Rachel Discovers Happiness

my life and road to happiness

Archive for the tag “family”

An Elegant Affair

This past weekend I finally got to go down to Southern California to visit my  big sister and stay at her pinspired apartment. Not only that, but I also had the honor of attending her best friend‘s wedding.

mehndi

The wedding was beautiful and Ayesha and E were absolutely stunning. I had never seen anything quite like this event and the only word that comes to mind is “wow.” They both wore traditional Bengali wedding outfits (I apologize for not knowing the correct words to describe the traditions, outfits, etc. but I will do my best) and most of the women in attendance wore beautiful saris. Ayesha’s hands were stained with mehndi – better known as henna in the US – and she wore the most stunning red sari and gold jewelry*.

the stunning bride

Throughout the night I got the opportunity to talk to E at dinner (he is one of the most intelligent people on this earth and just graduated with his masters, he is now looking for a job), dance to Bengali and American music (how those ladies of all ages were dancing so well in their saris I will never know, but I admire them), and generally admire the love that Ayesha and E have for each other and their new families. I won’t go in to all the details about the wedding because you should really read Ayesha and Caitlin’s posts about the event which I’m sure will be a lot more detailed than I can put into words; I will tell you, however, that I seriously felt so loved and blessed that Ayesha thought to invite me to her Bengali wedding.

To Ayesha, thank you so much for inviting me to attend such a magical night. You really did look absolutely beautiful and E looked wonderful in his elegant outfit as well. Seeing him dance with his brother was one of the highlights of my  night – it was so amazing to see how much fun they were having. I hope you enjoyed the night as much as I did. Can’t wait to read/hear about your thoughts now that the weddings are over and you officially get to start your new life. I already told Caitlin that you two (and Dev if she wants a break from med school!) need to find a weekend to come up and visit me in San Francisco so we can do a girls’ weekend together. I can’t wait ❤

Caitlin and Devery

*I tried to take pictures at the wedding but the lighting was very weird and I couldn’t figure out how to get the right color balance. Also, I gave up after a short period of time because I wanted to enjoy the wedding and take everything in without looking through the lens of my camera. I have it on good authority, however, that the photographer they hired is very talented and I’m sure she took some wonderful photos.

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Photo-A-Day 2012: Weeks 12, 13 & 14

Happy Tuesday!!

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 9

And, once again, I am late on my Friday “Photo-A-Day” post. Would you expect anything less?

On that note, I have decided that I will no longer limit myself to writing my Photo-A-Day posts on Fridays.. Instead, I will just say that it will happen during the weekend sometime. Maybe Friday, or Saturday… or even Sunday! You’ve just gotta have an open mind and read it when it comes 🙂

February 28 - it was a tough day so I stopped on my way home and got Oreos and peanut butter (don't pretend like you didn't try that and love it when the Lindsay Lohan Parent Trap came out)

February 29 - Happy Leap Day!

March 1 - I showed up at the office before anybody else did... it was eerily quiet

March 2 - I came home for the weekend so I met my dad at his office in Oakland so we could drive home together. Saw this on my walk from BART to his office building. Kind of cool.

March 3 - I was shopping today and there were flowers everywhere! This is just one of the many pictures I took as I was wandering around.

Anyway, I already told you I was home for the weekend (lots of stuff – seeing my dad and step mom, my little sister came home for spring break, my other little sister came home for dinner, I went to my cousin’s play, taking Pookie and my mom to see the apartment tomorrow….) but more on that later.

What plans did you have for this weekend? Were you going to try to accomplish anything big? Did you get done what you had planned? Did you get to relax a bit?

Not Another Cliché Leap Day Post

Happy Leap Day everyone!

I wasn’t going to write today, but I figure, since February 29 only comes around once every four years (as we are all well aware) I have to write because, well, not every day is Leap Day. Then I was going to write about the nostalgia of childhood because I’ve been feeling it lately, but that didn’t seem to be enough.

Morning bun from Starbucks trip #2 (see bottom of post for more details)

You see, today isn’t just Leap Day… today is my very dear Aunt Judy’s birthday. She would have been 56 (or 14) today had she not died from cancer 11 years ago. I miss her every day.

Aunt Judy was unique. I’m not talking the way we are each our own people and different in our own right simply by existing or having variances in our DNA or whatever; I mean that Aunt Judy was a really special and amazing human being. She genuinely cared for every person she came in contact with every day.

I wish I had a photo to share with you, but I don’t have any on my computer. She passed away before digital cameras were a “thing”.

She lived across the country so we only saw her once or twice a year when we went to visit her or she came out here to visit us, but those visits were full of exciting adventures and parties. Tea parties, beanie baby parties, scavenger hunts, pool parties, picnics – you name it, she made it incredible. She couldn’t have children of her own so she treated her nieces like princesses. She would have been a wonderful mother – her child would have been the luckiest kid in the entire world. Unfortunately, she never had that chance.

When my grandmother stood up at my aunt’s funeral and spoke about her daughter, it broke my heart. I couldn’t tell you what she said (I was a wreck and hardly remember anything that anybody said to me that day), but what I can tell you is that my grandparents’ hearts break every single day from the loss of their daughter.

beautiful leap image (via vi.sualize.us)

The past few days have reminded my family, in very real ways, how short life can be. Yesterday, my step mom got news that her step sister passed away from a bad case of pneumonia (sadly, my family members are no strangers to how devastating pneumonia can be – and how awful the ICU can be for months on end). Last night was the first time my step mom had ever heard her step dad cry. Talking to her about it this morning broke my heart.

No parent should ever have to bury a child – no matter how young or old that person is.

Losing people who are close to you really makes you value how important every single day is – sometimes things happen that really make us open our eyes and take a good hard look at the world around us and realize how incredible this world is. Sometimes those things are good (like getting an apartment and a job all in the same day), and sometimes those things are devastating (like losing a loved one – especially when their life is cut short by tragedy); What’s important, though, is that we don’t take life for granted and that we really appreciate everything that surrounds us.

That is why I have spent today being thankful that I have one more day – one extra day – to appreciate the people in my life. Even though it seemed like just any other Wednesday – I got up, went to work, stressed about deadlines, came home, ate dinner, and now I’m sitting in bed – it really was so much more than that. It was one more chance, 24 more hours, to hold my head high and live life the way my Aunt Judy lived it all 45 years of her life – with passion, excitement, love, and hope that I can (somehow) make the world a better place.

Of course, now I’ve turned my “Happy Leap Day” post into a rather sad post, but sometimes that just has to be done. Because I made this post so intense, here are some happier Leap Year thoughts to end you with:

Leap Year Fact #1: Did you know that, because we have Leap Years, the calendar year and the solar year are just about a half a minute off. At that rate, it takes 3,300 years for the calendar year and solar year to diverge by a day. That should help you sleep at night 😉

Leap Year Fact #2: A New Jersey woman and her daughter were both born on Leap Day. The odds of that are 2 million to 1. That’s pretty crazy, huh?

Leap Year Fact #3: All of us in my mom’s immediate family were born in Leap Years. Pretty crazy, huh? What are the chances of that? 

  • Piffy – 1952
  • Prey – 1956
  • Philo – 1980
  • MJD – 1984
  • Me – 1988
  • Pookie – 1992
  • MJ – 2008

(To see which name corresponds with which person, visit the Characters page)

Besides valuing the extra day, I celebrated in a few other ways as well:

First I went to Starbucks three times before noon. Can you say addicted?! (Soy latte, morning bun, and iced coffee with nutmeg…. YUM!)

Then the Cupcake Fairy came to work today – something that only happens once every 4 years – and we were all pretty excited.

Present from the Cupcake Fairy

And, as if today wasn’t unique enough, there were actually open seats on my bus ride home. That is unheard of at 5pm on a Wednesday in San Francisco.

Empty bus seats 🙂

How did you spend your Leap Day? Did you do anything special?

Effects of Empathy

Empathy is a wonderful quality. It allows you to really connect with others. It allows you to feel their emotions, understand where they are coming from, and really take relationships to the next step.

Of the qualities I value in myself, empathy is at the top of the list. I think I’m a good friend. I listen to people and genuinely understand where they are coming from. I am able to comfort people because I can honestly say that I know how they feel.

On the other hand, empathy is an awful emotion. It allows you to feel other people’s emotions.

Although I value my ability to empathize with others, sometimes it makes my life really difficult. Especially with negative emotions. When somebody is happy, it makes me happy too, but only to a certain extent. When somebody is sad, however, I feel those emotions much more intensely. If somebody is crying or upset about something, it physically makes my heart tighten. I feel like my chest is closing in, and often times I am able to hold myself together just as long as it takes for me to get out of their proximity before I break down in tears myself.

Yup, that’s right, I feel other people’s emotions so extremely that their tears bring me to tears.

The reason I am writing about this right now is because today, a family friend of mine passed away. I got an email from my step mom earlier in the day telling me that his mother found his body this morning. Although I have heard his name, I didn’t know him personally. He went to church with my step mom and my step sisters and he graduated from high school with my older sister. My step mom has nothing but nice things to say about his family. When she told me about his passing, I instantly replied, telling her that she had a huge hug waiting for her when she got home.

When she walked in the door at 7:45, that’s exactly what she got. A huge hug. My step mom is a big hugger so I’m used to her comforting arms, but this was a different hug. This time, I was the one supporting her. It felt like she was holding on to me and didn’t want to let go. She had tears streaming down her face. She was sobbing. And through the sobs she gasped “his mom found him with the needle still in her arm.”

My stomach dropped. My heart constricted. I didn’t know what to say.

I gave her one more squeeze and when she went over to my dad, I went to my room and broke down. I sat on the floor up against my bed, with tears streaming down my face, and cried. I cried for the lost life of somebody so young, for his family and friends, and for my step mom who I rarely see that upset.

She doesn’t know I cried. Most people don’t. (And shhhh, don’t tell her. Although being empathetic is difficult at times, like I said, it’s one of my favorite qualities in myself.)

As I was sitting there with tears streaming down my face, although my mind never went off of the young man and his family, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am that my family doesn’t struggle with things like hard drug addiction, drunk driving, or teen pregnancy (knock on wood… Pookie still has 8 months until she is officially out of the teen years).

Although we do have our struggles, we are pretty tight knit and support each other. We take care of each other, and make sure that we stay on the right track. This young man’s family did everything that mine would do in their situation, everything they could think of to try to help him through his addiction – rehab, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, praying, etc.

Through all of this, my mind has jumped from person to person who has passed away since my high school years. All of the young people I know who have died have been from one sort of substance abuse or another. I had a friend named Andy who died at 17 from drinking and driving. A boy a year or two older than me OD’d on oxycotton. A young man I graduated with was shot in a dispute over drugs. This makes me extremely sad.

What will it take for people to realize that doing those things doesn’t make you cool?  Calling your parents for a ride home won’t make them as mad at you as drinking, driving and killing somebody would. Shooting heroin won’t make people like you more – and if they do, you probably don’t really want to be hanging out with them in the first place. Selling drugs may be a good source of income, but it’s dangerous and you are contributing to issues in so many other people’s lives.

My step mom, kind of regretfully, told me that she kind of went off on her students today. She was crying and lectured them to never try drugs. Never get into those types things because they are dangerous. She told them that she didn’t want to go another funeral – that it was so painful to watch young people pass away when they had so much more life to live. That not only would they be hurting themselves when they tried things like drugs or drinking and driving, but they hurt their families and friends too. She was kind of sad that she lectured them like that – I think it is extremely important that she did. If even one kid chooses to say “no” because of that lecture, she has made a positive difference (as she does every day in the lives of her students).

Although empathy sometimes makes things difficult for me, I wouldn’t trade it for any other qualities (except, maybe, confidence…) My breakdown after that hug was painful, but it allowed me to look at my family and realized how blessed (or lucky, depending on your religious views) I am and how amazing my family and friends are.

My heart goes out to those who are affected by drugs and alcohol. What my step mom said to her students today is spot on – don’t even start with things like cocaine, heroin, etc. You aren’t just hurting yourself, you are hurting all those whose lives you have touched, and a bunch of people you didn’t even know you had an effect on.

As my step mom just said to me (literally, 3 seconds ago):

It really puts it into perspective that we get ourselves all worked up and nervous about things that really aren’t important.

And So It Begins

I feel as though everything in my life has been leading up to now. I’ve always had dreams for myself: go to college, live in a big city, have good relationships with my family members, get a great job, be proud of myself, be happy.

As of last week, I can finally say that I have accomplished all of those things thus far:

  • I graduated from college in June.
  • I have wonderful relationships with all four of my parents and all of my siblings, not to mention my extended family.
  • I signed the lease for an apartment in San Francisco.
  • I have an internship at a great company and I couldn’t be happier about it.
  • I am proud of myself and all I have accomplished – especially the apartment and internship, two things that happened last week.
  • I might not be as happy as I could be, but I’m working on it and all the things I just listed sure do help.

Of course, I haven’t officially moved in to my apartment (that happens this weekend) and I haven’t actually started my internship (I begin tomorrow), but man, I just feel like my life is really taking off!

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of things that I still want to accomplish in my life, but I am just now starting to feel like a real adult. All of my goals until now have been for my younger self. They were for the me that existed before 2012. The me that was focused on my profession, friends, and dreams. The 22-and-younger me only knew a life that consisted of classes, homework, papers, to and from campus, etc. etc. This new me, the 23-and-older me, has moved on from school, is entering the corporate world, and is ready for new challenges and experiences.

Now, even though it is only 8:20pm, I think I am going to go pick out my outfit for tomorrow, crawl in to bed, read a book, and get a good night’s sleep before my big day tomorrow.

San Francisco, I’m ready for you!

Happiness Project: Status Update: January

Wow, I have been epically failing on my schedule to post on at least one of my blogs every day. So, that means that I haven’t been doing well on at least one of my resolutions.

It doesn’t get better from there.

In January I was supposed to focus on my finances – making sure I didn’t spend frivolously, save money, etc. Welp, that didn’t quite happen.

Sorry Mr. Hamilton (image via: DreamsTime.com)

I did manage to save some money, but not as much as I’d hoped. Since I am entering into the work-world, I have had to drastically improve my business-professional clothing collection. It doesn’t help that I loooooove business-professional clothing and that every time I see a cute blazer, pencil skirt or pair of heels my wallet just jumps out of my purse, my credit card swipes itself on the little machine, and I can’t control my hand as it picks up the pen to sign my name on the receipt. It is completely out of my control!

Okay, so I might have a problem. But at least it’s a fun one!

In any case, as you can probably tell, January did not go the way it was supposed to.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I haven’t done well on some of my other goals. If you are a regular reader of my blog (as you should be, hehe) you know that I have taken a picture every single day of January and plan to continue that for the rest of the year. (You should value my dedication to this. It is an even bigger commitment than it would have been last year. Not only do you get to see 365 photos as you would any other year, you actually get 366 photos because it’s a leap year. Lucky you!)

Other things that I have succeeded in are as follows:

  • Eating healthier and spending less money at restaurants than I did before – this is made easier by living at home with my parents who do most to all of my grocery shopping, cooking, paying when we are out, etc.
  • Applying for a job/internship and setting up informational interviews with people who are in positions that I would like to be in some day
  • Spending more time with my parents and attempting to talk to my sisters as often as possible (I could probably do better on the sisters part)
  • Focusing on my friendships with my girl friends rather than getting wrapped up in boy drama (the year started out a little bit rocky, some minor frustrations, but that’s about it thus far)
  • Apartment searching
  • Not biting my nails – I am doing soooooo well on this. It has been something that I have had a problem with for my entire life – you wouldn’t have wanted to see how short my nails were. It was one of my nervous habits, and since I get stressed/anxious really easily, I was always biting my nails. It wasn’t just biting either, I would pick at them as well. Not a good habit. I have not bitten my nails in so long, I keep them painted, I have nail growth stuff, etc.
  • I have started taking vitamins on a regular basis (a multi-vitamin, biotin – for nails and hair, vitamin D and calcium)
  • I have put together a schedule for myself which has helped me manage stress, anxiety, and worry

Even though I haven’t made as much progress as I would have liked thus far, I am really looking forward to the rest of 2012. Normally I start a new year with low expectations – it is just part of my nature. In my attempt to be more optimistic and think more positively, I came into 2012 forcing myself to believe that this year would be better than the rest. So far, I’ve been right. Although it is difficult to change who I am and how I feel about certain things, I am trying my hardest and I think I will be a better person for it.

How ’bout you? What progress have you made with your resolutions and goals? Has your 2012 started out well? What are you looking to improve on this year?

Photo Progress

If you haven’t already figured this out from my Photo-A-Day posts, I love photography. It is one of the things in life that I actually admit to being at least semi good at. It makes me happy.

Aptos, California - September 2010

It’s actually kind of funny that I like photography and taking photographs because when I was younger I hated them. I was that obnoxious kid who covered her face or crawled under the table when my mom tried to take a picture of me. Yes, that’s right, I did say crawled under the table. Who does that?

photo shoot with Christine - May 2010

Anyway though, in high school all of that changed. I ended up dating a black and white photography class my sophomore year and loved it. I loved that I had a hand in every single aspect of the photography process – the shooting, developing, enlarging, fixing, and framing – I got to do it all. I think one of the reasons it was so great for me was because I had the opportunity to use my aunt’s old Canon SLR that she got in the ’70s from my grandparents. She had passed away a few years before that, when I was 12. Since then, whenever Grandma gives me something of my aunt’s, it makes me feel connected to her.

Photo shoot with Stephanie - Spring 2010 (makeshift studio with sheet and lamp)

That year I also bought my first digital camera. It was a Canon camera with a one inch screen. This was right when digital cameras were becoming mainstream, so it cost just about everything I had in my bank account. It took forever to take pictures, but I took it around with me everywhere my friends and I went. I have hundreds of pictures from that year.

Granada, Spain - October 2009

Over the past 10 years I’ve come a long way from just using a point and shoot digital camera. I still have my aunt’s old Manual SLR, but I have it in its case and hardly ever take it out. In college I wanted to take photo classes so I could continue with black and white film photography, but my university’s photo classes were too impacted. I don’t even know where I could go now to develop film and print photos.

Florence, Italy - December 2009

I am currently on my second Digital SLR (Canon – same as all the other cameras I’ve ever owned in my life), and I love it. I have had the opportunity to mess around with my camera, doing photo shoots of some of my best friends. I have gone out and taken pictures of the plants in my backyard, messed around with a macro lens, and love figuring out composition and lighting. This past summer I even had the opportunity to take a photography class with my mom and step dad in New Mexico. It was in that class that I really became one with my camera.

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico - July 2011

Since then I haven’t had the opportunity to take too many photos, but recently I was asked by a friend to take some pictures of her for an article she was interviewed for (more on this later). When I talked to the photo editor, he was very enthusiastic about my photographs; he even offered to pay me! It is very exciting to know that my photos will be used in a magazine. I am really looking forward to doing more photo shoots in the near future (if I could ever find the time – the one photo I take every day is about as much time as I have for photography right now).

Kaitlin's magazine shoot - January 2012

Yesterday, as I was compiling photos for my portfolio, I was going through pictures that I had archived on my external hard drive and I found the ones from my months of studying abroad in Spain. It was amazing to compare the pictures that I took then, to the pictures that I took now. My style has really evolved. It’s obvious that, back then, I didn’t know how to use the settings on my camera to their full capabilities.

Ghost Ranch, New Mexico - July 2011

Although I have come along way since then and I am a lot more confident in my abilities as a photographer, I still only qualify myself as a hobbyist. I have so many talented photographer friends, whose work blows mine out of the water, that it is hard to compare myself to them. I wish I could be as good as them, but for now, I’m just figuring things out on my own.

Beekeeping Class - Fall 2010

I don’t mind self teaching – sometimes I even think that’s the best way to learn how to do something. I’m that nerd who reads the manuals of every piece of electronic equipment I purchase. In doing this, I’ve discovered things about my cameras that I never would have figured out. In a way, it’s thrilling.

Sevilla, Spain - November 2009 (indoor, low light)

So yes, I want to take my photography to the next level, but will it happen right away? Probably not. I do, however, feel like things are taking a turn for the better. Hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised by something in my professional life/photographer future.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco - December 2010

Cross your fingers for me.

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 3

Hello again! How has your third week of the year been? I’ve gotta say, this is a pretty exciting time in the Bay Area, what with the 49ers in the playoffs and everything. (I’m the first to admit that I’m a very fair weather fan of the 49ers, mainly because I don’t watch professional football. But it’s still exciting when a Bay Area team makes it to any sort of playoffs!)

Anyway, here are my photos/Tweets for the third week of the year.

January 14 - got my hair cut and my hair dresser showed me how to curl it - I was shocked the curls stayed in!

January 15 - this little guy was posing for me as I took pictures of him from my car. Don't worry, I stopped my car, put it in park, and was in a gated community with no traffic.

January 16 - the shelves in our craft room/my office. My step mom and I finally found super cute storage containers at Tuesday Morning.

January 17 - my mom just got back from a trip to Cambodia with my step dad and some family friends. These are the scarves she bought there (20 scarves for $10!)

January 18 - the matches that I keep in a mason jar by the candle on my bedside table (idea courtesy of Pinterest). I thought they looked cool!

January 19 - I was craving popcorn all day so when I was at Target I decided to buy myself the individual, 100 calorie bags. A friend commented on my Instagram picture informing me that it was, in fact, national popcorn day! It was so fitting that I would have the popcorn craving.

January 20 - finally a bit of rain!! Hopefully it stays for a while.

Gosh, sorry about all the Golden Globes (and Madonna) Tweets! That was obviously a big part of my personal week. If you want to see a different side of me, check out my other blog: Rachel Helen. There are a lot of Tweets about SOPA – just because that was this week’s topic of conversation online what with the blackouts and everything – and other PR news from this past week.

It’s raining here (finally!) so the girls and I are planning on having a movie marathon tomorrow. Then Sunday we will be cheering on the 49ers as they take on the NY Giants! What do you plan on doing this weekend? Anything exciting?

In Defense of Toms

I can’t believe I haven’t posted in almost a week. How lame am I?! I couldn’t let this blog go untouched for an entire week and have two Friday Links posts in a row – that would just be pathetic.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but couldn’t really find the words (plus I wanted to take some photos for it). It’s about the shoe (and glasses) movement: Toms*.

If you aren’t familiar with Toms mission statement, it’s simple: One For One. With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need.

One of my Christmas presents from my mom was a pair of women’s “ash” Toms. Everybody I know has a pair of Toms. I liked the idea of receiving a pair of Toms for Christmas because not only can I wear them anywhere, but they are comfortable (oh so comfortable!), “cute” (I think the other benefits make them cuter than they would be otherwise) AND they help out kids who don’t have the means to purchase their own shoes.

I was so excited when I opened them, and my mom felt really good about gifting them to me. That is, until the first day I wore them in front of Philo. When I pointed out to my mom that I was wearing them, MJD piped in and mentioned that Toms are just about all his girlfriend wears – she likes how cute and comfortable they are. Then, Philo piped in… like he always does.

He started in on this rant about how Toms isn’t actually as great as everybody thinks it is. That the organization may help children, but actually harms the shoe producers and stores in the area that the shoes are handed out.

This is a habit of Philo’s that annoys us all, but have all learned to ignore. One of us says something and Philo jumps in with how we are wrong, then he informs us of the correct way to think about whatever situation we are talking about, and all of it is based off of some article that he read once. Eating meat? Humans are not built to consume meat, also, it’s not sustainable, also, you are consuming a carcass. (I’m sorry for that mental image, but imagine hearing that every time you eat meat) Donating to a charity? That charity isn’t as good as you think it is, the money doesn’t go where you think it does, plus, here is a list of all the vegan charities that actually make a difference in the lives of millions of people. Blah, blah, blah, blah… he goes on and on. Nobody else’s opinions are valid. He always finds a counter argument for everything we say. I could say that dogs like to be pet and wag their tails, and he would come up with a reason why I’m wrong.

Anyway, so this conversation thoroughly bothered the rest of us. When my mom and I got home, we sat down and did some research on Toms, their mission, and where the shoes go. I downloaded the Toms Giving Report and read it beginning to end, then saved it on my computer. I read blogs, articles, and opinion pieces on not only Toms, but other charities as well.

Page from the Toms Giving Report

My conclusion after all my research? Toms was about the best of the best as far as charities go. Your donation goes where they say it goes, and I can’t find anything to suggest otherwise. They aren’t asking you for money, they are asking you to purchase a pair of shoes for yourself so that you get something as well as the children you are helping. Children. NOT adults. Local shoe stores aren’t going out of business; Toms shoes go to children who wouldn’t be shopping at those shoe stores in the first place.

Shoes have value beyond being critical for physical health. Many schools in developing countries require shoes for attendance. And some soil-based diseases not only cause physical symptoms, but create cognitive impairment too, crippling a child’s long- term potential … Children who are healthy are more likely to be successful students, and access to education is a critical determinant of long-term success.

– Toms Giving Report

The shoes go to kids whose families don’t have the means to purchase shoes on their own. If the kids don’t have shoes, they aren’t able to go to school. If they aren’t able to go to school, they aren’t able to get an education. If they can’t get an education, they are less capable to pull their families and their countries above the poverty line. Toms makes sure that the shoes given to children follow their school’s dress code/uniform in order to ensure that the shoes accomplish what Toms wants them to. Toms also only makes shoes in sizes that are required by the children in need.

School children in Nairobi, Kenya wearing their Toms. (via: http://www.facebook.com/Toms)

Toms is not only giving these children shoes, Toms is giving them a future.

That might sound cheesy, but I firmly believe that it is true.

Toms gives shoes in places such as Argentina, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Zambia, to name a few. These locations aren’t picked at random. Toms and its affiliates do lots of research to make sure that the the children receiving the shoes are deserving and that the shoes will make a difference. Toms doesn’t use any child labor in the production of its shoes and the organization works with its partners around the world as well as businesses where the shoes are delivered whenever possible.

Recently, Toms has expanded from shoes to glasses. I guarantee there will be further expansion in the future. I’d keep my eyes open if I were you.

Anyway, I apologize for this rant. It just really frustrated me and I thought that I would share my thoughts with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

Have you done any research on Toms or other charities? Where are your favorite places to donate? Do you have any opinions that parallel Philo’s mentality?

*FYI: TOMS stands for “Shoes For a Better Tomorrow”

Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with Toms or any of its affiliates. The opinions stated in this post are 100% my own.  

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