Thuy Smith Outreach International- Living on Purpose

Health and Wellness, Mindfulness, Spirituality, Relationships, Lessons Learned, Recovery, Healing, Empowerment

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Simplify Your Life and Eliminte What Isn’t Necessary!


Over six years ago my husband and I started simplifying our lives. We downsized a lot and did it in steps. Each year we would go through our things and do a serious evaluation on what we had, what we didn’t want to depart from, and the items we really didn’t need. We would sell or give away the items and became more mindful about anything else we would ever purchase again. We also knew the house we had was way more than what was needed for the two of us. Finally we put our last home (over 1500 square feet) on the market and it sold immediately. From there we went to an apartment (around 850 square feet) for a year and then decided to move from the Midwest out West.

We took two trips and brought only what we could fit in our Toyota corolla and two 5 x 8 trailers. Now we are in less than half the square footage of our last home in a 640 square foot condo. After building three homes, we moved into a condo which has actually become our favorite home. We also sold our second vehicle. We don’t need it anymore because living downtown in the city we can utilize the bus, walk, or ride our bikes. For us, it’s all about living a new healthy lifestyle and making less of a carbon imprint as much as possible. Plus it was one less vehicle to maintain and insure. I’ve simplified my life and I’ve never felt more free. My actions also benefit the planet and the future for others. I have more time to focus on self-care, relationships, and for even more enjoyable experiences.

While beginning our journey of simplifying, I discovered people that wanted to reduce the waste they were creating. In fact, their goal was to have zero waste. Amazingly they eliminated so much of their waste that what was left was only what they couldn’t recycle or compost.

For example: One woman I learned about stated she is not wanting to preach or tell others how to live, but simply wants to live out her own values. If it ends up inspiring another person, that’s an added bonus. Well I’m one of many that she did inspire.

The only waste that she has had in two year’s time is what you see in this glass jar.


So, I decided to start with examining my own trash. I found of course a lot of packaging and I needed to improve my paper waste as well. 


  • Worldwide consumption of paper has risen by 400% in the past 40 years leading to increase in deforestation, with 35% of harvested trees being used for paper manufacture.
  • The United States alone, waste paper accounts for approximately 40% of the total waste; this is equivalent to almost 72 million tons of waste paper annually.

Here are some of the things I’ve done and simple actions you can take

I was already using my own reusable shopping bags for brining my groceries home, but I was still using the plastic produce bags. In 2017, I purchased my first set of reusable produce bags and have been using only reusable ones ever since. This step is huge. Imagine everyday, all day long, every person shopping is filling their carts full with plastic produce bags for each single item of produce. If everyone used their own reusable produce bags, that can eliminate a tremendous amount of plastic right there.

If you forget your reusable bags at home one day and end up with plastic, many stores have a convenient recycling bin you can return them to.

Another way to eliminate waste is buy minimizing your packaging. Buy food from bulk bins using your new produce bags or your own containers. Go to the customer service counter to have them weigh your containers and add a tare weight. Most reusable produce bags already have a tare weight on them. There are some places you can bring your own containers to buy shampoo, soap, and cleaning products in bulk.

If I purchase meat, I bring a large freezer bag that I always reuse. Stores may insist they wrap the meat in their own packaging, but the freezer bag can be used for extra protection  to keep the meat separated from your produce.

Here is my fun basket that I use for the farmer’s market.

I buy from the farmer’s market when it’s in season and try to support others in my community by buying local when I can.

I plan out my meals and shop for only what I need so as to minimize my waste. Very rarely do I have any food waste. If there are scraps or peelings, they can be used for compost.

I love kombucha and I found a couple of places where I can purchase my own jug and do refills. I was able to do the same with bulk olive oil.

I’ll bring my own cup for when purchasing coffee and my own containers for ordering take out or my leftovers from eating out.

Eliminate straws and one time plastic use with cups and silverware.

I’m learning to make my own personal care and cleaning products. I know exactly what I’m getting in my products and that they are safe. I not only minimize my packaging, but I’m saving money too.

Buy used, borrow, or utilize a repair café or buy only what we really need.

Recycle, recycle, recycle, but try our best to minimize packaging to begin with.

Carbon dioxide emissions are a main concern about landfills, another is their production of methane, methane is 84 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. California and Texas, with their high populations, have the greatest landfill-related methane emissions.

All that methane is produced by organic trash like food waste and yard trimmings. While it can be argued that some bushes need to be trimmed, it’s hard to make the case for throwing away food, which makes up more than a fifth of the nation’s waste stream — more than any other material that ends up in an incinerator or landfill.

Another thing I do is use my shredded paper for compost. The paper I don’t shred I place in a separate paper bag for recycling pick-up.

What a fantastic way of recycling and helping our planet- Creating art & beauty out of trash! To learn more go to-

I have not eliminated my waste to the point of the example of the jar I shared about earlier, but I do what I can. Any steps you take is a positive step. You might be surprised that you’ll end up doing way more than you ever imagined. It is actually fun and I’m amazed how many others have been inspired to follow my lead. I have had both adults and youth ask me where they can purchase my reusable produce bags. I also overheard some teens comment as I walked away about how cool it was that I was using reusable produce bags.  I have given them as gifts. Last year they were Christmas gifts to my parents and mother-in law.

I know I gave you a lot of information and ideas in this post, but now I ask you to go to my website for another step you can do to make a difference. Go here to learn more about a call to action you can be a part of.


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Recovery- what does it mean? We all could use a little recovery sometimes.

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Recovery- what does it mean? We all could use a little recovery sometimes.

When a person enters and works through recovery, they become a different person in some ways and yet in other ways remain the same. People begin to have more of a sense of self and are at peace with that, both the good and the “bad”.

Recovery is not always easy. Stopping the using was the “easy part”, but there is all the other work of self-reflection and forgiveness. Forgiveness is in some ways easier to have for others than it is for yourself.

What does recovery mean really? Well I feel first of all it doesn’t have to be a term referring only to people who have found or are seeking recovery from chemical dependency. It can apply to anyone. Anyone can use a “Recovery” from time to time.

Recovery to me means recovery of one’s self. In this way, don’t we all need to find this from time to time?

We lose ourselves when…………….
We don’t draw boundaries with people

When we don’t know how to say no

When we take on more than what is realistic and put too much expectation on ourselves

When we over extend ourselves for whatever reason

When we don’t own our truth and be willing to express- No, I don’t like that or I need this in my life right now

When we are not gentle and forgiving of ourselves

When we don’t take time to slow down to be in the moment and let our mind, body, and spirit rest

It can be easy to fall in any of these traps.

It’s good to not be selfish because that is not only an undesirable characteristic to have; it is never going to be sustainable. At the same time there is the other extreme. Sometimes people are so worried, especially women and all the more if they are mothers, that if they took care of some of their own needs they should feel ashamed of that.

One time I heard person say that “taking care of your self is not selfish, it is Self-full”. When we are full, we are more able to better take care of others, let alone ourselves.

In the end, we are all the same and wanting the same things- Love, to be heard, and know that we have value. So allow yourself permission to recover. We all need a little recovery sometimes. It’s OK and there is NO shame in it.

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There is no love from someone else if I can’t love myself

Self-love and self-care is not selfish, but rather self-full.

Fill yourself up  first so you are able to pour into others,

while not burning yourself out.

See Powerful Video clip


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Feelings are something we have the most of but know the least of how to deal with

Aurora Community Counseling
Wendy Prigge LSW-CSAC
Guest Post

Aurora Community Counseling was a partner (Honorary Sponsor) with TSOI’s past Recovery Month events.

*No Blogs were meant to substitute professional counseling or other assistance


Image result for feelings and addiction recovery

Feelings are something we have the most of but know the least of how to deal with. We learn from our role models who are often our parents, grandparents, other family members, teachers, or a friend. Sometimes we have good role models and sometimes not. Some families are very open and too much in everyone’s business. Some are very quiet and avoid sharing much of anything. People go through life avoiding any significant disclosures which leads to people playing roles trying to be the kind of person they think others expect.

In chemical dependent families there is usually the “NO TALK” rule. There can be an elephant in the living room but no one talks about it. The family pretends everything is ok. Everyone is expected to protect the family by keeping the dirty laundry a secret. The family members are expected to seek help only within the family but even within the family we don’t talk about certain things such as how mom or dad acted last night when he or she was drinking. This is what we call denial. It occurs with the family and with the person who is chemically dependent or alcoholic.

So why would we talk about feelings in recovery? People addicted to alcohol and drugs use or drink for relief. The first symptom of this disease is to use or drink for relief. The second symptom of the disease is constant relief using or drinking. The number one trigger for those who are alcoholic to drink again is negative emotional effect or negative feelings. So people with chemical dependence stuff their feelings. The whole family learns to stuff feelings. Because people who are alcoholic learn to stuff their feelings they don’t learn to cope with uncomfortable feelings. This leaves them at risk for relapse.

So why are feelings important anyway? What is the big deal? Our feelings are a big part of who we are. We need to be able to identify them and share them with the people closest to us so they can know us. When we hide our feeling people have to guess what you are feeling. People may assume they know what you are feeling which leads to wrong assumptions. This can lead to conflict. The people who want to know us such as our family and friends can be left in the dark.

Some people who are alcoholic or chemically dependent get high or drunk and do or say things that are very upsetting or mean. Often there are broken promises, broken trust, and strained relationships in families where drinking or drug use occurs. This behavior can result in hurt and angry feelings. Families and people who are chemically dependent need to be able to sort through their problems and feelings from the past to repair their relationships.

Healing occurs when people are able to share honestly and openly without fear. We are human beings that are alive and always growing and changing. We have feelings that are comfortable or uncomfortable but not good or bad. Our feelings are our very personal possessions and need to be managed as they come. In recovery we need to be able to identify our feelings, avoid suppressing them, and develop coping skills to manage them.  We need to know how to share our feelings appropriately. They are always changing.

Related Posts-

Recidivism in Recovery, Our emotions our not our enemy  although belief systems may be

Passive, assertive, aggressive

*TSOI recognizes that the lack of communication not only happens to families where substance abuse is involved, but to a variety of families and situations. Just because alcohol or other drugs may not be involved doesn’t mean that the dynamics in the family are healthy.


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Be Careful What You See- Today’s Reflection


Today’s Reflection- Be Careful What You See



con·fir·ma·tion bi·as

The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.

Perfect Example:

Bus seats mistaken for burqas by members of anti-immigrant group –

She is a sweet and cute girl– who could be smiling to your face and then gossip up a storm behind your back

He looks like a bum. Get a job. – In actuality may be dealing with severe depression, other mental illness, and / or trauma yet would give the shirt off his back to someone who needed it.

He is dressed in a suit– must be highly successful, educated, and important, but in actuality could be a narcissistic scam artist and an asshole.

He has tattoos and colored spiked hair– must be a thug, but in actuality could be a compassionate humanitarian.

A black guy wearing a hoodie– can even be killed for it. Must be a thug / gang member

She is speaking in another language– must be illegal. Go back to your country. In actuality she is an American who was born here and is simply bilingual which isn’t illegal to be. Or someone who just migrated to the U.S. and is currently learning English.

She is young and attractive– this must be why she is successful. In actuality she is educated, dedicated, and worked hard to get where she is.

OR- She is young and attractive- must be brainless

She is young. What could she know. I’ve been on this earth much longer. – Wisdom doesn’t always comes through age.

You get the point- perceptions, stereotypes, confirmation biases, generalizations, prejudices, discrimination, racism, sexism, ageism, etc.

Things aren’t always as they seem…… Let’s continue to be mindful of this.