All those extra clothes you have lying around your place aren’t doing you any good, so why not use them to help someone else out? Donating good clothing is a great way to help support people that have come upon difficult financial times. Clothes can be prohibitively expensive, so it helps to have people who will donate theirs willingly. We’ll give you a few guidelines for donating your old clothing so it can have the maximum amount of impact.

Clothing Must Be Clean

The first and arguably most important guideline for making clothing donations is to wash any clothes you plan on donating. Many people donate clothes they haven’t worn in a long time, meaning they could be musty and dirty. Remember to use a neutral, non-fragranced detergent when you wash the clothes. This helps prevent any bad reactions for people who might pick up your clothes next and are sensitive to those things.

Clothing Must Be in Good Condition

Besides just being clean, a good clothing donation includes clothes fit for wearing. You may not want that shirt that has a huge hole in it anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’s useful for someone else. Clothing in good condition for donating should have no holes, large rips or tears, and no large stains anywhere on them.

Donate According to the Season

Many charities that take clothing donations, especially ones that pick up your donations right from your house, like the Purple Heart Pickup, don’t have the space to dedicate to storing excess clothing that they can’t use immediately. This is why donating according to seasonality is useful. You should donate more clothes that help for the summer or winter in those respective seasons so that these charities don’t have to hold on to clothes for months at a time.

Separate by Size

It can help to separate your clothing donations by size before you drop them off or have them picked up. Separating old baby clothes from your clothes can save the charity workers who sort through donations a lot of time and effort. It also makes them easier to categorize as they come in, rather than having to sort through everything by hand.

Label Everything

You can make the charity workers’ jobs even easier by clearly labeling your donations if you put them in boxes or bags. This also helps to cut back on time spent sorting through everything and gets your clothes out to those who need them much faster.

 

Authored by Inspire Your Journey

My mother has been retired for approximately eleven years now. She worked at the local hospital in her town for 32 years, starting as a nurse’s aide and working her way up to being a manager of the Radiology Department. She just mentioned to me how much she misses that environment and the satisfaction of helping patients recover from their traumas. We both agreed that she has helped hundreds of people throughout her hospital career. Reminding her of this fact makes her feel better.

The Challenges & Positives

I need to remind my mother these days because she is battling with dementia and the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She suffered a stroke ten years ago which left permanent neurological damage and cognitive impairment. She has never been the same, but she tries to maintain a sense of normalcy within her life that is a continuous challenge.

One of the positive outcomes from this tragedy has been our weekly walks that we take down Redwood Drive. My mom needs a walker to aid her balance, but she takes these jaunts almost every day which uplifts her spirits and gives her a sense of independence.

An Unexpected Teacher

During one of our most recent outings, we saw a young woman pushing her two small children in a stroller. We didn’t recognize them, but my mom waved her hand and they all waved back. The young woman then started to cross the street and walk toward us. As she approached, her two kids waved at us again. They were adorable. One of the children was a boy, about 6 years of age, and the other was a girl, approximately 3 years old.

The young mother exclaimed that every time we walked by the house, the kids waved to us from the bay window, unbeknownst to my mother and I. The young boy smiled, shaking his head in agreement. Apparently, our walks are a highlight of their day. Who knew that my mother and I were impacting these children’s lives just by taking a stroll down Redwood Drive? The image of those kids waving from the bay window without our realization is a great reminder for all of us.

The A-Ha Moment

The take-away lesson is this: You might not always be aware if someone is observing your actions. So be careful of your words and your deeds for they have an impact upon the people in your environment – positive or negative – depending upon the choices you make.

You never know who’s watching, listening, or noticing You – be mindful of your behavior.

 

The author, Susan Kapatoes MHA, is the founder of Inspire Your Journey, a health and wellness company offering a BEMER Rental Program, Wearable Health Technology, and Amare Global nutrition products. She lives in Massachusetts.  

Spring is the perfect time to consider our impact on the earth and the environment. Figuring out what we can do as individuals to reduce our effect on the air quality and the atmosphere can significantly change our lifestyles for the better.

One of the most environmentally harmful activities that many people do every weekday is to perform the standard work commute by car. If you want to find a solution to reduce the polluting emissions of your work commute, consider these tips for making your commute more eco-friendly.

Flex Your Schedule

The fewer days you work a week, the less driving and commuting you’ll have to do. Ask your boss for a flexible scheduling option—even if you work a 40 hour week. You may work more hours four days a week for a long weekend or have a day off in the middle of the week for a much-needed break. If you have a part-time job, see if you can opt for longer shifts a few days a week. It may not be possible in every scenario, but it’s worth a conversation.

Many businesses switched their employees to a work-from-home format during the pandemic; if your company is beginning to open its office space to workers again, ask about a half remote, half office schedule—or even a fully remote schedule. Though your hours will remain the same, you won’t need to commute on remote days.

Alternative Transportation

One of the best ways to make your commute greener without shaking up your work schedule is to ditch the car altogether. Find a public transportation method that will get you close to your workplace, and walk or jog the rest of the way. While public transportation isn’t perfect, it does move more people around than your individual car will, essentially lessening each person’s environmental impact.

Whenever possible, consider riding a bike to work. Biking is easier and faster than running or walking, and it will give you a high-quality workout before and after work. Especially in the city, make sure you stay safe and follow local bike laws to protect yourself.

Upgrade Your Vehicle

Sometimes, it’s simply not possible to forego the car on our commutes to work. The last of our tips for making your commute more eco-friendly is to purchase a new, greener vehicle. If your car is at the end of its life, it may be spewing more harmful emissions into the atmosphere than you know. Keep track of its emissions usage and fuel efficiency. When it’s less than satisfactory, your greenest option is to buy a new vehicle with environmentally friendly features.

Think over your eco-friendly options, and try ones that fit your unique lifestyle. There’s no harm in trying different methods or combining them just to switch things up!

 

Authored by Inspire Your Journey

I am standing in the supermarket line, and I am doing something extraordinary. I am patiently observing the cashier as she scans each grocery item of the customer in front of me. I am, non-judgmentally, browsing the headlines of the tabloid newspapers that are displayed within reading distance.

I am inextricably a part of this life experience, yet not absorbed in it. I am not creating emotional opinions about the people nor the environment which surrounds me. I am not wishing that the cashier would work faster. I am not thinking about my next errand. I am here and now, paying attention to this sacred moment.

The event that I just described is the very essence of mindfulness. It is being mindful of your present situation without forming a strong attachment to it, especially on an emotional level. The concept of mindfulness is simple but can be challenging to execute on a consistent basis due to the busyness of our daily lives. I will help to clarify this practice by sharing another a-ha moment that I experienced while taking a yoga class.

A-Ha Moments

About half-way through today’s yoga class, there was a shift in my perception. My awareness became heightened as I completely focused my attention within the present classroom environment. The moments elongated as I reveled in the simple joy of the experience. Yes, time appeared to be stretching itself to maximum capacity. There was only the uplifting atmosphere and motivating presence of the yoga teacher.

All else was blurred from my perception. I was hyper-concentrated on the here-and-now which was blissful and sweet. Like a light bulb brightening a room, the realization illuminated my awareness. I felt thankful for the gifts that were right before my eyes.

At the very end of this class, we did the final Shavasana pose which consists of lying down on our backs in complete relaxation to rest our bodies after the workout. I have done this pose hundreds of times, but the instructor said something interesting as we were preparing to enter the posture. She eloquently stated, “stillness awaits you, now is the time to lie down in Shavasana.”

The words “stillness awaits you” struck a chord of remembrance within my being. Suddenly, the posture felt brand new. I felt so welcomed by these words that I could not wait to be embraced by the peace that awaited our participation. I thought, yes, stillness awaits us because it is already within us. This is what the instructor meant by “stillness awaits you.” If we take the time to tune into our center, our soul, and our divine spirit, then we will connect to the true essence of our core being which is stillness.

After class, as this awareness was moving through my consciousness, my mind kept flashing back to the days when I first started doing yoga. As a beginner, I was impatient and found it difficult to cultivate a sense of inner peace. It took some time to get to this beautiful feeling that I was experiencing today, but the good news is that it is attainable.

Before fully surrendering to this act of mindfulness, I was in a continual mode of anticipation instead of appreciation, wondering what time the class would be over instead of savoring my time within it. My consciousness was not perceiving this session as a gift to be enjoyed, but rather a chore to be performed.

All it took was a change in perception for the gifts to be revealed, for the gratitude to be released, for the experience to be relished. In truth, harmony and stillness are an inherent part of our being. These innate qualities are simply waiting to be acknowledged for their wonderful presence, and the tool of mindfulness allows us to be aware of their existence.

The Past

In 2014 and 2017, the cover of Time Magazine highlighted the topic of mindfulness, showing just how prevalent this topic of discussion has become throughout mainstream America. But mindfulness has been around for much longer than our current timeframe. Did you know this topic is one element of the Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddhist tradition? Buddhism was founded in approximately 6th century B.C., and here we are, still talking about mindfulness. So what exactly is all this discussion about?

Here is a brief overview of the eight Buddhist practices of the Noble Eightfold Path:

  • Right View – being aware that our actions have consequences. This awareness allows us to possess the insight to karma, rebirth, and the nature of our reality.
  • Right Resolve – having the right intention, i.e. giving up worldly desires such as power and greed to adopt peace, kindness, and compassion towards our fellow human beings.
  • Right Speech – our words have consequences. Thoughtful communication helps to unite others, heal dissension, and move us closer to everyday compassionate living.
  • Right Conduct – living in a moral and ethical way. This step on the path also includes a whole approach to the environment, with right action being taken to safeguard the world for future generations.
  • Right Livelihood – job/purpose/service-to-others. Certain types of work were discouraged by the Buddha such as those dealing in weapons, and those harmful to animal or human life.
  • Right Effort – right attitude. Akin to the strings of a musical instrument, the amount of effort should not be too tense or too impatient, nor too slack or too laid back. In order to produce Right Effort, clear and honest thoughts should be welcomed.
  • Right Mindfulness – All forms of Buddhist meditation help to develop mindfulness; Buddhists train themselves to stay alert to the present experience. They observe their thoughts then release them without judgement.
  • Right Samadhi – a “single-pointedness of mind”; concentrating the mind on a single sensation or object to the point of absorption. All sense of “self” disappears with the subject and object becoming completely assimilated into each other.

Buddha’s Four Frames of Mindfulness

  1. Mindfulness of Body is being fully aware of your bodily functions, your muscles, and your breathing. The breath is an important factor to mindfulness of the body. During meditation, it is common practice to focus on your breathing. This is usually the first “exercise” for training the mind.
  2. Mindfulness of Feelings is the practice of recognizing and acknowledging your feelings without being attached to them. By not attaching to your feelings, you are acknowledging that the feeling or sensation is not a “thing” that you possess. There is just a feeling passing through you.
  3. Mindfulness of Mind is the process of observing mental states as they come and go. Awareness of the mind involves paying attention to yourself in a detached way. Is there calmness, or agitation? Is there focus, or distraction?  Do not analyze your thoughts or form opinions. Simply observe.
  4. Mindfulness of Dharma is being aware of your state of self-realization. Dharma encompasses a wide definition. It has been described as the force which upholds the nature of the universe as well as the ability to enter Nirvana and attain personal enlightenment. To the extent that it can be explained, dharma can be interpreted as both the essential nature of reality as well as the teachings and practices that enable the realization of that essential nature.

The Future

To envision the evolvement of mindfulness, I would like you to imagine a world where humanity is completely in tune with one another. Each person is telepathic which means that we can read each other’s minds and use this ability to create a positive outcome. Being telepathic is a wonderful way to communicate because we would, by default, be mindful all the time. We would not only be aware of ourselves, we would be aware of others as well:  their temperament, feelings, and most of all, their intentions.

The transparency would help to facilitate a world where darkness would not be able to hide because peoples’ true nature would be exposed. How can there be deceit if an individual’s motives are known before he or she has the chance to implement them? Imagine a humanity living in joy, harmony, and unity with one another because the ability to realize such a community will be supported by like-minded people interested in working together for the benefit of the whole.

If you think that telepathy is located in the distant future, then I will refer you to a study done by Yale Scientific in 2015. In this research, scientists were able to transmit words from the brain of one research participant in India to three other participants in France. This study marked the first time conscious thoughts were transmitted directly between individuals, offering foresight into the higher intelligence of the human race.

Closing Thoughts

In the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness is seen as the practice of being aware of the present moment in a non-judgmental manner. It is bringing one’s complete attention to the here and now by observing the experience without forming opinions about it. From my perspective, this is mindfulness in its purest form: simply being in the present, alert and aware, yet releasing all preconceptions and expectations.

In our current world, mindfulness is alive and well. The great quality about mindfulness is that it can be practiced by anyone, regardless of religious background or beliefs. We can all benefit by feeling appreciation and gratitude for the everyday gifts that life has to offer: relishing the warmth of the sun on a cold winter’s day, hearing the unexpected laughter of a child, or savoring the stillness during a yoga class.

There are endless opportunities to be mindful of the moment, mindful of yourself, and mindful of others. If everyone practiced the concepts of this technique, our planet would reflect more harmony and prosperity for all of humanity. In the future, there will be additional ways to practice the art of mindfulness, ones that are in concert with our higher-self and elevated states of reality.

 

Susan Kapatoes
C: 508-282-7877
E: susan@inspireyourjourney.com

 

The author, Susan Kapatoes MHA, is the founder of Inspire Your Journey, a health and wellness company. Services include a BEMER Rental Program, Wearable Health Technology, and Amare Global nutrition products. She lives in Massachusetts.  

There are two grocery stores within a short driving distance of where I live. The closest supermarket is less than one mile from my house, and the other is a few miles away. I consistently shop at the closest store as it is more convenient, venturing only to the other for specialty items when necessary. But on this particular day, I was sensing an inner pull to shop at the farther market. I didn’t understand the reasoning behind it, but I followed my gut and drove across town.

As I was perusing the food aisles, I suddenly remembered that this store had an activity billboard where local businesses are allowed to advertise their services. I decided to take a quick look at the board to see if there was anything of interest. My eyes scanned the brochures and business cards that were tacked upon the cork but nothing caught my attention.

It was then, as I was about to walk away, that I saw an advertisement for a meditation center that was located in an adjacent town. I was elated. I had been searching for a local venue that offered meditation classes but did not have success in finding one online. I made a mental note that I would visit this center within the next week.

As I was thinking about this coincidence, I knew why I was drawn to visiting this specific grocery store. My instinct was guiding me towards what I had been asking for all along: a community meditation center. I was lead to this information by my own inner compass which is innately intuitive and intelligent.

Each and every person has access to this type of internal wisdom, but what is the source of this unseen navigational system that has our best interests in mind and knows the most appropriate course of action?

What is Spirituality?

The topic of spirituality has steadily gained momentum over the years, but what does authentic spirituality represent and how does it impact our everyday lives? From my personal experiences and listening to other peoples’ perspectives on this matter, I believe that the core essence of spirituality involves the process of awakening to our spiritual nature and acknowledging that a higher power exists that is greater than ourselves.

This higher power has different names and labels according to one’s cultural background and beliefs. For myself, I call this force God, Creator, All That Is, or Divine Source. These are my go-to titles for an all-encompassing energy that is moving through our infinite universe and permeating our everyday lives.

Awakening to our inherent essence can be considered a universal human experience. Some people may have spiritual experiences that are transcendent in nature, but I believe that we all encompass a spirit that communicates to us through intuitive insights, synchronicities, and feelings. Our spirit is the energetic principle which gives life to our physical bodies, but also provides a direct connection to God or Infinite Source.

Within this dimension of physicality, any event that we experience by feeling becomes a reality for us. This is in contrast to simply observing an event as an outsider looking inward. When we get in touch with the essence of an event on a physical, emotional, and mental level, we enter that experience and understand it’s meaning on a deeper level. We are no longer on the perimeter, we are fully immersed into its presence.

A Transcendent Event

I became seriously interested in the topic of spirituality when I experienced an ‘awakening of consciousness’ during my senior year in college at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I explain this event in my book, A Spiritual Journey, but I will provide a recap here.

During my adolescent years, I had always been a seeker of knowledge, yearning to understand the mysteries of the universe. I was constantly asking questions, wondering about the nature of God and wanting to comprehend how I fit into this vast world that we call planet Earth. At the time, I believed in a higher power but did not tie myself to any one particular religion or faith.

In order to understand the context of the story, I will need to provide some additional background information. In 1987, when I was packing to leave for my freshman year of college, I was handed a book as an unexpected gift from a visiting friend of the family. As I gazed at this book that I was holding in my hands, my heart sank with disappointment, for it was a Bible. At the time, I thought that I would never open it. Truthfully, I had planned to leave it at home or give it away to someone who would appreciate its contents. But as I stood there looking at the cover, I suddenly felt compelled to keep it. I packed and repacked this Bible every year of college but did not read a single word. I did not know why I was doing this. It just felt right to have the Bible near me, even though I would not open it until four years later.

During my senior year at the university, I was living off campus in an apartment complex with three other roommates. On one particular night, I was writing an English paper but was having a hard time focusing, as I had a problem on my mind. I was trying to decipher the best way to handle a relationship issue I was having with my boyfriend at the time. As I pondered the situation, an image of the Bible suddenly appeared in my mind, and I had a strong inclination to retrieve the book. I intended to open to a random page and take a chance that the answer to my predicament would be located on that chosen page. I had heard of other people doing this experiment with some degree of success, but I did not have faith that it would work for me.

With some reluctance, I retrieved the Bible from my desk drawer. I looked at it for a moment and then propped it up on a wooden crate, before which I kneeled. I held the question in my mind and hesitantly opened to an arbitrary page. Astonishingly, my eyes fell upon words that described the solution to my dilemma exactly. I was amazed by this moment of fate, which seemed like a miracle.

But little did I know that there was more to experience, for while I was contemplating this occurrence, a brilliant flash of white light suddenly illuminated the room. I looked over my left shoulder since the light appeared to be originating from the upper-left-hand corner of the room, but I did not see anything unusual there. However, as soon as I turned back and faced the Bible, I was engulfed with waves upon waves of what I can only call unconditional love. I had no idea what was happening to me, but I felt completely embraced by a heavenly presence that was coming from all directions and infusing every fiber of my being.

At the same moment, in my mind’s eye, I saw numerous beams of light being directed toward my physical body. These beams looked like sun rays as their color was golden yellow. I instinctively knew that this cosmic light was the source of the divine love that I was experiencing. As the rays showered their magic, my very essence was imbued with sheer joy. I was stunned by this sudden display of affection, which left me speechless. Outwardly, my physical body remained unmoved, but inwardly I felt an expansion that was limitless and free.

While I was experiencing this otherworldly bliss, I felt the abrupt sensation of being pulled up and out of my physical body. The sensation was subtle but something I definitely felt. In an instant, I seemed to be dissolving into the universe and becoming one with it. I swiftly found myself in the middle of an endless sea of deep space, but I felt very calm as I gazed upon the outstretched vista. Enveloped by a profound stillness, this nighttime panorama was quiet and peaceful. I saw distant stars decorate the great expanse, and most astonishingly, I could feel the infinite force of Life itself: perpetual energy, extending and continuing in all directions.

Eventually, I could not contain the power that was moving through my body, and I began to sob. I was crying tears of elation, for I was awed by this entire experience which lasted no more than a few minutes, but changed my life forever. Surprisingly, throughout this event, I maintained consciousness of my material body and its surroundings. I was simultaneously aware of my college room with its minute characteristics, but I was also cognizant of this other dimensional realm with its celestial nature. It felt like I was in two places at once with my perception intact in both places.

Lessons Learned

There are many lessons that I took away from that blessed night in college, but the one element that has stayed with me throughout these years is the knowingness that we all originated from a Divine Source. Our spirit would like us to become comfortable with this idea, and accept that, at our core, we are energetic beings having a physical experience in this third-dimensional reality of existence.

The Takeaways:

  • We are divine. Each one of us has a direct connection to God, or Source, regardless of our religious beliefs and backgrounds. If we wish to experience a more harmonious and happy existence, it is our job to remember this connection so that we may choose our actions based on love, kindness, and cooperation with one another.
  • We have a spirit whose wisdom is accessible when we listen to its guidance. Our spirit speaks to us through feelings, inner cues, and synchronicities. Being aware of this divine language can help us to activate the higher dimensionality of ourselves.
  • Our spirit is self-luminous, compassionate, and blissful. We ALL have an expanded aspect of ourselves that is supporting the wholeness of our being, whether we realize it or not. Attuning ourselves to this divine knowledge is what I call Spiritual Intelligence. Implementing its wisdom into our life is what I call everyday spirituality.
  • Each and every person has been born onto this planet for a reason. Your life matters and you are meant to be here during this time and place within Earth’s history. The key to finding your purpose is to finding your passion, i.e. those activities that make you feel alive, imbuing your life with inspiration and enthusiasm.

Why is Spirituality Important?

Most people can agree that there are high levels of stress and anxiety in today’s world. Our lives seem to be moving at a warp speed and there are multiple factors that have contributed to the unfolding of this energetic phenomena. With the advent of TV, social media, and the constant broadcasting of news via the internet and radio, how do we stay in touch with our inner harmony when there is so much noise and chaos around us? This is where spirituality shines its light, offering tools of wisdom for those who wish to experience inner peace, love, and happiness on a more consistent basis.

In my memoir, A Spiritual Journey, I describe methods that you can use to stay aligned to your higher self and innermost core being. I relay these helpful techniques by sharing personal stories about my own spiritual experiences. The ultimate goal is to inspire the reader with hope so that you may navigate your life with greater ease and efficiency.

There are many tools which can soothe the stress and anxiety of everyday living, but the one tool I would like to mention today involves the concept of mindfulness. In my next blog, I will go into more detail about this subject, but here is a high-level overview for now.

The Mindfulness Revolution

In 2014 and 2017, the cover of Time Magazine highlighted the topic of mindfulness, showing just how prevalent this topic of discussion has become throughout mainstream America. But mindfulness has been around for much longer than our current timeframe. In fact, it is one element of the Noble Eightfold Path, a set of Buddhist practices leading to personal enlightenment and liberation from samsara, the cycle of rebirth. Buddhism was founded in approximately 6th century B.C., and here we are, still talking about mindfulness.

So what exactly is all this discussion about?

In the Buddhist tradition, right mindfulness is seen as the practice of becoming aware of the present moment in a non-judgmental manner. It is bringing one’s complete attention on the here and now by observing the experience without forming any opinions about it. From my perspective, this is mindfulness in its purest form: simply being in the present, alert and aware, yet releasing all preconceptions and expectations.

From a spiritual perspective, we are practicing right mindfulness when we are focusing on the qualities of our higher-self versus that of our lower-self. Our higher-self encompasses the values of love, compassion, and kindness while our lower-self embodies the more base emotions of hate, jealousy, and discouragement.

Being mindful is being aware that we are responsible for our actions. We can choose to act with good-heartedness to uplift others, or we can act with indifference in order to benefit our own gain. This responsibility begins with our state of mind.

Just as spirituality is a universal human experience, mindfulness can be practiced by anyone regardless of their faith, religious beliefs, or background.

Closing Thoughts

Spirituality and mindfulness are global experiences that allow us to reconnect to our true essence which is essentially our divinity. By linking to our spirit’s intelligence, we will naturally experience more harmony in our lives because we are opening doorways to our higher selves. The key to unlocking these higher doors of wisdom is to listen to the guidance of our spirit who speaks to us through feelings, hunches, and intuitive insights.

Once we acknowledge the inner cues, the next step is to act upon them. As we saw in the grocery store experience, I paid attention to my gut feeling and this awareness produced a positive outcome. I could have easily ignored the nudge, but instead, I respected the information and followed its advice.

When we are centered, we can hear the wisdom of our spirit through the noise and commotion of our daily lives. This is what it means to be fully aware in the present moment, and mindfulness is a tool that can help us remember our spiritual heritage and stay attuned to our divine nature.

 

Susan Kapatoes
C: 508-282-7877
E: susan@inspireyourjourney.com

 

The author, Susan Kapatoes MHA, is the founder of Inspire Your Journey, a health and wellness company. Services include a BEMER Rental Program, Wearable Health Technology, and Amare Global nutrition products. She lives in Massachusetts.