Monday, September 28, 2015

Is this our new normal?

I love Fall for many reasons, one being, that on a chilly evening, I can build a roaring fire on my patio, sit in my sweats, and write whats on my mind. Another main reason I love Fall, is the new tv shows that air. I get very excited to DVR all the new shows that I find interesting. I take the time to go through every new show and see what great show I might fall in love with. I can't wait to find another gem among them, such as Scandal, The Middle, How to Get Away With Murder and many others. This year, I decided that a show called "Scream Queens" might be a show that Melissa and I would finally watch together. We don't usually watch the same shows and I know how much Melissa loved Glee, and being that this show was written by the same people, I thought just maybe with a little mystery and some humor, we could find one that we both enjoyed.

So the day comes and we sit down with pure excitement to watch our new show that we will possibly both love together....that Tuesday night when we will look forward to cuddling on the couch and watching "Scream Queens". Boy, was I WAY wrong! We made it about a half hour. It was appaling. Melissa said it was depressing. Depressing, because of the message this show is sending our youth at 8 P.M. on a Tuesday night.

For those of you that don't know the premise of the show, its about a sorority that has a President who is named Chanel. She has little minions, who don't have identities, but names such as Chanel 1, Chanel 2, etc.  In the opening minutes, Chanel berates the maid of the sorority. "That obese speciman of filth scrubbing bulemia vomit out of the carpet is Ms. Bean. I call her 'white mammy' because she's essentially a house slave." That's what we want our youth hearing? Not only hearing, but thinking its appropriate to say about someone? Of course, the rich, popular Chanel, who everyone strives to become lives on cruelty towards others to benefit herself and all people who she feels are worthy.
The President of the college demands that Chanel open her sorority house to everyone, even the fatties and ethnics. Seriously?

Its been a few weeks since I sat through the longest half hour of my life and I still can't seem to get over it. I can't for the life of me figure out why as a society we think that this type of behavior is "normal" and appropriate. Its Homecoming time around this area for High Schools. So many young kids getting ready for a big dance, being voted onto court,  and all the various activities that go along with it, but yet, there are those kids out there, that are still made to feel like they aren't cool enough, or have the right bodies.  They are still standing on the sidelines wondering why their lives aren't different. They have been beat down so often, that they feel their only way out is to retaliate. So they make a bomb, or bring a gun to school, because they want payback, they want the others to know they exist.  This happens all too often. It happened the other day, just this week at North Royalton HS. There was a bomb scare. The whole school evacuates and sits in the bleachers. Parents, teachers, students all frightened, wondering if today is the day their life is going to change. It does change, no one was hurt, no bomb went off ..... today.....  but homecoming activities were cancelled. Was this bomb scare because someone didn't make homecoming court and they are mad? Did they get what they wanted by this scare?  Is this what we send our kids off to school to live through?

There are a world of teachers out there working our asses off to teach children to be respectful, kind, and loving. We work hard every moment to teach our youth that hate is unacceptable. We do the best we can to stop bullying and  to help every child to be their best selves. Yet, they go home and are taught something the opposite. They watch shows like Scream Queens and they think that's what you do to people to get what you want. Humiliation and hate become their world. What they need to be taught instead is compassion, acceptance and love. We need to work together, media, parents and teachers to help the youth become better than those before them.  If we don't do something soon, together, hate, humiliation and violence will become our new normal, if it hasn't already. It will become acceptable and normal to have bomb scares at school and to humiliate those around you to better yourself in the world. I don't want to live in that world or teach in that school. I don't want that life to be normal.....Do you?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Worth the Fight


Fighting to be accepted by people, who are supposed to be fighting FOR YOU.  

 Fighting for every inch of what I know I deserve, what every human deserves. LOVE.

Fighting for that little piece of acknowledgment, the moment where you know you are noticed in someone’s eyes.

Fighting for happiness, because everywhere I turn it feels like someone is trying to take mine away.

Fighting for respect, the kind of respect where everything about you is respected by someone.  


It’s exhausting. 

Basic human rights that everyone should feel, is exhausting. Yet, I keep pushing forward and fighting every moment that comes my way, because I know it’s important. I know that I am  laying the ground work for the future generations of souls that shouldn't have to fight, shouldn't have to feel the sadness when someone tells you that you are not equal.

 I fight because if I didn't, I would feel worthless, because that’s who I am made to feel. Made to feel less then someone else because of who I love. Your actions imply your love is better than mine.  Those actions are hurtful and causes such deep emotions it alters the way I feel about you, which I struggle to resist feeling. I don’t want to be like you. I don’t want to judge you because of how you judge me, but sometimes, the emotion is so great for a split second, that I do.

Then I begin to fight again. This time I find my opponent to be myself. I fight myself…back and forth…back and forth…Let it go, those words and actions, those hurt so deep, but they don’t know, they don’t understand, it’s not personal, it’s their fears,  let it go. But yet, I let go every day, I love unconditionally, I try being honest of how I feel (which is very difficult for me), yet they don’t listen. So I constantly fight. My huge heart is constantly battling love for others and love for myself.   LIVING the love pouring from my soul and BATTLING the emotions of those I love the most.  

There never seems to be a winner. I always just seem to fight, but I never seem to gain any ground. I think the fight might be making a difference, and then another blow comes from a place I wasn't expecting. The part of the fight that’s the hardest to understand is the opponent doesn't seem to fight very hard, one word, one gesture, one action, can knock me to my knees, and shatter a heart.  I just wish ONCE, in this fight, my opponent was AWARE, of how long it takes for me to stand back up. How it takes a second to break a heart, a million minutes to put it all back together again and what seems like a lifetime to realize once again, that me, Shannon Leigh Julia Bender and who I am and who I love will ALWAYS be worth the fight. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Stop Waiting

"Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in now."

How many times a week do we say, I just wish it was Friday? For teachers, I know we say multiple times a year or even a week, when is it going to be summer? I have heard so many times, I will do that when I make more money, or I'll get a divorce when my kids are grown. What are you doing now, in this moment, on this Tuesday? Why can't it be right now?

Grown Kids

We live in the future. We think when all these things happen, life will be happier and we'll be more at peace. There have been so many times in my life when I was hoping and praying for something I really wanted.  I would waste so much energy on the "want." I'd think about it all day, lay awake at night thinking about it, but when I finally got whatever it was that I was wanting, it just seemed really  blah. I had spent so much time dreaming about it and thinking about it, that in my mind, I hyped it up to be so much more than it really was. The worst part, was for all those weeks, sometimes, months of wanting, I was missing out on everything that was happening each day. I wasn't focused on anything I was doing in the moment. I couldn't look back at the week and even remember what happened, where I went, or who I saw. I find that to be incredibly sad. There are times when I realize that my day is over and I have no idea what I accomplished or even if it was a happy day, because I get caught up in my own thoughts, what I want to happen in the future, or even the drama of other's lives.
Basically all the things, that in the grand scheme of life, DO NOT MATTER.

My favorite commercial right now is the new State Farm commercial about all the "NEVER's" in your life. We spend so much time saying, I am never going to get married, but then we find the love of our life and we can't imagine doing anything else. We are never going to have a child because kids are challenging, but then we realize that we have so much love to give, how can we not have a child.  I could go on and on about all the NEVER's I have said in my life, but at some point, ended up doing. The best part about the NEVER's, is that they end up being the BEST blessings.

 State Farm "Never's" commercial:

Maybe instead of focusing on the NEVER's, we start living each moment, each day and enjoying the way life flows. We cannot plan out our lives. We have to LIVE our lives. We have to let life flow and ride the wave. Not only ride the wave, but ENJOY it. Nothing ever turns out like we plan, so why do we focus so much on that part and skip the most important part, which are the everyday moments.

Those everyday moments are where all parts of life exist...

Finding true happiness.

Learning the depths of your soul.

Laughing till your face hurts, and accidentally peeing when you don't mean to.

Taking risks.

Being unconditional love.

Your life matters, right now, this moment. The time is NOW to do whatever you want to do. It's your moment to love, make mistakes, laugh, run wild, to realize anything is possible. It's your moment. Don't wait for Friday, or summer, or when you feel like things will be easier. Those times may never come...then what? What will your excuse be then?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


“Stress is wanting something to be the way it isn’t.”

Take a minute.

Reread that quote.


When I saw this quote recently, I instantly knew the power in those words. I can totally feel myself becoming “stressed” immediately because of how real that statement feels to me. I know that I live my life this way daily. I always want things to be different than they are, and when they aren’t, I completely become stressed.


Busted, however the good news is, completely my fault and in my control.

For example, looking at my week this week, I am overwhelmed and stressed just by all the events written on my calendar. As I take each event written there, in my handwriting, my own doing, I realize that 85% of those events, I don’t want to do.  I don’t want to attend that event, go have that dinner, coach that game, yet, I have committed….Why? More importantly, just because I committed and I could easily change my mind on some of them, I don’t.



 I stress that I will disappoint people if I don’t show up.

 I stress that I am lazy if I am sitting home watch a movie instead of doing something active.

I stress that I am not “living” if I don’t travel a certain amount of a weekends, hang out with my friends every Saturday night or go on enough exotic vacations.

I stress that my life has changed and I have grown and I really don’t want to do the things I used to want to do, but feel like I have to.

I could go on and on. However, the biggest lesson here is that every one of these statements is all stresses. Not one of them deals with what I really want to do in that moment. They don’t talk about my happiness, they address my stress. Man, when looking at it that way, it kind of freaks me out that I am so worried about what others will think,  how negative I talk about myself and what emotions  I really bring to that outing when I am only going because I feel stressed into going.

What if I could live in the moment…every moment and not worry about what has not happened yet? What would the world be like if we were all living right then and there, if we weren’t in our thoughts, in our stresses, but right there in the moment, experiencing life as it is? Incredible is what comes to mind. Love and passion would grow immensely. Through love, the world could eliminate hate. We could love ourselves exactly as we are. We could love each other as equals.  

When thinking about life in that way, I am no longer stressed,

I am excited.

I am inspired.

I am ready to make a change.

We have a choice to clear away some of that calendar.

We have a choice to start doing the things we “want” to do without any lingering stressful thoughts of why we shouldn’t be doing them.

We have a choice to put ourselves and own well-being first before anything or anyone else.

We have a choice to control our thoughts and what effects our emotions.

We have a choice to stay in the moment and not get caught up in the “what might happen” scenario.

We have a choice to ask ourselves if this stress will matter in an hour, a month or year from now. When we decide it doesn’t matter, we have a choice to let go.

We have a choice to live in the moment.

What will you choose?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Please Excuse Me Your LIfe is Waiting

A friend called the other day and asked if I had any self-help books she could read. Of course, I have self-help books, I am the guru of self-help books and I told her to come on over. As I was pulling books off my shelf for her and looking through my stuff, I kept coming back to a book that I have read before many years ago. This particular book was given to me by someone I have never met, but only talked with on the phone. Mary told me over the phone that this book would change my life and that it’s important I read it. As with everything, we are very good at taking what we are reading, or experiencing during phases of our lives and applying it. Then life happens, we get too busy and what is the first thing to be put on the back burner, ourselves. Why is that?

Since the last time I read the book, I have been living a very fast paced life full of many ups and few downs.  I personally don’t feel that my downs are very low, but low enough that I just kind live in a flat lined space, nothing really exciting, but nothing really horrible. I go through my weeks of eating better, doing more Yoga than normal, trying to meditate, basically trying to make my life less stressful, but that only lasts a short while, till I am busy again. As do most of us, when I am busy, the last thing I pay attention to is to myself. I am more worried about what I am doing or where I have to be, than taking care of me.  I don’t stop to really listen to what my soul needs, or how my body feels, or what would nourish my life at the moment. Can you imagine what our lives would be like if we just took the time every day to ask ourselves what we need today? Not only ask, but then listen. The possibilities of self-love, joy, happiness and abundance are endless.

Usually when we are so busy and running ragged, so is our negativity about life, things and our bodies. We are constantly in a state of crazy, that our mind streams thoughts that tell us we hate this, or that person annoyed us, or I shouldn’t drink that pop because I’ll gain weight. Our mind doesn’t normally say positive, uplifting comments when we are unaware of our thoughts. When living in that state of negativity we are constantly sending out energy vibes that are negative. We are sending out thoughts that cause our lives to be flat, or unfulfilling, therefore, our life reflects our thoughts.  I do know that life is not meant to be lived that way. We are not meant to live a life of negativity and crap.

How do we change our thoughts, all the things we dread doing every day or finding that love you’ve been looking for? I asked myself that same question just after I was trying to help my friend find her answer in my self-help books. I have been living in a state of negativity since August. Every morning I wake up and I dread going to work. I feel very powerless there and I feel like I do not make a difference. I love the people I work with, which are what keeps me going in everyday, but as a whole, I dread my job. I would come in, dragging my feet, almost kicking and screaming, which then pours out onto my desk and into my classroom. I get all emotional when one thing goes wrong and I am all in all just very grouchy. I can never solve a problem because all I do is bitch about what’s wrong and not look at what I can do to make it better. This has been my life for about 7 months, day in and day out. My life around my job is good, I am in a happy place, but obviously, my negative energy I am casting into the world is collecting and causing nothing in my life to get any better. It’s almost like I have become stuck in a very thick muddy field, the kind of field that you know if you try to move, your shoe will come off. That’s where I have been for way too long.

The answer to my question just happened to fall off the shelf that day when I was looking for books. Maybe it was Mary telling me from afar, to pick up the book again, because yes, it will change your life. I gave my friend a copy and I took my copy and began reading that night. I read the book in 2 days and as I read, I could feel the mud around my shoes starting to dry, very slowly, but all the same, it is drying.

It has been about 2 weeks now since I started reading and taking very big steps of changing my life.
I have started paying attention to all my negative thoughts….yes, there are so many of those in my day, especially at work. Not only am I negative at work, but then because I am in such a yucky place, I am very negative to myself. I constantly tell myself I need to lose weight, or my hair looks bad, or I should be working out more (even though I work out 6 days now), or that I am not being kind enough, etc. All of those thoughts, just seem to accumulate and attract so much more of what I don’t want, therefore, getting the same muddy field. So I have this little game I play and visualize. When I have a negative thought about anything, big or small, I picture myself flipping a switch from my negative thoughts to something positive about me or my life. Just the thought of that has been huge for me. It immediately takes me away from the crappy, negative thought, to something positive. It’s amazing how much that changes your energy in an instant. That’s a simple thing I can do anywhere anytime.

Now something else I am doing that is a bit more work. Every time I get a chance, most of the time when I am driving or before I go to bed seems to be the best times for me. I visualize myself where I want to be. For example, I visualize Melissa and me in St. Lucia on a beach. I can see the ocean, I can feel the sun, and I can taste the Corona. I am not worried at all how I got there, where the money came from or when we are going. That part doesn’t matter. What matters is that when I visualize us in St. Lucia, I can FEEL us there. I get this feeling in my gut that reminds me of a buzzing or a whoosh in my heart, sort of like when you feel nervous for something. That’s the feeling. I just focus on that feeling and try to magnetize it as powerful as I can. That’s the good energy flowing, which is also causing my muddy field to start drying up. Now, you can visualize anything you want and you can start small, like a good parking spot at the busy mall, or you can go for the gusto and visualize something you have always wanted. Now the tricky part is that you can’t have any negativity or don’t wants, they have to be all wants and no questions on how it’s going to happen. That is not your job.  Your job is vibrating all sorts of good energy. We want to get our muddy fields to dry up, we want our good energy to be vibrating heavily and collecting other good things.

Think of your energy like a faucet. Most of us going around with our faucet closed most of the time. If we are closed, how can we be happy and alive? We need to figure out a way to open that faucet and let the happiness and good energy flow. Flipping the switch when negative thoughts come into our minds or just visualizing what we want. It sounds simple and in theory it is, but in practice it is very difficult. We are so used to negativity and living in flat lined state, that we have fear on changing that energy. Our ego’s don’t want to change, they like being in control. 

In the last few weeks of these two life changing practices, have opened my faucet even just a little (I have a long way to go), but during this time, I feel better.  My behavior students at school who I dreaded seeing every day, have been great this week. I haven’t had any issues with them at all. I feel like I have taught some good lessons to the kids, I am calmer in my speech and I honestly just don’t feel as grouchy. I haven’t been hard on myself when I took a few days off from working out. I can feel my shoes loosening in that mud, I can see the sun coming up on the horizon, and I can feel the joy flowing from my heart.  I know that I can have everything I want and I can have it now, I just need to enjoy my life to the fullest, with all the happiness the world has to offer. NO more doubt, negativity, lack of love. I am living with my faucet open and vibrating the most positive energy I can FEEL. Thank you Mary, thank you to my friend who wanted self-help books and thank you to the book, “Please Excuse Me Your Life is Waiting.” Yes, my life has been waiting and now, with my faucet open, I am ready to leave this muddy field and take a walk on the beaches of St. Lucia. 

Friday, February 14, 2014


There was a time in my life when I hated Valentine's Day. I was one of those girls that made comments that it was just a Hallmark holiday. I thought the day about your special partner was so stupid, (probably because I didn't have a honey) that my best friend and I created our own day in February to celebrate ourselves and our friendship. We didn't need a day of Love; we had our own day now! Fifteen years later, we still celebrate February 11th as Bender/Alicia Day :) As time has gone on, I have realized that creating Bender/Alicia day was just a different name for Valentine's Day.
It was designed in a boycott fashion, but in reality, we created the day from friendship, kindness and love. Isn't that really what Valentine's Day is about? Valentine's Day doesn't have to be a romantic kind of day, but if it is full of romance, that's spectacular too. On February 14th, we can celebrate ourselves, our families, our friends, and a stranger, the love of our life or the love in the meantime. The day is just about love. 

Regardless if you find the holiday wonderful, exciting, annoying, sad or a money maker, try to stop this year and find simple ways to add love into your life. Here are a few suggestions:

1. SELF LOVE. Do something nice for yourself today. Maybe you love a certain kind of wine that you normally don't pay for, go buy it. Do something you enjoy, but don't take the time do often. Relax. Watch a movie that you would enjoy. Go somewhere. 

2. REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE. Give a gift to your parents and tell them how much you love them. Reach out to someone you haven't spoken to in a while and say hello. 

3. LOVE BOMBS. Pay for the car behind you in the drive- thru line. Buy flowers for someone that helps you. Make cards for your coworkers, letting them know you appreciate them. 

4. MAKE LOVE COMMITTMENT. Commit to saying positive things every day to yourself. Stop with the negative talk. We are beautiful human beings and we should be celebrated for who we are right now.

5. CELEBRATE LIFE. Go out with friends and celebrate being alive, celebrate being loved, celebrate being healthy. 


Open up your hearts this Valentine's Day and just celebrate the most important emotion. LOVE. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

See You Again

Has someone ever said something to you, words they whole heartedly believed, but you knew in your gut were so very wrong? 

That happened to me. Those words have stuck with me. Even after an extended amount of time and countless hours of contemplating her view, I still know from somewhere deep within, those words were very wrong. 

A friend of mine had someone very close to them die. We were talking about how she was feeling and what I could do to help. She was very upset and expressed that the hardest part for her was that she knew she would never see that person again. At first, I thought she meant that it was hard because they were gone and physically she won't see them, of course being a difficult realization. Then the lightning bolt struck me with such sheer force. She explained because the person who died didn't believe in God, they will never have the opportunity to enter the heaven she believes in and therefore, she will never see them again. 

Man, it was like an arrow to my soul. I felt so strongly against those words, it felt like God was kicking me, screaming at me to express what I felt. Instantly I thought about this person who died. I have heard many different stories over the years about how wonderful of a person they were, loving, caring, helpful, forgiving, a gentle soul. All of those genuine qualities that my friend has lovingly expressed, but yet, when it comes to the day they die, all of that is erased? None of that matters because they were taught or not taught about religion a certain way? They don't go to heaven? 

That doesn't sound like the God I believe in. 

No, the God I believe in...LOVES EVERYONE. 

Loves YOU...
It DOESN'T MATTER what you've done in this lifetime-Bad or Good, 
Who you love, 
What you own, 
What religion or lack of religion you believe in, 
What beliefs you have, 
How many people you've hurt,
How many you love.

The God I believe in just LOVES. 

I don't want this to be about religion or what we all believe religiously. I just felt compelled to say that I don't believe in a God that just ends your life and that's that. I believe in a God that loves and I believe that no matter who you are and what life you have lived, I will See You Again, in some form, in some dimension of time. 

I do hope the next time I see you again, I am a very cool rock star  : )