Top 6 Tips for Traveling with The DivaCup This Summer: Camping, festivals, and overseas travel!

Top 6 Tips for Travelling with The DivaCup This Summer

As convenient as it is to get 12 hours of leak-free protection… what do you do when you don’t have access to a bathroom or even clean, running water? This is arguably more likely to happen during the summer months when camping, road trips, and music festivals are common scenarios you may find yourself in. As the summer is now upon us, we decided to reflect on all of the scenarios in which a little innovation can go a long way for cleaning our cups when we don’t have access to running water and/or a bathroom.

So, the next time you plan to put on your adventure hat and Bear Grylls it up in the wild, or take a trip to the Amazon for 6 weeks, and your period decides, “yeah, I feel like dropping in right at this very moment,” remember these Diva survival tips!

Tip #1: Always pack potable (i.e. safe to drink) water with you

This is key because The DivaCup needs to be cleaned with clean and safe to drink water. So if you’re camping in the outback, heading to a music festival, or backpacking through rural Cambodia, make sure you pack a (reusable) water bottle to have with you. If you are in a pickle and can’t access running water, use the water from your water bottle to rinse off The DivaCup when you remove it. If you have DivaWash or a mild, oil-free and fragrance-free soap with you, use it to clean the cup. If you don’t, you can just rinse with water and clean the cup with soap as soon as you have access to running water and/or a bathroom. Remember you should do a full cleaning with soap and water at minimum 2-3 times per day.

Top 6 Tips for Travelling with The DivaCup This Summer

Tip #2: Wash your hands!

Whether you’re camping or at a music festival, the first thing you’ll want to do is to wash your hands with clean, soapy water before you start handling your nether regions with your hands. If you’re at a music festival and your only access to anything that resembles a bathroom is a porta-potty, then make sure you wash your hands before you head inside to clean your cup. If you’re heading into a porta-potty, remember to bring your water bottle with you from tip 1 to give your cup a rinse.

Tip #3: If you’re camping, dispose of your flow in a cathole

A cathole is when you dig a hole in the ground to dispose of organic waste and then bury the waste.  If you’re an avid outback camper, then this should be a no brainer. Dispose of the contents of The DivaCup just as you would if you went number 2. And yes, I’m talking about poop. Same rules as making a cat hole for your bowel movements apply here too. Check out this blog for really great step-by-step instructions on how and where to dig a cat hole.

Tip #4: Be prepared before you start your day

If you’re going to be at a music festival all day, or hiking for hours, be sure to prepare prior to heading out. In other words, before you head out for the day, make sure that you wash your cup at your hostel, hotel, campground, etc. This will ensure that your cup is empty and ready to go for a full day’s worth of activities and flow.

DivaWash and The DivaCup

Tip #5: Don’t forget about soap!

So this one is a bit tricky because it will depend on your situation and how long (how many hours/days) you will go without being able to access clean, running water. In other words, if you are at a music festival, chances are you will eventually head back to a hostel, hotel, campground, somewhere with access to a bathroom, at the end of each day. You can just rinse your cup at the festival with the clean, safe to drink water you packed (recall tip #1) and no soap. Then, when you return to your hostel, hotel, camp site, clean your cup with clean water and DivaWash or a mild, oil-free and fragrance-free soap.

If you are camping or backpacking, you may be stuck without potable, running water for days and so you won’t be able to wait to clean The DivaCup with soap. In these cases, make sure that when packing your water bottle that you will use to clean The DivaCup, that you also pack some soap. DivaWash is great for travelling because it can double as a body wash, face wash, and shaving gel, as well as a wash for your cup. But any oil-free and fragrance-free soap will do. Use this every time you empty the contents of your cup (2-3 per day depending on your flow) and rinse with safe-to-drink water from your water bottle.

Tip #6: Don’t forget to pack your Diva cotton draw-string pouch!

The cotton draw-string pouch that comes with The DivaCup is not only an adorable way to store your cup, it is also important for both maintaining the longevity of the cup and keeping it clean! Cotton is a breathable material, which creates the ideal environment for your cup to be kept in. The pouch is not easily substituted because not every material is breathable and this is important. So keep your pouch with you during your travels to keep your cup and your vagina happy!

So there it is Divas, with a little bit of prep work and some creativity, you’ll be travelling with your cup without a worry this summer! What are your best tips for travelling with The DivaCup?

Nina

 

 

Camions of Care

camions of careMy passion for menstrual hygiene began during my family’s experience with homelessness. During this time, I gained both insight and inspiration through conversations with homeless women that I met. In the spring of my sophomore year of high school, when my family saved up enough money for us to move back into our two-bedroom apartment in Portland, I founded Camions of Care. What started as a personal project to use savings to buy and hand out feminine hygiene products to homeless women and women-in-need on my way to school, with the help of an amazing and driven youth team of peers, is now an exponentially growing organization.

Camions of Care is now a global youth-run nonprofit that strives to manage menstrual hygiene through advocacy, education, and service—through the global distribution of feminine hygiene products and development of youth leadership through campus chapters. In the last year and a half, our network of 1,900 volunteers has distributed over 16,000 care packages of feminine hygiene products to 38 nonprofit partners in 12 different states and 9 different countries, and has expanded our chapter network to 34 established chapters at university and high school campuses around the US. Each care package is worth under two dollars and provides enough for one menstrual cycle. These care packages contain 9 tampons, 4 maxi-pads, and 5 panty liners, providing all of the products a woman may need for her average five-day period.

Camions of Care strives to develop youth engagement through our campus chapters. We continue to expand our network of 34 campus chapters at universities and high schools around the United States. Our chapters (nationwide at various high school and university campuses) work to support Camions of Care through advocacy and education. Some of our larger Tier 3 chapters also distribute feminine hygiene products to their own local partners. Every weekend, a volunteer team travels along our designated routes making deliveries to some of our (38+) nonprofit partner organizations and directly to homeless women-in-need.

In addition to the feminine hygiene products that Camions of Care purchases, we also obtain donations from local businesses, community centers, and nonprofit organizations. These feminine hygiene products are then directly distributed or put together into care packages through our community care packaging events.

Camions of Care helps women feel dignified and clean during their periods by giving them feminine hygiene products. The women that we serve are low income or homeless, and generally would not spend the little money they have on menstrual hygiene. Our services thereby give these women the materials to take care of their natural needs, which they otherwise would lack easy access to. Psychologically, having control over one’s own body is a step towards self-confidence and feeling in control of one’s life. This ability to care for immediate needs is an early step in helping women get off the street or to bounce back from a difficult situation. Additionally, most reproductive diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. By distributing feminine hygiene products, we help women stay healthier.

In the fall of 2015, Diva International established an ongoing partnership with Camions of Care. However, while menstrual cups may seem like a great solution for some women-in-need, limited access to clean water and health care services pose a serious health concern as the cup cannot be properly cleaned. As such, Camions of Care has partnered with Dress for Success Oregon’s HOPE program to distribute The DivaCup to women recently released from prison and who are living in transitional housing. To date, Diva has donated over 100 cups, and I am excited to see how this partnership will develop in the months and years to come!

Camions of Care is always striving to find sustainable solutions and we are continuing our efforts of securing reusable products like menstrual cups and fabric pads that provide more long term solutions. Camions of Care works to empower women and youth, period.

 

 

Nadya

Nadya Okamoto is an 18-year-old from Portland, Oregon. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Camions of Care–a global nonprofit organization that strives to address the natural needs of women through advocacy, education, and service. Nadya founded Camions of Care after her family experienced a degree of homelessness, during which she discovered the unaddressed need of menstrual hygiene. Nadya wants people to understand that everyone deserves to have their natural needs met so they feel ready to achieve their full potential. She is also the Youth Director of Social Venture Partners Youth, is on the board of the Women’s Foundation of Oregon PLAN International USA, and is involved in many other school activities around law practice, politics, and gender equality.

Periods and Exercise

iStock_000069644637_MediumIt’s time to get yourself moving Divas!

Exercise is a very important part of achieving good health. Not only is it great for your body, but it can help to relieve stress as well… but did you know that exercise may also help to strengthen your fertility and reproductive health? Regular exercise is helpful with regulating your hormonal levels and increasing your metabolism. An hour of exercise at least three times a week is all you may need. To do this you do not need a gym membership as there are plenty of exercises that can be done at home or by taking a class. Some exercises that are great for your reproductive health can include cardio exercises like walking or swimming. I personally enjoy the gym as it allows for a wide variety of workout choices so I don’t get bored of doing the same thing. I also prefer the gym because it allows me to do both cardio exercises and weight training; in fact, I find the best results come from a mixture of both cardio and weight training.

Cardio is a great way to help increase your blood flow throughout your body, including your reproductive system, while weight training will aid your body in getting stronger and help to boost your metabolism. If you’re a beginner when it comes to exercising and find the gym to be a bit intimidating, there are countless other ways to get exercise, such as group activities, sports, fitness classes or even just a daily walk with a friend. For many, exercise is much easier when you have someone to help keep you motivated.

Now that we know a bit about how exercising affects our reproductive healthiStock_49000820_XXLARGE v2, what about the effects of exercising during our periods? Is it healthy?

The short answer is yes, you can exercise on your period, but most often a less rigorous workout is the best route to take. Your body is already hard at work as your hormone levels are in flux and your body works to shed its uterine lining. It is really important to know your limitations too. During the first day of my period, I made a rule for myself that I don’t work out and if I do, I’ll only participate in light activity such as swimming or yoga, which doesn’t put too much pressure on the body. Some women actually find that working out on their periods helps with period symptoms like cramps and heavy flow.

Remember to listen to your body. If your body feels sore, bloated or tired, it is telling you it needs rest. That being said, if you are on your period and feeling unmotivated, just think of Kiran Gandhi who recently ran the London Marathon while free bleeding! If Kiran could run 26.2 miles bleeding freely, then we can handle an hour at the gym or a yoga class, right? Yes! Some menstruating people find that they feel a bit more comfortable when they get moving.

menstrual-cupNot feeling the free bleeding idea? No worries! The DivaCup is an amazing option for working out on your period. Not only does it offer 12 hours of leak-free protection, but it is also extremely comfortable. You can feel completely at ease when running on the treadmill or biking in your spin class, and not have to worry about leaks or uncomfortable chafing.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not just about exercise, it is also about eating nutritiously. What we eat greatly affects our bodies, our periods, and how we feel.. There are certain foods we can eat to help our period symptoms and maintain a healthy lifestyle! Learn more about how what you eat is affecting your period in our How is What you Eat Affecting Your Period?  blog post.

Remember that prior to making any lifestyle changes including those related to diet and to exercise, it is best to consult with your doctor and always be sure that you are keeping the intensity of your exercise routine within your own ability level.

Also if you are interested in reading more about exercise and your menstrual cycle, you may be interested in this great article from our friends at the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research.

Let’s get active, eat right and have a better period experience!

 

Alyssa-Signature

 

 

 

 

 

“Skinvestigation”: Understanding Your Skin

iStock_61783082_LARGE v2Skin is the largest organ of your body, but did you know that the skin on your face is more sensitive than other areas on your body? This means that the skin on your face may require a little extra attention compared to the rest of your body. So, what is the best way to care for our skin? Well that will depend on our skin type. Let me explain!

While skincare companies only target the six main skin types, there are actually dozens of skin types and combinations.  The best way to know your exact skin type and what works best for you is to see your dermatologist or someone who specializes in skin.  Let’s discuss the main six skin types.

Skin Types:

1) Normal: Normal skin is generally firm, oil-free and doesn’t react to outside elements!  This skin type is most often seen in children.  Normal skin is very rare in adults, and is identified as having no oil or dryness, normal sized pores, minimal fine lines, and even skin tone.

Recommendations: This skin type should use a gentle moisturizing cleanser and a moisturizer that is water based.  When doing facials, use a clay mask to remove any impurities.

2) Dry/Dehydrated: Your skin has many layers and most of the time, problems that occur within the skin come from the lower layers.  Dry skin occurs when water from the lower layers of the skin evaporates, leaving a dry texture that can often flake or itch due to a lack of lubrication.  You can tell you have this skin type by a dry texture, scaly/flakey patches and/or premature fine lines.

Recommendations: For cleansing, use a water based cleansing milk. In the evening, use a cream that is water-based with 10% collagen.  Collagen adds elasticity to the skin, which is low in dryer skin.  Use a mask for sensitive skin but that has collagen (this can be clay, mint or mud).  Facial massages are also great for this skin type, as it stimulates the oil glands to produce more lubrication.

iStock_75067607_LARGE v2 3) Sensitive: This skin type is often very similar to dry skin; however, the skin is impacted by many factors such as sensitivity to products and the environment. Most people who have this skin type are aware of it, as they have probably experienced a reaction to multiple products.

Recommendations: The best recommendation for this skin type is to know your allergies and sensitivities! This will help when treating your skin.  For example, if you are allergic to wool, you’ll want to avoid products with lanolin.  Other than that, this skin is treated similarly to dry/dehydrated skin.  Remember to use water based products and to use products targeted for sensitive skin.

4) Oily: Recognizable from its shiny surface, this skin type is thick and prone to blemishes.  Oily skin may even cause makeup to change color throughout the day.  Oily skin is most often caused by oil glands that are found under the skin.  These glands are over stimulated causing extra oil production.  Opposite to dry skin, oily skin has too much oil lubrication so the skin can become clogged.

Recommendations: Use a cleanser that specifically targets oily skin (which is most often displayed on the container).  Use a 20% alcohol based toner with rose water, which will help cut back some of the oil.  A misconception of oily skin is that you don’t need to moisturize because the skin produces enough lubrication – but this is incorrect. Not using moisturizer will make the surface of the skin dry, but the oil will still be underneath and unable to breathe. Use a moisturizer that is targeted to oily skin.  Scrub twice a week to help remove dirt and keep pores open to breathe.

5) Combination:  Usually this skin type is dry/dehydrated on the cheeks and oily in the “T-zone” (the area across your forehead going down your nose to your chin, which creates a “T” shape on your face).  However, any time skin shows signs of two or more skin types it is considered combination skin.

Recommendations: This skin type can be difficult to work with because there are two (or more) issues to treat.  Because different areas of your skin have different skin types, you need to use products for those skin types.  For example, if you are oily in your T-zone and dry on your cheeks, use products for oily skin on your T-zone and iStock_92194943_LARGE v2products for dry skin on your cheeks.  This way, you are treating each particular area according to its skin type.

6) Aging: Aging skin is similar to dry skin, since it is lacking oil and moisture. Oil production begins to lessen after a certain age, causing skin to wrinkle and become more dry.

Recommendations: Similar to dry skin, cleansing milks are useful for aging skin; however, some may need a more oil based product.  Try avoiding alcohol in all products as this dehydrates the skin even more.  Use cream containing collagen.  When massaging the face, you will need to provide more stimulation, so massage briskly.  Anything that stimulates the skin and any oil production is helpful!

So how do you know what skin type you have?  While seeing a dermatologist is the best way to determine your exact skin type, the above information may help you analyze your skin.  This will further your “skinvestigation” and help you choose the right products for your skin.

Period Skin:

When your hormone levels change, so can your oil production levels.  This is why many people experience more breakouts when on their period.  The same can be said about dryness.  Sometimes the hormone levels can dry out areas of your skin.  Make sure you are listening to what your skin is telling you around your period and adjust your skincare routine accordingly.

Skin tips:

While everyone skin is different, there are things that everyone can do to improve their skin quality:

  • Stubborn Sun:  everyone loves the glow they receive from the sun, but it can have a dramatic impact on your skin.  Sun can cause your skin to dry out, age prematurely, and in the worst cases, can cause skin cancer.  It is important to wear sun protection and limit how much time you are in direct sunlight.  Talk to your dermatologist if you have any questions or concerns about your skin and the sun.
  • Hydration Station:  Water is one of the most important things for your skin.  If you aren’t drinking enough water, you will notice your under eyes become darker, your skin becomes duller, and you may develop flakey, dry skin.  Make sure you are drinking your daily recommended amount of water (normally 8 glasses a day for women) to ensure that your skin stays hydrated and plump.
  • Inside Out:  It is true when they say you are what you eat.  Everything you digest internally makes a difference on how you look externally.  Make sure you are getting all of the right vitamins and minerals for your body, and avoid sugars and salts as much as possible.
  • Primer:  When applying makeup, always use a primer before applying foundation.  This creates a barrier between your skin and the makeup to prevent it from being absorbed by your skin and clogging your pores.
  • Taking off your makeupDid you know that leaving your makeup on overnight ages your skin?  It can also cause acne.  If you are someone who always forgets to take off your makeup and wash your face at night, keep a pack of cleansing cloths beside your bed.  This way, you can remove at least the first layer of makeup (although it is always best to wash your face, as makeup can sit under the skin’s surface after a long day.)
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Now, I want to give a disclaimer.  I have been saying the term “dermatologist” a lot in this post.  A dermatologist is medical expert who should be consulted if you have any major issues with your skin.  While all of this information provided is from a makeup artist, some skin needs extra attention.  If you are having issues with your skin, such as chronic acne, rashes, or any other abnormalities, please contact your local dermatologist to receive proper treatment.  It is always best to consult a medical expert if you’re struggling significantly.  However, if you are just trying to improve your skin quality, this information will help you along the path to radiant skin.

The important thing to remember is that you are beautiful, no matter what your skin type is!  Just listen to your skin and take care of it, because you deserve it!  What are your favorite skincare routines, Divas? We would love to hear from you! Share your skincare tips and tricks with us!

Victoria-Signature

 

 

 

 

Campus Diva: The Diva Team’s Summer Reading List

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Summer is here again! With school out and the return of long summer days, nothing beats lounging around poolside with a good book. If you need some book ideas this summer, The Diva Team has you covered! In this Campus Diva blog post, three of our Divas have shared some of their favorite book recommendations, so grab a summer smoothie and one of these literary treasures to help keep you company in the sun.

1) Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is the creator and screenwriter for Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. Rhimes is both the author and main character is this book! What could be better? Rhimes uses the power of self-experience to portray the idea of saying “yes” to things you normally wouldn’t.  Throughout this book, she rules the world of television, and teaches her audience how to rule their own lives.  People who watch Shonda Rhimes’s shows would probably never know Rhimes behind the scenes; yet she describes in detail how she went from having major anxiety attacks and feeling uncomfortable with herself, to being a happy, life-embracing, self-loving woman.  By using her quick wit and her ability to pull on emotion, this book is the perfect combination of humor and inspiration.  Buzzfeed raves that “you’ll want to standup and cheer when she takes control, remakes her life, and learns to love herself.” So make like Olivia Pope (the character in the show Scandal), grab a glass of red wine and popcorn, and enjoy this truly empowering and hilarious read.

 

2) The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Kelsea grew up in secret, in a small remote cottage, knowing only two things for certain: 1. She would grow up to be the queen of the Tearling. 2. Many people would try to kill her before this ever happened.

In this, the first book of the trilogy, Kelsea leaves the cottage and her childhood behind to take back control of her kingdom and to learn what it truly means to be queen in a world where there are only difficult decisions to make. From fighting for her life to defending her long suffering people, Kelsea learns and must deal with the outcome of the many secrets kept from her since birth, including but not limited to navigate the power emanating from the mysterious jewel around her neck – a jewel that marks her as the true Tear queen. Kelsea is one of the most interesting female characters in a current fantasy fiction series. This book is simultaneously delicious, disturbing, and delightful. Overall, this is a great summer read. You will immediately want to pick up the second book The Invasion of the Tearling and then join the rest of us waiting with bated breath for book 3, The Fate of the Tearling (slotted for release on November 29th).

 

3) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodiStock_78887643_LARGE v2

This classic should be on any and all reading lists. Period. If you have not yet read The Handmaid’s Tale… well, we’ll just give you a moment to go ahead and do that now and then you can check out the rest of this list.

After a revolution in what looks like present day U.S., the Republic of Gilead is formed, a dystopian society in which there is a ruling class and the birth rate is so low that women who are fertile are kept as “handmaids” by the ruling class for reproductive purposes, making their entire value their wombs and their whole existence revolve around breeding. The story is told solely from the perspective of one of the handmaids named Offred (which literally means “Of Fred”), as she lives out her day-to-day life in Gilead with other handmaids while The Commander and his wife rule over the household with a totalitarian grip. This startling novel reminds us that while rights can be hard-earned, they can also be easily taken for granted.

Plus, reading this classic novel will mean you’ll be ready for next year’s release of The Handmaid’s Tale TV series from Hulu starring Elizabeth Moss!

 

4) You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

Are you having trouble finding who you are? Or are you not living the life you want? Then this book is for you!  Jen Sincero is a world-travelling success coach who focuses on money and self-appreciation.  She uses her personal experiences to illustrate how to move on from things that are holding you back, which is an even more empowering thought when it comes from a writer who claims to have once considered herself  a “loser.”  This book teaches you how to love yourself and your life, while making the necessary changes to dominate and take control of your own destiny. Bustle tells us that, “if you’re looking for purple unicorns and rainbows you won’t find them here, what you will find are practical and easy ways to connect with your inner badass and change your life.”  When you realize enough is enough, pick up this book that will help you realize your potential and release your inner badass. This book is a poignant reminder that you create your reality.

 

5) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Sometimes a pond can be an entire ocean. Only a master craftsman like Neil Gaiman can paint a world for us that is simultaneously deeply introspective and incredibly magical. This book will remind you of when you were a child and the impossible was entirely possible and a pond could contain an entire ocean. Moreover, it is a poignant reminder that as children we learn so much about joy, loss, and yes even about dangers (both imagined and lived) and sometimes taking that walk down that lane of memories and peering into that ocean of childhood experiences can remind us how we got to where we are. Neil Gaiman’s writing style in this novel is a delight. It will welcome and envelop you into this tale that really is at its heart of hearts, one about searching for or remembering your identity and carrying into adulthood the lessons of a childhood left behind.

 

6) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This classic novel by famous feminist writer and poet, Sylvia Plath, should be on everyone’s book shelf. The story follows Esther Greenwood, an observant young woman who wins a scholarship to be a model for a prestigious magazine in New York City in the 1950’s. Esther seems to have it all according to everyone around her, but she is unimpressed by the glamour and glitz of big city life and modelling; a life that many young women her age could only dream of. Esther doesn’t fit in in New York, she doesn’t fit in to the cultural norms of what her life path should look like, and she doesn’t fit into the ideals of womanhood. When she returns home from her internship, she is in low spirits and contemplates her life, career, and relationship status. On the brink of insanity, Esther falls into a depression and is institutionalized. She describes her depression as being inside of a bell jar, unable to breath, and stifled by her life.

We recommend reading this hauntingly beautiful novel this summer because it’s themes of mental illness while poignant are also immensely thought provoking.

 

summer-reading7) The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk  Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees is a beautiful and uplifting, coming-of-age story about the strength that can be found in a community of women. Set in 1964 in South Carolina, the story follows 14-year-old Lily Owens who runs away from her abusive father with her African-American maid and friend, Rosaleen. Unsure of where to go, Lily and Rosaleen see a jar of honey with a picture of the Black Virgin Mary on it at a local corner store and decide to go to where that jar of honey was made. The trail leads them to a bee farm run by the Boatwright sister’s, three charismatic and wise African-American women, who agree to take the two travelers into their home. Lily not only finds solace in the three sisters and their beekeeping farm, but she also learns about the mystery behind her mother’s death.

This story will make you laugh, smile, and cry all at once while still being a quick and easy summer read. But most of all, you will appreciate the fact that nature herself becomes a character in this book, as the bees and their honey mimic the lifeblood and power of the sisterhood household.

 

8) Gregor the Overlander (The Underland Chronicles) by Suzanne Collins

Beware, Underlanders, time hangs by a thread
The hunters are hunted, white water runs red.
The gnawers will strike to extinguish the rest.
The hope of the hopeless resides in a quest

~ Suzanne Collins, Gregor the Overlander

Gregor is not like most 11-year-old boys. Ever since his father disappeared – two years, seven months and thirteen days ago – he has had to take care of his little sisters while his mother keeps the family afloat. When his baby sister, Boots, falls through a vent in their laundry room, Gregor finds himself in a war torn world miles below New York City where he must play the part of the Warrior and fulfil his role in a cryptic prophecy.

Written by Suzanne Collins (of The Hunger Games fame), this highly addictive young adult series features some of the most memorable characters imaginable, including the violet skinned people of Regalia, bats, rats, and even cockroaches. There are five books in this series and you will want to read them in a single sitting, before joining the fan base that writes Suzanne Collins letters daily asking for a sixth book. Gregor the Overlander and the Underland Chronicles reminds us to always seek light in the darkness for where there is light there is hope and life.

 

9) Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang by Joyce Carol Oates

Set in the rock and roll era of the 1960’s in a small, fictional town of Hammond, New York, Foxfire is the story of 5 girls who meet in high school and start a girl gang after bonding over a shared sense of experiencing sexism, oppression, and inequality in their lives and their community. Maddy, Goldie, Lana, and Rita are led by gang leader Margaret “Legs” Sadovsky into solidifying the gang by getting tattoos of the gang’s symbol: a red flame. Their first act as a gang is to publicly humiliate one of their high school teachers for behaving very inappropriately, even sexually, towards Rita. After feeling empowered by this initial victory, this mission-driven gang’s next actions include:  attacking Maddy’s cruel uncle, protesting an animal shelter to end animal cruelty and also donating money to charity. But after the gang goes on a joy ride and crashes the car, things start to go downhill.

This novel is a glorious mix between Animal Farm and Kiernan Shipka’s Sally from Mad Men when she attends boarding school and sneaks boys up into her room. It is both a delightful and insightful summer read: rebellious yet reveals the cynical powers of the status quo.

 

10) The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship, A Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz

One must be able to fall in love with themselves before falling in love with othersiStock_73202825_LARGE v2 – that is the idea behind the book The Mastery of Love.  Don Miguel Ruiz explains that you cannot put your happiness in others’ hands, but rather you must fill that void yourself.  The harsh reality is that modern day has destroyed the concept of relationships, and this book helps remind us that we must love someone for all that they are in order to experience true love.  If you are looking for a book that focuses on relationships, loving yourself and the fault in perfection, than this is an awesome book for you!  Shed the fear-based beliefs about love as love is not supposed to lead to drama and sadness.  Love yourself, forgive yourself, and let go of all that is tearing you down. Once you become love, everything around you embodies love. This book will help you open your heart and help you embrace other relationships that life has to offer.

 

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Diary of a Diva: Putting The DivaCup to the Test!

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Hi my name is Lee, I am a pediatric home care nurse and a mother of three amazing children. I have used The DivaCup for three cycles now and can never imagine going back to using tampons or pads.

I first learned about menstrual cups through a local Facebook moms group. Intrigued by this conversation, I immediately began researching and watching numerous videos about them, making me more aware of options I have never heard of before.

The number one reason I wanted to switch to The DivaCup was its claim of 12 hours of leak-free protection.

I decided I would pick up The DivaCup from a local store and give it a try for my next cycle. After I made my purchase, I felt a sense of relief and excitement to try The DivaCup.

I tried The DivaCup the following week and was beyond amazed. There were no leaks, even on my heavy days; though I checked frequently. There was no odor. It was way more comfortable than I even thought possible, I couldn’t even feel it. I was hooked by the end of my period. I tell anyone that will listen about how much I love it.4 School Fears I Don't Have with The DivaCup | The DivaCup Blog

As a nurse, I can’t stop caring for my clients to change my tampon or pad, some days I may not even have the chance to pee. The DivaCup was my savior. I am no longer concerned about leaking
through my white scrub pants or changing my tampons or pads at a client’s home. Now I can do it all conveniently at my own home!

As a mother of two young girls I am excited to be able to teach them alternative ways to the “traditional pads and tampons” and show them better options for their bodies. I am happy that I have the ability to educate them on their menstrual cycles and speak openly about our bodily functions.

The DivaCup is a great option for many people! I am glad I can help spread the great news and continue on my path of helping others!!

 

IMG_20150430_132646221Lee is a nurse, mother and wife who lives in the Midwest. In her free time she enjoys crafts, kayaking, disc golfing and just relaxing with friends and family.

 

 

 

 

 

Menstrual Hygiene Day Celebrates Menstruation and Raises Awareness about the Barriers Some Face to Accessing Sanitary Products

Menstrual Hygiene means all of the ways that you manage your monthly cycle: from the products you use, to the way you clean them, to how it impacts your day-to-day life. Menstrual Hygiene has become so second-nature to those of us who menstruate that you may not give it a second thought. So what’s all the fuss about Menstrual Hygiene then?

iStock_000084858101_Large v2Well as it turns out, menstrual hygiene, or rather a lack of knowledge and the ability to access sanitary products, can have serious negative consequences for some menstruating people. Menstruation affects about half of the world’s population; yet in many parts of the world, the stigma and shame, as well as lack of sanitation and education around menstruation, negatively impacts the lives of millions of women and girls. From rural towns in developing countries to women who struggle with poverty and homelessness in urban communities, there are a plethora of barriers that women face to menstrual hygiene globally and locally.

Lack of Adequate Menstrual Hygiene has Negative Global Consequences In some parts of the world, menstruation is known as a “week of shame.” According to UNICEF, 1 out of 10 school aged girls in Africa miss school for an entire week every month due to improper menstrual hygiene management. In South Pacific Asia, as many as 97% of young girls do not know that menstrual blood comes from the uterus and many are not taught about menstruation before they begin menstruating. A recent article in The Guardian also described how the outlawed and traditional practice of  banning women from the home, sometimes to a cow shed, during their week-long menstrual cycle  is still practiced in rural parts of Nepal.

In some regions, women and girls have no option but to use old rags, mud and leaves to care for their periods. Disposables are sometimes rarely an option, and when they are available, they can be extremely expensive and often pose a serious environiStock_000065311929_Large v2mental risk as there is seldom an appropriate infrastructure in place to handle the waste from plastic wrappers, applicators, and synthetic fibers.

Many communities continue to have limited access to clean water, health care and life essentials, including feminine hygiene protection. To add to this, cultural barriers can often include stigma, taboos, and shame around menstruation that in turn limit education and knowledge about menstrual hygiene.

Local Perspectives on Menstrual Hygiene Communities of women and women in transition who struggle with poverty and homelessness also face many challenges when it comes to accessing feminine hygiene products. Families living in poverty can be forced to choose between spending money on rent, food, survival necessities or menstrual products. Once again, disposable menstrual products are often a short term solution to an ongoing need.  Communal Support initiatives such as food banks, shelters, and soup kitchens work hard to address some of the essential needs of people-in-need but frequently menstrual hygiene support can be deprioritized or not part of the conversation.

MHD LogoMenstrual Hygiene Day In an effort to raise awareness of these barriers to menstruation, Menstrual Hygiene Day, a day dedicated to building awareness about the importance of good menstrual hygiene and the taboos surrounding menstruation, is observed on May 28th.

Are Menstrual Cups the Solution? While menstrual cups like The DivaCup may seem like a great solution for women and girls who face barriers to menstruation, there are a few things that need to be considered. Populations in need sometimes lack or have severely limited access to clean potable water as well as health care services. This can unfortunately pose a serious health concern as the cups cannot be properly cleaned or cared for. Similarly, a lack of access to proper hand hygiene can also pose a health concern for using an internal product like a menstrual cup. In addition to this, access to medical care and education is often lacking. Internally worn products are also not recommended if the hymen needs to stay intact and in some cultures this is a concern.

While The DivaCup would love to help by sending our reusable menstrual cups, the reality is that this is not always the best course of action given the cultural and medical barriers.

Diva Helps by Partnering with Lunapads and the One4Her Program That is why The DivaCup partners with Lunapads for the One4Her program for Menstrual Hygiene Day.Mackay 3RS The One4Her programs helps supply reusablecloth pads to women and girls in Zimbabwe,
Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. We feel this program both meets the needs and ensures sanitary protection for women and girls.  This year our Menstrual Hygiene Day Campaign will help supply the students of the Mackay School in Uganda with a set of reusable pads from AFRIpads.

For every The DivaCup sold on Lunapads.com for the entire month of May, Diva will donate a set of reusable pads to these students in Uganda. It’s a simple one for one: you buy a cup, we donate a set of reusable pads. Last year we donated 500 kits and our goal for this year is 600! Together, we can empower girls and women in need to have a better period experience. This May, make a #DivaDifference!

Other ways Diva Helps

Diva is also actively working with reputable organizations across the globe to provide cups to those in need. We have several large donation projects in Mali, Guatemala, and Ghana to provide cups to girls and young women in rural boarding schools, orphanages and urban communities. Often, a school based setting is a one of the best ways to introduce the option of menstrual cups into the community, so that the students are learning how to use the cup together and we can ensure they have potable water and facilities onsite to care for their cups.

We also have set up two pilot projects in Haiti and Tanzania to see how well the cup is received and for an assessment of if a menstrual cup is the right option for these communities. Partnering with health care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, midwives and birthing assistants in these communities has helped ensure that those receiving a cup will have access to ongoing healthcare services they need when there is often limited healthcare services available.

We are excited for these donation opportunities and the fantastic organizations we are working with and are continuing to improve menstrual care access so that all women can benefit from using a menstrual cup.

Diva International Inc. is committed to helping women find access to feminine hygiene products. If there is an organization that you feel may benefit from our support please contact our team at info@divacup.com.

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Growing Acceptance of Menstruation in Society

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Menstruation, monthly cycle, period… all of these are terms to describe a natural cycle that occurs routinely throughout much of our lives, and yet many of us find ourselves still talking in code when it comes to our cycles. We use terms like “on the rag,” “aunt flow,” and “shark week” to describe our periods, as if there is something to hide, but there really isn’t. Hiding the topic of menstruation in a cloud of secrecy and code words participates in keeping this topic in the margins and treated as a taboo subject in society. Topics that are taboo often come attached with stigma and shame, as well as a ton of misinformation – an incredibly unfortunate state seeing as how about half of the world’s population menstruates.

iStock_000079019285_Large 2But don’t fret just yet, things are starting to change! The past few years have been a revolutionary step forward when it comes to removing the stigma around menstruation in society. Countless women have spoken out in many different ways about menstrual shame and stigma; some even doing so through social media, like Rubi Kaur who famously posted about her period on Instagram, or Kiran Gandhi who ran a marathon while free-bleeding. Women’s periods have become an active conversation in media, art, business, etc. Many articles have been released in the past few months highlighting the amazing steps being taken around the world. One articled explained why 2015 is the year of the period, and major news outlets such as Newsweek and Huffington Post have covered the fight to de-stigmatize menstruation in society once and for all.

While many are working hard to de-stigmatize menstruation, it wasn’t always this way; in fact, there are some very interesting “herstory” facts from the past that would shock you! In the good old days, there were countless different cultural practices surrounding menstruation that were based largely on myths. For example, in many parts of the world, women would leave their families during their periods to join other women in a “menstrual hut” where they would share stories and rest. Menstruation was also seen as very powerful in many cultures. For instance, in Hinduism, the great mothers created the universe from “clotted substances” and in Mesopotamia, the goddess Ninhursag used a mixture of clay and menstrual blood to make humans. In Egyptian and Celtic cultures, menstrual blood was thought to turn morals into gods and goddesses. But of course, menstruation wasn’t always seen in a positive light. As history progressed, a more patriarchal view of menstruation emerged. Influential men like Aristotle and Hippocrates thought that menstruation was something toxic that must be avoided. For centuries, there was a prevailing negative opinion among many cultures surrounding menstruation; for example, some thought menstrual blood would turn wine sour, wither crops, and even dull steel.

The last several hundred years have unfortunately given menstruation a bad rap, but the way menstruation has been viewed has slowly begun to shift. Like the attitude of periods, the options for menstrual care has experienced dramatic changes as well. While disposable products have been on the scene for some time, the first pads were nothing like what we have today, but rather included bulky contraptions like suspenders and period belts holding them in place. Another option was the tampon which was popularized in the 1930s and for many women it was a new way to deal with their periods. Tampons were seen as more freeing and discreet. Interestingly enough, the reusable menstrual cup, with its many benefits, was also introduced in the 1930s but did not gain in popularity like tampons and pads, as disposable products seemed to represent the cultural climate at the time. More and more women are becoming more comfortable learning about the benefits of alternative options for menstrual care, including reusable pads and menstrual cups, like The DivaCup. This increased comfort means that they are also sharing their experiences with their friends, families and followers in life and online. The DivaCup is proud to be part of these important changes surrounding menstruation in society.

It is amazing to see just how far we have come in society today, but that’s not to say we couldn’t do so much more! Menstruation needs to be an open conversation in society among everyone. How will you make a #DivaDifference? #MenstruationMatters

 

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Menstrual Hygiene is Key to Global Development

When it comes to global development, in working to advance families and breaking the cycle of poverty, women’s empowerment is the key. However, a major obstacle that stands in the way of bringing all women to the forefront is the taboo surrounding the topic of menstruation.

MHDay_banner_blue_FBWomen’s empowerment and feminism are hot topics right now, especially when it comes to creating more educational equity on a global scale. However, no matter how many opportunities we create, women and girls will not be able to take full advantage of those opportunities if menstrual hygiene is not addressed. Periods are the number one reason why girls miss school in developing countries. In Kenya, girls miss an average of 4.9 days of school each month because of a lack of access to adequate menstrual hygiene. That is almost a full week of class, or 25% of one school month. Think about that… because of periods alone, girls are missing almost a whole quarter of their classes.

In many countries, periods can be scary because of what menstruation symbolizes—the transition from being a child to a woman, ready to be a wife and mother. In some other countries, as I have learned, getting your period can be the signifying event that prompts female genital mutilation, child marriage, and dropping out of school.

Inadequate menstrual hygiene management also has negative mental and physical consequences. In India, 70% of reproductive diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene, and the effects can go so far as to affect maternal mortality. Unclean methods of maintaining menstrual hygiene caused by a lack of resources, or lack of education on the usage of products, can lead to infections ranging from skin irritation to something more fatal, like toxic shock syndrome. Poor menstrual hygiene management may also cause strange bodily odors and bleeding through one’s clothes, which causes women and girls to feel nervous and self-conscious when on their period.

This taboo around menstruation causes people to associate periods with weakness. A week in their month where girls feel emotionally on edge, in pain with cramps, confused about new food cravings, and worried about bleeding through their clothes. I, myself, before coming to the realization of how human and real it is as a woman to experience periods, identified my time of the month as a weakness.

Women (more so, all humans) deserve to feel confident and ready to reach their full potential, regardless of a biological function. Thus, the stigma surrounding the topic of menstruation is an obstacle standing in the way of the right to reach one’s full potential. Limiting the potential of essentially half of the world’s population due to menstruation is in itself a fundamental barrier to continued global development.

eng_facebook_girls_1This is one of the many reasons why a day like Menstrual Hygiene Day, which is observed every year on May 28th, is so important. Menstrual Hygiene Day raises awareness around menstrual health, the barriers that people who menstruate face, and the effects that inadequate education, sanitation, and understanding about menstruation can have on women and girls all around the world.

We all need to become advocates for menstruation. In the US, only about 20% of our government positions are held by women, and if that 80% who are men are afraid to talk about menstruation, women and girls all around the world will continue to feel silenced and less capable on their periods. It is clear that menstruation impacts more than just one week of each month in a woman’s life. The menstrual movement is a human movement, and it starts now, with all of us—boys, girls, men, women—let’s all give power to the period!

 

 

NadyaNadya Okamoto Nadya Okamoto is an 18-year-old from Portland, Oregon. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Camions of Care–a global nonprofit organization that strives to address the natural needs of women through advocacy, education, and service. Nadya founded Camions of Care after her family experienced a degree of homelessness, during which she discovered the unaddressed need of menstrual hygiene. Nadya wants people to understand that everyone deserves to have their natural needs met so they feel ready to achieve their full potential. She is also the Youth Director of Social Venture Partners Youth, is on the board of the Women’s Foundation of Oregon, PLAN International USA, and is involved in many other school activities around law practice, politics, and gender equality.

  

Tips for Talking About Periods with Kids

Working as a sexologist at Sexpressions, a lot of people ask me how to talk to young people about periods and menstrual products. One thing I’ve learned from this is that parents and guardians are often more worried about these talks than kids! Hopefully some tips can help!

speech cloudsDon’t wait! Talk about periods as they come up
There’s a big idea that “the talk” needs to be one big sit down conversation. But the truth is that it should be discussed like any other subject, where you talk about it when it comes up! For instance, if your kids find your menstrual care products, that’s a perfect way to start the conversation! Anything can be explained in an age-appropriate way. You then add to their knowledge as they get older. Other great times to bring up the “period talk” is when you overhear people talking about periods, see commercials about menstruation, or see menstrual products in a store. All wonderful times to discuss!

Ask what they’ve heard
When the subject comes up, it’s often hard to gauge what they have heard about menstruation, good and bad. When periods come up, a good way to start a conversation is by asking what they’ve heard about periods and products like The DivaCup. This lets you know where to start, and might bring up some misinformation that you can  correct.calendar

Give them a plan for the first time
The first time a girl starts her period can be especially scary. Many girls worry it will happen at the worst possible time! It just might happen that way, but you can help calm them by giving them information in advance. Chances are they won’t bleed a lot the first time and if they are prepared on what to do, it will help ease the anxiety.

illustration [Converted]Give space when girls need it
Sometimes, the last thing that kids want to do is talk about puberty with their parents or guardians. This can be for a variety of reasons, and it helps to not take this personally! If this does happen, you can explain why it’s important to talk about it and perhaps explain that there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. You can also start by simply giving them some books and cool teen-friendly sites, like www.sexualityandyou.ca, to check out.

Talk about options
Having a first period can be an amazingly exciting experience for some, and a worrisome one for others. But when girls have information about what is normal and what is healthy, it helps!

Remember that pads, tampons and menstrual cups like The DivaCup can sound scary at first. Many girls are uncomfortable with their genitals especially when so much is changing at once. On top of that the thought of putting something inside their body might sound gross or painful to them. Talking them through their options with patience, will help girls grow more comfortable with their changing bodies.

 

Stephanie Mitelman, M.A., CSE Stephanie is Montreal’s only AASECT certified sexuality educator and a national trainer on issues of sexual health and youth sexuality. She teaches at McGill and Concordia Universities and is a founding member of The Sexual Health Network of Quebec. In 2000, she started Sexpressions, which offers sexual health resources and training for teachers and front-line healthcare workers. She also regularly trains and consults in Aboriginal communities across Canada and on sex education, and specializes in working with youth with special needs. Visit Sexpressions.ca today to learn more!