Why I Love Helping Others

What is the Meaning of Life

There is nothing more important in the world than helping others. As humans, we’re always questioning the meaning of life, but taking care of our Earth, animals and our fellow humans is the only purpose that makes any sense. It’s good to enjoy our life with our family and friends, trying to make the most of our short time, but honestly, when our life is over, what is left?

Helping Others is Key

I’m not sure how others justify the pain in their life, but for me the one that makes it bearable is the idea that it might help someone else. There is a saying that when bad things happen, you can either break apart or break open. The first leaves us broken, shattered, and most likely in a place where hurting others is our only form of communication. The latter leaves us stretched – with a greater capacity to hold that which is still yet to come.

Holiday Project

I am fortunate that I came from a family that also encourages a life of helping others. In the times of hardship and trial, the mentality to reach out and help others instead of withdraw is more easily reached.

At our Christmas 2015 get together, our family decided instead of giving gifts, we would have contest to give gifts for the homeless. This contest criteria was based on creativity, portability and usefulness. Our family is gifted with a wide variety of gifts and talents, so I was super excited to see what everyone came up with.

My grandmother came up with a go-bag. She repurposed a leather bag she had and filled it with every kind of tool and kit a homeless person could need.

My mother used her talent of cooking, making 8 bags of food for her homeless contribution. The bags consisted of homemade banana bread and whole wheat bread and homemade peanut butter. The bread was packaged in a handy carrying case.

My aunt used repurposed jeans, shirts and pajamas to make a beautiful handmade quilt. Her entry ended up winning the competition.

I upcycled plastic bags, cutting into plarn. I used to the plarn and thrift store yarn to crochet bags, so the homeless could carry their goods in them. As much as I love to crochet, I’m pretty slow. I would have liked to make a lot more bags, but time just got away from me and I wasn’t able to keep up the pace. Plarn combines my joy for upcycling and crocheting, and this project was extra special because I got to share that joy and help others. It’s easy to find ways to help others without having to spend a lot of money or time.

Can’t get enough love? Check out what these other bloggers have to say about it!

Affordable Valentine Gift Ideas – House of Fauci’s
A Sign of Christ’s Love for Us – Curbside Overhaul

What gives meaning to life? Friends? Family? Money? Accomplishments? For me, it's all about helping others. Check out the article to find out why.

Save

Save

10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year

How to Have a Green New Year

There are so many resolutions for a green new year.  Some people choose not to mess with resolutions at all because they know how difficult it is to actually follow through. Making a resolution, especially one to be more green, really doesn’t have to be hard. The trick is to narrow down that resolution to a specific goal and make a plan. It’s also not about overwhelming yourself with resolutions, this can also make it difficult to complete the resolution. Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas for baby steps for a green new year and once you conquer those, come back for the tips to step it up!

here are so many options for sustainable resolutions. If it seems a bit overwhelming, start with these 10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year.

1. Reusable shopping bags

As Americans, we go through 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year, costing retailers about $4 billion dollars.

Although people think plastic bags are “free,” not only do stores hide their cost in higher prices at the register, but plastic bags actually cost taxpayers .17 cents per bag in pollution clean-up costs too. In the state of California alone, public agencies spend more than $25 million annually to manage plastic bag pollution.

As far as sustainable efforts go, I’m sure this ranks high on everyone’s list for a green new year, but there is always one small problem. We can’t ever remember to bring them… This used to be a huge problem for me, but then I started shopping at Aldi’s. For those who haven’t experienced this joy, one of the many joys of Aldi’s is they charge extra for shopping bags. Generally, stores have the price of bags built into the cost of its products, but at Aldi’s they encourage you to bring your own bag or they’ll charge you extra to buy theirs. This practice helped me into the habit of bringing my own.

Tips

But for those, who don’t have an Aldi’s to remind them, having a routine that makes it easy to remember your bags is extremely important. I would recommend always having your bags put back in the car. If you have two cars that might end up with you at the store, then stock them both with your own bags. If it’s too much of a struggle to get the bags back to the car, maybe have a spot by the door to store them, so you can grab them as you go out.

Another solution is to get bags that fit easily in your purse, pocket or on your keychain, so you can have them at all times.

Step It UP

Even without plastic bags, we still bring in tons of plastic items into our homes. To take this step to the next level, you can opt for plastic-shopping. Bring your own produce bags or bulk items sacks.

2. Take your own cup

It is estimated that 500 billion disposable cups are discarded to landfill every year. That’s one million cups a minute, every hour of every day of every year. One-hundred forty-six billion of those are dedicated to our morning coffee.

One way we can easily change this is to simply bring your own cup to get your coffee or drink your water.

Although, I’m not a coffee drinker, I’ve been drinking from a water bottle for about a year now and I love it. I’m never thirsty or searching for the nearest water fountain because I always have a water bottle at my side.

Step It UP

Once you’ve started bringing your own cup for a while, it’s time to spread the joy so others can have a green new year. Having a New Year’s party or some other gathering throughout the year? Don’t use single-serve cups. Be an example for your friends and family with reusable cups and glasses. Sure it might require an extra step, but the benefits for our Earth and future are limitless.

3. Eating at the restaurant

Take out is full of single-use items that have no other purpose than to be thrown away. Generally, restaurants buy food in bulk, so while eating out might not be better for your health or pocket book, eating in actual restaurants is better for the Earth when it comes to packaging. You’ll get extra bonus points for eating at restaurants that serve locally-grown produce.

Step It UP

To take this step to the next level for a green new year, cooking at home is much better for your health and pocketbook. It’s tough to go from a lifestyle of eating out all the time to cooking at home, but it definitely gives you more control over where your food comes from, it’s quality, how it’s packaged and so many other factors.

4. Recycle cardboard

Cardboard is probably one of the easiest things there is to recycle, it also is more valuable for recycling companies, however many people still don’t see the value in recycling it. Recycling centers generally don’t take greasy or dirty cardboard, so it takes little effort just to put clean cardboard into the recycling bin rather than the trash.

Step It UP

Other recyclables take a bit more effort to recycle, but in the end are totally worth it. Once you’ve seen how easy it is to recycle cardboard, take a look at your current habits and see what else could easily be recycled. It will depend on your location and the services offered, but it is a great opportunity to help your local recycling company and help the Earth at the same time with minimal effort.

5. Don’t Litter

This one really should be a no-brainer, but there is no end to the amount of damage litter does to our eco-system. There is no reason to litter, just wait until you reach the gas station or your next rest stop before throwing that cup or cigarette out the window.

Step It UP

A lot of the pollutants out there might not be caused by careless folks, but rather trash that got caught in the wind. No matter how it got there, it can wreak havoc on animals and waterways. If you see a piece of trash, pick it up. It might seem small, but those pieces will add up. Your good example might inspire others to do it too.

6. Walk to places close by

Not just a suggestion for a green new year, but walking is good for your health and  cuts down wear and tear on your car. It’s up to you and your schedule, but a good goal would be to walk anywhere that takes 15 minutes or less to get to. If you have multiple stops within close proximity, you can park the car on one side and walk to the farthest location and work back toward your car.

Step It UP

Again, this is kind of up to an individual’s schedule. But try to add some extra steps to your routine and replace driving time. Plan your route to reduce driving or maybe make a commitment to walking any place within a mile.

7. Donate instead of throw away

Christmas just passed and if you’re anything like me, you have to get rid of some stuff to make room. It’s easy to just toss everything, but donating used items can be better for the Earth and your local thrift stores that probably use that money for charities.

Step It UP

This takes a bit more effort, but a minimalist life style can really be of great benefit for your every area of your life. It’s a lot less stress, requires less cleaning and effort in the long run, and is much better for the planet because you’re not buying as many new things.

8. Buy nothing one day a week

There are so many benefits to not buying things. Take one day a week to assess you budget and purchases for the week. Are these things you really need or that you have money for? Yes, there was probably a good sale, but when you stop and think that you could actually save 100 percent by not buying anything at all, it really is a no-brainer.

For me, buying nothing for a day, week or month is also about showing solidarity to the workers who make it. Especially in the electronics department, there is so many human right’s violations that went into making that. I try to live a simple life so that others might simply live. Buying less and letting go of the mentality of keeping up with the Jones’ is so freeing. I can focus on saving up for a house or investing my money, instead of living paycheck to paycheck for things I don’t really want or need.

Step It UP

Expand your buy nothing day to a week or even a month. This challenge really helps get your focus on planning ahead and only buying what you need, instead of whatever catches your attention. If you expand this practice to a greater length of time, maybe think of a buy nothing new year. Instead of getting new products made, you can purchase used products from thrift stores, Craigslist or maybe even check into a Buy Nothing New Facebook group or site. Finding a new sale is always exciting, but so it the liberation of buying things you don’t need. The hunt can go the opposite way. You can hunt at thrift stores or around your local stores and find the cheapest option.

9. Meatless one day a week

The benefits of eating less meatless are endless. A lot more of the planet’s resources are spent on meat as opposed to veggies. Going meatless once a  week is a great start to a more well-rounded diet. As a rule, eating more vegetables is better for your budget, too.

Step It UP

If you decide doing one meatless day a week is doable, try to expand to do more than one day or as many days as you feel comfortable.

10. Water plants with leftover water

This may seem small, but it can make a big difference over time. Cooking water can be used in a variety of ways.

Leftover non-salted water is a great thing to use to water your plants. Let the water cool down before you disperse it on any plants. If you don’t have any plants that need watered, keep the water for making soup.

Salted or Boiling water can be used as a weed killer.

Ice cubes that fall on the ground are great for small house plants.

Step It UP

Install a water collection system. This can be a huge benefit for your water usage. Once the collection system is in place, you can free, non-chlorinated water. There are many uses for this rain water including using it for garden or agriculture, using it in place of water used for washing pets, cars, driveways and side walks, refill your pond or swimming pool, some people even use to wash their clothes and flush. For more information, check out this great link for Rainwater Harvesting 101.

I hope this list inspired you to live a green new year. Leave a comment below on your tips and tricks for a green new year!

Don’t forget to pin these for later!

here are so many options for sustainable resolutions. If it seems a bit overwhelming, start with these 10 Easy Steps to a Green New Year.

Save

Save

Finding New Beginnings in Acts of Kindness

New Beginnings

Sometimes finding new beginnings a joyful thing seems utterly impossible. They usually come off the end of something, which might leave just the shell of a person.  I remember when I first moved from kindergarten to first grade, even then I felt like life was falling apart because I had to leave the comfort of what I knew. Even after all these years, I have to chuckle to myself at all the times I freaked out at common life changes. Moving from grade school math to pre-algebra caused a major meltdown because I was so scared I couldn’t make it. It seems a bit absurd now, but then I just thought the worst was happening. Boy, if I only knew.

The New Year always brings me hope. Despite being in a sorrowful ending, I feel joy as I am finding new beginnings in acts of kindness.

Continue reading

How to Make Handmade Gift Bows

The Joy of Upcycling

My first upcycled DIY project was handmade gift bows.  About seven years ago, I fell in love with the world of upcycling and still have not managed to find my way out of the dumpster. Oddly, enough it’s where I’ve found God’s love and my new beginning. It’s a gold mine of potential. Although, I get plenty of weird looks from people who just don’t get it, I find no reason to come back to the real world. These handmade gift bows were the first things I learned how to upcycle. Every year as I sit down to make them for the year, I am flooded with the joy upcycling brings me. I think about my hopelessness before God showed His love through upcycling. This year, I have plenty of reasons to feel hopeless. My life has turned out completely different than what I imagined, but as I sit and make these bows, I am reminded of how God sees me despite my imperfections.

I’m not sure what brought you to this post, but I hope these bows bring you even a fraction of the joy they brought me.

Handmade gift bows were my first upcycling project. Every Christmas, I am flooded with the joy upcycling brings me and I want to share that joy with you.

Continue reading

How to Have a Waste-Free Holiday

Waste-Free Tips

Is it possible to have a waste-free holiday? It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of the holidays and forget to be careful about the things we waste.  Check out these tips to help cut down waste in the areas of packaging, food, gifts and decorations, and start enjoying your waste-free holiday.

Check out these tips to help cut down waste in the areas of packaging, food, gifts and decorations, and start enjoying your waste-free holiday.

Continue reading

Why I Don’t Participate in Black Friday Shopping

Oh Where to Begin…

There are so many reasons why I don’t participate in Black Friday shopping, especially when it started on Thanksgiving.

Shopping on Black Friday isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s our attitude that worries me. I wasn’t always the anti- capitalism, corporations, money, greed or commercialism type. To some extent it was always true, but it was more because I was compassionate and wanted to help others. Commercialism has its place, but I could see when I was focused on getting more stuff, I didn’t focus as much on giving.

I can break down my reasons to not participate in Black Friday Shopping to three basic points.

There are many reasons not to participate in Black Friday shopping. Let’s make Black Friday the new Green Friday by working together to consume less junk.

Continue reading

How to Have Stress-Free Holidays

Is Stress-Free Holidays Possible?

Sometimes I think having stress-free holidays seems is an impossible dream. So many gifts, gatherings, families, meals and budgets that have to be planned for, it just seems like madness.

In the name of a stress-free holidays,  my family did a loose no-spend December plan a few years ago.  It started out that she wasn’t going to buy anything at all. She was going to have all her Christmas shopping done, all her food stocked, everything she needed to enjoy the holiday without being bogged down by commercialism. She wanted these holidays to be fun, not stressful. Sounds good, right? Then she realized stressing out about not being able to buy anything wasn’t fun, so she decided to buy from locally-owned stores or as locally as possible. This means supporting our local restaurants, local stores and artists.

It’s a pretty common practice for people to flow to the bigger city to do their holiday shopping. This can have a negative impact on the economy and also it’s just a waste of gas. Companies decide to locate in cities based on how companies like them are being supported in that particular city. If people always go to another city to buy stuff, then other companies aren’t likely to move there because its citizens aren’t supportive of the companies already there.

Getting everything arranged, bought and paid for can go along way in helping create stress-free holidays, but here are some additional tips that might be helpful.

Sometimes I think having stress-free holidays seems is an impossible dream. But with these ten tips, I have reduced my holiday stress and so can you!

Continue reading

How to Change the World: A Guide for Millennials

Why A Guide for Millennials?

Life on your own is a bit scary. I get it. I’ve been through job losses, roommate issues, and other things. Really, some of my worst fears have come to life and really I’d never thought I’d make it. But I am making it. I’m a perfectionist and mistakes I’ve always seen as a waste of time.  I wish I could take them all back, but if I did I would never know the amazing relief of knowing that I really can make it on my own.

Over the next few months, I will have to rely on my family more than I would like, but the fact that I’ve even made it this far is quite amazing to me. Most of my friends still haven’t left their parent’s house. I won’t be able to take back my mistakes, but I can use them to help others and I hope this guide for millennials will start that process. It won’t answer all the questions, but it will get you started to changing the world in no time.

Last week I wrote a message to millennials because I want to see this generation do great things and I believe we do have the right tools to do it. But some of us are a bit misguided about how the real world works. I decided to do some research and develop this guide for millennials. I want to see us make the difference, but first we’re going to have to realize a few things.

Life on your own is a bit scary. This guide for millennials won't answer all the questions, but it will get you started to changing the world in no time.

Continue reading

Motivational Monday- Find Stars

Small Things

We live in a crowded society and sometimes it clouds our minds, making it difficult to find stars. Recently, I’ve started to realize about life, which is sad because my mom has told me this for years, is that it’s all about the small things. Most people who are truly satisfied with their life say it’s all about the small things. Some find stars, rainbows, their family, a good deal at a thrift store, or whatever else there is. They find those stars and focus on it in the hard times.

Need some motivation to start of the week? Just remember When it rains, look for rainbows. When it's dark, look for stars. -Unknown Follow the link for this week's encouraging message.

The past few months have been bumpy to say the least. I let those circumstances control me, make me feel less than and completely overwhelm me. The funny thing is that no matter how low I felt, it was always the small things that helped me keep going. I refer to them as breadcrumbs because I literally felt like I was starving in a dessert, dying but all along the way, I would find little pieces of hope to keep going.

How I Find Stars

At first the bread crumbs were so small and so far apart, they weren’t nearly enough to survive on, but enough to give me hope. I knew God was there. He had to be quiet because it was a test, but I knew He was there rooting for me. Just like always, it was my passion for upcycling that got me through. Almost any time I left the house, took a walk around the block, I would get a bread crumb.

One time I was having a particularly rough day, I went to the beautiful campus across the street from my house. I wasn’t really looking for anything, I just wanted to escape and get some fresh air. I went to one of my favorite buildings and climbed the stairs to get to the balcony to look over the campus. Out of no where a bag, not just any bag, but a decent sized bag, came floating from no where. Bags mostly get stuck in bushes, ditches, and other places on the ground. However, this one really had no way of getting there, since it was heavier and the only way to get up to the balcony was from the stairs.

Now, I might sound crazy. Only a crazy person can find hope in a stupid plastic bag, but that bag was everything. I just knew it was waiting for me. It would give me plenty of plarn for my homeless bags.

Eventually, as I went on the bread crumbs were getting bigger. I felt more than hope, eventually I could quit crawling across the desert and pick myself up.

How Will You Find Stars

The thing is the big picture is too much for anyone person. You can’t have all the answers and you can’t do it all at once. You have to find those little things that bring you back. It can be plastic bags, rainbows, stars, your kids, whatever, but hang on to it. Look for the stars and they will guide you home.

Save

Save