Ten Thousand Villages (+ Giveaway!)

I got a little gift in the mail this week and I want to share it with you (both literally and figuratively). Ten Thousand Villages asked me to tell you about their personal accessories (earrings, necklaces, bracelets, scarves etc.), which I’m happy to do.

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair trade retailer (the oldest and largest in North America) that sells personal accessories, home decor and gift items made by artisans from around the world. Here’s their mission:

Ten Thousand Villages creates opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.

I’ve been a Ten Thousand Villages customer for a long time (as have many members of my family) and I have several pieces of their jewellery. Here are some of my favourite accessories from their current collection, including their 2014 holiday guide.

Summer rain necklace 

summer-rain-necklace

Twisted silver cufftwisted-silver-cuff

Stony garden bracelet

stony-garden-bracelet

Starlight splendour ring

starlight-splendour-ring

Silver moon scarfsilver-moon-scarf

River rocks scarf

river-rocks-scarf

Planet cluster necklace

planet-cluster-necklace

Hoopy loopy necklace

hoopy-loopy-necklace

Forest floor earrings

forest-floor-earrings

Falling leaves earrings

falling-leaves-earrings

Crimson scarfcrimson-scarf

Want a piece of Ten Thousand Villages jewellery for your own? I’m going to give away one of these gentle forest bangles, which features hand-hammered embossed leaves on silver-plated metal.

gentle-forest-bangle

To enter this Ten Thousand Villages giveaway and maybe score yourself a little early Christmas present, complete the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Postpartum Progress: 10 Years of Magic

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy. But remember this – you have friends here. You’re not alone.”

- Dumbledore in Harry Potter

postpartumprogress10

This week, a group of Warrior Moms and bloggers is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Postpartum Progress. I’ve written about the site and its founder, Katherine Stone, before, because this site, and by extension Katherine, was an integral part of recovering from my experience with postpartum depression. It wasn’t the first source of help I found, but it was one of the most important.

Looking at things now, as we celebrate this milestone anniversary and all Katherine has done, it’s perfectly clear to me: Katherine Stone is basically Dumbledore.Katherine Stone compared to Dumbledore

This is no simple comparison. She’s not merely magic (though certainly there is an element of the magical about her). Like Dumbledore, Katherine isn’t afraid to say it like it is while at the same time providing much-needed reassurance.

The struggle with PPD (and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders) is a dark time in any new mom’s life. Time and time again I’ve seen Katherine reach out to a new mom and acknowledge her experience, saying Yes, this is a horrible thing. It feels dark, and it will continue to be difficult for a little while yet. But you are not alone.

There’s a reason Katherine refers to struggling moms as Warrior Moms. Fighting PMADs is tough, and it involves choices that are sometimes difficult and definitely not always easy.

It would be easy (relatively speaking) to ignore your distress and try to carry on. I tried that and it didn’t work. It wasn’t the right choice.

It would be easy to choose blind trust that a small, white (or orange or blue) pill will make everything better without doing any of the hard work that must go with it.  That was another choice I made that was the easy, but not the right, path.

It was when I finally realized I wasn’t alone and that I did, in fact, have friends in that dark place that the hard choice to fight became easier.

These are more words of Dumbledore’s that I find inspiring, and that I think link him to Katherine and her work with Postpartum Progress:

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Katherine, thank you for being the source of that light for so many. Congratulations on 10 years.

Things I Learned as Campaign Volunteer

The election in Calgary is over and I can’t say I’m sorry. The amount of vitriol spewed, on social media especially, was disheartening for this campaign newbie to see.

I volunteered (for the first time) with two campaigns – the campaign to re-elect Mayor Naheed Nenshi, and with my friend Misty Hamel’s campaign when she decided to run for public school board trustee. During this process I’ve learned a lot of  things that are relevant to both politics and life. (Maybe mostly the latter… Let me know what you think after reading this.) Here are five of those things:

1. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and do it. 

The conversation about Misty running started months ago, but for a variety of personal reasons she only committed right before the nomination deadline. Despite running against an incumbent and someone who had been campaigning for years (who had connections and a significantly bigger bank account than we did), Misty dove head first into her campaign. She got the required signatures in two days, submitted her nomination papers, and bravely stood before the media to declare her candidacy. And then she started studying. She read stuff she needed to in order to be completely up to date on the issues, she learned more about the wards she would be representing, and she unabashedly joined the conversation. I’ve told her more than once that I couldn’t have done it, and I’m not just blowing smoke. I greatly admire how passionately and thoroughly she approached this endeavour.baby on the campaign trail

2. Everyone can contribute something.

Our group of friends includes those who are politically involved and savvy and those for whom the idea of door knocking incites tremendous fear, and yet no one hesitated to help out. We had people creating websites and Facebook pages, distributing flyers, and writing campaign material. Others repeatedly put the message out to their networks and went door knocking with Misty. People helped her prep for the candidates’ forum and went with her to provide moral support. The lesson: You don’t have to be politically savvy (or even interested) to be part of doing something good for your community.

3. Talk to people on social media like you would talk to them in real life. 

I am astonished, truly ASTONISHED, at the way some people talk to others on social media. Because Misty was an unknown with many great qualifications that happen not to include a background in education, certain people felt she was fair game. And those who supported her were called everything from stupid, liars, and cowards (for stating things that are true and publicly available in meeting minutes, no less) to “mean mommy bloggers.” They’re hiding behind screens and I dare them to say that to our faces. I doubt they would, but nevertheless if my children, years from now, saw my comments on social media I would want them to be proud of how I represented myself.

delivering campaign flyers4. Politics is about people, not politicians. 

I learned this on my first night of being involved in Nenshi’s campaign. He has a reputation as being a person more than a politician, and nothing I saw in supporting him suggested that wasn’t true (or that it was just for show). There are many ways we can inspire people, and being involved in a political campaign is no different. Remember the people. Treat them like people. It’s not that complicated.

The other thing about being involved with Misty’s campaign is that I got to work as a team with some women I love and admire and, politics aside, that was a really positive experience.

5. Whether you win or lose, you can still change the conversation. 

Nenshi won, Misty didn’t, but they both changed the conversation. Nenshi has been doing it for years, but Misty did it in under a month. She raised some valid points about the system she wants to be a part of and she challenged her opponents on things that matter. They both did it with humanity and heart.

And, after all, isn’t that what life is actually about?

This Post is Not About Politics

A few weeks ago, on impulse, I signed up to volunteer for our city mayor’s re-election campaign.

I am not a political person. I swear loyalty to no particular political party. I dry-heave in my Shreddies hearing political rhetoric (and when, three or so jobs ago, I had to write some of it, I felt as though I had sold a piece of my soul). I have worked for two levels of government (federal and provincial) and I can almost certainly say never again. I always vote, though, except when I’m not allowed to.

Not long after we moved to Calgary there was a provincial election in Alberta. We weren’t eligible to vote at that point and, having just left a provincial government job in another province that exposed me to some choice bureaucracy, I was sort of glad, and chose to pay little attention.

We continued to settle in a new city and I started to hear more and more about Calgary’s mayor. Not a typical politician, Naheed Nenshi is logical and smart and frank and funny. He’s great on Twitter and he responds to completely ridiculous questions with completely awesome answers. And he did a great job during the floods.

Even so, my choice to get involved in his re-election campaign was not especially well thought out. Tonight, as I rushed around trying to finish dinner and get a baby to sleep and make myself look somewhat presentable after a very, very hot day so I could go to a volunteer orientation session, I had a moment of wondering if I was crazy. I’m going back to work in a month. Do I really need to do volunteer for a political campaign?

It turns out I do. But it’s not because he needs the help.

re-elect Naheed Nenshi sign

At the beginning of the orientation session, Mayor Nenshi talked a little bit about why he thinks this election matters. He is pretty much uncontested at this point, so why campaign at all? Why not just wait for election day and do a happy dance then? Because you should never take anything for granted, he said. Because the city matters. Because we have an opportunity to create an even better community.

I sat and listened as Nenshi talked about hard work and long history and standing up against intolerance. He talked about pride and passion and a little bit about politics, but what he had to say really wasn’t about politics at all. It was about community.

And that’s why I’m volunteering for this campaign.

Calgary has always felt like home to me, even though the time I’ve lived outside this city far exceeds the time I’ve lived in it. When people ask us if we miss Victoria, Rich wavers a little bit but I’m a solid no. I lived there for most of my life but it’s not where I’m meant to be anymore.

I volunteered because I want to be inspired. I want to be part of something. Tonight I was both.

I also volunteered because I believe it will give me the opportunity to help make this community I’ve come to love, and which I’m so grateful to be living in, even better than it is today. And I there’s really nothing at all political about it.

 

How to Pimp Your Blog

A heads up (for bloggers mostly) that I’ve got a post up on the Sverve blog called Pimp My Blog. Come visit!

How to Create a Sharing Community for Your Blog