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Archive for category: teen angst

Bully Proof Your Family

09 Apr
April 9, 2013

As seen in the April 9, 2013 edition of the Red Bluff Daily News 

It seems last week I struck a nerve with many of you about bullying. I even encountered a wonderful woman at a local restaurant who began crying while sharing her experience. No matter who you are or what age, you can relate to bullying. Most of the statistics on line are geared towards school-aged children and they are staggering. 160,000 students skip school every day because of bullying and one in four teachers sees nothing wrong with forms of bullying and will only intervene four percent of the time.
The fact is, the bullies who began in schools grow up and if they didn’t mature out of their socially deviant behavior, they carry it through to adult hood. Sometimes kids who were bullied turn into bullies. The old saying hurting people hurt other people certainly applies here.
After I posted my video, I was drawn to the other videos that seemed to attach themselves to mine because of a central theme. I started watching them. Video after video of people hurt by others, people on video actually defending their bullying and videos of people who had committed suicide because of being bullied.
It struck me that the theme in these videos is shame. What seems to happen in the bullying process is the bully wants the target to feel so ashamed of themselves that they hate themselves. The bully wants the target to look at themselves in the mirror and feel such disgust that they devalue their human life. Especially anonymous bullies. Anonymous bullies are the worst because they know deep down that what they are doing is cowardly and wrong and that if they signed their name to what they were doing, they would never actually say things with such hateful magnitude. These are the bullies who may be to the right of left of you at a soccer game and you never would guess it was them.
When I saw the parallel between rates of suicide, homicide and shame I realized that the thing that could help these people is simply to tell someone. Most of the videos I saw were after someone had hurt themselves. Chances are that the bullying became intense enough for that person that they simply turned the hate inward and felt that the only way out was to die. I found out something they didn’t know and I want to share it with you. I never planned to make that video. Something just came over me and I wanted to speak to the anonymous person who keeps targeting me. It seemed like this video might reach them.
The secondary and more important gain was the outpouring of love that came back. People I never would have interacted with otherwise. Because I spoke about what happened, I was healed by literally fifty times more positive people than the one negative person. If I had not spoken about being bullied, I would have never heard such positive words. How many of you being bullied don’t tell anyone? How many of your kids don’t tell you they are bullied? What if you knew? Have you asked? What if you knew that by listening to someone about being made fun of you could change their life. Maybe you could save their life? Is there anyone you can imagine who isn’t worth saving?
Parents, ask your child if they are made fun of at school or otherwise. Adults, check in with your adult family and friends and see if they are hiding any shame. Talk to them about their worth, remind them that bullies are all bark and no bite and that you are there to make it stop. Stand behind those words, be proactive. Be your child’s hero if they need a champion.
I made another video on Youtube called Bully Proof Yourself. You can see me one week after I got the letter. I look brighter, happier and healed. What a difference holding on made. Imagine if I had just kept things to myself and let the bully win. There were many hero’s who came to my rescue since I received that letter. I appreciate you all.

Bully Proof yourself

04 Apr
April 4, 2013

Here is the video series I posted about being bullied and how I reacted. See what I learned about bully’s, what they want to do to harm you and what you can do to stop them from hurting you.

Being Bullied at 43

02 Apr
April 2, 2013

As seen in the April 2, 2013 edition of the Red Bluff Daily News

I am sitting here writing next weeks column on Thursday March 27th. On Tuesday a remarkable thing happened to me. I was bullied. It is not the first time, in fact, the same person has been sending hateful mail, emails and unwarranted hate to not only myself but people I am associated with, my place of business and even my friends, for about three years now. Before the Daily News changed their policies about anonymity on the web, they often posed as multiple people placing negative comments on my columns calling me out and trying to engage in a hate fest. I actually stopped writing for a while out of fear. The monomaniacal message is I am a scam, a pathetic loser who uses my column as a platform to pontificate my brand of crap and if you all only knew how sick I was, you would stone me on the corner of Main and Walnut under the clock tower.
On Tuesday, I received an anonymous three page hate letter spelling out for me in the most sarcastic of ways how fat I am and that I wear spandex, that I can’t spell, that my family is a disgrace, that I am trying to get rich and famous by convincing people I am something I am not and a few other not so fluffy descriptions of my character, my personality and my past. On the same day, I got a thank you text from a community member for a letter of recommendation I had written telling me how positive I am and that I make a difference. I was in a unique position to decide what I was going to believe.
There was a time in my life, maybe not that long ago where I would have died inside at the hate that I got. I know this, because I have been bullied by this person for a long time. It used to consume me in self pity and a sense of why is this happening to me? The fact is that every column I have written, every experience I have had becoming a better me and every letter, email and hello in the grocery store telling me how much my column matters has changed me. I am not insecure, I am not self conscious and I am not willing to allow hate to define me.
Bullying is a real problem, we sometimes think it is only between children who haven’t developed the conscience or social skills sets to realize what they are doing. Well, I am 43 and I am being bullied. I am me, doing what I do, whether you like me or not and I am being harassed, hurt and demeaned by an adult. Someone who goes to work every day and interacts with the community, parents their children and is loved by other people is targeting me at my home, my work and among my friends. Somehow they believe that they have the right to come at me bro’ and I have to take it. All done anonymously to boot. They feel they are entitled to try to get me fired, lose my friends and perhaps make me feel so hopeless I would end my life and never let me know who they are.
So, after I received the letter, I did something I have never done. I responded. Usually, I wouldn’t. Usually I would just keep it between me and my family. I made a video where I expected to say what I had to say and be over it, but apparently I struck a cord. You can see my response if you search Being Bullied at 43 on Youtube.
We will not eradicate bullying, but we can find ways to infuse love and acceptance into others so when the bullying happens, people are impervious to it. It is because I know who I am in God, what I mean to my family and my acceptance of my own wonderful nature and flaws combined that the bully has no power. I am stable at my core and therefor when the attacks come, I can bear the blow.
Love one another wholly and completely and when someone attacks, they will have the inner strength to not believe the lies and hate. Tell your child they are accepted for who they are and they may be resilient enough to not be affected by bullies. Tell your spouse, your sister and your brother to embrace their brand of weirdness so the pain of someone’s hate bounces off of them.
They tell me my video went viral. I never expected that to happen. My purpose was to talk to the anonymous person and that was the only way I could think of. Our town has dealt with a lot of pain this past few months. We can overcome if we all refuse to hate.

Crusty Sponge Syndrome

12 Mar
March 12, 2013

As seen in today’s edition of the Red Bluff Daily News

One of the interesting things I have noticed about the east coast is people do not ordinarily have fencing around their homes. It is quite common for a neighborhood to have vast open space between houses. You can clearly see into anyone’s yard, even when they have a pool.

Coming from California, this seems virtually unthinkable. We live in a state where privacy is only secondary to preventing a lawsuit. We would never think of having our back yards exposed to everyone’s eye’s or, at a minimum, to everyone’s animals who have no sense of boundaries.

Read more →

Joy Thieves

26 Feb
February 26, 2013

As posted in the Red Bluff Daily News today!

If I asked you what you wanted in life, most of you would pop off with the plain and simple answer, “I want to be happy.” That happiness is a relative term that may mean an overall state of being or the collecting of a life that includes things that make you happy.
Your happiness can manifest into your life in more ways than I can put into one column, but I can tell you the things that will steal your happiness within my five hundred word limit.
Gossiping, complaining, fault finding, making critical comments, being rude, being judgemental, telling secrets or any other negative activity will steal your joy. Engaging in these behaviors or associating with people who make these behaviors a part of their every day lives will lead to the theft of your joy.

Joy Thieves

26 Feb
February 26, 2013

Finding Peace In Stress

05 Feb
February 5, 2013

If I asked you, would you admit that you have character flaws that need improving? If I asked you, would you be able to tell me with all honesty, those parts of you that could benefit from some improvement?
When life is even keeled and the waters are calm, it is easy to see ourselves as good people who are accommodating and willing to bend for other people and their needs. It is easy to take one for the team, or give, when you are feeling your best or have more than enough to share. The behavior you exhibit when everything is lined up precisely doesn’t tell you much about yourself other than how you operate in ideal circumstances.
Evaluating how we operate when circumstances are at their worst, gives us a wonderful opportunity to see our character flaws and address them. Being pressed down by unfavorable situations shows us part of our nature that is often times unflattering, but it is a blessing if you embrace it.
If someone gossips about you, does something mean or nasty to your family, what do you do about it? If you are embarrassed by someone, belittled or shamed, what recourse do you take? If the clerk at the store is rude, if the economy is not ideal for your budget, if sickness wreaks havoc in your life, how do you manage the crisis? Are your go-to emotions, anger, depression, sarcasm and thoughts of revenge? How do you manage jealousy? If someone gets promoted, a new car, takes a vacation or otherwise benefits while you don’t, how do you react? Do you gossip about the merits they lack with other people? Do you resent them in their good fortune and pout privately because you don’t have anything to show for yourself?
Having peace in our lives is an ultimate goal. Peaceful people have an ability to weather storms with ease, like graceful trees in the wind, bending but not breaking. One of the best gifts you can give yourself is realizing what character traits steal your peace. It is through the challenging times that we can see the traits that keep us from peace. How we react to less-than-ideal situations. If money is tight, do you worry? If your spouse doesn’t respond to your text, do you become upset and controlling? If people gossip, do you jump in and join? If your kids are out of control, do you rage and scream at them?
The next time you are steeping in hot water, take a moment to realize how you are feeling. Acknowledge the fact that you are reacting in a negative, passive aggressive or non-peaceful way. Try to pinpoint the exact emotion you are feeling. Analyze it. Give it a name. When you are calm, look at what triggered that response in you and find ways to overcome it. You can change anything about yourself that doesn’t suit you, all you need to do is know what makes you think the way you do and why. Once you have the power of knowledge, you have the ultimate power to make change.
Wrestling with the negative emotions brought up by stressful events can be rewarding. Though it is normal to feel negative things, it isn’t a requirement. You don’t have to react to the same old issues the same old way. Once you know a better way to manage disappointment, stress, anxiety, shame, guilt, anger, jealousy, you can have peace. As you build your peace, you will see your positive life experiences expand.

Finding Peace In Stress

05 Feb
February 5, 2013

If I asked you, would you admit that you have character flaws that need improving? If I asked you, would you be able to tell me with all honesty, those parts of you that could benefit from some improvement?
When life is even keeled and the waters are calm, it is easy to see ourselves as good people who are accommodating and willing to bend for other people and their needs. It is easy to take one for the team, or give, when you are feeling your best or have more than enough to share. The behavior you exhibit when everything is lined up precisely doesn’t tell you much about yourself other than how you operate in ideal circumstances.
Evaluating how we operate when circumstances are at their worst, gives us a wonderful opportunity to see our character flaws and address them. Being pressed down by unfavorable situations shows us part of our nature that is often times unflattering, but it is a blessing if you embrace it.
If someone gossips about you, does something mean or nasty to your family, what do you do about it? If you are embarrassed by someone, belittled or shamed, what recourse do you take? If the clerk at the store is rude, if the economy is not ideal for your budget, if sickness wreaks havoc in your life, how do you manage the crisis? Are your go-to emotions, anger, depression, sarcasm and thoughts of revenge? How do you manage jealousy? If someone gets promoted, a new car, takes a vacation or otherwise benefits while you don’t, how do you react? Do you gossip about the merits they lack with other people? Do you resent them in their good fortune and pout privately because you don’t have anything to show for yourself?
Having peace in our lives is an ultimate goal. Peaceful people have an ability to weather storms with ease, like graceful trees in the wind, bending but not breaking. One of the best gifts you can give yourself is realizing what character traits steal your peace. It is through the challenging times that we can see the traits that keep us from peace. How we react to less-than-ideal situations. If money is tight, do you worry? If your spouse doesn’t respond to your text, do you become upset and controlling? If people gossip, do you jump in and join? If your kids are out of control, do you rage and scream at them?
The next time you are steeping in hot water, take a moment to realize how you are feeling. Acknowledge the fact that you are reacting in a negative, passive aggressive or non-peaceful way. Try to pinpoint the exact emotion you are feeling. Analyze it. Give it a name. When you are calm, look at what triggered that response in you and find ways to overcome it. You can change anything about yourself that doesn’t suit you, all you need to do is know what makes you think the way you do and why. Once you have the power of knowledge, you have the ultimate power to make change.
Wrestling with the negative emotions brought up by stressful events can be rewarding. Though it is normal to feel negative things, it isn’t a requirement. You don’t have to react to the same old issues the same old way. Once you know a better way to manage disappointment, stress, anxiety, shame, guilt, anger, jealousy, you can have peace. As you build your peace, you will see your positive life experiences expand.

Parents Are Teachers

15 Jan
January 15, 2013
There was a time when all of the hierarchy of social life was based on survival of the fittest. I doubt in cave man times that hunters shared a piece of saber toothed tiger with the guy who sat in the cave while the others hunted. That guy either learned to hunt or he starved, didn’t get a mate, didn’t have warm furs to wear and he probably was bludgeoned by someone who didn’t want him taking up space without contributing. Likewise, I am not sure that I want a future with leaders who only played on teams where they didn’t keep score and everyone always got a high five, there were no grades given in their classes and if they didn’t “feel” like doing something, it was alright.
I have no answers for the complexities of whether we should strive for achievement or for a world where no one need excel because in the end, aren’t we all in this together, but the fact is, if I am in pain, I want the best doctor. If we are attacked, I want the best military and if we need leadership, I want the most qualified people at the helm. There are children out there who are self starting, motivated kids by nature, but there are also kids who need to be taught the values and virtues of getting it done.
Most people tend to parent as they were parented. There are those who resent their childhood so much that they put concerted effort into become the parents they never had. No matter what type of parenting you had, it is fundamental to teach children the skills they will need to achieve in their adulthood. If you wait to let them figure it out on their own, they will be stunted in their growth curve when they leave your house. If you think that they will learn it in school, you are wrong.
It is vital that you teach your children how to do stuff that they don’t want to do, because we all know that our adult lives are filled with things we don’t want to do. Teach kids that mediocrity is as cancerous as smoking weed or cigarettes. Be honest with your children that it doesn’t matter if their teacher is a jerk, dork or worse, they need to learn to deal with those types of people and come out on top, because in life, those people are everywhere and sometimes they are your boss and you can’t go to the counseling office and ask to be reassigned.
Teach your kids that if they want it, they have to want it more than mom and dad. They can expect and receive your support and all of the benefits of your wisdom, maybe you can even open a few doors for them, but ultimately, they have to walk through the doors and they have to do the work. If they don’t know what to do in life, teach them and then require them to use the new found knowledge. Teach kids what they can’t figure out on their own, and allow them to figure out the things they can. Self discovery is as important as mentorship, they go hand in hand.
Teaching kids is like a verse from the great Kenny Rogers song, you got know when to hold ’em know when to fold ’em. There is a balance between giving them tools, supports and things and requiring them to earn tools, supports and things.

Parents Are Teachers

15 Jan
January 15, 2013
There was a time when all of the hierarchy of social life was based on survival of the fittest. I doubt in cave man times that hunters shared a piece of saber toothed tiger with the guy who sat in the cave while the others hunted. That guy either learned to hunt or he starved, didn’t get a mate, didn’t have warm furs to wear and he probably was bludgeoned by someone who didn’t want him taking up space without contributing. Likewise, I am not sure that I want a future with leaders who only played on teams where they didn’t keep score and everyone always got a high five, there were no grades given in their classes and if they didn’t “feel” like doing something, it was alright.
I have no answers for the complexities of whether we should strive for achievement or for a world where no one need excel because in the end, aren’t we all in this together, but the fact is, if I am in pain, I want the best doctor. If we are attacked, I want the best military and if we need leadership, I want the most qualified people at the helm. There are children out there who are self starting, motivated kids by nature, but there are also kids who need to be taught the values and virtues of getting it done.
Most people tend to parent as they were parented. There are those who resent their childhood so much that they put concerted effort into become the parents they never had. No matter what type of parenting you had, it is fundamental to teach children the skills they will need to achieve in their adulthood. If you wait to let them figure it out on their own, they will be stunted in their growth curve when they leave your house. If you think that they will learn it in school, you are wrong.
It is vital that you teach your children how to do stuff that they don’t want to do, because we all know that our adult lives are filled with things we don’t want to do. Teach kids that mediocrity is as cancerous as smoking weed or cigarettes. Be honest with your children that it doesn’t matter if their teacher is a jerk, dork or worse, they need to learn to deal with those types of people and come out on top, because in life, those people are everywhere and sometimes they are your boss and you can’t go to the counseling office and ask to be reassigned.
Teach your kids that if they want it, they have to want it more than mom and dad. They can expect and receive your support and all of the benefits of your wisdom, maybe you can even open a few doors for them, but ultimately, they have to walk through the doors and they have to do the work. If they don’t know what to do in life, teach them and then require them to use the new found knowledge. Teach kids what they can’t figure out on their own, and allow them to figure out the things they can. Self discovery is as important as mentorship, they go hand in hand.
Teaching kids is like a verse from the great Kenny Rogers song, you got know when to hold ’em know when to fold ’em. There is a balance between giving them tools, supports and things and requiring them to earn tools, supports and things.

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