Just Some News

I got some news, you guys! But first, this is where we were this weekend:

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This was when I was huddling by the fire soaking up a few minutes of morning quiet while the kids slept in the tent.  So thankful we live just mere hours from gorgeous places like this, though I think I’ve had my fill of winding, I-think-we-could-fall-off-the-side-of-the-mountain roads for a little bit.

Anyway. On to the news!

This blog is getting a mini makeover, in the form of a name change! Now that I’ve been blogging for almost a year I feel like I have a much clearer idea of what I enjoy writing about and where this blog is headed. For The Love of Justice is an alright name but I feel like it doesn’t encompass the things I am most passionate about – living simply and finding ways to be intentional and thoughtful in the everyday aspects of my life (at the grocery store, with those I love and so on).

Sooo…beginning in September this blog will become Notes From A Thoughtful Life.

Because apparently I can’t seem to pick short names.

The thing I like most about the new name is that it feels more open ended. I can (and will!) still talk about fair trade and living thoughtfully but I am also able to blog about the other things I love that don’t quite fall under justice type topics.

For the rest of the month I will be working on switching this blog over to the new name. Hopefully everything will go seamlessly but I’m still a total newb at all this website stuff so I sincerely apologize if you run into any glitches along the way!

While I am doing all the glamerous behind the scenes stuff, you can keep yourself entertained with a few of my old posts from when I first started blogging last fall!

Can I REALLY Make A Difference?

Our Clothes: Where They Come From And Why It Matters

Where To Find Sweat-Free Clothing

Embracing Normal (Because you need to read that Henry Drummond quote at the very end. So, so good.)

And my very first blog post ever…The Beginning

Favorites This Week (8/1)

My Beauty Routine // Unfancy 
I love Caroline’s take on balancing natural body care with the regular old stuff and her thoughts on body image.

Thirty In a Box // You Are My Fave 
In light of this week’s birthday post, I sorta love this idea!

7 Reasons Why We Should Stop Praising Excess // Becoming Minimalist 
Yes.  Just yes.

#BringBackOurGirls May Be Doing More Harm Than Good // Relevant Magazine
I really appreciate the perspective of this article and reminder to be intentional about social justice issues.

One Family’s Mantra & How It Has Shaped Them // Let Why Lead
I love, love, loved this.  So much I wrote “Do The Hard Things” on a piece of paper and hung it on my fridge.

Happy Friday, Y’all!

 

Ethical Birthday Gifts + Thoughtful Gifting Tips

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Is there an official birthday season? Because I feel like we are in it. Not only am I a summer birthday girl and so are three of my grandparents, my husband, my sister, my daughter and a long line of friends or their kids! I could list them all but we would be here awhile.

Mr. Google has confirmed my suspicions. September 16 is the most popular birth date for those born from 1973 to 1999. However, the months leading up to that day – June, July and August – rank as the most popular months to be born (you can check out this chart). All those holiday festivities and new year resolutions about nine months ago must’ve put everyone in the baby making mood (wink, wink).

In honor of all the summer birthdays (and all those birthday parties you are probably attending) here are a few fair and ethical gift ideas. They all sit nicely at twenty bucks or less so there is no need to shell out a lot of cash to gift thoughtful yet ethical presents!

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1. Owl Salt Shakers // Serrv $16

2. Chocolate & Beer Pairing Kit // Fair Trade Winds $20

3. Mustache Coasters // Greenheart Shop $13

4. Mr. Mustache Eyeglass Holder // Fair Trade Winds $18

5. Stitching Postcard // Oeuf NYC  $5

6. Terrarium Postcards/ wall art // Quill & Fox $7

7. Good Luck earrings // Mata Traders $18

8. Leather Journal // Light Gives Heat $20

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1. Eco Kids Modeling Clay // Fair Indigo  $19

2. Sammy Snail Whistle // Serrv  $5

3. Lion // Amani Ya Juu  $12

4.  Green Toys Fire Truck // Amazon  $20

5. The Pom Headband // Krochet Kids  $7.50

6. Lately Lily Activity Kit // Lately Lily  $15

7. Four magnetic cubes // Tegu  $12

8.  Green Toys Race Car // Greenheart Shop  $13

 

THREE TIPS FOR MORE MEANINGFUL GIFTS

Thoughtful trumps expensive and elaborate.
I love giving gifts. I’m not always perfect at it, but I really like searching for a gift that I know the recipient is going to love – not just something I threw together at the last minute (though that sometimes happens, not going to lie). Gifts, when chosen right, have this amazing quality of being able to convey thoughtfulness and appreciation without any words at all. How much they cost or how mind blowing they are has nothing to do with that!

Don’t hate the gift card.
The gift card sometimes get a bad rap. It’s so impersonal. It looks like you don’t care. Blah. Blah. Blah. HOWEVER, I love getting gift cards. I sometimes feel guilty about spending money on just myself so a gift card all to myself is seriously awesome. And I’m kinda specific about the things I like so again, the gift card! The key to making a gift card look like you care is really in how your present it.  Dress it up in a pretty birthday card or give it alongside another small gift, like a chocolate bar or their favorite pack of drinks!

Write a note.
Encouragement is the best, y’all, and my family is awesome at it. My sisters and mom write the nicest and most encouraging things to me and it makes. my. day.  One of the best ways to make a gift meaningful is to write a sweet note in the card. Kind, sincere words have a way to staying with you for a long time. Tell the birthday person what you love or admire about them. It might be even more memorable than the gift!

What are your gift giving tips?

One Thing At A Time

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I randomly picked up a book recently called The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. Well, I guess it wasn’t random since I will read anything I can get my hands on when it comes to minimalism and simple living. More like spur of the moment. But reading it couldn’t of come at a better time.

The last few weeks have been rough, which is some of the reason I took a bit of time off from writing around here. While summer is fun it’s also draining – my kids think it’s acceptable to stay up until almost my bedtime, since it stays light here until after 10 pm. Afternoon rest time has been a struggle too and if you have kids you will understand me when I say no rest time and late bedtime is HARD. I was living on an average of six hours of sleep a night, on my feet all day with the kids and just struggling in every single area of my life. The laundry was an endless cycle, with piles of clothes all over the house. The dishes were never done. I was trying to break up fights and rock the baby and cook dinner and run errands and when I sat down for a minute I was just empty. I had no words or thoughts. Just tired and so weary. It was this endless cycle of striving and and wanting to do everything yet somehow not doing much of anything. And I wasn’t sure how to make it all stop.

Last week I was at the point where I could not take it one more day. Something had to change. I was trying to figure out what I could do to somehow balance the craziness of my family and home with time to myself and space to do things I love, like write here on this blog and read and create. That’s when I picked up The Power of Less. I’m only a few chapters in but already it is helping me refocus and be more intentional. The Power of Less is about eliminating the unnecessary so you can focus on what’s really important. It’s about cleaning up the clutter, rubbing the smudge prints off your sunglasses and paring things down to just the essential so you can live more clearly.

Leo Babauta compares simple living to a haiku, that short Hawaiian verse that is bound by 17 syllables and three lines. To convey the right emotion a poet must be selective and thoughtful with his words, choosing words that matter and express exactly what he wants to say. A haiku is beautiful because it has limitations. A simple life is beautiful because it has limitations. You don’t have to do everything all the time.

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“By setting limitations, we must choose the essential. So in everything you do, learn to set limitations.”

This thought, while not necessary new or ground breaking, has been revolutionary for me. Limitations. Simple focus. One way the author puts this idea into practice is by focusing on one thing at a time.

Stop the multitasking.

Focus on one goal.

Change one habit at a time.

So this week I am trying to focus on the essential, figuring out what really isn’t working and making one change to simplify and streamline. I started with creating a solid evening routine. By the end of the day I am tired so I’ve been really bad about leaving the the toys all over the living room floor, dirty dinner dishes in the sink and so on, which of course makes waking up the next day a joy and delight.  I love waking up to a messy house and having to wash dishes to eat breakfast, said no one ever.  I’ve been forcing myself to put away the laundry on the bed, clean up the kitchen, set out my running clothes and go to bed early instead of staying up bleary eyed to watch Fallon when I can just see him the next day on Hulu.

It’s funny, but making one well planned, intentional habit has had a big impact on how my day goes and my attitude towards my kids and my work. It is not always easy to stick to the plan and sometimes I just don’t get anything done but the nights that I do, it’s incredibly rewarding!

The thing about this concept is that it applies to more than just my crazy life with littles. We all probably have an area of life that is frustrating or overwhelming. Work. Social obligations. Buying ethically. Choosing a non-profit to support. Turning a dream into a business or blog or whatever. I encourage you to take a few minutes or couple hours or a day and figure out one thing you can do consistently that will make what you are dealing with less overwhelming. Focus on one thing at a time and when you figure that out, move onto the next goal. It’s not rocket science, it’s not even a new concept really, it’s just a little trick we (meaning me!) easily forget.

How do you work on your goals and deal with overwhelming issues? What are your tips (or frustrations)?

Favorite Reads This Week

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Now that summer is here for real my mind is always outside.  From setting up sprinklers for my kids to cookouts to pool time to loving on my garden, I have hardly opened my laptop for the last week.  That’s a good thing, right?  So if things fall a little silent around here this summer, you know where I am!  On top of our outdoor shenanigans  I have all sorts of dreams and ideas I am working on for this blog….which I will share with you guys soon!  In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite things that I’ve read recently:

Naming And Framing // The Art of Simple – sometimes all we need to do to solve a problem is just look at it differently.

Ethical & Adorable Swimwear // Purse & Clutch - if you are looking for fairly made swimwear this is a great place to start!

On July, Chuck Taylors, Silence & Seasons // Shana Niequist - love this so much!

Enjoy your week, guys!

Grateful

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This week I have been engrossed in the first book I chose to read from my Summer Reading ListFactory Girls.  It’s written by an American-born Chinese journalist who spends several years in China building relationships with the girls who work in the factories and learning about migrant work.  She spends most of her time in Dongguan, the mecca of Chinese manufacturing, but also shares her family’s rich but devastating history as they too were migrants – from communist China to America.   It’s eye-opening, y’all.  Also serious but intriguing and so good. The contrasts of culture and livelihood of these factory girls versus my own life know no bounds.  It reminds me all over again that we are seriously so lucky, so privileged, to live the life that we do.  To have the freedoms and opportunities that we have.  It has made me grateful over and over and over.

Yesterday, this post struck a chord with me and reiterated everything I have been thinking about and reading.  Here’s a bit but you really need to read the post in it’s entirety:

By the simple, uncontrollable nature of my birth, I have been given enviable gifts: shelter, clothing, food, clean water… shoes. These are simple necessities that many human beings around the world will go without. I grew up in a safe, middle-class neighborhood with public schools and parks and rec departments. I did nothing to earn this opportunity—it was granted to me solely by the lottery of my birth.

The Responsibility of Opportunity // Becoming Minimalist

I want to always be grateful for where I am, for what I have.  Grateful for a home, for health, for dirty dishes and piles of laundry.  Always grateful.

But if I keep that gratefulness to myself, it’s no good.  This privileged life I live, it needs to mean something.  All this excess is just greediness if I don’t share it with others.  That is my constant challenge: to not just be grateful but use the good things in my life to help others – to fill in the empty places and encourage and give life.

What do you think?  Do you struggle with being grateful or does it come easily?