It’s bigger than a dress!
For the month of December I will be participating in Dressember because I believe in everyday advocacy. By wearing a little black dress for 31 days I am raising awareness and funds for the millions of abused women and girls across the globe. The little black dress I am wearing (worn in rotation with another LBD I already owned) is made by and overcomer of sex trafficking who through Elegantees has been provided with secure source of income that reinforces independence, a healthy self image, and confidence that restores lives. You can sponsor my 31 day dress wearing mission to fight enforced labour and human trafficking by donating to the Dressember fundraiser page. The proceeds of the month long fundraiser support the work done by A21 and The International Justice Mission (IJM) who work to fight human trafficking and injustices against the poor on all levels, from top down policy work to bottom up rescues and rehabilitation of victims. Your dollar could help rescue children as young as two years old from cyber sex trafficking, as seen in this recent success story from the IJM. Please give even if you can only spare a dollar, every bit counts!
The Final Days of Outfits.
Was hoping to get online yesterday evening to update for day 30 but actually ended up disconnecting altogether. Spent the day adventuring with my man in my beautiful ‘backyard’ (it’s more than an hours drive to these places but all still part of the Sunshine Coast). I would have loved nothing more than to don a pair of shorts for this bush walking mission but staying true to the Dressember fundraiser I scrambled up a creek bed in my LBD. There is photographic evidence below to prove it. On this walk a green tree snake slithered past our feet. When this happens there is always that brief moment where your heart races and you freeze in your tracks. However, as soon as we realised it was a harmless python we were more intrigued than scared. We went kayaking after the bush-walk at another location along the Obi Obi creek. I didn’t ‘frock up’ for kayaking as there isn’t much movement or sun protection in a dress! Bikinis with leggings and a shirt work best. Luckily I wasn’t in a dress as the creek has lots of shallow rapids that required a whole lot of arduous but enjoyable scrambles upstream dragging and carrying the kayaks over slippery rocks. On this kayak adventure we came across flowers, fish, a variety of weird and wonderful seed pods, huge freshwater mussels, and an assortment of native rainforest species tangled in with introduced weeds. The coolest thing we saw was a small (possibly venomous but yet to be identified) snake swimming across the river. When we got close to it a water dragon came shooting out of the water at it. Not sure if the water dragon had intentions of eating the snake for dinner or was just defending it’s turf but it was clear that the dragon was boss. After that I claimed that I wanted to see an anaconda, a tall order for a country that doesn’t have anacondas. However my wish was pretty much answered when a little further up the creek a large carpet python fell off the bank and started swimming nearby! It’s the first time I had seen snakes swimming in the wild up-close and I was impressed by how good they are at it. Today has been slightly less dangerous and exotic even though the image above sort of suggests otherwise. The vest and boots I’m wearing today are all thrifted and although I look like I’m somewhere exciting this is just a hidden section of my suburban neighbourhood. For New Years eve we are heading out to our local social haunts and sussing out what’s going on down that way. It’s usually quiet because most of the Sunshine Coast population go to the Mooloolaba fire works and beach celebrations but as neither Ged or I am interested in watching fireworks we usually opt for the less crowded venues. Will try to remember to get a photo of my NY outfit as I have some very cute thrifted shoulder embellishments that pin onto the shoulders of my LBD.
End of Year Reflections.
Today concludes what has been the busiest month of the busiest year of my life. Fortunately the majority of the busy has been based around pursuing my dreams and sharing my knowledge pursuits with you via this blogging platform. While the journey has been a very fulfilling one there have been some major ups and downs. Study, work, writing, advocacy, and squeezing in time for fun can be a difficult to manage. While each of us can only know and speak from our personal experience, many of my reading pursuits over the year lead me to believe that I am not alone when I claim that there aren’t enough hours in the day. This year has seen me juggle more balls than ever before which may not result in as many hours as I have committed in the past (at one point I was stupidly working 7 days a week but in my defence it had an end goal of moving interstate) it has been a huge emotional investment and required a lot of organisation (and many epic failures) to execute. While it all sounds pretty much like hard work on paper, or in this case a blinking screen, it has in fact been one of the most fulfilling years of my life. Some of my highlights from the year include:
- My first year of my Masters studies complete! One more to go.
- Getting my very first 100% on a final assessment item.
- Sustainability in Style being featured in Peppermint Magazine
- Being asked to write for Peppermint Magazine
- Having the World’s best husband (I may be a little bias here)
- Visiting my family in Tasmania (besides the fact I got VERY sick)
- Nearly competing the revegetation project I’ve been managing since 2013
- Having nearly 700 posts live on Sustainability in Style since it’s inception!
- The epic discussions that occur every day here, via social media and email regarding sustainability and ethics.
- Being part of the Ethical Writers Co.
- Participating in Dressember. It’s been hard but totally worth it.
- Having had three incredible ideas come my way… more to be shared in the New Year.
While it would be nice to pretend that these highlights come without any low points presenting one without the other would be a fallacy. I’ve spoken about it quite a bit throughout the year but I think that the end of year is another great time to talk about taking care of your mental health. Arianna Huffington speaks about her problems with ‘time famine’ and pushing herself to the point of collapse in her (much loved by Oprah and me) book ‘Thrive‘. That the society that we live in today is so connected that we often work around the clock checking work emails at dinner time and cramming in one or two ‘last little bits’ or our work day in before bed forgoing an extra hour of sleep. I often claim to be ‘really busy’ but my ‘really busy’ (for most part) includes scheduling in what I consider vital such as eight hours of sleep, cooking all my meals from scratch, taking time for exercise, meditation, and connecting with nature and my family. If you haven’t ever really thought about emotional and metal wellbeing the TED talk above by Guy Winch is an interesting viewing. Times throughout the year where I have failed to include these vital elements in my schedule (the big ones have been end of uni semester and the whole of December due to the unexpected demands of Dressember fundraising) have resulted in epic anxiety and several emotional breakdowns. Some of which have interfered with my ability to function at 100% in my paid work and resulted in some science mistakes (not huge ones but enough to be a bit of a bother for me to rectify). For this reason I will be changing my career path a little in 2016, going full time with studies and finding alternate ways (that I hope you will all love to be a part of) to pay the bills until my studies are completed in November of 2016. There will still be a little plant science but no more plant science project management. My brain can fully remain in one train of ‘sustainability and social science’ thought rather than having to jump from straight science to social (which are two different beasts).
Thanks a Bunch!
A very big thank you to all that have contributed to the Dressember fundraising and awareness mission. At present we have raised $426 USD as a team, and the Dressember mission has collectively raised over 717 thousand dollars. For everyone who donated money, products, or offered kind words of support my love and gratitude is with you. We are not quite done yet (in fact you can donate until the end of Jan) and there is still time to get in quick and donate what you can before the clock strikes midnight in the America. Here is a story from the team at Dressember to help you better understand that work that is supported by the funds raised throughout the month long dress wearing challenge. This is Stacey’s story:
Stacey* had a great home life growing up. She had a two-parent home, enjoyed holidays, and family vacations. At the age of eighteen, Stacey was tricked into taking drugs by her boyfriend. She thought she was taking a “simple” ecstasy pill. After she swallowed the pill, he told her it was heroin. From that day, she became hooked. In order to feed her new drug habit, Stacey began dancing for money. It was there that she met Tim.* Tim had a bad reputation with other girls and people in the club, but Stacey always found him very nice, considerate, and charming. He would come in and have chats with her after she danced. One night, when they were talking, he asked why a beautiful, smart girl like herself would be dancing. He told Stacey he wanted to help her and would pay for her to go to rehab and get clean. So she accepted his offer to help. Once Stacey was free from her drug addiction, she continued dancing as a job to simply live. That’s when Tim asked her to move out of state with him. He said he would take care of her, and she wouldn’t have to dance ever again.
After the move, Tim was nice and provided her with what she needed to live. Shortly thereafter, Stacey’s grandmother passed away unexpectedly and to that point, Stacey had a mobile phone. Tim arranged for her to go home for the funeral. When she returned, that’s when Tim changed. He showed her pictures of her family’s home, of her father going to the mailbox, etc. and told her that he “owned her” and if she ever tried to leave, he would “have a bullet in their heads” before she even left the house. He took away her phone and access to freely come and go as she pleased. Tim forced Stacey into prostitution that day. After three years of servicing men, Stacey found the courage to escape, fleeing one morning after “work” whilst doing the laundry with everyone asleep. She ran until she found a phone booth and called her mother, telling her what had happened to her. Her mother told her to go to the police station. Stacey then jumped into a parked truck and asked the man to please help her and take her to the police. The local law enforcement in Stacey’s home state contacted The A21 Campaign for assistance. A21 were able to provide Stacey with medical care, a new wardrobe, legal services, and basic necessities of life. Now, after a year of freedom, Stacey has completed her counselling and is now ready to share her story and bring awareness to others that trafficking does exist and can happen to anyone. She hopes to attend university and study law.
*Name changed for her protection.
What are you most proud of this year’s end? Perhaps there is something that has really been a struggle? Feel free to share any thoughts below.