Bullying is happening all around us. It is happening right now. It is happening to some child who is struggling to function under all the weight of being bullied. A child who was previously happy is now being forced to put on a “thick skin” in order to survive. What effects does this have on children? How can they cope?

When a child is bullied, they are in pain. When they are physically bullied, the bullying can be seen and maybe stopped. But what of the emotional or verbal bully? What about bullying through exclusion? What about the child that battles with the pain and loneliness of these invisible methods of  bullying??

This kind of bullying really alters a child’s way of being in the world. It is significant. The child can become sad, depressed, angry, hurt and disillusioned. This disillusionment can have severe effects on the child and on that child’s future. When a child is hurt, they can generally heal. But what about chronic hurt? What about the child that is bullied by a personality disorder parent? Invisible! What about the child who is verbally and emotionally bullied every day at school? Invisible.

The anti-bully programs are a good start. But let’s be honest, they do NOT stop bullying. Many times, the bullying is just covered up better by the person who bullies. Children who suffer through this are affected in many ways. They harden their hearts in an effort to survive this. They isolate themselves. They become bullies themselves toward a weaker person. They turn to drugs and alcohol to deaden their pain. And sometimes, they kill themselves.

What happens inside of those children? They hurt. They cry. They want help but when bullying is invisible–such as verbal, emotional, or by exclusion, often times it goes unrecognized. Or it may be recognized and the victim may be told that it isn’t “that bad” or it is “no big deal” or even to “just ignore it”.  But the effects are not easy for the victim to ignore. When the bullying is ignored or minimized–the child loses hope and faith. They are victims who lose their sense of safety. Not only are they being assaulted—but it is being minimized to them. When parents and institutions minimize this–it sets the victim up for a cascade of problems. Not only dealing with the victimization–but carrying the heavy load alone.

“Meta-analyses1,2 have clearly demonstrated the negative relationship between peer victimization and mental health as well as physical health. Common elements in definitions of peer victimization include the repeated nature of harassment, an imbalance in power between bully and victim, and the intention to cause harm on the part of the perpetrator” according to the study done by Jama  Relationship Between Peer Victimization, Cyberbullying, and Suicide in Children and Adolescents . The outcome showed “Peer victimization is a risk factor for child and adolescent suicidal ideation and attempts. Schools should use evidence-based practices to reduce bullying.”

But what to do to help the victim in the mean time? First, LISTEN to your child. Do not minimize the threat or the emotions involved. Make sure they know that the bullying isn’t their fault but it is the person who is bullying who is at fault. Work with your child to find ways to stop the bullying by modeling responses; by contacting the school; and by strengthening their coping skills. Remember that children may have a difficult time talking about this so be sensitive to your child’s moods; ask questions; and listen to your child when they talk to you. They may be reaching out for help but not know how to do it. Being bullied carries a stigma that children instinctively know. Approach your child with love and acceptance.

Never underestimate the pain your child is in when they are bullied. Know that it is serious and can leads to serious problems for your child. Be smart. Be open. Be loving and supportive. And don’t hesitate to contact a professional for help. Your child’s life may depend on it. Get input from your child as to what they think might help stop the bullying. Then do what you can to make this happen for your child. Talk to the school and get a plan in place to stop the bullying. And finally, seek counseling support if necessary to give your child an outlet for his feelings in a safe and accepting environment.

(Be sure to first interview the therapist and be sure they are a good fit for your child and for your circumstances. Working with a therapist who specializes in working specifically with children is a good place to start)

Nature This!!!

This whole site is about wellness–mental, physical, and spiritual. We have a need to have balance in our lives and we naturally seek out that balance. One thing that I think is a base on which to build wellness is having a good, safe and healthy environment. That environment would encompass our family, our home, our neighborhood, and our community. I will write more extensively on all of these things in upcoming blog entries. For today–I have one specific topic in mind and it hits me hardest in the spring and in the fall.

So what is it, you might be wondering. It may seem petty to some while it may resonate with others. Right now–it is the fall leaves. What about them, you may be thinking. There are lots of things associated with the tree leaves in the fall. One is the beautiful colors; one is that winter is coming; one is that school is getting underway. Another thing is that they die–and fall on to the ground!!! Depending on where you live and what you believe–two things happen after the leaves fall. One I can relate to distantly and the other I embrace openheartedly! What I can relate to is the intense need some people have to get out there and remove every last leave from their property. While I never bought into that line of thinking–I did practice it on occasion.

When you live in a subdivision, there is immense pressure to make your home and yard look perfect. Every weed is removed. Every leaf is removed. Every inch of grass the same height. Every tree and flower is the same as your neighbors–the carbon copy of each other. And for some-

-that is what they need.

Then there are the people who live differently. The people who recognize that having leaves in the yard is normal and natural. It is how the earth works and the benefits of having leaves die on your grass, decompose over winter and get chopped up and distributed over the lawn on the first spring mowing is absolutely what nature intended. It feeds the lawn. BUT what we do now is remove the leaves and in the spring we pay some company to come and spray toxins onto our lawns to replace the nutrients that we raked up and threw out last fall. So our yards LOOK pretty. Then we spray more toxins on them to remove the weeds and this brings me to my second annoyance.

In the spring, we are greeted by a beautiful gift of nature–the dandelion. They are the first food for the bees and some of the first color of the season. They are bright and lovely and very useful for teas, medicines, and even wine. BUT we have been taught that they are ugly, useless, and must be destroyed with whatever toxin or poison you can find and it must be done so that not even ONE of them grace your lawn–NOT ONE!

If there is even one–you must be lazy, poor, uncaring, or not fit to live near anyone else in society. Surely I exaggerate–but just a bit. People have been somehow twisted against mother nature and against anything that is natural.

We can’t just grow a tree–it has to be cut into perfect symmetry. We can’t just grow a evergreen–it has to be twisted and turned and cut into spirals. Our bushes are trimmed into perfect box shapes or perfect spheres. I guess for some–that is what they need or like.

Me, I’m a different animal. I have always seen it a bit differently but recently have begun to feel an urgency to practice more of what I believe and live more simply and more holistically. What does that mean? Well, it means a lot and I will be elaborating on many of these areas  in different postings of this blog. But for the purpose of this story–it means that I do not spray anything on my lawn. I do not rake the leaves. I do not put any poisons on my lawn or in my garden. And I definitely do not remove the dandelions. In fact–I embrace the plants that grow naturally and even have become rather good at knowing the uses for them: some can be used for making tea, some can be used to cure illness, and some can be used as food.

I enjoy the weeping nature of bushes and never really appreciated the manicured look of the perfect bush or the perfect lawn. To me, it seems unnatural, unreal, and unappealing. We have been conditioned in this society to desire perfection and to be repulsed by the natural ebb and flow of our own nature. A yard full of leaves is repulsive to most people. I witnessed several large houses with a literal army of men blowing all the leaves from the one acre lots into piles and hauling them away in trucks.

I wonder if it is just me. Am I the only one who sees all of this as unnatural? Do others find yards completely devoid of any leaves beautiful–or odd? Do the yards filled with leaves make you feel edgy? Angry? Out of sorts? Or does it make you smile at the absolute beauty of how Mother Nature knows just what to do? Does it fill you with joy and wonder?

What we do makes no sense really. We remove the very thing we are seeking–connection with nature. We take away the natural cycle of birth, development, death and the break down of the dead into the building blocks of life. We remove the leaves which are natural food for our yards and we pour on poisons and toxins to feed the lawn with unnatural things in unnatural ways. We rip out every weed and douse our environment in toxic weed killers and toxic poisons. THIS is not producing the healthy environment for ourselves, our children, our pets or our community in which to thrive and grow. All those toxins leach into our water and we poison ourselves to produce some unnatural form of–nature. Think about that.

While my yard may look like a nature preserve, I am teaching my sons how to treat a mother–Mother Nature that is. Be kind. Be gentle. Be good. Our mission here in this life isn’t to subdue and destroy and control. At least not in my world. It is to co-exist and love and nurture. THAT is why we are really here. And you can live that starting in your own back yard.

Enlightenment–What is it?

Wow, enlightenment is everything and nothing. It is what it means to us but is also universal. It is like a knowing that cannot be easily defined. How do we find it? Lots of ways and in no way. We can seek it but it comes when it is ready to come. It cannot be taught or, in my opinion, even really practiced. It is my contention that we are all born into a paradigm of thinking and we all ascribe to it. Maybe not exactly the same way. Maybe our differences with one another seem huge–but they are in the grand scheme of things–really very small. We don’t realize for the most part that we are born into a belief system that is all-encompassing. I don’t mean just a religion or a work ethic or a way of relating. It’s like the whole level of conscience places us in a box and we don’t know there is life outside this box because all we have ever known is this box. There is no view outside the box either because there is no way to view beyond the box. More importantly–there is no view that there even IS a box. Why? Because it is a given and it is all we know.

But what happens? What changes it? It seems just as much an enigma that it happens as how it happens and when it happens. I have always been a bit intrigued by this idea or state of enlightenment. It seems esoteric. It seems romantic. It seems elitist. It seems damn hard to get there and out of the grasp of most of us. But that too is a wrongheaded paradigm that we can‘t see until we see! It almost seems like we cannot see the bigger picture until we see the smaller picture and the smaller picture won‘t come into focus until we see the bigger picture. Well–that is an enigma I guess.

Wrap that up with the issue of timing. We can read about enlightenment, practice achieving it, and desire it BUT it comes when it comes. An event, an insight, or maybe it is a built-in moment into our DNA or our life‘s path. Somehow we hit a point or event in our lives and the fog clears. Not from any specific effort we make–but almost like it is revealed unto us. Not that we may not be struggling and suffering–but that alone will not yield enlightenment in my opinion and experience.

It comes. It comes slowly or it comes as a flash. We can’t stay the same after that. We are changed forever. We not only see the box and tear it down–but we don’t care about the box anymore and we don’t analyze that box. We simply see it for what it was and then there is no time to ruminate about the box because now things are limitless. You are what is, what was, and what will always be. Boundary less. Unencumbered by what this world holds because the box no longer detains your mind or your being.

For me, it came as an almost simultaneous knowing of my own little ecosystem and then the dynamics of the entire ‘everythingness’. I felt, in that moment, as if a camera had elucidated MY life circumstance but just as quickly as it was elucidated–it was as if the camera had been quickly panning out in an infinite zoom that characterized that ‘everythingness’. A connectedness without beginning or end. Seamless. ‘Compartmentalless’. No division but simply oneness.

That is both awesome and frightening at first. Because to some degree–that box provides us some extreme false sense of security and control. We see ourselves as master of our own domain and creator of our lives. We see the world the way we have been programmed since forever. What we should do, think, become. How we should act and what we should achieve and get and buy and do and own and use up. We possess, in our own minds, that we are somehow separate from it all.

But enlightenment changes all of that. It shifts us into THE paradigm or the lack of paradigm. Later, as we acclimate our beings to the facts that we are souls with bodies and not bodies with souls–we find comfort in what initially caused anxiety. We find security where we initially felt fear and vulnerability. We realize that this knowledge makes us invulnerable. We are connected. We are part of something so large and amazing that it is limitless and it is not able to be characterized. It isn’t necessarily fun because it is a shattering of all that was held to be true and to be real from our beginning. It is an understanding that what many think and hold to be true–is simply not true.

Once you find your enlightenment–the enlightenment–you can never be that person you once were. Everything has changed and nothing has changed because it was there all along. But now YOU know. You can’t look at your self, the world, your relationships, and your future the same way ever again. It is like the bell not being able to be “unrung”. You can’t put the genie back into the bottle. You can’t “unsee” something. So you transform into a new being and you grow to understand how that flash of knowing that you achieved will fit into your remaining physical life. You just know.

It is then that you realize that enlightenment isn’t making ourselves better or understanding some unknowable truth–it is about seeing THE truth. About the view of what just is. It makes life sort of interesting because–at least for me–those who are enlightened stand out now. They possess a different dimension to themselves. THEY don’t project it–it simply IS projected. Like you know they know and they know you know. Those whose journey hasn’t yet brought them there are oblivious and now it is as if you can see them–those unenlightened–as beings struggling just as you did. You don’t judge anymore. You just are and you let them just be.

You gravitate towards those who have passed that threshold. You know you are bonded to every single thing that exists. They know they are too–bonded to everything. There is comfort in that knowing. But in the whole picture, I am still getting use to my ‘knowing’. It still has the capacity to frighten me. It still has the capacity to make me feel as if I am in a free fall. It strips away any illusions and beliefs and lets you see the truth. While they say the truth sets you free–I think the truth has implications that we simply cannot fully grasp in this state of being. Our transformation from this existence into the next, I believe, will reveal what cannot be revealed fully here. And I am o.k. with that.