Tag Archives: Kristin Mitchell Foundation

State of the Blog: My Top 10 Most Popular Blog Posts of 2014

Delaware State Fair 2010

In some ways, 2014 was not my best year of blogging.

In other ways, it was excellent.

The not-so-good was in the quantity of posts.  I ended the year with 137 new posts. By my standards (admittedly, pretty high to begin with), that’s pathetic. How do you call yourself a blogger when you ONLY BLOG FOR A THIRD OF THE DAMN YEAR?!

But you know what? We’re not going to dwell on that. Another year is here and there’s always room for improvement, right?

Instead, I want to focus on the 10 most popular posts in 2014 here on the blog. By most popular, I’m talking number of views.

Unless you happen to be a big-name blogger with thousands of followers and a book deal (or three), every blogger wonders if anybody is out there reading. Even when you check your stats and see numbers that indicate that someone, somewhere in the world is paying attention, there’s still a lingering doubt that wonders if what you’re saying in this space makes a difference.

I’m not a big name blogger and I certainly don’t have a book deal (yet), but I know this: I’m incredibly proud of the 10 blog posts I wrote that received the most views in the past year. thanks to all of you. (Some of these were written pre-2014, but for various reasons, experienced a bit of increased traction over the past 12 months.

Links take you to the actual post.

10. The Sunday Salon: Yet Another Best Books of 2014 List
I love lists. I especially love lists that feature books. So, when everyone was sharing every possible incarnation of best books lists several weeks before the end of the year, I had to jump into the fray by offering up my list of “best books I read in 2014 that were published in 2014.” Apparently, other people like lists of books as much as I do. (That’s good because I have more such lists from 2014 in the works.)

9. Book Review: My Beef with Meat, by Rip Esselstyn
A post from 2013 that continues to get a decent amount of traffic. I’m not sure if this is linked someplace, but it resonates with people for some reason.  

8. Book Review: The Returned, by Jason Mott
I’m guessing that this review got some attention because of the TV show that it is based on. Of all the books I’ve reviewed, it was just okay … not one of my favorites.

Seinfeld - show

7. Punch Lines: On Jerry Seinfeld and Autism
When comedian Jerry Seinfeld mentioned in a November 2014 interview with Brian Williams that he thought he might be on the autism spectrum, several people saw Mr. Seinfeld’s statement as less than … what? Less than genuine? Less than heartfelt? In the ensuing backlash, I wrote, “If we truly believe that there isn’t one autism, then there’s no room for throwing punch lines when one of our own is vulnerable.  We need to truly reflect on what the meaning of “not one autism” means and we need to truly embrace the spectrum for what it is – as a place where we all need to co-exist together.  This isn’t a battle of who has the more difficult autism – because we are all fighting difficult battles.  And through it all, there is too much at stake for us, for our kids, for our friends and our loved ones.”

Kristin text

Text message Kristin Mitchell sent to her boyfriend, who was later charged with killing her. Photo credit: The Kristin Mitchell Foundation, www.kristinskrusade.org

 

6. forever 21: remembering kristin
I never met Kristin Mitchell, yet her murder at the hands of her boyfriend has profoundly affected me in a way I can’t quite put into words. I am humbled to use this space to remember her with this post (which has been repeated here several times) and to honor her memory however I can.

5. Book Review: Sea Creatures, by Susanna Daniel
My most popular book review, one that was written for TLC Book Tours in August 2013 but continued to get a lot of traffic this year. 

Philadelphia Flower Show

4. For Sonya
Probably my most controversial post, but one that I don’t regret publishing.  This case brings out the nasty in people in a way I never imagined.

3. #SaveDallas and a Piece of Our Childhoods
I was pretty active on Twitter during the six weeks after “Dallas” was cancelled by TNT and fans were trying to save this iconic show. Unfortunately, our effort wasn’t successful but I still think it was worth it.

Daffodils in snow 4

2. On National Adoption Day, Baby G. Still Waits
I am beyond humbled that this post is #2. Thank you for caring so much about Baby G. As we go into Year 4 of this ordeal, her story and that of my friends becomes even more heartbreaking and maddening. I hope and pray that 2015 is the year they are reunited as a family … because as we turn the calendar to another year without a resolution in this case, they are still waiting. (A disappointing update on this is that the ACLU of Wisconsin declined to take the case.)

And the most popular post of 2014?

1. Weekend Cooking: Hits and Misses with ALDIs LiveGFree Products
Seriously, I should send ALDI an invoice for this one because this has been my #1 top-ranked post since I hit publish on it back in May 2014. I even had the guy who worked on the LiveGFree packaging email me! For real. This has to be on some website someplace (I can’t figure out where) but it is has staying power. Who knew?

As I typically do at this time of year, I’ve been reflecting on the blog and my writing and what I want I do here. I have some thoughts and goals, but would like to hear from you. What posts resonate with you most? Do you most enjoy the book reviews? The food posts? The advocacy posts, such as the ones about Kristin and G.? What do you want to see more of in 2015?

Wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy and safe New Year!

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still remembering kristin

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens (30)

You are not forgotten today.

http://melissafirman.com/forever-21-remembering-kristin/

Remembering you and thinking of your family with love.

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forever 21: remembering kristin

KristinAt 21, Kristin Mitchell had her entire life ahead of her.

She had a brand new college degree from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

A family bursting with pride, with love. A wonderful job lined up with a well-known international food company.

And a boyfriend who killed her – three weeks after this photo was taken.

Three weeks.

With her entire life ahead of her.

Kristin was in the process of ending the relationship when her boyfriend came to her Conshohocken, Pa. apartment. He had some possessive tendencies.

Kristin text

Text message from Kristin Mitchell to her boyfriend.
He would kill her just a few hours later.
The message was retrieved after her death by Kristin’s father, Bill.

Kristin didn’t know that breaking up with her boyfriend – something that young adults do every day – would leave him so violent, so enraged that he would stab her more than 50 times in her own kitchen. She didn’t know what domestic violence experts know, that statistics show that the leaving is the most dangerous time in a relationship.

She didn’t know that she was, at 21, a victim of domestic abuse.

It is because of the efforts of her friends and family, who established The Kristin Mitchell Foundation in her memory, that many more people now know what Kristin and her friends tragically did not.

That dating violence is real.

That it is prevalent.

That women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rate of dating violence – almost three times the national average – according to the Bureau of Justice.

That there are warning signs.

That there is help.

That it can and does happen on idyllic college campuses to 21 year old students whose whole lives are ahead of them.

We worry about our kids as we send them back to school, as we let go. We worry about who they choose to accept into their midst, whether it is on an innocent playground or an idyllic college campus.

We worry about what they don’t know, and what we also don’t know.

And we worry about what we do know, about what lurks, who is plotting harm, who we know (and who we don’t) that has the capability to stab us 50 times, in our kitchen or randomly on the street in broad daylight.

Sometimes, as in the tragedy that befell the Mitchell family eight years ago, our greatest fears and those we didn’t know were our greatest fears actually become our own personal reality show, one with reruns nonstop on every unchangeable channel of our lives.

And then it is back to the beginning, of trying to prevent and spread awareness and educate and inform of the dangers we know are out there.

Of keeping vigil for a daughter and remaining vigilant for all the other daughters in name only.

Of keeping hold of a memory and letting go of privacy.

Of keeping one’s age forever 21 instead of laughing about turning another year older.

Today would have been Kristin Mitchell’s 30th birthday. I’ve repeated versions of this post on special days because doing so might make a difference in the life of one person and one family. Because if one family doesn’t have to live the nightmare of the Mitchell family, and if one person is saved, then that is all that matters. 

I never met Kristin, yet my posts about her are among the most-read posts on this blog, according to the search term statistics. I don’t know whether that is good or bad. All I know is that she continues to help save lives and make a difference. I’m only the messenger here. 

Click here for more information about The Kristin Mitchell Foundation, the annual Kristin’s Krusade event, and information on dating violence and domestic abuse.

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In the Face of Inaction, Kristin’s Call for Change

I have to wonder how many members of the House of Representatives ever downloaded a text message like this from their 21 year old daughter’s phone, after she had been murdered (stabbed more than 50 times in her own kitchen) by her boyfriend.

I’m guessing not many.

If they had – in an odd, bizarre, twist of fate way – then Tuesday night might not have happened. Or, maybe it may have happened a bit differently.

That’s when the House of Representatives, in the midst of the fiscal cliff craziness and blocking federal aid to devastated Hurricane Sandy victims, made yet another unbelievable head-shaking move. (One that leads us a bit closer to living in A Handmaid’s Tale land, but that’s another post.)

By allowing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to die without a vote on Tuesday night, the House of Representatives basically told victims of domestic violence and their families that they don’t matter.

I’ve written about Kristin Mitchell’s story before – here, and here, and here. And I will continue to write about Kristin, because this story is so deeply personal to me for reasons only a handful of people know.

The reality is that domestic violence still carries a stigma and real people are still living in fear. Despite the statistics, we don’t want to believe that people we know are being abused.

Your coworker in the next cubicle with a never-ending supply of Hershey Kisses.

Your best friend since kindergarten.

Your younger sister, who cheerfully wore the hideous maid of honor dress in your wedding.

Your neighbor up the street with the gorgeous lawn.

Your kids’ bus driver who always waves as she drives away.

Your college roommate.

And when it comes to domestic violence on college campuses? In teen dating relationships?

We want to believe that everything is as picture perfect as it appears on prom night, that we’re all slow-dancing happily ever after, and that domestic violence – and teen dating violence, in particular, doesn’t exist.

It’s not. Young women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rate of violence at the hands of someone they know.

Think about that for a second.

Now, think about your representatives who decided on New Year’s Day that this wasn’t important enough to do anything about.

That THE VERY LIFE of your coworker, your best friend, your sibling, your cousin, your neighbor, your babysitter, your child was not important enough to vote on.

So where do we go from here?

Since their daughter Kristin’s death in 2005, the Mitchells have been a family that have transformed their profound tragedy into incredible change

The Mitchells are doing something about dating violence. They’re helping to lead the way when those in charge fail to do so.

Through the Kristin Mitchell Foundation, grant funding is available for projects that help to raise awareness among young adults and teens about Dating Violence Prevention.  Preference is given to projects designed to raise awareness among college-aged young adults.  However, proposals will also be considered for projects designed to reach high school students.


Funding requests for each project can be up to $3,000. Projects with a total budget of more than this range must show, in the application, where additional funding will be drawn from.

The projects should focus on one or more groups of young adults within the Greater Philadelphia area (Philadelphia and/or Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Bucks counties), and/or the following areas in Maryland: Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, and Charles County. Consideration will also be given for projects in other counties in PA and MD, provided that funding from the Kristin Mitchell Foundation is available.

Proposals submitted for consideration in March must be received by February 15th. Proposals submitted for consideration in September must be received by August 15th.  

Click here for more information, including the official KMF Grant Funding Application and additional details. 

As shown by the House of Representatives actions this week, our elected officials don’t seem to want to be the leaders for the change we need. Now more than ever, it’s up to us to be that change at the grassroots level, by initiating the projects that can help make a difference. 

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copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.
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Still Remembered

Kristin Mitchell, on her
May 15, 2005 graduation day
from Saint Joseph’s University.

We were in the ladies room before our afternoon presentation, making the type of small talk common to business associates that have just met.

“So. Where are you from, originally?” my counterpart asked, correctly detecting that my accent was not of Pittsburgh origins.

“Philadelphia,” I answered.

My colleague nodded, affirming what she had guessed.

“Where exactly, in Philadelphia?”

I answered with my hometown and, for good measure, my college alma mater.

“Oh, wow,” she said. “I went to St. Joe’s.”

A round of NoKiddingSmallWorld commenced. I asked when she graduated; she answered with a year so far enough removed from those of any mutual friends we would possibly have in common. She mentioned a year.  I drew in a breath. I did, as it turned out, know someone who attended St. Joe’s around that time.

“Did you happen to know Kristin Mitchell?” I asked.

A pause.

“Oh ….” An intake of breath. “Yes. I did. She was two years older than me.”

We went quiet.

“I know the family,” I said, by way of explanation. “I never actually had the chance to meet her, but I’ve met her family during a few events at my previous job with a domestic violence program.”

“It was her boyfriend, right? Who killed her?”

Text that Kristin Mitchell sent to her boyfriend.
She would be killed just a few hours later.
It would be her father who would retrieve the text from his daughter’s phone.

“Yes.”

As I drove home, I couldn’t stop thinking about how improbable it was that I would meet someone in this tiny hamlet on a mountain who also knew Kristin and her story.

I thought about how this week had brought another anniversary to the Mitchell family, that of 7 years since her parents and brother last saw Kristin, on her graduation day from St. Joseph’s University.  It would also be the first time they would meet her boyfriend, the same one who would kill their daughter just three weeks later on June 3, stabbing her more than 50 times as Kristin attempted to break up with him.

I thought about how different things could have been – should have been – for Kristin. How she should have been leading a life like that of my business colleague and myself, with a career and a family.

I thought about my 10 year old daughter I was heading home to, about how the conversations in our house are changing, about how we are talking a lot about healthy relationships and how someone should treat you in a relationship. I thought about how much I want her to know.

I thought about how much I wanted Kristin’s family to know that even in this tiny, rural town, hundreds of miles from where they last saw her, that afternoon Kristin was most definitely remembered.

From “Forever 21,” written on August 24, 2010 (Kristin’s birthday):

At 21, Kristin Mitchell had her entire life ahead of her. 

She had a brand new college degree from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. A family bursting with pride, with love. A wonderful job lined up with a well-known international food company.

And a boyfriend who killed her – three weeks after this photo was taken.

Three weeks.

Her entire life.

Kristin was in the process of ending the relationship when her boyfriend came to her Conshohocken, Pa. apartment. He had some possessive tendencies.

Kristin didn’t know trying to leave him would leave him so violent, so enraged that he would stab her more than 50 times in her own kitchen. She didn’t know what domestic violence experts know, that statistics show that the leaving is the most dangerous time in a relationship.

She didn’t know that she was, at 21, a victim of domestic abuse.

It is because of the efforts of her friends and family, who established The Kristin Mitchell Foundation in her memory, that many more people now know what Kristin and her friends tragically did not. That dating violence is real. That it is prevalent. That there are warning signs. That there is help. 

That it can and does happen on idyllic college campuses to 21 year old students whose whole lives are ahead of them.

We worry about our kids as we let go, as we send them on their way to begin their lives whether it is on an innocent playground or an idyllic college campus. We worry about  who they choose to accept into their midst. 

We worry about what they don’t know.  

We worry about what we, as their parents, don’t know.

And even if we’re not parents, we worry about what lurks, who is plotting harm, who we know (and who we don’t) that has the capability to stab us 50 times, in our kitchen or randomly on the street in broad daylight.  

Sometimes, as in the tragedy that befell the Mitchell family, our greatest fears and those we didn’t know were our greatest fears actually become our own personal reality show, one with reruns nonstop on every unchangeable channel of our lives.  

And then it is back to the beginning, of trying to prevent and spread awareness and educate and inform of the dangers we know are out there.  Of keeping vigil and remaining vigilant, of keeping hold while letting go.  

Click here for more information about The Kristin Mitchell Foundation, Kristin’s Krusade, as well as what to do if you suspect someone is a victim of dating violence and domestic abuse. 

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Run Life Your Way


(In Kristin’s memory, and in hopes that this might help another, I am reposting this one again.  Because the message can’t be heard enough.)

“I run for hope, I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife
I run for you and me, my friend
I run for life …”
(“I Run for Life” by Melissa Etheridge)

At 21, Kristin Mitchell had her entire life ahead of her.

She had a brand new college degree from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. A family bursting with pride, with love. A wonderful job lined up with General Mills.

And she had a boyfriend who killed her – on June 3, 2005, three weeks after this photo at her college graduation was taken.

Three weeks.

Her entire life.

Kristin was in the process of ending the relationship when her boyfriend came to her Conshohocken, Pa. apartment. He had some possessive tendencies, judging from a text message of Kristin’s, a text that her father later retrieved from her cell phone.
Those words still chill me, someone who would only come to know Kristin posthumously through my work with a a domestic violence organization that brought me into contact with her incredibly brave, determined, and passionate parents. (More on them in a bit.)
Kristin didn’t know that trying to break up with her boyfriend would leave him so violent, so enraged that he would stab her more than 50 times in her kitchen. She didn’t know what domestic violence experts know, that statistics show that the leaving is the most dangerous time in a relationship.
She didn’t know that she was, at 21, a victim of domestic abuse.
It is because of the efforts of her friends and family, who established The Kristin Mitchell Foundation in her memory, that many more people now know what Kristin and her friends tragically did not. That dating violence is real. That it is prevalent. That there are warning signs.
That it can and does happen on idyllic college campuses to 21 year old students whose whole lives are ahead of them.
Today, six years after her death, The Kristin Mitchell Foundation supports educational efforts that raise awareness among college students about the potential dangers of unhealthy dating relationships. Her parents, Bill and Michele, have worked tirelessly to change legislation regarding the teaching of tween and teen dating violence education curriculums in Maryland, where they reside and where they raised Kristin.  For five years, her friends and family have coordinated Kristin’s Krusade, a 5K Run/Walk, in order to try and raise awareness and ultimately make a difference in the lives of others.
Kristin didn’t know what lurked on the other side of her apartment door on June 3, 2005, three weeks after she stepped off Saint Joseph’s campus as a new college graduate.
All Kristin Mitchell wanted was to walk through the door to her new life that was waiting for her. To run life her way.
Because of her and the efforts of her family and friends, maybe someone else can.

“And someday if they tell you about it
If the darkness knocks on your door
Remember her, remember me
We will be running as we have before
Running for answers
Running for more ….”

“I Run for Life” ~ Melissa Etheridge

Click here for more information on Kristin’s Krusade and the Kristin Mitchell Foundation.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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On Being Mentioned in More Than the Curve

Sometimes bloggers like me write posts like this one (“Forever 21”) with the hope that they might make a bit of a difference to someone.  That they’ll be noticed.

And sometimes, that actually happens.

And when it does, I’m profoundly grateful. 

Tonight, I’m very appreciative to a guy I’ve never met (at least, not that I know of) named Kevin.  Kevin runs an informative and nicely-designed – and pretty popular – website called More Than the Curve, a guide to the best restaurants, bars, and more in Conshohocken, Pa.  It’s only a year old but he’s doing great things with it.

Like this:

I just learned that Kevin included a link to my most recent post about Kristin Mitchell in his latest News and Gossip post on his site and I am astounded – and humbled – to discover how many people have read it as a result of his generosity.

With that particular post, though, it’s not about recognition for myself or my blog. It’s about awareness, about making people aware of the signs of dating violence so that they don’t become a statistic like Kristin.

We never know who is reading our words, do we?  And who needs to.

Thanks to Kevin, a few lives may have been saved by reading some of Kristin’s last words, pictured here.

You have my sincere thanks.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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