BULLY

Bully reviewI had been putting this movie off for weeks. Yesterday it seemed to be screaming at me so I finally decided to watch it. My resistance was coming from an all too familiar place that I knew this movie was going to take me back to. I pushed play, and after an initial scene where the filmmakers show us the most horrible place where bullying can lead to, the movie continued (or rather began) with a camera inside a school bus while we listened to an incredible school choir version of Wheatus’s song ¨Teenage Dirtbag¨. Powerful stuff from the beginning, especially if you have ever witnessed the horrible difficulties some kids face during that ride to and from school. I always knew that bullying was a very big problem in the United States, and it certainly seems to have gotten out of hand there, but trust me when I tell you this is a global problem. Kids in every school, in almost every country in the world have witnessed the actions and effects of bullying at one time or another. Even here in Spain where for some reason I assumed this matter was under control I’ve heard my share of heart wrenching stories.

Things are probably a lot worse now than when I was a kid. There’s certainly a lot more diversity when it comes to families, traditions, religions, and there’s nothing a bully loves more than a glimpse of something different. If kids are teased simply because of having curly hair, run of the mill clothes or a funny accent, imagine what it’s like for children that are gay, have a physical or mental disability, a different religion, a different skin color. What has always shocked me the most regarding bullying is that the schools, where all of these acts of serious violence are taking place, do little to nothing about it. It took the parents of children lost many years too young due to bullying, to come together with these filmmakers to try to make a difference in their communities. It’s an absolute must see if you’re an educator, a parent or have any kind of position in a school or educational environment.

Bully took me on a very sad bus ride with a few kids, down very sad hallways with others, down a psychiatric prison ward and even inside their safe bedrooms at home. Now, thanks to the internet and texting, there’s simply no safe haven for kids that are being harassed.  Bullying is a serious issue and little has been done about it because school authorities continue to label it as usual ‘boys will be boys’ behavior. Even though girls are no exception, I’m not talking about sex here, this is a violence issue, it is serious and it should be taken as seriously as any other issue involving education. Many parents and teachers who see their kids day in and day out don’t even know that they’re bullying other children the minute they step outside their home or classroom. Many kids who are suffering from bullying say nothing at all.

This was the strongest part of the movie for me. A young boy, who had been severely bullied for years realized that becoming a bully himself was the only solution to his awful situation. If this isn’t an example of the now proven fact that many of the victims of today become the perpetrators of tomorrow, I don’t know what is. Here’s one of the hopeful things that I got from this film, a lot can be done not only by telling someone what is going on, but by standing next to those kids who are quiet, lonely and suffering severe aggravation from others. Many of the parents and classmates of children who committed suicide over bullying have said, that if aside from the bullies, their child had had just one friend or better yet a group of friends, a sense of community, their horrible tragedy could have been avoided. I urge you to watch this film and to not only leave it at that, share it with fellow parents and teachers, sit down with your children and talk to them about these issues. Abuse can come in many shapes and forms and can be where you least expect it. Open the floor for discussion. A school bus, a schoolyard or a classroom should never be a place of fear or pain. It breaks my heart when I see a child suffer and it’s often so hard to end suffering when it’s caused by an adult or parent, but to end it when it’s caused by another child? Shouldn’t that be easy? They are all learning and growing and becoming who they are, that’s why we’re there for right? To explain the difference between what is right and what is wrong? To show by example that differences are a part of life and give the world its color? Why is this issue such a huge and violent problem and why has nothing been done about it?

With a heavy heart I urge you to watch this film. I’d love to know your thoughts on this in the comments below! This is Bully. 

 

A RESOLUTION IN ACTION

Being presentA couple of weeks ago I told you all about my wish for the New Year: being present, enjoying the moment, slowing down (you can read that post here if you missed it). Something I think many of us set aside in the midst of our busy schedules and everyday stress. This week, a chance to put my resolution into action fell from the sky. I´m saying this literally! We got our first snow of the year, and it quickly became one of the most memorable days I´ve spent in Spain so far. Our dog, native to the tropics, who travelled all the way from Venezuela to Spain with us, loves.. and I mean LOVES snow. As soon as she realized that the snowflakes were falling she was glued to the window waiting for them to set. She was having what seemed like an exhiliaraiting freak out moment as soon as she saw the snowflakes getting exponentially bigger. My heart was melting!winter

As soon as there was enough snow on the ground, I bundled up (while still in my PJs I must admit!) and took an overly excited dog to the woods.

What happened when we got there was a wonderful little present. I had taken my camera and so I started taking photos of the snow covered branches, pine cones and of course of this crazy dog that seemed to have transformed into a bunny (or frog). Every year I forget how much she loves this.

the little things in life

winterI was laughing so hard while I was trying to get shots of her jumping up in the air. After I took the ones I´m sharing with you today, I put my camera down and ran around with her. Just looking at her loving every moment and doing these crazy tricks all around me. I was right there. The feeling that came during and after that moment was beyond wonderful. Another reminder that this little resolution (for me) and wish (for you) is ridiculously important. I will tell you this, once you start, you´ll be hooked! Suddenly, putting down the camera/phone/laptop/loop of none stop thinking (or whatever it is that keeps you off the ground you’re standing on) will be as easy as pie. You’ll get back more than you can count, that I can assure you…

new years resolutions

SUNDAY BEST

Pile of leaves

Happy Sunday everyone! I was missing the warm weather of the Caribbean this week but then I took my dog to the park and remembered why this is my favorite season! I sat down in the stone steps at the park while Nala played in a pile of leaves and watched the leaves falling quietly. Now I remember the beauty of living in a city that has four seasons. I do have to say though that falling back into a routine after days of sun and swimming in the ocean is not as easy as I thought it would be! The jet lag which I thought I had escaped this time around finally caught up with me.

Autumn in Spain

Anyway, it’s that time of the week again, here are my favorites:

A wonderful teaching site with great creative ideas The Classroom Collective has provided me with some very original ideas for lessons.

For photographers, travelling enthusiasts and lovers of beautiful images from around the world, Best Travel Photos is like a little feast for the eyes. It makes you want to go fishing for your passport and bags asap!

For foodies, cooks and wannabe chefs, I’m absolutely loving Eat Live Run. I can’t wait to try their hummus toasts with avocado and roasted tomatoes. They have wonderful veggie packed recipes and beautiful photography.

Last but not least, I found Carrots n’ Cake when I was looking for a recipe, and it turns out the creator of this blog has us covered with everything from food, travel, home decor, to fitness and well being. Take a stroll through her multiple pages and find what might be up your alley. I can’t wait to spend some time in her recipe section and especially to make her edamame guacamole!

That’s about it for this edition of Sunday Best, they’re showing Deathproof on tv so I’m about to curl up on the couch with hubby  and doggie and watch it yet again. Have a great Sunday everyone!

THE INTERESTING HOME PROJECT

arts and crafts for eslI had a busy busy Sunday with all the cooking you read about in yesterday’s post. Followed by a little run, some much needed tv time and of course, lesson planning. I’m working on a project with one of my young students (age 9), which we’ve called “The Interesting Home Project”. We had a lesson on vocabulary that included mill, windmill, treehouse, castle, space shuttle, submarine, cave, teepee, among others, all in the fun concept of people who live in unique homes. He had a blast, especially because I made a Keynote presentation for him with these crazy real life photographs of strange houses from all over the world. Even the young ones are fascinated by real life stories and photos (plus they go nutty with the Keynote transitions so it’s a win-win!). At the end of the lesson we started our project and he got to choose one unique and interesting home that we would design together and write about (also to incorporate previous vocabulary and grammar such as rooms of the house, common objects and the present simple). His choice: a treehouse with a garage right inside the tree trunk (genius right?). So last night I decided to cut up some 3D leaves for the branches out of different materials and I’m going to show them to him today. I can’t wait to see his face when he realizes his tree will be 3D! I’ll post a photo of how the project is coming along (he doesn’t want me to take it until it looks really good and of course I respect his little work in progress). There is no better involvement for a student than these kinds of projects, especially if they’re allowed to think outside the box and show you their wonderful imagination. The amount of English that is used while making them is fantastic as well.

Speaking of unique homes, take a look at this man’s journey into designing an eco friendly tiny home: Tumbleweed, the tiny house company. Thanks to our reader and beloved friend Rachel for this amazing link!