The sky is the limit: celebrating Autism Awareness

AAApril is Autism Awareness Month and each year I like to share a personal story about my family’s experience with the disorder in an effort to raise awareness, dispel myths, and promote neurodiversity. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect over 3 million individuals in the United States and tens of millions worldwide. While there remains no definitive cause or cure for the disorder, we can all show our support for individuals living with ASD by educating ourselves about the condition, supporting organizations like Autism Speaks, and listening to (and hopefully sharing) the stories of life “on the spectrum”. Here is mine:

This past summer, I think that I may have experienced one of the proudest moments that I’ve had as a parent. I arose in the middle of the night to take my anxious but excited autistic 14-year-old son to the airport. He had a 6:00 a.m. flight to catch and the airport is two hours away. It was not his first time flying; but it was his first time traveling alone. The thought of putting your child on a plane by his or herself is unnerving enough for parents of neurotypical children. Most parents of a child on the spectrum wouldn’t even think of it. But I’m not most parents. Never have been.

Since the day that we received his diagnosis, I have been laser-focused on raising an independent, confident, and self-aware young man. Like Ray Charles’ mother in the movie Ray, I didn’t want my boy to be a cripple. I didn’t want him to end up as someone’s charity case. I didn’t want him to view his disability as a perpetual handicap, always rendering him helpless and less than. I wanted him to grow up understanding that he is differently-abled, as we all are, and that he does not have to be defined by his limitations. To raise a child this way means taking risks. It means allowing him to struggle sometimes so that he learns how to rescue himself. It means treating him as I would any other child and not accepting autism as an excuse. It means trusting him to fly 2,000 miles by himself.

As we sat at the gate waiting for boarding to begin, I glanced at my lanky, awkward boy (looking far younger than his 14 years). He had his eyes closed and was taking deep cleansing breaths. It’s a coping strategy that he learned in therapy. It was in this moment that I knew he’d be alright. He was learning to take care of himself and defeat his own fears. As he walked down the corridor and onto the plane, I relinquished everything to the heavens–my faith in God, my faith in my own unorthodox parenting skills, and my faith in my brave, brave boy. While I waited to see the aircraft taxi down the runway carrying my precious cargo, I noticed another set of parents doing the same. Their eight-year-old son was flying alone for the first time as well. As the father very visibly struggled to fight back tears, I leaned over and reassured them, “He’s gonna be alright.”

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VeritiaSimone fashion week in Atlanta

VSDo you love the feel of a new pair of shoes? Do you get excited when there is a sale at your favorite clothing store? Do you enjoy seeing all the latest fashion collections and trends? These symptoms are clear: you’re a fashionista. Many of us fashion aficionados can agree that fashion shows are where all the fashion magic happens. No doubt a majority have heard of the various shows around the world: Paris, London, New York, etc. And Atlanta should be added to the list.

On April 10, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. VeritiaSimone proudly presents “A Cause of Elegance Fashion Show” at the Georgia World Conference Center. The Red Carpet begins at 7:00 p.m. This fashion show is a brilliant opportunity for upcoming designers and young entrepreneurs to be exposed to the industry and to present their designs. It allows designers to cut out all the fashion ideas inside their heads and sew them into colorful fabrics for all to see. This event will also be an exciting experience for all fashion lovers to get a glimpse into the glitz and glamour of the fashion world and see all of the latest collections.

The VeritiaSimone fashion show, founded by owners and designers Kimbria Simone Chapman and Amber Veritia Freeman, is an expression of their dedication and extreme love for fashion. Designing stylish and quality clothing for both men and women is a passion— a passion that fuels their desires to bring a splash of color to the world so that everyone can feel as glamorous as the clothes their wearing.

The “A Cause for Elegance Fashion Show” is an event you don’t want to miss and will be nearly impossible to forget. Tickets are still available and if you’re a diehard fashionista, these tickets will grant you access into a world full of edgy and new fashion designs. Let your fashionista flag wave proudly and we’ll see you there!

For tickets, click here.

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Bridges still uncrossed: The new face of racism in the 21st century

FullSizeRenderMarch began hopeful, the way Spring is supposed to make one feel. Countless ceremonies commemorated the historic crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Ava Duvernay’s Selma set the tone. Critically acclaimed, though apparently not Oscar-worthy, Duvernay’s depiction of the pivotal demonstration that introduced an otherwise sleeping nation to the true face of Jim Crow seemed to arrive right on time. It came just as the nation began recovering from the fallout of the unjustified deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the subsequent unrest that followed. With the slogan “Black Lives Matter” on everyone’s radar, we seemed ripe for a national conversation on race. As March marched on, it became painfully evident that the ground gained between Selma and Ferguson gets smaller and smaller the closer you look at it.

Déjà vu

Let’s hold hands, take a deep breath, and say it together: Unarmed Black men getting killed by the police is perfectly normal in the United States. They say that the truth will set you free and acknowledgement is the first step towards recovery. For those still in denial, the events of March 6, 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin should serve as a wake-up call. Nineteen-year old Tony Robinson was shot and killed by a Madison police officer. Yes, he was Black. Yes, he was unarmed.

Just to prove how insanely cyclical the state sanctioned murder of African-American men and boys has become, I will just use my own exact words from an August 12, 2014 article:

“…the shooting has triggered… a nauseating feeling of deja vu across Black America. We’ve been here before. We’ve lost so many sons to police violence that we no longer feel shock or awe in these instances. The only emotion left is a numb familiar grieving. As a community, we’ve become uniquely accustomed to the tears of inconsolable mothers. We are far too well acquainted with the sight of youthful faces lying in caskets. It is our tragic second nature to feel abandoned by those who have promised to protect us. It seems at times that the great burden of being Black in America is the traumatic and near constant expectation of injustice.”

If I had to re-write the epitaph of our perpetual misery every time that we lost a young man this way, as the mother of a 15-year-old African-American young man, I might well become physically ill. Thank God for the cut and paste function.

You Think Parker’s a Problem Now…

By the second week in March, the whole world had labeled a predominately white and male institution as racist. It wasn’t the Ferguson Police Department or the NYPD or any overarching law enforcement agency for that matter. The unlucky bearers of the dreaded “r-word” were members of a fraternity whose historical roots trace back to the antebellum South. Members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, Incorporated were recorded singing a racist chant on their way to a party. I don’t know which is more aggravating: the fact that people were actually shocked that a predominately white frat founded in 1856 had a racist chant as a part of their tradition, or the fact that some viewed the actions of the members to be the absolute pinnacle of racist behavior. So this may be a news flash to some, a drunk white boy saying “nigger” on a bus full of white folks is the least of Black folks’ problems.

One of the alleged ringleaders was identified as Parker Rice. To his credit, Parker apologized for his embarrassing behavior, blamed alcohol and tradition, and swore that he was not a racist. And I believe Parker. We’ve penalized him for breaking a cardinal rule of race relations, but the environment and culture in which Parker has come of age will prove to make him much more dangerous several years from now, long after he’s graduated. When Parker is the Vice President of some large and influential institution (perhaps a bank or university) and he’s given the resumes of two potential candidates for a single position, even though both candidates’ credentials are the same, Parker will invariably choose Daniel Smith over Dante’ Smith when given the chance. And it won’t be because Parker learned some racist chant while pledging. There are some CEO’s (dare I say even some of color) who would never breathe a racial slur in their lives that are guilty of that practice today. The racism that we see is small bananas compared to the racism that we do not see.

No Easy Task

So what’s the solution? Does a path exist that leads to that elusive post-racial America? Or are we doomed to continue repeating our patterns of prejudice and intolerance? The leadership at Starbucks took a stab at that question and, depending on who you ask, either they got an “E” for effort or they failed miserably. America’s race problems were never going to be decided over a cup of coffee, nor do I believe that the good folks at Starbucks ever truly believed they would. Nevertheless, they took a big step for an American corporation. They acknowledged the problem (in their own barista-led way).

No, Starbucks doesn’t have the answer. No one does. The problems are more deep-seeded and inherent than most people would like to admit. Black cops are just as likely to harass Black youth. Older Black women clutch their purses a little tighter when a man with dreadlocks approaches. Some people find that their heart rate will naturally accelerate when they see a person of Middle Eastern origin board a plane. None of these things makes one racist. It makes us human –humans who have been influenced by media bias, culturally ignorant traditions, and the out-and-out wrongheaded teachings of others. The idea is to recognize the tightening of your hands and consciously ease up or push through the increased pounding of your heart and deliberately acknowledge the individual as a person, no different than yourself. It certainly isn’t the answer; but it’s a start.

 

 

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Double stress: how to avoid stress from being stressed

stressJust when it looks like you have finally reached your maximum threshold for stress, there is something else you can now stress out about–stress. Yes, that is right, you can indeed stress about being stressed, and this “double stress” could possibly be more dangerous for your health. A 2013 article by The Atlantic details a study from the European Heart Journal which found that those who thought stress had an influence on their health had more health problems years later than those who were not as “stressed about stress.” As National Stress-Awareness Month approaches in April, get into the spirit by following these tips. No stress, though.

1. Make a list of your stressors.

It might be helpful for you to combat stress from stress by writing down everything that is stressing you out. While looking at a long list might not make you feel better initially, you can take comfort in knowing that as soon as you conquer a specific problem, you can cross it off. On the other hand, realizing that you only have a short list might take away some of the burden. The Mayo Clinic also recommends discovering your stress triggers so you can look to avoid them.

2. Organize, organize, organize.

The less you have to worry about being out of place, the less you have to stress about. Try organizing your room, your car, or your desk. Get rid of extra clutter and put all of the important things you need together in one place for easy access. Sometimes just rearranging all of your stuff will allow you to see things from a new, better perspective.

3. Look for the positives in your stress list.

Maybe you have a lot going on at work right now, and you are really not looking forward to the amount of time and effort you will have to put into it. Instead of looking at the negatives, try to think about the good that could come from the tasks you have to do. That big idea you are stressing about might just get you a raise or a promotion after you present it to your boss, and a little extra money could certainly help to cancel out some of your other possible stressors. Reforming thinking patterns can be difficult, but you can try some of Mind Tools’ positive thinking exercises here to get an idea.

4. Cut out negative things in your life.

Whether it is food, habits, or people, make sure to reevaluate their place in your life and replace them with positive alternatives. Do not do anything drastic, though–that might just make things worse.

5. Time management.

Have you ever created a monthly budget? Try switching it into a daily or weekly time budget to see how many hours you actually spend on an activity versus how many hours you do in reality. This insight will give you a better handle on refocusing your time if need be.

6. Remind yourself that you are a good person.

You deserve the best, but it will most likely take a lot of work and a lot of stress to get there. Repeat important words, phrases, or anything that makes you feel better out loud or in your head when you are feeling the most stressed. Prolific Living has 100 affirmations for a variety of situations, so test some out and see how you feel after a couple of repetitions.

Stress is tough, but you do not have to stress out about it. Here’s to a stress-free April!

 

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HCBrownSatchelHD: Hidden Camera Brown Satchel 1080p HD Video*

HCBrownSatchelHD: Hidden Camera Brown Satchel 1080p HD Video*

You are a property owner who is renting out your homes for extra monthly cash. Occasionally you have tenants agree to terms with you about pet policies, deposit amounts, or property damage in an initial meeting and then claim to forget those terms the moment you draw up the rental agreements. With the HCBrownSatchelHD you have a way to discreetly record these client meetings without causing alarm or suspicion. The tiny, pinhole camera is difficult to see even when you know it’s there, but you would never notice it at first glance. You can place this unit covertly on a table or peeking out of your purse to record all the information you need.

 

This covert camera records video at a high resolution of 1920x1080p, and the clear video ensures the essential details are visible. All video is stored to 8GB of internal memory. Starting and stopping recording is easy with the DVR remote that you can hide in your lap, pocket, desk drawer. With a recording capacity of 80 minutes of footage, the 90-minute battery life is more than enough time to capture any parts of a conversation you need. So next time you draw up a new tenant agreement, make sure you get all those verbal agreements captured on video too!

 

Features

  • Easy to use
  • Looks just like a small travel case
  • Discreet
  • High Definition video

 

Technical Specs

  • Video Resolution: 1920 x 1080 @ 30fps
  • Storage: Internal 8GB
  • Storage Consumption: 10mins/GB
  • Battery Life: Up to 90 minutes
  • Dimensions:  9″ x 5″ x 2″

 

Includes

  • 1 x Hidden Camera Brown Satchel
  • 1 x Remote Control
  • 1 x USB Cable
  • 1 x Driver CD

 

Compatible With

  • Windows up to Win8
  • Mac

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HCBulb720: LED and Night Vision High Definition Light Bulb Camera*

HCBulb720: LED and Night Vision High Definition Light Bulb Camera*

The HCBulb720 is the newest update to our great hcbulb.  Put in a MicroSD card and screw it in to any standard light bulb socket and this device immediately starts recording in motion detection mode. The included remote control makes controlling the bright LED lighting and video functions easy from anywhere in the room

 

Multiple settings and controls. The included software program makes it easy to change the time and date, resolution, recording overwrite, as well as the recording mode.

 

Removable memory. Retrieve footage with easy to use removable MicroSD card storage. The HCBulb720 can take up to a MicroSD card.

 

Features

  • Motion-detecting camera
  • High Definition 720p video
  • Night vision
  • Adjustable settings
  • Auto exposure control (white balance and sharpness)
  • Auto-rewrite memory (optional)
  • Remote controlled LED bulb
  • Built-in MicroSD card slot

 

Technical Specs

  • Video Resolution: 1280 x 720 or 640 x 480 (selectable)
  • Video Format: AVI, H.264
  • Photo Resolution: 1600 x 1200
  • Photo Format: JPEG
  • Image Sensor: 1/4″ CMOS
  • Lens: 3.6mm
  • Viewing Angle: 58° (diagonal)
  • Storage: MicroSD card up to 32GB
  • Recording Capacity: 28 min / 1GB
  • Motion Detection Distance: Up to 24 ft.
  • Night Vision Distance: Up to 45 ft.
  • Night Vision IR: 850 nm
  • Dimensions: 3″ – 1.25″ x 4.25″
  • Weight: 4.6 oz
  • E27 socket
  • Power supply: 120V

 

Includes

  • 1 x LED and Night Vision Light Bulb Camera
  • 1 x Light Extension
  • 1 x Remote
  • 1 x MicroSD USB adapter (microSD card not included)
  • 1 x Software Disc*
  • 1 x Instruction Booklet

 

Compatible With

  • *Windows 7 ONLY – Software
  • Windows up to Win8 – MicroSD Card Playback
  • Mac

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HCHook: Hidden Camera Hook* – Free 2GB microSD!

HCHook: Hidden Camera Hook* - Free 2GB microSD!

The HCHook disguises a high quality DVR in a simple black two pronged hook. A common household organization tool it can be hung prominently on a wall in any room to help keep track of keys lanyards or light outerwear.  The hook is easily mounted to the wall by a piece of double sided adhesive that should be safe for most walls.

Simple to operate. A simple on off switch is hidden on the backside of the hook.  Flip this switch to on and when fully charged the camera is ready for motion activated footage for up to two hours.

High resolution color video. It is hard to imagine that camera fits in this every day black hook that takes 1280 x 960 resolution video at 30 frames per second.  The hook doesn’t even weigh noticeably more than one without a hidden DVR.  The HCHook supports MicroSD cards.

Recording time. Record up to two hours continuous footage.

 

Features

  • Color video and audio
  • Motion activation
  • Built in Li-Ion battery
  • Time/Date stamp

 

Technical Specs

  • Video Resolution: 1280 x 960 @ 30 fps
  • Storage: MicroSD card up to 16GB
  • Storage Consumption: 40mins/1GB
  • Battery Life: Up to 2 hours

 

Includes

  • 1 x Hidden Camera Hook
  • 1 x USB Cord
  • 1 x AC Adapter
  • 1 x Wall Mount Kit
  • 1 x Instruction Booklet

 

Compatible With

  • Windows up to Win8
  • Mac

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HCPowerBankPro: USB Power Pro Bank Hidden Camera* – Free 2GB microSD!

HCPowerBankPro: USB Power Pro Bank Hidden Camera* - Free 2GB microSD!

The HCpowerbankPro looks and operates exactly like a normal, portable battery pack. These devices are normally used for backup or extra power for cell phones and other portable electronics. As phones get more and more powerful they consume more and more battery life, making a backup charger not only sensible but almost necessary. The PowerBankPro will fit in perfectly with any other portable electronics making any recordings completely under the radar while it charges your device at the same time!

 

Portable and easy to use. This power bank needs no cables or batteries making perfect for the covert operative on the go.  It doesn’t need to be plugged in or require a remote. Recording is as simple as a touch of the button.

 

Removable storage. This gadget supports up to microSD cards for storing almost 9 hours of footage. The motion detection feature will keep you from having to scroll through lots of blank video saving you time and effort!

Features

  • Hard plastic housing
  • LED Indicators
  • 2 separate battery circuits so you can charge your device and record at the same time

 

Technical Specs

  • Video Resolution 1280 x 720 @ 30fps
  • Video Format: AVI
  • Storage: MicroSD card up to 32GB
  • Storage Consumption: ~500MB consumed every 10 minutes
  • Battery Life: Up to 3 hours
  • Dimensions: 4.5″ x 3.5″ x .5″

 

Includes

  • 1 x USB Power Pro Bank Hidden Camera
  • 1 x USB Cable
  • 1 x Combo Charging Cable
  • 1 x Carrying Case
  • 2 x Back Plates
  • 1 x Instruction Booklet

 

Compatible with

  • Windows up to Win8
  • Mac

 

*Please note the following:

  • A MicroSD card is not included
  • While HCPowerBankPro will charge your device it not primarily a powerbank. The charging function is part of the disguise. It will recharge an iPhone by about 40%.

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HCSatchelLS: Hidden Camera Satchel Handbag*

HCSatchelLS: Hidden Camera Satchel Handbag*

The Leather Satchel hidden camera DVR is perfect for the spy on the go. It looks just like a small, travelling day planner or large wallet. This particular DVR features a remote that activates the unit discreetly, allowing you to start and stop recording without approaching the device.

 

Quality audio and color video. The camera records 720 x 480 resolution footage at 30 frames per second. Clear video ensures the essential details are visible.  The video is stored to 4GB of internal memory.

Features

  • Easy to use
  • Looks just like a small travel case
  • Discreet
  • Stylish leopard print
  • Video timestamp

 

Technical Specs

  • Video Resolution: 720 x 480 @ 30fps
  • Storage: Internal 4GB
  • Storage Consumption: ~150MB consumed every 5 minutes
  • Battery Life: Up to 120 minutes
  • Dimensions:  8″ x 4.4″ x 1.5″

 

Includes

  • 1 x Hidden Camera Leopard Print Satchel Handbag
  • 1 x Remote control
  • 1 x USB Cable
  • 1 x Instruction Booklet

 

Compatible With

  • Windows up to Win8
  • Mac

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HCSmokeSD: Smoke Detector SD Hidden Camera

HCSmokeSD: Smoke Detector SD Hidden Camera

Fewer things are more innocuous and less noticeable than a fire detector. The HCSmokeSD is a self-contained DVR capable of recording high resolution color video.

The twist-off mounting bracket installs quickly and is easy to take down. Operated simply by wireless remote it’s a breeze to control.  When you’re done retrieving footage is a snap remove the SD card or connect included USB cable. The HCSmokeSD supports up to cards which translates to up to about of footage.

Three easy to choose modes. The hidden camera can take pictures record continuous video and record motion-activated video.

High quality color images and video. This unit boasts clear 1280 x 960 resolution video at 30 frames per second. These files are stored on removable MicroSD cards up to and are easily retrieved from the card or included USB cable.  The internal li-ion battery lasts for up to two hours.

 

Features

  • Remote control
  • Looks just like a smoke detector
  • High quality video
  • Motion detection

 

Technical Specs

  • Video Resolution: 1280 x 960 @ 30fps
  • Video Format: AVI
  • Storage: MicroSD card up to 16GB
  • Storage Consumption: ~1GB consumed every 20 minutes
  • Battery Life: Up to 2 hours

 

Includes

  • 1 x Smoke Detector SD Hidden Camera
  • 1 x Remote Control
  • 1 x USB Cable
  • 1 x Instruction Booklet

 

Compatible with

  • Windows up to Win8
  • Mac

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