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"taking care of yourself"

Taking Care of Me is Taking Care of My Family

Do you find it hard to make time for taking care of yourself? Lately, I’ve resolved to get my health back on track, which means working out, portion control and making healthier choices in the foods I eat. Sounds easy, right? It’s harder than you think, especially for a busy mom of two little girls on the go.

It’s been going pretty well. Like anything in life, it’s hard to break bad habits like mindless eating and not moving. I’ve had to make conscious decisions to get up and work out and to measure out my portions but it’s getting easier. I’ve done this by finding a workout that I love because it’s dancing and using containers and a scale to measure my foods before I portion them.

The one thing I am having trouble with is eating when I am hungry. I get so busy that I either forget to eat until I need to be someplace or I simply don’t have the time to find something nutritious so I grab whatever happens to be in front of me and honestly, it’s not usually anything that I should be putting in my mouth at such a quantity of with such fervor. So, I’ve decided to start keeping fresh fruits (washed, dried and ready to eat), fresh veggies (washed, cut up and in baggies) and high protein bars at my disposal.

The thing that is proving the hardest is satisfying my sweet tooth because even though my mind knows that’s a slippery slope, my cravings still crave it. It’s getting easier and I’m not shoveling all the carbs into my mouth without consideration like I was before but I still have those times of the month when I just need something sweet or people could get hurt. You know what I mean.

I’ve found two ways to satisfy these cravings that is a much healthier choice than reaching for a brownie or cookies. I’ve started making smoothies using fresh or frozen fruits and vanilla almond milk with protein powder. My favorite is 1 banana, ½ cup of mixed frozen berries, ½ cup of vanilla almond milk and about 3 oz. of vanilla protein powder. I throw it all in my individual smoothie blender and satisfy my sweet tooth guilt free.

Now, that’s taking care of yourself!

FIber One, health, healthy snacks on the go, taking care of yourself

My other favorite treat is Fiber One’s new Cheesecake bars. My family has always been a fan of the Fiber One bars. The girls love the brownies and I love the lemon bars but I have a new favorite, the new Fiber One Cheesecake bar in Salted Caramel. My little one prefers the Fiber One Cheesecake bar in strawberry. Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong.

The best part is aside from grabbing them on the go for myself, I can give them to my girls with a piece of fresh fruit and a glass of milk for a fast, healthy breakfast. It’s perfect on those days when we are running late for school, as a light afternoon snack between cheer and ballet or gymnastics or even for dessert, when you just need a little something sweet.

It works for me. It’s made changing my eating habits and developing a healthier lifestyle a lot easier because I don’t feel deprived. I don’t feel like I’m being punished. I feel like I’m just learning to making better choices and in the long run, I think that will mean the difference between succeeding at getting healthy and failure. When it comes to my health, failure just isn’t an option anymore.

FIber One, health, healthy snacks on the go, taking care of yourself

What’s your favorite healthy snack you eat when taking care of yourself?

 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Fiber One through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Fiber One’s Cheesecake Bars, all opinions about taking care of yourself  and Fiber One’s Cheesecake Bars are my own.

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How to Decorate Your Home with and Care for Your Succulents

Do you love succulent plants? There is just something appealing about the idea of something beautiful and green that doesn’t require a lot of attention. Succulents are the cats of plants. They are everywhere these days. They’re cute and succulent care is easy. Put them in a cute gold hanging planter pot and voila, you’ve got an instant conversation starter.

succulents, boho, Wayfair, succulent plants, succulent care

I’ve been redecorating my office; updating and streamlining. I’m trying to make my workspace a more peaceful place with less distractions. I want more light and less clutter. A workspace should be a place of inspiration and warmth, especially when you are a creative type. I’m a writer. I thrive in natural light, free-flowing energy and clarity.

Succulents remind me of driving to my grandpa’s house in Mexico when I was a child. Yes, we drove from Chicago to Mexico every summer. At that time, there were five of us kids ( later there would be six) and it was a long, hot drive in August. One of the things we looked forward to the most was the change of scenery. We didn’t have cactus and deserts in Chicago so we always thought it was pretty cool to see.

READ ALSO: How a Piece of Furniture Transformed my Life

Succulent plants have been on my list for my office for quite some time. Between watching all the dormify Youtube videos with my teenage girls and just wanting something more natural, something that could actually lighten the air in my office, I finally bought myself a small collection of succulents. Now, I need to figure out succulent care and how to keep them alive and thriving.

succulents, boho, Wayfair, succulent plants, succulent care

The thing is that I don’t know too much about succulent care other than my rule #1, when you have these types of plants, you have to plant them in pretty planter pots. It’s the only way to do it, right? There is just something about a tiny, hearty succulent sitting in your line of sight that conjures up thoughts of warm weather and the summers of my childhood.

READ ALSO: When a Deck is More than a Deck

Since I don’t want to be that person who buys beautiful plants and then lets them all die because I don’t know anything about succulent care, I’ve done some research. Turns out that it’s pretty simple to take care of succulents but do you actually have to give them some love and attention.

Succulent care for Newbies

 

  1. Choose a succulent that you love but that is appropriate for your home.
  2. Provide a very well-draining potting soil. You do not want moisture staying in there too long.
  3. Choose a beautiful succulent plant pot. This is where you can really make your succulents shine as a part of your décor.
  4. Place your potted succulents in a bright and sunny location. Mine are in my office window.
  5. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. When watering, be sure to soak the roots.
  6. Last but not least, be sure to fertilize your succulents at least once a year.

Succulents are great because they are hearty and hard to kill. They are perfect for someone who wants to care for plants but who might not necessarily have the time to care for something fickler like orchids. A succulent garden is every bit as beautiful as any other kind of plant and sometimes even more so because each plant is so different and they come in such a variety of textures and shapes. It’s also a great way to teach kids responsibility and caring for living things. My 11-year-old loves hers.

Do you love succulents? What is your best tip for succulent care?

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This morning on our drive to preschool, Gabi began asking me her daily quota of questions about death, heaven and God and/or Jesus.  I’m not joking this kid is suddenly obsessed with death and what happens in the after life. Or rather, what happens to people who die. She’s four and shouldn’t be asking these questions, or maybe she should. I just wish she didn’t even have death on her radar yet. I never thought I’d be contemplating how to explain death to children at this age.

It’s my own fault. In July, my estranged Grandmother died. But in the weeks before she died, my presence was requested by her. I hadn’t seen her in about 20 years in any real capacity, save for the 5 minutes she had stopped by baby shower and disappeared just as quickly six years ago. I hadn’t really known her and she had never met either of my girls but I hated to deny a dying woman her last wish.

I decided that I needed to tell the girls about this woman if they were going to meet her. I told them that my grandmother was sick and very old. I was trying to prep them for meeting a woman on her death bed. Of course, my Gabs would ask daily if we were going to see the “sick oldie.” You know how four-year-olds are, they tend to get stuck on repeat.

We never made it to Ohio to say goodbye. After she died, my girls were still asking what happened to the sick oldie. I told them that she had went to God and Abbi has been preoccupied with people dying and what happens to them once they die ever since.

 

God, Jesus,Care Bears, grandma

Gabi: Mommy, is Jesus dead?

Me: Well, Abbi his body died but his soul went to heaven to be with God.

Gabi: Who’s God? Is that him Daddy?

Me: Yes, that is his father.

Gabs: Mom, is Jesus with the sick oldie?

Me: Yes, Abbi. My grandma is in heaven with Jesus.

Gabi: Mommy, how is Jesus in heaven if he is dead?

Me: His body is dead, his soul is in heaven.

Gabs: Mommy, what’s a soul?

Me: It’s what’s inside all of us. It’s what makes us special.

Gabi: Mommy?

Me:Yes, honey.

*Seriously, how long is this ride between schools. This was the longest mile and a half of my life.

God Help me explain death in a way a little brain can digest it.

Gabi: Mommy, do you think God and Jesus are playing with the Care Bears and making the sick oldie feel better?

Me: The Care Bears?

Gabs: Yes, Mommy because  you know what ? The Care Bears live in the clouds just like God and Jesus.

Me: Maybe, honey.

Gabi: Mommy, you know what? Th sick oldie is happy because she is with Jesus, God and the Care Bears. Me know it! Okay, Mommy?

I didn’t get to say goodbye but I’d like to think she is in heaven with God, Jesus and the Care Bears having a good time frolicking above us all and keeping an eye on us.

God, Jesus and the Care Bears this is how you explain death to children.

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Alpha Women, divorce, marriage, strong women, money, finances

Do you think as Alpha Women are taking back their “bossy” and leaning in so hard that maybe we are forcing men out?

Are Alpha Women responsible for causing so many failed marriages and entitled kids who are products of these divorces? FOX news thinks so. Wait a minute…FOX news doesn’t think, they just speak.

I recently watched this video segment on FOX news and was flabbergasted. I was sure that someone had posted an Onion piece posing as a FOX “news” piece but then again, what comes out of FOX news channel these days shouldn’t surprise me. They are the conservative news outlet and apparently, they don’t so much report the news as bend it to their will to support their conservative agenda. Or maybe it was an Onion piece? I kinda hope it is.

Apparently, as we women “lean in”, men are forced to lean out to avoid being completely annihilated. Now that a whopping 24% of women make more money than their husbands, the conservative dogma is about to implode upon itself. (Women typically make 23% less than men, so obviously if these women are making 24% more than their husbands, they are having to work just about 150% harder for that.)

In this particular piece, it was stated that social pressures in the U.S. for men to be breadwinners are what may cause the marital problems. Obviously, the answer is for women to stop being so damn Alpha and let their men do what God intended, take care of women. Only there is one f*cking problem, men don’t always take care of women and secondly, not all women want to be at the mercy of some man to make her dreams come true.

Look, our whole lives, women have been told that in order to succeed in life we need to get married and have children, keep a clean house, cook well and look good while doing it all. We are not supposed to think or have free will if it interferes with the grand scheme of things. If what we want to do interferes with what he wants to do, we are expected o acquiesce because you know… the vagina thing. Just accept our fates already. We have vaginas, they make us weak so we need big, hairy men to take care of us. Huh?

In fact, let’s back up, what constitutes ALPHA WOMEN?

Is FOX News trying to insinuate that strong women are the problem? Are we suppose to teach our girls to bend to the will of men and take less than they deserve just to make the men in their lives feel better? Because I’ve got to tell you, that will never happen in my house. We teach our girls to do their best, work their hardest and go for whatever they want. We teach them that anything is possible. I’m raising Alpha Girls.

The question was raised, “Do women LIKE being taken care of?” Well, I have a two-part answer for that. First of all, what does taken care of mean? Financial security? Shelter? Food? Or emotional support and love?

My first answer is yes! Of course, every person (man and woman) loves to be taken care of in a way that they have a partner that reciprocates unconditional love and support. Do we all like having someone in our life that will carry us through when we are down or give us a hand when we have fallen? Of course, we do. Doesn’t everyone? Do we like being financially stable and being provided a beautiful home and things? Of course, that is human nature. But do I expect my husband to provide my everything? No. He is my partner and I am his. We get through this life together. If being “taken care of” means my husband going to work every day while I stay home and work my tail off and that equals him getting to do whatever he wants while I get to be subservient, then no thank you. We take care of each other over here.

No one is leaning over crushing the other under his or her weight. Sure there are sometimes when he is the star and I let him shine and there are other times when I am leaning in so hard, he picks up all the slack. This is not him doing me a favor or me letting go of my dreams to support his. We do this for one another. No, marriage is not 100% equal all of the time. You are a fool if you think it is. But in the grand scheme of things, if you add up our years together and divide them by when ones been the star and the other has been the wind beneath the wings; it’s just about even.

I don’t make anywhere near as much as my husband does these days but when we were first out of college, I was the only one working while he interviewed for months. We lived together. There was no animosity. I worked while he looked for a job. Every night we sat down together for dinner, both of us had worked all day; one at a place of business the other at home. I appreciated everything he did for our home. I respected him for being a participant in our marriage and supporting me emotionally during that time in our life.

Once we had children, we made the decision that I would stay home. To be honest, I made the decision and he completely supported me. Since he had been home, he knew what had to be done to keep a home running. Once we had the children, he knew I was at home raising our babies. He knew all the other stuff I was doing as well and he supported me. We moved several times throughout our marriage for his dreams and now, he supports me in pursuing mine. When I go to conferences or on press trips, he is able to be flexible at his place of employment. He’ll work from home when I travel. When I have deadlines, he makes dinner. He knows how to give the girls a ballet bun. He takes them to ballet on nights when I need to host a Twitter party or have a Google chat about business.

In our home there are no master and servant roles, there are only 2 people who have loved and supported one another for the past 16 years. There are no man’s work or woman’s work, there are only things that need to get done and we do it…together. The idea that a man would divorce a committed, loving wife for making more money then him I ludicrous and only proves how stupid it is to let male pride and machismo get in the way of happiness.

In truth, the Big Guy says if I ever make enough money to be the sole breadwinner, he’d be more than happy to stay home with the girls and consult for a living. He gets pretty excited at the dream of an early retirement.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that finances most certainly can contribute to the divorce rate but that usually has more to do with a lack of money. Our philosophy has always been that as long as we have one another’s love and support and the true desire to be together, there are very few problems that we couldn’t work through. Next week, we celebrate 15 years of marriage so apparently, what we do has been working for us.

Alpha women, Alpha Men, Alpha Babies and Alpha Dogs, we love them all.

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Things to do in Banff with Teenagers, traveling with teens, travel Tuesday, Banff, Alberta, visit Canada, Visit Alberta, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers and tweens, family travel

Earth Day is one of my favorite days of the year because it’s a great reminder to take a moment and be thankful for the planet we live on. I know, it sounds super crunchy but it’s like realizing that you should be thankful for your body for all that it does for you, instead of complaining that it doesn’t look like everyone else’s. I’m always looking for awesome Earth Day tips for raising environmentally aware kids.

Aside from raising your children to be good human beings (which should be first and foremost every parent’s goal) and showing them how to commit random acts of kindness in the world, we have to teach them the importance of taking care of our planet. We have to make it clear that the earth provides for us; food, water, air and everything else we need to survive and thrive in the universe. We need to take care of it in return. Like any good functional relationship, it takes two and lots of respect and reciprocity.

READ ALSO: 10 Steps for being Environmentally Aware

Kids understand so much more, at much younger ages than we often give them credit for. They can understand concepts like climate change, endangered species and overflowing landfills better than some of their adult counterparts. Showing them the way could motivate them to adopt Earth-friendly behavior. Encourage them with your own actions.

You should be having Earth Day conversations with children as young as preschool-aged about why taking care of the planet is such a good idea. The more you talk with your kids, the more they’ll understand but don’t dumb it down too much. Talk in age-appropriate explanations.

READ ALSO: Beach Bag Must-Haves

  • Use Analogies: Wasting the Earth’s resources too quickly is like spending all your piggy bank money before allowance day.
  • Outline Causal Relationships: If you throw trash down a storm drain, it can make ocean animals sick.
  • Define New Vocabulary Terms: Like “biodegradable,” or “renewable energy.”
  • Make Connections to Prior Knowledge: Just like plants use sunlight to make food, solar panels use it to make electricity.

Show your child how important the environment is to everyone around you. But you have to do more than just show them on Earth Day. For eco-friendly behavior to truly become second nature to our kids, it helps if it is done daily, rewarding and fun.

Here are Earth Day Tips for Raising Environmentally Aware Kids

  1. Recycling: Cut bottle, can and paper slot shapes into your bin lids to make sorting recyclables a fun family game. You can even sing a song while you sort.  And if you take your collected items to a recycling center, consider sharing the redemption money with your kids for an added incentive.
  2. Transportation: Look for chances to reduce emissions (and your stress levels) by taking car-free trips whenever you can. Biking, walking and riding public transportation can give your family some exercise and make traveling a lot more fun, too. City dwellers should find this easy, but even if you live out in the suburbs, we bet you have a park, restaurant or friend’s house within pedaling distance.
  3. Reducing Waste: Help your kids look forward to saving electricity by having one fun candlelight dinner every week. Or encourage them to use less water by timing who can take the fastest shower (while still coming out smelling clean, of course)!
  4. Water: Use only the water you need, and reuse when possible.
    Rain barrels can be used to collect rain and then you can use it to water a family garden.
    Bathe together. Put the kids in the tub together. Shower with your kids or your husband. It saves water, creates memories and nurtures the bond between siblings Dispose of solid and liquid wastes and medications safely.
    Take advantage of medication take-back programs or household hazardous waste collection programs that accept medications, pharmaceuticals, oil, paint and other liquid wastes.
  5. Pass on gas! For example, take public transportation, carpool, plan your day to reduce trips and vehicle emissions.
  6. Make sure your home’s air is healthy, learn about indoor air pollutants from indoor energy use and toxins.
  7. Plant a tree. Or plant many trees! Plant a garden. Plant a vegetable garden.
  8. Prevent additional air pollution by finding alternatives to burning your waste.
  9. Use pesticides safely! Reduce or eliminate where possible.
  10. Learn about composting, try it out!
  11. Reducing yard waste by recycling yard trimmings into free fertilizer.
  12. Learn about the native species and the negative effects of non-native plants and animals in the environment. Plant native species in your gardens, encourage important pollinators such as bees and birds by planting gardens full of their favorite plants. Join a team in your community that removes non-native species.
  13. Save energy at home Choose energy-saving appliances if they’re available. Look for Energy Star!
  14. Hang dry your clothes. This is one of my favorite things to do.
  15. Go renewable! Create your own power from the wind, the sun, water, or biofuels.
  16. Find alternate ways to reduce the use of diesel and other fuels for transportation, production and energy.
  17. Upcycle! Take something that is disposable and transforms it into something of greater use and value.
  18. Recycle metals, plastics and paper
  19. E-cycle Recycle and/or properly dispose of electronic waste such as computers and other gadgets
  20. Don’t litter! Properly dispose of trash and waste

 

Earth Day, Earth Day 2019, Earth Day tips for how to raise envirnmentally aware, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers, traveling with teens, travel Tuesday, Banff, Alberta, visit Canada, Visit Alberta, Things to do in Banff with Teenagers and tweens, family travel

The best thing you can do is simply the act of getting your kids outdoors; no matter the ages. In our high tech world, kids spend a lot more time indoors looking at screens. I’m not judging. I’m stating a fact. We all do it but we need to actively get our kids moving outside, for their health and the health of the planet.

One amazing experience in the great outdoors is worth a thousand nature lectures. Children who have an immersive experience in nature between the ages of 5 and 10, tend to care more about the environment. There is also a greater likelihood that they will actively work to preserve the important life-giving aspects of the environment as adults.

READ ALSO: Tips to Keep Your Kids Healthy

Rather than teaching our Earth Day tips about sustainability, give your kids a nature experience that will instill them with an environmental ethic that will inspire them to develop their own dedication to sustainability.

We’ll be spending this beautiful Earth Day outside, as we always do, watching our girl play soccer, going for a nature walk and playing in the backyard. There is something about getting outside, breathing in the fresh air and playing that truly inspires my family. Nature is like my church.  I feel most at peace just being still and taking in the wonder and beauty that is outside.

What are your best Earth Day tips for raising environmentally aware kids?

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car seat, milestones, growing up, leting go, 8

growing up, car seats, milstones, motherhoodThe moments of motherhood that sneak up on you. Last week, my daughter turned 8. Wow, time is flying by at warp speed. Her birthday was on Sunday and it was preceded by complete chaos. There was a slumber party, the family party that concluded with the entire family shooting a Harlem shake video and Sunday, March 10, we celebrated officially; her father, her sister, her and myself. We always celebrate, just the four of us, on actual birthdays.

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colgate, dental health, dental hygiene, Colgate total daily repair

*Disclosure: I received product and compensation for this post from Colgate Total Repair but all opinions are my own.

My teeth are very important to me. They always have been. Having nice teeth is a virtue that I put a lot of stock in. I’ve always had a healthy fear of periodontal disease, since it runs in my family and I’ve seen what it can do. 25-years-old and having to replace all of your actual teeth with dentures has always been my biggest fear so I brush my teeth like these are the only teeth I’ll ever have because, well, they are.

Imagine my horror when I went to the dentist this summer, after a year and a half of giving my appointments away to my children for checking brackets, checking oddities and etc. when my hygienist said that she thought she noticed some early stage periodontal disease. WHAT? I felt all the blood rush out of my head and I was sure that I would faint.

I couldn’t even hear anything after she said the word because the blood swooshing around in my veins was deafening. The icing on the cake, “We could have caught this earlier had you not given your appointments away to your daughters.” Those girls are on their own from now on. They still have some baby teeth. My teeth are forever teeth and I can’t chance being toothless because their bracket felt “not right”. Tough stuff, kiddo, Mommy needs her teeth for chewing.

I started using the new Colgate Total Daily Repair Toothpaste to help me get stronger gums and teeth. What makes Colgate Total Daily Repair so much better than the toothpaste that I used before? It not only helps repair early teeth damage by remineralizing weakened enamel but it helps repair early gum damage by fighting plaque and helping prevent gingivitis.

Colgate, dental hygiene, dental health

Colgate Total Daily Repair helps to prevent plaque, gingivitis, tartar build-up, cavities and bad breath. Truly, it leaves me feeling more confident that I am doing what’s best for my teeth and that I will have my own beautiful smile for years to come. They say that the proof is in the “pudding”, well, I went back to my dentist after a few weeks of brushing with Colgate Total Daily Repair and flossing twice daily and they said that the condition is improving. That might sound funny to some but to me, it means everything so I’ll be over here brushing with my Colgate Total Daily Repair and flossing, if you need me.

You can learn more about Colgate Total Daily Repair on their Facebook page.

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BlackFish, Dawn Brancheau, Orca, tilikum

I just watched Blackfish. You can watch it here. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. It will change the way you view SeaWorld. It will change the way you view all animals in captivity. It will change the way you see the world. It will make you realize that there needs to be ethics and compassion involved when dealing with nature. This has nothing to do with SeaWorld being a fun place to take your children on vacation, or whether or not the trainers there love the Orca, I am sure they do, but it has everything to do with the morals and ethics that you want to instill in your children.

Blackfish only solidified everything I’ve believed since I was 18 and took my first ethics and animals class at college; wild animals do not belong in captivity. It is cruel and unusual and if we want to see animals go see them in the wild; in their natural habitat. We can coexist but animals are not meant to be penned in and locked up because we think we are entitled to be entertained by them on a whim. Zoos, circuses and aquariums they all make me uncomfortable.

There are people , mostly higher ups at Seaworld, who will try to say that captivity is furthering conservation and research but at what price? The Orca have no natural predators they are the top of the food chain, they only thing they need protecting from is us…the humans. We are their only threat.

Would you like to be kept in a cage for the rest of your life? We do keep people in cages, it’s called jails and it’s for punishment. Why are we punishing the animals? What have they done to deserve this treatment? They were just existing in their world when we came in and stole them from their families, frightened them, dislocated them and took them from everything they knew only to punish them for a crime they didn’t commit.

Wild animals are wild and to expect any different from them because we hold them in captivity is ignorant on our part. We are lazy. We want to see these majestic animals but only on our terms; at our convenience. We have no concern for the animals. They are not inanimate objects. They feel and in the case of the more intelligent animals, like Orca whales, elephants and Chimpanzees, they understand family, loss, love and grief. How can we in good conscience treat them like this?

We’ve all seen and heard of animals attacking. We say it was unprovoked. I say it was more of a miracle it didn’t happen earlier or more often. Just because we want to believe that we have tamed a wild animal by stealing a baby Orca, an animal that stays with it’s mother in the wild until death, from it’s mother, stealing the baby from a mother who grieves, holding it in captivity and withholding food and affection as a means of beating it into submission to making it perform for our entertainment, we do not. What we are doing, in the case of the Orca, is taking an animal that has the lifespan of a human being and habitually pissing them off and then letting them live for 30+ years holding a grudge. We are making these animals into ticking time bombs.

We are the idiots for expecting anything different. We are fools for climbing into the pools with an animal that weighs 12000 lbs and not expecting to be in a dangerous situation. I don’t blame the animal. I blame the people who put the animal in these horrible situations. Imagine being stuck in an enclosure the size of your bathtub for the rest of your life, with a bunch of strangers who don’t like you and depending on others to feed you when all you really want is to be with your own family, in your natural habitat swimming all day and eating at your own leisure. That’s enough to make anyone psychotic.

We’re not saving them from anything. We are creating monsters out of animals who would otherwise peacefully coexist with us. We are punishing them by keeping them in captivity for our entertainment. Don’t support captivity.

If we stop going to these places, they will have no reason to keep these animals in captivity. By going, we are all part of the problem. If you want to see Orca whales go to the ocean and see them in their natural habitat, where they are free and happy. I don’t want to teach my children  that it’s okay to support another creatures misery nor do I want them to think it is right or acceptable to play with wild animals. Do you?

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Emily Doe, victim statement, Brock Turner, Stanford, swimmer, rape, rapist, kid, roared, roar, tantrums, mommy moment, bad parenting

On January 17, 2015, former Stanford University student, Brock Turner, raped an inebriated 22-year-old woman, Emily Doe, behind a garbage dumpster after a frat party. There was no remorse on the part of Mr. Turner for raping someone, only the remorse of being caught. We are all Emily Doe. This could have happened to any of us. It has happened to many of us (to one degree or another) and it will happen to many more of us, if we don’t fight to change it. In fact, it will happen to your daughter, and your granddaughters and all those daughters that come after that.

The attack was only stopped when two Swedish PhD students, Carl Fredrik-Arndt and Peter Jonsson, were cycling past on their way to a party. When the two heroes saw that Turner was on top of an unconscious woman, they stopped, tackled Turner and pinned him down until police could arrive and arrest him. They didn’t have to stop, in fact, most people wouldn’t have stopped they would have gone on about their business.

Because let’s be honest, most people don’t want to be bothered by the inconvenience. It’s so much easier not to get involved. So people pretend they don’t see it happening; the frightened woman on the subway with the stranger’s hand on her ass, the drunk girl at the party being carried off to another room by a group of guys or even the businesswoman walking down the street being harassed by catcalls by men so far beneath her station that the closest thing they’ll ever get to talking to her is yelling sexually lewd epithets at her.

This March, Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and last Thursday Turner faced a maximum of 14 years in state prison but instead was only sentenced to six months in a county jail and probation. He must also complete a sex offender management program and register as a convicted sex offender for the rest of his life.   This is a slap on the wrist and an insult to his victim. Apparently, membership in the club of white penis has its privileges. I’ve seen worse punishments bestowed on POC simply for being of color.

I’ve been avoiding the news the last few days because I wanted to enjoy my time with my family. After last week’s fiasco, I know to truly enjoy my life and time with my family I have to unplug. Then I stumbled across Facebook and I saw the photo of Brock Turner as the clean-cut good kid. Then I saw the actual mug shot and honestly, what does it matter what a rapist looks like? If you rape a woman you are a rapist. How well you dress or clean shaven you are, doesn’t make it okay or make you less of a rapist.

Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape culture, misogyny, campus rape

I’m sitting on vacation, reading the transcript of Emily Doe’s impact statement. As I listen to my little girl’s playing and giggling in the background, I am pushing down the lump in my throat and it is taking everything in my body not to start sobbing right here in the pool room at the Hyatt Regency. I didn’t realize that I’d be triggered but I was. Rape culture is alive and well and is not going anywhere soon. If anything, it’s growing momentum.

I want to cry for the victim; for what she has had to endure and her revictimization by a system that has failed her. I want to cry for my daughters who will one day soon be at college, alone without me to protect them from the evils of the world. I want to cry for every young woman who has ever gone doe-eyed and naively into the world and not expected to be victimized; myself included.

The judge was lenient on Brock Turner because he was an athlete, had a promising future and could possibly have even gone to the Olympics; made all of us Americans proud in the fucking 100-meter dash or some fucking shit like that. He got six months for ruining this woman’s life because in the world we live in, women’s lives don’t matter. We might have “equal rights” but really we will never be considered as valuable as men. He could have been an Olympian, what is she? Just another drunk girl at a party; or so Brock Turner, his father and the judge would have you believe. Just a poor dumb girl, who drank too much and had some drinker’s remorse the next day.

I used to be that girl. No, actually I was what Brock Turner and his attorneys would have you believe his victim was so I was actually much worse. I used to drink a lot in college. I would black out on occasion. I went to frat parties and I loved to flirt. I was the touchy-feely girl who loved attention and liked to have fun but I was a virgin until I was in college. Sure, I had boyfriends and there was dry humping, marathon make-out sessions and all that other shit you do when you just haven’t done the deed yet but I never consented to more. I wouldn’t because I hadn’t and I didn’t want to yet.

But there were times when I was drinking and guys got a little too aggressive in their advances. I remember once I was visiting a friend and I’d met a guy who was visiting her boyfriend, after a night of drinking and hanging out, I woke up to feel him pressed up against me and kissing me. I pushed him off but by the time I had woken up, he’d already been touching my body. I don’t know for how long, I was passed out. But I didn’t do anything about it because I felt partially responsible. Even though there was no consent and no making out before I passed out, I felt responsible for letting myself get into this vulnerable position because that is how this society has conditioned women to believe. If we are assaulted, we must have done something to encourage it.

Then there was the time I was at a frat party and a group of brothers from another university came to the party. I was a little sister at the fraternity, so I was comfortable and even felt safe at the house. A cute walkout started talking to me and one thing led to another, the flirting was in high gear and then in the middle of a room full of people, he pushed my head into his lap. I was drinking but that sobered me up immediately. I felt vulnerable, threatened (in a room full of guys) and angry. Luckily, the president of the frat (a friend of mine) saw the whole thing happen and literally, kicked the guy out of the house. Of course, then he spent the night “comforting” me. I let him because I felt like I owed him. I didn’t want his advances but it felt safer than some stranger shoving my face in his crotch and becoming an unwilling participant in a gang rape.

Then there was the time I was at a college bar with my friends and the star basketball player came up behind me and started grinding on me. I gently moved away. He followed in pursuit. Then he came in front of me, grabbed me by my ass and lifted me up around his waist and started trying to kiss me. No one did anything. I was terrified. I didn’t want his advances. I did not invite him to do any of this. I was minding my own business. No one helped me. I wiggled myself out of his grip and ran out of the bar. When a friend found me outside, she did not care if I was alright or if I was shaken. Her question was, “Don’t you know who that was?”

Or the time I was working at a retail chain as a teenager and the security guys called me back into the security room. I thought they needed a female employee as a witness as they questioned a suspected female shoplifter because that was protocol. Instead, when I got back there at 9 at night, when we were working on a skeleton crew, the two grown men, locked the door and started making comments on how I looked in my uniform. They told me that they liked watching me on the cameras and told me to my face, as they laughed, “You know we could do anything we wanted to you in here and no one would even hear us.” I was trembling I was so terrified.

How about the time I was at a cop party with my friend and a married cop tried to make advances towards me and when I said no because he was married (plus I wasn’t interested) he told me that I should think twice before driving alone in his city ever again because he could pull me over late at night on a dark road and it wouldn’t matter if I was interested or not.

The thing is as I read the victim’s account of what had happened to her, I was saddened and more than anything I was fuming mad. I’m trying to use my words but the problem is that I’m angry and I’m sick of the world giving men a hall pass for rape and attempted rape and acting like it’s a victimless crime. I could go on for pages listing all the different times I’ve been accosted to one degree or another.

Sometimes were worse than others. Sometimes things went further than I wanted them to go but I never felt like I could do anything about it because the truth is that no matter how good, bad, drunk, sober, promiscuous or frigid you are, if you are a woman, you have been made to feel vulnerable and unsafe in your lifetime; it is the curse of being born with a vagina.

We don’t have to do anything to precipitate an attack, they just happen and we just have to learn to live with it, apparently even in 2016. But this is bullshit. I don’t want my girls to ever feel this kind of vulnerability or fear of living. Why do we have to be cautious and careful before doing everything? Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster and her attacker only received six months jail time.

Even a girl in a beige cardigan who did nothing to encourage her attacker’s advances still got raped, left like garbage on the side of a dumpster and her attacker only received six months jail time. Apparently, that is all a woman’s life is worth. Her life is ruined; she will never be the same but it doesn’t really matter because a penis holds more value in this world than a vagina ever could. After all, we only propagate the species. He could have been an Olympian; she was always just a woman.

Emily Doe, Victim statement, swimmer,Brock Turner, Stanford University, rape culture, misogyny, campus rape

The scary thing is Brock Turner is not an anomaly. And it doesn’t matter what we do, how we dress, how much we do or don’t drink, we can all be the victim and this is what scares me the most. When are we going to teach our sons that it’s not okay to put their hands, fingers, mouths and dicks on women’s bodies without permission? When will our girls ever be able to feel safe to walk alone at night or have a vagina?

In case you don’t think rape is a serious crime that warrants more than a six-month inconvenience for the attacker, read the statement below from Brock Turner’s victim.

Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.

You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.

On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends. Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.

The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party. When I was finally allowed to use the restroom, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.

“You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.

I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened. My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.

After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.

On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs and I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.

My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark color from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.

My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][my sister]. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.

I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.

I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.

One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair disheveled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognize. This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.

“And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times.”

It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.

And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.

The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up.

The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know. He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.

Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.

I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful attorney, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.

I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.

“I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. “

When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His attorney constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.

Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his attorney saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right? This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:

How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’ d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside? Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What color was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.

I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.

And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.

So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.

He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.

According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.

Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.

Your attorney has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place. Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?

You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out. I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.

On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?

To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.

My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your attorney say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that. To listen to your attorney attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.

“This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident.”

He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.

You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty ­six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologize, we will both move on and get better. ​Then I read your statement.

If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook­up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.

You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.

Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal. Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.

You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.

I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.

You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.

Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenseless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.

You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my attorney and his way of approaching the case.

Your attorney is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your attorney say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.

You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”

Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognize consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.

Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first powerpoint slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.

Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.

A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken. Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrollment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.

See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All­ American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.

My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you. The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.

I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.

I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.

You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak. You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.

You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.

When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “[Her sister] said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me? Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.

You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.

Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.

Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.

My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public. He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.

I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time­out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.

Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity”. By definition rape is not the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.

The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.

As this is a first offence I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.

The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.

The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.

What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologized for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.

He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.

To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my grandma who snuck chocolate into the courtroom throughout this to give to me, my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me. Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.

Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.

And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.

After the victim’s statement went viral, Turner’s dad, Dan Turner, issued a statement defending his son, arguing his life will be “deeply altered” by the court’s verdict. I know this man is speaking out as a father but really, the callousness with which he disregards the consequences his son’s actions have had on his victim sickens me. He pretends that his son has done nothing wrong worth jail time and has no regard whatsoever for how his child has ruined this woman’s life.

“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” he wrote.

“His every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear and depression. Now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamt about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

Mr. Turner says his son, Brock Turner, should not be sent to jail.

“The fact that he now has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work, and how he will be able to interact people and organizations,” he wrote.

“What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock. He has no prior criminal history and has never been violence to anyone, including his actions on the night of January 17, 2015.”

Mr. Turner then suggested his son could become a role model for young people. I get that he is the kid’s dad but there comes a time when you need to support your child by loving them while at the same time making them understand that there are consequences to bad behavior and raping a woman is bad behavior. It is unforgivable behavior.

“Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society and is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity.”

“By having people like Brock educate others on college campuses is how society can begin to break the cycle of binge drinking and its unfortunate results. Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation and allows him to give back to society in a net positive way.”

It’s like this man doesn’t think his son has done anything really wrong. I know he’s a father who loves his son and love is blind, especially where our children are concerned but this man is in absolute denial.

What do you think is a fitting punishment for Brock Turner’s choice to rape a woman?

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parenting misconceptions, parenting, tweens, toddlers

Learning how to talk to your tween in a tone, patience and understanding that is required is truly a learned skill. Middle school is the worst! As a parent, it’s really easy to feel like you can’t talk to your tween about anything but I’m telling you how to talk to your tween about everything. Actually, that is probably the best advice ever. Just keep talking and listening. Don’t forget the listening bit especially when it feels awkward

I’m a pretty outgoing person. Classic ENFP. and I come from a big Catholic family so there’s not much you can throw at me that will knock me on my rear end but middle school did. Middle school pretty much FUBARed me. Yep. I said it. It did. Tween and teen chat is something I am still working on because now, the ante is upped.

It’s all that awkwardness mixed with gangliness and those hormones. When I was a tween and teen, I felt like I was living in someone else’s body and like someone or something had taken over my brain and not just mine but all of my friends. It was like from one day to the next, you never knew who you were going to be or who your friends were going to be. 

Things were changing at a dizzying pace. It’s no wonder that I was so angsty. I was spinning out of control and I could not get a handle on it. I was at the mercy of biology and if I remember correctly, biology had it out for me. Worse still, my parents had no handle on teen chat and no idea how to talk to their tween about anything. We all suffered in silence, except for my occasional hormonal rage outburst.

One day I was a little girl and the next day I was trying to hide the ever growing hair on my legs (that my dad refused to let me shave). It felt like it took years for my boobs to come in. I mean seriously all I needed until I was 15 was an undershirt. Of course, I wore a training bra in hopes they’d get the hint and start to grow. The only purpose it served was for Jason and Mike, my former best basketball buddies, to perfect their bra strap snapping technique. I was stuck in status breast buds for like 5 years. Then they came in like gangbusters overnight. I definitely didn’t peak until college. 

But I got my period the summer before 8th grade. It would have read like a Judy Blume book had it not have happened in a McDonald’s bathroom with no warning whatsoever! Wtf!!’

But here I am again… going through puberty. Well, not me exactly but there is definitely puberty happening in my house. The thing is, I don’t want the traumatic experience of middle school to be my legacy so we’ve been trying to ease into it.I’ve been talking to my girls about everything since they were toddlers.  The more you know and all that ish. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and I think preparation makes everything easier, so we read ahead and I try to teach my girls about whats coming their way before it actually descends upon them like it did me in the bathroom at McDonalds. 

How to talk to your tween about everything. The art of teen chat.

Aside from talking about everything.all the time. My husband teases me that my girls are going to start refusing to get in the car with me because it always seems like we have the most “teachable moments” in the car. You know, when they are trapped. For example, the other day, I was taking my 12-year-old to the doctor for a viral infection. This prompted her to ask me if I had missed my yearly gynecological appointment that she knew I had last week. Bingo, teen chat moment! Teachable moments for the win.

I explained that I had to cancel because I started my period and that would just be rude. Then, I gave her an impromptu explanation about what happens at a gynecological visit because it dawned on me that many women don’t like going. I figured if she knew what she’ll be in for, it would alleviate some of the stress when the time comes to go. I explained that they are doctors and it’s just another body part and it’s necessary to be proactive in our advocacy for our own health.

Which turned into the conversation about sex and that when the time comes that she is ready, I would hope that she comes to me so we can discuss it (without judgment) and she can be prepared and safe. I explained HPV and how most birth control only prevents pregnancy, you need condoms to prevent the spread of STDs. I went on to tell her that HPV is usually undiagnosed but can cause infertility so condoms should always be on hand.

I talk to my tween about everything because if I don’t someone else will.

Then that segued into a conversation about the different types of birth control that are available to women. I may or may not have told her about the time when the patch made my entire ass break out in a rash because I ( like she) am allergic to Band-Aids. I also, may or may not have told her how the Nuva Ring popped out because…cervical fluid and she may have died on the spot laughing. But that’s how we roll. The more you know. Teen chat is not so hard if you just be yourself, know your child and follow the cues.

Anyways, not everyone is as comfortable talking to their children about all of this so thank goodness there are so many tools to help parents these days. We use Amaze.org for the videos and love the American Girl books for written reference.

Here are some of our favorite American Girl books that we use at our house.

American Girl: The Care and Keeping of You 1 The Body Book for Younger Girls*

American Girl: The Care and Keeping of You 2 The Body Book for Older Girls*

American Girl: The Care and Keeping of Us A Sharing Collection for Girls and Their Moms

American Girl: Friends making them and Keeping them*

American Girl: Stand Up for yourself and your friends*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Worry*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Money*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Babysitting*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Manners*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Boys*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Drama, Rumors, & Secrets*

And for the first-time ever, American Girl is taking its expertise on puberty and adolescence and extending it to boys and their parents with a new title: Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys. If you have a son, this is the perfect book. Guy Stuff tackles everything boys need to know about their developing bodies and minds from healthy eating, bad breath and shaving to pubic changes, moodiness and expressing emotions.

Written by Dr. Cara Natterson, board-certified pediatrician, NY Times bestselling author of AG’s Care and Keeping of You series, and mom of 12-year-old son and 14-year-old girl, tackles every subject in a down-to-earth and approachable manner will help spark conversations between parents and their sons, including those most reluctant to talk about what they’re going through.

Now, I know this is a hard time to be a mom or dad to a child in the in-between years. Just remember, while you are trying to figure them out and this new stage of parenthood, they are trying to figure out this new stage of life, living in a new body with hormones and thoughts they never had before. It’s hard for everyone concerned but it doesn’t have to be horrible. It doesn’t have to be.
Through the generosity of American Girl, I am providing the * marked books in the Smart Girl’s Guide Series listed above and the new Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys to one lucky reader. It won’t completely eliminate the awkwardness we all feel in the tween years but it will definitely help make those conversations easier and make your tween feel more comfortable in their own skin by explaining some of what’s going on with them right now. Spoiler alert: It’s all normal. Enter below for your chance to win.

  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided some of the books in this series by American Girl to review but we already owned a few of them and all opinions about how to speak to your tween about everything are my own.

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