Getting Personal #75: Third TBR Recap

New-book-quotes-The-book-is-not-an-escape-from-life-but-a-shortcut-to-a-better-one-540x540

Image Credit: Ebook Friendly

Welcome back!

In case you’re interested, here are the links to my previous TBR posts:


This is what I’ve read since my last update in April:

  1. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
  2. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, Piper Kerman
  3. The Devil’s Dozen: 12 Notorious Serial Killers Caught By Cutting-Edge Forensics, Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.
  4. Music in My Heart: My Journey with Melody, Erin Falligant with Denise Lewis Patrick
  5. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick

And, here’s my updated list!

Laura Beth’s To Be Read (TBR) List, as of July 2017:

  1. The Language of Silence, Tiffany Truitt
  2. Black Rabbit Hall, Eve Chase
  3. Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  4. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
  5. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
  6. New Boy, Julian Houston
  7. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
  8. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  9. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  10. Hollow City, Ransom Riggs
  11. Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs
  12. Tales of the Peculiar, Ransom Riggs
  13. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling
  14. Quidditch Through the Ages, J.K. Rowling
  15. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub
  16. Modern Lovers, Emma Straub
  17. In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
  18. You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott
  19. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  20. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  21. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand
  22. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
  23. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
  24. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
  25. Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
  26. The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
  27. Loving Day, Mat Johnson
  28. American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst, Jeffrey Toobin
  29. The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Toobin
  30. The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, Gretchen Bakke
  31. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance
  32. A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression, Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe
  33. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney
  34. Bright, Precious Days, Jay McInerney
  35. Underground Airlines, Ben Winters
  36. A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad, Del Quentin Wilber
  37. Teardrops of the Innocent: The White Diamond Story (True Colors – Volume 1), Allie Marie
  38. Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, Lily Ledbetter
  39. Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  40. The War I Finally Won, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  41. Read All About It: A Kit Classic Volume 1, Valerie Tripp
  42. Turning Things Around: A Kit Classic Volume 2, Valerie Tripp
  43. Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit, Valerie Tripp
  44. Autumn Street, Lois Lowry
  45. The Giver, Lois Lowry
  46. Gathering Blue, Lois Lowry
  47. Messenger, Lois Lowry
  48. Son, Lois Lowry
  49. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
  50. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  51. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
  52. Emma, Jane Austen
  53. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
  54. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  55. The List, Patricia Forde
  56. Hello Me, It’s You, Anonymous; edited by Hannah Todd
  57. Use The Force: A Jedi’s Guide to the Law of Attraction, Joshua P. Warren
  58. The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
  59. Inferno, Dan Brown
  60. Digital Fortress: A Thriller, Dan Brown
  61. Deception Point, Dan Brown
  62. Origin: A Novel, Dan Brown
  63. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  64. The Runaway: A Maryellen Mystery, Alison Hart
  65. The Lady’s Slipper: A Melody Mystery, Emma Carlson Berne
  66. Camino Island, John Grisham
  67. The Unknown and Impossible: How a research facility in Virginia mastered the air and conquered space, Tamara Dietrich, Mark St. John Erickson, and Mike Holtzclaw

That’s all, for now!

I’ll publish my next TBR update / recap in October!

What have you read recently?

Happy reading!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #67: Second TBR Recap

bk

Image Credit: Bookicious

Welcome back!

In case you’re interested, here are the links to my previous TBR posts:


This is what I’ve read since my last update in January:

  1. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
  2. The Whistler, John Grisham
  3. Angels & Demons, Dan Brown

And, here’s my updated list!

Laura Beth’s To Be Read (TBR) List, as of April 2017:

  1. The Language of Silence, Tiffany Truitt
  2. Black Rabbit Hall, Eve Chase
  3. Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  4. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
  5. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
  6. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
  7. New Boy, Julian Houston
  8. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
  9. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  10. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  11. Hollow City, Ransom Riggs
  12. Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs
  13. Tales of the Peculiar, Ransom Riggs
  14. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling
  15. Quidditch Through the Ages, J.K. Rowling
  16. Music in My Heart: My Journey with MelodyErin Falligant with Denise Lewis Patrick
  17. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub
  18. Modern Lovers, Emma Straub
  19. In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
  20. You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott
  21. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  22. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  23. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand
  24. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
  25. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
  26. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
  27. Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
  28. The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
  29. Loving Day, Mat Johnson
  30. American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst, Jeffrey Toobin
  31. The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Toobin
  32. The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, Gretchen Bakke
  33. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance
  34. A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression, Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe
  35. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney
  36. Bright, Precious Days, Jay McInerney
  37. Underground Airlines, Ben Winters
  38. A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad, Del Quentin Wilber
  39. Teardrops of the Innocent: The White Diamond Story (True Colors – Volume 1), Allie Marie
  40. Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, Lily Ledbetter
  41. Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  42. The War I Finally Won, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  43. Read All About It: A Kit Classic Volume 1, Valerie Tripp
  44. Turning Things Around: A Kit Classic Volume 2, Valerie Tripp
  45. Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit, Valerie Tripp
  46. Autumn Street, Lois Lowry
  47. The Giver, Lois Lowry
  48. Gathering Blue, Lois Lowry
  49. Messenger, Lois Lowry
  50. Son, Lois Lowry
  51. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
  52. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  53. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
  54. Emma, Jane Austen
  55. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
  56. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  57. The List, Patricia Forde
  58. Hello Me, It’s You, Anonymous; edited by Hannah Todd
  59. Use The Force: A Jedi’s Guide to the Law of Attraction, Joshua P. Warren
  60. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
  61. The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
  62. Inferno, Dan Brown

That’s all, for now!

I’ll publish my next TBR update / recap in July!

What have you read recently?

Happy reading!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #53: First TBR Recap

goodreads

Image Credit: Goodreads

These last few months have flown by! It’s time to update my To Be Read  (TBR) list.

Here’s the link to my original post:


This is what I’ve read since creating my TBR in October:

  1. Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, Koren Zailckas
  2. The Sky’s The Limit: My Journey with Maryellen, Valerie Tripp
  3. The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins
  4. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls: 101 Stories about Friendship for Women of All Ages; Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Amy Newmark
  5. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, Jill Leovy
  6. The War That Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

And now, here’s my updated list!

Laura Beth’s To Be Read (TBR) List, as of January 2017:

  1. The Language of Silence, Tiffany Truitt
  2. Black Rabbit Hall, Eve Chase
  3. Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  4. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
  5. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
  6. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
  7. New Boy, Julian Houston
  8. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
  9. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  10. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  11. Hollow City, Ransom Riggs
  12. Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs
  13. Tales of the Peculiar, Ransom Riggs
  14. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling
  15. Quidditch Through the Ages, J.K. Rowling
  16. Music in My Heart: My Journey with MelodyErin Falligant with Denise Lewis Patrick
  17. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub
  18. Modern Lovers, Emma Straub
  19. In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
  20. You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott
  21. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  22. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  23. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand
  24. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
  25. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
  26. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
  27. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
  28. Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
  29. The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
  30. Loving Day, Mat Johnson
  31. American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst, Jeffrey Toobin
  32. The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Toobin
  33. The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, Gretchen Bakke
  34. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance
  35. A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression, Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe
  36. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney
  37. Bright, Precious Days, Jay McInerney
  38. Underground Airlines, Ben Winters
  39. A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad, Del Quentin Wilber
  40. American Girl: Ultimate Visual Guide, Erin Falligant, Laurie Calkhoven, Carrie Anton
  41. Teardrops of the Innocent: The White Diamond Story (True Colors – Volume 1), Allie Marie
  42. Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, Lily Ledbetter
  43. The Whistler, John Grisham
  44. Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  45. The War I Finally Won, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  46. Read All About It: A Kit Classic Volume 1, Valerie Tripp
  47. Turning Things Around: A Kit Classic Volume 2, Valerie Tripp
  48. Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit, Valerie Tripp

That’s all, for now!

I’ll publish my next TBR update / recap in April!

What have you read recently? I’d love to hear about it!

Happy reading!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #42: My First-Ever To Be Read List (TBR)

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Image Credit: TED Blog

Thanks to a recent conversation via blog comments with Maureen, who writes the fabulous blog Sparkle, she gave me that kick in the pants to finally make a To Be Read (TBR) list of my own!

In addition, this is the perfect segue for me to get back onto Goodreads and hold myself accountable that way, too.

Now, with this post, I’m currently focused on wrapping up my 2016 Reading Challenge first, so that’s why the remaining books from that list are at the top of this list.


Ready?

Here we go!


Laura Beth’s To Be Read (TBR) List, as of October 2016:

  1. The Language of Silence, Tiffany Truitt (An awesome sorority sister of mine, and a local author!)
  2. Black Rabbit Hall, Eve Chase
  3. Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  4. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
  5. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
  6. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
  7. New Boy, Julian Houston
  8. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
  9. The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins
  10. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  11. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  12. Hollow City, Ransom Riggs
  13. Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs
  14. Tales of the Peculiar, Ransom Riggs
  15. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling
  16. Quidditch Through the Ages, J.K. Rowling
  17. Music in My Heart: My Journey with MelodyErin Falligant with Denise Lewis Patrick
  18. The Sky’s the Limit: My Journey with MaryellenValerie Tripp
  19. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub
  20. Modern Lovers, Emma Straub
  21. In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
  22. You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott
  23. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  24. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  25. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand
  26. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
  27. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
  28. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
  29. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
  30. Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
  31. The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
  32. Loving Day, Mat Johnson
  33. American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst, Jeffrey Toobin
  34. The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Toobin
  35. The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, Gretchen Bakke
  36. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance
  37. A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression, Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe
  38. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney
  39. Bright, Precious Days, Jay McInerney
  40. Underground Airlines, Ben Winters
  41. A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad, Del Quentin Wilber
  42. American Girl: Ultimate Visual Guide, Erin Falligant, Laurie Calkhoven, Carrie Anton
  43. Teardrops of the Innocent: The White Diamond Story (True Colors – Volume 1), Allie Marie (Another local author!!)
  44. Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, Lily Ledbetter

That’s all, for now!

I plan to update this list quarterly. Since this is the last quarter of 2016 (Already!), look for an update to this list in January!

Cheers! Happy reading!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #6: Homelessness

Image Credit: vibewirechangemedia.com

Image Credit: vibewirechangemedia.com

We all see it, probably every single day – Someone at an intersection or some other place, aiming for high visibility from cars – People with cardboard signs, asking for help.

HOMELESS

NEED FOOD

HUNGRY

VET

NEED HELP

GOD BLESS


I’ve always been torn when I see one of these people with their signs.

When I was younger, on a trip to New York City, my parents and I were visiting the hospital where I was born. Outside the entrance, there was this black woman, a little older, thin and frail, literally begging for people to help her. It was around my birthday, in early August, so it was definitely hot and humid that day too.

As a child/early teenager (I think I was in middle school at the time), I asked my mom if we could give this poor woman, clearly suffering, money or buy her some food. I remember Mom getting a little upset, frustrated, and telling me no, that we didn’t know if she was on drugs, that kind of thing.

From then on, I couldn’t stop staring. It broke my heart.

That memory has stuck with me for all these years. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve learned that there are so many ways to help others who are in need.

I wanted to share with you a few ways, and tell you a few stories along the way.


First up – Blankets For The Homeless, or BFTH for short.

Image Credit: Blankets for the Homeless Hampton Roads

Image Credit: Blankets for the Homeless Hampton Roads

This is Mariah. She’s now 21 years old. And she’s making a massive difference.

Her story is amazing. She was born and abandoned on Christmas Eve. She was fostered, then adopted. She was homeless in the first hours of her life, and now she’s made it her mission to help those who are helpless and less fortunate.

BFTH is three, almost four years young now, but to the Hampton Roads area, it’s been a massive blessing since 2011.

They have a large following on Facebook – Blankets for the Homeless Hampton Roads. I love seeing the photos of donations, as well as distributions. Everyone’s smiling.

They are officially a 501c3 non-profit. Their mission: “Providing blankets, coats, hoodies, JEANS, clothes, hats, gloves, shoes, back packs, tents, tarps, toiletries, etc., & lunches to the homeless.”


Many of you who read the blog know that I follow Freckled Italian, Megan’s blog, obsessively. I love her work!

One of her posts that struck me recently was titled “On Cleaning Out My Closet.” Check it out!

Reading, and re-reading, that post from Megan, inspired me to clean out my OWN closet. I try to clean out my closet around every six months – Basically every spring/summer and then again in the fall/winter. I normally gather everything up and put it in bags and take it to the local Goodwill near my office.

However, since learning more about BFTH, cleaning out my closet this time took on a whole new meaning. When I looked at my entire wardrobe that Saturday, I immediately decided to separate it into two categories – The main one for BFTH, and the smaller one for Goodwill.

As I went through each item, I kept thinking, “If I were homeless, what would I appreciate receiving?”

I also went into my bathroom and gathered all the travel-sized toiletry items I could find. I also threw in extra, unopened, pads and tampons for the girls/women.

After the wardrobe clean-up, this was the stack of donations. I've since added to it.

After the initial wardrobe clean-up, this was the stack of donations. I’ve since added to it.

I’m very much looking forward to the day when I load up my trunk and make my way to Virginia Beach to help Mariah and her ongoing mission – Hopefully soon.

When that does happen, I’ll be sure to publish a follow-up post!


Next, I wanted to share what the state of Utah has been doing about their homeless population and housing.

Here’s one of the best summaries I could find:

In eight years, Utah has reduced homelessness by 78%, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker.

So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but they keep the apartment even if they fail.

The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah’s.

via Nation of Change

(Posted by Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura – January 20, 2014)

Whoa. That’s powerful!

Here’s a few hot links as well:

This is inspiring. I hope Utah’s example will spread!


Another group that struggles with homelessness is our military veterans.

This is both sad and maddening at the same time.

These men and women have served our country proudly. The last thing that they should struggle with is affordable housing, on their home soil!!

“We have an epidemic of homeless veterans on our nation’s streets. Over 100,000 brave men and women just lost in the shuffle.” ~Mac Taylor, CSI: NY

TODAY.com recently featured an article on helping homeless vets with socks.

The smallest items, like socks, can easily be overlooked when people think about the homeless.

When I was going through my wardrobe, I took time to count the pairs of socks I owned. I was immediately ashamed – I lost count at 30 pairs! I vowed then and there to include clean socks in my donations, to both BFTH and Goodwill.

The best thing about BFTH is they help everyone – Men, women, children, and even pets!


Another topic that’s come up regarding the homeless is the sheer number of abandoned houses. The city of Detroit comes to mind almost immediately, with numerous stories of the amount of houses, and the city auctioning them off for $1.00 so long as the winner fixes it up, and so on.

But it’s not just Detroit. There are abandoned houses in every town, city, county in this vast country of ours. Something needs to be done.

In my opinion, everyone needs to work together to rescue these houses and turn them into something positive. It would spread positive vibes in so many ways, I think.

If people came together and worked together to clean up these houses and make them livable, a homeless person or a homeless family could have a home again. With a home, they would be able to start their life or lives over. The thought of owning a home is still a dream to so many people.

I think of Habitat for Humanity. My parents used to volunteer with the local South Hampton Roads chapter – Our family and others from church helped build several houses in the early ’90s in some of the neediest areas of Portsmouth.

When Al and I get our first house, I plan to visit the local Habitat Re-Store to see what they have to offer. All the money from the stores go back to helping people and families build their own homes!


Two weeks ago, the story of Hailey Fort, from Washington state, went viral.

This girl, all of nine-years-old, has been an activist for the homeless since she was five. She’s made it her goal to build portable shelters AND grow food for these people.

Amazing!


Another story came out in April, from Denver, Colorado – The story of The Purple Door coffee shop.

The title of this story says a lot: “Coffee shop takes girl from homelessness to happiness.”


Toward the end of May, Steve Hartman on CBS profiled a man in San Francisco, helping with his sewing machine. I love Steve’s stories. This one – It’s mending people’s clothes, impressions, and hearts.


So, you may be asking at this point, “How can I help? What can I do?”

It’s overwhelming, really.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Adopt the thought: “If I were in this situation, what would I like to receive?”
  • Donate food to your local food pantry. My church does a weekly distribution, and there are so many families that receive assistance this way.
  • Volunteer with Panera Bread’s Operation Dough-Nation program.
  • Learn more about Habitat for Humanity.
  • Educate yourself about the community/communities around you. Unfortunately, right now, homelessness is never far away.
  • As Mariah says, “We are also asking that everyone make a ‘Blessing Box’ to keep in their car with five non-perishable lunches, blankets, and as the weather gets colder, hats and gloves to be able to immediately help someone in need. You can make a difference! We all can!”
  • Any amount of money certainly helps, but sometimes, the littlest items are far better.
  • Be the change! Be proactive. If everyone gave the tiniest bit of effort and time, this world would greatly improve.

Bottom line: Get involved! No effort is too small.

Also, it’s never too early to teach your children about the powers of giving, either.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #1: Sexting

“We are free to choose our paths, but we can’t choose the consequences that come with them.”

~Sean Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens


I like writing about hot-button issues. I’ve found that my Commentary posts tend to be a lot longer than any other category on this wonderful blog, and I’m pleased with myself. I like to constantly challenge myself in my writing.

I plan to write about more subjects like this, and more often.

More to come.


The article that sparked this piece comes from the Rochester area of Michigan. You can read the full article here.

When I first read the article, I was a bit dumbfounded.

If you don’t know what sexting is, here is the general definition:

sext 
verb
  1. send (someone) sexually explicit photographs or messages via cell phone.
    “older teens are more likely to engage in sexting than their younger counterparts”

The concept/thought behind it varies slightly, at least according to Urban Dictionary:

v: the act of text messaging someone in the hopes of having a sexual encounter with them later; initially casual, transitioning into highly suggestive and even sexually explicit
In a sentence: “He keeps sexting me saying how hard he is and how much he wants to tap my ass,” Cindy said massaging her breasts unconsciously. 
Sexting in action:
Nancy: “Wut do u want?”
Bob: “Cum over to my place now.”
Nancy: “Is NE1 else there?”
Bob: “No. I need to c u.”
Nancy: “K. Will b there soon.”


Both interpretations that you just read are equally disturbing. Taking sexually suggestive pictures is certainly nothing new. But the introduction of camera phones and texting changed the game.

But it’s not a game – There are rarely any winners here.

I’m particularly fascinated by this article because of the legal standpoint, as well as the potential implications/consequences for these 31 juveniles – 24 girls and seven boys, who all happen to be under the age of 17. Some of these children are in middle school!

Here’s where I will reiterate the “innocent until proven guilty” mantra. The author of the article was ethical and professional in stating, in the first very first sentence, the word “allegedly.” This is so important. I tip my journalism hat to you.


The potential charges are serious.

“These teenagers could be charged with possessing, manufacturing, distributing and receiving child pornography,” [defense attorney Shannon] Smith said. “These are 20-year felonies, seven-year felonies and four-year felonies.”

If you were a teenager, or even a preteen (since some of the accused are in MIDDLE SCHOOL), how would you feel if those charges were read to you?

Moreover, what about the parents? Teachers? Siblings? Families? How would they feel if their self-proclaimed angel or sports superstar was labeled this way?

I’d be sick. My child, my son or daughter, charged with child pornography?

I’m sick to my stomach as I write this.


I’m going to shift the focus on the parents for a hot second, and I’m using as much restraint as I can.


Wait.

Never mind.

This is important.

I’m not holding back. You’ve been warned.


WHEN DID IT BECOME OKAY FOR YOU TO HAND YOUR CHILD THE EQUIVALENT OF AN UNLIMITED ADULT PLAYGROUND?!?!??!

You are your child’s protector, one of the few people who has complete control over their life for 18 years. You are supposed to let them explore their world, but at the same time, you are responsible for setting something called BOUNDARIES!

It’s perfectly normal for kids to push their limits and their envelopes.

However, your job, as a responsible parent, is to be the enforcer of those limits and envelopes. If they are pushed or crossed, you are responsible for providing the lessons learned and the appropriate punishment. You have that job until they legally become an adult – and that doesn’t happen until the day they turn 18.

This may be a slight contradiction – No one should tell you how to raise your children. You raise them as you see fit.

However, what I am referring to and/or promoting is COMMON SENSE.


Everyone makes mistakes. We are all human.

But my philosophy and/or stance on sexting, and responsibility in general, comes from an age-old saying:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ~Benjamin Franklin

What I mean by this is simple – If you don’t want your kid/teen to get into serious trouble for sexting, at least while they’re under your roof …

DAMN IT, DON’T GIVE THEM A SMARTPHONE!

-or-

DON’T GIVE THEM A PHONE WITH A CAMERA!


I immediately starting writing this post after I finished reading the article. I’m ANGRY about this. Sexting is one of those things that is now mainstream because it’s happening ALL THE TIME!

The article ends with a similar observation: “Sexting isn’t isolated to the Rochester area, according to Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, who told WXYZ that she investigates similar cases in county schools every week. She makes charging decisions on a case-by-case basis, with more severe charges reserved for cases that involved malice.”

I can’t imagine what every K-12 school in America deals with regarding sexting every day. I’m sure that this epidemic has infiltrated the elementary schools as well, because I’ve seen 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds with iPhones or generic camera-phones in the Sunday school classes that I’ve taught since high school.


” … more severe charges reserved for cases that involved malice.”

Malice?

I shudder at the thought.


Switching to the legal side for a minute.

In the article, the defense attorney commented that the students shouldn’t be charged with felonies, but rather receive a serious wake-up call.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

If I were a parent of one of these children (and I am determined NOT TO BE ONE, for all that I am worth) – I would let them face the music. Almost insist that my child be charged with a felony.

I would want as many lessons taught to my child as possible because of this experience. Let them and/or help them realize, or start to truly understand, that every single action that they make has a consequence. Every single one.

I would stand behind my children, but I would not give in. I would not condone this atrocious behavior. I would not plead with the authorities to reduce the charges. I would not any sides; I would remain as neutral as possible. They got themselves in this mess and I want to watch them get out of it.

ON THEIR OWN.

To me, “standing behind them” means support. I would want to be there in a physical, emotional, spiritual sense. I would want to be there for them through this experience.

But I would not come to their aid, at least not immediately. They got themselves in this mess, and I want them to try to get out of the muck and mire themselves first.


However, I am determined not to be one of those parents.

I received my first cell phone when I was 14-years-old. No built-in camera. No texting plan. I was only allowed to store my classmates’ numbers to call them for school-related matters (i.e., questions about homework assignments, study sessions, how to get my work if I was out sick, etc.).

It looked a lot like this:

Photo Credit: s4.zetaboards.com

Photo Credit: s4.zetaboards.com

The main (basically the only) reason I received it was because I was in a magnet program and my high school was 15 miles away from my house. If I missed the bus, I could use the phone to call Mom, Dad, or a trusted family friend to come pick me up.

Mom and Dad have said that if I had not participated in said magnet program, I wouldn’t have gotten a cell phone of my own until I had started driving.

Back then (circa 2003), there were limited smartphones – Primarily PDAs. And, no, I’m not talking about public affection! Nokia was the top-selling manufacturer. There were camera phones, but the iPhone was just a gleam in Apple’s eye.

In fact, I have only had one smartphone in my life. And I got it because my company provided it.

Do I like my iPhone? Absolutely.

Do I want one for my personal use?

NOPE.

I have a basic LG “slide” phone that’s well over two years old now, which I thought was the coolest thing back in college. I remember the day I called my dad, informing him that my Motorola RAZR was on its last legs, and the only request I had in a new phone was a “full keyboard” so that texting would be easier for me, as a member of the college newspaper staff.

Yes, you read that correctly. I did not text until I was in college.


I have never taken, nor sent, photos of a sexual nature. I never plan to do so.

I honestly can’t say the same for sexual messages, but I’m not one for spreading things around.

I talk openly about sex and my sexuality only with people who have earned my trust, but I respect this little thing called privacy to the nth degree – Both mine and others who do/have confide(d) in me.

As someone who has been a victim of privacy invasion, I know what it feels like to be violated.

Moreover, there are a lot of places where private matters shouldn’t be shared. Here’s looking at you, Facebook. Twitter. Vine. Snapchat. YouTube. Instagram.

Shall I continue?


I’m not out to change the world, although that would be extremely gratifying.

I just wanted to say my piece and all of my thoughts/feelings/opinions.

I’m grateful that I live in a country that, for the most part, allows me freedom of speech.


I’m very curious to hear comments from my readers! I want a post like this to help start a conversation among my readers and/or followers. I hope to hear from some of you!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂