IMADTTO

I’ve mentioned a couple times (I think!) about the project proposal I was working on. If you’ll allow me, I’d like to introduce my project to ya’ll: IMADTTO!

My husband pronounces it “ah-muh-ditto” which makes me chuckle, but I pronounce it “I matter”. (If you say it with a southern accent it’s “I matt-uh” which is how I reached I matter.) Anyway, it’s based off of the story The Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley. I’m pretty sure I’ve shared the story before, but just in case, here’s a picture:

I Made A Difference To That One

I chose the acronym IMADTTO from the very last line. I Made A Difference To That One. This story is one of the ones I’d heard as a child, but the true value didn’t become apparent until I was older, but once I understood, it stuck with me always.

 

IMADTTO is my response to campus sexual assault. It is broken down into four parts: research, outreach, advocacy and education. And in order to execute all of those things, I have submitted my proposal to a newly founded President’s Prize through The Ohio State University. There are two rounds of applications. The first, I have completed-requiring a proposal, resume and application. The second will occur in October and will be the in-person presentation. And then I find out in December what the official verdict is. There will be two winners, who will be employed for 12 months by the university to actually *do* their project. So now that you know why I’ve been working on it, let’s talk about the actual project.

I said there were four parts, and that’s the truth. I’m going to break down those parts, and we can hopefully have some discussions about how they sound to ya’ll! I’m using pretty much quotes from my actual proposal, I’m just condensing it.

Research: A survey will be drafted to determine what students feel have been acceptable measure to prevent and address sexual violence at Ohio State. A portion will address which roads, areas and places students feel that they must exercise extra caution when utilizing. This step will also include data collection by means of determining a comprehensive list of resources available to sexual violence victims both on and off campus.

Outreach:This will encompass both a newsletter and a line of age-appropriate resources which cover body positivity and bodily safety for a broader age range of students.

Advocacy: Small groups of individuals (who wish to participate) come together on a monthly basis to maintain morale and to offer support to the other members of their groups. The members of these groups may offer support in many ways, be it conversational or in more tangible ways such as providing escorts for each other to and from work, making meals for one another on “trigger” days (times in which the well-being of an individual may be compromised because of associated trauma) or even going to a court date with one of the members, if a case was made of their attack.

Education: There are three sub-sections here: high school, collegiate and technological. The high school level involves guest speaking at high schools about body positivity in a question and answer format specifically focused on prevention of sexual violence as well as how to rise above body shaming. The college level will see the addition of an educational module in the required freshman course, using the information gathered from the survey. The technological level will involve a mobile application, as well as an accompanying website with the information from the survey, as well as plans for the outreach section, information about basic self-defense, the list of resources available and other invaluable information.

 

So that’s the basis for my proposal. I’ve been working on some of the specifics, and I have to say, although I’m very excited to have turned in that piece of work, I’m very ready to be able to present it in person, so the review board will see just how much passion I have for this project, and for my future.

So if anyone has any thoughts on my project, or what you think would be an excellent addition, I’m more than willing to consider ideas. I even made my own logo (with the help of a free logo creator!) I know it’s not the catchiest thing in the world, but it’s unique, and it means a lot to me. This logo might just end up on some shirts and stuff. I may do a fundraiser with it, in order to fund some of the untested rape kits in our state.

IMADTTO Logo

(This is my logo. I’m really proud of it.)

Advertisements

Falling

It is a rare (or perceived rare) circumstance that everything which needs to happen falls smoothly into place. I believed it would, and now it has begun. I desired a job (for some extra spending money-which we shall discuss soon), my husband desired a job (to feel more productive) and I desired my financial aid to be released so that I could go back and tell my boss at the department I could continue working (because I really like it there). I desired to find a place which would not cost an arm and a leg to live in, somewhere quiet, with lots of serenity, and I believe I have found it.

Do not get me wrong, all of this is wonderful. I am at ease that there are things going along in my life which have been much needed and are better for my future than the alternative. But I wonder if there are other people like me who reach this point in their lives-when everything is as it needs to be-and the panic sets in.

I cannot tell you how many times i have applied to a place of employment during an “up” period in my life only to find that when an interview is scheduled, there is a pit-of-the-stomach panic that tells me it’s an incredibly bad idea to go through with. A lot of doubt about the situation arises. What if something comes up? What if something bad happens? What if there is too much demand on me? What if…?

I know that it’s a mental game. I know it. And I know that I cannot pass by every chance I get. I know that once I get into a rhythm, everything sorts itself out-every. single. time. But it is getting to that point which is a period of great stress for me.

I just keep looking at the end goals, the things I want more than not and saying how lovely it is that I am able to work, that I can get a summer job out of desire, not out of necessity. I think part of the problem is that I’m beyond ready to move on with my education, with my life and I feel like hourly jobs are just reminding me that I’m not there yet. But it’s not a difficult job, and the people are all very friendly seeming. I just want to be at peace with my decisions for once.

Unconventional Letter

Dear Michelle,

Thank you.

Thank you for never giving up. And I know there were times you thought you had to, that there was no other choice. I remember all those nights spent alone, crying in the bathroom, hoping to end your pain with a razor blade. I remember the long days spent not eating, drinking only a cup of coffee in the morning because you felt like you might fall asleep in the middle of calculus if not, then rushing home to see if you’d lost more weight. I remember all of this, but most of all I remember how even though there were times you wanted to, you didn’t choose to die and instead, you chose to live.

Thank you for learning to open up again. After you graduated from high school, you tried to close yourself off, masking your feelings with words like “exhausted”, “the flu” and “allergies”. You kept everyone at arm’s length until you couldn’t take it anymore and you decided to make friends. I know that was hard for you, but I promise it’s paid off.  You’re about to find out that you actually love coffee dates with friends and trying new things.

Thank you for going off meds-even at the disapproval of your then boyfriend. He didn’t know you, you didn’t stay with him, and you really had to choose your own life for your own reasons. I know at that point, you didn’t even understand fully your diagnosis. I’m so proud of you for making your own way. I know in the future you’ll contemplate going back on medicine, and it’ll be hard, but if you don’t want to do something, don’t let the fear of consequences force you to make a decision.

Thank you card

Thank you for walking away from the poisonous relationships you tried so hard to save. You thought that if you just tried harder, loved more deeply, that you could fix them. But they weren’t the ones who needed fixing, and abusive relationships aren’t worth your time. Or effort. I’m so sorry you had to learn that the hard way. But you got past it with some ice cream and art. That was the first time you thought that you might be okay with being alone instead of being with someone who told you that you were always to blame, and that everything he did was to show you that you deserved no one better. You may have been brokenhearted, and it felt like your whole world was dying, but you left. You’re so brave.

Speaking of bravery, there will come a time in your life that you’ll wake up and be paralyzed with the fear of driving. We’ll work through it, and it will be hard for a long time, but please don’t give up. Living in the past, living with the memories of what “could have” happened is only going to hurt us in the long run. Yeah, this is one of those corny “hello, younger me” letters that we swore we’d never write, but I have so many things to thank you for.

Thanks for taking a chance and going out with that boy from high school that you thought was “too short”. You’ll drive each other crazy, but you have a strong marriage, and a lot of really hilarious dating stories that will get you through any disagreements you might have. You even got a dog (he acts more like a cat, and you’ll learn to love him). That boy will learn how to understand your moods, and even help you get through them.

Thank you for working so hard during your mood swings. No one requests to have bipolar disorder, but you’ve done remarkable things with it. You laid the foundation for such great things to happen for your future. But don’t think for a minute that it’s shameful to change your major when you get to college. It’s gonna drive you mad and you’ll feel so completely used up, but you’ll see that the greatest thing is going to happen once you walk through all the open doors. You’ll continue to struggle with food, but honestly, you’re going to love yourself more at the heaviest weight than you ever did when you struggled with your eating disorders. Just don’t go too far in the other direction, okay? Eating too much is bad too. Food isn’t a drug, it’s not meant to protect you from life.

I know that you know life is hard. But thanks for going back into counseling. In hindsight, you probably didn’t have to hide it, because you’re about to become exceptionally vocal about mental health and women’s rights. You aren’t stuck, you aren’t defective, and you most definitely aren’t finished. We have so much work ahead of us, and it’s all thanks to you.

You stuck it out when the world grew dark, when our mind waged wars against us and our heart got so heavy it might burst. You fought each and every day for life to be better, waiting for the day it all meant something. You kept going, even when everything screamed at you to just stop. I know my battles, our battles, don’t end with this little note. We have a whole life to live yet! And I know I didn’t say it then, but I’m saying it now. Thank you, baby girl. Thank you with my whole heart.

You got this, Shells. You don’t need anybody else’s approval, just go for it. You’re about to take your first step in an amazing adventure and you’ll be so surprised where it leads you. I know I am.

The sun will rise again, and so will you.

All my love,

M.

Thankfulness, Day Four

Today, I am thankful for nature.

I lived in the country almost my entire life, minus about a total of four years. Some of that time, I was only a baby and do not remember. I lived on my own for a year and now I live with my husband in the big, sprawling city. I have no complaints about my life so far, save the fact that I cannot enjoy nature they way I could when I did not live in the city.

Nature is this big, glorious thing. It’s filled with magick and mystery and wonder. In the morning, there is dew on the grass, which you mowed the day before. There are gravel roads which stretch on for miles, sometimes the dust kicks up when you drive too fast, or the weather has been too dry. Trees line the roads, like they did in old fairytale stories. The lazy days of summer can be handled with a little time in the creek. In the spring and fall, thunderstorms bring mudrunnin and dancig in the rain. 

In the spring, your world blossoms with green and white and pink, little shoots of crops tilting their head towards the sun. By the summer, whole fields of food are alive, catching the unforgiving warmth of the sun, the blissful cool of the rains. In fall, harvest begins and with it, the chance to see hay bales, mazes and hayrides. You’re greeted each day by the magnificent art that crosses your eye at every glance. And just when you think life can be no more beautiful, the first snowflakes dance lazily across your face.

Little cottonballs litter the browning ground, a little more each day. Sometimes the temperature warms and they disappear. Sometimes the temperature drops and you are left with little sheets of ice. But on those most special occasions, you awake to find you have inherited acres worth of diamonds. Your coffee feels a little happier, blankets a little warmer and your heart bursts at the prospects of getting outside to make snow angels.

The thing is, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nature is more than just seasons and weather patterns. It’s the coraking of bullfrogs late summer evenings. It’s the migration of butterflies in fall, along with the geese returning in spring. It’s each individual organism being alive and being recognized as sentient, beautiful creatures living in the same space we are. You can’t help but feel small and large all at the same time. And that’s why I’m thankful for nature.