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October 2011 (174 posts)
This week, the Sesame Workshop introduced a new muppet, Lily, during a national primetime special, Growing Hope Against Hunger. Lily, a red-headed seven-year-old, often depends on her local food pantry for meals. Her boldness in addressing her situation is striking: "When you don't even know if you're going to have a next meal or not, that can be pretty hard," she tells Elmo, who admits he didn't know there were many people don't have the food they need (more than 50 million Americans, says this clip from the special).
It's hard not to fall for Lily; her straightforwardness is refreshing and inspiring. We're guessing Lily's mom or dad told her about their predicament and let her know that things would be okay. She isn't pretending she's something she's not, telling Elmo her family has enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to last all year. She doesn't keep her hunger a secret. She's just being herself, in all her moppy, wide-eyed, hot pink-skinned glory.
A documentary reveals the damage mainstream media does to women.
When Jennifer Siebel Newsom (left) learned in 2009 that she was expecting a baby girl with husband Gavin Newsom—California's lieutenant governor—she struggled to imagine how her daughter "could grow up to be emotionally healthy," she says in Miss Representation, the documentary she directed to expose how American media erodes female self-worth.
So it's no wonder that we're really excited about the Daily Life Work portion of Oprah's Lifeclass. It's a guided workbook with questions curated by O magazine columnist Martha Beck. The questions go deep--e.g., What is the one thing that you most identify yourself with (your looks, your job, your family, etc.)? Who would you be if that were to disappear? How do you think others see you? How many of your choices are made to maintain this image?--but that's the point: To continue the conversation from that night's class, and go deeper into the lesson. Your answers are private and no one else can see them, and every class has its own workbook. And you don't even need to have your pencils sharpened.
Join the fight against breast cancer while treating yourself (or your mother, aunt, or a friend) to something special.
If the friendship bracelet-making skills you once learned at summer camp are a little rusty, give the pals in your life this sophisticated, handmade (by someone else!) version dotted with glass crystals instead. Created by designer Chan Luu, the colors represent the Think Pink, Live Green initiative—which teaches women and girls how to reduce their lifestyle and environmental risk factors for breast cancer.
$20, ChanLuu.com; 50 percent of each sale goes to BreastCancer.org
Rethinking the cure for breast cancer
19 more pink buys that give back
A vaccine for breast cancer?
I love a good miracle—especially when it's the kind somebody took a picture of to prove it actually happened. A few days ago, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh and Johns Hopkins found a way to help a paralyzed man use a robotic arm to hold his girlfriend's hand—just by thinking "I want to hold your hand." A chip in his brain directed the the high-tech limb to operate the way a real one does, by desire and mental direction. The man, Tim Hemmes, and his girlfriend had met after his motorcycle accident in 2004, Business Week reported. He had never been able touch her before.
The pictures published in the San Francisco Chronicle—are astonishing, not just for the contrast of her human hand in his robotic one—but for the expression on her face.
While being interviewed Hemmes added, "I always tell people your legs are great ... but...your arms and fingers and hands do everything else. I have to get those back, I absolutely have to." He also said his goal is is to hug his 8-year-old daughter. "I'm going to do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to do that again."
Uh-oh, I thought. Because what if his beliefs don't come true? What if he doesn't get his real flesh-and-blood hands back, no matter how much faith he has in himself and technology? What do we do as humans when we put all our energy and time behind something that might not pan out? I had that horrible feeling I get sometimes when I watch my son try to do something impossible, like build a race car out of paper that will drive—only it was worse because this man's life was at stake.
Which was the phrase that snapped back me out of my dark little mind cave. His life was at stake. I realized something, something I should have realized all along. Hemme's belief is not in the power of robotics or brain chips. His belief is in hope—and this is the quality that is defining is his life. For example, he could have done anything with that hand: scratched an itch, brushed back his hair, shook hands with the doctor. But he chose to reach out to someone he loved—and to show her how he felt.
3D Cards, $5. Send a card and a gift all in one with these adorable letterpress camper and station wagon. The recipient assembles it by cutting, folding and glueing--and voila: a holiday ornament or trinket for her desk.
Vitra Chairless, $29. This sturdy strap of fabric--er, “seating device”--promises to relieve your tired spine and legs when you just can’t find a chair.
Tea Mints, $2.99. In flavors like lemongrass yuzu and ginger pear, these breath fresheners double as mood lifters.
Food Pod, $15. This cool silicone cooking tool lets you boil, blanch or steam eggs, vegetables, shellfish and other foods, and can hold up to a dozen large eggs or several heads of broccoli.
So we called Philip Gehrman, PhD, the clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program at the University of Pennsylvania. "This ultimately comes down to a biological issue," he explained. At night, when we turn off the light to go to bed, we trigger the release of the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel tired and sluggish. As we sleep in a room that stays darker longer in the morning, our melatonin levels stay elevated.
Gehrman says that any external cue that helps synchronize our body clock to the earth's 24-hour cycle is called a "zeitgeber" or "time giver." Bright light is the most powerful zeitgeber because it directly inhibits the release of melatonin. This is why it feels so much easier to get up when the July sun is streaming through your windows.
Gehrman says that the best way to get yourself up and out during the darker months is to create artificial sunlight in your home. "As soon as your feet hit the floor, flip on all the lights and start the day with gusto," says Gehrman. He adds that the blue-green part of the light spectrum in sunlight has the most potent effect on our circadian rhythms, but any standard or energy-efficient light bulb will work as a sufficient cue.
If your partner still needs the dark to sleep, hurry into the bathroom and turn on the overhead light as well as the mirror bulbs -- everything. "The brighter, the better," says Gehrman. Physical activity is another zeitgeber, so doing a few jumping jacks or arm swings will also help get you going (and it will raise your body temperature, decreasing your longing for the blankets you recently gave up). Gehrman says that you can also invest in a dawn simulator that gradually lights your room to full brightness starting about a half hour before you want to get up. "This helps trick the brain into thinking that the sun is coming up," says Gehrman. (The only problem is that it tricks the brains of everyone in the room, so your partner--and maybe even pets--will start to wake up, too.)