For When Smiling Isn’t Enough

Last night, I logged on to Facebook to respond to some messages before having dinner with my parents. There, at the top of my news feed, was the tragic headline:


My first thought? “Oh, this has to be another death hoax. They’ve killed him, Hulk Hogan, and almost all of One Direction in the past few months.” Then I saw that it was a link to CNN. CNN does not (typically) report hoaxes. Sadly, it was true. One of the greatest actors, comedians, and human beings of my lifetime was gone. I immediately passed the information along to my parents and my brother, and we just kind of sat there after reading the even bigger shock: his death was an apparent suicide.

I’ve worked in the mental health field for almost 3 years. During that 3 years, I’ve worn many hats. I’ve been a direct care staff, a skills training specialist, and am now a care facilitator. I’ve had training upon training about depression and suicide, and it amazes me how taboo the subject of mental health still is. Depression is not a joke. It is a real illness that can affect absolutely anyone. Robin Williams’ sudden passing is a sobering reminder of this. All the smiles, adoration, and fame in the world are not enough to suppress the demons within. Sometimes, death seems like the only escape. Suicide is also a hush-hush subject. Many people consider it to be a “cowardly” way to escape from problems. Truthfully? It takes a lot of courage and despair to make the decision that ending your life is the only way to extinguish the pain. There’s no undoing it—and that’s terrifying to think about. On the outside, Robin Williams was happiness in human form. On the inside, he battled the demons of depression and addiction. No one is immune to mental illness. Eerily, some of my favorite Robin Williams quotes fall right in line with views and treatment of mental illness.

As John Keating in Dead Poets Society:

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

As Hunter “Patch” Adams in Patch Adams:

“You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.

As Jack Powell in Jack:

“Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting.”

As Andrew Martin in Bicentennial Man:

“I try to make sense of things. Which is why, I guess, I believe in destiny. There must be a reason that I am as I am. There must be.”

As Dr. Malcolm Sayer in Awakenings:

“The human spirit is more powerful than any drug and THAT is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. THESE are the things that matter.”

And, of course, as the lovable Genie in Aladdin, Williams said this:

“But oh, to be free…such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world.”

And how true it is. You’re free now, Genie. May your joyful soul  find in passing the peace you longed for in life.

If you or anyone you know is battling depression, mental illness, or thinking of suicide. Please get help. You’re not alone and there are people there to help you.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline


If there’s on thing my sinuses hate more than harvest season, it’s flying

I’m once again eternally grateful for in-flight internet. This time, however, I am not surrounded with 2 middle aged women hell bent on getting me drunk……I am, however, in the company of my very angry sinuses that are just absolutely not having this whole cabin pressure business.

Sonofabitch, this hurts.

It does feel eerie to be flying today. 12 years ago today, I entered my 7th grade PE class, changed, and sat in my squad. Our teacher, Ms. K, announced to us that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. Truthfully, I had no idea what that was or what it meant. She led our entire class onto the conditioning deck and turned on the TV, and it was there we soon learned the gravity of the situation.

Three minutes later, the second plane hit the South Tower.

I vividly remember my friend Sydney getting in trouble for saying “Cool!” and my awkward 13 year old brain wondering what exactly this meant for the rest of our lives. One of my classmates spent the remainder of the day ranting about how someone was going to crash into West Noble Middle School, because apparently we mattered that day. I was glued to any television set I came in contact with for the rest of the day.

Every generation has at least “Do you remember where you were when…” moment. My grandparents had Pearl Harbor and the assassinations of JFK and MLK, my parents had the Challenger explosion and the OJ Simpson fiasco. We have 9/11. I got chills as I sat in the Detroit airport and moments of silence were announced at the times the planes hit. I will honestly never forget exactly where I was and how I felt that day.

I’m on my way to Hilton Head, SC for a week of wedding festivities, beach lounging, and golf…..I hope. Even with the excitement I have for the week ahead, it’s still important to remember the sacrifices made by all the civilians, paramedics, firefighters, and police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice on that crisp September morning 12 years ago. Also, remember to thank the service men & women who have previously fought and continue to fight for the freedoms we tend to take for granted all too often.

Never forget, always be thankful, and God Bless America.

10 Things 90s Kids Will Have To Explain To Their Children

1. Topanga was at some point in human history considered not only a legitimate first name for a human being, but the kind of name that would inspire in malleable teenage boys a life-long infatuation. Topanga, in our day, was leading lady name-material. Topanga (pronounced Tah-payne-ga, for those who will have only ever seen in it written down) is the name of the quintessential girl-next-door who will live, along with Feeney, in our hearts forever.

2. At some point, we carried around little plastic eggs with tiny screens on them — in these screens lived our hearts, our pets, our raison d’etre, our very own Tamagotchi. We loved them, we listened to their tiny electronic screams of malnourishment, and we occasionally forgot to pick up their poop for long enough that they died a tortured, poop-filled death. They were perhaps our first foray into the life-consuming world of electronics and self-absorption, later to be fully manifested by Facebook.

3. The black Power Ranger was black and the yellow Power Ranger was Asian because…we were so completely ahead of our time and beyond the capacity to even think in terms of something as inconsequential as race that… uh… I don’t know. Casting directors were racist in the nineties.

4. Long before he was spending his days foisting his mediocre children on us, Will Smith was actually the perfect human specimen. He also undoubtedly holds some world record for saving the world the most times while simultaneously delivering flawless catchphrases and giving cool guy nods to the camera. The Men In Black rap song, at the time, was created and received by the public without the slightest trace of irony. Really. He was that good.

5. In some inevitable shift of the time-space continuum in which James Cameron continues to rob humanity of all that is good and sacred in this world, Fern Gully will be known as that movie that ripped off Avatar. It will be up to us to crusade for what is right. It is up to us to explain that Fern Gully was not only a predecessor to Avatar, but far better, in that it contained both Tim Curry as a singing pile of molasses and Robin Williams rapping about animal testing in the pharmaceutical industry. (As a side note, if you have not recently listened to the full lyrics of the “Batty Rap,” I recommend you do, as they are horrifying.)

6. A neighborhood boy who completely disregards your family and puts a ladder directly under the teenage girl’s window to climb up at his discretion is not only acceptable, it’s charming. It’s the kind of stuff that would make said family take the ladder boy under their wing and into their heart. The nineties were a simpler time, one where we didn’t have to worry about things like breaking and entering. Clarissa today would have steel bars on the inside of her window and her father would continually remind her that the next-door boy with his ladder and his touchy hands have no place in his household.

7. Though on the surface, they are the exact same thing in every conceivable way, whether you liked The Backstreet Boys or N*SYNC said more about your character than all of the terrible macaroni art you could ever make for your child psychologist. Essentially, liking *NSYNC meant you liked Justin Timberlake, as he was clearly the Seabiscuit in that race from the get-go. You even liked him with his terrible, icy-blond mini-fro. Liking the Backstreet Boys gave you a bit more of a cultured palate, as there was no clear Diana in those Supremes. Nick was kind of the wholesome, if northern-Florida-redneck safe choice (save for his humiliating younger brother, Aaron). Brian was the shy, sensitive type. AJ was the hottt, dangerous meth addict. Kevin Richardson was mute with sexy, sculpted facial hair. No one liked Howie. Choosing between the two groups was like choosing between two beloved children, but once that line was crossed–there was no going back.

8. “I wanna really really really wanna zig a zig ahh,” has a meaning, and all true nineties kids know it, but we must never share it. Like the Illuminati, it must remain between us, the keyholders. With great power comes great responsibility.

9. Lisa Frank is not the name of a woman, it is the name of a movement, a culture, a way of living. It is a theory, a concept, a belief in something greater than yourself. It is the belief that all girls are entitled to dolphins covered with rainbows, jewel-encrusted frogs, and unicorns in acid-trip colors hugging each other. It is the ideology that no notebook is complete until it literally hurts your eyes to look at from so much color saturation. It is the hope that no school supply, no matter how insignificant, will be left un-bedazzled. It is the knowledge that your eraser cap, and that of your granddaughter’s, and her granddaughter’s after her, will not be some boring little nub–it will be a diamond covered with butterflies in a rainbow of colors. It is the dream of a better tomorrow.

10. Incredibly depressing women in Indiana covered in cats and glass figurines they buy at The Hallmark Store used to troll the web 1.0 to invest thousands of dollars in tiny stuffed animals filled with plastic beans. That happened. Beanie Babies were not just significant, they were the first example most of us had of envy, greed, and wrath. If someone messed up that little heart-shaped Ty tag, so help you God, that was the end of whatever contact you had with that monster of a human being. That tag-less Beanie Baby was now trash, and you had to deal with the consequence. It was at that moment, that de-valued Beanie Baby moment, that most of us accepted the truth… we’ll never have nice things.


I am a TRUE 90s Child

I got this from a friend on Facebook and couldn’t help but post 🙂

Just because you were born in 1996 doesn’t mean you’re a 90’s kid. … It’s not like you could remember the original Simpsons – I am sorry but four years of the 90s just wont cut it.

You’re a 90s kid if, you remember watching…
-Kenan and Kel
-Pinky and the Brain
-AAAAAAAH Real Monsters!
-Rocko’s Modern Life
-Courage the Cowardly Dog
-Hey Arnold
-Clarissa Explains it All
-The Simpsons
-The Fresh Prince of Bel air
-Nickelodeon Slime Time
-Family Feud

You’ve ever ended a sentence with the word PSYCHE!
You just cant resist finishing this: “In west Philadelphia born and raised…

You remember:
-Step by Step
-Family Matters
-Boy Meets World

You remember when it was actually worth getting up early on a Saturday to watch cartoons.

When everything was settled by:

-rock paper scissors or
-bubble gum bubble gum in a dish

When kickball was something you did everyday!! and you played on the monkey bars and knew at least one kid who broke their arm falling off of it…

You used to listen to the radio all day long just to record your FAVORITE song of ALL time on a tape.

You remember when Super Nintendo became popular.

You always wanted to send in a tape to Americas Funniest Home Videos . . . but never taped anything funny.

You remember watching:
-The Magic School Bus
-Reading Rainbow
-Ghostwriter on PBS

You remember when Yo-Yos were cool.

And you played with Gak, Silly Putty and Sticky Tack that you stole from the teachers walls.

You remember eating Warheads and Smarties

You remember watching:
-The 1st Batman
-Ninja Turtles
-Ghost Busters

You remember Ring Pops!!!

If you remember when every thing was “da BOMB!”

You remember boom boxes vs. CD players

You had at least one Tamagotchi, GigaPet, or Nano and brought it everywhere u went

You watched the original cartoons of
-Wild Thornberrys
-Power Rangers (with the Green ranger)
-Rocket Power

All your school supplies were Lisa Frank or Five Star brand

If you collected:
-Beanie Babies
-Pokemon cards (the original 150)
-Coins with the states on them
-Silver dollars, which were cool to have

Everyone watched the WB

If you even know what an original Walkman is..

You know the Macarena by heart

“Talk to the hand”. . .enough said.

You went to McDonald’s to play in the play place

Before the MySpace/Facebook/Twitter frenzy…

Before the Internet & text messaging…

Before Sidekicks & iPods …

Before PlayStation3 or X-BOX 360…

Before Spongebob…

When light up sneakers were cool and you had spiral spring shoelaces

When you rented VHS tapes, not DVDs

When gas was $1.

When we recorded stuff on VCR

You had slap bracelets!

You actually played outside until it was dark!

Way back-before we realized all this would eventually disappear…

I Experienced Childhood—-And Lived to Tell My Story

I’ve seen numerous articles floating about Facebook, MSN, and various sites about parents freaking the hell out because they think there’s lead in their kid’s Juicy Juice or because they could potentially be watching gay puppets on PBS. Seriously? You seriously think EVERYTHING is bad for your children? Let me tell you a little story…..

I grew up in the boondocks. I ate cookie dough directly out of the bowl WITH raw eggs in it. We raised our own chickens, but even if we didn’t use those eggs I still ate more cookies unbaked than I did when they came out of the oven. I watched MAYBE an hour of TV a day. I played outside, cross-stitched with my grandma, or enjoyed playing with vintage Barbie dolls that once belonged to my aunts. If I got hurt, I was told to rub some dirt in it or given a bandaid and sent back out to play. Simple as that. I didn’t carry Germ-X in my pocket or clipped to my overalls, there wasn’t nutritional information on the bottom of my Happy Meal, and I still managed to make it to see adulthood.

When I did watch TV, it was usually Power Rangers, Lambchop, Sesame Street, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood or, on occasion, even Masterpiece Theatre on PBS. When I was a kid, we saw our favorite characters for exactly what they were: dinosaurs, puppets, and monsters. The Cookie Monster sang “C is for Cookie, it’s good enough for me” and nommed the hell out of some chocolate chip cookies. It wasn’t “C is for cookie…..which is an ok snack every once in a while” I grew up with the Cookie Monster, NOT the Veggie Monster and I still beat childhood obesity. Bert & Ernie were roommates. They slept in the same room and were best friends—and now that makes them gay? I’m all about teaching the wee ones of the newest generations about equality from an early age, but really? Gay muppets? It’s absurd that someone would even make that connection. By “protecting” today’s children (aka making Bert & Ernie neighbors, making the Veggie Monster, etc), you’re ruining our childhoods. Seriously, I turned out to be a college educated member of society even with the “gay” puppets and copious amounts of cookies. And you know what? I ALSO know all the words to “The Song That Never Ends”……and I swear to holy heaven the next person to ruin my childhood will hear it until their ears bleed.

My parents sheltered me from the blatant dangers around me–fire, electrical outlets, anything that could be run into a fence, poisons, strangers, etc, but they didn’t make me the Blonde in the Plastic Bubble. I was a normal, active kid complete with scraped knees and lopsided pigtails. I learned what to do and what not to do based not only on what my parents taught me was right vs wrong, but also from trial and error. This lasted beyond my childhood and even carried with me into my adult life. Trial and Error is how I figured out my alcohol tolerance, my ability to run on very little sleep, and even sex. *insert awkward turtle*

My point is, I didn’t have crazy protection from my parents. They didn’t monitor what I ate so closely that I thought I was fat by kindergarten They let me play outside without wrapping me in bubble wrap. Most importantly, they let me just be a kid. I dug up worms in my back yard, ran through the sprinkler in my front yard without worrying about what potential predators were on the block, and discovered first hand that the scissors that “only cut paper” also cut hair…..once again, I learned from experience. I had more fun with a refrigerator box and a bucket o’ markers than I did with video games. I was allowed to be a kid and experience the world around me with only the extent of my imagination as a boundary. Sure, my parents and grandparents made sure I was safe, but I wasn’t stared at 100% of the time from the kitchen window.

Children nowadays are not only being programmed to be woosies, but have NO idea what wonders are in the world around them. Why? Because they’re not allowed to explore it. They’re either plopped down in front of an Xbox or victims of overprotective parents. Kids need to be kids. They need to get dirty,scrape up their knees, eat junkfood until they puke and learn to make their own mistakes. These mistakes aren’t major ones, but they need to learn that gum in the hair=emergency haircut and that sharing your 96 box of crayons or anything else is the best way to make friends.

I vow to protect my children from the evils of this world, but I swear on my life I will not prevent them from being kids. They’ll get scraped knees, potentially break bones and will get their hearts broken by friends and significant others, but that’s a part of growing up—it’s a part of life. My childhood helped shape me into the person I am today, 5 year old imagination and all. I just wish that people would realize that their kids need to be allowed to act as such and not be treated like mini-adults being forced to grow up too fast. Childhood vanishes so quickly the way it is, there’s no need to rush it.

Let them play, let them grow, and let them eat all the Cookie Monster cookies their little tummies can handle. I was allowed to, and I lived to tell my story.