Monday, July 18, 2011

Feeling Powerless? Helping Helps.

Several months ago I heard that a toxic chemicals law here in Maine was being reviewed and possibly amended to include cosmetics. I wrote to my state senator to share my opinion, noting that I thought it was “an issue that should be dealt with at the federal level rather than attempting to address it in each state by proposing lists of ingredients banned from cosmetic use.”

Fast forward two months, and we are again (predictably) trying to deal with this issue at the federal level, thanks to last week’s introduction of HR 2359: The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011. This is not the first time I’ve written about such bills; you can see other examples here and here and here and here and here. Oh, and here. This new bill has a few differences, but this is what I believe:

1. If this bill passes as it is now written, my business is gone. And while
2. this bill is unlikely to pass as it is now written,
3. sooner or later some version of this law will pass.

I'm not opposed to regulation in some form, but I feel certain that these decisions are being made by people who don’t know much about what I do every day, or how their laws will affect me. In spite of all of my letters and phone calls and posts, that thought makes me feel powerless.

So.

Here I sit with this feeling, not knowing what to do about it. And I can’t stop thinking about my customers and my work and what’s been happening here lately.

I don’t remember just when it began, and I’m not sure why, but I started being asked to make gifts for women with cancer. “My friend just had surgery for breast cancer,” one woman shared. “I don’t know what to do to help her, but I had to do something. Can you make something special for her?” One customer’s sister had just been diagnosed; another had a friend going through a mastectomy and wanted to send her a gift before she went into the hospital. Many of them expressed a strong desire to help as well as a sense of feeling powerless.

I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and I just realized why: when you feel powerless to “fix” things, helping someone helps. Even if it’s a small thing, like a well-timed gift with a personal note, it helps. And I can do that. I can help with that, and that makes a difference. My work has always been about helping people express gratitude for (and to) their loved ones, singling them out for special attention on happy occasions (like weddings or baby showers) and supporting them through the difficult ones (like divorces or illnesses). Focusing on that instead of worrying about this bill keeps my work meaningful for as long as possible, whether that's six months or six years, and to me that's the most important thing.

Of course I’ll sign this petition opposing the bill, and I’ll talk with others in my industry to find ways to communicate our concerns about the bill. I’ll write (or speak) to my senators and congressmen when the time comes, too. And I’ll refer everyone to other blogs and resources for information about this legislation as it progresses (see below). But I won’t be talking about it here anymore. Writing about losing my job keeps my focus on feeling powerless, and that doesn’t help anyone.

I'd love to know what you think. How do you deal with feeling powerless?

For further information about this bill, please refer to the following:
Personal Care Truth
Essential Wholesale's Essential U
Robert Tisserand's Blog
Sagescript Institute & Colorado Aromatics
Sarva Soap's Soap Leaves

2 comments:

  1. I can't believe nobody had had a response to this!! It's one of the most powerfully heartfelt things I've read in our industry in a long time.

    Thank you for putting your feelings out there and saying this. I suspect a lot of us feel the same way and I'm honored that you will let me post it on my blog as well. More people need to read what you are saying.

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  2. I agree, Michelle. I'm tweeting and posting a link on my fb pages . . . it deserves wider recognition. Thanks, Emily, for the very special heartfelt feelings.

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