A Passion for Purple

I don’t know if Ashley Hasty’s favorite color has always been purple, but she sure shows a passion for it now.

Last year Ashley wore the same purple dress each day of the month of April to raise money and awareness for Crohn’s Disease. Purple is the official ribbon color for this incurable condition in which a person’s immune system attacks the colon. Ashley was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2010. This came after years of her suffering abdominal pain, not really knowing what was wrong. She went through numerous tests, procedures, and hospitalizations before finally having a colon resection.  Ashley knew first hand that Crohn’s Disease is not a glamorous problem. No one likes talking about their bowels! She knew how alone she had felt, and she wanted to do something to help others.  She was in a Ph.D. program in Textile and Apparel Management at the time, and she decided to bring her fashion expertise and social media savvy together to form “The Purple Dress Project.”

Ashley accessorized her purple dress differently each day, took pictures, and wrote about the experience on her blog. She generated quite the media storm in Mid-Missouri and was featured in most print publications, in addition to making several TV appearances. She’s since moved to Indiana (where she teaches textiles at IU), but is continuing the project there. This year, she switched things up a bit and decided to get other people wearing purple dresses–smart girl! She proclaimed Tuesday, April 24, 2012 as Paint the Town Purple Day. Supporters are to wear a purple dress and post it to her Facebook wall.

Ashley’s mother is my neighbor, and she was also my son’s fifth grade teacher. They’re a great family and I was eager to help out, especially since it involved shopping for a purple dress! For any fashionistas out there, the dress I’m wearing in my photos (below) is an Evan-Picone, bought on a clearance rack for $30. I was extra excited when I found a purple dog dress at Target, which I just had to buy for Lily, my Bichon who happened to get a bad haircut the day before. 

You can see more photos of Lily and me on my Facebook page. I’ve also made a donation to The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. I know we all get asked to donate to many worthwhile causes. Ashley makes it clear that no amount is too small. To donate to The Purple Dress Project/CCFA, click here. And if you can’t donate, that’s fine, too. Just reading this and being more aware of this disease will make Ashley’s day.

For more information on these disorders, check out this site: Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).

To follow Ashley’s journey, and to see fun pictures of people (and dogs!) wearing purple, click here.

Perfectly Imperfect

We live in perfectly imperfect bodies. While they do amazing things, they don’t always cooperate with our plans. We get a cold before an important presentation. Our back goes out before a vacation. Or worse yet, we develop a chronic illness that seriously disrupts our lives.

I’ve shared some of my personal struggles with chronic pain on this blog, and I’m working diligently to be more compassionate to myself, regardless of what I can or can’t do on any certain day.

This week has a theme. And for regular readers of my blog, you know I like themes! My inspiration and timing of the theme comes from Ashley Hasty, who I’ll write more about tomorrow. She has Crohn’s Disease and has a unique project that runs through April to raise awareness and money to support research into the illness.

This week I’ll be exploring questions such as:

  • How do we make sense of suffering?
  • How do we find hope when it feels like there is none?
  • How do we be kind to ourselves when we feel sick and useless?
  • How do we find meaning in the mess? (I also like alliteration)
  • How can we reach out to others?

So, here’s the schedule:

Tuesday: A Passion for Purple (featuring Ashley Hasty’s story)

Wednesday: Coping with Chronic Illness…Compassionately (featuring an interview with Toni Bernhard, author of an award-winning book called How to be Sick)

Thursday: Cancer: No Single Path to Recovery, a piece I wrote for another publication, but it fits in with the theme, so I’m going to reuse it 🙂

Friday: To be announced… I have ideas swirling in my head. The title will likely involve a color name. (I’m thinking “Mysterious Mauve” or “Uncertain Gray”)

I’m feeling a little giddy thinking about color names, so I’d better go for now. See you tomorrow!