This was on my mind ...

Bloom365

I know these things seem unrelated but I don’t believe they are. They, too, feel like intractable problems but I don’t believe that either.

¨A man climbs into his car with his estranged wife and their children and drives them all into a lake.

¨An eight-year-old boy hangs himself after being bullied.

¨A man returns to his former workplace and starts firing at will.

¨A young woman kills her lover and herself when she finds the relationship is over.

¨A woman is beaten to death by her husband becoming one of the approximately 1800 women in the U.S. who die every year in a quiet, constant killing stemming from domestic violence.

¨A man walks into a public place and starts shooting. This act, once thought the sole dominion of the mentally ill and ideological terrorists, having become a part of the public consciousness has become a growing choice of the distraught.

¨A young man finds himself alone in the room with a powerful authority figure and ends up being groped.

These things appear far flung and unrelated. After all, mass shootings are individual bursts of horror we can’t anticipate.  Domestic violence is a private thing that we don’t see until the worst has already happened. Bullying is just how things go, a rite of passage as old as time. Sexual harassment and assault are the hallmark of a perverted few. They certainly have no common cause, no less a common solution.

Or do they?

I believe there is a shared thread that, if pulled, will unravel this tapestry of destructive behavior. These behaviors are, at their core, emotional outbursts or self-involved acts protected by cultural norms. Power, control, lack of empathy, low self-esteem, unhealthy gender norms: these are the Root Causes that underlie all of these things.

You put someone who suffers from a sense of powerlessness in the life a person with low self-esteem, you get controlling and abusive behavior. You tell a man obsessed with control that his wife is leaving and the odds of him killing her go way up.  Put a young man or woman alone in a room with a powerful person who lacks empathy you get unwanted sexual advances. Find someone who’s angry, isolated and feeling feeble expose him to the idea of killing en mass as a way to regain his power and you get … well, too many examples to list.

We are suffering from individual, yet continual, emotional catastrophes. We’re watching what happens when people become undone by their lack of power or a damaged sense of self.  We’re seeing the effects of a society estranged from one another lobbing ever-escalating emotional tirades at each other on line. All the while domestic violence continues flourish in the homes of those who struggle with issues of power and control.

Though it is almost impossible to predict these individual affective acts before they happen we can address the root causes in a way to make them less likely to occur.

If we change the way we deal with how we feel – if we re-evaluate and address cultural norms related to power and control – if we actively address our eroding sense of empathy for others we can uproot the causes of emotional upheavals that inspire both abuse and lethal outbursts.

I know, it sounds like a herculean task but we have faced and cleared such hurtles before. It occurs when we, as a society, decide we are going to change what we teach the next generation. There was a time when nobody wore seat belts. Now everybody does because of a conscious, targeted effort to make that that happen.  The same goes for smoking. We decided, as a society, to target a generation of young people to change habitual behavior and we succeeded.

We need to do that in an effort to address this emotional tsunami as well.

Enter http://Bloom365.org

BLOOM365’s vision is safe and healthy relationships for all. It seeks to address the root causes of abuse and violence early and with an entire generation. Bloom365 partners with K-12 schools and community based youth organizations to give young people the knowledge, skills and confidence to prevent abusive behaviors. And, through peer to peer mobilization, we activate young people to create and environment in which empathy, respect, kindness, consent, equality and peace are socially accepted norms.

 

We enter schools and deliver a seven-dose program over a several weeks in which we walk them through the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships. We allow them to challenge social norms that allow such behaviors to thrive. Then we leave with a Bloom Crew in place to re-inforce the new ideas we foster.

 

Bloom365 works. Its methodology has been studied and determined effective[1].  And it’s not only important because of the groundwork it lays for healthy relationships moving forward. It intervenes in real time for those children who are currently suffering from abuse or, equally important, showing signs of becoming an abusive person.

At every – not some – but every school we’ve been in we’ve run into teens in abusive relationships. Sometimes we are approached by victims who didn’t realize that what was happening to them was wrong. “Now I know,” one young lady said, “That my boyfriend should not be going through my closet telling me what I can and cannot wear.” Another said, “My boyfriend won’t let me have any friends and he won’t let me go anywhere without him. He said it was because he loved me so much. Now I see that’s not what it is.”

Bloom365.org doesn’t just help victims it also identifies potential perpetrators. One young man stood up during the program and said, “You know that empathy thing you’re talking about. Well, I don’t have any of that.” He’s a young man with whom we worked to bring him into the fold. Another said he was going to kill myself, the that guy that did that thing to him and everybody he told who didn’t believe him. He, too, was encircled and cared for.

Bloom365 is trying to affect cultural norms. We are trying to make the ongoing, conscious creation of an emotionally able, empathetic society the standard.  It should be something we all engage in as a part of basic education.

Is this a quick and easy answer? Will it stem the tide tomorrow? Are the results of our efforts easily quantifiable? The answer to these questions is a resounding no. But the absence of an easy fix, however, should not prompt us to simply shrug our shoulders and walk away.

Tomorrow’s casualty count, the next wave of #MeToo hashtags and the extent of our children’s exposure to domestic violence all depend on what we do today. Our success won’t be obvious but you can see the process at work. Who knows what the boy with the list may have done had we not caught him in time?  It’s just a story that did not happen. All of our victories will look like that.

It is a daunting but doable task and will only work if we all get on board. We should pursue this as if our lives depend upon it, because, if you think about it, one day, they might.

 

[1]

Ten Things I Learned in 27 years of Marriage

January 20, 2016

Ten Things I Learned in 27 Years of Marriage

Number 1:

I had more June Cleaver, Claire Huxtable genes than I thought. Nothing like love to make you feel oddly domestic in ways you swore you’d never do.

Number 2:

I don’t know where they got this from but I did not find that 2 can live a cheaply as one.

Number 3:

People have financial personalities. Savers gotta save. Spenders … have to get with the program.

Number 4:

A marriage will glide for a while but sooner rather than later you have to put your thrusters back on before you lose too much altitude.

Number 5:

A sense of humor is invaluable.

Number 6:

You never get to stop talking about it.  Ever.

Number 7:

Marriage counselors should be a go-to-whenever event, not a near-the-end-of–the-marriage event.

Number 8:

At some point you and your partner will find yourselves hanging on for dear life trying to survive the kids.

Number 9:

Number 8 can last a very long time … just sayin’.

DSC00352

“Hugging BigE”

Number 10

You know you’ve got the right guy when the both of you forget your wedding anniversary and both of you think it’s funny.

Today is a singularity

January 25, 2016

Photo on 11-28-14 at 10.19 AM #2

“Silly has Value”

Today is a singularity.

There will be other days.

For most, but not all of us, there will be a tomorrow.

But Today, this particular twenty-four hours is a one-time thing.

Once it’s gone you cannot get it back.

Of course, this idea is neither novel nor hard to grasp. Today and its singular nature happens everyday, which, in part, is the problem. Its regularity often obscures its singular nature. The very fact that there are so many Todays keeps us form realizing the immense value in any particular one.

And then there is the business of living that so often gets in the way. It is very easy to become consumed by every day emotional adventures. Traffic, bosses, schedules, children, waiting … it can be so constant and so immediate that it sucks up all of your attention. You can easily get overwhelmed by all the things you have to do just to get from one day to the next. You work, you handle problems and you put out fires. The business of living often leaves us feeling we have time for little else.

That said, I’d still like to make a plea for celebrating Today. To honor it doesn’t take much time and the benefits are enormous. There are a whole lot of different ways you can live any particular moment. Each one, in and of itself, is both an option and an opportunity.

You can fill it with worries despair or regret. You can spend it nursing old hurts and anger. You can zone out on the couch and binge watch your way into feeling nothing at all. Or you can take a moment, just one or two, and acknowledge the singularity that is Today. Then you can decide to do something special with it.

You can do one small thing that helps you achieve a dream you haven’t thought about in a while. Small acts in pursuit of a distant goal will get you there eventually. You can perform an unexpected act of care for someone you love. You can take a moment to care for yourself by entertaining a pleasant memory or get together with others who appreciate Today as well. Community, fellowship, support in general works wonders for all involved.

Valuing Today is all about taking the time to be grateful for it and doing something worthwhile in it. The context and meaning of your life is established from moment to moment. Don’t get so distracted by the day to day that those moments just slip away.

Forgiveness

January 30, 2016

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a peaceful thing. It neither excuses nor rationalizes. It just frees you from the emotional baggage of other’s wrongs.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person acknowledging their wrong. It’s all about how the person who has been wronged decides to feel about it. You forgive someone when you decide to let go of the hurt feelings the offense caused and no longer hold it against the other person.

The beauty of it is the other person isn’t involved. Forgiveness is YOUR POWER to take not theirs to give.

I know it is neither an easy nor instinctual thing to do but it’s a decision that you make about how you want to live. Do you want to hold on to an emotion that is doing you harm or are you going to let it go and be peaceful? It doesn’t mean you let people run over you but it does mean that you no longer volunteer to carry around the hurt caused by something that already occurred.

If you need to say your piece to that person before you let it go that’s cool. But if saying your piece will do more harm than good write it down on a piece of paper then tear it up. Let your feelings out and move on.

TO BE CLEAR, Forgiving isn’t re-living.

It doesn’t mean you keep letting people continue to treat you badly. Forgiving can be the period you put on a relationship that is not good for you. It allows you to move on without carrying any of the baggage they created on your back.

The Disposable Man Theory

February 1, 2016

The Disposable Man Theory

 

When I was 16, I thought men were disposable. . If one did anything I didn’t like, he was out. I disposed of them, regularly.

By 26, I thought men were indispensible. Wanted marriage and a baby. Not having one made me feel like a failure, fleetingly.

At 36 I had a husband, kids but in misguided effort to make the marriage seamless I lost my voice. My Disposable Man theory came back to bite me. I never learned to work things out with one. I was frustrated, increasingly.

By 46 I was unhappy and unheard. The constant calm I sought required endless one-sided compromise. I was resentful, relentlessly.

Here I am at 56, balanced and calm. I have an “Us Outlook” that doesn’t offend my Need 2 b me. I speak freely, compromise wisely. I am contented, completely.

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Bloom365

Posted by on Mar 11, 2018 in My Cause | No Comments

I know these things seem unrelated but I don’t believe they are. They, too, feel like intractable problems but I don’t believe that either. ¨A man climbs into his car with his estranged wife and their children and drives them all into a lake. ¨An eight-year-old boy hangs himself after being bullied. ¨A man returns […]

Ten Things I Learned in 27 years of Marriage

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in This was on my mind | No Comments

January 20, 2016 Ten Things I Learned in 27 Years of Marriage Number 1: I had more June Cleaver, Claire Huxtable genes than I thought. Nothing like love to make you feel oddly domestic in ways you swore you’d never do. Number 2: I don’t know where they got this from but I did not […]

Today is a singularity

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in This was on my mind | No Comments

January 25, 2016 “Silly has Value” Today is a singularity. There will be other days. For most, but not all of us, there will be a tomorrow. But Today, this particular twenty-four hours is a one-time thing. Once it’s gone you cannot get it back. Of course, this idea is neither novel nor hard to […]

Forgiveness

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in This was on my mind | No Comments

January 30, 2016 Forgiveness Forgiveness is a peaceful thing. It neither excuses nor rationalizes. It just frees you from the emotional baggage of other’s wrongs. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person acknowledging their wrong. It’s all about how the person who has been wronged decides to feel about it. You forgive someone […]

The Disposable Man Theory

Posted by on Feb 21, 2018 in This was on my mind | No Comments

February 1, 2016 The Disposable Man Theory   When I was 16, I thought men were disposable. . If one did anything I didn’t like, he was out. I disposed of them, regularly. By 26, I thought men were indispensible. Wanted marriage and a baby. Not having one made me feel like a failure, fleetingly. […]