Posts Tagged ‘giving’

Simple Pleasures

I was out in my garden this morning, rueing the fact that I had avoided weeding the watermelons for so long that the crab grass and other weeds that surround my garden had made that patch almost indistinguishable from my lawn.  It was the fact that the weeds were so dense they were hard to pull that bothered me, but at the same time, I found peace in weeding.  It’s a methodical, deliberate task, done in a quiet, uncluttered space.

I’ve mentioned my quest on this blog before – I want to live with purpose.  I may not end up famous, or rich, or popular, but I want to be content because I’ve chosen a path and lived it well.

This past year I was thrown for a loop.  I was going along well when all of a sudden we had three children.  And that third one was a big deal, because suddenly everything was different, harder.  Going from one to two was, for some reason, infinitely easier.

I found out later that it was, perhaps, the fact I was diagnosed with chronic major depression years ago and never did anything about it, coupled with post partum depression after Baby Girl was born.  My life was literally spinning out of control, and at the same time, Wee Essentials was growing with a lot of speed.

Fast forward to now, and I’m on medication and feeling better than I have since I was a young teenager.  I’ve created systems and routines and worked with my husband to schedule time for everything that has to be done.  It may sound like I’ve regimented my life, but what I’ve done is relearned how to live with purpose.

One of the major things that has helped has been a book called “Sink Reflections.” Many people know the author as the “FLYlady.”  I’ve learned a lot from her, but I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is that when your house is cluttered, your life is cluttered.  Your mind is cluttered.  And your spirit is cluttered.

We don’t have a cluttered house.  You wouldn’t call the TV show “Hoarders” to come help us.  But when I decided that if it’s not useful and if I don’t love it, it needs to go, more peace settled on my house.  I’m not done yet, but my spirit is lighter because my physical burden is lighter.


My challenge to you is to find 20 things in your house that you can do without, and throw or give them away.  Don’t save them for a yard sale, don’t think about freecycling them.  Just stick them in a box and then put them in the car.  Go to the Goodwill or the Salvation Army the next time you run errands.  Remember, if you are saving them “just in case” it’s likely you won’t use them.  Don’t be selfish and hang onto items other people could use!  (Trust me, I know personally how easy that one is.)  Good luck, and go!


Simplicity at Home, Part 2 – Where does this stuff go?

A few days ago, I talked about a simple way to start conquering clutter in your home.  I have it easy – I just have to pack up my whole house, separating the things I want to keep from the things I don’t want any longer!  Most of you, I wager, don’t have it so easy.  (LOL.)

Today I wanted to cover what to do with that stuff.

Okay, let’s say you’ve already had a garage sale, so a lot of the good, usable stuff is gone.  Some of the items (like used printer cartridges and old sneakers) are probably best left out of the sale, but you hate to throw them away.  What do you do?  Where does this stuff go?

Well obviously, the next bet might be freecycle.  In any given city, it’s likely you will find a new owner for your cracked aquarium, your well-worn (and moth-eaten) wool coat, and your legless coffee table.  But if you have no takers, here are some other options:

Ink Jet Printer Cartridges: Many office supply stores will accept used printer cartridges for refill.  If you don’t want to refill them, get a credit toward purchases at their store, instead!  I have been told that both Staples and Office Depot will give you a $3 store credit for each cartridge you relinquish – up to 10 a month.  That’s $30 in your pocket to use for school supplies, office supplies, and other household necessaries!  I’m about to try this – I have well over 20 cartridges saved up – so I’ll let you know how it goes.

Unusable Clothing: Drop them off at your local Salvation Army anyway.  They recycle clothing that is too torn, stained, or otherwise unwearable into other products.

Magazines and Books: You can always trade them at for other books, but if you don’t want to wait, give them to your local library for their fundraising book-sale.  Or you can offer them to your local nursing home – residents are always grateful for new reading materials.  Family friendly magazines can be dropped off at your local elementary school office (with permission, of course) for teachers to grab for art projects.

Egg Cartons, Baby Food Jars, Shoeboxes and other clean “trash”: Again, teachers love this stuff.  Especially elementary school teachers.  These items, and many others, are great supplies for wonderful art projects but aren’t always easy to find.  I once taught elementary school myself – these kinds of items are worth their weight in gold!

Personal Care Products (Including partially used ones): I put some personal care products up on Freecycle, many lotions and shampoos were partly used, but didn’t work for me.  I had someone pick them up for their own personal use, but I also had someone who was an employee of a local nursing home who was interested in them for the residents there.  She said it wasn’t technically allowed (at least not the used items,) but often the residents would run out of what they needed.  Ask around a bit, and you may find someone willing to take them – a nursing home, a women’s shelter, or the family down the street with lots of kids!

Any other suggestions for creative locations to give things away?

March and Global Food Initiative

We do not see many references these days to the food crisis in the news. It has been eclipsed by economic fears. But we are still not out of the woods. I call it our forgotten crisis – because it has not gone away.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in opening remarks at press conference, New York, 10 February 2009

Just a quick note to mention that this month 10% of my sales will be going to Compassion International’s “Global Food Initiative.”  Today, March 11th, is Global Food Crisis Day, and I’ve been reading and listening all day to stories from missionaries and activists about the problem of hunger. Something I didn’t realize – something I’d never even thought of – was that not only have food prices doubled and tripled here, but they’ve doubled and tripled in other countries, too; places where food was unaffordable for some to begin with.

I’ve got two young little boys, and I can’t even imagine the horror of not knowing if I’d be able to feed them.  Of listening to them cry in hunger.  My heart is breaking for the mothers in Haiti and Africa, feeding their children mud cakes or warm water, just to help fill their bellies and give them comfort.

So whenever you purchase something from my Etsy store, I’ll be giving 10% to Compassion to get food to these families.  For those of you unfamiliar with Compassion, it is a Christian organization that sets up schools and churches in many, many countries, including the US.  They are one of several reputable “sponsor a child” organizations out there.  (We’ve been sponsoring a child – though she’ll turn 18 this summer – for several years ourselves. What an honor it has been to be able to read her letters and “watch” her grow!)

The thing that makes Compassion ideal for this social issue is that they are already in the community.  They already have churches and schools and other central locations perfect for distributing food.  They can simply transfer the money to the workers already in the area, who can go immediately to buy the food for those who need it.  No collecting it overseas, shipping it to another country, going through all the bureaucratic red tape while the food rots or rusts in the harbor, just to get it to the people who need it.

Now, you don’t have to buy from me to get food to the people who need it!  And it’s not expensive at all – not to our standards.

$13 will feed one child for a month. That’s one meal for one person at a mid-level restaurant.

$156 will feed one child for a year.  That’s a week’s worth of groceries for many American families!

What about the parents?  When they don’t have to worry about finding food for their kids, their burdens are eased as well.  They also will be able to eat better, eating their portions and the children’s portions.
Donate here!

I’ll probably keep this charity as long as possible.  I’m unsure how long Compassion will continue this work.

I also realize there are some people who have qualms about Compassion, for several different reasons, very often the religious aspect of it.  To those people, I’d ask that they do one of two things:  find another organization that fulfills this same need, and/or remember a saying I read on a local marquee sign:  “Charity remembers the need, not the cause.”  This isn’t about defending one’s religious beliefs – it’s about feeding children.

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