Animals

stopanimalcrueltyIt seems fitting that with my latest book, I have found myself writing about animal cruelty.  I was a Vegan as a child and teenager and although originally only for allergies, I was always a compassionate soul.  As I grew in age, so did my feelings grow to protect these animals.

For 5 years, I served as a Foster home through Citizens for Animal Protection and I would have continued on but I fell in love with my Tabby, Hans.  Sadly, Hans was hit by a car a year ago and as my longest relationship to date at 18 years, his loss hit me hard.  We’ve all experienced loss of loved ones and this loss of my furry friend made my vision more clear.  Even my naughty but loving dogs, Harry and Roxie felt the loss.  Their sadness was deafening and their love for him warmed my heart.

Last year, I was asked to write a story for a wonderful family in Houston and after collaborating with their daughters, Reva and Saleela, we decided to write about animals. Although writing for children, I was drawn to bringing to light the treatment, or rather the mistreatment, of animals.  I realized the obvious double entendre with “animals” as the subject of the book from the start and it was my “loose” title for the first couple of months.  I explored the idea that not only has mankind forgotten to be kind, but that it only a selfless act made by these two kind, young girls will lighten their “darkened” path.

I find the “animals” that make the choice to hurt those who cannot speak for themselves despicable.  I am so angered by their inexcusable behavior that I feel an obligation to speak to those willing to listen.  As a children’s book Writer, I know people are listening and reading my words.  And as a mother of  3 impressionable children, I am very much aware that I must lead by example.  My children and those around me, will know kindness and compassion for our beautiful animals and Mother Earth if I show the animals this same compassion and kindness.  Although I am limited with my time and cannot do all that I want to help, having the unique opportunity to partner with organizations like CAMO Animal Rescue has renewed my spirit.  I am thankful for the time I’ve been given on this earth and I choose to not squander it.  Please find time to show compassion and kindness to those around you; despite any language, cultural or ethnic differences.  You’ll find your heart will grow if you take care of these Compassionate Souls.

Until next time my friends…Be Kind.

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Technology vs. Talking

We created this monster so now, it’s our duty to tame the beast!

When did this happen?  Why did we let it continue?  What can we do to stop the disturbing trend?  People have stopped “talking” and I blame technology.  As an advocate of communication (ie a woman) and a master of explanation (ie a woman), I find it extremely disheartening that we are choosing “technology” over “talking.”

It seems like only yesterday that we were actually putting forth effort to “communicate” with one another. Maybe it was because our lives weren’t ruled by “technology,” that we could appreciate those chats in the hallway, conversations with camp friends we only saw once a summer and even choosing to “write” friends and family letters.  Our “technology” access and knowledge was minimal 10-15 years ago and now with technology at our disposal, some people seemed to have forgotten how to hold “actual,” not “virtual” conversations.

Although Technology will always be present and often useful, we don’t have to let it rule our lives. Having children has allowed me a unique perspective when it comes to relationships children have with one another.  So many lack the communication skills to intelligently hold a conversation.  That is our fault. Because our children spend so much time “plugged in”, they can start to show traits and habits of being a little socially inept. We don’t want the technological advances that are helping our children succeed to completely disappear, we just need to stay on top of this potential epidemic.

At our house, instead of fighting a losing battle, we have chosen to embrace the inevitable. Technology will always be a part of our culture but it doesn’t have to replace the simple one on one conversations with each other that are so crucial to maintain confidence and consistency within our children’s lives.  We promote talking about anything and everything.  Almost nothing is off limits.  It is in open discussions that we learn their technological exposure and remaining transparent, we can navigate more safely.  If we teach them to be socially savvy and technologically respectful, we will successfully raise the future “smart” generation.  Until next Monday, my friends – Stay Modivated!

It’s Your Life

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”  Never has that been more true than right now.  It’s always been a Mantra of mine but now, as a Mother, a Writer and a Voter, it is my duty to teach my children what that really means.

The beauty of Democracy is that by living in our “free,” western society, we are allowed and encouraged to decide what that “something ” is.  What is your “Opus?”  What are you willing to fight to keep?  What would you die to protect?  What matters the very most to you?  What does your moral compass tell you?

The answers to these questions aren’t simple and yet, they aren’t that complex either. Our life experiences prepare us for the inevitable – that our decision for action or inaction, speaks volumes and can bring consequences.  We know that we should trust our inner voices; protecting those who cannot speak or those with whom confidence is a struggle, but occasionally we fail when there is a potential “loss”. Basic expectations should not be lowered because one or two have failed you. Through “failed” relationships with friends, significant others and careers, come immeasurable knowledge.  We learn that there are some things we don’t want to live without and things we aren’t willing to tolerate.  With each experience, we are able to decide when “killing them with kindness” isn’t enough and when given an option to offer an inch, someone might just try to take a mile.

Through finding our personal boundaries, we can start to stand up for what is right and to stop accepting the unacceptable.  Personally, I have made many revelations about my own moral compass and I hold myself to the challenges.  I have decided that I will no longer accept keeping company with those who speak poorly about others in their absence.  I find this behavior to be so irresponsible and disastrous.  Whether you believe it or not, if you “stay” and remain silent, you are as much at fault as those who instigate the negativity.  I also am passionate about my desire to share my rights as a white, American woman with all of those with whom I have the pleasure of sharing this wonderful country.  I don’t feel entitled or any more important than any other immigrant, living and working to make our nation more colorful.  My husband wasn’t born in the United States and I hope that all others who have fought to better their lives have not done do in vain.  I will do everything I can to fight for those who aren’t as strong and loud as me!  We have our differences and every single one of us has the right to our opinions. Sometimes, simply agreeing to disagree is the neighborly way and sometimes, it’s okay to have much more to say.

This is your country.  This is your life.  These are your children.  Shine your light for what is right!  Until next Monday, my friends – Stay Inspired.

 

Girls Rule

NOW is the time to band together.  NOW is the time to demand our voices are heard. fullsizerender-59NOW is the time…hold on…give me just a minute…almost there..  I only have a few things to do first – finish three packed lunches, get three kids dressed and off to school, race to the curb with my trash before they miss me AGAIN, one (maybe two) more load(s) of laundry, two dentist appointments, one volunteer reading at school, one volunteer job at another school, grocery store, dry cleaning, tidy house, get two kiddos’ to their soccer practices, attend one football game and oh yes, I almost forgot – get my books  organized for a reading/market tomorrow.  So, not much really – just “girl” stuff.

It’s amazing how Amazing we are, ladies!  We are back and ready to take over!  We have the skills and strength to change the world but I find “strength” seems to be a bit cyclical.  I know we were “smart” for wanting to pursue “higher” education just 20 years ago, we were “gracious” for giving up our careers to raise our families only 10 years ago and now today, we don’t not need to settle for being “sweet” for wanting to be “clever” once again! Dear Men, we actually have always been more clever than you given us credit.  We worked hard then to have a career outside the home, we worked hard to have our career inside the home and now, we’d like both.  We never actually gave up our “saavy.”  We just became “Master Multi-Taskers” and have been doing it ALL, right next to you!

Do you ever feel that some people are just incapable of accepting that we are equals?  This isn’t new and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel but I am constantly amazed at how many times I am personally treated with disrespect by men.  I’m assuming it’s because I’m wearing a bra because I treat men and women with respect and I make no distinction! I know this is something advocated by women lib and feminist groups but I feel slightly disassociated with the negativity brought by some of those groups (albeit I have’t looked at all of them to be fair).  I just don’t want to put down our husbands / our boyfriends / our male collegues to prove a point.  Ladies, I want you all to openly admit and declare with confidence, that our households / our children / our workplaces wouldn’t survive without us.  Why do you think that is that we’re so necessary?   Why do we need reminding by our peers?  In a time when being a woman should give us confidence, I feel we’re taking steps in the wrong direction.  Still to this day, I believe a lot of this has to do with body image and body shaming.  And women try to make “improvements” to keep up.

I have to speak to a few observations I have made in the last 5 years.  And at the risk of offending some of my friends, I feel we are trying too hard.  Confidence shouldn’t stem from our “outside” bodies, but rather the complete opposite.  Confidence doesn’t come in skinny jeans or a bigger bra size or with expensive shoes.  All of those things CAN help your confidence as long as they come from your idea of beautiful, not someone else’s but none of them will give you confidence – not really.  In order to raise up our sisters, we must remind one another that we aren’t “perfect” (whatever the hell that means anyway). We’re not the thinnest, we’re not the richest, we’re not the most well-endowed, we’re not the tallest, we’re not the smallest, we don’t always stand out in a crowd.  But we are each one-of-a-kind and that makes us more important than anything money can buy.  And without us, the world would be boring vanilla. We work hard as working and non working mothers / wives / girlfriends / sisters / sister-in-laws / house owners / pet owners / lovers / friends / aunts / neighbors / grandmothers /.  We are all that and so much more.

You are all too strong to give up easily.  This is our time to take matters into our own hands and Fight Like Girls!   Build each other up.   Show love and it will come back in many forms.  My love and admiration goes out to all those suffering from breast cancer, those who have lost someone special and those we continue to fight the good fight.  You can do this.  You are strong.  You are loved.  You are amazing!  Until next Monday, my friends – Stay Inspired!

JUMP!

“If he jumped off a bridge, would you?”  The age old phrase is still used today because the message remains relevant. Although the vernacular may be dated, I have asked two of my three children a variation of that very same question.  “Would you follow someone even if you knew what they was doing was wrong or would you stand up for what is right?”

Our children meet so many different types of kids or “potential friends” through school, in the neighborhood, athletics and other extra-curricular activities, and our job as parents is to protect them from harm.  Sometimes this means risk assessment and when we spot trouble, we feel inclined to want to act on our suspicions.  We are responsible for teaching our children “right” and “wrong” and that bad decisions can lead to unfortunate”consequences.”  We encourage them to trust their judgement and to feel confident in making their own decisions.   As parents, we just have to hope that they have been paying attention and that they make good choices.

Recently, I had teachable moment with Tatum.  Even though I knew my intervening was necessary, I had a difficult time justifying it was the “right” course of action.  All children want to “fit in.”   No one wants to lose the respect of their peers but when they remain silent during wrong doings, there are many casualties.  At the risk of sounding dire, I use the word “casualties” because the loss of a friend and/or the loss of status (even at a young age), can feel devastating.

Tatum has some wonderful friends and some…and well, some aren’t quite as wonderful. Last week, Tatum came home in tears and wouldn’t tell me what was bothering her. Although she’s very theatrical, after she remained inconsolable for over an hour, I knew it was more serious.  Naturally, I was afraid something bad had happened to her and immediately went into “protect my daughter at all cost” mode.  I assumed it had to do with this group of girls and that they had done something to upset her.

When she finally opened up, she shared a classmate’s ordeal of being teased.  I could tell Tatum felt as responsible as the girls who had been doing the teasing.   The little girl was being teased for her weight and apparently, the teasing had been going on for days.  I wanted to know if the teacher was aware and my next question was to see if Tatum knew the little girl.  Tatum said she had wanted to help the little girl and had wanted to tell the teacher but didn’t because the girls doing the teasing were her friends.   She knew that no matter with whom she sided, her actions would have consequences.  Tatum cried hysterically, saying over and over to me that she was sorry.

I felt so sorry for the little girl and then immediately, came the pang of regret and shame at the realization of scenario.  My daughter hadn’t helped this poor little girl.  She knew better.  She knew teasing wasn’t “right.”  Tatum wasn’t doing the teasing but she also didn’t do anything to help her and Tatum hadn’t helped her because of the potential loss of other “friends.”  The very next day after our talk, Tatum did what she should have done when the teasing began.  She spoke to the teacher, sharing with her which girls had participated, I called the parents of the little girls to give them a heads-up of sorts (although they were not pleased with my meddling at all), Tatum befriended the little girl and the teasing girls received detention for their poor behavior.  It turns out that this little girl had been teased before and until the teasing was addressed, the mother had been thinking of home-schooling her.  Even though standing up for what was right meant the loss of those friendships and even though Tatum managed to escape punishment for her part in the teasing, she learned a valuable lesson. It took only a second for her to do what was right and even after acting slowly, she was able to eliminate a lifetime of hurt for the little girl.  The two are now great friends and Tatum has even found more friends that love both girls.

No matter how many times we discuss the importance of standing up for what is “right,” there isn’t a guarantee our children won’t succumb to peer pressure.  But respect for one another is a simple courtesy that we all deserve and a doctrine we all should never forget. Children don’t always fully understand how hurtful teasing is and how life-altering that hurt can be. Younger children tend to find something else with which to find happiness, despite their circumstances but as they grow older, it becomes harder to fight those feelings that can lead to depression or to even more severe consequences.  We need to remind our children to not only stand up for what is right but to use their words and actions carefully because that hurt is permanent.  Sometimes it takes a few times to sink in that just because she says it, doesn’t mean you have to JUMP!  Until next Monday, my friends – Stay Inspired! .        .

The Tie That Binds

 

boatWatching the Presidential Debate last night, I immediately found the political discord resonated with me on a more personal level.  No matter on which side you stand, (and I promise I am not making this political), the people who we vote in to lead our country, should be expected to treat one another with respect.

This “disrespect” resonated with me because I feel our civilization has somehow forgotten to be “civil.”  We all deserve to be treated with respect.  Why is this concept so foreign to people right now – those who are proposing to be leaders of our country, community and neighborhoods?  This is the tie that binds us.

Why do you think that some people genuinely feel good when they hear someone else is achieving?  It’s because some of us genuinely want others to succeed.  And why is it that when some others hear good news about someone else, they feel a surge of regret, anger or jealously?  “Why should she be more successful than me when I’ve worked so much harder?”  Even as you watch the envy “train wreck,” it’s still hard to keep it from happening.  You need self-confidence to keep it from moving forward and no one wants to admit they have fallen onto the tracks.

You know that euphoric feeling you get when receiving a compliment – how that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside?  And what about how you feel when someone says or does something negative?  It could effect your whole day.  Negativity will consume you.  In addition to the obvious guilt you can’t properly internally rectify, it could have far more severe consequences.  It could lead that person to suffer from depression and be consumed with self doubt and frustration.  Why would you knowingly put someone in that fragile state?  I know I’ve preached a little about this but why wouldn’t you want everyone to be able to experience that euphoric feeling?  When you think something nice about someone, you should always tell them.  Conversely, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  We teach this to our children but the same applies to us, especially since we are leading by example.

We are all created differently and thank goodness for that.  You would be bored to tears if everyone agreed with every word you said.  The diversity of our nation is what makes us so amazing.  Making the people with whom you surround yourself feel safe from ridicule and judgement, breeds the most interesting and creative ideas and solutions.  The time spent being envious and hateful is much more exhausting than allowing love and respect to wind your clock.

We all deserve forgiveness.  We all deserve love.  We all deserve respect.  Add some sugar and put away the salt for now.  Instead of pushing someone down, to raise yourself up, GIVE what you desire.  You will be amazed how quickly the negativity fades and actions are reciprocated.  If we are being truthful, we all want the same inalienable rights – Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. When did we stop using these core values?  Together, we can bring back decency to our vocabulary and start using these ideals, instead of abusing them.

I challenge you to “befriend” that person with whom you have had a struggle.  Maybe she has said something hurtful, maybe she has been disrespectful…maybe, just maybe, she too can be forgiven.  Until next Monday, my friends – Stay Inspired!

Are Your Friends Thirsty?

flowers3-2

I truly believe that Friendships are as important as our relationships with our family – and in some cases, they are more important.  So are you giving your friendships enough attention to allow them to bloom or do you have too many flowers in your bouquet?

I make the comparison of friends to that of blossoming flowers because of the obvious similarities.  Both friendships and gardens take love, patience and nurturing. These bonds aren’t formed over night and because not all friends are alike, all relationships take different levels of attention and care.

Growing up, my younger sister seemed to have it all figured out when it came to friendships.  I was always envious of her because her friendships seemed to stand the test of time.  She had six friends with whom she grew up, making a lifetime of monumental memories.  In the last ten years, I’ve watched her friends grow into amazing adults and mothers.  But even with the addition of husbands and children (and all of the excitement and heartbreak those relationships bring), their friendships never waver.  I love that for my sister, who also happens to my friend.  I’m happy that in addition to our family, she will always have those friends through thick and thin.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have some friends with whom I’m still very close.  And those childhood friends know that I would do anything for them and I know they would do the same for me.  But growing up and well into my twenties, I didn’t have one particular “group” with whom I identified. I had many.  I liked to travel between, making friendships along the way.  The relationships I had with many of my “friends” were all so very different.  Each relationship varied on the level of my participation.  The point I’m trying to make is that I wanted to be friends with everyone.  I wanted to be liked by everyone.  But of course, the reality is that you can’t be friends with everyone and you simply can’t be a friend to everyone.  It just isn’t possible to put forth the energy required to make lasting friendships into an unlimited amount of people.  You can’t.  Trust me.  I have tried.

Unknowingly I carried this desire for friendships with everyone onto adulthood.  I genuinely care for people and in my thirties and forties, I have made the rookie mistake of misjudging some “acquaintances” for “friendships.” They did not reciprocate my feelings and that immediately put me at a disadvantage.  Although I tried not to take it personally, I found it extremely difficult to watch what I thought were “friendships,” wither and die.  At the risk of sounding dramatic, that really was an epiphany for me and without warning, I was mourning something that never was.  I was trying so hard to create friendships that never would have bloomed.  Our soil was way too different.  Why did I not see that?

Over the last five years, I really have scaled back with my friends and learned to take advantage of nurturing the healthy relationships I have.  Life is too short to wonder why someone does or doesn’t care for you.  You know who your true friends are and instead of focusing on the negative, relish spending as much time with them as possible.  To love them is effortless, but to keep them means you must make them a priority.  Your personal friend “bouquet” doesn’t have to necessarily be large in size but it’s beauty can be immeasurable; each flower beautiful in her own way.

My friendships continue to flourish because I give them what I need in return.  By offering your love, admiration and respect and encouraging them to show their unique petals, you will always have a place in your friends’ hearts. To My Friends – I will always answer your calls, I will never judge you and I will always keep an extra glass ready for you!  You inspire me to always try harder and to be happy with what I’ve been blessed. I appreciate each and every moment I am allowed to spend with each of you; whether it be with belly-aching laughter or gut-wrenching sadness.  You know who you are and I love you immensely!

Until next Monday, my friends – Stay Inspired!