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

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

Get Your Priorities Straight!

Everyone heard about the VMA, ranting and yelling about the Miley Cyrus & Robin Thicke performance.  That was warranted, it was a ridiculous plea for attention, and very sad when you think about it since a young women feels as though she needs to act like that to stay in the light.  I even wrote a blog about Robin Thicke, how he didn’t receive any of the blame when he also did things that just shouldn’t be tolerated.

However, this didn’t need to be broadcasted for days.  I believe it was trending on Twitter until Tuesday or Wednesday, news stations were writing about that, it was on T.V. News, then articles about how to twerk and benefits of twerking are coming out.  Really?!

Now let me tell you something that wasn’t trending on Twitter, that wasn’t plastered all over Facebook, that was probably briefly mentioned in the news.  6 people were shot the weekend of the VMA’s in Chicago including a 11 year old girl and a 14 year old boy who was killed.  So I’m really glad that everyone discovered that Miley Cyrus’ butt looked like a turkey because that is clearly much more important.

Don’t get me wrong, it is fine to discuss celebrity gossip & events.  It was a surprising performance and there were mixed reactions and opinions, that is fine, but do we really need 3 days on Twitter about it?  Her name is still trending today, it’s Friday!!  Not only is that exactly what she wanted to happen & rewarding her bad behavior, but there are more important things in this world to talk about!

The growing level of apathy in society is shocking to me.   Just a few days ago, I heard someone say “Oh no!  Who cares about that stuff in Syria, my gas prices are going up!”.  Really?  1,300 people were just killed and you are worried about your gas prices?  Also, this person has no trouble affording gas, let me tell you.

Our society needs to start prioritizing events that occur in this world.  Talk about celebrities, but focus on what truly matters in this world, like when children are being shot and people are being killed!  So many horrible things in this world get ignored because so and so wore an odd outfit.  Sometimes I do worry about my generation, the me generation, because we focus so much on us us us us.  It is time that people start looking outside of themselves and try to feel what others are going through in the world.

♥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

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

So I had this entire post already written about the Trayvon Martin case discussing race in America and how I have felt only the slightest bit of hatred from both European Caucasians and Hispanics since I’m mixed but look European.  I was going to talk about how I was lucky that I don’t have to deal with so much discrimination and how you shouldn’t judge others but always be away of how you portray yourself.  Then I deleted the entire thing

I decided instead to talk about the protests.  I support these protests 100%.  I think this decision was a terrible decision and Zimmerman needs to be behind bars without doubt.   I don’t like the precedent this ruling sets at all.  I might go down and join the protest this weekend in Chicago.

However, along with these beautiful peaceful protests, there are small groups, violent groups, destroying property and attacking people.  One group attacked a Hispanic man because of his race.  If you are saying Martin was racially profiled, why are you racially profiling another man?  Zimmerman killed Martin, not all Hispanics.  The same with all of this destruction of property.  If you are black (or of any race really) and don’t want to be label as violent or assumed to be a criminal, why would you go around destroying property, hurting people, being violent criminals which only proves the stereotype of your race is correct??  You should be marching peacefully with your peers, showing that no, we are not criminal, we are not violent and you cannot put these labels on all of us!  We will no longer be judged by our color because you are wrong!

There is a quote I read this morning said by Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”.

This is what some people don’t understand.  Yes be angry that you are discriminated against, be angry that people actually believe that because people share a race, they are all the same, that others believe these stereotypes, be angry but do not let that anger consume you because a life lived in anger is wasted.  Turn that anger into something productive, change that into motivation saying “I will not be part of this stereotype.”  I know that is easier said than done, but organize, get people together and march peacefully or if you live in a neighborhood plagued with violence maybe you can organize a community building event.

Again, I know that is so much easier said than done, but you cannot let your anger turn you into a stereotype because then you are just making everyone who believed in that stereotype say “well see what they’re doing?  I was right! They are all violent!”

Don’t let people knock you down, don’t let them define the person you are.  When you react in anger and violence you are letting them push you into who they believe you are.  Not only that you prove nothing and you accomplish nothing.  What will they remember when you get out of jail for beating someone or destroying property?  Oh those where the kids that broke into Walmart, those are the kids who beat up my dad or husband or the news reporters.  What will you tell your kids?  “Oh I beat up some Latino because a completely unrelated Latino killed a black kid because he assumed he was a criminal.”  Do you really want to tell your kids that??  Or do you want to say, “this is what happened when I was your age and I marched in protest because this is wrong!  We should not be characterized like this and I stood up against it!”

Hatred and anger only breed more hatred and anger and that is the same with goodness and light in this world.  You accomplish more in this world through peace and love.  It might not change the court’s decision, however people will see maybe this was wrong, these protests are all peaceful, why do we judge these people?  Think of how you want to be remembered, as the person who threatened an innocent man because of his race (which is the reason you are mad in the first place) or as the person who stood strong with others who shared your beliefs and pain and anger, but stood in peace?

♥ Meggie

Todos Somos Jose Enrique (We are all Jose Enrique)

I was on Facebook today and all of these photos started popping up saying “Todos Somos Jose Enrique”.  I did a quick Google search and read that Jose Enrique was a publicist in Puerto Rico who has become yet another victim of the ever increasing amount of violence to afflict the island, mi isla del encanto, la isla dondé tengo familia (the island where I have family).  Jose Enrique was found after being beaten to death and his body consumed in flames.  If you haven’t read any of my past blogs I’m 25% Puerto Rican (as well as Irish, German and a bit Scottish) and extremely proud of all of my heritage, so this story really speaks to mi corazon, mi alma (my heart, my soul).

Puerto Rico has always been plagued with violence and I have been told so many wonderful and terrifying stories by my Abuelo about what is was like growing up on the island and how different it was and is now from the United States.  Now an entire social media movement has started to protest the violence and speak out.  Not too long ago a famous boxer, Hector Camacho, was shot too and there have been more before that, famous and not.

It’s true, we ARE all Jose Enrique whether we live in Puerto Rico, the U.S., Mexico, another country, another continent.  What’s the difference?  This year alone over 1,100 people have been murdered on the island, 228 have been murdered in Chicago alone (which is more than have died in Afghanistan this year) and what about in places like Mexico?  Everywhere has violence and we as people in general do little to stop it.  We are all Jose Enrique because we all have the ability to become victims or to become those who mourn the loss of a mother, father, sister, brother, friend.

This is not just the fight of Puerto Ricans, this is not the fight of Mexicans, Columbians, Aisans, Africans, Europeans, Americans, this is all of our fights because we all have the ability to do something.

This just brings me to tears, honestly, knowing that this is going on, in my Chicago, in Puerto Rico, all over the world and so many think they can do nothing or areas with more violence aren’t worth it.  Any person, any child, any adult, anyone is worth everything, to have the chance to live and breathe and wake up every single morning feeling safe and happy.  We all have to take action, speak out.  Don’t look at areas and say they don’t deserve it, it’s too dangerous to go help and they made the choice so they’re not worth it.  The people being killed, the youth that could be saved from gangs, the children and young adults that can be taken out of a gang, the innocent lives living in these areas, they ARE you because we as people are all important, it doesn’t matter where we live or what we look like or your situation in life.

Just imagine if everyone in the Chicago area (there’s over 2 million people in the city alone) donated $5 to a positive youth organization or donated their time or special talents and in every other city the people did the same thing.  Can you imagine what a beautiful effect that would have on so many lives?!  Or even just going down to these lower-income areas and buying something from a local store or restaurant and supporting local businesses there (or anywhere for that matter).  Really just take a minute to actually think about that and really let it soak in, every country, every city all of those people.  ¡Basta ya! (Enough already!) Let’s end this these horrible things happening in our neighborhoods, cities, everywhere!

Just do something, act, listen and educate yourself on problems in the world whether it is gang violence, animals, human trafficking whatever you have a passion for don’t just sit there DO SOMETHING!  Learn about the best solutions for those situations (I highly recommend reading Damned Nations by Samantha Nutt because that really puts a new light on nonprofits).  Donate $100 or $5, donate your time at events or spread the word!  Post a Facebook status but don’t let awareness fade!  Everyone, people as a group, ALL of us have this amazing ability to move mountains when we work together, when we don’t put boundaries on where we are from, what we look like or our situation in life.  You doing something can have such a powerful effect, even if it is just one life, that is one life who can raise a family in a better situation just because of YOU!

Join together, help me, help your neighbors, friends, family and fellow human beings porque todos somos Jose Enrique (because we are all Jose Enrique), we all want to live in a world where there isn’t violence and we all have the ability to become victims.  You are just once person in the world, but one person can make a world of difference.  We can do this, but we all need your help because we can’t do it alone.

Sweet Home Chicago

I’ve grown up in the suburbs of Chicago my entire life.  I never really like the city when I was younger, but I’ve gain a love of my home, especially after all of my travels.  Some cities are good for a break, other are good for business and other for parties.  Chicago has everything!  It has museums, one of the greatest music scenes ever, bars, clubs (if that’s your thing) and places to just enjoy some sun at the beach (unless you’ve been spoiled by the ocean and expect the water to actually be warm).  Its so beautiful and we have the Bean, it’s pretty cool.

The neighborhoods, the areas that aren’t in tourist guide books, are separated by different groups, as they are in most cities.  I love going to Humboldt, though because of it being a dangerous area I don’t stay long and go in the mornings.  It’s one place where you can find Puerto Rican food in a grocery store.  In the suburbs, there aren’t any places that sell Puerto Rican food and being part Puerto Rican, I love my florecitas and other food!  Logan Square also had this great restaurant, Cocina Boricua.  So good! I just love it!

The city is a beautiful place, a wonderful place, especially if you live or go to the parks and museums or in the suburbs or some scattered neighborhoods.  Other areas though, areas like Humboldt Park are dangerous, very dangerous.  In these past years, the violence has gotten even worse in the city, not just in Humboldt Park, everywhere.  Last night there were 19 people injured in shooting and that is just so sad and shouldn’t be happening.

A lot of the violence I don’t understand, whether it is gang violence which Chicago is renown for or other.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand it.  It makes me so sad, so sad that there is such little value of life.  I honestly can’t even imagine taking another persons life, or trying to, just because of where they live or something like that so insignificant like that.  I can’t even kill a bug that’s in my house, rescue them and put them outside!

With all of the beauty that the city holds, I think people forget that there are many problems, not just problems, unacceptable conditions where people, innocent people have to raise their children and keep them safe from those who cause violence.  Others are left with no hope or choice.  It breaks my heart to think of that and it breaks my heart that it seems like people forget about all of that or sometimes I feel like it’s just another news story or people don’t realize how bad the violence problems are.  I know I can’t relate because I’ve never lived in areas plagued with violence, I’ve never experienced that fear.  I talked to a women born and raised in Humboldt Park and she told me she couldn’t go out at night and they had their windows broken by various things quite often.  That’s not how a child should grow up.

Something has to be done and support has to be given.  I’ve focused my support in the form of an organization called Build, Inc. but there are so many ways to get involved through various organizations.  Always do your research though, find out about who runs an organizations and how they set up their plans to help.  The more information you have, the more power you have to help.  Don’t think that you can’t make a difference, that you don’t live there so you can’t help or just pass a story like this by in a newspaper and say “That’s horrible” and move on to the sports page.  It’s not just a story, these are people’s lives, children being killed in useless violence.  In March a 6 year old was shot on her fron porch, things like that shouldn’t happen and it’s not just a story, that is a live that has been extinguished so easily by another. There is never something that you can’t have help and it doesn’t matter where you live, Chicago, L.A., the suburbs even another state!   So don’t just read a story, feel for a person who need a difference to be made.  Instead, do something about it.