Ask.

“Amanda, what are your thoughts on kneeling and the National Anthem…are you going to blog about it?”

This is the thing: no blog, social media post, quote, essay or argument will change someone else’s opinion. And honestly, that is okay. People are entitled to believe what THEY believe. Whether we like it or not.

What we need is this: conversation. Because conversation leads to understanding.

If you don’t understand why people are kneeling during the National Anthem…ask.  Because you will probably find out that it has nothing to do with our military who risk their lives for us…or our actual flag. It goes much deeper than that.

If you don’t understand why people continue to stand during the National Anthem…ask. Because you will probably find out that they are not standing up AGAINST anyone else…but they’re standing up for what the flag means to them. What this country means to them.

This whole situation is like an onion…there are so many layers to it…peel one back, there is another issue.  At the core…is racism.

I recently overheard someone say “I am so sick and tired of hearing about racism!” Hmm. If you’re sick and tired of hearing about racism…imagine how tired some people are of experiencing it.

I am a white woman.  I have never experienced any direct racism. Sexism, yes. But not racism.

My husband has.

My close friends have.

Just because it hasn’t happened to YOU…does not mean it doesn’t happen.

Racism is everywhere. It is a DAILY thing.

We all have to open our eyes. Take the rose-colored glasses off. Remove the blinders. Let’s take a 360 degree look around us…not just what’s happening in “our world.”

My hope is before we take to social media to bash the “other side,” we start having conversations first.  Get a little understanding of why your neighbor believes in what they believe in.  I guarantee it will give you a new perspective.

It’s about respect.

It’s about empathy.

It’s about compassion.

We don’t all have to be right.

But it would be nice if we were all understood.

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Advice to my daughter…

Baby number 4 is going to make her appearance in the near future 🙂  And this is going to be my third daughter.  While my husband broke out into a deep sweat over the thought of having three daughters (need more bathrooms, dealing with BOYS, paying for weddings)…I looked at it a little differently.

It’s an amazing thing to have a daughter…especially, to help guide her through this world.  I had to learn to be tough…but still have finesse. Assertive…without being called a b**ch.  Passionate…without being called emotional.  Vocal…without being called pushy. Being a woman is tough.  But I have never felt more empowered.

So this is my advice for my daughters…mainly for my 9-year-old right now. (My 2-year-old’s only concern right now is Peppa Pig)

I’ve done a list like this before…and it’s hanging on her closet door 😉 So in honor of National Daughter Day that was yesterday…here it is:

1. You are loved
2. You are beautiful
3. Dry shampoo will always be one of your BFFs
4. Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Notorious BIG – they have a song for every mood. Learn them
5. Don’t be friends with people who say “everybody’s doing it”
6. Never act mean to fit in
7. That said, you’re not going to like everyone. And that’s ok
8. You will make mistakes. Good. That’s when you will learn about life
9. Speak your mind
10. Command respect. Don’t demand it
11.  Your Daddy will never like any boy. Ever
12.  Tell me the truth and I won’t get mad
13.  Don’t be afraid to sweat. Not glisten. Really, really sweat
14.  Order fries
15. Don’t rely on boys to make you feel good
16. “The Godfather” is not a mob movie. It is a movie about FAMILY
17.  Life is not a Disney movie. Never wait for Prince Charming to “rescue you”
18.  Always use proper grammar. Always
19.  Be a face-to-face girl. Don’t rely on social media
20.  Be smart, kind and genuine
21.  When in doubt, DANCE YOUR BUTT OFF
22.  Don’t diet
23.  A pint of Ben & Jerry’s can solve everything
24.  Always walk into the room with a smile on your face
25.  Be loyal. And only surround yourself with LOYAL people
26. Make sure your nails are always neat and clean
27.  Be modest. Classy not trashy
28.  Laugh. Laugh a lot
29.  Your mom and dad were once really, really cool. And hot too. No…seriously 🙂
30.  Never feel guilty about putting sweats on, ordering take-out and hanging out with your Mom on a Friday night
31.  You will always be THE most important girl in my life. Always

32. Pray. Morning, noon and night

33. There is nothing more beautiful than being smart

34. Know your current events

35. Don’t post so many selfies and don’t stage photos. It’s obnoxious

36. Stand up for what you believe in, but don’t throw stones to make your point

37. One day, you will realize that I DID know what I was talking about. Trust me

38. Don’t compare yourself to others

39. Take chances. It’s better too say “oops” than wonder “what if.”

40. There will be days you hate me. But I will always be your biggest supporter…and I will always love you. even on the bad days.

Venting vs. Slander

I am a part of many online social media groups. Groups that focus on professional women, former journalists, mommy life, womanhood…and so on.

If you are part of those groups then you know…it’s a great resource for finding referrals, venting…it’s basically one giant tribe of women who offer a much-needed support system.

But…there are times it morphs into something that leaves me asking: “where the hell is the supportive tribe?”

Look, this blog may tick people off.  But for as much as I talk, post and blog about bullying and mean-girl nonsense…I would be the biggest hypocrite to sit back and say and do nothing.

I get it, online groups are great for asking for referrals, questions about anything & everything, and looking for support. They’re safe zones.

But there are FAR too many times they have become the hot spot for defaming someone individually, slandering their good name and character, and basically…talking grade school level crap about them.  At this point, they can’t be defended as “safe zones” when posts are ripping lives apart. And we can’t stand by quietly and let it happen.

I’m used to being the topic of conversation.  It became second-nature for me to log onto social media to read something about my lipstick, hair or weight.  My name would get thrown and flipped through the mud without a second of hesitation.  That came with the territory of being on TV.  You learn to have extra-thick skin…but the hateful words still cut.

But recently, my friend came under attack.

I’m not going to go into the details of what was said. But my initial thought was: everyone wants to know why the bullying epidemic is so bad?? Look no further than the adults…look what they’re posting. It’s all learned behavior.

Instead of sharing what was SAID…let me give you some insight into what happened AFTERWARDS.  My friend, the one who was the topic of the vile and hate, is also my midwife.  You know why she is my midwife? Because when I had my 3rd child, she was one of my nurses at the time.  I trust her. She knows her stuff.  She puts EVERYONE else’s needs before her own.  Her patients become family. She will answer a question about my pregnancy in the middle of the night if I text her. She saw me at my most vulnerable and she helped me through those tough moments (Do you really have to be in here when I bathe?? )  My friendship developed with her because of the AMOUNT OF RESPECT I had for her PASSION for her job.

So when I saw the vile things that were being posted about her by an individual…I became a little irate, to say the least.

I saw her today. And as I was hooked up to the monitors checking out these contractions, we sat and talked about all of the drama. I saw absolute HURT in her eyes.  I saw a woman who spends more time with her patients than she does with her new husband.  I saw a woman who is deeply affected by hurtful words.

I get it: we’re not going to like every doctor we see…every nurse…every teacher…every manager…the list could go on and on.  But rather than putting someone on blast on the BIG, BAD INTERNET…how about we “woman-up” and have a one-on-one conversation with that individual who “did us wrong?”

Why do we continue to post shit online in an effort to stir the pot?? Online groups should NEVER allow one person to start attacking another. You may feel big and bad while posting trash…and you may feel like your words are helping others…but have you ever thought about what you’re leaving behind? You’re destroying another person.  You cannot mend the cuts made.

Yeah sure…freedom of speech. Cue the eye-roll.

Freedom of speech doesn’t give you a free pass to wage an all-out verbal assault online.

The fact is this: bullying among our kids is worse than ever.

Why?

Maybe we should look no further than the people who are driving around town in mini-vans, station wagons and SUVS…shuttling kids to and from practices…volunteering on the PTO…having spa days…having OB/GYN visits…organizing bake sales. Because in between all of that…some are spending too much time being keyboard bullies.

We may be the problem. But we can fix it.

 

 

 

Why.

86.

That’s how many messages from parents I have gotten in the past 12 hours.

They’re asking for help…they’re asking me to use my voice to keep talking about the bullying epidemic…they’re offering to help me in order to finally put an end to all of this nonsense.

But the biggest thing everyone is asking me is this: Why? Why does this continue to happen?

Not everyone is going to like what I have to say. And that’s okay. But if you know me, or of me, then you know that I am unapologetically real.  I have zero minutes in my day to sugarcoat anything…because let’s face it, it just wastes everyone’s time.

Ok here it goes: stop blaming teachers for all of the bullying.

This is not like the movies in the 80s and 90s where kids are getting thrown into lockers or meeting out on the playground to settle the score.  It is NOTHING like it was when we were growing up. Back in the day, Friday was the day everything came to a head. By the time the weekend was done, everything had blown over.

Now, thanks to social media, Monday is the new Friday. Things build and build over the weekend…and it all collides just in time for classes on Monday.

Our kids are bullying and harassing one another from the confines of their bedrooms.  Their fingers are assault weapons…typing and posting away.

Teachers can NOT be held responsible for something that is happening in our own homes.

Here is the thing: parents, take back your house.  The privacy your child thinks they deserve? Umm…nope.  Your house, your bills, your rules.

Privacy comes when our children are “off our payroll.”

Stalk them. Know everything they’re texting. Know everything they are posting.  Know everything they are receiving. Know everything that’s being posted about them.  Follow them on social media.  Follow their friends.  BE IN THE KNOW.  Set a time every night where every damn device is turned off and turned over to you. Sure, your kids will roll their eyes at you…they’ll probably call you clingy or annoying.

I call it parenting.

Am I a parenting expert? Hell no. Most days I have no clue what I am doing.

But I have been involved in the anti-bullying movement for QUITE some time now.  I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of messages from bullies and mean girls.  I’ve read the diaries of the victims where they outline the pain.  I’ve sat down with the parents of the victims who told me they had no clue their child was struggling.  I’ve sat down with the parents of the bullies who were shocked that “little Johnny could do this!” I have been to the FUNERALS of young children who have killed themselves because they couldn’t take it.

Let that sink in.  FUNERALS of young children…because they couldn’t take it anymore.

Our kids need to learn empathy.  As much as our children know that they are the center of our world…they need to understand that everything doesn’t revolve around them. Feelings matter…words hurt…words scar…words kill.

There are so many children who don’t have parents who are willing to be involved.  We need to know who those children are…because they need us.

We, as parents, need to take off our rose-colored glasses and realize that our kid could be the mean girl…the bully. We need to stop feeling thankful that “at least they’re not the one getting picked on.”

Our kids don’t need to be friends with everyone.

They don’t need to like everyone.

Not everyone is going to like them.

And that’s okay.

Because that’s how it works in the real world.

There are several people who I know who I have no plans to have a pizza party with, hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

It’s about being respectful and civil.

So to answer the question “Why is this happening?”

I believe that answer can be found in our own homes.

P.S.

No matter who you are, I will always fight for your kids…I will still be a voice.

 

 

 

 

 

Make ZERO apologies

I remember the days when I would watch the MTV Video Music Awards.  I was much younger…and the show was about the amazing performances…and less about zooming in on a reality TV star who contributes next-to-nothing.  I guess I’m too old-school but I still hang on to performances like those by Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Bon Jovi.

So I didn’t even realize the music awards were on last night…until today.  Singer Pink was honored last night…and her speech is the talk of the internet today…for good reason.

I have always been a huge fan of Pink.  She makes ZERO apologies for speaking her mind and being herself.  It’s refreshing.

She shared a story about her daughter…who out of the blue told her mom that she thought she was the ugliest person alive.  Pink shared some of the conversation she had with her young daughter: “When people make fun of me . . . do you see me growing my hair? ‘No, mama.’ Do you see me changing my body? ‘No mama.’ Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world? ‘Yes, mama.’”

Pink went on to tell her daughter this:  “So, baby, girl,” Pink said, “We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. You my darling girl are beautiful, and I love you.”

Over some waffles and OJ this morning, I was talking to my oldest about Pink’s speech. She said, “sounds like you and your fitting in a box thing you tell me.”

What I try to teach my kids on a daily basis is this: Don’t let society put you in a box. Because what works for you…may not work for your friend. It’s simple really…just be YOU and never make any apologies for it.

I spent years trying to “fit the mold.” I thought my waist had to be a certain size…my shade of red lipstick had to be just right…my hair had to be in place and the perfect blonde tone…and the smile had to be glued to my face.

Nobody remembers any of that. They may remember when I put my foot down against the guy who called me a “floozy” for wearing red lipstick 🙂 But I doubt people remember the shade of red I was wearing.

I am who I am.

My daughters are who they are.

My son is who he is.

Everyone is a unique masterpiece who isn’t supposed to fit a mold.  We’re supposed to break the mold.

Don’t let anyone define you…instead, defy everything negative they say about you.

And if someone wants to make fun of you because you don’t fit in their box?  Tell them to grab the popcorn…because you’re just getting started 😉

P.S.

Thank you Pink for inspiring this morning’s breakfast conversation

 

 

“How long have you been here?”

I’ve been wanting to blog since Saturday…from the moment I saw the first image out of Charlottesville.  The Confederate flags…the Tiki torches…the hate-filled signs…the arms held up “a la Hitler.”

I’ve been wanting to blog.  But I had no idea how to put anything into words. And I knew the first conversation I needed to have was with my children.  Because they were watching the very same images.

I was disgusted by what I was watching…but I wasn’t surprised or shocked at all. And that is what upsets me the most.

Several years ago while living in North Carolina, I remember getting a call from my husband at work: “I am so pi**ed off right now!”

He proceeded to tell me that one of his customers at the bank asked him how long he had been living “here.” It went something like this:

“How long have you been here?”

“In North Carolina? About three years now.”

“No. In America.”

“I have been here since I was 14.”

“Don’t you think it’s time to get rid of that accent?”

Not too long after that incident, a viewer wrote me a letter and told me that he would no longer watch me on the news.  He said, “I just found out that your husband isn’t white American!”

My first thought was: the only thing considered “white American” is deli cheese.

No, my husband was not born in the United States…he was born in South America.  But my husband is a proud American CITIZEN.

I was born here. But so many people in my family tree were not. They came from across the Atlantic.

Our children, appear to be “white.” But they’re not.  They’re so much more than a shade.  They have thick Latino, Sicilian and other European roots.  They have a story. My husband has a story.  I have a story.

Our children will tell you their skin color is peach…because everything is still based on a box of crayons…as it should be.  They will tell you they are American.  They will tell you they have family who came from Spain, Bolivia, Italy, Sicily and a few places in between.

They will tell you their history makes them no better than anyone.  They will tell you their history makes them no less than anyone.

They will tell you all of those things because that’s what they are taught.  I can’t control the filth and hate that comes out of so many mouths.  Unfortunately, that is learned behavior.  But I can control what happens in our house.  We believe in someone’s STORY.  Who they are. Where they came from. What brought them to this very moment.

I used a recent trip to a frozen yogurt shop to put things in perspective.  My kids each poured out their choice of flavors…one got vanilla, one chose chocolate, one opted for banana.

“You guys want to eat it like that?”

“No way! It’s too boring…I don’t like it plain.”

They then proceeded to load on the toppings.  Nerd candy, M&M’s, strawberries, Reese’s PB cups, whipped cream…you name it, they threw it on top.

Their frozen yogurt was a lot more interesting and fun with a bunch of different flavors loaded on top.

“It’s kind of like people isn’t it? A bunch of different flavors added in makes it more exciting right?”

“Exactly mom.”

If we got to know someone’s story…and everything they are made of…life would be a lot more interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

“It’s called freedom of speech”

I responded to a “less than nice” message recently and the response I got was this:

“Whatever. It’s called freedom of speech. Deal with it.”

Ahh yes.  The freedom of speech defense.

We are all lucky, blessed and beyond fortunate to have the freedom of speech. We can go to the corner of the street and yell out whatever we want.  If we’re feeling pretty evil, we can be vicious in our posts and malicious with our words if we choose.  Especially on social media…because we get to hide behind a computer/phone screen, right? (Hopefully you are sensing the sarcasm here).

But let me throw this out there for ya…

Freedom of speech does not give us freedom from consequences.

We are responsible for our words…our actions…our intentions.

Words matter.

Words hurt.

Words kill.

Words have consequences.

So yes…you have every right to say whatever it is you want.

But when you’re put in your place and told to sit down…don’t start crying about freedom of speech. You’re abusing it.

Our children are following our lead.  Their “right and wrong” is learned from us.