“But you don’t look sick!” is the common feedback I get from a lot of people who judge my disability, access to services or needed requests for accommodation.
And when I sometimes respond by saying that I have had a long journey in my recovery. The follow-up comment is, “But you are much better now, though, because you sound good!” As if to say that looking attractive or pretty and speaking well demonstrates wellness.
Running a business as a full-time mum is tough but if you have a mission and a good reason why, you won’t mind the hard work and losing a little bit of sleep over it. I started my children’s fashion brand when my twins were only a few months old (almost 9 years ago !!) . It was relentless and at times, excruciatingly exhausting.
I used to be partner in an interior design firm but after finding out that I was pregnant with twins, I made the choice to leave the company to look after my babies. Soon after I gave birth to my babies, I noticed a gap in the market for sustainable kids clothing that was beyond just printed organic baby-grows.
There’s a saying, “People come for a season, reason or a lifetime.” It’s my great pleasure to know that Betty Cruz, the founder, and force behind Change Agency is here for a reason and a lifetime. Change Agency, a social enterprise missioned to elevate civic initiatives including implementation of a countywide community-designed immigrant integration plan that exists independent of government is one of many ways Betty is purpose-driven about creating positive social impact. Having known Betty for over a decade, while I could not have predicted her exact course, I had certainty that her commitment to social justice was more than a 20-something fad. In October 2016, Betty was awarded the prestigious 40 Under 40 Award for her outstanding contribution to the Pittsburgh community. Her work is positive, progressive and offers a promise (as well as many solutions) of the kind of humanity and equality we collectively need to bring forth from an ideology into practice.
Most recently, Betty launched Kids Without Borders, a multi-cultural family-friendly event to create awareness and space for inclusive play and open dialogue to occur. The event, funded by The Sprout Fund, was in direct response to the new administration’s 100 Days Plan and was a tremendous success. (The event was on January 29th). The youngest residents enjoyed the Imagination Playground and other kid stations, while teens participated in a range of creative and interactive workshops to develop improv, slam poetry, and photography skills designed to encourage positive expression through storytelling. Additionally, there were family workshops including a Know Your Rights panel, anti-bullying session, and counseling support.
I asked my first generation Cuban-American friend her thoughts on change-making in an authentically powerful and sustainable way. Here are her thoughts. Take notes!
Despite being a city girl, I have a deep-seeded love for farms, especially sheep farms. Since childhood when my mom took me to the petting zoo and I fed the sheep little pellets of God only knows what, I've been in love. I also have a love of wool - wool sweaters, scarves, throws, socks. I've endured Wisconsin winters and Japanese apartments (not very well insulated) and there's nothing like wool (combined with microtech fabric) to keep you warm and cozy. If you are longing to reconcile your commitment to ethical fashion and your wool fetish, read more about LoveMerino and The Smiths - a super sweet Aussie family, their business model and their amazing scarves.
My name is Pip Smith and together with my husband Norm and our 5 children, we are the current custodians of our property called ‘Glenwood’ which is 5 hours drive west of Sydney, Australia.
A lifelong dream of ours has recently become reality with the launch of LoveMerino which crafts stunning designer limited edition Merino scarves that can be traced right back to the flock of sheep on our farm.
This is the culmination of the hard work of 6 generations of Smiths who have lived and worked on the farm since 1898. We have always wanted to develop a brand using our own super fine Merino to produce ultra-premium products for the global market and I have to pinch myself sometimes that our dream has come true!
Jasmine, who wanted to be a movie director/actress since childhood and worked within the television industry for years, finally reached a breaking point as most visionaries do, and decided to tell her story. Jasmine, merged her passion for filmmaking with her vegan practice to create The Invisible Vegan to fill a void in mainstream wellness documentaries and to give voice to her experience and a growing movement of other African-American vegans. So how does one set about to making a dynamic vegan film that initiates dialogue about race and economics as much as it does animal rights and health? “Just do it. That’s the plan.” Jasmine did not have the resources of a major studio, despite her years in television, but she had the drive and resilience (attributes which were perhaps harnessed while growing in a marginalized community, much like the ones she is committed to outreaching to). “I have a camera, friends and a credit limit. Too many people have great ideas and let them depreciate because the stars have to align perfectly before they get started. I’m the total opposite. I look at what I have and I make it work. The plan is go. The plan is do it. The plan is take control over my destiny. The plan is have the courage to construct my vision.” Amen!
I have a girl crush. The girl(s) I'm crushing on are in the high vibration energy fields of wise women, the smiles of young girls like my daughter, cheeky and sweet, clever and innocent, in the dance of multi-tasking Alpha mom and the attentive stares of a woman with a purpose and a generous heart. I'm crushing on women like First Lady Michelle Obama, who like me had dreams to do beyond what her surroundings tried to dictate and triumphed. Again and again and in her own way, always with integrity.
I'm crushing on the girls in refugee camps who will grow up and serve others on UN panels and in Human Rights High Courts. I am crushing on sustainable designers who love fashion and being stylish, but also like sleeping at night with a clear conscious that no one is suffering because of their sartorial folly. I am totally crushing on the woman who knows a strong body and mind is deeply connected to what she eats, and she like other community ninja warrior goddesses, need to keep their strength up for kind battles and shared victories. I am crushing on every urban homesteading girl-woman, every homesteadista who recognizes herself as a pioneer of sorts - a woman paving the way for self-sufficiency (economic and environmental), an abundant and joyous life without being wasteful, connected living that may include communal spaces, or being active in their local and global community. I'm crushing on women who are in tune with their self, values and goals so they find it almost effortless to treat the environment, the people and living beings that inhabit it with respect, kindness and awe. I'm passionate about being the embodiment of this woman and leading other women to that sacred space where they can chart their own course.
I dream of women making the biggest difference yet. This week, in honor of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. and Michelle Obama's birthday as well as the final farewell to the Obamas for their terrific service and outstanding character, I'd like to introduce a series of Profiles of women who are putting to life a dream they have to make a difference in our world. Some of these amazing women are social activists, some are artists, filmmakers, designers and policy makers. They are all change-makers and influencers. And they embody those traits, those smiles and dances and attentiveness that all my girl crushes possess.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. As 2016 comes to a close, I can't help but say, "Yes! Finito!" This year was a major roller coaster ride and I'm not sure if I was buckled in on some of the dips. Ouch! Last year, I decided to forgo the usual fetes and outings for a bit of soulful sexy-time with Maestro; my ex-fiance. How did we ring in the new year? A little music, some fantastic food (he's was, and I guess still is a self-taught chef among other equally outstanding things), a meditative plan for our future and some fun stuff I can't print here. What a difference 365 days can make. This year, well... I'm just going to say it will be different. Good different. I'm going to leave it at that;)
Enough about me... I've asked a few gal pals who will not be hosting a neo-sit-in tonight what they are up to. Partying, pampering and smooching in public they tell me. Your plans not set yet? Take a cue from these ladies (or me of course) and map out a glorious way to say adios to 2016 hola to 2017. And remember, may you have an awesome 2017. Happy New Year!
The sustainable lifestyle community is expanding at light speed. As we encounter other like-minded peeps, advocates and pioneers we are in grateful awe that we are not alone with our flax seeds, bamboo floors and hemp t-shirts. Yet we are not always witness to the process, the often bumpy journey from then and now - we only see what we perceive as the well-packaged end result. Here you'll find stories of city moms, diverse green families, sustainable designers and social advocates. PROFILES aims to share their stories of life and business transformation, honoring their commitment to conscious living, navigating the personal and political and keeping a sense of humor and joy.
Judith Treanor, founder and curator of TEMPLES and MARKETS. Judith is a Sydney based mum who has been holidaying, shopping and eating her way through South East Asia since 1997. What continues to lure her to the region is the buzz of the night markets, the serenity of a resort spa and the heat of the food. She loves the contrasts - a visit to an ancient peaceful temple followed by a ride in a tuk-tuk through noisy bustling streets. This addiction to the culture and respect for is traditional craftsmanship is evident as you peruse her online boutique. A UK expat, TEMPLES and MARKETS is the sustainable union of a notable career in buying and merchandising departments for the likes of House of Frasier and Harrods and a passion for exotic luxury experiences and indigenous fair-trade products. What makes her product-line and business model remarkable are her keen eye for design, commitment to ethical trade and the unique items that have been personally sourced from designers, artisans or social enterprisers. Here are her meditations on holiday shopping and the art of giving and receiving with a global-minded spirit. And remember to check out her guest style editor post in the INNOVATIONS section.