• Benefits Of Fiction

     

    “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read to a child.” -Dr. Seuss
    Children are the gateway to our future, thus it is important to help them realize all that life has to offer. Being the little impressionable ones they are, children model off of the adults in their lives. So, what are you teaching the future generation? Think about it… Are you showing them messages of hope, strength, compassion, trust, honesty? What about empathy for others? If you yourself find it hard to incorporate these qualities, then it is likely that the children in your life will find it difficult as well. So, in addition to modeling, how can you help incorporate positive influences into children’s, and even your life? Start with the things that you and the children in your life are exposed to. One thing is reading. Do you and the children in your life like to read? If not, how come? If so, what type of books? Reading has many benefits, one being that it offers the reader an escape from their current reality. Every once in a while a person needs a distraction, especially if they are facing a lot of stress in their life. A distraction, such as reading can cause a person to feel calmer, even if it is only for a moment. Those moments add up; making it through the difficulties. Also, what about knowledge, many books offer wisdom and insight that was not previously known. Not to mention, empathy. Yes, there has been studies that books, particularly fiction, helps a person become more empathetic.
    In the journal, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Psychologist, Keith Oatley, talks specifically about how fiction can impact a person’s social skills. This is not a new phenomenon, and with that said, Oatley’s aim is to build upon existing research. He, along with other researchers, devised a test to evaluate respondents way of thinking.
    The respondents were given 36 images of people’s eyes and were instructed to select 4 phrases that they believe most accurately matched what each individual might be thinking or feeling. The 4 choices were reflective, aghast, irritated, or impatient. The results concluded that when compared with respondents who read non fictional books, those who read fictional books have a lot higher scores, indicating a greater level of empathy. Remember, empathy is all about understanding.
    The takeaway is that fiction, whether it is books or television, helps a person have an increased understanding of their social world; the relationship between ourselves and others. Fiction creates a world of imagination, and each story invites us, the reader/viewer, to take a trip through another’s journey. The next time you find yourself reading or viewing some type of fiction, ask yourself, what have I gained from this story? You might be surprised by the answer.

  • S.T.R.E.S.S.

    “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” -William James
    With life comes joy, happiness, but also not making anyone exempt from struggle and stress. If you think about it, life can be like a joy ride sometimes; fun and exciting at times, yet provoking stress during the scary moments. You keep getting in that car, hoping for another thrill, a life changing opportunity. Isn’t that why people wake up each morning, get dressed, and put one foot in front of another? That expectation, hope that their day will bring them one of joy, prosperity. Joy and prosperity can mean different things to people, changing throughout our lives. For example, let’s look at college students.
    College is a time of excitement, self discovery, independence, and optimism. Yet, with all of these experiences, comes stress and even depression. Sometimes that joy ride is not what a person expected, or what if it is? The knowledge that the joy ride might end can be stressful as well. With adulthood comes with responsibilities, ones that people may feel they are not ready for. In college, you have new surroundings, new friends, new classes, new experiences, new responsibilities, and on top of that, new fears. So, how does someone handle all of that at once? The answer varies. Some take it in strides, some self medicate, self harm, and others may seek emotional support. There are campus supports to help students deal with their varying emotions, but it is an underutilized resource. Some people don’t seek out mental health support due to lack of time, denial of problem severity, and/or embarrassment. Below are 6 reasons people of all ages, especially college students should seek out mental health support.
    Support given.
    Trusting, confidential relationship.
    Respect for your thoughts, experiences, feelings.
    Empowering, providing confidence that you are in the driver’s seat.
    Strength to keep moving forward amidst the struggles.
    Succeed in your endeavors with awareness and determination.

    *If you are in need of mental health support, please visit your campus counseling center or if not a college student, universities offer discounted services to the public, but space can be limited. You can also visit www.psychologytoday.com for a therapist finder in your area. Psychology Today also has some interesting, informative articles on various topics, stress being one of them. Remember, you are not alone, support is a phone call away.

  • I Am What I Am

    A symbol of opportunity,
    A symbol of independence,
    I assist those on their journey.
    I am what I am.
    Stopping road blocks along the way,
    I am a symbol of safety.
    A high level of trust many have in me,
    It is a heightened responsibility.
    I am what I am
    Standing tall and strong,
    I am a symbol of courtesy.
    Some people move out my way,
    Some offer a lending hand,
    Some open doors,
    Some even share a part of their story.
    I am what I am.
    I am a white long cane!

    October 15 of each year, is a designated day, where the people across the world pay tribute to the mobility aid that has and continues to impact the lives of many. For me, the white cane represents security. It lets others know that I can’t see them, while also protecting me from obstacles. What does the white cane mean to you?

  • Empowering All

    October is a busy month with people showing awareness to several causes, such as domestic violence, breast cancer, bullying prevention, and disability employment. For the sake of this blog post, I am going to talk about disability employment awareness. Millions of people are face with a visible and/or invisible disability. If a person is not directly impacted by a disability, chances are that they know of someone who is. The number of people living with a disability is rising, as many are living longer, due to medical advances. The more people being impacted by disability, the more awareness is being created, diminishing societal stereotypes and biases, right? Actually, no. Stereotypes and biases still exist for individuals with disabilities, causing high unemployment rates, barriers to healthcare, and social isolation. One of the biggest fear of Americans is to attain a disability. Particularly, a study was conducted five years ago polled people on their thoughts of blindness. The majority of the respondents would rather have a major heart attack than acquire blindness. We live in such an abled bodied society, so much that people would rather face a life threatening event than live without eyesight.
    This fear is brought about by one thing, stereotypes, which gives way to biases. As humans it is a part of nature to categorize others and place them according to those judgements. It is what we do with those judgements that can be detrimental to a person. If you use those judgements to form stereotypes; knowing how a person will behave and/or act before interacting with them. These believes lead way to biases, preferring one group over another. Biases can be intentional to unintentional. However, unintentional biases does not excuse a person’s actions, thus it is their responsibility to recognize their behavior and take corrective measures. There is a project conducted by Harvard and other Universities to help individuals recognize their unintentional biases. Check out the following link to take the test: implicit.harvard.edu

    Knowledge equals power, so do something with that by creating more self awareness. I went to an Autism conference, addressing underserved populations; people of color. One fact that was discussed, pertained to newly acclimated healthcare workers. When asked about their thought regarding those with disabilities, most answered this population was helpless and a burden to society. Helpless and a burden. Two words that invoke maltreatment for those they serve. Being a blind individual with a chronic illness, I felt myself tense up and shake my head. Let me state that having biases does not make you a bad person, it is whether or not you take the effort to change those thought processes that is the defining moment. In many instances, studies have shown that education and trainings do not change a healthcare worker’s point of view right away, but it may shift over time.
    Whether or not you take the above test, my question to you, is what are your biases and how have they shown up in your life? Be honest with yourself, if not anyone else. You have the power to change yourself. Time is of the essence, how will you spend it?

  • Behind The Screen

    In the era of technology, it is second nature for some to type, snap a pic, and click send without a second thought. It has become a way of living, leaving every moment in a person’s life open for all to witness. Technology can initiate relationships, while also driving some a part. Technology has the power to help boost a person’s persona, while also having the potential to destroy another’s. The key word is “help” because technology does not have the sol power, it is the person behind the machines, who initiate the actions. One action that comes to mind, is bullying.
    By definition, bullying means, using superior strength to influence or intimidate someone. The internet is often used for that exact reason, to intimidate someone. This rings true for both teens and adults. What causes a person to bully? A variety of reasons, such as ability to control, low self esteem, jealousy. Throw in technology, and there is a lack of personal responsibility or consequences behind the typed words/images. However, with the rise of suicides and targeted assaults, the language people use and the modality they use it, is being revolutionized.
    Particularly, Instagram is taking a stance to revolutionize the online platform by monitoring negative, dangerous comments/images that can be portrayed as being bullying. Senseful Sensoring is a good way to put it. In 2017, the company began using a tool that would recognize words and phrases that are associated with bullying. This year Instagram decided to take it a step further by doing the same thing visually as well. It launched this month. One example of the visual censoring, would be split screen images because that is often used to compare people.
    Instead of bullying, show kindness, which Instagram helps their users do. They have a kindness filter, which would release kind comments with pictures. For me, the take away message should be, build each other up, not tear them down because in the long run, no one benefits from maltreatment. So, not just for one day, month, or year, but all the time, be kind to others.

  • Acting It Out

    A stage, life is to be,
    Where we the actors, have our given roles.
    Daughter, sister, Aunt, Social Worker, disabled individual,
    Just to name a few,
    All roles assigned to me, to which I hold with great responsibility.
    With every individual, every group,
    There can be a lack of understanding, sheer curiosity.
    Everyone is different, no one person is the same.
    For standing up and being your true, authentic self, takes bravery.
    Showing others that is ok to be who they are, you are setting the stage for them to live with great dignity.
    No person is greater than another.
    No matter how much they think they are,
    You matter too, you have integrity.

  • Disability Does Not Mean Inability

    Your ability is unique to you,
    whatever your talents may be,
    know that you can accomplish what you set your mind to.
    Disability does not mean inability.
    When the waves of doubt come rushing to shore,
    be ready for the difficulty that lies ahead,
    while telling yourself,
    I will make it through, as I have before.
    Disability does not mean inability.
    The feelings of dispair,
    the tears of hopelessness,
    will blow on by, in a night’s air.
    Disability does not mean inability.
    When the current subsides,
    when the calmness sets,
    Take a deep breath because you have survived the ride.
    Disability does not mean inability.

    It takes one step to move forward towards your goal. Try not to be stagnant.