The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer

The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer

'Tis the Season of Giving
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We all know that one person that is impossible to buy for during the holiday season. Whether it's because they have everything or they refuse to cough up their Christmas list, you're always left stumped on what to leave them under the tree. A family friend of mine, has a neat way to combat this frustrating situation, and to make sure that she isn't just spending money on useless things. She takes that money she would spend on a gift, and makes donations to charities on the behalf of who is receiving the gift or on the behalf of someone they love. When I first heard this idea, I was in awe. It was such a simplistic yet beautiful thing. It embodies the true meaning of this holiday season and it brought so much joy to my heart, as I know it brought joy to those receiving care as a result of those charities. So this holiday season, I encourage you to help out the less fortunate and to give a gift that really matters. Instead of buying candles, and mittens, and all those other cliché Christmas gifts for coworkers, friends or that person you thought of reading the first sentence of this article give to a charity or a ministry that has its sights set on bettering the world. Listed below are a few charities that are easy to donate to and have some really cool missions that would appreciate your holiday donation.

Heifer International

Heifer International uses the “to teach a man to fish” philosophy to empower families that struggle with hunger. Heifer International works to bring sustainable food and commerce to areas with longstanding histories with food insecurity. Countries impacted by Heifer International include Africa, Nepal, Haiti and even projects here in the United States. Heifer works by allowing families to donate money to purchase livestock-goats, cows, buffalo, and chickens- that are then donated to families in impoverished areas. These families can use the animals for food, agricultural work, or use their direct products, eggs or milk, as a source of income. Families then take this training and experience and pass it on to another family with the firstborn of their livestock. To help Heifer International and their mission of sustainability check out their website https://www.heifer.org.

Pay Away the Layaway

Many retailers offer the option of paying for items during the season through a process called layaway. Customers can place items that are too expensive for purchasing at once on layaway, and pay for the item over a period of time. Families can pick up their layaway items once the price has been paid in full. Pay Away the Layaway and their team of “Layaway Angels” partner with stores to pay off families’ layaway carts and surprise them with these gifts during the holidays. Many professional athletes have teamed up with Pay Away the Layaway to help relieve the financial burden of Christmas presents for families. To donate money towards a families layaway cart you can visit Pay Away the Layaway’s site at http://www.payawaythelayaway.org.

St. Jude

Well known for its mission to end childhood cancer, St. Jude is one of the leading research centers for the study and treatment of pediatric cancer and other life-threatening illness. St. Jude operates at no cost to families of patients thanks to individual donations. Christmas is an extremely hard time for families of children with illness, many residents of St. Jude will stay in their facility over the holiday. Donating to this wonderful foundation and research center not only gives money to fund research but also helps in giving these families free treatment and the most enjoyable stay possible during this holiday season. When donating you can also opt to send a Christmas card to a child in the center. To donate to St. Jude you can visit their website at https://www.stjude.org.

Salvation Army

Do you remember the first time you went shopping during the Christmas holidays and heard a bell ring outside of a department store? You glanced over to see a volunteer, maybe Santa, standing next to a red kettle being filled with change from shoppers passing by. You wondered what that was all about? This holiday memory is thanks to The Salvation Army. While The Salvation Army has hundreds of ministries and ways to help those in need, their red kettle project has been one of the most successful in fighting to end hunger during the holidays. Since 1981 when Joseph McFee set out the first red kettle in the Oakland Ferry Landing in San Francisco, this project has grown to help over four-and-a-half million people receive a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner during the holiday season. To help the Salvation Army fund this initiative or for more information on the other ministries they provide check them out at http://www.salvationarmyusa.org,

Toys for Tots

Sponsored and run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots' mission is to provide the message of hope to less-fortunate children through a new toy at Christmas time. Many cities and towns have local level Toys for Tots programs in which new toys can be donated, many of these programs are run by veterans or local law enforcement. To find where you can donate toys in your local level or to make an online donation visit their website http://www.toysfortots.org/Default.aspx.

Cure International

Cure International is a faith-based charity striving to help children with disabilities in countries where, often times, medical assistance is unattainable and unaffordable. The children Cure work to help are those who are least protected, under fed, and not included in social activity due to their disability. They also work to provide spiritual help and support to these children who grow up in cultures that often believe their disability is due to a curse and deems them unworthy of love. Currently Cure has ten hospitals in places like Niger, Uganda, Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, and Afghanistan where they provide life-changing medical care. Cure International allows you to donate one time on the behalf of a child in need, or monthly for multiple children. If you are unable to give monetarily at this time, their website provides the option to send a get-well soon card to children recovering in their hospitals and clinics. I encourage everyone to visit them at https://cure.org to send a card and consider donating.




Cover Image Credit: http://www.rmhc.org.uk/files/cache/0a096fbc04d64ccbec532cf390af58c1_f1257.png

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3 Signs You're Overdoing It For A 'Bikini Bod' And Risking Your Actual Body In The Process

Eventually, the repercussions of inadequate self-care catch up with us, and we will always be the underdog on the battlefield for self-love.

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Looking in the mirror, a surge of reality overtook her petite body, and her eyes opened for the first time in years to the protrusive bones at all angles of her body. Her relationships were dwindling by a thread, and the hourglass of her life was almost up, yet she continued fighting an impossible battle for an impossible body. How did she allow a seemingly harmless diet escalate into something so drastic? Why was she putting her health on the line for a body that was only seen on billboards and magazine covers?

It's that inevitable time of year when the weather's getting warmer, the birds are chirping, yet your mind has been roaring ever since Target released their bathing suit line in January. Especially during the warmer seasons, everyone wants to look and feel their best, mostly because we can no longer hide that extra "damage" done by Aunt Judy's peanut butter pie in 100-degree weather on the beach.

Having weight loss goals, or any body-related goals for that matter, are true tests of discipline and are certainly rewarding, for both our health and for our self-esteem. However, progress can become addictive, and you could very much start performing a disappearing act if you're not careful and strategic in pursuing your goals.

Particularly to my fellow extremists out there, learn to mend your battle stations wisely if you plan on preparing for the summer season, and don't sacrifice your sanity and your health for a war you'll never win. Here are some signs that you may be overdoing it, or essentially causing more harm than good.

1. You're eating numbers

Not that you literally ate the quadratic formula for breakfast, but you're seeing your food for its numerical value instead of for its sometimes soul-satiating and always body-nourishing means; knowledge is power and counting calories to lose weight is undoubtedly an effective way to track your progress. But not for us extremists. If you have obsessive tendencies, there are more precautions to consider when using this weight loss tool. When the moderate indulgence of a succulent brownie suddenly warps into an off-limits red flag, ringing in your mind: "410 calories, 24 grams of fat and 46 grams of carbs, oh my!" then it's time to step back and reevaluate your plan. Don't let numbers run your life. Food is not the enemy, and you will start becoming your own with this mindset.

2. You've been staying in on the weekends

Your goals for the perfect beach body (as seen, literally, only on TV) just don't involve a night out at the bars, drinking empty calories of alcohol, and, unavoidably, eating pizza. Getting off track for one night makes you anxious. But this will soon start to eat away at you. We are social beings and thrive in social settings. However, no one wants to be around a hangry grouch who's in dire need of many snicker bars.

3. You workout to "earn" and "burn off" your meals

Let's say you did go out one weekend and had more pizza or "off-limit foods" than you would have liked. The next day, your initial thought is to go work everything off, and you begin to form this love-hate relationship with the treadmill, simultaneously with yourself. Instead of allowing fitness to enhance your life, it dangerously starts to consume you. You're not a dog, and do not need to "earn" anything!


So why does self-love always feel like a battlefield?

We forget that long-lasting, high self-esteem stems from the invisible qualities we all have that define us, such as compassion, intelligence, humor, and resilience. Today's media has ingrained an idealistic, nonexistent (except maybe for those who eat cotton balls for breakfast and ice cubes for dinner, no judgments here though!) image in our minds, where women feel pressured to obtain a body seen only on billboards and magazine covers. We fight our bodies past their warning signs of exhaustion, making self-love feel like a battlefield.

I once overdid it.

I viewed food as numbers and for only their effects on my appearance. I had to effortfully rewire my brain to stop associating certain foods as "bad" or detrimental to my physique that I prioritized over every other aspect in my life.

I stayed in every weekend, watching my relationships crumble in a domino effect, while only having enough energy to exercise. There's nothing more mentally consuming, and addictive than looking in the mirror and wanting to become smaller and smaller every day, but this was my reality for a long time, and it started with simple diet intentions for the upcoming summer season.

Be careful with your body goals, because as humans, we always tend to take things too far, and we are not indestructible. Eventually, the repercussions of inadequate self-care catch up with us, and we will always be the underdog on the battlefield for self-love.

If you're still worried about your bikini bod, let's also not forget: One-pieces and high-waisted bottoms are always an option!

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Christmas Of Remembrance Series: My Last Letter

Christmas time is not about the gifts... It is about something far, far more special.

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Dear Reader,

Thank you for your time.

This is a series that I have dedicated to those I have loved and lost. It was merely a thought, then an idea, and now a realized creation. Christmas time… all winter really is a hard time for me. It holds this duality in my life of being both my favorite and also my least favorite and difficult time of year. It has been that way for years now.

In a way, this series aids my closure and healing further, and it allows me to tell my story in a way that, to me, is less scary (one of the many great facets of this platform). It was never my intention to write this in order to reach people, or encourage people, or serve as an inspiration to anyone. This was for me and only me. No one else. But, if these pieces of writing do impact someone, somewhere, or make them feel encouraged or inspired in some way or another, or just simply make them feel, then I hope you have enjoyed them. If I can make someone feel, then I guess I have done my job.

The life of an artist is often an uncertain one. The life of a human is a trying one. But life is a journey, and all journeys have their trials. Their tests. Their triumphs and rewards. And they all have their losses. What matters most is what you make of all of it. What lessons you learn. What changes you make. What life you create for yourself. What art you create because of it all. It can be very, very hard. But it can all be glorious at the same time.

At the heart of this series, my words, there is this deep and valuable belief of mine: Christmas (or the Winter Holiday that you may celebrate) is so much more about presents and cooking and shopping and all that other bullshit… it is about family.

The family that is related by blood. The family that surrounds your heart. Your Mom. Your brother. Your dearest friends. The bonds that make life valuable. Worth living. These bonds are soulful bonds, ones that are far more special than any mere trivial object. So… be with them. Forgive. Forget. Heal. Mend what is broken. Reassemble what has been shattered. And stop worrying so much. Laugh together. Cry together. Heal on another. Heal together. And may your new days be better, brighter, and full of love.

Happy Holidays.

Ty


A song for you...

"Sense of Home" — Harrison Storm / YouTube

If you liked this series, I invite you to check out my previous article below…

To My Fellow 孤, The Sons Without Fathers On Father’s Day

As well as this article by a fellow creator…

What You Learn Losing A Parent So Young

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