So, who thinks everyday women can change the world? Here’s hoping you’ve got your hand raised, but I’m on a mission to bring it a little higher than before. My mindset has improved in recent years as I’ve made efforts to spend my free time surrounded by makers and doers. Now I want to share these stories in the hopes I can do the same for you.
This week, here’s who’s inspiring me: Lisa Stiefel of English with Lisa. I met Stiefel this fall when I joined her mastermind group. If you’re not familiar with these, check out Forbes’ “7 Reasons to Join A Mastermind Group.” I concur with the author: My mastermind has expanded my network, exposed me to new learning, and given me bigger ideas. Each week, Lisa and I check in via video chat, where I get to hear the latest on her life and work in Germany.
This past Wednesday Stiefel shaved her head. She did it to help others, but she has a message for you, too: Anyone can make a difference. She believes even small efforts matter and that people can help out in any way that feels right to them. I must say I agree! For her, what felt right was to take part in the Irish Cancer Society’s Shave or Dye campaign. (Stiefel lived in Ireland several years ago.)
By shaving or dying their hair, participants show support for people who are going through, or have gone through, cancer treatment. Lisa chose to shave hers and donate it to Locks of Love, which provides hairpieces to children suffering long-term medical hair loss. Here’s your chance to find out why she did it, in Stiefel’s own words. If you’re feeling so moved, join me in sponsoring Stiefel’s Shave or Dye campaign.
What Inspired you to participate in Shave or Dye?
The first time I participated was in 2010. A bus went past me in town with a big poster advertising it, and when I saw it, I just knew, ‘This is something I have to do.’ I decided to combine it with making a hair donation to Locks of Love-I had heard about that organization years ago. My sister is a person who is always finding cool and lovely ways to make the world a better place, and I’ve always admired that about her. She had donated her hair to Locks of Love once way back when, and that’s how I heard about them. My participation in that year resulted in 1 hair donation for Locks of Love, and about 500EUR (approx. $550 today) in donations for Irish Cancer Society.
I participated in Shave or Dye again in 2012, but that time I dyed my hair bright purple. I wanted to try the other option. My participation this time round resulted in about 200EUR (approx. $220 today) in donations for Irish Cancer Society.
Because Locks of Love don’t accept permanently dyed hair as donations, I had to wait til all the color grew out, then wait til my hair got long enough to be able to make a donation. Now in 2016, my hair meets those two criteria, and so I’ve decided to participate again.
I think it’s a good thing that I am able to do, so why not? When I stop and think about it, there are more reasons for why I should participate in the event than why I shouldn’t. It is also an incredibly liberating feeling.
What challenges have you faced as a woman who chose to shave her head?
For starters, it certainly makes a person reflect on the notion of beauty and what their relationship to their own vanity is. Getting over my own vanity was the only thing standing between me and doing something that could really benefit people who are suffering from a terrible disease. And is conventional beauty the same as true beauty? If we believe that beauty comes from the inside out and from being a kind-hearted person, then what does it matter if my hairstyle is conventional or not?
By participating in this event, I get to put this value system to the test and gather first-hand experience. Most people who know the background are supportive, but it is still a challenge for many people in our society to see a woman with a shaved head. For some, even with the background info and knowing that it is for a good cause, the stigma is too much to be able to accept. I’ve seen these people cringe at me, laugh nervously and completely inappropriately, or even make rude comments.
The thing is, I don’t think I look bad with a shaved head. In fact, I think it suits me quite well. And the feeling I get when someone I barely know writes me or tells me, ‘My friend or family member has suffered terribly from cancer. Thank you for doing this.’ far outweighs any rude comment that someone might make.
The whole experience reveals quite a lot about people, and about oneself.
What do you have to say to others who may want make a difference but may hesitate to do so?
I would say: Anyone can make a difference, and they can do so in any way that feels right for them. Think about what you want to do, and your motivation for doing it. Reflect on the things that are holding you back- what are those things? How can they be overcome, worked around, or worked with?
Any Final Thoughts?
I think we shouldn’t take for granted the importance of making small differences, either. Sometimes something as small and simple as a warm-hearted smile can make all the difference in the world.
So, there you have it. Small and warm-hearted actions do change things. Let’s take Stiefel’s advice and find our own motivations and goals, then work around the obstacles in our way. Onward!