Do We Have the NFL Domestic Violence Situation Wrong?

I want to start out being very clear about a couple of  things.  I think the NFL has handled these recent situations poorly.  I think if there is clear evidence, and there has not been any yet, of a coverup or an intentional lack of action, then there needs to be consequences for everyone involved.   I also abhor what the accused abusers have done.   That being said, I have questions if the overall reaction to the situation is actually productive.  These are just questions I am pondering.  I don’t proclaim to have the right or wrong answer.  As a prior victim of physical and emotional domestic violence, I just am not sure the public flogging is actually a solution or a deterrent.

 All over the internet, on my Facebook wall and in my Twitter stream, I am seeing people placing blame on the NFL.  I have lost count of the number of people who have now vowed to no longer watch the NFL.  Major corporations like Budweiser are calling out the NFL to get its house in order.   While everyone is entitled to their opinion and to take the action that their moral compass calls them to take, again, I am left wondering if the reaction is really productive to the underlying problem.

 My first question is why does it take professional football players getting caught and/or accused of domestic violence to get everyone in an uproar.  Do people really believe that the only perpetrators of domestic violence are professional athletes?  As a domestic violence victim, I can tell you it is more likely to be your next door neighbor, the guy or gal that serves your coffee or your accountant.  So why is it that so many of the people who are throwing stones at the NFL and the accused players now, are the same ones who will look away at a parent screaming at their child in the store or avert their eyes and not ask any questions when a coworker or employee flinches when you get too close or has “walked into a door” or “fallen down the steps” way too often?

My second question is why do we want to punish the NFL (NOTE: disclaimer above re: a cover-up).  They are an employer, just like every other business out there.  Why do we not hold the local grocery store or major tech giant to the same standard?  Why are we not creating an outcry that they also have a domestic violence policy and strictly enforce it?  Are we holding the NFL, and athletes in general, to a higher moral standard then we would hold any other company and its employees?   Why is it ok for any other business/employer to not do anything, but not the NFL?  What about the NHL, the MLB or any other professional sports organization?  What about any business or non-profit or school or religious organization?  Are we going to boycott any organization or business that does not have a domestic violence policy or does not enforce it?  Are we going to hold a business responsible when one of its employees hits his wife or spanks his child? 

I have worked for a lot of companies, large and small.  I have been an upper level manager at most of them. None of them has ever had a specific domestic violence policy.  Some of them have had ethics and moral clauses in the work agreements.  Some of them have had voluntary counseling programs.  I have had to have discussions with HR departments about employees that I was confident were being abused or being abusers.  Other than intentionally vaguely worded discussions about counseling that was available if there might be a situation where they felt they needed help, nothing was ever done and my hands were tied from doing anything more.  So why are we holding the NFL to a different standard then we would hold any other large corporation?  And don’t delude yourself into believing it is anything more than a corporation.   It is a business entity that employees thousands of people.  Boycotting the NFL will have limited impact on the individual players who are abusers.  They will be individually impacted by their suspensions, dismissals from teams, loss of endorsements and appropriate legal action.  Causing the NFL to have a reduction in income will have a lot of impact on hundreds of innocent people who rely on it for their livelihoods.  Are we then going to hold the NFL responsible for the coach or locker room janitor that also hits his wife?  Or is the high profile of the players the only “job” worthy of blaming their “employer”?   Yes, the NFL needs to do some serious self-examination and likely make some changes.  It needs to start looking very closely at its processes, procedures and policies to allow for early intervention in even suspected cases.   But if we expect that of the NFL, shouldn’t we expect the same thing of all businesses?

It is good thing that the conversation about domestic violence has once again rose to prominence, but why does it take situations like these to make that happen?  Why is it not an everyday discussion?  The reality is that we will not wipe domestic violence, or any form of violence, from the face of the earth.  It is a sad reality, but it is the reality.  I would be a hypocrite if I did not admit that I spanked my kids when they were little.  I can count on one hand how many times. I also had very strict self-imposed guidelines for when they were spanked.  It was always only with my bare hand, over clothing or diapers and always with fair warning that if the behavior that was getting them in trouble  continued, that would be the consequences.  That quick light swat across their bottoms got their attention when nothing else would. I rarely ever had to do it.   Would I do it again under the same circumstances?  Probably not, but I am also older and wiser and it is easy to say that in hindsight.

 The only thing we can do is to educate men and women from the earliest age that hitting out of anger or frustration or mentally abusing anyone, especially the ones you love, is NEVER an option.  That message has to come from everyone a child comes in contact with – parents, teachers, coaches, friends, family, the media, role models and society in general,  but especially their parents.  Domestic violence will not be reduced or “solved” until the messages are directed at individuals, not businesses, that there are other options and there is help available.

As a side note and just out of curiosity, does anyone know if Radisson, Nike or Budweiser or any of the other companies who have cancelled endorsement deals, sponsorships or partnerships have domestic violence policies, what they are and how strictly they are enforced?

Release your inner Superhero

There is a Superhero inside all of us.  

Yes, all of us.

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The problem is that we often forget that we have superpowers.   We go through life dealing with our day to day lives, occasionally having moments of what we, or society, consider greatness and ignoring that everything we do when we positively impact someone else or the world is the act of a Superhero.

We forget that the greatest superpower anyone can possess is the ability to help those around us.  Sometimes we do those things in big ways, most often they are in small ones.

There is a running joke among my friends that my “superpower” is connecting people.  It took a while for that to sink in as a reality, but once it did, I was blown away.  I am able to impact the lives of those around me and, sometimes through those connections and what they produce, impact the world.  That really is a superpower and I feel incredibly blessed that it is mine.  I am fortunate, it comes naturally, without a second thought and with no expectation of anything in return.   There are a lot of things I am good at, but this, this one thing, this ability to see the hidden connections between people and bring them into the light and together… that is a superpower.

So what is yours?  What is the one thing that comes naturally, almost without thought, that makes a positive impact on the world around you?  Are you a writer whose words spur people to be better or gives them a respite from everyday life by entertaining them?  Are you a baker whose cookies put a smile on the face of all those around you?  Are you a photographer whose pictures show others the wonder in our world?   Are you the one who mows his elderly neighbor’s grass?  The one who leads a Girl/Boy Scout troop helping guide our young people?  Are you a teacher, a nurse, a firefighter, a police officer, a service member – Now there are some real Superheroes! Or are you just you?  Perfectly imperfect you who does his/her best every day to make the world a slightly better place.

At the end of the day, whatever “costume” we put on, that is who we are.  And inside You is a Superhero.  Inside you is a superpower with the ability to change the world.  Sometimes we have to dig deep or rely on those around us to help us find it, but it is there.  So what is your superpower?

 

Photo credit:  Thanks Vocus for the shirt! 
What a great reminder to nurture my inner Superhero!

Musings as I head into my 50th year…

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Yes, I turn 49 on October 4th…yes, this is the beginning of my 50th year of life… now that the space time continuum question is out of the way… on to my random musings.

As the last month of my 49th year begins, I find myself pensive and thoughtful.  I look back on the last 49 years. Those years are a road of high hills and deep valleys, superfast freeways and country dirt roads.   IMG_1937

While there are many emotions that go through me thinking back on these years, the overwhelming emotion is thankfulness for every moment.  No, they were not all good, and at times, neither was I, but I can say overall, it has been and continues to be a life well-lived.

There are so many things I am thankful for that I can never list them all, but these…these are the things at the top of my mind as I let my mind wander through the last 49 years…

– The 2 greatest blessings in my life, my sons. From their entry into this world till this moment, they have been the one thing that makes me know there is a God who loves us because He entrusted me with these two miracles.  I have not been a perfect mother, a lot of times not even a good one, but the unconditional love and the joy of being a parent to these amazing young men are the greatest gifts and biggest lessons I have ever been given.  DSC04778

– Having experienced deep, broken to the core heartache because it allowed me to finally learn what true love, commitment, forgiveness, passion & partnership are really all about.  As I venture once more into the chasm of risking my heart, it is with a gladness that I have learned these lessons, experienced this sadness and despite it all have not closed my heart to the potential of love.

– My family who has always been there, often when I least deserved it and despite my distancing myself from them for years. It is only now, as I get older, that I truly appreciate the lessons learned in this wonderfully dysfunctional, crazy, full of love & laughter big family of mine.

– Learning courage…it took almost 40 years to really learn courage and another 7+ to learn how to appropriately apply & direct it constructively instead of selfishly & short-sightedly. The courage to take risks and build a life that I wanted and to be the person I know was in there but was afraid to show the world.

Landmark and Amy who persistently nudged me to experience it.  The transformation I experienced was so profound it goes beyond words, other then to say, I finally learned how to be comfortable in my own skin and to be the fullest, truest, most authentic version of myself.  Other then my children, possibly the greatest gift I have ever been given.

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– My friends…if I tried to list you all and all the things you have brought and  continue to bring into my life, I might crash the internet.  Most of you are like      family. Many of you are my own personal board of directors (and you probably don’t  even know it). Some of you are merely people who have crossed my path  momentarily. All of you left a lasting imprint on my life.

Because I have received the incredible blessing of so many wonderful people In my  life, I have decided that each day, from October 1st until my 50th birthday on Oct 4,  2015, I am going to publicly say Thank You to a person or group of people who I am honored to call my friends.

– My superpower – connecting people. I can not remember who it was that first coined this as my superpower, but it is such a blessing that it can not be something naturally occurring.  I feel so blessed and grateful every day that I am able to help others by connecting them with someone who can help or enrich their lives.

– Rediscovering the written word.  I had lost my words for a long time… the ability and time to read for both work and pleasure; the joy and release of taking the words that swirl in my head and put them to paper or keyboard.  I have finally rediscovered my words, have made time to read, am slowly putting my thoughts to paper…it feels good to have found my words again.

Now, as my 50th year starts…I’m ready to walk in the sunshine and write the next chapter…

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To the 1980’s Students of Zama High School…

Maybe it is that moving constantly has taught us to cram more – fun, laughter, friendship, love, affection and heartbreak…  into a short period of time…
Maybe it is that distance and time can really make the heart grow fonder…
Maybe it is the comfort of finally being around other people who understand our nomadic, yet oh so, structured life…

Maybe it is that military life reinforces for us how short life can really be and there is no room or time to continue through life with anger, grudges & cliques…
Maybe it was just magic…some kindly old witch saw the promise in us and cast a spell to bind us together always…

Maybe it was something in the water … or the greasy burgers at the Roach Coach…

Or maybe, just maybe, it is just that we were blessed to be in the right place at the right time, with the most wonderful people…

Words and the Superbowl

Yes, the Superbowl last night was lackluster and with few exceptions (RadioShack, Budweiser’s Puppy Love, Coca-Cola and Cheerios were my favorites) the ads were meh.  As usual, my Twitter stream was probably the most interesting thing I was watching.  Usually quiet during a sporting event, even my Facebook wall seemed to be actively following both the game and the ads.  Then I started to get disgusted.  Early in the game a ton of memes, tweets and posts started showing up making fun and saying some pretty nasty things about Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Yes, it is a sporting event and yes, some good natured ribbing and trash talking will happen. The problem for me is that some of the comments were just downright petty, mean and derogatory.  Yes, Peyton and the Broncos had a bad night, a really bad night, but the fact is they got to the Superbowl.  There is a certain amount of respect due to players who work incredibly hard to reach the pinnacle of their profession.  And yet, here we were, we armchair quarterbacks, saying and publicly posting some really nasty stuff because they were having a bad night.

At one point I posted this on Twitter and Facebook

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I got several responses, most of them private, essentially telling me to lighten up, it is just sports, it is just entertainment.

That was when I got really disgusted.  It is not just sports.  It is the example we give our kids.  Coaches teach child athletes sportsmanship.  Or at least they are supposed to. But what about the non-athletes or the kids who are only ok? What message are we sending to them?  That if someone is not good enough or is having an off day, it is ok to make fun of them?

Kids learn what they hear and observe, not always what we say. They learn how to think and behave based on what the adults around them do and say.  Whether it is making fun of Peyton Manning because he is having a bad ballgame or the racist tirades that were happening over the Coca-Cola or Cheerios ads (that is a rant for another day), kids will copy what they see and hear us doing.

We think that our little memes, jokes and comments, whether it is about sports, the color of someones skin, their ethnicity, sexuality, female or male bashing, whatever, are just “harmless entertainment”. We forget that kids are observing and listening and thinking that kind of behavior is acceptable.

We are all guilty of it, myself included, at one point or another.   I just wish we would all start being more conscious of how our words and actions are observed by and reflected in the young people around us.

What are we teaching kids about sportsmanship and life in general? That you make fun of the ones who are not as good or are having an off day or are different?

I walk because I can not walk away…

First, THANK YOU to everyone who has already donated! You are angels!

9-25-2013 UPDATE:  Only $225 to go! 

I am $505 away from the $2300 I need to raise for the walk and I could use your help.

This is my 9th year walking.  The 9th year that i have pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of physically, mentally and emotionally. 9 years that I have given my all in support of the women and men who have breast cancer and to try and help prevent more from getting it.

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I am sure that some of you will have reservations about donating to this cause. I will be perfectly honest and transparent that based on recent events, I have some reservations also. But this is a commitment I made long before the questions arose.   It also does not change the fact that there are people struggling with this disease and your donation can help make that struggle easier.  It can be the little extra needed for research to prevent this terrible disease.  It can the little bit that makes a difference in someone’s life.

I have said this many times, but it is no less true now.  Other than having had my children, this walk, these 3 days, these 60 miles are the most rewarding thing that I have ever done. All 9 times. I walk in memory of my mother and other wonderful women that I have lost.  I walk in celebration of the survivors.  I walk in solidarity with all the women facing the prospect of possibly having this disease.  I walk so that my nieces and the young women that I love may never have to face the prospect of dealing with breast cancer.

I walk because I can not walk way.

So please, I am asking for your help to reach my goal. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you!

Gloria

Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day

I’ve been there…have you?

Suicide…

something not easy to talk about, but it is in being silent that we lose our ability to prevent it.

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This is a post about my experience, but more so about something even more important – How we can help others who feel hopeless and helpless.  So, please bear with me while I tell my story.  Then I promise to get to the part where I tell you how YOU can make a difference.

I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager.  Maybe even before that.  There have been many times throughout my life that I felt hopeless.  That it felt like there was little in life to live for. When just functioning normally through the day was a struggle that seemed too heavy a burden.

I have always been fortunate to have wonderful people in my life who were able to pull me through those moments.  Often without even realizing that was what they were doing.  They were just there, loving me, caring for me, taking care of me.  Then there came the day (well, night actually) when even the people who cared about me didn’t matter.  Yes, that is a harsh statement but it is true. I had hit rock bottom.  The point where the pain of being me even outweighed how much I loved the people in my life.  The night I decided I could not wake up even one more time.   I said my goodbyes… sending emails to treasured friends asking them to please take care of each other and my children…and I took an action intended to put me to sleep and not let me wake.  Fortunately, it did not work.  Friends rescued me and made sure I got the help I needed.  That moment changed my life for the better.  It gave me a new perspective.  Does this mean I don’t still have down moments? No.  It just means that I know how important having someone to talk to, someone to get you through those crucial moments can be.

The Kristin Brooks Hope Center and IMAlive.org provide just that.  IMAlive volunteers have talked several thousand hopeless people off the proverbial ledge by supporting them through their most desperate moments.   The online crisis chat is currently available most hours of the day but to be truly effective, they need to be available all hours of the day and night.

On September 10th, National Suicide Prevention Day, the Kristin Brooks Hope Center is hosting the first IMAlive 24-7 Giving Day.  People across the country are raising $50,000 to fund 24-7 service of the IMAlive.org online crisis chat.

How can you help?  Donate.  Fundraise. Spread the word. Form a team and compete in the fundraising challenge.  All of the above!  Check the link for more information on how you can make a difference.

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Help IMAlive.org save lives.  Help them be there to help someone through that hopeless moment of terror.  

 
Disclaimer: The Kristin Brooks Hope Center and IMAlive.org are clients.