Welcome to Mary Anne Radmacher's blog.

Friday, October 29, 2010

change: here, now, beginning with YOU

A friend inquired after the sustainability of my shaved head and effort against bullying. “It’s a really long time – are you getting tired of it?”

Well, of course. And that was the whole point of choosing such an extended experience. Kids who are bullied in every corridor every day are tired of it too, but that doesn’t mean it stops. Adults who are bullied in their work place feel as if it just goes on and on…and that’s the point. It DOES.
IT HAS TO STOP.

In conversation with Gina, who is a human rights activist, I made a case that global tolerance for bullying begins in childhood
(it’s just part of childhood,” “It toughens kids up for the REAL world.”) and is the basis for tolerance for atrocities in adulthood.
It’s tribal. Everywhere. It’s tribal everywhere. That reflects the inclination to “look out for my own kind.” If the victims were people “just like me,” individuals would immediately stand up for the one being bullied. It’d be more natural to be fired up about that.
NEWS FLASH.
“They” are us.

Kids are not a different species. They are not miniature humans, they are humans. They are people. Homosexual individuals are not a different species. Women are not a different species. People who wear glasses, dress differently, people with tattoos, people who shave their head (list here the dozens of things that you allow as identifers as “different from me”) are HUMAN. That’s why my activist friend works in a field called HUMAN RIGHTS. And the curriculum for HUMAN RIGHTS begins before we go to kindergarten. It starts with how we watch our family treat the neighbors, the stranger in the grocery store, the players on television and in movies.

Opponents to these views can cite the tendency in nature for animals to be drawn to “their own kind.” When you cite that as the basis for discrimination, want to start walking on all fours, defecating in the bushes and eating carrion cuisine, THEN you can talk to me about animal behavior being the justification for poor Human behavior. In the meantime – let’s manner up.

THEM is US, dear souls, and the smaller the globalization of our planet gets, the more important this fundamental civility becomes. Standing shoulder to shoulder there are human beings who are different…but there are not different human beings. We’re all humans engaged in the process of being.

Getting bullied and having the process dismissed is unacceptable. Making hateful, damaging statements and then simply apologizing with, “I misspoke” essentially means, “I should have framed my bigotry in a more acceptable manner.” Hate and prejudice and bigotry run deep in the veins of culture and they dress up so well: nice suits, pretty jewelry, polished pews. But regardless of how you suit it up: it’s still hateful and insidious and it’s time for a global, “NOT okay. Choose another way.”

Today. Everything begins with YOU, the human who is reading these words. What can you do for the sake of global human rights, beginning in your own experience? What can you do is someone tells you they feel like ending it all? Or, if YOU do?

If you wonder, “What can I do?” which is the very place where the change begins…
…here are places for your answers to begin:
http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adults
http://www.thetrevorproject.org
http://www.itgetsbetterproject.com
http://makeitbetterproject.org
http://operationrespect.org

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Conversation Starter

I found this excellent list of character qualities - qualities that a person who does NOT BULLY would possess. I think they are excellent as a basis for conversation among adults and children. Ask questions about what qualities should be added? Any that are here that should be eliminated?

The site this material is from is:
http://charactercounts.org/sixpillars.html

Trustworthiness Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country
Respect Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant and accepting of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements
Responsibility Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes • Set a good example for others
Fairness Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly • Treat all people fairly
Caring Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need
Citizenship Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment • Volunteer

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

stopbullyinginfo.org

StopBullyingInfo.org is today's resource.

The conversation is going global. Bullying, of any child (of any person) must stop.
There is a more civil manner in which to communicate yourself and your feelings:
find it.

A new friend "skyped" me from London. She had just seen the youtube video of CouncilPerson,
Joel Burns, from Ft. Worth, TX giving his heart felt call to stop bullying in schools. In London! Please please do not suggest that one person cannot make a difference..."Leadership BEGINS in a room with ONE person and a vision." (yep, I said that a long time ago.) I've been treated to some bits of bullying myself about my S.T.A.N.D. And in writing I responded this way,

Artists have been known, for centuries, to draw attention to difficult, important, sensitive and controversial issues. My STAND in regard to bullying is to draw attention that each person, regardless of their age, opinion, inclination or whatever category they "fall in" is responsible for their actions, choices and exchanges. "Start Today A New Direction" has drawn attention to the issue of bullying. Bullying, period. Of children. Of adults. Of readers of a newspaper. Of clerks behind a counter. Putting an end to bullying as an acceptable practice begins by deepened conversation, greater awareness and by each person being a little kinder than they might be inclined. Every body makes statements in different ways, every day. How we dress. What kind of car we choose. If we walk, ride a bike, take a bus or drive a car...are statements representing our values. I've made a statement...and I am grateful that it is generating conversation. Civil conversation is a great place for greater understanding to begin. CIVIL conversation.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

President Obama Gives Inspired "it gets better" message

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geyAFbSDPVk

I have taken President Obama's words to heart. Perhaps you will, too.

I am reminded of the many different ways that former President Bill Clinton found to
deliver the message that, "Our differences strengthen us and what divides us isn't as
important as what unites us."

Yes, indeed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Personal update on my S.T.A.N.D.


S.T.A.N.D. Start Today A New Direction

I’m going to answer the many personal questions all at once – here, today.

I am very satisfied with the results of my effort so far. People are re-posting, tweeting and starting conversations with the educational prompts I have provided. Knowledge spread is a good thing. People are making contribution to TheTrevorProject.org I’m lettering gift original posters and mailing them out every day.

It’s impacted my behavior everywhere I go. Dawn to Dusk. I am swinging the pendulum very far the other side of bullying: I am a kinder driver, more gracious in the grocery store and a better patron at every establishment. It’s upped my consciousness about how little things make such a big difference.

I’ve seen bullying and have been bullied. My response is far more thoughtful, thorough and intentional than it ever would have been prior to S.T.A.N.D. (Start Today A New Direction). I offered comfort to the person I saw bullied. And I responded with 110% love when I was bullied and diffused an otherwise volatile situation.

I get cold and I haven’t had a single hot flash since I shaved my head.
Hats don’t fit as well as they did. And yesterday, in a wind storm I impulsively reached to keep my bangs out of my eyes and laughed right out loud when I realized I had no hair to get in my eyes.

Shawn, owner, of THE COLOR BOX salon here in Freeland, is tending the health of my scalp every week, for free. He was bullied as a child and is very much a part of the STAND I am taking. He told me his own story of “It gets better” and it made me cry. My friend, Grady, lends a voice of experience to this whole matter: there will always be bullies. But after high school they aren’t concentrated in one central place and you get your voice. You learn how to recognize that they matter less than they used to. You learn appropriate ways to respond.

Mid week, my husband has been shaving my head. And each time I become quite sick to my stomach. I commented to a friend about this. I wondered aloud if it was as my energy-worker friend, Llynya, informed me that hair holds a lot of body memory and that I should expect some emotional impact from the process. She wrote this morning this:

ps, I'm reading a new reflexology book called, "The New Reflexology"
[redundant] by Inge Dougans. I just read this morning over coffee and blueberry pancakes from the cafĂ© that there are 2 sources of Chi - prenatal jing/essence stored in the kidneys and environmental, which enters the body through the top of the head, skin and eyes. You may be right about the shaving disturbing the energy. I was thinking that maybe that's why in some cultures it's taboo to touch a child on the top of the head. I really don't like to be touched or tapped on the top of the head either, but I always thought it was because of (some abuse she experienced as a child which involved being hauled around by her hair…my summary). I love how life just keeps adding to what we know and are.

I was bullied as a child by peers and by adults. I have the scars on my bare skull that demonstrate the many places where my head was cracked open. I have followed the impulse throughout my life to stand up for others who were being bullied. And now, in this process, I am facing, at a deeper level than I might have anticipated, how bullying has impacted me at a cellular level. At the same time that I am STANDing up and speaking up for others, I recognize that I am learning a new direction for myself. Start Today A New Direction, then, is first
an instruction I deliver to my own soul. And in offering that direction to myself – I hope that I can inspire you toward a more thoughtful journey in being a voice for those who are, in the moment, trying to find theirs.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WHAT CAN ONE PERSON DO?

A local newspaper has done an excellent job of capturing my answer to that question:

http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/whidbey/swr/lifestyle/105303903.html

Yesterday I was in a business services shop. The customer ahead of me objected to the price she had been charged for a job. The clerk pointed to the posted rate schedule. The customer objected. The clerk expressed that perhaps the owner had given her a special price but that the amount quoted was the posted rate. The customer objected unkindly, loudly and implied the clerk was obviously pocketing the proceeds. The clerk explained, again, her requirement to charge the posted prices. Yes. You guessed it. The customer upped the accusation, volume and venom.

One of the challenges with bullying is this: if intervention is not done judiciously, it can actually get worse for the person being bullied. Yesterday my choice was to help build up the person behind the counter after the bully left. Funny: she didn't look like a bully. She was a middle aged woman of average build and dress. She might have looked average but her ability to fire off verbal vitriol was well above average. She left.

The clerk was almost in tears and I said, "You'll notice I'm not even ASKING what the price is for my job." Even though I said it with a smile she thought I was getting ready to launch into her. I caught her eyes. "I'm making light of a difficult situation. You did just fine with that other person: it was her issue, not yours. The prices are posted in plain sight." And then she laughed. The tension melted and we had a little chat about the effects of bullying. Interestingly enough, the writing (TheTrevorProject.org) on my shaved head never became topical.

As Steve Maraboli says, says, and says again, "One kind gesture, one person at a time, one day at a time." YOU can make a difference. S.T.A.N.D. Start Today A New Direction

Saturday, October 16, 2010

TheTrevorProject.Org

This is an excellent resource for youth who feel as if they are out of alternatives.

Ellen DeGeneres' has answered the question, "What can we do to be supportive?" by directing people to this website. It is positive, helpful, informative. And, if you know a young person who feels conflicted or confused about their personhood/sexuality...this is a confidential resource to help.

TheTrevorProject.Org and resources that I am recommending are great recommendations to make in the event that you, on your own, "don't know what to say."

On that note, I have a suggestion for a sentence that works exceptionally well, particularly when you mean it from your heart,

"I love and accept you just as you are."

Friday, October 15, 2010

answering the questions

Answers to the Questions I’ve received, repeatedly, in the first week of having a bald head with web resources regarding bullying written on it. I’m just listing my answers…you’ll likely recognize the question.

Answer one: I write the tale of my life by the stories I repeat in my days. I am a page upon which I write with the pen of conviction, intention and enthusiasm. One person can make a difference – I am one person and therefore, I make a difference.

Answer two: I do not consider shaving my head a severe action. I consider bullying, abusing and beating and berating others a severe action. My action is calculated and personal. I chose to give up my hair for a short period of time. I am safe. I am surrounded by allies. People who are bullied are not yet safe. People who are bullied are still looking for resources and resolutions and respite. I want to shine a light on some of those.

Answer three: My hair will grow back. The scars I have from my own injuries from the hands of others now show on my bare skull. My hair will grow back and my scars will not show. But I carry them. I am alive to carry them. I want to do what I can to spread the intense message to children who see no alternatives to their pain that there ARE alternatives and IT DOES GET BETTER. It does. Regardless of WHY you are bullied, there are ways to find your voice and stand differently. That’s why I’ve called my personal action S.T.A.N.D. – Start Today A New Direction.

Answer four: It’s a message to the people who bully, too. There are resources for the difficulties that you face, too. You are not alone, either. There is a better way – STAND – Start Today A New Direction.

Answer five: This action is a model for everyone who has ever complained about some dreadful piece of news and then dismissed their concern with, “I’m just one person, what can I do?” Any action toward the good is important. "There are no small compassionate acts - every kind action makes large the world." -mar -

Thursday, October 14, 2010

makeitbetterproject.org

Acceptance. Agreement. Tolerance. They are different words for a reason. A person does not need to agree with another person to accept another person. It's so very simple: we are stronger together. What divides us is not as important as what unites us.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

itgetsbetterproject.com

"What can one person do?"

Learn. Get information. Go to this website and see what is there waiting for you. Discuss with your circle of family and friends. Have conversation that has strength and consequence around the issue of bullying.

ONE person can and does make a difference.

Is that one person you?


STAND - Start Today A New Direction

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

StopBullyingNow.HRSA.Gov

My friend and clerk at my post office said, "Bullycide's been going on too long - but what can we do about it?"

Today's resource provides dozens of answers to that question. This government presented resource provides guidance for adults, kids and educators. Here you will find videos, material to download and suggestions for curriculum. There's even information on how you can start your own campaign to STAND against bullying.

ONE person CAN make a difference. That one person is you...start a meaningful conversation in your community today about what you can do to create alternatives to bullying.

I will keep my head shaved until Thanksgiving and provide resources for you every day. STAND - Start Today A New Direction.

Monday, October 11, 2010

ordinarycourage.com

From now until Thanksgiving I am making a personal STAND (Start Today A New Direction) against bullying and for intentional, compassionate choices/actions.

Fifteen minutes after Shawn Nordin of THE COLOR BOX shaved my head and shared his own story of being bullied in high school, I went to the grocery store with my husband.

There a group of three young women found themselves unable to restrain their laughter at my bald head and the address lettered there (itgetsbetterproject.com). In my face, they laughed, jeeringly. I told myself they were laughing at something else. I told myself, "Not everything is about you, Mary Anne." I told myself they just happened to be laughing and I just happened to be walking by.

Five minutes later, when I encountered them again, I recognized that my assessment was not correct. They were laughing at me. And they laughed at me again. In my face. I'm 53 years old and I'm committed to this process and I have compassion for their insensitivity and insecurity. And in spite of that - I lost my voice. In spite of that, I did not feel good to be laughed at. I looked at them with disbelief and my kind husband guided me out of the store. And THAT is why it is so important to pay attention to the whole process involved in bullying. It is human nature to be drawn to people who are like you. It is possible, at the same time, to show kindness and tolerance toward people who are not like you. And, in fact, it is essential.

What will you STAND for today?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10-10-10


Today I begin an effort that I will follow through this Thanksgiving.
I'm taking a S.T.A.N.D. against bullying and abuse. STAND is for
Start Today A New Direction. With big issues it is tempting to think that we cannot not do anything. One person DOES indeed make a difference. Lily Tomlin said, "I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that, then I realized I was somebody." I cannot do all things but I can do something.
Find my journey documented daily on my author site: maryanneradmacher.net

Friday, October 1, 2010

LIKE WINTER THUNDER....


Laugh wildly like winter thunder. (from PROMISES TO MYSELF, Conari Press)

Suze, my dreamer/friend, returned from her dance convention with a gift from the airport sundries shop. She walked in my studio with a toy: a plush black cat. She mysteriously reached into its fur and then set in on the carpet. The cat began rolling all over the floor while playing a recording of laughter. We were both lost.
I couldn’t have stopped laughing if I’d tried. I finally made her turn the thing off because my sides were starting to hurt. When she left I noted how invigorated I felt. I am always happy to see my friend – but that unrestrained laughter was some kind of medicine. I launched into my next project thunderously.
Winter thunder isn’t just a loud whack. It rolls around in the sky. And when one is done the next one is in line to compete for the award of longest peel. Find the good medicine of laugher in your day and let it roll around in the sky of your soul.
This image is from the brand new release from DEMDACO - beautiful interactive Art Blocks in the BOLD INSPIRATIONS line. Ask your favorite retailer to make them available for you!