Sunday, February 10, 2013

a new project: one by one

Why hello there. 
If you are usually more of a skimmer and casual picture-looker, and not one that always reads my long winded rambles.....I ask that maybe I could just steal away a few minutes of your day and have you read this....just this one time. I need your help. 

(This is long. I am sorry. Grab a snack.)
www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
I want to start something, a project, and I need you....and you! And your sisters and your friends and your uncles and your mom. All of you. 
In last month's post I had mentioned my desire to make this little Internet space different. 
Fill it with content that will be helpful and worthwhile, instead of just wasteful and time consuming Internet fluff.

When January got too cold, we ran away to the desert. After a long day of playing on the rocks and soaking up the sunshine, we returned to the house we were staying in, dumped the sand from our shoes, and got to work on dinner. We enjoyed a grilled feast with friends and spent the evening with full bellies and long conversations. We spoke of parenting and adventures and then somehow got on the topic of "making a difference". We had been talking about different documentaries we'd all seen, and while the end credits always left us feeling inspired, we realized that we really can't do much in the form of activism. As much as we would like to run off and "save the _______", being young parents with low budgets and day to day responsibilities, it's hard to get out and DO something, even if we really wanted to. 
How can one person make a difference? Can they
Can I?

I started thinking.
and thinking.
Woke up in the middle of the night......thinking.

Flash forward through the next few weeks.....more thinking. Pondering. Wondering. 
What can I do? 
What can WE do? 
How to make a difference......

I started to get ideas.....
As strange as it sounds.....bloggers have power.
Weird right?
I am sometimes amazed at how much time and money people put into their blogs. 
Why spend so much on something that's not even tangible--it's not real!
 It's something that won't even be around in ten years?! 
Crafts and new fashions and awkward self portraits.....why do we need these things?
Did you know there are conferences throughout the year you can go and learn to be a better blogger? I wonder if in twenty years people will look back and wonder why they poured so much money into something flashy on their computer screen. 
And will they wish for precious hours back with their friends and families?
So much time trying to better nothing more than an image and an Internet space, when that time could be used to better the world around us.

So.
Here's an idea.
What if we used the Internet--our blogs-- as a tool for good? What if we spent some of our time and energy and talents in actually trying to make a difference, instead of just growing our readership and making ourselves look fancy. 
Let's use the power of the Internet to do something meaningful. 
Something we can look back on and feel good about when we are 103 years old.
Let's join forces for good, shall we?
No plane ticket or fancy outfit required.

So here is my idea. It's small. Simple.
It has the potential to grow......IF you can help me. I can't do it alone.
What if every few weeks I posted a challenge. Something very doable that we ALL can participate in--I know you don't need another item on your to-do list. 
Just a small action that could potentially make a difference in someone's life. 
Do a small act of service. 
Write a note to someone.
Pick up a piece of trash. 
Or how about time spent that could make US a better person--enrich our REAL life, not our Internet life.
Read a book. 
Start a journal (using paper!) 
Turn our phone off. 

Imagine the possibilities! 
And if we were all doing it together, maybe we COULD actually make a difference.

Imagine this (I like visuals)
Let's say I'm walking through a parking lot and pick up a piece of trash I see blowing across the pavement.
ONE piece of trash in the garbage.....meh. Big deal.
But let's say everyone that reads this picks up one piece of trash....right there we are filling up trash bags! Trash cans! Call the garbage man!  (double bonus if you sort recyclables!) 
Our streets and parks around the world just got a little bit cleaner. 
And then you tell your friends (and neighbors! and cousins!).....and they help out too. 
Do you see where I'm going here?

We can all work on this together--reaching out to those around us. Enriching our own lives. Little steps at a time. It's hard for one person to make a difference on our own......but one by one, maybe....just maybe....we can get something going.

Are you with me? 
I promise to make it easy. And fun! Always fun.
BUT.
One but.
Talking to the wise and knowledgeable Whitney Ingram (yes, THE Cookbook Whitney) she brought up a good point. The Internet (blogs, facebook, instagram, etc and etc) have made it so we all feel the need to brag about every little thing we do. 
This is what she had to say about serving others, 
"if you tell someone about it, it doesn't count."
I love this.
I don't want us to be bragging and posting photos of all our wonderful do-goodery. That is not the point. However, should you have incredible story of some sort, or a life changing experience.....please let me know. I would love to share your story here--it's good for us all to hear encouraging and heart warming stories of kindness. Has someone served YOU? I want to hear about that too.
But for the most part, let's keep our little acts silent, so they can all count.

Who is with me? 
Are you up for the challenge? 
Should we see if we can little by little, one by one, try to make a difference on this mighty earth?

We are going to start out as basic and simple as we can get. 
I want everyone to play along--no excuses! 
What's our first challenge?
www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
Smile.

What?!

Yes sir and mam. Just smile. A little extra than usual. 
Smile at a stranger. 
Smile at that guy who took your parking spot.
Smile at the girl who puts her yoga mat waaaaaay too close to yours and you can smell her feet. 
Smile when you really don't want too. The world needs more smiles, so let's start today. 
You and me and you and you.

See?! Easy challenge to start us out. I would love to hear your ideas for challenges--I plan on rotating between ways we can better those around us, ourselves, and the Earth. I have my list going but would love to add some of your ideas. I want a good combination of small gestures we can do for others to spread happiness, and small changes we can make in our individual lives that will lead to us being happier.

And.....

Tell your friends! 
The more people we can get on board, the more of a difference we can actually start to make.

Please take a button if you'd like to post on your blog, and link to our challenges. 
(just paste this html code on your sidebar)
grab a button


grab a button


grab a button


Wow! Did you make it through that whole thing? 
Thank you for reading and for your support. 
I am so excited to work together and see what we can do.

now.....go smile at someone!

32 comments:

Deborah said...

I love this, grabbed a button, and can't wait to play along. I think we do get caught up in wanting everything to be "pretty" all the time. Our pictures, our crafts, our blogs. I love putting the focus on doing good. Thanks for the idea~

kami said...

I'm in. Love it! Sometimes all the blogs seen so important and then I step back and realize...they don't matter. Life does. The REAL people around this do. This is such an awesome way to put things back in perspective. I love your blog because its real...thank you! I'll start smiling more (and I like the "put your phone down" idea because I totally need to work on it!!).

samhotmess.com said...

I love this.
i grabbed a button.
(i also feel exactly the same way about blogging sometimes- WHO the HECK is reading what I have to say? why am I reading about people who I've never even met?)
Thanks for sharing.

Eleanor said...

This is an amazing idea and I love your first challenge.
I was walking through Target one day generally annoyed by all around me parking carts in the middle of aisles, blocking shelves etc. when an elderly gentleman approached me and said, "You are very pretty and would be even more so if you would just smile."
It blew me away at first that someone would say that to a total stranger, then I realized what I must have looked like walking around pissed off. What a wake up call.
So I accept your challenge as a reminder that smiling through adversity doesn't allow it to steal our joy.
And I'm totally stealing a button. ;)

Toni Englestead said...

This is so great! I'm in!!!

purdywords said...

Thank you for trying to make this whole online worldly presence thing more meaningful so that it will last. Synod ourselves. Count me in! And I will grab a button, too!

Hays said...

smiling as i grab my button

Mickelle McCrory said...

this is why I read your blog. I'm excited about this!

Tailor Talbot said...

I started this same thing on my blog!

http://thegirlinpinkblog.blogspot.com/p/challenge-of-week.html

It's a great idea!

I'm in!

Sara C. Walk said...

Oh Sheena thank you for this...I am 100% in!! I completely agree and love you using your blog to bring people together and make a difference. ALSO i just heard this quote and it really inspired me...I always feel too busy or I cant do this or that because I just dont have the time. This quote just put it all in perspective...

"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it takes to accomplish it. The time will pass anyways."
-Earl Nightengale

grabbed a button too :)

Vanessa said...

I made it through! :) Actually it wasn't hard, you are a great writer.

I want to say for ME that my blog is something I feel like is a tangible heirloom I will have forever. When I have time I put some free time into it. It is something I will have forever, my children will have, hopefully their children. So they can read of our travels, our favorite family recipes, when their Mom was going through a hard time with a new baby, etc. I love photographs and I am very happy I take them and post them. Sure my blog has some Internet fluff probably. But it already has a lot of helpful and worthwhile things to ME, to my family. That is why (at least for the past two years) I have chosen to blog.

Blogs have already changed lives, made a difference, etc. They do have a lot of power and have done incredible things. They HAVE done a lot of good.

Why do we look in and see it as bragging? Is it just someone on a high--happy and wanting to document a really great experience they just had? Sure maybe sometimes it is not, but is that our place to constantly scrutinize? (coming from a woman who does sometimes scrutinize--and boy does it not help)

I won't wish for my time spent on it back. Because it is for me and my family. Like I said to me It IS something tangible. I only put "hobby time" into it. I think that is important to watch. If I happen to have extra time and I am feeling like it--I do it.

But I also do understand what you are saying on the other side. I too have found myself having a hard time with blogs in general at different times. So I get it, I do I do. I just wanted to bring up that side of it as well.

And I do love this idea. It is a great idea. Little things we can accomplish.

So I am going to SMILE today!

Han said...

Love this Sheena! Thanks for the button, and the inspiration.

Julia @ WritersBlockNearYou said...

I love this. Wonderful idea, and I love the "no telling" rule. Love love love.

Michelle K. Martin said...

Love this idea, will definitely be playing along! Especially like the idea of not 'bragging' about being kind to others. It should be something we do to simply better the world around us and not to show off :)

sheena said...

@vanessa I completely agree with you! Personal blogs used as journals are wonderful! (I used my blog as a detailed journal for years until I felt like I had too many people knowing too much about our private lives, so I decided to stop)

I'm more referring to some of the larger blogs that are almost ALL "fluff". "Buy this! Look like this! Your kids should wear this!" That kind of stuff. Those seem to be the most popular blogs, with a lot of influence on women today. Just trying to influence people in another direction:)

summer said...

Lovvvvvvve this, Sheena! Way to start something huge! Count me in. And thank you for the awesome, much-needed reminder that putting time into your blog can turn into a trap. I love your long posts, they're always chock full of good things.

ps. Smiling. I'm excited about this. Perfect way to start!!!

amanda said...

Well sure! :)

Aisha said...

I like the idea... I grabbed a button :)

theusualbliss.com said...

Love it. Done. My favorite part is "it doesn't count if you tell someone about it." Smile!

Miia said...

I went through a deep thinking of virtual life vs real life as my dear friend passed away. Did I spend the time blogging I could have spent with her? Did I write a blog instead of writing a letter? Did I just flip around meaningless sides instead of phone calls?

The answer, if any, is biased. I am happy I did blog about the time we spent together, otherwise I would not remember it. Also I know how much some blogs helped me to stay optimistic etc, and that made me to write the cards I did, not blocked me doing so.

But there were of course a lot of meaningless time spent in internet. That I regret.

It is other people that make us human, that make the life worth living and loving! So highly appreciated this!

Jessica said...

What a great idea. I have extra time at my work to surf the internet and often find myself reading blogs. Although it helps to pass the time, it can also really get me down. And make me feel like I need this and that in order to fit in. Thankful for your blog that is so real :)

jeanmarie. said...

I love this SO much!

Tiffani said...

That Whitney is smart! The best part about service and that it's a secret!

Amber Andrews said...

Sheena, this is awesome. Seriously so so so awesome! Love that you're doing this and I'm SO in. Button is grabbed and added to my blog, wooo! Also I'll mention your... our? project in my next post (even though no one is really following me, but hey I've had a few comments from strangers so I'm getting through to someone right?)

I totally agree with you that too many blogs are about blogging, while I like seeing fashion posts and beauty posts for advice, I'm much more interested in reading peoples posts about what they did over the weekend or the project they attempted. Journal type blogs yes.

Anywho, I think your idea is so wonderful. YES more smiles! Maybe one day we can all, recycle one, just one thing, it can be anything! And if you recycle two things you get a high five but if you recycle five things you get a cookie, but we're not sharing so you're on your own with the cookies. Going off the cookies, make some for the local firefighters and/or police officers. How about doing the messiest craft project with your children? Let them get messy and DONT stress about it, don't take pictures, get in on the mess with them. Instead of buying your typical morning coffee put that money towards a charity. Support a local small business.

I'll shush now. I really love this Sheena!

Amber Andrews said...

Blogs are about BRAGGING... that's supposed to be bragging not blogging....

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everyday graces said...

I think this is my 1st time commenting...love this idea! You can count me in!

Monica said...

Love this Sheena. ❤ I love that you take the time and have the courage to something with those wonderful thoughts!!

taral said...

I got to know about your blog through the spinach shot. Im totally in with your idea. I like it and more so that it does not involve bragging

Staci Davies said...

I absolutely love the way you think & word everything perfectly and take action!

jen said...

I love this idea, and that it is more than just an idea. I often think about the exact same things permeating our minds and hearts these days, it's so refreshing to be reminded what is most important. I am definitely going to be a part of this. I know you have a gagillion friends, but let's be real life friends too!

Lauren said...

Thanks for this. Thanks for your blog. I'm so thankful for its simplicity.That it doesn't try to be ridiculously impressive and presumptuous. It's refreshing, and somehow lets me relax a bit. It also makes me truly think about why I blog. Is it to impress, to create an image, or is it to truly share my life and my story. So, thanks again.