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Relaxed blogging – myth or reality?

Relaxed blogging – myth or reality?

Is successful “simplified” blogging possible, or must all bloggers follow the all-powerful Gigantic Blogging Plan to be taken seriously?

When the world feels like it’s pressing in

When the world feels like it’s pressing in

The world has a way making us messy. Thankfully, with just a little effort and spontaneity, there is much we can wash away.

Flashback Friday – Truth about bullies

Flashback Friday – Truth about bullies

Last week, I posted The Truth About Bullying from the archives.  This week, I’m posting its follow-up, Truth About Bullies.  I hope you have a great weekend!


Last week, I posted about bullying and the need for parents to take the issue seriously. My husband and I sat down and had a long talk, and we examined the topic from several perspectives. In an effort to get to the problem’s source, he asked me a question that I can’t seem to shake:

How does a bully become a bully?

It’s a simple question with a tragically complicated array of answers, and I don’t pretend to know them all. But I have some ideas.

Most of us, in our formative years (and, if you’re like me, long after), struggle with selfishness and bossiness and self-control. However, I think relatively few of us instinctively humiliate or scare or hurt others in order to bring ourselves power. Behavior like that is either learned, or represents some sort of immature conclusion. This brings us to the shadow-ridden, ugly truth about the ways in which a bully is created.

When we (or our children) are faced with a bully, we don’t see his hurt – but on some level we perceive it. What would drive a child to harm or scare or shame another for their own gain?

Misguided revenge. Anger. Fear. Sadness. Loneliness. Rock-bottom self-esteem.

Over what? Maybe a horrible home life, or a high level of sensitivity, or perhaps it’s the result of having been bullied him or herself. Sadly, there are countless reasons. But the truth is that all of us, when backed into a corner physically or emotionally, we fight for our very lives. Our very self. Even if it means fighting the wrong person.

When we’re bullied, we are victims. But I would assert that bullies are victims, too – they’re just not our victims.

We don’t see the hurt. We see the meanness and the desire to inflict pain, and that’s hard to see past. But what if we did? What if we found it within ourselves to, for a moment, set aside our protective instincts and took a deeper look and asked some hard questions. Why is this person in such unimaginable pain that he or she would lash out at others? What if we knew the dark answer. Would that change things in any meaningful way?

Let me ask you this: if nothing changes for a bully, will that bully ever change? What if this bully received grace and understanding in favor of ridicule and exile?  I don’t have to be a trained psychologist to tell you with the utmost certainty that, without grace, that bully will (at best) never change and (at worst) grow increasingly worse. And the very fact that a bully is a bully tells me he’s not getting enough grace and understanding from…anywhere.

Now we’re getting to the hardest stuff. As parents (or as bullying victims ourselves), our instincts tell us to protect our children (or ourselves) above all else. It’s normal and natural and desirable to want to protect ourselves and our loved ones. It’s the natural order of things and our first responsibility. No question.

But does that have to be the end of it? Once we’ve gotten to the bottom of things, once we know the Who and the How and the When, once we’re aware and involved and our children are safe, can we not also reach out? Can we not also dig deep within ourselves and extend grace to the hurting, the injured, the lonely? Because that’s what these bully-kids are.

Injured.

Out of self-preservation, abused dogs snap – yet we rescue them. We give them love and time to heal, and many of them do. What more, then, could we do for children?

So the real question is not how is a bully made? It is: how does a bully recover?

Photo via Visual Hunt

Is pain necessary for art?

Is pain necessary for art?

Whenever tragedy strikes the world of arts and entertainment, my husband and I rehash an old, familiar debate:  Is pain necessary for art? 

On winters, disappointment and dead flowers

On winters, disappointment and dead flowers

Michiganders have a tremulous relationship with winters. By March, we’re disenchanted with the season and its charms – but maybe we’re giving up too soon?

On Sundays and the cons of raising chickens

On Sundays and the cons of raising chickens

Around here, Sundays are sort of sacred.  For our family, it’s an unwritten rule that we all get a 24-hour reprieve from many of our responsibilities.  Yes, I know the world has largely moved on from such antiquated ideas, but my husband and I believe humans still need a weekly day off.

Now, we’re not inflexible about this; if something needs doing, and it needs doing on a Sunday, we do it.

Like when the door to the chicken run falls off its hinges.

chickens
Speckles “Don’t Touch Me” the Chicken

When we began our chicken journey, a sweet widow gifted us with a 20-chicken coop and attached run (and Speckles, an ornery silver-laced Wyandotte)  The whole thing is sturdy, but old, and it’s seen two rather harsh winters at our house.  Yesterday, my son went out to “water the chickens,” and the run door wobbled and tumbled to the ground.  So, instead of exploring the Michigan Lavender Festival, my husband spent the day repairing the run.

This brings me to and update to one of my first posts, Why You Absolutely Need Chickens in Your Life, which was a list of pros.  I promised a list of cons, and it wasn’t until our door debacle that I felt compelled to write one.

So, without further ado, here is my personal list of chicken cons:

  • Coop and run maintenance – with any outbuilding, you’ll have maintenance.  Still, between painting and repair, I can’t see this taking up more than one or two days a year.
  • Coop cleaning – chickens are dirty.  A monthly coop-cleaning is vital.  Time spent:  1/2 hour per month.
  • Vacations – as in, be prepared to find a chicken-sitter.  Although chickens only require attention for a few minutes per day, this must occur every day.  For us, we recruit neighbors’ kids who enjoy the chickens (and earning a few extra bucks) as much as we do.
  • Playing veterinarian – chickens are hardy little creatures, but sometimes they get sick.  You must be willing to either become familiar with chicken symptoms, or box ’em up and take them to the vet. For us, my son (11) took it upon himself to check out several chicken books at the library. He is well-versed in…um…chicken medicine?  Enough to be able to discern whether or not we can handle the problem on our own.
    • This is our third year raising chickens, and we’ve only visited the country vet once.  We’ve had about four hens fall ill and, much like humans, they needed a little quiet, rest and relaxation before they were back to their spunky selves.
  • Predators – Hawks, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, possums.  This list sounds ominous, but awareness is key. So is a coop that locks.  Aside from hawks, the rest are night predators.  We’ve never lost a hen to a hawk; the girls always sound the alarm and run for cover.  As for the rest, the girls file into the coop just after sundown, and we lock the door NO LATER THAN dusk.
    • Full disclosure:  We lost three hens to a fox last year.  Foxes are smart, and this one showed up an hour before dusk.
    • We do what we can, but the truth is that chickens are at the bottom of the food chain, and they will always, to some degree, be hunted.  Best to accept that going in.
  •  Expense – Unless you are procuring a new coop and run; however, the expense is minimal.

I suppose we could add to the con list the sunburn my husband got on his nose yesterday when what he thought would be a quick-fix became a three-hour ordeal.  Or maybe that belongs on some other con list. The cons of sunshine?

Anyway, that’s my list of chicken cons.  For us, they’re far outweighed by the pros – even after they interrupted one of our precious Sundays.  If you’re considering raising chickens and you have any questions, feel free to contact me, or reference the Backyard Chickens website.