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spread_your_wings_.xlarge                            (Image Credit: Kareen Genteroy)

Ya’ll may have noticed a little shift in the website. New layout, new tags, new general setup happening. It’s been a hot minute since I have actively written and dedicated time to this portal and life chapter, but the reality is it is a happy place of mine and I need to get back at it.

I am interested to know though. What do ya’ll want to see on Diapers and Duffels?

  • Life Stuffs
  • Parenting
  • Reviews
  • Tips and Tricks
  • Deep Questions
  • All of the above
  • None of the above

Drop me a comment and tell me what you like about Diapers and Duffels, what you would love to see more of, and I will work to get my butt here once a week to lay it out there with truth, honesty, and hopefully some humor!

 

*Peace and Love C*

 

Professionalism or Sexism?

While all individuals suffer objectification over their bodies, the female form is the most scrutinized.

An interesting aspect that I notice is the nature of acceptance over women or girls in swimsuits, especially if these women are around families, children, or with workplace clients. While it is acceptable for a male to swim in shorts of any length and be bare chested, women are put down for being “too revealing” regardless of what they attempt to wear swimming.

In speaking with some friends, we were discussing a camp that had occurred in which female staff and volunteers were told that in order to swim they must wear clothing, (T-shirt and shorts were recommended) over top of bikinis because they were “inappropriate”, and that even those females in 1pc swimsuits needed to put shorts on. This rule did not apply to the client’s paying for the camp event, simply to any help present that was female. The males however, were allowed to wear swim shorts of any length or kind and be bare chested.

The picture below represents two “unacceptable” attires where the last one is “acceptable” because the female is considered “decent” and not a “distraction”. The middle picture is considered “highly inappropriate”, and the far left needs shorts in order to be considered “decent attire”.

SwimAAs an individual that can’t wear a one piece swimsuit if her life depended on it because my torso is just not that short, (I either have boobs hanging out or a seriously unattractive thong event happening, it isn’t pretty), and is not a fan of sweating it out with extra layers on, or being targeted because of my sex, I find this frustrating to me. I also find it offensive.

We are told that it will “give the wrong impression”, “is too revealing for the boys to see”, or “is inappropriate”.

We are told that our bodies must be regulated so that others have “less reason” to leer and be disrespectful, instead of simply teaching people to not leer and to be respectful.

We are sexualized by our skin, objectified by our appearance, and judged as “sluts” because we choose to bare our midsection.

We are called out and made to cover up and feel shame for our bodies from a very early age, and then we wonder why as women get older they have body image struggles.

And this is considered normal…

We fail to teach men and women alike to be respectful of another human being. To not leer or jest or joke at another’s expense.

We fail to teach boys to be accountable for their own actions, thoughts, and behaviors, instead planting those responsibilities on the female. Creating generations of disrespect and vile behavior.

We teach that women still need to cover up to be “acceptable” or “presentable” or “appropriate”. When those are other people’s judgements, biases, projections, and hate.

So, I ask you:

At what point do you feel this is sexism and at what point is it professionalism? Or is it ever either?

If an employee says, females need to cover over bikinis when swimming with clients because it is considered “too revealing” or “inappropriate”, what would you say?

Is that a professional decision or a sexist remark on their part?

If women have to cover than should the men have to keep their shirts on and have a short length requirement?

Leave a comment and let’s discuss. I am looking forward to seeing all your thoughts and your answers to the questions above.

 

*Peace and Love C*

 

 

 

 

 

SAP

7 Year Goodbye – *TW*

*Please be aware that this post may be triggering for some individuals and does contain talk in regards to sexual assault.

 

I’ve never loved April Fool’s day, but for the last 7 years I have hated this day with intense passion. It has been a day that resurrected so much of the pain my past has held. It has been a day I was often lucky to arise out of bed during. It has been a day of bitterness, but mostly it has been a day of reflection and of sadness.

Today, while I still don’t like April Fool’s day, has been different. Today, I met with many of the reminders of why I hate this day, I tied a ribbon around them, and I walked away. Determined to leave what today is for me in the past, where it belongs, and allow myself to enter into the avenues and areas around me that I have been closed off to for 7 years.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and many advocates are spreading the color teal around the world as a reminder that sexual assault has a place in so many peoples lives and that that fact needs to change. Preventing sexual assault is not about changing who we are as people in order to not be “victims”, men or women, it is about education and awareness.

SAP.jpgToday marks 7 years since my own sexual assault. Something I have never publicly and even rarely privately discussed. I pass the park next to my former college almost daily and yet refuse to enter. My children ask often to play at the park by the lake and I refuse. They ask why and I have no answer for their young ears. The reality has been, that I have not been ready to return. The park holds no joy for me, only anxiety and sadness.

7 years ago my life and the path it was heading towards changed. Many struggles, as well as many blessing grew from this one painful and defeating time in my life. While I am stronger today than I was that day, today, I recognized my own weakness still. I’ve spent 7 years hating today, 7 years hating a place because I have no person to face and never will. 7 years avoiding a main attraction of my own town. Most of all, I’ve had 7 years of pretending to be free from it all. Free from all the emotional baggage that day gave me.

Today, as the sun shone high in the April sky and the temperature hit nearly 65 degrees, something unheard of this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, I made this walk.

12941123_10208125222781631_516834354_oThe same walk I made 7 years ago. I made this walk today with the support of a dear friend who helped me handle 7 years ago. He stood with me cracking jokes and forcing smiles out of me as I made one of the hardest walks of my life.

I woke up this morning and felt ready to let the multitude of emotions inside of me go, finally. I purchased a roll of teal ribbon, met my friend, and walked into that park. I walked as I had walked that evening and I stopped at an ever growing pine tree. There are many in the park, but this tree, this tree is where my life changed. So it was here that I tied my teal ribbon, it was here I reflected on all my life was, is, and what it will be, and then…

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I walked away.

Today, I walked away physically but also I chose to walk away emotionally. Today, I am done letting 7 years ago be my voice. Today, I am done pretending. Today, I am done refusing when my children ask me to go to the park and play.

Today, I am Free.

Finding personal resolution to sexual assault comes to each person differently and that is absolutely okay. For me it has taken this 7 year anniversary for me to truly say I’ve said my goodbye to the physical, emotional, and mental turmoil of the last 7 years. 7 years for me to see myself as a survivor.

If you have suffered sexual trauma and assault please know that there are advocates and supports in your corner and that no matter how long it takes you, you can and will find a level life point. Please do not be afraid to reach out to someone for support or even to just talk. Please know that my message box is always open as well and I am always willing to lend a listening ear.

Remember that prevention of sexual violence is possible. Below are some ways that everyone can make a difference in advocating and working towards prevention. Everyone has a role and each is extremely important to ending sexual violence. For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness and the teal campaign visit nsvrc.org and help end sexual violence.

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Tantrums Get You Nothing…or Do They?

I cannot count how many times I have told kids, be it my own or my students, that tantrums accomplish nothing and will get them nowhere. Something I failed to recognize until yesterday was the inaccuracy of that statement. Tantrums do accomplish something. Whether that something is getting energy out, expressing a feeling, or learning a lesson about self or life, ultimately something is gained. What is gained may not always be positive but it is still something.

So how did this change in understanding occur for me? What prophetic moment sparked and brought this topic to mind? I wish I could say that it was just something that popped into my head, or that it came up in conversation, but both of those things would be a lie. The truth is, it came about because I, yes me, a grown ass adult, threw a tantrum yesterday.

Okay, so what was this tantrum over?

Well, it was over my workout at the gym. Yes, that is correct, I threw a tantrum at the gym.

What seems like forever ago, but in reality was just 12 short weeks ago, I had major surgery. A hysterectomy at 26 where not only my uterus was removed but pounds, yes pounds (12 to be precise) of scar tissue was removed. This scar tissue had attached itself to my uterus as well as my bladder, causing my stomach to expand as my bladder was slowly ripped in half as it was being stretched across my body.

During the time prior to my surgery I had been working out through my pain and hoping to keep energy and momentum in order to get healthier. I was proud at my progress and found determination in hitting awesome benchmarks. The one I had found myself most proud of was being able to complete a 3 minute and 9 second plank.

Cleared and feeling good at 8 weeks post surgery I went back to working out. Frustrated at a huge amount of weight gain my body experienced post surgery I was ready to get back at it. I had gained over 30lbs. For me that type of gain was unheard of. To be fair any gain was unheard of. Prior to my surgery I had to actively focus in order to not LOSE rapid amounts of weight, gaining weight for me was impossible. Post surgery that is definitely not the case.

So back to that tantrum.

Here I was at the gym. 12 weeks post surgery. I came in ready to push myself and feeling confident. It was AB day. Push-ups, planks, bicycle crunches, planks, burpees, planks, leg lifts, planks. That was my workout. For an hour. 90 seconds a piece. 2x.  And there I was unable to even make a plank for 30 seconds. I found myself comparing myself to pre-surgery me. I could do over 3 MINUTES before surgery and now I couldn’t even make 30 seconds. I felt defeated. I felt sad. I felt ultimately like I was failing because post surgery me couldn’t plank like pre surgery me could. And no matter how much prior I had heard, “you just had major surgery, you’ll get there” I couldn’t get that to make me feel any better. I felt as though if I wasn’t making that then I wasn’t trying hard enough.

The 2nd plank hit in round one and I dropped to my knees about 20 seconds in. I felt the tears coming. They weren’t sad tears. They were angry tears. I was getting angry. By the end of the first set I was pissed. The 2nd plank was worse than the first and I decided that if I couldn’t do those than I would put everything I was feeling into my other exercises and so I did. I hit my burpees with anger, with determination, and I think in the hopes of somehow telling myself it was me making up for something I felt like I was failing – my planks. I slammed my feet into the ground hard with each burpee I hit just trying to work out the extreme amount of pissed off I was feeling and when that 3rd set of planks came around my trainer called me aside, and called me out on what ultimately had been a bit of a tantrum.

He reminded me again that the body takes time to heal, it had only been 12 weeks, and that I can only do so much right now. And I hated those words because I knew it wasn’t what I could do. I had planked for 3 minutes before I could do more than 20 stupid seconds. I felt fine so why couldn’t I work like I was fine? Why wasn’t it showing? That is when I said that I was feeling defeated but bottom line I was feeling like a failure. Like I wasn’t pushing hard enough because I wasn’t meeting previous work expectation. And to me that meant I was failing. Failing myself and failing him. That it meant I wasn’t working hard enough because I wasn’t back to where I knew I could be. He reminded me that I needed to work to my CURRENT level to avoid injury whether I liked it or not and I finished my workout with that in mind.

So what did my tantrum get me?

My tantrum gave me some clarity and a whole lot of emotions. I am a still really frustrated at my inabilities right now. I hate feeling as though I am behind where I know I can be. And I hate feeling like I am not ever going to get back to what little strength I had had. I hate feeling like my goals are so out of reach because it makes me feeling like I will never succeed to my end hope. But I am recognizing now that failing is a choice but it’s also a perspective. I am at the gym and I work every moment to the best of my current, sucky ability. I push hard and I always feel my workouts in the morning. That means I have to be doing something right. If I was failing I wouldn’t be there at all. My scale backed up this budding thought process as I hit another 3 lbs down. This is leaving me at only 15 lbs from my pre-surgery weight and 20lbs from my goal weight. That’s progress. That’s progress even though I can’t plank for 3 minutes anymore. And progress is my goal.

The reality is, I may never get back to that 3 minutes ever. And I need to learn to be okay with that. Just like my mind is different today than it was even a year ago so is my body. A body that has been through a whole hell of a lot in its life and has a lot of healing to do. And I need to stop comparing who my body used to be to who it is now. My tantrum helped to remind me that even when I felt weak I wasn’t. It helped to remind me that when I feel like I am failing I am surrounded by people who remind me that I am maybe being a bit unreasonable with myself. It helped to remind me that I’ve been through so much, but there is progress being made inside and out that is positive and that I have to keep fighting for that.

In this I learned that tantrums, they do get you something. Sometimes good and sometimes bad there is always a lesson, always a reason, and always something to be gained. Now that doesn’t mean I recommend them, but it does me that I now respect what they have to tell me. Not just in myself but from my kids, from my students, from my friends, and from my family, because in them is always something more than just those hard landings during burpees, in them is some of the biggest fears, challenges, and struggles people hold in and don’t know how to express.

Thank you to my amazing trainer for never giving up on me. For always pushing me not just to be fierce in the gym but to be fierce in my soul and to recognize the connection between what’s manifesting outside as a result of what is happening inside. For smiling through my tantrum and taking that time to remind me again no matter how many times he has before, that I am not in competition with myself or others in this journey to health and that I am not a failure to anyone including myself. I can’t promise I will always have good days, but I can promise I will always work my absolute hardest, whatever that level may be in order to become a better and healthier me inside and out. Thank you for not giving up on me even when I wanted to give up on me.

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I am #medicatedandmighty!!!

There are commonly two ends of the spectrum when it comes to people taking medication. You have those that will willingly take medication prescribed to them in order to heal their ailment and those that do everything they can to find a natural alternative to cure their ailment and avoid taking medication. As long as there is no abuse of medication occurring neither of these methods or avenues are bad. What is bad however, is the rising stigma against mental health disease.

We may not be aware but we all know someone that suffers from a mental health struggle of some kind. We likely aren’t aware because of the shame and stigma that surrounds mental health in our society. Last month a women named #ErinJones became tired of that stigma. Posting a photo of herself holding her anti-depressants she spoke out about her personal mental health journey. This post has now inspired thousands of other people to respond with their own photos and stories. From this single post the hashtag began of #medicatedandmighty. This hashtag isn’t about glorifying pharmaceutical companies, it is about recognizing that there is nothing wrong with those that need a little extra help with what they are facing in life. Needing anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication, or anything else for mental health, doesn’t make one less of a person or less of a fighter and survivor.

Three emotionally and physically challenging pregnancies, surgery struggles, illness, difficult relationships, and a myriad of other things in life left me foggy and unable to understand why day-to-day activities were such a struggle. I fought alone for many years before recognizing that there is zero shame in needing a little extra help. Placing myself on anti-depressants was one of the best choices of my life. Allowing me to be a better mother and a stronger women I felt myself returning to a state of normal. A state I had not felt in a long time. I was able to be off of them for over a year before life events made me notice somethings in myself I was not okay with. I was continually anxious and my moods were struggling. I was able to acknowledge that at that point, with everything life was throwing at me, I needed a little extra help again. I put myself back on my anti-depressants after speaking with my doctor and have noticed a huge shift in how I am processing myself and the world around me. I am no longer ashamed of needing that extra help because it makes me a better person and a better mother when I take care of myself.

  • It does not make me weak.
  • It does not make me a druggy.
  • It does not make me incapable.
  • It does not make me unhealthy.
  • It does not make me brainwashed.
  • It does not make me crazy.

 It does however, make me strong, and capable and fierce. It reminds me of the battle I am fighting and winning every single day of my life. The mark of a strong person is one that can ask for the help they need even if others have something to say about it. So stand up! Receive the help that you deserve and do not be afraid. The stigma for mental health must come to end.

I am STRONG!

I am FIERCE!

I am LOVED!

I am a FIGHTER!

I will WIN!

I am #medicatedandmighty

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Together we can end the stigma on mental health. Together we can change the world. Together we can heal.

Unwed Pregnancy, the Stigma Needs to Stop

I recently read an amazing blog post by one Chad Ashby that moved me very much and I feel called to discuss it. His article, entitled “Brothers and Sisters, Unwed Pregnancy is not a Sin” is about as on point as one can get. I urge each and everyone reading to click his link and read his powerful and ever so true words. This thought process is a huge flaw in the pro-life movement and in the mindset of many people in general.

When I was pregnant with AG, my birth-daughter, I was young, alone, afraid, and not ready for the world to know I was pregnant. Raised in a very religious household and within a very strict community I knew what people would think, or say, no matter what was actually the truth. Once people started to find out the whispers began. And it wasn’t outsiders that whispered, it wasn’t members of my town or strangers. No, it was people I had once called friends, it was family, it was the congregation at church. It was easier to shun me and call me names than dare accept me or the child in my womb. And yet each one of these individuals called themselves “pro-life”.

I was chastised on a regular basis for being joyful about my pregnancy despite its struggles and difficulties. This was unfathomable to me. Why wouldn’t I be joyful? It’s a life. And yet I had people around me telling me to not be happy, that things were horrible, that I was horrible.

It was this point in my life where my faith was truly tested, and quite honestly it was at this point that it started to first crack. I saw around me, constantly, members of my church, people of my faith openly condemning me for my pregnancy and my choices in that pregnancy. I struggled to rectify beliefs with the actions of the people I was surrounded by. It was in this darkness, feeling utterly and completely alone and abandoned that I found my safe haven.

The Nurturing Network gave me hope again. Pairing me with a peer counselor, helping me make doctors appointments, and reminding me that I was worth it and that my life would be okay and so would my child’s. Mary and Ann helped me beyond measure and through them and my counselor I met the women my daughter would call mom.

I had many people tell me what I should do, what I needed to do, even commanded of what I had to do. But through the support of the Network I was able to make those decisions for myself. It wasn’t easy, but my knowledge of child development, life, and my ability to see where I was at in it I knew in my heart that adoption was the best possible thing I could do for my child. I was unsure of how it would work but through the support of the family and the Network I am blessed to have an open adoption and the ability to see my first daughter grow up every day.

I am blessed beyond measure to have found an outreach that reminded me that unwed pregnancy isn’t a sin and that I had no reason to allow myself to be cast aside or treated as infected. If one is going to preach “pro-life” in any capacity one must know truly what it means and how to advocate for it. Because if we condemn a mother for being pregnant we condemn that child inside her and there is nothing pro-life about that.

Mr. Ashby had a very good line in his article stating

When we overlook sexual immorality but condemn unwed pregnancy we spread Satan’s lie: “Fornication is fine, but babies are bad.”

How true that statement really is.

It’s time the the “Pro-Life” community, and the Catholic community especially realize that unwed pregnancy isn’t a sin and that by continuing to operate under that overly pious belief and react in manners that tear down unwed pregnant women or make them feel ashamed, you contribute to the destruction of life. And therefore have no right to call yourself “Pro-Life”.  Additionally in that condemnation you pull people from the faith. It is our job as as Catholics, as Christians, to lift up people. To make them feel the love of Christ, a Savior born to an unwed mother himself. Perhaps it’s time to look back on that fact my Catholic brothers and sisters and see the grace, the humility, the love, and the reaction we are supposed to be giving these women.

For Elizabeth said unto Mary “Blest is the fruit of your womb” Luke 1:42

Not what the hell did you do? What were you thinking? How could you? How dare you? For shame? What are we going to do with you? Get out. Not let’s hide you away so no one knows. But “Blest is the fruit of your womb” … with open and loving arms Elizabeth met the unwed Mary. And with open and loving arms so must we meet every pregnant mother that comes our way, wed or unwed. For it is in that we spread the message that life is Scared. Valued. And Irreplaceable.

Autumn Time Changes

Well Autumn has arrived in my neck of the woods and I am loving it. It is by far my favorite season. With the Fall breeze, the changing leaves, and the hustle and bustle of life  sets in.

It’s been a great while since I have posted last, as I have allowed life to get in the way and my time management skills. I have lacked slotting in time to focus on writing that isn’t part of my scholarly work. Graduate school is going well thus-far and my biggest obstacle is making quiet time for me to truly focus on my work and put all that I know I am capable into it. I am four weeks in to a twelve week quarter though and so far, so good.

The children are growing up faster than I would like to admit. LM is nearly three and has hit the chaos that goes with that age frame. We have frequent episodes of dramatics, yelling, screaming, overwhelming (for us both) times and she is still being stubborn on potty use but is still working on it. On the flip side to the CRAZY threes (seriously twos have nothing on threes) she is making huge developmental strides. LM’s newest fascination is dressing herself, she loves to change a million times a day all by herself. It isn’t always right side in, or on just right but the concept is growing every day and I am very proud of that fact. She also is attending a play-school taught by a friend of mine twice a week. She is able to play with her friends and do some learning and activities, it has been fantastic for her and she absolutely LOVES it. Her conversational skills are also quite amusing – she is totally 2 1/2 going on 15.

MM is almost 8 months old, which is hard to believe. He has two bottom teeth and is working hard to get the top two to pop in as well. He crawls like a madman and regularly gets mad that he can’t walk like LM can. He wants to get around so badly and do everything. He is still quite the chunk and has a huge amount of personality. He also is still his daddy’s little clone.

I fill my days with child rearing, school work, and spending time with my best friend who is staying with me at the moment. My days are often overwhelming and I find myself needing to take more time to rest and reevaluate than I have in years past. I feel myself reflecting on things differently than I have at previous stages of my life.

As the Autumn air fills my lungs I remember the big things and the little things I must accomplish. I acknowledge the feelings I have for everything going on in my life right now and I center myself in the acceptance of my abilities and the focus of my mood. This journey we are embarking on will not be easy, but it is more than possible.