18 years. It’s been that long since I was diagnosed, and treated, for breast cancer (hear my story). That equals 18 years of pink laden products and 18 Breast Cancer Awareness Octobers, each one progressively easier to bear as time distances me from the diagnosis and subsequent bilateral mastectomy.
This is not an experience I wish on anyone, let alone a just-turned 30-year-old with a 4 year old and 9 month old in tow. But. It was unavoidable, and I’m thankful that 18 years later I’m healthy and cancer free.
I’m re-sharing a blog post I wrote a few years ago regarding pink-washing and the support of breast cancer research. Want to share your cancer journey? Please feel free to comment below - I'm here to support you!
You've heard me talk before about weeding through the closets and files to simplify and prioritize. Maybe you have way more shoes than nooks and crannies to hide them. Perhaps the craft supply closet is turning into a guest bedroom for scrapbook paper and yarn.
Today, however, we're talking about setting priorities in the kitchen. How many times have you thrown out food from the fridge? Do you grocery shop with a purpose - a list - or just throw random ingredients into the cart, hoping a menu will magically materialize each evening?
Beth Moncel of Budget Byte$ reminds us that our efforts should not stop at the shoe rack or craft closet. We need to think more purposefully about what we're putting in our cart and making for our plates. But we also need to take it a step further and think about the empty plates that exist across the country (and the world), and Moncel shares more about Feeding America - and how it can help us clarify our food priorities while doing some good.
I’m so impressed with the multi-faceted approach that Feeding America takes to reduce food waste, while putting nutritious meals on the table for millions of Americans.
Volunteer – Even if you don’t have any dollars to give, you can still make a difference! Volunteer work is a crucial piece of the puzzle. Volunteering offers the added benefit of helping you connect on a personal level with people in your community—something that is becoming more and more difficult to do in our digital society.
Keep reading more from Beth Moncel, including her thoughts on sticking to a grocery budget while still making some amazing meals, and some of her favorite recipes!
We have all probably had those days - kindness seemed too scarce and cranky pants seemed too plentiful. And what we all really long for is more of the first - kindness. This is Random Acts of Kindness Week, and according to research, being kind to others is actually a way of giving back to yourself.
When we talk random acts of kindness, we don't need to park a new car in the neighbor's driveway as a surprise. Think about those things I talk about living simply and living well - decluttering excess to bring out the really valuable things in our lives. Same goes for kindness - simple is powerful. Try one (or more!) of these easy and inexpensive ways to share random acts of kindness this week!
Here it is October already, and for the first time in years I didn't go into the month dreading it. Dreading it because for all of the wonderful awareness it raises for breast cancer, it is the in-your-face reminder of my own story. I am a breast cancer survivor.
October will always represent something to me other than just the start of fall or the precipice of the holiday madness. And as I learn to navigate through my own personal demons and triumphs with this month, I still hold true to my aversion to Pink Washing. Don't just buy the pink hype, people.
What is Pink Washing? Check out the excerpt from my blog post from 2014 to learn more - and how you can avoid the hype.
*sigh* October is probably my least favorite month. Nothing to do with the shorter days or colder temps, but more the arrival of "everything pink" in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Am I anti- Breast Cancer Awareness? Quite the contrary - I've had my own journey with Breast Cancer and am a proud 15 year survivor (hear my story). Seeing my daughter's volleyball team wearing pink during their games, or the ladies at Choice Therapy in pink makes me feel loved and supported as a survivor. My issue is the companies who wash their products and marketing in pink, but don't actually support Breast Cancer research, or do so in very small percentages while reaping the benefits of increased sales.
For example, the Oriental Trading Company sells loads of pink Breast Cancer Awareness products, but not a single cent goes towards Breast Cancer research. In 2010 Dansko (who's shoes I LOVE) rolled out a "pink ribbon" clog. They donated $25000 to Susan G. Komen before the clogs even hit the market - and weren't donating any more regardless of how many pairs of clogs sold. And the NFL - don't even get me started:( [Keep reading the rest at my previous blog post.]
While not directly related to organizing skills, most of my clients find it easier to part with their things if they know those items are able to be used by someone in need. To help clients identify what this means to each of them I've become somewhat of a "donation expert" in my region. To facilitate this, I’ve invested time into researching what goes on behind the scenes in various charities, local and otherwise.
The book Charity Detox by Robert D. Lupton caught my attention because the author’s message regarding charitable donation programs mirrors my belief that clients must be invested in some way during the organizing process or they won't get anything out of it. It brings to mind the quote, "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for life" (Maimonides). In order to really embrace donating, it has to be about more than getting rid of stuff. It has to be about self-sufficiency while connecting with the donation resource.
Yes- it makes us feel good to give – reaching out to those in need, whether with our money, our things, and/or our time. Lupton draws from over 40 years of urban ministry activism to break down how current charitable giving tends to focus on doing for, rather than with, the recipient in need, and how this cannot lead to lasting change or self-sufficiency. Much like setting up an organizing system for a client, instead of with them, doesn’t always insure the client will be able to achieve self-sufficiency with the system. There are many parallels between the steps to successful charitable giving and the transference of organizational skills.
The author points out that sound business principles are also good principles for responsible charitable investing, and that top down charity focused on what benefits the giver versus the needs of the receiver seldom result in success. It’s about building relationships and committing to measuring outcomes (self-sufficiency for example) instead of the busyness of “doing” as measures of success.
My favorite quote in the book is, “The poor, no matter how destitute, have enormous untapped capacity. Find it, be inspired by it, and build upon it.” My clients also have untapped capacity, and it’s my job to find it, be inspired by it, and help them build upon it!
Lupton looks at charitable giving programs from a Christian/ministry perspective, yet I also found that the underlying message of addressing the basic needs of humanity in a way that valued both the giver and the receiver spoke loudly to the “donation expert” in me.
If you need some resources for donating - whether it is to donate a bra or an entire estate, give me a call! I'll not only help you find the right charity, but help you learn to connect with your donating process, too.
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Tammy Schotzko is a Certified Professional Organizer who