Dealing with a Bully Pt. 2

Breaking the cycle

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Like I said in the last Bully post, I have dealt with bullies all of my life. Unfortunately when you grow up dealing with bullies, sometimes you fall into the same trap that they fell into – you yourself become the bully and those around you are infected by your toxicity.

My dad’s step father – from whom I bear my last name – was a very mean man. He was the quintessential bully and he took it out on his kids and his wife (my paternal grandmother). The children were beaten, they were subjected to harsh conditions – while he pursued his job – and they were neglected having to fend for themselves (according to the stories I have heard).

My dad said that one time they were living in Alaska, and the shed where they slept, would let snow in and they had to learn to keep warm.  That is awful conditions to put any child through. He made my father work at a really young age, and took his money when he made it. 

When I was a child, I saw him take money from my two older brothers and when I started making money he would take it from me as well – which was an enticement for me to leave after turning 18.

I would love to tell you that the bullying stopped right there when I left home. However, it did not. I actually became the bully. I tried to bully my wife – I told her, “you promised to obey in our marriage vows.” 

She looked at me and answered, “NO, I don’t need to obey you, we are partners – you are not my master.” I was shocked, I was the man of the house, and she was the woman. It did not stop there. I was not nice to my children either. there are several times I remember that I forced my will on my children. 

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My oldest son bullied his brother – but he stopped when he was a teenager and now is a fantastic dad to his children. He broke the cycle.

My second oldest never bullied, but turned into the protector and became a shield to his younger siblings against his grandfather. He broke the cycle

It took me several years and a lot of tears to realize I was the bully. I had to stop, I had to reign in my anger and realize they were only children. I pulled back and I was not physical with my youngest children – and I would never ever be physically aggressive to my grandchildren.

The chain of abuse has to be broken, it has to be brought up to the bully and they need to be given the chance to get help and to change. If the abuse doesn’t stop, then the abused must distance themselves from the abuser. I was able to recognize it, and that recognition stopped me in my tracks. Do I still get angry – yes. Do I react to that anger – I channel it differently. Am I perfect – absolutely… NOT!

The point of this post. If you suffered from abuse from a parent, family member, extended family member, spouse or someone from the outside, you are not alone and it is not your fault – you need to get help. If you have become the bully – you also need to get help. There are many different websites and resources to help:

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE(7233)

Safehorizon 1-800-621-HOPE(4673)

Dealing with a Bully Pt.1

There are two ways to deal with a bully, sometimes you have to face them, the decision to face a bully is the hardest, gut wrenching, sweat inducing experience that you might ever face. But once you go toe to toe with the bully, you realize they have no power. However, you might have to put distance between you and them. Either way you will win the day.

I have faced many bullies in my life, and the one thing that I have learned is that bullies come in all different shapes and sizes. They aren’t specifically male, they don’t always have to come from a disadvantaged childhood but they all have one thing in common – they are sad individuals.

My biggest bully I have ever had to face was when I was in the fourth grade. I went to a private school that was predominantly Navajo and Apache students. In fact there were only five white kids in the entire school. It was a K-12, and 2-12 were all in the same room.

Albert was a senior, he was tall and strong, and he had told me he hated white boys. Every day he would pick on my brothers or me without any provocation or repercussions. 

One day Albert was in a particularly bad mood, and I was his target dejour. He pushed me, he hit me, he threw things at me, and at lunch he ended up ripping my new jeans. I was diry, bloody and my clothes were ruined. He just laughed.

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My dad picked us up from school, and took one look at me. He was mad – I thought that Albert was going to finally get what he deserved. 

We made it home – a 12 mile trip – without a sound. My dad took me to his room and gave me the spanking of my life. I didn’t understand. 

My dad then told me how to take down Albert. He said that I should drop to the ground and bite his leg. 

The next day, I did what my dad said, and I took a chunk out of Albert’s leg – which got me suspended from school.

Albert was a bully, but he was not the only bully I had to deal with. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my dad was a bully too. 

I watched my dad bully my older two brothers, my mom and then my children. He tried to bully my wife, but she would have none of it.

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I had to distance my family from my dad, because of his angry outbursts, and how he was bullying my children. We moved away from him and about seven years later, my father died. I wasn’t there when he passed. Later I found out the extent to his bullying when talking to my children. It grieved my heart when I heard what he did to my kids. If you have to walk away from a bully, do it sooner than later. 

My Sons, My Heros

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Today is Veterans Day, a very special day for me and my family. I am a veteran of the United States Navy, and I have two sons that are serving in the United States Army. The life of a service member is not always easy – but my two sons have made me very proud. 

I remember when my oldest son was in fourth grade. I was invited to his school with all the other veterans and service members. We were set in the front rows of the auditorium, and the kids came out and sang songs and did presentations. It was wonderful – then my son came out and read a paper that he wrote called My Dad, My Hero. I went away from that assembly with tears in my eyes. 

Since then he enlisted into the Army National Guard, he has seen war in Afghanistan, he has represented his unit and the United States at football games in Seattle at the SeaHawk Stadium. Most of all he has been proud to wear his uniform as a soldier. His service and his sacrifice has been sometimes a hard burden to bear, but he has done it with grace and courage.

I am proud of you my oldest son, my hero.

I left the Navy when my wife was pregnant with our twins, we had a boy and a girl. When my youngest son grew up, he was like a ship without a rudder. He had no direction or control over his life. I felt he was wasting his life and I didn’t know what I could do for him. 

Then my son announced he was going into the military. He wanted to be a Nurse and he knew the best way was to go through the service. He chose the Army and went off to bootcamp. His bootcamp was hard, and his Nursing training was long and difficult – he made it through. He graduated from his school just as COVID-19 hit. He could not leave for his duty station, and was stuck in Texas. Then he received his orders for Hawaii.

My youngest son is working on the front lines during this pandemic, but just like his older brother, he is a warrior. He also wears his uniform with pride. He is all alone in Hawaii, but he is in our hearts back home. I appreciate his service and his sacrifice.

I am proud of you my youngest son, my hero.

I am a very blessed father and citizen of this country. Even in the midst of the political turmoil in this country, we need to stop, put our differences aside and thank our veterans and service members. Happy Veterans Day.

Be Gracious

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Part of being someone that people want to be around, is being gracious. Being civilized and considerate. We seemed to have lost a lot of grace in our society: It is time we brought it back. Grace should never be out of style. I don’t want to turn this into a political blog, I am not political – and I think that politics should not be brought up in polite conversation – that being said… here we go!

So I am bothered by the chest beating that is going on in Washington right now. I am reading it all over social media and listening to it on the street.  There is no need for all this posturing. I have even heard some supporters of former president Trump saying they want a revolution! There is nothing to revolt against, It is time for this administration to step aside.

Looking at who lost the previous elections starting from President Ford to Senator John McCain’s they all pretty much say the same thing. They thank the people that volunteered, they thank the people that voted for their race. They congratulate the winner and offer their support to the president – if they were president, they plan to move out the following January.

It takes grace to leave when you are defeated, it takes even more grace to congratulate the winner. When two teams meet each other on the field, one takes the win and the other takes the loss. The losing team always congratulates the winning team and the winners graciously say, “Good game.”

Why is the current president not accepting facts and bowing out gracefully? Why can’t he see that the race is over? There were celebrations around the world when the election was called, yet he wants to sue for recounting the votes – does he think he can make up 4 million votes?

But that is not all – Republican leaders are telling him to keep fighting. The game is over – let it go. 

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So what can we learn from all of this? To be congenial, we need to play by the rules. We need to see when the race is worth putting in all of your effort, and respond with grace when the race is over – weather you have won or not. Pouting and throwing tempers is not going to do anything but make others believe you are a “poor sport.” 

A Shadow That Was Cast.

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There have been a lot of great influences in my life, which makes me a very lucky person – not to say that there weren’t many negative influences, but the good does outweigh the bad. However, few have taught me as much as my time at “Fran’s Print Shop.”

My boss’ name was Fran Whetten, a retired school teacher, she was in her early to mid-seventies and she had been in the printing business for 25 years. Not only was Fran a force to be reckoned with, but she was also a wealth of knowledge. I had only been out of the Navy for a year and a half when I went to work for Fran, and I worked for her for three years. 

Even though my pay was not stellar, the information she gave me, and the management training that was imparted to me, have brought me a long way. Some of her principals which she impressed on me on a daily basis were ideas like: “Nothing is impossible, it might take a little bit longer or might be more expensive, but anything can be done.”

One way this principle was shown in action was with a client of ours called “The Windshield Doctor.” He had a difficult request; he wanted to have business cards with a deep blue background and yellow lettering. When you put blue ink on a yellow card, the background will come out green, when you put yellow ink on a blue card the words come out green.We spent literally months on this project, and finally came out with a correct card for the customer, and most of the expense was footed by Fran as a consideration for the client (and I think because Fran wanted to see the best way to get this done). Once this was finally done correctly, and the client left the print shop with 2000 cards – blue background, yellow letters. However, he was sued to change the name of his business, and closed shop.

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Another idiom Fran would frequently quote was: “There are three things that are most important in life, family, health and happiness.” She made sure that if there was anything that interfered with this, she made it her mission to fix it. 

Close to the end of my time at Fran’s, I became very ill. Fran was getting ready to retire, and the print shop was mostly in my control. She didn’t step foot in the building except for a couple of times a month. I didn’t tell her I was sick, but one of my press operators did, she came in and told me to go home. I started walking home (home was only about a mile away), and she saw me walking. She put a scarf over her nose and mouth, picked me up in her VW Bug and took me home. The next day, she saw me walking to work, so with the scarf employed as before, she escorted me home, and threatened to fire me if I showed up sick. I was off the next week, but came back strong

I left Fran’s, because she was retiring, as a parting gift, and “severance package.” She paid for me to go back to school. I left Fran’s but her teaching has never left me.

You Have The Power.

STOP THE PRESSES! “Wait a gosh darn minute mister – don’t you know we are in a Pandemic here. People are getting sick and you want me to shake their hand?! ARE YOU CRAZY!”

    Well you are correct, we are in the middle of COVID-19, but that is not going to last forever. This too shall pass. 

    Once we are allowed to get out of our houses, and go back to our “Brick and Mortar,” we can start becoming close to people we work with again. However, we don’t have to wait till then, there are things we can do now that will make us likeable.

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In September of 2019, I started driving for LYFT full time, and I was pretty successful at it. I was happy, I had left my brick and mortar for the last time, and I had embraced the life of a rideshare driver – I loved it.

    Last January, our family moved into a new neighborhood. We moved from an apartment to a house on a little dead end street. Our moving truck wasn’t little by any means, and it took up the whole street. One neighbor came out and told me that her daughter was due home and wanted to know how long I was going to be blocking her way. It wasn’t rude, but it wasn’t congenial.

    Over the next couple of months, I came to know my neighbors on either side of me, One is a contractor and the other was a single mom and her biker boyfriend (That is another post). We had all become really close friends… Then COVID hit.

    I was still driving, but things were starting to shut down, and my doctor prescribed me a medication for my asthma which diminished my immune system, so I had to stop driving – that was in March.  However, I was still able to be friendly to my neighbors. 

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    You see, even if you are staring at the same four walls inside your house, and you are social distancing like you should be. You still can be friendly to people around you. I have spoken to the people that live around me from my front driveway and from my back porch. I watch my neighbor’s house when she is away, and she has let me borrow her truck to make a dump run.  I also watch the other neighbor’s house and they resiprocate when we leave for a weekend.

    The purpose of this post is two fold: First, COVID isn’t going to be around forever – we will get back to a state of normalcy even though that normalcy will be different than what we are used to. Second, no matter where you are, no matter what you do, no matter your age, sex, religion, sexual orentation, political affiliation – you have the power to brighten someone’s day. You have the power to be congenial.  Just be safe doing it.

Be congenial, loose the shell

    I need to set the record straight, this is not a dating advice sight. “But wait Thom,” you interject. “What were the first two posts about, if not dating?” This is about how to be congenial and approachable. To be honest, I left the dating scene 34 years ago, when I met my wife. 

    “So what is this all about then, if not finding the right girl at a club?”

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Well I am glad you asked: It is about congeniality in your everday life – When I was in the corporate world, I went out of my way to be congenial. I made it a point to say good morning to everyone, I introduced myself to all the new people and I created relationships with the majority of the staff.

    I did this, because the place I was working at had a cold vibe to it. It was a payroll company, and most of the people seemed – for the lack of a better explanation – dull and uninspired.

    When I went to work there, only one person came to greet me, she was my manager, and it was part of her job. So I made it a point to let everyone know I was there.

    My next mission was to make all the new hires feel welcome, and this created some nice friendships. 

    One day, one of my friends from sales came over and introduced me to his new client. After the sales rep left, a woman that worked with me asked, “Who was that?”

    Even though that sales rep had been there for over six months, she didn’t know who he was. Why, because the woman I worked with was not approachable – she was stuck inside of her shell, she was not congenial and worse yet, she seldom smiled.

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    Another time, she wanted to know who a person was, and she pointed across the room. After I told her, she said – with a fair amount of snark, “Well you know everyone.”

    Why did I know everyone, because I made it a point to be congenial. I was approachable, I looked nice and I smiled. I made it a point to get to know people and make them feel like they were important.

    Good news – the woman I worked with broke out of her shell and became more friendly. Shortly after that, she left the company for a better job. You see when you get rid of your shell, better opportunities present themselves. 

Now you could argue that I was a disruptive influence, these people were just trying to do their job, and I came around and disturbed them. Well you can be correct in that assertion, but is it better to work in a cold and unfriendly environment or to be in a place that feels welcome and friendly. 

    Don’t be afraid to come out of your shell, look up from your computer screen, be friendly and offer assistance gratefully and don’t feel like anyone is an interruption. Extend your hand in a friendly greeting. Above all else – SMILE!

Congenial Male Pt. 2

    In my last post, I showed an example of how a girl gets ready versus a guy – yes they were very generalized, but they were examples. Now we are going to look at why a guy is not approachable. Being approachable is paramount to creating that relationship.

    Now let’s say that same guy from the first post got his stuff together. He wakes up, takes a shower, brushes his teeth, cleans under his fingernails, puts on a fresh shirt and clean jeans, socks and nice shoes. He puts on deodorant and styles his hair and uses a small amount of cologne. Dawning a jacket, he exits his place and heads downtown. 

    He makes it to the club, there are a lot of people in the club, so he goes to the bar and orders a beer. He stands at a standup table, and scans the room. He makes eye contact with a couple of girls, but they break eye contact almost immediately. He approaches one of the girls, but she doesn’t seem interested. He goes home alone – but why?

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As I said in the previous post, we are all judged on what we look like. We are our own advertising. He got the clothes correct, but he never broke a smile. Reading some other posts of why women aren’t attracted to men, a lot of women are intimidated if the guy doesn’t smile. It gives off the impression that you are cold, aloof, mean or just plain bored. Women don’t want to be around a guy that is like that. They don’t care if you are working on your “Blue Steel” look or not – girls want someone that will smile at them and be a generally happy guy.

Some of these women say that they will not approach a man if he doesn’t smile. Now some guys don’t like to smile. They want to have the tough exterior, and that is that. Unfortunately in today’s climate, that can be viewed as “Toxic Masculinity” and even if you aren’t a toxic male, your face might be giving off the wrong idea.

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You might ask, “But wait, I don’t want anyone to think I am weak or a pushover.” Not everyone that smiles is weak or a pushover – take a look at Sean Connery (God rest his soul). He was not a pushover or weak, he smiled and in 1989 he was voted People Magazine’s “sexiest man alive.” See what happens when you smile.

So next time when you go out there, smile a little, make that eye contact and start becoming a man that people want to be around.

The Congenial Male pt. 1

What is a Congenial Male anyway? Well the best definition is: A man that people want to be around. Now some guys have an entourage of friends that surround them at all times – their “posse,” but what about the people that don’t run around in your circle of friends.

    When we venture out into public, and into the view of others, what do people see? Being a Lyft driver for a few years, I saw many guys that put themselves out there, without much thought of how they appeared to others. I picked up many of the same guys later – still alone.

    It is sad but true, you are judged first by your appearance. Let’s look at how a girl goes out into public versus a guy. A girl always is aware of how she looks (yes this is a generialization). First she’ll take a shower, shampoo and condition her hair. When she gets out,  she will apply lotion or baby oil to her body to make it soft and silky; then she will choose her clothes from her underwear to her jacket. She will spend considerable time on her hair, using several products to get it to the right condition. She will put on makeup, and create the look that she is proud of. Then she will get dressed, use deodorant and lastly perfume, but not too much. This very well might take her a couple of hours if not more. 

    Let’s look at how a guy (another generialization) goes into public. First he gets out of bed, he smells himself to see if he needs a shower, decides against it and puts on some deodorant. Then brushes his teeth (maybe). He looks for a shirt, but the shirt he wants is in the laundry – he smells it, it seems fine – so he puts it on. He does the same with the jeans and socks. Dawning a comfortable pair of shoes, he runs his hands through his hair and five minutes later, he is out the door.

    In this example, most people will want to be around the girl, but not so for the guy, why? Because of attitude. She prepares herself, she is aware of what she looks like and she wants to dictate how people perceive her. The guy – on the other hand – Just wants to get out there, he doesn’t consider how everyone perceives him, because his attitude is; well this works for me. 

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    To be a man that people want to be around, you have to have the right attitude. If you want to be noticed – in the right way – you need to put some effort into how you present yourself. Think of it this way: Let’s say that you are going to a car lot, you are going to purchase a brand new car, but when you get to the car lot, and all the cars are dirty, covered with mud, the inside smells like unwashed feet. Chances are you would not purchase a car from that lot. 

    Like it or not we make judgements on what we see, from items at the grocery store to people at the club. If we don’t like what we see, we move on – sometimes unconsciously. Make sure no one moves on past you.