Facing Down Environmental Grief

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[This piece originally published at Scientific American] Despite a growing body of evidence that climate change is wreaking havocon our environment and psyches, many people still resist making small lifestyle changes that may help mitigate disaster. The logic of climate science has not shaken enough people from their apparent complacency; neither has fear. So what will? Washington State–based thanatologist Kriss Kevorkian—a specialist in death, dying and bereavement—suggests that real motivation depends on people acknowledging their “environmental grief,” a term she coined after studying the decline of killer whale populations. Grief over loss of human life is assigned a series of stages but Kevorkian (no relation to famed assisted-suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian) notes that we lack an analogous lexicon for the … Read More

JordanFacing Down Environmental Grief

Fighting Fake News With Critical Thinking Skills

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[This post originally appeared at GOOD] In a time when fake news has become “a game of Whack-a-Mole,” popping up on a variety of media platforms while duping audiences of all political affiliations, teaching young people to discern the difference between what is or isn’t reliable information has become an unusually difficult, and urgent, challenge. Fortunately, a new study published in the journal Science and Education has brought renewed hope to a classic skillset: critical thinking. According to the study, it isn’t that critical thinking has been abandoned in the education system. Instead, it’s that we’ve relegated this crucial ability to the realm of the humanities. Lead study author Anne Collins McLaughlin, an associate professor of psychology at North Carolina State University, believes that this kind of limited … Read More

JordanFighting Fake News With Critical Thinking Skills

Can “Rational Compassion” Fight Burnout?

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[This post originally appeared at Quartz] It’s hard to read the news these days. As I write this, wildfire rages uncontained in my old hometown of Santa Rosa, California, and other parts of Sonoma and Napa counties, taking out friends’ homes and familiar haunts. We’re barely two weeks out from the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, and hurricanes have devastated Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas. Revelations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades of alleged sexual assault and sexual harassment have opened the floodgates for women across industries to share devastating stories about their abusers. My heart can barely take it. If you’re like me, the only way to cope with the weight of so much tragedy is to go numb. … Read More

JordanCan “Rational Compassion” Fight Burnout?

When You Feel “Chemistry” With Someone, What’s Actually Going On?

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[This post originally appeared at Mental Floss] We know chemistry when we feel it with another person, but we don’t always know why we’re drawn to one person over another. Is it just a cascade of neurotransmitters and hormones conspiring to rush you toward reproduction? Is it attraction borne of a set of shared values? Or is it bonding over specific experiences that create intimacy? It’s probably a combination of all three, plus ineffable qualities that even matchmaking services can’t perfectly nail down. “Scientists now assume, with very few exceptions, that any behavior has features of both genetics and history. It’s nature and nurture,” Nicole Prause, a sexual psychophysiologist and neuroscientist, tells Mental Floss. She is the founder of Liberos, … Read More

JordanWhen You Feel “Chemistry” With Someone, What’s Actually Going On?

Too Much Stress Can Make You Physically Ill, Science Shows

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[This piece was originally published at NBC News]: It’s not a surprise when cold and flu season strike once a year with aches, pains and bodily misery. However, something even more virulent has the ability to make us ill year-round: stress. I know a bit about the link between stress and illness first hand. Four years ago, I set out to regenerate a career that had stalled after the birth of my first (and only) child. I said yes to every work opportunity and then some, becoming so overloaded I had to write lists on an hourly basis just to keep everything straight. I traded in wellness and sleep for achievement and a paycheck. It all came to a head … Read More

JordanToo Much Stress Can Make You Physically Ill, Science Shows

Healing Generational Trauma

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This piece was originally published at Rewire Me: It’s easy to see the traumas of your ancestors as merely painful blips in your family history. However, more and more research suggests that you stand the chance of inheriting an echo of these traumas in your very cells—in your epigenome—which may manifest in health conditions, a lowered ability to process stress, and/or predispositions to anxiety and depression. Though each of us has a genetic code forged in the strands of our DNA that does not change, which you can compare to a computer, genes can, essentially, turn “on” or “off” via a process known as methylation in response to environmental changes (from trauma to chemical exposure). These changes to your genes, known as … Read More

JordanHealing Generational Trauma

They’re Coming For You: Survivor’s Guilt and New Anti-Semtism

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In light of fresh hate crimes, anti-Semitism, and the terrifyingly nationalist moves of the Trump administration, I’m republishing this piece, originally published at Jewish Journal. * * * Never forget, goes the Jewish pledge after the Holocaust. But I am guilty of forgetting. The day my grandmother, “Oma” died, peacefully at home, Opa handed me a stack of papers, chewing his lips, a sign that he had something difficult to tell me. I looked closely to see mimeographs of very old letters, in his native German, though he spoke Hebrew and English just as fluently. “My father,” he said at last, brows clenched in a V. “These are the last letters he ever sent me. Begging me to help him out of Germany. … Read More

JordanThey’re Coming For You: Survivor’s Guilt and New Anti-Semtism

Cathedral of Doubts: Writing Prompt

JordanMusings, Writing. Practice.

If you’d like to join me in the “process over product” writing prompt game I’ve undertaken in order to write more fiction in 2017, today’s writing prompt from my Writing Prompts app came from a suggested setting: “Cathedral.” And attitude: “Cynical.” I hope you’ll join me in playing your writing in 2017! Cathedral: Maggie could tell by the way Abby kept raising her eyebrows and grinning that she was supposed to feel impressed by the splendor, the grandeur of the Cathedral with its pointy ornate parts and spirals and architectural conceits that likely all probably had fancy names for things like wall and joint and screw. But all she felt was cold. Why did she always forget to bring a … Read More

JordanCathedral of Doubts: Writing Prompt