Tag Archives: travel

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!

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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.  


Denmark

My family has a wonderful “little” tradition that started in 2008 when my big sister, Caitlin, studied abroad in a little town in Hungry called Kecskemet. Our parents flew us all out to Hungary for the week of Thanksgiving so that we could visit her. Since then, every time one of the sisters studies abroad, we take the week of Thanksgiving to go visit them. In 2008 it was Hungary for Caitlin, 2009 was Spain for me, and this year was Denmark for KB*.

One of my hobbies is photography. Actually, I think photography is my only hobby. Oh, photography and crafts. But anyway, instead of writing a big long post about our trip, I figured I would show you in pictures. That’s the best way for you to see Denmark through my eyes anyway. I hope you enjoy them 🙂

Hamlet's Castle

Haribo gummies at the Christmas Market

Very interesting photo/butterfly exhibit at the Arkin - a modern art museum.

Super cute houses, boats, and Christmas Market 🙂

Our good friend, Hans Christian Anderson.

Tivoli, the inspiration for Disneyland!

I didn't go on any rides, but I loved this picture. I was messing with shutter speed.

Hand made Christmas ornaments at Tivoli (don't worry, we bought a few).

The Brady Bunch at Tivoli

The sisters ... aren't you jealous of my super cool hat?

Pookie and I at one of KB's favorite cafés

The cheese in Denmark was aaaaaamazing!

Pretty display of flowers - there are displays like this all over Copenhagen

Those are some of my favorites. I know there aren’t very many of people, but I generally like taking pictures of scenery and objects and flowers than of people (I always get the lighting all wrong on people).

*Note: KB is the name that Caitlin puts on her blog for one of our younger sisters. She and I discussed using the same pseudonyms for our blogs, with the exception of a few family members, so that we can maintain consistency. I will eventually do a post to introduce you to my family. It can get a little confusing. 
 
All the photos in this post are my own. Please let me know if you would like to use them. I love hearing comments (positive, or constructively critical) about my artwork.

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