Thursday, October 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Olivia!

I haven't been blogging much lately...well, I have been writing but I haven't been publishing what I write because I've been to angry. I've been angry about Ferguson and about some stuff at our church and police brutality...and...and...and...

...and everything I wrote came out angry or preachy. Angry and preachy does not a good blog make. So I've written some things about Ray Rice and some things about the Unitarian Universalist church but for now, for the most part, I think I'll leave them unpublished.

But you know what makes me super happy and not the least bit angry? Olivia's birthday!

On October 6th Olivia turned eleven. I love celebrating, I'll celebrate damn near anything so obviously there needed to be a celebration for Olivia. We decide the occasion called for chicken nuggets and a birthday hat. Olivia had never had chicken nuggets so this was a real treat. She loved them so much that she even kinda sorta put up with a birthday hat. It was all supremely silly and pretty amazing. Olivia has had a bit of a rough year. Health-wise her 10th year wasn't her easiest but I'm so thankful that she seems to be doing better now.

The pictures aren't the greatest because I was laughing to hard to focus the camera for most of the chicken nugget experience. What can I say, life is just more fun when you're hanging out with this dog.

If you ask me, she doesn't look a day over five. 

The nuggets! Yes, we made a special trip to Burger King. 

 O.M.G. that hat! (and yes, it's an Amanda Gonzalez original)
 The nuggets...
 She figures it out...
And the rest is a blur. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

National Suicide Prevention Week and the meaning of "safety"

One of my favorite quotes has always been Mother Teresa's "If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week a couple weeks ago (I'm a little tardy to the party) I have been thinking about how we can better take care of each other.

Colorado is a little bit of a weird place to be a raging progressive. While it definitely has it's progressive moments, the one constant that runs through Colorado's value system is the idea of rugged individualism and self preservation. I don't know if these folks all think they are decedents of cowboys or what. It's the wild wild west y'all. To this California girl (who doesn't even believe in proverbial bootstraps) the whole thing is bizarre. Coloradans, for example, love them some guns. My (liberal) father in law recently posted a picture on facebook of a boy scout troop he volunteers with learning to shoot. His comment on the post was something about preventing tragedy and how knowing how to handle a gun is essentially a safety measure. See...guns...individualism...yada.

For me, gun pictures on facebook often lead to googling and this was no exception.

According to the Center for Disease control, between 2005 and 2010 3,800 people died from accidental shooting. By contrast, in 2011 alone (compared with the cumulative 5 year stat above) there were 39,518 suicide deaths were reported in the United States. Yes, 10x the 5 year stat in one year. Which got me thinking...we're doing it wrong. What if we thought about self preservation differently? What if it wasn't about individualism and taking care of yourself but about community and taking care of one another?

This boy scout troop on facebook teaches their kids to shoot in the name of safety (protecting one's self from accidental shooting) but, if we were looking at the data, aren't they better off teaching the kids coping and communication skills along with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence? My theory is that if we had fewer bullies, more loving communities, boys/men that protected and honored each other's whole emotional selves, and people that were trained to taking care of each other we would have fewer people killing themselves. Imagine what the world would look like if we thought about "safety" as emotional?

It seems that these skills are particularly needed in boys and men. Suicide is four times higher among men than women and a men are most likely to kill themselves with a gun. In fact, 80% of all firearm suicide deaths are white men.

Imagine if instead of teaching children to shoot or even to "protect" themselves from guns, we taught them to care for each other and to recognize when their fellow man was having a hard time. What would that look like? What would boy's sports teams, classrooms and scouts look like? What would Colorado look like if we shifted out value system a bit.

Which brings me to another of my favorite quotes, "we've begun to raise daughters more like sons..but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters" - Gloria Steinem.