Let Me Give You Some Homework

I listen to podcasts on nearly a daily basis and one that I have recently added to my list is This American Life.

I listened to the podcast below a couple of weeks back and I am challenging you to do the same.

I have a post that is scheduled to come out on Wednesday the 29th over the topic discussed and I am interested to hear your thoughts.

Please know, that I mean no malice, I have zero intent of hurting anyone’s feelings. I find this podcast quite interesting and slightly infuriating.

How do you feel about it?

See you Wednesday!

Here is the link:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/589/tell-me-im-fat

 

Liz

 

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Public Education is Dead

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I have no illusions, I am not the most educated on the issues surrounding our state but I do strive to have a general knowledge of it.  

One thing I do know is that we have all seen the budget cut articles, felt the squeeze in our local classroom, seen the cuts first hand at the loss of our child’s extra-curricular activity; whether that be a specialized art or a sports team. I personally have had more than one conversation between current and past teachers and each conversation leaves me feeling just a bit more hopeless.  

How are we supposed to be the seemingly smartest, most talented nation in the world, raising kids with exponential possibilities before them if we can’t even properly educate our youth to become that talent?

I look into the money trail and incredulously wonder how millions of tax payer dollars can just “disappear” with no answer as to where it went and then further question why we ever brought the lottery into the state when the greatest promise made from that was money for education.

With seemingly every state in the red I am starting to question how long our public school system (or any public “system” for that matter) is going to survive.

States don’t want to pay our teachers properly (at least not in Oklahoma) and with horrendous class sizes and expectations put on teachers for very little return it is no wonder we have a shortage of qualified and to go one step further, EXCITED teachers. I know several that teach because they love to teach and they pay dearly for it; sacrificing more time and energy than is fair, yes by choice but not only do they choose it- they have a higher calling and feel that in their life. They know if they don’t NO ONE WILL and that keeps them getting out of bed in the morning after they didn’t fall into their beds until late into the night from preparing or grading or planning for their classrooms; hundreds of hours they are never paid for other than through smiles and invisible light bulbs going off over the heads of struggling youth.

I know I am not alone when I say that I am so very concerned about the state of our schools and the future there. Protests have been held, letters have been written and meetings had but there seems to be no traction; at least not for the little guys (and I mean that literally and figuratively). State and Federal Government continue to cut dollars for budget shortfalls (though I seem to be paying more and more in taxes each year myself) and this goes well beyond just educational cuts, hitting the poorest of the poor, the elderly and downtrodden. You’ll remember my previous post about the Medicaid cuts that are going to be treacherous on our dear state.

What are our legislators thinking?! What needs to happen for the tide to turn? Who needs to open their eyes? Is it us; is it them? I don’t want to contribute to these problems-and as a citizen I feel that starts with how I vote in elections-but even that doesn’t go my way (two words: Mary Fallin). Are my hands tied, are yours?
More questions than answers.

I look into the very near future and see our public high schools disappearing completely. I see private organizations taking over lower grade education and virtual home schooling for higher grades. The option to do public home school is already in full swing and growing in popularity every year and while it might seem like a great option for a struggling student I wonder of the social consequences. Students must know how to interact in person to person settings. I have already noticed that an alarming number of kids under the age of 20 or so have a hard time engaging in a full conversation with me while also exhibiting proper behavior for a conversation: eye contact, attention, engagement. Too wrapped up in their stupid cell phones, distracted by the fictitious world of Facebook, IG and Snapchat.

Then to bring my mind a little further past my current borders I wonder if privatizing education would be all that bad? Teachers would work with private companies, possibly being paid a decent salary and have manageable class sizes and doable workloads. Doesn’t seem so terrible, until we count the costs. How many can truly afford private education?

As a parent I find this tumultuous time quite scary. I want the best for my son, as I am sure you want the best for your child. I wish I had more answers than questions and better feelings for his future and the future of education as a whole.  For now, though, I am focusing on saving money for his education and I suspect that the costs will start WAY before college ever does.

… Maybe I need to invent an education fund like the 529 plan but call it the 712 plan, covering costs from 7th grade to 12th grade graduation.

As Confused as You Are,

Liz Jackson

To The Beautiful Souls That Keep Us Afloat

I implore you to think of that person (we all have at least one) that you know that is the person I talk about in this letter and when you have it figured out, I want you to send it to them (just copy and paste). The thought that you are thinking of them will mean the WORLD to this person. I don’t say that because I know who you will pick, but because the person that you pick will be so touched and so full of joy because of who THEY are.

I was moved to write this today and I am not sure why. But when the urge hits, there is a reason for it and I cannot ignore it!

I hope this brings joy to those that need it and hits home for others as it has for me.

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To Those Souls,

I watch you.

Day in and day out, there is no one as steady as you.

Continually striving, struggling and stretching for people that will never repay you- and you do it anyway. You serve, sweat and swerve off course at your own expense to help someone that doesn’t know the first thing about doing the same thing-yet you do it anyway.

You give knowing there is no repayment, you allow yourself to be hurt- yet you do it anyway. You know you will be used yet you do it anyway, you know full well they won’t give what you do and yet you continue to give it anyway.

You bend until you break- and you keep bending anyway.

Why do you do it? It can be a puzzle to most, but I know the truth because I know you most.

It’s Because you are YOU and that is what you would do and what you would hope for if you were in their shoes. You are a healer, a believer, the calm after the storm.

You are not them- you are not a taker, a scammer or a game player- maybe you aren’t dripping in money but you have something that even earthly wealth can’t buy-a beautiful inside that will always stay humble and kind.

People will ask you; why do you try? Why do you strive? Why do you help someone until it hurts; when that same soul will take no time turning their back on you the second you are no longer serving their needs?

The answer is simple- because you are YOU.

You see it isn’t about them, it isn’t about who they are or who they’ve been; it’s all about who YOU are and the power within.

Don’t let the evil of the world; the takers, nay-sayers or the backstabbers stop you from being what you are at your core.

You ARE Beautiful, flawed but striving-always caring and sharing what you have (even when it might nearly kill you) for another. To help, to calm, to save someone else even at the expense of yourself. This is a gift, one not given to many.

You start your day with ferocity and end in exhaustion; sailing high when others are high and bring yourself down to the trenches when are those that are low. Don’t ever stop loving the way that you do, because it is people like you that bring beauty into the darkness, laughter into the madness and joy into sadness.

There is no “thank you” big enough for what you are and what you do. And what is so great about you; even with my lack of ability to articulate how wonderful you are, you’ll DO IT ANYWAY.

And that continues to give me hope in a world that seems so bleak, a time in life when it can be hard to speak. Thank you for bringing a light around us.

Thank you for always being about us.

 

To Our Beautiful Friends,

Liz Jackson

What is She Thinking?

One of the most frequent questions I get is “What do you eat?”

I eat a lot! But I think they are more interested in HOW I figure out what I am eating versus what I actually eat.

So….

A rare inside peak into my brain when I am looking at a nutrition label-yes, the BACK OF A PACKAGE-not just the front (seatbelts recommended).

 

FYI-My rules for Gray, Zach ARE DIFFERENT-but that’s for another time.

LABEL DECODING

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I completely skip the calories, I DON’T CARE.

Immediate focus-sugar. Is it over 9g? Yes, put it back I am not buying it.                                                 Is it under 9g? Continue,

Next focus- Protein, is it higher than the sugar (there are a few exceptions to this-like if I am looking at food that I wouldn’t expect to have protein)? If not- put back. If Yes, Continue

Next focus- Fats– how high is it collectively? What is the saturated fat content? Depending on the product I will allow for more or less saturated fat, but as a general rule FOR MYSELF-the lower the better and if it has more than 6g of saturated fat per serving- I do not buy it.  I focus on getting the majority of my fats from Poly and Mono-unsaturated fats. Does this mean I advocate against eggs, real butter or oils? NO-BUT I DO advocate knowing your limits on these things and we all have a threshold for every type of food.

Next Focus- Carbohydrates– how high is it? What is the fiber? If the fiber is less than the sugar then I usually won’t buy it and if there is no fiber I will not buy it (with A FEW exceptions, like dairy or proteins -as thesel have no fiber NATURALLY).

Next Focus-Ingredients– less than 10? Yes, continue No? Put it back-usually.
Can I pronounce or do I know what all of the ingredients are for? Yes, continue-if not I will GOOGLE  and decide if that is something I am ok with or not (THAT depends on each person, btw).
Any artificial colors? I will not buy USUALLY.
Soy? I will not buy USUALLY.

 

nutrtion

Multi-tasking focuses Is this organic? Non-GMO? “Natural”? Whole food or packaged?

I believe in a mixed approach for organics. I will go for organic on things like tomato sauce, fruits, some veggies and corn and popcorn (I am sure I forgetting something).

The thing to remember is “organic” doesn’t automatically mean that it changes how your body metabolizes a food. A cookie is STILL a cookie, even if it is made with organic sugar. Regular sugar and organic sugar are STILL SUGAR.

 

Looking back on all that, now I know why I feel like I need a nap after going to the  grocery store!

Enjoy!

Liz Jackson

 

Till We Bleed

Dear Legislator,

 

Imagine getting a phone call one early morning informing you that your dear Grandmother is being evicted out of her nursing home due to its forced closure and she and all of her things need to be obtained by 3 pm that same day. Not mentioning that your Grandmother is a 100% total care individual and requires around the clock supervision, routine medications and close medical attention, something that you could not safely (or financially afford to) provide in your home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year.

Long Term Care Word Cloud

What did she do to deserve this? She worked her entire life, she provided for her family and now she is unable to care for herself.

I want you to truly try to imagine how you would feel and the thoughts that you would have. Hold onto those thoughts and feelings.

Now, imagine getting a phone call one early morning informing you that you no longer have a job because the nursing home that you have worked at for 10 years is being forced to close. No notice, no severance, no explanation other than “budget cuts”. You have a family, you have children, you have bills coming in every month, mouths to feed (and they are always hungry). What did you do to deserve this? You work hard, you strive to do the best you can for your family and now this?

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signs-nurse-burnout

Do you feel that; that little feeling in your gut, the sinking gut wrenching FEAR feeling?

That very fear is VERY close to becoming a reality for hundreds of our fellow Oklahomans. You think this doesn’t affect you? You’re dead wrong.

Now let me tell you why:

The proposed additional 25% cut to Medicaid reimbursement that is currently being proposed will be devastating to our health care system in Oklahoma. The cuts will force closures and reductions in service levels for those hospitals, physician practices and nursing homes that are already scraping by and living on the edge. All Oklahomans will suffer as a result of additional cuts.

The previous 11% cuts implemented since July 2014 have left our already crumbling health care system in an even more perilous and vulnerable position.  The thought that we can sustain any more cuts without a huge impact is completely ludicrous. For the 42 Oklahoma hospitals and 269 nursing facilities “at risk” of closure ‐‐ additional cuts WILL push them over that cliff.

Our most vulnerable citizens will be without care: employees will be without jobs and the state would lose millions in jobs and wages. How does this make any plausible sense to anyone?

Instead of dismantling health care and a core economic driver for our State, there is another, clear solution.

We must implement a responsible increase in the Cigarette Tax, and support “Insure Oklahoma”, a plan to claim the federal dollars we’re leaving on the table – and use the funds to expand access to health care in our state.

In the face of such a devastating situation I sincerely hope you will agree that a new tax which discourages smoking and will ultimately save lives is preferable to government cuts that will most surely cause unnecessary deaths, loss of wages, increased unemployment (which draws on government aid…), and severe stress within every community.

Failure to do this will result in the closure of additional hospitals and nursing homes across the State at a time that many physicians are choosing to leave the profession and young people interested in medicine are already choosing specialties other than health care. The crisis to find healthcare providers is already all too real for much of rural Oklahoma.

The effects of further cuts will be felt for years to come and will be absolutely disastrous.

Please stand up for all Oklahomans. Implement a responsible increase in the Cigarette Tax which will discourage smoking, and ultimately save lives, our health care system and our economy. And then expand access to health care in Oklahoma by supporting “Insure Oklahoma” – our states program to help provide affordable health coverage to Oklahomans. More than 90% of the money will come from the federal government.

It’s our money — we need to take it back to improve access to health care in our state. In the long term, building on Insurance Oklahoma will save the state money, and stabilize our health care system.

We voted you in believing you would do what is best for Oklahoma, what is best for Oklahomans and I urge you, I beg you:
Do everything in your power to put a stop to the 25% Medicaid cut.

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Let’s make Oklahoma better. Support the Cigarette Tax, and “Insure Oklahoma” and STOP the cut.

 

Sincerely,

 

Liz Jackson

 

Local Political Leaders Contact Info

Name Phone Email

Rep. Steve Vaughn (405) 557‐7355 steve.vaughan@okhouse.gov

Rep. John Pfeiffer (405) 557‐7332 john.pfeiffer@okhouse.gov

Sen. Eddie Fields (405) 521‐5581 efields@oksenate.gov

When Your Friends Become the “Experts”

With the vast array of information filling my newsfeed lately; my friends selling everything from weight loss wraps, miracle cure “experiences”, makeup, skincare regimens or hosting online Tupperware parties and virtual events, it is no wonder I almost feel like I’m “virtually” walking through a strip mall on a questionable part of town every time I get on Social Media (of any avenue). 

I understand why we use social media this way and I am guilty of it myself. Where else can we reach so many people with information from a single platform and we all have our OWN little stage!? And I understand why people sell products or sign up in multi-level marketing companies; what a great opportunity to earn extra income… I mean help other people (sorry I forgot how everyone cares so much of their fellow man)! But this is where I want to issue you a caution, a “friendly” warning concerning these products (no matter their nature). While I am sure some are great products and others are completely questionable; that is not the point of this post.

The point of the post is to warn you that the PRODUCT that said persons are swearing by is not the point. The point is that these companies are “marketing” companies, even says so in their classification: “Multi-level marketing”, “direct sale marketing”, etc.

Take a look at the Wikipedia definition for Multi Level Marketing:

Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they generate, but also for the sales of the other salespeople that they recruit. This recruited sales force is referred to as the participant’s “downline”, and can provide multiple levels of compensation.[1] Other terms used for MLM include pyramid selling,[2][3][4][5][6] network marketing,[5][7][8] and referral marketing.[9] According to the US FTC, some MLM companies constitute illegal pyramid schemes which exploit members of the organization

You are being targeting by MARKETING. Not that there is anything wrong with that per-se. What irritates me is the façade that comes with marketing.

Check this out:

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No where in there does it say anything about “helping others with products”. The only mention of the actual word “product” is for discounts for the seller.

The PRODUCT is secondary to MARKETING.

I know people that have been working very hard to lose weight for quite some time, going to the gym and eating right-seeing results this way too, doing it the most sustainable way-naturally. Someone SELLS them on a product and then all the sudden ALL of their progress is because of that product and all you have to do is sign up with them and you too can see the same amazing results-just use this product and sign up your friends so you get yours free! Marketing, marketing, marketing and the pyramid grows-people make MONEY and people SPEND way too much money. Those selling surely don’t mind that you’re buying their products, it’s padding their pocketbook but what about YOU? Can you actually afford whatever it is you are purchasing? Or are you being pushed by someone that is maybe a fast talker and a little more mentally savvy than you into something that you don’t understand? I see this a lot and I see it in my friends. It makes me worry.

I will give you an example.

A good friend of mine starting taking a lifestyle product and then very shortly after starting selling it as well. Posting all over social media about how amazing the products are and how they are changing lives. I didn’t say anything to this person about it because when I have tried to approach others about it in the past and ask some reasonable questions I would get immediate anger and I have actually lost friendships over questioning certain things. So I said nothing.

A few months later this friend is off the products and finally asked me what my opinion was. I preceded with a “please do not get upset” before I even started on my personal opinion and thankfully my friend did not. But when I started breaking down the label of the what was in the products and asking questions my friend was dumbfounded and immediately shocked. My friend could not believe what was in the products…and this gave me great pause.

How could my friend be so unaware of something that they were so passionately swearing by just a few short weeks ago? It is puzzling to me. And this is my 3rd word of caution. Your friend selling that amazing product that they think is so amazing…do they really know exactly what they are selling you? I am willing to bet they don’t. You can’t expect to believe that someone that has no dietary experience or nutritional background to all the sudden become an expert on what is good for you, can you? Or on the flip side. You can’t reasonably believe that someone with no previous skincare experience to all the sudden be the expert on what is going to make your years of sun damage magically disappear.

All I am saying is this:

You want to take something, buy something, sell something: MORE POWER TO YOU.

HOWEVER, make sure whatever you are selling, buying or taking is something that you understand, have done research on and are willing to use yourself and have been using yourself for quite some time before you start leading others to do the same.

Take responsibility for your actions towards your body and hold others bodies and minds in the same high accord as you have for your own (or at least you should). And so help me-DON’T LET SOMEONE SELL YOU JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN SOLD.

Remember, some friends will be there when you really need them and other “friends” that are only there for their need of you (r) *cough cough… money and sometimes it is hard to discern someone’s true intentions.  

One thing about it, I’d rather be poor and still be your friend.

 

Thinking About YOU not what I get from you.

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Liz Jackson

PaperClip Power

Before you scold me too harshly for not writing much (…ok, not at all) as of late; just know I have felt REALLY bad about it! I won’t write unless I have something that moves me to. You will never see me try to push a topic that isn’t interesting, important or something that I don’t think will help you in some way.

It is funny to think something as simple as a paper clip has given me the motivation to sit down and wri…er, type for you today!

This post is short and sweet and really only meant as a quick tip revolving around what to do when we get snacky (or in my case, Hangry; a very unflattering state for me personally).

It all started with a trip to my pantry because I just wanted something to crunch on! I open my cupboard to see what was about and immediately reached for these Mini Peanut Butter Snack Crackers that are not even mine, they belong to Gray.

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But I’ve taught the kid that sharing is important so I am sure he won’t mind me swiping a couple. I open up the box and see that I have paper clipped the inside bag closed to help keep them fresh (score mom “adulting” points).

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Seeing the paperclip gave me just enough pause that I stopped and reconsidered my choice. “Do I really NEED mini peanut butter sandwich cookies”? The answer is, of course, “no I do not.”

I closed the box, sighed and silently scold myself for nearly stealing my poor child’s sandwich crackers and put them back in the pantry. I then proceeded to the fridge and got some cottage cheese instead. I know the slow digesting protein of the cottage cheese will keep me full until dinner and I realize I have saved myself from stepping off in the wrong direction in food choices for the day. Win!

The above mentioned scenario has actually played out in my kitchen a few times over the last week and every time I find myself stopping at the paper clip. How simple of a solution to unwanted snacking! I implore you to try this for yourself! Make the snacks a little harder to get to somehow, add an extra step or anything to give that extra second of pause before you dig in.

I would love to hear if it helps you as it has helped me!

Happy Snacking!

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 Liz Jackson