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Just Breathe

breath1Recently I’ve felt like I never have enough time in the day. My to-do list is never ending, however, I typically throw in the towel around 10pm and start to get ready for bed (5:45 am comes early!) Most nights it’s hard to shut off my mind because I’m still thinking about all the things I need to do or what’s on the agenda tomorrow. There are many things in life that we simply cannot control. However, I recently came across an article that reminded me of one thing that I can control: my breath. I don’t know about you, but breathing isn’t something I often (if ever) think about–I just do it. I doubt I am breathing as deeply as I should and I know that breathing deeper leads to more oxygen to your brain and a string of other good things. So I tried the breathing technique that the article recommended and I will admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s simple. It’s quick. And it works (or maybe it’s just in my head…doesn’t matter either way)! It’s called 4-7-8. You simply inhale for 4 counts through your nose; then hold your breath for 7 counts; and finally exhale through your mouth for 8 counts. I cannot say that it made me fall asleep instantly as the author claimed in her article, but it definitely made me stop and focus solely one one thing for a few moments: my breath.

So many things are fighting for our attention at every moment and we rarely take time to simply just be.  Now, I’m not a yogi, but I have started to incorporate this little breathing technique into my day when I find myself feeling stressed and I always feel a little bit better after it. Maybe it’s because my brain is getting more oxygen, or maybe it’s because I’m simply saying no to all the other other stimuli around me for just a minute.

I find deep breathing to not only relax my body, but it also relaxes my mind. It gives me a chance to “inhale” all the blessings I have and a chance to “exhale” all the negative thoughts I have running around. We are our own worst critics. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves.  Yelled at your students today? Exhale. Ate 5 cookies in the break room? Exhale. Your bedroom is a complete disaster even though you just picked it up yesterday? Exhale.  And the list goes on and on. We can choose to inhale only the things that are good for us: You’re beautiful. You’re a good teacher. You’re trying your best. It’s not easy and it’s not something that comes naturally to most of us, but with some practice, I think we can make a habit. So if you’re like me and find your mind to be constantly racing, try the 4-7-8 method. You’ve got nothing to lose.

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-Emily Elizabeth

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Let’s Talk About Love

Dear Independent Strong-willed Sisters.

I am writing to you to talk about love. Yes I see your nose curl in disgust at the mere mention of that four letter word, but give me a minute to plead my case.

Let me start this out by telling you I understand your cynical views. There was a time not so long ago where I too said I did not need that frilly thing which they call love. No, I said, I am far too independent to ever tie myself down to someone else. (Can you imagine someone else always in your space, demanding things of you? Not for me!). I instead declared I would be single for life, surely that was the only way to remain happy and never ever be disappointed.

I get it. I understand. And let me tell you, I fought with tooth and nail to avoid love like the black plague I decided it was. I pushed and I shoved it away. I was mean and unloving.

But I lost.

The crazy thing is dear Sisters, is that a real love breaks through those pessimistic layers and that wall of cynicism you built around yourself. A real love makes you face yourself and see the real reasons that those walls were built in the first place and will love you anyway.

Now I know this may be hard to hear and I know you still may be rolling your eyes at me even now, believing I have been blinded by cupid’s arrow.

Maybe you are right.

b6134454def58bf77ade92252ec8af22But if being blind means having someone who thinks you are amazing even when your makeup is off, your glasses are on, and your retainer is in; who loves you when you are sick, when you are mean, when you are being unreasonable, or are just plain tired, well I think I don’t mind so much that I have been blinded.

And those fears I had the ones of losing my independence, or being annoyed with someone in my space… I tell you this now; the person who is worth your love will expand your independence and encourage you to grow beyond yourself. The person who is worth your love will understand when you need space and when you are lying and really need them to be close.

Dear sisters, I hope for you that you find what I found (even though I was avidly NOT looking for it). A man who is worth your love will not only be your significant other, but your best friend. That is what you deserve and that is what is worth waiting for.

(Gross so much love!)

Always,

-Samantha

Single and Ready to Bingo

All I want for Valentine’s Day is a man with Ryan Gosling’s chiseled abs, Channing Tatum’s dance moves, Brad Pitt’s jawline, Ed Sheeran’s voice, Jared Leto’s eyes, Bobby Moynihan’s humor, Patrick Dempsey’s hair, and ages like George Clooney. Is that really too much to ask?

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Apparently, not only is it too much to ask, but is also impossible for a 24 year old single girl who works second shift at a nursing home. Being single at a nursing home is one of the worst social experiences ever. Hearing everything from “You should settle down” to “Well who is going to take care of you when you’re my age?” to “A pretty girl like you? What’s wrong with you?”, I have come pretty close to wearing a fake engagement ring and photoshopping some celebrity into a photo with me and introducing him as my fiance just to avoid such unfortunate encounters.

So this Valentine’s Day, with nothing to look forward to but a good round of Candy Heart Bingo at work, I reflect on the 5 Stages of Being Single on V-Day:

1. I’m single as f***

Everyone but you is in a relationship, and you’re surrounded by lovesick idiots. Whether it’s roses and kisses and sappy love proclamations on Facebook or hand holding and gooey eyes on the streets, it feels like everyone around you is rubbing it in your face that you are completely single. Can you get any more single? Probably. The days surrounding this ill-fated holiday are saturated in red and pink and flowers, which to any single person are The Worst. As the day draws nearer and nearer you seem to get more and more single, can’t the day just be over now so you can stop wallowing in your complete aloneness. What are your Valentine’s Day plans, your friends ask. Wallowing in self pity you say.

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2. Everything is RED

It’s as if the world is out to get you. You can’t step out of the house without being reminded of how single you are. The hot topics at work involve what your Valentine’s Day plans, what your sweetheart has planned for you, and how awful it must be to be single, which turns your disbelief and skepticism into molten lava rage. You want to punch every heart shaped balloon and box of chocolates. And the monstrosity that is heart shaped pizzas?! I would prefer mine to be perfectly ordinarily circular please. As the day draws nearer you develop a personal vendetta against everything red and heart shaped. You can’t even enjoy your emojis anymore.

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3. Who Needs Love Anyways

What is today? February 14? Weird, must not have gotten the memo. Your anger and rage have dissipated into denial and blissful ignorance. I think I’ll stay in bed all day and wear sweatpants in honor of this hallowed day. Maybe eat my weight in chocolate and finally clean up my e-mail inbox. What is that you say, there are other fish in the sea? Well, I don’t particularly like fishing.

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4. Treat ‘Yo Self

You decide to take this day as your personal holiday: it’s all about you, girlfriend! Whether it’s a Galentine’s Day celebration with your gal pals, a spa day on your own, or a shopping spree, bank statements and calories don’t exist. The sky’s the limit, and you are pulling out all the stops. Things are beginning to look up, Valentine’s Day could be enjoyable. If couples can have a special day, you can too. Seize the day, bask in the love in the air. Embrace your singleness and OWN IT.

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5. Que Sera Sera

It’s the day of and your emotions are all over the place, but you’ve come to accept the fact that you will be spending the day alone. At this point you’ve come to terms with it all and have a sense of freedom: anything could happen now that you have no plans and no one to tie you down. You’re on cloud nine with no expectations for the day to let you down. Enjoy your freedom, this rollercoaster of emotions only comes once a year!

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Muses!

-Jen

Let’s Talk About Bodies

Let’s chat about bodily agency. Because apparently men and women everywhere are still unaware of the idea that a person has complete control over his or her body. It’s about time everyone understands what that means.

Untitled design (29)A couple months ago I was heading home from post-work drinks with coworkers. My walk back is roughly fifteen minutes and in a very safe area. I never think twice about walking alone. And, you know what? I absolutely shouldn’t have to.

Halfway through my walk, I came across a pub where a group of people were sitting outside. When I passed them, one man decided it was acceptable to slap my ass. The rest of his friends simply laughed along at the entertainment this guy was providing to the group. I was amazed at how strongly they exemplified what is wrong in our society.

I spent the rest of my walk home absolutely fuming. I felt violated and weak. Sure, it might appear to be a small incident in the large scheme of things but it meant I was not valued as a person. This man decided that my body was a free for all. The people around him agreed with his behavior and found it acceptable. I wasn’t a human being but instead a source of entertainment and simply an object.

I unashamedly ascribe to the label of feminist. I admire strong women and enjoy being a part of a group of females who support each other. I strive to constantly respect and value myself in a society that often does not do the same. So, “little” things like this incident are truly appalling to me. It made me feel I had no power. Regardless of all the steps I make in my own life, as a woman, my value is meaningless to society.

But it wasn’t only the men who didn’t see my value as a woman. The females in the group who sat there and laughed were completely inexcusable to me. Whether or not they realized it, these women were laughing along with the objectification of their own gender. There is absolutely no reason for a woman to excuse incidents like this as “just a joke”.  Honestly, I find it repulsive that a female would want to be friends with men who took part in degrading acts toward women.

b9332498a66eeace138d02fb1caffb62I’m sick of females who defend this type of behavior in their male friends. I’m tired of men who stress not ALL men would do the same thing. These excuses mean absolutely nothing to me. Until people accept that there is a devaluing of a woman’s body in society and strive to change this, they ARE a part of the problem.

It’s time for everyone to understand a woman’s body is her own. I should be able to walk alone without worrying about feeling violated and powerless. What is wrong with our society that a woman can’t walk home alone without experiencing harassment? People need to stop brushing off situations like this. There have to be strong steps toward complete bodily agency for all people. Maybe then women won’t have to feel powerless.

– Kelsey

Pics or it didn’t happen

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one Instagrams it, did it really happen?

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I’m definitely preaching to the choir here, but I think it’s high time to set the phone down and start living. I’ve always been a supporter of social media, I think there are so many amazing ways that it allows us to keep in contact with far away relatives, connect fans and celebrities, and promote amazing causes in ways that weren’t available a decade ago. The possibilities are limitless.

But this limitlessness is a double-edged sword. Social media slowly crept its way into every aspect of our lives, from where we eat, where we shop, where we go, to whom we spend our time with and even where we poop (Places I’ve Pooped), we have the ability of sharing just about anything we desire to social media outlets. And personally, I have nothing wrong with people being able to share anything they want on social media: it’s the beauty of freedom of speech. And if anyone’s proclamations of love or hate, political outbursts, or the sharing of very personal life events is at all bothersome to you, everyone has the ability to block, delete, or hide notifications from those they want to distance themselves from on the internet.

However, the control of social media on our offline lives has become a bit ridiculous. Smart phones have changed the way we experience everything: meal times include instagrams of food at restaurants or home. People are more worried about making their food look better than everyone else’s than they are about eating it before it get’s Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 8.54.21 PMcold. A recent Samsung commercial featured a young couple snapping photos at their child’s soccer game, but what I couldn’t get past was the fact that they were so worried about getting the perfect photo of their kid, that they weren’t even watching the game or cheering on their child. Social events, parties, and hanging out with friends now has more emphasis on taking photos to prove you were together on social media than actually forming connections.

"pics or it didn't happen": the motto of our social lives

“pics or it didn’t happen”: the motto of our social lives

Now, I’m not saying that I’m perfect and always put spending time with people above taking photos or that it’s wrong to take photos: I think it’s incredibly important to preserve the memories we’re forming with our friends and families, and social media is a great way to share this. I even am working on a 365 Photo Challenge where I take a photo every day for a year. This means I am on Facebook and snapping photos of myself, my friends and my surroundings at least once a day.

The issue that I do want to tackle is the emphasis on the “fake” lives we project onto social media. For many, it’s about making their lives look better, more fun and more glamorous than the next person’s page. How often do you check out your newsfeed and jealously swipe through someone else’s photos and wish you had been there or snapped a few more photos last weekend to prove that you were more social and fun? f9a5be830deed7db9fe61534ce10d080 (1)How often are you too busy trying to instagram a photo or upload one to Facebook that you miss the game winning shot or miss out on a friend’s story? I know that I am guilty of looking at people’s photos and wishing that I had been there or done that, or obliviously posting photos and not actually interacting with those around me.

The fact is, no one’s life is as perfect and glamorous as social media makes it out to be. Once you get past this and stop judging your life against someone else’s Facebook page, you’ll realize that yours can be just as fun and exciting if you just let it happen. So often we use our phones as a social buffer in situations where we don’t feel comfortable interacting or talking with people we don’t know, or are just plain bored. But if you just put yourself out there and start a conversation, you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to connect with people and have a good time. So set down your phone, close your laptop, and leave them both at home for the weekend: make memories, not megabytes!

-Jen

Preparing for Christmas

lights Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, many of us turn our attention to “the most wonderful time of the year.” The Christmas season is filled with many beautiful traditions that we’ve been doing since we were children–picking out a Christmas tree, baking cookies, wrapping gifts, and decorating the tree. Although these rituals remain the same year after year, it is good for us to take time to reflect and silence our hearts in this season of preparation.  If are intentional with our time leading up to Christmas, I think our joy on Christmas morning will be that much sweeter.  Here are a couple areas that we might think being more intentional about.

Christmas-Gifts3Gifts. I imagine that most of us are thinking about purchasing gifts for our family and friends.  Last year during my AmeriCorps service, I barely had any money so I decided that I was going to make all of my gifts.  Now I’m not the craftiest person out there, so I’m sure you can do it, too.  I realized that making my gifts made me really think about what I was giving and why.  I made homemade body scrubs, chocolate spoons, popcorn seasoning, and mustard just to name a few. Pinterest has something for everyone in your life, I promise.

advent1Faith. Many of us probably go to church with our families on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but we need not wait until then to prepare our hearts for the Lord. The Advent season is celebrated in most Christian churches in the month leading up to Christmas; many churches have concerts, penance services, and volunteer opportunities.  These are great ways to slow down in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle and take time for peace and quiet. If you’re looking for something more concrete, here’s a link to receive daily reflections for the season in your inbox or guided meditation from Ireland! (check out the relaxing music, too!)

So as we each prepare for Christmas in our own ways, I hope you’ll look at it like a journey over the next 25 days and savor every sip of hot cocoa, frosted cookie, and lit up houses as you pass by. And when Christmas morning comes, soak in the time with your family and friends and think about what Christmas really means to you. I think this video says it all :)

How do you prepare for Christmas? Let us know in the comments!

It’s a Winter Wonderland!

Winter is almost upon us and that means more time spent in doors…what a drag right?  Well it doesn’t have to be!  There are plenty of activities to do inside and events to go to keep you occupied when it’s way too cold to spend any time outside.  Don’t care if it’s too cold outside?  I have activities for the outdoors too!

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Every winter my number one thing to do is to go ice-skating.  The past couple years I haven’t, but I’m determined to make it one of the first things I do this winter.  Hit your local indoor or outdoor rink this year.  Don’t forget to check if you can rent skates.  I’ve gone to rinks where I had to have my own and didn’t know until I was there.  Afterwords, grab some hot chocolate!

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Go to hockey games!  Seriously.  The games don’t take nearly as long as football games and I think they’re way more exciting to watch.  It is a little chilly, so don’t forget your scarf and mittens.

pa0711_cin_rolls1.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeBake something gooey and delicious.  I suggest cinnamon rolls.  I don’t know about any of you, but anytime I eat one I end up getting frosting or yummy cinnamon gooey sauce on my face, so now I only eat this treat at home.  Oh and don’t forget the apple cider!  This treat can get sweet.

Not much of a baker?  Slice up some apples and have a caramel apple bar.  Melt some caramel and grab some of your favorite candy pieces and dip away! IMG_3411

Build a fort.  Some of you might be thinking that we’re all too old to do this, but I think not!  Build your very own couch cushion igloo with out freezing your butt off.

Go to concerts.  They can sometimes be expensive, so check out some local bands.  There can be some really great talent right in your home town.  They’re much less expensive and sometimes even free!Justice_in_concert

Check out a wine tasting or go to a brewery.  The Leinenkugls Brewery isn’t far from me and is definitely something that I’ve always wanted to go to.  Getting free samples is always awesome!

Host a movie night.  I don’t suggest watching anything scary.  You and your guests will be freaked out for a week!  You could even have every lay in your couch cushion igloo that you built earlier:)

Make decorations for the upcoming holidays.  Here are some really cute and easy ideas!

Check out what is going on in the surrounding towns.  They’re could be an awesome mustard museum you’re missing out on.   A mini road trip will be a nice break if you’re getting cabin fever.

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By now cabin fever has set in and you’re probably scratching at the windows to get outside.

Before you set out on your adventure outside layer up!  Because the first thing you’re going to do is build  a snowman and make a snow angel.  Having a friend with you makes it more fun and easier to do  these activities.  Building a snowman takes some muscle and you don’t want a hand print in your snow angel.  Remember to bring accessories for your snowman.  You want yours to be unique and stand out!a-christmas-story

After you finished building and accessorizing you’re snowman get all your friends together because you’re going to have a snowball fight.  If you need any tips watch Elf.  Buddy can make the perfect snow balls and has the perfect throwing technique.download

The next day go sledding!  I always used a saucer when I went sledding and hitting the jumps was always fun.  If you don’t like to go sledding anymore grab your snowboard or skis because you’re hitting the slopes!  And when you’re done go in the lodge and warm up in front of the fire.

Try snowshoeing.  I’ve only ever done it once when I was in grade school at a school field trip, but from what I can remember it was fun!  We played duck, duck, goose while wearing them and I remember trying to run and I fell.  I don’t suggest running in them unless you want a face full of snow.

See if there is any parks near you that the town decorates. In the town next to me they decorate a park full of lights, there are trees that are adorned with ornaments, little ginger bread houses, it’s so beautiful and magical.  My friends and I loved it when we went!

Decorate your house with twinkle lights, wreaths and any other fun Christmas decorations. (When it’s a little closer to Christmas).  It will get you in the holiday spirit.  Don’t forget to crank the Christmas music and have chocolate chip cookies and tea ready when you’re finished.ChristmasLights

Go to the Christmas parade.  Everyone puts so much work into the floats and every year I’m always surprised by people’s creativity.

I hope you have fun days in and keep warm on your days out!

What activities do you like to do in the winter?  Comment below!  We’re always looking for new things to try!

-Gabby

The (No-)Dog Days

Nick and I have been seriously thinking about getting a dog for the past two months, and, with our landlord’s blessing, starting looking about a month ago. The second, and subsequently most painful,  trip to the Humane Society started out innocently – a Friday evening, and we had both gotten home from work around 5pm so we made a quick run to the Humane Society before going out to dinner.

IMG_3029We walked in to Bark Alley and I immediately spotted a beautiful grey and white dog who was begging us to take her out. I looked at her nametag, Petunia, and noticed she did not have any pending applications. She didn’t bark, and as I knelt beside her, she struggled against the kennel wall to try and reach me. I needed to pet and play with this dog badly, but walked anxiously through the rest of the hallway to see the other dogs. Before Nick could give me any sort of an opinion, I was out the door talking to a volunteer to bring this beautiful dog to us so we could play with her.

We spent about an hour with her outside, the three of us looking at one another with questioning eyes wondering if we could live together. We were connecting to this dog and saw her in our future. I saw her walking with us, chewing on all of our stuff, cuddling with us, growing old… I wanted her, and when Nick asked her, “Do you want to come and be a part of our little family?”, I knew that he saw and wanted the same thing.

We excitedly filled out an adoption application and headed out for dinner. Our conversation was excited and light as we contemplated where she would stay when we would go home to Wisconsin, or who would take her out for morning and evening walks. I sent a picture of her to my family with exclamations of our excitement and love for this dog that we just met, and received worried messages in return, prompting me to look into whether or not we could realistically have this dog. Unfortunately for the three of us, Petunia was a pit bull; a breed highly discriminated against by landlords, insurance, and jeopardizing our future living prospects.

The more we researched, the more we found that we could not have her. The next morning, after we found out that we were approved for adoption, I retracted our application and we donated money on her behalf to the Humane Society. We were heartbroken.

IMG_2985I was so deliriously desperate for a dog, and I scoured the Humane Society website and Craigslist like I was searching for valuable treasure. I refreshed my page every 10 minutes, and then found a Yorkie Shih Tzu mix on Craigslist. I immediately reached out to the owner and, about nine hours later, we became owners of a 7 pound lady we named Aela.

I was uneasy about her immediately after meeting her, but thought I could get over myself and fall in love with her over time. “She’s the perfect dog for our lifestyle and apartment now! It’ll be fine!,” I told myself. This did not happen. Aela barked incessantly when left alone, and, with paper-thin walls in our apartment building, this was not an option. The second day we had her, I broke down in the morning, bawling and feeling incredibly overwhelmed by my ambiguity toward her and the amount of training and attention she needed. It was apparent that she had separation anxiety issues, and she would bark the entire time we were at work. I couldn’t do it, and Nick didn’t want to make me do it, so I reached out to her previous owner, and they bought her back.

We lost a little money and an apron (intricately damaged by the 7 pound Yorkie), learned the valuable lesson that we were not ready for just any dog. The desire for a dog has not gone away entirely, but it has been muffled after our brief canine experience. In my free time, I visit Petunia at the Humane Society, praying fervently that she has adoption applications in, and coming in to be disappointed. I don’t mind hanging out with her until she finds her forever home, but I do hope she finds it soon.

After we brought Aela back to her real family, Nick said to me, “This is the only time that it is just the two of us, you know. We are in the pre-pet, pre-anything stage, and I am really enjoying things the way they are.” It was the perfect way to center myself and realize how right he was. We will find our dog eventually and we will really be ready, but we don’t have to rush. I know there are many other couples and families in the same situation that we found ourselves in, but I can confidently reassure others, as I do with Nick and myself, that there are so many dogs out there looking for their forever homes, and you will find yours soon! Good luck!

Thank you for reading!
Elizabeth

Why Everyone Should Vote as a Woman Tomorrow.

In 2010 over 22 Million women did not vote in the midterm elections… they chose to sit out. – Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health

10407552_10152369788020685_55277326331614185_nTomorrow, November 4th marks the day to cast your votes in the midterm election. This piece will focus on Wisconsin; however, the topics of concern here are issues that are being addressed nationally and ones that you should be aware of no matter where you call home. My hope is that whether or not you agree with this piece, it will encourage you to vote.

SIDENOTE: Some quick notes on voting :

1. You do not need an ID to vote. While you may have heard something about a Voter ID Law requiring an ID to participate in voting, do not let that confuse you or deter you from voting; that law has been blocked by the Supreme Court.

2. In Wisconsin you can register to vote at your polling location ON election day. (if you have changed your address recently you may need to prove your address. This site shows you what you can bring for proof: http://www.cityofmadison.com/election/voter/voterRegister.cfm)

3. If you do not know where your polling place is check out this website: https://2014.votinginfoproject.org/

Now, the people who have only known me for a few years would be surprised to learn that politics was not always a topic that I found even remotely interesting. In fact, throughout my high school years the only time I batted an eyelash at anything political was when every four years two white men began to duke it out on my television screen.

A lot has changed since then. I am older, there are concerns I have about my past, present, and future that I found frustratingly tangled in politics in a way that I had never imagined possible, and… oh yeah the two white men have evolved to include men of more various shades, and *gasp* a woman! Ye,t despite this growing equality in the political playing field, I was ever more beginning to feel like my body was no more then a pawn in a game of chess to which two parties were vying for the crown.

It is quite a thing when you realize that because of the body you have been born into (or chose) you will be treated differently in society, but it is even more of slap in the face when you realize that because you are a woman politicians will be able to decide your access to health, if and how you receive sexual education, your future children’s education, and how much you will be payed compared to your male peers.

Health Care

ede9cfe9aa96d97cdabbc695b8ddb57cWomen’s ability to bare children have made their bodies a never ending hot topic of debate, but it may surprise you to see that while abortion is as always a hot topic of debate the effects of politics on women’s health care has a reach that goes well and beyond Roe v. Wade.

While I will not discuss my own views on abortion here,  I do think it is important to be aware of what government decisions have been made and how they effect your ability to health care.

1. Contraceptives

It is quite clear that male access to condoms is as simple as walking into must major stores, gas stations, or even grocery stores, but women’s access to female based contraception is not even close to comparable as many women can attest. Still thanks to the Affordable Care Act women have access to birth control and reproductive health care without co-pay or deductible . *There are some exceptions to this act* (Read the full law here.)

If you support the Affordable Health Care Act this could and should be a major voting issue for you, especially as a woman.

2. Closing Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood has gone through a lot of changes this year due to government policy. In 2013 perhaps, the most famous of these changes occurred; a law requiring women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds was passed, but there were other actions taken that ultimately has reduced women’s ability to access any of the services Planned Parenthood offers. Clinics which provide abortions were required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinics location and the budget of Planned Parenthood clinics has been cut by over $1 million dollars in funding . This has lead to 5 clinics in Wisconsin shutting down under the current administrations term.

Some people do not know that Planned Parenthood offers many other benefits to women’s health including, general health care, birth control, relationship support, body image support, gender and sexuality support, and STD testing to name a few. For some women this is their only access to health. For some women this is the only place they feel comfortable turning to when it comes to sexual education.

Once again, I will not weigh in on how I personally feel about the act of abortion; however, I still remember driving a friend to planned parent hood in high school in order to get the birth control pill and condoms. In lieu of sexual education and still at the age where talking to parents about sex was too weird, they were our aid to safe sex and healthy relationships.

For more information about Planned Parenthood click here.

Education

1. Sex Education

Raise your hand if you learned about sex and contraception in high school. I am guessing there are not that many hands. I know I for one would not be raising my hand high.

Yet, for those of you who have been out of the high school scene for a while, you may not be up to speed on current curriculum. In 2012 the Healthy Youth Act was repealed with a bill that promote abstinence only sexual education curriculum. Basically this means that any education about the “health benefits, side effects, and proper use of contraceptives” will no longer be taught in schools.

Now raise your hand if you plan on having sex someday.

It is hard to think about the staggering amount of youth that will be entering this very important stage in their lives where they begin to have serious relationships that will undoubtedly involve sexual acts at some point and realize that they are not knowledgeable about how to keep themselves both safe from STDS and free of unwanted pregnancies.

This is where I will say that I do believe that if we teach people about how to have safe sex, use contraceptives correctly, and have the contraceptives affordable and accessible, we would see a natural reduction in unwanted pregnancies.

Equal Pay

eeec14d727e3463a5029b5247099d9baIs there anyone who still truly believes that women should be payed less then men doing the same work?

Apparently, even in 2014 there are still a few.

In 2012 the Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act which protected women from salary discrimination in their workplace and gave them strength to bring such cases to court was repealed. In doing this Wisconsin descended the ranks nationally and became one of just five states without an equal pay law.

In Wisconsin, women earn 75 cents to every dollar their male counterpart earns. – Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health.

I don’t think I need to continue to belabor the point that generations of women haven been making. Women are people to and deserve to be treated and paid equally for performing a job to the same level as their male peers.

These are just three main issues that I as a woman, daughter, and future Wisconsin mother will be thinking about as I vote tomorrow. There are countless other issues that do effect you and I encourage you to learn about those. I also hope that you continue to educate yourselves about issues that directly effect women. You can start with the links provided below.

Finally, if you are a man, a son with a mother, a father with a daughter, a husband with a wife, or have a woman in life who you value perhaps you should take a moment and consider how you could use politics to make the world a place that appreciated her, and who she is physically as a woman, as a member of a society trying to grow in equality, and as a true individual as well.

“Be in the kitchen rather than on the menu” – WAWH

– Samantha Hersil

Educate Yourself

Current Wisconsin State Legislature: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/

Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH): http://wiawh.org/

More Issues and Legislation to be concerning your health care about according to Planned Parenthood: http://www.ppawi.org/issues/current-issues-legislation/current-issues-legislation.cmsx

A Chat About Bodily Agency

A few nights ago I was heading home from post-work drinks with coworkers. My walk back is roughly fifteen minutes and in a very safe area. I never think twice about walking alone. And, you know what? I absolutely shouldn’t have to.

Halfway through my walk, I came across a pub where a group of people was sitting outside. When I passed them, one young man decided it was acceptable to slap my ass. The rest of his friends simply laughed along at the entertainment this guy was providing to the group. I was amazed at how strongly they exemplified what is wrong in our patriarchal society.

I spent the rest of my walk home absolutely fuming. I felt violated and weak. Sure, it might appear to be a small incident in the large scheme of things but it meant I was not valued as a person. This man decided that my body was a free for all. The people around him agreed with his behavior and found it acceptable. I wasn’t a human being but instead a source of entertainment and simply an object.

I unashamedly ascribe to the label of feminist. I admire strong women and enjoy being a part of a group of females who support each other. I strive to constantly respect and value myself in a society that often does not do the same. So, “little” things like this incident are truly appalling to me. It made me feel I had no power. Regardless of all the steps I make in my own life, as a woman, my value is meaningless to society.

But it wasn’t only the men who didn’t see my value as a woman. The females in the group who sat there and laughed were completely inexcusable to me. Whether or not they realized it, these women were laughing along with the objectification of their own gender. There is absolutely no reason for a woman to excuse incidents like this as “just a joke”.  Honestly, I find it repulsive that a female would want to be friends with men who took part in the objectification of women.

I’m sick of females who defend this type of behavior in their male friends. I’m tired of men who stress not ALL men would do the same thing. These excuses mean absolutely nothing to me. Until people accept that there is a devaluing of a woman’s body in society and strive to change this, they ARE a part of the problem.

It’s time for everyone to understand a woman’s body is her own. I should be able to walk alone without worrying about feeling violated and powerless. Next time you see something similar happen, I urge you to think about what it truly means. Why is a woman’s body a source of entertainment? What is wrong with our society that a woman can’t walk home alone without experiencing harassment? People need to stop brushing off situations like this. We need to demand a societal change. There has to be strong steps toward complete bodily agency for all people. Maybe then women won’t have to feel powerless.

-Kelsey