No One to Trust?

Posted: February 23, 2013 in Managing life
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I met a young man this week who is 17. He lives with his mother and 2 younger siblings. He has a younger brother in juvenile detention and an older brother in prison. He thinks he is a psychopath in the making.

I met him the night he threw his 12-year-old sister against the wall and punched his mom in the face a few times. He was asking for help to get away so he wouldn’t hurt them and could get away from his mom.

In talking to him, he shared that he isn’t close to anyone; he doesn’t like socializing; and his plan is to get his own place, go to work, support himself, and live in isolation. He doesn’t trust anyone.

This sounds like the story of a crazy kid, but it’s really the story of a mother who can’t be trusted.

Have you ever had a conversation or an experience with someone then they turned around and retold the story completely different? For example:

You and I go to Wal-Mart to buy some snacks. While we’re there, I realize I lost my $5 bill. You offer to get me the snacks and let me pay you back. I refuse.

Later, you hear me telling our friends that you stole $5 from me while we were in Wal-Mart so I wasn’t able to get any snacks.

This is the type of thing this young man has been living with his whole life. Mom says or does one thing in his presence then, when professionals come around, the story changes. It’s enough to make a person FEEL crazy.

Another sad part of this story is that he needed to go to a hospital that night. He was feeling like killing himself and his mom. Three different professionals, including the police, told mom she needs to sign him into a hospital, but she refused. She didn’t want to take the time to help him.

So….17 years of this type of treatment. 17 years of mom lying, saying negative things about him, and not protecting him.

Because the most significant person in his life has been untrustworthy and uncaring, his view of the world is that no one can be trusted and no one cares.

If you are feeling this way, perhaps you can look back and see where this message may have come from. But, more importantly, look forward and know that there ARE people who can be trusted and who care. We all make mistakes, and sometimes we let others down, but that doesn’t necessarily make me untrustworthy.

I am trustworthy when I am characterized by doing what I say I’m going to do, being honest, and doing things that lift you up rather than tear you down.

Of course there are people who take advantage of others or who treat others terribly. But don’t let those people keep you from meeting the ones who will love and accept you…the ones you can trust.

If you believe no one can be trusted, it’s a lie. The truth may actually be that someone significant in your life can’t be trusted.

If you have been betrayed, then you know the type of behavior to look out for. Don’t assume a person can’t be trusted. Base your determination on behavior you can see…behavior you have seen before.

There are kind-hearted, trustworthy people out there. Keep searching…


You Want to try Meth?

Posted: January 28, 2013 in Managing life
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Think back to something really exciting in your life. At my old age, I’ve got MANY!!

In high school, I was excited when David asked me out, when I received a valentine-gram in class, when I was nominated for homecoming queen, and when I graduated.

In adulthood I was excited when my children were born, when I got a promotion, when I graduated from college, when a publisher sent me a contract to publish my book.

There are many, many more things than these, but I remember being super happy when each of these things happened.

Meth multiplies that feeling times 100. The problem is, you’re never able to return to that level of normal happiness after you’ve been a meth user.

Imagine getting engaged and not feeling happy or landing that perfect job and feeling mediocre about it. This is unrealistic anyway. If you’re a meth user, you’re not landing a great job. You’re not in a healthy relationship. You’re not finishing college or living in an awesome house.

The first couple times you use meth, it’s awesome. Every time after that, it’s not so great. And don’t forget, you’re never getting back to normal feelings of happiness and joy.

I met a 16-year-old girl the other day who has been using meth. She has the “meth splotches” on her face: red marks that look like crap. She also has the scabs along her arms from picking at perceived things crawling on or under her skin. She looked like hell. But, the real problem wasn’t how she looked. It was what she was experiencing thanks to meth use.

She had been hanging out with “friends” earlier in the day, using meth. At one point, one of the other meth-users demanded this girl’s phone. She probably wanted to trade it for drugs. When the owner of the phone wouldn’t give up the phone, her so-called friend pulled a knife on her.

The rest of the night was the typical meth-induced paranoia. She thought she kept seeing people who were coming to kill her. She was convinced this girl was related to the mob and had put out a contract on her.

In reality, the girl was probably out smoking meth. The drug has both of these girls held hostage. This is typical.

I see people of all ages held prisoner by meth.

I met a 56-year-old woman who has been using meth for a few years. She has no teeth. Her skin is scabbed and splotchy. Her cheeks are drawn. She can’t stop talking. She has had most of her personal possessions stolen. She lives alone in a dump with a bug infestation. She has no transportation. No money. No joy in her life at all. She is ready to die.

Meth sounds like a fun time when it is offered to you. But, read the fine print. Life will never be the same again.

The joy and pleasure that you experience naturally…the awesome experiences that come to you…those are enough! That excitement is something you can experience for free over and over throughout your life.

Protect your happiness. Say no to meth.

Check the Street Signs

Posted: July 7, 2012 in Managing life
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What road are you on?

I met a 17-year-old young man the other day. His parents are separated and both drug users. Mom is in a domestic violence situation with another drug user. These adults have burned all his bridges for him: none of the family members want anything to do with this clan.

This young man turns 18 in 5 months. He has no job, 1 high school credit, and a probation officer (partly due to past heroine use.) As soon as he turns 18, he’s on his own…and he’s got no one and nothing at this point.

I also recently met a 14-year-old girl. She has been using alcohol for about a year…drinking heavily on the weekends, sneaking out of her house. She was treated for alcohol poisoning recently. Do you know what that means? If someone wouldn’t have noticed something was wrong, she would be dead today. In addition to the alcohol, she uses marijuana and has tried spice and various other things.

She has everything she needs: lives in a beautiful house in an expensive part of town, goes to a good school, mom and step dad are providing her with really cool stuff and money.

Both of these kids are on a dead-end street. It ends in death or homelessness or mental disorders…or all of the above.

The guy got on the wrong road because he had people pointing him in that direction and he didn’t stop to think about where he really wants to go.

The girl got on the wrong road because she wants to make sure she is doing exactly what her mom doesn’t want her to do. Mom tries to control her and she reacts by NOT doing what mom wants.

We all turn down the wrong road sometimes, but the important part is recognizing it and turning around. We have to keep in mind where we want to go. The choices we make today determine where we end up. I can’t get on a plane bound for South America and expect to end up in Europe. The girl wants to become a surgeon. She’s on a road that can easily lead to rape or death. It’s definitely not the road to medical school.

Where is your road taking you? Are you making your choices today based on where you want to go or turning down the street that happens to be right in front of you…where your friends are? It might be time to get out the map and make a plan. Don’t let your parents get in your way. Don’t let your friends talk you into something you don’t want. You’re behind the wheel. Map out your route today.


Posted: October 4, 2011 in Managing life
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A few weeks ago, near my home, a 13-year-old boy hung himself in the school bathroom. He was a popular kid – well liked. His parents said he was the “easy one.” So why would he kill himself? No one knows for sure. Maybe some of you have thought about it, so you can speculate on what might lead a great kid to kill himself.

Or, maybe you have a friend who has talked about suicide or attempted suicide and you see what they’re struggling with.

If you know someone who has successfully completed suicide, I’m so sorry. I have seen what the survivors go through. Their emotions can range from extreme sadness to guilt to anger. Often times those dealing with the pain of loss think about killing themselves too.

Suicide or suicide attempts are usually due to a person feeling stuck – there is no way out. Maybe they are suffering some sort of emotional pain and don’t see an end to it. Maybe they have a physical illness that causes chronic pain. Perhaps they are being abused and feel the only escape is to die. Life gets hard. The pain is unbearable sometimes. In those situations, some people contemplate suicide as the way out.

If you are someone who is thinking about suicide, I am going to give you a link at the bottom of this post for some phone numbers of people who want to help you. If you are someone who feels alone and that no one cares, you may be surprised to know that there ARE people who care. For example, I am writing this blog because I care. I work in a difficult, low-paying field just because I care about kids…I care about young people who are hurting. People who work on telephone hotlines do it because they care. Some of them work as volunteers, so they don’t get paid. They simply do it because they want to help someone who may be in need.

If you KNOW someone who is thinking about suicide, you may be unsure of what to do. Many kids are afraid to tell anyone because their friend will be angry. I would much rather have an angry friend than a dead friend. Even though they get angry, they will understand that you did it because you care. You need to tell someone, but who?

* The kid’s parents: The parents need to know unless there is a risk that the parents will hurt the kid.

* Your parents: Your parents may know how to get help for the kid and the family, how to approach the family with the information, and they may be able to help you support your friend.

* Your school counselor: Counselors are bound by confidentiality unless someone is in danger. They are also obligated to take steps to protect someone in danger. When you tell a counselor, they will have to do something about it. Plus, they will have resources for your friend and the family.

* A trusted teacher: Just like counselors, teachers are obligated to take steps to protect someone in danger. They will know who to go to for further help.

* Your clergy/pastor/priest, etc: Again, these folks are obligated to keep things confidential unless someone is in danger and they are obligated to help someone in danger. They are usually really good at supporting the family in a personal way too.

* Any trusted adult: If they don’t know what to do, they should know who to go to for information and direction.

* If you feel your friend is in danger right now, call 911. It is the fastest way to get help to their front door and keep your friend safe until further help can be provided such as a crisis team or a hospital.

I found this great website that lists hotlines by state:

They also have resources and a forum. It appears to be a great support for folks who are struggling with life. Please check it out:

Although we may not have met, I care about you. Your life is valuable to me because I believe you were created special. You have a purpose in this world.

Amazon Gift Card Winner

Posted: October 2, 2011 in Giveaways

Dawn G. is the winner of the $20 Amazon gift card. Congratulations Dawn and thank you for helping to spread the word about my new blog!

What Would You Do?

Posted: September 2, 2011 in Managing life

Did you see the story about the youth football game that turned violent? It was the Gators against the Huskies. The Gators coaching staff was unhappy with the referee’s call. One of the coaches pushed the ref then a players ran over and tackled him. Next thing you see is a mob of Gators, Huskies, referees, and parents pushing and yelling. It was a hideous scene.

However, it is a good life lesson.

In my book… the book of how to succeed in life without being arrested, killed, or maimed… pushing someone or TACKLING someone because you’re angry is WRONG. It’s wrong every time. I don’t care if you’re a kid or a parent. We just can’t “settle” our differences through physical violence. We also can’t take our anger out on people violently.

But here’s the life lesson:

There were a lot of guys on each sideline. The Huskies stayed on the sidelines and the Gators joined in the brawl. What caused each kid to make the decision to join or stand on the sideline? 

Some kids are prone to violence. Maybe they’ve been treated violently and this is how they learned to treat others. Some kids follow the crowd. They are afraid that if they act different from those around them, they’ll be rejected or made fun of. Some kids know violence is wrong and choose to stay on the sideline. Some kids aren’t sure what to do, so they go along with what their friends are doing.

The Huskies stayed on the sideline either because they know what’s right and what’s wrong and they chose RIGHT, because their friends stayed. Some may have stayed because the coach made it very clear they needed to stay there…they respected the coach’s direction.

The question for you is, are you hanging out with Gators: People who know what they are doing is wrong, but do it anyway? Or people who have so little self-control, they do stupid things without thinking? Or, are you hanging out with the Huskies? The ones who encourage you do to what’s right – the ones who show respect for the coach?

The Gators and their coaches are currently waiting for charges to be brought up against them, and some arrests will probably be made. The Huskies are preparing for their next game.

Famous People with ADHD

Posted: September 1, 2011 in Managing life recently featured a list of famous people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD.) I love it because I see so many kids with ADHD who have a negative view of themselves and their parents or teachers often have a negative view of their behavior.

People with ADHD struggle with many of the following things:

  • difficulty with details
  • can’t pay attention for long
  • difficulty following directions
  • easily distracted
  • often lose things
  • forgetful
  • can’t sit still
  • talk excessively
  • parents accuse them of not listening

Some of the famous people who have been diagnosed with ADHD are Jim Carey (actor,) Justin Timberlake (musician,) Ty Pennington (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,) Michael Phelps (Olympic swimmer,) Will Smith (actor/musician,) and the founders of Virgin, Kinkos, and JetBlue Airways. Psychology Today magazine reports that people with ADHD are 300% more likely to start their own company.

People with ADHD have difficulty focusing on details which can cause difficulty in school, but this inattention to detail gives them the ability to focus on the BIG picture and BIG ideas. This is why they become so successful in life.

If you are struggling in school and feel you have many of the struggles listed above, talk to your parents.  If they aren’t sure where to go for help, you can talk to your school counselor or a trusted teacher for direction.

Get the help you need to succeed in school today. Tomorrow, you will be the next founder of successful business!

You Could Change The World

Posted: August 22, 2011 in Encouragement

I attended Meet-The-Teacher night tonight at Jess’ school. His language arts teacher had the following quote on her Powerpoint:

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead

Think about that. It doesn’t say that highly intelligent people change the world, or freakishly talented people change the world. It says anyone who is able to think and imagine something better than we currently have, who gets together with a couple like-minded people, can and DO change the world.

Do you know what the means??? It means I could change the world. It means YOU could change the world! There is nothing stopping you!!

Sometimes we tend to get bogged down in our struggles:

“My grades aren’t good enough to get into college.”

“No one cares about me and no one supports me.”

“I’ve been to jail. Who would want to hire me?”

Here are 3 more quotes for you:

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  ~ Thomas Paine

Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.  ~ Robert Schuller

Poverty was the greatest motivating factor in my life.  ~ Jimmy Dean

Your struggle may just be your motivation to push beyond those around you. Who is going to work harder: The guy whose parents buy him a brand new Mustang for no apparent reason or the guy who is hungry with no food in the fridge? The hardship is what gives us courage and strength. Overcoming that hardship gives us a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that the guy in the Mustang will never know.

When my boys were young, they were in Karate. Every time there was a competition every single kid who participated got a trophy. It wasn’t because they had superior skills. It was simply because they showed up. Every kid got the same trophy.

So, I ask you, which would you prefer: a trophy because you showed up, or an Olympic gold medal? Of course the gold medal! That was earned through fierce hard work and accomplishment. Overcoming our difficulties, using those to push us to change the world, is your gold medal.

Embrace the difficulties you face in life knowing that those are vital ingredients to your accomplishments. They will light your path.

You are on your way to change the world!

Down But Not Out, part 3

Posted: August 20, 2011 in Managing life

Maybe you tried to let your family know how to love you, maybe you didn’t. If you still don’t feel loved, here’s the next step.

#3 step on how to get the love you need: Allow other people to love you.

When I say “allow” what I’m trying to say is that you don’t want your value to depend on ONE main person outside your family. You need to allow the various people who come and go in your life to demonstrate their love and concern for you.

You may feel like your family has never been there for you; maybe you’re in the foster care system, or your family is not very connected. If so, your human reaction is to get someone else to fill that void. A young child may go to the school nurse often complaining of various ailments, because the nurse is going to show concern and provide some sort of care to ease the sore tummy or headache. A teen girl may tell her boyfriend about people mistreating her so the boyfriend will defend or have compassion for her. The girl may even subconsciously CAUSE others to treat her poorly so she can get that care and concern from her boyfriend.

This is manipulation: when we orchestrate circumstances to get our desired reaction from a person.

For example, let’s say my birthday is coming tomorrow. I start a conversation at work about birthdays because I want someone in the discussion to ask me when my birthday is. If they ask, then some of those people will wish me a happy birthday tomorrow. If they wish me a happy birthday, to me, that means they care and I’m important enough to remember. However, I manipulated the situation to give them that information, so it’s sort of a hollow victory.

What if I didn’t say anything as my birthday approached? Then on the day of my birthday two people wished me a happy birthday! Wouldn’t that be better evidence that they were thinking of me and I was important enough to remember on my birthday? That would be a real victory for my self-worth.

Even though it’s scary to wonder if we are loveable, we need to allow the evidence to present itself. Manipulating to get the evidence is fake evidence. Let your boyfriend show you are loveable when he talks to you in front of his friends or gives you a small gift. Let your girlfriend show you are loveable when she calls or texts you or introduces you to her parents. Let your friends show you are valuable when they tell you about the problems they are having at home or school and listen when you talk.

Now that you know what you need to feel loved (because you figured out your love languages,) let your boyfriend or girlfriend know what they do that you really appreciate. Teach them how to love you.

The place the train can go off the tracks is believing we are unloveable just because a relationship ends. THAT IS NOT TRUE! Relationships may be for a SEASON, a REASON, or for LIFE.

The LIFE relationships are hard to come by. That is often people who are related to us, such as a brother or sister, however, just because we’re related doesn’t make it a forever relationship. A REASON relationship is someone such as a teacher or a counselor. They have a purpose for being in your life and once that purpose is fulfilled, the relationship ends. The SEASON relationship is our friends, boyfriends, or girlfriends. Every once in a while one or two of those can turn into LIFE, but mostly those are only for a season.

The people I went to high school with, although I have very fond memories, after we graduated, we took different paths in life. I don’t have contact with most of them anymore. But the relationships I had while in high school were valuable in molding me into the person I am today.

So, in getting the love you need, allow the people in your life right now to demonstrate their love for you without you moving the puppet strings. Keep in mind that some of these relationships will end, and, as you grow and change, you will move on to form new relationships. It’s a natural part of life. The evidence of their love will come while you are in a relationship with them. That evidence isn’t wiped out when the relationship ends. Relationships end because someone changes or moves, not because we suddenly become unloveable.

Who loves you? How do you know? Make a list of the things people do to prove to you they care. When you’re feeling unloveable, refer to the list that proves you ARE loveable. Include on your list, “Valerie wrote a blog to make sure I understand I’m loveable.”

If you did your homework, you now have some idea of your primary love languages. If you know what your love languages are, then you know the type of things you need to feel loved.

#2 step on how to get the love you need: Let your family know how to love you.

Most parents WANT to love their kids. They forget how it feels to be a teen, and they don’t realize when they are doing things that are hurtful. They have the awesome responsibility of teaching you how to get through life successfully (such as teaching you respect, responsibility, hard work, etc.,) and sometimes they forget what you need from them in the nurturing department, OR they are loving you with their love language and not yours.

First, you need to be aware when something happens that makes you feel unloved. I remember one incident when I was about 16. I had this overwhelming feeling all the time that my parents didn’t really care if I was around. They would talk to each other about their business all the time and never really talk to me. One night, as we sat down for dinner, I decided to do an experiment: I wouldn’t say anything at all during dinner unless my parents talked to me first.

Well, I sat through the whole meal silently. Neither of my parents said anything to me, and they didn’t seem to notice that I hadn’t spoken. I used that experience to confirm to myself that they didn’t care.

What I should have done was realize that I was deeply hurt by this and talk to them about it – let them know that I feel they don’t love me when they don’t talk to me. The problem was, I didn’t know that my parents WANTED to love me. I just assumed since I didn’t feel loved, I must not be loved. In reality, they just didn’t know how to love me. I needed to teach them. I needed to talk to them.

The secret of talking so that people listen: Use “I feel” in your sentence.

If I would have gone to my parents and said, “You need to include me in conversation.” That wouldn’t have gone over well at all. In my house, kids don’t TELL their parents such things. The key is in expressing how you FEEL. For example, I could have said, “I sat through dinner tonight and no one talked to me. I feel like you don’t love me when you talk to each other but not to me.” They may have gotten defensive and said, “You could have said something to us.” But I need to keep from getting defensive in return and keep stating how I feel, such as, “Yes, I could have said something to you, but I just want to let you know that I feel cared about when you start a conversation with me, and I feel that you don’t care when you talk to each other over dinner and don’t talk to me about my day.”

Here’s another example: I overheard a mom talking about her teen daughter the other day. Mom took her daughter to dive practice. The daughter asked mom to videotape her dives so she could watch it later and improve herself. Mom didn’t want to sit through the practice, so she left to get her nails done. When she got back, practice was over, and the daughter was mad. This would have been a good opportunity for the daughter to let her mom know, “When you got your nails done instead of videotaping my practice, I felt like you didn’t care about me.”

When you have this conversation with your parents, the phrase “I feel” should be in there somewhere. And, no  yelling is allowed. It may be hard for mom or dad to hear this at first, but it’s important for you to keep trying. They may be able to think about it later and realize that this is important to try.

The other piece is…pay attention to the things they do that make you feel loved, and point those out in a kind way. If mom would have stayed for the dive practice, the daughter could have said, “Thank you mom. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this for me.”

If you’re not able to get the love you need from your family, don’t forget: FEELING unloved is NOT the same as being UNLOVEABLE. Next time I’ll talk about other ways to get the love you need…because you ARE loveable and deserve to be loved!