Yesterday I had the honor of co-hosting our 3rd annual Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month(SAAPM) 5k Color Run/Walk Event at Rickenbacker (Columbus), Ohio. This was a joint operation that involved four branches of services.
Reference my post: SAAPM 2018 for additional information about Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month.
This event was designed to bring awareness to sexual assault survivors, sexual harassment, and prevention/bystander intervention. I want to personally thank the victim advocates, chain of command, volunteers, the participants (100+), and most importantly, my friend and mentor, Captain J. Green (121 ARW SARC).
I can honestly say, the entire month was a huge success. The In Their Honor event on the 20th was truly unique, we had tons of participation for National Denim Day on the 25th. The culminating event was the 5k Color Run/Walk Event on the 27th of April.
Again, I want to thank everyone for this amazing journey and I am positive the 2019 events will be even better.
“We are the force behind the fight to achieve culture change.”
Note: The photo used for the cover is from the 2017 5k Color/Walk Run Event. The official photos have not been published, yet.
As a long-time Victim Advocate (VA) and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), I cannot begin to express how important this month is to the advocacy community. This is our opportunity to honor survivors and co-survivors of sexual assault, as well as victims of sexual harassment.
This field is extremely challenging due to the ongoing shift in our culture. But no matter what, we will not take our focus off the goal: eradicating sexual assault and sexual harassment. Yes, we realize this is an uphill battle. However, the obstacle is the path.
What are some obstacles?
Misconceptions or lack of education in dealing with consent. No, does not mean yes. Consent is ongoing. A “yes” five minutes ago does not translate to a “yes,” now.
Objectification of women and men, primarily in movies, music, and all social media platforms. (Sex sells…)
Stereotypes, to include ones that jeopardize the welfare of the LGBTQI community.
I will not lie, the fact that I’m a male Victim Advocate motivates me, daily. It motivates me to keep moving forward, every time I hear:
“But you’re a guy, why do you care?”
“Men don’t care about this issue.”
“All men are the same.”
“People will not take you serious.”
Although I respect people when they ask me these types of questions, I do remind them:
I care about people, regardless of their gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and beliefs. People are people and their story matters to me.
Men do in fact, care. So do women. People always have the capacity to love.
No, not all men are the same. There are some incredible men and women on this planet. We must not blame an entire gender, based on the negative actions of the bad ones. My mentors are both men and women.
“I don’t take you serious,” is an opinion, not your reality. The best way to demonstrate your authenticity is to show people. Talking about what you’re capable and willing to do, is not enough.
At the end of the day, the focus must always be on empowering survivors. The recovery process is a long road and they do not deserve to take that journey without the right resources. I hope you can participate in a SAAPM event. (Color run, In Their Honor, Denim Day, etc.)
I want to begin by thanking you for contributing to all of my experiences that have led me to this point in my life. Most importantly, I forgive you. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have said that. In fact, I would have cursed you. Why? Because I didn’t understand, nor did I grasp this magical thing called: gratitude.
Did I have a tough childhood? Absolutely. At the time, it was miserable. Everything is always perceived as bad, when you’re going through that storm. But, everything is just temporary.
“In life, you’re either headed to a storm, going through a storm, or you’re coming out of one. We all have problems.”
– Eric Thomas
Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was very difficult because there were a lot of racial issues (LA riots, O.J. Simpson trial, etc.), hatred toward the LGBTQ community (Ellen DeGeneres), sexual harassment issues (Clarence Thomas), murder on the streets of Las Vegas (2-Pac), the Branch Davidians tragedy in Waco, Texas (David Koresh), the Oklahoma City tragedy (Timothy McVeigh, which is tied to David Koresh), and other miscellaneous incidents. All of these things shaped me into the person that I am today.
Those negative experiences were the training that I needed. You read that right; I used the word training. That’s how our younger experiences should be categorized. These events and circumstances are what I needed in order to grow.
When I failed at something, that put me one step closer to succeeding. Every time a girl laughed at me and told me “No,” that prepared me for what I needed to do on my quest to meet my beautiful wife. Every time the bigger boy/man tried (or did) to bully me, that trained my mind how to utilize offensive and defensive postures, aka situational awareness. I needed that training.
When you’re younger, you don’t realize that events and experiences are giving you an advantage. Now, at age 39, I don’t worry about those things because I recognize:
Failure doesn’t define me.
If it takes 8 attempts, so be it.
Patience and consistent action are required with everything that I do.
If I can survive those things, I can survive whatever life throws at me.
I’m not afraid of embarrassing myself.
I can use my voice to help people that are too afraid to speak for themselves.
I’m comfortable in my own skin.
I don’t fall for the man card trap.
Those exeperiences contributed to me becoming:
A Service Member of 20+ years
A Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) and Victim Advocate
Someone that is against racial violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and violence toward the LGBTQ community.
Someone that fights for equality.
In conclusion: No, I don’t regret anything from my childhood. I am thankful that I experienced those things. Adversity – you didn’t win; I’m still standing. You made me a better person and I can’t thank you enough. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
I challenge you to try this exercise. This is an excellent way for you to forgive yourself, exercise gratitude, and to finally realize that your story is powerful and important. Every single person is a piece of the puzzle. From the janitor clear up the CEO. I can’t wait to hear about your journey.
How long will it take for you to realize your potential?
When will you finally act on those dreams of yours?
What if you would have applied for that job? What if you said “yes,” to that date? What if you got back up when things got difficult? What if you had stayed committed to your fitness plan?
“What if,” doesn’t exist because you never moved when it was required. “Oh but it’s not that easy.” I hate to break it to you but yes, it is that easy. All you have to do is decide.
Apply for that job even if you don’t believe you’re qualified. No one gets hired for not showing up.
Go on that date. She/he might but what you’ve been looking for. You’ll never find out if you’re hiding in your safe place.
Get back up and try again.
Push through your workout plan when you want to quit. You’re already in pain so you might as well get a reward for it.
If you’re going to ask “What if,” questions, make sure they are setting you up to win. You can ask this question constructively. For instance, What if you never read this? Would you still want to change the way you think?
The choice is up to. What are you going to do with the time you have left?
Are you serious about getting to the next chapter in your life? If so, what steps are you taking to ensure it happens? Here’s a tip: If you’re truly serious about your future, you need to start investing in the following things:
You have to use all available resources to keep yourself moving forward! If you don’t prepare yourself for the next level, how are you ever going to get there? Plus, it’s better to prepare for an opportunity and not have one then to have an opportunity and not be prepared.
“People don’t become successful just by accident.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger
“But it’s too hard,” is an excuse that will not get you to the next level. It is impossible for you to invest in yourself and not face adversity. It is part of the process.
Bottom line: Investing in yourself requires a new version of you, almost every day. You must learn to adapt to your environment. What’s your future worth to you?
Happy Monday! I can’t even lie, I absolutely love Monday’s! (reference: Happy Monday) This is the first (work) day for you to execute your morning rituals. Do you know that how youstartyour day will help determine your level of success? Be honest with yourself and answer this question: When you wake up in the morning, do you:
a) check e-mails
b) check text messages
c) check social media
d) focus on your morning goals and rituals
e) none of the above
If you answered a, b, or c, did this answer surprise you? Most people don’t realize it but, this is actually a very habit that you need to try and break as soon as possible.
Why? When you check e-mails, text messages, and social media, first thing in the morning, you switch on your reactive habits instead of your goal oriented habits.
“Oh, Bob sent me an e-mail about the upcoming conference, I better validate that everything is good to go.” Meanwhile, you just missed breakfast.
“I better respond to this text from Ashley, she probably wants to talk about last night’s crazy episode of that show.” Is this an emergency? Meanwhile, you were supposed to leave for the gym at 6:00am and you’re 20 minutes behind schedule.
“I wonder if Ryan posted those pictures from the Ohio State Buckeyes game, last night? He had some amazing seats. I better check Facebook, real quick.” If the pictures are posted, are they going to disappear in the upcoming hours? Remember when you wrote out your schedule for the day? Are those things still important? (reference: Setting Yourself up to Win | Make a Schedule)
I’m not saying that these things are not important. Staying connected with your family, friends, and employer are incredibly important. The problem is, you have to learn how to prioritize how you approach, aka attack, the day. When you start off your day, doing these things, you become reactive by allowing external things to dictate your day. Your schedule is pushed out of the way and these things become the new focus. Would it really hurt you to wait until 9:00 or 10:00am before you checked external things?
I get it though, it’s hard to break these habits because regardless if we like it or not, we’re a instant gratification society. If you want a new product, hop on Amazon and get it in 2 days. If you want to watch a tv show, forget about waiting week-to-week, stream the entire season on Netflix. If want to know what your friends are doing, send them a text and get a response in less than 45 seconds.
This is why so many people are programmed to check their phone (e-mails, text messages, and social media) when they first wake up. They do it because they know that they can get what they want, instantaneously. But consider this: does instant gratification help you reach your goals? I’ll answer for you – no, it does not. Achieving your goals requires:
Bottom line: Take control of your morning by giving yourself a few hours (example: wait until 9:00 or 10:00am) before you start addressing external things. If you have to, consider this a reward for you taking care of your morning rituals, aka setting yourself up to win. You can do this once you make the commitment and stick with it. Your future is worth it and you are worth it.
Face-to-face conversations are the most effective way to communicate and create growth. Text messaging and emailing are a way to communicate but not the most effective, because there’s no connection.
For example: If I told you, “Hey Michelle, that shirt looks very good on you,” would telling you via a text be as impactful as telling you face-to-face?
The answer is no because anyone can text that. Texting and emailing require noemotions and usually do not generate connection. All you have to do is just type and press send.
If you want to become a better communicator, have a face-to-face conversation, whenever it is possible. By doing so, it conveys: What you have to say, is important to me.
Having face-to-face conversations, also develop your communication skills, outside of your personal relationships. Just because we have multiple platforms such as: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, doesn’t mean we have to use them for every aspect of communication. “Sure I have time, Bob, pull up a chair and let’s talk,” demonstrates authenticity.
The hypothesis: To reach your goal, you must do the following things:
stay committed in the presence of adversity
adapt to your environment
exercise patience and consisted action
The reality: People quit due to the following reasons:
they experience short-term adversity
other people disapprove or question their goal or vision
they get distracted by their television or a social event
they focus on the amount of days required and not the process itself
they fail to identify their WHY
they stop holding themselves accountable for their shortfalls
they use the excuse, “This doesn’t work!”
How do they know if the hypothesis is true or false, if they’re not doing all the steps that are required? Even if takes 15 minutes, 1 year, or 20 years, it is still part of the process. People often ask, “How did that person become an overnight success?” What they don’t realize is, that overnight success actually took 20 years. Meaning, there’s not set timeline regardless of what it looks like from the outside.
“People are rewarded in public for what they’ve practiced for years, in private.” – Tony Robbins
Therefore, the hypothesis doesn’t need to be updated, your habits and train of thought, do.