Thursday, October 18, 2018

Zero Waste Alternative to Paper Towels

Now that I'm on the mend from the health problems that I've been experiencing since Ukraine (more in this life update video), I want to focus on sharing lifestyle and fashion habits that allow me to create less waste in my day-to-day life. These small changes have a big impact on our environment and the way we interact with the world with which God has blessed us.

Today, I wanted to share what I use as an alternative to paper towels: OLD T-SHIRTS! We all have that shelf or drawer in our room that is filled with old t-shirts from high school, college, and freebies from events. Yes, you can wear these to sleep in, but there are only so many pajama shirts that you can wear. About a year ago, I was in this exact dilemma. I wanted to get rid of those old t-shirts that were taking up space, but I didn't want to just throw them away. Around the same time, I started reducing my waste in other areas, but hadn't stopped using paper towels. I realized that my old t-shirts could be the perfect swap for paper towels. Problem solved!

By switching from paper towels to old t-shirts, you are:
  • Utilizing existing resources that otherwise would have been thrown out 
  • Reducing the amount of single-use products in your life 
  • Voting for the type of world you want to live in - when you don't spend money on paper towels, you are reducing the demand of paper towel supply and saving the Earth's resources 
  • Being an example for others to choose eco-friendly alternatives 
  • Saving money - think about how much money you spend on single-use products 
Personally, I use these alternatives for spills and cleaning. After, I place the dirty ones in a jar before washing them in the washing machine. For more info on how to make your own, watch the video below and don't forget to tag me on Instagram if you make these!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Strength in the Face of Adversity

In the face of adversity, there is beauty and there is strength.

These words have never rang more clearly to me than in these last eight weeks. On July 31st, I arrived home from my two-month journey traveling and teaching English in Europe. My best friend was arriving in just a few short days and we were to embark on a three-week road trip up the East Coast into Canada. She arrived, and before I knew it, I was on the road once again...a place where I felt free, where I felt comfortable, where my heart was happy. In the midst of traveling, I started having stomach pains. I dismissed them thinking that they were related to traveling and would go away once I got back to a "normal routine" (whatever that is when you're drawn to living on the road).

Three weeks passed, and the pains persisted. Two months later, after visiting different doctors, I stand in my childhood home in New Jersey awaiting an answer. Did I eat or drink something contaminated? Did I catch a virus from traveling? Did I have this illness before I left? Amidst these questions, I was also faced with the uncertainty of figuring out the next chapter of my life. Where was I going to live? What job was I going to do? Was I going to leave everything behind and pursue the dreams I had dreamt throughout college?

I don't need to know the answers to all of these questions right now. I don't need to know what the future holds because I trust in God and that in due time, all will heal and be revealed to me. I will do what I'm supposed to be doing and the experiences I'm having now will shape where I'll be in the future. Where there is adversity and uncertainty, there will always be beauty and strength, and I know I will take that beauty and strength with me wherever I may go. 

Written by my dear friend with words that inspired this post, "Know that in the cracks, the brokenness, and the uncertainty of your heart, life is growing and a garden is forming." You are beautiful and you are strong. Keep going.

Monday, August 13, 2018

It's Okay to Change - Ukraine (pt. 3)

I've changed a lot over the last three years. I lived in three countries, became vegan, witnessed my 93--year-old father experience the hardships of old age, started loving my curly hair and thick eyebrows, embraced a sustainable lifestyle, lost my dearest brother, fell in love in unexpected places, found strength in God, lost and gained friends, traveled to the mountains of China, the ancient cities of Morocco, and far places in between...

It's no wonder that I've changed. How could someone not change after living in a foreign country where everything is new and different? After watching the one you love take their last breath? After sitting under the stars on a rooftop in Morocco talking about the beauty of life? After experiencing the power of God answering your prayers? 

I remember sitting in the Chapel in Ukraine. I had just finished the second week of teaching and I was filled with so many emotions that I just started crying. As the tears dripped down, I took a deep breath and thanked God. I thanked God for allowing me to experience all of the changes I went through because each and every change brought me to that exact moment, to a small village in Ukraine to teach English and be surrounded by some of the most inspiring people I've ever had the privilege of being with. 

In that moment, everything in my life made sense. I realized that it's okay to change. I used to fight change because I was scared of what was on the other side. I was scared of the judgments I would receive, of the friends I would lose, of the feelings I would feel. Change is good. Change is life. Change is shedding the layers to become exactly who and where you are supposed to be. 

I am where I am and where I'm supposed to be. As I enter into the next chapter of my life and this blog, I am building a story of this crazy journey called life, one change at a time. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Walking into Love - Ukraine (pt. 2)

I breathed a sigh of relief. The day's classes were over and my roommate and I were laying on our beds. She turned to me and said, "I have a song that I want you to listen to." 

We sat in silence and listened to the powerful words of the song. When it was over, I asked her if she could play it again. 

The song finished and one phrase kept ringing in my ears...

Walk into love. 
Walk into love.
Walk into love.

I had read many books and quotes about love, and experienced love in many forms, but I never heard it said that way. 

My roommate turned to me and asked me what my favorite part of the song was. I whispered, "Walk into love". 

As I whispered those three words, thoughts began to enclose my mind. I thought about falling in love in high school with a boy who I thought would remain my love for much longer. With him, I naively thought I knew what love was. As I fell more in love, he fell less in love. Soon enough, we parted our ways as I went on to live in the Czech Republic, China, and Italy and travel to over 20 other countries. In each country I lived and traveled to, I searched for love. I had fun, I was free, but deep down I knew I was afraid to walk into love, the real love where you do more than just fall in love...you get a glimpse of someone's soul, you hear their dreams, you walk together with Christ. 

I am no longer afraid to walk into love. Ukraine taught me that love comes in many forms. Walking into love isn't just falling in love. It's listening to someone play the guitar under the stars and wondering how you never heard the sound of their music before. It's sitting in the Chapel after a long day with your best friend and giving everything to God. It's writing a note to someone who made you smile after a long day. It's giving yourself of service to others exactly how you are, imperfections and all. It's allowing yourself to be worthy of the love you will receive in turn.  

Ukraine taught me how to walk into love. I am strong, I am confident, and I am no longer afraid, and for that I'm forever thankful.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Power of a Smile - Ukraine (pt. 1)

I had just arrived at the Monastery where I would be spending the next few days for teacher orientation. The mentor who had picked me up from the airport said, "Here we are." A thousand questions filled my head...

"What am I doing here?"
"Why did I leave the comfort of my home?"
"How am I going to teach English with a degree in Business?"
"Is there wi-fi?" 
"How am I going to stay vegan when I can't speak Ukrainian?" 
"Will I make friends?" 

The questions billowed as I headed to dinner with a few of the teachers who had also arrived that day. As I munched on my first vegan meal of buckwheat and bread, I overheard a girl at the table next to me say that someone had already put their suitcase on the other bed in her room. 

I interrupted, "Wait, what room are you?"

She responded, "215". 

We spent the remainder of the night talking about our blogs, our struggles, and God. As I was falling asleep, I took a deep breath and whispered, "Thank you, God." We went on to spend the next three weeks laughing until our stomachs hurt, listening to worship music, drinking beer after a long day, and laying in our beds wondering how blessed we were that God brought us to Ukraine. 

Orientation came and went. Before I knew it, Monday morning was here and it was time for the first class. I had my coffee in hand and my lesson plan ready. I lifted my head and shoulders, pretending to be confident as I walked to my "classroom" (a circle of chairs outside the Chapel). I looked at my nine students who were all about my age. I smiled the biggest smile I could, hoping to hide my nervousness, and said, "Hi, my name is Kat." 

My lesson plan tanked numerous times throughout the first class...we finished activities way sooner than I thought. Some tasks were too easy, some too boring, some too challenging. I kept doing the only thing I knew how to do, I smiled and laughed at every opportunity. When I smiled and laughed, my students smiled and laughed. I thought, "Maybe I can do this." 

As the days and weeks passed, I shared conversations with my students and many others in the camp. We went on walks and they wrote to me. They shared their dreams and their hardships. They told me about their families and their friends. They told me what life was like in Ukraine. All the while, I smiled. 

The day I had been dreading finally arrived: the last day of camp. The hours ticked on and I knew it was time to say goodbye. The tears flowed and wouldn't stop. For the first time since my arrival, I couldn't smile knowing I had to leave the people who had made every day a beautiful one. As the tears kept pouring, I noticed something. With every hug came a student who was smiling, a student who said thank you for making them smile, a student who wrote me a letter about how seeing my smile brightened their day. I knew in that moment, my job as a teacher was done. 

If you're reading this, smile. Keep smiling and when you don't feel like it, smile more. Someone is watching. Someone is healing. Someone is falling in love. Someone is turning their fear into confidence. Someone is seeing God in you. Someone is happy and by God, that's a beautiful thing.