Friday, March 18, 2011

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

There are a lot of worthy causes out there right now. I don't want to take away from any of them, because every one deserves our consideration.

But let me point out that sexual assault is something that affects every single one of us, whether we know it or not. One of of three women is sexually abused by the time she's a legal adult. One in three, people. I'm not saying they're all being raped - far from it. But does it make you feel better to think that one out of three of your female friends or loved ones has been sexually molested, been a victim of sexual harassment (yes, it happens in our public schools, too), or in some way sexually abused by the time she's 21?

And while the number of males who are sexually abused or assaulted is far lower, it still happens. There are sickos out there who will happily target boys, or who just don't care about the gender of their victims.

The physical damages heal rather quickly, but the emotional scars last for years. There are too many potentially serious consequences to list here.

But if you know three females, odds are that one of them either has or will be a victim. Ladies, if it's not two of your friends, is it you?

Please support activities that bring attention to this issue.

Walk A Mile In Her Shoes Marches - asks men to literally walk a mile in women's high-heeled shoes for pledges.

Denim Day - In 1999, the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction on the grounds that the victim was wearing jeans. They said that since it would be "impossible" to remove them if the victim was struggling, the victim must have assisted her attacker, which they felt implied consent.

These Hands Don't Hurt - mostly a student activity, where people sign a pledge that their hands will not hurt another person through sexual violence.

Teal Ribbon Campaign - if nothing else, this shows your support. It's not widely recognized, so when people ask it's a great way to introduce this very uncomfortable subject.

These are just a few of the activities you might see in your community this month.

IMPORTANT: For the entire month of April, Unchained is donating all profits to CASA, the Center Against Sexual Assault. We encourage other human service businesses to do the same.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring Cleaning - The Last Chapter

Step 4 - Commit yourself to 10 or 15 minutes a day tidying up. (This unfortunately doesn't include doing laundry or dishes!) Get your kids into this habit, too, and they'll always have a halfway presentable room.

If you focus on a different area each day, your house will get cleaned every week, just in stages. This means it's never more than a few days from a fresh cleaning, and you haven't spent an entire day exhausting yourself!

At the same time, rotate less-frequent cleaning tasks. Each week, spend an extra 5 to 10 minutes daily (or just knuckle down and spend an hour on the weekend) working on a certain area. For example, focus on your kitchen and dining room one week: get down and clean the baseboards, polish your wood table, clean under the stove-top, clean out the microwave, dust the windowsills, and so on. The next week, maybe tackle the family room: spot clean the carpet, clean the windows, and wash or dry-clean the slipcovers. These are the traditional Spring cleaning tasks, but you'll be doing them every 5 to 8 weeks as part of regular household maintenance. Spring cleaning just became ... history!

Step 5 - Ha! I told you there were only four steps. That was sneaky, wasn't it? Well, relax, there really are only four steps. Here's the thing, now that your house is in order and you're feeling a little more Zen about it all, it's time to go to work on other areas of your life, following the same steps.

Time management - weed out the "dead weight" time-wasters. There are always things we allow to suck up time that would be better spent elsewhere. Skip meetings if you can. Trim your email by unsubscribing to newsletters you never have time to read. Sports fans, you could watch the game, but ditch the pre- and post-game shows and gain an hour or more of free time on the weekends! Now organize your time more effectively. Plan ahead for major tasks and important events. Set your cell phone's calendar to remind you a week or so ahead of birthdays so you have time to get a card and mail it, for example. Finally, review your time management system every week or so. If you use a paper-based planner, remove old pages.

Relationships - still maintaining toxic relationships out of habit? Time to go NC, as we say in the mental health field. Treat the relationship as something that no longer fits or serves a purpose, and let it go. Yes, it really is that easy. If you can't quite bear to do that, evaluate what need of yours it's meeting, and consider simply putting less time into it. Go monthly instead of weekly, for example, and meet for lunch during the week instead of dinner on the weekend.

That life goal you keep saying you'll work on, but never quite get to - is it really what you want, or something you've been saying for so long you've talked yourself into believing it's what you want? Weed through your goals the same way you sorted through everything else. Keep what's good and useful for you, dump the rest. Then clean it up - determine what, when, and how - be specific and write it down. Now apply step 4 - commit yourself to working toward your achievement a little every day or at least every week at a regular time - schedule it in.

You see how the same steps work for nearly every aspect of your life? Evaluate, clean and/or repair, organize, and then sit back and maintain. And, enjoy your newfound free time!