Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Soothe Sunburns With Lemon-Sage

One of my favorite things about summertime is the fresh produce I can purchase locally. The crisp tastes and smells of summertime fruits and vegetables are one of my favorite parts of the season. Then I discovered Thistle Farms’ Lemon-Sage line – a brand new scent that perfectly mixes the freshness of summer with the soothing, healing, loving aromas of Thistle Farms. The candle is a perfect, residue-free way to brighten up my home and bedroom! Lemon-Sage has replaced my former favorite scent, Tuscan Earth. It smells like summer while keeping my skin healthy and replenished.

In addition to summertime fruits and veggies, I love lying in the sun. Unfortunately my skin is sunburn-prone even after applying sunscreen. I’ve been using Thistle Farms Body Butter to heal my sunburns for years, but now I can smell like summer while healing my skin! The body products use the essential oils of lemon and sage to completely heal my sunburned skin. Lemon cleanses old toxins and restores my burnt skin while sage provides a calming sensation to my body and mind.

Another sun-loving Thistle Farmer agrees. Shana, one of our sales representatives, said, “I love the meaning behind the lemon-sage. The lemon is a cleanser and the sage is a detoxifier, and together they represent a pure, clean love.” She applies the Lemon-Sage Body Balm on her skin to help her get a better tan (in addition to sunscreen, of course). And afterwards, Shana uses the Lemon-Sage Body Butter to keep her skin refreshed and soothe any accidental sunburns.

Expanding the product line offers me one more way to support our Thistle Farms women. By simply purchasing one of our products, you are helping empower women, like Shana, who have survived lives of violence, addiction, and prostitution. Lemon-Sage is now available on our online store and with our fabulous retailers.

By Anna, Thistle Farms intern

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bug Love

Mosquitoes love me. I don’t know why, but they love me. Ever since I was a little kid, each year by June my skin is covered in mosquito bites.  Bug spray helps, but it smells awful and is rarely all-natural. I know I’m not the only one out there that has this problem, and finally I found a way to fix it: Thistle Farms’ Geranium Spray!

Thistle Farms always says, “Love heals.” This summer Thistle Farms’ love will be protecting my skin from mosquito bites. More bugs are expected this summer due to the mild winter temperatures. Love and protect your skin by using our Thistle Farms’ Geranium Spray and Geranium Shower Gel. Geranium oil has long been regarded as an effective, natural mosquito repellant. We added lemongrass, lavender, and citronella to create a spray with a light, crisp scent. Our shower gel and spray are chemical-free and the perfect solution for a bug-free summer.

Our geranium oil comes from Ikirezi in Rwanda. Ikirezi is a community-interest business that partners with small cooperatives of farmers. Ikirezi primarily works with widows and orphans of the genocide in a holistic effort improve their livelihoods, and rebuild their communities. It’s amazing how many ways we can support others in need while also keeping our bodies bug-bite free.

Another great geranium option is the Summer Survival Kit. It offers both geranium favorites in a bag hand-sewn by the women of Lwala in Kenya.  The kit includes a Geranium Spray, a Geranium Shower Gel, and a Lip Smoothie – an all-natural, healing remedy for sunburned lips. Supporting three women’s enterprises, the Summer Survival Kit makes a great summer birthday gift.

So make your summer better like I have and use our geranium spray! You’ll keep the bugs away and empower women worldwide. The Summer Survival Kit and both geranium products are available online and in our retail stores.

By Anna, Thistle Farms Intern

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Meeting With The Commissioner

Thistle Farmer and Magdalene resident (soon to be a graduate!), Lydia Macklin, is also a published author. She has been in a variety of different magazines and newspapers, including Nashville's The Contributor.  Thanks to one particular article Lydia wrote about her experiences, the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services, Racquel Hatter, contacted Lydia and asked to set up a meeting with her.

Lydia shared her story of meeting with the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner Shalonda Cawthon, and Customer Service Assistant, Sumita Banerjee:

We met for an hour about my aritcle that I wrote in The Contributor. She is trying very hard to change the structure of the department and meeting with different people to get views on what works and doesn't work in the system. We discussed how we can remove the stigma attached to recieving services from the department -- something to fight the myths that surround the type of people that receive assistance. She asked detailed questions about how the department could improve. We discussed about reducing the amount of paperwork involved in applying, and possibly allowing updates online. We asked each other a lot of questions. She was very friendly, and was truly interested in how she can improve the Human Services Department. 

We're so proud of your accomplishments, Lydia!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Get To Know Cynthia

Cynthia, a native of Columbia, TN, learned about the pain of addiction at an early age. “I had my first drink at five and my first experience with marijuana when I was six. My father gave it to me.” Cynthia and her three sisters lost their father to a jail fire when Cynthia was nine and a half. After that, her mother became less present in the lives of her children.

“I had my first child at age thirteen and had three kids by the time I was sixteen. That’s when my mom left us. I had to raise my children alone and help teach one of my older sisters how to read.” Left to fend for herself, Cynthia says that she became full-blown addict by the time she was eighteen. She remembers the day she got in the car with a dope dealer, left her children on the side of the road, and did not sober up until three days later in Indianapolis, IN. “I came to and just remember trying to find my children. Eventually, I got word from my mom, and she told me what I had done. The next few years were just a series of broken promises, telling my kids I’d be home to see them and knowing I wouldn’t.”

 Cynthia turned to prostitution, which began at a very early age. “I was molested by my first cousin when I was eight.” The course of Cynthia’s addiction took her through multiple charges and arrests across the state of Indiana, and she would not be finished using until she was thirty-four.

“My cousin Regina asked me, every time she saw me, if I had finally gotten tired of living that way. For years, I brushed her off." But after another arrest, Cynthia found her way to Magdalene. “I remember my sister coming to get me, and I was looking back and forth between a crack pipe and the sky. I finally just said to the crack pipe, ‘You have taken my life,’ and I told God I was going to step out on faith.” Cynthia settled into the Magdalene Community."I  just remember that Becca was normal like me, and she had so much love. I didn’t think priests were like that.”

Now a Magdalene Graduate, a member of the sales team at Thistle Farms, and a happily married woman, Cynthia continues to hold on to one exchange from her first days at Magdalene. “Becca gave me a hug, and every time I wanted to quit, I remembered that hug. If she hadn’t hugged me like that, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Cynthia now celebrates her recovery by reaching out to others and publishing a memoir entitled A Little Girl Grows Up. “I want every woman who can be helped by the book to be able to read it. I want her to be able to say that it happened to her, and it happened to me, too. But I too can overcome this. ” 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Resurrection, Redemption, and the Race Ahead

On Friday, May 25, we honored nine women who completed the two year Magdalene program. The Women of St. Bartholomew's hosted the joyous occasion and local entrepreneur, Margaret Ellis, wrote an inspiring talk which she shared with the graduates. Read her gift below, see more photos from the celebration HERE and watch a moving slideshow presentation of the women by director Becky Fluke HERE.

Resurrection, Redemption, and the Race Ahead

It is such an honor to be here today, to celebrate with you this wonderful day in each of your lives and to celebrate the beauty of Magdalene House and the very dynamic program that goes on here. I first found out about this program a few years ago, and have come to love the work that goes on here, and the fact that, in this place of safety, lives are truly changed.

Nothing is more inspiring to me than the human capacity for change. I donʼt know each one of you personally, but I do know, because I know something of the program of Magdalene, that you have all finished this course as far different people, in much different circumstances, than you started. Now, you have reached a very important milestone and you are ready to change again, to whatever is next. These life-changing moments donʼt happen too often in the story of oneʼs life. They are markers along the path, rest stops along the journey.

Change is always a bit scary--especially when it involves moving on from a place of comfort and support into the unknown rest of our lives. But, I think I can promise you this--if you can go through the changes you have gone through to get to this place, on this day, then you can handle anything that is down the road from here.

It is very easy to allow the challenges of everyday life to overwhelm us. I am pretty sure that this is true of everyone, and it is certainly true of me. I think thatʼs why we need to constantly remind ourselves that the spiritual is far more real than the everyday events of life. There are two spiritual principles that really describe what is going on at Magdalene; resurrection; being brought up from despair, and redemption; having our lives changed so completely that truly old things pass aways and all becomes new.

These concepts, and learning to apply them to our own lives, are one of the greatest things that Jesus came to teach us. It is so beautiful that each one of us can truly be re-born as new creatures, and that whatever has happened in our pasts, either to us or through us, can all be set aside and forgiven. Part of your redemption has been to forgive others, part has been to forgive yourselves.

I donʼt know each individual story here today, but I have attended many of the Thistle Farms events where the beautiful women of Magdalene have told their stories. Each one of these stories is a testimony to the power of resurrection and redemption, and to the power of love. And once you truly grasp that these are not just abstract concepts, but gifts from God that belong to you, then you are truly free.

And now we move on to the race ahead. I am sure that each of you is happy today. Look what you have accomplished and how far youʼve come. You have not only changed your own lives, but you have inspired others to do the same. I am also pretty sure that each of you is feeling that sense of uneasyness that comes with change; a chapter closes, a new one starts. If our lives were a play, the play would be in acts. So, as you receive applause today it is like being on the stage of the theatre of your life. One act is over, there will be a brief intermission, then another act begins. The difference is, in life, unlike in a play, we donʼt know exactly how the next act will look. And, we donʼt have a dress rehearsal. Our lives are not a book, that we can skip to the last chapter to see how it ends. And would we, even if we could?

What we can do, and what you have already learned to do, is lay the struggle down. I challenge you today to claim the love, the resurrection, and redemption that are yours. And as you proceed to the race ahead, walk in the power of change; the change that has happened in your lives and the power you have to inspire change in others. You can face the future with hope in your hearts and with assurance that you are up for the journey. We donʼt have to figure it all out today, all we have to do is make today a day of light, and then get up and do the same thing tomorrow. But you already know that. And you know everything else you need to know to walk in the victory of a woman warrior who has already conquered demons. I am in awe of you. And you inspire me tremendously. So, take a minute, catch your breath, then fasten your seat belts and go forward in your journeys--full speed ahead.

By Margaret Ellis