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When I first read about the nail polish that the NC State students are developing to help detect date rape drugs, my initial thought wasn’t “Oh, this is great!” No – while the intention behind the potential product is a good one, it still perpetuates the number one problem with rape culture: It puts the responsibility of not getting attacked on the potential victims.

Look – I have no problem with the guys who are developing this product. They’re trying to raise awareness and that’s great. They want to help keep women safe. That’s fantastic. They want to deter the criminals – that’s a noble idea. On their Facebook page, they state that Through this nail polish and similar technologies, we hope to make potential perpetrators afraid to spike a woman’s drink because there’s now a risk that they can get caught. In effect, we want to shift the fear from the victims to the perpetrators.”

The issue is that products like these are, at times, the equivalent of putting our problems in the closet and hope that no one notices. It’s just the latest addition to the growing list of things that women need to do to prevent rape – along with getting married, wearing more clothing, and essentially to stop asking for it.

The conversation shouldn’t revolve around victim blaming and how the potential victims can protect themselves. The conversation needs to be around consent.

Though the intention behind these kind of products is inherently good, they become just one more way to blame the victim. I can see the commentary now. “If only she had remembered to wear her GHB detecting nail polish and swirled her finger in her drink – then she would’ve been safe. Never mind that she shouldn’t have been drinking in the first place. And did you see what she was wearing?”

Let’s get real, shall we?

“I think that anything that can help reduce sexual violence from happening is, in some ways, a really good thing,” Tracey Vitchers, the board chair for Students Active For Ending Rape(SAFER), told ThinkProgress. “But I think we need to think critically about why we keep placing the responsibility for preventing sexual assault on young women.”

The problem doesn’t end when a woman figures out that there’s a roofie in her drink. The problem ends when people stop putting roofies in our drinks in the first place.

consent-condoms-638x477Credit: Say It With a Condom

 

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By now, you’ve already seen and heard of the #IceBucketChallenge for ALS. It’s a viral campaign that picked up a lot of steam and there’s no arguing that it’s created a lot of awareness.

I’m all about awareness. I know that in today’s world, something going viral makes a lot of difference.

What I’m against is wasting clean water after the point has already been made.

I’ve been watching conversations, observing different people in my networks and they all have one thing in common: They want to raise awareness. They care about making a difference.

Here’s where the divide happens.

I’ve seen comments, on numerous conversation threads, where people have expressed that they didn’t even know that the #IceBucketChallenge had anything do to with ALS. Although numbers indicate that a lot of people are, in fact, donating money, the water being dumped shouldn’t be necessary.

Out of all the celebrities who took the #IceBucketChallenge, my favorite is Charlie Sheen. Instead of dumping water on his head, he dumped out the $10,000 he’s donating to the ALS Association. “Ice melts – money makes a difference,” he said.

I’ve also seen a lot of people take the challenge by making a donation to different charities, like Charity Water, UNICEF Tap Project, and the Thirst Project.  Do you have another cause that’s near and dear to your heart? If you’re tagged with the #IceBucketChallenge next, hold the ice and just make a donation. I promise it’ll still make an effective difference without wasting clean water.

Oh and in case you need a visual:

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 9.38.19 AM

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Image credit: California Department of Water Resources

 

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dead-poets-society-04

I was in my car when I read the news about Robin Williams passing away, which is appropriate since his words kept me company during so many hours spent in the car commuting to school and work. I automatically did what I always do and posted about it. But I think I was in shock. I don’t usually get affected by the death of celebrities. I mourn the loss of a human being, and great talent, sure, but never does it hit so close. Never do I get stunned, with a heavy feeling in my heart.

Today, I did. I am. I barely made it back home without crying.

While he’s known for his comedy and sharing his light with the world, I think of Robin Williams as John Keating from Dead Poets Society. He’s Patch Adams. He’s Chris Nielsen. He’s Adrian Cronauer. He didn’t just make me laugh. His words, whether through his characters or his own heart, inspired me to find my passion. Robin Williams had a huge, remarkable impact on who I am – from Mork to Simon Roberts.

I know that he’d been battling depression for years. I know that it’s possible that he took his own life. It’s a cruel reality that those who make our world brighter with their humor are often fighting their own dark demons behind the scenes. The pain of depression is real – the battles are real, and while it’s instinct to just say “Talk to someone,” it’s never that easy. When you’re drowning in your own pain, unable to see anything but darkness, reaching out can be the hardest thing to do.

So, if you’re fighting right now and you feel alone, reach out. Reach out to me, reach out to someone you love, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.

If you need the reminder that you’re not alone, this is it. You aren’t. Depression is a cruel liar. You are not alone. We all have our battles that we fight every day.

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

Rest in Peace, Robin. Thank you for sharing your light and love with the world. We won’t forget you.

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IMAG2987I made a bold declaration this week. I’m finally taking action toward becoming a digital nomad, so for my East Coast trip, I’ll be driving cross-country, spending a few weeks on the road while working. After my experience at World Domination Summit, a fire was lit inside of me that won’t die and I can’t stop it.

I know that becoming a digital nomad and traveling as much as I want to means living a more minimalist life. Believe it or not, I had no qualms about not having any furniture when I packed all of my belongings into my car and drove to Seattle 18 months ago. I appreciate things, but I don’t need them. I can jump in my car today and be happy with whatever I can fit in there.

With one exception. [click to continue…]

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World Domination Summit 2014I’m going to be very candid with you. I went into World Domination Summit with zero expectations. I hadn’t read Chris Guillebeau’s Brief Guide to World Domination. I didn’t know 95% of the people who were going to this and I didn’t look at the name of speakers. There were maybe a couple of people I knew I wanted to meet there, but even then, I wasn’t feeling pumped about trying to make plans happen.

I just wanted to let it happen. I thought, at most, I would meet a couple of new people, hear a few good speakers and that would be that. It was just a conference, right? How much could it really have an impact on my life?

I really thought I’d spend most of my time exploring Portland when I wasn’t in sessions. Kelly and I were supposed to leave Sunday around noon to come back home. So how is it that we stayed there until Monday night, and how could a conference I knew very little about change my life?

Very, very sneakily, it seems.

[click to continue…]

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I Love…Fridays: April 25

April 25, 2014

No matter how crazy and frustrating life can get, I always make an effort to see the silver lining and be obnoxiously positive. That’s why I did something called I Love…Fridays on my blog every week, but haven’t done so in the last few years when I needed it the most. Consider this a comeback […]

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The Memory Keeper’s Burden

April 14, 2014

Friends passing the volleyball around in the sun. Families having picnics, as the kids run around chasing bubbles. A friendly baseball game between families. Daisies peeking out in the sunshine. One of the girls running trips and falls, ripping her white tights. Her dad immediately swoops her up as her mom strips off the tights […]

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From the Archives: Bring on the Rain

April 7, 2014

(I originally wrote this post back in 2009.) Dear Mother Earth, I know we forget to appreciate you, a lot. We neglect the beautiful things about you, we forget to take care of you and the fact that we are guests in your home seem to slip our minds a lot. There are a lot […]

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On Turning 29

April 1, 2014

A year ago, on my birthday, I was alone. My birthday was on a Monday and I was hoping that some of my friends would still want to come out and say hi, but they didn’t. I thought it was a fluke. I thought that things would change. I spent the majority of my life […]

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My Impostor Syndrome Is Currently In Remission

March 10, 2014

My fascination with clouds and the stars began long before Instagram filters and #cloudporn. Before I started working at 16 years old, I would make my parents buy me disposable cameras, and when we developed the pictures, 75% of them would be clouds and the sky. To this day, when I go through old pictures, […]

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