What we know and what we don’t know.

Warning, folks, this one’s long. It’s been a busy, busy week for USA Gymnastics, the fallout from which is ongoing and seemingly continual. So, let’s sum up what we know: A. Rhonda Faehn, National Team Coordinator, was forced to resign/fired/let go, for reasons unknown. B. Following Faehn’s removal – which may or may not have […]

via What we know, what we don’t know – and what we suspect — College gym writer – and gym writer, period.

Mental Health and Gun Regulations

Statistically the USA cannot have MORE mental illness than other countries. New Hampshire certainly cannot have less mental illness then other states. What the USA does have is the most guns and giving the lack of gun regulation in New Hampshire we probably have more than many states. Given those basic facts New Hampshire easily could be the next state in the news for a mass shooting.

If, as the politicians say, that this is not a gun issue it is a mental health issue, why are no other countries faced with mass shooting to the level of the USA? If indeed it is a mental health issue, why are we cutting funding to programs?

It seems that New Hampshire may be facing a perfect storm. We are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, mental health programs are largely under funded and we have little to no gun regulations.

Why are our legislatures doing NOTHING? They are actually doing LESS THAN NOTHING. It was just a year ago that President Trump signed into law a bill allowing people with mental illness to purchase guns.

Like our neighbors (Vermont and Maine), New Hampshire has very liberal gun control laws. What makes New Hampshire law on gun unique however, is the level to which these laws exhibit such looseness.

Even with such loose laws towards firearms, New Hampshire consistently ranks as one of the safest places in the United States. I want it to stay that way. Adopting more progressive gun laws will keep us safe. Keep our students safe and curb gun trafficking.

I am tired of “Thoughts and Prayers” being offered followed by “it’s too soon to talk about this” and “lets have time to grieve and not politicize this”.
If it is to soon to talk about gun regulations after the school shooting in Florida, is it too soon to talk about gun regulations after Las Vegas? Virginia Tech? Sandy Hook? Columbine?

I believe that many politicians feel their NRA rating is more important than the safety of citizens. The vast majority of people in the country want some kind of gun regulations.

New Hampshire has two large gun manufacturers and it seems like their money is more important than our safety.
I urge our representatives in our state and in Washington to take a stand before it is too late.

WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?!

When I was growing up there were two places where I always felt safe. HOME and SCHOOL.

The USA faces another school shooting today. 16+ more people dead.

50 – The number of mass murders or attempted mass murders at a school since Columbine. (FBI records)

141 – The number of people killed in a mass murder or attempted mass murder at a school since Columbine. (FBI records)

68 – The percentage of school shooters who got their guns from relatives or at home. (US Secret Service, US Department of Education)

270 – The number of shootings of any kind at a school since Columbine. (ABC News review of reported cases)

1 – The number of shootings per week, on average, on a school or college campus in 2015. (ABC News review of reported cases)

I don’t want to hear a politician send their THOUGHTS and PRAYERS. I want politicians to DO THEIR JOB! Let’s have gun laws that will make shootings like today harder.

To every politician who sends their thoughts and prayers then cozies up to the NRA or avoids the issue altogether because they are afraid of the NRA money- FUCK YOU!

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Most Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that would reduce deaths. But Republicans in Congress stand in the way. They fear alienating their primary voters and the National Rifle Association.

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Below are the top 10 career recipients of N.R.A. funding – through donations or spending to benefit the candidate – among both current House and Senate members, along with their statements about the October Las Vegas massacre. These representatives have a lot to say about it. All the while, they refuse to do anything to avoid the next massacre.

Senate
1. John McCain
Ariz.
“Cindy & I are praying for the victims of the terrible #LasVegasShooting & their families.”
$7,740,521
FROM THE N.R.A.
2. Richard Burr
N.C.
“My heart is with the people of Las Vegas and their first responders today. This morning’s tragic violence has absolutely no place here in America.”
$6,986,620
FROM THE N.R.A.
3. Roy Blunt
Mo.
“Saddened by the tragic loss of life in #LasVegas. My thoughts are with all of the families affected by this horrific attack.”
$4,551,146
FROM THE N.R.A.
4. Thom Tillis
N.C.
“Susan and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to the families of the victims of this horrific and senseless tragedy in Las Vegas.”
$4,418,012
FROM THE N.R.A.
5. Cory Gardner
Co.
“My family and I are praying for the families of those injured and killed in Las Vegas last night.”
$3,879,064
FROM THE N.R.A.
6. Marco Rubio
Fla.
“I’m praying for all the victims, their families, and our first responders in the #LasVegas #MandalayBay shooting.”
$3,303,355
FROM THE N.R.A.
7. Joni Ernst
Iowa
“My prayers are with all of the victims in Las Vegas, and their loved ones affected by this senseless act of violence.”
$3,124,273
FROM THE N.R.A.
8. Rob Portman
Ohio
“Jane & I mourn the loss of innocent lives in this horrific attack in Las Vegas last night. We are praying for those taken from us, their families & all those injured in this attack.”
$3,061,941
FROM THE N.R.A.
9. Todd Young
Ind.
“We must offer our full support to the victims and their families as our nation mourns.”
$2,896,732
FROM THE N.R.A.
10. Bill Cassidy
La.
“Following closely the horrendous act of violence in Las Vegas. Our prayers are with those who were injured, killed and their families.”
$2,861,047
FROM THE N.R.A.
House
1. French Hill
Ark.
“Martha and I are praying for the families and victims of this senseless act of evil. […] We must continue to work together to stop this kind of terror.”
$1,089,477
FROM THE N.R.A.
2. Ken Buck
Co.
“I’m praying for all of those impacted by the evil events in Las Vegas last night. Our country must stand together in support of the families of the victims and the community.”
$800,544
FROM THE N.R.A.
3. David Young
Iowa
“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and friends of the horrific and evil tragedy in Las Vegas.”
$707,662
FROM THE N.R.A.
4. Mike Simpson
Idaho
“Though no words can heal our hurt, and no explanation will ever feel sufficient, I pray that all involved may find comfort as we process this devastating tragedy.”
$385,731
FROM THE N.R.A.
5. Greg Gianforte
Mont.
No statement released.
$344,630
FROM THE N.R.A.
6. Don Young
Alaska
“Anne and I are praying for all those involved or impacted by this heinous act of violence.”
$245,720
FROM THE N.R.A.
7. Lloyd Smucker
Pa.
“Horrific act of violence in Las Vegas. Cindy and I pray for the victims, their families, and the first responders.”
$221,736
FROM THE N.R.A.
8. Bruce Poliquin
Maine
“My thoughts are with all those effected in the horrifying attacks in Las Vegas. The nation is with you.”
$201,398
FROM THE N.R.A.
9. Pete Sessions
Tex.
“My deepest sympathies are with all who were harmed by this horrific tragedy.”
$158,111
FROM THE N.R.A.
10. Barbara Comstock
Va.
“I am heartbroken by the mass murder that took place last night in Las Vegas and I am praying for the victims, families, and first responders.”
$137,232
FROM THE N.R.A.

All of these representatives are Republican. The highest rankedDemocrat in the House is Sanford Bishop, who ranks 41st in career donations from the N.R.A. Among the top 100 House recipients, 95 are Republican. In the Senate, the top two Democrats are Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who rank 52nd and 53rd — behind every Republican but Dan Sullivan of Alaska.

Finally, why are our numbers different from those in Bret Stephens’s column on the Second Amendment? Because ours include money the N.R.A. spends on behalf of candidates, in addition to money it gives directly to candidates.

A Season of Hope. There is Beauty Out There- if you look.

The world is filled with beautiful and amazing things. You need to slow down to see slowdown and notice. It may be a flower growing in a trash filled vacant lot. It may be the white helmet volunteers in Syria. It may be a young girl with autism in Northern Ireland with the voice of an angel.

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Girl With Autism Sings A Stunning Rendition Of ‘Hallelujah’

It’s not just good because she’s dealing with autism … It’s good because it’s good — really good.

This 10-year-old’s rendition of “Hallelujah” would have given Leonard Cohen himself chills. Turn the volume up and give it a listen.

 

Kaylee Rodgers, a student who has autism and ADHD, sang the solo part for the famous tune during her school choir concert at Killard House School in Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, and the performance went viral.

Rodgers’ voice is stunningly beautiful ― and she exudes confidence while she sings with her classmates. Tracy Rodgers, Kaylee’s mother, told the BBC that Kaylee’s music teacher, Lloyd Scates, played a huge part in nurturing her special talent.

“She always loved singing, but it wasn’t until she started at Killard House School that she really came into her own,” she told BBC. “[Mr. Scates is] like her safety blanket ― he’s amazing.”

Killard House principal Colin Millar told ITV that Kaylee was very shy when she started at the school. She “wouldn’t really read out in class,” he said. So “to stand and perform in front of an audience is amazing … It takes a lot of effort on Kaylee’s part.”

Go and find beauty in the world today.

Peace.

A Season of Hope. Winter Solstice

The winter solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years. As the shortest day/longest night of the year, this start of the solar year is a celebration of light and the rebirth of the Sun. We have all completed one more official journey around the Sun.

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As the Winter Solstice has arrived, it is a time to consider yin and yang, darkness and light – and the exquisite balance that exists between all things. After weeks of shortening days, we have been affected in a number of ways by the scarcity of light and the growing darkness. Though we may have experienced sadness or slowness as a result of this winter season, we must also remember that the darkness is necessary in order to experience light.

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Many of us gather with our friends, family and loved ones, and no matter what tradition we observe for this holiday season, we begin to create our own light – the light of the love we feel for those we care the most about. It’s also a time for remembering those we love that are not with us- those who are separated from us by miles or death or simply the loss of relationship.

Many of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with the Solstice have survived into the 21st century so let’s see how we can join in this ancient celebration to bring love, light, joy and meaning to this season.

ENLIVEN YOUR SURROUNDINGS with the color red. The color of the sun is energizing, and symbolic of love, courage, warmth, fire. Wear red sweaters, scarves and hats, light red candles, bring in red flowering plants (the red poinsettia is a great one). The color red has a powerful effect in the darkest days of the year to lighten your mood and create a festive, heartening atmosphere.

ADORN YOUR HOME with sacred herbs and colors. Decorate your home in holiday colors red, green, and white. Place holly, ivy, evergreen boughs, and pine cones around your home, especially in areas where socializing takes place. Hang a sprig of mistletoe above a major threshold, an evergreen wreath on the front door to symbolize the continuity of life and the wheel of the year. Bring in a Christmas tree with colored lights.

CONVEY LOVE to family, friends, and associates. At the heart of the Solstice was the custom of family and friends feasting together and exchanging presents. Continue this custom by visiting, entertaining, giving gifts, and sending greetings by mail and/or phone. Play games, enjoy children, roast chestnuts over an open fire (what fun). Consider those who are and/or have been important in your life and share appreciation.

HONOR THE NEW SOLAR YEAR WITH LIGHT. If you have an indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire circle, burn an oak log as a Yule log. Decorate the inside and/or outside of your home with electric colored lights.

PARTY HEARTY on New Years’s Eve, not just to welcome the calendar year but also to welcome the new solar year. Celebrate and remember how much the sun means to our planet earth, bringing heat, and light.

CONTRIBUTE TO THE MANIFESTATION OF MORE WELLNESS ON OUR PLANET Donate food and clothing to the poor in your area. Volunteer time at a social service agency. Put up bird feeders and keep them filled throughout the winter to supplement the diets of wild birds. Donate funds and items to non-profit groups, such as churches and environmental organizations. Meditate for world peace. Work magic for a healthier planet. Make a pledge to do some form of good works in the new solar year.

CELEBRATE As you think about setting goals for next year, take some time to write down and celebrate everything you have accomplished this year. Keep your focus on your successes. Be careful of negative self-critical thoughts coming in when you remember the goals you did not achieve. Put those on your list for next year.

CELEBRATING keeps our focus on the positive and attracts more for us to celebrate. Take this energy of celebration with you into the new year and keep it with you throughout the whole year.

However big or small the occasion, look for excuses to be in a state of celebration. You can celebrate failures too. They open doorways for something new to come in. Your positive attitude will make sure you attract more positivity and goodness.

Season of Hope. The Psychology of HOPE

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Talent, skill, ability—whatever you want to call it—will not get you there. Sure, it helps. But a wealth of psychological research over the past few decades show loud and clear that it’s the psychological vehicles that really get you there. You can have the best engine in the world, but if you can’t be bothered to drive it, you won’t get anywhere.

Many have proposed lots of different vehicles over the years. Grit, Conscientiousness, self-efficacy, optimism, passion, inspiration, etc. They are all important. One vehicle, however, is particularly undervalued and underappreciated in psychology and society.

That’s hope.

Hope often gets a bad rap. For some, it conjures up images of a blissfully naïve chump pushing up against a wall with a big smile. or Don Quixote tilting against windmills. That’s a shame. Cutting-edge science shows that hope, at least as defined by psychologists, matters a lot.

Hope is not a brand new concept in psychology. In 1991, the eminent positive psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with Hope Theory. According to their theory, hope consists of agency and pathways.  The person who has hope has the will and determination that goals will be achieved, and a set of different strategies at their disposal to reach their goals. Put simply: hope involves the will to get there, and different ways to get there.

Why is hope important? Well, life is difficult. There are many obstacles. Having goals is not enough. One has to believe that they can accomplish their goals, amidst all the inevitable twists and turns of life. Hope allows people to approach problems with a mindset and strategy-set suitable to success, thereby increasing the chances they will actually accomplish their goals.
Those lacking hope, tend to adopt mastery goals. People with mastery goals choose easy tasks that don’t offer a challenge or opportunity for growth. When they fail, they quit. People with mastery goals act helpless, and feel a lack of control over their environment. They don’t believe in their capacity to obtain the kind of future they want. They have no hope.

It seems that performance can be enhanced in the short term by reminding people that they have the motivation and the means to pursue a goal. This “situational hope” could potentially be useful in the future as a means of short-term intervention to enhance performance. By reminding people before tests or situations in which performance and achievement are required that they have the will and the ways to do well, possible potential can be better utilized.

Athletes had higher levels of hope than non-athletes. I have seen that among my gymnasts, the state of having hope predicted outcomes beyond training, self-esteem, confidence, and mood.

I like to think that current ability is the best predictor of future success. Important psychological studies show that ability is important, but it’s the vehicles that actually get people where they want to go. Oftentimes, the vehicles even help you build up that ability you never thought you had. And hope—with its will and ways—is one of the most important vehicles of them all.

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Season of Hope. Remember that if you are reading this- you’ve got it pretty good.

We can call get so engrossed with our own lives and problems that we forget that others may need a helping hand. Not just this year, not just this time of year but every day, every year.

For the most part our biggest issues are overeating during the holiday season. Finding time to workout, making time to cook and buy presents.

We can help others. We can extend a helping hand. Take a minute to help someone. We will always be one world and we must be a world full of hope. That is what I want my legacy to be.

In 1984 I was in my first year of college.  Bob Geldof and Midge Ure formed the supergroup Band Aid  to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia by releasing the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”  On 25 November 1984, the song was recorded at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, and was released in the UK four days later.[4][5] The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release.

Looking back it seemed like an obvious hit but at the time, it was a risk and a chance taken to help others.

The group reunited with current stars in 2014 to bring help to the Ebola Crisis in West Africa.

 

You don’t need to be a superstar to help those around you. You can get involved with groups within your community.

Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army and one I just learned about in my town, The Community Toolbox 

I fully believe that no man stands so tall as when he stoops down to help another.

 

Season of Hope. New Friends

WHAT A PERFECT TIME OF YEAR TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS!

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One of the most important and yet least understood areas of psychology concerns the role of friends in our lives. It is often awkward when you are at your spouse, partner or GF/BF holiday party. They know everyone, they are in on all the jokes. Find another awkward looking person at the party at strike up a conversation. You already have something in common, you would rather be somewhere else.

As I was finishing up school in NY I was invited to a Christmas party at a friends house. He gave me his address and I headed over there. I pulled onto the street saw cars were lined up down the street. I parked my car and followed a couple up the street into to the house. I walked in was welcomed, my jacket taken, a drink put in my hand and directed to the food. I made small talk and joined in some humorous talk. Looking around the party I realized I didn’t know anyone. I searched for friends and a wave of dread came over me when I realized, I AM AT THE WRONG HOUSE!

The host came in and asked if I needed anything,

Me, “No thank you, what a great party!”

Host, “You are at the wrong place aren’t you?”

Me, “ummm, yeah- but this party seems pretty great!”

Host, “I’ll get your jacket and you can sneak out the back door. I think the party you are looking for is 2 houses down.”

Me, “Thank you so much!”

I snuck out the back door (drink in hand) and went to the party that I was invited to. It was an equally fun party.

The next week I was getting a coffee and the guy in front of me looked familiar. Yep- The host of the party I crashed. We laughed, had a coffee together and had dinner and drinks a few times before I left for New Hampshire.

I have been pretty lucky to have made some great friends recently. I look forward to dinner and drinks with them. We always laugh and each night, no matter how casual, is memorable.

I am thankful for these friendships and look forward to sharing this holiday season with them.

When it comes to happiness, your friends are the key.

I’ve tried to distill Friendfluence into what I believe are its most important lessons.

Here are 15 reasons to appreciate your friends:

Friendfluence is the powerful and often unappreciated role that friends—past and present—play in determining our sense of self and the direction of our lives. Whether you realize it or not, your friends have shaped who you are today. You are even the product of the friends who are no longer your friends.

Friends can give you vital life skills.  There are many perks of friendship include sharpening your mind, making you generally happier, knowing yourself better, becoming inspired to reach your goals, advancing your career, helping you meet romantic partners, and living a longer and healthier life.

Childhood friendships start your learning process. Early friendships play a vital role because they occur while key developmental changes are taking place. They help teach us some of those important life skills but also shape our life “narrative.”

Teen friendships shape your later romantic bonds. Though parents spend much of their time worrying about who their teenage kids are with, these relationships are a training ground for the later long-term bonds that will evolve through adulthood.

Friends can help you define your priorities. People tend to pick friends who are similar to them. This fact falls under the general proximity rule of close relationships, in that like tends to attract like. Because we fall prey so easily into this similarity trap, it is important to try to stretch yourself to learn from some of those opposites.

Having friends can help you get more friends. People tend to like others who have a reputation for being nice and helpful, and they like people who like them. If you want to be the type of person who attracts new friends, these qualities will help get you on your way toward building your social group. Once you have more friends, you’ll be able to enjoy some of those perks of friendship.

Close friends support you through thick and thin. To take the most advantage of friendfluence, put effort into your closest friendships. Although being friendly can get you more friends, you don’t need hundreds to help you through life. You may have to prune your friendship tree as you get older to be sure that you give enough attention to the ones who will really matter for your well-being.

You’re less lonely when you have friends.  Loneliness is painful, especially when you are living with loneliness for a prolonged period of time. This is yet another reason to put time, energy, and attention into finding and cultivating a close circle of friends.

Your online friends can steer your thoughts and behaviors. Although online friends are qualitatively different than your in-person friends, they shape you nevertheless. They can also be your source of life support.  Of course, your online friends can also make you miserable too, especially if you get caught in the “friendship paradox” (the fact that most people on Facebook have fewer friends than the average number). If you can avoid having Facebook envy dominate your life, you’ll have more rewarding connections with your extended friendship community.

Friends matter to you, regardless of gender. Although much is made of the difference between male friends, female friends, and male-female friend pairs, all share the qualities of having the potential to influence your life. If you restrict yourself to one certain type of friendship, you may be missing out on bonds that transcend gender boundaries.

Couple friendships can help your own relationship. People experiencing similar life events can often provide the most valuable support to each other. Unfortunately, some couples withdraw from their friendships when their relationship turns serious. You can benefit both from maintaining your separate friendships, but also from sharing with the couples who are experiencing transitions such as becoming parents, raising teenagers, and helping older family members.

Friends can also help you alleviate your work-related stress. Even though you may be stretched to the limit time-wise, the investment you make in these friendships will be worth the psychological benefits.

Friends can give you a reality check. Who but your closest friends will tell you that your new purchase is ridiculous? What person you meet on the street will let you know that your latest romantic interest is going to bring you heartbreak? Because friends know us so well, they are able to see things that we can’t, and aren’t afraid to share their dose of reality with you.

Banding together with friends can help you effect social change. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to fight for a cause, raise money for charity, or even just make a few small improvements in your community on your own. Friends are the first step to building successful social movements. Facebook provides one way to enlist the support of thousands of people. At a less grandiose level, people are more likely to engage in helping and altruistic behavior at the urging of their close friends.

Being a friend helps your friends. Friendfluence works in two directions. Not only do you benefit from its many perks, but by being a good friend you are helping those closest to you.  If you are aware of how you’re affecting your friends, you’ll work harder to stay close to them which, in turn, will benefit you as well. Being a good friend also includes asking them for help when you need it.

Giving someone the gift of being influential can be one of the greatest joys you pass on to your friends.

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Season of Hope. Reconnecting

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Whether it’s a yearly holiday letter, greeting card, or email, the holidays remind us of our long-time relationships. Some people are very fortunate to remain geographically and emotionally close to their “oldest” (or longest) friends. Like many my ADULT life (I am still in denial about being an adult) has me pretty far away from the people I grew up with. In our very mobile society the odds are that you no longer live in easy traveling distance from the people you were closest to in childhood, adolescence, or even college.

An old friend never can be found, and nature has provided that he cannot easily be lost.

Samuel Johnson

There is something great about reconnecting with old friends. It helps to remind you of where you were. Even though you can’t go back in time and relive those days, it is nice to ground yourself once in a while. Good for the soul.

Wishing you can go back will be pretty hollow, but looking at that notch in time is a good way to evaluate your place in time- in the “now”. There will always be certain memories you wish to forget. Awkward times, painful experiences and there are also things you wish you could put in a highlight reel, those things you were proud of – the accomplishments of goals and desires you have had over the years.

Then there are those very special memories with those genuine friends and family that if you could “bottle” the feelings of comfort and joy, you would open that bottle frequently and drink that in.

I look forward to seeing  cards and letters from old friends or even their Facebook posts this time of year.  It helps me drink in those memories of the time we have spent together.

Many people who knew YOU also want to know how you are doing. Send them an e-mail! A lot of people feel it’s awkward and a little nerve racking to try to get back in touch with a friend they haven’t spoken to in a while. What often happens is someone will want to drop an old buddy a line, but then they’ll think, “It will be so weird sending them an email out of nowhere. How will they react to it? Will they wonder why I’m writing them now?”

This time of year there is nothing abnormal or weird about reaching out to an old friend. You just have to put your self out there and go!

My personal story, I grew up in upstate New York. Spent most of my life in Rome, NY then High School in Cortland. Although I was only in Cortland 4 years. They were important years. Difficult as it was trying to “fit in” with others who had been together since preschool. I did manage to make some connections and feel very lucky that I am still in touch with some of them. 

My first 2 years of college had me at a 2 year school in Utica. There I made a few connections and I wish I had stayed in touch with some of these people. As odd as it is the person I am closest to from that time is also the person who lives furthest away (But in a place where I often travel to). 

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Finishing up my college career at UNH I find myself still living in the area and therefore occasionally running into people I went to school and grad school with. 

Through put all of this there was my “Gymnastics Family”. Guys I did gymnastics with. Girls I coached, and those I coached with. 

I miss you all. If I have lost touch, please send me an e-mail!