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Holiday

Charitable Holiday Gift Guide for Kids

Posted in Giving, Holiday by

What do you get a kid who has everything? Another toy in their box is likely destined for a short life before being stowed away never to see the light of day again. This short life of material things is unfortunately pervasive during Christmastime.

Whether we like it or not, gift giving has become a central component of the season and many children wait all year round in anticipation of what Santa Clause has to bring them.  I hope this Charitable Gift Guide (Kid Version) introduces you to some really great gift ideas that have a longer life span and more meaningful significance than just any other toy. Read more…

Hi Y’all! My name is Zahra and I’m a 19 year old college student passionate about growing spiritually, learning endlessly, and living healthfully. I love to express my deepest sentiments and ponderings through writing. I thank you for reading my words; I hope they nourish your soul!

December 12, 2017
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Engaging Ways to Give Back This Christmas

Posted in Family, Giving, Holiday by
Beware: I’m about to get up on my soapbox and start singing “Where Are You, Christmas?” like Cindy Lou Who so masterfully does in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
cindylouwho
Really though— it’s easy to be bombarded by commercials, crazy sales, and wishlists at this time of the year. Let’s try to revive the reason for the season, the birth of a Holy prophet that  is a luminary of generosity and compassion. You don’t have to be religious or spiritual to appreciate the opportune time of this festive season to give back to your community.

Read more…

Hi Y’all! My name is Zahra and I’m a 19 year old college student passionate about growing spiritually, learning endlessly, and living healthfully. I love to express my deepest sentiments and ponderings through writing. I thank you for reading my words; I hope they nourish your soul!

December 8, 2017
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Think in Grey- Holiday Health Challenge

There are a zillion and one blog posts that provide advice on how to stay healthy during the holidays. I don’t want to repeat what is said in those posts, but I do think I have one unique tip to offer- Think in Grey.

Heed the mainstream advice to  maintain your exercise routine, stay hydrated, eat as close to your normal diet as possible-but don’t expect yourself to not falter from these tips. This time of the year is my favorite: the lights, music, hustle and bustle, cheesy Lifetime movies, and most importantly the spiritual connection I feel to all of these things. It just makes my heart happy! I don’t want to jeopardize my enjoyment of this special time because I am stuck feeling guilty about eating pie or skipping a day (or two) of training!

It is incredibly hard to be balanced or “see the grey”. Even though humans don’t SEE in black and white, we are wired to PERCEIVE in black and white. For individuals who have experienced an eating disorder, you know that this limited spectrum is what disorder thoughts THRIVE on. It’s very easy for us to categorize things in two very disparate groups, neglecting to recognize the in-between.  For example, if I enjoy a cookie with my friends, my brain jumps to the thought: “Okay well you had one cookie, you don’t do this everyday, and now you’ve already eaten something ‘not good’, so reach for the stars! Have 10 more! Who cares!” These thoughts unlock a mental Pandora’s box of bad feelings and guilt.

frustrated woman

I’m going to work really hard to keep that Pandora’s box shut tight this Holiday season. I shouldn’t feel bad for enjoying one cookie; I should savor it and enjoy it in moderation! There are definitely many special treats I can’t wait to bake this month. I’m not going to deprive myself of them! Most people are very susceptible to this All-or-Nothing Thinking (one of the 10 Cognitive Distortions). When you catch yourself having these black or white/all or nothing thoughts, I advise you to remind yourself to try to think in grey.

With that being said, I’m so looking forward to challenging myself with this task during this season.

I’ve created a Mindful Health Holiday Challenge, which is a printable calendar that has a fun health- oriented activity for each day of December! 

holiday health challenge layout

Let me know what you are challenging yourself with this season, and if you are partaking in the Mindful Health Holiday Challenge with me!
xx
ZB

Hi Y’all! My name is Zahra and I’m a 19 year old college student passionate about growing spiritually, learning endlessly, and living healthfully. I love to express my deepest sentiments and ponderings through writing. I thank you for reading my words; I hope they nourish your soul!

November 30, 2017
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Best Deals for Giving Tuesday 2017

Posted in Giving, Holiday by

Following the crazy sales and holiday rush that accompany Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes an increasingly popular day- Giving Tuesday. As stated on its website, “#GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people
around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform
for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness.”

This amazing movement has grown since its inception and organizations are seeing their contributions rise just from traffic the day brings. For the past two years,  Giving Tuesday has broken the Guinness World Record for the most money donated to charities (online) in 24 hours. Today I wanted to highlight some  ‘amazing deals’ that you can contribute to this year.

Facebook is parterning with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to match up to
$2 Million in contributions to non-profits made online! Learn more about this
partnership and how your donation can be matched easily here: https://donations.fb.com/givingtuesday/.

An anonymous philanthropist has committed to matching all donations (up to $125k) made to Oxfam International:
https://t.co/W0ZfHrb1nr before midnight!

Convenant House, a non-profit dedicated to providing homeless and trafficked youth with
the resources they need to thrive and get out of bad situations, is committed to matching
donations until midnight: https://www.covenanthouse.org/giving-week-match?origin=DHQEI1800RPNNN&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIybL05r3h1wIV0LXACh2vMgl-EAMYAiAAEgLLZ_D_BwE.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a prominent organization that spearheads
efforts to protect fundamental freedoms in government is matching your contribution
dollar for dollar: https://action.aclu.org/secure/giving-tuesday-double-your-impact-0.

Heifar International distributes animals to low-income families in hopes of stimulating
economic growth and empowerment. They are matching donations for #givingtuesday: https://www.heifer.org/

These are just a select few of the organizations that are matching any contributions made
today… but did you know that your employer can actually match your charitable contributions!? Check this search engine to see if your employer will match your donation to any organizations you contribute to: https://doublethedonation.com/giving-tuesday/ ! This is a great search engine and the service is only free until December 12th, so get checking!

This search engine powered by the Giving Tuesday foundation is a great resource to discover non profit and charitable organizations in your area that you can help out
: https://www.givingtuesday.org/whats-happening-near-me.

Before giving to any organization, I recommend checking each nonprofit’s status on either www.charitynavigator.org or https://givewell.org to ensure that the organization is truly dedicated to its cause.

Don’t forget that you do not have to give money in order to give! Time, unlike money, can’t grow and investing time (in my opinion) the most valuable way that you can give to others.

Also, share this post and others that highlight today’s significance! Spreading the word is
an incredibly significant contribution. Let’s make #givingtuesday2017 another record breaker!

Hi Y’all! My name is Zahra and I’m a 19 year old college student passionate about growing spiritually, learning endlessly, and living healthfully. I love to express my deepest sentiments and ponderings through writing. I thank you for reading my words; I hope they nourish your soul!

November 28, 2017
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Easy DIY Advent Calendar

Posted in DIY, Family, Giving, Holiday by
     This easy DIY calendar is a craft that can be engaging for many; it is affordable, quick, and fun! Even the most craft-challenged newbies (me included) can have a great time making this and enjoying it throughout the month.
      Traditionally, Advent calendars have functioned as a fun way to countdown to Christmas while getting to enjoy daily yummy chocolates throughout the month of December.  Despite the family quibbles that might start over how the treats are apportioned, this holiday tradition is something everyone in the family can look forward to.  The treats you uncover don’t have to be limited to chocolates or candies. Another way to enjoy this holiday tradition is by making an advent calendar filled with different kinds of daily goodies.
Materials:
  • Tri-Fold Poster Board ($5.50)
  • Mini Craft Sacks- 25 ct. ($2.99)
  • Clothespins (varies)
  • Mixed Media Jute Rope ($3.00)
  • Some kind of paint/markers for decorating (varies)
  • Festive wrapping paper (varies)
  • Goodies to fill the pockets with:
    • Makeup samples
    • Candies
    • Variations of different tea bags/coffee packets
    • Gift cards
    • Positive affirmation cards/notes
    • Small Accessories
      • Bracelets
      • Headbands
      • Bows
    • Office Supplies
      • Erasers
      • Bookmarks
      • Magnets
Process:
1) I painted the entirety of the board with white paint before beginning any designs. This covered up any of the black print that is on the board.
2) Start by decorating the opening flaps of the board. I painted a wreath centered on the “door” which would be opened to reveal the calendar.
front of advent calendar
3) Measure out some festive wrapping paper to cover the entirety of the center board.
cover the board in wrapping paper
4) Paint whatever you desire on the inside of the two flaps! I chose a candy cane print because it went nicely with the color wrapping paper I chose and it is relatively easy to replicate!
candy cane print paint
5) Measure 5 equal pieces of jute rope/twine to cover the width of the board (for 5 mini craft sacks to hang upon each).
mixed media jute ropemini craft sacks
6) Secure the twine underneath the poster board with a hot glue gun, make sure it is secure enough to hold up.
7) Attach the clothespins to the twine, and the pockets to the clothespins so that they hang off of the twine.
clothespins with pockets
8) Insert the treats into each of the 25 pockets!
     Wal-lah! You’re done with this quick and easy DIY advent calendar.  My grandma loved this gift and is super excited to have a surprise waiting for her every day of December leading up to Christmas.
     I hope you guys try this DIY advent calendar out and let me know how it goes!

Hi Y’all! My name is Zahra and I’m a 19 year old college student passionate about growing spiritually, learning endlessly, and living healthfully. I love to express my deepest sentiments and ponderings through writing. I thank you for reading my words; I hope they nourish your soul!

November 27, 2017
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Thanksgiving Gratitude Activities for Families

Giving thanks around an oblong dinner table cluttered with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and rolls can be tricky when you’re hosting or attending a large gathering with many, many people with hungry, hungry bellies.

While our physical hunger is not unsubstantiated, all souls have a deep hunger that can only be filled by faith, hope, and gratitude.

To emphasize the backbone of the holiday which is sometimes lost in the chaos of the moment, here are some fun and humbling family friendly activities that will emphasize the value of gratitude this Thanksgiving.

1) If you are hosting thanksgiving dinner, you can respectfully ask your guests that they not bring any gifts and instead maybe bring some cans of food that can be donated to a local food shelter, or some blankets that your family can distribute to the homeless in preparation for the cold winter.

2) Create or purchase a little “Thanksgiving Guest Book” in which guests can anonymously write one thing they are grateful for. This list can be shared with everyone at the gathering later to emphasize the abundance of things to be thankful for. Alternatively, you can make a “Guest Pumpkin” where you get a fake pumpkin, paint it a solid and opaque color, and leave out sharpies so that every guest can write out something they are grateful for on the pumpkin. It’s a great decorative piece that you can put out each year! Here’s an example that was actually used for a wedding guest book:
http://somethingturquoise.com/2014/10/31/diy-faux-pumpkin-guest-book/

3) Gratitude Pumpkins are a really fun craft for kids and they require little more than construction paper, scissors, markers, and glue. Here’s a printable template for these pumpkins from www.faithfullittlehands.com: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/Ad6tBLmxyEOc3cpvnXT6yt1LrLNTMZfLpa93WMYYS4ye6565VMgFJLI/

4) Having a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt is a great activity for both kids and adults that teaches us to be more mindful and present. This one from www.thislittlehomeofmine.com is super kid-friendly and fun: http://thislittlehomeofmine.com/thanksgiving-day-activities/

5) If you are free Thanksgiving Day morning, afternoon, checkout any Thanksgiving Feasts
being thrown by a nonprofit or NGO in your city for low income and homeless families/individuals.
My family and I do this every year and it is an amazing and humbling experience. Below is a list of such events in major cities. It’s a wonderful tradition that we look forward to every year and allows us to bond as a family. Also there are tons of events held in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving that your family can volunteer at as well. If your city isn’t shown here, just do a google search for it and hopefully you will stumble upon it!

Here are some search engines that are specifically for volunteering:
http://www.handsontriangle.org/
https://www.volunteermatch.org/
https://www.givepulse.com/

Contact your local or state food bank as well to inquire about any Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities!

West

-Newark, CA: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2780219.jsp
-Los Angeles, CA: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2820099.jsp
-Santa Barbara, CA: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2824439.jsp
-Berkelely, CA: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2803553.jsp
-San Fransisco, CA: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2826102.jsp
-Boulder, CO : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2818696.jsp
-Salt Lake City, UT : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2807712.jsp
-Denver, CO : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/refugee-first-thanksgiving-2017-tickets-38666717192?aff=es2



Southwest

-Houston,TX : http://citywideclub.com/donate.php https://www.eventbrite.com/e/feed-my-sheep-houston-2017-volunteer-registration-37226214610?aff=es2
-Dallas,TX : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-homeless-thanksgiving-tickets-39510922232?aff=es2
-Baton Rouge, LA : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/feed-the-streets-tickets-39742977315?aff=es2
-Tulsa, OK : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2515052.jsp
-Austin, TX :http://www.givingcityaustin.com/volunteering/givingcitys-2017-list-of-thanksgiving-volunteering-opportunities/
-Pheonix, AZ :https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2822831.jsp

Midwest

-Chicago, IL : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2814560.jsp
-Cleveland, OH : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hashtaglunchbag-cleveland-thanksgiving-edition-tickets-29331177341?aff=es2
-Columbus, OH : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cgb-and-homeless-families-foundation-holiday-food-box-111917-tickets-39287236181
-Detroit, MI : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/giving-back-on-thanksgiving-2017-tickets-39503714674?aff=es2
-St. Louis, MO : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ulyp-stl-thanksgiving-bag-stuffing-tickets-39382601421?aff=es2
-Iowa City, IA : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/elder-services-home-for-the-holidays-tickets-38874961055?aff=es2

Northeast/Mid-Atlantic

-Brooklyn and Manhattan, NY : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2811253.jsp
-Bronx, NY : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2822543.jsp
-Pittsburgh, PA : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/thanksgiving-meal-tickets-36901422147?aff=es2
-Boston, MA : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-york-urban-league-young-professionals-fall-17-community-service-tickets-39229846527?aff=es2
-Portland, ME : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/thanksgiving-day-meal-volunteer-shifts-tickets-38598312592?aff=es2
-Baltimore, MD : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/serve-thanksgiving-dinner-with-cityfam-registration-38777938859?aff=es2

Southeast

-Black Mt., North Carolina: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2821727.jsp
-Charlotte, North Carolina: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2808512.jsp
-Charleston, South Carolina: http://charlestonbasketbrigade.com/volunteer-your-time/
-Greenville, South Carolina: http://www.harvesthope.org/volunteer
-Columbia, South Carolina: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-thanksgiving-dinner-tickets-38627902095?aff=es2
-Tampa, FL : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2811432.jsp
-Atlanta, GA : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ggb-presentsthe-4th-annual-gift-of-thanksgiving-feast-for-the-homeless-tickets-24655642691?aff=es2

Hope you all enjoy a wonderful thanksgiving surrounded by the ones you love!
xx

Hi Y’all! My name is Zahra and I’m a 19 year old college student passionate about growing spiritually, learning endlessly, and living healthfully. I love to express my deepest sentiments and ponderings through writing. I thank you for reading my words; I hope they nourish your soul!

November 14, 2017
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