One of my favorite authors is Shauna Niequist, a writer who shares insight regarding relationships, community, and engaging with one another while gathered around the table, surrounded by food and drink and friendship. Niequist is a compelling storyteller who uses her own life as a platform for connecting with her readers in a genuine, intimate way.

One of her primary topics of focus is cultivating meaningful relationships and diving honestly and openly into a supportive community. She writes about this in her book Bittersweet when she expounds upon the topic of the home team:

In our day and age of cell phones, email, and social media, it’s easy to overlook the art of writing handwritten notes to communicate with the people we love. We’ve expounded upon the value of continuing to put pen to paper as we send correspondence to family and friends several times, so instead of harping on the topic once again, we thought we’d share some specific instances in which it is easier to send a handwritten note than you think.

Check out our ideas below and let us know if you have any tips to share!

We find so much inspiration through learning about women who are leaving their mark on the world in a profoundly impactful way. From entrepreneurs and non-profit founders to artists and writers and musicians, women are paving the way in so many different fields as they pursue their passions and develop creative ways to make the world a better place.

Read on to learn about some of the women who are inspiring us lately, and leave us a note in the comments section to let us know whose life path has encouraged you.

I have always been a dog lover. My parents had a cockapoo when I was born, and when I was in first grade, we got two darling cocker spaniels named Jake and Molly. They each had their own distinct personalities—Jake was a mischief-maker who loved to cuddle and steal snacks from anywhere he could find them, while Molly was more of a pensive pup who liked to keep her distance but loved us all the same. They were so much fun, and they defined the childhood memories that my brother and I share.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties, though, when I realized the difference between growing up with a pet and raising a pet to call your own.

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Happy, happy New Year! We love everything about the start of a fresh new year (minus the fact that the holidays are over, of course), and we are definitely fans of crafting a set of resolutions that will inspire us as we head into 2016.

Instead of settling for the same old resolutions that we hear year after year (live a more healthy lifestyle, save money, pursue happiness), we challenge you to come up with innovative resolutions that are specific and creative, allowing you to continually find inspiration long after January is over. Here are some ideas we came up with, so let us know what you think of them. And share your ideas in the comments section, too. We’d love to be inspired by your resolutions!

The holidays are here, and that means so many good things are in store: Cookie exchanges and Christmas movies, tree-trimmings and holiday parties, gift-wrapping extravaganzas and an excuse to pull out our favorite festive wear.

In this season, there will always be more to do — more cards to write, more gifts to buy, more parties to attend, more people to see. But what if this year we opt for a little less, not in an attempt to sacrifice the richness of this season but rather in hopes of giving our loved ones the gift of presence?

Iceland is increasingly becoming a hot spot for travelers, and with good reason: The nature and landscape are absolutely breathtaking, the people are welcoming and warm, the culture is interesting and unique, and the seafood, amongst other delicious Icelandic treats, is fresh and excellent.

My husband and I recently traveled to Iceland and we can’t recommend this adventure enough (we’re already plotting our inevitable return). Here are four tips for planning your trip.

We are all in pursuit of our dream job, and while some of us may already be settled into the perfect career, others of us are questioning the roles we’re currently in. At some point or another, all of us have asked ourselves, should I quit?

We’ve weighed the pros and cons, had discussions with our loved ones and mentors, and made decisions about our jobs based on the outcome of these lists and conversations. But, when do we really know that it’s time to leave a job and pursue something different? Are there situations where we might need to dig in our heels, endure the frustration, and stay longer than we thought we would? In today’s world of living-for-the-moment and chasing our dreams, how do we view jobs that may not be our passion?

Here are some thoughts to consider while discerning whether we need to tough it out in the job we’re in or turn in our two weeks notice.

There is no doubt that social media has made our lives better in a myriad of ways. Thanks to FaceTime, we feel like we’re spending time in person with loved ones who live across the country. We share fun updates on Facebook and Instagram, allowing those in our networks to feel connected to what’s going on in our lives. Social media has advanced the missions of humanitarian causes and small businesses alike, and it has been revolutionary in bringing about change in the United States as well as in countries throughout the world.

Though on the contrary, social media has also become a source of stress, anxiety, and frustration. Increasingly, we’re witnessing society’s social commentary on the subject, watching as TV shows, authors, reality stars, and magazines alike share their irritation with social media and the manner in which it inflames tensions amongst loved ones, creates distractions from work, and generally encourages an environment of disconnectedness (or, at best, of forced connectedness).

Since society itself recognizes that we have a problem with using social media in an entirely positive way, what are we to do? Should we continue our fascination with social media as a form of entertainment, or should we take note of the warning signs and try to root out the potentially harmful implications of our online usage?

Here are some questions to consider as we ponder this issue.

Thanks to technology and today’s relative ease of travel, the world is becoming smaller than ever. Far-reaching places are becoming more and more accessible, spurring on daydreams of travel, vacation, and exploration.

In turn, many of us are checking travel-related dreams off of our bucket lists. For a lot of explorers, that entails planning a trip to Africa. As we would for any trip, we plan extensively, crafting packing lists and itineraries, researching sightseeing opportunities, restaurants to enjoy, and places to play.

However, there are also some things that are specific to Africa that may help as you plan a trip, whether you’ll be perusing spice markets in Morocco or serving at an orphanage in Uganda. I’m sharing a few of those things with you, below.

I recently returned home to the U.S. after spending two weeks in Ghana, West Africa. As the Director of Project Development for the Touch A Life Foundation, I have traveled to Ghana a dozen times, but each time I’m there, I’m captivated by the innate beauty of Ghanaian women.

They are gorgeous on the inside and out, to be sure, but what I observe and relish in each time is a different kind of a beauty, one that results from a culture that is less influenced by the media than my own.

Let me explain.

In the age of technology, everything is at our fingertips. We can have groceries delivered to our house, prescriptions refilled instantly, bills paid on time, and gifts sent to loved ones all with the touch of a button, without ever having to leave our home or our device. Similarly, we can make friends and start romantic relationships through our screens, which is inevitably changing the way that we connect with people, for better or for worse.

In elementary school, we made friends with our peers in our classes. We bonded by playing together at recess, working on group assignments, and trading items from our lunches — all of which we did in person, face-to-face.

In the modern, digital age, things have changed substantially. We communicate our emotions and interests through carefully curated words (and emojis, of course!), and while these initial conversations can bring about and sustain long-term, meaningful relationships, these patterns also beg the question: Are we just as quick to make friends now as we were in the days before social media?

Candidates have started gearing up for next year’s presidential election, which means it’s our time as voters to start paying attention to the issues associated with each party’s platform. One of the hot topics will certainly be in regards to the immigration debate and its proposed reform. Admittedly, U.S. immigration law is extremely complex. This can create a lot of confusion amongst voters as they prepare to make decisions.

Yet, we shouldn’t tune out an issue just because it contains many moving parts. So, what details do we need to know in order to make informed choices and share our opinion?

Below we’re briefly outlining the details of the immigration debate so that you can learn more about the issue and align yourself with a view that resonates with you. We know this won’t fully encompass every argument, but we sincerely hope it’s a jumping off point for deciding where you’d like to press in for deeper research.

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It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the news today. So much of the broadcasts we see and hear tend to focus on what’s bad  in the world, and because stations are constantly competing with fast-paced demands of social media and real-time updates, the accurate information can get lost in the shuffle. We’re left bewildered, defeated or out of touch.

So, where to find news updates that actually help us become more informed and engaged global citizens?