web analytics
Category:

News

Mourning Orca Mother, Tahlequah, Orca Whales, Loss, J-35, Orca mother mourns loss of newborn calf

Tahlequah, also known as J-35, is a 20-year-old female orca whale whose calf died just 30 minutes after being born. This mourning orca mother has refused to let go of her dead baby calf ever since, carrying the infant either by one fin, or pushing it through the water on her head. Today marks day 17 and this grieving mother is still carrying the body of her baby through the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

The world is watching and mourning the loss with this grief-stricken Orca mother as she has swum hundreds of miles with her baby. Orca whales have a gestation period of 15 to 18 months. To feel your baby alive, growing in your body and then just as suddenly be gone is incredibly hard to process. Herself and others in her pod are in grave danger because they are neglecting themselves in tribute to this loss.

I get it. I think any mother who has ever lost a child gets it. You don’t want to let go because letting go makes it real. Being real means finality. Finality means that your baby is dead and that is a hurt too hard for any mother’s heart to bare. It is inconceivable and when you are experiencing it, you do lose sight of everything and everyone else.

READ ALSO: ALL I Can do is Cry

As much as you want the pain to go away, you want to embrace it and feel every bit of it because “it” is the only thing you have left of your baby. That pain is the placeholder of where your baby is supposed to be and some part of you never wants to let it go even when the pain is so heavy and dark that it burns your lungs to breathe. You don’t care. You don’t care if you breathe because when your baby dies, some part of you (as a mother) dies too. We feel it and it hurts beyond measure.

Tahlequah is part of an endangered pod of southern resident killer whales. There are only 75 left in the PNW. Her calf was born alive near the San Juan Islands in Washington state but died just 30 minutes later. She has since swum hundreds of miles toward British Columbia, carrying her child with her the entire way.

My heart breaks for this mother whale because I know this deep, unrelenting sadness too well. Unfortunately, too many mothers do. It has been 6 years since my baby died. I spent a month in bed sobbing and tortured. I numbed my pain with medication and solitude. I was not fit for company and I was so sad and felt such despair that I had no appetite. I had no desire to exist. All I could do was focus on what I had lost and scramble to try to hold on to it before even the clarity of the memory disappeared.

I was not logical or rational. I was grief-stricken and heartbroken like only a mother who has lost their child can be. It is a loss beyond comprehension. The pain of living in a world where your child does not is the cruelest there is. To wake up every day knowing that your child is not afforded that same luxury brings with it a guilt that one cannot begin to understand without having tasted its bitter reality for themselves.

READ ALSO: Some Things Change You Forever

Tahlequah is just doing what every single mother who has lost their baby, no matter the stage of pregnancy or life that “baby” may have been at would do, she is holding on for as long as she can because she knows that once she lets go, she will never feel that baby again. Once her baby is gone, she is gone forever.

I am glad the world is watching and empathizing with this mourning mother Orca. I am glad that this whale’s desperate actions can give words to the universal feelings of loss all grieving mothers, especially humans, feel when they lose a child. I hope the compassion spills over and the next time a mother comes into our lives who has lost her own baby, we can treat her with a little more tenderness and compassion.

We mothers who have lost our babies, we carry on. We survive. But we are not the same woman we were the day before. We are broken and we have a hurt that is eternal and can never be healed. Just because time passes and from the outside, it looks like we are ok, know that we are not and we will never be again. Our wounds leave more than our arms empty; they leave irreparable scars on our hearts. When our babies die, they take a part of us with them.

As soon as I knew that I was pregnant, I loved that baby. I love the baby I never got to hold as much as I do my two daughters who I hold every single day and I don’t think that love will ever dissipate. But where all this love lives in my soul, there is no tangible direction to guide it. It exists and yet, sometimes it feels like my third child only existed in my mind. This is why we can’t let go. We mothers keep their memories alive so that the world knows they were once here, no matter how briefly.

I think every mother who has lost a child can relate to Tahlequah on a cellular level. We wish that society could recognize how deep this loss is felt and how it changes us down to our very core. Too soon, Tahlequah will have to let go but at least she’s had these days, few as they may be. Most human moms are not privileged to have that time. We are told that our baby is dead and just as quickly, our baby is gone from our eyes, from our arms and from this world. There is no gradual time of acceptance.

Our society dictates that a dead baby is taboo. They’ve decided that it’s better for us to remove the evidence but its too fast. Our hearts can’t shift gears so quickly. I remember, quite literally, howling in pain like a wounded animal when it hit me that I had to let go of my baby. Thinking of that moment in my car, alone with my dead baby inside me, before a preschool pick-up, trying to digest it all and not die breaks my heart right now. Our culture dictated that I pull myself together and move on but I had no idea how to. I couldn’t even speak. How was I supposed to function and go on like nothing happened? How was I supposed to forget.

I know that soon Tahlequah is going to have to let her baby go. Her body will grow too weak and weary to carry on, though she will try. She may even try until her very last breath. Believe me, I get it. There were dark moments when it first happened that I wished I could just die so the pain would stop but, unlike Tahlequah, I had to carry on for my living girls. That’s what mothers do. We push through the most difficult moments of life by loving and serving others. This is not as selfless as it sounds, this is them (our living loved ones) giving us the purpose to live even when it hurts so bad we’d rather die.

Tahlequah is in a grief loop. She can’t let go but she has to. We all have to physically let go of our babies but we keep them in our hearts for the rest of our lives. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember, but eventually, you are able to breathe again.

Tahlequah is every mother who has ever lost a child.

1 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinStumbleuponEmail
immigrants, border immigrants, immigrant children, zero tolerance, immigration

Zero tolerance for humanity, this is the America our President wants us to live in. A world where we dehumanize entire races and refer to them as criminals and “vermin”. Spreading the gospel through fearmongering that these “vermin” will infest our country.

A world where we rip children from their parent’s arms and put them into “camps” where child migrant detention workers are told to stop frightened siblings from hugging, denying them even the simplest comfort through the trauma of being stolen as they watch their parents being arrested for trying to seek a better life. If nothing else has made the connection for you between Germany in the 40’s, the “camps” should make it crystal clear where this all is headed.

immigrants, border immigrants, immigrant children, zero tolerance, immigration

This could be me. This could be many of you. And don’t kid yourself, if it’s being done to immigrants at the border, it can be done to anyone. Just because you had the good luck of being born inside this country does not make you better, more deserving or immune from the wrath of zero tolerance. Because let’s be honest, the only thing that makes you any different than “them” is dumb luck. You are not better in any way than any other human being. A human is a human is a human. Tomorrow, zero tolerance could be pointed in your direction.

READ ALSO:  No Sanctuary for Children

What I find to be the most sickening thing about all of this (and the list is long) is that our current leader has asked himself, “What is the quickest way to get people to give up on their dreams? What is the quickest way to stop a strong-willed asylum seeker in their tracks?” Threaten to take their children away. This is America today.

Some people value being “right” over being moral. They value getting their way, over giving in to help others. They would rather die proving us wrong than relent to make things fair. Kindness, respect and human dignity are provisional and not extended to all people. To them, not all humans are created equally.

No one is safe; not even children. In fact, they are the targets. Anyone with a brain knows that the fastest way to stop anyone from doing anything, including fighting for their own life until the bitter end, is to threaten their child’s life. We lose the ability to live for ourselves the moment we become parents because we serve a higher purpose.

immigrants, border immigrants, immigrant children, zero tolerance, immigration

As parents, we would lay down and die for our children without hesitation. It’s not even something we rationalize or think about. It is instinct. I’m not even sure we can control it. If our child is in danger, we throw ourselves in harm’s way without a moment’s regret. It’s compulsory and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

READ ALSO: We the People

But as every parent knows, that kind of all-consuming, unconditional, miracle, life-affirming love has a price. The price is that we will do anything for them and would rather sacrifice everything, including any chance of happiness and safety and peace, to make sure that they are safe and have a better chance at life.

This is why so many immigrants come to our country from Central and South America (and around the world) seeking asylum; seeking shelter; seeking safety; seeking a better life for themselves and for their children. These are third world countries where the most valuable thing you have is family and we are taught from a very young age that family is everything. To deny them even that basic right is a cruelty beyond measure.

They do not come to steal your jobs. They do not come to rape you. They do not come to pillage your towns and destroy your lives. They do not come to flood your streets with drugs and murder your children. Most people seeking entry into the United States come for one thing and one thing only, a better life. It has absolutely nothing to do with you, least of all to harm you.

When I became a mom, my entire life changed. I was no longer who I was. I was a mom. My life was no longer my own and it never will be again because I relinquished that life for a bigger more intentional one. My purpose is to care for, love and raise good human beings. I am the keeper of the future, as are all mothers and fathers.

The people who want to build the wall know this but they don’t care when it applies to immigrants because they have dehumanized this group down so much that they no longer see them as human beings, and they never see them as equals. This is how they deny culpability. This is how they sleep at night. This is how and why they rip sobbing children from the arms of their desperate parents.

READ ALSO: If we Do Not Recognize, We Cannot Heal

The children being ripped from their parents’ arms are not collateral damage of immigrants coming to this country. No, the children are being used as pawns by our administration. Give us our wall, stay on your side and your children will be back in your arms. Until then, we will take them. Displace them. Make them disappear. You will never see them again. Our government is holding their children hostage. Our President is terrorizing families seeking shelter and asylum.

immigrants, border immigrants, immigrant children, zero tolerance, immigration

Imagine coming to a country, someplace you have always believed is better than where you come from; less dangerous, less volatile, less crooked and you find yourself being so cruelly refused.  Not only are we sending you back. We are sending you back with empty arms. We will eliminate the very reason you came seeking a better life. Go back to your dismal life with your empty arms and let this be a lesson to you, we don’t want you here and your children mean less to us than garbage.

The only way any of this changes is through Congressional legislation. Even though, please keep in mind, there is currently no law requiring that families be separated at the border that is a mandate of our President. This is your America.

It is up to you and me and every single person in the United States who respects and values human rights to experience a little discomfort, step up and speak out on behalf of the sobbing, frightened, motherless children in the camps. If we don’t help them, who will? You can stop this madness. Start small.

Contact your Congressional leaders, raise your voices to let them know this is not ok and we have zero tolerance for separating parents from their children.

Contact your congressional leaders. Find them here.

Here is what you can say:

“Hi, my name is _____ and I reside in ______. I’m urging Senator/Representative ______ to denounce Trump’s family separation policy and use all of Congress’ authority to stop it. I urge you to support of Senator Feinstein’s bill, the Keep Families Together Act, S. 3036, and insist that immediate attention be given to the atrocities occurring at our border.”

Sign the petition.

I signed a petition to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate, which says:

“Stop tearing children away from their parents. Families belong together.”

If you believe families belong together, please sign this petition? Click here 

Make your voices heard. This is our America.

 

1 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinStumbleuponEmail
Anthony Bourdain, suicide

I was shocked for a second time this week when I heard the news of Anthony Bourdain‘s suicide, only days after Kate Spade was found hung earlier this week. I didn’t want to be writing about this again. Not twice in one week. But damn it, if I don’t I’m part of the problem. The problem is we don’t talk about mental illness enough. We push it aside. Drop it like a bomb and run away. No one wants to be associated with it.

Anthony Bourdain was a depressed, recovered addict but he was so much more than that. He was a father, a son, a world-renowned rock star chef. He was my husband’s idol. I mean traveling the world, eating and drinking your way into the hearts of every culture and even though he was dry and sardonic he was kind and embracing just beneath the surface. He cared. He was real.

READ ALSO: Ode to Joy a Personal Kate Spade Story

The thing is we didn’t know everything about Anthony Bourdain, as we seldom do about anyone. We knew what we wanted to see. We saw what we wanted to believe. In America, we mistakenly believe that if you have all the things, you will be happy. But, I’m here to tell you that is bullsh*t. It might be true if you don’t suffer from mental illness. If you do suffer from mental illness, the things you have is irrelevant.

I just read this People Magazine article and being someone who does have a diagnosis, I see the signs. They are all over this. Every word. He told the world but no one was paying attention. In fairness, if you have not suffered you probably don’t know what to look for or how to help.

We see what we are allowed to see. We see what we want to see. We see the surface. We are complacent and happy to accept the surface.

People these days are in such a hurry to get to the next thing. Post the perfect pic of the perfect life. No one is actually talking or caring about one another, just what they present.

This People article has quotes that I recognize. He told the world he had issues. He didn’t have a mental breakdown in front of cameras for all to see but he wasn’t hiding it.

The thing is we see someone like Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain who have so much and we ask ourselves, how could THEY want to kill themselves? By all appearances, they have everything we want.

Anthony Bourdain, suicide

If you’ve ever been clinically depressed, you know that depression and mental illness do not discriminate. It doesn’t care how much money; fame or things you have. It is not born from being without. It is an illness. No one gets a pass because their life looks perfect.

Even if you have everything and you can tick all the boxes off for happiness, that doesn’t guarantee happiness. Not when you’re mentally ill. It’s a feeling of being broken beyond repair and that causes a despair that swallows you whole. Money, family, fame and success have no bearing on it.

You try to hold on to get through the drowning feeling, especially for those you love. You suffer through and your lungs expand and you hold on to every ounce of breath in your body to survive but sometimes…you drown. The weight of the world is too much.

READ ALSO: I am Robin Williams

If you’ve never felt this way. I hope you never do. The only way to stop this is for us to look up from our phones, see the people around us, practice kindness, get educated and remove the stigma of mental illness so those who suffer can get help without feeling shame.

The shame is literally killing people. Not getting help for your mental illness is like not grabbing the life preserver when you are drowning. Please, stop making people afraid and embarrassed to grab the life preservers.

I am angry that so many people are becoming victims of their own mental illness when it can be prevented if we all just remove the stigma of getting help. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you self-aware and healthy. It keeps us alive.

To remove the stigma, we have to normalize mental illness. Getting help can’t be a source of shame. Checking in on our friends, beyond the surface, needs to be a thing again. No one wants to be responsible for someone else’s life and you shouldn’t be, friendship should not feel like a chore. But a little human compassion and genuine caring, the small gesture of asking someone who they are and actually being present and listening with your entire self can make a huge difference.

The mentally ill don’t need babysitters, or to be told to relax or get over it. They need to feel like someone cares that they are on the planet, that their existence means something, that they can get through it. They need to know it won’t be easy but it’s not impossible.

How are you feeling after learning that Anthony Bourdain was found dead by suicide?

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinStumbleuponEmail
Kate Spade, Kate Valentine Spade, Andy Spade, Davide Spade, Suicide, Beatrix Spade, fashion, depression, bipolar

Like many of you, I was shocked and then immensely saddened by the passing of style icon and designer, Kate Spade. I was out shopping with my daughters, ages 11 and 13, when I read the CNN blurb of her suicide, I was speechless. It felt tragically personal. I had so many questions.

Then the news began to report the details. A red scarf. A note to her daughter, Beatrix. Suicide by asphyxiation, similar to that of Robin Williams. We all know how I felt about that. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It all feels a little too close to home.

I’m still shocked that Kate Valentine Spade is gone. By all appearances, she seemed so vibrant and happy-go-lucky but, that was the brand, right? I, of all people, should know that life is not always what it appears to be. Sometimes there is madness just beneath the surface, holding us down like an anchor around our necks.

It’s not like we all go around shaking hands with every stranger saying, “hello, my name is blah blah blah. My diagnoses are…” That would be weird, right? Helpful, maybe but definitely socially awkward. Instead, many of us walk around with our illnesses on our shoulders like some sort of punishment and never seek relief out of shame. The shame is what kills us because it makes us too afraid to seek the help we need.

READ ALSO: When Mental Health is Marginalized

You’re probably wondering when is she going to get to the “personal” Kate Spade story. My story is personal and it relates to Kate Spade in the way that I can personally relate to her circumstances and depression. I have no “that one time I met Kate Spade” story for you today. But, in a way, aren’t we all Kate Spade’s, that’s part of what made her so beloved.

Kate Spade, Kate Valentine Spade, Andy Spade, Davide Spade, Suicide, Beatrix Spade, fashion, depression, bipolar

She was an American Dream success story. A girl from the Midwest who made good in the big city. She took nothing but a dream and built it into an empire. She hustled her ass off and in the process, we all fell in love with not only her bags, shoes, clothes and accessories but the woman who made them. I’ve always admired the woman as much her designs.

“Don’t rest on your laurels. The end result isn’t as important as the effort that goes into it. Jump all the way in. Don’t be afraid. And don’t worry so much,” Kate Spade.

I’ve always fancied my personal style as Carrie Bradshaw meets Audrey Hepburn meets Coachella. It all depends on my mood, as are many aspects of my life. Kate Spade helped me keep it classy; she brought the Audrey to my wardrobe. I’ve owned many of her pieces over the years and I wore them each proudly because it felt like I was finally a grown up. Her pieces are classic yet edgy. The touch of Holly Go Lightly we all so desperately crave in our lives. Even my girls love Kate Spade.

I don’t know what her diagnosis was nor would I try to guess. Diagnoses are very personal and indiscriminate. You can’t share them until you are ready and every single one of us are different. Some of us can’t hide them and everyone knows that something is “off”, some us of blend into normalcy and you never know the anguish we are suffering through on a daily basis and some of us would rather die than reveal our diagnosis.

For me, before my diagnoses, I thought I was broken. That feeling is daunting and overwhelming and nearly too much to carry. Definitely, too much to carry alone. Hearing my diagnoses said out loud gave me so much relief that I cried tears of joy because I realized then that I was only bent. But it was a humbling experience that I mostly got to experience in private surrounded by those who loved me unconditionally.

I didn’t come out to the world as mentally ill (see, I still cringe when I type that because I know that to someone, somewhere that diminishes what they think of me) until 2012. I was diagnosed in 2000. It took me over a decade to be able to be completely open about it and yet, it still bothers me to say “mentally ill” out loud. I feel like the moment anyone hears “mentally ill” they conjure up images of people in padded rooms in an asylum wearing straitjackets. I can’t imagine how someone of Kate Spade’s notoriety would deal with a diagnosis or if she even had one.

It’s obvious that she was depressed; that’s usually a given in a suicide. I read that her sister is claiming that she suffered from undiagnosed Bipolar. As I am Bipolar (I just cringed a little again) I know a little more about that disease. I know firsthand that it can make you depressed and it is a fact that 15 % of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder will commit suicide, half will attempt it and 80% will contemplate it.

I was part of the 80% in my teens. It was over a decade before I was diagnosed but your brain doesn’t need an official diagnosis for you to feel the full weight of the symptoms. You just do. And when you don’t know what is causing that pain, it’s so much worse because you assume there is no relief. You assume you are terminally broken, so what is the point of trying to live? If you’ve never felt this kind of melancholy, you are lucky. If you have, you know exactly the depth of despair of which I speak. It is unmistakable and sometimes feels unlivable. Many of us have been here.

I only dwelled in darkness for brief moments of my lifetime. For me, the darkness gave way to mania and immense irritability. My natural state is a revved up motor stuck in neutral which can be, at times, equally as painful. Imagine being chronically up and never being able to turn your brain off; that is your brain on mania.

I know it seems like I’m rambling now but my point is this, you never know what someone is going through in their life or in their minds. We all wear our protective armor and some of us are better at hiding the pain and misery than others but that doesn’t diminish how strongly we feel it, only how clearly you can see it from the outside.

I am sad that the world lost Kate Spade, absolutely gutted. I don’t know if she had a formal diagnosis, I hope that she did, if only she knew what it was because the feeling of being terminally broken is so much worse than being mentally bent. I also know for a fact that even when we are at our lowest, we can still know that we are loved and love others even if we feel we don’t deserve it. I hope she had that too. Sometimes the reasons are outweighed by the anguish and that has nothing to do with the people who love you. They are enough but you feel that you are not.

Unfortunately, there is only one way to survive this kind of depression and it is to get through it, which is much harder than it sounds because it hurts unbelievably. You have to get the help you need, whether that be getting the initial diagnosis, medication and therapy all the way through to making the choice every single day to keep fighting through the excruciating pain you feel on some days just to breathe.

If you feel depressed or you are thinking about harming yourself, please call the 24-hour Hotline National Suicide Prevention Helpline 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).

I know when you are in that dark place, it feels like there is no way out but there is and it starts with letting someone throw you a line; someone listening and making you feel heard. Talking through it can provide enough relief to get you through to the next day.

READ ALSO: Carrie Fischer; the Warrior Princess who gave me Hope

And if you are someone who sees a loved one hurting, depressed, overwhelmed with sadness let them know that you are there for them. Listen and encourage them to get the help they need but know that you cannot force someone to feel better and they can’t simply cheer up. And no matter what their life may look like to you from the outside, you have no idea what they are going through on the inside so don’t diminish their pain by telling them that they need to “get over it”. It’s not that simple. They need your support and unconditional love. Full stop.

Kate Spade, Kate Valentine Spade, Andy Spade, Davide Spade, Suicide, Beatrix Spade, fashion, depression, bipolar

I hope her legacy is the immense joy her pieces brought to so many of us and will bring to future generations of young women. My thoughts and prayers are with those who Kate Spade left behind and though they will never fully be able to understand or accept what she has done, may they find peace in knowing that she is no longer in pain.

What is your Kate Spade story?

 

 

1 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinStumbleuponEmail
run, hide, fight, how to survive an active shooter event, Shelter in place, gun control

How do you feel about raising kids in a time when it is necessary that they are taught run hide fight protocol as a means to how to survive an active shooter event. It’s not weird to them. It’s the norm and that scares me. There’s even a handy Run. Hide. Fight. pocket card to help you remember what to do in those stressful times.

They don’t even come home freaked out when they are told to run, hide and fight when there is a potential that there might be a “wild polar bear” loose in the hallways.  Yeah, that’s what the principal has code-named “active shooters” as to not “frighten” the children. They’re not frightened. I’m terrified and I have been since Sandy Hook.  Every single morning at drop off, every time I hear a siren during the school day and I cross my fingers, pray and hope that at pick up two in tack healthy children are returned to me. This is my life.

But our government is having an issue pulling the trigger on common sense gun control, which is ironic because I believe they are all very concerned with the citizens of the United States maintaining their “right to bear arms.” You think at the very least, they’d know how to pull the trigger and shoot.

The bottom line is that people like me want all the guns to magically disappear because we’d feel safer sending our kids to school for 7 hours a day, out from our watchful eye learning to live in the world, like normal people. People who place a higher value on keeping their guns can’t seem to reconcile how to protect our children and keep their right to bear arms. So, they deflect; mental illness, a rogue gunman, anomaly, and my favorite, “the bad guys will still find a way to get guns! I need to be able to protect myself!”

The response is that maybe we should arm our teachers. What? We don’t pay teachers enough money for all the work they do, as is. We entrust our children’s education and safety to them for pennies. It’s insulting really. Teachers should be paid like doctors because as far as I am concerned they are doing something just as important, every single day. Why would we add to their responsibility and give them guns? They are trained to expand our children’s minds not take down an active shooter. They are not trained officers of the law. This is ridiculous.

I would never expect a teacher to be the marksman who has to stand between my child and an active shooter. Have you met a teacher? They are, generally, wonderful, good people who genuinely care about children and want to help them learn and grow in the world. In the moment of truth, I think most teachers would throw themselves in harm’s way to protect their students but they shouldn’t have to.  This isn’t the world we should accept. We need to protect both the teachers and the students.

A school shouldn’t be a dangerous place to go. Going to see a movie shouldn’t be risky. Shopping at the mall with your tweens shouldn’t be potentially life-threatening. I, you, we shouldn’t have to hold our breath and pray every single time our children walk out the door that someone doesn’t murder them simply because they can and they have access to guns.

Today, I was scanning my Facebook feed and a video was shared of a thing called “Shelter in Place” which is basically, a bulletproof room built into the classroom equipped with cameras on the outside so that the classroom after loaded into the makeshift panic room can see when it’s clear. They say takes a few days to install and about 30 seconds to load the entire classroom of children and teacher into the “shelter”. I’m wondering what your thoughts are about this?

Here are mine, do I love that it can potentially save my children from a gone wielding maniac? YES! Do I want to live in a world where my children have to live every minute of every single day on the defensive just in case a lunatic with a gun decides he’s having a bad day and wants to shoot them because our government won’t impose common-sense gun control because their egos are more important to them than my child’s life? No!

People have told me that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. This is true but if there were no guns, people couldn’t use guns to kill people. They’ve told me that no matter what.. the “bad people” will always find a way to get guns. And I ask them, is there a secret “bad guy” arms dealer that passes out cards and everyone knows how to find because I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of lazy people out there and if it were harder to get guns, they’d give up trying. Maybe they’d use knives or fists like a real man, give a victim a chance to retaliate.

I’m pretty positive that not every thug on the street or mentally unstable person with an ax to grind would find a gun but when you can walk into any gun store and get one, that makes a difference.

I won’t lie, if it were up to me, no one would have guns but the police and the military because they are trained to use their weapons and that is their job. I get that people don’t like to be stripped of their rights but people also need to realize that the constitution was written at a time when the right to bear arms was necessary. We didn’t have a competent military yet and the people needed to be ready to form a militia and fight if need be. They needed to have their own arms. It was like a BYOB party but the second B was actually a gun and the party was a war. Make sense now?

What I’m saying is that your right to bear arms argument doesn’t hold water these days. Just be honest, you “want” to own firearms because it makes you feel powerful in a world where most of us are powerless. It makes you feel strong in a world where we are vulnerable. But it’s false bravery. A gun is only as effective as the gun owner who is holding it. If you are not properly trained, just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you can actually protect yourself. In fact, you’ll probably just piss off an attacker and he’ll shoot you in the face.

That’s the thing, the bad guys aren’t announcing their attack. They are getting you when you are vulnerable; when you’re sleeping, watching a movie with your kid or your kid is at school trying to figure out that damn common core math or taking the iStep tests. My point is that if the guns were not available, a lot less innocent people would be getting murdered. Statistics don’t lie and as much as you want to argue with me and call me names, you know that is true.

I don’t want to take your guns away from you. I want to keep all of our kids safe. This isn’t about you or making you feel weak; it’s about protecting our children. It’s about not living in a world where our children don’t even scoff or think anything is scary about being taught to run, hide and fight. They just do it. It’s about not having to teach my girls to bob and weave if they escape. It’s about not having to have secret words and panic rooms in classrooms. It’s about not having to worry if your child’s teacher is the sort who would through himself between a bullet and your child. It’s about all of us feeling a little safer, a little braver and a little kinder. It’s about polar bears not being a threat in the hallway, a movie theater, a concert or a mall ever again.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinStumbleuponEmail

Have you ever heard the names, Elle Darby or Paul Stenson? Me neither until today. Talk about an influencer’s nightmare, I’m not sure it gets too much worse than this. A British Youtuber, Elle Darby, had the “audacity” to privately email a hotel, the Charleville Lodge Hotel, and ask for accommodations in exchange for “exposure” of their property. The property owner, Paul Stenson, clapped back by not only refusing and ostracizing her but doing it publicly on the establishment’s social media channels.  Therein lies the snafu and now, in response to Influencer backlash, he has banned all influencers from his establishment.

Obviously, I am being facetious. If you have worked in this space for any amount of time, at least in the United States, you know this is a common practice. Not necessarily that all influencers cold pitch businesses to ask for product in exchange for promotion. That’s a bold move and to do that, you need to have some serious confidence and influence to back it up. Seasoned influencers know this. We also know if you don’t ask, it’s always a no but there is always a chance of a no and it does not feel good, even in private.

Just to put this in perspective, brands and PR firms have absolutely no qualms about reaching out to influencers on a daily basis and asking us to work for free, for “exposure” (I keep putting this in quotes because I find it simultaneously hilarious and insulting because I can’t feed my children “exposure” and if I am spending my time away from my family working on promoting a brand, I need to be compensated) or for product. I prefer cash because that’s how I pay my bills but if the product/event is something that I am interested in and the value is equivalent to what I charge for work, then I definitely do consider it. Everything is negotiable except for my opinion, which is honest and if not positive, I always give the brand the option to opt out of the post going live. You know, the whole if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all thing.

I’ve been pitched, in the early days, to write positive reviews on products without even being provided the product. Obviously, I didn’t do that because I can’t tell you about or promise a positive review on a product that I’ve never tried. Also, crafting a well-written post, editing photos, creating video and promoting on social media all takes time and effort. No one would expect a marketing executive or an advertising firm to work for free, why would you expect an influencer to work for free?

First, I think a couple things need to be defined in this space. Why does anyone care if I (an influencer) promote a brand? How do I influence anyone? Why does my opinion matter? For any of this to make sense, you have to understand what being an influencer means.

What is an influencer?

A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.

Why does this matter?

Using social media influencers in your marketing is the practice of building relationships with the people who can build relationships for you. Whether an influencer’s audience is small or large, an influencer can reach consumers via their blogs and social networks that your brand may not be able to.

You see while some influencers may have little influence, some have a huge influence. It’s about more than numbers, it’s about engagement, credibility and connecting with your audience. If an influencer has developed a following over time and that audience has become invested in that influencer’s life, they do care what that influencer has to say, in the same way they might value a friend’s opinion over a brand’s commercial. Of course, there has to be taken into consideration the influencer’s integrity. Are they going to give an unbiased review? That really depends on the influencer.

After years of influencers being approached by brands to work in exchange for hosting, attending events and product we know that this is common practice. It is not unreasonable or even rare for an influencer to make this ask in return. In fact, many venues/events have media inquiry pages with forms just for this sort of ask.

I am fully aware that it sounds sketchy and maybe even entitled when you randomly find out about this practice from a salacious story on the Internet about a ghastly influencer who dared ask for something like this. Pay your own way, you think. But that’s because the general population is not aware of these practices in the digital space. I can tell you, and any brand will agree, it is easier to get paid $20000 in product than it is to get paid $1000 in cash but sometimes you don’t want $20K worth of kidney beans or bras or baby toys. That has everything to do with budgets and write-offs for the companies.

Again, if you work in this space, you already know all of this but the average person does not. My brother still doesn’t understand how “the internet” pays me. I think he thinks checks fall from the sky out of thin air. I tried to explain it once but his eyes glazed over and I could see he was hearing the Charlie Brown “Wah wah wah wah” thing. So I gave up but not today, Satan.

Elle Darby, who I had no prior knowledge of before this story blew up was just trying to “live her best life” (Generation Z you make my chuckle) working with what her mama gave her. We influencers know that if a company isn’t willing or doesn’t have the budget to pay us so we can pay for those things we need to live, it’s perfectly acceptable to (what I call) work for food, or in this case a holiday. The end result is the same.

We promote their brand to our audience (which is usually their target audience because we do our research) and in exchange they provide us with a good or service that we would have bought with the money had they paid us. We’re the new pioneers. It’s called bartering. It was the original form of payment. Google it. I’m kidding…don’t Google it. I’m sure people paid for goods and service with rocks or some shit a long time ago in caveman days

The problem is the person who did the clapping back is a skilled shit stirrer. Elle Darby made one fatal mistake and that was of asking the wrong person, Paul Stenson. The wrong person got her email or rather since he is the owner, she should have googled him before she emailed and then she would have known better.

Don’t get me wrong, full disclosure, I went to his blog and Paul Stenson is funny AF and I quite enjoy the wit and honesty, with which he writes. He gives his truth and doesn’t give a flying flick what anyone else thinks, generally, I admire that quality in a human being. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and I think that may be why he was so annoyed by the Youtuber’s gall to ask for this hosting in exchange for her work. I don’t know for sure but his blog seems like a personal blog and maybe he doesn’t work as an influencer for his own blog. After all, he has owns The White Moose Cafe and Charleville Lodge that I’m assuming his salary is in cash money. Lucky bastard.

Here is where my problem stems from, the message Paul Stenson posted on FB along with his message (both below) were not coming from his personal account but from the business account which was very unprofessional. He could have simply replied with a, “No, thank you.” No harm, no foul.

Had Mr. Stenson did the same thing from his personal account, that would simply be his opinion but as he did it as a representative of the resort and released a private business email then proceeded to chastise Ms. Darby over standard practice on behalf of the establishment, reflects very poorly on his establishment. I don’t think he’s a bad person, I just think he did a social media f*ck up under his business account. He should have hashtagged that shit #hacked.

 

Paul Stenson, Elle Darby, Elly Darby, The White Moose Cafe, Charleville Lodge, Dublin, Ireland, influencer, social media influencer, ban

 

Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names),

Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity. 

If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?

Lucky for us, we too have a significant social media following. We have 186k followers on our two Facebook pages, an estimated 80k on our Snapchat, 32k on Instagram and a paltry 12k on our Twitter, but Jesus Christ, I would never in a million years ask anyone for anything for free. I also blog a bit which as far as I’m aware is another way of saying “write stuff on the internet”. The above stats do not make me any better than anyone else or afford me the right to not pay for something everyone else has to pay for.

In future, I’d advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel in question believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you. Here is a little video I produced which you may learn from. (just Google it)

Best regards, 

Paul Stenson

P.S. The answer is no.

And Paul Stenson isn’t changing his mind anytime soon. Of course, now that I see this tweet, I feel a little skeptical about the entire situation. Was it all a media stunt for publicity? Maybe the two did collaborate, after all?

 

Paul Stenson, Elle Darby, Elly Darby, The White Moose Cafe, Charleville Lodge, Dublin, Ireland, influencer, social media influencer, ban

 

I do have to say, Ms. Darby’s “over 30” reference left a bad taste in my mouth too but let’s chalk it up to youth.

Either way, what are your thoughts on this situation who do you side with the Elle Darby or Paul Stenson?

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinStumbleuponEmail
President Donald Trump, Trump deosn't want immigrants from shithole countries, Haiti, Africa, El Salvador

On Thursday, it was made pretty clear President Trump doesn’t want poor immigrants from “shithole” countries. His words, not mine. During a meeting in the Oval Office, while discussing with lawmakers the protection of immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, President Donald Trump made some disparaging remarks.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said.

My question is what actually constitutes  “shithole” countries to Donald Trump? How does one qualify as a “shithole”. What is a shithole? Is it the hole in an outhouse? How do you equate humans and countries to a hole in the ground in which people defecate? And just like that Trump doesn’t want poor immigrants from “shithole” countries.

President Trump then suggested immigrants from Norway would be preferable. He also said that he would be “open” to more immigrants from Asian countries because he feels that they could contribute and benefit the United States economically. That felt really old man racist to me but to be fair, he said it was about money.

In addition, president Trump singled out Haiti, telling lawmakers that immigrants from that country must be left out of any deal.

“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said, according to people in attendance of the meeting. “Take them out.”

In November, the Trump administration rescinded deportation protection granted to nearly 60,000 Haitians after the 2010 earthquake and told them to return home by July 2019.

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

…but only if they’re from Norway and maybe Asia. We’d prefer you keep your “shithole” people from those “shithole” countries like El Salvador, Haiti and Africa to yourself.

I’d love to say that I’m surprised by these racist remarks President Trump has made but I’d be a liar if I said I was. He’s never pretended to be anything else. He built his campaign on the promise to “Make America Great Again” by building a wall and kicking people out. He’s been openly -ists against many groups of people. The man is not a people person. He is a businessman.

But let’s take a look at this whole “shithole” controversy. Does he mean countries with people of color, third world countries or anyone who is not what he considers good enough; wrong color, race, religion, sex, socio-economic status? He talks about people, human beings, like products; commodities.

In all honesty, I thought it was about race but the more he speaks, I think it may be something bigger. I think he doesn’t like anyone who is not part of elevating him and his agenda. Poor people reflect badly on our country. Why would we want to take in more homeless people who will only contribute to the already astronomical national debt? I think the bottom line is he is all about wealth and excess. I believe if he had his ideal America, it would be a country of beautiful, millionaires who believed the way he does. The working man is the back by which this great country has been built upon but to men like Trump, unfortunately, they are disposable.

There is no room for diversity in Trump’s America and that is what it is, or at least what he is trying to mold it into, “Trump’s America.”

Don’t be surprised that he is being exactly who he promised to be. Some of you voted him into office. Maybe this is your idea of a perfect America. It’s not mine. Maybe you are as disappointed and heartbroken as the rest of us.

In my America, the president is someone to look up to and emulate. He is held to a higher moral standard than the rest of us. He inspires us to be and do better. He is an orator who can move crowds to action of change. He gives us something to believe in. He puts us at ease when we are afraid of outside threats by promising to protect us and taking all the necessary step to ensure our safety. He puts the collective us above himself.

He is a human who respects humanity and strives for equality. He is educated and worldly. His job is to make America the greatest country in the world by making us economically strong, politically succinct, diplomatically beloved and our military respected and revered. He is firm but caring.

His character should be as close to beyond reproach as possible. No president is perfect but like a parent puts their child before themselves in an effort to care for them, this is the same duty of the president for his constituents. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling.  He is the surrogate father of a nation. There is no room for selfishness.

I get that president Trump is human and he has made mistakes. Mistakes the whole world is watching. Stumbling is expected but most of his worst moments are of his own doing. He doesn’t’ care what the world thinks about what he does. He holds himself above the rest of us. That is one of his biggest failures.

Belittling others and rejecting humans begging for help because he deems them to be from “shithole” countries speaks volumes about his character. He has no honor and no compassion for the refugees of the world seeking asylum and protection. Somehow, he seems to not care. I don’t know how someone can even make themselves not care when presented with a hungry, sad human being with no safe place to live. Money has more value to him than human life unless it is his own. This is just my humble opinion as I watch this situation unravel.

I don’t know if he is a bad person or if the power of his position has made him feel untouchable and therefore made him lose touch with reality. What I do know is that many of these actions he has taken, the damage is irreparable. America’s promised ascension towards greatness is being actively thwarted by an ego that has outgrown the man. It is up to every one of us to make better choices and work towards making America great again for all Americans. 

Isn’t it our moral obligation as human beings to help those less fortunate than ourselves?

 

 

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinStumbleuponEmail
Sandy Hook, Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown Connecticut, Adam Lanza, Mass shooting, gun control

I woke up this morning, then, I remembered what today is the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.  It’s 11 days before Christmas. It’s the third day of Hannukah. It’s also the 5-year anniversary of one of the most heinous mass shootings in the history of America. The day 26 innocent children and adults were brutally murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary.

My girls gleefully squeed this morning when reminding us that TODAY is the day that we adopted our puppy, Lola. She was a Christmas surprise for our girls in 2012 after a particularly hard year; we lost a baby, we lost our family dog and we moved away from everyone we ever knew. But, I know today is something else.

Five years ago today, a man murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On Dec. 14, 2012, a 20-year-old named Adam Lanza fired his Bushmaster rifle through the school’s locked front door and commenced a killing spree. At the time, it was the second deadliest mass shooting in US history. What seemed to shake the nation the most was the age of the victims, children who were just six and seven years old. On December 14, 2012, my daughters were 5 and 7-years-old. The Sandy Hook events shook me to my core.

Sandy Hook, Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown Connecticut, Adam Lanza, Mass shooting, gun control

Today is December 14th. A day that changed the way I parent forever; a day that changed me. Today, on a morning just like this in the small town of Newtown, Connecticut, parents dropped their children off at Sandy Hook Elementary and kissed them goodbye like I did on that same morning in a sleepy town in Indiana.

You drive off, probably listening to Christmas music with your heart all full of that feeling of positivity and cheer we all feel at this time of year because it’s in the air. People are nicer, friendlier and generally, the world is just slightly better.

I remember dropping our girls off and the Big Guy and I took the day off to finish our Christmas shopping. In fact, we spent most of the day playing with a certain puppy and the rest was spent wistfully having lunch and laughing as we ducked in and out of stores thinking of how happy each this or that would make our daughters on Christmas morning. All the while, we counted ourselves lucky that our children were safe at school.

It wasn’t until the pick-up line that afternoon that we actually heard the horrific news of what happened to those 20 beautiful children and the 6 adults who tried to protect them and my heart broke as all of my faith in humanity drained slowly from my body, as I held it all together at pick-up. It wasn’t until after bedtime that night that I could fully digest the scope of what Adam Lanza did that day.

Lanza then entered a first-grade classroom where Lauren Rousseau, a substitute teacher, had herded her first grade students to the back of the room, and was trying to hide them in a bathroom, when Lanza forced his way into the classroom.[44] Rousseau, Rachel D’Avino (a behavioral therapist who had been employed for a week at the school to work with a special needs student), and fifteen students in Rousseau’s class were all killed. Fourteen of the children were dead at the scene; one injured child was taken to a hospital for treatment, but was later declared dead. Most of the teachers and students were found crowded together in the bathroom. A six-year-old girl, the sole survivor, was found by police in the classroom following the shooting.The surviving girl was hidden in one of the corners of the classroom’s bathroom during the shooting. The girl’s family pastor said that she survived the mass shooting by remaining still, and playing dead. When she reached her mother, she said, “Mommy, I’m okay, but all my friends are dead.” The child described the shooter as “a very angry man.A girl hiding in a bathroom with two teachers told police that she heard a boy in the classroom screaming, “Help me! I don’t want to be here!” to which Lanza responded, “Well, you’re here,” followed by more hammering sounds.

Lanza next went to another first-grade classroom nearby; at this point, there are conflicting reports about the order of events. According to some reports, the classroom’s teacher, Victoria Leigh Soto, had concealed some of the students in a closet or bathroom, and some of the other students were hiding under desks. Soto was walking back to the classroom door to lock it when Lanza entered the classroom. Lanza walked to the back of the classroom, saw the children under the desks, and shot them. First grader Jesse Lewis shouted at his classmates to run for safety, and several of them did. Lewis was looking at Lanza when Lanza fatally shot him. Another account, given by a surviving child’s father, said that Soto had moved the children to the back of the classroom, and that they were seated on the floor when Lanza entered. According to this account, neither Lanza nor any of the occupants of the classroom spoke. Lanza stared at the people on the floor, pointed the gun at a boy seated there, but did not fire at the boy, who ultimately survived. The boy got up and ran out of the classroom and was among the survivors.

Hartford Courant report said that six of the children who escaped did so when Lanza stopped shooting, either because his weapon jammed or he erred in reloading it. Earlier reports said that, as Lanza entered her classroom, Soto told him that the children were in the auditorium. When several of the children came out of their hiding places and tried to run for safety, Lanza fatally shot them. Soto put herself between her students and the shooter, who then fatally shot her. Anne Marie Murphy, the teacher’s aide who worked with special-needs students in Soto’s classroom, was found covering six-year-old Dylan Hockley, who also died. Soto and four children were found dead in the classroom, Soto near the north wall of the room with a set of keys nearby. One child was taken to the hospital, but was pronounced dead. Six surviving children from the class and a school bus driver took refuge at a nearby home. According to the official report released by the state’s attorney, nine children ran from Soto’s classroom and survived, while two children were found by police hiding in a class bathroom.[41]:14 In all, 11 children from Soto’s class survived. Five of Soto’s students were killed.[62]

I was mad. I was devastated for those who lost their lives but even more so for the parents and family members who, just like me, dropped their beloved everythings off at school that morning and that very night sat sobbing with empty arms. It was so unfair and so horrific that I almost couldn’t allow myself to believe it.

I’ve never been one to live my life in fear but that day and every single day since I’m afraid every time my children leave my arms. Every morning I send them to school, I pray God sends them back to me. Every time I hear a siren, I hold my breath and hope it’s not a shooting at their school; that a man with a gun having a bad day doesn’t decide to take his hatred for the world out on my children. His collateral damage will be my complete undoing.

I think often, almost daily, about the parents and children of Sandy Hook. I can’t imagine what the world must look like to them. I don’t know how they’ve survived these past 5 years. I’m assuming with a lump in their throat and a fight in their bellies.

I know they will never get justice because they will never get their tiny loved ones back and each passing year is a reminder of what should have been. I imagine this time of year has lost all of its glisten and glean for those families and in its place moroseness and sorrow has settled in. I wish there was a way to bring their children back to them but I know that is impossible. But what we can do is make their deaths not have been in vain.

We must continue to fight for stricter gun control laws. No one’s right to bear arms should outweigh a parent’s right to hold their child in their arms; to watch them grow up and spend a lifetime loving them.

My husband dropped our girls off at school this morning. I kissed and hugged them all just slightly longer than I should have this morning and I began to pray the moment they walked out the door. Please let them return to me. This is my daily prayer that I say with earnest but even more so on this morning, December 14th because I know there are the parents of 20 children whose hearts are being shattered all over again this morning.

So please, whatever you are doing this morning, wherever you are in the world, whoever you may be, stop and pray for those families who lost their children and those children and brave staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary who went to school on a day just like today, five years ago and never got to come home. Pray that those parents have the strength to continue carrying on and they can someday get some peace.

But don’t just pray, do something. Fight for the safety of our children. Stand up for better mental health coverage and stricter gun control. Make good choices and remember that while you are listening to your Christmas music, doing your last minute shopping at Target and drinking your latte, there’s a mother in Newtown sobbing uncontrollably; there’s a father whose loss has turned to bitterness and he doesn’t know how to fix it; there are a brother and sister who will never get to hear the laugh of their little brother again. There are gifts that never got opened and holiday celebrations that had to be repurposed into funerals.

I’m begging you, if you are weary from all of these mass shootings, tired of innocent children being nothing more than collateral damage to a system that continues to value an outdated right to bear arms over its children and tired of being constantly afraid that your children won’t come home because guns are too readily and easily accessible stand up and fight like your life depends on it ( because it might) for stricter gun control and legislation to regulate the purchase of parts to assemble semi-automatic weapons because even though we do have weak gun control laws in place for purchasing guns, there are none for buying the parts and assembling your own at home. Think about that for a moment and do something.

Whatever you do today, never forget the 26 innocent children and adults who went to school on a day like today and never got to come home because a sick man had easy access to guns and rained down devastation on the world. Hug your children tight.

0 comment
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinStumbleuponEmail
Me Too, Women's Rights, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Harassment, Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, Me too

As I raise my hand to claim “me too”,  I’m faced with a society asking who is to blame for the Weinstein situation? Obviously, Harvey Weinstein is a piece of shit and is to blame for his own actions but what about the society we live in that feels it’s okay to objectify little girls and rape women with no ramifications? How do we expect our girls to be safe when we let our boys get away with sexual harassment simply because someone in history said “boys will be boys” and that means girls need to live on the defensive while boys just get to live. When do women get to be people too?  Are you angry and done with this attitude?

Me too!

Last night, there was a call for women to set their statuses to #MeToo if they have ever been sexually assaulted or harassed. I don’t know a single woman who didn’t set her status to Me Too! It made me sad. It made me mad and it made me feel not alone but utterly shattered that I am not the minority because what does that mean for my girls? Who is protecting our girls?

Sexual harassment is a disease and we apparently all have it. It’s like the moment you were born with a vagina, you were assured that you were going to be assaulted. Thankfully, they don’t tell you that or many of us would have looked for a way out a long time ago or our mothers would have mercifully drowned us at birth.

We live in a society that grooms women to be victims. We don’t intentionally let these horrific things happen to us. Women live a society that has completely failed us. We are taught that creepy guys are just misunderstood but harmless. We give them the benefit of the doubt because it was only a dick pic, it wasn’t his actual dick in my face. But wasn’t it? Weren’t you just as violated? The only thing missing was the imminent fear that his dick would be in y our body.

We live in a world where we are taught from a very young age to live on the defensive. It’s our job not to get raped or be abused by a sexual predator. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we keep ourselves hidden away and safe from men and their “natural” urges. We are taught to walk a little faster, cover up, not enjoy sex and steer clear of any situation that might put us in danger which boils down to our sheer existence.

It’s not all men though. My husband was appalled when I talked to him about this situation. But he also has no understanding of what it is like to be a woman. How lucky he is. How nice it is to be able to live a life where you can walk down the streets and never worry about someone attacking you from behind, pulling you behind the bushes and raping you.

What a utopia it must be to live in a world where no one will ever corner you in a room and threaten to have his way with you. No one will ever break into your apartment while you sleep and take what is not his.

The first time I can remember being assaulted, I was 4-years-old, a little boy in my kindergarten class wanted to steal a kiss under the parachute during gym class. It may sound innocent and sweet but I didn’t want it. He took what was mine without asking. I cried. I was mad. I told on him. The gym teacher laughed, “Awww, Debbie he likes you. Boys will be boys.” Nothing was said to him. The onus fell on me. That was it. It was my problem. Get over it. That began a lifetime of knowing that the responsibility fell on me to protect myself and if something bad happened to me, then I must not have done a good enough job.

A few of my Me Too Moments

When I was 7-years-old, a teenaged boy (a family friend) repeatedly groped me at a family party and told me if I ever told anyone they would blame me for being such a “slut”.

In 4th grade, Andre pushed himself against me and kissed me hard, just as everyone was walking into the classroom after recess. Everyone saw, so not only did he take what he wasn’t given permission to take, he embarrassed me in front of the entire class. The teacher and all the students laughed. What could I do?

In 6th school, my art teacher used to come over when I was working on a project and take his hand and massage my neck while telling me how “spectacular” my artwork was. He was a grown man and his hands always found their way to my breast buds. I pulled forward to escape his grip, he grabbed me harder. This was done almost every art class for 3 years.

In 7th grade, walking home through a field, a high school boy exposed himself to my friend and I. We were in shock. We were terrified. He thought it was hilarious. I never wanted to walk home again.

When I was 18, working at a retail chain 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.

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 because earlier that night I had smiled when he sang a song to me. 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.

Or 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?”

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 (and 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.

Or the time I broke up with a boyfriend, I hadn’t had sex with because I was still a virgin. He had spent the entire time we were dating dry humping me, slowly trying to expose himself. I felt like he was a child that I had to keep telling no. He was much bigger than me. I always felt threatened. He saw me out after we broke up and said he wanted to talk to me in private and apologize for being a jerk when we broke up. I was naïve, I went to his car with him. He exposed himself to me and said, “Try it. You’ll like it.” If I wouldn’t have pulled my knee up and hit him in the groin, he would have raped me and he thought he was doing me a favor. As I got out of the car and ran, he screamed after me, “Slut! Cock tease!”

I am sad angry and even in recounting these events (and there are so many more and so many worse that I can’t bring myself to share with you yet) I feel helpless, ashamed and on the verge of having a full out sob fest, right here in fucking Starbucks and that makes me unbelievably 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 hall passes for rape, attempted rape, pressing up against women on the train, grabbing their breasts in a club, forcing themselves in so many ways big and small and society 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 but I can’t because I’d probably go on forever.

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’s the reality 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. But this is bullshit. I don’t want my daughters to feel this shame and vulnerability or fear of living in a world where women are treated like inanimate holes put on this earth solely for men’s pleasure. 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.

That’s what society does, it makes men feel like they are entitled to everything and makes women feel like they are of no more value than garbage. I stand with all other women, in saying ME TOO! Over and over again. I knew it was wrong. I said no. I told people but still, the assailant prevailed because he had a penis and I was only armed with a vagina. In society, that makes me the one at fault.

Well, now I’m saying NO MORE! Every woman should say no more. No more fucking excuses. No more touching without asking. No more boys will be boys. No more taking what’s not yours.  And no more looking the other way. If you see something, say something. We have to protect one another because if we don’t we all fall victim. It’s happened to all of us. Do we want it to happen to our daughters?

Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no. Let’s teach that instead of Boys will be boys.

What was your Me Too moment?

4 comments
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinStumbleuponEmail
Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

At least 58 people were killed and more than 515 people were injured when a gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday night creating the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. He fired at the crowd from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort. Country singer Jason Aldean was on stage when the shooting began and chaos ensued.

Trigger Warning: Some of the photos included in this post are very graphic.

How do we ever feel safe again with gun legislation that allows gunman like Stephen Paddock to just open his window at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay resort and open fire on a group of music festival goers like they were fish in a barrel? How is this the country we live in? This is the deadliest attack on U.S. soil since the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. of September 11, 2001.

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

64-year-old, Stephen Paddock fired shots from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and killed at least 58 people (as of now) and injured more than 515 people. It is the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Police used an explosive breach to break down the door to his hotel room, and Paddock killed himself. Police said Paddock was found dead with as many as 10 firearms. I’m not sad to say he killed himself but at the same time, I am so sick of these monsters being killed before we get any answers. I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really matter why they did what they did, having that question answered will not change the outcome but at least maybe we could understand. Maybe we could try to make sense of it all.

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

Another morning, another news story about some crazed lunatic taking his semiautomatic weapon and senselessly killing innocent people. It happens so often that not only are we becoming accustomed to it, we expect it. We fear it but it’s our new reality and we live in a world where we know every single day might be our last.

I don’t accept this. I am angry. I am outraged. I am pissed off. Just last week, we took our daughters to a concert. This can happen anywhere. Do you understand, we.took.our.daughters???

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

So to break it down for you in parenting today, you can keep your children in a bubble and be labeled a “helicopter mom” with all the negative connotations that come with it. Or you can be cool and just go about life like it’s normal that sometimes people get gunned down at movie theaters, concerts, and school for no good goddamn reason. I can’t take it.

It’s too heavy. This responsibility of raising kids and keeping them alive when so many random acts of violence just keep happening. How are we supposed to do it? How are we unarmed with nothing but our unconditional, never-ending love for our children supposed to protect them from the boogie man that lurks right beneath our noses…the neighbor next door, the kid who delivers your newspaper, the old guy who hands out hard candy for Halloween or the shy, quiet kid who stays to himself at school and even though your kid goes out of their way to be friendly and inclusive, because that’s what we’ve taught our kids to do ( though I’m not even sure anymore if it’s to be kind or just as a defense mechanism, last-ditch effort to stay off the shit list) so maybe when that freak comes to school with his semiautomatic weapon he’ll remember somewhere in his broken brain that YOUR KID didn’t laugh at him.

Marilou Danley, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

I can’t take it. Politicians talk about gun control like it’s just another political discussion, like taxes or health care, but it’s life or death. You are deciding that in order to get the votes, it’s ok to let maniacs have semiautomatic weapons…or firearms at all. If you’ve got problems and you hate someone, why can’t we live in a world where you have to get up close and personal and use your hands, face-to-face, not like a coward shooting from atop your tower at unsuspecting people?

I am sick to death of the NRA and all the other groups arguing for their right to bear arms. Read the constitution you morons, it was written in a time when the American people had no strong army and had to be ready to organize into a militia to fight and protect against the British army. We have a full military in place now and the need for Stephen Paddock, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Omar Mateen, Seung Hui Cho, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and so many more to have ready access to weapons does not exist.

When I think of all the mothers and fathers who grew, raised and loved these children who have been killed (because yes, even adults are someone’s children) I can’t even swallow the lump in my throat is so big.

Marilou Danley,Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Route 91 country Music Festival, Stephen Paddock, Mass Shooting, Country Music Festival, Jason Aldean

I was talking to someone and they argued, “Well, the problem is that if you take away the right to bear arms the bad guys will still find a way to get them. The gang bangers and deviants will find a way to arm themselves.”

The thing is, while maybe this is true since there are so many guns already floating around the United States, do you really think this weirdo, average white men like Stephen Paddock, Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold would have the wherewithal to be able to find a gun runner? It’s not like that sort is hanging out with or even trusting these oddballs. Nope, these assholes are going to their local gun shows, Walmart or wherever the hell else it is that weird guys go to buy their guns…off the rack, like the rest of us go buy toothpaste.

Maybe new gun legislation wouldn’t stop all the gang violence and drive-bys but I bet it sure would slow down the frequency with which we see mass shootings by lone weirdos. Because yes, if you just hoard semi-automatic weapons and plan to go into a place of business, worship or anywhere people are congregating just to shoot and kill as many people as you can because you are sad or mad or whatever the hell else you are with the world because you’re pathetic, then yes, you are a lone weirdo. This is what you have chosen to be. There is no excuse for this behavior. We all have shit days; we don’t all go on mass shooting sprees.

Nevada has some of the loosest gun laws in the United States, and has no limitation on the number of guns that can be purchased at one time. It is legal to own, purchase, or sell machine guns there if the weapon was manufactured before 1986. The state has no law regulating large-capacity ammunition magazines, according to the Law Centre to Prevent Gun Violence.

You know, I keep asking myself when will it be enough? Who has to be killed that we collectively say, “Nope, that’s too far!” But I guess in the United States there is no such thing, after all, Adam Lanza killed a bunch of innocent kids and yet, Stephen Paddock was able to get his weapons, get them into the Mandalay Bay resort and go on a shooting spree from the comfort of his room like the coward he was. Once America decided killing children was bearable, the gun control debate was over. It’s like we allowed the most heinous thing in the world to happen and that still wasn’t enough to stop it. We got over it. There apparently is no rock bottom.

Maybe there needs to be a mandatory psych evaluation before anyone can buy a weapon beyond just a background check? I know for a fact that there are people who refuse mental health treatment for fear they will be labeled mentally ill and not be able to buy guns. So to recap, mentally ill people purposely forgo treatment so that they can still have access to weapons. Feel safer now?

How many moms have to bury their babies? How many dads have to get that news in the middle of the night? How many brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons, and daughters have to go on living with such a giant, senseless hole in their world?

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival and their families, who have been irreparably damaged. I hope you can find some kind of peace again in this world. BUt we need a hell of a lot more than just thoughts and prayers to stop this sort of thing from happening again.

To those who fight so hard for the right to bear arms, your right to carry a weapon is systematically killing our children. Is the price worth the right?

 

Update: 4:07 p.m. More than 19 rifles were found in the hotel room of the gunman in the Las Vegas mass shooting, a law enforcement official confirmed, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Among the weapons authorities discovered were two rifles with scopes on tripods positioned in front of the two windows that had been broken out, a law enforcement official said.

 

7 comments
0 FacebookTwitterPinterestLinkedinStumbleuponEmail

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More