Start The New Year With Gratitude

Start The New Year With Gratitude

Gratitude is expressing thanks. This can be done internally in quiet moments of prayer, or meditation, or it can be spread out in to the world. Either way, to express thanks, can be the basis from which to live your best life. As we begin another New Year, consider starting a practice of showing or expressing gratitude daily Do you want to feel happier? Would you like to increase your sense of well-being, your energy and optimism? Are you motivated to decrease your stress level? Cultivating a daily discipline of expressing gratitude can reap these rewards. Get started by writing in a journal all the things you are grateful for, or by consciously reciting in your mind all the things you are thankful to have in your life. One can get creative with practicing gratitude by setting a gratitude jar in the kitchen to drop notes into, or record them on your smart phone for later reference. When thinking of things you are grateful for, move beyond the expected such as family and friends. If you broaden the scope of things you are grateful for, in time, even the smallest thing such as a new bud on your rosebush, or your pet learning a new trick, will bring you peace and joy and reduce your stress levels. It’s easy to feel grateful for the good things you have in your life, what is hard, is to feel grateful for the challenges that life has delivered. This is where the notion of discipline comes in to play. Discipline is the exercise of self-control. You have the choice to see things in a negative light, or to give them a positive spin. Practice and discipline yourself to feel, think and express thanks. Making the conscious choice to live in gratitude will be

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Hate Crimes And Suicide Rates In The LGBTQ Community

In 1998, Matthew Shepard was murdered at the age of 21 for being gay. His murderers assaulted him severely, and tied him to a fence with a rope while Shepard pleaded for his life. It was reported that Shepard was beaten so brutally that his face was completely covered in blood, except where it had been partially washed clean by his tears. In 1998, James Byrd, Jr., a 49-year-old African-American man, was murdered by known white supremacists. His three murderers beat him severely, urinated on him, then wrapped a heavy logging chain around his ankles so that they could drag him behind their pick-up truck. They drug him for three miles along an asphalt road. He was conscious throughout most of the ordeal until his body hit the edge of a culvert, severing his right arm and decapitating him. The three men dumped their victim’s mutilated remains in front of an African-American church; then went to a barbecue. The following morning, Byrd’s limbs were found scattered across a seldom-used road. The police found 81 places that were littered with Byrd’s remains. In response to these two brutal murders, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act, is an American Act of Congress, passed on October 22, 2009, and signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, This law expands the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. According to FBI statistics, of the over 113,000 hate crimes since 1991, 55% were motivated by racial bias, 17% by religious bias, 14% sexual orientation bias, 14% ethnicity bias, and 1% disability bias. Sexual orientation bias was found with the same frequency as ethnicity

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The First I Met A Transgender Female

Transgender is in the news with the announcement by Bruce Jenner, our American Olympic hero, that he is transgender and making the transition from male to female. Yet, how many of us have actually had the opportunity to sit down and talk frankly with a transgender person to hear their side of the story? In October 2011 I had that opportunity when I interviewed Stephanie Mott, the Executive Director of the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project. It was an eye-opening conversation which prompted me to write this blog differently than my other blogs. I’m going to relay in a brutally honest way the very personal reactions and feelings I had when meeting and interviewing a transgender female, Stephanie Mott. Before you read on, however, I want you to know that Stephanie stands out as one of my most favorite radio talk show guests. Her spirit moved me. It was a privilege to meet her. These are my reactions to my first meeting with a transgender female, Stephanie Mott Of course, the first thing I did when Stephanie walked in the door was size up her outfit, how she looked and what she was wearing. That’s not to say that, being female, I don’t do that with every woman I meet, but this just seemed different. I had a heightened awareness of the fact that in walked a female Stephanie, who had been born a male Stephen. While I consider myself open and accepting of all people, I’m ashamed to say I was momentarily panicked when needing to direct Stephanie to the restroom. Men’s room, or Lady’s room? I’d never been in this situation before and for a moment I didn’t know what to do. Having to make a split second decision, I know I made the right one by directing

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Online Piracy, Read This Before You Download Your Favorite Episode Of “Game of Thrones”

Writers, musicians, filmmakers and artists love to create. Online pirates love to steal their creations. Artists whose creations have reached a modicum of success have spent years honing their craft. They’ve spent countless hours writing or recording only to spend countless more hours re-writing and re-recording to get their book, song or screenplay to a point of artistic expression they can be proud of. Online pirates love to sit at their computers looking for creative works to steal and disseminate. They get a thrill from stealing, hoping to make money while not getting caught. Or, they feel justified in downloading their favorite TV series for free. After all, don’t those big production companies make millions? Pirates rob, plunder and hijack. Artists produce the music, art, and films that fill voids in our lives. Just as you want your personal property to be protected, artists deserve to have their intellectual property protected by our laws. Based on the number of downloads, BitTorrent reported that “Game of Thrones” was the most pirated TV show in 2014. It was downloaded 8.1 million times. The second most downloaded show was “The Walking Dead” with 4.8 million downloads, then “The Big Bang Theory” with 3.9 million downloads. That’s a whole lot of plundering and hijacking. Arts.mic reports that “Game of Thrones” costs 6 million per episode to make. “Big Bang Theory” costs 2 million. Without profits, which are diminished by online piracy, these productions would cease. As reported at RIIA.com (the Recording Industry Association Website), digital content theft of music has been devastating to the industry. “Employment at the major U.S. music companies has declined by thousands of workers.” Think about the fact that every time you pirate digital media in the form of music, movies or a television series, you are contributing to taking

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School Officials Let Popular Student Get Away With Bullying

This father wants to do the right thing by his son who is being bullied by the popular kid at school, but he also wants to work within the system of school administrators in a reasonable way. He’s not about making waves; he just wants to protect his son. Ed first heard from his son about the bullying. Soon after, he found out that the school officials knew his son was being bullied at school, but he was never notified. As this father delved deeper in to the issue, he came to feel like this bully was “getting away with it” because his parents are very involved in the school’s athletic programs. The bully’s parents, in response to hearing that their son was being accused of being a bully, were heard to say that this was all because their son is “popular.” When your child is bullied, and school officials know about it but don’t notify you, what is a father to do? Ed felt that the school officials weren’t taking the aggression toward his son seriously. As taken from violencepreventionworks.org, when schools don’t take action against bullies, the entire climate of the school can be affected. An environment of fear and disrespect develops. Students can begin to dislike school. School administrators who take the stance of “looking the other way” or “letting bullies off the hook” can leave students feeling insecure. All can adversely impact learning. When action isn’t taken at our schools to address bullying, the students can begin to feel that their teachers and school principal don’t care about them as individuals. That, or they can be seen as ineffective in controlling the student population. Eventually, school officials will be called to task and the community as a whole may get involved. Parents, like Ed, won’t stand

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Good Cop, Bad Cop

One job I never wanted for my sons was to be a policeman. I told them so, and I’m thankful they chose other career paths. As a mother, I wouldn’t sleep at night knowing they were placing themselves in danger. Our police risk their lives every day protecting us and upholding the laws. They deserve our respect and admiration, but, as my friend who is a member of our local police force tells me, morale is low. Public perception of police is at an all time low in the wake of national media reports and national protests centered on racial profiling and police brutality. Yes, we do have mostly good cops doing a good job for the citizens, but there are also some bad cops out there. Cops that, for whatever reason, take the powers entrusted them too far. One should expect to find a small percentage of “bad cops” in the ranks. Every profession has its rogue individuals. You don’t have to look hard to find errant Doctors, Lawyers, Celebrities, and even Clergy. Yet, we need to be mindful that the majority of the people we look up to are doing good work. If a few bad cops are carrying out racial profiling and police brutality, we shouldn’t put our head in the sand or look the other way. We should stand up for just treatment of all our citizens, regardless of their race. Yet, it is easier to make a case for unjust racial profiling or police brutality if the victim is a law-abiding citizen who has done no wrong. Doug Glanville, a retired Major League Baseball player and ESPN correspondent, wrote, “I was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway”. He was confronted by a police officer while shoveling snow in his affluent, mostly white, neighborhood in an

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