Monday, January 14, 2013

Why I Rise - One Billion Rising

I have been graced with the opportunity to be a part of One Billion Rising Salt Lake City from the ground up. I have encouraged women and men to share their stories of why they rise. But I've been fearful to write my own story. There are so many reasons why I rise that it makes it difficult to identify just one. I've written and rewritten several posts, accounting the deep dark secrets that lie in my heart, and the cobwebbed mazes of my brain. But I am realizing that the real reason that I am moved to rise - is because I can. I have a group of friends and supporters that are stronger and more supportive than I've ever had in my life. I've always been scared of being "that girl" or labeled a feminist. Guess what? I am one. I am tired of pretending that women are treated equally in hopes of being treated equally myself - it doesn't work. I will stand up and say that it is not ok to say "you learned from that didn't you?" instead of "that was wrong, what he did to you is not acceptable and I stand by you."

We as women are called man-haters if we breed natural distrust and fear from being beaten & raped. But we are also playing the victim if we admit that infidelity, sexual assault and domestic violence has shaped our outlook on the world. This fear of judgment and constant minimization plays its own part in perpetuating the cycles. We don't get the help we need. We sit in the corner crying when the lives we want to live seem out of our reach because we can't control the demons in our own mind. So today, I'm breaking my own fear - and telling you why I will RISE!

I rise because it feels good.
I dance because it lifts my soul.
I strike because inequality exists, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

I will rise on February 14, 2013 because I didn't rise up homecoming night 2000 when I was assaulted by a friend's brother whom I had also trusted with my first kiss. When my PTSD from my early childhood became so strong that I didn't fight back. For years, I accepted this complacency and fear as guilt and my own personal culpability.

I will rise on February 14, 2013 because I never had the chance to kick the ass of the boyfriend I trusted to be my "first" who cheated on me and left before I spent 4 years, 2 surgeries and 5 biopsies to clear myself of the cancer he left as reciprocation for my trust and fidelity.

I will rise on February 14, 2013 because I didn't rise up when my 350 lb husband had difficulties with his mental illness, picked me up and threw me into a chair while I kicked and clawed and tried to escape. Only one of the many times I feared for my life in my own house. I will rise because I lived in the shadows for too long, believing my mother in law that this was my fault and I was culpable for every mistake he made, dollar he spent and his own life that he took.

I will rise on February 14, 2013 because my education is as good as those possessed by men. I studied as hard, read the same books, held a full time job and cared for my family to afford to pay as much as the men who graduated with me. I dare say I might have learned more from it, because I also had to learn how to work in groups that didn't want to "be 'the team with a girl'" when "I don't even LET my wife have a credit card, I just bought her a new minivan - she should be thanking me" was what I heard on the first day of my program.

I will dance on February 14, 2013 because on August 6, 2010 I learned what it meant to be in a community of women for the first time. As a widow at 25 I learned to trust, confide in and depend on other women to heal me, help me and share in my joy and sorrow. I learned friendship and the power of women. I have never met a more powerful and passionate group of women than those who have endured the loss of a spouse and still wake up to greet the new morning. 

I will RISE STRIKE and DANCE because I am a vibrant, beautiful and strong woman who isn't about ready to take any more crap and smile and say thank you. I learned that for myself - and I want to share it with women everywhere. WE DESERVE MORE. I want to change the world so my little sister, and eventually my daughters don't have to worry about what NOT to wear so as to stay safe when they go out with friends or walk home from school. Instead I will teach my brother and my sons to treat people fairly and be cognizant of the words they use, and always stand up for what they believe. And when I remarry it will be to a partner who values my safety, who respects my voice, hears my soul and loves who I am.

If you would like to be involved with One Billion Rising please go to If you are in the Salt Lake area please connect with us at and We will be DANCING on the University of Utah Campus (Feb 14th noon), we will STRIKE the Ikea Draper store with a flash mob (Feb 14th 7pm) and we will RISE with a reception to fund-raise for a great cause and connect women and those who love and support them on February 15th. Please look up the information and support us. Support me. It would mean a lot. You might be surprised how it might empower you.

With love and light,

Monday, January 7, 2013

Apologizing for sad


Why do you apologize for feeling sad?
Sad was made for days like these.
On the spectrum of bad days - this ranks among the champions.

If today isn't allowed to be sad,
how long are you going to miss out
on all the other emotions
before you realize you're denying yourself.

You deserve the right to be sad,
happy or mad.
Even puppies are sad when you make them sleep alone.
So why not you?

If today is sad,
and there is no way around it -
do me a favor and promise
not to apologize for it.

Apologies mean there's something to be sorry for
and you didn't choose, nor cause this bad day.
So embrace the shitty, hug the sad, cry yourself to sleep
and keep the hope alive that tomorrow turns the bend.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Who are "baby widows"?

 Baby widows, trying to find humor in "deer widows weekend"
I tell you - we have dark senses of humor!
(Post Publishing Note: I wrote this over a year ago and it has had well over a thousand page views, people who, like yourself, or someone you know searched for "baby" or "young widow" please don't feel as isolated and scared as you do. You are not alone.)

I identify myself as a baby widow.
Well probably because I made up the term.
But the story is simple...

The day after I received the horrible call I sat at a computer and tried to search "whats next?"
Mr Google didn't seem to know what I meant.
I tried searching for "young widow", hoping to find direction.
Instead I was horrified -
a "young widow" is one who loses their spouse before age 50.

EXCUSE ME! I am 25! 
I turn 26 next week, 
tomorrow is our 2 year wedding anniversary, 
what do you mean 50? 
My parents aren't even 50!

What does that make me -
a baby widow?

Yes, a baby widow.

I sent a text to my cousin
(married the same day, widowed one year earlier)
What are we - baby widows?!
She replied back that she still didn't know what we were,
But she was sorry I joined her ranks
"Baby Widow" fit as well as anything else.

So who is a baby widow?
Someone whose heart was broken before it was even fully developed.
A baby widow lost her future before she had even begun to live it.
A baby widow cries about the children she never got to have,
the legacy that has been lost, the connection severed.

Mike's 27th birthday - taken by my first "baby widow sister"
Baby widows cry next to grave sites,
and onlookers carefully ask if you are visiting your parents.

Baby widows get "hit on" when they transition their wedding ring to the other hand -
young lustful men sense the opportunity and assume divorce.
But baby widows are cunning, and a little bit spiteful of innocence -
they quietly savor the shock of putting a cocky gent in his place with words like:
"dead husband", "widow" or "cemetery".
Even better if you can sneak "autopsy", "cancer", "corpse" or "suicide" in there,
but those opportunities are harder to come by.

Baby widows become crusaders.
Their youth and feelings of powerlessness revolt against the sadness
they can't allow this world to push them so far down.
They rise back up
with a vengance they fight for anything they can:
better FMLA coverage, cancer screenings, suicide prevention, MS treatment, widow's support.

They tirelessly support each other.
There is nothing more important to a baby widow -
than the well being of another baby widow.
It is why we show up with bottles of wine to "help" clean out garages.
Why we hold each other while we sob about the sale of a house.
We offer to pick up each other's kids from ballet -
because we know the betrayal of the heart that comes from one more family member not getting why we don't "have it all together yet". 

A baby widow is isolated.
Not because she necessarily wants to be,
but at an age when your friends are either partying hard, or having their second planned child
who could possibly relate?

Friends have barely begun to lose grandparents,
and a few unfortunate ones have lost parent(s)
You start identifying those friends who "get it".
Those whom you don't have to tire yourself out
by trying to put on your "public face".
Death eyes I called it.
Those who had looked death in the eyes,
and were daring to continue living. 

Baby widow hear thoughtless things:
"you're pretty, you'll be remarried soon"
"at least you didn't have kids"
"this is all for the best"
"haven't you moved on yet"

The worst is when its from your own family.
The ones who supported you and celebrated at your wedding,
now barely 3 years later, struggle to look you in the eye
as you prepare your husband's grave for its one year memorial.
They wonder why you return.
Why you wipe the dirt, leaves and snow away.
Why you swear at his parents every time you come here.
Why can't you just let it go?
When in your heart you can't let go the one thing you were supposed to do
as his wife, was to ensure he was cremated - and scattered.
You curse his family every time the snow is deep, it means they haven't visited.
The cold hard earth that they interned him in.
Now he's lonely, not free on the breath of the plateau.
My pseudo ceremony with fake fire-pit ashes, but real tears.

A baby widow fights these feelings of inadequacy
as she begins to put her life back together.
She tries to date, but finds the pedestal hard to see around. 
As is the glaring fact that she has already failed.
He died! How much worse of a wife can you find?
Who would possibly want to stand where a dead man stood.

But baby widows are nothing if not resilient.
Baby widows love as if there is nothing left in their souls.
They wake up and find the sunshine -
or put on a record and find some within their own smile that sneaks out.
Baby widows are a miraculous breed of impassioned, dedicated, beautiful souls.

They will always get back up.
They will even have the strength to give in,
to look inside,
to examine how to do it better.
They will always find a way through.

Baby widows inspire me.

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