Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Zero-Tolerance Bullies by Konnie Enos

The headline read, “Zero-tolerance policies ineffective”, as if it was something new.
We’ve all seen far too many stories of kids, bullied for years, finally “snapping” and either taking their own life or trying for a mass shooting. This zero tolerance system punishes them for their actions, but is ineffective in stopping those who picked on them.
Why? Because zero-tolerance doesn’t stop bullying. It encourages it.
Zero-tolerance tells bullies the authorities will help them pick on and humiliate their victims since the victims of bullying will get punished more often than the bullies will. Newsflash! Bullies like it when they have that much control.
Zero-tolerance tells victims they have no recourse. In fact if they say anything they will get punished before the bully will. That’s what zero-tolerance tells kids.
That’s what I see happening far too often in the stories I see in the news. Innocent victims either never fight back and take their own lives or finally snap and fight back only to have the authorities FINALLY notice, but they come down on them harder than they do the bully.
In all cases the bully’s get their way. The victim is humiliated, isolated and feeling lower than dirt. So why should the bullies change if the authorities are helping them?
And the problems of zero-tolerance go way beyond not punishing the bullies.
We have real problem when authorities are so concerned with violence that they have to expel a kid from school because he nibbled his pop tart into the shape of a gun or drew a picture of one. They focus so much on the harmless that they don’t address the class full of third graders calling a classmate fat every chance they can. They don’t address that boy poking that girl every time he walks past her, or that girl insisting on playing with that other girl’s long ponytail. They punish that girl for finally slugging that boy to make him stop snapping her bra, attempting to undo it in class but shrug at the boy’s actions. They suspend a tiny first grader because he fought off five fifth graders who were picking on him. (Fortunately for the first grader he had a black belt.)
Zero-tolerance policies dictate in often minute detail what a girl can and can’t wear to school but often the more detail they give on the girls attire, the less they give on the boys, i.e.: t-shirt and jeans compared to shirts must cover the collar bone and pants/skirts must cover the knees and nothing can be skin tight.
I’ve read dress codes where the girls’ guidelines were a full page and the boys’ were one paragraph.
And what does such policies do?
They just make it easier to pick on people thereby furthering the environment that bullies thrive in. No wonder zero-tolerance policies don’t work.
You can’t stop bullies by being bullies.
Let’s put some sanity back into our society and start teaching people to respect one another.
I’ve been facing down bullies since I was a tiny first grader. The best solution I came up with was in second grade. I showed the class bully some respect and befriended him. Not only did I not have a problem with him after that, but it also protected the kids in our class who were the usual outcasts.
Some bullies refuse to be befriended. That’s when you have to stand up, look them in the eye and tell them you’re not scared of them. It’s time to tell supporters of zero-tolerance that we’re not running from them anymore.

So I’m borrowing this phrase today, “Stop the insanity”.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bad Day by B.L. Hamilton

We’ve all heard the edict to write every day, but how many of us actually do it? There are plenty of distractions, even for someone like me, who lives alone.

In the last week alone, I have a trip to Yellowstone, which took all day, and well. . . Have you ever been so sick, all you can think about is how much your stomach hurts, and praying you don’t have to run to the bathroom anytime time soon?

Some days, it’s just not possible to write even one paragraph, and sometimes that lasts for more than a week.

Here’s to hoping everyone else is feeling better than I am.

Happy writing everyone.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Seat Dominance by Konnie Enos

“Hey! I was here first!”
“That’s my spot!”
“I had dibs!”
“Move it! I was there first!”
When you have kids, you’re bound to hear them fighting over something and it’s not uncommon for them to fight over where they want to sit, be it in front of the TV, in the car or at the dinner table.
I can’t think of a family meal where someone didn’t ‘dib’ a seat or tell someone to move out of a seat they’d only left long enough to get something that was missing from the table. I’ve had to mediate arguments and even had one kid sulk in his bedroom rather than eat because he couldn’t sit where he wanted to.
Going somewhere with more than one child can be equally as bothersome because only one of them can be ‘shotgun’ and there is only so many window seats, so someone isn’t going to be happy. (Well, if I only take two I’m generally okay, any more than that and I may have an issue.)
The funny part is when my husband finds someone in his place, he generally just moves to their place. When he wants to lie down in his bed and finds one of his kids sitting there, generally talking to me, he sleeps in that kid’s bed so when said kid wants to get in their bed they’re stuck with waking him up and making him move. So I hear more things along the line of, “That’s my spot.”
Since this sort of thing happened in my family when I was growing up, and in the places I lived while away at college, I’m sure it’s a dynamic common in most households where more than two people live.
Anyway, since my kids are getting older, things like this don’t happen as much as they used to. It’s almost like we have assigned seats around here, at the table, in the car, in the living room. For one thing, it’s a given where I’m going to be sitting, and the kids and my husband generally fall in around me in a predictable order, so hearing complaints about someone being in someone else’s spot doesn’t happen very often around here.
Then a couple of weeks ago, that particular complaint was ringing throughout the house.
“Hey! I was sitting there!”
“That’s my spot!”
“Move it mister!”
And I had to laugh, watching my oldest son stand over the chair he wanted to sit in but couldn’t because it was occupied. That was at least the third, if not the fourth time in a matter of minutes that someone had voiced that complaint, always against one of the dogs.
The funny part was my son was just standing there looking rather perturbed at the chair and its occupant while from my viewpoint, I could see the back of the chair, but not who was in it.
Considering my youngest child is 15, and I’m the shortest member of the family, I figured it was a dog, yet again. Of our five dogs only one wouldn’t have been able to get into the chair because of her age and arthritis, and only two of those could sit high enough for me to see them from where I was, though even they could just curl up on the seat.
I asked my son which dog was in his way and he glared at the chair. “None! It’s Tiger!”
I laughed. His cat was in his way, and that meant all our non-caged animals were trying to take over.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Song Title Inspiration by BL Hamilton

Have you ever considered titles to songs and imagined the stories to go behind them?

I have. I not only think it’s fun, it sometimes spurs the muse. I say sometimes because there is one song title that I think would make for an interesting story. Maybe a YA romance, but I’ve yet to concoct a story to go behind it.

That song is “Frog Kissing.

And yes, I know that kind of dates me, but not really, since I learned this song because it was in my father’s collection.

But anyway, I think this song title would make for a cute book title. Just have to figure out a story to go with it.

I actually think there are a lot of song titles or songs that could and should inspire some full-fledged stories, more than the few that have done that.

“The Gambler,” “Coward of the County,” and “Convoy” I know were made into movies, but I’m not talking movies; I’m talking books, novels even. And I got to wondering if any other writers felt the same way.

Have any of you been inspired by a song? Have any of you used a song title as working title for your work in progress?

I can answer yes to both of those, since I have been. My one song title/working title is “On The Wings of Love,” which of course lends itself real well to a romance novel.

Now, can any of you name a song title that inspired a story of yours?

Happy writing everyone J!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Human Kindness by Konnie Enos

Years ago, when our only car died we did without, for a full year.
We lived in a small town. We could walk and there was one bus route which went right through the complex we lived in, and my husband was able to get rides to and from work from a co-worker. We managed.
This year, I wasn’t really thinking of the possibility of being without a car not even after my husband’s car gave up the ghost. Mine was fine. More or less.
Then mine went down.
And it would happen at the end of the month and money. Not to mention right before we were planning to drive up to our daughter’s college graduation.
And if you think being without a car in a big city should be easier than in a small town. Think again.
For my husband, a disabled vet, it wasn’t too difficult. He can still walk around, at least enough to catch the city bus and he gets a steep discount because he is disabled. Then again, most of his appointments were through the VA and the DAV, Disabled American Vets, runs a bus service just for the vets to get to their appointments. So for him, being without a car only meant it took longer to get there.
For me to get to the grocery store, which is more than a mile away, or my daughters to get to their doctors’ appointments, required finding someone to take us.
No problem. We’re regular church goers. Pull up a church roster and call a few stay at home or otherwise retired women and ask for some help.
At a guess I’d say over the last three weeks eight out of ten calls I made went to voicemail. I must have placed around ten to fifteen calls every other day or so, and out of all those only one person ever got back to me. She saw I’d called her several times earlier that day.
Needless to say, between all the appointments my daughters had over the last three weeks and just trying to keep milk in the house, it felt like trying to pull teeth to get rides. My fridge will only hold so much milk and it never lasts longer than three days. I was lucky if I could get a ride every four to six days. Plus each of my daughters ended up canceling an appointment because we couldn’t find them a ride. (For several reasons the bus system wouldn’t have worked for my girls the biggest one being they’d be out in the sun for far too long, which neither one can do for medical reasons.)
So I was really happy to get my car up and running again, though feeling basic human kindness was a thing of the past.
Then yesterday two of my daughters and I were at the store and we had to get dogfood. With five dogs, it’s a fifty pound bag. We were shifting things in my trunk to make room for it when a gentleman walked up, commenting on the size of the bag and dropped it in.
I’ll admit both my daughters are petite, but they’re used to moving those bags. We get them every month. But after all the trouble I had trying get the help I did need from people I know, it rather astounded me to have complete stranger be a gentleman.
All three of us thanked him, though he made light of it as he walked off.
This man passed it forward. Now it’s your turn.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Writing Distractions

How do you write a whole novel? Sheer persistence and it isn’t easy. Lots of things can distract you, or as least, they distract me, since being easily distracted is like the hallmark symptom of ADD. Getting distracted can be as simple as seeing something and realizing you need to take care of it.
Like the time I started to make my breakfast and barely even got the ingredients out, and not all of them, when I started doing the laundry instead, then I started to gather the dishes. Then an hour later, my blood sugar level told me I forgot something.
And distractions are everywhere. AOL News and Facebook are two major problems for me, but then so is the TV, which is sitting across the room calling to me right now, the sink full of dirty dishes, the birds flying past my window, and the full laundry hamper.
That’s a bit of life getting in the way, and a bit of ADD.
Like I said, it doesn’t take much, and last week, it wasn’t the little things, it was the big things. As Konnie said in her last post, her daughter was graduating from college. Well graduation was Friday, and late Thursday afternoon, Konnie and her husband arrived here.
So I managed to get some writing done on Thursday. After running a few errands and until around the time, I expected Konnie to arrive in Pocatello. See she couldn’t drive straight to my place, because I’d only given Konnie directions off the interstate and to nearest the gas station to my apartment, figuring with all the turns involved from there, it would be easier if I navigate once she got here.
So, anyway, I was pins and needles until she called saying she’d made it that far, and then, of course, I had company, meaning I didn’t even open up my computer, except to show Konnie what I’d written that day.
Friday, we drove up to Rexburg to be with her oldest daughter on her big day. Then Saturday after breakfast, we loaded all three of them into Konnie’s car, then I hopped in mine and led them out to McCammon where my husband is buried.
Since they live so far away, when my husband died, they’d only been able to afford for my sister to come up for the funeral, and while my niece had since had a chance to see where he was buried, her father hadn’t, and he wanted to see it. I lead the way.
Once he’d seen the place, we each returned to our respective homes. Though obviously, I had a shorter drive than they did.
But my weekend of distractions wasn’t over. You see, a week ago Sunday, a friend of mine past away, and her funeral was Saturday. After seeing Konnie and her family off, I hurried home, changed, and went to the chapel where the funeral was being held.
At least after I got home, I was able to open my computer again. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been distractions. I already mentioned some major ones, but well, there’s also a trip to the doctor on Monday, and errands, again, and on Tuesday, there was an unexpected visit from a friend, a trip to the eye doctor (new glasses) and a church meeting.
And I don’t need any of that to be distracted, since my thoughts can run off on tangents at the slightest inclination, frankly, it’s amazing I have finished six rough drafts. Most of my manuscripts are like the one Konnie requested a current copy of yesterday.
I did send it to her, but later, she complained that I’d started making changes to it, and hadn’t even finished the changes.
“Well, yeah, I know. I got distracted.”
The fact is one of my other stories started calling to me, and I’ve since set that one aside to work on the one I am now working on. I get distracted real easy. It’s amazing I’ve worked on this one for over a month.

Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On Higher Education by Konnie Enos

I recently I came across an article where the TV personality Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs was commenting on his thoughts on “free college education”. Of course with the current political campaign I was a little bit interested, though I only read it because the heading said he was opposed to Bernie Sanders’ ideas.
I thought about my own kids. My oldest child graduates from college on Friday. Her two sisters are either in college or planning to start soon and already know what they will major in. The same can be said for my oldest son who is still in high school. My youngest however, well, he may or may not attend college. Even though he does have an aptitude for computers, I’m not sure he’ll go to college.
Here’s the thing. I don’t care.
I wouldn’t care of any if my kids decided not to go because there are plenty of other ways to get the skills and education you need to be employable.
I have an associate’s degree in both arts and science, and I very nearly earned my bachelor’s degree in arts. I technically have no marketable skills. Not that I don’t have skills, I just don’t have a degree that will get me a job.
My husband has only a handful of college credits, but through job training programs, and on the job experience, he has marketable skills despite the fact he has never earned a college degree.
I have never understood why, as a culture, we are pushing our young adults to go into a huge amount of debt and get this little piece of paper saying they persevered beyond the basic required education. Some people just weren’t cut out for college and there are plenty of necessary jobs out there that will get you through life.
I actually like how my aunt handled getting her three daughters educated. She told them she was going to pay for just one year of cosmetology school then they could work their way through any further education they might want, suggesting they get their LPN as she had done.
Their oldest did as she suggested then, years later, as a single mother, she earned her RN degree. Their second did get her license then got married and raised a large family. Their youngest got her license and went to work. As I understand it, she manages at least a couple of shops today. All three, as far as I know, are happy with their lives.
I know people with mounting college debt. How much smarter would it be to get that education without the debt like my cousin did? But then if college isn’t the thing for you, why go in the first place? Why not do what my youngest cousin did and get marketable skills in a trade school then get to work doing something you actually enjoy?
And think of this, what would this country look like if we had no mechanics, construction workers, plumbers, cosmetologists, nurse’s aides and a host of other jobs you either learn on the job or in trade schools?
So no, I’m not going to push my kids to go to college. Because as I’ve always said no two people are exactly alike so cookie cutter answers cannot possibly be the solution.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.