Eye Spy: Internet Neighbors on the Rise

 

Riding through affluent neighborhoods, I couldn’t stifle my surprise.

“Look, did you see that?” I remember nudging him in the ribs.

“See what?” he asks perplexed.

“That,” I whisper from the backseat. Hundreds of neighborhoods later, I learned to acclimate myself to neighbors hand gestures and other forms of acknowledgement, which was customary for them, but oddly foreign to me. Oftentimes, their greeting consisted of:

  • A friendly wave
  • Eye contact
  • A warm nod
  • A smile
  • Acknowledgment in some form

Nothing could prepare me for Southern hospitality in the highest order. House hunting has always felt stressful for me because while I wanted a home, I also was in the market of neighbors.

Good neighbors.

Family atmosphere.

Neighborhood Watch.

Cordiality.

Being from the East Coast, our mixed raced neighborhood consisted of neighbors who had your back. Neighbors who didn’t mind being your eyes and ears. And nothing could replace—even today—neighbors who congregated on porches, on stoops, in backyards, or local meeting holes, bars, eateries, or riding in cars going places just because.

Everyone spoke to one another. We just didn’t speak to strangers. In fact, it took a lot of “eyeballing” before strangers were even accepted into our neighborhood. It was our way of protecting one another—especially children—that there was potentially stranger danger. So basically, while we were friendly to one another, the dynamics changed once a stranger entered our “loving family bond.” All of a sudden, we became territorial.

The benefits of living in a close-knit community made me appreciate living in various states where neighbors really made the neighborhood.  I feel there’s credence in the saying that you want to live “where people know your name” even today.

Twenty years ago, I was enamored by the notion of “Good ole’ Southern traditions/hospitality.” In the South, people were “open, friendly, neighborly. In my experience, neighbors are standoffish, meaning they’ll speak, but there’s no interaction, communication or galvanization to deter crime or exchange important information.

Two years ago, there was a high incident of crime; yet, we didn’t know about these incidents until it made the news! When some of us tried to start a Neighborhood Watch Program, there was no interest.  Crimes still seem to plague our neighborhood, but they continue to happen because we as neighbors won’t take action, talk about it or even call the police.

I’ll never forget what this police officer said in a meeting about the advantages of being neighborly. “Neighbors are the eyes and ears of the community. Don’t worry about being nosy or not wanting to get involved. Being neighborly can be the difference between life and death–it’s too crucial not to communicate.”

 

A few days ago, I officially joined a website that allows me to “connect” with neighbors via Internet. The website is supposed to give you updates about even neighboring subdivisions crime activity; new neighbors; home sales; neighbors recommendations for professional services such as recommending a handy man/mechanic, garage sales, invitations to neighborhood evens and even a chat room.

Since I’m new to this, I cannot say whether I like it or it works. But I can say, nothing beats that good old network of caring neighbors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

, I immediately noticed residents would immediately smile and throw their hands up to wave as to say “Welcome.” It was startling and yet, at the same time refreshing.

So, I thought there is some credence to what I always heard “Nothing beats Good ole’ Southern hospitality.”

Being from the East Coast, Connecticut and New Jersey respectively, neighbors always congregated and socialized on porches, in front of stoops, a central meeting place where bonds formed and everyone naturally watched “everyone’s backs.” There was never a time when I didn’t remember neighbors didn’t stop and talked with one another or volunteer to look after neighbor’s houses.

Of course, there was the other extreme where if a stranger entered our neighborhood, everyone knew it. There was no such thing as “Stranger danger” because neighbors made sure that children were always protected.

 

 

There’s Freedom in Saying No

I was proud of my record—more often than not, I’d say “Yes to Requests” when I really meant no.

No to volunteering

No to writing documents for free

No to free babysitting

No to having guests

No to working overtime

No to bad relationships

And a resounding No to any kind of personal and professional time constraints and infringements that cause me to regret saying Yes.

The word No was not in my vocabulary. Oftentimes, we’re conditioned to say Yes because it’s easier than declining a so-called “favor.” Many times I heard myself agreeing to situations where it starts to wear on my nerves.  Here’s a case and point:

An acquaintance asked me if I could house sit for a week while they were out of town.

“Sure,” I said without thinking it through thoroughly.

A few day before the trip, the lady calls with a list of demands.

“When you come by, will you bring the mail in?” she asks.

“Okay, no problem.”

The next day, it was more requests.

“Can you water the plants and turn off the lights?”

Silence. I was thinking in both cases, she could take care of those things herself.

“Yes.”

When I got to her house, I discovered she left a “To Do List.”

At this point, I was miffed—more at myself because I could have easily said No, in the first place.

Instead, I agreed against my better judgement.

So, I checked on the house as we agreed, and told her No, to anything extra.

I learned the art of saying No by watching and listening to a friend of mine. Betty, is a mother of four, a highly successful supervisor, a caretaker and she’s in a relationship. As one can imagine, she’s pulled in many directions at any given time.  She shared with me that at one time, her stress level was really high because she didn’t know how to say no to family/job/relationship commitments.  In the end, her health started declining.

“First, I had to realize there’s no harm in saying No and every request doesn’t automatically mean Yes,” Betty said. “These days, I often tell others, I’ll think about it and get back to them. That way, it alleviates stress on me and I weigh the importance of the requests.”

These day, Betty says by saying No, she has made herself a “high priority.” By not committing or “overly committing” she avoids a lot of undue stress, stain and spreading herself thin.

In Shonda Rhimes book “The Year of Saying Yes,” the main theme of her book was unlearning how to stop saying No, to new experiences and No opportunities and No to things that scared her. Most people would think of Rhimes, the creator of such shows as “Greys Anatomy,”  “Scandal” and “How to get away with Murder” wouldn’t have any problems with healthy balance of saying No, to things that were not good for her, like toxic relationships.

Rhimes advises: “Difficult conversations are sometimes necessary for personal growth and for the health of your relationships and the people who love you will want to grow along with you. Learn to say ‘no’ to things and people who are sucking the life out of you. When you understand that you deserve good things, saying ‘no’ to the bad things becomes so much easier.’’

Whether it’s a relationships or not being able to say “No” to commitments, there are ways to learn to say “No” without feeling guilty, feeling guilty or making up “white lies.” Here’s some tips from Life hack that gives us permission and power to say “No.”

  • When you say yes to something you don’t enjoy, you say no to things that you love
  • When you say yes to a job you don’t love, you say no to your dreams
  • When you say yes to someone you don’t like, you say no to a fulfilling relationship
  • When you say yes to working overtime, you say no to your social life.

Saying No sometimes can be a good thing–for yourself and others. Try it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weighing in on Bad Eating habits: Mine!

It’s hard to unlearn old/bad habits. While I assumed I had it all right, I was sadly mistaken.

My eating habits has to be revamped—for my health and diet.

Once upon a time, I could eat what I want, when I wanted and how much I wanted.

Those were the good old days. Gone are the days of not counting calories, all-you-could eat buffets and skipping meals.

How easy it was for me to rely on my high metabolism that burned calories through avid walking, climbing and Zumba.

 But I had it all twisted:  Exercise must  compliment a healthy diet.

My exercise instructor, Danielle often says: “Garbage in, is garbage out.” In other words, you are what you eat.

And menopause didn’t help matters much. Weight gain and slow metabolism became the  norm for me. I remember sharing my mortification to Danielle, when I modified my diet and starting working out 4-5 times a week, only to learn I lost ONE pound.

“This can’t be,” I said with disbelief. “I’m doing everything I know to keep my weight in check.”

Danielle replied: “Check your eating habits. Write down what you eat for one week.”

The realization was an eye opener. Take a peek:

Breakfast: Large coffee, bagel with butter or sometimes grilled Texas grilled cheese sandwiches.

Lunch: Salad with all the topping, salad dressing filled with calories and fat.  Soup or a super large meal.

Dinner many hours later and famished: Anything I could carry out.

What’s missing from this list?

A healthy diet includes lots of water and smoothies made from fruits and/or vegetables. Most times, these items were totally eliminated from my diet altogether or I felt they weren’t important. Also, I remember a nutritionist stated that creating a balanced  diet includes proper nutrients and portions.  While this sounds good in theory, I Googled healthy diets and this is National Health Services recommends:

The range of foods in your diet should include:

  • plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods – choosing wholegrain varieties where possible
  • some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
  • some milk and dairy foods – choosing lower-fat varieties where possible
  • just a small amount of foods high in fat and sugar

 

While this list is well and good, it’s still felt vague and left me with more questions than answers. How much fruit and vegetables are necessary daily, weekly to get the proper nutrients. And the theory of eating bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods isn’t necessarily true for a healthy diet. Bread consists off flour which produces calories and packs on pounds. That is why, I have chosen to give up eating bagels and any other forms of breads from my diet. And many people and restaurants have now prefer brown rice as opposed to white rice. This list could work, but I felt I needed more guidance.

For me, I needed to enroll in a nutrition class to learn how to eat healthy.  I found that the local hospital offers free nutrition classes. According to the description, the class focuses on making healthy choices and selections by learning proper nutrition tactics. The class also emphasis meal planning, healthy snacks and fistful portions.

I also discovered some churches, community centers and senior citizen centers are now offering nutrition classes for free or minimal cost.

Sounds like a winner to me! Here’s to re-education, re-evaluation and reorganization of the foods I take in and the ones I leave out.

 

C’mon Let’s Celebrate: Women!

 

 

Today is March 8, 2016. Do you know what this day means?

Crickets.

Blank face.

Silence.

In my mind, I hear the theme song of Jeopardy.

You’re not alone if you’re stumped. Who knew that today would be a day of recognition?

Today is International Women’s Day. Feel better?

To be honest, I didn’t know either. But I do remember years ago, I heard about it, but forgot about it.

Maybe the following promotion would help raise awareness of the importance of the day using:

  • Media Announcements
  • Announcements in Women’s Magazines (and perhaps there is/are)
  • Women programs featuring the holiday and women’s achievements shown on that day
  • Community recognition programs

But come to think about this International Women’s Day recognition, it historically follows Black History Month. So, then I have this other thought which is my thought and my unapologetic opinion as I ponder the dynamics of history.

In schools, American history is taught year round.

Black history is recognized in February–a month long.

And International Women’s Day is just one day? Hummmm, I wonder about that.

What’s wrong with this picture?  To be fair, if schools, parents and the community are including the contributions of women in American history and during Black History Month, I applaud their efforts.

So, what exactly is International Day and what’s its purpose/goal? This is the information I found on Google.

  • International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since in the early 1900’s
  • International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Another interesting fact, I learned from reading this article is that no  one person, group,  or government among others can take full recognition for starting International Women’s Day. Gloria Steinem, a women’s right activist and journalist defines the true essence of International Women’s Day.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

I must say that I am ecstatic that Google’s creative and informative Doodle gave women’s of all nationalities/backgrounds a chance to express their visions/dreams for their future. In this video, they clearly and boldly articulated what how they plan to impact the world in their future occupations, or how they are doing it now.

     The only thing missing which I waited to hear: “I’m strive/going to one day be the first female President.”

     If you haven’t seen it, go to Google and click on the start button.

    Spoiler alert: It’ll raise your consciousness and maybe feel a sense of pride and joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgetting to remember-Alzheimer ‘s is Real

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowledge is power—sometimes.

Has someone ever shared information with you and now that you know, you wish you hadn’t known because perhaps you weren’t quite prepared?

And now with your new acquired knowledge, there are questions and decisions that must be made that falls into two categories:

Let the information marinate until I get more information.

Or should I act on the information I have– immediately?

It’s a quandary, I dealt with recently once I got the 411.

I can always count on my sister, Liv, to “keep me in the know” about family issues—both good and bad. In this case, she shared felt obligated to inform me about our family medical issues–for my health.

“When you go for your annual checkup, don’t forget to ask the doctors to check for Alzheimer’s disease,” she says straight, no chaser.

“Sure……what?” I’m totally flummoxed about this new information.

It just so happens that there’s a logical reason behind Liv’s state of emergency.

“The disease is prevalent  in our family. On Daddy’s side, we’ve had several aunts and uncles succumb to Alzheimer’s disease.”

She also enlightens me that the disease was more typically associated with in Seniors. Today, the disease is now showing up in people in their mid-40s.  That sobering information was stuck, but I remember feeling a range of emotions such as:

Uncertainty/off balance and unprepared

Denial/fear.

Just processing what I learned.

Once I’ve calmed down, I promise Liv and myself that now that I am aware of the disease, I would have to make some choices.

As months passed, I forgot about the conversation, the urgency and anything even remotely associated about the disease.

Enter the Reminder. The importance of this issue was brought to my attention—AGAIN—when I recently watched Insider Edition’s riveting interview with B. Smith, a former model, cookbook author and lifestyle maven who once hosted a syndicated show, very similar to Martha Stewarts. B. Smith is now dealing with Alzheimer’s disease.  She and her husband, Dan Gasby, co-authored a book called “Before I Forget: Love, Hope, Help and Acceptance In Our Fight Against Alzheimer’s.

Imagine one day you simply forget how to get home. This is what B. Smith experienced the day she got off the bus at the wrong stop. According to the book, she spent 17 hours wandering around New York City—in heels. Her days of traveling alone were over.  And as one can imagine, their relationship of dealing with the disease (also referred to as dementia) has changed tremendously.

Alzheimer’s Association states these following facts about the disease:

  •     Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. It affects memory, thinking and behavior and eventually leads to death. About 5.3 million Americans have it.
    •    It is not a normal part of aging, but about 95% of cases develop after age 65.
    •    People with Alzheimer’s live an average of 8 years after symptoms emerge.
    •    Current treatments can ease some symptoms but cannot cure or change the course of the disease
  • African Americans are about two times more likely and Latinos are about one and a half times more likely to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias than whites.
  • Although African Americans and Latinos are more likely than whites to have Alzheimer’s and dementia, they are less likely than whites to have a diagnosis of their condition, resulting in less treatment and planning.

As I was reading these facts, I was startled into action: gone were the excuses and the “choices.”  So, I wouldn’t forget, I’ve scheduled my appointment and started keeping a sticky note in my car to ask for the test. With this knowledge and a bit of trepidation, I already feel empowered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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