What I Learned

Well it is time to finish up with the Minnesota trip, it was fabulous; great fun, great people and really two truly wonderful causes to support and talk about. I don’t want to end this on a sad or terrible note; however, I think it is important to remind everyone why we went to Minnesota, why we walked in the cold and the rain.

Kay Marie Sisto

Kay Marie Sisto

We walked in memory of Kay, one victim of domestic violence who lost her life. Please visit her sister Kim at My Inner Chick to learn more.

Some terrible facts about domestic violence, why this is important to support solutions and an end:

  • One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
  • Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew.
  • Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.
  • Nearly one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner.
  • Nearly 7.8 million women have been raped by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Sexual assault or forced sex occurs in approximately 40-45% of all battering relationships.
  • 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men have been stalked in their lifetime.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police. 1

These are just some of the cold facts of domestic violence, for more read the domestic violence fact sheet. If you are a victim of domestic violence, please seek help there are resources available. If you know someone who is at risk, please reach out to them, assistance is available.

We learned the power of life through organ donation over this weekend also. We met Ed Dean, who received Kay’s lungs, saving his life. He drove twelve hours with his family to meet Kay’s family, walk in memorial, pray at her grave in thanks. It was a powerful testimony. If you aren’t an organ donor, please consider it there is so much need.

Mr. Ed Dean praying at Kay's Grave

Mr. Ed Dean praying at Kay’s Grave

What else did we learn and see?

Here are the last of the pictures from our four-day extravaganza in the great state of Minnesota.

We learned people still live in little red and white trailers. Even in the cold, the young man we suspect lived in this one was under the shelter with his computer, guess he didn’t get good reception inside. Isn’t this adorable?

Not a little red corvette

Not a little red corvette

We learned shopkeepers in Duluth are funny, just go ahead and shoplift in this store why don’t you? Prosecute and advertise!

Bad Criminals!

Bad Criminals!

We learned Red likes Moose chairs, isn’t she adorable? Please pay a visit the esteemed Red and her blog about the trip here.

A Throne for Red

A Throne for Red

We learned even wet and cold we can still smile!

To the end, dammit

To the end, dammit

We learned dinner with friends, both old and new makes things nearly perfect.

Friends, new and old

Friends, new and old

Thank you Kim, for the opportunity to participate and contribute; you welcomed us with open arms and made us feel part of a wonderful group of family and friends. Your warmth and hospitality made the trip so much grander than it already was just because we were supporting a cause close to both our hearts.

What I learned? Sometimes it is better to get outside of myself, outside of my comfort zone, let my walls down and reach out beyond the security of my electronic home (blog, internet) to the real people who make up my world. They are worth it, they are fabulous.

1 http://www.ncadv.org/files/DomesticViolenceFactSheet(National).pdf





  1. I met Kim when she visited England with her husband this year. She is one of the wonders of the universe, and it was an honour and treasured memory to meet her. The way she has used the experience of her sister’s cruel passing to shout against the appalling acts of domestic abuse which stain any culture which contains them is truly inspiring. She shows you that all things can be overcome, and the voices for good will never be silenced.

    • She does indeed. She and I share some common themes, meeting her and her entire family was a fabulous experience. Being able to contribute in some small way simply an added benefit. I continue to be amazed and awestruck by Kim.

      Thank you for stopping in, I hope you will come by again.

  2. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    This is FANTASTIC, Valentine 🙂 I didn’t know you were connected to Inner Chick. She’s amazing. Bless her, what she does in awareness.

    All these photos are so wonderful – happy, happy times (Red looks so casual & happy 🙂 )

    Enjoyed this. You’re like a magazine – total quality.

  3. Brilliant Val, so great you shared so much.. I learnt loads.. and I was in tears too at the picture of the gift of Kay’s lungs at the graveside.. So good to see You and Red having a great time out..
    We should never forget those who suffer at the hands of domestic violence and those who lost the battle..
    Sending you a Huge hug of admiration and respect for all you have been through and all that you do in aid of others..
    Bright Blessings
    Sue xxx

  4. Strange, Val, but your first three photos spoke to me: 1) I’ve been writing grant proposals for a domestic violence agency this past year… almost felt like I was reading my own work; 2) My ex was a recipient of an organ for transplant; nothing until now seemed more hopeless than waiting on a list when you suddenly have hours to spare. Perhaps one of the scarier times in my life. Thanks so much to all the folks who think about this and agree on their driver’s licenses to be a donor; 3) My new partner and I built one of those little trailers this past year from scratch … it’s a teardrop trailer, very retro (tracing back to at least the 1930’s and 1940’s, I believe) and a rolling miniature apartment with an awesome kitchenette hidden under the rear hatch door.

    Thanks for bringing awareness to the DV issue in general and to organ donation. Two very important concerns in more folks’ lives than we realize.

    I enjoyed the reflection about the value of friends. I just had that on my mind as I face spending this weekend on my own. I’m still settling in at this somewhat new place I’m living and realize I haven’t actually found any local friends to hang with when I have an open schedule. Have to get that resolved. Miss my gal friends back east and even in my previous hood. Girl power is so good for the soul. 🙂

    • You know it is strange, I have been here in this place for nearly 9 years but all my close friends are still in other cities hundreds of miles away. I think it is hard, especially with the work I do to make local friends, create new bonds.

      I am happy we had the opportunity to do this, the chance to actually spend time in each others presence. It is important.

  5. Good for you and Red. You’re to be commended for your willingness to get out of your comfort zone, and participate in such a worthy cause. Love the red and white trailer in the photo. Looks cozy! Also love the photo of you and Red. Fabulous.

    • Thanks Monica, it was a great trip and a wonderful treat to be able to do something worthwhile and spend time with friends all at the same time.

  6. So wonderful to see you and your friends all smiling in those pictures. I also was struck to the core by the photo of Ed at the grave. Words can’t express how powerful that image is and the emotions it made me feel.

  7. Deborah the Closet Monster says:

    Oh, man. That picture of Mr. Dean kneeling at Kay’s grave . . . I can’t stop crying.

    I love this post. I love your opening up about the lessons from this adventure.

    • They say pictures speak 1,000 words, that one is powerful. Although I wanted this to be both something to make you smile and something to make you think, I hope the real lessons I learned weren’t lost.

  8. Val. That is so nice that you got to hang around with your friends. It sounds like you guys bonded over a common burden for abused women and a memory of a particular abused woman. A truly beautiful series of articles; thanks for sharing them with me.

    • Tom I am so glad you enjoyed them. You are right, it was a wonderful time, despite the tragedy that brought us all together. We were I think uplifted and inspired.

  9. Thanks for sharing your memorable trip. How wonderful that you were able to connect with friends, old and new, while fighting for such a worthwhile cause – really 2 causes, when you consider the man who received Kay’s lungs. This is so, so inspiring.

    • Thanks Peg, it was a truly wonderful and inspiring trip. Mr. Dean was an unexpected delight and reminded me of the importance of being an organ donor.

      I think both Red and I enjoyed the trip, got some much needed rejuvenation and inspiration.

  10. How inspiring! I need to follow your example and get out of my little bubble. You and your friends are lovely!

  11. What a great event, and how amazing the way you all connected and had such a wonderful time. Well done to you all… so inspiring to read…

    • Thanks Valerie. I am glad it inspires, I hope it inspires enough others consider organ donation and if there is just one person currently in a violent relationship, they reach out for help.

  12. I admire you so much for going so far, to walk for someone you never knew, to support a cause that’s touched your own life.

    I’m glad your journey was safe — that you met new friends — and that you shared the story with us.

    Here’s to a time when domestic violence is something unheard of….

    • Thanks John. I am also glad I was able to do this, it forced me out of my comfort zone a bit and that is always a great thing. It was wonderful to support this cause, in part because it has touched my life but mostly because it continues to touch so many lifes.

      Agreed, here is to a time.

  13. I’m impressed that the two of you went so a great distance to participate …. well, and have fun, too! Because I have a little wine left in my glass, a toast to your team!

    • We planned it for months, it wasn’t a spur of the moment thing. Kim is someone we both follow and her sisters story one we both relate to. This was simply something we both felt strongly about.

      With good fortune and good timing it will something we will be able to do every year.

  14. It was so nice meeting both you and Red, all the way from Texas and South Carolina.
    Can’t wait to see you next year.

    • I just felt so humbled to meet all of you and be welcomed with such opened arms. As Kim knows this is a subject very close to my heart, one I speak up and out on frequently in this forum and many others. Coming to Duluth to walk was the very least I could do to support your family. I promise you, if I am able I will be there next year with bells on my ankles and my whinning about the wet and the cold kept to a bare minimum.

  15. During my four years in the police force – not a week went by without a call to attend to a DV case – yeah, it was so prevalent, we even had an acronym for it. Terrible – broken bones and homes. I would rather run down a snatch thief —

    My two adult daughters know more than a thing or two about self defence. God help that asshole who lays a finger on either one of them – and that’s before their Daddy or Brother steps in.

    • So many are touched, the ripple goes so far into the community beyond even the family and friends Eric. Over the years I have spoken to so many first responders who carry visions of family violence they have seen. It is such a terrible waste, such terrible devastation.

      Good for you for giving your daughters the tools they need, both the emotional tools and the physcial tools! More than this though, good for you for raising strong girls in a home of love where they know Daddy and brothers treat them with respect and kindness, this is the first step.

  16. singleworkingmomswm says:

    Wow, this is awesome! Good for you for doing this, Val. And, what a wonderful journey for such an important reason. XOXO-SWM

    • It was a great journey, for all the right reasons! Add to this I got to meet Kim who I have been following for so long and who I adore, well bonus!

  17. What a great thing to do, Val & Red. And Val this post really does shed some important light on two important topics.

    And I want that moose chair.

  18. I want me a moose chair. What I would do with it and where I would put it, I don’t know, but I *want* one. Awesome pics, all.

    Thank you for going, for representing, and for sharing. Until domestic violence ceases to exist, we can never talk about it enough.

    • It seems Beverly, everyone wants the chair; I think they might have a run on them.

      It was a spectacular event, for all the right reasons. A cause I have been intimately involved in for many years but this time I could do something for someone else, someone I loved. It made it special.

  19. The numbers make me want to hurt people for raising this azzhats. Do not get me started on the slap on the wrist which goes with most of it.

    Ed was amazing. He is so sweet and funny. He is a great spokesman for organ donation.

    Look at all those gorgeous ladies at the table at Little Angie’s! I am so glad we went. You know, I do believe we will have a much bigger group next year.

    Thank you for this trip. I think it did us both good.
    I love you.

    • I agree with you entirely my sister. Ed was a sweet and kind man, a wonderful spokesperson for organ donation.

      Isn’t that a great picture. I am so bummed we didn’t take pictures at the first table of the week. Oh well, next year.

      Love back at you. I am glad you were there!

      • We were merely being anti-tele, which was a really good thing considering the fun we had. 😉

  20. Great post Val, you touch 2 very important subjects.
    The first one very sad, in Spain domestic violence has increased with the economical crisis. This week 3 women were killed, a lot needs be changed, sadly the current government doesn’t even acknowledge these cases as a problem, they don’t call it domestic violence, they call it domestic disputes.
    They didn’t pass a law because the wording was not “appropriate”, just because it said “domestic violence” and would also refers to the cases of women killed as “murders”, sometimes the conservative party goes too far.
    I’m glad you enjoyed your time there.

    • You touch on a very important point, the escalation of domestic violence in economic downturns. This is true globally. We have seen our own political problems, our own polititians turn Domestic Violence and specifically Violence Against Women into talking points, it is terrible. You are so right, sometimes parties go to far to make their points.

  21. I LOVE this post. It makes you and Red so alive and human and inspirational. It is one thing to read from you beautiful women, quite another to see pictures of doing what you write about. I WILL be there one day, part of your circle, supporting each other and saving lives.

    Exploding with love ❤

  22. Yay! Looks like you had a very nice time. 🙂

  23. This is such a heartwarming read. One of the reasons I never remarried was to stay out of harm’s way. I didn’t want to piss anyone off enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’ve heard too much about women and girls as victims of domestic abuse. It breaks my heart.

    • Tess, as a survivor I yet remain ever hopeful of the best in people. The worst in them breaks my heart as well, yet still I remain hopeful. I suspect there is this piece of me that is a forever romantic, a piece which refuses to believe humans (except that one that did harm) are inately terrible.

      My fury at the violence burns red hot. I stand up and I speak out. I have learned to tell my story without glossing it over or hiding the bad parts. Yet still, I believe most people are good, most people are loving, most people are mostly kind and worth loving.

      With all that, well I guess I will just keep trying to love them!

  24. –Where do I begin?
    First off, I want to add to your facts above….Something our family did not know. When Kay signed the divorce papers to end her marriage, she was then in a “RED ZONE”–meaning it was a VERY dangerous time for her. Women must have a plan. Kay did not think Mike would kill her. HE DID. Oh, God, He did. He would not allow her to leave him. She was HIS. I wish I would have known this was such a DANGEROUS time for women. REMEMBER THIS. Please.

    Second, I LOOOOOOOOOOOVED meeting YOU and RED. I fell in love and consider you both part of my extended family. Several of my friends were quite impressed how you supported, walked, and were part our CAUSE to END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

    You are both beautiful, funny, intereting, empowering, & oh-so-fabulous.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I adore your perspective and photos about DULUTH.

    You both ROCK like Gaga.

    Xxxxxxx LOVE.


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