Today is Pink Shirt Day.
A day, dedicated to wearing pink shirts as a way of drawing attention to the issue of bullying.
You can find out more details about Pink Shirt Day, and how it started, on their website: pinkshirtday.ca
Over the past few days, there have been a number of people in the media, who have asked the question: “Does ‘Pink Shirt Day’ help ?”
The obvious and concise answer, in my opinion, is a solid and resounding “YES !!!”
I was lucky enough to go to Elementary and Secondary Schools where, except for one occasion, I can’t remember encountering bullying.
However, I do know that my childhood and early teen years were a time of change, and a period where I felt alone… isolated… and vulnerable.
I was short… gawky… quiet… not popular and wore glasses. As it was, I largely just kept to myself, and tried not to draw attention to myself. Had I gone to a different school, or had my school had a different environment, I would have been a choice victim for bullies.
And I would have been in trouble.
Later in life, I encountered another set of circumstances and a time where the place I worked for 21 years had to close… I started a new job… I lost both my parents… and we moved… all in the period of four years. At that time, I became entangled in the quicksand of depression. It was an all-consuming, physically-painful period… where I searched for a way out of the darkness, and back into the light of “normalcy”. It was a tough go. But I made a conscious decision, that was critical (in my opinion) to my eventual success… I shared my problem.
I told friends, family and co-workers that I was having a tough time, and was struggling with depression. I took my boss aside, and let him know that I was having a tough time. I relied on my wife more than I usually do. And the thing that surprised me, was the steady stream of those same folk, who, privately, would come up, one by one, and confide that they were going through the same thing… but alone, privately and isolated… and how great it was to have someone to talk to.
They rarely did… but they benefited from the knowledge that they were not alone in their struggles.
A few years later, I worked with an Organization helping parents of kids with eating disorders to understand their children’s journey… and the most impactful lesson I came out of that endeavor with, was their catch phrase: “You Are Not Alone”… which is why I wrote this song.
So, to ask if talking about something makes it better ? Certainly… Undoubtedly… Absolutely… Yes.
It does not make it go away… Only the strength of a society where bullying is unacceptable can stop that.
But the first step is talking about it.
And so today, I wear a pink shirt… and I talk about it.
Various sources have been nattering on at me about Nathan Fillion, for a long time.
A while back, there was a promotion at a store, where I got a free Castle Season 1 DVD.
As a mid-season replacement, the Castle TV Show came in, with a short season.
Being sick with a cold, I blasted through those ten shows in a mini-marathon that left me wanting more.
For those unfamiliar, Castle is the story of Richard Castle, a mystery writer, who, feeling there are no surprises left with his detective character, kills him off… but then is struck with writer’s blocks. As the book is published, Castle is drawn into a “real-life” murder, where the victims are killed in manners that resemble those in his books. In this way, Castle meets Detective Kate Beckett, and upon successfully concluding the case, Castle asks the Mayor (a fan of the writer) to be allowed to continue “tagging along” with Detective Beckett and her team, under the guise of research, but also because the lead characters are developing feelings for one another.
If you are a fan of smart-aleck, Rockford Files-type crime dramas where the character is startled and offended when punched, this is right up your alley.
I didn’t find it surprising to find out that one of the show-runners called Stephen J Cannell “Uncle Steve”
If you haven’t discovered Castle, you should check it out !!!
It being Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, it seemed like an appropriate time to “take stock” and give thanks.*
Thanks to the weatherman, for the sunshine, and for making us believe it is August in October.
Thanks to Mom Nature, for giving me a reason (and the option) of going outside to rake up crunchy leaves and breathe in the fresh, warm air.
Thanks to Lorie’s family for sharing wonderful meals and evenings of fun, warmth and laughter.
Thanks to my family for always being there, even when they’re not right here.
Thanks to friends (both IRL and online) for their friendship, thoughts, debates, discussions and (on this weekend) good wishes.
Thanks to my clients, who took a chance on a one-guy start-up, and trusted both my opinions and my work ethic.
Thanks to my partners, for trusting me with their projects and ideas.
There are many others, who I thank for the value and richness they bring to my life.
But mostly, I thank my sweetie for being my best friend, and always being able to laugh, even when the wind is blowing a gale.
Hope everyone has a great (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend !!!
* The list isn’t complete, but heavily influenced by the last 24 hours and two beers that went down FAR too quickly. : )
Today is Pride Day in a lot of cities.
I am not a member of the LGBTQ community, but I talk about it a lot, because (in my opinion) the more things are discussed… the more they become accepted and “normal”.
A new, wonderful and inclusive normal.
My parents always taught us to never judge or disparage someone because they were different from us, but to value each person for what they offer.
I’m not going to the Pride Parade, but I have Gay and Lesbian friends who I appreciate and love, and I celebrate the rainbow flag today with them, and share it with you.
Happy Pride Day !!!
Come with rain. O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
make the settled snowbank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate’er you do tonight,
bath my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit’s crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o’er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out of door.
– Robert Frost –
Thank you to the Vancouver Canucks for a great season, and the fun of the playoffs. We didn’t get as far as anyone in Vancouver had hoped… but as always, we believe, and we look forward to next year. We are ALL Canucks.
I have suffered from depression.
I was one of the lucky ones… I was able to get help, and with support… came out the other side.
Some are not so lucky.
May 27th, 1993 was the first time I lost someone I knew to suicide.
Her name was Cheryl, and she worked with me.
This week, a friend lost his son to those same demons.
A lot of us have fought the battle.
The internal voices are very loud, and the concern of “anyone finding out” is always there.
The thought that “I’m MORE flawed, than everyone else.”
We’re ALL flawed.
By our very nature… we are HUMAN.
But each of us carries the burden that OUR journey is unique, that we are the only ones who have ever trodden the path we are on, that we are having a singularly unique experience, where no one has previously trodden.
Everyone is just afraid to talk about it.
Screw the stigma…
I’ve had depression, and it sucked… and I hope it doesn’t come back… but if it does, I have the support of my family and friends… and together we will get through it.
You are NOT alone…
Here is a song I wrote about eating disorders, which can also be applied to the stigma of Mental Health Issues.
Happy Valentine’s Day !!!
Today, as we share the joys and love… might be a good time to give a gift of something new and different. A microloan… For instance, a Kiva Gift Card.
You donate $25 to a person somewhere in the world… (you choose who, through the Kiva projects list) … and they get a hand up, with starting or expanding their business.
For all those of us who really don’t “need” anything, it is a great way to share and show the love !!!
Hope you have a great Valentine’s Day !!!
Protests and creating awareness can take a lot of different forms.
From the “Occupy” folk, who physically place themselves into a place to draw attention… to changing an everyday item to reach and create a grassroots awareness.
Neither is “better”, each is effective in its own way.
Last night I came across a very subtle way of drawing attention to an issue.
A way of LITERALLY making change.
They were sparkly shiny loonies, as the cashier had just broken open a new roll of coins.
I thought it was a very clever, well conceived and well executed concept.
It was, in a word… Slick!
This morning, I had a flashback to my Elementary School days. I never particularly cared for school, as I was a shy, unathletic, short, scrawny glasses-wearing kid, and until my teens, when I started doing Judo, and working a job, was one of the skinniest rail-thin young boys.
But, while watching The Rosie Show this morning, hearing Kathy Griffin talk about being bullied in school, I suddenly remembered my own ugly memory from my school days, that I had blocked out, and completely forgotten.
I can’t remember if it was the end of Grade One or early in Grade Two… but I was old enough to walk to school on my own. (There was a major road and a set of train tracks that didn’t have stop lights, that had to be crossed, between my Parent’s house, and the School.) An older boy in Grade Six, suddenly started harassing me on my way to and from school. As my best friend had, the summer before, moved away, I was suddenly walking to school on my own… and encountering a bully.
He didn’t want my lunch. He didn’t want me to do his homework. I had nothing he wanted… other than the power I gave him, when his towering, imposing presence, blocked my way and caused me to cringe and draw back in fear. He wanted to enjoy and exploit my fear.
After a week or so, of his attention, before and after school, I was a wreck. I feigned illness, and pulled it off for one day. But, on the second day… my Mum called me on it, and asked me what was REALLY going on. It took a while, but she eventually drew out of me what had been going on, and why I didn’t want to go to school any more. By this time, it was mid morning, and I was well and truly wrung out. She could see that I was exhausted, after talking about it, and I now remember her tucking me back into bed, and falling immediately asleep. When I woke up a few hours later, I buried my concern by diving into a book. My Mum didn’t talk to me about the bullying, any further, when she brought me a sandwich for lunch… and I was happy to avoid dealing with the real world, by immersing myself in the inventive and problem-solving world of Tom Swift.
Later that afternoon, before my Dad came home, my Mum came into my bedroom, and sat down on my bed. She had gone to the school, had confronted the boy, and he wouldn’t be bothering me any more. She said he had made up a story about me beating up his brother, and that he was doing it to teach me a lesson… (My mother was well aware that I was the smallest child in the class, smaller than all the boys and most of the girls, and physically unable to beat up anyone) … but she, perhaps to protect my ego, asked me if there was any truth to his story, and I assured her there was not.
My Mum was a thin, short woman… I have no doubt much shorter than the bully. I have no idea how she found him, and I never asked her… I just took her at her word, and she was right. He never did bother me again, and in Elementary or High School, I never had to face another bully.
I was lucky. I confided in an adult, the situation got resolved… pretty quickly.
We are coming up on Pink Shirt Day – (February, 29, 2012) – A day of awareness about Bullying – whether it takes place in schools, workplaces, in our homes or online.
Something that seems huge and appears to be an insurmountable problem can, frequently, with the benefit of a little time and perspective, be approached differently. But you can often only gain that perspective by talking to someone… preferably someone older.
Like the bullying campaign says: It gets better.
But for it to get better, we ALL have to talk about it… and be as strong for those being bullied, as my Mum was for me.
Face down the Bullies, and talk about it.
(Here is the Rick Mercer Rant, talking about Gay Teens being bullied)