Courage, Grace and Strength Under the Most Insurmountable Odds

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Trigger Warning: This post, and the article shared, feature a rape victim’s frank and explicit statement to the man who raped her.  Please share with women and men, responsibly.

I have written about serving as an adviser to a college sorority for many years.  The experience forever changed me as a woman.

One of the most difficult subjects I encountered was how to frame the conversations around sex and consent.  This was before colleges and universities recognized rape, sexual assaults, sexual batteries and every point on that continuum as a violation of a student’s rights, according to the school’s own policies.

How I wish websites like Consent Is Everything had existed to give me tools on how to broach this delicate subject.  How I wish I had known what constituted consent when I was a college student. I would have recognized that I too was a victim of acquaintance rape.   And I would have known that it is far more common than we can imagine.

But, what happens when a brave young woman comes forward to share how she was unimaginably violated by a “star athlete?”  Why does she have to justify her actions, when he was the one who committed rape upon her?  Why is she the one whose morals and character are called into question?   And, how does she react when faced with the reality that his “status” may have ensured preferential treatment by the justice system?

What happens is this brilliantly heartbreaking victim’s statement, as shared by Buzzfeed’s news reporter, Katie Baker Here’s The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read To Her Attacker.

To the woman who stood strong, surrounded by people who loved and supported her, I say – your mission in life is ahead of you.  Each time you speak truth to power, you are helping another person.

To Brock Allen Turner, I say – may Karma find you. Repeatedly. For the rest of your miserable life, you rapist.

A-Z Challenge: “A” is for “Aiden” – Book Trailer Reveal for Gina Maxwell’s “Fighting for Irish”

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AHe’ll fight for her life. She’ll fight for his love.

Former MMA fighter Aiden “Irish” O’Brien hasn’t stepped into the ring since he accidentally took someone’s life in the heat of rage. When his friend calls in a favor that sends him south to check on family, Irish figures he’s got nothing to lose. His life is on the ropes. The least he can do is make sure the sexy redhead is safe.Maxwell-Fighting For Irish

Kat MacGregor has forty-eight hours to settle the twenty thousand dollar debt her deadbeat ex-boyfriend owes a crime boss. If she doesn’t, she’ll pay for it—with her life. Kat’s halfway out the door when a sexy new guy walks into the bar and insists he’s there to help.

Irish is forced to fight in the underground MMA circuit to win the money she needs. But he’s been lying to Kat. About who he is, about knowing her sister, about why he comes home bruised every night. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him, but breaking her trust will cost him the most important fight of his life: the one for her heart.

Here is the link to my 5-Star Review.  Enjoy the book trailer for “Fighting for Irish!”

About the Author:

Gina L. Maxwell is a shameless romance addict with no intentions of ever kicking the habit.

Gina L Maxwell promo photoGrowing up she dreamed of helping people escape reality with her acting abilities…until college when she realized she had none to speak of.   Another ten years passed before she discovered a different means to accomplishing the same dream: writing stories of love and passion for addicts just like her.  Her debut novel, Seducing Cinderella, landed on the USA Today and NY Times Bestseller lists in less than a month.

Now she splits her time between writing more books and acting as Boss of the world’s first organized romance mafia, the Maxwell Mob.Thanks to the support she receives from her amazing family, Gina is finally able to live her dream of bringing a little romantic fantasy to the world, one steamy novel at a time.

Find out more about Gina on her website, follow her on Twitter, and Pinterest and like her Facebook page.




Grace Under Pressure – One of the Benefits of Sororities

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As a lifelong “Sorority Girl” and advisor for 13 years, I am often asked about the benefits of sororities.  The public is quick to embrace the image of Sorority Women as entitled or shallow, but fails to realize that most of our leaders, both women and men, have a Greek letter affiliations.   For many of us, our first contact with many of the complex issues we face, and will face, in our professional lives were experienced in our college Chapters.

I learned how to manage my time and balance my classes, job, sorority commitments and personal life, whether I wanted to, or not.   My Sorority taught me how to maximize my time, because time was a limited commodity.  I also practiced talking to difficult people, or people I would not normally approach, on a regular basis.    This skill, learned through Rush/Recruitment, has helped me throughout my life.  Each time I have accepted a new job or promotion, I had to market myself, time and time again – just like I did, during Rush.

Creed of Chi Omega Women's Fraternity
Creed of Chi Omega Women’s Fraternity

I was disgusted when I read the article criticizing Kelsey Williams, a professional NBA, fit, beautiful cheerleader by a female sports “blogger.”  The “blogger” did not criticize Ms. Williams’ ability to perform her job, instead she chose to ridicule Ms. Williams’ appearance.   Then, the blog post went viral, exposing Ms. Williams to the ugliness found on Social Media.  The “blogger” has since been fired, and rightfully so.  Sadly, Ms. Williams’ had to publicly defend herself, against this unprovoked attack.   Her tweet about the incident “To be womanly always, discouraged never,” is a quote from the Chi Omega Symphony – a document I am intimately familiar with, as I have recited it for the better part of 24 years.  I am also a Chi Omega, like Ms. Williams.

I was upset when I heard that a woman was ripping another woman for her APPEARANCE, rather than her job performance.  When a fellow Alumna Sister pointed out to me, that Ms. Williams was a fellow NPC (National Panhellenic Conference) and Chi Omega Sister, it became “personal” for me.   No one rips into one of my Sisters, without provocation, especially when the person is not woman enough to look her target in the eye, as she does it.     Using Social Media to shame and ridicule others is called cyber-bullying.  I call it cowardice of the highest order.

However, this situation has a silver lining.   Sorority women of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations have rallied around Ms. Williams, in support.   She was interviewed by “Good Morning America,” about the incident and was able to demonstrate her own personal strength and grace.     Her actions speak to the positive aspects of sororities more than any movie or television show.   I am proud to support her, and other Greek women, who understand the benefits of Sisterhood have nothing to do with cute t-shirts, dating and social functions, and EVERYTHING to do with learning how to become the best version of yourself – an empowered woman.

Kelsey Williams Interview on “Good Morning America”

World Cup 2010 – This Time for Africa!

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My love affair with soccer is an unexpected one. I grew up in Panamá, better known for producing Major League Baseball players, like Mariano Rivera, Rubén Tejada, Rodney Carew, Juan Berenguer, Roberto Kelly, Manny Sanguillén…I could go on and on. I truly enjoy a good game of baseball, especially when one of my paisanos is playing. I have been to MLB games and support the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs. I have the t-shirts, hats, and stuffed Raymond (mascot) doll. Oh, he’s incredibly cute and physically leaped into my arms during one of the final games of the inaugural season. (The little stuffed Raymond, not the bigger-than-life dancing Raymond. Although, he’s a sight to behold, in person).

How does a woman from a small country known for “Los Reyes del Béisbol,” where soccer was merely a footnote at the end of a sportscast, become a soccer fan? It’s my father’s fault.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the World Cup. My father gets full credit for instilling in me the passion for the game, especially Argentina fútbol, at an early age. I distinctly remember crying, sobbing really, when Argentina beat Peru 6-0, in the second round of the 1978 World Cup. This marked their first trip to a World Cup final against the seemingly unstoppable “Clockwork Orange,” Netherlands. Argentina won their first World Cup title and I was forever hooked. I don’t simply watch soccer matches – I live, mourn and rejoice in them.

It doesn’t hurt that the many of the players are very good looking. Who doesn’t love a man with the stamina to run, at full-speed, for 90 minutes. If he can do that….well, he might be “fun” to have around, right?

When I moved to the United States permanently, it became difficult to follow soccer. I could not understand how, in a country built by immigrants, who grew up and played soccer, there were no professional teams or at least coverage of international teams. I was lucky to move to Tampa Bay Rowdies, and later Tampa Bay Mutiny, territory, but h teams went out of business, due to poor support and attendance. Still, I found the late night coverage on ESPN, after the “World’s Strongest Man Caber Toss Extravaganza” and the “Dogs Playing Poker” tournaments.

When the USA hosted the World Cup, I thought, “a-ha! This is what USA Soccer needs!” Our boys played well, but not well enough, apparently. Those elusive fans went elsewhere. (Damn you to HELL, Nascar! Watching cars drive around in a circle is not sport, it’s traffic!). At the same time, soccer passion was exploding in Africa and Asia, such that Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions) of Cameroon, where they were a huge draw everywhere they went. It didn’t hurt that they could play the game well, lyrically, actually.

Even though I have never been there, South Africa, holds a mystical appeal to me. Perhaps it was because I watched so many documentaries on the struggles of black Africans and could not understand why they continued to live a repressed, slave-like existence. The more I learned about Africa, the more I wanted to know. I distinctly remember being touched by Peter Gabriel’s song “Biko,” about Steven Bantu Biko. Biko, an anti-apartheid activist who founded the Black Consciousness Movement, was murdered in police custody. Around the same time, Little Steven Van Zandt and Artists United Against Apartheid, released “Sun City,” about a white’s-only resort in South Africa, and their call for a boycott of this place. The video got heavy airplay on MTV (back when they actually played MUSIC). African artists started to release their music and when Paul Simon featured Ladysmith Black Mambazo, on his album “Graceland,” I was entranced. How did they produce such joyful noise?

Almost 25 years later, my favorite sport arrives in Africa. The beautifully talented, Colombian superstar, Shakira and Freshlyground, from Africa, record the theme song, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa). Zumba Fitness encourages Zumba instructors all over the world to create original choreography, and post it to youtube, using “Waka Waka.” (I’ve created choreography and have done the routine a couple of times with my students, but refuse to record and post it to youtube. Not my cuppa tea).

Some of my expectations for this World Cup have already been exceeded. The Cup was 98% sold out, before the Opening Ceremony and Opening Game. It is being held on the continent that needs the most care, love and support from the world community. Every time the light is shined on Africa during these next few weeks, positive, joyful energy will be radiated back to us from the African people. There is a reason the World’s game is being held in Africa – to bring us closer together. Our challenge begins after the Cup is over and the fans have gone home. Our challenge is to remember Africa, because in remembering Africa, we remember our own humanity.

As for me, I’ll be glued to the television, humming “Waka Waka,” screaming obscenities at referees and players, teaching my husband creative phrases in Spanish and Spanglish and rooting for Team USA and my beloved Albiceleste, Argentina, who will be the first to win a World Cup on African soil.