JoyBinge Podcast Ep. 3: Heavy but Good
Hi and welcome to JoyBinge, a podcast where we re-learn that good things are happening in the world and celebrate those good things because we are tired of only hearing about the bad crap. My name is Kimmy Mauldin and I am not a journalist or a professional of any sort in the news industry. I’m just a Texas girl in need of some happy news and want to share what I find. Let’s binge on some joy!
Some exciting news came out of India on September 6th. A five-judge bench came together and declared that consensual homosexual activities, as in engaging in sex, will no longer be illegal. Abhishyant Kidangoor reported in Time that Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, “The LGBTQ community has the same fundamental rights as citizens. The identity of a person is very important and we have to vanquish prejudice, embrace inclusion and ensure equal rights.”
The law that criminalized consensual same sex acts, Section 377, was put into action in 1861 when India was still under British rule. Before the British colonized India, homosexuality was depicted in religious texts and artwork. Kidangoor reports that “India joins 17 Commonwealth nations that have overturned laws criminalizing homosexuality, a legacy left behind in most of these nations by the former British colonial rulers. Homosexuality still remains illegal in 36 Commonwealth countries, including Singapore, Kenya and Sri Lanka.”
People have been fighting for their rights for many years now, but this goal was first formally pursued starting in 2001. The rise in HIV/AIDS in India was kind of the final straw and what spurred the group to move forward in fighting for their rights. People were too afraid to even get tested much less get the care they need because of this law. People have been harrassed for ages and finally, the law will be on their side. While there has been quite a bit of pushback, the victory remains strong. But will those fighting for rights stop here? You better believe they won’t! This actually isn’t the first time this law was overturned. My good friend, Suhasini, whom I’ve mentioned before, shared an article from the New York Times on Facebook that had a lot of great information. The article was written by Jeffrey Gettleman, Kai Schultz and Suhasini Raj. I’m going to quote a large portion here because they outline the history of the LGBT community fighting for their rights well,
“In 2009, a court in New Delhi ruled that the law could not be applied to consensual sex. But Hindu, Muslim and Christian groups filed appeals in the Supreme Court, and in 2013, the court restored the law, saying that Parliament, and not the courts, should take up the issue. In its decision that year, the Supreme Court said only a “minuscule fraction of the country’s population constitute lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders.”
But gay activists did not give up. They regrouped and began looking for people willing to serve as petitioners and endure the personal scrutiny the case would bring. In 2016, five gay and lesbian Indians submitted a writ petition challenging Section 377 on the basis that it violated their rights to equality and liberty.”
Now that they again have their rights to not be criminalized in simply living their sexual lives the way they were wired to, the LGBT community will now fight for the right to marry and to own property. Even though it’s easy to say that it’s 2018 and we shouldn’t be seeing these issues as issues, we are. Homosexuality and other lifestyles under the LGBT community are still under heavy persecution in many parts of the world. But this is one victory that can be and should be celebrated. The goal is for people to live their lives without fear of being persecuted, shamed, or hated. Kidangoor in Time reported, “Tanveen Kaur Randhawa, one of 20 former students of the Indian Institute of Technology who filed one of several petitions in court earlier this year“Now more people will have the strength to come out,” says. “When you are treated as a criminal, it is not easy to come out and this step is very important because it ensures that you have the right to be who you are.”’
Printing has become a heavily debated topic now that 3D printing plastics is a thing. Well, one professor at the University of Newcastle in Australia, Paul Dastoor, has developed a pretty cool thing to print - solar panels!! I don’t know how this truly works because all things electronic and solar are basically magic to me but this is really neat. Michael McGowan reported for The Guardian how Dr. Dastoor made this happen. “Less than one millimetre thick and held down with double-sided sticky tape, the panels are similar in texture to a potato chip packet and can be produced for less than $10 per square metre. Dastoor has been working on the technology for more than a decade, but has now begun a 200 square-metre installation – the first commercial application of its kind in Australia and possibly the world.”
While the technology is cheap to make, it also wears out much quicker than the silicon solution that most solar panels are made of. But Dr. Dastoor believes that the affordability of the product, both in development and installation, will make the solar panels competitive which I believe will help make the panels more available to the common person. He even compares the possible availability of the product to mobile plans, that one day companies could sell packages or plans so people can use and renew their use of the panels.
One other fantastic thing Professor Dastoor points out about this new endeavor, well not new, he has been working on this project for about 10 years, is that the universities and industries are coming together to develop solutions for problems society faces. I absolutely love hearing about students and professionals coming together to find solutions to the various problems we all face. The pilot project Professor Dastoor developed will be continuing on for another 6 months before introducing it to the market hopefully in the oncoming years.
If you want to learn more about how the solar panels are made, Visual Connections Australia Ltd posted a cool interview with Professor Dastoor on their YouTube channel. Check out the link here: Professor Paul Dastoor at PacPrint 2017
Alright, now to discuss something pretty heavy. I know the point of this podcast is to focus on joy but sometimes as we all know, joy is hard to find. This time of year is pretty hard for some of my closest friends and family members. Suicide is never easy to discuss and always hard to face. But an amazing call center in Atlanta, Georgia talks with people who are either dealing with suicidal thoughts or just need extra emotional support, especially when their loved ones struggle. Doug Criss brings us this story through CNN.
Now, remember, this is a much harder article to read and tell you about then anything we’ve discussed so far but this is super important. Especially since people tend to consider suicide more seriously after high profile individuals take their own lives. If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, tendencies or simply need extra emotional support, call 1-800-715-4225 and a representative from Georgia Crisis and Access Line of Behavioral Health Link will talk with you.
There is no shame in calling the access line. I’ve called when needing advice when friends of mine were struggling and we all needed extra support. There were several times in my life when I should have called but decided to suffer alone. It’s a hard decision to make but a good one when you can make it happen. I’ve been going to my amazing counselor for about 6 years now and that was by far the best decision I made for my own mental health. Since counseling isn’t always available especially in highly emotional moments, this hotline is the best resource for when you need to talk.
The article discusses what calls are typically like for the incredible call center representatives and the ways they keep themselves mentally healthy while at work. I can’t imagine this kind of work and am so thankful there are people who accept this job and for those who volunteer in so many cities across the world to talk with those who need a listening ear.
Back in 2014, I took a class training to be a crisis hotline representative with the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas and I won’t lie, it was tough. Granted that was the year that I knew someone who took their life and had several other friends and family members lose important people in their lives to suicide. It was one of the most difficult times I’ve ever experienced. But the class was amazing, meeting other people who have had similar experiences and wish to use their pain to help others who are facing tough circumstances. I am still close with a friend I made in the class!
Read the article if you are interested in learning more about the Georgia support center and how suicide rates have changed across the US in the last 10-15 years. But if there is anything you should hear from this segment it’s that life is tough but there are ways through it. And if you don’t feel like you can talk with people in your life, there are hundreds of trained professionals and volunteers that are just a phone call away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 1-800-715-4225. You don’t have to be suicidal to call. As Criss reports, “Fortunately, not all the calls are life-or-death situations. "The crisis line is not just for people who are suicidal. We want people to call us when they are having any emotional distress, and that can take on many forms," [Wendy Martinez] Farmer [CEO of Behavioral Health Link] said. "We have people who call us who are having substance abuse problems, who are experiencing anxiety, some depression symptoms. It doesn't always have to do with suicide. Certainly, suicide is something that we deal with ... but we want people to reach out before it gets that bad." How great that we can have this resource. Again the number is 1-800-715-4225. Ok. I know that was heavy but I’m glad we can talk about this. Now let’s talk about something I personally found hilarious and amazing!
What do you think when you hear the term “manure couture”? I think, “I don’t get fashion.” I never have and I probably never will. Bless those who work so hard to make us look so good. Especially Jalila Essaïdi and the 15 Dutch farmers in Eindhoven she is working with to make some unique garments. Out of poop. Yup, that’s right. Poop. Cow poop to be more specific. Senay Boztas wrote for the Guardian explaining what Essaïdi is up to.
Essaïdi says, “Like a lasagne of manure, you need to make something out of it...We see manure as a waste material, something disgusting and smelly. But oil [used to make fibre] isn’t clean and beautiful at the beginning. You really have to show people the hidden beauty if you transform this cellulose.”
Apparently this form of recycling to create materials has been a trend growing over the last several years. Let Essaïdi explain how this works:
“The process is chemical and mechanical,” she explains, having run trials to create a fashion show in 2016. “When you collect manure, it’s a combination of urine and cow poop, 80% water. We separate the dry and wet fraction. The wet fraction is fermented and we [extract] solvents to transform the cellulose, which is nothing other than the grass and corn the cows eat.
“What makes our process better than the normal textile industry Croft method is that we don’t need high pressure, as the cow stomach is the first step in making the fibre softer. It’s also more energy efficient.”
This might just be a step in the right direction for fighting fast fashion and finding better ways of better utilizing resources we may not have realized we have. According to an article written for the Guardian by Rich McEachran in 2015 states that “it takes 20,000 litres [of water] to produce a single T-shirt and pair of jeans.” And Boztas reports that according to the communications manager of H&M Foundation, Malin Björne, “The world is already consuming the equivalent of approximately 1.6 planet’s worth of resources every year, and there is an urgent opportunity to shift to a model where valuable materials are recovered...Fashionista or not, we are all going to have to get used to sometimes unconventional materials as we cannot rely on cotton, for example.”
But don’t worry, the clothing made from cow manure doesn’t stink. Would you be willing to wear something you know is made from cow dung? I think I would be willing to try...as long as it’s in a cute cut and color! Read the rest of the article and the one from 2015. It’s super interesting and while weird, very important to consider as we look for ways to take care of our world and fashion choices!
Soccer games, or football games for the rest of the world, are not typically known for their happy and supportive fan bases when it comes to being in the stands. But one game back in August put their competitive natures aside when a cool opportunity fell into their laps. Or rather that they threw into the laps of some kids that really needed support.
John Hutchinson reported this story for The Sun and get ready for some heavy name butchering on my part. I’m doing my best, promise. One of my wonderful viewers from the Twitch stream that I host every week day passed this article to me. Thank you, Anthos! You are a dear. Teams Feyenoord and Excelsior played a game where children from a local hospital got an experience of a lifetime. Hutchinson worded it so beautifully, “...those present who had travelled from the Erasmus Sophia Hospital will take home a special memento as well as memories to treasure after being showered with soft toys from Excelsior supporters.” A shower of soft toys?? Fans brought stuffed animals to toss from the upper decks to the children down on the ground floor. There is video in the article that shows how magical it was for the kids who really needed to see something amazing happen. Watch it for a sweet pick me up!
Anthos shared another great article with me to pass on to you all this go around. Thank you!! In Chicago, a teacher went up and beyond for one of her former students. Andrea Diaz wrote this article for CNN. She reports that LaShonda Carter lived up to her promise she makes to her students. Carter tells her students that she will be there for them if they needed her. Well, even though it had been three years since Larresha Plummer had been in her class, Carter still came through.
The two caught up on Facebook when Plummer told Carter that she needed to go to a job fair but had no one to watch her precious three week old daughter. “‘There was no way I would have let her take a baby in a bus, I told her right away that I would pick her up in the morning,’ Carter told CNN.” And after the job fair, Carter wasn’t done. She took Plummer to apply for WIC, an invaluable program that stands for Women, Infants, and Children, specializing in helping mothers get nutrition education and grants who need them.
Diaz writes, “Carter’s main wish is for Plummer to know that she can still be successful even though she’s a teenage mother, and that being a teenage mother does not equal failure.” Carter wrote in her post, “Sometimes as a teacher, our jobs go beyond the classroom...she’s a young teenage mom, and she needs some help...I’m gonna do what I can, as much as I can as an educator, but know I can’t do it all by myself.” That’s right. We need to ban together to help get everyone to a successful and sustainable place in our lives. It doesn’t happen overnight, as we all well know. Diaz wraps up the article stating that Plummer got a job and plans to attend college this fall. Get it, Plummer, we all believe in you!!
Few things make me cry faster than seeing the example some older couples display for us as to what relationships can look like past 80. Caitlin O’Kane reports a sweet story for CBS News about Luther Younger, a 99-year-old man who walks 6 miles round trip every day to be with his wife, Waverlee, in the hospital. Get those tissues ready, this is a beautiful story!
Nine years ago, Waverlee was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Doctors originally predicted that she would only survive for five years. Little did they know how strong Waverlee and Luther are! After 55 years of marriage, what can’t this couple handle? Apparently nothing.
Luther walks regardless if it’s hot, raining, or cold. O’Kane joined him for his journey and apparently he is still quite athletic: starting the walk off with some push ups and breaking into a run during certain parts of the trek. I mean, what? The drive this man has is inspirational, even if I feel rather ashamed that I know I wouldn’t have the fortitude to not accept rides from friends or use the bus. Luther uses his walks to think and focus on his wife. He told O’Kane, “She is a beautiful lady and she treats me as a person is supposed to be...she made a man out of me...that’s why I love her, because she’s tough. She’s not week...That’s the kind of woman I want.” This story is beautiful, take the time to read it. They go through his life with Waverlee, their daughter Lutheta, and how she worries about Luther walking three miles to the hospital and three miles home.
When O’Kane said goodbye to Luther, he hugged her and as she says, “...told me I was like a granddaughter to him. We just spent the afternoon together, but in Luther’s big heart, that practically made me part of his family.” Cue sobfest 2018. If you want to help support the family, Lutheta started a GoFundMe campaign to cover medical costs. They are less than $2,000 away from their goal and have about 17 days left of the campaign from the posting of this episode. Visit their page at the link: Luther and Waverlee Younger GoFundMe
For our Texas portion this episode, I saw a funny article in The Texas Monthly by Dan Solomon about three emotional support alpacas!! The article points to another one from the Austin American-Statesman written by Pam LeBlanc which has a lot more information. Texas Party Animals is a company that rents out the time of their specially trained alpacas for parties. If that’s not one of the best things you hear today, you must be having a great day.
Loretta Hajovsky however has gone one step further with three of their alpacas: Waylon, Willie, and Tex. She is working hard to get alpacas certified to be official service animals. Right now they are registered as emotional support animals which is nice but special training is needed to be official service animals and Texas currently only allows dogs and horses to go through the training. Hopefully Hajovsky can help expand the boundary to include other animals.
The article goes on to display how people reacted to the three alpacas, dressed up in little black cowboy hats and red bandanas, at the Texas Rural Health Services building in La Grange, Texas back in August. LeBlanc quotes Greg Hajovsky, Loretta’s husband as saying, “It’s like they understand the people, they take to large crowds. They just fit right in. In that regard, they’re like a service dog.” The article is really sweet and worth reading. Plus the pictures of the alpacas are absolutely adorable! If you go to Texas Party Animals’ website or Facebook page, you will find even more pictures and it’s one of the best things I’ve looked at today.
Now that we’ve gone through the news, it’s time to talk about a way to get involved in our communities. Today, I’m going to stay local to my area but it’s something you can still do wherever you are. September 20th is North Texas Giving Day, a special day each year when the majority of charities, nonprofits, and organizations raise money together to grow their donor bases. Communities Foundation of Texas hosts this great event that has grown significantly each year since it started back in 2009. The event is all online and lasts only 18 hours. Last year, they raised over $39 million to support 2, 723 nonprofits!
Now, if you don’t live in North Texas but still want to be involved with supporting nonprofits in your area, do some research, find one locally, nationally, or even give to one of the nonprofits in the North Texas Giving Day campaign and donate on Sept 20th! Make it your own giving day! If money isn’t something you can give right now, look into volunteering new or gently used items to whatever special organization you choose or donate your time and expertise in whatever you know. Organizations need help in so many different ways and it’s up to the community to assist. Email or tweet at me if you have any questions or need help finding something to do! I worked for a great nonprofit for several years and served two years with AmeriCorps back in the day so I have learned some cool ways to offer assistance to great nonprofits. Not to brag, I just got some experience! Hit me up email@example.com or tweet at me at @joybingepodcast
School time is back upon us! For those of you going back to school, starting a new job, getting your kids back in school, or just simply trying to better your sleep schedule, as I should be, going to bed and waking up on time can be really difficult. Personally, I’m a natural night owl so getting to bed before 11pm and waking up before 10am tends to be harder than it should be for me. Thank goodness I have a schedule that allows for me to sleep from 3am to 10am! Well, Carolina Romanyuk wrote an article for the Good News Network with some sound advice for changing your bedtime.
Romanyuk suggests using technology to your advantage by utilizing apps like “Calm” or other meditation apps to help get yourself to a calmer state to allow for better sleep. So basically getting yourself and/or your family members to a calm and quiet state before bed is step one. Step two is make your bedtime 15 minutes earlier every 1-2 days starting about 2 weeks before you need your bedtime officially changed. So if you want to be in bed by 9:00pm to be asleep no later than 10pm but you are used to staying up until 11pm, make your bedtime 10:45pm the first night, again the second night, then up it to 10:30pm, try that a couple nights, then 10:15pm and so on until you reach your goal. That way you take baby steps to slowly get your body and habits used to the new schedule without trying to go at it cold turkey. I tend to try changing cold turkey and no wonder I don’t form habits! I end up getting frustrated that I drop the new habits quickly and revert to my old ways. Baby steps are one of the best ways to get yourself to make real changes that last.
When I need to just take a break from my day and waste a few minutes because I can, and frankly need to, I compulsively get on Imgur. It’s a website and app where people post random memes, short videos, comics, cool art, adorable animals, and other funny things. Many of you have probably heard of it but I’m always surprised when people say they’ve never seen it.
Now, you do have to be careful, it can have ALL sorts of wild stuff on it, sometimes nudity even makes it on there. Definitely not kid friendly. Only for adults and the occasional teen. But you can filter through what kinds of things you want to see and only get posts for those specific options. I go through phases with this site where I get on it way too much then forget it exists but am currently in an obsessive period.
What’s cool is that you can share stuff you are doing on the site and if people like it, they will vote it up to the front page! I have never posted, I am a proud lurker who consumes all that others post on there...shamelessly. I’m a big fan of lurking. But if you need a place to find random stuff to look at for a few minutes here and there throughout the day or at night when winding down for bed, Imgur is a great resource. Think of it as a Pinterest that doesn’t make you feel fat or like your home needs updating every week. Depending on what topics you choose to see.
Since we talked about the news including a rather heavy topic, I wanted to revisit the purpose of this podcast a bit. My friend, Joanna, shared this great TEDTalk on Facebook that I thought hit the nail on the head regarding joy. Ingrid Fetell Lee spoke about looking for joy and discovering it in the physical world. The talk is about 14 minutes long but is very much worth watching. Check it out! Some things she said I wanted to mention here for us to think about.
When opening the talk, Ingrid discusses what joy is or rather asks what is joy. She states, “...I found that even scientists don't always agree, and they sometimes use the words "joy" and "happiness" and "positivity" more or less interchangeably. But broadly speaking, when psychologists use the word joy, what they mean is an intense, momentary experience of positive emotion -- one that makes us smile and laugh and feel like we want to jump up and down. And this is actually a technical thing. That feeling of wanting to jump up and down is one of the ways that scientists measure joy. It's different than happiness, which measures how good we feel over time. Joy is about feeling good in the moment, right now. And this was interesting to me because as a culture, we are obsessed with the pursuit of happiness, and yet in the process, we kind of overlook joy.”
She goes on to talk about the different things people kept saying brought them joy. Bubbles, ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, hot air balloons, fireworks. Ingrid discovered something interesting. She said, “I saw all these patterns: round things ... pops of bright color ... symmetrical shapes ... a sense of abundance and multiplicity ... a feeling of lightness or elevation. When I saw it this way, I realized that though the feeling of joy is mysterious and elusive, we can access it through tangible, physical attributes, or what designers call aesthetics, a word that comes from the same root as the Greek word "aísthomai," which means, "I feel," "I sense," "I perceive." And since these patterns were telling me that joy begins with the senses, I began calling them "Aesthetics of Joy"; the sensations of joy. And in the wake of this discovery, I noticed something that as I walked around, I began spotting little moments of joy everywhere I went -- a vintage yellow car or a clever piece of street art. It was like I had a pair of rose-colored glasses, and now that I knew what to look for, I was seeing it everywhere. It was like these little moments of joy were hidden in plain sight.”
The talk is really interesting and rather inspiring. While it’s a good one to listen to, it’s more impactful if you watch the video. If you need a reminder of how to look for simple joys in your life, give this a listen. I’m sure it will help you to look closer and smile broader.
Thanks for listening to some of the joy found in the world these past couple of weeks. If you have stories of good people doing good things in your neighborhood or anywhere, send them to me! I’ve even got an email, firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at me @joybingepodcast. TELL ME THE GOOD STUFF!
The music for this podcast is "Industrious Ferret" by Kevin MacLeod. Thanks for listening and have a great week!