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Archive for the ‘Self-Awareness’ Category

Star Wars is getting an awesome Disney+ holiday special this year – Looper

Posted: August 15, 2020 at 4:49 pm

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The new 45-minute show, coming to Disney+ on November 17, 2020, is aptly titled The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. But this special bears only a surface resemblance to the Wookie-tastic Life Day extravaganza that CBS unleashed upon the world in 1978.

According to Disney+, while the special will involve Chewbacca and the Wookie planet, Kashyyyk, the story itself will take place "directly following the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." The story will focus on Rey in as she and BB-8 prepare for Life Day. Said preparations will find them traveling to a Jedi Temple where time-travel shenanigans abound, causing Rey to come "into contact with Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda, Obi-Wan and other iconic heroes and villains from all nine Skywalker saga films."

"We wanted to give a wink and a nod to the original," executive producer Josh Rimes told USA Today,adding that the special would be inspired by a host of holiday classics, including It's a Wonderful Life, National Lampoon'sChristmas Vacation, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles

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Star Wars is getting an awesome Disney+ holiday special this year - Looper

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August 15th, 2020 at 4:49 pm

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Podcast on Self-Managed Abortions: This Information Has Been Gatekept and It Shouldn’t Be – Ms. Magazine

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Through ups and downs of abortion access during COVID-19, there continues to be little awareness of the existence of abortion pillslet alone that they can be used for safe and effective self-managed abortions. (VAlaSiurua, licensed underCC BY-SA 4.0)

In September 2019, when Anna Reed and Antonia Piccone decided to create apodcastaboutself-managed abortions, they had no idea just how timely their project would be.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hasintensified barriers to abortion care in the United States. Anti-abortion elected officials havetaken advantageby deeming abortions non-essential, limiting options and delaying care for people who do not want to be pregnant. Pregnant people areworriedabout risking exposure to the virus while seeking abortion care at a clinic. And while other medical services moved to telehealth, in many states, abortion care waspreventedfrom following suit.

This led to increased public criticism of theunnecessary restrictionsplaced on abortion pills in the United States. Then, in mid-July, a federal judge in Marylandruledthat the FDA must suspend guidance that forced patients to obtain mifepristone, the abortion pill, in-person. This means that patients may nowreceivemifepristone from their providers through the mail.

Despite the ups and downs of abortion access during COVID-19, there continues to be little awareness of the existence of abortion pills, let alone that they can be used forsafe and effectiveself-managed care. And yet, this is exactly the knowledge that people need and deserve during the pandemicand always!

As theAmbassadors of Informationprogram manager withPlan Can organization that works in education and research related to self-managed abortions with pillsI am constantly looking for the best ways to educate the public on abortion pills and how they can be accessed.

Then, one day in May, I received an email from one of our ambassadors of information, Antonia Piccone. She, along with Anna Reed, had createdSelf-Managed: An Abortion Story in Eight Parts: a podcast that centers real peoples stories in an effort to demystify the practice of self-managed abortion, they say.

And it truly succeeds in this effort.

I had the opportunity to sit down (over a video call) with Reed and Piccone to discussSelf-Managedwhat led them to create it and what they have learned since releasing it.

This information has been gatekept and it shouldnt be, said Piccone, a doula. How can we make information about our bodies and this process public, accessible and free?

The answer to this question was to create a podcast, as audio provides a more intimate quality to the content. It felt like the medium for the subject, Reed added, nodding.

Reed, a sex educator and youth advocate, went on to explain that information about self-managed abortions tends to be dark, intense and institutional.

The goal ofSelf-Managedwas to, instead, lightheartedly share frameworks for mutual aid, community-building and self-care.

There is more curiosity for self- and community-care, Piccone noted, particularly in light of the most recentuprisingsforracial justice. We are witnessing a global reckoningas people grapple with the ways in which COVID-19 and institutionalized racism have disproportionately thwarted Black peoples right to bodily autonomy.

Here atMs., our team is continuing to report throughthis global health crisisdoing what we can to keep you informed andup-to-date on some of the most underreported issues of thispandemic.Weask that you consider supporting our work to bring you substantive, uniquereportingwe cant do it without you. Support our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.

Theysituate their podcast in this broader context and acknowledge alongside their interviewees the recent criminal prosecutions of people who have ended their own pregnancies have consistently come down on poor people and people of color. This must be held central in education and activism on self-managed care.

Reed and Piccone make it clear that they do not see themselves as experts in self-managed careinstead, they say, theyre learning alongside listeners.

How cool that we can make our learning process available to others! Reed exclaimed. The main inquiry was, How can we learn? Which took us to Who is doing this work? Who are the helpers?

I think there is a Mr. Rogers quote about that! I responded.

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.

ThroughSelf-Managed: An Abortion Story in Eight Parts, Reed and Piccone have shown us the helpersfromSusan Yanow, a long-time activist for self-managed access, to people who arehelping themselves, by self-managing their abortion care.

As the ups and downs of abortion access during COVID-19 continue, we cannot stop educating ourselves and others about the option of self-managed abortions with pills.

Reed and Piccone have provided us with a timely, rich and approachable way to gain the knowledge that we need and deserve.

Self-Managed: An Abortion Story in Eight Partsand accompanying resources can be found in both Spanish and English, as well as onApple PodcastsandSpotify. For more information about this podcast, please contact Reed and Piccone

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Podcast on Self-Managed Abortions: This Information Has Been Gatekept and It Shouldn't Be - Ms. Magazine

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August 15th, 2020 at 4:49 pm

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Spouting radical ideas in 2020 | Keizertimes | You think you know. To be sure, read Keizertimes. – Keizertimes

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Thanksgiving is going to be ugly this year. Theres a real chance the public wont know who won the White House weeks after Election Day, and rather than feeling grateful, leaders in both parties are peddling grievances nonstop. Before the voting has begun, Americans have been told not to trust the outcome.

And the worst offenders are the people who think they believe in the process just as they prepare to tear the country apart if they lose.

A bipartisan group of 100 or so left-wing luminaries, institutional graybeards and never-Trumpers came together to work on what they named the Transition Integrity Project, their response to their conviction that President Donald Trump will contest the result by both legal and extra-legal means.

The group claims to take no position on how Americans should vote as if the word transition isnt a giveaway. Self-awareness is not a requirement with this group. And integrity is optional.

The group released a report with a game plan on how the presidential campaigns, a compliant media and government officials could react to four likely election scenarios.

Of course, one of the outcomes was a 2016 repeatwith Trump winning the electoral college and former Vice President Joe Biden winning the popular vote.

And this is what the folks who ostensibly care about the country suggested: Team Biden could push key blue states to threaten to secede from the nation unless congressional Republicans agree to make Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico states, divide California into five states, require Supreme Court justices to retire at 70 and eliminate the Electoral Collegebecause the U.S. Constitution is toilet paper to them.

The 22-page report informed readers that the concept of election night is no longer accurate and indeed is dangerous.

To the authors violence on the streets is a problem. Not because antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters have enabled anarchists to torch American cities. The report warns that Trumps people have every incentive to try to turn peaceful pro-Biden (or anti-Trump) protests violent in order to generate evidence that a Democratic victory is tantamount to mob rule.

The report is so big on peaceful protesters that it calls for specialized training on de-escalation and nonviolent techniqueswhich youd think peaceful protesters wouldnt need.

As the election looms, the report warns of the authoritarian Trumps ability to launch investigations into opponents; and his ability to use Department of Justice and/or the intelligence agencies to cast doubt on election results or discredit his opponents. Also, the Trump administration also could leak classified documents and fuel manufactured rumors.

Which sounds an awful lot like the Russian probe, with salacious gossip in a so-called dossier, launched under President Barack Obama. How do they not see that?

I wont name the Transition Integrity Projects participants, though their names have been made public. Suffice it to say that youve seen them lecturing Americans on cable TV against Trumps reckless rhetoric and his inability to see that the White House belongs not to him but to the people.

The groups report notes that Trump told Fox News Chris Wallace that he might not accept the results of the election and that voting by mail is going to rig the election. That July interview was used as justification for their June matrix games on what to do when the election results are in. They fear that Trump will be a poor loser as they contend they can wring concessions if he wins.

They also fear Team Trump will provoke Team Biden into subverting norms.

But really, its pretty clear that to get Team Biden to subvert norms, all Trump has to do is win.

(Creators Syndicate)

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Spouting radical ideas in 2020 | Keizertimes | You think you know. To be sure, read Keizertimes. - Keizertimes

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August 15th, 2020 at 4:49 pm

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Letters to the editor: July 2, 2020 – Austin American-Statesman

Posted: July 2, 2020 at 7:52 pm

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Schools unfairly get

blame for discipline

Re: June 28 article, "Austin schools suspend Black students nearly 5 times as often as white students."

I read with sadness the article regarding minority students being suspended at higher rates than white students from public schools in Austin and the nation.

The proactive steps being taken by school districts include professional development on cultural proficiency, inclusivity, and implicit bias and use of restorative justice. As a retired teacher, I can attest to the fact that most teachers use positive reinforcement, redirection, student conferences, and parent phone calls and conferences before they write a discipline referral.

The article focuses on the numbers, implying that disproportionate numbers mean that minority students are unfairly targeted and not engaging in disruptive behavior warranting suspension. The article implies that school staff are to blame rather than the students' behavior. It is disheartening to read yet another article blaming the school for what is really a breakdown in the family and lack of respect for authority in society.

Cathy Medina, Austin

City incentive was like

tossing money away

Re: June 24 article, "Round Rock City Council OKs $125K in incentives for lighting manufacturer."

The Round Rock City Council just can't get enough of wasting the taxpayers' money on corporate welfare.

Does the council really think that if it didn't provide a lousy $125,000 from the taxpayers to Hubbell Lighting that the company would not have moved its facility from Austin to Round Rock?

If the city has so much money that it can throw 125 grand away like that, then I certainly don't want to hear any whining from the council at budget time about reducing services because revenues have declined.

Bill Lewis, Round Rock

Bush ignores Trumps

offensive language

Hopefully, the chuckling has just begun in answer to the brave editorial by Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Bush took exception to the executive director of Empower Texans pretending to be shocked by the "profane, obscene and offensive language" some members of the organization used to attack Gov. Abbott and the lies directed solely at fellow Republicans.

He then goes on about how Joe Biden is "the wrong choice for the country." Without one bit of self-awareness, he selectively ignores all of the profane, obscene, offensive language and lying displayed on a daily basis by President Donald J. Trump, the very same man who insulted and denigrated every member of Bush's family.

I do not care that Commissioner Bush can pathetically ignore the obvious parallels between Empower Texans and President Trump. I do care that he believes the rest of us are too stupid to notice.

Zeph McKee, Austin

This is about equality

regardless of color

We live in a time more divided then ever. You would think that the unlawful killing of George Floyd and the revolution that it started would bring society closer together to mourn over a fellow humans wrongful death. Sadly, that was not the outcome. People are fighting against police reform and the cultural wave of equality.

I am a strong believer in listening and talking to others opinions and complaints. Even if you fundamentally disagree, strive to understand. Somehow Georges death made this country even more divided. I did not predict that response because this revolution is about equality and how we are all citizens of this planet, no matter the color of our skin, political agenda or where we are from.

Everyone deserves to be treated fairly and equally. Police should protect and enforce those rights, not defy them.

Ryan York, Austin

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Letters to the editor: July 2, 2020 - Austin American-Statesman

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July 2nd, 2020 at 7:52 pm

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How much can you save by staying in-state for medical school? – American Medical Association

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While tuition cost shouldnt necessarily be a deterrent from a career as a physician, the reality that the majority of medical students anticipate they will graduate with upwards of $150,000 in student-loan debtaccording to an AMA Insurance surveyis a daunting one.

Many students look for ways to lessen the tuition burden. Though not as widely available as they are for undergraduate study, medical school scholarships are available. It also can help save to stay in your state of residence for medical school and attend a public institution.

Paying public school tuitioneven for students who are not residents, in some casesis going to yield significant savings when compared with tuition costs at a private medical school.

A 2017 study based on tuition data gathered between 2006-16 found that the median cost of attendance for students paying in-state tuitionacross all statesover four years was $232,800. That figure compares favorably to the $306,200 four-year median cost of attendance for medical students attending private institutions over that time frame. Students attending public schools paying in-state tuition saved $73,400, according to the data.

That study also found that students paying in-state tuition had medical school debt loads that were about $20,000 lower than those attending private schools.

In-state tuition costs are always lower for residents, but the amount will vary. Based on data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, the most affordable medical school in the nation is Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. For in-state medical students the current cost of tuition, student fees and health insurance is about $19,000 per year. For out-of-state students that number is around $32,000. That 40% tuition increase for out-of-state attendees is a fair baseline for how most states charge studentsthough there are some very notable exceptions.

That math was a factor for Avani Patel, MD, when she decided to attend the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson. Im someone who doesnt like the idea of debt, said Dr. Patel who will begin her residency training in the psychiatry program at Mississippi in July. If youre getting a very similar education, why would you pay more unless you want to pay more for the name or prestige?

Selecting a medical school requires a student to have some idea of what they envision their training experience to be. Dr. Patel valued hands-on clinical experience above other factors such as research opportunities, which made Mississippi a fit.

When I was researching medical schools, I knew affordability was important, so was being close to family and also feeling Id be very clinically strong, she said. I didnt want to go somewhere where I wouldnt have a ton of hands-on experience. Sometimes that doesnt happen at larger more prestigious institutions because they have to work down the hierarchy ladder [of other trainees]. They have fellows and residents to factor in, so you are going to be the last one to get any hands-on experience.

As far as factoring tuition cost into your decision, Dr. Patel views it as a something that is personal.

I always say self-awareness is key, Dr. Patel said. This is a choice that you have to make when youre very young but try to understand when youre researching [medical schools] what you are taking in terms of potential debt.

If youre interested in primary care and know you most likely [will] pursue primary care in your career it might make sense to go for a more affordable option. Its going to be less of a debt load, and youre going to get a great education. If youre looking to be the top neurosurgeon in the country and you need the top-notch research, for you it might be worth taking on a much higher debt load if it means going to an institution with the prestige and the resources that might be able to provide the opportunities you are looking for.

Medicine can be a career that is both challenging and highly rewarding, but figuring out a medical schools prerequisites and navigating the application process can be a challenge into itself. TheAMA premed glossary guidehas the answers to frequently asked questions about medical school, the application process, the MCAT and more.

Have peace of mind andget everything you need to start med school off strongwith the AMA.

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How much can you save by staying in-state for medical school? - American Medical Association

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July 2nd, 2020 at 7:52 pm

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The Truth is okay, but it wont set you free – The Spool

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The Truth is not a subtle film. Lets just get that out of the way first.

And no, subtlety need not be a requirement. Its simply a matter what shaped peg goes into what shaped hole. Lack of subtlety invites more self-awareness to fill the gap, a decided lack of self-awareness invites a more distant or peripheral approach to the material, and so forth. Such is how much ofThe Truth operates. Its hall-of-mirrors approach both heightens and downplays its drama in a breezy, engaging perspective. Or, at least, it does for a while.

We open with Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve), a famed actor in the midst of promoting her new book,The Truth (orLa Vrit). Her answers are forthright while her emotions hide behind a smokescreen of nicotine, not the least is being put to the test by the upcoming visit of her daughter, Lumir (Juliette Binoche). Lumir is a screenwriter, resentful of Fabiennes standoffish parenting. And she seems to have learned from it tooat least enough to save her own daughter, Charlotte (Clmentine Grenier), from a similar fate. And as for Lumirs recently teetotal husband, Hank (Ethan Hawke)? Well, hes just happy to be here.

Its when the trio arrives at Fabiennes houseor castle, as Charlotte puts itthat the dynamics begin to unfold. Its pretty basic stuff, at least in a sort of scaled-down Brechtian sense. And thats what makesThe Truth so curious for something that doesnt stick the landing: character interactions are lived-in and intimate, but its meta devices are so overt in their functions that the reflective detachment diminishes with time. Theres a film within a film here, but there still isnt enough to grasp on to.

Yes, one of the largest motifs inThe Truth is a sci-fi picture Fabienne is starring in. Its largely an excuse to give its central characters fictionalized equals by placing them in a closed proscenium, but it works at points. There are some sharp, quiet moments between Fabienne and younger star Manon (Manon Clavel) that help blur the line between the formers work and her insecurities, and Hirokazu Kore-eda writes and directs these scenes matter-of-factly. His usual bouts of soft comedy are here, but at the films best moments, theyre stern enough to point to something deeper.

Alas, that never fully comes to fruition.The Truth is an admittedly minor work in the grand scheme of things, and while thats fine, it works far better on a scene-by-scene basis than as a whole. Its supporting characters function as barometers to gauge how well rounded the script is.

[C]haracter interactions are lived-in and intimate, but its meta devices are so overt in their functions that the reflective detachment diminishes with time.

Take Hank, for example. He exists almost exclusively on the peripheries as Lumirs husband and, as a second-rate TV actor and recovering alcoholic, alludes to a larger disconnect. Not just in the arts world, mind you, but in this family specifically: how the family bobs farther from Fabiennes prima donna lifestyle with passing generations. The elements are here. Kore-eda, unfortunately, neglects these shadings, redirectingThe Truth into its more affluent clichs. His tender sense of humor gives a humanity to what could have otherwise been alien to most viewers, but the missed opportunities are hard to shake.

And thats generally what the final product feels like. Kore-edas film understands the difference between truth and fact, between subjective and objective. It also marks a seamless cultural shift for his first picture outside of his native Japan. He and DP Eric Gautier also do some nice work, using blocking and the occasional handheld shot to tease a visual synchronicity between characters and surroundings. But ultimately, its a harmlessand resultantly unremarkabletour through a gallery of personal issues.

The Truth opens in select theaters and on VOD this Friday, July 3.

Writer and film critic for hire who has worked with WGN Radio, Bright Wall/Dark Room,, The Film Stage, and more. Firmly believes that ".gif" is pronounced "jiff."

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July 2nd, 2020 at 7:52 pm

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Column: Why Americans are having an emotional reaction to masks – The Columbus Dispatch

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While Americans still have not adopted mask-wearing as a general norm, were wearing masks more than ever before. Mask-wearing is mandated in California, and in many counties masks are near-universal in public spaces. So I have started wondering: Does wearing a mask change our social behavior and our emotional inclinations? And if mask-wearing does indeed change the fabric of our interactions, is that one reason why the masks are not more popular in the U.S.?

When no one can see our countenances, we may behave differently. One study found that children wearing Halloween masks were more likely to break the rules and take more candy. The anonymity conferred by masks might be making it easier for protesters to knock down so many statues.

And indeed, people have long used masks to achieve a kind of plausible deniability. At Carnival festivities around the world people wear masks, and this seems to encourage greater revelry, drunkenness and lewd behavior, traits also associated with masked balls. The mask creates another persona. You can act a little more outrageously, knowing that your town or village, a few days later, will regard that as "a different you."

If we look to popular culture, mask-wearing is again associated with a kind of transgression. Batman, Robin and the Lone Ranger wear masks, not just to keep their true identities a secret, but to enable their "ordinary selves" to step into these larger-than-life roles.

But if we examine mask-wearing in the context of COVID-19, a different picture emerges. The mask is now a symbol of a particular kind of conformity, and a ritual of collective responsibility and discipline against the virus. The masks themselves might encourage this norm adherence by boosting the sense of group membership among the wearers.

The public health benefits of mask-wearing far exceed the social costs, but still if we want mask-wearing to be a stable norm we may need to protect against or at least recognize some of its secondary consequences. Because mask-wearing norms seem weakest in many of the most open societies, such as the United States and United Kingdom, perhaps it is time to come to terms how masks rewrite how we react and respond to each other.

If nothing else, our smiles cannot be seen under our masks, and that makes social interactions feel more hostile and alienating, and it might lower immediate levels of trust in casual interactions. There are plenty of negative, hostile claims about masks circulating, to the point of seeming crazy, but rather than just mocking them perhaps we need to recognize what has long been called "the paranoid style in American politics."

Just ask yourself a simple question: If someone tells you there is a new movie or TV show out, and everyone in the drama is wearing masks, do you tend to think thats a feel-good romantic comedy or a scary movie? In essence, we are asking Americans to live in that scenario, but not quite giving them the psychological armor to do so successfully.

On the brighter side, I wonder if mask-wearing might diminish some expressions of intolerance. People who might feel that others are "looking at them funny" might find themselves with less to be offended by as masks obscure those micro-reactions. Common mask-wearing is already reportedly easing the public judgment experienced by Muslim women who wear face coverings in Western society; some Muslim women who wear the niqab report that they are no longer being given dirty looks, if only because they no longer stick out so much.

Women who cover their faces for religious reasons might now be ahead of the rest of us when it comes to effective communication because they cannot rely as much their faces to convey emotion in public conversations, they report relying on more visible body language like waving and gesturing.

The tension of current mask policy is that it reflects a desire for a more obedient, ordered society, for public health purposes above all, but at the same time it creates incentives and inclinations for nonconformity. As a society, our public mask-wearing is thus at war with its own emotional leanings, because it is packaging together a message based on both discipline and deviance.

What can we do to convince people that a mask-laden society, while it will feel weird and indeed be weird, can be made stable and beneficial through our own self-awareness? While there is no simple answer to that question, mask advocates should recognize that they have been treading into unusual cultural territory, and should not be surprised by unusual public responses.

Tyler Cowen is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist and a professor of economics at George Mason University.

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Column: Why Americans are having an emotional reaction to masks - The Columbus Dispatch

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July 2nd, 2020 at 7:52 pm

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Using the Pomodoro technique to become your own boss – TechRepublic

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The method helps people structure daily workflows in a more efficient, personalized way. So what is the '80s technique and how does it work?

IMAGE: iStock/GaudiLab

In the era of big data and omnipresent metrics, a time management technique made in the 1980s is trending.

Time management methods are designed to give people an edge in their daily routines by incorporating structured approaches and philosophies into standard workflows. Over time, these various strategies provide people with a greater understanding of their executive functions to help maximize productivity and more.

Across industries, the Pomodoro method is one of the more popular time management techniques and for good reason. The Pomodoro technique leverages a beautifully simplistic framework, which means there's no need for lengthy how-to tutorials or prerequisite knowledge before jumping in. So what is the Pomodoro technique exactly?

Francesco Cirillo developed the Pomodoro method in the 1980s. The word "Pomodoro" is Italian for "tomato" and the name itself is a nod to the tomato-shaped timer Cirillo used while developing this method. The Pomodoro method itself involves a recurrent framework of balanced work and rest cycles.

As part of the method, people divide their workday into 25-minute intervals; each known as an individual Pomodoro. After each Pomodoro, people then take a short break of approximately five minutes. After completing four Pomodoro work intervals, individuals take a longer break of approximately 25 minutes.

At the core of the philosophy, time management techniques like Pomodoro encourage people to gain a better understanding of their mental processes and procedures surrounding planning, multitasking, and the art of self-regulation.

"When I'm working with students, whether it's a sixth-grader or a Fortune 50 executive, I often say that working on these skills, these executive functions entails really learning how to become your own CEO," said Rebecca Mannis, learning specialist and founder of Ivy Prep.

Effective scheduling is one of the core components of the Pomodoro technique. Rather than approaching a task as one colossal undertaking, the method encourages people to step back and assess the individual components of the larger project.

"People naturally tend to focus on completing tasks, as in "I've got to finish this report by Monday!" But tasks can often be formidably difficult and time-consuminglike staring up at Mount Everest and being intimidated by the sheer size of the thing. But all that really matters is that you put in the time, bit by bit, to complete the task.

Break the climb up Mount Everest into step-by-step walks and climbs, and it's doable," said Barb Oakley, a professor at Oakland University.

As part of the overall approach, people often create a list of the individual tasks required to complete the larger project. This creates a chronological workflow of the processes necessary to complete a particular endeavor. This enhances a person's knowledge of the amount of time it will take them to accomplish their goals in a more realistic way.

"When you see it, it enables you to then think through the sequence, both the sequence of what needs to come first, second, or third, as well as we know that being able to anticipate the amount of time to do something also taps into that same visual part of the cortex, of the thinking part of the brain," Mannis said.

Overall, the system asks individuals to become more attuned to their own processes and to adjust the approach as needed. In the long run, the Pomodoro technique allows people to look back and reassess workflows in hindsight. The lessons learned retrospectively can then be applied proactively to future projects.

"It's one thing to set aside time to do something, it's another thing to be able to step back and evaluate what about the use of that time worked well? How could a person continue doing that? Why my certain tasks or situations lends themself better to approaching the task differently?" said Mannis. "So Pomodoro is one method of helping us try to use the best of what we have that makes us unique as humans, that metacognitive awareness, that self-awareness."

SEE:Budget planning tool (TechRepublic Premium)

Over the course of a workday, there's always potential for stress to arise. People are routinely managing tight deadlines and last-minute projects alongside the rigors present outside of the workplace. While not all stressful situations are avoidable, the Pomodoro method attempts to help people eliminate undue stress by first assessing the project, understanding their limited time and energy before jumping headlong into a project.

"When a person or an animal is overwhelmed that starts tapping into what we call the subcortical system, the more basic part sometimes called the reptilian brain, probably because reptiles have them too, that's how they survive and what happens then is that there's an increase in cortisol, the hormone connected to stress response. And very often people or animals will go into what we call fight or flight. That we either run away and withdraw and think about what procrastination is, or they'll lash out to keep away the danger," Mannis said.

Procrastination is another productivity quagmire altogether. If a person is feeling overwhelmed with a project they may be more inclined to hesitate or delay. Dithering may also appeal to individuals who have hit a snag with an ongoing task and may need to start from scratch. In this way, stress and procrastination can effectively compound each other in a self-perpetuating cycle. Interestingly, there's an underlying physiology to the human art of deliberate procrastination.

"When you even just think about something you don't want to do, it activates the pain centers of the brain. But when you switch your attention to something more entertaining (Facebook! Instagram!), the pain goes away instantly. You've also just procrastinated." Oakley said.

The Pomodoro method effectively implements short stints of structured procrastination into the daily workflow. Rather than distracting yourself from a new or overwhelming task, the Pomodoro method rewards people with small breaks peppered in following small periods of work. It's in essence a self-implemented Pavlovian approach to efficiency and task sequencing.

Although the Pomodoro technique was created decades ago, the basic philosophy is particularly timely in 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many organizations have been forced to quickly transition from the traditional office to the digital workplace. Needless to say, this transformation hasn't gone swimmingly for everyone. An already challenging situation is only compounded by the outside stress many employees are feeling as the pandemic continues to take its toll on communities around the globe.

"Nowadays we've got so much going on in our lives and we need to juggle so much that people can understandably feel quite overwhelmed by needing to juggle those two realities and so that can contribute to people either not doing as comprehensive or complete a job that they know they must meet or they feel they must meet," said Mannis.

The Pomodoro technique allows people to add structures to new tasks that can be physiological stressful in a particularly chaotic and stressful time. Situationally, this time management technique acts as an instrument of personal empowerment, enabling people to better assess the storage and use of their limited time and finite energies.

"It gives them the tool to both manage those resources with an eye toward being effective and efficient. It also serves as what educational psychologists or neuropsychologists might call a scaffold, right? It's an instrument. It's a tool in which you can engage in some of that self-assessment," Mannis said.

SEE:Video teleconferencing do's and don'ts (free PDF)(TechRepublic)

Overall, the Pomodoro technique is an adaptable time management method. This encourages individuals to tweak the instrument to better fit their learning style and nuanced approach to new tasks. The underlying philosophy is focused on understanding your cognitive functions and creating healthy strategies based on this knowledge.

"It doesn't matter if it's a Pomodoro or a Post-it, what's important is that you've got a tool. You've got an instrument. And the trick is to use that instrument and practice it to make it your own, and to develop that heightened awareness, metacognitive awareness," said Mannis.

In general, the Pomodoro technique is a tool; an enabler of an end result. The same tool can be leveraged in innumerable ways. This particular tool allows people to harness their time and energy in a more focused deliberate way. What this tool allows someone to create is wholly up to them. Mannis likens the method and the possibilities to other instruments.

"You can take a Stratocaster guitar, the Kinks could play a song or Keith Urban could play a song. The beauty is in their mastering the basics and then making it their own," Mannis said.

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July 2nd, 2020 at 7:52 pm

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Birdland Insier: The Power of Mindfulness –

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Long before the COVID-19 pandemic heightened anxieties and accelerated the fear of the uncertainty, the Orioles coaching staff has focused on developing a culture where players, coaches, and staff are more in-tune and aware of these common emotions and feelings.

The Orioles welcomed Kathryn Rowe to the player development staff as the club's Mental Skills Coordinator prior to the start of the 2020 Spring Training. Rowe, a former high-level soccer player who played collegiately in her hometown at the University of Rochester, brought a new outlook to the Orioles training, combining her own experience as an athlete, her master's degree in counseling, and her work in mental health counseling and sports psychology.

While playing soccer, Rowe benefitted greatly from a sports psychologist who she encouraged her college team to utilize while she was on Rochester's women's soccer team.

"In my time there, I really started to see the benefits of mindfulness," shared Rowe. "My professors especially in the sports psychology world really were advocates for mindfulness, especially with athletes."

Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

During meetings prior to the start of Spring Training, Rowe was introduced to the rest of the Orioles coaching staff, including another newbie to the organization, Tim DeJohn, Development Coach for the GCL Orioles. DeJohn immediately knew Rowe was someone he could benefit from.

During the few months prior, DeJohn had been battling anxiety and depression after a few life changes.

DeJohn spent the 2019 season as an Assistant Coach with the Milwaukee Milkmen of the Independent American Association. Prior to that, he spent two seasons as an Assistant Coach at the University of Memphis, where he had moved with his fiance at the time. They had a beautiful house and two wonderful dogs until they ended their engagement in November of 2019.

"I resigned from Memphis. I didn't have a job in the future in a sense, and my relationship was over. It was a mixture of the worst things at the worst time," explained DeJohn. "I was in a really bad place for about a month and a half."

He began therapy to work on himself and address some of the issues that had been pushed to the side for most of his life, which he realized took a toll on his relationship. When he was brought on to the Orioles staff, he was feeling better.

During Spring Training, and with the encouragement of Matt Blood the Director of Player Development and a big proponent of mindfulness Rowe started "Mindful Mondays" with the coaches. After successful buy in from them, Rowe began to incorporate player participation.

"Especially in sports, mindfulness is so important because there are so many different distractions that come about during the game, in practice, and in everyday life," Rowe said. "The biggest thing for mindfulness is just being in the present moment because it's all we can control. We can't control things that have happened in the past, we can't control things that will happen in the future, we can only control things that we have right here, right now."

After the COVID-19 pandemic suspended Spring Training and the start of the season, Rowe continued "Mindfulness Mondays" by offering players, coaches, and staff the opportunity to participate and meditate together a few times a week. Something that DeJohn finds has been very beneficial during this time away from baseball.

After relocating from Sarasota to Connecticut to live with a friend, the uncertainty of the season and the state of the world combined with the dreary weather of an early spring in New England didn't bode well for his mental health. He decided to dive fully into meditation and mindfulness, spending the downtime on working on himself and his mental health, which would benefit not only himself, but also his players, friends, and family.

"I've hit all of these things with depression and anxiety, but I've always thought, 'how am I going to be a 'man' and lead others and coach others when I can't get my own stuff together?'" shared DeJohn.

It was in Rowe's mindfulness and meditation virtual meetings where DeJohn could continue to share his "story" and be open about the struggles he's faced and continues to face, leading the way for other players and coaches to be open. He knew that in order to be the best version of himself not only as a person but as a coach, he had to be open and honest.

"People are supportive. I feel like I'm almost a better coach because I come out and say things that normally people wouldn't say because they're scared to put themselves out there. But in doing that it's made me more relatable and more of an approachable person in a sense," voiced DeJohn. "I am not afraid to tell anybody anything now because I've learned that everybody is going through something. If somebody is going to judge me for making myself a better person, then I really don't want to align myself with them anyway."

Outside of Rowe's virtual meetings, DeJohn has been practicing meditation each day for over two months straight. With the suggestion of Blood, DeJohn has been using the app Ten Percent Happier, and has found that it is his mental saving grace during this time of uncertainty.

"You're controlling your breathing. You're controlling your thought process. You're in control of it, instead of your thoughts controlling you," explained DeJohn. "It's so simple, and it's such a beautiful thing."

Both DeJohn and Rowe say that mindfulness and meditation are something that can positively impact not only personal lives, but also professional lives, especially when it comes to sports. Mistakes on the field, in relationships, and in personal choices happen, but it's how you react that matters.

DeJohn said, "I just think it's the acknowledgment of the emotion; the acknowledgment of the distraction; the acknowledgment of the whatever it may be in your life instead of the no I'm not going to play into that; I'm not going to get mad; I'm not going to fall in love; I'm not going to cry; I'm not going to laugh. If you feel it, do it. Control it afterwards. Move on, and then that's it."

Rowe shares that, "the biggest thing we're trying to teach here is self-awareness. What behaviors and thought patterns, do you have that aren't helpful and that are inhibiting you? With this self-awareness being an acknowledgment in that moment, hopefully you'll be able to shift yourself back to the present moment, and not respond in certain ways, or not overreact."

Both DeJohn and Rowe have seen firsthand the impact of mindfulness and meditation from their own personal lives. By sharing their insight, their story, and their love of this idea, they have both been able to reach people that may not have ever thought to address this in their own lives, or be so open and honest about it with other people.

Fan, player, coach, and staff members alike can benefit from mindfulness and meditation. No matter the struggles or problems, it's something that everyone can do and feel the positive impact from, especially in this time period.

"Practicing meditation could maybe even prevent [those problems]. It's just as much a preventative measure as it is a prescription to something that you do struggle with.

If you are interested in kickstarting your meditation and mindfulness practice, here are some ways to start:

Tips & Tricks from Tim DeJohn and Kathryn Rowe:

"First off learn what it is. Especially nowadays we can be ignorant to so many different things. I was one of those people. People fear what they don't understand. Learn about it first." DeJohn

"Your mind will be wandering a ton, and that's what it's supposed to do. So don't get mad at yourself and instead recognize that's part of the process. The whole point of meditating is to notice when it does wander and to bring yourself back." Rowe

"To start, do like 2-3-minute meditations. I think people sometimes start with 10 minutes, and it's very difficult. Starting with shorter meditations can be easier getting the grasp of it." Rowe

"It's called practicing meditation you have to practice at it. There's different techniques. Try it and don't give up on it. Once you start seeing the effects of it, it becomes like addictive. You almost feel like you couldn't function normally, like you need it." DeJohn

Helpful References: There are several smartphone apps that can help with your journey. Most come with a free trial to get started, and then require payment to use the full spectrum of their services. Rowe suggests trying some of these out and taking advantage of the free elements before committing to a full payment. The voice of each meditation is different, and plays a huge factor in your reception to it. Find what's right for you!

Ten Percent Happier | Calm | Headspace | Insight Timer

Online Videos: Searching online for different videos is another great way to get started and to find which type of meditation works for you. YouTube can help you try out different styles, different voices, and different lengths of time. Below are some specific videos that Rowe has done with O's coaches and minor leaguers during their weekly virtual sessions:

Apps and videos are great ways to practice meditation, but you don't just have to meditate to be mindful:

"You can go on a mindfulness walk, where you essentially are walking through nature and using all of your senses to recognize what's around you, and being in the present moment," shares Rowe. "Even doing the dishes, or any type of chore, can be done mindfully," she continues. "Everyone thinks of mindfulness as meditating, and yes that's a big part of it, but you can do other things mindfully."

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Birdland Insier: The Power of Mindfulness -

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July 2nd, 2020 at 7:52 pm

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Police self-care is part of the solution | News, Sports, Jobs – The Adirondack Daily Enterprise

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Jul 1, 2020

After Ferguson six years ago, police departments all over the country implemented several reforms to make officers more aware of their implicit biases and to embrace conflict deescalation as one of their duties. But in light of George Floyds brazen daylight murder by four Minneapolis police officers, those reforms, although moving in the right direction, have been insufficient.

I think what is urgently needed is better self-care for police officers. This proposal may be controversial, but I truly believe that this has to be part of the solution. Officers should have quality and free health care, access to free therapy and regular counseling. The stigmas around mental health and policing should be confronted and eliminated from the top down. Furthermore, I believe all officers should be provided increased paid time off and encouraged by their superiors to rest and recharge outside of work. They should also be supported to take up non-police-related hobbies where they can integrate themselves into the communities they serve. Mindfulness courses should also be offered free of charge, and meditation or centering time should be made available while at work.

Speaking as a domestic violence counselor working in a mid-level city with a very diverse population, the adverse effects of stress on police officers is painfully obvious to me. For example, in racially charged situations involving verbal if not violent confrontation, high levels of work-related stress can bring to the surface biases, prejudices and even outright racist attitudes, creating a toxic recipe for abuse. Even when there is not overt violence or the expressed intent of violence, these factors can create interactions that leave my clients feeling unheard, disrespected, shamed and ultimately more traumatized.

Clients of color have told me how police will not respond if called to the same house more than once. Survivors of color have told me how they were denied crime reports or never told about victims assistance programs, and how they would never call the police even if they were under attack by their abuser. And I have heard gut-wrenching stories about how the police made fun of them, accused them of lying or simply judged them. Tragically, some survivors have even been arrested due to an officers negligence or lack of training on how to identify a primary aggressor.

Yet I also have worked with police officers who would give their lives for a survivor. Some have called the hotline weeks after an incident to check on someone who they dropped off at the shelter. Some officers have even stepped up to take on the power establishment within their department. I have heard about officers calling out corruption, acts of discrimination and even the abusive behavior of their colleagues.

In the words of Audre Lorde, Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

If the objective is to have police officers stop killing unarmed black citizens, self-care for police is not an act of self-indulgence. Nor is it a bleeding-heart liberal response to crime and punishment. Self-care is an essential component of public safety. It is about police being more equipped to handle the pressures of the job.

Surely, critics will argue that my proposal is just another form of cultural sensitivity training. Thats not true. Mindfulness training, trauma-informed counseling, paid time off to unplug and reconnect with friends and family, and incentivization to pick up healthy leisure activities is not the same as unpacking individual prejudice or noticing the signs of white privilege. Those skills are necessary but ultimately useless if the police officers are so run down by stress and lack of self-care that they do not have the mental and physical bandwidth to put them into practice.

Other critics will argue that what I am proposing does not deal with racism head-on and evades the discussion we all need to be having about structural forms of injustice in our society. If the system is racist, it does not matter if police officers are in a good headspace or not. I hear and respect that criticism. But the way to change systems is by changing minds and hearts. The best way to do that is by meeting a persons psychological, physical and perhaps spiritual needs. What I want to talk about is a reform that is robust, sustainable and self-replicating.

Are there racist cops? Absolutely. Is there structural injustice? No question. But there are far more cops who are overstimulated, over-stressed and just too high-strung to be effective. They face everything from car accidents to gang warfare to child abuse to abused animals to drug addiction to homelessness to intimate partner abuse and much more. They need self-care, or they will inevitably crack. When that happens, we all pay the price.

That said, rather than redirect the conversation about police brutality and racial injustice, what I want to see is more accountability and better police officers. I want to see police officers who have the confidence and skills to handle any situation the right way. And I want the police to possess a level of self-awareness and emotional resilience that places them in a position to best serve the public interest. That police officer will be a change agent.

At this point, I think the only realistic alternative to implementing a comprehensive (and federally subsidized) self-care plan for all law enforcement is to dissolve police departments altogether. The status quo is broken, and one way or another, change is coming.

George Cassidy Payne is a social worker, freelance writer and adjunct professor of philosophy. He lives and works in Rochester.

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Police self-care is part of the solution | News, Sports, Jobs - The Adirondack Daily Enterprise

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July 2nd, 2020 at 7:52 pm

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