2012 Birthday Reflections…

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... on December 5, 2012 by henryconley

It’s that time again.  Three short years ago I started a blog in honor of my 45th birthday.  I made a promise to make an entry for every day of my 45th year on this planet and I succeeded in doing just that.  My entries ranged from stories of adventures I’ve been on in my life to simple pleasures I remember from my youth.  Then there were the painful entries related to the most challenging crisis my family has faced.  Those entries are vague at best as one of the rules for my blog was that I would tell my stories and not others (unless they agreed to my sharing their story as well).  To this day, I still haven’t shared the details in this public forum and I don’t think I ever will.

With all that said, the entries from that year tell a story beyond what is written on the screen before you.  I can recall what was occurring as I read each veiled reference and see the change in mood to a very desperate man seeking peace.  It may not be obvious to the casual reader, but it’s also not very hidden.

I turn 48 tomorrow… Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been three years since I started this blog, yet I also can’t believe it’s only been three years.  Time and our perception of it can be quite strange.  When I concluded the one-year portion of this blog two years ago, I was caught up in a whirlwind of crisis management, lawyers, doctors, police and a ton of prayer.  As I look back at that year through this blog, I see a man being slowly drained of his newly reborn dreams (that was an early theme in my writings) and just fighting to stay above water.  It’s difficult for me to read, but I’m so glad I wrote it.  There is so many happy entries, a tribute to a wonderful life I’ve been blessed with.

Where am I today three years later?  Well, let me start off by saying I’m a very blessed man.  I have a wonderful wife and two incredible adult children that I couldn’t be more proud of.  I am also blessed with a wonderful set of parents and three siblings that I love dearly.  Are there challenges?  Hell yeah, but that’s what happens with families.  You just need to plow through the challenges and remember you are family above all else.

Since many of my entries dealt with my wife and children, let me give you an update on them before I return to where I’m at…

Let me start off by saying none of us are the same people we were three years ago or even two years ago.  Our struggles through tough times or simply changing times have allowed us to grow.  We may have some rough edges we are still working on but I think we are all in a better place.

My daughter Brittany is a generally happy woman who is in a healthy relationship with a very nice man who gets our full approval.  She’s had many more health challenges this year, but I think things are headed in the right direction.  She’s graduated culinary school and makes the best gluten-free desserts I’ve ever tasted.  I cherish the time I’ve had to get to know her as an adult since she moved back home.  It’s been a blessing in disguise.

My son Ian is continuing to move his way through the ranks at Disney.  He’s currently part of the leadership team at the Magic Kingdom and has a view of Main Street USA from his office.  It’s hard having him live so far away, but he’s where he belongs.  He recently proposed to his girlfriend of two years and we are thrilled to have Jennifer joining our family.  I miss him every day, but as I said he is where he belongs.

My lovely wife Deb is working in the same building as me as an Anti Money Laundering Analyst and she is very happy with this change (as am I).  We get to carpool and I love it.  We still have a great time going on our crazy adventures and our new Jeep is the perfect vehicle for Pop Culture Adventure seeking.  Deb is still not just my wife, but best friend and partner in crime.  We will celebrate 25 years of marriage this coming April and I am so blessed to be able to say that.  In this day and age, divorce almost seems to be the norm, one that I’m happy to say is not in the cards for this couple.

How am I doing?  Despite losing well over three months of this year to health issues (between arm surgery in July and this current crisis), I am still feeling very blessed.  I’m still not sure what caused my health to crash in the first week of October, but I am finally starting to feel better.  I have more tests ahead of me, but doubt they will find a definitive answer as to what went wrong.  I can’t wait to get back to 100% health again.  Not just because it sucks to be sick (which it does), but because something special started waken in me this year that died a few years ago.  I’m starting to dream again!  Not the nocturnal type, but the kind we have when we are awake.  Three years ago I was full of dreams and wanted to act on them.  It was reflected in my early writings and was supposed to play a large role in my 45th year.  When things went sideways, upside-down and every which way, I stopped dreaming and only concentrated on taking care of my family.  Instead of dreaming of a brighter future, my thoughts were usually grounded in how to make it through the next 24 hours.  Now the dreams have returned and as soon as my health straightens out I’m planning a chasing them with a renewed vengeance.

As I stare down the barrel of my 48th year, I’m optimistic and ready to hit new milestones on my list of dreams.  We are still not completely back to where we were three years ago, but I think we are coming out better for it.  As a very wise and beloved friend always says “Everything happens for a reason”.  She’s been through incredible hardships and I have found great inspiration in her attitude towards life.  In fact, Deb and I will spend our New Year’s Eve celebrating her marriage to a wonderful man.  She’s had a banner year and we will be honored to be there to share in a fitting ending to 2012.

I’m coming into my 48th year a changed man due to some tough times.  To that I say; “Good”.  Not that I welcome the tough times especially because the primary crisis caused my beautiful daughter immense pain (something a parent cannot stand to see), but “Good” because of how we are changing.  If you go through trials and do not come out changed in some positive way, you’ve lost an opportunity to grow.  Most of my changes are deep inside.  I feel more compassionate, spiritual and understanding than I was going into this.  I’m still learning though…  I’m working on forgiveness.  That’s a hard one, but I’m making progress.  I must add the caveat that forgiveness in no way means forgetting or excusing the behaviors that inflicted such pain on my family.  No, not at all.  To forgive is to let go of the unnecessary hatred that has gummed-up my heart and soul for the past few years.  It’s time to move on, dream again and let that hatred fade away.  I will never be able to speak to certain people again or view them the same way, but I will not harbor hatred in my heart and soul any longer.  Not for their sake, but mine.

So that’s it for this year’s birthday entry.  I’m going into this next year ready to put my dreams back on track and live life to the fullest.  Maybe I’ll share some stories of a few cool adventures I went on this past year with my partner in crime.  I haven’t written about an adventure in a long time… Hmm… Maybe I’ll share our adventure travelling to a little town in New Hampshire to see what their annual ‘UFO Festival’ was all about.  Or maybe the time we received a call requesting us to run a special mission for a well-know rock musician to pick up an extremely rare piece of equipment in the mountains of New York.  We’ll see…

I am blessed…  I am loved… I have dreams…  Life is good!!!


September 11th and the younger generations…

Posted in Ramblings..., The 2000's, The present... with tags , on September 11, 2012 by henryconley

September 11, 2012… Another anniversary of the day our country (and the world for that matter) changed forever. Each year I try to take time to revisit that day. To recall the emotions of it… How we all experienced the horror of an act of war on our mainland for the first time in well over a century. It was the kind that rarely happens anywhere in the world. The loss of civilian lives that day where (and still are) unimaginable. Even in the most war-torn parts of the world, that kind of killing of innocents is extremely rare. Thank God for that.

This year a strange new dimension came into play for me. It was the realization (thanks to my brother who works in the education field) that a lot of high school students today have little memory of September 11, 2001 and many of them aren’t fully aware of all the horrors of that day. Although it seems like it was only yesterday to me, we are now faced with a new generation coming of age who’s view of 9/11 comes from a historical perspective and not from first-hand memories. It had just not occurred to me. That Tuesday still burns so fresh in my consciousness that it had never dawned on me that we now have young adults who don’t recall that day.

With this new realization came new concerns. With our “plugged in” society (which I am not knocking, I am a card-carrying member of it in fact) we seemed to have lost the art of face-to-face storytelling. This had already bothered me for the simple reason that I love nothing more than telling a story to a captive audience. However, this is different. Families use to spend more time talking about their personal history and sharing the lessons learned from them. Even if it was just around the dinner table, stories were exchanged. On occasion, the topic of the story was serious and carried emotions that made the recalling of a past event all that more real. For example, hearing my parents and grandparents talk about how they felt when JFK was assassinated made helped me understand the emotions our nation felt that November day.

The little things that are exchanged in the face-to-face telling of a story leave an impression. The tone of the storyteller’s voice, the look in their eyes and the possible tears all help bring the story to life in a very real way.

Listening to my mother-in-law recount her nights in the bomb shelters under her city in England while Germany bombed her homeland every night, impacted me in a very real way. She spoke of how every morning leaving the shelter to see what was left standing of her city while walking to school. Watching her relive those memories as she retold the stories made it real to me. I’d heard about the shelters and people having to do what she had done in documentaries, even saw many interviews with survivors before, but it was not the same. The face-to-face storytelling, the reading of her expression and the haunted look in her eyes as she relayed the events could have never been truly captured on film. Only in person could you feel it the way I did.

So now it’s our turn. We need to make sure we share the pain, horror, sadness, anger and confusion we felt that day with the upcoming generations. We need to sit with them and relive every awful moment as best we can recall them. If we cry, we cry. If it upsets them, it upsets them. I’m not suggesting we terrorize young children with these stories. No, I’m referring to those old enough to handle the reality of 9/11. It is way too soon to let this become a sanitized chapter in history for them. We still have troops putting their lives on the line as a direct result of that day. We owe it them as much as the victims of 9/11 to share the story the right way. Watch one of the dozens of excellent documentaries with your child and then share your personal recollections of that day. Make it real for them.

Today the generation I speak of will make very honorable gestures and post things on Facebook like ‘Never Forget 9/11’ and I’m glad to see this. However, now I worry that they may not know the full story of that day or feel the suffering we felt as a nation. It’s way too soon for that to happen…

My Apologies…

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... on January 27, 2012 by henryconley

For the first time in my 2+ years of writing this blog, I’ve deleted two of my entries.  I have backed down and shied away from controversy.  I had written two entries regarding the Cranston School Prayer banner incident but started to get some very mean-spirited messages (my comments are monitored so they never appeared here).

If you know me (in person or from this blog) you know I’m not about hate or promoting negative themes.  I felt I had no choice but to censor myself.  I’m sure the people messaging me will say I wimped out and they can say what they want, but I’m not going play that game…  I still believe the banner should stay, but will not take part in arguments that have a young girl stuck in the middle.

Peace to all and sorry for censoring this blog.

Creating Motivation to Reach Your Goals (Guest Writer/Blogger Melanie Bowen)

Posted in The present... with tags , , , on January 8, 2012 by henryconley


I was contacted by a fellow writer/blogger about posting a ‘guest blog’ to reach a new audience.   Melanie Bowen is an awareness advocate for natural health and holistic therapies. You will often find her highlighting the great benefits of different nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those with illness in her efforts to increase attentiveness and responsiveness on like topics. Most recently, Melanie has been asked to be a contributor on the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance blog.


Creating Motivation to Reach Your Goals – Melanie Bowen

Ask any person on the street if there are any changes they would like to see in their life, and you will probably hear dozens of different answers. Losing weight, saving more money, working harder and implementing exercise are all some of the more common goals people have. Having goals is incredibly important, as it helps people to have something to look forward to, and something to work towards when they wake up every morning. For a patient with a prognosis of an illness like breast cancer or mesothelioma, having goals is important in order to have a reason to live, and something to strive for. Here are some of the ways that anyone can make their goals a reality.

Write them Down: Simply saying your goals out loud or thinking them is not enough motivation to follow through in most cases. Instead, write down your goals so that it is clear to see exactly what you want to achieve. Many people keep a journal handy to write down these goals along with a plan of action for the future. It is also helpful to write down what you are doing to meet your goals at the end of each day. Someone who is trying to reduce the weight gain after cancer treatments, for example, might want to include a daily walk in their schedule to lose weight.

Share Your Goals: In order to be held accountable, share your desires and plans with others. You might send an email to old friends letting them know, or tell your family how they can help you to reach your ambitions. Many patients enjoy writing a blog online during the diagnosis and treatment. It can serve as a journal, or a way to tell your friends and family how things are going. You can also use it as a way to track your progress towards a goal.

Ambitions and Grand Dreams: Many goals are related to health and physical fitness, as that is so important to a patient or someone recently in recovery. However, it is important to also have some goals in other areas of your life. You might want to work on cultivating relationships with friends and family, or give back in some way through donations or volunteer work. What about that trip you always dreamed of or that crafting project you never got around to doing but would be great at? It’s never to late to motivate yourself and its never to early to start!

Setting goals in any number of areas can help you to have greater meaning in your life, both during treatment and even when completely healthy and in remission. These tips can help you to meet your goals and feel fulfilled in everyday life.

“Two years later… (An update)” OR “On with the Show Part II”

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... with tags , , , on November 27, 2011 by henryconley

Two years ago this week I set out on a project to celebrate my 45th year on this planet.  I wanted to post a story from my life or write about something I felt strongly about every day for a year.  I accomplished that goal, but there was an aspect to the exercise that fell off to the side.  I was quite honest in my posts about my desire for the limelight and planned on starting to work on perhaps making a few of my creative dreams a reality.  I went into my 45 year filled with excitement and felt nothing could hold me back.  I was going to chase my ‘other’ dreams again and cross a few things off my ‘bucket list’.  Some people have attainable goals on their list and two years ago I thought all of mine were as well.  Now I doubt I will ever finish my list…

When I was actively writing I alluded to the trials that my family was facing as much as I could, and anyone who followed my posts knew not all was well.  In the year since I stopped my daily entries, many positive changes have come for my family but the emotional scars are still barely healed.  I guess it hasn’t been long enough for most of the pain to fade, but I do believe time does heal most wounds.

In my very first post two years ago, I was painfully honest and laid my life out for all to see, criticize or approve.  I sought neither approval nor criticism, that was not the purpose.  I am comfortable with who I am and the life I live.  I know there are always areas I need to improve, but as I am my own hardest critic I have the criticism part well covered.

So many things have changed since that first post.  Unfortunately, most have torn my heart to pieces.   I wrote of my family and their plans.   Things changed, leaving scars that in reality are barely scabs at this point.  I still can’t go into details, but all I can say is YES it was that bad.  Supporting my daughter with the fallout and her ongoing health issues has been very difficult, but rewarding.  It has been an honor to be there for her and just be her dad the best I can.  I’ve watched her grow into a stronger young woman and could not be prouder of all she’s accomplished (which is quite a bit) in the past two years.

As far as my son, well he never came back from that internship he was leaving for, instead choosing to pursue his own dreams in Florida.  We are very proud of the life he’s made for himself and fully support his decision, but he’s not here.  He’s 1,200 miles away and I see him about three to four times a year.  I just wasn’t ready for that.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I would not have this any other way.  He is doing what we raised him to do and we are proud of him for following his heart.  He’s where he belongs.  Yes, I am proud of my children and that is a wonderful feeling.  They are responsible adults and I love them both dearly.

This brings me to my lovely wife.  I could not be happier with the way we’ve grown even closer the past two years.  Through all the trials and tribulations we’ve been there for each other.  Sure we get short with each other on occasion, but our love is stronger than ever.  One thing I never need to worry about or doubt is our love for each other.  Ultimately, that makes me a very rich and blessed man.

Two years ago I wrote about my ‘reawakened’ desire for the limelight and how the world of professional wrestling helped bring that back to the surface.  That seems a lifetime ago now and although I am still in touch with a handful of dear friends we made during that adventure, it’s pretty much a closed chapter.

I also spoke of the friends I had made in the music business and how  I’d been lucky enough to meet many of the musicians I idolized when I was still trying to make it as a rock drummer.  I was working for a handful of them, supporting their web presence and it felt great to be part of the business in some small way.  Unfortunately, that’s pretty much changed as well.  It’s a fast-moving business and for various reasons, my services are no longer required.  Management changes and other changes shake things up and well, we’ll just say in the blink of an eye your work can be but a memory.  Thankfully, I remain in touch with a few people from the music world and consider them true friends.

So in another week I enter my 47th year on this planet… What now?  Good question, one that I have endured two sleepless nights over this past weekend.  I guess it leaves me right where I was and where I belong; continuing to support and love my family as we continue down this path we’re on.  That is still my top priority and one I cherish.  I am very optimistic about the future of my children and that’s a great feeling.  Yes, things are different and some of that came with great pain, but they are going to be successful and flourish.  I know this in my heart and couldn’t ask for more.  Well, I could and do ask the good Lord to bring the physical and emotional pain to an end for my daughter, but I know that’s coming and I hope she does too.

What about those other dreams?  I called myself a ‘limelight vampire’ in that first post two years ago.  I said how I was living off the limelight some of my friends basked in.  I made no apologies then, nor do I now.  I still don’t know why I crave it or why a simple, normal life is not enough, but it isn’t.  So the ‘bucket list’ of the seemingly unattainable is being put back into action.  Will I ever write the rock musical that’s haunted me for over a decade?  Will I see it performed?  Will I ever record or perform with any of the well-known musicians I’ve gotten to know?  Will my book series and one-man show about my ‘Pop Culture Adventures’ ever become a reality?  Some yes, but most are unlikely.  However, with that said I have a new resolve to at least try for something more.  I want to leave a creative legacy behind in addition to the most important legacy that truly is my children and the hope they carry.  Yes, their legacy is enough to make me proud and would allow me to die a peaceful man (hopefully someday in the very distant future), but I want more.  Again, no apologies will be given for that.

In closing, two years ago I made a reference to a brief intermission and then on with the second half, well I guess there have been many rewrites in this script we call life and the second half has been off to a rough start.  That’s okay, life’s still an adventure and I’m ready to once again try to live it to the fullest.  I have no clue where it will take me, but I’m sure it will be interesting… Wish me luck.

Once again, on with the show…

WBC Hate-Speech Must Be Stopped!!!

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... with tags , , on November 6, 2011 by henryconley

I was casually enjoying a quick run through me Facebook feed when I made the mistake of watching a video posted by a friend of mine.  I should have know better than to click on it.  It was about the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) and with my already strong distaste for everything they stand for, I should have kept on scrolling.  But I didn’t… I went and watched it and then started watching video after video that YouTube was kind enough to recommend.  I have not felt my blood pressure rise so much in a long time…

The first video was nothing particularly new, more insane ramblings from these hate mongers.  In fact, their twisted view is pretty consistent throughout.  What really bothered me was another thing that was consistent, due to a very twisted view of what is free speech and what is pure hate-speech, we the taxpayers pay for police to protect them every time.  These individuals spewing hate as only pure evil could inspire, cost us every time they feel like showing up.  Whether it’s one or two of them or the whole misguided flock, the police must show up and keep them safe.  That’s just plain wrong.  They show up to protest a heroes funeral and we pay to protect them.  This is NOT a good example of free speech and should not be protected. 

This year our ‘wise’ Supreme Court ruled in their favor and their right to picket funerals.  What a disgusting and misguided ruling.  They will rule in favor of people having to remove a manger scene from public property or take a prayer down off the wall of a public school, yet hate-speech is not only allowed on public property, but we’re forced to pay for it.

Isn’t there a lawyer out there that can figure out a way to present this in a way that will allow the courts to stop this?  I beg any lawyer with a heart to try to think of a way to do that and help stop this.  These people praised the gunman that shot Congresswoman Giffords and the murdering of the innocent people in Arizona.  They claim God sent the shooter…  Please, give me a break.  Shouldn’t that be enough for them to be investigated a bit closer?  They encourage mass-murder and wholesale slaughter of the innocent and we protect them?  Argh…

I call on everyone that reads this to take action if the WBC ever comes to your town.  PEACEFUL, NON-VIOLENT action… But creative action that stops these minions of evil.  One town banded together, blocked there cars, police pulled them in for questioning, tow truck companies were too busy until after the funeral the were there to protest was over to come and tow the abandoned vehicles that blocked the WBC cars…  Creative, effective, non-violent ways to stop them.  Everyone across this nation should make a point of doing the same.  Let them sit in their church of hatred and talk about this till they are blue in the face, that’s free speech, but put them on the streets and make the taxpayers protect them while they preach violence and celebrate the deaths of heroes and innocence?  I think not…

It’s a sad state of affairs when we allow this to go on.  Please if they come to your town, do whatever you can legally do to stop them.  This cannot be tolerated any longer.  Sorry for rambling on, but they’ve bugged me for a long time and after watching one too many WBC video today, I reached my boiling point.

Peace, and God Bless America, because despite what the WBC says, he does love America…

The Double-Edged Sword of Belonging…

Posted in The present... with tags , , , on November 4, 2011 by henryconley

“We’re a family…”, “We have each other’s backs…” and other quotes along these lines… You hear them so often among people with strong common bonds.  Sounds nice, and it can be but it’s also indicative of the double-edged sword of “belonging”.  When emotions related to a sense of belonging to a group run strong, there can be a dangerous side to the usually healthy act of feeling a strong bond to a group of peers.  This can be especially true for teenagers.  Junior high through those early college years is a time in each person’s life where they start to “find” themselves and seek out stronger bonds with their peers.  Some will turn to sports teams, some school clubs, others groups of peers with common taste in music, a few will turn to gangs and other will find it in a religious group.  Everyone of these options can fill a void in a teen’s life and make them feel better about themselves.  However, everyone of these can also lead to bullying and the potential for violence.  Yes, every single one of these…

I’m writing this today because of events in our school system that just occurred.  It involved a member of the ‘Juggalos’ (a name die-hard fans of the Insane Clown Posse use to identify themselves) and another student.  Now some will be quick to judge the ‘Juggalo’, particularly after the recent news that the FBI has listed them as an organized gang.  But I’m going to say replace ‘Juggalo’ with member of the football team and tell you this probably happens a lot more often, but it doesn’t end up in the news. 

Bullying is nothing new and is not just related to teens on the fringe.  Nowadays we have the added dimension of Facebook and other electronic means of bullying, which only complicates things further.  Here’s the thing, bullying and teen violence can be severely intensified by a sense of belonging.  Let’s stop a second and let me make it clear, I am not saying belonging to a group of peers is a bad thing at all.  With that said, let me tell you that when you stand side-by-side physically, emotionally or in spirit with a group of peers you feel empowered.  Not a bad thing in of itself, but when this sense of empowerment and knowing you have a group behind you covering your back, you do things you may not have done by yourself.  Again, sometimes a good thing but when it’s a case of bullying someone that does not “belong” to your group, it’s a severely misguided and dangerous thing.  I remember that feeling as I’ve been on both sides of the equation.  Scary thing is, I had a group of friends ready to fight by my side and take down anyone that threatened me and my affiliation with them was through a common set of religious beliefs.  This was not related to the religious affiliation or anything we were taught, it was simply because we had formed a strong bond and felt like family.  Family watches out for family, right?

Back to the football player example… think about how often you saw or heard about a ‘jock’ bullying a non-athletic peer.  It happens a lot.  Is this because organized school sports are bad?  No! It’s for the same reason I felt the way I did.  That double-edged sword of belonging…

So what’s the solution?  Parents need to step up and be involved more and see that their children have the proper balance.  You may be thinking; “What teen is going to listen to their parents when it comes to their friends or peer group?”, but I can tell you that because my parents were involved and didn’t stop being parent once I became a teenager, their unified voice was always in the back of my head.  Sure, it’s not always going to stop teenagers from being teenagers.  Nothing can and obviously a parent can’t always be there with their children, but it does make a difference.

Another thing that can be done has to do with the time they spend in school.  After all, they spend a lot of time there, probably more than any other place.  My sister posted a very well-written entry on Facebook about dress codes at school.  I think this would help.  I do not suggest stopping teenagers from expressing themselves by the way they dress (of course there is a line there that shouldn’t be crossed), but during school, all of the students should feel equally as empowered and safe from harassment.  If you have the students follow a conservative dress code, you ‘smooth out the edges’ at school.  It’s pretty hard to identify who is a ‘goth’ and who is a football player when you take away their identifying clothing.  No varsity jackets during school hours makes just as much sense as saying you can’t dress like a ‘Juggalo’.  Why, because either one can lead to a sense of empowerment over others or a “I’m better than you” attitude.  There’s no room for this in the classroom.  It just distracts from the reason they are there.

Of course school dress codes and good parenting will not fix all the issues and there will still be bullies, but we adults should help our youth through those dangerous teenage years.  Control what we still can as parents and school administrators.  Without structure and guidance, the teenage years are even scarier. 

I haven’t read all the details about the situation in my school system before writing this on purpose.  Why?  Because the chances that the ‘Juggalo’ was the aggressor or the victim are definitely 50/50.  The odds that someone felt empowered to pick on a ‘Juggalo’ because they dressed differently is just as great as the odds that a ‘Juggalo’ felt empowered to pick on a ‘non-Juggalo’ because their fellow ‘Juggalos’ had their back.  For purposes of this entry, the specifics do not matter as the root causes are all too often the same.  So let’s step up here folks.  If you’re a parent, watch what your kids wear, who they hang around with and how it impacts their behavior.  As a parent, it’s your responsibility to your child and to the rest of society to do so.  School administrators, you are not responsible for our children’s behavior, but you can help create an environment that ‘smoothes out the edges’.   Remove all the labels and identifying traits of our teenagers and what do we have?  We have a bunch of children that all just want to be accepted and get through those awkward years.  Why not help them out a bit? 

In closing, you may not agree with me here, but at least think about it for a moment.  There’s a time and place for our teenagers to express their individuality or their ‘belonging’ to a group, it just shouldn’t be during school.  They have plenty of time away from school to do that.  Just give it some thought and if you are a parent or a school administrator, do what you can to ‘smooth the edges’ of that double-edged sword of belonging that often hurt our children.  If they can at least feel equal to each other in school, such an influential place, perhaps their lives would be somewhat easier.  Just a thought…