From NOPE to YAAAS!

2016 has been rough. So when the calendar reminded me that I had to work on a Saturday, I wasn’t too psyched. It had been a long week, which was attached to a long month, at the end of an even longer year. But because of our partnership with Goodwill for our Refuse To Abuse 5k, I was scheduled to  give a talk at Goodwill’s Youth Aerospace Program about healthy relationships. So, even though my vibe was NOPE, that’s how I found myself driving up to Marysville on a Saturday at 7am.

As soon as I got there, I knew I was going to leave happier than I started. The room was full of young people and their parents, all of whom had come together to talk about healthy relationships and their hopes for the future. So that’s what we did.

We did In Their Shoes: Classroom Edition. I encouraged the parents to let the youth lead, and they did (even though it was sometimes hard). It was remarkable to watch the youth in the room take charge, make decisions, and go boldly forward. Each group walked through the story of one of six characters who experience unhealthy and violent relationships. And then we talked about it.

yaaass-horseYouth shared their perspectives and their desire to create new ways of doing things. Their parents listened and then shared their hopes and fears about letting go and standing beside their beloved teenagers as they enter into their first relationships. We talked about the things to look out for and the things to celebrate. And then we reminded each other to continue to ask questions, listen up, and stay connected no matter what.

There was so much love in the room that Saturday afternoon, my NOPE attitude turned into YAAAS! And as I look forward to 2017, I am heartened that although there is still a whole lot to feel down about, talking with young people about their relationships will always be a YAAAS!

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

How Men Can Help End Domestic Violence “It’s also our responsibility to talk about this issue and teach others what a healthy relationship looks like. It doesn’t matter how you start that conversation. What’s important is having the courage to do it.”

Argentina: hundreds of thousands of women set to protest against violence “This violence is trying to teach us a lesson, it wants to put us back in a traditional role into which we don’t fit any more,” says Cantabria. “It’s not a specific blow by a specific man against one woman in particular, it’s a message to all women to return to our stereotypical roles.”

Domestic Violence Shelters Are Turning Away LGBTQ Victims “Transgender women had a particularly tough time finding services that wouldn’t slam the door in their faces, but gay, bisexual, and transgender men also reported that domestic violence shelters for men rarely even exist.”

My plan for healthy relationships

This week we’re sharing a guest column from Henson Burk Fawcett that was also recently published in Sound Publishing community newspapers.

I am a six-grade Rainier Valley Little League baseball player and an aspiring sports journalist. I am interested in how sports shape people’s lives.

Kids look up to athletes. It’s not news. Everyone knows kids have idolized sports figures for generations. We memorize stats, and trade cards. Kids copy elite athletes. We practice their game day rituals—like pre-game dances, warm up traditions, a certain swing—just to be like the people we adore.

So what happens when athletes commit domestic violence? Does it tell a kid that hurting someone close to you is no big deal? Even okay?

Major League Baseball noticed that the sports world is failing to send the message to athletes and fans that family violence is unacceptable, and they want to do better. The MLB has established a new rule that says if you hurt your girlfriend, partner, or child, it will hurt your career. Recently, a MLB player was suspended for 30 games. It’s a big penalty, taking away 1/5 of a season. And it sends a big message to the players and to the kids too.

Watching sports the past couple years has shown us that being good at your relationships takes as much practice as being good at your game. When the MLB refuses to let any excuses go by, they give all of us a reason to start practicing to do our best on and off the field.

This year for my Bar Mitzvah project, I am talking to over 300 youth about healthy relationships. I am also asking kids to take a stand for positive relationships by running the Goodwill Refuse to Abuse 5K inside Safeco Field. It is a one-of-a-kind 5K through the ball park. I hope you join me at the 5K!

To find the domestic violence program in your community, visit wscadv.org or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

To raise money and awareness for domestic violence prevention, register today for the Goodwill Refuse To Abuse® 5K at Safeco Field at refusetoabuse5k.org.

It starts with love

Recently I have been recapturing my glory days. Around the time I had two kids under the age of five, my mom asked me how I was doing. While I felt like things were going pretty well―I love my family and my job―I found myself saying, “I am totally happy and grateful and all that jazz but I feel like I am treading water. I don’t know what I’m missing, but I am missing something.” A few days later she called and told that she wanted to buy me a membership at the local tennis club. I hadn’t even picked up a racquet in 15 years! I had all the excuses: I was too busy, it was too expensive, I would be terrible. But she persisted (mother knows best) and encouraged me to do it anyway. Well four years later I have reclaimed my youthful love for tennis (and trophies). As it turns out, it was just what I needed.

Tennis TrophyNow, I don’t spend all my time playing tennis of course. I also spend a lot of time thinking about relationships, and what it takes to make them work. It turns out that everything you ever wanted to learn about relationships, you can learn from tennis:

In tennis love means nothing (actually zero). It’s not that love isn’t important, it’s that that is the starting point for everything else. If you want to play, you’ve got to start with love.

Tennis is a sport where you have to actually win (or lose) the final point. Time doesn’t run out―you keep playing until it’s over. That means you have to be committed. You can’t just wait it out, you have to engage.

In tennis, you always have a chance to come back. Because time never runs out, you’ve always got a chance to make things right. You can start doing things differently. If your groundstrokes from the baseline aren’t working, come to the net more. If your powerful returns aren’t getting you going, try lobbing. Just like in relationships you can try something new/different.

Tennis is fun. Or it should be. If you’re not enjoying yourself, take a deep breath and remember what you love about it and try again. Relationships are the same deal. If you’re not feeling good about things, pause and remember the good stuff and see if you can get back there. And if you can’t, it’s ok to lay down your racquet and play another day.

I love what I’ve learned from tennis and am so appreciative that I have come back to it. It has reminded me of who I am (and want to be) at my core―a powerful woman who starts with love in everything I do.

Promoting healthy relationships, take the HR Test

In honor of Domestic Violence ACTION Month I’ve blogged all month about what it takes to end domestic violence. It is our view (at the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence) that to prevent violence we need to:

Address root causes of violence, Shift culture, Build Skills, Promote healthy relationships

Earlier this month I tackled root causes, shifting culture, and building skills. For our last week, I’m diving into promoting healthy relationships.

So I started thinking about what kinds of relationships I see when I’m watching TV or movies. I already notice when what I’m watching doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.

Dykes_to_Watch_Out_For_(Bechdel_test_origin)

It seems so simple and yet it’s amazing just how many movies DON’T pass it, even though it is a pathetically low bar. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a similar test for how relationships are portrayed in the media?

So, here it is, the HR* test (*Healthy Relationships):

To pass the HR test, a movie or TV show must at least have:

  1. Two characters that care about each other,
  2. where both people get to talk and have opinions,
  3. and they support and encourage each other’s interests and outside relationships.

Like the Bechdel test, this is a really low bar. There’s so much more that makes up a healthy relationship. How you talk to each other matters. How you listen to each other matters. But what if we started here? What shows would pass the test?

Vulnerabilidad (Vulnerability)

Me encanta el video de Brené Brown: El Poder de la Vulnerabilidad. Me pone a reflexionar en lo importante que es permitirse ser vulnerable y los beneficios que se reciben con ello. El cómo vivir cada día su exacto momento, sin tantas expectativas y sin tratar de controlar resultados. El sentir esta vulnerabilidad da cabida a su vez a sentir otras emociones.

Y cuando pienso en vulnerabilidad, pienso en mi role de ser madre, ¿cómo estoy educando a mi hijo de 6 años? ¿Le estoy permitiendo desenvolverse  y encontrar su propia personalidad, y desarrollar su individualidad? ¿Aceptarse tal cual es? de tal manera que vaya aprendiendo que los momentos donde él se sienta vulnerable y se permita ese sentimiento son aquellos momentos que le darán la oportunidad de ser imperfecto y aún así amarse.

Se imaginan si el supiera desde ahorita ser vulnerable como parte normal en su vida diaria, donde ser permita sentir lo que sienta, tristeza, alegría, enojo, en fin, todas las emociones y saberlas canalizar pero sin eliminarlas, ¡wow! ¡Creo que esta es la base para relacionarnos sanamente con otras personas en nuestra vida!

Ahora bien, si me miro en un espejo, ¿qué tanto de esa vulnerabilidad me permito sentir? No mucha si soy honesta, pero estoy empezando a dejarla fluir cada día y en cada momento que se presenta y sé que vale la penar amar y decir, te amo primero; que vale la pena arriesgarse por ese sueño aun cuando no traiga el resultado que espero; que vale la pena soñar y luchar por mi sueños aun cuando la vida los va moldeando de una manera diferente a lo que pensaba. Que ser madre y aprender junto con tu hijo que sentir nos hace fuertes, nos hace ser lo que somos.

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I love Brené Brown’s video The Power of Vulnerability. It makes me realize how important it is to allow myself to be vulnerable and the benefits that come with it. Living each day in the present without expectations and without trying to control everything—that vulnerability allows me to feel other emotions.

And when I think about vulnerability, I think about my role as a mother. How am I parenting my 6-year-old? Am I allowing him to find his own identity? Am I allowing him to develop his individuality and learn to accept himself as he is? I want him to learn that the moments where he feels vulnerable—if he allows himself to feel it—those will be the moments that will give him the opportunity to be imperfect and still love himself.

Imagine if he learns at this young age how to be vulnerable and makes it a normal part of his life, where he recognizes what he is feeling—sadness, joy, anger, and all the emotions—and knows how to accept them and to channel them without eliminating them…WOW! I believe this is the foundation to have healthy relationships in our life!

Now, if I look in a mirror, how much vulnerability have I allowed myself? Not much if I am honest, but I am starting to let it flow each day and in every moment that presents itself.  I know that it is worth it to be the first one to say “I love you.” I know that it is worth it to risk everything for a dream even when the result is not what I hoped for. I know it is worth it to dream and fight for my dreams even when life shapes them in a different way that what I had planned. And I know that it’s worth it to learn, along with my son, how to be vulnerable. It will make us strong, it will make us who we are.