behavior, black women, coworkers, disrespect, diversity, Drama, empowering, friends, haters, karma, life lessons, Mental Health, relationships, self hating, self loathing, self respect, Uncategorized, women

The Hot Mess

My friend Cindy is what I refer to as a hot mess. In a good, funny, loving way. It was her birthday and she arrived at my work desk with a couple of pictures to show me. Now Cindy works in another department and made the trip special just to share these pictures. It also happened to be Throwback Thursday and if you spend anytime in twittersphere you know what I’m talking about. Her pictures spoke a thousand words of a young, vivacious, svelte, beautiful woman wearing a daring outfit. The other was her baby picture.

The baby picture was cute, but the young hot Cindy in 1984 is what caught your attention. Cindy is now 61 wonderful years and full of stories about her anything but dull life. Even heading into year so called golden years this woman is living a drama filled, but fun life and she loves to tell you about it. Great fodder for a writer! in fact we even based a character on her in our third book The Body Hunters: Dirty Secrets, Naked Truths . To put it simply Cindy is awesome. I could in no way have handled her life or begin to even imagine being as daring as she was and still is.

To the outsider Cindy can be a mental handful. As I stated she loves to talk and if you don’t love to listen to people then she is not the person for you. Her stories make it all worth it. The celebrity encounters she’s had in questionable situations to even current boyfriends make you drop your jaw and shake your head all the while smiling and laughing with her.

The whole picture exchange took less than 3 or 4 minutes and soon we were all back at our respective jobs and I didn’t think anything more of it. That is till the woman who sits on the other side of my cubicle said something to me over the cubicle wall.

“Why do you attract the weirdest people?” she asked.

“Huh?” was my intelligent response.

“These weird people always flock to you, you need to get some normal people in your life.”

Now this woman, let’s call her Mary to protect her not so innocence, is a 40-ish beautiful black woman, single mom with a teenage son. I have been to 1 outing with her and a couple of other friends to of all movies, a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. You know the one where people dress up and yell comments through out the whole movie? yeah that one. One of my friends that went with me that night is my age and a lifelong friend named Barb who is a musical wonder and a talented artist in paints and any other type of medium she gets her hands on. She’s high strung and like all artists of a high caliber, very brilliant and unfortunately lives in her own world. She is also an alcoholic, severely broke after having made an ungodly amount of money and is having trouble facing her new reality and frail physical and psychological  health. She is a real hot mess and not in a good Cindy kind of way.

I will not lie, I prayed Barb would behave on our outing and just for once enjoy herself getting lost in this ridiculous movie. She did for all of 30 minutes and then her addiction and depression struck. She eventually left and found a bar to shoot back a few tequila’s down only coming back at the end of the movie. I was embarrassed for her and for me. Though I am not responsible for her actions, she had begged me take her along wanting the girls night out and I could have said no.

Mary is a former alcoholic. Mary lived a little of Barb’s life and should understand the addiction and what it does to a person. Mary is now sober and a church going upstanding citizen in her own eyes. Mary made several comments about that night and how she could relate to what Barb was going through, felt bad for her ect….which is why it was a shock to me that she made the comments she made.

Back to Cindy. Cindy is not Barb, Cindy holds a job, takes care of her aging mother and tries to make herself fun to be around. Mary’s comment  to me about how I attract the weirdest people struck me as odd. Why was she being so critical? and what is she saying about herself? She after all did hang out with me too. She then said to me she thought Cindy was lying about having any current boyfriends. Cindy being 61 is not the skinny woman she used to be and her body no longer lends itself to dressing like a woman of much younger years. Cindy dresses for work in age appropriate clothes for a person on our meager salary.

I asked Mary why did she think Cindy was lying? What reason does she have to lie? Mary told me it was because she needed to compensate to me for lacking in something that I have that she doesn’t. In other words she told me Cindy was jealous of me.

“Wait, What?”

Jealous of me? I am a living large and in charge kind of gal, in other words fat. My manner of dress is relevant to my size and financial situation. For Christ’s sakes I cut my own hair to save money since my husbands medical bills are so high. Why the hell would anyone be jealous of me?

“Ain’t no woman dresses like her and has a man. You have a long term marriage and she’s jealous of that.” she reiterated again I need normal people in my life.

Ok, who’s jealous of my having a husband? Um….her or you?

I mean how critical can you get? Mary as I have learned is very self critical calling herself things like ugly and fat, even complaining about her dark skin color calling her self Aunt Jemima after the pancake syrup character. Wow! How self loathing can you get? I wanted to cry for her and remember, I’m the living large and in charge gal who cuts her own hair.

I have no time for self loathing, self hatred and internal or outwardly name calling. People will do that for me and to me on a regular basis. I told Mary the reason the off center, kooky, crazy, troubled, weirdo’s (who are just normal human beings getting through life the best way they know how) are attracted to me is because I try not to judge and I listen. In them there are several life lessons to be learned and shared. Everyone has value even if you can’t or refuse to value yourself. For a woman who overcame her own addiction just to constantly put herself and other women down is sad. She is not an Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth or any other sticky syrupy commercially racist character. She is a beautiful black woman who turns men’s heads wherever she goes. I’m guessing the reason she can’t keep a love interest is beyond her beauty. If you can’t respect and love yourself how are you going to love someone else?  Cindy is not lying about her life or the men in her life. I believe she still attracts men not because she is still the raving beauty of her youth, but because she is still a fun loving, quirky light hearted individual that loves life and has no problem in sharing it.

So here’s to all my weird, wacky, troubled, artistic, fun loving friends. Keep on keeping on. and to Mary, lighten up your heart already, it ain’t that serious!

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behavior, call center, common sense, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, customer service, customers, diversity, life lessons, manners, race relations, racism, values

Be Nice!

Von and I have made it no secret that we work in a call center. Only the name and location have been changed to protect the not so innocent. The company we work for also has a call center in the Philippines to handle things such as billing and tech issues. It’s not an unusual thing for American companies to outsource some call center operations to other parts of the world.

On several occasions, I’ve had customers erroneously call me with complaints about the advisors overseas.

‘Thank God, I reached someone who speaks English!’

‘Where are you located? I’m tired of talking to foreigners!’

‘I hung up on the last person because I didn’t want to talk to anyone in China.’

‘I want you to get somebody from America on the phone!’

Those are just some of the ugly, nasty things I’ve heard over the years about the call center employees in the Philippines. It’s not that they’re incompetent or can’t do the job, people are offended because they’re not American. They use the excuse of a language barrier, when in truth they speak fluent English, some of them with or without an accent.

Sometimes they try to reel me in to their nastiness chuckling at their own derogatory humor, but I purposely let them hang themselves with awkward silence. If you feel this way about someone who’s different from you, what would you think about me, a black woman? You’re just letting me know what you’re all about.

Call center employees take their share of abuse and I’m pretty sure those from foreign call centers get it worse. That just adds to the widespread belief overseas that Americans are selfish, arrogant, and rude. How many of those call center employees go home with horror stories about the intolerant Americans they’ve talked to all day?

If you’re not happy with outsourcing, that’s fine, but it’s not the call center advisor’s fault. They’re trying to earn a living just like you. Write to the company you get your services through. If they refuse to change, take your business elsewhere. Just don’t make your grievances a personal attack on someone who’s just trying to do their job.

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black women, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, life lessons, manners, race relations, racism, radio, values

If You Don’t Like What I Have to Say, Get Off My Blog!

I’m going to make some people mad, I know I am. Too bad and if you don’t like it there’s the door.

As a black woman, I have an issue with black radio. About a month ago, I was in my car listening to one of the syndicated, drive time radio shows. The day before a white woman had called in to complain that the show was basically racially charged. Everything she heard was ‘White people this’ and ‘White people that’ which I agreed with and she compared him to the last radio show which did the exact same thing. The host got flippant with her and since it was a replay from the day before I’m not sure where the conversation went after that.

The next day I had a discussion with my mother about it and she shared my viewpoint since it’s something she deals with everyday. As much as she loves the Tom Joyner Morning Show or the Steve Harvey Morning Show, she can’t listen to it in her office. She works with two white women and who wants an awkward situation when one of the radio hosts launches into a white people tirade or joke? The office radio is set to a pop channel, a predominantly white channel by the way, with no fear of a racially charged topic or someone feeling uncomfortable. The only side effect is that my mother knows more pop songs than what I’m used to.

As a people we want people to open the door and accept us, yet we put our own dividers up. Now we have our situations from time to time where we have to get organized and involved, I know that, but it’s not every single day.I even like the little known Black facts segment on the Tom Joyner show but the jokes concerning other races really have to go.  If a white radio station ranted about black people the way we talk about them, we’d be outside the building picketing with our pitchforks and torches with Al Sharpton and the Rainbow Coalition being flown in. So why do we feel we have the right to do that to other races?

If you want people to change, you have to start with yourself. If we’re not willing to take change seriously, why would any one else?

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biracial, Chicklit, daughters, diversity, Drama, family, fathers, Fiction, friends, ghosts, Indie Author, manners, mothers, Multicultural, Paranormal, supernatural, women

Danielle’s Halloween

Here’s a fun treat. This is a prequel of sorts to the yet unpublished third book in The Body Hunters series. Call it a Halloween treat! Enjoy!

“I promise honey, this is going to be the best Halloween/Slumber/Birthday party ever.” Danny’s mother, Julianna happily announced as she hung the Happy Birthday banner.

The Labouleaux family’s living room had been set up as party central with everything a six year old little girl could want at their party; every six year old girl except Danielle Labouleaux. Danielle or Danny as she preferred did not understand the need for all the hoopla surrounding her birthday. She’d practically begged her mother not to invite any of girls in Danny’s first grade class other than her two best friends.
“Not it’s not!” Danny protested. “The other girls in my class hate me.”
Julianna beamed a smile down on the daughter who was her spitting image, except for her golden eyes and golden complexion which was inherited from her father. “Honey, they don’t hate you. They just haven’t taken the time to get to know you. That’s what this party is about; getting to know your classmates and making friends.”
“Whatever.” Seeing that her mother still wasn’t listening to her, Danny stalked off in search of the candy she’d been forbidden to eat.
Danny was different, she knew that. First and foremost, she was psychic, able to communicate with ‘ghosties’ as her Grandmere called them. That fact was a secret that only she and Grandmere shared. Her grandmother warned that Danny would become a powerful psychic, because she was chosen to be born on November 1st, or what was called The Day of the Dead. The Day of the Dead was when the veil being the living world and the spirit realm was lifted. On that day, Danny would be a beacon for those ghosts who craved attention and wanted to pester her with their selfish requests. As she got older, the ghosts’ would be more and more demanding for her attention.
Danny also had a stronger connection to the spirit realm than most psychics, even those born on November 1st. Just a few months ago, she underwent emergency surgery to correct a heart defect. While she was on the operating table, the doctors lost Danny for several minutes before they were able to revive her. This phenomenon deepened her connection to the spirit plane.
Unlike the kids at the school whose parents were either both white or both black, Danny’s father was black and her mother was white.  She first noticed that her parents were different during Open House when the school year first started. Though her parents didn’t seem to be aware of it, Danny saw the stares and the whispers from the other parents. She put it in the back of her mind, until the kids in her class started to tease her about her parents, calling her an Oreo.
After punching her classmate Jasmine’s lights out on the playground, Danny went home with the question of why they would call her a cookie. Her father, Marcel Labouleaux lovingly pulled her into his lap as he and her mother told her the fairy tale of how she came into being.
They explained how her mother, the beautiful, violet eyed princess, defied the wishes of her rich family and eloped with the handsome Creole man she’d fallen in love with. Much to the young couple’s delight, Julianna had a bun in the oven. When Danny asked how her mother got the bun in the oven, Marcel quickly changed the subject, recommending that she not get into any more fights.
“It’s getting late, Danny. Go upstairs and put on your costume.” Her mother advised. “Your guests will be arriving soon.”
“But mom!” Danny protested.
“Do what your mom said.” Marcel commanded in his booming voice, just walking in from the market with refreshments for their overnight guests.
Rolling her eyes, Danny made a point of stomping up the stairs as loudly as possible. She’d be glad when this night was over.
The costume she’d picked out was draped across her bed. It’d been a knockdown drag out brawl, but Julianna finally relented and let Danny pick out her own costume.
No frilly pink princess costume for Danielle Labouleaux. She knew that she wanted to be a superhero, but not Wonder Woman or Supergirl like the girls in her class. Danny wanted to be a superhero that looked like her, so she showed her mother of picture of Storm from the X-men cartoon.
Proud of her selection, Danny put the white wig over her dark hair and hopped into the black jumpsuit with the matching cape. Liking what she saw in the mirror, she started hopping on her bed, the black cape billowing around her.
“Danielle! Your guests are starting to arrive!” Julianna called from downstairs.
Exhaling sharply, Danny slowly descended the staircase, meeting the familiar and friendly faces of her friends, Emma and Felicia. Emma was a white girl with dark brown hair pulled into pigtails. Felicia was a black girl with freckles and braids. Emma’s costume was a bloody zombie princess, while Felicia was disguised as a glamour girl, with a tiara and feather boa.
They squealed and giggled like little girls do, frolicking through the house. The three best friends played to their heart’s content, until the five invited girls from their class started to file in with their blankets and sleeping bags. Fresh from an evening of trick or treating, they were still in costume.
Julianna, ever the gracious hostess whether the guest were young or old, had plenty of Halloween treats and activities planned for the girls. The party went well, with Danny’s classmates enthusiastic about the Halloween games. The girls’ nastiness toward Danny was temporarily forgotten as they stuffed their faces, danced to silly songs and competed for Halloween themed prizes.
After the festivities were over, the living room was set up as the girls’ campsite with an assortment of kid friendly Halloween movies playing on the television. The girls changed out of their costumes and into their pajamas.
Tammy, the alpha dog of Danny’s tormentors at school pointed at her as she buttoned the top of her pajamas.
“Look! The Oreo is about to turn into Frankenstein!” Tammy’s horde of flunkies giggled as Danny hastily finished buttoning her top.
The zipper scar that bisected her chest was what remained after Danny’s life saving surgery. Getting teased about it was almost a daily ritual at school. She’d been following her father and Grandmere’s advice about using her words, not her fists, but she was nearing a breaking point.
“Leave me alone!” Danny shouted back.
“Oh, Frankenstein gonna cry.” Tammy mocked, bringing her balled up fists to her eyes. “Wah, wah, wah. Crybaby! Are the Oreo’s tears made of cream filling?”
The other girls laughed at the amateur comedienne.
“I said knock it off!” The infamous Labouleaux temper was ready to break free.
 
“Oreo! Oreo! Oreo!” The girls in Tammy’s clique chanted.
“How about you take your heart out so we can see it, Frankenstein?” Tammy jabbed again with her sharp words and her pointy finger into Danny’s chest.
She pounced on Tammy like a jungle cat. The assault took the bully by surprise as Danny pummeled her from one end of the living room to the other. The pink Barbie play tent Marcel had erected so the girls could pretend they were camping collapsed under the weight of the grappling duo. The other girls screamed trying to get out of the way for fear of being the next victim of Danny’s fury.
Having heard the girls chanting ‘Oreo’, Marcel and Julianna were already on the way to the living room, knowing there was trouble. Expecting to find their daughter outnumbered and in need of a rescue, they were stunned to find her holding her own.
“Take it back.” Danny growled, slapping Tammy’s reddened cheeks.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry I called you an Oreo!” Tammy wailed.
Despite his urging his daughter not to fight, Marcel felt a little fatherly pride that she’d given the bully exactly what she was looking for. He pulled Danny off Tammy and into his arms.
“Enough, Danny, enough.”
“I tried to use my words, but I couldn’t help it.” She sobbed, tears falling on his neck. “They wouldn’t stop calling me names.”
“I know, sweetie, Daddy knows.”
Julianna turned her motherly rage on the five instigators. “Is this how your parents taught you to behave? You come to Danny’s house, eat her food, play her games, and you mistreat her? What kind of spoiled brats are you?”
Danny’s enemies flinched under Julianna’s glare, muttering apologies.
Danny was still clinging to Marcel’s neck. “I’m about to start calling their parents because I’m about one minute from whupping their behinds myself.”
One after another, Marcel called the parents, pulling no punches about their children’s racially charged behavior.  Upon their arrival, some of the parents tried to defend their children’s antics, blaming Danny, but Felicia and Emma were there to provide their eyewitness account of events. The parents then went from defensive to super apologetic.
“You know racism is learned in the home. It’s a shame that kids pick that up from their parents.” Marcel remarked dryly to one mortified mother, who hastily dragged her towheaded daughter out the door.
“So I guess the next thing is to wake up with a cross burning on my lawn.” He matter-of-factly stated to a humiliated couple as they whisked their daughter away.
“Give me that candy!” Marcel snatched a bag of treats from one girl on her way out the door with her shame faced mother.
After the antagonists were gone, Marcel left to take Emma and Felicia home. He’d already called their parents, who expressed concern for Danny. Marcel thanked them for their worries and let them know he’d be dropping the girls off shortly. Before leaving, they gave Danny a supportive hug.
“Are you mad at me, mama?” Danny asked as Julianna tucked her into bed.
“Mad at you? Why would I be mad at you?”
“I ruined the party.”
Julianna sighed, sitting beside her on the bed. “I’m not mad at you. Who I’m mad at are those atrocious little snots and their equally atrocious parents!”
Danny giggled at her mother’s version of harsh language.
“I can never be mad at you, my love. Now go to sleep, sweet dreams.” Julianna kissed her on the forehead.
“That’s horrible.” Cassie cried out as Danny continued her tale.
It was over twenty years after that fateful birthday and the two best friends were sitting across the kitchen table from each other. It felt like a lifetime had passed since then, Danny’s parents and her Grandmere lost to her over the years. The now adult Danny went to the coffeemaker for the carafe and refilled their mugs.
“Dad was pissed. He was so aggravated with the situation that he joined the PTA.”
“Why would he join the PTA? What would that have to do with anything?” Cassie flipped her blond hair over her shoulder.
“He joined the PTA so he could have an excuse to see those girls’ parents every few weeks.” She laughed. “My dad was very ornery and he couldn’t resist an opportunity to make those parents feel even worse.”
Cassie joined in the laughter. “What about Tammy and her goons?”
“I never had problems with bullies after that. They didn’t even cause me any problems in high school, so I guess they learned their lesson.”
“I know I learned mine.” Cassie and Danny weren’t always friends in fact they started off as bitter enemies. Having been the recipient of a Danielle Labouleaux beat down, she didn’t blame the bullies for not bothering her again.
“You know I’m still sorry about that.” Danny said remorsefully.
“I don’t know why. I was acting like a stuck up biotch and I deserved it.” Cassie acknowledged. “I still don’t understand why you don’t want to have a birthday party. So what if you had to beat up Tammy?”
“Like I said my birthday being on The Day of the Dead leaves me vulnerable. After that ruckus during the slumber party, I fell asleep and woke up to dozens of ghosts reaching out to me.”
“Yikes!”
“Exactly. Dealing with my gift is hard sometimes, even as an adult; imagine turning seven years old and having ghosts fighting for your attention. I woke up screaming and luckily Grandmere was there to calm me down. On my birthday, spirits are drawn to my raw emotions, so she taught me a few exercises to keep them at bay.”
“Danny, I’m so sorry your birthday is so traumatic.”
“It’s no big deal. Now you know why I don’t celebrate my birthday. It’s just too much drama and too much of a hassle. So don’t bother planning a birthday party for me. I’ll be just fine.”
“When was the last time you actually celebrated your birthday?” Cassie asked out of curiosity.
Danny shrugged. “It was the year before Grandmere died.”
Cassie was horrified. Danny’s grandmother had been gone for close to ten years.
She watched as her friend dumped the contents of her mug into the sink and left the kitchen. Visions of streamers, balloons, and birthday wishes took root in Cassie’s mind, despite her friend’s protests. She was going to give Danny a birthday extravaganza whether she liked it or not. She just needed a partner in crime and she knew just the man to help her.
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audience, Author, biracial, black women, Chicklit, diversity, Drama, Fiction, ghosts, Indie Author, Paranormal, Romance, starting anew, supernatural, Uncategorized, women, writing

Starting from Scratch

For nearly a year and a half we have been living in the skin of our characters, Danielle Labouleaux and Aiden Stone, stars of The Body Hunters series. We know these characters and their supporting cast so well, we know how they would react in certain situations and can even complete their sentences. Right now the third book in the series is with our editor Reggie and we’re in the midst of writing the fourth book. After we release the fourth book, tentatively titled The Lazarus Effect, we’re taking a break from Danny and Aiden and starting another series. That’s where the problem lies.

One thing we’ve taken note of from our readers is that even though they love the mystery and paranormal aspects of our series, they love the drama between our characters even more. Therefore, we decided to delve into something that was strictly drama in a real world setting. We can promise that there will be plenty of twists and character conflict. The dilemma lies in creating characters who are not just Xerox copies of the cast from our first series. We’re not going to cut any corners and we’re not taking the easy way out.

Our new protagonist is a biracial young woman and that’s where her similarity to Danny Labouleaux ends. We’re purposely making her an edgier character who would do things to accomplish her goals that Danny would shudder to even consider. It takes a little work to take your brain out of one character and transplant it into another, especially when you’ve been in their mindset for so long. We’ve had a long time to develop Danny and figure out what makes her tick, now it’s time to devote that same love and attention to another protagonist. While Danny and company feel like home, these new characters and scenarios have us in uncharted territory where we are free to start over from scratch.  It may be a daunting task, but it helps us grow as writers.

Now we’re not leaving The Body Hunters permanently, there’s still a lot more stories to tell, as well as a prequel, and the movie script that’s currently in the works. One day I’d love to see Danny and Aiden on the big screen. We’re just taking a little time outside our comfort zone to develop something else and challenge ourselves. If it’s not a challenge is it even worth doing?

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Author, biracial, Chicklit, diversity, Fiction, Indie Author, Multicultural, Paranormal, women

Constructing Danielle Labouleaux

When we started writing The Body Hunters we wanted to create a believable heroine and one you could easily imagine as your best friend.  Out the window went the whiny damsel in distress archetype, who can’t think without a male present or the weak female being dominated and controlled by the male ‘hero’.  Our girl is strong, confident, and smart.  She can ask for help, but she can definitely handle things on her own if need be.

When we conjured her up within the depths of our imaginations, we kept in mind those butt kicking females from movies and literature.  Danielle or Danny has a gift, the ability to communicate with the dead, which she uses to help people who’ve been wronged. She’s independent, feisty, and doesn’t dumb herself down to fit in with the crowd or current trends.  She’s also got somewhat of a rebellious streak and likes to do her own thing regardless of what anyone has to say on the matter.

Along with those good traits, Danny is deeply flawed and she doesn’t always make the best decisions. The girl has issues to say the least and she’s far from perfect.  She’s scarred both on the outside and on the inside, like a lot of real people. She’s biracial, white and Haitian-Creole, which couldn’t have been easy growing up in New Orleans and it’s something that we’ll touch on in the third book of our series.

As our series has progressed, we started to pull back the layers to reveal why she behaves the way she does.  I don’t see her dysfunctional qualities as imperfections, but something that makes this character all the more human and believable.  She’s a fun character to write, so hopefully you’ll enjoy her as much as we do.

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cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, life lessons, Uncategorized, workplace

Extremes of Fitting In

This week on The Talk, co-host Julia Chen confessed that she gave in to pressure from her boss and a potential agent to have surgery that would make her eyes less Chinese and more Caucasian. They felt that the eyes she was born with were not expressive enough for an anchor’s position. The plastic surgery seemed to work for her because she excelled in her career and her co-hosts applauded her for doing the right thing. So when is it okay to change who you are to please other people?

If my boss tells me I look too black, my nose is too big, or my hair is too nappy to make it in the workplace, where do I draw the line? Do I succumb to racist peer pressure for the sake of a job? We’re talking more than not dressing business professional, we’re talking about the features a person was born with. My dad’s eyes, my mom’s smile, the light spots on my legs I got from my grandmother, the moles that were passed down from my maternal great grandmother’s native American side, all these things make me who I am. It makes me unique. Is changing my outside appearance even worth it.

What about kids who are bullied? I’ve seen stories where parents who have a kid who’s being teased takes their child for cosmetic surgery to correct the ‘problem’. What lesson is that teaching? Yes, they’re right, there is something wrong with you, let’s fix it. What does that do to a person’s self esteem? Why not give kids the ammunition to get past bullying?

Is it okay now to let other people’s opinions affect what we see when we look in the mirror? Do I really want to disfigure myself because my looks offend some jerk who really needs a trip to Human Resources? What about the thirteen year old girl who gets a boob job so the kids can stop teasing her about her flat chest?

Is a job or fitting in even worth that much trouble? If I have to make all these changes to fit in, maybe it’s not a place where I really want to be.

Life is tough, we all know that. There will be bumps, bruises, and roadblocks along the way.  How nice is it to face all those challenges and still be intact when we reach the finish line?  True, Ms. Chen got her dream job, but is the victory still sweet when she looks into the mirror and sees a totally different person staring back at her? How does it feel to reach your goal, knowing you took the easy route?

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