When White Privilege Takes a Momentary U-Turn

police car What follows is a series of personal accounts because often without realizing it, those of us in the United States born White, like myself, have experienced a lifetime of privileges compared to people of color. This influences our views with responses like, “Why don’t they just show some respect and everything will be ok!” But what is really going on inside a person when they respond powerfully and maybe even inappropriately in situations steeped in racial profiling? Situations like the ones that prompted strong responses from Michael Brown’s killing by a White police officer in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner’s choke-hold death by police in New York City or the police harassment of Professor Henry Louise Gates Jr. in front of his own home during the events that inspired the infamous “Beer Summit” at the White House in 2009. It seems there will always be fresh wounds to open up old ones for those who have these daily experiences of racism. Reminders that racism in America is far from over. One of my favorite T-shirts that I saw somewhere offers a clue into this world: “I’m tired I’ve been Black all day!”       I'm tired

Of course, all of these perspectives and how we respond to life events are directly correlated to our individual experiences that accumulate over each of our lifetimes. For the most part, we cannot possibly fathom or always have compassion for why some people do what they do; unless we have parallel experiences that offer a glimpse. As a White female, who lived a very underprivileged life as a child and adolescent, I am aware that I have still experienced White privileges; which first occurred when I was a child. Paradoxically, these early events were set in an environment where my Whiteness also offered a brief glimpse of what it must be like to be Black in America all day long.

From 1967-1969, when I was 9-12 years old I lived in East Palo Alto, California. E.P.A. was dubbed Little Nairobi at the time but it actually resembled a mini-Oakland; with only an overpass dividing its poverty-stricken Black neighborhoods from affluent White Palo Alto. Then and now, Palo Alto is one of the wealthiest communities in the country with spacious manicured yards and opulent mansions lining University Avenue. While living in E.P.A. I also received three years of Black history in elementary school.

Interestingly, those three years of Black history ended up being the foundation of my U.S. history during what was a very transient childhood before and after living in E.P.A. Long before most of the U.S. learned about the injustices of slavery from the popular mini-series Roots, I was reading Richard Wright’s Black Boy and Native Son and studying Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. For three years I also witnessed firsthand the San Francisco Bay Area’s contrast of Black and White realities every time my mother drove us across that overpass; where I ogled the mansions lining University Avenue. black boy richard wright

Our family of five children had three who attended elementary school at the time. We were the only White children and I was the oldest. A Korean girl quickly became my best friend and there was also one Latino girl. While I learned about the history of oppression and slavery in America, I shared the experience of poverty with my school peers, and may have even been one of the recipients of the Black Panthers free breakfast program in the SF Bay Area. Though poverty was a shared experience with my peers, my White skin never allowed me to fit in. This was evident from the bullying I endured and by the beating up I received on my daily walk home from school.

Although the feeling of being a perpetual outsider has lingered throughout my life, I truly believe that the reason I did not become bitter from these terrifying, racially motivated events was because they coincided with the descriptions of the cruel Black history I was learning and reading about in the classroom every day. I understood the reasons behind the vitriol of my peers towards me; I was a walking, White target.  Then an event occurred that really cemented the reality of the Black-White disparities in America.

To be clear, I missed huge time periods of school before and after landing in E.P.A. So when I was in 6th grade and we had the standard school testing I was flabbergasted when I was listed as 1 of 3 in our 6th grade class as having made the National Junior Honor Society for our high IQ scores. It was the first commendation I ever remember earning during my elementary education and it really impacted my sense of self-worth. Aside of the self-pride I felt during this moment, something else became blatantly obvious. The other two recipients were my friends, the Korean and the Latina girls. None of the Black students in our class had made the cut! I could not understand this because there were several students in our class that were clearly much smarter than I was. Why didn’t they get to become members of this elite group that came with a special card embossed with a gold flame? Something was amiss and it was all about color but I did not quite understand how until years later when testing bias research revealed the systemic and cultural disparities as the probable reason those brilliant Black peers of mine were passed over. I’ve always wondered what happened to them. The name Skipper Hicks stands out as the smartest one in our 6th grade class that year.  definition of bias

Fast forward 20+ years later. I was an alternative high school teacher in what was labeled the Whitest County in California at the time. Here I saw the continuing trends of racial bias in the U.S. in our small alternative high school, Sierra Mountain High School; which had a higher percentage of students of color than the larger, comprehensive high school in Nevada County. As a teacher I became privy to student accounts of bullying and racial slurs that explained why students had not felt welcome at Nevada Union High School at the time; practically forcing them to attend the alternative high school for reasons of self-preservation.

Moreover, as a high school teacher, I heard numerous frustrating stories about young men in their late teens and early 20’s being stopped by police while driving. I also drove over the speed limit (occasionally) and was stopped for other things like taillights, etc. Yet, I will admit that I was a fairly good looking blonde, White female and never received a ticket during these years. I was fully aware I was experiencing privilege for my looks, age and gender more than anything else. I sympathized with these young men because I understood this level of age and gender profiling was going on; though racial profiling did not seem to be an issue at the time. Young males were familiar members of the community just as I was, but they never seemed to escape that fine or ticket.

Fast forward, 15+ years later. I was living in the Sacramento, Roseville area of California during the middle of the Recession. There I was, minding my own business, driving between Roseville and Sacramento. My driving habits had not changed. Yet, three times in two weeks, I was stopped by a police officer; two times in Roseville and once in Sacramento. I will never forget how the frustration, fear of another ticket I could not afford, and anger welled up in me at that third stop. I was livid! I was unemployed, had just lost everything in the Recession, was living with my children and working to rebuild my life at 50. I did not need another ticket.

n-SPEEDING-TICKET-large570  When the officer walked up to me, it was as if I was watching myself on an episode of Cops. For the first time in my life, instead of using humor to diffuse my anxiety and to create a positive interaction with the officer to help me get out of the ticket, I had attitude! It was obvious that my age was now working against me and no matter how I played it, I could not bring back those looks of 20 years ago. I could not change my age any more than a person can change their skin color. There was no going back for me or them. The only lucky one in this situation seems to be the young, White male who will age, eventually reducing his propensity for being stopped; provided of course, that the pressure for police quotas does not make every little driving infraction by every driver a revenue source for struggling cities. And of course, the only possible lucky ones in each of these scenarios are the temporary privileges of good-looking young women who take the ridiculous pressure off of police to reach quotas; if even for just a few minutes. So, as I was ousted from that exclusive club, the officer obviously working on a quota, doled out a very hefty $450 ticket to me that day rather than the standard warning of 20 years ago. Wow! So this is what it’s like to get profiled!  It is common knowledge in the Black community that Blacks get stopped more than Whites, hence the infamous Driving While Black slogan.  Driving While Black - TJ Holmes

But something else occurred to me on that day. I realized that this is exactly why it is so hard for people who are profiled, whether it be for age, ethnicity or gender, not to be disrespectful; especially when the unfair singling out is repeated and repeated and repeated. That third ticket, when my White privilege took a U-turn, was just an affirmation of how wrong our criminal justice system is and how much bias still plays into the outcomes and how hard it is to maintain one’s composure after experiencing so much injustice. And it is the poor and struggling who are hurt most, when their daily economic struggles are exacerbated with costly, time-consuming tickets.  Furthermore, these experiences have illuminated me about how police quotas factor into bias and racial profiling.

I suppose my White privilege has returned since then. Although I drive much more carefully, I know that my skin color is still saving me on the road. I have recently reflected on yet another experience of White privilege that I had without realizing it. It involved an ex-husband who used to have a drug habit; a habit that put him and me at incredible risk. I now know deep in my soul that he would have been in prison a long time ago if he had been Black and that I may just have had charges pressed against me back then if I had been Black because I discovered that there were many times when we were driving that he had contraband on his person and in my vehicle, unbeknownst to me. This seems to align with national statistics because Whites have higher rates of drug use than Blacks, yet we were just the lucky ones because we were never stopped!

Finally, in a sort of warped, time travel coincidence, my childhood awareness of Black/White disparities was reopened when I was working for six months on the White side of Palo Alto in 2008. I was astounded when I read a current story online in the SF Gate. Lynne Johnson  The police chief, Lynne Johnson, who eventually retired, instructed her officers to stop all Black males wearing “Doo rags” due to recent neighborhood robberies by a Black male wearing a doo rag. Yes! We have come so far, but we still have so far to go. I am sure they don’t stop all White males with beards when there is a crime by a White male with a beard in Palo Alto!

* Congratulations for making it to the end of this very long post! Just want to explain that I use Wikipedia frequently as a resource link to prevent ads from dominating resource information and to by-pass lengthy research published that would be ultra-boring to the layperson. I am happy to send any formal research on above subjects if you are interested.

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A New Crisis in the Making or a Crisis Averted? Mental Illness & Chronic Pain Management Under the ACA

The post below this introductory paragraph was published almost a year ago. Yesterday, my fears became reality in ProPublica’s article on the rise of controlled substances through medicare, “As Controlled Substance Use Rises in Medicare, Prolific Prescribers Face More Scrutiny.”  Although the statistics used in this article was before the ACA went into effect; the same potential for abuse and abuse has been established through this reportage. Under-served communities have suffered enough without a new host of drug addictions plaguing them. I applaud this investigative piece and pray it truly reflects an overwhelming overtone of scrutiny to prevent a new generation of heroin addicts. On the other hand, I also pray that alternative treatments, health and wellness methods of healing the wounds of chronic community trauma will become the norm over prescription drugs for all! Below is my original post on this issue:

In light of the new Affordable Care Act, I have been analyzing what could be unintended consequences of providing health care and mental health care to populations that have not had previous access to these resources. The historical trend for medical providers has been to take the quick route in treatment through the medical model. For this reason it is vital that all public health Imageleaders, health care providers, program designers and policymakers be critically aware of what could be our next health care crisis through the possible escalating of profiteering by the Health Disparities Industry.

I was first made aware of the possibility of a medically-induced crisis in 2013 while conducting a mental health assessment of public housing residents. During interviews, several residents expressed disappointment in the one available mental health clinic; with clinicians that had a standard procedure of dispensing medications. Some residents avoided this clinic to address their mental health needs and instead, expressed the strong desire for counseling services. Consequently, I started imagining the future of mental health and medical providers lacking resources, without systems in place to handle the immense needs associated with deferred mental health and wellness care in vulnerable urban populations; populations rife with ongoing family and community trauma. They avoided this clinic to address their mental health needs and instead, expressed the strong desire for counseling services. Image

Prescribing medications could quickly become the default as a quick fix, making it easy for more pharmaceuticals to slip into urban environments, merely replacing illegal with legal drugs; with guaranteed payment through the ACA. We have already seen the suburban heroin epidemic resulting from a similar pattern of treatment with painkillers. A new, national explosion of ‘legal’ drug addicts will further traumatize families and communities. Legal or illegal, treating mental health challenges primarily through a medical model is a lose-lose; especially if mental health symptoms are PTSD the result of persistent, un-addressed personal and/or community trauma. If providers do not have the built in resources to address trauma with counseling and coping skills along with supportive upstream policies to prevent trauma from occurring, we as a nation will be suffering a host of much more costly side effects down the road from this oversight.

Looking deeper, in low-income urban communities where unemployment, racial profiling, absent fathers, violent crime and drug use are prevalent, generations of disenfranchised populations of color have been experiencing high levels of personal and community trauma. This trauma is just now being identified as untreated PTSD in many cases. Concurrently, these populations have not had access to preventive health and wellness care, so they have coped in their own ways, which is often repeating the cycle of self-medication, which can lead to drug abuse, crime, violence and child neglect. So my question is: What will happen when these people, virtually overnight, have access to overwhelmed medical providers that can just make the problem go away, for a moment, by prescribing a medication; a medication that may become a lifetime prescription and addiction? This is a serious question everyone in the public health field should be asking.  This is the new frontier of the Health Disparities Industry that the pharmaceutical industry will no doubt be willing to capitalize on unless public health leaders have a system of accountability by medical providers and a system of resources to address decades of deferred mental health and wellness treatment.

Treatment of mental health challenges can be aided with medications in some cases, but the most effective and self-sustaining treatment addresses the underlying issues of mental illness and drug use; the traumas that may be associated with mental illness and drug use. Trauma-informed care takes these factors into consideration. Just as the Veteran’s Administration (VA) has seen the exponential leap in prescription drug abuse and suicides by veterans suffering from PTSD, we must see the same potential for this practice to infect vulnerable urban communities. ImageJust as the VA has found very effective replacement methods of addressing PTSD for veterans through behavioral therapy, yoga and meditation, shouldn’t we as public health professionals be advocating for these treatments for the public, rather than a costly medical model of treatment?

Treatment of chronic pain often shares the same paths of potential abuse and can also be helped more effectively through alternative methods. How do we get ahead of this potential trend? How do public health professionals advocate for preventive and alternative treatment solutions before millions of urban trauma victims become addicted to ‘legal’ prescription medications that the public and the Health Disparities Industry condones? Perhaps the American Public Health Association (APHA) can take leadership on this issue to circumvent this potential disaster.

Further Research:

* Abram, K. M., Teplin, L. A., King, D. C., Longworth, S. L., Emanuel, K. M., Romero, E. G., … & Olson, N. D. (2013). PTSD, Trauma, and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders in Detained Youth.

* Corbin, T. J., Rich, J. A., Bloom, S. L., Delgado, D., Rich, L. J., & Wilson, A. S. (2011). Developing a Trauma-Informed, Emergency Department–Based Intervention for Victims of Urban Violence. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 12(5), 510-525.

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Government Policies have Failed the African American Family

Government Policies have Failed the African American Family

In order to fully appreciate what Eric Holder has done this week (by changing the policies of the U.S. criminal justice system) involves a little perspective. For African Americans who have literally experienced centuries of social, housing, education, job and wage discrimination, the need to rely on government assistance has been greater. Welfare Reform and Drug Laws of the 1990’s increased the burdens on African American families because Racial Profiling has disproportionately affected this population. Historically, these laws and policy changes have denied (and still do in most states), those with a felony any public housing, education, welfare/medical benefits. So, you have a growing population of predominantly African American males cut out of support and also threatening their family assistance if they live in the home.

Hence, the further destruction of the family unit, where fathers are pushed onto the streets with no other choice than to repeat-offend and threaten communities. We have failed as a country with centuries of racism and what were well-meaning policies with destructive unintended consequences.

Ending the overt criminal justice disparities is just one step in a long line of steps and policy changes needed to start valuing the African American male in the home and society. We are all losing with the status quo so I am more than thrilled to see a shift in policies.

Of course, the Hispanic/Latino community has also experienced these challenges in past decades and this commentary does not intentionally leave them out. My point is to highlight the deeply entrenched history of African American policy discrimination that will not go away overnight and will not change for the better until we see where we came from first.

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August 14, 2013 · 6:45 pm

The Womanly Art of Listening to Our Bodies

First of all, I need to make a disclaimer. A portion of this post heading is taken from a wonderful and well-respected book by La Leche League I read over 38 years ago, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” I read it during a time when I was preparing for my first child and preparing for childbirth and beyond. This was my first lesson in learning to listen to my body.

This morning, some 38 years later and a lifetime of listening, I was awakened by this thought, “The Womanly Art of Listening to Our Bodies” and how even though the time may not be the best to write this, because I have scholarships to apply for and work to do to prepare for the next semester of grad school, I cannot help but listen to this message and put it out there.

The message is: Our thoughts and feelings (or emotions) are inextricably linked to our bodies! Once we recognize this, the knowledge is immensely powerful. I have been so fortunate to attract mentors and educational opportunities in my life from the days I was a pregnant teen at 15 to my life today, a mother of 3 and grandmother of 8; now the age of 54.

I learned from natural childbirth that “attitude IS everything!” If you think it is pain, it is painful! If you think of it as the process that brings you your angel, then it is manageable.

I learned from 7 years in La Leche League that if you always remember in the back of your mind that breastfeeding is a normal, natural process that mammals have been doing successfully for millenia and trusting this natural process, your milk will come and challenges are only bumps in the road, not roadblocks.

I learned from reading Adelle Davis’ “Let’s Have Healthy Children” that our foods are full of everything we need if we learn to trust the foods that have been provided by nature. We do not have to buy expensive food to nourish our bodies properly. By being more efficient with our food choices, we can bring health to our families within any budget.

I learned from my 10 years working in the field of biofeedback, that the mind and our inner emotions are incredibly powerful and that our body speaks to us continually. Whether we listen or not is the real challenge! When we listen, we reduce suffering and illness and increase our quality of life. When we ignore the signs, we suffer from a variety of ills, including accidents and injuries.

So much more to share and no time to do it right now, but I want to leave you with this thought, please take the time to just be quiet without any outside electronic or other interference at least once every day. Listen and acknowledge and make the little adjustments you know deep down that you will benefit from. Little by little, you will find that the simple adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” will improve your daily quality of life, your health and your future!

Until next time,
Granny Pants
(Oh yeah, this photo was taken of me in 2002. I just found it and had to use it to brighten my day. The Yuba River is in the background. Love that place!)

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January 20, 2013 · 6:48 pm

Grandma Heads Off To College: A Recession Era Tale



               I drove through the quiet, manicured suburban Roseville neighborhood I would no longer call home this morning. My swollen eyes and red splotchy face were the affirmation that I had made the right decision not to put on make-up after my morning shower. That was the last shower I would take as a permanent resident in my daughter’s home. At one point, my daughter knocked asking, “Are you OK Mom?” which I answered, “Yes” though I didn’t tell her I had been in the bathroom for an extra-long time this particular morning because I had been balling my eyes out while writing my two little grandchildren, Hudson (4) & Dayton (2) their good-bye, I will miss you cards. I also didn’t tell my daughter that the first time I walked into a drug store to buy a Thank You Card for their family, I started crying so much that I just had to leave!

Yes! Today is the day I headed off to college! Yet, unlike the eighteen year-old, I am leaving behind six of my eight grandchildren, two of my three daughters, my roses, the vegetable garden, most of my belongings (in storage), my two son-in-laws (who probably aren’t crying) and Baxter, my daughter’s ten year-old pug that may not live to my next visit. (I just realized that in my blubbering, that I forgot to say goodbye to Baxter!)

The impetus for my unstoppable fountain of tears is because I am leaving my youngest grandchildren whom I have lived with for most of their little lives. How will I get along without anyone to share with when I see a magnificent bird, an egg shell from a nest or a giant caterpillar? Who will be there to be just as amazed at the sunset as my little 2 year-old granddaughter Dayton, who asked me to pull the blinds up last night so she wouldn’t miss the “set-sun?” Who will care about whether or not the “owie” on my finger has healed yet? Who will be there to never tire of playing card games, like my three oldest grandsons?

Regardless of the monumental suffering these daily dilemmas and others will create for my aching heart, I had to leave! I had to leave for the very reasons my eighteen year-old granddaughter, Elora left her friends and family behind last year to head to college. If I didn’t leave, I would have the pressure of a poverty-stricken or very family dependent retirement looming large over my loved ones. I had to get my rear-end to graduate school quick!

This was never my plan, yet it was always an unspoken dream cast away after decades of repetitive mental reality checks every time I saw those enviable titles after someone’s name that I knew I could never compete with, no matter what I had accomplished in my life: MPH, PhD. EdD. MSW, etc…

If I listed the journeys I have taken to get to this moment, I would never get through this post, so I won’t. Briefly, after losing my home, my retirement, my marriage and with wages plummeting, I only had the hope to work for $12-15 hr. with little chance for benefits, if I worked in the field I Ioved, without those three initials. My daughter and her husband and 2 babies took me in and we have helped each other for the last 2 ½ years. I am so grateful for them and what they did to bring our family together. Truly one of the better outcomes of this recession has been the return of the extended family experience.

Grandiose plans to be a famous author and “child expert” six years ago were quickly dashed during the recession after I self-published my first book, The New Physics of Childhood (IUniverse, 2009).  Not only was it rejected by many because I did not have a credential behind my name like, PhD., MSW, EdD., etc. I realized that the tone of it (due to a lifetime of pent-up experiences) was somewhat arrogant and harsh. I began the rewrite immediately, along with edits by several professionals. Then the publishing industry took a dive and so did my income. It was time to set idealistic dreams aside and make way for Plan X.

Foreclosure, bankruptcy and divorce (in that order) were juxtaposed to my extinguished author dreams. I knew that the once well-paid work I had done earlier as a caregiver was a very temporary replacement and sabbatical to my teaching career, yet this job title had lasted for over a decade and seemed it was my only real option for earning income forever, unless I had a Master’s Degree! With a Master’s, I could finally earn the respect of my years, since wrinkles don’t show well on a resume. After researching and allowing the dream to simmer, I knew that a Master’s in Public Health was the only way for me. It would allow me to focus on my passion for Preventive Health Education, while also giving me incredible opportunities to influence public policy and the health of communities. It would also provide me with the potential for a real income and benefits so I can rebuild my life and my nest egg before I allow myself the luxury of retirement in my mid-70’s.

I could have never imagined that when everything was gone, save my beautiful family, that the only option was actually the dream I had so wanted, yet had never uttered or allowed myself to think of. This dream also occupies the same space as my dream to be a well-known and respected author one day. *

For now, the reality is one dream at a time! I prepared for two years by taking brush-up courses and using the time to finally become fluent in Spanish. All of my experiences and preparation in the last two and a half years got me accepted to the 3 programs I applied for! In August, I begin my journey in San Francisco State University’s MPH Program in Community Health Education. Yeah!!!!!!

I am saving money by couch-surfing for a month, while I work in my field of choice, in preparation for grad school. I am not thrilled about taking any student loans out and am hoping my second year in school is funded solely by scholarships and part-time work. I have a lot to accomplish professionally, and am committed to being a full participant in my graduate school experience.

During my undergrad career, I was a single mother raising three daughters. I had no time for friends or campus activities. All I wanted to do was race home to my daughters every day after school. The 3-hour commute to higher education ate up many precious hours with my daughters as it was. Now, I am one mile from campus and by myself to focus on school work, etc. Maybe I will even make some friends, something that hasn’t really been a part of my life with every second going to family. Though I am realistic enough to know that I won’t really have time to do much of this or to sit around and play cards while I am in grad school. However, I am already looking forward to visits “back home” to indulge my inner card playing junkie.

Yes, this day, this life, this new chapter is the perfect description of a bitter-sweet moment. I will miss my family in Roseville, but I will actually have more time with my youngest daughter and other grandson, now that I am closer to them.

Beyond the tears and tugging of little heart strings, life is good! I even received a $1,000 scholarship by a wonderful organization that felt compelled by my personal journey. Perhaps there are more angels like this in my future. I sure hope so, because as this Grandma heads off to college, I need all of the angels I can get, yet nothing will take the place of the beautiful family I have waiting for me when I return home after I receive my Master’s in Public Health! It will be the 1st. Master’s Degree in our family, just as my AA & BA were when I received them, years ago. I hope one day I can be an inspiration for my grandchildren so they know that it is never an option to give-up or give-in and that it is never too late for your dreams to come true!

*CONFESSION   – In the middle of preparing to leave for grad school, the writer in me just had to get that one last lick in! I formatted the 30+ years of my children’s stories and printed them out for my grandchildren to read in my absence. More on this project in future posts.

Hasta Luego!  Got places to go, things to do, people to see!

Christina Ivazes

aka Granny Pants


Filed under Banks, Barack Obama, children, community, Education, Elders, foreclosure, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Granny Pants, health care, jobs, mother, Parenting, prevention, teaching, The New Physics of Childhood, Writing

10 Study Skills that Really Matter!

Effective study and lifestyle habits are the real factor in academic success, most often superseding economic, intellectual, or age factors.

Personally, I had to learn how to study effectively because I was not taught or required to study as a child. This list of recommendations is for everyone, young and old. It is based on my personal experiences as a student, teacher, caregiver, mother and grandmother.

1. KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES– This is the first step to deciding your study strategies. Everyone has some challenges with studying. Most students have multiple challenges. Knowing your weaknesses and admitting them is the first step to getting your study habits into ship-shape so you don’t waste a single minute of your precious personal time studying in ineffective circles that not only rob you of fun, but also rob you of the best grades and opportunities that you deserve. By eliminating your time wasters and over-confidence when you actually need to increase study time, you will actually have better grades, more energy and have more time for the people and activities you love without those nagging feelings haunting you.

2. IF YOU TEND TO PROCRASTINATE– Set up a plan to reward yourself with personal time and activities only after you have finished your work or have studied enough to have a good command of materials. Study your most challenging subjects first when you have the most energy. Save easy study tasks like making flash cards last when you don’t need to think as deeply. Isn’t it interesting how it can be very difficult to study effectively at night when we are tired but we are never too tired to talk to our friends! Use this fact to your advantage.

3. IF YOU ARE EASILY DISTRACTED– Create a private, comfortable and well-lit space with no distractions. Use earplugs or headphones if needed to reduce environmental distractions. Turn off any computer or phone notifications while studying. Notify your parents and friends when you are studying and tell them that you will return their calls/texts or requests when you are finished. Give yourself a 15-minute reward for personal/free time at the end of every hour of non-stop, focused studying. Make sure you get up and move around during this free time to bring the blood back into your brain that tends to become lodged in the bottom after sitting for long periods of time. (A walk around the block during study breaks can do wonders to energize you and increase your memory.)

4. WRITE CLEAR & DETAILED NOTES WHILE YOU ARE IN CLASS & STUDYING & ENSURE YOU HAVE WRITTEN EVERYTHING DOWN NECESSARY –Do not fall into the “I will remember this” pattern. Back-tracking and searching for information later can be a huge time and energy waster! Tools such as highlighting, side notes on the page and colorful tabs can save time later on.

5. WRITE A STUDY LIST EVERY DAY & BREAK DOWN ASSIGNMENTS INTO SMALL, MANAGEABLE TASKS – Do this right after school or first thing in the morning on non-school days. – This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and prevent you from knowing where to begin. It also makes it easier to check off your priority list and block study sessions which increase the feeling and awareness of your real progress. If you tend to overlook and forget your assignments, check with your instructor after every class to make sure you have all assignments and notes down correctly and thoroughly.

6. ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING TO STUDY IN YOUR BAG OR BACKPACK – Choose the items you are most challenged with so you can study whenever you can. Flash cards or reading assignments are the easiest things to have handy. Make a copy of a complex reading assignment and have in your bag to read and highlight. Whenever you have an unexpected delay or free moment, pull out your studies instead of your phone and you will have more free time to communicate with friends without stress at the end of the day!

7. ENSURE MAXIMUM COMPREHENSION OF ALL MATERIAL BY USING EFFICIENT TOOLS WHILE YOU READ– Before you read anything, understand, read or write down what it is you are supposed to know from reading the passage or chapter. Read the questions however, not the answer choices! Then as you read the first time, highlight any key points that fit your comprehension goals. If you are not able to highlight, write notes as you read, noting the paragraph or page number. If possible, copy the passage and highlight that. Next, re-read the questions and read the passage again, but this time as you read, write notes on what you think the answers or main points are to the assignment. Then go to the questions and see if any match your understanding of the material. If you need to write an essay, you will then have the best notes possible to create your outline!

8. DO NOT SKIP ANY STEPS OR QUESTIONS & UTILIZE ALL AVAILABLE STUDY RESOURCES UNTIL YOU KNOW A SUBJECT INSIDE AND OUTUnless you are repeating information with an “A” mastery level; not just until you think you have it. Mastery comes from repeating exercises, quizzing, re-reading, re-writing and explaining the subject to others. Much of the frustration of studying comes from the missing pieces of information we pretend we know or don’t need. Then we cannot operate with all of our potential and often struggle unnecessarily. Study resources include materials in all media forms such as audio, visual, study groups, tutors and whatever resources the instructor has recommended. Using all of your senses is extremely important, especially if you are challenged with a subject. The more senses that experience the information you are learning, the deeper the knowledge will go and the less likely you are to forget it because you have it understood in a multitude of layers. Remember that the most effective way to comprehend and remember material is to discuss it with others; hence the study group.

9. BE AT YOUR BEST BY ENSURING YOUR SLEEP, EXERCISE & NUTRITION NEEDS ARE BEING MET – Exercising daily will increase your memory, energize you, keep your immune system strong and prevent insomnia. Getting the right amount of sleep (about 8 hours/night) will also ensure you can think clearly while you are in class, studying and testing. Energy drinks, coffee, tea and/or drugs in the place of sleep, exercise or nourishing meals wear down your immune system, increase insomnia and fatigue, leaving you with less energy and more health problems in the long run. Contrary to popular thought, if you eat snacks with less sugar and/or carbohydrates and instead eat snacks with protein rich snacks, you will have more lasting energy and increased brain functions without experiencing the “carb-crash” which can affect your ability to study properly. A bag of nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit or jerky are great things to have on hand at all times.

10. RE-ASSESS YOUR STUDY HABITS AND EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AFTER EVERY TESTING OR GRADING PERIOD – Set yourself up for success, not for failure. It often takes about 1 ½ semesters to adopt effective study habits that become natural. Commit to your study plan if it is working but re-tool it if it is not. Ask your instructor how much you should be studying each day for each class and arrange your schedule around honesty about how much you need to study instead of denial about how much you need to study. Eliminate any extra activities until you are achieving the grades and knowledge mastery you desire. Remember that exercise, sleep, eating properly and an allotted amount of personal time to enjoy life are not extra-curricular activities but necessary for your health, well-being and good grades!


Filed under children, Education, exercise, Families, Fathers, insomnia, media, mentor, mother, nutrition, prevention, teaching, technology, teenagers, Writing

STOP! Before you shop for the holidays, read this:


2011 Holidays for the 99% Across the Globe – Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans and other countries with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of

local labor. This year can be different. This year Americans and other countries can give the gift of genuine concern for their own

local economies. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by

local hands. Yes there is! It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your

local hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement. Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small,

locally owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates. Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course or recreation facility or skating rink. There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the

local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open. How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy? Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day. My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

If you are still fortunate enough to have a

local bookstore, it may cost a few extra dollars to purchase a book from them, but it will be worth every penny.

OK, you were looking for something more personal.

Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes and old fashioned wooden toys for children.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a

local play or ballet at your hometown theatre. Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands. Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip. You see, Christmas should not be about draining local pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas should be caring about US, encouraging local small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about our fellow countrymen, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine. Make this the new international Christmas tradition. Forward this to everyone on your mailing list — post it to discussion groups — throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city — send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments. This is a revolution of the 99% caring about each other and isn’t that what Christmas is about?

Children’s gifts can be just as inventive and supportive to

local economies from local movie, dance, music or theatre tickets that support teen theatre workers to

local bookstores, classes, fun houses, museum memberships, hair salons, ski resorts, etc.

Please pass this on! I cut and pasted and modified this message so it does not get tracked by whoever tracks our group emails because I generally do not pass on anything from email but this was too good to drop the ball.

Like this idea? You can also “like” it on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-99-Supporting-Local-Economies-for-the-Holidays/273216302721563

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Filed under community, Craigslist, Families, Grandparents, prevention, teaching