How to Stop a Bully

By Shannon Boatwright

Author/Speaker Brooks Gibbs explains bullying in the most simplistic terms: Dominance behavior.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oKjW1OIjuw)

October is national bullying prevention month. Because I teach middle school drama, I feel it is imperative that I allow time for serious discussion about the issue of bullying.  My students know that I feel very strongly about the topic of bullying –  I have zero tolerance for it.  ZERO.

I make it very clear to my students that I am here for them and that they can come to me at any time if they ever see, hear of or experience anything having to do with bullying. They know they can count on me to have their backs.

Stop BullyingIt’s amazing to me that our society as a whole has all these different missions to “stomp out bullying” and as a whole, we as a society overall are of course against bullying…  YET IT STILL HAPPENS. And it happens all the time! On the website StopBullying.com you can click on the link below to see all the latest statistics on the percentage of bullying that takes place.

https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html

It’s a lot. It’s sickening. It enrages me. To think that humans can be so cruel to one another just blows my mind. And it’s not just with kids, bullying happens among all ages. Jerks are EVERYWHERE. And yes, their cruelty comes from somewhere – whether from a place of jealousy, insecurity, personal hurt, or plain ole ignorance. Either way, though it can be forgiven, it is inexcusable.

I do not take a lot of time showing dramatic videos of stories about bullies and victims, because I feel my time is better spent teaching my students how to stop a bully, how to build their confidence and belief in themselves. Like Brooks Gibbs says, the key word is SELF – building self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. One of the many benefits of drama involves building those three priceless attributes, as well as empathy. Teaching these kids the ultra-importance of building their strength in self and engaging in empathy is truly a lifelong skill that will make them a better person, not to mention benefit them for the rest of their life.

Happiness Is An Inside JobThe tools that Brooks Gibbs shares are incredible, because indeed when it comes to bullying it’s about power, it’s about dominance and how one reacts to a bully can make or break a situation. Do not give a bully the power. Keep all the power for yourself! Your power will be grounded in your own self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem. As a teacher, my goal is to build a strong self in these kids. I want them to have the power of believing in themselves, knowing that their happiness is not rooted in what anyone else thinks of them and knowing that the ability to put themselves into someone else’s shoes can be a wonderful tool that creates in them a stronger, well-rounded human.

It is an unfortunate reality that bullies will always exist. Heck, in this day and age especially, with our current state of leadership, the ridiculousness of social media, the sad state of our schools, there are all too many bullies trying to dominate others. So those of us who actually have the sense to recognize this negative behavior and not engage and participate in it, especially need the skills to stop a bully. Whether you have children in your family or not and no matter what your age, I guarantee you will benefit from watching the video link shared above. Brooks Gibbs really hits the nail on the head with this topic and I am ever appreciative that I have the resource of his video to share with my students, my own children, my family, my friends and my blog readers.

Music Therapy

music-isnt-just-music-its-therapy-quote

By Shannon Boatwright

Music does so much more than connect people, allow an escape, fill hearts with passion, take individuals on journeys to past moments in time, instigate smiles, movement and singing along…

Music literally can benefit your health in many ways and create healing.

It’s a beautiful thing, the powers of music. I’ve written other blogs about this priceless, glorious thing that is music and I recently keep coming across information that proves that music is indeed therapeutic. The benefits of music are so good for our health that it can help us to heal and keep us healthy.

There is a connection between music and dopamine. The impact of music on the brain is substantial, such that immediate improvements can take place. Research shows that music taps into many areas of the brain, opening opportunities like no other. For example, when Arizona congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, survived a near-fatal gunshot to the head, it was music therapy that helped her regain her ability to speak. She firmly believes music therapy is what helped her to regain the skill to speak.

Another beautiful example of the power of music is the effects of music therapy on those suffering with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  With many of these patients, music therapy helps to soothe their anxieties, give them great comfort, joy and even can lessen their need for meds.  I’ll never forget going to visit my grandmother in a nursing home as she was in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s. She had no idea who I was. It was heartbreaking. But man she could still sing “Jesus Loves Me” and she sang it with pride and joy in her heart, knowing every word. It was an odd, yet fascinating thing to witness.

Music therapy can be used to help people with PTSD, brain injuries, asthma attacks, anxiety attacks, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and even pain management, just to name a few.  In many cases one can communicate through music, without ever having to speak. It’s an amazing thing.

Music

I remember when I was a junior in high school, I’d had surgery to have my tonsils taken out.  After surgery, my throat was fine, just felt like another sore throat. But I was in incredible pain – like can’t think straight, constant pain – in my jaws. Apparently when they performed the surgery, they had opened my mouth too wide and over-extended my jaws! Now I have a big mouth, but that was ridiculous. In an attempt to deal with the pain, I remember I would play the soothing, passionate music of Yanni as I took a bath and would hold my head under water such that only my mouth and nose was above the water so I could breath. I would focus on the music and the sensation of the water and visualize my jaws healing. The music would take me away. The music allowed me to escape the pain.

To think of it now, what an incredible thing. There is such power in music, if we only allow ourselves to access it!Music-Washes-Away-From-the-Soul-

When I start any new class, I always give the students a questionnaire. The questionnaire is meant to be fun for them – a moment to think about their favorite things, forcing them to consider the things that make them happy, giving them an opportunity to compliment themselves and think about their passions. The assignment also acts as a fabulous way for me to get to know them. Some of the questions involve music – asking who is their favorite singer, their favorite band, what is their favorite song this week, etc. When a student answers, “I don’t really have any favorites, I don’t listen to music.” – my heart breaks. Seriously, it’s like a blow to my core. This kind of response is rare, but it happens. I want to take that child under my wing and introduce them to the wonders and beauty of music. I feel like they are a lost soul that needs to be found and have the opportunity to connect on that magical level with the powers of music. I can’t help but think, shame on this kid’s family for not allowing them to be exposed to the wonders of music. I know every individual’s circumstances are different, but my heart aches for any child that is not exposed to music. One does not have to be wealthy to experience the glories of music. So when I come across any individual that seems to have no connection to music whatsoever, I honestly worry for their well-being.

Music TherapyAnyone can look up the benefits of music, the healing powers of music therapy, and see for themselves all the research and proof. My hope for anyone reading this is that you allow yourself the opportunities to connect to music that moves you. Find the music that fills you up. Experiment with different types of music that speak to you, take you away, give you peace and strength. And the next time you’re struggling on any level, whether with pain, fears, heartbreak, anxiety, whatever it may be, please remember to seek out the magical, healing resource that is music. And if you are trying to help others, remember that music therapy is a beautiful tool that can be used to create healing and comfort.

Feel This Moment!

By Shannon Boatwright

So this lil idea kept nagging at me over the summer…

…and I’ve learned that when one of my creative visions keeps popping into my head, well, it means that I’m meant to make it happen!  At the end of the school year/start of the summer, I kept seeing all these fabulous lip sync challenges that the police stations were doing across the country and they looked like so much fun. So I proposed the lip sync video idea to my awesome principal and she was all about making it happen, totally game & as supportive as could be!

In 3 very busy, short days, at the start of our school year when only the teachers had returned to school, I managed to get the footage of our superstar CMS faculty, staff & administration. Then my genius editor 12 yr old boy & I spent the weekend editing.  Needless to say, I’m very blessed to have such a talented son that can edit for me and experience paid, professional editing gigs at such a young age. And, I am thrilled that it turned out so fabulously and totally excited about the thought of it bringing smiles to others!

What a great way to start the new school year!  I just want to Feel This Moment and make this school year extraordinary!!!

#chapinmiddleschoolrocks #feelthismoment #carpediem #Pridein5

A Special Note from my Principal at Chapin Middle School, Mrs. Anna Miller:

“We are so excited to welcome you to Chapin Middle School, Palmetto’s Finest, for the 18-19 school year! We don’t want you to merely survive middle school–we want you to thrive in middle school, to realize these can be some of the best years of your life, to live in the moment, to FEEL THIS MOMENT! Enjoy our superstar cast as we welcome you to our One Happy School through our lip sync video! It’s going to be our BEST year yet!”

#WeRChapin #Remarkable #OneHappySchool #Pridein5 #Lexrich5schools

I hope all my EveryWomanBlog.com readers enjoy this video and allow it to bring smiles to your faces! I know when we premiered the video at our beginning of the year pep rally assembly, the students absolutely loved it and it really helped to set a tone of fun and happiness! Here’s to feeling the moment! 🙂

Find the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD3C1HH5SBU&feature=youtu.be

What Did You Do This Summer?

By Shannon Boatwright

As a teacher, it’s one of those questions you get asked a lot…as if we’re going to respond with some magical, fabulous and/or impressive descriptions of all the incredible things we experienced and accomplished over our treasured summer break.  Of course, people don’t seem to realize that some, or I should say, most teachers actually still work over the summer, whether with a second job to help fill in the terrible pay gap or whether they’re having to take chunks of their summer to take required classes in order to keep up certification and/or to reach that next pay raise level.I'm a Teacher.

In years past, I’ve had to take classes and fill my summers with studies and classwork. This past summer I decided to give myself a break. No classes, no time taken away from the break that I earned and definitely needed!

Now, last summer was literally the ONLY summer that I was actually able to respond to people with something fabulous that knocked my own socks off, much less others. I never dreamed I’d be able to respond and tell folks that asked that lovely question that I’d actually gotten the opportunity to go to France and Switzerland -and it was one of the most memorable, amazing experiences of my life! Ironically last year when someone would ask what I did over the summer, I’d almost feel a bit embarrassed to say anything about my incredible trip because it so was NOT a normal travel experience for me. I’ve written a previous blog about it  Are You Experiencing One Wild and Precious Summer? You should check it out. It’s a good one for sure. I’d say it’s inspiring. 😉

But back to this summer, my summer of 2018. No fancy excursions in first-class to fantastic, far off fantasy like locations. But, I did indeed make it a great summer. (An important side-note to those reading…you don’t have to go on impressive, big time trips to create a fabulous summer for yourself!)

This summer, I utilized quality time with precious family and friends. I caught up on much needed sleep when my busy mind would allow it. I spring-cleaned and organized. We took only two short family trips – one to the mountains (See blog entry, Live Your Life!) and one recently, to the beach. And the beautiful thing…we made the most of every moment and greatly appreciated our time together. It was a summer with those I love and adore. It was a summer that allowed me the time to just be, to read, to work on future aspirations and gain personal insight.

Did I accomplish even half of what I wrote on my summer to-do wish list? Nope.

Did I accomplish other impressive things that weren’t on my list or even in my mind at the end of the insanely busy school year? Yep.

Did I gain weight and eat really well over my summer? Oh my gosh, YES. I immensely enjoyed cooking for my family, trying new recipes and sharing the yummy results of my cooking with family and friends!

Did I experience my own inner battle of deciding to accept my fuller bod and recognize my own health happiness? Actually…yes.  It’s a constant work in progress, but with every year I have the pleasure of being alive, I’m learning to accept and rejoice in not only my talents, gained knowledge and individual gifts as I age and mature, but also accept my body and rejoice in its flourishing, changing ways! (That’s of course the super positive outlook I’m feeling in this moment. I’m quite certain if you were to catch me tomorrow in the moment when I try on a piece of clothing in my closet that will inevitably be way too small, I’ll most likely respond a bit differently. Just saying. I am only human after all. We’re Only Human) 😉

So what did I do this summer?

I lived. I survived. I rested. I played. I dreamed. I rejoiced. I engaged in being ever grateful. I created. I researched. I planned for my future and the future of my family. I planned as a drama teacher/director and what I want to provide for my students.

I tried my best to appreciate every moment with those I love. I listened to the sounds of the creek in the mountains. I made sure to consciously listen to the sounds of the ocean at the beach. I made sure to play with my children – we wrestled, we fished, we created, we watched movies, we rode bikes, we swam, we played pretend with my precious little nieces & cousins, we colored, we rode ocean waves, we jumped for joy on the beach…

Did I do something totally spectacular, crazy impressive over my summer?  Maybe not in most folk’s eyes, but, I did me. I had a super summer.

Jumpin for Joy on the Beach

Now here’s to hoping people will stop asking the question, “When do you go back to school?”

Note to readers: Never ask a teacher when she or he has to go back to school. We’re on summer break. Spare us, please… pretty please.

And now, you know I have to ask…

What did YOU do this summer?

 

LIVE Your Life

By Shannon Boatwright

“In all the chaos and hurry, do not forget to notice the beauty and miracle of this world. Slow down. Notice. Observe. Be aware. Allow presence and awe to come back into your life.”

-Brendon Burchard

Listen to the sounds of a creek.
Notice and look at the beauty of the earth, the beauty of trees, plants, flowers, their growth.
Be still and allow yourself to take it all in.
Allow yourself to float. Just relax.
Swing on that swing and recognize the joy in the simplicity of swinging gently through the air.
Dance! Allow music to take you away and generate movement in your body!
Run with a kite!
Play with the children. Make the children smile.
Brighten others days, even with just a simple smile.
Make time for those you love. Hug and love on each other.
Love on and listen to your pets. They love you unconditionally.
Recognize the beauty and joy around you.
Take time to recognize the beauty and joy in the simple things.
Play in the sprinkler!
Take adventures. Make adventures.
Spend quality time with friends and family. Really listen and be present for them, for you.
Smell the flowers. Just stop and notice them, look at their wondrous beauty.
Do things that make YOU happy.
Relax on a hammock.
Enjoy dessert!

Don’t let the chaos and hurry of the world steal your joy.

Live your life.

Really LIVE.

(Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aKydKNEmgA)

We’re Only Human

By Shannon Boatwright

Is it ok to sometimes be sad? Is it ok to just cry? Cry because your heart hurts and you need to release the emotions? Is it ok to be mad? Are you sometimes mad at the world and want to throw your own private hissy fit? Absolutely. YES. YES. And, scream it with me, YES!

It’s completely natural to have these moments. We are human after all.

Why am I sharing the above? Well, I tend to be what I call a “Positivity Promoter”. I’m all about positive thinking and positive thoughts leading to everything from success to healing, on all levels. I am a huge user and promoter of the power of imagination and when used in a positive way, I truly do believe that you can genuinely create positive things in your life – whether by simply generating creativity, or actually creating your own success and/or healing with the power of positive thinking and visualization.Its Ok

BUT, and yes, this is an BIG “but”,… sometimes it’s flat out necessary to feel the human emotion of sadness, hurt, anger…Like I said before, we are human after all. Anyone who attempts to be a force of positivity in every single moment, is, well, going to fail. And that’s actually not a bad thing. We need to have our moments of sadness. We need to have our moments of pain. We need to have our moments of anger. Do we want a lot of those moments? Absolutely NOT. But the reality is, it’s a natural part of life to experience pain, hurt, anger and loss. A harsh reality that so very many of us wish that we could change.

The reality also though, is that it’s those moments of sadness, hurt, and anger that help us cling to the positive; to grasp hold of faith, love, kindness, generosity, and goodness – that positive nature that gives us hope. We may not achieve understanding or acceptance, but we gain hope amongst the hurt. The positivity rejuvenates us, fills our hearts with what I’d like to think of as literal smiles… actual happiness.

We are all such unique, special, outstanding individuals. Personal happiness is defined differently within each of us. As well as sadness and hurt – we all experience these emotions in different ways, we handle them in different ways. As humans we are so incredibly beautiful in our own, precious individual ways on the outside physically. And on the inside, physically, we are the same, we have the same parts no matter what our exterior color, size, etc, etc, etc. BUT, we all feel differently, in outstanding, unique ways on the inside. There is no exact equation for how everyone experiences emotion and handles the stresses of life.

So, why is a “Positivity Promoter”, who typically tries to spread rays of sunshine and smiles to all those around her at all times, even daring to speak of recognizing the negative emotions of life? Well, I’ve always delved into the world of harsh emotions – I mean, it really is an inevitable part of human nature. Only those close to you typically will ever have an inkling that you are a real person living in this all too real and harsh world, a person that indeed faces negativity and actually experiences it too, sometimes on a daily level. Some of us are really good at hiding the unhappiness. Especially in today’s world in which people promote themselves on social media as having the perfect, photo-shopped lives. Most of us only post our beauty and happy moments. Naturally. And thankfully. We can only handle so much negativity. Think about how many times you see someone post on Facebook, “I can’t handle all the terrible negativity with people’s posts. I’m taking a hiatus from Facebook. See ya.” I personally see it A LOT. And, hey, I don’t blame them. The negativity and nonsense can get terribly overwhelming and next thing you know, you’re in an awful depression and the really bad stuff isn’t even directly affecting your life. It’s a crazy thing.

Honestly, I think as I’ve entered my 40s – note I said, “entered”! – my emotions have taken a turn for what I think I’ll call, the realistic. At this point in my lifetime, in my maturity, in my struggle/battle and constant adventure to create success, happiness and share my talents, I also feel more…on a real level. Let’s face it, the older you get, the more you experience reality – all the real and pure realities of this consistently challenging life. And most unfortunately, as us women get older, our hormones seem to take us on a tormenting roller coaster ride that feels like a joy ride one second and a death defying, catastrophic plane crash the next second. On any given day, I can be facing depression straight in its ugly face, all the while trying my very best to combat it at every turn, feeling beaten down by the world, it’s hardships, feeling ugly, chubby, not worthy, you name it…all the while, granted, I will do my absolute damnedest to hide it, to overcome it. I’m aware of it, I know better, I know my worth, I believe in myself, I know I can combat the negative emotions…, but daggomit it’s just hard sometimes. And sometimes you just need to be sad, you just need to cry, you just need to be angry. Then, the flip side, I can wake up the very next day and be thankfully full of strength and thankfulness. It’s a glorious thing to feel this way – to be truly full of positivity and feel it to your core, a gratefulness for the recognition of positivity despite all the negative nonsense that we could allow to overcome us.

 

And there it is. See, I fortunately have the ability to overcome the negative moments, for now at least. Others aren’t so capable. Their genetic make-up doesn’t allow them to reach for the positivity or come out of the negativity like a so called “normal” human being. I’m incredibly blessed that I do not have to rely on medicine to help level me out and allow me to think and rationalize clearly. I personally feel blessed to have the ability to recognize when I’m experiencing any negative emotions, I know I have the ability to pull myself out of it. I know the sadness, hurt and anger will pass. Some of those emotions are always there due to life experiences, but they help me to be stronger, help me to recognize the power of the positive in my life.

The following excerpt is from a piece Time Magazine posted. This article is what really got me thinking and helped me to gain an acceptance of the fact that it’s ok to experience ALL emotions and that I do not have to be positive all the time.

“Overemphasis on positive emotions denies the key role negative emotions play in our human experience. Negative emotions serve important functions in that they motivate us to take action or help us give up on goals that are no longer tenable. There is also evidence that experiencing a range of emotions, both positive and negative, has beneficial health consequences, including longer life.

Instead of empowering people to exercise what control they may have, we end up blaming them if they aren’t able to dig themselves out of a difficult situation, and this adds to their stress rather than lessening it. Perhaps most dangerous, by placing the onus on the individual to think positive thoughts to simply feel better about their situation, we neglect the importance of working to change the social or institutional causes of the stress which may perpetuate the systems of oppression, discrimination, or inequality that caused the epidemic of stress in the first place.

But we should not throw the positive emotion baby out with the positivity bathwater. There is, after all, mounting evidence that positive emotions are associated with a host of beneficial outcomes, including better health and longer life. In my research, our goal is to help people learn ways to experience more positive emotion on a daily basis even when life is stressful — not banishing negative experiences or emotions.

My lab is not the only one doing this kind of work. Dr. Jeff Huffman and his colleagues at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital are finding that a program that teaches cardiac in-patients skills for increasing positive emotion shows promise for improving not only well-being, but also physical activity, a key health behavior for people recovering from acute coronary events.

Moreover, making space for positive emotions alongside the negative supports more effective coping and may provide us with the capacity to take on the bigger structural issues that cause stress.”

(from Emotions Expert: It’s Impossible to be Constantly Positive. Try This Instead by Judith K. Moskowitz, June 5, 2018, http://time.com/5300649/positivity-professor/)

So is it ok to be sad sometimes and want to be ok with being sad and allowing yourself to cry? Absolutely. It’s a real part of surviving this life. Sometimes the hurt and anger help guide us to the answers or to the positive sides of life. It’s a very powerful, yin/yang kind of thing. One cannot, does not truly live this life without the other.

Light vs dark, human nature vs human events – Yin/Yang. It’s a fascinating concept.

I will continue to promote positivity, because I know and have experienced the beautiful side effects of thinking and believing in goodness and greatness. But, on the flip side, I will allow myself to feel…to feel sadness, to feel hurt, to feel anger. I will do my best to stay in control of those emotions and to always learn from them, gain strength from them and gain relief from the release that they can provide to my all too human body that feels all and at every turn attempts to survive.

Allow yourself to feel and learn from your feelings. You can grow strength, relief and understanding from the natural emotions that your body is meant to experience. All this being said, allow yourself to be human. It’s ok. It really is.

 

Music, The Virtual Time Machine

By Shannon Boatwright

“The music that touches you in your youth is magnified as you get older. Each record can be a virtual time machine – all you need is to hear a second or two and you go back to that place and time when you first heard it.  It’s a brilliant feeling when music touches you so profoundly and stays with you through time.”

  • Rob Halford

Music, for me, is an incredible source of inspiration on so many levels. Rob Halford is considered a Metal God. His voice is out of this world – his vocal abilities and range have put him on the top of the lists as one of the best voices of rock.  After reading up on him, what I really like most about him is his passion for music and his recognition of its ability to truly transport people.  One of my favorite drummers, Brad Wilk, posted this quote by Rob on his Instagram. It really caught my eye because I truly cannot imagine life without music. Music is what helps to fuel my world, keep me motivated, keep me inspired.  All types of music have this lovely ability to take you away, envelop you in its graces and flood you with memories, visions and dreams.Music, The Virtual Time Machine

When I hear certain music, I am most definitely transported to another time. Sometimes instantly. For example, if I hear “Coming to America” by Neil Diamond, I am instantly transported to my living room back in my elementary and middle school days when my mother would blast his music while we cleaned house. She would have it playing loud and proud and I secretively loved it, especially this song. I can see the room, I can smell the fragrances of our home, I can see my Mom singing along and getting taken away by the passion of the song. Growing up with a professional pianist mother who loves music immensely and music is literally her life, well, you get influenced! It’s inevitable. Whether it was classical music, Neil Diamond, Abba, Julio Iglesias, gospel music, classic rock or Yanni – music has always filled the homes that I grew up in.

Music was and is a source of therapy, a source of freedom, a source of great escape. And goodness knows, when I hear certain songs, I am totally transported back in time!  I can hear a song from the movie Annie and instantly be transported to the early 1980s when I would act out the entire movie in my living room for my family. I can hear the song “Dumb Dog” from when Annie is singing to the dog Sandy and instantly feel myself back in my childhood backyard where I used to sing the song to my own dog as I wandered around my yard pretending I was on the streets of New York. I can even smell the pine trees!  When I hear the Guns-n-Roses’ song, “November Rain” I am totally taken back to 1992 when my best friend Tammy and I went to the Metallica/Guns-n-Roses concert at Williams Brice Stadium and thought we were the coolest chicks ever.  Or, “Crockadile Rock” by Elton John, which takes me right to my varsity cheerleading auditions in which I overcame insecurities and went for it, having a blast with the choreography, making the varsity team.  I think of my team and Coach Elliott every time I hear that song and I can literally feel the school carpet under my sneakers as I rehearsed and auditioned.

I could fill page after page of the songs that create a time machine for me that transports me back to glorious moments and memories in which I can still remember the setting perfectly, recreating the moment in such a way that I feel I could close my eyes and still feel, see, and touch everything around me from that special moment in time.  It’s a brilliant thing indeed to be touched so profoundly!  My wish is that my mind and heart are able to always hold onto to this sensory ability that music brings out in me. Here’s to hoping my virtual time machine never breaks down! I hope and pray that music will always have this magical ability to transport me, allowing memories to flood my senses.

Where does your virtual time machine take you? What songs transport you to fabulous moments and special memories?  Pay attention and take note of these priceless songs and allow them to take you back, so that they can stay with you throughout your lifetime!