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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

The gift of giving.

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

As the holidays roll around, the spirit of giving is in the air. Many of us give gifts to close friends and family, cards to the people we want to wish-well, goodies to neighbors, contributions or volunteer our time to local non-profits.

However, with so many requests for donations around the holidays, including #GivingTuesday, Salvation Army bell-ringers in stores, emails, snail mail donation requests, etc., it can be easy to subconsciously glaze over the seemingly endless number of causes. As many of us go about our holiday shopping for gifts, enjoying meals with family, etc., it can be easy to start feeling like the wave of donation requests we’re bombarded with are in support of some distant community, mostly un-related to ourselves.

There’s a food pantry right in your own community, serving neighbors you cross paths with daily. Almost every Greater Cincinnati community has a chapter of St. Vincent de Paul volunteers making home visits to people in need of assistance, from Oakley to Green Township to the West End of Cincinnati. It’s likely that there’s a family living just a few streets away from you who are in need of food, clothing, a bed, or help with utility bills because they recently fell on hard times.

Most people that need help are too proud to reach out directly to a neighbor and ask for help, but fortunately we have a wide variety of non-profits who offer hope and help for these struggling neighbors. Most of these organizations rely on the generosity of the community for funding and support to carry out their work – and in many cases are not funded with government or United Way support. Rather, they rely heavily on holiday donations to fund their services well into the upcoming year, which brings us back to the vast number of donation requests throughout the season. Although the countless requests can feel overwhelming, helping is our duty and frankly an honor. Anyone who is more fortunate than someone else should feel compelled to help others.

If you’re unfamiliar with the non-profit organizations, here is a list of several who are doing great work in Cincinnati to consider supporting in some way this holiday season:

Diagnosis Google.

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

The Internet is an always-evolving tool that puts the world at our fingertips. From social media to DIY tutorials and video streaming, it connects us, entertains us and educates us. When we get a flat-tire, need help with a new recipe, or have a leak in the bathroom, it can save us both time and money – with information that’s available instantly. The Internet gives us access to endless amount of information, but should we always utilize it? Or, are some things better left un-Googled?

According to Tech Times, out of all the things we Google, symptom-related searches comprise about 1 percent of Google searches. Many people turn to the Internet for help in identifying illnesses and health conditions behind symptoms that they feel or experience. In response to the popularity of symptom searches, Google even introduced a new feature called “symptom search,” to help users find answers to symptom-related queries more easily.

Unfortunately, relying on search results for a diagnosis based on symptoms, or ‘Google diagnosing’, is often un-useful and frustrating for both health professionals and patients. Google diagnosing can turn even the most basic illness, such as a common cold, into a life-threatening disease like cancer. It can also turn a sane, healthy person into a hypochondriac, by serving up a long list of life-threatening diseases for common adulthood occurrences. For example, the symptoms fatigue, headache and upset stomach entered into a symptom search return a long, frightening list of medical conditions, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, chronic kidney disease, mumps, Lyme disease and more.

Aside from causing unnecessary panic, Google diagnosing also causes a giant headache for healthcare professionals (… at least the headache is assumed to be from patients who Google diagnose…according to Google, it could also be from a blood clot, brain tumor or carbon monoxide poisoning…). By generating outrageous lists of diseases, Google diagnosing can create impossible, unreasonable patients who really believe they are at risk for serious illness or death, oh my! It can convince every average Joe that they’re more informed and qualified for diagnosing their symptoms than an actual certified, educated doctor.

While Google is informative and helpful for a diverse range of topics, it cannot replace the years of education and experience that healthcare professionals possess.

The true you.

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Social media is a tool that allows us to connect and stay in touch with people like never before, from new networking connections to old high-school friends. This makes social media profiles often the most public and widely viewed representations of individuals today. While it’s wise to create social media profiles that make the best possible impression on both old and new connections, sharing information or photos that create a skewed or unrealistic portrayal is futile.

So why do people share old and outdated photos as social media profile pictures that usually show a MUCH younger version of themselves? Realizing that people want to make the best possible impression is one thing, but what happens at the high-school reunion, when people are shocked to see what they really look like? Or, how about running into a virtual business connection at an industry conference and receiving a blank stare because they do not recognize the much older and different looking person standing in front of them?

In addition to younger photos, the content people share is often skewed, presenting friends or the public with an elevated or more accomplished version of a person. People often share only positive information and happy photos, instead of providing real representations of their life.

According to Cambridge psychologist Craig Malkin, even small gaps between social media users’ real and virtual identities can cause people to feel bad about themselves. They know that the images they are building up online aren’t genuine. Hiding less flattering aspects of their lives can damage their self-esteem, he said. The problem: they’re not truly the people who are being rewarded with “likes.” “Whenever we feel like we can’t be fully who we are in order to be liked or be admired, it’s bound to affect our self-esteem,” said Malkin.

Since social media is used, in part, to gain attention, it can be dangerous to equate “likes” or attention with self worth. When we post something that doesn’t get a lot of likes, we can feel rejected, which causes our self-esteem to take a hit.

Despite the prevalent use of social media, eventually people meet in the real world. So what drives people to create misleading virtual personas when they know the authentic version will inevitably be revealed? Are they mistaking social media “likes” as a real measure of self-worth? Instead of creating a hyper-idealistic social media profiles, being authentic is key to enhancing self-esteem and staying true to oneself where it actually counts – in the real world.

The tissue test.

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Have you seen the latest ad for Crest 3D White Whitestrips? It’s the one where Crest encourages people to test the color of their teeth against the color of a tissue to see if they’re too yellow – “the tissue test.”

We’re already constantly bombarded with unrealistic beauty expectations for our body, hair, makeup, clothing, etc. Now, Crest has created an unrealistic standard for our teeth.

The availability of teeth whitening products is no secret, so it’s safe to assume that most people who choose not to whiten their teeth are content with the way they look – or maybe they’ve never given it much thought, or are just plain lazy about how they look. Crest Whitestrips and other similar products are a wonderful product for people who are unhappy with the color of their teeth. But, this “tissue test” is blatantly targeted at those people who may have previously been happy with their smile or just oblivious to the fact that their teeth aren’t bright white. It’s yet another way that marketers show people with perfectly beautiful teeth just how unacceptable they might look, all with the goal of selling more products.

It’s a brilliant ad that shows problem and solution very well. It will likely result in new customers for Crest and other brands in the category, but at what cost? This is yet another example of great advertising that helps to set a potentially unobtainable standard.


Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

A recent BuzzFeed video raised an important question for women everywhere… “What if I knew I was beautiful?”

Through the lyrics of love songs, the video exemplifies the way women are told that insecurity is an attractive trait.

“You don’t know you’re beautiful, oh oh, that’s what makes you beautiful” – What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction

“Tap on my window, knock on my door, I want to make you feel beautiful” – She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5

“Girl let me love you, and I will love you, until you learn to love yourself” – Let Me Love You by Ne-Yo

In each of these songs, the message is that a woman should be sitting around, feeling down, until someone comes along and tells her she’s beautiful… But what if she already knew?

Women who exhibit self-confidence can be in danger of acquiring negative labels such as, they are vain or full of themselves. A surprising amount of women are in the unhealthy mindset of being under-confident primarily due to society and people they encounter everyday. Instead of exhibiting confidence and accepting compliments, many women deflect this praise with negativity.

But what would happen if women chose to love themselves, without the need for validation from others? What if they chose confidence over insecurity?

As individuals, we are responsible for providing the validation needed to be confident and to succeed. By rejecting pop culture’s absurd notion that insecurity is beautiful, a woman can embrace a strong, positive self-image and give other women the confidence to do the same. We can teach each other how to treat others and ourselves; because everyone should have the right to know they’re beautiful, from the inside out.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. … And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson