What really matters…

Hello my loves, here with this weeks existential crisis.

To blog, or not to blog.. that is the question.

Not actually, because I plan on continuing to blog mostly due to the fact I have an incorrigible desire to verbalize my opinion all over the internet…

But the content…

Sigh.

City Style Country Smile has always been a beautiful distraction for me.

I started it to distract myself from the fact I got laid off, and then it was a great distraction when I caught my (ex)boyfriend of 5 years searching though the craigslist personals. It worked perfectly well to get me though breaking my pelvis, going back to school, finding my career, getting dumped, getting over it and growing up a bit more.

Even though I was pretty late jumping onto the blogging bandwagon, I didn’t really realize what I was getting myself into, because really… who even reads blogs when you aren’t a blogger? Who really cares what I wore or how much I saved or if overalls are in? At the time I just wanted something pretty… some sparkly thing to distract myself from the big bad world as it crumbled down around me. As much as I love blogging, and I love your support, I cannot help but feel like my energy has been wasted.

Perhaps wasted is the wrong word, because I don’t really consider anything I’ve done to be wasted time; its all building towards something, but now I’ve been building for a while. I started this blog as a way to focus on writing, to give myself goals and mini-deadlines and a reason to write on the regular. As I build my world back up I have to ask myself, what kind of person I want to be? I am proud of what I’ve done so far, but am I content with where I’m heading? When I look in the mirror am I happy? Can I look myself in the eye and believe I have done something worth doing?

To be honest, City Style Country Smile has been a journey of personal acceptance and a battle towards seeing my life in a positive light. While so many girls struggle with accepting their body, their beauty, and themselves, I have always had a strong sense of self. Through all the pressures to be thin and beautiful and popular I have never lost sight of what I believe. I know who I am, every flawed inch of me. I am beautiful because I am a collection of imperfections wrapped up into a being that will always TRY to be be better. Not perfect, but better. All I want to be is better than I was. I know I have ugly man hands (as some have pointed out) and crooked gap teeth, my toes have corns, my knees are knobbly thanks to multiple dislocations, and my skin is covered in scars. I don’t care; I am a collection of my experiences, my story is written on my skin and I am not ashamed. I am not defined by the worlds external views on beauty.

As far as blogging goes, I have tried my hardest to make this a positive place for to find inspiration, and honestly it has been a stepping stone for me on the path to mental health; after all as Marcus Aurelius said “your happiness depends upon the quality of your thoughts”. And it’s true, although often easier said than done; you can choose to dwell on the bad or focus on the good. I find it unlikely, with this beautiful, positive facade I have erected around myself, that people would believe I have struggled with depression for many years. I am better than I was before, but am I really better? Depression is an ambiguous demon because it lurks just out of sight in all the dark corners of your mind; are you better now or are you having a good day today? The path to recovery starts within; accepting your imperfections, recognizing your strengths, pushing yourself to grow stronger where you can and gracefully accepting the things you cannot change. I am tired of photo-shopping away my scars.

When I look in the mirror I don’t see a beautiful girl. Not because I do not think I’m beautiful, but because I only see what I want to become, and that vision is significantly different than my reflection. I started this blog with the hope that through it, other girls could find a way to accept their own imperfections and grow into beautiful confident women. If I have helped even one person do that then not a moment here has been wasted. When I look into the mirror I am fine with what I see, but when I look inside I am much more discontent. I feel guilty for allowing my superficial side to take up such a large portion of my time. I feel like a hypocrite, like I have spent my time on an exercise in personal vanity and the desperate search of self validation from others when I should have been working on something much bigger than myself.

This is the trap we fall into as women. Society tells us to be valued we must be beautiful; the larger our thigh gap, the greater our self worth. People like Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian are the icons of our generation. Whores. I don’t give a shit if we’re supposed to support other women, I refuse to support people who made their millions by spreading their legs. To be famous these days all you have to do is sell your soul; I imagine it must be easy when you have no self-worth in the first place. Do not mistake me, for women who explore their sexuality should be celebrated, however rich whores exploiting their bodies on tape for money should not. My god, I live in a generation where to get on TV all you have to do is be 16 and Pregnant. As women we set ourselves back by continuing to sell our sexuality instead of our smarts. We buy into the idea of beauty that they sell us, and we accept what they tell us as true.

Do we even question WHY we’re buying that O.P.I. Kardashian Kollection? When you paint that red polish on and feel your self-worth buoy up as the instagram likes roll past 11, do you ever think about the fact that the only reason you are wearing whores-r-us-red is because Kim K. fucked Ray J on tape and her deplorable mother sold it to the world? Do you think about that, or do you just buy a new color when people stop liking your photo?

I think about it… and then I buy a new color anyways. Because thinking about it hurts. It hurts to think about the world, when you really give it an honest look, so instead we distract ourselves with the pretty things they tell us to buy and listen when they tell us that everything is fine. I don’t want to listen to their lies any longer. I don’t want to hear about how I look, I want to hear that I made someone THINK. That I provoked THOUGHT as opposed to LUST. That I am valued for my mind and not for my waistline.

On June 17, 2013, Alberta passed the “RESPONSIBLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT ACT” which dissolves the Environmental Resource and Conservation Board (a government body) and replaced it with the Alberta Energy Regulator (a private corporation) and I’m honestly completely devastated. Just look at the words. ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION board… versus the Alberta ENERGY REGULATOR. Gone are the days of ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, replaced now with “responsible ENERGY DEVELOPMENT”.

Our government is done protecting our land, they have lost control. They handed over all land owner rights to a CORPORATION, which is funded by the oil industry and has no regulations in place to regulate the regulator. This has all essentially been done to make good and goddamn sure no pesky land owners like Jessica Ernst (that’s the 2011 UN International Woman of Courage to you, fuckers) can sue the government for failing to protect landowners from industry actuivity. You can’t sue the government if the government has no accountability, right? In the meantime, the Judge on Jessica’s case has been called up by Harper (don’t get me started on him) to a higher position and her lawsuit, filed in 2007, goes back to PHASE ONE, where they decide if she even has the RIGHT to sue the government for failing to uphold their own regulations. Well they solved that problem for any future troublemakers, if there are no regulations, how can you sue for failing to comply? But even if you could, they closed that up for debate by putting it right into the law; the AER cannot be sued, cannot be held accountable for their decisions and not even the crown has the right to review the Alberta Energy Regulator’s decisions. In other words: HAH, WE HAVE THE MONEY AND POWER HERE, ENJOY YOUR PEON LIFESTYLE, HIPPIES! I mean really, can’t you all just die of cancer already? We pumped enough chemicals down there to kill your cattle, how the fuck are you still around making noise?

This corporation has the power to make rules (literally) but there is no body in place to govern them. The Public Trustee Act does not apply to this Alberta Energy Regulator. Apparently the public is just supposed to blindly trust that they are looking out for our best interests. Certainly there couldn’t possibly be a conflict of interest having the former head of EnCana corporation on the Board of Directors for the AER, they are just here looking out for the common good, just making SURE that energy development is done in a RESPONSIBLE manner. GUARANTEED. Its totalitarian rule and not one fucking person I talk to about it here has any goddamn idea it even happened. We are all so busy distracting ourselves with superficial things- designer bags, fancy cars and big houses, each just another totem to our desire to be coveted.

We all want to be wanted. In our desperate search for acceptance we buy into corporations who charge us more for a fucking handbag than some people spend on food in an entire YEAR. Maybe I would have more followers if I was wearing Valentino instead of Value Village. How many times have I pinned the rock-stud heels, wishing they were mine… but if I had them, would I feel better about myself, or worse? You can sit and wish for what you want, you can covet what other people have, but if you cannot look yourself in the eye and be proud of who you are, then you don’t have shit. I have more beautiful things than I know what to do with, and I still feel empty.

I include myself, for I am just as guilty, if not more so.. as I see it and choose to ignore it. Or rather, its not that I choose to ignore it, its that I have no fucking idea how to stop it. Because its really, really hard to look at your country and realize that despite living in “our home and native land, so glorious and free” our rights have just been sold to a corporate body, who can now buy their way into the favor of the Regulator. Its starting to feel a whole lot more like the native lands in our anthem; you know, the ones we European immigrants stole from a native people and then dehumanized their race to justify it? Shut them up, those people don’t know what they’re talking about; why live in a Ti-pi when you can build a mansion as a monument to your own self-importance? Environmentalists are just wolf-criers who hate all of our beautiful money. The oil sands are a sustainable energy future. LOOK, MONEY!! Stop all that THINKING dear, just go buy yourself a new pair of heels. All the while a relentless media campaign is brought to you by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) explaining how the “polluters pay, not the tax payers” and how many more jobs this will bring, and how it will stimulate our economy. Alberta’s Oil Sands – the best thing since sliced bread.

Now that is some serious media spin – the POLLUTERS pay, not the taxpayers and EVERYONE WINS!! Okay, just wait one little minute, you mean the oil companies can literally just pay the regulator to look the other way??? No, that would NEVER happen. Not here in this land, so glorious and free. The regulator is here to PROTECT US. We’re going to need to re-write our anthem soon, as the destruction of our land is already in the works (you can’t even imagine how much development they have planned over the next ten years, there will be nothing glorious about it) and we are far from free here.

In Pennsylvania two children, aged 7 and 10, were given a lifetime gag order from EVER talking about Marcellus shale (that’s the nice way of talking about fracking) after their parents settled with the oil company who polluted their water. (full story HERE) In some ways, after reading that story I only feel angry that the parents, formerly outspoken advocates, gave up their rights and the rights of their childen for free speech in order to be able to afford a new home, but what are you supposed to do when your home is taken from you? When your children are threatened? When you find carcinogens in the water and can’t afford to truck in clean water, what are you supposed to do except for accept the money and hope to god it’s enough? What do you do when the industry that is causing all the problems, has enough money to buy their way out of any trouble?

I choose to do the only thing I can and talk about it. I don’t have any money, and I don’t have any gag order to silence me. I refuse to be quite as our rights are secreted away from us. I refuse to accept this as being the way things are. At the same time, I don’t really know how to change things, either. All I know is that every change begins with a single decision; to make a change.

I think I need to make a change. I am taking off tomorrow on a road trip to beautiful British Colombia, and I need to take a break from the blog for a bit. I need to re-energize, re-focus and re-evaluate my goals. I think I need to put my writing towards talking about real issues instead of talking about how to make yourself look skinnier. I need to be inspired by the beauty of the possibility of real change, as opposed to trying to fit the mold of what a fashion blog should be. Half the time when I read blogs I come away so inspired and uplifted, but the other half I just add up how much that outfit cost and think about how much time I just spent reading about other people’s trivial decisions and wonder what the cost will really be if I keep on distracting myself.

The biggest flaw I find with our incredibly connected modern world, is that we are so intimately aware of how many other people there are that we imagine someone else out there is doing something so we don’t have to. We believe that we couldn’t or wouldn’t make a difference, or that what we do doesn’t matter because we’re just one person. After all, how much change can one person make? All you need to know is one person is better than none. Change starts from within, so be the change you wish to see in the world. Now is the time for you to speak, you were given a brain so you could think and a voice so you could ask questions. You weren’t given ears to be told what to do.

I haven’t decided where I want to go from here. I’m not sure I can justify “wasting” my time on the frivolities of fashion much longer, but I also don’t know that I can face reality in all its brutal ugliness without a little something pretty to fall back on. If ever there was a time for an encouraging word, this is it. Or, if you hate my blog and think I’m the most annoyingly vain person in the world you should fire away in the comments as well, one perfectly vitriolic comment might just do it in for good!

xo, aiyanajane

recovery – one year

cs lewis

One year ago today I woke up planning on catching one of my favourite bands (Mother, Mother) at Stampede… instead I wound up in the hospital with a broken pelvis.  It was just one of the many struggles I have had to over-come in this last year-or-so period of my life.. basically ever since I started the blog (when I got laid-off from my long time retail-manager position) things have been constantly crazy and changing.  I can only hope they keep changing, because as hard as this last year has been, I have grown so much, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

july 15, 2012 –  the nurses let me have Finley for comfort ❤

I am thankful for the blog and the support I have received here as well, it has made this year much better for me! Its really interesting to me to see what I wrote, where I was mentally exactly a year ago, so if nothing less the blog has provided an excellent diary.

I have always known that following my passion for riding could result in a serious injury. There is risk to everything in life, but if the reward is greater then to me, you must always risk it. Life is not worth living if you live it afraid. I am not afraid, I am not angry, I accept this and I am thankful for all I have, because I know how much I could have lost.

To all my family, to all my friends, thank you for you’re love and support. Remember that life is worth nothing if you risk nothing, because then you never reap the rewards. I won’t feel fully healed until I can be back on my horse galloping across my land with the wind in my hair because for me, there is nothing in life better than the freedom I feel on the back of my horse, and there is nothing in life that will stop me from going after that.

Pretty optimistic right?  Read the full (aka super-long) story of my accident here.

These two girls have been my best friends since elementary.  I will forever appreciate that it was these two who were there for me at the time and in the days to come following my accident.

the kind of friendship where time and distance come between, but nothing ever really changes

..and they are responsible for the best thing that has happened to me last year, Cedric Diggory!!

Cedric Diggory 16

There is really nothing in the world that makes me happier than animals, talk about creature comforts!

Of course, the best part of it being a year later is that I have been back riding my beautiful horses!

Wild hearts can’t be broken..

xo, aiyanajane

Calgary – For our Tomorrow

video by Bradley Stuckell

 For organized volunteer opportunities visit http://www.yychelps.ca/

girls after my own heart in sunnyside/ kensington

 “Before I head into my next briefing, I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who turned up at McMahon Stadium this morning. We asked for 600 and thousands turned up. We know that many more are out helping their friends and neighbours clean up the damage the flood has left behind. Please know that this is just the first of many volunteer opportunities, so if you weren’t able to be part of this one, sit tight. We will be asking for help again soon.” Naheed Nenshi 

nenshi

“Soaks up flood water without a single nap.”

I was basically going to write exactly this post but it seems someone has beat me to it: Why Calgary Loves  Mayor Nenshi.

Moral of the story is the guy is a boss and Calgary is full of amazingly resilient and resourceful people.

We will rebuild together.

Some of the snapshots from around the city show that Calgary is hardly beaten, we can find ways to laugh and move forward with hope.   I’m still feeling a little torn about this post and hoping that everyone understood that I was only making a cultural observation based on my current situation, and not trying to minimize in any way what has happened here.  For all my complaining, Calgary is home and I really do love the spirit of this city.  People here are ready to help each other, and it is the hard times that will bring us together.   I sometimes fear that’s where our society is headed- after so long in the mindset “me against the world” perhaps the world will strike back so that as men we band together towards a greater purpose.  With everything in life I like to remind myself that every act has greater purpose.  You cannot see the purpose in the midst of the pain, but in retrospect, we will have come though this having learned more about ourselves as Calgarians, as Albertans, as human beings. We will come through stronger, and perhaps we will take away some new knowledge from this devastation that may allow us, or future generations to preemptively act. [UPDATE:  HERE – it’s like I agree with the scientists about climate change or something ]   As for today,  in the social media age it is extremely easy to find ways to volunteer or donate, so please do your part to help Albertan’s!  On that note, I’m off to start cleaning up!

xo, aiyanajane

Water

I don’t even know where to begin with this…

I’m not certain how wide the coverage globally is of the flooding here in Calgary, and Southern Alberta, although I just saw it on Sports Center so I assume you guys have heard. Still, its hitting home and authorities are warning it is not over yet, with more rain to come. Three people are confirmed dead in the High River community, with another still missing. Entire homes have been washed away in Canmore. Calgary has evacuated 25 neighbourhoods, displacing approximately 75,000 people. My former neighbourhood, Mission, (which I wanted to move back to) is underwater. The zoo animals are headed to the jail cells if the Bow River continues to rise. 17th Avenue, and Kensington, my favourite shopping spots are also flooded. Two weeks to Stampede opening day, the Saddeldome is full of water up to the luxury boxes, and the grounds are an ocean. It’s certainly the top story nationally, if you are reading from outside of Canada, check out links for the stories at NATIONAL POST, CTV, and CBC.

Calgary Police Car in flood

All the reports compare this to the flood of 2005, which I also experienced first hand, although in Rosebud, not Calgary. You can see that flood for yourself as well, in the CBC documentary that follows my mother and our family, Burning Water. This is the second time I have experienced a flash flood, and there is nothing like it; and this is NOTHING like the first time. The photos hardly do it justice, the murky water only shows the spread, not the depth. If you aren’t familiar with the landmarks you might not know quite how extensive it is. You might not realize how much has been effected. If you have been watching any news coverage you may have seen helicopter footage, its unbelievable, to view it click HERE.

This video gives a pretty good idea of how severe it really is. The flooding is widespread; shallow in some places but extremely deep and fast moving in others, and full of debris. Calgary at this point, is not nearly as hard-hit as Canmore and High River, where 3 are confirmed to be dead. Hundred’s of soldiers have been deployed as Southern Alberta is in a state of emergency. As much as I go on about my displeasure at living in Calgary, I do love the people here, at a time like this its really clear how strong of a community we have. Watching all these videos, seeing my running trail and an entire community under water is heartbreaking. Its fortunate that in Calgary we have no deaths and minimal injuries.

The overwhelming sentiment seems to be one of complete disbelief; no one imagined anything like this could happen here. My mom and I felt the same in 2005, when our farm in Rosebud flooded. I can’t explain to you the feeling when you are in the middle of the storm like that. I’ve always loved being in the middle of the storm, I love the rain, in 2005 when the flash flood hit our home, I was outside walking in the rain when instead of just pouring rain, suddenly, there was water everywhere. The footage in Burning Water (its only a few minutes in if you click HERE) shows flooding in my yard, was shot by me at the time and cut into the film later. When a flash flood comes, you really don’t realize how quickly it hits, and when it hits a city of a million people, the 4th largest in Canada, it’s devastating.

The footage is unbelievable, nothing like this has ever been seen here, and in times like this my inner environmentalist is begging for people to see the larger picture. More and more in the news all over the world we hear of natural disasters, each seemingly the “worst in history.”

In 1895, Nobel Prize winning Swedish chemist Svante August Arrhenius predicted that the excessive burning of fossil fuels would eventually alter the earth’s climate. In just 118 years, we have burned though an unbelievable amount of those fossil fuels, almost certainly faster than anyone, even Mr. Arrhenius, could have ever predicted.

Downtown Calgary was built on the money of the oil and gas boom, and is set between two rivers- the Bow and Elbow. “The Bow”, Encana’s landmark building- the tallest in Canada West of Toronto, just opened to the public a few weeks ago, and is now completely shutdown due to massive flooding. It almost seems biblical, though I do not consider myself a religious person. If there is one thing I do believe in, as I have posted before, it is the balance of nature.

Like I said, there is nothing like being in the middle of a storm, there is nothing like seeing it for yourself. The massive, awe inspiring power of nature. What forces does man have at his disposal when nature strikes? You realize then how powerless we really are. What does man expect from nature, that it will not strike back? That it will not find a way to create balance?

It is tremendously difficult for me to write this post because I do not want it to be misunderstood. I have compassion for every single individual affected here, for every individual affected in every tragedy around the world right now. I cannot imagine having my entire home swept away, its devastating.

At the same time, nature does not care for the whim’s of man. Man is a vile beast; a greedy creature with the tools to do more damage than any other animal on this planet, but mother nature will not accept mistreatment at the hands of her children.

When EnCana/Cenovus Corporation came to the the Rosebud valley with its experimental drilling techniques circa 2005, our water started lighting on fire out of the taps. The CBC passionate eye documentary, Burning Water, follows my mother’s fight with corporate Alberta, and the Alberta government for her water rights, after Encana used an experimental method of hydraulic fracturing in the Rosebud River Valley. In the midst of this political storm, 3 successive rainstorms flood Southern Alberta. In 2005 it wasn’t even CLOSE to this bad; in just 8 years, it is at least 3 times worse than the last “worst flood in history”. Just a few weeks ago EnCana opened the doors to “The Bow”, its premiere head office- they mention its construction in Burning Water.  Just a few weeks ago I was joking in a post that I would dance on its ruin and explaining that it is symbolic with all that is wrong with our culture.  I had no idea it would be evacuated and shutdown due to flooding, who would have? Who could possibly have ever imagined flooding so widespread, in the middle of the Alberta prairies?  After 118 years of relentlessly burning fossil fuels, and 8 years since our last water disaster, we have still learned nothing.

This isn’t a Calgary problem, its a global cultural problem. Our society is fatally flawed and if we carry on our current path we will destroy ourselves. As individuals we put ourselves first, because no one else will. In this age of luxury and technological advancement we are led down the rabbit hole of capitalistic greed. We get caught up in the nine-to-five, comparing our cars and our clothes and our houses and we forget that nature can take it all away in a heartbeat when it’s time to pay your debt.

It’s why I keep talking about the water issues, even though I know most people are content to justify their apathy. I understand entirely the temptation of pretty things, I battle with my materialistic, consumer side every day. I understand wanting to make some money to put yourself through school, or support your family. Temptation is always there but we must not gorge ourselves, lest our swollen bellies burst. Some of the most expensive real estate in the oil capital of Canada is now underwater.  Regular home insurance won’t cover it, millions of dollars of damage has been done. You might not realize it’s karma coming when she gets you, but it is. Everything will balance in the end.  This disaster has galvanized an already strong community and Calgary will rebuild, rebound and be reinvigorated.  Mayor Nenshi even says we can do it in time for Stampede!

Will Calgary really change? Not anytime soon. Sure it will rebuild and get back to business, but real change?   No.  It’s not just Calgary that needs to change, though certainly we have dug in our heels determinedly pushing for “economic value ” of the oil sands. Environmentalist friends (friend?) lets not delude ourselves. Prime Minister Harper “knows this is not what the rivers are supposed to look like” because he used to live here, and he took a helicopter tour so he could REALLY TELL. Premier Redford said something so dull I couldn’t even quote her, in the meantime her ex-husband represents the Defendants in Jessica Ernst’s million dollar lawsuit [Ernst v. EnCana, Energy Resource Conservation Board, Her Magistey the Queen in Right of Alberta] which has just been delayed again, because back in February Mr. Harper called the Justice hearing the matter up to a higher court. Quite convenient. Jessica goes back to phase ONE of her litigation- an application to rule whether an Albertan citizen even has the right to sue her government for failing to uphold its own regulatory standards when a corporations experimental CBM exploration destroyed the her Aquifer and contaminated drinking water in the vallye. Despite the fact she’s been dealing with this for a decade Encana hasn’t even so much as had to put forward their Statement of Defence, thanks to the legal gymnastics of a team of government lawyers. What did she expect suing the government and the corporation that pays the government’s salaries? I Nothing less, but that’s the point.  It seems an unattainable goal, to change the landscape of our intertwined government and corporate world, which is all the more reason why we must fight so hard.  I love it, Jessica is an absolute champion, she know’s what she’s up against here, the dynasty of conservative Alberta politics and the oil empire. The most important thing at this point is to spread awareness, add your voice on Alberta Voices and check out Jessica Ernst’s website.

For everyone who has suffered at the hands of nature; whether you have lost your home, your family, your friends, your pets or your life, know that the strength of an entire country is behind you.  For everyone standing on the edge of the storm waters, asking yourself, “how could this possibly have happened?”, do not forget that question when the flood waters recede.  This is a warning, a wake-up, a call to arms.  How could this possibly have happened?  In 118 years, just 18 years longer than the world famous Calgary Stampede has run, we have burned though more than half of the world’s oil reserves, the half that was easy to get to.  Now we use techniques more dangerous than ever before to extract oil, or natural gas, and the price we will pay if we continue to do so is honestly unimaginable.  How can we be so arrogant as to think what we do to one part of the earth will not have an effect elsewhere?

Take a rock.

Now smash it with a hammer.

Will the rock ever mend itself?

Will the cracks meld together and reform?

Of course not.

Once broken, the rock breaks down more.

It does not heal.

Imagine giving a company the power to drill hundreds of thousands of wells, to allow them to send seismic explosions though underground rock formations to release gas.  Imagine trucking in thousands of gallons of water to wash down the hole, mixed with trade-protected chemical “frac fluids”, to pump up a minuscule amount of natural gas in comparison.  Though I believe the only way forward is to end reliance on fossil fuels, I recognize that it will be a lengthy endeavor to get there.  It is absolute madness, however, to contaminate thousands of gallons of water and pump it into the ground, for only a minimal return.  The amount of gas wasted on tanker trucks bringing in the water to each CBM sight probably negates the “gain” even further.  Imagine a government that streamlines this process, so that companies never have to release the composition of those frac-fluids, and so the company can never be found guilty based on the lack of evidence.  Imagine a government giving the power to review cases like Jessica Ernst’s, or my family’s, to a SINGLE regulator with absolute power, appointed by whom? Harper? Redford?  Imagine for a moment that this goes too far, that companies like Encana are allowed to continue their assault on the water system.  Safeway was selling flats of water for $60 because of a weekend of flooding.  Imagine what will happen if our water supply is truly compromised?

Calgary pride’s itself on a sense of community and western spirit.  Coming home to the yyc airport compared to Amsterdam, I welcomed the sight of white hats and friendly faces eager to help.. because really, that’s what Calgary is all about, helping one another.  We see that now more than ever as the community bands together in this state of emergency, but we must take care to see the larger picture.  To live contextually and understand that we must actively plan for future generations, rather than blindly barrel forward with dollar signs in our eyes.

Money means nothing when the water comes and goes.

Calgary floods

Its been difficult to get new photos lately due to the fact its been raining for weeks (I’ve been super busy too) I missed most of it while gallivanting in beautiful Denmark, but this last week has been rather damp. I don’t mind, I love the water, love the rain, but it can stop anytime now. If you haven’t heard Calgary is underwater- at least the neighborhoods close to either of the two rivers that run though the city. Normally I complain about how much I miss living in Mission, by the Elbow River, but I’m glad I live on a hill now! I went for a run tonight despite the rain (there’s a trail that overlooks the river) and saw the flooding for myself. Bowness and Montgomery, the area behind me in both shots, are flooded. The water has risen at least 10 feet I would say, its nearly touching the bottom of this bridge I’m standing on, the homes behind me are flooded, and the water is still rising. There is widespread flooding and residents are being evacuated in Calgary, Canmore and High River. I feel terrible for the thousands of people who are out of their homes, and the millions of dollar in damage. At this point though, I kinda wish the law firm I worked for was downtown so I could have the time off work! (I’m kidding, because it would actually be a giant pain and I like my job!)

Keep Calgary in your thoughts and let me know which outfit you prefer, click to to see the full posts, and leave your vote below for your favourite!\

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on a normal spring day, the river is full but safe,  by June 21, 2013, flood water has risen and is nearly touching the bottom of the bridges.

bowness

full post – animal insticts

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flooding in Montgomery and Bowness is extensive, water has risen to the level of the bridges, leaving tree and rooftops tops poking out of rushing water

bowness

Edgy animal print or sweet white lace, which style do you prefer? Thanks for reading,

xo, aiyanajane

 

vine, anyone?

do you vine, anyone?  I just got this app and I can already tell, I’m obsessed.. you might say it’s “de vine”.

Puns aside, come find me @aiyanajane and be sure to comment below with your user name if you already have an account!  If you don’t, you should download it.  Vine is basically if youtube was mixed with twitter and instagram.  It creates 6 second clips by shooting short segments and looping them together.  Kinda like a GIF.  Perfect for Outfit of the Day posts and cute animals!  (Of course, I’m on board, its all my favourite things packaged to fit my short attention span!) Its pretty cool, at least I think so.. and you can link to (or login with) your twitter or facebook account which makes it super easy.  While I have you here, follow me on twitter, instagram and like my Facebook page. Darlings, please, stroke my social media ego and make me like it.  😉

Seriously what did people do to kill time while avoiding work (or human interaction) before social media became a thing?  Kisses, and have good work week my lovelies!

xo, aiyanajane

Europe >>>>> Canada

danish style

DK style

leather jacket, sandals, blouse by LeCHATEAU  || printed leggings THRIFTED  || bag by CO-LAB

Simple look today for shopping in Vejle – printed leggings, a tunic and sandals. Stole these sunnies from little bro, and he already called me out on it!    This is my absolute favourite leather jacket, another super good deal from my time working in le shithole. Shop similar here and here.

travel the world

 

 The best part about traveling is seeing how different everything is from home. Well… best and worst, because though I live in Calgary, I spare the place little affection, and am planning on leaving at the earliest possible juncture.  Being in Europe with my grandparents, who immigrated here shortly after they were married, really makes me question their decision making skills.  Possibly because Calgary is one of the ugliest cities with its disgusting urban sprawl of suburban cookie-cutter homes and at the center of it, the oil giants monolithic structures looming over the “landmark” Calgary tower.  The biggest one of all (boasting to be the largest Canadian structure West of Toronto) The Bow, is home of Encana Corp and perfectly representative of every single thing in Calgary that I absolutely LOATHE- particularly the company that resides within. If it crumbled to the ground I would do a happy-dance on the ruin, no word of a lie. Compared to home everything in Denmark just seems infinitely more charming, with their cobblestone streets, beautiful boutiques and stunning architecture. (Oh, and no well-sites dotting every inch of the countryside… sorry guys, but I just read the latest from Harper on the Keystone Pipeline and have been extremely angry ever since… OH, AND… just after typing that, I read confirmation that his election was rigged.  I hate you Harper, I hate you Canadian Politics!) Okay, back to the point.. 

   I find it funny – whenever I go anywhere, or tell anyone where I am from – the comment I ALWAYS get is “you don’t look like your from here” (even when I’m walking around Calgary!) interestingly enough people often guess Toronto, so apparently I look like I’m from Toronto …which I am not.

TORONTO style

Visiting Toronto in 2010 with my Mom – we were there for the film fest,  presenting the CBC documentary, Burning Water,  if you would like to understand source of my political rage please check out the link at the top of the page for more info, or go to  Rosebud’s Burning Water.

My home is actually a little farm, but I don’t look very farm-girly either.  I sometimes think that maybe I don’t look like I’m from “here” (where ever that may be) because I don’t feel like I’m from “here”.  My grandparents are Danish and  my mother emigrated from Scotland, so I was raised by Europeans living in Canada.  If the above rant didn’t tip you off, I have approximately zero pride in being Canadian… it’s not that I hate our country, in fact I love the land more than anything.  I hate what we are doing to our land in the name of energy progress, what we have done and continue to do to the natives of this land, our justification of our actions, our cultural apathy, our government, and our winters.  Being proud of your nationality is like being proud of your race or skin color –  I didn’t choose to be born here, I have done nothing to contribute to Canada, and thus, feel no nationalistic feelings of pride.  When I look at the people who do represent Canada, like Harper, or Redford, or the many examples of ignorant racists among my acquaintances I feel less than hopeful.  At my brothers graduation I laughed a little to myself at the very few people who joined in mumbling the words to the national anthem, while mentally comparing it to the Americans belting out the Star Spangled Banner with such vigor.  It seemed to me that I am not the only one with so little pride in our home and native land. (More like our home and stolen-from-the-natives-but-we-don’t-like-admitting-it land.)

North Americans often express the sentiment that Europeans “think they’re better than everyone” sorry to break it to you, but that’s because they probably are.  See in Europe, they’ve kinda run out of space, they’ve been around a little longer, and they understand what it means to have to actually PLAN for future generations.  Canada (and America) were taken way back in the day by the Europeans who wanted MORE.. and thus the foundation of our nations is the desire for MORE than is rightfully ours. Greed can easily go un-checked when you have the one of the largest, most sparsely populated countries in the world combined with massive energy source deposits of oil and natural gas, right next door to the biggest military power in the world.

The moral of this story is I have been reading the news (which never works out well for me) and I may not ever be coming home.  

xo, aiyanajane

Things in my life are currently going swimmingly

Admittedly, the photo is not current. We were filling up the pool and too impatient to wait.   I was really excited to have these sunglasses, I miss them.

Admittedly, the photo is not current. We were filling up the pool and too impatient to wait. I was really excited to have these sunglasses, I miss them.

I like to use that phrase because I really like swimming cause its super good for you, and my exercise/therapy of choice. (I credit it with healing my pelvis post-haste!) When I say something is going “swimmingly”  most people give me a rather dry look.  Whatever, some people find no amusement in such things as silly expressions, enjoy your boring lives.

Today, I am proud, and excited to say I am officially done college! You are looking at a real life Legal Administrative Assistant.  I didn’t really seek out the typical college experience, I took a quick course and I loved it.  I got an early practicum back in January, and since finishing it, have been working (like, for money) in a law firm. So far, so good.  One thing about blogging that actually surprised me is how many of my favorite bloggers are also lawyers.  I think because of the commitment a blog takes (used to those long hours) and the need for a creative outlet after so much… law.   How amazing would it be to work for Jenny, or a lawyer to be like Courtney? Everyone says I should go to law school, but the time.. and the loans.. THE COST!  Too much for me, so I’m a lawyers go-to-girl instead.  I had a job 5 months after starting my course, rather than after years of school and tons debt.  I like to live vicariously though them, I dream of running off to LA or NYC all the time.  Usually LA wins the mental battle royale because they don’t have snow there… its snowing in Alberta today.  Thankfully for me, I only have one more day in this  godforsaken province and then off to Denmark with my grandparents to visit our family, I’m especially excited to be reunited with the beautiful Andrea!  Currently last minute packing and procrastinating as always.  I will try to post a little while away, but it is a vacation!

Before I get to jet set away tomorrow my youngest brother graduates from high school.  I would not say I am looking forward to enduring the long ceremony, but we’re pretty proud, so I’ll make an appearance I guess.  I mean really, if he had failed, we would all have pretended not to be related to him, cause it is just high school, but still.. it’s a momentous occasion, especially since he’s the youngest. I’ll share some photos after – homeboy is reppin’ the kilt and I cannot wait to see it.  If only I could stop over to see my family in Scotland while across the pond.  Can’t have it all I suppose!

xo, aiyanajane

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ONE Year Later

Guys, its been ONE YEAR since I started my blog.

blessing in disguiseI was going to make this a far more upbeat post and then look what happened in Boston. Not making for an upbeat Aiyana. Also lets get real here, I’m still pretty emotionally unbalanced from the whole unexpectedly-single thing and I’m just not up for pretending to be one of those super happy go lucky bloggers today. Sometimes I feel like I should just write what I really feel everyday, but then I remember that The Bloggess has that niche pretty well covered but she’s WAY funnier than I am because she buys giant chickens and names them Beyonce and I’m just pessimistic and broke from my shopping addiction. So mostly I post outfit photos because people are way more interested in that than they are in self pity. Rightly so, I mean really who wants to hear it? But unfortunately for you I broke my camera, so self pity is all I got.

Sometimes I feel like ALL I DO is complain on here about the latest thing, but this entire last year has literally been one. thing. after. another.  ALL YEAR. I would refer you to my first post, and would like you to note that I am still pretty much just as angry about it now.  I actually started blogging because while being an outlet for my anger in some ways, it also forces me to stay positive (or at least, compose a positive post) and it occupies my time.  See, if given time to dwell, I tend to get depressed.  What happened in Boston is a perfect example.  What happened in Stuebenville. What happens every day all over the world. If given the time to think about what happened to me today, or last week, or last year, or five years ago- I will sit, and I will dwell and I will cry.  I’m pretty sure today alone I’ve broken down in tears at least ten times.  Sometimes there are just so many things wrong in the world I can’t help it.

The main reason I started a blog, is because I have always felt, even from a young age, compelled to write.  To write is to convert emotion to language that a man who has never before felt it can understand.  How best to choose the words to explain a thing like love, or senseless hate?  For me, writing has always been an emotional process, it is an expulsion of feeling in the written form, it is therapy.

It’s something I’ve struggled with this whole year of posting.  In some ways, this blog is therapy, which is not always pretty.  I try to stay positive because for one thing, really, I KNOW NO ONE wants to hear my shit… but sometimes that’s why I have to blog it. In this last year my life has been changing non-stop and I have been burning out and going crazy and trying to get by. Its been really hard and I have needed an outlet and I am thankful for all my lovely readers who put up with it.  

I’ve had a very painful year of what I would consider to be personal betrayals and downright bad luck. First, I was lied to by my supervisors for months prior to being laid off at the last legal moment, after working for le chateau for over 3 years. I was laid off because they were closing that store. (Recently I discovered that in fact, it has been renovated and is reopened. Another giant slap in the face, but whatever.) I started the blog, then my laptop immediately broke because I couldn’t afford a new one, so I used my then boyfriends computer.  He did not clear his browser history prior to giving me his password and as a result, I accidentally learned he was contacting “undesirables” (shall we call them) via craigslist.  Quite delightful.  After five years together, I moved out and moved home. A few weeks later, while riding a horse my friend had been having problems with, my pelvis was broken when she reared and landed on me, leaving me bedridden and unable to work (or do anything else) all summer long.  My champagne birthday was spent sans champagne with family and a few close friends, just a few days after being released from the hospital.  Two weeks after my accident, my high school “best friend” and I got into an argument which ended our friendship.  It wasn’t until the blatant hypocrisy of the situation came to light, that I realized our friendship would only be filled with pain until she could confront her own issues, that I decided the fight was no longer worth it.  Because of my injury I had to withdraw from SAIT and instead, enrolled in the LAA program at Robertson College. When I moved back to Calgary for school, (I thought) I made it clear to the guy I was seeing how difficult it would be to continue our relationship and that I would not be coming back, but he was quite convincing that we could make it work.  I moved to the city in with a family friend… who is actually, literally, certifiable.  I had to move out abruptly, I couldn’t follow her ever-changing rules for cleanliness, the schedule for the cats, or pretty much anything else. Really she just needed her own space, which is okay, I just would have preferred not to have been subjected to months of Nazi cleanliness inspections only to be kicked out on a whim.  Another blow, but I picked up moved again (into a spare storage room, boo yah) with my best friend. I landed an early practicum and completed it by going to school in the mornings, then working off my practicum hours in the afternoon. When I was officially offered a position in the Firm I was very excited, then he told me by text two days later that he was having a hard time staying committed and that with our jobs it was too hard to see me. I’ve never been dumped before, but out of the blue, via text, because of getting a job seems like a pretty shitty first experience to me.  Then Boston got bombed and it somehow didn’t matter as much, and at the same time it started hurting even more because the world can seem like such a senseless place.

The thing about the world is, it keeps going.  We keep going.

So… that’s pretty much where I’m at. All this year though I have been telling myself that maybe its just a year of bad karma or something, actually, I’ve been kinda clinging to it- that it will be one year! Anyways, if my theory holds (and it will damn you!) according to this sign, which marks the beginning of the year of the terrible things, April 13, 2013 should be the end of it. So I am counting on things getting better from here on out.  Power of positive thinking people. Apparently that works.

thanks for reading my loves. tomorrow is another day .

xo, AIYANAJANE

Pray for Boston

“If nothing saves us from death, may love at least save us from life.”      – Pablo Neruda

find beauty knowing that while tearing us apart, tragedy forces us together

Click to Read – National Post Article – Explosions at Boston Marathon Finish Line

Tragedy will blow through our lives like a tornado, uprooting everything, creating chaos.  You wait for the dust to settle and then you choose.  You can live in the wreckage and pretend its still the mansion you remember, or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild.  Because after disaster strikes, the important thing is to move on.     – v. mars

The world is broken is so many ways, when you look at the large scale it can seem hopeless and impossible to change.  We must find in the moment, the strength to realize that each of us has power, we need only dare act. The people of Boston proved their strength today as they banded together to help the wounded. The world keeps Boston in their prayers tonight, but bear in mind that for many, a street bombing is regular part of daily life.  At some point, collectively we need to stop and ask ourselves if the path we are on is the right one.  We can fool ourselves into believing that life gets easier, but you would be wise to accept that from the moment you are born you can be certain of only a single thing; that one day you will die, everything that lies between is up to you. Hold yourself accountable, be the change you wish to see in the world. 

xo, aiyanajane

Happy Easter from Cedric Bunny!

Happy Easter from Cedric Diggory & City Style Country Smile

Happy Easter to all of you lovely readers, I hope your weekend is full of family, food, and snuggles… but most importantly, a ton of chocolate!  This is about 1/100th of my Cedric pictures… I tell people I am obsessed with him, but I’m quite certain they don’t fully understand the level of my devotion. Everyone who meets him says he’s the nicest bunny ever- I try to explain that all bunnies have the potential to be this nice, you just have to spend every waking moment with them! Legit a dwarf bunny is the best pet you can have as a transient student like myself.   So many people get a cat or dog without realizing the commitment or damage they can cause- get a bunny, all the fluffy goodness, no vocalizations and they live in a cage and can be litter trained! I’m so thankful for Cedric every single day and with it being Easter I figured what better time than to share an excessive amount of Cedric Diggory photos?! 

Have a wonderful Easter weekend my lovelies!

xo, aiyanajane

Steubenville + Social Media- we are all victims

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for the latest social outrage.

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – big red football players sentenced as juveniles for RAPE of West Virginia minor.

IF YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE CASE READ THIS NY TIMES ARTICLE, OR FOR MORE  DETAILED COVERAGE SEE PRINNEFIED – THE BLOGGER WHO USED HER SOCIAL MEDIA SLEUTHING SKILLS TO PIECE TOGETHER (TWEET BY TWEET) THE EVENTS OF THAT NIGHT. MORE HERE.

Defendant remarks to the presiding Judge:

“I would truly like to apologize to [her], her family, my family, and the community.  Those pictures shouldn’t have been sent around, let alone even taken. That’s all sir, thank you.” – Trent Mays

“I would like to apologize to you…  I had no intention to do anything like that and I’m sorry to put you guys through this and I just… [crying].. I just want you to realize that I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I know I ruined her life” – Ma’Lik Richmond

The boys, who will get credit for time served, were sentenced on Sunday, March 17, 2013 – Mays to a minimum of two years in juvenile jail, one year for rape, and one year for illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. Ma’Lik Richmond was sentenced to a minimum one year for rape.  

  What really shocked the world about this case, beyond their abhorrent and disgusting actions, was the brazen way they flaunted their crime. That combined with the fact that a great deal of witnesses failed to ever intervene or help the girl. In this case, the bystander effect is being digitally amplified through social media; re-tweets if you will, not an original action.  With the amount of social media kids are using these days, and the tendency to over-share without thinking of the long consequences, naturally the first thing they did when they saw something so shocking was to instantly share that with their friends through text and social media. Likely not realizing that any electronic record can never be  deleted with certainty.

while she lay unconscious, PARTY GOERS FLOCKED TO TWITTER:

Souce: http://prinniefied.com

Bystanders took videos and uploaded them to YouTube, the most famous of which, features Micheal Nodianos (below) joking about the assault & has over a million views.  

The victim was so intoxicated the defendants had to hold her up on the way to the car as they transported her from venue to venue.   Mark Cole, a friend of Mays, testified that he took a video of an assault which occurred during the drive to his home, then later deleted it… more The young victim was assaulted by multiple attackers in at least two locations over the course of the evening, though a great deal of what truly happened remains unclear. Barely coherent for the walk to the car, the West Virginia girl passes out unconscious in the back of a car while being transported to a another house party, where she is brutally assaulted by football star quarterback, Trent Mays.

Text message transcripts were used as damning evidence.

A photo of the two boys, carrying an unconscious girl by the arms and legs, and grinning as if they had just shot the trophy buck, also surfaced. The defendants claim this photo is a joke, that the girl was pretending to be unconscious for the picture and it was all in good fun. The victim testified that she had almost no memory of the night other than leaving a party holding Mays hand and vomiting, but woke up the next morning in a strange house missing her personal effects, including underwear and cell phone.  In the messages, video and tweets from that night, the victim is consistently referred to by the perpetrators and their friends as “dead” or “dead body”.  Step one in victim blaming complete- dehumanization.

 Both defendants were charged with rape by digital penetration, Mays was also charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material. The defendants maintain their innocence,  but the Judge deemed them both juvenile delinquents (an apparently important distinction from guilty) thanks to testimony from the other boys involved that night – three of their team mates were granted immunity for their part in the events of that August night.

(Text message transcripts can be found here, I would caution that they are upsetting.) 

Cody Saltsman to Trent Mays:

u better check jane doe. SHE’S TELLIN PEOPLE SHE GOT DRUGGED

Trent Mays to Evan Westlake:

Deleate that off You-tube. Coach Sac knows about it. Seriously delete it.

Evan Westlake:
Deny to the grave.
Trent Mays:

Her dad knows, and if our names get brought up,

if asked, SHE WAS JUST REALLY DRUNK.

Trent Mays:
They knew she stayed at Mark’s. You just gotta say she was asleep by the time you got there.
Trent Mays to Cody Saltsman:
Nodi’s running his mouth saying how dead she was. If anyone asks, we just took her to Mark’s, and she fell asleep.
Trent Mays to Mark Cole:
Just say she passed out at your house if anyone asks.
Mark Cole:

” IDK SHE WAS FUCKED UP.   

IT WAS HER FAULT SHE WAS FUCKED UP.”

While both Richmond and Mays have been charged with rape by digital penetration (finger banging as the kids these days call it) the recovered text messages and tweets imply it was a great deal more than just a hand up the skirt – penetration, urination and sodomy. Their sentences, handed down to the delinquent juveniles (not guilty men) are remarkably lax; one year, including time served, and out by 21. Basically 5 years at the very most. Good behavior and they’ll be out before they turn 18. A hand up the skirt and a slap on the wrist; boys will be boys after all! Ah, the sweet smell of justice in the morning! 

Yet CNN spends its entire 6 minute report discussing how HORRIBLE it is that for the rest of their lives, these boys will be convicted sex offenders, after an ALCOHOL fueled night. Please CNN, do you really believe that, is that the America you know and love? Note how Mays only apologized for the photographs, barely even managing to sound sincere, undoubtedly his lawyer has counseled him to admit nothing. Mays seemed to know, from reading the transcripts of texts he sent to his friends, that what he had done was wrong; he instructs friends on what to say, tells them to delete the evidence.  Mays knows he’s caught and tries to save himself using very technology that ends up being the final nail in his coffin.  Clearly that will not stop him from hiring the best lawyer possible to argue that the photo was staged, the girl had given prior consent, she was conscious and consenting and those good old boys had just tried to help that poor slutty drunk girl out. Honest.

Already the gears of justice are turning as the defense for May’s tries to subpoena “friends” of the victim to testify about her “lies” and “excessive drinking”.  Slowed a little by the fact that she lives just across state lines in West Virginia, surely the Ohio lawyers will find a way to get their clients out post-haste. Out, as if their maximum sentence of just UNDER FIVE YEARS (until they turn 21) is some unbearably long time for these poor boys to suffer. Imagine watching the CNN news report if the victim was your daughter, or sister, or mother. Or god forbid that it was you. Would a maximum of five years seem like justice?  If you are a rapist sympathizer, take a minute to think about the way that girl will be forever effected by this, then step into traffic.

The primary and key distinguishing factor in this clear case of RAPE CULTURE is  SOCIAL MEDIA

This is hardly the first time a superstar athlete has assaulted someone, Kobe Bryant anyone? Settled in civil court before the criminal trial.   In other words, money and a “sincere” apology are typically enough to get away with rape.  Athlete’s are absolutely idolized, and it has become a recurring theme that the football player can rape a drunk cheerleader and we can all just have a big laugh about it. Umpteen reasons can be found to explain why those victims deserved what they got or brought it upon themselves. When we try to explain why these boys did it the primary defense is they didn’t know they had done anything wrong.

THEY DIDN’T KNOW THEY HAD DONE ANYTHING WRONG. Whether this is true or not, how is it possibly considered a reasonable defense?  The fact is rape culture permeates to a level that these boys are surely convinced of their own innocence.  In the text message they tell themselves “it was her fault, it didn’t happen”.  Its is my personal belief that they knew, and possibly even relished the fact that what they were doing was wrong in the moment.

Historically athletes have been given special treatment by the justice system, there is undoubtedly a social bias, so many millions of people LOVE sports. It doesn’t matter where you go in the universe, men are discussing sporting events.  We give young men these superstar athletes to look up to, then we give them the message that they are above the law. I asked my boyfriend what he could tell me about Kobe Bryant- apparently out with a rolled ankle at the moment but having a good season. I’m certain anything to do with rape was the farthest thing from his mind as he rattled off the stats to me. Its a good thing Kobe, and the rest of the world, managed to put the trouble of those rape accusations behind him, you know it really could have ruined his life forever…

In the past, convictions have been very rare, even coverage of similar incidents has been comparatively minimal.   Initially the boys football coach (Coach Sac, referenced above) was the one intended to “discipline” the boys.  Throughout the case police were accused of not taking the investigation seriously enough, it wasn’t until a social media expert and crime blogger, plus the rest of the twitter-sphere, took to their keyboards to sound off on the sickening miscarriage of justice that the charges were laid.  Without the damning tweets, photos and texts, its likely that what happened to the 16 year old girl would have never even been reported – let alone tried and convicted – and the boys would have carried on their marry way, just like generations of date-rape athletes before them.

Are sports to blame?

In a word, NO. Sports are enjoyed across the globe, you know what isn’t? Rape.  The problem isn’t with sports, its with the failure of the justice system to remain impartial when it comes to prosecuting rapists. It doesn’t matter if he was a quarterback, wide receiver, a point guard, power forward or a fucking fencer.  First and foremost, what we need to accept and verbally acknowledge, is that their identity goes beyond the sport they play right down into that place called individuality, where you are accountable for you’re own actions and expected to conduct yourself within a moral code. Failure to abide by the laws of society should result in equal punishment for all.  Regardless of their fantasy league stats.

Can we entirely blame these young men for not knowing where to toe the line?  At 16 these boys already are hopped up on a cocktail of hormones, give them the home town football hero status, add some alcohol and they believe they can do anything.   Next mix in a bunch of teenage girls, all wanting to be popular and pretty and jacked up on so many hormones that even repellent 16 year old boys like Trent Mays or Ma’Lik Richmond seem nice.   These boys KNOW all the girls want them, they know that any girl who gets to be with them should count herself as lucky.   These girls KNOW the boys could choose whichever girl they would like to date, but are they pretty enough? Skinny enough? Funny enough? Could they be GOOD ENOUGH to have the honor of dating the quarterback? There is stiff competition, so maybe if they drink a little they will be interesting and cool enough.  At that age, hormones do not allow you to always act rationally, particularly once alcohol enters into the mix.  It is a tragedy that things this despicable can happen (and it happens every single day) but when we see extreme cases like this, one can’t help but ask themselves, why? How could this possibly have happened?

the boys are victims too, of a  far greater crime – RAPE CULTURE

It hurts everyone, it effects everyone.  Male or female, victim or perpetrator, lives are forever changed when rape is committed.  What most people are asking themselves is where the blame really lies?  A small town is divided between home team loyalty, and an assault so senseless it almost seems unimaginable.

When taken literally, the answer is obvious- the blame lies with the boys for committing such atrocities against an unconscious victim.  Regardless of how much victim-blaming, dehumanizing spin you put on it,  they performed sexual acts on minor unable to consent.  Unquestionably wrong, and ruled as such by a Judge.

When we look at the big picture, does the CNN style of minimizing their crimes as help anyone?  If we are to believe their Oscar worthy performances in the courtroom these boys are devastated by their actions. While I may doubt their sincerity (and humanity) I do not entirely blame them for those actions.  If you never had a teenage night of drinking that got a bit out of control, you are one of the few.  Men like these are monsters of society’s making. By idolizing them (and for only a game) we put them on a pedestal to be admired, above the rest of us. Is it a wonder that they come to believe they are above the law as well?  Drinking is against the law for minors, text messaging while driving, speeding, rolling through a stop sign – little laws that get broken all the time, especially by rebellious teenagers.  What is one more little law, especially when Marijuana possession is taken more seriously by law enforcement than date rape.

The problem with rape cases is that its often only about he-said/she-said, heard in a man’s world. There is constant victim blaming, perpetuating the idea that the victims choices could have prevented the assault: what she wore, how drunk she was, she has a reputation for lying, she wanted it, she liked it, she gave him prior permission.  Basically if you are raped, ask yourself- what minuscule choice could you have made over the course of the evening (red shoes, what were you thinking you slut?!) that sent the message “please sexually assault me” if you can’t think of anything, just ask someone you know, male or female and they could probably tell you where you went wrong.  Then don’t talk about it ever again, because talking about rape makes people uncomfortable, and we all know you actually just wanted the attention anyways.

In our society, we teach our daughters not to get raped, rather than teaching our sons, do not rape.  Women are expected to be constantly on the look-out, like prey watching for the proverbial hawk waiting to swoop down upon us.  Men are taught boundaries, certainly no one says; “sure son, you go get your rape on, just be back in time for dinner!” We all KNOW that RAPE is WRONG but are then sent confusing messages because of media coverage like CNN’s which minimizes any effect on the actual victim of the crime and instead parades the guilty like some kind of martyr for going to juvie for a year.  Its a joke, and no one finds it funny anymore.

I regularly think about the double edged sword of social media – everything is available instantly, but its also available forever, despite how fleeting it may be in the moment.  Every keystroke of our online lives can be traced by the techno-savvy, the most inadvertent Facebook post these days can cost you a job. Nude photo’s can never be un-leaked.  In this case, despite how sad it is for the victim and her family, the level of exposure through social media may be the only reason she was able to find justice. 

As a woman with major involvement in social media, a blogger living in a rape culture dominated world, I worry sometimes about attracting unwanted attention but refuse to live in fear of what might happen. I suppose if someone decides to stalk me and turn me into a skin lamp that this blog will be combed by experts and the fact that sometimes I wore see-through tops just meant I had really nice skin for turning into furnishings. (If you don’t get the Hannibal reference, I give up on you.)

Standing up and speaking out are the most important things we can do to end sexual violence. While I cannot imagine the devastation of having such an assault shared with the world, the good that has come from it is at least it has opened up a global forum on the issue. I woke up this morning all set to edit photos, instead I spent literally the entire morning bawling while reading though every article I could find, and the rest of the day composing this monstrously long post. I started at 9 am, and it is now nearly after 3 am the next morning. I know I get wordy, its my crux to bear, but this post was particularly difficult to keep short and sweet.  My absolutely heart breaks for this girl. Initially I wasn’t even going to post anything on the blog, but I felt so upset and hopeless reading this case, comments on articles, and imagining how much worse the assault really was, I felt like I needed to take this poison and anger that filled my stomach and turn it into vitriolic words to be forever immortalized online. After all, what else does our generation know how to do but document the important things in our lives and then share our opinion with the entire internet?

Thank you so much for reading, stay safe for me, and remember to be beautiful on the inside. To every single Jane (or John) Doe out there, know that you are not alone, not defined by and not broken by your experience. You matter, what happened to you matters, and don’t every let anyone tell you otherwise. The can dehumanize you, blame you, take your body, your innocence, your life, but they cannot take everything. Do not let anyone diminish your spirit. Stay strong, I love you.

xo, aiyanajane

Let your voice be heard – check out Project Unbreakable, started back in October of 2011 by Grace Brown, who photographs victims holding quotes from their attackers.

project unbreakable tumblr

 If you actually made it to the end of this post and were moved please reblog or share to the social media account of your choice- click the  social media logo buttons below or paste this URL http://wp.me/p2mS6O-H8

Jane Doe, who’s legal counsel is acting pro bono, asked that any donations be sent to Madden House instead.. more

Snow Leopard &

5 INANE (but somewhat relevant) facts about me…

When I get dressed I feel like every outfit has its own story, a memory attached, a character to play. The story is what turns your clothing into your style and everyone can read it. Its who you are for the day to every passing stranger making up stories in their minds. Just think of the places you could have been in other people’s imagination. Anyways, this outfit is a favourite story of mine… facts below.

xo aiyanajane

wearing all le chateau and a DIY WRAP WATCH

  1.  I am obsessed with teal! Teal, turquoise, bluish-green.. whatever you want to call it, its my very favourite color, that gorgeous ocean blue! It makes me wish I was back in the Dominican this March rather than being stuck in Calgary. There is another snow storm currently in progress and I am less than impressed… which brings me to facto numero.. 
  2.  I loathe snow. Straight up my greatest ambition, right after the hobbit house, is to move somewhere where it snows from very little to not at all. I like summer and water and warm. Not snow and ice, except of course, for Game of Thrones, AMIRITE?!   I’m not even linking it because if you don’t know about it by now you live under a rock. Season three starts on the 31st of March, which gives you plenty of time to marathon the first two seasons if you start now.  I recommend the books as well but I would be very impressed if someone managed to finish them between now and the season premier, that would be a LOT of reading. I mean A LOT. Anyways obviously, I am ridiculously excited about it! RIDICULOUSLY. I’m kind of a nerd.
  3. One of my other favourite things is leopard print, which I literally post on at least a monthly basis…  Regardless, these pony hair kitten heels are my absolute go to for city style! They have this moda-reflex technology which is supposedly the bomb, combined with the low heel they are very comfortable. Plus they go with everything and make it instantly 8 times cooler. That’s a fact. The pashmina combines two of my favourite things and add’s a nice pop of color to an otherwise neutral outfit.
  4. Skinny jeans or leggings and an oversized sweater is another go-to. The hybrid counterpart “jeggings” are what I’m wearing here. Remember when jegging’s came out? I made fun of them SO HARD, I’m actually pretty sure an exact quote was “Who the expletive would EVER buy expletiving jeggings?!” Well  these were ten dollars and I realized that really, jeggings are the best efffing thing since sliced bread. They are comfy and tight like leggings, but warm and thick like jeans. I wear one of the family (jean, legging, jegging) on a daily basis when Calgary hits its coldest ( FYI: it drops to more than -40°c sometimes) Thankfully it’s not nearly that cold now. I borrowed the sweater I’m wearing from my roomie/BFF. For the longest time, we were scared to live together because you know, it really can ruin friendships…like, FOREVER. Anyways I was in a pinch and she stepped up and its been amazing! We borrow each others things and cook together, and sit on the internet together. Its quite lovely because we are more like family than friends anyways. I love her the most. She took some amazing photos for the blog which I will put up soon!
  5. Another thing about me, I love DIY’s mostly because I am hella cheap to buy the real thing!  In the summer when I broke my pelvis and all I could do was surf the web and watch movies I found this La Mer Charm Watch that I could not stop obsessing over. I mean, I NEEDED IT. Except for I had ZERO money and so I crafted an alternative for less than $30. I’m extremely happy with it compared to the nearly $200.00 price tag of some of the La Mer ones.. (Which I still kind of want, but now I’m learning more towards a rose gold marc jacobs… in my dreams, hah.) My ring is a Celtic symbol which means mother, daughter, grandmother, I got it visiting my mother’s family in Scotland when we went there in 2008. My ultimate dream DIY, as mentioned above, is building my own hobbit house. SERIOUSLY.

thank you for reading my pretties… 😉

Be Mine

ALONE AGAIN ON VALENTINE’S DAY?

don’t sit around & cry over it, dedicate the day to YOU!

Rather than waste your time, energy and emotion on focusing what you do not have (in this case, somebody to love) this Valentine’s Day pledge to love yourself.

Valentine’s Day may be the ultimate Hallmark Holiday, but it seems to me that many people let it get to them a great deal more than it should- either with ridiculously high expectations, or a profound hatred for the day, which everyone attributes to said person being bitter and alone, anyways.

 The point being, take a moment to imagine the sheer amount of energy that goes into V-Day, it must be phenomenal!   Think of the time and energy wasted by how many millions who spend the day wallowing in their miserable solitude. Think of all that could have been accomplished instead!!!

An absolutely unbelievable amount of time, money and energy are spent on Valentine’s Day.. all in the name of love and romance.  It seems the obvious must be stated here; a significant other should love and romance you every. damn. day. if they want to stay significant for very long!!!

Of course, it is lovely to have a special day to make a fuss of your lover, and show them just how much they really mean to you. That’s the key word here, really, its like Valentines day is some kind of level-up love competition, where everyone tries to outdo everyone else just to PROVE their love. Its ridiculous, and for those forever alone-rs (you aren’t actually) it gets depressing to hear about the fabulous ways everyone else is celebrating their love.  It’s easy to fall back into the mantra of “oh poor me” when you hear about all those lovely things everyone else is getting, but what you must remember is that comparison is the thief of joy.

Why does one day have the power to send so many into pieces?  Would I be miserable on Christmas if I was not a Christian? No. So why are so many miserable on Valentine’s because they have no Valentine? Perhaps because it feels so isolated and exclusionary; you are alone, and this reflects as your personal failure as a human being.  This feeling goes way back down to the basic biology of it- you’ve failed to find a mate, you’ve failed to propagate the species, you’ve failed to carry on you’re genetic line. You may think it’s not that simple, but I assure you, it is; a biological urge drives each one of us to seek out a suitable life partner. However in seeking our better half, we very often forget that the other half, our self, is even more important. We are stuck in the belief that being alone on Valentine’s Day reflects as a personal failure, when this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

quotes, love, true love, self, worth, find, heart, handwritten, note

Obviously this idea has been on my mind lately, I wrote this (and posted on my instagram @aiyanajanee) back in January.

oscar wilde quote love alone

Take a good hard look at yourself- recognize and accept what you cannot change, strive to grow anywhere you can, and find the strength to let go of the people or things that give nothing back. Have the strength to be certain of your worth, be clear about the treatment you expect and deserve, and do not accept being treated badly.

Every moment in life is a choice, many of them are unconscious decisions we make as creatures of habit.  Become conscious of the choices you’ve made to get you where you are. Are you happy here? If the answer to that is truly no, then you are the only one person in the universe with the power to change that.

Happiness is perception, comparison is the thief of joy and awareness is the only way to change perception.

So stop looking and looking for that “better half” hoping to find them and live a fairy-tale life  instead, search for your own happy ending, your fairy-tale, and you’ll find the prince somewhere along the way.

lots of love, xo aiyana jane

GUEST BLOGGER: Anya Sarre

Enjoy Sales and Promotional Deals This Season

Guest Blogger Anya Sarre fills you in on how to get the best styles for a steal.

ASStyling

There is nothing like a good sale during, and after the holiday season. It just makes you feel good, festive and beautiful. Many people think boxing day has the best deals, but for most retailers late January and February are the slowest months. They often take additional markdowns to clear out holiday product before spring lines come in. You’ll get great deals by shopping out of season! You should shop online and in stores to find the best deals. Personally, I like the promotional deals and the discounts. It makes me feel like I have really gotten a bargain when I can take a bigger percentage off of the merchandise.

If you want promotional deals, you should purchase merchandise online. Many online stores offer promotional deals such as 10 percent off or free shipping. I like stores that offer mid to high quality items for affordable pricing. Some of my favorites seem to follow the fashion trends this holiday season.

If you are looking for shoes, you must try ShoeDazzle. I don’t know about you, but I have been exploring the red carpet trends, and ShoeDazzle has some of the trendiest and most affordable booties around. I have also been coveting the androgynous look this season. StyleMint has slacks that can be worn in any chic ensemble. Also try Stella & Dot for fashionable dangle earrings, leopard print scarves and crystal bracelets. If you are looking for a more traditional gift, try Birchbox for candles, lotions or lip balm.

H&M and Forever 21 have some of the most incredible fashions for affordable prices. I am impressed by the fashions I can find at this store for affordable prices.

DIY is one of my favorite things to do during the holiday season. I like making hair accessories, earrings, lotions and lip balms. Hair accessories are a great addition to any holiday ensemble. In past years, though many people may consider the concept “corny,” I have made earrings from mini ornaments. These earrings and rose hair accessories are a great addition.

Always plan before you shop. You can get the best deals when you plan and look for the best deals in circulars and online. Enjoy your holidays shopping for yourself and family.

xo, anya sarre

Anya Sarre is one of Hollywood’s most influential trendsetters. A nationally recognized celebrity stylist, Sarre is known for her impeccable eye and ability to tie any look together with the perfect accessory. Named “Best Television Fashion Stylist” for her appearances on Entertainment Tonight, The Insider and countless other media outlets, Sarre is the go-to fashion expert for Hollywood’s biggest celebrities.