A note on mental health

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I was just reading about Scott Stapp, the lead singer for Creed, and his ongoing struggle with paranoid schizophrenia. A quote of his from a video that was described as “concerning” was this: “God has been removed out of American culture … except for it’s printed on our money, because what I’m starting to realize is that’s what’s really become the God of America: money.”
The more dangerous and scary aspects of his psychosis aside, this in and of itself is a brilliant and insightful quote. It’s a shame that it was probably not heard by a lot of people because it was among more paranoid and less-believeable quotes from him.
I find this is one difficulty with psychosis – deep and emotional thought and truth from the person experiencing the psychosis can be lost or not given full worth because of the nature of the situation. I often wonder if people with schizophrenia and similar brain conditions are more in tune and sensitive than people without it, yet we brand them as less than or assume we need to fix them.

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Goodbye Childhood Home

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When I recently was home for Thanksgiving, I said goodbye to my childhood home.  I remember moving into our house when I was 8 years old – leaving the house we were in at that time seemed traumatic.  In the grand scheme of things, that was small.

theres no place like homeThe house that my parents are leaving is where I did all of my growing up.  I had friends in the neighborhood, pets in the yard, and my whole family under one roof.

It was harder to say goodbye than I thought.  I sat in the rocking chair in my old bedroom and just looked around, pictures of how my room used to look swimming through my mind.  I remember my mom letting my paint my room, twice!  That was a huge deal for me – being able to make the space my own.  I could see my friends in my room, sitting on my bed, playing in my closet, sitting on the windowsill.  I looked down the hallway out my bedroom door and pictured my mom in the kitchen making dinner, my brother at the table doing homework and my dad coming in from work – a warm feeling came into my heart.  I could smell the smells and hear the sounds.

It was quite funny – funny strange – when I first walked into the house.  I either saw a glimpse of black in the corner of my eye or expected to see it, but it was like I saw my little dogs at the back door (dogs that have been gone for at least 10 years).  Funny what the mind will do.

Here are some memorable moments from the house that holds so many of my memories:

1.  Getting struck by lightning!  The whole house shook, the sound was louder than I can describe, my Nintendo started smoking and it was the brightest light I have ever seen.  It was nighttime and the light from the flash of lightning lit up the whole area – I could see for miles!

2.  Playing in the pool with friends.  What a way to spend the summer!

3.  Family dinners.

4.  I remember my mom sitting my brother and I down one evening at the table to tell us that our granddad had died.

5.  I remember my mom hugging and holding me when we first moved in and I had a crying spell over missing the old house.

6.  The scorpions – I can picture each and every one I ever saw in that house.  Oh Arizona!  It took me a solid 6 months to get over the instinct to double take at small tan leaves on the street – they always resembled scorpions to me.

7.  Our wedding-eve party in the backyard with all of our out of town guests.

8.  Christmas mornings and Sunday dinners.

9.  Taking the trash cans up and down that steep, steep driveway – it was easiest to get in the trunk of the car and hold onto the cans while one parent drove slowly up the driveway!

10.  Sitting on the porch with dad – twice.  Once, in 5th grade when I was crying and crying and couldn’t figure out why.  He just sat there with me for hours and we watched the rain.  The next day he took me on a day trip up to a nearby mountain town, just the two of us.  The second time, I was in high school and in major trouble – I had completely disappointed him by lying to him and going out to party.  I broke his trust and I think, his heart.  Same spot on the porch.

11.  Laying with the dogs in the backyard.

12.  Playing cops and robbers on my bike with my brother.

13.  Playing basketball after school with my brother and his friends.

14.  My parents driving up the driveway with “the fourth family vehicle” (a.k.a.- a car for me to use!)

15.  My parents letting my puppy in bed with me when I was 9 and had the flu.

and so many others!

It was a great home – but it really is because of what happened inside it.  It feels like a chapter is closing because of the timing – the same day I said goodbye to the house I attended my 10 year high school reunion.  My brother and I are grown and married.  My parents are feeling like they are in their sunset years.

It’s ok – memories with our kids will be made in a new home and that house will become special for those reasons.

My favorite place to sit and think was on the diving board – dangling my feet in the water.  Here I am having one final thought and moment of reflection.

me on diving board 1

School Uniforms

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Hot topic alert!

I read an article this morning on school dress code regulations from Everyday Feminism and it made me think.

My husband grew up in the Catholic school system in Ontario, Canada.  I grew up in the public school system (albeit I attended a very good school in a nice part of town) in Arizona.  He wore a school uniform, I had a dress code.

*In my experience, our dress code was not strictly enforced.  This means that I was never given warnings about what I wore, nor were the majority of the kids I hung out with.  This could be skewed, because we were the good students, athletes, and involved in clubs – maybe that gave us an invisible armor that protected us from criticism.  Maybe not.  I can’t say, because I was not a teacher.  I was a student.  I was a student that pushed the limit minimally – a sliver of stomach showed, my shorts were short (but I am short in stature, so that may have camouflaged the length a bit), and I wore tight clothing.  I never bared cleavage because I didn’t have any and it wasn’t a body part I wanted to show.  However, outside of school, I was slightly more daring – a little more stomach, a little shorter shorts/skirts, skin tight everything.

In a perfect world, dress codes and uniforms would be solely intended to benefit the students and their families, and there would be no hidden agendas of trying to make every child who is different in anyway (socio-economic status, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation specifically) look exactly the same.

If we lived in a perfect world, or at least attended a perfect school, let me argue that a school uniform/dress code is a good thing.  I lean more toward the school uniform because there is less room for individual judgement and gray area.  I believe that everything outside of the uniform, I’m talking hair, makeup, nails, jewelry, should not be given a code.  I believe that a uniform, with kind intentions by those who require it, is a way to show respect for the learning environment and it teaches boundaries.

I want school to be a place for free expression through thoughts and voices.  I want every person to be able to develop arguments and opinions on everything they believe in and be known for their mind and spirit.  I see how it could be construed that not allowing for free dress could hinder a youth’s expression, but I feel that not having the outside speak for them, kids must speak for themselves.  I think this develops good social skills and conversational skills.

I feel that the school environment needs boundaries.  Everyone should be allowed to think for themselves and have the freedom to express their free thought in school.  I do not think that kids need unlimited freedom in dress.  I think too much emphasis is put on how shocking one can be through dress or how much attention one can get from the outside – I want kids to develop their minds and learn to shock with their voices!  It’s too easy to put on an “Anarchy” shirt – tell me why you believe in anarchy!  Develop thought and express it.

Now, for the topic of revealing clothing and respect.  This is tough because there are some people who choose to wear minimal clothing because they like it – they do it for reasons for themselves, not other people.  However, the damaging part is there are women and girls who do not have a strong sense of self, who are struggling with self-esteem and self-worth, who don’t believe they are worthy of attention for just being themselves, and so they try out revealing dress as a means to attention.  I was more on this side of the spectrum for a very long time.  For the young women out there who are like I was, a uniform would be beneficial because it takes away the opportunity to give themselves less than they deserve.  It gives them the opportunity to see that they can get attention for their minds and kindness and humor, etc.

I know my opinion is not going to be the popular one, and I also give myself the freedom for my opinions to change over time and with new education and experiences.  Where I am now, with the work that I do with youth, with my current life experiences, I am on the side of school uniforms as long as there are not oppressive underlying intentions.  Like I said, in a perfect world.

Dressed for 80's theme day at school.  My shirt says, "Sizzle Grip: Maximum Heat".  The skirt it one that I would use scissors to cut shorter every time I wore it.

 

This is me, dressed for 80’s theme day at school in 11th grade.  I had probably just turned 17.  My shirt says, “Sizzle Grip: Maximum Heat”.  What does that even mean?  This is the skirt that I would use scissors to cut shorter every time I wore it.

Does this outfit say, I am ready to learn and develop my own thoughts and express them to you with confidence?  No, it doesn’t.  It distracted me from the real reason I was at school and allowed me to focus on outside attention – attention I was getting only because of the way I was dressed.

Follow me on Facebook!

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If you are looking for more Girls Rise Up content, follow me on Facebook (click the Facebook icon on this website). I often share great articles and features from other websites like Upworthy, A Mighty Girl, and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls at the Party, as well as throw in a few of my thoughts on current news stories. Thanks!

Does everything happen for a reason?

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In July of 2014, Ricky and I were in Portugal for his brother’s wedding.  It had been a lovely trip.  We were able to go to Paris, France first for five days to enjoy the romance and history of such a neat city.  My sister-friend and former exchange student from eleven years ago, Juliette, also lives there with her husband and new baby so the main point of stopping in Paris was to see them.  Spending time with them was the best night of that trip and it felt like we hadn’t missed a beat.  How amazing that she and I have grown in such similar ways and how incredible it was to see her as a mom and to meet her child.

After France, Rick and I headed into Porto, my now sister-in-laws home town and readied ourselves for wedding festivities.  We were welcomed into her aunt’s home our first night in for sardines fresh off the grill and it was the perfect start to that part of our vacation.

Little did I know, that during the same time we were flying into Portugal without a care in the world, my parents were in Arizona, crashing along a guard rail on the highway in a three-car accident that would result in a fatality.

I received a text from my mom the next day saying “Dad and I are fine, but…car accident….broken wrist…surgery…heading to hospital to pick him up”.

I called her immediately, international roaming be damned, and was relieved to hear that they were fine.

My mom suffered heavy bruising where the seatbelt was on her body; my dad had bruising along the leg he used to kick open the car door and had broken both bones in his wrist and had immediate surgery by a hand surgeon.  They were sore, but alive.  My mom explained how she didn’t know how my dad had gotten them out of the path of danger once they were initially hit, but she credited him with them not rolling or causing more damage.  They were the only car of the three that didn’t flip.

That is our part of the story.

There were two other families involved in this story.  One, a couple in a van who were beaten up but released from the hospital.  The other, a family of five: two parents up front, and three young kids in the back.  The kids survived, but were internally hurt.  Their father survived and ended up facing charges and jail time.  Their mother was killed.

I do not know anything about this family other that what was stated above.  I do not know if they had a loving relationship.  I do not know where they lived or went to school.  I don’t know if they were good neighbors, their family traditions, where they were coming from or where they were going.  All I know is that three kids started their day with two parents, and ended it with none.

I am so grateful and thankful that my parents are ok.  God knows I need them in my life.  They guide and support me.  They are nonjudgmental and understanding.  My emotions can be volatile and I am definitely not ready to face life without them in it.

I can’t help but ask, why me?  Why do I get to keep my parents?

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason.  I am religious, spiritual and a genuine believer that everything is meant to lead to our destiny.  This, combined with the loss of my first pregnancy earlier this year led me to wonder if maybe I was wrong?  Maybe life is a little more random?

What could possibly be the reason for three young kids’ parents to be taken when my brother and I, two 30-ish year old married adults who have already been raised, parents were spared?

Lives aren’t taken or given because people deserve them.  It is random.  It would be ego-centric to think otherwise.

I don’t believe that things happen for a reason, but I do believe that when things happen, the way we choose to react to them can lead us to or keep us from our destiny.  This is a new concept for me but it seems so much more accurate.  I believe that God leads me to make the right decisions and to act with grace when tragedy befalls me.  I believe that there is strength to be gained from having faith.

What I can do is pray for the family whose lives were changed.  I can take this close call as a reminder to soak in the time I have with my family.  I can be thankful that my parents were protected and that they have more time to enjoy these great years in their lives.

We are always learning in life and at 28, this makes sense to me.

Left to right: my brother Sam, his wife Roni, my husband Ricky, me, mom, dad.

One month after the accident, together at a family wedding.  Left to right: my brother Sam, his wife Roni, my husband Ricky, me, mom, dad.

 

 

A quick note

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IMG_2709Hello everyone! Just a note to say “Wow! It’s November!” Hope all enjoyed a fun start to the fall season. As temperatures drop (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere….Southern Hemisphere, happy summer!) we are cuddling up and preparing for the slow down of the winter season. Make a cup of tea, light a candle, and open a good book! For me, I am devouring my new copy of “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler, brewing a cup of “Feminini-tea” and enjoying the aromas from my ginger-lime candle. xoxo

90’s Tweens vs. Today’s Tweens

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I read an article from a great blog I follow called Everyday Feminism.  The author, Shannon Ridgway, brings up some good points.  I, like Shannon, spent ages 9-12 in the 90’s.  So, let’s explore how things are different for today’s tweens vs. the 90’s tweens.  (One difference being that we hadn’t coined the term “tween” yet.)

Me, as a "tween".

Me, as a “tween”.

1)  Cell phones.

When I was in middle school, the only people that had cell phones were business-people.  I would call my mom at home from the pay phone at school (I was devastated when the rate climbed from $0.25 to $0.35, because it required two coins).  For those who are curious: when I had no coins, I would call my mom at home via a “collect call”, and say really quickly what I needed.  My mom would answer and hear, “You have a call from MOM PRACTICE IS OVER COME PICK ME UP!  Do you accept the charges?”  That way it wouldn’t charge the house.  Ahhh the resourcefulness…

Now, a lot of young people have cell phones for different reasons.  Whatever the reason, phones are not just for calling and texting: phones have internet access now!!  They can take pictures and post online in under five seconds.  No wonder cyber bullying is so bad.  Remember how bad kids were in person?  Imagine how bad they can be behind the safety net of the ethernet.  Let’s not forget that once something is online, it is out there forever.  Imagine googling yourself in your 20’s and finding that picture of you from middle school at a pool party where someone labeled you “fat ho”?  You can’t escape that stuff!  There is an app developed for sexting (even though that claim is denied from the developers).  Snapchat.  It allows someone to take a picture or record a video.  Once you send it, the receiver is only able to see it for a few seconds before it is deleted.  Well, that’s what we think.  Click this link for more about SnapChat.

Let’s be real: kids have too much power.  They are irrational and impulsive because of their intense emotions and should not have the power to ruin someone’s life…because sometimes they will be irrational and impulsive and they don’t realize that there are some actions they can NEVER take back.

While we’re on the subject…

2) The Internet.

We had the internet.  I went on AOL (for the kids of today, this was basically like texting, but you had to both be signed in and type back and forth on the computer in order to chat).  For me, in my home, the computer was in a spare room and we could only be in there with the door open.  My brother and I also had to SHARE the computer.  The computer was the only thing that had games and internet and word processor to type our school assignments.  We had to time manage and work out deals for computer time.  Oh, and we also had DIAL-UP!  This means that until we got a second phone line for just the internet, we had to make sure nobody needed the home phone in order to go online.  The internet was also very ssssllllllooooowwwww and had a lot less websites than it does today.  In fact, I didn’t ever visit websites.  I only went online to chat on AOL.  Now, there are websites dedicated to making fun of people.  Kids even know how to create websites!  Let’s not even talk about porn; it is rampant and so easily accessible.  Kids have their own computers, if that even matters!  With internet on phones, kids have full access to whatever is online at all hours of the day and night.  Parents: consider limiting your child’s wi-fi access or access to electronics, period.  Have conversations with your children.  You are not powerless.

This is me playing outside with friends.  What a novel concept.

This is me playing outside with friends. What a novel concept.

Facebook came out when I was in my first year of college.  Some people were using Myspace but I didn’t really like it.  It seemed a bit “To Catch a Predator” and it creeped me out.  Facebook, however, was meant to connect you to other students and you could only use it if you had a legitimate university email address.  I am infinitely grateful that we didn’t have facebook before college.  I don’t think that the majority of kids are mature enough to have access to something like this.  I see bikini pictures on facebook of kids I know today and I cringe.  I see publicly displayed breakups and four-page scrolls of comments trash-talking others.  It’s ugly and it shouldn’t exist.  There are parents who properly control their kids access to websites and internet time and phone time, but there are those who do not and I think it is damaging.  It is also too easy to “facebook-stalk” people.  Do you know what we used to do when I was in middle school?  If we had a crush, we would get our friends to prank call the person and we’d have a good laugh.  We would “dare” one another to say hi to the crush at school.  It was easier to not get as obsessed and go into the scary territory of going through the profiles of every girl that posted on your crush’s wall.

Twitter.  This makes kids think that every thought they have should be broadcast to the whole world.  It shouldn’t.

If twitter was around in the 90's, you betcha I would've tweeted this sweet pic from summer vacation.

If twitter was around in the 90’s, you betcha I would’ve tweeted this sweet pic from summer vacation.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t meant to be a rant.  I love vine and twitter and facebook and youtube for the good things they give us.  I love that there is so much great humor out there for everyone now.  Kids are so creative with certain videos they make.  I also love being able to spread information and messages of positivity with so many people.  I just think that we need to control the negativity a bit more by having open, honest conversations with our young people.  Our actions have impact.

3) Reality television.

Otherwise known as “the death and destruction of everything that was once sacred”.  Reality t.v.  Blech.  Why can’t we just be honest about shows being scripted?  Let’s not trick the youth of today into believing this sh#t is real.  Kids have brains that are not as mature as adult brains.  When they see reality t.v. they are processing it into messages about how they should act, how their bodies should look, what things they should have and how they should treat the opposite sex/friends/family.  Reality t.v. has also created a big desire among young people to strive toward 15 minutes of fame.  Most of reality t.v. is centered around women as sex objects.  For children who are not parented in a way that teaches them that reality t.v. is not real and that in real life there are consequences for actions and that not all people act the way they see people acting on t.v., there can be devastating effects.  It’s like a war on the psyches of youth today.

4) Clothing styles.

This look for 5th grade graduation can be described as "mom's shirt and friend's skirt".  I was a not a traditionally feminine girl.

This look for 5th grade graduation can be described as “mom’s shirt and friend’s skirt”. I was a not a traditionally feminine girl.

I really feel like the pressure to look good for girls has not changed.  There were tight clothes, makeup and hair for me and there are those pressures for girls today.  I actually had a boy tell me when I was 15 that he liked when I wore dresses/tight jeans/shorts to school and when I did my hair.  He described me as being a 50/50 girl: hot 50% of the time and not hot 50% of the time.  He said that if I wanted to be hot all the time I should not wear my gray athletic shorts or put my hair up in a messy bun anymore.  (Feel free to take a moment to gag.)  Unfortunately, I think this one hasn’t changed.

noname-8

There I am in the WORTH shirt. I loved and still love athletic clothing. That guy from high school can deal with it.

5) Popular Celebrities.

For us, it was Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce.  One thing they have that the popular celebrities of today don’t really have as much as, are curves and muscles.  Thank goodness the celebrities of my day made having a butt a good thing – that was one thing I could relate to!  I am not putting down any celebrities for the way they look – it’s just that who is popular impacts the way girls want to be seen.  Miley Cyrus is very thin, Selena Gomez is very thin, Kendall Jenner is very thin, the models are thin.  We had Cindy Crawford and models with some shape.  I think that for my generation there was a bit of a backlash against the uber-thin, but unfortunately for this generation, I think that thin is back in.  Being thin is not bad.  The pressure that young girls who do not fit the “perfect”mold put on themselves to fit the mold is what is damaging.

6) The reality of it all?

I think that growing up is hard.  I think that we make it harder than it needs to be on ourselves and on our young people.  Life is really simple.  Do good, put effort into your work and relationships, be kind to others.  I think that we have changed the definition of happiness and success into something so complicated that we have created more problems than we have solved.

What can we do?  Support our young people and breathe positivity into their lives.  Take some pressure off ourselves and lead by example.  Be our authentic selves and stop letting so many outside influences impact us in negative ways.

Two of my many supports: dad and grammy.  Don't worry--there's juice in that wine glass.

Two of my many supports: dad and grammy. Don’t worry–there’s juice in that wine glass.  Grammy’s however, is straight up whiskey and water.  Atta baby.

I resolve to make a better resolution!

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For the love of all that is good and true in this world, please don’t make losing weight be your new year’s resolution!  You are so much more than a “weight”!  You are too good to get caught up in the self-deprecating thoughts of guilt from eating sweets on Christmas.  You are too amazing to not love every part of yourself.  You are worth too much to try to shrink any part of yourself in the new year.

Here are some different ways to improve your life:

Think of a way to better your happiness or outlook.  Be kinder to others.  Improve your relationships.  Be better to yourself.  Leave behind self-doubt and negative thinking.  Take on more positive responsibilities – adopt a pet or commit to a volunteer position.  Take positive risks – go for a promotion, join a new club, start a new friendship.  Ask out that person you can’t stop thinking about.  Throw away your scale!

Whatever you do, please resolve to being better to yourself.  By sharing kindness with our own bodies, spirits, hearts, and minds, we will radiate positivity to those around us.

Wishing you many blessings in the new year.  XOXO.