Introduction

Hello and welcome to Exceptionally Average!

Exceptionally Average is a project I have been dreaming about for a little over a year now. Finally, with a little courage and encouragement I am launching.

For the last few years I have spent many days being what my husband and I like to call “exceptionally average”. It is a state of being where we are by no means doing bad but we know that we can be more, do more, and help more. We are conditioned to think that to cure this case of average-ness we needed to pursue conventional success. We should get a good degree and a good stable job with room to move up the corporate ladder. I chased this, the worlds dream, for several years now.

Here is the thing though, we are not all called to lead those lives. I personally feel that I have been blessed with a heart to serve. It gives me peace and a sense of purpose. I have even gone as far as to do a few mission/service trips to Africa, Jamaica and a few here in the US. These started at the age of 16 and went until my sophomore year of college. At that point in time I got lost in my pursuit of conventional success. I therefore stopped doing, stopped helping, stopped serving. I suppressed my burning need to help others and this planet that we are caretakers of. And so I fell into an exceptionally average life that I had built for myself.

The great news is we are in total control of what  our life to looks like and with effort, heart, and persistence any dream can come to fruition. So here, I will share my effort and heart with you all. It is my hope that you will share yours with me as well!

Now the purpose of Exceptionally Average is simple. I want to highlight the good in the world. Specifically, people and organizations that are making a positive impact on people and the planet, and how we as a community of people hoping to do more can help them in their cause.

Eventually, it is my hope that we can expand and become a non-profit where we are the ones going forth into the world and our home communities. We will plan trips, and events that will leave our own impact on the only earth we were given.

For now, let us be inspired! We have no need to feel exceptionally average. We can do and be whatever we have enough motivation and perseverance to be.

 

If you know of any individuals or organizations that you would like highlighted on here please share! You can comment here or email me at exceptionallyaverage@outlook.com.

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“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” — Gandalf

 

One More Wave

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As a native California girl I live for the days that my skin is coated in salt. I find nothing quite as equally exhilarating and peaceful as the cold rush of the ocean waves. It is a place where ideas come, feelings are released, joy is tangible, and life seems just a little more vibrant.

It came as no shock to me to find out that surf therapy is an active field. Water is a place of healing and something that washes away impurities and imperfections. In Christianity it is a place of baptism and rebirth, in Baha’i it represents truth, in Hinduism it is believed to hold a power of spiritual cleansing. No matter what background we may come from water has power. For me, it is a force God created that can change landscapes, and bring me into his presence.

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And for the organization of One More Wave, water and specifically surfing is a place of healing. What makes this non profit so unique is who they are serving. One More Wave works specifically with disabled veterans to get them out on the water for therapy. Their process is fairly simple.

First they identify a wounded veteran in need of help, that veteran is then asked to apply for help, if they are reviewed and approved the real fun gets to start. One More Wave then designs them a surfboard to fit their unique needs. Then the veterans get to get out on the water and start surfing.

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This is such a unique company that has a vision that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the restorative powers that water can bring. To help them out they use one word donate. You can donate your money, your time or even your stocks.

Help a veteran get the help they need.

Also check out One More Wave on Instagram @1mwave !

 

 

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Bling Bling

Bracelets doing more

I think we can all think of at least one company using bracelets to raise money and awareness for their cause. But do you realize just how many there are? And how much good they are doing?

I am a big fan of this form of style that is coming about. I myself wear 2-3 different bracelets supporting different causes daily. It is a great way to express style and help spread awareness. All it takes is one person asking where you got that bracelet or why you wear it to make a cause go just a little farther.

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What causes do I support currently through bracelets?

  1. 4Ocean: This is such a cute and classy bracelet that goes towards a cause that I am 100% in favor of. With each bracelet purchased, 4Ocean pulls 1 pound of trash from our oceans. Not only do they pull the trash out but the beautiful bracelets are actually made from the recycled material! Their goal to save marine life and our oceans is always something I will support.
  2. Colors X Good: These bracelets were introduced to me at my place of employment. They are crafted by women in Yucatan, Mexico to provide them with employment. Not only does it employ and empower the women who make them but they are ethically made and the profit go to support many other causes (such as feeding the malnourished children in Venezuela and more!)
  3. PuraVida: This is probably the most well known brand in my bracelet wardrobe. This brand does something similar to Colors X Good in that they employ impoverished people in Costa Rica. Well, at least that is how it started but this company has taken off and the bracelets employ artisans around the world and support numerous charities– cancer, animal activism, military, etc. (You can even add your own) They have things other than bracelets now too!
  4. 17 Strong: This is a bracelet that NEVER vacates my wrist. Seriously I have a whole album of photos of me at formal events still wearing my maroon and grey 17 Strong bracelet. This is an organization that means the world to me and deserves its own post all to itself. It is the brain child of Ryan Teixeira, who is still changing the world after his passing. This organization sends young adults battling life-threatening illnesses on Victory Trips.
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These are just the few I wear on a daily basis. There are so many other companies doing great things that are supported by the sale of their bracelets. Some of them include Meraki Journey and Divinity LA Bracelets.

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No matter where you look there are plenty of people and companies looking to make the world better one step at a time. We can all do our part to help them by purchasing a bracelet or donating to their cause.

Know of any others? I would love to hear! Feel free to email me at exceptionallyaverage@outlook.com.

 

National Plastic

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I think all of us had a stack of National Geographic in our elementary school. It was the stack that was mercilessly attacked by small children with less than stellar coordination cut out faces and polar bears for collages and school posters. However there is something more to the magazine.

This month they did an issue that has a cover that looks quite familiar to a previous cover. On further inspection, the familiar iceberg is not what it appears. It is actually a plastic bag floating on the surface of the ocean.

It is a symbol for the massive amount of plastic pollution we have created and are, unfortunately sustaining. This plastic pollution is doing untold damage and killing off sea life at an alarming rate. The pieces themselves are cutting off air supply, clogging stomachs, and some are even sending poisonous materials through the water.

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I even remember, on my trip to Ghana taking a trip to the shore. Filled with excitement, I longed for the crashing waves on the shore. When we arrived though the whole image saddened me. There was garbage lapping up with the waves onto shore. Instead of the speckle of sea shells it was the glisten of plastic. There was enough that even if our whole group of 16 each filled up an industrial trash bag we would have barely made a dent.

As a girl who grew up by the ocean, pretending or rather wishing to be a mermaid to swim with the sea otters and turtles, the news greatly saddened me. I mean, I for one cried during Planet Earth on multiple separate occasions with the human-caused death of animals. I know however that I am more emotional than most. But what would a world be without beautiful beach days with the sightings of dolphins and the salt-crusted skin of a day well spent.

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Could you imagine or even stand the thought of the death of a turtle being your fault or that your plastic bag was the direct cause? I know it is dramatic and a bit over the top but just attempting to be over the top for effect.

As always with these articles there are plenty of thins we can do. If you go to National Geographic you can see the list of plastic-free pledges you can take. For starters, if you would like to subscribe to National Geographic you can do so for as little as $12 and they will send you a re-usable bag. I keep several in the car at all times and haven’t actually received a plastic bag from a store in four months, the cheapest ones are typically at your local grocery store; I purchased mine for $0.89/bag.

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That was the easiest switch I made. There are other things as well such as not using the single-use straws at restaurants (I have not gotten the hang of this one yet) however there are also re-usable straws you can purchase (here is where:AmazonSand CloudFinal Straw ). I have gotten the hang of bringing my own coffee mug places though so no single-use cups there!

Anyhow, there are so many ways to reduce your negative impact on the animals in our oceans and even those here on shore. Just be conscious of your impact, and move with me to a better tomorrow.

The SAVE Farm

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I was hiking just last Tuesday and I stopped (conveniently at the top of the hill- because exercise) and listened. The whole world was humming. It was as if the world was vibrating with life. It is the familiar sound that comes with spring and continues through the summer. It is when everything and everyone has a little bit more life and energy in them.

Now, what if that sound stopped? What if the Earth stopped humming its happy life-giving song? Well, take a moment, look closer. What is the chorus to that hum? If you see what I do it is those wonderful bumble and honey bees I love so much. They are transporting life from place to place spreading their energy.

With the massive decline off bees I have become more and more aware of every time I find local bee keepers. So, it is no shock that last Saturday at our local farmers market I happened upon a local keeper in the area who is doing more than just sustaining a few hives.

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Not only are they sustaining their hives and creating amazing honey (some with infusions– we just used their jalapeno honey to grill chicken with: YUM) they are also part of The SAVE Farm. The SAVE Farm stands for Service-member Agricultural Vocation Education. It is an educational farm that takes service members (and sometimes dependents as well) and teaches them skills to enter the farming industry and start a career.

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This is also meant to be a place of healing, to re-integrate members into a society where they feel they have a purpose again. Lastly, they help place and transition the graduating members of a program into working farms. They don’t limit who can participate either with equipment designed for those who may have disabilities.

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They work on a variety of avenues in farming that include livestock, vegetables, apiaries, orchards and croplands. My favorite part is the training in beekeeping! Veterans are given the opportunity to live on the farm as they learn and grow, with a Healing Center and counseling also available to them.

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Now how can we help? 

  1. If you are in the Manhattan, Kansas area consider volunteering some of your time. I will be in the coming weeks and will be back with an update on what I learn.

  2. Donate! Super easy and a tax write off!  thesavefarm.org/donation 

  3. Here is a list of items they need if you have the means to provide some equipment to them.  thesavefarm.org/needs 

  4. Use them as your Smile organization at Amazon. A portion of your purchases will be donated to them.

  5. Lastly, purchase some of their products. That jalapeno honey we used is from Reme Bees LLC. You can email her for some of her products at kruemel_96@hotmail.com or find her on Facebook at  RemeBees 

All the Buzz

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According to SOS-bees.org, in the United States alone the honey bee population has dropped by 40% since 2006. And now, as many of us saw, the first bee has even been put on the endangered species list. This should be a reason for serious concern.

Most of us are probably thinking about bad experiences with bees, bee stings, and the high number of people and animals who are allergic. This is such a small problem though in comparison to a life without our precious bee population.

 

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Why should we be concerned? Why should we act now? Well..

One-third of all food production depends on the pollination provided by bees. Let me say that again ONE-THIRD OF ALL  FOOD  PRODUCTION. Could you imagine a world with that much less? We already have a massive hunger problem in all corners of the world. If you go to foodaidfoundation.org they have actually stated that about one in nine people in the world do not have enough food to live an active life. So with a little math, a world without bees that would bring us to one out of every six people who would be underfed.

Now, there have been attempts to pollinate crops in other ways. Some people have actually resorted to hand pollination in dire circumstances. This means they are taking paint brushes out in the field to pollinate crops by hand. However, it is high cost for a very low return.

Now for the most important part. Hope. Our bees are not gone yet, and there are a multitude of things we can do to help save them! 

  1. Sign the petition at  sos-bees.org  — Your voice always matters.

  2. Support Greenpeace. Ugh, I can only say fantastic things about this organization. They are doing such wonderful things for our planet. But don’t just take my word for it! Check out:  greenpeace.org/usa The best part is in supporting them you are supporting more than just the bees, you are helping the water, the Artic, and so much more life here on Earth.

  3. Adopt a bee or bee-hive at:  beefriendsfarm.com (this even comes with honey from your adopted hive!) or  worldanimalfoundation.org (they give you a cute photo of your bee plus an adoption certificate– adorable)

  4. Shop organically for honey. Even better, buy honey from a local bee keeper at your farmers market. Spending a dollar or two extra on this sweet goodness will support your local bee population and help sustain the hives in your area.

  5. Plant bee friendly flowers. Now I am by no means a gardener but some of these are even easy for me to keep alive! (I have lavender and daisies) But for a list of 25 visit  beefriendly.ca

 

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BONUS:

Shop these brands who are doing their part to SAVE THE BEES:

  1. Haagen-dazs— ice cream that is also doing good? That is something I can get behind!
  2. Me & The Bees Lemonade
  3. Bee Raw
  4. Burt’s Bees ( pretty sure my husband’s chap-stick addiction alone is keeping this company in business)
  5. General Mills— Hello Cheerios!
  6. Friends of Honeybees
  7. Honey Colony
  8. Bramble Berry
  9. Whole Foods
  10. Sweet Home Farm
  11. Justin’s– I know you all love your nut-butters!
  12. Droga Chocolates
  13. Savannah Bee Company (I have 6 of their chap-stick tubes and am obsessed– Mint Julip is my favorite!)

 

 

Know of any more?! Tell me about it! Email me at: exceptionallyaverage@outlook.com

Next week we will continue our topic of the bees by talking about The SAVE Farm, and their mission. (Fun fact: It was a total God-moment meeting these guys by chance at a farmers market here in Kansas while I was writing this article!)