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    Get Uncomfortable Get Uncomfortable

    Get Uncomfortable

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Get Uncomfortable

Sexual violence touches on pretty much every taboo topic in America: sex, gender, family, privacy, intimacy. As such, it evokes such powerful and raw emotions. Talking about might make us uncomfortable, but not talking about it will make us feel so much worse. The Enliven Project’s mission is to bring the conversation about sexual violence to new places, in ways that require people to think outside of their box. Conversations about sexual violence are messy and complicated, because the issue of sexual violence is messy and complicated. We can’t be afraid to get ourselves a little dirty as we sort things out. We are deliberately pushing the envelope. We are provoking dialogue. You won’t agree with everything we do and say. That’s okay. You might think we should have said things differently. That’s okay too. Tell us.  Be a part of the conversation. Agree. Disagree. But never doubt our intentions for a moment. The Enliven Project cares deeply and passionately about reducing sexual violence and its impact on men women and children. We are committed to engaging unlikely bystanders and converting them to powerful allies and champions in the movement to end sexual violence. That means we have to go to new places to have them and try new ways of getting people talking. Who should care about ending sexual violence and reducing its shame and stigma?  So many people.  Moms and dads who want their children to grow up safe and happy. Sons and daughters who want to break family legacies of abuse. Husbands and wives who want to connect more deeply with their partners. Men who are ashamed that they were abused as boys. Gay, straight, transgender survivors and their communities. Teachers who want their students to succeed. Managers at [...]

By |March 7th, 2013|Enlivening|Comments Off

The Whole Story

Here’s the challenge with blog posts - they are a great medium for capturing a moment, a feeling, an idea. Not all of my moments, feelings, and ideas. I recently wrote a post for Good Men Project about honoring men’s commitment to survivors of sexual violence as a way to engage them in dialogue on the issue. If you read the comments, you will see the many complex stories readers created about me, my identity, my experiences, my intentions, and my politics. Depending on which comment you believe, I am holding men responsible or letting them off the hook, supporting or rejecting feminism, and over-simplifying or over-complicating the issue. In truth, I’m a feminist, but I also have criticism for some of the more extreme feminists whose dialectic approach is unnecessarily polarizing. But the post wasn’t about that. I also feel strongly that men and women, as bystanders and perpetrators, need to hold themselves accountable for their role in sexual violence. But the post wasn’t about that either. And there are some things that make angry. I’m a regular human, not an enlightened one. So why is this point relevant for the issue of sexual violence? You will rarely hear a story of sexual violence from start to finish. And you will rarely hear it in its entirety in one sitting. Why? For one, sexual violence isn’t like a trip to the grocery store. It doesn’t make a good anecdote. It’s an experience that completely embeds itself in who you are and how you live in the world. And through the process of healing and recovery, it doesn’t become less of who you are, it becomes more of who you are. Furthermore, sometimes we want [...]

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    Not Angry Anymore Not Angry Anymore

    Not Angry Anymore

Not Angry Anymore

In 1999, the year I graduated college, Ani DiFranco, my favorite angry girl rocker, came out with a song, Not Angry Anymore.  It was about how she understood what all the fighting was about, but she just wasn’t going to be angry anymore.  It’s a beautiful song, but I was pissed. How could she not be angry at the world anymore?  Had she gone soft?  What about the revolution?  What about the movement? Over the years, I have grown to understand the relationship between anger, revolutions, and movements.  And while I still consider myself a feminist, I’m really not angry anymore either, and here’s why: Anger might start a revolution but it doesn’t fuel a movement. Hope does. Lately, I have been distressed at the amount of anger - unhelpful anger - in the context of social movements and in the name of causes I care deeply about like sexism, homophobia, and sexual violence. The first example that comes to mind is the Occupy Movement.  The Occupy Movement started because people were angry about income inequality, which is certainly a good reason to be angry. Occupy is fighting back “against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.”  Maybe I need to be more of a conspiracy theorist, but I’m not convinced that the richest 1% are proactively trying oppress the rest of us.  Are there selfish, greedy, unethical bankers on Wall Street?  Sure. But there are also generous philanthropists who care deeply about structural poverty, and fund organizations that work to end it. And there are IT professionals, secretaries, and middle managers who actually LIKE their jobs on Wall Street and [...]

Welcome to the Conversation

Welcome to the conversation.  It’s so nice that we are finally having one. Before this week, I was just a woman with a regular day job, a wife, a mom, a friend, and a casual writer on a blog that I shared with my friends.  But I believed deeply that the world needed to have more honest and compassionate conversations about the things that really matter in our lives.  So I started sharing my thoughts and perspectives publicly.  Sometimes in provocative ways. And somehow, accidentally, I found myself in the middle of controversy, watching an infographic my brother and I made go viral overnight.  Tens of thousands of people shared it on Facebook and Twitter, re-blogged it on Tumblr, debated it, loved it, and hated it.  The intention of this graphic was to spark a conversation about how we experience the fear of false accusation of rape as greater than it is in comparison to the problem of rape and sexual violence.  The data behind it has been critiqued, both fairly and unfairly.  And I’ve listened and learned. But we started a conversation, and an important one at that. Sexual violence is the biggest issue we aren’t talking about in America.  You don’t have to look to Steubenville or Brooklyn or India to find stories about sexual violence.  You just need to look around the table at your next staff meeting, classroom discussion, or family dinner to find stories of direct and indirect impact. 16-25% of Americans will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.  Yup, that’s 1 out of 6 men and 1 out of 4 women.  If you don’t know someone who has been directly impacted, you either don’t know very many people or [...]

By |January 13th, 2013|Enlivening, Sexual Violence|Comments Off

We’re off and running

From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Sexual violence is the biggest issue we aren’t talking about in America.  Today, we are talking about it.  And that’s because of all of you. Last night, The Enliven Project was a promising idea. Today, we are launched.  In the last 24 hours, more than 20,000 people have liked, commented, and shared important statistics about sexual violence.  We’ve begun the conversation.  We are on our way. The Enliven Project is a campaign to tell the truth about sexual violence in America, and to convert the most powerful bystanders to new allies.  Every day, in classrooms, breakrooms, and boardrooms, the issue of sexual violence impacts men and women of all backgrounds - yet we are still not talking about it.  The silence leads to shame and stigma, and it prevents ordinary people and powerful leaders from advocating for the change we need. In the coming weeks and months, we will share more surprising and startling statistics about the prevalence and impact of sexual violence, and illuminate how challenging it can be to measure things that aren’t reported or discussed.  We will also share hopeful stories of resilience and recovery from survivors and their champions.  We will give you tools to have new conversations with your followers, friends, family members, and colleagues. The things you see here might make you uncomfortable, angry, or overwhelmed.  We intend to be provocative.  But don’t turn away.  Join us. Like us on Facebook.  Follow us on Twitter.  Join the conversation.  Tell us about the conversations you are having, the reactions you are getting, and what you need from The Enliven Project to get people to pay attention. With respect and gratitude, Sarah

By |January 7th, 2013|Enlivening|Comments Off

2012: Year in Review

Today is a time to feel hopeful about the year to come, and grateful for the blessings of the year that just passed us by.  The days are slowly getting longer, I have some time off from work, and some mental space to reflect on the previous 12 months.  It’s been quite a year for me and for our family, with lots of adventures and ups and downs.  Looking back on last December, I was just settling back into work after maternity leave and still struggling with the tail end of post-partum blues.  This year, life feels much more hopeful and promising, and I wanted to share some of the highlights from the year with all of you! Watched my sweet baby boy grow from an infant to a full-fledged toddler who walks, talks, and tantrums with the best of them.  It’s been amazing to see him express who he is in the world, and turn into an independent little guy with a life all of his own.  His birth changed me forever, and I can’t wait to see who he becomes. Managed a major transition at work which meant bidding farewell to a wonderful mentor, embracing change, and landing in the absolute perfect role for me with a NEW great boss and a terrific team. Finally got serious about writing, and wrote over 25 blog posts, many about my own personal journey of hurt and healing.  Thank you for reading and liking and commenting - it’s fun to have conversations about the important things in our lives in this space! Ran my first mile.  And ran 14 more after that.  Ran with my brother, in the cold, on the treadmill, and on the road. [...]

By |January 1st, 2013|Enlivening|Comments Off
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    Hallmark Cards and Cupcakes Hallmark Cards and Cupcakes

    Hallmark Cards and Cupcakes

Hallmark Cards and Cupcakes

The fall is birthday season in my life, so I have been thinking about the kind of friend I am, and the kind of friend I am not. I am not a friend who often remembers to send cards - and will often forget birthdays.  I don’t make crafty gifts and pin photos of them to the Internet.  I often feel badly for not being creative and thoughtful like so many wonderful friends are. What kind of friend am I then? I’m the friend that invites you to move in with them when you go through a heart- wrenching breakup and are so sad you can’t even take care of yourself.  If I haven’t seen or spoken to you in a decade, I will still take you in, and make you tea and whiskey and find good junk tv.  I’m the friend you call when you find yourself in love with a married man because I won’t judge you - I will just try to listen and understand. I’m the friend you come to with secrets - dark ones - because nothing shocks me or makes me think less of you.  I’m the friend who will trash talk your ex-boyfriend when we run into him on the street and you aren’t quite sure what to say - I will make sure he knows he missed out big time.  I’m the friend who will seek justice on your behalf if you are betrayed or hurt by another, and make it my mission to seek vengeance on your enemies.  I’m the friend you come to when you need to cry until you can’t breathe anymore, and I will stroke your hair. And then, when your sobs become [...]

By |November 21st, 2012|Enlivening|Comments Off

Managing Up, Down, and Sideways

One of the most important things you can learn as a professional - and as a human - is to see the world through other people’s eyes.  One could argue that empathy is an innate skill, but I think that there are aspects of empathy - and how to act on empathy inside of organizations - that are teachable.  That’s why, twice a year, I lead a workshop for our interns on managing up, down, and sideways.  It’s one of my favorite workshops to lead, and here are the principles we cover: If you want to change the world, you can start wherever you are. You work on a team.  The team contributes to an organization.  The organization impacts an issue.  What you do in your position - no matter how junior it is - impacts the team, the organization, and the issue your organization cares about. Understand your SELF first. You have a personal brand.  If you aren’t managing it, someone else is.  All personal brands are different, and all personal brands are valuable.  A creative, good-humored, team player and a responsible, results-oriented, problem solver are totally different, but both have an important contribution to make.  Think of three words that describe you.  Ask three peers to provide three words to describe you.  See if they line up.  If they do, you have landed on your personal brand. Make your boss’ life better - cure cancer. Ok, maybe you won’t cure cancer, but you will have a better working relationship, more chances to advance professionally, and you will improve the organization.  The first step to making your boss’ life better is to understand what her priorities are, why they are her priorities, and what [...]

Crying at Work

How is it that crying in the office can be considered unprofessional when yelling at someone is acceptable behavior?  In some professions, yelling is actually expected and yellers are seen as powerful and effective.  This seems absurd. I cried at work this week.  And I’m admitting it to all of you.  I felt overwhelmed by all the organizational change occurring and, after a tense meeting, shed a few tears while debriefing with a trusted colleague. I have very mixed feelings about crying at work - as a woman, as a professional, and as a manager.  Let’s be clear here.  I’m not talking about whining.  I do not have mixed feelings about whining - there is no place for whining at work.  I’m also not talking about falling down on the ground, nose running, hysterical sobbing.  I’m talking about welling up, voice breaking, or tears that you can talk through. I’m not sure where I picked up negative messages about crying in the workplace, but there are a few that seem to have stuck: Crying makes you seem weak. Crying is stereotypically female - which is a bad thing. People won’t take you seriously if you cry When I wrote this down, I realized how ludicrous these messages were and how they didn’t really align with my beliefs about women, humanity, OR the workplace.  And, in fact, there are a number of really GOOD reasons to cry at work: Crying when angry.  When I’m angry, I can feel the tears coming.  It’s a completely automatic physical reaction to anger.  Some people turn red in the face or neck.  I well up.  I have always beat myself up over this “show of weakness,” but I’m thinking I [...]

This post is about you (yes, you!)

Being connected to people makes me happy. I remember someone telling me, upon the birth of their second child, that your heart just gets bigger. Love is infinite, but life is not. Most of us don’t spend enough time growing our hearts. Facebook and other social networking sites can certainly bring out our competitive edge - who has a better job, a cuter boyfriend or girlfriend, a more adorable kid - but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to for Metta, the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness. Jack Kornfield, a Buddhist thinker and writer, has a simple and wonderful loving-kindness meditation: May you be filled with lovingkindness. May you be safe from inner and outer dangers. May you be well in body and mind. May you be at ease and happy. Is the connection to Facebook clear yet? For me, learning about the ups and downs of people’s lives is a wonderful opportunity to practice loving kindness - to send compassion to people near and far, close friends, acquaintances, and even random Twitter followers. But I said that this post was about you, and it is. I thought you should know that I’m paying attention - and sending you good vibes near and far - and care and am fascinated by all the things you do in your life. Your stories and photos have gotten me through long nights with the baby, early mornings, and boring commutes. They fill the spaces of my days and weeks and months and remind me that we aren’t alone, that there are more things that unite us than divide us, that our senses of humor will take us further than our politics, and that it’s fun to like people and things [...]