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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Land of Construction

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NYC: Land of Construction

The Buck Stops Here

Bullying

I think it’s safe to assume that a good number of us were teased during our childhood. Whether because of our looks, our weight, or perceived “awkwardness,” things to be teased about never seemed to be in short supply. The “harmless” teasing that adults routinely told children to knock off and forget has not only been elevated in stature (bullying) but also in consequences.

With the proliferation of the Internet and social media, the teasing of yesteryear has become more widespread and toxic, and it is the widespread nature and toxicity of today’s bullying that has led to a higher level of depression and anxiety in children. The desire to obtain more pageviews, followers, retweets, and “likes” has upped the ante in regard to the distasteful nature of what is being said and done to bullying targets. Lower performance in school, social isolation, behavioral issues, and on the extreme end, acts of aggression towards students and school officials and suicide are typical byproducts of bullying.

Inspired by James Howe’s young adult novel about four friends battling bullying in the seventh grade, “The Misfits,”  No Name- Calling week was developed to raise awareness about bullying. No Name- Calling week is the brainchild of the No Name-Calling Week Coalition created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children’s publishing. The No Name-Calling initative aims to set aside one week every year where it provides individuals with educational activities geared towards stamping out all kinds of name- calling, along with providing opportunities to participate in on-going conversations targeted towards ending bullying. Visitors to the No Name-Calling Week website can view and download resources developed to shed light on the harmful effects of bullying.

Bullying does not distinguish between  age, gender, economic, or social group. It is a destructor of man, choking the spirits of every one it marks.  Simply logging onto to read the comments left on articles about celebrities or public figures highlights the venomous intent of some to deride the character of these individuals. Gossip shows and magazines, newscast, sportscast, and reality shows are just a few of the places where disparaging remarks are being made about people’s characters. The prolific occurrence of these instances of name- calling and bullying on the Internet, TV, and print is molding a generation of children who regard this type of behavior as acceptable. Of course, celebrities and public figures are not the only ones targeted for such blistering attacks, nowadays, anyone with any type of web footprint is subject to be attacked by bullies.  The virtual anoynmity of these mediums is fodder for bullies. In some instances, the veracity with which people are attacked through the Internet, TV, and print bolsters face to face incidents of bullying.

Bullying is not just a issue of what is being shared on the Internet, TV and/or print, it begins with what is allowed and encouraged to be viewed in the home, as well as what is allowed and encouraged to be said about others. Do you make blistering remarks about others in front of your children? Do you sit around as a family to watch shows riddled with incidents of insults and attacks towards others based on things like weight? Failure to address the issue of bullying at home creates a quasi- permissive stance towards this destructive behavior. This quasi- permissive stance also extends to how we approach this issue with adults. Are we willing to take a stand against disparaging remarks made in our presence? 

It can be tough and awkward to take a stand against bullying but it can and should be done. Minimizing bullying begins with adults who are sensitive to the differences and challenges among them and around the globe. It begins with adults who aren’t willing to idly sit by and watch and/or read materials that degrade individuals similar and different than them.  We must become the change that we want to see. It starts with you and me.

In what ways do you fight against bullying?

Wordless Wednesday: Run baby, run

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Not a resolution, it’s a way of life.

Remember…

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Best known as a pioneer of the Civil Rights movement, spearheading such protests as the Montgomery Bus Boycott with Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a pivotal role in organizing community based efforts to address social issues like poverty. It is the zeal that Martin Luther King, Jr. had for organizing community based projects that led to the celebration of his birthday being associated with national service. Since 1994, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday has been recognized by Congress as a national day of service. Occurring every year on the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King, Jr. day is the only federal holiday that is observed as a national day of service. Websites such as http:/mlk.gov help steer individuals towards service projects in their area, along with assisting them on creating projects of their own.

This celebration of service takes me back 4 years when the nation seemed to be brimming with a spirit of community service, poised to embrace a change from Washington’s “business as usual” slogan trumpeted by the winning candidates. Today, plagued with a broken economy, bitter bipartisan disagreements, epic natural disasters, and shootings at malls, at a movie theatre, and a school, much of the drive towards community service that was present at President Obama’s first inauguration was in short order at today’s inauguration. Understandably, many people are anxious about the state of today’s political, environmental, and social sphere. It’s hard to think about the community at large when your own piece of the world may be falling apart around you. The beauty of volunteering is its gift of perspective, the way it takes the focus off of oneself towards another person and/or circumstance. Volunteering gives one the opportunity not only to help individuals who may be needier than themselves, but also provides the chance to connect with a part of the community one may not have connected with otherwise. Joining or starting an organization to channel ones efforts is great, but something as simple as helping your neighbor with their groceries, meeting up to talk with a friend that is going through tough times, are steps in the direction of changing ones community for the better.

Looking beyond ourselves to connect with others and serve our community is part of the dream that Dr. King had for the nation. It is the part of his dream that was reignited 4 years ago, the part of the dream I hope is reignited today.

In what ways do you believe you can, or are, effecting change in your community?

Wordless Wednesday: Evening Stroll Across Local Bridge

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Early to rise

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One of my favorite episodes of the TV show Seinfeld is the one where, after a terrible run of bad luck, George Costanza decides that he will begin doing the exact opposite of what he would normally do. Things move swimmingly for George Costanza at first, but as any fan of the TV show Seinfeld knows, all that glitters for George soon loses its shine.

As I prepared to watch this episode again, I thought about a quote most commonly attributed to Albert Einstein regarding insanity, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” By doing everything in the exact opposite way he’d normally do, George Costanza carved out a unique way to buck his insane patterns of behavior that were continuously leading him to fail and get into all sorts of trouble. I, like George Costanza, have repeated insane patterns of behaviors that have limited my productivity and caused me all sorts of headaches. My behavioral pattern du jour features me repeatedly slamming the snooze button on my alarm clock, eventually stumbling out of bed like a zombie.

Back when I was free to sleep my mornings away, I’d stay up all night reading, writing, cleaning, and yes sometimes, partying. According to my grandmother and aunt, as a little girl, I’d stay up late talking to a cadre of imaginary friends and I’d act out sketches I created earlier in the evening. Although I have long since bid adieu to my imaginary friends and late night sketch reenactments, my nocturnal spirit remains. Consequently, my weekday mornings are a groggy whirlwind of coffee, snippets of the Today show, and an eventual Usain Bolt- like sprint to the train station. This daily weekday morning shtick has sabotaged me in more ways than I’d care to recount, which is why I’ve decided to start doing the opposite.

21 days is widely regarded as the amount of time it takes to form a habit. It’s within this 21 day time frame that I will begin waking up by at least 6 am every weekday morning. I will not lie, I am not looking forward to this challenge. But like George Costanza (hopefully sans the inevitable negative, albeit, hilarious turn of events), it’s time for me to break out of this self-sabotaging pattern of behavior and move towards a more productive, and saner, use of my time in the morning. Instead of waking up in a semi-conscious, angst-ridden stupor, I hope to wake up in the opposite way, alert and ready to take on the day. Waking earlier than usual is a prominent trait among highly successful and productive individuals who use this time to read, write, strategize, stretch, etc. Besides getting a jump-start on their day, early risers typically aren’t riddled with the consequences that come from incessantly hitting the snooze button.

Being perpetually late for life is no longer an option for me. It’s time for me to gain control of this time of the day and begin my day with activities that will move me closer to where I want to be personally and professionally… Okay, here we go, gulp!

Do you struggle with waking up early?

Wordless Wednesday: Flower Power

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I love the robust nature of these flowers.