The Benefits of Meditation

By Natalie, Sustainable Materials Manager and Toad’s resident meditation expert.

In its simplest form, meditation is the process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. A meditation practice depends on the individual and can take many forms. Anything done with complete mindfulness and intention can become a form of meditation.

I’ve found that the swath of meditation benefits are all interconnected. For example, if I’m less stressed, I sleep better and wake up happier and more focused. Here are some other benefits of meditation, according to the experts (and corroborated by me!):

1. It can reduce stress and all of the negative side effects of stress. No more “Sunday Scaries.”

2. It improves your sleep by helping you control your ability to relax and turn off the racing thoughts in your brain.

3. It helps control anxiety, which helps keep your stress down (Seeing a pattern yet?).

4. It promotes emotional health and decreases symptoms of depression.

5. It enhances self-awareness and grows a stronger sense of self and confidence.

6. It can lengthen your attention span, increase your ability to focus, and may even reduce effects of age-related memory loss.

7. It can increase your compassion toward others and yourself by helping you focus on the ability to be kind and forgive (Like forgiving your mother for gifting your dog a squeaky toy…).

8. It can help fight addictions. Trying to give up sugar this year? Meditation might be your secret weapon.

9. It helps control pain and can even raise pain tolerance levels (Time to get that tattoo!).

10. It can lower blood pressure and boost your immune system.


The Physical Benefits of Meditation

Your body loves meditation. Study after study has found that the benefits of the mind/body connection have a lasting impact on your overall physical health. The benefits of meditation and yoga, for instance, is that they help send breath to your muscles which increases your flexibility, which decreases your chance for injury.

Meditation and running and meditation and swimming have a similar effect. When you exercise at a low-impact, consistent pace with intention, your body and mind can align to enter a state of flow – or being “in the zone.” So think of meditating like a runner’s high that you can tap into at any time.

Meditation also benefits the brain by strengthening your neural connections. When you practice the skill of mindfulness, you’re also sharpening your willpower. You can increase your attention span, manage your stress better, and master self-control.

Meditation can actually alter your brain structure – in a good way. Studies have found that meditation adds wrinkles to your cortex – the outer layer of your brain that helps us think critically and introspectively (more wrinkles = better problem solving). It can also increase the volume and density of the hippocampus – the area in the brain that helps us with our memory. Here’s a great Harvard Gazette article on the brain science behind mindfulness.


How to Meditate

This is a complex question, but luckily there are many types of meditation and many ways to incorporate a meditation practice into your life. We’ll cover some of the most basic types of meditation.

Mindfulness meditation – Keeping your attentions fixed on your thoughts and physical sensations in the present moment.  This is great for meditation before bed – or in bed!  

Guided meditation – Exercises guided by an instructor (or an app) to walk you through various techniques and breath work.

Body scan meditation – a guided meditation meant to sync body and mind by observing the state of your body from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes.

Transcendental meditation – this is the champagne of meditations. It’s a complex practice that involves multiple sessions per day using various mindfulness and mystical techniques – and it’s technically only taught by specialized instructors and comes with a price tag.

Loving kindness meditation – directing positive energy, compassion and goodwill toward ourselves and then toward others.

Yoga meditation – not high-intensity work-out yoga, more slow and intentional yoga designed to strengthen the nervous system. Yoga Nidra and Kundalini yoga are common forms. Extended savasana (“corpse pose”) is a founding principle of Yoga meditation.

Moving meditation – just like it sounds: keep it moving! Tai Chi, walking or gentle hiking are all forms of moving meditations.

Mantra meditation – focusing your mind through repetition. It’s not an affirmation, more of a repetition of sounds to deepen breathing and sense of peace. “Om” is just the beginning!

There are so many types of mediations, so try a few versions and find the one that feels right for you. And remember: what’s right might vary from day to day. I integrate all kinds of meditation into my life, depending on what I need or what my schedule allows.


Start Your Practice 

The most important part of meditation is that you aren’t forcing it. You don’t need to practice meditation 3 times a day – even meditating for 20 minutes a day might be too much at this point. So start with a small goal – 5-minutes of mindfulness or a quick morning breathing exercise – and work your way up.

Check out my blog on meditation techniques for beginners for some quick pointers for getting started! 

The Quarantinarita

This recipe comes from Daisy, copywriter extraordinaire and cocktail Queen. 

I’ll be frank: I buy in bulk. Not toilet paper, but tequila. It’s a staple in my kitchen (right up there with garbanzo beans and Top Ramen), and it’s been the cornerstone of my “What’s in the pantry?” margaritas of late. 

With the shelter-in-place order in full effect in our Central CA town, I’ve had to get creative. I’ve started infusing simple syrups with anything I can scrounge (Rosemary? Yep. Lavender? Sure thing); I’ve made friends with neighbors with overflowing citrus trees; and I’ve resolved to use up all those random liqueurs that I bought for that one cocktail, that one time… 

So this cocktail – the Quarantinarita – is a product of the times: Costco tequila, big batch simple syrup, Aperol from last Summer’s “Spritz Blitz,” and oranges straight from my neighbor’s trees. It’s whatever’s in the pantry, shaken, poured over ice, and best consumed during a sunset neighborhood stroll. Yeah, I could get used to this. 

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QUARANTINARITA – MAKES 1: 

  • 1oz (standard shot glass) simple syrup 
  • 2oz tequila  
  • 1 cap-full of Aperol (about 1.5 tbsp) 
  • Juice of 1 orange 
  • Juice of 1/2 blood orange 
  • Bubbly water (club soda, La Croix, soda stream – whatever you’ve got) 
  • Blood orange slices for garnish
  • Ice 

To Make Basic Simple Syrup: 

1 cup water, 1 cup granulated white sugar. Combine and bring to a boil; simmer for 3 minutes until sugar dissolves. Cool immediately. Store in the fridge for a month or freeze forever. 

To Make the Drink: 

Fill a shaker with ice and combine simple syrup, tequila, Aperol, orange juice, and blood orange juice. Shake the living daylights out of it. Pour over ice and fill to the brim with bubbly water. Garnish with a slice of blood orange for fancy pants points. Enjoy responsibly and “air cheers” your neighbors. 

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How to Look on the Bright Side

Gratitude jars, daily mantras, appreciation journals, happy hours… however you practice gratitude, keep it up. There have been loads of studies about how gratitude makes us happier, and in times of unpredictability and stress, a little hit of serotonin can do wonders.

On a recent Zoom-powered company happy hour, we went around and shared each of our shelter-in-place silver linings. It was just about the happiest hour we’ve ever had! 

Use these questions to jump start your mind to look on the bright side:

I have more time to… 

I reignited my love of… 

I spend more time with… 

I have a newfound appreciation for… 

My favorite part of my day is… 

We posed the same questions to a few Toads. From slow morning routines to tapping into the green thumb, their responses reflect a gleaming, beaming Bright Side. 

Sarah:

I have more time to… appreciate the mind of a 15-year-old. 

I reignited my love of… fresh air yoga.

I spend more time with… my 9-year old golden retriever…social distancing is NOT her thing.  #shadow

I have a newfound appreciation for… fresh herbs, they make the most boring dinner feel gourmet! 

My favorite part of my day is… happy hour, it truly feels happy!

Guin: 

I have more time to… cook

I reignited my love of… gardening

I spend more time with… pups

I have a newfound appreciation for… living in a rural area

My favorite part of my day is… lunch in the sun on my patio, sometimes with my husband Andy which we have NEVER been able to do before.

Lucinda: 

I have more time to… perfect my breadmaking technique

I reignited my love of… my community. Venturans are being so helpful and kind to one another, it touches my heart every day.

I spend more time with… my feline colleagues, but I think they might be getting tired of having me around so much. 

I have a newfound appreciation for… all the skills my mom taught me as a child (cooking, baking, gardening, knitting, sewing) that I am putting to good use these days.

My favorite part of my day is… after dinner when my beloved and I settle in on the couch to watch my latest Netflix obsession, The Protector.

Neil:

I have more time to… sleep in 😊

I reignited my love of… working on the house

I spend more time with… my wife and three kids

I have a newfound appreciation for… group activities

My favorite part of my day is… dinner!

Divas:

I have more time to… spend with my family.

I reignited my love for… gardening and movies.

I spend more time with…my extended friends and family circle around the world whom I have not connected with in a very long time.

I have a newfound appreciation for… how much my wife does for our home and family. 

My favorite part of my day is… evening when kids ride bikes in the front street.

Christina:

I have more time to… channel my inner Ina Garten (trying all sorts of new recipes, and yes, that includes supersized cocktails too)

I reignited my love of… carbs (never really went away, but stronger than ever in quarantine)

I spend more time with… my garden. My fiancé and I are proud parents right now – our vegetable and herb garden has never looked better.

I have a newfound appreciation for… technology. Spending more time catching up with long-distance friends and family via Zoom and Facetime has been a big bright spot.

My favorite part of my day is… after work neighborhood and beach walks. Feel like I’m noticing plants, trees, and architecture that I’ve never seen before.

Lucas:

I have more time to… get that extra hour of sleep I desperately need

I reignited my love of… laying on the couch and reading a good book on a lazy weekend afternoon

I spend more time with… my 6-year-old (although balancing WFH and Homeschooling is challenging)

I have a newfound appreciation for…. my daughter’s teachers (actually ALL teachers, but Mrs. Trac especially)

My favorite part of my day is… the slow morning routine

Steve:

I have more time to… enjoy a “slow” morning of coffee and breakfast taking in the day.

I reignited my love of… Santa Barbara. Being able to get outside and enjoy the neighborhood and the smells of spring.

I spend more time with… my mother-in-law. She has become part of our “family unit.”

I have a newfound appreciation for… my neighbors. The optimism in our community is so uplifting.  

My favorite part of my day is… walks, hikes, bike rides with my 2 year-old.

Kyle:

I have more time to… be present with and appreciative of those special people in my life

I reignited my love of… inventing new cocktail recipes from things found in our garden. I’ve also reignited my love affair with the push up. 💪🏼

I spend more time with… my diehard crew of beagle and husband

I have a newfound appreciation for… my meditation practice

My favorite part of my day is… walking the pup in the morning right after sunrise with a warm mug of coffee

Toad Picks: CBD Products

It’s no secret that we love hemp. On the fabric side of things, it’s lightweight, breathable, has great drape, very low-maintenance, and is VERY durable (your hemp clothes should last a looooong time). On the farming side of things, it’s easy to grow, relies mostly on rain water, is phytoremediative (meaning it actually improves the soil), and the whole plant can be used in production, meaning ZERO waste. 

We’re not getting into the weeds (heh) about the recreational use debate (though, we DO live in California…), but we’ll throw our kudos behind the health benefits of CBD oil. (Here’s a quick refresher on the difference between Hemp vs. Marijuana vs. CBD if you need it.)

In a nutshell, CBD is a naturally occurring oil that reminds your body to calm down. It’s not a wonder drug or a cure-all, but it has been proven to help with stress, joint pain and anxiety in some people – including our very own Toads. 

Like anything, there’s high quality versions and quack versions of CBD products. So if you’re wading into the waters of CBD, we recommend you look at the ingredients, look for any third-party testing, and follow the dosage directions directions – AND check the legality in your state.

 

We don’t pretend to be doctors (and we don’t play one on TV), so our CBD recommendations are straight from our Toads based on their experiences. 

“The best topical CBD product I have ever used is Humble Flower Co – Cannabis-infused Relief Balm. The Arnica+Clary Sage scent is unbelievable. It has 200 mg CBD and 200 mg THC. It is a topical rub that you can put on aches and pains and it truly does help the muscles and joint pain. After shoulder surgery and consistent PT, I use this multiple times a day and it has really helped with my pain. I use this instead of taking over the counter pain relievers and I have found it to work very well.  I have used every topical product on the market including oils, different ratios of BD/THC and this is by far the best. Not only do I love it for the quality of product and effectiveness, but it is a rub, not an oil, and is not messy at all.  The last thing you want is an oil to unscrew in your purse and then you have an expensive mess (personal experience and it is not fun). I highly recommend this product and tell everyone about it that has arthritis or an injury. 

I am also a big fan of The Humboldt Apothecary tinctures. The have tinctures for every use and each one has different rations of CBD to THC. I opt for the high CBD, low THC tinctures. I use these at night in my team before bedtime and find that they really help me relax and sleep better. I am a big fan of the “inflammation soother” tincture which also has anti inflammatory natural ingredients in it to help after working out or physical therapy. ” – Sarah 

Papa & Barkley Releaf Balm is my go-to for a great rub on sore muscles after a big weekend of skiing or a long day of sitting at a desk chair. They have different versions with varying portions of THC:CBD.  It has my favorite combination of Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Lavender so it smells a million times better than Tiger Balm. 

Care By Design Sublingual Drops (18:1 CBD:THC) is the best sleep enhancement aid I have found.  It is really mild in flavor and never leaves me ‘disoriented.’ A little goes a long way.  It helps me to go to sleep and stay asleep which lets my body recover after any sport, a big hike in the mountains or a fun day on the slopes.” – Jo 

If you’re easing into CBD, try a small amount and keep track of how your body and mind feel. And if you’re just not sure, think it over in some soft hemp sweats! 

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Winner Winner, Grilled Cheese Dinner

Since the dawn of time (okay, since 2012), we have gathered for our annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown – a gourmand competition where teams throw down their cheesiest masterpieces for a chance to win the coveted Golden Spatula Award. This year marked our 8th annual Smackdown… and the first time we went totally virtual. 

Instead of a panel of esteemed judges sampling each sammie, we gave that task to you – THE PEOPLE! – to vote on the best recipes in our first ever Smackdown-meets-Instagram competition. 

The winner? The Dracula Slayer, made by our newest Toad, SJ and her beau, Tommy. This recipe is equal parts Van Helsing (absurd amounts of garlic) and Martha Stewart (homemade bread baked by Tommy). So we recommend enjoying with a someone who will put up with your garlic breath. 

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THE DRACULA SLAYER  – Makes 2 servings

4 slices rustic bread (we used homemade rosemary bread)

1 head roasted garlic

2 slices aged cheddar

2 slices Havarti

2 slices aged swiss

⅓ stick of butter

a little bit of fresh cracked pepper

optional (but so good) spicy brown mustard

Roast your garlic (chop off the head, drizzle with S&P and olive oil, roast at 400º for 45 mins). With your butter at room temperature, mash your roasted garlic cloves into the butter. Heat a griddle (or grill pan) to medium. Slather the outside of your bread in your garlic butter, spread a healthy dose of mustard on the inside, and stack up the cheese! Add a few turns of cracked pepper to the inside (very important), and close ‘er up. Grill each side until golden brown and crispy.

Tip: Cover your sandwich to up the steam effect while cooking each side. And E N J O Y with a tasty beverage. Serve with a Bloody Mary if you need more garlic. 

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5 Questions for Kate Larramendy

Kate Larramendy is the mother of all things sustainable at Toad. In the early 2000s, Kate took over as Director of Design back when we were still called “Horny Toad” and e-commerce wasn’t really a thing (so the name wasn’t really a problem…but we digress…) For almost two decades, Kate was the force behind our sustainability achievements: our switch to only organic or recycled cotton, ending our use of Angora and using non-mulesed merino wool, pushing suppliers for more recycled options, and even demanding we have an office compost bin (to name just a few). Kate and her teams established a sustainability criteria that we’d measure everything against. First it started as “50% of the line had to be made with eco-friendly materials and practices.” Then it was 70%. Then 85%. Now, 100% of our line has to be sustainably made. In the words of Kate, “If it’s not worthy of the resources to make it, we won’t make it at all.” 

Kate retired from Toad in 2018, but sustainable stewardship is a habit that never fades. Now, Kate serves as a board member for the Conservation Alliance, and of course, pops in to Toad HQ to drop off a bottle of of signature salad dressing (this stuff is seriously GOOD) and give us the latest sustainability news. 

1. What does the Conservation Alliance do? 

KL: The Conservation Alliance is the leading coalition of businesses that fund and partner with grassroots conservation groups working to protect North America’s wild places. The Conservation Alliance has the ability to bring together voices and actions that support thriving outdoor businesses, thriving outdoor communities and the possibility of a thriving planet into the future by protecting wild places and wildlife.

2. What do you love about the Conservation Alliance? 

When I was ready to transition from a career of making clothing and gear (even though it was beautiful, useful and mostly sustainably optimized), I was happy to swap commerce for conservation. I had been active with the Conservation Alliance for many years so joining the Board was exactly what I wanted next.

3. What’s the most gratifying part of your work with the CA? 

I especially love the advocacy aspect of our work that includes regular trips to Washington, D.C to lobby representatives on behalf of our public lands. Most people do not realize that the outdoor recreation economy generated $887M in revenues, provided 7.6 million jobs and accounted for 2.2% of the national GDP (2017 stats). There is a lot of power in those numbers –– and they’re growing. By last stats, the outdoor recreation economy is actually growing faster than the overall U.S. economy! 

4. What is your favorite quote regarding conservation? 

“I hope the United States of America is not so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by, or so poor she cannot afford to keep them. Wilderness itself is the basis of all our civilization.” – Mardie Murie

5. What’s your #1 sustainability tip?

Don’t buy, take or use anything that is disposable or can’t be reused many times, if not indefinitely.

The Benefits of Dogs in the Office

For the last 10 years, Paige (our head designer) has come to work every day with Norman, a scruffy salt and pepper pup, no bigger than a gallon of milk. He’s present at all design meetings, fit sessions, and final approvals. He’s made his way into photoshoots, been used as design inspiration, and even had his portrait painted at a giant tradeshow.

Norman is just one of many great dogs take up residence at the Toad offices. Over the years we’ve had Lucy the lunch lady, Leo the cuddle bug, Lincoln the scaredy cat, Sunny the tornado, Lana the starlet, Grom the snaggletooth, Bea the sleepy puggle, Truffle the Big Bird, and her little sister, Sophie.  

Creating a dog-friendly work environment is part of our culture. Sure, sometimes they sleep on the job, but our canine colleagues make us better employees and happier people. Here are some of the benefits of having dogs in the office:

  • Creates a positive, flexible, uplifting setting 

  • Promotes a work-life balance (hey there, afternoon walk!) 

  • Less stress = happier employees = more productivity  

  • Dogs can create camaraderie and trigger interactions that may not have happened without them (remember your class hamster in 1st grade? Same thing). 

  • They clean the kitchen floors 

  • They make the workplace fun (and awesome people want to work at fun places!)

  • They make excellent Instagram models 

  • And it’s even good for the pups – they learn to socialize with other humans and animals (and mail carriers)  

So here’s to letting this place to go the dogs. We think we’ll keep it that way. 

 

Beginner’s Guide to Meditation

By: Natalie, Sustainable Materials Manager and Toad’s resident meditation expert

In its simplest form, meditation is the process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. A meditation practice depends on the individual and can take many forms – some people sit and clear their minds, others go for a hike in nature, and others even cook or do chores. Anything done with complete mindfulness and intention can become a form of meditation.

I started meditating about 15 years ago when I stopped skipping out on Savasana (aka: corpse pose) at the end of my yoga classes. I realized that those 3 minutes of post-yoga quietness made me feel calmer, happier, and helped integrate all the physical activity into my body and mind. 

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It took another 10 more years of dabbling before I committed to a morning sitting meditation practice. At the time, I was caretaking for my grandpa at the end of his life and needed a way to keep myself centered and grounded so that I could show up for him and the rest of my family. I needed something for me and meditation became the solution.

For me, the goal of meditation isn’t to clear my mind or count my breath. It’s about consciously focusing and redirecting my mind to the positive. Instead of noticing how tight my hips feel, I focused my attention on how lucky I am that all of my organs are healthy and my muscles strong. I focus on how lucky I am to be able to run and surf and rock climb. Or even just how fortunate I am just to breathe. Focusing on gratitude for my physical body rather than the parts I struggle with brings about a sense of deep inner peace. Once I figured out how to tap into it, I can access that inner peace any time I need it. Here are a few of my suggestions on how to get started: 

1. Start off with quick guided meditations from a mindfulness app like Headspace or Daily Shine. You can select topics to focus on that you want to work on – like increasing gratitude or celebrating positivity.

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2. Shoot for a consistent routine. I like first thing in the morning, but a lot of people find right before bed works better for them. It doesn’t matter when you choose, the important thing is to establish a routine that you can stick to.

3. Explore different types of meditation (yes, there are different types). I like loving kindness meditation, breathing meditations, moving meditations like Tai Chi or walking or hiking, daily task meditation, Yoga Nidra, guided body scan relaxation meditation, and reiki meditation. There are so many options. Find the one that feels right for you. And know that what’s right might vary from day to day. I integrate all kinds of meditation into my life now depending on what I need for that day.

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4. Build slowly over time. Yes, some amazing people like Oprah meditate for 30 minutes twice a day, but the reality is that you can gain benefits of meditation with as little as 3 minutes a day and it takes time to train your mind. You wouldn’t try to summit Everest if you’ve never hiked before… small steps will lead to the greatest success. Start with just 1 minute a day to build the habit. You’ll be successful (and you can do anything for 60 seconds!). Notice the impact one minute can have on you for the next 5-10 minutes. This is what increases your motivation to meditate for longer!

5. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. It’s ok if you hear your meditation timer go off and you realize you just spent the last 5 minutes thinking about breakfast…it happens. Just come back and try again tomorrow. Like anything in life, learning to focus your mind takes time.

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Now go forth and conquer your own mind, body and soul connections! Remember: There is no “right” way to meditate. There is no perfection you are striving for. One version is no better or worse than any other version. Just be yourself and use your mindfulness practice (whatever that looks like) to show up for your life as the best version of you. 

Best Places to Travel in 2020

2020 just sounds like a year for epic trips. While we adjust back to office life, we’re slowly re-entering with a healthy dose of wanderlust and electrolytes (because you have to prep that immune system for international travel). According to the Toads, here’s what tops our list for the best places to visit in 2020. 

LAKE TAHOE 

“I’m taking the little groms to the snow! My youngest hasn’t been yet so we’re getting her on some mini skis. It’s the best place in the world to learn to ski because when you fall at least you got a million dollar view!” – Neil, Operations 

VIETNAM 

“I took a DNA test last year and turns out I’m 91% Vietnamese, so I’m headed back to the Motherland! I’m doing an epic solo motorcycle trip through the countryside. I’ve never been to Vietnam. I’m so pumped.” – Anthony, Graphic Design 

TURKEY 

“I’m going on my honeymoon this year and I think we settled on Turkey! I want that balance of adventure and relaxing, but we also like amazing food and coffee and culture…Turkey seemed like the perfect place. I hear Cappadocia is where the hot air balloons float over these ancient cities built around rock formations. Sounds pretty amazing.” – Tessa, Production 

AMSTERDAM 

“Amsterdam has some incredible art museums. The Van Gogh, the Foam, the Moco, and of course the Rijksmusuem that’s been closed for years and just re-opened after a mega remodel – I hear it’s spectacular. I just want to go to all of the museums and eat all of the snacks and go biking through the tulips!” – Helena, Women’s Design

SENEGAL 

“My buddy just came back from a surf trip in Senegal and now I’m frothin’. There are some great breaks just outside of Dakar like the legendary point break, Ngor Right (the one they surfed in Endless Summer!), and apparently down the coast is a little town called Ouakam where you’re just supposed to barrel all. day. long.” – Dr. Drew, Customer Service 

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA 

“I’ve always wanted to walk the Camino. It’s a beautiful, historic pilgrimage route that winds through the hills of France and ends at this beautiful city, Santiago de Compostela, in Northwest Spain. After you’ve made your trek (I’d start in Léon so it wasn’t too long…), you end at the Cathedral where all the pilgrims pack in for a church service (all in Latin, of course). It just sounds divine.” – Lucinda, Production 

YELLOWSTONE 

“This summer we’re taking a road trip all throughout the Western US with the goal to hit as many National Parks as we can. Last fall we took my 5 year old, Lily, to her first national park and she loved it. She asked for a park pass for Christmas. So we’re going to put it to work! Our goal is to do a big circle – Yellowstone, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, Saguaro, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Zion, Great Basin… ok, if we make it to half it would be amazing. But Yellowstone is at the TOP of the must-see list!” – Lucas, Brand & Marketing 

JAPAN 

“I really want to go to Japan and hit some links! People are shocked when I tell them that Japan has great golf courses, but why wouldn’t they? It’s a country known for  epic views and beautiful gardens. Makes sense to me!” – Guin, Women’s Design 

ANDALUCIA 

“We’re going to visit my mother-in-law in Switzerland, but then after that we’re going to check out Southern Spain (or Andalucia). It’s been on our bucket list for years. We’re thinking Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada…just give me all the tapas and Moorish architecture. I hear the Alhambra is mind blowing.” – Steve, Marketing 

VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK 

“I am SO excited to go to Volcano National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island! Kīlauea and Mauna Loa are active volcanoes so you can actually watch the lava flow, AND you can go see the Thurston lava tube that’s so big you can walk through it….AHHHH NATURE IS SO COOL!” – SARAH, Culture & Giving (and our resident geologist)  

ICELAND 

“Seeing the Northern lights is HIGH on my list of things to see with my own eyes. I hear Iceland is just the coolest and my dream is to surf off the coast of a glacier, while the Northern Lights are above, then get into the natural hot springs. Can you make that happen, Iceland?” – Natalie, Materials 

COSTA RICA 

“Give me mountains and jungle and ocean and sky and I’m a happy camper. Usually I love to explore cities, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about the vibe and the people and the food…. I know I haven’t been there, but I think Costa Rica is a place you find your soul. Sounds like a good place to clock some hours.” – Daisy, Brand & Marketing 

Meet Sarah: Toad’s Master of Giving

When you count Jane Goodall as one of your high school mentors, you know you’re destined for a life of goodness. Lucky for us that’s Sarah Palladino, our Office Culture Queen and Master of Giving. Since she embodies the spirit of giving year round, we sat down to talk about how giving actually makes businesses stronger, what’s on her book list, and what Dr. Jane Goodall is like in real life (yes, we feel starstruck just talking about it).

Toad: Ok, Sarah – you do a lot of things at Toad. Give us a rundown on your favorite thing: 

SP: The best part of my job is getting Toads connected to our social and environmental missions in hands-on ways. Whether it’s planting trees or volunteering at Earth Day or hosting a Friendsgiving with members of Search, Inc, I love seeing Toads really feel the impact of “business for good.”

Toad: Feel it?

SP: Ya. It’s one thing to hear “we’re a sustainable company,” but when employees are planting trees to offset carbon emissions, they’re really feeling what it takes to offset one shirt or one factory or one cargo ship. That impact has a massive ripple effect well beyond 9-5.

Toad: Do you think it also has an effect on the business?

SP: Absolutely! I can tell you it makes a huge difference on the HR side – being a business that prioritizes volunteer days and community outreach attracts like-minded people. Those like-minded people become Toads and in turn make us better.

Toad: What about our customers?

SP: Doing right by people and planet is the heart of the Toad ethos, and our customers are right there with us. I think they’re looking for companies that are doing good (like giving 1% back or making sustainable products) because THEY are doing good.  

Toad: It sounds like a movement…

SP: It totally is! The Do-Gooder Movement!

Toad: So where did this love of philanthropy come from?

SP: I think it started in middle school. I was always that kid with thousands of hours of community service. I just loved feeling like I was contributing to the greater good. My first experience working with at-risk youth made me realize that giving back needed to be ingrained in my life. After that I joined pretty much every club to help organize more people to give back.

Toad: Every club seems like a lot. Any favorites?

SP: I loved working with Dr. Jane Goodall as California’s chapter leader for her non-profit, Roots and Shoots.

Toad: Did you just say you worked with Jane Goodall?

SP: Yes, and she’s amazing. So inspiring. Her motivation behind everything she does is to foster a better understanding of nature, and thereby create a deeper connection between people and planet.

Toad: Wow. That sounds amazing.

SP: She’s my idol. It’s not just about animals and humans – it’s about equality. In Jane’s eyes, everyone and everything is equal. We’re all equal and we can all do good and impact the world.

Toad: What else do you draw inspiration from these days?

SP: I’m reading Becoming by Michelle Obama and she’s just a good human. I’m also really into this local lecture series right now where cross-disciplinarians talk about creative ways to think about problems and solutions, like an artist depicting climate change. Then there are always the classics like Silent Spring and The Lorax

Toad: Switching gears. Let’s say Toad wins the lotto and we (YOU) get to finally execute your giving pipe dream. What do you do?

SP: Commit 99% for the planet! I would love to start a whole education branch of Toad with the sole goal to inspire people to pursue environmentally friendly practices – the Toad Academy! I think we could have the biggest impact by investing in teaching future generations about sustainable lifestyles and communities and cultures… it would be amazing.

Toad: Okay, back to reality. What do you want your Toad legacy to be?

SP: My goal is to inspire Toads (whether it’s employees or customers) to look at how they can contribute to their communities and give back in areas that THEY love. I want to create a perpetuating cycle of giving back.