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

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Stop the Victim Blaming

I was just reading this article about an ESPN reporter who went off about the Ray Rice situation.  For those of you who don’t know, Rice is a professional football player accused of knocking his then fiancée out and dragging her unconscious body into an elevator.  As of right now, his punishment is a 2 game suspension.

Stephen Smith begins by saying how deplorable it is for any man to lay his hand on a woman. He talks about how he would involve law enforcement.  A good start right? but then things get infuriating…

He continues to talk about thing he would tell women which would be “let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions” because we all know that in an abusive situation, the victim (man or woman) has obviously done something bad enough to be beaten.  WRONG!

Another reporter, Michelle Beadle, began to speak out against his ridiculous statement so he defended himself.  He reiterated that domestic violence is wrong, that no one should ever do it but of course he follows that up ” But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong being done upon them?”  Are you being serious right now?  He obviously has no comprehension as to what an abusive relationship is.

I think if people could prevent domestic violence, no one would be in that situation in the first place….  Women’s actions do NOT cause an intimate partner to become violent with them.  Men’s actions do NOT cause an intimate partner to become violent with them.  How are they supposed to prevent it? Please do share with the world your preventative measures.  I’m sure we’d all love to hear them.

Do they include not dating a violent person?  Well, the thing is, with domestic violence perpetrators, victims don’t know they’re violent until they are already in the relationship.  Perpetrators don’t act violent toward everyone they know and they can be the most charming men/women you will ever meet.

Is another preventative measure to not be around them if they are under the influence of alcohol?  Well, alcohol does NOT cause domestic violence.  Alcohol, as everyone knows, lowers inhibitions and makes it easier for true personality to come out.

Domestic violence is about control over a person.  Victims can be men or women and perpetrators can be men or women.  Victims can feel lost, hopeless and worthless.  They can also feel as though they deserve these actions when in fact they don’t at all or they can feel that if they love them enough, the abuse will change.  No two victims feel the same way.

Let’s just remember though, a victims does nothing to deserve violence, a victims does nothing to provoke violence and any decision a victim makes really has no relation to violence.  If a partner is willing to lay their hands on the person they say they love, there is no reason for that ever and therefore women (or men) do NOT need to make sure they don’t provoke the actions of an abuser.

I truly don’t think he will ever understand why his statement was so wrong but this is why we need to continue to raise awareness of issues like domestic violence. We need to teach our young men and women what domestic violence and sexual assault is so our future generations don’t grow up saying statements like this.

♥ Meggie

Be Strong, Speak up and People Will Listen

My Senior year of high school was full of AP classes, college courses that I was taking to try to eliminate courses I would need when I actually got into college.  Everyone in my school took Psych AP.  EVERYONE.  They all said the teacher was fantastic, the course itself was so interesting and best of all most of my friends would end up in my class with me!

In high school, I wasn’t the activist I was now.  I thought a lot of things and wanted to get involved but I never really had the confidence to do so.  I remained silent.

The very first day in my Psych class, we went through the usual introductions and met our outspoken teacher.  He was the kind of teacher full of energy and willing to push the rules a slight bit….

We began our very first class discussion about the differences between men and women.  As he lectured the topic slowly shifted to the reasons why men’s sports were much better than women’s.  Men were more entertaining and better athletes.  He just went on and on and on, bringing up ‘facts’ about how all the major games are men’s sports, the majority of the money from the school is received by the men’s teams, maybe if women’s teams were better athletes, they’d have more viewers, women’s sports were a joke.

I sat there stunned.  My heart was racing and more than anything I wanted to just scream at him, how dare he say that?  Those were blatantly sexist statements!  Women’s sports were a joke???????  I just sat there dumbfounded with my mouth open, looking around to see if anyone else was as surprised as I was and I wasn’t alone.

He continued bringing up what he called ‘facts’ and finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  He said “women aren’t even in racing because they can’t do it.” and that was my last straw.  As many of you know, I was raise around Drag Racing and was always well aware of how women were viewed in the sport.

My hand shot into the air.  It was like it flew up all on its own, I had absolutely no control over it.  He paused and looked at me and said yes?  I told him “You know you’re wrong.  Shirley Muldowney began racing cars in the 1970s, she was a top fuel driver and men in the sport told her to get back to the kitchen where she belonged but she never listened to them and beat them.  Rhonda Hartman-Smith was another woman racing top fuel, Angelle Sampey races motorcycles and Melanie Troxel is coming back into the sport.  Who told you women can’t race cars?”

It just came out of my mouth and there was no way to stop it.  Just like my hand, it was a knee-jerk reaction, it just happened.  I had never spoken out like this to anyone, ESPECIALLY to a teacher or any adult in an authoritative position.  That statement stopped the few boys from laughing in the class and several more girls began to speak out.  However, it didn’t phase our teacher at all, he tried to argue with me and just make a complete joke of what I had just said.

The worst class in the entire world finally ended and I just unleashed my thoughts about this teacher to my friends who were with me.  How could everyone like him so much when he is so rude and narrow minded!!?? 

That night I went on my computer and made a list starting in the early 1900s of women in racing and their accomplishments, stapled it together and was ready for battle the next class period.

We all sat down, waiting and then he entered the room.  He started by saying he wanted to talk about yesterday’s lecture and I prepared to raise my hand again.  Then he dropped the bomb, it was an experiment, he didn’t actually believe any of what he said.  My mind was blown.  He went on to explain different concepts that applied to reactions by the class.  Then we continued our studies. He was not the horrible sexist monster I had battled with the day before!  He ended up being one of the greatest teacher I had during my high school career.

At the end of class, I went up to him and I told him I almost dropped the class! He told me that I surprised him, I seemed quiet and not the person to speak out first.  I laughed and presented him the list I made the night before to which he laughed and leafed through the pages.  He said “I like your dedication, you’re smart, you know how to argue.”

It was a long while after my senior year in high school, not until my senior year in college, that I remembered that I have a voice too.  I can speak my mind, I can argue intelligently about topic.  Instead of living a life of self doubt, lacking the confidence to say what we feel, we should all remember how capable we are and how our actions affect those around us.  I was the first to speak up in class during this experiment and after me other girls followed.  What if I had said nothing?  Would anyone have tried to say something?

Change happens when one person speaks.  That’s all that is needed, one person to raise their hand.  I’m not saying I changed the world in the slightest by that class room demonstration.   However people often say 2 things to me

1.Why do you keep talking about this stuff, nothing you do is going to change anything.

2. You should really just stop talking about this stuff.  Stop pulling out the feminist card (latina card, white card and the list goes on, who knew I was carrying so many cards with me?) every 5 seconds.  The only reason these problems like exist is because people of you keep going on and on and on and on about them.  If you just stop people will forget about it and they will be fine.

Each time these things are said to me, I remember that when one person speaks, those with similar beliefs go to them and then a group is formed.  That group grows and grows and grows until major changes are be made.  That is a fact.

I will never stay silent because as a society have the ability to change.  We have come so far, but there’s more to be done, not only in the states but around the world where women aren’t so lucky.

Don’t let lack of support or criticism of your voice ever stop you.  Be strong, speak up and people will listen.

♥ Meggie

My Birds

I volunteer at a local bird rescue as often as I can.  I do a lot of the decorating in the front of the building, sometimes I get to take photos of the birds for the Facebook page or I’m on cleaning duty.

The best part about this rescue is that most of the birds are just out of the cages.  When they open, all the large birds, the Blue Gold Macaws, Green Winged Macaws, Cockatoos, African Grey Parrots, Blue Fronted Amazons, Yellow Naped Amazons and a few others get to hang out, they stay on the top of their cages for the most part.  There are a couple Blue Gold Macaws that wander (Kiwi and Al), they go into their corner to play with boxes set up for them.  Some of the small bird, like Cockatiel and Conure enjoy sitting on your shoulder as you work.

I was able to visit the rescue this past Sunday and my day consisted of Winston (the Green Winged Macaw) throwing a green bean at me, Pepe (a Blue Fronted Amazon) biting me as I tired to feed him a banana and Jellybean (Blue Gold Macaw) attempting to bite me every time I walked by his tree branch.  However, Morgan (a Green Winged Macaw) was a doll and hopped right up on my finger to hang out for a bit and Al (Blue Gold Macaw) waved at me instead of putting up her usual territorial display!  I loved every second of my time there and after visiting so many time, I know all of the bird and their personalities.

For some reason every single blue gold macaw (Kiwi, Al, Jellybean) in there hates me.  They try to bite me, chase me, spreading their massive wings wide attempting to look large and intimidating, their heads low, ready to charge.  The Blue Fronted Amazons (Pepe and Pablo), they dislike everyone, they weren’t trained properly and therefore aren’t incredibly sociable, but for some reason, they like me.  I can feed them, they’ll talk to me, let me get close, I’ve only been bit once by them.  They are my babies and if I lived alone, I would take them both home, mean temperament and all.

A woman came in yesterday and was asking me about the birds and she asked if she could pet any and I told her it was up to them. They all have different personalities.  I told her about the birds that hated me and the ones that loved me.  She asked why?  I told her they’re just like people, they have their own thoughts and feeling and idea, if they don’t like someone they just don’t, just like people and this concept was almost too much for her to process, as if she thought birds were these stupid creature that had no ability to think as people do.

We often simplify an animal, chalk up their intelligence to mimicking and luck, but they are very individual, thoughtful creatures.  You could put all 3 Blue Gold Macaws next to each other and they all look different and they all act different, I could tell all of them apart very easily.  Animals are just like us and as people forget that which is why I think it is so easy for some to abuse or neglect their animals and just as easy for people to be shocked at how ingrained an animal can become in a family.

I highly recommend volunteering at an animal shelter, for any type of animal.  It’s such a rewarding feeling working with all of the animals and you have the chance to learn so much.  I am so excited to go back, there’s a lot of work to be done!

Do you volunteer anywhere?

♥ Meggie

Second Thoughts and Letting Go

What do you do in that moment when you start second guessing yourself? Part of you feels as though you’re being unreasonable, there are all these signs, moment that simply prove you wrong. How dare you over think, over analyze this!

However there is this feeling, something from deep inside of you, like a small ember starting to burn, of self doubt. This horrible creeping fear that you are actually wrong, you shouldn’t have trusted, you shouldn’t have believed this.

Thats the problem with us, we sometime lose ourselves in our fear. We let that ember grow into a raging inferno and it completely negates the positive moment we’re in. Why do we sabotage ourselves like this?

That’s a question I always ask myself, just like I’m doing right at this very instant. I don’t know why I over think things. Sometimes I’m just so incredibly afraid that I’m wrong, that this is simply too good to be true, that what I have, that moment that I’m in, it’s not as real for the other person as it is for me.

I’ve always been anxious, I’ve always worried, but when it came to relationships with the people around me, that was never a concern of mine. I was always able to trust without fear, without second thoughts. I think this is just one of the remnants if what I had to go through because I always knew he wanted other girls, that he was constantly looking, that he never cared about me therefore it was always a concern. I could never trust him, especially when he told me he only wanted me. When you hear that so many times, the words just become empty, no matter who says them. My biggest fear is to be lied to by someone I care about, I would prefer anything in the entire world rather than being lied to.

So right now, blogging on my phone, in an apartment that isn’t mine, I am suddenly gripped by this fear and I hate it. I want to trust like before and I know that will happen again, eventually, but until then, this is frustrating. So maybe by sharing my thoughts, writing them as I experience them, I can silence my busy mind and release my tension, anxiety and second thoughts.

The first thing to do, well the first thing I always do when I feel any negative emotion, fear, sadness, anxiety, nervousness, is acknowledge what I’m feeling. I don’t ignore it, I don’t pretend its not happening. I open my self up to it and take a second to think why am I feeling this way? Is it really what I should be feeling? To be honest most of the time that answer is no and at that moment I it let go. If that doesn’t work, I write it down, more of physical release rather than a mental one.

So now it’s time to let go and enjoy my evening. Thanks for listening!

Meggie

I Want the World

Aside

The day I wrote my love letter, revised my love letter to myself was a day of change.  That day marked the moment I return to my body, when my soul found its light.

In the past 2 years, my soul has dimmed to an ember, only to burn slightly when stroked by my few passions. My work with WAR or Mutual Ground, those moments would breathe life back into my body, a temporary fix to a never-ending problem.

The problem was me losing myself and I didn’t even know it.  I lived a life of happiness only defined by the fake stories I shared with the world, the stories of perfection I painted in bright vivid colors that dazzled all who heard my sliver tongue lie lie lie lie lie.  I’ve always been a good liar, something I had to learn as a child was unacceptable.  Apparently now, I’ve become such a good liar that every sweet fake truth that dripped from my mouth sent me into the poisonous world I had created for everyone else to see.  What I wanted to be true was what I was seeing.  That world would never exist, no matter how much love I put in to build it.

I have slowly been rebuilding myself and have been doing incredibly well.  Not quite a phoenix for the flames, that metaphor is too often used and too majestic, more like the remodeling of a house.  Nice to look at from the outside, but the inside needs work and those repairs take time.  Last week though, last week it was just one of those “Ah ha!” moments, the moment when all those interior projects piece themselves together to look like something amazing, a moment that shocked your system like a punch, hard, quick and lethal, complete with stars and birds twittering about your head.  Sometimes that punch hurts, but it gets the job done.  I mean you sometimes have to use that sledge hammer to get the wall down before you can finish the job.  It shook me out of what was left of my daze and snapped my soul back into place, sending light through my body.

Now I can breathe without this weight on my chest, let my lungs fill with dreams, hope, confidence and faith that I had stored away. I am dying to travel, just get out of here, take a road, any road and go west.  Experience things I haven’t before,  to go out on one of those metaphorical limbs, the highest one I can find and hang upside down just to get a different perspective of life.  My world has shifted back, my world is untainted by the lies which hung from every inch of my being, my world is light.

I have the urge to go out to nowhere and just camp, camp on top of the earth and underneath the stars.  I want the insects and birds to sing me to sleep, the breath of the earth to tousle my hair, the remaining kisses from the sun to warm my body, the moon and star light to dance upon my skin.

I want to drive upon a road I have never been on, winding up into the mountains or dead ending at the ocean, flat and fast on the prairie, hot and untouched in the desert.  I want to talk to people I don’t know, meet new people in new places, see small towns, get away from this big city.  I want to dance and sing my way through my life as I had done before, dreams pulling me forward, lessons pushing me from the past.

Again, once more, I want the world, therefore I shall take it.

♥ Meggie

My Revised Love Letter

I have written a Love Letter to myself in the past, you can read that if you click here.  However, life goes on.  We change, have new experiences, meet new people that change our perception and grow as individuals.  Therefore, our love and our life is in constant flux and that is wonderful.  That is what makes life stunning and mysterious and wonderful.  For a while I lost sight of that, so to refocus, I decided to revise my love letter

Dear Me,

The first part of your original letter, keep that, but really believe it this time.  You rock those stilettos, dresses, business suits, jeans, leather jacket or sweatpants. Don’t change your style and embrace your body, love your body.  It does so much for you!  Keep laughing and smiling.  You have a wonderful laugh.  You have this incredible ability to smile in the hardest times and get through it.  You’re a survivor and you always have been so get it together girl!  Get it together and really laugh again!

I know you’re anxious, that’s ok to an extent.  It’s ok to be cautious at times, but just let life flow, stop over analyzing, stop over thinking.  Lay back and enjoy this stunning ride before you miss every second of it!  You always get so caught up on flipping to future pages, trying to see what is going to happen next, trying to make sure you won’t get hurt or can trust who you’re with, you’re going to miss what’s right in front of you!  You don’t have to be like that anymore. 

You are surrounded by people now who love you, people who care about you so let go of the person who hurt you.  I know you couldn’t trust him, I know you couldn’t feel safe around him and I know it’s hard to get through it, but you have to let it go.  Learn from the past so it doesn’t repeat itself and move on.  The people who you are with now ARE NOT HIM.  They don’t hurt you, they don’t lie to you, they don’t deceive you.  They take care of you, they protect you, they listen to you, they support you, they care about you and that is the most important thing in life, to be surrounded by people like that.  You have the most amazing friends in the entire world.  Don’t push them away because you over think, just enjoy it, enjoy them and love them back with all of your heart.  Please don’t lose sight of what is right in front of you because you’ll end up losing that and that will be one of the biggest mistakes of your life.  What will happen will happen and everything will always be ok.  Do you know why? Because your past is NOT your future.

I know those are things you have to work on, but I’ve also seen so much growth in the last few months.  I see you’re returning to the woman you used to be..  What I mean by “you’re returning to the woman you used to be” is not that you have become stagnant as a person because you haven’t, you have changed and grown and met new people who have enriched your perspectives.  What I mean is that your love for the world is coming back, your thirst & NEED for travel, your confidence, your strength.  At times you back down, you go back to this meek, passive shell of a woman you were for 2 years so stop that!  Stay strong.  The people around you love that about you, and I most importantly I love that about you!  I love your strength, intelligence, adventurous nature, curiosity.  To be honest, you’re pretty freaking awesome so stop holding that back and just go for life like you used to!  Keep growing, keep changing but never lose the core of your being, your passion, your drive, your confidence and if someone can’t deal with that then they aren’t worth your time. That is what I love the most about you and what I always have loved the most.

Here are some final thoughts that I want you to remember every single day.

1. Don’t lose yourself again, you lost yourself for over 2 years.  The core of your being is a strong, loving, loyal, confident, intelligent, stunning young woman who has the entire WORLD in front of her to explore!  You are too young to waste any more of your time lost, come back to me because I love that about you.

2. Always accept change. As people we grow and change so embrace it!

3. STOP OVER THINKING! You’re just going to push people away and stress yourself out to the point where you aren’t healthy.  Both of those outcomes aren’t good for anyone at all.  Marvel in the wondrous mystery that’s in front of you.  You’re happy, why should anything else matter?  You are so happy you can’t even use words to describe it so why think more of it?  Don’t push people away and don’t stress yourself out.  Just love what you  have.

4. Don’t lose sight of your life.  You are doing what YOU LOVE.  Not everything is perfect quite yet, you live at home, insurance isn’t really your thing but time changes those.  Those things are easy to change.  You have PASSION and INSPIRATION!  Those are things people have a hard time coming by and when you lose those, then that’s just not living.  Seriously, have you looked at what you’re doing? Have you looked at the people you’ve helped, you’ve impacted, the work you do? How many people get a chance to truly do what they love and be passionate about it?  Far too few that’s for sure.  You are one in a million who has the confidence to fight for and work at what you love.  Never stop fighting.

5. Also can you be just a bit less stubborn?  Stand your ground, but in other situations you can afford to be a bit less stubborn. 🙂

6. Start really dreaming again, not just kinda dreaming, like you have been for too long, but really DREAMING like you used to.  Fill your head with hope and faith and take a deep breath and jump in.  Get out of this country, go to a new city, camp, backpack, swim in the ocean, crawl through a cave, see the world’s largest ball of twine!  Nothing it out of reach, remember? That’s what you used to say to yourself so start saying it again.

7. Most importantly, I want you to say this to yourself, to us, every single day.  You are amazing, you are to be valued, you are to be respected and that means by you too. Don’t discount yourself or think you aren’t capable of something because you are capable of anything and everything.  Look at what you’re doing, look at what you’ve been through, look at the kind of person you are.  Value yourself, love yourself and don’t ever lose sight of you again. I’ve missed you far too much.

I look forward to reading the next chapter of your life.

With all of my love,

Meggie