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Posts from the ‘Whimsy’ Category

Sandals Change Lives: Sseko Designs Helps Ugandan Women Go To College

July 12th, 2014

Lisa Dawson

It’s summer time, which means it’s sandal time! I was looking for some cute-yet-functional-and-comfortable sandals for the sunny weather when Linda from Clementine Shoes introduced me to Sseko ribbon sandals.

Sseko Designs (pronounced say-ko) was founded by Liz Forkin Bohannon after she took a post-college trip to Uganda. During her time there she met and made friends with a number of wonderful, smart young women, and learned how difficult it was for them to attend college. Liz wanted to start a company that provided a safe environment for women to learn a skill and earn money for their education, and the idea for the ribbon sandal was born.

Here’s a short overview of the program:

Participants spend nine months in the company factory in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala, after which they will have earned enough money to pay for their first year of college (Sseko matches 100% of their earnings with a college scholarship).  47 women have attended college  in the five years since the company’s founding, and there are 50 current employees. That’s pretty amazing.

We believe that every woman has a dream. When she is given the opportunity to pursue those dreams, we are collectively walking towards a brighter and more just and beautiful world. – Sseko Designs

Sseko is based in Portland, Oregon, but their products are all made in Africa with the intention of creating jobs, empowering artisans and helping end the cycle of poverty through building healthy communities and economies. In addition to the work in Uganda, Sseko designs and sources ethically made products from East Africa.

The Ribbon Sandal

The ribbon sandal is comprised of a base with several sturdy elastic loops and any number of broad, double-thickness ribbons. As you can imagine, the sky’s the limit with the different number of ribbon threading and tying combinations. Sseko has some on their website, and they encourage you to come up with your own. They also have some lovely accessories you can incorporate into your sandal design.

Linda gave me a pair to try out and I spent a little time browsing through combinations in the How To Tie section of the Sseko website. I tried a couple before landing on the Bohannon’s Best. The video was short and timed perfectly for the sandal tying rookie. Here’s my end result!

Bohannon's Best

The feel of the sandal base reminds me of my old Chaco flip flops: very stable with a nice little bounce. My regular size was perfect in length, and width accommodated my wider foot. The nice thing about the design of these sandals is that you can get the right size by simply standing on the base.

Tip: The cotton ribbon will stretch with the first couple of wears, so tie snugly and expect to re-tie them after walking around a bit.

A sandal base and one ribbon sells for $55, or a starter kit (base + three ribbons) is $80. Additional ribbons and accessories range from $10-20.

Useful links:

Tattoos: Stories in Permanent Ink

February 5th, 2013

Lisa Dawson

“My tattoos hurt as much or as little as the moments in my life
that led me to them.”
– Nora Flanagan

Some of my tattoos, like the ones on my wrist and ankle, are in plain sight.

You might see the ink on my shoulder blades if we run into each other at the pool or an event where I’m wearing a strapless dress. My other tattoos? Those you won’t see unless I make a point of showing them to you.

Sometimes I get asked about my tattoos.

The one on my ankle, the smallest one, has a story that spans two decades. The pink band around my wrist is for perspective, a reminder that some things in life, like breast cancer, are bigger than me.

Each one of my tattoos has a story. I got them because I wanted to remember, no… to celebrate a point in time. Fertility. Love. Death. Hope. All symbolized in permanent ink. For me, and for the people close to me.

A friend shared this clip of Chicago teacher Nora Flanagan talking about her storybook of tattoos.

“When you are old, will you be grateful that you never wrote any of the moments of your life in permanent ink?”

Thank you, Nora. I doubt anyone could have said it better.


Pink tile image courtesy of

Happy Birthday to Me! Looking Forward to 2013

January 29th, 2013

Lisa Dawson

Birthday Candles

My birthday was this past weekend.

Most years I revel in my birthday, looking forward to connecting with family and friends (thank you Facebook!). But this year found me a bit more contemplative, reflecting on the past 12 months and considering the possibility of the coming year.

Some highs: I trained for and ran a marathon! I’m in good health and making progress on getting back to my “fighting” weight. My kids are thriving in a new STEM-focused school. I joined the Board of Cancer Lifeline.

And a low: My employment situation abruptly changed just before the holidays. It’s never fun to be laid off, and there’s never a good time for it to happen. I used the holiday lull to think about the type of work I find most fulfilling and am focusing on opportunities I think would be both professionally and personally rewarding.

And then there was the OMG moment when I realized I have literally reached the midpoint of my life.

My relatives tend to live into their nineties, and at forty(something), I’m more than halfway there. Yikes! A good reminder to chill out and enjoy the next few decades.

On that note, I’ve rekindled my yoga practice and have been loving my sessions at Spira Power Yoga. Intense and grounding at the same time. I’m committed to maintaining the practice even when I go back to work, which is probably when I’ll need it most.

I’ve also put some thought into this blog.

I started it three years ago as a social media practicum, exploring the stories behind breast cancer-related tattoos. Since then it’s evolved to include women’s health issues, information on nonprofit organizations, pink washing, inspirations of mine and, of course, running.

The time I’ve spent editing my husband’s blog, Zinfandel Chronicles (launched in June), has inspired another evolution of My Pink Ink. Expect more detailed tattoo-related posts, some social media stuff, the addition of a “Whimsy” category and maybe even a redesign. We’ll see how it unfolds.

I’d love to hear suggestions for blog posts. Any topics you’d like to see me cover?

Image courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt via Creative Commons.