Author Archives: Rainey

Fill your life with experiences not things (or Facebook)!

Last week I allowed the boys to spend their entire first week staring at their video games.   Epic mom fail alert!  The whites of their eyes started to get bloodshot!   Summer is here!

We have friends visiting from Sweden and on the first day, their young children woke up, had breakfast and ran outside.  Mine slept in and later grabbed their game controllers.  I had to ask myself some difficult questions.  Why did I think it was OK to leave them to their own devices just because my boys are older?  Older doesn’t necessarily mean they engage in productive activities, it simply means they are easier to ignore.   Truth!

When they were younger it was absolutely imperative that I plan outings.  Trips to the park, trips to the pool or outdoor activities drawing with chalk and riding their bikes were a daily occurrence.  As they got older they started to bicker, push back and drag themselves slowly out of bed.   At the same time I simply got tired of planning things and literally FIGHTING them to put on their bathing suits or get out of bed.  I GAVE UP!

I had to sit down and explain that to truly “live,” you had to fill your time up with experiences, not things.  We surprised Ryan with a birthday trip to NYC and we shut down Max’s iPad for the first time yesterday.  Ryan can’t stop talking about N.Y. and Max beat his mom, yours truly, at Monopoly and couldn’t stop smiling.  I casually left some other board games out and caught Ryan playing SORRY! with his friend later that evening.  The trampoline was cleaned off and the boys went outside and wound up gazing up at the sky and talking for a couple of minutes before it started to rain.

There’s a greater lesson here.  How many times are you on Facebook in one day?  How many times do you look at your phone?   Experiences in life are what makes you grow as a person.  Technology is really great but can also encourage you to be a passive observer in your own life.

It’ summer!  Let’s fill our time up with experiences so that we have stories to tell, not videos to post or stuff to show.   This message is for all of us, those with children and those without children.  Have an adult college student?  He or she needs to get a job.  That’s the activity you plan with that child!

Today the kids have plans to go to the pool with a friend and I’m heading off to the dementia care home.

Go out and LIVE.

 

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Should you watch “13 Reasons Why?”

A scene from “13 Reasons Why” on NETFLIX

I just finished watching the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” a story about a young girl who commits suicide and leaves behind cassette tapes that detail how several “friends” and circumstances contributed to her decision to take her own life.  The series is based on a book with the same title.  There have been many comments about this series, some say that it glamorizes suicide and that it may be tricky or dangerous for your teen to watch.  Others say it opens up important dialogue and serves as an eye opener for parents and young adults.    Both assessments are true.  The series is graphic and depicts one horrible occurrence after another.  We’ve all been through our school years but the events in her life just go on and on.  It’s painful to watch in more ways than one.  If you are a parent or grandparent, this post is definitely one you should be interested in.

Should you watch this series?  I would say YES if you have a young tween or teenager in your life that may have even already watched this series or has access to Netflix.  What about your teen?  Should you let your teen watch this series?  I can’t answer that for you but I can tell you how I reacted and encourage you to view the season in its entirety beforehand.

After finishing the series I felt sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t stop talking about the plot to my husband and I felt dark, depressed and beyond sad.  I wanted to cry.  I’m an extremely sensitive soul so the end result of this series was despondency.  I can’t  even imagine how a sensitive and self-conscious teen would feel watching the same series.  If your son or daughter is facing a difficult situation in school, I fear that those feelings would only intensify after watching this story unfold.  For others, getting the message that it MATTERS how you treat others is a good one.  However, if your son or daughter is struggling or sensitive, I can see why reviewers show concern.  Our kids already know that school can suck.  This isn’t news to them.  Getting ugly confirmation after ugly confirmation, episode after episode can be soul crushing for many struggling teens.  They may see themselves in Hannah.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

This series brought a flood of school memories back.  I remember the bullies, the drug dealers, the boy who committed suicide and two kids who lost their lives to cancer.  I remember the girl in my dorm who was raped by Joe Cool and who disappeared quietly without any of us paying any attention.  There were girls cutting themselves, perverts exposing themselves and awkward and lonely children that no one helped.  Bullies were plentiful and usually came from broken and abusive homes.   I remember thinking that I could not wait to get the HELL out of school.

And after watching that series today I was in tears.  The fact of the matter is that there is pain all around us.  My parents probably knew some of these stories but they definitely did not know all of them.  Neither will we.  It’s worse for our children.  Our children are exposed 24/7 through technology.  We could go home but our children can not get away from it all.  Our children are under assault by social media.

Technology has brought a new dynamic to our children’s’ world and that dynamic cannot be underestimated.  As we allow our kids to go on Snapchat, Instagram and play with their smart phones continuously, we also open them up to a magnification of bullying and difficulties that can sometimes occur during those difficult teen years. They don’t have any reprieve.   Please do not dismiss the need for some peace and downtime.  Kids leave school and they are still exposed through their phones until they go to sleep.   Loudoun County has already had four suicides this year and the counselors, teachers and parents are at a loss for how to handle the ongoing tragedy in our neighborhoods.

“13 Reasons Why” is worthy of binge watching but I suggest you watch the series in its entirety before your child watches it, although many tweens have already done so.  I also would consider very carefully the type of child you have before exposing them to this story.  I believe it could make a teen who is already struggling feel even more sadness and hopelessness while at the same time, lead other teens to understand why empathy and giving a shit is more important than popularity.  The series does not suggest ways of getting help and exposes our teenagers to many graphic scenes, ones that should be a bit restricted in nature.

The creators of this series have signed up for a season 2.  As parents we must keep open a dialogue with our kids and pay attention to the world around them.  Ask them the hard questions.  Who are the bullies?  Are there drugs in the schools?  Do they see anyone suffering alone?  You may be surprised by their answers, especially if these questions are indirect and encourage dialogue.  Share with them ways to get help or how to give a lifeline to a friend in need.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433. Both are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Should you watch “13 Reasons Why?”  Perhaps, if only to keep up with the culture that surrounds our children and to start a conversation that more of us need to have with the ones we love.

My struggle with myself and anxiety.

In the last couple of years I have had quite a few changes in my life.  My husband is in the middle of a job transition, I am turning fifty, and I’ve started to suffer debilitating anxiety attacks while driving.   I’ve viewed these as three separate situations in my life until recently.  I now believe that my truth is a bit more complex than I had originally thought.

While discussing my anxiety with my mother, it came to light that she too started to suffer from panic attacks at my age.  There seems to be a link between hormonal chaos and anxiety.  My lucky husband!  First PMS and now this!  I have found numerous articles on the subject but of course my gyn/doctor says there’s no relation and suggested an antidepressant.  I declined her offer, not because I believe antidepressants do not help people, but because my symptoms were quickly dismissed. I’m also the kind of person who not only sees the glass as half full, but I also see sparkles in the water.   I don’t want to jump on medication as my answer without further investigation.

What do I mean by anxiety?  What were my symptoms? Continue reading

I AM….Two of the most powerful words in midlife.

 

In my childhood I was naive.  In my teen years I was insecure and a bit of a brat towards my parents.  My college years consisted of chaos and some education mixed in.  In my twenties I defined my adult identity but rushed it and would up married with a baby and unsure of my place in life.  In my thirties I was a divorced single mom.  In my forties I was mother to three, a wife and career minded.   This year I turn fifty and I am actively considering the new me.  I am trying to finish the phrase “I am.”

50! Continue reading

Dear bathing suit designer:

Bathing suits of yesteryear. Comfort for all!

Bring back bathing suits for strong and confident women.  The ones that encourage us to run on the beach and embrace every phase of womanhood instead of making us focus on picking dental floss out of our ass cheeks.   I once read a blog post entitled “how to wear a bikini.”  The post said “step one: buy a bikini.  step two: put it on.”  This is easier said than done with the options you provide us.

I have bathing suit envy.  The other day I went shopping with my husband for a bathing suit.  He bought a nice pair of Hurley board shorts.  They look extremely comfortable, tie at the waist and then go down to the knee.  In fact, he also purchased a matching sun shirt.  I would look AMAZING in that!  You know what I don’t look amazing in?  Your stupid bathing suit designs. Continue reading

The legacies you leave behind.

Two days ago I had a vivid dream.  I was walking through my grandparents home in Pennsylvania.  My  grandfather was cooking bacon and eggs at the stove.  He had a percolator of fresh coffee heated and ready to drink.  I could feel the love in the house, see the sunlight streaming through the kitchen window, feel the floor beneath my feet, and could smell the scent of my grandparents in the air.  Suddenly, they vanished.  I started to mourn and exclaim out loud that “I just wanted to say goodbye!”  I woke up feeling my loss once again. Continue reading

Safety nets, letting go and the lessons we learn.

The sun had set and he and his friends were eight miles past Little Rock Arkansas on I-40.  They were eager to return home after a couple of days in Texas at SXSW.   Driving at what I can only assume was highway speed, the car’s tire popped.  One could say that the tire popped in the middle of nowhere since Little Rock was behind them, hundreds of miles of farmland were ahead of them and they were 800 miles away from home. Continue reading

Conversations about love, acceptance and my dog.

His blue eyes lit up as he gazed at my dog.   The twinkle in them was the first thing I noticed, followed by his friendly smile as my dog approached his chair.  Memories seemed to flood back to his brain as we spoke about how he once had a dog and how he just loved him.  He gently pet Cap, laughing and commenting on the softness of his fur and the attractiveness of his eyes.  Cap is a pet visitation therapy dog.  He visits elder-care homes, schools and other organizations that can benefit from the amazing bond between humans and animals.  Quite frequently he visits those affected by some form of dementia. Continue reading

I love all of the things that truly make you…well…you.

My dear friend, I want you to know that I only see “you.”  I’ve known you for years.   I knew you when you were fifty pounds lighter, ten pounds heavier, five pounds near your goal, and I’ve seen you in sun dresses, the skinny jeans, and the sweatpants.  You were married, you were divorced, you were single and you were pregnant. During all of those different times in our lives, all I’ve ever truly seen was “you.”   We are friends because of your smile, your positive attitude, the perspective you give me on life, your loyalty, your intellect, your dedication to your friends and family, your weird laugh and all of the truly important things that make you….you.   We are friends because we have laughed until we have cried, we have reassured each other, we have been honest with each other, we have said the easy things and the hard things to each other and at the core, we have truly “seen” each other.

I only see “you.”  The real you. Continue reading

Are you an organ donor?

Currently I am not registered as an organ donor.  For the first time in my life, I am seriously giving it some thought. In the last six months there have been two experiences that have touched me to the very depths of my soul.  The first experience was the loss of a teen in one of our local high schools.  His family’s willingness to donate his organs saved eight lives.  My second experience is happening right now with a dear friend who is waiting for a transplant.

How many people are waiting? Continue reading