Thursday, October 27, 2011

This Week's Column

Lessons from George McFly
A teen forces himself out of bed on Monday morning. A new week at school has begun. He gets dressed and puts on the new jacket his mom bought him over the weekend. She knew something was wrong but he wouldn’t talk about it.

He looks in the mirror, a slight smile on his face hoping today would be better. He grabs his bag and talks himself into stepping out the door.

He walks into school, a small bit of confidence from his new clothes, hoping they won’t noticed it’s the cheaper knock-off version of a popular style. But soon, his spirit is crushes. There they are. Why does their locker have to be near his?

His heart pounds as he walks to his locker and it begins. Before they even open their mouths, he sees a note on his locker. The bullying has begun again and he wonders, “When will this end?”

According to a website devoted to statistics on bullying, 71 percent of students reported in 2010 that bullying was an ongoing problem. The top grades for bullying are fourth and eighth grades and 282,000 students reportedly are attacked in high schools in the United States each month.

Bottom line, this is a problem.

Most of us who are children of the 1980s remember “Back to the Future.” Marty’s dad was bullied by Biff and it created a life of low self-esteem and lack of motivation to be more because he was convinced he couldn’t. When Marty changed the past and his dad stood up to the person he feared, his entire future changed.

When bullying wasn’t a part of his life, he had a new confidence and felt like he could accomplish anything.

While a fictional account, it paints a picture of what many kids who are bullied go through. Bullying creates a pattern of self-doubt, depression and worthlessness that continues throughout their lives, often making them targets of bullying in the workplace or in personal relationships when they get older.

Some might say teens are overreacting, but in case you haven’t noticed, a teenage brain hasn’t always developed coping skills and their first reaction is usually an emotional one. Because of this complex make up of their brains, even the smallest amount of bullying can send them over the edge.

Bullying through words hurts enough, but sometimes bullying goes further, to physical attacks or abuse. It is often an ignored subject or something a child will hide because it hurts their pride or they are afraid the bullying will intensify.

One of the biggest problems is that often bullies thinks they are “cool” for hurting others. They get a rush or puffed up ego from being able to cause someone to fear them. And even worse, they gain followers.

I might not know many things, but one thing I know for sure is bullying is not cool. It’s not even close. Getting joy from the pain of others is nothing to brag about. It’s selfish, cruel and just plain dumb.

What’s cool is the kid who stands up for those being bullied. The person who says enough is enough. If there were more people like that in schools and in the world in general, maybe the statistics would change.

My biggest question is, who will you be?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This Week's Column

Pinterest: An obsessive new distraction

My mind is fluttering in about 50 different directions. I have so many ideas, but I can’t seem to focus on any of them.

I blame my newest social networking obsession for this. Yes, I’m often on Facebook, I tweet and watch funny videos on YouTube but lately, thanks to a friend, I discovered Pinterest.

Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board for sharing ideas and website links to them. You get to create multiple board topics and “pin” the links and photos of the things you find on those boards. It’s the sophisticated, organized cousin of bookmarking.

Why does this contribute to my lack of focus? Because of the amazing randomness of the ideas and topics to look at while perusing the site.

While this column is not intended to be an endorsement for the site, I feel like I need to explain my obsession.

For example, on the board I titled “Yum” I have virtually “pinned” recipes for delicious looking lasagna cups, cheddar bacon ranch pull-apart bread, mini mac and cheese pies and a fresh tomato mozzarella tart with basil garlic crust. Can you see why the board is called Yum? And then there are dessert ideas — Mini German chocolate cakes, cinnamon rolls on a stick with dipping sauce, and chocolate chip cookie and Oreo brownies, just to name a few.

Most of the time I have no idea who these recipes came from but when I click on them they link me to a website that explains how to make these delectable treats.

And then there are the craft ideas. Christmas decorations, instructions on how to make a gift bag out of newspapers and layered dessert plates made out of dollar store stove burner covers are a few things I’ve discovered.

I’ve also learned how to make a pet bed out of an old suitcase and a kid’s kitchen set out of an old pressed wood desk.

Are you getting the picture? Along with all the things I find and pin, I can see what all my friends are discovering and pinning as well.

The problem I run into is that the site not only has cute ideas for things to make but also offers ideas for my home, kitchen and wardrobe. I want to try them all. This is probably why I haven’t made a single craft or recipe from the site yet.

I’m sure the newness that has me pulled in so many directions will wear off soon, I’ll get focused and I’ll actually attempt to create some of the things found on the site.

But for now, my brain is jumping. Cookies, design ideas, Christmas crafts. Oh, the possibilities.