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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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8 Practical Ways to Redesign Your Life During a Pandemic

The past 9 months have felt like I’ve been stuck in one of the worst versions of Groundhog Day. Wake up. Change into my daytime pajamas. Don’t leave the house. Work from home. Assist in virtual learning. Do laundry. Sanitize. Sterilize. Do dishes. Cook. Try not to get CoVid. Look at the same 4 walls day in and day out. Repeat. I need change or I’m going to lose my mind.  I’ve been thinking of practical ways to redesign your life during a pandemic just to break up the monotony.

READ ALSO: I miss you most at 6 feet apart.

They say that the best way to predict your future is to create it. I’m a master of my own destiny kind of gal so, I’m down for changing my perspective and my situation. I’m also not fond of being told no. Sometimes you just need to take matters into your own hands, grab life by the reins and saddle up for change. Improving your physical and emotional well-being starts with taking action.

Instead of hoping that life will just get better, here are 8 practical ways to redesign your life during a pandemic.

  1. Work on your fitness routines

The Covid-19 pandemic has tied people down to their homes for most of 2020. It’s easy to sacrifice your fitness goals for the comfort of a sedentary lifestyle. I had to give up my Y membership because it wasn’t safe or pragmatic during a pandemic. Thankfully, there’s another option, simple at-home workouts. You’ll feel better and it will help you stay on top of your health and wellness. Lack the motivation to hit the gym? Why not try something new like cycling or roller skating? According to experts, exercise is healthy for your mental and physical health and all of us can use a little more mental and physical health.

  1. Revise your goals

Many people will agree that goals are instrumental when it comes to achieving success. A person who is not driven by goals may find it challenging to accomplish great things in life because they lack direction. Setting the wrong goals probably won’t lead you to your dreams either. While goals are meant to push you to achieve your dreams, you’ll need to change your goals as your dreams evolve. Therefore, reposition yourself according to the chain of circumstances surrounding your life at any given time. It’s better to focus on goals that will help you become a better version of yourself. Finally, understand the possible challenges that could mar the achievement of your goals and try to overcome them.

  1. Be focused

Smart people always stay focused. Obviously, this is easier said than done in the middle of the new normal. Set aside some time to center your focus; this is a crucial part of redesigning your life. Carefully consider the true desires of your heart and ensure that you are heading in the right direction. At any moment when you realize you are getting distracted, do what you can to stay on track. It starts with identifying your goals and using them as a guide. One thing that distracts you includes negative thoughts, and you should try as much as possible to eliminate them. You can dedicate about 30 minutes of your day trying to boost your focus by engaging in meditation and mindfulness to try and evict negativity.

  1. Learn to say no

External demands can sometimes conflict with your personal interest, but you have to be bold and stand by your sense of judgment. Learn to say no to things that don’t align with goals and aspirations. By paying attention and listening to your inner voice, you can make well-informed decisions and position yourself for success. Moving with the crowd is probably the last thing you want to do if you are on a mission to turn things around in your life. Although sometimes you may feel like you are out of touch with reality, it makes a lot of sense to follow your instincts.

  1. Revamp your beauty goals

Feeling pretty is one way to increase your confidence and redesign your life in that regard. Yes, I know that most of us are rarely leaving the house these days but I’ve got to say, getting dressed in real clothes and fixing my hair and makeup makes me feel more human, more put together and more confident just for me. Today, makeup can not only transform your features but also your state of mind.

  1. Re-evaluate your relationships

How happy are you with your current relationships? Are they motivating you to be better or otherwise? While certain relationships could push you to be a better version of yourself, others could stunt your growth and personal development. Therefore, you need to re-evaluate your circle to see whether it serves a meaningful purpose in your life. For example, if you are someone who is looking forward to settling down with your partner anytime soon, ensure that the feeling is mutual. Be fully prepared for the next chapter of your life. Divorce rates are increasing drastically. Recognizing the importance of relationships is one of the most practical ways to redesign your life during a pandemic.

  1. Take charge of your finances

They say money can’t buy happiness, but neither can the lack of it. At a time when millions of people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, re-examining your relationship with money is not a bad decision. With a solid financial standing, redesigning your life is much easier as you can buy what you need to live comfortably. Consider your monthly income and plan how to spend accordingly. Saving more and spending less is a smart financial strategy you may want to master, especially if you are a breadwinner. Invest like your life depends on it and set up an emergency fund to cater for unforeseeable circumstances such as the coronavirus pandemic. When you do that, you are designing your life for the best while preparing for the worst-case scenarios.

  1. Plan beforehand

Indeed, nobody knows tomorrow, but having a plan is a smart decision. Consider both best and worst-case scenarios and create a strategy for navigating it. For example, the coronavirus pandemic has heavily impacted the world’s tourism industry. And as avid travelers try to endure quarantine inconveniences, they can also plan their post-COVID trips. After all, there is a glimmer of hope that the coronavirus pandemic will soon be a thing of the past as top pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer are inching close to announcing a vaccine. All in all, one way to redesign your life is to stay one step ahead with a plan.

Generally, redesigning your life starts with getting your priorities straight and being consistent with your efforts. Don’t give up on yourself.

What tips would you add to these 8 practical ways to redesign your life during a pandemic?

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

Today’s guest on This Blogger’s Life is the delightfully funny and super stylish, Vera Sweeney of Lady and the Blog and Getting Gorgeous with BFF Audrey McClelland. Did I mention they also run the Permission to Hustle Group and the PTH Retreat?

I am fairly certain that the woman never sleeps. I’ve never met Vera but she is a powerhouse blogger who has been rocking the blogging world for nearly a decade. She takes her businesses seriously but she is a wickedly funny, lighthearted lady with a great sense a humor. I’ve learned that just from watching her youtube channel.

The more I learned about Vera through the interview the more impressed I was not only by how she’s built her business but her dedication to her family. Finding the balance between family and career is something I struggle with and I love seeing moms who figure out that happy medium. Go Vera! I truly loved getting to know Vera Sweeney through her interview and I know you will too.

This Blogger’s Life…Vera Sweeney

vera sweeney, lady and the blog, This Blogger's Life, the people behind the blog, Getting Gorgeous

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging in 2005 after the birth of my first child. Blogging became a way for me to reconnect with the world during my daughter’s naptimes. It was my little escape from isolation.

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

Don’t expect to break through and hit 6 figures in your first month. I feel like that is the new wave of thinking these days. People assume that if they start a blog they will immediately earn some sort of revenue. It took me several years before I received my first paycheck.

Start because you have a passion to write or to connect – not because you are looking for a “get rich quick” scheme.

What are the three words that describe you best?

Type A, Semi-Manic, Hilarious (what? too much?)

What is your favorite website?

That’s a hard one! I don’t know. I’m going to go with Pinterest since that’s where I spend the vast majority of my day.

READ ALSO:  This Blogger’s Life, Ree Drummond

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

I would say traveling with my family. But honestly, when I travel I usually end up blogging about the adventure. So, I guess that’s not the greatest answer. Anything is fair game because I write a lifestyle blog. If I watch a movie, take a pottery class, or spend the entire day napping in my backyard, then I can mold each and every one of those experiences into a potential post.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

I am a workaholic and that’s not a bad thing. I used to wear that word with shame – especially when my children were younger. I have learned through time that it is simply who I am and that doesn’t make me a terrible person. I enjoy putting in the effort and the long hours. Some people can’t understand this about me. They see a work-from-home mom of three and they expect a different type of person when they meet me. I’ve stopped worrying about them.

How do you balance life and blogging? How has blogging changed you or your life?

Life is blogging. Everything I do is content for my blog. I’m really lucky in that sense. If I cook a great meal for dinner (AS RARE AS THAT IS), I take pictures as I go and then I post it the very next day. It’s just part of our lives.

I truly believe blogging has made my life 100% better. My husband quit his job in 2007 and has stayed at home ever since. He manages our 4 websites and takes on the kids when I am away. We have been a true partnership for many, many years.

My children get to see their dad 24 hours a day. Not many families are lucky enough to have this set up and I never let that escape me. I am always grateful for our lives. I am so thankful that he is home with us and that wouldn’t be our reality if it wasn’t for blogging.

READ ALSO: This Blogger’s Life, Jill Smokler

What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

Honesty. A real voice. No filter. And excuse me, I don’t mean Instagram filters because I use a million of those. I mean giving your readers a TRUE LOOK into your life.  Get rid of the pixie dust. I think people have moved beyond that and are ready for a dose of reality. People want something that they can relate to. Everyone is looking to connect. Be that friend.

A great blog vs. a successful blog? I don’t know. That’s a hard question for me. Money comes to mind when I formulate my answer but I know plenty of successful fashion bloggers in NYC that aren’t making a lot of money. They have a ton of klout during fashion week though. It depends what the end user wants. I think this is a really personal question. Each blogger needs to define this one on their own.

If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

There are two things that I still have to do before my time is upon this Earth. I have to write a book. I started one already and I will leave it at that. It’s completely unrelated to this field just in case you thought I was going to go there.

The other dream I have is to open up a little shop in town. I have always wanted to do something like that but I know that it will require a lot of time and I don’t want to give that up while my children are so young. So, I think the latter will happen when all my babies are in college.

How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life?

I’m an only child. This is actually really easy for me.

Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days?

When I first started blogging in 2005, there were maybe 15 celebrity gossip bloggers. Imnotobsessed.com used to get around 7 million impressions a month. We were ROCKING big time and I loved every second of it. Now, everyone has a blog and I mean everyone. My mother, my daughter and the crossing guard at our school – everyone has a blog. So, the playing field is absolutely saturated which means it isn’t as easy to hit those numbers. I have to work a lot harder to get noticed by brands. I miss being one of the only few doing it. Is that so selfish of me to say?! I told you I am an only child! HA! My celebrity gossip site gets about half the amount of traffic it used to… so you can see where I am coming from!

What do you love that has changed?

I love how big the community has grown. It’s sort of the double-sided coin if you read my previous answer. I have met SO MANY PEOPLE that I would have never known. TRULY! My favorite part of my job is meeting other bloggers. In fact, I met my best friend through blogging – Audrey McClelland from Mom Generations.

How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

I live a full life. I lived in NYC up until 7 years ago when we moved to Long Island. We are constantly going into the city to watch new shows, attend previews, parades, try out new restaurants or walk through festivals. We also travel a LOT. Live a rich life and then document it.

If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?

Honestly – I’m not the best person for this question. I’m just not that deep. It’s somewhere between Jensen Ackles and Matthew McConaughey. You don’t want me to fill up this table. It would be obnoxious.

What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I believe in the zombie apocalypse.

What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

Hmmm… good one.  I wrote this one about my baby boy and it got some traction. I guess if I had to pick… https://www.ladyandtheblog.com/2014/04/28/41-reasons-why-you-should-have-that-last-baby/

Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Vera. I know you are super busy but I loved getting to know you better through this interview. Keep rocking the blogging world!

READ ALSO: How Blogging Changed My Life

If you’d like to know more about Vera Sweeney check out her blogs ( listed and linked above) and Facebook!

 

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mom blogger, bloggers, mommy bloggers, over sharing, moms, GOMI, Instagram

I read a post by my friend Jessica, referencing a post by GOMI and the dastardly state of mom bloggers. The story goes a little something like this, mommy blogger pauses to take and Instagram a photo from the ER where her toddler is being held down by his father so that said toddler’s head could be stitched up. I am usually inclined to agree with Jessica on many topics, GOMI not so much.

However, when I first read this, I agreed with Jessica and GOMI. I really did and then I took a moment and thought about it; really thought about it. We don’t live in the world we grew up in. We live in a digital world and everyone over shares. TMI and inappropriate shares are the norm. For Pete’s sake, the Pope has a Twitter account. Women live tweet their births. Nothing is sacred any more. It’s just the way it is.

I understand the whole argument that she should have been spending the time holding her son’s hand instead of taking and editing a photo. I can see that it looks, from the outside, like it’s all very calculated and callous and maybe it was. I just know that many bloggers have been guilty of exercising impropriety in inappropriate times. Is it for traffic? Or is it force of habit? Bad judgment? Or maybe it’s the only way they know how to document their lives? At first read, it felt like this mom blogger should have put down the phone and held her son’s hand.

Then I remembered that I am the same person who left the obstetrician’s office after being told that my baby had no heartbeat and in the midst of my heart breaking pain and through my own primal cries, I wrote it out. I felt like a trapped animal and I needed to purge myself of the pain, to make sense of it and I wrote it all down. I had 15 minutes before I needed to pick up my 4-year-old from preschool. I had to get my shit together. I needed to process the emotions. I needed to get a hold of my own breakdown. I know that to anyone who doesn’t blog, that probably seemed like an odd thing to do.

At the time I was blogging daily and I knew that this miscarriage was going to fuck me up mentally and it did. I knew I couldn’t skim over it or hide it from my regular readers or the people in my every day life. I hadn’t even told family yet but this wasn’t something that I could keep a secret from them for the rest of my life. I couldn’t write authentically and transparently while hiding a major life event. I couldn’t move through my real life keeping something like this from my friends and family. That night, I texted my family and told them what had happened but asked them to please not call me. I was too fragile to speak or even hear the sadness or pity in their voices.

The next morning before I left to the hospital for my D & E, I scheduled that note from my phone to go live. There was no thought or editing that went into it. It was a purge. I needed two things; to process and to purge. My world was collapsing around me and my first thought was to write it down and get it out.

What I didn’t do was share the last photo of my baby; the ultrasound taken at the request of my 4-year-old so that she had a photo of “her baby”. No, I never even considered sharing it because that is private. That is just for my family. That is one of my most precious possessions and it’s not for sell. Just as I am sure there are things that the mom blogger in question does not share. But everyone’s line in the sand is different.

Maybe for that blogger, she took the photo and Instagramed out of habit. Maybe she has become so accustomed to documenting every moment of her life via social media and her blog that it was the most natural thing to do. We are creatures of habit and there is comfort and reassurance in routine. In the moments of life when we are terrified, we go on autopilot.Would it have been okay had she written about it but not taken the photo? Would it have been fine if she tweeted about how scared she was instead of snapped a photo on her phone? Who decides? Why is one way acceptable and the other not? How are we supposed to blog like no one is reading when everyone is judging? I won’t judge this mom because no one knows why she did what she did and quite frankly, who are we to judge?

Do you think everything bloggers do is for traffic or is there a genuine compulsory desire to share their lives?

Why do you think bloggers share and over share their lives?

 

Image via Flickr/ Tom & Katrien

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Happy New Year, New Year Resolutions, Easy Resolutions, Celebrate 2020

Every year at this time, I feel a wave of panic wash over me as an urgent impending need to accomplish all of the goals I set for myself last New Year’s eve. Every new year is a new opportunity for a new beginning or in some cases, another year to disappoint myself and feel like a failure but not this year. This year is the year of easy New Year resolutions to help you live your best life or as I like to call it, Wednesday.

For the first time in my adult life, here we are on the dawn of a new day, new year, new decade and I feel no regrets. I feel no sense of urgency to rush to change because I’ve spent the last few months focusing on reaching my goals (well, a set of goals). Today, tomorrow and the next day after that are just another day because that’s how I’m choosing to see them. Every day is just another day but it’s also the opportunity for a fresh start. Every single day. 365 days a year.

What is a New Year’s resolution anyways?

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.

All of this is based on the premise that we find fault and imperfection in ourselves. We do. I can honestly say, I don’t know (nor have I ever known) a single grown woman who is 100% happy with her body or herself. It’s a sad statistic. I used to think it was just me but this year, I realized my unhappiness with myself stemmed not from imperfection but from the state of being fallible and doing nothing to better myself. I only feel like a failure when I’m not trying. As I believe there is no try only do, I feel like a failure when I’m not doing things to bring me closer to who I want to be.

READ ALSO: Resolving to Incite a Revolution

This year, when I was thinking of my word of the year and making my vision board (because goals without words are nothing but wishes) I decided that my main goal for 2020 is to live a life with purpose and intention. I want to find the courage and strength to pursue peace and success. I want to be able to confidently walk away from things and people who don’t work anymore with no regrets. I want to be okay with choosing me, no guilt attached.

These are more like habits I’m trying to grow than resolutions but for the purpose of the New Year, let’s call them New Year resolutions. Here are a few good choices to get you to a better life and your best self.

Easy New Year Resolutions to help you Live Your Best Life

Purge

Don’t Marie Kondo your house. That will only make a bigger mess. But clutter and mess cause a stressed mind and body. Take a deep breath, break big projects into smaller (more digestible) projects. If something no longer has a purpose in your life, get rid of it.

READ ALSO: Is the Marie Kondo Method for You?

Organization

It’s crazy how organization can give peace. A peace that you didn’t even know that you needed. Things need a place so that you can easily access them when you need them but don’t trip over them and frustrate yourself when you don’t. It’s that simple. I don’t know about you but piles of unfolded laundry make me nervous. Things without a place, just hanging out, stress me out. I don’t want to give those things space in my head in 2020. I want them to fade into the background so I can focus more clearly on the people and things that are important.

Be Intentional

Many of us live our lives unintentionally. We get swept up in what’s going on at the moment and we mindlessly move through the world. I know I do. My life, especially after having kids, became a series of putting out fires while I tried to keep my life on track. It doesn’t work. Distracted living isn’t living at all. It’s getting by and I (you) deserve more than just getting by. I pause and ask myself, is it worth it? The hard work, the loss, the gain, the calories, the time, the space? Is it worth it to me? If it’s not, I’m passing it up and walking away. Priorities matter.

Let it go

This is a hard one for me. I’m a hoarder at heart. I grew up with not a lot and it’s hard for me to get rid of things that are still in good condition, which includes people. I try to repurpose and find occasion. The result is a house full of clutter and a life full of stuff that I don’t need or worse, don’t serve a purpose. Sometimes the only purpose a thing needs to serve is joy. If it brings you happiness, it has a purpose. It doesn’t have to make sense. But if it doesn’t have any purpose, let it go. You don’t have to throw it out. I’m big on not being wasteful but pass it on. Donate it to someone who can use it. Let it serve its purpose and lighten your own load. Don’t think of it as gone, think of it as getting a second chance at a new life.

Move Your Body

I ignored this one for so many years. I have a bit of an addictive personality. I go all in or not at all. Or at least I used to. I’m trying to learn moderation and forgiveness for others and for myself. I know that saying that you’re going to start working out can feel overwhelming, especially as busy as we all are these days. And saying that you’re going to lose 20 pounds can feel daunting and burdensome, maybe even insurmountable. Then we just say bump it and give up. Well, that’s what I did, many times for many years.

READ ALSO: How I Reversed My Diabetes in 3 months.

I was either starving myself and obsessively working out or I was sitting on the couch, mindlessly snacking and binge-watching Netflix. There has to be a middle ground. Start with small goals. A 15-minute walk at lunch. Take the stairs. Drink your 64 ounces of water. Take your vitamins. One tiny goal at a time will put you on the path to where you want to be. Do not give yourself a deadline to get healthy because it’s a journey and a lifestyle not a destination. If you miss a day or eat the pizza/chocolate/cocktail so what? It’s ok. It’s just one day. As long as it’s the treat and not the norm, you’re fine. Move along.

Travel

The most important thing we can do for ourselves is to travel. It’s something that I’ve done since I was a child. My parents did it for us because we didn’t live by our grandparents and, in fact, my dad’s parents lived in another country. It was the best gift they could have ever given us. It made us compassionate, tolerant, inquisitive and instilled into our very soul, wanderlust. It was the catalyst for me to learn 4 languages. My greatest joy is sharing travel with my husband and our girls. Seeing the world through their eyes is priceless. Travel is worth more than any “thing” money can buy.

Read More

Remember those priorities I was referring to earlier? I’ve let reading fall off my list time and time again, and I love to read. I am a bibliophile at heart. But at the end of the day, it’s a luxury I can’t afford. But can’t I? I spend hours a day on social media? Why can’t I reclaim an hour a day back for reading and self-reflection? I can. You can too. Reading is knowledge and wisdom and can we really afford to stop learning in a world that is constantly changing? No. Reading helps us to better ourselves and build our brain muscles. It helps us to have more varied vocabularies and to become better versions of ourselves through understanding and knowledge. The question is, can we afford not to read?

Do it scared

Stop waiting for the perfect conditions. If you want to try something, do something new or change your direction in life, just do it. Of course, you’re scared. Anything worth doing will be scary at first. But as you shift onto your new path, you will get comfortable. Put your goals into the universe and follow it up with actions. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you and will support you when you try new things. Do it scared and you will achieve your dreams but don’t try at all and nothing will change.

Relax

It’s so much easier said than done. I’ve always been a bit hyper and manic. I stress a lot. It’s my state of being if we’re being honest. Or it was. Even when I’m sitting still, my brain is flexing in so many different directions. My brain likes to show off and do 23 hours a day squats. Do you know what that makes me? Tired. Downright exhausted and when you’re exhausted you get frustrated and you might be doing squats but you’re half-assing them and the effects are not what you want. Eventually, you and your lopsided ass just give up. So stop. Stop what you’re doing and breathe. Relax. Meditate. Reset. Refuel your soul. Restart.

Make time for “Me” Time

Me time might not always look like a massage and facial. Sometimes “me” time is driving to the grocery store for formula at 11 p.m by yourself with the windows down, blasting Pitbull and singing at the top of your lungs. Me time is about doing what you want, what you need to reboot. Especially as moms, we give out pieces of ourselves all day long until there is nothing left for us. There has to be something left for you. If there is no you, there is nothing for you to give to others. I’m not talking about living to serve others, I’m talking about being alive enough to share your own special gifts. We are all special and worth it. We all bring something unique to the world. We are all here for a purpose. You might be everything to someone but you first need to be everything to you. Put you first in whatever tiny or big way you need to. Don’t fade into the background of your own life.

Don’t care what others think

I’ve never really struggled with this one, at least not outwardly. I come from a big family and it serves you best not to worry about what other’s opinions are of you unless you want to be a useless puddle of snot and tears on the floor. I do struggle with measuring myself up to other’s success but I am working on that. But as far as other people’s opinions (other than my parents and my children), they mean little to nothing to me.

READ ALSO: The Moment I stopped Caring what Other People Thought of me

Life is too short to live by someone else’s expectations and rules. You do you and I’ll do me. As long as were not hurting one another, we’re all good. My fashion choices, religious or political beliefs, parenting philosophy and the way I choose to spend my money should have no bearing on anyone else’s life and vice versa. So I wear the bikini, I am tolerant of everyone, I support my friends and family in their pursuit of happiness even if it’s not mine and dance like no one is watching, and even if they are, I don’t care. I’ll invite you to dance with me. Live in the moments because this is the life that you will look back on. Live it on your terms and be happy.

Forgiveness

This is the big one. Practice forgiveness of others and most importantly of yourself. It will be the best thing you ever do for you and your mental health. Love others and yourself for all that you are not for who you think you should be or want to be in a year. Love yourself and others for who they are right now, in this moment.

Wishing you all a very happy new year filled with lots of love, laughter, good health, fruitful endeavors, happiness, and travel. Forgive yourself often. Be patient with yourself and pursue your dreams; life’s too short not to.

Me, I’ll be pursuing some dreams, making some changes and sharing some truth we can all relate to on here ( 3-5 times a week; stay tuned.)  You can subscribe to get your weekly newsletter and everything in one place, directly to your inbox. Never miss a thing.

Please come back and follow along.  On InstaStories ( for my daily #journeytome),  TikTok for some silly, Twitter for some conversation, Facebook for great parenting information and conversation and Pinterest for all the beautiful things.

 

 

 

 

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

This week’s guest on This Blogger’s Life is Tracy Morrison @SellabitMum is the founder of the always entertaining website Sellabitmum.

Tracy is one of my favorite bloggers to read because she is always open and frequently hilarious. She has a way with words that can touch your heart and pee your pants with laughter, sometimes in the same post. We finally met in person last summer and if you want to know the truth, she is exactly who you’d expect her to be from reading her blog and that is very refreshing.

I am honored to know Tracy Morrison and proud to have her as my guest on This Blogger’s Life today. So, without further ado…

This Blogger’s Life, Tracy Morrison

Tracy Morrison, Sellabitmum, @Sellabitmum, This Blogger's Life, blogging,bloggers

Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging after my last(fourth) miscarriage over 6 years ago. I was reading many blogs and decided to journal my own experiences. However – I ended up not even talking about my losses, but instead telling funny stories about my family.
What’s one piece of advice for new bloggers?
Your story is important. Don’t think that everything has already been written. It hasn’t. Your story is yours and thus unique. Be authentic.
 
What are the three words that describe you best? 
True. Quiet. Kind.
 
What is your favorite website? 
Um, anywhere I can shop. Does that count? I mean I love blogs, but if I’m online I’m typically shopping….
 
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?
Running, shopping, or hanging out with my family. I run a lot as I’m typically training for a marathon or two.
 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging? 
That it’s okay to be me and opportunities come before you work hard and you are true to yourself.
 
How do you balance life and blogging? Ha! Is this a trick question?
I never want blogging to overshadow my life, but I want my life to be documented by my blogging. I want to live to the fullest – and write that down when I have time. If I find I’m telling my kids “Just give me a minute” – than my priorities are wrong.
 
How has blogging changed you or your life?
It’s opened a huge pot of love and friendship. The connections I’ve made through blogging with amazing women cannot be measured. It’s true love. And it’s made me a better writer.
 
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same? 
I think each blogger needs to decide what success means for them – or even if they want success. Do they want to make money? Do they want to turn their blogging into a job? Do they just want a journal? Do they want to improve their writing? I think your blog is a success if it’s what you want it to be.
 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?
I think all bloggers think about this. I think I would train(run) more and maybe take some classes – do something for myself – as writing is a huge outlet for me – so I would need something positive to replace that.
 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 
I think that’s the beautiful part of writing and blogging – as it is memoir – and memoir is what you remember – and may not match up with what someone else did who had that same experience with you. I can tell my side of my story. It’s still my story.
 
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed? 
It’s so big now – and that can be overwhelming. It’s easy to feel smaller as a piece of this huge pie. But I love the opportunities and connections that have come from this space.
 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content? 
Life. Live life and observe and remember the details. There’s a good story in just buying a pair of socks. True story!
 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?
Oh wow – Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, President Obama, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Pope, And Boy George
 
What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? 
I majored in engineering in college. I’m a nerd.
 
What’s the one post that you are most proud of?
Probably my post about my marriage and being vulnerable, as it was a hard one – admitting faults on both sides. I don’t often share about my husband and our relationship – but it was raw and personal and felt good to just get out there. 
Tracy Morrison, Sellabitmum, @Sellabitmum, This Blogger's Life, blogging,bloggers
Tracy, thank you for being my guest today on This Blogger’s Life. You make me smile daily and I can’t wait to hug your neck today at the fashion show! XOXO

If you want to read more of Tracy Morrison, check her out on Facebook and Google+.

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview
Today, I am honored to welcome my dear friend, Lori Garcia aka MommyFriend to This Blogger’s Life. Lori is a very talented writer with an always half-full personality and an infectious smile that shines through in her pieces. She is the woman who walks into a room and instantly brightens it up and her writing makes the Internet a better place.
When I first “met” Lori, we were both newbie bloggers who were just trying to figure all of this out. We knew we loved to write and blogging allowed us connections and community at a time in motherhood when we were craving friendships and connections like the air we breathed. Lori is and has always been the kind of person who every woman needs as a friend; she is kind, genuine and sincerely a good person who loves her family and looks for the good in life. We need more people, more writers, more friends like Lori.
Lori is also known as MommyFriend and it suits her perfectly because she is truly a mommy friend that every single one of us needs in life. Her passion for the stories that she tells coupled with her optimistic perspective, always leaves me wanting more. The one thing that always radiates from Lori’s articles is humanity. She tells her truth with wild abandon and unrestrained honesty.
Lori can write about anything and make it interesting but my favorite stories that she shares are her love stories for her family; her boys. The pride and love that she has for her family inspires me to be a better wife and mother. She is one of the kindest and most tenacious women I know and it makes me so happy to see her enjoying such amazing success as a writer, all over the internet.
I’m honored to call Lori my friend and it’s my privilege to have her on This Blogger’s Life today.

Lori Garcia, MommyFriend, This Blogger's Life, the people behind the blogs, blogging

This Blogger’s Life…Lori Garcia (MommyFriend)

 

Why did you start blogging? I always loved writing and after working in an uncreative field for a decade, I decided it was time to scratch that creative itch and begin sharing my stories.  



What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger? Decide what you’re willing to share and not share for the almighty dollar. It’s easier to make these important decisions and stick to them long before a financial carrot is dangled in front of you. If you’re unclear about where to draw the line when it comes to public consumption, spend some time thinking about it. What you don’t want to do is learn the hard way. Ask me how I know.


 
What are the three words that describe you best? Loyal, kind, dependable.


 
What is your favorite website? Ever? www.amazon.com. Come to Mama.


 
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging? Binge watch formerly popular TV shows. I just finished Gossip Girl because I’m 37 years old and that’s totally normal behavior.


 
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself  from blogging? Not only learning, but learning and believing that I’m not alone in motherhood has been huge for me. My stories help mothers and their stories help me. I feel bigger and bolder as a mother for blogging.


 
How do you balance life and blogging? Honestly, not very well. The two are so intertwined, making a distinction is nearly impossible for me.


 
How has blogging changed you or your life? Blogging gave me confidence in the value of my voice, which has translated to so many aspects of my life. From my career to my relationships, blogging has made me the woman, wife, and mother I am today.


 
What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same? I think a successful blog and a great blog eventually become one in the same. Great content almost always rises to the top because we’re all hungry for it. 

 
 
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life? First, completely remove myself from the grid. Imagine all the time I’d have! Of course, that would probably only last a week or so because I’m a social being and I’d miss everyone too much, but for that week – man, that would be glorious. I don’t know what I;d do. I’m really into home renovation with my husband, so probably more of that.


 
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? This is a tough one. My tween son established blogging rules for me to blog by…what does that tell you?


 
Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days? What do you love that has changed? I think I miss the excitement I felt before every publish. Will people read this? Will they like it? Will they comment? I love witnessing the climb of so many remarkable blogger friends who have made a respectable career in this industry. I love witnessing success. Love it.


 
How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content? The blogger’s mind is a funny thing. In time, it comes a bit of a machine, finding blog fodder in every aspect of life. From what we read to what we experience, what we overhear to what we desire, relevant, shareable is everywhere.


 
If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite? Ooo, Jesus, my Grandpa Charlie (most awesome man ever), Brandon Flowers (because yum), my husband (because double yum), Bob Villa (I have some home improvement questions), and Elton John.


 
What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? Gosh, I don’t know. I’m pretty much what you’d expect, there’s not a lot of dark corners or secret passageways with me. Maybe that I’m a yell-y mom? I yell a lot. I do.


 
What’s the one post that you are most proud of? Probably this one. https://www.babble.com/mom/an-open-letter-to-my-gynecologist/

 

Thank you Lori for letting me interview you on This Blogger’s Life and thank you for always being such an amazing friend and inspiring writer.
XOXO

If you can’t get enough of Lori Garcia, check her out on MommyFriend, Babble and Twitter too!

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

Today, I am honored to welcome a woman who needs no introduction and is a force to be reckoned with in the blogging community, Cecily Kellogg to This Blogger’s Life.

I have “known” Cecily for a few years now but finally had the pleasure of meeting her last year at BlogHer. When I met her I found her to be more beautiful in person than she appears online ( that sounds wrong but what I mean is that she is such a vibrant woman and I don’t feel that comes across fully online) and she is one of the kindest and most down to earth people I’ve ever met. She greeted me with a hug and felt like an old friend almost immediately.

I’ve always enjoyed reading UpperCase Woman for the transparency of her words and she’s always writing about what’s new and changing on the Internet.  Cecily is a kind soul whose words have weight. She is a doer in the world. She sees something wrong, she puts her back into it and she tries to make a difference. I love that about her.

Cecily is truly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook. She looks hardcore like she could kick your ass ( and she probably could if you got on her bad side) but I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone nicer.

I’m honored to call Cecily Kellogg my friend and it’s my privilege to have her on This Blogger’s Life today.

This Blogger’s Life…Cecily Kellogg

Cecily Kellogg, UpperCase Woman, DoubleGood Media, This Blogger's Life, the people behind the blogs, blogging

Why did you start blogging?

 

In 2003 I was desperately trying to get pregnant and couldn’t. Someone on a fertility message board

linked to a handful of blogs and I finally found my tribe. I devoured those blogs and the blogs they all

linked to, and by March of 2004 I started blogging myself.

 

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

 

Don’t blog about deeply personal things if you’re a sensitive person. I’m sensitive – even hypersensitive

– and my own psychological makeup means I don’t have many tools for creating barriers between what

people say about me and how I react to them, although I am working on it (part of this is also because I’m

an alcoholic; we tend to take everything very personally).

 

What are the three words that describe you best?

 

Loud, funny, and sensitive.

 

What is your favorite website?

 

Oh god, just one? I couldn’t possibly begin to narrow that down. I mean, I live online. It’s like asking

someone what their favorite song is. From what decade? In what genre? I utilize so many for my life and

work I can’t imagine picking one. They are all just tools for doing what I do.

 

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

 

Cuddling with my daughter, or hiking.

 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

 

That I am a great writer.

 

How do you balance life and blogging?

 

I actually just read a really good article about this idea of balance that we’re constantly told to strive for.

I no longer believe in balance. I just do what needs doing and try to make sure I take time to eat well,

exercise, and be with my family – but sometimes that has to all go by the wayside to get the work done I

need to do to support my family.

 

How has blogging changed you or your life?

 

Everything in my life today is because of blogging. While I do have some good hardcore pre-internet

friends in my life, and some great connections with my daughter’s school families, most of my closest

friends are people I’ve met through blogging. It also completely changed my career – not always in the

best ways – and now I run a boutique content marketing agency that serves a very particular niche. While

I’ve struggled as a personal blogger – I recently closed comments on posts because of the chronic abuse

I received from a group of folks – it’s like breathing for me. I can’t imagine life without it.

 

What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

 

In the decade I’ve been blogging, that has changed so much. I think a great blog requires all of the

following: excellent writing, great story telling, and a beautiful and user friendly responsive design. It

doesn’t matter what niche the blog falls in, if it has those components it can be a great blog. The blogs I

read the most, however, are either industry blogs about tech/content/social media or are the old-school

blogs written in memoir style that share way too much information and make me fall in love with the story.

 

If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

 

I’ve thought about this so much, and in fact, have set up my life so that I can walk away from blogging if I

need to do so. I’d continue working in online content, just from a business perspective instead of personal

one (which is about 80% of the work I do already). I’d probably expand deeper into marketing work as

well. And I’d finally write that damn book.

 

How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life?

 

Ah, the big question. I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes other people don’t want to star in your

story. It’s an awkward dance, of course, because my family is part of my story daily. For instance, I often

write about my father abandoning me as a baby because it has impacted my life in so many ways, but it

can be hard for my siblings to hear how I feel about him. I’ve taken posts down at their request. But the

biggest change, of course, is that my daughter is now eight and reads my blog now and then and I need

to bear that in mind when I write about her. She approves every post where I speak only about her, and

any photos I post of her. Eventually, I imagine, I won’t be able to write about her at all, and that’s okay.

I’m not a mommy blogger anyway.

 

Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in

the early days? What do you love that has changed?

 

Blogging wasn’t competitive in the early days. It was, really and truly, about community and supporting

each other. But even so, it was plagued with personalities. I had a huge falling out with another infertility

blogger after I lost my twins around early 2005, and it was rough and divided our community for a while.

While today the competitiveness is mostly around the “fame” and the money, it was there even back then.

I will say that in general the level of vitriol on the web has gotten so, so much worse. That’s the worst

thing by far. Blogging is rather terrifying now; I’ve been threatened with everything from violent rape to

being reported to children’s services and more. Without careful monitoring of what I view online, I would

see non-stop messages about how awful I am. It’s fucking exhausting.

However, the good part is still the community. I have gotten to know so many amazing people through

blogging. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

 

How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

 

Well, I obviously find myself fascinating as that is what I generally write about. But I also write about

elements of politics and culture too.

 

If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?

 

Honestly? I could list amazing historical figures I’d love to meet, but I’d really rather just have a dinner

party with my “sister wives”, or my closest girlfriends.

 

What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

 

I’m not tough, not even a little. Also, I’m very short and I’m much fatter than I look in my gorgeous avatar

photos.

 

What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

 

This one: https://uppercasewoman.com/2007/04/19/health_vs_life_/

 

Cecily, I know that you are super busy and I really appreciate you taking the time to let me interview you. Thank you for sharing your stories, no holds barred. It was my pleasure to have you on This Blogger’s Life.  xoxo

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How to exude confidence and be a priority in your own life.The following post was written over a year ago, when I needed a little self confidence boost and reminder to be a priority in my own life and all my relationships. I dug it out to remind myself how it feels to have confidence in your body, health, relationships and love. I think many of us can use this post to lift us up and remind us of who we are, even when we don’t feel like it.

Bringing the Feisty Broad back

I am a Mommy, first and foremost. It’s a fact of my life. I love it. I chose it. This is not something that I got trapped into, this was something that I intentionally chose, in fact, it was one of my loftiest aspirations. I used to be a daughter and sister, then a wife, then a Mommy. Somewhere in there, for a brief fleeting moment, I got to be “Debi”. I remember that girl, I liked her. She was a lot like me but had absolutely no real ramifications for her behavior. Awww, sweet freedom. I do miss you. It was awesome. It was pre filter on the mouth and brain for child security reasons, yet, post the imposed filter of my personal freedoms by my Father.It was wonderful; it was euphoric. I was selfish, care free, and completely oblivious to the wants and needs of others. I know it sounds perfectly awful. I always did exactly what “I” wanted to do, with no care or concern for anyone else. I know it sounds terribly vain and narcissistic, perhaps it was, but it was fabulous..for that time in my life…all 15 minutes of it. I was the priority. These days, I am “Mommy”, “Honey”, “Mama” ,”You”, “Mother”, “Mrs. Big Guy” ( now, Truthful Mommy) but hardly anyone ever calls me “Debi” anymore.I feel as if I have disappeared figuratively and literally. But for someone who is invisible, I certainly do stay busy. How can this be? It is absolutely mind boggling to me but I am fairly certain that I am not alone in this situation. Can I get an amen from my Mommies out there? I KNOW you know what I’m talking about.

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self esteem, confidence, priority

Photo courtesy of the internet

 

I go through life, these days, busier than ever before yet feeling like I really never accomplish anything in my days. Every night, I am thoroughly exhausted ( believe me..just ask the Big Guy)but usually I can’t sleep.Every morning, I am still so tired because I was up the previous night until 2 am thinking of all the “Stuff” I have to do the next day. No fair, right? Last year ( 2 years ago now), I made a conscious decision that 2009 was going to be the year of “Debi”. I had my mind made up, I was planning to plan to revive that feisty broad.It’s pretty bad when you are telling your husband something about yourself before he met you and he is looking at you like you are full of shit because the “you” he knows, would never do something like that.I was determined, I was making a comeback in my own life. That was my plan! Then, real life and minutia got in my way. So, around September ( my birthday to be exact) I put my foot down and started getting to it…for like the 100th time since I had realized that I wanted to change some things.

This time it was different though. This time, I made real efforts. I joined Weight Watchers ( yes, to my initial utter embarrassment. I had so convinced myself that I was not “that” fat but I was, in fact, “that” fat and let me tell you..admitting it was the first real step towards fixing it !) , I started walking and working out and making a genuine effort..and didn’t quit or make up excuses after I got bored with it. This time I approached it like an adult. I also joined some Mom’s groups that stress being a woman and not just a “Mommy”, I made new friends ( I had to we had just moved half way across the country from absolutely everyone we knew), I got a babysitter ( a first for my children aside from the very occasional grandparent) and I forced myself to go out without my children. At my husbands insistence, I even made it out to a few MNO! Life was turning around. People were calling me “Deborah” , granted it wasn’t Debi but hey, a more adult version of myself is a good thing, right? Then the holiday’s hit. We traveled and it was one thing after another. So, here we are at the beginning of 2010 ( 2011 now). I am still forging on to revive myself. I am the priority in my life now, well…I am one of the top 3, for sure. I am a work in progress, but that is ok. As long as I am on my own to do list, there is hope for “Debi”

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self confidence, woman, self esteem, priority

Photo courtest of Google image

My point being, with a little real concerted effort, I am 25 lbs. smaller than I was in September, I have made some wonderful new friends, and I am feeling more like the starring role in my own Cinderella story versus the cat that belonged to the ugly stepsisters. I feel like by getting back to “Debi” and introducing that intelligent,beautiful, healthy, cultured, well read, strong woman to my girls that I am not only regaining my independence, my very existence… I am showing them ,by living example, that they are important and vital to their own life story.That no matter who they are, what they think, what they look like, what they choose to be or do in their lives, they must be present and they must be content with the versions of themselves who are present because they are imperative to their own happiness and nothing is more important than feeling like you matter and being fulfilled with who you are in your own life. Who I am is a direct reflection on who my daughters will someday become. I want them to know they can have the world and that they deserve it all and so does Mommy. I want to teach them how to exude confidence and be a priority in their own life. I want to have it all and I want them to know they can too. The paddles are out, Clear…..

Obviously, life derailed me again with yet another move and the whole commuter arrangement but this piece reminds me of two things one; I am SO WORTH the EFFORT and two; I am NOT a QUITTER. I persist and I work hard and then I conquer. I am woman hear me roar. How do you exude confidence and stay a priority in your own life?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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a life that's good, marriage, spouse, love, family

What do you think constitutes a life that’s good? It’s been a really weird couple of weeks. I’m not sure that mentally, I’ve completely returned from vacation. It’s difficult to get back into a routine when you’ve just spent 2 weeks living on vacation time. But when something unexpected like illness is thrown your way, well, your world goes from hazy to upside down in zero seconds flat. You find yourself discombobulated and confused. You find yourself weary and worn. You find yourself changing perspective and reprioritizing. Then, you find your way.

Sunday morning started like every other Father’s day, I told the Big Guy to sleep in. Then I went downstairs and began making espresso and cooking breakfast, as our girls busied themselves making him the sweetest Father’s Day banner to date. Everything was right in my world. I was feeling blessed.

The day before was spend doing yard work and teaching the girls how to play basketball. Things were starting to fall back into a groove. Normalcy was settling in and the overwhelming exhaustion of reentry was dissipating. Then it happened. The other foot. I always get cocky when things are good and then life throws me a curveball to instill a little humility.

After breakfast, the Big Guy said he wasn’t feeling “well” and went to lie down. I went up after him to check in on him because this is very out of character for him. I found him laying in silence, fist clenched as he stoically winced. I knew something was wrong. In the 18 years that I have shared a life with this man, I’ve never seen him do this. He has a high tolerance for pain (unless you count the man cold) but this was something different. I knew he was in pain. It’s humbling to see a 6’5”, 250-pound man incapacitated. It scared me because what if it was something serious. What would I do without him?

a life that's good, marriage, spouse, love, family

I asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital, he brushed it off. I knew better. I called my in laws to come stay with our girls and,in silence, we headed for the hospital. Happy Father’s Day to the Big Guy. I hate the ride to the hospital. It’s always the time my head thinks all of the worst thoughts.

We spent all day there. It was a three Xanax kind of day because seeing him in real pain made me feel helpless and that turned the volume up on my anxiety to high but I couldn’t show it. I had to stay strong for him, like he’s done for me so many times. All I wanted to do was breakdown. Think trapped wild animal but instead of a wild animal it was my emotions being forced silent inside of my head.

Deep breath. Keep your shit together lady. Pray. Check in on kids. See if he needs anything. Can I do something? Question the nurses and doctors like it’s your job (because it is.) Mind keeps going to the worst place. Get the hell out of my mind. Shift in my seat. Hold back the tears. Deep breath. Keep shit together. Pray….Repeat!

Eventually, after a CT and several other tests in which he was poked and prodded, they released him home to me with 3 bottles of medication and a strict clear diet and orders to see a surgeon the next day. I was happy to be taking him home but still my mind would not quiet. All I kept thinking was he needed to follow up with a surgeon. My thoughts were spastic and my heart was cracking. Stay strong bitch. This is NOT about YOU!

We went to the surgeon and for now, it’s nothing a couple weeks of high-powered antibiotics and some pain meds won’t fix. We’re scheduled for a follow up but today the prognosis is good. My mind is still worried, even with the 99.9% reassurance from the funny little doctor with the sunny disposition and wonderful sense of humor. To him, my husband is just another patient but to me, the Big Guy is everything.

The bottom line is that life happens and sometimes it’s some really shitty stuff like losing a baby or a parent or watching helplessly as your child or your husband is hospitalized. All you can do is pray and advocate, advocate and pray like their life depends on it because sometimes it does. The rest of the time all that we can hope for is a life that is good.

Speaking of which, about half way through writing this post, A Life That’s Good by Lennon and Maisy came on and the words spoke to my heart. This song sums up exactly what I’ve been feeling these past couple of days. Here are the Lyrics:

 

Sitting here tonight, by the fire light
It reminds me I already have more than I should.
I don’t need fame, no one to know my name.
At the end of the day, Lord I pray

I have a life that’s good.

Two arms around me
Heaven to ground me
and a family that always calls me home.
Four wheels to get there.
Enough love to share and a
sweet, sweet, sweet song.
At the end of the day, Lord I pray
I have a life that’s good.

Sometimes I’m hard on me,
when dreams don’t come easy
I wanna look back and say I did all that I could.
At the end of the day, Lord I pray
I have a life that’s good.

Two arms around me
Heaven to ground me
and a family that always calls me home.
Four wheels to get there.
Enough love to share and a
sweet, sweet, sweet song.
At the end of the day, Lord I pray
I have a life that’s good.

At the end of the day, Lord I pray
I have a life that’s good.

In the end, who cares about money, status or what other people think about us? All that matters is that we lived on our own terms, a life of few regrets and filled with lots of love. Care about the people who matter and don’t waste your time on those who you don’t matter to. These past few days have reminded me that I really do have a life that’s good and that is more than enough. That is everything.

Tonight, I am thankful. I am thoughtful. The people that I love are safe and healthy and that’s more than enough.

What do you think qualifies a life that’s good?

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