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Going for Gold

I just watched Aly Raisman read her victim impact statement at Larry Nassar’s sentence hearing, and it was absolutely amazing. She spoke with so much grace and elegance. She was poised and fierce, and made her point very clear that she is not a victim, but a survivor. She also spoke about how so many girls were brushed aside when they came forward about their experiences with the doctor. I find that to be absolutely appalling. The fact that organizations such as the U.S.A. Gymnastics and U.S. Olympic Committee enabled this monster to continue practicing while dismissing the countless allegations against him makes me sick to my stomach. These organizations proved that they were only concerned about their athletes winning. They did not value these girls as human beings at all. It’s so heartbreaking to know that while I was watching these girls compete for medals, they were being molested and abused.

Aly and the other girls are not just winners at the Olympics, but they were winners in the courtroom. Their voices were heard loud and clear, and I’m so proud of them. I hope that they continue to heal and go on to live healthy lives.

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A Supreme Bright Other

WARNING: The following film contains scenes of drug use. Viewer discretion is advised.

Last Tuesday Jhené Aiko released her third and final installment of her 3-part project, M.A.P. (movie, album, and poetry book). 2fish (a poetry book) has been highly anticipated since she released a surprise album Trip, on September 22nd. She released a short film by the same name just two days before.

Trip (the movie) follows the life of a young woman named Penny as she tries to navigate through life after losing her brother. She reluctantly takes a road trip with a stranger, and experiments with different types of drugs. While on the trip, Penny begins to accept the fact that her brother has passed and finds her way back to herself. The movie is emotional and captivating, containing original poetry written by Jhené Aiko.

Trip (the album) closely mirrors the movie, as Jhené processes her own feelings and emotions in dealing with the loss of her brother in real life. The 2 disc album serves somewhat as an audio diary as she expresses the pain of losing her brother. The album covers feelings of suicide, love, drug use, and hope.

I’ve been listening to Jhené Aiko’s music since her first single, “Dog” on B2K’s Pandemonium album, so I’m extremely proud of her. Being able to pull off a short film, an album, and book on top of touring is absolutely incredible and proof of Jhené Aiko‘s dedication to her art. She is in every sense a “supreme, bright other.” She also announced via twitter that she has been sober since the release of the album, so big kudos to her. I hope that she continues to find success and every good thing that comes along with it in the new year, and the years to come.

-xoxo

 

 

The Greatest

Back in 2015, I wrote a post about alcoholism, which highlighted songs from both singer, Sia and rapper, Kendrick Lamar. Two years later I find myself doing it again, only except this post is on a different note. In this post I’ll be highlighting Sia’s 2016 single, The Greatest, which features Kendrick Lamar.
First of all, I was so excited when I heard that Sia and Kendrick Lamar were on a song together. They are both extremely talented artists. In the song, Sia sings, “I’m free to be the greatest, I’m alive.” That’s basically the premise of the song, being free, alive, and great. This song has such an incredible message for anyone who’s ever felt like giving up or quitting. She even repeats, “Don’t give up” several times throughout the song. This song is so encouraging and it’s a song that everybody can relate to. It’s definitely been on repeat on my playlist! The music video is so haunting yet artistic, I just can’t stop watching it. The choreography is absolutely phenomenal. The kids are amazing. I’m sure by now everybody’s heard the song and seen the video, but if you haven’t (welcome back to earth. lol), go check it out! The Greatest is definitely one of the greatest songs written in the past couple of years, in my opinion. I love songs with a positive message. There’s so much negativity and horrible things happening in the world, for some people, music is their only escape. If you ever feel like giving up, remember that you’re alive for a reason. You have all of the freedom to be yourself and nobody can ever take that away from you, no matter how hard they try. In Kendrick’s verse, he talks about how his scars and letdowns only made him stronger. I don’t believe that Kendrick is an exception. I believe that anyone can turn their stumbling blocks into stepping stones if they don’t give up.

Cyntoia Brown

“… When I would do good, evil is present with me.” -Romans 7:21 kjv

I first became aware of Cyntoia Brown’s story a few years ago, while watching a series of documentaries on YouTube. I was shocked by the entire story. I was mostly shocked at the sentence that she received.
Cyntoia Brown was a sixteen year old girl who’d experienced a life full of hardship since conception. She was born to a teenaged mother who drank during her pregnancy, and used drugs after her birth. Cyntoia’s birth mother also suffered from mental illness, which had been genetically passed down for at least three generations. At eight months old, Cyntoia’s mother gave her up for adoption. Cyntoia lived with relatives and family friends for the first three years of her life; even being kidnapped at one time by relative. Needless to say, Cyntoia developed some abandonment issues as well as trust issues. Cyntoia was raised by Ellenette Brown, a family friend. And while things seemed picture-perfect on the outside, that was not the case. Cyntoia claimed that she was being physically abused by her adoptive father.
At the age of sixteen, Cyntoia ran away from home. She was exploited and trafficked for sex by a pimp named “Kut throat” for three weeks, before he told her that she needed to go make some money. Cyntoia went to a part of the city, known for prostitution, where she met a forty-three year old man. This man offered her (a girl- twenty-seven years younger than him) $150 dollars for sex. Cyntoia, young, desperate, and afraid agreed. She got in his car and went to his house. He told her about all of the guns he owned, and how well of a shooter he was. As Cyntoia recalls, the man became aggressive during the transaction. When he reached over to grab something, Cyntoia, feared for safety and grabbed a near-by gun and shot and killed the man. Afraid to go back to Kut throat empty-handed she stole, the man’s wallet.
These are the events that led to a sixteen year old girl being tried as an adult and convicted of 1st degree premeditated murder, felony murder, and aggravated robbery.
My heart completely broke while watching this documentary. Imagine my shock while scrolling through my Instagram feed the other day, I noticed Rihanna sharing a post about Cyntoia. I’m so happy that once again, someone is giving a voice to Cyntoia. She didn’t let a failed system take away her life, though it took away her freedom. She studied and received her degree while in prison. She is still fighting for her freedom and now few celebs have joined her. It is my hope that Cyntoia will be freed from prison, not at age 69, but in the near future. It is also my hope that the justice system in America will never again criminalize a victim. It is absolutely incredible to me how many times the system failed this girl: at birth, throughout her childhood, then in her adolescence.

To learn more about Cyntoia Brown’s story go here.

Again

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There she goes again
another sacrifice
she’ll lose it all tonight
tears hang in her eyes
her throat burns
silent cries
there’s no turning back now
she’s committed
won’t hold it down
just a little bit
more
sings the choir in her head
they’re screaming encore
from the stands
red eyes and blurry vision
cooking white lies
in her kitchen
but her eyes will adjust
like the skies opened up
and she’ll rise
from the dust
© Jocsalyn Janay 2016

Trichotillomania

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The first time I’d ever heard of trichotillomania was in the early 2000s. I was watching an episode of Boston Public, where a student had been wearing hats to cover up the fact that she’d been losing her hair. The other students began to think that she had cancer until one day she’d gotten sick in class and coughed up a hairball.
After seeing this episode I wanted to know more about this disorder, but unfortunately I was only able to find very little information on the subject. I never abandoned my search to find out more about trichotillomania. I recently began my search again and found all sorts of information.
So what exactly is Trichotillomania? Trichotillomania is a body-focused disorder which results in a compulsive urge to pull out hair strand by strand, often leading to baldness and emotional trauma. The hair pulling is not specific to a certain area on the body. It could be from the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, or anywhere on the body. The severity of the disorder also differs from patient to patient. The eating of the hair after pulling it out is an extreme form of the condition known as trichophagia. In 2008, ABCNews.com reported that a 10 lb. hairball (trichobezoar) was surgically removed from a girl’s stomach in Mumbai, India. However, most trich patients do not eat their hair. Although trich is an anxiety/stress related disorder, the cause is unknown. It typically begins late in childhood or early puberty and primarily affects women.
Today, youtube is full of brave people sharing their stories about their struggles and triumphs with trich. BeckieO, a youtuber, said in a interview with ABC News that, “Pulling makes me feel better, but then you see the damage afterwards and you think no, that’s actually making me feel worse.” That seems to be a common pattern with trich patients. Shame, guilt, and embarrassment follows the pulling. I think that’s one of the reasons why people who suffer from trich don’t get necessary treatment right away. It’s embarrassing to have to explain to someone that you’ve been pulling out your own hair without even knowing why you’re doing it in the first place or how to stop. Trich patients are not helpless. 60 to 80% of trich patients can be effectively treated with behavioral therapy and medication. There are also toys called “fidgets” that are used to help relieve stress and to keep hands distracted from pulling. Trich patients sometimes feel that they are suffering alone but it’s not true. Several celebrities have also been diagnosed with having trich including Olivia Munn, Charlize Theron, and Justin Timberlake.
You can find out more about trichotillomania at trich.org. Also, you can head over to youtube and follow the trich journals of brave “trichsters” like BeckieO and many others.

Swimming pools & Chandeliers

DSCI0031In 2012 rapper, Kendrick Lamar released his single, Swimming Pools, which peaked Billboard charts at number 25. In his song he talks about people who “live their lives in bottles.” He says, “Some people like the way it feels, some people want to kill their sorrows, some people want to fit in with the popular, that was my problem.” Kendrick Lamar was by no means alone in using alcohol as a way to fit in. Studies by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that in 2009, about 10.4 million young people between ages 12-20 drank more than “just a few sips” of alcohol. Studies have also shown that on avaerage, young people have about five drinks on a single occasion. This is considered binge drinking and is addressed in the hook of Lamar’s song as the question is asked, “Why you babysittin’ only two or three shots? I’ma show you how to turn it up a notch”. Near the end of the song, we hear a conversation that takes place between Kendrick and his conscience. He is warned that if he doesn’t stop, he is going to die. Every year, 5,000 people under the age of 21 die due to alcohol-related incidents. This song, while explicit in language, takes a very different approach when it comes to alcohol references in music, but Kendrick isn’t the only one sounding off on alcohol abuse.

In 2014, a song entitled, Chandelier, by singer, Sia peaked Billboard charts at number 8. Unlike Kendrick Lamar, Sia’s reason for drinking isn’t centered around being popular. Sia wants to “kill her sorrows”. Chandelier opens with this verse, “Party girls don’t get hurt. Can’t feel anything. When will I learn? I push it down, push it down.” She is using alcohol to numb whatever pain she was feeling before she began drinking that night. She then continues, “I’m the one for a good time call. Phone’s blowin’ up, ringing my door bell. I feel the love…” She not only uses alcohol to to cover up her pain, but also sex as a way to feel loved; which is no coincidence since, drinking causes impaired judgement and leads to poor decision making. Sia echoes the notion of binge drinking in the pre-chorus, singing, “throw ’em back ’till I lose count.”

Whether you’re drinking to fit in or you’re trying to mask a deeper problem, you are compromising your values to become someone another person will like. Once you start sacrificing yourself to become someone you’re not, it gets harder and harder to find your true identity. Alcohol provides a false since of contentment, once it’s gone you’re left feeling worse than you did before. Sia illustrates this well in verse two, “Sun is up. I’m a mess. Gotta get out now. Gotta run from this. Here comes the shame, here comes the shame.” Remember Proverbs 23:20, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” -NIV