Living Like Luna Lovegood

Luna LovegoodI have long loved the Harry Potter series. And thankfully, it’s a love that both of my children have absorbed and made their own. Of course I love Hermione and Ron and Harry for their wonderful personalities and growth and just plain awesomeness. But my favorite character (other than my deep appreciation for Snape) is Luna Lovegood. I’ve been reminded, of late, of why I appreciate her character so much. And despite what my sisters and close friends might think, it’s not just her keen fashion sense.

On the one hand, Luna accomplishes what so many of us pretend to achieve. 23bf7f798885b5a00cab4f8d6a4f5bedAs author J.K. Rowling says, Luna actually doesn’t give a damn what others think of her. But it’s not just that. Not caring about others’ opinions of oneself can create a callous and cruel personality. Luna is truly confident. She doesn’t have to put others down in order to feel better about herself. She does her own thing and just accepts that some, many, even all may not like it or feel comfortable with it.

In addition, she is accepting of others. And that’s where so many of us fall short. I know I do. Sometimes kindness and calm can be seen as weakness. But letting people be doesn’t mean you are a doormat. And letting people be doesn’t mean you accept their cruelty and callousness either. Challenging others to question their own actions is kindness. The character of Neville has this quality as well. Living by example is more powerful than a lecture or a rant. Asserting yourself in a kind manner is the strongest thing we can do. It’s difficult, and it challenges us to be honest with ourselves and the world. It opens us up to rejection as well as acceptance; both can be incredibly difficult to receive.

Let’s try harder.

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Domestic Violence and the Power of the Purse Strings

PurplePurse imageI am a member of the #PurplePurse team for an Essex County-based group known as Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates (SOFIA). We are fundraising to start a safe house for women and children leaving domestic violence situations. Please consider donating to the fundraiser through October 3rd, 2014.

A concussion. A black eye almost hidden by dark sunglasses. A broken finger. Bruises on the arm. These are some of the expected signs of physical abuse. What can be harder to grasp is the emotional abuse and grooming disguised as possessiveness and concern. Even less acknowledged is financial abuse. Those who have free access to a joint or exclusive bank account may be unable to empathize with the level of power one spouse can have over another when the purse strings are locked and controlled by an abuser. The recent questioning about why someone would choose to stay in an abusive relationship focused on supposed strength of character and fear rather than financial means. But money is of utmost importance, especially when children are involved.

The number one reason domestic violence survivors stay, leave or return to an abusive relationship is that they don’t have the financial resources to break free.

That’s the push behind the Allstate #PurplePurse campaign. First, it’s about awareness, and then hopefully we can find the empathy to cease reacting incredulously when an abused spouse stays rather than leaves. The more we discuss the issues of domestic violence, the more we can help the one in four women who experience domestic violence during their lifetimes.

Some people doing their part to break the silence and shame surrounding domestic violence are below. Please take a few minutes to read and share.

From a blog called mathbabe, comes “Why the NFL conversation about Ray Rice is so important to me.” The author recounts her own experiences with domestic violence, including this:  …it’s extra hard to imagine managing a second household, with small children, on one salary, when it’s already a huge struggle to manage one. The economic reality of leaving your husband has to be understood.

Meredith Viera shared her own story to add to the #WhyIStayed discussion. Not surprisingly, she was finally able to leave when she was offered a job that helped remove her from her abuser both financially and geographically.

Liz at Mom-101 goes into how her own attitude regarding women who stay in abusive relationships changed. She adds her usual dose of balance and common sense to the discussion.

Robin Givens, in a piece for Time Magazine about how social media is affecting the conversation, writes “People say: “That guy is so nice when he’s with me. What did you do? What did you say to him? He’s cool. I play golf with him. I can’t imagine him doing this.” Women are simply not believed.”

Leslie Morgan Steiner, in a piece for The Washington Post, lists time she wished she HAD left her abusive husband. Then she shares reasons why she didn’t. Well worth a read.

But take heart! Wringing hands and shaking heads need not be the only response to the issues behind domestic violence. Find a worthy group like SOFIA in your area to support with donations as well as attendance. Many run workshops to break the cycle of violence before it becomes entrenched, and many hold information sessions about how you can support a friend or family member in a domestic violence situation.

Please consider donating to the #PurplePurse campaign this year. The issue of abuse in the home and between intimate partners doesn’t go away just because it’s not front page news.

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Try, and then Try Again

This sign is stuck into the still green and pliable ground by the main sidewalk exit for East Orange Campus High School. It’s just as applicable to the teachers as to the students. And just as needed. tryOne of the students I’m supervising this semester used a similar motivational phrase about perseverance in a class yesterday, accompanied by the image at this link. Stick-to-it-tiveness is in the air.

At a time when we are used to instant access to information, videos, people, solutions — and at a time when too many people attempt to solve their problems with sudden, impatient, and often unproductive acts, we could use a little more belief in Try, and then Try Again. We could use a little more Perseverance. Because not only do good things come to those who wait, great things happen to those who stick-to-it after everyone else has given up.

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Support Organizations that Fight Domestic Violence in All Forms

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Let’s skip over my own teen years and go straight to the twelve years I spent with other people’s teen years. In my time with other parents’ teenagers, I was in awe of creativity, frustrated by attitude dripping from drawls, proud of accomplishments others might dismiss, and fearful for so many young lives.

I was fearful for some of my students because of the abusive relationships I saw developing. Girls jumped at text messages, desperate to answer them in time. Sometimes being denied a request to go to the restroom brought on nothing short of a rebellious strut out the door. Later, I’d find out she had to meet her boyfriend at a certain time and place. I’d see a girl’s friends peel off one by one, “freaked out” by the new love’s intensity or direct “advice” about leaving their friend alone. Once or twice I even received visits from boyfriends eager to flex their control, even over the grades earned by their girlfriends. I remember one girl’s defiant smirk as her protector threatened to flatten my (non-existent car) tires if I didn’t raise her grade. Did she really think he was her savior? Or was she just relieved her boyfriend was redirecting his intimidation for a while?

My report about the young man’s behavior included my concerns for my student’s well-being, but the definitions of dating violence are murky to begin with. How does “he wanted her to pass and was willing to threaten a teacher to make that happen” fit in? No surprise: It didn’t. In many states, dating violence doesn’t even qualify as domestic violence.

There’s more, of course, but those experiences — often peripheral and easily overlooked — are part of urge me to support organizations like Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates (SOFIA) in my area. This Essex County organization runs workshops about dating violence, recognizing the signs of an abusive relationship, and even how to support someone you suspect is IN an abusive relationship. And yes, no matter where you live or what religion, race, economic status, or any other identifier your friends and family use, you DO know someone in an abusive relationship.

Organizations like SOFIA survive only because of dedicated and generous volunteers and sponsors. Right now, the Purple Purse Campaign is running through October 3rd, 2014 to raise money for domestic violence organizations throughout the USA. If you’re not in the New Jersey area, check out the link above for organizations near you.

If you ARE in the New Jersey area, consider supporting the SOFIA fundraising efforts with a $10 (or more!) donation here: SOFIA Purple Purse. Please, and thank you!

Need more incentive? Catch up on other times I’ve talked about domestic violence:

Local Businesses Support SOFIA

SOFIA: A Supportive Community

With Awareness There Is Hope

Raising Voices: October

Domestic Violence and Guns Don’t Mix

Not Just for Married Couples

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Small or Large, you are Significant

Here’s a mental health pick-me-up on a Monday.

You know that after school special diddy “The most important person in the whole wide world is YOU, and you hardly even know you…”? It was incredibly comforting to me as although some were smart about explaining those weird adults. But I always looked forward to the song.

I think part of it was that I had a tough time in elementary school after moving from one elementary school to another — with one friend and the harsh stigma of being from “that other” school in town. For some reason, this comic strip reminded me of that song.

10622870_923045114383167_2380681343567147487_nFor more of these self-deprecating and oddly comforting comics, check out the Joy Reactor site tagged LunarBaboon here.

 

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Glad I Saw It: Old School Summer Relief

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My son has rediscovered the original auto-tune: a metal fan. I remember spending many a hot summer day planted in front of a fan practicing saying my name or singing a song. I promised him I wouldn’t post the video I secretly captured; just know it’s amazing.

sprinkler kids

We are also big fans of the sprinkler. It usually lasts just ten to fifteen minutes, but it makes for a fantastic energizer on a hot, sweaty, air-thick-as-pea-soup day.

What are some of your old school summer cool-downs?

 

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Back-to-School Letter to Our School Bus Driver

boarding school busDear School Bus Driver,

This isn’t my first time at this, and I’m surprised at how nervous I am even this second time around. I don’t like to think of myself as an overly anxious parent, you know? So, please don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, and I certainly don’t appreciate when people try to tell me how to do mine. But I just want you to know, up front, that when you pull away from the end of my block today you’ll be taking my heart with you. Continue reading

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Glad I Saw It: Joy for Sale

Joy for Sale. $3 a ride.

Joy for Sale. $3 a ride.

We always spend one afternoon at the St. Sebastian Fair when it comes to town. The anticipation is half the fun — as long as it doesn’t turn into whining. My kids love the Dragon Coaster, and at three tickets a ride, it’s one of the more affordable offerings.

My favorite is the Tilt-A-Whirl. Four tickets, and worth each of the 400 cents. Happily, my son also loves the Tilt-A-Whirl — and he’s very vocal about it.

 

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Save Me: Comfort Music by Queen

One of my comfort songs.

One of my comfort songs.

Even though it’s nothing new, the last weeks of news really affected me. International, national, local news all felt bad — and the weekend’s news out of Missouri truly numbed me. I feel like I don’t have the right to make a grand statement, and frankly, I don’t want to. Or maybe I am unable to. Continue reading

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The Most Easily Preventable Form of Gun Violence

unnamedIn these first six days of August, in less than a week, ten American children were accidentally shot with firearms that should have been inaccessible to them. In 2013, the USA proudly hovered at about 100 children shot unintentionally with firearms that should have been inaccessible to them. And it seems like 2014 may outdo its predecessor. Continue reading

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