Change Begins with One

 

 

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April is an exceptionally busy month in the world of criminal law. Not only does it hold National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, but it’s also Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. So for those of us who work in the criminal law arena, by the end of April, we’re all pretty much running on fumes. There’s not another month quite so exhausting, nor quite so satisfying and fulfilling. In fact, during that month, as difficult as it is, I’m pretty darn proud to be doing the work that I do.

The criminal justice system is called the criminal justice system for a reason–it’s justice for the criminal. When society thinks of the victim, it’s frequently not in a good way. Victim blaming and shaming has gotten out of control. When we’re silently thinking that the victim should have done something differently, was wearing the wrong thing, shouldn’t have been drinking–well, you get the picture–it’s blaming the victim.

The following two examples, while you may think to be a little silly, demonstrate how victim blaming happens:

Example #1: You’re house is burglarized and destroyed, your personal items trashed. Your door was unlocked and you have a nice welcome mat on your front porch. The police are called out to your house, but they respond with, “But your door was unlocked and you had a welcome mat outside your door. You invited this.”

Example #2: You’re in a diner having coffee with a friend and engaged in good conversation. The waitress asks if you would like more coffee. You tell her, yes, you would like more. You proceed to engage in conversation with her while she pours the coffee until it’s overflowing, dumping scalding hot coffee all over your lap. You jump up and complain, but the manager says, “I’m sorry, but you weren’t clear enough on when you wanted her to stop.”

Blaming the victim for what s/he was wearing, doing, saying, or NOT wearing, doing,  saying, takes the fault away from the perpetrator and places the blame on the victim.

Example #2 is not so far-fetched. Say a man or woman (yes, men can be sexually assaulted, too) gets carried away in the heat of the moment and their potentially willing partner changed his/her mind “mid-stream” and says, “NO, STOP”, whether verbally or non-verbally. Aggressors on many occasions have said it was too late–they couldn’t stop. Hmmm…If the pair are teenagers and the victim’s parents walk through the door, I bet the perpetrator would be able to stop in a hurry! Or if the victim’s six-foot-seven football star husband comes home unexpected, I bet activity would stop immediately and one of the two would make a beeline out the nearest window!

Denim Day (which is today) is a campaign that began after an Italian Supreme Court ruling overturned a rape conviction when the justices decided that since the victim’s jeans were tight she had to have helped the rapist remove them, implying consent. The next day Italian Parliament women went to work wearing jeans in support of the victim. Our office gives us the option to wear jeans every year on Denim Day. You can bet I have–and will continue to–wear mine loud and proud.

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From one who has been a victim of sexual assault and who works with victims of crime, I believe we can change the way society sees the big picture and to put the responsibility on the perpetrator instead of the blame on the victim. I truly believe we can! And as victims survivors of crime, we can rise above what has happened. Tragedy doesn’t have to beat us down or define us, but instead we can use it to shape and change the world in which we live. As a society, let’s change how we view crime and stop victim blaming. Change begins with just one. Won’t you be that one?

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. –Edward Everett Hale

And now I’m back off to Camp for the final burst of energy, finishing off Camp NaNo strong. See you on the other side.

Off to Camp

 

Writing Goals

 

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Nowhere does it say goals need to be set in January. In fact, it’s never too late to set goals. After all, today is the first day of the rest of your life. I spent some time this weekend reviewing my writing accomplishments from the past year and made some goals for 2019.

What I did in 2018:

  • Participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July, meeting my goal in both.
  • Participated in NaNoWriMo in November and won by completing 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days.
  • Entered into an agreement with a narrator through ACX, making my Melanie Hogan Series available as an audio book. Thus far Shear Madness and Shear Deception are available.
  • Attended the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver in September, spending three days fully immersed in all things writing.
  • Completed the first draft of book two, Abby’s Retribution, in the Whispering Pines mysteries.
  • Completed the first draft of book four, Shear Fear, in the Melanie Hogan mysteries.
  • Had a creative non-fiction essay chosen to be published in an anthology, Colorado’s Emerging Writers (2018).
  • Published book three in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Murder, on New Year’s Eve.

My goals for 2019:

  • Participate once again in Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July; and, once again, meeting my goal.
  • Participate once again in NaNoWriMo in November; and, once again, win by meeting the 50,000-word goal. (I have to admit this one gives me a bit of anxiety already.)
  • Attend the Northern Colorado Writers Conference in Ft. Collins, CO in May.
  • Complete the project of finishing books three and four in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Malice and Shear Murder, in audio.
  • Work on learning and implementing some marketing techniques. I’ve never been comfortable with marketing and it’s time to step out of my comfort zone and just do it.
  • Teach a four to six-week creative writing class to kids ages 12-17. I’ve got the agenda and the location planned. I just need to schedule it.
  • Submit a short story to the Colorado’s Emerging Writers 2019 anthology.
  • Revise, edit, and publish book two in the Whispering Pines mystery.

Whew! I’ve got some work ahead of me. Work that will require cutting down on TV time. Ready! Set! Go!

Do you have any writing goals for 2019? I’d love to hear what they are.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Jim Rohn

Rhonda Blackhurst

 

 

My One Word

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It’s that time again. Time for My One Word.

My One Word is a movement where you prayerfully choose one word to help narrow your focus for self-improvement. I don’t know about you, but a long list of resolutions is daunting. And quickly broken! Focusing on just one word and creatively applying that word, impacts your life in all areas.

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In the past I’ve found soothing stones with my word printed on them, jewelry, posters, and anything else that happens to fall into my path with my word.

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This year my word is Peace. The past year I’ve discovered that Peace can be mine, regardless of my surroundings or my circumstances. All it takes is mindful practice. More often than not, it’s turbulence from within, caused by undisciplined thoughts and actions, that robs me of peace. This year, to make the most of my word, changing my life in the direction I’m striving to go:

  • I’ve been diving deep into prayer and meditation (and already seeing results!).
  • Written great quotes about peace in my planner and my journal.
  •  Typed–and laminated–four Bible verses to commit to memory, among them:
    • Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
    • If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
  • I’ve signed up for an online Bible Study through FaithGateway. It’s based off the book Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose by Rebekah Lyons. It starts on January 20th and I’ve got my book and workbook all set and ready to go. 🙂
  • I’ve purchased the book Finding Peace by Charles Stanley and have been savoring each chapter I read.

And as the year progresses, I will take advantage of each life circumstance, both difficult and joyful, to practice peace. Because afterall, practice makes perfect, right?

Let’s talk:  If you participate in the My One Word movement, what is your word for the year. If you haven’t but are interested, it’s not too late. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. If you’re not interested, what is the one word you would choose if you did participate?

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. -St. Francis de Sales

Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace. -Dalai Lama

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. -John F. Kennedy

 

Lessons Learned in 2019

Thank you 2019 Hello 2020

2019 was a challenging year in many aspects, but the lessons learned make everything a gift. Top lessons learned in 2019:

  • Insecurity, lack of confidence, anger, resentment, and impatience are by-products of fear. Fear robs us of any kind of peace and contentment.
  • Others’ behaviors and criticisms can only affect us if we let them. Others’ opinions of us, or about what we do, are unimportant and fleeting.
  • What we don’t like in others is often what we don’t like in ourselves.
  • Each of us is enough, just as we are. We don’t need a good “review” or validation from anyone else to prove that. There is no need to compare or compete with anyone else. We are who we are. And each of us is enough.
  • Not to take a single second for granted. Each moment is a gift and wishing for the next one robs us from what is right now.
  • No matter how busy life gets, there is always time for what is important to us. It’s all about prioritizing.
  • Spending quality time with family & friends is one of the most healing, energizing, and healthy ways to spend your time, emotionally, physically, and mentally.
  • Perseverance builds strength & character. Walking through the tough times, instead of running from them, yields worthwhile results.
  • The biggest lessons and greatest peace come from the hardest trials.
  • Taking a time-out is healthy and okay.
  • Completing what needs to be done, even though we don’t want to, making the best of it anyway, is fulfilling and rewarding.
  • It is possible to balance family, a day job, a writing career, and live a Christian life. All it takes is mindfulness of how time is spent.
  • We can either focus on the problem or the blessings. Choose blessings.
  • Perseverance and mindfulness are beneficial in all areas of life.
  • Focusing on self too much creates dissatisfaction and discomfort.
  • Silence truly is golden. Talking too much in a conversation or thinking about your response when listening to someone else, robs both people. It’s okay not to talk unless you have something valuable to add. Talking just to “fill a gap” is usually harmful.
  • Fear doesn’t change the process or the outcome. It does, however, hurt productivity and the way we perform.
  • Gossip is toxic to the person being talked about, to the person doing the talking, and person talked to.
  • Pressing “pause” to fully nurture relationships that are important is one of the greatest blessings.
  • Not taking things personally makes life a whole lot more enjoyable!
  • We can’t change anyone else’s behaviors nor should we try. Others’ behaviors are not about you and me, and that realization is freeing!

Have you learned anything in 2019 that you will bring with you into 2020? Please share.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ―C. S. Lewis

 

Happy New Year!

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We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.      -Edith Lovejoy Pierce 

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives … not looking for flaws but for potential. -Ellen Goodman 

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! Cherish your time spent with family and friends!

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The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things.  -Thomas S. Monson

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.  -Andy Rooney

The Beauty of Winter

It’s already been a long winter here in Colorado. More cloudy days than we’re used to, not to mention more snow and cold. And winter isn’t even technically here yet! But it’s not all bad. We’ve had some of the most breathtaking scenery I’ve ever seen during a Colorado winter. And winter is the season of cinnamon, nutmeg, conversations in front of the fireplace, warm blankets, and candlelight. Grab a cup of hot cocoa or hot cider and enjoy.

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It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. 
–John Burroughs

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
–Edith Sitwell

So Much to be Grateful For

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Every year at work I create a gratitude poster. I hang it in the breakroom, provide a couple of Sharpie markers, and send out the expected office-wide email. I say “expected office-wide email” because I’ve been doing this for 10+ years.

I work at a District Attorney’s Office so we see a lot of heartbreaking, soul-ripping things that people do to one another. Secondary trauma is a very real thing.  So a little gratitude goes a long way in getting through the days in a healthy way. It helps to write down what we’re thankful for as well as read what others are thankful for. It changes one’s perspective. There have been numerous studies done on gratitude and the effect it has on the human mind. It’s one of the easiest and most inexpensive mental health treatments available. I’ve had a ton of positive feedback regarding this poster and we get a little bit of everything written down. Some of them make us laugh–which is therapeutic in itself–some make us ponder, and some warm our hearts. Below is an image of this year’s poster. Enjoy!

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Always grateful. Grateful always.

At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. – Albert Schweitzer

NaNoWriMo Success and the Path Forward

 

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NaNoWriMo 2019 was a huge success! I get so amped-up every year–like already in September–and then on the first day I get this “Oh, no!” feeling come over me. Once the first few pages are written, it’s the “I’ve got this” feeling. After week two and into the beginning of week three, it’s the “What in the heck did I ever commit to this for?” feeling. And after week three and into week four, it’s a flurry of flying fingers trying to get it done. Crossing the 50K mark is sheer exhilaration! So many emotions in one month!

The project I worked on is the first draft of book 7–and the final book–of the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Misfortune. Fifty thousand words doesn’t mean it’s complete yet, so I’ll continue writing daily until it’s done, but crossing that 50K mark was huge. The first draft of book 6, Shear Fear, is ready to be revised. And revised. And revised again. And the Christmas novella is also in the works.

But first–after completing the first draft of Shear Misfortune–is finalizing the revisions in book two of the Whispering Pines duology, Abby’s Retribution. The anticipated release is this spring. If all goes according to plan and, God willing, of course, 2020 should be a grand year in the writing life!

Happy Writing and Happy December!

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