Walk for Hope

On October 18th I’m walking with my best friend and my sister in Mutual Ground’s 7th annual Walk for Hope.  They are a local domestic abuse/sexual assault nonprofit that provides everything from shelter to counseling and everything in between.  We might have a few other ladies join our team as well!!

We are the Purple Ladies.  My best friend loves the move Grease (which I’ve never seen) and wanted us to be the Pink Ladies, but I changed it to Purple since that is the color for domestic violence awareness.  We fund raise until the 18th and then we participate in a 5 mile walk in Fabyan Forest Preserve.

I am so excited to do this, I love that I can do this event with other people and there is this massive community feel to the entire thing.  We are all working together to accomplish a common goal and then we can all enjoy a beautiful day together.

One of the teams is in remembrance of Kari, a 28-year-old woman who was killed by her boyfriend a few years ago.  Her mother is so active with Mutual Ground.  I don’t know how she does it.

I met another mother a while ago whose daughter was killed by her boyfriend.  She was 19.  I believe it happened about 6 years ago, but as she retold her story, talk about receiving that phone call that no parent want to get… she couldn’t help but start crying and it absolutely breaks your heart. I met her at a candle light vigil for domestic violence awareness.  After I went up to talk to her and I tried to say thank you for being strong, but I couldn’t even get out the words before I started to tear up.  I can’t imagine what she went through.  She smiled and gave me a hug.  I was supposed to be the one comforting her, not the other way around.

The fact that these two women can not only get up every morning but also speak out about what happened to their daughters is incredible.  They are some of the bravest people I’ve ever met.

That is why I walk.  I walk for all of the women and men who are still in these relationships, I walk for every child who is afraid, I walk for those who are terrified to leave, for those who think they’re alone, I walk for those who have lost their lives to people who are supposed to love and cherish them for all time.  I walk to empower and give hope to those who have lost it.

If you are interested in donating to support Mutual Ground, please click the link here.  This is the link to my team’s page.  We just started it today and so far we have $70 in donations, which I am so happy about.  Every bit helps no matter how large or small.

If not, remember there are always ways you can get involved. Educate yourself about the problem.  What is it like in the area you’re in?  Participate in campaigns like the #voiceshavepower by Verizon.  Write a message and the Verizon Hope Line will donate $3 per message.  It can’t get much easier than that.

Every day, if you are in a loving relationship and that can be partner, friend or family, remember how blessed you are, how lucky you are.  You have support, caring, love and respect in your life and never take that for granted.

Thank you to anyone who chooses to donate.

♥ Meggie

Advertisements

Going For It

As of late, I’ve been contemplating a second job, just to make a bit more money.  I already make over minimum wage, but with student loans and the fact I’m finished with college and still living at home looming over my head, some extra income would be nice.

Yesterday, one of the places I do some volunteer work for, WAR Chest Boutique, posted on Facebook there as a part time job offering.  I didn’t think about it, I didn’t ask anyone’s opinion, I simply updated my resume and sent it in!  The part time hours would work with my current work schedule and what better place to find a second job than a place I love being doing the work I love to do?

In my life, I’m very impulsive about certain things, I’ll act without thinking a lot of the time.  However, typically with jobs or finances or anything significant to my future, I think them through, ask people’s opinion, never making a quick decision.

Yesterday I just acted and it felt great!  It’s an empowering feeling to just go for something you want and try.  What’s the worst that can happen??  I don’t get the job and nothing changes in my life and I keep volunteering.  The best that could happen would be I get the job, which would be incredible!

Whatever happens I know I didn’t miss an opportunity and I tried.  I went for something and that is an accomplishment in itself.  Getting past those feelings of worry and self doubt.  It’s time I told myself I can do this!  I am so anxious/nervous/excited right now I can barely sit still.  I can’t wait to hear if I got the position! 🙂

I encourage everyone reading this today, try something out of your box.  Go after a dream, do something that will make you feel good even if you’re a bit nervous thinking about it.  Push yourself.  So many times we just go through life on autopilot, just doing our routine as the world flies by.  Take advantage of every opportunity that comes to you, it was put there for a reason.

Send any positive thoughts my way!  Hopefully by June, I’ll have a second job!

♥ Meggie

Saturday’s Inspiration

On Saturday I went to the Civilian First Responder Conference hosted by Women at Risk International. The entire conferences was about 1 of the 14 risk issues women face around the world that WAR works with.  That issue is human trafficking. They discussed what trafficking is, how to identify it and what you can do about it.  Now, I’ve heard all these stories and Becky the founder does not hold back.  She includes all the graphic details because that is what trafficking is.

The hardest part was hearing the story of Rhoda Kershaw.  She is a survivor who was trafficked by the Japanese Mafia.  She is a singer & has been gifted with a beautiful voice. Her story is on her website.  It was so hard listening to her even though I”ve heard this story a million times at the store.  She began to tear up while speaking and it honestly broke my heart.  I just wanted to run up on stage and wrap my arms around her.

What I love about WAR is the fact that they are a Christian based group, but Becky is so open and makes sure that they help anyone who needs it no matter race, religion, or sexual orientation.  Even during her speech she was talking about how the women are judged or thought of as less therefore the poor treatment of women is very accepted in many countries, so people just turn a blind eye.  Then she opened it up to the crowd, asking for another group who is mistreated and people turn a blind eye to crimes that affect them.  People said children & elderly, which she agreed to, but the she yelled homosexuals!   She said this is a group that is beaten, abused, violated and people turn a blind eye!  She told the crowd it doesn’t matter your opinion of their lifestyle, NO ONE deserves to be treated like that because we are all God’s creatures and deserved to be loved and respected.  Statements like this are why, even as a non-Christian, I support WAR because they act like how Christians should.  Instead of being judgmental or cruel, they  say it doesn’t matter!  We will love you, we will help you and we will take care of you if you need it no matter what.  She even made it clear that they don’t “beat the survivors over the head with the Bible”, that they have religious services, but none are forced, anyone who needs help is more than welcome to stay at the safe houses and will not be judged.

She then talked about sex, which shocked me!  I rarely hear such a devoted Christian speak so freely and openly about sex.  I know it is possible, my parents have always been very open about sex because they want my sister and I to be able to come to them about anything & never ever feel uncomfortable.  She told the group, don’t treat sex as something bad.  She said, sex is wonderful, sex is beautiful, God created sex!  Teach your children sexuality is not a bad thing, that it is a beautiful thing and that there are bad people in this world who make it something dirty and unclean and evil.  Be open with your children so they feel comfortable to come to you and talk to you.  Your home should be a safe place where your kids can come talk to you about anything and everything, be involved in their life, know their friends, their friend’s parents.  Being an involved parents is one of the greatest preventative tactics to keep your children from being trafficked.

95 people (including me) showed up, men and women, even some high school students.  I felt this wave of inspiration, hope, amazement.  I love seeing others get involved and fight for something.  It makes me feel so much less alone, like my single action WILL help because I know for sure that there are 94 other people out there doing the same thing!  So I’m not a single voice anymore.  Hearing Rhoda speak ignites a fire within anyone, her tears like gasoline, fueling this burning passion I have to keep women (and men) like her safe, to keep my family safe and to keep me safe.

For any information on Human Trafficking or Sexual/Physical abuse, you can always ask me questions.  I have resources for those just becoming interested, to explain how you can help and more.  You could always go to Women at Risk’s website which is linked above.

♥ Meggie

Who Knows?

Life is absolutely crazy.  You think you have the entire thing planned out and then the road rips off in a different direction, you gripping the wheel for dear life, trying to just hang out, terrified, confused.

I guess that’s how my life went.  I had my plan, high school then college.  I didn’t have a job planned for the future, but I could find something.  I was too timid to volunteer alone.  Then I met my boyfriend and we have had one hell of a ride, but some how we come back to each other and right now, strange at it may be, our communication has improved so much, we barely fight, maybe a spat every now and then but nothing we can’t talk about.  He is definitely one of the strangest, most powerful co-pilot you could have, but we’re taking it slow, very slow.  We need to work on everything first so we don’t fracture again.  After meeting him is when I got involved in my community, in the world, he inspired me to go for it, just like he goes for whatever he wants in his life.

I went to my first event alone Thursday.  A local store, Jeans and a Cute Shop, is hosting a bra drive for Free the Girls and, with my Aunt’s incredible help and support, collected 59 bras (including some of my own).  I couldn’t find anyone to go with so I went by myself and I was so nervous, but it went well.  I talked to the store owners and nothing bad happened!  I get so nervous about absolutely nothing!

I love the work I’m doing now, all of the volunteer work, donation collections, articles on Facebook.  I was so afraid that people would think I’m strange, or end up disliking me but in the long run, I don’t care.  None of my friends would care & as it turns out, a lot of people read what I post.and love it or want to get involved.

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing or where your life is going to take you.  Sometimes you are very literally riding completely blind but that’s ok, it really is.  Just let go, don’t let fear control you.  You can do it, you are enough and you are completely capable.

♥ Meggie

The Trip

Last week, on Saturday, I left with my two best friends to camp in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.  Then Monday we drove an hour or so to North Carolina to our hotel since we’d be going to our other friend’s wedding on Tuesday.  The wedding was in South Carolina at this beautiful chapel on top of a mountain.  We were above all of the clouds and it looked like  a movie!  It was a sunrise wedding which meant a 4am wake up call for everyone.  The day after the wedding, our little trio headed back to the mountains to finish our camping.

It was so much fun and surprisingly we didn’t kill each other on this camping trip!  I am an extrovert, I have many OCD tendencies, I tend to be controlling, stubborn, anxious and extremely talkative.  My two friends are introverts, they like their alone time, hate debates, are late most of them time and hate schedules, so they didn’t argue with each other, but a few times tensions rose either from me to them or them to me.  We’re such good friends, one would snap at the other and that would be the end of the fight, it would be here then gone.

Camping in the mountains is beautiful, it is so quiet and there are insects and birds singing you to sleep , the trees just go on and on.  We even found a cute little roadside attraction in town!  A Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum where  a woman had collected over 20,000 shakers!  I even bought an antique one of two old women with glasses of wine and it said “It’s always better to wine a little with friends”.  It was so cute, I couldn’t help myself!  On the way home we even hunted down a Muffler Man!!

We saw some amazingly beautiful waterfalls, I caught a salamander, we showered in freezing cold mountain rivers and met some interesting people!  During our second time camping, the neighbors just down from us we called the Party Bros.  You know the kind, completely harmless, not noisy, just super friendly, beers in hand.  The kind that you see on your six-hour hike and they bring beer not water.  They were always a great source of entertainment!

My friend’s wedding was absolutely AMAZING.  she was just stunning, the wedding ceremony was incredible and I am so glad I could be there to see her.  I even caught the bouquet!  I told her that at my wedding, I’m going to have that bouquet and underneath will be a sign that says “This is all Bobbie’s fault” and she just laughed!

All in all it was just a wonderful trip with my two best friends, I’ve been meaning to blog about it for a while now and I have so much more to write, but I think this is a good summary for now.  I’ve just started putting up photos so you can go to flickr.com/undiaalavez67 to view them!

♥ Meggie

Childhood

When I was a kid, I didn’t have much responsibility.  I had to get my school work done any maybe help with some chores, only if I was asked.  Most of it was spent playing around or doing fun things with my family.  I’d spend days just dreaming of my future.

Thinking back on it, I had a very small view of the world and just like any little kids does, I had some misconceptions.  For example, I wanted to be an exotic dancer after seeing Independence Day.  My parents never let me see the very first scene when she is actually dancing in the strip club, so when she told the President’s wife she was an exotic dancer, I assumed that was someone who performs dances from exotic countries.  I had no idea what it really was!

I also had a great-uncle who did quite a bit of time in Joliet Prison.  He was not a good man at all.  One year on our way to the drag races, we drove by the prison and Mom said as a joke, that’s where our uncle used to live when he was alive.  Being as young as I was, I assumed he lived in a mansion with a huge yard and towers.  So for a while, until I found out what that actually was, I aspired to grow up like my great-uncle.  I’m glad THAT never happened!

So looking back at my childhood there is a lot to laugh about.  I can laugh at fun memories with my family, vacations, holidays, school activities, I can laugh at my silly misconceptions about the world.  Of course we fought and we had our spats.  I started going through personal struggles in Middle School, which stopped in High School yet resurfaced in College, but I survived.  I no longer do any of the harmful things I used to.  I’ve had a great life, a safe life and a loving life.

But not everyone is lucky.  There are young men and women who live a life like Nydia, in the city, in areas plagued with violence.  The soundtrack to their lives is fill with sirens and gunshots.  She was able to stay away from that lifestyle though and stay focused on the positive in her life, however not everyone can do that.  I don’t even have room to list all of the children and young adults killed this year alone in Chicago, and this happens all over the country.

Then there are all of these articles about sex trafficking.  105 children have been saved in Operation Cross Country and over 150 pimps were arrested.  In another operation designed to target sexual predators, 61 children were rescued and of these “22 were 9 years old or younger, and four were under the age of 3” and 244 arrests were made. Then you read articles that talk about trafficking in the suburbs where the article starts off by talking about a 7-year-old girl who was trafficked by her grandfather, he was her pimp.

Compared to all of that, my childhood was so simple.  Until you start reading and educating yourself about problems in the world, whether it is cancer or poverty or disease or human trafficking, you really don’t know the full extent of it.  Find your cause and do something.  Being involved doesn’t mean hours and hours of your day spent on a cause, you can just collect the change from your couch and donate it or when you clean your closet off, drop your clothing somewhere instead of throwing it away.  As always, if you ever are interested in anything I do, you can always comment with questions, I’m also on Twitter (however I am still getting used to it!) @Meggiemae67.

Future events:

Love Letters to Yourself mural of self-love – Love Letters is a group designed to empower women and help them find self-love.  This will be in downtown Naperville and we’ll be out there Saturday September 7th asking people to write 1 thing they love about themselves on our mural!  Jillie, the founder, is also collecting love letters to put in her book that will be published, so feel free to send those in!  Also, if you want to send in a photo with a sign that says 1 thing you love about yourself, send it to my Twitter @Meggiemae67 or loveletterstoyourself@gmail.com

Traffick Free 5k – That is also September 7th in the morning.  Check out the link!

WAR Chest Boutique Naperville self-defense class – Again on September 7th, I won’t be at that one, but it still looks amazing!!

Bra Drive for Free the Girls – Ladies, you know you have to get rid of old bras that don’t quite fit anymore, but they are in such great condition you don’t want to throw them away, donate them to Free the Girls!  I’ll be collecting to bring them to Jeans and a Cute Top Shop, but you don’t have to be here to participate!  If you check out their website, there are drop-off locations everywhere including Canada and a mailing address!

Just think about ways you can get involved and one very important way is spreading the word about these cases and what is going on in the world. Of course I would LOVE if you could spread the word about some of these events, but whatever your cause is, always get involved!

♥ Meggie

101 & A Party

I started blogging almost a year ago and didn’t think much about it.  It was just a way to get my thoughts and frustrations down,  This is my 101st blog, which is exciting!  I have so many people who follow my blog which I never expected and I have made 2 good friends from doing this as well.  That is such a funny concept to me since I have never even met these 2 women, but they are so wonderful and sweet!  Thank you to everyone who supported me and who reads my blogs, I really appreciate everything! 🙂

The other thing I wanted to talk about was the party I helped host on Tuesday.  It was a party for WAR Chest Boutique in Naperville.  A brief summary for those who don’t know what WAR is, it is part of Women at Risk international, a nonprofit created to rescue women from human trafficking and fight 14 risk issues women face.  Everything in the boutiques are made or sourced by women rescued or at risk women and the money goes right back into the programs.  You can click here to see some of the products I have bought & read their stories!

In the beginning of this party, we show a video (you can click here to watch it) and Ashley, the store manager speaks a bit more about the store.  I even got to speak a bit!!  It is so amazing to watch the faces of the women during the presentation.  Some already know what WAR is so they are not surprised, but others have no idea what human trafficking is really like, everything the word encompasses.  I was like that before I heard Becky, the founder, speak in my human rights class over a year ago.

I want to share Becky’s story.  She is an American raised in Bangladesh because her father was a doctor and worked there.  When she was 14 years old, a girl was brought in who was her age.  She has resisted rape from her father and brother so they in turn, poured acid down her throat to show her that she had no voice.  Acid attacks are just one of many issues women face around the world and what we fight to stop.

There are so many ways to get involved that don’t even involved volunteering!  They have an online store where you could purchase products and your money goes to help women, I am running a 5K in September to raise awareness as well as participating in a bra drive and all you would have to do is donate bras!  There are so many upcoming events that I am really excited to work on!

Another event that I am really excited to work on is for Love Letters to Yourself.  This was started by a friend, Jillie, and it is a group designed to empower women and promote self-love!  She is collecting love letters that women write, you can read my love letter here, and she wants to publish a book.  Not only that, she is fundraising so she can go down to Peru where she was offered a position to work with an organization designed to empower women in a low incomes town decimated by floods over 10 years ago and plagued by violence and rape.  If anyone is interested, I can find out from Jillie where you can send your love letter!

As always, if you have any questions or want more information on any of these groups or issues, you can always contact me in the comments section.  I have tons of resources since people come to me with questions all of the time!  Always remember, there is a way to get involved no matter how busy your schedule is.  If you are passionate about something, then you can always find a way to make it work!

♥ Meggie