How far can one take a “punch”line?



This morning I was rushing out of the house when I heard a video playing on ABC’s morning talk show The View.  The video was of singer Taylor Swift singing at the 2014 Grammy Awards:  Host, Whoopi Goldberg, asked the audience to view the video and then asked for everyone’s reactions.  Co-hosts, Barbara Walters and Jenny McCarthy, both found the video funny, and Jenny even remarked that it was just a cartoon.  Comedian Jay Mohr, who has been chastised in the media lately for making a sarcastic remark to actress Alyssa Milano, was the only one who stood up against the video.  He said no matter what the comedic intentions, the punch line was still a jab towards women.  Where is the humor in a woman getting punched in the face?   If it had been Rihanna sitting at the piano, would have people found it as funny?  Would Jenny be laughing if the person was an autistic child singing at the piano?  Both are oppressed populations and there is zero humor in pretending to punch either one of them in the face.

            I don’t know what I found more disturbing, the video or the fact that these women I admire, laughing at it.   Did they miss hearing President Obama’s speech last night when he said, “”It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode. This year, let’s all come together -Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.”           

            As women, success goes beyond equal pay and needs to include equal respect.  As long as women laugh at parodies of other women getting punched or kicked in the face or these same women quit forgiving abusive men like Chris Brown and Alec Baldwin for their atrocious behavior by excusing their violence because they are talented men and do not need to be held to the same standards of accountability as the common man, our country will never reach the vision that President Obama laid out for us last night for the empowerment of women.

            Jay Mohr, did make a careless remark about Alyssa Milano recently when he referred to her weight; yet, I believe him when he said he was being facetious and meaning the opposite. Anyone who knows Jay Mohr’s comedy, knows he is sarcastic, but they also know he is a supporter of women.   It’s ironic, though, that he was drug through the mud for making a joke about a woman’s body weight after pregnancy; yet, famous women can sit in front of an audience of millions and make jokes about a cartoon that punches a real woman in the face. 

            I love Jenny McCarthy, and myself having a son on the autism spectrum, have always admired everything she has done to bring awareness to the cause.  Other co-host, Sherry Shepard has also been a supporter for adolescents with learning disorders and even diabetes, but activists need to take their advocacy one step further, and be a voice for all who are held back or oppressed.  One cannot stand up for one cause while laughing at hate being directed towards another demographic.   If other women do not stand up against tasteless humor directed towards another woman, how can we expect men in the world to?   At that point, the oppressors win. 

Idiocy on MLK Day

How is something like this still happening 46 years after Martin Luther King Jr’s death? Has our society become so complacent that we are forgetting what he sacrificed to obtain civil liberties for all citizens?

College & Travel Log

An Arizona State Frat hosted a party on Martin Luther King Jr.’s commemoration Holiday. Uncalled for and overly racist, the party hit the fan.

ASU’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity held an unregistered  “MLK Black Party,” inviting party-goers to “dress like black people.”

Those who attended appeared to fit the stereotype; wearing tall basketball jerseys, sagging pants, drinking from watermelon cups, and flashing gang signs. All of which aired on the attendees’ social media networks.

As a consequence, the university suspended all operations of the fraternity and is taking action against the individuals involved.

Since 2012, the fraternity has been on disciplinary probation with the university, prohibiting TKE members to host parties.

Looking at the situation from a Public Relations perspective, TKE members who partook in the festivities have influence on ASU’s image- as representatives of a national fraternity. This is precisely why the university acted as quickly as it had.

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Same Love for Macklemore & The Grammys?

I love Macklemore, the Grammy Awards, and CBS even more!

Shameless PR (COM 475)

So, the Grammy Awards airs tonight. I don’t know about you, but I’m anticipating some of my favorite artist’s big performances and big wins. One of my favorite artists and a Seattle favorite, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are set to perform “Same Love,” the biggest pro-marriage-equality song of 2014.

While debate is still swirling the U.S. over same-sex marriage laws, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are taking the center stage. During their big performance tonight, 34 couples, of different ethnicities, ages, and sexual orientations, will be married live.

Ryan Lewis stated that the ceremonies will show that “all the couples are entitled to the same exact thing.” Hence, “Same Love.”

Talk about a PR stunt, and not one that will reflect badly on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, but on the Grammy Awards and CBS network. Everyone already knows that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis support marriage equality, but what kind of opinion…

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Happy Birthday to my lost child



Today is my oldest son’s 24th birthday.  Some would be full of joy, but instead waking up and thinking about it, brought me to my knees.  He was my first-born and I have never forgotten the day I found out I was pregnant with him.  I was at my parent’s house, with my fiancée, addressing wedding invitations.  The phone rang and it was a nurse calling about my pregnancy test earlier in the day.  The only reason I agreed to the test was because during the marriage license blood test, I learned I had a low Rubella count and the doctors couldn’t give me the vaccine if there was a possibility I was pregnant.  I laughed at the thought of it, as I knew I took birth control, but nevertheless, the doctor insisted on the test. 

To my shock, the test came back positive.  I just stood there in my parent’s basement, holding the phone, speechless.  I did not know what to say.  My fiancée was scared something was wrong and begged me to tell him what the nurse said.  I looked at him and told him I was pregnant.  To my further shock, he grabbed and hugged me and said, “you are having a boy and his name is Cody”.

My pregnancy and delivery were extremely hard, but were all worth it when I held my beautiful son in my arms.  He was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen; he had stolen my heart. I went on to have two more incredible children, but still, no one forgets the feeling of having a first child.  It is so scary.  Children aren’t born with instruction manuals, so I was constantly worried about being the perfect mother.  I have learned through the years, I was not.   I could have given my son all of the love in the world, but it would not ever erase that I had chosen an abuser as his father.  

I didn’t know his father was abusive, that was something I slowly learned over the years.  It’s like putting a frog in a pot of hot boiling water, it will immediately hop out, but if you put that same frog in a pot of warm, comforting water and – s l o w l y – turn up the heat, the frog won’t know to jump out before it’s too late.  That is how my ex-husband introduced me to abuse.  He courted me and was charming, loving, and doting; he made me feel like I was the only person in his world. It wasn’t until he had a ring on my finger and our first child was born that he started to gently turn up the heat.  He always had reasons for the way he talked to and treated me.  I knew I could take anything he sent my way, as long as he didn’t hurt my children.  I never wanted a divorce because I may not have been there to protect my children from him if he got custody, so in my mind, I thought it was better that I endure his abuse until my kids were grown and then attempt to escape his madness.

What my husband’s abuse never prepared me for was the torture I would suffer after I had left.  I realized I couldn’t wait until my kids were grown because once he kept turning up the heat, I didn’t know if I would survive and then my kids would be left with no one to protect them.  So when my children were 17, 13, and 10, I fled; that was almost 7 years ago.   I got all of us into counseling and have worked 18 hours a day to be the best parent and person I can be.   My younger two children have flourished in our new environment, but my ex was successful in turning my oldest against me.

We were always so close, and he told me how proud he was of me that I had the strength to leave, but a year afterwards, he started talking to his dad again and I saw him being drug down into my ex’s way of thinking.  He told me that year that abuse is genetic and he had no other choice, but to follow in his dad’s footsteps.  I felt those words as if someone had slit open my chest and ripped my heart from inside of me.   When I had my children, I thought of the beautiful futures they would have; I didn’t picture them to grow up with anger and hatred.

Today when I woke up and knew it was his birthday, I pictured the boy, who when he was three, would pull me into the living room to dance to video music on VH1.  When he was in elementary school, he loved to have me play Lover Boy’s “Working for the Weekend” everyday on the way to school.   I never missed one of his concerts, soccer games, basketball games, or swim meets.  In the summer in California, we would go swimming every day and on the way home from Six Flags, we would turn on the Backstreet Boys and sing their songs, at the top of our lungs, all the way home.

Yet, one by one, we lost his grandmother, his cousin, and then my dad.  With each death, he started to build a wall that I didn’t know how to get through.  Unfortunately, that wall has grown so high; he may never reach around and grab my hand.  Even though, I see him once in awhile, we have not had an honest conversation in five years.  I miss my son with all of my heart and every year when he turns a year older, I wonder if I will ever know him again.  He lives less than a mile from me, but it might as well be a thousand.  No matter how much I loved that little boy, I cannot embrace a 24-year old man, who chooses hatred over love.  I can only live my life with honor, and then hope, one day, he will see that he too can choose that path.    Until then, I guess there will be days I wake up in tears, not just for what I have lost, but for the future, he too, deserved. 

Mary Lambert: From tears to laughter



I had the fortune in attending Mary Lambert’s concert Friday night.  I learned about Mary’s music after hearing her perform with Macklemore on the VMA’s.  Her voice was incredible, but I could also sense a spirit about her that I connected with.  I met another woman recently that I also connected with in a similar way.  Without words we both knew that somewhere in our lives we had encountered abuse.  We never talk about it, but we can see it in the way that we both embrace and look at life.  I felt that same kinship when Mary Lambert walked out on the stage; she had yet to sing, but I could feel it in the aura she exuded.  Sometimes when others learn I suffered from domestic violence, their faces turn to sadness, almost pity.  Yes, I would never wish an abusive husband on anyone, but I don’t choose to live my life as the poster child for domestic violence; rather I would prefer to be the poster child for perseverance.  Having walked out of the darkness, I want to dance, I want to sing, I want to laugh- as if I won’t wake up again tomorrow. 

I realize it may seem odd to others, but having been held down for almost twenty years, as if a pillow was constantly held over my face, I learned how to breathe again and I now want to savor every breath I take in.  I laugh at silly things, I laugh at how Anchorman 2 paid homage to Ice Castles – that made me laugh hysterically even to the dismay of my teenage children sitting next to me.  Everyone needs a little cornball in his or her lives; yet, I even laugh at the darkness.   That was my favorite part of Mary Lambert’s concert – she could leave us in tears with a song about rape, but in between she would have us laughing at the most random things.  I didn’t walk out of her concert feeling sad for her; instead I walked out knowing I had just witnessed a strong woman who had turned her own darkness into beautiful art.  My laughing at the darkness doesn’t mean I am minimizing it.   My laughter and my perseverance are sending the darkness a clear message – it won’t control or hold me down ever again.  The darkness is isolating and gray, but my light is full of potential and hope.  I am not naïve that the darkness won’t sneak in, here or there, but I refuse to allow it to ever take me over again.

Immediately after Mary sang her first verse about abuse, I was drawn in, but I never had a chance to really take in what she was singing because out of the corner of my eyes, I noticed my friends and family on both sides of me sneaking glances with their watchful eyes.  They were worried how the song would affect me.  I loved their concern, but what I wish others could see is yes, maybe the song would have made me cry, but tears are okay, they are therapeutical, but no song or words will ever break me again.   Instead I was overcome with joy that a woman would be brave and stand on a stage and sing about abuse and rape and body image. 

Darkness wins when we stay silent.  Abusers, rapists, bullies win when our voices are hushed. Laughter, joy, support, happen when silence is broken, and each of us stands up and throws off our chains of oppression.  My abuser no longer hurts my children or me; it is the complacent people who walk by with blinders on that cut me to the core.   Yet, it isn’t my job to judge them either; we all grieve or heal in our own way and time – maybe they aren’t ready to walk into the light yet – until they are, I can only hope that women like Mary Lambert will continue to light up a path to freedom for all who are oppressed, whether it’s due to race, gender, sexual equality, political freedom, and so on.  Holding hands, our light will out shine the darkness; my hope is that it will shine so bright that in turn the darkness will learn from us and walk away too. 

How do you define the man in your life? Fool or Hero?


In a recent conversation with my mom, I could sense her concern on how others perceived my father, not just my father in general, but also my father as a man who had Multiple Sclerosis. At first I didn’t understand her worries because I only saw my dad as my loving, devoted father, I never defined him by a disease, just as I wouldn’t want others to define my son as Asperger’s Syndrome, or my daughter as PTSD, or me as a divorcee of an abuser. If people did only see my dad for his Multiple Sclerosis, then they missed out on knowing a great man.

No matter what life threw at him, he always handled it with dignity and stride. I asked him the year before his death how he did it. Every time I came to visit him, he always greeted me with a huge, loving smile and would ask about me. Me? He never wanted to talk about what the disease had done to him. He went from a vibrant, hard-working man to many years later barely being able to leave his bed. My amazing mom was always by his side, making sure his every need was taken care of; yet, the first thing out of their mouths was how was I?

My dad was not perfect, who is? What I do know is that from the minute he said, “I do” to my mom his first priority was always taking care and honoring his family. Six and a half years ago when my ex told me (on our 18th wedding anniversary/Father’s Day) that he was tired of being a husband and father and either I do it all or find someone to take his place because he had better things to do in his life; I remember being in complete shock by his words, and the worst part is my 13-year old daughter over heard him. I remember asking him “What kind of man abandons his family? My dad lost his first business right after I, one of five children, was born. Did he walk away? No, he sought out another career. After that he developed Multiple Sclerosis. Did he walk away? No, he sought out another career and started his own upholstery shop in his home, so he could provide for his family. When the MS took over and he could no longer work in his shop, did he walk away? No, he sought out another career (in his sixties now) and went back to college, so he could run a tax service out of his office. My dad never gave up. He was a real man and father.” My ex husband stood looking at me with dark, callous eyes, like a dementor from the book Harry Potter, who was about to suck away my soul, and said “Your dad wasn’t a man, he was a fool.”

I knew right then that my ex could never be a real role model for my children, as he showed me who the real fool was. My father may have already passed on, but my children knew him. He was their role model. They drew the above picture of him while I was still with my ex. When I asked my oldest son to draw a picture of family, he drew his grandparents. His version may have had my dad’s wheelchair, but it didn’t show my dad being helpless and defeated, it showed him the way I will always remember him: full of love for everyone that walked into his life. My parents taught me what love is.

When I was in college I was brutally attacked and I was so ashamed I never told anyone. My attacker began tormenting me and I decided I could no longer live with the shame anymore, and decided to end my life. Before I did, a co-worker, I barely knew, reached out to me and told me whatever was eating at me could be worked out. He told me if I ended my life, my oppressor won and the people I loved lost. He convinced me to tell someone; I went to my dad. I expected him to yell and scream at me and to be so ashamed, but instead he was calm, loving and gave me a huge hug; he told me he loved me and always would. He said there was only one thing that could change the way he looked at me, and that was if I ever gave up. He said I could fall on my face a thousand times, but the time I decided not to get up again, and try again, was the day he would walk away from me.

Those words carried me through the last twenty-five years. I have people constantly say they think I’m brave for surviving a sociopath, but what other alternative is there? My dad taught me that we are more than then the blockades that are thrown in our way. I work hard every day to honor my father, not a fool, but my hero; if I can pay it forward one way for him; I know it would be to help others see that obstacles are never so enormous that we cannot work to find a strategy around or through them. My journey has not been an easy one, and I’m confident there will be more barriers along the way, but life is always a work in progress, and as long as I am moving forward and making a better future for my children, myself, and others around me, then I have lived. Truly lived.

Is it possible to be too honest?

Phoenix Rising 2

Last night I was out at dinner with friends, not just friends, but the amazing, supportive women who hold me up when I am too tired to get up and try again.  The year I left my abusive husband, my youngest son was also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  My life was in such a fog, I never thought I could find my way through it.  For the first week of my separation, my husband was unaccounted for.  He told me he flew to a job site in Colorado, but his work said he took an extra week of vacation to spend with his family.  As I tried to get a protection order, I was terrified he would appear and try to kill me or one of my kids; I would nap during the day, while my teenagers were awake, and then at night, I had moved a mattress into our living room, so my kids could sleep on it, and I would sit on the couch watching over them all night with a butcher knife under my pillow. For months, I was out of my mind and the only thing I could focus on was our survival.   It has been six and half years since those events, and I am a different, stronger person now, but those nights all came flooding back last night at dinner.

A close friend is going through her own divorce hell right now.  It has similar characteristics of mine.  I found myself advising her, bluntly advising her. I was sharing what she could expect her first day in court.  I wanted to prepare her for anything that may be thrown her way.   Before we could finish, she ran out in tears.  I felt ill inside.  It made me think about whose truth was I telling?  I think we are all guilty of that.  We see our friend in pain – a pain that is similar to something we experienced – and we want to spare our friend that pain.  Maybe we can a little, but sometimes they may have to go through some of that pain to come out stronger on the other end as well.

I found myself up half the night asking myself just that; is it possible to be too honest?  Throughout my life, right after someone has just served me up a huge dose of reality, they end the conversation curtly with “I was just being honest.”  Those words cut through me like a knife.  Really? Just being honest?  When we hear those words, do we ever stop and ask whose definition of honest are we using, and do we give power to that person that their definition is the correct one?  As women, when some well intended friend or family member is advising us on our life, we need to stop and thank them for how much they care about us, but inside we need to question where their well advised words are coming from.  Are they projecting their own baggage on us or do they really know what’s best for us?  I think only WE know what’s best for us.  Don’t get me wrong, I live for my group of supportive women, but what I love most about them is if I ask for advice, they give it, but they give it with no intentions for their outcome, but instead for me to figure out what I need to use and what I will toss aside.  They trust that I know what’s best for my family and me.

So it’s less about being too honest and more about giving your opinion and advice, and letting it go, and supporting your friend no matter how they choose to take the advice.  We are all at different stages in our life, and we can’t expect our friends to be in the same place.  What we can do is to hold their hand and remind them of all the reasons we love them.  If they need more, they will ask.

Farewell to 2013

My blog is about picking myself up and starting over. It’s about writing my own definition for success. We have to be careful when we ask our friends and loved ones for advice because only we know what truly motivates and makes us happy. When I ask myself what success means to me, it means everyday I make life better for me and those around me. But sometimes we don’t ever know if we are truly making a difference for others. Well, I received the best gift of all this New Years by reading my daughter’s blog. I had to share. Sometimes being a good parent isn’t always saying yes, but actually setting boundaries, even if it means our kids will turn away from us. Hopefully, one day, they will understand and realize how much we truly love them. But for now, I am so touched by my daughter’s words. #boundaries #daughters #lettinggo

The Art of Survival is a Story That Never Ends

Blog 1

Seven years ago today my ex walked out the door, never to return.  At the time, I did not know that would be the last time he lived in our home, as we did not officially separate for 10 more months.  My marriage was an abusive one; I thought it was the only life I was destined for.   It was like I was on a roller coaster ride that would never stop long enough for me to escape.  Fortunately, in June of 2009, the roller coaster paused long enough for me to jump off and run with my three beautiful children by my side.  I thought life was rough within the marriage; it was just as rough outside the marriage. It was just a new kind of terror.

I exited the roller coaster and entered a maze that I did not know how to navigate.  I quickly learned how to survive and provide for my children and me, and along the way, I have learned every type of resource necessary for survival.  I had worked as a part time professional photographer while raising my kids, but my new journey changed me, and I knew there was a reason for my past and that was to use it to help others. I have spent the next part of my life taking care of my children (one having more needs than his siblings), going back to college: on top of my Associates in Business Administration, I recently graduated on the 30-year plan receiving a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology, a Bachelors of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies of Social Sciences with a minor in non-profit management, and am currently pursuing a Masters in Education, Higher Education; volunteering for many non-profit organizations, etc. From the outside it would seem that I finally have it all, but I’m really not there yet.

I am determined.  I strive to be both mother and father and be the best role model I can for my children.  Yet sometimes, I realize I tend to always be focusing on making everyone else happy.  This is where I went wrong in my marriage.  I got lost in his demands. I believe the closer I come to having it all, I freeze.  I don’t know why this is because I can clearly see the future I want, but I am afraid to say it out loud; thus, the purpose of my blog is to let go of the past and embrace the future I want and to remind myself that I am worthy of the next chapter of my life.  If I send my vision out to the universe, there is an accountability my competitive side will hold true to.  This is not a New Year’s resolution blog, it just happens the date my ex drove his truck away was New Year’s Day.  The symbolism, however, has not been lost on me.   I know that I can only create this path, stone by stone, because the best part of setting goals is designing another route around the barriers that get thrown in the way.  So here it goes, my cry to the universe, “I will spend the next year living a healthier life full of exercise and a healthy diet, continue to make time for myself and my children, apply and be accepted into a doctoral program that will help me make a difference in the lives of students with Asperger’s Syndrome and other learning disorders, and to put my fears on the top of my to do list and attempt new endeavors that I would normally stray away from.   Look out 2014, here I come!