Archives for posts with tag: inspiration

The following essay is the opinion of the author, the author of this piece wishes to remain anonymous

13 reasons13 Reasons Why (stylized onscreen as Th1rteen R3asons Why) is an American television series based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix. 


WARNING: content includes descriptions of sexual assault and suicide, minor show spoilers not exceeding what can be seen in trailers and online synopses

I need to write about 13 REASONS WHY.  Never in my life have I seen something that so closely represents my experience as a teenager since MY SO-CALLED LIFE.  And while these shows may not depict your exact high school experience, I believe there is at least one character in the show you can deeply relate to, even if it’s only through one particular event in that character’s arc.  For me and 13 REASONS, it was the central Hannah Baker and her classmate and cheerleader Jessica combined.  They were very much “me”.  In many instances and ways: too many to list.  For years, I have maintained if social media was as big when I was in HS as it is now, I most likely would have ended up like Hannah Baker, and countless other students who have chosen to end their lives. But for me, this goes beyond my connection to this story and its characters because of how much it seeps in to the real-life experience of so many high school students in the U.S., particularly girls.

It is interesting watching this show as an adult and being triggered the way I have.  It has opened up traumas in new ways, but has also actually offered a newish way to help heal.  My dad always advises me to hug the little kid inside me, that she is who I need to love and heal.  Viewing this show as an adult opens up an opportunity to do that through recognizing your compassion for the characters and realizing they are like you, that you deserve that very same compassion. It has also allowed me to watch something both as a teenager and adult, on two personal timelines simultaneously, in a way I have never experienced.

Speaking of adults and kids and experiences, I loved the depiction of this dynamic in 13 REASONS.  Many of the adults are open with their children and are truly there for them, yet as in real life, their kids don’t come to them, or only try briefly before feeling discouraged or scared.  Kids often harbor their peer trauma and try to deal with it within their ranks. I had adults I could go to, and I even knew it then, but I didn’t go to them.  It shows that no matter how hard you try to be there for your kids, often they don’t reach out, even with major things like rape and abuse or suicide.  I do not think this is always necessarily due to an age or generation gap, but often just the way we communicate, miscommunicate, or don’t communicate at all. This is also depicted amongst the kids themselves, and is true to real life, and amongst adults. But sometimes the kid just chooses not to communicate out of shame, and this is key, but shame so deep seeded it is very difficult to recognize and heal.  So much conflict can be resolved if we just ask questions and talk about it before we decide to react.  No matter our age.  I cannot even count how many times I avoided being angry or sad, saved relationships, and even avoided feeling shameful, just by opening a dialogue.  It is astounding how much easier and better my life got once I started practicing this.  13 REASONS covers this beautifully.  …As for the shame in youth in real life thing, I am still trying to figure that out.

The beginning of the show foreshadows the need for communication and threads it all the way through the narrative to the end, providing far more than 13 reasons why it (communication) is so important.  And throughout the show, we see different ways shame can derail communication.  It shows how we can sometimes try to bury our shame by going back to spaces with our rapist or abuser.  People often wonder why someone would do that; hang out with or around someone who assaulted them.  Part of it is trying to regain some semblance and dignity, part of it is not having the proper tools to love yourself, and part of it is because you somehow think it’s your fault.  It’s a strange way of subconsciously, and partly consciously, trying to convince yourself that if you can make it through this, then everything is ok, and you’re also not causing drama because even though you were raped or abused, you feel like it’s your fault, so if you say anything, you think you’ll just sound like you are trying to create drama, and you definitely don’t want to take on more blame.  13 REASONS covers this beautifully.

One of the rapes depicted in this show happens at a party.  A girl is drunk and passed out when a popular jock goes into the room, locks the door, and rapes her while she is still unconscious and can barely move.  She doesn’t have clear memory of the incident, but there were witnesses, and they didn’t stop it from happening or tell adults after. This happened to me when I was 15, drunk at a party, with a popular jock, and I had to learn about the details from a friend who was friends with my rapist. (And just like in the show, one of these three people is no longer alive). My memory wasn’t totally clear either, just bits and pieces, just like with this character.  He (the person who raped me) bragged to my friend that he “had sex” with me.  My side of the story was a little different as I woke up to my body being thrust as I was vomiting and watching the ceiling bounce.  I couldn’t move, and could barely speak. The next thing I knew I was on the bathroom floor in my friend’s sister’s clothes.  I learned later she changed my clothes and washed mine and put me in the bathroom.  That was the only help I got for that at the time.  I did go up to the rapist in the hallway at school and tell him to stop bragging about what happened because it constitutes as rape, but even though I knew better and had the knowledge of how to help myself in a situation like that, approaching him the way I did was the extent of the capacity of me helping myself that time.  That time. 13 REASONS covers this beautifully.

The second time I was raped, was very similar to the rape of another character, except this person was my friend prior to the incident and I was 19yrs old. I was completely conscious and sober. I don’t want to give too many spoilers of my life or the show, but here is that moment where you stop struggling.  You don’t yell, you don’t say no, you don’t even move.  You almost become compliant.  Because you are frozen.  There comes a point when trauma is too much for our brains to bear and they just shut down.  It’s part of what causes that feeling of being dead inside.  Your brain shuts down and you can’t feel, because if you did, you wouldn’t survive. Part of you doesn’t anyway. This person also bragged to his friend who I happened to sometimes be having sex with casually and consensually. I received a phone call from this person a day or so later making fun of and shaming me, not knowing my side of the story.  There is more to this one.  Much more… I never truly got help for this one aside from time and personal attention to myself, not only did mutual friends tell me they thought I was lying even though they said they had previously witnessed this person put pills in girls’ drinks, the actual adults I told didn’t offer much help either (not that I would have taken it at the time anyway). 13 REASONS covers this beautifully.

In both of these instances, there were witnesses of some degree, friends knew, and said or did nothing, some even added to the trauma, and I didn’t communicate what I needed to heal to anyone. In the grand scheme of my life depicted from the outside, these things never happened. They were isolated to that moment, and even though it was like everyone knew, it was like no one knew. It went mostly unacknowledged. No one was punished, no one spoke up, and I wasn’t helped.  What/who do I blame? No one and nothing but shame and lack of communication, and only partly the rapists themselves, who in some fashion are products of their environments in one way or another.  All of this, 13 REASONS WHY covers beautifully.

You may be wondering how someone could be a victim multiple times, as I am sure people wonder about the character Hannah Baker. Or why the police weren’t contacted.  I asked my therapist once, even adding how can it happen to someone who is a fighter, and I learned that someone who has been assaulted once, is more likely to be assaulted a second time than someone who has never been assaulted, and so on.  The latter has to do with trauma shutting down the brain as I mentioned earlier.  And in the high school world, kids can smell trauma like bloodhounds and so very often take advantage of it.  Today it is enhanced today by social media.  These traumas are now documented, serving as a reminder for the victim that the whole world can now see and share.  Reliving something in your brain is bad enough, but when you can visually see it over and over again on a screen, and everyone else can too, it has to do a number on the brain in ways I can’t imagine, especially for a teenager or kid. It was unbearable for me without this factor.  13 REASONS WHY covers this beautifully, however, a tiny bit more attention (though done fairly well) could have helped with the why kids and rape victims don’t choose police contact, but they do cover how the cruel documentation on our phones and online can later help.

Though growing up in a world of social media can add more pressure and a new level of bullying for students, including pushing them as far as suicide, it also brings us things like this show, and people being able to connect and share things that let others know they are not alone with topics rarely discussed in other generations, as I am doing now. It is interesting living on both sides of life with and without social media, similar to being engrossed in Hannah Baker’s story as both a teen and adult. Our current knowledge and regular use of technology helps us and hurts us in our real-life communication, as it depicted in this series…  Communication: from kids to adults, and across and throughout nations.  One of the most important things in our lives, and a crucial central character 13 REASONS WHY covers beautifully.




Rich Mur­ray re­turned from war more than four dec­ades ago, but nev­er re­ceived a prop­er “wel­come home,” but Hon­or Flight re­cently rec­ti­fied the over­sight.

The North Cath­ol­ic alum­nus is a vo­lun­teer for the non­profit or­gan­iz­a­tion that holds events to hon­or Amer­ic­an’s vet­er­ans.

The Sug­ar­House Casino sponsored a tour for Vi­et­nam vet­er­ans this past Sat­urday that con­cluded with a “wel­come back” ceremony in Fishtown.


Read more at Star Community News



It’s that time of year! Preparing for holiday and acknowledgement season. If you own a business or run a non-profit now is the time to get ready to send out those letters thanking everyone for their support in the past year. These kinds of letters can encourage continued support in the year to come. If you need assistance creating and sending these cards and notes I can help. You can contact me here and we can discuss my fees for creating and sending your holiday and acknowledgement materials. There are no consultation fees and I can perform this work remotely, or we can have a meeting to discuss your options in person in the Philadelphia area. Start now and beat the rush of the next few months!

A year ago, Brides­burg Troop 120 Scout­mas­ter Bob Giz­in­ski had an idea.

At the time, the troop he leads was vis­it­ing Fort Wash­ing­ton State Park.

Giz­in­ski no­ticed that there were, at the time, 120 of­fi­cial state parks in Pennsylvania.

Since they are Troop 120, he thought it would make a strong im­pact on the scouts to vis­it each of the state parks.

Since be­gin­ning the trips, an­oth­er state park has been ad­ded to the re­gistry, Wash­ing­ton’s Cross­ing, and they an­ti­cip­ate more will be ad­ded be­fore they fin­ish, but they will be stick­ing to the ori­gin­al 120 parks and plan to make their goal by the time this core troop moves on to be­come Eagle Scouts in five to sev­en years.

Since last year, the troop has vis­ited 30 of the 120 parks they have com­mit­ted to vis­it­ing.


Read more about the adventures of Troop 120 at Star Community News

Brother Ali – Writer’s Block (prod. Jake One):

Come, Come, Whoever You Are

Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow

a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.

A Double Standard

BY Frances Harper

Do you blame me that I loved him?

   If when standing all alone

I cried for bread a careless world

   Pressed to my lips a stone.

Do you blame me that I loved him,

   That my heart beat glad and free,

When he told me in the sweetest tones

   He loved but only me?

Can you blame me that I did not see

   Beneath his burning kiss

The serpent’s wiles, nor even hear

   The deadly adder hiss?

Can you blame me that my heart grew cold

   That the tempted, tempter turned;

When he was feted and caressed

   And I was coldly spurned?

Would you blame him, when you draw from me

   Your dainty robes aside,

If he with gilded baits should claim

   Your fairest as his bride?

Would you blame the world if it should press

   On him a civic crown;

And see me struggling in the depth

   Then harshly press me down?

Crime has no sex and yet to-day

   I wear the brand of shame;

Whilst he amid the gay and proud

   Still bears an honored name.

Can you blame me if I’ve learned to think

   Your hate of vice a sham,

When you so coldly crushed me down

   And then excused the man?

Would you blame me if to-morrow

   The coroner should say,

A wretched girl, outcast, forlorn,

   Has thrown her life away?

Yes, blame me for my downward course,

   But oh! remember well,

Within your homes you press the hand

   That led me down to hell.

I’m glad God’s ways are not our ways,

   He does not see as man,

Within His love I know there’s room

   For those whom others ban.

I think before His great white throne,

   His throne of spotless light,

That whited sepulchres shall wear

   The hue of endless night.

That I who fell, and he who sinned,

   Shall reap as we have sown;

That each the burden of his loss

   Must bear and bear alone.

No golden weights can turn the scale

   Of justice in His sight;

And what is wrong in woman’s life

   In man’s cannot be right.

Learning to Read

BY Frances Harper

Very soon the Yankee teachers

   Came down and set up school;

But, oh! how the Rebs did hate it,—

   It was agin’ their rule.

Our masters always tried to hide

   Book learning from our eyes;

Knowledge did’nt agree with slavery—

   ’Twould make us all too wise.

But some of us would try to steal

   A little from the book.

And put the words together,

   And learn by hook or crook.

I remember Uncle Caldwell,

   Who took pot liquor fat

And greased the pages of his book,

   And hid it in his hat.

And had his master ever seen

   The leaves upon his head,

He’d have thought them greasy papers,

   But nothing to be read.

And there was Mr. Turner’s Ben,

   Who heard the children spell,

And picked the words right up by heart,

   And learned to read ’em well.

Well, the Northern folks kept sending

   The Yankee teachers down;

And they stood right up and helped us,

   Though Rebs did sneer and frown.

And I longed to read my Bible,

   For precious words it said;

But when I begun to learn it,

   Folks just shook their heads,

And said there is no use trying,

   Oh! Chloe, you’re too late;

But as I was rising sixty,

   I had no time to wait.

So I got a pair of glasses,

   And straight to work I went,

And never stopped till I could read

   The hymns and Testament.

Then I got a little cabin

   A place to call my own—

And I felt independent

   As the queen upon her throne.

Source: African-American Poetry of the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology (University of Illinois Press, 1992)

This morning I dropped my youngest son to his Autism Support Class and met a delightful young girl. 

“Every kid is different.” She told me.

“Yes.” I answered. “And every kid grows up into a different adult.” 

“Yeah. The same kind of different.” She said.

“Well, you never know. You see- when I was your age, I was in a wheelchair and all kinds of people told me I would never do all kinds of things but guess what: I never gave up and I’ve done all those things they said I could never do.”

Then we talked about the awesomeness of My Little Pony hair.