11 October 2009

Save the Tatas! or The Tale of a Survivor

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Breast cancer claims so many lives each year, though new strides in treatments are saving lives that ten years ago might have been lost.  That doesn't mean this devastating disease has been eradicated, though.

As a breastfeeding mom, I have gone from seeing my breasts as men might, as something beautiful and sexual, to seeing them as God made them to be - beautiful and made to nurture a life.  I'm not saying the two have to be mutually exclusive, and I don't believe they are.  Now that our lives are getting into a better routine and our baby is sleeping up to 8 hours at a time, I'm able to see my breasts as all that they can be, not just one or the other.  Given that my breasts are made for both pleasure and nurturing, and this is something that only I as a woman and mother can claim, I can only imagine what happens in a woman's mind when she feels that lump and hears those dreaded words, "You have breast cancer."

It was 9 years ago today that I sat at what used to be Raleigh Community Hospital with my dad while Mom had a single mastectomy.  The lump was tiny, just the size of a pea, and the cancer wasn't far advanced; she caught it early.  I literally felt like I was going to fly apart at the seams - completely explode - when I heard the news.  Throughout the months of chemo and radiation, we shared tears and laughter.  Mom's hair grew back a lovely silver which she colored as soon as she was able.  As my older daughter turned about three and started noticing that her grandma only had one of which the rest of us had pairs, Mom decided to have reconstructive surgery, which brought with it laughter over comments that only my daughter would come up with like, "Grandma, your nipple's growing back in."

Mom's journey through cancer and its resultant treatments made me aware of how precious life is, especially hers.  At the age of 27, I wasn't ready to face life without my mom, and at the age of 51, she feared that she'd never get to see grandchildren.  In the nine years we've celebrated her survivorship, she's gotten to be grandma to two beautiful granddaughters, both of whom inherited her fathomless dark brown eyes (and the older one, her, um, tendency to tell people what they should be doing).

So, women, take those tops off, lose the bras (woohoo!) and...

Do your self exams each month and if you're 40 or older, go in for your annual mammograms.  I know, I know.  It feels like running over your breasts with a car, but after the first one and you know what to expect, it's not as bad.  If you're at a higher risk for breast cancer, talk to your doctor about scheduling one before you turn 40.  Do your research and find out if you're at a higher risk or not.  Having a close relative who's had it will put you in that category.  Hormone treatments (HRT and birth control pills) carry an increased risk of developing breast cancer.  Take care of yourself.  We're the only ones who bear the responsibility of taking care of our bodies.

If you're a man and you're reading this, be aware that breast cancer also can affect men, so watch out for yourselves, too.  And encourage your wives, girlfriends, sisters and moms to do their exams.  Tell them that they're so precious to you and you want them to be healthy.  Volunteer to go with her for support, even if it's just a routine baseline screening.  She'll adore you for it!

False Advertising

I was already drafting this blog article in my head when I came across a link to this article on Twitter.  Apparently, I'm not the only who's noticed that misleading and false advertising has become par for the course in American marketing.

About a year ago, I posted an article challenging Dove's claim that soap leaves soap scum on your skin; you'll find that here.  Soap doesn't leave soap scum behind; it leaves glycerin, a humectant which draws moisture from the air to your skin, moisturizing your skin with water as God intended.  Since posting that blog article, I've seen that commercial a few more times, and on the screen shot where they're telling you about this horrible "soap scum," at the bottom of the screen in little white letters it reads, "Artist's dramatization."  Let's break that down.  One, it's not like they've taken a black light or infrared light to a woman fresh out of the shower after she's washed with soap to show what's left.  Nope, a graphic design artist likely went in with a mouse and a bit of imagination and drew the "soap scum" in.  Dramatization - it's FAKE, people!  Drama, whether it's on stage, screen or in the mind of your average teenage girl, is never as real as it's purported to be.

Thursday night I was watching my usual crime dramas (see, again, made up) and caught this commercial for I Can't Believe It's Not Butter - you know the one that starts out "Meet the Buttertons."  The hype behind this commercial is that real butter is loaded with trans fat.  We keep butter in our fridge; it's healthier than margarine and we prefer natural to nearly plastic.  Yesterday morning, I was in the fridge for something and looked at the butter box.  Zero grams of trans fats.  Of course, butter has saturated fats; all fats that are solid at room temperature are high in saturated fats - lard, shortening, coconut oil, palm oil, butter, margarine.  However, our butter doesn't have any trans fat whatsoever.  Again, you have a reputable company using deception to push their products.  And how many people would catch it?  Susie Homemaker who's trying to prepare healthy meals for her family is just going to buy the tub spread (we have that in our fridge, too) and will never look at the nutrition facts on the box of butter.

In the cosmetic industry, such deceptions come when someone claims their tea tree soap will cure everything from athlete's foot to psoriasis to the flu.  Or when a soapmaker states that the vitamin E in their lotion will make the user look younger.  All that's lies and hype to get you to buy their products.  Thankfully, those seem to be few and far between, but loudly vocal.  The majority of soapmakers will tell you what our products will do.  Our soaps will get you clean.  They'll likely leave your skin feeling softer and more supple.  Our soaps may even leave you smelling good.  Our soaps will not make you look younger, replace the hair you've lost, melt away unwanted belly fat or cure what ails you (other than general griminess).

10 October 2009

Preparing for Onslow Oktoberfest

Two weeks from right now, my first show of the season will be a wrap. Yep, that's right - my first one.  I'm only doing two big shows this year, and I haven't hooked up with any monthly markets since we moved; that's by choice.  I'm excited, though.  Preparing for a big event like this takes so much work and organization.  Then there's setting it up, my husband Peter and me coming together to get everything displayed just so.  After everything is in place to my exacting standards (that takes a while, I'll admit) and I finally get to sit back or stand to wait for customers, then I take a deep breath of satisfaction.  At that point, the hard part is over and the fun part begins.

While I really enjoy making my products (and using them, too, of course!), I'm such an extrovert that I get great satisfaction and joy from interacting with my customers.  I love every part of it, from that initial greeting to telling them about my products, helping them find their "just right" purchases and then handing them a coupon along with the soaps or lotion they've just bought.  It's in being out with my customers that I get to personally experience the people who are interested in my wares.

In two weeks is Onslow Oktoberfest in Jacksonville.  I'm excited, because this will be my first time doing this fairly young event.  Now that I'm here in a different part of the state, I get to participate in events that were too geographically undesireable to join when we lived in Durham.  Onslow Oktoberfest will take place on Saturday, 24 October at Riverwalk Crossing Park, 421 Court Street, Downtown Jacksonville, NC behind the historic train depot.  It runs from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Check back here for specifics on where I'll be located so you can drop in and say "hi."

My feature product will be beer soap and this close to their curing dates, I can tell you that they're amazing!  They all smell so yummy, and the ones with designs and swirls have come out looking spectacular.  Peter washed the ash off the Green Irish Tweed batch he did to reveal gorgeous green and bronze swirls.  Hops are wonderful for skin and hair, and the sniglet I tried made my skin feel so soft and moisturized.  More on those tomorrow.