Wednesday, November 26, 2014

5 things you can do to help shelter animals + tips from Instagrammers.

The holidays are around the corner and while we all make plans to get together with loved ones and enjoy some cheer, food and presents, I thought to do a quick post on how we can all lend a hand to help shelter animals. 

Yangkyu and I support rescue and advocacy groups mostly through monetary funds. We try and encourage others to do the same, but I realize that not everyone has the capacity to do so. For some, even contributing their own personal time can be tough. And it's unfortunate when people start to feel helpless in helping animals in need.

There are actually many things that people can do to help other than contributing money and time. I share my five tips at the bottom of this blog, but I also thought to ask the good folks on Instagram to share their advice on how to help a shelter animal out, not only this holiday season, but throughout the year. Here is what some folks had to say: 

*These have been edited for length purposes. You can see everyone's tips and advice in full hereThank you so much for taking the time out to write to us!  
@foxteufelswild :: I was thinking if I could offer my camera and my photo skills to a local animal shelter. 
@thegracechon :: Taking pictures of shelter dogs is a huge help. (**Grace is an amazing photographer who also donates her time and services to rescue groups in Los Angeles. She is also the creator of the Zoey & Jasper photo series that went viral earlier this year.)
@eleanorpike95 :: Not sure if you have this in the US, but most supermarkets here in the UK have a big box next to their exit or entrance for donations to local shelters. So you can buy dog food and blankets, etc. whilst doing your food shop and leave a bag in the box on your way out! Quick way to help out! 
@alibuchanan84 :: The rescue I volunteered with in Korea, besides monetary donations, we asked for old blankets and sweatshirts, photographers to get good shots of the dogs, we also did videos of the dogs so people could see their personalities. We also had some dog trainers help with very difficult dogs. People donated old leashes and harnesses of all sizes.
@vslseet :: I know transport of rescue dogs from shelters to their forever homes is a great way to help.
@freyjapup :: Social media is a big help. I work off and on at a doggy daycare that does small-time rescue and Facebook has helped get the word out about our dogs. While spending time with rescue dogs is awesome, telling other people about the dogs is even better. I would say fostering is the ultimate thing you could do for a shelter animal (other than adopting), but not everyone is able to (or should) make that commitment. 

I have already mentioned in the past, but Piri is not a rescue dog. My brother bought him at a mall in Georgia. It was before we knew any better - before we knew anything about puppy mills and what adopting a dog really meant. When Piri was entering the senior stage in his life, he came to live with me and  Yangkyu. 

While Piri is not a rescue, he has taught us a lot about the issue and throughout the process we got to know some really great rescue and advocacy organizations. Piri continues to teach us about a lot of things. This is one of the best perks in having a pet in your life. 

Adding to the great suggestions from Instagrammers, here are some of our thoughts on how you can help a shelter animal today: 

1. Find a local rescue organization near you and follow them on Facebook or any other social media platform that is comfortable for you to use. Join their email mailing list. Just by doing this you have unlocked an endless number of opportunities you can join to help shelter animals. You will be updated on emergency fund needs, dates to meet dogs at local adoption shows and shopping opportunities {jewelry, wine, chocolate, clothing} where proceeds go towards rescue efforts. And just by being connected to a rescue organization you have, at the tip of your hands, the power to help disperse information far and wide. You can share with your family, colleagues and friends AND encourage them to do the same. Yangkyu and I are connected to Abandoned Angels Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Oldies but Goodies Cocker Spaniel Rescue and Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation

2. Collaborate. Have you ever felt like you wished you had a few hundred bucks to donate to a rescue group? I've seen many people who say they wish they can win the lottery so they can do what they always wanted to do -- help animals in need. Really. You don't need to wait until you hit the jackpot. Commit $5. Ask 2o of your friends to skip out on Starbucks for a day and help contribute $5. Boom. You just raised $100. $5 may seem really small, but when you collaborate with others that $5 becomes $10, $30, 100, $500. It's the same concept with donated goods, food and other needed supplies. Same for folks with hobbies. Are you a knitter with many knitting friends? Get together and knit some warm blankets. The possibility to collaborate for shelter animals is endless. Get creative and stay committed. //Don't have anyone to collaborate with? Skip that Starbucks coffee anyway and donate your $5. It will go a long way for the animal in need. Never think that your donation amount is too small and won't have any impact. 

3. Check your company policy. Some companies have really amazing matching fund programs for their employees. Either they will match the dollar donation (some even matching at 100%) you make to an organization or they will make a monetary donation for every hour you volunteer with a organization of your choice (time is usually capped). Please make sure the organization you wish to do a matching program with is a registered 501 c3, non-profit. If not, the matching program won't apply.  

4. Sign up for action alerts. Many organizations are leading the charge to change laws on the local, state and federal levels so that animals are protected and policies are adopted so that the number of animals that end up in shelters decrease, and that no-kill shelters are implemented across the country. There are online petition drive alerts to encourage people to send letters to elected officials. There are sample letters provided and the process is super easy. And of course, there is always that last step, which is to share and encourage five of your friends and family to take action as well. Yangkyu and I are signed up to receive alerts with Best Friends Animal Society and the ASPCA and also take action through The Humane Society of the United States Facebook page.

5. Commit to doing. This doesn't have to be a Herculean effort. Fostering and adopting are great and amazing ways to help a shelter animal out, but  not every can {or should} do it. That doesn't mean that there is nothing else you can do. When you see an animal in need, commit to doing something. Share the picture, donate, email/forward to your friends, give up your birthday presents and ask friends to donate instead, replace wedding and party favors with donations to a local rescue group, take 2 minutes and sign that online petition. The most important thing we all do is committing to doing something instead of feeling sad. Any act, when it is done in mass, in collaboration, has a profound impact, especially for those animals waiting for their happy endings. 

What have I missed? Please share your best tips and advice!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Crocheted lately.

// Fingerless mitt {for the left hand only. I ran out of yarn. oops.}
 // Tiny Christmas tree. {pattern here
 // Some more sunburst granny squares. 
 // A basket.

What are you crocheting {or dreaming of crocheting} lately? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

We fell in love with our weird blue wall + other weekend things.

Over the weekend, we made too many plans and got in over our heads. 
We were indecisive and spent way too many hours at Home Depot mulling over pieces of wood. 

We remembered our mothers and made mandu from scratch. 
Then realized making the skin, too, from scratch was just a bad idea. 

We also made jangjorim, artichoke dip and guacamole. 
Our kitchen was a happy place to be in. 

We sanded, painted & stained. 
The wood we turned into shelves had little imperfections that made them perfect. 
Our neglected frames of pictures and art prints finally found a new home. 
And we fell in love with our weird blue wall. 

Little knit pieces had their ends weaved in and found themselves inside little packages ready to be mailed. 

The weekend was a crazy one. 
But we need a little crazy from time to time. 

I hope your weekends were a little crazy, too. Crazy and comforting. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Have a good weekend + links.

I got these in the mail earlier this week and just yesterday I began to knit a scarf for a little boy who is turning two in a few months. I'm also learning a new pattern and hopefully I'll be able to knit up a hat with little ear flaps for a little one year old girl. Both are presents for friends' little ones.

This weekend I'm probably setting us up for a crazy busy weekend, but there are a few projects I hope to get out of the way -- I want to at least get plans written down to build a few things like our floating shelves and also a wood backdrop I hope to have for my photography adventures. I also want to put up a couple gallery walls, get started on crocheting a few ornaments and make mandoo. I have been craving this stuff to no end and instead of buying the frozen bag that can be a little expensive, I told Yangkyu I think we should make some. So it's looking like a busy weekend of making and cooking. 

What do you all have planned? 
Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Some links to get you started -- 

 // I just loved this story. It got me all crying too. A dog's loyalty is truly immeasurable. 

 // New eyewear crush. 

 // Wreath ideas for the holidays. 

 // Because we need to keep track of all these holidays!

 // Homemade gifts to bring out the crafty side of all of us. 

 // Be brave

 // Thanksgiving recipes across the United States {Virginia is corn pudding. What is your state?}

 // A 1950 Chevy inside Old Navy in San Francisco gets yarnbombed

 // Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" syncs perfectly with this 80s aerobics video

Some months are harder than others...

Earlier this week I had a hard time emotionally when I found out again that I wasn't pregnant. Then for the next couple of days I walked around the house like a zombie. I had no energy or motivation to do anything and felt so hopeless. 

Some months I'm perfectly fine. Other months I feel like I'm in a bottomless pit. 

I go through the same ritual. It almost feels like I'm killing half of my heart -- I tell it to stop having hope or have any sort of expectations. It's easier to handle negative news this way. 

But this month my heart went there again. It had hope. It had expectation. It had an inkling; a positive "feeling". But it was wrong. And I felt so dumb for having hope. 

Perhaps because it's almost the end of the year and my birthday is right around the corner... Maybe that is why I'm feeling more desperate because another year is ending and we're still trying. 

I recently shared on Facebook to my friends and acquaintances about my journey with infertility and also the act of giving advice. One of the hardest things for me in talking about infertility with friends was the unsolicited advice they gave. We as humans are wired to give advice - to bestow knowledge on to others because we don't think they already know. I gave passes in the beginning because I knew everyone was coming from a good place {even though hearing "you'll get pregnant if you stop thinking about it" about 20 times drove me insane and "you can always adopt" always seemed insensitive and didn't really address the heartache of infertility}. But then I realized something. I never asked for their advice. I was opening up, being vulnerable and sharing my pain and experience, and all I was asking was for that person to listen. I didn't want to give passes anymore and so I stopped talking about it to friends and instead turned to my blog.  

A lot of folks think they are great listeners. I think listening is such a hard thing to do. I don't think many people know how to do it. 

This whole experience has also made me realize how much I must have overstepped boundaries as well because this act of giving advice vs. listening doesn't just pertain to women and couples going through infertility. It really goes toward all struggles people go through, most of the time, silently and quietly. 

When I get messages or emails from other women going through infertility, or when I read stories online, I sometimes weep. Harder than other times. It's because I feel like they are taking the words right out of my mouth. I feel like my feelings are validated. I feel like what I'm going through is legit. I'm not the only one who feels a little overwhelmed but also feels bad at not wanting to look at every single picture of friends' babies being sent to me and hear about their first milestones. This has been the hardest to grapple with -- wanting to be happy for friends but feeling miserable at the same time and then wondering deep down if I'm just a rotten person. 

Just yesterday I began to get back to my usual routine. Yangkyu and I held hands and smiled and said to each other, "we're try again next month, ok?" I picked up my knitting needles and began a couple of projects for little toddlers. I began to look at pictures again. I began to be happy again. 

PS -- 25 things to say (and not to say) to someone living with infertility.