Please Coach Frost, Stand Up For Women

I have been having 90s flashbacks lately. Not pleasant ones. In fact, like many women in America, I have been having  an onslaught of Very Unpleasant Memories (VUMs for short) crop up, fueled by the media reports of Important Men Doing Pervy Things (IMDPT). It’s weird, I had honestly forgotten the hell that was being a teenage girl in the 90s but now it’s all coming back in every rotten, sordid detail. And the 90s, sexist as they were, were probably a cake walk compared to the social environments previous generations of women had to grow up in. Reliving this stuff has been hard for everyone.

While my first reaction to the flood of IMDPT going down in flames was to take a seat, eat some popcorn, and delight in the patriarchy collapsing under its own weight, now my reaction is just sadness. All of it, just the flood of news which reminds you that suffering is everywhere and it’s been everywhere and we’ve ignored it for far too long.

While I (and every woman I know that was alive at the time) could write volumes of Pervy Things Boys Did To Me In The Nineties, I have one particular story that’s disturbing me lately, but it is a bee sting story. Up until last month, it would have been meaningless, and perhaps it still is, but it is my story. One summer in the misogynist 90s I was chosen to attend a leadership training camp. The camp was great. At the end, it had a dance. Cute boy asks me to dance, then wastes no time in groping me. I was just taken aback, not at all in the mindset of deflecting perverts that fine summer day. Once I had my wits about me I politely (as I knew no other way) removed his hands from my ass, as if it had all been an innocent misunderstanding. Nevertheless, he persisted.

We continued to dance, he would not let up. Every time I redirected his hands to my waist he’d grab my butt again, like it was his *right* to do it. His right, this not-even-a-man who’d just met me moments earlier, who had been hand-picked as a good citizen from his hometown American Legion Auxiliary, had just decided that he was my ruler and my body his rightful territory. I honestly was so shocked and confused it took me far too long to realize I could just walk away, which I eventually did. But in those panicked moments when I was trying to figure out what was going on and how to respond to it (is this actually happening?), I looked around the room for a lifeline. One of those moments when  you witness or are involved in something so sudden and bizarre you look around for a reaction, like did you see that man falling from the sky? That’s not normal, is it?

The thing that stings like a bee was that on that night there were no lifelines, just self-involved bystanders. A male friend I’d known since toddlerhood was there, we’d gone to basically Jesus camp together so he of all people would probably know I didn’t much enjoy getting felt up by random dude. But what did I feel? Embarassment that he saw me like that. And he would not be one to intervene, on anything, ever, so absolutely no lifeline there. Then I look to my right and I see the older, college-age guy that was there as an alum and counselor. He was no help as he was grinning smugly, both of his hands firmly gripping the ass of a cute camper, who was also smugly grinning and gripping his ass in return, locked in what appeared to be consensual groping bliss. The good looking gropers never made eye contact with each other – not even a fleeting sweet gaze upon each others chiseled features – instead, their eyes were wide and looking around the room in what I interpreted was to see how many people were seeing them.  Needless to say, no lifeline there either, just a gross self-absorbed authority figure enjoying young flesh.

In rethinking this story as it popped into my brain as a VUM, I considered the possibility that the guy groping me at the dance was doing it not just because he was an impossibly horny teenager with no self control or respect for women whatsoever, but because he saw the cool man counselor setting the tone, distorting the reality as to what is acceptable for a man to do to a woman on the dance floor at a government and leadership camp, took note, and followed suit.  Cool man counselor was not just oblivious to the blatant misdeeds around him, which I thought was a little bit his job to pay attention to, but he actually encouraged it with his own self-absorbed behavior. And that really worries me.

But, like I said, this is a bee sting story.  One of those that should not be shared out of respect for the person down the street who didn’t get stung by a bee, she got mauled by a bear. There is not enough ink in the world for the papers to print every bee sting story from every woman who ever was on the receiving end of IMDPT. I just can’t tell you how common this stuff is. It only makes the papers if it’s way worse, which led every girl and every woman to shrug it off and say “at least it’s not rape” and know that very, very little can be done. The common consensus was that ONLY rape was intolerable, the rest was part of being female and being alive. Now the tides have turned to where we actually think grabbing a woman’s ass against her consent is a bad thing.  And it is! It was! It always has been! We have never had the right to complain before or had ears that would listen!

But back to my point, that behavior of simple self-absorbed complacency really worried me, because a few short months later, a woman did get the equivalent of mauled by a bear, witnessed by the exact same cool counselor man, at his apartment, and it made national headlines, and I can’t say how awful it was. I’m beyond speculating what he was doing and how he did or failed to act. I understand being shocked and delaying action because your brain can’t process something so terrifying and so bizarre fast enough, I’ll give him a very very generous pass for that. The fallout from the event was far-reaching. Football player breaks into other football player’s (the cool guy counselor) third-floor apartment by scaling up balconies where he finds his ex-girlfriend, drags her down 3 flight of stairs by her hair, and bashes her head into a metal mailbox. Coach, who was regarded as a mix of Jesus and Santa Claus, suspends him for 6 games, then puts him in to play for the Fiesta Bowl in a move that made me and other girls and women alike feel less about ourselves and our genders and our bodies than we had ever felt before. The words “low point” can’t even come close to describing it. I’m not sure if I knew the word “patriarchy” back then, but I knew it had won, and my life and my health and my body as a woman didn’t mean very much to the white Christian men who had all the power and got to decide these things. When Kate McEwan was beaten down, we all were beaten down.

Which brings us to the present. Cool guy counselor, whose real name is Scott Frost, just signed a 7-year contract to be the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhusker football team at a price of $35,000,000. Good for him. Now, if you’re reading this, let me ask you – as a person who has witnessed a horrifying act of violence against women, and as the new leader of the Cornhuskers, will you strive to make a team and an environment where people around town aren’t hearing reports of the football players beating their girlfriends and raping women at parties while the head coach (all of them) look the other way?  Because that would be really great. You could champion a cause of standing up for the rights of women and have a rapist-free college football team.  And if someone does do something bad, can you do the opposite of what Tom Osborne did and have the criminal justice system sort it out instead of you handling it your own way? Heck, you could even use some of that 35 mill and have Brenda Tracy come back and educate your new team on how to not be rapists. Or donate some to RAINN.

You could do so many good things, you could start fresh, and unlike that terrible dance, you could set the tone for what a man does and does not do.  And unlike that terrible event a few months later, you could just stop all of the hurt before it happened. You could have a zero tolerance against male sexist bullshit policy, you could kick a player off the team for grabbing someone’s ass.  It’s possible!  It’s a new day, it’s 2017! You have so much power and privelege and authority now, you can change the social dynamics of the entire state. If Coach Osborne made teenage girls like me feel terrible about themselves, maybe you could, with your wise actions, make all teen girls and women feel good about themselves, like their bodies and minds and health and lives DO matter. Because they do. I hope you know that now, and I hope you’ll use your platform for the good of both young men and women, because the patriarchy hurts them both.









Book Review: You 1 Anxiety 0

Screen-Shot-2016-04-24-at-3.47.40-PM“Why suffer from anxiety when you don’t have to?”  -Jodi Aman

A good question indeed, one posed by a person I greatly admire for her tireless efforts in getting people the help they need so they don’t have to suffer.

Jodi Aman is a person whose blog (now a vlog) I stumbled upon a year or two ago, got hooked on, and have been following ever since.  She is a therapist in Rochester, NY with a knack for making people feel better about life, an ever-expanding social media presence (blog, FB, YouTube channel, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram), and now…a book!  Ever since I heard she was publishing a book on anxiety I knew I had to read it, so I got an advanced copy and it did not disappoint!

The book is rightfully called “You 1 Anxiety 0”.  Read all about it here:  How to Cure Anxiety Because Enough is Enough!  You might think that you couldn’t benefit from it because you’ve never had a formal diagnosis of anxiety, or perhaps, like many, you just think anxiety is something you have to suffer with.  This book is for anyone, ANYONE suffering from anxiety–a lot or a little.  It helped me and can probably help you too.  Let me tell you how the lessons in it can be applied to everyday life by using an example from my personal life.

Without giving too much away, one of the themes in the book was defeating anxiety by connecting to your personal agency–you have more power than you think you have!  You can do things!  You can take action!  I thought about that one a lot, and here’s how I applied it.

Situation: road trip by myself.  I sometimes get freaked out by the prospect of driving long distances solo–what if I get in an accident and die?  Just being away from my home and family makes me uncomfortable, but this fear started after I had a co-worker killed in a car accident where she was driving alone to a work event.  It has subsided with time but I still get a little anxious at the prospect of a solo road trip, especially when factoring in things like rain and little sleep.

I wanted to go see some art (which I will blog about soon) and friends in Kansas City.  I checked the weather, it would be raining the whole time.  I decided I wasn’t going to panic.  I was going to do what I could.  I thought of all of the things I could do to be safe.  I could thoroughly clean and put Rain-X on my windshield.  I could get new wiper blades.  I could wash off my headlights and tail lights.  I could take the head rests off in the back seat for better visibility.  I could pull over and take breaks if I was tired.  I could have a big cup of coffee and an entertaining audiobook so I would be alert.  I would wear my seatbelt and not go over the speed limit.  I would keep a greater distance between me and the car in front of me.  I was set!  I did all of those things and I made it to KC and back without any problems despite the incessant rain and not wonderful amounts of sleep.  In fact, I had fun!  I wasn’t nervous, I was feeling good and very confident on the road.  Me 1, Anxiety 0.  In your face, loser!

In writing and sharing this, I’m hoping that this book can help you too.  Here my formal book review on Amazon. Bottom line is it’s so applicable to life and it really helps.  Here is the trailer for the book.  Enjoy!



FB and Me: Here’s to Shutting Up

I took on a new challenge for Lent.  Sometimes some Christians give stuff up during the Lenten season (from Ash Wednesday to Easter), others don’t, my church is indifferent on the matter.  Growing up I thought I’d jump on board because…well…I don’t know.  Score points?  Feel good about myself?  Have a New Year’s Resolution without the burden of keeping it 365 days?  Understand what it feels like to be deprived of something so you develop empathy for others?  Other people add stuff for the same reason, like certain altruistic acts.  Now that I’m all growed up and have a different understanding of Christianity, my “giving up” was admittedly self serving.  Here’s what I did and what became of it.

I gave up Facebook.  I figure I could use the extra time engaging in spiritual practices, like prayer and meditation.  I wanted to just sit back and think about one thing, a Lenten reflection of a personal nature.  Except that it didn’t work quite like that.  What started out with good intentions (just check for notifications once or twice a week, respond to those, and get the hell out of there) didn’t pan out.  There’s just too much stuff going on with various groups that I’m in and there are many people that for whatever reason prefer to communicate with me on FB, or tag my name or whatever.  I just couldn’t figure out how to dump it without shutting myself off from a lot of people for my personal vaguely religious whim.  I couldn’t completely shut it out but I tried to minimize as much as possible.  However, this experiment, though not completely successful, taught me a ton about myself.

My rules:

1.  Don’t post anything.  I broke this because I used an app (Donate a Photo) that I let sync with FB and post pics.  Yes, that was for altruism, but also, mostly, for attention.  I also posted a few things on secret groups because what I had to say was super duper important.

2.  Don’t comment.  I broke this a few times, too.  Some for good reasons (somebody asking a question), and the other times for dumb reasons (once I haaad to insert my opinion that was fairly obvious without me saying anything and the other I had to because I thought someone’s feelings were hurt and also I was ending racism).

3.  Once a week it’s OK to go through and throw some Likes around.  Did this more than once a week a few times due to exhaustion and not knowing what else to do to kill a bit of time.

With one week of Lent left to go, here’s what I found out about myself:

1. I have a hard time shutting up.  When I see some article that’s so awesome I feel that it is my duty to share it with everyone on social media because OMG they HAVE to read it too!  No, they don’t.  I also want to tell people about the latest injustice and how they sh0uld help or care or something funny or whatever comes to mind, because my thoughts and opinions are super awesome.  No, they’re not and no,  I don’t need to do that.  People can decide what they want to read and they don’t have to care about the same things that I care about.  And my thoughts and opinions are no better or more magical than anybody else’s.

2.  I have an obsession with licking peoples wounds.  The few times I commented was to make people feel better, or so I thought.  Is that really my job, though?  To heal all wounds?  Do they really need me to do this for them or are people quite capable of coming to their own conclusions and licking their own wounds.  What makes me think that it’s my job?

3.  I have an obsession with righting all wrongs.  I have a way too strong sense of social justice and I don’t back down from fights.  The few times I have called people out on Twitter (which I stupidly used as a replacement for Facebook) was for posting things that I thought hurt people or were racist or sexist or whateverist.  That’s stupid, though.  Do I really think I can solve societal problems by inserting my opinion against any -isms on social media?  How narcissistic is that of me?

4.  Sometimes I just want attention.  I actually just posted a bored selfie on Instagram.  I rarely post photos of myself, believing the words of Karl Lagerfield who called selfies “digital masterbation”.  When I do post things on social media I expect to get likes or shares or retweets or comments or whatever and I wait in anticipation to see if that’s happened and when it inevitably doesn’t, because like I said I am not that interesting and my thoughts and opinions are no better than anyone else’s, I’m a little disappointed.  That feeling is so dumb because it is so self-destructive and entirely self-created.  But what’s a girl to do when she wants attention?  Sometimes…just shut up.

5.  I am part of things.  The fact that I couldn’t get off FB entirely because I’m embedded is kinda neat.  I’m important, except for the fact that

6.  I’m really not important.  I have refrained from so much posting, commenting, reading, getting sucked into arguments (only a few times) and yet…the sun still rises.  Imagine that.  PEOPLE SURVIVED WITHOUT ME POSTING THAT REALLY IMPORTANT ARTICLE ABOUT IMPORTANT STUFF!!!!

7.  I am beginning to need it less.  I am finding it less addictive when I am on because I am limiting my speech and not getting sucked in like I used to.  It used to be a necessity, but now it’s just Meh.  Because…

8.  The vast majority of the time, reading books or blogs or talking on the phone to friends is much more pleasurable than Facebook.

So for the next week and possibly longer, I’m going to work on the following exercises:

1.  Let someone else win a fight.  Don’t try to get the last word.  Just let it go.  Then breathe, observe how life goes on and the world didn’t end, and let that sink into your brain.

2.  Resist the next temptation to right a perceived wrong on social media or in conversation.  I just did this because someone I thought was being sexist but I can’t solve sexism by calling people out.  It’s not my job.  At all.  And I don’t want to go down the slippery slope of being a person who thinks everyone has the right to say what they want as long as what they say agrees with me.  Everyone does have the right to speak and I have to live with the fact that sometimes it’s not going to be what I want and I need to shut my pie hole.  That’s life, I can’t control everything, and that’s a good thing.  And I need to get better at really listening before interjecting my own opinion. Also, sometimes I have to let the little stuff slide so I have energy to fight the big stuff.

3.  Resist temptation to lick someone’s wounds.  I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I need to break myself of my addiction to being Helper To All Things And All People All of The Time.  People are fine without me and will be friends without me and my platitudes and BS words of comfort.  Maybe they will even like me better if I just shut the hell up and let them have their peace.  Again, let the little stuff slide so I have energy for the big stuff.

4.  Take all that time and energy you put into social media and do something that’s more fun.  Ride a bike.  Skype with an old pal.  Spend a few minutes meditating, or even just taking some giant deep breaths.  Finish a painting.  Read a book. Upload all those photos you have on your camera.  These things all give you sense of completion, which Facebook never does, and that’s much more important I realized.  Just give yourself some freedom to not get sucked into the vortex, because you know you will.

And now…I’m finally shutting up.

A Shot at Art!

Many of you think to yourselves, “I want to save a child’s life, eradicate disabling diseases from the planet, and I also want to get some cool Andrea Riley swag”.  Well today, friends, your wish came true.  I’m giving away prime AJ Riley goods for all of you who go to my fundraising page and donate.

A donation of $5 will buy…

  • One child a measles AND polio vaccine, which is a big deal because…
  •         measles kills an estimated 430 people per day, mostly kids under 5
  •         polio is very close to being wiped off the face of the earth–it will be only the 2nd disease to ever be eradicated (smallpox being the first and only)–but as for now it’s still around, paralyzing kids…
  • One awesome art card of your choice
  • One warm fuzzy feeling
  • Your name on my Fundraising Honor Roll (I think)

A $10 donation will buy…

  • 2 kids polio + measles shots
  • 3 awesome art cards of your choice
  • Twice the fuzzy feeling
  • Your name on my Fundraising Honor Roll (definitely)

A donation of $20 will buy…

  • One child all 4 life-saving vaccines (polio, rotavirus, measles, and pneumonia) and a lifetime of immunity
  •        that’s important because actually pneumonia is the biggest killer of kids worldwide (who knew?  I thought it was AIDS or malaria but those aren’t even close)
  • Parents’ peace of mind that their kid is safe from scary diseases
  • 8 art cards (you pick) OR 1 foam-mounted print (8×10) of your choice.
  • A warm superfuzzy feeling
  • Your name on my Fundraising Honor Roll

A donation of $50-60 will buy…

  • Three kids a lifetime of immunity
  • All that other good stuff
  • 3 foam-mounted prints OR 1 original drawing from me, subject of your choice

A donation of $100 or more will buy

  • 5+ friends or siblings a lifetime of immunity
  • An original oil painting from me, subject of your choice

If you have already donated, please email me and tell me what you would like!

Here’s what you have to do.

1.  Donate here.  Please go to my fundraising page and NOT the general donate page on the Shot@Life site.  The UN Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Your donations are fully tax-deductible. Shot@Life is a UN Foundation Campaign.

2.  Pick your swag!  See pics below.

3.  Email me with your mailing address and what you want. (andrea dot m dot riley at gmail dot com)

4.  Go to and join the movement!

5.  Enjoy your new art and warm fuzzy feeling that you helped save the life of a child, and in a few years when we eradicate polio from the planet you can say “I did that”!

Here are the designs from the cards:


Card #1- Pumpkin Vine


Card #2 — detail from Snake River Falls


Card #3, Woodland Path –only for orders $20+, limit one per person (not very many of these left)


Card #4–Red Flower


Card #5–Umm…green plant of some sort?


Card #6–Lenten Rose


Card #7–Wedding Orchid

Card #8–Waterlilies


Card #9–White Flower


Foam-mounted print 1 “Staghorn Sumac in Fall”  SOLD!


Foam-mounted print 2–detail from “Snake River Falls”


Foam-mounted print 3–“May 25th (5/25)”


Print 4 — “Sumac in Moonlight” I have 1 8,5×11 print and 1 foam mounted 8×10


Print 5 — “Valerie in Pink”


Print 6 – “Pumpkin Vine” either mounted or unmounted  BOTH SOLD!


Print 7–Wedding Orchid  SOLD!

My Amazing New Art Collection

If you haven’t heard, I have amassed quite the exquisite collection of fine art.  I have acquired all the pieces for free and can show them to you at any time.  You can own them, too and I can also browse your collection and steal it without you losing anything.  I am of course talking about Pinterest, the best thing to happen to anyone ever.  I’ve been lurking for a while but only in the past few months have I started actively using it, like developing boards and pinning and things.  While other people are using Pinterest for workout inspiration (whatever) or recipes, I have a more realistic approach because I know my limitations.  I started a recipe board, just because I thought I should, but it’s mostly just cocktails from the Today Show feed (those ladies know their way around a bar, their Drinks page is awesome) and fruit that looks like Bert and Ernie, with the requisite dish that I tried making but soon realized that looking at a recipe once and thinking you know it 3 hours later is not the best way to do business.  Hence my limited board.

What I can do and not screw up on is look at art.  It requires no work as it’s something on Pinterest that doesn’t require cooking, assembling, or the distant promise of perfect obliques.  You just get to gaze lovingly at cool stuff other people painstakingly made.  Of interest to me lately has been portrait painting and photography, like this gem.

I would like to do that someday, when I’m not home sick, when the couch isn’t so darn comfortable, and when I have the perfect balance of free time, creative energy, and inspiration.  So no time soon!  In the meantime, I’ll study what I like about the pictures I like–some may call it laziness, I call it the R&D phase.  And I’ll pin, and spend my blessed free time daydreaming about Capucine and Avedon in Paris.

I invite you to do what 9 other people have done and follow me or check out my Amazing Portraits or Pretties boards for all things Super Awesome.  Until then I’ll be gaining passive knowledge as lazily as I can.

The Last 2.5 Years in 2.5 paragraphs

I love writing.  I miss it.  Baby happened August 25, 2010, hence the hiatus.

Since my last post, I have learned a lot of valuable skills that will serve my family well in a post-apocalyptic world, like embroidery and wine blogging in haiku.  You have no idea when a fume blanc poem or elegantly-stitched throw pillow might save you from doom.



Cordureindeer is here

I have also learned a bit about photography.  I love it because it’s an art form I can practice while sitting around on a Sunday afternoon watching my son eat chili.  Check out this rad chili montage:


Captain Chilibeard Contemplates Life



There you have it.  I hope to post more ARTS soon.  Until then, check out this owl I made that I entered into the Bennett Martin library’s “Lincoln at Night” show last summer.  I was not going to enter but my brilliant friend Zeljka Hassler convinced me to over drinks at Barrymore’s.  The conversation went something like this:

ME: But it’s not perfect, I can do better if I had more time, it has glue all over it.

ZELJKA:  Have you read Fifty Shades of Grey?  That book has glue ALL OVER IT!

I conceded and the owl became the hit of the show’s 3 and under demographic, who aren’t much for fine art photography and didn’t even notice the glue.


Owl be back