Give a Little Bit

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tomorrow, April 9th, is Arizona Gives Day - a day to give back to our community by encouraging Arizonans to donate to charities, programs, groups, or any nonprofit organization in the state. You may make donations through the Arizona Gives' website or you can chose to donate to any local organization of your choice.  (Note: If you donate through the Arizona Gives' website, only 93.1% of your donation will go to the nonprofit, with the remaining 6.9% going to the expenses for hosting this event. Visit here for more details.) And, hey, if you're reading this and you aren't from Arizona, why not still give to a nonprofit in your community. Or, better yet, maybe give of yourself by volunteering for the day. No matter what you do, the day is about giving back - not because it is the holiday season or some tragedy happened in the world, but simply because it's April 9th, and you want to do your part, even if i'ts just a little bit, to help out people in your community.

For those in Arizona (and beyond, if you'd like to donate to one of our nonprofits), here are a few outstanding nonprofits that you might consider donating to:

Mission of Mercy
This faith-based health care clinic actually started in Pennsylvania in 1994, but has expanded into other states, including Maryland, Texas, and Arizona. It provides free health care, dental care and free prescription medications to the uninsured, under-insured, and those who have "fallen through the cracks" in our health care system. They are a great asset to our community and do amazing things to help people who are in need. To read more about Mission of Mercy or to donate, click here.

Gabriel's Angels
A pet-therapy program for at-risk children, whose mission is to heal children, nurture their emotional development and enhance the quality of their lives. Their philosophy is simply and heartwarming: "Our work is driven by a passionate belief that the unconditional love of a dog can heal a child." To read more about Gabriel's Angels or to donate, click here.

Rosie's House
Founded in 1996 by Rosebell and Woody Schurz, Rosie's House is a music academy for children in inner-city Phoenix. The academy offers free music training for children between the ages of 5-18 in the areas of strings, woodwinds, brass, guitar, piano an voice. To read more about Rosie's House or to donate, click here.

PSA Art Awakenings
This program - born out of PSA (People Service Action) Behavioral Health Agency - offers a safe, supportive environment for adults and children who have behavioral health challenges to explore and develop their artistic skills. It promotes empowerment and recovery through the power of creative expression. There are several "studios" throughout the state where they offer instruction in visual art, poetry, storytelling, music, movement and drama, in addition to pre-job training and education. To read more about PSA Art Awakenings or to donate, click here.

Soldier's Best Friend
Another pet-therapy program, but this time for military veterans who are suffering from PTSD or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Their mission is to "help our war heroes improve in their symptoms of PTSD, adjust back to civilian life, lead a more productive life and help them build self esteem. [They] also want to help the pet overpopulation problem by helping place shelter or rescue dogs into good homes." To read more about Soldier's Best Friend or to donate, click here.

Fresh Start Women's Foundation
As their website state's, Fresh Start is dedicated to helping women help themselves. It is a nonprofit that focuses on women empowering themselves and transforming their lives through engagement and education. They offer counseling, mentoring, education, career services, legal services, child watch, an e-learning center and personal development services. To read more about Fresh Start Women's Foundation or to donate, click here.

These are just a small sampling of the nonprofits in Arizona, and an even smaller pool of what's available nationwide. I could create a list that goes on and on of the large and small organizations that are worthwhile to donate to, but for the time being - tomorrow specifically - lets focus locally on how we an help our communities. Even if you give just $5 tomorrow, or the next day, or a month from now, or if perhaps you just decide, hey, I'll check out some volunteer opportunities, know that every dollar counts and every effort, no matter how large or small, significant or insignificant you may think it is, will make a difference.

So, go forth and give!

Lean Out Before Leaning In

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Clockwise: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Secretary of State
Condolezza Rice; Madonna; Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg:
Malala Yousafza; Venus Williams.
“Lean In” Sheryl Sandberg tells us. “Don’t be afraid to take a seat at the table.” “We must raise both the ceiling and the floor.” These are just a few of the feminist mantras that have made waves over the last year – thanks in part to Ms. Sandberg and her predecessors, who've paved a path of empowerment for women in the workplace and in the world. To many, these phrases may just be sound bites that have found their way onto numerous Facebook posts or Pinterest boards, but for others, they represent the building blocks of a revamped feminist philosophy.

Despite the bravado and progressive angle behind these sentiments, there are implied limitations that have been and continue to be debated. If you do a quick Google search for Sheryl Sandberg or her book Lean In, you’ll get the requisite results that lead to bios, interviews and overviews about both Ms. Sandberg and her book and her most recent campaign to “ban bossy.” But as you start to dig deeper, you’ll see links to stories, posts, and opinion pieces that start to deconstruct and criticize what Ms. Sandberg is saying – her point of view, her advice, and her efforts to create a dialog for people to discuss feminist topics. In fact, if you search “Sheryl Sandberg controversy” you’ll get about 220,000 hits, and when you search “Lean In controversy” you get over 17 million.  Obviously, from a positive viewpoint, this means that Ms. Sandbergs’ book really hit a nerve with people – good and bad – and prompted discussions about women and leadership. However, those results also show that even though women in many parts of the world have made leaps and bounds in gaining leadership positions in the workforce and in society, there is still a lot of trepidation and concern about how women should achieve that.

The biggest criticism lodged at Ms. Sandberg and her feminist decree is that what she is preaching doesn’t apply to all women – that it is unrealistic and elitist. The arguments claim that women of lower income brackets – like many single moms, under-educated women, and minority women – don’t necessarily have the resources available to them to make their way into that corner office. And while that argument is very valid, it misses the underlying point Lean In is trying to make – that to bolster women’s ability to lead in life and work, there must be support and encouragement from not only men but also other women. And it is that collaboration among women that seems to be the Achilles heel to achieving equality between the sexes. Women must begin to embrace, empower and embolden each other instead of finding ways to disparage other women for how they look or act, what they say, or how they live their lives. Even more importantly, women should stop self-criticizing and placing unimaginable and unattainable expectations on themselves. Only then can women begin to lead the way in changing stereotypes, in demanding equality, and in reimagining and redefining their role in society.

And, so, how do we do this? How do we break the dichotomous cycle of supporting other women, while simultaneously undermining any success they might achieve?

We begin by equally loving and promoting the courage and dedication of young girls like Malala Yousafza alongside the creative and independent spirit of young women like Miley Cyrus. We begin to find strength and sustenance in women leaders like Gabrielle Giffords, Condolezza Rice, Hilary Clinton, Madeline Albright, Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde – not because of their politics or the way they dress or act, but because they are women who dreamed, achieved, and inspired. And, rightly so, we must also open our hearts and minds to women who are leaders in other arenas, who rouse us to never hold back, never shrink away, and to connect with our femininity and embrace it – women like Madonna, Oprah, Venus Williams, actress Jennifer Lawrence, and maybe, just maybe, even reality star Kim Kardashian.

It doesn’t seem like an easy task – especially when it’s tempting to let our own insecurities, doubts, stereotypes, and subconscious societal viewpoints get in our way. But all of these women, and so many more that are in and out of the spotlight, provide varying degrees of what it means to be a woman leader today. Instead of focusing on our differences, let us begin to focus on our similarities – how each woman, in her own way, rewrites the rules and reshapes the image of what it means to be a 21st century woman.

And finally, we must begin to open our minds and our hearts to the women in our own small world – the stay-at-home moms, the housewives, the working moms, the single moms, the childless married women, the single gals, and all the other types of women that make up our world. We must begin to accept them as equal to us and to hold off on judgments, opinions, and perceptions on their choices and their beliefs. Extending support, friendship, and acceptance are the greatest gifts women can give each other. And even more importantly, those gifts provide a healthy and aspiring example for the young girls and women in our lives.

I believe the key to achieving a kind of feminism that embraces diversity and liberation is what Sheryl Sandberg emphatically states in the last chapter of Lean In: “Because feminism wasn’t supposed to make us feel guilty, or prod us into constant competitions over who is raising children better, organizing more cooperative marriages, or getting less sleep. It was supposed to make us free – to give us not only choices but the ability to make these choices without constantly feeling that we’d somehow gotten it wrong.” (167). Ultimately, women must begin to not only “lean in” to the potential they have, but they must also “lean out” of their own circles of perceptions and expectations, and begin to embrace all women and all the experiences, values, opinions and perceptions that they offer. Only then will women be able to truly find an equal footing, an equal standing, and an equal seat in society.

A New Day. A New Blog.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

So, I've been struggling for the last six months with what to do with my beloved (beloved by me, at least) Bargain Chic blog. I've been posting sporadically since 2007 and have had fun scouring the web for fashions on a budget and presenting them to my small but loyal blog followers here. But now -- especially after taking a year hiatus from the blog to finish up grad school -- I am trying to figure out how to transition the blog into something more than what it currently encompasses. I still want to write about fashion and style and bargains, but I also want to write about other important topics in my life and in my community and in the world, as well as share things I find inspirational and fun.

With all that being said, I'm in the process, yet again (see Dec. 12, 2011 post), to reinvent this blog into something more personal, yet more inclusive (is that even possible?) -- to drawn people in not just to the images of affordable fashion, but to my ideas, my thoughts, and my creativity.

In the meantime, I'll be ruminating the path I'd like to take, perhaps posting things not related to anything I typically post on here and potentially pondering a turnover to my personal website's blog: Right now that blog parrots some of the posts here, but I may begin posting various musing just to that blog. I've been working on that website for sometime now and am using it as a way to showcase some of my other "talents."  Feel free to peruse the website and let me know what you think of it.

Ultimately, I hope you will stay with me on this journey and continue to read my posts and comment on them. I welcome and appreciate any feedback you'd like to give (new blog name, blog format and design, blog topics, etc.). You can leave a comment on this post, or you can email me directly at

Thank you!

P.S. Here's a little inspiration to get us all going for a new day of opportunities and dreams.


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Words to Inspire

"One cannot consent to creep when one has an impulse to soar." ~Helen Keller