Posted in Parenting, Uncategorized

Can We prevent Mass Shootings?

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today talking about mass shootings. Just the other day, I saw a video on social media demonstrating a product that will lock doors during a shooting.  It’s called the Barracuda Intruder Defense System. Here’s a video demonstrating how it works.

Barracuda Intruder Defense System

It’s depressing that we even have to have this type of product on the market, but we need it. Mass shootings are on the rise. Most shootings happen in schools or businesses where people feel safe.  On February 20th of this year there was a mass shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan. A lone gunman stalked random victims, killing six of them.

How do we stop these shootings?

No one has the answer to that question. They do know many of these acts are committed by young men who are mentally ill and have access to guns. Unfortunately, such broad traits do little to help determine who will actually attack.  In fact, most mentally ill people are usually the victims of violence as opposed to the perpetrators.

Photo credit: mjustinecorea via Visualhunt / CC BY

What are some common factors of these shooters?

That’s a good question. They are usually socially awkward, feel alone, and have access to guns. Many of them have been bullied, harassed, and ignored. It’s my opinion, bullying is the underlying cause of many mass shootings.

Most shooters have suffered some kind of loss such as a break up or the loss of a job. This loss puts a strain on an individual who’s already vulnerable. The majority of mass shooters don’t have a support system and when tragedy strikes they have no one to turn to.

What can we do?

Many people believe stricter gun control is the answer, and I tend to agree. When you get right down to it, no one needs an assault rifle. They shouldn’t be easy to get, but they are. You can buy them online.

Photo credit: GovWin a Deltek Network via Visual hunt / CC BY

I also believe communities should pull together and school administrators and teachers need to be aware of some of the traits that all mass shooters exhibit. Below is a list of the traits and the mental process a shooter goes through before he takes action.  For more information click on this article.

 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/spycatcher/201506/identifying-the-next-mass-murderer-it-s-too-late

 

Narcissistic Traits: They believe themselves to be special, they have the right to do and say as they wish. The right to act out, feeling omnipotent in their beliefs. They feel they alone have wisdom and therefore their solution is the correct one.

Paranoid Ideation: All of these individuals have an irrational fear of something. They call it hate, but its fear. Ted Kaczynski feared technology. Timothy McVey feared the militarization of the police.

Passionate Hatred: Paranoia, the irrational fear of something fuels a passionate hatred. The kind that drives these individuals to take action. It’s palpable. People can see it in the comments they make, in the way the dress, and tattooed on their bodies.

Wound Collectors:

These people are individuals that collect social or historical slights, procedural wrongs, and injustices real or wrong. They nurse these wounds and use them to fuel their hatred.

Communication:

Communication almost always happens before action. The wound collectors tell others of the slights they’ve received and it escalates from there.

Violence as Magic:

Violence becomes the magical solution as the wound collector keeps track of all the slights he’s received.  It’s at this point that the individual rejects any other form of dealing with his wounds and starts gathering weapons and devising plans.

Isolation:

Before the violence takes place the individual with self-isolate to ensure he’s not listening to outside forces that would derail his plan.

The Lethal Cocktail:

So there you have it. The combination of narcissistic traits, paranoia that fuels hatred, and wound collecting is a volatile combination, a ticking time bomb. The only problem is where and when are they going to strike?

 

Thanks for reading my post today. I’d love to here if you have any ideas how we can stop these individuals before there is a loss of life. Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

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Posted in Slice of LIfe

Slice of Life Post: We’re getting a new Bookstore

 

Write. Share. Give.

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with another Slice of Life Post.  I’m so excited to announce we’re getting an Indie Bookstore in the area.

I just found out about it this last weekend and it gives me hope for the future. I’m hoping it not only survives but thrives. I love the idea of an independent bookstore. I always imagined myself owning my own store. Do you remember the movie “You’ve got mail?” Meg Ryan played the part of the bookstore owner and I totally identified with her.

I love books. I remember when I lived closer to a Barnes and Noble. I’d go there and spend hours browsing and reading. It was a way to relieve stress. Now, I don’t have that luxury because I have kids, and I’ve moved too far away from that store.

Photo credit: Stephan Geyer via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The owners have a refreshing attitude, too. It’s so nice that a business wants to come in and be a part of the community.  I’m hoping they’ll carry my books. I find the independent stores are more willing to work with Indie authors than some of the larger chains. I find that very interesting.

I’ve also heard rumblings in the blogosphere that some of the major booksellers aren’t doing as well as expected. Could this new bookstore be the wave of the future? I’ve heard there’s a resurgence of the Independent bookstore. Check out this blog post from “Books and Mortar” and draw your own conclusions.

Books and Mortar

How about you, do you like browsing through a bookstore, spending hours just reading and checking out books? Tell me what your favorite bookstore is. Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

If you’d like to check out other Slice of Life Posts, click the link below.

Slice of Life

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Literacy, Parenting

Improving Literacy starts at Home

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m back today and I’m talking about literacy in the United States. Did you know one in seven adults would find it difficult to read anything more challenging than a picture book? This is scary.

I find this quite alarming. How can these adults teach their children about the joy of reading, if they can’t read themselves? I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. Parents who can’t read are limited to what they can teach their children. In my opinion, reading is one of the most important skills we can pass on to our kids.

Photo credit: State Library of Queensland, Australia via Visual hunt / No known copyright restrictions

What’s going to happen to our country if we raise a generation of illiterate adults? What happens when all they can do is read text messages? The ability to read and write correctly is going to be a skill that will be in short supply in the future. In my opinion, there’s going to be a great divide between the kids who can read and write and those who get through life typing and reading short text messages. We as parents need to turn the tide on this problem. But what can we do?

Photo credit: DFID – UK Department for International Development viaVisual hunt / CC BY

We can make reading a priority. In our house it’s part of homework. My boys read twenty minutes every night. I talk about the books they’re reading and ask them their opinions. My oldest is in the process of reading my second Super Spies book. I know this story by heart and we discuss the actions of the characters. Could they have handled a situation differently? What would you do differently if you were in that situation? These are good talks and I treasure them. I’m hoping by having these discussions, I’m developing critical thinkers, too.

Image

What else can we do? We can improve the selection of books available for our kids to read. The more books they have to choose from, the more likely they’ll find something that interests them. This means supporting the libraries in our schools and our public libraries. It also means having a lot of books in our homes.

I also believe we need to accept what our kids want to read. If they want to read graphic novels, so be it. It’s better than not reading. That goes for comic books, too.  If these types of books are what interests your child, show them you support their choices. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo via Visual Hunt

When you think about it, reading helps strengthen the family bond. Imagine as your child grows he develops an affinity for a certain genre of books. Wouldn’t it be awesome to sit with your child and talk about the books he’s read? It would boost his self-esteem if you showed genuine interest in what he’s doing. If you showed you valued his opinion.

A Mom who read my first Super Spies book with her daughter, sent me an e-mail stating that my book opened up a family discussion about what her daughter would do if she were in the same situation as my characters. It was a great bonding moment between them. Isn’t that an awesome feeling? Knowing your book sparked a family bonding moment? It was for me!

b569f-the2bsuper2bspies2band2bthe2bcat2blady2bkiller2b500x750

Reading is also a great stress reliever. Helping your child develop a love of reading early will help him deal with the pressures of being a teenager. I always lost myself in a book during my teen years and it helped me.

For more information on how reading benefits you and your child, check out this post.

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-benefits-reading-why-you-should-read-everyday.html

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog, I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any ideas on how to improve literacy, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Slice of LIfe, Uncategorized

Weekly Reflections: A Slice of Life Post

 

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with another Slice of Life Post. My boys and I are enjoying our mid-winter break. We have two days off of school, so I’ve gotten a lot of writing done but housework…not so much. 🙂

Yes. I’ve been feeding my addiction. I’ve been writing. What else can I do during these rough winter months when I can’t get outside?

Photo credit: peaceful-jp-scenery via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

I did meet a friend for lunch over the weekend, though. Someone I went to high school with. We weren’t close in high school, but we connected on Facebook and found that we lived close by. Isn’t social media wonderful that way? I’ve been in touch with people I haven’t spoken to in years. It’s so interesting to see the different paths everyone has taken.

I miss those friendships from my school days. We had so much fun. I don’t think women are close like that in adulthood. We get married, and we devote all of our time to our families. I do believe you can have those close friendships in old age, though.

I see my Great Aunt Josie in her retirement home and she’s as spunky as ever. I want to be like her. She’s so full of spirit. She was close to my grandmother, and I love to hear tales of them growing up. She has friends she gets together with in their community room. I love the fact she has companions. I’m so thankful she’s not lonely.

Enter a caption

Photo credit: TheArches via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

 

When I think of my Aunt Josie. I think of this awesome poem. My grandmother gave it to me in a frame one Christmas, and I’ve kept it ever since. Here it is:

When I am an Old Woman

I shall wear purple

with a red hat which doesn’t go,

and doesn’t suit me,

and I shall spend my pension on brandy

and summer gloves and satin sandals,

and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired…

and run my stick along the public railings

and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain.

And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens

and learn to spit…

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

and pay our rent and not swear in the street

and set a good example for the children.

We will have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I should practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised when suddenly

I am old and start to wear purple.

Author: Jenny Joseph

          This is what I want to be like in my old age. How about you? Have you ever thought about it? What do you want to be like when you’re old? And what is the definition of old these days?

Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you!

To read other Slice of Life Posts, click the link below:

Slice of Life

Posted in Parenting, raising kids

An Insidious Epidemic: Childhood Obesity

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today, and I’m talking about something that is on the rise in the United States and that is Childhood Obesity. It saddens me when I see an obese child. I know he’s going to struggle with weight issues throughout his whole life. Nearly one in every three children are obese. That’s alarming, isn’t it? Our country has reached epidemic proportions.

Ed Yourdon via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

       What does obese mean?

It means that a child is severely overweight with a Body Mass Index that is equal to or greater than the ninety-fifth percentile.

What’s causing Childhood Obesity?

 Let’s face it, one of the major causes of this epidemic is screen time. Our children are watching TV or on their computers more than ever these days. This is time they should be spending being physically active. We as parents need to limit their screen time and push them to become more active. We need to teach them to take care of their bodies.

Another cause is the fact that many people don’t live in areas close to supermarkets that sell healthy foods. They get their food from fast food restaurants or convenience stores. These foods taste great because they’re loaded with fat and calories, but they’re bad for our children. So, parents need to make that extra effort to find healthy foods. I know it’s hard, especially if you have to drive an hour to the super market. We’re busy parents, right? Who has two hours to spare driving to the super market? I suggest making it a family outing. That’s right, get the whole family involved in grocery shopping. Not only can you teach your kids about healthy foods, but you can also teach them about how to shop on a budget. These are definitely two life skills they’ll take into adulthood.

Marketing of unhealthy foods to our children is another cause of childhood obesity. This goes along with too much screen time. It’s also happening in our middle schools and high schools. Our kids are bombarded with advertising for unhealthy food choices, while advertising for healthy food choices is non-existent. This has to change if we want to have an impact on our children’s eating habits.

Photo credit: epSos.de via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

 

Did you know there’s no law requiring physical education in schools? This surprises me.  It’s recommended that children get at least one hour of physical activity a day. From a study conducted in 2009, only thirty three percent of students met this guideline.  I find this disturbing, especially when I’ve learned that being physically fit is good for your brain.  Check out this article to learn more:

http://www.edutopia.org/exercise-fitness-brain-benefits-learning

According to the above article, there is a direct correlation between being physically fit and academic achievement. The more physical tests the students passed, the higher they scored on their achievement tests.

Photo credit: DennisSylvesterHurd via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

In Naperville, Illinois educators created an early morning physical education class for kids who were behind in their literacy levels. The kids would exercise in the morning before class for thirty minutes, and the results were eye-opening. They improved their scores on standardized tests by a whole one and a quarter percent, while those who didn’t participate in the PE class only improved by nine-tenths of a percent.

They also tried this with an Introductory Algebra class, and the results were even more dramatic. Those students who participated in PE before Algebra increased their scores by 20.4 percent. That’s huge! While those who didn’t participate only improved by 3.9 percent.

As you can see, there is a direct correlation between exercise and academic achievement. So not only is Childhood Obesity affecting our kids’ physical health, but they’re mental health as well. So, the bottom line is that we need to get Childhood Obesity under control by increasing their physical activity.

Maybe we need to have more recess time in school? I think that’s a great place to start. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment!

Some other articles about Childhood Obesity:

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm

https://www.healthiergeneration.org/about_childhood_obesity/get_informed/

http://www.edutopia.org/exercise-fitness-brain-benefits-learning

 

 

Posted in Literacy, Slice of LIfe, Writing

Slice of Life Post: The Writer’s Life

 

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today with another Slice of Life Post. I have finished my book. I’ve made all the changes my Beta Reader recommended, and I’m happy with the result. Now I’m going back and double checking punctuation. It’s tedious, but must be done.

Image courtesy of Allthefreestock.com

http://allthefreestock.com/

I’m always looking to improve my story. Sigh. A writer’s work is never done. I’m also overwhelmed because I have so many ideas I want to pursue, I don’t know which one to work on next. I’ll be working on one story and another idea will pop into my head.

Image from Allthefreestock.com

http://allthefreestock.com/

I’m sure this happens to you, too. What I usually do is write down the idea and then continue working on my current WIP, but sometimes it’s hard. Especially when the characters are screaming to be written. They’re not very patient are they?

This is the Writer’s Life. Writing between family obligations and work. I get irritable when I can’t write. I think I may have an addiction. 🙂

Well. The first step is admitting it, isn’t it?

But this addiction is a good thing. I believe that with all my heart. If I didn’t write I wouldn’t be able to express all the creativity inside me. There’s a lot in there, trust me. 🙂

My writing inspires kids. That is the most awesome feeling in the world and probably the root of my addiction. When I go to a school for an author visit, the enthusiasm these kids show radiates off them in waves. They inspire me. They make me want to keep writing, so they’ll keep reading. I can’t write fast enough.

Did you know that twenty one percent of the adults in the United States read below the fifth grade level? Does anyone else find this alarming? Check out this article from Huffington Post for more information.

Huffington Post Article

How does this happen? How did they slip through the cracks?

I don’t know about you, but this bothers me. I want the world to be a better place for my kids when they grow up. How can we change this?

I know one way is to donate to libraries. I didn’t realize this until recently, but many libraries are not included in school budgets. So they’re limited in how they get new books. Donations are one of the few ways libraries can obtain new books.

Studies show that improving libraries raises literacy levels in the surrounding communities. I wrote a post on this very subject three years ago. Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out.

Improving our Libraries will improve our Literacy Levels

Image courtesy of Allthefreestock.com

http://allthefreestock.com/

This is so important for our young people today because the pace of life is just going to continue to get faster and faster. They need to be critical thinkers to discern between what is real and what is bogus. Reading helps develop that critical thinking process, I’m sure of it.

So there you have it. My burning desire to write stems from inspiring kids to read. That’s why I do it. Recently, a parent of a reluctant reader gave my first Super Spies book to her daughter. She hoped it would inspire her to read, nothing else had worked so far. My book did. She loved it. She went on to read the next two in the series. She wants to read more. I’m writing. I’m writing as fast as I can.

 

Thanks for reading my Slice of Life Post today. If you’d like to read other Slice of Life Posts, click the link below.

More Slice of Life Posts

Oh, I have one more announcement! My first book in the Super Spies series has a new cover! I loved my old cover, but this one is good, too. The cover and blurb are below. Check it out!

 

In a small town in Michigan, fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman and what’s worse? One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death.

Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own investigation. The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the investigation. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer. Or die trying…

 

If you have any hints or comments about the writing life or how to improve Literacy Levels, leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Posted in Parenting, Teen

Human Trafficking: Crimes against our Teens

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I have finished my WIP, and all the tweaks my Beta Reader wanted me to make. I’m excited about this one. I can see the improvement in my writing and it just feels awesome. I’m sure you know what I mean! 🙂

I’m back today and it’s been awhile since I discussed a teen issue, so I thought I should talk about one that I’ve just become aware of. I didn’t know this, but the state of Michigan is ranked number two in Human Trafficking, the sex trade to be exact. When I found out, I couldn’t believe it. I was appalled and shocked. Nevada is ranked number one.

What is Human Trafficking exactly?

That’s a good question. Human Trafficking is the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.

Image courtesy of allthefreestock.com

http://allthefreestock.com/

According to the article below, Human Trafficking is a highly lucrative trade. There are high profits and low risks. This occurs in the agricultural, manufacturing, and construction industries. For more information click the link below:

http://www.thetimesherald.com/story/opinion/columnists/2016/01/20/human-trafficking-real-problem-michigan/79055920/

Teens and runaways are at a high risk for this trade. These isolated individuals are lured into the industry with promises of love, affection, and gifts.

Photo courtesy of allthefreestock.com

http://allthefreestock.com/

I’m shocked Michigan, my state, is number two, but according to my research it’s because we’re so close to Canada. Traffickers are taking their victims across the border and forcing them into this illegal trade.

I’m drawing the conclusion that once these victims are across the border, they become much harder to find. According to the article below, many people feel that the Canadian penalties for this crime are too lax. Read more here:

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/report-says-canada-too-lax-on-sex-trafficking-1.408336

For more information regarding the Human Trafficking Industry click the link below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_trafficking_in_Canada

It sounds like this is happening right under our noses. How do we know what Human Trafficking looks like? Below are some guidelines.

Signs of Human Trafficking:

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?

 

If you suspect someone is a victim of this crime you can call your local law enforcement agency and report your suspicions, or you can call any of the hotlines listed below:

  • Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) to report suspicious criminal activity to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tip Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The Tip Line is accessible outside the United States by calling 802-872-6199.
  • Submit a tip at http://www.ice.gov/tips. Highly trained specialists take reports from both the public and law enforcement agencies on more than 400 laws enforced by ICE HSI, including those related to human trafficking.
  • To get help from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733). The NHTRC can help connect victims with service providers in the area and provides training, technical assistance, and other resources. The NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The NHTRC is not a law enforcement or immigration authority and is operated by a nongovernmental organization funded by the Federal government.

Click the link below for more information:

http://www.dhs.gov/blue-campaign/identify-victim?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=stp&utm_campaign=search-stp

Check out the below petition to change legislation to stop Human Trafficking:

https://www.covenanthouse.org/help-the-homeless/pledge/12-bills?origin=DHQEI1600EJRVN&interest_id%5B0%5D=2781&gclid=Cj0KEQiA89u1BRDz8enExq7rvN0BEi

Thanks for reading my post today. If you have any ideas how we can stop this crime from occurring please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from  you!