Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Giving Gifts That Nurture People & Our Planet

I’m a big believer in helping to nurture yourself. During gift-giving season, I also advocate giving those you love something that will make them feel good. What better way to show that you care about someone than to give a gift that brings joy/warmth/comfort or contributes to their good health! And what better gift to yourself and everyone to seek out products that are environmentally friendly?! I tried to find things that aren’t the typical gifts and found them!

So here’s a list of recommendations for gifts to give others, and yourself.

These are all things I love! I mean love! So please bookmark this post and come back to it when you have to give a gift later in the year too. Forward the link to others too! And please don’t forget yourself! The best time to treat yourself is often. ? The more loving your are to YOU, the more good things you attract. So keep these gifts in mind for the whole year, for when you need gifts for family, friends and for you, just because…

NOTE TO GUYS! Skin care products aren’t just for girls. Using them makes you feel good too! And if you hate shopping, use the following to just click and order. ?

Here we go with my recommended goodies:

BOOKS

I just have 3 books to recommend now. I’ll have a bunch more in my post with gifts for yourself, right after the new year begins.

The Extreme Art of Self-Care: by Cheryl Richardson: I’m a big advocate of being self-loving to develop good self-esteem and happiness. So I’m so delighted to recommend this book as a gift of love for anyone you care about, especially YOU! The book’s format is very user–friendly. The tips are broken down into bullet points, boxes and small sections so it’s easier to read and digest. Cheryl’s voice feels like a friend speaking to you. This book is filled with action that you can take to be kinder and more nurturing to yourself. It helps wake you up to what you may be doing that keeps you from making yourself a priority in the scheme of your life and gives concrete suggestions for taking radical action to improve your life by creating healthier habits to maintain a more self-nurturing standard of living. I’m delighted that next month I’ll have an interview with Cheryl Richardson as part of my Embracing SUCCESS interview series. Stay tuned!

The Way of the Buddha: I’m not a Buddhist but many folks say I sound like one. The principles are so spiritual that they go along with my basic philosophy of living a spiritual life. This GORGEOUS book, with Illustrations from the Rubin Museum of Art, is a wonderful gift for anyone who’s spiritual and is at least open to Buddhist principles. The book’s illustrations with traditional Buddhist artwork make it a joy to read the inspirational words. It’s a small and inexpensive gift for a spiritual person.

The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide: by Kate Hanley. This easy to read, fun book is an especially good gift for a girlfriend! It offers natural solutions to 77 stressful situations, from bad hair days to broken heats, constipation to computer crashes, with remedies are drawn from yoga, meditation, acupressure, and more that are easy to fit into a busy day—bite-sized serenity for busy women in need of some serious chill. The author, known as “Ms. Mindbody,” gives practical and humorous step-by-step instructions for taking charge of your well-being. Like me, Kate writes from personal experience, giving tips that worked for her.

The Art of Relaxation—A Spa for Your Mind: Dr. Carole Lieberman is a psychiatrist with a multi-dimensional career in many areas of media. She is the creator of America’s first in-flight entertainment Relaxation Channel (audio and video) narrated by a psychiatrist. She recorded this wonderful CD to bring her soothing voice and message to anyone who needs a good dose of relaxation without leaving home. Her gentle voice will be your guide to a sense of balance and peacefulness.

FOR CHOCOLATE LOVERS

I LOVE chocolate! So I must include some of my favorite chocolate treats that nurture. I know that all chocolate can feel nurturing, but it also has lots of calories. I was thrilled to learn that dark chocolate in particular is recommended as something to have every day, in moderation, because it’s a terrific anti-oxidant. Sure beats taking supplement! Chocolate is a good mood booster too. I found 4 chocolate products that I LOVE—2 edible and 2 with no calories but are yummy.

IgnaFire Chocolates: I had to try these unprocessed dark chocolates made from whole, stone-ground cacao beans and lightly sweetened with Mexican sugar. They don’t remove or add cacao butter and avoid extensive heating and industrial processing, keeping all the healthful flavanols and antioxidants that occur naturally in the bean and its natural flavor. This might be the healthiest chocolate you can eat! They’re available in 4 rich flavors—cacao, cinnamon, vanilla, and moka (I can’t decide on my favorite!)—and also in ground powder for making hot chocolate. The morsels feel bit grainy on the tongue, which I actually like. I let one melt as I resist chewing too much. Just a few satisfies my chocolate cravings. These hearty little chocolates make a great gift for men, since they’re more gritty and rich! And they’re great to bring when you’re invited for dinner in their sweet natural packaging. The papers accompanying the chocolates can be washed down the sink or composted!

Intentional Chocolate™: I was curious to read about this chocolate that’s embedded with good intentions by Tibetan monks—infused into the chocolate from advanced meditators—some who’ve trained with the Dalai Lama—and are transferred to those who eat it. Each product includes this intention: “Whoever consumes this chocolate will manifest optimal health and functioning at physical, emotional and mental levels, and in particular will enjoy an increased sense of energy, vigor and well-being for the benefit of all beings.” I had to try some, since I love chocolate AND being healthy! I’ve been enjoying the chocolate for 5 days, both dark and milk versions. It’s delicious! Oddly, when I finish a portion, I feel very satisfied. Usually I can usually nibble indefinitely and still want more.And while this has been a stressful week, I feel more energetic and relaxed than usual. When I went for acupuncture last night, my doc saw improvement. Coincidence? My imagination? Whatever it is, I feel healthier so I shall continue to eat it.

Peruvian Chocolate Sugar Scrub: Have you ever dreamed about being immersed in chocolate? This scrub gives you chocolate from neck to toe. It smells yummy and leaves my skin feeling exceptionally soft, and delicious (pun intended!). Founded by Lela Barker after she saw research indicating that some cosmetic preservatives could cause breast tumors, Bella Luccè uses exotic ingredients that are environmentally friendly in all their products—a luxurious line of healthy luxuries! While I love eating chocolate, using their chocolate scrub on my body was a calorie free treat! Peruvian Chocolate Sugar Scrub is a loving gift for your skin and as a gift to anyone you want to make smile. ?

Mint chocolate chip lip balm: For tasty, chocolaty lips, this balm is in one of my favorite flavors for ice cream, but unlike my sweet, fattening treat, this all natural lip balm comes in a rich base of moisture-holding, protective oils. A great stocking stuffer and a keeper to bring with you wherever you go to treat your lips to scrumptious protection.

BODY CARE

Nurturing your body is a tremendous gift of love to yourself. Giving gifts that help others do this shows you care. Here are some gifts I found that make me feel more loving. I encourage you to try them.

Luxur-Eco: This company makes products that are the ultimate of luxury. Their Eco-friendly, earth sustaining, and 100% biodegradable home and fashion items including bamboo towels, blankets, bathrobes, slippers, spa wraps and sheets, takes soft to the next level. When I picked up a towel it felt like silk. Yet it’s very absorbent! I’m bookmarking this site to get the towels for baby gifts as the softness would make any mom delighted to use it on their little one! The bamboo robe is soft as cashmere and the bamboo slippers light and comfy. The bamboo makes the products much more absorbent than cotton and the antibacterial qualities in these products are an added bonus. I don’t know how bamboo can make fabric so soft, but WOW! These products feel A LOT more expensive than they are!

YogaToes: I’m a foot person. Getting reflexology helps my whole body feel healthier so I know the importance of pampering your feet. I was intrigued by YogaToes, which stretches the toes and helps the feet feel more flexible and stronger. I enjoy putting them on each day when I’m writing and let them exercise my feet while I sit! Their Aloe Breeze foot mist is refreshing and helps the YogaToes slide on. I walk and run a lot and the YogaToes help my feet feel more aligned. I also enjoy putting on their Grapefruit Ginger Moisturizing Foot Cream before I go to sleep. It smells and feels yummy. The company has lots of other gifts to pamper yours and your loved ones’ feet. Gotta keep them healthy and fit in order for them to serve you best! ?

Softress skin care: What could be better than skin care products created by a mother’s love and desire to nurture her child?!? Nina Birnbaum did just that when she developed products to manage her daughter’s eczema and condition her dry, curly hair–fragrance-free, chemical-free body oils for dry, sensitive skin. My skin gets dry in winter since I continue to run and power walk. The first time I tried the SoftHands, which has macadamia oil to soothe and heal very dry hands and cuticles, it felt like I was applying liquid silk. My hands felt so soft and smooth. I was delighted that they didn’t feel greasy either. I also tried E-Blend, great for extremely dry skin, especially on areas where running in the cold of winter dries my skin the most, like my legs. Nina suggested putting a drop on my lips at bedtime and they were noticeably softer in the morning. Softress has other products to choose from as gifts for someone you care about—from babies to adults—or a nurturing gift of love to yourself. Use the promotional code DAYLLE, for a 15% discount.

Color Therapy Masks: I love facial masks but don’t use them often because they can be messy to leave on. Color Therapy Masks are literally like a mask you peel the back off of and stick onto your face. It has all sorts of skin nutrients that get absorbed into the skin. No drips and you don’t wash it off, which makes it super easy to use! The results? Very soft skin! There are three colors—Rejuvenating, Revitalizing and Relaxing. I put one on and allow myself to relax so the scientific ingredients and botanical extracts can do their job at softening and rejuvenating my skin. It’s a great nurturing gift for yourself or to give a little TLC to your friends. Become Beauty also has an assortment of other nurturing products.

Herban Lifestyle body balm: This company lovingly makes all natural, reasonably priced skin care products that soothe and nourish. All products contain pure oils, essential oils and herbs, the majority of which are either certified organic, pesticide-free/chemical-free and/or ethically wildcrafted. I mentioned the lip balm earlier and this body balm is scented and healing too. It’s in a small tin that you can carry with you for winter emergencies! All packaging is recyclable.

YUMMIES

I LOVE getting gifts you can eat or drink. So practical! So I Included these favorites in case you agree with me and want to give them as well as receive.

[me] & goji: I love eating healthy cereals and was thrilled to discover this company! This is the first custom cereal and granola company, created for people with specific tastes and nutritional needs. Their sites offers over 40 natural and organic ingredients to choose from that include the healthiest superfoods on earth and you can create and name a mix for yourself, to give as a gift, or purchase a gift certificate so those you care about can create their own. I got my own. It was so much fun to go through the different choices and choose the varieties of grains, fruits and nuts. When my canister of custom made cereal arrived, I confess that I opened it and began munching right away. What a fabulous healthy treat and unusual gift for people who like to eat healthy!

800-4-COFFEE: The company says, “Why send flowers when you can send coffee?” I love coffee and these baskets are a practical gift for the holidays, to say thank you and more. These coffee and tea baskets, with other goodies that go well with these beverages, are perfect for any holiday or special occasion. Each one can be personalized with an added gift based on the recipients hobbies for that extra personal touch. The also have Healthy and Organic baskets and there’s an option to add a music CD to it. Use coupon code: DAYLLE for a 10% discount.

Soyfee: This is the first 100% Organic Soybean Coffee Alternative. I tried it and it’s an interesting drink. It had a pungent smell when I opened the bag but it was actually an enjoyable drink. I had the original roast, though it comes in flavors too, and I added some cinnamon to it, which I liked. It looks like coffee and while it tastes different, it did have a coffee feel when I drank it. If you need a healthy substitute for coffee, this might be the gift you need!

MISCELLANEOUS GOODIES
GreenPan: I worry about all the reports about Teflon pans being unhealthy to cook in. That’s why I was so delighted to get a GreenPan frying pan. It’s the first eco-friendly line of non-stick cookware made with Thermolon, a coating that’s completely PTFE-free and PFOA-free in manufacturing. I didn’t need to use cooking spray or oil and my food didn’t stick! It’s endorsed by celebrity chef Todd English and now me! It’s a great, long-lasting gift. Keep it in mind for a wedding or anniversary gift too!


5-Pack Car Care Kit: by Green Earth Technologies has the supplies to get your vehicle clean such as the G-Wash Car Wash, the G-Glass Glass Cleaner, the G-Wheel Brake Dust Removing Cleaner, the G-Tire Ultimate Tire Shine and the G-Wheel Brake Dust Shield. The appearance products are all safe to use by children, so parents can use the products with their kids and teach them the importance of being environmentally conscious. Green clean rocks!

Bejeweled 2: I love playing games. That’s why I’ve always avoided putting any into my computer. When I read about Bejeweled 2, it piqued my interest, since it was recommended for relaxation, which I can never get enough of. So I tried it and I must say, it has truly made a big difference for me. Whenever I’m feeling on edge or rushed, I allow myself 15 minutes of playing. It usually settles me down. It also helps me to be more focused. If you’re gonna get a game, this is a good one!

Good News Network: This is a clearinghouse for the gathering and dissemination of positive news stories from around the globe. They believe that good news isn’t in short supply; the advertising of it is. It may not be a material gift but getting good news each day will put a smile on the face of you and your loved ones. You can send a year of good news with a gift certificate for this positive service that sends good news to your computer every morning.

KIDS’ BOOKS

Archibald’s Swiss Cheese Mountain: by Sylvia Lieberman (Author), Jeremy Wendell (Illustrator) I LOVE this award-winning book! It’s bright and cheery for ages 4-8. It made ME smile looking through it. The book tells and illustrates the story of a little mouse with a big heart who helps children reach their big dreams. Archibald will delight any child who receives this book. It sure delighted me! Endorsed by a list of notable people, it teaches some valuable lessons about life in a very sweet way. A portion of sales goes to children’s charities.

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies*: by Laurie Rosenwald. This is a really cute, very different kind of book for teenage girls who don’t like to conform. It’s illustrated with lots of fun pictures and thought provoking messages. It’s written by Laurie Rosenwald, an award winning designer who teaches a workshop called, “How to Make Mistakes on Purpose.” Her first picture book, And To Name But Just a Few: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, was named a Scholastic Parent & Child Best Book of 2007.

Hope you found my gift guide helpful! On Saturday I’ll post websites that sell products with proceeds going to charities or that have ways to make a difference in the world in someone’s name.

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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I’m an Animal!

I was working out today with my trainer. As I pushed myself to new heights with free weights, he told me I’m an animal. I acted hurt and told him it’s not nice to call a girl an animal. But I knew he meant it as a compliment, even while I teased him. This was a far cry from the exercise I did when I was a DoorMat.

Part of what kept me stuck in DoorMatville was feeling very fat. While I wasn’t the big fat pig I saw myself as, I did have extra flab and the cellulite most women have. Back then, I thought I was the only one. I had a boyfriend who once let me lift free weights with him and I loved it. I finally got up the nerve to join a gym, excited to try working with free weights again. But when I arrived, I was directed to a room with some simple machines and women chatting as they acted like they were working out. The people who worked there told me that was where I belonged. And the DoorMat in me accepted it.

I hated using the machines designated for the chicks while the guys got to use the free weights!

One day I got brave and went into the free weight room. My desire to work out was too strong to ignore. I wandered around the room, trying to figure out what to do. I had so little experience with weights. No one offered help. I asked one of the guys who worked there for guidance but he told me to go back to the girls room. The guys watched me with smirks as I tried to figure out which weight was right for me. It got too uncomfortable and I gave up. I never went back to a gym again.

Over the years the memories remained strong. I avoided gyms. That seemed the best way to deal with my frustrations—until my desire to work out got strong again.

This time I felt more in control of myself. No more DoorMat acceptance of my “place” in the gym! I decided I needed to work with a trainer to guide me. I researched and found one who could do slow motion weight training with me. It taught me form and made me strong fast. After a year of that, I joined a local gym and got a trainer who continues to push me. Since I began, I’ve been determined to become as good as I can be.

So I push myself hard, practicing having excellent form and enjoying every minute.

Now I feel completely at home in the gym! My training has paid off. The muscily guys in the free weight room accept me. Sometimes they encourage me when I’m using some heavier weights. Even when I’m there without my trainer, I belong now! Today when my trainer called me an animal, I knew I’d come far. He reassured me that it meant he was impressed with what I do.

No more DoorMat who cowers on the side and doesn’t belong in the free weight room! I’m an animal who’s earned her place there and it feels great! Overcoming a fear of doing something or tackling something you’ve been told you can’t do is a great way to improve your self-esteem. Next time someone says “You can’t do…”, give them my un-DoorMat response—“Why not?” And then I make the effort to do it. I never thought I’d like being called an animal but now that I own myself, I can feel good about it. You can do things you thought you couldn’t do too once you let go of old messages and decide to do it!

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Law of Attraction in Action: Interview with Suki Duggan, Owner, Donsuki Townhouse Salon


This is the 18th post in my Law of Attraction in Action series. It’s my first interview with someone who exemplifies its principles, combined with my Embracing SUCCESS series. After interviewing Suki Duggan, I knew she belonged here. After starting off with nothing but her great spirit and determined beliefs, Suki was able to put out her intention to succeed, and she didn’t stop until she did. Even today, she keeps going, showing the Universe what she wants. It returns to her multiplied. Suki is a fantastic example of the Law of Attraction in action!

Suki owns Donsuki Townhouse Salon, with 5-stories that houses top industry stylists, estheticians, nail artists and makeup artists under one roof in Manhattan. Her business keeps booming, due to her talent, tenacity, and good business principles. Suki came to NY from Korea in the 70’s, knowing minimal English, to study violin at the prestigious Julliard School of Music. When she realized her true passion, she dropped out of Julliard to begin her hair career. Her salon is now a multi-million dollar empire. Suki brings her upbeat spirit to her business and attracts the SUCCESS she is determined to have.

What made you decide to come to NYC? I play the violin and wanted to go to Julliard. That was my goal. I had some basic English grammar and could read enough. Having a conversation was more difficult. But it was my dream! I was 17 and got into Julliard. I was more excited than scared.

How did you switch from the violin to hair? During summer vacation, I wanted to make some money. One day I looked up to the second floor of a building on 57th Street. There were a lot of people, hustling and bustling around, with blow dryers and doing many things in a salon. I went in and asked for a job. The boss was a Frenchman. He was impressed with me, didn’t ask if I had experience and hired me to be his assistant. I’d never even seen a blow dryer! I watched very carefully. About two hours later he gave me a client to blow dry. I told him I didn’t know how. He said, “Didn’t you watch me for two hours?” So I started doing it. That was the beginning of my career.

How did you move up? I learned by doing it. My persistence helped me and I set goals—in three months was going to be the best assistant! My boss told me to find people to practice cutting hair on. I stopped people on the street, and asked if they’d like to have a free haircut. They came after work to the salon. I cut their hair and showed my boss. He was surprised that I’d done so well and loved every haircut! By the end of the summer when my vacation was over, he gave me my own chair and I began to make money!

Was there a turning point? A New York Times journalist came to have her hair cut. She wrote an article about it. Then I had a long line of people. I was very innocent then and didn’t know why all these people were coming. I started making so much money I never went back to school. I decided that if I’m going to be a hairdresser, I’m going to do it all the way.

How did you get your first salon? I worked very hard for a few years in the salon. Then I met Donald, my partner, and we opened a salon. We hired 14 people. It was a very nice business. But in the late eighties/early nineties, there was a very big thing with AIDS. I had eleven people die from it and was left with just two hairdressers. My rent was $20,000 a month. A lot of people say I’m always happy because I’m always smiling. But I did a lot of crying. There was a rumor going around—“Suki is going to close.” I was upset with this! I said to myself, “Suki doesn’t have failure in her vocabulary!” I had to make it.

How did you stay strong? Since everybody talked about me, no one would come to work for me. Meanwhile, there was $20,000 in rent to pay. I realized that rent was the same if I worked Saturday and Sunday too. So I gave 50% off if they came on Sunday and cut from 9AM to 8PM. I got up at 6AM and gave out fliers. Sometimes it was very cold. People asked how I could do it and called me a cheap person. I didn’t feel shame. You know what? You have to make it happen! So I continued to do it. You have to see positive things and deliver. As I got more clients, more hairdressers came in. My husband supported me mentally and spiritually, 100%. And we made it happen! Then we bought the building we’re in now. And here I am.

What kept you going? When I was a little girl I had no parents. So I had to always do things by myself. I realized young that I had two choices—either you go downhill, or you only know about going up. That’s all I had. It’s very, very hard to go up but easy to go down. As a girl I learned to try my best. When people said, “Suki is going to fail,” I decided to get sweet revenge. I thought, ”I’ll show them what I can do.” This is how I am.

How does spirituality help you? I always tell my daughter that if you try to go fifty inches, God will give match it with fifty more. If you try for eight hours, God will give eight hours more. This is my belief! If you don’t try and think that God will just give it to you, it won’t happen. You have to take your control. You may wait, thinking that tomorrow is another day and will be good. But I keep going NOW!

Do you think you’re lucky? People tell me I’m so lucky to have a building. Lucky? Yes, because God gave me good health so I could work. That is lucky. Let me tell you. Lucky doesn’t come when you sit down and watch TV or take vacations and days off. That doesn’t bring luck. I work hard. Many people don’t like it when you’re happy. I don’t understand that but it’s true. They ask, “Why are you happy and smiling all the time?” I say, “Excuse me? Life is beautiful. Why not smile. You’re alive. Go to hospitals and see how many people are dying. Then you’ll realize how lucky you are.” Is there anyone who has no problems? No. But it depends on what you make of it.

What do people need to understand about being nice to others? Kindness and stupid are very mixed up by many people. If you’re kind, people ask what’s wrong with you. “Why is she nice to me?” Hello! Why do you hav
e to be tough to be a strong woman? Don’t misunderstand kindness.

What does courage mean to you? Strength. I always have strength and am honest. When I pray every night, I thank God for everything up until now and ask for the strength to be a very courageous person. If I don’t have strength, then I’m nobody. So that’s what I always ask God for. Nothing else. I don’t ask for money or other material things. I just want the strength to do it myself. I also get courage from thinking positive. When my daughter says “in case…., if this doesn’t work” I tell her not to say “in case.” Say, “I’m going to do it! That’s the end of the story!” I tell her to say three times—“I can do it! I will do it!”

What does SUCCESS mean to you? It’s funny, because a lot of people think I’m successful. I don’t feel it about my business. My SUCCESS is being happy—having a wonderful husband and three children. That makes everything successful. My SUCCESS is being able to have the freedom to do what I want to do. I can take time off for my family. If I didn’t have the success with the business, I couldn’t do that.

How do you handle fear? I look in the mirror and ask, “Why should I feel fear?” Then I look myself in the eye and say, “God is with me, let’s go!” I do this whenever I feel a little down. I say, “God is with me, why should I feel fear?” Three times. I scream it.

What’s your best advice for achieving a goal? Be patient and don’t ever be negative about it. Don’t think about “If I don’t make it…” If you do that, you’ve already lost. Always be positive. You can’t think—EVER—that you can’t do it. Be positive, be patient, and keep going. It may not come tomorrow but it will one day. When I opened the salon in ’89, I said that in the next decade I’d have success. It didn’t happen in ’91 when 11 people died, or in ’92. But I had the strength to know that it would come. So I kept going. You cannot stop. If you do, that’s it. You have to keep going!

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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Contributing to a Green Christmas


With so much holiday gift giving going on, it’s important to think green. I’m delighted to have Christine Kirk, director of the Outdoor Education Center, as my guest to give suggestions for choosing kids’ gifts that are environmentally friendly. This week I’ll post suggestions for gifts that nurture and many of them are green. Being conscious of buying gren is a gift to YOU, your family and your future.

I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas
By Christine Kirk

How do you pick eco-friendly toys? If want to buy your kids “green” holiday presents, you have a variety of options:

1. Locally Made: Choose toys made with natural, recycled or easily recyclable materials. Look for leather, wood, organic cotton, metal or fabric. Avoid plastic, which is a non biodegradable petroleum-based product. Buy locally-made if possible. The farther toys must travel to reach stores, the larger their carbon footprints.

2. Long Lasting: Toys that last a long time and are even passed down to younger kids are inherently green. Select toys made with quality materials that are designed to stand the test of time.

3. Recyclable: Unless their components can be recycled, all toys will eventually find their way to the landfill. Those that can be disassembled and then recycled are considered green.
A few of my favorites meet these eco-friendly criteria. They are US-made from natural materials, are sturdy, and they either teach recycling or parts of them can be recycled. They also are educational while providing for fun memories.

Some more specific suggestions are:
Puzzles: SunsOut Puzzles offers a huge variety of puzzles – many with environment themes. Shop online at. They even use recycled packaging!

Balance Boards: I recommend those from Indo Boards or Back to Basics Toys. If you have a handyperson in the family, this is an easy toy to make. It includes a sturdy wooden or plastic cylinder and a wooden skateboard-sized board with non-skid strips affixed. Playing with this toy is great exercise and improves balance and muscle control.

Paper Making: Recycle scrap paper. Any paper without a glossy finish can be torn up and pulped to make new, handmade paper. You can make your own with simple materials or purchase ready-made kits at larger craft supply stores or online. The best-known kits are by Arnold Grummer.

Kids’ Gardening Kit: A pair of kid-sized gloves, a small trowel, a watering wand, and several packets of plant seeds all placed in a 5-gallon bucket make a great kit. The gift keeps on giving when you help your child to prepare and plant a garden with native plants that will make flowers and seeds wildlife needs. You will be amazed at the variety of birds and butterflies that will find your native garden – whether it is large or small. Some native plants can even be cultivated in pots if you are short on space. Ask your local garden supply store for advice on this.

Bat and Bird House Kits: These are fun for both boys and girls. You can find lots of ideas and plan sets for bird and bat houses on the Internet. Bat Conservation International has pre-made houses and kits for sale online, as well as downloadable plan sets for people with woodshops in their garages. Providing shelter for birds and bats helps them to overcome habitat loss, and it allows you to view them from your back porch. Bats are especially good for controlling insect populations – each night that bats are active they can eat their own weight in insects.

Clay: Clay is perhaps the most natural gift you can give. It comes straight from the earth, and has been used for millennia by the most amateur and the most professional artists. Sculpting kits are available from any art supply store, though a ball of clay all by itself can inspire imagination from any young person.

There are many books that can help instill a “green” ethic. Books are nearly endlessly reusable; they can be passed down through generations. Reading is also a great skill to encourage in your kids by giving books that are fun and interesting. Here are a few of my favorites.

Some kids are innately drawn to machines. Encouraging this interest with innovative holiday gifts can bring out the Thomas Edison in them. Innovation in solar and other non-fossil fuel energy is poised to be the next big wave of technological breakthrough, and kids who understand how energy works will have a comparable competitive edge to those who got to play with computers in the 1970s.

Alternative Energy Kits: Solar car models from Silicon Solar, Inc are designed for a range of ages. They add fun to learning about solar energy by creating opportunities for solar powered races. Alternative energy exploration kits from Sundance Solar allow kids to build an alternative energy house model and to discover the physical properties of solar energy with a complete “Physics Solar Workshop Kit.” These kits are for kids who like things with lots of little pieces. Sundance Solar also makes compact solar chargers for iPods, mobile phones, digital camera, and other rechargeable devices as well as other solar kits and solar-powered toys.

Balsa Wood Airplane Kits: Perhaps one of the simplest ways to discover stored, potential, and kinetic energy are with balsa wood airplane kits. These kits range from very simple stocking stuffers to more complicated kits that introduce concepts of aerodynamics. Kits from Turner Toys and Guillow are available at local hobby shops, such as the Toy Train Shop in Anaheim, Hobby Central in Dana Point, and Hobby People/Hobby Shack in Fountain Valley, Lake Forest, and Orange. Note: balsa wood comes from trees that grow quickly and that are sustainably harvestable.

Have a happy green holiday season!
———————-
Christine Kirk is director of the Outdoor Education Center. Her passion for nature and helping people understand the value of preserving Southern California’s natural resources and cultural heritage, combined with proven leadership skills, guides her to develop educational and recreational programs that provide local local youths an outdoor adventure close to home. She’s helped create programming for each of the Outdoor Education Center’s three themed camps – Astronomy Camp, Ranch
Camp and Mining Camp.

Stay tuned for my gift suggestions this week!

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