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This should actually be number one on the “Whiling Away Wintery Days” list.

Want to feel better while waiting for the beach days to arrive?

This is the simplest thing. Won’t cost you a penny.

Do something for others.

It doesn’t have to be a big thing.

Sounds so easy. Almost causing folks to wonder, “What’s the catch?”

No catch.

But you do have to make an effort.

Mail a cheerful letter to a friend. Visit someone who could use company. Volunteer your time. Tell someone how much you appreciate them.

Take a moment to think about how you can spread some joy. And then actually do it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Here is number nine on the “Is it April yet?” list.

Find something to serve as a cheerful reminder that sunny days are just around the corner.

I have a few items scattered around my house for this very reason. I really love these guys.

herbspoons.jpg

They were a gift so I can’t take any credit for finding them. My daughter, Norah, bought them for my birthday last October.

I love everything about them.

Recycled/renewed. Unique. Useful.

I’m  even happy that I received them after the herb season ended.

Because that gives me just one more thing to look forward to this Spring.

They are displayed on a trunk right by the back door. Ready and waiting!

Find a cheerful reminder. Sunny days are just around the corner.

 

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I heard a terrible story that happened years ago in my home state. A horrible warning for all those who eat while driving. Or would consider eating while driving.

A woman was eating an ice cream cone while driving. The scoop of ice cream fell down on her chest. She looked down. Like anyone would who spills something on themself.

That distraction caused a car accident that left the woman paralyzed for the rest of her life.

Be careful, everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

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I was a young girl. Not a toddler and not yet a teen. Maybe nine or ten years old. Old enough to be out and about with friends. We were always playing outside. No one wanted to be in the house.

On this particular day, I was with a pal named Paula and her sister Kerri. Hanging on the swings at the local park. I suppose it was where everyone in our neighborhood eventually spent some time. There was also a football stadium, tennis courts and basketball court. So in good weather there was always activity. The wind was always blowing around the distant voices of kids you knew.  It was a middle class neighborhood. Usually not a lot of extra coin but not poor. Everyone pretty much felt safe. We all knew each other.

It eventually became time to leave the park. The girls and I were about to cross the parking lot to head home. A car slowly rolls up in the corner of the big parking lot. One male occupant in a Dodge Dart. Don’t ask me the color. It was probably forty-four years ago.

I do, however, remember what color he was. He was white and looked like the mustached and afroed Gabe Kaplan, who starred as Mr. Kotter on “Welcome back, Kotter.” A U.S. television program from the 1970s.

This man starts talking to us and asking us questions. Then the guy pulls out this thing. No, not that thing!

It was a hand grip strengthener. Back then I wouldn’t have known what to call it. This is an exercise tool that one uses to strengthen their grip. You can search google images to see what it looks like.

Continued to ask us questions -like an important survey. I do not remember any of that long ago conversation but the one thing I can still recall is he wanted each of us girls to try the hand gripper. And we did. No harm in that, right? We weren’t afraid. Just a trio of friendly and super helpful kids.

Anyhow, we continue on our way back home. I say goodbye to the girls and then I head toward my house one block away from theirs. Never thinking about anything except it was a very nice time at the park with my friends.

Well, one of the girls mentioned the guy in the car to their mom. Warning signals must have gone off in her head (as they should have in any adult’s head) so she called my mom and the police. We soon got a visit from the police asking me numerous questions about this guy. A description of him and his vehicle.

That was that.

Looking back, I don’t know what this man’s intentions were and one could almost shudder with the thought. After the police interviewed us we came to realize that it was wrong in some way. But we didn’t even know how or why.

We knew he was a stranger. He wasn’t from our neighborhood and yet we still talked to this nice adult. As innocent children might. Even with all the warnings we received about bad guys and strangers.

I guess that was the introduction to our vulnerability. We didn’t even know it.

“You need to be careful.”

 

 

 

 

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I read an article that was just terrible. I know. I know. So many articles out there are terrible.

This one was about a young lad who was in a Welsh medical school.

Seems he had a fling with a young woman. Also a student. That has been known to happen. So far. So normal.

He then chose to share this information with his rugby buddies in a private on-line group.

That’s where it started to go bad.

His “pals” decided to share his postings with hundreds of others on social media. And the young lady became aware.

Who knows how she reacted.

The fellow then becomes worried that his words could even cause expulsion from the school.

He hanged himself.

I don’t know all the details. The newspaper gives you bits and pieces.

But this is how I imagine it all.

Girl is absolutely mortified. The sheer embarrassment of it all.

Boy is now mortified that this information was shared. Maybe feels shame and guilt once he knows the girl is aware of what he shared.

Feels hopeless. Can’t imagine that this will ever fade. Starts to think that even his future is doomed if the school expels him.

This could have played out in a few different ways.

The young woman might have been the one unable to handle the situation.

Or there could have been apologies on behalf of the boy. Maybe a suspension.

Life could go on. Human beings make mistakes all the time.

But there is no going back in this particular case.

Just devastated people left behind. Grieving parents.

So many lessons to be learned.

We need to be kind. Especially on social media.

We need to be better at using social media responsibly. Think about the consequences of our words and actions.

It wouldn’t ever hurt to use that quote we have all heard. Before speaking (or writing) ask yourself these three questions. Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?

There is a “gofundme” page as a result of this death and it states that the money will be used for projects and forums aimed to avoid a reoccurrence of a similar tragedy.

I certainly hope that those projects and forums will be successful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have a chat group with my brothers. So we are always texting each other and keeping in touch. Sharing photos. Even if I am in India.

Hate it when they veer off into statistics of a sport on the chat group.  But that’s life.

We are special.

No, mentally, we are sort of okay. At the moment.

We are special because we can get same reactions via text that we would get in person.

Had interactions tonight.

One brother says, “I have guests and they probably think I’m nuts.”

Because he was laughing so loud. He said his stomach hurt.

The other brother said his family heard him and wondered if he was okay.

That’s always how it’s been with us. We feed off each other. Until we can’t breathe.

Everyone in the family just lets us be. Because they know. The ones that marry into the family are keepers because they get it. And love it.

I just want to say I’m incredibly grateful for my brothers.

 

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Many times we read an obituary and we wonder about the cause of death. Sometimes the family will request donations to a particular organization. In lieu of flowers. That helps one suss out the cause of death. Well, not always. My father did not die because of food even though we requested donations to the Rhode Island Food Bank. Laugh out loud.

Other times it is just spelled right out for you. There was a recent obituary here in New England. There was absolutely no guessing about why this young fifteen year old died.

His family wrote an obituary that was just heart breaking.

Connor Francis Tronerud, 15, took his own life on Monday, December 4th, after struggling with bullying from peers. 

That was the beginning of an obituary for a child who was loved. This was an obituary that never should have been written. Never.

At home, Connor could most commonly be found “chillaxing” in his room with his iPad, Nintendo, and peanut butter cookies. He enjoyed going on hikes with his father; he looked to his mother for support as a confidant. He didn’t hesitate to ask his brother to borrow his credit card for online shopping. 

There is more, of course. Hard to sum up a person’s life in an obituary. So most folks usually stick to the facts rather than descriptions of personality and accomplishments.

He was an altar boy, had the highest GPA ever earned at his school and was a member of the National Junior Honor Society.

See Connor’s full obituary here.

This obituary captured the essence of Connor. For us. His family was sharing him with us. So we know that he was loved. That he was smart. That he was involved.

That this could happen to anyone. That bullying is real.

It’s not new. Behaviors are never really new. Ask a psychiatrist or a priest and they will tell you that they’ve heard it all. Nothing about human behavior is new.

But social media has opened the floodgates. And made it worse. Because there is no safe place. In order to recover or get assistance.

I read one comment from a man named Matt on the family’s fundraising page.

This saddens and frustrates me. I really don’t get the benefit of social media for teenagers. Most adults can’t even handle it responsibly. Kids like this, who probably already get picked on all day long during school hours, get sucked in to getting slammed on social media instead of discovering who and what in life motivates and fulfills them. No sure what the answer is.

I’m with that guy. I do not know the answer. But Connor’s family is raising money to fund bullying prevention. I sincerely hope that their efforts will assist young people and prevent another death. Maybe find an answer.

I honestly cannot imagine the family’s pain. Cannot. A nightmare of the worst kind.

This is their intro on the fund raising page.

Connor was a dynamic, witty, unforgettable young man. He was also an intensely private person. As he transitioned into adolescence, he struggled with peers invading that privacy in order to provoke a response . He had many spaces in which he felt safe and nurtured; others – including social media – proved overwhelming and harmful.   

No child should suffer marginalization; at the same time, the complexities of a “connected” world and its pathways to poor decisions can be difficult for adults and teens to navigate. As a result, the Tronerud family is committed to directing memorial resources towards funding for bullying prevention and self-harm awareness education in their area. The more we can equip peers, coaches, teachers, mentors, and friends to bolster those who are isolated, the more lives can be saved, and the sooner healing can begin. 

Thank you for offering your support to this worthy cause.

I wish you and your families a safe and secure place. Always continue to encourage kindness, compassion and caring in our children.

 

 

 

 

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