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Let’s End Disability Bullying

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Co-written with Arielle Dance, PhD, Content Writer at Diversability

No one is immune to bullying, but when you live with a disability and/or chronic illness, you are even more likely to be the victim of a bully. Studies have shown that children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their non-disabled peers, and bullying doesn’t end at graduation: 31 percent of Americans polled were the victim of a bully in their adult life; it’s important to acknowledge that these statistics do not reflect the instances where the bullying goes unreported.

The impact of bullying can vary amongst adults with disabilities, but some results are similar. Individuals who have been bullied may experience:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lower self-esteem/lack of confidence
  • Lack of sleep
  • Headaches or muscle tension
  • Frequent absence from school or work
  • Lower productivity or performance 

Bullying of people with disabilities continues to be problematic beyond school age. Even in workplace environments, people with disabilities are faced with harassment. Cyberbullying and financial exploitation have also opened doors for modern bullying in our community. 

When asked about experiences of bullying, members of the Diversability Leadership Collective reflected on emotional memories of their painful pasts– questioning what deemed them as less than in the eyes of a bully or unworthy of respect by their non-disabled counterparts.

Bullying against disabled people may stem from ableism

Disabled people are seen as second-class citizens partially because we are left out of discussions around policy, legislation, accommodation, and representation. Until disabled people are seen as equal citizens bullying will continue.

Nico Meyering, Disabled advocate and AmeriCorps alumnus

Within the disability community, there is a cry for bullies to find some humanity and remember that each person they victimize is a living person with feelings and unique gifts. People with disabilities deserve respect and their voices heard. Each person has a distinctive perspective and experience that they can share. When a bully exercises their power and ableism, it is an attempt to silence people with disabilities. 

Understanding the disability experience is crucial

It was echoed that bullies are in need of overwhelming education about the impacts of their behavior and how to interact with people with various disabilities. Education can include spending time with disabled people and understanding the ways they are subjected to ableism on a daily basis and creating intimacy and connection between the bully and the person being bullied to make them aware of the humanity of the person they harmed. It is possible that some people bully out of ignorance about a disability and do not recognize how their actions may impact the emotional health of someone.

“It’s easier to influence behavior by showing people what they can do (be an ally/advocate) rather than telling people what they can’t do (be a bully).”

Marta Elena Cortez-Neavel, Founder & CEO of Abilitee Adaptive Wear

This type of education is the responsibility of workplaces, schools, and our society overall as we help to form compassionate human beings. 

Say something if you witness someone being bullied

There is also a heightened need for education of bystanders who witness bullying and need to call out the toxic actions.

If you witness a disabled person being bullied (especially in digital spaces), step in as a bystander by addressing the bully with something like “what makes you say that?” Supporting us in those instances can make a huge difference.

Tiffany Yu, CEO & Founder of Diversability

We, at Diversability, recognize that bullying is not always monolithic and some people with disabilities experience bullying for other aspects of their identity. For this reason, bullying education should cover all the warning signs of bullying including cyberbullying.  

What Can You Do?

If you or someone you know is being bullied, here are a few steps you can take to address your hardships:

  1. Take your concern to a trusted leader: This may be a manager, union representative, or Human Resource department. 
  2. Know your rights: In the United States, there are federal and state laws that protect persons with disabilities from being discriminated against and harassed. Visit www.stopbullying.gov to learn more.
  3. Advocate for yourself and others: You determine which actions you want to take against the bullies and how you want to respond to their actions. If you witness a person being bullied in their place of work (ex: a store you’re visiting), you can report the incident to a manager or directly to the headquarter offices. 
  4. Seek out Support: As you recover from bullying, it is imperative to determine what your healing looks like. Some examples of this may include mental health resources, virtual or in-person support groups, or peer counseling. 
  5. Beware of Cyber Bullies: Online bullying is rampant. If you notice someone is being bullied or you are experiencing harassment, report the person’s account, comment, or post. 
  6. Educate Yourself and Others: Increased awareness of the dangers of bullying, especially against persons with disabilities, is needed. Ignorance about disabilities intensifies these dangers. Let’s educate our peers about disabilities and how to be kinder human beings. If you are in a place of power, consider specialized education for your team.

More resources: https://www.pacer.org/bullying/info/students-with-disabilities/; https://findado.osteopathic.org/adult-bullying-survey-finds-31-americans-bullied-adult

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Food Is Medicine And What We Eat Is Important

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Your mental state is a critical component of your physical health. And when you’re under a lot of stress, you might not be eating the healthy food that provides nutrients for fighting anxiety and depression. So when we examine what we’ve been eating, most of us discover that the decisions we’ve been making in the name of simplicity, convenience, or saving time have been damaging to our total health – body, mind, and spirit.

A person’s diet is a direct reflection of their health. When a person does not eat the right foods, their body breaks down. This can lead to an overall decrease in quality of life and many other diseases linked to improper nutrition. In North America, our current diet mainly consists of an excess of grain, sugar, fried and fatty foods. As a result, disorders including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and certain malignancies are becoming increasingly widespread.

The science of food has always been discussed; however, with recent technological innovations in food processing and agriculture, people have enjoyed more convenient foods that are less expensive than ever before. Unfortunately, with every convenience comes a trade-off. Smart foods are often packed with sugar, salt, and calories, leading to poor health in some individuals. 

To understand what a person is putting into their body, it’s essential to realize that the small molecules in food are responsible for allowing our bodies to function. These small molecules are called nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and enzymes. A nutrient is not a value unless absorbed by the body through a specific pathway. For example, if you absorb calcium without vitamin D, your body will not use that calcium. 

Eating a balanced diet keeps you healthy, but it helps reduce your stress. For example, eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants because they help augment your immune response and prevent toxins from damaging your cells. Vitamins A, C, and E serve as antioxidants that fight off free radicals in the body. Free radicals are toxic products of metabolism that cause damage to your cells. Experts claim that they are responsible for the aging process. Good sources of these vitamins are deeply-colored vegetables- green leafy, yellow, and orange vegetables, such as squash, broccoli, kale, spinach, and carrots.

Iron is one of the most abundant minerals in the body, and it mainly functions to deliver oxygen to your cells. Hence, an iron deficiency, medically termed Iron-deficiency anemia, is associated with weakness, easy fatigability, and pale skin. Tea, coffee, red wine, grapes, and berries are rich in antioxidants that function the same as your vitamins A, C, and E. 
You need a diet that’s healthy and balanced – and one that can fit comfortably into your busy lifestyle.

Here are some of the recommended dietary guidelines.

Eat a diet high in fresh vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. 

Exercise every other day to release endorphins, feel good, get the blood flowing, and reduce stress levels. 

Eat salt only when you need it, but not too much as your body does not need it. Many people with anxiety are hypothyroid or have low magnesium. When your body needs more sodium, it can indicate that you are not producing enough cortisol or are dehydrated. If you experience chronic anxiety, I recommend working with a physician to run tests on cortisol levels and then take salt supplements as needed. Use spices like turmeric, ginger, curry, and aromatic herbs like parsley, rosemary, sage, and basil.
Eat low-fat meals because they will cause a minor spike in blood sugar levels: think lean meats, eggs, vegetables, and nuts; avoid dairy if it makes you feel anxious. 

Drink lots of water — keep hydrated all day — ideally at least half a gallon if possible — your brain needs water to function optimally! 

Avoid foods that you know will make you feel bad, such as dairy, even with low-fat content. You can cut out dairy and not worry about it! 

Avoid sugar, caffeine, processed foods, alcohol, and any other substance that makes you feel bad or increases anxiety levels. Also, avoid coffee — drinking more than one cup a day can cause anxiety in some people. Coffee is also dehydrating and inhibits the absorption of minerals from food/water/supplements — try caffeinated water as a substitute for coffee if you like the caffeine kick. 

Find a natural health professional that you can talk to or work with to quickly get the results you want. 

Healthy foods and nutrition can help you stay fit, but they can also assist you in treating disease. When you nurture your body physically with these nutrient-dense foods, your mental capacities improve, as does your spiritual welfare. Moreover, because your spiritual health is at its best, it will radiate to the exterior world, causing others to notice you’re happier and more relaxed, and your stress levels have decreased dramatically.

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The Points of Light Civic Circle Offers Real Ways You Can Change the World 

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Sixty-six percent of Americans don’t believe they can make a big impact in the world. 

That figure is according to Points of Light’s research on civic engagement. But what if I told you there are actually many ways to drive change? 

Today’s political climate can feel divided or even stagnant, but the truth is, you really can make things better, starting with your own community, one act of kindness at a time. And those aren’t just words. I’m here to share real, practical ways for you to make a difference. 

The Points of Light Civic Circle helps people connect to opportunities and understand that doing good comes in many forms. It is a framework that represents your power to lead, lend support and take action for causes you care about and live your best civic life. 

The Civic Circle provides actionable examples of all the ways you can change your community to reflect the world you want to see around you. In fact, you’re probably doing some of these things already. Are you helping a neighbor by picking up groceries or chaperoning on your child’s class field trip? You’re volunteering. Did you vote in the last election or help others get to the polls so they could vote? Those acts of civic duty illustrate the “vote” element. When you buy a product, do you choose to support companies that reflect your values or advance a social cause? That’s called “purchase power.” There are nine elements of the Civic Circle, and countless ways to bring each one to life. 

This blog is the first in a five-part series that will help you find real and manageable ways to activate the Civic Circle through apps, documentaries, podcasts and books. 

We also offer other resources to help you connect with all the ways you can become empowered to be the change you want to see in the world. Check out our videos that provide an in-depth look at each element of the Civic Circle. And don’t miss Civic Life Today, our digital magazine series. Each issue takes a deep dive and provides materials, ideas and inspiration so that you can become civically engaged.  Get started today, and launch your own civic engagement journey with these tools. 

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Are you an Amateur or a Pro? 30 Differences to Help You Decide…

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My client, Sebastian, thinks he’s behind on “life”.

He thinks he missed the memo the rest of us received on how to live a happy life.

I know better.

Sebastian hasn’t fallen behind and there is no such memo.

We’re all just trying to figure it out.

Unless we’re not. And there are a lot of people who simply are not trying to figure it out.

My friend and Professional Coach, Elaine Taylor-Klaus, calls them Status quo-ers — as opposed to Growers.

Anyone who makes a serious commitment to working with a Professional Coach is by definition a “Grower” and Sebastian is no exception.

Growers want to know, feel and live more. They push every boundary and sometimes fall off cliffs. They say “yes” to way too many things and often feel overwhelmed and over committed. They have a congenital distaste of the status quo and will sabotage any situation if it feels like “settling” to them. They’re insatiable and often don’t know what exactly will assuage their hunger.

Growers often appear to the world as troubled, frustrated and critical.

Inside they feel unfulfilled and misunderstood.

The truth is that they can’t help but be driven by Oscar Wilde’s belief that,

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.”

Growers will break every piece in the china shop when they find themselves just existing and not living as they see fit. And they suffer for it.

That is… until they turn pro and transform their life!

Steven Pressfield famously states in his book, Turning Pro

“Becoming a pro, in the end, is nothing grander than growing up.”

Sebastian thinks he’s falling behind because he’s still living life as an amateur at 34.

To put the above into context, I didn’t turn pro till well into my 40’s!

Best move I ever made! 

So what’s the difference between living life as an amateur vs. a pro?

Although there is no one size fits all manifesto on “how to turn pro”, here are thirty distinctions I’ve learned which apply to ANY Grower who is truly committed to living a life of purpose, fulfillment and ease.

  1. Amateurs look for hacks and shortcuts — Pros do the work.
  2. Amateurs speed up — Pros slow down.
  3. Amateurs are busy — Pros are focused.
  4. Amateurs sell first — Pros serve first.
  5. Amateurs think it’s about them — Pros know it’s never personal.
  6. Amateurs think life is short — Pros know life is actually really freakin’ long.
  7. Amateurs are reactive — Pros are responsive.
  8. Amateurs live with constant misunderstandings — Pros take the time to get clear.
  9. Amateurs don’t know what success looks like (to them) — Pros  know their definition of success and aren’t afraid to change it.
  10. Amateurs don’t know their core life values — Pros do.
  11. Amateurs want to feel happy — Pros want to feel alive!
  12. Amateurs play to “not lose” — Pros play to win.
  13. Amateurs are harsh — Pros are fierce.
  14. Amateurs secretly enjoy being in the “Victim Mindset” — Pros are a “Hell No” to that!
  15. Amateurs wonder what people say about them when they leave the room — Pros know.
  16. Amateurs have false and limiting beliefs around money — Pros don’t.
  17. Amateurs are constantly searching for life balance — Pros are living an integrated life.
  18. Amateurs think everything matters — Pros know what few things actually do matter (for them).
  19. Amateurs set boundaries defensively — Pros simply honor their “operating system”.
  20. Amateurs think help is a four letter word — Pros actively seek opportunities to help and be helped.
  21. Amateurs don’t have a relationship with their “Future Self” — Pros are best friends with their “Future Self”.
  22. Amateurs confuse knowing with doing — Pros receive knowledge and apply it (EVERY moment of EVERY day).
  23. Amateurs love information — Pros love insights.
  24. Amateurs have intentions — Pros have commitments.
  25. Amateurs have expectations — Pros have agreements.
  26. Amateurs compare — Pros create.
  27. Amateurs live from probability — Pros live from possibility.
  28. Amateurs are focused only on the “Goal Line” — Pros are focused on both the “Goal Line” and the “Soul Line”.
  29. Amateurs set goals with contingencies — Pros know contingencies are just excuses and NOW is the time!
  30. Amateurs create from the past — Pros create from the future.

Now that you are aware of the 30 differences between an amateur and a pro, where do you see yourself?

And I’d love to know why. Get in touch with your answer.

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