How many people have to die to suicide in order for us to do something about it? Change the way we treat others? Change the way we think? Change the way we talk about someone else? When I first moved to Nashville and encountered a lot of not-so-nice people, my Mom made me promise to myself that no matter what I went through, or how mean other people were to me, to never let that change who I am. To never let it harden my heart and become like them. To always rise above it and stay who I am. It’s hard sometimes, trust me. When someone is talking about you, undermining you, laughing at you, treating you like dirt—it’s hard not to want to “get back” at them. It’s hard to stay soft and not fight back. But, there’s a difference between fighting back and being hard. Being hard means hardening your heart and closing yourself off to everyone…even the good people. I have been both soft and hard, and let me tell you something—being soft is so much nicer. It may not always be easier, but it’s so much more calm and peaceful. There’s something about being hard that made me feel gross. Lost. Crabby. Insensitive. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to be a doormat and let everyone walk all over you. No. What I’m saying is stand up for yourself, speak your truth, be exactly who you are (even if that’s a hot mess—which I can totally be), but keep your heart soft. Keep your smile warm. Your thoughts peaceful. Recognize who truly wants you around for YOU, and not for using you. And be kind. One of my favorite quotes is: “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” It’s true; every single one of us has a battle we’re fighting—big or small. We all have one. There isn’t one person on this Earth that isn’t. Stop judging someone you don’t even know. And even when you do get to know them, stop judging them! We live in a society where there are TV shows promoting gossiping (I’m guilty of loving one of them, I’ll admit), getting revenge, changing your body—heck, even swapping families for a while. When there is a wholesome show out there based on family, it’s so refreshing and feels so good. Best dressed. Worst dressed. Biggest success. Biggest failure. What’s the point?! Seriously…it may give us something to talk about for a while, but what message does that send kids? Bullying happens in many different forms, and from many different sources/reasons. But, some of it happens because of what kids witness adults doing and saying. Sometimes I’ve seen worse bullying between adults than between children. When is it going to stop? Will it ever stop? Honestly, I’m tired of hearing about another person taking their own life due to bullying. It makes me sick. It’s not “cool” to treat someone so horribly that they end their life. A HUMAN LIFE. Can you fathom that? An actual human being—gone. They will never go to prom. Have their first boyfriend/girlfriend. First heartbreak. Graduation. No more birthdays. No more holidays. Dreams will never be accomplished. They will never get to plan their wedding with their Mom. Instead, their Mom will be planning their funeral and blaming herself for not seeing the signs and helping. She will spend years in counseling trying to learn how to forgive herself. Their family will grieve for years. They lost a son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, grandson, granddaughter, niece, nephew, friend. The person taking their own life doesn’t only affect them, it affects every single person around them. For the rest of their lives. I ask this question a lot, but I’m going to ask it again. You always have a choice—would you rather make someone’s day with a smile and/or kind word? Or would you rather break someone’s day with a nasty word? It’s always your choice. A nasty word could be their final straw. A smile could save their life. Which one would you rather be responsible for? Think about it. Talk about it. Maybe it will help to encourage you to be kind. Thanks for listening, friends.