Girl in the Woods: Life Inspiration

I’m on a mission. On a mission to read some great books. There’s nothing I love more than spending a Summer’s day at the beach, buried in my book. I bought this book a few weeks ago and after finally having the time to read and reflect on this little treasure, I just had to share with you some of my thoughts.

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Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis is a beautiful memoir that explores the delicate connection between nature, healing, growth and self acceptance and development. On her second night at college she is raped. She then decides to hike the Pacific Coast Trail, from Mexico to Canada. This book is not about rape or being a victim. It’s about being a survivor, not only through sexual abuse and self acceptance, but literally surviving the American wilderness.

As a young woman just trying to survive university and the struggles of everyday life, reading Aspen’s personal, emotional and brave story of her overcoming such things is not just inspiring but deeply motivating in my pursuit of happiness, travel, connection and love. I am extremely passionate about the educational and healing power of travel and I feel that this book beautifully illustrates this.

But it’s not all sad and serious. I don’t think she intended it to be this way at all. Of course what happened is horrific and you can’t write a memoir without including such a life altering event. But I think the real life changing event for me reading this book, was how she grew, learnt, changed and accepted herself over 2 650miles from Mexico to Canada.

So here are some of the things that I’ve taken away from such an engaging book.

(There are a few spoilers ahead, but I haven’t given anything away yet).

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Some of her pictures taken on the hike.

No means no

If it doesn’t feel right, it’s OK to say no. Saying no doesn’t make you uptight or frigid. It simply means that right now, in this moment, you are not consenting to have sex with someone. It also doesn’t mean you don’t like or love that person. But how that person responds to you saying no, will definitely say a lot about how they truly feel about you.

Speak to be heard, not just listened to

Aspen wrote this book with purpose. She later spoke at her college where she was raped and by her speaking up about what happened, a woman in the audience felt empowered to do the same. If we have something to say, we deserve to be heard, not just listened to and marginally acknowledged. When her parents choose not to acknowledge her rape, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. The only people she’s ever been dependent on her whole life had let her down. It is not only up to us to speak out, but for the people we’re talking to, to do something about it. Her way of speaking about it was through her journals. By doing this she was able to write about her thoughts and emotions but also contemplate them and grow. This also reflects society and the urgent need to know how to help someone who needs it.

Nature is dangerous and it may try to kill you, but it is beautiful

Aspen writes about survival. This trail is not just a pleasant hike you go on to tick off your bucket list. You need to have the deepest motivation and commitment to the trail and yourself. There are few incidences where she is short of death, but as the saying goes… what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Not only does she survive off of the land and care packages her Mum sends her, but also rape. She writes ‘the trail had shown me how to change.’

Life has a funny way of working itself out

She meets her husband on the Pacific Coast Trail. When she finishes and they are catching a ride back to civilisation, she admits that she could of taken another path in life. One that involved her finishing her studies, living out her life as a high school teacher and being mediocrely happy. The path of the Pacific Coast Trail started with her rape, but it ended in her becoming Aspen Matis. She fell in love, she learnt how to survive by herself, and ultimately the Pacific Coast Trail served as nature’s way of healing her body, mind and heart.

Overall, I felt like I was walking the PCT with Aspen. With every page I could feel the miles she walked that day. It’s a difficult book to read because there are such personal reflections, but I think it’s what we need. In order to offer help to others and allow others to seek help, we need to be educated about what to do in situations like this. To empower women to stand up for themselves and teach men not to rape. This book is extremely captivating and I thank the author, Aspen Matis for sharing such a beautifully personal experience.

 

 

 

Knowledge is Power and Power is Sexy

Recently, there’s been so many interesting articles I’ve been stumbling across and have been hesitant in sharing on Facebook due to fear of being a Facebook pest.

So, I’m creating a new part of my blog where I can share interesting links, videos, articles and pictures that I stumble across in my internet life that I think are worth being shared.

So stay tuned for more of my daily findings

xxx A

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#Yesallwomen – My Experiences

#Yesallwomen

Sourced from http://www.theprovince.com/cms/binary/9878330.jpg
Sourced from http://www.theprovince.com/cms/binary/9878330.jpg

The #yesallwomen has swept the Twittersphere in response to the murder spree Elliot Rodger embarked on Saturday 24th May, killing 6 innocent civilians. The #yesallwomen has been a way for women across the world to express their anger, emotion and state of fear that every women has experienced in their life. Rodger has been described as a misogynist due to authorities finding an autobiography/diary, confessing how women constantly rejected him. The #yessallwomen is far bigger than some lunatic, but has sparked important conversation that it’s absurd that in today’s society… the inequality of women. We all know the case of a man buying a girl a drink at the bar, but that is not a one way ticket to her pants.

https://twitter.com/midwesteventer/status/470936915307270144

I am not at all implying (nor is anyone on Twitter) that all men are evil. Men in my life are respectful, responsible, mature people who are the kindest human beings I’ve ever met. And I’m certainly not saying that every woman is perfect, because there’s some crazy ladies out there too. However, I believe the reason this # has taken off is because every woman has experienced some sort of inequality from men, whether that be sexual, physical or verbal abuse, expectations, crude comments or behaviour etc. And I acknowledge that it is from the minority, but sometimes, all it takes is a few beers and next thing your honking your horn and yelling sexual comments from your bar stool where you sit on your pedestal.

I’m a young women who is just trying to find her place in the world. After exploring different corners of the globe, regardless of what country your in, one thing is a guarantee, and that is men will not hesitate to express their sexual, physical desires, fantasies and dreams which I can apparently fulfil. For some reason, that is not an attractive quality. Perhaps try something like; approaching me, smile, buying a drink, being genuinely interested in me, ask for my number, give me a kiss goodnight, and call me the next day, with no other intentions or expectations. Now that is attractive.

Gentlemen please. If making howling noises from a car is how you want to portray yourself to women and the rest of society, go ahead… but you sir are an ass.

Be kind. understanding. confident. approachable. respectful. And never assume that we owe you anything because you spent your valuable night buying us drinks.

To all of you gentlemen out there who are being gentlemen… Thankyou.

Ciao

X

 

The Power is in Your Hands

“One person can make a difference and every person should try.” – John F. Kennedy 

Sourced from xaxor.com
Sourced from xaxor.com

In the interconnected world of ‘collective intelligence,’ everyone has unique knowledge, ideas and concepts which they can use to develop an individual idea or improve another. “Once you start contributing and sharing and connecting with the work of those who connect with yours, you’re engaging in something called produsage (Stewart, 2012). Produsage is encompassed by a larger concept – Citizen Journalism.

Citizen Journalism is where any individual, regardless of training, knowledge, background or education can contribute towards the media. (Bruns, 2007) The positive aspect of this new wave of journalism, is that it allows individuals in the midst of the action to instantaneously document and broadcast crucial information from their mobile phones, tablets or cameras (Hogg, 2009). The role of  this participatory culture is exemplified through technology’s role in the Arab Spring, where Twitter and Facebook are acknowledged for their unparalleled advances in disseminating information” (Duffy, 2011). However, critics say that Citizen Journalism is biased and shows little understanding of the bigger picture. (Hogg, 2009)

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Sourced from http://www.tamaleaver.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/produsage.jpg

Because Tinder is a closed source technology, there are limited opportunities for people to contribute to the collective intelligence and produsage. However, Tinder embraces the characteristics of produsage of ‘organisational shift’ and ‘unfinished’ (Bruns, 2007). The organisational shift encompasses the shift from technological professionals running the app, to a wider population able to make positive contributions. Users and critics are able to criticise, make suggestions and complaints, and although the user cannot amend it themselves, all feedback is taken into consideration. Because of this ‘organisational shift’ Tinder is in a way, ‘unfinished.’ Significant improvements to security have already been conducted as a result of people’s contribution and Tinder will continue to evolve, improve and modify its components to give its audience what they desire.

Produsage may not greatly affect Tinder, however, it has many effects on other components of our lives which influence our decisions and attitudes towards using apps like Tinder in the first place.

References

Bonnie Stewart, What Produsage is and why it Matters, http://theory.cribchronicles.com/2012/07/03/what-produsage-is-and-why-it-matters/,  July 2012, accessed 11/03/14

Matt J. Duffy, Smartphones in the Arab Spring, International Press Institute 2011 Report, http://www.academia.edu/1911044/Smartphones_in_the_Arab_Spring, 2011, accessed 13/04/14

Axel Bruns, Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation, page 4, http://eprints.qut.edu.au/6623/1/6623.pdf, 2007, accessed 11/04/14

Chris Hogg, Is There Creditability in Citizen Journalism? Digital Journal, http://digitaljournal.com/article/271657, May 2009, accessed 11/04/14