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

 

Our Parks

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I think there is something that needs to be called to attention. When I have been talking about the National Parks I have often been referring to them as our parks. I think this is such an important distinction.

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These lands are ours. We are meant to care and look after them. While on the shuttle, winding your way in the shadow of Zion Canyon a voice talks about the responsibility that has been bestowed on us to care for and nurture the lands we have been given.

I personally that God gave us this beautiful, wonderful, mysterious, and oh so powerful Earth so that we may cherish and care for it. Just as you would respect anything else that is yours.

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Keep It Wild Co. shares this vision with me. They too believe that we are to nurture the land that we have so freely been given and should do what we can to keep them from harm. Keep it Wild reaches beyond National Parks and heads up cleanups in state and local parks as well.

They take the funds from their store and sponsor wilderness cleanups. You can buy some of their gear in support of the work that they are doing. OR you can even be a part of the cleanups! Check out more here: https://keepitwildco.ticketleap.com/

Keep it wild, my friends.

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Parks!

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In keeping on topic for the month of August. Lets continue celebrating our National Parks!

I was perusing a comprehensive list of national parks and found I have only been to a measly 9. Out of 60! I must say I am quite disappointed in myself and am going to make a much greater effort to see more in the (hopefully near) future. See the list below (to count again after last week).

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Overall this makes me realize the amount of profoundly unique and breathtaking landscapes make up our great country. With just a few of those places protected and preserved in the form of our National Parks.

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On my most recent trip I drove from Kansas, where I live, all the way out to Zion on my way to California. I pitched a tent and had a magical two night stay in the canyon of reds and oranges. It was after this stop on my trip social media introduced me to an organization called Parks Project.

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This company is an outdoor outfitter whose proceeds go to.. you guessed it projects that help our parks! Their clothing and accessories are something to swoon over. I am personally eyeing their map of the US National Parks. And with the proceeds actually benefiting and preserving our beloved lands, it is money worth spending.

Take a look for yourself! get something that looks great for you, and no need to feel guilty because you are doing good too! You can also then track the progress of projects they are supporting such as grassland restoration and planting native species.

Stay Wild.

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I was lucky enough to grow up in a household that encouraged the outdoors. We spent time riding bikes, going to parks, and boogie boarding to our hearts content. With all of this time spent out there I came into a long term and loving relationship with nature.

This love is compounded every time I set foot in a National Park. Their untouched feeling and grand landscapes can make anyone’s heart soar.

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I want to take this month to highlight these magical landscapes and the companies helping to keep them up, running, and looking more beautiful every year.

The obvious start to this month is the National Park Service. The NPS is the curators and caretakers of our National Parks. They make sure the wildlife, and the visitors are safe and well cared for so that the parks can be enjoyed for generations to come.

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They are one of my favorite organizations and they hold a special place with me for all the work they do to keep some of my all time favorite places looking beautiful.

There are 60 National Parks in the US. How many have you been to?

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 !

 

 

Bling Bling

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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