When America Realized Science Was Cool

When America Realized Science Was Cool

The eclipse was spectacular, wasn't it?
Jessica
Jessica
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This past week, a solar eclipse came across the continental United States, and 14 states saw the eclipse from their own backyards. I, too, was in my yard, with eclipse glasses, watching the two orbs slowly cross paths. The excitement I saw from acquaintances, friends, and family members leading up to the eclipse, however, kind of baffled me. I had a feeling people would be interested in the eclipse, but having a pair of eclipse glasses was literally akin to dealing drugs - if someone found out you had an extra, they would go out of their way to get it and offer you money for it. I should know - because this happened to me on Monday, the day of the eclipse. A love of science and a feeling of compassion led me to staying home an extra 45 minutes before I ran pre-eclipse errands just to ensure a random young woman got her eclipse glasses. And she was getting them from me.

She had frantically messaged me asking if I could give her a pair. She offered me money, even. She wanted to repay me, but in reality, I am not sure anyone could ever repay me. If I had a 1,000 pairs of eclipse glasses, I still would have given them out for free, but no amount of money could possibly give me something in return. In the days leading up to the eclipse, I was so much as directing people where to buy them or what they could do if they didn't get a pair.

But, still, I would be lying if I didn't say I was baffled. This whole thing was very surreal to me - and not because I saw the eclipse. For a moment, more than once, I was utterly confused. I was confused by the young woman who so desperately wanted to get glasses. I was confused by the hoardes of people standing outside their homes and businesses, looking up to the sky with or without glasses, vying for even a short glimpse of the eclipse. I was baffled by that someone was thanking me profusely for knowing what I was talking about. I was seen as an authority.

It wasn't always that way.

It's so weird because I need you to picture what being nerdy used to be like. Being nerdy and enthusiastic and happy to learn about science isn't what it is now. Schoolkids were taken outside to see the eclipse with teachers and aides. Parents went out of their way to find a live stream so they could tell their kids all about it. Science was abound. Science is cool.

When I was a kid in school, I was the nerdy kid. The very same people vying for eclipse glasses were family friends of the people who, on a daily basis, put a target on my back for loving science. The very same people who were vying for eclipse glasses were the family - mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins - of the people who, every day, made dinosaur noises in the cafeteria, as I sat alone in the corner, listening as groups of people mocked my interests. The same people who wanted eclipse glasses were the teachers and principals who did nothing, who let people stomp all over my passion, and let me sit in a corner every lunch period. Who let me not eat my sandwich. Who let me cry into my own arms in 5th grade, playing alone every recess - because nobody else wanted to be there.

The very same people vying for eclipse glasses could have been the people who drove me to the corner of the playground every day.

The young woman who wanted the glasses this afternoon ultimately led me to a choice. Do I take it out on the world? Do I decide to say "I told you so"? Do I decide to spit in the faces of the collective society who decided to let all of that happen? Who, in general, stood by idly, watching me writher in pain every day, retreating more and more, taking solace in my dinosaurs, weather, and rocks? After all, rocks won't judge you.

It seems not. And that's why I could never be repaid. Being kind when people are asking me scientific advice or help, are just making them more like me. And the nerdy kid won't become what you were.

Hopefully, with the eclipse, they've all seen the light, literally and metaphorically. I truly have no desire to speak to these people, not now, not ever - but I can only hope they've had a change of heart. It's nice that there's a kid in school who's being encouraged to look at the sky, the ground, and the world around him or her and wonder. It's nice that science is now seen as something widely accepted and interesting. Science is no longer the weird kid thing.

But if anyone knows it hasn't always been this way, it's me. The misfits, the freaks, and the weird kids have done a lot to get us there, no matter where they ended up.

As for the girl who wanted the glasses, I gave them to her. I didn't take her money. She told me she wanted to give me something back, and she did just by making my younger self feel a little less weird. I told her to just enjoy the eclipse and that was enough.

You can make it up to people like me by saying thanks to a nerd, and I'm sorry, if applicable.

After all, you might have gotten eclipse glasses from one.



Cover Image Credit: Pacificsciencecenter.org

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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A Walk Through The Woods That Eased My Pain

After a week of constant pain, a walk through pine flatwoods helped me feel alive and at peace.

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A week of constant pain left me exhausted. All I wanted to do was lie in bed. I didn't want to go anywhere, but my husband wanted to work from the park, so we went. After sitting on the bench for a while, uncomfortable and aching, I remembered sometimes when you're in pain it helps to walk it off, so I decided to take the trail through the woods.

The woods at this park, like most parks in Florida, are made up of various tall pines and low-lying shrubs. It is called a pine flatwood. I walked the path slowly, not in a rush to get anywhere, just there to enjoy it. The pine left a sweet odor. Slash pines and longleaf pines towered above, their long straight trunks topped with long bright green needles that stood against the blue Florida sky.

My back still ached a little but felt much better, so I kept moving. The path weaved through the woods. Partially shaded by the trees. People passed me, but I didn't mind. They were busy exercising; I was busy enjoying. I loved the dense saw palmetto that lined the forest floor. Some woods are darker or mostly brown colored, especially on the floor that is often covered in fallen wood and leaves, but not these woods, these woods are vibrant shades of green, green that makes you feel alive. It made me feel more alive than I had in days.

Typically, when I take walks in the park, I spend time watching the birds, seeing which ones I can identify. This time on the trail there weren't many birds, so my attention was drawn to the pines, palmettos, and other plants instead. Often, these plants go unnoticed, serving as a backdrop to the more exciting parts of nature. But as I turned my attention to the trees, I noticed how stunning they were.

I looked up noticing how their branches spread in front of the sky. Then I looked at the endless palmettos, extending through the woods. The trees towered above me, yet they were a comfort, a shelter, that helped take my mind off the aching. The trees are still and peaceful, helping me to be still too. To stand confidently and breathe, and to also rest, clear my head, and know that it'll all be okay.

I walked through the trees for a while, not wanting to stop. It's important we all learn from trees. In their still, patience they know things that we fast-paced humans often forget in our busy lives. Life needs to be enjoyed, slowed down and still, our minds and our bodies. And when we do, it's healing. Walk slowly, take it in, notice the trees that we often forget to notice because they are still, but that doesn't mean they aren't the wisest of us all.

My aching was not cured, but as I returned from my walk, I felt at peace, rejuvenated, alive. Like the bright green towering pines, I stood proud and breathed in the fresh air.

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