What Bullying Has Shown Me About Racism

by holli on July 7, 2016

My son came home from school and asked me why a classmate would say that how he used his pencil was gay. This happened in his class at an alternative public school. This happened at a school known as all-inclusive and community oriented.

This was one incident where I had to explain to my 9-year-old that he was being insulted. He’s a logical kid, and didn’t get it, because being gay has nothing to do with how you hold your pencil. And, it doesn’t seem like something you’d be called as an insult, it just didn’t make sense.

And, sadly, this school year, this wasn’t the only incident. He was called other names. He was told he couldn’t play games with a group of kids on the playground by a leading bully. He was taunted. He was told he’d be killed.

He asked me why, when he was shoved “accidentally” by the bully at recess, the bully was sent directly to the Principal’s office, but never after one of the more than dozen times he was taunted, or called names by the same boy. Why was it only when it got physical that any consequences happened?

I got mad, sad, overwhelmed, emotional. I worked hard to educate myself and my son about bullying and how to stand up for yourself. I knew that bullying was a problem in our schools, but I didn’t really KNOW it until it happened to my son. Yes, I had heard about one or two other families who had experienced it at our school, but I assumed it was just in that one class.

So, I dug in. I worked with not only my son, but also the Teacher and the Principal. I wrote a short article about how parents can help their kids navigate bullying at our school, and it starts with reporting it. Without working within the system of accountability in our school, bullying is a cycle that keeps going. And you know what? I worked aware that the other kid needed help too.  He got the support he needed to learn how to be a better friend.  He just didn’t know how to get there on his own. Yes, kids should be accountable for their actions, but they also need guidance, not just punishment.

Now, I cannot say that the problem will be better next school year. But, I can say that I am going to show up. Even if my kid isn’t suffering with a bully in his classroom anymore, I’m ready to dig in and not shrug my shoulders, thankful that it’s over for my kid.

This is what I think of when I feel overwhelmed by the growing list of shootings happening in America today. A problem exists. A system is broken. And, yet we do not know it until it happens to our son, or our brother.

Interestingly enough, a friend shared recently about how another parent was so happy that her niece graduated middle school at our alternative public school, and during graduation all of the kids had warm fuzzy feelings to share about being accepted and not bullied. I really didn’t know what to say to that. Good for her, the girl who wasn’t bullied. I’m glad her classes and experiences were so positive. But, that does not mean that bullying doesn’t exist at our school.

Our experience this school year is not comparable to racism. This is just one example of how I have learned that a problem can seem invisible until you experience it yourself. 

When I read reports on the news and then the commentary that is shared on social media, I see this same thing happening with racism. A problem exists. Racism has been part of America since it’s founding. It is far more complicated than bullying. We’ve made some progress for equality for all, but we’re still not there yet. And, part of the problem is that we do not know what to do. Often, we do not think a problem exists unless it happens to us.

We can start by showing up. We can start by understanding how the system works. We can start by not dismissing someone because they appear to be over-sensitive. We can agree that this isn’t working for anyone, anymore.

For me, I’m going to keep working on helping our school become a bully free zone as some of the banners on the walls announce. Because, it exists, and will keep on existing if I shrug my shoulders and sigh relief that we’re through it. We have to change the system to no longer let kids suffer in isolation and fear. But, our school and bullying has some clear changes and outcomes to measure.

The same is not true of racism. It is a complicated, very big problem in the very fiber of our culture. How can we make a difference? We show up. We pay attention. We ask questions. We talk about the hard stuff.  


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When I learned I had the MTHFR gene mutation C677T, I was so happy, because I thought that meant I could take a pill to solve my odd health symptoms. It has been about 3 years since I got my test results. Since then, testing has become more affordable, more research has been done, and popular articles have been published.

Articles like, “Why Some Moms Should Skip Prenatal Vitamins.” Or “How a vitamin cured my anxiety: Elisa Black’s story of lifelong struggle and new hope for the future.” are hard for me to read, because while they do a good job of bringing MTHFR to light, but they don’t dive into the reality that this knowledge and vitamins are not the perfect cure.

The most comments I’ve gotten on my older MTHFR blog posts are asking for specific dosage.  I can share what I’ve been taking, but I want to make it really clear that what works for me may not work for anyone else. This is what I think is key: listen to your body and adjust as needed.

For example, my symptoms of MTHFR haven’t been with depression or miscarriage or birth defects. Mine are very physical with muscle spasms that you could see happening! Once I started to learn more, however, I could see that other health issues like Endometriosis and lack of energy were also related. I had to ask several times to get tested because my body didn’t present quite as clearly as it could have. I’m happy to see more testing becoming available and more health care providers talking about it.

. . . BUT . . .

What I learned is that my body isn’t that simple. I’ve had more blood tests than I’d like in the past 3 years since I was diagnosed with the MTHFR gene mutation. Turns out, I have a lot more mutations, and each one comes with one or more markers that if any one or combo are mutated, means I have more or less likelihood of experiencing certain health problems or symptoms.

I was given a list of those mutation I have one marker for up to the ones I have two of and their associated symptoms (having two means more likelihood of experiencing those health issues). It’s like a menu for my current or future health problems. When I first looked at it, I was filled with dread. I have 10 health problems to look forward to experiencing in my lifetime, I thought.

But, I’m only suffering from 2 of those 10. Gene expression is how our genes actually show up in day to day life, and that applies to mutations too. Science hasn’t caught up to help us understand why yet. We can have a gene mutation with corresponding health issues, but it may not express itself for a while or at all.

So, for example, I should have seasonal allergies. But, I do not suffer from them. And, I should have crippling anxiety. But, I do not. Both may show up any day in the future, though. Having my gene mutation list means that I’ll have specific areas to keep an eye on my health, and know that there’s help if I do start experiencing those.

This is why I keep reading and feel passionate about sharing. The truth is that gene mutations are a wonderful discovery. Unfortunately, some doctors are either dismissing their affects on our lives or they’re claiming to know the solutions, often benefitting from selling “their” supplements. The truth lies somewhere in between, because you can have gene mutations but not experience them. Frankly, science is only able to show us part of the picture.

While this is exciting to know about MTHFR and hear success stories shared far and wide, I feel a sense of responsibility to point out that one vitamin does not cure all.

Case in point: I had been taking Methylated B-vitamins for almost 2 years feeling better overall health until I started getting awful headaches. They weren’t migraines but pretty bad, enough to make me stay home sometimes. Turns out, I had to much good stuff in my system, especially during my monthly cycle. I started taking a week off every month to get rid of the headaches. Now, I take them sparingly depending on how I’m doing. If I take too much, I feel like I’ve had 5 shots of espresso and that isn’t fun.

Let’s keep sharing, and remember the most important thing is to listen to your body.

To good health,


p.s. To read more about my MTHFR journey and my family here you go, in chronological order:

I Am Not SuperMan, I Have A Gene Mutation – yay, more energy!

What I Learned From 23 And Me – helpful, mostly a review from 2014, and I’m sure they’ve made some changes to their tests since then.

Learning about Arsenic In My Son’s Body – turns out that having the MTHFR mutation reduced my son’s body from eliminating those, but after getting the right vitamins in his system, they cleared out!

MTHFR and the Light Bulb Lesson: Poison? At the time, we didn’t yet know that the right vitamins would help our son’s body eliminate Mercury and Lead, but it did with some natural chelating support as well.

The Danger of Just Enough Information: MTHFR Gaining Attention – my most recent blog post saying mainly what I say in this post again.

And, yes, I want to share about about how the genes have been passed down to my kids. More to come.




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I Was Wrong

January 27, 2016

Tonight my eyes burn from exhaustion. It’s one of my longest days of the week where I’ve had to be “on” all day – you know, presentable to adults at a meeting at 7:45am, then chauffeuring my Girl Scout, then rushing home to cook a dinner from scratch and put them to bed almost on […]

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Mommy, You Should Write A Book!

December 13, 2015

At dinner this evening, my daughter said I should write a book called “The Mother’s Story,” so I could share the ways I’ve learned to be a mother for her when she grows up. She is seven, and doesn’t really understand that Motherhood feels like an evolving series of tests. Or that I don’t have […]

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