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Top of Mind: Documenting Own Dementia

Here’s a conversation you won’t want to miss: When Gerda Saunders, a Gender Studies Director from the University of Utah, was diagnosed with dementia, she decided to document her experience. Her notes turned into the memoir “Memory’s Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia.”

When Julie asks Gerda if she was surprised that she was still able to write despite the diagnosis she says, “There are lesions on my brain that you can see on an MRI and they just happen not to be in my language centers yet . . . the fact that I could write was an enormous gift.” 

She details the disorientation she experiences on a daily basis, providing a vivid and relatable picture. Tune in here  for the full conversation.

Thank you to Gerda Saunders for a fascinating conversation and lovely visit. 

Top of Mind: The Magic Yarn Project

When adult women battling cancer lose their hair, they may start wearing wigs and hats, but when children fighting cancer lose their hair, those options aren’t very appealing…Until now. Holly Christensen, an oncology nurse from Alaska has turned a one-time gift from a friend’s daughter into an international nonprofit organization making colorful yarn wigs for kids with cancer. Imagine a giant yellow braid festooned with flowers (Rapunzel-style), or for boys, a beanie with braided dreadlocks and beads to look like Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. Volunteers from around the world are churning out hundreds of these yarn wigs to brighten the lives of sick kids.

It’s called The Magic Yarn Project. It’s a project that has helped child cancer patients gain comfort and confidence in their young lives. Normal wigs can be harsh on their tender scalps but the soft yarn used for these princess inspired wigs help keep these children warm and happy.

This amazing project has been able to reach children all across the world, including places like Kenya. It is run solely on volunteer hours. And there are endless ways to get involved. You can donate money, crochet your own wig, attend workshops and much, much more. They get many request from parents for long princess wigs and need all the help they can get.

For more information on this amazing project, listen to our full interview with founder Holly Christensen here.

Tips for a Green Holiday

Is the tree up at your house? Wreath on the door? Poinsettias by the hearth? Let’s get some tips on how to keep your holidays green and your indoor plants thriving until spring, when you can head back out to the flower beds.

Thanksgiving Point’s expert gardener Michael Caron offers simple tips to keep your Christmas tree fresh through the holiday and your poinsettias blooming into the New Year. 

Did you know poinsettias will bloom for months if you water them right and keep them away from the doors or heating vents? This simple trick will get your poinsettias blooming bolder and longer. 

Water is the key to a bright and festive holiday: A fresh Christmas tree needs to be sitting in a gallon of water at all times and never dry out. But your poinsettias need to be doused in the sink and then allowed to dry out between watering. 

Did you know that your big indoor houseplants need an occasional shower? Put them in the tub and give them a good soaking, then let them dry out fully before watering again.

Need more tips to keep your trees and flowers blooming? Listen to the whole conversation on Top of Mind here!

Multiracial Marriages

The new film Loving tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving. He was white, she was black. Their marriage was at the center of the landmark of US Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia, some fifty years ago, challenging anti-miscegenation laws.

They won, and mixed-race romance has become widely accepted in America. Pew Research analysis of Census data finds, that about 1 in 8 people who get married chose someone of a different race. 

What was it like to live when it was illegal in certain states to marry out of your own race? Many woman were put into mental institutions and others had to move to states that had legalized such marriages. Countless couples were forced to move to states where interracial marriages were legal. 

Today, mixed-race marriages are culturally acceptable. Yet, there are still some barriers for these couples to face. Listen to BYUradio’s Top of Mind to listen in on the full conversation.

Election Day

Election Day is less than a month away and many people are still undecided when it comes to who they are going to vote for. But for many people this is the least of their worries. There has been a string of embarrassing internal emails from the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee trickling out through Wikileaks. Russia remains the chief suspect in these hacks and some voters are starting to wonder if their votes could be hacked into as well.

With votes being cast on touch-screen computer systems many question the safety of their vote. Richard Forno, from the University of Maryland, says that such a hack is possible, but highly unlikely. Yet, there are those that feel going back to paper based ballots is the answer. Sure, it would take longer to count but the voting would be more secure and there would be no threat of a possible hack.

Forno urges voters to push aside their fears and to trust the system. Find out what you really need to be worried about for this upcoming presidential election. Listen to the full interview on BYUradio here.

Leslie Odom Jr. - Interview on Top of Mind

Leslie Odom Jr. was as gracious and thoughtful as could be when we sat down to talk last week before his sold-out BRAVO Professional Performing Arts at BYU concerts. He talked about why he walked away from a big TV paycheck to take a risk on Hamilton: An American Musical before anyone knew it would be a hit. He talked about how starring in the show as Aaron Burr, sir, made him at once more patriotic and concerned for our nation. He said Hamilton made him a better husband, friend, person, "and you have to walk toward stuff like that." Now he's walking toward the challenges of solo performance and, having seen the show, I can promise you want to be in the room where it happens. Also, he gives a shout out to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. "Those are not just songs they're singing. That's ministry. It is important work that they (we) do." 

Listen to the full interview on BYUradio here:

What You Think You Know About Surviving a Bear Encounter is Probably Wrong

If you encounter a bear in the woods, DO NOT PLAY DEAD unless it's already mauling you (and you're probably gonna die anyway). If you encounter a bear in the woods, DO NOT RUN (it will catch you and eat you). If you encounter a bear in the woods, stand your ground and reach for your bear spray. BEAR SPRAY people, this is your best chance for survival. Also, don't lather your body in strawberry delight lotion and don't pitch your tent on a trail, or you're asking for a bear to check you out. And when you come around a bend into a spot where a bear is hanging out, clap your hands and let the bear know you're coming so he isn't surprised. Bears hate surprises. You could sing opera on the trail, which would let the bear know you're coming, but it might get you killed by a highly-annoyed researcher like BYU prof and former National Park Service biologist Tom Smith. Smith has been studying bear encounters for decades. He knows his stuff and doesn't mince words and if you spend a lot of time in bear country, you need to listen to this interview now on BYUradio. Plus, you will laugh. Click here to listen to the interview.

Graphic Novels?

Such a tremendous honor to speak with Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell about the March graphic novels on BYUradio. (Link to interview below.) 

It's hard to express how powerful these books were to a white girl raised in a white community in the Western US. School sivics lessons didn't convey the scope of the ‪#‎CivilRights‬ struggle, or what it had to do with me. It was simple to sit comfortably in my position of white privilege and say, "I'm not a racist. I believe skin color shouldn't matter," then close the history book and feel smug about living in a day when America is so "colorblind," we've elected an African American president. This is why I agree with so many others who've said the March Trilogy should be required reading in high schools around the country. It tells the story of the Civil Rights movement through the eyes of John Lewis, a central figure in the lunch counter sit-ins, the freedom rides, the March on Washington in 1963, the march from Selma to Montgomery, and the list goes on. He was beaten and jailed dozens of times, but never lost his commitment to non-violent protest, never raised a finger in retaliation. The March Books are history in comic-form, but they feel very current with simmering tension between police and communities of color, and the rise of the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ movement. 

"I'm not a hero," Rep. Lewis told me. "I saw things I didn't like and I was told, 'That's the way it is.'" But he didn't accept that. He stood up for what he believed was right, even when it could have meant his death. He never became bitter or hostile, never embraced hate. And his message to young people today? Speak up. Speak out. Make a contribution. 

Listen to our conversation here

How Does Shakespeare Impact Prisoners?

This is a picture of Indiana State University English prof Laura Bates teaching Shakespeare to a class of maximum security prisoners in solitary confinement. See their faces peering out from the slots in the doors? She had no idea just how much Shakespeare's criminal tragedies (think Macbeth, Hamlet) would resonate with these men serving sentences for violent crimes, including murder. I spoke with Laura Bates and one of her former students who says learning that even men of high moral character (like Macbeth) could make terrible mistakes helped him understand that crime is not his only option. It was a fascinating conversation. Listen here on BYUradio: Shakespeare Saved My Life

By Julie Rose, host on Top of Mind

What is Top Of Mind?

There is a lot that can't be said in 140 characters. In an age when ideas are reduced to memes, tweets and vanishing Snapchats, it's good to find a place where we dig deep for intelligent, thoughtful, in-depth analysis of the issues people are talking about.

Recently, Julie Rose talked to an investigative journalist who worked on the Panama Papers investigation that had international leaders squirming about their personal investments. And noted Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen defended his famous theory of "Disruptive Innovation." And we found out that opera diva Reneé Fleming loves jazz and isn't afraid of making "horrible" sounds when she practices. 

But we also chat with people who teach us lessons we didn't even know we needed to learn. Take for example, the guy pictured above, Prof. Byron Adams of Biology here at BYU. He was just back from a couple months in Antarctica and explained that we can learn a lot from nematodes about surviving changes in climate. Or how to launch yourself back into the workplace​ after taking significant time off: look for an internship, or a "returnship," as one of our guests calls it. 

 These conversations go beyond the soundbite. Join us weekdays from 5-7 pm ET for a new look at the world around you. If it's top of mind, we'll talk about it. ​

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