a noonday collection ambassador trip: guatemala 2016

It’s a Friday afternoon in Santiago, Guatemala—a small town with a large indigenous Mayan population on Lake Atitlán. I’m standing on a cleanly swept dirt floor around a long wooden table, watching a group of local women sit and sift through piles of beads before they string them into beautiful multicolored beaded cuffs. I’m here with eleven other Noonday Ambassadors, on a weeklong trip to visit four Artisan partner groups.

As I look back on our week in Guatemala, what I will be taking away from this experience are the people I got to meet and what I learned from them, especially from the leaders of our Artisan partner groups.

During our time with Ana, an amazing woman leader working in Santiago,

 I loved seeing the sense of pride she has in her work. 

She enjoys who she works with, laughing and learning alongside them. She is always trying to improve—from constructing a tin roof over their rear workspace to switching from a wood-burning fire to propane gas to heat their dye (which can be hazardous for their health and also enables them to produce more—and thus earn more). Ana is proud of the work she has created for her community and leads them well.

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On another day in the nearby town of San Juan La Laguna, we got to meet Cristobol, one of Noonday’s key Artisan partners in Guatemala. Cristobol 

has a passion for empowering others,

 despite the difficult circumstances he went through in his past. I was so moved by the way he has built a network of teams in his workshop—we met the eight women who each have their own team, allowing them to learn leadership skills, and they even share the various steps involved in the creation of each bracelet.

Because of the work they’ve received through Noonday, each of these eight women leaders in Cristobol’s team have been able to open their own personal bank account and he’s also currently training twenty-one additional women to have a trade and soon join his team. He’s looking out for his community and I walked away from our time together inspired to grow even more involved in my own home community.

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Finally, I loved meeting Rosario and her team. Rosario has a 

determination to pursue her dreams.

 She drives four hours one-way every weekend to attend university and is also putting her daughters through school right now. In a community where it’s often typical for a girl to only complete education through sixth grade, Rosario’s determination to see her children and all of her female Artisans complete their education was humbling and inspiring to witness. She said that Ambassador trips always bring her joy and peace. It was amazing to realize our connection was just as meaningful for both of us.

This trip was a beautiful picture of how no matter what your role is in life and in the world, you matter. Whether you’re a Noonday Artisan partner,

Ambassador

,

Hostess

or customer, every role is vital and dependent on each other. I am so thankful to now have that perspective.

Now when I see our pieces, I see more than jewelry—I see the faces behind them, and the stories they shared with us. Just as the women in Rosario’s workshop transformed individual glass beads into wearable works of art, I now feel an

even stronger

connection with the story of Noonday—all of our individual stories, of Artisans and Ambassadors, woven together across the world.

2 0 1 5

Well, after about three months of writer's block, I'm excited to be writing again! I took some time off focusing on the holidays and time with family but I'm back and ready to take 2015 by the horns! My holidays were filled with friends and family -- like the pictures below (ice skating in Forest Park). For the second year in a row our best friends visited us during Christmas and it was the best time. I'm so grateful for friends who encourage, pray and love you through hard times. 

I love January and this special time of year. It is a great time for reflecting to set goals and dream how you want to spend the next year of your life. There is something about it that just feels so new and fresh. And, to start my year off focused on God and my goals, 

I took part in a social media fast with my church. I had no idea how wonderful it would be. If you know me, you know I LOVE photography and Instagram. Border line obsessed. Along with half with world. 

I was expecting to really, realllllly miss instagram and facebook. Like dread being away. Have extreme fomo (fear of missing out) and totally fail. At best, I thought I'd only make it halfway through the week before getting "back on." BUT, I'm proud to say... I stood strong and have learned so much about myself and our culture during the week I was "off the grid."

I learned how I fill every spare moment checking my latest feed on Instagram and how obsessed I was with how many "likes" and comments I was getting on my latest pictures. And, most importantly, I realized just how much anxiety social media was causing me. It's hard for me to admit that I am/was struggling with anxiety but it's the truth. But, this week... I feel like a weight had been lifted off of me. Filling my minutes and hours looking at other people's lives whether good or bad, has slowly began giving me anxiety -- daily anxiety to be exact.

Discussing this with my mom earlier this week, we chatted about how social media and it's far-reaching network gives us a way to see into the lives of so many people and how that just isn't normal. We are not meant to be that hyper-connected. It is just too much to take in on a daily basis. No one's heart or soul can take in that much information about every little detail of everyone's life. 

So...all that to say, I'm excited to share my thoughts on how I'm going to take this week and apply it to my life moving forward in 2 0 1 5. 

Social Media Boundaries:

1. Get all my instagram notifications turned off so I'm not 

constantly reminded of what is happening on instagram. 

2. Keep my instagram app hidden on my phone -- meaning, it will 

help me avoid constantly opening the app when I have a free moment. 

3. Delete the facebook app completely off my phone. 

Because honestly, that will cut down 90% of the time I am on facebook. It will make me open my laptop(which isn't everyday) 

in order to get on facebook.

4. Leave my phone in another room when I get home from work every night so I can focus on my husband who I haven't seen all day & actually get things done and not be distracted by phone.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this social media hyper connected and consumed world and what/if any, actions you take to be in control of it and not let it control you.  And, don't get me wrong, I think that instagram specifically is wonderful and it has given me new friendships I wouldn't have otherwise, but it's all about boundaries and finding a balance. 

I'm so grateful to have friends like Courtney and many others who encourage me along the way. I pray that if you don't already, you find your "tribe" who can keep you accountable and love you during this journey we have here on earth. 

Here's to 2 0 1 5! I am so hopeful for what God has in store this year. If you haven't already, I encourage you to take a social media fast too. It's such a great time to focus and set some goals for yourself. I don't think you'd regret it. And, if you do, let me know how it goes! You got this -- it's not impossible to go a week without it. Trust me. If I can do it.... you can too. 

Complete our looks:

Brooke's Look (left) 

Red Cozy Zip Scarf

 - handmade by Noonday Collection

Crescent Moon Earrings

 - handmade by Noonday Collection -

current obsession

Delta River Bangles

 - handmade by Noonday Collection

Milly Lace Boot Socks

 - Grace and Lace

Lines and Stripes Catch All Purse

 - handmade by Noonday Collection 

Courtney's Look (right)

Bright Stripes Arm & Leg Warmers

 - handmade by Noonday Collection

Gem Trio Studs

 - handmade by Noonday Collection

Hand knit scarf - by Janell Rardon

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Both dresses from

Twice

. Second hand clothes - game changer. 

Happy New Year, y'all! Let's make it a good year.

xoxo