Loopholes and Gun Control

The year is 1999. The setting? Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. At 11:20AM on April 20th, two seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, opened fire outside of the school. Their rampage ended around 50 minutes later, leaving 15 dead, including themselves.

The year is 2007. The setting? Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. At 7:15AM on April 16th, Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at the university, begins shooting at West Ambler Johnston Hall, leaving one of the resident advisors dead. By the time the mass shooting was over around 2 1/2 hours later, there were 33 deaths, including that of the shooter.

The year is 2012. The setting? Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. At around 9:30AM on December 14th, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, then began shooting in the elementary school, killing 28 people, including himself. Nobody knows why he targeted the school. Nobody ever will.

These three tragedies could have been prevented. Harris and Klebold got their guns because at the time, Colorado didn’t require background checks on private gun sales. Cho got his because of another loophole–because he willingly checked himself into a mental hospital and wasn’t forced into it, he was allowed to purchase a gun. Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger’s (now called autism spectrum disorder) and it’s speculated that he had schizophrenia that went undiagnosed. He also had OCD. I’m a firm believer that anyone with any sort of mental illness (barring eating disorders and learning disabilities) should NOT be allowed to own a firearm under ANY circumstances.

However, there’s more to it. A lot of shootings happen in gun-free zones. The reason for this should be obvious–nobody can stop a shooter if there’s no law-abiding citizen who carries a gun to defend themselves and everyone around them. You only are made aware of problems like this when it happens. And if it’s prevented, it’s not mentioned at all most of the time.

So, here’s what I believe could be different:

  1. Every gun dealer, private or not, runs an extensive background check.
  2. Anyone diagnosed with any sort of mental disorder should be barred from owning a gun.
  3. Gun-free zones shouldn’t exist, even in schools. Because think about how many shootings have happened in schools.

Stay safe everyone. Put your thoughts in the comments.

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Secrets (Work in Progress)

I’ve got very few secrets. I’m usually an open book. I rarely keep anything to myself and when I do, it’s because it’s not my secret to tell.

But I do have a few. Some things are best left unsaid. I have things I don’t like talking about. Last Monday was my first day of my Criminal Justice class. My professor asked the class to introduce ourselves and say something we’ve never told anyone before. I, for the first time in awhile, had something—the fact that I’m extroverted and egocentric is an effort to mask and defeat my insecurities. Until then I’d never told anyone that. Until now only they and my mom knew—and my mom only found out a few days ago. Now I’m putting it out there. It’s one of my last secrets.

I’m a very open person. I figure if I’m open and honest then people know the kind of person I am before they get too attached to me. Plus in some cases, such as my rocky past, I know it could help whoever I’m talking to get through a rough time. Not to mention it helps feed my self confidence and makes me feel better about myself.

Nobody seems to notice how embarrassed/hurt I get when someone points out my flaws. I get that it’s important, but I’m still very insecure. I don’t know how to take criticism. The English class I took last fall was the first time I was able to get past that. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m getting there.

The Motions

So while I sat in church today, the inevitable communion time came. Now, I used to take communion every week I was at church no matter what. But recently I came to a realization–I don’t want to do it for the sake of doing it. Doing it because I feel obligated to and not because I’m really feeling in the moment and want to be close to God is kind of like lying, wouldn’t you say? I don’t want to do something out of fear or obligation. If I’m going to do something for God, I want to mean it. It’s also why I don’t sing in church anymore.

It’s hard to do it out of choice. You sin on Saturday, confess on Sunday, lather, rinse, repeat, week after week after week. It’s an exhausting cycle and eventually it’s going to catch up with you. It’s better to be honest and not do something than to do it simply because you feel like you have to, especially when it comes to God.

If all you do is go through the motions, eventually you’re going to start feeling guilty. I’ve stopped doing that and I don’t feel guilty because I know I’m doing the right thing in not pretending to be something I’m not.

Another thing I don’t do is pray. I know I should, but again, I don’t want to do it out of obligation. Praying in front of others, whether out of pride or not, makes me very self-conscious and I think that prayer is something between you and God. If I don’t really feel like talking to Him (or anyone), I don’t want to force myself to.

Going through the motions is something a lot of people do, in a lot of ways. Just think about it the next time and evaluate why you’re doing it. Are you doing it because you really mean it? Or because you feel like you have to? Consider it before you do it.

This is the song that inspired this post:

10 more songs to listen to when you’re sad

I found several more happy songs that I want to share in a new post. My last one was written a long time ago (I forgot to publish it) and several of my favorite songs didn’t make it because they hadn’t come out yet.

Song #1: ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

This is a very upbeat, happy song. I’m really into it. I think just about everyone is. I just wish it didn’t have any bad language though.

Song #2: ‘Shut Up and Dance’ by Walk the Moon

I can’t help but get excited whenever I hear this song. It makes me grin and want to dance.

Song #3: ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ by Marvin Gaye

This one is pretty peppy. It was suggested to me by someone. I don’t listen to it much, but it’s good.

Song #4: ‘When Can I See You Again’ by Owl City

This song is such a fun, catchy tune. I love it so much.

Song #5: ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams

Don’t pretend you didn’t see this one coming.

Song #6: ‘Twist and Shout’ by The Beatles

Suggested to me by a friend, it really is pretty peppy.

Song #7: ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey

It starts off slow, but ends up being amazingly catchy and upbeat by the end.

Song #8: ‘Roar’ by Katy Perry

You can’t deny how peppy it is. It’s got a pretty good beat too.

Song #9: ‘Mean’ by Taylor Swift

Not the peppiest song on the list, but it’s a good message to remember if bullies have you down.

Song #10: ‘Better Things’ by The Kinks

Recommended by a friend, it really is pretty upbeat. Inspirational too.

You can find part 1 here.

When depression overcomes happiness

I’m at a good place in my life right now. I have a boyfriend I’m in love with who loves me back. I’m getting ready to move out of my parents’ place. And on top of all that, I have a steady income now. So why am I not happy?

Let’s just face the facts: depression sucks. It can hit at the most inconvenient times. It can ruin an otherwise perfect day. It can cause people to do horrible things. They might self-harm or even commit suicide. It causes people to snap and hurt others.

Nobody can understand it unless they have it. I’ve been with my current psychiatrist for over 5 years and I think she still doesn’t get it. It’s easy to tell someone ‘suck it up and get over it’ just because you can or ‘happiness is a choice’ just because it is for you. Why would anyone choose to be sad?

I want to be happy. Really, I do. So I don’t get why I can’t be. It hurts to know that I’ll never be completely satisfied with life for more than a day or two at a time.

Depression is a harsh mistress (for lack of a better term). You can’t shake it. It just stays there. All the time. Day after day. Even on your good days, it lies in wait in the darkest corners of your mind, waiting for something to happen that can push it into the light.

It hurts. It hurts like hell and always will. And the worst part? If you’ve got it now, odds are you always will. No amount of drugs, legal or not, can cure it. And there’s not a single thing you can do about it.

You’ve Changed–Guest Post by Rachel Klein

A Facebook friend/former classmate of mine wrote this up earlier today and it really struck a chord, so I figured I would share. This was pulled straight from her Facebook profile with minor editing for flow.

I have had COUNTLESS falling outs with friends since graduation. Good friends, BEST friends, people with whom I always believed would be the women standing by my side on my wedding day. Now, let me admit that I still stay in contact with a handful of them occasionally, but many of them are completely gone. I feel as though I tend to be the one who initiates the “I miss you, what happened to us?” conversation, and nearly EVERY TIME, I receive a response similar to this.

“You’ve changed.”

I heard this when I was spending quite a bit of my weekend nights drinking. I became what some would deem a “bad person”, for what? For staying in the comfort of my own basement with a handful of friends being a teenager after my daughter was fast asleep, and always checking on her throughout the night no matter how many beers had been consumed. But now I’m hearing that I’ve negatively changed because I’m always at the gym…improving my physical, mental, and emotional health. “It’s just weird. It’s not you.”

No. It USED to not be me. But, as we’ve uncovered: people change.

It used to hurt. It made me feel as if it was always my fault the friendship ended, the relationship failed, I was slowly losing people I believed to be close to.

Newsflash guys: We are supposed to be changing. Growing. Figuring out who we are supposed to be and what our calling is in life. I used to think I was just “the swimmer with the baby”, and that label followed me like The Plague until my sophomore year of college. Losing swimming was bittersweet to me, because that meant I was losing the one thing that trailed behind me for 6 years, and competitively swimming prior to Kayelynn consumed my life for even longer: 8 years to be exact. All adding up to being a swimmer for 14 years of my life. 14 YEARS!!!

I’ve gone through many stages in my 21 years of life. I’ve ridden the epitome of an emotional roller coaster, and everyone has a sob story, so I won’t waste time by delving further into my life story.

All I can say now is that I have the people I need. I have my compassionate, intelligent, sassy little girl who has been the BIGGEST cause of personal change. I have a man in my life with whom I plan to marry & spend the rest of my days, who has introduced me to the world of bodybuilding and without his immense knowledge on the subject, I would’ve never overcome my shoulder injuries nor would my extremely low level of self-confidence have risen past like -100. Alex also brought into my life his incredible little boy who has become Kayelynn’s little brother & fills the role of another kiddo for me to lather in love every opportunity I have. Alex’s family has become my own family, and been able to become much closer with my own.

On top of all of those humans, I must admit I still tag along with some friends. I’ve met so many new faces just through bodybuilding, people who share many similar interests, inside and outside of the gym. And of course, even if the relationships may be a little different now, I still have a couple people who I used to with whom I am still in touch with pretty regularly & we are always able to pick back up right where we left off even without constant communication (which is what adulthood is, we’re all busy. It’s naive to expect everyday conversation from everyone and their mother with whom you used to spend your free time, cmon)….And then there’s [my friend] Alicia of course but she’s actually my soulmate/spirit animal so she doesn’t count.

Basically, communication and friendship are a two way street. There have been so many things lately occurring in my life and my daughter’s life that has prevented me from being able to make time for a lot of other things. And maybe I have changed, but looking back on who I was when I got pregnant, seeing what kind of person I was, and even all throughout high school or a year ago at that, I am proud of where my values stand at this point and if that means a few “friends” fell by the wayside in the process, I guess that’s how the cookie crumbles. And I am so happy I have been able to teach myself that it’s not always my fault when this happens. It’s life. And I still wish you all the best of luck in all of your endeavors, always.

A letter to the boy who left me broken and depressed

I’m so sorry. I know how badly I hurt you and I’m sorry for that. What happened shouldn’t have happened the way it did. I’m glad we broke up, but I wish we could’ve remained friends. But that’s not on me.

That’s on you.

You’re the one who strung me along after the breakup, making me think maybe we had a future together after all, only to crush that dream, then blame me when our friendship came down with it.

I don’t understand what happened. It’s been 4 years since we broke up and I’m still trying to make sense of it all. Was I really that horrible? You were so loving, then you just…weren’t. And here we are now, and we couldn’t be further away from each other if we were on opposite sides of the world.

Being with you left me broken and depressed. I can’t put all the blame on you. Looking back, I realize now how flawed you were. When we were dating and after we broke up, I couldn’t think of anything that you’d done to get us where we ended up. Now that I’m where I’m at in my life, I know better. You turned your parents against me. Made me look like the psycho girlfriend who wouldn’t leave you alone. You called me a crazy, emotionally abusive ex girlfriend to your friends. You never told me that was how you felt until long after we broke up.

We tried being friends for awhile, after we both healed. Despite what you seem to think, the fall of that is your fault, not mine.

It took me until quite recently to stop feeling in love with you. Seeing you last May sent my recovery into a tailspin. But by the time I saw you on my birthday this year, I was over it. It didn’t ruin my day. It didn’t make me sad. I was a little shaken up, but that was out of surprise.

I wish you all the best in life. I’m satisfied with mine. Find someone who is more compatible. Marry her. Have some kids. Be happy. A part of me will always love you. But most of me realizes that we were doomed from the start. I don’t regret our relationship. I just wish we could’ve remained friends.

Please know that I still care. If you wanted to be friends again, I would be completely okay with that. I forgive you for everything. I hope you can forgive me too.