Archive of ‘Civil Rights’ category
For a while, I’ve been talking about starting a yoga inspired jewelry company called Simply Om. I’ve had the idea for a long time – I kept thinking it was interesting how many people did yoga and didn’t know what the word “Namaste” meant.
I’ve written this before, so bear with me if you’ve seen it already.
Namaste, loosely translated, means the divine in me sees and honors the divine in you.
I sat on the idea for a while. Wouldn’t it be great to bring this concept, the idea behind namaste, to people in some way? Maybe, through fashion? Not just that, but in a way that was empowering, that was authentic, that gave back to those in need in some way.
As you can tell, I had pretty lofty dreams.
But then, it got even more complicated.
As I started figuring out how I was going to source this journey, I began to realize that it wasn’t just about selling something with a message. It was about ensuring the creation of what I was selling had a message too. I realized that the manufacturing of jewelry often has a not so beautiful side of it, to put it mildly. A side where child labor, unfair wages and unsafe working conditions can be really prevalent.
“Well, that sucks,” I thought. I was starting to realize there was nothing “simple” about creating Simply Om at all. The word “Om” in Sanskrit is associated to consciousness. Where was the consciousness in potentially knowing this jewelry was from a sweatshop somewhere in Bangladesh or Thailand?
And so I started doing research and just a whole lot of digging around fair trade into the early hours of the morning. And what I discovered is that there are amazing brands that are emerging in this world that are trying to help people in hugely oppressed situations, both economically and sometimes, socially.
Often, these two things go hand in hand.
Most of these brands are working directly with women to empower them. While they all have different missions – at the heart of it is the belief that if you empower a woman and give her a future, by training her and giving her an opportunity to sustain herself in an otherwise bleak situation, she will not have to beg. She will not have to turn to prostitution to feed her children. She can take care of herself with the right healthcare access and give her children the opportunity to thrive.
When I ask you to check Simply Om out and spread the word, it is not about pity for these people. It is because I love what they have created, with all of my heart. And I will do what I can to help spread the word, because I do believe that there are ways we can shop NOW that can pave the way for enormous social change.
People say you can’t change the world.
I disagree. Simply Om is a product of the collective belief that we CAN.
The jewelry is a link to these women and their lives. The pieces made in Ethiopia out of recycled gun casings by HIV positive women whose only option might be to beg. These pieces are beyond words when you see them and wear them. They are stunning. But I think what’s more stunning is knowing what they mean. The many colorful, bright and bold pieces we carry made by women in Uganda out of 100% recycled paper. They signify the importance of sustainability – not just for our planet, but our fellow humans who are full of talent and hope, but often without opportunity.
This is just the beginning. I have a lot more site to build, a lot more awareness I’d like to create and a lot more jewelry design teams & brands I’d like to partner with.
In the meantime, thank you helping me get here. If you could help spread this message and hit share, I would be so grateful.
P.S. Here are some pictures which can all be found on the site. But just in case you miss them…
The bracelet and necklace above are a combination of silver and gold beads made out of recycled gun casings. They are so intricately made and are fabulous.
This beautiful necklace and bracelet wrap comes in lots of bright colors for the summer. They are made in Ecuador with Acai berries from the rainforest, and gold beads.
Acai Berries and Pambil Seeds – all from the Rainforest. Because of the high demand of these beads and seeds, they are actually creating a greater effort to preserve the rainforest.
This bib necklace is made out of Tagua Seeds from the rainforest and have been dyed to make amazing statement pieces in all sorts of colors.
P.P.S. Some of you have asked who these gorgeous women are – the first is Hedieh – she is my incredibly talented hairstylist. She is in pictures 1 & 3. In picture 4 is Heather, our Au Pair from Wales. You might know her as the girl who talks to dead people. And the lovely redhead is Rowena, Heather’s friend who was visiting from Wales.
So, yes. All the models on the site are friends. Yes. I have good looking friends. Not intentionally in an Abercrombie kind of way, but I am fortunate they, along with their nice cheekbones, have supported me!
“I’m trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you’ve ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It’s only life after all”
Some of you know this about me. I love music. (Look at the top menu bar. It takes up about half of the drop downs). It is one of my greatest passions and has been since I was a child. Musical influences have had a huge impact on my life.
Music has been love and warmth when I felt I had none in my life.
Music has been inspiration when my mind and heart didn’t know which way to go.
Music lifted my soul like love, or what I thought was love, often couldn’t.
I discovered the Indigo Girls when I was in high school. They were an anchor for me in a time in my life where I couldn’t even find my way back to shore. They centered me, grounded me, and opened my eyes to what was missing in my own life.
I don’t think I understood the enormity of what the Indigo Girls were saying when I first heard “Closer to Fine” in high school decades ago. Perhaps if I had, I would have realized that I wasn’t so alone, that there were people who were dealing and coping and getting by.
And in the end, it’s only life after all.
Amy and Emily from “The Indigo Girls” are without a doubt two of the most influential musicians in my life. While I always loved the Indigo Girls, it was in my mid twenties that I really turned to them. I had come out of a bad breakup and was a little worse for the wear. After begging, and Begging and BEGGING and B!E!G!G!G!I!N!G! my ex to take me back (he didn’t, but I wasn’t really asking or anything) and then telling him I hated him (I didn’t, but I DID, but I didn’t, ya know?) and then drinking and crying to repeat this vicious cycle, I decided I needed to well…
Maybe find a hobby.
So I did what I knew. I put on my running shoes and I ran.
But it wasn’t enough and I just wasn’t having my “Forrest Gump” moment. I needed something else. Something other than the following options which I had exhausted and had done little for me:
- I had to stop calling my ex and calling him bad names while pleading with him to come back to me. I quickly realized that this was bad form. Not pathetic, exactly. More like, extremely pathetic.
I wrote a post yesterday about how I feel about recent gun violence in America. It’s over at Scary Mommy today. I want to make a few points clear:
1) My post does NOT call for the disarmament of Americans.
2) My reference to technology is to bring the discussion back to the point of perspective. We keep going back to the 2nd Amendment as if it is infallible or impossible to believe that it needs to be revisited. I am not suggesting the revocation of the law, but for us to evaluate what that means under the context in which we live.
3) Yes, driving a car without a license is illegal in all states, despite the Twitter storm that tried to tell me otherwise. For the guys who were on my back yesterday trolling the guncontrol hashtag on Twitter, if you have found some nuanced way under some provisional law where you can operate a vehicle without a license and not have the vehicle registered, congratulations. Those are not the guidelines most Americans live under.
And I don’t know many cops who would pull someone over and say, “Oh, you don’t have a license? Don’t worry. I just need your Passport. You only need a license to buy booze anyway.“
4) This post does not in any way imply that we DON’T have a mental health situation on our hands in America. Proper mental health care, support and evaluation are a necessary component to a healthy society. We have a LOT of problems in America that contribute to crime. This post is strictly talking about what kind of regulation and enforcement should be in place around guns.
5) I believe that people should have the right to own guns for self-defense, protection and hunting. That is not being contested. What I am asking you to do is to set aside the guns for a moment and ask what the limits are to keep society safe and civilized. To keep our children safe. If you really believe that arming every American is the answer, I ask you to tell me what your vision is for this country. For our children.
Tell me with a straight face that you believe that’s what the Founding Fathers envisioned.
If anyone tells me that Thomas Jefferson’s vision was for us to applaud the idea of a Rambo nation in America, that person is clearly not familiar with anything about TJ, the founder of my Alma Mater, UVA.
6) Since Newtown, I have heard people call the massacre a “ploy” by the Federal government. I have seen a man who saved children that day being called an actor and a pedophile by gun control advocates. I have seen parents grieve but I feel like their grief is tarnished by those who are so extreme to call this a conspiracy.
I mean, I can’t even believe I have to write this, it’s so completely ridiculous.
I don’t know much about you people, but I have feeling a lot of you are part of the discussion over at Scary Mommy.
Thank you for confirming what I have thought.
I really should be scared. We all should.
My post was written with the knowledge that even if I just asked why we don’t call for greater regulation and enforcement around gun laws, that I would get a lot of opposition. That my words might be twisted or misinterpreted.
Excuse me. It happened.
You’re either here because you agree. Or you’re here because you have issue with my sentiments.
In either case, thank you for visiting.
Before you comment I ask you to read this incredibly important piece. Wrestling With Details of Noah Pozner’s Killing. It’s a hard piece to read. One person in the article said, “I didn’t need to read that” about the kind of detail that was shared about what the guns actually physically did to the kids in Newtown. And what their bodies looked like when the parents wanted to cradle them in their arms.
We can handle the inconvenience of reading that. Just like those children had the horrifying inconvenience of living that and like their tormented parents have to remember after seeing that.
Every American needs to know what that means before they weigh in.
Most of you have probably seen this picture by now, which is making its rounds online. It’s a young woman’s coming out letter to her parents. The young woman, Laurel also leaves a cake for her family to sweeten the message.
The message reads:
Good morning parents,
I’m gay. I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time. I thought doing it this way would be a piece of cake. I hope you still love me. I mean, it’s hard not to love someone who baked you a cake.
All my friends know and still love me. Your acceptance would be the icing on the cake.
I hope you, much like this cake, are not in tiers.
I hope we can look back at this and say, “boy, this one really takes the cake.”
It gets batter.
(Sorry for so many puns)
I posted this on my Facebook wall as soon as I saw it. Because I think it’s brilliant. It’s funny.
And I have wondered after posting this how Laurel’s parents received the message. What approach did they take when they heard the news?
And of course, how the cake tasted.
Approach One – Love it and Embrace Her for ALL of it.
It’s obvious from the letter that Laurel has a great sense of humor. I wonder if her parents were the ones who imparted Laurel with their humor and spirit. Did they laugh and throw their arms around her? Grab a slice of cake and tell her how proud they are of her, no matter what? And, how did she know they had been craving cake?
Approach Two – Greater Reservations – Need Time to Process
Or…. did they look at each other in shock, the father absentmindedly going through the normal routine of brewing the coffee while the mother read the letter again, licking some frosting off her finger. Did they take a slice of the cake to the table with their coffee before they sat down and held each others’ hands to talk about the message?
To talk about what all of it means.
That response would be okay too. Not everyone would be jumping up and down in the air about a declaration like this. Some parents need time to process this.
When did Laurel know?
How long has she been trying to tell them?
They might need time to figure out how this changes their expectations of things. To understand how they need to support their child.
To maybe even grieve a little.
Because that mother may have had an idea since Laurel was born that she would have a traditional wedding. That she would have a traditional family. That she would one day be a grandparent to Laurel’s beautiful children from her husband.
And while some of those things can still happen, what she envisioned won’t ever align to what will play out in reality. So it’s important to acknowledge and understand that she might need that time.
Approach 3 – Don’t Accept
And maybe, just maybe. Did one of the parents look at the cake and throw it across the room while the other parent looked at the note and say, “You thought you would buy us a cake to tell us that you’re a goddamn lesbian? What the hell kind of message is that to give to your parents? With a Duncan Hines cake?”
And I am really hopeful that Laurel did not see that kind of reaction.
What Approach Would I Take?
So here’s where I am going. I don’t know what happened in Laurel’s house. I pray that her family is loving and supportive and will do everything they can to make sure she knows that their love for her does not changes.
If my kids left me that cake? I would probably cry. Tears of joy and love and happiness that they feel they have enough support from their parents to know that we will always love them. I would be ecstatic. Even if I don’t like cake. I would eat every calorie in that cake.
I have always said I will embrace my children, no matter what their sexuality is. Things I worry about as a mother are my children falling down the wrong path at some point in life. I worry not about the sex of the partner they choose – but the quality of partner that they choose. No matter what, I just want them to find love in the truest way with someone who loves them back as selflessly as I know my own kids will love.
There are so many things I want for my kids in this life, but ultimately, it’s their happiness that matters the most to me. Their fulfillment.
So I guess the question is, how would you respond if a child came out to you this way?
For now I am off to bed. But when I wake, let them eat cake!
The other day (okay, a few weeks ago), I was working out at the gym, taking a break between sets during an intense leg workout. Well, let’s be honest. It was a leg workout, made intense by the fact that it involved work.
I don’t know what triggered the thought, but as I finished taking a sip from my water bottle, I remember thinking to myself,
“If a shooter were to walk in right now and start shooting up this place, would I have anywhere to hide? Where is the emergency exit? Do I know how to play dead?”
Not so bizarre. Not anymore.
I find myself thinking about those things more and more these days. I don’t think it’s hubris – I’ve never been one to be paranoid about protecting my life. I will jump on a trans-Atlantic flight, go on the most daredevil, heart-pounding roller-coaster and can go on a passionate carbohydrate binge that would have me banned from South Beach forever.
When I was in elementary school, we did fire and safety drills all the time. Every year, the firemen would come in and reiterate the same message about how the real dangers of fire were not in the flames, initially, but in the fumes.
“Stop! Drop! And ROLL!” We were taught and we would have to demonstrate one by one that we knew how to do the roll.
“Roll away from the smoke!” The firemen would indicate where the fake smoke was coming from.
And we would have to get on the floor and roll down the hallway or the pavement, with our arms pressed against our sides.
And now I wonder if I am supposed to be teaching my children how to play, “Stop. Drop. And play dead” instead.
I watched the news the day of the Newtown shooting from my office. When I first saw word of the gun shooting online, it had estimated two dead. When I was leaving the office to grab lunch and passed by the TV, my heart dropped when I saw the revised numbers.
A few of my colleagues were standing with me and one of them said, “Yeah, just watch the gun control freaks have a field day with this one.”
My idea of field day is quite different than anything I saw in the news that day or in the following weeks about what happened in Newtown. See, having a field day involves doing things like a 50 yard dash or playing tug of war. Jumping towards a finish line in a potato sack.
It doesn’t involve children being slaughtered to death.
“It’s not guns that kill people!” my co-worker explained. “People kill people.”
Yeah. No shit, Sherlock. People kill people. Usually with guns.
Of course there are other weapons and other means to kill. But that doesn’t mean that anything has the power of an assault weapon of the caliber used in Newtown.
So call me a freak. But first call me an American.
I am an American. Born and raised on this soil, I am proud of my country. I’m a patriot. I love my country. Like most things I love, like my husband, my children, my family, my friends and even myself – I love my country, not with the false belief that it is perfect. I am under no illusions that my country is perfect.
A blind love is never a healthy love, you see.
Being a patriot to this country is not just in honoring those who fight in the name of this country. It’s not standing with a hand on my heart during the pledge or even the fact that I often cry during the National Anthem.
Being a patriot to this country also means acknowledging the imperfections that tarnish the soil that we love. It means acknowledging that what was done to the Native Americans in a quest to drive them away from their homes was a travesty. It means acknowledging the stains of our own intolerance in the Japanese internment camps that were a part of this land.
“This lands was made for you and me.” It’s a beautiful song. But it’s hardly one that we have always sung together.
Being an American patriot means acknowledging that slavery existed in this country even while the Founding Fathers were writing a document that we immortalize with reverence. There was a time when American fought against American in this land because of the difference in opinion that we could “own” the bodies of other men and women. Our fellow brothers and sisters. It means recognizing that segregation in this country existed until just a few decades ago.
So I’m an American. I love this country but I won’t ignore the flaws of our past and look at anything in our history or any document in our history as beyond questioning. As unquestionable or perfect in any way.
The Founding Fathers. They were mortals. They wrote the Constitution under the crushing pressure of trying to obtain freedom from England.
They were people who made mistakes. They were people who did not have a crystal ball. They were Renaissance men, the lot of them, yet they had no concept of things like the Industrial Revolution. They never imagined cars. They didn’t ever foresee large vessels that could fly across oceans in the air or do the same things in the deepest recesses of our oceans.
They never saw a television. They never saw a man walk on the moon. They never imagined the mass production and unethical means in which we would harvest our animals. They never had the internet. Or a phone. Or electricity.
They owned muskets. They had harpoons.
They never imagined gang wars. They never saw the technology that could create guns that could kill so many people so quickly. They never saw an AK-47 blow someone’s head off. They never imagined the number of civilian deaths, that would take place and grow each year on American soil
I will tell you one thing. They never imagined Columbine. They never imagined Newtown.
“Don’t take away my Second Amendment freedoms!”
Settle down. First of all, let’s stop looking at this as religious scripture. And stop attacking anyone who asks if guns should not be better regulated in this country. Well, if the laws we have are not enforced, then we don’t need more laws. We need enforcement and we need laws that make sense.
I feel like we are sitting at a critical juncture as a country. There will be another shooting. There might be another Newtown. There is just a sense of when, how, where? that I feel smothers us like a blanket.
I just want to know why I feel like the moment I question better regulation, people feel like their rights to own guns are being threatened? Hey, nobody’s saying you can’t hunt. Nobody’s saying you can’t own guns for self-defense. Heck, keep your arsenal for your hypothetical militia.
We have a problem here. An epidemic, if you will. Why is proper licensing of guns not considered acceptable? Why are more stringent licensing practices not being issued?
I keep hearing, “Well people will get guns without licenses!”
Probably. But it will be illegal and they should be penalized under the law. A person cannot legally drive in this country without getting a license. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t driving illegally every day. But that’s no excuse to stop overseeing it.
And why do we do that? Why do we require driver’s licenses? Because we like waiting online at the DMV? Because we like the way we look in the pictures? Does anyone actually like to go through the process of car inspections, vehicle registrations and wasting half a day at the DMV. Every stupid year? For every vehicle you own?
No. It’s a goddamn pain in the ass is what it is. But you do it. And it makes sense.
We do it because we know the power we hold behind the wheel. We know that we can kill, we can destroy, we can maim if we don’t know what we’re doing.
So why then? Why, why would we allow people to own guns without the appropriate training? Without appropriate documentation of what guns are where? And if it’s because we are going to talk about the people needing a way to raise a militia against the government, the people who are raging about wanting to have a right to raise a militia are usually the people I would NEVER want to see raise a militia.
That’s right. You people scare me.
I don’t know what will happen if I am at that gym in a middle of a workout and a gunman comes in raging. I haven’t thought through that yet. But I know that I think about my children every day. And my friends’ children. And my neighbors’ children.
And I’m not ready to teach them to stop, drop and play dead.
Something needs to change.