I have always enjoyed making things and doing artsy-craftsy stuff. Ever since I can remember, I have had creative juices flowing through my veins. In the past, I would often make items to give as Christmas gifts. I have made hair barrettes, jewelry, storage containers, and photo albums. I have knitted scarves and throws. I have painted pictures and sewn zipper bags and books. And, it has been years since I have done this. So, this year I thought I would get back to my artistic roots—but in a little different way.
Ever since I found out about my “mystery” illness, I have done lots of research on what could be possible causes. In my research, and in my walk with Christ, I have come to my own personal conclusion that the more natural substances we can consume and come in contact with, the better. There are so many chemicals in what we eat and come into contact with each day, that are having very harmful effects on us. It is just not good.
God has created our bodies to be wonderfully complex. They have the power to heal themselves. If we just give our bodies the proper nutrition, the proper fuel, you can feel a difference. This is why I try my best to eat as many organic fruits and vegetables and grass-fed/natural proteins as I can. I limit my intake of anything processed. I am also working towards being completely gluten free and eating only natural sugars.
Most of the products we come in contact with, and use on a daily basis, are filled with harmful chemicals. I am talking about harmful chemicals that can be found in our water (fluoride for instance), food, plastics, furniture, cookware, cans, carpets, electronics, shower curtains, beauty products, and even home cleaning and body cleaning products. They are everywhere! (I warn you, don’t google it, unless you want to freak yourself out.)
When I first started reading up on this, I wanted to sell everything we own, buy some land in some remote part of Georgia, move, and figure out how to live off the land. Sadly, my hubby would never allow this! So, I am trying to do the next best thing—limit my contact and exposure to these chemicals as much as I possibly can. (A great resource is Suzanne Somers book Tox-Sick.)
So, how does one do this, you ask? And, what does this have to do with making Christmas presents?
Well, first, let me start by telling you that you can make your own cleaning and body products at home. Most of them are easy to make and are exponentially safer for you and your loved ones. Plus, in most cases, it is cheaper too! The majority of the all-natural ingredients you will need are probably already in your home: castile soap, baking soda, vinegar, witch hazel, raw honey, essential oils of your choice, and carrier oils of your choice. It is also good to have some washing soda and Himalayan sea salt handy.
Below I have a list of some of the most basic household items that we use day in and day out. These are all things you can make at home. I have included handy-dandy links from some great bloggers on how to make them.
These are the top 20 items I want to try and make soon. If you do research on Pinterest, you can find recipes for just about anything and everything. I am sure there are lots more than just these 20 items—but these will get you started. (In alphabetical order)
(Also, I would be remiss if I did not share with you about a company called Norwex. A friend of mine from high school introduced me to them. You can purchase wonderful, chemical free and all natural products from Norwex. My personal favorites, so far, are their EnviroCloths and kitchen towel and cloth sets. The EnviroCloths are great for cleaning just about every surface of your home. Check Norwex out by clicking here.)
Now, on to the gifts. Buy your ingredients and some cute containers to put them in and get to work! Instead of making Christmas cookies this year, make some peppermint body wash or lavender laundry detergent! Trust me when I tell you, your body will thank you. And, so will everyone you give these special homemade gifts to. There is nothing quite like receiving something that was specifically created just for you.
This past week I was cleaning out my old desk. After years of using one I bought from the thrift store, which was basically salvaged and painted, I came to my senses and decided to buy a nice, new, adult one. (The old one was rickety from the start and only got worse as the years went by. I was worried that it would collapse one day and take my iMac out along with it. Plus, I had painted it a funky blue with flowers and stuff on it. I loved it at the time, but looking at it now as an adult, it just wasn’t “me” anymore. I still love bright colorful stuff, but I have really grown up in my decorating tastes. And, my hubby couldn’t be happier about it! ...I digress…)
That old desk had three drawers that were packed full of stuff. Some things I kept, some I put in a box to donate, and some stuff I just threw away or recycled. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel so accomplished to clean up and clean out stuff. I have realized that that old saying, “less is more” is so true!
Anyway, in cleaning out my old desk, I came across a two-page article that I had printed out four or five years ago. As I have relayed in a past post, I have struggled mightily with my “job journey”. Over the years, I have done a great deal of research, spent loads of time on the internet reading articles, taken various tests, read tons of books, and even had a job coach. (And, I am sad to say, spent and wasted lots of time and money in the process.) But, as I re-read this article, I knew that God led me to save it and come back across it for a reason—and I am so glad He did!
At the time, it obviously struck a chord with me—otherwise, why would I print it out, highlight a section, and save it? For whatever reason, I was not in a place in my life where I could process or use the great information that the article shared. But, I can sure use it now. Re-reading this article was like an epiphany. And, I am now in a place where I can use it. Thank you, Lord for allowing me to save it and come back across it when I needed it!
So, what was this article about, you ask? Well, in a nutshell, a lady wrote into Human Workplace (a fabulous website, btw. I highly recommend you check it out.) asking for advice about her career. She was in a bad situation at work she wanted out of and was looking for advice and help to figure out her next move. Liz Ryan, from Human Workplace, responded with this: (This is the part I highlighted, because it really hit home with me.)
The key is to always be moving toward something, not escaping from something. What we find when we try to escape a bad situation is that no escape is possible, because until we figure out where we're headed and why, we most often find that whatever we've escaped to is no better (and sometimes worse) than whatever situation we left.
From your lips to God’s ear, Liz. I have job hopped so much in my life, you might as well call me Frogger. The reason(s) why have always been because I wanted to escape from something; be it a bad boss, a bad workload, a bad commute, or just an overall bad work environment. For the longest time, I was just looking to get out of a bad situation, to escape. And, I had no idea how to focus on where I was headed. (Mainly because I didn’t know where I wanted to go, much less how to get there.)
All I know is I just wanted out of the current bad situation, or as I refer them, toxic environments. And, just as Liz stated above, I always ended up in a situation that was just as bad, if not worse, than the one I left. I was basically in this horrible vicious cycle. I would go from one bad job to another to another. It was maddening and at times I felt like I was losing my sanity. It had gotten to the point where I had given up hope for ever finding anything even half-way decent.
However, about six months ago, an idea popped into my head. It is an idea that I would never have had, had I not been on this job journey. And, while I don’t want to share the specifics with you right now, I will say that it is an idea that I have been working on for the last six months. It is something I have a passion for. It is something that energizes me and excites me. It is something that I can use my God-given talents on. It is something that I can focus on and it is giving me the much-needed direction in my life that I crave job-wise. And, the bonus, for me, is that it is something that God put into my heart and mind.
So, I just wanted to share a little encouragement with you today. If you don’t know where you are headed in your job, or in any aspect of your life for that matter, start thinking about what gives you joy. Then, start thinking of ways you can do that activity more. Or, in the case of a job, if you can turn that activity into a way to generate income. Then, go after it. As Nike always tells us, "just do it".
Pray a lot. Talk to God. Take steps each day towards what you want. Even tiny, little baby steps. Forward progress is forward progress. Start thinking positively and write everything down. Whatever idea you have, right it down. I believe that keeping a notebook is so helpful. It allows you to remember things and stay on track. Share your thoughts and ideas with someone you love and trust. Let them help guide you and cheer you on. You need to do these things. Trust me on this!
Two crucial elements of this whole thing is to: 1) pray and trust God and 2) move forward towards something. (Don't always be escaping from something.)
Honestly, I think the most vital aspect it to put God first in your life. When you start spending more time with Him, talking to Him and thanking Him for all of your blessings, He starts to really show up more and more in your life. At least, He has in mine. And, God wants to play an active part in our lives each day. God desires a relationship with us. And, when you develop that relationship, you will notice more and more the blessings flowing around you from God. It is the most beautiful thing ever! Please don't miss out on it.
I hope and pray that you find this information as useful as I have. Now, go get out there and start working your way towards something wonderful!
Here in the Atlanta area, we are now getting the rain and wind associated with Hurricane Irma. So far, so good, especially when you consider what we all thought very bad things were going to happen.
Irma is one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. As a category five hurricane with consistent wind speeds of up to 185 miles per hour, it is the longest-lasting top-intensity cyclone ever recorded. (A category five is anything with sustained winds of over 157 miles per hour.) And, not only are the winds crazy, but the sheer size of the storm has had everyone on the edge of their seats. (And, not in a good way.) Irma can cover the entire state of Florida and is more than twice the size of Hurricane Andrew.
Irma was projected and predicted to hit south Florida and move up along either the east or west coast wreaking total-destruction in some areas, along with life-threatening storm surges and heavy rain. And, hit Florida it did. And while we don’t know exactly how bad things are down there, especially in the keys, we do know one thing; it has NOT been the catastrophic event we all thought it would be. (I kept re-playing Katrina over and over in my mind.)
When I went to bed last night, I was expecting to see thousands of homes and buildings flattened when I got up this morning. I was expecting to see to thousands of people in terribly rough shape. I was expecting to see complete towns wiped off the map. Basically, I was expecting to see hell on earth. Thank God, praise Jesus, I didn’t see any of that.
That’s not to say that horrible things didn’t happen, but it is definitely not on the level that I was expecting. And, while we are not out of the woods yet, I, for one, am breathing a huge sigh of relief. What we have left now are winds and rain that feel manageable, live-through-able.
The only thing I can chalk this up to is God. I know many, many, many people prayed about this storm. A friend of mine shared an amazing video on Facebook yesterday of people gathered on the beach in Jacksonville, Florida praying and singing to God.
He heard our collective prayers and acted. He weakened this storm, the biggest on record, and spared the good people of Florida. I truly believe this. It is because of his hand. He sees each and every one of us and He hears our prayers. And, thank the Lord, He answers prayers as well.
And, I do know we still have a sketchy evening ahead. There is a lot of rain and wind and possible tornadoes. But, I am going to keep on praying and trusting in God. He has taken very good care of me so far in this life, and I know He isn’t going to stop now.
Please join me in prayer for all of us who are feeling the effects of Hurricane Irma. Also, please pray for all the people in Caribbean who did feel the devastating effects of this hurricane. Together, we can continue to see his hand at work through all of this.
Some days I just feel like crying. Do you? Sometimes, I don’t even know why. I just want to cry.
It’s been rainy here the last few days. A stupid terrorist killed people at a concert in the UK the other night. A sweet girl I know has a dear aunt in hospice and they don’t expect her to live much longer. A girl I went to high school with had her house burn down a few days ago. All of these things make me sad.
I know the purpose of this blog is to focus on God and good, but let’s be honest—it is not always an easy thing to do. Real life is tough and I want this blog to reflect that. You need the bad to know what the good is. You need the lows with the highs, the winters to contrast the summers, etc.
And, you know what? It’s ok! It is ok to be sad. And, no, you don’t always have to have a reason. I just needed to share that.
If you are feeling down or a little bit blue for any reason, I suggest listening to this song from We Are Messengers called Magnify. Listen to the words. Let them seep in. And, I hope you feel better.
If you look at my resume or my Linkedin profile, you will notice that I tend to move from one job to the next quickly. I average about 18 months in one place. My hubby will sometimes remind me that this is not good. (However, I was at my last job for almost four years. That is progress, right?) But, I personally don’t feel like job-hopping is necessarily bad. The professional world is not the same as it was twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. And, I have always had, what I feel like, are legitimate reasons to job-hop in the first place.
First, I want to preface this by telling you how my mind works. Or, rather, use to work. For many, many years I have had this notion in my head that I should be good at something. Or, be naturally talented enough at one thing to make a living out it. Or, have so much passion for something, that I should just KNOW what I wanted to do with my life. I would look around me and see people who were doing things they loved, or that they were naturally gifted at, or that they had a huge passion for. I had none of these things. I thought I was abnormal. I thought that there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I felt lost and that I was on this job-journey that I did not want to be on. One that would NEVER end. I felt like Michael W. Smith wrote “Place in This World” just for me.
And, only recently have I had the epiphany that, most people DO NOT have any idea what they want to be when they grow up. Many start out thinking they want to do one thing, then pivot to something else, then pivot again and again. This means that I am NOT abnormal! I am not the only one who is adrift in this sea of “what do I want to do with my life?” Michael W. Smith wrote that song for many us! I can’t tell you how much better this makes me feel.
I go through this cycle of trying to find a good fit, as I suppose most people do. First, I thought it was most important to do something I loved. Then, I thought I needed to find a cool place to work. A place that was more fun and laid back. Later, I realized that the environment I worked in also needed to fit with my morals and values. (I need to work for a company I like, with people I respect.) Also, high on my list is being paid fairly for the work I do, having good benefits, and a good work-life balance. It would also be great if this job was close to home, because honestly, spending hours going to and from work sucks. (If you haven’t already figured this one out for yourself, you can trust me on this one. When you sit in traffic for more than an hour each way, you are worn out before you even get to work, much less do any work. But, I digress…)
For a long time, I thought that to be truly happy with my professional life, I needed these things I listed above: a job I enjoyed doing, a company I liked, leaders and co-workers I respected, a good and fair salary, and nice benefits. However, finding ALL of these things in a job is basically like looking for a unicorn in the forest. They only exist in our minds.
I have finally gotten to a stage in my life where I have realized two very important things.
ONE: As you grow and change, your job needs grow and change right along with you. Where you are in life and what you are doing will always change. The job you had when you were a teenager wouldn’t cut it if you got married and had kids. Conversely, if you are suddenly single again, or an empty-nester, your life has changed, which means your needs will change. This means that your job situation may need to change too. This is just how life is. The only constant is change. Just remember that you should always do what is in your best interest.
TWO: In the grand scheme of things, life is NOT about work. Sure, most of us must do it in order to live/survive. And, of course, you should do your best to be as happy as you can be at work, especially considering how much time you send there. But, life is about so much more. What job/career we do in life, does NOT make us who we are. How we treat other people, our family, our friends, and ourselves--that is much more important.
I read a story many years ago, about a man who was a trash collector. Now, this is not a job most people would like to do. Actually, the guy in the story didn’t like it at first either. But, this man shared that in his line of work, he came across a lot of different people each day. And, he soon began to realize that just by saying hello to them and showing interest in them, he could make them smile. He then started thinking of his job NOT as being a trash collector, but being a smile maker. He adjusted his outlook and what a huge difference he made in not only his life, but those he encountered each day. I remember thinking how beautiful that was!
Basically, what I am trying to convey is that we shouldn’t get so caught up in what our “jobs” are. What we should be concerned with is who WE are. Once we make that inward change and decide to find the good in our situations and focus on that, that can make all the difference in our lives.
It isn’t necessarily easy. But, I, for one am working on changing myself from the inside. Maybe this post will encourage you to do the same!
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.