Guest Post – C.U.L.T.U.R.E


My name is Adeola and I am Nigerian. I have always thought that one of the biggest issues that exists in Nigeria is the fact that “theoretically” there are no options, for most people, there seems to be an already set out agenda for how lives should be lived. I wrote this some time ago to capture this reality. I decided to post this here because I realise this isn’t peculiar to Nigeria. But I also realise that like in every situation, there are exceptions.
I hope you like it and all that.

Culture!
Nursery school, Primary school, Secondary school, 4 years of university, 5 years even better,
then they can boast, “my son studied engineering”, “my daughter is a law graduate”
As if that alone defines satisfaction

Culture!
Ruling our lives and world silently
telling us what we must and mustn’t do
whispering silently that our choices and dreams do not matter

University done, now it’s time to get married
lest I forget, masters is a must these days, “just do it, everybody else is,
how else do you expect to get a good job?”
“Now don’t spend all your time studying, I want to see my grandchildren before I die”
“What do you mean you have things to achieve first, what do you mean you have dreams and goals?”
“You already have a job, don’t you? You don’t have to enjoy it right now, you young people and your funny ideas”
“The important thing is that it brings in money”
“And now you’re going out again, to the movies eh? Is that where you’ll find a good christian husband?”

Culture!
Who came up with these rules?
Whose reality is this?

Hear the relatives whispering among themselves when I say I want to take a year off before university to travel and experience different things, new things, meet people.
Hear them, “So unserious, when her mates are talking about school and such, she’s talking rubbish”
“Don’t mind her, refusing to study nursing because she’s not interested in it, is it a matter of interest?”

So then, I live my life for them;
Nursery school, Primary school, Secondary school, University, got a job, got a husband, I did it all for them.
You would think they’d leave me alone now,
let me be and enjoy the life I now have
but just as I am about to let out a sigh of satisfaction,
I hear a banging on the door, they’re back, they want more,
I try to block out the banging on the doors and the windows, the screaming;
“When are you going to give us grandchildren? do you want us to die without seeing our grandchildren?”

Culture!
A friend that has somehow become the enemy
With effects that crept up on us so slowly, we didn’t notice

Don’t get me wrong, culture isn’t a bad thing,
culture defines a people after all
I just wonder; if we actually think, will all aspects be for everyone?
Would young people all be looking to get “big office jobs”, no matter what it is and regardless of whether or not they enjoy it?
Would young girls be getting depressed that they aren’t married at 24 just because their friends are?
At some point, we stopped thinking and just did
We always talk about finding fulfilment, why doesn’t this include important issues such as education and marriage and such? why do we take it as a forgone conclusion that those things are meant for everyone?
All people aren’t meant to play football, are they?

Approximately 1.7 million Nigerian students took the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination in 2013 and about 1.2 million of them did not get into university… think about that.

I blog at aeyshadeedee.wordpress.com
adeola.matemilola@gmail.com

Guest Post-How To Be A Good Friend To Someone With Bipolar Disorder


Hi, I’m [river in Ireland] (*cue twelve-step group greeting here*), and I have bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. To people who have known me for a long time, this isn’t usually much of a shock. Actually, I take that back. People who have known me and been close enough to have seen some rough times aren’t usually that surprised. As for everyone else, my friendly and talkative exterior can hide pretty much anything I want it to. I’ve had to use this skill a lot in the past because I have had some people find out that I have bipolar and not be very nice about it. I think my favorite comment was that I was ‘demon-‘ or ‘spirit-possessed’. *roll eyes* Others think I’m not as much fun anymore since I have begun taking medication that doesn’t allow me to bounce off the walls like I did before. Still others think I’m just a freak. Of course, I was pretty freaky before, but that’s not the point. :)

The point is that people with bipolar disorder can be quite complicated; things can bother us that won’t bother ‘normies’, and our medications and treatment can take a lot out of us. The disorder is very complex and there is more being learned about it all the time. There are various different symptoms or signs that can be mistaken as something else entirely, which makes it really difficult to figure out. It can really screw with someone’s life. For instance, it wasn’t uncommon when I was first diagnosed to get four hours a sleep a night for two weeks straight and clean the house up and down at 3 am**…only to crash the next week and not shower or leave my bedroom for two days. That’s not even counting the episodes where I was crying and throwing things one minute and dancing a jig the next (only a slight exaggeration), with major swings like this happening in the same day. It’s kind of hard to hold down a job when your boss can’t figure out what planet you are going to be from one minute to the next! That’s not even talking about the medications and their side effects-I’ve been through several changes and can’t even keep track of them all. One of the medicines that worked the best for me also gave me shakes so bad I had to see a Parkinson’s doctor. Another gave me gas you wouldn’t believe, and still another made me gain so much weight that I was nearly too fat to fit into my wedding dress! And you know what’s scary? I’m one of the luckier ones, because I can even take medicine; I know some people who haven’t been able to find anything that doesn’t mix badly with their other medications, assuming they can find something that does anything at all.

Bipolar has a strong tendency toward comorbidity-meaning, it often occurs alongside other similar disorders. I’ve lost friends and had others change how they relate to me, although I have had some actually come closer because they had similar problems and felt I wouldn’t judge them. Generally, though, it’s one of those things you don’t really understand very well unless you have it yourself. In this spirit, I thought it might be fun to give sort of a ‘guide’ on the care and feeding of your bipolar friend. :) So, let’s get started:

Let the other person bring it up. I personally don’t mind talking about it with some people, but there are others I would just as soon not know. It’s not really anyone’s business, unless I choose to *make* it their business. The same might hold true for your friend, especially if she is newly diagnosed or has had a rough time with it. This is especially true in work situations; there is so much misinformation and stigma out there that the last person many people want knowing about something this personal is someone who has control over their future! Asking respectful questions when you are alone might be okay if you know she doesn’t mind talking about it with you, but when dealing with a group, let her bring it up first. It’s not usually relevant to ‘normal’ conversation, and a lot of people can be downright nasty and judgmental. I learned this the hard way. :(

Do your homework. You don’t have to become a medical scholar or anything. However, it will help you to better understand and therefore support your friend if you have an idea of what is going on with her. Again, this disorder is very complicated, and there are several different varieties. However, the impressions often given in the media and in fiction are just that-fiction. The movies have a way of misrepresenting things to make them more interesting. If you do read up on it, look to more factual and neutral sources. About.com has an extensive section about the disorder and the methods of treatment written in language a ‘regular person’ can understand. If you want to hear it “straight from the horse’s mouth”, so to speak, here’s a link to a video-based support community at healthline.com: http://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/youve-got-this.

There very well might be changes in your friend that you might find irritating; knowing where they come from can help lessen the annoyance. For instance, my memory isn’t as good as it once was. Since I have the ‘racing thoughts’ that often go along with bipolar, a lot of the time I won’t remember something as simple as instructions or the name of someone I met five minutes ago. It’s not that I’m not thinking, it is that I am thinking too fast. Well, to say ‘thinking too fast’ and ‘of too many things at once’ might be more accurate. I might repeat things, not realizing I had already asked the same question or told the same story before. I know this can be frustrating, but understanding that this is part of the disorder often helps. Think about it, aren’t you more sympathetic to the person walking slowly in front of you if you see that the person has a cane? It’s the same thing with us. This doesn’t mean that we should be able to get away with whatever we want to, but if you know where something is coming from it is often easier to help with it.

And please, for the love of God/Allah/Vishnu/kittens/or whatever it is that you believe in, do not assume or imply that a person could ‘be better’ if they only tried harder/had enough faith/thought positively/got themselves together/got rid of sin, etc. I know from personal experience how much this can hurt. It’s great that you care enough to give suggestions, and some of those things can help. In fact, therapy or thought-reprocessing are often an essential part of our recovery, especially for those who also have substance abuse problems (a good 30%-60% of us***). Please understand that this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to the person about God or their religion, either. However, this is very important-bipolar is a medical disorder. It’s really no different from arthritis-a condition that can be managed but not cured, and isn’t brought on by anything the person did.

I understand that some people have religious views that anything can be cured or healed by the hand of God. I also understand that some people find a lot of comfort in spirituality. I myself have a pretty strong faith, although it has faltered at times. Faith, spirituality and a connection with something larger than/outside myself has been a big part of my life, even though there are times when I am depressed and feel completely cut off from God. But think about it like this; If God made this planet and everything on it, then how did the doctors get their talent and what are the medications made of? To use a rather ubiquitous and annoying cliche, think outside the box, people. Perhaps a person can be healed supernaturally, and many times the illness will go into a sort of ‘remission’ where no symptoms show. Believe me, sometimes I would love nothing more than to have it all magically taken away.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the way it happens for a lot of us. Most of us have to take some sort of medication or have some sort of therapy at some point in our lives…getting these things is not a sign of failure. This isn’t due to any lack of character or faith on our part, although some will think this at first; I certainly did before I knew what was really going on. Being told these things by people who said they cared about me was one of the most painful things I have dealt with thus far because it knocked a huge hole in my faith in God, which was one of the main things that kept me going. It has been rather difficult at times to regain any sense of this, and I still haven’t in some ways. This is pretty common.

If someone is not religious, it can still hurt to be told things like ‘oh, you just need to think positive’ or such things. When depression hits, some people find it hard to get up the energy to think, period. They would like nothing more than to be able to think positively, but they simply can’t see anything past the darkness around them. Reminding them of positive things is good, but please understand that it isn’t usually ‘enough’ for someone who has a mood disorder; other forms of professional treatment are also needed. I know I probably sound bitter, and I don’t mean to give a guilt trip; I just wanted to give an idea as to how hurtful such statements can be.

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t understand everything your friend is going through. Half the time, we don’t understand it either. The fact that you care enough to try to understand and learn about it all means a lot.

Don’t assume facts not in evidence. This is somewhat related to the previous point. A good rule of thumb is not to assume something is due to/related to the bipolar (or complications from it) unless you are told that it is. For example, I have a friend who thinks she can ‘read’ me. She means well, but it seems that anytime I am sick or cranky or *gasp!* I get angry or irritated with her, she asks about my medications/doctors/etc. I guess it could be compared to the way the guys we went to high school with assumed that we were having our periods when we got annoyed with them-sometimes it was PMS, but usually it was because they were being annoying! I guess it would be one thing if I were eating corn chips and watching Monty Python one minute and started screaming and swearing the next. However, that is not how it usually plays out. I’ve often been asked about my medication when I’ve gotten bothered with my friend when she said something completely out of line or asked a question that really isn’t her business.

I know it can be really touchy and confusing when we seem to be in a bad mood for a long stretch of time or when we can’t talk about a particular subject without going off. Believe me, I understand that this can be scary! I don’t blame anyone for asking or thinking our disorder is at play, because sometimes it is. My wedding, for instance, was a big trigger when my friend was trying to help me organize things for it. The point is, however, not to use knowledge of our disorder as a catch-all to explain every mood or comment when our reaction to something might be the same a reasonable person could have.

Know when you’ve done all you can. There are going to be times when we need more help than you can provide. Keep in mind that our disorder has a strong medical element and thus we will sometimes need that type of help more than anything else, or more than we are presently getting. For example, one person I know had to be involuntarily committed to a 72-hour emergency mental health hold because she was dissociative, screaming and threatening to kill herself. In her home state, the police had to be called out to the house because she was causing a major disturbance. I don’t remember if it was her husband or her father who had her committed, but I do remember that she pitched a huge fit and wanted nothing to do with it. However, involuntary commitment was what was needed to protect her from herself and others from her. Not all cases will be this extreme, but parts of our disorder can only be effectively dealt with by medical and mental health professionals. It’s not your fault; please remember that. It’s a medical problem. We might say or think you are abandoning us or that you just want to get rid of us by handing us off to professionals, and we might hate you for it for a while. Hell, you might even learn some new expletives.:) I certainly have.

Please know that you are giving us what we need by referring us to someone who can give more help, regardless of what we might say. We’ll thank you for it later but, even if we don’t, still know that you have done the best you could do. You need to care for yourself too.

Above all:

Have compassion. We didn’t ask for this. It’s like I once told my husband, ‘Remember that however difficult it is to be *with* me, it’s probably at least that much more difficult to *be* me.” That doesn’t mean that you have to put up with whatever we want to throw at you (literally or figuratively), but that does mean that you should try to understand that it isn’t *us*, but the disordered parts of us, that are causing problems. If you need to get away-temporarily or for good-then by all means do so, but please know that we’re not happy with ourselves either.

If you’ve gotten this far, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this. It really does mean a lot that you care enough to try to learn how to help. Hopefully one day, we can return the favor.

**Yes, as a matter of fact, I did have the cleanest house in the Research Triangle area. No, I won’t clean yours.

***source-About.com, bipolar disorder-http://bipolar.about.com/od/alcoholsubstanceabuse/Alcohol_Substance_Abuse.htm

TheProzacQueen

http://theprozacqueen.wordpress.com

Guest Post – Why do I want you to remember me?


Have you ever watched a child die?  Have you watched a Mom and Dad hold their child’s hand, as they travel the road from a diagnosis of leukemia, through chemotherapy? Have you watched a child in pain, who never complains? Have you looked him in the eye and wondered is he scared?  Have you waited at his house for the ambulance to arrive, a child coming home for the last time? Have you sat beside parents and family as they bravely tell their young boy it is okay for him to leave? Have you watched with a breaking heart, as they kissed him one last time?

If like me you had watched this I am sure you would wish to do anything you could to help him. Well believe it or not you could have.

Just before Christmas 2012, a young boy here in Ireland, aged 12, was feeling very tired and off form.  He was admitted to hospital for tests. We waited for news, never imagining what we would hear.  The text his Mom sent me read, “The news is challenging, Dan has leukemia”.

The next year was one long nightmare. Within twenty four hours young Daniel was transferred to Dublin and had undergone his first of many bone marrow biopsies, had a Hickman line inserted, and had begun chemotherapy. Life as he knew it was over.

Within a week we discovered the only hope for Daniel was a bone marrow transplant. I accompanied my friend and her three other children to hospital for tests to see if any were compatible with Dan, and therefore potential bone marrow donors. Sitting in the waiting room, we shook our heads. Two weeks earlier life had been normal. How could this be happening?  A week later we heard none of the family matched. Defeated we held our breaths once more.

You wanted to help him, well this is the first point in my story where your help could save his life.

The word went out. Lists were checked. No potential donor in Ireland matched. No one in Europe matched. So the net was cast wider, and who would have believed it but a perfect donor was found in the USA. A young girl, at college. That is all we knew. A young girl, a stranger, had gone on the bone marrow donor list. Why? We do not know. Maybe her life had been touched by cancer or maybe she was just someone very special? Whatever her reason she gave a young boy a chance of life, and for a while she wiped away the tears of a family she would never meet.

Last July Daniel left home for his transplant. In America a young girl left home for a few hours, to save a life. The transplant was a great success, and Dan’s health very quickly improved. After only two weeks there was talk of discharge, and the excitement was palpable.

Then so quickly things changed. Young Daniel got a viral infection. He fought day and night for five months. His Mom and Dad stayed by his side throughout. Back at home life was on hold, we held our breaths and waited, every day hoping that today we would get better news.

It is at this point where once again you could help quite literally to save his life.

As Daniel deteriorated he needed blood transfusions and platelets every day. Each one of those transfusions saved his life. Each one made Dan feel better and helped him to continue his fight. He wasn’t ready to give up, nor were his team, and definitely not his family.

However there is only so long anyone can fight. All manner of drugs were tried to see off the virus, yet nothing had any real effect. Daniel got weaker, and life was no longer one with any quality. Daniel was put on a ventilator, and family were called. We wondered was this it? Would his Mom and Dad never hear his voice again? Would he never get his greatest wish to go home?

Then he rallied one last time. He was taken off the ventilator and for a few days we celebrated. However his Mom and Dad knew better. They knew their young boy well and they knew in their hearts it was time to grant him that final wish. With a strength I still cannot comprehend they said “Enough”, and they took their precious boy home.  Two days later, surrounded by his family and friends, he left for his new adventure.

When OM gave me this opportunity to write here I wondered what I would write. I thought about how I could best promote my blog? Would I write something funny, or serious, something that would give a good insight into what my blog is about? However as time ticked by I couldn’t get young Daniel out of my mind and I knew there was only one thing I wanted you readers to remember me for.

The prompt to give blood, and the nudge to look into becoming a bone marrow transplant donor.

Giving blood saves three lives, and going on the bone marrow donor list could mean a child like Daniel gets a chance.
I hope I have succeeded. I hope at least one of you saves a life.

Written by Tric from My thoughts on a page.

For information on becoming a bone marrow donor in the United States contact Be the match.
For information on becoming a bone marrow donor in Canada contact One match.
For information on becoming a bone marrow donor in the United Kingdom contact NHSBT
For information on becoming a bone marrow donor in Ireland contact IBTB

Guest Post – Slow Down and Breathe, Big People… Life is What You Make It


photo

I am a year old. I made it one year already, and Mama says I have many to go hopefully, and that one day a long, long time from now I will get to be a giant person like her and Daddy. I am excited about that, about getting bigger and learning to do the things like they do (especially walking)… but deep down I really don’t want to. You see, adults often seem to forget the actual meaning of why we are here. They have forgotten how to see.

I have seen my Mama and my Daddy running around like crazy getting so much stuff done every day. Actually, all of the giant people in my life seem to run around getting stuff done all of the time. They have to go and get things, pay “bills” (Daddy says that is what keeps our lights on and our house comfy), make food warm, take care of all of us little people, and many, many other things. Big people actually seem to have to schedule time to play and run around, and they have to make themselves exercise in order to stay healthy instead of letting play be their exercise. It doesn’t make sense. They have gotten lost somehow, and they can’t remember all of the things that I know that bring me joy.

Big people are really just little kids in big bodies. They get scared at times the same way that I do, they have imaginations if they let them out, and they have the same wonder in life. Underneath all the big list of stuff that they have to do, they are just like me. They have all of the potential to live with joy and happiness that I do. They have the opportunity to just… be… but they don’t let that happen. Instead, all of the big people that I watch, the ones that I know and the ones that I don’t, become balls of stress and worry—worrying most of the time about things that don’t really matter.

What matters? Everything around us that they no longer see the same way that they used to be able to see. I find joy in a bird flying above my head and I want to fly, too. In my mind I can. I love the feel of rain against my face, and I love when a breeze of cold air moves up my nose and makes my whole body cold for a moment. I love the simple sound of Mama breathing softly and rubbing my back while she rocks me to sleep. Underneath it, though, I know that my Mama is thinking ahead, thinking of what she needs to do next… and she can’t enjoy it the same way that I can. I can feel her wanting to get up because she can’t just enjoy the moment, and all that I want for her to do is to stay and snuggle forever and ever and ever. I’m growing up fast, Mama… don’t forget.

Wake up, giant people of the world. Wake up and just be. Wake up and enjoy the simple things in life, because when all is said and done and you slow down, at the very end, all of those little things that you have spent your lives worried about won’t matter anymore, and all that will matter is how much joy you found in everything around you and how often you stopped to breathe.

https://dorianshand.wordpress.com

Guest Post – Beginning My Life at 43. A Love Story. Kind of.


Hi.  My name is Laura.  I don’t think you’ve ever met anyone quite like me before.

 

I was having dinner with my Weird twin tonight when we were talking about our past.  We went to the same high school and graduated the same year, but never really knew each other, only in passing as we walked home in the same direction. It wasn’t until our 25th High School reunion we really got to know each other (I didn’t go to any of the others, lol, hell no- not back then).

We stopped and reflected for a moment – that we didn’t hang out then… cause we areIMG_4548 so alike and its like we have known each other forever. I told her– “you know, back then I was really insecure, had no self-esteem, and was in no way outgoing.  I’d never have the guts to be like what’s up.. or come up and talk to you or be like ‘hey man’. And you.. you probably thought I was stand offish and wanted nothing to do with you (I was told that before, lol).” She agreed and laughed but then looked at me puzzled, like she couldn’t fathom I was ever that way. But I was,and I’ll never forget that Laura, or her pain.  I will always hold her in a tight embrace.

Most of my life, I didn’t think I could. I had never any real ambition or motivation or inspiration, though I desperately wanted it. I was I thought wasn’t gifted like that. I was a nobody/loser/rebel/burnout, I didn’t fit in, and I was wasting so much time fighting those that hurt me, the norm.. because I didn’t believe in myself. I self medicated to block the pain of the wrongness surrounding me. Consequently, my life was a series of mistakes, over and over and over. I wasn’t living the true live I could and I had no idea how.  My children suffered because I was weak, discouraged and depressed for so long. I didn’t have the belief or courage to leave an unhealthy situation for fear of making their lives worse. I had no idea how much I was really worth.

Until about 6 years ago when I had to finally deal with my past.  So I went back and confronted the dragons~ where it all began.  I stepped out of my comfort zone- and it was very uncomfortable, at first. But then I stopped being afraid.  I finally figured out my mistakes, and why I kept making them. For the first time ever, I understood the meaning of loving yourself.  That you don’t need anyone’s approval to be exactly who you are, and that you can only control yourself and how you let others affect you. That you surround yourself with people who lift you up- and stop wasting time on those who bring you down.  Even and especially if they are so-called “loved ones.”  I realized that expectations and pre planted ideas of relationships are not necessarily correct.. in fact can be very damning to who you are. And as I continued to grow inside, my outside wanted growth too.. my running was getting better, I got a gym membership, started eating healthy and got some crazy-ass idea to run a 10K in the middle of January in Chicago. And then, a few Mud runs, Glo runs (totally need to do a Zombie run still) 5, 8, 10, 15K’s and a half later..

Marathon FinisherAt 44 years old, I ran my first marathon.  It was the kind of victory I’d never felt before but always heard about. With my weird twin too.It was her first. I started running at 41 to exercise my dog for gosh sakes.  And completing that marathon… a goal so not even in my stratosphere in LIFE, made me realize I could do anything.

Three weeks later, I became a Grand mom. I was never a Grand mom. I’m too young to be a Grand mom, I didn’t need to be a Grand mom!  I just ran my first marathon I just tasted my life…. but again, I realized I can do anything.

If I could make this breakthrough, do the things I have and continue to do (I have another marathon in October and I’m nowhere near ready, as life continues to hit me with lessons, lol) I know you or anyone could.  I wanted to go out and tell as many people who would listen and spare them from living one more minute thinking they can never live their dreams.  So here I am.  This is what I’m trying to do.

My blog is about encouraging anyone who doesn’t believe it to know that they can live their dreams no matter how old or how long they’ve lived their lives thinking they couldn’t.  It’s a mix of just some me, my grand baby, some recipes, ideas, running and physical stuff, mental stuff, my geeky side (yes I am one and proud), my grand baby, this crazy world, the people I continue to be blessed with cause I’ve made these changes and can finally do that, humor and especially.. what’s deep down. I want everyone to figure it out.  I cannot say it enough, until you deal, you’ll never truly be your very best,  so I encourage it. often and bring up subjects as they come to me that I hope can shed some light for someone.  And, lol, occasionally, I’ll have a pedestal that I have to stand on, or maybe some stuff I have to get off my chest but I’m me, and human, and I hope the ones that relate take comfort they aren’t alone or the only freak in this world.

Thanks so much for tuning in to my jeez-chick-get-to-the-point-already long ass blog and especially to my kindred spirit  J for giving me this pedestal.  I hope you will check me out as I continue to figure it out, grow, and share what learn.

Have a great night and remember that everyday is a new beginning,

http://www.beginninglifeat43.com

Borg Grand mom and Borg Baby

Borg Grand mom and Borg Baby

 

Guest Post – A Trip to Success; An African’s Woman Perspective


“For I see that then I was still all in a state of innocence, but that innocence, once lost, is lost forever.” ― Susan Hill, The Woman in Black

Four years ago, I discovered that the only thing that kept my interest for more than 48 hours was developing ideas and providing business solutions that were ridiculously simple yet totally effective in increasing profit margins. This was in no way related to the phrase ‘the place of the woman is in the kitchen’ that was constantly poured as hot coal tar into my orifices as a girl-child with the hope that it would melt personal aspirations and solidify to societal conformations. Well, it didn’t and after these past years, I can say one thing for sure; the place of the AFRICAN woman is definitely not in the kitchen, under her husband in the bedroom or birthing her womb sore, it is in adding her quota to humanity at every level she finds herself. The African woman has a purpose and she speaks!
Largely, in every African society, the definition of success for an African woman can be as thus;
“Once upon a time,
Tutu gets married to Yulu.
Yulu can afford the basics.
They had SONS
…and daughters.
He treated her with respect”

The End.

This definition of success for the African Woman is ridiculously limited and expressly determined by the eternal patriarchal system and cultural climate that has been dutifully instilled by society and recycled over hundreds of years least she be ostracized for having any other definition. One may add that this definition defies the concept of purpose.
Josephine M. Kiamba in her paper – Women and Leadership Positions: Social and Cultural Barrier to success – points out that culture and cultural expectations tightly holds the reins to aspiration of leadership positions in both private and public sector of the government while noting that the African woman pays a higher price in finding a niche where she can productively apply self for the benefit of mankind. This is because the ‘preparatory work’ involved as an African woman in following a vision is much more difficult than a man’s who is generally accepted by all as having the exclusive right to public life.
Some authors and papers have made premises on the fact that women are not always on the receiving end but that they actually enjoy some ‘inalienable privileges’. Why this may seem true on issues such as being the priestess of a shrine or walking in front of the man for protection (as was the case in this article “African culture and the status of Women: The Yoruba Example by O.O. Familusi, Ph.D.), the questions I ask are these;
1. How much are these “inalienable” privileges worth in the face of finding purpose and contribution to societal development?
2. How does these “privileges” undo or cushion the lifelong damaging effect of the inferior complex imposed on the African Woman?
3. Is the African woman any more less than a human being? Shouldn’t she have more than these “inalienable privileges”?

Clearly, an African woman that aspires to be a success story is labeled and tagged as loose and unfit by the same society she sets out to better especially in areas of politics, business and entertainment. Many say that a woman in politics must have graced the beds of political godfathers and a woman who drives a good car must be a mistress of a ‘big man’. What happens to hard work and the reward that comes with it? I dare not ask.

“Despite efforts made to ensure that female representation is achieved at all levels, women are still underrepresented in many government and non-government organizations particularly in position of power and leadership” De la Rey, 2005.

This comes on the heels of cultural stamp of subordination, the imbibed servant hood mentality via upbringing and the societal limitation and roadblocks at every turn from birth to death. In the Yoruba culture and in some other tribes across Africa, a two day old baby boy is superior to a female regardless of age. Inheritance is right only meant for the male child. A woman can be inherited. Thousands of proverbs portraying women as less important and an immoral entity. A man is allowed, encouraged and hailed to have mistresses and extra wives. A widower is hardly accused of killing his wife and can remarry in weeks while a widow is the killer in almost every situation and must stay at least a year before thinking of the possibility of remarrying or having sexual thoughts. Western Education is good only for male child attributable to the fact that a woman is seen as property and beast of burden at the mercy of the pleasure of the husband. The man has the right to public life. The list is endless as it is enraging. This brings to mind the adage that says “call a man a goat long enough and he will truly bleat”. The African Woman has been given their yardsticks and perimeters for success and it is behind the curtain.
The African Woman is met with stringent obstacles in penetrating the already unenabling environment for local companies and entrepreneurship as well as in political circles. The socio-economic climate is just as tough. Tsitsi Dangarembga from Zimbabwe in her interview with BBC News (BBC News, 2005) gave reasons for fewer women in position. Some include the fear of victimization from fellow women and men stemming from cultural expectation, lack of unity among women themselves, undue competition for resources and less time available for organization because of multiple roles. Excellence is therefore sacrificed for cultural acceptable standard of being a good marriage material-meek and submissive.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with being the good wife and mother, there should be ‘free passes’ for young African women who aspire to excel in the face of the ordinary. In this regard, there comes the need for continuous reorientation of the older generation, provision of networking and mentoring platforms to strengthen self-image and worth towards nurturing future leaders and the urgent need for today’s women to speak on this subject wholly and freely. This is not in view to eradicate our identity as African Women on the platform of civilization but taking advantage of human resources in our society.
This, I dare to say.

To be successful as an African Woman; you would have to be two men combined.

****

Uneñ Ameji, a writer, is the Author of Memoirs of a Justified Gold Digger on AfricanStories (http://africanlovestories.wordpress.com/e-bookstore/now-selling-memoirs-of-a-justified-gold-digger/). Her new books Finding Baida – sequel to Courting Baida is available on the Okadabooks App. She is @UnenAmeji on twitter and blogs weekly on http://africanlovestories.wordpress.com

Guest Post – A chance to live by Alisha of The Invisible F


Cheeky Monkey

Cheeky Monkey

I almost died last December.

I woke in regret. Three days after the deed, and out of intensive care unit, I lay in hospital on a ward with a middle aged woman, a pensioner and a stuffed monkey.

“Do you like your new friend?” the middle aged woman asked cheerfully. She continued in cheer despite my unresponsiveness. “What will you call him? Cheeky monkey?” she grinned.

It’s not like me to not say thanks or be polite. But I wasn’t me. In the throes of a major depressive episode, zapped of all will to live, and consumed by the devil that is depression, I was not me. I was a mere shadow of me.

Months after the failed suicide attempt, I sat in my bedroom and I remembered the middle aged woman in hospital. Mr Cheeky Monkey was staring at me still, this time on my book shelf.

“Damn it, I forgot to say thanks. I wish she knew her kindness was appreciated” I thought aloud.

It might seem an insignificant thing to think about in the backdrop of all that had happened, but my devastating war with depression has done something to me that I actually appreciate.

The little things, starting with the Cheeky Monkey.

The little things mean so much more. They matter so much more. And for the first time in my life, I feel I might have a chance to actually live.

I want to live.

I have been existing. All my life I wondered how I would and could carry on and after each breakdown or trauma I told myself my miracle would come in the next phase of life.

But my miracle never came.

It is impossible really to put into words the emptiness and misery that envelopes one dealing with clinical depression. I can only try to explain. And it is important that you understand or try to understand because depression is a killer. It is an indiscriminate killer. And no amount of accusations of selfishness or condemnation will save lives.

What will make a real difference is people like that middle aged woman in hospital who empathised and was brave enough to reach out to me while I was blanketed by a darkness no one wants to confront.

Noticing the little miracles

My state of existing slowed down the pace of life dramatically. I had readied myself for the end but after standing on the brink of death, it wasn’t easy to return to the road of life.

Bob the squirrel

Bob the squirrel

I survived partly by following routines fastidiously. This, the doctors ordered. What surprised me was the inspiration that came with the little things I noticed during these routines. And I really think it started with that Cheeky Monkey.

In my recovery phase my mind was processing things more slowly. I always had an eye for detail but on the bus the crying baby mattered more. I marvelled at the perfect ringlets in the lady’s hair, the cute freckles on the child’s cheeks, the picturesque view during my Sunday walks over Waterloo Bridge and the adoring nature of my neighbourhood squirrel (Bob) who visits me daily for food.

Somehow being compelled to slow down caused a strange reaction in me. I started to engage with the babies and children I met, I made them laugh or stopped their tears, I started smiling genuinely with strangers. These experiences warmed the coldness in me.

“Is that your Monday morning face?” I asked the frowning mister in the lift. He laughed, then I laughed. My friend says I’m brave to engage with total strangers but in truth having almost lost myself, has made me curious and keen to lift low spirits and interact with every lovely thing I come across.

My friend brought me a bubble blowing thingy and I started blowing bubbles, admiring their delicate beauty and ephemeral state. Every day I observe the closed flowers in my vases, watching them slowly blossom before they quickly fade.

I have appreciated and loved the beauty around me, but merely existing in this life has somehow lifted a veil over me, to reveal the depth of the ethereal and often transient beauty around us. How quickly some of it fades. And now, I don’t want to miss a thing. Not least the chance to love and be loved. Or look into beautiful deep blue eyes.

The battle continues. But amid the darkness I found a flicker of light. Something good has actually come out of depression. Every journey is different but I hope sharing can help someone else.

The view from Waterloo Bridge in London

The view from Waterloo Bridge in London

It is good that more people are listening and talking about depression following Robin Williams’ suicide (bless him). But we mustn’t forget. We often do as time passes until someone else loses their battle. We mustn’t forget. We have to help each other, with no judgements. Perhaps if we listen, and love, truly love, we can help our brothers and sisters in this life to start seeing the little miracles that have given me hope and a renewed will to live.

Gentle hugs :)
Feel free to stop by my blog www.theinvisiblef.com or contact me at theinvisiblef@hotmail.co.uk

Guest Post – Depression is an affliction of the gifted


I certainly did not plan to post this morning, but given the news yesterday about the passing of a great talent, artist, and human being, I thought I would just throw out a few thoughts.

It has been my observation that extremely intelligent people comprise a disproportionate percentage of those who suffer from clinical depression. Part of our problem in discussing this psycho-physical disorder is the use of a word that has another meaning in common parlance. A lot of the language we use to address what are science-based phenomena were developed before the science itself came into maturity, often from the 17th and 18th centuries. So, it is easy to misunderstand them.

It would not be necessary or appropriate to go on at length about the psychiatric definition of clinical depression (that is easily found all over the internet and I am sure there will be many medical professionals speaking out about it again today, in light of Williams’s passing) but I do want to remind people that they need to act on behalf of a close acquaintance, family member or loved one who shows signs of the disorder. It is even more acute if that person has been diagnosed.

People with clinical depression should not be left alone when they are suffering an exacerbation or flare of the disorder. We will find out what happened to Robin Williams, but it is my guess that he must have been alone for too long a period of time, or this could not have easily occurred in this manner. The manner of death appears to be one that would take some time to bring about (and again, I am only going on what the media has reported. Today we will likely get clarification on this).

Some people who suffer from this disorder manifest symptoms like mania (as in manic-depressive bi-polar disorders), and others by self-medicating with drugs, alcohol and even cigarettes (not that mild use of any of these indicates someone is about to take their own life, let me be clear).

It is my experience that, because this culture does not understand, nor support the admission of psychiatric conditions, those with syndromes like depression will try to mask their suffering, as if they have failed. They are often bewildered by it and the kind of initial reaction they get and care they do or do not receive, will often make the difference in how they deal with the stresses it causes, for the rest of their lives.

Treatment should be ongoing, for life. It is no different than any other physiological ‘disease’ and should be viewed and dealt with as such. There are old drugs that seem to help, like lithium. Lithium has been around for over 100 years or more and I have never heard of anyone dying from its side effects (although any time you introduce a pharmaceutical medicinal product into a living organism, there will be adverse effects). New treatments are being developed all the time. A person with this issue needs a caring and up-to-date professional to guide them through the process of identifying the management therapy that is right for them.

On a purely temporary basis, diet can help. Many times what appears to be depression can be caused by low blood sugar disorders. Simply changing the diet to a series of small, balanced, protein-enriched meals can even out mood, when this occurs.

On a purely temporary basis, diet can help. Many times what appears to be depression can be caused by low blood sugar disorders. Simply changing the diet to a series of small, balanced, protein-enriched meals can even out mood, when this occurs.

Another thing that can help, temporarily, are herbal-based products available over the counter, like SAM-E, St. John’s Wort (be careful here, as it has been implicated in liver dysfunction) and taking a calcium/magnesium multivitamin. This is just to get past a down or ‘blue’ mood. Sometimes exercise can help, and of course getting outside in sunshine. If you are with someone who suffers from bouts that might be a sign of true depression, you can help by staying with them, talking to them, getting them a protein-rich meal (not too heavy, of course), getting them to take a walk in fresh air and even just putting a full-spectrum bulb in a lamp and seating them near it while you converse.

There is no substitute for professional help. The depressed individual often does not reach out, because affect flattens during these episodes and they truly believe there is nothing that can be done. Or, when they are on medication and feeling better, they assume they no longer need it and often stop taking it, without letting anyone know. There can be a crash of sorts when the chemical imbalance that triggers flares occurs. Those are dangerous moments.

If it were up to me, every clinically depressed person would have a buddy, similar to the system used, in many substance abuse support programs.

In any case, they shouldn’t be alone.

I will personally miss Robin Williams. I don’t need to say anything else about him, as others have said it so eloquently, I wouldn’t presume to tread on that territory.

But I would like to say: not one more.

Beth Byrnes

http://byrnesbeth.wordpress.com/

Guest Post – Samurai Shrimp-Killers


We’re at a hibachi restaurant. You know the kind–the samurai chef performs at a table of conjoined strangers. One of these strangers asks if we wouldn’t mind forgoing the famous flame because his 6yrold is scared of it.

I say, ‘Your daughter’s a pansy I’m sorry, but our daughter has been looking forward to this for weeks. It’s all she talks about.’

He says, ‘Fuck you, you coldhearted cunt, you just ruined my weekend with the kid Oh, no problem. We’ll just take a walk.’

We exchange death telepathy and rejoin the goings on of our own respective families. Lucy is engaged in a Frozen singalong with her miso soup, Jack has discovered broccoli, and Rich is pretending that he’s seated too far away to thwart an impending food fight. I resign myself to a night of disaster avoidance, at romance’s best.

The show is over and–to my horror–there is no finale flame. Just the sad, anticlimactic toot toot of an onion volcano. So I’m like,

‘What the eff, sensei? Where’s the fire?’

‘Somebody sued the restaurant, miss. We do fire, we get fired! Ha ha ha.’

Ha ha ha, indeed. For weeks I’ve been telling Mila that hibachi restaurants are only open on Sundays. She’s going to give me hell.

So I prep my oh-baby-I’m-so-sorry-but-the-Japanese-are-a-cruel-people face. But she hasn’t been paying attention. She’s holding a shrimp in the air in front of her face.

‘Mommy,’ she says after a moment of me staring at her. ‘Is this…real?’

Uh oh. ‘What do you mean?’

‘Was this a real guy?’ She applies a gentle stroke to the blackening spice.

‘You mean, was that alive once?’

She nods. So do I. Solemnly.

‘Ohhhh. Poor little shrimp. Why do we eat shrimp?’

‘Well–‘ but I’m saved by the bell. Lucy has been reciting her one-hundred-mommys and she has now reached the finale. I turn to receive tonight’s brilliance.

‘Mommy, I think maybe fuckit is a bad word.’

I don’t want to see the smug look on Captain Pansydaughter’s face, because I will punch him and have to spend the night in jail. Instead I say,

‘Yes, Lucy. That is a very bad word. Where did you learn that word.’

‘My teacher taught me.’

Future teenagers of Boca: please be warned of the indelicacy of Lucy’s friendship. She once told her entire school that a knee-scrape was the result of Daddy Richie stabbing her with a kitchen knife.

Please help me tackle this parental steppingstone. What the fuck do I say to Mila? Yes baby, we employ inhumane butchering methods on farm animals but it’s ok because try it with ketchup isn’t that yummy? I don’t know how to be diplomatic about this. Let’s PG that and say only, yes baby–we eat animals. I mean…what? How didn’t I anticipate this nonsense?

Please help me.

Need reviews for your self pub? Visit my review site @ dirtylittlebookers.com. CALLING AL INDIES! to submit.

author blog: yadragonchaser.com

Guest Post – The Three-Legged Stool of Education: What Teachers Want From Parents


Now that school has started back for the majority of school kids, I thought I would talk about what it takes for every child to be truly successful in school–something I like to refer to as: the three-legged stool.

Educating children is comprised of three parts:  parent, community and school. These three legs help to support the seat – which is the child. Remove or weaken one of the legs, and the child will fall flat on his/her face. But with strong, sturdy legs working together, the child will continue to be supported all through his or her schooling.

I understand there can be many variables to this equation, and it would be wrong of me to paint every stool with the same brush. That isn’t what I intend to do here. Instead, I want to serve as the official “spokeswoman” for the “teacher” leg of that stool. I would like to share my wisdom and experience with everyone who has children who have either just entered school, or will be very soon. I hope you will read what I have to say here, because it will truly help you as your child moves through lower elementary and eventually gets to high school.

First and foremost: All teachers want your child to become successful learners in their classroom. People who go into the profession don’t go in with the attitude: “I’d really like to become a teacher so I can destroy children’s self-esteem and self-worth”.  It doesn’t work that way, so please don’t approach  your child’s teacher and accuse them of sabotage.

If you find your child is struggling with new content, or appears to be stressed or continually disorganized, then arrange a meeting with the teacher as quickly as possible to discuss how the two of you can work together to address your child’s needs. If your child’s teacher says he or she is concerned about specific behaviors in class, please be receptive to the possibility that something might be hindering your child’s ability to learn, and it might warrant a visit to the pediatrician to rule out any possible disorders like A.D.H.D. A child with an undiagnosed, untreated learning disorder is guaranteed a very difficult and confidence-destroying school career. 

I always sent home a letter to every parent at the beginning of the year asking them to tell me about their child. It was very open-ended, and gave me insight into their behaviors, abilities and general state of mind. Remember, you’re with your child all the time; teachers have them for only a few hours a day. Be proactive and let them know what they can do to help you. Teachers greatly appreciate this.

Second, children need to be given opportunities to fail. Through failure comes learning and growth. I understand that kindergartners still seem so little and helpless — and they are — but they also can be given small tasks to accomplish. Trust that your child’s teacher has been well-trained to understand the limitations of the age group, and they will push your child accordingly. This actually applies to all grade levels.

Parents who rescue their child (by doing their homework or projects for them) are sabotaging their child’s learning process.

By the time the students came to me in sixth grade, I expected them to take 100% responsibility for their behavior and their learning. If the homework isn’t done on time, or your child has left it at home, then the lesson learned is “I, not my parent, am responsible for my school work, therefore I accept the consequences of  my actions.”

It is a tough, but critical, lesson to learn. Most teachers will understand and accept that sometimes, things come up and work didn’t get done. We make exceptions to the rules. However, it is part of readying your child for life that he or she does his/her best to keep on top of their school work. Think of it this way: an employer doesn’t want to hear “I left my report at home on my computer”.  This is the same for teachers everywhere.

Third, children will lie or distort the truth to keep themselves from getting in trouble. These distortions include: lying about an upcoming test date, a low test score, a missing assignment or project, and misbehavior in school. It’s a natural defense mechanism. Before you go charging into the classroom, or to the principal’s office to defend your child’s honor, calmly email, phone or request a meeting with the teacher to discuss the matter. The truth of whatever happened may be very different from the version your child shared during dinner. Don’t rush to judgment until you’ve heard both sides of the story. If still unsure, request a meeting with the teacher and principal in attendance.

Teachers have regularly scheduled conference times available to meet for such situations. Teachers are also very, very busy during the day (you might have ONE child to keep track of, but they might have 25+) attending meetings, copying papers, writing lessons, grading papers, etc. Please, please be respectful of their time and work together to decide on a meeting date. Teachers will be much more receptive and willing to cooperate with you if you leave the hostility at home. And be aware that sometimes emails are not read right away either. I had a “within 24-hour policy” in responding to emails. If the situation was dire, I preferred a phone call.

Fourth, and this is probably one of the biggest complaints by teachers: we do not like to be told how to do our jobs. Imagine how upset you would get if someone outside your home judged your parenting skills. Has this happened to you? Doesn’t it bother you? That’s exactly how teachers feel when parents question content and curriculum being taught.

Teachers are trained professionals with extensive knowledge and understanding of the material they are teaching. They know how to adjust their teaching to meet varying needs and levels of understanding. They know what is and isn’t appropriate for kids to be taught at that age level.

Granted, every parent has a different level of “acceptable”. If you feel what your child’s teacher is teaching is inappropriate or too difficult, then tell the teacher. They are open to modifying the lesson plans. I’ve had a couple of students whose parents refused to allow them to read a certain book in class. I knew it was tough content, so I sent letters home and let the parents know there was an alternative assignment available. The parent was grateful for this, and it helped avoid an uncomfortable confrontation.

I am sure I’ve left out a few topics of importance. But, I feel those are the most critical and relevant issues for the start of the school year.

As a parent myself, I understand the love and devotion parents have to their children. They want only the very best for them. Unfortunately, life isn’t always going to be fair and children (and teachers) do make mistakes. They fall flat on their faces from time to time. With a strong, supportive stool in place, teachers, parents and the community will provide them with the support, confidence and skills needed to someday navigate through life’s challenges. After all, that is the true definition of “education.”

I wish each and every parent of school-aged children who reads this a very successful and stress-free school year. :)

 

Carolyn

 

If you want to read more from me, on a variety of subjects, feel free to check out my blog site:

http://www.mymusespeakstome.wordpress.com

You can also follow me on Twitter:

@CTLady50

 

Guest Post – If You Ever Acquire A Time Machine, Do NOT Go Back To High School.


(You can’t fix stupid, and you can’t fix acne. Except if you have that medicine that gives you crohn’s disease, I guess.)

We’ve all thought about it: If I went back in time, I’d tell my high school self… blah, blah, blah. It’s totally normal and there’s about a million things we wish we could change.

(Unless you’re one of those people who are all, “I LOVED HIGH SCHOOL, MAN!! I was soo cool and everybody and everything was awesome!” If you’re one of those… you are lying.)

I could change a lot. Like convincing myself not to eat that McFlurry before that 3 1/2 mile run at field hockey practice. (I threw up all over the lobby and didn’t even clean it up.) Or making sure I didn’t go to gym class the day we ran suicides so that I wouldn’t fall on my face and slide into the group of boys sitting by the bleachers. Also, I would knock myself out with the bottle of Jim Beam I decided to drink before heading to my junior prom (and subsequently getting kicked out, only after the limo driver I specifically told my parents I didn’t want decided to leave with all my stuff, leaving me drunk and stranded at the Radisson).

You can't tell, but I'm totally hammered and I'm holding a cigarette in my hand. What a jerk, right?

You can’t tell, but I’m totally hammered and holding a cigarette in my hand. What a jerk, right?

I thought about all these things while reading my old journals a few days ago. Flipping through page after page of idealistic nonsense and embarrassing stories, I imagined hopping in the Delorean and smacking my young self in the face. Then I started compiling a hit list of everyone who wronged me.

(I seriously had a list of about 30 people to kill. Like that scene in “Billy Madison” when Adam Sandler apologizes to Steve Buscemi and he crosses him off his list? Eerily similar.)

But honestly, if I ever got a chance, I wouldn’t even bother. Not because I didn’t deserve a good ass-kicking, but all those experiences (both good and idiotic) made me the person I am today. As flawed as that person is, those 4 horrible years changed me. They probably changed you, too.

And to everyone who’s all, “But I wanna be young again!” Shut up. No you absolutely do not. You think you could go back and be the most popular kid in school, but you’re wrong. Remember acne? Remember showering in gym class? Remember sleep-farting yourself awake in study hall? (Maybe not that last one, but I certainly remember it.)

Regardless, we all know most of it was completely shitty, but the good parts do not warrant going back. Plus, do you really think your 16-year-old self would listen to your advice?

You Back Then: “So… what do you do now?”

You Now: “Well, I write a blog and use this thing called ‘Facebook’ where everyone creeps on everyone else and posts pictures of cats. I’m in between jobs at the moment because my Liberal Arts degree is too broad, but I have like, 150 followers on ‘Twitter’!”

You Back Then: “That sounds really lame.”

You Now: “…Yeah…it is.”

See what I mean? But on the bright side, you learned from your ’90’s haircut and from the time you tried to pluck your eyebrows or gave yourself a fake tan, and now you’re a better person for it. Your high school sweetheart is probably married with a kid, but you realized they were boring and that they ended up with a nasty alcohol problem, so you came out better on the other side.

Be proud, survivors of high school: you’ve made it. You’re an adult with a car and a job (maybe) and you rock! (Even though you probably don’t think you do.) As for those still going through it, keep your head up. Things get better(ish), but I promise there is a lifetime of embarrassment ahead of you. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a friend who will take a picture of you with the frog you’re dissecting in biology.

Me and George, Sophomore Year.

Me and “George”, Sophomore Year. He was a trooper.

-Alanna

http://whitegirlsbelike.wordpress.com/

Guest Post- Writing Confidence: Ten tips for my teenage self


I’ve been writing since I grabbed a pen off the kitchen table and wrote about my doll’s adventures, but it was high school where I really started writing. I started to write fanfics about my favorite shows and my friends really enjoyed it. They asked for more stuff and I got enough confidence to make more storylines. My confidence grew to the point where I felt comfortable putting my stuff online. I was feeling pretty good, until I got a couple of comments that wasn’t very constructive. It happened offline too. I knew I had a lot to learn, but I didn’t know about the writing world online or offline that those comments knocked my confidence down. Along with my anxiety on top of teenage and school stress my confidence lowered to the point where I stopped writing around my senior year.

I didn’t pick my writing back up, until my sophomore year in college. Around that time I convinced myself that writing wasn’t for me, but I got some good advice from a new friend who told me to keep going. Since I couldn’t get better, if I stopped completely. When I started writing again I noticed that it helped my anxiety. This may sound cliché, but it did feel that a missing piece of me came back. I fell much better after I started some original things, like my serials, along with fanfics again. Though I hated that I let my confidence fall that low that I thought of some tips I would give my teenage self and kids one day. You know, if they happen to be writers too.

1. Don’t let someone change your mind about a genre. If there’s a genre you like, write it. You’ll feel much better than trying to listen to someone else.
2. There’s nothing wrong with writing fanfiction. A lot of great authors did it and you shouldn’t feel bad about it.
3. Carefully chose who you give your writing too. Everyone doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
4. Don’t let others try to change your story.
5. If you start to get anxious, take a break and come back to it later. You can always come back later.
6. Don’t be afraid to write that idea you think is too weird. It may end up being a story you love.
7. Don’t be afraid to read fantasy out in the open.
8. Try to finish what you start.
9. Carefully chose who you work with. That person may try to stab you in the back and take your idea.
10. I know you think you may run out of ideas one day, but you won’t. There are so many things in the world to write about, you’ll never run out.

I’m feeling better about my writing than I have in a long time. I still have a bit of anxiety over finishing something, but I’m getting better at that.

Is there any piece of advice you have about writing?

What you would you tell your teenage self?

Please visit me @ http://penelopeblack15.wordpress.com/

Guest Post – Labels (I Hate Them)


It’s something I can´t stand: Mr. “A” is a doctor, Mr. “B” is an attorney, Mr. “C” is a writer, Mr. “D” is a painter and so on.

Only a few understand that this guys,”A, B, C or D “can radically change their lifes, by “Mr A” becoming a farmer, Mr.”B”a winemaker, Mr.”C” a painter and Mr.”D” a writer.

The majority of people understand that once purchased a “label” (either by one academic degree, or a metier) it is eternal, i.e. (and illustrating), who has always worked in a coffee can only work on a similar job (Restaurant, Hotel), who always worked in a bank can only work in the financial sector, who always wrote can only be a writer, who always teached can only be a teacher, and so on.

Wrong, completely wrong, each of us can change our life radically. If that means to “cut straight”, to  fight againt “mainstream” and take risks? Yes, but if humanity did not have this ability, we would still live in caves …

The ability to challenge what is established in the quest for self and / or others’ happiness, is probably the greatest gift that any of us while humans have within ourselves.

Wasting this gift is stupid …

 

Originally published here by Pedro Cunha. For the ones that are able to read in Portuguese I provide the link for my Portuguese blog.

Guest Post – In Praise of Survival, by an Unviable Man


NOTE: This is a rewrite of a post that originally appeared on my blog under the same title.

In a blog post I read recently, a peripatetic fellow describes the various hitchhikers he has picked up during his long commute-style drives through the rural American West. Many of them are a type of person I didn’t think existed any more: hobos. Not the inert homeless you see lying on the pavement of a city’s banking district, sleeping their lives away while people in suits step around them. No, these hobos are proud and resilient in their transience and homelessness, doing very well despite not having even the most basic security net, and living lives that, in spite of frequent hardship and privation, are odysseys of romantic freedom.

An unviable guy like me gets charmed silly by stuff like that.

What do I mean by “unviable?” I mean exactly what the word says: incapable of survival. My practical intelligence has always been zilch. I can’t problem-solve my way out of a wet paper bag. The few episodes of homelessness I’ve had, including the voluntary ones, have ended in mere hours with me igominously begging for rescue from birth family. Without the help of my aged father, my late mother and my younger brother, I would long ago have died of thirst, because I wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to get a drink of water on the street. Yes, I can write up a storm, but writing is the only thing I’ve ever been even passably good at. I don’t even wipe my ass all that well.

The hobos in that old blog post are my idols and heroes, people who have the intrepidity to survive and even prosper in absence of even minimal support from any quarter. Sometimes they accept the generosity and fellow-feeling of strangers, but they rely on nothing. They are the finest examples of humanity, those who would have been just as good at survival at the dawn of our species 200,000 years ago, or as late as 200 years ago, as they are today. And there is an added benefit to the way they live a life they often choose. In a world of strangling confinement filled with social security numbers and credit ratings, they remain free.

Kheleya Fahrmann
public@kheleya.com
blog: Verbal Diary-Ea: The Life Journey of a Prolific Diarist

Guest Post – Casual Sex is for The Shallow


I must have been born vain. From a child I always very meticulous about my appearance. I was a mean girl at 7, I remember sticking my tongue out at people that I thought in my childish mind were “ugly”. When I entered middle school I entered the awkward phase, I had silver metal braces, glasses, I was very skinny, and my clothes were far from fashionable. I was called four eyes, and brace face the usual teeny bopper teasing. In those days I was a fly on the wall observing the interactions between the sexes. And then there was High School the place where I had my sexual awakening.

I had my first casual sex encounter in highschool, it was in the boys bathroom by the weight room, I gave fellatio to a friend’s older brother. He was 18 and I was 14. I had a penis in my mouth before I had my first kiss. He told me that kissing would make me get attached to him and he did not want that. He encouraged me to practice giving oral sex to other guys so that the next time we met up I would better at it. No one was supposed to know our secret. So why at 14 was I sucking this guys dick? It made me feel special, attractive, and in a twisted way to my immature teenage mind doing this meaningless act of sucking his dick made me feel wanted. That same guy had sex with me,never kissed me and then rejected me.

Being a teenager at the time I was destroyed, my self-esteem, and my self -worth was in ruins. Because of the secrecy of our “ relationship” I could not help shake the feeling that this guy was ashamed of me, and the only thing I could think of him being ashamed of was my appearance. I thought to myself, “I would never let another man make me feel that ugly,and worthless way again.” I decided to change the only thing I could change about myself, my appearance.

At that young age I could not understand rejection so after he rejected me, which I took as a complete and total rejection of my entirety I ditched the glasses, and started dressing in clothes that flattered my svelte frame. This change was my revenge on the guy who threw me a way like a used piece of toilet paper. I wanted him to see with his eyes what he was missing out on. After my physical transformation I started getting a lot of male attention, and like most teenage girls that attention went straight to my head. I started having casual sex with different guys because I had to prove to myself that there was nothing wrong with me sexually or otherwise.I used sex to validate my normality.As a teenager casual sex made me feel powerful, I had “pussy power”, I was indestructible, I was the center of attention as long I looked good.

I continued to engage in the casual sex lifestyle for 8 years, focusing solely on my appearance. Truthfully, casual sex for me was not bad, it was not the worse thing that I could have done to myself. I always ended up dating the guys I had random sex with. I was never insecure about my appearance, in fact casual sex in regards to my physical appearance was a great confidence booster. In the beginning it was fun, I was never lonely, there was a man for everyday of the week. After years of experience I finally realized the key to enjoying casual sex for a woman, being shallow.

While comforting a friend after she had been rejected after engaging in casual sex, the harsh reality of casual sex smacked me in the face like a paddle brush. If you are not attractive, if you are not meticulously groomed to perfection casual sex is not for you because casual sex is shallow. Of course I was rejected a few times, but for me and shallow women like myself (back then) rejection is a rarity .

I do not condone casual sex but I do want to set the record straight which I do in my book Casual Sex is for the Shallow. I am always hearing these extreme horror stories of casual sex or the ones that seem to be out of touch with reality. Engaging in casual sex will not ruin your life, but there are risks involved, such as STD’s, pregnancy, and of course the emotional ups and downs. I had casual sex from my teens to my twenties and I am fine because I knew that casual sex has no hidden meaning and no expectation behind it. I did not expect anything but a penis, I did not expect a relationship, a phone call, or validation because I knew that expectations are not allowed when you engage in a behavior that is void of commitment and emotion .I was able after some time to obtain a healthy relationship, and I learned how to love myself. Casual sex for me was habitual, it was my way of acting out it was a symptom of a much deeper rooted problem.Casual sex did not ruin my life. Anyone can have casual sex but in my opinion and with my experiences it is the shallow few that walk away from that lifestyle with their emotions in tact.

After being in a relationship,falling in love and being with the same man,I can honestly say that casual sex is grossly unfulfilling.

Link to my Ebook: Casual Sex is for the Shallow

For more information about Casual Sex please visit my blog: http://sexpectations89.wordpress.com/

Guest Post – The Boy Who Wanted Nothing


There are things in life I value greatly but avoid discussing because they sound kind-of weird.

One such thing: At one time I was co-owner of a kid’s consignment store.

failed-retail-business

The location for a consignment store left something to be desired.

It was something my wife-at-the-time wanted to do, so I decided I would want to do it, too. I had trouble acknowledging my own desires at the time. It was as though I didn’t know my desires well enough to state them clearly, much less pursue them.

Similar to most of my endeavors, it took off fast, gained some altitude, struggled to remain airborne for a while, then mercilessly augured itself into the ground. That sequence seemed to represent a lot about my life at the time.

During the brief flight of the rural mountain kiddy boutique, there were rationalizations, laughs, tears, self-reflection, and entire days spent in an insipid sort of panic inspired by an overwhelming sense that there was nothing in it for me but the opportunity to suffer.

And socks. Lots of used socks.

My sister — a failed retail entrepreneur herself — put it best: “Owning a business is like having a profoundly retarded child who hates you.” Those were her words, not mine. I admit I laughed the time I first heard it. I thought she was joking.

I stuck with the kid store it until it nearly destroyed me. I was determined to get something out of it. When no money appeared, and it didn’t succeed in bringing me and my wife-at-the-time any closer together (quite the opposite, actually), I decided to make pain my portion.

Yes, I decided I would harvest rich bales of pain from those racks of onesies and Sunday-best combos and semi-broken Matchbox car garages. I would learn from this, even if the lesson would only be to never, ever do anything like that ever again.

Ever.

And in that, I succeeded. I also made untold thousands in filthy lucre disappear into the thin atmosphere of the Rockies.

Mission accomplished!

But anyway, one episode from that time pointed up something profound about life, in a very odd way.

One day a family visited while I was working the register and pricing socks or something. Customers weren’t common. We treasured each one of them.

It was a nice couple with two nice kids. Their boy was about seven or so, and the girl appeared to be about five.

“Do you see anything you like, Jacob?” the mother asked. Jacob looked around at the toy aircraft carriers and Nerf guns and other things that might entice a boy his age. His expression was flat. Slowly, he shook his head and looked off in the distance. He took his mother’s hand. “No. . . no . . . ” His voice was soft and hollow. His parents glanced at each other, sighed and slumped their shoulders.

The father had been talking with me at the register. After his son’s response had dashed his hopes, he looked back at me — grimacing a bit.

“My son is autistic. He never wants anything. No matter where we go, he never seems to desire anything.”

At the time I had a 9-year-old stepdaughter who definitely didn’t suffer from that particular effect. I flexed my eyebrows. “I’m sure it’s worse than it sounds.” The father smiled, chortled a bit and shook his head. He had made peace with certain things, but was still hopeful.

“Yes, not much we can do. I hope he can find something he wants someday.”

Then, I heard his sister — the little 5-year-old. She had found something she wanted in addition to the toy her parents were already buying for her. I think I recall it was a Barbie set.

“Jacob,” she said softly “Tell daddy you want this. Ok? Just take it to him. There.” The boy nodded, then blankly handed the toy to his dad who had been witnessing the whole conspiracy. Dad took the item and returned it to the rack, laughing softly as he shook his head at his daughter.

So, this is what I got from it: You need to know your desires–your own desires. And you need to pursue them with everything you’ve got.

Because if you don’t, you’re going to get played.

And so maybe it was worth it after all, that store.

Bill LaBrie is a Phoenix-based single father, author, musician, and IT manager. His first novel “Eye of the Diamond-T” will debut this November. Follow his daily blog posts at http://billlabrie.com

billlabrie_1391033207_63

Guest Post – Happy Ever After?


I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile now and I want to thank OM for giving me this opportunity to do it as a guest post for his awesome blog.

Happiness. If you think about it, it’s such a big word. What is it, really? You’re always hearing stuff like, “Winning the lottery would make me happy”, “Finding my soulmate will make me happy” etc etc. Do you ever think for example, if you had tons of money, trouble would also follow suit? Say, thugs and relatives (as far as I’m concerned they belong in the same category) will be after you for your money. Even if you did find your soulmate, do you ever wonder what happens after you meet him/her? Do you, like ride off in the sunset and live happy ever after?

Are you ever truly happy? Can anyone say that for sure?

Ah, the elusive, never-ending search for happiness. It’s like the Holy Grail, everyone’s after it. It’s sad how so many people depend on others for their happiness or don’t have the courage or willpower to reach out and grab it. Over the years, I’ve learned that you can only depend on yourself for your happiness. If you can figure out how to be happy on your own, no one can ever take that away from you.

Happiness is fleeting but contentment lasts longer. When you’re content with your life, you won’t ever be unhappy. Bad things will still happen sure, because, come on, life’s like that—its favorite hobby is throwing hurdles the size of mountains in our path. But when you’re content with who you are and what you have, you’re also stronger—your willpower to deal with those hurdles is stronger.

You know the best way to be content with your life? Find a little happiness in everything and anything. Create happy moments—don’t wait for them to happen to you. Make time for that bucket list, to at least do some crazy things during the life you’re living. Just look at me, I went zip-lining the other day. Whoah, zipping through empty air like that—the adrenaline rush was awesome! I believe I’m now officially, an adrenaline junkie. I can’t wait to try it again. Yeah, I know, I’m a totally insane person. But, god, I love me! :D

Love yourself, who you are. I’m sarcastic and stubborn and I love that about me. I hope I never change :) My dearest friends have termed me as hopeless. But they love me anyway.

I find those small happy moments in everything and it’s made me stronger.

Find your happy moments and make yourself stronger. And you’ll see, your happiness was within your grasp all along.

Thanks a lot to OM for letting me do a guest post. I hope my experiences can help others.

Regards,

S.R. McKade

http://mckade.wordpress.com/

Guest Post: 5 Tips on Writing Dialog


Hello, my name’s Valerie Thomas. I’ve been a professional writer for two years, and today I’d like to share some tips I’ve learned on crafting believable dialog. Dialog is one of the most important aspects of a fictional novel—it makes up anywhere from a third to half of most novels, and can be the difference between a great review and a terrible one. Without any further ado, let’s get to the tips.

  1. Don’t recreate a normal conversation verbatim. Most everyday conversations involve several pauses, excessive fillers, and a whole lot of “yup”. Your goal as a writer isn’t to recreate an average conversation, but to move the story along, or perhaps provide some crucial information. Focus on these goals, instead of miring your reader in monotony.
  2. Use them, but please don’t overuse them. Most people have a phrase or word they lean on more than others (for me, it was always “technically”), and using nuances correctly can add an extra bit of characterization. You might want to keep it to once a page or less, though, so the reader doesn’t feel like they’re being beaten over the head.
  3. Use natural pausing and pacing. Let your characters search for words, stutter and stammer. The average person does this quite often, and, unless you’re writing about a professor or some unflappable wonder, frightened people pause quite often. Excited people interrupt themselves. Bores forget what they were saying.
  4. Sentences in between dialog can register as time on the clock. As much as we might like action dialog tags to describe something that happens concurrently with dialog, there are very few ways to do this. My personal favorite is—well, I’m not aware of the technical term, but I call it action interruption. Example: “I guess he was—“ David Caruso put his sunglasses on “—dying for some attention.” Even in this case, you’ll notice a mental pause as you read, but it comes much closer than almost any other technique.
  5. Figure out each character’s diction. A Harvard grad student won’t draw from the same lexicon as a high school dropout. In fact, even two Harvard grad students won’t talk the exact same way.

Note that points one and three almost contradict each other. I suppose that warrants some more explanation: use your pauses in such a way that they serve their purpose, but don’t overdo it. In a real conversation, a scared person might stutter on every single word, but in prose that comes across as overkill. A simple stutter at the beginning is enough to clue the reader in on how your character’s feeling.

To sum it up in a single sentence, the more you can cultivate the voices in your head, the better. So, how do you feel about this list? Do you try to stay more in line with how people actually talk, or do you prefer to cut dialog down to just the necessary parts? Leave a comment below, and I’ll do my best to respond (And if I can’t, I know Jason will).

 

By Valerie Thomas, author of the upcoming novel The Clique, coming out October 31. If you’d like to reach me, I can be found at my blog here, or on Twitter @vtothetom.

Guest Post – Moon & Sky Expressions: Evil Sky


Evil Sky

Evil Sky

Concept On: 17 March 2014
Photo Taken On: 1 April 2014
Editing Process Completes On: 11 July 2014

Story On: Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Dark clouds are smirking as they are whirling the black sky. Caught unaware, excruciating sharp thunder shocks the pedestrians and those who stay at home. Sleeping and playing babies are wailing profusely out of fear. Parents or caregivers are hugging them tightly to give them safety feeling. Unrelenting thunderous sounds give repetitive fear towards the children, adults and even senior citizens. Everyone’s hearts are filled with terror. Without compassion, the sky emits flashes onto some of the pedestrians who hide under the trees. Burns on their bodies as the lightning electrify their heads and bodies. Some left unscathed, but some don’t make it alive. The weather forecaster is completely shocked of his/her wrong predicaments as the sudden heavy downpour of rain covers the whole city. Those who believe the weather forecaster curse him/her for giving the wrong information. Weather forecasters may or may not make the right predicament. It is best to put our trust in the Lord and take heed to the knowledge to avoid trees and other metallic poles or stuffs that can carry electrical conduct. Prevention is better than cure and loss of life.

Origin (What and Why?)
This is a sequel to the Crying and Confused Sky where the concept originates from my friend’s poetry. Since then I have been observing the night sky. Lots of imaginations are running through my mind. The crescent moon looks evil with two sharp teeth coming out of the crescent and the stars are arranged in a certain pattern.

By: Tienny The @ www.tienny.com

Guest Post – WHAT IS IT WITH T-R-I-P-L-E-T-S ?


Enter triptych image art for-sale on line 3 images of door knockers and handles

We all have them – don’t we? those photos that meet the criteria of a technically good image but lack the punch to stand alone? I don’t know about you, but I can’t throw these out and find triptychs a solution to my image hoarding. Many of the images within my triptychs were taken at different locations, on different days & sometimes in different countries but guided by design, color, movement, pattern and graphic elements, the end result is usually interesting.

You can see more of my work @  Jo Ann Tomaselli ~ Fine Art Photography
Thanks for taking a look!
Jo Ann Tomaselli

best buy triptych image art on-line 3 sepia landscapes stacked vertical for-sale

z-scape

cobalt-grey Triptych Image Art 3 gold colored images combined to make a beautiful tryptic for-sale online best buy

cobalt-grey

'a - frame' Triptych Image Art 3 images of Vietnam a-framed structures combined to make a beautiful tryptic

a – frame

'fencing' Triptych Image Art 3 images combined to make a beautiful black and white image art of birds and fences online for sale best buy

fencing

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Guest Post – IT’S cONcept.U.AL


Conceptual photography is an art form in and of itself. It’s aim is to instantly speak volumes to the minds of viewers. This type of photography doesn’t come naturally to me but what I’ve noticed is that when something moves me emotionally conceptual work develops easily.

Portfolio @ Jo Ann Tomaselli ~ Fine Art Photography

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Jo Ann Tomaselli

The Cost of Freedom  I made this image after the Sandy Hook school shootings NFS

‘The Cost of Freedom’ I made this image after the Sandy Hook school shootings NFS

A Glass Bowl filled with nails and a silver spoon Image Art by Fine Art Photographer Jo Ann Tomaselli

Breakfast of Champions

The question 'Still Smoking?' are block printed in sand with a question mark and a cigarette butt nearby.  Best Buy this Image Art  at http://jo-ann-tomaselli.artistwebsites.com/featured/still-smoking-image-art-jo-ann-tomaselli.html

Yes, I’m Still Smoking. Are You Still Judging?

 

aselli.artistwebsites.com/featured/u-r-what-u-eat-love-jo-ann-tomaselli.html' size='20'><img src='http://jo-ann-tomaselli.artistwebsites.com/displayartworkartistwebsites.html?id=8389399&& alt='Art Prints the word Love on a spoon in a glass bowl best buy' title='Love in a bowl art prints for-sale online' style='border: none;'></a>

U R What U Eat ~ Love

A chain is wrapped around a gun conceptual image art for-sale online

Chained To Our Guns

A clenched fist sculpture carved in sandstone.  Best buy image art online http://jo-ann-tomaselli.artistwebsites.com/featured/clenched-fist-cuban-image-art-jo-ann-tomaselli.html

Resistance. Power. Strength.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post – INSTAGRAM ME T-H-I-S


Instagram ~ #jointhemorning

A screen-shot of my Instagram page joanntomaselli Jo Ann Tomaselli Photography #jointhemorning ~ Same view different day - set & lighting design by Mother Nature http://jo-ann-tomaselli.artistwebsites.com/

A screen-shot of my INSTAGRAM page Jo Ann Tomaselli Photography #jointhemorning

 

Back in November my hip, young niece told me I had to start a gallery on Instagam; I did and then I panicked – I had no idea what I wanted to put in it.  I didn’t want to post personal stuff – my life isn’t that interesting. I did want it to hold together in some way photographically but I wasn’t sure how. So it sat there empty until I decided to shoot the same scene every morning and see what came of it.

I had a few ‘conditions’ for taking on a new Social Media site.
1. It had to be fun  2. It couldn’t take longer than the time it takes to drink my morning coffee  3. I wouldn’t leave my backyard. I happen to be blessed in several ways – I love coffee, I’m fairly competent at operating my Samsung Galaxy S4 and my backyard has unrestricted coastal views over tidal marsh.

When I started with Instagram, I was shooting with my phone camera and doing some rudimentary processing. In December I bought a new camera, the Olympus OMD EM1, which has wifi capabilities. This, combined with of a few phone apps like SnapSeed, PhotoShopExpress and SquareDroid – is the perfect combination for an easy, fun filled morning photo shoot! Follow me on Instagram!

Portfolio @ Jo Ann Tomaselli ~ Fine Art Photography
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Jo Ann Tomaselli

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Guest Post – F-A-C-E- Value


A portrait photograph by Award Winning Photographer Jo Ann Tomaselli of two schoolgirls in Laos wearing white shirts and red scarves show that they're best friend by linking their hands and forming a heart around themselves. Buy Best Fine Art Photography at http://jo-ann-tomaselli.artistwebsites.com/ Forever Friends

People ask me all the time to take photos of weddings, family reunions and even corporate portfolio shots but that’s not my cup of tea. I prefer environmental portraiture and absolutely love my subjects rumpled, dusty, a bit streaked with dirt and in natural light. The images here were taken with a Canon 5D Markll. I’ve recently switched to the smaller Olympus OMD EM1 which, I feel, narrows the psychological distance when doing street photography. In sharing images of the people and cultures that touch me deeply, I hope you enjoy the visual journey!

Portfolio @ Jo Ann Tomaselli ~ Fine Art Photography
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Jo Ann Tomaselli

A young boys initiation into the Buddhist monk-hood ceremony at Angkor Wat Fine Art Travel Photography For-Sale online BUDDHIST MONK INITIATION

Group of schoolboys in India Best Buy of Travel Fine Art Photography

School Boys In India

best buy image art on-line of Fine Art Retreat Photography
Skylas’ Retreat

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Guest Post – the Only J-O-B I’ll take


 

ref='http://jo-ann-tomaselli.artistwebsites.com/featured/stairway-to-heaven-jo-ann-tomaselli.html' size='20'><img src='http://jo-ann-tomaselli.artistwebsites.com/displayartworkartistwebsites.html?id=6743991&width=249&height=355' alt='Architectural Photography Print of a three story white foyer with windows on one side best buy' title='Stairway To Heaven Image Art For-Sale Online' style='border: none;'></a>

Stairway To Heaven

I’ve had a number of jobs in my life – you name it – I’ve pumped gas, roofed houses and waitressed… I’ve cleaned hospital toilets, worked as a newspaper photographer and painted house exteriors (wasn’t very good at that) … I’ve been a stage manager, a lighting designer & IATSE electrician (think Rosemary Clooney to the Rolling Stones)…and until recently I was a massage therapist and a certified aromatherapist (I still dabble in potions :-))

I’m done working.

The only Job I’ll take is to shoot architectural work for my Interior Design and Architect friends. I won’t work for anyone who’s mean, demeaning or demanding – the job and the people must to be infinitely delightful ~ I’m half way up the stairway to heaven and I’m sticking to my guns on this!

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Jo Ann Tomaselli

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Guest Post – Sexual Slavery In America . . .


Sexual Slavery is alive and well in America and many other countries today. One minute a high school teenager minding her own business walking to school, the next a forced prostitute turning 10 to 50 tricks a day just to give her kidnapper the money earned so he won’t beat her. Or, a woman on vacation kidnapped and sold to a foreign brothel where she is forced to turn tricks to survive. And, we must find it acceptable because we participate in it or see it and do nothing.

When you see prostitutes walking the street, do you really believe they want to be there? Do you really believe that they enjoy the sex acts they perform? Do you really believe they want to give their kidnapper the money they earn for turning tricks? If you said yes to any of these, you need to re-evaluate your beliefs of life’s worth. Most of these women or children are victims of sexual slavery in which either as a runaway had been manipulated, or as a kidnap victim pulled from their previous life. Most would do almost anything to be back home in the safety of their family’s arms, but carry the disgrace of being used as a sex toy by many. Many would attempt to flee, but do not do so because they do not want to feel the pain of being beat severely by their owners.

I know it sounds like I am crazy. This does not happen in America. But, it does. And, it is right in front of your face and mine, but we do nothing. Why? I mean, why do we do nothing? Is it because we do not know how to help them? Is it because we fear that part of society of which we know little? Or, is it because we partake of the victims inability to tell us no? Almost every man and likely most women fantasize about having a sexual slave to use and abuse at our will. This is different. All across America today there are men and women taking advantage of other men and women for sexual gratification, against the will of the others.

Do you fancy yourself a “rapist” as though it a badge of honor? Just because she appeared willing to allow you to take advantage of her body, does not mean she wanted to. But, it does mean that you are in fact a rapist. Any time a woman is forced into a sex act it is rape. You may not be the person forcing her to perform the sex acts, but you are still the person taking advantage of the fact the woman forced to perform the act, a rapist.

A woman forced to perform sex acts by someone is a victim. You as her rapist continue to make her a victim. While you are laying between the young woman’s legs working up a sweat, do you care that she is a victim and you her rapist? No, you do not give a damn about the plight of the young woman, and you do not consider yourself a rapist, why?

There is a segment of American society that out of need to survive, have food on their table,a roof over their heads, and money in their pockets that have entered the trade of prostitution voluntarily as though it just a job like working at the local mall. While not forced to by another individual to perform, they are still a victim. These people are victims of our society failing to provide adequate good paying jobs so a person can support their family properly. You may not be their rapist, but your use of their services still make s them your victim.

For most of the previous discussion, I have used “woman” as the example. Re-read it but change woman to “child.” There is no good way to be the victim of somebody else’s act. You are a victim, enough said.

There is a small segment of our society that would like to work in the sex trades as a profession, not as a victim. These are very few of the numbers being used in the sex trades. And, you will likely not find these people walking the streets. No, these willing participants earn far more than most of their clients and live far better than their unwilling others. Do not confuse a $1,000.00 a night call girl with a $50.00 per trick prostitute, they are completely different animals and one is there by choice.

I expect no resolution to this problem. It will have to be resolved sooner or later, but first people have to care. You are a “people” aren’t you . . . This article is intended to make you think about this situation. It is easier to become a victim of this than you think.

http://richbrunelle.wordpress.com