Friday, March 28, 2014

A Place at the Table and Etched in Sand


This book review has been waiting to post but it's worth it.  I gave A Place at the Table five stars because of the seamless interweaving of several different storylines into what I consider the main story, that of Bobby.  Although a large chunk of the book focuses on Bobby, the opening pages introduce us to a little black girl named Alice and her family's hog farm.  This is an important introduction as it establishes some of the cultural roots of the South that are major factors in the lives of the characters.  One such character is Bobby, whom we meet as a little boy in '70s Georgia.  A devoted Christian, he adores his mother, youth group, and sleepovers at his grandmother's house.  As we watch Bobby develop into a young man, it becomes evident to the reader that Bobby is struggling with his sexual identity and has few outlets to not only explore this area of his life, but also to inform himself.  His grandmother becomes an amazing, supportive influence in his life.  She encourages him to go to New York City because that's where she feels a creative soul can develop and prosper.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Small Town Parades


Small town parades are so great! Great Falls is super adorable about throwing several small town parades throughout the year.  This is the first town that I've lived in that has several small parades. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Family Life Update


This past weekend was pretty awesome! I got the notification that my third grad class was about to start on Monday (which I almost forgot about- totally normal for me) and so I was able to get my books squared away on Amazon.  I also got my first 100 on an essay in the course. CHYEA!  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cuz I'm HAPPY: Spreading Seeds of Happiness

Over the weekend, Brittany and I decided to explore more of the downtown area.  At a great store called Dragonfly Drygoods, we found these quirky and fun trinkets called Seeds of Happiness.

Seeds of Happiness was born out of an act of kindness. Mark Borella, a sculptor, created small smiley faces from left-over lumps of clay. He gave these to his friends whose young son was dying of cancer. He told them: "I know there is nothing I can say or do to make you feel better so I thought I would bring you some smiles to help you get your smile back. I call them Seeds of Happiness." Sharing the Smiles continues to grow as our customers plant Seeds around the world.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An Exercise in Personal Values

Last week I had the opportunity to be a part of a group that was doing a trial run of an ethical decision making program.  It was created and hosted by one of my favorite leaders, a chaplain from the Reserves who is visiting from Texas.  Her presence is so neat because she is the first female military chaplain that I've ever met and she's also very awesome.  She created a program that was not only awesome, but it wasn't a death by PowerPoint that, well let's face it, most military briefings are like.  We sat down to do the trial run and were introduced to a personal values exercise and a choose-your-own-adventure exercise.  What what! Yeah, it was that fun.  I hadn't done a CYOA since I was like in 4th grade.  The personal values exercise was what I wanted to focus on in this post because it was not only fun, but it provided a point of clarity.
On a sheet of paper were several 20 values and a blank space to add your own.  The values had their own descriptions and the exercise involved putting a plus sign next to your top eight values that you feel are most important to you.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Did You See?: Pi/Pie Edition

I like sharing over-sharing internet links and fun things.
Here is what you may have missed from this week: 
+ Stranger danger is actually a very real thing, but this mom and daughter duo make information and education supes adorbs :)
+ It's important for schools, especially high school administrators, to encourage discussion on these topics because it's prevalent and an important education opportunity.  Don't censor school newspapers on these topics.
+ Don't be that asshat at the gym.  Support and encourage everyone who goes. Health isn't just a fad, it's a lifestyle choice.

A Young Life Experience- Megan's Reflections

You might have seen some Young Life related Instagram shots this past week.  I may or may not have flooded your Instagram feeds a few times with blurry shots of feet, human pyramids, soda challenges, and other ridiculous things.  But don't worry, it was just an Instagram-themed Young Life.

Young Life is amazing and I want to pour my heart and soul into so many posts describing why it is so, but I first put up a picture of it on Instagram.

I first decided to become a leader with Young Life because of my friend Michael but I was really moved to see that Young Life was a part of many of my friends' lives as they were growing up.  Admittedly I was a little jealous because little Catholic Kim would have loved to have gone to Young Life as a high school student.  Now I didn't go girls gone wild in college, but I definitely wanted a stronger foundation with the Lord and Young Life gives high students that opportunity if they want it.

After I saw the comments, I asked a few of my friends if they would be interested in being a guest blogger and talking about their experiences.  Megan responded right away!  She and I grew up together and one of my favorite memories was her love of Nsync and performing in talent shows together.  Today is an incredibly confident, fashionable, smart, trendy, and lovely woman who is a very witty blogger.  Big thanks to Megan for sharing her Young Life story.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Became a Guardian Ad Litem Through CASA

Before maturity...maybe still there
I was first introduced to the program, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), I was a freshman in college and a brand new Theta.  If you are not familiar with the Greek system, sororities and fraternities have a specific philanthropy that they raise money for and in turn, it teaches young people the value of giving back to their respective communities.  When I was going through recruitment, that was one of my favorite things about Theta was that CASA is an important element of our sorority.  As I grew older and matured (hopefully) through college, I realized that I wanted to give back more.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Breakfast and a Paleo Journey

I haven't been 100% happy with my overall health and wellness as of this past year.  Having grown up a competitive swimmer, track athlete, and honestly, constantly moving, I never really had issues.  However, since moving to Montana, I gained weight, felt more self-conscious in clothes, had to buy more clothes, and hated how I felt.  Some of these things were due to my new job and living in a remote area, but definitely some areas could be attributed to not eating well and not scheduling time for working out.  So throughout the past six months, I started upping my workouts.  This included lifting more, doing more cardio, adding variety, etc.  I still wasn't seeing the results that I wanted.  I knew that I had to change my diet and I had to clean up areas of it.

I met up with my friend Ashton, aka Tinkerbell and Battle Buddy, and she helped me go over several points of great nutrition.  She also introduced me to the cookbook, Against the Grain by Danielle Walker.  The recipes had variations of great recipes and ingredient replacements that are so yummy! I also started reading the cookbook, Practical Paleo by Diane Sanflippo and It's All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow.  It made me realize that there are so many areas of my diet where I could replace something that might not necessarily be providing my body with fuel and instead add spinach, fruits, etc.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Disney Princess Your Mid-20s

One of my favorite things about my first official duty station are the fantastic women that I have had the opportunity of meeting while here.  We all coincidentally love Disney and Disney princesses so one day we decided to start brainstorming a Disney princess party.

Yes, it really is that fantastic.

We basically selected our individual Disney characters and spent three weeks brainstorming costume ideas, food choices, and decor options.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Changing the World...One Spoon at a Time

In the past couple of months, I became the Public Affairs Officer for the Company Grade Officer Association (CGOA) for my base.  It has been a huge honor for me and if you don't know me, a lot of folks like to say that my fictional character twin is definitely Leslie Knope.

Now I certainly don't mind that one bit because I love Leslie and I love Amy Poehler.  When I became the PA officer, I knew that I wanted to make a difference and I also knew that the CGOA needed that boost of energy from me.  In working with five amazing, yet very busy people, our schedules don't always mesh well.  But honestly, that's where I come in.  We've created a new e-mail address, an updated Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a private CGOA board Facebook group.

I was honored when my fellow CGOs voted me in as the PA and although the position encourages community involvement and volunteerism, I wanted to embrace that and really become a positive influence on our local community.  For me, moving to Great Falls really flipped a switch on how active someone should be in their community.  I feel like it is every person's civic responsibility to give back in some way.  My friend May mentioned a local organization called My Neighbor In Need.  It's a really fantastic non-profit where local families can request assistance with a specific need.  For example, some people may need mattresses for their kids, so they'll put up a request online for X number of child-size mattresses.  Then people can visit the site, check over the requests, and see if they can help out.

From the end of February to the end of March, we are doing our first charity drive called Home at the Dinner Table.  We have donation boxes all throughout the local community and folks are asked to donate clean kitchen items.  These items will be given to My Neighbor In Need and then passed on to families in the community that need them.  Kitchen supplies are actually in the top three most requested items for the organization.

One of my personal favorite components of the campaign are the print ads:


I know every single one of these people and they have such beautiful spirits! It's been amazing working with all of these different people and supporting a great cause.  If you're reading this and are a CGO, we are brainstorming so many ideas and feel free to share with any one of your board members.  I can't wait for the rest of 2014 with such awesome people =]

If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
 photo signature_zpsc0b51015.jpg

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Jason Derulo's "Talk Dirty To Me" and Sexual Tourism

Image Source

I love catchy songs. I love dancing to them, singing at the top of my lungs while driving through town, and memorizing their lyrics as I play them over and over again.  However, I hate the majority of the song lyrics out there.  Take Jason Derulo's song, "Talk Dirty To Me," for example.  In the simplest of terms, it's a song about how Jason is so good at getting women, that he can expand his borders into international waters and "spit mad game."  When I first heard the song, I loved the hooks, the samples from other songs the producers used, and the incorporation of different cultural elements.  It's really good musically.  However, in my opinion, the lyrics suck.

The lyrics suck for many reasons, but most of them simply have to do with being a decent human being.  I am an advocate for the awareness of human trafficking and the perpetuation of cultural stereotypes that further sexualize women as objects.  His song literally hit every branch of my concerns. 

I didn't hear "Talk Dirty To Me" until a few weeks ago, but it was released in the United States on January 7th of this year.  Around that time, you may have seen this image or ones like it:


These images flooded social media sites and despite awareness being raised on these issues, there were still criticisms.  The criticisms were that this isn't an accurate statement and that human trafficking exists on a wide-scale level throughout the U.S. everyday, and bottom-line, people simply do not know enough about this issue.

I defended these types of campaigns because it at least introduced the idea to people that the United States isn't completely separated from issues that plague the globe.  People are trafficked everyday in the United States and most U.S. people have no idea.  

Derulo's song doesn't even cover the United States.  His song, with international themes, talks about the worldwide pursuit of hot women.  So why would I get upset over a song about pursuing hot foreign girls?  Because everything his song represents fits under the notion of sexual tourism.  In a June 2013 Huffington Post article, it reported that the U.S. State Department released a report saying that only 46,570 out of an estimated 27 million victims of human trafficking were identified in 2012.  In recent reports, that number sounds more like 30 million.


What perpetuates a system that enslaves people is the concept of supply versus demand.  In the U.S. alone, a poll suggests that about 15% of men will pay for sex.  People, when dehumanized, can be a product that is for sale.  A young girl can be bought and sold for years until she is either injured, becomes ill, contracts an STD, becomes pregnant, loses her youthful appeal, or is killed.  The cycle then continues as pimps purchase or steal more people.  As the Not For Sale Campaign states, "vulnerable people and communities are targeted by recruiters, and traffickers and through deception, fraud and coercion are brought into slavery."  One component in the definition of human trafficking is exploitation.  

With sexual tourism, organizations around the world market to (predominantly) men that they can have the sexual fantasies that they desire with women from [fill in the country].  These men can have a girl for an hour or rent a girlfriend for several days.  They can be as ridiculous as they want with these women, with little to no regard for what these women and children go through.  One of the countries that Derulo mentioned in his song was Thailand. Coincidentally Thailand is one of the world's most notorious locations for trafficking and is considered the Disneyland of sexual escapades.  
A Bangkok-based children's rights group has been tracking tourism in the popular city and found that 2 million foreigners visited the country in 1984, 4 million in 1988, and more than 11 million in 2003. Out of the total number of foreign visitors, roughly two-thirds entering Thailand were unaccompanied men. In other words, about 7.3 million unaccompanied men visited the country in 2003.      

Not only are women and children being exploited but the "virgin ideal" is being heavily manipulated. Parents of children in these countries hawk their children's virginity because they know that men will pay good money for virgins.  One week a daughter is worth $1000 and the next week she is having sex with 10 different men for $2.50 per guy.  There is even the practice of sponsoring a child, where clients will pay a family really good money to make sure that their child is taken care of and whenever the client visits, he will get to have sex with said child. 

These sexual escapades are not solely reserved for sexual tourists but is simply a part of the culture for certain countries.  A night out of with boys will commonly end with stopping in a red light district.  Business clients expect to be treated to beautiful women in order to secure deals.  Wives expect that their husbands will sleep with a person who is being trafficked or is a prostitute because they "have needs" and they would rather not have their husbands leave them.

When men like Jason Derulo, who as a music artist has some leverage in life, perpetuate sexual tourism in his songs, he glamorizes an industry that exploits millions of people.  He adds to this belief that every woman is ready to get laid and that's all they want in life.  That regardless of language barriers to give consent or an understanding cultural importance, he can still "spit game."  He perpetuates a problem of men believing that sexual fantasies conducted with women and children who have little influence over their own lives is okay.  In a country like the United States, where sex trafficking happens but is not a blatant part of our everyday lives, he degrades the quality of life for people who were either manipulated, deceived, or are trying to survive in circumstances that are out of their control.  You can put a great track to a song, but it's not going to cover up that the young people that hear this song think that treating women this way is okay.

If you liked this post, share it with others! If you feel particularly moved by it, leave a comment because I love feedback and discussion. Social media links are provided below and thanks for reading!
 photo signature_zpsc0b51015.jpg