Friday, October 23, 2015

{Friday Refresh} A new beginning

I posted the first Friday ReFresh post almost one year ago with the intention of showing updates of our home remodel. Then our remodel kind of stalled, or at least it is going much slower than I had anticipated or hoped. It turns out that having a toddler in the house is not very conducive to things like redoing floors, painting, or completely gutting the only bathroom with a bathtub. Luckily we were able to get quite a bit of the work done before we moved, including replacing the ductwork, repairing the drywall, painting, etc. However, we still have so much more to do. My hope of a series dedicated to home reno projects seemed to have floated away like a kite without a string. Then I began thinking about all of the different ways to refresh. You can refresh yourself, your wardrobe, a piece of furniture, a routine, a perspective...the list goes on.

So the Friday ReFresh is officially reinstated, just no longer limited to home remodel projects. I love a good before and after and I look forward to coming up with weekly ways to refresh my mind, home, wardrobe, decor, and even my blog. I hope you will come back next week for a post that will be about refreshing my workspace.

What would you like to refresh? Is there anything in particular you would like me to address in this series? I really would appreciate your input on this endeavor. It can be anything! I will try my best to use your replies in a Friday ReFresh post.

(Sharing at Idea Box Thursday)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fall Adventures {So Far}

There is a lot to be said for fall in the Ozarks. I would go as far as to say that the Ozarks are never as beautiful as they are in the fall. It's already well established that fall is my favorite, but I think that many would agree that we hit the jackpot when fall comes to the Ozarks. Cool, crisp weather, bright blue skies, and a rush of color that hits you in the face and makes you hold your breath. Fall in the Ozarks is also full of lots and lots of fun activities and events. We've hit up a few of those already, including the Arkansas Apple Festival in Lincoln, Arkansas, and the Hollister Grape and Fall Festival in Hollister, MO.

This was our second year to attend the Arkansas Apple Festival, and this year we made it early enough to see the parade. Tractor after tractor caught Young Master Gray's eye, but the excitement wore him completely out! He didn't stay awake long enough to sit on one, but we took this photo to show him when he woke up. Just like last year, we made a stop at Apple Town on the way in to check out their selection of fresh apples, cider and canned jams, jellies, pickles and more. Last year the pumpkins were the draw for Young Master Gray, but this year he was taken by the large wheel that he could easily spin.

After we took in the festival, we drove around Washington County with Jeremy's mom as our guide, showing us different places relatives had lived, worked and played. Our drive eventually brought us to Siloam Springs where we had lunch at Sweetwater Tavern, the restaurant inside the Inn at the Springs. I ordered a bowl of vegetable soup which ended up being vegetable beef soup (heavy on the beef), but it was still pretty good.

The following weekend we made the trek up to Branson, MO to revisit the place where we had gathered five years earlier on the same day in celebration of Jeremy's late grandmother's 85th birthday. That day happened to be Jeremy's birthday as well. The day was bright and the company was splendid. We lunched at the Dobyn's Dining Room located in the Keeter Center on the College of the Ozarks campus, which boasts farm-to-table fare that is brought to you completely by students, from the food they grow on campus to the servers. I enjoyed the most amazing fall-appropriate salad topped with butternut squash and served with pumpkin vinagrette. The Keeter Center also boasts a lodge that was ranked in the top five of college-owned hotels by Travel+Leisure magazine.

Young Master Gray became a little bit confused when three of the four men he calls "papaw" were gathered around the same table! After lunch (and some photo ops and a good bit of visiting) we headed over to downtown Hollister for their Grape and Fall Festival. I had seen a sign for the festival on our way into Branson so we decided to check it out. If the theme of the Apple Festival was tractors, then the theme of this day was trucks. Young Master Gray was able to climb into the cab of two different fire engines, one old, one new. Even in a day where he got to see three "papaws" and a choo-choo, this was the highlight of the day.

We also saw a few animals including goats, rabbits, ducks, geese and a horse. Young Master Gray did NOT want out of his stroller when we got to the goat pin, but he did decide to get out to see the ducks and rabbits.

While we were walking through the festival, a train from the Branson Scenic Railway came rolling through.

It was an altogether lovely fall day (even if it did get hot in the afternoon), and I am glad we took the detour.

Next up on our tour de fall, we plan to visit the pumpkin patch and take a train ride on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad to see some fall foliage. What fall adventures have you taken so far? What is on your bucket list for the season?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Autumn in everything

As I walked this morning the wind spoke so many truths to me. I watched the trees bending and giving way to the wind's touch. They relinquished their dead leaves without a fight. I found myself wanting to let go of my dead leaves, too. Turn over a new leaf, I suppose. Too many leaf references? I think not (hey, at least I didn't say anything about the "winds of change"). I remember reading a story in Women's Wear Daily about Nora Ephron after she passed, and something that she said really stuck with me. She said that you could do more than one thing, and that every 10 years she would reinvent herself. She encouraged other women to do the same. I had always rejected the idea of reinvention for myself. While it's appealing to change, and even though I have changed already, I feel like I must outwardly remain the person everyone knows me to be. I think I just need to let go of that and let the wind carry that person away along with the leaves and my trepidation. 

"Aprils have never meant that much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring." -Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's

Some things have already changed and more changes are coming for my family and for the blog. "A change will do you good." Thanks, Sheryl Crow. Something you failed to mention is that a great deal of change all at once is likely to drive you crazy. Even when all of those changes are good things, it can be tough. It just so happens that the changes happening for my family are all positive ones, but we are still trying to adjust. Jeremy started a new position that changed his workweek from five 8-hr days to four 10-hr days, Young Master Gray started going to daycare two days a week in September,  and I am working more on this blogging thing than ever. Stay tuned for a new blog design I have in the works! (I am really excited about this particular change.) Then there's the ongoing remodel that seems to keep our home in a constant state of chaos and upheaval. Of course, these are all favorable changes that I am thankful for, I just need for us all to finally hit our stride so things can run a bit more smoothly.

I originally planned to come on here and write about the fall adventures we've had so far, but I think I'll leave that for another post. Here is a sneak peek:

Monday, October 5, 2015

10 Myths about Domestic Violence

This month’s #NWARKCares cause is a tough one to talk about. It’s tough because in 2015, I feel like domestic violence should be a thing of the past. But it’s not. It’s hard because it’s not something that people want to talk about, which is exactly why the topic needs to be broached. It’s hard because people close to me have been victims of domestic abuse. Three out of four Americans know someone who has been victimized domestically. If we keep silent then those statistics simply will never improve. 

Because many are so reticent to speak out on the subject, there are countless misconceptions about domestic violence that are accepted as truth. These myths about domestic violence only serve to perpetuate the violence.

Myth 1:

Only women are affected by domestic violence.

While it is true that women are targeted more often than men—1 in 3 women compared to 1 in 4 men are victims of domestic violence—abuse against men does happen. If domestic abuse is a hush-hush topic already, then speaking out about abuse against men is almost nonexistent. Unfortunately, this happens in both the heterosexual and homosexual communities.

When I was a young manager for Dillard’s in Dallas, I had an employee that I will call Sam. Sam was a flamboyant, happy-go-lucky, young man. He was openly gay and was in a relationship with a man that I remember as middle-aged and dowdy. When Sam came to work with a black eye one day, I was understandably concerned. I asked him what happened, but didn’t press the issue when he didn’t want to talk. As time went on, Sam began to open up to me about the physical and emotional abuse that he endured at the hands of his partner. At the time, I had never encountered a male victim of abuse, nor had I even imagined that it was possible.

If he had been a woman, I know that I would have suggested any number of resources that are available to female victims of domestic violence. However, I could think of nothing to offer besides my support if he chose to leave his abuser. Sam ended up leaving Dillard’s after an accident put him in the hospital. Whenever I went to visit him at the hospital his partner was always present, acting the doting caregiver. I will never know if he truly suffered an accident or if things escalated with his partner.

You may be surprised to know, as I was, that there are resources for male victims of domestic violence. The Northwest Arkansas Women's shelter states on their website, "Domestic violence does not discriminate; therefore, our clients are from across all demographics in terms of age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and educational background. We assist any person who meets the criteria for emergency intervention and assistance due to domestic violence or sexual assault."

Myth 2:

Abuse is deserved.

Victims of domestic abuse need support, not judgment. The women and men who are abused usually already have the idea in their head that they deserve to be treated they way they are treated, or that something that they have done has caused the abuse. This simply is not true. The only person responsible for abuse is the abuser.

Myth 3:

Physical battery is the only form of abuse.

Abuse stems from the abuser’s need for power and control. This can manifest itself in many forms of abuse including economic, emotional, sexual and isolation.  

Myth 4:

Domestic violence is a heterosexual issue only.

Homosexual partner abuse is prevalent and occurs at the higher rates than in heterosexual relationships. In this eye-opening article from "The Atlantic," the author quotes a report from the CDC stating that “bisexual women had an overwhelming prevalence of violent partners in their lives: 75 percent had been with a violent partner, as opposed to 46 percent of lesbian women and 43 percent of straight women. For bisexual men, that number was 47 percent. For gay men, it was 40 percent, and 21 percent for straight men.” 

Myth 5:

Domestic violence only affects the poor.

Abuse can happen to anyone. Persons of any economic background, class, culture, age, sexual orientation, and marital status can be victims of domestic abuse or abusers.

Myth 6:

Many reports of sexual assault are false.

The fact is that only 2-4% of sexual assault reports are false, in keeping with the rate of false reports for other felonies.

Myth 7:

If the abuse were really that bad, he or she would just leave.

There are many reasons that a victim of intimate partner violence might stay with the abuser. Often times, the abuser will threaten the victim’s life if they try to leave. Not leaving does not mean that the victim is in a safe situation, or that they are not being abused. Family and social pressure, shame, financial barriers, children and religious beliefs all can factor into a victim staying with their abuser.

Myth 8:

Abuse is rare.

As stated earlier, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been the victim of severe abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Furthermore, the likelihood that someone close to you has been victimized is significant. 3 out of 4 Americans know someone who has been victimized domestically.

Myth 9:

Abuse is the result of alcohol or drugs. 

While it is true the 1/4-1/2 of all abusers have substance abuse issues, the alcohol or drug use is not to blame. Alcohol and drugs cannot cause domestic violence.

Myth 10:

Domestic violence is not a community issue. 

We all have the responsibility to care for one another.

Here in Northwest Arkansas there are many resources for victims of domestic violence. Here are some ways that you can help:
  • Ask a local shelter what their current needs are and donate. Peace At Home Family Shelter has a list on their website, you can view it here: 
  • Volunteer at Peace At Home Family Shelter or Northwest Arkansas Women's Shelter.
  • Donate your gently used clothing, furniture and household items to one of the shelter thrift stores. I have a load of items all ready to take to the NWA Women's Shelter Thrift Store.
  • Be informed. Know the signs of abuse and speak up.

If you are reading this and you need help or know someone in an abusive relationship, please seek help by calling one of these confidential hotlines: 1-800-775-9011 and 1-877-442-9811. Someone is available to assist you 24 hours a day.