What are things people comment on and benefit from?”
That’s how. And age. I’m almost 50. Okay, I’m going to be 48, but
I just keep saying I’m going to be 50. I’m trying to get used to that
number. It sounds so eek!

What’s something that’s changed

everything for you?
Failure and heartbreak have been the places that have changed
everything for me more than success. When I went to film school
I probably had some kind of nervous breakdown. I don’t know for
sure, I didn’t have the tools or the language, but it was definitely
a harrowing experience and it was very, very difficult. But I got
through it and did okay.
Then trying to launch myself into the film business– I look back
at that young girl now and I think, “Oh poor thing!” I had no sup-
port, I had no idea how to do the politics, and I’m not an extraordi-
narily naturally talented person. My biggest talent is bull dogged-
ness and “don’t tell me I can’t do it”. And I could have made it as a
writer in some respects. I look at friends of mine who became very
successful- some of them were extraordinarily talented and some
of them were just like, “I’m gonna figure out the formula.” I look
I look back and I think I
back and I think I had enough intelligence and talent to do that,
but I didn’t have the courage. I was so easily convinced the mean had enough intelligence
voices were right.
Failing at that was huge. Yet out of that failure and stuckness and talent, but I didn’t
and pain came my first book, and the title came to me in a very
dramatic way. So that was another big moment.
In this decade it has been the loss of my father, the loss of my
have the courage. I was
marriage, and dealing with some pesky health issues. Those dark
places for me are my biggest influencers. I have to be careful
so easily convinced the
because I can be drawn to the dark and want to sort of fondle it. I
get to see that with my sweetheart because his thing is worry and mean voices were right.
drama. He works in big scale conservation, he’s in a new job and
he’s already moving into the director position after only a couple
of months, yet he’s looking at all the things that will go wrong and
I’m like, “But baby look! You’re finally getting to do good work after
being stuck for a few years because of politics. It’s so cool!” And

outside-the-box issue
I get to feel and taste grace
every time I walk outside the door into the sunlight.

then he does the same thing for me which is, “Hello, let’s have some
gratitude today baby. We have a roof over our head and our kids
are healthy. We have enough money in the bank to buy turkey for

What’s your idea of hell?

6 Those years after my Dad died and then my marriage ended about
a year later, I would say that was hell. Hell is also a day where I feel
like I squandered my energy on Twitter or email and I feel flat. I
What do you think the pursuit of happiness think of hell as not being able to create. Today was a good creative
is all about? day- I’m doing NaNoWriMo [in which participants write a 175
page novel in 30 days] and I love what I wrote. Not that anyone else
The word pursuit makes me want to, quite frankly, hurl. Pursuit will read it but it was fun. I love the blog post that I wrote earlier
kills me. My drive is one of the things that I inherited from my dad this week. I loved teaching last weekend. I’m getting to create right
that isn’t so great, and at times it has made me ill. It’s definitely now.
given me some regrets, yet it’s also this practical, efficient part of me. Hell would be, and hell has been, not being able to create. Not
When I think about what happiness really is I think of this Zen knowing what to say.
koan, which I don’t know by heart, but the gist of it is there’s 10,000
kinds of things that you can get and can get you in life. If you go
after them you’re in trouble; if you let them come to you then you’re 8
This stage in my life is — about seventeen times a day- remind-
ing myself to let it come to me. I don’t mean that in some kind of Do you long for something right now?
“Law of Attraction” way at all. It’s completely about life is right
here. For example, in this moment I can just feel you right on the I long to have the courage to launch this new direction in my work
other end of the phone. I can feel your intelligence, your love and and to not over complicate it. I long to have a way revealed to me
your heart- and the sun is coming through the Japanese maple in that I will be able to make a living at it, so that I can continue to
my neighbor’s yard and my dog is asleep by my side, and wow, it’s all raise my daughter and to take care of stuff like buying the Thanks-
right here! giving turkeys.
I long to travel more. I think that’s coming as Lily graduates in
a year and a half. I long to be able to experience deeper intimacy
without collapsing into my different varieties of non-intimacy. I
long to be a little healthier — I’m on that path, I’ve made that prog-
ress but I really would like even more.

outside-the-box issue
9 10

What’s your relationship to doubt? In the moments when it’s been tough to go
against the grain, is there a person or thought
We are intimate friends even when I am not loving doubt I am
trying to trample it and make it go away. I would say my doubt that inspired you to keep at it?
came through my character that I was writing yesterday. I wrote
Books, poetry. Poetry, poetry, poetry. There’s Mary Oliver right in
this very brief passage where she was talking about her deceased
front of me on the bookshelf. I need somebody else’s voice speaking
husband and when she was pregnant with twins he said something
from that place. The right quote at the right time.
like, “We need to wait until they’re born and we can look into their
I also need like minded friends even thought I don’t get to see
eyes and see their souls, and then we can name them.” And she
them in the flesh — so many of them are not here. That’s the sad-
became furious and said, “Don’t ever use that mumbo jumbo with
ness of the last decade. I left a thriving community and I underesti-
me! And don’t use that word soul.” There is a part of me that’s like
mated how hard it would be to start that again.
that character. There’s a part of me that says, “You’ve spent your
adult life in this, why didn’t you do something useful? Why didn’t
you learn to build buildings? Or to heal the sick?” And then there’s
another part of me that believes that I get to feel and taste grace 11
every time I walk outside the door into the sunlight.

What do you think humanity

needs most these days?

The experience that they can take direct action to change the
course of our planet. The experience that they are not in this alone,
and that what they do matters. And also information on what ac-
tions would be most beneficial.


Jennifer Louden has dedicated the last 19 years to asking

the question, “What happens — in your business,
relationships, writing, creativity, your life — when you find your voice?” and she
helps women to discover how they can use comfort as one way to lighten their
load so they can see who they truly are. However, don’t let the word “comfort” fool
you- she knows that it’s about so much more than chocolate and baths, and she
really speaks to the heart of what it means to find and to receive comfort.

She is the author of several books including The Life Organizer: A Woman’s
Guide to a Mindful Year, and Comfort Secrets for Busy Women, and leads mu-
litiple retreats and workshops each year. She has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey
show, and regularly contributes to magazines like Body and Soul, Shape, Yoga
Journal, and more.

Her absolute favorite name in the world is “Lilly’s mom.” She adores being in a 
relationship her sweetheart Bob, and feels very lucky to hang out with Bob’s son
Aidan. She lives on Bainbridge Island in Washington and her favorite things to
do in the world are to watch Lilly play soccer, watch her dogs romp in the Grand
Forest, curl up with Bob and a good book, create retreats for women, watch
English period movies, or write her novel. Her goal each day is to be fully and
utterly herself.


outside-the-box issue
melissa pierce

what’s happening all over the world. I know went through that experience thinking that
my interviews are all based in the United I needed to do that, even though my heart
1 States but how the world is changing and was calling for other things. I was never
how people are thinking is happening all quite satisfied with that.
What is your work and what over in all of these different small ways. I would say I transitioned out of that
gradually over the last five or six years.
impact do you hope it Everyone assumes that because I’ve made
will have?
2 this film in the last two years, I just stopped
what I was doing, picked up a camera and
That’s such a big question. Really, I’m just
made it my life. But that’s not how it hap-
searching for answers about what’s hap-
Did you ever have a period pens- at least for most people it doesn’t
pening now. I have made a film interview-
happen that way. It’s not like they make
ing people who might know a little bit more in your life when you were this big, big change overnight.
than I do about what’s happening in the following the status quo and I just interviewed people when I had
world and why it’s happening. How this
access to all this information is changing
what did that look like? time. I did decide to pick up a camera. That
was a decision, but it happened slowly. I
the way our minds work. How business Oh, certainly. Even during the making of have three children and I was homeschool-
happens. How people interact. And then the film I think there was a point where my ing my teenage son at the time, so I did this
I’m standing back taking a long look at husband said, “You really need to get a real maybe five hours a week at first, just a little
all of these interviews and mashing them job and support the family.” Then it was at a time. Everyone kept asking, “How did
together in a way that makes sense for making resumes and sending them out and you get everything done?” And I was like,
everyone. going on interviews. But even before that I “Just a little at a time.”
had worked in a couple of offices.
When I think of the impact it’s going to I did what I thought I needed to do. I
have, I hope that people get a larger sense of went to college and picked a major and

outside-the-box issue

As someone who is living life on your own terms,

what are your terms?
My terms are that I’m happy, my family is happy, and that I get to
make cool stuff and to learn about interesting things.
that was an incredibly powerful shift for everything I want to learn, everyone I want
4 me. Like, “This is my life and I drive it.” to see. Or, you know, to put my feet up and
have 20 minutes to myself every 30 minutes.

How did you come to 6

those terms? 9
I arrived at that because that’s when I am What do you think the pur-
happiest. It’s when I feel most free, and it’s suit of happiness What’s your relationship to
when I’m most productive. I get the most doubt?
back from the world when I’m giving — it’s
is all about?
going to sound a little cheesy — but when I think it’s all about the pursuit. I hate to be Oh, doubt and I, we go way back. We’re such
I’m giving my heart. I find when I’m excited the one to break it to people that it’s not the good buddies. But my relationship is that
about what I’m doing, the world just keeps destination, it’s the journey. But the journey we have an agreement that I can have doubt
giving back. That’s when I knew I had hit is pretty awesome! And the destination is around but when it’s time to get going and
the terms just right. I would follow my just frosting. to do something doubt takes a back seat and
heart and more would appear from the doesn’t drive. I don’t even set that rear view
world. Opportunity would continue to mirror to check it out.
knock. Remember, I’m not driving great dis-
You kind of know when you’re on the
7 tances. Once again, it’s just a little bit at a
right path. For a while there’s that struggle, time. I get out of the car and doubt gets out
but then you just push through it and there with me- Like I said, we’re old friends- and
is this open field of opportunity that you
What’s your idea of hell? so I check in. It’s a good thing to check in
need to take and run with it. Oh goodness gracious. My idea of hell. I sometimes. But I check in and then we go
think for me it would be to not be able to our separate ways.
seek out anything — Just no communica- Having children, they have really helped
5 tion inwards or outwards. me understand this whole a little bit at a
But I don’t know. Sometimes my idea of time thing, because with children, and I
hell is a mountain of dirty dishes. think in general, you don’t have these long
What’s something that’s periods of focus. And if you don’t recali-
brate it gets very messy. Like if you have to
changed everything for you? finish some big task. But really you have to
8 recalibrate and find out where you are in
It’s when I discovered what we just talked
about: That I would take that opportunity. that moment before you can finish some-
It’s also when I hit a point in making the thing. Maybe doubt helps you figure that
Do you long for something out just a little bit. But once again it’s not
film where I had a big metamorphosis. I
kind of reinvented who I was and who I
right now? something you cling to. You can’t hold onto
define myself as ­— I realized that I was this I work really hard at not longing for things. it because you won’t move you forward, but
filmmaker and these things were not hap- I think it kind of blocks getting that thing. it’s a good thing to check in with every once
pening accidentally. It’s not that I decided But you can’t help it sometimes. I always in awhile.
to make a film and all of these things just long for more time with loved ones. I’ll long
fell into place. And, “Aw shucks. I’m so for more information. I don’t think there’s
lucky.” I made these things happen, and enough time in the day for me to learn

outside-the-box issue

In the moments when it’s

been tough to go against the
grain, is there a person or
thought that inspired you to
keep at it?
Hmm. That I cannot even answer.


What do you think humanity

needs most these days?
I think we need a long talk around a
campfire. Get everyone all together. Give
them a cup of hot cocoa. And they can all
bio sit around and listen to each others’ stories
and realize how human we all are. Come
to some deeper understanding that we are

Melissa Pierce is a filmmaker, risk-taker, and cake-baker. She

is the producer of the interview documentary, Life in
Perpetual Beta which is about listening to your authentic self, unleashing your
all connected and we’re all in this together.
You know and I know and on the surface ev-
eryone kind of knows this but I don’t think
creativity, and living in the moment, every moment. Life in Perpetual Beta has that we remember to practice it very often.
been shown at the Chicago Independent Film Festival, The Los Angeles Holly- I was reading this book and they were
wood Film Festival, The DUMBO Arts Festival, Seattle Geek Week, Digital Capi- talking about how world changing the
tal in Washington DC, and several private venues. It garnered a Merit Award at printing press was, and they talked about
the Los Angeles Hollywood Film Festival. all that sharing of knowledge. It changed
people’s perception about how they could
Melissa is also the founder of The Optimist Lens, a production company dedi- spread and share knowledge and reach out
cated to leaving boring, uninspired video in the dust, the founder of Anywhere to one another. They said, “But here is the
Admin which helps people to find executive level virtual assistants, and is also Internet and it’s more world changing than
the founder of the Pitch Conference, which is a two day event that helps people to even the printing press!” The Internet isn’t
pitch their projects more effectively. She lives in Chicago with her husband and like the printing press, the internet is like
three children. the alphabet.
And that is the whole reason that I de-
www.lifeinperpetualbeta.com cided to find out what was happening with
www.optimistlens.com technology and people and how culture
www.anywhereadmin.com shifts. Now we are able to sit around that
www.pitchconf.com metaphorical campfire. And that’s so excit-
@melissapierce ing! Where is that going to take us!? I’m
waiting until my computer can make a cup
of hot cocoa for everyone. Let’s gather at the
campfire. Exciting times we live in.

outside-the-box issue
amber maida


outside-the-box issue
outside-the-box issue

What is your work and what impact do you hope it will have?
My work is many things: mixed media contemporary paintings, live “Paint to the Music”
performances, dance, choreography, and written musings. Most of all, it’s honest. It’s me. I
hope my art communicates a familiarity or transcendence to a time that makes them better
than they already are. Most of all, I hope it emotionally connects us all to God and our greatest
purpose. During the creation process, I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks, it is about what
I’m experiencing and feel the need to express. Selfish, but honest.

Did you ever have a period in your life when you were following the status quo and what did that
look like? What feels like a long time ago, I used to limit myself, hold back due to what I made up in my
mind as “rules.” I remember at the age of age of 8, then at 13, then at 18, etc, I broke them.
Those ages are milestones for me, if you whittle away at my core, that’s what you will find.
What did it look like? I was miserable, working terribly hard at Marathon asphalt terminal
for about a year; carrying 5 gallon buckets of +300 degree Fahrenheit liquid asphalt for viscos-
ity tests, wearing steel toe boots and a hard hat, driving tractors alongside lake Erie with tires
taller than I stood, working up to 14 hour days, that’s exactly what it looked like. The pay was
good, so somehow I justified working my ass off at a “real” job. I haven’t worked a “real” job since,
but learned a tremendous amount from it — will never forget nor regret that time in my life.
I had moments of doubt of course, but would always put myself in uncomfortable, com-
petitive arenas to face those fears and remember what it is to work hard- but doing what I’m
passionate about, to prove myself for myself. Somehow that has always lit my inspirations
afire and works for me.
I’m currently up against my greatest internal battle — recovering from lung surgery (I had
the upper lobe of my left lung removed due to a growing tumor that I’ve had since I was young)
and getting myself in the best shape of my life, while painting like mad and choreographing
pieces for upcoming work. The road to recovery is a long one, but I keep positive and reflect
on my progress since the surgery in June 2010.

As someone who is living life on your own terms, what are your terms?
My own terms... I question that more now than ever. I will state what I believe in and what
I do, since having gone through experiences in my life completely out of my control, I don’t
believe I have the ability to set terms, only to cherish my time:
Love fully, unconditionally and be open. Give more than I think I can give. Create from my
inner voice channeling my imagination- (which is unique to our species). Visually and spiri-
tually impact others in a positive, uplifting manner by all that I am and all that I create. Create
more than contemplate. Read and always learn. Finally, there are no such things as rules.

How did you come to those terms?

From when I was very young, I grew up surrounded by adults, seeing their world through a
child’s pair of glasses. I learned about the hardships of life, unconditional love, giving when
there’s little to give, forgiving, sacrifice and that above all: love and imagination are among the
most powerful things in the world. My relationship with my grandparents is just as strong as
with my parents. I was mature very early on in life, which I’m thankful for.

outside-the-box issue
5 8

What’s something that changed Do you long for something right now?
everything for you?
Personally — Meeting my husband at the age of 14, marrying him at To breathe well, to hug my family in New York and Connecticut.
19- and we’re more in love than ever after our 10 year anniversary. To create art that is bigger than me.
He saw me through lung surgery, never complaining as he slept for To have a nice cup of tea with my husband out on our terrace.
a week in a chair by my side in the hospital bed. That incredible To travel and learn more.
trust, love, and knowing someone is like magic. I believe that every To connect more, give more and love on people more.
star has it’s mate... it’s said that when a star begins to die, its mate
will give the dying star its energy to keep it alive, that is the most
beautiful thought in my life, and Pete is my star-mate. 9
Artistically — after seeing Anselm Kiefer’s exhibit/building
installation at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT back in 2006.
The works were huge mixed media pieces with lead ships housed What is your relationship to doubt?
in a building- all of which was shipped from overseas to be put
I think it’s a healthy one because I face it; however I do doubt
together on site in order to house the paintings. This concept blew
myself often. To me, doubt is nothing more than a challenge I put
my mind and to this day I am brought to tears thinking about stand-
to myself, as I’ve done throughout my life. It makes me extremely
ing in the space, in complete awe of the power of the work that the
uncomfortable. I like when I win, but even if I don’t, I’m left with
building contained. For me it reinforced the echo of there being no
a feeling of empowerment. If doubt is not challenged, I believe it
turns to fear, which is a greater monster, and harder to defeat.
Seeing David Bowie perform, hearing his voice live. His video:
“Black Tie, White Noise”.
Seeing Pilobolus perform. 10
Sharing my art for the first time publicly.

In the moments when it’s been tough to go

6 against the grain, is there a person or thought
that inspired you to keep at it?
What do you think the pursuit of happiness I do things for myself that I believe in, and half the time I don’t even
is all about? realize I’ve gone against the grain until I’m done. My husband and
my family are my inspirations, they’re incredible — each in a differ-
It’s as individual as a snowflake.
ent but mesmerizing kind of way.
In addition, I love to read biographies, especially of visual and
7 performing artists. Their journeys remind me that being in the
moment is good, and to enjoy the twists and turns along the journey
as we all have them. Everyone has baggage; it’s just a matter of how
What’s your idea of hell? we carry it and if we can continue on.

I don’t think of hell often, but I do think of heaven... much of my

art is depicting my version of heaven. Movies had and have a great
visual impact for me regarding that: What Dreams May Come,
Labyrinth, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of OZ, Edward Scis-
sorhands, Legend, The Neverending Story, and many more. They
all fuse this lovely image of what heaven could be like for me.

outside-the-box issue

What do you think humanity

needs most these days?
Love and Art.


her mixed media paintings, Amber Maida creates tactile counter-environments
that express myth and uncover the mystery hidden within reality. She juxtaposes
dualities - fragility/strength, ancient/contemporary, external/internal - to exploit
a tension where balance and meaning collide to form a coherent inner vision. Her hope is
that her images take viewers deeper within their own realm of realization.

Amber Maida’s paintings are internationally collected and represented by galleries in CT,
NY, VT, CA, and in the UK. Vermont Today called Maida’s paintings “Kandinskyesque
abstractions,” and her work has also been featured in journals including Art World News
Magazine and Ink Magazine.

At The White Space Gallery (New Haven, CT), where she was represented from 2007-2009,
her paintings hung alongside Salvador Dali’s. A suite of paintings by the artist were recently
selected by Richard’s of Greenwich for the 2009 Art to the Avenue public art exhibition. Her
work has also been included in several juried exhibitions at museums and galleries.


outside-the-box issue
Desirea rodgers

I don’t think that there is anything inher-
1 ently wrong with following the status quo. 4
I guess there are always different points
in my life when to a degree I am following
What is your work and what the status quo, but as far as vocation goes it How did you come to
hasn’t happened yet. I am very blessed to
impact do you hope it have parents that told me from a very young
those terms?
will have? age to dream big and follow those dreams, That is a long story but I think it’s a combi-
they were never concerned with the status nation of taking a huge amount of risk and
I’m an artist and an abolitionist. In 2002
quo so growing up I never thought about coming to a place where you feel you have
I co-founded a non-profit, human rights
it. My particular dreams haven’t fully fit nothing which makes you evaluate what
organization called Love146. Love146
within the status quo, although somedays I your choices are and how you are going to
combats child sex slavery and exploitation
very much wish that they did. choose to live.
and cares for survivors. As an abolitionist,
it is my hope that this work will further
the abolition of slavery/human traffick-
ing through prevention and aftercare. As 3 5
a photographer I work in different situa-
tions. Sometimes I am concentrating on the
photojournalism side, or the portrait side etc. As someone who is living life What’s something that’s
Photography communicates and with each on your own terms, what are changed everything for you?
circumstance I hope that it communicates your terms?
differently. The first trip I took to South East Asia,
The terms for my own life are relatively I was able to visit a safehome for girls
simple (but not always easy). Love. Be true that had been rescued from sex slavery. I
2 to myself. And, remember grace. remember standing in a room with about 25
I think the greatest adventures (and girls. Next to me was a staff member of the
some very odd circumstances) have really safehome, she began to tell me story after
Did you ever have a period come from these points. story of what these girls had been through.
Each story was more dark and twisted
in your life when you were and inhuman than the one before. I kept
following the status quo and thinking, I wish I never knew these stories.
what did that look like? I wanted to leave, I wanted to go home and

outside-the-box issue
Hope changed everything. It is a creator, a builder,
It is a power that reaches inside and says yes.
live a “normal” life. I was overwhelmed by
hopelessness. I was overwhelmed by the 9
largeness of slavery. Then, one of the girls
started to sing, another girl joined in and
another, and then they began to dance and What’s your relationship
they invited us to dance with them. I stood
in the middle of these children and watched
to doubt?
as they sang, danced and laughed. It was I doubt all of the time. Some of it is healthy,
then that I knew that if they could have some of it not. Friends are usually the ones
hope, then I could. who help ground me when I need it. The
Hope changed everything. It is a creator, healthy kind of doubt usually ends up being
a builder, it is a power that reaches inside expressed somehow in personal photogra-
and says yes. phy projects.
6 10

What do you think the pur- In the moments when it’s

Rodgers is a Co-Founder of
suit of happiness been tough to go against the Love146 and currently works as
is all about? grain, is there a person or the Creative Director. Love146
thought that inspired you to combats child sex slavery and
I think the pursuit of happiness is a neutral
exploitation and cares for
concept, it’s about how you define happi- keep at it? survivors. Desirea is a profes-
ness, how you prioritize, how you pursue it
There are so many people (my husband sional photographer based out
and how you use it.
especially) that inspire me on a daily basis. of New Haven, CT and has had
If you’re going to go against the grain you work published in magazines,
need inspiration. With every person, quote, books, album artwork and online
7 piece of art etc. that inspires me there is sources. She also hates writing
one thing that most often comes to mind, her bio and would much rather
it’s a quote by Jane Austen “Go mad as often get to know you over a cup of
What’s your idea of hell? as you choose but do not faint.” choice beverage.

Acceptance of a life that is less.

Apathy, both living in it and/or being
around people who live in it. 11 @pennybird
Being trapped.

What do you think humanity

8 needs most these days?
I wish I could answer that question! It is
Do you long for something not by any means comprehensive but I
think today I will say thankfulness.
right now?
Yes but they seem contradictory and I’m
not sure how to reconcile them. I long for
more time to get more work done and I also
long to stop doing so much and learning
better how to focus in on the moment.

outside-the-box issue
chris guillebeau

“I’ve learned that the pursuit of pleasure,
or the pursuit of building your own amaz-
ing life that’s strictly focused on your-
self, is ultimately a fleeting thing.”

has an offline component with the book and and to be able to create positive change in
1 also with meet-ups and the different things their life.
that I’m doing. I’m fortunate that I can So within that parameter it’s deliber-
basically spend most of my time doing what ately broad. I have a lot of readers who
What is your work and what I want, which is writing and connecting are self-employed or who are interested
impact do you hope it with people and hearing fun stories about in entrepreneurship. I have readers who
will have? their projects. are interested in travel, students who are
Ultimately, in terms of impact, my trying to figure out what to do with their
Well, I say that I’m a writer, a traveler and goal with the project is to help people live lives, older, retired people who are trying to
an entrepreneur. A few years ago, I started unconventional, remarkable lives. I want see what’s next. It’s really a broad group in
this Art of Non-Conformity project, which to help people take action to overcome the terms of impact. I’m interested in helping
was initially an online project, and now it fear and uncertainty that most of us have to create positive change.

outside-the-box issue
outside-the-box issue
For those of us in the West-
ern part of the world, the ex-
As someone who is living life on your own
ternal things are often fairly terms, what are your terms?
easy to deal with but the I would say my first terms are freedom and independence. I want
to not just establish my own schedule but establish my own priori-
internal things are underes- ties on how I like to spend my time and to choose what projects I’d
like to work on. I try to orient my life around that.

timated. So I think under- But then ultimately I’ve also learned that the pursuit of plea-
sure, or the pursuit of building your own amazing life that’s strictly

standing what we’re doubt-

focused on yourself, is ultimately a fleeting thing. It’s kind of like
going on vacation; If you go on vacation for a couple of days it’s re-
ally nice but then, if you’re like me, by the third day you’re ready to
ful of, what we’re scared of, do something else — you’re ready to actually do something instead
of to just sit around. So I would say my first goals, or my first terms,
and what we’re insecure are freedom and independence. After that it’s connection, contri-
bution, and hopefully doing something that makes that impact that

about is really important. we talked about in the first question.

So freedom, independence, connection, community, adventure.
I really like pursuing different adventures, like visiting every coun-
try in the world, or all 50 states like I’m doing now. Whatever I’m
excited about at the moment.

How did you come to those terms?
Did you ever have a period in your life when
It was a process. I’m 32 right now, and starting at age 19 or 20 I real-
you were following the status quo and what ized that I wasn’t a good employee and I just didn’t like the idea of
did that look like? working for someone else. I was always very ADD and into all kinds
of different things and having trouble sticking with something.
I don’t think I was ever a status quo follower. I had kind of a rough
A couple years later I was depressed after 9/11, like everybody
childhood, and in the end that was probably good for me. It wasn’t
else, and ended up moving to West Africa. I spent about four years
so good when I was growing up and my parents were living in dif-
volunteering for a medical charity. That was a very transformative
ferent places, and I was getting in trouble and getting arrested for
experience and shaped my worldview on a lot of things.
stealing cars and all kinds of things. I don’t know if I actually wrote
Then I felt guilty about skipping high school and rushing
about that in the book, but that’s part of my juvenile delinquent
through college, I felt like maybe I missed something, so after
I moved back from Africa in 2002 I went to grad school at the
Then I never really went to high school, but went to college
University of Washington for a couple of years. I don’t necessarily
instead- which is a long story which I do get into in the book. After
think I learned a whole lot from the graduate school curriculum or
that I ended up moving overseas. Add to that that I’ve never been a
the official program, but a couple of years doing that were probably
very good employee, so I have always supported myself through all
good for me. So I’d say it was a 10-year process that culminated in
kinds of different entrepreneurial projects. So, no, I don’t think I’ve
starting the Art of Non-Conformity project.
ever really followed the status quo.
But I would say that there was definitely a long time when I
really wasn’t doing anything exciting or independent. I wasn’t
actually creating change or doing anything positive. I had a lot of
fear of putting myself forward and trying to get ideas out there. So
there were definitely a couple of years where I had the idea of doing
something for the better to help people. I was a little bit scared to
do it, so thankfully I was able to overcome that at some point.

outside-the-box issue
Hell would be doing the same thing over and over. Like Albert
5 Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over
and expecting different results.
Or doing boring things- being stuck somewhere whether physi-
What’s something that’s changed cally or in some kind of emotional hellish state.

everything for you?

Definitely the first thing would be moving to Sierra Leone in 2002. 8
That was really just a big thing. I’d never been to Africa, though I
had traveled a fair amount before that. But moving to the poorest
region in the world in a post-conflict country was something that I Do you long for something right now?
obviously I hadn’t done. That experience was really transformative
and challenging, difficult and frustrating — but also very good! It I definitely don’t long for balance, I’m not interested in trying to
was emotionally rewarding over time. create the most balanced life. I’m really having a lot of fun being
In the past year or two as I’ve figured out what I’m doing with relatively unbalanced. It’s been great to do 11 events in 11 days. I
the AONC project- I am clearer about the goals and who I’m trying probably can’t do it all the time, and I probably do have to take some
to reach- I’ve begun hearing a lot more stories from people who time off, but mostly I long for more adventures and I’m really curi-
have engaged with the project which has also changed a lot of ous to see where all of this is going to end up — and so I long to keep
things. In the beginning I had a small vision, but then people come things going and to keep having fun. For the most part I don’t spend
along and engage and contribute, which helps grow the vision. So any time doing things I don’t enjoy doing, so since I’ve been able to
things have definitely changed a lot because of that too. do that, I long to just keep that going and to see what happens.
Right now with the Unconventional Book Tour it’s a period of
personal growth for me as well. I’m kind of a shy person, and now
I’m doing this tour in every state. I just finished doing 11 events 9
in 11 days and today’s my first day off in 12 days. But it’s good. I
feel like I’m doing things that I like to do and I’m connecting with
people who are like-minded and doing fun stuff. So it is growth and What’s your relationship to doubt?
it is change, but it’s the good kind!
Well, doubt and I have a long-term relationship. We’ve been to-
gether for a long time. Doubt along with uncertainty, fear, anxiety,
and insecurity.
6 Often when people are trying to decide whether to take the
leap and do something, they identify a lot of external problems or
obstacles. I tend to think that those things are relatively easy to
What do you think the pursuit of happiness overcome usually, at least for those of us who are privileged. For
is all about? those of us in America, or the Western part of the world, the exter-
nal things are often fairly easy to deal with but the internal things
Joseph Campbell wrote a lot about this and he said that mostly are underestimated. So I think understanding what we’re doubtful
what we’re looking for is the sense of being alive. We’re looking for of, what we’re scared of, and what we’re insecure about is really
the sense that we’re actually doing something and hopefully, again, important.
something for good. But even if it’s just something for ourselves – So doubt and I have been acquainted for a long time and, like I
actually feeling alive as opposed to going through the motions. said earlier, I thought about having some kind of writing career and
And it’s very easy — even for non-conformists, even for people pursuing that for a long time, but I never really did. It took me until
who are self-employed or whatever- to get stuck in patterns and I was 29 or 30 before I finally decided to stop doing random things-
habits and just do things because that’s what they’ve always done. which were all fun, but there wasn’t really any big convergence
Certainly I’ve done the same thing. So, I think the pursuit of happi- point- and finally go ahead with a dream that I’d had for a long time.
ness is in part the pursuit of growth and the pursuit of meaning, the The way I overcome doubt is to refuse to let it make my deci-
pursuit of what’s next, what’s new, and how can we bring that into sions for me. And it’s always there! For example this book tour,
our lives. I had to ask myself, “Do I really want to do all 50 states? Can I
manage that?” Not just the logistics of it, but my introversion and
overcoming whatever goes wrong — can I really do that? And so I
7 definitely have a lot of doubt, but the way I overcome it is that I just
say I’m going to do something. I put it out publicly, and then I have
to figure out how to make it happen. The good thing about doing 11
What’s your idea of hell? events in 11 days is that there’s no time to really freak out, and so I
just go through the 11 days.

outside-the-box issue

In the moments when it’s been tough to go

against the grain, is there a person or thought
that inspired you to keep at it?
I don’t know if there’s one person or if I have one role model. If I
had to pick one it would be the surgeon from California that ended
up inspiring me to move to West Africa. He was a guy that could
have done very well for himself and had an amazing career in the
states, and instead he ended up moving to West Africa where he
met his wife, another volunteer, and they have kids and they’ve
been there I think 19 or 20 years now. I always think about him
when I’m just having fun and going around and doing my stuff
because he’s still there. So he’s a great guy I think of.
But I also think of my readers and the people who are part of
the AONC project now, because there are so many. And it’s not
just that there are so many in terms of numbers, it’s the quality of
the people. They are really amazing as are the projects that they’re
bio doing. So I think of Brooke Thomas and I think of other fun people
all over the world.

Chris Guillebeau is a writer, world trav-

eler, entrepreneur, and lifelong
learner. Chris writes at www.
chrisguillebeau.com, is the author of the book The Art
of Non-Conformity, is currently touring every state in
the United States and every province in Canada on his
Unconventional Book Tour, and will be hosting the first
What do you think humanity
World Domination Summit in June of 2011. He’s also on needs most these days?
a mission to travel to every country in the world before
his 35th birthday — out of 192 he’s visited 151 so far! Well, humanity is kind of broad, you know? So I guess it depends. I
worked in West Africa and that’s a different kind of humanity there
Chris has been featured in the New York Times, Psy- in the sense that the developing world is a lot different than the
chology Today, Anderson Cooper’s 360, MSNBC, and in Western world.
many other media outlets. When he’s not on the road, he In terms of the developing world, people need freedom to make
lives with his wife in his adopted city of Portland, Oregon. their own choices. They need to have access to clean water, sanita-
tion, and the ability to send their kids to school, along with the
www.chrisguillebeau.com opportunities that the rest of us already have in terms of thinking
@chrisguillebeau about what kind of work we would like to do and how can we create
freedom for ourselves.
I think that’s important to say that first — a lot of people don’t
really have this kind of freedom that we have. But then for those
of us who are in the more privileged group, I think humanity needs
more independent thinking. Humanity needs more people step-
ping back and taking a look at the decisions that other people are
making and being more intentional about whether they want to do
those things in terms of their career, their education, and how they
spend their time. And if they then say, “Yep, we’re pretty happy.
We’re doing the right stuff and let’s go back to it”, then that’s great.
But I think other people will want to do something different and I
think that’s also great. The more people who can do that, the more
people who can really get clear about their intentions and try to live
more consciously, I think so much the better.

outside-the-box issue
lissa boles

the soul
I have to nod to Seth Godin and Patty Digh because both of them, in very different but
1 related ways, posed a question late last year that really had me step back and ask myself,
“What is this thing I do? What is my work?”
The question was, “What is your art?” I had never thought about the work that I do
What is your work and what in terms of art until that question was posed. However when I let myself think of this as
impact do you hope it a work of art, that’s what really brought this to life for me: that as long as I am engaged in
dynamic, and somewhat provocative conversations with committed people who want to
will have? know how to fulfill their life’s purpose so that their life, and the lives of everyone around
them, are enriched, that’s my work. I use astrology but it’s one hue in the color scheme of
my work.

outside-the-box issue

Did you ever have a period in your life

when you were following the status
quo and what did that look like?
Oh yeah, I don’t know many people who haven’t. The
way I look at it is that following the status quo is kind
of our apprenticeship. We can’t know what our heart
wants to change about the status quo unless we’ve lived
inside of it and hated it for a while. We need to really
know what it is we hate, and to be honest about why
we hate it, and what it costs both ourselves and other
people. You don’t know what you want to bring your
heart to and make art with if you don’t know that one.
So yes, I’ve lived the status quo and there are still places
where I continue to do so — where I work to bring love
and art to. There are places where I’m not quite free yet
and that’s okay.
When I was really mired in the status quo the
parameters I lived within professionally were learning
my trade, which is coaching, in one of the most extreme
parameter settings you possibly can get. It was very
prescriptive. In fact, I actually followed a script. The
idea behind it all was that the process worked, that my
job was to trust the process, not tinker with it.
At first the process was very comfortable, because it
gave me something else to make responsible. However,
on the plus side it gave me a framework. It was less
We’re attempting to fix peo- scary to leap into it but it wasn’t long before I started
to chafe, and that chafing told me some of the things I
ple, not help them be who needed to know about what I liked, what I didn’t, and why.
It was a very interesting position to be in: life coach-

they could be, and that cre- ing in order to help free people so they can be the most
creative them they can be, but limited by parameters

ates imbalance and all kinds that you’re not allowed to break. That was how I en-
tered entrepreneurship as a professional coach, living
within very extreme parameters and being told there
of yuck stuff, so respect is were things I absolutely could not do or I’d risk my
license and my certification.
fundamental with me and I Finally I got to the point where I had to decide that
I was going to say goodbye to both of them so I could

wish there was more of it. practice the way my heart wanted me to and break out
of the status quo. It was terrifying and liberating at the
same time.

outside-the-box issue
If you trust the people you’re working with, or the
people that you’re helping, and tap into their own
natural capacity and help them to trust themselves
with that capacity, then things become expansive
and generous.
go to bring more to the conversation, there’s always more that you can extend
3 without feeling like you’re going to tip over.
Without that my “art” is not really possible: artful relationships, artful
connections, and artful conversation that actually help a person live the life
As someone who is living life they’re meant to. It can’t really happen unless there’s real generosity around
that issue.
on your own terms, what are
your terms?
Interestingly I respect parameters. I’ve
chafed against them but I also respect
them, because without reasonable limits How did you come to those terms?
creation can be really ungrounded. It can
just fly all over the place and not really have
Painfully. By living the opposite, actually. It goes back to what we started with-
a place in the world to plant itself.
living inside those very restrictive parameters. I didn’t find a lot of respect or
It’s easy to be creative, it really is, when
generosity, and underneath both of those, trust and love were lacking. If you
you don’t have any guidelines or intelligent
trust then you can work with all kinds of parameters without feeling like you’re
parameters. So while too many is a little on
going to choke and you can set them artfully and respect them more.
the nutso side, parameters are also really
If you trust the people you’re working with, or the people that you’re help-
healthy and very good, so I have a great
ing, and tap into their own natural capacity and help them to trust themselves
respect for them and I actually apply them
with that capacity, then things become expansive and generous.
more consciously than I ever have before.
And the word “love” gets thrown around an awful lot and it can seem a little
The other is respect. I may offend some
meaningless, but when you’re doing artful work and respect and generosity are
people in saying this but in my humble
there, and the right parameters are present, I think it’s actually harder not to
opinion there isn’t an awful lot of respect,
love than it is to love.
genuine respect, for the living process in
So all of those standards came as a by-product of living into my own appren-
somebody’s life. There really isn’t. And
ticeship with the status quo.
in the coaching profession — and I love
my profession and have great respect for
my peers and the institutions that help us
learn our craft — but until it’s really brought 5
to life with respect for the process that’s
behind everything, the art doesn’t really
happen. We’re attempting to fix people, not What’s something that’s changed everything for you?
help them be who they could be and that
A number of years ago when I was feeling really lost and very flotsam-like, and
creates imbalance and all kinds of yuck
I had no idea what this crazy thing called life actually was, I ran across a book
stuff, so respect is fundamental with me
in a bookstore in the Atlanta airport. It felt like it was chasing me, not in a bad
and I wish there was more of it.
way, but every time I turned around I kept bumping back into this book and it
The third is generosity of spirit. Gen-
drove me crazy! I finally picked it up and was ticked off because the title of the
erosity is a word that people don’t really
book was Conversations With God. At that point me and God, we didn’t like
understand — it’s taken me a long time
each other very much. God was as good as a four-letter word.
and I’m still dancing with what “generos-
So I picked it up and turned it over mainly to prove to myself that it was
ity of spirit” really is. To me it is knowing
junk, that the cover would confirm that my attraction to this book was point-
that you’re always going to have enough to
less, and yet from the first sentence I was changed, literally.
offer, that there’s always a place you can

outside-the-box issue
I don’t remember moving, but when I surfaced again I found When I stood that day in that bookstore and read the back jacket
that I had moved about 25 feet and I was standing at the check-out my heart melted, and that’s the day my life really began. In a strange
with the book in my hand, and tears running down my face because way what I lived until that moment was a version of hell. That’s my
what I read on the jacket was so moving and so true. Although my take on hell. You don’t have to go anywhere, you can just carry it
mind couldn’t get itself around why it was true, I’d made the deci- around with you.
sion and moved without consciously tracking it.
I walked from the bookstore to the gate reading the book, and I
didn’t stop reading it until I was done. I was up all night. I read it on 8
the plane, I read it in the cab, I just kept going straight through until
I was done, and that was really the delineation point for my whole
life. There was life before and life after. Do you long for something right now?
I long for more of us to know that. My take on purpose is if more of
6 us were living that thing — and it’s actually an intelligent constel-
lation of things that make us completely alive and artful in how we
live our lives with ourselves and with each other- that we would
What do you think the pursuit of happiness have a happier, healthier, more sustainable world.
That’s what I yearn for, and that’s why my life is dedicated to
is all about? what it is.
Well I have a very particular opinion about that! My take on it is
happiness is fulfilling your purpose. That’s really the beginning and
end of it. Purpose isn’t simply something you live in your work or 9
your business. Your purpose is meant to be fulfilled through every
area of your life, it’s holistic and comprehensive. In the same way
that that moment with that book, all those years ago, changed my What’s your relationship to doubt?
life, with a 360 degree “Aha!” and things were brought to life in
ways that are so appropriate, nourishing, exciting, and passionately I respect it now. I don’t always like it when it comes calling, so
engaging. To me that’s the epitome of happiness. there are times when I have a bit of a fair weather friend relation-
You have inside and out exactly what makes you happy. I love ship with it, but it has become a guide for me. If I hadn’t had such
myself for putting myself all in my life. Because I want to, not an ambivalent or pissed off relationship with doubt in the early
because I have to. I love the work I do and I love the heart I do it years of my professional training, I might not have needed to be in-
with. I would do this for nothing and be just as happy. I would. The side the status quo as long as I was. I might have trusted myself more.
fact that I get paid to do what I do, Pfftt! Maraschino cherries and So if it’s self-doubt and it’s deeply-present, then there’s often
whipped cream, baby! a good reason for it but we tend to make that reason wrong and
ourselves wrong for feeling it instead of exploring it with curiosity
and thankfulness. Doubt is when we’ve just sent ourselves a signal
to help ourselves know where we need to go grow someplace; where
7 we may need to ask some new questions. I find that if I’m doubting
myself there’s probably a good reason and that it likely needs some
attention and artfulness from me. However, I can’t tell you I don’t
What’s your idea of hell? fight it sometimes! It can be very inconvenient to feel doubtful, but
Not living that. when I respect it something different happens and instead of being
I don’t advocate for religion so much as I stand for a connection torn up I’m directed, and instead of being kicked in the head and
with that thing that we have found no other word to describe other made to feel like a piece of meat, I’m actually shown where I need
than the word, “God.” I still don’t know what that is. I don’t. I think to bring some attention and my life just gets more graceful.
what it is is so big, and so unknowable in ordinary terms, that to say
anything other than that would just not be honest. However, I do
know that It does exist because I have seen, felt, and experienced
too much that tells me that It does exist for me not to know that.
I know that It is benevolent and deeply wise, and is alive in
everything, and It wants us to partner with it- but we are partnered
with It and we don’t often understand that or know how to partner
with It more effectively.
And so my version of hell is being unaware; having a door some-
where in our heart closed to that because of labels or names, or
negative and hurtful experiences.

outside-the-box issue

In the moments when it’s been tough to go

against the grain, is there a person or thought
that inspired you to keep at it?
Well both my husband, partner, and the love of my life, and the chil-
dren he entrusted to me — I’m a step-parent. When I feel doubtful
or challenged I remember the trust they placed in me, making room
for me in a family that was complete unto itself. They didn’t have to
do that and it required extraordinary things of them. My husband
was a widower and both of the children that he entrusted to me had

lost a mom, so whenever I find myself facing real difficulty or chal- called ‘the purpose
lenge I tend to come back and remember their faces. If they can do GPS’, Lissa Boles is
that, I can do anything. the originator of The
There’s also a question from Conversations With God that I go Soul Map™ process, and CEO of Soulfull-
back to often. I grit my teeth through it sometimes, but it’s really filled Living, a company dedicated to helping
simple and it helps me re-orient myself — the question is, “What people discover their life’s purpose and walk
would love do?” As in, if you let love decide what would love do? It’s their unique path to joy, fulfillment and
so direct. It cuts through the bullshit pretty fast! transformation.

Wise & deeply skilled, veteran Purpose

11 Coach Lissa Boles breaths fresh new life into
the ancient art of archetypal astrology, mak-
ing the mysterious magically make sense
What do you think humanity in brand new ways. Her contemporary take
needs most these days? on it, called Soul Mapping™, allows anyone
to discover what their life purpose is and
That question: “What would love do?” I think we also need more map out the plan they designed long ago for
of the truth- and I understand this is all a personal bias, so take it living it.
with a grain of salt- but I think respect, trust, generosity and love.
I think that if we respected each other and the process that’s alive As a speaker, teacher, master purpose coach
in every person’s life, I think if we trusted ourselves and each other and Soul Mapper, Lissa has spent a decade
more, and I think if we were capable of generosity; not give to get crafting this uncannily accurate process,
but authentic generosity, and if we asked that question more often, drawing on years of research and study,
“What would love do?” I think the world would change. I think it unlocking the mysteries of purposeful and
would be easier to make art from life. I just do. transformative success.
We would have less reason to doubt and to hide from each other
and all the rest of that crap, and it would be so much easier to live Formerly CKDO’s Small Business Big Idea’s
the reason why we came. talk-radio co-host, Lissa is the only Ca-
nadian personally trained by Debbie Ford
to obtain all three mastery certifications
offered through The Institute of Integrative
Coaching at JFK University.

Together with her husband and company

CFO, Randy Boles, Lissa lives and works
from their cottage home on the Canadian
shores of Lake Huron.


outside-the-box issue
Megan Elizabeth Morris

the growth

outside-the-box issue

What is your work and what impact

do you hope it will have?
My goal is to make a sustainable living by helping
smart people produce their brilliant ideas. The
three facets that are the most important to me in
everything that we [Idea Schema] do are: A— if we
can’t make a sustainable living doing it we’re not
going to be able to help people for very long and
we’ll have to go work at McDonald’s or something.
B— we like to work with people who are already
starting to make strides for themselves; people
who are making an effort to do what needs to be
done. Even people who are completely confused
from the beginning, if they show any kind of initia-
tive and willingness to do the legwork and they just
need a helping hand, that’s who we want to help.
There are a lot of people who aren’t even interested
in taking it that far.

outside-the-box issue
Lastly, as far as brilliant ideas go, I’m
leaving that open because I don’t care what
it is.
In many cases we put a lot of focus on
the positive impact that projects will make-
I want to see things happen that make a
difference for the people in the world and in
people’s situations. As many of those people
as I can boost by teaching them to fish
instead of handing them the fish — that’s
really what we’re going for.

Did you ever have a period

in your life when you were
following the status quo and
what did that look like?
Well I tried. It didn’t work very well. Up
until a certain point, in high school or
sometime early in college, I was not aware
or thinking critically about anything that
was going on. I was sort of asleep — going After a bunch of years of trying to pretend that I was something that I wasn’t I decided
through the motions and doing what people that it wasn’t worth it; there was no way that it was worth it to go through these motions
told me. There was a moment, I don’t know and to try and pretend when it was making me miserable. That’s when I decided if I can’t
when it was, when I woke up and started ac- accomplish this doing it my way then it won’t be worth it.
tually thinking about where I was and what After I made that decision everything got better. More clients. More successful proj-
I was doing and asking questions. Before ects. Happier Megan. Everything was much better.
that point I would say that that falls into the Even in the case of Megan Makes Music, that came about because I’ve been active in a
status quo category. mild fashion in music for many years but for long stretches of time music would get put on
There was also a long period of time the back burner because I was doing Idea Schema type work- I was doing all of this really
after I started doing design work where I creative, out of the box stuff, and all the while there is part of my head going, “You can’t do
tried really hard to be the “right” kind of music right now because you don’t have the resources to do it the way they told you you had
business. I tried really hard to be every- to do it.” And so I just let it go.
thing that everybody told me about: “You Then in the last year I realized holy shit! I can’t believe that I’ve just been letting myself
do this and you are a professional business. abide by: “I don’t do the music the way I want so I just can’t do it at all.” I would compete
You go and network in these ways and you every eight or nine months, and I’d have some gigs here and there, but I wasn’t singing
wear business type clothing and you speak regularly because I thought that it just couldn’t be done the way I wanted it to be done.
about your business in certain ways.” That When I started the Megan Makes Music project I realized, “Wow, that’s really stupid.
led to me running this one woman shtick Let’s show them that it is possible to do it in a completely different way and let’s see what
and saying the word “we” all the time as if happens when I do it!” It began as a community patronage experiment to see what kind of
there were more people involved- because base can be built around an artist who is willing to just do it her way. That’s what I’m doing
nobody would take me seriously otherwise. now and it’s in progress so we’ll see how it goes.
I was awful at it.

outside-the-box issue
The idea that I can’t get off my ass and
accomplish something just because it looks 6
hard is absolutely ridiculous. And I kind
of apply that to other people too. If I see
other people just saying, “Oh it’s too hard” What do you think the pur-
and not giving it a try, even if that means an
enormous amount of work, that’s very frus-
suit of happiness
trating to me and I’m not okay with that. is all about?
I think the pursuit of happiness is about
what you can accomplish when you’re okay.
4 If you’re unhappy you can’t perform at po-
tential. We all have our moments. Anybody
who has found themselves in a desperate
How did you come to situation knows that in some cases it’s just
those terms? not about whether you’re happy or unhap-
py; it’s about “Oh my God, I have to do this
I think that it was a process of finding my- and there is no other option” so I do it.
self unhappy and having to make a decision But I think for most of our lives there is
about staying unhappy or doing something a big question as to what we are capable of
else. Making inquiries into the situation, when we optimize the situations that we
the more it was really clear that I am never find ourselves in. So if I can be happy and
stuck in that place. Nobody is ever stuck in figure out what makes me function well,
that place. It’s just a question of how you’re and what keeps my emotions in balance,
looking at the situation and how you can then I can do much more amazing things
create options for yourself. than I could if I let myself stay in situations
I became very good at listening to what where I was frustrated.
was really going on in my head and sorting Each of us can do things to change the
3 through the bits and pieces that said I was world, to change people’s situations and to
reacting to this this way, when maybe I was make people’s lives better. We can move our-
reacting that way because somebody a long selves forward in terms of the human race.
As someone who is living life time ago told me that that’s how it had to be We can do so much more of that if we
on your own terms, what are done, and I just ran with that assumption. find happiness for ourselves in the way that
your terms? I think everything that’s happened to me works for us. We accomplish more, we’re
over the last ten years has been a matter of more productive, we’re more fascinating,
I must ask questions. Must, must, must ask that progression of things. and we live more creative lives.
questions. If anything is presented to me as
true I question whether or not there might
be another way to do it. 5 7
Unhappiness is — not quite — but really
almost completely unacceptable. If there is
an unhappiness quotient in what’s going on What’s something that’s
then I always have to seriously look and see
What’s your idea of hell?
if it is really worth it. I also really believe in
changed everything for you?
I am a big believer that there is always a
a balance of emotions, I do believe that we The thing that I mentioned before — when I way out of things, however people definitely
go through our lives and it is good to experi- reached the end of my rope in terms of try- get into these rock and a hard place situa-
ence negative emotions because it is part of ing to be what people said businesses were tions. I visited somebody recently who was
who we are, but there needs to be balance. supposed to be: your traditional, run of the living in a very difficult situation — I don’t
I think too many people assume their mill, American small business. Reaching want to give away a lot of details of what
lives need to be about these negative emo- that point and giving up on it was a really was going on for them, but I tried to help
tions just because that’s how life is, and good thing. them out and to make a little bit of a differ-
that’s not true. You find the positivity in ence. I think that was really close to my idea
what you’re doing at that moment because of hell — being in that situation and know-
you learn to find it, not because it’s not ing that there is a very limited capability
there or because you just don’t get to live to actually solve the problem. I hate to say
that life. I think that’s bullshit. this but occasionally you’re in a situation

outside-the-box issue
where you have to say, “There’s nothing that talk to somebody at a store they would be all
can be done about this for a few months. 9 friendly like they knew each other and they
We’re just going to have to tough this out for would just hang out for a while. He would
right now and let time do what time does.” really listen to them and they would feel
And then your options will open up again. What’s your relationship to like they were important. Then he would
It’s like being sick for instance. I’ve had say, “That’s awesome, really nice talking to
situations where I’ve had the flu, and for
doubt? you, see you later!” And he would start to
two weeks I feel the most awful I’ve felt I still have a very complex relationship with head out and they would have to stop him:
and there is nothing I can do about it until doubt. I’m not sure if it ever goes away. I “Dude, do you want me to buy some furni-
it runs its course. You just have to suck it would really like to meet the person who ture!?” And so I grew up hearing stories
up until your body is ready to start healing doesn’t doubt themselves. like that all the time and not really knowing
again. I think that’s how the folks I visited I think it may have been Tim Brownson what it all meant; just sort of looking up to
felt and it’s also how I felt when I was there who said to me once — okay, if I misquote this person.
It’s very difficult for me to be in a situa- him nobody get mad at me — “Everybody When I got older I started to hear more
tion where I can’t act, and I’d say that really feels this way. The person who doesn’t feel about his life. They lived in very hard times
is my idea of hell. It really is scary but it’s a little bit of self doubt, the person who and I would hear things about how he and
not a permanent state. I don’t think we’re doesn’t feel a little bit uncertain of them- my grandmother responded to awful situ-
stuck in anything forever. selves, they’re psychopaths.” ations like being completely broke, having
So what I take away from that is know- $5.00 in their pocket. I have come to think
ing that it is totally reasonable and normal of him when things are really hard — I think
8 to feel self doubt and doubt in your projects. their life was so much more difficult than
It is alright to worry a bit about what might mine in so many ways.
happen and whether you did it wrong. I have an apartment, I keep my electric-
Do you long for something Over time what I have gotten better at is ity on. In general, we have so many options
going through and processing those feelings now that people didn’t have then. And if
right now? I am going to be defeated by my situation,
of doubt more quickly. So it’s the same pro-
Somewhere in the last three or four years cess as it was before when I was less good how can I even look myself in the eye when
I absolutely started feeling this intense at it, and I’m certainly not as good at it now I know that grandpa Mack accomplished
desire to help. To a certain extent you could as I would like to be, but you look at it and all this stuff from scratch- and he ended up
say that the things I’ve done between then you say: “All right, it’s good that I’m feeling doing very well- just because he was very
and now was all meant to answer this feel- that way because it means I really care personable and he good at what he did. He
ing that I was having. I would see people about this thing”, and you learn what you really cared about people and he made an
struggling and in situations where didn’t can from that feeling for a few minutes and effort. He just got back up and he did shit.
understand how to get out of them and I then you say, “All right, that is good, we’ve When I say it all like that it makes it
would look at them objectively and think got it, we understand what it is, now let’s sound like the quintessential hard times
“But you could do this and you could do put it away and accomplish something.” “my grandfather came to this country…”
this.” There are so many things that people The faster I can move through that little story, but it’s great for me because I didn’t
don’t realize are possible. dialogue in my head the more I feel bal- really understand it when I was younger,
The longing doesn’t really go away, but it anced and the less doubt has the opportu- and just in the last few years or so I got a
feels better to me if I can produce more shit nity to overcome me. more complete idea of what his story was
that makes a difference for people. There and now it really does mean that to me. It’s
are all these philosophical view points that not just somebody’s cliché. It comes up in my
head and I think, “Yeah, Megan, suck it up.”
talk about human suffering and what it 10
means, but at the end of the day we’re put
here to make a difference for one another,
we’re put here to hold each other’s hand In the moments when it’s
and to not be alone in this thing and to see
what amazing things can come out of that. I
been tough to go against the
think that’s what’s been driving me at a very grain, is there a person or
fundamental level for a long time. thought that inspired you to
keep at it?
I grew up hearing about my grandpa Mack-
mainly how he was such a good listener and
how he really cared about people. He was
a furniture salesman and when he would

outside-the-box issue

What do you think humanity needs most these days?

Each other. We are all being ridiculous! I posted on my blog about The way we interact, or don’t, with strangers is evidence of
this the other day, we’re having some trouble where we live right what’s going on and I’m really not okay with it anymore. I’m not
now because the neighborhood is not great but that’s not the thing. okay with this feeling that I can’t go talk to my neighbor about
The thing is everybody is isolated from each other everywhere. I what’s going on. I should have learned this over the course of my
have the same problems that many people have in regards to their life, and I didn’t, and I don’t think a lot of people did. I think on a
neighbors- we have neighbors who are loud in the middle of the broad scale we all have to relearn how to connect with each other.
night, I like to sleep, and my bedroom is sharing a wall with them. It’s not about these boundaries that we set up because everybody
Many people have this problem, but the reason we’re having these does it, or because some company wants to sell every family two
problems with communicating with each other, the reason I am cars.
such a ball of nerves trying to figure out how to deal with this situa- I think this isolation is creating so many scary problems where
tion in a connected and compassionate way, is because we have all we can’t empathize with one another and we can’t treat each other
learned that there are walls between us and our neighbors, and the like people. It’s not just the neighbor thing, it’s politics and it’s
walls stay there. social change issues. .
I think America has really been built up around that. Douglas Many people don’t assume that the strangers that they come
Rushkoff wrote a great book called Life Inc. where he explains how across are real people with real feelings, and lives and reasons for
we have developed corporate values instead of human social values, the decisions they’ve made. It’s shocking. So if we can just start to
when human social values are what fuel us. This idea that we are connect with one another, look each other in the eyes, and believe
all this separate, that everybody needs a big yard and a big fence that we’re all real people who are all connected to each other it will
and their own car and their own huge house — we all grow up being make such a huge difference.
taught to get that, but we forget what it does to the relationships
between us and other people.


Elizabeth Morris is a
bonafide professional
catalyst and adventurer.
She runs a positive-impact network and product/ser-
vice business called Ideaschema, serving individuals,
start-ups, micro-businesses and small businesses who
need conceptual and hands-on assistance growing full-
fledged, sustainable and successful projects. Ideaschema
helps smart people produce brilliant ideas.

She is also a singer (Welsh opera anyone?) who is mak-

ing music on her own terms. You can follow her musical
adventures at www.meganmakesmusic.com.

Megan exudes enzymes that cause others to surpass

their potential, and is hopelessly addicted to Making
Things Happen.


outside-the-box issue
Kristin Glenn
& Shannon

the purpose-preneurs

shannon: We’re in the process of starting an eco-friendly apparel line for minimalist

1 women. It’s a collection of eight affordable pieces that are reversible and convertible to
create over 100 different looks. We’ve seen first-hand the destruction the fashion industry
is causing to the environment and the developing world, and our goal is to change the para-
What is your work and what digm of fashion and consumption. We believe style can and should be ethical.
kristin: We also blog about the highs and lows of being young entrepreneurs starting a
impact do you hope it new business. More than anything, we try to inspire. We’re just two girls who had this idea,
will have? but absolutely no experience in fashion. Our goal is to show people that all of us have the
ability to make it work — and to learn, experience, and change the world in the process.

outside-the-box issue
K: We had both been traveling for a couple thinking we’ll finally be happy, we should
2 years after college, working and volunteer- focus on the moment we do have, and ap-
ing our way around the world. We met preciate it to its fullest.
in Australia. It was an exciting time, but
Did you ever have a period I think we were both starting to feel like

in your life when you were

we weren’t contributing our full potential 7
to the world. A life of travel is fulfilling
following the status quo and in many ways, but I think we were both
what did that look like? searching for something bigger than our What’s your idea of hell?
personal experiences. A year later we
k: Sure! I planned on getting my masters in
reconnected when we were both back in the S: Living with the cast of the “Jersey Shore.”
accounting in college. I thought I would be
States. Together, we started to think about K: Black Friday.
an accountant for a few years, make some
how we could impact the world around us
loot, and then travel. But in the middle of
and pursue work that would be inspiring for
my program, I was offered an opportunity
to study in Australia. My adventurous spirit
ourselves, as well as others. 8
took over. I quit the program, and never
regretted taking a “pass” on those years of
accounting. 5 Do you long for something
s: I was lucky to get some great intern- right now?
ships throughout college, but every one of
What’s something that’s S: We really try not to dwell on the things
them required sitting in an office cubicle. I
we don’t have, otherwise the grass will al-
decided early on that the 9 to 5 would never changed everything for you? ways be greener on the other side. It would
be my cup of tea. After I graduated in 2008,
S: Travel. Spending two years living in be nice to have complete financial security,
I watched my friends apply for entry-level
different parts of the world will undoubt- but then again, what’s the challenge in that?
jobs at the height of the recession. I opted
to travel for two years, and I’ve never looked edly change your perspective on life. I
back. My priorities, values and goals have was constantly meeting people who had
done a complete 180, and I’ve been fortu- completely different priorities than anyone 9
nate to avoid the status quo ever since. else I had come across before. I started to
realize, “Hey, I don’t need to live the life
society says I have to. These people broke What’s your relationship
free; there’s no reason I can’t do it too.”
3 K: Commitment to starting something.
to doubt?
We didn’t know anything about blogging or K: Doubt is good. It keeps you on your toes.
starting a clothing line before we tackled It’s what makes life interesting. If we knew
As someone who is living life this project. But just saying yes, and com- everything, we would be bored. While I
on your own terms, what are mitting to it, has changed my life complete- suffer from minor anxiety at times from the
your terms? ly. I was open to a new direction in my life, barrage of “I don’t know’s” swirling about
and because I chose to do something instead in my life, I am convinced that doubt makes
s: This is something we talk about a lot. of nothing, I have gained everything. success sweeter.
I think our ‘own terms’ are constantly
changing, but the ability to pursue passion-
ate work on a day-to-day basis is a driving
force for us. Even though we’re definitely
working longer hours than 9 to 5, we’re
doing something that has personal meaning
and purpose behind it. It’s about having the
What do you think the pur-
freedom to dictate the way we spend our suit of happiness
time. We might work a 12 hour day, but we is all about?
choose to do it for a goal we believe in. K: We all live, to some degree, in the future.
We chase after it with gusto, because, after
all, it’s the only thing in our lives we can
actually change.
4 But for us, the pursuit of happiness is
about finding the beauty in the moment.
That’s much more difficult. Instead of
How did you come to counting on one day, accomplishing X, and
those terms?
outside-the-box issue
of consciousness throughout society to
10 collectively realize that our culture places
emphasis on all the wrong things. Dare I
say, a {r}evolution.
In the moments when it’s
been tough to go against the
grain, is there a person or bio
thought that inspired you to
keep at it?
S: The law of attraction is my driving force.
Kristin Glenn and Shannon Whitehead are the co-founders
of All of Us Revolution, a blog that chronicles their
pursuit of a sustainable business venture, {r}evolu-
Every time I start to doubt, I immediately tion apparel. They hope to inspire others to take the path less traveled,
remind myself that I have the power to and lead by example, knowing that change is possible. When they’re not
create my reality. I’ve lived this way for searching for organic fabrics or sketching designs, Kristin can be found
two years, believing wholeheartedly in the baking chocolate chip cookies and Shannon can be found eating them.
power of positive thinking. It’s those times
when I take a step back and look at my life www.allofusrevolution.com
that I realize how powerful it really is. @allofusrev
K: We are big believers in both visual-
ization and partnership. Things go awry all
the time; but the thought that, in the very
near future, Shannon and I could be show-
casing our line and our minimalist ideas to
the world keeps us optimistic. And when
those positive thoughts just don’t seem to
come easy, Shannon is always around to
give me a good kick in the ass and tell me
how awesome our project is. A partner,
friend, and ass-kicker is invaluable.


What do you think humanity

needs most these days?
K: True cost accounting. Wow, how nerdy
am I?
But seriously, our consumer society is
geared towards making choices based on
prices. Unfortunately, our prices don’t truly
reflect the cost of goods. How can you buy a
radio for 5 dollars at Wal-Mart? If we really
accounted for the cost of that radio — the
cost of clean water in the town where the
cobalt is mined, the cost to the Amazon
where the petrol is drilled, the cost to the
ozone when that radio is finally incinerated
— well, then consumers would be forced to
think about what they buy.
S: I think humanity needs change-
makers. People who are willing to go
against the grain for a cause. A change

outside-the-box issue

When I first sat down to write the letter to the editor that you read
earlier, I had this great sentence rolling around in my head that I
was going to kick it off with. Are you ready to bask in my genius?
Here goes: “What do a yoga teacher, writer, entrepreneur, producer,
singer etc, etc, etc have in common?” You get the idea, because it
turns out my genius sentence is also exceptionally clichéd.

More than the issue of tired writing, I abandoned it because (as

you’ve just seen) it’s absolutely, positively, impossible to slap labels
on people who are living their lives on their own terms. I mean,
“yoga teacher” for Jill Miller? Absurd! She’s light years more than
that. “Writer” for Chris Guillebeau? It’s a teeny tiny fraction of what
he’s up to. “Producer” for Michael DiMartino? It doesn’t come close to
describing him and all the goodness that he’s putting into the world.

Silly me, I was trying to put the Outside-the-Box issue into a box.
It’s amazing how easily those boxes can quietly sneak up on things.

The blessing of the people who are featured in our first (!) issue is
that by rejecting the status quo, they’ve become bigger than simple
labels. I imagine them all trying to fill out any form that has one
small line next to the word “occupation” and I can’t imagine what
they do with that.

I’m grateful to have spoken with so many wonderful people who

don’t easily fill in small blank lines on forms. I send an enormous
thank you to all of them for the example they set with their lives,
and an enormous thank you to all of you for being here as we kick
off this adventure.

Now take this inspiration and go shake things up!

-Brooke Thomas, Editor

outside-the-box issue
The great

in life
is doing what other people say

you cannot
— walter bagehot —

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outside-the-box issue 11project.com