Submitted by Kathleen Cotter

kathleen cotter is an entrepreneur who owns "the bloomy rind" (visit the blog). she is also a purveyor of outstanding american artisan cheeses, and she actively supports the movement for a local, just and sustainable food system.

Here are Kathleen's "Five Rules For Life":

1.) Today, the deep end (or, be brave).
Several years back, there was an OJ commercial. It was narrated by a little girl who was gearing up for a day at the swimming pool. As she finished off her juice and headed out the kitchen door, she declared, "Today, the deep end." When I encounter things that are new, scary, or intimidating, I imagine that little girl putting on her goggles and planning to conquer the deep end of the pool.

2.) Know your farmer.
Our food system is flush with processed, chemical-filled crap - mostly made by big agricultural corporations who often put profits before farmers, consumers and the environment. When you know your farmer, you can know what’s on or in your food. You get the freshest, best tasting goods because they were likely picked that day or the day before. You’re supporting your local or regional economy. And when food doesn’t have to travel across continents to get to you, there’s less pollution created along the way.

3.) Speak kindly to yourself.
I have to admit, I’m still working on this one. But take a few minutes and listen to your inner dialogue. Would you be friends or colleagues with someone who said the same things to you that you say to yourself? If the answer is no or probably not, it’s time to be a little nicer to yourself.

4.) Raise a little hell from time to time.
I am profoundly moved by protests going on here and abroad. When there are injustices, we all need to speak up in whatever we way we feel appropriate...whether it’s protesting or boycotting, letter writing, voting with our dollars, or just calling out the jerk in the bar who’s slinging bigoted comments. Stand up for what’s right. Stand up for yourself.

5.) Ditch the debt.
Becoming debt free (except for my house) is the best thing I’ve ever done. It lightens the load more than I could have imagined. Yes, I drive a ’98 Accord, which isn’t all that cool. But that ride is paid for, y’all. I stay in simple accommodations when I travel, but there’s no credit card hangover when I get home. I could go on, but you get the idea. Debt sucks. Pay that sh*t off!

Kathleen currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.