Currently Happening In My Facebook World

I often laughingly tell people that Facebook highlights have become a steady stream of “isn’t my new grandchild beautiful?” (they always are) and “so sorry to announce that Fluffly has crossed the rainbow bridge” (always sad). We Facebook users are older and grayer than many other social media channels, and it frequently shows.

Prompted by Mama Kat, though, a look at six hot topics in my Facebook world proves there’s more to my Facebook family than birth announcements and goodbyes to beloved pets.

Our Embattled Health Care

While I recognize that the Affordable Care Act is flawed, I also firmly believe The American Health Care Act was in no way a suitable replacement.

Having worked for Florida Healthy Kids for almost 20 years, I became a diehard believer in the power of preventive care, in the potential that can be unlocked if someone thinks out of the box and people with the patience to slog through the mind-numbing details of crafting federal policy and budgets follow up.

This is one of the graphics I received via my fellow advocates at I Stand with Planned Parenthood yesterday and posted to my wall prior to the failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

Facebook Highlights

#StandWithPP is (quoting from them): “A group of social media influencers across platforms – from Twitter to YouTube to blogs – saying together #StandWithPP to ensure that women have access to health care services that range from cancer screenings to birth control.” To join, complete this form.

The Emergence of Female Political Candidates, Especially at the Local Level

When I pulled up the Emerge America site while looking for a stat to use about the number of women entering the political arena (especially local) in the wake of the presidential election, I wanted to act on every single action point of the #WhySheRuns effort to increase the number of women running for office (with the exception of running myself), such as sharing the graphic below immediately.

Facebook Highlights

My belief in the power of women to make a difference locally, at the state level, and nationally (as well as internationally) drove me to donate to my friend Nicolette’s campaign for a seat on the Orange County Commission.

While there are traditional still photos of Nicolette and her awesome family on her campaign Facebook page, this picture, to me, best represents what women can do these days to make a difference: talk to people. Explain how to be a part of government. Overcome fears, objections, inertia. Talk. To people.

Facebook Highlights

Nicolette hosts an advocacy training for the Lake Nona Democrats.

If Our Kids Become Our Parents

Alexandra Samuel posted this to Facebook the other day.

If you knew your kids were actually time travelers who will eventually go back in time and become your parents, how would that change your parenting?

Aaaaaaaaaand I freaked out. I have always said that I imagine I overcompensated in my parenting for the issues that I took to the therapist’s couch, and I imagine that overcompensation in itself will give my kids plenty of material for their own therapeutic relationships.

It’s probably unfair to my kids to delve too deeply into this. For starters, I suspect Tenley would create a much more orderly, clean, environment in which I as a daughter would wear  more monograms and less “wow! doesn’t this quirky piece from Goodwill make you feel unique?” items. With Wayne Kevin as a parent, no one would get all worked up about the thousand and one administrative details of life; we would be too glued to YouTube.

Why Neal’s Mom Should Pay $120 For Great Tennis Shoes

My Facebook friend Neil Kramer asked Facebook Nation for help convincing his mom to indulge in proper footwear:

Please tell my mother that she deserves $120 New Balance sneakers if they are good for her feet.

Sounds like Neil’s mom is has a vein of the same self-sacrificing, frugal constitution that my parents have. $120 is, sadly, run of the mill for proper walking shoes these days. Honestly, if I had $120 I would have shipped them to her the minute I saw the post. I suspect the issue isn’t having the $120 to spend but her aversion to spending it “gasp!” ON SHOES.

Just do it, Neil’s Mom. I am sure you deserve it. As I told Neil, go to RoadrunnerSports.Com, and get a special deal on day one of visiting the website ($25 off a $75 or more order) as well as the option of their 90-day return policy, where you can return shoes no matter how worn within 90 days if they don’t work out (for credit toward another pair of shoes). We have tested this feature out and they mean it!

Editor’s Note: Neil’s mom got shoes! She got Nikes instead of New Balance but all reports say she is pleased with her purchase. In other news, Neil has now gone down the podiatry rabbit hole and “plantar fasciitis” is in his vocabulary (as well as words like “pronation“). He may never be the same! 

Why Everything About Everything Bagels is Awesome

In addition to his plea for help convincing his mom to take care of her feet, Neil posted this (titled “remains of everything bagel”):

Facebook Highlights

Which brought out ALL the “everything bagel” lovers on Facebook (me included). In addition to the wonders of the everything bagel (they’re best eaten in one of the five boroughs, to be specific, but those of us not currently in NYC have to do the best we can), we discussed:

And guess what I had for breakfast today?

Disney

Since I wrote about Disney last Sunday, am still coming down from the high of spending a few days there last week, have lots of young friends doing the Disney College Program, and in general have many friends going to Disney right now (maybe spring break has something to do with it), there’s a lot of Disney on my Facebook feed and I’m okay with that!

Facebook Highlights

How about you? How is Facebook edifying (or annoying) you lately?

Facebook Highlights

6 Life Truths From Fast Passes

I’m honestly not sure how you “do” Disney parks these days without a smartphone. With your device in hand and the help of the MyDisneyExperience app, you can plan and coordinate your entire visit, especially the Fast Pass process.

With a Fast Pass, you get expedited access to attractions, character meet and greets, and shows. After my recent visit, a few thoughts on how using the Fast Pass system intersects with six general life truths.

Planning Ahead Pays

If you want to avoid lengthy lines on the “big” Disney attractions, a Fast Pass is a necessity. When we went to Hollywood Studios, Tenley got fast passes for Tower of Terror, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration in advance. Although I didn’t do the two thrill rides, it helped expedite our trip that Tenley and her friend could do them with a minimum of waiting. And we all enjoyed being able to walk right into the Frozen Sing-a-long without standing around in a line moving at a glacial pace.

If You Fail to Plan Ahead, You Have to Watch Everyone Else Who Did Move Faster

Disney has definitely mastered the art of making long lines look deceptively manageable from the outside looking in. Get in line for something with a 110 minute wait time, thinking “ah … that doesn’t look that bad,” and find yourself enviously watching the Fast Pass holders stream on by, on their way to their fast-tracked experiences.

Standing in Line Isn’t ALWAYS Bad

Although this directly contradicts the above, life is full of contradictions, no? We chose to stand in long lines for several attractions we did not have Fast Passes for, and we had some of the best experiences of the trip during those waits. We spent time talking to a fun family from Oklahoma, discussing the challenges of siblinghood, the pros and cons of uniforms for school kids, and lots of other fun topics. Time flew.

We also played Heads Up! (mostly the Broadway version) and discovered a) how generational some Broadway knowledge is and b) how much fun you can have waiting in line (thanks, technology!).

Sometimes Planning Ahead Doesn’t Make THAT Much Difference

While Tenley and her friend were on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, I chose to do The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The Fast Pass available to me was 35 minutes away, and the regular wait time was 40 minutes. BUT … I chose to get a Fast Pass so I could squeeze in a little errand I wanted to do. Technically, though, having a Fast Pass only saved me five minutes.

Overplanning Can Result in Missing Out on Serendipitous Happenings

The Fast Pass process can lure you into thinking only the Fast Pass activities are worthwhile. I think much of the Disney Magic is generated by being open to the unexpected, the small-but-magical, the discoveries you can’t force. We ended up doing pictures with Mickey Pretzels at Hollywood Studios (after I oh-so-brilliantly observed “oh, the pretzels are Mickey shaped! (SIGH….)). The lighting at that spot was perfect. Any other angle of the sun and it wouldn’t have worked. We were there at the right time, no Fast Pass required.

Disney Philosophy

If only the magic could have taken care of my cowlick!

The Big Things Have Limits

Anyone remember paper tickets? How after a day at Disney your “E” tickets would be history while you would still have a fistful of the less valuable “A” tickets? The same principle still applies, just via an app. We still can’t (or shouldn’t) do ALL “big things” — discovering the hidden gems matters.

Disney Philosophy

Belle and Lumiere were enchanting, even without Fast Passes.

NOTE: There is plenty of fine print with Fast Passes, like who gets the earliest selection window (60 days for people with reservations to stay on Disney Property), how many you can get at a time (three), and more. Read up ahead of time to get the most out of your Fast Passes (I linked to the official Fast Pass site above but Undercover Tourist has great tips here too)!

Things I’ve Never Done

I was inspired to prepare this piece based on a post called “Confessions: Things I’ve Never Done” from Andrea of Living on Cloud Nine. We share so many “nevers” in common, for a portion of this post I kept her  “nevers” and added my commentary. I’ll throw a few more original-to-me ones on at the end.

Seen an episode of The Bachelor (Andrea’s)

Unlike Andrea, I have seen several episodes of The Bachelor but I have never been a die-hard. I have to admit Twitter during The Bachelor is really fun though! (Jennifer Weiner’s Bachelor tweets were especially hilarious before she broke up with the show (thanks, Donald Trump.)
Life Goals
And fun side note: my daughter’s name (Tenley) had a brief popularity spike when there was a contestant on the show named Tenley (Tenley Molzahn — check her out at Tenley’s Sweet & Free Life).
 
Had stitches (Andrea’s)
Can’t say I’ve never had stitches (hello, childbirth).
 
Had a broken bone (Andrea’s)
I hate to jinx things by leaving this “never” here but, no.
 
Been in a Semi Truck (Andrea’s)

Funny/quirky that this was on Andrea’s list but …. I haven’t either!

Gone swimming under water (Andrea’s)

Yes, I’ve been swimming underwater.

Been on a Jet Ski or Water Skis (Andrea’s)
No to the jet ski, yes to the water skis. I have vivid memories of the friends who taught me to ski — I failed many times before finally staying up, and remember so clearly the key to success: staying “down” in a seated position longer than expected — until we were making progress — and then standing up. Not standing up prematurely before the boat had sufficiently pulled me into position. Kind of a great metaphor for life too.

Eaten Brussels Sprouts, Caviar, Eggs Benedict, Oysters, SpaghettiOs or a Big Mac (Andrea’s)

I need to cook Andrea some brussels sprouts (a fave!). I can check all of these off my list.

Joined Facebook or Instagram (Andrea’s)

(From Paula) I am never going to be able to escape Cal Newport (I wrote about his positive impact on my thoughts about attention span here and here, and my disagreement with his anti-social media stance here.) He impacted one of Andrea’s “never” answers (see below).

(Andrea’s original answer) I simply cannot do all Social Media and work and have a blog and raise a family. A couple outlets have to get sacrificed. Now while I admit I am probably missing out a little not having an insta, and you’re probably all gonna tell me that, lol, not having a FB is 110% fine by me. I read an article why one guy [Cal Newport] refused to join HERE and even had others try to argue why he should HERE and his stance remained the same. 
Been inside a Costco (Andrea’s)

Me either! How is that?!

Been on a Cruise (Andrea’s)

Nor have I . Andrea says it’s not for her at all, but I would love to go on a cruise.

Been to a Circus (Andrea’s)

Yes! I’ve been to the circus! While I’m glad so many measures have been taken to protect mistreated animals, I’m still a circus fan, especially the Florida State University Flying High Circus.

Taken My Kids to Disney World (Andrea’s)

It wasn’t a BIG part of my children’s childhoods but yes, they’ve been. Tenley loved it so much she went to work there (for a few months as part of the Disney College Program). This picture is from our visit to her while she was in the program.

Life Goals
Gotten a Tattoo (Andrea’s)
I haven’t done this either, and in most respects it isn’t my thing. However, I do love the idea of a semicolon (to reflect suicide awareness as inspired by Project Semicolon). If you are here in Tallahassee, come to No Regrets Tattoos on 4/9/17 from 12-7 p.m., and either get a semicolon tattoo or draw one on yourself with Sharpie. No Regrets is donating 50% of the proceeds for all semicolon tattoos to NAMI Tallahassee, which provides support, advocacy, education, and research for people with mental illness, their families and friends.

Life Goals

Plucked My Eyebrows (Andrea’s)
Yes, I’ve done this, although I get them waxed now instead of plucking. If you read this post, you know the waxing process doesn’t always go smoothly!

Worn False Eyelashes (Andrea’s)

Nope. I haven’t either and don’t foresee a time when I will.

Now that I’ve worked through Andrea’s list, here are a few of my own:

Won a Grads Made Good Award

I have always admired the winners of the Omicron Delta Kappa Grads Made Good award at FSU, such as author Diane Roberts, retired astronaut Winston Scott, and Sister Michelle Carroll. It feels funny writing this because I could frame it as “I’m only 52 — that  may be midlife but by golly I’m going to go out and write that book, create that world-changing social media campaign, or achieve that transcendent feat that earns me a nomination” but I just don’t see it happening (I probably also have dug my political grave in a few ways with the kind of people who make the Grads Made Good decisions, even if I solved World Hunger tomorrow.)

I remind myself that there are accomplishments in life for which there isn’t a cool batik award (I don’t know if they still do, but winners used to be given a hand painted batik likeness of themselves) and public notoriety, like raising two children and caregiving an elder through severe memory loss and terminal cancer. That matters too.
I particularly remember the 1996 Grads Made Good ceremony, when Wayne and I got a babysitter for a months-old Tenley and attended the breakfast. One of the honorees was Cliff Freeman, who created the Little Caesars “Pizza Pizza” campaign. Judging by this 2009 article about Mr. Freeman’s agency’s difficulty navigating a changed advertising landscape, success can be fleeting; perhaps I should be inspired to keep trying yet reassure myself that no award guarantees continued accolades.

 

Gone to Europe
I checked “international travel” off when I went to Guatemala in 2011 with Tenley. However, my dream international trip is to Valencia, Spain. That’s more likely to happen than winning a Grads Made Good Award.
Driven a Manual Transmission Car
While it isn’t technically true that I haven’t driven a manual transmission car, I surely have not mastered the skill. I did drive to Publix once, with Wayne talking me through it from the passenger seat, but I stalled out once and definitely could not have done it solo. This is a problem because the best car in the family right now is the one that has a manual transmission. I know once I master it I’ll wonder what all my anxiety was about but I’m not there yet.
Honorable Mentions: Are “honorable mentions” even a thing for a blog post like this? They are today, because explaining each one is a blog post in itself, which I don’t want to dig that deeply into right now, but they are tugging at me enough to deserve mention:
  • Never became a doctor
  • Never became fully Spanish/English bilingual (yet!)
  • Never binge-watched anything streaming (yet)
  • Never jumped out of an airplane (never will)

How about you? What’s on your “I never have” list?

$500 Disney Gift Card #Giveaway

Disney Gift Card Giveaway

Between October 2015 and October 2016, I visited Walt Disney World sixsee Disney in a different light times. Not that often by many people’s standards but a real luxury for me and an opportunity to (my daughter was doing the Disney College Program January-May 2016).

What could I have used more of (besides a seventh, eighth, and ninth visit?). MORE money to spend of course! A $500 Disney Gift Card like the one in this giveaway, for example.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize: $500 Disney Gift Card

Co-hosts: Dorky’s Deals // Coupons and Freebies Mom // Jenns Blah Blah Blog // Pretty Thrifty // The Mommyhood Mentor® // Surviving Mommy // Now This Is 40 // Lipgloss and Crayons // Capri’s Coupons // Young Finances // The Frugal Free Gal // Ottawa Mommy Club // Java John Z’s // Books R Us // Mommies with Cents //  Heartbeats ~ Soul Stains // Angie’s Angle // The Mommyhood Mentor® // Misadventures with Andi // My Dairy Free Gluten Free Life //  Damask Suitcase // Here We Go Again Ready // Mama’s Mission // Virtually Yours //  Sunshine and Sippy Cups // A Helicopter Mom // Oh, The Places We Travel! // Not A Supermom // A Savings WOW! // Sweating Champagne // A Mom Blog

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 4/7 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disney Gift Card Giveaway

History, Hidden Figures, and One Engineer’s Advice

Book clubs have changed. I know of some that don’t read a book at all (emphasis on wine). My book club DOES read, and takes reading seriously, but we would rather someone join us even if she hasn’t read the book yet. When Hearth and Soul hosted a book club centered on the book Hidden Figures recently, I attended even though I had “only” seen the movie. I appreciate their hospitality and learned so much from the event.

The organizers of the Hearth and Soul Hidden Figures gathering had invited Charmane Caldwell, Ph.D., to share her experiences as an African-American female engineer. She is an alumna of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (2011) and currently serves as the Diversity and Inclusion Director at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

Female Engineers

Dr. Caldwell talks with attendees at the Hearth and Soul Hidden Figures event.

Dr. Caldwell’s takeaways enhanced our understanding of the book, but more than that, they incorporated messages that any young woman would be wise to consider.

The Difference Between “How” and “Why”

As Dr. Caldwell explained her evolution from college student, to engineer, to faculty member, she said she discovered an important truth along the way:

The person who knows how will always get a job but the person who knows why will always be their boss.

Ever since I read an account long ago of how pilots’ knowledge of the “old fashioned” engineering behind aviation, of having to KNOW and mentally calculate adjustments in order to fly planes rather than relying on automation, resulted in the fact that 185 out of 296 passengers survived the crash of United Flight 232 on July 19, 1989, I have felt strongly that the “why” is critical to know in addition to the “how.”

I encourage my kids (a high school senior and a college junior) to understand the “why’s.” Especially in an age of automation, where we barely have to lift a finger to get directions from point A to point B, to order a pizza, or to share a picture with a friend a world away, it’s important to understand what makes all that automation tick. It will make you more valuable as a potential employee and it must might save your (or someone else’s) life someday. 

The Value of a Growth Mindset

A “growth mindset” is one of those things that most of us would probably say “yeah of COURSE it’s important to have a growth mindset.” But what does “growth mindset” really mean?

My friend Jon Mertz defined “growth mindset” well in a recent post:

Individuals with a growth mindset learn and encourage others to do the same. While having a growth mindset is essential, we encounter many who are fixed in their thinking and ways of doing things.

Fixed mindsets are confident in what has been set, and no amount of effort or talent will change what is already known. Growth mindsets know continued practice and learning move us forward to better thinking, plans, and outcomes. Even with solid past results, constant learning and practice propels us forward.

For me, I’ve always aspired to be a lifelong learner, to “dig deeper” on almost any topic. Personally, the bigger challenge is “encouraging others to do the same” as Jon pointed out above.

In this post, Terence Brake of TMA World shares a growth mindset moment from Hidden Figures (movie version):

…Dorothy, who did the supervisor’s job in the “Colored Computer” room—without the appropriate title or pay—was fearful of the large IBM computer that had been installed. She was afraid of the computer’s impact on the jobs of her people. Instead of taking a hammer to the machine, she taught herself Fortran, and then taught it to the others in the pool. When the IBM mainframe took over from the human computers, she became official supervisor of the computer section, and took all of her people with her.

I could blame my reluctance to help others on feeling I don’t have enough time to train someone else, but honestly it’s more often a lack of confidence in my ability to teach them. I am reminded, though, of feedback I received from my staff at Healthy Kids. Almost everyone mentioned a process we had jointly developed (rather than me holed away in my office drafting something) as a favorite memory. They learned, they took ownership — it mattered to them to be asked and to be given an opportunity to grow.

In addition, a growth mindset is beneficial to all of us. Not just emotionally or learning-wise. As my Weaving Influence boss Becky Robinson wrote recently, “any time you can train someone else to become proficient at a task you typically do, you are creating margin for yourself in the future.”

Having a growth mindset helps us do more, for our intellect and for profitability. It’s a win-win.

Don’t Dumb Yourself Down

As book club wound down (well, that’s sort of a relative term — the “formal” book club wound down but many of us stayed long after the formal end to keep talking), I asked Dr. Caldwell to share the ONE thing she would tell today’s female students.

Her answer? DON’T DUMB YOURSELF DOWN.

So much truth to this, and I suspect we parents and supporters of young women *may* inadvertently facilitate this dumbing down without even knowing. How do you impress on a tween or teen girl that the real power is in embracing the subjects they love, even if they aren’t “cool” among their peers?

Sometimes there’s no fighting the pull of peer pressure, but we can support the young women in our lives and model how to have high aspirations, how to tackle subjects that appear difficult, how to confidently be the only girl (or minority, or both) in the room.

Here’s an interesting conundrum — when I started poking around the internet looking for great links about how girls should not “dumb themselves down,” almost everything I found was about how women shouldn’t “dumb themselves down” to get a man.

I think Dr. Caldwell meant something different, more fundamental, and more applicable to an 11-year old (although many of us adults would do well to remember the advice too). I think it was something more related to the advice Liz Ryan gave in Forbes to a job-searcher who wondered if she should dilute her educational background in order to be more appealing to employers who might be scared off by her higher education achievements:

Anybody who needs you to pretend to be less smart and capable than you are is not someone you can afford to work for.

As a practical matter, when you hide your flame in order to get hired, your mojo will leave you. Your mojo is the fuel source for your career and your life. You can’t afford to squander it!

“Mojo” is something that can be inadvertently snuffed out in a young girl’s psyche early in her life, and resurrecting it after she has stopped believing in herself is a Herculean task. Why not keep it alive and thriving from the beginning?

Read The Book, See The Movie

If you have been around my blog for long, you know I am a huge fan of NASA and, from a “women in tech” standpoint, consider hearing Former Deputy Administrator Dava Newman speak to be a pivotal personal moment. She made history by becoming Deputy Administrator of NASA. She made history partially thanks to women who took risks long before her, women whose lessons we in the general public are just now starting to appreciate ….. to learn “why” and not just “how,” to have a growth mindset, to not dumb themselves down.

Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures, said it well:

Female Engineers

Editor’s Note: I asked Dr. Caldwell to elaborate a bit more on “how vs. why” and here is her response:

I’m glad people enjoyed the article. I made the comment about life in general, but specifically as engineers we go through the training (Physics, Calculus, etc.) to be able to determine the why of problems.

A Voice in an Unlikely Chorus

When I attend the Requiem of Resistance performance here in Tallahassee on March 25, I will be thinking especially of Edgar Krasa, a member of the chorus directed by Rafael Schächter, who conducted 15 performances of Verdi’s Requiem at the Terezin Concentration Camp.

Edgar died on February 7. He was a friend and mentor to my friend Corie Walsh, who shared this remembrance:

Edgar was 96 years old and a Holocaust survivor. I met Edgar when I was in high school and he was a spectacular influence on my career and my personal life. He was one of those people who held such light and joy that you couldn’t help but smile when you met him.

Edgar Krasa Tribute

A portrait of Edgar drawn by Leo Haas in Terezin, 1943. Photo Credit: The Terezin Music Foundation

Edgar was originally sent to Terezin, the show camp for the Red Cross, in 1941, where he survived as cook. He was on the very first transport there. Edgar lived in Terezin until 1944 when he was transported to Auschwitz. He then participated (and survived) the infamous Death March from Auschwitz by pretending to be dead. If you asked Edgar how he survived the Holocaust he wouldn’t say through perseverance, strength, or faith. Instead he would tell you that an onion saved his life.

At one point, when he was struggling and quite ill, he was out on work detail and he found a whole onion. He planned on stashing it in his uniform and sneaking it back to the barracks to feed two younger boys who he had been looking after. However at the end of his work detail, the guards called for a random search. Edgar knew he had to eat the onion before he was searched. So he ate the entire thing in a matter of minutes. Raw, like an apple. Then the next day, his illness and sores started to heal. Edgar credited that onion with saving his life and he continued to make onions a focal point through the rest of his cooking throughout his career.

This story tells three things about Edgar: his humor, his selflessness, and his strength.  Edgar wasn’t spectacular because he was a Holocaust survivor. He was spectacular because he was kind and because he dedicated his life to making the world a little bit more like him.

After surviving the Holocaust and emigrating to the US, Edgar ran a restaurant in Brookline MA and spent his free time and retirement speaking at schools and colleges.  The first time Edgar had me over to his house for dinner he made a huge spread for dinner including his signature baba ganoush and hummus. The meal concluded with Turkish coffee, which was not optional. According to Edgar, it would “put hair on your chest.” He would wink as he said this, recognizing that a hairy chest was not exactly a desirable quality for a woman.

As I grew older and busier, Edgar and I saw one another more infrequently. We would see each other annually at the gatherings for the Terezin Music Foundation, but I believe we remained friends. He spoke with the sincerity and conviction to make me believe that I was the only person in the room and perhaps the only person on the planet. He would grasp my hand and say “Corie my dear, how are you?” And he meant it. We would get on about my dating life, gossip, cooking, and our respective forays into activism.

Edgar was the unique sort of character that brushes into one’s life and has the capacity to change it. He taught me that there is no beauty in martyrdom, no humanity without equality, no life without humor, and no good cooking without onions. I will miss him dearly, but I will carry his spirit and his story forward. I hope you do the same.

***

For information about the Tallahassee performance jointly presented by the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, FAMU Concert Choir, Temple Israel, and Holocaust Education Resource Council, please click here. Proceeds from the concert benefit the Holocaust Education Resource Council.

To support the continuance of the music of Terezin, please consider donating to the Terezin Music Foundation.

Editor’s Note: In this piece by Steve Uhlfelder, he shares about his grandparents, who both died at Terezin, and his trip there.

Raindrops on Roses and Music from Elders

Is it possible to discuss “favorite things” without having visions of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens?

It’s a challenge but I’m going to try to branch out from those whiskers on kittens, thanks to a Mama’s Losin’ It writing prompt: list your five most recent favorite things.

Favorite Things

Here are mine:

Music Therapy

Specifically, the music therapist from Big Bend Hospice who has visited my father-in-law twice. Although I am grateful for the many services provided by Big Bend Hospice, I have jokingly referred to this process as “the revolving door of people who are ‘here to help you,'” inferring that it is an additional chore for me to coordinate them all.

I had put the music therapist pretty far down the “necessary” list, under the nurse (definitely, for health reasons), shower aide (definitely, because Wayne and I can’t do it at this point), social worker ( sanity, please), and incredible volunteer Jim who told him, “yeah, I have a DNR (do not resuscitate) form too,” a perfect response to divert my FIL’s attention from the always-present reminder that this is a very final process.

I had definitely put our music therapist, Marisa (sp?) into the “nice but not necessary” bucket …….. until I heard my FIL, always a man of few words and subdued emotions, SINGING ALONG WITH HER. It really is true about music … it can unlock a person’s heart in a way nothing else can. (Music therapy is especially effective because it doesn’t demand cognitive functioning to succeed. More here via the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.)

Side note: the music therapist uses a little tripod stool like hunters use in the woods (sample here) … and says she can only find ones with camo designs. Anyone know someone who makes little stool covers with music notes (or other non-camo designs)? There has to be a way.

My New Part-Time Job

When I wrote about trying to sharpen my memory recently by using Lumosity, I didn’t know that something else was going to come along that would challenge my brain and shape up my life in other ways.

While I love my contractor work for Weaving Influence, I am also happy to have taken on additional work that adds to our family bottom line, provides needed structure to my days, and challenges me every single time (even though I have had to part ways with my beloved Oxford comma in the process).

In my independent contractor work for a digital B2B company, my duties so far include searching for news items related to certain terms, summarizing news stories into concise (yet informative!) two-sentence summaries, and contributing to the curation of industry-specific newsletters.

Observations along the way:

  • It’s humbling for an editor to be edited
  • Having to be “on duty” at a specific time (7 am) is the best thing in the world to keep me from a slow, easily-distracted slide into the work of the day. Having to report in to someone, and knowing others down the line are waiting on me, is BIG
  • I should have gone to AP Style boot camp at some point in the past; I definitely feel l like I’m doing catch-up on that front
  • It’s humbling to be at square one with a job again. ALL THE QUESTIONS
  • This arrangement was the kick in the butt I needed to file for my LLC
  • It’s so funny to me to be full-circle back at supporting myself by summarizing the news (one of the ways I supported myself during my New York years was by working at a place where we typed summaries of the news FROM VHS TAPES (yes, I’m that old))
  • I’ve been sufficiently a part of the gig economy long enough now that this doesn’t surprise me anymore, but it’s still so interesting to be working for and with people who you aren’t going to run into at the water cooler or trade funny quips with (yet)

All that said, I’m so fortunate to have the challenge of being an independent contractor for Smartbrief. Check out their website and choose a newsletter that fits for you — here has to be something among all the options, ranging from leadership (my fave!) to supply chain. For career opportunities, click here (but leave your oxford comma at the door.)

Writing

Maybe writing isn’t a “thing” like a smartphone, key chain, or cronut, but it’s a perennial favorite with me. Since I’m not running (for now), it has taken on even more of a role as my outlet.

When I write for myself, I process my thoughts. When I write to try to convey a message to others, I am forced to see multiple sides of the issue, and that is not a bad thing.

People Who Give Me Tools to Advocate Effectively

When I wrote my #One20Today-inspired post in advance of Inauguration Day, I committed to various acts of advocacy in the face of an administration headed by someone who did not receive my vote, and whose administration’s choices threaten the rights and peace of mind of many of my fellow Americans (and me).

The challenge is: the craziness, threats, and insults to the integrity of our democracy are coming so fast and furious, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and get paralyzed by indecision (and, frankly, fear of speaking out).

One incredibly bright and insightful friend I met via Shot at Life has created a periodic (at least weekly, sometimes more) list of 4 action items (something to read, a concept to understand, an action to do, a donation to consider) that can help us break out of the paralysis and do something.

As she said, “We don’t get to reimagine history to make ourselves better. We get to be loud right now or we’re not better.”

Here are four of my favorite examples, taken from the action emails:

Read every executive order President Trump has signed so far

Understand why the United States’ signature on the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Refugee Protocol impacted (prior to the stay of the Executive Order) choices by government entities to try to revoke peoples’ ability to board planes and to keep them from setting foot in the US

Do pick something you care deeply about and write a letter to the editor (LTE) of your local newspaper. Here’s a guide and here’s an example. Side note: it’s always a good idea to be aware of your newspaper’s guidelines for an LTE. Increase your chances of getting published by adhering to those rules to the extent possible (i.e., if the limit is 200 words, don’t send 325 and make it harder for them to use your piece). Also, it is a good idea to have civil and friendly relationships with your local journalists. No one likes always being asked for something — it’s totally acceptable to chat with them about the weather or praise their cute puppy pictures if you happen to be involved in their social media streams. AND — not everything you submit will get accepted. Don’t take it personally. (Sometimes if I don’t get something accepted, I run it on my blog. Medium is another choice. Your thoughts/opinions still matter.)

Donate to the International Refugee Assistance Project

If you would like to be on the list, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with my friend!

Naps

When our incredible hospice volunteer, Jim, arrived recently,  I said, “I’ll be working on something in the bedroom.” Do you think every hospice volunteer knows “working on something in the bedroom” means “napping”?

One of the huge benefits of working from home is that it is so much easier to customize my life around my energy needs and fit in a 15-minute power nap around 3 pm. As this article states, power naps are beneficial for alertness and motor learning skills. I am not sure if “and making Paula a lot less irritable” is documented anywhere but I tell you, it’s a thing.

If/when I ever return to the traditional office-based workforce, I can only hope I find someplace with nap pods.Google says “no workplace is complete without a nap pod.” That’s what I’m talking about! Maybe Google will open a Tallahassee branch in the future!

FOR FUN

I asked my Facebook friends what they thought I would say. Although they didn’t hit on the five things I listed above, they were all spot-on (good job, friends!). Here are their answers:

  • Green pens (yes!)
  • Audiobooks (oh yes yes yes)
  • Hidden Figures (yes!)
  • Global vaccinations (for sure)
  • Exchanging pleasant conversation over a good meal (the best thing ever)
  • Disney
  • Wine (for sure)

Good job, friends — you get me, you really get me.

Several people also shared THEIR favorite things, which was fun to see! Also a great segue to the end of this post.

What are your current faves?

Favorite Things

A Heartfelt #StartingIsBelieving Conversation

This post is sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Board, through my role as a Believer Blogger. All thoughts are my own.

Prepaid Tuition Programs

Oh, Valentine’s Day. ALL the fun of candy, love in the air, and did I mention candy?

On the way to becoming the treats we all know, love, and share on Valentine’s Day, fave candies like Conversation Hearts undergo quite the interesting transformation before becoming sweet messengers.

In this slideshow, Necco explains the process of creating conversation hearts. It takes six steps. Similarly, the process of preparing to fund our children’s higher education costs takes more than one step. Let’s take a look at those steps as the deadline to enroll in a Florida Prepaid plan approaches.

Conversation Hearts, College Funding: Six Steps

Assembling Individual Ingredients

For conversation hearts, the manufacturer begins with sugar, color, corn syrup, cornstarch, flavors, and gums (maybe I just won’t think too hard about those gums!).

When our children are born, they have all the individual ingredients that will eventually serve them in college. Intellect, energy, motivation.

Creating The Blob

Looking at the second step in the conversation heart process, you would never know all that amorphous blobby mound is going to turn into something so adorable and tempting.

Prepaid Tuition Programs

From the NECCO website

For me at least, there have been so many times as my son worked his way through grades K-12 that I wondered “is there hope of this kid making it to higher education?” It doesn’t bode well when games win out over homework 85% of the time.

Sheeting

In the third step, machines press the dough until it’s flat.

We need to be that pressing machine for our children’s futures: forcing ourselves to make a plan for their college education. This involves making hard choices, perhaps giving up some discretionary income that could lead to immediate family fun.

Cutting and Stamping

This must be where the fun begins. The dough is cut into hearts, and the messages are applied!

Those of us who care for children in Florida have an opportunity to shape them and share messages that will impact their futures. 

The Drying Tunnel

After being cut and shaped, the conversation hearts remain in a drying tunnel for 30 minutes.

As I have written before, I am SO fortunate my parents bought my children Florida Prepaid plans when they were infants. A (relatively) modest expenditure almost 20 years ago has given my kids an opportunity to get college educations with the tuition paid for. Like the conversation hearts in the drying tunnel, the money had to sit there, doing nothing, in order to turn into something powerful later on.

Blending the Flavors

Once the hearts are pressed, cut, and dried, it’s time to combine all the colors for a spectrum of deliciousness.

I can’t say we are out of the woods yet with my high school senior, but the same kid who “forgot about history fair” for literally MONTHS between the start of school in August until the night before the due date in January early in his high school career *may* have found his groove and the realization that higher education can make a difference in his future. All those raw ingredients may indeed be coming together into a multi-dimensional kid with a plan (yay).

Packing

Finally, the conversation hearts are packaged into those iconic little boxes (among other packaging options) and transported to stores where they are sold and find their way into Valentine’s celebrations nationwide.

The thirteen years between the day we send our babies off to kindergarten and the day they cross that stage to accept their high school diplomas sure don’t seem that long. Before we know it, they are off to convey their own messages in their own way.

But About That College Funding

Yes, it’s fun to talk about turning a blob of sugar, cornstarch (and yes, gums) into conversation  hearts … but my goal is to draw a parallel between that process and the process of getting our kids to college, especially how to pay to get our kids to college.

A Florida Prepaid College Plan is an ultra-affordable way to give your child (and yourself) the security of knowing a college education with no debt (or at least less debt) is in their future.

Open Enrollment Ends February 28!

The 2016-17 open enrollment period ends on February 28, so time is short to invest in a Florida Prepaid Plan.

Some reminders of why Florida Prepaid is such a great choice:

  • Every Prepaid Plan is guaranteed by the State of Florida, so you will never lose your investment.
  • Prepaid Plans work nationwide. Even if your child attends an out-of-state or private college, the plan will pay the same amount as it would pay at a public college or university in Florida. Our daughter uses her Florida Prepaid at Valdosta State University.
  • If your child earns a scholarship, you have options regarding your plan. You can get a refund for the same amount as the plan would pay a public college or university in Florida.
  • Plans are flexible time-wise. Your child has up to 10 years after his or her year of projected enrollment to use the plan.

Are you the kind of person who tells your loved one you’ll celebrate on the day after a holiday so you can get the goodies 50% off? Well, with prepaid, you have to enroll by February 28 but the good news is you can save the 50% off now! Use the code BLOG1617 and save 50% off the $50 application fee.

Prepaid Tuition Programs

 

About Florida Prepaid

Visit the Florida Prepaid College Plan by clicking here for information. If you prefer to speak with someone by phone, please call 800-552-GRAD (4723).

A Night of Stars: An Honor Flight Benefit

My friend Laura and I went together to the Tallahassee Airport last spring to be a part of the contingent of Tallahasseeans welcoming home participants in that day’s Honor Flight. (Honor Flight Tallahassee transports North Florida and South Georgia veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials that honor their service and sacrifices.)

We had not been to the “welcome home” festivities before and weren’t sure what to do. Therefore, when there was a call for people to hold flags as the veterans disembarked from their plane and entered the hangar, we volunteered.

Veteran Support

As I watched the veterans and their sponsors disembark, I saw a variety of emotions. One, to be honest, was fatigue — the Honor Flight day starts very early and is physically and emotionally packed as the participants fly to Washington, D.C., participate in commemorations honoring them, and fly back. Being WW II vets, they are all elderly to begin with. Other than the fatigue, though, there were smiles, handshakes, hugs, and more than one elder wiping tears away. If it was overwhelming to watch, I can only imagine how overwhelming (in the best of ways) it must have been to be the veterans participating in the day.

Veteran Support

The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., where the Honor Flight Ceremony Takes Place

Support Honor Flight Tallahassee

The Chiles High School Student Government Association is presenting A Night of Stars Benefiting Honor Flight Tallahassee on Monday, March 6, at 6 p.m. Proceeds from ticket purchases will go toward this year’s Honor Flight experience, to take place on May 20, 2017.

Veteran Support

Chiles SGA members meeting Honor Flight participants at the December 2016 kickoff for Night of Stars.

A Night of Stars will feature two WW2 liberators, Mr. Bryce Thornton of Tallahassee and Mr. George Aigen of Valdosta. Aigen, who has been featured in a Georgia PBS documentary honoring the state’s veterans, was recently nominated for the French Legion of Honor.

Here are the Details:

Where: Cross Creek Banquet Room at 6701 Mahan Drive in Tallahassee

When:  6 p.m.

Meal:    Meal provided by Marie Livingston’s Steak House

Cost:    $25

Tickets/Donations:  Get tickets or make a donation by visiting the Chiles High School website and scrolling down to Events, by purchasing one from a Chiles SGA member, or by emailing Rebecca Bandy, SGA sponsor.

For More Information: Click here to learn more about Honor Flight Tallahassee.

Veteran Support

One Night To Support Those Who Gave So Much

You may feel like there isn’t anything you can do to support veterans BUT as Laura and I learned last year, if you keep your ears open, you’ll be put in touch with a way. Please consider, this year, making one of your “ways” the purchase of a ticket to the Honor Flight All Stars event.

NOTE: Thank you to Rebecca Bandy for sharing information about this event through her blog.

Veteran Support

7 Takeaways from the 12 Days of Fitness Challenge

As I wrote in my guest post for the American Heart Association’s #BreakUpWithSalt initiative, about six in ten caregivers in a national survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving reported that their eating (63%) and exercising (58%) habits are worse than before. I am among those six in ten.

When I stopped running in early October because my rapid heart rate kept breaking through despite taking a beta blocker before exercising, I stopped other exercise activities too. The “reasons” mushroomed easily: once my son was able to drive himself, he was able to stay out after school finished, hanging out with his friends (or whatever). Going to an early morning class so that I could be home before my husband left for work involved an early wakeup that felt increasingly impossible to do. I was embarrassed about my weight gain.

Then the 12 Days of Fitness Challenge happened.

In December, BA Fitness posted on their Facebook page that there would be a “12 Days of Fitness” challenge. The challenge was set to begin the next day, so I had to make a quick decision regarding whether I was “in” or not. I decided! I was in! The basics: Do 12 classes within an abbreviated period of time (15 days). Don’t miss any classes you signed up for (or the clock would start over). In return? More fitness and a lovely custom workout towel (plus a chance to be entered in a drawing for free classes and other goodies.

Fitness Goals

Fast forward to the end. I *did* earn my towel (yay) and gathered a few insights along the way:

Why A Challenge Made a Difference

The Towel

Having done many efforts such as Relay for Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, I have always been *amazed* at how hard people will work to earn a tshirt that may cost $5 to make. How many hundreds and thousands of dollars they’ll raise. That was me with the reward towel. Granted, it was exclusive to participants of the challenge who met the 12-class minimum, but in the end it was “just a towel.” But I wanted it! Like Joe, the swag was calling my name!

Fitness GoalsThe Finite Time Line

Because the Challenge had a specific begin and end date, I had to fit my 12 classes in within a specified period of time. That short-circuited any “I’ll get to it eventually” thoughts in my head and made me overcome barriers I had been allowing to stop me from showing up.

Detailed, Transparent Updates

The challenge scoreboard was posted on Facebook at least once a day. Why did that matter? For starters, we could see each other’s progress? A perfect recipe for lots of support sharing (and a tiny quantity of good natured prods (as in, I’m getting up at 4:30 am to make the 5 am class — you can too, friend!)). Since the towels were limited to the first 25 people to complete the challenge, seeing a line of people ahead of us who were closer to hitting the 12-class mark than we were was motivation to step up our efforts and get our butts to class.

Accountability Matters

I had gotten out of touch with the fact that the best thing people and fitness lovers can do for one another is hold each other accountable. I stopped being on “active status” with my team (although my incredible coach still goes way above and beyond to track my workouts). I wasn’t racing so there was no “let’s get some runs in so we are prepared for the next 5K” type activity going on. When I knew my fellow challenge participants would be expecting me in class, and that my NOT going was stealing a spot from someone who needed it (it got pretty hard to find space in classes as the challenge proceeded), I showed up. 

Planning Ahead is Your Friend

Like I mentioned above, as the challenge progressed, it got harder and harder to find space in class. I missed an opportunity to check off one (or two, if I had been willing to do a double) class of my list on a premium Saturday when I actually could go, because I waited too late to sign up. If you have a goal, plan ahead in order to execute it.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone Is Good

Because I had to take whatever classes were available, I took some classes I would not have traditionally picked. I got to exercise different muscles (literally), meet new people, and explore exercise alternatives I would not have tried before.

Excuses Hurt Only Ourselves

After I had to get carted back to the start area a mile into a walked 5K in October, something in my willpower deflated. Years of consistent exercise (some of those years with rockingly consistent nutrition (some not so much) felt like a waste of time. I know they weren’t a waste of time, but I was feeling sorry for myself. I was afraid to work out in the event my tachycardia acted up, afraid I would “cause a problem” for the staff or fellow students at the studio if I had an episode, just AFRAID.

Thanks to the challenge, though, for all the morning classes I did as part of a challenge, I drank only decaf before class, took my beta blocker, tried not to feel self conscious about bedhead or wearing colors that didn’t match, and DID IT. If I felt like something was pushing me too hard, I took a break. It was hard to stop worrying about what others thought (lazy/out of shape/unmotivated) but it was an important reminder that not everyone knows our stories.

THE HAPPY ENDING

Yes, I got the towel. More importantly, I got the push I needed to look those excuses, the extra pounds, the logistical challenges, and the health issues in the face and recommit to taking care of myself.

Fitness Goals

My bedhead and I earned my towel after my 12th class, an Indorow class. Pictured here with David Griffin, instructor.

Looks like I am going to need a few MORE towels.