challenges, mental health

A Tragedy

It was spooky season. Fall in the air. Football on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s fall y’all. In the south fall is intertwined with football, cheerleading and tailgates. Fall is fun with friends this time of year. Sometimes too much fun. Sometimes the fun clouds our judgement.

This spooky season tragedy hit too close to home. A beautiful girl. A kind spirit. A smile to light up the room. A friend to many. A good one gone too soon. A community left distraught. So much lost in an instant. One who will never make it to graduation. Such a loss for her family and friends.

One decision ended in tragedy. One momentary lapse in judgment. We all have them but many don’t understand that choices can have devastating consequences. This hits less than a year after another young life was lost in the same community. Different circumstances yet same outcome. A young life was lost. Just barely 16.

Some of the same kids are dealing with grief again. The same school system shocked. The same counselors rallying to support the young lives dealing with the chaos. Social media memory reals. So much to process. All the while life is expected to go on uninterrupted for many. Sadness lurks. Loss is ever so present. Death is not kind.

As you read this post, think of those you love. Cherish the moments. The memories. Take the pictures. Save the voicemails. Record the giggles. Don’t wait. Tomorrow may be too late. Also be aware of how loss lurks and impacts those around you. Check in on others often. Do your part. Ask questions. Be ready to listen and share in the burden of pain.

Make time for others. Choose empathy over sympathy. Be present with those who need support. Remind young lives of the importance of safety in and around vehicles. Seatbelt priorities. Number of kids in one vehicle. Driver experience. The list goes on and on.

Be cautious around holidays when many celebrations take place. Being alert on the roadways can be a life saver. Parents make sure your kids have lifelines to reach out to in case of an emergency. Consider location tracking even if your teen feels it’s a violation of their privacy. Keep communications open.

High school.

College.

Young adulthood.

It’s all the same for parents. A parent will always worry. It’s because just one tragedy could be their life sentence without their loved one. One day at a time is all we really have. Live your life to the fullest. Every day.

Pray for the community, family and friends of this young girl. Now and in the future. Sadness is hovering on my home front. It tears me up but only time can help feelings settle. A new normal. All I can do is support and help process the loss. Not an easy task with a teen.

challenges, change

Oh My Aches

Well 50 has been glorious thus far. So many aches creep up after the big 5-0. Today, I thought I would jot a few down.

The tennis ache: I have a love hate relationship with this kind of ache. I love tennis. I hate the ache in my forearm from overuse. A year ago the ache seemed insignificant. Could the big 5-0 really cause aches?

The CrossFit ache: this ache comes and goes depending on the programming of movements and/or the frequency of my attendance on a regular basis. The ache however is the same. It’s a graduating ache. You must move to keep the tightness from settling in any one place, especially the buttocks. Nobody likes a tight ass. Consistency helps with this ache but age does enlighten you when evaluating aches.

The knee ache: this one is ever so annoying. I can walk. I can bend. I can ride a bike. However, if I sit in a plane seat or a car seat for any length of time my knee is locked. The unlocking part leaves a lingering pain deep inside. Could this be old age? I have no idea what a bad knee feels like but now that I’m fifty I think about it.

Although there are physical aches, there are also emotional and social aches. The social aches come and go with time conflicts and scheduling for adults. Those who want to spend time together but then schedules and life gets in the way. The emotional aches can swing from one side to the other.

One side of the emotional ache could be with growth. Watching your child or young adult grow or not grow. The other side could be emotional aches resulting from the loss of loved ones near and far. Add that 5-0 menopausal self and you might get a an emotional wreck, front and center.

Environmental aches sneak up on you too. The annoying neighbor. The boss who is a pain. The co-worker who slacks causing you extra work.  The weather might even throw you off or makes your aches worse if it’s cold or rainy. One seems easily shaken or disturbed as into that crotchety self over fifty.

I never used to notice aches and pains as much as I have this year. Menopause. Aging. Life. It all hits at once. Or so it seems to me. My forty-five year old self was so much more indestructible. My forty-seven year old self was so adventurous. My fifty and challenged self is changing daily. Likes. Dislikes. Wants. Don’t wants. Needs. No’s. Do’s. Dont’s. I can’t even name them all because change is on the horizon, daily. I also think snoring magnifies over 50.

As I write today, I think of how much I enjoy the still of my day today. The fall air. The cool breeze. The comfy sweatpants. As day shifts to night, I will enjoy something different. The outdoors. The giggles. The challenges. The competition. I hit the field tonight with my new team. I will enjoy some fall memories with this group that will surely keep me on my toes and easily make me forget my aches of the ages.

For now I focus on moving as much as I can and as often as I can. I try to stretch my mind to try new things to counter balance my aging. I often remember to giggle. I also disregard those around me who attempt to suck the life out of me. This is a necessary step to keep the other aches at bay.

Nobody wants to add heartache or worse on top of the other aches I listed above. Well not me anyway. Time to throw my frisbees to my dogs and breathe fresh air.

anonymous letters, awareness

Crazy Train

Whoot! Whoot!

The crazy train has arrived. 

This special little train has arrived in your community. Who is on the train? Who is talking about this? Who isn’t talking about it?

Is this scenario real or is it fake news? This story simulates a real life drama you see on television but you are starring in the grand show. What on earth am I about to share with you? I am talking about a helicopter parent dropping her bat shit craziness literally on your door step. Yes this happens more than people want to admit. I don’t have any idea why either nor do I want to speculate.

My story is based on events this week in a suburb of a major metropolitan city. A mom literally lost her marbles and went rogue when her child didn’t win a coveted county athletic award. I kid you not, she lost her ability to see how silly her actions were and how her negative behavior could scar those connected to her, including her child. 

I was in shock. I was awe struck. My mouth might have been left wide open at one point. A helicopter parent actually created a fictitious award for her high school athlete who did NOT earn her own award. That’s right folks. A parent created a phony award. The woman went to the highest extent to recognize and celebrate her child in the most bizarre fashion. Colored graphics, high resolution photos, prior coach recommendations, prior teammate validation from across town, fancy words describing her athletic prowess, good sportsmanship, and so on. So much effort was put into this award that wasn’t earned. The award was a parental masterpiece in their mind. A mere joke to others. Of course I can’t post the actual award as it would be insensitive to the child.

The helicopter mom even went as far as posting online on the day peers received awards at an actual banquet where athletes received their own merit award as voted upon by other area coaches. The helicopter parent posted this self-proclaimed award on social media for the community to see. For the entire community to see her overshadow those who actually won an award fair and square. And if that wasn’t enough she blamed the coach for overlooking her child publicly. The helicopter parent didn’t care who’s reputation she tarnished.

This was funny since it’s other coaches who vote, not the actual coach of the home team the kid plays on. Can anyone say meddling helicopter parent? Have you ever encountered this kind of crazy train in your local community? I wish I could go back to my childhood and see if such behavior ever existed around me. I don’t recall.

In the good old days, I played sports for fun. I spent many hours a day outside playing. I spent my summers at the park learning fundamentals in many sports as part of the youth recreation program. We had pick up games. We won and lost but nobody ever complained. Never once would a parent pick a fight with a kid or cause a ruckus over child’s play. It simply wasn’t important.

High school athletics is more competitive. It was then and it is now. Parents were proud back in the day but they didn’t fight their kids’ battles. College athletics is the same as well. It’s the athletes that put in work not the birth givers. Therefore it’s the athletes that earn their spot on the field or their play time and of course their award. It’s their name on the plaque not the birth givers. No parent should have the ability to influence their child’s place on a team in a competitive sport when one reaches high school. It’s absurd. It’s not fair. It doesn’t teach the athlete to compete. It teaches them how to complain to win. It’s bullying.

Let’s dial back to mental health for a moment. What benefit can a parent receive from their child receiving a coveted award that is not earned? Does it fulfill a void from their childhood? Does it win loyal friendships for their child? Does it gain confidence among coaches and peer athletes? I seriously doubt it. 

What I don’t doubt is that it will create a backlash. A derailed train. The child becomes at risk. Said child can be made fun of. Said child can become depressed and withdrawn. Said child can be angry and retaliate as they learned such a skill from their parent, all of which leads to challenges that may not be able to be reversed. This could also create scars that are not physically visible. This could lead the child to suffer in silence. Was the mock award worth it? I doubt it.

As a parent we need to just do better. Kids today are already under pressure due to today’s social norms. These kids don’t need parents adding strain to their already stressful life that is pretty much available 24/7/365 online.

Twitter, Instagram, facebook, group chats, instant messengers, etc are all outlets young adults use to share information. If you don’t want your story on the front page of the news, don’t post it online. It’s that simple.

I know when I post on this blog site not everyone will like what I post. It is okay. There may be some that benefit from my rants. I unfortunately can’t share the outcome of this crazy train as it makes frequent stops in the general community I may or may not call home or homebase. One day it may be your house. Another day it may be a friend’s house. Next week it’s the newbie’s house. Sooner or later the crazy train runs out of stops.

At that point the train parks itself or fixates itself on one poor soul. The train is set for the long haul. Behaviors escalate and those around get scared. What’s next.  A shooting? A fist fight? A shift to private school from public? I don’t have the answers.

What I can say is hard work pays off. Those who fail should work hard to get noticed the next time around. They should ask a coach what should they do in the off season to see success in the future. Display resilience. Be eager to show one’s worth. Don’t run to a birth giver and ask for recognition. An athlete has to be mentally and physically tough. They need to have the ability to push through the hard stuff. Sometimes the hard stuff comes daily.

If one was in the NFL and made a mistake there is a consequence. You get fired, fined or relocated. Your birth giver wouldn’t be able to fight your battles. I could write a whole book on the subject of parents and entitlements. Kids today need to learn to problem solve on their own.

A teacher isn’t going to change the kid’s report card if they fail their class. That’s unheard of. The same principal should apply for awards. If you fail in a season a coach can’t be expected to give an award for less than stellar performance. 

Helicopter parents need to get a hobby. Take up knitting. Buy a coloring book. Find a way to entertain yourself that doesn’t involve living in your kids shoes. It will never work out well for you or your kid. PSA #404.

I would also refer back to “Lessons” post from back in May. It’s one worth rereading a couple times a year.

challenges

The Murder Next Door

It was a sunny Thursday afternoon. I had dinner with some friends to talk about our daughters’ upcoming graduation party. I made it home about 6:10 pm…not bad, I thought. Not bad, until I crested the hill and saw the long line of blue lights leading up to my neighborhood. They weren’t letting people turn in. Had there been an accident? I inched up to the front of the line of cars waiting to turn in. I rolled down my window, telling the policeman directing traffic that I lived in this neighborhood. Can I turn in?

No, he said, with almost a little laugh. This is an active crime scene. There’s been a shooting. Keep moving.

I’m sure my jaw hung open as I slowly rolled forward, past my seemingly quiet suburban neighborhood. I spied the yellow crime scene tape stretched across the road. What do I do now? Where do I go?

I called home to see if anyone was there. They were, and had no idea what was going on. They went outside to see a cop car right in front of our house. Someone was in the back seat.

I ended up parking down the road at a brand new parking lot for a park. Other neighbors were already gathered there, waiting. We saw a helicopter circling.

Details came from all directions. Fragments of a story trickling in. Neighbors who were in the subdivision called with reports of what they saw. One crime scene turned into two. Texted photos of a young man’s body laying in a yard, being cradled by a woman, screaming.

Then the second crime scene developed…astonishingly, the house next door. The older couple. The ones out playing Motown on the weekends as they tended to their lawn and their grandchildren. Grandkids playing basketball in the driveway, waves from their car as it pulled in.

He shot her. Killed his wife. In the basement.

IN. THE. HOUSE. NEXT. DOOR.

And then, he killed his son-in-law, presumably when they came over to the house and found her. They tried to get away, but he killed him at the end of the street.

My jaw still hangs open when I stop to think about it.

(Did I mention this was in the house next door?)

I will never understand…. why? She was friendly and kind. Frankly, the killer was too. I didn’t know the son in law. Rumor has it he was mentally impaired. The man who murdered him could sometimes be seen walking the young man up and down the street for exercise. And now, one of those men is dead. The other sits in jail. I will never understand.

The neighborhood stayed roped off most of the night. Once the helicopter had gone and people were roaming freely in the neighborhood (except for getting in or out), I decided to take a path home through the woods. It was an eerie feeling that night. Like you were living next to a stranger. Who could do such a thing? Fresh eyes of a sort. Cast with sadness.

Since then, the house next door sits empty. The children of the dead woman and murderer come over to clean it out. I cannot imagine their sorrowful work. The heaviness. The heartbreak.

What will happen to the house next door? I would assume someone will move in, eventually. For now, it is just dark and quiet.

And for now, I just feel sadness. For the lives lost. For the family that lost a mother, a grandmother, a father, a son, a friend. None of it could ever possibly make sense.

I walked by the mailbox today. It hung open. So many letters and catalogs piled up. A hanging basket the family moved off the screen porch laid on its side in the front yard. Life goes on and things pile up, topple over, are left undone but left nonetheless.

You never know what is happening behind closed doors. What someone might be capable of. Even the neighbors you wave at, smile at, could be hiding something dark and sinister. Is the message to be kind? Is the message to be wary? Yes and yes.

author moments

Lessons

In life we are given lessons to learn time and time again. Sometimes we may see them. Sometimes we can’t see them even if they smack us in the face, repeatedly.

Today I learned many lessons, but a few are below to share:

  1. Trust your gut and never waver.
  2. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.
  3. Don’t stoop to the lower level of somebody around you. It never ends well.
  4. Show up for your friends when they need you the most.
  5. Don’t fear those who stand in your way.

This list is not all-inclusive but it’s what comes to mind as I sit down to recap the chaos of the day. Most of which I didn’t create but all of which circled around me in many ways.

To any adult that needs to use a child as a pawn, I pray for you.

To any teen that thinks bullying another is okay, I hope one day you feel what that feels like. Karma is a bitch.

For those who think mental health is a joke, think again.

Many will win a day, a game, or a trophy. Those things are just moments in time to celebrate. When you win at life you make others feel good time and time again. One does this through kindness, positive actions and without a malicious mindset. Others before self is a lesson I wished many practiced more often.

Sometimes putting others before you is hard. Sometimes it’s not hard at all. The thing is, if you never practice others before self you will not recognize the opportunity as often. Practice giving to others first. We all can benefit from building muscle memory in this arena.

Learn the lessons in life. Maybe something in this post with spark an interest in you to do more for others. Maybe it’s volunteering. Maybe it’s spending time with others. Maybe it’s offering a listening ear. Maybe it’s practicing forgiveness.

Today I forget the troubles of today. I forget those who were ignorant around me. I forget how mad I was at the time. I move on. I move the fuck on because the negativity is not worth even one grey hair on my head. 

This post is dedicated to my pal Brooklyn aka Brooklyn the bitch. The gal that says her inner Brooklyn is about to come out as she grabs the vaseline and takes off her earrings. Which translates to a street fight is about to go down. Best damn statement I’ve heard this year. Truth bombs from the girl from the city.

What lesson did you learn today?