When Will It Stop?


We’ve seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge go viral over the last two weeks on social media; people happily dumping buckets of ice water over their heads to raise money for a worthy cause. During this same period of time, Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri and protests have continued in that city and around the country. In the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown, may we engage thoughtfully and critically in examining the situation in Ferguson and stand together on the side of justice and equality?

We need to make empowering choices to actively plan how to take actions that will dismantle injustice when it happens in America. So here’s a #FergusonChallenge:

Share a story about how the events in Ferguson have resonated with you, and then donate to an organization that promotes underserved youth, racial justice, and/or police accountability.

Here a story that resonates with TURNING STONEchoice. It is one of the Letters to the Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch titled When Ferguson Hits Home August 21, 2014

I never thought I would be living so close to conflict. If I jumped on the highway and zoomed down a few exits, I’d be visiting Ferguson. We are that close, yet we are so far away. Our entire city and country has become focused on what is, and even more alarming, what is not happening in a town within our town. Yet we attempt to put distance between our neighborhoods, just like we attempt to say what’s happening in the Middle East is happening “over there.” Well, folks, “over there” just came to our backyards, and it is madly screaming for our attention.

None of us know the whole story of the incident that led to this massive turmoil my neighbors are embracing without choice. I grieve with every single person involved in this story. There is not one person who is unaffected by this tragedy, including those of us who attempt to drown out the sirens because it’s happening “over there.” It’s “here,” people. The world is watching us, and most importantly our children are silently observing every step we take.

I wonder what would happen if we embraced all those who were hurting tonight, and realized that grieving is actually taking place on both sides of the police line. What if we all held ourselves accountable and allowed each other to take a deep breath when confusion, fear or anger sets in to release a potential breath of hope? I wonder if we’d find peace.

Jen McCurdy  •  St. Louis County

The choice is yours to empower your children and help guide them through purposeful and empowering choice making to help end intolerance and create a peaceful world.

As TURNING STONEchoice always teaches children and adults in our communities, and as the writer of this letter suggests, the first thing we must do is to take that “breath of hope”.

Michael Brown

ACLU of Missouri Foundation: http://www.aclu-mo.org/get-involved/
Amnesty International: http://www.amnestyusa.org/donate-to-amnesty
Ferguson Youth Initiative: http://fyifergyouth.org/
Ferguson Bail Fund: http://antistatestl.noblogs.org/…/bail-and-legal-fund…/
Or buy an “I Am Human” tee-shirt to support protestors on the ground: http://teespring.com/IAMHUMANDONTSHOOT

Gone Too Soon!


Ending a life is incredibly, incredibly tragic. It represents a lost battle with mental illness. Where it is different is that suicide is a choice. Suicide is a terrible decision made by someone whose pain is so great that they can no longer hold it, and feel they have no other option in life but to end it. They forget all the wonderful things in their lives because they are so consumed by the depression and by the feelings of not being worthy. It’s a decision you can’t take back, and a decision that will affect your friends and family forever. It is not taken lightly.

Losing a person to suicide may feel like a waste. For someone looking in, it does seem like a waste—especially in the case of Williams, who was a brilliantly funny man and a talented actor. People who are severely depressed can’t see past their failures, even if they’ve been successful. Life, however, is never wasted. Williams did things in his life that touched people to their core.

About 90% of people who commit suicide have some kind of mental illness that goes untreated or undertreated.

The national suicide prevention lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Depression and Suicide Resources

American Foundation for Suicide

About Teen Depression

Depression Fact Sheet

Youth Depression

Talking with Kids About the News


Signs of Positive Self-Esteem

As we work to understand ourselves and our children, we should strive to make choices that help us achieve long term success and self-fulfillment. When we have positive self-esteem, we can better understand:

  • The reality of our personal abilities and limitations.
  • The importance of understanding that we do not live within a vacuum and must interact rather than react to others.
  • The knowledge of when we are being influenced emotionally by past events which may cloud our judgment in a new situation.
  • The reality that ultimately we only have control of ourselves and no one else, not even our children.

Ultimately, when you have positive self-esteem, you understand the reality of your choice making and are able to maintain an attitude that with careful consideration will allow you to supplement and compliment your efforts and overcome challenges.

MIL_277x277_0006_middle_school~TURNING STONEchoice


Get Your Head in the Clouds


Ever been worn down to the nub, feeling your metaphorical pencil is no longer sharp, your point is really nonexistent, yet, somehow, you keep on functioning, not very effectively, in a state of pointlessness? I think it’s difficult to remain fresh and sharp, constantly in the zone. People of all walks of life get burned out from living life–be it school, work, or worthy causes. Even family and friends can wear you down. It’s hard to keep it all together, isn’t it? We all need a break or a charge to keep us moving forward with the daily responsibilities set before us.

Some of us are completely unaware of the need to take it easy or recharge our spirits, because getting burned out sneaks up on us slowly, if we don’t learn to recognize the signs we may end up with a joyless life. There are many forms of burnout: physical, mental, emotional; and all of them can wreak havoc on our person. The good news is most of what is taking us to the depths can be changed through simple choices–choices that brighten the person we are on the inside. For some, that could be spending time dancing in the kitchen to loud music, having lunch with a friend, or reading a book in one sitting. I believe we, as a society, get so hung up on productivity and accomplishments that, in the name of productivity, we ignore and turn our backs on the things that bring us joy.

Interestingly, the one complaint I hear most from adults is that they, myself included, are so tired. If we make a conscious effort to engage daily in the things that bring us joy, I wonder if we would feel as beat as we do.

Children, too, are not immune to fatigue and burnout. The rigors of school, homework, packed after-school schedules, and back to school again, can take a toll on a little life that might just need to take a breath and make a paper airplane, spill Legos all over the floor, or pick blades of grass and look at cloud animals in the sky.

Do you remember the last time you gazed into the sky seeking a rabbit? Don’t have time for that? Maybe taking the time to choose a joy builder will give you the extra jump to accomplish the next mundane task you have. Making joy a priority in our lives is an empowering choice toward living a worthwhile life.

I could list the signs of burn-out and list the ways to bring joy into life but I believe most of us are living burned out lives and what brings joy to one person isn’t exactly the spirit lifter for another. I will simply ask, do you feel tired, fatigued, hitting the wall, beat, exhausted? Then perhaps it is time to embrace some simple joys and get our heads back in the clouds.

Enjoy spring break!

For more information about our programs for parents and educators please follow http://www.turningstonechoice.com





Whoo-Hoo! Today is the official first day of SPRING! It may be frigid and . . . snow might fall down on us, again, but, March 20th is the day that marks a new season, a new beginning or rebirth. It’s been a rough winter, hasn’t it?

I look forward to the mild weather, the sounds of neighborhood children playing outside, breathing in fresh air, stretching chilled and tight muscles and soaking up sun rays that were hiding behind winter’s gloomy sky.

There is something about Spring that brings an inner smile to the spirit and a sense of calm. Could be Spring, also known as, Vernal Equinox is the time when the sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator, making night and day approximately equal length all over the earth. In one word there is a balance in our world.

This could be the perfect time to reflect upon one’s personal balance with all of the choices afforded to each of us daily. New Year’s Day may mark the beginning of a new calendar year and repeated failed resolutions but Spring gives us a motivating edge with new adventures and possibilities.

I’m thinking it may be time to smell the flowers. What will you take the time to think through?

Happy Spring!
Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Daughter vs. Parents

Did you hear the one about the 18-year-old daughter suing her parents for child support and college money? Unfortunately, no punch-line – I thought it was a joke, some kind of spoof. I mean, who sues their parents in broad daylight? Not to say that some children shouldn’t take their parents to court for crimes committed against them. The courts are filled with those horrifying cases.

Rachael Canning, an 18-year-old, New Jersey high school student, has taken her parents to civil court with charges of emotional abuse and abandonment and is seeking money for her private school and college tuition. Her parents claim no abuse has ever occurred, that Rachael simply refused to respect house rules, and that she left their home on her own accord.

This case has the full attention of New Jersey’s legal community, as well as parents across the nation, due to the possible ripple effect. A favorable ruling for Rachael could establish a precedent setting forth further parental responsibilities toward children of legal age no longer living at home. Such a ruling would encourage similar lawsuits against parents by children who feel entitled to certain amenities and would add to the workload of our already overburdened court system.

It is quite easy to have the knee jerk reaction to such an event, especially if you are a parent (personally I did). The comments and posts have slammed Rachael as a spoiled-rotten child, filled with a sense of entitlement. Yet, the question remains: Who sues their parents? A hurting person lashing out and making decisions based on pain and wounds without a critical thought process taken place or a time of reflection and consideration of other people. Rachael, herself, has admitted in an email to her parents, “I’m my biggest enemy and do realize that a change has to be made.” The abrupt moment from childhood to adulthood is filled with enormous challenges, and our youth are completely unprepared to make effective choices that define adulthood. We cram the abc’s into their heads and hearts with fun carefree songs but as a society we hardly lay the foundation to developing empowering choices.

On the other hand, we should not simply assume that Rachael’s accusations are false. After all, victims of abuse must summon a huge amount of courage to come forth and speak up, and there are too many people in this world who have been abused and ignored because the evidence was not verified. Yet, if the accusations are, indeed, false, then we come back to a young woman who is hurting and in need of help.

Any way you look at this case, it is disturbing and warrants a dialogue on resources for families struggling with conflict and challenges that land them in court.

Share your thoughts and resources.

Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Express Your “Self”


It takes a great deal of creativity when teaching and parenting children. Simple, adult logic just isn’t going to get the job done, and, if you’ve been in this game for any amount of time, you know what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate to the classroom or the dinner table. Out of sheer frustration, I created my alter ego, “Isabella,” a feisty, French, world traveler who flew in one day when Mommy had heard the word “Mommy” one too many times. Unlike Mommy, Isabella addressed the children in a French-ish accent and would even tell them if their actions were “stoopid”. I mean Mommy never wielded that word for fear of bruising their self-confidence. On the other hand, Isabella was free to call it as she saw fit and didn’t feel the need to jump to their rescue or fulfill their constant requests. She often told them, “Get it yourself” [insert French accent]. The crazy thing is the kids absolutely loved her and would ask when Isabella was coming for another visit. She would share her adventures in countries where Mommy has never been, the unique people she met, the food she enjoyed, and where she was going next (sneaky geography and cultural lessons.). She was fun! Unaffected by tantrums, she would actually leave if one occurred. This, in turn, would disappoint the children, and they would ask nicely if Isabella would come back. Now, before you freak out with an assumption of a multiple-personality disorder, relax. Who knew all of my earlier years of acting would pay off? I enjoyed Isabella and learned from her, too. Understanding my children proved to be more competent than I realized. They were willing to listen when having a conversation with Isabella—unlike constant directives from Mommy. Isabella hasn’t visited in a while, and the kids have gotten older, but I smile when I hear them say, “Remember when Isabella . . .. ” She allowed a greater freedom of choice for the kids than Mommy did. I guess, sometimes, we need to go outside of ourselves a bit to embrace our creativity, the spice of choice. When we embrace creativity with our students and children, who knows what intriguing persona might just fly in for a visit?
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com