Didn’t Need to See That, Butt I Did

Every morning that I’m not working, I turn on NBC Channel 4 News from Washington DC. I don’t sit down to watch it, but I’ll catch bits of news as I’m wandering in and out of the living room, occasionally stopping to watch a segment. Well, there was one this morning that really bugged me. And since I have a blog–you get to read about it! And feel free to comment.

“Bicyclist accused of grabbing, slapping women’s buttocks as he rides past them,” we learned. The news program showed a 3-second footage of the accused riding beneath a surveillance camera on a bicycle. They never stopped the footage so viewers could actually try to identify the stupid kid (looks like a teen). For the record, I hope they find him. He deserves the misdemeanor sexual abuse charge he faces, and perhaps he’ll have a spiritual awakening that’ll change his current life trajectory.

But (and that’s a pun, in this case), then the news program showed footage of random women walking–from the waist up, from the rear view, most of them in shorts. I guess they had to do this just in case you wondered what women’s buttocks might have looked like to the offender. Maybe just in case you couldn’t quite picture this offender’s target. Maybe to make sure you knew that if you are walking like this and you have a butt, you might be his next target.

I’m so glad they cleared that up for us.

Subsequently, I spent more time seeing the backsides of women than I did seeing the little sh– on a bicycle. Thank you, NBC, for the education.

Have you ever seen news programs that chose asinine footage to make a point? Please share!

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50 States Project Report Out

I am very happy to report back on our family’s 50-State project we did this summer. If you recall from a previous post, 50 State Investment, this summer we set out on an ambitious culinary journey through the states. While my youngest was learning the states and filling out her blank map, my middle daughter was learning the capitals, and my oldest (to keep her involved) was looking up celebrities from each state (who knew rapper Wiz Khalifa was from North Dakota?). But to really appreciate the states individuality, we ate an iconic dish or food from each state. We even learned a bit of history or culture behind the dishes, which made me like the food even more.

And . . . we finished on time!!!!!

We ate our way through every state! Honestly, it was a lot of work trying to plan five states every week and finding the best recipes to use, although some items we were able to buy. I mostly stuck to the original list, but there were a couple of changes, usually based on time constraints. Sorry, Michigan, we didn’t get any pasties while we were there, and they are a pain in the butt to make, so we went with ginger ale floats called Boston Coolers (ironically), which took a whopping two minutes. And they’re good! And sorry, Washington, I am not Martha Stewart enough to make honey-lavender ice cream. I mistakenly thought it would be simple. Silly me.

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Fresh Start

I love new beginnings, fresh starts, blank pages, clean slates, yada, yada. For me, the best new beginning is not New Years, although it has its benefits, and a New Year’s resolution successfully helped me develop the habit of flossing. But my favorite new beginning is the first day of school!

Hurray! Parents rejoice! Kids are clean and sporting new duds. Pencils are sharpened. Backpacks are organized, not yet full of crinkled papers they were supposed to give you a week ago. Lunches were packed with positive attitudes. Gym clothes smell good and haven’t yet been abandoned in stinky gym lockers for two weeks. Alarm clocks get respect in the morning (this might even last a week!). And the kids even cleaned their bedrooms for the occasion.

I envy these kids with their fresh start to a new, memorable school year. New classes, new books, new teachers, sometimes a new school, then a whole new semester in just a few months. As adults, it doesn’t seem like we have as many of these refreshing experiences built into our calendar, and if we do, we have to work to make them happen. And some fresh starts are downright stressful, such as relocating or making major life changes. But perhaps we can generate some fresh starts in our lives in less stressful ways. We can take a class, take on a new work project, reorganize a workspace, start a new hobby, redecorate a room, write a new book (yeah), and set fresh, new goals.

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Improve Your Brain–Now, Preferably

Every once in a while, the funny, sarcastic Emily has to be quiet and let the important, serious Emily write about more important, serious things. For instance, when I learn something that I can’t stop thinking about, I want to share what I learned. Maybe you’ll learn something too!

(And then I sound like a kindergarten teacher, apparently).

I picked up the 2018 December issue of Discover Magazine at the library, curious to read the front page article, “Alzheimer’s Under Attack,” by Linda Marsa. I started to read the article on my own, but it was so intriguing, I decided it was best to read it aloud to my husband, so he could (cough, cough) learn how to prevent this debilitating disease that so many people suffer from. Currently, 5.7 million Americans have the disease, yet this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million by 2050. Last year, Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost the nation $277 billion dollars. And between 2000 and 2015, death from Alzheimer’s increased 123%.

Ouch.

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Adulting

I don’t like the word adulting. Look! As I’m typing, it’s not even recognized by my spellcheck–let’s reject it altogether, huh? Toss the word out with other nonsense words like impactful and Xennials.

The word adulting, which is not a new word, has been more widely used in the last few years thanks to social media and marketing ploys. In 2016, Digiday reported the use of the word adulting was up to 80,000 times per month. Presumably many of those were accompanied with a hashtag. The word is a gerund–a noun behaving as a verb–and is used to describe the  expected adult tasks and behavior, such as holding a job, cleaning your house, preparing food, remembering appointments, and other basic responsibilities.

But most of the time the word is used as if some people don’t want to be an adult, can’t be an adult, haven’t learned how to be an adult, are exhausted being an adult, or in a way that suggests adulthood is horrible, mundane, or distracting from what you really want to do. It also tends to mean that life skills are something to be extraordinarily proud of, like I went to work on time!

I don’t see it used to describe someone who is taking steps in faith, pursuing a dream, enjoying being a parent, or thriving in their career. Of course, being happy or well-balanced in life doesn’t lend itself to the cute and funny memes that you get your friends to like. I know! They are adorable! And posting them makes a statement that produces a feeling that everyone identifies with–who would rather not have responsibilities and go back to life as a kid, at least once in a while? Well, you can! #kidding.

But at the end of the day, just like my husband who despises the word chillax, I can’t get rid of the word, but I can teach my kids how to use it in this house, or preferably not to use it. After all, I am the adult here. I’m making a deliberate decision and setting an example and making a point without even getting paid for it. How’s that for adulting?

What about you, readers? What do you think about adulting? When you hear the word adulting, do you feel anything?

Mental Health Days (one of the things that make me go hmmm)

 

This morning, I gathered my two oldest kids and my husband to come watch a segment on the Today Show because I knew it would spark conversation in our house. Teen activists successfully lobbied for the Oregon School Board to approved “mental health days” for students. According to the report, the difference is that mental health days are treated like sick days, of which they are allowed 5 days off every 3 months without disciplinary repercussions.

Oh my gosh.

I have to say I’m not a mental health expert, not a child psychiatrist, psychologist, behavioral therapist or otherwise. I am a concerned citizen. I am a mom and a nurse who knows a bit about the 25% of adults who have mental health disorders and know that multiple sources say adolescents are experiencing mental health at higher rates, some suggest above 30%.

The premise of this movement was to allow kids to call their absence a mental health day, to remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders. Okay. Fine. You can see if that works. But I like Florida’s system better where they will be providing mental health education for students. Although if you don’t educate parents, you aren’t going to get very far. But at least it’s a positive response to our social crisis and maybe can identify and help kids who are suffering and need to learn how to cope with stress and triggers—not stop at identifying a problem, but provide solutions.

And I understand that we all need days to focus on mental health, even those who don’t have a diagnosis. Everyone needs a break—even God rested on the seventh day. That’s what Sundays were supposed to be for—rest and recreation, as in re-creation, spiritually renewed, spiritually ready to face challenges with God throughout our lives. I’m not even saying that I do this—after all, I’m a nurse and weekends are fair game in this career, but I’m pretty sure most school systems in our country don’t operate on the weekends, so kids are off two days a week, yes?

Not to mention holidays, half-days, voting days, teacher work days, Spring Break, Christmas Break, and summer vacation.

The problem here is our society does not value Sundays or days off as they were meant to be valued, to help us renew our strength and bodies to deal with stress and life and school and work. They became days to catch up on all the work that was neglected throughout the week; days for taking kids to their activities; days for entertaining and socializing, which is more work especially for introverts; and for 22% of the population, it’s just another day at work.*** But in the long run, what happens when we don’t take God’s advice to take a day of rest (and spend some time with Him)? Depression? Anxiety? Substance abuse? the list goes on.

Aside from our questionable food supply, our world contamination, our reliance on technology, our distance from nature (and God), and all the other contributors to our mental health, I don’t think we are teaching people (kids and adults) how to cope with stress. When we don’t wire our brains properly when we experience stress, we end up with damage which leads to many diagnoses. We often teach kids how to avoid stress altogether, so when they experience stress they don’t know how to manage. We have hovering parents who won’t let their kids feel disappointed; we have busy/tired parents who stick kids on devices instead of letting them figure out how to entertain themselves; we have well-meaning school staff who take away kick-ball at recess because someone might get hurt; we won’t let our kids out of sight in case they get hurt or approached by a stranger; we’ll offer magical pills that are supposed to work and cure just about everything; and we have redesigned our world to promote comfort and convenience at all times.

What is a mental health day for a teen actually going to look like? Maybe there would be a handful of students who might find a constructive way to benefit, but if they are already struggling, someone reliable and hands-on (hopefully parent and a mental health professional) needs to be seriously involved here. Me, the forever pessimist, sees the more likely picture. How easy would it be for students who are already having a hard time dealing with depression or anxiety to take a day off to now be on their electronic devices (average is now 4 hours a day)*, which may perpetuate the problem, lose a day of instruction, which will lead to more academic problems, vape or use alternative substances for stress relief (now up to 35% of HS seniors)**, which will cause health problems in the long run and will lead to more stress? Plus, this will teach them that they will require mental health days when they are an adult in the real, working world, where, I’m sorry to say, you don’t get to take off 5 days every 3 months. At my current job, if you are full time, you are allowed 3 sick days a year.  I think my husband gets 5. When we were both in the service, if we had asked for a mental health day, we would have been laughed right out of the commander’s office.

And, while I’m on the subject, we don’t get to take an emotional support animal to work either. Although I did have a patient bring one in to the hospital, and I had to chase it down the hallway when it wandered into someone else’s room. #gottalovenursing

I suppose it will be a good test for the Oregon Schools. They can see if this makes a difference, learn from it and continue to address the problem. They do have one of the highest suicide rates in the country, and that is a huge concern. But unless students (and parents) are changing something in their lives and their brain wiring (which is what needs to happen), then the problem won’t go away by taking a day off, no matter what you call it.

 

 

* https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/20/the-way-u-s-teens-spend-their-time-is-changing-but-differences-between-boys-and-girls-persist/

**https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/print/17921-number-of-teens-vaping-hits-record-high-survey-shows

*** https://www.bls.gov/tus/a2_2016.pdf

Mid-Year Check Point

The exact middle of the year is tomorrow, July 2, 183 days into the non-leap year. How does that make you feel? Energized and excited about your 2019 goals or horrified and defeated that you aren’t even close?

Me? a little of both.

I find it rather cruel that the mid-year checkpoint always seems to happen when the kids are out of school and bedtimes keep getting later, so my writing has been reduced to grocery lists and expenses tracking. And the weather is hot, humid, and sticky, so trying to stay motivated with running is an exercise in futility, like trying to keep an ice cream from melting too fast. Every run starts with assuring myself that I can still breathe despite the feeling that I’ve stuck my face into a hot bowl of soup, and every run ends with a bright red face that will linger through lunchtime, which would make a good modern fashion trend in the age of global warming.

Even when the world is trying to keep me up late and cook me alive. there are still goals that have been reached or still in progress. So, here are my mid-year celebrations.

  1. My daughter Carolyn (age 8) got to ride a horse. (okay, so it was only a seven minute, guided excursion, but she was smiling like her dream finally came true.)
  2. We went kayaking this year. (Plus I got to laugh at my husband who managed to steer his kayak underneath someone’s fishing line.)
  3. The girls and I have done 20 states with our 50-state iconic dish project (and a special shout out Gary for the hotdish recipe for Minnesota that the kids absolutely loved and keep asking me to make again).
  4. I’ve read 16 books and watched 13 movies, and all have been written up in my notebook to identify plot points and character arcs, etc. (Perhaps I should say that I’m still behind my original goal of 50 books and 50 movies.)
  5. I’ve done two 5K races, and I’m signed up for a half-marathon in September, which keeps me running in the summer even when I want to die.

And for the second half of the year . . .

I’ll have to contemplate that later, perhaps while I’m assuring myself that people can’t physically melt in July.

So, come on, readers. Where are you in your 2019 goals? Any milestones or celebrations? Any barriers come up?

50 State Investment

I have the privilege of backing off from work over the summer while my girls are out of school. Of course writing is also put on the shelf for the fall, but that, along with anemic paychecks, is an expected trade off. Summer is an enriching time for us as we focus on various projects and preventing the notorious “summer brain drain.” One of the projects, however, has made more work for me than it did the kids, but now I’m invested.

My youngest is learning the 50 states, my middle daughter is learning the capitals, and my oldest (to keep her involved) gets to look up celebrities or famous people from each state, a task she happily does without whining. In order to enhance our learning, I decided to make an iconic dish or food item from each of the states. When we eat the iconic food, we talk about the state, and then they fill out their maps. So far we’ve done ten, and we’re going to try to fit them all in before mid August.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I thought this was the Mom-of-the-Year project for sure. I just didn’t think about the research, the prep time, and the cleanup time, and with two out of the three being picky eaters, I also have to tread carefully so as to not waste time, food, or money. Sorry, Delaware, these kids won’t touch your Scrapple, and South Carolina, you can keep your collard greens. And Minnesota, are you kidding me with Morel mushrooms? I would have to go to the rich people grocery store for that only to see my kids make grossed out faces while they dissect them, so really not happening.

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