19 December 2015

Day 18: I don't want to wear a dress

I really didn’t want to wear a dress yesterday. I took the dog for the run early in the morning and didn’t have a chance to shower before the kids got up. We didn’t have plans to go anywhere, so I really just wanted to stay in my running clothes (it was a colder morning, so no sweat). I kept telling myself that I just wouldn't today. Justifying it with excuses of not showering, not leaving the house, no one will see it any way, etc. But I kept thinking about the men, women and children caught in slavery, no choices, no dignity, no freedom.

I put on a dress, because I believe it is bigger than a dress. The dress represents my freedom and dignity. It represents everything these men, women and children deserve in life.

I really didn't want to wear a dress yesterday. She really doesn't want to have sex. I have a choice. She doesn't, for now. My choice can help change that. Will you help me? Please go to support.dressemberfoundation.org/rachelengelman

07 December 2015

Dressy Dresses and the first 6 Days

Day 3 - this one has pockets :)
Day 2 - cold day means
sweater dress
Day 1 - wearing red for #bebrave

It's day 7 and I miss pockets. It’s helpful to be able to whip out a tissue before the booger hits the couch. Or have my phone handy to capture the fleeting moment when Cora is gently guiding Toby instead of pulling a toy from him. I do have a few dresses with pockets and so far have gravitated to those, but I’ve been trying to figure out a solution. Sweaters with pockets? Cargo vest? Maybe that’s why fanny packs were so huge during the spandex-clad 80’s. 

Day 6 - dress repeat, because this
one has pockets, and it's a sweater!
Day 5 - same dress, today we
got our Christmas tree
Day 4 - this dress has no pockets,
but I feel it should. Sewing project?


I’ve also found that a dress is, well, dressy. Even though I may try to “dress it down” by wearing boots instead of heels or funky jewelry, it’s still dressy. A dress stands out in my day-to-day life of dropping Cora off at school, grocery shopping and walking the dog. Just wearing a dress has given me the opportunity to share about Dressember’s goal of bringing dignity to all women and the courageous work of International Justice Mission. I have read on Dressember’s Facebook page about women who wear semiformal dresses, just to get that reaction. I’m not sure I’ll go to the back of my closet and pull out my pale purple prom dress quite yet, but you never know, I have 24 days left.

Missing pockets is better than missing a childhood. Go to support.dressemberfoundation.org/rachelengelman to join me in giving children back their childhood.

29 November 2015

Freedom. Dignity. Creativity.

“Because we believe we can’t be super advocates, we stop advocating at all.”

I am about to embark on a journey. To wear a dress every day for the month of December. It is a challenge that at first seems frivolous and unimportant, but on closer look, perhaps it is just the thing to get people's attention.

What: Dressember is a campaign started by Blythe Hill (watch her TED talk here). Originally she wore a dress every day of December because she was bored and needed a creative outlet. When friends of friends and women she didn’t know started doing it with her, she knew she had a movement, and a way of changing the world through wearing a dress. This is Dressember’s third year partnering with International Justice Mission, an organization “that protects the poor from violence in the developing world” (www.ijm.org). The statistics are heartbreaking: it is estimated that over 35 million people are currently trapped in slavery in our world, 50% of them are children, 70% are female. IJM actively rescues those caught in slavery and the sex trade, works with victims and courts to bring justice, and helps with rehabilitation for the victims.

What caught my attention: I’ve read stories of human trafficking. All are heartbreaking, but the stories of children break my heart the most. Children as young as my own sweet girl, and younger. I’ve wanted to do something, but what? That is always the question. What can I do? How can I make a difference? I’m a stay-at-home mom. My interests are reading and writing and cups of tea. My life is consumed with diapers, getting dressed in the morning and pjs at night, driving to and fro. As Blythe says in her talk, my interests seem shallow compared to the overwhelming evil. So what can I do?
Thanks to Facebook, I found out about Dressember where I commit to wearing a dress every day of the month of December, and you sponsor me.
I like wearing dresses. I counted how many I have in my closet and (including fancy dresses) there are thirteen. Thirteen dresses. And that doesn’t include my summer ones I’ve packed away for the winter. So, yes, I like wearing dresses, but I am also a jeans girl and this will be all month long. In December. In New Hampshire. Whatever discomfort I will have will be nothing compared to what those caught in slavery and human trafficking endure. I will be posting pictures of my dress journey here throughout the month.

So, will you join me? I am not a super advocate, but I will be a voice. Will you speak up with me? My fundraising page can be found here.

25 June 2015

The Cost of a Family Photo

I planned a family outing to the New England Aquarium for Father’s Day. It ended up being a rather stressful trip, at least during the traveling to and from the Aquarium. Originally, we were going to take public transportation, but it was raining hard all day and walking from the T station in the rain as well as lugging a stroller on and off a train wasn’t sounding like a good idea, so we parked in a nearby garage and walked a short way.  This ended up being a very wet walk anyway - pruny toes all day wet. The ticket booths for the Aquarium were outside (i.e. in the rain) and as soon as we got in the building they beckon you to the side and take a picture in front of a green screen. A picture they will charge you an exorbitant price to buy. Welcome to the Aquarium.

Once we walked in to the Aquarium itself it was great. Cora loved the large central tank that rose 3 or more stories up the center of the Aquarium. It house three huge sea turtles, rays, a shark or two, and lots of fish. She was mesmerized. So were Pete and I.

However, at the smaller side tanks a stroller made crowd navigation very difficult. It was like chariot racing with strollers, we should have added wheel spikes.

We thought it was busy before lunch, but everyone was just waiting till the afternoon. It got much busier. Cora was getting tired so Toby went on my back in the carrier and Cora rode in the stroller. We saw a few more things, the top of the giant tank was very cool, but we were on borrowed time with the kids. We rushed (as much as you can in pressing crowds with a stroller; wheel spikes, I’m telling you) past the octopus and jellyfish then paused at the stingray touch tank. Cora and I got to be right at the edge and touch a sting ray. Most of them were smaller, 12-18 inch wing-span, but there was one huge leopard spotted ray that was nearly four feet wide!

By the time we left the ray tank Cora was melting and Toby was asleep on my back...and we had forgotten to take a family photo. This is a chronic problem with us, we just always forget until it’s too late. So Pete hands me the card that has our photo number on it and takes Cora to the gift shop to buy a postcard.

I stepped up to the counter.
Me: Can I preview my photo please?
Him: I’ll print them out, then discuss pricing.
Me: No, I just want to preview it, to see if it is any good.
Him: I’ll print them out so you can see.
Me: Fine. (I hear numbers thrown around by the guy next to me, $20, $30, yikes!)
He lays out an 8x10 in a cardboard frame, two smaller loose photos and one smaller one in a plastic magnetic frame.
Him: $21 for the large one, $27 for the three smaller ones, $35 for all of it.
Me: How much for just this one? I hold up the 4x6.
Him: I’m sorry, it comes as a set.
Me: You’re kidding me?
He repeats the pricing.
The guy buying all of his photos next to me leans in and points to Toby: Is that your little guy?
Me: Oh my gosh! Someone pushed their kid into our picture!
Really?! say photo-guy and guy-buying-photos
Me: Ba-dum-ching. Naw, that’s my son. I get funny looks.
Me: So I really can’t just buy this one photo? Come on, after a punch line like that?
Him: Well...
Me: What do you do with them if I say no?
Him: We throw them away.
Me: In the trash?
Him: Yes.
Me: Can I say no, wait a few minutes then throw away this kleenex?
Small smile as he shakes his head.
Me: Five bucks for the 4x6.
He sighs, looks up and does a quick nod. I fish out cash and take my one photo.

At least, that’s what I wish I had said. Instead, my response was a quiet yup, that’s my son, a half-hearted attempt to haggle with the photo-guy and then I handed over my credit card to pay $27 for the pictures of our family - bedraggled from walking in the rain, Pete holding Cora, me leaning in next to them and one lonely hand on the stroller with poor Toby sitting sullen-faced.
Happy Father’s Day.