What About Us?

It’s been a while since I’ve felt the need to blog.

Last week, they announced the verdict of the Eric Garner case which resulted in the officer not being charged.  My heart sank, tears came to my eyes and my mind searched for a reason why this happened.  Just as Jon Stewart pointed out, unlike the ambiguities of the Ferguson case, this case had none, zero.  It was on video, filmed, the murder of this man by a police officer. Clear cut.  Not surprisingly, this proof did nothing.

Police brutality affects us all, however, minorities suffer a much greater impact, loss of life, assault.  The thought that my family could be pulled over for a DWH (driving while Hispanic) or worse…and that is a terrifying thought to me.  My skin is white, I don’t look mixed so I don’t have to be afraid.

There is another reason why I came here to blog.  Lately, NFL players have been voicing their protest of Eric Garner’s trial and Ferguson.  They have entered the field with their arms raised, they have worn shirts saying “I can’t breathe” and that same sentence has been written on their shoes, wrist bands and more.

I applaud their protest, I love that they are using their voice to speak up not only for minorities, but against police brutality, for the families who voices are so limited.  They made the choice to make a public statement, using their status to change our society and I love that.

At the same time though, it makes me want to scream at them in anger, it makes me want to cry, it makes me want to shake them and look them in the eye and say what about us!  Why weren’t there any players using their voice when a woman was knocked unconscious by her partner, why weren’t there players using their voice when a woman was raped, why weren’t their players using their voice when a child was beaten?

For decades, the NFL has harbored, supported and covered up domestic violence and sexual assault cases.  Finally, in 2014, something is being done about it.  Their own organization supports perpetrators of violent crimes, crimes of physical assaults and sexual assault, crimes that kill women and children.  Every day, it is estimated that 3 women are murdered in the United States by an intimate partner.

How many women can’t breathe because the man they love grabs their throat and tightens his grip? How many women can’t breathe because he broke her ribs? How many women can’t breathe because every day they are in fear for their lives?  How many children can’t breathe through their tears of pain? How many women and children can no longer breathe because their life has come to an end?

The video of a woman being assaulted and knocked unconscious brought attention to the problem that has been going on in the NFL for decades.  Since 2000 alone, there have been over 70 domestic violence related arrests….Players now have been asked to or forced into participating in Domestic Violence commercials and campaigns, but no player has voluntarily offered up his voice in this fight. Before this season, no player has voluntarily used his actions or clothing during a game or practice to say that what the NFL has done for decades is wrong, that the perpetrators of these crimes, the abusers, the rapists, the murders, should be in jail.

Again, while I can support their protest, I also have the right to feel angry at them for ignoring the abusers in their own organization.

Through my partner, a die-hard Chargers fan, I have a new-found appreciation and love for this sport.  I haven’t missed a Chargers game all season.  Even when I’m at work, I watch it on my phone.

However, as a woman, I feel that this sport, like so many others, is purely for men where women are reduced to the color pink, the amount of cleavage we show and how short our skirts are.  I can’t help but feel  ignored and marginalized knowing that higher ups in this organization would rather hide and protect these abusers for a profit then do anything about it.  Even the players don’t want to take a stand….

All I can hope for, as in most cases, is that things do change and maybe, eventually, these athletes will volunteer their voices for all of the women who have been harmed or killed.  I hope they will fight for a change.

♥ Meggie

Challenges and Joys

There are just so many things I want to write about, just to get them down, challenges and wonderful times, both equally as important in my life.

My ex emailed me about 2 weeks ago.  I forgot he had my email address to be quite honest.  I blocked him on Facebook, never have my skype up anymore so I thought there was no way he could get in contact with me, but I forgot about email.  It scared me, made me anxious, stressed me out, really impacted me more than I expected.  I reached out immediately to 2 close friends and that temporarily helped.

I responded.  I shouldn’t have, but I did.  I fell right back into that mode, the mode of being a submissive woman, a woman terrified by the outcome of her words for fear of an angry response.  I had a rough weekend after that, he confirmed exceptionally hurtful things, things I already knew, I knew he was looking for women the entire time he was there but the fact that he confirmed it just really hurt.

The following week, I had to get away.  I just needed a break, some time to myself to find myself again, find my strength and tell myself once more he has no control over me and I don’t have to act like this anymore.  I talked to the guy I have been seeing and asked if he wanted to go with me.  I decided to drive up to Wisconsin for the day to the Dells area.  I have been going up there since I was little, it’s my second home.  I don’t stay in the Dells itself, I never do anything there to be quite honest.  I love the hiking and nature and emptiness.  Places like those are where I find myself again.

It was an incredible day.  I think he enjoyed it just as much as I did and I absolutely loved showing him everything. We hiked and climbed rocks, drove, listened to music.  He found this amazing bar to get some food at.  We smiled and laughed.  I found myself again.  All anxiety melted away and I was done with stressing over someone who hurt me.  It was an absolutely incredible day.

It’s so strange, the treatment is so different.  The guy I’m seeing now, he respects me and takes care of me at the same time without making me feel useless.  It’s always these little things, he’s always doing little things for me and I love that so much.  When I spend time with him and I tell friends about it, I can tell them I am happy and actually mean it.  I can tell them he respects me and not lie about it.  I can trust him and I haven’t been able to do that before.  He’s seen me at my worst and at my best in such a short period of time and that hasn’t scared him away yet! lol  I’m moving on in my life which I thought would be hard, but it’s not hard at all when you’re moving on from someone who never respected you or your body.

What I love about being around him the most is that he challenges me.  He constantly introduces me to new experiences and ideas, ways of thinking which I love.  He is unapologetically himself all the time and that is the most attractive thing about him.  I think that’s hard to find in a person at times because we tend to mold ourselves to society and if you’re with a person overly dominant, you mold yourself to what they want.  Nothing stops him, ever.  He is always thinking about the most random ideas, always saying the most interesting things so there’s never a dull moment around him.  Being around him is this wonderfully invigorating experience, simply addictive with his charm and wit.  Anyone he meets would be captivated by his energy and passion for the world around him.

That fact that things are going well between us makes me incredibly happy and I do feel beyond lucky to have him in my life, especially right now when things get hard.  Last night we were watching T.V. together, nothing special but I knew I had to go soon which I always hate.  Just looking at him it was almost like I was in a dream, like how could this possibly be real, as corny as this sounds, he’s so amazing.  I thought my last relationship was one of love and respect when it wasn’t at all, and now I go from that to being treated like a princess. It’s been a long time since I’ve not had to fight for attention or not trust, I feel like I’m in high school around my first crush! haha  Every time I see him I have butterflies, my heart races when he holds my hand or looks at me and give me that cute half-smile of his.

I still don’t know where this is going exactly.  Sometimes I wish I did, sometimes I wish he’d just tell me, look me in my eyes and tell me, but for the most part, I don’t mind the adventure, that’s ok with me.  I adore my time around him in whatever capacity it is.  I always feel safe around him and that’s the most important thing.  I am safe.

So that was my last two weeks in a nutshell.  I feel as though my healing will soon be complete.  I know there will be challenges and bumps along the way, but I know I can get through them, I know I am strong enough and I have an incredible support system if I ever feel too weak to go it alone.

I have not only risen from my ashes, but have found someone who, at least right now, in this moment, can join me on the adventure of my life.

♥ Meggie

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

One Crazy Ride

My life has turned into a hyper-driver, roller coaster of busy activities!  Remember that group I have mentioned in previous blogs Love Letters to Yourself, well I have turned into a volunteer Marketing & PR director, and I absolutely love it!  I work on everything from event planning, I run most of the social media accounts (you can follow us on Twitter and Pinterest), I work with communicating with groups to look for potential partners, promotion, advertising, you name it I do it.

It is rough sometimes, I already have a full-time job and I still volunteer with Feral Fixers and WAR Chest Boutique.  I am very tired, but I am just having so much fun!  I’ve been up late making origami butterflies and heart invitations, I am on social media sites trying to get a larger following, I just work, work, work.

Why do I work this much?  First of all, anything I do with Love Letters is done because that is what I love to do.  I love volunteering and Jillie’s organization can be applied to so many causes I’m so passionate about, from abused women to just the every day girl who doesn’t realize the amazing person she is.

Second of all, Jillie is just incredible!  She is so wonderful to work with, we brain storm, she listens to my ideas and anything I suggest or if I need help or a break she is always there.  Between my office job and this one, I have found the 2 greatest employers in the world!

For everyone reading this, if you live in the Chicago area, please come join us or spread the word about our celebration of International Day of the Girl on October 11th at the Dupage River Park from 3:30-7:30.

I never expected to be working with a group like this.  I am on one crazy ride in life and am loving every single twist and turn of the road that I’m on.

♥ 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

Guerrera, Yo soy (I am a Warrior)

On Wednesday I attended the launch party of the West Chicagoland Anti-Trafficking Coalition.  There were so many amazing ladies, and a few men, that attended to represent various groups!  The goals of the WCATC is to aid in networking between nonprofits, so we can all work as one, together to fight trafficking and to be a resource to the individuals and communities by planning and promoting various events and aiding in education of this problem.  This is a fantastic idea because it doesn’t help if we have so many wonderful groups but they aren’t connected?

Trafficking is a massive problem, even in developed countries.  The United States has a huge trafficking problem and it’s not just women being flown in from other countries, it is our women, and sometimes men, who are being trafficked within our borders. This is every country’s problem.  Most of these groups are Christian based, however if you are interested in doing something, don’t let that discourage you if you are not religious or Christian.  I am not Christian, I am not affiliated with any church.  One of the groups I work closely with, WAR (Women at Risk) does not discriminate in who they help nor do they push their beliefs on someone who doesn’t readily accept them.  They will help people of any sexual orientation or religious background and do offer Bible teachings, however they do not force them.  Just keep that in mind because I know someone people bristle when they discover the religious affiliation of some of these organizations.  I’m going to list some events that I am doing and some are very easy to do too, even if you don’t live in the Chicagoland area.

Traffick  Free                                                                                                                         In September I am going to run a 5k for Traffick Free with my best friend.  The gift you receive for participating is a bracelet that has a very special charm that contains an I.D. number for a girl.  This girl is a real girl who was rescued from trafficking and you can learn about her story.  The money raised goes to Traffick Free so they can continue doing their work!

Free the Girls                                                                                                                   Also In September I am participating in a bra drive!  Why am I doing this?! I’ll tell you why and this is something I just learned too!  The second hand clothing market in some of these lessor developed countries is huge! Bras are not only a source of income but they can also be a symbol of status, which I didn’t know.  This allows women to work for other women which can be very beneficial when some countries treat women like second class citizen, if they are even that lucky.  In many cases livestock has greater importance than a wife.  By working for women, they can avoid being under the control of a man.  Women can earn up to 5 times minimum wage by selling bras!

The group that we are going to do the drive for is called Free the Girls.  This is how they describe their sustainable model. “Once a program has been started with a safe house, it is designed to sustain itself. The women receive their starting inventory of bras at no cost, then pay a small amount of money for additional bras once they sell their initial inventory. This money is used to cover the expenses for the next shipment of bras. That means we only raise money to start new projects, not to keep established projects going.”  This means that the women become independent and don’t have to rely on a nonprofit for continued help!  You can always mail your bras too!

Educate yourself!  Search for information and if you ever need any info, you can always ask me as well.  Education is powerful, education can save these girls and boys but also help us figure out the best way to stop trafficking.  Education can bust myths like men only traffick women or women are the only victims, which is not true at all.  Trafficking is only for sex slaves. Wrong again.  Trafficking is bondage, if you don’t want to be there or are not getting paid, you are a slave, a sex slave, a slave in bonded labor, it doesn’t matter.  Slavery still exists in many forms.

There are so many amazing books!!  Half the Sky:Turning Oppression into Opportunity is an amazing place to start.  It gives a great overview of the problem, not only the problem with sex trafficking but also bonded labor, maternity risks and so much more.  It is detailed but manages to combine hard facts with true stories of women we can rally behind and say “Oh My God, she is amazing, she fought all of that on her own!” and it give us men who we can say “Wow, look how he stopped what was going on, I can do that too.”

I have had the pleasure of meeting Shayne Moore at the Launch party and received a copy of her book Refuse to do Nothing.  I’m reading it now and I love it.  I can write a review on that later if you’d like.  She is an amazing captivating women and I’m so excited to start her book!

Also, Girl Rising an AMAZING documentary will be shown on CNN, June 16th at 9ET.  I had the pleasure of viewing it in April and it was honestly incredible.  It was put together in such an amazing way, with narrations by Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson, hard statistics and amazing stories of young girls.  I don’t think I ever wrote about that either, so that will be coming soon!  It is moving and powerful and will make you want to fight, just like these girls did.  I highly recommend it and if you can’t watch it at that time,  record it and watch it later.  You could even throw a viewing party to show others!

Women at Risk                                                                                                                     As most of you know, I was an intern for a branch of Women at Risk.  I worked at WAR Chest Boutique in Naperville, a nonprofit boutique.  Everything in the store is made or source by a woman rescued from trafficking or an at risk woman.  I am hosting a jewelry part on July 16th at 6:30.  If anyone would like to come and learn more about WAR or trafficking and come shop with us, you are welcome! Just RSVP to mzayas@warinternational.org.  Drinks and snacks will be provided and it’s going to be a fun night of shopping!

Again, if you ever have questions or want to learn more, I know tons of resources that I have learned about while working at a trafficking nonprofit.  Just think of the impact you could make for a child or a woman, even if you donate your clothing and ask friends to do the same.  If trafficking isn’t your cause then support whatever you wish just always educate yourself about the problem so you can support the best solution.  Just think of the small things too, you don’t have to donate thousands of dollars, just when you clean out your closet!  Every small thing counts porque guerreros somos (because we are warriors).

♥ Meggie