Being There for an Urgent Need – The Cassandra Fund

Living Beauty Cassandra

The Cassandra Fund is a donor-supported fund at The Foundation for Living Beauty used to support women with cancer when they are in a difficult spot.

We know that there are many difficulties that can arise when a woman is dealing with cancer. Even with the best health insurance, sometimes it becomes challenging to simply put food on the table, be able to get to an appointment or be able to cover the mortgage. When the difficulty of having cancer is exasperated with an urgent need just to survive, The Cassandra Fund, named after a former Living Beauty, is there to support.

We’ve been talking about this fund both in and out of our organization recently, mainly because the number of urgencies we’re being presented with for women with cancer seems nonstop at the moment.

We have been fortunate to help a number of women with critical needs and one of those women is Susan.  When Susan was in treatment for advanced colon cancer, she was living in a shelter with her elementary school-age daughter.  The Cassandra Fund was able to provide critical treatment medications to Susan and clothing and shoes for her daughter so she could attend school.  The fund has also provided Susan with groceries, and during the holidays has supported her family through the Holiday Angels program.  The Cassandra Fund helped Susan when she needed it most.

That’s the purpose of The Cassandra Fund.

The impact of the fund is to make life just a tad bit easier for women like Susan by covering the cost of an urgent need, up to $500.00.

We are grateful to all of you who actively support this fund. Without your donations to it, we’d be unable to be a resource when times get even more difficult. Donate to the Cassandra Fund here.

Meet Rebecca Little the Photographer Behind “Beauty is. . .”!

Rebecca Little photographing Living Beauty Anita in Jewelry from G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers

 

Rebecca Little is a Pasadena-based photographer specializing in photographing women and making them look and feel beautiful in front of the camera! Rebecca has been a long time supporter of The Foundation for Living Beauty. She has donated her time not only taking photos at our fundraising events and programs but also photographing our Living Beauties at Day of Living Beauty, an event focused on giving women with cancer the opportunity to be pampered by having their hair and makeup done and beautiful professional portraits taken. Rebecca donated her time and talent to Living Beauty yet again in support of our “Beauty is . . .” campaign showcasing the stunning jewelry by G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers and modeled by our Living Beauties. Keep reading to find out more about Rebecca’s experience working on the campaign!

 

Rebecca Little, Photographer for “Beauty is. . .”

FFLB: How were you first introduced to Living Beauty and what drew you to our mission?

Rebecca: I met Nancy when she joined the Pasadena Chamber and that was more than a few years ago. She was doing what she does best and spreading the word about the foundation and the good work they do.

The Foundation’s mission is much needed. They help so many women and offer advice, camaraderie, and a range of free programs. I’ve heard directly from the Living Beauties how much they value the support they’re given. To be with other women going through the cancer journey and be able to share and commiserate is invaluable.

 

FFLB: What was it like working with Living Beauties as models for the photographs?

Rebecca: The women were so fun to work with! They were thrilled to be modeling the amazing jewelry and getting their portraits taken. They would hang out after their photoshoot to catch up with their friends as they arrived for their sessions. The mood was upbeat and it was a beautiful day.

 

FFLB: How do you think modeling this jewelry and having their photos taken impacted the Living Beauties who participated?

Rebecca: First, it’s a thrill to wear this gorgeous jewelry. Each piece Tracy brought out was more beautiful than the next. You feel so glamorous and pretty, and the ladies were all oohing and aahing over what they got to wear. Then to see yourself represented authentically and beautifully in a portrait can be such an esteem booster, especially if you’re not feeling your best or you’ve had multiple surgeries. It was important to me to bring out the best in each woman and make her feel beautiful.

A huge thank you to Rebecca for donating her time to this campaign in support of The Foundation for Living Beauty and women with cancer! You can check out Rebecca’s website and portfolio here. To read more about the campaign and Traci Wilke from G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers click here.

 

 

 

Living Beauty x G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers

The Foundation fo Living Beauty is excited to Introduce “Beauty is . . .”, a collaboration between G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers and Goldsmiths and Living Beauty! G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers is an amazing company located in San Gabriel co-owned by the fabulous Tracy Wilke.

Tracy and The Foundation for Living Beauty teamed up to feature Living Beauties as models for G.H. Wilke and Co.’s jewelry! Over the next few weeks we will be sharing on our social media beautiful photos taken by photographer Rebecca Little of our women wearing the stunning jewelry. Rebecca, a long-time Living Beauty supporter, specializes in photographing women and making them look and feel beautiful in front of the camera. These images evoke the true beauty and strength of women and each image will include a quote about what beauty means to each Living Beauty.

All of the jewelry featured is one of a kind and a portion of jewelry sales from now until Mother’s Day will be donated to The Foundation for Living Beauty in support of our mission to educate, uplift and empower women with cancer!

We spoke with Tracy Wilke about the beautiful jewelry and what inspired her to partner with Living Beauty to showcase it!

 

Tracy Wilke, Co-Owner of G.H. Wilke & Co. Jewelers and Goldsmiths

 

FFLB: How were you first introduced to Living Beauty and what drew you to our mission?

Tracy: I found out about the Foundation for Living Beauty through an introduction by Joan de Souza to Nancy Davidson. Nancy was engaging and so fervent in her goals for the organization to help women in ways that truly addressed deep needs. Nancy and I met for coffee and I felt strongly that I should find a way to help and partner with her.

 

FFLB: What was the inspiration behind partnering with Living Beauty to showcase your beautiful jewelry?

Tracy: We all know women with a cancer experience.  Two of the most frequent points I hear are the intense loneliness of the diagnosis and the shock and terror at receiving it. The immune system needs to be bolstered and part of that is a mental attitude. Living Beauty envelopes the women with resources, encouragement, a safe and understanding place to vent, peer to peer advice, experiences and products that make them feel normal and positive.

Something I’ve seen for the many years I’ve been in jewelry is that women are self-conscious about their nails, their hair, their clothes and their general style. When I put beautiful jewelry on them they explode with excitement and joy. I thought it would bring joy to these ladies as well.

 

FFLB: How do you think modeling this jewelry and having their photos taken impacted the Living Beauties who participated?

Tracy: Jewelry is transformative. People self-purchase or give jewelry as a connection – whether to the past,  the present or the future. The women were all thrilled to be wearing beautiful jewelry and some didn’t want to take it off. I was hoping that for at least a little time, the photoshoot would provide them a thrill of self-expression and documentation of that experience (the pictures). I think they went away feeling more aware of their own unique beauty.

 

FFLB: How did you decide what pieces would be featured in the campaign and could you tell us more details about the pieces of jewelry being featured?

Tracy: I asked Nancy to send me photos of the ladies and I spent quite a bit of time going through my jewelry to find pieces that seemed to highlight their essence. I looked at hair and clothing styles to try and determine what to bring out in each woman. It’s what I do here at the store – try to showcase the individual’s personality through the jewelry they wear.

 

To check out the entire collection of jewelry visit this link. To read more about Rebecca Little’s experience photographing our Living Beauties click here!

a woman seated on the ground wearing leggings and a hat with her arms crossed in front of her and a group of women looking at her

Meet Donor and Facilitator Lisa Taitelman

 

The Foundation for Living Beauty provides free wellness and support services to women with cancer and we are able to do this because of the generous support of our donors! Living Beauty spoke with a dedicated donor and asked her to share her story of why she gives. Lisa Taitelman is not only a committed donor, but also an amazing facilitator who has worked with Living Beauties at our Goddess Wellness Retreat, as well as lead her own stand-alone workshops. Read more to learn about the programs she brings to our women as well as why she is a huge supporter of Living Beauty!

FFLB: How did you become connected to Living Beauty?

Lisa: I was introduced to your awesome organization through a fellow health coach, Jeanette Carbajal, who recommended that I connect with you all… and am so glad I did!

FFLB: What is it about our mission that inspires you to give?

Lisa: It was after the loss of my own mom to cancer, I started on my path of self-discovery and learned how hiking became the vessel for my healing and changed the course of my life as I know it today. I have educated and inspired many women through the healing power of nature to shed limiting beliefs and live a life of joy and fulfillment. I went back to school in my early 50’s to become a transformational coach, and through my education and life experience, I have created a program called “Follow Your Trail”, a 6-week empowerment program which focuses on healing, and finding one’s truth in nature through self-care, self-love and community. When I was introduced to Living Beauty, it spoke straight to my heart! I love that you provide a safe haven through wellness retreats for all these women going through the most difficult time in their lives in all different stages of cancer… and FREE to all of them. I love how you offer them a beautiful community of other women going through something similar so they don’t feel alone in a very scary time in their lives. I wish I would have known about Living Beauty when my mom was diagnosed all those years ago. I believe that it may have saved her life. I love your mission and everything it stands for and it makes me want to give back to these incredible women. I know firsthand how my mom suffered and I felt so helpless, giving back has fulfilled me in so many ways. It has given me new meaning in my life to be a facilitator at Living Beauty and to donate portions of my program with them in honor of my mother.

FFLB: When giving to do Living Beauty, what impact do you expect your donation to have?

Lisa: I want to be able to share my story with other women, through the healing power of nature, whether it is a walk at the beach, or a hike in the mountains. I want to shout out to them how hiking healed me and how it can heal them too, I believe I needed to find out what hiking had to teach me. I found my voice and I found ME! Women tend to put all others first, before ourselves, our partners, our kids, even our pets. I want other women to know that we must take care of ourselves first, and that is not selfish, but a gift we give to ourselves and to our loved ones. Through Follow Your Trail, I show them how to give from a full cup, and not an empty one, otherwise we become depleted, exhausted, resentful and ultimately sick. I have come to learn through the loss of my mom, disease starts with “DIS-EASE” in the body. Giving back this way to Living Beauty has been the most meaningful part of my work and journey thus far. By giving to them, I get so much more in return from all of these amazing women. I like to call them warriors, because that is what they all are. True Warriors. So, the impact I am hoping my donation has is that I want to show these women that they all have the power within themselves to be strong, make change, be resilient, feel empowered and liberated, it all comes down to the power of our mindset and what we chose to tell ourselves. I like to say, “Be careful what you tell yourself, because you are listening”!

 

 

logo for Foundation for Living Beauty showing a purple lotus flower in a blue circle

What is #GivingTuesday?

According to their website, “Giving Tuesday is a movement that unleashes the power of radical generosity around the world.” It was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Since then, it has grown into an annual global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

On Thanksgiving we celebrate with family and food; Black Friday is all about shopping and getting the best deal; Saturday we support small businesses and shop local; and Cyber Monday is focused on shopping online. The next day, Giving Tuesday, is all about giving back! It is a day to give, to celebrate nonprofits and their missions, and to support our communities.

The Foundation for Living Beauty loves participating in #GivingTuesday because it gives us a chance to be part of this global philanthropic effort while also sharing the stories of women with cancer and how donating to Living Beauty helps support them on their cancer journey.

If you’d like to fundraise on Facebook, click here for a guide to setting up your own, personal fundraising page.

You can also give directly on our website.

We can also assist with a matching donation from your employer, choosing us through your Donor Advised Fund, or setting up a monthly donation!

Also, tax laws have changed so be sure to speak with your financial adviser about how your giving will affect your taxes for 2021.

We also have a new way to give! Living Beauty is participating in #CryptoTuesday, a new Giving Tuesday all about donating cryptocurrency! The goal is to encourage a culture of charitable giving among the crypto community. Click here to donate!

Or to explore other ways to support visit www.livingbeauty.org/giving.

a woman in a blue sweater wearing a scarf on her head standing by a table set with a suitcase of products

Mindful and Proactive during Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

The Foundation for Living Beauty provides wellness support to women with any type of cancer and at any stage in their journey. October is breast cancer awareness month and as we work to support our “Living Beauties”, we would like to remind you that early detection and self-checking is an important part of preventing breast cancer. Living Beauty Board Member and Breast Wellness Expert, Brenda Smith shares 3 tips on how to take time and be mindful of being proactive in prevention.

Three important things to empower yourself:

1 – Take your Vit. D. Not only is it crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system but studies have shown that breast cancer cells do not thrive in a Vit. D rich environment. Take your blood levels as close to 50ng/ml as possible. D3 with K2 is the best combination for breast tissue as well as bone health.

2 – Do your self-breast exams regularly. Many women find their cancers even after clean mammograms. You know your body better than anyone. Becoming familiar with your normal density can make you more aware of changes. Keep in mind that cancer does not come and go so there’s no need to worry about lumps caused by hormonal fluctuations. While the majority of breast cancer diagnoses in the United States are in women over 50, eleven percent of new breast cancer diagnoses are in women under the age of 45. Women of all ages should incorporate checking their own breasts into their self-care routine! As you wind down for the evening and take some much-needed time for yourself, take a few seconds to perform a self-check to put your mind even more at ease knowing you are connecting with your body

3 – Especially in this time of Covid-19, release negativity and receive gratitude. We know there is a correlation between our emotions and our health. Breast tissue is susceptible to stuck emotions. As we are challenged in this moment in history, find ways to release your frustrations and anger. Get out in nature, if possible. Spend time with safe friends who are good listeners, journal, scream into a pillow! Get all the anxiety out of your body so you can relax and reduce stress hormones. Then find movement that you enjoy. Dance, walk, exercise doing something you like, and most of all, laugh. In spite of it all, we have so much to be grateful for.

For more information about The Foundation for Living Beauty, visit our website at livingbeauty.org.

 

a woman in a white shirt holding a bucket of orange flowers while standing in a field

Nancy visits the Weleda Gardens!

a group of women posing for a photo with those in front seated and those behind standing

International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! In honor of this celebration of women, we’re reflecting on ten ways Living Beauties thrive and support each other through Sisterhood.

1. They share an instant connection through empathy and understanding.
Even if they’ve only met once, Living Beauties are instantly drawn to each other. Their shared experiences bring guards down and lead to deep, enriching conversations. Overnight retreats often build friendships that last forever.

2. They share and trust each other’s knowledge.
Living Beauties understand each other’s journeys, and they share information on doctors, treatments, recipes and holistic care. This knowledge is invaluable!

3. They praise each other’s inner and outer beauty.
During Days of Living Beauty, Beauties speak words of affirmation and inspire confidence in one another, whether it’s to remove a wig or strike a pose.

4. They prioritize keeping in touch.
Gatherings like First Wednesdays, sometimes even held in Living Beauties’ homes, allow Beauties to reconnect and talk in a relaxed, comforting environment.

5. They support each other’s undertakings, goals, treatments and dreams.
Some Living Beauties start businesses. Some work towards yoga teaching licenses. Others speak on Capitol Hill. Many complete rigorous courses of treatment. All the while, there’s a crowd of women cheering each other forward.

6. They learn together.
Living Beauties are open-minded and enjoy the process of education together. Whether it’s learning about nutrition, yoga, CBD, stretching or makeup techniques, there’s a vast array of knowledge that Beauties are eager to soak in.

7. They face changes – both good and difficult – with solidarity.
Whether it’s embracing a plant-based diet or adjusting to major life changes, Living Beauties can not only relate to one another, but encourage one another.

8. They give the best hugs. It’s true!

9. They bring out the best in others.
From board members to facilitators and local businesses, the joy and gratitude that Living Beauties radiate brings out the best talents and generosity in our community.

10. They’re bonded for life.
Even when life takes them on different paths, Living Beauties are consistently thinking of each other, sharing updates and encouraging one another’s journeys. There’s no mountain high enough for this Sisterhood!

pizza topped with dill and mushrooms

Meet The Pizza Plant

We are so grateful and excited to join forces with The Pizza Plant! The Pasadena restaurant’s plant-based comfort food is healthy, vegan and delicious. Led by founder Marvin V Acuna, The Pizza Plant has generously offered to support The Foundation for Living Beauty on an ongoing basis. When you place your online order at www.thepizzaplant.com, please enter Goddess in the promo code box. Living Beauty will receive 10% of proceeds from all orders who use this code – including catering orders!

Before (or after) you grab a slice, continue reading to learn how The Pizza Plant decided to support Living Beauties, and why they believe in the power of plant-based living.

LB: What can people expect diet/lifestyle wise from The Pizza Plant?

MA: Our human need for community and connection is as fundamental as our need for food. Food is in fact the bridge to community and connection as well as being the centerpiece of most of the major milestones in our lives.

Food connects people from all walks of life. Over a meal, people can experience and share a wide range of emotions. They can celebrate together, express love for each other, and convey heartbreak and disappointment; they can form and foster business and personal relationships;
and so much more.

Arguably the most popular food in the world, and therefore undeniably one of the leading foods that bring people together, is pizza.

THE PIZZA PLANT with its 100% organic, whole-food, nutrient-dense, made-with-love, craveable, plant-based pizza, is committed to building community and to making the world a better place.
LB: What are the benefits of plant-based eating?

MA: I’d happily put you in contact with one of the foremost experts in the world on this subject as she would be more qualified to respond. However, to quote the father of medicine, Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Plants are our medicine.

That stated, our company motto, we believe says it all. Better Planet. Better Health. Better Community.

LB: How were you drawn to The Foundation for Living Beauty?

MA: One of the most cherished people in my life was afflicted by a very rare, unpredictable, and incurable disease. Yet, due to the unwavering support of our friends and family she has gone from her deathbed to a world stage inspiring others to overcome chronic illnesses and/or life challenges.

We were fortunate to have unlimited resources to focus on her healing. Other individuals are not as lucky. The fact that this organization steps in and provides the necessary healing tools, positive resources and a safe haven for women afflicted with such a devastating diagnosis spoke to the values of my company. Upon meeting Nancy Davidson and Michael Rahimzadeh, it was apparent to me that our company had to find a creative way to lend our support.

LB: Why is helping the community so central to your business?

MA: My parents did not live a fanciful life. They were never confused by anyone who met them as the subjects of a John Singer Sargent portrait. They did not drive the most luxurious cars, they did not wear the hippest fashion, they did not dine at the trendiest restaurants, they did not travel the world in private jets, and they did not have an instagram account with millions of followers who enthusiastically liked and shared their posts, showcasing themselves flanked by the beautiful and famous.

No, they were not fazed nor trapped by those shiny objects that often distract us from the true meaning of our lives.

Instead, my parents drove a simple car, they wore simple clothes, they preferred mom-and-pop restaurants, their most extravagant trip was the treacherous, many-thousand-mile trek they made by foot at night crossing the borders of Guatemala, Mexico, and finally, the U.S.

Yet, my parents walked this earth armed with the secret to happiness and riches.

Give to your neighbors.

a woman in a black dress watching other women getting their makeup done

Corporate Spotlight: stila’s Living Beauty, Sarah Lucero

Currently serving as Global Executive Director of Creative Artistry for stila Cosmetics, Sarah Lucero is without a doubt a #GoddessBoss. Given her rockstar status, charismatic spirit, and experience with The Foundation for Living Beauty, we asked if she’d be willing to chat with us to kick off our first corporate spotlight. We covered everything from yoga retreats to brow pens, and how The Foundation for Living Beauty serves as a source of community and strength for women journeying with cancer. Our conversation unfolds below.

How did you get involved with The Foundation for Living Beauty?

My friend Janice, who was the head of PR at stila at the time, had arranged this event. Women were getting their hair done and their makeup done by stila, and were getting totally pampered. At the time, I was still going through chemotherapy for breast cancer, so for me it was great that she had aligned stila with that group. I’m so grateful that she did that.

I know that Janice had wanted to align with an organization like Aime’s, which asked the question: for women going through this right now, how do we help them during or after their experience in a way that’s less stressful?

On that same day, I got to meet Aime, mingle around, and meet these amazing women who were getting their makeup done. It was an emotional experience for me, yet it was this interesting environment that was both healing and comforting at the same time.

With The Foundation for Living Beauty, Janice found this great opportunity, stila donated money, and then through me and my situation it was the perfect timing and organization to align with in every way. I’m incredibly grateful that it all came together.

How did The Foundation for Living Beauty help you during your journey with cancer, and how has it impacted you since then? 

Number one, it connected me with so many other women going through something similar, which was comforting and a relief to know, in a way. When you’re going through cancer—or even after—you don’t know how you’re feeling. Especially afterwards, everyone’s like, “Yay let’s celebrate, it’s over,” and you’re still facing it.

It’s very lonely, and having a community of women who understand that without having to say or explain it is a blessing. It’s a relief to know that it’s ok to feel that way, even if you can’t quite articulate it. The Foundation was a community of support and strength that I didn’t even think I needed.

Number two, the yoga retreats… Tari Prinster who leads them is such a gift. The retreats taught me how to navigate my body, learn to trust my body, and feel strong again without fearing surgery or scar tissue or feeling unsure about something.

Meeting people just through the retreat, having the classes, learning the basics of nutrition and which things to incorporate now—the knowledge is exceedingly important.

There are so many different ways The Foundation has helped me and is still helping me. It’s a completely new way of life, and when you’re exploring something new and unfamiliar, your confidence has been shot down. So everything is a little bit different. That’s hard in and of itself. Things change, but having The Foundation has helped me find my confidence again in so many ways, which is incredibly healing.

More than that, the retreats and programs they have—even if it’s just a one day makeover—remind me to take the time. Be in the moment. Look at what’s happened or is happening—don’t ignore it. It reminds me that healing is a process that takes time, however long it needs to take. I’m just realizing that now.

It’s all great, but the healing emotionally and mentally is a long time coming…which is ok! But knowing I have that support, it’s less scary. It may be unfamiliar, but it’s ok. I have a group of people I can ask or reach out to and not feel judged. If I want to know how to navigate something, see what they did in a particular situation, or share my own tips, it’s a safe space.

I also love when people do something that is missing or needed. A big corporation can’t find that little missing link, but these are the things that are important. They are right now, and your money is going toward something that is helping someone—whether they’re going through it, or after. It’s lifelong wellness.

And caregivers are an important thing too. These people have been around helping, and sometimes you forget about what they went through. There should be more for them, but there’s not.

What’s one stila product you can’t live without?

Number one, the brow color Stay All Day pen. It’s an eyebrow pen. I was actually able to lab-test that product, and product development gave me them when I was going through chemo. I got to test it, and it works! Now I use it every day, so I love showing women how to boost their brows naturally.

My other one is called convertible color. It’s a cream blush you can also use as lipstick. It comes in a compact, and gives your face a glow and your lips a flush. It’s definitely a makeup bag must-have.

Thank you, Sarah, for your support and willingness to share your story with us!