Friday, March 31, 2017

Daily Action: Download This Self-Care Printable

Friends, it's been a bit of a week, so when I stumbled on this fantastic tumblr post, it inspired me to take some time away from social media and pay attention to my needs. It's also available as a PDF, if you want to download it and hang it on your fridge.

YES. I needed some guidance, and this was it.

Friends, take care of yourselves this weekend. I plan on unplugging and crafting, and I hope you are doing something equally relaxing :)


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Daily Action: Call Your Favorite Hotel About Soap

Friends, I love to travel, and I especially love using the fabulous little soaps that are provided to me at hotels. I try and use up what I open, but every once in awhile, a tiny bar of soap will get left behind. I had no idea that some hotels were involved in rebatching until I read this article on Clean the World

You can search for their hotel partners (for instance, I searched for Hiltons), and see if your favorite location is involved with the program. You can also view their "soap stats":

It's an amazing program, and the Top Performers have been making an incredible impact:

If you're a frequent traveler, or if you regularly visit a hotel or bed and breakfast location, or even a cruise ship, check out this list and see if your location participates in the program. If they aren't listed, give them a call! Your favorite destination might not be aware of the program, and may be willing to give it a shot.

XOXO, and as Rick Steves says, "keep on travelin'!"


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Daily Action: Find Out Where Your Senators Stand on Judge Gorsuch

Friends, it's been a crazy few days. The ACA repeal was defeated (HOORAY!! Thank you for calling your reps!!). It's been great to celebrate that victory, but I'm trying to remind myself that just because the ACA was saved, it doesn't mean the attacks on health care will stop. If anything, we'll have to be more vigilant in making sure both parties come to the table to fix issues with the ACA.

Right now, the focus is on Judge Gorsuch's confirmation hearings and vote for the Supreme Court. Currently, the Senate Panel vote has been delayed for a week. That gives us time to call (or fax) our senators. Mine have not issued any statements on Gorsuch, and I'd like to push them to have their opinions out before the end of this week. 

I dislike Gorsuch for many reasons, but a big issue I have is he sides with employers more than workers (especially in the frozen trucker case). According to this article, "has sided with employers 21 out of 23 times in disputes over the U.S. pensions and benefits law, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA." I like to keep this in mind when I contact my senators, so I can have specifics to mention when asking them to vote No. I can also bring up some of his responses to questions during the confirmation hearing.

If you have a few minutes today, please call your Senators and make your position on Gorsuch known, and also find out where they stand. As we've seen with the ACA, our calls are making a difference. Thank you!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Daily Action: Make a Change in Energy Suppliers

Friends, I am more than a bit frustrated with the current administration's efforts to defund and deplete the Environmental Protection Agency. In an effort to combat these cuts, I've been calling my representatives and making some changes in my own life. 

Yesterday, I signed up to change energy suppliers. In the past, I was regularly getting mail from companies asking me to switch suppliers, but their language was never clear, and I could not understand what was being asked of me. On Sunday, during a meeting of our local huddle group, one of the members said she had switched energy suppliers, and was now using CleanChoice Energy. (You guys, I LOVE hearing testimonials from people I know.) We peppered her with questions, and after finding out that CleanChoice provides 100% renewable energy from wind and solar sources, we wouldn't need to worry about multiple bills (ComEd will still be delivering the energy to our homes), and the change in cost is nominal, we were sold. Three of our group switched suppliers yesterday. I am so excited about this change, and cannot seem to talk about anything else! 

CleanChoice also supplies energy in the below states, so if you're interested, make the switch here

I've also been doing the following:

I've asked nearly every one I know in Illinois to fill out a witness slip in support of this bill, which would reinstate container deposits in our state. YES to keeping recyclables out of landfills! 

I've also been throwing my support behind a bill that would eliminate dark or green non-compostable bags in retail establishments, which has led me to researching compostable bags for my own home.

Since I can access the electrical outlet that is used for my microwave, I unplug my microwave after every use.
I cut up some old tee shirts to use for rags (sorry, Hard Rock Cafe!)

In an effort to get rid of some of our dependence on plastic for food storage, I've been reusing glass jars from purchased spaghetti sauce, soups, etc. I also tried out some DIY goo gone to get rid of the labels. These jars are also SUPER handy for craft storage (hey, button stash).

I called the landlords to weather seal our porch door, which has definitely helped with heating the apartment, and I haven't needed to use the space heater at all this year.

It's officially Spring, which means it's time to clean out my closet of anything I haven't worn in a year. I'm currently gathering items together for a clothing swap at the end of next month. (If clothing swaps aren't your thing, you can also do a household item swap, or a book swap!)

I've been in contact with a local composting service to help reduce our trash output (as we don't have the space for a composting bin right now).

I've started knitting swiffer cloths. I love having clean floors, and the cost for purchasing wet wipes is getting a bit prohibitive!

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I had a conversation with my partner about what I would like to see change in our home. I'd like for us to recycle what we already have, conserve where we can, and make changes for a more sustainable future...and they agreed! 

Friends, I'd love to hear about any changes you've made or are making in your life to become more eco-friendly - let me know in the comments below!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Daily Action: Join the Sanctuary Restaurant Movement

Friends, today's action comes to you from the fabulous weekly newsletter, Wall-of-Us. The Sanctuary Restaurant movement is for restaurant owners, workers, and consumers alike:

If you believe in this movement, there are several things you can do as a consumer. Eat at a sanctuary restaurant, of course, but you can also encourage your favorite restaurants to join the movement by leaving behind diner cards on your table. You can also sign up to get information about restaurant workers' rights here.

The majority of us go out to eat, so let's make sure we are supporting the workers and owners of the places we like to frequent while eating delicious food.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Daily Action: If Obamacare Has Helped You, Share Your Story

Friends, the White House is asking folks to share their Obamacare stories with them via an online form. While it appears they are asking for stories of hardship under Obamacare, the form can also be used to show the good side of the Affordable Care Act. If you've been helped, or your family, or your friends, share it here. 

For me, the Affordable Care Act wasn't around when I graduated from college. I was living in an even smaller town outside of my small university town, and I was working at an office supply store to make ends meet. I wasn't making ends meet very well, and I relied on my credit card quite heavily (which I'm so close to FINALLY paying off). I tried to get on my employer's insurance plan, but never received the paperwork, and probably didn't work enough hours to qualify. 

One day, the pad of my ring finger swelled up like a balloon. It swelled about 1/4" - 3/8", and I was completely freaked out. I was concerned that metal shavings were lodged in my finger from working in the copy center, and after MUCH debate, decided to drive over to the local hospital to get it checked out. 

The nurse taking my information asked if I had insurance, and after I said no, I waited. And waited. And panicked. Finally, a doctor came over to me in the waiting room. He didn't even bother taking me back to a patient area - he examined my hand right there. After shining a flashlight at my fingertip, he pronounced that I had contracted a STD in my finger. I said, "Excuse me, what?" He showed me how my blood vessels appeared in the light from the flashlight. He said it was common for folks who worked in the medical field to contract these things sometimes, but here I was, wearing my office supply store uniform. "Sir, I'm not exposed to any health things like that. I make copies all day." He stuck to his diagnosis, said the flare up would go away eventually, but that I would always have the STD. 

And then he got up, walked away, they handed me my paperwork, and I left, completely distraught. The encounter with the doctor had last five minutes and cost me $900.

I couldn't pay. I couldn't feed myself on a regular basis, and I couldn't make ends meet enough to cover $900 for a five minute (incorrect) diagnosis. I had to call the hospital, and I was blunt - "I can't pay this. I can't even eat." The woman was very kind, and said they had a program in Ohio for hardship cases like mine. If I could pay a smaller portion of it, that would be fine. I scraped together what I could, borrowed some even, and decided that anything else I needed would go on the credit card. I paid the portion they asked for, and thanked those nice ladies profusely for telling me about the program when I dropped off my payment. 

Sitting here now, writing this, I can't stop crying. That fear and anxiety about paying my bills, even after they lowered the amount, the news about my lifetime diagnosis - none of it made any sense to me, and it still doesn't.

When I got bronchitis, I did not go to the doctor. When I had a pregnancy scare in my abusive relationship, I did not go to anyone. When my truck went into a ditch during a snowstorm, I did not even care if I was injured, or was at risk for hypothermia from landing in a waist deep puddle when I managed to get out. 

I did not have insurance again until I moved to Chicago and started working for a law firm, and even then, it took almost a year before I went to a doctor. I was doing my laundry in my tub, I was surviving on potatoes and PB&J, and if a doctor found anything wrong, I would not be able to pay for it. 

I've since joined a new company that has great benefits, that allows me to see the best doctor I've ever had. And you know what? She runs regular blood tests, and she's never found anything that matches up with the ER doctor's diagnosis.

I'm lucky now - I have insurance through my employer, and my pre-existing conditions (which is a whole different post) do not matter. I cannot forget, though, what it was like to be so scared about bills and my health, and to decide that it was better to do without care than risk the financial burden. This is my story of life before Obamacare, and I would not wish that life of worry on anyone.

As always, thank you for reading.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Daily Action: Track Gender Neutral Bathrooms on Yelp

Friends, Yelp is currently "inviting users and business owners to identify establishments that offer locking, single-stall bathrooms that are available to individuals of any gender." We can help speed this process along (since they'll need results in order to create a filter) by installing the Yelp app and tracking these restrooms as we come across them. It's something simple, but so important and helpful. 

The weekend is right around the corner, so here are the things that have been keeping me going this week:

This Ohio bookstore turned all male-authored fiction books backwards on their shelves in an effort to highlight women's authors this month.

Something to keep an eye on: a climate lawsuit brought by 21 children against the US government.

Girls knit their way to a math career (YESSSSSS!)

Three Confederate monuments will be removed from New Orleans within a month's time.

Daniela Vargas was just released from Immigration detention!! 


Alejandra Campoverdi is my SHERO of the Week.

I'm really looking forward to this weekend: tomorrow, I'm going to a volunteer training and meeting up with a fellow organizer for tea, and on Monday I'll be phone banking for a mayoral candidate and hosting a postcard writing party. I definitely feel most at home when mixing social outings and resistance :)

Have a great weekend, all!


PS. I (and some great friends of mine) spent some time today blowing up the Twitter feed of this Illinois politician. If you have a moment, please tweet and help him understand how insurance works. Thank you!!!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Daily Action: Celebrate International Women's Day

Friends, today is International Women's Day, and also "A Day Without a Woman." If you're looking to participate in today's strike, whether you have to work or not, there is an outline below:

While I have to work one of my jobs today, I'll be wearing red and avoiding shopping (unless at women and minority-owned businesses). 

If (like me) you're not able to unplug today, here are some excellent links to help you celebrate today:

The Women's National Book Association is sending a book for each day of Women's History Month to the president and his staff. The list of books they are sending is pretty amazing!

Here's a list of 13 Feminist Documentaries that are currently available on Netflix for streaming.

If you're looking for some music to listen to, check out this Spotify playlist compiled by Feminist Fight Club.

Here's a growing list of women owned businesses! If you notice some are missing from your area, add them in the comments!

If you're thinking of getting a feminist tattoo in the near future, here are some beautiful ideas.

If you're ever traveling and in need of assistance on a range of health issues, check out Gynopedia. If you have good information to contribute for your area, go to your city and add that information! For instance, here is the page for Chicago:

I've been running low on postcards lately, and with the Ides of March coming up, I'm thinking of restocking from this store.

Friends, how are you celebrating International Women's Day today?

XOXO and much love,

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Daily Action: Call Your State's Attorney General

Friends, now that the new travel ban is out, it's time to hop on the phone with our state attorney generals. This Wall-of-Us post has a great explanation on the power that state attorney generals have, as well as which attorney generals opposed the previous ban before it was defeated in court. I called the Illinois AG for the first time yesterday and was able to pass along my thanks to a very surprised staffer. I then saved the number in my phone in case I need it for future use. Wall-of-Us gives scripts for if your AG opposed the travel ban, or if they said nothing.

CAIR Chicago has launched the Travelers Assistance Project (TAP), which would help at-risk travelers with legal assistance on the ground. It's a pilot project here in Chicago, and will most likely expand once it find partners in other markets around the country. 

If you're looking for an airport protest near you, check out this list here. Also, let them know if a demonstration is coming up so the site can list that as well!

If you're looking for something to do closer to home, print off one of these signs and hang it in your window, My neighborhood is full of them, and it's beautiful.

On the subject of travel, the TSA has begun warning local police about its new pat-downs, which may result in travelers calling to report harassment or "abnormal" federal frisking (!!!!).

Finally, tomorrow is A Day Without a Woman. Here is the official link regarding the purpose of the day, and also includes way to participate in the day, whether you have to work or are able to take the day off. I have to work one of my jobs tomorrow, but tomorrow evening, I'll be joining in some events in my local community to celebrate the spirit of the day. Also, I'll be wearing red in solidarity.

XOXO and stay safe,

Monday, March 6, 2017

Daily Action: Watch Chicago Ideas Presentation on Reimagining Prison

Friends, I hope you had great weekends. I managed to unplug on Saturday, and I'm feeling refreshed and ready for action today. 

Last week, Chicago Ideas hosted a conversation on Reimagining Prison, a 75 minute program on re-envisioning the prison and justice system in the USA. Here was the panel present for the discussion:

I wasn't able to attend the program in person, but luckily, the entire program has been posted online for streaming. Here is the link for the program, and if you're not able to watch the entire 75 minutes, they do include separate segment videos at the bottom of the page. 

Also, we had some good news in Chicago recently in regards to monetary bond: Foxx agrees to release of inmates unable to post bonds of up to $1,000 cash. While this initiative will only impact a few dozen of the 7,400+ inmates in Cook County Jail (and only those with "nonviolent charges"), it's a necessary step towards eliminating monetary bond in Cook County altogether. 

Finally, I'll be watching the developments of this class action lawsuit very closely: Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws. The impact of this lawsuit could have far reaching effects across our entire prison system, especially regarding our dependence on prison labor.

Stay safe out there, my friends, and as always, thanks for reading!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Daily Action: Learn Some Basic Self Defense Moves

Friends, a quick daily action before we all shut down for the weekend. I recently came across this video on Facebook, which outlines four basic self defense maneuvers for women. I didn't realize how helpful I found it until I was walking home late last night after my second job, and on my dark street, found myself going over the moves in my head. Granted, nothing happened on my walk home, but feeling prepared helped me feel a bit safer. If you're interested in more self defense videos and tips, a quick search on YouTube will offer many options, as well as this article from Lifehacker

Here's some things that are keeping me going this week (in between all the news about Russian contacts and meetings):

You can stream the Broadway Cast Recording of "Come From Away," a musical about Gander, Newfoundland on and after September 11, 2001, and it's quite good!

If you have extra time on your hands, you can help the National Museum of American History transcribe Phyllis Diller's 50,000+ jokes on file. No need to be in D.C. to assist! 

You can watch a video of a tortoise eating a strawberry (narrated by Alan Rickman) and it will help charities. It's a win-win situation.

If you're not able to take the day off work, here's how you can participate in the Day Without Women on March 8th.

This 10 Year Old CEO is launching a hijab company for teens and tweens. You can donate to her campaign and help her achieve her dream here.

Friends, have a great weekend, stay safe, and try to unplug if you can!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Daily Action: Find Out Where Your Reps Stand on Jeff Sessions

Friends, every day we find out more and more about the current administration's ties with Russia. Yesterday, we found out that Jeff Sessions had contact with the Russian ambassador prior to the election, something he denied during his confirmation hearings for the position of attorney general. Today, I'm asking you to call your reps and find out where they stand on an independent investigation of this administration's ties with Russia, or more specifically, what actions will they propose to take regarding Jeff Sessions involvement with the Russian government.

If your rep has come out publicly with a statement on the situation, please remember to thank them! If they haven't, please ask their staff when they plan on making a public statement about the issue. It's important to have their opinion on record for all of their constituents to see.

(I love my Congresswoman. I usually find out about breaking news from her Facebook feed before most other sources. I consider myself very lucky to have her representing my area in Congress.)

Keep safe, keep sane, and thank you for reading,