It’s a typical Sunday in Los Angeles, but it hasn’t been a typical week…
As I sit enjoying my Kona coffee, my mind is spinning with happy memories. Did Adam Lambert, LeAnn Rimes, and Lisa Vanderpump really take their photos for our Friend Movement anti-bully campaign, “THE NEW F WORD”? Did the amazing Bonnie Tiegel, Brooke Anderson, and Tatiana Toomer come to our set with Entertainment Tonight? Did Lizzie Velazquez and Roman Arispe fly across the country to be a spokespersons for our work? Did Joseph Sears meet his idol Adam Lambert after years of being bullied and made to feel ashamed of who he was? Maybe I was just dreaming …pinch … ouch … I’m awake! After nearly a year of careful planning with an incredible producing team, our dream is coming true. So many incredible people are lending their name, time, and support to this cause; we are so thankful.
People all over the world are learning of our vision of preventing bullying by being a better friend, but more than that they are embracing it as their own. By changing their middle names on Facebook and Twitter to “FRIEND”, they are sending a message loud and clear that bullying is not OK for any reason and that they are committing to being a better friend to all those they encounter. It’s quite a simple concept really, but one that is far more complex when you dig deeper. In an age when we are all addicted to our technology, clinging to our phones as if they were our lover, we rarely take advantage of opportunities to truly connect.
We have become an impatient people. I remember when you had to wait until a person got home to receive your message, but now if someone doesn’t respond to our text in 5 minutes or less we freak out. We are multitasking more than ever. When people are talking to you, are you really listening or are you just hearing them? Do you go through the motions, feigning interest with a smile and a nod, or do you engage fully and allow yourself to pause and give them the respect they deserve? Beyond that, we are living in a time when everyone is fighting for something; power, money, position. I’m noticing that many people’s ethical compass must be broken; mostly due to feelings of pure desperation and fear.
We do not have to live in that state of fear, but we choose to as a society. We focus on the negative things going on in the world instead of celebrating the positive. We focus on our differences and allow them to create an invisible divide stronger than any military base; instead we should focus on how many things we have in common! We have become a society of ME ME ME instead of figuring out how it could benefit WE. I have witnessed many people figuring out how to make their way to the top while being less than honest, getting angry at someone that “stole their job”, and thinking that people should just hand them things. Those people often times make it, but there is no longevity in taking that route.
I believe in group success, building a strong foundation, and working with individuals that have a deep passion for what they do; those not afraid to do the work. I’m thankful every day for the team I work with because I know that we have open/honest communication, we all want to create art, and we want to make a difference. Thank you to my creative/producing team, Elliot London, Ryan Forbes, Jewely Bennett, Donna Gast, Jeffrey Jagged, Bianca Kosoy, Sandra Valde, Robert Patin.
Also, a BIG THANK YOU to our super-FRIENDS that have been vital in brining this vision to life! I especially want to thank Shawn Adeli, Charlene Sonenberg, Ane Shields, Tom Shaffer, Kevin Noble, Joe DiCosola, Doug Hattaway, Robert Hammond, Frank Gerard, Brenda Martin, Tom Klein, Carl Moellenberg, Kyle Chan, Jerry Silverhardt, Alec Mapa, Mas Kuwana, Marco Gonzalez, Bill Pritchard, Al Geiner, Tommy Geraci, Kyle Blitch, Mark Steines, Leanza Cornett, Tim McNeal, Chad Hudson, Phil Lobel, Cindy Carter, and so many more … it takes a village!!
Bullying is a global epidemic that we may never be able to eradicate completely, but we can certainly work towards tipping the scale in our favor. Imagine what the world would be like if we could finally look in the mirror and find self-love and acceptance! By doing so we would naturally give that same respect to others around us; letting go of superficial labels and seeing them for the beautiful soul that they are. We all have our own journey to embark upon, our own lessons to learn, and our own hardships to overcome; why must we make it anymore difficult on ourselves than it already is? We must start by being a FRIEND to ourselves …
What does it mean to be a FRIEND?
My mentor, H, told me that the golden rule of treating others the way you want to be treated is no longer valid. Why? Because others may not want to be treated in the same way you prefer to be treated. It’s important that we ask those around us how they want to be treated and at the same time we should let our friends know the same about us; this gives them the opportunity to recognize and/or alter behavior that may be hurting us. By doing so, we can avoid a ton of drama and we can spend our precious time doing things that bring happiness to our lives. Even our silence is a way of condoning bad behavior. By staying silent you are telling those around you that it is OK to behave a certain way; thereby you are also responsible for the treatment you are receiving.
A FRIEND is someone that treats you the way you want to be treated.
A FRIEND is someone that will love and respect me enough to tell the truth, not simply say what they think I want to hear. Often times I have had friends stretch the truth out of fear of losing the friendship. Worse than that, I have had friends lie to me, when honesty could have saved me a great deal of pain in the long-run.
A FRIEND is someone that wants to see me succeed and be the best ME possible.
A FRIEND is someone that feels compassion and empathy for those around them; willing to take a stand and speak their mind if they see that someone is being hurt emotionally or physically.
A FRIEND is someone that shows me by their actions that they care.
What does being a FRIEND mean to you? I hope you all will share your thoughts in the comment section below …