Category Archives: Donation & Volunteering

Activist or Slacktivist?

ACT - Action Changes Things

Do you remember seeing weird posts from friends like “I like it on the bed”, “I just found out I’m pregnant” or “Post the color of your bra…”?

I think we’ve all seen one of those weird status posts that a friend will make and when you reach out to find out what’s going on you get a private message something like this…

“Hey! You should not have liked or commented! Now you have to pick one of the 14 below and post to your status. This was the 2014 breast cancer awareness game:

Don’t be a spoil sport choose your poison, and change your status 1) Damn diarrhea 2) Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket 3) Anyone have a tampon, I’m out 4) How do you get rid of foot fungus 5) Why is nobody around when I’m horny? 6) No toilet paper goodbye socks! 7) Someone offered me a job as a prostitute but I’m hesitant. 8) I think I’m in love with someone what should I do? 9) I’ve decided 2 stop wearing underwear. 10) I still love my ex. 11) I really don’t know how 2 tell anyone and I’m sick of hiding it I’m gay. 12) Guess it was 2 good 2 b true I’m pregnant. 13) Just won $7000 on a scratchy. 14) I’ve just found out I’ve been cheated on for the past 5 months. Post with no explanations. Sorry, I fell for it too!”

A respected friend and former co-worker posted this with a tidy rant about people being “slactivists” by just playing these games that get nothing done and to do something worthwhile for a worthy cause. I couldn’t agree more.

I’d never heard the word “slacktivist” before but it fits so perfectly.  You know, the person who hits “like” but doesn’t lift more than there mousing finger to help.

This is the 2017 breast cancer game.  This does nothing to spread awareness of a horrible disease, how does this save lives?  Men need to be aware of this too, their wives, daughters, mothers and even they can wind up with breast cancer!

Hi beautiful ladies so here it is the time of year again when we try to raise awareness of breast cancer through a game. Its very easy and i would like all of you to participate. Last year we had to write the colour of our bra’s on our status. Men wondered for days what was going on with random colors on status’s. This year we make reference to our love life status as a flavor. Do not answer to this message just post corresponding word on your status and send this message privately to all the girls on your friends list. Blueberry is single, pineapple is its complicated, raspberry is I dont want to commit, apple is engaged, cherry is in a relationship, banana is married, avacado is I’m the better half, strawberry is can’t find mr right, lemon is I want to be single and raisin is I want to get married to my partner. Last time the bra game was mentioned on t.v let’s see if we can get there with this one. Please resend this to all your girly friends then update your status with your answer ONLY! DONT TELL ANY GUYS! I hope to see lots of fruit

I like fun and games as much as the next person, but really how does this promote breast cancer awareness?  Most of the statements have nothing to do with breast cancer (and are mostly obnoxious).  How does this get people to self-check? Or donate for research? Or support those who are living with it currently or have survived it?

My mother had breast cancer.  She was quite lucky in the grand scheme of things.  She found a lump in a self-check and told the doctor.  She was then sent for a mammogram and then had a lumpectomy to remove the mass and test to confirm that it was indeed cancer.  She went through a couple of months of radiation and that was it.  Other family, friends, and acquaintances haven’t been so lucky.

Be sure to check out Whispers Kill, Check Them Before You Wreck Them!!!

I don’t think I know a single person that hasn’t been impacted by cancer, breast cancer or otherwise.  Do you?  I personally know people who are currently battling cancer, who have multiple sclerosis (MS), muscular dystrophy (MD) and autism.  And that’s just the top of the list.  (BTW, if you haven’t heard the new numbers are out.  Autism now affects 1 in 68 children.  Horrifying!)

Now to be fair, participating in these little games is not indicative of what else you do to support issues that you’re passionate about in the rest of your life… participating in fundraisers, making donations, purchasing items that donate to your cause, boycotting items, etc.

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You don’t have to chain yourself to a fence at a nuclear reactor or march or be arrested to be an activist.  You just have to be involved and active.

Here are some links to get you started if you’re interested in donating, clicking on any of them will open a new page for that organization:

CLICK HERE  to read a great article from Just Give.org about how to help the homeless.  Remember that almost all organizations are always looking for volunteers.  Check out Volunteer Match.org to find volunteering opportunities in your neighborhood.

Don’t forget your local community needs your help too!  Libraries, homeless shelters, animal shelter, blood drives, various coat/clothing/food drives at area churches, food pantries are always looking for donations and volunteers.  Being active in your community helps to build a better place to live!

If you recall recent news, due to an incident in a Utah school, people have been donating money to local schools to pay unpaid lunch tabs to ensure that kids get to eat lunch.  How awesome is that?

So be proud, tell people what you’ve done and encourage them to do the same.  Remember, even if it’s the $2 you were going to spend for your morning coffee, it still helps!  Click that “other” box and fill out the amount.  No matter how much or how little you can help it will be appreciated.

Participate in breast cancer walks, MDA walks, blood drives, food drives or volunteer your time.  Check out my post called Reading is FUNdamental for another great idea for volunteerism!  Get your kids involved and teach them to care about their community.

Remember that there can be other rewards as well.  I knew a woman who volunteered at the local Y so she could have a family membership in return.  My daughter used to volunteer at a local stable during hippotherapy sessions; in exchange, volunteers were offered free riding time.  Our local science museum (COSI) trades membership for volunteer hours. If you complete the maximum amount of hours, you get lifetime family admission, which is also good at any reciprocal science center in the country.

Volunteering is also a great way to get on the job experience without having a paid job, a great way for the kids to start out before they start looking for paid work.  Throughout my high school years, I babysat for the blood mobile, babysat for a bowling alley during league play, assisted the leader of my sister’s Girl Scout troop and was an obedience instructor at our local canine club.

And the best part?  Activism makes you feel good about yourself and connected to the world around you!

So show off your passions, promote your causes, make people aware and care, tell them what you do and challenge them to join you.  Be an activist and help those causes that you’re passionate about, show those “slactivists” how it’s done.  Let them know it’s not enough to play silly games, they have to help.  Then post pictures, give dates of drives and ask your friends what they’re doing and see if they want to join you in the fun.

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie

P.S.  If there are any great causes that you are passionate about, leave me a message and I’ll be happy to add it to this list for others to see!

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The Quiet Hero

Despite Diagnosis McCain Returns to Senate Floor for Critical Debate and Subsequent Vote on Healthcare Bill

This is a man I respect and admire. He was not my choice for president but that had more to do with his running mate and his oppositions platform, but that had no bearing on my respect for him. To go through the hell he did as a tortured POW for several years, to take all that time healing both physically and as much as he could mentally, only to continue a life of service to this nation and its people…. That is someone to be admired and revered.

Not long ago I, like many of you, were watching the senate hearings and saw Senator McCain acting a bit out of character and became genuinely concerned, commenting to several people that I felt that something was wrong with him, he wasn’t acting right. The man is sharp as a tack and always on his game and he seemed almost sedated.

Then to hear about his health diagnosis just broke my heart. My prayers go to him and his family. His daughter was quoted that while they were all devastated with the news, the one who was calm and consoling everyone else was him.  That somehow doesn’t surprise me.

This man has once again been handed the shitty end of the stick in life and instead of immediately turning inward overwhelmed with what this means to him and his family and to spending whatever quality time he has to look forward to with his family, no that’s not his focus, not yet at least.   Instead, he’s returning to the floor to fight the good fight for the 23 million good, hard-working people of this nation who will not have the means to pay for treatment for a broken arm, their children’s vaccinations,  much less to pay for treatment for a cancer diagnosis like he has been.

Stop here and read that again, let that sink in.  Because it truly is mind-blowing to think about this in context.

How many of us would continue our duty and make it a continued priority in his situation? The answer is more than we realize. Maybe not because we want to or because we feel a higher calling or purpose, but because we have to. Yes, we take pride in our jobs and our contribution to our communities, but the fact of the matter is that millions of Americans get up and go to work each day, with pain, with a bleak prognosis, working 2 and 3 jobs, because we have to.  Because we have to pay the bills, put food on the table and keep a roof over our family’s heads.  And through all that, we hope that we can continue to have the medical care we need to make it through… another year, another month, another week, or just one day at a time because more than that is too much to bear.

I don’t use the word hero very often; as a matter of course, I find the word to be grossly overused.  However today I will say it here and mean it with every fiber of my being.  Senator John McCain is an American hero, his military service goes without saying, but for his unwavering service and dedication to his constituency, and his commitment to this great nation of ours.

I can only hope that his actions will humble and continue to inspire his co-workers to stand up for the people they have been sent to represent. Senator McCain is the man showing those in power and reminding all of us just how to make America great again.  It’s the word we’ve been looking for for a while now but it wasn’t in any of the sound bites.

“Make America great again” shouldn’t be a slogan or a brand, it’s an action and one that many of us have forgotten how to do or neglected to demand from our representatives. It’s done by standing up not just for those who stood in the polling lines for your party, but for all the people who should have representation.

The men and women who have been working to make America great again do so by reminding us of words and phrases describing what made the American people the greatest in the world… words like honor, loyalty, integrity, pride, work ethic, vision, community, melting pot.

It doesn’t have to be done on a battle field on the other side of the world for it to count. It can be done on the other side of the classroom or a coffee counter,  by donating or volunteering, by looking out for your neighbors, bartering for services, supporting local businesses, by showing pride in your community and making it a better place to be,  and not just in one place where everyone can, but in all areas of our lives, great and small.

To learn more about John McCain, click here.

Namaste` ~ Maggie ॐ

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prose – Original Art by Maggie Valera

I looked it up on Google Maps and the historic Stonewall Inn is just 7.1 miles from my childhood home. On my 3rd birthday in the summer of ’69, after I was well asleep in my bed the grown folks were enjoying a cold drink on a hot summer night, history was about to be changed forever.   A poorly planned police raid would be the catalyst that changed our world, kicking off the visibility of the LGBTQ civil rights movement.

What started as a 1 a.m. raid, grew exponentially as word got out and continued to grow throughout the day.  By the evening, June 28th, 1969 would be remembered forever as the day that Pride day was born and though the Stonewall riot was credited to transwomen Sylvia Rivera and Martha P. Johnson, it was only recognized as a “gay movement” for a very long time.

We thankfully as things have progressed, our Rainbow Tribe has expanded the recognition of who makes up our family and as being inclusive in Pride and the equality movement.  We are LGBTQIA -Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. And while yes, the word queer traditionally has been used only in derogatory connotations, the community has retaken the word for our own purpose as a catchall to make an inclusive reference to the community.

 See:  LGBTQ Terms and Definitions

Trans folks are anyone who doesn’t fully identify with their “assigned gender at birth” based on our visible genitalia. I say visible because many intersex children are born appearing as boys, but will, later on, be found to have female sex organs discovered.  Intersex is an umbrella term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.

Sadly, many parents opt to have their children surgically altered so that they don’t have to “explain” to others that their son is “different”.  Ironically it’s medically easier to have their son become their daughter, but of course, that leaves that awkward part for parents to explain that their child is beautiful, loved and a blessing.  Thankfully the trend is changing and parents are allowing their child to grow up, without being forcibly mutilated so they can decide how to proceed as they get older.

See:  What Is Intersex?

I identify as genderqueer/genderfluid. Genderqueer is the word describing someone who doesn’t fully identify as a girl/woman or boy/man. While I was born as a member of the female sex because of my plumbing and sex organs, I have never really identified as a girl. I was called a tomboy growing up and that didn’t sit right with me either and I knew I wasn’t a boy.

Genderfluid becomes even a bit more confusing because sometimes I feel very feminine, usually brought out by someone around me that is very masculine, other times I feel more masculine, I carry myself differently, my demeanor is more forward. Other times I’m just me… no discernible gender, just me.

What It Means When You Don’t Identify as a Girl or a Boy

We’ve all heard of people who feel that they are one gender trapped inside a body with the organs of the opposite sex. However, those of us in that gray area in the middle (and we are the majority in the trans community) have a really hard time figuring ourselves out feeling rather ambiguous and undefinable.

Find out more at It Gets Better.org

These are all new words to me, discovered just a few short years ago at the age of 47. This “label” did not confine me, it freed me. It allowed me to understand parts of myself, my identity, that just didn’t fit anywhere. I now know that I am not alone, and I am not different, I have a community of people who deal with the same things I do. Other people, and probably you know as well, finally have a means of identity.

Gender Variance Around the World Over Time

The best way that I have found to describe being transgender is the body is the sex, and the gender is the soul. And while many argue that “God doesn’t make mistakes”, the fact of the matter is that human bodies do. There is no rule that says that babies are born perfect. They are born with disease, deformities, and various other medical anomalies. That is the human body, it is ruled by science… the science of the genetics passed on to them, the science of their given environment during gestation, etc.

I’m sure that you have seen or met someone with physical issues from birth that leave a child handicapped in one way or another, but that child’s soul is intact. In their head, in their heart, in their smile and personality, you know they are an incredible person, regardless of their issues, or sometimes even in spite of their issue. This is no different.

We’ve all seen variations of the Freaky Friday movies.. It’s always mother and daughter, father and son, and in a favorite of mine starting George Burns, grandfather and grandson. It’s all good for a laugh, when they see their body as different and scream in the mirror, even when Tom Hanks was BIG!   A transgender person sees themselves in the mirror or in the shower the same way, as something very shocking that upsets them greatly, as something possibly deformed and very wrong… like waking up in the wrong body.  An image in the mirror or the shower, that does not match what their perception of how they feel they look.   This is where transgender folks struggle all the time, detesting and disgusted with their physical appearance that no diet or exercise can change.

Learn more about Gender Dysphoria

Hell, think of the kid in A Christmas Story, (“you’ll shoot your eye out!”) when he had to try on that humiliating bunny suit. An odd comparison I know, but surely one we all can identify with, having some moment in our past where we’ve been under the spotlight and bubbling over with anxiety, and feeling uncomfortably self-conscious. Now imagine what it would feel like to be born feeling that way about your body and appearance, without people getting to see or know you for who you are instead of how you look.

And when you try to shed some of those layers, to break free of the prison that confined and tortured you, then you deal with people spewing hate, vitriol, and even violence because you had the audacity to show your true self to them. And not just strangers and acquaintances, people who have been close friends, family members, living in a situation of constant bullying. People who should be supportive and mentoring turn into tormentors.  Parents should never be their child’s first bully, and should not emotional abuse or abandon their child. EVER.

The trans community has a 42% suicide rate, the numbers for self harm are staggering and transgender TEENS make up the make up a lion’s share of this country’s homeless population, left in abject poverty, drugs and both physical and sexual abuse.

It’s time to stop this. You can make a difference. Citizens shouldn’t just be celebrating pride of self and community for only one month a year, and they shouldn’t have to shed any signs of that celebration before traveling home to keep them from deal with harassment, assault, and possibly lose their life.

This country is supposed to be where “all men are created equal”, The Great Melting Pot, yet trans women are beaten and killed every day. We are Americans, we are one and we should all be recognizing that all citizens have the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, not just in the area of marriage equality, but in employment, housing, and just being living from day to day. We’re worried from day to day about what can happen to us from outside forces, so we need to band together and not target our own citizens.

Trans Lifeline   US: (877) 565-8860                       Canada: (877) 330-6366

The Trans Lifeline, they are a 24/7 hotline for transgender people in crisis, along with just learning more about about transgender people and related political issues.  And by all means check out some of the other top organizations that work tirelessly to support the queer community.  Consider a donation, a purchase or volunteering in your area!

10 Amazing LGBT Organizations 

Thanks for taking the time to read this and show you care.  Just learning more about the topic enables you to be a strong ally for friends, family and coworkers who are LGBTQIA.  I encourage you to share this with others.   No one can have too many friends or allies.

And to my family members of the LGBTQIA Rainbow Tribe, I love you and we’re going to do this, together.  Let me hear your voices below!

Namaste ~ Maggie ॐ

Before Pride: 13 People Talk About Being LGBTQ In The 1960s

Think You Know Who They Are?

You might want to take another look…

 

 

Homelessness does not discriminate. If you can help, please do. If you think you’re safe, check again and make sure.

 

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie