New Year, New Site

Hello, all! Hope you have all stuck around whilst I’ve been taking some time away from posting every waking moment. If so, I truly appreciate you and your support for my content.

With that appreciation, I now ask for a huge favor in my next endeavor. I’ve hinted at it in the past, but only recently have I taken the plunge and have gone head-first into new territory.

Yes, I now have my own domain, a new self-running website, and new content to spring at you. I want to fully dedicate myself to the world of blogging, which means each post will involve more time and effort to hopefully better serve as a resource for my readers.

So what’s new with my site? alliemaelynn.com is still just me, the same ol’ person at the keyboard typing away about whatever I deem important and inspirational to discuss. I’ll still be discussing the same types of topics I already do, including mental health, spirituality, and sustainability. These are all still very important to me.

However, I really want to hone in on these topics into one overarching goal: to help others live a life prioritizing wellness. I’ve always considered the term “wellness” as one requiring a multi-faceted understanding of physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of ourselves.

By becoming more mindful and grounded in what makes us better selves, we can then translate that into wellness beyond ourselves. We are more aware of how our choices and actions affect others and the world around us. This is where my passions for sustainability, veganism, and advocacy come into play. We establish the foundation of wellness within ourselves, and then we can focus our intentions outward.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what else is new besides an actual domain name? Since I plan to take more time with each post I write to ensure they can be easily shared and helpful for you, I’m cutting back on how often I post each week. Let’s be honest, it was already crazy busting out 5 posts every week, but I still plan on sharing 3 different posts: one post for your own wellness, one for outward wellness, and one for me just to chat about whatever tickles my fancy. As always, you can find these posts shared across my social media platforms with a new emphasis on Pinterest.

These three posts each week will also include a new tidbit at the end of my long-form rambling, and that is a mindful meditation. In a few short sentences, I’m including a spiritually inclined devotion to provide a higher focus and purpose behind what I share, as well as start the day on a gracious, humble foot. A goal for myself this year is to become more open and involved in my faith rather than tiptoe around it in fear of offending others, but at the end of the day, this is my site, and if you’re here for my opinions and beliefs, then that’s a big part of it.

Besides all that jazz, I’m just going with the flow and seeing where this new step takes me. With greater flexibility and independence on my own website, I really have no clue what possibilities could come from this, but I’d really love to be able to make my blog a “side hustle,” as the kids call it, and put my heart and soul into my work. Not like I already did, but now I have a reason to be more focused and serious about what I do as an online creative.

Again, thank you all so much for being a part of this journey. I highly encourage you to join me on alliemaelynn.com and subscribe to my posts. Share my site and posts with others who might benefit from them, and please provide any feedback you have so I can make my site a resourcefor you to enjoy.

Change is scary, and so is going into an unknown where I could fall flat on my face, but I’m ready for the challenge.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Think Before You Pink

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Wearing pink for breast cancer has become automatic and expected, but how much support are we providing to find a cure?

Although the month is coming to a close, every year you’re bound to see an endless array of color, not just from the changing leaves.

Pink merchandise and pink-related everything has become commonplace in October, all going toward the good cause of breast cancer. But have we ever really slowed down to really consider where this breast cancer awareness campaign originated? Or how it has spread to every inch of the public domain?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our immediate reaction then is to put our time and resources toward research, prevention, and treatment.

First off, when we think of all the pink surrounding us, we need to realize that for a majority of these “supporting” companies and products, pink designates awareness rather than research and treatment. Since the disease is so common, that means any contributions to public awareness are essentially pointless. When it comes to cancer, we don’t need to spend more time recognizing it’s there: we need proactive efforts to decrease the number and severity of cancer cases.

At the heart of it all, breast cancer awareness is marketing, and extremely successful marketing at that. Wearing or using pink products is an indicator for altruism, support for philanthropic causes, maybe personal ties to hardship. However, your pink doesn’t necessarily take into consideration if you’re actively contributing to breast cancer programs and what portion of proceeds you are. Any company can put a pink ribbon on its products since it’s not regulated by any agency. Some products sport pink ribbons to try to communicate that they are “healthy” and don’t contribute to breast cancer. Other products have a pink ribbon saying the company supports breast cancer programs even if the company’s contributions aren’t tied to the purchases of the specific product bearing the ribbon. Still other companies give a portion of an item’s cost to a breast cancer organization, but consumers might have to jump through some hoops for a donation to be realized.

Even if a product and company do tell people that a certain percentage of profit will fund breast cancer support, do they say which charities money is going to? As much as donating to charity sounds great, it can too often be manipulated to fund the charity and its employees only. Before making a purchase, ask questions. If money goes to “services,” are they reaching the people who need them most? How do screening programs ensure that women can get treatment? And how do breast cancer awareness programs address the fact that we already know that breast cancer is a problem and that action is needed in order to end the epidemic? Does the money go to truly addressing the root causes of the epidemic, like social inequities that lead to women of color and poor women dying more often of breast cancer, or environmental toxins that are contributing to high rates of breast cancer? I guess depending on how much you trust big business, you can take your chances, but I’d rather not. My personal values take priority, and if I’m voting with my dollar, it better be going to true support.

Some of the top-rated charities for breast cancer include the Breast Cancer Research FoundationNational Breast Cancer Coalition Fund, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. A big name for breast cancer donations is Susan G. Komen, but there have been mixed reviews over recent years for what some deemed excessive executive compensation and for “pinkwashing,” cause marketing with pink ribbons that allow companies to exploit the disease for profit. Despite the fact that it defines its mission as finding a cure for breast cancer, the organization spent $75 million on research in 2011, which is just 17 percent of its revenue, on finding a cure. Again, weigh things out for yourself so you can make the best decision possible.

My best advice, knowing all of this information, is to devote less energy toward pink products, allowing a middle-man to use your money without your complete awareness, and donate directly to top-rated organizations. Do your research. You’d think that if National Breast Cancer Awareness Month began in 1985, we’d have a cure by now. This may be due in part by corrupt spending and false marketing. Our individual intentions are good, but we also need knowledge in our back pockets before pulling out our wallets, whether the cause is breast cancer or anything else. If companies and organizations won’t be completely honest and up-front about their practices, that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve the truth, regardless of what color it sports.

Are you a pink supporter in October? Are these questions ones you have considered when buying things and participating in events?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

 

Impersonal Branding

Do we lose ourselves when trying to fit our mission, goals and personality into a molded “brand”?

What makes you stand out? What makes you unique? How do you rise above the crowd?

When faced with these kinds of questions, seemingly unavoidable whether you’re already in the workforce or are in college preparing to enter this world, are intimidating. They leave us with even more questions, ones that turn back to ourselves and our own self-esteems.

The latest buzzword when looking at the job world is “personal branding.” Especially for those in any media field, the key to embodying a “successful” employee is to have a very specific idea of who you are and what you represent. This is a reasonable expectation on the surface. It’s hard to pinpoint what you want out of a career if you don’t know much about yourself, but this concept might be going too far.

When you consider what you want out of life, those big questions you tend to avoid when people ask, “What are you planning to do after college?”, what comes to mind? For me, that’s helping in whatever way I can, hopefully through church-related activities and humanitarianism. I also would love to be self-employed, continuing to make content on a website that provide inspiration for others and let my creative juices flow.

So I don’t necessarily fall in line with the crowd, the majority of students around me studying mass communication. I see the politics and business structure the media world and want nothing to do with it. Since I’m learning more about that world each day, that opinion continues to prove itself true for me. Personal branding falls into that.

We are expected to establish a personal brand for ourselves, but what factors actually play into that? Well, if you want to be hired, especially in a certain company or realm in the industry, you’ll inevitably be adjusting yourself to fit what employers want. Your freedom to be unique is minimal. Because really, we aren’t all that different from one another. There’s bound to be somebody else who has the same kind of ideas and a similar personality as you do. All your “personal brand” is doing is establishing yourself as a competitor in a race hopefully coming out on top.

Personal branding turns ourselves into what the term insinuates: we’re advertising ourselves as products. What services and benefits am I providing you? When you step into a supermarket looking for a product, seeing the shelf full of brands trying to be “the best,” how do you accurately judge one versus the others? What crazy, brand-new ideas are left to somehow make us “unique”?

There’s a reason I’m not in business or advertising. There’s a reason I talk often about how much I loathe consumerism and the extremes of capitalism, how these extremes stem into our everyday mindsets, and this is no exception. Trying to describe everything I embody as a person cannot fit neatly into a two-sentence slogan or flashy label. You won’t get the full picture of who I am and what I can contribute to this world based on some selling point that, if effective, others will inevitably also use. So what are employers really basing their decisions on? Who a person truly is, or if they’re good salespeople?

Not to mention the immense pressure put on reputations. In media, one little mistake can completely change everything. Been there, done that. To think that we should never make mistakes or pursue ideas that don’t turn out is denying our humanity, our own freedom to learn and explore, our ability to grow and become better, more knowledgeable people. I don’t want to feel like I constantly have to prove myself worthy just because I can admit that I have flaws and am imperfect. If you can’t admit that about yourself, that feels like you’re denying nature itself.

In an environment where we’re all vying for a select number of positions, a professional game of musical chairs, it’s hard, even frowned upon, to simply support one another. To not fall into the competitive trap and help others pursue their ambitions rather than constantly focusing on ourselves and how we stand out. Which, if we’re all doing that, we end up all looking the same. The industry bigwigs know what they want, and we adhere to those standards. We can lose ourselves in embodying the key qualities employers are looking for, acting certain ways, even dressing certain ways, just to be considered for a job.

That sounds like the opposite of what I want to spend my life and career doing. I wasn’t made to fit into a perfect mold others somehow designated as the best. Anybody can toss out the selling words of “multimedia journalist” and “storytelling” and whatever else to entice people in. I even admit that there’s many people out there who also want to blog for a living or use their energy serving others. I don’t think my “personal brand” is overtly unique. Instead, I’m not a brand. I’m me. I’m just a person with ideas and a heart longing to travel and help people. If you like me, great, but I’m not about to sell myself to you to win you over. I want you to genuinely appreciate the real, honest me.

What are your thoughts on personal branding? There are certainly pros and cons, and varying opinions can really get the conversation rolling.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie