Setting Systems and SMART Goals to Help 2021 Start on the Right Foot

A #Reclaiming2020 Thread

For so many of us, the end of 2020 can’t come soon enough. The allure of a new year and the proverbial blank slate is something that has incredible psychological power.

Well now we’ve got 30 days left and, though the last few months have given me hope for a brighter future, my own personal future is still a bit of a hot mess.

While the allure of January 1st as a clean start is tempting, I know from personal experience that starting a brand new routine or adopting new habits is a process of trial, error, success and failure, highs, and lows. Starting on a new blank routine from day zero anticipating perfection and success is a recipe for disappointment. Logically, you wouldn’t sign up to run a 10k on January 1st without participating in some kind of training regimen beforehand. So why do we consistently operate on the idea that we can successfully launch ourselves into a brand new routine or lifestyle with zero preperation?

There are 30 days left in 2020, and I intend to use them as my ‘training period’ for 2021. Trying new routines, new habits, training for a fresh start at the beginning of the new year.

So, with 2020 coming to a close, I’m setting SMART goals to try new habits and routines leading into the New Year.

What are SMART Goals?

SMART Goals are something I first learned about in business school, but have recently been used by self improvement and study guru’s to help people create more effective and targeted methods of reaching their goals.

Full Function Rehab | SMART Goal Setting Vaughan
For more on how to create SMART Goals, click HERE

The underlying idea of SMART goals is to find a way to make us accountable. ‘I want to find a job’ or ‘I want to write a book’ or even ‘I want to get an A in Genetics’ are all wonderful goals, but because they are so vague they can often be difficult to track, and therefore difficult to stick with. You can find more on how to create effective SMART goals HERE, but the general idea is in the name; make your coals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.

Kaizen – The Art of Continuous Improvement

Something else that I have found makes a vast difference for me ties in with the Japanese Concept of Kaizen – or the art of continuous improvement.

Kaizen de-emphasizes perfection, which can be a leading cause of stress and a major contributing factor to giving up or abandoning our goals altogether, and instead focuses on improvement. The idea is not necessarily to get it right the first time around, but instead to do just a little bit better than last time.

In that thread, I focus less on my relation to an ultimate and ever-changing goal, and more on my engagement and performance in the day to day process of it all.

Otherwise called a ‘System’.

Atomic Habits – Systems not Goals

If you have not yet heard of Atomic Habits by James Clear, I really must ask what rock you have been living under. Even if you do not have the time to read the book in full, there are plenty of taking aways and summaries that can be of tremendous insight. But for our purposes, we are going to be focusing on the delineation between goals and systems.

If your goal is to be able to deadlift 200 lbs by the summer, and you spend every day pushing yourself closer to that goal, you may ignore warning signs from your body in favor of adding on just a few more pounds. But if you end up injuring yourself in the process, you could be setting your goal back by months if not years. By shifting focus from your proximity with the end goal to continual growth and consistently showing up, this changes the pressure we put on ourselves and makes our goals, ultimately, more achievable.

My 30 Day End of 2020 Goals

My general goals for 2020 focus more on routine and continuous improvement. They also happen to fall into the four general categories of self-improvement that most of our New Years goals tend to fall into, but perhaps that will make them easier to relate to or use to draw on for examples when making your own goals.

My 2020 – 2021 Goals

My general goals are blocked under four categories but are free to change from day to day. The ultimate takeaway is my ‘participation’ in that given area.

Physical Goals

I want to be more physically active and just generally take better care of myself. Sitting in front of a desk for hours on end is not generally a good thing for either my spine or general level of fitness. It would also be good if I ate less like a gremlin and more like a hippie, but I’ll settle for somewhere in the middle.

Intellectual Goals

I want to learn something new every day. And yes, I’m in grad school, so learning is kind of par for the course. But diving through pages of notes often feels less connected to learning than mastering a singular concept. So even if I’ve been studying ‘phenotypic heritability’ for hours, I’ll only be counting it if I have an ‘Ah-ha!’ or ‘Eureka!’ type moment while doing so, or if I have that moment in a completely different subject.

Creative Goals

The same general principle holds true for creative enterprises. As a children’s author, I spend a lot of time thinking about stories, characters, impact, engaging readers… but that doesn’t result in a finished product. So much my collecting of ‘Ah-ha’ moments above, I want to be able to wield tangible results in my hands for it to be able to count. Whether that is words written, pages drafted, characters sketched, or even scarves knitted… I will be focusing on things that yield tangible results in real time.


Being in Sweden, so far from most of my family, in the middle of lockdown, the short days and long nights are easy to let get to you. It is so much simpler to turn to merge dragons than it is to turn on mentally. But that is neither healthy nor sustainable. I want to do things that feed my soul. I want to reconnect with friends and family (even if it is digitally). I want to consume media that helps me grow. and I want to take the time to check in with myself on a regular basis, rather than just keep on pushing forward.

Trackable SMART Goals Example

The four categories above, while representative of most of what I want to do, are hardly specific. So for a better idea of what those goals will look like in the real world, here are a few of the micro goals I will be setting myself.

Drink Water

And oldy but a goody, and yet I still never do it. I will be attempting to drink 2 liters of water, each and every day, of 2020 and beyond.

Read in Swedish

This is really a 2 for 1 so I should want to do it even more but, again, it often gets pushed to the wayside. I’ve picked up two children’s chapter books in Swedish from the second hand shop and intend to read 5 pages (one sided) before bed at least 4 times a week (70%).

Stay off Social Media

I feel bad leaving this for last as this goal will actually affect those reading my articles here at TNN. I walk more about the why’s behind this on my YouTube channel HERE, but suffice to say I have a busy month coming my way in December. And, as such, for the rest of 2020… this will be the last you see of me. I will be staying off Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and, yes, even for the remainder of this year.

At the end of my free trial run for 2021 (also known as December 2020) I will create SMARTER Goals moving forward. SmartER because I will Evaluate (E) and Review (R) the steps I have taken, the systems I have tried, and see what really works for me and what doesn’t and adjust. Hopefully, I’ll be back and writing away with a clearer head and more time to focus on what is important, but I am trying not to enter into this trial run with any preconceptions. This is an experiment after all, and as any student at the school of Bill Nye will tell you, bias = bad science.

So, until next time, here’s hoping to a better and brighter future in 2021.

Check out this and more original content available every week at by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Healthy Study Habits for Students

A #Reclaiming2020 Thread

School can be a lot for students under the best of circumstances, and this is equally as true for grad students as it is for kindergartners

Burnout, Screen Fatigue, and Other Anxieties

Mental health, establishing healthy study habits, and knowing how to find an appropriate balance is something we put a lot of focus on her at TNN.

Our students, especially in the US educational system, can oftentimes be put under extreme amounts of stress, and are very rarely given the tools to know how to deal with it. Even more so now during the age of COVID as classrooms shift into bedrooms and the lines between ‘study’ and ‘sleep’ become blurry at best.

Identifying the early stages of burnout (difficulty concentrating, poor sleep quality, irritability, eye strain, and more) is crucial to help curb it’s effects.

Knowing When to Walk Away

Burnout is something that is more often associated with high paying executive positions or even online content creators. But it is a common experience in all walks of life. Any time you expend more effort than you receive value from, you a prone to burnout. That could mean working at something for an hour and not making as much progress as you would have liked, or it could mean studying for months without feeling like there is no return.

To recognize if you are approaching or at risk of burnout, here are a few resources that can help.

The Tell-Tale Signs of Burnout from Psychology Today

Burnout Self Test from Mind Tools

Burnout Prevention and Treatment from Help Guide

Productive Procrastination

Procrastinating one activity by performing another is a trick as old as time. It’s why students who have a dreaded assignment suddenly find themselves with one thousand and one other little mindless things to do.

And while procrastinating something at all costs can easily develop into self-sabotage, there is a way to use that procrastination instinct for good.

If you are staring blankly at your screen, don’t know where to start, or just otherwise fighting tooth and nail to focused … stop fighting. Frustration and anxiety make focusing on a new subject even harder and that natural resistance you feel towards getting into a project can sometimes (not always) be your bodies way of telling you that you need a break.

So instead put on a ten-minute video, podcast, or music playlist, and use find a healthy use for that procrastination energy. Like;

By giving yourself an intentional ‘break’ that is still productive, you can start to create healthy habits around work-life balance and recognizing when you need to step away.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

As we mentioned before, with so many students performing some or all of their academic duties from home, the lines between ‘school’ and ‘no school’ can get kind of blurry. As anyone who has ever tried to work from home before can confirm, that is a sure fire recipe for burnout.

Creating physical or mental space where you can flick on and off in work/study mode is key to setting healthy boundaries, achieving a balanced lifestyle, and long term success. We all know the age old adage of the unhappy employee or executive who keeps bringing their work home with them. But what happens when the work starts at home with you as well?

There are a few ways to help deal with this but none quite so effective as creating a physically separate space for study time. Setting your desk against a wall or window so that you are less distracted by other stuff in your room, working in a separate office space, or working at the dining room table, assuming you have a supportive household, are all valid options.

It can also help to set time restrictions. Parents can enforce this by breaking up study time with schedule meal times, but also by putting a time limit on school stuff. If school work HAS to be done by 8pm, then it leaves students time to unwind and helps create that space. It also helps to include regularly scheduled breaks throughout the day. I find that I can rarely focus for more than 3 hours at a time, so I plan walks, kickboxing, or meal prep time around those gaps accordingly.

Limit Screen Time

By now we all know how bad starring into our screens for hours on end can be bad not just for your eyesight, but also for your circadian rhythm, your general physical well being, and even our mental health. This is even more true for younger kids whose brains are still developing.

In a classroom setting, teachers of younger students will routinely break up longer periods of sitting with short periods of movement. This same concept can be easily applied to screen time as well, serving a dual function here as screen time is typically relatively stationary.

Schedule regular intermissions to get up, walk away from the screen, maybe get a snack or go to the bathroom or even take a little walk (this is easier to enforce if you have pets). Do anything and everything that is not related to a screen (computer, cell phone, TV) for at least ten minutes in order to allow your eyes to rest and give you a break.

Print notes or use physical study guides when possible. Take notes on paper instead of in a tablet. Zoom your classes by connecting the computer to a TV screen or larger monitor but further away. And, whenever possible, choose options that are physical rather than digital. We will never be able to completely walk away from our screens, they are too valuable a resource. So limiting their influence where we can is a big help.

There is still a lot of the school year left, and much of the world is still in a constant state of change. As we adapt to different circumstances and try to build good habits, it is important to be kind to ourselves, listen to our bodies, and take steps to protect our mental and emotional health, particularly as students. Building good study habits and setting healthy boundaries is just a small part of that, but it is a part that we can all work on a little bit every day.

Check out this and more original content available every week at by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

Reclaiming 2020

2020 has been an absolute nightmare of a year.

Between the pandemic, massive loss of life, natural disasters, widespread social unrest, police brutality, political corruption, economic distress, massive civil injustices, and the so easily overlooked Murder Hornets… saying it’s been a rough year is a bit of an understatement.

I know it can seem like a lifetime ago, but it really was only 9 months ago when we were making resolutions for a new year and a new decade with bright shiny eyes and so much hope. The dreams and aspirations we had at the dawning of this new decade, the visions of cultural and social revolution, backed by the gay prosperity of the roaring ’20’s celebrations soon twisted in a way we could not possibly have predicted.

2020 meant a lot of things to a lot of people.

But here we are. Nearing the end of our first year in this new decade. A year that held the ambitions of future generations and the hopes of so many. Whatever 2020 meant you all those long months ago may seem a lifetime away… but it doesn’t have to.

I for one am not ready to let this year become a stain in history and I am tired of letting this year take things, people, and opportunities from us.

I’m taking back my year, my decade, and my future.

I’m Reclaiming 2020.

Fall is a magical time of year. There is a reason why cultures all over the world recognize this transition as days become shorter, the leaves change color, and the very air around us shifts.

For thousands of years fall holidays celebrated around the world have long marked fall as a time of power, change, and even fortune-telling (discussed more here). It’s a concept I believe still has a place today. Setting Fall Intentions is a powerful act of self-care that can re-ground you, reprioritize, rejuvenate, and remind us of what is most important even under normal circumstances. And this year has been anything but normal.

If you are feeling run down, frustrated, and just overall sick of the events of the last 9 months, let’s take a breath, take a moment, and take our 2020 back.

There are 3 months of this year left to try and make up for the last 9 … and I intend to use every minute of it.

How to Take Back 2020


I know you will probably be sick of hearing this by now, but you will hear it again. Voting is the ONE chance we have as US citizens to make our voices heard. So many do not have this opportunity, either as a matter of citizenship, because their rights to vote have been taken from them, or for a variety of other reasons. Choosing to be silent when so many are voiceless is the ultimate act os disrespect to them, to the electorate, and to yourself.

Make sure you are registered to vote by clicking HERE. Confirm your address, know your polling location, and how to get there. Read up on the issues, know what you are going to be voting for, and know where you stand. If you are able, consider volunteering at the polls, or organizing ride shares to polling locations. Whatever you are able to do, in your area, SAFELY, do it. We can scream and shout into the void the whole rest of the year, but if we do not cast our ballots the one time when those in power are actively listening, it will all be for nothing.

Revisit your Resolutions

The dreams and goals you had for yourself in January may seem a million lifetimes ago, but they were once important to you. Are they still? Those things mattered once, and if they still do, then keep them.

We’ll go after them together.

If, however, those goals are not as important to you anymore, then what is? This year has forced a lot of us to put things into perspective. Jobs that once defined us have all but disappeared. Goals that were once the center of our world, no longer seem quite so important. Things that we never gave much thought to, are now the most important things in our world.

Whatever matters to you, write it down. Be specific and give your words power by putting them to paper. As a writer, I firmly believe that bringing words into this world will never NOT be an act of power, but that is a discussion for another day.

For now it is enough to have this piece of paper, written in your own hand, to remind you of what is important and of the promises you made to yourself.

Heal Yourself

It’s been a long road these last 9 months. Some have suffered worse than others, and some are no longer with us at all. But if you are still here with us please do not minimize whatever you have had to deal with this year by saying ‘well, it could have been worse.’ It can almost always have been worse, but that does not make your personal hardships disappear. Taking the time to yourself to recover and get yourself in a better place is not selfish, even if you are doing just ‘fine’. It is vital if you expect to be able to keep going and necessary to help sustain yourself.

The essential tenants of self-care are worthy of an entire thesis dissertation- see Maslow’s Hierarchy if you don’t believe me. But for now, the basics;

Heal your Body; take a walk, get your heart rate up, eat something healthy and delicious, drink two tall glasses of water, get 8 hours of sleep.

Heal your Mind; put your screens away. Play chess, read something, a new find, or an old favorite, it doesn’t matter. Think about things in a way you’ve never considered before.

Heal your Environment; clean off your desk, take the trash out, put your laundry in the basket, do the dishes, make your home a place of sanctuary.

Heal your Spirit; listen to music, enjoy art, maybe even doodle or play a little yourself. Smile. Spend time by yourself for a spell and just be.

Heal your Relationships; talk to that friend that you’ve lost contact with. Admit when someone did something that hurt you. Tell someone how grateful you are to have them in your life.

Taking care of ourselves is a full time job, and it is one that we are most likely to push aside in favor of getting things done. But you can only keep going so long as you have something to give.

Get Involved

Again, this is one that you’ve likely heard before. And it is likely one that you will hear again, and that is because it is important.

So many things happen in this world without our permission, but that does not mean they happen without our influence. You have the power to make a difference, right now, in some small way, in the world around you.

Get involved. In your community. In your goals. In your passions. Find a way to volunteer, safely, with an organization that you care about. Offer to help out at an animal shelter, or help organize relief for at-risk students. Have a skill? USE IT. Do a zoom story time, create flyers, raise awareness, or contribute in any other way you can to some of the incredible efforts that are being made to make this world a better place.

Reach for your Goals

You remember that list? The one from step 2 about your goals and resolutions? I told you we’d come back to that.

I want you to look at that. Right now. I want you to look at that list of generalized goals and for each one, make specific, itemized steps of what you need to do in order to take you from where you are now to where you want to be. You don’t need to have the whole road map laid out in front of you, but you should know your first step.

Do you want to leave your 9-5 and work for yourself? Look through your Facebook feed and reach out to potential clients (offer to work for free or reduced rates while you are setting up in exchange for reviews). Do you want to help others make a lasting change? Reach out, connect with others, find organizations in your area that need support. Do you want to live a happier/healthier life? Find accessible mental health support or a fitness routine or food goals that work for you.

Create identifiable, easy to follow steps, one after another, that will get you from where you are now to where you want to be. Then… take a step. It doesn’t matter if it is three steps forward and two steps back, as long as you Just. Keep. Moving.

2020 was meant to be the dawn of a new age. Unfortunately, there is no return policy on defective years, but there is always a new beginning.

We have 3 months left.

Make. Them. Count.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Please feel free to reach out through email, Facebook, or Instagram. Tell me your goals, tell me what you are working towards and we can keep each other moving.

We can’t undo the last 9 months, but we can make the next 3 matter.

Distance Learning leaves vulnerable students behind…

Advanced students whose learning has now slowed down to accommodate transitioning to the new format.

Students learning practical skill sets – sciences, engineering, food safety.

Children in lower-income brackets with a limited internet connection or only one available computer for a multiple children household.

Children who are reliant on state funding to provide hot lunch, often the only full meal these children receive.

Children with learning difficulties incompatible with computer learning – vision impairments, dyslexia, ADHD, etc.

Special needs students who rely on school for structure, socialization, physical therapy, wellness checks, life skills, and so much more.

I am just a nanny. I have no solutions for these students or their families. But the problems that they will face in the coming months and even years are something that we cannot simply overlook.

For years we have relied upon the educational system as a crutch, providing key social service simply because we refuse to grant them the funding needed to operate any other way. Now with those avenues closed, the lack of social support and infrastructure will be laid bare, and it is our children who will pay the price for our greed.

If you have any information regarding potential resources, support groups, or auxiliary organizations who may be able to provide assistance to any of the individuals mentioned above or others who may be similarly affected, please please PLEASE comment them below either here on The Nerdy Nanny or on our Facebook page. I will be verifying and forwarding any and all valid information for resources or support groups that we receive.

Our kids deserve that much at least.

Check out this and more original content available every week at by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

My Perfect Planner – The Lazy BuJo

Do you resentfully like photos of perfectly designed and colorful Bullet Journals on Instagram? Are you desperately trying to get organized or keep on track with your plans and goals but every single system seems to inevitably fail? Did you read the title and laugh? Good Enough. Meet your new Planner.

Hi! Just in case you’re new here, I’m the crazy person who decided to launch her own independent publishing company, apply to grad school, create 10 kids books in two years, get into grad school, and then move halfway across the planet in the middle of a pandemic. There – now we’re all caught up.

And as crazy and insane as my life may sound, finding a scheduling system that works for me has always been a problem as over-complicated minute by minute planning a) never works and b) never works. While Bullet Journaling is an artistic and utterly customizable trend that would seem to solve this problem, I was less inclined to sit down for 20 minutes at the start of each month and draw out a million little perfectly illustrated boxes in different color-coded systems.

So with store-bought planners frustrating me, Grad School creeping up around the corner and neither the time nor inclination to hand draw a Bullet Journal, I found I had to create my own.

The end result was The Lazy Bujo.

Why this Planner is Different

It Never Expires

As in, there are no dates marked anywhere in this journal. This was such a small thing but I found it severly limited the usefullness of store bought planners for me.

As COVID has undoubtedly proven over the last few months, sometimes things don’t go to plan. I always wondered why academic planners bothered to include June and July, but likewise found that, for whatever reason, I would have random months or partial months that I just… didn’t use.

In a normal planner, it’s use it or loose it. With the lazy Bujo, it’s more use it … or don’t, it’ll still be here when you need it.

Monthly / Weekly / Daily

Each section starts with a monthly spread, again unmarked and undated so these planners never expire.

The weekly break down is a little different because a) the week is split into two parts and b) there is no Sunday. By splitting up the week into two parts I found there was enough room in each grid for daily planning without needing to carry a 365-page book around (yes, that’s how many days are in a year).

Another thing I hate about weekly planners is when they scrunch the weekends into smaller squares so they all fit on one page. I have PLANs for the weekend and kind of need that space. Also, some store-bought planners start their weeks on Sunday, and some start on Monday. My weeks, frequently, will switch between both. So with the Lazy Bujo, I left unmarked slots available on either page letting you move Sunday as you will and leaving an extra slot of weekly wrap-ups or planning ahead.

It’s Customizable

The grid system that makes BuJo’s so endlessly adaptable is part of what I used to create my planner. No, there are no dots, so it isn’t really a ‘Bullet’ Journal. But the boxes that you would normally draw in are marked out in an array that I find works for a variety of needs. And, again, these boxes are unlabeled other than weekly headers.

No predetermined uses for the boxed mean that I can use them however best work for me. And whatever works for me might be different on a Monday than on a Sunday. While time blocking may be useful on days when I have school, priority lists or categories may be better on weekends.

Other Features I like

I shoved in extra planning pages around the monthly calendars as a space for a brain dump, recap, planning ahead, or, quite honestly, a messy combination of the three that somehow always seems to involve also drawing a dragon somewhere.

Because the journal is black and white I’m still able to draw in some color doodle when my brain gets bored (again, lots of dragons) but I’m not required to put in any artistic time or effort before I can even start using it. I also find it’s easier for me to color code my notes or use highlighters in a blank planner as my needs change rather than being locked into a system.

The Lazy Bujo covers six months, which is further than I am willing to plan in any single instance but also means I don’t have reorder more than once a year. It also means I get a fresh start about halfway through the year, which is normally when my planners start to look a little rough around the edges.

Well, there you have it.

I made an ideal planner for me as I started into grad school and, after some gentle nudging, I’ve made it available for you too.

If you’re interested, I’m going to be doing a short video on different organization methods I’ve found over the years that may help you getting started on the right foot or getting back on track. Whether it’s with school, work, personal projects, my writing, or just remembering what day of the week it is, life is about balance. And, hopefully, this will help with that.

Check out this and more original content available every week at by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

How to Support Black Lives Matter – Highlighting Voices of Color

At this moment, African Americans and allies across the country and even across the globe are raising their voices in protest of the treatment of people of color by police.

A few weeks back I covered a number of different ways that you can help support the Black Lives Matter movement right now (f you would like to check out that video in full you can do so here). One thing I touched on but did not have much time for was to make a conscientious effort to diversify your feeds.

Race and The Algorithm

From YouTube to Facebook, Instagram to Twitter, Snapchat to whatever other social media feed is streaming across your cell phone. Social media platforms use demographic information along with your search and reaction history to dictate what content you see, what future content you are recommended, and even to prioritize the content you are looking at right now. They use a series of complex algorithms to make these decisions based on a number of different factors. Everyone and their mothers swear they know the secret to crack the YouTube algorithm, but the real systems are more tightly guarded than the key to the Matrix.

However, one of the known demographic factors that is used to indicate content choice is race or ethnic/national origin.

YouTube knows that if you click on Black beauty tubers that it should, by consequence, recommend other black beauty tubers. And on the surface this makes sense. If you are searching through makeup tutorials you are most likely going to be looking at content creators with a similar skin tone to yours, which makes sense when looking for foundation matches.

It does not make sense, however, when you are looking for tech reviews, or haul videos, or decluttering ASMR.

And yet those same videos are also predicted and recommended using the same algorithm. Which means that if you are continuously clicking on white and European content creators, you will be consistently recommended white and European content creators.

Systemic Adversity

I can already tell that there will be those people who resent this idea outright. The idea of searching for content creators based on race or background or religion as though that somehow will bring harm to the other creators out there who do not fall into this category.

And, to be honest, I was one of them.

I resented the idea of searching for film makers of color or looking specifically for authors of a certain descent because I had the notion that, if there work was good enough, I would have seen it already.

Ah, privilege at it’s finest.

In a perfect world, my previous assessment would be absolutely correct, but as many of us know, even if it took me a while to realize, we do not live in a perfect world. There are inherent systematic trends that work to the advantage of some groups and the disadvantage of others.

When you focus on supporting one group over another, it is or should be, in direct response to systemic or global trends that actively hurt the suggested group. For example, left-handed versus right-handed.

Let’s say every year your school does a big fundraiser for school supplies, but this year they also want to do another fundraiser for school supplies for left-handed students. Some parents and faculty will undoubtedly be upset because they feel this new fundraiser may divert attention away from their event. But their event does not bring in hardly any supplies for left-handed students, things like desks, scissors, pencil sharpeners. These are things which yes, these students could do without or struggle to use their right-handed equipment, but they make life just a little bit harder for these students than they need to be.

The system, in this case the school district fundraisers and purchasing, helps these two groups of students unequally. And even if the left handed students are a smaller group, they are still deserving of the same level of treatment.

Whenever the system is set up at the disadvantage of a particular group, it is up to everyone to help remove those barriers in the first place and, if that isn’t possible, work to help those who need it the most.

Why Diversify Your Feed?

The best way to understand how the algorithm works at limiting your exposure to new channels using race and national identity is to start watching new groups.

Say for example – British content creators. You don’t need to subscribe or hit the like button, just watch 2-3 videos all the way through and your recommended videos will immediately change to include more British accents. The more videos you watch the more your recommendations will change. This does not mean that the content you are now being recommended is any less than or inferior to the content that you were recommended before. It just means that you have informed the YouTube algorithm that you are open to and interested in a new type of content or a similar subject presented by a new demographic.

This same information is fed into the algorithm when it comes to race. When you first open up YouTube or any social media stream for the first time without putting in any preferences or recommendations, you will see a whole slew of different types of content. From musicians and artists to car and tech reviews, food and lifestyle content, comedians and documentaries.

Without your input, these platforms are a blank canvas. But as all of us have a history when it comes to one social media platform or another, and as these platforms speak with each other on increasingly deeper levels, it becomes harder to overcome inherent bias and systemic disadvantages.

How to Diversify Your Feeds

Take a look at the subjects that your social media platform already believes you to be interested in. If we are sticking with the YouTube example, this is a running bar along the top of your YouTube home page.

Mine, for example, reads; cooking, lo-fi music, beauty, ambient music, taste, new age music (okay, so I have a type) and reading. These are the things that, based on my views likes and watching habits, YouTube has decided that I am most interested in.

Within each category, or even just overall, take a look at the types of recommendations you are getting. If you are into cooking, for example, but your feed is predominantly white, take a look at BIPOC, Latinx or asian cooking channels or content. If you are into tech reviews but, again, every face is a little pale, do the same thing (but also make sure to check out Marques Brownlee, he’s awesome). Take a look as some of the videos you see and, if you like them, give them a thumbs up.

This new data will have an immediate impact on what kind of content you are recommended and will, by default, open your recommendations up to new possibilities. The same process works for Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to some degree.

Supporting creators of color isn’t just about reducing inherent roadblocks to success and systemic bias for creators, it’s also about opening yourself up to more diverse and incredible content.

It’s a big world out there, but you’ll only ever see so much of it if you are looking through a shuttered window.

For more on this, you can take a look at some helpful tips I’ve put together for on YouTube HERE and HERE. You can also show your support by shopping at BIPOC owned businesses or services. There are additional resources linked below the videos and, as always-

Do Good.

Check out this and more original content available every week at by subscribing to us on Facebook or Instagram.

You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.

How to Talk to Your Kids about George Floyd

I had planned to write about summer reading recommendations this week, but some things take priority.

Right now there are a lot of scary and very intense things happening in the news all across the country and they are not likely to go anywhere anytime soon. As with most things, our kids pick up on more of what is going on around them than we may realize, and keeping an open and realistic dialogue with them is one of the best things we can really do to make a lasting impact on how they interpret and internalize what is happening in the world around them.

The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police officer in full view of a crowd, on video from multiple angles, and carried out in clear disregard from protests by EMT’s and medical professionals, has re-ignited a spark that smolders at the heart of the American consciousness. That spark has, quite literally, turned into a blaze that is burning its way across the country. The initial protests were met with tear gas and rubber bullets and quickly devolved into riots and looting in some areas. As store owners board up their places of business and protests continue, it is important to take a moment and consider how these events are meant to be interpreted by the most impressionable around us – our kids.

How much do our kids already know?

Kids see more than you think. I don’t mean that your toddler is secretly watching the news while you are not looking. But they are catching glimpses, some longer and more revealing than others, of a situation that is big and scary and difficult for even some adults to understand.

If you have a teenager who is on social media they probably know more about what is happening than you do right now. If you have a preteen with a Tik Tok, they have seen cuts of the footage, the protests, and probably even a few people “recreating the scene” for laughs (yes, the internet can be a disgusting place). If you have a younger child who plays computer games, they will still probably get banner ads for news networks containing images of cities on fire and protests if not the murder itself. If it is out there, it is online and it is everywhere. They will see it – the only questions are how much will they actually see and whether you will be the one to provide the context for them or if they will get that from the internet as well.

Obviously age will have an impact on how much you child will have access to, how much they actually see, and how you should talk to them about it. But please, do not make the mistake of assuming they have not seen anything about it because, if they are online at all, they probably have.

How to start talking to your kids about George Floyd

Broaching the subject can be tricky, especially if you are not used to practicing open communication about difficult topics. As much as I feel this should go without saying, as you go into this conversation, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU LET YOUR KIDS WATCH THE VIDEO. Again, I feel like this should go without question, but I also know individuals who struggle with expressing difficult concepts. For these parents, it can be so much easier to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’, a simpler way to explain what started this all.

As an adult, I watched the events George Floyds’ death unfold and I struggled. That kind of content is far too extreme for kids and I would even advise against teens seeing it. Though if older teens are determined to see the footage for themselves they will find a way (ie – the internet), so it may be valid to be there with them when that happens. Otherwise, just click away.

Unpopular Opinion – Conversations on Race will Differ with Race

This conversation will look very different for families with children of color when compared to this same conversation in predominantly white families. And it should.

The disparities that we see in police-involved shootings, incarceration rates, and criminal profiling are something that many people of color will have to deal with, first hand, during their lifetimes. It is horrible and distressing but that does not make it any less true. Conversations about how to stay safe, how to behave around police, legal rights and other concerns that most Caucasian families would never even consider worrying about are happening in households all across America right this very minute. As they will tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. The hope is that one day those conversations won’t be necessary. But today is not that day.

The other side of the conversation is something that, for older kids at least, may sound familiar. In middle school, we learned about first-hand experiences during the Holocaust as a way of understanding human rights issues that underpinned the policies and politics of WWII. Only now those stories of violence and fear are taking place right in our own backyards, to people we may know and care about. Opening up that possibility also opens kids up to the potential for empathy and deeper understanding.

Teaching Kids to Hold Authorities Accountable

We want to teach our kids to trust authorities because we want them to listen to their teachers, their coaches, and to us. Now we need to teach them to hold those authorities accountable. We need to teach them to trust their instincts and stand up for themselves and others in the safest way possible when they feel something isn’t right. The good news is that many teens and young adults today are already doing just that.

Between growing up in the fictional worlds of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and Hunger Games and the real-life events of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Black Lives Matter, Global Climate Change – today’s teens and young adults are already starting to take things into their own hands. They are protesting against their school for siding with teachers who are abusing students (Seatle, 2020). They are speaking out when fellow students are being discriminated against (Texas, 2019). They are protesting for gun control (Parkland, 2018) and environmental policy reform (Internationally, 2019). And they are standing witness to police brutality to hold those responsible accountable for their actions (George Floyd’s murder was filmed by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier).

Talking to Your Kids about Difficult Subjects – Actionable Advice

  1. Start by Asking Questions and see what your kids already know, it might surprise you.
  2. Open up a dialogue starting from what they already may have worked out on their own and see how they feel about it.
  3. Do not pass judgment on your kids’ knowledge, impressions, or interpretations right now. Without context, there is no right or wrong.
  4. Work on your kids’ age level – do not introduce new information that might be beyond their ability to process intellectually or emotionally. Instead, work with what they already do know.
  5. Let your child choose the direction the conversation takes. If your child has questions or concerns you can gently encourage them to voice them by with open-ended answers or leaving gaps.
  6. Let your child decide how much they feel comfortable with knowing. You are trying to provide context for anything they may have picked up already, not tell them what they are supposed to think. If they want to change the subject, let them. The more comfortable they feel with talking to you about difficult subjects, the more willing they will be to bring you questions in the future.
  7. Diffuse the ‘us against them’ thinking by acknowledging all parties as people with thoughts and fears. Don’t be afraid to admit when ‘your side’ makes mistakes.
  8. Have ice-cream. Or cake. Make cookies. Do each other’s nails. Build something. Spend time together. This should not be a lecture or a lesson, but a conversation. The more often you do things like this, the more comfortable and natural it will be moving forward.

This is going to be a difficult conversation to have. Have it anyway.

Balancing Mental Health, Productivity, and Self Care

Over the past several weeks, learning to balance productivity and keeping busy against mental health and practicing self-care has been more vital than ever.  While productivity and staying busy are sometimes a necessary part of this, it is also important to recognize that there will be times when we just need the time and space to not be okay. 

This is where an important distinction is needed.  You do not need to be in ‘extreme circumstances’ to be struggling.  Acknowledging that others may have a harder time than you does not mean that you cannot acknowledge your own difficulties.  You do not need to be in the worst possible situation for your feelings to be valid.  You just need to feel pushed beyond the boundaries of what you are capable of handling.

Mental Health

There is a common analogy given in stress management. I will link a version of down below but the essence of which is this; 

An individual is given a glass of water and asked how heavy it is.  Eight ounces, twelve, the real answer does not really matter.  The glass is light enough for you to carry with ease for a short while but, after an hour, the strain begins to build.  After a few hours, your arm will begin to hurt.  After a day your arm will feel numb and paralyzed and unable to help you do the things you need to in order to get through the day. 

Our brains work the same way.  We can handle almost anything for a set amount of time but, as the days turned to weeks and those weeks keep adding up, pretending that we are not holding onto a weight will only leave us paralyzed and cripple our ability to move forward.

We need to give ourselves permission to set the glass down which, admittedly, is difficult when you cannot just walk away from the situation… or even leave your house.  But if you can set aside the strain of it, just for a little while, and give yourself space to not be okay.

Previously we have talked over the science behind cabin fever and ways to combat its effects HERE.  These methods, while excellent for shaking yourself out of a funk, are not long-term solutions.  It is important to identify ways to protect your mental health, keep yourself occupied, and embrace self-care.

Protecting Your Mental Health

Limiting Screen Time

Sometimes we all just need a little help fighting our own bad habits.  Most of us are racking up impressive but terrifying average daily usage on our phones, not even counting the contOver the last few weeks I have racked up an impressive daily average of 7+ hours of screen time on my phone alone.  This does not even begin to count the hours spent binging on YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and Prime.  I had constant headaches, had difficulty sleeping and just generally could not concentrate.  Eventually, I just had to cut myself off.

  • Restricting access to certain apps or setting time limits is a great way to keep you aware of just how much time you are spending on your devices. 
  • Lock yourself out of your device entirely for one hour to stop the temptation entirely when you are trying to be productive. 
  • There are also programs you can install on your PC to accomplish the same goals
  • Turn off the ‘AutoPlay’ feature on your streaming services.
  • Try and limit total screen time to 8 hours a day and take breaks every 2-3 hours.  I know that may seem like a lot under normal circumstances, but we are not under normal circumstances.

Stay Active

Not moving is one of the biggest contributors to physical effects of cabin fever.  Muscle aches, joint pain, headaches, even digestive problems can all arise from being sedentary for too long. 

Going for long walks and listening to your favorite podcast or music playlist is a great way to give yourself a break from the screen.  Bike riding around the neighborhood with the kids is a good way to help them burn energy.  Move along to your favorite workout or stretching video, even if you do not go full force just getting up and moving is enough.  Or dance like no one is watching… and then post it to ticktock anyways because why not.


Some people have a strong internal locus of control, setting their own deadlines and sticking to them.  For others we need an external force, be it a boss, a teacher or even a friend, to be accountable too.  If you, like me, need a little bit of responsibility to help keep you focused, reach out to your friends, family, or online community to set up an accountability system.  Check-in with them and have them check in with you.  Set specific goals and try to motivate each other to keep to them.  Often times just knowing that there is someone else keeping track is enough to keep me focused, or at least more so than if left to my own devices. 


“You are not working from home, you are home during a crisis trying to get some work done.” – the internet

Let’s share a moment of honesty here.  Being ‘productive’ should not be the end all be all goal right now.  A nice perk, yes.  But not the finishing line.  Mostly I have found keeping busy to be an excellent tool in the toolbox for keeping my head on straight. So long as I focus on what’s in front of me I can forget, if just for a moment, about everything outside my window.

School / Work

For many of us, quarantine still means responsibilities.  And while school and work are not necessarily the first things you might want to jump up and do in the morning, they are a valuable avenue to focus your energy. 

If your job has more leeway it might be a good time to try putting together a new proposal or experimenting with new ideas that you would not otherwise have time for.  I’ve been experimenting with marketing options for the bakery I work at and branching into virtual tutoring for my nanny gig.

My Organic Chemistry class meets online twice a week and, without any other fixed points in my schedule, having that constant has been a tether that keeps me grounded.  I may lose track of time over the weekend but I know, come Monday and Wednesday, I have somewhere to be (even if it is only at my computer).  Additionally, the level of concentration required to even pretend to understand my course materials gives me a reason to, at the very least, keep a clear head for that three day stretch.  While few people are masochistic enough to sign up for organic chemistry unless they absolutely had to, it, if you have ever wanted to try an online class and have

Having a Creative Outlet

I am so lucky to have a creative endeavor already built into my life.  Writing has always been an amazing outlet for me, now more than ever.   That does not mean I don’t still struggle with getting motivated.  What has helped keep me inspired and focused has actually been YouTube tutorials and live streams.  Being around other people, even digitally, who are all trying to accomplish the same goals is a great feeling.

Exploring new creative outlets and opportunities can be fun, though they sometimes require special tools or supplies that you may not have readily available or could come with an unwanted delivery bill, which we talked about HERE

Try revisiting hobbies that you already love but have set aside because you were too busy. Or look at what materials you have available to you and explore from there.  Have paint?  Turn on a Bob Ross marathon.  Randomly stocked kitchen?  Check out SortedFood, Tasty 101, Binging with Babish, or even Mythical Kitchen and get cooking.  Only pencils and paper?  Try drawing your favorite TV characters from Tommy Pickles and Danny Phantom to Sesshomaru and Angewomon.  Or join our nerdy writerly collective and finally put that story idea you have had in your head to paper.  Have a phone? Photography, video, graphic design… the choices are limitless. Find a passion that interests you and that you have the resources to explore and dive in. 

Mental Outlet 

If you are actually serious about learning another language, I cannot recommend Rosetta stone enough. For those who are just curious, free apps like duo lingo are a great place to start.

We have already mentioned online classes as a great option, especially if you want to pursue a degree or certification. For those interested in learning for the sake of learning, Khan Academy and YouTube tutorials are a great place to start. However, SkillShare is still offering one month of free classes (as of the writing of this article) which are generally more comprehensive, better produced and more reliable.

Self Care

Spa Day

I am not normally a ‘spa’ kind of girl.  But even I want to be taken care of every once in a while. 

If you are feeling in a funk, try some of the methods to shake yourself loose HERE first, but then follow them up with a little self-pampering. Have a nice bath or shower, bust out the good body scrubs, clean up your nails, go for a face mask or all of the above!

Eat Right & Drink Water

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the human body was not meant to survive on coffee, potato chips, and French onion dip.  At least, I know my body seriously did not appreciate it when I attempted to do just that.  Ruling out all snacks and junk food is just not an option for most of us right now.  But taking the time to make yourself a delicious, healthy meal can help your body offset all of the sugary salty goodness we’ve been ingesting in the meantime.  A nice clean stir fry or a creamy vegetable pasta are both great places to start. Fill yourself up on fresh fruits and veggies or lean proteins. Eat as much as you want, but make it the good stuff.

Find a cup that you really like, especially one with a straw, and it will help you remember to drink more water.

ProTip from R.W. –

Drinking 16 ounces of water (the size of a large travel mug) is also an excellent way to give your body a fighting chance at normal.  You can temper your water with flavorings, extracts, or even juice if plain water is not your thing.  Water with citrus is one of the best choices, healthwise, though cucumber and mint are also popular.  A 4/1 water with cranberry juice and a little mint or lemon is a great mocktail option to keep you hydrated.

Give Yourself Time to Wallow

Pretending that everything okay is a strategy as old as time and one that, for a limited, is an effective coping mechanism.  We passed the point where that was effective in week two.  Keeping calm and carrying on may be the British thing to do, but it is not necessarily the healthiest. 

Give yourself time to not be okay.  Allow yourself to deal with the stress of this situation in whatever way helps you.  Take up kickboxing, binge watch every single James Bond movie, play Animal crossing for the entire morning.  Give yourself permission, give yourself that time and then, when you have sufficiently wallowed, pick yourself up, have a glass of water and a cool shower, and bring on the day.

Check-in on your friends.  Check-in on your family.  Do what you can to help others, but do not minimize or ignore the load that you are carrying.

We have all been under varying amounts of stress for weeks without a break.  Whether you are in an ‘ideal’ situation or one that is more difficult, do not minimize the weight you are currently carrying. 

When a plane encounters turbulence you are instructed to put on your own oxygen mask first and foremost.   We are in turbulent times, and ignoring your own strain and failing to reach for the oxygen is not a sign of strength or toughness.  Find your oxygen.  Find the thing that keeps you grounded and clear-headed and grab onto it like the lifeline that it is.  Check-in with others both for their benefit and yours.  Keep yourself preoccupied to keep your mind off of things.  And give yourself the time and space that is needed to acknowledge that yes, the plane is shaking.

Quarantine and Mental Health – Combating Cabin Fever

Day 27… I have run out of Cheese It’s.  The Gilmore Girls witty banter no longer soothes my consciousness and Captain Picard’s voice is the only thing tethering me to reality…

Okay, it is actually only day 12 for me, but it certainly feels longer.

Hopefully you, like many of us, are self-isolating as much as possible and are practicing social distancing.  And while this is essential for slowing the spread of the virus, it can play havoc on your mental health.

Quarantine & Cabin Fever

As we are all self-isolating as much as possible and businesses remain closed, our levels of human contact and normal everyday routines are being severely disrupted.  Working from home, or being out of work entirely, time starts to lose its meaning.  Days blur into one another and we lay around in our pajamas and binge watch old episodes of Mythbusters for the four thousandth time. 

Having other people with you can either help or make it harder.  Another person, child, or pet can keep your consistent and grounded as their routines remain fixed.  The dog still needs to be walked three times a day, at least, your partner still watched Ellen every day at 4 pm, the toddler still wakes up at 5 am.  Other times having another person there can make the effects of isolation feel worse if your internal clocks become increasingly disparate.  When one person is waking up at 3 am and barely sleeping and the other is sleeping 12+ hours a day it can feel almost as isolating as if you were on your own. 

All of this contributes to a well-established psychological state known more commonly as ‘Cabin Fever’.

Isolation, Depression and Anxiety

Cabin Fever is a very real mental health phenomenon that most people who live up north are intimately familiar with.  The MythBusters did an experiment to demonstrate the various symptoms (currently available on Hulu) back in 2008.  Lethargy, irritability, loss of patience, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest, trouble sleeping.  All of these are symptoms of cabin fever.  They can also be symptoms of depression and can be extremely destructive to our mental health. 

Add to that the anxiety and uncertainty around everything that is happening in the world around us and it can be easy to see how people may struggle.

Combating Cabin Fever

Various medical resources such as the World Health Organization and Psychology Today have useful and more comprehensive information on how to deal with Cabin Fever, like this collated article on WebMD HERE, but below I have narrowed it down to the top three techniques for dealing with cabin fever.

Combat Cabin Fever by Going for a Walk

I know, I know. It sounds stupid. It’s also something that people have probably already been telling you to do. But did you actually do it?

One of the contributing factors to cabin fever is the lack of direct sunlight.  Broad-spectrum UV radiation, at safe levels, has a number of widespread health benefits.  The Mayo Clinic discusses using a ‘Light Box’ to treat seasonal affective disorder HERE, which is commonly associated with cabin fever.  Seasonal affective disorder and cabin fever are not the same, but they share many symptoms and often overlap.  Seasonal Affective Disorder is also known as the ‘winter blues’, but the poor weather, shorter days, an increased amount of time spent indoors can all contribute to feelings of cabin fever, which could occur at any time of the year.

Here in South Florida, we are lucky enough to have a warm sunny climate for most of the year and, as coronavirus is not airborne, we are able to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine without investing in a lightbox.  A short, 10-20 minute walk just around your neighborhood as an excellent way to soak up some sunlight and fresh air.  Feel free to put on music or your favorite podcast as you walk, but avoid just staring at the screen for the entire time.  If a walk around the neighborhood isn’t possible, just sitting on your balcony or front step and soaking up whatever light you can is still a good way to ease yourself back into reality more gently.

If however, you live in a climate that is more gray and cloudy than blue and sunny, a lightbox might be a good investment if you find that you are particularly affected by the lack of light exposure.  Various models are available for purchase over the internet with contactless delivery available.

Help Your Mental Health by Exercising Vigorously for 10 Minutes

Gyms may be closed and, if you’re like me, you weren’t going to one anyways.  But being stuck inside for several days at a time can make anyone a little bit twitchy.  Instead of fighting those nervous instincts, it is far better, and healthier, to let them out. 

The next time you are feeling just a little bit jumpy put on some pumping music, set a timer for 10 minutes, and go to town.  Run in place, do jumping jacks, do pushups, do crunches, squats, or high knees. Dance like nobody is watching. Don’t pause, don’t wait, just go to town, pushing yourself comfortably but firmly until you are mentally and physically exhausted.  The point is not to get in a comprehensive workout, but just to move and release all that pent up energy and anxiety in a healthy way.

Avoid scrolling through exercise workouts until you find one you like.  The next time you feel jittery, just turn on the music and do what feels comfortable, even if that’s only latent memories of the 4th-grade presidential fitness test, as long as you just keep moving.  After you’ve burned off all, or at least some, of your nervous energy, you can always look through exercise routines or YouTube videos for things to use the next time.

Vigorous exercise produces endorphins, increases the oxygenation of your blood and muscles and provides a cathartic release that can help to settle anxious minds and refocus us mentally, physically and emotionally.  Regular exercise can also help promote GABA production, increases your mental fitness and clarity, and elevates your mood.

Elle Woods said it best – “Exercise gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy.  Happy people don’t shoot their husbands.”

Shock Yourself by Taking a Cold Shower

For the record?  I absolutely HATE this method.  That does not mean it does not work or that I have not already used it twice this week, but it still seriously sucks. 

For our purposes, a ‘cold’ shower is anything below about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  We are not talking Ice Bucket challenge temperatures here, just low enough when compared to normal human body temperature to trigger a small shock reaction.  Also, while extended cold showers can help with things like inflammation, muscle soreness or joint pain, this only requires about 30-60 seconds under the spray.

Stepping into a cold shower shocks the body by constricting the blood vessels, thereby forcing the heart and lungs to punch in that bit of extra effort to keep things circulating.  It sends an electrical jolt through the peripheral nervous system straight into the brain which triggers a fight or flight response that promotes mental clarity.  Cold showers affect the metabolism by tricking your body into thinking you need to burn more calories to stay warm, and it can actually affect your blood sugar (Diabetics, talk to your doctor before starting a cold shower routine).  Alternating between a warm shower and a blast of cold also works, but if that is your preferred method you should always end on cold for the best results.

All of these come down to some form of physical shock.  Why?  Because the human body is an amazing and complex biomechanical construct – it knows when to prioritize certain stimuli over others as a matter of survival. 

Ever had a headache and then stubbed your toe?  Yeah, bet your head did not hurt after that. Your body actually took in the new information of ‘stubbed toe’ in the form of nerve impulses, compared it to your headache, and decided that it was more important for you to deal with the new painful stimuli rather than your dully throbbing head.  It works in much the same way that our ancient ancestors would have prioritized being clawed by a saber tooth tiger as more relevant than a mild sunburn and therefor reacted accordingly. 

Shocking your body physically, whether through light and stimulation, vigorous exercise, or cold, is the surest, simplest and safest way to shake yourself out of a mental funk and reorient focus to what is important.  Various tactics and techniques have been used over the decades, and even centuries, to help combat depression, seasonal affective disorder, and our old friend ‘cabin fever’.  We picked out these three because they are the easiest, can be almost universally applied and, at least in our experience, work.

As always, if you feel your mental health begins to deteriorate, exhibit unusual behavior or find yourself having thoughts of self-harm please seek out emergency medical help. Resources are available even under self-isolation advisories and quarantine measures. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 as well as the National Alliance on Mental Health at 1-800-950-6264. Other resources such as dedicated video counseling are available through various apps and you can always reach the Crisis Text Line by texting CONNECT to 741741.

The methods listed above can help shake you out of a funk, but they are not necessarily enough to stop you from sliding back into one.  It is important to find a routine or activity, we will discuss a few options next week, to help keep you grounded and locked in over the coming weeks as it is looking increasingly likely that we are in this for the long haul.

Stay Safe.  Stay Sane.  Stay with us.

Voices in Color – MLK’s Legacy Lives on in Youth Activism of People of Color

POC Youth Activism is stronger now than ever before

Every year, on the third Monday of January, schools across the country close while others hold assemblies honoring the message of a man who meant so much to so many. Martin Luther King Jr’s actions and message fundamentally changed the fabric of American society. Acting as a catalyst for the end of segregation, the civil rights movement, and continued pressure for equal rights across the board.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. can be best encapsulated by the words above.

Martin Luther King Jr., beyond being a leader or an organizer, gave of himself every day to work against the injustices that millions of people of color faced in this country, and around the world, on a daily basis. We know the legacy of a man who, ultimately, lost his life for his cause. But we should remember the man who, while he lived, gave his time, his energy, and his voice to speak for those who could not speak for themselves.

His words don’t just live on in history. They live and breathe in the hearts and minds and voices of color that continue to speak out against the injustices of the world today.

The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. lives on in these young people.

Feliquan Charlemagne

At 17 years old, this Florida resident is the creative and co-executive director of the US Youth Climate Strike. Originally from the US Virgin Islands, Feliquan has seen the effects of climate change first hand as rising tides and increasing hurricanes have fundamentally changed the environment and economy of the islands he is from. Feliquan advocates for kids to be more aware of climate change policies that are in the discussion where they live. Know which politicians support what, and talk to the adults in their lives to make sure they understand how important these issues are to you.

To learn more about the US Youth Climate Strike click the link to find an event near you, or donate to start a chapter in your area.

Marley Dias

This 13-year-old girl is the driving force and power behind #1000BlackGirlBooks, a massive movement to collect and donate books featuring black female lead characters. Tired of not seeing herself represented in the books she was being asked to read at school, Marley Dias began #1000BlackGirlBooks with the intention of collecting, you guessed it, 1000 books by 2016. She was only 9 years old at the time. The story took off, being picked up by everyone from Ellen to Oprah to Michelle Obama. To date, she has collected over 11,000 books and climbing, donating them to local schools or libraries as a part of their collective efforts.

Check out or follow her on social media to learn more about #1000BlackGirlBooks.

Isra Hirsi

As a 16-year-old black Muslim woman, the co-founder and co-executive director of the US Youth Climate Strike, a child of immigrants, and the daughter of U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, Isra Hirsi is no stranger to controversy. But it is exactly this identity that drives Isra in her work. She has long since advocated for both environmental and racial justice and wants to encourage the visibility of environmental activism amongst people of color within the US.

In a piece to the International Congress of Youth Voices, she describes how hard it was being the only person of color in the environmental club, even in a predominantly black area. She also talks about the privilege gap or being able to protest – not everyone is able to take off from school or work, travel to a distant capital, or location of significance in order to protest, but that does not make their contributions less valid. She explains how alienating that experience can be, and how it drives her to continue in her work so that the next person of color who chooses to join won’t have to do so alone.

Salomée Levy

Artist, writer, activist – it seems there are few pursuits this 17-year-old French-Belizean can’t accomplish when she puts her mind to it. In 2016, Salomee created ‘Artsy Hands’ to distribute much-needed art supplies to Nevadas struggling school arts programs and bring together discussions on race, art, and community. Her “We the Immigrants” movement uses writing and art to allow individuals to share their individual and collective experiences as immigrants or children of immigrants.

Anya Sastry

“When leaders start acting like children, children have to start acting like leaders,” Anya spoke those words in from of a crowd of climate activists less than a year ago, and they have never been truer. This teenager, in between studying for her ACT’s and creating killer youtube content, is also the National Outreach Director for the Youth Climate Strike and has continued to work with groups involved in gun violence prevention, women’s rights, and environmental activism.

Sixto Cancel

Sixto Cancels efforts have meant the world to the thousands of users on ‘Think of Us’, a communications app and web platform that allows children within the Foster Care system to successfully navigate the steps to independence after aging out of Foster Care. They also do incredible work with other agencies and youth programs to integrate tech-savvy and mobile applications to make existing programs more accessible. Collaborative hackathons are organized where programmers of all ages and backgrounds can work together to create viable solutions to the existing problems of today.

Emma Gonzalez

It has been less than two years since blood marked the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but Florida still remembers. MSD STRONG banners and signs still mark the classrooms and chainlink fences of many south Florida schools, a testament to the violence and reality of what happens when gun control issues become more than just a political-ideological talking point.

Seventeen people died that day and, in the days and weeks following, hundreds of students were launched into the world of activism and gun control reform. It was a turning point in the landscape of modern activism. Children had to stop being children and petition for the privilege of being able to go to school without the fear of bullets haunting their dreams. Since then, millions of young people across the world have stepped forward; for gun control, violence against women, environmental justice, education reform, health care reform, and just about everything in between. Students took to the streets to March For Our Lives, protesting for stronger gun control measures in a movement that would galvanize American youth for years to come. Waiting for the adults to fix things was no longer an option.

Emma Gonzalez, an LGBT Cuban American, was at the forefront of the March For Our Lives Movement and Never Again MSD. A survivor of the event, her speech went viral as she proclaimed “We call B.S.” on the lack of gun control legislation by NRA backed politicians. She has continued to campaign for better gun control legislation and works with other activists to promote the issue at large.

Mari Copeny aka ‘Little Miss Flint’

Mari Copeny was eight years old when she wrote her now-famous letter to then-President Obama asking him to meet with her and a group of activists traveling to DC for hearings on the Flint Water Crisis, but she was already known as ‘Little Miss Flint’ around her hometown of Flint Michigan. When the city switched water suppliers, toxic and lead-filled water poisoned thousands of people, affecting children the most. She’s 11 now, and she hasn’t slowed down even a bit. Campaigning to collect backpacks for underprivileged children in Flint, participating in Climate Change Marches, working with ‘Equality for Her’ and, as always, continuing to work for clean water and stricter regulations to prevent what happened in Flint Michigan from ever happening again.

Xiuhtextcatl Roske Martinez

The Youth Director of Earth Guardians gave his first speech at the age of six and has worked in the world of climate change activism ever since. Serving on then-President Obama’s Youth Council in 2013, one of the 20 kids who took the US government to court in 2015 for failing to adequately protect the environment, and speaking at everything from the UN General Assembly to the Rio+20 UN Summit. Xiuhtextcatl has continued to represent his home and his background as he speaks out against the destruction of Native Lands and the development of critical areas of environmental and cultural importance in favor of profit.

POC Youth Activists

Don’t forget to check out the amazing activists below! You can follow them on social media, or through their collaborative efforts for more info.

  • Ridhima Pandey
  • Xiye Bastida
  • Kevin J. Patel
  • Grace Dolan-Sandrino
  • Leah Namugerwa
  • Malcolm Mitchell
  • Nadia Nazar
  • Madelaine Tew
  • Elsa Mengistu
  • Alfonso Calderon
  • Artemisa Xakriaba
  • Naelyn Pike
  • Zanagee Artis

Autumn Peltier

Autumn Peltier is 16 years old, but that has not stopped the Wikwemikong girl from holding council with some of the world’s most powerful leaders as she continues to fight for water protections in her home country of Canada and across the world. Even fewer get the chance to tell their leaders just exactly how disappointed they are in their decisions. The expansion of pipelines across native peoples’ lands continues to threaten clean water not just in Ontario, but across the world. Autumn once said, “I like to speak for the water because the water doesn’t have a voice.” If we all chose to speak for those who are voiceless, imagine the changes we could make.

Nyeeam Hudson aka King Naah

Rising Instagram star and motivational speaker, King Naah was only 13 when his dad posted a shaky cell phone video of his sons’ response to being bullied for his shoes. “These sneakers aren’t even going to fit 20 years from now – what matters is inside your mind: your wisdom, your knowledge, your power to inspire others.” Unsurprisingly, the now 15-year-old’s message is continuing to inspire others. In an age of cyberbullying and trolling he continues to spread messages of positivity, self-worth, and character. “Never get discouraged. Just keep building yourself every day.”

Helena Gualinga

This 17-year-old is from a small village in the Ecuadorian Amazon and has seen first hand the effects of environmental change and a lack of environmental protections. Rarely are the indigenous populations consulted before development companies begin building, destroying local ecosystems in the process. This is what happened in Helena’s home of Sarayaku. Oil companies supported by the Ecuadorian military claimed Sarayaku land for drilling. Her village is still fighting a legal battle to protect their lands, but Helena fights for many indigenous people whose lands have been taken in favor of development, deforestation, oil, or transportation routes.

Jerome Foster II 

For Jerome Foster, like for many youth activists, it isn’t just one cause that calls him forward. So instead he created One Million Of Us, of which he is the Executive Director. The collaborative youth voting organization combines the efforts of five different movements; climate change, community/school gun violence, immigration reform, gender equality, and racial injustice. One Million of Us allows young activists to pool their resources and collaborate efforts in order to create greater changes in their communities. Jerome is a high school senior who is dual enrolled at MIT and spends what little free time he has as a research reporter for National Geographic.

Yara Shahidi

Actress, model, activist. You may recognize Yara from her roles on Black-ish and Grown-ish, but you may not know that her college letter of recommendation was written by none other than former First Lady Michelle Obama. Now attending Harvard and filming for Grown-ish in between study sessions, Yara continues to campaign for diversity in Hollywood and the importance of girls’ education. Her non-profit, Yara’s club, formed in partnership with The Young Women’s Leadership Club, helps bring together high school-aged girls to discuss social issues and address how to enact change in their local communities.

Tony Weaver

The founder of Weird Enough Productions began volunteering as a mentor at an elementary school when he was still a teen. Tony asked a boy, Nazir, if he would be dressing up as his favorite superhero for Halloween, and Nazir’s answer would serve as Tony’s guiding purpose for years to come. “I can’t, I don’t look like him. I’m going to dress as CJ from Grand Theft Auto.”

Representation matters. When the only version of themselves children see on screens is of carjackers, it makes an impact.  Misrepresentation in media perpetuates stereotypes that are harmful to many groups but people of color in particular. These portrayals are related to higher instances of police brutality, mistreatment, and discrimination from medical personnel, teachers, and law enforcement.

Tony created Wierd Enough Productions to challenge stereotypes, tackle issues such as racism and toxic gender norms, and address subjects like police brutality. Weaver uses media literacy to create systemic change. “The work of Weird Enough Productions is important because we are attempting to not only change the types of media content being seen but also change the minds of media consumers.”

The magnitude and power of these voices resonate with each person they touch, inspiring yet more people to stand up for what they believe in. The chorus of their voices is creating change around the world, shifting our own societal fabric as laws are passed, resolutions issued, and minds changed.

This year, on Martin Luther King Day, take a moment to reflect on what cause or causes you are willing to lend the power and greatness that is your voice to. If you struggle for inspiration, take a note from the voices of the people above. Follow their cause, see what you can do to help, or start one of your own. Don’t be afraid about ‘doing it wrong’ or not knowing where to start. Time spent in the service of others is never wasted.

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Martin Luther King ,Jr.

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You can also check out Eve Daniels, author of The Nerdy Nanny books, on YouTube where she gives writing and academic advice as well as updating you on all of her latest and upcoming projects.