Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work and writing and Christmas shopping. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and this year, I’m hosting Christmas dinner for my extended family. I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but I do enjoy these family events, and the shopping! I love picking out gifts for my loved ones. But enough about that.
Today, I’d like to talk about being present this holiday season. I’ve noticed over the past year that many people take selfies when they’re out with loved ones and post them on social media. I know this is important when you’re building your brand, but we are so much more than our image on social media.
I challenge everyone to be present with your family and friends this holiday season. Make sure this season is about them and not building your brand. Take pictures for the memories and don’t worry about social media. You can always go back to building your brand after the holidays.
Really enjoy the moment whatever it may be. If you go to a Christmas parade, don’t just take a selfie and be done with it. Put the camera away and be present with your companions. We won’t get these moments back, and they’re so much more satisfying than getting hearts and likes on social media.
This is how we get our connections back. This is how we strengthen our bonds with our families and friends. This is how we fight disconnection. We can’t afford to become more disconnected than we already are. Research has shown that increased amounts of screen time can be associated with anxiety, depression, and leads to social isolation which in turn leads to lower self-esteem.
I’m not a therapist, but aren’t these all ingredients for mental health issues? What if we increased our ability to be present and strengthen our bonds with family and friends off of social media. Maybe we’d see a decline in mass shootings and suicides.
So, let’s make sure we’re present this holiday season and strengthen those bonds with our loved ones. Maybe start some new family traditions or hold up some old ones. My family has started a new tradition of playing cards during our time together, and while we’re playing, we reminisce and laugh about our antics growing up. It’s a great way to foster that connection we all need.
How about you? How do you strengthen your family connections? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!
Hello everyone, I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you were able to enjoy your holiday with family and friends. The Holiday season has begun and I’ve already started my Christmas Shopping.
But enough about that. In the last week before Thanksgiving, we’ve had two mass shootings. One in Colorado and one in Virginia. This saddens me. What is going on in our country?
The shooting in Colorado is being investigated as a hate crime because the gunmen opened fire on a LGBTQ night club. The one in Virginia was an employee of Walmart who opened fire on fellow employees. Both incidents are under investigation, but like I’ve said before, I feel the root of all these shootings is disconnection. The shooter has lost his connection with family, friends, and community. No one wakes up one day and says, “I’m going to shoot up Walmart today.”
There are signs something’s wrong. The shooters may have a history of violence in their past. In fact, The New York Times conducted a study and found that seven out of ten mass shooters have a history of domestic violence. Either they are the abuser, or they grew up in an abusive household. This is where we need to start. Let’s take a hard look at domestic violence.
We have to stop sweeping it under the rug. Did you know that a woman is five times more likely to be murdered if her partner has a gun? So, if you combine the disconnection the shooter feels and add domestic violence to the mix, you’ve got a bomb ready to go off, and there’s no telling when it’s about to explode.
But what can we do? That’s a pertinent question. There’s no way to predict when someone’s going off the deep end. We need to educate people and where there’s a disconnect create a connection. We can do this by community outreach programs and through our schools. I hate to put any more responsibility on our schools, but it is a place where kids come together and a place of connection for them.
We need to study other countries that don’t have a mass shooting problem and emulate them, then go above and beyond to create avenues where victims of domestic violence can go and be safe. Next we have to take a hard look at domestic violence and stop tolerating it as a society. It has to be punished and not swept under the rug.
I don’t like to get political on my blog, but there is another reason the United States has so many mass shootings and that is we have an astronomical number of guns. In a study conducted by The New York Times, Americans make up 4.4 percent of the population but own 42 percent of the total number of guns. We need to change this. Kids don’t need assault weapons and neither do adults. The only people who really need this type of weapon is someone in the military. I know there are some second amendment people out there, and I agree with you. We do have the right to bear arms, but the constitution was written a long time ago, and I can guarantee you, they weren’t even thinking about assault rifles when they wrote that amendment.
So there you have my action steps to the problem.
Create connection through our communities
Stop tolerating Domestic Violence as a Society
Limit access to guns and assault weapons
Emulate other countries who don’t have a mass shooter problem
What are your thoughts on Mass Shootings? What would you do to stop them? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!
For more information on Mass Shootings, check out these links:
Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work and editing. I’m editing my second manuscript and I’m excited about this one too. But enough about that. We had a sad event happen this week. There was another school shooting in Texas.
This breaks my heart. I think about those innocent children cowering in corners and how scared they must’ve been. My heart goes out to them. Then I think of the shooter and wonder how wounded he must’ve been to go to that extreme. He must’ve felt he had nothing left to live for.
I think of my own kids and wonder how I can protect them. I wonder if online school isn’t the solution, but also an exasperation of the problem at the same time. I mean keeping large groups from getting together will make them less likely to be victims, but and this is a big but, isolation and disconnection are huge factors that drive these kids to do the unthinkable.
I was chatting with my husband, and he asked the mind-boggling question, where did this eighteen-year-old get the money to buy an assault weapon? These guns are not cheap. I read a little bit of background about the shooter. He was a loner who had quit his job a week prior to the shooting.
This supports my theory that disconnection is a major factor in these events. Disconnection from family, their community, and society. We all need to be vigilant. As parents we can do our part and make sure our kids feel connected to their family. Family traditions are a big part of that.
According to another newspaper article, the shooter made threats to girls online when they rebuffed his sexual advances and claimed he’d come to their school and shoot it up. These are signs that we need to take seriously. No one believed he would carry out his threats. They all thought he was kidding.
Now we know better. Now we must do better.
We need to take better care of our kids. Pure and simple. The teen years are the hardest years of our lives, and they’re harder now than when we were teens decades ago. When they withdraw, make sure they’re not dealing with anxiety or depression. I know this is hard. They won’t like your intrusion, but they’ll appreciate it when they’re older. And the fact that they made it to “older” will be a blessing in itself.
We need stronger gun laws for young kids. I am a believer in the second amendment, but I’m also a believer in keeping our kids alive. Both can be true. Young kids don’t need assault rifles. Period.
We need to train our police officers how to manage situations like this. It’s my understanding that they stood around the school for an hour, not knowing what to do. It was a border patrol officer who got into the school and shot the shooter.
We need to do more for through our mental health programs. Mental health issues start in the teen years. If your teen or a friend of your teen’s is showing mental health issues, try and get them help in any way you can.
Is there a way to prevent mass shootings? I believe we can. Maybe not prevent every one, but we can bring these numbers down. How about you? Do you have any ideas? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work, writing, and running. It’s treadmill season at the Orchard household and I did something to my back the other day when I was running. It hasn’t gotten any better, and I fear I’m going to have to go to the doctor and get it checked out. It has been four days and it hasn’t gotten back to normal. Ugh.
But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about staying connected. With social media we can connect any time for any reason, but is it a true connection? I don’t think so, there’s nothing like taking the time to sit down with family and friends and spending good quality time with them.
The social media platforms, be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, main intent is to keep you engaged. Behind the scenes, they analyze your likes and comments to learn what your interests are so they can plant more of those interests in your feeds. This keeps you on their site longer, and it appears like you’re connecting with friends and family, but in reality, it’s more about keeping you engaged than connecting with people.
Don’t get me wrong I love social media because it allows me to stay in touch with friends in other states and countries, but it doesn’t take the place of a true connection with your family and friends right here.
Just the other day, I had brunch with some friends and then we spent the afternoon painting together. It was an In Real Life Connection. One in which, I’m learning how to paint, and I must say Bob Ross is right, there are no mistakes just happy little accidents. 😉 But I digress, the point I’m trying to make is we need in person connection now more than ever. If we lose the ability to read social cues and body language, we’re going to set the human race back to the caveman era.
Evidence suggests there is a correlation between the rise in suicide rates and the rise of social media. We have more access to more information than we’ve ever had. That means we have access to chat rooms and forums that are pro-suicide. Our kids have access to these forums. So, if you’re dealing with a child with some mental health issues and they find their way to one of these forums, it could be trouble.
Cyber-bullying has led to suicides as well, especially among the younger crowd. Social media has become an avenue for that also. So, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a connection with your loved ones. We can never truly know what’s going on in someone’s mind unless we watch for the signs.
But that’s not where I want to go with this. I digress again. Sorry. What I want to say is that maybe Social Media is the symptom, and the real disease is lack of connection or disconnection.
I believe that if it’s not the sole cause, it’s a big part of it. So, keep the communication open with your family and friends. Stay connected. Make sure your kids learn how to make an emotional connection with their friends, so they won’t feel isolated.
So how do we stay connected with so many distractions?
Engage in a common interest like hiking or biking or robotics
Have family night where you play a card game or board game
Watch a movie together once a week
Take a family vacation
These are just a few ideas. There are many ways to make connections with your family. How do you connect with yours? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!
Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week. I didn’t get much writing done because I had the flu for a couple of days. I’m feeling better, but it took me a few days to recover. I am better and working on my WIP finally. But enough about that. Today I have an important topic to cover.
This week a school shooting happened in Oxford, Michigan. I’m sure you’ve all heard about it. This is the first school shooting I’ve heard about since the pandemic hit. A few years ago, I did a blog post on school shootings and I remember that one of the key factors in them is disconnection.
The individual feels disconnected from their family, school, and community. This happens to kids who’re bullied. During the pandemic, many schools were working virtually and there were no school shootings. Kids weren’t getting together every day. Bullying couldn’t occur. Now, I don’t know if the shooter was bullied or not. There have been conflicting reports on that, but I do believe the disconnection did take place.
The first and most important place a teen needs to feel connected is with their family. This is where parenting comes into play. Even when our kids are teens and exerting their independence, they still need to know they’re loved and accepted. We still need to make sure their emotional needs are met.
For example, my oldest listens to a musician who swears a lot in his lyrics. Whenever we ride in the car and he’s driving, he listens to that music. Now, I don’t like the lyrics, but the music itself has a nice beat and can be calming. I make sure and tell him I like the music. The reason I do this is because even though he’s branching out and developing his own tastes, he wants his mother’s approval. So, I give it to him. It’s a way for us to feel connected.
I believe when parents are too rigid in their own beliefs and are unable to give their child the acceptance they need, the child hides that part of themselves away from their parents. This is where disconnection begins. The teen feels this part of himself is unacceptable and starts to hide it from friends and their community. They withdraw instead of reaching out. So, the disconnection begins in the home. We can try to blame the schools or bullying, but it really begins with the parents.
That’s why I was glad to see the parents are also being charged in this shooting because ultimately, they are as responsible as this young kid. I know parenting is tough. There are no do overs and parents make mistakes. But I’ve found when I make a mistake with my kids, if I own up to my mishaps and apologize. They forgive me. This is where it needs to start. The relationship between parent and child is a lifetime commitment. Even when they’re grown and have children of their own, they’ll want that acceptance from their parents. That understanding. So, lets give it to them.
Sometimes, parents are incapable of giving this kind of acceptance to their children because they themselves are struggling. Maybe struggling with addiction or financial issues. In that instance, it’s important for extended family and the community to come together and support this youngster, so he still feels connected and loved. It takes a village folks, it really does.
Yes, bullying is a factor, but bullying can’t occur if there’s connection. So, parents let’s do a better job of staying connected with our kids and they won’t withdraw from their friends and community and they’ll be more likely to reach out for help.
How about you. How do you stay connected with your kids? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!
Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I saw this on my Facebook page and had to share it with everyone. I think this is an awesome idea! I found this awesome story on Glennon Doyle Melton’s Blog. To see the original article click the link below.
A few weeks ago, I went into Chase’s class for tutoring.
I’d emailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math – but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She emailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it.Help me.” And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth grade classroom staring at rows of shapes that Chase’s teacher kept referring to as “numbers.”
I stood a little shakily at the chalkboard while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, perched on her desk, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.” Luckily for me, I didn’t have to unlearn much because I never really understood the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but l could tell that Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously we have a whole lot in common.
Afterwards, we sat for a few minutes and talked about teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility it is. We agreed that subjects like math and reading are the least important things that are learned in a classroom. We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger community – and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are Kind and Brave above all.
And then she told me this.
Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.
And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn’t even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.
As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot – and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.
As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.
Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.
This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that ALL VIOLENCE BEGINS WITH DISCONNECTION. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy KNOWING that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.
And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often, and with the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11 year old hands – is SAVING LIVES. I am convinced of it. She is saving lives.
And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything – even love, even belonging – has a pattern to it. And she finds those patterns through those lists – she breaks the codes of disconnection. And then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s MATH.
All is love- even math. Amazing.
Chase’s teacher retires this year – after decades of saving lives. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day- and altering the trajectory of our world.
TEACH ON, WARRIORS. You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and ONLY hope we’ve got for a better world. What you do in those classrooms when no one is watching- it’s our best hope.