Societal Disconnect: Misplaced Attention and Priorities

Over the weekend, news of Syria using chemical weapons on its own people broke.  It wasn’t the first time this type of story came out of that country, but there are pictures and video of it now.  Dead women clutching their dead children with no apparent shrapnel or gunshot wounds on any of them.  There were no destroyed buildings, or signs of an explosion.  The evidence seems to point to Assad using chemical weapons on his own citizens.  On children.  Innocent children who never stood a chance against such atrocities, who should never have to fear or face them in the first place.SYRIA-CHEMICAL_2650175b

Syria wasn’t the biggest news on mainstream media or social networks though.  Also over the weekend, MTV hosted the Video Music Awards, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Miley Cyrus’ performance was…interesting.  It has been the topic of debate and conversation for two days now, with much of it surrounding the questionable behavior during the performance.  Weird tongue action, foam fingers touching places it shouldn’t, and the twerking happening every so often.  Her performance has been deemed inappropriate, disgusting, to sexual, and just plain trashy by most.  I will admit, I even through out some faux rage about it.  She is young, was a Disney star (Hannah Montana for you rock people), and is trying to show she’s an adult now with this type of show.  What about her young fans?  What about a little self-respect?

I used the word faux because what was I really upset about? It happens all the time, especially at the VMA’s.  You don’t watch that awards show for the awards, you watch it for the outlandish attire and questionable performances.  I was also  a 20-something once, and I did questionable things then too.  So why is there such surprise at Miley’s?  Why have we misplaced the outrage upon her, and not the true atrocities in the world, like Syria?

It really says something about our society, and the things we deem important when we choose to focus on the lives of celebrities instead of the lives on innocent children.  When was the last time you saw the face of a child living on our own streets on our nightly news?  Or the massacre of people in Sudan?  I can’t remember the last time.  I might see tiny blurbs of it here or there, but a lot of focus is on what Kim Kardashian’s body looks like post-baby, or what celebrity slipped up and did something stupid.  Social media is even worse, and a true look into what society is thinking about.   Trending today on Twitter is Miley Cyrus, twerking, and the VMA’s.  At the very bottom of the list is Syria, and even then it drops off the list off and on throughout the day. 

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How many of you can actually find Syria on the map?

Why do we care more about celebrities than children being killed, or the fact that Congress and the President keep taking vacations instead of passing a budget?  When did our attention shift so much that many people do not even know what is going on overseas?!  THAT right there is a real problem.  Our world is so small in comparison to what it used to be.  The internet connects us all every day, as well as global trading, and even seemingly small every day events can impact the world.  Our focus should be the real problems in our own country and abroad, like poverty, famine, and mass killings, not the life of a celebrity just because they are a celebrity.

We must be the change we wish to see in the world.  We can’t expect the violence to end if we do not even give two thoughts about it.  Washington wont change its tune and actions until we focus our attention on them, and force a change.  I just wish I knew why it changed, and where this misplaced attention will take our society one day.  I can’t think of anywhere good it could drop us.

Turn Off The TV. Family Time Is Actually Fun! And Important.

Last week was Samantha’s first week back to school, and it went really well!  She loves her new school, and seems to really enjoy going again.  I just wish her first weekend off from school had started off better.  Friday, she earned her first grounding.  Kids playing where they shouldn’t can result in broken windows.  Anyway, because of her actions, she was grounded from TV, her video games, and from going outside all weekend.

Friday night was rough because she had to deal with the ramifications, including talking to a police officer (for insurance purposes, and maybe a little scare factor).  She also had a rough time with idea of not getting to play her precious Minecraft for a whole week, or playing outside (except for soccer practice that starts today).  However, when Saturday morning rolled around, something surprising happened.

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Look at that smile! That is true happiness, right there. ❤

She played.  She didn’t whine.  She didn’t argue.  She smiled, and laughed.  All day.

Now, I am sure some people are going to think, “Well, duh!  You turn the TV off, and kids are forced to be kids.”  This is true, and unfortunately is not something we really figured out until we had to punish her more severely than in the past.  Unfortunately also, I think this is an all too common occurrence in this country.

Violence is part of our main stream society these days.  Maybe it has something to do with 24 hour new coverage, but you really can’t deny that our youth and society as a whole have become increasingly violent since video games and television were invented.  I am not blaming those things for the change in our kids, mostly, but I am blaming the parents.

I noticed something this weekend.  Samantha was happy and smiling.  My girl is generally a sweet, loving, and energy-packed girl, but looking back, I see the difference in her with TV vs no TV.  When she plays Minecraft, she rarely smiles unless she’s telling us something about it, but if she is just playing, she is slumped over, with a blank stare, and frown.  The same with television.  If she gets into a show, that same stare and frown is there.  Sure, she will laugh at a joke, but it’s mostly a chuckle, and then it’s gone.

THAT’S not my girl.  The girl we saw this weekend was her.  I can’t believe I didn’t see it before, and recognize that something needed to change.

Instead of watching TV, we played games.  Instead of playing Minecraft, she built stuff with art projects.  Instead of arguing, we actually had an enjoyable time playing some silly LaLaLoopsy game.  She even finally lost her tooth after a few months of it hanging on for dear life, and we danced and cheered.  It was fun!  She had our attention, and we had hers.  Nobody got moody with one another, except for Lauren, but that’s because she’s a sleep denier.

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Why is this such a revelation?  Because it’s not the violence in video games and television that can cause the issues with today’s violent youth, but instead the fact that they were even sitting there playing or watching them at all.  Our kids need to stop watching vulgarity and trash on the television, and instead send them outside to play in the sun and fresh air.  Instead of letting them sit all day while killing aliens in a game, give them some paper and scissors and let their imagination run wild.

It’s all about moderation.  I’m not saying all TV or games are bad, and they should be damned to hell for eternity.  What I am saying is watch that show, but when it’s over, turn it off.  Get up, and go do something else.  We love to do arts and crafts around here, or play outside, or read a book!  There is always something better than sitting on our butts all day watching mindless drivel.

It’s easier said than done, and I get that.  Parents work, kids have school, and a busload of activities like sports, dance, scouts, etc.  But unless we want to turn the violence around, and stop having kids killing because they are bored, we need to reinvest in our families.  That time is so important.  Youth is when we mold their minds and behaviors into what is acceptable, moral behavior and thinking.  If they are engrossed in the latest kill on the Xbox, then their minds are molding in a way that is just unacceptable, and scary.

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These three killed an innocent man…because they were bored.

I know, for my family, we will be turning the TV off more often.  Movie time together is great, but it can’t be a babysitter all the time.  Kids need that family time, that one on one time with parents and siblings.  It’s how they learn to love, and be loved.  I am definitely looking forward to the love that will be filling up this house once again.

Music, Oh Music! How I Love Thee!

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

-Bob Marley

Music is beautiful.  All of it.  I can’t say that I am knowledgeable on all that is musical, but I know what makes me happy.  Most of it puts me in a better mood, clears my mind, and gets me moving.  No matter what kind of mood I am in, I can turn on my Spotify account, hit Starred, and instantly be taken away from whatever bad mood, thoughts, or dark clouds that are surrounding me.  It really is a beautiful thing.

Like most people, I have songs that I identify with, and listen to when I am in that particularly dark state.  They usually involve a great beat, a great message, or both.  Lately, my song is “Wake Me Up” by Avicii.   The music makes me smile every time, and the beat gets me up and dancing with my girls.  The lyrics are wonderful.  Be who you are, and find the ones who share those same qualities.  Everyone has a place in this world, and you just have to find it, let go of the societal chains, and just be.  My favorite words of the song are “I tried carrying the weight of the world, but I only have two hands.”  Goodness knows this is how I feel on a daily basis.  Lately I have felt naive, and too empathetic.

Is that even possible?  To feel too much empathy?  I know I am a very emotional person, and I feel other people’s emotions as well.  Even someone I read about in the news that lives oceans away.  I always feel as if I let the worlds problems rest solely on my shoulders, as if I am the one who needs to fix everything.  I CANT DO THAT!  I am only one person, and just have to let go of the idea that it’s my responsibility to fix the world.  I have to share that responsibility, and advocate for change, help, and peace.  I have to use my voice and compassion in order to make a difference.  Music has helped me realize that, in particular that song by Avicii.

That’s why I listen to music.  Not only is it a wonderfully beautiful aspect of life, but it helps me work through my issues.  When I was suffering from postpartum depression, music was one of the few things that helped me get through the day.  Then when I was writing about experiences, music helped me sort through the jumble that were my memories, and get them down onto paper.  Florence and the Machine was one in particular that helped a lot with her song “Shake It Out.” 

How motivating is that?  If you start to feel like the world is pressing you down, or the darkness in your mind, you have to try to shake it off.  Know that you are worthy of goodness, that you deserve happiness, and the demons in your head are just that: demons in your head.  They aren’t you, and they can’t define you.  It’s tough getting to that point where you can really know that those dark thoughts really aren’t your own, but once you do, it’s a beautifully liberating thing.  I still struggle with it, but when I realize it, I just turn that song on.  Helps me so much.

Music can also just be fun, and the one thing that can make you get up and dance.  My two most favorite songs for that are “Daylight” by Matt and Kim, and “Love Today” by MIKA.  Matt and Kim are my go-to for uplifting spirits, as my girls and I always end up dancing and laughing together.  Seeing their smiles while we jam to good music equals happiness and success in my mind.   

What’s your jam, your go-to mood lifter?  Share the music!

First Day of 1st Grade!

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I’m not gonna lie, I have been overly anxious all day yesterday, and this morning.  She wanted to ride the bus for the first time on her first day of school.  I was so nervous letting her go.  She’s too little!  She’s my baby, she can’t keep growing up so fast.  I know she will be fine.  She was super excited, and that made me excited for her.

She gets to learn Spanish this year!  And do art!  And music!  Who would have thought the DoD could do something right.  I kid, sort of, but YAY for doing something other than testing, testing, testing.

I can’t wait to hear about her first day, so my anxiety can ease.  I just want to be sure she found her class OK, that she enjoyed the bus ride, and that she wasn’t scared.  I wasn’t there to hold her hand the entire way, which is different for both of us.  It’s time to cut the cord, as they say.  She’s officially a grade-schooler.

Let Kids Be Kids!

It’s that time of year again: Back to School shopping.  Samantha starts First Grade next week, and decided to grow like a weed over the past few months.  I’m not sure what we were feeding her, but I would sure like to figure it out so we can stop doing that.

This is Sam. She is 6, and loves art. This came costume came from an art project we did. <3

This is Sam. She is 6, and loves art. This costume came from an art project we did. ❤

Clothes shopping is a pain for me, as I hate trying on new clothes and then subsequently feeling poorly about myself.  Clothes shopping is a different kind of pain when it comes to Samantha.  She has an issue with certain types of materials touching her skin.  They make her itchy.  Like sequins on shirts.  The inside has the stitches to hold the sequins on, but it also has the material over the stitches that is supposed to help with the itching, but really doesn’t.  It sucks because she loves shiny and sparkly, but we move on with some kicks and screams.

The other issue is the types of clothing made available for purchase.  Skinny jeans are one thing, as you can buy them a size bigger and they wont be so tight.  However, now they make super skinny jeans.  For girls as young as mine, and younger.  Also low-cut shirts, mini skirts, midriff baring tops, and tennis shoes with wedges inside them (just to name a few).  When did our little girls become young women in the eyes of corporations?  OR, when did they become young women in the eyes of society?

This is Lauren. She's about to be 1 year. She's spunky, and loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. <3

This is Lauren. She’s about to be 1 year. She’s spunky, and loves Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. ❤

When I was a kid (yes, I went there. I also went there up hill and through the snow…one way), we didn’t have these kinds of clothes.  Sure, in the 80’s we had bright, obnoxious neon colors, with high tops, and scrunchie socks.  However, I do not recall ever seeing inappropriate clothing for my age, or clothes that read “Too pretty to study,” or some other nonsensical crap.

Why do we want our children to grow up so fast?  When did it become OK for young girls to wear shorts so short their butt cheeks hang out, or tops so low they would show cleavage if they had any to show?  I don’t want my kid to dress or look any older than she already is, but it’s so hard to find decent clothes out there for her age and size.  I miss the cute dresses with butterflies and ladybugs.  Now the clothes have stupid saying that make girls think it’s OK to be viewed as “dumb,” or clothes too short and make them think sexy is a good thing (Not for their age!).

I want my girls to know that smart is sexy AND cool.  That their looks should not define them, and that it is never OK to be objectified.  I want them to know that they are worth the same as any man, and should be treated the same, no matter what.  I want them to know that they CAN do anything they set their mind to, and that they should never let anyone tell them they can’t just because they are women.

I want them to know all these things…in time.

Right now, can they just be little girls?  Can they continue playing with My Little Ponies or dolls, and jam to Kidz Bop?  Maybe letting them be kids is the best thing for them, instead of pushing the world and all its problems on their shoulders.  They wont be little forever, so let’s try to keep them that way for as long as possible.

Stop Turning A Blind Eye

“You can turn a blind eye to people causing others to suffer greatly, believing God will choose who is worthy at the end of days, or you can bring down those who cause such horrendous chaos and God can still decide who had evil or good in their hearts.”

I am agnostic, so the part about God above means nothing to me, but the idea behind the quote is strong.  You can choose to stand by and watch atrocities happen, all while believing they will get their own against them in return, OR you can choose to stand up against the atrocities and those who perform them.  I choose the latter.

Recently, Russia has been in the news due to a law that was passed and upheld in regards to homosexuality.  From what I understand, the law was intended to prevent people from using homosexual “propaganda” against children, indoctrinating them and making them gay.  This has brought protests and supportive rallies for and by homosexuals, which has brought on arrests, violent public beatings, and shaming.  Carry a rainbow anything on your person, and you face the chance of an arrest, or being publicly beaten to a bloody pulp.  Support the gays, and you face the same consequence.  All in order to keep our children safe from the gay.

gayolympicsThe Olympics are coming up, and they are being hosted by Russia this time around.  Many are voicing their opposition to Russia’s laws and behavior, and fear for their own safety, or the safety of their countries athletes.  Many are even calling for a boycott of the Olympics in protest.  Russia has claimed they will not punish those from other countries who are gay, or support their fellow teammates who are gay, but come on.  Who really believes that?  They might not face criminal charges, but the fact remains that violence is being brought down on people who support, or who show they are gay.  Who wouldn’t fear walking down the street with a gay friend, or holding hands with their partner?

Stephen Fry was on Twitter this morning calling for a solidarity salute by the athletes, a salute to show Putin and his lawmakers that they stand by their fellow gay athletes, and that he can shove it up his ass (The hashtag is #sochisalute, in case you’re interested or have ideas).  In response, a fellow Twitterer has expressed that we should keep politics out of sports, and that we should confront the situation with more politics.  This person has also stated in a lengthy conversation with me that it’s just a law against propaganda against children, and that she has not seen proof that violence and oppression is occurring.  She’s Russian, and lives in Moscow, by the way.

Turning a blind eye.  Maybe she is doing it because the news in Russia chooses to not broadcast such atrocities, knowing full well they are horrible and should be condemned.  Maybe she really doesn’t have any idea this is going on, or maybe she is just part of the problem.  Knowingly turning a blind eye so that you do not need to stand up and fight against the problems is part of the problem.  Choosing to ignore the pain and suffering of those around you because it should be left to the lawmakers is part of the problem.  Standing by and not making your voice heard because the politicians and law enforcement can handle it is part of the problem.

How can anyone turn away from what is so obvious?  Maybe it’s a fear of getting beaten and arrested themselves, but even that shouldn’t prevent a person from speaking out.  Nothing was ever accomplished through silence.  Nothing was ever changed that way.

Stand up, use your voice, use any power you may have to stop the wrongs being forced on others.  Stand up to that bully threatening that kid on the playground.  Speak up and protest those politicians who are abusing their power to oppress others.  Stop those people beating up another just because of their skin color, or sexuality.  Even if you think it will change nothing, do it!  Awareness and a voice will bring light upon those performing the atrocities, and they will no longer be able to hide among the shadows.  They will be forced to be seen for all that they are.

Stop turning a blind eye, or you will become a victim yourself.

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Kids. They Grow Up Too Fast.

Samantha starts First grade in a little over a week.  Say what?!  Yeah, First grade.

samanthababyWhere did my baby go?  She’s lost in the jumble that is my PPD memories, and this makes my heart ache.  I remember her birthday, and our time in the hospital.  After that, much of it is a blur.  A dark, overshadowed blur.  Sure, I have pictures to remind me what she looked like, and a couple of videos, but those aren’t really memories.

Since I started getting help for my depression and anxiety a few years ago, things have been better.  What I wouldn’t give to remember those early years, though.  What her first words were, when she “crawled” for the first time (or what she considered crawling, which was really more of a crab walk of sorts), all those little momentous occasions that many parents write down in the child’s baby book are lost somewhere in my head.  They will probably never be retrieved, so the best I can do is remember and make new memories.

Last year, when she started Kindergarten, we were both so excited.  As the year went on, she faced some struggles with her crying and subsequent behavior, so it wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped.  Now that she is starting First soon, my anxiety is running overtime.  I want her to do well, and I want her to be able to control herself.  I want this year to be awesome.  I want her to enjoy school as much as I did.  She just needs to control the emotional side of her, and be confident!  The girl is a smartie pants, and I know she will do well if she can just rein it in.

She wants to ride the bus the first day.  It’s not even here yet, and I’m already nervous and sad.  I wont get to walk her up to the school, have a pep talk, and send her on her way.  Now I have to stay back, and just wave at the bus as it drives away with my not so little girl.  Sigh, this isn’t about me, but my anxiety is so strong about this, that it’s becoming about me.  In my head.  I suppose that’s the point of this blog, to get the jumbled mess of thoughts out.

Where did my baby go?  I feel guilty for not being “there” the first years, so maybe that is why there is so much anxiety about letting go.  Why must it be so hard?  Why must they grow so fast?  Why must I be crying about it already?  haha

All I can do is hope it turns out great, and that she has the best year yet.  It’s fun watching her learn new things, and discover who she is.

I think I just found the thought I need to hold onto.

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