Simple Living

Information, recipes and resources for health and home, body and spirit.

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Amy Poehler: The Sexual Assault of a Toddler Is Not a Fucking Joke

Maggie Robinet Valera:

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve had many of the same experiences growing up and it’s horrible.

By the time my daughter was born the new trend was leopard print for little girls, a pattern normally associated with provocative or private wear, and I was horrified. I detest the baby pageants and all the sexualization of children… little girls, some as young as three dressed in heels and makeup and even dressing them up as a movie prostitute. ???

One of the theories behind the Jon Benet Ramsey murder was that her mother did it because she saw her daughter as another woman and a threat to her marriage. What?!?!?!? She was 6 years old!! What the hell is going on here?

Why is it that anytime we want to have the “sex talk” and empower kids with education people think they’re not old enough to know certain things… “just let them be kids.” Who’s kids? The ones parading around as hookers or the ones being fetishized and sexualized by adults? Those kids? I don’t think so.

And for the record, no “in my day” we didn’t have the talk about good touching and bad touching and talking to grown ups. And you know what happened? I was molested for 2 years. If kids are old enough to be fondled, they’re old enough to be told that it shouldn’t happen to them. And there sure as hell shouldn’t be comediennes getting laughs over it.

Originally posted on THE KINFOLK KOLLECTIVE:

A Poehler

I’ve always had thick thighs and a round butt. As a little black girl growing up in a black community, these attributes were simultaneously a badge of honor, a mark of shame, and food for predators. I remember people telling me how nicely I was shaped when I was as young as five years old. There were times my parents made me change my jeans because they fit me “like a grown woman.” I must’ve been eight years old at most. At 13, I started to understand what was meant by “shape” and to appreciate my curves. I liked the way I looked in tight jeans and shorts until I would leave the house and fully-grown men would honk horns and yell the most disgustingly vile shit from their cars. At 14, a man in my neighborhood who was 22 years old walked up behind me and grabbed my ass…

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PTSD Awareness

June is PTSD Awareness Month, and it’s more common than you might realize.

PTSD-after-Open-Heart-SurgeryWhat is PTSD?

It’s estimated that approximately 20% of combat vets suffer from PTSD and only half will seek treatment.  But they’re not alone. Originally noted by terms of “shell shock” and “battle fatigue”, we’ve come to realize that it’s not just soldiers who suffer from this. Anyone who has been subject to a severe emotional trauma can experience this as their mind tries to process what has happened.

Abuse victims, rape victims, victims of violent crimes, combat, natural disasters, etc. all take time to emotionally heal from what they’ve experienced. However when the symptoms are severe and they last more than four months, they may very well have PTSD.

PTSD occur

It’s estimated that as many 8% of all Americans (over 24 million) will experience PTSD in their lifetime.  We tend to hear the term thrown around but I wonder how many people really know what it is?

PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is characterized by three types of symptoms:

Reliving the event – Most commonly known as flashbacks or triggers, hearing a car backfire can trigger someone to re-experience sounds of gunfire, seeing a car accident can cause someone to relive their own traumatic event, etc.  Something as subtle as a news broadcast or online video, a sound or even a smell can trigger this things during waking life.  Reliving the event in dreams is common as well.

Avoidance of reminders – This can be avoiding tv or movies with similar subject matter such as war movies or ones with fires, earthquakes or one where a character is raped, or avoiding similar locations.  For example, getting robbed at an atm may cause you to only take cash out when you’re at the store so you don’t have to go near the bank.

Having been in a shoe store when it got robbed caused one of my best friends to not be able to bring herself to go in that chain store again for many years; and not just that location but all of them since they all look-alike.

Feeling numb or keyed up – Staying “numb”, shutting down emotionally as a means of not dealing with feeling… with people, activities or even forgetting parts of the traumatic event or just not be able to talk about them.

Being “keyed up” includes sudden rushes to anger or irritability, trouble sleeping or concentrating, becoming almost paranoid about your safety or startling very easily.

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I was working in a restaurant years ago as an hourly supervisor when we were robbed at gunpoint.  No one was hurt thankfully and it was over in about a minute.  It was my last day of work before vacation which I thought was a blessing at the time but it turned out to be my downfall.  With not being there, I wasn’t able to deal with it and fear took over.  When I did go back to work, I couldn’t be anywhere near the register without breaking into a sweat from a panic attack.  My boss was very understanding and accommodated me stepping down from my supervisory position for a couple of weeks and kept me in the kitchen. Sadly it just got worse.

After 9 years with the company I wound up putting in my notice and left because I just couldn’t handle even being in the building anymore. I had nightmares regularly for a couple of years after the incident, each time I wound up getting shot, even though no one got hurt in real life.

A year later my family and I went out to dinner (my daughter was 4 at the time) and my sister noticed a sign that it was supposed to be family night complete with a clown and balloons.  As the server came by my sister asked where the clown was and that my daughter would enjoy a balloon only to be told that he had already left for the night since there weren’t many children in the restaurant.  I was tending to my daughter and heard my sister exclaim “we got robbed” – speaking of the clown and the balloons.  I however broke into a cold sweat and started crying and eventually excused myself to go throw up.  The very definition of being “keyed up” and “startling easily”

I’ve dealt with many things in my life, which to me (on paper at least) would seem to be more traumatic that this one minute window of time… but it derailed me for a several years.  I have no idea why one incident would create such a lasting effect while others did not.  I never sought help, in fact I didn’t even know that what I experienced even had a name.  It wasn’t until many years later when I was retelling the story to someone when they told me it was PTSD.  Had I or someone around me known what it was, I could have sought help to deal with it.

The effects of PTSD run deep

PTSD doesn’t just affect your moods and  your dreams. There is a physiological component to PTSD.  Studies have shown that there are physical changes that take place in the brain.  In other words, your brain gets rewired.  That’s why overcoming it is so difficult. Most affected are the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex.

The brain controls everything, so physiological changes can affect all areas of your body and life.  The limbic system, located deep in the cerebrum, is composed of the amygdala, the hippocampus and they hypothalamus.

The amygdala deals with our primal instincts – fear, panic and all that’s associated with it; Heart rate changes,  sweaty palms, tremors, even nausea and diarrhea.

The hippocampus handles memory which is why people with PTSD can lose sections of their memory and even what’s called “anterograde amnesia” which is the inability to form new memories even if the old ones are completely intact.  These changes are thought to be caused by increased exposure to cortisol, also known the “stress” hormone.

The hypothalamus controls hormone production.  It affects sex drive, weight gain, sleep, thirst, body temperature, hunger and the release of hormones from other glands including the pituitary.  The pituitary gland is a critical part of our ability to respond the environment around us, most often without our knowledge.

The prefrontal cortex area controls your cognitive behavior, decision-making and even appropriate social behavior.

That’s just the start of it.  These changes convert into pain sensitivity, auto-immune disorders, fibromyalgia, etc.  Alcohol and drug use and abuse are frequent occurrences as well in the attempt to self-medicate and cope with all that one is dealing with.  As you can see, it’s not just a simple bad memory but your world being turned completely out of control.

 

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If you’ve had symptoms like these, please find someone to talk to and know that you’re not alone.  If you know someone who is having these issues, please give them the help and empathy they need to deal with it.  Know that they have to heal in their own time.  There is no schedule, no cure, no pill they can take to make it go away, just time, support and understanding.

June is PTSD awareness month, and I’m so glad that it’s getting a bit of a spotlight, but knowing exactly what it is, is crucial to dealing with it.  So please, share the word.

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie


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Spending Time With You

I saw a piece that came through on Buzz Feed entitled 31 Delightful Things To Do By Yourself.  I really enjoyed seeing that piece come around and I really hope that it inspires  younger people to do things solo.  Not just because it’s frugal, but because it’s necessary.  When I was younger I didn’t know how to spend time with myself nor did I want to.  While I love spending time with friends and family, I am finally at a point in my life where I enjoy my own company.  It took me way too long to get here.

After all the years that I spent being an active mother and wife, I realized that I spent my time as the hub in all the activities. I was included with each person individually and as a family, but I never went off on my own adventures even though my husband kept unsuccessfully trying to encourage me to do so.  (Thanks for trying ARV, you were right.)

My daughter moved out and that was a bit of an adjustment.  I think kids are more prepared to leave the house then the parents are to let it happen.  With her gone, it just left me and my husband together (constantly) and that was not good at all. After a few years of that we separated and it left me alone and scared to death.

Here I am two years later, and while I still enjoy my time with others, I’ve really come to value and enjoy my time by myself.  I write, I paint, I craft, I read, and I meditate. I spend time with you and the rest of my online friends.  I enjoy going out to dinner occasionally (when I can afford it LOL) with my kindle.

I like going shopping and just wandering around the stores looking at things, or going for a drive and checking out the landscape. I love listening to music, I read and occasionally I turn on the TV.  And the best part?  I never have to negotiate what I’ll be watching or feeling trapped and wishing I could be doing something else instead.

Spring Dreams2

This is my latest painting, I made it for my niece and her husband. That is their initials and their wedding date on the tree trunk.

As we go through life we find out that we don’t stay the “hub”, as our children become the “hub” of their own families and lives.  We may be married, single (or widowed).  We need to enjoy ourselves and value ourselves as others do.  So take the time to make friends with yourself; take yourself out on dates, spend quality time with yourself and make sure you’re giving yourself the same time out of “family time” that other family members get, you really need it.

What things to you enjoy doing on your own?

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


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Quick Kitty Bedroom

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Here lately I haven’t been able to put a bag down without Sophie trying to climb in it.  She’s really been in need of a quiet little space of her own, but I haven’t had the extra finances to purchase one of those cute ones at the store.

Then just the other day I watched a life hack video about making a cat “tent” with wire coat hangers and an old t-shirt but it looked too flimsy for Sophie to use.  She tends to be a very antsy, nervous cat, more so the older she has gotten.  She’s now 11.

So today I took an old t-shirt that was ready to go to that “great laundry basket in the sky” (a.k.a. rag pile) and put it over the box, gathered the back up and fastened it with a safety-pin.

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Then I inverted the sleeves to get them out-of-the-way.  I was going to also safety-pin them but they tucked in nicely and it wasn’t necessary.

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I put one of my beach towels in the bottom so she has something to curl up with and I can swap it out with another one so I can wash them periodically.  The neck of the t-shirt gives her ample room to climb in and out, but allows the box to retain the warmth that she needs as an older cat, especially in the wintertime.

2 minutes, a re-purposed t-shirt, a cardboard box and a happy cat!  Your turn!  Share your quick crafts!

{{hugs}}}

Maggie


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Cute File Box project

Hi all!

Sorry for the hiatus but I’m slowly getting back to things and wanted to share my latest project with you.  It used to be a box that Bestie received slippers in for the holidays.  I covered it with the material from a leg of a pair of jeans and then lined it with an old bandana!

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A little hot glue and it was done in minutes and looks SO much better on my craft table then a box that talks about slippers!  If I find some white eyelet trim on the cheap I might trim around it to embellish it a little more.

Sure I could have bought a file folder or a magazine holder, but this was completely frugal – it didn’t cost anything but my time.  And that’s less to throw away so it’s green as well as cute!  And it would make a cute gift!

Update:  I found the last piece of the puzzle today…what do you think?

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What great crafts have you made lately?  Share them below!

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


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Spread the Word, Lend a Hand

** Update**  Christion Isaac-Alexander Shaw  6/20/09 – 12/18/14   Please consider helping with this fundraiser to help with the arrangements and passing on this story of Christion and his life.  Thank you – Maggie **

 

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while.  I have been experiencing many life changes, most positive… a new relationship, new additions to the family with more on the way, a little travelling with a whole lot of visiting, etc.

Today’s post unfortunately is not so upbeat.

Today we’re stepping up to a window into the life of an incredible single mother and her two sons… a one seven-week old named Cameron and the other a five-year old named Christion who has muscular dystrophy.

 

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This is my friend KaShonda and her boys.  Christion is 5 years old and has Nemaline myopathy Muscular Dystrophy.  He’s a great kid.  He laughs and plays and watches TV… loves Handy Manny and was completely enamored with being able to watch PBS Kids on my iPad and snuggling with me while Mom and I got to spend time together.  In many ways Christion is just like any other 5-year-old.

 

 

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Then there’s all the special extras that do not surround a typical 5-year-old… oxygen, suction to clear his lungs, a belt that provides air pressure that simulates pounding on his back to loosen the mucus in his lungs, wheelchairs, monitors, pulse oximeters, etc.

While as a country we’re trying to get kids away from the happy meals, Christion has never had one and probably never will.  Christion doesn’t eat, he has a feeding tube directly into his stomach with nutrition that comes in a pouch.

 

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Christion doesn’t have babysitters or daycare, but has home nurses.  In fact KaShonda even went to nursing school just so she could not only be better prepared to take care of her son but so that she would be able to work at home with him.  It doesn’t get anymore incredible than that, truly a devoted mother.

Sadly just a few short weeks ago, Christion’s health once again took a down turn when he developed pneumonia and wound up in the ICU.  Finally improving enough to be moved out of ICU, you can see that spirits were high.

 

Tickle time!

Tickle time!

 

Later this very same day, November 28th, Christion coded.  Medical personnel worked on him extensively to revive him but he was down for 12-13 minutes.    This is Christion right now…

 

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Heartbreaking is the only word that applies and yet that word doesn’t go deep enough.  He is 5 years old and should be writing letters to Santa, not hooked to monitors unresponsive.  His Mom should be trying to sneak in presents to surprise him with, not crying bedside in a hospital room, praying for her son.

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Then there’s Cameron.  For those who would say that thank God the 7 week-old is “normal”, they are incorrect.  While Cameron is quite healthy he is in no way normal.

Seven week-old babies should be in their mothers arms, not bounced around to relatives so his mom can keep her vigil at Children’s Hospital.  Cameron should have a big brother that can teach him to throw a football, intimidate kids who try to bully him, teach him how to date, how to drive and be his best friend.

UPDATE:   While the CT scan and EEG’s looked promising, an MRI has shown that Christion has suffered massive trauma on his whole brain and the prognosis is not positive and family is preparing for the inevitable.   Prayers are still needed for this family, for strength and courage to help them along their difficult journey.  Any donations would help considerably.  Please consider sharing this post or the fundraiser page to help.

Donations for Christion

Donations for research can be made to:

Muscular Dystrophy Association
National Office
222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1500
Chicago, Illinois 60606
888-HELP-MDA
(888-435-7632)

 

If your children are healthy, give thanks.  Not just once, but every day.  Life is fragile and it can be short.  Please take the time if you can to help a friend or neighbor who may need that extra hand.  Consider donating to research to continue the fight for a cure for this and other diseases and disabilities that hurt children and torment parents.  Even a few dollars a month can do a lot of good.

Have a safe, happy and healthy with your family and please join me in #PrayersforChristion.  Please share this story and allow his story to open hearts and maybe a wallet or two.  We can’t have too many people praying for him or sending positive energy their way.
{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


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Boycott Thanksgiving Greed

Uncle George

 

I have been a member of the workforce since 1982.  I have worked in retail, restaurants, hotels, gas stations and even a recycling plant.  I’ve even a ran small retail business.

I never had a problem working the holidays when I worked in restaurants and hotels.  Not only was I happy to make holiday pay (not that it’s that big of a difference when you’re a restaurant server) but it’s nice to be able to spend the holiday with people who don’t have anyone else to spend the holiday with.

Police, fire & medical personnel all have to work.  They get no holidays.   They and their families make sacrifices only to be rivaled by military and their families.  But retail, that’s another story.  The fact that we can’t have one 24 hour period of thanks before the onslaught of greed and corporate profits is insane in my opinion.  It also looks like I’m not alone in that opinion.

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I understand that “Black Friday” stimulates the economy.  We’re not talking about Friday though, we’re talking about Thursday which is Thanksgiving;  a national holiday of thanks, reflection, (over-eating) and family.   I understand that we’ve all had to tighten our belts, believe me; I’m looking at the most frugal holiday I’ve had in almost 25 years.

There are plenty of online sales if you truly want to shop on Thursday (which will fill the order on Friday) without having to line up with hundreds of other shoppers at retail locations only for them to have 5 items at the advertised price.  In addition, everyone will have their doors open bright and early on Friday.

Not to mention the behavior of shoppers rivaling those of the annual bridal dress sale at  Filene’s Closet.  If you’re unfamiliar, look it up.  Women will work in teams and brawl like hockey players over these dresses!

Now to be fair, my Mom was one of the ones who would pour over the ads, plan her route by what she wanted to buy vs the door gifts for early bird shoppers.  I remember waiting outside of a retail store at 5am with coffee in hand waiting for doors to open.  For the record, the only reason I agreed to go was because at the time I worked third shift and it was still within the scope of my “normal hours”.

I’m not opposed to sales, making a profit or getting a great deal.  I just think that we should observe one 24 hour period of thanks before the onslaught of greed, materialism and consumerism takes place.

If you feel similar, please consider sharing this message.  In addition, someone started a page on Facebook called Keep Black Friday Out of Thanksgiving, please consider visiting their page and showing your support.

Please don’t serve your turkey for breakfast just so you can get in line to support this madness.

{{Hugs}}

Maggie

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