The Many Benefits of Being Bullied

Let me begin by saying that there are some forms of bullying that should absolutely not be tolerated. For example, in elementary school, I saw a kid grab a girl and shove her against a wall. That type of physical aggression can lead to true harm. Name calling and taunting others, however, is part of the growing pains most, probably all of us, dealt with while growing up.


I remember coming home and tearfully telling my mother that kids had been teasing me about my big nose. (On a side note: I went to an ear, nose and throat specialist once to talk about surgery to repair a burst eardrum. The doctor began the visit by showing me what he could do to reduce the prominence of my nose. Anyway, back to elementary school.) My mother wisely suggested that if I joked about my nose, then kids would lose interest. Another time I carelessly slid a book off my desk and onto another one. The boy there pushed it back. In our immaturity, we pushed it back and forth until he told me he was going to beat me up after school. This was the same boy that had thrown the girl against the wall. Then there was the time that a girl accused my cousin and I of talking about her. When I tried to swing, she stood directly in front of me and told me that if I hit her with the swing, she would beat me up. What could I do? She was standing where the swing would hang. I carefully slid out of the seat and pulled the swing toward the supporting post of the swing set and wrapped it around the pole a few times. She still claimed that the chain had hit her in the head, so my cousin and I took off running across the field as fast as we could. I’m sure others can remember worse incidents than that, but you get the idea.

So, what do we do about it? We blow the negative effects of bullying out of proportion, while ignoring the powerful, maturing lessons a child can learn by enduring the ill behavior of a bully. We tell children to think about ways to be nicer to people. We don’t tell them how to handle their emotions when someone else isn’t nice to them. We tell them to stay near adults to avoid bullies. We don’t tell them how to be brave when there are no adults around. We encourage them to take anti-bullying pledges so we can pretend we have done something to solve the problem. In other words, we have taught our children to feel like victims who need to be protected.

This one-sided approach can lead parents down a never-ending path to avoid and appease the situation. Here is an example I read about recently. A young boy was being teased because his ears stuck out. Instead of talking to him about ways he could handle the taunts, and allowing him to experience whatever followed; she chose to put him through the pain and risks of cosmetic surgery to “fix” his ears. How will she help him now, when these kids see his ears and howl that they are too flat against his head? Maybe they will choose a new body part to criticize, just to see if he will have that “fixed” too.  How will he learn that he is worthy of respect as he is and what others have to say about him just doesn’t matter?

Emotional pain and humiliation from these types of experiences don’t seem like benefits at first. In hind sight, however, these are exactly the type of life experiences that each of us need to go through to become the adults we are supposed to be. Being bullied can teach us that some people are mean. We need to recognize this type of person before we commit to a work, or especially, a personal relationship with them. Some people will learn that they can endure suffering and still get their work done. Others will not be afraid to take on new challenges because they know they have already been through worse. It is easy to be good when everything goes right. Hardships show us how deep that goodness goes. It’s time to throw out the anti-bullying pledge and embrace the possibilities discovered through adversity.


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No Children at a Wedding?

wedding handsCan you believe that some people don’t want children at their wedding? Supporters tout the fact that it is the bride’s day and she should have it the way she wants. Really? I believe this idea is the result of too many years of down playing the role of faith and focusing on selfish “needs.”

Let me explain. Marriage used to be between a man, a woman and God. Consummation of the marriage vow was… you know… the marriage act. I am assuming you know what I mean by the marriage act. I’m not talking about sex. Well, I am, but in a spiritual way. The marriage act is the total giving to, and trusting in your partner. One way this trust between husband, wife and God can be seen, is through the creation of children. This is the true purpose of sexual union; love, with the potential to create life.

Today, however, we don’t even know if a woman should marry a man, another woman or (I wanted to select a clever gender identity here, but one of the lists was -58- entries long!). For many, God is not even a consideration. Sex has been reduced to recreation. Procreation is demonized; it is equal to or worse than sexually transmitted diseases.

Marriage has become merely a promise between two flawed people without the help of a perfect loving God to be their strength when they have none. The focus has shifted from the importance of the vows to the importance of the venue. The wedding dress is no longer white, to symbolize the bride’s purity and that she is giving the beauty of herself to her spouse. Now it is white, or ivory, or peach, or whatever color the bride feels will make her look the most beautiful. Let me give an example. While watching Say Yes to the Dress,  one bride commented about her wedding day. She said, “The dress was the best part of the day.” How sad for the groom. Her focus had become self-centered instead of spouse-centered.

Oh well, without God, why not. Get the best of everything money can buy. Do what it takes to get the right venue. Book a band, if that is more perfect than a DJ. Make sure the food and fun makes the bride look as if she knows how to throw a great party. For examples of this idea, check out Four Weddings. Four brides compete to win a honeymoon. Their focus is all about the stuff surrounding the wedding, which turns the entire day into a shallow, materialistic kind of event. Ultimately, if perfection does not include crying babies in the pews, then don’t invite children. Without God, it doesn’t matter if you hurt someone’s feelings, because it’s the bride’s day.

On one hand, I’m sure there are some compelling reasons for not wanting children at the wedding. On the other hand, perhaps imperfection adds depth and meaning to the wedding day. Maybe the bride didn’t hear anything during the ceremony, because she was totally focused on the life she was about to begin. Watching the recording of the wedding, she is surprised to hear the innocent cries of her (insert sister’s, cousin’s, friend’s) baby. She now recalls details from the day that she wouldn’t have remembered otherwise. Or, what if she had heard the baby. For the first time, while holding hands with her new husband, she thought, “I think our love is strong enough to take on the challenges and surprises that children bring.” Maybe the young mother comes up to the bride later, to apologize for the crying. The bride has an opportunity to strength or weaken her relationship with this person, depending on how she responds.

So many possible; unknown outcomes. Yet, we can only  make choices based on the knowledge we have. Too often today, that knowledge is based on self-importance over everyone else. Hopefully, when selfish decisions back us into a corner, there will be someone to pull us out, regardless of the danger to himself.




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Forgiveness is Like a Ball of Yarn

composite-yarn-oneHow many times have we heard that forgiveness is not for the perpetrator of harm, but for the one harmed? Supposedly, if I forgive someone, then I have been freed from what they have done. Intellectually, I get it, but emotionally it doesn’t make sense. I’m kind of a visual learner, so I needed something to look at to help me integrate my intellect and my emotions. For some reason, I began thinking about yarn.

Yarn can be bought as a skein, the kind that is in a loose twist, or a ball. I’m going with ball, because the word skein makes it sound like I know something about knitting, which I don’t.  So, I’m imaging neatly wound balls of yarn, in shades of red, blue and yellow; maybe some greens and purples as well. Wait, did it say neatly?

A ball of yarn is like a portion of our lives. Sometimes, life is good and the ball stays neat and tidy. We use it, as needed, to create beautiful events in our lives. Other times, what we think is going to be stunning turns into a knotted mess. Maybe we knotted it ourselves: we didn’t listen to good advice, we procrastinated until it was too late, we stayed out too late with other people who were full of knotted messes. Sometimes, outside people and events grab our yarn and wreak havoc on it: insults, acts of violence and divorce to name a few. Can we still create beauty with this tangled part of our lives? It depends. How widespread is the damage? How tight are the knots?

composite-yarnThis is where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness is the act of untangling the yarn, our own yarn. The small hurts in our lives can easily be straightened out and neatly rewound. The bigger the hurt, the more effort it takes to unknot it. It takes continued, repeated effort to be able to look at a situation without the emotional hurt (re-knotting) creeping in. This means we may need to consciously forgive a person more than once, while our minds process a new way of responding to the memory.

The cause of some events, however, is so painful, it’s like the yarn has been tightly knotted. Our efforts to escape the pain only makes it worse. We have tugged and yanked on the yarn until there is no hope of undoing it. Even if we could, the yarn would be frayed and damaged. Some knots just need to be cut away.

What does cutting away the knot mean? (Don’t forget, these are just my opinions.) I believe this could mean that we have forgiven a person, but choose to no longer associate with them. Alcoholics, for example, need to stay away from people who tempt them to drink. It could also mean forgiving and firmly choosing not to allow the painful event to hurt us anymore. This is different than simply consciously forgiving a person. This takes a paradigm shift. A dramatic change in how we view an event. These types of decisions often require help from professionals. They are trained to find the knots. Even the ones we didn’t know existed.

Whether we forgive or not, our lives will never be the same. When we are able to forgive, we take the now untangled parts of yarn, and rewind them to use again. There will be long pieces and short pieces wound into this ball. These represent the beneficial memories from the past. Because they are different, they can inspire us to create beauty from here forward in ways we never would have imagined before.

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Bobble-Head Listener vs. Social Media

8130634655_e9b61f7293_zBefore I dive in to my thoughts on social media, let me tell you a little about myself in social situations. This event is not family or close friends. It is the kind that requires mingling and small talk. I try to stay close to my husband. He circulates through the room like he owns it. He almost always knows someone. On the rare occasion he doesn’t, he quickly finds someone with a common interest and my role begins. I stand quietly and wait for inspiration to strike, for an opportunity to say something insightful. Instead, I become a bobble-head listener with no idea how to add to the conversation. This is probably one of the reasons I love social media. There is no pressure, and I get to add to the conversation.

Facebook, for example, is easy. I can share a heartwarming story, or like the picture of a friends graduating senior. I can offer support to a hurting friend, or wish my brother a happy birthday. Twitter, however, is different. It is much more controversial and faster paced.

At first, I thought I would learn about differing views concerning the important topics being discussed. I quickly discovered that most of it is what I call, Hit and Run Comments. You know; the one liners you’d love to say to that annoying person at work, but you would never dare say it to his face. Still more frequently, it seems that people dig into their memory banks and pull out a whole host of crass, body-part-laden, immature comments from their middle school years. Another popular method is to jump to an overgeneralized conclusion based on fear not fact. Most make one or two jabs and then disappear into cyber anonymity.

Why do people do that? Maybe, if they can shut someone up with a one liner, they feel in control for a moment.  Perhaps they are responding to an attack made on them. Or maybe it’s just easier to make a Hit and Run Comment than try to make a substantive comment.

After all, substantive comments require thought, and a little skill to get it to make sense in 140 characters or less. (I’ve seen strings of tweets, but they get a little confusing, especially if you start commenting on segments in the middle of the string.) This also requires knowledge of the subject. This is one of the reasons I like Twitter. If I see a topic of interest, I can take my time and formulate a coherent comment. I do have to be careful. If anyone engages me, I may have to do research to support my opinion. But again, I have time to do that.

Why do I like to comment? Am I trying to feel a sense of control where I really have none? Am I trying to change someone’s mind? Do I want to feel important because someone liked a comment I made?  I’d be okay with any of these, but really, I make a comment for a different reason. I want to have the courage to speak up when I have an opinion. I want to broaden my knowledge with facts to support those views. In time, I’m hoping to get good enough at it to put away the bobble-head and join in the conversation that begins with small talk and ends with understanding.


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I’m A Dabbler

confusionI’m a dabbler. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different things. For example, I took a course in writing short stories for children. It went so well that I took a course in writing a novel for children; never finished that one. Another time, I was looking for a flexible job that I could work around taking care of my children. I cleverly decided to become a real estate agent. The illusion of my flexibility quickly morphed into the reality that I needed to be available for my clients — whenever they needed. Thanks to Divine intervention, I was able to list and sell a home, with the help of another agent, within about a month of getting my license. I made about enough to cover my initial investment.

My oldest kids were in private school, then I homeschooled them for several years. Upon burn-out, we (husband and I) put them in public school.  Most recently, we pulled our youngest three to homeschool again. (I guess this is not so much dabbling as it is waffling. I’ll save this for another post.)

During the homeschool years, I helped with the homeschool newsletter for our local support group. It reminded me of the days that I spent on the newspaper staff at my college and then in the production department of the local newspaper. I loved the work, the sense of accomplishment and my co-workers. Eventually, email replaced the newsletter which left me missing writing and designing. Throughout my dabbling, whether it was 3-D photography (I still have the camera somewhere) or getting certified to have a therapy dog, I have always kept design in the back of my mind.

Despite having no true artistic skills, I began taking graphic design classes. Who knows when I will finish, but the classes have introduced me to all current aspects of design. I can use Photoshop to fix a badly damaged photo I found face-down on the concrete basement floor. Illustrator helped me create the tag  I used above. I can look at a webpage I designed and realize that I remember absolutely nothing about the coding I did. InDesign proved useful in creating a magazine layout. Where do I fit in with such a diversified field? It requires expertise, not dabblers.

Perhaps blogging is the answer for me. I can bounce from topic to topic as the mood strikes. Right now I’m in the mood to watch some videos I put together. Yes, I dabbled in YouTube. Search for: Lushn, to see what I did there.


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Momsome Moment: BookCon 2017

superheros 2

Technically, my momsome moment occurred at the end of the day, but a few highlights won’t hurt.

My daughter and I hopped on a bus in Baltimore and headed for New York City. She snapped pictures of cool buildings, the sunrise, etc. I anxiously waited to eat a snack.

Once in New York, we walked to the Javits Center, where the fun began.

In addition tobookcon-with-ryan.jpg listening to Ryan Higa, (the reason we were there), we had Bill Nye and Chelsea Clinton sightings. We also heard talks from: Jeff Kinney, Mary Pope Osborne, Kwame Alexander, Lemony Snicket, and Kevin Hart.


Next, we did a little exploring in New York City. We headed to Times Square with a stop off to have our pictures taken with Spiderman and a random stormtrooper. We also side-tripped to the Fox news building, where we saw nothing but the outside of a building. Pedestrian traffic doubled as we neared Times Square, which turned out to be smaller than it looks on TV.

Because I was getting tired, we considered taking the subway to our next stop. We descended the dank stairwell only to confront what appeared to be a menagerie of trains and stops.

subwaysign 2Maybe you can guess that I didn’t have the patience to process all of that. We walked to Trump Tower and refueled for the trip home at the Starbucks there.

We’re closing in on the momsome moment. (Admit it, you’ve been anxiously waiting for it.) We were told to arrive at the bus stop 30 minutes before our 10pm departure. We were there 45 minutes early. What to do to fill the time, what to do? Take another, quick bathroom break. Next, “Look, pizza! Let’s get a quick slice of that.” Tick tock. Keeping it simple, we each asked for one slice of pepperoni pizza. Tick tock. The man grabbed the slices and popped them in the oven to re-heat them. Tick tock, tick tock… how long did this need to take? I’m about to have crispy critter pizza. We finally get the pizza (which turned out to be very good) and stood in line to pay. Can you hear it? Tick tock?

We go to the bus stop to eat what would turn out to be the most expensive pizza I have ever had. It’s still 20 to 25 minutes before the bus should arrive. We wait, but now I’m second guessing where we are. Should I find a number to call to double check? We wait some more. My husband calls to see if we made the bus. I try to sound confident as I tell him we are at the bus stop. Now I’m getting nervous. The clock continues to creep toward 10pm. Then it’s just after ten. NOW, I decide to call to check the location of the bus stop. Yes, I’m in the right place. The bus, however, has already gone by. I’m told I can catch the 10:30 on 152nd street. From 31st street!?! How did this happen? I glance down at the now empty pizza box. I see the pizza, the oven, the line. I hear, “arrive at the bus stop 30 minutes early, because THE BUS MIGHT BE EARLY.” The next time my husband called, I sadly confessed that we had missed the bus.

That pizza now cost a $160 for an Amtrak ride, and my husband’s sanity when had to come pick us up at the train station at 2am to drive us to the car we had intended to use to drive home on our own. Momsome.

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Gun Ownership: My Opinion

I have a lot of opinions. The problem is, I can’t remember the facts to back them up. For example: gun ownership. I believe individuals have the right to own guns to protect themselves. Why do I believe this? Let me put it this way. We immunize our children against terrible diseases. We do it despite information about possible serious side effects. We do it even though most of these diseases are extremely rare today. We do it because not to immunize our children leaves a chance that they could end up dead. Gun ownership is the same. While the threat is rare (not as rare recently), not to own one could leave us or our loved one’s dead.

These, however, are not facts. They are opinion. The internet is full of information for and against gun control, but where does one look for impartial facts about this topic? Finding a credible site, with comprehensive information about guns, was easier than I thought it would be:

Check it out to see if you agree that Just Facts is an impartial source for information which includes many important subjects, one of which is gun control. The topic of gun control covers everything from: crime and self-defense using a firearm, to differing opinions concerning the constitution and the meaning of the Second Amendment. I have used some information from Just Facts to support my position.

Here we go. One area anti-gun supporters like to talk about is the need for better background checks. The following chart, from Just Facts, summarizes the issues that are covered in background checks. While no system is perfect, this seems through.

Federal Background Check

Another area of concern, especially when tragedy strikes, is for more strict gun control laws. It is my belief that these laws restrict law abiding citizens, but have little effect on criminals. Just Facts includes information, while somewhat dated, that illustrates this point:

* A 2004 study of state prisoners who possessed guns during crimes for which they were jailed found that the guns were obtained from the following sources:

  • 0% through an illegal/street source
  • 4% through family or friends
  • 3% at a retail store
  • 6% at a pawnshop
  • 8% at a gun show
  • 6% at a flea market.[119]

This shows us that gun laws had no effect on the purchase of 77.4% of the guns purchased by prisoners, yet it effects the ability of 100% of law-abiding gun purchasers to protect themselves and their families.

Now, let’s look at some statistics that show the positive effect of owning a firearm.

* A 1982 survey of male felons in 11 state prisons dispersed across the U.S. found:

  • 34% had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim.”
  • 40% had decided not to commit a crime because they “knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun.”
  • 69% personally knew other criminals who had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim.”[27]

Gun ownership, or the belief that a potential victim owned a gun, prevented a significant percentage of crimes. Isn’t this why we immunize our children; to “scare off” disease?

I have a lot of opinions. Owning a gun to protect my family, my children from a violent disaster is as important as protecting my children from long dead, but deadly, disease. Ultimately, however, I believe the best answer, the only true answer, is a revival of faith.  Those who believe in God know what I am talking about. Those who do not, don’t worry, my prayers for you won’t hurt.


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