22 in 12 days

Last week a friend and I were able to volunteer with the YWCA’s Santa Store. It was a good day. In addition to the fun of helping people wrap up and select presents we had a bit of time to visit with some of the staff members.

While it was really encouraging to hear about the good work they are doing, the way their services are available at crucial times, it was also really discouraging to hear a recent stat. Already this month, by December 12th they had served 22 survivors of sexual assault. Yes, you read that right, 22 hospital visits in 12 days.

Back in 2010 when I started volunteering with Threads of Compassion OKC they served an average of 30 people a month. That seemed like a lot. But, to hear that number has increased so significantly sure hurts.

15 years ago I sat with a group of other survivors and listened as we each shared a bit about how we were doing at that time. I remember looking around at others who were like me trying to process their traumatic event and find a way to not feel crazy. It hit me then that I sure wished we did a better job of teaching people not to hurt others. Instead of all of us having to learn how to move forward, it just made sense to teach everyone from a very young age to be respectful of others and to not hurt each other. I know that’s a simplistic view, but really, if each parent, teacher, and other adult that interacts with kiddos intentionally focused on respect and boundaries, if we’d all teach that “no means no” no matter what preceded it, then fewer people would need to do the hard work of healing from assault. Because, there’d be fewer assaults.

So, here I sat 15 years later with tears starting to run down my face as I thought of all that faced these 22 brave survivors that have started a journey to healing. And, I remembered that moment years ago looking around a room of strong women and thinking “why don’t we teach the guys not to do this?”

So, I guess that’s my Christmas wish this year, that each of us will look out for those around us, that we’ll teach our sons and daughters to love one another, that we’ll model and teach respect, that we’ll start in simple ways like when we’re tickling a toddler who laughs out a “stop” we’ll stop. Instead of teaching self-defense to our girls, let’s teach all the kiddos to keep their hands (and other parts) to themselves. Let’s listen to one another and teach each other what respect looks like from the very early days. Let’s let consent be real in every situation and stop the violence. We can do it together.


Threads of Compassion OKC, LuLa Roe Kari Littlejohn, and the OKC YWCA are all working together this month

Last fall I was introduced to LuLa Roe clothing when a friend in Texas started selling it. I purchased a fun pair of leggings and shirt to see what it was all about. I was totally surprised by how comfortable the leggings are. My kiddo was too, she kept wanting to feel them 🙂

Then in February this year a friend who lives just around the corner started her own LuLa Roe business. Shortly after that she shared that she wanted to use her business to give back to the community in some way. So we talked about maybe doing something during April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. She visited with staff at the YWCA and came up with a great plan!

This month we can purchase a pair of leggings and then purchase a 2nd pair at a discount to be donated. The donated ones will be delivered to the YWCA to be distributed to survivors.

So, if you’ve been thinking about checking out what all the excitement is about, maybe this could be a good time for you. Not only can you get yourself a pair, but you can make one available to someone who could really be blessed by it.

You can shop for leggings online. This “shop” is open until the end of April.

Time to train for the 5K/Kiddie K?

I just realized that the YWCA’s 2 Minute 5K is just about a month away. So, is that enough time to get ready to run the Kiddie K with my kiddo?

Hmm, I don’t know. Running has never been my favorite thing…way back in high school I decided to be a manager for the tennis team instead of trying out for the softball team when I realized how much they had to run 🙂 Now, that ended up great, lots of my friends were on the tennis team, the coach was great, and I learned a lot about the sport. But the decision was definitely motivated by a desire to not have to run.

After the high school experience came a a college PE class. It was the required one that included running, swimming, and aerobics. The first day of class when we ran around the track and then checked in with the teacher for a heart rate check I was told “when we run the dorm loop you’ll want to be sure to walk some”. Yep, the PE teacher told me to plan on walking. Not long after that I was lapped by a celebrity who was out running on the track during our class. I was at not quite half way around the track when he passed me. So, as you can see, running has just never been my thing.

Last year one of our friends ran the Kiddie K with her before doing her own 5K. Since she’s actually a runner that wasn’t all that big of a deal for her. But, for me, running the Kiddie K would be kind of monumental, because, well, I don’t run. I just don’t.

And, right now it feels like my 5-year old’s legs are almost as long as mine. She has tons more energy and lots less weight, so I’m not sure trying to run the whole thing together is a great or very fair plan.

But, I know that she’d think it was cool if mom ran with her. So, I’m considering it. Like, if I made it over to the Y 3 times a week and started out with walking and ellipticalling (that’s a word, right?) I could work up to being able to “run”with her, maybe?

So, no commitments yet, but I’ll plan on hitting the Y tomorrow and see how it goes from there.

And, you can join us! You can sign up to do the 5K, you can register a kiddo for the Kiddie K, or you can join our team and Snooze for SAAM (that’s the option I really want to do) -you just pay the $20, get a t-shirt and advertise that you were part of the event.

Planning for the YWCA 5K

I just finished registering for the YWCA’s 2 Minute 5K and creating our Threads of Compassion OKC team.

This is an event that we’ve participated in since 2010. Some years Morgan and I and Joanna have walked the whole thing together, some years we’ve hung out and visited while others ran and walked, and last year Joanna ran the Kiddie K with a friend.

Though it’s usually windy and often cool, this is an event that I look forward to each year. It’s so encouraging to see so many people gather together to support survivors of sexual assault. We get to visit with people that stop by our booth to say hi, and to say thanks. Each year ladies stop by to let us know that the scarves we are providing are making a difference for survivors. They are an encouragement to them at a traumatic time.

So, if you’re in the OKC area please think about joining our team and hanging out with us the morning of April 22nd. If you’re not in the OKC area, you can still be part of our team -simply choose the “Snooze for SAAM” option on the registration.

If you’re interested in a bit more information, check out the Threads of Compassion OKC site for the info we shared there.

She ran the whole way!

We had a great time participating in the YWCA’s 2 Minute 5K again this year!

Last year Joanna was registered for the Kiddie K, but after starting she turned around and ran back to us, tears streaming down her face. The problem was that there were 2 mascots cheering on the kiddos, they had to run past them to start the race. That was just too much for our 3-year-old to do. She turned and sought comfort from us. This year she said she wanted to run. She remembered last year and said that she wouldn’t be afraid this year. So we signed her up and planned on having a grown-up friend run with her.

Here she is about to start, a bit bummed because our friend didn’t make it, but still willing to run. She was willing to run with dad (who came not planning to run) but wasn’t too happy about it. For weeks she’d been telling us how excited she was to run with our friend. IMG_20160416_075821

Just after this picture another friend arrived. She was scheduled to run the 5K but was there before the Kiddie K and was willing to run with Joanna prior to her race. As you can see, this prospect brightened things up for our girl 🙂


When they got back we had one proud girl! She very happily told us “I ran the whole way, I didn’t walk at all!” She was rightfully proud of her running accomplishment.

Just a few more pictures from the race:

I love that we have friends who are willing to spend their Saturday morning joining us in supporting the YWCA’s event. It’s a bright spot in the midst of reminders of the horror that is the reality of sexual assault.

This year 3 friends joined us – 2 running the race and 1 snoozing at home. And, one friend’s whole family was there, her kiddos played with Joanna while she ran and her husband and family dog hung out with them at the playground. What a blessing to be surrounded by people who take time out to support me and this event!

I wrote a bit about the experience for our Threads blog too. http://www.threadsokc.org/they-did-it/ 


A bit more about the YWCA 2 Minute 5K

For several years now our family has participated in the YWCA’s 2 Minute 5K that happens in April, during sexual assault awareness month. A month or two ago I received a request to be interviewed about my experiences with the event. The YWCA’s Director of Communication was working on an article for a magazine to help get word out about this year’s run.

You can see her article on page 45 of the Oklahoma Sports and Fitness magazine. I’m honored to be part of them spreading the word about the event.

And, if you’d like you can join our Threads of Compassion OKC team! You can run in the race, or choose the snooze option and join us online by spreading the word about it and you’ll even get a t-shirt!

In case you’re wondering, no they don’t expect anyone to run a 5K in 2 minutes. The name comes from the fact that statistically someone in the US is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes. This event is an effort to support survivors and raise funds and awareness for the programs the YWCA has available to help. Please join us if you can!

Mad, Mad, Mad!

Mad, mad, mad! Is how I felt after an experience last weekend.

That particular phrase comes from a Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episode. Our family’s love of Daniel Tiger and things we’ve learned from his show is enough material for another post. For now I’ll just say that in an episode about anger, the character stomps her foot and says she is mad, mad, mad.

So, here’s what happened… J and I ventured out to the OKC Dodgers “First Look Fan Fest” in Bricktown. Morgan couldn’t come with us, so in spite of some reservation about being alone downtown we went for it. The event looked fun and it was in the middle of the day. J fell asleep as I exited the freeway downtown, so after parking in the Joe Carter lot, I started reading a new book on my phone and let her finish her nap. I love the Overdrive Media app that lets me check out books from our local library and read them anywhere. We had plenty of time for the nap since we arrived a bit after noon and the event lasted till 3. And, if you’ve followed us at all you know that my girl needs her sleep -life is better for all of us when she is well-rested.

So, after a nice time reading my book and letting her sleep we exited the car and headed to the park. It wasn’t very far, we could see where we were headed, but we did have quite a bit of filled parking lot to pass through.

A bit into our walk through the lot a man (dressed in shorts and a hooded sweatshirt) approached us and said something to the effect of “here, this is for you” to me as he tried to hand me something that looked like a roll of dimes. I said no thank you (I didn’t know for sure what it was, and whatever it was I figured I didn’t need). He continued to try to get me to take it in spite of my refusal and then he moved on to speaking to my 3 1/2 year old daughter and trying to get her to take it. I’m a bit proud to say that she followed my lead and refused – didn’t reach for it, and said no thanks. At that point after saying no again I told her “come on, it’s time to go to the game” and we walked away. He went another direction.

As we continued across the lot I tried to keep a bit of an eye on him so that I knew whether or not he was approaching us again. I saw him beside a truck and couldn’t tell if he knew the person inside or was also offering them something. As we split ways another man seemed to be just coming upon us and looked a bit like he may have been watching to see if we were ok. He didn’t appear to be working as a lot attendant or anything, just a regular guy heading to a car and could tell that maybe something was amiss with our exchange. We made it across the rest of the lot and into the park without further incident.

While reading this you may think “what’s the big deal? a dude in the parking lot talks to you and then it takes awhile for him to go away”. Oh, but that’s not how it was for me! See, after being attacked years ago I am even more cautious about my surroundings. There have been other events downtown that I’ve thought about attending, ones that have looked like J and I would enjoy them. But, they are downtown during the day when the 2 of us would have to go alone. Parking can be complicated, we may have to walk a bit, and that leaves us out, exposed, and vulnerable. So I choose not to go, to find something else closer to home and more familiar to do. And then, I take a chance to do something and those reservations are proven true -an unsettling encounter happened. I don’t want those concerns to be the reality. I want reality to be that I can take my daughter to any event that looks fun without thinking twice about how far we may have to walk through an area that may be “sketchy” or make us vulnerable. I want to be able to take care of any errand when it’s convenient to me without having to think about if it’s a safe place for a girl to go alone. But, unfortunately, experience has told me that there are dangers, that evil is real.

So, part of the “mad, mad, mad!” is that after this experience I have to deal with figuring out whether it was unreasonable to think it would be a good idea to go to the Fan Fest. Or, is that something that any other adult would consider a perfectly good idea and it’s just my personal past that makes me question it. And, if it’s that, if it’s my experience of being attacked that makes it problematic, then dangit – maybe there’s still more healing that needs to happen, maybe those guys’ actions are still affecting life today. And, that is not what I want to be true.

A week later I find myself mad, mad, mad that my 3 year old is asking me questions about why a stranger tried to give us something in the parking lot. Mad, mad, mad, that in her incomplete English she is explaining to me that when a stranger comes we say NO and walk away, I repeat that and she says “no mommy, you have to say it louder!”. This is happening in our car, as we drive all our normal places. Due to that dude approaching us my girl is processing how to deal with stranger danger before we’ve even had that conversation. That makes me mad, mad, mad. I want her world to feel safe still, I want concerns about safety and strangers to be concerns for me and her Daddy for now, I want her to just enjoy the experiences and the view. But, this encounter confirms that she needs to know we have a plan.

I’m mad, mad, mad to find that during Sexual Assault Awareness month I’m having my own new experience that reminds me of previous tragedy and vulnerability. I want the continued healing that makes new encounters not bring up old trauma. Though I’m mad, mad, mad I’m thankful that we do have a month for people to think about to support survivors of sexual assault.