My Issue with Black History Month

As the mother of a second-grader in the middle of February, I am noticing a few things I dislike about how Black History Month is addressed in schools.

This month, he brought home some worksheets about various different historical figures, such as Harriet Tubman and Jackie Robinson.  Together, we helped answer the questions together about them.  He felt a connection to Harriet Tubman because she is also from Maryland (to an 8-year-old that is relatable).  But there was something missing from his homework.

Context.

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Among Other Things: Happy Half-Hours

Among other things, the bulk of my days are spent on freelance writing/editing, household chores, and child-related activities. It’s these other things that seem to make or break my days.  They are often ME moments I spend relaxing or doing something that I enjoy.

It’s easy to say you should find your happy, but it’s MUCH harder in practice to find the time, energy, and motivation for these activities. Here are a couple of ways I find my happy, but you do whatever works for YOU!

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Olympic Facts for Your Friday

Here are some interesting Olympics facts for your final Friday of the 2018 Winter games.  Why? Because the Olympics are awesome!

Image Credit: The Olympic Rings in Sochi, 2014. PHOTO: Chris Wellhausen

The Music

The renowned American composer, John Williams, has been a composer for Olympic music since 1984.  His 1996 piece “Bugler’s Dream and Olympic Fan” can be heard on NBC during coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.  Williams  has composed music for four different Olympics (1984, 1988, 1996 and 2002).  He is also well-known for some of the most recognizable film scores, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Jurassic Park.

The Sports

The games this year feature 102 events in 15 different sports.  New events added in 2018 include:

  • Big Air Snowboarding
  • Mass-Start Speed Skating
  • Mixed Doubles Curling
  • Mixed Team Alpine Skiing

The Host “City”

The IOC typically selects a host city about 7 years prior to the games.   PyeongChang, South Korea (pronounced Pee-Yung-Chong NOT Pee-Yong-Chang) won the bid over cities in Germany and France.  The 2018 games represents the first time that South Korea has hosted the Winter Olympics (they hosted the 1988 Summer games in Seoul).  PyeongChang actually refers to the county, rather than a city.  The majority of the games are actually being held in Daegwallyeong-myeon (mountain events) and Gangneung (ice events).

The Torch Relay

Although not a highlight of the games, one of the things I loved about the 2018 Winter Olympics is their very symbolic and unique torch relay.  According to wikipedia, “there were 7,500 torch bearers to represent the Korean population of 75 million people. There were also 2018 support runners to guard the torch and act as messengers.”  I love how they represented their nation in this unique way. I also loved the various different ways they used to transport the torch, including a zip wire, cable car, turtle ship, robots,  and steam train!

The Athletes

Pita Taufatofua – While most people recognize him as the shirtless flag-bearer from Tonga, I was impressed by his appearance for another reason.  Despite living in a tropical nation with no snow, Taufatofua (who competed in taekwondo at the 2016 Summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) switched to cross-country skiing.  He managed to qualify for the 2018 Winter games on the final day of the qualification period.

Adam Rippon – Not only does this figure skater have his own signature move, dubbed the “Rippon Lutz”, he is also the first openly gay U.S. male athlete to win a medal at the Winter Olympics (bronze in the 2018 team event).  He is also an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights and against quiet starvation in athletics.

Askel Lund Svindal –  After a skiing accident in 2016, Svindal damaged his knee and underwent surgery on it in January 2017.  Despite these setbacks, Svindal became his Norway’s first downhill gold medallist at the 2018 games, and at the age of 35 he is the oldest man to win an alpine skiing gold. 

Vincent Zhou – At age 17, he’s the youngest American competing at the 2018 winter games.  During his short program, he landed a quad lutz. A quad lutz is the most difficult move currently recognized as achievable! Nobody before him has ever successfully landed one at the games before.

One Month Ago Today

A month ago today, I quit my job to stay-at-home.  It’s been both exactly what I expected and not what I expected at all.

So far, my schedule has been pretty erratic.  I’d like to think that’s just because I haven’t established a routine, but mostly I haven’t had a chance to start to form one.  The last four weeks have been a mixture of inconsistencies between the schedule for the family and my own work. 

I’d like to hope that a typical schedule will gradually develop, but I am starting to think that anything resembling an average week went out the window a month ago.

For now, it’s just playing it by ear and see how things go.

 

Intelligence

When I was a child, intelligence meant one thing: good grades.  If you didn’t get them, your parents likely had “words with you” about your performance as a student.  After my son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with language impairments and borderline intellectual impairments, I started rethinking the world of IQ and Intelligence.

IQ (or Intelligence Quotient) is a standardized test mean to assess human intelligence.  It’s also used to determine if an individual has an intellectual disability.  Sounds simple, right?

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Chemistry and Autism 

The terms used to describe autism are often deceptive.  Disorder, Deficit, Impairments.  These words imply that the autistic brain is wired incorrectly, rather than wired differently.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is defined as a neurological disorder.  ASD is identified by deficits (or non-typical levels) in social interaction, along with restrictive/repetitive behaviors.  ASD may or may not include language impairments, mental impairments, or genetic factors.

For some individuals with autism, these terms are important, because they help them to obtain much-needed services and support.  However, for many people, they become hurdles to social integration and acceptance in a world where they are already struggling with social communication.

Illustration by Kevin Ruelle

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The Stuff I Never Did

When you work full-time, you quickly learn to prioritize chores and errands.  If  you’re like me, what you can’t squeeze in during the limited evening and weekend hours, gets shoved on a list of “Stuff I’ll Maybe Get to One Day When I Have More Time”.

My closets, cupboards, and garage have spent the last 9 years accumulating stuff.  Occasionally, I would find a couple hours to clear out some clutter or reorganize, but rarely enough to put a dent in the projects.

But now that I have time, I can finally get around to some of the stuff I never did.

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On the Other Hand: A Lesson in Perspective

The way we view life and the world around us is unique to our experiences and personality.   It’s hard to remember and make the concentrated effort to change our perspective, but if we can manage it the results can be more than worth the effort.

It’s both as simple and as complicated as changing our dominant hand.  Only about 1% of people are naturally ambidextrous.  Many people, such as myself, can write legibly with both hands, but writing with the non-dominant hand often feels unnatural and takes more effort.  Most people can train themselves to use both hands, but this too takes a concentrated effort.

One of the pitfalls of being in the majority (in this case right-handedness) is that you forget about the minority (about 12% of people are lefties).  This allegory can apply to many perspective issues and has taught me to rethink the way I approach the world.

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A Poor Hand Well-Played: The Moments that Define Us

Let’s face it. In life, people rarely get dealt a great hand to play.  In most cases, if you end up with a semi-decent collection of cards, you thank your lucky stars and make the best of it.  It’s never all good chances and circumstances or all bad ones, but learning how to make the best of a tough situation in life is not just a survival technique…

They are the moments that define us.

One thing I always remember when I am dealt a poor hand, is that…

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The Intentionally Unemployed

Today marked my last day at the office.  I am now intentionally unemployed.  Considering I have been working almost 18 years straight, stopping work feels somewhat unnatural.

Even though I cleaned out my desk and turned in my key, it still feels a bit unreal to me.