Let’s Rock For Character!

“Be respectful .. be loving ..  be happy.”

What’s your passion?  Do you have one?

For me, it’s writing.  This is my passion.  Spreading inspiration, creating imagery with words, taking your head to another place, even if for a little while … THAT’S my passion, with four kids, a husband, 6 chickens, 2 bunnies, a dog and a cat … That’s about as passionate as I get, these days … wink wink!!

Recently, I sat with Rocco Costanza, who is a 24-year-old ROCK STAR … well, at least locally, he is, but I promise you, please remember his name, because his talents are certainly going to pay off … maybe sooner than expected.  Rocco walked into my house, very confident with his dark Ray Ban Aviators on, his very cool, very stylish ripped jeans, hat on backwards, guitar in hand … ready to sit down and chit-chat.  I couldn’t help but to wonder … Was I that confident at 24?!

HELL NO!

Immediately, I admired him.  Was it the confidence I admired?  Yes, but that’s not all.  He was polite, respectful, talked to my youngest child as if he knew her forever … a rock star, but better!!

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In an earlier blog, I mentioned The Anti-Bully Squad, which was started by a friend of mine and my husband, Tom Peterson, along side Brandon McManus, from the Denver Broncos.  Well, Tommy also started another campaign back in 2000, along with an old buddy of his, Kyle Poyer, (small world) who is also from the area, but now resides in Anderson, IN.  Together, they have formed something called Rock For Character, and I’m on a mission, to be their voice, so they are heard!!

This campaign is AHHHMAZING! I’m a lover of writing first, but music is a very, very close second place!  For me, it’s my get-a-way from LIFE.  If I’m in a bad mood, I’m cranking up the tunes, because I know, that at some point while listening, my mood will change.  It’s magical.  Why is it magical?  WHO CARES WHY?! It just is, and that’s all that should matter, because I know that I’m not the only person this happens to.

Me:       “What was your favorite elective in elementary school?”
Rocco:  “It was music, and gym.”

For me, it was music.  I love to sing.  I’m a freaking rock star every day in my shower.  It’s an AMAZING show, too bad my family are the only ones to have the privilege of listening to SUCH awesomeness! wink wink!

Me:       “Why is it important to keep music in schools?”
Rocco:  “If music wasn’t in school when I was younger, I wouldn’t have had the desire to sing, and make music.”

He also went on to say that it was his MUSIC TEACHER, who taught him how to play the piano … in school … for free.  Did you hear me?! FOR FREE!! Yet, another, rather PHENOMENAL reason, to  PLEASE keep music in the schools!

What does this organization do?

They go into the schools. All schools. Elementary through college, and any event you can think of in between. They deliver a VERY clear message, by using music, and singing, to get the attention of the students, and staff.  Everyone loves music, or at the very least, they can appreciate good music.  Rock For Character, takes a young artist, guitarist, drummer, etc., and they start off by singing an inspirational song, more than likely a cover of a popular song, they already know … so this automatically engages the students.  When that song is done, the artist reaches out to the students, and speaks to them in a language they understand. I watched a video of this program.  I was instantly inspired.  They go on to sing another song, maybe a little riff on the guitar. They inspire some more, by speaking their language.  I was so inspired personally, that I have offered to help in ANY way I can, to “relay” this message, the best that I can.  So, I’m starting with this blog …

I’m sad to learn that it’s hard to get this program into OUR NJ Schools … I’m actually not sad, I’m freaking mad! Rock For Character (RFC), has no problem booking schools in PA, OH, CT, parts of NY State, and IN.  I’m not understanding what the problem is in OUR NJ Schools?!  To me, this is a no brainer!!!  RFC, has a motto, Keep your character in tune, one string at a time.  They also incorporate this six letter acronym (like a guitar has six strings) into their message, P.A.R.T.T.Y., however, not in the way you may think!

P=Passion, A=Attitude, R=Respect, T=Trust, T=Thoughtfulness,  Y=You

Rocco said, “It starts with you, and ends with you.”  It starts with your passion, your want and desire to do whatever you want, be whoever you want. They speak about attitude, respect, trust, all things that are very self explanatory.  Here’s where they tie in the Anti-Bully Squad, through THOUGHTFULNESS.  It makes sense, right?  Again, I’m echoing my sentiments in my previous blog, but bullying is getting out of hand, and it seems these children are getting younger and younger, and parents are fighting with schools for help with their depressed kid, and NO ONE IS DOING ANYTHING!!! WTF?!

PLEASE!! Let this organization into our schools!  It could save a life.  Not only has it been proven that this type of campaign can help to stop bullying, it can also help reach a kid who is thinking about dropping out, smoking tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy, violence, and other destructive behaviors or decisions.

Me:       “Rocco, what message is it that you, personally, want to convey to the younger audience?”
Rocco:   “Be respectful .. be loving ..  be happy.”

Hmmm .. Sounds a little familiar to me.  Again, echoing the sentiments of my previous blog, be anything, but MEAN!

You can all have the pleasure of seeing Rocco perform, this FRIDAY, JUNE 23rd, at a fundraising event, that a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD freshman, has put together for a classmate, whose family lost their house to a fire last month.  It’s being held at Horseshoe Lake, in Roxbury.  You can find more info here.  Please make sure to also stop by the Rock for Character website to check them out, along with the Anti-Bully Squad.

Everyone here is just trying to do the right thing, and spread the message.  Thank you to Tommy Peterson, and Rocco Costanza for swinging by, and having this conversation with me! I appreciate everything you guys are doing!

Me:       “Rocco, how important is it to be an honest, thoughtful person?”
Rocco:  “HONESTY is huge … from the fans, from the critics … It’s great to be honest, you don’t have to be mean.”

 

 

 

 

 

Not My Kid.

“It won’t happen to my kid!”

 


A little girl died. Twelve years young. I don’t know her. I don’t even know her family, yet my heart is crushed, overwhelmed with sadness for her. It is all I have been thinking about, since I learned of it last night.  Maybe because I’m a mom, maybe because I have a step-son that just turned 12, maybe because I’m freaking human?!

She didn’t die because she was sick. She didn’t die because of an accident. She was bullied, and she chose to die.  I can’t bear the thought of, “What if that was my kid?”. Hell … What if that was YOUR kid?

“It won’t happen to my kid!” … “Bully?! My kid?! NEVER!” … “I know my child, and he/she is fine.”

ARE THEY?! Do you KNOW if your child is okay? Better yet, do you know if your child is the bully? Have you checked through your child’s phone, tablet, etc., to SEE what they are getting in to? Do you regularly have conversations with your children about how THEIR day was? Do you have conversations about the “kid” that doesn’t have any friends?

“We’ve set our parental controls, they can’t get to that “stuff”.” … REALLY?! … They can’t?! Did you remember to set the parental controls at every single one of their friends’ homes, too?!

I remember when my, now almost 16 year old, daughter acquired her very first Instagram account. I was like a fly on shit checking in after her, setting controls, CONTROLLING who she followed, and who was allowed to follow her back. PHEW!! That’s a lot of work!! That’s a whole other job, within itself. These days, parents don’t have time to check, recheck, check again … Oh, and add on a sibling or two, or Lord help you … more, yes I fall into this category, as well, lol, who also have phones, tablets, etc., it’s exhausting to try and keep up. I also remember the ridicule I received from family members/friends regarding my daughter’s account, and how many followers she had, etc.

As the years have passed, I see family and friends  children now on Instagram, at a younger age, than my daughter was. Which, I can go on for hours about that topic, however, my point is this:  it’s easy to point fingers, when you haven’t “been there and done that”. Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve been there AND done that! You can monitor everything you like, but it all comes down to one thing… Yup, you guessed it … PARENTING!!  Now, I am NOT saying to never check their stuff, but the sneak attack is always the best approach, and Ohhhh SOOO much better <insert evil laugh>.  If they suspect it’s coming, they will hide and/or delete all the shit they don’t want you to see.  TRUST ME!

“Your child has a phone? Aren’t they in 2nd or 3rd grade? … Ohhhhh, you’re going to CLOSELY monitor them. Cool. Now THAT makes sense.”

NO IT DOESN’T!! Children don’t have filters. They say what they want, when they want. Until a young person has the ability to THINK about what they are going to say, they shouldn’t have any type of time, on any type of social ANYTHING! The end!  You cannot erase words that are typed and sent. Plain and simple.

Let’s not forget the kids without phones, tablets, etc.. I know these days it’s all about “keeping up with the Jones”, I get it. However, there are little people in Pre-School, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades.  These little people, hopefully, don’t have access to freely be on any type of device without the proper supervision.  It’s during these years that parents and teachers are going above and beyond to raise Bully Awareness.  It stops at a certain grade level for whatever reason.  Maybe they feel the first 6 years or so of Bully Awareness, in public school,  is enough?  Well it’s not.

As the mother of two high school age children, one middle school, and one elementary, I’m here to tell you that it stops.  I feel fortunate to live where I live.  Our school systems really do go above and beyond to raise awareness for Bullying, along with our community.

As a matter of fact, I remember when a good friend of our family, Tommy Peterson, started this “little” Organization, along with the kicker from the Denver Broncos, Brandon McManus, 2016 Super Bowl Champ (Not to throw any names around or anything) called The Anti-Bully Squad. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not so little.

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The Anti-Bully Squad (aka: ABS) has over 40,000 SQUAD MEMBERS from the United States, plus FOUR other countries! They give assemblies in NJ, PA, NY, CO & UT.  Lee Rouson, a 2-time Super Bowl Champ with the NY Giants, wink wink, is their Vice President. They team up with the NY Jets, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, The NJ Devils, and the Sussex County Minor’s, for Bully Awareness.  They are ahhhhh-mazing, and I’m proud to call Tommy, my friend.  For more information on ABS, please check them out on their website, at: antibullysquad.org .  They are always there, ready for new Squad Members!! It will truly benefit you to check them out!!

In closing, I’d like to leave you all with this ..

Kindness: noun. The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

The word KIND, always comes to mind, in these situations. BE KIND! It’s not that hard. It’s so stinking simple. Our children emulate us. They follow OUR footsteps, from the moment they are aware. When YOU are kind, THEY are kind. Communicate … Always talk to your kids.  Be involved. Be Gentle. Be Aware. Be Considerate. Be Friendly. Be Generous. Be Tender. Be Gracious. Be anything … but MEAN.  Please, just be kind.