Category Archives: Lifestyle

Give Love: 5 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas With Heart

Give Love: 5 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas With Heart

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and this year more than ever the need to spread the love is real. Here are five Valentine’s Day gift ideas with heart.

1.Heart of Haiti

In Haiti I stocked up on heart shaped art pieces while on my recent trip to visit artisans with the Artisan Business Network who create pieces for the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line.  The art of Haiti is beautiful, and the hearts depicted everywhere throughout are part of the reason that it resonated so much with me.  Haitian art is heavily influenced by Vodou veves, or symbols, and the heart represents the goddess of love, Erzulie. These pieces make perfect Valentine’s Day gifts because when you purchase them you are helping to support Haitian artisans and their families. It is like giving twice, and you don’t have to travel to Haiti to find them since Macy’s partners with the Artisans and carries Heart of Haiti products online and in their stores.

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2. FashionAble

While in Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow I had the opportunity to visit the FashionAble factory where I met women waving beautiful scarves and better lives. Since then FashionAble has branched out into leather goods and jewelry and I am in love with their new lines. Each piece gives back to those building a brighter future for themselves and their families.

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3. Roost Crate

Give your honey some honey!  My father was a bee keeper so I grew up harvesting and eating honey on everything. Honey and Honey bees have a special place in my heart so when I saw that the February Roost Crate “Farmer’s market in a box” was dedicated to honey I had to order one as a gift to myself!  A Roost Crate “you’re the Bee’s knees” box would also make a super sweet gift to your honey! If your sweetheart is a foodie you might just sign them up for one of the subscription options and keep the love flowing month after month!

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4. (RED)

(RED) always has fantastic partnerships and proceeds from (RED) products go to the fight against HIV/AIDS. My favorite this Valentine’s Day is the (RED) app! How cute are these emojis?!? A cute, simple gift to download on your Valentine’s phone.

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5. Alex & Ani

I love this local Rhode Island company that gives back globally. They have partnered with (RED) for a collection of bracelets that benefit The Global Fund. Perfect for your Valentine!

ALEX AND ANIl contributes 20% of the purchase price of each Heart of Strength Charm sold, with a minimum contribution of $25,000 between January 2017 and December 2017 to Global Fund to fight AIDS with (RED)®.

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The Lady Project

The Lady Project

Takeaways from the #LadyProjectSummit :

FullSizeRender-11We jumped right in to the inspiration last weekend at the Lady Project Summit as it kicked off with tips on getting to the place where we feel “badass everyday” from Opening Keynote Speaker Ann Shoket.

“You know that feeling, wind in your hair, lights all turning green.”.-Ann Shoket

Shoket encouraged young women to see the world outside their window, and her advice to women was not to imagine that their life now is the way it is always going to be. “You have no idea all of the adventures in store for you”  Shoket, the former editor of Seventeen Magazine, divulged to the crowd of creative professionals.

The day was broken up into keynote speakers, panels and workshops with snack breaks and a delicious lunch from Ellie’s Bakery in downtown Providence in between. On the Media Panel that I attended Julie Zeilinger described why she founded the F-Bomb years ago at the tender age of 16.

“If you live in a place that is inhospitable to your beliefs, you can find a like-minded community on social media.”   – Julie Zeilinger

That quote resonated with me, as I stay connected with my own tribe of like minded women from around the globe that I have met through World Moms Blog and the UN foundation Shot@Life campaign via social media. My take away from the Social Media Panel was the importance for women to create their own opportunities in life.

Creativity is a currency right now – Carley Barton

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Afternoon Keynote Speaker Ruma Bose of the Chobani Foundation shared insights learned from her mentor Mother Theresa.

Greatness isn’t designed by what we do in this world but what we’ve done FOR this world.- Ruma Bose

To figure out what you are really meant to do with your life she suggested mapping out what you want to achieve and then looking for the ‘why’ in it, find the common themes that keep popping up.

I found it energizing to hear from so many young successful creative women about their path, and stumbling blocks along the way. Mentorship came up as a common theme and the need to reach out to those whom you admire, as well as help other women in their endeavors if they reach out to you.  Co-Founder and CEO of The Lady Project Sierra Barter was quoted in an article in Providence Monthly magazine as saying:

“Our vision was an ‘old boys club’ for fabulous women in The Creative Capital to network, connect with other like-minded ladies and to do so over a glass of champagne.”-Sierra Barter

Closing Keynote Speaker Elaine Pouliot, who spent her life shattering glass ceilings, ended our day by encouraging us to take risks and ask for what we want. For the second year in a row I came away from the Lady project Summit feeling empowered, full of possibilities, and part of a sisterhood of inspiring women.

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Join this extraordinary group of women.

Looking Back on 2015

Looking Back on 2015

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As the first week of 2016 comes to a close I wanted to take a quick look back to savor the fantastic year that was 2015 before moving on. Last year flew by, full of family, work, and travel, and as excited as I am for upcoming 2016 plans, I want to make sure to take the time to pause and savor the highlights, and small successes of the past year before forging ahead.

2015 was an exciting year of travel. Skiing in Aspen. The Nantucket Book Festival. Yoga in Bali.  It will be tough to top! On our family trip we explored a glacier lake in Iceland and climbed crumbling castles in Ireland.  2016 does have a few exciting destinations on the horizon so far, so we will see!

This past year work fulfilled me and helped me grow. I challenged myself by agreeing to do a “media day” of television and radio interviews at the National Press Club in Washington, DC for the United Nations Foundation. As a Shot@Life Champion advocating for global vaccines I was paired up with Dr. Mkope a Tanzanian Pediatrician to do 22 TV and radio interview with stations from across the USA to highlight World Pneumonia Day. In 2015 I continued to work with local non-profit Edesia, the world’s 2nd largest producer of Plumpy’Nut, an amazing product used to treat malnourished children around the globe, and save the lives of nearly a million kids a year. Some of my photography and writing was included in a book put together by ONE.org that went to the US Congressional representatives to support the Electrify Africa Act which was ultimately passed by congress. As a United Nations 2015 Social Good Fellow I attended the Social Good Summit in New York City for the launch of the new Sustainable Development Goals. As Managing Editor of World Moms Blog I attended the United Nations Correspondents Association Award Gala at Cipriani with Founder Jennifer Burden to accept Senior Editor Purnima Ramakrishnan’s UNCA Award for journalism covering a UN topic on her behalf.

As wonderful as the travel and work accomplishments were this year, the moments with family and close friends are my most cherished every year, and there is nothing like being home, especially after an adventure away. I am so grateful to my husband and the supportive women in my life who cheered me on, and provided the incredible opportunities of the past year, and  I’m excited to see what the New Year brings!

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Simple Giving Is The Best Gift Book This Season

Simple Giving Is The Best Gift Book This Season

FullSizeRender-6I believe that is is human nature to want to help others when we can. Two of the biggest hurdles in giving to others are knowing who or what needs help, and then what we, within each of our personal constraints as individuals can do. We also each have our own personal causes and issues we care about. That is one of the reasons that I love sharing stories on my blog of people who make a difference in some way large or small, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. There are so many ways to give, and the book Simple Giving is a perfect guide to how we each can contribute in a positive way to this world.

The book was born from Jennifer’s blog www.anotherjennifer.com and her Philanthropy Friday series. She began to see certain patterns in the types of philanthropy that she featured, and for the book  she breaks them down into six different giving models.

  1. Everyday acts of kindness that can be done everyday for little or no money. An example of this could be as simple as paying someone a compliment.
  2. A new approach to philanthropy which is setting a mindset of giving, even if that amount is small, as a way to make the world a better place.
  3. Shopping with a conscience which has become almost mainstream, consumers want to buy products that give back, are made in an environmentally friendly way, help others to earn a sustainable income, or all three.
  4.  Finding your passion and doing something about it. Start your own non-profit, advocate, be the change you want to see!
  5. Giving as business model, or social enterprise.
  6. Giving it forward means modeling good giving behavior and showing others the way forward.

In Simple Giving Jennifer details case studies for each giving model,  and then lays out a “how to” at the end of each chapter.

I found this book incredibly inspiring, and came away feeling like Simple Giving had given me tools to channel my own philanthropy in new ways. I also now have the desire to give this book to everyone I know as holiday gifts! I think a book like this makes a wonderful present, and just think that when the recipient is in turn inspired by the book it turns into a gift that keeps giving forward. It has been scientifically proven that when we give or help others we feel happier, and  Simple Giving offers each of us a place to start or place to grow our philanthropy in practical ways.

We are in luck that Simple Giving is out in time for holiday giving, and giving back! Get your copy here.

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Author Jennifer Iacovelli

Jennifer Iacovelli is a writer, speaker and consultant. As Chief engagement officer of the Another Jennifer Writing Lab, Jennifer helps entrepreneurs , bloggers, and nonprofits tell their story. She is also the author of  the Another Jennifer blog, and creator of the Simple Giving Lab. She writes for Mom Bloggers For Social Good as part of the Global Team of 200 and is a regular contributor to World Moms Blog and HuffPost Divorce. Jennifer is also contributing author of the book The Mother Of All Meltdowns. Her work has been featured on GOOD, BlogHer, USAID Impact, Feed The Future and the PSI Impact Blog. She is based in Brunswick, Maine.

 

 

Celebrating 10 Years of the Rwanda Path to Peace Program

Celebrating 10 Years of the Rwanda Path to Peace Program

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.20.53 PMThe style of our home décor leans toward Nomadic with pieces we have collected  from around the world on our travels that represent a meaningful trip or story. The beautiful hand-woven Rwandan baskets are no different, in them I see the history of an area of the world that I’ve been to and loved, woven with the hope and Path to Peace that each basket represents for the women of Rwanda.

In 1991 I spent six months living out of a backpack as I traveled overland through 16 African countries from Morocco down to Botswana. We camped in tents along the way, shopped for our food at village markets, and made our fire to cook over each night. As you can imagine it was a transformative experience. When people find out that my travels have taken me to over 60 countries around the globe they often ask which one was my favorite. An impossible question in this diverse and magnificent world of ours, rich with its variety of cultures and topography. When I am pressed to choose just one area, Central Africa is the region that pops into my mind each time. We went Gorilla Trekking on the border of Uganda and Rwanda, a phenomenal experience in itself, and it was just one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen. It was not just the picturesque stepped farms carved into verdant mountains, and the surrounding lush landscape. It was the people, the villages, their arts, and culture that captured some part of me.

I was heart-broken and horrified just a few years later when I heard about the tribal massacres that swept Rwanda in a brutal killing spree that took the lives of almost a million people over the course of just three months. It seemed impossible that an area that had been so warm and inviting, had felt so safe, could erupt in such a violent way. I mourned for Rwanda and volunteered to go back to help, but they really only needed medical volunteers.  This left me feeling useless and frustrated at my lack of valuable skills that could help in any recovery.  The tribal hatred between the Hutus and Tutsis had turned into an ethnic slaughter where neighbor killed neighbor in one of the worst genocides in human history.

The violence left many Rwandan women as the sole providers for their families. Husbands, fathers and sons had been killed or jailed for committing unspeakable atrocities. In the aftermath of such horror I am always amazed by the resilience of the human spirit, that of women in particular. Despite fresh wounds, both mental and physical, the women of Rwanda began to come together through the tradition of weaving as a way to rebuild and reconcile.

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“After the genocide, which tore the ethnic communities of Rwanda apart, the country was looking for a positive symbol that all sides could endorse. Beautiful baskets had been part of Rwanda’s culture for centuries. Their craft and artistry were celebrated by all sides and across the ethnic divide. When the Rwanda Path to Peace program began, the basket became the symbol that all Rwandans could embrace. And as women from formerly warring tribes came together to weave, the Path to Peace program became a vital tool to foster reconciliation.”

In 2005 Macy’s launched the Path to Peace Program. Willa Shalit, an American Artist, Activist and Social Entrepreneur, had introduced Macy’s executives to the beautiful hand-woven Rwandan baskets. Macy’s Partnered with the women of Rwanda in one of the very first “trade not aid” programs where all parties in the business model would benefit from its success.

This week Macy’s will celebrate 10 years of the Rwanda Path to Peace program. It is the longest running program of this kind, and over the years has transformed thousands of women’s lives, and in turn, those of their families and communities. I have come to realize that there are ways to help despite my lack of medical knowledge, and one of those is through my purchasing power. By choosing to spend my consumer dollars on products that I know come from socially responsible sources and are beneficial to others and our world. The hand-woven Rwandan baskets from the Macy’s Path to Peace program represent that idea that sometimes simple actions can collectively make a big impact in the lives of others.

Join me at the 10 year celebration tomorrow in New York!

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 11.04.42 AMI am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.