Lizzloves's Blog

Spreading love and sisterhood…

LizzLoves Breast Cancer Charities October 30, 2013

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This month, it’s likely that you have been bombarded with events, products and requests for donations from several organizations, especially the biggest ones, Susan G. Komen and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. But before this month is over, I’d like to put the spotlight on a few smaller organizations that are making a difference and deserve your support. DailyWorth recently put together a great round-up of 8 breast cancer charities that you may not know. Here are a few of them:

  • Living Beyond Breast Cancer: Founded by radiation oncologist Marisa C. Weiss, M.D., this organization provides education and support to breast cancer fighters and survivors. LBBC’s outreach includes patients’ family members, friends and health care providers.
  • My Hope Chest: Alisa Savoretti, a breast cancer survivor, knows firsthand how daunting the cost of breast reconstruction can be. In order address the needs of uninsured or underprivileged women who cannot afford the surgery, Savoretti started this organization to help pay for their procedures.
  • Young Survival Coalition: This organization caters to those who are diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, with the awareness of their unique challenges of higher mortality rates, fertility issues and early menopause. This one hit home for me since I have two young women in my life who were diagnosed this year (and they both kicked cancer’s butt!).
  • Casting for Recovery: Using nature retreats (that include fly fishing) as a healing tool, CFR brings cancer patients to the outdoors for exercise and support from fellow fighters through group discussions and spiritual connection.

Hats off to these small organizations that are finding specialized ways to support fighters and survivors. To read about some more organizations on DailyWorth’s list, click here for the full article, “8 Great Little-Known Breast Cancer Charities.”

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LizzLoves Aqua Modesta August 14, 2013

Photo courtesy of Aqua Modesta

Last week, I was reading a book on the beach when, behind me in the distance, I could hear a large group of people approaching. I could hear the bubbly voices of a handful of older women, mostly drowned out by the happy shrieks from several children of many ages. When they finally came into view, I saw that there were four Muslim women, smiling despite the many bundles and supplies they were carrying, and about seven children.

 

All of the women were wearing hijabs (headscarves) and long sleeves. As I watched the ladies unpack and settle in, I thought to myself, “Oh man, what a shame that they don’t get to feel the sun on their skin and hair…” Well, of course, that was a silly way to think of it. There is plenty to enjoy about the beach without letting it all hang out in a teensy bikini—from the ocean views and salty breeze to wiggling toes in the sand.

 

But for one of the women, the fun didn’t stop there. I was so impressed when I discovered that one of the women (who also appeared to be the matriarch) was wearing a full coverage bathing suit—it included a headscarf, leggings, and a swim dress with long sleeves…all in bathing suit material!

 

This moment of awesomeness reminded me of a story I heard on WNYC radio about a year ago about religiously conservative women (such as Muslims and Orthodox Jews) who were struggling to find places where they could work out in the privacy of an all-women environment. The journalist, Arun Venugopal, interviewed several women, including Regina Tessone, an FIT graduate and Orthodox Jew who founded Aqua Modesta, a line of swimwear to “help women feel more comfortable in mixed-sex settings.”

 

However, because the style differed from Aqua Modesta, I think the swimsuit on the woman I saw on the beach was most likely from another swimwear line I found, Primo Moda. I also think that one of the pre-teen girls in their family might have been wearing something from another line called Simply Modest, which features swimshirts and leggings.

 

I really do love that Regina Tessone and other women like her are finding ways to help their sisters enjoy swimming and sports, while still maintaining their comfort level and religious practices! Brava!

 

LizzLoves Surf With Amigas June 26, 2013

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The other day I spent an evening on the beach at the Jersey Shore, wiggling my toes in the sand and taking in the sights, particularly the wetsuit-clad surfers who were braving the chilly waters. Suddenly in the distance I saw another surfer join the wave riders. From afar, I could see the figure was much smaller than the other surfers and the surfboard was almost twice the size of the person.

As they got closer, I realized…it was a woman! I was so excited, I stayed to cheer her on (in my head, at least!). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see her catch a wave before I had to leave, but I was giddy watching a girl holding court among the guys.

That surfer girl made me recall a very cool woman, Holly Beck, who I saw on episode of HGTV’s “House Hunters International.” Holly, a former pro surfer, was searching for a place to launch her dream of starting a surfing school in Nicaragua, especially for women. She knows, first hand, that it can be tough as a woman on the waves. As a kid, Holly was told that surfing was for boys, so it’s a good thing she didn’t listen. She now makes it her business, literally, to inspire women to hang ten with confidence and a sense of adventure. Now the school, Surf With Amigas, is so successful that they’ve even expanded to offering retreats in El Salvador and the Philippines.  As part of their program, SWA also offers yoga, local outings, hikes, and, most importantly, a unique sense of supportive sisterhood.

If you’re not up for a trip to Nicaragua, then there are a few other awesome women-run, women-focused surf schools out there, like Surf Diva (California & Costa Rica) and Las Olas Surf Safaris (Mexico). Surf’s up, ladies!

 

LizzLoves Kangu April 4, 2013

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Think about the last time you made a donation to a charity. What motivated you to reach for your credit card? For me, I have to feel like I’m part of something, of effecting change, in very personal way. One of my new favorite charities for that type of buy-in is Kangu.

This nonprofit uses a combination of old school (i.e. Save the Children) and new school (crowdfunding) tools to support women in developing countries to have pregnancies, births and newborn babies that are safe and healthy. According to Kangu’s site, “It has been shown that 80% of maternal mortality can be avoided if a woman is given access to the basic healthcare services our partners offer.”

Founders Casey Santiago and Tricia Morente (both Columbia Business School MBAs and grads of the Masters program for International Affairs at Columbia), designed this program to allow donors to have a tangible and more intimate connection with the women they are supporting. The way it works is:

  1. You search Kangu’s collection of mothers from across the globe who need help to find the “mama” you want to fund.
  2. Once you choose her, you begin to make monthly contributions to fund her safe pregnancy by giving her quality healthcare.
  3. Your contribution ensures the chance for a safe birth for her baby

I love that Kangu’s team is not only making efforts to solve this issue, but also that they discovered an innovative way to engage their donors/supporters in a uniquely personal way. I look forward to finding a “mama” to connect with so that she can experience the joy and security of having a healthy pregnancy and future child.

 

LizzLoves Cook For Your Life November 26, 2012

cookforyourlife.orgAs I feasted on my 3rd installment of Thanksgiving leftovers tonight, I was thankful for the mix of flavors, from the tangy sweetness of cranberry sauce to the salty, peppery meat stuffing. This year, however, I had to be extra grateful for something simple: the ability to taste.

Lately, taste and the ability to enjoy food has been on my mind a lot. As a bit of a foodie, I can’t imagine what it would be like to suddenly lose my sense of taste or to not be excited about a delicious meal. Unfortunately, that’s what my very best friend in the world, who is fighting breast cancer, has been going through. As if chemotherapy didn’t already suck, one of the crappy side effects can be a loss or change in your ability to taste. Imagine having a strong craving and then when you get that supposedly yummy item…it tastes weird, awful, or worse, like nothing?

Well, Ann Ogden, founder of the nonprofit, Cook For Your Life, knows a lot about how that feels. As a cook, Ann loves food, but as a two-time cancer survivor, she also knows what it’s like to have chemo give your taste buds a one-two punch. As she told DailyWorth, “After recovering from treatment, I started to crave hot, spicy foods to knock the taste of chemo out of my mouth: Indian, Korean, Mexican.”

So, Ann found healthy and delicious ways to work with her struggling taste buds during chemo. But that wasn’t enough. She realized that there must be people everywhere who shared a need for this culinary comfort, and she wanted to pass it on. Ann left behind a career in the fashion industry to launch her site, Cook For Your Life, which teaches healthy cooking to people touched by cancer. The recipe search gives options for people who are going through chemotherapy and radiation, and even gives some food remedies for combatting symptoms like nausea and fatigue.

I hope that I can visit my friend again soon so we can cook up something from the Cook For Your Life collection together. Thank you, Ann Ogden, for spreading your knowledge, love and compassion for your fellow fighters and survivors!