Saturday, November 3, 2012


New Message!

The alert draws you in to read the subject line. Often politically biased, the quick headline draws on your indignation and human reaction to perceived injustices by those in power or those we suspect for abuse of trust.

As you read, you feel your blood pressure spike, and your disgust overwhelms you as you ‘see’ that the people in power or those who are supposed to be responsible to the public (be it corporations, media, reporters or leaders) are putting the general public in some sort of danger or state of duress.

Angrily, you forward it to all of your friends, you take it to heart, you discuss it with your family, friends, cohorts and take it as fact and proof that you have every right to have your prejudices and frustrations.

But do you look further?

Do you stop to fact check? Not only with ‘fact checking’ or ‘debunking’ sites, but do you use the tools you have readily available to you to verify that what you read is indeed true? Or is a forwarded email more valid in truth than the information that is sought out through the media that you no longer trust?

How many times do we receive emails requesting information for our bank account information, or spam email with stories of elderly people in need of financial assistance, or (more recently) that government agents are investigating a package found at customs -- which was addressed to you (you just have to verify by responding with personal identifiers to clear yourself)? Do we take these as fact or do we do a bit more digging?

What we have here, is a case of modern day propaganda, propelled and intensified by the power and speed of instant Internet message delivery. Spiders and bots, phishers and cookies all track our comings and goings, sometimes finding our email addresses on public records or through click and hacks. But the email fervor that plagues our inboxes today rivals many of the propaganda campaigns employed by enemies abroad in years before the Internet. With a quick typing of an emotionally laced message and the tossing in of just enough fact and real names, any person can begin a smear campaign or fear mongering mass email sweep – sometimes from ghost email accounts, hacked inboxes, or official sounding email addresses. Easily done, and spread quickly, few will take the time to fact check before forwarding them on. Even some of our representatives in government have fallen prey to these tactics, forwarding information to constituents before seeking to ensure that the information they are sending is indeed fact.

It is important to verify the information we receive from more than one source, and investigate the tings that are important to us. We can look to articles, research, quotes and other primary sources, not just our inboxes. While there are times that news media get it wrong, we have to remember that television journalism is not the same as print media. The fact of the matter is, people may not trust the media, but print journalists will have more of an investigative nature and will seek to fact check more than a person who fires off an email. They will also seek sources and seek to provide verifiable and accountable information. When seeking the truth to a story, a journalist is held to the standard that one's job and integrity as a journalist rides upon his or her ability to provide information that is verifiable and true.

I digress. My point is that we should be verifying what we are reading, forwarding and repeating.

There are sites that are geared to providing fact and information (along with links to reference).  They are not to be taken as the end-all source, but they do provide springboards from which a person can access the sources that lead to the truth.

Maybe we could all do our part to researching the emotionally laced emails that we receive before forwarding them on.

After all, it’s gossip and rumor in print and well worth our while as an educated and intelligent people to verify that we are sharing information that is fact and not something we heard, upset us, and we repeat… all the while possibly eroding or own credibility and communications when we choose not to make sure that we are repeating truth instead of speculation and rumor.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I haven't said much about this, but I am tired of keeping quiet.

Since when is it acceptable for a man with no medical training to go on television and perpetuate a lie and further slander the honesty of women who are victimized in a shameful, painful, brutal way?

These past few weeks the issue of rape has been tossed around after a Senatorial Candidate attempted at  sugar coating or stratifying that rape (that is if it really happened to the "supposed" victim-- according to Akin) is not  a situation that would result in a pregnancy. With those comments, Akin legitimized the fear of rape victims who refuse to report out of shame or because they have seen fellow victims painted as liars or exaggerators.

Additionally, there are people in jail (namely men like Jerry Sandusky) who got away with years of sexual assault and raping children because people around him did not want to admit the lengths of depravity and shame inflicted on multitudes of children. But how many people would question those children if they chose to speak up? How long were victims holding themselves silent because they did not want to admit to the shame or the guilt of being involved in such an act? There are many victims of sexual abuse of all ages and genders who refuse to speak up not just out of shame, but also fear-- fear that is often instilled in them by their aggressors. One of the fears is that they will be portrayed as liars, or that they will be ostracized by their loved ones or peers.

Bearing this in mind, is that not exactly the type of attitude embodied and perpetuated by the statements made by Todd Akin?

My question is this: With regard to females -- at what age do our girls become people who we should protect from predators to people we label as liars, sluts, or as "asking for it," in their behavior or merely because of our reproductive assets? When do we as women no longer have the right to draw boundaries when it comes to our bodies and the protection of our decisions when it comes to our bodies? Is it when we reach the age of puberty?  Is it when our bodies can conceive?

If a man claimed he was raped, he may not become impregnated, but he would rarely be questioned in his claim. Why? Because it is such a demeaning and painful experience; males who would be brave enough to come forward, men who would be willing to shoulder that shame and humiliating act would rarely be seen as someone who would create such a story.

Frankly, I am angry. I am incensed that there are enough people who are misinformed or who are lost in the midst of their generational, political or cultural paradigms who believe that women don't deserve to have the same considerations in intellect, freedoms, and protections under the law. We as women have a right to be treated equally, and not doubted merely because we are vulnerable in physical and emotional makeup.

It's enough that women who suffer from rape have to deal with the shame and often do not report it --and there are women who bear children of such acts.

What are we doing in the media but perpetuating the continuance of a cycle of behavior merely by our attitudes, cynicism, and public (as well as private) stances because we refuse to face that we should be working to protect the vulnerabilities of those who stand to be victims?

The fact that rape is questioned, and classified in a ranking of legitimacy has now led to the discussion  being tied to the abortion and birth control argument and it is frustrating.

Pregnancy is a highly personal and intimately life altering, especially for women. 

I firmly believe that no woman in her right mind with any sort of compassion, or religious and cultural influence would consider abortion in a flippant manner or see it as a convenient preferred option. Such a procedure is painful, scary and terribly intimate. It involves surrender and complete invasion of a very fundamental part of our being-- where a woman has to electively grant control of her body to another human.

For media to perpetuate the argument and the fervor to which so many strangers feel they have a more rights over an individual woman than she has over her own body and her reproductive cycle is a sad argument, especially when she has to make the decision based on a sexual act that she did not consent to in the first place.

To demand that a woman relive and shoulder the trauma of rape because society places her value below the perceived morality of the nation is a sad degradation of the liberties on which we were supposedly founded.

To believe that women have magical powers that can terminate fertilization of her egg if it occurred in a time when it was a traumatic event is an especially misinformed and misleading belief.  Furthermore, to infer that women in general would lie about rape in order to go through traumatic invasion of her uterus, shows that there are men who still refuse to understand the complexities of  reproduction and child rearing beyond the implantation of their seed and that women are the vessel to perpetuate their progeny.

As a woman, I am sick of the assumption that because I do not think it should be the position of any lawmaker to tell me what I am allowed to protect when it comes to my eggs, my uterus, my pregnancies, my sexuality and my gender that I am some "left wing nut liberal."

 I'm not. I'm a woman.

I believe I have rights under the law that should protect me as equally as it would someone opposite my gender. Period.

To say that women should have a choice in their health and reproductive rights automatically places me in some categories and minds of some that  I am someone "who approves of killing babies"-- simply because I do not think that a group of people or strangers should have a say over my own reproductive rights merely because they think they do. Has the law ever told a man he was required to wear a condom, or be sterilized? Beyond pursuit of child support, has there ever been a law which forced a man to be responsible for a pregnancy or to participate in the life of a child he did not mean to conceive?

 Isn't that an offhanded form of violation to us as women in a milder form?

When it comes to governing my body:  I would be just as angry if the government told me I could not have more than one child or forced me into abortion or birth control.

The fact of the matter is, I should be allowed to have domain over my body. As a woman,  I should be allowed to speak out against being victimized without the fear of being labeled, disbelieved, or becoming a soapbox for some politician who wants to question my integrity because of what he believes about rape, pregnancy and women.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Vision Board

There's a book called  "The Secret" which sells the idea that positive thoughts and visualization can bring on success.

The theory is that if you open yourself and your energy, you draw to yourself more of what you focus upon.  This theory makes a lot of sense, considering the evidence of what we see around us. The people who focus on the negative and worry often seem to be bearers of more stress. Those who focus on the positivity open themselves to more positive outcomes.

I think it is more about perspective. Making one's own luck is often a matter of where one chooses to look, focusing outward and looking for opportunity, as well as being open to it, but not stressing about the how or the when or why.

I myself have often found what I am seeking or had things happen in my life when I stopped telling myself that it would never happen, or wishing in a negative manner (envy).

Such as it is, I have a vision board. It is only about 1/3 complete because I know I have more dreams and hopes.  But my vision board is there to remind me of the goals and hopes I have for myself and my family more than anything. It allows me to re-center my focus when I forget, or when I get to stressed or distracted by everyday life.

On my vision board I have: 

  • A smiling couple moving into a new home- It has been a while since we considered ever owning a home. We tried once when we were young, but we didn't realize we didn't need everything new, everything right now, and everything everyone else has. 
  • A check to myself for a hit screenplay, and the New York Bestseller list with my name penciled in.- I often need to remind myself that I write well, and I can make it a successful life venture. I may be out of practice but I can become published beyond newsprint; I can turn it into a career.

  • Travel destinations-  When I was in Rio in 2010, the city had just won the bid to host the Olympics. I told myself I would return in 6 years, I would be back to see it in person. There are many other destinations, but that is one I do not want to pass up. I have all the faith in the world that my family and I will make every destination on that board.
  • A woman running and a scale that reads, "Joy." -Vanity may be a part of this, but I also know I want a healthy body and a healthy outlook in accepting my body in its limits and its potential.
  • Our Future Business- My husband and I dream of a future where we own a Cafe' and Wine Bar which includes a small book store. It's good to have visions beyond the right now, and to dream big. 

There are no shortages of people with doubts, but my vision board only allows the possibility of what can happen if there were no doubts, and the barriers are surpassed with diligence and dedication.

What I still would like to have on my vision board:

  • Habitat for Humanity- Not only do I want to build a house and success for myself, I want to help others have a home of their own.
  • Water.Org Travel and Assist (or something of the like)- There are so very many people in this world who don't have the luxury of dreaming of trips to exotic destinations, large homes and business success. The big dreams they have are of giving their children clean water, basic nutrition, minimal healthcare. I want to be a part of that.

Beyond that, the spaces let open are for future possibilities I have yet  to realize.
I always find myself wondering how I see so many people more successful than I am at this stage in my life, and then I have to remind myself that not all success is material.

I have success in my family. I have  had the advantage of being a stay at home mom for my daughter. I have been able to pursue my education, navigating my way through an associates degree, a bachelor's degree, an Undergraduate certificate, and am now working toward my Masters.

Speaking of my family, some of that empty space on the board is theirs to fill. I want them to have reminders too; they should be able to pass the board and look up knowing they are as much a part of my happiness, life goals and vision, as anything else.

There's a quote on the board that embodies a belief I hold dear: "Make your Own Luck."
Eyes and mind open, opportunities are often caught by those who do not let themselves become too distracted and forget to look up and around at the world around them.

Don't forget to seek out that four leaf clover. They're out there.  In one month, my daughter and I found three, plus a five leaf clover (which still hangs on our refrigerator as a reminder that our luck and the success in our lives depend on where we look for it).

What would you put on your vision board? What's important enough to you for your future that you would display it without shame or question?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ramble On

Talking about writing and pursuing the dream is a lot easier than doing it.

I made the decision to finally try, and I am off to a sputtering start. I write papers within my Master's program and have published a smattering of newspaper articles. But beyond that, only small sparks of inspiration for my novel have come to me.

The choice I made to stop talking and begin doing included leaving a job and setting up an office. Only two months later I am still trying to find that groove that writers seem to grasp onto when the call to the written word finally grabs them and they are pulled along. I am an unprepared writer, always forgetting the tools of the trade- my moleskin, digital recorder, even pens and pencils. There are random notebooks and journals lounging about my home, waiting to be filled. Some of them have minor notes of what I should be doing, grocery lists, sometimes even work and training notes... but those often far outweigh the novel ideas for characters and plots.

I am aware that it takes time and inspiration and that I should take note, as sometimes inspirations and ideas whisper when you aren't looking for them or really fully paying attention. I begin to expend an effort and eventually the writing takes over. There are many times I have gone back to re-read things I have written in the past and not only do I only vaguely remember the written words, I realize that the person who wrote that piece seems to be way more inspired and creative than I.

Yet, everyday I am aware that I do not want to be just a dreamer. I have had that albatross hung about my neck, hoping for luck, but feeling the proverbial weight pulling at my shoulders. I often wonder why it is easier to let the digs over my hopes and aspirations get to me, rather than grabbing onto the bright hope and encouragement of those who believe in me.

Perhaps it is the fear that I am just a talker, just a dreamer. But then again, I look to Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, Vincent Van Gogh... the dreamers who eventually became leaders in their chosen genre. Renaissance men.

I have grand delusions designs in becoming the renaissance woman, but I have to learn to balance inspiration with planning, organization and execution. 34 years old and I still want to be a world renown writer, astronaut, business mogul, famous inventor, world traveler-- the equivalent of my childhood indecision between artist, veterinarian, fireman, and panther tiger princess.

My characters that once held conversations in my head; the heroines and villains who acted out scenes in my imagination are now bored with me. They glare at me from behind the piles of school work, covered with the dust of doubt and long hidden behind bookcases filled with distractions. I don't think they are happy with me. I often imagine them loafing among the stacks, rifling through pages of books, drawing on the corners of the reading tables... some of them cutting out the middle of my encyclopedia in my mind and hiding their weapons in the carved out space. Where memories of academia once lived, now sits a sharp knife waiting to be discovered... only I no longer know who the suspect is.

So they sit, waiting for me to find them and ask them interesting questions, study and create them on paper. But I can't do that today... there is a 30 page academic paper on the horizon and there are stacks of research waiting to be rifled through.

A dusty waif in the corner glares at me as I begin to rifle through microfiche and peer reviewed articles. She sighs and goes back to doodling on the desk, dusty and dull as she waits for me to find interest and time for her one day soon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The First Real Snow...

There's a peaceful quiet that seems to come with fresh snow.

Not the teasing,
hesitant snow
that falls
before the first
real cover.

This is the snow
that covers the earth,
gathers on the trees
and hides the color,
the chaos, the lines.

The snow
that emphasizes
the beauty
and fragility
of life,

the snow
that will lead
to a rebirth
of life and Spring.

This snow
is a blanket
of slumber,
a silence
so prominent
when you venture
into the fresh cover
of the frozen wonderland,
you realize
your presence.

Standing in the silence
of newly fallen,
undriven snow
grants the opportunity
of a very present

I walked outside
this morning
with the dog
we named Holly,

And the snow
had created
a world more quiet
and still
than the bustling
noise inside
my home,
inside my head.

It immediately stilled
the blundering clash
of sensations
we experience
to the point of apathy
as we go through our days.

In a completely
different environment,
I felt a peace
and completeness
in the moment
that is rare for me
when I am too far
from the sea.

Families and children
had not yet ventured out
to bring splashes of color,
sound and action
to the stark,
simple beauty of the land,
and the blanket of snow
lay virtually undisturbed...
save the random paw
or shoe print
of my fellow
morning adventurers.

I know why people
love the snow,
the novelty,
the peace.

The view from my window
makes me believe
we live
in a postcard.

And we do.

There's a peace that comes with the first real snow.