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letters from katherine

June 3, 2020

Dear Communities of The Happy Love Project and The Katherine Phifer Brand,

In the last few weeks it has become crystal clear that both the Katherine Phifer Brand and The Happy Love Project websites require an accessible and available statement regarding racism and diversity in which is available to community members, partners and employees.

I now realize that I cannot assume that people just know that both diversity and racism are important topics in my life. I cannot assume people are going to know that we discuss these topics at all levels in the businesses I run and inside my personal life. I now see that these statements and policies must be posted clearly in writing regarding why and how.

It is with my apologies that it took the events of the last few weeks to understand that it is negligent to assume that a community member knows where I personally and professionally stand on these issues. I will not pretend that I have this all figured out, nor will I claim that I am doing it right.

At a personal level...

I have been involved in my own training regarding power, privilege and oppression for a really long time. I won't get into the tales of my life experiences or training, this isn't the place. While my training has been both in the educational and professional realms, I deeply understand that I have systematically benefited from a society and culture that favors people who are Caucasian. I understand that I still benefit from this society. I will continue to pursue personal training regarding racism and diversity so that I stay committed to making change at a personal and business level. I will continue to do the work to understand how I contribute to the problem.

A few things I've learned recently that I now understand I can do better:

1.) Voting at the local level. I live in a state in America where I often don't agree with the majority vote and have felt that my opinions didn't really matter. I now understand that my vote, whether it will be valued in the state I live or not, is important when it comes to local issues around change particularly in relationship to People of Color and diversity in general. I will take the time and energy to become involved at the local level. I will vote for people who are actively against racism and systematic racism. (I do vote at the presidential level consistently, and will continue to do so.)

2.) I plan to become more involved with what's being taught at schools. A good friend of mine shed light on this issue for me. To be honest, since I am not an educator or work in the education system, I had no idea that I could become involved with what is being taught in schools. I have believed that in order to teach my children what I think is important regarding race and diversity, that it was up to me. My husband and I regularly have conversations about race, racism and diversity with our kids. However,I plan to have conversations with my local school board regarding what's being taught regarding history and values.

3.) My husband and I are committed to raising our children with the knowledge of racism, systematic oppression and diversity as a whole. I will actively teach my boys to not respond in fear to people who have different opinions than them. They will continue to be taught to not be silent when it comes to issues in order to keep the "peace." In my house we have had ongoing conversations regarding fear from speaking our truths when it comes to supporting issues that are emotionally charged. We have also had conversations regarding the systematic racism that exists in our society and culture.

4.) Personally, my husband and I will continue to donate and invest our dollars in important causes and business.

5.) I will continue to search for education to know more and to support the changing climate that is desperately needed.

At a professional level...

1.) The Katherine Phifer Brand and The Happy Love Project are based on diversity, unconditional curiosity and passion to always do better. We will actively involve this theme in our mission statements.

2.) When hired, full time and part time employees will be gifted appropriate training courses regarding racism and diversity. Interns will be actively involved in diversity conversations. Once we reach a certain financial level, we will offer our interns diversity training as well. When we do, we will hire based on diversity.

3.) Content on both platforms will be committed to diversity. We will do more to include voices of the GLBTQ community, and the BI& POC community in interviews and articles shared on The Happy Love Project. While we have not had any events yet, future events will be inclusive and diverse.

4.) Each business will financially become involved with programs that support the systematic change within the world.

At both the personal and business level, I will continue to have conversations regarding racism and diversity. As always, my door is open to conversations about how we can do things better. Inside The Happy Love Project and Katherine Phifer, we believe in radical rancor, but we prefer to have these conversations through verbal conversation. If you would like to get on a Zoom call and discuss how we can better serve our communities, please reach out to or .

You can find a link to this diversity statement in the footer of every page of our websites.

As always, be well and do fabulous things.

With love and abundance,

Katherine Phifer

(PS. This is a working document and will updated regularly.)

Abundance is holistic.⠀

It's not just about money. Although it is about money.⠀

It's not just about love. Although it is about love.⠀

It's not just about spirituality. Although it is about spiritual connection.⠀

It's not just about health. Although it is about health too.⠀

It's about the whole picture, the whole body, the whole being. ⠀

One key part of abundance operates in relationship to the other. And when you feel abundant on all levels... (which btw, when I say love- that can totally be self love)... your world opens up in all kinds of new, powerful and magical ways. ⠀

Where in your life are you feeling abundant today? And where in your life could you use more abundance? ❤️

This article was originally published in 2017 and has been revised for this platform.

Something I tend to hide (because it makes me vulnerable) is telling people that I am a sensitive person, both emotionally and physically. I am working on the vulnerability. Physically, among other things, I have Crohn’s Disease and Hashimoto’s Disease. Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease that occurs anywhere in your digestive tract. Over the years, my Crohn’s disease has typically lived in the area between the small and large intestine, and when I was nineteen I had a section of that part of my intestines removed. Hashimoto's Disease is a autoimmune disease of the thyroid. My thyroid usually likes to be slow instead of fast, so I tend to have more issues on the hypo-thyroidism spectrum than the the hyper-thyroidism spectrum. Currently in my life, I tend to focus my Crohn’s disease symptoms more than my Hashimoto’s symptoms, but both let me know they exist daily.

I have had Crohn’s disease for twenty years. I started feeling sick two weeks prior to graduating from high school after a bout of what I thought was food poisoning. I was sick for nearly a year after that, and lost fifty pounds in my first eight months of college. I was not doing well, and my parents medically excused me from my second semester of my freshman year. I went home to figure out if I had colon cancer or Crohn’s and after some exploratory surgery and removal of a chunk of my intestines and my appendix, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

My entire adulthood has been intertwined with this relationship with Crohn’s. That is crazy to think about. Crohn’s and I have become unlikely partners over the years. We have been together longer than my marriage and most of my friendships. It was with me through college and graduate school. I t has gone on every vacation and road trip I have been on in the past twenty years.

For just a quick second, let me explain the science behind the disease the way I understand it. In my digestive tract, my killer white blood actually get a little more aggressive than they should and attack whatever they see as an enemy. So, if I produce a lot of killer white cells to fight an infection, they go crazy and attack everything, both the good and bad cells. This turns into inflammation, ulcers or fistulas (tiny canals between the walls of the intestines) and a flare up has occurred.

The list of Crohn’s symptoms is long, but the big ones for me are sudden and intense urges to go to the bathroom, diarrhea, multiple trips to the bathroom and intense abdominal cramps. Food is an issue and certain foods definitely bother me. But, here’s the funny thing… some foods I am able to eat without problem on some days and on other days those same exact foods will cause me an immense amount of grief. My response to what I eat, and the symptoms I have, are all intertwined with every other function in my body. The level of stress I am currently under, the amount of sleep I’ve had in the past few nights and what I ate three days ago all factor in to whether or not a food I have eaten today will bother me.

Crohn’s has been an integral part of my life for twenty years, but for most of those years I didn’t pay much attention to it. I would take medicine to keep it bay, go to the bathroom like twenty times a day, and keep moving. I met with doctors every three to six months to make sure things were alright and I just kept going. It’s a gross topic, so I tried to make it a non-issue and mastered the art of going to the bathroom quickly. The benefit over the years is that Crohn’s got me out of washing dishes at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. But really, for many years I had other priorities than dealing with Crohn’s disease. I had to figure out my career, be in relationships, get married and have babies.

And then, a couple years ago I started to not feel that great. I was tired all of the time. I was achey. I had joint pain. I felt like an eighty year old woman. I was in the bathroom more than the typical twenty times a day (I am exaggerating, sometimes it was way less than that). I realized that this disease was starting to take a toll on my body. After a good amount of tears, a number of temper tantrums, and my mommy flying to Alaska to be with me, and my sweet husband by my side, I had a colonoscopy (the first one in fifteen years). The results came back from the doctor: “Your colon show indications of Crohn’s Disease”. If I had any doubts over the years, I guess this letter solidified that this particular unlikely partner wasn’t going anywhere.

One day about six months ago, I was talking to this very intuitive and kind person and she said: It seems like you are pretty angry about having this disease. It seems like, perhaps, you feel like a victim to it and you often ask the universe “why me?” Well… uh….. yeah. I guess I do. I wasn’t too keen on the victim word…. as most days I like to think that I am a warrior and strong. But, I guess I do subliminally wonder why I have this disease. Daily. Except when I get out of doing dishes at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

Then, the amazing lady said: Perhaps it would do you justice to make friends with this disease. Become partners with it. Be comfortable bedfellows. What? Be friends with this thing that makes no sense and bothers me daily and sometimes nightly? Be friends with the disease that makes me tired, and achey and sick? Be friends with the disease that I worry gets in the way of my actual relationships? Be friends with the thing that says I can’t have chocolate cake daily? At first, I was not very happy with this suggestion. I said to myself: Forget being friends with Crohn’s. I had a few other choice words to say along with that. I said to myself: I am going to beat this Crohn’s disease. We are going to war. I am not going to welcome this disease into my bed!

But, then after just a minute of being quiet and contemplating this challenge, I realized this really amazing thing. Crohn’s has made me the person I am. It has made me strong in other ways. It has given me a perspective on life that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It led me to a helping profession so that I could walk with others dealing with the amazing difficulties of life. It has made me be aware of how much stress I process, how much sleep I get and how much I exercise. Recently it has made me think about everything I do with my body, including making big choices with the food I eat. It has made me ME. It has become an integral part of my spiritual journey and we are spiritual partners, Crohn’s and I. We are bedfellows.

Katherine Phifer









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