Crossroads of Humanity

Jan 26, 2013

Reflections after Sandy Hook

I know in today's fast paced age, December 14, feels like a lifetime ago. Today, I'll pause to remember and reflect... Will you join me?

It was just over a month ago, when many people's lives were forever changed by one man. In addition to the people who lost a loved-one that day, other people's lives have changed as well. Schools have already implemented new safety measures, government officials continue to debate changes to gun control and medical health laws, news reporters try to dig up one more angle, and everyone else seems to have something to say about it.

Here's what I know.

I've taught for many years in many different settings.

I was teaching in a grade K-8 school when the Columbine massacre happened. That scared us; it scared the entire nation. New safety measures were put into place back then too. Since then, I've participated in drills. These drills were meant to help school employees know how to best react in similar situations. We never included the children. We were taught that it was most important for the staff to know what to do in a crisis. Because every crisis is different, the students' role is to follow directions.

With Sandy Hook, the world has changed again. Now, an intruder has entered an elementary school. Now, I teach in a school that educates children from age 2 through 7th grade. Now, we feel it is necessary to prepare the children as well as the adults.

When our school ran it's first drill, I thought I was prepared. After all, I'd done this before; I knew what to do. But something else has changed for me. Now I have a daughter who attends the same school where I teach. Her classroom is nearer the front entrance than mine. Her class consists of young children who may not be able to keep silent in a crisis, no matter how hard the teachers try. While I huddled, out of sight, with my students, I couldn't help but think, "I wouldn't be able to help my daughter, and I would be able to hear everything." I couldn't sleep for a week after that drill, and I had no words to explain when my daughter asked me why I was crying.

I've been trying to avoid any news about gun control because I can't believe people are bickering when they should be discussing solutions. Stricter gun control laws can be implemented without denying people's rights. We can implement laws with harsher penalties for those who misuse guns. We can make sure guns are more difficult for certain members of the population to get. Will that stop all future gun violence? Of course not! But that doesn't mean we should make it easy.

On the other hand, I have begun seeing news about mental health changes. It's about time! It infuriates me when people who need mental health services are put on a wait list that is two or more years long. I feel physically ill when friends of mine (health care providers) are laid off because the mental health services at the hospital are being cut back to save money. Is saving money really worth more incidents like Sandy Hook?

As a nation, we really need to begin looking out for each other. That means spending money up front to prevent catastrophes. It means caring for those in need, so they will not feel the need to lash out indiscriminately. We need to develop compassion. For those who are worried about cost, prevention usually costs less in the long run. Please, vote for compassion when the time comes, even if that means spending our resources a little differently or completing extra paperwork for those who choose to own a gun.

Jan 23, 2013

Thunderous Blog Tour

Welcome to JM Schroder, author of Thunderstorm and Daughter's of Eden.

Jennie Schroder lives with her husband and three amazing and energetic children in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She studies Court Reporting at Sumner College in Portland, Oregon. Her love of writing took off in her junior high school years in Mrs. Eckert’s Creative Writing Class. Now she is sharing the stories in her head with everyone because there are way too many to keep to herself. If not writing, seeking out readers, interacting and thanking her amazing supporters, or daydreaming about her next story or being a very exhausted mother to 2 young boys and a teenage daughter, Jennie loves most to be playing with her family – indoors and out and reading.

Twitter: @jmschroder

A Day in the Life of JM Schroder

My day usually starts at 5:30 a.m. Not during vacation time, but that's normal every other day. I wake and get ready for the day. I basically start out making myself my very own Raspberry Mocha Breve. Yes, that's a carryover to my book if you have read it. LOL. Then I head out for school.

School you say, how old are you anyway? Well, I am 40, just turned. Wow, that is amazing, I can't believe I am actually 40. I always thought that was so old. But it does not feel like it. As I drink my delicious coffee, I brush my hair, which actually I can't stand, I wish I could cut is short again. But I just happened to make an agreement with my husband to grow it out. If it gets to my waist, I can cut it off. I have 6 more inches. So I have forever to go. I apply very little make, and then it is time to head out. Not much in my preparation to get out of the house.

I jump into my 74' VW Bug, which I love! She is a beautiful yellow and purple, one of a kind lady. She rumbles to life, well most of the time. She is sometimes temperamental, and it takes a couple of tries, but she is my baby. (Secret...She will be in Drina's book.) I drive the 25 miles to school, again with the school. I am going to school to be court reporter.

Yes a court reporter, one of those interesting people who you see tapping away at this funny looking machine taking down everything that is said from anyone who talks in the court room. But they do so much more. You know the closed captioning you see on the TV during life broadcasts? Well, guess what? That is a court reporter's job too. Why, you ask, would you ever choose that? The honest answer is because of the money, but also because it is a challenge.

I am at school from 7:30 to 12:30 every day, Monday through Friday. I come home, and then depending on appointments that I may have, decide whether or not I'll write. What appointments, you ask? I am a mobile notary. A mobile notary is notary who meets or goes to people's homes. I am also certified to do loan signings, for home refinances and home purchases. That is where most of my work comes in. I do on average 3 to 4 a week. Not many now since I am a full-time student, but enough to support my family. Well not really, but it gets us by.

If I am not taking those kind of appointments, I take other types. I help people (mostly seniors) acquire their Durable Medical Equipment. I help them to improve their quality life. I don't sell the scooters, or bed, or oxygen. What I help them with is knee braces that help them walk without pain. They are therapeutic braces, not the painful ones. Arthritic gloves that decrease the pain of their arthritis, so that they can actually type, write, and grip things. I love working with people and helping them.

When I am done with my appointments, I get home again, and I start letting my mind go and that is when I write. I write in between, typing things on my boys' computers for them, or fixing them food, no not their meals just snacks. I have this lovely man who fixes dinners. My husband. He is awesome in my busy, busy life. He encourages all my daily activities, and he cooks. I hate cooking. Really I do. I have no love for it. I am not creative that way.

Now my husband, he is the best cook alive, at least I think he is. He has changed my mind about so many different foods that I thought I hated, and it really shows on my waistline. And yes, I do blame him for my waistline. Haha!

While I work, my kids come to me a least a million times a night (I exaggerate) but a lot. I do get things down though. We eat dinner, and then I finish up all my appointment paperwork and get it ready to go out the next day. I put the kiddo's down for bed at 9:30. That does not mean they go to bed, but it is the beginning of the hour or so long battle until they fall asleep. I then take my time around 10:30, and write for a steady hour or two.

After writing, I take a shower and then pull my husband to bed at about midnight. We read for an hour or so, and that is my day. Weekends are much the same, except I do not go to school. And somewhere in there, I breathe.

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Jan 22, 2013


Today, I'd like to welcome Mike Jenkins to Crossroads of Humanity.

The epidemic changes through person to person, time to time and situation to situation. This epidemic isn’t some dreaded virus, but it is just as serious. This epidemic is the toxin known as bullying. I am writing this as a tale of how I am, was and starting to overcome this frightening condition and spread the cure.

My first encounter with this disease came from my tender youth. I was only in kindergarten. Another young child asked me if I believed in God. I told her that I didn’t know. She then asked if I went to church. I told her that my family didn’t go to church. I was then blasted with this young girl’s fury, and the disease spread to me with the statement that I was going to Hell. I, even how wise I was at that age didn’t know what this meant, I asked my mom, and she was appalled at such a statement that a young girl would make. The disease was halted for awhile from the tender care of my mother. Several months down the road, the disease continued to spread through my classroom. Its vicious cycle made children cry and the teacher worry, but it finally came to me once more. The new encounter came as an attack on my age. One may think that the plague of ageism only happens when you are older, but I can assure you at the tender age of six, stricken with sadness, thinking that this wouldn’t happen to me but another blow to my already fragile immune system was the fact I was taller than some of the kids in the class. From that point on, I tried to stay away from most of the children. Again, I took the only treatment I knew of, talking to the teacher and taking refuge in the loving care of my mom’s arms.

Years later the disease has all but faded in my system. In fact, I had thought that I was cured from this disease, but I thought wrong. I was in the third grade, I became somewhat popular, but there was one kid who had the illness. This time it didn’t affect me so rapidly, but it did affect someone I cared about. I decided to give the potential infected victim a shot of 50cc of protection and another 50cc of compassion. That halted the disease spreading throughout that body. Around this time, a new threat appeared. It was a new strain that I had never experienced which made the attack on my system more severe. This individual was younger than me. This individual followed me around the school yard making sure my recovery was never going to happen. To make the recovery even more difficult, he tied my hand to a rope, making it hard for me to escape and tell a teacher. That summer, I ran into him again, and he seemed to be cured of his bullying, but as time went on it appeared again. This time I decided to act; I attacked gently with my lunch box to let him know that I don’t want him near me. After this happened, he ran and told our counselor, and I got into trouble with the camp. But with my dad, I was applauded, and he was proud of me. I was proud but hurt because I had stooped to the bully’s level.

Several years later, throughout my middle school years, I was teased but not as severely as my younger days. Though there was an instance before my thirteenth birthday when some of the children threw rocks at me for no reason. I am sad to admit that it affected me severely enough that I had wanted to end my life. I overcame this instance with the help from an uncle, but nonetheless, it still haunts me to this day on how far I would have gotten if it weren’t for him.  As time went by, the bullying decreased, but when I entered high school, it was still there. I was mainly teased because I acted differently and dressed differently, and I continued to act up because it made the plague jealous because I was getting friends, and they weren’t.

This disease still affects me to this day, but I try to overcome it and remember the medical treatment I received in love and compassion. The best way to make sure this dreadful disease is ended is by awareness and action done by the teachers or whoever is in charge.

Jan 16, 2013

Daily Inspiration

Where do you find your inspiration? That was the question posed by Kate Gould, editor of The "I" Word: Writers on Their Inspiration, where nearly 100 writers came together to share their sources of inspiration in 100 words or less.

What did I write, in 100 words or less? A simple question and a simple response every morning, lead to my daily dose of inspiration.

And now I'd like to pose the same question to you. Whether you are a writer, a painter or a poet. Perhaps you prefer to sketch in the margins of your notebooks, or you excel at needlepoint. Whatever your passion, be it singing, dancing or stand up comedy, where do you find your inspiration?

I find it whispered on the wind, soughing in the trees, cresting with the full moon.
I find it in my daughter's jokes and my students' seemingly random comments.
Words of inspiration are all around us.
All you have to do is be aware.
Listen with your ears and also with your heart.
Open up your mind to the endless possibilities that life provides.

Jan 8, 2013


I am honored to welcome Sue Julsen to my blog today. Ms. Julsen is the author of the best selling, Bitter Memories trilogy.

Starting at age three, my life was filled with sorrow, neglect and abuse—a life no child should ever experience. Hurt time and again by people who claimed to love me, I grew up in the shadow of fear, uncertainty and hate. I lived a life on the run, starving, abused and terrified.

My first book that started the trilogy, Bitter Memories: A Memoir of Heartache & Survival, took 40-plus years to complete. Each time I sat down to write, the memories became overwhelming and I couldn’t continue. For years, I tried to write my story as “fiction” because I wasn’t ready for the world to know those bad things happened to me. But, that didn’t work. I wasn’t telling the truth, and truth meant so much to me. I’d lived a life of nothing but hurt and lies, so how could I tell my story if it was all a lie? I also had to keep the strong language I heard day in and day out, and I had to keep the explicit content as I remembered it actually happened, because there is no way to "sugarcoat" child abuse.

Deep down I always knew I needed to tell what happened. I needed to admit I was a survivor of child abuse. I needed to find a path toward healing my shame. Yes, shame. I blamed myself for what happened. I felt ashamed and dirty. I felt I was a “bad” kid and that’s why Daddy, his brother and so many more did those things to me.

The things he did to me…things he allowed others to do to me, were unforgivable.

The day I decided to change my name in the story so I could write what really happened, everything began to come together. I'd given everyone else a different name to protect their identity, so why shouldn’t I have a different name too? By changing my name to Sarah I was able to pull back and look at what I was writing through Sarah’s eyes.

Although unnerving, Bitter Memories is a gripping account of the extremes a child can undergo—and survive. Written from the heart, taking on a life of its own, I relived those memories of heartache, sadness, extreme hunger, and intense fear in hopes of helping other adult survivors find a path toward healing their “hidden” scars. My story deals with explosive topics that former child victims of mental, physical, and sexual violence will understand.

NOTE: Bitter Memories is not a cozy, feel-good book. It is a true story of extreme and horrific child abuse and the will to survive.

1) Bitter Memories: A Memoir of Heartache & Survival (non-fiction) is written like a novel for easy reading as I begin the true story of my life after being kidnapped by my father.

2) Trophy Murders (creative non-fiction/crime fiction) mixes fiction with truth for an action-packed crime story as I take you further on the journey of true events after going to live with Uncle Henry (the cop) and his heavy-handed wife, Olivia. A life I wouldn’t wish on any kid.

3) Cutter's Revenge (psychological thriller/crime fiction) mixes about five percent truth with a lot of suspenseful fiction. However, anyone who has read the other two books will know truth from fiction instantly. Using many of the same characters, I introduce several new characters — many you’ll love, some you’ll love to hate:

My Newest Book:

From The Heart (non-fiction) is a collection of fifteen inspirational poems from events in my life. It also includes short stories that inspired the writing of each poem. Starting with a little background, then moving into my first poem written at age nine after the death of my mother, I expose feelings I've never shared with anyone before now.

To learn more about the bitter memories trilogy, and my book of poetry, please visit my website: Sue Julsen

Jan 2, 2013

A dream achiever's mind

Today, I'd like to welcome KaNeshia Michelle to Crossroads of Humanity.

A dream achiever's mind

I ask the question - the same question with no deviation or play on words - will my ambition do more harm than good?

I have always been a person who says 'I want something' and never allowed much to get in the way of that. To achieve is a wonderful feeling, the achieving part is a bit of an uphill battle. To have a dream, to want that dream and to obtain that dream is harder than what we really think it is. It's like weight loss. To the public, we find ourselves gawking at the before and after and completely miss the 'in between' parts of the journey. I am a writer - I have always been a writer. Sometimes I pour over my old written stories - my attempts at story telling for the first time and my passion for poetry. I think the old work is horrible, but they're beautiful to me because I have grown so much since those starting years. Twelve years later, and I'm still at that starting point. I'm just better suited for the leap of faith.

This is when time starts to kick your butt a little. The older you get, the more life kinda gets in the way and starts to get complicated. We all seem to want to reflect back on the growing up years and think about how resilient we were. As children, we tend to take our dreams much too lightly - we know we can do it, and there isn't much that can be said to make us believe different. Anyone who goes out for a dream, whether it's a successful business, sports career or finding that perfect mate, there a strong sense of doubt that laces that dream like a silver lining to a cloud.

Can this happen?
Is this in the cards?
When is the stopping point?

With age, the line of doubt only grows.

I know nothing of the future. I do not know if my dreams will come true in the way I want them to, but that's okay. I have enough love and respect for my dream to never stop trying. Dreams do come with a mother-in-law called: Pain. You want it, you have to be willing to hurt for it. Writers are not skaters. We don't suffer broken bones when we've messed up or had our setback. Our broken bones come in a way of no sales, no reviews and not many fans coming your way - or simply someone saying that they like your work and would stop what they are doing to read you. This part is the pain of the operation of being a beginning author. It's all in fun, love and passion. Every bit of the journey is apart of that deeper part of you that has to be protected. If you love what you do, you work for it. You will respect your dream if you work for it. You will make sure your dream will never be taken away if you truly know what it felt like to grind - or plenty - a little for it.

This is my starting point. It's hard but it's worth it. If my novels never make it to a best selling list, I think I can be okay with that, and that's my safety net: I know that I tried.

My name is KaNeshia Michelle. I am a Indie Author.
My starting point is my collection called: So Thrilled.
So Thrilled has three titles: Ruck's Nightmare, The Chase and The Playmate.
These are my stories and I'm very proud of them.
Each piece of work tells me one thing - I'm trying.

KaNeshia is the author of:

Visit KaNeshia's blog: The Mind of a Story Teller