Forming a new habit to drink more water

cucumber lime and mint infused water

I was recently told by a medical professional that I should try to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. My first thought was,”That seems like a lot of water.” And, you know what? It is a lot of water. It’s a half a gallon, in fact. Logically, I know that water is one of the keys to a healthy life. (My co-blogger, Kelly, even posted about this very issue.) And I know that I don’t drink enough of it. I’ll go an entire day without drinking anything, then wonder why I’m sluggish and have a headache by the evening. I don’t to this on purpose. I just haven’t formed good water drinking habits.

So, beginning now, I’m resolving to not just drink more water but to get the full 64 ounces down the hatch every single day. To do that, I need to make some changes to my daily routine. I thought I’d share the three things I’m going to try.

  • Form a daily habit: As soon as I wake up in the morning and right before I go to bed, I’m going to chug 8 ounces of water. That immediately takes care of 16 ounces!
  • Make it fun: Since water itself is pretty boring, I bought a fruit infusing water bottle to help jazz it up. The bottle holds around 20 ounces of water so I only need to fill it twice to get 40 more ounces! It’s perfect for making cucumber water infused with lime and mintSince I tend to hoard bags of frozen fruit, I’ve got a lot of other combinations I can try as well, like strawberry lemon, blueberry lime or watermelon mint. The possibilities are limited only by my imagination.
  • Branch out: Tap water isn’t the only liquid on the planet. But most other beverages come with extra calories that I don’t want to add to my diet. Club soda and sparkling water are fizzy and have a little more zing than plain water. And they can also be flavored with fruit infusions! In the evening, when I would normally have a glass of wine or another adult beverage, I’ll have a glass of sparkling water instead. 

How do you get more water into your day? Do you have a favorite infused water recipe? Help me reach my goal by sharing your ideas in the comments or on Facebook.  

 

 

 

How used soap can save a life

Soap donation to Clean the World

Various bars of soap from my recent donation to Clean the World

Did you ever wonder what happens to that tiny sliver of used soap you leave behind when you check out of a hotel? Thanks to a non-profit organization called Clean the World, there’s a good chance that soap sliver ended up in the hands of a person in need in a developing country.

Clean the World has a simple mission. Collect soap (mainly from their 2,250 partner hotels and resorts) that would otherwise end up in landfills and get it into the hands of people in need. Why? Because hand washing with a bar of soap can help prevent illness from pneumonia and diarrheal diseases, the leading causes of death of children under five years old worldwide. Sadly, much of the developing world does not have easy access to this simple and easy preventative.

You might be thinking, “Gross, who wants to wash their hands with a bar of soap that touched someone else’s butt? Wouldn’t that spread more germs? Also, pubic hair!” Don’t worry, the smart people at Clean the World have it all figured out. Their recycling process involves cleaning and sterilizing all the soap they receive and rebatching it into nicely formed, clean bars of soap. Since its inception in 2009, Clean the World has distributed more than 22 million bars of soap around the world! That’s a lot of clean hands!

If this sounds like the kind of organization you would like to contribute to, Clean the World takes monetary donations, but they offer other fun ways to get involved. You and your coworkers can build team camaraderie by building hygiene kits and distributing them in your local community. Or you can sponsor a soap drive in your cubicle jungle. (As an added bonus, your office building will smell amazing during the collection period.)

Clean the World also accepts soap donations from handmade soap makers. This was welcome news! I recently gathered up all of my unused batches of melt and pour soap along with several bags of soap scraps that I thought I might “use someday,” and sent them off to one of the recycling centers. It’s not a huge donation but every little bit helps. And now I have some extra shelf space. Everyone wins.

P.S. The opinions in this post are completely my own. I have no affiliation with Clean the World and I have not been compensated by them. I just love what they do and want to spread the word. If you would like to help spread the word, simply use one of the sharing buttons below. (Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or reader, you’ll need to link to our website to use the sharing buttons).

A bit of midweek inspiration: Spring is coming!

Wild violetPretty soon I’ll see the return of these wild violets to my lawn–I can’t wait!

Spring officially arrives on March 20. I’m so happy about this that I’m (almost) willing to strap on a sandwich board proclaiming, “The end is near!”

It’s been a hard winter. Full of cold, snow and the winter blues, I found myself asking, “Why do I live here?” quite often.

It’s an existential crisis I face every year. Then, spring arrives and I find the answer. Seeing the bits of green grass and the tops of daffodils poking out of the ground, smelling the sunshine in the air and experiencing longer hours of daylight gives me the greatest joy. I know it’s said that happiness is a choice, but when the sun is shining and the landscape is waking up from its winter nap, I don’t see how one can choose anything but happy.

So, today I celebrate spring as a source of great inspiration. Lady Bird Johnson gives the perfect explanation why, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”

Happy birthday, Dolly Parton! A fan spells out why you’re awesome

Dolly Parton Knoxville TN 2014Dolly Parton performing in Knoxville, 5/28/14; Photo credit: Taken by me

Happy birthday, Dolly Rebecca Parton!

Over the years I have become a great fan of Dolly. She is a talented singer and songwriter, but that is not the reason I love her. I love her because of her FACE. Not her face–though she is quite lovely–but her F.A.C.E. Allow me to spin a Dolly-style yarn to explain.

I’ve never met Ms. Parton (but if her representatives feel inclined to set something up, I would clear my schedule for it), so my opinions are based on what I’ve observed while seeing her perform, what I’ve read and what I’ve learned while traveling to eastern Tennessee. But, I like to believe she’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of gal. It’d be hard to keep in character throughout nearly 50 years in the entertainment business, don’t you think?

F is for…

  • Fearless – The day after she graduated high school, she got on a bus with her guitar, a few clothes, a little bit of money and some big dreams. She was moving to Nashville to be a star. That takes a whole lot of guts.
  • Feminist – Though I don’t recall her coming right out and saying it, Dolly’s a feminist. But, listen to her song lyrics, read her autobiography and observe how she lives her life on her terms. Dolly has always been a woman who knows what she wants to achieve and sees no reason why she can’t achieve it. Don’t believe me? This post on the Feminist Times website, Dolly Parton: A Radical in Rhinestones spells it out pretty throughly.
  • Family and friends are important – At every opportunity, Dolly is quick to share how friends and family members help her continue to pursue her dreams and expresses love and gratitude for them. And she is loyal to them, even if they don’t always agree with her. I’d love to ask Judy Ogle, Dolly’s assistant and friend since the third grade, about some of their disagreements.

A is for…

  • Aspiration – From a very young age, Dolly had dreams of wearing pretty, new clothes (being from a poor family with 11 other siblings, you tend to wear a lot of hand-me-down clothes) and singing before an audience.  She had the opportunity to sing on a local radio show at 10 and never looked back. While she was still in school, she made trips to Nashville with her Uncle Billy, performing when she could and trying to find someone to introduce her to her big break. Eventually their hard work earned her the opportunity to perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage and a deal to do a demo record. That first shot didn’t lead to great stardom, but it was a great learning opportunity and fostered her work ethic. She never gave up. She knew stardom had to happen to someone, so why not her?
  • Ability – Not only is gifted singer, she is a talented and prolific songwriter (I couldn’t find hard numbers on her songwriting catalog, but a quick BMI search turned up nearly 700 titles). Other artists easily recognize her talent and many have covered her famous tunes. She remains relevant to artists today with Jack White and Dave Grohl being a couple of notable examples.
  • Attitude – Dolly has a positive attitude, is quick to show gratitude and give credit to others for how they have helped her. She’s funny and self-deprecating, too. I dare you to watch this interview Dolly did for ABC News and not smile at least once.

C is for…

  • Confident – She likes her look, doesn’t care if it meets “mainstream” standards. She’s okay being an individual, and she wants you to be, too. As she writes in the prologue to her autobiography, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business: “I think it’s a big mistake to try to pattern yourself too much after anybody else. We are all individuals. Just like snowflakes, no two of us are alike, and that, to me, is the beauty of it.”
  • Control – Despite her shucks-I’m-just-a-poor-girl-from-Tennessee-who-likes-to-look-pretty-and-sing persona, there’s a big brain under Dolly’s wig. She’s a savvy businesswoman–people thought she was crazy for her Dollywood idea (which has been going strong since 1986)–and keeps tight control of her image and her song catalog.
  • Caring – Over the years, Dolly has supported many philanthropic causes, especially those that promote the welfare of her eastern Tennessee community. One that is particularly close to her heart, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, is an organization she founded to promote literacy by giving books to preschool-aged children. To date, they’ve given out over 60 million books. She also has been the honorary chairperson of the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation working to bring quality health care to Sevier County for more than 30 years.

E is for…

  • Entertainer – From the time she performed for the chickens in backyard, Dolly has known how to put on a show. Her concerts still sell out all over the world. She was a hit at the Glastonbury Festival this past year. After having the blessing to see her perform in person, I know that this woman knows how to keep a crowd on their feet and leave them wanting more.
  • Enthusiastic and full of energy – She’s got a pile of money in the bank; she could just go back to her Tennessee Mountain Home and just kick back and relax. But, she doesn’t. She’s still enthusiastic about her music career, her business ventures and busy thinking up new dreams to pursue. Her most recent dream brought to life–Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort–is opening this summer and it was recently reported that Dolly signed a movie development deal with NBC for a series of movies based on her songs and life.

I wish that “face” was spelled with an “I” because I would add introvert to the list. After learning of the social causes Dolly supports, hearing about her empathy for others who feel like an outsider and how she chooses to spend her down time–hanging out at home with her husband and family, reading, writing, praying/meditating–I believe Ms. Parton is a fellow introvert. I’d wager she views her glitz and glamour as the uniform she puts on to get her into the game. The game of doing what she loves most: performing music and bringing joy into the world.

Happy birthday, Dolly.

U.S. Election Day: Rocking the vote on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November since 1845

 U.S. Election DayImage credit: VOTE by Theresa Thompson on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

That’s right, tomorrow is Election Day here in the States. If you’re registered to vote, don’t forget to get out there before the polls close. If you’re not. Why not? It’s easy. (Also, using the excuse you don’t register because you don’t want to get picked for jury duty is invalid. Many states can also go to other sources–such as the department of motor vehicles–to assemble jury pools.)

Are you a nerd who loves historical Election Day statistics? Check out this resource guide of U.S. election statistics complied by the Library of Congress it’s a treasure trove of information!

Inspiring places: The Country Living Fair in Columbus Ohio

Country Living Fair Ohio Village Columbus 2014I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of creative inspiration by going out and and seeing what other people are doing. After all, as Kirby Ferguson says, all creative work is a remix of things that have been done before–so embrace the remix!

If you follow Emmet Street Creations on Instagram, you already know that in September I had the chance to go to the Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio. Don’t let the name fool you; there is little about “country living” presented here. But, if you like handcrafted home goods, clothing and jewelry, original art, upcycled creations, old junk to repurpose yourself, handcrafted soap and body care products, this is the place for you. (And, if you like the primitive/cute country inspired look, there’s stuff for you, too!) Don’t believe me? Do a search on Pinterest for Country Living Fair and you’ll find a plethora of photos of the wares on display.

Held near the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Ohio Village (a really neat replica of a settlement-era Ohio town run by the Ohio Historical Society worth checking out), this event put together by Country Living magazine has become a fall tradition in Columbus (and has grown to a total of three locations east of the Mississippi: Columbus, Atlanta and Rhinebeck, New York).

My Mom and I spent several hours outdoors in the beautiful fall weather saying “Ooh, look at this!” and “Oh, that’s so cool!” we took home a few treasures and a lot of inspiration (pics below). I’ve got a few projects in mind for the long, dark days of winter…

Country Living Fair Columbus 2014 - Swag and Inspiration

Photos, clockwise (starting top left): Dried natural loofah (vendor unknown); Flying pig pillow, Eric & Christopher; Upcycled Scrabble pendant, The Scrabble Chick; Goat tote, Eric & Christopher

Here are some tips if you plan to attend next year’s Fair:

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothes. You will be walking around a grass and dirt field for many hours. ‘Nough said.
  • Bring lots of patience. Because the Fair has become an established event that a lot of people look forward to, well, there are a lot of people there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • Bring your own shopping bags. The vendors will appreciate you and you’ll appreciate having a comfy tote or granny shopping cart to haul your treasures instead of a plastic shopping bag that will dig into your hand or a paper bag that could have a blow out. (Note: If you buy large items, like furniture, they do have a large item pick up near the exit. The vendors arrange for your purchase to be taken there and then you can drive up to it when you leave.)
  • Bring cash. Because most of the vendors are small outfits, you may be able to negotiate a discount for saving them credit card transaction fees.
  • Bring a packed lunch. You will likely be at this event for several hours. You will get hungry and there are few food vendors at this event and even fewer healthy options. The lines for food are long and the healthiest food option had a two-and-a-half hour wait. I was going to skip eating, until I realized I was getting hangry and treating my companion poorly because of it (sorry, Mom!). Luckily, I found a shortish (meaning around a twenty-minute wait) line for a vendor selling overpriced sandwiches and fruit cups.

Now to you: What gets your creative juices flowing? I’m always looking for new sources of inspiration…

Keep smiling

Keep smiling

Image credit: Smile! by Kenny Louie, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

The other day while I was out running some errands, I used the time in my car to ruminate over some of life’s speed bumps that had come my way. I began to feel annoyed that I was letting these thoughts ruin the day and made a plan to turn my mood around.

I decided to treat everyone I met with the feelings I wanted to cultivate in myself: kindness, patience and gratitude. What I didn’t know was that The Universe was going to send me a clear message that this was the perfect choice.

As I got out of the car and headed to my next destination, I walked through the parking lot behind two twenty-something women who just couldn’t find anything to be happy about. In the two minutes I was behind them, they crabbed at the adorable little boy who was with them, cussed at a person they felt was not driving safely (by my observation, the driver was perfectly acceptable) and then completely ignored an elderly man who was trying to exit the store and almost ploughed him over.

As I approached the door, I could see the old man staring at them gobsmacked as they passed by them. The look on his face said it all: “You’re in the prime of your life. You’re young and beautiful; why are you so hard and angry? Appreciate this time, it will pass before you know it.”

I held the door open for the old man. I was determined to make eye contact to let him know he was not invisible to the world, say hello and give him the best smile I could muster.

He looked at me, slid a glance at the grouchy young ladies and shook head. When he got close enough, he thanked me, touched my arm, looked me in the eye and said, “Keep smiling.”

I kept smiling all day.

Editor’s note: Feeling invisible is a common complaint of the elderly, and can add to feelings of depression, uselessness and loneliness. It’s a simple act to smile and say hello to someone. Try it while you’re out and about. It doesn’t take much effort and you never know what a big impact it can make.