Younique Foundation: A Haven

It has been a while since I have posted. I maintain blogs and write for other sites, making it difficult to find time to write for my own.  Alas, Irony.

Younique-Foundation-Logo-Large

Image belongs to the Younique Foundation.

However, I wanted to write about the Younique Foundation and their work at the Haven Retreat for woman traumatized by childhood sexual abuse.  If you have visited this site before, you know that I am passionate about women’s rights and about fighting sexual abuse whether institutionalized abuse, such as was experienced in the Laundries and mother and child homes, or in our everyday lives.  If you have read my book, The Diaphragm Blues, you know I was sexually abused as a child in more than one circumstance.

Although I had accepted that early childhood trauma was my normal, and the norm for several family members, what I did not realize was the impact this trauma had on my life and continues to have on my life.  Like many other victims of Sexual Abuse, I felt that acknowledging it and forgiving my attackers, because who wants to hold onto that hate, was enough.  It wasn’t.

For as long as I can remember, I have had panic disorder, anxiety disorder, and PTSD. After my divorce and my move to Hawaii, my symptoms got worse as I started to feel insecure and unsafe.  What I discovered through therapy and the Younique Foundation, was simply that I was wired to live in the fight or flight dynamic because of my childhood trauma.

When children are traumatized, sexual abuse or otherwise, the limbic system of our brain (which seeks survival, pain avoidance, and pleasure), stores and associates those trauma memories with our senses.  When trauma occurs, our limbic system stores these memories to protect us later from other potential threats. Later in life, survivors of trauma start to associate every day happens with danger, survival, and pain avoidance reactions that are connected to our memories of trauma experienced.  Thus, connections between the limbic and the neocortex (our rational brain) become hypersensitive to danger alerts in situations where no real danger is present (PTSD).  Childhood trauma is a bit different than trauma occurring in adulthood, because in childhood our brains are still developing, and these feedback loops, as I am now thinking of them, become programmed during brain development.

The science is complicated, but the Younique foundation does a good job breaking it down for the rest of us. You can read more about “Trauma and the Brain” on the Younique Foundation Resources, but there are scores of studies regarding the brain on trauma, and a bit of simple research offers a great deal of enlightenment on this topic. The key study for these findings originated with the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego.

But now I want to tell you a bit about the Younique Foundation.  I discovered them through my boyfriend’s sister who knew of someone who had attended the retreat.  The Younique Foundation is the love child of Younique, and the Dream of Shalane Maxfield.  Younique the company works to empower and validate women through the use of cosmetics, and helping women establish their own business.  Founded by Derek Maxfield (CEO) and his sister Melanie Huscroft (COO), Younique the makeup company was formed in the hopes that it would eventually fund the Foundation and heaven retreat, and so it is not an afterthought but the reason for Younique. I had the opportunity and privilege to meet Shalane Maxfield, Derek’s wife, at the end of my time at the retreat.  Her passion for helping women is one of pure altruism, and this is such a rare quality nowadays.

The Haven Retreat at Younique is free for women who apply and who were sexually abused before the age of 18.  Although you have to get yourself there, travel expenses, they handle the rest.  The Younique Foundation specializes in helping women understand their brains and why they may have certain coping behaviors, and why they rely on coping behaviors rather than healing. For myself, I discovered several coping behaviors and PTSD triggers that I was unaware of before. Haveing awareness of how your brain works, your actions and triggers is the first step in being able to confront and heal from a trauma that is literally embedded and programmed in your brain. Programming that can be changed.  That’s the key!

Awareness, in fact, is the first of 5 strategic steps in helping a survivor heal from trauma. The other measures include acknowledgment, power through surrender, mindfulness, and faith.

At this point, I feel I need to alleviate any potential worries about these steps in connection with religion. When I first read the steps, I was worried I might be entering some religious establishment wanting to save me from myself. Since some of my trauma happened in the Catholic Church, you can imagine how I was a skeptic.

This concern, however, was not the case. The Foundation bases all they do, the theory, information, and therapy on science and personal spirituality, which is not to be confused with institutional spirituality. If you are religious, no matter what path you are walking, that is fine. But it is also fine if you are not religious. The Foundation does explain how a connection to something larger than yourself is helpful in the healing process, but that something bigger than yourself can be science, the earth, nature, or God. The connection is what is important.

For me, the Foundation’s Haven Retreat was a life changer, hands down. In four days participants are exposed to some intense therapy, classes to help you understand yourself better and why you do what you do, the whys of the traumatized brain. Most importantly, participants receive tools for the road to health: resources, skills, new habits to create, and help for recovery and a successful life.

If you are a survivor of early childhood sexual assault and you are ready to make some positive changes in your life, apply. The process could not be simpler, and you will be provided with a safe environment to start your road to a happier life.

Diaphragm Blues at the Oahu Fringe Festival!

I am happy to announce that Singing the Diaphragm Blues has been selected for the Oahu Fringe Festival in February. Who can resist comedy, beaches, paradise and diaphragms all in one place!  In fact, these things mix very well together. I am also delighted to announce that Dale Westgaard will be directing again.  We have some challenges, as the show must be cut down to 60 minutes or less!  So, prep will begin in late October.

DESCRIPTION

Which of these statements are true? A) Babies come from pumpkin seeds. B) Diaphragms are slippery when wet. C) Women who use birth control are sluts. Written and performed by Rebecca Lea McCarthy, directed by Dale Westgaard, Singing the Diaphragm Blues is a compelling comedy-drama exploring these questions. This play offers a critical and humorous outlook on female sexuality, from childhood to menopause, and gender mythology, while sharing hilarious true to life experiences. Adapted from McCarthy’s 2012 book Writing the Diaphragm Blues and Other Sexual Cacophonies, this play invites you to think, celebrate and laugh with McCarthy as she presents a night of memoir, broad comedy, diaphragms and struggles with a wayward chicken. Rebecca Lea McCarthy was nominated in 2013 as lead actress for The South Sound’s Carvie Theatre Awards, Washington State, and she won a 2014 Po’okela Award for lead actress in TAG’s production of Resistance! She has a BFA in acting from Cornish College of the Arts, and a PhD in Comparative Studies from Florida Atlantic University. Dale Westgaard, a member of Actor’s Equity, holds a MFA in directing from Roosevelt University in Chicago, and he has directed for Roosevelt University, University of San Francisco, Backer University and several theatres throughout the Northwest.

An Open Letter about Feminism to My Brothers

Dear Brother,

My Dad encouraged me to speak out.  He was a feminist!

My Dad encouraged me to speak out. He was a feminist!

I write to you today because I realize how uncomfortable you have been of lately. The Third Wave of Feminism (as it is being dubbed) is blooming (and praise be for it), and you are hearing women speak out about rape cultures, feminism, wage inequality, and the fact that the glass ceiling has not, no matter what PR spinners wish to say, broken. And because of social media, this third wave of feminism is loud, louder then even the first or second wave of feminism.  Women have a large medium to play with and they are using it.  But,  I see your discomfort on Facebook, on Twitter, and other social media outlets.  Many of you are feeling attacked and I am deeply sorry for this.

Please do not feel we are attacking you! We are NOT! We are attacking a system.  Many of our brothers stand with us and also reject a system that objectifies women, promoting the idea of the female as a means to an end. Many of our brothers object to a rape culture.  But what we have to say may make you uncomfortable.  When I talk about my rape, I am NOT blaming you, unless you were the one who did it and trust me, I would not be FB friends with you if that was the case!

Rather, it is important to understand something my dear brother: for decades we were asked to be silent about sexual abuse, assault and gender inequality.  And if we weren’t silent, we were threatened or attacked. Every woman in my immediate family, and yes we have all been sexually assaulted and raped, were threatened for speaking out one way or another: threatened by our attacker and by society at large. You see, this is something you don’t talk about in good company.

Nicolas Mollet, Rape, Events.

It’s like politics or religion, keep your mouth shut. That was the standard. If you did speak out, even your family could punish you for your transgression. Police force, school officials, and other authorities in our culture told us to be quiet.  And if we weren’t quiet we were more often than not, blamed for our attacks. Just like we are often blamed for encouraging an environment in which cat calls are generated: “you asked for it because you dressed like a slut.”

1920s competition

But the idea of dressing like a slut has been so subjective throughout time, and yet it still haunts us women: we exposed our ankles, we were sluts. We exposed a bit of shoulder, we were sluts. We allowed our breasts to be held up in a bra, we were sluts. We took our bra off, we were sluts. We exposed our legs in hot weather, we were sluts. We wear yoga pants, covering our bare legs, we are sluts. You see, this attitude, over time, has bubbled in the cauldron.  And the Cauldron is about ready to explode.

But should you feel threatened by this? No, my dear brother. Not unless you are contributing to the culture, you should not feel threatened by it.  But sadly many of you do. I know because I’ve had conversations with you over Facebook, on twitter, and face-to-face. I have been told that we need to get rid of the word “feminism” because it means that we hate men and are actively into male bashing. What we hate, dear brother, is a disgusting cultural norm that must be revised, but we don’t hate you. Why should we hate our counterpart?

Mabel Capper and Suffragettes with Petition

Feminism was never defined by feminists as male bashing; a matter of fact, feminism defined as a way for women to bash her fellow male counterpart was created by people, men and women alike, who wanted the status quo of gender relationships to be maintained. Why?  One reason was economics.  Consider the recession of the 1970s, and the fact that women coming into the employment market threatened men who were losing their jobs. You see, not unlike today, a corporation could hire part-time female workers for a lot less money than they were charging their male counterparts. Hell, they could hire a woman full time and still pay her less for doing the exact same job as her male counterpart. As men were laid-off from their jobs, a new market niche open, one for women, and many families were desperate for those women to go in and take those part-time jobs. But this should not be understood as male bashing feminism. It was survival.

I don’t want to give you a history lesson, but I do want to encourage you to go out and get a history lesson about feminism, my dear brother. The thing is this, people were feeling threatened, and a PR campaign was created in proclaimed that only lesbians, and male haters, were said to be feminist. The good woman, rejected feminism. This is the same bullshit that we are seeing today with the #IDon’tNeedFeminism and #WomenAgainstFeminism movement that is occurring in reaction to the third wave of feminism. Yes, history is repeating itself. And the sad thing is, most of these men and women who are part of this movement, don’t understand what feminism is. They also don’t understand that they are acting against their own self interest by rejecting feminism.

Gender Equality

So what does feminism mean? It means simply this: that men and women enjoy equal rights. These equal rights are to be understood as being enjoyed in the political realm, the economic round, the social realm, in short – in life. Equality. We ask for no more. We don’t want to rise above man, we don’t want to smash man, we don’t want to be better than men. We want equality and we want justice. Equality does not exist between the sexes presently, and it cannot exist if we continue to encourage and and nurture a culture norm that sees women as objects. That’s the truth.

My dear brothers, please do not feel threatened by the stories that you are hearing women share about their rapes and sexual assaults, about the economic inequality that they are suffering, or the fact that they feel ignored in this world. They are not blaming “you;” that is, unless you have done something to be blamed for. Rather, they are blaming a cultural norm that has gone wrong, and they are asking you, dear brother, to stand with them. I am asking you to stand with me!  I need you!  I need your voice and your conviction.  I need you to be willing to question your assumptions about gender relationships. I need you to speak out when you have been treated badly as well. But above all, I need you to stand with me. I am not asking you to sit in the sidelines. Fight with us and help us make a better world.

Mahalo,
R

Google Glass and my new Pedego bike

Google Glass and my new Pedego bike

I wrote the following post to my students today about privacy, a surveillance society, embedded and invisible technology, and Google glass. Thought I would re-post it on my blog too.

This is not the best picture of me, but here I am wearing Google Glass with my new Pedego electric bike! Woot! The GPS function has really helped me find my way around the island without having to take my eyes off the road. But, here is a conversation I have a lot when wearing Google Glass:

Person: Are you recording me?

Me: No. Why, should I be? You doing anything YouTube worthy?

Person: haha. Doesn’t it record all the time?

Me: No, that would be a waste of battery, storage space and time 🙂

Person: but you can look up information about me, can’t you?

Me: sure, the same way I might Google you on the internet, but you would know because I have to talk to it! It does not have face recognition or anything like that. Let’s Google you, shall we? “…. OK Glass …. Google Person.”

Person: Wow, I see a light on it!

Me: Yep! It would be rather hard for me to do anything on Glass without you knowing – you would have to be not looking at me 🙂

End of Scene (and yes, I have had this conversation more times than I can count or remember).

Since before Google Glass came out, we were bombarded with articles about how Google Glass would invade our privacy. Companies jumped on the bandwagon to ban the device from their restaurants, see the 5 point Café, and there were lots of funny videos showing a man trying to scam pick up women using their Google glass. Of course, nobody knew what the hell they were talking about, and most people are still in the dark about the devise.

As we have learned in our textbook, what we need to be aware of is invisible technology and embedded technology. This is technology that is no longer on our radar because we don’t pay attention to it. Cameras on the street, being spied on at work, and so on and so forth. They are part of our everyday lives, like cell phones taking pictures here and there and everywhere.

Technology that we can’t see, or we simply ignore, that is what we should be worried about when it comes to surveillance, not technology like Google Glass. Google Glass is in your face and it can’t do anything more than your cell phone can do – and it does it more obviously. I have to give Google Glass verbal commands for it to work, although I can take a quick picture by taking my hand and pushing the button at the top of the glass. You will know if I am Googling you! You would not really know this if I was using my cell phone – I could do that in front of you, with a smile on my face, and you would not have a clue!

When it comes to voyeurism and invasion of privacy, be worried about the technology you cannot see, for example: a camera in a shoe. Here is a technology that has been around for years and years, and is being used ALL the time!

Although there are many lessons I want you to take away from this class, here is the lesson I really want you to take with you – the danger of embedded and invisible technology, ideology, and habits. Question what is not being said. Question what is not being seen. Question what is being left out of an article, a book, an argument and so on. The fact that it seems invisible, that’s what’s important. Technology and surveillance that you don’t know exists, or that becomes so every day that you don’t question it, you should be worried about that.

Think about it. I challenge you all to spend ONE day this weekend acknowledging all the recording devices you are exposed to: red light cameras, cameras in stores, all the time somebody takes a picture with a cell phone or portable camera, the use of cell phones, and so on and so forth. Be aware of the invisible technology in your life.

Rebecca

No, writing about how rape is wrong is not a rant!

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I am linking to a powerful blog post by Lauren Nelson, “So You’re Tired of Hearing About ‘Rape Culture’?”

Read this post by Lauren.

We must talk about rape culture, even if it makes us uncomfortable.  Someone called my discussion of rape and sexism in Writing The Diaphragm Blues and Other Sexual Cacophonies a rant.  It broke my heart to hear my book was a rant and to see that single star in the review.  But I realized that the politics in my book, my view on rape culture and victim blaming would strike some folks the wrong way.  That is the risk you take when you put yourself and your life out there for others to read and judge.

Then I realized, after some soul searching, my book was far from a pointless “rant,” rather it is a well supported war chant, with jokes thrown throughout for good measure, against rape culture, victim blaming, and misogynism.

At least most of Twitter get’s it right, read how the topic is trending now!

People today are complaining about the constant beat of rape culture literature, about how they are done hearing about it and “can you all just get off your soap boxes. please.” Rather, we are asked to just put up images of “grumpy cat” and other cute but weak memes for the sake of ignoring the truth, the critical reality of a culture that basically allows for victim blaming and rape.  The answer is NO. We should not stop talking about it until rape is considered unacceptable in all corners of the world, in all social structures.

I am a survivor of rape, of multiple rapes and I am sorry if you think I am ranting, but I am certainly NOT going to clam up.  We must all rise above and be better beings.  For those of us who just can’t bare to talk about this topic, who finds it a bore, a rant, and would rather ignore it, well … here is a nice image of grumpy cat for you, but by the look of this image, rape pisses Grumpy Cat off too 🙂

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And as my friend Amber always ends her rants: Good Day! 🙂

OMG Seriously, Google’s Glasses Won’t Destroy the World

Ever since Google announced in February they were going to choose a select number of people to test their Google glasses, +ProjectGlass, there’s been many blog posts and news stories about how Google Glasses will destroy our privacy, be used to scam women on dates, and spy on would be celebrities in cool but dive bars.

For example, the 5 Point Café in Seattle, Washington, one of my favorite hangouts, has declared their space a “No Google Glass Zone.” That’s right, you must leave your pair of Google Glasses at the door if you wish to enter this establishment. Why?  Well your blind date might just try to scam you using his Google Glasses: How Guys Will Use Google Glasses.

Then there’s the many news stories about how Google Glasses will destroy our privacy – I will point out a few of the more popular ones this afternoon:

Putting Google Glasse in Perspective

I have two words for you – technological determinism. Technological determinism puts forth the following premise: “a reductionist theory that presumes that a society’s technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values.”

Every since Plato ranted against the new technology of his time, writing, proclaiming loud and fiercely in the Phaedrus that it would destroy our ability to remember anything, technological determinism has had many a spokesperson.

But this barrage of negative press against Google Glasses, and pretty much any form of technology, misses the bigger point – the problem is us, not the technology. Where was all this negative press when cell phones came out with tiny little cameras? Indeed, the problem isn’t the technology it’s how we decide to use it – it’s also about our personal and social ethics.

What we should be worried about is the fact that people are willing to film us without our permission and put that film on YouTube, or other public video spaces.  Remember this lovely video of the girl texting and then falling into a fountain at the mall? Google glasses were not needed by the security people who edited and then uploaded this video – embarrassing the poor woman even further.

Or how about the drunk man in the convenience store? Here’s an oldie but a goodie – let’s make this man’s life a total living hell by posting our surveillance video on YouTube. Screw the man, he got drunk at 10AM, he deserved to be to have his actions broadcast without his permission, as one commenter suggested, rob2049:

The man put himself in that disposition, it may be sad, but there are much worse episodes in this world. Some comedy, is good for all of us, no matter what your view may be, it happened, and whats done is done, so enjoy!”

Next, Google Glasses were not needed to make this mass list of “upskirt” videos easily found on YouTube. Nope, all you need are some shoe cameras for this task.  These can be purchased quickly on Amazon or many other places on the internet.

5 Point Cafe, as Dmitry Maksimov recently commented on their website, will you also be banning cell phones? ipads. Tablets? Shoe Phone Cameras?

What we need to be concerned about is what we do with the technology we have, from writing to Google Glasses and beyond. This is an old argument – and goodness knows it’s one we’ve heard before. But the bottom line comes down to this: Google glasses will not destroy our privacy. We are destroying our privacy. We should ask permission before we take somebody’s picture – we should ask permission before we use someone’s image in order to advertise a product (this one’s for you Facebook).

We should also consider the fact that our society is becoming empathically hungry. Indeed, the above videos I pointed to demonstrate a lack of empathy – regarding both the woman who fell into the fountain, and the drunk man at the convenient store. The people who uploaded those videos did not consider how that woman and man might feel, or how that video might impact their lives.  No time was taken to consider the following: what if that was me? Would I want that video uploaded to YouTube for thousands of people to watch, laugh at, and remember for the rest of my life? No.

In the end we will determine what we decide to be public versus what we decide to be private content. Part of that determination is going to be how we decide to use the technology in our lives. Google glasses will not destroy privacy – we will destroy our own privacy. I hope to get a pair of Google Glasses, but if I start videotaping people, I will do what I do now: I will ask permission, especially if I intend to publish it anywhere!

But make no mistake about it, this is not new. From the moment humans started painting public spaces – the 1884 “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat, to the moment the camera became available, movie recordings, video recordings, instant polaroids, video cameras on our phones, and so on and so forth. Google glasses is not new, it’s just a new step in the ongoing evolution of technology.

 

Being Pleasant – What a Novel Idea

I’ve had a fantastic opportunity to be a part of a wonderful production that is opening this week: Harvey, produced by the Spotlight Players of Puyallup, Washington.

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This show has many memorable quotes, but most are delivered the lead character, Elwood P. Dowd:

“Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.”

 

“I always have a wonderful time, wherever I am, whomever I’m with.”

The line that strikes me the most is:

Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she’d say “In this world, Elwood, you can be oh so so smart, or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart… I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

Whenever I do a production, I walk away from that production with some sort of “lesson” or “personal truth.” You can’t spend that much time with another character without taking something away from the process. But this time, my take away is what I need to learn from another character: Dowd.

I started out being pleasant as a child, I became a “thinker,” and now I think I like to go out being pleasant. One can certainly be a pleasant thinker, and one can continue to think and be pleasant, but I really don’t want to be “oh so so smart.” It’s exhausting, and the smarter I think I am, the more I realize I don’t know a thing, not one darn thing …. not really.

So I started to think about what being pleasant met? And I’ve come to a few conclusions – this is the thinker in me, but hopefully not an “oh so so smart” thinker:

  • Being pleasant means being in the moment. Enjoying the moment. Engaging the moment. To be “oh so smart,” one must spend a lot of time thinking about the past, and projecting into the future. This can bring dissatisfaction, especially if the future doesn’t turn out the way hoped, or one spends too much time examining and reexamining the past.  I shall work on being present more …. not exclusively, but more.
  • Being pleasant means not over analyzing things. This one’s going to be a bitch for me. I’ve spent most of my life learning how to analyze and overanalyze – how to ask critical questions and look for what is not being said. These are all good skills, I think, but they also can take away from being in the moment, and thereby being pleasant.
  • Try not to fly off the handle at every little thing. Stress gets us all, and I find that it can get me pretty darn well. I can easily crash into that brick wall if I allow myself. I need to learn how to take things in stride, and be a bit more accepting. For myself, this means I need to start learning how to engage in meditation. I could use a lot of meditation.
  • Visualize beauty, happiness, joy. Being pleasant means that you are living in a pleasant/ happy space (one is rarely pleasant when then a pissed off) – to live in a happy space is to believe that you can live in a happy space – this links back to my need for meditation.
  • Do more plays, make more music, and art. I think this category speaks for itself.

How would you bring pleasantness into your life?

Oh …. yes … a plug for my show:

SHOW DATES:
Friday, March 8 at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 at 2:00 p.m. AND at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m.

LOCATION:              
Indoor Auditorium at Meridian Community Center
14422 Meridian E.
Puyallup, WA 98375
(located on Puyallup’s South Hill – across from the Walgreens on the corner of 144th & Meridian).

TICKETS:
Go to: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/323198
Or call 253-251-1930

Or purchase tickets at the door

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/284140915047905/

Rebecca

Female Population – Globally

In my last post I made a snarky comment that we should treat women and invest in women as if women made up half the population. It amazes me how we are often willing to dismiss half the population because of their sex (not gender – too many people confuse these two terms).

Regardless, I was curious if I was right, did women make up half the population?  Less than half?  More than half?  So I went to the Worldbank.org’s website and looked up the stats.  You can find the website here: Population, female (% of total) | Data | Table.

Here is the general scoop.  One can argue that generally women do indeed make up half the population.

Take a moment to compare those nations were women make up slightly more or slightly less of the population.  In general, the numbers fluctuate between 48% Countries like Afganistan and China, to 53% in countries like Armenia and 52% in Aruba.  The US ratio is at 50.7%.

But generally, yes … women make up half of the population.  A fact we would do well not to forget.

Rebecca