Then & Now: On Books and Inspiration

SWHomeBNPICAs I was browsing through Barnes & Noble the other day, I walked past the Design and Architecture section and was delighted to see The New Southwest Home: Innovative Ideas for Every Room on the display rack. I thumbed through it, reminiscing about the images and the stories that accompany them and remembered the labor of love that it took to bring this book, and its prequel Outdoor Style: The Essence of Southwest Living, to fruition. With two small children and an inclination for procrastination, it was a magical time of activity, anticipation, anxiety and finally completion.

At the time of publication, I had been talking with my editor and publisher about exploring work on a new book that incorporated sustainability into home and garden design. This was at a time when green concepts were just emerging and I was really excited to see where it might lead and what kind of book we could create. Unfortunately, the partners in the publishing firm decided to sell the company, and that opportunity fizzled.

My interest in sustainable issues, however, was piqued and I was soon thereafter pursuing a Master’s in Education degree with the focus on Humane Education: sustainability, animal rights, the environment and media and society. I can still remember the day that I discovered the Institute for Humane Education! Not only did this organization provide information, resources and suggestions about how to make the world a better place, it offered an advanced education degree to study issues that I cared about so deeply. Zoe Weil, the founder of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE), inspired me with her vision about the humane education movement and her commitment to make it a reality. IHE’s education director Mary Pat Champeau was supportive and encouraging as she listened to me ramble about how relieved and excited I was to find that there were other people out there who shared my passions.

IHE BrochureMy experience with IHE was, and continues to be, life changing. The opportunities that I have had to learn and grow as a person, to provide information to others, to bring awareness to youth and to guide my children stems from my transformative experience. This basis enables me to make thoughtful and informed decisions in my personal and professional life as a mom, wife, friend, writer, educator, entrepreneur, community leader and citizen.

Although I did not plan to write about the impact that IHE and its mission has made on my life in this post, I am grateful that I had a chance to revisit my initial euphoria and review my subsequent journey that continues to provide a foundation on how I live and how I want to create a future that has a positive effect on humans, animals, society and the earth.

For more information about the Institute for Humane Education, its mission and its educational offerings for students, parents and teachers, including online classes and Master’s and Doctorate programs, visit