Happy St. Lucia Day!

Happy St. Lucia Day!

Happy St. Lucia Day! The Swedish celebration of Lucia of light! St. Lucia comes as a young woman with lights and sweets. It is one of the few saint days observed in Scandinavia. In some forms, a procession is headed by one girl wearing a crown of candles (or lights), while others in the procession hold only a single candle each. It describes the light with which Lucia overcomes the darkness. 

Here is a link to my friend, Jonna Jinton, in Sweden celebrating Lucia. This is a wonderful short film she created herself to share with the world in celebration of St. Lucia Day.

Jonna herself is a wonderfully creative and gifted light. Please visit her blog to find out more about her. http://jonnajinton.se/

May you have a wonderfully delightful Lucia Day!

Thank You For “Me Too” Support!

Thank You….

Thank you so much for all your wonderfully supportive messages. It was so great to read all your kind words you sent me on Facebook and email about my “Me Too” article.

Some women shared personal messages about their experiences, and some without going into any detail to me, just wanted to let me know that they too had similar situations. Perhaps, like me, they just wanted to get it out. Just wanted to finally be able to say “me too” without having to explain anything.

That is what this is all about. To be there for anyone who wants to talk about it, or not talk about it. But just to know that they are not alone.

It’s an unnecessary heavy burden. But if we can all help each other carry some of it by being supportive, it just might get a little lighter for us individually.

 

Hugs to all… ♥

#Me Too…

#Me Too…

Two simple little words that didn’t really mean much to most people just a short time ago. It was a way to be part of a club, a group, a trip to the market or an expression of agreement. Me too!

Now it has become an unfortunate way for so many women who have been hiding in the shadows with their shameful experiences of sexual abuse, assault and/or harassment to finally have a voice. Even if it’s a restrained whisper of two little words.

With the recent declaration and strength of so many women standing up to join the “me too” movement, I found myself drawn to their courage. To their compassion for each other when one woman after another placed the hashtag and words “me too” on their social media pages. It wasn’t and isn’t a fad. It’s not a joke, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. When we put “me too” out there for the world to see we weren’t looking for sympathy. Unknowingly, we were looking for a community, and unfortunately, we found it.

I say we, because yes, #me too. Multiple times actually. I had some encounters in high school with harassment etc, but it wasn’t until I joined the Army as a confident, bright eyed 18-year-old girl looking to conquer the world that it really escalated for me.

For me personally after the first time I was a victim of one of the above listed incidents, I told someone. I thought I was doing the right thing. I was strong. A military squad leader. I would be listened to. Right?

I thought he would be held accountable, and that I wouldn’t feel what I felt anymore. I was wrong. I was belittled, told that I must have done something to invite such an “event”, and nothing happened to him. I can still remember the smirk on his face as he looked at me while I stood in formation at my basic training graduation

At that time, in a male dominated military culture, women were seen as the secretaries and nurses, not as soldiers and doctors. Even if we held one of those positions, we were a joke. If we excelled or by passed the men in marksmanship, academics or rank, we were considered a pushy bitch. Ambition was not an encouraged characteristic. Not much different from the outside world, but in the military if you were a victim of any type of sexual harassment or worse, it typically fell on deaf ears.

So, the naïve, but strong 18-year-old started to learn that things were going to happen, they were going to involve creepy men, and nothing was going to happen to the perpetrator. During the next couple of years, I had other times where I was a victim. I didn’t tell anyone. Why bother. Did I really want to temp my reputation as one of “those girls” who reported and got a bad name? I witnessed what happened to those girls. They weren’t taken seriously, most of them didn’t advance in their military careers, and their professional and personal reputations were tarnished.

After a certain incident where I was a victim, I told my mother. I finally had someone convince me it was not okay. It wasn’t to be tolerated, and should be reported. So, I did. I finally got the courage to report the latest occurrence. I took a chance and hoped for the best. And what happened when I finally went to my captain and told him about how my superior had made repeat uninvited and aggressive advances towards me? And that I repeatedly told him I was not interested and how he made threats to me if I refused his “affections”?

I was told I had misunderstood him, told he was having marital problems, told that I should have more sympathy for him and his children. And I was asked if I really wanted to damage the reputation of such a high ranking fellow soldier. I was shamed into silence. My report ended there that day, as did my faith that I would ever again tell anyone.

Many years passed, and as most women do, I fended off more creepy men with their uninvited advances. Then I joined the ranks of one of the most male dominated occupations out there. Law Enforcement. You would think that perhaps the “good ole boy” system had been retired by then, and men wearing badges were mostly of higher caliber than those who I had encountered over the years. Well, they were… Mostly…

My most notable incident of sexual harassment was from a higher-ranking officer. He was creepy, graphic, and I hated being alone with him. But I was new to the job, new to the organization, and I was on probation. I had recently heard of another girl who had a similar situation in a nearby office. She had reported it, and now was considered the “snitch”. Other cops didn’t want to work with her. They didn’t believe her, and her reputation as a serious police officer was forever tainted. I knew I didn’t want to be like that, but I couldn’t continue with officer creepy. I told someone “off the record”. He wasn’t surprised, and he believed me. But he did agree that if I took it further I would probably be altering my career. I didn’t tell anyone else at the office.

But I did tell someone. I did tell my mother. She had been a probation officer, and completely understood the level of harassment I had endured. She had been a “me too” as well. I told her every time I had to deal with more advances, more snide distasteful remarks, and more insinuations from officer creepy.

Then a day came when my husband was nearly killed in a car crash. It was life altering for him and everyone in our family. He was bed ridden for months and months and I put my work on hold and took care of him. During that time period my mother got sick. She got sicker and sicker and eventually passed away. I was a crumpled mess on the inside, but still had a family to raise. I took care of my husband, took care of my children, and ensured my father was okay.

 

A few weeks later I had to return to work. Back to the uncomfortable work environment I tolerated. I’m not sure if it was my grief, my exhaustion, or just the failure of my level of tolerance for this “boys will be boys” junk I was experiencing. But I put my guard down and told someone at work about officer creepy. The word got out fast. I couldn’t be trusted, I was lying, and was just another “female” looking for a quick lawsuit to win. Then the wolves really began to circle. I was accused of lying about a case I was involved in. And even with the facts in my favor, no one would believe me, no one would back me, and even the union representative told me it would be best if I just quit because even if I won, would I really want to work there? He had heard about officer creepy as well. The scoffing expression on his face said so much.

After nearly losing my husband, and actually losing my mother, my main support system throughout my life, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Officer creepy and his gang of bullies had won. I quit. I knew I was walking away without defending my reputation. I knew there were several other officers who I respected and considered friends who would now have a different opinion of me. I knew if I challenged my accusers I would win and the real truth would come out. But then what? I just didn’t have it in me.

We all have those times where we wish we could turn back time. I wish I could go back to that first abuser and we had a system in place where women were believed and supported. I wish the next time and the time after that I would have had support and human beings around me to show me that I was not at fault for being a victim. I wish at such a young and naive age I would have had someone say to the perpetrators, NO, you can’t do that. I wish that I would have felt comfortable enough to tell someone and that my job wouldn’t be affected negatively. I wish we lived in a world where the locker room talk and “boys will be boy’s” mentality didn’t allow college men to rape girls behind dumpsters and serve only 3 months of jail time. I wish we didn’t have a culture of males who consider women an entitlement for them to do with as they please.

But this is our reality. And what can we do about it?

 

Stop the culture of victim shaming! Teach our daughters that they DO have the support now. That they will be believed. That they can and should report inappropriate behavior. But also, be grateful for the men who DON’T think it’s ok. For the men who DO stop the assaults. For the men and women who DO raise their sons to respect women and girls.

Even though I didn’t have that support system in place throughout my dealings with aggressors, my hope is that my daughters and sons and others like them learn from my experiences. There wasn’t much talk about how to “prevent” female victims other than what appropriate clothing to wear, self defense etc. Our discussions were about how to deal with victims after the fact. There definitely wasn’t and still isn’t much talk about how to prevent female victims by teaching males that the behavior is not okay!

There are so many decent men in our world who don’t think the behavior that led up to “me too” is okay. Two of those men still work at that office I left. They both have daughters. It is with them and others like them, who have sons and daughters of their own, that we place our hope that they will help overshadow the creeps and support the women and girls to help make the “me too” movement unnecessary.

I do not tell my tale for sympathy. My hope is that those who are now shaming the “me too” women coming forward will know that everyone has their own story. Everyone had their reasons for not coming forward at a certain time. And everyone will hopefully get to their own level of comfort to express and share their tale if they want to. Even if it’s with those two simple words…

#ME TOO…

Happy Rainy Thursday!

Happy Rainy Thursday…

What a rainy Thursday we are having here in western Oregon!

Yes, for the most part we Oregonians don’t mind it, and we typically welcome the cleansing of the atmosphere, the wonderful sound of the rain on the rooftop, and the glorious sweet smell the rain leaves behind.

But with this down pour I’ve been experiencing internet technical difficulties. Not great news for a blogger.

 

 

 

So, enjoy your rainy Thursday. I am determined to get more posted soon in between inconsistent losses of internet connections.

 

 

Hugs to you all! ♥

 

Mom’s Who Loose Their Sh**!

Mom’s Who Loose Their Sh**!

Recently there has been a lot of talk on social media about mom’s who lose their sh**. They lose it at the end of their day when they’ve clocked in a 18-hour shift. They lose it after they’ve swept the kitchen floor twelve times that day and still manage to locate the rogue cheerio’s by stepping on them, grinding the crunchy mass into their newly laundered merino wool sock. They lose it after the 24th tuck in to include the 8th sip of water, the removal of the lodged booger, and the multiple security checks of the gloom under the bed. Or when their significant other comes home and asks what they’ve been doing all day as they step over the random discarded muddy socks on the floor instead of picking them up…

As patient as they try to be…   sometimes Mom’s do lose their sh**.

And you know what? It’s ok. We are all human. We all try our darndest, and we all at times, are going to get to the end of our ropes. We shouldn’t let it be a reflection of our mothering ability, but at times it might seem that way.

We try to be the best we can, and we love our families dearly. But sometimes, just sometimes, it gets to be so much that the stress and tension of so much riding on just us to please so many other humans…that we reach a certain point!

Hence, the losing of the sh**.

 

 

We still love you. We will still feed you, care for you, check under the beds, and yes, even remove the challenging doosie of a lodged booger. But sometimes we just need a moment.

So, when you see that mom at the grocery store with a couple of flailing little bodies horizontal on the floor and she is trying ever so gracefully to instruct her hooligans to get up and get moving with no reaction from them but to continue the belligerent display of spaziness, cut her some slack. Give her the ole’ head nod that you totally get it and you support her as a fellow community member from the mama’s who sometimes just lose their sh**.


A Day Of Remembrance…

A Day Of Remembrance…

I was unsure how I would write this blog, or even if I ever would at some point. My mother died. It’s still hard to say that after so many years. She left behind an extremely loving husband (my father), myself and 9 of my siblings, (along with 31 grandchildren). Yes, 10 children. That’s a whole other story I’ll tell you about on a different day. But she was the strongest and most inspirational person I’ve known.

Yesterday was her birthday. She loved having her birthday in the fall, because, like me, we shared a love for autumn, Halloween, and everything about the coming of the holidays. A time to cherish your loved ones and be grateful for everything and everyone in your life. She taught me that, and I continue to carry on that belief and instill it in my children.

Typically, on her birthday I like to be by myself. I usually need to be because it’s still so hard for me to realize that she’s not coming back. I don’t know if any of you have ever thought that way? If you’ve lost a loved one, and even though you know in reality they won’t be returning, there are just some days when it’s almost like you expect them to return and you wonder what is delaying them. Like you expect to see them that day. I suppose it depends on what you believe. I know some people think days like that can be a sign your loved one is with you in spirit and making a connection with you. I like to believe that is true.

So yesterday, October 25th, was her birthday. I went on a long hike.

Just me and my cherished dog, Freesia.
The morning started off a bit cold with an extremely dense fog creeping through the town and up into the mountains where we went.
As we started our trek the fog was beginning to burn off just a little as it’s competition the sun crowded its way in.
I was able to get a few shots of the change in scenery as we climbed up to the top of the trail.

 

A nice little trail
I could definitely feel my mother with us as we made our way through the forest. ♥

 

It seemed as though the birds were following us at times.

 

Freesia’s getting a bit tired

 

Once at the top, the view was amazing! The fog still hovered over the little town and the surrounding fields, but at the top it was blue skies and warm sun that greeted us!

 

Such a wonderful hike to clear my mind of all the daily life chaos and just reflect on her.

Happy Birthday Mama

 

What To Do With The Toxic People In Our Lives…

We all have them. A toxic person. It could be a friend, a family member, a neighbor, spouse, partner, or even an adult child. But what do we do with them? Of course, we continue to care for them and attempt to make that relationship better, but what if nothing works? What if that person is so negative and unhappy in their life that it trickles into the lives of others?

Someone I know recently pondered that maybe we are crazy to keep trying, or maybe we are just good people to continue to give and give positivity with only negativity and harsh treatment in return.

Is that it? Are we just good people and good people will notoriously get dumped on? I think that’s a pretty slippery slope to get on. If we start believing that because we are good, and therefore the negative people in our lives must to be the polar opposite, aka bad, does that in turn mean that we are setting them up for failure or placing a negative label on them? Or is it some type of self-preservation to acquire a belief like that?

Each relationship is going to be different for each person. The level of negativity or toxicity that they deal with will have so many various stages and impacts, that it isn’t fair to group everyone together. However, perhaps we can all find a common ground of how to recognize those toxic people in our lives and make decisions how to move forward by asking ourselves some basic questions.

  1. Who are these people to us? If this person is our adult child or spouse, the decisions we may make to keep them in our lives will most likely be different compared to if they are a neighbor or co-worker.
  2. If they are for example a child or spouse, do we feel loved? Do we feel safe? Or the neighbor or co-worker, do we feel appreciated or respected?
  3. How far are we willing to go with our own happiness at stake? Does this person thrive on taking our happiness? What are we willing to give up or lose?
  4. What have we tried? Do we offer counseling, mediation, neutral ground discussions, etc? Is this person even willing to partake in any of those forums?

The decision to keep a toxic person in your life is going to be a personal one. An important one. A difficult one.

Personally, I found that when I’ve pondered the above questions and depending on the specific relationship and levels of attempts I’ve made, I have unfortunately had to move on with my life without a few toxic people. It was hard, but I never regretted it. But, I’ve also had a couple of extremely negative people in my life, whom after working on specific challenges they had, they successfully dropped a lot of their personal toxins weighting them down, and could mend relationships around them and lose the label of the “toxic person”.

So, is it up to us to change the toxic person? Is it our responsivity to ensure they live a positive life at the expense of our own happiness along the way? Making those individual decisions is just that. An individual decision based on the answers you give yourself to the above questions. You have one life to live. Find your happiness.

 “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”….. Eleanor Roosevelt