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Fantasy Island

On The Zen of Zoe

The ominous late-summer air along with the crunch of the tell-tale leaves littering the ground signaled it was coming. My chest heaved a heavy sigh knowing that I would not be able to escape its grips. What did I have to offer that could compare with 300 pound men in shoulder pads broadcast in hi-definition? Yes, it is that time of year again, the season of the football widows.

Before marriage, I was familiar with "Monday Night Football." That was a manageable concession I was willing to make. One night a week. Easy. But I've since learned that there are NFL games all day Sunday and on Thursday nights as well. Throw college ball into the mix on Saturdays and the week is completely lost to the testosterone laden frenzy of the gridiron.

Perhaps if I had a favorite team, I would also succumb to the madness and hibernate with my husband in the man-cave until the spring thaw. I married into a Patriots family, so they are my adopted team and I actually do root for them. But its more of an after the fact curiosity cheer - 'hey, did our team win?' I can usually tell the answer by his demeanor. Hugs and kisses means a victory. Grunts and sighs signal a loss.

Over the years I have learned to live through this annual cycle of widowhood. I feel fortunate to catch glimpses of my husband during random minutes when a game was not being played, or being reviewed, or being commented upon with predictions for the next game. But in recent years a new type of football has crept into our lives and stolen away even those rare precious minutes when I saw my husband during the fall and winter months: Fantasy Football. (shudder).

Socially Conscious Companies

On Boredom At Its Worst

Stumbling through Whole Foods, I saw a pair of shoes I really liked. Now I had previously laughed at the idea of people buying shoes at Whole Foods, but for some reason I was really attracted to this pair of shoes from a brand called FreeWaters. I looked it up that night and found out it's so small / new that it doesn't even have a Wikipedia page.

Now the reason Whole Foods sells it (or at least the reason I believe so) is that it has a social mission: to provide clean water throughout the world. For every pair that FreeWaters sells, one individual will be able to drink clean water for a year. Now I was mainly attracted by the style of the shoe, but their mission gave me the final edge to go ahead and buy the shoes.

This "social responsibility" of companies has been popularized by TOMS, the other shoe vendor you will find at Whole Foods (the only grocery store I know that will sell shoes but not Cinnamon Toast Crunch). For every purchase of a TOMS pair of shoes, the company pledges to donate one pair of shoes to someone who needs them.

TOMS shoes have surged in popularity. Almost every single girl I know has a pair, and so do some guys. In my opinion, without the social mission, the company would have not been able to see the success it sees. The marketing the company has done has been phenomenal. It truly is a win-win. The shoes by itself are a tad pricey (for the minimal nature of the shoe), but consumers feel justified when they know their efforts are going to help out someone in need. And plus, the shoes are significantly cheaper than let's say the new Nike Free Run. When debating whether to buy the Nike Free Run or TOMS for a new pair of casual shoes, the TOMS are cheaper and make the consumer feel good about themselves.

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