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It Starts With Us: Parents Talking to Their Children to Stop Bullying

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“You’re not thin enough”, “You look weird”, “Why are you even here? You should die”, these phrases are just a few of the phrases that are being thrown around in the schoolyards, in the classrooms, and I kid you not, at work as well. And believe it or not, there are even some worse phrases that will not be mentioned in this post. Why? Because they are horrifying and should never be said to another human being, or any being for that matter.

Now, I am not a parent, well, I am a fur-mama, but I do not have any human children at the moment. However, I do have nieces and nephews, and they are the light of my world, and right now they are very young, very impressionable, and can sense when things are not right. And I know that they are the perfect target for bullying. Hell, every child, teenager, and adult is a perfect target for being bullied. I know this. I’ve lived through most of my life of being bullied. Bullied by classmates, by teachers (yes, that does happen), and even bullied by co-workers, and it is not something I would want another person to endure.

Recently, I found out that a friend of mine’s son was bullied. Bullied to the point that he was sent to the hospital with a broken nose, several broken ribs, and bruises all up and down his body. Do you know how angry this made his father feel? How his mother felt? Hell, when I heard what happened I got so mad to the point that I nearly broke a counter. Yes, I got that mad. But where does this anger get placed? On the school system? Absolutely, the school is responsible for the children while they are at school, and under their supervision. On the children themselves? Of course, they are supposed to know what is right from wrong. On ourselves? Yes, a million times yes it is, the anger should weigh heavily on us adults. Why should we be angry with ourselves? Because we are the adults here, we are supposed to show our children how to behave, how to treat one another and to show them that they are not supposed to bully and assault others. As the adults we are supposed to set an example for them, to show them that two beings can be in the same room without violating the other. We are not supposed to set a bad example to them about how to start a fight, how to mistreat a girl or a boy. We are the adults here, it is our job.

Yes, there are pep rallies every year in most schools that bring awareness to the subject at hand, but do they really make an impact? No, not really. Growing up I went to several of those rallies, and do you know what still occurred. The bullying still occurred. Don’t get me wrong, I think the rallies are great, but they do not actually do much help when it comes to telling children to stop bullying, to stop assaulting their classmates, or anyone they meet in life.

It all starts at home, with the parents. As parents, we are supposed to set examples, good examples of how to treat others, and it is the way you mistreat others, say unkind and horrible things about another person is what the children are seeing more of. I know this to be true. I know a lady who is in her early 40’s and she treats others like crap, she mistreats them, bullies them, steals their energy, and makes others feel like garbage. And time and time again her children have witnessed this, and time and time again I have to remind her that they are watching her every move, every word that she says, and they are more than likely going to mimic her as they grow up. And that is what happens. Children mimic their parents, they mimic the way we talk to each other, how we treat each other. And if they are seeing that we are mistreating each other, then they are going to assume that it is completely normal, that it is okay to bully and assault each other.

So, parents this on us. We need to be setting a good example for the children, and show them how two human beings can get along, and show them how to treat others. Have a long conversation, or two, or three. It doesn’t matter how many conversations you have with your children, the only thing that does matter is that you talk with them and that you set yourself as a good example. Because if we don’t do anything about this, then more and more boys and girls will end up in hospitals due to broken ribs, led to anorexia or bulimia, or even led to the final blow of a gun from being bullied.

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Why I’m a Feminist

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I am a feminist because I want to end unrealistic expectations for both men and women, there should not be some expectation to look like someone else to feel appreciated, to feel loved, to feel like we belong in some sort of “group”, this is not high school where they are focused on cliques, this is the real world that we live in, no two people look alike.

I am a feminist because I am tired of hearing, “Cool story, now go make me a sandwich” or “Real men don’t cry”, because these stereotypes are harmful to everyone around the world. Real men do cry, they have emotions just like the rest of us. And no one is your personal maid or slave, they are not obligated to make you a ‘sandwich’, you can go make it yourself.

I am a feminist because I want to end this horrible rape culture that we live in. Both men and women get raped, it is a proven fact. The problem is that not everyone realizes that men are also the victims to such abuse just like any other woman out there who gets raped and abused, they are terrified just like everyone else who endures physical, emotional, and mental abuse. To say that they don’t, is just down right ignorant.

I am a feminist because I want to end gender roles. In the past, roles to each gender were assigned, for men, they had to play with trucks, play in the dirt, get “manly” jobs, for women, they were told to play with dolls and have an easy bake oven, while dressing up in dresses and looking pretty. Young girls are allowed to play with toy trucks, and young boys are allowed to play with dolls that they find fun. There should be no roles assigned to anyone. If you like something, then by all means, do that hobby or get that outfit, just be you. I know several women who are welders, and they are badasses at their jobs, proving that they can do anything. I know a man who is a manicurist and he is phenomenal at his job, he chose that job because he loves it, he isn’t at a job that doesn’t love.

I am a feminist because I am sick and tired of people judging women based on their clothing, yet they gawk at a woman who wears a mini skirt and tank top, then catcall her. One, women are not objects to stare at, they are hardworking, intelligent, compassionate people, just like you. They are not meant to be stared down and made to feel inferior. Second, you have no say over what a woman wears, she wears what she wants to wear. It is her body, and you have no say over what she wears on her body. If she wants to wear a hijab, don’t you dare try to take it off to offend her. If she wants to wear a mini skirt, then let her wear that mini skirt. She wears articles of clothing because she is drawn to them and likes them. Same goes for men as well, if a man wants to wear a pink shirt, then don’t criticize him for it. If a man wears his pants saggy, let him, it is his body and he can wear whatever he wants just like women can.

I am a feminist because I am sick and tired of people comparing everyone to others and degrading others. Stop with the signs and memes that roam around Pinterest, Google, and other parts of the internet that say, “In a World of Kardashians, be a …..”.  Honestly, I don’t know much about the Kardashians, but to degrade them like that is wrong on many levels, you may not agree with their lifestyle, fashion sense, or moral compass, however you shouldn’t be degrading them and trying to raise another person up. Degrading others to feel better about yourself is just plain wrong and it shouldn’t be happening whatsoever. Comparing one person to another also needs to be put to an end, due to the fact that no two people are alike, it is nearly impossible, even twins are not alike on many levels.

I am a feminist because I believe in equal pay between men and women, based on education and experience, not based on what is between your legs. It shouldn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, it should matter on your education and experience. If a man and a woman both have a bachelor’s degree and also have ten years of experience, then they should get paid equally. Currently, women get paid $.75 to a man who gets paid $1.00.

I am a feminist because my feminine needs are not a luxury. Every woman since the dawn of time has had their premenstrual cycles, and they bleed for 5 to 7 days every 28 days. Tampons, pads, cups, whatever else is used out there, is viewed as a luxury. It is not a luxury. Stop hiking the percentage price to %40 tax.

I am a feminist because I want to protect all of those who are being forced to become child’s brides as 10 years old. I don’t believe in becoming a bride at such a young age. Back in the 1500’s men and women were betrothed at the age of birth, and were made to get married at once they were to be perceived as a man or woman. We live in the 21st century, and things need to change today.

This is just the icing on the cake as to why I am a feminist. This is extremely important to me, and should be important to everyone around the world. Why are you a feminist?

 

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Book Club: January

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Welcome to 2017 everyone! This past year went by so fast, I could not believe it with my own eyes. I wanted to kick off the new year with a wonderful novel that you will all thoroughly enjoy.

When the Moon is Low is a beautifully written novel by the talented Nadia Hashimi; the author behind The Pearl That Broke Its Shell and A House Without Windows. The novel follows a lady named Fereiba living in Kabul, working as a school teacher. While she works as a school teacher, Fereiba tries to shut away the childhood that she endured, while she finds love in an arranged marriage. All in all, Fereiba is living a comfortable life; however, that comfortable life comes to an end, when the Taliban rises to power and her entire family becomes a target for the new regime ran by fundamentalists. Fereiba and her three children are forced to flee from their home all the way to London to live with her sister. In the dead of the night, under the cover of darkness, Fereiba and her children make their way to Iran. This journey has transformed Fereiba into a desperate refugee seeking safety for her and her children. Unfortunately, once Fereiba and her children make it into Europe, they become part of the underground network for the undocumented refugees. To make matters worse, her eldest teenage son has been taken while they were in Greece. Without his mother, the young teenager is forced into human trafficking and refugee camps, leaving him to grow up in them and endure the coming of age in the worst places imaginable.

If you wish to see what will happen to Fereiba and her three children, go grab a copy of it in bookstores across the world, or even online. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and you will not want to put it down for even a second. Your heart will be racing and your mind will run rampant as you envision Fereiba in your mind as you read.

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Healing From the Core – Weight loss

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Scales, they are the epitome of evil; they can make grown women and men cry just by the number that is on the scale. And pretty much all of you know that I haven’t really stepped on a scale in quite some time, in fact, I threw out my scale way back in the beginning of the year. And here we are, just a couple of weeks away from it being 2017 all over the world. And you know what that means, resolutions. Every single person on this year is going to make a resolution of some sort, for some it might be to move to another place, for others it is to finally settle down, and for some it is to lose weight.

Now here is the problem that I have with people trying to lose weight, everyone seems to think that once they lose that 10,15, 25 pounds that they will have a healthier relationship with their body; not only that, they seem to think that the number on the scale is what matters the most, which to me is utterly horrifying. First off, before you start losing the weight, you need to establish a healthy relationship with your body now. Not after you lose the weight. If you establish a healthy loving relationship with your body then you will still love it after you lost the weight. You shouldn’t be at war with your body, that is the media and society telling you that. You don’t need to be downing every diet pill that is out there just to lose a little bit of weight just because others are telling you to lose the weight. And you certainly do not need to lose the weight just to please others (however, I would like to interject here, if you are clinically obese and are on the verge of Type II Diabetes, then you need to speak with your physician).  Secondly, that scale that you have stored in your bathroom next to the shower or toilet, you need to toss that thing out the window and straight into the dumpster. Why? Because scales are completely inaccurate on many different things. For example, it does not take into consideration the organs, bone density, the meal you just ate, breasts (ladies your breasts weigh anywhere from 1 pound to 23 pounds, depending on size); those are just a couple of ways the scale is inaccurate.

If you want to lose weight than please do it the healthiest way possible, it isn’t that hard.

Love yourself – Yes, it sounds like being selfish. And in a way it is, the reason why you need to love yourself and accept yourself is due to the fact that you have been brainwashed by society and by the media since your birth to hate yourself for not looking like one of the many photoshopped models that you see on the runway. Instead of believing in our society and believing in the media, start believing in yourself; as cliché as it sounds, you know I am right on this. Every morning or evening, after you have taken a shower, stand in front of your mirror and look at your body. Name three to five things that you love about yourself, they can be about your personality, character, body, anything. By the end of the year, your relationship with your body will be healthier and more loving. **Everyone has flaws, it is just how we are all made, and it is great to embrace them.

Nourish yourself – Food is meant to nourish us and give us the energy to carry us throughout the day. It is not something that we need to torture ourselves with. And it is certainly not what we should be harming our bodies with. Eating the nutritious foods that are available in your stores and local farmer’s markets will help your body get the nutrients it needs, all the while you are enjoying the food. Eat whole, clean, simple foods. Basically, anything without a label is going to be great for you. On this note I would like to say that when you cook and bake for yourself, you are able to see what ingredients are going into the product itself. Unlike what you find in packaged processed foods and fast foods, where you clearly have no idea where that meat or other product comes from.

Exercise – It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you move around. Dance, swim, ski, snowboard, running, hiking; anything that gets you moving. Exercising at least four to five days a week for at least thirty minutes will keep your body healthy. Don’t make exercising feel like a chore, make it fun. Do something that you love to do and just do that for thirty minutes or so to get you moving. For myself, I am a Pilates Instructor and Muay Thai Instructor who loves to swim, jog, hike; play volleyball, tennis, and practice what I teach. You know what makes it even better, is when you have a partner with you; it can either be a friend or it can be your pet. Exercise for both you and your pet does wonders.

Catch those zzz’s –Sleep is a big thing, and trust me when I say this, for those who don’t get the number of hours recommended (8to 9 hours), they end up gaining weight. During the night (or day for some of you who work night shifts), your body is trying to run through the entire day and trying to loosen up your muscles, help in aiding digestion from the meals you had throughout the day, and letting loose of all of the stress that lingers in your body. Sleep is such a beautiful thing, and I think everyone on this planet agrees.

Release the stress – Stress is a big factor when it comes to weight loss, when you have a lot of stress reigning in your body, your body will try to fight back but to no avail. Instead you will have gained stress weight and then you will become more stressed, making yourself even more agitated. Yoga, meditation, retreats, camping, anything that will reduce the stress and help you relax will relieve that stress weight.

Toss the scale – Like I said before, the scale is inaccurate and therefor should not be in our lives. It does nothing but causes grief and hatred towards ourselves. There are many other ways to see your progress to a healthier you, and one of those ways is to look at the fit of your clothing is one way, for when they get looser and start to fall off that is a key sign that you have lost the weight.

Don’t listen to the media/society – Let’s be honest here, the media and society doesn’t know their head from a hole in the ground, in fact that they seem to think that you need to look a certain way to “fit in” or to be considered beautiful. But we both know that everyone is beautiful in their own way and their is no such thing as a “one-type”.  If everyone looked alike then it would be very boring.

Don’t fall into the fad diets and pills that these companies are pushing on you, because they are going to be more deadly than helpful; learn to love yourself, nourish your body, exercise, and live a life that is less stressful and more relaxing, and you will become a healthier you.

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The War on Our Bodies

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About seven years ago, I sat myself on my bed and decided that I was going to have a conversation with myself about myself, to finally heal. I grabbed my journal, a pen, and turned on some music. No one was home at the time, so this was a great time for me to do this. As soon as the pen touched the paper, a letter to myself began to take form. There were moments where I cried and there were moments where I laughed out loud. I just kept writing, it didn’t matter how long this entry was, and it didn’t matter how long it was taking, it had become highly therapeutic for me. I was finally having that conversation that I truly needed, the one that I had put off for years due to other commitments, but I had realized that this was something that needed to be done. This is was the conversation that I need to have to heal my mind, body, and soul.

Why? That was one of the questions that I had asked myself, why was I so hard on myself, and on my appearance. Why was I constantly picked on growing up for looking different from others? I was puzzled for awhile after I had asked myself this question. Then I realized, it was because of society and the media. They had been trying to brainwash me into thinking that since I didn’t look like a Victoria Angel’s model, that there was something terribly wrong with me. They had been trying to make me think that every inch of my skin was deformed. Once I had realized this, that was when I knew that the media and society was truly messed up. Placing the pen down and looking at the journal, I had realized a lot of things, one that everyone on this planet is so impressionable, regardless of age or gender. Another one was that everyone on this planet is unique and different, no two people are going to look alike, not even twins (granted that I already knew this, it had just appeared to me on another level). After that, I had decided to wage what you would call a war on the media and at society for brainwashing everyone into believing that they need to look a certain way to feel attractive. Not only that, I had decided that I wanted help others build better and healthier relationships with their bodies and finally feel comfortable with themselves and feel attractive. That was when I had created a ritual type of list for everyone to participate in, and today, I will share with you that list (in no particular order):

Stand in front of the mirror – After getting out of the shower, stand in front of the mirror, butt naked. While you stand there, I want you to look at every inch of your body and notice everything. After that, I want you to list 5 things that you love about yourself. These can be qualities that you already have, personality traits, physical attributes that you have that you think look amazing. Do this every day, and by the time it is the end of the year, your relationship with your body has become healthier.

Stretch to the sky – I am a certified Pilates Instructor and enjoy both yoga and Pilates, they help the body stretch and let the muscles relax after a long day at work. Participating in yoga or Pilates will help you connect with your body on a deeper level. You will see that you and your body are no longer at war with each other anymore.

Embrace your flaws – Everyone has flaws, and I mean everyone. Even the models that walk the runway to the prince’s and princesses of the world have flaws. Everyone has stretch marks and cellulite, that is what happens when you go through puberty, when you are pregnant, when you go through life in general; it is natural and nothing to freak out about.

Shut out the media/society- Let’s be honest, the media doesn’t know anything, their metaphorical head is shoved so far up their metaphorical rear end, that they cannot see that they are doing damage to each person in this society that we live in. They do not realize that they are part of the source of the problem that is consuming each person when it comes to body shaming someone. Turn away from the side of the world, and come over to the side of the world where you are accepted, where your body is accepted the way it is, and where you will not be judged. That is where you belong.

Accept your body the way it is – Everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way, and that means you too. In the end, you don’t need to be a certain way or look a certain way to be yourself.

Remember that the scale is inaccurate – That scale that you have in your bathroom, it is completely inaccurate. It does not take into consideration your organs, your time of the month (ladies), bone density. Also, there is one thing that the scale cannot tell you…. your worth. You are worth more than a number on a scale and some waist measurement that anyone gives you. You are worth more than all of that. In fact, your worth is so priceless that it would be hard to buy it from you. Remember that.

For all of those who want a bikini body – For all of you who wish to have the “perfect bikini body”, there is only one thing that I need to say to you. Put on that bikini and rock it.

Don’t listen to the body shamers – No matter how far we get in this life, with making an impact on stopping body shaming, there will always be those who feel the need to body shame others just because they are insecure with themselves and feel like they are justified with being able to make fun of others. Don’t listen to them and don’t let their rude comments on any of your social media accounts or in person destroy your beautiful aura. They are not worth your time. I would like to bring this up in this section, if you are going to take down a body shamer, do not body shame them – you will lower yourself to their level, and that’s not what you want to do. Keep this in mind, you are the only that decides your worth; not the scale in your bathroom, and certainly no body shamer that roams about in cyberspace.

Every body is beautiful – No matter what, there is always going to be those people who have decided to say that “bones are for dogs, meat is for men” or “people don’t like fat cows”. And honestly whenever I read something like that, I throw up in my mouth. There is no one body type that is more beautiful than the other. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is beautiful.

Never be ashamed of your body, for your body is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with it, and don’t let anyone ever try to tear down your worth or strip you of your beauty that glows from the inside to  the outside.