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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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You Can Change the World: A Message for Millennials

Mixed Messages

If a had a penny for every article I’ve read that was a message for millennials, I’d have a lot of pennies. There’s a lot of mixed messages out there for millennials. Are we good, bad or indifferent? Lazy or we go getters? Are we going to change the world or we going to stay living in our mom’s basement forever?

If a had a penny for every article I've read that was a message for millennials, I'd have a lot of pennies and there's a lot of mixed messages. But we can stop playing into the stereotypes and actually change the world.

Two Sides

I too have mixed feelings about millennials. Supposedly, we’re the ones that break all the social norms and change the world. In some ways I see that. Our rally behind Bernie Sanders was pretty incredible. We’ve come up some of the best technology, we show the world how to accept others, and we care about the issues facing our world. We see the injustice, care about more than making money, and we have creative solutions.

But I also see the other side. I see millennials making more than parents and still not moving out. And the opposite, millennials who complain about the injustice of everything and still don’t work more than part time and minimum wage. There’s a lot of whining and not a lot of getting hands dirty. I see a LOT of selfies.

It’s Unfair

When I first had the idea for this article, my message for millennials was we should give ourselves a break. And in some ways that true. Millennials have it rough. So much is expected of us, but at the same time nothing is expected of us. We’re called self-centered, lazy and entitled. We’re told time after time, if we don’t get a degree, we’re going to fail eternally at life.

Then those same people hike up the tuition so high, there’s no way you could pay for it a reasonable amount of time. So then we graduate, with crap loads of debt, but we can’t find a job to pay it off. Guess where they are? Being hogged up by the same generation that told us we’re worthless for not going to college and the same people who say we’re stupid for racking up college debt. Quite a few things have changed since that generation went to college. Yes, people always had to work their way up, but the retirement age was significantly lower then. Also, the rate of inflation for college tuition is astronomical.

In 1950, a family sending their child to the University of Pennsylvania would only spend 18 percent of their annual income (if they paid in cash) to send their kid to study.  Today it would consume 79 percent of gross annual income.  Even if we look at net take home pay a regular family in no way could send their child to school without going into massive student debt.

What If?

I was going to say what if we’re not the lazy generation, but the efficient one? Why are we lazy for not wanting to go to college when there is a whole world of resources that we can look into for free?

Instead of waiting our turn and waiting until we’re 50, the elders finally retire, we’re going to do our own thing. Some might call it lazy or selfish, but we call it living.

Yes, we do live with mom and dad because we aren’t able to find a job that pays more than minimum wage because ‘we’re paying our dues’. Minimum wage times 40 hours= about $1,200 before taxes. Tell me, on what planet can a person find an apartment, pay the bills, plus all the extras that come up, buy food and still be able to save? It’s just not possible. For that reason, it’s hard not to play into their message for millennials- that we have no place in the workforce.

As a side note, I should say I KNOW not all millennials out there doing great things. They’re in the news, I read about them and I think wow! But I feel like those are the exceptions, not the rule. Those people who are the exceptions or know the exceptions might take issue with the next part, but I’m not talking about you. The rest of us need a pep in our step.

But…

And in a lot of ways these things are true. Seeing that I haven’t been alive to see how easy or hard the other generations had it, it’s kind of hard for me to really know, if we’re better or worse off than the other. I do see a unique situation that other generations haven’t faced. But in a lot of ways, I know that’s a bunch of crap.  There’s a reason I don’t spend a lot of time with my co-millennials and that’s simply because I can’t stand them. We got everything handed to us when we were kids and now we expect our dreams to be handed to us as well. We don’t want just a job, we want the standard of living our parents have when we haven’t earned it. And if I run into another person, who has stopped to take a selfie, I’m going to take their phone and smash it.

Yes, we want to change the world because the generations before us messed it all. We cry and wah, because the world isn’t right. But how do we go about doing that? Well, we post pictures with deep sayings and memes pointing out the hypocrisy in the world. I hate to say it, but that’s not really going to change anything. We’re going to actually get off our parent’s couches and get our hands dirty. We’re playing into their message for millennials- we’re lazy and self-centered.

Earn It

As far as student loans go, it’s understandable for millennials to be upset. Our folks told us to go to college, told us we won’t amount to much we don’t go, so we went. Now, we have all this debt and we still can’t a job for more than $7.50 an hour. But then again, I know quite a few students, who switched their major several times, instead of saving money they partied their way through school. Now, instead of finding ways to develop what they learned in school while looking for their dream job, they’re just complaining on their mom’s couch waiting for the perfect job to find them. Sorry, but a piece of paper doesn’t prove anything. Develop a portfolio, start a project, start your dream job in your mom’s basement, find the people who need it and find a way to get paid for it.

Why we’re not moving out on our own? Yes, the average student is walking away with a piece of paper that’s worth about $15,000 to $33,000 in debt. They’re putting off getting married, buying cars and houses because they simply can’t afford it. Many millennials graduated in the middle of the recession, so what are they supposed to do? Get a job? That’s madness!

Make Your Own Way

Yes, I get it. It’s infuriating to owe $33,000 in debt and still have to go work at McDonalds. It seems like the worst. Absolute worst. But sitting on your mom’s couch, not doing anything is so much worse. Seriously, go get a job. Any job. Work on your dream on the side, build up a network and a reputation and slowly work your hours down at the job you hate and replace it with your new income. You don’t need people’s permission or the perfect opportunity to do what you love, you just do it. Make a place for yourself. Millennials can change the world, but first they need to get over themselves.

And while you’re at it, put down the $5 coffee, cancel your Spotify and all your monthly box subscriptions, and yes you can live without the latest smart phone.

Message for Millennials

The thing I love is that millennials can change the world. We have the right tools. The disdain for corrupt institutions, the question of all traditions. My message for millennials is that we can’t allow these older generation to keep us down through debt and lack of jobs. It’s not all about happiness and rewards, but being able to look in the mirror and know we made a difference. Stop posting memes. Get out there and do something.

Next week I will get into more details about the steps we need to take make a difference in our communities and in our world.

If a had a penny for every article I've read that was a message for millennials, I'd have a lot of pennies and there's a lot of mixed messages. But we can stop playing into the stereotypes and actually change the world.

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Motivational Monday-The Right Time

Time…

It might be safe to say that time is our worst enemy- we’re always waiting for Mr. Right Time. Ohh yes, the waiting game. waiting for this or that, waiting for the…. right time.
Sorry folks, if you’re waiting for the right time, it’ll never come. There’s always something to go wrong, something else you have to get done. There will always be something that needs your attention.
Need some motivation to start your week off? Just remember: "Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along." -George Herbert

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Be Thankful and Change the World

Why Should We Be Thankful

Being thankful might not change the entire the world, but for the handful of people you see on a consistent basis, you can definitely change their world. I think everyone has experienced the power of negativity. We all have that person that criticizes everything we do and we feel that we can never measure up. But have we ever stopped to consider the power of the opposite? The power of positive words? The power to be thankful? The thing is you have no idea what people are going through and the day you thank them might just be the day that they are at the end of their rope.

To be thankful might not change the entire the world, but for the handful of people you see on a consistent basis, you can definitely change their world.

Believe me, there is nothing more frustrating than that employee, significant other, boss, friend, partner, that just never seems to do what you want or need. You yell, complain, throw tantrums and still nothing changes. Again, you might have no idea what challenges that person is facing. They might have an unappreciative spouse, a demeaning boss, kids that are getting in trouble at school, money troubles or any number of things going on that keep them from doing a good job at what you need.

Try to Be Thankful

If the yelling and fighting has done nothing, try something new. Try thank you. Every one can do something good. Find something about that person that you can be thankful for then tell them. It might seem impossible at first, but not only will it change their world, and it might even change your perception of how you see them. It doesn’t even have to be something they’re good at. Maybe your wife is a terrible cook, but she still tries every night. Everyone is their own worst critic, I’d bet a fair amount that she knows she’s terrible, but still, she tries. A thank you would go such a long way to know that she is appreciated and still loved though she is not perfect.

If you have a terrible employee, but they show up every day, just say thank you. Some times just that small appreciation will go a long way in making them work even harder or believe in themselves enough to get results.

Life Happens

For probably the past 6 months, I’ve been working trying to be thankful, really working on telling people that I appreciate them. It was something that my mom drilled into me for a big portion of my life and I never did really listen. No big shocker there. It wasn’t until about two years after college, I had one terrible job, one job that was ok, but I got fired from, then one job where they promised to help me move up if I did well in their program but that never happened, then finally one really awesome job that I loved but felt pretty inadequate at, then finally the job I have now. As you can imagine that progression got pretty discouraging.

On top of that, I had a roommate, who messed up everything I cleaned, took credit for any progress I made and would always come to tell me how well they were doing, when I was in such a crappy place. It didn’t happen all at once and first I didn’t notice, but I just got lower and lower. Even if no one had seen my struggles, it would have changed my outlook on everything. Fast forward a year or so, I lost the job I loved because the company ran out of money. During the three months I didn’t have a job were the lowest of the low. I desperately needed a job, but everywhere I turned the doors shut in my face.

The Power of Appreciation

I had never felt so useless or so unworthy. All I had was my mom rooting me on and thanking me for getting out of bed and trying. I also had my cat, but he complains about everything, so not helpful. It was then that I realized the power of appreciation. When the world couldn’t care less, we all need that person telling us that they care. We need some one to tell us that we can do it when we think we can’t.

I’m sure everyone has their own story of the time when someone reaching out to show they care would have changed everything for them in that moment. Learn from those moments and be the thing you needed for others. I promise it will change you and that wholehearted goodness will come back to you when you need it most.

Real World Examples

I’m sorry because this is kind of side note, but one that I see all the time. When I am looking at product reviews and I have a choice between a company with no reviews and a company with tons, but they have mixed reviews, I’ll almost go with the company with no reviews. I’ve learned over the years, people are so much more likely to say something negative before they’ll ever say something positive, especially online. People are so quick to tear others down, but they always hold back when saying something good.

It’s so sad that we live in that kind of world and this lack of appreciate can really change someone’s world for the worst.. One-third of businesses fail within the first two years. Although, I have the most supportive family, I have several friends who say they get more support from strangers than their friends and family. Everyone congratulates you when you get a new job, but when you follow your dreams? Not a peep. People! Support each other! Know a friend who just started a business? Try their product or service, SAY THANK YOU and spread the word, leave a positive review, leave comments on their blogs, do something to bring that friend support. Even if you have no use for their product, like their business posts on Facebook when you see them. How hard is it to show support for your friend, who has taken the leap to follow their dreams?

Change the world and be thankful. It will not only change your world, but it will change the world of those around you.

We wrote this post as a collaborative effort. Here are some of other favorite pieces on thankfulness to get in the right mindset for Thanksgiving.

Thankful for Little Things– Little Sprouts Home Daycare

3 Ways Having a Baby Made Me Thankful– Tapestry Chronicles

The Moment We Share With the Children– Hello Daycare

Our Reason to Be Thankful? Second Chances– Curbside Overhaul

Cranberry Glazed Ham and Thankfulness– Cottage Making Mommy

Don’t forget this pinspiration for later!

To be thankful might not change the entire the world, but for the handful of people you see on a consistent basis, you can definitely change their world.

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Motivation Monday- Find Your Passion

Finding Your Purpose?

Find your passion. Sometimes it seems impossible. Why is it so hard to find your passion? I think a lot of people struggle with finding their purpose. I would like to know, if this is like an American concept or an international one. I feel like the American dream places a strong emphasis on individualism, being unique, knowing your purpose, etc. There is a lot of pressure to find the ‘one’ because finding these things are supposed to make us complete. I think Christianity also places an emphasis on fulfilling a purpose, living for other instead of yourself, etc.

Too Much Pressure

It’s a lot pressure for some. Can you find your passion any easier? I don’t think so. It just comes when it comes. There’s no rhyme or reason. There’s a lot of major decision to be made and most of the time they have to be made before our purpose is really clear. College, for instance, can be a lot of pressure because if you know you’re purpose then you can choose classes to help you get there. Sometimes those classes help you find your passion, but if not, there might be a lot of anxiety, What if you pick the wrong major??? Then what if you have an opportunity to get married, but they won’t support your vision. What if you eat steak instead of chicken then you have mad cow disease then you miss the only opportunity you have to interview for your dream job???

Need some motivation to start off your week? Just remember: "If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right to your purpose." - Bishop T.D. Jakes

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