Monday, May 18, 2009

On Atrocities and Faith

If you're looking for my regular, light-hearted fare, then you'd better stop reading.

After reading this on, I'm not in the mood to laugh.

It's Eve Ensler's account of the atrocities occurring to women, girls--baby girls even--in the Congo.

This is not new news. For years now, I have read Ms. Ensler's accounts of her visits to the Congo and the women and girls she has met. I've written about it before. Yet, the stories keep coming and coming. I keep hoping I will see an article posted with a headline such as: "All Women in Congo are Now Safe! Someone Came To Their Rescue!" But no. Just year, after year, of gruesome stories. If something like this began occurring in, say, the state of Oregon, someone would take notice and do something. I bet even France would send in their troops. When a horrible crime occurs in this country to ONE person, the media gets hold of it, and most of the time, people are up in arms about it. But Congo is much too far away for most people to care.

I'll probably go for a walk today with my daughter and see nothing but blue skies and other people out for walks, jogging, running errands, working. To imagine seeing the horrors Ms. Ensler describes on my own impossible. But imagine a girl growing up in Congo. What has she seen? And why has no one tried to make her world better? Is there a difference between her and my daughter? Only geography.

At times like this, I get angry with governments, Western civilization, myself, and God. Of all beings who could put a stop to this, surely He can, am I right? I mean really! I think if I were God, I certainly wouldn't allow a six month old baby girl be tortured. So why would He? (Does He even deserve the capital "H" I'm giving Him, anyway?) I don't know. Maybe He thinks that because this is a man-made problem, it should have a man-made answer. He didn't swoop down and stop the Holocaust now, did He? Maybe He is hoping our goodness will prevail, we will wake up, and prevent genocide from happening once and for all. I mean, how many times must history repeat itself people!--He's probably thinking.

In the end, I can't help but feel He cries with us too, when crap like this happens. That His heart breaks a million times more than mine even, when he sees men doing these things to women and girls. That He too wonders what the heck we're all doing here, standing by idly, as other innocent humans suffer terribly. What good are they? He might wonder about us.

At least that's what I'd like to think. That there's more good in the world than bad. However, for the women and girls of Congo, THEIR worlds have more bad than good in them. And honestly, for any of us who care an ounce about this situation, we have to do something to correct that.

For more info on this problem and what we can do, visit

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Ain't No Donna Reed!

Anyone ever heard of Donna Reed? Remember her? 1950's and '60s television icon? On "The Donna Reed Show," she was a stay-at-home mom, vacuuming and ironing in wrinkle-free skirt and heels. Lovingly tending to her doctor husband and two beautiful children. Providing her family with an endless supply of fresh-baked goodies. Making wonderfully wholesome meals, served with pressed napkins, milk delivered via milkman and a gleaming white smile? She appeared to be the Martha Stewart of her time. Now that I am a wife and mom, I realize what a crock that was! No wonder my grandmother spent most of her adulthood depressed and medicated! Who could live up to that ideal? Certainly not me.

Case in point: It was almost 5 o'clock. My husband was on his way home. I looked around and realized I had to warn him about what he would find when he entered our home. I dialed. "Hi, what's up?" he said. "Um, honey. I thought I should warn you: Dinner is partially burned, but we'll just call it "blackened;" leftovers from lunch lay scattered across the kitchen table; peanut butter is still smeared into the chairs and your daughter's hair; a terrorist must have sneaked in our house and unleashed a laundry bomb because there are clothes lying in clumps everywhere; watch out for an assortment of puzzle pieces and empty Disney movie boxes you might encounter underfoot near the front door; I haven't showered today (actually, wasn't sure if I had brushed my teeth, but I didn't tell him that); our daughter is still running around in her jammies--Christmas jammies and if I'm not mistaken, it's May."

His reply: "So what else is new?"

If my mother could see me now, she would be appalled. Actually, during this conversation the doorbell rang, and I freaked. No! No visitors! Not now!!! Especially not Mom!!!

It was a man trying to sell landscaping services. I told him I couldn't talk. Something in the oven was burning. He didn't believe me. Poor young fellow. If he only knew that rare is the day when something isn't burning in our oven!

So what? So I'm no Donna Reed. Or Martha Stewart. To me, at the end of the day, success is getting my family fed and in clean (albeit, most of the time wrinkly) clothes and spending time with them. And we spend a lot of time together. Playing, going the park, swimming, planting gardens and flying kites. Better Homes & Gardens would not want to feature my home. But who cares? You don't fill up scrapbooks with pictures of your living room furniture. You don't savor memories of a clean rug or polished bathtub (actually, it's quite possible that my mother does. God bless her!). I couldn't tell you what we had for dinner last week, but I can tell you how much my daughter laughed when she and my husband wrapped me up like a burrito in a beach towel. But please, if you ever stop by for a visit, call waaaayyyy in advance! And don't mind the smoky haze in the kitchen!

'Til next time!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Girls Rights Week May 4-8, 2009

There's a non-profit organization called Girls Inc. " dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold." Pretty cool stuff. They've even developed a Girls Bill of Rights. To make their mission more known -- and the plight of girls everywhere -- they've made this week Girls Rights Week! Check out their site to learn more about them and how you can help advance girls rights and gender equity.


Friday, May 1, 2009

The Upside to the Downside of Being Bullied

Kids grow up so fast. It won't be long and my daughter will be attending school. My husband and I were recalling grade school memories the other day, both good and bad. For me, the latter always comes back to being bullied in the second grade. Mary (not her real name, though I still remember it; I doubt she remembers mine) was much larger than me, and sometimes even my friend. She would invite me to play or sit next to her at lunch, then would make fun of me, call me names, and threaten to hurt me (though fortunately, she never did physically). She even threatened that various family members of hers would come to school to beat me up (and one day, a cousin did come with with her, but fortunately, both just teased me for liking the color pink, then left.) This went on for a year, until one day, she approached me seeming both unusually sad and nice. "I'm moving," she said. "I won't be going to school here anymore." I still remember standing in our schoolyard, frozen with disbelief, my heart racing with the purest joy I've ever felt.

My memories of being bullied are so vivid, because they affected me very deeply. For many years, once I grew to be a not-so-scrawny girl, I dreamed of meeting her and giving her a piece of my mind (and occasionally, I threw a fist in there too). You see, I told my parents of what was going on right away, but they just told me to ignore her. I don't think they knew what to do about it and thought it was just the idle threats of second-graders, harmless stuff. I told my teacher, and she even paid a visit to Mary's house, after which Mary told me if I ever told anyone again, I would be in even bigger trouble than before, so I never said another word to anyone about it.

It wasn't until adulthood that I realized maybe Mary was a victim too. On one occasion, she mentioned her mom hitting her. I think she might possibly have been the victim of abuse, which is why she might have turned to bullying. I also wonder if her moving to another place might have been the result of a teacher probing into a domestic situation her family didn't want made known.

The upside is that by being bullied, I became very sensitive to others being bullied. When I was an older school child, I even had the courage to intervene and help kids out when they were becoming victims. It's too bad that back in 1983, bullying wasn't taken very seriously. I think Mary and I could have benefitted more from the situation if the adults in our lives did more to try to resolve the problem. Unfortunately for her, I'm not sure the adults in her life cared enough to bother. But I wish mine did more to put a stop to it. I know many parents and educators believe in letting kids resolve their own problems. I think that's important too. However, when that's not possible, intervention is necessary. At least, now I know that if my daughter ever finds herself in such a situation, I'll be with her ever step of the way until it's resolved, whether that means just lending her emotional support or intervening directly. No matter what age kids are, bullying hurts! And its effects last a lifetime.

For more on stopping bullying, visit Stop Bullying Now!

'Til Next Time,