Category Archives: Special Needs

Finding Your Own Path to Activism

Over the past two weeks, since the Presidential Inauguration, everyone I know is unsettled. No matter who they voted for. Perhaps that is the upside of the upset. Perhaps this is what we needed. Even though it doesn’t feel good or satisfying, perhaps these benefits are worth it?

  • To be clear about how we feel on the issues.
  • To dialogue with those we disagree with.
  • For more people to take action to support what’s important to them.
  • For people to share their money in support of the causes they care about.
  • To be reminded that our point of view isn’t the only point of view.
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By Chad A. Stevens, milesfrommaybe Productions. From the film Overburden about Lorelei Scarbro who became a community organizer in the campaign to build an industrial wind farm along the ridges of mountain whose coal mine killed her husband.

I’ve used my work as a teacher, writer, and now as a marketing strategist to support the causes–and the people and businesses–I believe in.

I worked in Superfund clean up as a US EPA contractor because I believe in clean air and water and healthy ecosystems for people, for living things, and for the future of the planet.

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By Chad A. Stevens, milesfrommaybe Productions. From the documentary flm Overburden. Nonviolent protest on Coal River Mountain on a mountaintop removal preparation site.

I managed chemistry laboratories and taught environmental science at a State University training the future scientists, policy-makers, and planners that will lead us to problem-solving in future generations.

I worked in special education for little pay for years because I believe in the impact public school can have on the lives of special needs children.

I write about theater, music, the arts, environmental innovation, and buying local and supporting local businesses because I believe in their value–for myself, for my family, and for our communities.

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Bellingham Theatre Guild’s 2015 production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

My writing, my communication, and how I approach them are my activism. Perhaps all that’s going on in the world right now is a sign. A sign that its time to wake up, look outside ourselves, and find our own activism.

If we don’t hear the call, we just might lose the freedoms we’ve been taking for granted, the privileges given to us by the activists who came before us. Those activists were every day people. Writers, lawyers, teachers, cooks, students, parents, preachers, nurses, policemen, and even politicians. They are us and we are them.

3684396632_34a663e190_zAnother upside: the action is not hard to find anymore. Don’t be overwhelmed. Choose your cause and pledge to yourself to do some small things. Now and from now on. Add your voice. We can do little alone, but together we are mighty.

Here are seven articles I’ve written so far in 2017 in support of the arts and human rights. Take a look, appreciate the arts, the environment, the rights you enjoy. Then find your activism and get involved.

Mount Baker Theatre Resident Ghost Judy is Blushing in Anticipation of The Irish Rovers and We Banjo 3 at Whatcomtalk.com

Resident Ghost Judy Can’t Wait for Mount Baker Theatre Education Shows at Whatcomtalk.com

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival Explores Critical Issues at Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism Insider Blogs

Art, Nature, History, and Fun at Whatcom Museum in Bellingham at Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism Insider Blogs

Celebrate the Tribute Act at Mount Baker Theater at Whatcomtalk.com

Join Whatcom County’s Vibrant Poetry Scene at Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism Insider Blogs

Appreciating the Poetry of Whatcom County at WhatcomTalk.com

 

The Secret to Eternal Youth

Okay, its no real secret. Youth isn’t eternal. Its ephemeral, which means we have to enjoy the hell out of it before its gone. We all know about the diet, exercise, and sleep yada, yada. But one way to make youth last is a little healthy denial. Never underestimate the value of being playful and taking time out from responsibility to relax and have a little fun.

Inner Child Adults by Rachel AndrewsA non-profit local to my area, Inner Child Studio, is helping everyone–adults included–focus on finding ways to play. It was a joy to write an article for WhatcomTalk.com about all they are doing for our community. With their help, we can keep our minds and bodies sharp and happy.

Book Review–“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”

A fellow parent loaned me the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, when I mentioned that I was struggling with my twin almost-tweens “I can’t” moments. It seemed that whenever things got hard, which was often, our attitude was getting in our way before we’d even begun to try. “I can’t” has lately been banished from our house just like swearing and spitting.

I found that a lot of other parents were also reading it. In the break room at my job as a para educator for the Bellingham School District, I discovered that most of the teachers had read it, and others throughout the district were incorporating this book’s ideals into their classroom learning environment. The main ideal of the book—to develop a “growth mindset” as opposed to a “fixed mindset” –was inspiring teachers to change the way they approached their students learning.

Written by Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford Psychology Professor, the book uses a familiar self-help non-fiction format of real client and celebrity examples to illustrate how unproductive a fixed mindset—the personal belief that when we try and fail, we are just not good (or smart or….) enough—can be compared to a growth mindset, one that sees and feels failure as an exciting personal challenge that can be overcome with more effort. Dweck breaks the book conveniently into separate sections on sports, business, relationships (love and friendship), parenting, and of course, the final section on how the heck to change one’s mindset.

Common in this type of book, there were times when Dweck’s descriptions felt too black and white; we all are living in the grey space. But I found her view insightful and helpful. Simply by creating the awareness, by noticing our own moments stuck in the fixed mindset—about a tried and true argument with my husband, my boy’s struggle with the homework they hate, my friendship with a gal pal that just isn’t working for me anymore—I feel like I have a new tool in the box to tackle these frustrating moments rather than giving up and getting out the ice cream. I realized, to help my kids morph their mindset, I probably need to check in with my own.

Dweck covers the idea introduced in a bevy of other parenting books, that the devil is in the details of how we, as parents, approach praise and failure with our words and actions. She offers suggestions for common hurdles, like denial, entitlement, and precociousness. The author also developed a computer-based animated training called “Brainology™” that teachers and parents can use to increase kids self-mindset-awareness.

Mindset is definitely worth a skim to see where you and your family’s mindsets fall when dealing with challenge and failure, both big and small.

Win a Copy of “Easy to Love But Hard to Raise”

Earlier this month I blogged here about Christina Katz’ Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway. It’s still going strong. You can check out Christina’s site to see all the fabulous books she’s given away thus far.

This coming Saturday, May 26, Christina and I will be giving away a free copy of the anthology Easy to Love But Hard to Raise. Check her web site for the rules, but your odds are great. All you have to do to win is go to her site on May 26 and answer the question of the day in 50-200 words by posting a comment. She will choose one winner for each anthology randomly. Get in to the habit by heading over there every day for the rest of May. She has some amazing titles still to come including:

May 22nd: Natalie Serber, Shout Her Lovely Name (fiction, short stories) More info

May 23rd: Christina Katz, Build Your Author Platform e-workbook (nonfiction, how-to) More info

May 24th: Kristina Riggle, Keepsake (fiction, novel) More info

May 25th: Abigail Green, Mama Insider: Laughing (And Sometimes Crying) All The Way Through Pregnancy, Birth and the First Three Months (e-book, humorous nonfiction) More info

May 26th: Anthology Day! Cara Holman, Lorraine Wilde, Chynna Laird, and Lela Davidson are participating writers

May 27th: Miriam Kobras, award-winning The Distant Shore: Book One of the Stone Trilogy (fiction, romance) More info

May 28th: Allison Winn Scotch, The Song Remains The Same (fiction, novel) More info

May 29th: Lisa Schroeder, It’s Raining Cupcakes More info and Sprinkles and Secrets More info (middle grade fiction novels)

May 30th: Christina Katz, one set of her three books by Writer’s Digest: Writer Mama More info, Get Known Before the Book Deal More info, and The Writer’s Workout More info (all nonfiction, how-to)

May 31st: Karen Karbo, a set of her three kick-as women books: How To Hepburn More info, The Gospel According to Coco Chanel More info, and How Georgia Became O’Keeffe More info (nonfiction)

Easy to Love Parent to Parent

Today I blogged over at Easy to Love… about all that my county Parent to Parent group has done to support my family in our unusual journey through parenthood. Check it out!

“Recovering” from Autism

Today I posted an article over at Easy to Love But Hard to Raise about recent studies focusing on children labeled “bloomers,” kids who were once diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but have effectively shed their diagnosis by age 8. Could children diagnosed with other disorders be bloomers? What characteristics do bloomer’s parents share? And what’s so special about age 8? Read on to find out.

Socially Acceptable

Check out my most recent post over at Easy to Love But Hard to Raise about navigating the confusing social world of the elementary school play date.