16 Reasons to Celebrate 2016

memoriesThe end of the year often times brings up a sense of nostalgia. For those of you who know me, you know I’m my own worst critic. And for those who do not? There’s a fun fact I know you were wondering (I have several others, but that’s for another day). Owning a business is everything I ever imagined it would be, and more. As I sit and reflect on year 2016, I want to take a moment and celebrate the victories as not only is this something I don’t typically do, but there were 16 ‘things’ that instantly came to mind. In knowing how much I love themes? I was like, “Meaghan! You must write about this immediately and share the 16 incredible ‘things’ that happened in 2016.” Trust me, there were moments during this rollercoaster ride of a year where I wanted to get off and I simply couldn’t; I have a lot to work on, a lot to do, a lot of goals and a lot of ideas. However right now? I’m going to celebrate these victories and I want you to do so along side of me since you played a huge role in many of the victories. Grab your adorable Disco Drink and let’s toast! Ready? In no particular order, here we go:

1.) M of Hope hosted a total of NINE Beautiful IS Bald Events. I’m asked a lot about one of my favorite aspects to the shop and something I am most proud of. My answer is always, without a doubt, Beautiful IS Bald. Just like the shop itself was inspired after my mom, this particular event was created based on her experience with her hair loss. For both men and women, losing your hair is a difficult aspect to a cancer diagnosis (heck, it’s difficult in general). We take pride in our hair, booking appointments to see our favorite stylist, and it’s essentially a version of self expression. Losing it, without wanting to, is one of many obstacles individuals face when it comes to a cancer diagnosis as it’s very much like you’re losing your identity.

My mom and I at her last round of chemotherapy.

My mom and I at her last round of chemotherapy.

When I went with my mom to get her head shaved, she wasn’t sitting in the chair and the razor was taken to her head. She did not have that final moment to look in the mirror and essentailly say goodbye to the woman she saw herself as (not the woman we all know and love). The pain I witnessed in that moment was one I can still see as I type this and goosebumps appear on my arms. I wanted to create an evening that is painless, that is a celebration of the milestones individuals conquer and take on while fighting, filled with laughter and as cheesy as this may sound? A night to be reminded of just how beautiful you are.

I began this event the very first month that I opened and had three people stop in. Three. I had a photographer, Ken, my hair stylist, Jessica, and a masseuse. Now? I have seven different aspects to the event and several individuals who stop in and allow us to pamper them. To see what this event has turned into is something I can’t quite grasp and I can’t stop smiling when I actually see this dream as a reality. I am so lucky to work with seven local Cleveland women who donate their time and talent to make this evening everything I imagined, and more (more on them soon).

beautiful-is-bald

I don’t really urge people to do things often, as I don’t have a bossy demeanor,  but I really do urge you to stop in to one of these events. We face struggles on a daily basis (cancer, depression, anxiety, a bad day, divorce, loss of job, etc.), so regardless of your battle and what you’re fighting? Stop by and experience this evening. I can say with confidence that you will have a wonderful time.

2.) I had the privilege of meeting not one, but two, incredibly inspiring young women, Ashley and Serena (as well as their amazing moms and family). These two young women reminded me of what true friendship means, and how when someone is going through something difficult? You’re there for them in a heartbeat. Their smiles are infectious, their friendship? Admirable, to say the least. These two are going places, just you wait! I am so happy that they stopped in for February’s Beautiful IS Bald, and I can’t wait to watch them grow and witness all that they accomplish. Sending both of you ladies hugs now.

ashley-and-serena

Photo by Jessica Sherwood of Sherwood Photography

3.) Being asked to speak to a class at Saint Joseph Academy was such a thrill. To be honest, I was a bit intimidated and nervous going into it. Having been in high school many moons ago, I know that they can be a tough crowd. Would I keep their attention? Would they be interested in what I was sharing? My nerves were eased the moment I walked into the room. Thank you so much for the incredible Q & A, and opportunity to share that you can go to college undecided, heck- you can go through life undecided, and find your way to something beautiful. Continue on your yellow brick road… it’s one exquisite walk.

theres-no-place-like-m-of-hope

4.) I got to partner with my very dear friend to create a line of t-shirts exclusively for M of Hope. Her patience with me, her way of taking my words and turning them into this beautiful vision? I’m in awe of her talents and thankful for her friendship. You know the infamous “Check Your Booooobs!” t-shirt, pin and hoodie that you help me sell out of each October? That’s an original Brittany. And this year with the Wizard of Oz inspired line? Thank you so much, Brittany. I can’t wait to show everyone what we have designed for 2017. In keeping with my infamous teaser: stay tuned…

all-of-the-shirts

Photos by Dominic Diliberto

5.) Owning a business is, in one word? Rewarding. In two words? Stressful rewarding. And doing it solo? If you drive by the shop late at night and see me singing and dancing while moving product? Enough said. Or perhaps if you follow me on Snapchat and hear me share interesting stories of the day? You understand. This year was special as I had the privilege of growing closer to one of my favorite local shop owners, Kelly of Wicked Sugar Fashion. Being able to vent, ask opinions, cry when your computer crashes the week of Black Friday (true story), having support at all hours of the day? I don’t know how I would have made it through this year without the support of this smart, beautiful Girlboss. Even better? We collaborated and co-hosted our very first Men’s Shopping Event! Once more, stay tuned as another one could possibly be in the works… Thank you so much for everything, Kelly.

kelly

6.) Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a stickler for details and I strive for perfection. If that means foregoing sleep one night? So be it. This year, however, I was reminded of humility and the importance of reaching out and asking others for help. While something completely new to me, and to be honest, a challenge, I reached out and asked for said help. I can’t thank Jasmine, Amanda, Rachel, Jennifer, Angela, Donna, Rhonda, and several others, enough. Everything from assisting in whitty puns for each month’s theme to helping with the windows, to wrapping presents and being general support; I value your assistance and you for allowing me to reach out for said help. The details and extra special touches would not be possible if not for you.

When you have a moment, take a look at the beautiful story my friend Jasmine created about M of Hope. Spending a day with her and watching her craft unfold before my eyes was inspiring. You must take a look at all of her other work, too!

Jennifer assists me with all of my punny fun, and all of the women listed have been supportive and helpful in numerous ways. I can't thank you enough.

Jennifer assists me with all of my punny fun, and all of the women listed have been supportive and helpful in numerous ways; I can’t thank you all enough.

7.) I was delighted to host “Spreading Christmas Cheer” once again this December. “Spreading Christmas Cheer” is a gift collection for those unable to leave the Critical Care Unit at Southwest General Hospital during the Christmas season. In late November the collection begins and runs through the eve of Christmas Eve. It’s difficult to find words for this particular event, as it’s so special. It really brings forward the feeling of community and it’s beautiful to witness individuals coming forward to help make a stranger’s holiday just a little brighter. I am humbled to see the love that pours through with this particular event. It would NOT be possible if not for all of your support. Thank you for helping to spread the cheer once again this Christmas.

presents

Just a “few” of the many gifts that were donated this year to those unable to leave Southwest General Hospital.

8.) The back-to-school drive for UH’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital was another fun event! I really love how much you, my customers, supporters and friends, get into each event at the shop. This was another event where my car was full of sweet donations that you dropped off to help make the beginning of the school year easier on some families in Cleveland, Ohio.

back-to-school

9.) I’m a firm believer in giving back to not only community, but local in general. I have a long, blank wall in my shop that serves as a canvas for local artists, and it’s so special to see the customers react to your work. It was fun putting on “Gallery Nights” for local artists, and seeing customers connect with you. Thank you for sharing your creativity and for providing light in other’s lives. {If you know of anyone who may be interested in having their work hung in the shop, please have them reach out to me: contact@mofhope.com}

artist-of-the-month

10.) I am one step closer in gaining my Mastectomy Certification. What exactly does that mean, you ask? It means that I will be able to carry and fit customers for mastectomy bras and prosthesis, bill their insurance companies to ensure a seamless visit and my absolute favorite piece? Help restore confidence in women. I flew across the country to take a course and have been measuring to gain my hours. I am so close, and I truly can’t wait to obtain this piece for the shop. I want to thank you all for your patience and understanding as I work on gaining this certification. I know it’s taking me longer than I had hoped, and I can’t wait to finally annouce this service to you. If anything, while working towards this, I have really realized the importance of leaning on others, ever so slightly (reference to number 6).

bras

11.) In going with the theme of giving back to community, I created a “No Shave November, With A Twist!” event. Using the money you would save in forgoing shaving during the month of November, I asked if M of Hope supporters would be interested in purchasing canned food and goods for the Middleburg Heights Food Pantry. Once more, you absolutely warmed my heart with your thoughtfulness. You really helped to make Thanksgiving memorable for local families.

food-pantry

12.) The women at the Prayer Shawl Ministry are absolutely incredible, and anything I can do to support them? I will in a heartbeat! They knit blankets and beanies for those undergoing cancer treatement. I first came across them when my mom was undergoing her Radiation Therapy. Due to a strange accident (that we oddly laugh at now), my dad had to have both of his knees replaced at the same time of my mom’s treatment. It’s safe to say that things were “real” the year she was battling cancer. One day, during radiation, she was gifted a lap blanket from the Prayer Shawl Ministry. This gesture absolutely made her day, and helped us as a family through a challenging time. Knowing how much these women do, and how much they help? I organized a “Kissing Cancer Goodbye in the CLE” fundraiser where you can purchase a “kiss” (a set of lips) for $1 and kiss cancer goodbye. The dollar is matched by my shop, and the donation goes to these sweet women. Stay tuned, as this event is in the works again as I type this 😉

kissing-cancer-goodbye

Angela is #KissingCancerGoodbyeCLE!

13.) This year I attended a total of 11 pop-up shop events in a matter of three months. Thank you so much to all who welcomed M of Hope and allowed me to participate in your thoughtful events, educating health fairs, and exciting holiday parties. I loved working with you all, look forward to doing so again, and thank you for helping to spread the word and mission behind my small little boutique.

events

14.) So… you’ve heard of the Cleveland Cavaliers, right? You know… they’re champs and all. The Cavs wore a lapel pin from M of Hope at their “Pink the Q” event in October. Granted, I did not make the pin myself, but… they were wearing pins from M of Hope. And I legit almost completely lost my cool when learning who the pins were going to (fairly confident I said several oddities). So that was pretty cool. Oh, and Go Cavs!

cavs-and-pins

15.) I have had such an honor to work with incredible women who helped make my vision a reality. There are so many, and as you can see I tend to get wordy, so allow me to focus specifically on the women of Beautiful IS Bald. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your gifts with others and for helping to make this night such a success: Annette, Donna, Nivi, Jessica, Jessica, Michele, Heather, Cheryl and Paula? It’s been an absolute pleasure and I can’t wait to kick off the year with Beautiful IS Bald on Monday, January 30th. Thank you for all that you do for others (and for myself). xoxo

One day we will take a photo with everyone, but until then, here's a favorite of these beautiful women.

One day we will take a photo with everyone, but until then, here’s a favorite of these beautiful women.

16.) One of my absolute highlights of 2016 is in MEETING YOU! There are days when I am absolutely exhausted. Going through photos and compiling this list of all M of Hope has done this year opened my eyes to how much took place. Some days it is a struggle to get up, put on make-up and come to the shop when I honestly would like to be tucked in bed, watching Netflix or reading a good book with my cat Carly O’Brien. But then you walk in. YOU, you wonderful, fearless fighter. You ARE superhuman. You inspire me and you put everything into perspective. You absolutely amaze me, and I am humbled to be a small part of your fight. You keep me going, you keep me grounded and you inspire me to find new ways to help. I can’t thank you enough for opening up your vulnerabilities to me and for reminding me of what a gift each day is.

helping

Lots of warm and fuzzies to match lots of memorable moments. As I finish this post, I am off to plan three fun ‘things’ for January and I hope you’ll be as excited over them as I am. There are so many ideas, plans and *hopes* for this little shop for 2017. I can’t wait for you to see them all, and I thank you, from the bottom of my sparkly heart for a lovely 2016.

my-mom-and-i

Wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year filled with health, happiness, prosperity, wonder, wanderlust, love and essentially everything that makes you happiest. Happy New Year!

xoxo,

lovealways

 

Meaghan

 

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