Posts Categorized: Personal

Inspire(d) Updates + BOGO Magazines!

Hello, dear Inspire(d) friends,

We’ve been having some tough-but-necessary conversations around our house lately – talk of Juneteenth, racism, Black Lives Matter, and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, talk about COVID-19 and what it means for our immediate and future lives, talk of business and money, and what we have to do to stay afloat – talk about the general (and understandable) unrest in the world right now.

To be clear, we here at Inspire(d) believe in everything that’s so concisely spelled out on those awesome signs going up in neighborhoods all around us: Black lives matter. No human is illegal. Love is love. Women’s rights are human rights. Science is real. Water is life. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

It’s on us to keep these conversations going. We can and need to do better, and it starts with talking, listening, reading, learning.

Know better; do better.

Ultimately, when we finish these tough conversations, I always try to come back to hope. With Roxie, I compared it to cleaning her room. She loves to reorganize her closet, where she’s made a home for her dolls. Everything comes out of the closet, dumped on the floor. The mess looks much worse than when she started, but then she’s able to carefully put things back in a way that makes more sense. In a way that’s better. And that’s what I hope we can do with this country – this is our chance to rebuild, reorganize, and make this country – this world – a better, more positive, and inclusive place.

Know better; do better.

Along the way, we need to remember there are good people all over doing the work, and we should read/tell/share their stories far-and-wide. That brings us to what WE’RE doing right now – to stay afloat, to do our part, and to better the world: We’re working on the next Inspire(d) Magazine!

Due to COVID-19, we had to adjust our 2020 production schedule. This next magazine will be a Summer/Fall Inspire(d), on stands July, August, September, and October. The following magazine will be a Holiday/Winter Inspire(d), on stands November, December, January, and February. We hope to be back to our normal quarterly schedule in 2021.

Please bear with us as we do our best to get this heartfelt magazine out into the world safely and effectively. We can’t wait to brighten your lives with the positive news of the Driftless world right now.

Want to make sure you get one? We’re doing a BOGO – Buy One/Give One – sale on membership (this is how you get Inspire(d) sent to you in the mail!)! Head over to our Inspire(d) Membership page to sign up. It’s $28 for you and a friend/loved one. We’ll make sure you and they get Inspire(d) in the mail for a year!

Thank you for believing in us and supporting positive news. We’re going to get through this stronger and better than before.

Looking forward,
Aryn

P.S. We got a new canine member of our family this spring – her name is Athena! She’s a bernedoodle, and the photo above is just two days after we got her in late April (she’s MUCH bigger already)! <3

Take a Superhero Walk!

By Aryn Henning Nichols

Originally published in the Spring 2018 Inspire(d)

I don’t know about your neighborhood, but in ours, it always seems like there’s a bit more grime and litter in the spring. It’s surely caused by wind blowing bits of trash out of cans all winter long, then burying them in snow for us to uncover come spring. Luckily, spring is the perfect time to get out of the house. The sun shines, the days are a little bit longer, and that first 60-degree day feels like it’s a mid-summer 80. We like to head out for walks, but not just any walks: Superhero Walks!

What’s a superhero walk, you ask? We’ll, let me tell you. One spring day, Roxie, Benji, and I went out for one of those springtime walks. It was beautiful! But then, up ahead, we spotted some trash. “Shoot,” I said. “I wish we had brought a bag!” Then, like magic, a bag blew across the street. Since it was a little chilly still, we had on gloves (hooray, it was more sanitary!), so we picked up the bag, put the trash in it, and commenced our walk.

In a few short blocks, that bag was full.

A funny thing happened – it made the walk even more fun, like a trash scavenger hunt. We plopped the bag full of trash into our can, and looked around with pride. Then I looked at Roxie. “You know, we were kind of like superheroes just then,” I said. She smiled a huge smile, “Yeah, totally!” And thus Superhero Walks became a thing for our family.

These days, we try to be a little more prepared so we can put on our “capes” whenever needed. Turn the page for some tips on being a Superhero Clean-up Crew in your own neighborhood.

Take a Superhero Walk

Head out into your neighborhood and pick up litter – like an earth-loving superhero!

Materials:

  1. Trash bags (plastic grocery sacks seem to work well for walks – two can be nice: One for trash, one for recycling). Tip: Always store a sack in your jacket pocket so any walk can be a Superhero Walk.
  2. Gloves – disposable plastic ones are probably a good idea, but at least little knit ones so you’re not handling germy trash with your bare hands.
  3. Eagle eyes for spotting wayward litter.
  4. A sense of adventure!

How-to:

  1. Simply walk along, watching for trash! Make sure to wear your gloves when you pick it up and put it in the appropriate bag. You can even make it a game, and the person who picks up the most trash gets a prize! Cupcakes? Brownies? A hug?
  2. Throw the trash away and put the recycling in appropriate bins, and look around at your cleaner neighborhood. Good job, superhero!

Easy! Make sure to wave hi to neighbors!

If you have kids, ask some questions while you’re walking or when you get home. Here are some ideas:

What kind of trash did you see most often? What could be done to help with that problem?

Why is it important to pick up litter?

What would our neighborhood look like if everyone littered? How would that feel?

What other ways can we take care of our neighborhoods, homes, or other spaces where we live?

Tip: Supervise kids closely – be careful on riverbanks or near roads. Have grown-ups handle dangerous items – like broken glass – or if the litter is too gross, don’t mess with it. Make sure kids know to ask grown-ups for advice on making this call.

Want to take it a step further?

Adopt a Highway
State Departments of Transportation (DOT) have ongoing partnerships with citizens to help maintain the appearance of state roadsides by making sections of roadsides available for adoption. The program also helps increase public awareness of environmental needs along highways. See your state’s DOT website for more information.

Get Social #litterati

www.litterati.org – Through this movement, more than a million pieces of trash have been Instagrammed, and then disposed of properly.

It’s pretty simple:

  1. Find a piece of litter
  2. Photograph it with Instagram
  3. Add the hashtag “#litterati”
  4. Throw away or recycle the litter

Photos of trash on the Great Wall of China inspired the design of a global map that uses GPS to display where litter hashtagged with #litterati is being collected.

“Geotags provide insight into problem areas, while keywords identify the most commonly found brands and products. This data will be used to work with companies and organizations to find more sustainable solutions,” it says on litterati.org.

Download the Litterati app to join in on the information-collecting geotagging part. (Rochester, Minnesota, is already online, but other Driftless areas may need to be added.)

According to the data collected, as of printing:
544,178 people in the US had tagged and disposed of or recycled a piece of trash.

Most commonly tagged items:
273,030 Plastic
96,990 Cigarettes

#take3forthesea
www.take3.org

This movement encourages you to simply “Take 3” pieces of trash with you when you leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere. Snap a photo and hashtag #take3forthesea to encourage others to do the same. The non-profit Take3fortheSea was established in 2009 based in Sydney, Australia. They offer educational programs to inspire the global community to help create a cleaner planet for wildlife and future generations.

Planet Vision
www.facebook.com/PlanetVisionSolutions/

On of our favorite places ever, the California Academy of Sciences, has mapped out “A Plan for the Future We Want.” They’ve offered up some solutions and ideas, zeroing-in on the main causes of our environmental challenges: food, water, energy, us.

Stay-at-Home Family Checklist

Whew, these are some crazy times we’re living through with this COVID-19 pandemic. When we told Roxie there was no school for four weeks, she just laughed in her bed in disbelief. Not that it’s at all funny – but it does feel pretty surreal. We are strategizing ways to keep getting positive news to you all (have you seen Benji’s Instagram videos yet?!?) and ways to keep supporting the amazing local businesses in our region.

Benji and I also want to make the best of this time with Roxie, while also trying not to freak her (or ourselves) out too much.

It’s been a little trial and error so far, but we’ve made it through four days of staying at home, all together! And so have you! Hooray! Back-pats all around!

We have found a few things that have made it easier for everyone. I know a lot of people are sharing schedules, but for me, lists work better. I get a little stressed if I fall off schedule – the family checklist allows me the flexibility I need, while still granting the satisfaction of a job (or jobs) done!

We thought we’d share our list in case it sparks some inspiration in your house! Be well, our friends! <3

(Just click the image below for a pdf you can print at home!)


30 Minutes (at least) of exercise daily – this can be inside or outside!

Outside time every day, no matter the weather
I went on a walk in the rain today, and it was refreshing!

Creative or nature of science project
So far, we made a leprechaun trap, planted some seeds, and made a wind sock!

Read
Roxie and I are currently reading the Harry Potter series! Good thing Benji got three of the books and movies from the library!

Dad and Mom work time
Even though we normally work from home, doing so with our kid at home is hard. Plus things are so tumultuous with the world right now, it can be hard to focus. Setting aside specific work times for each parent at home is really important.

Learn something new
On Tuesday of this week, I asked Roxie to write a list of things she wanted to learn about. I said it could be anything – it could even be what she might think inappropriate – and we would see about learning more. Her list included “mustangs from the old times, candles, rubber bands, the Mona Lisa,” and more. And today Benji taught her about feeding and making sourdough!

Declutter one thing or space
It can be just one drawer. Baby steps, people. For me, today, it was our magazine and mail stack.

Clean one thing or space
Again, baby steps. Don’t feel like you have to deep clean the whole house! I cleaned one bathroom today. But nothing makes me feel more sane than clean spaces.

Games or Puzzles
We are playing Five Crowns daily. Today we also did a puzzle. There have been many rounds of “Herd Your Horses” this week too (a 1980s game we bought secondhand at the Depot).

Support your neighbors, community, or world in some way
Buy gift certificates from local businesses. Make a donation to the food pantry. Offer to make a grocery run for an elderly or at-risk neighbor. Put a positive message out into the world via social media or through a cheerful sign in your window. We’re all in this together!

Other fun ideas
From writing letters to FaceTiming friends or relatives to cooking something for the freezer – there are lots of great ways to occupy your time during this period of social distancing.

We’re thinking of you and sending lots of love your way!

XOXO – Aryn