A year in pictures.

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Floral Fusion

I went to Lauritzen Gardens today with my parents to check out the Floral Fusion glass art exhibit (by Craig Mitchell Smith).  The glass pieces are exquisite, but they are also placed in and among complementary live plants.  I highly recommend going!  Lauritzen Gardens often has traveling exhibits along with their seasonal plants.  No two trips are the same!  Here are a few of the pieces from the Floral Fusion exhibit, but they really don’t do it justice.  On Sun.-Tues. evenings, they will be lit up.  I wish I could have seen that too!

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Weeping Willow

Weeping Willow

Bouquet

Bouquet

Bouquet closeup

Bouquet closeup

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

October Gust

October Gust

(Part of the larger) Flock of Cardinals

(Part of the larger) Flock of Cardinals

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle

The Pansies

The Pansies

Wisteria Arbor and Cardinal in foreground with Grape Arbor in background

Wisteria Arbor and Cardinal in foreground with Grape Arbor in background

Wisteria Arbor

Wisteria Arbor

Making a Splash (large view)

Making a Splash (large view)

Making a Splash

Making a Splash

Best in Show (orchids)

Best in Show (orchids)

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Fireball

Fireball

Blue reeds

Blue reeds

Tropical Splendor

Tropical Splendor

Water Garden

Water Garden

(A portion of) Poppies of Oz

(A portion of) Poppies of Oz

Birds Nest

Birds Nest

Tropical Splendor

Tropical Splendor

The Anthurium

The Anthurium

Blue Star Rising with The Goldenrod

Blue Star Rising with The Goldenrod

The Goldenrod

The Goldenrod

(A portion of) Butterflies of Nebraska.  I love how this photo looks like they are really flying!

(A portion of) Butterflies of Nebraska. I love how this photo looks like they are really flying!

(A portion of) Road to Provence

(A portion of) Road to Provence

Autumn Curtain

Autumn Curtain

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Dressember is over, but….

I spent all of December in a dress to raise awareness for human trafficking.  It wasn’t always easy, but it’s nothing compared to being a slave.

Things I did in a dress:

  1. Shoveled snow.
  2. Used the snowblower.
  3. Decorated cookies.
  4. Taught.
  5. Shopped.
  6. Decorated the church for Christmas. Undecorated the house.
  7. Climbed ladders.
  8. Went to the dentist.  Went to the eye doctor.
  9. Cheered on the Huskers at the NCAA volleyball championship game.
  10. Experienced below freezing temperatures.
  11. Educated myself about human trafficking on a local and global level.
  12. Struck up conversations with people about human trafficking.
  13. Shared what I learned about human trafficking on my blog.
  14. Took daily photos of me wearing a dress, no matter how uncomfortable I was.
  15. Read. Watched TV. Sat. Relaxed. Walked. Drove. Visited museums. Spilled pop on myself. Ate. Felt comfortable. Felt Uncomfortable. Got too hot. Got too cold. Petted cats.  Petted dogs. Got runs in my hosiery. Did my nails. Did my nails again. Sold nail wraps. And so much more.

#YouCanDoAnythingInADress but…. #ItsBiggerThanADress

There’s more that you can do.

  1. Though Dressember is over, the campaign is still open until January 31.  My team has a goal of $3,000. I’d love for one person to give $75 or 3 people give $25.  You can give here: https://support.dressemberfoundation.org/fundraise?fcid=574922
  2. Give to organizations like A21 and International Justice Mission after the Dressember campaign is over.
  3. Like Dressember, A21, and IJM on facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to hear more about what they are doing and what you can do to help.
  4. Educate yourself about human trafficking.
  5. Strike up conversations with others about human trafficking.
  6. Support legislation involving awareness campaigns and the elimination of human trafficking.
  7. Buy items from various organizations that pay human trafficking survivors a fair wage.
  8. Stop judging prostitutes.
  9. Love on those who are potential victims: foster kids, runaways, etc.
  10. Consider joining me for Dressember in 2016 (message me and let me know if you’re interested)!

Thanks for following me on my journey!!

PANTS!

PANTS!

Dressember Day 31

2015 was a pretty good year for me.  I was able to travel to see many friends, I started some new endeavors, and my classes have been pretty good.  However, I know that 2015 was also difficult on many of my friends and family members: illnesses, loss, and unpredictable changes were part of their stories.

As this year ends, so too a new one begins.  We have the choice to make 2016 better than 2015, but some people are not allowed to make choices about their daily lives.  Instead, they are enslaved by human trafficking.  Help end slavery and allow freedom to begin for victims of human trafficking.  Give here.

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Dressember Day 30

Many states have recently passed legislation to reach out to human trafficking victims and spread awareness.

  1. Last year, Virginia produced many billboards to bring awareness to human trafficking.  Now they are turning to online advertisements.  During a preliminary trial, visits from Virginia to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center increased by 35%.  The ads will appear on websites where trafficking victims are often purchased for domestic work or prostitution.  They will also appear within a quarter mile of rest areas along major Interstates in Virginia.  The ads are multilingual.
  2. Buffalo City Court (in New York) has a Human Trafficking Court to determine whether prostitutes are victims of human trafficking.  The Western District of New Human Trafficking Task Force helps to prosecute human traffickers and to help provide housing and counseling to victims.
  3. Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law will launch a human trafficking law clinic.  Through a grant, law students, under faculty supervision, will represent human trafficking victims.
  4. Bilingual signs raising awareness about human trafficking are now expected to be displayed in Florida at rest areas, airports, emergency rooms, strip clubs, etc.  The signs include phone and text numbers to report human trafficking.

Please consider giving to the Dressember Campaign, which funds both International Justice Mission and A21, helping to raise awareness and help victims of human trafficking.

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Dressember Day 29

Just yesterday, Japan finally reached an agreement to apologize to and compensate the Korean “comfort women” that were used in Japanese military brothels from 1910-1945.  Japan will contribute 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) to the surviving victims.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said, “The issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women, and the government of Japan is painfully aware of responsibilities from this perspective.”

Somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000 women, mostly Korean, were used in Japanese military brothels.  The average age of surviving “comfort women” victims is 89.

While this is a huge step for a government to accept responsibility for wartime human trafficking, it comes fairly late for many victims, who could have used the money for physical and psychological help shortly after being victimized.

Hopefully A21 and International Justice Mission can help victims of human trafficking more immediately after rescuing victims from current situations.  And hopefully, we can do a better job of raising awareness to these atrocities to reduce and/or eliminate them in the future.

Please consider giving to Dressember to help A21 and International Justice Mission serve those who need it most when they need it most.

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Dressember Day 28

Earlier today, my friend Adam posted a link to a video on facebook about a woman at UNO who created 2,000 ceramic birds to represent 2,000 souls forced into prostitution in Nebraska.  Though I posted a few days ago about a recent human trafficking bust in Lincoln, I became curious about the bigger picture of human trafficking in Nebraska.  Here’s what I found:

  1. The KNOWN number of Nebraska school girls who become victims of sex trafficking is 47 per  year.  The researchers say that this is a very conservative estimate and expect that there are far more.  This is based on a survey that asked girls if their friends admitted to being victims of sex trafficking.  Since some girls might not tell their friends, there may be quite a few more girls who are victims.
  2. There have been several convictions for human trafficking in Nebraska in recent years.
    • In 2008, an Iowa man was convicted of picking up 2 teenage girls from a Fremont group home and forcing them to perform commercial sex acts at strip clubs.
    • In 2010, the president of an escort service in Nebraska and Iowa was arrested for running a prostitution ring.  He had several underage girls working for him.
    • In 2011, a couple was sentenced to several years in prison for trafficking 6 women, including a 15-year-old, to perform commercial sex acts.  They used violence and threats to keep the girls in line.
    • In 2013, a Nebraska woman was sentenced to 90 years in prison for conspiracy to commit sexual assault of a child and for possession of child pornography.  She was caught after believing an undercover officer was a customer willing to pay for sex with her and a 14-year-old.  She had arranged sexual acts with minors in several counties.
  3. Nebraska passed a law in 2006 to make human trafficking illegal, but there are some limitations to the law.

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Dressember Day 27

One of the reasons my friends gave to the Dressember campaign was because she had seen a documentary from CNN about human trafficking in Cambodia and wanted to DO something.  You can watch that documentary here.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to watch the documentary too.  Sometimes children are trafficked by their own families, sometimes staying in Cambodia, but other times being removed to Vietnam or Thailand.  Virgins and prepubescent girls go for top dollar.  During one interview, a mother recounted how the family was in debt, so she sold her daughter’s virginity away, receiving only a portion of the amount she was promised.  Her daughter remained enslaved to pay off more of the debt.  The mother deeply regretted her decision to sell her daughter, but she’s not the only mother who has done so.  Of the children returned from Thailand, 47% stated that their mothers facilitated the trafficking.  What’s really bizarre though is that 93% of those returned had family who owned their own homes and HAD NO DEBT on their land or house.

I recommend watching the video, and while it focuses on the people in Cambodia, please realize this sort of trafficking happens worldwide.  However, you can help by contributing to the Dressember campaign, which gives to A21 and IJM, organizations that rescue victims, provide legal help, and run aftercare programs to help survivors.

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