#NWARKCares Link Up


It’s the first-ever #NWARKCares link up, plus the first one I’ve ever done here on the blog. Even though I’ve never done a link up before, I found myself saying I would when our leader Jacqueline Wolven asked for someone to step in and do one. I am not usually one to offer to do something I have never done before, especially not something that I could do “wrong” or “mess up.” I admit that is one of the reasons I have put off doing this link up all month long. It’s still April though, and our focus on the environment is still relevant even with Earth Day having come and gone last week.

Not familiar with #NWARKCares? Started by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers, #NWARKCares is an initiative to share social issues and raise awareness for local causes. As a group we focus on a cause each month by sharing about the issue and highlighting the regional nonprofits that serve those causes. As I said above, this month our focus is on the environment, and there are some great posts out there from members of the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers. I hope they’ll link them up here so you can read them! Until then, I’d love for you to read my post on how volunteering for Heifer International helped spur my commitment to caring for the Earth.

Have a post about the environment that you’d like to share? Here’s how:

Click the blue button to submit your blog post. Be sure to link the URL of an actual post and not just your general blog URL.

Do I have to be a member of the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers to participate?

While this link up is specifically for gathering all of the #NWARKCares April posts in one place, we would love to read your post about the environment even if you are not a member of Northwest Arkansas Bloggers or #NWARKCares. Please just make sure your post is focused on the topic of the environment before linking up.

I linked up….now what?

Read, comment and share the other posts you see linked up! It’s not a requirement of this link up, but the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers are all about community building! Link back to this post so that others can join in as well (again, not a requirement). In that vein, I may share your post and images on future blog posts and on social media, with credit to you always. Thanks for joining in!

 Loading InLinkz ...

Small Changes Make all the Difference {Earth Day}



When I heard that this month’s #NWARKCares focus would be on the environment, I immediately thought of Heifer International’s mission to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. I told my fellow Northwest Arkansas bloggers that even though they are based in Central Arkansas, I didn’t feel I could write about the environment without talking about Heifer. And here’s the reason–through volunteering for Heifer I learned so much more about how what we do in our everyday lives impacts the environment.

Yes, I grew up with the mantra recycle, reduce, reuse, and I was raised by parents who put that into action and taught us to recycle. That was pretty much the extent of it though. I continued to recycle throughout college and I even began a recycling program at a business I worked at in Northeast Arkansas, but it wasn’t until I began volunteering with Heifer Village in 2009 that my idea of caring for the Earth expanded. The exhibit that really brought it all home was the “Make a Difference Lab.” This was an interactive exhibit where visitors could declare their intention to make changes in their life that would impact the Earth and the world at large for the better. By typing their commitment to recycle, volunteer, compost, save energy or reduce pollution, visitors were able to connect all of what they learned in the learning center’s exhibits to their very own lives. It also impacted me as a volunteer. Seeing all of the commitments visitors made every day created in me a desire to do those things as well…all of them! Right NOW!

I got it into my head that I wanted to start an organic farm, raise chickens, some goats, maybe llamas or alpaca, and grow our own food, simplify our life. I still hope that we can realize that dream in some way in the future, but I realize that I have little if any experience with any of those things so I need to start small. Like, with a garden. It’s not that I have never planted something in the soil myself, but I haven’t ever had a garden of my own. This spring and summer I hope to help out in my friend’s garden to get my feet wet, plus I am going to start out with a small herb garden of my own. I am also looking into growing some lettuce and possibly tomatoes hydroponically in our sun room. I recently visited Ozark Hydroponics and it sounds like something that I could easily manage and use as a tool to teach Young Master Gray about growing your own food.

Something else that I have recently committed to is reducing the amount of non-recyclable or reusable items that we bring into our home. I was feeling really good about all of the things that I was recycling through the city’s recycling program and TerraCycle. Then, a friend recently pointed out that a lot of packaging we had been saving to send in to TerraCycle’s mail-in recycling program was not actually recyclable. Not even by TerraCycle’s standards. This brought me back down to Earth and made me start to rethink the way we conduct ourselves as consumers. Taking a reusable bag to the grocery store is great (if you actually remember to take it inside), but have you ever thought about the packaging around the items you purchase? Is it recyclable? Is there an alternative product with recyclable packaging or, better yet, no packaging? Can you make that product at home? Can you take in your own jars and fill them up in the bulk section at Whole Foods or, locally, Ozark Natural Foods?

It will require some planning and some re-evaluating, and I realize that we won’t be able to eliminate all non-recyclable packaging at once. (Note: This is me telling myself that it’s a process and it is okay to not do it all right away.) I remember reading about a family that had taken on a no-waste challenge and they even took in their own glass containers to the butcher to carry their meat home. I admit, I draw the line at recycling the packaging around raw meat. It always goes in the trash because of the gross factor. I never even considered taking in my own container to the butcher.

So, if I were standing in the “Make A Difference Lab” right now (unfortunately, I recently discovered it is no longer there), my commitments would be:

  • Start growing our own food,
  • Be a more conscious consumer including shopping more from the bulk section and farmer’s markets, and
  • Get my clothesline put up so I can start drying all of our laundry on the line, not just what will fit on the drying racks, makeshift clothesline, and backs of chairs.

Baby steps. Lllamas will just have to wait. What about you? Treat the comment section as our virtual “Make a Difference Lab” and share your own commitments!

Take your health to heart

Heart disease month

Some things seem to creep up on us. Here you are going along with your life, and BAM–it’s already time to renew my tags again? Or, you know, past due as it usually happens in my world. Other examples of sneaky, sneaky annual obligations include holidays, tax season, and the well-woman visit. Listed in ascending order of which induces the greatest amount of dread, of course. Maybe it’s just me, but I dread this appointment more than any other because it’s that extra appointment on top of all of the other doctor appointments I have all year long. However, dread or not, I always make sure I make that appointment.

That wasn’t always the case though. Before I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 21, I had never scheduled a well-woman visit. I was young, healthy, active and frankly, I just didn’t see the need. Even when there were signs all around me to remind me of the need to value my health and be proactive, regardless of my age. My brother who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was only 11, a friend the same age as me with a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol, my grandfather who suffered a heart attack, just to name a few. Do I think that a well woman visit would have helped catch my cancer earlier? Absolutely. By the time I finally gave in to my friends imploring me to be seen, I had a tumor the size of a basketball on my ovary. So yes, I do believe that had I scheduled a well-woman visit beforehand they would have noticed that something was off. I was so incredibly fortunate in that while my tumor grew very large, my cancer was still only Stage 1 by the time I had my surgery. In every way, my story is so very different than that of other women who face ovarian cancer. It is usually not detected until late stages when it is often too late. For this reason they call it the silent killer.

I didn’t intend to talk about cancer today, though. I only bring it up to drive home the point that a yearly well-woman visit is incredibly important, no matter your age or how healthy you feel. What I really want to talk about is heart disease, another silent killer of women. In fact, heart disease is the number 1 killer of women, killing more women than all types of cancer combined. The good news is that the American Heart Association estimates that 80% of all cardiovascular disease may be preventable. For women, that means–you guessed it–going for a well-woman visit every year to check blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol levels and more. If you haven’t had a well woman visit before, know what to expect and be prepared with these tips from Go Red for Women. In addition to scheduling your annual checkup, there are other ways to promote heart health including:

  • Learning the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke. Did you know that there are many symptoms women suffer that are different than a typical man’s symptoms?
  • Knowing your risk for cardiovascular disease. There are many factors to consider, from family history and age, to diet and exercise.
  • Get trained in CPR. Don’t want to wait? Watch this video to learn how to perform hands-only CPR. Then, find a CPR course offered near you.
  • Become an advocate for heart health in your family, school, workplace or community. Encourage your friends to get checked, teach your kids to eat healthy and exercise, advocate for more woman-related research.
  • Own your lifestyle. Eat right, exercise and don’t smoke.

Don’t let heart disease creep up on you. Early detection can make all the difference. Plus, it’s worth it to do something for your health and your peace of mind.

With this post, I’m joining other Northwest Arkansas Bloggers in #NWARKCares, an initiative to bring awareness to causes right where we live–using our collective voices on our blogs and social media.