Monday, March 31, 2014

Your Choices Don't Exist In A Vacuum

Choices Don't Exist In A Vacuum

Once you wake up to live a life that is truly selected by you, this doesn't mean that life will, all of a sudden, become easy.  It doesn't create immediate joy, either.  Contrarily, when you wake up you become aware, and this awareness brings more work, hard realizations, and difficult choices.  You see, when you are asleep to life, life takes you like a river with no direction. You're at life's whim.  Once you wake up to life, you see this knee-jerk reaction with absolute clarity sometimes feeling disheartened or dismayed, and you realize, at that moment, hard choices need to made; otherwise, you will be swallowed by someone else's dreams or lack of vision, old and unsuitable beliefs, or the overwhelm of compromised values.

Perhaps, you fell into a love relationship believing it was true, only to realize that your choice was driven by childhood beliefs, and it was a comfort zone; instead, the relationship is filled with silence and abuse.  Maybe you bought a home because this is the typical American dream everyone wants.  Right?  Now you find yourself mortgaged to the hilt and strapped to a lifestyle that is draining and restricting you.  Perhaps your unaware choices seem very normal when you review them, but now that you are fully awake to live, you see that, possibly, you have followed other people's (family, culture, and society) ways.

Life doesn't exist in a vacuum.  Your choices don't exist in a vacuum either because they will always, to some degree, be influenced by something or someone, but when you wake up to live a life with awareness, you have a better chance at making choices that are more aligned with you and your values rather than others. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ask Relevant Questions

Ask questions to move yourself closer to your goals
 and wake up to live, love, and laugh?

Always ask relevant questions to live fully.  Don't be complacent or apathetic in your own life about anything.  As I write my research paper, for instance, I continue to wake up and ask the questions how I can make it more concise, more clear, more detailed, and more interesting.  When I am stumped at a fork in the road, I ask the questions what is it that I want to accomplish, and is it in alignment with my values and goals?  If there is conflict in a relationship, I ask what does the other person need, or what may I be saying or doing that is triggering this reaction?

Every single day, I ask questions to gain clarity, direction, and vision and to wake up to live, love, and laugh.  Are you?

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Monday, March 17, 2014

We Are Star-Stuff

We Are Star-Stuff

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the narrator and host for the TV show 'Cosmos;' he made reference to Carl Sagan an astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist.  Here is one of his quotes as Neil mentioned on the show.

Wake up to live is about raising consciousness: going against traditional beliefs and understanding truth and not scripture which has been handed down to us to believe without question.  Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson are truth seekers.
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Social Bullying: A National Crisis

Social Bullying: 
A National Crisis
By Desiree Leigh, Wake Up to Live

I am not a Rob Ford supporter, and I find him to be a total disrespect to the political institution; but, I am a counsellor that advocated respect and anti-bullying.  There is huge talk right now about Rob Ford on the Jimmy Kimmel show (March 3rd, 2014).  Google it first and get your own opinion.  
Kimmel's actions are accurately described as bullying at its best.  Kimmel taunted Ford, ridiculed him, bombarded him with past events, and then professed that "everything seemed fine."  Of course Rob Ford was going to laugh it off, and I am sure he expected some very harsh and real questions, and probably some taunting; but, Kimmel took his taunting to another level which totally discredited him and his show.  When there are so many people watching late night shows to have a bit of a laugh,  you have a responsibility to the viewers and the guests: to take care of them in the most respectful manner whether you agree or disagree with them.  Kimmel's so called interview was absolutely disrespectful and distasteful; it was actually disgusting and gross and reflected Kimmel's "true" personality.      

At the same time, it is really sad to see that society, in general, has to scorn, insult, and and humiliate others that are weak or vulnerable and even disgusting, so that they can look good or have a good laugh. They then justify their bullying by saying that the person deserved it, or (I like this one) get others, perhaps influential figures, to support their tactics as Kimmel has.  So when you are weak and vulnerable--not at your best--and have been disgraced by society and did less than respectful things (as Kimmel and Ford have), is it then okay for others to slam you on national television?  There is dirt in everyone's closet; but would it be fair to get your dirt spread throughout your community on billboards?  
I've heard since, that Kimmel's rating have gone up.  No doubt, Kimmel had an underlying intention all the way!  Just as Miley Cyrus had an intention for her public nudity.  Nonetheless, what is most disheartening is that "his ratings increased!"  What does this tell you about people?     
In my opinion, doing such a thing backfires.  It backfires with the next generation.  We have some people in society creating awareness about bullying and then we have a majority of society still indirectly bullying and righteously justifying it.  This is what we are teaching our children people.  This is hypocrisy.  We promote wellness, good mental health, and respect; yet, so many of us still bully in their roundabout way.

Below is a great read by Kate McCoy about Bullying and Media Culture. 
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Bullying and Media Culture: How TV Teaches Children to Bully

Most Americans think of bullying as youth problem. In actuality, it's more of a cultural problem. It seems that everywhere you turn, today's youth can see the bully mentality on full display. Nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent that throughout the media. Kids consume on average around 8 to 11 hours of media a day, depending on how you tally the overlapping types of media consumption. This is more time than they spend interacting with their parents or teachers or any other significant influence in their life. So to understand the problem of bullying, one must start with our media culture.
If you were to flip around to different channels on standard TV and basic cable, odds are you'll come across dozens of programs that either directly or indirectly celebrate a bully culture. Take a reality TV show such as Survivor. On the surface, Survivor may not seem like it has anything to do with bullying. But think about the premise for a minute: contestants are encouraged to use and manipulate their fellow brethren in order to further their own advancement, forming special alliances or cliques that can be used against the others, only to turn around at the end and betray those who have been loyal to them. It not only condones but encourages all forms of relational aggression; backstabbing, misleading, gossiping, spreading false rumors, and so on. Other forms of reality TV are even more direct in their aggression. Think about the example set by the narcissistic antics of Snooky. Or how about the message derived from watching a group of women degrade each other in competition for the affections of a single man on a show such as The Bachelor. What do teenage girls learn from this? Given how popular such shows have become, it's little wonder that relational bullying has been on the rise in recent years.
It's not just reality TV that's the culprit. You can find all the components of the bully mentality throughout most forms of television. Turn on just about any talk show, and you're likely to see a mob audience ganging up to scorn a certain individual. Flip around to the comedy central and you'll find Tosh.0, a show featuring humiliating internet videos narrated by a snarky comic who cracks jokes about the people in them. Even videos of children enduring horrible injuries are turned into entertainment. In one episode, a little girl who has just been so badly burned across one side of her body that much of her skull, neck tendons, and shoulder bone are exposed is made fun of my Daniel Tosh, who cracks jokes about how she now looks like the Terminator.
Dateline NBC has built an empire on the basis of public humiliation and schadenfreude, disguising the pleasure and joy we get from reveling in the downfall of others as an act of community service. Most local news shows these days have gone to a similar format, devoting most of their newscasts to "name and shame" stories that expose some alleged wrongdoing while encouraging viewers to judge and condemn the accused without knowing all the facts. National Geographic, which was once and educational channel, has resorted to running episode after episode of police and border patrol shows, which are watched whether consciously or subconsciously, for the pleasure and feelings of superiority we receive from seeing other in a vulnerable or desperate situation. This superior feeling is one of the basics of bullying psychology.
Even seemingly noble shows such as Law & Order promote every aspect of the bully mentality, hiding it right in plain site: A snarky detective or prosecutor, full of self-righteous indignation and moral superiority, dishes out both insult and injury as he persecutes those deemed deserving of such treatment. We don't see it as wrong, because the cruelty is directed towards "bad guys" who "deserve it." Yet the underlying message is clear: those who are different, those who make mistakes, those who are struggling with problems we don't have, or those who hurt or offend us must be sought out, humiliated, condemned and destroyed. This message is reinforced throughout the movies, which justify and celebrate every form of aggression up to and including murder, so long a it's the "bad guys" being punished. The problem is, who gets to determine who is the bad guy?
Throughout television, it's hard to find a show that doesn't promote one of these aspects of bully psychology:
- An Us versus Them or Us versus Other mentality
- Name calling and verbal aggression
- Labeling or stereotyping people (predator, monster, illegal, looser, pervert, reject)
- Group versus group aggression
- Relational aggression (gossiping about or manipulating others for self-advancement)
- Feeling pleasure and satisfaction in the suffering or persecution of others.
While no one program is directly responsible for kids bullying one another, the cumulative effects of this exposure can be profound. What we provide as a model, children will bring with them into their own world. They'll apply the same mentality when it comes to their own feuds and their own ideas about who deserves to be persecuted.
Our children are learning these lessons well. Take the case of the youths who bullied Phoebe Prince to the point of suicide, continuing to taunt her even after the 15-year-old's tragic death. Their cruelty shocked the nation. Yet the kids involved seemed utterly baffled by the angry responses that were then directed at them in return.
If you try to put yourselves in their shoes and think about it for a minute, we can understand their confusion. After all, from their perspective, they were just doing some of the same things that everyone else in the world at large (as they see it) seems to do. They were conniving and manipulative, just like the people who win the million dollars and earn celebrity status on Survivor. They were relentless in scorning their enemy and well-versed in the art of insult and humiliation; the same traits they see celebrated in the heroes portrayed throughout movies and television. They persecuted their victim with the same self-righteous indignation and narcissistic hatred that you can see exhibited on every single episode of Law and Order. They were doing exactly as our media culture had taught them to do.
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Monday, March 3, 2014

Correlations Between Animal Abuse and Child Abuse

 Correlations Between Animal Abuse and Child Abuse

"The awful wrongs and sufferings
 forced upon the innocent, helpless, and faithful animal [and child]
 form the blackest chapter in the whole world's history."

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Wake Up to Live is about awareness in every aspect.  Waking up to live life is about questioning the social norms and the things that feel uncomfortable to talk about.  Wake Up to Live is about becoming awake to our biases, prejudices, and injustices. Waking up to live life is about waking up from unconsciousness to see what is really true.  Although waking up to live life with awareness and clarity may be difficult to do because now we must begin to make the hard choices, we must strive to Wake Up to Live and be responsible for our actions and the actions of others.  We are in this life together!