Thursday, September 25, 2014

On Domestic Abuse, Adrian Peterson, and Ray Rice

Last week, I was onLocal 4 Live in the D, and one of the topics was corporal punishment since Adrian Peterson has been in the news defending his child abuse allegations as corporal punishment.

When asked what I think about corporal punishment, I said that I do not agree with it; violence equals power.

As a mom, corporal punishment has never been an option for me.  I made a conscious decision to never use physical force to “teach” my child .  And I say “teach” becauseI think hitting only teaches kids to be afraid, and I do not want to use fear as a motivator.  Living in fear kind of does something detrimental to the human spirit, especially when the abuse happens with the very people who are supposed to protect you.  Self-esteem starts to chip away when you deal with issues of submission and trust.

Or the victims become the aggressors and the cycle continues.

The rebels who are able to find a thread of self-worth and build on it enough to exit the cycle are the lucky ones, but anyone who advocates for change has her own unique set of struggles.

My kids have pushed me to the edge of my frustration, but the dissonance of telling Nathan not to hit his sister as I am spanking him makes no sense.  I’m pretty sure that kind of mixed message will end up in thousands of dollars worth of therapy.

In the end, if I want to raise independent thinkers who practice impulse control and kindness, I have to set the example.  I am the adult. 

Rice and Peterson might have different views on domestic violence than I do, but then again, I am not part of NFL’s culture of infallible athletes.  I think when you have a culture that celebrates your abilities without making you accountable, very bad things can happen.  Obviously.

But it doesn’t just start when these men play professional ball.  I can remember in high school how some teachers tailored their tests so athletes could pass and play ball.

When I went to U of M Ann Arbor for my freshman year, young women doted on the football players.  I clearly remember these young women ironing the football players’ clothes while they played video games on their big screen TVs in their ginormous dorm rooms (which was kind of weird because I don’t ever being shown this deluxe dorm room on my student tour).

When I taught junior high, I remember athletes given preferential treatment and the unspoken pressure to make sure athletes had good enough grades to play.

So from a very early age, these athletes have an acute sense that the rules do not apply to them. 

These athletes have a golden ticket to a free (or deeply discounted) education.  They are given a chance to learn a new way of life, yet some still the buy into their infallibility

In a way, I guess these men are still victims.  I think the NFL exploits these men for what they bringing – money and lots of it – and do not care about making sure they are well-rounded, healthy individuals.  I mean, the NFL let them play even though they knew about the abuse . . .until social media made so much noise and Budweiser and other sponsors decided to publicly declare that the NFL needs to get a handle on this situation. 

Please do not misinterpret that I do not hold Rice and Peterson accountable for their actions; I most certainly do. It angers me to my core that someone thinks they are entitled to violate another human being, especially repeat offenders likePeterson

This system is broken, and the people who let this happen, like the NFL, are just as guilty for looking the other way.

Originally, I felt hopeless by reading all the media surrounding these cases, wondering if it could ever change. I mean, the NFL money is HUGE.

But then I would see hashtags pop up like #WhyIStayed and women talking about the deep, specific details of domestic abuse, things that were not often discussed publicly.  And I felt a glimmer of hope that maybe through these conversations, real change has a chance of happening.

What do you think about Rice, Peterson, and domestic abuse?  What do you think the role of the NFL should be?

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot On Domestic Abuse, Adrian Peterson, and Ray Rice

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Life You Want Weekend with Oprah

 This weekend I went to the Life You Want Weekend presented by Oprah Winfrey.  It was ah-mazing. Not like this pistachio froyo is amazing. Amazing as in empowering and validating.

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To be truthful, I really wanted to go because I wanted to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak. I said in my last blog post that I have been reading (and rereading) a lot self-discovery journey stories.

I have been dawn to them probably because I, myself, have been on my own journey of self -discovery, or as Elizabeth Gilbert called it, The Quest.  She detailed how there are certain elements that everyone will experience when she can no longer ignore her destiny.  First of all, there is The Threshold. Once one crosses over The Threshold, she can never go back to the way life was before.  Once the journey begins, it is not smooth sailing.  The person on the quest faces all kinds of hurdles: Self-doubt, doubt in faith, tricksters, enemies that are really friends.  It can be confusing and unsettling, but in the end, you get to live life as you were truly meant to live it.  That is a pretty amazing accomplishment.

I really needed to hear this.  My quest has been full of bumps and pitfalls, some of my own doing, some just collateral damage of going on a quest.  Thankfully, Elizabeth addressed this saying that she used to pray for her life to change, yet without making a mess.  She stated that this is pretty impossible, and I felt grateful for that bit of knowledge about The Quest.

But as Iyanla Vanzant said, "If you made it through the past, you passed. You don't need to pass with an A." She said that sometimes you pass with an F for faith.  I'll take it.

She also said, "Do not be loyal to things that are not good for you."  I needed to hear this because if you are going to commit to The Quest, you can’t hold on to your negative baggage.

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Such a simply concept to understand, but super hard to actually do.

Between what Iyanla and Elizabeth, I was overcome by sense of validation.  The Quest is not easy.  Letting go of drama and not being loyal to things that no longer serve you is not easy.

And that is OK.

I also walked away with the urge to practice mediation on a regular basis.  It seems that each of Oprah's trailblazers meditate.  It is hard to listen to the universe if you can't quiet the mind. So as of Monday, I will be meditating everyday.  I will tell you this; the first day was hard. So very hard. Hard as in I don't want to do it ever again.  Because I hate doing things that I'm not good at.  Oprah said that these icky feelings should not be viewed as negative; it should be viewed as information.  The information I gathered has led me to believe that I really need to practice meditation more often.

I am feeling grateful for this bright spot of inspiration.

Have you felt validated about something you are working on? Has anything inspired you lately?