This One’s For You, Kids: Bullying Stinks

Hi, Parents. I know that your children do not read articles without a nudge, so I know you will get this first. I’m a bit of a Pollyanna sometimes; therefore, I believe that you will share this with your child and that they will read it. Hope springs eternal! I’m going to touch on a worn-out, but never outdated, subject: bullying. I’m a huge advocate for good mental health, and we all know what being bullied does to a person, so bear with me as I challenge and/or support your child.

Hi, Kids. Oh, I know. You hear about this all the time. It gets so old. But you know what? It can’t get too old. Ever. The dictionary says that when you bully, you “seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce” someone who appears to be vulnerable. Victims of bullies may be smaller, shyer, weaker, younger, or different than other people.

You can’t change these traits if you have them. You are who you are. But that doesn’t mean you can’t adjust some a little. For instance, if you don’t think too highly of yourself for some reason, either because of constant criticism from people or your own perceptions of yourself, find some ways to get that self-esteem up. We all have at least one talent where we can say: “Hey, I’m pretty good at this!” Find it, or them, and be proud!

Don’t listen to all that stuff about being able to be anything you want to in life if you just try. They’re lies. (Sorry parents. It’s the truth.) You can be anything that you want to be in life within your own capabilities. Everyone has an IQ and genetic traits that make them good at some things and not so good at others.  I guess I’m sort of smart, but I couldn’t be a brain surgeon, even if I wanted to. I couldn’t pass it. We aren’t all the same. By thinking you can be anything you want if you just try hard enough, you are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. If you know in your heart that you are doing the very best that you can, then that’s who you are. You don’t have to be the best, just be the best you.

Try to hang around other people when you can. Loners are easy targets. This might require you to go out of your comfort zone if you are feeling a little socially awkward, at least if you happen to be in bully territory at that moment. Welcome to the club. We have all been there. If you can tolerate that without even more anxiety, it might help. If you can’t avoid it, walk away. Take yourself out of the situation as soon as possible.

If you are being bullied, tell someone. Parents, adult relatives, school counselors, spiritual leaders, any trusted adult. There is help. You do not need to, and should not, go this alone.

If you ARE the bully, knock it off. I have the same advice for you as I gave to the victims of bullies. Work on your self-esteem. Why do you bully? Does it make you feel better than everyone? Are you trying to divert attention from your own weaknesses by shining the light on others? Do you even know that what you are doing is being a bully? Are you being bullied, yourself, by someone older or stronger than you, and this is your way of showing your anger because someone is hurting you? Adults aren’t perfect, either. Tell someone.

Bullying is hurtful, damaging, and just plain wrong, at any age. Parents, your kids have homework. Please share this with them.

We Must Stay “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”

OK, just to get this straight. I am not a “hater”, to which conservatives are often referred, and I am not a “far-right winger”. I carry more of a purple aura. If there was a Purple Party, that’s where I would be, but regardless of political leanings, I am very distressed with the negative attitudes being rabidly and relentlessly expressed in this country. Questionable human being that Donald Trump is, he is the leader of a country that is showing considerable growth. “The United States economy is expected to continue growing steadily over the next few years, outpacing many other Western Countries”, reports the Financial Times. The Dow has risen steadily from 2016 until now, reaching an almost 35% increase, exceeding its performance under Barack Obama. The unemployment rate has gone from 5.7% in 2015 to 3.8% in May 2019 and 3.7% in July 2019. The 2018 African American unemployment rate was the lowest it has been since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track. The value of the dollar has increased and inflation has remained steady. These are facts, folks, not fake news.

Now that we have established that Donald Trump has been good for this country’s economy, (Yes, yes, we have.) lets look at objections. It seems that the economy and the survival of our country is not as important to people as their social agendas. I don’t get that, but it’s true, and it is evident in how hard people are trying to get Trump out of office. What is more important, friends, social issues or the survival of America? We can’t have it all. I’m not saying that social issues are not important, but they must fall behind the importance of our country’s financial health. Otherwise, there won’t be any money for those things, either, in time. If our government would fulfill all of the requests of special interest groups, or open up our borders indiscriminately, where in the world would we get the money? Borrow more? Tax us, the citizens, up to the hilt? Those would be temporary, terrible solutions to an ongoing issue.

Do you have a budget at home, or do you just run up your charges to buy anything you want without a thought to your future? Do you take care of the most important bills first, then ration out the left over money for less important things so you don’t go bankrupt through unchecked spending? It’s the same thing with the government. Where will we get the money to do all these things that everyone wants? Oh, I know, big business. This is one area where I turn purple. I do feel that big businesses should compromise on their exorbitant salaries, but if you want the government to control that, then we’re talking socialism, or even worse, communism. (Oops. That’s another issue.) In fact, many of those high-powered CEOs raking it in are liberal-leaning. There’s kind of a dichotomy, there. Our country is a Capitalist nation, and it is the strongest in the world. There is a correlation.

Who do you think provides all these jobs? If big business suffers, so will employment. Businesses, especially small businesses, already are concerned about having to lay off people if the minimum wage is raised to $15 an hour. Is that right? No. Is it a reality, yes, and where will we be if big business is stifled? A higher unemployment rate leading to more poverty and requests for financial aid. More crime, more mental health issues, and so on. Social issues are not black and white, there is a lot of gray in there.

For those people who don’t want a wall, I have some questions. Do you lock your house doors at night or your car doors at any time? Why? To protect yourself and your belongings from harm? Hmmm…..If someone broke into your house and starting stealing your hard-earned belongings and/or raped your daughter, would you call the police? Why? Because they are your belongings, it is illegal to steal, and you love your daughter with all your might? Hmmm…….. Do you drive through dangerous neighborhoods at night and roll your window down to talk to the people hanging out at the corner? Why? Because you don’t know them, and if you don’t know them, you can’t trust them? Hmmm…. Which do you prefer, a person who asks nicely for something or someone who just comes in and takes it without asking? Think about it and be honest. Now, are you willing to help people who try to help themselves by going through the proper channels to get the help they need? Of course. I hope we all would. America is your home. Its money is your money. Its safety is your safety. Treat it as such.

We have put four children through college on our own. I know how much we paid, and are still working to pay in our retirement, to prepare our children for life. We have smart and talented children, but they were not on the scholarship level and we were not on the assistance level, so where did that leave us? Paying it all ourselves. And yet, our government wants to give free education to undocumented “residents”, and who will pay for that? Us, while, or after, we have taken care of our own children.

Please don’t misinterpret what I am saying. I feel for these kids who were ripped away from the only home they ever knew to go to a place that may be better, but where they must hide who they really are. That’s not fair to them and it’s not their fault. But it is not our fault, either. I am a need-based scholarship child, myself. I had the grades to get into nursing school but not the money, so I’m not talking out of my derriere. I understand, and I have no problem with helping others, but they must do it right and go through the hoops, for everyone’s sake. If their criminal records preclude them from being accepted into the United States, then we shouldn’t take them. They must be vetted. If we just open the floodgates, then we must be prepared to accept the fact that some are criminals fleeing prosecution in their own country, or may be from countries that mean to do ours harm, and now they are our problem.

I can honestly say that most of the Hispanic people that I have met have been respectful and hardworking. I have no problem with any ethnic group being here. I was raised in a steel town where people from all over the world came to work, live, and enrich our culture, and that they did, but they DID IT THE RIGHT WAY. I feel sorry for the people in the caravan. I understand they don’t want to live in a world run by drug lords. I wouldn’t, either, but they need to DO IT RIGHT and apply for citizenship. We have to protect our borders, regardless of what anyone thinks. We cannot let just anyone from anywhere come as they please. We will help foreign citizens do it right. It may take a while, but wouldn’t it be worth it for everyone? We either need to show strength and resolve as a country, or we will have to roll over and lay the rug over us to be trampled. Country before politics. America before anyone else. Don’t tread on us.

You Are The Branches

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

With everything going on here these days, I have not done any ‘Bloomin Thought for the Day posts. Here’s my first of the Spring-Summer Season but far from the first flowers that bloomed this year.

We all know that people who do not have the Lord in their hearts actually can do many things; it doesn’t mean they are bad people. But do they have “the peace of the Lord that surpasses all understanding?” (Phillipians 4:7) in their lives here on earth, and are they prepared to earn a seat at His table when they meet Him, spirit to Spirit, in Heaven? See how my honeysuckle vines wind up and over the trellis on their way to meeting the branches coming up the other side? In my plant, I look at God as the trellis, supporting each new bit of growth climbing up toward the top. When the storms come, He supports them. As they grow, some wander away from the trellis and grow wild, with nothing to cling to. That is when I have to lead them back and feed them through the wrought iron decorative framework until they find a place to hang on and continue growing towards their goal.

Each honeysuckle plant was carefully placed in the ground, one on either side, and they grow towards each other. Regardless of where they were planted, the trellis will support them and guide them until they meet each other halfway. Isn’t that what God wants to do? He doesn’t want fighting and bickering among His children, but a meeting of the branches that have grown in Him. He is the Vine. We are the branches.We must spread ourselves out with open arms to meet the other side. “God’s will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” (The Lord’s Prayer.)

Outskirts Press Self-Publishing Authors Impress EVVY Awards Judges—Here Are the 2019 Finalists — Self-Publishing News for Self Publishing Authors

I am so humbled to have my book, “The Town of Alpaca”, as a finalist in The CIPA EVVY Awards contest. Thank you, Outskirts Press for affording me this honor. I will be in Colorado on August 17th!

Outskirts Press self-publishing authors continually impress the judges at the annual CIPA EVVY Awards and this year is no different. In fact, our authors garnered 23 spots as finalists for the 2019 awards and we couldn’t be prouder! Now in its 25th year, the EVVY Awards, sponsored by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) and […]

Outskirts Press Self-Publishing Authors Impress EVVY Awards Judges—Here Are the 2019 Finalists — Self-Publishing News for Self Publishing Authors

I’ve Been Assaulted. What Do I Do Now?

Adapted from my article on

In three previous articles, Have I Been Raped or Not?, Tell Me Why? and Men Can Be Victims, Too, the topics of sexual assault and domestic violence were discussed. These crimes leave people physically and/or emotionally scarred and can change lives in an instant. Fear of retaliation or stigma, embarrassment, confusion, pain, and betrayal are just a few of the emotions associated with being violated. Feelings such as these can also contribute to not reporting attacks. 

If you have been assaulted, it is imperative that you seek medical care immediately, especially in cases of sexual assaults or where injuries need immediate medical attention. Medical personnel are bound by their profession to not disclose any information without the express consent of the patient, so be assured your privacy will be respected. It’s not uncommon for victims to be reluctant to press charges against attackers if they are known to the victim, so be aware that even if the police are notified, you do not have to press charges at that time. The evidence of the attack will be stored until, and if, such time occurs that you would like to proceed with charges. The exception to this rule is when a lethal weapon, such as a gun or knife, is used in the attack. This, by law, must be reported to law enforcement.

If you have been sexually assaulted, there are several things you should, and should not, do, prior to going to the hospital. DNA evidence is crucial to a case, and much can be destroyed after 48 hours. The best-case scenario would be for you to go immediately to an Emergency Room or call law officers to pick you up and take you there. First and foremost, however, is concern for your safety. Get to a safe place immediately where your attacker cannot harm you further. Call the police or have a trusted person take you to a hospital. In the meantime, and this is tough, do not use the bathroom, comb your hair, rinse your mouth with anything, brush your teeth, wash up, or shower. Keep your clothes on that you were wearing at the time of the attack. These are all very important to the preservation of DNA evidence. Have a friend or family member meet you at the hospital if you are alone.

The first thing they will do when you reach the hospital is to evaluate you for injuries or other urgent medical issues sustained as a result of the attack, preserving evidence as best as they can, but they will not let evidence collection interfere with giving you needed medical care. Once your medical stability has been established, the forensic exam will begin. Many hospitals have specially trained medical forensic examiners, such as SANES (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) to perform this evidence collection so the standards of care will be well-maintained. If you are a victim of physical assault only, they will obtain a detailed history of the incident and take pictures of any injuries. If you scratched your attacker, they may scrape underneath your fingernails for his or her skin. If your assailant spit on you, they will swab that for DNA. They may examine you for any type of foreign body such as hair, dirt, or cloth fibers and preserve them as evidence.

If you have been sexually assaulted, the exam will be more extensive, taking 3-4 hours or more, depending on the severity of the attack. They may draw blood, take pictures of your injuries, remove and keep your clothing, do a pelvic exam, collect hair samples, do swabs of your mouth and any other areas where evidence of DNA may be present on your body. If you are a woman, and vaginal penetration has occurred, they may offer to give you a hormone to prevent conception. This will be your option, and your views on contraception will be respected. They will give you antibiotics to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

They may call a rape crisis specialist to come in, stay with you during the exam, and help you navigate the legal and healthcare systems, including guiding you on follow-up counseling. Have someone bring you a change of clothing, as yours will remain in the custody of the police as evidence.

This process is long and arduous, but essential for creating the best possible setting for the conviction of perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence crimes. It is hard at the time, but try to look past the inconvenience to the future. You don’t have to press charges at that time, but you may feel differently in the coming days, and if you don’t submit to the evidence collection at the time of occurrence, you may very well regret it in the future. No one else will know what happened if you don’t want to tell them. By agreeing to be examined, you will be helping yourself, and possibly future victims. Let it happen and be a party to stopping the violence.

No More Bracelets

As many of you know, recently I have been writing awareness articles on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. For various reasons, I feel led to share the stories of survivors of Domestic Violence. I can either write individual stories, or, if I get enough people to respond, I would like to write a book detailing each experience, information on the issue, and how to find help to get out of unhealthy situations. The title will be explained in the book, but it has significant meaning for me from my years as a forensics nurse. Some cases you just don’t forget.

Domestic violence, or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), as it is now known, can be in the form of sexual assault, physical assault, or psychological aggression. I want stories from anyone who has experienced any form of IPV: married or unmarried, woman or man, present or past. I would prefer knowing your real name for the purposes of communication and validity, but it will not be used in any publications or discussed with anyone else. If you want to choose your “name” for your story, please do. I’m not a fan of choosing names. I had a hard enough time doing that for my children’s books, but I will certainly do it for you if you don’t want to pick your own. Your story needs to be told. It may be just the thing you need: to talk about it; or it may be just the thing that someone else needs to hear.

As a nurse, and as a writer, too, I guess, I am obligated to protect information unless a person specifically allows me to share it, so nothing you send me will be shared in any way other than what you have approved. I will accept anything that sounds valid, so I do require that you not send anything that is not a true experience. I will not use profanity. If that’s a part of your story, which it may be, the words will be written as “(word deleted)” so the impact of your sentence will not be lost. As much as I may want to do so, I will not be able to report anyone to law enforcement, but if you are in a dangerous situation, my universal answer would be “Get out of there and call the police.” I will write your story with the details you give me, but if you would like to write your own, that’s fine with me, too. I may have to edit for length. This is new territory for me so I’m not quite sure how it will all unfold, but we’ll work together. Men are encouraged to write.

I also request that you share this post with everyone you know. I would somehow like to reach as many people as possible across the United States. That’s a daunting task, but the more representations I can get, the more helpful this project will be for people in different locations. Please send your stories to me at I have a questionnaire I will send you, once you express interest, to help make it easier for you. I think the more “academic” it is, the easier it may be for you to relive painful times.

Friends, I have no idea what I am getting into, but I believe I am being led to do it, and God knows better than I do. If I’m not interpreting His instructions properly, He’ll just use His big hand to squish this thing so it doesn’t happen. There will be no judgments, so let that part go. I hope to hear from you.