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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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Heroes

Something We've Had Since Humans Have Been Around Might Be Lost On Your Grandchildren

As a little kid, I found it hard to care for my pet fish. I learned from this animation that world governments find it hard to care for fish. One of us needs to figure it out if we're to save our oceans.

Ileah Parker (left) and Alexis Vandecoevering (right)

True

At 16, Alexis Vandecoevering already knew she wanted to work in the fire department. Having started out as a Junior Firefighter and spending her time on calls as a volunteer with the rest of her family, she’s set herself up for a successful career as either a firefighter or EMT from a young age.

Ileah Parker also leaned into her career interests at an early age. By 16, she had completed an internship with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, learning about Information Technology, Physical Therapy, Engineering, and Human Resources in healthcare, which allowed her to explore potential future pathways. She’s also a member of Eryn PiNK, an empowerment and mentoring program for black girls and young women.

While these commitments might sound like a lot for a teenager, it all comes down to school/life balance. This wouldn’t be possible for Alexis or Ileah without attending Pearson’s Connections Academy, a tuition-free online public school available in 31 states across the U.S., that not only helps students get ready for college but dive straight into college coursework and get a head start on career training as well.

“Connections Academy allowed me extensive flexibility, encouraged growth in all aspects of my life, whether academic, interpersonal, or financial, and let me explore options for my future career, schooling, and extracurricular endeavors,” said Ileah.

A recent survey by Connections Academy of over 1,000 students in grades 8-12 and over 1,000 parents or guardians across the U.S., highlights the importance of school/life balance when it comes to leading a fulfilling and successful life. The results show that students’ perception of their school/life balance has a significant impact on their time to consider career paths, with 76% of those with excellent or good school/life balance indicating they know what career path they are most interested in pursuing versus only 62% of those who have a fair to very poor school/life balance.

Additionally, students who report having a good or excellent school/life balance are more likely than their peers to report having a grade point average in the A-range (57% vs 35% of students with fair to very poor balance).

At Connections Academy, teens get guidance navigating post-secondary pathways, putting them in the best possible position for college and their careers. Connections Academy’s College and Career Readiness offering for middle and high school students connects them with employers, internships and clubs in Healthcare, IT, and Business.


“At Connections Academy, we are big proponents of encouraging students to think outside of the curriculum” added Dr. Lorna Bryant, Senior Director of Career Solutions in Pearson’s Virtual Learning division. “While academics are still very important, bringing in more career and college exposure opportunities to students during middle and high school can absolutely contribute to a more well-rounded school/life balance and help jumpstart that career search process.”

High school students can lean into career readiness curriculum by taking courses that meet their required high school credits, while also working toward micro-credentials through Coursera, and getting college credit applicable toward 150 bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S.

Alexis Vandecoevering in her firefighter uniform

Alexis, a Class of 2024 graduate, and Ileah, set to start her senior year with Connections Academy, are on track to land careers they’re passionate about, which is a key driver behind career decisions amongst students today.

Of the students surveyed who know what career field they want to pursue, passion and genuine interest is the most commonly given reasoning for both male and female students (54% and 66%, respectively).

Parents can support their kids with proper school/life balance by sharing helpful resources relating to their career interests. According to the survey, 48% of students want their parents to help them find jobs and 43% want their parents to share resources like reading materials relating to their chosen field.

While teens today have more challenges than ever to navigate, including an ever-changing job market, maintaining school/life balance and being given opportunities to explore career paths at an early age are sure to help them succeed.

Learn more about Connections Academy’s expanded College and Career Readiness offering here.

Family

Mom explains the common Boomer parenting style that still affects many adults today

Many are relieved to finally have a term for this experience.

“What they want is dishonest harmony rather than honest conflict.”

There are certainly many things the Boomer parents generally did right when raising their kids. Teaching them the importance of manners and respect. That actions do, in fact, have consequences. That a little manners go a long way…all of these things are truly good values to instill in kids.

But—and we are speaking in broad strokes here—being able to openly discuss difficult feelings was not one of the skills passed down by this generation. And many Gen X and millennial kids can sadly attest to this.

This is why the term “dishonest harmony” is giving many folks of this age group some relief. They finally have a term to describe the lack of emotional validation they needed throughout childhood for the sake of saving face.


In a video posted to TikTok, a woman named Angela Baker begins by saying, “Fellow Gen X and millennials, let's talk about our parents and their need for dishonest harmony.”

Barker, who thankfully did not experience this phenomenon growing up, but says her husband “certainly” did, shared that when she’s tried to discuss this topic, the typical response she’d get from Boomers would be to “Stop talking about it. We don't need to hear about it. Move on. Be quiet.”

And it’s this attitude that’s at the core of dishonest harmony.

“What that’s showing is their lack of ability to handle the distress that they feel when we talk openly about uncomfortable things,” she says. “What they want is dishonest harmony rather than honest conflict.”



“Keep quiet about these hard issues. Suppress your pain, suppress your trauma. Definitely don't talk openly about it so that you can learn to heal and break the cycle,” she continues. “What matters most is that we have the appearance of harmony, even if there's nothing harmonious under the surface.”

Barker concludes by theorizing that it was this need to promote a certain facade that created most of the toxic parenting choices of that time period.

“The desire of boomer parents to have this perception that everything was sweet and hunky dory, rather than prioritizing the needs of their kids, is what drove a lot of the toxic parenting we experienced.”

Barker’s video made others feel so seen, as clearly indicated by the comments.

“How did I not hear about dishonest harmony until now? This describes my family dynamic to a T. And if you disrespect that illusion, you are automatically labeled as the problem. It’s frustrating,” one person wrote.

“THANK YOU SO MUCH! I'm a 49 yo biker sitting in my bedroom crying right now. You just put a name to my darkness!” added another

Many shared how they were refusing to repeat the cycle.

One wrote, “This is EXACTLY my family dynamic. I’m the problem because I won’t remain quiet. Not anymore. Not again.”

“I love when my kids tell me what I did wrong. It gives me a chance to acknowledge and apologize. Everyone wants to be heard,” said another.

Of course, no parenting style is perfect. And all parents are working with the current ideals of the time, their own inner programming and their inherent need to course correct child raising problems of the previous generation. Gen Alpha parents will probably cringe at certain parenting styles currently considered in vogue. It’s all part of the process.

But hopefully one thing we have learned as a collective is that true change happens when we summon the courage to have difficult conversations.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Family

Pediatric sleep expert shares 5 keys to getting a baby to sleep in less than 2 minutes

"The way that we deal with adult sleep troubles is the exact opposite of how we deal with baby sleep issues."

Chrissy Lawson shares tips for how to get a baby to sleep quickly.

If you've ever had a baby that seems allergic to sleep, you know what a sleep-deprived nightmare it can be. How can it be so hard to get a baby to sleep when they're clearly tired and sleep is a necessity? Isn't it a natural instinct to sleep when you're exhausted? Is there some trick to it that you're somehow missing?

These questions plague countless parents, but sleep therapist Chrissy Lawler says getting a baby to sleep can be done quickly and easily if you stick to a few key principles.

Lawler, a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and mother of four, shared her secrets for getting babies to sleep in 30 seconds to two minutes with Good Morning America. Her advice might help some desperate, exhausted parents find some relief.


"I am all about empowering women and parents and families to get good sleep because it benefits everybody's mental health and happiness," Lawler begins. She says "it's so easy if you get the timing right" to get a baby to drift off quickly.

Here are Lawler's tips:

1. Start putting them to sleep before they're overtired

"The way that we deal with adult sleep troubles is the exact opposite of how we deal with baby sleep issues," Lawler says. "So in the adult sleep space, the more tired you are, the better you'll sleep, and as a result, the biggest mistake that parents make in trying to get their babies to sleep well is assuming if I can get my baby good and tired, then they'll sleep better." She says it's a mistake to think that what will work for us will work for a baby. "But really, with babies, sleep begets sleep," she says. "The more they sleep, the better they sleep, the more they will sleep."

Lawler says babies offer subtle cues that they're starting to get tired, such as getting red around the eyes and eyebrows, gazing off into space, subtle yawning or very early signs of fussing. By the time they are full-on showing classic tired baby symptoms, it will be harder to get them to sleep.

2. If the baby is a newborn, wrap them in a snug swaddle

The swaddle is a classic newborn sleep tool for a reason. "A good snug swaddle is everything," Lawler says. "We want to focus on doing all of the things that can help them get calm. A good snug swaddle is the first step." She demonstrates how to do a snug swaddle in the video:

A sleep therapist shares her secrets to putting a baby to sleep in 30 seconds l GMAGood Morning America/YouTube

(Lawler also has advice on her website, The Peaceful Sleeper, about when to transition out of swaddling.)

3. Bounce and make "Shhh Shhh" sounds

Babies prefer to be on their side to go to sleep, says Lawler, and many like to have something to suck on like a pacifier. But after that, bouncing or swinging motions and making "Shhh Shhh" sounds are key. "You're not telling them to shush, you're making a loud whooshing sound like what they used to hear in the womb," she says.

4. Gently stroke their eyebrows

"One of my other favorite interventions that you can do is a very subtle eyebrow stroke to just help their eyes close naturally," Lawler says."You can do this while you're holding the passy in place and then they can just drift off to sleep."

Lawler demonstrates how she gently strokes the baby right between the eyebrows to encourage them to close their eyes and drift off, and it's as simple as it sounds.

5. Transfer them to their side before rolling them onto their back

Getting a baby to sleep in your arms is one thing, but transferring them into the crib without waking them up is another. Lawler also shares a trick for that—laying them on their side first. Babies have a startle reflex when you lay them on their back, but if you start them on their side and then gently roll them over onto their back, you can help avoid it.

"Parents, you are the expert for your baby," says Lawler, "and you can take what you love and leave the rest."

You can find more baby sleep help on Lawler's website, The Peaceful Sleeper. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Identity

Artist captures how strangers react to her body in public and it's fascinating

Haley Morris-Cafiero's photos might make you rethink how you look at people.

Credit: Haley Morris-Cafiero

Artist Haley Morris-Cafiero describes herself on her website as "part performer, part artist, part provocateur, part spectator." Her recent project, titled "Wait Watchers" has elements of all her self-descriptors.

In an email to us, Morris-Cafiero explained that she set up a camera in the street and stood in front of it, doing mundane activities like looking at a map or eating gelato. While she's standing there she sets off her camera, taking hundreds of photos.



Later, she looks through them and sees what is happening around her. Morris-Cafiero finds that people are often looking at her body, or commenting on it with their gaze or body language, at times even appearing to mock her.

"I then examine the images to see if any of the passersby had a critical or questioning element in their face or body language."

"I consider my photographs a social experiment and I reverse the gaze back on to the stranger and place the viewer in the position of being a witness to a moment in time. The project is a performative form of street photography," she writes.

Her work has been exhibited across the U.S. and abroad.

body shaming

Artist Haley Morris-Cafiero filmed people's reactions to her

Haley Morris-Cafiero

Haley Morris-Cafiero

She also published her book, The Watchers, which shows her photo collection and includes comments made to her about her body from passerby.

Haley Morris-Cafiero

You can see that even people in positions of authority, like this police officer, feel comfortable mocking her just for being out in public.

Haley Morris-Cafiero

Though she's not looking at the people around her, Morris-Cafiero's photographs capture a split second in time that really crystalizes how people relate to one another on the street and the judgment she receives from strangers.

Haley Morris-Cafiero

In galleries, with the words beside them, the photos are even more pointed. She also includes the positive words she receives from people who have experienced discrimination for their size or any other aspect to their body that is consistently bothered by the dominant culture.

Though we all theoretically know that people, women in particular, are discriminated against for their size, seeing it captured in photographs is gut-wrenching:

The project has gone viral as people identify with Morris-Cafiero's experience, which means a lot of people relate to being stared at and commented on by folks who should mind their own business. Does that include you? You can check out more of her incredible work here.


This article originally appeared on 11.28.22

A woman learning how to play guitar

Learning a new skill, such as playing an instrument, gardening or picking up a new language, takes a lot of time and practice, whether that means scale training, learning about native plants or using flashcards to memorize new words.

To improve through practice, you have to perform the task repeatedly while also receiving feedback so you know whether you’re doing it correctly or not. Is my pitch correct? Did my geraniums bloom? Is my pronunciation understandable?

However, a new study by researchers at the Institute of Neuroscience at the University of Oregon shows that you can speed up the processes by adding a third element to practice and feedback: passive exposure. The good news is that passive exposure requires minimal effort and is enjoyable.


"Active learning of a... task requires both expending effort to perform the task and having access to feedback about task performance," the study authors explained. "Passive exposure to sensory stimuli, on the other hand, is relatively effortless and does not require feedback about performance."

listening to music, learning a skill, woman in bedA woman listening to music in bedvia Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

So, if you’re learning to play the blues on guitar, listen to plenty of Howlin’ Wolf or Robert Johnson throughout the day. If you’re learning to cook, keep the Food Network on TV all day to absorb some great culinary advice. Learning to garden? Take the time to notice the flora and fauna in your neighborhood or make frequent trips to your local botanical garden.

If you’re learning a new language, watch plenty of TV and films in the tongue you are learning.

The scientists add that auditory learning is especially helpful, so listen to plenty of audiobooks or podcasts on the subject you’re learning about.

Researchers learned the tremendous benefits of passive exposure after conducting a study with a group of mice. They trained them to find water, using various sounds to give either positive or negative feedback, like playing a game of “hot or cold.” Some mice were passively exposed to these sounds when they weren't looking for water. Those who experienced this additional passive exposure and their active training learned to find the water reward faster.

gardening, learning a skill, nueroscienceA woman reading a book about house plants.via cottonbro studio/Pexels

“Our results suggest that, in mice and in humans, a given performance threshold can be achieved with relatively less effort by combining low-effort passive exposure with active training,” James Murray, a neuroscientist who led the study, told University of Oregon News. “This insight could be helpful for humans learning an instrument or a second language, though more work will be needed to better understand how this applies to more complex tasks and how to optimize training schedules that combine passive exposure with active training.”

The great news about the story is that in addition to giving people a new way to approach learning, it’s an excuse for us to enjoy the things we love even more. If you enjoy listening to blues music so much that you decided to learn for yourself, it’s another reason to make it an even more significant part of your life.

Photo from Facebook page.

A clever message written on her T-shirt.

A Lawton, Oklahoma, student who goes by the Facebook user name Rose Lynn had the last laugh after being sent home from school for wearing an outfit deemed "distracting." Rose Lynn believes her outfit attracted the attention of school officials because of her figure.

She proved it by posting a photo on Facebook of her modest outfit, which consisted of black leggings, a t-shirt, long cardigan, and boots. In her post, she wrote that she was sent home "because I'm developed farther than the average girl my age," and because she's a "CURVY woman." Rose Lynn also thinks the appropriate response shouldn't have been to tell her to cover up, but to teach boys to "to respect the boundaries of young ladies."


Her father, Lance Miles, agrees with her. "If she was built like a board or as round as a ball she wouldn't have been sent home but [since] she has a figure she was told she had to change," he said in the comments of her Facebook post.

"This is 100 percent on [Lawton Public Schools] because they have left the rule up to interpretation. She has been taught that if you believe in something, do what you must and be prepared for the consequences. She has done that," he continued.

Rose Lynn's post:

"So today I was sent home from class, after being in school for two hours, for my outfit. Because I'm developed farther than the average girl my age, I am required to go home and change... Because I look like a CURVY woman and may distract young boys, I have to miss class and change my outfit.

So once again, society has failed to advocate young ladies, by confining them in a box, where they are stripped from their sense of self respect and self expression, rather than teaching young men to respect the boundaries of young ladies. My response: #Feminism #YoullDistractTheBoys #SocietyIsFailing"
school policy, sexism, women, Oklahoma

The before and after images for following a dress code.

Photo from Facebook page.


On the day Rose Lynn was sent home, she was due to take a 20-minute algebra exam. She asked school officials if she could take the test before changing her outfit, but her request was denied. So the next day, she got her revenge.

Rose Lynn returned to school wearing an oversize t-shirt. On the front she scribbled a quote from school officials in black Sharpie, "It doesn't cover your crotch"; on the back, "You'll distract the boys." That day, Rose Lynn was called to the office and sent home again. This time it wasn't for her outfit but for not wearing her student I.D., which she had left in the classroom after being called to the office.


This article originally appeared on 05.17.19