About Charity

I enjoy all things beautiful, natural, whole and healthy. As a Quaker minister, mother of 3, and having been married 15 years, I know that life rarely reflects those virtues. (I experience my share of the ugly, plastic, broken and sick!) Still, I believe that love is the highest value, and strive in all that I do to love God and the people in my life to the fullest of my ability!

Doula Certification Approved!

I am so excited to share with you that my certification as a Birth Doula through DONA International has been approved!

Timelines vary, but for me this process took almost two years. I attended a training in January of 2016 and checked off my childbirth class as well as the breastfeeding class. I also served the first client whose labor would count toward my certification. Over the following months I read seven books and supported five more births. Finally, this past fall I felt ready to compile my certification packet and send it in.

This has been an amazing and beautiful addition to my life. In total I have served seven laboring women, and have another scheduled for March. I have experienced labor in three different hospitals with Midwives, OBs, and Family Physicians attending. I’ve seen mothers dig deep to find strength and endurance they couldn’t imagine was there and I have witnessed women making brave choices to ensure their best birth possible.

Empowering women to make their own decisions and to be their own advocates is the reason why I entered this line of work, and I am proud to be a part of supporting these heroes as they take on the challenge of bringing life into the world!

ReFreshing!

Charity Sandstrom CD(DONA)

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New Year, New Adventures (aka I published a book!)

I am so excited about the release of my new book, Quaker Queries for All Seasons!


In the book you will find 60 spiritual questions to guide us through a new year of seeking to grow in our Christ-centered faith. It is available in both paperback as well as Kindle ebook.

If you’d like to process these queries with others in community, come join our discussion group on Facebook: Query Discussion Group-Quaker Queries for All Seasons

I hope to see you there!

 

New Adventures in a New Year,
ReFreshing!

https://www.amazon.com/author/charitysandstrom

 

 

5 Ways to Not be a Jerk this Christmas

Holidays are stressful! Sometimes it is all we can do to hold ourselves together and maintain our status as civilized humans. Everything is pressure-filled, schedules are packed, people are living on caffeine and sugar. It all just leads to a gigantic case of the Christmas Crankies!

Photo by linder6580

Here are some ways you can resist the temptation to throw a public tantrum and maybe, just maybe, help someone else have a merrier Christmas season as well.

1. Let that person with three things go before you in the supermarket line. We’ve all been there. Last minute dash to the store before a Christmas party, or that dinner you thought you had all of the ingredients for. You pick up your items only to find all the open lanes packed and no speedy check out lanes open. Wouldn’t you want someone to kindly allow you and your tiny purchase to go first? Thinking with compassion and empathy lets us feel good about ourselves and it really does help someone else!

2. Let someone in while driving through traffic. I get aggravated when I drive and all the people are weaving in and out of the lanes, going slow in the fast lane, and just plain being rude. Here’s how I feel better in those situations. I find a way to add some politeness and niceness to the atmosphere. One way you can do that is by letting someone in. I don’t care if they should have merged 5 miles back, here they are in need and you have the power to help. Let them in. You will feel virtuous, and maybe they will pass on the kindness to others. If everyone were to just do one small kindness while driving the roads would be a safer place.

Photo by rachelg

3. Hold doors open for people with too many burdens. ‘Tis the season for over-shopping. And with that comes overconfidence in our ability to carry 14 parcels, packages, and shopping bags! When you are walking through a door, stop and take a look around. Is there someone who you could hold the door for? Literally 30 seconds of your time invested in your fellow humans can make the world a brighter place.

4. Park at the back of the parking lot. I know you like to park up front. I know it is tempting to circle until you find the perfect space. If you are like me, though, after about three trips up and down the aisles I am fed up and cranky! Skip the aggravation, burn off a bite of sugar cookie and park at the back of the lot. If you have mobility issues, you get a pass, but those with averagely abled legs can walk for 3 minutes and cut down on the up front parking congestion.

5. Tip Generously! Sometimes I get one of those waiters. You know the ones who don’t come to your table, refill your drinks, get the order wrong and otherwise just aren’t putting the “serve” in service. Well, during the holidays we need to show a little extra grace. I don’t know about you, but wait staff is not my dream job. It probably isn’t their dream job either. Maybe they are working to make ends meet and this is their second job. Maybe they are tired and worn out from working 60 hours a week just to make enough for rent and daycare. Maybe they just had one of those customers. The demanding, rude, “leave a snarky note on the back of the ticket instead of a real tip” kind of customers. From Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day how about we make a pact to tip generously whether they deserve it or not. We get to feel good about ourselves and they get to experience grace.

Doing something nice for others can help us in our cranky moments to find a light in the darkness by shining a little light ourselves.

Now That’s ReFreshing!

Have the Christmas You Have

For all my lovely friends who struggle at Christmas time, I want to offer this phrase:
Have the Christmas You Have.

Christmas is a time of joy and laughter and tradition. It’s also a time of sadness, depression, loneliness, frustration, conflict, guilt, comparison…and every other possible emotion or experience.

Just as every day is different for every person, every holiday season is experienced differently. Some are full of met expectations, some actually exceeding our wildest dreams, others seem as though their events were scheduled by the committee over at Murphy’s Law application center–where everything that can go wrong will go wrong. And sometimes there isn’t a whole lot we can do to move ourselves from the last category up the list.

In my own circles this holiday season are those struggling with anxiety and depression, some grieving the loss of loved ones, some worried about their finances, some mourning the loss of dreams they had of Christmases celebrated with a house full of family, and still others who dread interacting with their relatives in gatherings they’d rather skip.

When you find yourself in one of those places and people wish you Merry Christmas, it can take all your reserved strength to respond with civility. Who is anyone to tell anyone else what to feel and how to experience life? I challenge any person who thinks they can give that direction to ponder what it might mean for those who’ve lost family members to suicide this year.


Just smile.

Merry Christmas.
Joy to the World.
Jingle Bell Rock.
Happy Holidays…

 

All can be a mocking reminder of pain to those who are hurting.

I don’t mean to say that those who have a merry Christmas should feel guilty or sad or on edge about offering holiday greetings. It is important, vitally important, for us to recognize that not everyone can be merry at Christmastime.

So if you are happy this Christmas season, great! Sing out! Smile loudly in public places! Wear the heck out of those ugly Christmas sweaters. Be the holiday spirit. Don a Santa Hat and make it rain for kids everywhere!

But if you are struggling, let me be the first to offer you permission to simply have the season you have. Experience each moment and know that if you are in difficult times, they don’t usually last forever. If you are grieving know that in time as you acknowledge that loss and work through your response, the pain will ease. If you are hurting, can you have a sliver of hope that the painful wound will heal?

Broken just 2 days before Christmas 2014.

 

Have the Christmas you have, and pass on the permission for others to walk through this season having the holidays they have as well!

Living each day, regardless of what comes our way.

ReFreshing

Home Made Christmas

There are times and seasons in life that require more from us than what we think we are capable of giving. When stresses pile up. When bills beckon. When life seems to be stacked against us. It is all so very disheartening.

It can be even more challenging when all of these arrive just in time for Christmas. It is supposed to be a time for cheer, a time of extravagance, of gifts and toys and pleasures all around. These expectations leave so many feeling like they are on the edge of a party they aren’t worthy to enter.

If you find yourself at that place this Christmas season, longing to give gifts and celebrate at parties but you don’t have extra cash to spend or a kitchen with a double boiler with which you can candy coat the world, take heart. Here are some easy, and I do mean easy, and inexpensive (yippee!) ways to create a home-made Christmas on a budget.

Bonus! Two of the projects are recycled/upcycled so you get to feel good about saving the planet as well!

1. Cell Phone Pocket for Charging

Do you have an old pair of jeans lying around? Like maybe the ones in your closet that are 3 sizes too small and you always thought that someday you’d wear them again? Today is the day for sacrifice. Cut the back pocket carefully from the jeans extending that cut up and over the seam above the pocket before you get to the waistband. Then cut a little window just above the pocket and below the upper seam. It should look like this:

You can, if you want and are able, sew or glue a ribbon or edging around the cut edges to pretty it up, or just leave it raw.

You can, if you want and are able, glue or iron on some personalizing glitz to make the pocket sparkle, or just leave it natural.

The pocket works like the images below, slip your phone in and hang the phone from the charger plug. It is handy for travel when outlets may not be near a shelf and you don’t want your phone lying on the floor.

2. Flannel or Fleece Scarf

Flannel and fleece are awesome because they don’t fray terribly so you can get away with no sew projects that have rough edges. If you can cut a relatively straight line and you have $2.50 to spend on a fleece throw from Walmart, you have enough for several gifts this season.

Walmart has these fleece throws for $2.50

They measure 50 inches by 60 inches. they have an edging sewn around the whole throw and you can either trim that off first, or simply cut the edges off that you prefer. If you have a ruler, pull it out. If you don’t have a ruler, hang tight, we’ll fold and cut instead.

Measure in 10 inch sections, or if you are feeling generous, 15 inch sections. Snip the edge of the blanket to mark 6 10 inch scarves, or 4 15 inch scarves.  Fold the blanket at the mark and cut the length of the fold. If you don’t have a ruler, simply fold the blanket in half, cut the length of the fold. Fold the two pieces in half again and cut the length of the fold. Voila!

If you really want to make it fancy, trim edging from all sides and cut 1 inch fringe along the bottom and top edges.

Ok, t-shirt repurposing time!

4. Make a Bag or a Scarf from a T-shirt

You can do this simple, two cut scarf in about 3 minutes.

This no-sew scarf takes less than five minutes to make! Great way to repurpose a t-shirt!

Just lay the t-shirt flat. Cut a straight line across the entire t-shirt, front and back, from one underarm to the other. Then cut off the bottom hem of the shirt. Pull the shirt to cause the edges to curl and you are done!

To make a bag, follow these easy steps, top to bottom first column, then top to bottom second column.

#DIY: No Sew Handbag Out of Your Old T-Shirt

Turn t-shirt inside out.
Lay t-shirt flat, like the first picture. Cut off the hem.
Fold t-shirt in half and cut the sleeves off just inside the seam.
Still folded, cut the neck from the t-shirt just inside the seam.
Gather the bottom of the shirt and tie it super tight with the hem piece you just removed.
Turn the bag right side out and Ta-Da! new tote bag!

There are just four of the low to no cost gift ideas you can make at home with little time and just a pair of scissors!

I hope you have a blessed Christmas season.
I hope you give yourself and others grace for the difficulties that come at the most inconvenient times.
I hope you find ways to celebrate that don’t break your budget and still allow you to join in the holiday fun!

Low cost ideas, little energy input, and the joy of giving!
ReFreshing

 

When the rain falls and the floods rise

Into every life a little rain must fall.

These words paraphrased from a Longfellow poem have been ringing in my ears today. It isn’t raining here, actually it’s been kind of a dry week. But I feel the rain.

Many of my friends and family are also feeling the rain today; this week holds many shades of sorrow. Friends are literally still digging out from storms that blasted a month ago. Family are tending to grief and memories of loved ones lost long enough ago that others are forgetting and still so fresh as to prick tears from those close by. Other friends sit freshly wounded at the loss of life, too soon, too sad, too shocking to describe.

Grief is so common, it could provide the one universal human experience. Everyone who loves eventually feels the pain of loss. Longfellow says it is inevitable. Into every life a little rain MUST fall. But why must it?

I want to reject it. Wall it off, don’t let it in the gates. Ward off loss at every turn and with all my defenses, I’d turn myself into the loneliest woman in the world.

I don’t have the answer to the question of why.

I don’t know why it has to hurt so much to love.

I don’t know why life ends too soon.

I just don’t know.

There is little comfort in the knowledge that others hurt, too. Surely the answer to my pain is not the pain of another. Still, Jesus said we are blessed when we mourn because we shall be comforted. Perhaps the answer is not in avoiding our pain, but in seeking to comfort each other in what we all will come to experience in time.

Comfort each other with the same comfort you have received.

-St. Paul

Finding ways to empathize may connect us in ways that heal the other rifts that divide us. If I can see you as one who grieves, I can perhaps overlook ways in which we differ. I can find a way to love those I find unlovely.

Longfellow is awfully optimistic, promising the sun is still shining behind the clouds. Sometimes it hides for so long.

I have seen the sun after a storm, its brilliance brighter than before. It is not a guarantee that the rain won’t fall again, but perhaps enough to remind me to believe.

The Rainy Day
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

You’re Doing It WRONG!

I read another one today, a mommy blogger who mixes all the perfect things together like fashion modeling and Jesus, telling all the leggin’s-clad, stained XL t-shirt-wearing, run down moms exactly how much we are all failing.

It totally worked.

Now I am going to LOVE every minute of motherhood.
Now, I am going to cook only homemade, organic, gluten-free food for my family.
Now I am going to finally BE that Proverbs 31 woman! (Let’s ignore for a moment that this woman never existed as a single entity, and that if she did she had domestic help.)

NOPE!

Reality–these posts tick me off.
Reality–I am blogging right now in my pajamas.
Reality–posts all about how women are doing it wrong when it comes to marriage, family, parenting, and all-things-domestic really only serve to grind women’s faces into the dirt while heaping more responsibility for unachievable perfection onto their already overwhelmed shoulders. (Check out the length of that sentence! I think a little of my personal feeling on this is coming through here.)

Can we bring it down a notch, please?

Modern life is hard. I realize that is such a #firstworldproblems kind of statement, but let’s examine the truth for a moment:

*300 years ago it was enough to keep your children alive and marry them off at 13 or send them to be an apprentice.
*150 years ago it was enough to make sure they finished the local school course which ended around 8th grade.
*50 years ago it was enough to see that your children were individual people (thanks Dr. Spock).
*Today, you have to know your child’s unique personality, temperament, love language, and spirit animal. You have to scrapbook/photo-blog every second of their life. You have to make sure they play a sport, play an instrument, and have sufficient playdates. You have to make sure they are challenged, but not too much; given grace, but still develop grit; have firm schedules and boundaries with enough flexibility to make their own decisions once they leave home–which may be never if the economy doesn’t rebound or if you chose the industrially farmed broccoli instead of organic.

What we all really need right now is another blog telling us how we are failing and ruining our children’s lives, not to mention tearing down our houses with our own hands like that foolish woman in Proverbs.

I want to say something to you, caregiver of small humans:
If you grew a human in your body, delivered them into the world, I recognize that you care about them. If you drove to the hospital or flew across the globe to pick them up and take them home, you want good things for them. If you wept and worried through fertility treatments, surrogacy, adoption, supported your partner as they grew a small human inside of them, I see that you would do anything to love them until you can’t breathe–they are so beautiful.

I also see the heaps of laundry, the piles of dishes, the disaster of a playroom, the incessant bickering, the insomnia, the teething, the talking back, the full-blown fits in the middle of Target. I see you tired and overwhelmed by all the demands. I see you struggling to realize that you shine at 6 month-old baby care, but suck at embracing the Kindergarten stage. We all have our sweet spots, maybe one of those super organized mom-bloggers could make a spreadsheet and then I would raise your 2 year-old and you could have my 11 year-old until the next phase hits and we could all trade again.

Parenting is hard. We don’t need someone telling us all the ways we are falling short, we need cheerleaders for those beautiful moments where we do smile at our children and mean it when we say, “I love you, sweetie, have a good day!”

You may not know that I have my own checklist for parenting success. I blogged about it last year, but I will condense it for you here:
1. Don’t kill them.
2. Do your best–whatever your best looks like in this moment.
3. Love them.
4. Trust God–if you are going to be a parent, you need a higher power.
5. Everything else can be worked out in therapy.

So if you didn’t score a perfect 10 this morning, don’t beat yourself up. Grab a cup of coffee, fold 5 minutes worth of laundry, call a friend and invite them to bring their kids to distract your kids so you can have grown up conversation. Give yourself some grace, it’ll go a long way toward your ability to offer grace to your kids as well.

Anne of Green Gables once said, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?

Grace for ourselves and others on this parenting journey.
ReFreshing