Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Message From 1987: Live Every Year to the Fullest

Going through some old scrapbooks I found a type-written speech I gave to the Melbourne High School Class of 1987. A nice reminder from 17 year-old-me to 40-something me.


Good afternoon. My name is Brooke Deratany and this year it has been my pleasure to serve as President of the Student Body.

After 13 years of schooling, we have finally arrived at the day when it all starts paying off. Today is perhaps our greatest day yet. It is one filled with pride, relief, and eager anticipation. Friends, whether or not the reality has struck yet, today is the day we stand a little taller and take a great step forward, as we actually graduate from Melbourne High School.

Many of us became acquainted in kindergarten as we began our journey through the Brevard County School System. Still more of us met at one point or another as we proceeded in our quest for the better understanding and brighter future that only an education can provide. It does not matter in which state or country you began your journey. What is more important is the fact that today we are all here together to share in the glory of reaching our destination.

In my opinion, the greatest characteristic of humankind is individuality. Every person in this room has characteristics, attitudes, and feelings unique to him or herself. Even so, I know there is one feeling that all of us share today, whether we are a graduating senior, parent, teacher, or administrator. We all share that feeling of pride. And why shouldn't we? Getting to this point took a group effort, and everyone here must have done something right, or we would not be assembled here today. Allow yourselves to feel that pride and smile, because you certainly deserve it.

I know I speak for every Senior here when I say, "Thank you." Thank you to the loving parents, family members, and friends; to the superior educators, wise administrators, and overworked counselors. Growing up can be pretty scary, but with all of you there to guide us and support us, the Melbourne High School Class of 1987 can say, "I made it! I'm here. I'm ready to take charge of the rest of my life, and be the best I can be!" Yes, you have made this day possible.

And fellow Seniors, we can make a difference in this world. Think about it, we are the future. That's a pretty big responsibility, but I know we can do it and whatever your goals may be, whatever your dreams entail, reach for the stars. And as you climb and stretch and reach, never forget one thing -- be happy. Because when it comes right down to it, happiness is the most important thing in this world. You know, there are so many wonderful things on this earth, especially when you live in a free country. It baffles the mind to ponder the innumerable opportunities to obtain success and happiness. Do you realize that you could go on learning for the rest of your life and still never know everything? Do not let the high school diploma you are about to receive be an end of that learning. Instead, let it be a beginning, a foundation on which to build your future happiness.

It has been said that the teenage years are the best years of one's life. Granted, these years have been pretty great. But don't for even a moment think that the greatness is over. You see, far too many people waste their lives wishing they were another age, or living at another time. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with remembering the good old times or looking forward to what the future will bring, in fact, I encourage these pleasant thoughts. What I am saying is you should keep in mind that every year has its greatness, and if you spend your whole life wishing you were older or younger, you'll miss out on the fun of being the age you are. I challenge you to live every year of your lives to its fullest; to savor the beauty of each moment, and appreciate its uniqueness and fine qualities. If you do this, my friends, you will have found the key to that happiness I know you all seek.

I want to thank all of you for sharing these past years with me. They hold memories I know we will all treasure for the rest of our lives. We've had some good times and made some great friends. We have not only learned historical facts, trig functions, and the proper use of the comma, but also about relationships and life in general. Now, it's time to move on; time to make use of this vast knowledge, time to smile because the world awaits us. I want to wish each and every one of you the best of luck throughout your life. It's only just begun, you know, and it can only be as great as you choose to make it.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Help for Seniors Parenting Again

Are you a senior responsible for raising grandchildren or other relative children?  You are not alone.
According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (“AAMFT”), in the last 30 years, there has been a significant increase in the number of custodial grandparents. The AAMFT estimates that there are approximately 2.4 million grandparents raising 4.5 million children due to such circumstances as the mental or physical illness, death, incarceration, or drug addiction of the parents. See
Worried about making ends meet on a fixed income, their own health issues and the high cost of medical care, it makes sense that many seniors find themselves feeling angry, resentful or overwhelmed with having to deal with the emotional issues and behavioral challenges that raising grandchildren can present.  But there are significant resources and support available for seniors who find themselves again in the role of caregiver, especially here in Brevard County.  
In 1995, Mary Ann Sterling started Grandparents Raising Grandchildren of Brevard, Inc. (“GRG”), a non-profit relative care agency in Rockledge, Florida, after the untimely death of her own daughter left her raising her six-year-old grandson. Ms. Sterling realized she and others in her situation needed help. She created GRG to help families impacted when a person in their family becomes unable or unwilling to care for offspring. GRG provides support and advocates for grandparents and other relative caregivers and their families. According to Ms. Sterling, there are currently over 8,500 children living in relative care families in Brevard County, which she points out is enough to fill ten Brevard County public schools. GRG has on staff lawyers to help families with these issues and facilitates several grandparent support groups throughout Brevard. Learn more at by calling Tel: (321) 631-7776 or by visiting http://www.grandparentsraisinggrandchildren.org.
Statewide, Grandparents and others can call the University of South Florida School of Social Work Kinship Support Center “Warmline” at 1-800-640-6444 or visit http://www.cas.usf.edu/~krisman/ for more assistance. They might also find helpful The Kinship Care Legal Handbook: a Guide for Relative Caregivers found online at http://www.communitypartnershipforchildren.org/zupload/user/kinshipcarelegalhandbook1.pdf.
In addition my work as a divorce, family, and elder mediator at Peaceful Beach Mediation, I volunteer my time with various local organizations dedicated to the strengthening of families in our community.  If I can ever be of service to or a resource for you, please do not hesitate to contact me at (321) 626-2858 or brooke@peacefulbeachmediation.com

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Mediation Helps Seniors and their Adult Children Resolve Differences

The Smith family just can’t agree. Dad (86) likes to spend his day in the poker room at the track. His son, John, is concerned both about how Dad spends his time and Dad’s ability to drive there safely.  John thinks Dad should live in an assisted living facility. But there’s no way Dad’s going to an “old folks home.” Whose life is it anyway? However, Dad wouldn’t mind having his daughter, Mary, care for him at home. After all, she has always been his favorite and she knows just how he likes things done.

But Mary works full time and has three active kids at home. Mary tried to call a home care agency, but Dad doesn’t want “strangers” coming into his house.

John and Mary’s sister, Kathy, insists that she should live with Dad and is hurt that Dad didn’t ask her first. John and Mary don’t agree with Kathy’s lifestyle and are suspicious of her motives for wanting to move in with Dad. The arguments among the family members are getting pretty heated. This family needs help moving forward.

Bring in the Elder Mediator. 

Elder mediation is conducted to help seniors and their adult children resolve conflicts regarding a wide variety of issues such as living arrangements, care-giver issues, long term care, financial, economic, medical, and end-of-life decisions.  A mediator can sit down with Dad, John, Mary, and Kathy and help them find a mutually acceptable plan for Dad’s future.

Elder mediation—like other kinds of mediation—is a voluntary, informal, and confidential process. The mediator helps family members communicate respectfully and effectively and empowers them to keep family decision making in the family, preserving and possibly improving the family relationship, and helping Dad maintain his dignity.

Could a mediator help bring peace to your family?

Brooke Goldfarb, Harvard JD, is a divorce, family, and elder mediator at Peaceful Beach Mediation in Indialantic. She can be reached at 321.626.2858 and brooke@peacefulbeachmediation.com

Senior Spotlight: Helping Your Adult Children Through Divorce

When we personally go through trauma, it can be difficult for us. When our children or grandchildren go through something traumatic, it can be even worse.

On the Social Adjustment Rating Scale developed by Dr. Thomas Holmes and Dr. Richard Rahe of the University of Washington School of Medicine, divorce is one of the highest-ranking stressful life events, second only to the death of a spouse. Unfortunately, divorce is something that over half of married people go through at some point in their life.

As a family mediator, I have guided countless couples through the divorce process. I try to keep them focused on the positive and the future. If there are children involved, I try to help them remember to put the best interests of the children first.

Here is what you can do to help your children and grandchildren through this stressful life transition:

1.     Let your adult child and his or her spouse both know that you are there for them.  Chances are your daughter-in-law or son-in-law developed a special bond with you during their marriage to your child. Especially if he or she was married to your son or daughter a long time, you are probably like a second mother or father to them. In addition to the loss of their marriage, they may very likely be grieving the loss of their relationship with you. Remember that they are the father or mother of your grandchildren and try to maintain the relationship as best as possible.

2.     Although grandparents may not officially have rights in the state of Florida, grandparents do play a very important role in the lives of grandchildren.  Reassure your grandchildren that you and their parents love them very much and will always be there for them even if the living situation has changed. Continue to reach out to your grandchildren any way you can regardless of their parents’ marital status or living situation. It only takes one loving, responsible adult to making a lasting positive impact on a child going through trauma.

3.     Be careful not to speak ill of your former daughter or son-in-law especially in front of the grandchildren. Children identify with their parents so when you insult a parent in front of a child, you insult the child.

4.     Remember that most people most of the time are doing the best they can even though it may seem they are not. Try to not judge them.

5.     Hang in there and don’t be afraid to talk to a trusted friend, counselor or pastor about your own feelings about your child’s divorce. It is a loss for you as well. It’s okay to get the support you need. Encourage your children to do the same.

6.     Unless you suspect domestic violence, severe mental illness, or criminal intent, recommend that your children consider mediation. If a couple is able to go through the divorce process with a mediator, they can save themselves from much financial and psychological damage. Indeed, handling a divorce through the help of a caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable mediator can significantly decrease the stressful impact of this traumatic life event for the couple. Learn more at http://www.peacefulbeachmediation.com/divorce-mediation.html