Thursday, May 30, 2013

For Love of Natalee & Stephany

Today is the eighth year anniversary of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. I have been following her story in detail since day one and it continues to break my heart that Natalee's family and supporters (like me, and so many others) are yet to find answers or an end to this devastating tragedy. I would like to take this day to honor the memory of beautiful Natalee and spread awareness of the injustice that has been served to her and her family at the hands of (not a man, but an animal): Joran van der Sloot.

Miss Natalee's Story
For those of you who aren't familiar with Natalee's story, she was a beautiful and brilliant eighteen year old young woman when she disappeared on a high school graduation trip to Aruba. After a few days of vacation fun on the island, Natalee was last seen by friends getting into a car with three local young men outside of this Carlos'n Charlie's restaurant/bar in the early morning hours of May 30, 2005. Those three men were later identified as brothers Deepack and Satish Kalpoe and (the case's permanent main suspect) Juran himself. Passport and bags still in her room and with Natalee nowhere to be found, her family and Aruban authorities were notified when she missed the scheduled group flight back to the United States later that morning. Natalee's parents immediately flew to Aruba and her search and investigation began. (Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway, is credited for having a huge impact on the case).

During initial questioning, Juran claimed he had dropped Natalee off at the entrance to her hotel, but security camera footage of the entrance and lobby quickly proved this to be the first of many false stories he would tell about what happened that morning. Soon after, he admitted to taking her to the beach, which is quite possibly the last detail we know (in absolute certainty) about Natalee's final hours, even after all these years.

Tips, theories, and even Natalee "sightings" poured in from all over the island in the days, weeks, and months following, which were ultimately fruitless for investigators and heartbreaking for her family.

Aruban authorities were of very little assistance to Natalee's family and friends during the first few days of her disappearance, claiming that tourists would often turn up after days of partying or simply exploring the island. Because the first few hours and days in missing persons cases are absolutely crucial to any investigation (and for the potential safe return of the person in question), these accusations were a huge mistake. If Aruban authorities had taken this case seriously from the very first report of a missing female tourist who was still in high school, there is a very good chance that Natalee's fate would not be a mystery to this day.

(Sidenote: Juran's father, Paul van der Sloot (now deceased), was a very powerful man in Aruba at the time Natalee vanished; a great deal of evidence supports the idea that Paul helped his son hide her disappearance and murder. This would explain why Juran's tracks and case evidence were completely covered from very early on in the investigation (at a time when witnesses had fresh descriptions and the island was being searched inch by inch). Many people have theorized that Juran's father not only pulled strings as far as the investigation was concerned, but that he actually may have helped Juran physically dispose of Natalee's body.)

Beth Holloway: Mother (& Hero)

Beth did not waste a single second trying to protect Natalee from what was her immediate worst fear upon hearing the news that her daughter was missing in another country. She flew to Aruba, demanded answers, and was persistent with the people who might be able to provide them.

Beth is a true hero. Not only has she consistently continued to seek answers in her daughter's case, but she has dedicated herself to helping other victims and families involved in missing persons/murder cases. She is a woman who has turned her own trauma into helping others and she deserves to be praised for her strength, knowledge, and encouragement.

Here are some of the programs Beth is involved with:

Natalee Holloway Resource Center
Vanished with Beth Holloway

May 2010 (Extortion) 

After causing Beth years of emotional torture and heartache, Juran committed the ultimate act of torment when he promised to provide her with the exact whereabouts of her daughter's remains in exchange for $250,000. Guided by a team of legal authorities, Beth accepted his extortion deal and sent Juran a large sum of money. (The deal and promised expectations, of course, ultimately turned out to be as false as Juran's first alibis.) 

May 30, 2010 (The Murder of Stephany Flores)
Exactly five years to the day of Natalee's disappearance, the monster in Juran burst forth again. Much like Natalee, 21 year-old Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramirez would be last seen alive with Juran. Stephany came across some kind of e-mail (or possibly a website/comment) on his computer regarding his involvement in Natalee's case and questioned him about it. Being the dangerous man he is, Juran lost his temper and strangled the breath right out of Stephany with his bare hands.

Security camera footage from this hotel distinctly shows Juran and Stephany walking into the hotel room, then Juran walking out (alone) hours later. No one else was shown walking into the room until police entered and found Stephany's lifeless corpse.

If Juran's involvement in Natalee's case could not be proven with concrete evidence up to this point, this act should be more than confirmation that he is guilty. Stephany's killing entirely proves that not only is Juran capable of murder, but that after five years, he did not feel any remorse for what he did and was able to kill again. Even more so, his anger toward Stephany for merely questioning his involvement with Natalee is what triggered the temper tantrum that led to her cold blooded murder. Why would he possibly react this way if he was innocent?

Ultimately, Juran confessed to the murder of Stephany Flores which (again) unbelievably took place on the five year anniversary of Natalee's unsolved disappearance.

January 12, 2012 (Death Declaration) 
With no body, remains, or any absolute hard proof of her actual death, many Natalee supporters have remained hopeful that time would bring answers regarding her whereabouts (or, at the very least, her remains). Almost a year and a half ago, however, Natalee was pronounced dead by a judge at her father's request. Loving mother Beth fought this declaration, to no avail.

Juran currently sits in Peruvian jail. When he is released, he will be returned to the United States to face extortion charges against Natalee's mother.

Please take this day to offer up your thoughts and prayers to the families of Natalee Holloway, Stephany Flores, and even Juran van der Sloot. I hope and pray that Natalee's family will one day get the justice and answers they deserve. Please consider the following references for more information on these case(s):


Loving Natalee by Beth Holloway
Aruba by Dave Holloway

Natalee Holloway 
Justice For Natalee Holloway

Natalee -and Stephany- you are never forgotten.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rescue Me

Now that it's getting warmer outside, many people consider and long for summer fun with a pet. From taking your dog on a walk around your neighborhood to going to/playing at dog parks, beaches, sprinklers, camping, baseball games, 4th of July activities, and your own family pool -- there is often summer fun that only a furry family member can fulfill. I am certainly an animal lover, and if you have not yet had the opportunity to enjoy some of the great fun (and love) a pet has to offer, I suggest you do so!  

If you are thinking about getting a pet, summer is a perfect time for the whole family to adopt an animal. Where to start when adding a new member to the family? 

Some important things to consider (especially if you have children) are age, size, and breed. Be sure to do your research on all of these things. The most important choice you can make, however, is the decision to rescue your new best friend, instead of purchasing him or her from a pet store. 

Making the decision to rescue a pet is a fail-proof way to bring yourself (and your family or loved ones) a great deal of joy while living cruelty free. There are many different ways to rescue a pet, but one easy way to start is through a local animal shelter. There are dozens of abandoned animals in your local pet shelter just waiting for a family to take him or her home. Just one walk through at one of these shelters will give any animal lover chills. One great (national) place I am happy to mention here is Petsmart Adoptions.

Since 1994, Petsmart alone has saved close to 5,500,000 pets' lives! Props and applauds to all who have contributed to these efforts! Unfortunately, there are still many pets who need to be rescued right now. In fact, due to the overpopulation of homeless animals, 4 million pets are euthanized annually. If you break it down, that makes for 11,000 pets that are euthanized each day. Aren't these statistics alone enough to make you want to rescue a pet now -- especially if you were considering buying one?! Many Petsmart pets are purebred, so even if you have your heart set on a particular breed, Petsmart may very likely be able to help you find your next furry family member. 

Where do most unwanted animals come from? 
According to a recent study done by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), Petfinder offers us the top ten reasons both cats and dogs are abandoned in the United States. 

Top 10 Reasons Dogs Are Abandoned:

1) Moving (7%)
2) Landlord doesn't allow pet (6%) 
3) Cost of pet maintenance (5%) 
4) Too many animals in household (4%) 
5) Owner having personal problems (4%)
6) Inadequate facilities (4%) 
7) Having no time for pet (4%) 
8) Pet Illness(es) (4%) 
9) No homes available for litter mates (3%) 
10) Biting (3%) 

Cat lover instead? Here are the stats you should be checking out... 

Top Ten Reasons Cats Are Abandoned:

1) Too many animals in household (11%) 
2) Moving (8%)
3) Allergies in families (8%)
4) Landlord not allowing pets (6%)
5) Cost of pet maintenance (6%)
6) No homes available for litter mates (6%)
7) House soiling (5%) 
8) Owner having personal problems (4%) 
9) Inadequate facilities (2%)
10) Incompatibility with other pets (2%)

Almost half of both dogs and cats abandoned had been owned for only 7 months to 1 year before being kicked to the curb. For reasons and of no fault of their own, these animals are simply kicked out of what they thought was their homes. It is humans who decide to take these animals in. It is, then, those same humans who decide to get rid of these animals who have (almost always) done nothing to deserve it. Those animals who have behaved poorly in reasons listed above (biting, soiling, etc.) can surely have behavioral alterations through training. Animals need to be trained to live in a home, they do not know how to do such automatically. It is us humans who are supposed to provide the training if we opt to get a pet. We are supposed to provide love and care to the pet, just as we would for any other member of the family. We are supposed to provide veterinary visits and everything else that having a pet and keeping it safe and healthy entails. It is unfair for any animal to be left uncared for, untreated, and abandoned. 

We cannot control what other humans do. We can, however, help to reverse others' abusive actions by beginning to do our part to make sure this world is cruelty free. For example...

Upcoming summer fun is not the only reason to do your part now. The violent weather in the Oklahoma area this week has caused many pets to be separated from their families, obviously due to no fault of the family. There are ways to not only rescue pets, but also to simply donate to different causes that will help get these animals back to their proper owners and homes. Here are some other great sites with information about protecting pets by rescuing/saving them: 

Humane Society
I Love Rescue Animals
ALIVE Rescue
Animal Rescue, Inc.
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Staying cruelty free, 


Sunday, May 5, 2013

STOP Cyberharrassment

Online social interactions have become a regular occurrence in our everyday lives, so much that many users feel completely comfortable in their our online zones. Many of us choose to participate in social networking sites, posting photos and information for others to see, whether it is shared with just friends or the general public. Who exactly can see your posts though? What can others do with that information? 

While I have briefly discussed ways to Bust Bully Behavior, I want to focus on a very specific type of bullying in this post. Online outlets have become a faceless way for bullies to (often anonymously) harass their victims, both adolescents and adults. When the harassment or focus on one particular person becomes an obsession, however, the situation becomes a definite cause for concern.

Norton describes cyberstalking as the use of technology to harass someone. Common characteristics include false accusations against someone, monitoring and following that person's online footsteps, threats to the victim (including sexual advances, violence, or anything involving someone close to the victim), identity theft, and data destruction or manipulation. Cyberstalking also includes the exploitation of minors, be it sexual or otherwise. All of these, and any other types of cyberstalking can be hurtful and harmful, among the many other aggravations it creates. 

Cyberstalking is considered a serious offense, as it can dismantle relationships, reputations, and credit (among other things). When this unwanted harassment crosses the line to obsessive behavior, the cyberstalker has also entered the realm of criminal territory in many cases. You can stay updated on cyberstalker and cyberharassment laws in your state here (as provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures). 

Victims of cyberstalkers can become very frustrated with trying to find answers and avoid online encounters or attacks. Aside from staying aware and knowledgeable, there are other things you can do to prevent cyberstalking from happening in the first place and, of course, what to do if you have already become a victim. 

Stay Password Protected
There is no need to catch password paranoia, but password protection is such a simple step to keep yourself free of cyberstalkers and online hackers. Be sure to keep track of passwords to all your accounts and update them regularly. If you have any reason to suspect that someone has logged on, or has tried to log on, to an account of yours, always change your password and notify the website. Additionally, your password should not be something that someone might be able to guess. After a few days of following the few tips listed below, you will automatically become prone to password safety. Here are some of my favorite safety password tips: 

  • No Names: Do not use names of any kind; they are far too easy to guess. This includes the use of your first or last name, your significant other's name, or any other relative/friend that is close to you (I would also suggest this for birthday numbers). I hope by this time everyone is aware that using your name in your password should be avoided, but I feel the need to it mention it just in case. 

  • Create Complicated Passwords: Who has time to type a long or intricate password just to check your e-mail? You do! (That is if you want to stay protected, of course.) Pick your word or words to use; it can be totally random, or a little closer to home, but not guessable. It might seem like a lot of work, but I suggest capitalizing random letters of that word. Something like capitalizing one letter in the middle of your password will automatically up the level of protection to your account. I also encourage you to use numbers and punctuation. The more numbers and punctation used, the better off you are! By this time, you are probably thinking there is no way you will be able to keep track of such a complex password... Good news! You can (almost always) opt to remain logged in to your account(s) on your own computer. This way, you do not have to type your password unless you want to. Nonetheless, I suggest logging out and back in every once and a while and always keep your password stored in a safe place to refer back to if needed! 

  • Security Questions: These have become a commonly featured step to create accounts and log back into them, whether you got locked out accidentally or someone successfully (or unsuccessfully) logged into your account without your permission. For this reason, security questions play a major role in staying safe. When creating your account, you might notice that some questions seem rather generic. It is not hard to find out, for example, what year you graduated from high school or what your favorite sports team is. When given the option (which you usually will be), opt for questions that you think would be the most challenging to answer. Much like your password, however, be sure to remember which questions and answers you selected, or you might find yourself locked out of your own account!

  • Keep It to Yourself: Do not give your password out to anyone! If any business, employer, or even bank is requesting for your password to any account for any reason, it is a scam. While it might be tempting to help out that poor Nigerian Prince who will be moving to your area in the next few months... DO NOT! There is only one person who holds the rights to your password: you! If there is any reason that a very trustworthy family member or friend needs your password for a legitimate reason, change your password immediately after their needs have been fulfilled. (Or, for added security -and what I recommend- simply do not give it out in the first place.)

Keep Your Profile/Site as Protected as Possible
Social networking sites work around the clock to update all of their features, including security features. These tools ensure protection to users and and provide credibility to the site itself. For example, all sites offer a "block" option if you are being bothered by a particular user. You can simply block that person, and he or she will appear to be non-existent to you on that site (and vice versa). No information, posts, photos, etc., are visible by the blocked user. Facebook in particular offers a large variety of privacy and security options to keep you safe. If you have not checked out the most recent privacy settings for sites you are involved with, be sure to familiarize yourself with them and update them accordingly. Here you will find some of Facebook's extremely helpful and time-saving security features for victims of hacked or harassed victims:  

Account Settings > Security > Secure Browsing, Login Notifications, Login Approvals, App Passwords, Trusted Contacts, Recognized Devices, and/or Active Sessions 

Through the "Active Session" option, you are able to see who has logged in to your Facebook, where/when they logged in, and what browser type they were using during their "visit" on your account. I strongly suggest making a habit of checking on your active sessions and making sure that yours is the only one listed. Facebook's accuracy is not always a 100% pinpoint of your exact location, but the tracking will always be somewhere around your general area. If there is a session noted that seems suspicious to you, you should end that session immediately and notify Facebook directly of the problem. You should also definitely change your password at this time. This is a great feature and has the potential to stop hackers and cyberstalkers right in their tracks. 

Above the Active Session option, you will see a category listed as "Recognized Devices." In this section, you can add the devices that are most likely to be used during your time spent on Facebook. For example, I primarily use Facebook on both my MacBook and my iPhone, both of which are listed under my recognized devices. Should someone log in from a device other than one of the two I have listed and approved, I will be automatically notified and can then investigate the situation. Keep in mind that unrecognized devices may not always be a cause for panic -you may have logged in earlier that day at a friends' home and simply forgot about it. If it truly is an unrecognized and unwanted device, however, you can take the same steps as discussed with Active Sessions. 

Furthermore, Facebook offers an even higher state of protection by giving you the option of getting notified (by phone or e-mail) immediately after a suspicious login is detected. "Login Notifications" and "Login Approvals" allow you to make the decision of whether or not your account is secure and all logins are approved by the account holder. 

Other sites surely have similar security options under settings, I am simply using Facebook as an example because I am impressed with their acknowledgment of hacking situations and their attempt to stop it. 

Google yourself

Online users can find information on just about anything on Google. Does this mean they also find information on you?  Unfortunately, yes, it many cases it does. You can and should do occasional Google searches of your own name, address, and/or phone number to find out what your online persona looks like. Cleaning up your online act can help you both personally and professionally. If you are surprised or uncomfortable with any links or information that come up while googling yourself, there are steps you can take to try to have those links removed from searches. Here is the best place to start when checking out how to have something removed (and other information about Google protection): Google Policies & Principles

Be Cautious of Friend Requests

I was introduced to the movie (and television show that has followed) Catfish by Mommy blogger Jamie (check out her awesome blog here: For Love of Cupcakes). The documentary follows the story of a young man named Nev and his romantic journey with, more or less, a fictional woman. She dupes him into falling in love with her by pretending to be someone she was not: a gorgeous, young woman who shared his own interests. The movie documents his ultimate heartbreak and devastation when he discovers the woman he thought he was speaking to did not actually exist. When the creators of the documentary got such an overwhelming response from online users with similar situations, they decided to make a MTV show to share the stories of others. 

The idea here is that you can never be too careful on the internet. You can never truly know who you are speaking with unless you have face-to-face interaction with that person at some point in time. For your own protection, please be careful and safe about who you add as a friend or follower online. Even more-so, be careful with what and how deeply you confide in that person. In the event that someone is "catfishing" or lying to you online, there are many different scenarios that could play out. Worse case scenario: well, we don't really even want to think about that, do we? Best case scenario: you get your heart broken by someone you thought you cared about. Don't get me wrong -- I know and am thrilled for those who have found loving relationships through the web, but we all know that is not always how that turns out. All I am saying is, be safe! Now go to your rooms. (Whoops, sorry, I am now checking out of Mom-mode.)

Unknown Links
You have surely been told not to click on unknown links or open strange e-mails since the days of AOL and start up modems. Unfortunately this rule is still in strong effect. Hackers and cyberstalkers can easily gain access to your information with just one careless click of an e-mail you think is harmless. These downloads can cause a lot more damage than you might think. Hackers are able to copy all of your information, down to each key stroke, if they can get you to click just one link. Just be very cautious about opening and clicking links you aren't entirely familiar with. 

Security Software
If you have reason to believe someone has hacked your computer or accounts, always run a scan on your computer from a security program. It is important to act immediately if this is the case. Here are some security software programs to take a look at: 

AVG AntiVirus
McAfee Security
Kaspersky Anti-Virus

These programs tend to be pricey, but most of them offer free trials for new users. In the end, it is worth it to keep yourself protected. 

The internet can be a very scary place if we do not use it responsibly. As always, I encourage you to speak out if you see something that looks suspicious or notice stalking behavior toward yourself or another person online. You can always report a specific user account, post, photo, or comment directly to the website or forum being used. In more dangerous cyberstalking cases, contact your police department for further help and protection against your stalker. 

Stay cruelty free, 


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Five Inspiring Marriage Equality Quotes by Celebrities

A huge part of living cruelty free involves regarding each human being in an entirely mutual and equal respect. This means that we should all be able to enjoy the exact same privileges and rights as any other. There is absolutely no reason for any person to be excluded or stripped of the rights that another person or group shares. Period. Discrimination in this day and age (especially in our country which celebrates freedom) is simply embarrassing. 

Social media sites have become such a great outlet for online users to take a stand against issues in unison and for individuals to make their voices heard. I am so very proud of the overwhelming support that has been demonstrated this past week with the popularity of the Human Rights Campaign (which took very little time to go viral). The now iconic red and pink equality symbol represents a national demand for equal marriage rights.

I present this issue simply as such: love is a feeling, it is far from a definition. No one person or group can claim love or keep it as their own. Love has been given to us to share, if we are lucky enough to get to experience it. If any one amongst us has found love, who is anyone else to try to take it way? Or minimize, belittle, or try to refrain it? 

We are all people, we are all sisters and brothers, and we are all sinners. When judged, we should be judged as a whole humanity. We should not be judged by the groups we have broken ourselves down into based on our own comfort levels and preference of commonality. 

In light of this week's Prop 8 consideration, here are five inspiring marriage equality quotes by celebrities as reported by the Huffington Post:

  • "It is each American's constitutional right to marry the person they love, no matter what state they inhabit. No state should decide who can marry and who cannot. Thanks to the tireless work of so many, someday soon this discrimination will end and every American will be able to enjoy their equal right to marriage." -Brad Pitt

  • "I am who I am because of the people who influenced me growing up, and many of them were gay. No one has any right to tell anyone what makes a family." -Drew Barrymore

  • "I think it's a very basic human-rights issue. Everybody has the right to marry the person they love and be represented as a couple and family. ... It's something that people will look back on in years to come and say, 'I can't believe it took so long for us to recognize this.' It'll be like segregation and giving women the right to vote." -Julianne Moore

  • "I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone." -Sean Penn

  • "...We're people and we're different, all of us. And we should be using our differences to bring ourselves closer together. You know? Not be afraid of something that we don't know. ... It's unfortunate that things take a while to progress like this, but it was a great, great victory for equality. I'm proud New York has the balls to stand up for what's right." -Justin Timberlake [on New York legalizing gay marriage]

Like some of these celebrities (and so many others nationally and world-wide), I believe that this effort is one that will be surprising, in retrospect, to future generations. As expressed, this simply boils down to human rights, the same as any other human rights movement we have ever faced together as a country. Let's take another step toward total equality.   

I would ask those of you who might be struggling with this change to please consider this: It is argued that homosexuality is a perversion and a sin. I do not (at this time, but will address in future posts) want to get into the many ways that heterosexuals can also be perverted/sinful in their acts, but we are certainly not talking about an exclusively sexual relationship in this matter. The "sin" at question here is two people loving each other so truly and so wholly that they want to commit the rest of their lives to each other. The "sin" is two people who love each other and have committed to each other, and who are asking the same exact rights as their peers enjoy (peers who have made the very same promises to their partners). 

To all of the many other celebrities and others who have supported this much needed cause, I applaud you! Let's please continue to use our voices to create change in this beautiful world we share with one another. 

Here are some other great resources to check out: 

Lastly, click here to find out what the HRC is doing to fight for equality in your state/community and/or to find ways you can participate. 

In living cruelty free, 


Thursday, March 28, 2013

For Emma (Locks of Love)

In honor of my little cousin's 20th birthday (which would have been yesterday), I would like to focus on a great cause that has been created for young cancer patients like her. Locks of Love is an organization that accepts hair donations exclusively for patients under the age of 21 who have lost their hair due to the continued treatment of a long-term medical condition. 

My cousin Emma eventually lost all of her hair while receiving chemotherapy treatments when she was in elementary school. This beautiful, brave little girl was attempting to conquer all of her schooling while fighting a horrible disease. She went to her classes every day with a bright smile and thinning hair, battling a disease that no child should ever have to face. 

Last fall, I decided to donate over twelve inches of my hair to Locks of Love in memory of darling little Emma. While I easily could have sold my hair, in my heart I am so grateful to know that more than one child (due to the length/thickness of my hair) has benefited from my donation. When I was considering the donation, a friend of mine who had donated to Locks of Love before reminded me what a difference it could make for a little boy or girl to be able to go to school with hair. 

In a world of pain, being a tiny bit more confident in front of his or her peers is one less thing that child would need to worry about. I am so grateful for that advice, as it truly put things into perspective for me. I realized that I can grow my hair out as many times as I want, but that little boy or girl (unfortunately) may have a very limited time to be able to benefit from my donation. 

I could not be happier that I decided to donate and I am constantly reminded of that decision. I often wonder and think about the children who are currently in possession of/wearing my hair right now, and it puts a smile on my face every time it crosses my mind. (I really wish I could see photos of these children with my hair!) Every time I look in the mirror and wish my hair was longer, I think about Emma and am so happy for the small contribution I was able to make in her honor. 

Thank you for taking the time to read about Emma and the Locks of Love organization. You can do your part by donating (hair or financially) to this awesome cause. 

"Every child is beautiful. You can help them feel beautiful by helping Locks of Love." Great Clips offers free haircuts to customers donating hair! If you are interested in donating your hair, here are Guidelines for Acceptable Hair Donations via Locks of Love

  • Hair that is colored or permed is acceptable. 
  • Hair cut years ago is usable if it has been stored in a ponytail or braid. 
  • Hair that has been bleached (usually this refers to highlighted hair) is not usable. If unsure, ask your stylist. We are not able to accept bleached hair due to a chemical reaction that occurs during the manufacturing process. **If the hair was bleached years ago and has completely grown out it is fine to donate. 
  • Hair that is swept off of the floor is not usable because it is not bundled in a ponytail or braid. 
  • Hair that is shaved off and not in a ponytail or braid is not usable. If shaving your head, first divide hair into multiple ponytails to cut off. 
  • We cannot accept dreadlocks. Our manufacturer is not able to use them in our children's hairpieces. We also cannot accept wigs, falls, hair extensions or synthetic hair. 
  • Layered hair is acceptable if the longest layer is 10 inches. 
  • Layered hair may be pulled straight to measure the minimum 10 inches. 
  • 10 inches measured tip to tip is minimum length needed for a hairpiece.
Find a Great Clips location near you here.

In memory of sweet little Emma, 


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Get Green

This planet is all of ours to share. In order to protect it (and, by extension, in order to promote cruelty free living), we must all pitch in and do our part. Here are some of the very both simple and effortless ways that you can go green and participate within your own community and/or home.

Reuse Grocery Bags 

Paper or plastic, grocery bags are extremely overused and are a huge waste of environmental space. These bags generally end up as street litter, in water (which can, of course, harm fish and other animals), or in landfills. Decomposition of these materials can take a century or more to occur. We can all opt to reuse our own grocery bags while shopping to help cut down on these problems. 

If you are accustomed to using disposable bags and can't seem to get on board with the idea of utilizing reusable ones, I would encourage you to save your paper/plastic shopping bags for other home usage before trashing them. Find great ideas for reusing plastic bags here

(Additional tip: If you send your child to school with a lunch from home, make sure he/she is using a reusable lunch bag/box instead of brown paper bags. Be sure to do the same if you bring a meal to work!)

Pick Up Trash

Yes, it is a nasty job, but someone has to do it! This is a great way to get your kids to acknowledge and appreciate the idea of protecting the earth. Get a group together and pick up garbage around your neighborhood or in a local park or forest district. This task is guaranteed to give you a great sense of self, while setting a great example for others (especially children). You should always emphasize to little ones what an effect each individual can have on the environment. 

Save From Home 

Oh, your parents didn't own the electric company either? Fortunately, there are many easy ways to go green without even leaving your home. (Dad: please continue reading for proof that these are lessons learned!)

It is so easy to start making a difference from home. If we are all a little more conscious of the ways in which we use energy and water we can collectively make a huge difference. The following tips will not just help save the environment, but will also save you money. Read on and save up!

One of the simplest energy savers to get in the habit of is being sure to turn out the lights when you are leaving a room. If you don't need the light, don't leave it on! 

If you can adjust your memory to remember to turn off unnecessary lighting, you should try to do the same with appliances that aren't in use. Items such as toasters, blenders, lamps, hair dryers/flat irons, cell phone chargers, and stereos/speakers only need to be plugged in while in use. It can be hard to get in the habit of unplugging electronics all the time, but especially if you are leaving the house or will be gone for an extended period of time (weekend trip, vacation, etc.), you should always remember to unplug your appliances back at home. 

I am sure you are aware of one of the most obvious ways to save water: take shorter showers. You can save huge amounts of water by cutting even a minute or two off your shower time. It really is as simple as that!

If you tend to take long showers, there are other ways to conserve water at home. When doing laundry, try to avoid washing one single item or very small loads of clothes. The water and energy it takes to wash/dry is not worth wasting on just a couple of items. If you live alone, wait until you have a larger load of clothes to wash before doing laundry. If you live with others, combine laundry when possible. This is a small effort that can make a huge difference! 

Here are some great water conservation ideas that take very little effort to observe. 

Carry a Reusable Water Bottle (...and use it!)

Sure, the convenience of buying bottled water at the checkout counter while on-the-go is always tempting, but bringing your own reusable water bottle/container with you as you go about your day has more benefits than you might think. 

First of all, the amount of plastic that goes into making bottled water is completely unnecessary! Many people do not recycle, so these plastic bottles wind up sitting in landfills of garbage for a ridiculous amount of time. 

Forget the coffee and soda! If you don't drink water on a regular basis, you probably don't realize how refreshing and energizing it actually is.  Keeping a reusable water bottle on you will encourage you to drink more water automatically. Check out the benefits of getting your daily dose of H2O here.

Also keep in mind that bottled water is expensive. Filtered water is so easily accessible these days and you can keep hydrated by refilling your reusable bottle throughout your workday free of charge. (What could be better than benefitting your health, helping the environment, and saving money all at the same time?)

Aside from these ideas, please always try to recycle and avoid littering whenever possible. Here are some other awesome ideas to Green Up Your Community.

Thank you for joining me in protecting our world, 


Monday, March 11, 2013

Fighting Off Workplace Harassment

You need to feel completely comfortable in your place of work in order to perform your job at your highest potential. Although striving to project a professional persona should always be your main objective, it is also beneficial (and basically mandatory in these days of social networking) to maintain amicable relationships with co-workers and other professionals in your field. 

Cultivating friendly relationships with the people you interact with on a daily basis helps make your time at work go by faster, allows for smoother workplace encounters, and creates a positive energy (not to mention the benefits it will have on your career). However, it can be very easy to confuse what seems to be friendly conversation/behavior with what crosses the line as far as professionalism is concerned. 

Accordingly, it can be even more difficult to speak up when you become involved in awkward workplace situations. Because harassment can sneak up in many different ways, it is important to familiarize yourself with some of its most common forms so that you can be prepared for it and are ready to take action. 

Behavior You Should Absolutely Not Tolerate At Work: 

  • Suggestive commentary about your clothing, appearance, or relationship/marital status
  • Out of line nicknames or affectionate name-calling
  • Jokes of a sexual, sexist, racist, violent, homophobic, religious, or otherwise offensive nature 
  • Unwanted touching of any kind 
  • Threats to your safety/well-being, or other threatening comments of any kind (especially physical/emotional threats to you or your family and/or in regards to your professional reputation) 
  • Any type of behavior that might be perceived as stalker/obsessive behavior toward you (take note if any individual is giving you specific/unnecessary attention)
  • Any perceived levels of aggression, anger, or a short temper in a particular individual
  • Sexual advances, inappropriate gestures, or blackmail of any kind 
  • Differential treatment based on gender, race, or physical appearance  
  • Any promotion, benefit, advancement, or incentive offered in exchange for sexual (or other unfair) favors
  • Any instinctive feelings that you are being targeted (for any reason!)   
  • Any other behavior that might be considered harassment, otherwise offensive, or that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or offended in your place of work 

If Someone Is Making You Feel Uncomfortable

You should never have to worry about your comfort or safety in your place of work. Especially if this is the first time you have been harassed, it may be difficult to know if your situation calls for outside help. You should keep in mind, however, that if someone is making you feel uncomfortable in any way, you should speak up before the situation worsens. 

You should always respond to the harassment by letting your coworker know that you are not okay with his or her behavior. If you do not feel comfortable addressing this person directly, or if their verbal or physical harassment continues after you have confronted them, you need to inform your supervisor/management (and/or your company's Human Resources department, if available) of the situation right away. Harassment (sexual and otherwise) in the workplace is simply intolerable and will be responded to and reprimanded. 

Be Aware Of Your Own Level Of Professionalism 

Lastly, always be mindful and cautious of the way you project your own image to others. As pointed out, friendly behavior can easily be misconstrued as inappropriate behavior. You should feel free (and are encouraged) to bring your own personality into the workplace, but remember to keep all comments and jokes tasteful and completely non-offensive. 

If for any reason a co-worker has expressed discomfort in response to something you have said or done, you should apologize and make a mental note of the offense to avoid repeating it in the future.

We all have the right to a sense of safety. And as always, we are all responsible for one another. There are an infinite number of ways to promote cruelty free living. If you witness an act of human indecency, I encourage you to please step up: both for yourselves and each other.