Saturday, March 31, 2012

Help Victims of Human Trafficking, One Vinyasa at a Time

Journeys in Yoga has a commitment to SEVA (Community Service). Every Sunday, a "donation" class is held at noon; the students give whatever they want to give financially, and Journeys donates 100% of the proceeds to a selected charity. (Teachers vary Sunday to Sunday; you are welcomed whether you are a beginner, experienced, or somewhere in between.)

For the next five weeks, Journeys is donating proceeds from the Sunday noon class to the FSU Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, which provides free legal services to victims of human trafficking. In addition to legal services, the Center has found itself providing for other needs of trafficking victims, including helping them find work and housing, and facilitating reunification with their children.  Survivors of trafficking (at least those who cooperate with law enforcement) are entitled to permanent residency in the United States, but this road to residency is VERY expensive. Survivors must provide official translations of their birth certificates and other documents, obtain thorough medical examinations, and pay court fees.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It is "the sale, transport and profit from human beings who are forced to work for others. Against their will, millions of people around the world are forced to work for the profit of others, for example by begging, prostitution, involuntary servitude, working in sweatshops - even becoming child soldiers." (This definition is from this resource.) The United Nations has estimated that more than 2.4 million people are currently being exploited as victims of human trafficking (Read more from the UN here.) In Tallahassee, the survivors being helped by the Center were trafficked for sex and work.

In order to give you just a hint of the typical mindset of a trafficking victim, I have adapted material from The Campaign to Rescue and Restore Victims of Human Trafficking to present it from the perspective of a victim:

You are a young woman from Russia, the Ukraine, or Central Europe, promised marriage, a good job to be able to send money back home, and a better life, only to learn once you are in a foreign country, completely cut off from your support system and your family, that none of it is true.

You find yourself trapped in the sex industry, the service industry, in sweatshops or in agricultural fields – living daily with inhumane treatment, physical and mental abuse, and threats to yourself or your family back home.  You may not know what city or country you are in because you are moved frequently to escape detection. 

You fear or distrust the government and police because you are afraid of being deported or because you come from a country where law enforcement is corrupt and feared.  You may feel that it is your fault that you are in this situation. As a coping or survival skill, you may even develop loyalties and positive feelings toward your trafficker or try to protect them from authorities.

(For comprehensive information about Slavery, visit this website.)

Image Source:

Consider joining us at Journeys in Yoga Sundays at noon through the month of May to experience the peace that yoga brings while helping provide peace of mind to these women who are trying to rebuild their lives after trials that we can barely imagine.

If you can't come to the donation class but would still like to donate, please contact Vania Llovera, Assistant Director of the Center, at or 850/644-4551.

Journeys in Yoga is located at 111 South Magnolia Drive Suite 34 | Tallahassee, Florida 32311 and the phone number is  850.228.2223  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fingerprints Are Okay (A #TeenWeek 2012 Post)

Today is the last day of "Teen Week 2012." Teen Week: Words That Heal is, according to its creator, Medicinal Marzipan, an annual blog series that occurs the last week of March, where bloggers use their sites to speak out about their experiences with body image, sexuality, and self-esteem during their teen years."

Compared to most teenagers, I led a pretty straight-laced life. I was extremely involved in my Southern Baptist church, believed strongly that sex before marriage was a no-no, and was very conscious of trying not to sin, even though I was told repeatedly that I would be forgiven.

I don't know exactly what age I was when I went to church camp. I don't remember which friends I was there with or where exactly it was. But I do remember asking one of the counselors, in the midst of all the sin/forgiveness talk, about masturbation. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being absymal and 10 being off the charts perfect, I would give the counselor a 7 for how she handled the discussion. She wasn't shocked (it probably wasn't the first time she had gotten a personal question from an adolescent, guilt-ridden girl). That part was great - she talked to me calmly and rationally, and assured me I wasn't going to hell.

But she also gave me an article to read out of some magazine like "Christian Teens Today." The article addressed an adolescent girl's questions about masturbation. The takeaway was, "It's a natural thing that you'll be tempted to do. But think about it as the equivalent of a shiny gift. You are getting fingerprints all over that shiny gift. Would you want to give your future husband a shiny gift with fingerprints all over it?" Point being: keep yourself pristine for your future husband.

As a teenage girl in 2012, you may have already chosen to have sex. (By their 19th birthday, seven in 10 female and male teens have had intercourse, according to the Guttmacher Institute.) Choosing to have sex is giving your partner a gift, physically and emotionally.

But will "fingerprints" reduce the value of the "gift" when and if you get married? No. They're okay.

Note: For more information about Teen Week 2012 and a list of all the posts, click here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (#StyleMeMarch - Week Four Edition)

Week Four of the "#StyleMeMarch" challenge from Hilary Rushford of the Bow Ties and Bettys Style Blog had me digging deep -- into my closet and into my imagination.

Here's the entire month's plan:

Week four started last Wednesday with "so my city" day. We love our institutions of higher learning here in Tallahassee. I donned my garnet and gold, and topped off the day at boot camp climbing the stairs of Doak Campbell stadium over and over, reliving decades of FSU memories.

Thursday was "hair accessory" day. I didn't go out and buy anything new; I don't have a lot of "accessorizing" options for workday hair. But it was the perfect day to give an homage to the unsung hero of my active fitness life: the humble little "Effortless Beauty" headband.

I usually only wear one at a time, of course! But they keep the sweat and my bangs out of my eyes. They do their job, day in and day out, with little fanfare. So thanks, rainbow of knit headbands, for helping me stay fit (and for occasionally actually coordinating with my outfit).

Red Hills Cross Country Equestrian Course

On Friday, our theme was "your least expensive piece." Next to the number of run-related tshirts I own (enough to clothe a small army), I own a lot of Florida Healthy Kids and KidCare apparel. Here's one:

Saturday was "fresh faced" day; that was perfect since the day was a typically active one for me. It started with me lacing up my shoes for a 9.7K race (wearing one of the aforementioned coordinating headbands!):

and flowed* into yin yoga at Journeys in Yoga for Journeys's fifth birthday party:

Sunday was "saw on a style blog" day. The best I could do was to incorporate tangerine (or the closest I could get); I have been reading a lot about how tangerine is the "it" color this spring (here's one example):

Along the way I learned about other spring trends, and now I see them everywhere - peplums, huge florals, nude shoes.

Monday was "layer over/under a dress" day and that was another one that I found pretty difficult. None of my dresses and separates really lent themselves to layering, so I went with this dress/sweater combo.

When I read that today (Tuesday) would be "statement necklace" day, I knew immediately what I would choose. It may not make the biggest fashion statement, but I love this cross I bought in Guatemala last summer. I almost didn't get it -- as the trip wound down I was trying to conserve quetzals (Guatemalan currency) but I am so glad I made the relatively small splurge. I love it and it reminds me of the people I love, especially Silvia and Estela who we sponsor through CFCA.

I'd like to thank my coworkers for getting in on the "#StyleMeMarch" fun:

Beth's Hair Accessory

Beth's "Least Expensive Piece" Day
($5 tshirt/$6 overshirt)

Beth's Accessories for Least Expensive Day
(Handmade by a Young Friend!)

Beth's statement necklace (from Quarter Moon Imports
of Tallahassee).

 Karen's "Dollar Store" Socks for Least Expensive Day
($1 for 5 pair - Fifty Cents Per Sock!)

It has been a lot of fun playing with these clothes and accessories, and rediscovering a few neglected items stuck in the dark hinterlands of my closet, but hands down the best part has been sharing the #StyleMeMarch fun with my coworkers. Thanks ladies for playing along - we may not have big budgets but that doesn't mean we can't have big hopes for looking great!

*little yoga joke!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Seven Sentences to 25 Year Old Me

We learned this week that Wayne's current job is ending on Thursday, March 29. Although we knew the position was time-limited (scheduled to end after the legislative session concluded), I have been surprised by the emotional/anxiety quagmire I plunged right back into.

I thought at some point during my 6 mile trail run/race on Saturday, my brain would let go of the "what if's" and "how come's" and "there has to be a way out of this's." It didn't happen. An hour of yin yoga with live guitar helped me have a brief emotional/spiritual escape later that day. Seven and a half minutes (when you added it all up) of planks at core yoga today were so difficult they knocked it out of my mind through the sheer physical exertion.

To give a bit of the backstory, Wayne was informed in August of 2010 that his position was being downsized. The official end of his employment with the legislature was in November 2010. There has been sporadic independent work since then, some very promising job opportunities that fell through, and then over the last few months he was working in the legislative affairs office of a state agency (that position was always slated to end concurrently with session).

I guess if I had a private diary I could pour out my heart and really vent but my blog has become my diary, in a way, even though I apply a lot more filters to it than I would to something that would never see the light of day.

If you prefer "lighter" from me, come back on Wednesday for the latest update on "#stylememarch." (Week one is here, week two is here, and week three is here.)

I know it's impossible to go back and re-do history, and how each of us got to the point where we are today. As I was running Saturday morning, I was wondering how I could write about something so incredibly personal without it just being an emotion-dump or something that a potential employer of either Wayne or me would see as weakness. I decided maybe it would work to do a "seven sentences" statement that I would have told 25 year old me if I had the life experience I have now to go by.

As you enter the 2nd quarter century of your life, you need to face up to the ways in which you habitually defer to others who you perceive have more power than you. Being "nice" will smooth some social pathways for you but will also obscure your vision when you need to be blunt, with strangers, as well as with the people you love the most. Things that seem minor now can be the warning signs of ways in which you may "muck up" the bigger things. Paying attention to details can be interesting and informative; putting on a persona of "working hard" and being dedicated will help you make some progress professionally, but your aversion to strategy and your tendency to give the benefit of the doubt will make you "lose," and despite the "nice," the "methodical," and the "sincere" parts of you, you've gotta let your competitive side have some victories once in a while. And about money - make sure you learn to talk about it constructively, candidly, and realistically with your significant other; if the two of you have trouble figuring out what part of a weekend trip to put on credit and what to pay cash for, that model is going to repeat itself about much bigger things over the years, and will weigh you down in ways you can't yet understand. Through all of that, though, your tenacious determination to grasp the merest threads of hope that your faith has to offer will support you. Have those children you want so badly to have; even when you think you haven't done enough for them, listened well enough to their issues as they grow up, or given them the material things they need/want, they will know even when they can't acknowledge it that you love them for who they are, because you will have given them the best you have to give.


If you have made it this far, I appreciate you reading my seven sentences.

Whatever your particular belief systems are, I would appreciate your prayers and/or positive affirmations as we deal with this latest phase of "Adventures in Adjusting to Job Loss."

Cash would work too. {grin}


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Tip He Didn't Earn (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, handed me Mama Kat prompt number 3, a lie you told.
My inherent skepticism about whether customer service personnel will go out of their way on my behalf has cost me time, energy, and money over the years.

For example, my mother in law (who is blind) and I were at a department store here in Tallahassee many years ago. We were waiting for a haircut at the store's salon. My mother in law said, "I need a half slip. Will you please see if they will find me one to purchase?" I was hesitant to ask, but lo and behold (back in the days of Tallahassee Gayfers), the moment I told a staff person what we needed, she brought Barb a selection of slips, helped her choose, and completed the transaction without either of us having to lift a finger. It was part of their philosophy to help blind people that way.

Photo Credit:  Nuttakit

That same skepticism reared its head once when my boss and I were traveling together. The Orlando Airport Hyatt is attached to the airport. We arrived and went straight to a meeting or for some other reason did not pick our luggage up right away. When Rose said, "have them go down to baggage claim and pick up my luggage," I thought "why would the Hyatt go all that way to retrieve her luggage?" At this point I took her claim check and headed down to baggage claim myself. Baggage claim was a little reticent to give me her luggage, seeing as how I wasn't her (or, um, a Hyatt employee like she thought she had sent on the task!). (This was even before 9/11 but those Delta baggage claim people were pretty strict.) Eventually they relented.

As I was approaching her room, I started trying to figure out how to get the luggage to her without admitting I had not trusted the Hyatt process. So I caught a Hyatt employee just steps away from her room and asked him to deliver the baggage, explaining that she would think he had done the whole errand.

Of course she tipped him handsomely for his trouble.

And I was (not) caught (not) holding the bag.

Hope he appreciated that big fat tip for the ten-foot walk down the hall!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (#StyleMeMarch - Week Three Edition)

Week Three of the "#StyleMeMarch" challenge from Hilary Rushford of the Bow Ties and Bettys Style Blog is behind me, "sexy" and all.

As a reminder, here's each day's theme:

Week three started last Wednesday with "one of my oldest pieces" day. No problem. There's plenty of old stuff in my closet! But I had the unusual combination of a field trip with my son and a business meeting that day. I bought this jacket at Macy's in New York City, in 1991.

Lunch in the Capitol Courtyard
(It's a miracle that my son was wearing a polo, but that's a subject for a different post!)

Then followed what I consider one of the toughest challenges of #StyleMeMarch: "sexy" day.

This dress may not scream "sexy," but I feel good in it, and we all know feeling good in something is one of the keys to feeling sexy, right?

With "sexy" out of the way (phew!), I faced the challenge of "top knot hair" day. Top knot? With this inch of hair?! Fortunately, I had a hair appointment with Bonnie at Polished Effects that day. Bonnie has been doing my hair for a really long time, probably about fifteen years, so she always gives me "top 'knot'ch" hair.

I scheduled the haircut and style to coincide with "top knot" hair day but also with a day when I was going to see my friend Fred, who I haven't seen in over thirty years. He and his wife Marsha were at Disney celebrating their wedding anniversary, so we had a gathering of people from high school to celebrate.

Happy anniversary, Fred and Marsha!

And of course the irony is that I was happy to have a good hair day when I was seeing people I had not seen since the days of big hair and acne, but they are the kind of friends who really don't care about the hair; it was a gift just to be together.

After "top knot hair" day, it was o'sequins or o'sparkle day for St. Patrick's. Since I was traveling and didn't have super-big plans, I was stumped a little. I originally went with these green earrings (bought at the City Market in Charleston), thinking we wouldn't be going anywhere that would be dressy at all:

But our dinner outing ended up necessitating a step up from my denim crop pants so I was able to slip into the sparkly green shirt I had packed.

On Sunday, I had a 4.5 hour drive ahead of me to return from Palm Coast to Tallahassee, so comfort was key. Good thing it was "cozy" day!

I bought these black pants last summer when Tenley were preparing to go to Guatemala and ended up wearing them home on the plane. Turns out they are good traveling pants. The shirt is made of a super soft cotton and carries great memories of my run last September on Roosevelt Island for Women for Women International.

This pillow in the room where I was sleeping would not be denied being featured for cozy day. Fluffy = Cozy.

On Monday, I wondered what to do for "black and white" day. Most of the options involved a lot of black with highlights of white, but I experimented with an off-white dress, the black belt from Week Two, and a black jacket. It turned out really nicely!!

Last but not least, today was "colored eye shadow" day. I kept thinking of a friend from my Fordham days (late 80's) always saying, "you were wearing blue eye shadow when you interviewed." I always argued that it was actually silver maybe that wasn't that much better!

I went with purple today (a departure from my usual neutrals), and followed all the little directions on the package - where to put the "allover lid," where to put the contour, the crease, and the highlight.

 I was pretty pleased with the end result (and it wasn't 80's blue!):

Next up: "So 'my city'" day. Cue the Marching Chiefs for that one:

It's not too late to join! For a cool summary of #StyleMeMarch up till now, check out this blog.
And then take a peek in your closet with a fresh eye; you may be surprised what you'll find!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sustaining Sandra's Smile (A CFCA "Tell A Story" Post)

I have called you each by name
I love you and you are mine.
From "You are Mine" by David Haas

The child in this picture is Catarina (although she prefers to be called by her middle name, Sandra). I have volunteered to tell Sandra's story as part of the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging's "Tell a Story" campaign. I hope that someone who learns about Sandra it will either agree to sponsor her for $30 a month, tell her story to someone else, and/or pray for her.

Here are the basics:
  • Sandra is five years old (her birthday was on March 7)
  • She lives with her father, mother, and 2 year old brother
  • Sandra speaks Kiche
  • The family lives in one room, with adobe walls, dirt floors, and a corrugated metal roof
  • The family members sleep on wooden beds and cook on a firewood stove
(This image of a typical Guatemalan firewood stove
is from this blog.)

  • The family's approximate monthly income in US dollars is $60
  • Sandra's father plants black beans and Sandra's mother washes clothes for other people
(This picture of a Guatemalan black bean plant
 is from this blog.)

Sandra's profile from CFCA tells us that she likes to sing and play dolls. She is described as "very happy." I think her smile confirms that!

If you are not familiar with CFCA's sponsorship program, the $30 per month commitment helps families meet basic needs such as education,  nutrition and medical care. Sponsorship also provides the support and opportunities these families need to improve their life situations and provide a better future for their children. More than 94% of CFCA's expenses go toward program support. (More about financials here.)

For one sponsor's perspective, check out Tina Fisher's post, Heart Treasured Letter, about her family's experience sponsoring Ryan James from the Philippines. I love how she and her children find a special place to sit and savor Ryan James's letters. I am not so patient with our sponsored child's letters!!

I started this post off with an excerpt from the song "You Are Mine" by David Haas. When I was listening to that song during worship yesterday, Sandra and this post were very much on my mind and in my  heart. Other lines of that song say:

I am hope for all who are hopeless
I will be your light

Sandra and her family need the additional hope that a sponsorship gives. Please consider sponsoring her or shining a light on her situation by helping me spread the word!

Here's a sample tweet:

I am helping "Tell A Story" about Sandra, a 5 year old in Guatemala who needs help via @CFCA sponsorship. Contact @biggreenpen for details!

For more information:
My phone number: (850) 556-3517
My email:
CFCA email:
CFCA phone: 800.875.6564

Artwork by Estela, 6 years old, Guatemala
 (Tenley's Sponsored Child)

Note from Paula: It is possible that more than one person may contact CFCA about sponsoring Sandra or that a potential sponsor may really have their heart set on sponsoring a boy instead of a girl, a child from one of the 21 other countries served by CFCA, or an elderly person. Please know that CFCA has many sponsorship opportunities available and will be happy to work with you to select who you want to sponsor. You can get more details on that here.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fleeting Pop Fly Perfection! (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

Darn you, Kat, if I stay with your prompts long enough I just may work through all of my childhood issues. Like softball. Brought on by this week's prompt number 3, "assigned" me by Incorporate the following line into a poem of your own: catching air with my fingers (inspired by Buttered Toast Rocks).

Fleeting Pop Fly Perfection

Every day
Softball is PE and PE is Softball where I grew up
Get sent to right field
Pray ball goes to left field
Pray all pop flies go elsewhere
Anywhere but here
Stand in a "ready" position
Pray for once to be the "athletic" one instead of the "smart" one
Act enthusiastic on the outside
Cower on the inside

Until that fluke of a day
When it all suddenly makes sense
Something changes
I watch the ball from the moment of impact with the bat
      right into my glove!

It seems so simple, so elegant, so satisfying
It really is all about "keeping your eye on the ball"

Until the next day when the magic ends
The courage evaporates
Every other pop fly in the years and decades to come
Leaves me catching air with my fingers


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (#StyleMeMarch - Week Two Edition)

Week Two of the "#StyleMeMarch" challenge from Hilary Rushford of the Bow Ties and Bettys Style Blog is being hung up in the closet now.

As a reminder, here's the breakdown of what each day's theme is:

Week two started last Wednesday with "LBD to Work" day. The "B" had to be for blue in order for it to work for me. My "LBD" was a little (lot) dressy for work:

But this is the LBD...

...and I put a shell over it that goes with an entirely different suit. It's a great color of seafoam green. Not a perfect match with navy but it worked well enough:

With "LBD to work" day behind me, I moved on to the equally challenging and out-of-comfort-zoneish "tease that hair" day. This one involved a lot of "product" and a lot of forehead. One thing I did like about "tease that hair" day was the fact that it was International Women's Day and I was wearing a necklace made by Ugandan women and sold by Bead for Life.

For "stripes or dots" day on Friday, March 9, the first (but certainly not last) repeat item of the month appeared (the skirt I had worn on "Parisian Day"):

What on earth to do for "rock star" day on Saturday, March 10? I was participating in the Shamrock Scurry 5K that day, so I experimented with a St. Patrick's Day themed  "tattoo sleeve":

But it was a pain and I didn't want to run in it. So I tattooed (temporarily) something else:

Sunday saw me move from Ireland to France. It was "something borrowed" day and Tenley and I had an "Afternoon in Paris" women's luncheon with my mother-in-law, so Tenley loaned me her Eiffel Tower necklace.

On Monday, I walked in and my co-worker said, "Oh I see you are doing belt day!" People are sometimes more observant than you think! All of my belts were pretty boring so Goodwill came to the rescue:

Finally, to accent the final day of the (style) week, I needed my teenager's help for "dramatic eyeliner" day. The girl is a pro after all these years of "wings" as part of her dancer makeup. She applied liquid eyeliner on my top lid, and I filled out the rest with a darker pencil than I usually use. Great reaction when I walked onto the track for my weekly intervals workout tonight and one of my friends said, "Oh, did you get made up for track tonight?" It was a fun comment and led to another explanation of #stylememarch.

The spectrum of my eyeliner choices ranges from the usual (on the right - nothing!) to the modest one I have been using during #stylememarch to the pencil I used today after Tenley applied the "heavy artillery" liquid liner.

Yes, as a matter of fact I did wear this same shirt five days ago. Oops! Different jewelry each day though - maybe that mitigates the duplicativeness a bit.

Another week of #stylememarch behind me and a week ahead of digging deep in my limitless imagination to create something interesting out of my not-so-limitless closet.

Care to join me?