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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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For parents of disabled kids, one of life's biggest struggles comes from outside the home.

Everyone knows being a parent is hard. But parenting a disabled child carries challenges you don't expect.

Many of us in this world are juggling multiple tasks at one time. On any given day, we are nurses, therapists, advocates, teachers, personal care assistants, and administrative assistants managing their endless paperwork.

When I had my son, I expected to face these day-to-day difficulties of parenting a disabled child. But the challenge I wasn't expecting came from outside the home.


For years, I have always wondered why friends seem to drop like flies from my life. What am I doing wrong? Why do I struggle making and keeping friends?

[rebelmouse-image 19533644 dam="1" original_size="2681x2361" caption="Photo by Jordan Whitt/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Jordan Whitt/Unsplash.

For some parents of disabled children, friendships can feel almost impossible to maintain.

As our children grow and we move deeper into the trenches of childhood, we sometimes find that our lives are very isolated from the world around us. We turn on our laptops, tablets, or phones and see pictures of other parents at social events, throwing elaborate parties or cheering on their kids at sports. These moments can make our stomachs sink, our hearts hurt, and remind us just how isolated our lives have become.

We are maxed out with the daily care of our children, and every aspect of our lives is wrapped up in the complications and extra fighting needed to raise our children successfully.

Most of us are trying to balance the needs of our children, and their care is so extensive we are moving from one crisis to the next on a daily basis. My son demands 100% of my attention, and due to the complexity of his care, all of my energy is focused on his treatments, appointments, researching, and managing my emotions about the toll his care takes on my psyche.

[rebelmouse-image 19533647 dam="1" original_size="5678x3884" caption="Photo by Cristian Newman/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Cristian Newman/Unsplash.

The fact is, I’m not a very good friend.

I don’t have a lot of free time. My schedule is always changing, and it is impossible for me to keep plans. My son’s care wears me out physically and emotionally. Due to the high-stress life I lead, I am short of patience, and I can get easily annoyed by people. I say things I don’t mean out of frustration, and I take well-meaning comments too personally.

On the rare opportunity I can stick to my plans, the thought of socializing leaves me with a deep sense of anxiety. I know that I will have to talk about my life, and talking about my life makes me feel exhausted. When I have a chance to get away from my house, the last thing I want to do is talk about what is going on in my life.

Frequently the events I attend are in larger groups, and the conversation is small talk related to raising children. Parents want to talk about their children, and for many, it’s a way to bond. They commiserate about the woes of parenting. Yet, I always feel like an outsider because I don’t relate to their stories, and I have little of my own to contribute. I’m often lost in my thoughts, completely preoccupied with what I need to do for my son.

[rebelmouse-image 19533648 dam="1" original_size="5616x3744" caption="Photo by Megan Lewis/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by Megan Lewis/Unsplash.

I might be near people, but I’m a million miles away.

I listen to amazing stories about vacations, outings, and all the milestones that their children have accomplished. When I hear others having wonderful lives full of happy memories, I find that I sink further away from the conversation. I nod my head and smile, but inside I’m screaming because our lives are so different and it feels so unfair. My son hasn’t met those milestones, we never go on vacation, and our lives are spent moving from one office to another for appointments.

If I do speak, I know that I will have to share our journey. Talking to anyone about our life has a way of making me feel incredibly anxious. After the stress of a day caring for him, I don’t want to recap what is going on, nor do I want to answer questions. I also don’t want anyone feeling sorry for us. More often than not, I find myself not saying much at all.

Eventually, the night ends. I feel depleted, sad, and I am reminded how out of place I feel in the world. I push everyone away from me because it is so hard to be around anyone. I don’t like being reminded our life is different, and I can’t handle how that realization makes me feel. Selfishly I can’t focus my energy on anyone other than my child, and helping friends navigate their problems is impossible for me. I realize I just cannot be the friend I need to be.

Texts go unreturned, I stop answering messages and emails on my social media, and I quit accepting invites or attending events. The truth is I push everyone away because I’m emotionally drained by my feelings. I know our life is different, I hate that my child is dealing with so much adversity, and I can’t relate to anyone around me.

In the end, friendships dissolve because I can’t contribute, keep plans, or give anything to anyone other than my son.

I’ve learned over the years that I’m not alone in my feelings.

Other parents of disabled children have shared these same feelings with me. The lives of parents of disabled children are not typical, and we are keenly aware of our differences.

Our lives are filled with appointments, therapy, and endless paperwork that will take us away from the world as we care for our children. We are not readily accessible to our friends for long periods of time. Many of us feel incredibly guilty for not being better friends, but most of us accept that we are incapable of nurturing meaningful relationships outside of our immediate family.

We wish more than anything that people understood that even though we can’t always be there for people — we desperately need them in our lives. Even though we can’t go to events, we wish people would remember to invite us. We wish we didn’t feel so out of place, and hope that one day we will find someone who gets our life.

More importantly, we wish we were capable of being better friends, and that we could relate to other parents. Our lives as parents of disabled children make having friendship a tough challenge, and for many of us giving up is more natural than fighting.

We fight for everything for our children, so when it comes to the fight to maintain relationships, we need a little more help from our friends.

Photos from Tay Nakamoto

Facebook is no longer just your mom’s favorite place to share embarassing photos.

The social media platform has grown in popularity for young users and creators who enjoy forming connections with like-minded individuals through groups and events.

Many of these users even take things offline, meeting up in person for activities like book clubs, brunch squads, and Facebook IRL events, like the recent one held in New York City, and sharing how they use Facebook for more than just social networking.

“Got to connect with so many people IRL at an incredible Facebook pop up event this past weekend!” creator @Sistersnacking said of the event. So many cool activities like airbrushing, poster making + vision boarding, a Marketplace photo studio, and more.”

Tay Nakamoto, a designer known for her whimsical, colorful creations, attended the event and brought her stunning designs to the public. On Facebook, she typically shares renter-friendly hacks, backyard DIY projects, and more with her audience of 556K. For the IRL event, she created many of the designs on display, including a photobooth area, using only finds from Facebook Marketplace.

“Decorating out of 100% Facebook Marketplace finds was a new challenge but I had so much fun and got it doneeee. This was all for the Facebook IRL event in NYC and I got to meet such amazing people!!” Nakamoto shared on her page.


Also at the event was Katie Burke, the creator of Facebook Group “Not Wasting My Twenties.” Like many other recent grads at the start of the pandemic, she found herself unemployed and feeling lost. So she started the group as a way to connect with her peers, provide support for one anopther, and document the small, everyday joys of life.

The group hosts career panels, created a sister group for book club, and has meetups in cities around the US.

Another young creator making the most of Facebook is Josh Rincon, whose mission is to teach financial literacy to help break generational poverty. He grew his audience from 0 to over 1 million followers in six months, proving a growing desire for educational content from a younger generation on the platform.

He’s passionate about making finance accessible and engaging for everyone, and uses social media to teach concepts that are entertaining yet educational.

No matter your interests, age, or location, Facebook can be a great place to find your people, share your ideas, and even make new friends IRL.

Science

Researchers dumped tons of coffee waste into a forest. This is what it looks like now.

30 dump truck loads and two years later, the forest looks totally different.

One of the biggest problems with coffee production is that it generates an incredible amount of waste. Once coffee beans are separated from cherries, about 45% of the entire biomass is discarded.

So for every pound of roasted coffee we enjoy, an equivalent amount of coffee pulp is discarded into massive landfills across the globe. That means that approximately 10 million tons of coffee pulp is discarded into the environment every year.



When disposed of improperly, the waste can cause serious damage soil and water sources.

However, a new study published in the British Ecological Society journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence has found that coffee pulp isn't just a nuisance to be discarded. It can have an incredibly positive impact on regrowing deforested areas of the planet.

via British Ecological Society

In 2018, researchers from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii spread 30 dump trucks worth of coffee pulp over a roughly 100' x 130' area of degraded land in Costa Rica. The experiment took place on a former coffee farm that underwent rapid deforestation in the 1950s.

The coffee pulp was spread three-feet thick over the entire area.

Another plot of land near the coffee pulp dump was left alone to act as a control for the experiment.

"The results were dramatic." Dr. Rebecca Cole, lead author of the study, said. "The area treated with a thick layer of coffee pulp turned into a small forest in only two years while the control plot remained dominated by non-native pasture grasses."

In just two years, the area treated with coffee pulp had an 80% canopy cover, compared to just 20% of the control area. So, the coffee-pulp-treated area grew four times more rapidly. Like a jolt of caffeine, it reinvigorated biological activity in the area.

The canopy was also four times taller than that of the control.

Before and after images of the forest

The forest experienced a radical, positive change

via British Ecological Society

The coffee-treated area also eliminated an invasive species of grass that took over the land and prevented forest succession. Its elimination allowed for other native species to take over and recolonize the area.

"This case study suggests that agricultural by-products can be used to speed up forest recovery on degraded tropical lands. In situations where processing these by-products incurs a cost to agricultural industries, using them for restoration to meet global reforestation objectives can represent a 'win-win' scenario," Dr. Cole said.

If the results are repeatable it's a win-win for coffee drinkers and the environment.

Researchers believe that coffee treatments can be a cost-effective way to reforest degraded land. They may also work to reverse the effects of climate change by supporting the growth of forests across the globe.

The 2016 Paris Agreement made reforestation an important part of the fight against climate change. The agreement incentivizes developing countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, promote forest conservation and sustainable management, and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

"We hope our study is a jumping off point for other researchers and industries to take a look at how they might make their production more efficient by creating links to the global restoration movement," Dr. Cole said.


This article originally appeared on 03.29.21

Greetings in Japanese sound quite odd when literally translated to English.

Studying a language other than your own native tongue is always a trip. Wrapping your head around completely different grammar and syntax rules, trying to create sounds your mouth isn't used to, sometimes learning entirely new alphabets (or characters when there is no alphabet)—all just to be able to communicate with more of your fellow human beings. (Seriously, when are we going to decide on an actual universal language?)

Linguistics is wild, as evidenced by Japanese teacher Hikari's video demonstrating what Japanese introductions would sound like if they were translated literally into English.


One of the first greetings you learn in Japanese is "hajimemashite," which is generally interpreted as "Nice to meet you," or "How do you do"—something you say when you meet someone. But the literal meaning of the phrase is "at the beginning" or "first time," which of course sounds odd in English. (Similarly to if you were to literally translate "How's it going?" from English to another language, the understood meaning of "How are you feeling right now?" wouldn't come through, since the words "it' and "going" have nothing to do with how you're feeling.)

Then there are name introductions, which seem like they should just be straight up names, but aren't because of what they mean. "I'm Under the Forest." "I'm Inside the Field." Huh? And wait til you see how they share their ages. Watch:

If Americans spoke like Japanese #japanese #japanesebelike #japaneselanguage #japaneseculturewww.youtube.com

To make things a little clearer, the name "Under the Forest" is almost certainly Morishita, a common last name in Japan. (Japanese people generally introduce themselves by last name.) The translation "under the forest" comes from Chinese characters used in Japanese, Kanji, that most Japanese last names are written in. Morishita is 森下 in Kanji, with 森 (mori) meaning "forest" and 下 (shita) meaning "below" or "under." "Inside the Field" would be the name Tanaka, with a similar explanation, but with different characters.

As far as ages go, that's a whole other cultural quirk. In Japan, time is separated into imperial eras based on whoever the emperor is, and each era has a name. "Shining harmony 63" means she was born in 1998, or the 63rd year of the Shōwa ("shining harmony") era. Moons are months, and days are, well, days.

Japan is the only country where Japanese is an official language, but thanks to the tech boom there in the 80s and 90s and the rise of the popularity of anime worldwide, the Japanese language has seen continually growing interest outside the archipelago nation. According to University of Pittsburgh, there are around 125 million Japanese speakers worldwide, with some concentrated pockets outside of Japan in Hawaii and Brazil.

(Side note: Having studied Japanese myself, I can attest that it's a very fun language to learn. The alphabets and Kanji are the hardest parts—the phonetics are consistent and the grammar is quite logical, with far fewer exceptions to the rules than English.)

In addition to videos like this one, Hikari offers Japanese lessons on her YouTube channel. You can follow her here.

Family

Naming twins is an art. Here are some twin names people say are the best they've ever heard.

With twins, all the regular pressures of having a baby are doubled, including choosing a name.

Are you in favor of rhyming twin names? Or is it too cutesy?

Having twins means double the fun, and double the pressure. It’s a fairly known rule to name twins in a way that honors their unique bond, but that can lead to overly cutesy pairings that feel more appropriate for nursery rhyme characters than actual people. Plus, it’s equally important for the names to acknowledge each twin’s individuality. Again, these are people—not a matching set of dolls. Finding the twin baby name balance is easier said than done, for sure.

Luckily, there are several ways to do this. Names can be linked by style, sound or meaning, according to the baby name website Nameberry. For example, two names that share a classic style would be Elizabeth and Edward, whereas Ione and Lionel share a similar rhythm. And Frederica and Milo seem to share nothing in common, but both mean “peaceful.”

Over on the /NameNerds subreddit, one person asked folks to share their favorite twin name pairings, and the answers did not disappoint.


One person wrote “Honestly, for me it’s hard to beat the Rugrats combo of Phillip and Lillian (Phil and Lil) 💕”

A few parents who gave their twin’s names that didn’t inherently rhyme until nicknames got involved:

"It's the perfect way! Christmas cards can be signed cutely with matching names, but when they act out you can still use their full name without getting tripped up.😂"

"The parents of a good friend of mine did this: her name is Allison and her sister is Callie. Their names don’t match on the surface, but they were Alli and Callie at home."

“Alice and Celia, because they’re anagrams! Sound super different but have a not-so-obvious implicit connection.”

This incited an avalanche of other anagram ideas: Aidan and Nadia, Lucas and Claus, Liam and Mila, Noel and Leon, Ira and Ria, Amy and May, Ira and Ari, Cole and Cleo…even Alice, Celia, and Lacie for triplets.

Others remembered name pairs that managed to sound lovely together without going into cutesy territory.

twin names, twins, babies, baby namesThese matching bunny ears though. Photo credit: Canva

“I know twin toddler boys named Charlie and Archie and they go so well together,” one person commented.

Another wrote, “Tamia and Aziza. I love how they follow the same sound pattern with the syllable endings (-uh, -ee, -uh) without being obnoxiously matchy matchy.”

Still another said, “Lucy and Logan, fraternal girl/boy twins. I think the names sound so nice together, and definitely have the same 'vibe' and even though they have the same first letter they aren't too matchy-matchy.”

Other honorable mentions included: Colton and Calista, Caitlin and Carson, Amaya and Ameera, Alora and Luella, River and Rosie, and Eleanor and Elias.

One person cast a vote for shared style names, saying, “If I had twins, I would honestly just pick two different names that I like separately. I tend to like classic names, so I’d probably pick Daniel and Benjamin for boys. For girls my two favorites right now are Valerie and Tessa. I think Val and Tess would be cute together!”

Overall though, it seems that most folks were fans of names that focused on shared meaning over shared sound. Even better if there’s a literary or movie reference thrown in there.

twin names, twins, babies, baby namesMany adult twins regret that their names are so closely linked together. Photo credit: Canva

“My mom works in insurance, so I asked her. She’s seen a lot of unique ones, but the only twins she remembers are Gwenivere [sic] and Lancelot... bonus points... little brother was Merlin,” one person recalled.

Another shared, “If I had twin girls, I would name them Ada and Hedy for Ada Lovelace and Hedy Lamarr, both very early computer/tech pioneers. Not that I’m that into tech, I just thought it was a brilliant combination.”

Other great ones: Susan and Sharon (think the original “Parent Trap”), Clementine and Cara (types of oranges), Esme and Etienne (French descent), Luna and Stella (moon and stars), Dawn and Eve, plus various plant pairings like Lily and Fern, Heather and Holly, and Juniper and Laurel.

Perhaps the cleverest name pairing goes to “Aubrey and Zoe,” since…wait for it… “they’re A to Z.”

It’s easy to see how naming twins really is a cool opportunity for parents to get creative and intentional with their baby naming. It might be a challenge, sure, but the potential reward is having the most iconic set of twins ever. Totally worth it!

Family

Parents with teens can't help but relate to mom's heartbreaking video about 'summer guilt'

It's a special kind of grief almost all parents experience at some point.

@cyndygdub/TikTok

Lots of parents felt this way, without having a name for it.

When you have kids, summers are a flurry of activities. Going to amusement parks and zoos, playing outside, eating ice cream—lots and lots of ice cream.

And then, the preteen years hit and all that changes. Suddenly a kid’s interest shifts. They spend less time hanging with the fam and more hanging with friends, or alone. Though this transition is natural, it can still be painful for parents and make them feel like they’re not doing enough to evoke that same kind of magic the season once held.

As Cyndy Gatewood’s three children have all entered teen and preteen chapters, she began to feel this particular kind of pain, which she called “summer guilt.”

In a now-viral TikTok, Gatewood described summer guilt as "the guilt that comes when you have teens and preteens during the summer, and you're home with them, but they're too old to go to a playground everyday … and now they just want to be in their rooms. And it's like, should I be doing something? Should I be taking them somewhere everyday? But when I ask them … they don't want to."

“I still have that constant guilt that I’m not doing enough. That their summer’s being wasted,” she says, and these feelings only get exacerbated when she sees other families with younger kids enjoying themselves on social media.

Though she knows that this shame is something she’s putting on herself, Gatewood still asked if there were other parents out there who would relate. And boy, could they.


@cyndygdub My kids are 14 and under and the transition from little kids to big kids can be hard on us parents #fyp #motherhood #teens #parenthood #summer #momguilt #preteens #kids ♬ Backsound Puisi - Audiolist Productions


“The teen transition is so hard. It’s hard to bring them joy now, used to be so easy,” one parent lamented.

Another wrote, “My heart broke when my son stopped wanting to go explore the new parks.”

A few folks chimed in to reassure that just because teens preferred to be in their room, it didn’t have to mean that summer was wasted. In fact, that solitude could also contain some pretty wonderful memories.

“I still remember so clearly being a teenager and my favorite thing in the world was being in my room on my own doing my own thing. Don’t feel guilty, it’s healthy to spend time on your own. They don’t need to be busy, to be doing something every moment of every day,” one person wrote.

Another added, “...then I remember my own teenage years, and I know how peaceful I was in my room. I had my first Walkman, listened to music, translated the lyrics, read books. It didn’t feel like a waste of summer.”

Many reflected that perhaps the root emotion Gatewood was feeling wasn’t guilt, but grief. As one person put it, “It’s more like grieving a life that you no longer have which you recall was the best time of your life. And it’s nothing you did wrong and nothing you can do to preserve it.”

By opening up about her feelings, Gatewood told Good Morning America that countless people have commented to thank her for putting this very relatable situation into tangible words.

"It makes me emotional, because it really is such a beautiful thing when we can open up about our struggles, especially as parents, and find out that we're not alone in these feelings,” she shared.

And since sharing her video, Gatewood has seemed to take on a more nuanced perspective on this new parenting chapter.

"It's a beautiful thing to watch your kids grow up. But we have to evolve with that. And that's what I'm learning right now.”

Education

'Tackle the monkey first': The simple way geniuses approach big tasks

This analogy can help you figure out where to start.

The monkey and pedestal problem

When taking on a daunting task, such as buying a house, starting a new career, or making a significant personal change, the most important thing is to establish one’s priorities to get the job done.

It makes sense to tackle the hard part first, but often, we get hung up on the smaller, easier tasks that prevent us from taking on the issue that could make or break the project. That’s when great thinkers use the “monkey and pedestal” analogy to decide where to place their time and energy.

The analogy is simple: If you’re going to create a show in which a monkey stands on a pedestal and recites Shakespeare, it’s best to first focus on teaching the monkey to memorize “Romeo and Juliet” rather than work on building the perfect pedestal.


If the monkey can’t do Shakespeare, then there’s no point in building the pedestal. "Tackle the monkey first. Don't use up all your resources on the easy stuff,” Astro Teller, captain of Alphabet X, Google’s special project division, said, according to Inc.



So, if you are looking to buy a house, it’s best first to arrange a down payment because, without that, it doesn’t matter if you’ve found the best neighborhood or have chosen a real estate agent. If you are starting a new career, ensuring you are qualified for the next step and have proper credentials and experience is more important than searching for your dream company.

In other words, don’t waste your resources on the low-hanging fruit.

“Low-hanging fruit is, by definition, pedestal building, offering the illusion of progress rather than any real ground gained toward reaching an ultimate goal,” side hustle guru Steven Imke writes on his blog. “What makes them low hanging is the fact they are easy, and you already know how to do it. Building pedestals means spending time, money, and other resources on things that don’t bring you closer to the question of whether you can achieve what you are striving for.”

On his blog, Teller explains that Alphabet spent a lot of time working on a project to turn seawater into carbon-neutral fuel. The team got to work on the monkey, determining whether they could make their fuel cost competitive. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t do it, so the project was abandoned. But, if the team had started working on distributing the fuel for the first few years and then turned its focus on how to make it cost-effective, they would have wasted tons of resources to get little in return.



The California high-speed rail project is an example of failure to focus on the monkey.

Annie Duke, author of "Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away," shared the California high-speed rail project story on The Brainy Business podcast as an example of what can happen when we pay too much attention to the pedestal and not the monkey. The project, which began in 2008, is to create a high-speed rail from San Francisco in the north of the state to San Diego in the south. The problem? They started working on track in the state's interior instead of focusing on the real problem, figuring out how to build track through two mountain ranges south of Silicon Valley and north of Los Angeles.

"Around 2015, they're like, 'Oops, wait. There are these big mountain ranges that seems like a really big problem for completing the line.' They now estimate the budget to be somewhere around $80 billion," nearly four times the original estimate, she says. In the meantime, California is still building the track in the state's interior while it figures out whether it's even possible to build through the mountain ranges. Or, in terms of this conversation, focusing on the low-hanging fruit.

The monkey and the pedestal analogy may seem like a warning against attempting anything too complicated. But at its core, it’s all about getting the hard part done first, and then once that’s achieved, all you have to worry about is the low-hanging fruit or the things you probably know how to do already. Do the hard part first, and then it’s smooth sailing until you achieve your goal.