A Visit to Thistle Farms

This blog was originally a guest post on BonJoy‘s website on Sept. 25, 2015. BonJoy is “the little box of good” – a subscription box that features fashion + beauty + living goods from brands who support employment and restoration for women who are survivors of, or at-risk for, trafficking and exploitation. Be sure to follow them on Facebook or Twitter

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Way back in February, I had the opportunity to visit Thistle Stop Café, a coffee shop in the heart of Nashville, TN dedicated to empowering women. Having been involved in the anti-trafficking movement here in Boston and hearing about Thistle Farms for quite some time, it was a long-awaited visit.

Upon walking through the doors, I felt like I was being welcomed into someone’s home. From the beautiful old wood floors, the teacup chandeliers, the flowers on each table, and the lovingly mismatched china, hospitality and healing whispered in each detail. The women behind the counter weren’t just cheery because of that famous Southern charm, but they welcomed each customer with love.

In the corner, a large wall was filled with body products, teas, and merchandise. I grabbed up as much as I could fit in my bag – perfect products to have on hand as gifts throughout the year!

My favorite purchase was their Tuscan Earth Room Spray. I’m storing it in my toddler’s bedroom. I’ve always been leery of spraying chemicals in there, but knowing it’s all natural and made of essential oils puts my mind at ease. Plus, it neutralizes the all-too-familiar smells us moms deal with on a daily basis. Double bonus – it can be 20 degrees here in Boston, but it sure smells like the warm, sun-kissed Italian countryside.

Thistle Farms and Thistle Stop Cafe promote their slogan of “Love Heals” by employing residents and graduates of Magdalene, a residential program for survivors of trafficking. From every cup of coffee to every jar of lotion, lives are being transformed by love. Proceeds support their residential program, and products are made by both residents and graduates of the program.

Thistle Farms was recently featured on the documentary “A Path Appears” as an organization that gives hope to those seeking solutions for women’s issues. If you haven’t already watched it, I’d highly recommend it.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with numbers and the despair associated with human trafficking, but “A Path Appears” strives to show that there are things WE can do to make a difference. And by partnering with Thistle Farms is one way to make a difference in the life of a woman who has overcome the unthinkable.

In fact, you can shop their store right here. Be sure to add them to your Christmas shopping repertoire!

#loveheals

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Multicultural Mamas: Julia

I’m excited to introduce Julia to you today! She’s a fellow multi-cultural mama – having an Argentinian heart and husband. We actually went to college together, but have recently become reunited now that our chiquititos are in the same preschool.  I’m excited that they can speak Spanish with one another and our families can navigate this journey together 🙂

I emerged from the bedroom wearing my bathing suit and ready for an afternoon by the pool on a December day. My soon-to-be husband watched me with a critical eye.

“Mi amor, you cannot wear that!”

“What do you mean I cannot wear this?”

I was dressed in a modest black two-piece with what I thought to be a cute short bathing suit skirt.

“Take off the skirt”

He proceeded to pull at the skirt and then was onto my bathing suit bottoms as I swatted him away.

“And pull up the sides.” As he pulled he began to give me a wedgie. I was a white-bottomed girl from New England and my behind had never seen the sun!

“Trust me,” my fiancé said. How dare he care, let alone control, what I wear to the pool!

But as I walked outside and saw every women from 10 to 60 years old sporting thong bikinis I began to understand and realize that I needed to trust my ally that would help me navigate this new multicultural life.

Not every transition has been as shocking and embarrassing as strutting my first thong bikini with a white bottom on a beach in South America but I would say this marriage of cultures and languages has allowed me to be more confident in myself and more flexible in my priorities and ideas about life.

Julia's niños hermosos in under Argentinean flags.

Julia’s niños hermosos in under Argentinian flags.

We are currently raising two Castellano speaking (Argentine Spanish), matte drinking (Argentine tea) boys here in the United States. We are loving the adventure and I am learning to trust my ally (aka my husband) in much more than just wardrobe choices. We are learning how to make Spanish speaking a priority, time with family from Argentina happen, and how to give ownership of culture and language to our boys. We are determined that Argentina will not just be the country that their father is from but the country they are from. It is taking teamwork and commitment on both sides. It is hard work and can feel like another value that we are placing on the pile of expectations for our life. But then I hear my son ask, “Is our blood blue because we’re from Argentina?” And I know that it is sinking in. He feels ownership and believes our whole family is from Argentina even though his mom is learning right alongside her boys. And the struggle to learn Spanish and embrace a new culture is all worth it! Because this merge of two cultures, values and languages starts with me. If I embrace it and make it my own so will my boys. And so I begin to use Argentine slang (“vos sos re linda”), drink matte and travel thousands of miles to celebrate Christmas using different traditions even if I feel silly or it is challenging at times because this is our own version of how to build a bi-lingual, bi-cultural family.

 

Are you a multicultural mama that would be willing to share your story? Please be sure to contact me!

Because We All Need A Reminder That People Can Be Awesome

I’m a generally positive person, but lemme tell you these past few weeks have been a bit of a downer. Maybe it’s the end of the summer. Maybe it’s because my baby is officially in preschool.

Maybe it’s also because people who spew hate gain popularity and the oppressed and marginalized continue to suffer the consequences. And I feel so powerless in the wake.

So I decided to pull together a few stories that remind me that people are awesome.

We need each other, friends. Let love be the mark we leave on this world.

1. Gloucester, MA Police are making a difference in the fight against opioid addiction – by treating addicts as people with an illness, not criminals.

 

2. Iceland Caps Syrian Refugees at 50; More Than 10,000 People Respond With Support for Syrian Refugees

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3. When Mexicans crossed our border to feed Americans in need

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What stories have captured your heart this week?