Ordinary

It was an ordinary day. On an ordinary street. In an ordinary house. In that house sat three ordinary girls. They were laughing and playing and giggling like the 13 year old girls they were. They talked about boys, dreams and their parents.

They discussed how they hated some of their teachers and school was so boring. They dreamed of summer vacations and new clothes. It was almost over. Summer was almost here and they vowed to make this an extraordinary summer.

Savannah logged into her laptop. She quickly logged into a website and started chatting up her new friend. He was an older boy. He was 18. She liked him. They had been chatting on-line for a few weeks now.

She sent him pictures of herself and he always told her that she was beautiful. She liked that. She never thought of herself as beautiful. Cute and ordinary. However, Paul (that was his name) always made her believe that she was beautiful.

He told her she could be a model. Paul asked her to face time him with her friends around. She did. They giggled and smiled and posed as Paul said that they were beautiful and could all be models.

Paul asked them to meet them in the parking lot at the local mall. They agreed. They told their parents that they were going to the mall and would be back in a couple of hours. They were careful. Nothing would happen to the three of them.

They were taught that you always travel together. So, they did. It was nothing special. A bus took them to the mall and they waited in the parking lot by the local Macy’s. They laughed with the fact that one of them had a boyfriend. They giggled.

They weren’t able to date yet.

Across the parking lot, Paul approached them. He was so sexy. He had on nice clothes and shoes and the biggest smile. His teeth were straight. Wow! He was gorgeous.

They were so busy pointing and smiling at Paul that they didn’t see the van pull up behind them and the men grab them and stuff them in the truck. An ordinary black van filled with men holding them down as they struggled and screamed and then went limp.

Ordinary girls are sold into sex-trafficking every day. We need to do something about this. No more silence please.

 

 

This post is part of the Daily post. The word of the day was ordinary.

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/

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10 Good Questions

Yay! Thanks Grace for completing the questions. I love your answers. Especially about riding an elephant and visiting your Moo Moo. Check out Grace’s page: Grow With Me.

Grow with me

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers 2

I’ve been nominated by the wonderful Tikeetha. Please check her out here. I love reading her blog!!! Honestly, I usually do not like being “nominated” for anything because it requires work. (I know, I’m terrible). But these questions are awesome!!! Therefore, I have decided to answer them. I hope you enjoy my responses as well!

EGYPT’S QUESTIONS FOR HER QUEEN SISTERS: 

1. You have all the resources needed to change ONE thing in the world with a snap of your fingers —what are you changing for the better? 
I would end poverty for all. At least, everyone will have a better chance at life. 

2. What is the most attractive feature or trait a woman can possess [physical, mental, spiritual]? 
Honestly, I think it’s self-confidence. A woman who believes and sees value in herself. 

3. What is your next big self/life/career-improvement project?
I’m not sure. But I know what…

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Who Runs The World? Girls

I was nominated by the beautiful, Egypt, over at Egypt English for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Ya’ll know that I love awards, but I don’t have the time to respond to as many as I get nominated for. This was my 3rd nomination and I wanted to take on this one because she asked some awesome questions and I wanted to share my answers with you.

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EGYPT’S QUESTIONS FOR HER QUEEN SISTERS: 

  1. You have all the resources needed to change ONE thing in the world with a snap of your fingers —what are you changing for the better? I’m ending poverty. There are too many people that go hungry each day and food security issues are one of the things that I am a champion of. I remember going to bed hungry as a child and I can’t imagine the countless children that go to bed each night without a meal. 
  2. What is the most attractive feature or trait a woman can possess [physical, mental, spiritual]? I would say her faith. It’s more spiritual than physical or mental and since your inner faith is the voice that guides the choices you make you are more attractive when you know who and whose you are.
  3. What is your next big self/life/career-improvement project? There are two right now that I want to share. The first is that I want to enroll in grad school and go and get my MBA. The second…well, I’m moving home to save and buy a house for me and my son. That’s a major shift in my life and one that I was upset at thinking of making but the support from people around me about how they wish they could go home, save and buy a house has been wonderful. I am reducing debt and saving for a home.
  4. What dream location is at the top of your Next 5-year Bucket List and why? Gran Canaria in Spain is a place I want to visit. It’s absolutely beautiful and I love the beach.
  5. To be . . . or not to be . . .? [Pick one, and complete the phrase] To be true to yourself is the greatest gift you can give. Never deny the real you to make someone else feel better. You’re absolutely wonderful just the way you are.
  6. Who are 3 woman/sisters in your life you could not made it to this point in life without? Umm, great question…There have been many women in my life that have come in and out and have taught me great things. I am honored to have met them, interacted and grown with them. Some relationships lasted and others ended but it was as it should be.  I would say at this point, my best friend Nikki, my grandmother and my mom. 
  7. What is your favorite movie? Purple Rain
  8. You are an explorer of the sublime: what is your fancy?—outer space, the bottom of the sea, Mt. Everest? Outer space. I’m a sci-fi geek and I would love to travel to other planets because I believe there is life outside of Earth.
  9. Three things you love about you and/or your life? Three things…being a mother, being a sister and being a friend. All these roles inspire me to be better than I am and challenge me to keep reaching for my dreams.
  10. Reflect on your life’s experiences and lessons . . . Then think of a young woman, or girl who is roughly 10 years younger than you. . . What is the most important lesson you have learned to date you would like to share with Her? Know yourself truly before getting married. Don’t rush it. Stop wishing for a husband when you don’t know who you are and what you want. Don’t dream of the wedding, dream of the marriage. Speak life into your man and watch his dreams manifest in front of you. We can be wicked with our tongue and you should remember that you can’t take back things once said. I know. I did. I had to learn that marriage wouldn’t make me happy, I needed to be happy. I needed to know who I was. Your life is not written in stone and no matter how many times you may fall, get back up little sister and keep going on. I’ve survived it all and I am happier than I’ve ever been. The end is sometimes your beginning.

Now, I nominate all my fellow women bloggers to take Egypt’s questions and respond because I’m nominating you. These are great questions and since it is Women’s History Month, let’s encourage each other. Who runs the world? Girls!

I’m About that Pageant Life

No, really I was.

Okay, let me explain. This past weekend, I got the opportunity to judge the Miss Greenbelt Pageant and I actually had a ball. Yes, me! Gasp! It was an awesome weekend and I felt like I really got to know the contestants and I wanted them to all win.

The girls were beautiful, poised and energetic. The talent was amazing. I actually had a great time. My favorite part was definitely the on stage questions. This was the first time that we got to hear from the younger children. The older girls for the Miss Greenbelt Pageant were interviewed the day before so I got to get a little insight into who they were as young women. My top 3 picks were solidified after the evening gown competition and on stage questions and I’m happy to say that my first choice was the winner. I love being a part of the democratic process here some photos.

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I Said Yes

I said yes to being a panel judge for a pageant geared towards young women. Can you believe it? I’m a feminist. Isn’t it a contradiction to want to judge young ladies on the way they dress, speak and walk? Am I sending a wrong message? Ugh, I struggled with the question when asked and then I realized that I’m not.

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Why? Because feminism is about equality for women. I am not going stop being who I am and let’s be real…aren’t we all judged everyday? So, I decided to research the pageant before committing. I mean, I didn’t want to set my gender back by judging a swimsuit competition.

Here’s what I discovered:

 

Pageant Evolution

The Pageant began in 1955, only one year after the annual Labor Day Festival originated. The first Pageant was open to women between the ages of 15 and 50. It was a fundraiser for the construction of the Youth Center building. Votes were cast by turning in pennies in collection jars set out at various businesses, and children helped collect penny votes. The woman with the most pennies to her credit won the title. The first winner was married and had three children when she won at the age of 30!

In 1956, the rules were modified slightly. Entrants had to be single and between the ages of 16 and 25. The contest was called the “Popularity Crown” or “Popularity Contest.” Once the Youth Center was a reality, the theme evolved to “Unity Through Community Involvement.” Over the years, the Pageant has been modified, streamlined, and organized under various directors, becoming what is known today as the Pageant System. In 1982, the swimsuit competition was removed. The Little Miss and Junior Miss contests were added in the 1980s. In 1992 the Pageant began to emphasize the importance of education, and gave scholarships to the title winners.

The competition is designed to teach girls poise and self confidence, how to be at ease with themselves and others, and how to have fun in a team effort toward a common goal.

All contestants receive special recognition in the Pageant System because everyone is viewed as a winner!

NICE, FRANCE - DECEMBER 05: Miss Normandie Malika Menard (L) receives the crown from 2009  Miss France Chloe Mortaud (R) during the 2010 Miss France Beauty pageant at Palais Nikaia on December 5, 2009 in Nice, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Malika Menard;Chloe Mortaud

Yeah! I liked the pageant evolution and decided that I would love to be a judge because of these three things:

  1. There is no swimsuit competition and that it was removed 33 years ago. No exploitation of young women’s bodies. I liked that.
  2. They are teaching girls poise, self confidence and how to be at ease with themselves. This is awesome. You don’t learn this until later in life and a competition that focuses on that is something I am interested in being a part of. Empowering our girls is awesome!
  3. There is scholarship money to college. I believe in education and with the rising costs of education in this country, this is a great way to gain life skills and earn money towards your tuition.

I had to stop and smell the roses. I wasn’t selling out my gender by participating as a judge in a pageant. I was empowering young women to see the beauty in who they are and be a part of an organization that believes that they are all winners.

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Now, back to the movement!

Contributing Writer

Hey loves,

I wanted to share some good news…A colleague of mine is writing a book that she hopes to publish this summer about motivation, encouragement and empowerment to young women and she’s asked me to be a contributing writer in her book. Yeah!

I was honored and of course I said yes. I just submitted my piece and I’m excited to be sharing my story and telling my testimony.  I promise to share the information when the book is published and I hope you’ll read it.

I’m flying on cloud 9 right now.

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Until next time.

Curvy Girl Shopping

Okay so this year one of the things that I’m trying to do is show you me. All of me. Be more transparent in my writing. I think I’m pretty transparent, but there are some things that I still hold back on. One of the things is simply…me.

I don’t like putting my body out in cyberspace. Not that I’m embarrassed. No, I just don’t want the attention. Good or bad, I’m really private like that. Well, in my published piece last year I talked about owning my attitude about how I feel and look and being comfortable in my skin. I wanted to stop hiding and start loving.

Yeah, I love me. However, not on cyberspace. I am withdrawn and shy. As I started approaching 40, my best friend encouraged me to buy some new jeans. She said, “You’re losing weight and all your jeans hang off your waist and it’s not flattering.” I was shocked. One that she noticed my weight loss and two that it was bothering someone. I know it may seem small to some of you, but a curvy girl hates to be told she looks drab. Especially by someone you love and admire.

So, with that piece of advice, I bought my first pair of skinny jeans. Yep, at 40. It was hard ya’ll. I hated drawing attention to my waist and backside. But, I had to admit that it did flatter my shape in a positive way. Great advice bestie!

This weekend I accompanied my bestie shopping because she is going out-of-town and needed some cute clothes. Let me tell you that my bestie is a curvy girl too and if she does shop, she needs to try on clothes in the store. I’ve not tried on clothes in a store in years because I hate undressing in public spaces. I always wonder if they are secretly recording you. LOL!

So, I decided it would be a good idea to get another pair of skinny jeans and try on some clothes for moral support. Now, I’ve been losing weight and I find that I’m in between sizes. I hate that. I was originally in a size 26 jean and now I’m in a size 20 because a 22 is too big. I can’t believe I shared that, but I am owning my size and loving the skin that I’m in.

Now, back to the clothes. Ashley Stewart had their spring collection out and I was loving it. I was gravitating towards the bright colors because I could use some enhancements in the color department for my wardrobe.  Why? Because, I tend to gravitate towards darker colors. I found this beautiful fuchsia peplum trench jacket because a girl can never have too much pink in her wardrobe and this green trench with gold detail.

I’ve never been a fan of green, but let me tell you that I loved it. I loved the fit, the cut and the color was so eye-popping sexy that I had to buy it. I didn’t really try on any clothes outside of a pair of jeans and a lightweight sweater. I told you that I hated trying on clothes. But, I wanted to share the photos with you.

Let me know what you think.

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I Am My Sister’s Keeper

Help one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood. ~Louisa May Alcott

I am my sister’s keeper. Not just my actual sisters (I have two), but my girlfriend’s too. I care about women and love my girlfriends immensely. They are the most powerful, inspiring, straightforward and loving women I have ever known. They listen, support, encourage and push me to keep my head up in spite of adversities. They are my support network. Better yet, they are my sistergirls!

My sistergirls have picked up my son from daycare or school when I was stuck in traffic and his dad was stuck in a meeting. They have kept my son overnight when I’ve been too tired to play mommy. They have kept my son when I have traveled out of town to their city for a date night. They have kept my son when I was an emotional wreck and had no family in sight. They have drank with me, shopped with me and gave me some of the funniest and best advice ever.

The bond between two women can be an incredible experience. You love the person and they become a beat in your heart. They don’t change your relationship with your significant other, they encourage it and remind you that no matter what…nothing will ever come between you two. They understand that you’re too busy to get together because you’re playing wifey or supermom. They cook meals when you’re sick so you can focus on getting better. They are just awesome!

Sistergirls are a requirement for any woman. You need that support. God has provided me an awesome network of women that do that for me and more. When I go to them with my “issues” they just listen and give me a non-judgmental and practical approach on how to handle things. “Whatever you want to do girl, you know I got your back” is what they say.

How encouraging is that?

Recently, I had a man tell me that he worries about me being everything to everyone. He said, “If you give of yourself tirelessly who will take care of you? What will you have left in the end?” I smiled and said, “Enough”. He looked at me puzzled. I said, “God gives me enough. Enough heart to love and strength to be the support that my sistergirls are too me. Yes it may seem like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, but the load I carry is not heavy. It is enough. I am enough and I can handle it.”

I need my sistergirls more than they need me. I’m always the one calling them with the latest and greatest thought, idea or piece that I wrote and I want their advice. They give it to me. Without hesitation. When I have a break-down and cry about a situation, they love me and support me and remind me that “God never gives you more than you can bear.” They are the ones that have encouraged my writing and they are the wind beneath my wings.

But lately, my sistergirls have been going through things that I can’t fix. Do you know how that annoys me? They make things better for me and I want to do the same for them. I know I can’t carry their burdens, but I share in their heartbreaks, disappointments and pain. I willingly love and try to inspire them with subliminal tweets, posts, texts and Instagram love. I want to be their rock because they are that to me. So, you know what? I will.

I don’t want a man telling me to not concern myself with their problems because that is not what sisterhood is about. We live, we love, we laugh and we cry. Shared joys and disappointments. If you are my man and you’re going through something, don’t you want my support? Yep! Absolutely! So, understand this…there is no greater love than sisterhood. I am my sister’s keepers.

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Under Construction

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I recently read this great piece on Huffington Post entitled “My Stretch Marks Don’t Define Me” and I screamed “Yes”. I love the article. Mainly because the author was talking about how she loves and accepts her stretch marks and they don’t define the sum of who she is.

In the beginning, I felt that my body was still under construction. You know trying to lose the baby weight, get sleep, eat right and get back down to my pre-pregnancy size or smaller. Well that didn’t happen and six years later it is still under construction.

I lost weight my entire pregnancy and in the end I gained 15 pounds before they removed munch for medical reasons. I was sick. So, that cute mommy whose baby was eating off her fat cells the entire time she was pregnant was excited that I could actually eat normal again after delivery. However, no one told me that the pregnancy weight would redistribute. I had pockets of fat in other places.

Too weak to exercise and too tired to care about being smaller for the first 4 years of his life had me accepting my bigger figure. But, I wanted to be healthier. Make healthier choices with food. Be alive for him. I have no health issues and I wanted to keep it that way.

I made many life changes this last year and the weight and inches are coming off. My body is still under construction, but I’m not embarrassed by the imperfections. I don’t want surgery to fix the reminder of my struggle to conceive. I accept it and will work at being healthy in my own way. Naturally.

My stretch marks show the path to parenthood running from my stomach to the top of my (umm, let’s say Olivia Pope). They show the price I paid to be a parent. The white weirdly shaped lines show that I fed my son in my womb. They mark the immense pressure my body was under when I was pregnant. They remind me of the painful bursts of pain I experienced when my son sat on my sciatic nerve. They are beautiful and I love them. I accept them.

Many things about my body changed when I had a baby, but I don’t care. The only thing I’ve ever hoped for was bigger breasts and a smaller nose, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Wasn’t in the plans. My breasts grew big enough to nourish my son and then sadly went back down to their original size after nursing was done. But, even that doesn’t matter.

Why? Because I love my body just the way it is. Yep, I’m working out (not to be skinny) to be healthy, but my stretch marks won’t disappear. My breasts won’t grow (without surgery), my stomach will always bulge (unless I do liposuction), my thighs will still have cellulite and my incision will still be seen because of my C-section.

This body is and has been under construction for the last six years and it’s okay. Because you know what? I will still accept that I’m perfect just the way I am.

Off Limits

Let me get on my soapbox for a moment, please!

As many of you may have heard by now the issue with the fumbling GOP staffer who thought it cute to diss the President’s daughters on Facebook.  Elizabeth Lauten is was a staffer for Representative Steven Fincher (from my home state of Tennessee). She resigned after her inappropriate comments about Sasha Obama and Malia Obama were posted on her Facebook page.  Here’s a screen shot of what she said.

Elizabeth-Lauten

 

Now, why would this grown woman concern herself with the attire of the President’s girls? She’s a political communications director and is supposedly super smart (she claimed to have gotten a perfect score on her ACT). Shouldn’t she have known better? Didn’t she learn anything from Justine Sacco? Aren’t there more pressing issues that she should be worrying about than how the First Daughter’s look at a Turkey Pardoning Ceremony? Aren’t Republicans trying to stop immigration reform, repeal the Affordable Care Act and charge the President with every crime imaginable because they don’t like the fact that he has reduced our budget deficit, created and supported Equal Pay for Women and reduced unemployment to the lowest since 2008. Not to mention a whole lot of other things, but why would that concern Ms. Lauten?

I mean I have a son and no I’m not the President, but some of the facial expressions he makes are pretty hilarious too. He would rather be watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates than attending a function for or with me. He’s a child. Not interested. It happens. Heck, you should see some of the facial expressions that I make as an adult. I haven’t truly perfected the art of showing disinterest (I’m working on it) and I’m almost 40. So, why would you expect children to know how to do it? Because they are the President’s children? Chile please!

Ms. Lauten then tried to offer an apology for her post, but guess what? Too little – too late. But, the funny thing was that it wasn’t an apology. She said:

“I wanted to take a moment and apologize for a post I made on Facebook earlier today judging Sasha and Malia Obama at the annual White House turkey pardoning ceremony:

When I first posted on Facebook I reacted to an article and I quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager. After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were. Please know, those judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart. Furthermore, I’d like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience.”

Now, I have a degree in English Language and Literature and I know word semantics and word play and what she did was apologize for getting caught. Not to the children she offended. Someone who is that smart and a communications director should know what words to use to apologize.  She tried to CYA (cover your a**) in hopes of keeping her job and avoid being social pariah numero uno. Communication rule number one Ms. Lauten – you can’t make comments like that and expect to keep your job.

I would like to offer this piece of advice for everyone – Children are off-limits. Always. Whether they are in the public or on the streets, public shaming of children is not acceptable. The President said and displayed this noble character trait when he was running in his first election and Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, was discovered to be pregnant and unmarried. He said, “Children are off-limits.”

In a society where young women already have self-esteem issues about their bodies why would you choose social media as a platform to further draw attention or try to humiliate them? To say to them that they need to “try and show some class” is an opinion drawn from what? How disinterested they looked from hanging with their dad? Oh, it was how they were dressed? Let’s see you said that they should “dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar”. Umm, what bar have you been too lately where…

1. Underage women were admitted in.

2. Dressed like Sasha and Malia

Shouldn’t you have respect for the President and his children because hey he is the President? I thought what they had on was very age appropriate and not bar attire. But hey, I’m a mother and a bit conservative in my appearance and would wear what the girls wore (If I could fit it and it was appropriate for someone at my age to wear – but it is not).

I guess I’m just utterly disgusted in the fact that another woman would choose to pick on the girls when clearly more young women today seem to be pimping themselves for Facebook or Instagram likes as a confidence booster. Every young woman goes through a period where they are dissatisfied with their body image and I think Ms. Lauten was just being a bully. Heck, it’s now being reported that self-esteem of teenage girls has fallen significantly in the last few years. Why be part of the problem?

You all know that one of my greatest joys is being a parent and I don’t tolerate bullying of any kind. But, before I was a mother, I was an aunt and I know how social media can affect a young woman’s self-esteem. My 16-year-old niece told me last week, “Auntie my Twitter game is off the chain”. WTH? Yes, she actually said that. Getting over 2500 shares on a photo or 500 plus likes on a tweet is important to her. Why?  Because like many young women, it validates her social existence and is seen as a confidence booster.

I had to remind her that it is just social media and that I’m proud of her accomplishments and the mere fact that she is my beautiful niece more than those people who like her posts or share her photos. I constantly tell her that I am so proud of who she is and I want her to know that her body is just that. Hers. Love you first because we do and we don’t want you to change. I would hate if an internet troll became a bully and decided to affect her self-esteem by saying that she is dressed like she should be at the bar instead of supporting her parents. I would be livid and unleash an enormous amount of anger on that fool. Thankfully, she hasn’t had to experience that and prayerfully she never will.

That being said, I am proud that the White House has not chosen to address Ms. Lauten’s comments because the village has already spoken. People were outraged and felt that she had no right to make comments about the girls on social media. As part of the village, I just want to remind Ms. Lauten and every one of the social media rules of etiquette: Children are off-limits!