We are all to blame.

As I was scrubbing down the ellipticals at the gym where I work, a news report about a girl who had committed suicide was playing on the TV.

Apparently, the girl had been depressed for quite sometime. She had written that she was upset because her parents were recently divorced, she had moved to the US from Ireland and she was bullied by kids at school. There is an investigation going on right now about whether the teachers should be held responsible for her death.

Warning: Although I am three years away from having my own classroom, I am about to go on a bit of a teacher rant.

Bullying is serious. It needs to be treated as such. It takes children who are often already in a vulnerable position and pushes them closer to the edge. What we call “bullying” is really abuse and it needs to be treated that seriously.

HOWEVER, while the bullying may have taken place in part at school, and while there are certainly teachers who don’t genuinely invest in the lives of their students, I am awed at the fact that when a girl commits suicide it is the fault of the teachers.

What about the parents who just split up? What about the mother who uprooted her daughter and moved her to a different country altogether? What about the parents who didn’t know their daughter well enough to recognize that she was upset?

What about the parents of those children who were bullying her? Who weren’t involved in their kids lives enough to know what hell they were putting another child through?

What about the coaches and school psychologists and social workers and neighbors and community leaders who are okay with a school and community where bullying is common?

What about the business world where adults bully other adults and companies bully other companies? What about an international community where it is okay for countries to bully other countries?

Perhaps the teachers are to blame in part too. Maybe there were clues in her assignments or behavior that weren’t followed up on. Maybe the teachers themselves contributed to the problem by making her feel less understood or accepted in some way…

But maybe the teachers had 30+ students in their classroom using 15 year old text books and were working 80 hours a week trying to prepare for class and be the best teacher possible. And maybe like so many teachers, her’s spent their lunch and prep time and after school hours helping students with school and life. And maybe in that situation, the teachers did all that they could.

Maybe, if we start looking at parent involvement in students lives, and social change, and more funding for schools to help struggling teachers, maybe if we start expecting teachers to educate and support our kids rather than raising them- maybe if we start looking at these things as life or death issues for teens like this girl, then this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.

Perhaps if we recognize that you and I, who don’t know this girl or her family or her school, are partly responsible for her death because we allow discrimination, bullying, underfunded schools and bad parenting to be the norm, then the next girl who is hurting might have enough support to make it.

At this moment, this is how I feel about life, my internship, college, etc. Anyone with me?

http://www.garfieldminusgarfield.net

Chloe’s Closet

Chloe Grace is 4 going on 14. You know the type, the child who would rather listen to Demi Lavato than Kenny Loggins. Along with dancing the night away and hugging her dog Mocha, her favorite thing to do is change her clothes.

These are not simple, normal outfits however. In all her four year old flair, she throws cowboy boots with hot pink vests with skirts and pants and two or three shirts at the same time. And somehow, she pulls it off.

Inspired by this chicatita fashonista, I present to you, Chloe’s Closet: a store of clothes and accessories perfect for your own young fashionista.

All proceeds go to supporting Chloe’s family’s adoption!

http://clothesbychloe.blogspot.com!!

Storytime

So today, I let the dogs out to go potty so that they don’t leave me presents in my bedroom.

When I went to call them in, Mocha came right away, but Lillie ran in the other direction (of course). I muttered under my breath some jumbled sentance about stupid dogs and how this is why people at baseball games eat them with katchup.

Anyway, I soon saw what the little shi tsu was running towards, and it was the massive black neighbor dog that is truely at least 10 times her size. I think Lillie forgets that she is little more than a rodent. She sprinted towards the dog barking what I’m sure would be foul obcinities if translated into human tongue.

So I put on the only shoes I had nearby, my black high heals, threw on a brown sweater that was laying on the couch and wandered out through the snow in this plus my red pijama pants calling after the stupid dog. (Oh, and I can’t forget to mention my uncombed morning hair blowing behind me).

Ten minutes later, I came back through the woods, squirming dog in my arms, cooing in a sugary sweet voice about how she is SOOO not getting a treat and how I am going to set Jazz (the parrot) loose on her.

Oh, and did I mention that Lillie will only eat Mocha’s food, and Mocha will only eat Lillie’s food? HELP!

looking back

i started reading through a lent devotional from my old church the other day. it was a devotional that i hadn’t actually used during lent, but later in the year. i never finished it, so hopefully this time i will.

the pages before my bookmark were filled with notes about life… here is some of what i had found… things that i wrote 2 and a half years ago…

“We are like priests. I am a priest. An example. A leader. A connection between God and the world. One who is chosen. One who is pure. One who is seeking God. I should be wise, live to a higher standard, and know the scripture. How have I been these things? How have I not been these things? How do I need to be these things?”

^(it is funny how something written so long ago, with hidden meaning that I have forgotten, can be so convicting years later.)

“It hurts. It’s not my fault. I am not making it up. It just hurts”

^(talking about my headaches i think)

“I have had a non-stop migrane for 5 weeks. Doctors don’t help. Alternative medicine doesn’t get covered by insurance and costs a lot. I can’t even afford to pay for other stuff that i owe money for much less extra medical bills. And i’m getting behind in school. People are supporting me in prayer and with encouragement. And people are paying my doctor bills… and my other bills. The Body of Christ is alive.”

^(for those of you who dont know… 4 months later… thousands of dollars later, that headache finally broke.)

“‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.’ <I have been loved like this. Thank you.”

No more laptop.

Lent is upon us! I almost forgot this year. I heard a random person who I have never before met talking about it while I was at my internship, and I thought to myself “oh no!” with the intensity that the average person who spends far less time with children would think some other… not quite lent appropriate… words.

With lent, as with just about everything else, I have a hard time deciding… not for lack of ideas or for lack of passion, but for fear of what I chose not being good enough. (Not that I am a perfectionist or anything…not at all) I want to do something spectacular. I want this lent to be the most life changing, intense, spiritual lent EVER. So when thinking, what should I give up? I easily dismissed “facebook,” “espn.com” and “tv” because they would be to easy and because they were too narrow. I would rather not do lent than give up something and have it be less than meaningful. So that is what I was resigned to do…nothing.

…until… I HAD A REVELATION. I will give up my laptop. You know, that thing that is always on my legs or under my arm… No, it’s not a funny looking metallic tumor, it is in fact a separate entity, although you would never be able to tell these past four years.

There is a computer at my work and my internship, so I will be able to check my email periodically… and perhaps even keep up with this blog. But no laptop.

My computer crashed at the beginning of my Christmas break this past year and I was without it for over a month. I read so much! and I made jewelry! and I painted! and I interacted with people! <I want that again.

This is my last few months of living at home, and I want to live it, not have it fly by me without me knowing because I was too absorbed with my computer. I want to go to bed at night without watching an episode of bones as I fall asleep. I want to not have to carry this stupid thing into the weight room each morning, only to waste away two whole hours of reading about whether or not UCONN will make the Tourney.

For those of you who are sticklers for religious traditions (which I do love), I know that this post was entirely devoid of spiritual meaning and lacked depth… I know that it talked only of giving something up and not about what Lent means. That is a post that I will have to spend more time on though. So perhaps, if the computer at work is in working condition tomorrow, I will be more profound then. Peace.

Ground breaking discovery.

Sleeping without a pillow = less neck pain.

Bloomington, Indiana

SHOCKING NEWS!!!

Okay, so maybe not that shocking. Maybe not shocking at all for those of you who know me really well. Especially if you know me well enough for me to have explained this all with you before. Which in all honesty is probably most of you because 1) I talk a lot and when I am excited about something such as this, I tell everyone I see; and 2) because I don’t flatter myself to think that anyone actually reads this ole blog.

Anyway, you may or may not be surprised to know that after I graduate from Cornerstone I am planning on moving to Bloomington, Indiana, where I will be living with my dear friends Liz and Dave Millay. Yes, they are married, and no, its not that weird or awkward.

I’m pretty excited about the whole thing. Bloomington is a great town (hint hint, you should visit). There’s a great farmer’s market and a state park nearby. The Salvation Army has a weekly 25 cent rack that actually has some cute clothes on it, not to mention the MOST INCREDIBLE GOODWILL IN THE WORLD. There is a really amazing church there that I am super excited to get involved with. There are lots of single grad school guys with subtle southern drawls who will some day be wealthy doctors (just kidding about that one…maybe).  And I suppose that living with two incredible people is a perk as well.

Anyway… the plan is to move down there this summer (hopefully with a job as a camp counselor!) and search for a social work job. Then, maybe after I have taken a chunk out of my private-school-why-did-i-ever-go-here-its-so-ridiculously-expensive debt, I am interested in going to school for high school social studies education.

That’s right, education. “Wasn’t that what you went to college for in the first place?” you ask. Why yes, yes it was. I did in fact go to school for education, and decide after a few months that I wanted to be a social worker. And then I switched my major to inter-cultural studies. And then back to social work. And now back to education. I have come full circle my friends. Four years later, I find that my destination is back where I began.

Throughout the past year, after I recognized that I wanted to teach but was still trying to avoid the inevitable return to secondary education, I would brainstorm ways that I could teach as a social worker. I thought of many. But in all honesty, I don’t want to be a teaching social worker, I want to be a teacher.

So here it is… my soon to be home…

Something Special and Nothing Special

Today was one of the very rare days that I decide to journal. I have a hard enough time blogging regularly, and my computer is always near me, so you can imagine how few journal entries I have. This used to bother me quite a bit, but the last time I got a new journal (its a WONDERFUL journal that my dear friend Elizabeth found on Etsy) I decided to turn over a new leaf. I decided that I would journal when I journal, and I would take notes and make mind maps when I have to make decisions, and I would draw pictures and write down those never ending lists of books to read and projects to finish. And I would do this all in the journal.

I often put the same pressure on journaling that I do on blogging. It has to be simultaneously witty and revolutionary, or at worst, it has to at least be good enough that it is more powerful than the types of quotes you find on the seniors page of a high school yearbook. I am fairly certain that my high school yearbook was peppered with “git er done” and lyrics to overplayed songs, so this shouldn’t be too hard, right?

Anyway, there are days, many days, when I am just not that glamorous. These days occur on about an average of 365 days a year. This is not to say that I never have thoughts that are deep, because I like to think that I have many of those. Sometimes I am even able to translate these deep thoughts into words enough to have deep conversations. I even have my funny moments. These moments and conversations and thoughts just rarely get written down.

So you can imagine my surprise when I open my journal and see that about 6 months ago, I did write something that was worthy of journaling.

When I finally mustered up the energy to get up off the couch and go get my journal, I opened it and saw this written inside:

“Am I doing this for the healing of the kids, or for my own healing and vindication?”

I was processing through what I wanted to do with my life. This is another topic, similar to blogging and journaling, where I need to learn to be content with less than perfection. I often end up coming to a conclusion because I need to decide, not because it is the right decision. Last August, when I was writing this entry that I am now looking at, I decided to not decide.

I was doubting if I should do Social Work. I was seriously doubting if I should. I was right to doubt. And I was right to not act on that doubt… not at the time at least.

Now I am ready to answer this question. I was doing it for myself. Me being a social worker for the long term is not in the best interest of the kids who I wanted to work with… and in truth, it is not in the best interest of me or anyone else around me either.

The details of this are coming tomorrow.

Today the journal entry was not anything deep, nothing like August. Just a boring old list of things that I need to do eventually to make myself a better person. You know, things like “pray more,” “floss your teeth more,” and “eat less bread.”

Anyway, I was feeling quite victorious, both for knowing that at one point, I wrote something special, and for being able to accept that I can write even when it is nothing special, and so I thought I would share.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m kinda a nerd…

I just spent FOREVER on this website. It’s so cool. I can’t wait to use it in my classroom someday!! And I wish I had found it sooner to use in some of my college classes.

http://map.measureofamerica.org/maps.aspx

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