Category Archives: Random

My Daughter’s Coach was Arrested

My daughter’s coach was recently arrested on charges related to child pornography and alleged sexual misconduct with children. I am not going to go into detail about who he was or what he coached her in – these facts are not what it important to our story. What is important is this was a man we trusted in our lives – in our daughter’s life and he “allegedly” is a very bad person.

Let me start at the beginning – when my daughter was 6 years old, a friend introduced us to this coach, I will call him Bill. Bill had been working with their daughter for several months and was really helping her to improve in her sport. Bill began working with my daughter as well, frequently as often as once a week for nearly two years. He met privately with my daughter either at our home or a local park and either my husband or I were always there. I never had a twinge of uncertainty about him. I am a psychologist who has specialized in trauma work, often with children who had been the victim of abuse. Again, I didn’t have the smallest twinge of discomfort around this man. My daughter was never alone with him, but that was because we liked watching her train. It wasn’t because I was worried about him. I even invited him to one of her birthday parties.

Fast forward to present day. My daughter hasn’t trained with Bill for over two years, not because of bad feelings, but because we just got too busy and the sessions faded away. My husband, daughter and I were on a cruise – no cell phone reception and I hadn’t been checking my emails. We pulled into port, I turned my cell phone back on and it lit up. Dozens of text messages about Bill. A number of people had recognized Bill’s picture on the TV news story about his arrest – for child pornography and sexual relationships with children. My husband and I processed the information and had to have a series of conversations with our daughter. We had to talk about Bill being arrested, what he was arrested for and whether anything had ever happened to/with her. We had to explore how she would not be in trouble if anything had happened and how it would not be her fault. So far, she has repeatedly (strongly) denied anything happened, but we will keep checking in with her. I know kids don’t always disclose abuse. I am somewhat comforted by the fact that they were never alone, but I also know perpetrators just need a moment of distraction to strike.

I had a phone call with the investigator from the police department who had me send over a photo of my daughter to compare against the images on Bill’s hard drive. There was no match. For us, for now, this situation is over. It does give me pause to consider who I allow in my daughter’s life and the type of contact they will be given. Part of the reason I stopped doing trauma work and left Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles when my daughter was born, was the fear that I would feel compelled to raise my daughter in a bubble. I would turn around and see potential perpetrators everywhere (family members, friends, teachers, religious leaders, and, yes, coaches). Maybe the sad thing is we need to do this to some extent. Not necessarily that we need to accuse everyone in our lives of attempting to abuse our children, but being exceptionally selective of who gets access and not allowing that access to be unsupervised. It’s unfortunate to have to take such a cynical approach to the world, but right now it seems so much better than the alternative.

Advertisements

Will you still love me when you are a teenager?

Do you remember that scene in Pretty Woman when Vivian (the prostitute played by Julia Roberts) is talking to Edward (the billionaire played by Richard Gere) about the punch his attorney, Stuckey (played by Jason Alexander) threw at her? She wonders how boys always know how to punch a woman and make it feel like her eye is about to explode. She asks if boys are taken aside in gym class and taught this “skill”.  Of course they aren’t and, as Edward Lewis points out, not all boys hit.

I am wondering if someone has taken my ten-year-old aside and has been giving her tips on how to be a teenager. I don’t mean the eye rolling and deep sighs – she has that down already. I’m talking more about psychological warfare. Let me explain. The other day my daughter and husband were hanging out and she looked at him and said, “I love you Dad.” He smiled and said, “I love you, too, peanut. Will you still love me when you are a teenager?” Her response? “Of course I will. It just won’t always feel like I do.” Seriously. Who took her aside and gave her this little piece of insight?

I now have visions of older girls at the dance studio laying out the game plan. I have can imagine a huge chalkboard with lessons detailing how to keep your parents on their toes and how to never allow them to be fully comfortable while parenting a teenager. There are Xs and Os detailing each person’s position and offensive and defensive plays.

Lord, we are in trouble.

Jillian Barberie just recommended leaving a woman to be beaten

OK – I need to vent a little. I was driving home after dropping Charlie off at dance class (a full-time job, I swear) and I was listening to talk radio killing some time. Here in Southern California there is a station KABC 790 AM which airs various talk radio format shows. At this particular time it was “The Drive Home with Jillian Barberie and John Phillips”. Jillian was sharing how she and a friend were at El Pollo Loco in the greater So Cal area over the weekend and had witnessed a man beating on a woman, screaming at her in Spanish. She further shared her conviction he was on drugs and was upset the woman had used up his supply. Jillian then shared that her friend had wanted to run out to her car so she could use her cell phone to call the police and get help for the woman. Jillian explained how she had talked her friend out of it and told her not to get involved. She made some reference about how she knew the woman would just get back together with him anyway (in fact they were probably already back together now) and it would be such a waste of time to make a report. She complained about the pain in the ass it would be to have to put her name to the report and maybe testify.

I was absolutely horrified by this response and John Phillips’ seconding the notion she should pretend to see nothing (“like a referee in professional wrestling”). Really? What if this woman is killed? I understand we need to consider our own safety – no one is saying you have to let loose a flying tackle on the guy and risk your own life. But – call the police. Try to get help. Maybe he is her boyfriend and maybe she will take him back, but that should never stop us from doing the right thing. Our moral compass is not supposed to be based on outcome, but on doing the right thing because it is right. The end.

Do you remember the story of Catherine Genovese? In the 1960’s, Catherine Genovese was walking home from work when she was attacked by a man with a knife. She screamed repeatedly for help, but no one came. When lights turned on in neighboring apartments, the perpetrator ran away, afraid he would be caught. He then noticed no one coming and returned and killed her. It was later noted that no less than 38 people heard or saw some part of the attack and did nothing. The police were never called until she was dead. (The attack itself lasted over 30 minutes.)

If we followed Jillian Barberie’s example, we, too, would have stood by and waited for her to die without lifting a finger to come to her aid. I don’t care if the woman at El Pollo Loco ultimately went back to her abusive boyfriend (assuming that is even who he was), but I would have had the comfort of knowing for one night I did what I could to help and keep her safe. After that, it is up to her.

Kanye West: Total Douche -or- Media Mastermind

I was watching the Grammys this week and, like many of you, I was horrified by the behavior of one Kanye West. Now, there has been a lot of backlash out there about his frequent theatrics and, likely, narcissistic tendencies, but for some reason this man continually needs to come to the defense of Beyonce anytime she loses a Grammy award. The public response has included an amazing open letter by Garbage frontwoman, Shirley Manson, where she takes the high road and asks Kanye to cut it out (https://www.facebook.com/shirleymanson/posts/10152927970266387) and a Buzzfeed.com post depicting all the reasons why Beck should have beaten Beyonce in the Grammy race (http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/why-beck-beat-beyonce?bffb&utm_term=4ldqpgp#.kdYwjmRvqz) – this does not include the myriad of posts I have read calling Kanye a number of not-so-polite names.

I am coming at this from a different angle – is Kanye West a total douche or is he a media mastermind. Since Sunday night we have been talking about nothing Grammy-related without an in-depth discussion of his ridiculous behavior. He has found a way to keep himself topmost in our thoughts. If it is true that there is no such thing as bad publicity, this man has hit the motherlode.  If he would rather be vilified than forgotten, he is one happy camper these days.

There are some fortunate and unfortunate consequences of Kanye’s behavior:

  1. Winner: Beck. OK, Kanye totally douched him out of his big moment at the award show, this is 100% true. But, and this is a big but, the controversy surrounding this situation has exposed Beck and his music to an audience who may have been previously unfamiliar. He (though not exactly a media-whore by temperament) is benefitting by his name in the media and the sympathies of a Kanye-sick nation.
  2. Loser: Beyonce. Don’t get me wrong – she did absolutely nothing wrong. Kanye keeps stepping up to defend this grown woman who is doing just fine on her own. She is reportedly happily married, amazingly talented, enjoying motherhood, widely successful, and absolutely gorgeous. She does not need Kanye fighting her battles. His behavior only weakens her. She is strong on her own.
  3. Loser: Kanye. He may be a talented musician – this is somewhat subjective and likely depends on your musical preferences, but, by this point, I am not sure anyone even notices this anymore. He is a “character” not an artist.

Can we make this man stop? Nope. Absolutely not. Unless the award shows are going to start having bodyguards positioned around the stage to stop non-winners from storming the stage, he will likely continue to act like an ass. Really, the only thing we can do is ignore him. Consider him like a bully on the playground. Tell him, “No”, set the limit, and then ignore him and hope he will go away.

As Fame ↑, Common Sense ↓

Have you ever wondered where the line gets crossed for celebrities? You know the line where they cross from being “regular” people making “regular” money to becoming someone who doesn’t bat an eye at a $3000 handbag. They jet set around the world, wear expensive and designer clothes (even when designed to look casual and inexpensive), drive luxury cars, and live in humungous houses. Most of these people (but not all), were born average people who lived in average houses or apartments and had parents who made ends meet working more typical jobs.

You may wonder what made me think of this – well, it is something that has bounced around in my mind for years, but, recently, it was Gwyneth Paltrow who has received a lot of media attention for a recommendation for a “V-steam” she made on her GOOP website or in its newsletter. Now, from what I can gather, this is a relatively inexpensive indulgence (I think it was something like $25), but to families making ends meet, $25 to have your vagina steam-cleaned (seriously) seems the height of idiocy.

I read a lot of magazines largely geared toward a female readership. Often within the pages, there is a section dedicated to celebrity product recommendations (either direct or indirect). These can include anything from food products or beverages, makeup and skincare, clothing and accessories and/or furniture/décor. Rarely are these items anything a typical reader would ever be able to comfortably afford. Now, I know there are a percentage of readers who might simply enjoy learning some intimate detail about their favorite celebrities without ever hoping to purchase those items themselves, but I have to think there are those who are actually seeking product recommendations. Do these celebrities understand most people cannot manage $145 for 0.5 oz of La Mer eye cream?

Do you think this is a gradual process? Do they start out feeling comfortable and confident with a $30 purse from Target only to move onto a $150 bag from Fossil? Are there Coach bags and Michael Kors on their way to Louis Vuitton and Berkin handbags? Does your average celebrity marvel at the cost of her clothing (even though she can afford it or gets it for free)?

What do you think? How does it happen?

Super Bowl Commercials: Winners and Losers

These are placed as ranked by Ad Meter which rates viewers responses to various commercials. I might have rearranged them a bit and added/dropped one or two, but no one asked me.

  1. Budweiser, “Lost Dog” — Ad Meter rating: 8.10

Let’s be real – Budweiser knows how to pull the heartstrings. Cute puppy being cared for by gigantic Clydesdales – it’s a gimme. Hot farmer doesn’t hurt…

  1. Always, “Like a Girl” — 7.10

I really like the idea of this commercial. It sucks that women were even making fun of running or throwing “like a girl”. It was a “nice” commercial.

  1. Fiat, “Blue Pill” — 6.87

I don’t mind admitting my initial concern this was a commercial for Viagra. I have nothing against Viagra per se, but I really didn’t want to see a commercial for it – ageism? Loved when I realized it was a car commercial. Clever.

  1. Microsoft, “Braylon” — 6.74

I love the story. I love that Microsoft was working to help this little man – at least I think that was what they were implying. Not sure if this makes me want to buy a computer or not, but it does give me squishier feelings for Microsoft than I may have had before. I think I am being manipulated. Oh, wait – they are commercials – of course I am being manipulated.

  1. Doritos, “Middle Seat” — 6.71

Who hasn’t wanted to pull out this bag of tricks to avoid having someone sit in the space-invading middle “bitch” seat on an airplane? Cute idea. Nice twist at the end being forced to fly next to a baby – potentially one of the nine circles of hell.

  1. Dodge, “Wisdom” — 6.64

At first, they shared very positive, sage (kinda boring) advice. Just when my attention started to drift away, they got twisted and funny. What a great idea to show another side of centurions. Great tie in.

  1. Toyota, “My Bold Dad” — 6.59

OK – I may be slightly biased toward this one. I am a mom of a little girl and I chose a really amazing dad for her. I was weepy within a few seconds of this commercial. It really pulled at my heartstrings. I loved how they showed the dad always being there for his girl and what a subtle twist of having her enter the military instead of the more expected college drop off.

  1. Coca-Cola, “Make It Happy” — 6.50

I really love the idea of changing digital interactions from negative to positive. I have to admit I am not 100% on board with this commercial – it fell a little flat for me, but, again, I really liked the concept.

  1. Nissan, “With Dad” — 6.47

I am a little ashamed to admit that I didn’t really get this one. I understood the dad travelled for work (as a race car driver) and that the son and mom missed him throughout the years. Not sure I knew he quit to be home with his family though…

  1. McDonald’s, “Pay with Lovin’” — 6.45

OK – McDonald’s – don’t sue me, but I don’t eat McDonald’s. I have allergies and try to eat pseudo-healthy, so McDonald’s is not on my go to list. (I will admit that while I was pregnant, I craved McDonald’s sundaes with wild abandon). Despite all of that, I liked this commercial. It made me feel slightly warm and fuzzy about McDonald’s. I even found myself thinking about stopping by the fast food restaurant on my way to work this morning. I didn’t, but they definitely mind-melded me!

And I could not forget:

The Hall of Shame

The Nationwide Dead Kid Commercial

Oh Dear Lord! This commercial was absolutely horrible. It was so bad, I immediately started talking with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter as soon as it was over. So… the kid never got to travel or get cooties or get married… because he died in an accident. This is the Super Bowl people! What a downer. Someone (or a lot of someones) needs to be fired. I wasn’t planning on contacting Nationwide for my insurance needs anyway (I am all good in this department), but now they are permanently associated with a dead kid in my mind. No thanks.

What do you think? Am I full of crap?

Unanswered Prayers

I’ve talked about my daughter before – her name is Charlie and she is almost 10 years old. She is awesome and I love her, but she has recently taken a turn for the dramatic (could it be teen hormones already?). Anyway… I was tucking her into bed the other day and she looked at me and asked, “Why doesn’t anything ever go my way?” (Like I said, a flare for the dramatic). We had a long talk about what it was that was bothering her and resolved her current crisis as best we could at 9 PM. I even added a little reality check about using words like “never” and “always”.

Everything seemed good, but it got me to thinking – we (all of us) have a tendency to assume not getting our way is always a bad thing. We assume if something else had happened, everything would have been better. Let me give you an easy example- a client was recently in a car accident. It wasn’t anything too traumatic, but there was car damage which is always a hassle. My client was in my office complaining how she keeps getting screwed by life and if she had only left 5 minutes later (or earlier) the accident could have been avoided. I think it is perfectly natural to feel this way, but it is important to remember things could have been actually worse. Maybe a different, more serious car accident would have occurred. It is impossible to know. We can waste so much time focused on what “might” have happened.

There is even a song about it. Do you know Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayers”? Here is a peek, if you aren’t sure (http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-13-greatest-country-songs-for-thanksgiving-20141125/garth-brooks-unanswered-prayers-1990-20141125). It’s all about a man who goes back to his home town and sees his high school girlfriend with whom he had so desperately wanted a future. The relationship had not worked out and both had moved on. When the singer looks around, he realizes how not getting what he wanted actually helped him to get what he really needed after all (wife, kids, happiness). The ways that not getting what we want actually serves us is not always so transparent or direct, but it is important to try not to spend too much time on what might have been at the detriment of what actually is.

My stepdad died about 12 years ago after a painful bout with pancreatic cancer. I was living on the West Coast while he and my mom were in Michigan. I got a call one day I should come home because the doctors determined he did not have much time left. I booked a flight for the next day, but he passed before I got there. For a fairly long while I was torn up about not having had an opportunity to say goodbye. I had this dramatic vision of a Hollywood deathbed goodbye where we shared our feelings (all good) and he peacefully went to “sleep”. I felt cheated of this. Over time, I became aware that his deathbed was likely nothing like this. He was not conscious and communicating. I was spared seeing him so ill. My last memory of him is not him sickly and weak, but up and about and teasing me. I was not cheated, but was spared. I did not get what I wanted, but it was for the best.

So, here is my takeaway – if you get frustrated about something that happened (or didn’t happen), remember it may have been in your best interest. Even if you can’t see how it is good for you, try not to dwell too much on what could have been (or should have been) and, instead, focus on what is. Try to make your “is” as good as you can.

No Time Like the Present – that means NOW

I need you all to explain something to me. What is this magical power that “Monday” seems to have? Ah! Everything seems to wait until Monday. A friend will talk to me about reinvesting themselves in working out – going to the gym, running in their neighborhood, biking to work, you name it – I am, of course, slightly intimidated and incredibly impressed by their commitment and drive. Then they say those three little words – no, not “I love you”, but of course they do, but “I’ll start Monday.” What? Wait a minute – why wait until Monday? Dude, it’s, like, Tuesday…

I have been guilty of this myself. Somehow there is this idea what any new change has to happen at the beginning of the week or it isn’t “official” or something. That is crap, I tell you, crap. You want to start something new? Want to make a change? Well, there is no time like the present. Start today. Right now. This minute. Don’t even wait to start tomorrow morning. Now!

You may be wondering why I am being so pushy – well, a lot can happen between now and tomorrow morning or Monday. A lot can happen between now and then that will interfere with you plans. It is too easy to keep putting things off until Monday, next month, summer, after the holidays, etc. Procrastination party of one! If you are motivated now and have created a plan – do it. I don’t care if you ate the junk foodiest breakfast on Earth this morning, you can still start your plan to eat healthier now. Spent a crap ton at the mall today? Well, you can start being more “fiscally responsible” right now.

So, the next time you are going to make a change in your life, please remember – there is no time like the present.

Scent Memory

Have you ever been out in the world minding your own business and suddenly a scent crosses your path and you are immediately transported to another place and another time in your life? That happened to me today! I was out jogging, minding my own business – thinking about nothing much and letting my mind wander when I crossed in front of a house where someone was burning incense. Wham! It was only for a few steps, but there it was and instantly I was back in college. When I was back at Michigan State (particularly freshman and sophomore years), I went through a bit of a hippy-dippy phase. I was a vegetarian, wore Birkenstocks, covered myself in flannel, and, of course, burned incense. Like I said, I could only smell it for a few steps and then I was passed the house, but I was filled with feelings of happiness, relaxation and, just a bit of nostalgia.

Any of you have scents that are closely connected to a memory or time in your life?

Drama only Belongs on the Stage

We’ve talked about toxic people in the past, you and I, and the toll they can take on you and your relationships. But when I asked my daughter for suggestions about this blog, she asked that I write about drama and the people who seem to enjoy creating it. It is kind of sad, really, that my 9-year-old is already picking up on this in others, but maybe that’s because she seems to enjoy creating it herself at times and that helps her to recognize it in others.

There are a number of different types of drama queens. (I use this term non-gender specifically, as there are just as many male drama queens as female – maybe more):

  1. The attention whore – This drama queen needs to be in the center of attention at all times. She always has an exciting story to share at the top of her lungs, so you couldn’t ignore her even if you tried. She is often extremely entertaining, so most of the time you don’t mind at all. She can be tiring over long periods of time, though.
  2. The chronically ill – I don’t mean people who are legitimately sick. This drama queen always has a headache or an upset stomach or a hurt foot or a sore back. You get the idea. There is always a complaint and she loves sharing it with you. It gets to the point where, instead of saying, “Hi”, you want to say, “So, what hurts today?”
  3. The pot stirrer – Ooooh, this queen is a sneaky one. She creates the drama behind the scenes. She tells Person A something about Person B and then tells that reaction to Person C. She then sits back to watch and see what happens. She doesn’t want to be involved in the fireworks, but sure enjoys the show.
  4. The exaggerator – I don’t think this drama queen even realizes she is doing it, but everything that happens to her is HUGE, at least when she tells the tale. Every date is epically good or bad, all disagreements are explosive, and all successes deserving of a parade. Her life is one of extremes which is exhausting to all involved.

If you see a queen, you don’t necessarily have to run screaming in the other direction – remember, sometimes they are fun. What you do need to know is with whom you are dealing. Know if someone in your life is a drama queen. It will help you to decide how best to interpret what she shares with you. Do you take it at face value or do you need to translate it through some anti-drama program to get the real deal? You may save yourself unnecessary time spent in an emotional wringer.

What do you think? Did I miss anyone? I’d love your suggestions about any underrepresented drama queens.