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Black History – 15 Interesting Facts

February

If you didn’t already know, February is Black History month.  This month-long celebration started out as the Negro History Week Celebration first organized by Carter G. Woodson.  It was chosen because two birthdays came during this time –Frederick Douglas’ and Abraham Lincoln’s.

I ran upon some interesting facts about Black History and just wanted to share.  Take a gander at the information listed below.

Xavier University, a historically black college in Louisiana, has one of the highest success rates in the country of getting their graduates into medical school.

Spelman College in Atlanta is NOT the only historically black college for women, Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina is the other one.

Victor Blanco was the Black mayor of San Antonio in 1809 – before slavery was abolished, while Texas was still part of Mexico.

Frank Wills, a Black security guard, discovered President Nixon’s cover-up which later caused his resignation as President of the United States. Despite Wills’ discovery, he struggled to find work for the rest of his life.

Benjamin T. Montgomery, a former slave, bought the plantations of Confederate President Jefferson Davis at the end of the Civil War, and became one of the biggest cotton planters in Mississippi.

Rex Ingram, a Black actor, bypassed the stereotypes by playing a meaningful role in the film “The Green Pastures” in 1936.

Sophia Tucker and Harriet Giles, the founders of Spelman College, used just $100 to found this Historically Black College.

The African American advisors to President Franklin D. Roosevelt were called the “Black Brain Trust.”

Vermont was the first U.S. territory, in 1777, to abolish slavery. Pennsylvania was the first state to do so, in 1780.

Dr. William Hinton, a Black physician, is credited with creating a test to detect the syphilis disease.

In 1959, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors in Prince Edward County, Virginia, voted to close its public schools in a show of “massive resistance” against integration.  The vast majority of the county’s 1,700 African American students and some white students went without formal education from 1959–1964.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, an African American from Sainte-Domingue (Haiti), built the first permanent settlement in what would become Chicago in 1779.

Alonzo Pietro, a Black Spaniard explorer, set sail with Christopher Columbus to the “New World.”

Walter S. McAfee is the African American mathematician and physicist first to calculate the speed of the moon.  On January 10, 1946 a radar pulse was transmitted towards the moon. Two and a half seconds later, they received a faint signal, proving that transmissions from earth could cross the vast distances of outer space.

Henry Highland Garnett, born a slave in Kent County, MD was named Minister of Liberia in 1881. He was also President of Avery College in Allegany, PA.

Rare Disease Day – February 28, 2014

RDD_whiteThere are well-known diseases such as diabetes, cancer or arthritis.  And then there are rare diseases in which the names alone could take up a whole line.  Try saying trimethylaminuria (TMAU) three times.  TMAU, although reportedly not fatal, can be crippling due to extremely unpleasant symptoms like foul breath and body odor due to the body’s lack of ability to break down a certain common chemical found in food.

Not a problem you say?  Try being a nine-year-old kid that stinks to high heaven while going to public school.  Not fun.  And yes, this condition affects young and old.  There is no cure.

Maybe you’re one of many who like to look at shows about strange disorders and diseases.  We as humans have a never-tiring fascination of strange medical conditions that people may develop or are born with.  I can remember watching a show where a young man was growing tree-like warts all over his body.  Another time there was a lady on a program whose legs were so swollen that movement was almost impossible.  Both of these conditions baffled the medical community.  Myself, I was stunned to learn of such ailments.

But it wasn’t until I was personally touched by how rare disease can alter your life that I learned that you not only should feel something, but should do something as well.  That’s why Rare Disease Day, February 28, 2014, is so important.  The US 
Rare Disease Day website states:

“Rare Disease Day is an international advocacy day to bring widespread recognition of rare diseases as a global health challenge. The day is celebrated on the last day of February every year. In 2014, it will be observed on February 28th.  In the U.S., any disease affecting fewer than 200,000 people is considered rare. This definition comes from the 
Orphan Drug Act of 1983 and is slightly different from the definition used in Europe. There are nearly 7,000 rare diseases affecting nearly 30 million Americans. In other words, almost one in ten Americans are suffering from rare diseases.  Besides dealing with their specific medical problems, people with rare diseases struggle to get a proper diagnosis, find information, and get treatment. The rarity of their conditions makes medical research more difficult.”

Anyone can be involved in Rare Disease Day and there are many suggested activities. The day has been established as a grassroots advocacy day and we encourage everyone to participate in some way!

This website focuses on Rare Disease Day activities in the U.S. To learn what’s happening around the world, go to the global Rare Disease Day website at 
rarediseaseday.org.”

If you are suffering with a rare disorder or know someone who is, then this event was created for you.  Additionally, for those who are moved to do something and even if you can’t do much, just do what you can.  
NORD, the National Organization of Rare Diseases, will accept donations as low as a dollar.  Hey, it all adds up.

Remember, Alone We are Rare.  Together We are Strong.

Tips for Easy Tax Filing

taxesAll right guys, it’s that time again.  Tax time!  Don’t everybody jump out of sheer excitement.  For some, these words mean money, for others, not so much.  But the way I view it, it’s like pulling out a loose tooth.  Might as well do it now and get it over with.

Listed below are three points that might help:

This point cannot be emphasized enough:  Don’t procrastinate!  You don’t have to do it all in one day or weekend.  You can do a little at a time.  That way, you are sure to make fewer mistakes and not overlook possible tax savings.

Use Free File or try IRS e-fileFree file:  if you made less than 57,000 last year you can take advantage of free brand-name tax software offered around this time.  Another option is to go to IRS.gov/freefile to access the IRS Free File.

IRS e-file:  This is a very accurate, easy and popular way to file.  On a good note:  even if you file now and find out you owe, you don’t have to pay until April 15th.

And for us that need it, you can always file an extension.  So say your return is not ready and April 15th is fast approaching.  You can request an extension through the Free File program.  This will get you an extra six months to work on your taxes.  For those who want to go the paper route:  use Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return).  You can download the form at IRS.gov or call 1800-TAX-FORM (1800-829-3676).  Here’s the catch:  you still have to pay any taxes owed by April 15th.  The extension gives you more time to work on your tax return; it does not give you more time to pay.

What We Can Learn From Nelson Mandela

MandelaAlthough I am definitely not of any political persuasion, I have to say Nelson Mandela’s death had a surprising effect on me.  I personally feel that the changes we need earth wide will not be brought about by a man, any group of men, or even a woman.  It will take a stronger and wiser Personage to handle this hot mess we’ve got goin’ on down here.

That said, even though Mandela was a man – and by his own admission, a flawed and imperfect one – he has left an indelible mark in history.  For one, I was struck by his loyalty and single-minded dedication to a higher cause than himself.  But shouldn’t we all have that quality?  Let’s ask ourselves, is there something in my life that is worth more than life itself?  I’ve noticed that when such is the case, a noble purpose drives individuals to enrichment of character and fortitude.

No, I’m not encouraging fanaticism, instead, deep reflection as to whether those of us who live for our jobs, our beauty, or accolades will still have happy and fulfilled lives when these things are gone.  It is of the utmost importance to live for something honorable, greater and that has an unfading value.

Secondly, we can learn patience from Mandela.  How many could endure 27 years in prison and come out without an overwhelming feeling of bitterness and anger?  I’ve since learned that Mandela initially took up violent ways to accomplish his purpose before being sentenced to jail time.  Later, however, he realized that violence was not the answer.  This he learned in the 27 years he spent behind bars.

Now, most of us will not have to endure 27 years in prison but are we dealing with long-term illnesses of our own or of a loved one we care for?  Are we struggling to save our marriage or are we wrangling with a moody teenager?  These situations can be stressful and can easily make us throw up both hands.  But wouldn’t it be better not to give up so quickly and find a way to cope and hopefully improve matters?  Do we think Mandela did this on his own?  No, he had cellmates that became his friends.  They no doubt gave him strength and the encouragement to go on.  So where is our support?  Let’s be adamant about having that in our lives.  We all need it, especially when struggling with difficult times. 

Finally, some have placed Mandela on a very high pedestal and gave him sainthood.  I would rather see his flaws, problems, struggles and pain so I can learn from them.  It’s something I can relate to.  I’ve never known a perfect person and would not know what that was like.  But I can connect to imperfection, the ups and downs of life, disappointments, death, and hope.  And that’s why we all can connect and relate to Mandela – he was unabashedly human.  He exhibited the complexities of any person put in similar circumstances.  Did he struggle? Yes.  Did he fall? Of course!  But most of all, he prevailed.  And that, my friend, gives us all hope.

You May Be a Mean Girl If…

Image by Microsoft

Image by Microsoft

I thought almost everybody wanted to be known as a nice person until I met a coworker of mine some years ago.  Let’s call her Amber.  Amber calmly stated that she did not want to be a nice person at all.  She had tried being kind and people either took advantage of her or were very mean to her.  So, she decided that it was not worth it.  She actually felt that it was better to keep her dukes up and always be ready and rocking on go.

Wow.  I was amazed at such an honest admission.  But after some time and life experience I now understand why Amber made this statement.  Just look at the news and count the news articles, blogs, and websites on bullying – people who are purposely mean to people who they think they can dominate over.  Oh, I am not saying that Amber was right.  Why become this angry person with a hair-trigger temperament?  Why allow others to dictate what you become?

This article is not for those of us that have decided we will be the kind, reasonable and sound individuals we were meant to be.  This article is for those who may or may not realize that they have caused a domino effect as described by Amber earlier – people who are mean to others may cause others to decide to become mean as a defense.

Ask yourself if you find yourself constantly and consistently doing the following things.  If you do, then you may be a mean girl if:

  • Do you use sulking, sarcasm and ignoring people to get your way or punish people?
  • Do you understand that bullying is the emotional equivalent of physical violence?
  • Are you a manager, supervisor or head of your household?  People in lead positions are the ones most likely to abuse their authority.
  • Do you feel like you have to blame others for your difficulties?
  • Are you relatively a happy person?  Or are you unhappy about major aspects of your life?

If you really can’t tell, then ask somebody whom you can trust and is not a kiss-butt.  This means someone that will really tell you the truth about who you are and how you act.

How to Manage in Financially Unstable Times

Image by Fotolia

Image by Fotolia

After reading the papers and being bombarded by the news on the world’s financial situation, I just had to add my two cents in on how we need to manage our personal finances so we can meet the needs of our own and of our families. 

I found the following hints helpful to me.  Start by making a budget.  Literally, write it down – listing your income then your expenses.  Remember, list only your true expenses.  To determine true expenses, ask yourself whether this purchase is really essential.  If not, leave it off and move on to the next item.  Under expenses, don’t forget to list savings – more on this later.  The budget need not be adhered to rigidly.  It is a guideline, not a whip.

Now regarding savings, continue a reserve fund or savings account no matter how small the deposits are.  They add up.  Many experts advise families to have an emergency fund with at least enough money to cover a six month period.  This will come in handy in case of a layoff or job loss.

Lower your consumption.  Do you need to eat out every day?  That extra latte?  Can you car pool?  Or can you walk to your destination even?  All entertainment should be cut down to a level that the family can comfortably live with.  Decrease credit card debt.  We all know that in this society, credit cards are a necessary evil.  Experts are advising; however, that we use credit responsibly. 

But what if we get laid off or let go?  The first thing to do is not panic.  I know, easily said.  But where is panic gonna get you?  At the most a headache and loose bowels.  Try to think of this as a chance to get into a different type of work, for the family to work more as a unit or to gain internal strength.  I’m reminded of a couple of news reports where persons were making over six figure incomes previously and now one works as a shoe shine boy and the other at Starbucks – both are reportedly happy and content.  What was the difference in these individuals?  Did they panic?  Initially, no doubt they did.  If I made a six figure income last year and was given the pink slip, you better believe I would go into shock!  But when the initial shock wears off, the thinking person would assess the situation and work at it proactively, humbly and consistently.

OK, but you have this great degree from MIT and there’s no job to fit your skills.  What do you do?  Do what you can to make an honest living.  Can you teach?  You may have to obtain a blue collar job for the time being.  Nothing wrong with that.  All that’s required is a little humility.  Don’t let your self esteem diminish just because your job went out.  You are still you – a great person.  Keep at it.

Ultimately, adversities like these strengthen us individually and collectively as families.  Openly communicate what’s going on with your children on their level.  Kids are amazingly resilient and understanding.

So in conclusion, when’s the financial crisis going to end?  Who knows?!!  All we can do is adjust to any changes by cutting back and living below our means.  In the end, this will enable us to continue to care for our families and ourselves.

 

Must-Haves for a Great Fall Wardrobe

Beautiful Teenager with a HatI say never mind what the masters of the fashion industry tell you.  What do you feel you need to feel pretty, powerful, confident in practical way all at the same time?  Now, I’m not going to waste your time by telling you what you need either.  Instead, let me start by sharing how I try to manage my fall wardrobe by being price-conscious and sensible.

I love fall!!  I love the crunchy leaves, the coolness of the weather – even down to the gray-blue skies.  But most of all, yes, most of all I love my fall wardrobe.  I’m talking about boots, sweaters, hoodies, scarves, smart jackets and long-sleeved graphic tees.  And don’t make me pull out my cowboy boots with my long blue-jean skirt topped off with my be-bop hat (a phrase I stole from my father) tilted to the side while wearing my oversized loop earrings.  Bam!

I am one of those persons who feel just because they make it in my size does not mean it’s for me.  So no, I don’t jump on every skinny-girl fad.  I chose carefully and shop selectively.  But before I even go out to any store, especially at the beginning of a season change, I take stock of what I already have in my wardrobe.  If something is too small, too worn out, too outdated or I just don’t wear anymore – I get rid of it.  By ‘get rid of it’ I mean donate to Goodwill or pass on to someone who may like the style of the particular clothing.  But for worn out pieces, I just chunk them into the garbage of course.  Many call this ‘take-one-in-give-one-away rule.’  This means, if you’re blessed to buy an item (or be given one), then give something else of yours away.

But back to the point at hand, taking stock allows you to clearly pick out what you need for the season.  This prevents you from buying unnecessary items.  I choose for my personality, style, body shape and my wallet.  Season-end is a good way to stock up on items stores are trying to move out of the way for the upcoming season.  You can mix-and-match summer items with fall/winter ones.  For example, got a jacket?  Then put a couple of layered tees under it.  Simple, right?  Just takes a minute and a little advance thinking.

That way, you can always leave and live happy. 

Yay! It’s World Heart Day!!

heartSeptember 29, 2013 is World Heart Day.  It’s all about taking a better life-course approach which includes incorporating preventive measures and taking better control of cardiovascular disease.  This movement is particularly geared toward women and children.  Why so?

In regards to women, Womenshealth.gov states that in the U.S. alone, one in four women die of heart disease every year.  While heart disease is a leading cause of death among men, women are more likely to die from an attack.  Among minorities, heart disease is particularly a concern – more African American and Latin American women are obese, do not get enough exercise, suffer from high blood pressure and diabetes.  But not to worry, most of all these symptoms are preventable and workable.  World Heart Day teaches us that with small steps and changes anything is possible!

We all know the common steps to prevention and control of heart disease but what about the other questions that may arise?  For instance, do birth control pills or birth control patches increase the risk of heart disease?  For most young, healthy women – neither option poses a risk.  But if you are over 35, have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or smoke, you are at risk.  The best thing to do is talk to your doctor about your options to take for a healthier you.

And lastly, always remember if you begin to experience the following symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible:

  • Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest. The pain or discomfort can be mild or strong. It can last more than a few minutes, or it can go away and come back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Shortness of breath (feeling like you can’t get enough air). The shortness of breath often occurs before or along with the chest pain or discomfort.
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach) or vomiting
  • Feeling faint or woozy
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

Before We Could Get Christy Love or Even Policewoman – We Had Decoy!

DecoyUnless you’re a TV buff, you probably don’t know what the TV show Decoy is all about.  And understandably so, because this was a program that first aired in 1957 according to IMDb.com. 

Additionally, IMDb.com states that Decoy was a 30 minute show about policewoman, Casey Jones, played by actress, Beverly Garland.  There were 38 episodes filmed in all, running from 1957-1959.  Now I could moon over the fact that in the 1950’s it was very strange for a woman to lead any kind of show.  I could talk about the fact that the lead character, Casey Jones, was a policewoman no less – a tough job for anybody, then and now.    Or I could talk about how amazing the actress B.G. was herself.  She was a real working actor with projects spanning from productions like D.O.A (1950) and Decoy (1957) to Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993) and 7th Heaven (1996).  It can be easily said that she rightfully earned her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983!

But I won’t load you down with just the facts.  I want to tell you about the show itself.  I was sitting at home flipping the TV channels when I stopped to watch a black and white movie, or so I thought.  Immediately I was drawn in but I didn’t quite know why.  I slowly realized from the way the film was shot that this had to be a TV show – not a movie.  I watched that episode and the one that followed.  I was literally on the edge of my seat.  I could have kicked myself when I didn’t pay enough attention to get the title of the show.  Later on, when I did, I promptly went to the internet and ordered as many shows as I could find.  It was well-acted, superbly shot (think gritty 1957), had great story ideas and surprisingly realistic scripts.

I felt inspired too.  Look at us, I thought, as I watched B.G. on the screen.  While it’s sad that many may have forgotten or never have heard of this show, it is a marvel to think that it must have had a lot to do with future projects that highlighted the power of women.

I’m glad I found it.

Love Ain’t the Battlefield…Depression Is

provided by Microsoft

Provided by Microsoft

Like it or not, we all have our insecurities or times when we feel like we are just not quite enough.  Even though this battle is more chronic and intense for some than others, it is still a battle nonetheless.

‘Battle’ is the right word because if you’ve suffered from depression at any time – due to PMS, menopause, bereavement or suffering a chronic illness – it can feel like an all-out war, an internal one at that.  So what can you do to combat negative thoughts that fuel depression?  Health Central listed six down and dirty tips.  What I’ve learned from this article is to fight hard, quick and head-on.  Let me explain.  Let’s pretend that someone came up to you that you had known for years and begin to physically attack you.  Say the known assailant jumped on you and clearly had the intention of leaving you for dead or at the very least seriously hurt.  What would you do?  Fight!

Get the picture?  Depression is an attacker from a known source – ourselves.  It is important to fight any negative thoughts causing depression.  For instance, the Health Central article referred to earlier outlines the strategy against the ‘nobody cares’ lie that your brain tries to trick you into.  Some persons use this phrase to explain how they really feel about themselves.  Here’s what to do:  on paper or aloud, claim your worth.  Really take stock of loved ones in your life. 

Next, some of us use the ‘nobody cares’ phrase when we want to evoke a response from others.  This is dangerous since this statement hinges your self-esteem on a positive response from this one sole person.  They may not, however, give the desired response.  What do you do?  It’s time to realize that even though a person might not care the way you want them to – say in the case of unrequited love – they do care in their own way.  Deal with the fact that people and situations don’t always turn out the way you want.  It doesn’t make you less of a person.

Additionally, some fall into depression because they don’t have an emotional support at the time.   Let’s face it; some of us are in that boat.  It could be easy to feel lost and thrown away.  But remember…this is war!  Fight!  This simply means you may have to construct an emotional resource of your own – friends, a support group and/or a therapist. 

And lastly, it is important to never feel guilty or less than because of your depression; that’s just more self-punishment.  Instead, accept that right now this is how you feel (not who you are) and with the help of whatever your particular need calls for – friends, family, therapy or medication – keep up the good fight.