Ray Rice and Dometsic Violence

I’m sure by now everyone has heard about Ray Rice’s assault on his then finance Janay.  Another video was just released showing what actually happened in that elevator and his contract with the Ravens has been terminated and he has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL.

Unfortunately some people don’t understand the severity of domestic violence until they see it with their own eyes.  They can be told she was knocked out but after seeing a man hit a woman that hard, it has much more of an emotional “Oh my God” impact.  Then people understand.  I don’t think he would’ve been fired if that video hadn’t gone public.  If the NFL saw it but no one else, I think they wouldn’t have said a word.  Public outcry is the only reason they terminated his contract and suspended him.

Even though that may be true, I don’t think the video should have gone public.  First of all, it makes the victim relive that moment over and over again.  Second, survivors should be in control of their own stories.  They determine when or if it is ok to talk about their assault and what details to share, not the media.  The survivor always has to be in the forefront of our minds, not the scandal or ratings.

I read yesterday Janay’s reaction, blaming the public and media for her husbands termination and it breaks my heart.  It was his conscious choice to hit her twice and knock her out, it was his fault.  I wish she could say “The media shouldn’t have made that video public, that is my story to share, not theirs.  It is a shame what happened to my husband, but he shouldn’t have hit me.  There is no excuse for that.  His decision made him lose his job” because that’s the truth. 

I was also reading on Twitter a wonderful hashtag #whyIstayed and #whyIleft.  I hope that really shines light on domestic violence.  I’ve read so many people saying she stayed for his money….there are a lot of reasons why a victims stays even if their partner doesn’t have a dime to their name.  It’s a strange mindset to be in a relationships with someone who hurts you or doesn’t respect you.  At the time it makes complete and total sense to you when the rest of the world wonders why.  Living in fear, living with someone where you always have to watch your back becomes an every day habit, you get used to being afraid like it’s something normal.  That’s the point where you feel so worthless than you actually believe you deserve the way you’re being treated, that you did something to cause your partner to treat you that way, so you just be careful as to not to set them off.  That becomes your life.

There have been some very positive changes in society and as we all work together we can make a difference, we can make a change and we can fight this.

Side note: There is still space at the seminar I’m hosting with Jessie on October 11th at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL.  If you’d like to register, please visit www.1is2many.eventbrite.com.  If you don’t live in the area but still want to make a difference, I’m doing a walk for Mutual Ground, a local domestic violence/sexual assault shelter and am currently fundraising.  If you’d like to contribute please click here.

♥ Meggie

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Hard Work Pays Off

For the last few months, I’ve been working my butt off.  A lot of things have happened recently.

First of all, the wonderful manager of WAR Chest took a well deserved trip.  So for the past 6 weeks, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work in the store on Friday’s.  It was so much fun!  I absolutely love talking to people and doing everything in the store!  I can’t think of one thing I dislike. 

She has also asked me to help plan events for the boutique, which I am so excited about!  Event planning is one of my favorite things to do.  It’s challenging, keeps me busy and I love coming up with creative new ideas! 

Not only that, I’ve been taking some photographs of volunteers as models.  This is something so new to me.  I love photography, but I don’t typically take photos of people so I’m learning the best ways to pose people and how to direct them to create the perfect shot.

Through that work with the boutique, I’ve been contacted by a local fashion blogger to potentially take photos for her blog!!  I should be meeting with her soon and I am so excited!  Also, a volunteer wanted to hire me to take photos of her grandsons.  How exciting is that?  I can maybe start making a little extra money doing something I love and continue to perfect my skills.  With student loans to worry about, any extra income would be wonderful.

I’ve taken over the Instagram account for Feral Fixers, a local cat rescue.  I’ve also been working more of their events and trying to help with marketing as best I can.  They’ve been working so hard to place so many cats and kittens in a home.   If you live in the Chicagoland area (especially Dupage County) check them out!

On top of that, I’m still doing a fundraising walk with my sister, my best friend Kristiii and my sister’s friend for Mutual Ground and I’ve just signed on to run a 5k for Traffick Free.

Finally, my pride and joy.  The last few months I’ve been working on a seminar to raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault.  I have been emailing back and forth with Benedictine University and finally scheduled a time and reserved a room.  They have been so immensely helpful, I can’t even put into words!  It’s been really long days and nights, scheduling photo shoots for marketing material, editing those photos, adding our information, writing event details, setting up accounts, sending out press releases hoping to be picked up by someone, creating contact lists and so much more. 

I’ve been working so hard to get everything together and it is finally happening!  So far 9 people have officially registered and we are hoping for many many more.  I am getting to the point where I am almost completely exhausted, but so excited at the same time.

If anyone is interested in coming you can register at www.1is2many.eventbrite.com

I can’t thank the people who have been helping enough and I’m so excited to see the outcome of this event! Keeping my fingers crossed!

♥ Meggie

Humboldt Has My Heart

Last week I got to go down to the city with my boyfriend and I really wanted to go down to Humboldt Park. For those of you who don’t know, Humboldt Park is a park but it’s also the name of a neighborhood on the West side of Chicago.  It was originally a German neighborhood, thus named after Alexander von Humboldt, but in the 1940s a massive influx of Puerto Ricans emigrated looking for work and it has been a Puerto Rican neighborhood ever since.  Even now, the population is almost 50-50 Black and Hispanic and the Hispanic population is almost 50-50 Mexican and Puerto Rican, but the Puerto Rican culture is still dominant.

Unfortunately, this is an area of extremely low-income, the median income being just over $28,000 which makes it very hard for families with children and the level of violence and gang activity is extremely high, it’s a very dangerous neighborhood to go to so I don’t go alone and I’m not there after 3pm.

Even though it’s a really tough neighborhood, I’ve fallen in love with it.  I think its beautiful neighborhood.  I love that the culture is still so important.  I would love to go to Fiesta Boricua, a celebration of Puerto Rican culture in the summer and other celebrations, like the one they have for Halloween!

I do have a favorite store though, it’s the only place I can get Florecitas, small Puerto Rican cookies that my boyfriend is convinced taste like Lucky Charms, but they don’t, they’re so much better.  They also have ajonjolí which literally means sesame seeds but they are a little candy that taste like a burnt tire.  My dad loves them though and so does my abuelo, I missed that gene I guess (and the one for coffee too!).

One really cool thing was that my boyfriend took me to a museum that I wanted to go to which is actually located in the park itself.  It is called the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts which is in the old Von Humboldt stables which are just massive, beautiful German architecture.  My Grandma remembers when the neighborhood was safer and they actually kept horses there.  She went on horseback rides in Humboldt Park when she lived in Chicago, that’s such a weird idea to me, seeing horseback rides in the city!

The museum is very small, it only had two exhibits, on of photographs from Ramon Frade Leon from Cayey, Puerto Rico.  The other exhibit was a Neo-Rican exhibit from Jaime Carrero.  The coolest piece of art was when you walked in the doors.  It was called Veveviejo by Antonio Martorell which took pieces from children’s and elderly faces and pieced them together all around the entrance to show the those who are forgotten, the youngest and the oldest in our society, they have the least amount of say.  It was really a beautiful.

There is so much more I want to see around the park, like a very small waterfall and just the rest of the park itself and shops and food!!  There are some wonderful organizations like Build, Inc. who work with at risk and gang affiliated youth (Visit their Facebook here and their website here).  Some people fear neighborhoods like Humboldt Park, you just have to be careful and know the better time to be there and enjoy the beauty of the neighborhood, the art that lines the building sides, the massive Puerto Rican flag that stand for the culture and people who live there and the food!  Humboldt Park will always have my heart, I just love it and I want to move there one day and work on making it safer place for the kids to grow up.

Halloween Tradition

Tomorrow is Halloween and honestly one of my favorite holiday.  As a kid, you can dress up and get free candy, it was almost better than Christmas! I have grown out of the trick-or-treating stage of my life, unfortunately, but now I can use Halloween to explore more of my heritage and culture.  I know it sounds weird but it’s when I can really be Irish. The mass immigration of Irish (and Scottish) immigrants brought the tradition overseas.  They celebrated Samhain Night which was a festival of the harvest and it symbolized the end of the season and the beginning of the winter.  On the night of the 31st however, Sam Hain opens the portal to the other world of fairies (and I don’t mean cute fries with pink dresses that give you cookies, read some Irish lore and you’ll see what fairies really are) and the dead.  Masks were used to scare away evil spirits.  The Irish carved turnips and potatoes to light the way of travelers and scare evil spirits and keep them from entering their home.   When the tradition was brought over to the United States, they started using pumpkins.  .

Every year my family and I carve pumpkins, at least I used to.  Two years ago I began to carve turnips and potatoes because pumpkins take forever, the insides are gross and I wanted to follow tradition, the tradition that my family would have followed in Ireland.  They are so easy and so much fun! So last year I branched out a bit from traditions and not only carved turnips but rutabagas, parsnips, various gourds and kiwis!  This year I only did turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, radishes and brussels sprouts.  I couldn’t find any good Kiwis.

Everything turned out perfect! The turnips were huge, I could fit a candle in them and watch the flames flicker through the holes I carved. Brussels Sprouts are a little difficult but completely worth it, looking like little aliens or ghouls with distorted faces, the ones that hide under your bed. 

I’ve never done radishes but decided to carve them into little skulls, which I’m going to keep out until the 2nd of November for Día de Los Muertos.  I’m not Mexican and Puerto Ricans don’t celebrate this holiday, but I just love the idea of celebrating loved ones who have passed away in that fashion, large floats and decorations and picture and memories all around the home and cemetery.  It’s so beautiful. 

I do have to warn you, if you ever decide to carve a rutabaga, first of all they are very hard to gut.  I just use one of those tools that you can scoop melon out with, it takes for ever and they smell AWFUL, but look really cool.  Also, I definitely don’t recommend potatoes and I have no idea how the Irish pulled that one off!  They turn brown and smell and are all around disgusting after about an hour or two.

I love being able to explore my culture and where my family came from.  I’m so proud of who I am because I am an American.  I’m an American because I’m this massive mix of different cultures, beliefs and nationalities and can be inspiried to follow so many interesting traditions.  This is just one very fun way I can share my culture with everyone else.  Parents who bring their kids up to our door will always comment on how neat all of the different carvings look and I can tell them, these ideas come from the original Irish celebration of Halloween.  I love being able to share my culture and my heritage because, especially in the States, we are all a mix of something and that is a beautiful thing.