Believing the Best

Experiencing a roller coaster of emotions in a small period of time is simply part of being human.

Ups, downs, and so much of the in-between where we just ache to not feel monotonous.

Today began well. The hubs and kids were out the door on time, I had sweet reflection on my youngest growing up, moments of truly treasuring him, I made the bed, got ready, did some laundry, and youngest went to the potty twice rather than having an accident! We handled a fit, got through it, and I got some other things crossed off my to-do list.

Then a text came. And it angered me. Instantly I became wrapped tight with resentment, sadness, frustrations, exasperation. And to be completely honest, I am still in that place right now.

How am I battling this? Will it ruin my day? I began thinking through the PTA meeting I had coming up in a couple of hours and saw myself walking in angry, unable to hide these feelings stealing my joy today. I saw myself snapping at my husband, being short with my kids, all because of a completely unrelated situation.

And then I remembered…

Believe the best in people.

That thought instantly allowed me to take a breath and envision what this person is currently feeling. What made her feel like writing this to me? Backing out of a commitment? What is she facing today? This week? This month?

Literally as I was logging in to my site, these thoughts came. And I am so thankful they did. I can feel the anger easing, slowly evaporating into understanding, compassion, and the desire to do something to bless her today.

So in those moments you feel hurt, betrayed, like a promise was broken, remember to see the best in others. Take a walk in their sandals. You want that same benefit of the doubt. And whether or not the best is the truth, I believe we will all benefit greatly from this perspective.

Anger can quickly turn into bitterness and not only poison your day, but can poison your  life.

And in the midst of believing the best about someone, send a little sunshine their way through a card, a text, a call, a gift. Let’s be about letting go and lifting others up.

Believe the best in others, and surround yourself with those who believe the best in you.

Who Will They Become?

When I became a Sseko Fellow, I simply wanted to become a part of something bigger than myself, to pursue something that I could be passionate about while making an income.
It has grown into so much more than that.
I am a mom of three. Everyday my children are learning from me—the good and the bad. They watch. They listen. They emulate. They know what Sseko means, what we do, and why. My 5 year old son randomly asks people all the time, “Have you ever heard of Sseko?” He also wants to be a “Sseko Boy” and get his own pair of sandals one day! My 6 year old daughter loves our products and used money from her piggy bank to purchase her very own bandana this month! She tries to wear it everyday now! I was THRILLED to tell her we could finally order her very own pair of sandals this month. Mommy and me matching is one of her favorite things! And my two year old son will never know life without Sseko.
One day, my entire family will go to Uganda together. They will meet these women and hopefully be inspired to be change-makers themselves.
I have been gifted three little hearts to love and guide, and I’m beyond proud to show them that great change can happen when people come together, dream big, and continue to persist against the odds.
Children do not stay children forever. They will grow into adults, and I am hopeful my children will become adults who stand for justice, equality, and empowerment, adults who believe in themselves and see the best in everyone around them, adults who see the gap between what is and what could be and choose to stand in it.

Business versus Charity

Why is Sseko Designs a business?

The concept that you can buy a beautiful, on-trend fashion piece that has a big impact in this world is still a bit foreign to us.

I get asked at many parties, “What percentage of this sale is going towards the women?” This is an example of the charity mindset. If I were doing a fundraiser where I sell something to raise money, a percentage of every sale would definitely be going towards the person or group the fundraiser was for.

But Sseko Designs is NOT a giant fundraiser for our Ugandan women.

We are a business.

My Ugandan Ssisters are my co-workers. They make our products, and we share them with our communities here in the USA. They are TALENTED  They work full-time, training, learning new techniques, perfecting each item, etc. They are proud of their work, and the more we sell, the more our business grows. Our women are paid like many Americans with a full-time job. They receive benefits like health insurance and maternity leave. This is far from the norm in Ugandan, but it SHOULD BE.

The university bound women leave our program with a passion to change the way their communities see them. It is the overwhelming view in Uganda that women are for child-bearing and caring for the family. They cannot work because they are not capable of work. They are not useful, valuable, or worthy, especially in comparison to a man.

We are proving this wrong.

We believe through our growth, other companies in Uganda will see the value women have, how capable they are, and how a business can thrive when it cares for its employees well. There is change happening in Uganda. And Sseko is a huge part of that change. I would love to have you see the immense value of purchasing a Sseko bag rather than a Target bag. Sseko Sandals rather than a pair from Old Navy. Because yes, our price tags might be higher than you normally spend, but it’s because of fair wages, dignified work, and the dream of changing a country. Also, they ARE going to last at least 5x longer (and that’s a conservative estimate).

Also ladies…

Our products are seriously amazing.

Give us a try. Join hands with us. We are world-changers, big dreamers, and will continue to persist.


 

Beginning the Journey of Fostering to Adopt

We are coming to the end of our journey to become foster parents. And then an entirely new journey will begin.

It doesn’t seem real. Envisioning what it will be like to receive a call and welcome a sweet baby girl into our home…the possible pain, the hard stuff, the good stuff…it’s all impossible for me to imagine.

But we are almost there.

This process has honestly been fairly simple. I have enjoyed our trainings, our interactions with the lovely humans who run Methodist Children’s Home in Tyler. They care about these families, these children, and believe in thoroughly preparing the foster families. They are invested. I am so thankful for their commitment and tireless hours spent caring for these children and their families.

Our journey began with an application, background checks, and an interview. Then once approved, we began our trainings. We mainly met every other Monday night and went through slideshows of information. We learned a lot, some things we knew, some things we didn’t. Some of it was very hard to hear. Stories of babies, of children who were neglected, abused, abandoned. It was heart-wrenching, but solidified me that much more.

We got to know a couple of other families who were beginning their own journeys. We also had a few painless online trainings to do, along with a checklist of things to complete before our home study. We’re so close on that checklist! Next week we have our CPR training and fire inspection. We’ll also need a health inspection that isn’t quite scheduled yet.

Basically, by the end of February we could be ready to take in our first foster child.

Wow.

I’m a bit in awe. I have butterflies in my stomach. My heart is beating a bit faster as I write these words.  My hands are growing clammy. Ahh!

I’m so excited and so nervous at the same time.

So who is this child going to be?

Your case worker will encourage you to be specific, to not be afraid to ask. And it feels wrong. It does. But I had read and spoken to other mamas who fostered to adopt and knew it was best to be honest with your hopes.

Our case workers knows we ultimately would love to adopt, and we felt like (and they agreed) that we should keep the birth order. We have a 6.5 yr old girl, 5 year old boy, and 2.5 year old boy. Our oldest has always longed for a sister (and has 5 boy cousins!). I have longed for her to have a sister. I just knew Haddon was a girl and we chose a very special name. I was obviously wrong! But that name has lingered in my mind, always making me feel like this sweet girl will one day exist, and this name will be hers.

So we said we would take in girls, ages 0-2.

This does make some aspects of preparing difficult. Thankfully we have all of Tessa’s baby clothes (longed for a girl, remember?!) and a crib that can convert to a toddler bed. Everything else we’ll buy or borrow when we know more.

Race preference? None. We aren’t naïve. We know having a sweet girl with a different skin color could cause her pain and confusion in the future. But we are committed to navigating that journey with her with as much wisdom as possible from the very beginning. Our families on both sides are already diverse! So my hope is that if her ethnicity is different than ours, she will never doubt for an instant that she is loved dearly and is our daughter. But we enter into this with a posture of humility, knowing we will never know everything on how to parent (biological or adopted children!) and will always be learning along the way.

This journey could take many forms. Our first foster child could become our daughter, or it could be our 5th. It could happen in a year. It could be several. But we are committed to loving her (them) to the best of our ability, to helping her (these girls) feel safe and stable, and to providing nurturing that is integral to a newborn’s well-being and/or joyful childhood memories.

We might get a little broken a long the way. Or a lot broken. I might became angry, depressed, afraid, lost. But I know that we have a community that will love us through all of it. Family who will be here. An agency that truly cares about the emotional battles we will face.

And I feel at peace.

Every child deserves to be loved, to feel safe, to laugh. Above all else, that is our goal.

I would love for you to follow along, to be a part. To rejoice with us and cry with us. To pray for us, these families and these girls.

Welcome to our journey.

Winter 10×10 Capsule!

I honestly had no idea this challenge was happening till the day it began! That meant a scramble in the midst of an already full evening to get laundry done and a photo taken before I had to get to an event. Today I planned everything out in more detail. I also decided to do the challenge with my daughter! When I planned her fall wardrobe, I was more purposeful than I have been in the past, choosing items for her that were interchangeable and more of a capsule collection than I’ve ever thought to do before, so it really wasn’t difficult to decide on her items. She’s an uber girly girl (all things pink and sparkly, hates jeans!). My minimalist and ethical fashion journey began for me when I joined Sseko in 2016, so I am still fairly new to this world. I loved discovering how many choices I had that would actually work!

If you do not already know, I am an Impact Entrepreneur with Sseko Designs. It’s direct sales with HUGE impact in East Africa. What I love about Sseko is our versatility. So many things we produce can be worn 2 ways or more! If I had our new Shift Dress in black, it would have definitely been a part of this collection (launching Monday!!! Eek!). You can wear it backwards with scoop neck, front with a deep V or low V with a high low look on the bottom. I do have our Duster in Pink Swirl (also available Monday! Follow me to receive the link to shop!) which I LOVE. Our Multiway shawl can literally be worn at least 5 ways, and more depending on how creative you want to be! But I decided not to include mine this time around, mostly because I love the Duster! The MWS will also be available in Pink Swirl.

Here are my 10 picks for my Winter Capsule!

1. Sseko Duster in Pink Swirl (handmade in Uganda!)

2. Cream Sweater from Stitch Fix (3 years ago?)

3. Chambray Button Down from ON (had it for years without wearing because I couldn’t get the pockets to stay down! Solved that problem last week!)

4. Tuesday Dress in Dusty Pink from Krochet Kids

5. Striped Top from Loft

6. Cream Sweater Cardigan I’ve had for years! Not sure where I got it from now.

7. Black PACT Top

8. Skinny Jeans from Loft

9. Boots I’ve had for YEARS from Target maybe? Adelisa and Co. pair are in the mail!!!

10. Sseko Accent Rues (because I can change out my accents + it’s 65 degrees today!)

My daughter’s Capsule includes…

1. Chambray Dress, bought secondhand

2. Owl Sweater purchased from local consignment

3. Grey Ruffled Sweater from Target

4. Pink Floral purchased from Once Upon a Child (love it soooo much!)

5. Grey Heart Cardigan given to us by a friend I think!

6. Kindness T-Shirt from The Kind Project

7. Denim Skirt bought seconhand

8. Pink Plaid Skirt from Crazy 8 (emergency purchase for school function!)

9. Adelisa & Co. Mary Janes

10. Pink Sneakers from Osh Kosh she received for Christmas

She also will will wear her knee highs from Violet Pedals Apparel, tights, and shorts under her skirts. I didn’t count those in her 10 because we don’t count socks, right?!

A note about my necklace from today, it’s our Sseko Suede Brave necklace  Our charms are interchangeable, so it’s the perfect addition for a minimalist’s jewelry collection. These along with the rest of our Brave Jewelry are available through yours truly! Just click “shop now”!