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Archives for March 2017

Self harm is not the only way to cope

12-15 year olds are most susceptible to begin self harming.

Self harm is hurting oneself on purpose as a means of coping. It’s difficult to diagnose and even harder to understand as it goes against our biological intuition to avoid pain and injury. Most instances of self harm go unnoticed, but roughly 2 million cases are reported annually in the U.S. While it can be easy to slip into self harming, the road out is lonely, scary, and anything but smooth.

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Self Harm Infographic

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The Break: Trauma or social issues

Self harm is not typically the first step people take to reconcile unrest. You will often hear people who self injure say they started cutting or burning themselves after experiencing a traumatic event or after a long period of numbness or sadness.

When you keep all your problems in, it feels like you’re screaming inside. But when you cut or burn yourself, the pain is more physical. You feel like you’re releasing that scream.

So what are those who self harm dealing with? It’s a laundry list.

Unhealthy relationships | Bullying | Depression

Work stress | Drug, sexual, and domestic abuse

Financial distress | Loss of loved one

And why is self injuring an attractive option for dealing with these struggles? The reasons vary, but the common thoughts that they want attention or want to die are dangerous stereotypes. People who self injure need help, but not necessarily the way you think. They are not crazy or dangerous, just coping with trauma. And while it is certainly not an excuse, self harm is very common:

20% of people in the world self harm

40% of college students admit to trying self harm

17% teenagers have used self harm to cope

60% of those who self harm are female

Many conceal their cuts or bruises so others don’t worry or think differently of them. Very rarely is cutting or self harming a suicide attempt. Most often, they need new outlets to cope with their pain, whether that’s talking to someone or making new friends.

Self harm is not just cutting

Razor blades. Scars on wrists and legs. Commonly seen images of self harm hardly tell the whole story. These images and actions don’t carry the weight of bleeding cuts dripping down an arm, but they can have equally dire consequences. Binge drinking kills 6 people daily in the US. And while not all are related to sadness or coping with emotional pain, many are.This is in no way exhaustive, but below are some other self injurious methods:

Burning | Hitting or banging head

Punching hard objects | Picking scabs

Pulling out hair | Binge drinking

The symptoms and long term concerns

It’s easy to assume someone might be practicing self harm: they wear heavy, dark makeup, wear dark clothing that covers their arms and legs at all times, they listen to slow, gloomy music with lyrics centered on depression and not fitting in. These are based on some semblance of truth, and are possible red flags, but by no means are they a guarantee someone is self harming. Likewise, someone who wears suits or sundresses and loves country western could harbor a desire to self harm. Look for cuts and blood stains, but also isolation, negative self image, and irritability. If you notice someone displaying these symptoms and you believe they are self harming, seek help from a qualified professional or the person’s legal guardian if a minor.

It’s easy to downplay the significance of self harm. We see it in movies, online, and even in our music and literature. Certain websites and media glorify self harm as a cool thing to do. But any relief is often short lived. The unintended consequences, however, can last forever. Injuries and cuts can become worse than planned and become habit forming. Self harm is an attractive option for short term relief and as a way to punish yourself for the problems in your life. That’s why the first step is to understand that self harm is dangerous and not a way out from the pain you feel.

Healing and recovering

Self injury serves as a distraction or a way of relieving tension and anxiety. But that merely serves as a reaction to the effects of the problem, not the problem itself. The issue may very well be obvious and infiltrate your day-to-day life, but it could also be a mystery: a heavy cloud that you don’t understand and cannot get out from under. Take some steps towards opening up a conversation about your pain with yourself and someone you trust.

Part of what makes self harm such a dangerous and vacuous situation is that many carry their burdens in secret. There’s no way around it, telling someone about your pain and trauma is scary and uncomfortable. So choose the right person, one who you trust and won’t pass blame or judgment. And if someone comes to you with their self harm experiences, listen and love. Don’t show disgust or panic and ask them to talk through their self harm experience to understand their emotions. If necessary, encourage them to talk to a therapist or trauma specialist. Starting a conversation is the most difficult obstacle for many dealing with self injury and coping with trauma. The voyage to healthy coping isn’t over, but once you start moving, you’ll find the waters a little less choppy.

A lifelong battle with self harm

Much like grappling with any crutch or addiction, fighting against the allure of self harm is a lifelong struggle. Slip-ups and regression back to self harm are common, but certainly not inevitable. Experts tell us to diagnose potential triggers and dangerous situations to avoid and experiment with new coping skills: writing, drawing, or exercise. Always remember, things can get better and you don’t have to carry this burden alone. Release any pain you’re holding onto by sharing your story. Know that others are dealing with similar traumas and social concerns; they could benefit from your path to learning a better way to cope.

If an emergency call 9-1-1 immediately. Talk to someone 24/7 about self harm: 1-800-237-TALK.

Sometimes it’s easier to begin by opening up to a trusted friend or family member. When you’re ready, find a counselor or therapist you feel comfortable talking to.

Spring clean your health and space

Ahh spring! Ride that burst of energy the warm wind and long days provide by opening your home and mind to a fresh start with a spring clean. Spring cleaning can take you further than getting rid of clutter in your house. Take the opportunity to declutter your body and mind. Let the colors of the wind blow through your hair and make some profound transformations with just a few quick spring clean tasks.


Simplify your closet/wardrobe

Lose the stuff that you love, but hate how it makes you look. You don’t need that kind of pressure lurking in your closet. Only wear the articles of clothing that make you feel the most comfortable and confident. Not everyone’s interests lend to the minimalist style, but eliminating the stuff you have just because you feel bad throwing away is counterproductive.

Now that you’ve cleared out some items, reorganize! Put the workout clothes in the front. Make it easy and appealing to work out, even if it’s for just a few minutes.

Raid your pantry and reorganize your treats

Healthy ingredients and treats should be the first thing you see when you go to scour the pantry at 8pm. Don’t battle fighting off the allure of kettle corn and cookies. You won’t win.

Keep the sugary snacks out of sight and out of mind except for a special, rare occasion.

Plan meals for the week or do a full Sunday meal prep

The last thing many want to do after a long Monday (Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.) at work is destroy your kitchen making dinner. And while Taco Bell is delicious, it probably shouldn’t be a staple of your diet. Take a stab at meal prepping on Sundays instead. You might spend a few hours cutting veggies, but your weekday self will thank you later. While you’re at the store gathering supplies for Sunday’s cook-a-thon look for these springtime items:

Fresh, organic, in-season fruits and vegetable | Whole grains | Healthy fats (olive oil, real butter (no typo, you’re welcome)


Spring clean your kitchen

While regularly wiping down counters and cutting boards is probably your common practice, take it one step further this spring by sanitizing. Deadly germs and bacteria are more likely found in your kitchen than your bathroom and we all sanitize that room. Depending on the size of your kitchen it shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes.

Cleaning solution: 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach to 1 quart of water

Schedule annual health appointments

This is really important. It’s easy to forget about an annual physical when you’re feeling fit as a fiddle. It often takes under 15 minutes and will give you a sense of ease knowing you are healthy. Also stay up to date with dentist and eye appointments. These visits can save you a lot of time and money later on.

Discard expired and unneeded medications

If you can’t remember why you have a medication or the pills look discolored, throw it out (or to a community take-back program if required). Not only is it clutter, it can be downright dangerous. Some medications turn rancid or lose their effectiveness over time and can actually make your illness more serious. In fact, storing drugs in your bathroom is the worst place. Moisture and heat contribute to lost effectiveness. Try storing them in a cool and dry place instead.

Spring clean your email

If you’re like millions of other Americans and have over 100 unopened emails sitting in your inbox. BREATHE. DELETE. REPEAT. It’s a pain to actually unsubscribe from email lists, but just take a few minutes each day for a week and you’ll notice a sizable change in your usual morning hatred for opening your mailbox.


Get a health app

If you need a boost to get motivated on your workout, or looking to take things a step further, look into the plethora of fitness and health apps. Below are some of the most popular exercise and diet apps available:

    • Sworkit. This app includes video workouts designed to fit around busy schedules with workouts from 5 -120 minutes long.
    • MyFitnessPal. Track your intake and use of calories with MyFitnessPal. You can set goals and note every single thing you eat so you know exactly how healthy your diet and exercise regimen really is.
    • Johnson and Johnson 7 Minute Workout. This one is self-explanatory. It’s quick and gets you moving.
    • Jefit. A workout app designed to motivate and make exercise data easily digestible.
    • Cyclemeter. Designed for runners and cyclists, this app monitors mile times, average speed, and tracks your distance with GPS.
    • Charity Miles. An app that lets you exercise for a charity and has corporate sponsors foot the bill. It’s a win-win.
    • ShopWell. This tool has nearly every product on a grocery store’s shelves in a database. You can fill out a grocery list using ShopWell to make sure it fits within your diet.
    • Zombies, Run. For something a little more goofy, try outrunning zombies with this interactive game. You have missions dependent on how much ground you can cover.


Go outside

Thaw out from the winter grind and breathe some fresh spring air. And it’s not just about getting fresh air. A Harvard study found that spending time outdoors increases memory, fitness, happiness, and reduces inflammation. What are you waiting for? Go play!

Donate to a charity

Nothing feels better than giving. Choose a charity or a volunteer opportunity that will impact your local community. If you have an old car lying around, consider donating it to Rawhide. We use those cars to fund programs that benefit youth in need of their own spring clean fresh start.

The great American license plate map: 50 years of plates

The Great American License Plate Quiz

From initials painted on a bumper to specialty plates supporting the Quilting Association of Montana, the license plate is on quite the journey.

The modern license plate blurs the line between vehicle identification, advertising, fundraising, and personal expression. Lavish compared to the days of handmade leather, porcelain, and soybean plates (animals tended to prefer the soybean).

See the evolution of your state’s license plate and let us know your favorite. We’re going to go out on a limb and say it’s not this gem from the Blue Sky State:


Oklahoma License Plate

Photo source http://jalopnik.com/the-ten-worst-state-license-plates-909195524

The First License Plate

Plates were introduced in Paris in the late 19th century to lend credibility to a machine violently shaking forward due to gasoline explosions about 2 feet from its human operator (i.e. a car). In 1901, New York became the first state to require license plates, and in 1903, Massachusetts issued the first state made plates. By 1918, all states required some sort of license plate on personal vehicles.


First License Plate


Initially made of porcelain, the earliest license plates were prone to cracking and chipping. In the US materials varied drastically before steel plates became federally required.


1956: The Standardized Plate

With highways going up across the nation, automobiles became the premiere mode of transportation for post-war America. This led to a mass reform of  the Department of Motor Vehicles and auto licensing and registration. Aluminum was chosen for its durability and low cost, and most plates were already the now mandated size of 12 in. by 6 in.

For the next 15 years license plates remained relatively simple. Many only listed the state, year, slogan, and number.

License Plates in 1969

It’s 1969. America reached the moon, The Brady Bunch debuted, Route 66 was replaced by President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway Act, and FLOWER POWER! But license plates remained rather vanilla.

What did your state’s license plate look like in 1969?


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1969 License Plate Map


Going Digital and the Specialty Revolution

License plates changed significantly in the early 1970’s when 3M introduced Scotchlite, a reflective sheet that sticks to aluminum. This new technology made placing graphics and other imagery on license plates easy and cheap. The result: some appealing and some appalling designs.

Ok, you’ve made it through the 80s designs that tried to balance new technology and classic practicality. 1990 brings you Windows 3.0 and Patrick Swayze’s prowess on the pottery wheel. Let’s see how the license plates fared:

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1990 License Plate Map

With new printing technology, states also began to offer specialty plates to support charities, sports teams, state tourism, and more. Florida alone has 123 different specialty plates to choose from, and West Virginia has no less than 10 plates devoted to NASCAR.

Every state has license plates dedicated towards environmental protection, charities, and foundations. Most require a donation and have an extra issuance fee. Those fees add up: In Nevada alone, specialty plates raised more than $50 million from 1998 to 2005.

Top 10 Oldest License Plates in Use

Many states update their designs at least once per decade. The states that don’t possess simple, iconic designs. These states got it right long ago and, despite minor updates, decided not to mess with success:

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Top 10 License Plate


Honorable Mention: Although the background scenery and color has changed drastically on Wyoming’s license plate, the rider and bucking horse image has been a staple since 1937.


Wyoming License Plate


License Plates in the Modern Age

After 60 years of professional artists tinkering with license plate designs, what are we left with? Well, it’s all mostly the same with the addition of a few “.coms.” Are they getting worse? Is it an example of functionality over aesthetics? Or do you like the new designs/advertising?

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Modern License Plate

The Future of the License Plate

Police cruisers already have the ability to scan license plates with cameras that automatically checks for stolen vehicles or those owned by someone wanted by police. This system can scan over 700 plates per hour. But what about the future of physical license plates? After going largely unchanged over the past 60 years, are we due for a license plate built for modern times?

An American think tank invented a digital system that would link your car directly to a database of car registration records. If your car was unregistered or lacked insurance, your shiny Benz would light up like the 4th of July, alerting other drivers, and police, all about your illegal status.

Instead of using license plate scanners, your plates would flash “Stolen” or “Expired.”


Join the Debate!

What do you think? Are you proud to put your state’s license plate on your ride? Will wirelessly connected license plates make the world safer? Do you feel your right to privacy is encroached on? Do you wish you could just paint your initials on the bumper?


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License Plate photos (maps and featured image) source: http://www.15q.net/usindex.html

Honoring International Women’s Day

March 8th is International Women’s Day. Although relatively unheralded in the United States, this progressive women’s holiday is cherished in many nations and cultures.

  • Public holiday in 28 countries
  • Observed across 6 continents

International Women’s Day’s meaning ranges in different societies from a day of appreciation for women to a holiday for expanding women’s roles in all facets of society. The importance of strong female leadership and influence is not lost at Rawhide. Our female therapists, teachers, office staff, board members, and housemothers provide invaluable guidance and support to Rawhide’s mission.

And one leader stands out, mother to 351 sons, and Rawhide cofounder, Jan Gillespie.

History of International Women’s Day

It all began in New York City in 1908 as National Women’s Day. Later that year, a demonstration and strike was organized to call for better working conditions for female workers in New York’s garment industry, along with voting rights and other inequalities plaguing women. Two years later, the movement expanded into Western Europe. In 1975, the United Nations adopted International Women’s Day as a day of vital importance.

From men gifting yellow mimosas to women in Italy to massive demonstrations in Poland, International Women’s Day has many different faces. But they all have one goal: celebrating and advocating for the rights and influence of women.

Our Fearless Leader

We have countless stories of Jan Gillespie’s incredible passion and expertise for helping at-risk youth (and her beloved animals!). Jan initiated Rawhide’s partnership with NFL legend Bart Starr by suggesting they look up his number in the phone book and asking Bart directly. It worked.

Former at-risk youth and Rawhide guy Rodney LaCanne called Jan “the solid foundation of Rawhide.” She demanded respect and held every one of her Rawhide sons to high expectations, but she still gave far more than she received. She spent over 30 years as a housemother, spiritual guide, and friend to hundreds of kids in their darkest hours.

Jan international women's day

Without Jan Gillespie and the other wonderful women advancing our mission, Rawhide would be merely another great idea lost to time.

International Women’s Day 2017

2017 has two separate, but mutually advantageous themes: Women in the Changing World of Work (Planet 50-50 by 2030) and #BeBoldForChange. Both call for gender equality by not accepting anything but fair treatment.

Make a note to commemorate March 8th, 2017, whether you partake in a march, celebrate achievements of women, wear purple, or simply take some time to thank a special woman in your life.

Suffragette and women’s activist Alice Paul summed it up nicely nearly 100 years ago,

I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality.

Hopefully when the next century rolls around, there will be no dispute.