Publication Round Up

It’s been a busy week! Here’s what I’ve published this week (you know, if you’re looking for some light reading).

Look for the next post in a few days to learn about my story on the Inca Trail!

 

For Almost Fearless:

How To Start Houseswapping-With Your Kids

10 Microadventures For Your Family

Gifts To Get Your Tweens Outside More

For ActiveKids:

13 Stress Relief Tips for Kids

The Best Ways To Enjoy The Snow (Without Skis)

 

 

 

 

 

This Picture In A Thousand Words

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Sunrise in the Andes. My 12-year-old (T) is bounding down the Inca Trail, jumping over rocks, running up hills and chatting with other trekkers, excited to reach Inti Punku, the famed Sun Gate and the entrance to Machu Picchu.

 

“He is like a mountain goat the last two days,” our guide, Elias, says to me. “I didn’t expect this.”

 

“I know. I tried to explain.”

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In June of this year, my son and I hiked the famed Inca Trail. My son, hungry after a 2-hour drive, and just before the start of the four-day trek, wolfed down a cheese sandwich in town. Wrong choice. Combine that cheese sandwich with a tendency towards anxiety and a touch of altitude sickness and he hit the trifecta of “things that make you feel lousy.” Then worse. Then he was pretty sure he was going to die, right there at the Passport Control station at Kilometre 82, the start of the Inca Trail.

 

He freaked the freak out.

 

“I’m fine mom. I can make it, just to…there.” T threw himself onto a bench. “I can make it” so slowly, to the next rock, ten yards away.

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(Note photo where I am carrying both backpacks. T is….standing.)

 

So what do you do from there?

 

It takes months to get a permit for the Inca trail. Per the Peruvian government, you have to take a guide and a team. You have one shot, to enter on the day of your permit.

 

My kid, the most adventurous kid I know, the one who charges up hills with a backpack, drops into anything on his skis and checked Vertfest off his list at twelve year old, was splayed dramatically across a rock. My kid, who also lacks a single chill bone in his body, whose exuberance for life is matched sometimes by his frustration when things go wrong and by anxiety when things go really wrong, was scared. My kid, who a day before, wanted to hike trail “more than anything!” but wasn’t so sure in this moment.

 

Our guide thought we should turn around. The passport control agent suggested a doctor’s visit.

 

T and I thought we should go. We had a heart to heart and he realized that yes, he didn’t feel great, but he was also in the middle of an anxiety-induced meltdown. We both know him well enough to know that the best solution is a little time and space to calm down. Now try to explain the idea of childhood anxiety to your very highly trained guide, whose job is to keep people safe, and who, I’m sure, did not want to carry my kid out off the Inca trail.

 

Let’s just say he was skeptical.

 

I convinced him (ok, begged, but really nicely) to let us go two miles. If, at two miles, T still looked lousy, we would turn around.

 

Our guide agreed. He told us later he figured it would be a slow two-mile slog and then we’d all turn around and head home. He didn’t think there was any way T would make it.

 

The funny thing about anxiety, at least for T, is that once he calms down, he’s ready to face whatever he was scared of, right then. I think he likes to know that he can choose how to experience the world, even if it didn’t seem that way in the moment.

 

So, after ¾ of a mile, T took his backpack back. After a mile, he picked up his pace. By two miles, he was chatting with a group of hikers who stopped for snacks at one of the houses along the trail. (Because, exuberance for life. He’s the best.)

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We finished our snack and shouldered our backpacks. I looked at Elias, waiting to hear his decision. Did he think T could make it? They were already heading up the trail, talking about the ruins, the campsites and the people we would see on our four-day walk to Machu Picchu.

 

Learning New Things

One of the reasons I started over at Almost Fearless was to learn. And learn and learn. Because yes, I’m one of those people who would happily stay in school forever and one of the things I really love about writing is that it provides an excellent reason to research new things. It’s like my job is learning: about people, about places, about cultures or food or parenting or sports or investing. I have a reason (excuse?) to study everything. Which I truly love.

This week, it’s been learning how to integrate social media into a publication. I’m not sure I have the best eye yet for photos, but I’m getting better every day, and surprising myself by enjoying finding the photos. This week’s topic: Toddlers Who Shred and Tear Up The Slopes.

For anyone wondering why I chose that topic, here are exhibits A, B and C. My kids when they were tiny skiers:

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Almost Fearless!

Hi All! I’m posting a link to my first Almost Fearless piece. This is such a cool new magazine-it’s all about outdoor adventure and world travel with kids! (Sound like anyone you might know?) I’ve been officially doing this freelancing thing for almost a year now, and I realized that like anyone starting a new career, I could benefit from some behind the scenes immersion. The last time I took a journalism class, I didn’t even have email. Or a cell phone, let alone social media. So I’ll be spending a few hours a week over the next six months learning more about submissions and copy editing and research, and how a publication functions in today’s media. And some of that, of course, is writing for them. Make sure you go to their homepage too-I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty cool to have written the “featured article”.

Here’s the article:

https://www.almostfearless.com/paper-lanterns-hopes-dreams-burning-trees/

And here’s the home page:

https://www.almostfearless.com/

Life, Liberty and An Active Shooter Plan

I woke up to an email from my daughter’s middle school in my inbox this morning. The email explained that the school district had been working with law enforcement last night, trying to determine if reported threats of violence were credible. The police received several phone calls from students and parents, citing whispers about a gun in school. Today.

 

Las Vegas happened two days ago.

 

My daughter sat across the table from me. Between bites of cereal, she sang along with the radio.

 

Then she asked why I was crying.

 

She’s eleven. She loves books and music and sleeps with a stuffed animal. She is already terrified of mass shootings.

 

Should I tell her there were threats? While police believed there was no validity to the threats, there were armed police at the school today as a precaution. Was 6:45 this morning the time for another discussion about public shootings and a threat to her school? It seems like I ask myself these questions every day.

 

If you are a proponent of an unfettered second amendment, I have a few questions for you instead.

 

Why does your right to stockpile weapons of war trump my daughter’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

 

Is my daughter reveling in her liberty, in her freedom to fear for her safety in every public space? My child is scared of being shot on the street. At a concert. A movie. The mall. Or school. And there is precedent for every fear. Maybe it doesn’t curtail her actions or change her movements. But living in fear is its own type of prison, one fortified by every person who claims his right to collect guns is greater than her right to safety.

 

I was crying while I dropped my eleven-year-old off for school in front of armed police. There is nothing happy or freeing about worrying if your child will get shot at school. We reached a state in America years ago that the pursuit of happiness fell far behind the pursuit of money and ammunition from the NRA.

 

What part of “a well-regulated” Militia don’t you understand?

 

A well regulated Militia. It’s literally right there in the first sentence. How does “well-regulated” translate to barely regulated? Unregulated?

 

How about the security of the State?

 

How did the Bill of Rights get so twisted, that the security of the State doesn’t include citizens feeling safe on the street? Children feeling safe in their schools?

 

Part of the job of government is to regulate danger. We have laws relating to the operation of motor vehicles, food safety standards and recalls for products that “might” hurt an infant. Guns are treated as some magic object, free from the cumbersome burden of product safety research or regulation.

 

On the subject of research, why isn’t there more research into guns as a public health threat?

 

In 2014-2015, there were four laboratory-confirmed cases of Ebola which originated in the United States. This caused the CDC to revise guidelines, to monitor the patients’ friends and possible contacts. Nationally, staff was trained on Ebola containment protocols. The military was deployed to West Africa. Research led to changes in patient care and a coordinated public response across multiple countries and continents.

 

In 2017, 1516 people have died from gun violence. Yet the CDC isn’t allowed to research gun violence.

 

What about the right to an appropriate public education?

 

Off the top of my head, I know four kids who stayed home from school today. They didn’t go to school because they were scared they would be shot. The parents felt strongly enough to allow those kids to stay home.

 

As part of an appropriate public education, the middle school already has active shooter drills. Every kid has an “active shooter plan” in place. Most of the kids plan to run for the woods.

 

I’m not upset with the school district. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and they have to do what they can to keep the kids safe, including an “active shooter” plan. I appreciate their taking threats seriously, involving law enforcement and keeping the parents informed. I’m sure they feel as helpless as I do. But to claim that gun violence doesn’t impact learning is somewhere between obtuse and criminal.

 

What do I say to my daughter, every day? Do I ignore the threats? Do I discuss it? Do you truly believe these discussions make an eleven year-old feel free?

 

I sent my daughter to school today because I believe that if I keep her out of public spaces, out of school and away from her own pursuit of a best life, I let the gun interests terrorizing our nation win.

 

But what do you say to an eleven year old who is already scared? Ignore it? Do I suggest she just hug her stuffed bunny a little closer at night and hope for the best?

 

There’s not much freedom to choose, honestly. When she gets home today, we will have our first discussion about the idea of “if you hear something, say something.” I will teach my eleven-year-old to police the halls of her own school and community, to look out for her own safety and that of her peers. There’s little choice in a country so in love with guns that for many people keeping an arsenal is more important than keeping her safe.

 

You really want to argue that teaching my daughter to run for the woods in the event of a school shooting is allowing for the pursuit of happiness?

Socially Responsible Investing and Climate Change

Here’s the first in a series on Socially Responsible Investing. I’ll talk to people in finance as well as those involved in a variety of social justice movements. The first interview is with the Rev. Jenny Phillips, an amazing woman who helped steer the United Methodist Church towards divestment from fossil fuels.

https://thebillfold.com/search?q=socially%20responsible%20investing