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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 Kelby Carr the founder of the website Type-A Parent and the organizer of the Type-A conference. I think just about everyone in the parent blogging world knows Kelby by her reputation as a business powerhouse. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her over the years through her online magazine Type-A Parent and finally got to meet her in March at Type-A Disney World. I’ll be honest, I was a little intimidated, and I am not intimidated by many people but she really has her shit together. But, when I met her, if you look at the photo below, this is who I met. A kind, quiet, strong minded, business savvy woman who upon recognizing me gave me a huge smile and heartfelt welcome that put all my nerves at ease. The thing that I love most about Kelby is that she genuinely wants to help other bloggers succeed, which is evident by her conferences. I’ve only been to a handful of conferences but I felt like I got more out of her 1 day conference than any other one I’ve attended, I can’t wait to go to Type-A Atlanta in September.
I am honored to know Kelby and proud to have her as my guest on This Blogger’s Life today. So, without further ado…

This Blogger’s Life, Kelby Carr.

Kelby Carr, Type-A, Type-A Parent, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging while still working as a newspaper reporter. It was a way to write about a topic I was passionate about, but didn’t cover regularly at my paper (travel).
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

Run your own race (blogging isn’t a zero sum game).
What are the three words that describe you best?

Assertive, Type-A and social.
What is your favorite website?

Inc.com

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

Watch movies and read (everything from comic books to horror/fantasy and business books).
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

After years of writing and working for others, I realized I could (and prefer to) be my own boss.

How do you balance life and blogging?

That is one of the biggest challenges. The smartest thing I did after years of being an uptight control freak (and too tightwad) was to hire an executive assistant last year. It has made a huge difference. It has allowed me to work more on my business, and less in my business. If I could go back five years, I would smack my old self and say to do this earlier.
How has blogging changed you or your life? 

I can now work for myself. While I do have some travel, I can attend almost every school function. We can decide at the last minute to do a short getaway. I get to decide my own fate.

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

I don’t care what your business model or topic is, fantastic content is always the core to a successful and great blog. There are a lot of other factors that also can enhance that, but you can’t have great and successful without the quality content.
If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

Travel, start another business or open a restaurant.
How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life? 

I actually don’t share anything personal about my children or husband. I did buy my kids’ domains with their names years ago, so web their lives get blogged it will be by them.
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?

The focus on great writing, conversation and community. I am over the moon thrilled bloggers are making money and supporting their families now from this industry, but it is important that bloggers balance revenue goals with maintaining quality content. I see sponsored post to non-sponsored post ratios that are really alarming. If we don’t maintain the quality content, we will kill the golden goose anyway. We won’t have readers, and brands won’t see the value in investing in our industry.

How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?
Type-A Parent has always been an online magazine/social blog, so that means I mix up my own posts with paid posts by bloggers. Each month, we do a call for paid blog post ideas and any blogger can apply. What’s great about that is it helps us remain community-focused, and we get lots of variety of topics and expertise areas. As an online magazine, we also cover a wide variety of topics (anything of interest to parents who blog, so that ranges from business and blogging advice to recipes and crafts).

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

Hunter S. Thompson, Audrey Hepburn, Seth Rogan, George Takei, Lynda Carter and Stan Lee. 

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

I witnessed an execution.

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

My favorite posts tend to be when I mix commentary about our industry with advice, like this recent one on sponsored post ratios: https://typeaparent.com/sponsored-post-ratios.html

Kelby, Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. I KNOW how crazy everything is right now with you being in full-swing preparation for Type-A Disneyland in a couple weeks. You always make time for your fellow bloggers and  I hope you know that it doesn’t go unnoticed. You’ve earned my respect on so many levels for what you do and how you conduct yourself in this arena. Can’t wait to see you in September and hug your neck. XOXO

 

If you want to know more about Kelby Carr, check her out at Type-A Parent on FB, Twitter and Google+.

 

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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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New year resolution to manifest your best life

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Good morning and happy new year. Sounds kind of insincere to wish anyone a “happy” anything in the midst of yet another pandemic surge. Thank you Omicron. But I do sincerely wish each and every one of you a magical year filled with happiness; no matter what that may look like. That’s why this year, I’m forgoing the lofty idealistic and mostly unrealistic resolutions of the past in favor of realistic new year resolutions to help you manifest your best life in 2022.

The past 2 years have been hard, like astronomically hard, beyond anything any of us could ever have anticipated at the beginning of this pandemic. Yet here we all are. Certainly worse for the wear; a little humbled, sad and stronger. Yes, we’re surviving. You are stronger because (knock on wood) it hasn’t killed you yet…if you’re reading this. (Sorry about that, my sense of humor has gone a little dark in the past 2 years.)

Anyways, I’m not a self-help guru or someone who’s got all her shit together. I’m struggling but I did have a moment of clarity a few days ago and I came out the other end certain that our life journey is all about the tiny steps (no matter or how hard or easy it is to get to our desired destination in life). You don’t have to run, jump or leap. You just have to step in the direction you want to go. The most important thing is to know where you want to go.

So stop, right now. Stop thinking of where the world has told you that you should want to go or what you should want to be or have or do and ask yourself, “where do I want to go, be, have and do? What makes me happy? Who is worth my time, effort and love?” Then, prioritize.

Here comes the hard part, the people, places, things that don’t make you happy…let them go. I know it’s hard. It can feel almost impossible but hanging on to those things is dead weight around your neck and it’s slowly killing you. Don’t give more weight to people and things that don’t even consider you. Let that shit go.

Stop being so hard on yourself. Give yourself the same grace, love and patience that you afford everyone you love. Be diligent, attentive and proud of yourself. Do your best and be the best version of yourself. That’s it! You don’t owe anyone anything but yourself. You owe yourself happiness, love, laughter, contentment and peace (in whatever form that may be).

Here are my Realistic New Year Resolutions to Help Manifest Your Best Life in 2022

1. Prioritize yourself

For me, I naturally assume the martyr position because I’m a mom. Always putting myself last and everyone else’s needs above mine. They didn’t ask for it. It’s just what I’ve always done. It’s what my mom did. But that doesn’t serve me or my family well. It’s leaving me feeling like a failure as a human because while I’m excelling as a mom, I feel like I’ve lost me in the process. It makes me angry and unfulfilled and, quite frankly, unhappy and a little bitter and that spills over into everything else and taints the joy, bringing down the energy. This year, my family is going to always be the most important thing to me but now, I am going to be as important to myself as I am to them.

2. Move your body for 20 minutes a day

Y’all remember that I was diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol a few months before the pandemic hit? Well, I was and it scared the f*ck out of me. I started watching what I was eating, portion controlling and working out. I was overwhelmed. It was a lot. But in 6 months, I had lost 60 pounds and all my numbers were normal. The pandemic hit and between stress and not going anywhere, I gained 25 pounds back and slowly over the past 2 years my numbers have crept back up. They are still normal but if I don’t take control now, for how long will they stay healthy? I don’t want to find out so, I’m committing to myself to get my heart rate up 20 minutes a day to stay healthy. No lofty weight loss goals or black and white/ this or that/ never or always lines drawn in the sand. Just some prioritization and lots of grace and love for myself.

3. Eat whatever you want in moderation

Do NOT cut yourself off from the simple joys. I mean, come on, saying you’re never going to eat sugar or carbs again might sound like the answer to your problem of gaining weight but it’s not sustainable. It’s unrealistic. Worse still, it makes food unenjoyable. Honestly, when you live your life with drastic restrictions, are you living a life at all? You’re getting by. Food is not the enemy but it also doesn’t heal your traumas. Eat whatever you want in moderation while being cognizant of your own health, portion control and reality. If you’re drinking alcohol, drink water. If you’re eating garbage, drink water and move your body. The key is balance. But don’t starve yourself or fanatically restrict every calorie that goes into your body, that’s an actual eating disorder. Take it from me, I know.

4. Chase what makes you happy

This can be different for every single person on the earth. For one it might be traveling the world or becoming a doctor, for others, it might be earning a lot of money and living a lavish life and for some, it might mean creating something beautiful or just living peacefully. Guess what? None of them is wrong. Each of them is right. Happiness is derived from many different things in many different ways. Don’t be afraid to chase your happiness because even if you don’t make it to where you want to go on the first try, you’ll be closer and definitely happier and more fulfilled knowing that you went for it. For me, that means creating content that resonates with others and living my life on my own terms. Starting today, I want to post at least 5 days a week. You are my accountability buddy. Don’t let society tell you what to wear, how to look, who to love, what’s cool and what’s not. Do what makes you happy! Periodt. No one else lives in your body, your mind or your soul. Only you can choose your happiness and that starts by stopping taking other people’s opinions into consideration when deciding what makes your heart happy and full.

5. Travel

Wander the world. A change of scenery is good for your soul. Honestly, whether you are going to a cabin in the woods, hiking in the mountains, laying on a beach, or exploring a metropolis traveling is a way to reboot and gives you just enough distance and distraction to forget your worries for a little while and give you a fresh heart and eyes to tackle your woes when you return. My parents taught me from a very young age that travel is an experience that opens your mind and your heart. It makes you more tolerant, understanding and kind. There is no better gift you can give yourself.  So travel everywhere you can any chance you get. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 minutes from home or a 24-hour flight; walk where you’ve never walked before and try things you’ve never tried before. You won’t believe how your perspective of humans and the world, in general, will change.

6. Be the you that you want to be

This one can be hard because not all of us have taken the time in our lives to even ask ourselves what we want, who we want to be or what that looks like. Many of us have been swept up in our lives; it almost feels as if it happened to us and in some cases, as circumstances were, it did. But it’s never too late to change until you’re dead. Every single day is a new beginning. Every. Single. Day.  So decide who the you is that YOU want to be and be that. Make a list. For example, I want to be a more attentive wife (pandemic has made me in survival mode but I want more. I want slow dancing in the kitchen, hand-holding on walks and snuggles on the couch) I want to be a strong role model for my girls and I also want to be their best friend, I want to evolve my career to the next level (so I’m working my tail off to complete this Masters in Digital Marketing), I want to actively choose the life I live and I want joy and satisfaction to be the guiding factor.

7. Don’t let other people’s actions steal your joy

Only positive vibes this year. It’s an inside joke in my family that I am eternally optimistic. I’ve always been this way. If I weren’t, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be here…or anywhere. I think I just had a hard childhood (like so many of us #generationaltrauma) and I know that worry is a useless emotion and negativity absolutely brings the energy down. If you don’t believe you can, you absolutely won’t so I’m living that MexiCAN (Not MexiCANT) life. All this to say, trust and believe in yourself. You are the master of your own destiny. The only way other people can steal your joy is if you allow them to. Do NOT let those people have that power.

8. Sleep

It sounds super basic. I know. But sleep is the cure-all to life (well, that and water). Sleep is something that has always been a challenge for me (manic bipolar who is clinically diagnosed insomniac) add in some ADHD, perfectionist tendencies and then hit me over the head with the pandemic anxiety. Yes, sleep is absolutely elusive for a lot of adults, especially parents. I am not alone in this but it is a basic need to stay healthy and happy. So do what you need to do to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep. Stop laughing. It is possible. Try relaxing at night, dim the lights, get cozy and turn off the screens. Meditate. Take a warm bath. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine before bed and rethink those sugar snacks before bed. Get your exercise done earlier in the day so you can benefit from the endorphins without that energy surge at bedtime. Last but not least, make a small to-do list every day in the morning and cross those 5 things off as the day goes and at bedtime, throw it in the garbage. The list could be as simple as drink coffee, pick up kids from school, return books to library, go for a walk and drink water. Then, give yourself permission to rest and forget the rest until tomorrow. Do this every day until it becomes a habit.

9. Drink water

This is so simple and basic that it sounds almost ridiculous to put it on a list but it is very important. Drink your water. Water really is life. It’s great for your skin, your health and your mind. Set a goal to drink at least 64 ounces of water every single day. Staying hydrated can contribute to a general sense of well-being.

10. Get dressed everyday

I get it, it sounds like common sense but let me tell you, as a stay at home mom during a pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of the last two years wearing loungewear, whether that be fuzzy skims, tie-dyed lounge sets, LuLulemons/joggers and sweatshirts or just changing from my night jammies to my day jammies. I have not been dressing in all the cute clothes that I’ve bought to satisfy my pandemic anxiety shopping. Last week, I went to my in-laws for Christmas and I put on a cute sweater dress with knee-high boots and put makeup on and did my hair. It was a game-changer. I felt cute and sexy and human. Never underestimate the power of dressing for yourself and feeling beautiful in your own skin. It absolutely changed my entire outlook on life and my self-confidence.

11. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

You can’t do everything or be everything to everyone. It’s ok to be vulnerable and fragile, let other’s help. Don’t put off medical, mental or spiritual needs. Needing help is not a shortcoming, it is part of being human. We all need help at some time to survive life. No one is an island. If what you’re doing isn’t working don’t be afraid to pivot or change directions entirely.

12. Live everyday like it’s a special ocassion

You do not need to live like you’re dying but, for the love of God, live and love like every day you are alive is a special occasion. Celebrate you. Eat the macarons. Wear that little black dress from Nordstrom. Take the trip to Paris. Tell the people your heart is crushing on that you love them, that they are special and you are glad they are a part of your life. Stop saving shit for someday when today is yesterday’s someday.

These are my realistic new year resolutions to help you manifest your best life in 2022 and every year after that. Choose your own happiness. Choose your own adventure. We only have one life and the time on earth is not that long, so do what you want. Choose you.

In the end, the goal should be to live your life in such a way that even if you die at 99-years-old (like my abuelito and Betty White did) it’s still too soon.

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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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Throat punch Thursday

Throat Punch Thursday~Mommy Blogger

Lately, there’s been a lot of controversy over the term Mommy Blogger.  Yes, I know I should be giving a hefty Throat Punch to Casey Anthony for being worst mom of the century but I think I’ve wasted enough time on making this sad and sorry woman into a celebrity. This is my last opinion on the subject: Casey Anthony is a woman who clearly has problems and has to live the rest of her life knowing that she has let her daughter down; that she will never hold Caylee in her arms again and that no matter what the jury decided, in the American Public’s eye, she is guilty in thought, word and action. In the end, she is alone and she is culpable.

Moving on, as I was saying, the very term

Mommy Blogger

seems to be inciting revolutions. I am a Mommy who is a blogger. But I don’t blog about JUST being a Mommy. I am a human, with a vast array of thoughts and emotions. I have 38 years of life, experience and wisdom to share. I am worth more than the sum total of all my parts. It’s really disturbing to me to hear Moms who are bloggers disgusted and disgruntled by the fact that they are called mommy bloggers.  It is said in the blogging community almost as a dirty word or an insult.

You know how you hear that teachers are not being paid very much and you think “what? These are the people educating our future” and then you think to yourself, “These people she be paid a million dollars a year.” They ARE making a difference. This is how I feel about Mommy bloggers.

Or when you realize that there are entire countries where men think women are useless and have no voice. No opinion. No merit. It begs the question, how the fuck do you think you got here? There are entire continents that don’t want baby girls. But baby girls grow up to be women and women have babies. Babies perpetuate the human race. See where I’m going with this? Mommies are what make the world go round. Mommy bloggers share these experiences.

Mommy Blogger

So,when I hear a negative connotation associated with being a Mommy Blogger, it pisses me off. I work hard on my blog. I pour my heart, blood, sweat and tears onto the page to share with my readers. It’s not always about babies pooping, first days of kindergarten or photos of how cute my kids are. It’s not always gushing. Sometimes it a woman on the ledge sharing the deepest recesses of hardest moments of life. Sometimes I blog about how current events are effecting the world. Other times I use my life experiences and education to help my readers broaden their horizons and open their minds. Some days, I am pure sunshine and rainbows and am here to make you smile and laugh heartily. Either way, I think I serve a purpose for my readers and I know having the opportunity to share serves a purpose for me.

The worst part is that not only is the term Mommy Blogger used in a derogatory way, it’s used most often by other bloggers. Worse still is the jealousy and competition that comes, not only from traditional journalists, but that from within the blogging community itself. I have met some amazing Mommies who are bloggers. I have learned so many important life lessons by sharing a community with these wise women…these mothers. But then, every once in a while, I see envy and competition raise it’s head. Is this where the negative view of Mommy Blogger is derived from?

mommy blogger

The Throat Punch this week goes to self-loathing Mommy Bloggers and all those who think that just because a blogger is a Mommy that she is less respectable than any other writer in social media. Shame on you! We are Mommies who Blog…hear us roar! And just because we share about parenting, doesn’t give you carte blanche to know every single thought we’ve ever had or the right to delve deeper than we are willing to share.

What is your definition of a Mommy Blogger? Are you a Mommy Blogger? Are you embarrassed to be called such? Or are you loud and proud? Love to hear your thoughts.

If you want the badge,grab it on the tool bar under buttons

Proud Mommy Blogger

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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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life after motherhood, motherhood, get a life

Yesterday’s Be A Better Me (You) Challenge- Day 7 ~ Make yourself a Priority went pretty well. Well, it went as well as a Tuesday could possibly go in my house. Today we’re going to figure out how to get yourself a life after motherhood.

The girls didn’t actually go to sleep until almost 7 pm, so that threw my whole plan off. I never actually got to work out BUT I did get my hot shower in peace and in lieu of working out, I enjoyed a slowly eaten ice cream cone..all by myself. Counterproductive; yes, not a great choice; probably not, all for me; definitely.

But I did make myself a priority and this morning instead of running like a maniac when I returned from dropping Bella off, I’m catching up on emails and leisurely reading some really great blogs! This is a priority to me,something I don’t always get to do but today I did! And it was really nice to feel like what I wanted to do was important.

Today’s Be A Better me (You) Challenge -Day 8~Get a Life

This is simple, well, in theory it is. Find something you like to do, just you, for the sheer pleasure or passion of it and do it. It’s not impossible to get a life after motherhood, you just have to work at it. For me, my passion is writing so this blog is mine; for me and by me. It may chronical my family at times but mostly it is for me to be able to write and to keep me sane. As an added bonus, I have met some wonderful women through my blog and the community that I have built. Before my blog,  my whole life; every minute of every day was revolving around someone else. Granted it still does about 99% of the day, but for that 1 % of the day; of my life I can be inside my own head. I can be Debi. It’s a baby step in the grand scheme of things, I know that but it eases me into pursuing my passions and keeping touch with myself.

It’s not impossible to get a life after motherhood, you just have to work at it.

When my kids are grown and I don’t have them to focus on every second of every day what will I be left with? What will you be left with? I want to be left with something for me. An accomplishment that I’ve done on my own. This blog gives me something outside of being a Mother that I can identify with and be proud of on my own. I am fully aware that this sounds ironic since I am a Mommy blogger and the whole basis of my blog is Mommying but the part that is my own is that I write it. When I write it, it may very well focus on my children and being a Mother but it allows me to have an opinion, a perspective, a say in it all. It allows me to make it a part of my life instead of the other way around.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to My Tween

I think we all need that one thing that is our own. It keeps us tethered to the women we are inside. There is more to all of us than just being someone else’s wife or Mother. I feel better about myself when I feel like I have a contribution to make to the world besides just breeding. I’m not saying that Mommying isn’t my main role and it is one of the most important things that I will ever do. I know that! I embrace that. But I also know, as Mommies, we have it burned into our brain that if we do anything for ourselves we are shortchanging our family. That is simply not true.

Show your little girls that life after motherhood is not empty or sad. It’s enriched and robust with possibilities.

By having a life, we are showing them that it is possible to have their cake and eat it too. This is especially an important lesson for our girls to learn early on. By enriching ourselves, we are enriching the kind of life we can provide to them; the kind of mother we are. It’s a ripple effect. Now, go get a life!

What do you do just for you? What is a hidden talent that you have that you’ve almost forgotten was there? Go use your God-given talent, don’t waste your gift.

 

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mommy blogger, blogging, motherhood, blog, social media

 

Throat Punch Thursday,mommy blogger

Mommy Blogger Means Mommy who Blogs

When did Mommy Blogger become a bad word? The other day, I was accused  by one of my readers at another site I write for ( not you ladies, you rock), who apparently doesn’t know me like you all do, of sitting around in my robe all day and thinking up these “ridiculous” articles. I wish! I believe the article was one in which I compared “real” (meaning those of us who are not celebrities. Not meaning to imply that Beyoncé is not a “real” mom because obviously if she has a baby and is taking care of it, she is “real” not imaginary.) Well, apparently Beyoncé reads that website because someone certainly attacked me for that remark and the only person who I can think of that should get that defensive about Beyoncé would be Beyoncé herself or her mama.

Then it hit me, this is what people think of mommy bloggers. They think we sit around in our pajamas all day, eating bon bons and pecking away at the keyboard while we ignore our kids and live in perpetual squalor. It is no wonder, women writers are so afraid of that title. I assure you that I do not fit any of the stereotypes that people think of when they think of “mommy blogger”. In fact, I’m pretty sure most mommy bloggers don’t.

mommy blogger, blogging, motherhood, blog, social media

This illusion of a mommy blogger is not feasible if you think about it because by the very definition of “mommy blogger” we have children, have given birth and/or are pregnant. This does not allow much time for sitting on our asses and eating bon bons though I wish it did. I have never eaten or seen a bon bon in my life because I have kids. Bon bons would never last in my house. As soon as I would try to put one in my mouth some little person would be in my ear asking for a bite and just as suddenly in my mouth snatching it away.

If anything, a Mommy blogger should be defined as a wonder woman like creature who has given birth, is raising children, has the balls and presumably some talent to write about it openly. I also happen to live like a functioning yet severely affected ADHD patient.

[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”] You can grab your own Proud Mommy Blogger button under the “about” tab.

A Mommy Blogger is a Multitasker Extraordinare

I sit down to write during naps.Five minutes in someone usually yells out for me. I walk past a toy in the hallway and pick it up. Then I walk into the bedroom to be told that little Suzy needs a drink of water. I grab her hamper and carry the clothes to the laundry room and start the washer. While the washer is filling, I walk to the cupboard to grab a cup. I fill the cup and then I wash the few dishes that are in the sink. I load the washer, walk back to the child’s bedroom and hand her the water. She asks for a tissue. I walk into the bathroom to grab a tissue. Clean the sink and make it free of toothpaste. I pick up the wet towels from this morning. I walk back across the hall, hand Suzy a tissue, give her a kiss and walk towards the laundry room. Out the corner of my eye, I see that the living room coffee table is covered in puzzles and coloring books and the cushions need to be fluffed. I take the laundry to the laundry room. As I walk through the kitchen towards the living room, I see that there are crumbs from breakfast on the table. I grab the sponge and begin to wipe the table. My phone dings. I have a text message from my husband. I call the insurance company to ask about a statement. While I listen to musak, I fluff pillows and put away puzzles. The living room is tidy. I take the pillow the girls drug from my bedroom back to my bed. Musak continues. I notice I still need to fix my bed. I fluff the comforter and realize there are loveys in my bed. More musak. I finish fluffing my pillows and straightening my bed then I walk across the hall to put the lovey on my youngest daughters shelf. Musak is still playing. She stirs and I have to stop what I am doing and soothe her back to sleep. Tip toeing out of the room, the musak suddenly stops and a very loud insurance agent yells, “Mary Jane Magilicutty, How may I help you?” Startled, I run out of the room. 20 minutes later, I am done being transferred, pressing one and explaining to this agent the extent of my stress incontinence. I am about to lose my mind. I walk to my desk to continue writing my article that I started an hour ago when the kids first went down for their nap. Shit! I forgot I need a cup of coffee. I walk to the coffee maker and begin the process of making a cup. I can’t find the creamer. I go in search of the creamer. It’s at the very back of the refrigerator behind the apple juice, organic milk and leftovers. I finally get to it and the apple juice, whose lid was apparently not closed, falls out of the refrigerator and spills on the ground. 20 minutes and a lot of cussing later I am headed back to my desk with tepid coffee after mopping up the juice. I walk over to my desk, sit down and type one sentence and a little one walks up to me and tells me they are awake. Breathe. Wait. Repeat. That, my friends, is the day in the life of a Mommy blogger.

This is my day, every day. I work in 5-minute increments and then I stay up until the wee hours of the night to make up the difference. Bon bons? I can barely sneak in a minute to eat a piece of stale cold toast. So don’t tell me that Beyoncé does more than me before 8 am because I am still asleep and then I sit in my robe all day. Hey fuck you! I run circles around Beyoncé. She has a team of people to do what she does. I am a team of one for most of the day. It’s just short people, who I can barely understand, and me. Being a Mommy blogger means I not only do all the Mommy duties of my day, I throw in researching, writing and thinking up interesting things to say.Well, things to say. Do you have any idea how hard that is when I have a raging case of Mommy brain, 2 little ones in my ear talking about everything that has ever happened to them and anyone they know and trying to remember birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, meetings and deadlines?

It’s hard but I do it because I LOVE it. I love my girls, I love my husband, I love my job and I want it all. Am I exhausted? Yes. Do I say some things that are irreverent? Yes, I am too tired to over think it. Do I make mistakes? Hell, yeah. Do I feel mental? Yes. So throat punch to anyone who thinks mommy bloggers sit around in their robes all day.  Now, pass the fucking bon bons, I’m hungry, exhausted and I have a deadline and I’ve only got 5 minutes before the kids wake up again.

What do you think when you hear the word Mommy blogger?

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