Add to Flipboard Magazine.
Retreat Reviews: "I thought my dreaming days were over, but since leaving my teaching job, I have started a new career and my husband and I are exploring China for two years!! Dream Positioning works for both of us as we move forward together..." -Shulah S. Retreat Participant "My wife and I attended a retreat run by Dr. Lavi years ago. Things we learned still help us keep things exciting!" -Bill and JoAnn H., previous participant

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Remembering Larry Bogdanow, Part II

My brother & I on the Staten Island Ferry around 1973?
Thought for the day: I just reread my post from February 22, 2012. I wrote it two days before what would have been my brother, Larry Bogdanow's birthday.  I said most of what I feel comfortable saying publicly about him then. However, on June 29th it will be a year since Larry lost his battle with brain cancer. Thoughts & memories arise daily. It is part of the normal mourning process. I often tell clients to use writing to help with grief. As hard as it is to do, as a psychologist who has helped people deal with loss throughout my career, I need to share some of my thoughts today in hopes that it will inspire you or help you share your memories of a loved one who you are grieving.

Time is the ultimate healer, but time alone is not enough to complete the mourning. First, let me say, time is deceptive. In some ways, it feels like the events of last year happened yesterday. Since my brother's illness & demise was very rapid. No one had time to digest the fact that he was not going to be with us within weeks of the discovery of the recurrence of the cancer.

In other ways, time has seemed to move slowly. The normal joy of each holiday that has passed was burdened by the reality that my brother would not be there to celebrate. His birthday & Father's Day also were clouded by what we were missing. In my posts I shared some of my grief. I have tried throughout this year to take the time to experience the feelings, write about them or speak with someone when they arise.

In Victorian times, mourners wore black clothes for a year & stopped wearing jewelry or wore jewelry with the picture of their loved one. I stopped wearing black within a few months, but for this past year except for a few professional appearances or religious holidays, I stopped wearing jewelry. I never wore jewelry until I began to make my own several years ago. Once I did, it began to give me great pleasure to wear my creations. Somehow, I have not felt comfortable wearing jewelry since my brother's death. My brother would probably have thought this was unnecessary, but for me it seemed like a small daily reminder that life has changed & I am not ready to be fully joyful.

I'm not religious but know that in Jewish tradition music is not allowed during the first year of mourning, it's a bit like lent. I did my own version by not listening to music on the radio for this year. I did watch TV & went to movies so at times I heard background music, but wrote off listen to music or singing. I love music & I love to sing, but during the first year after I lose a loved one, I give them up. I only sang when I was at religious services. When I saw the documentary, Once Upon a Dream, I was inspired by the children's accomplishments. Afterwards, I searched for renditions of Over the Rainbow & shared them on my blog posts. I made another exception when I went to my camp reunion. There I sang the songs that Larry, my friend, Amelia Samet Kornfeld, (who also lost her battle with brain cancer not long ago), & I would sing together as children. I know I will sing again & listen to the radio, but I needed the silence to leave space for the thoughts, memories & feelings.

Most religions have traditions for mourning that last about a year. Knowing that a year has passed will mark the time for me to let go of my personal "lent" related to mourning my brother's passing. I read an article in Psychology Today by one of my facebook fans, Dr. Craig Malkin, who is also a psychologist. The article proposes that secure relationships, starting in childhood, lead to secure adult relationships & more exciting adventurous lives. At the core of the research is a study by Mary Ainsworth who found that securely attached children, those who felt their mother would always be there for them, attacked the world with gusto & adventure. Internalizing that feeling of security lasts a lifetime even after the mother is no longer present.

Yesterday, it came to me that I no longer have anyone who really knew me from the day I was born. My mother, father, eldest brother & grandmother have been gone for many years. Having Larry was like an extension of the secure attachment our mother gave us to explore the world. He would always encourage me to explore my dreams. In addition, he was an added memory bank for me. I relied on my brother's memory for things I was not sure about. I can't ask him to help me remember things from my childhood anymore but that sense of security he & my family gave me to live adventurously, live on inside me. I have become the holder of so both memories & dreams.

I don't know what happens after we leave this world, but I do believe that we all live on in the memories of those we have touched in our lives. My brother touched not only me, my family & the friends he knew & loved, but also the strangers who visited the restaurants, theaters, homes, & educational facilities he designed. About a month ago, by accident, I discovered that a new friend, Joy Rose, the founder of the Museum of Motherhood in NYC & Mamapaloosa, knew my brother twenty years ago. Her son went to nursery school with Larry's daughter. Larry helped her design a kitchen in her apartment for free.

Larry designed & organized a group of friends to help build a community center in Guatemala thirty years ago. My sister-in-law went & visited the facility this year. While there, she told a young woman that her husband had designed & helped build the center. The woman immediately took my sister-in-law to meet her father. At their home, her father showed my sister-in-law a picture of Larry & his crew of volunteers.  His daughter was too young to know Lorenzo (Larry) personally, but had heard about him for many years. My brother followed his dreams, left his mark. The world is a better place thanks to his creativity, passion, philanthropy & love.

Make time for your dreams. They can help you leave a mark. Dreams live on. If you would like to share a story about someone you have lost & how their dreams live on, please do, it may help someone else as they work through their grief.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bullying Part V: Are We Riding on a Runaway Bus? Bullying Is the Symptom, Society is the Patient

A Segment from Bullying of Bus Monitor, Karen Klein
Thought for the Day: A 68 year old bus monitor was bullied to tears on Monday leading to a flood of reactions world wide on YouTube & in conventional media. It has lead to an outpouring of support for Karen Klein, the woman bullied on the bus including a fund to send her on vacation which has raised enough for her to consider retiring. There are stories all over the internet, but you can read one report here: Bullying of Bus Monitor My initial response was anger & I wondered why the bus driver was not alerted to the abuse. Why didn't they stop the bus? The more I think about it, the incident simply reinforces my belief that bullying is symptomatic of a societal illness. We, as a society are all riding on a runaway bus. We need to take back control. If we don't intervene, together, we are all responsible for the increase in bullying among children. I am working on developing ideas to help our society stop bullying & would love to hear your thoughts & suggestions. I need your support to help make a difference.

It is easier to point fingers at & blame the children, their parents or a single school system & pretend that this is just an isolated incident, but if we do, we will miss the mark. As I have been reporting in this series (Bullying Part I, Bullying Part IIBullying Part III , Bullying Part IV), bullying is an epidemic across the nation & around the world. Children are bullying children & teens to death. Some of the statistics include a Yale University  study which found bullied teens are 2 to nine times more likely to consider suicide. Bullied children are at times so angry that they are using firearms & attacking their classmates & teachers. Many youth have no respect for one another, adults or elders. The stories are always sensational. The media tells the story till the interest dies down. Often we react for a short time & feel the problem has been addressed.

When a child commits suicide, school systems bring in a team of therapists for a short period of time & then business goes back to usual. All too often, I see students, like Judy, (not her real name) in my private practice where brief "band-aid" solutions have occurred. Judy's best friend had died in a car accident. The school seemed to do all the right things. They held memorials, had therapists at school for the first week. Just a few months later, teachers had no patience for Judy when she was having trouble concentrating on her school work & her grades were slipping. They told her she should just get over it. Fortunately, her parents supported her request to see a therapist. Any intervention needs to be more comprehensive & last for at least a year. Teachers & students will need continued training to become more sensitive to their students needs following any traumatic event.

In family therapy, the family system is the patient. Often what psychologists call the "identified patient" or "IP" is seen as the the healthiest member of the family who recognizes that there is a problem & consciously or unconsciously, helps get the family into therapy. Their inappropriate behavior is symptomatic of the family's problems. Just as the whole family needs therapy in family systems models, the bully or bullying behavior is symptomatic of a societal problem. The interventions need to be with the society as a whole, not just a specific bully, victim & school system or town.

We all pay taxes which support our schools. Towns across the nation are cutting education budgets. Educators are forced to focus on the three R's & standardized test scores, while we are failing to teach our children to respect all human beings. Bullying is symptomatic of a society in need of comprehensive interventions. We need to get our priorities straight. If we do not speak up & demand that schools, parents, teachers & towns develop community wide programs to address this complex problem, we are all to blame & we will continue to see the rise in bullying & violence in our schools.

There are anti-bullying programs already being used successfully in some communities, but the scope needs to be broadened even more. The solutions need to come from people from all walks of life & varied professions. Both public & private, for profit corporations & non-profit organizations, film & media outlets, & all levels of educators from preschool to post graduate universities, parents, grandparents & childless couples need to join together creatively in efforts to heal an ailing society. If we put our resources together. it will take time, but we can make a difference.

We must take the wheel & be the drivers & monitors of society's runaway bus. Together we can stop it & get it moving in the right direction. I hope you become part of the solutions by sharing your comments.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Saving for Dreams Part I: Have We Lost the Ability to Wait for Rewards?

Thought for the Day: For those of you who do not recognize what this photo is, it's the cover of an S & H Green Stamps Saving Book. This Green Stamp program was popular in the 60's. It was before the days of self-stick stamps. To paste them into the book, you either licked the stamps, which tasted awful,  or used a wet sponge to activate the glue. For months on end, we would collect the stamps, whenever we bought groceries & patiently pasted them into the books. There were redemption stores where you could turn in the books for what were then luxury items like clock radios or wooden tennis rackets. As children we would scour the catalouge to pick out the "reward" we wanted. Then we would wait till we had enough stacks of filled books to go to a redemption center to redeem our prize. Today, in our fast paced lives, are we forgetting how to work hard, save & wait for rewards?

If you were to search for anything similar to the S & H Green Stamps today, what would you find? In writing this post, I found out that they actually have an online version of green stamps called S & H Greenpoints. You can join & get points when you shop at 100s of online stores. They will even allow you to redeem old books of stamps if you have any. Computers have also streamlined the process for grocery stores. Now, when you check out, the cashier asks whether you have a Stop & Shop Gas Rewards Card or CVS Extra Care Rewards, two I happen to have. The computer tracks your purchases. With your receipt you get printed coupons with discounts on items the store thinks you might like to buy in the future. Sometimes, if you have purchased enough from the store, they give you $5 or $10 off your next purchase.  How many times have you have tossed those receipts into your purse or wallet & forgotten about them till they have already expired or just tossed them directly into the trash as you leave the store? Easy come, easy go.

Another modern equivalent to Green Stamps are the Groupon  & Living Social's deal of the day. These programs will customize the offers you receive to get discounts in stores near where you live or work when you sign up at these sites. With these internet offers, products & services are sold at 1/2 or even more off for a limited time. The web pages advertizing these offers even show a clock ticking away the remaining days, hours, minutes, & seconds until the deal expires. It also lets you know how many people have taken advantage of this amazing vacation, meal, or spa treatment since it went live. They encourage you to tell your friends about the offer for additional discounts. They make sure to inform you that although you have a year to use the coupon, the offer will be gone soon, so hurry up & take advantage of it NOW.

Have we lost the ability to, as psychologists say, "delay or defer gratification?" In child development theory, newborns have no concept of waiting for rewards. They cry, are fed, burped, changed, & comforted by their parents. At first, they do not even realize that their mother is a separate person. From a baby's perspective, "I cry & instantly, magically my needs are met." As a child grows, a major part of parents' responsibility include teaching a child to wait for or delay gratification.

From Sunshineandshorts
You may be wondering, why it is important to learn to wait. We all have become accustomed to fast food, instant credit, real time news & instant downloads. We like to have things appear instantly. What are the benefits of waiting? Many things in life take time to develop. Life experience seasons a writer. Work experience helps employees develop & hone their skills. We also tend to appreciate things more when we have worked & saved & looked forward to accomplishing them. One study from the Journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, found that people are happier in the 8 weeks prior to vacations due to the anticipation of the event. The effect of increased happiness dissipates after the vacation, even if it was relaxing. Quick & easy accomplishments may not produce the same change in our sense of happiness.

In addition, if we expect immediate results, we may become disappointed when they don't happen as quickly as we thought they would. We may assume we are failures when in reality, our only failure is not having the patience to keep experimenting & the perseverance it takes to reach our goals. "More than two-thirds of Danes report being “very satisfied with their lives,” according to the Eurobarometer Survey, a figure that has held steady for more than 30 years." When researchers try to explain this phenomenon they believe  that, "the answer is, in a word, expectations. Danes have low expectations and so “year after year they are pleasantly surprised to find out that not everything is rotten in the state of Denmark,” says James W. Vaupel, a demographer who has investigated Danish bliss."

I don't believe we need to lower our expectations of life. On the contrary, we need to increase our expectations, but we need to learn how to wait & defer gratification. While you save for & work towards your dreams, you can adjust the plans rather than abandon them. Sometimes this process leads to accomplishing even better things than you first imagined.

As always, I look forward to your thought & comments. Have you seen benefits in waiting, working & saving for your dreams? I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day Part II: When a Father Is Missing, What Can You Do for Your Children?

Bill & Larry
Thought for the day: Around 17.8 million children, about 23% of children in the United States, are growing up in homes with no father in their home (U.S. Census Bureau, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2005, P60-234, August 2007 Among black families 48% are living in single parent homes (5/6th are living with their mothers as the custodial parent). As Father's Day approaches, I am thinking about what mothers in single parent families can do to help fill the void when fathers are not in the picture or are barely present for their children. As a psychologist, I have my ideas & will share them, but would love to hear from single moms raising their children & from fathers who do not have custody & want to be involved & are finding creative ways to stay connected to their children.

     As I said in my previous post, Father's Day Part I: What Is or Was the Most Special Moment You Had With Your Dad?, my father took us out on Sundays & vacationed with us after the divorce. Most of the week, we had little or no contact with him. Many divorced couples today have more equal custody & visitation arrangements then we had back then. There are cell phones, skype & IMs which can lead to regular contact with children if noncustodial parents make the effort to stay in touch with their children. I would encourage all parents to build routines so that you speak with your children as often as possible, even if you cannot see them every day. My biggest concern however is for children who's fathers are absent & have disappeared from their children's lives altogether. In my practice, I have seen too many children & adults plagued by feeling abandoned & unloved when this has happened. (The impact of this is beyond the scope of this post, but I will address it at a later time.)
     I have three children to thank for filling the void left by my father's absence from my home. They were my brothers. I have spoken about one of my brothers, Larry Bogdanow, in an earlier post. Father's Day without him is sad for me. Even though he was not my father, throughout his life I knew he would be there for me & my children like a father & I miss him. My oldest brother, Bill, died many years ago & the wounds have healed, but he too is missed on Father's Day.
     When we were kids, my two older brothers looked out for me. Bill, the eldest in the family, was more authoritarian & at times I would rebel against his fervor for trying to keep his little sister safe. We were all friends in high school & went to conventions of the youth group, Young Judaea, together. If I went for a walk with a new guy & my brothers were worried, Bill would organize a search party. I was embarrassed & felt I could take care of myself, but also felt loved. Larry, on the other hand, who was closer to my age, fathered me more gently. Larry was more like a good friend who would mentor & encourage me to do the right things, if he was worried about me. I always knew I could come to him with a problem, even as an adult. Larry grew to become an gentle, kind, loving father to his daughter.
     You may be wondering why I included my youngest brother, Mike, as a father figure for me. I was 6 years old when he was born & I became his "little mother." Mike grew into the father figure role in my family, after my oldest brother died. He is not only an amazing father of three wonderful children, he has been a paternal figure for his nieces & nephew as well. Even though Mike never lived with our father, he learned well from my older brothers & later in life from his father-in-law, Irwin Freedberg, whom I write about in my book as an example of a "dream parent" to emulate.
     I am not telling you about my brothers to sing their praises, which I could, but to let you know that siblings, even children who grew up without a father in their home, can help fill the void left by an absent parent. Uncles & aunts & even non-family members can help. When my older brothers were being bullied at school, my mother hired someone to take them fishing & to sports events. She also enrolled my brothers in Judo to learn self defense. (See my earlier post on Grace JiuJitsu.) Today the Big Brother Big Sister Organization can help by providing mentors at no cost as well.  There were other mentors in our youth group & teachers who helped all of us along the way.
     Who are the father figures who helped you, if your father was not present? How did they support you? If you are a single parent, who has helped you fill the void for an absent father? If you are parenting at a distance, what helps you stay in touch? Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day Part I: What Is or Was the Most Special Moment You Had with Your Dad?

My Conversation with Abraham Lincoln & My Father
Thought for the Day: In this Father's Day week, what is or was the most special moment you had with your dad? Holidays like Mother's Day & Father's Day can be hard if your relationship with your parents was not picture perfect or if your parent has passed away. Whatever your relationship was like, whether they are here or no longer with you, it may be helpful to remember special moments. When I saw a request for posts about special moments with your father on a facebook group of alum from my High School, the stories were wonderful.

      My first reaction was mixed. I was touched, but was also a bit envious of the multiple posts about special moments with fathers. I felt I did not have many stories I could recall in my memory. I wrote this:
       What wonderful stories. Since my parents were divorced, I have more negative stories than positive ones about my father. That is one of the worst things that happen to children when marriages end & parents don't get along. My father did take us out on Sundays & some of the visits were positive, but usually they ended in sadness. He would complain that we did not call him during the week. He was, however, an amazing parent substitute as an adult leader to tons of teenagers in Bnai Brit. When we would visit, his house would be filled with other people's children who called him, Uncle Morris & turned to him as a father figure, mentor & advisor. It always seemed ironic to me that my brothers & I never felt that way towards him. I would not even join Bnai Brit. Fortunately, he was a better grandfather than father & as an adult we developed a better relationship.

After I posted that story on the facebook page, I thought some more about my father & recalled this story & posted it:
Morris Bogdanow. 1912 - 1988
      Even before the divorce, when we traveled with my father, we got more of his undivided attention than in every day life,  One of my best memories of my father was on one of our vacations on a visit to the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln was one of my father's heroes. (FDR was probably his 2nd most admired president.) On that particular trip, I was about 5 or 6 years old & he told me that President Lincoln could hear me. I spoke to President Lincoln's statue & my father pretended to answer me from near the statue. I thought the president was addressing me! 
     Not long after that my parents were divorced & many of the memories were jaded by their discord. My brothers became my father figures & did a good job at stepping in for him. He was a lawyer who fought for clients of all races religions & creeds. My respect for both Abraham Lincoln & my father's views on social justice remain strong. I appreciate the values my father represented to me. Despite the divorce & the painful memories, he helped instill in me a genuine love of reading, social activism, human rights & respect for all people. I am thankful for these lessons that I learned from him.

What is or was the most special moment you had with your dad?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Part V: Deep in the Heart of Texas Gratitude Project Update

Who has recognized your abilities & helped you find your passion & reach your dreams?

Thought for the Day: ‎
 "When your actions do not match your values, you will always find dissonance."
Patti Blackstaffe 
"When your actions match your values, you will always find passion!" 
Dr Barbara Lavi
 (Thanks to The Life Change Network on Facebook for the quote which inspired me.)

      Cognitive dissonance is a psychological concept which describes the discomfort one feels when one's actions do not match their values. If cognitive dissonance is strong enough, it can change the course of a person's life. Read on to see how my guidance counselor, Barbara Edwards' vision & support not only changed the life of her student, but also. enabled them to find their passion & help make the world a safer place.
      As e-mails & facebook posts come in for my Gratitude Project I have been posting them on the blog & forwarding them to Ms. Edwards. This e-mail came in a week or so ago. I always request permission before posting someone's message on the blog. I just got permission for this one yesterday. It is in sharp contrast to the e-mail  which led to my previous post: You Don"t Have to Be Pollyanna or Wear Rose Colored Glasses to be a Dreamer. I was very moved by Martha's 1st e-mail & even more impressed when I heard more details in the 2nd e-mail, therefore, I decided to share it today. The contrast between the anonymous post I discussed in my last post & these two e-mails is striking. It shows how, as I said in an earlier post, one person really can do so much. If more people would go the extra mile it could make the difference between the life experiences of those we encounter in our lives. As I said in my response to the anonymous commenter,  I wish they had been one of Ms. Edward's students. Here's Martha, one of the people helped by Ms. Edward's e-mail:

Hello Dr. Lavi,
     I saw your post on the Bellaire Alumni FB page & I went to the link.  I read about your  gratitude project for Barbara Edwards & I could not believe it!!  Ms. Edwards changed my life!  I am who I am today because of her & I have always wanted to thank her, but have not been  able to find her.  I would love to be able .. to tell her how she changed my life & to thank her...
     I live in Missouri City in the Houston suburbs.  I graduated from Bellaire in 1980.  Thanks to  Ms. Edwards, in late June/early July of 1980 after I had graduated, I won a four year  scholarship to the university of my choice.  Because of that, she helped me to apply & get  accepted into Rice University long after the application deadline.  At Rice I met my husband  & we both got our degrees in Chemical Engineering.  My son is now a junior at Rice University.   All of this would not have happened if it were not for Ms. Edwards.


     In Martha's follow up e-mail, I learned more about her life story that makes it even more inspiring. Martha told me that, "Ms. Edwards knew that it would be difficult for my family to pay for my college, so she had me apply to every scholarship that came past her desk.  I was a  finalist in just about all of them, but the only scholarship I won was the one for a four year,  full ride to the school of my choice, plus it included a job every summer during college. That is how I was able to afford Rice University."
     After graduating, Martha worked at Rohm & Haas in the cyanide unit, making the acrylics for Plexiglass, which was their trademark.  While Martha was working there, the horrible cyanide accident happened in Bhopal, India. After the accident, her job centered around safety & environmental issues. When she she left Rohm & Haas, she continued working at environmental consulting companies.  She is now self employed & has a contract with an environmental engineering consulting company.  One of her jobs is to translate MSDSs from English into Spanish for chemical products that are sent to Mexico & South America. 
     By helping Martha find a way to go to college, Ms. Edwards also helped  her make a significant contribution to a cleaner & safer environment following a tragic accident. It is clear that Martha's actions matched her values & she found her passion in helping to make the world a safer place using her knowledge of chemical engineering & passion for safety.
       Ms. Edwards saw Martha's  talent & encouraged her to follow her dreams, despite her family's financial constraints. Who has helped you by recognizing your abilities to find your passion & follow your dreams?  I hope you will share your stories & remember to thank those who helped you along the way.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You Don't Have to Be Pollyanna or Wear Rose Colored Glasses to Be a Dreamer

Ultimate Optimist Glasses by Laurinjade from Photobucket
Life through ROSE colored glasses by Mamaaunte (Photobucket)
Thought for the Day: A recent comment on an earlier blog made me reflect on whether people are reading my blog & assuming that I must be wearing rose colored glasses. My passion to encourage people to connect with & work towards their dreams may make some people think I am out of touch with the negative realities of life & our world. The truth is that I am aware of the harsh realities we face today. However, I believe that we all can do something about these challenges if we take action. I hope others will share their negative experiences & how they overcame them or your reactions to this Anonymous comment. I welcome all comments & see them as opportunities to open tough discussions & search for creative solutions to these & other problems we all face.

The anonymous comments came to a previous post:  Part IV: Help Me Start A Gratitude Project Deep In the Heart of Texas. Here's what they wrote:
     I am sorry that I cannot make your dream to find everything in our past wonderful.. I could never get in to see my counselor, whoever she was. i wanted to graduate at 16, but it seems every one stood in my way. I had to get out of school, & get out on my own, & still no one helped me with anything. The Jewish girls made up awful lies about me, and the mothers in B'nai Brith made up worse ones, just because i was sexy, not promiscuous, and they felt threatened by me. I was accused, behind my back, because no one had the strength to confront me, of horrible things the other girls did. Why didn't anyone ask me if they were true, & why were those mothers so willing to believe it was the Shicksa who had done the deeds, & not the Jewish girls? Bellaire was horrible & I was so glad to get out of there. i wanted a good education, because my mom said they could take away your house, your money & your jewels, but they could never take away your ind. It seems that most of those in Bellaire, attempted just that. When I said I wanted to be a doctor, I was ridiculed, then finally told that I would never have the money to do it. Thanks! for that dream busted!! I was told the only thing I could do was secretary, nurse, or teacher. Thanks Again!! for that dream busted, as none of those things were the least bit interesting. And no one would help me find a way to get a college degree. Well, I have been successful in my own way. I have been a community activist, discovered unknown species, wrote deed restrictions & saved a town from demolition, was on TV & in the news several times, all in spite of the "Fine" education I got at Bellaire. it was not a nice experience. I survived it in spite of the jealousy & hostility. there was not one school counselor who did a thing to help me, nor any teachers, save for Mrs. DuPont & Mrs. Finch.

Rose Colored Glasses By jjh4 (Photobucket)
Unfortunately, Anonymous was bullied & discriminated against in my high school. I remember the cattiness & feelings of not being part of some of the cliques that exist in all schools. I was not & am not blind to discrimination & prejudice (see recent series of posts on bullying: Part IPart IIPart III,Part IV), but I do believe that we can help make changes in this world if we allow ourselves to dream, imagine & work to make a difference.
Here's my response to Anonymous' comments:
     Dear Anonymous, Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sorry to hear that for you, Bellaire was so negative. I wish you had been fortunate enough to have had Ms Edwards as a guidance counselor. I worked in her office for 2 years & know she tried to encourage everyone to go to college & helped them get scholarships. As one of 4 children in a single parent family, I would not have been able to follow my dreams without financial aid. High School was not all wonderful & being a teenager had it's challenges. I was not "in with the in crowd," but found people who did not care about money & status. Prejudice & ignorance go hand in hand & it occurs among people from all religions, races & ethnic backgrounds. I, for one, do what I can to educate & advocate for tolerance & respect of all people. It sounds like you overcame the adversity & have accomplished many of your dreams. It is never too late to change the end of your story & start working on dreams that you would still like to accomplish.