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A Christmas Gift

I read an interesting article this week about an unexpected positive effect of Trump’s victory in the United States. Although in many ways, I struggled to think that there was anything at all truly positive to report, I read with growing interest the article that discussed the record growth of charitable donations in the United States since our disturbing Election Day results.

On one level, I wasn’t overly surprised, as my own reaction after several days of reflection was a charitable donation to the education organization that gave me my first prolonged experience abroad. Why shouldn’t people who value similar things that I do (equality, support systems, education), react in a similar way to me?

Then I started thinking about what more I could do, particularly with the holiday season coming. Then I came up with this idea….

I have been thinking over the past months and working in the evenings over past weeks to develop some handmade product prototypes and ideas that I will introduce on Etsy in the near future. I won’t go into details now about my entire vision and dream, but let it suffice to say that I would like to….

… combine my hobbies and creative skills to design handmade products

… use my capital to fund it

… create work/jobs for people who need it & let them run it

… encourage re-use and/or organic, sustainable materials

So, as I read about the charitable giving, and thinking about my own product idea, I decided to launch my first product prototype in a contest.

My first product is an aromotherapy beanbag. Why a beanbag? Well, a few years ago, I led a team through a tough reorganization. During that time, one of my good friends gave me a set of beanbags that were very helpful to me during that time: to squeeze, to twist, and, maybe once or twice, to throw against the wall. The beanbags came to be a symbol both of stress-relief as well as strength. Only after about one year of constant wear did one of my beanbags fail and start leaking rice. It was pretty impressive really, when I think about what I put the poor thing through.

So, once I had the idea of making a beanbag, I thought about how I would design it, in a way that is both durable, visually appealing, and has meaning, while incorporating my and Nspir’s values.

One side of my beanbag is made with re-used denim, from an old pair of jeans. The other side is a new premium plaid flannel made by a family owned company in California. The material selection has both real and metaphorical meaning: real (soft and cozy, yet strong) and metaphorical (comfort, relaxation, and being one’s authentic self). The beanbags are filled with a mixture of organic rice and either organic lavender (for relaxation) or organic coffee beans or cloves (for stimulation and energy). For those who prefer or require it, they are also available without scent. Today I have a few prototypes produced by me, but sometime in the next year, I am hoping to set up a partnership with a small family business or non-profit organization to make and distribute them.

So, here is my Christmas gift contest for my readers:

1) Make a charitable donation (of any monetary amount, time, or gifts) to any organization that is meaningful to you. If you don’t know of one, I have posted some of my favorites here

2) PM, email, or reply to this post, only with the name of the organization you have chosen (and feel free to share why, maybe you will open my or my other readers’ eyes to a worthy cause)

3) Do this by December 20th. On December 20th, I will put the names of all the people who contributed together, and have my daughter draw a name.

4) I will contact the winner to ask for a shipping address, and I’ll notify at least the general location of the winner (name if the winner does not want to be anonymous) in my blog, as well as the organizations we support together.

5) The winner will be shipped one of my first prototypes of the Nspiration beanbags, no matter where you are in the world.

So, please help me to share the spirit of giving this Christmas, and I hope in return, at least the winner will enjoy my beanbags.

And if you are intrigued by the beanbag idea, watch here over the next year to see more.

Some of my favorite giving ideas:

Local Christmas Initiatives

Many stores and churches throughout the US and Sweden (and likely the rest of the world) have opportunities to shop for families that cannot provide Christmas for their families. I love these opportunities to share with others, and always have Molly shop for another child at least once each Christmas.

Make a Kid Smile:

Started by one of my favorite professors and people to help kids in Nepal to increase education.

Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Languages:,I320002029

Select in the drop down menu – Honors program in foreign languages

This was my first prolonged trip abroad, which really opened by my eyes to the world, my own country, and our role in a global society.

Kokomo Urban Outreach

An organization that does a lot to help the small town where I am from.

Rädda Barn

Swedish organization that supports children worldwide, especially the Syrian refugee children.

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