Sunday, March 31

Connecting With People to Remove Stigma of Mental Illness.

Ron Blake with one of his poster boards. He's been on a journey throughout the country to remove the stigma around mental illness. (Courtesy of Ron Blake)
Surviving a sexual assault can leave deep psychological wounds, and these scars can often manifest in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Unfortunately, PTSD and other mental health disorders are frequently surrounded by stigma. This man went through a horrific attack and is now travelling around the country to confront the stigma of mental illness with art. On Dec. 21, 2011 three men entered Ron Blake’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. Blake was asleep when he heard people in his apartment. When he confronted the men, they appeared to be drunk. The men, one of whom was Blake’s partner, held him down and sexually assaulted him. One of the men nearly threw him over the seventh-floor balcony. Blake was able to break free, and he called the police. However, the police were no help at all and no physical evidence was taken. Blake even tried to confront his attackers, but they all denied the incident took place. As a result of the trauma, it would take Blake a few years to process what had happened to him.“I just started shutting down shortly after that, didn’t talk about it,” Blake said. Over time, Blake began to recognize two symptoms of PTSD: Isolation and anger. He withdrew from family, friends, and didn’t want to be around people. He also had some explosive moments. There was an instance where he dropped his car keys and then threw a glass against a wall. Blake beat himself up because he didn’t know what was happening to him. On May 15, 2014, he was reading an article in Time Magazine about sexual assault on college campuses, and it sank in that he had been assaulted. Blake started opening up about his attack, and about a month later he began seeing a therapist. He was ultimately diagnosed with PTSD. Despite his treatment, on Nov. 2, 2015, he had reached his limit. He found himself in his apartment with pain pills in his lap and was ready to take his own life. “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” happened to be on, and Blake laughed.“It was just this sheer simplicity because I paused this show and I just thought I don’t know that I can take my life. There was just something as innocent as laughter, and I thought this is either God or the universe telling me that it’s not my time,” Blake recalled. It was that experience that was the turning point in Blake’s life. He wanted to be on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”One day he was at Staples to buy paper when he saw a display of giant foam poster boards. He found himself staring at them, and an employee asked if he needed help. That’s when he asked for all of them. It was at that point where he decided to embark on a journey to meet strangers, share his story, and have them share their stories of trauma and mental illness in return. At first, he thought they would just sign their names on the poster boards. However, strangers then began to write about their own experiences. Blake has met a variety of people throughout his journey. He’s met a survivor of sex trafficking who shared with him how lonely she is. He met another woman who was sitting next to a fountain by herself. She had been struggling with suicidal thoughts; he told her about his journey, and they had a therapeutic discussion. In fact, she told him she had been on her way to take her own life before she had spoken with him.“She said to me she was going to be okay. She said that moment changed her,” Blake recalled. Throughout Blake’s journey, he’s had people hug him, give him high fives, shake his hand, and even kiss him on the cheek. Throughout his odyssey, he’s learned that people are human and show the best of themselves once the vitriol of politics and ideology are stripped away. Over the last 1,227 days, 28,329 people from 11 different states have written their stories on 434 boards. People have shared in 89 different languages in 27 different colours of Sharpie markers. Blake is still considering his options, but he hopes to feature the poster boards in a gallery for a travelling art show.“That’s how everybody heals. By talking about it. If you never talk about it you’re never going to get better,” Blake said.

Understanding Loneliness in Older Adults.

Seniors often face a greater risk of loneliness and the health consequences that come with it.  (Flickr)
Loneliness can have a profound impact on health and longevity. It is also widespread. This helps explain why a committee of the National Academies of Sciences is investigating loneliness and social isolation among older adults.The committee’s deliberations come amid growing interest in the topic. Four surveys (by CignaAARP, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Michigan) have examined the extent of loneliness and social isolation in older adults in the past year. And health insurers, health care systems, senior housing operators and social service agencies are launching or expanding initiatives. Notably, Anthem is planning a national rollout to Medicare Advantage plans of a program addressing loneliness developed by its subsidiary CareMore Health, according to Robin Caruso, CareMore’s chief togetherness officer. United Healthcare is making health navigators available to Medicare Advantage members at risk for social isolation. And Kaiser Permanente is starting a pilot program that will refer lonely or isolated older adults in its Northwest region to community services, with plans to eventually bring it to other regions, according to Lucy Savitz, vice president of health research at Kaiser Permanente Northwest. The effectiveness of these programs and others remains to be seen. Few have been rigorously evaluated, and many assume increased social interaction will go a long way toward alleviating older adults’ distress at not having meaningful relationships. But that isn’t necessarily the case.“Assuaging loneliness is not just about having random human contact; it’s about the quality of that contact and who you’re having contact with,” said Dr Vyjeyanthi Periyakoil, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work for older adults, she and other experts agreed. Instead, varied approaches that recognize the different degrees, types and root causes of loneliness are needed. The headlines are alarming: Between 33 and 43 per cent of older Americans are lonely, they proclaim. But those figures combine two groups: people who are sometimes lonely and those who are always lonely. The distinction matters because people who are sometimes lonely don’t necessarily stay that way; they can move in and out of this state. And the potential health impact of loneliness—a higher risk of heart disease, dementia, immune dysfunction, functional impairment, and early death—depends on its severity. People who are severely lonely are at “high risk,” while those who are moderately lonely are at lower risk, said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University. The number of people in the highest risk category is relatively small, as it turns out. When AARP asked adults who participated in its survey last year “How often do you feel lonely or isolated from those around you?” 4 per cent said “always,” while 27 per cent said “sometimes.” In the University of Michigan’s just-published survey on loneliness and social isolation, 8 per cent of older adults (ages 50-80) said they often lacked companionship (a proxy for loneliness), while 26 percent said this was sometimes the case.“If you compare loneliness to a toxin and ask ‘How much exposure is dangerous, at what dose and over what period of time?’ the truth is we don’t really know yet,” Periyakoil said. Loneliness isn’t always negative, and seniors shouldn’t panic if they sometimes feel this way. Often, loneliness motivates people to find a way to connect with others, strengthening social bonds. More often than not, it’s inspired by circumstances that people adjust to over time, such as the death of a spouse, close family member or friend; serious illness or injury; or a change in living situation. Loneliness comes in different forms that call for different responses. According to a well-established framework, “emotional loneliness” occurs when someone feels the lack of intimate relationships. “Social loneliness” is the lack of satisfying contact with family members, friends, neighbors or other community members. “Collective loneliness” is the feeling of not being valued by the broader community. Some experts add another category: “existential loneliness,” or the sense that life lacks meaning or purpose.Dr. Carla Perissinotto, associate chief for geriatrics clinical programs at the University of California–San Francisco, has been thinking about the different types of loneliness recently because of her 75-year-old mother, Gloria. Widowed in September, then forced to stay home for three months after hip surgery, Gloria became profoundly lonely.“If I were a clinician and said to my mother, ‘Go to a senior centre,’ that wouldn’t get at the core underlying issues: my mother’s grief and her feeling, since she’s not a native to this country, that she’s not welcome here, given the political situation,” Perissinotto said.What’s helped Gloria is “talking about and giving voice to what she’s experiencing,” Perissinotto continued. Also, friends, former co-workers, family members and some of Perissinotto’s high school buddies have rallied around Gloria. “She feels that she’s a valuable part of her community, and that’s what’s missing for so many people,” Perissinotto said.“Look at the older people around you who’ve had a major life transition: a death, the diagnosis of a serious illness, a financial setback, a surgery putting them at risk,” she recommended. “Think about what you can offer as a friend or a colleague to help them feel valued.”Listening to older adults and learning about the type of loneliness they’re experiencing is important before trying to intervene. “We need to understand what’s driving someone’s loneliness situation before suggesting options,” Perissinotto said.One of the root causes of loneliness can be the perception that other people have rejected you or don’t care about you. Frequently, people who are lonely convey negativity or push others away because of perceived rejection, which only reinforces their isolation.In a review of interventions to reduce loneliness, researchers from the University of Chicago noted that interventions that address what they call “maladaptive social cognition”—distrust of other people, negativity, and the expectation of rejection—are generally more effective than those that teach social skills or promote social interactions. Cognitive behaviour therapy, which teaches people to recognize and question their assumptions, is often recommended.Relationships that have become disappointing are another common cause of loneliness. This could be a spouse who’s become inattentive over time or adult children or friends who live at a distance and are rarely in touch.“Figuring out how to promote quality relationships for older adults who are lonely is tricky,” Holt-Lunstad said. “While we have decades of research in relationship science that helps characterize quality relationships, there’s not a lot of evidence around effective ways to create those relationships or intervene” when problems surface.Other contributors to loneliness are easier to address. A few examples: Someone who’s lost a sense of being meaningfully connected to other people because of hearing loss—the most common type of disability among older adults—can be encouraged to use a hearing aid. Someone who can’t drive anymore and has stopped getting out of the house can get assistance with transportation. Or someone who’s lost a sibling or a spouse can be directed to a bereavement program.“We have to be very strategic about efforts to help people, what it is they need and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Holt-Lunstad said. “We can’t just throw programs at people and hope that something is better than nothing.”She recommends that older adults take mental stock of the extent to which they feel lonely or socially isolated. Am I feeling left out? To what extent are my relationships supportive? Then, they should consider what underlies any problems. Why don’t I get together with friends? Why have I lost touch with people I once spoke with?“When you identify these factors, then you can think about the most appropriate strategies to relieve your discomfort and handle any obstacles that are getting in the way,” Holt-Lunstad said.

The Best Way to Deal With Failure.

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Failure is a part of life, and we make mistakes pretty much every day. How do we cope? Or better yet, how should we cope? Academics and the mainstream media tend to offer a simple solution: Don’t let it get to you and think about how things could have been worse. These self-protective thoughts usually make you feel better. You move on. But is it possible that popular wisdom is missing a bit of the puzzle? Does setting aside the negative emotions make you any less likely to repeat the mistake? Noelle Nelson, Baba Shiv, and I decided to explore possible upsides of feeling bad about failure. Even though they’re unpleasant, we feel negative emotions for a reason. Negative emotions tell us to pay attention, signalling that something’s wrong—with our body, with our environment, with our relationships. So if you avoid negative emotions, you also might be avoiding the thing that needs your attention. Could deciding to focus on the negative emotions associated with failure lead to thoughts about self-improvement—and, with time, actual improvement? We designed a series of experiments to test this question. In the studies, we used something called a two-stage paradigm: First participants attempted a task in which they failed; then—after a series of unrelated tasks—they would have the opportunity to redeem themselves. In one, we asked our participants to search the internet for the lowest price for a particular blender brand and model (with the possibility of winning a cash price if they were successful). In reality, the task was rigged. In the end, the participants were simply told that the lowest price was $3.27 less than what they had found. We then asked half the participants to focus on their emotional response to having failed, while the other half were instructed to focus on their thoughts about how they did. Then we asked them to reflect, in writing, on how they felt. After a few unrelated tasks, we gave the participants a chance to redeem themselves. In this seemingly unrelated task, we told participants to imagine that they were going to the birthday of a friend who wanted a book as a gift. We also told them that the book they find should be a bargain. We found that participants who were previously instructed to focus on the negative emotions following their failure in the blender task spent nearly 25 per cent more time searching for a low-priced book than those who had been instructed to focus on their thoughts. When we examined the written responses, we also found some important differences. Those who had focused their thoughts on how they did, on their failure—rather than dwelling on how they felt—tended to have defensive responses: “I didn’t care much about this anyway”; “It would have been impossible to find that price.”In contrast, the participants who had spent time parsing their emotions produced thoughts oriented toward self-improvement: “If I’d only searched longer, I would have found that price”; “I gave up too quickly.”It appears that focusing on the emotions of failure can trigger different thoughts and behaviours. Perhaps when you reflect on how bad you feel after failing, it motivates you to avoid experiencing that feeling again.But could this improvement migrate into other endeavors—for tasks unrelated to the original? To test this question, we added a variation of the second scenario. Instead of telling the participants to find an affordable book (which involved a price search like the original task), we asked them to find a book that they thought their friend would like. In this case, it didn’t matter whether participants had focused on their emotions or thoughts after the first task; they spent similar times searching for the best gift. It seems as though the improvement only happens if the second task is somewhat similar to the original, failed one. While “feeling your failure” can be a good thing, it doesn’t change the fact that this can hurt. There’s a reason people tend to instinctively rationalize or have self-protective thoughts after they’ve made a mistake. It would be debilitating if you were to focus on how bad you felt after each failure, big and small. So it’s up to you to decide which failures to try to improve upon, and which failures to shield yourself from. Clearly, one-off events or inconsequential mistakes—taking the wrong turn in a foreign city or being late to a party with friends—don’t make the best candidates (hence the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff”). But if you’ve failed at something that you know you’re going to have to confront in the future—say, a task for a new role at work—pause and feel the pain. Use it to fuel improvement. If you focus on how bad you feel, you’ll probably work harder to ensure you don’t make the same mistake again.The Conversation

Family Sees News of Baby Abandoned at Clinic and Gets a Call to Adopt Him.

(Facebook | Through My Eyes)
When a woman in Oklahoma learned of an abandoned baby on the news, she asked her husband if he thought the baby was theirs, as they had arranged to adopt. “I doubt it,” was his reply. Little did they know what was going to happen when they were told to go to the adoption agency as soon as possible.In November 2014, Amy and Todd were planning to go to the lake for Thanksgiving after moving to Tulsa from Pittsburgh the month prior when they got a call from the adoption agency. They were told to go to the agency straight away. Amy decided to go alone and leave Todd and their children to the packing. Before she left, Todd told her that he saw a news report about a baby boy who was dropped off at a local care facility with his umbilical cord still attached because his mom was homeless and couldn’t care for him.“That is the saddest thing ever. Do you think that is our baby?” Amy asked Todd.“I doubt it. He’s probably pretty sick,” Todd replied. But a surprise was awaiting Amy when she reached the agency. The staff at the agency showed her a news report of the baby that Todd had told her about and said: “You don’t have more paperwork to sign. He’s waiting for you in the NICU. He’s yours.”“There are no words to describe all the emotions I felt at that moment,” Amy wrote in her story, as reported by Love What Matters.\
“Oh, he was ours. The moment I saw him, I knew he was ours, yes … definitely,” Amy told News On 6.“ The way things came together with timing is, couldn’t be called anything but a God thing,” Todd added. One year later, Amy and Todd officially adopted the baby, named “W,” on Nov. 11, 2016, and also celebrated him becoming a “Wild One” with their tribe. The couple said that W’s story had helped many children who needed to be fostered.“His story’s already helped so many that we don’t even know,” Todd said. Apparently, when other expecting mothers who couldn’t care for their babies heard of W’s story, they left their newborns in the care of the law. Under Oklahoma’s Safe Haven Law, birth mothers are allowed to leave their newborn at a fire station, police department, or a hospital without being prosecuted. The couple already has seven children. Amy told PEOPLE that W is the perfect addition to their family.“We call him the little tornado. He is just a spunky little dude,” she said. “He’s full of life and happiness. He’s a really healthy, happy little boy. He’s done very well for his beginnings.”She is also grateful to W’s biological mother.“I’m just thankful for her. She gave us a perfect gift,” Amy said. “He’s been a very big blessing to our family.

Teen With Lupus Donates Blankets to Those in Need.

Meredith Kass, a senior at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, N.Y., holds a Meredith's Favorite Blanket to help those in need. (Photo by Rolyne Joseph)
Meredith Kass was a high school junior last year when she found out she had lupus. It’s news that can make a grown adult feel sorry for themselves, but Kass, 17, finds the time and energy to focus on others, making handmade blankets for those facing their own serious hardship. Kass goes to Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, New York and enjoys going to the beach and playing outdoor sports such as lacrosse. Or she did. Then last year, she started feeling sluggish and not your regular teenage tiredness. Her muscles would become achy and stiff while playing lacrosse. It didn’t get better.“I would feel more tired than I would usually be,” she said. “I would come home from practices and my body would hurt.”Kass visited pediatric care at NYU Winthrop Hospital. After tests, Kass was told she had low red and white blood cells and anaemia. It was systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue.“I was swollen,” she said. “I had like a rash. I was waking up extremely stiff and getting out of bed was very difficult.”Kass now has to protect herself from the sun due to extreme sensitivity that would lead to skin rashes, itching, and burning. And when her team takes to the field, she has to stay on the sidelines, undercover, rooting them on.“I wore full sweatpants and crewneck,” Kass said. “We had pullovers and I wore a bucket hat.”Not exactly the fashionable attire teens aspire to wear. She also has to avoid physical stress, and take prescribed medications. Fortunately, her mother and other family and friends have always been there to support her.“It was very difficult at first, but as we learned about the disease, we got more confident with managing it,” mother Maureen Kass said. “Then it was just supporting and encouraging her.”But Kass didn’t give in to the kind of self-pity that can get the best of us in her circumstances. Instead, she started Meredith’s Favorite Blanket, a project designed to make blankets for those who are sick or have experienced loss.
“It’s a blanket—it makes you feel warm, it makes you feel happy and cosy,” Kass said. “So it’s a good thing being able to spread that warmth.”During her downtime, Kass works in her living room with strips of fleece and other material making blankets she hopes can bring a smile to someone’s face. After Kass makes the blanket, people from her school, church, and elsewhere help personalize it, which takes about 20 minutes. She said the community’s involvement is touching.“There were so many people willing to donate their time and everyone was willing to get involved,” Kass said. “We were able to get a lot more done.”Kass and company have made more than 450 blankets.The blankets have gone to cancer patients, hurricane victims in Texas, survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, and children at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.“It’s something that makes you comfortable and it’s also a reminder that someone is supporting you, too, even though they don’t know who I am,” the teen said. “It’s like someone was trying to do something for you and it’s having a positive effect on people.”“It’s something that even if they’re having a rough day, or if they’re not feeling well, it can help bring a smile onto their face,” she said.

This Couple Gets Married Every Year.

Marriage can be a controversial topic in American society. Many people may wonder how old they would like to be when they tie the knot, and some dismiss the idea of marriage entirely. One couple in Rancho Palos Verdes, California has been married for 21 years, and they’ve had 24 weddings. Evan and Susan Money met each other through a friend of a friend on a surf trip in Mexico in 1990, and they got to know each other as friends. In the beginning, Susan thought Evan was just another surf punk. After five years of not seeing each other, the couple ran into each other in a supermarket. Evan asked for Susan’s number not to get a date, but to get in touch with some old friends. However, when Evan called her, she asked him out to the movies.“I had to ask him out, and then he had to think about it so he’s still living that one down,” Susan said. Despite a rocky beginning to their first date, the two hit it off. About two or three weeks later, the couple knew they wanted to get married. However, the two still needed to get to know each other for the next year. Furthermore, Evan had promised his mother that he wouldn’t date so he could focus on his business. About a month and a half in, Evan took Susan to meet his mother. He wanted to be a bachelor forever but he also wanted to marry Susan, and figured his mother would be able to turn Susan off.“Deep down inside of me a part of me is really excited to marry her, so it’s kind of this Jekyll and Hyde [mindset] almost,” Evan explained as he wanted to marry Susan but was afraid of giving up his bachelor lifestyle.Wedding #14
Evan’s mother stressed how important her son was to her, and he conveniently left the room to have Susan take the brunt of the questioning. However, his plan backfired. When Evan got back to his apartment his mother called and said: “Evie, Susan is a woman of substance.”Evan dropped the phone, and his bachelor side had died. However, he was ecstatic because that was the answer he had been looking for. After dating for 11 months, Evan proposed to Susan in front of the high school French class she taught. Six months later, the couple married on July 5, 1997, in Manhattan Beach, California. They assumed this would be the one and only time they would get married. Growing up in Los Angeles, Evan had three perspectives on romantic relationships based on the people he knew. One could be married and miserable, divorced and desperate, or single and cynical.“Deep down inside, I knew I wanted something different,” Evan said. Evan and Susan tried to figure out how they could be different, and wound up going to personal development seminars together.“We finally realized that in order for things to get better, we had to get better. And in order for things to grow, we had to grow,” Evan explained. That’s when they embarked on a journey of personal growth. During one of these seminars, they listened to a man who would have an anniversary party at his house every year and remarry his wife. That’s when Evan and Susan decided to take the idea a few steps further. Susan turned to Evan with tears in her eyes and told him that she wanted to the same thing, but do it in a different state or country every year. However, at the time the couple had very little money. Nevertheless, the couple figured they could get remarried frugally in Tijuana, Mexico. However, as the two were planning the wedding, they won an all expense paid trip to Paris, France. Despite not having a lot of money, the couple was able to get remarried in the garden at the Palace of Versailles. It was this second wedding that really opened up their minds to what they could do and where they could go to get remarried. Even though every one of the 24 weddings has been special, both Evan and Susan have certain favourites. For Susan, renewing their vows at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas was particularly special. The two were married with dolphins, and both had their own dolphins as their respective “best mammal” and “mammal of honour.”For Evan, one of the most special weddings was in the Green Bay, Wisconsin at Lambeau Field. One of the coaches of the Green Bay Packers officiated the wedding in full coach garb and recited Vince Lombardi quotes about love and togetherness. The couple has also remarried in a 300-year-old windmill in Germany and in a hot air balloon over New Mexico. One time the couple was supposed to get remarried in Portland, Oregon, but the pastor had to cancel because of an emergency. The couple only had a few hours to get back to the airport, and they ended up renewing their vows in the corner of the airport terminal. Both Evan and Susan are happy as can be, and are always planning for another wedding or are enjoying another honeymoon. They have such an amazing relationship because they both work at it, and they’re both constantly focused on being better. They hope other couples can have the same experience and hope they don’t focus on the tedious aspects of a marriage. The duo is actually working on a hope-based reality show called “Happily Ever After,” in which they will feature couples who are in a rut, give them some tools and encouragement to work on their relationship and remarry them at a surprise location in Los Angeles, California. Their own next wedding will be in the Teton Mountain Range, Wyoming in June 2019.“Every year is totally different, and we’ve gone big and we’ve gone super small. We just make it an adventure, and I get a wedding out of it and Evan gets a honeymoon and it’s all good,” Susan said.

Gordon Ramsay Tells His Parenting Secret How He Keeps His Children from Being Spoiled.

(L) Gordon Ramsay and family (Jason Merritt/Getty Images); (R) Gordon Ramsay (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
With listed earnings of $62 million as of 2018, Forbes has chef Gordon Ramsay ranked as the 33rd-wealthiest celebrity in the world. Despite his current wealth, though, the 52-year-old culinary wizard didn’t grow up surrounded by money—and his own upbringing shines through in the way he raises his own four children. In an interview with the Telegraph UK, Ramsay explained that he believes in his children being “grateful” rather than entitled.“Tana [his wife] came from a super set-up, and I’m just ‘educated roughly’ from a council estate,” he told Emma Cox in the interview. “So we meet in the middle and the kids bounce off both of us. They have a completely different life than I did growing up. I worked my arse off to get out of the s— mess that I grew up in and they’re grateful, they’re not spoilt.”
He went on to describe a parenting style that balances caring for his children with the desire for them to be self-made. He hasn’t left them his immense fortune in his will but doesn’t leave them on the street, either. His eldest daughter gets a 100 pound (US$131.63) a week allowance while away at school, while his younger three children are given 50 pounds (US$65.81) a week in an effort to teach them how to budget and earn their way through life. He and his wife have agreed that they’ll pitch in with 25 per cent of the deposit needed to get an apartment or flat, but aren’t willing to throw millions at real estate developers to build their children a penthouse of their own. While that may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to his overall wealth, Ramsay’s approach gives his children a small leg up without doing everything for them. And it’s an approach that seems to be paying off; they appreciate the times that he does treat them (he brought the family to his three-Michelin starred flagship restaurant in Chelsea, Royal Hospital Road, for daughter Megan’s 16th birthday), and they do things like volunteer to feed pensioners in the meantime.“It’s not in a mean way; it’s to not spoil them,” he said, referring to the fact that he won’t just be leaving his fortune to the children when he passes.“The earlier you give them that responsibility to save for their own trainers and jeans, the better.”It’s certainly not the approach that every celebrity or mogul follows. Even the current president of the United States was famously given a million-dollar loan (worth about $5.5 million in 2019) from his father to start his own business; it’s not altogether typical for a parent with millions to dole out an allowance like every other middle-class household.For the Ramsay children, though, the goal is to give them a better appreciation of how money works in the long run. And with his children doing everything from studying psychology and running marathons for charity to starting their own cooking shows, it’s clear that his parenting style seems to be paying off.

Doctor Assures Mom Her Triplets Are Fraternal but DNA Test Results Show Otherwise.

(Instagram | beckijo92)
While the likelihood of having triplets is extremely rare, for one Liverpool mother, her trio of sons is far, far rarer than most multiple births.Then-23-year-old mom Becki-Jo Allen was nine weeks pregnant when she went to the doctor complaining of a headache. The good news, of course, was that she was expecting again; after having her daughter Indiana three years prior, the mom had been hoping to see her family grow.

What she wasn’t expecting, though, was how many babies she was having (not to mention what she learned afterwards). Not only was she pregnant, her doctor confirmed, but she was expecting triplets!“It was the biggest shock of my life,” the mother told the Independent Echo. “We haven’t got any triplets in the family so it came completely out of the blue.”The single mom went in for weekly scans and tests throughout her pregnancy to make sure all three babies made it, then delivered via C-section at 31 weeks. All three infants—a set of boys named Rocco, Roman, and Rohan—were discharged within a few weeks of their birth.

At her delivery, Allen was assured by her doctor that the triplets were fraternal. After all, it’s already rare enough to naturally conceive triplets—the birth rate for multiples higher than two is roughly 5 per 100,000 live births, and they’re almost never identical; indeed, that would require the fertilized egg to split not just once, but twice, in order to conceive three identical babies with perfectly matching DNA. In the weeks following the trio’s discharge, though, Allen noticed that people had trouble telling them apart. Even she, their mother, could find little discernible physical difference between her three sons.

Curious, Allen had their DNA tested to see why they looked so similar. When the results came back, she was absolutely floored. All three boys were, indeed, identical triplets. Identical triplets are so rare that doctors haven’t been able to accurately pin down the frequency of the occurrence. It’s estimated that the likelihood of having three identical babies could be anywhere from “one in a million,” as the old saying goes, to 1 in 200 million, and there are only a handful of known cases in the world today. As rare as they might be, though, Rocco, Roman, and Rohan all came from the same egg.

But for Allen, she doesn’t have trouble telling them apart. She said, “I don’t get them mixed up—it’s only when they’re asleep that they look the same to me.”“They all have completely different personalities,” she added.

While it’s believed that the instance of fraternal twins or triplets is genetic—a woman’s genetic makeup can predispose her to release multiple eggs in a single fertilization cycle—identical births are, it would seem, truly a stroke of luck, with no known genetic factor explaining why fertilized eggs sometimes split into multiple embryos. For Allen, though, the numbers behind the phenomenon likely don’t mean much. For her, the existence of three happy, healthy new babies has to be what matters most!




Harmonia Rosales Artist who received backlash for painting God as a black woman!

If you are familiar with Michelangelo’s masterpiece, “The Creation of Adam”, you would agree that it is one of the most famous works of art ever created. But when an Afro-Cuban, Chicago-based painter, Harmonia Rosales, painted her own version of Michelangelo’s work in 2017, reimagining God and the First Man as black women, she received a lot of backlashes.
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Rosales’s work, “The Creation of God”, “riffs on Michelangelo’s portrayal of God’s creation of Earth’s first human, Adam.“But her version depicts the deity not as a white-haired white man, but as a black woman, reaching out to touch another, younger black woman. When she posted the iconic painting online, it attracted thousands of likes on social media Twitter and Instagram but it also sparked controversy. Critics described Rosales’ artwork as “disgusting”, a “cultural appropriation”, and a “desecration of an artistic masterpiece.”For someone who wants to see her identity as a woman of colour represented in art, Rosales at the time said: “I wanted to take a significant painting, a widely recognised painting that subconsciously or consciously conditions us to see white male figures as powerful and authoritative and flip the script, establish a counter-narrative.”“White figures are a staple in classic art featured in major museums. They are the “masters” of the masterpieces. Why should that continue?”“When you consider that all human life came out of Africa, the Garden of Eden and all, then it only makes sense to paint God as a black woman, sparking life in her own image,” she added. Nevertheless, the idea of a black female God got many angry, with some even demanding why she had based her painting on Michelangelo’s work rather than coming up with something new. Growing up, Rosales, who calls herself a self-taught artist, took classes and got herself admitted to the University of Illinois College of Fine and Applied Arts. She said people were never sure of her ethnicity.“They’d ask, ‘Are you part Asian? Where did you come from?’ … I was like, ‘Well, I’m Cuban and I’m Black too.’ I always had to figure out what I say to people,” she said.

This formed the basis for her kind of painting, with the sole aim to clear all doubts.“I paint my subjects darker because I don’t want you to mistake them for anything other than this pure form of where we came from,” she said. Rosales had her first solo show, Black Imaginary to Counter-Hegemony (B.I.T.C.H.), at Los Angeles’ Simard Bilodeau Contemporary in September 2017. It featured seven pieces, including the controversial The Creation of God, and sold out in a week.
Harmonia Rosales
Rosales had earlier thought of backing down following the racist comments that followed her 2017 The Creation of God, but her mother talked her out of it.“Having never really felt that unfiltered racism, I thought about stopping.“When I became really sad about the comments, my mother said, ‘That’s going to make you an artist. The controversy. I was waiting for that.’”Her mother, Melodye Benson Rosales, was an artist herself, who had dared to write and illustrate Twas the Night Before Christmas, featuring a Black Santa Claus in 1996. She had done same for Leola and the Honeybears: An African-American Retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in 1999. Rosales, who had never thought about the importance of issues of colour, had a change of mind when she had her first daughter. Till date, the 34-year-old mother of two said her children are the reason she is a painter as they make her focused. She has also learnt to deal with negative responses to her work.“It’s inspiring because whether the comments are negative or positive it creates dialogue and provokes thought. I learn from the comments. We are all still learning who we are and how we define ourselves. I gain wisdom from everything,” she said in an interview. To critics of her 2017 The Creation of God, the Chicago-native said: “A woman is a woman: Black, white or any colour,” she said.“We have been taught that God created ‘man’ in his own image. [But] in fact, we have created God in our own image. So ‘God’ is whoever we want God to be, a representation of the ideal, of the divine, of wisdom and love and pure creativity. Let’s face it, creativity, starting with the womb, is a female attribute,” she said.

SA’s historic and colourful Muslim neighbourhood now a heritage site.

For four years, residents of South Africa’s oldest and colourful Muslim community, the Bo-Kaap, had been fighting for protection against new development projects that may destroy the area’s unique characteristics. Residents of Cape Town’s oldest surviving residential area, however, heaved a sigh of relief on Thursday when the City of Cape Town announced that the area would receive heritage protection. The Muslim neighbourhood has been marked as an official Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ), a system the City uses in its zoning scheme to provide protection and manage development in spaces the city identifies as heritage spots.
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Thursday’s decision by the city council to approve a heritage protection overlay zone for the neighbourhood will affect new developments, restorations, and the maintenance and alteration of properties. In other words, Bo-Kaap residents have been assured that any developments that threaten to infiltrate the zone would be restricted by the protection of the HPOZ. The city will also take care of all bills related to the restoration and maintenance of properties in the area. Last year, Bo-Kaap made headlines following heated clashes between developers and residents in the area. The City subsequently conducted wide public participation hearings and asked locals to have their say on the proposal to make the Bo-Kaap area an official heritage site.
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There was a sector hearing on February 9 where community-based organisations and the business sector made oral presentations. The process concluded on February 22. At the end of it all, 2,298 comments were received of which 2 271 were in support of the proposal.“Evidently, those who participated want the City to protect the Bo-Kaap’s long-term sustainability as a cultural asset. By including the Bo-Kaap in an HPOZ we will ensure that this uniqueness is harnessed and promoted for future generations and visitors,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt. More than 600 privately owned properties in the Bo-Kaap will be within the new heritage zone, and Nieuwoudt said officials would be available to give owners free advice on adhering to the regulations governing the zone.“The zone will not prevent new development. However, it sets additional development rules over and above the provisions of the base zoning for land units in the Bo-Kaap,” she said.
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The City’s mayor, Dan Plato, welcomed the development and described it as a pivotal moment for the historic neighbourhood.“I personally want to thank all of those who have persevered, and I want to commend those who have participated in the recent public participation process for their commitment and constructive contributions.“The Bo-Kaap is entering a new chapter where residents and landowners can actively promote it as a heritage tourist destination to the benefit of the local community, as well as the broader Cape Town,” he said.The HPOZ will come into effect once published in the Provincial Gazette.
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Situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre, Bo-Kaap is one of the most brilliantly-coloured and historically-unique neighbourhoods in South Africa. Its colourfully-painted homes and “romantic cobblestoned streets” date back to the 18th century. Residents of Bo-Kaap are descendants of slaves that were imported by the Dutch from Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and various African countries during the 16th and 17th centuries.
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Even though not all of the slaves were of Malaysian descent, they were largely known as “Cape Malays.” In 1795, the British seized Cape Town from the Dutch and this led to changes in subsequent decades including religious freedom, the abolition of the slave trade and finally the end of slavery. Eventually, the liberated slaves formed a new community at Bo-Kaap, which is sometimes referred to as the Malaya Quarter. A largely Muslim community, Bo-Kaap is characterized by a distinctive Cape Malay culture created by intermarriage between slaves from the South and Southeast Asian countries with those from India, Madagascar, and native African groups.
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It added that many local women converted to Islam to marry Muslim men. Initially, houses of Cape Town were painted white. Residents of Bo-Kaap, to highlight their unique Muslim identity, subsequently began painting their houses in bright colours in preparation for the celebration of Eid. Neighbours agreed on what colours to use to avoid clashing of shades. In recent years, there have been fears that the area would not be able to hold on to its colourful cultural history following protests and court challenges over the area being sold to developers. This is expected to change as the area gets officially approved as a protected heritage site.


Woman Warns Others Not To Rest Feet On Dashboard After Crash Left Her Without A Forehead.

Gráinne Kealy was just 22 when she was involved in a crash that left almost every bone in her face broken. Credit: Gráinne Kealy
A woman is speaking out to warn others about the dangers of putting your feet up on the dashboard after she was left without a forehead for two years. Gráinne Kealy was just 22 when a car she was in skidded on some black ice and hit a wall; her feet were propped up on the dashboard, over the airbag, and were forced back into her face - breaking almost every bone in her face."My boyfriend at the time was driving us through Borris-in-Ossory in County Laois to do a bit of Christmas shopping and I had my feet on the dashboard. It wasn't something I normally did, but I had new shoes on so I knew I wouldn't leave dirty marks on the dashboard."My feet were on top of the airbag and, I know now, they inflate at 200mph. The force of that meant my knees were sent back into my face really powerfully. I broke nearly every bone in my face. I had a brain leak [called a CSF (Cerebrospinal Fluid)] and I lost two teeth."Gráinne and her boyfriend were rushed to the hospital where she underwent surgery to fix the leak on her brain and the fractures to her face. However, just a few months later it was found that Gráinne had an infection in the bone in her forehead, so medics were forced to remove it in 2007. Gráinne then lived without a forehead for two years."It took a while to slowly go down," Gráinne explained. "It wasn't like I suddenly woke up and it was sunken in. It took a while, which probably helped me get used to it."For a long time, I was afraid to leave the house. I became a bit of a hermit. I didn't want to go out and then when I did go out, I would get looks. I bought hats to cover it. I was also worried about banging my head."
Gráinne Kealy was left with no forehead for two years. Credit: Gráinne Kealy
Gráinne Kealy underwent a gruelling 10-and-a-half hour surgery after the smash. Credit: Gráinne Kealy
But, in June 2009 surgeons at Beaumont Hospital managed to reconstruct Gráinne's face by fitting a ceramic forehead."It was strange," Gráinne said. "I'm aware of it, but I can't really remember what it was like before I had it. Since it was first fitted, I've had fat taken from my stomach and injected either side of it to plump it out because you could see the edges. I think I'll need to have that procedure one more time and then hopefully it's done."

Gráinne Kealy has been fitted with a new ceramic forehead. Credit: Gráinne Kealy

As well as undergoing numerous surgeries directly related to the crash, Gráinne says that the accident triggered a sort of 'domino effect', leading to more problems and issues and that recovering from her acquired brain injury isn't as easy as some people think. She explained: "I ended up with gallstones because of the medication I was on and I have near-constant headaches. There seems to be a different problem every year."I know people have it much worse off than me and I'm so grateful for the treatment I've received, but it's hard to move on when it's still ongoing for me. I think in total I've had 16 procedures and surgeries."Gráinne, who has a four-year-old son, is now speaking out to warn others about sitting with their feet up while being a passenger in a car."You see it all the time," Gráinne said. "Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Conor McGregor and Selena Gomez have all posted photos to their Instagram with their feet on the dashboard. They have billions of followers who see that. You see it in films and on TV, it's everywhere."I just want to warn others about how dangerous it can be. I didn't know - and some people say to me 'how could you have been so stupid?' but I honestly didn't realise it could be so dangerous. I thought because I was wearing a seatbelt and was sat up properly in the car, I was safe."I want people to learn from my mistake."

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