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Kids Surprise ‘Dr. Mom’ With Signs And Dancing After She Turns In Her Dissertation

Kelly Taylor

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Imagine turning in your dissertation and coming home to your children who have orchestrated a celebration in your honor. Now, imagine your kids meeting you in the hallway of the school with congratulatory signs. This is what happened to Candace Hall. 

The Ph.D. candidate handed in her dissertation at Maryville University only to find her kids – aged 4-years-old, 6-years-old, and 7-years-old respectively – in the hall. The youngsters were holding signs that read, “Congratulations, Mom” and “We Did It!” Candace’s children topped off the celebration by dancing to 1K Phew’s song, “We Did It.” It was truly a moment to remember. 

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Candace told the press. “Not many people can effectively surprise me but they did. And it was just a joy to celebrate that moment with me.”

Candace’s kids remember when their mom began her quest for a doctorate degree. The 31-year-old worked towards her goal for two years before seeing its manifestation this year. 

“They saw me when I started the process, and then for them to see me finish, it was a blessing,” Hall says. Of course, nothing meaningful comes easy. 

“There are times where it was overwhelming and was like, ‘I think about this too much. I have to balance way too much. I have to give up something,” Candace admits. Such thoughts did not stay for long. “It was really important to just sit down and prioritize what was important to me. And then also to understand this would not be a permanent thing … the things that I would be sacrificing.”

Candace’s dissertation is about job satisfaction in academia with an emphasis on people of color. Her research was partially bred from personal experience. Candace works as a full-time academic coordinator at Washington University in St. Louis. 

“My advice would be to write down your goals, what you see yourself doing and then put it up somewhere so that you see it and it’s a reminder why you’re doing this,” Candace says regarding tips that she would give to others hoping to make their dreams a reality. “So that in those days, it feels impossible and you feel like giving up, you can remember why you started.”

Candace can do a myriad of things with her doctorate degree. She already works in academia. It would not be too far-fetched, then, for Hall to broaden her horizons and move up in position using her new credentials. 

Regardless of the path that she chooses, Candace knows that her kids are behind her full force. “I just hope my kids remember this when they get older and they feel like, ‘Oh, I can’t do it.’ I hope they look back to this moment, like, ‘Look what Mom did,” Hall says. 

Candace walks the graduation stage at Maryville University in Spring 2020. You can bet that her kids will be sitting front and center at the ceremony. 

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Culture

How Pregnancy Will Change Your Body

Renee Yates

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Becoming pregnant and bringing a new child into the world will do a lot more than just create a temporary belly bump and related large waistline. It will also trigger a number of changes to a woman’s body, some remaining permanent. And they are not the predictable ones that women typically learn in high school or from science books. Instead, many of the changes are going to be things that only women know and pass on from person to person verbally. And when one woman talks about them, those in the know will smile and nod agreeing. But to outsiders, motherhood remains a “joy” to look forward too.

Let’s Talk about Those Tootsies

There are some parts of the body that get bigger with pregnancy, but don’t expect feet to be on the typical expectation list from the doctor or generic pregnancy preparation pamphlets. The fact is, women’s feet get slightly longer as their foot arch decreases. This change, often assumed caused by the baby weight and the body hormonally preparing muscles and ligaments to stretch, ends up triggering the need for new shoes.  So no, it’s not just about needing to shop for the sake of shopping alone.

Redefining the Term “Exhausted”

Because a woman’s body has now become the creation system for a whole new life, it consumes a lot of energy, including what that mother-to-be would normally need to get through the day. The result is a regular and ongoing feeling of being wiped out most of the day. This sensation happens off and on from trimester to trimester, skipping the second one and returning again on the tail end.

Getting a Healthy Glow

Hormones being the culprits they are, will trigger a significant production of facial oil. That in turn will give you a very Roman healthy look which also makes a pregnant woman look a bit younger too. You’re going to feel like your face is greasy more than not, but everyone is going admire how beautiful you look. Go with it; the facial changes are one of the up sides of the body changes.

Be a Lot More Careful

Pregnant women trip, stumble and fall a lot more than normal. The same hormone affecting the feet is affect all the other joints too, causing ligaments to stretch. Unfortunately, this benefit for allowing a woman to give birth will also affect all her other ligaments, making ankles and knees in particularly a lot more wobbly. No surprise, women tend to wear flats a lot during the second and third trimester for better traction and less falling risk.

Mommy Brain

Yep, you’re not suddenly going stupid after years of being a genius; you have mommy brain when pregnant. Pregnancy is often associated with mentally feeling cloudy or forgetting a lot of things. When you have a being inside of you taking up some of that oxygen in your circulatory system, it’s going to have an effect, and this one cuts down on the oxygen going to your brain. That will affect your ability to maintain concentration or use short-term memory in a normal fashion. Plan on writing things down a lot to remember what you need 30 minutes later.

Yes, having a child is a beautiful thing, and yes, you will get a bigger belly and breasts as part of the change to make a pregnancy happen. But there’s a lot of other changes in the package that can be a bit of a surprise. It’s up to you if you want to share them after your pregnancy, but it does make being pregnant a bit easier knowing more of what to expect than always being surprised.

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Culture

Being a Community Means Everyone In It

Kevin Wells

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People with significant autism tend to realize a lot of support from family, school, support programs and community when they are minors. However, the world dramatically changes when adulthood is reached, and the ability to be self-functional with what many take for granted, i.e. having a job and livelihood to support living, can seem almost impossible to achieve. The fact is, many employers don’t want to deal with an autistic employee, which makes it very hard for such folks to find work that can support their independent living, even if entirely trained and proven to be capable of doing the work.

Things Change After 21

Michael Coyne was just such an individual as an autistic minor who now faced adulthood at 21 trying to find his own career path. Originally proven to be highly competitive, even ranking a spot as a Special Olympics Athlete when younger, now his autism was becoming a stumbling block in his success. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Coyne easily classified as a protected disability employee candidate, but that didn’t seem to make a difference. No one would hire him. But he didn’t give up.

Breaking the Paradigm

Instead, Coyne took advantage of business classes and training provided by the Rhode Island’s Developmental Disabilities Council to improve his employable skillset. He then finally found work through a partnership program and a coffee shop that specifically employed workers with disabilities. And that’s where Coyne became part of an experiment proving people with disabilities are just as viable in the employment world as anyone else.

Red, White & Brew and a related craft store, Budding Violet, are part of a venture to provide inclusive work opportunities for those with disabilities. In doing so, both operations show the community what is possible versus assumption. Many have been moved by example and others have been motivated. Many parents who take care of their own children with disabilities get emotional at realizing there is a venture locally that will give their children work at adulthood.

Community Means Integrated With Everyone

As for Michael Coyne, his opinion is that the next step is to combine folks. Don’t just hire workers with disabilities, hire all kinds of workers so that regular people can work, interact and learn to accept those with disabilities even more in everyday life. For a man who could justifiably be bitter about how he has been treated so far prior to Red, White & Brew, that’s a pretty admirable position to take on the high road. In the end, Coyne knows it takes people experiencing the truth to change minds. And that’s why he shows up every day for work. He wants those opportunities to not just exist but to increase for folks like him. It’s about integration and being a complete community, not just a community of people and then those with disabilities on the side.

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Culture

Take a Look at This Touching Hallmark Display Created By Mr. Rogers!

Kevin Wells

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In the era of online trolling, it can be hard to find consistently positive news stories. The world seems rife with strife and there is always some negative headline or another trending around the world. In order to buck the trend of cynicism that seems to have become so popular, we are going to highlight a sugar-sweet story about one of the most beloved figures in entertainment history, Mr. Fred Rogers.

With the recent release of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the world seems to have gone slightly Mr. Rogers crazy. The majority of people reading this right now probably grew up watching Mr. Rogers on television. From how he took off his sweater to the way he laced his shoes before bringing us to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, we were all captivated and enthralled. As it turns out, Mr. Rogers wasn’t just a sweetheart on television, he also stood by his lifestyle when the cameras quit rolling. What do we mean by that? Well, that’s a great question!

According to a recent Washington Post story, Mr. Fred Rogers had been asked to help decorate one of Hallmark’s flagship locations in Manhattan for the Holidays. With Mr. Rogers an absolute sensation among children and families at the time, the collaboration made a ton of sense. After visiting the store, Mr. Rogers saw that the Hallmark shop had been decked out with ornate, elaborate, and luxurious decorations. This was never Mr. Roger’s style, so he decided to do something different. The Mister Roger’s Neighborhood star would decide to flip the fashion trend on its head by introducing his own unique display. What did the humble Mr. Rogers decide on for his decoration? Imagine standing before a small glass case that is completely clear and see-through. Within the tree, you can see a single growing Norfolk Island pine with roots and all bared for the world. At the bottom of the display was a small plaque that read, “I like you just the way you are.” Pretty on-brand for Mr. Rogers, right?

In recent years, Fred Rogers has reached an almost mythological level in the world of pop-culture. With a squeaky clean history and an understanding of children that has never been matched by kid’s television, Fred Rogers was a special and unique individual. Through his program, he taught children about community, being a good neighbor, treating others with kindness, and most importantly, treating yourself with kindness and compassion. Thanks to his gentle nature and depth of compassion, Fred Rogers was an instrumental figure in the lives of millions of boys and girls all around the world. Even 16 years after his passing, Mister Rogers Neighborhood continues to inform, guide, and educate children and adults alike.

To hear more about Mister Roger’s incredible story, fans of the man can see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks.  While not an exhaustive biopic, the Tom Hanks-led vehicle was released to rave reviews and adoration from his fans and family.

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Culture

The World Needs More Social Impact Heroes

Kevin Wells

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A person who is a real success is one who makes a positive difference in someone else’s life. Many people believe that they can’t make a difference, or they just don’t know how to make a difference. But in fact anyone can make a difference, and make the world a better place. That is why it is so important to know the stories of these women who have made such a difference in their communities.

L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth is a program that recognizes women who have made a difference in their communities. Anyone can be nominated, as long as they live in the U.S., are at least 18 years of age, and consent to the nomination. The focus is on women who have volunteered in their own communities, and the volunteer work should be ongoing for at least 6 months before the nomination.

Here are just a few of the women who have been nominated for the program:

Shandra Woworuntu is a 2017 honoree who received a $25,000 grant for her chosen organization, Mentari. A survivor herself, Shandra formed the nonprofit organization to help other survivors of human trafficking at no cost, providing much-needed support to an often overlooked group.

Cassandra Lin was only 19 years old when she started Project Turn Grease Into Fuel (TGIF). TGIF is still run by students and allows businesses and individuals to recycle their cooking oil and turn it into biodiesel so that it can be used to heat the homes of people in need. Not only does the project recycle materials that would not otherwise be used, it brings awareness to issues of global warming and sustainability.

Valerie Weisler started The Validation Project after she experienced bullying herself. The Validation Project is currently working with 6,000 students in over 100 countries to give them support after they have experienced bullying. Not only that, the project helps its members engage in social justice projects so they can learn the power they have to help.

Deborah Jiang-Stein started the unPrison Project to help women who have been incarcerated so they can be successful after release. Too often, women are set up to fail, and the relationships with their children are destroyed. 2.7 million children under the age of 18 have a parent in prison, so it is important for them to find support before they end up in a vicious cycle.

More recently, Brittany Schiavone was honored for starting Brittany’s Baskets of Hope. She has Down’s Syndrome herself, and her organization helps provide much-needed support and resources for other parents who are welcoming a Down’s child into their families.

Judy Winter started Ricstar’s Camp because she noticed how much music helped her son with cerebral palsy. She helped her son deal with many challenges, and he got to attend music therapy classes before passing away at the tender age of 12. Ricstar’s Camp provides life-changing opportunities for people with disabilities to focus instead on their abilities.

Social activism is empowering women and giving them their own place in the community. Instead of living up to societal expectations, women are now finding their own passions and dealing with issues like homelessness, social injustice, and poverty on their own time. They are an inspiration for others now and for generations to come.

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Culture

IMPROVING YOUR SELF WORTH THROUGH COMPASSION

Kelly Taylor

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We are born in a competitive world. Long before we can take our first steps, we are encouraged to challenge our limits by comparing ourselves with others in order to perform better. While this may prove to be excellent in the short term, this may weigh heavily on our ideals as there will always be people better than us and whom we may never outdo.

Being healthy should be the primary focus of every individual. Though this may be the case, we live in a society that is constantly focused on body shaming based on standards that are not achievable for all. However, it is possible to achieve a healthy body image by changing our mindset towards those we feel are better than us. Researchers at the University of Waterloo found that women who showed compassion rather than comparison were able to achieve a better body image and had less disordered eating habits! By showing empathy, we appreciate the fact that those we deem perfect have their own challenges and that we, too, need compassion for our own problems.

Women who deliberately exercise compassion towards females they compare themselves to, were more satisfied and had a lower tendency to diet others. This is according to release, which was published in the journal body image, which further found that, by showing compassion, comparison focused women had a reduced tendency to compare themselves with those around them. Comparing yourself to others is an indication of low self-esteem and should assess how they feel about themselves and how much self-confidence they have.

In a study of 120 females of diverse ethnicities, three strategies were used to determine the best self-help strategy that would boost their self-esteem. These had a competitive mindset, caregiving, and distraction mindset omen who showed compassion to the women who they perceived to be better than them, achieved a significant reduction in their unfavorable body comparisons. It was, therefore, concluded that by trying to cultivate compassion for others and wishing them to be happy and free from suffering, has a positive effect on one’s body image and eating habits.

Comparing ourselves to others has a negative impact on our wellbeing as it allows others to drive our behaviors. This is by allowing them to set standards as to what should be ideal while ignoring the fact that none of us is indeed perfect! Comparison is mainly done against the best features of our opponents as compared to our average ones. This becomes illogical as it would be comparing the left hand and the right hand, both have their unique capabilities. Our unconscious realization that we cannot be better than everyone often becomes destructive. At worst, when we compare ourselves to others, we focus our energy on bringing them down rather than raising ourselves. Our primary goal should be better people than we were yesterday.

The essential things in life are measured internally. By focusing on showing compassion, we improve the inner scorecard that allows us to be happier in our relationships and live a more fulfilled life.

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