Author: MaKayla Kneisley

Hello, my name is MaKayla Kneisley. I am 20 years old and am attending school at South Plains College for print journalism. I write for the schools news paper, Plainsman Press. I also write poetry and short stories on my own time. Some of my hobbies are aerial fitness, collecting old cameras and typewriters, and riding horses. My motto, Alwaysmile.

Print journalism major gains new experiences, meets lifelong friends

I’ve stared at a blank Microsoft Word doc for days now.

For someone who struggles very little with writing and putting words on a page, this particular article was difficult to start. I just did not know where to start.

I have spent so many hours in the Newsroom in the Communications Building, since fall 2018. Which stories do I tell, or which ones do I not? Not to mention the emotions that will come with writing this farewell piece.

DSC_0142I started my journey with the Plainsman Press in the fall 2018 semester. We only had six staff members, all who wrote and edited the paper. I was a determined, inspired journalist who wanted a handson experience of every part of the newspaper. Yet I had no idea of the work, time, stress, and fun that would go with it.

My first paper week was rough for several reasons. The main reason was I am not a night person, so when 11 p.m. hit, I took a nap on the floor in between the desks and the whiteboard. I got in trouble for that later. However, Kendall was nice (for once) and waited for me to wake up before getting on to me. He explained that even if you are done with your work, you help others with theirs so everyone can get done sooner.

Another reason was I had no idea what in the world I was doing. Between working with the In Design software and trying to figure out how Apple computers work, I struggled with laying out my first page. I cannot even guess the number of times I asked Autumn for help that week. Through controlled breathing and gritted teeth, she kindly helped me every time.

Now do not get me wrong; everyone loves everyone in the Newsroom. But when it’s 3 57289369_2451997331499208_8184277129916055552_na.m. and everyone is tired, hands tend to go to throats.

You will get glared at and yelled at, but I promise you will be doing just as much glaring and yelling as well.

The strangers in the class become staff members, and the staff members become family. You will find yourself coming into the Newsroom in your spare time to eat, talk, joke, play games, and work on homework with them. That is part of the reason why everyone gets on to others as much as we do, because we are family.

You will get to know people way deeper than you expected. They will share their life stories, even if you do not want them to. They will share the good, bad, funny, and sad ones, but none will be more hilariously sad than either half of Kait’s poor fish.

You will be picked on, and every one will poke you until all your buttons are pushed and you storm out of the room. However, you will never have a group of friends more loyal. If you come in talking about how someone really hurt you and messed up your week, they will come up with a plan for how to kill, who will do the killing, where to bury the 58381199_2465730280125913_8928513452423512064_nbody, and who will pay for the deed. The News crew will be more than willing to back you up, no matter what the cost, and by cost I mean prison for life. (No one was killed, or harmed, in the making of any newspaper).

The girls will have your back when you want to go walking down the haunted hallway, and the guys will do their best to scare the girls as they come back.

I wish I could tell you which part is the best and which part is the worst. However, it changes every week, and every single thing about the Plainsman Press will be your favorite/worst part.

One of my favorite parts that never changes, though, is the people. I go get my nails done with the girls in the Newsroom and go out to eat lunch with Reece, Austin, and Victoria at least once a week, if not more. And on Thursdays, Charlie takes the Newsroom to the BSM, and those who do not have class eat together. Typically, the group will walk to the BSM. That is my most favorite time on Thursdays. The walk to and from lunch consists of stories, laughter and jokes. Not to mention everyone is able to get outside for a bit and breathe in fresh air.

While being on the Plainsman Press staff, I was able to interview author Jodi Thomas, Television News Personality John Stossel, and many more awesome people. I got to write opinion columns and typically got to pick which stories I wanted to write.

Charlie, our instructor and advisor, tries his hardest to make this experience the best for the students. He listens to story ideas, and as long as they will not get the college (or him)56247840_2431591733539768_315491963803533312_n sued, you are able to write/cover it.

Charlie does a lot more than just critique your stories, though. He is also a great mentor. Charlie truly cares for each of his students and tries his best to prepare them and give them what they need in order to move forward in their career.

The Newsroom has been like a second home to me. We laugh, cry, and confide in each other. We know when someone needs a hug, and we know when someone just needs food. I cannot tell you the number of times I have gone into the Newsroom and Autumn, Victoria or someone else has looked at me, and noticed that I am in an off mood, asking “Want to go get food?”

Eventually, everyone will be able to tell when you are hiding your true feelings and will sit you down and tell you to talk.

Sometimes the talk is just about a bad day, or about troubles with a relationship. Other times, the talk requires shutting the Newsroom door (because it locks when it is shut and you cannot get in without a key). Those are the real talks. You know something is going down, typically within the Newsroom, when they get up and shut the door.

Being in the Newsroom, whether you want to be a journalist or not, is so much fun and worth the time. It is a place where you can and will belong.

There will be days when you ask yourself why you ever got into it. But when the paper comes out, you realize the worth of your work and nothing else matter. So you excitedly do it all again.

South Plains College has been a wonderful college for me. I was homeschooled my whole 55489158_2421469114552030_6289754600245297152_olife, and although I was active in sports and extra activities, transitioning from homeschooling to public school terrified me.

SPC is a great place for people who are nervous about transitioning into college. There are wonderful professors who are willing to help you when you have trouble with your assignments, and some professors try to get to know you personally as well.

Emily Brunson, who is an English instructor, would bring M&M’s in a bowl and pass it around. We could only grab one M&M, and depending on what color we got, we would have to answer a question, such as “What’s your favorite color?” Then we would be able to get more M&M’s afterword.

Dave Cleavenger, an agriculture professor, enjoyed talking with students after class. He also cared about the students’ health. Once I went into class with sunglasses on and just kept my head down because I had a really bad migraine. Cleavenger noticed me not being myself and asked if I was OK. When I told him about my migraine, he massaged a pressure point in my hands that relieves migraine pressure. Because of that, my migraine continued to get better for the next few hours. By the middle of the day, my head was fine.

SPC has been a great twoyear college for me, and I will forever be grateful for this college, the professors, and friends that I made here.

Sufferers of anxiety at higher risk of suicide

Anxiety plays with your thought process, leaving you feeling hopeless and depressed. Your soul empties as the stress piles up, and you start feeling alone. Your brain starts whispering, “What if I wasn’t here?” while trying to find relief from everything.

“Anxiety left untreated can lead to people feeling hopeless and having a void of hope, which is kind of the primary factor of people who actually have serious suicidal ideations,” said Lynn Gregory, a counselor at South Plains College.

“I do believe that, left untreated, anxiety plays a huge role because people feel like they just can’t go on with those kinds of emotions that the don’t know what to do with,” she added.

Richard Herbert, professor of psychology at South Plains College, said that there are six basic types of anxiety disorders: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety, Specific Phobias, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Herbert said that all six anxiety disorders deal with the sensation of a loss of control.

“An individual no longer has ‘command of the situation’, or just a sense of overwhelming powerlessness,” he explained. “That we are at mercy of other forces than just ourselves. Causing your own death is one way to imagine taking back control. If I cannot control my life, by dying I can at least stop those other forces from remaining in control.”

Herbert mentioned an article by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) that said the researchers found that “the presence of any anxiety disorder, in combination with a mood disorder, was associated with a higher likelihood of suicide attempts in comparison with a mood disorder alone.”

“The fear of dying during a panic attack is an independent risk factor for subsequent suicide attempts among individuals with depressive disorders,” added Herbert.

According to Gregory, anxiety may lead to suicidal actions because the person might get frustrated with dealing with a mountain of anxiety to the point when they feel alone and helpless, concluding that they need to end their life.

“It’s feeling like no one can help,” Gregory said. “People who are feeling suicidal are feeling hopeless. Having panic attacks or having phobias feels like the person can’t fix it, that is a false concept, because there is treatment.”

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, signs and symptoms people should be aware of in a suicidal person include changes in behavior such as increased use of alcohol or drugs, withdrawing from activities, or giving away prized possessions. Other warning signs are mentioning wanting to kill themselves, feeling hopeless, and feeling they are a burden to others. People who are considering suicide often display moods such as depression, anxiety, and agitation.

According to Herbert, poor job security or satisfaction with their job, history of being abused or witnessing continuous abuse, being socially isolated or a victim of bullying, and family history of suicide, also are possible triggers.

Gregory explained that a person might also say that they are not sleeping or eating. Also, selfharm, such as acting out against themselves and cutting themselves, can be warning signs.

Another risk factor is alcoholism and drug abuse, according to Gregory.

“Any mental health disorder increases an individual’s risk of suicide ideation and/or attempt,” Herbert said.

Gregory stated that there are different levels of suicide.

“Somebody might just have fleeting thoughts of ‘I don’t want to be here anymore, life sucks’,” she said. “The other end of this spectrum is a serious, suicidal person who has been planning suicide.”

According to Herbert anxiety and mood disorders are probably most frequently associated with suicide attempts. However, he said that depression tops that list because it is the feeling of being “trapped.

Herbert also said that panic attacks is probably the leading anxiety disorder as a factor in suicidal attempts.
“Usually, the causes of the onset of the panic attacks have to do with extremely stressful situations where we do not feel like we have any control,” Herbert said.

According to Herbert, panic attacks with physical/biological origins are different, and a person will have to see a doctor before the panic attacks subside.

Herbert said that men, people age 45 and older, and certain races, such as Caucasians, American Indians, or Alaskan Natives, have shown to be at a higher risk for suicide.

“Depressive moods are the most likely moods to indicate suicide ideation,” Herbert said. “Increases in anxiety, especially for no apparent reason, are also indicative of suicide ideation.”

Gregory said there is help available for those who are having suicidal thoughts, such as outpatient therapy.

“For somebody that’s having those feelings,” said Gregory, “I would never try to hold that inside and just feel like you can cope with this by yourself. I would at least tell a friend.”

Gregory said telling a friend is a good bystander intervention, which is like the buddy system.

“It’s making sure that you take care of your friend,” she explained. “It’s the whole array of things. You could take your friend to the emergency room. You could call the Star Care intake number. You could sit with that person and not let them be alone.”

Gregory encourages people who are having dark thoughts to tell a friend so the friend can make sure they get the help that is needed.

Herbert suggests calling prevention lifelines such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, while Gregory suggests a call to Contact Lubbock at, or text 741741. SPC students can go to the Health and Wellness Center to talk to any of the counselors at both the Levelland and Reese campuses.

“If someone is repeatedly suffering from anxiety attacks and not seeking help, the best thing to do is to get them help,” Herbert said. “If they have tried to get help but do not improve, then watch for the mood changes of anxious and frustrated to calm and serene. When someone is suffering from anxiety disorders rapidly moves from anxious and frustrated to calm and serene, it can be an indicator that they have decided upon suicide, and that they are at peace with that decision.”

Professor selected as new dean of health occupations

Jerry Findley is making it his goal to help students succeed in order to get closer to their career paths.

Findley, who recently was selected as the new Dean of Health Occupations, first came to South Plains College in January of 2010 to serve as the director of the Emergency Medical Service program at the Reese Center campus. He held that position for about seven years, before being appointed the chairperson of Allied Health.

He explained that becoming the Dean of Health Occupations was one of his long termplans.

“It was a little bit of a surprise,” Finley said of when the last Dean retired. “I don’t think a lot of people saw that coming.”

Findley grew up in Jacksonville, Texas, which is just south of Tyler, Texas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Administration at Wayland Baptist University and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.

Findley said he is a paramedic by trade. But when he got involved with teaching some EMS courses, he really started liking that field.

“I really loved that,” he explained. “So I kind of geared my degree towards the management and administration aspect.”

He explained why he wanted to get into the health care field, saying, “I had some family who had some medical problems, and seeing how everybody worked together. I love helping people. I love students, and this was just a natural progression for me.” 

Findley said that he has been in the health care field since 1991. Prior to working for SPC, he worked for a couple of hospitals, Saint Mary’s and Covenant in Lubbock. He also worked in the Education Department at the Health Sciences Center at Texas Tech for 10 years before coming to SPC.

“It’s a great atmosphere out here,” Findley said, explaining why he wanted to come to SPC. “It’s really family oriented and a fun place to be.”

When asked about his goals for the new position, Findley replied, “I’m just all about the students succeeding. That is why they are here, for us to educate them to be successful.”

Findley explained that all the decisions he makes revolve around the students in order to ensure that students are going to be successful in whatever they do.

“We help them along, we guide them, we mentor them, and, of course, we educate them to get them to where they want to be when they leave South Plains College,” said Findley.

He adds that the objective is to get the students from when they walk in the door to be successful for when they walk out.

With the new position, Findley decided he can no longer teach classes.

Among his job duties are to oversee the day-to-day operations of health occupations programs, the physical therapy assistant program, the Licensed vocational nursing programs, and the EMS programs at Reese Center.

“My job is more of an umbrella over all of those, and making sure that we’re all staying really studentfocused,” Findley said.

In his spare time, Findley likes to spend time with his wife and three kids and traveling.

Psychotherapy proves affective treatment for social phobia

“It is just easier to avoid social situations,” you think to yourself. You avoid people and places because the apprehension churns in your stomach.

Palms become sweaty as the fear of not being understood sticks to your thoughts like pollen to a flower.

social-anxietyAccording to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), Social Anxiety Disorder, also called social phobia, is an intense fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social situation.

Symptoms can be so extreme that it can affect the person to the point of disrupting daily life, affecting occupational performance, college completion, and making it difficult to get a job.

Dr. Peggy Skinner, chairperson of the Behavioral Sciences Department and professor of psychology at South Plains College, said that there is also a subtype which specifically relates to performance, such as giving a speech, singing, or acting in front of a group.

“The person might avoid all classes that require participation,” Dr. Skinner explained. “They might avoid parties or social gatherings where they might be talking to others.”

Public speaking is a common fear for young adults, according to Dr. Skinner, and a student might see dropping out of college as a better choice than having to take a speech class.

Amy Morris, behavioral health authority director at StarCare Specialty Health System in Lubbock, said that people might not like going to Walmart, the mall, or eating in front of other people because they are self-conscious.

A fear of eating and drinking in front of people is common with social phobia, as is the fear of using public restrooms, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

“Most of the anxiety is related to the person feeling that others will see them in a negative manner,” Dr. Skinner said, adding that the person is so afraid that it can triggersocial-anxiety-disorder-symptoms-and-diagnosis-4157219-5c5db04146e0fb000127c7e9 the fight or flight response or some physical symptoms.

Some of these symptoms may include mind going blank, making little eye contact, or speaking in an overly soft voice.

Other common physical manifestations for social phobia may include sweating, palpitations (where your heart feels like it is beating too hard or fast/skipping a beat), trembling, shaking sensations, chest pain, nausea, faint chills, and fear of losing control/dying, according to Morris.

Morris said those symptoms can lead up to a panic attack if the person does not have appropriate coping skills.

Those who suffer from social phobia can develop major depression and alcohol use, according to ADAA.

“Having social anxiety disorder would be highly distressing,” said Dr. Skinner, “because the person could be very capable and competent and then be too terrified to do things… It is a cycle that then leads to fear of more disapproval and more avoidance.”

Dr. Skinner says that Barbara Streisand stopped performing for years because of anxiety, and Scarlett Johansson avoided performing on Broadway.

According to the ADAA, 15 million American adults are affected by social phobia. It is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder.

“My Abnormal Psychology textbook states that over 12 percent of the population will suffer from social anxiety disorder at some point in their lives,” said Dr. Skinner, explaining that millions of people will at sometime have this disorder and many others will have symptoms, but the symptoms are not enough to meet the criteria for the disorder.

Symptoms, fear, anxiety, or avoidance, must be going on for at least six months or more, according to the DSM- 5

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), social phobia can sometimes run in families. But it is not known why some members have it and others do not.

social-anxiety-toronto-1Underdeveloped social skills are another possible contributor to social anxiety.

Social phobia can be treated by psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which teaches different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations to help one feel less anxious. Support groups may also be helpful to receive unbiased, honest feedback about how others see you. Medication, such as Anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and Beta-blockers, can help as well.

Benzos, Ativan, and Xanax are sometimes prescribed as well, but can be addictive, according to Morris.

Dr. Skinner recommended that someone should first try CBT and then use medication if the CBT is not working as expected.

“Seeing a therapist to learn coping skills would definitely be the starting place,” said Morris. “Then, if that is not working and you are still having breakthrough symptoms, then you could see your doctor.”

The toughest part of this disorder may be asking for help, since asking for help is a social action.

“I believe that goes along with any mental health issues,” Morris said. “There is a stigma, and people are embarrassed and afraid other people would not understand.”

Morris added that with social phobia a person might be concerned that if they ask for help, then they are being foolish or insecure.

Asking for help goes along with the fear of people judging you and making an evaluation about you, so that person might just avoid all situations rather than asking for assistance, according to Dr. Skinner.

“If a student feels self-conscious, then going to the Counseling Center could be one more area when the student is afraid to talk to a new person and also fear that others might see them going into that office,” said Dr. Skinner.

Despite the availability of treatments, fewer than 5 percent of people with social phobia seek treatment, according to the ADAA, and more than a third of people say they have had symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.

Morris said some ways to self-treat, if one is unable to get professional help, include practicing yoga and meditation.

“There is a lot of things out there, like apps that you can use,” she added.

According to Psychology Today, one of the first steps in self-help is to realize that anxiety social_phobia_banneris natural. Anxiety is a natural response when perceiving something as dangerous.

The second thing to realize is that anxiety is not reality. Social anxiety comes from thoughts that exaggerate danger.

The third step one should take is relabeling. Instead of saying, “I’m getting anxious,” say “I’m getting excited.”

The fourth step is to breathe deep and slow from the abdomen. Once you alter breathing, shift your focus to the thing you are doing instead of focusing on the fact that your hands are shaking.

Be willing to experience discomfort and try to tolerate uncertainty. Challenge your anxious thoughts by doing the thing that is causing it. Most importantly, reward yourself, and start taking your life back one step at a time.

Researchers work toward preserving natural history at Lubbock Lake Landmark

Lubbock Lake Landmark not only preserves the natural heritage of the land but also provides leadership through stewardship by volunteering, research, and education.

Scott Trevey, historic maintenance supervisor at Lubbock Lake Landmark, works on preserving the prairie and trying to keep the land the way it would have been years ago.

Trevey explained that Texas Tech University took over maintaining all 335 acres and that Dr. Eileen Johnson, director of Lubbock Lake Landmark, had a goal to get the land back to what they felt it looked like before European settlers came to the area.

IMG_1326Dr. Johnson wanted to achieve that goal without affecting or damaging the cultural resources, Trevey said.

“The strategic master plan, I was estimating five-to-seven years,” Trevey said, talking about how long they wanted to take to restore the land.

Trevey says that the prairie is not an exact representation of what the land was because of some non-native invasive species.

“To totally eradicate that, it would take an army of people out here every year, pulling or doing some type of manual control…,” he said. “All we can do today is simply try to manage it.”

He also mentioned that they would really like to know more about controlling brush, “particularly honey mesquite.”

Wild fires was a natural way to keep brush, such as honey mesquite, down, Trevey explained.

He said that the month of May is one of his favorite months at Lubbock Lake Landmark because of all the new blooms which are appearing.

“Some years, with rainfall and the timing of those rainfall events, we have more of an abundance of a certain plant,” said Trevey.

Deborah Bigness, manager of site operations for Lubbock Lake Landmark, said that preserving the prairie encourages wildlife, such as mule deer, raccoons, coyotes, and rabbits, to come and provides them with a home and protection.IMG_1272

“There are not a lot of places around here where you can see what it would have looked like,” Bigness said. “The entire great plains of America would have looked something like this in its natural state.”

Bigness explained that Lubbock Lake Landmark is very educational.

“We have a trail that identifies native trees, grasses, and flowers in the landscape and tells you about them,” she said.

It also is a resource for classroom instruction and research projects, along with informal learning, for area students and residents.

“There are classes from Tech (and other schools) who will come out here and do research projects,” mentioned Bigness.

The archeology that is on Lubbock Lake Landmark was discovered accidentally in 1936.

“People from the museum at Tech have been involved on and off since then,” Bigness said. “This summer, when we open up and start excavating, that will be 83 years since archeology was discovered.

Bigness stated that people have been coming to that particular spot for at least 12,000 years because there was always water there. The availability of water attracted the animals, which in turn attracted the people, because they were big game hunters and followed the herds. The water also helped process the meat, which played a part in humans living there.

“We think this was a large hunting ground, basically,” Bigness said. “They would come here, live here periodically at various seasons of the year.”

Lubbock Lake Landmark also offers several educational classes open to both children and adults.

“We do classes during spring break and the first seven weeks of summer in June and July,” said Bigness, “and then we do other programs during the year.”

Bigness mentioned one program offered once a quarter called Sensory Saturday. It is aimed at children who learn differently. They also have a program for 3 and 4 year olds called Growing Up Wild.

Lubbock Lake Landmark also holds night hikes, called Landmark After Dark Night Hike, every month on the fourth Saturday between March and September. The hike starts 30 minutes before sunset, which means the time of the event changes from month to month..

“The wildlife is a lot more active at that time,…” Bigness said.  “By the time you get back, it’s dark. So there’s great star gazing.”

They also offer Digital Literacy for older adults to help them learn how to use smart phones, social media, and photography.

Lubbock Lake Landmark also has indoor exhibits which they change yearly. In the last room, they have an Ice Age exhibit which has been up since before Christmas, and is expected to remain in place through October of 2020.

Part of the reason they are leaving the Ice Age exhibit up longer is because it goes with their four lifesize animal sculptures outside.

“They are all animals that we know lived here at this place during the ice age,” said Bigness, adding that the sculptures were made using measurements of bones that have been excavated on the site.

IMG_1294Lubbock Lake Landmark also has a lot of volunteer opportunities during the summer, such as helping in the lab where they catalog archeological material, helping to clean, weigh and identify material, and more.

“A lot of our excavation work is done by volunteers,” Bigness said, adding that it is a well known archeological site that attracts researchers from all over the world to dig there.

Some volunteers help with the night hike, while others like helping with the programs.

“If someone wants to volunteer out here, it just kind of depends on what we need and also what the person is interested in,” said Bigness.

Lubbock Lake Landmark preserves the wildlife and provides fourandahalf miles of different trails for bikers, hikers, and leashed pets, with several outlook spots for visitors to enjoy.

Lubbock Lake Landmark is free of charge, and their hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except for Sundays, which are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at 2401 Landmark Drive, off of Loop 289.

Dynamic treatment options make PTSD manageable

You trap your feelings into a time capsule. But it eventually becomes too full and explodes. The memories spill out and replay in front of your eyes over and over like a slideshow.

Your body is in the moment, while your brain is in the past. You become terrified to sleep because the nightmares bleed into your dreams.

ptsd-featured-imageAccording to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops in some people when they experience a shocking, scary, or dangerous event.

Dr. Alicia Barr, professor of psychology at South Plains College, said people who are placed into situations where their lives are in danger can develop PTSD, such as “people who serve in the military, women who are raped, people who are in car accidents, and people who are exposed to natural disasters.”

Marcie Miller, associate professor of psychology at SPC, said that people can develop PTSD if they’ve experienced a serious threat to their life, witnessed some things that happened to somebody else, or learned about something happening to someone who is interpersonally close to them.

“Some people think you have to had almost died,” Miller said. “But it could be learning about your mother almost dying that could even trigger PTSD.”

Miller explained that people who were exposed to war can experience PTSD, as well as first responders, victims of domestic violence, and people who were mugged or who were held hostage.

Symptoms usually begin within three months of an incident, according to NIMH. ptsd-treatment-2797659_FINAL-5c12be374cedfd00010f866aHowever, it can sometimes begin years after as well. In order for  adults to be diagnosed with PTSD, they must have: a re-experiencing symptom, an avoidance symptom, arousal and reactivity symptoms; and two cognition and mood symptoms, for at least one month.

Miller also said that PTSD will show up in an average person within three months, but sometimes symptoms will develop as early as within a month, though sometimes it can be years.

A common misconception, according to Miller, is that if symptoms don’t show up right away, then you’re fine.

Sometimes people will have some symptoms but not enough to be diagnosed, Miller said, and they might not be diagnosed for another six months or later until they have enough symptoms for meeting the criteria for PTSD.

“Symptoms generally include the person reliving the traumatic event,” said Dr. Barr.

Dr. Barr said someone who has experienced a traumatic event will have a very detailed memory of it.

“If their memory is triggered, the event unfolds in their head,” explained Dr. Barr. “It feels like they’re reliving that event.”

Dr. Barr said that sleep problems or recurring nightmares are common and can even develop into the person not wanting to go to sleep because of trying to avoid the nightmares, so they become sleep deprived.

“Folks who develop PTSD are hypervigilant,” said Dr. Barr.

Facts-About-Concussion-and-PTSD-722x406Miller explained that two people could have the same diagnosis but will experience different distressing symptoms.

“Intrusive thoughts that are distressing, such as memories or images that kind of intrude into their thinking, can take over and cause distress,” Miller said.

Avoidance is very common, and people with PTSD might avoid certain environments, people, places and objects, according to Miller. Some people may have trouble experiencing positive emotions and may lose interest in things they used to be interested in.

“Reckless and self destructive behaviors can be real common too,” Miller pointed out. “That could include substance use, or excessive speeding. Doing physically risky things. “

PTSD also manifests a little differently for children and adults, according to Miller.

“Adults will have these intensely detailed emotional dreams about their trauma,” Miller explained, “where as children might have dreams that they identify as distressing, but don’t remember what it was about.”

Miller also mentioned that children might reenact traumatic events in the way they play or story tell. They might describe how they are feeling as “they don’t feel good,” as if they were sick, while adults are better at explaining how they feel.

“For children, you’re often looking for changes,” Miller said. “They become socially withdrawn or avoid certain people in certain places.”

Dr. Barr said she thinks that PTSD is the kind of disorder that will always be with someone on some level after it develops.

About half of the people who suffer from PTSD will always have it during their life, but the other half could find relief within a matter of months, according to Miller.

Some resilience factors that may reduce the risk of PTSD are seeking out support from people, finding a support group, learning how to feel good about actions during danger, learning a positive coping strategy, and learning how to act or respond despite of fear, according to NIMH.

“I think sometimes the myth behind PTSD is that there’s some kind of weakness or inability to cope,” said Miller. “Having social support, from family, friends, or wherever can kind of validate that we’re behind you, and can increase positive emotions.”

Miller explained that when people feel isolated and alone, it could lead to more avoidance and more negative emotion.

pexels-photo-326559-1280x429Dr. Barr says that humans are social animals and need each other.

“Deep down, we know that we’re better off when we have people close to us,” said Dr. Barr. “It gives us a sense of safety. For someone who has developed PTSD and does not feel safe, to suddenly be abandoned by family and friends or who aren’t trying to understand, would absolutely make it worse.”

Researchers thought that if they had people who just experienced a trauma to sit down and tell them in detail what they experienced, that it would help them debrief and get over it, according to Dr. Barr. However, what they found is that it increased the likelihood of developing PTSD, and essentially people need room to decompress on their own, because some people can work through it by themselves.

Researchers are studying risk and resilience factors, along with genetic and neurobiology, taking more of a biological approach.

“With any disorder, there are different theoretical explanations,” said Miller, “and that’s kind of taking more of a biomedical explanation that people who have genotye A are more likely to develop PTSD than people with genotype B.

“Structurally speaking,” she added, “there are some findings that suggest that folks with PTSD show structural differences in memory, in emotional centers of their brain… the limbic system specifically.”

Miller explained that the Limbic system is the part of the brain that is involved in human behavioral and emotional responses, especially negative and fear.

The Limbic system is just above the brainstem and underneath the cerebral cortex.brain-limbic-system

“If you were to find your temples,” Miller said, “picture your fingers all the way into the center. That’s where those structures exist, one in each hemisphere.”

Within the Limbic system, there are two major structures, the Hippocampus and the amygdala.  According to Queensland Brain Institute, the amygdala has a big role in emotional responses. The amygdala also plays a key role in forming memories, specifically memories related to fear.

“If it’s altered and does things differently, than I’m going to do things differently,” Miller explained. “Those differences were always there, and that’s why this person’s more likely to develop PTSD, or that trauma created these changes, and that’s why they responded to the world differently now Post-Trauma.”

The most studied medicines for treating PTSD are antidepressants, according to NIMH, because it can help control PTSD symptoms such as worry, anger, and feeling numb.

Beta blockers can be used if the doctor feels it is right for the patient, Dr. Barr said.

“Beta blockers basically decrease blood pressure,” Dr. Barr said, “in theory decreasing epinephrine or adrenaline.”

Dr. Barr explained that some people who have PTSD will remember the trauma. So when the memory is triggered they remember the event, and adrenaline or epinephrine is released in their system. This gives them a physical reaction, and the chemicals will help to sear this memory deeper, and in more detail, causing the memory to become more potent. So the next time that memory gets triggered, they release more epinephrine. It is the cycle that makes the memory stronger and stronger.

“Beta blockers will decrease levels of these chemicals, and essentially make that person less likely to be creating this super potent memory that’s harassing them,” said Dr. Barr.

Antidepressants can help control sadness, worry, and anger, which are commonly seen with PTSD symptoms.

“Antidepressants are a pretty common approach,” said Miller, adding that while some may be classified an antidepressant, they can work well for alleviating symptoms of anxiety in PTSD.

Miller also said that antidepressants can help with sleep disturbances, mood swings, hypervigilance, and emotional reaction.

julie-berman-therapy-and-counseling-in-portland-or-trauma-therapy-picture-1“A lot of antipsychotics are also approved for antidepressant treatments as well,” Miller mentioned.

Miller said Psychotherapy (talk therapy), Cognitive Behavioral Therapies (CBT), and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) are often used to help treat PTSD.

Psychotherapy may help people identify and change their troubling thoughts, according to the NIMH.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), CBT helps individuals learn how to be their own therapist with exercises in sessions and outside of sessions. This helps the person to develop coping skills to learn how to change thinking of problematic emotions or behavior.

CPT is a specific type of CBT which can help people with PTSD learn how to challenge or modify unhelpful beliefs, according to the APA. CPT is usually delivered during 12 sessions. By practicing this therapy, patients create new conceptualization of the traumatic event.

CPT is strongly recommended to help treat PTSD, according to the APA.

Some self-help tips include working on slowing your breath, relaxing your muscles, working on grounding techniques such as describing objects as you touch them, saying the alphabet backwards, and facing your fears and building upon bravery.

Miller said she thinks that acceptance of the idea that humans change in response to trauma is a step toward helping oneself overcome PTSD.

“More often than not, it was nothing they did wrong,…” Miller said. “Coming around to that idea of this isn’t a flawed state of me, that this was trauma induced, could be very beneficial.”


Mapping capabilities of Roomba raises concern

Roombas are mapping people’s homes while cleaning the floor.

Clean-MapRoombas, the small robotic vacuum cleaners, were made to help people reduce the amount of housework. However, iRobot, the company that makes Roomba, made their two latest models, 960 and 980, able to map out the floor plan of the home. Most people thought this was so the robot could function around the rooms better, so it would bump into fewer objects and accomplish a better vacuuming job.

However, Colin Angel, who is the CEO of iRobot, said that the company has access to all of the maps and plans on selling the maps to other companies, such as Google and Amazon. iRobot later came out saying that their CEO misspoke, and that the company has no intention of “selling” the mapping data. They also said that they are wanting to provide the data, with the consent of customers, to other companies to help improve smart homes and devices.

What may be true is that they are not going to “sell” the data. But how are they going to get the consent of customers? Will it be in the long agreement that everyone has to approve before using? If so, hardly any body reads that, including me, and then the company has “your permission” to give out the mapping data of your house.

iRobot has not said specifically how they are going to ask permission. To me, that seems a little sketchy. Also, why does iRobot need to map out your house, store it in their data base, and “give” it to other companies to help smart technology? To me, that does not make a lot of sense. I do not understand how a map of someone’s home could possibly help companies improve smart technology.

Another issue I have with this is how do we know who the company is giving the information to? Will the company give the data to the government? iRobot saying they are wanting the information to help smart technology could just be a ploy for helping the government spy on us.

Will this mapping data just end up as more ads for us? Everyone already knows that roombaspycookies remember what you search and then puts ads on Facebook and other social media sites that go hand in hand with what was searched. Will furniture companies be able to gain the mapping data, and then contact customers in order to try to upgrade furniture?

Other questions that are valid are what happens if iRobot’s data base gets hacked? Then that hacker has maps of many houses. Will that hacker then use it to rob a house?

On a positive note, could this data help people if their house burns down? Would finance companies give them more money if they could get the mapping layout for that house? What if that house is sold? Will iRobot delete the map of that house if the new owners don’t want to consent?

Because Roomba maps out each room, does the company know what room your children sleep in by the room where it bumps into the most toys?

What iRobot is doing could be a catastrophe and could hurt individuals.  Not to mention that the house map storing feature has “sketchy” written all over it, especially since it sounds like the Roomba models 960 and 980 have already been mapping customer’s houses without notice or the permission of customers.

Is iRobot making a robot that is helping with house chores, or is it a robot to spy on us? Personally, I believe it’s more of a spying tool, a way for the company to make more money for themselves, and they are just telling us that it will help with the smart home technology.

Student becomes novelist after years of hard work

Elizabeth Sacks came up with a story idea 10 years ago and recently got it published.

Sacks, who is majoring in Graphic Arts at South Plains College, published her first novel on Feb. 14.

Sacks, who uses her pen name, said she has been writing most of her life. She said that she would come up with stories before she was able to write them down, and her mom would write them down for her.

“I made up a story about Daniel and Danielle,” she recalled. “It was about two twin brothers, which now I realize that Danielle is a girl’s name. I’ve just been making up stories ever since.”

The 23yearold Sacks started writing stories before she read her first novel. She was writing stories like a script.

“I just had all this dialogue and character names,” Sacks said. She started understanding how stories worked when she started reading novels. The first novel she read was “Little Women.”

“My dream job would be to make movies,” Sacks said. “But as I write, the more I love it.”

She explained that not being able to make movies is one of the reasons she got started writing.

Sacks also mentioned that writing is also a way to express what she is thinking, “and I think we need more good books in the world.” She says that she had a hard time finding novels which were age appropriate, and because of that she  wants to write books for people to read, “because I think reading is important, and any age can read them because you don’t have to fear what’s inappropriate inside.”

Sacks went on to confirm that her novel, titled “Matthew Calbrin,” is written in a way that she said she believes any age group would enjoy. She also mentioned that her editor wants her to target it more to kids who are still in grade school.

“I try to make it interesting enough that all ages would like to read it,” Sacks said.

Since Sacks is a student and works as well, she said it took her a while to get her novel out.

“This particular book took me 10 years to write,” she explained.

Sacks started writing the book in 2008 in a spiral notebook. Then she expanded it and rewrote it on her iPad. Then she rewrote it a second time on her laptop. However, those would not be the only times she rewrote her book. She said when a publisher picked her up, “they went over it, and my mom also went over it. It has been gone over several times.”

“As far as finding the time, sometimes my priorities are a bit mixed up,” Sacks said, adding a laugh.

She said that she will write her stories before homework sometimes. On other days, though, when she does put homework first, she said that she will stay up late at night and write.

“Just anytime that I have a free moment,” said Sacks.

Sacks said it took two years to get her book published.

“A part of that was my fault,” Sacks said, “because the editor left comments on things and some of them were negative. I have never had negative feedback on my story before, so I was just like ‘what am I going to do?’”

Sacks said she got discouraged because it did take a while to get the book published, and she started wondering if anybody would ever read her book.

The book is about Matthew Calvin, who lives in a fictional kingdom in 1795.

“He’s new to the capital city and is involved in a murder plot against the royal family, but doesn’t know it,” explains Sacks. She adds that Matthew meets a young woman who is in the Royal Army, “which you know, in the 1700s there were no women in the Royal Army,” and they fall in love.

Sacks mentioned that her inspiration for this particular story was the movie “Barbi and the Three Musketeers.” However, she said that her story is nothing like “The Three Musketeers.”

Sacks announced she will have a book signing at the SPC Student Center on March 20 from 11a.m. to 2 p.m., when people can also purchase her book.

In her free time, Sacks says that she enjoys watching movies, reading, or hanging out with people she knows when she is not in school, at work, or writing.

“I was homeschooled,” Sacks said, “which is probably part of the reason why I do like writing, because I read a lot for school. My favorite subject was history.”

She mentioned that her favorite historical time period is the Revolutionary War, and that her book is set in the 1700’s because she enjoys history.

Sacks was born in Lubbock, but her family moved to Meadow, Texas, when she was around 10 years old.

“If you enjoy writing, if you have a story in your heart, just write it,” Sacks said, offering advice for anyone who wants to write a book.

She adds, “I’ve held onto my first love, that’s what you have to do. You’ve just got to hold on to your first love, because there’s a reason why you love it.”

Sacks mentioned that you don’t have to sit down for a long period of time to write a story. You can write in a notebook while you are eating lunch, or while you are in the car.

“If you don’t do what you love,” Sacks said, “you’re probably not going to be very happy.”

Romantic comedy surprises with positive outcome

If you are not a fan of romantic comedies, you might want to watch “Isn’t it Romantic,” because it has a different storyline.

The movie starts out In New York City with Natalie as a pre-teen girl  (played by Alex Kis). Natalie, who is watching a romantic movie, is told by her mother, played by Jennifer Saunders, that romance can not happen unless you look like a Hollywood actress. Natalie grows up to believe this and is left being stuck in her own miserable, romantic-less world.

Rebel-Wilson-Movie-Set-Isnt-t-Romantic-Tom-LOrenzo-Site-5Twenty five years later, Natalie, played by Rebel Wilson, is being used by her coworkers and is only seen as the coffee girl. Feeling completely invisible because of how her boss, coworkers, and others treat her, she complains for three hours about how romantic movies are lies to a coworker, Whitney, played by Betty Gilpin. Whitney ends up telling her that if she would be more open, people might not pass her by as much.

On her way home, Natalie gets robbed once she steps off the subway trains. After chasing her robber and getting her purse back, she turns around to run away, only to run straight into a metal beam and is knocked unconscious.

When she wakes up, Natalie is greeted by a very handsome doctor. Being completely freaked out when the doctor tells her how beautiful she is, she flees from the hospital, only to get hit by a limo as she’s trying to cross the street. The business man, Blake, played by Liam Hemsworth, who is inside the limo, gets out to check on her and apologizes for his driver. Being in complete awe of her, he gives her his phone number and tells her to call him if she ever needs anything.

Natalie ends up getting arrested, and not having anyone’s number memorized, uses her one phone call to call Blake, since she still had his number in her pocket. After he bails her out, he takes her to her home, where he sets up a date for later that night.

Realizing that she’s stuck in a “romantic movie” life, her goal becomes to get someone to fall in love with her.

Toward the end of the movie, Natalie’s best friend and coworker, Josh, played by Adam Devine, is about to get married. She then realizes that the person she loves, and who she thinks she needs to get  to love her back so she can go back to her “normal” life, is Josh.


On the day that Josh is getting married, she decides to try to break up the wedding. Flying through the doors of the church, she starts to tell Josh that he’s about to make a big mistake and that he should be with her. But mid-way through, she realizes that the person she needs to love is herself. After stealing a car and driving away from the church, she’s finally happy with her life because she realizes the only person she has ever needed is herself.

Natalie then gets into a car accident and wakes up in a realistic hospital. Finally, back in her “normal” life, she goes to work and becomes the boss who has always been in her by stepping up and not letting her coworkers walk all over her.

Although this movie is not one of the best romantic comedies I have seen, it has a very good message. It is one that I personally needed to hear: The person you need to love is yourself.

This was the first movie in a theater that I went to watch alone, and because of the message, it should be one that others see alone as well.

The movie does a good job at the end of showing that it is not OK to let people walk all over you, and that you should believe in yourself more and take credit for what you have done.

But most importantly, the movie shows that you need to be happy with what you have, where you live, and who is around you.

“Isn’t it Romantic” really surprised me. The trailers of this movie made me think it was going to be negative and hate on romance, when, in reality, it was very funny and uplifting. I rate this movie a 7 out of 10.

Persisting panic attacks steal breath away from young adults

Without warning, the panic comes crashing down. Your esophagus feels like it is closing up.

Gasping for air, your heart pounds out of your chest, and the thought of possibly dying lingers in your mind. Sweating and becoming dizzy, you sit down, too weak to stand. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, calmness overcomes the panic.

Panic Disorder, according to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), comes on suddenly and are repeated attacks of fear which will last several minutes or even longer. NIMH also stated in an article, “Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms,” that panic attacks can occur at any time, and some may feel like they are having a heart attack.

top-symptoms-of-panic-attacks-2584270_FINAL-5bcdfd4d46e0fb0051228ee5Dr. Peggy Skinner, chairperson of the Behavioral Sciences Department and Professor of Psychology at South Plains College, said that “Panic attacks feel like a heart attack because the body is responding to a perceived danger, and the sympathetic nervous system responds with a fight or flight reaction.”

Dr. Skinner added, “If you really had to run or fight, your heart needs to beat faster.”

Dr. Skinner said that when someone is in this fight or flight reaction, people perspire in order to cool the body. Their blood pressure will increase, and the stomach will empty, which could make one feel sick.

“Those all are signals of a heart attack as well,” Dr. Skinner said. “Then these fightorflight symptoms increase the perception of danger, and this escalates.”

Dr. Skinner also mentioned that panic attacks usually occur in young adults who are in their 20s and 30s.

“They occur across the life span,” said Dr. Skinner, “and some children have them. But the majority are young adults.”

She added that 75 percent of panic attacks are experienced by females rather than males.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 2 to 3 percent panic-disorderof Americans experience panic disorder.

However, WebMD clarifies a distinction between having panic attacks and having panic disorder by stating that one in 10 adults in America will have panic attacks each year, and about a third of people will have one in their lifetime. But most people do not have panic disorder.

“Not everyone who has panic attacks has panic disorder,” said Lynn Gregory, a counselor at South Plains College. “Panic attacks can turn into panic disorder if left untreated.”

Dr. Skinner mentioned that a variety of things can cause panic attacks.

“It often occurs with a person who has some level of anxiety that is then triggered by stress,” explained Dr. Skinner.

The higher the level of stress, such as a break up, failing a class, or a family disruption, is likely to bring on the first attack, according to Dr. Skinner

“The first attack then causes the fear of having another attack,” Dr. Skinner said,  “along with the social stigma of having something wrong.”

People may remember the situation or place in which the panic attack occurred, according to Dr. Skinner, and that could become a new trigger, which causes the person to avoid those things. If left untreated, it can sometimes develop into agoraphobia, which is a fear of being outside.

Some symptoms of panic attacks include physical manifestations such as a pounding or fast heartbeat, sweating, feeling dizzy/faint, fear of dying or becoming insane. Other symptoms are trembling/shaking, shortness of breath/feeling smothered, chest pain, nausea, stomach pains, numbness/tingling in the body, feeling unreal, and having a choking feeling. These symptoms in an attack usually last between 5 and10 minutes. However, they can linger for hours.

Gregory explained that a diagnosis is also made if panic attacks are not caused by drugs or other substance usage.

Some biological factors may run in families, according to Dr. Skinner, “such as the predisposition to anxiety.”

“The person might also learn to respond to certain physiological sensations from seeing another family member with panic attacks,” added Dr. Skinner.

Researchers have conducted several studies in order to pinpoint particular parts in the brain which are involved with anxiety and fear. Fear comes so humans can deal with danger, triggering a protective response immediately without conscious thought.  The fear response is believed to be coordinated by a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is at the end of the hippocampus and is part of the Limbic System.

According to the “Brain Made Simple,” the amygdala is the reason why humans are afraid of things which are outside of our control. The amygdala also controls how one reacts to an event perceived as possibly being dangerous or a threat.

“Panic attacks and panic disorder are treatable,” Gregory said, “following a complete physical exam to rule out physical issues like heart or thyroid problems.”

images 1Gregory said that for those diagnosed with panic attacks or panic disorder, the main treatment is therapy.

A good way to start treatment is by learning about stress and how to deal with stress, according to Dr. Skinner.

“Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the best because it helps the person recognize the triggers or signals and explain them,” Dr. Skinner explained. “If I feel a fear, I learn to look at that fear as one that is rational or irrational and develop ways to cope.”

Another type of therapy is exposure therapy.

“This is where the person learns to have other responses when exposed to the fearful situations,” Dr. Skinner said.

Dr. Skinner explained that it is sort of like telling a child who fell off their bicycle to get back on, instead of putting the bycicle away and being afraid of the possibility that they could fall again.

“Medication may also be combined with therapy,” said Gregory, with SSRI antidepressants being the first choice for treatment.

“Medication has proven very effective for people with panic disorder, but can only be prescribed by a physician or other medical professional,” added Gregory.

She also mentioned that doctors will typically work hand in hand with therapists to help those suffering with panic disorder.

According to Calm Clinic, in the event of a panic attack, the first thing to do is to reduce the anxiety, and the second is to decrease the likelihood of having panic attacks.

Some of the steps to reduce anxiety are to take conscious control of breathing by taking slow, deep, breaths. Then get to a quiet place, which will help to regroup. Panic attacks are self-limiting and will end. Consciously imagining a positive situation, such as picturing a beautiful nature setting, also can help.

Steps to decrease the likelihood of having panic attacks are learning about anxiety and panic attacks, learning how to intuitively relax muscles, and desensitizing through exposure, gradually being exposed to the things which may cause the fear.

Dr. Skinner said that all mental health seems to have a stigma attached, though it is better than it used to be.

Dr. Skinner explained that some people are able to say, “Hey, I’m a little off today because I have a cold,” but aren’t yet able to say, “Hey, I’m a little off today due to having a panic attack.”

Dr. Skinner says it would be nice for people to one day be able to say that, adding “articles about mental health helps to educate people and hopefully continue to reduce the stigma.”

Dr. Skinner suggests that SPC students searching for help should begin with SPC’s Counseling Center. She also suggests to try another therapist if you feel that one is not helping, instead of quitting treatment.

Counselors at the Health and Wellness Center at South Plains College can screen for panic attacks and panic disorder. They can even treat some cases and make appropriate referrals when needed.

Gregory said that each session is kept confidential.

Urges, obsessions plagues suffers of anxiety disorders

You see an object out of place. Trying to ignore it, you continue to walk, but the overwhelming urge to adjust it is itching at your skin. The image of the object lurks in your thoughts, making it unbearable for you to stop fixating on it. Finally, it becomes too much. Turning back, you fix the object, putting it in the absolute perfect spot.

“I think what bugs me the most is when I go to Walmart and walk past a dirty, messy section,” said Kaylee Presley, a surgical technology student at South Plains College. “I will stay there for a while, and organize and clean the mess until it is perfect.”

ocd-killing-joke-348cwhtlusqofey62prqio.pngPresley is one of the many people who suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), OCD is characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions. It also states that obsessions are thoughts, urges, or images that are recurrent and are intrusive or unwanted. Compulsions are behaviors or mental acts which are repetitive and an individual feels driven to perform.

“How it presents itself varies,” says Clifton Dane Smith, a physician assistant in Morton. “There can be as many different variations as there are people in the world.”

According to the International OCD Foundation, obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses which will occur time and time again, and leave the person feeling as if things have to be done in a “right way.” Some things that the International OCD Foundation lists as “common obsessions in OCD” are: Contamination- Germs/disease, household chemicals, and dirt; Losing Control – Fear of acting on an impulse to harm oneself/others, fear of violent or horrific images in the mind; Religious Obsessions (Scrupulosity) – concern with offending God, or concern about blasphemy; and obsessions related to perfectionism – Concern about evenness or exactness, inability to decide whether to keep or to discard things, and fear of losing things.

ocd-cycle-400Compulsions are a second part of OCD. Compulsions are the repetitive behaviors/thoughts for that person. Compulsions can be time consuming and can get in the way of activities the person needs to do. Listed under “common compulsions in OCD” are: Washing and Cleaning – Washing hands excessively or in a certain way, cleanin household items/objects excessively; Checking – checking that you did not make a mistake, checking some parts of your physical condition or body; Repeating – repeating activities in “multiples,” such as doing a task three times because it is a “safe” number; and other compulsions, such as counting while performing a task to end on a “good” number, putting things in order or arranging things until it “feels right.”

“It all circles around repetitive behavior,” Smith explained. “They can’t be content with the fact that they set the alarm clock, so they may check it 15 times a night.”

There are some related disorders, according to Lynn Gregory, a counselor at SPC.

“According to the DSM-5, under Obsessive compulsive and related disorders, there is also Dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder, Trichotillomania – which is a hair pulling disorder, excoriation – which is a skin picking disorder, and you can also have a substance or medication obsessive compulsive disorder due to a medical condition,” said Gregory.

The DSM-5 goes deeper in explanation of these related disorders saying “other obsessive-compulsive and related disorders are characterized primarily by recurrent body-focused repetitive behaviors (hair pulling, skin picking) and repeated attempts to decrease or stop the behaviors.”

It states that Body dysmorphic disorder is characterized by the person being occupied with a particular perceived defect/flaw in their physical appearance which is either not observable or only slightly seen by others. These people might check in the mirror periodically, excessively groom themselves, and reassurance seeking.

The DSM-5 continues with hoarding disorders, which persists by having difficulty discarding or parting with items, regardless of the item’s value. Excessive acquisition of hoarding consists of excessive collecting, stealing, or buying items when they have no space for the item at home.

Trichotillomania, which is the hair-pulling disorder, is characterized when a person pulls ocd-darkest-day-woman-feature_1320W_JR-1out their hair on a normal basis which causes them hair loss. And Excoriation, skin-picking, is characterized by a person picking at their skin trying to get rid of skin lesions, which are bumps, moles, and sores. Both these disorders might also be done because it brings gratification, pleasure, or a sense of relief when the hair is pulled at/skin is picked at.

“A lot of people will say ‘I have OCD’ when truly they have more of a personality disorder,” Gregory explained. She stresses that Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a repetitive obsession and behavior, and that “obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is just someone who tends to be hypervigilant organized…and really a perfectionistic.”

Gregory stated that just like with OCD, Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder can create anxiety for people as well, but they are in two different categories.

The International OCD Foundation states that, “In the context of OCD, obsessions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values… it determines whether someone has OCD – a psychological disorder – rather than an obsessive personality trait.” Everyone might have an “obsessive” thought every once in a while and be momentarily concerned. However, in the context of OCD, these thoughts come frequently and trigger anxiety, which gets in the way of one’s day-to-day functioning.

According to the International OCD Foundation, OCD is usually treated with medication, psychotherapy, or both. Psychotherapy can include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) or Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP), which is effective in reducing compulsive behaviors.

There are several websites about self-treating OCD. One website is Anxiety Canada, which lists different ways to help OCD symptoms, including facing fears – learning to gradually face one’s fears. It also lists Building a fear ladder – ranking your fears/triggers in order from least scary to most scary; climbing the fear ladder – starting with the least scary and work your way up to the most by exposing yourself to those situations; and Building on Bravery – if you notice improvements, give yourself credit and reward yourself.

However, for those needing more help, Gregory mentioned that SPC students are more than welcome to come to the Health and Wellness Center to seek counseling on OCD. If needed, counselors can recommend psychiatrists.

Ranching Heritage Center houses 200 years of Americana

The idea of the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock started with a trip to Norway and a group who were prepared to make it happen.

With more than 30 buildings, the National Ranching Heritage Center has them place in a historically correct timeline in order to tell the story of ranching.

The idea for the National Ranching Heritage Center (NHRC) began when Grover Murray, who was president of Texas Tech University in the mid 1960s, came back from Norway where he saw a living history museum.

IMG_0841=Jim Campbell, the executive director at the Ranching Heritage Center, said, “He (Murray) got together with a lot of the ranching community, and they put together a committee. Originally, the idea was that they would just build a ranch headquarters and it would have a couple of different examples of ranch houses, some pens, and a couple of barns. But they quickly realized it was much bigger than that.” Campbell went on to explain that once the word got out, people started contacting the committee with stories on dug outs, houses, etcetera. It evolved from there, opening as The Ranching Heritage Center in 1976.

“To preserve and interpret the history of ranching in North America and address contemporary ranching issues” is the NRHC’s mission statement. Campbell said they tell the story of how the ranching industry, traditions, and culture developed and started more than 200 years ago, predominantly west of the Mississippi in North America.

“So when you go through our historical park,” Campbell said, “all the structures are set there in the historical timeline.”

Most structures at the NRHC are donated, along with the money that is needed for the structure to be relocated and rebuilt. Campbell said that the time it takes to move the structure from tear down to build up just depends on the structure itself.

“The most famous move that we ever did was the Barton House,” he recalled. “The Barton House moved in the early to mid ‘70s, and it took three days… That was just getting it on trailers and trailering it into Lubbock.”

The NRHC moved the Barton House mostly whole, so they had to coordinate with the electric and telephone companies to lift wires along the route because the Victorian mansion is three stories tall. Another project from the ‘70s was the Joel House from Palo Pinto County, which is near Mineral Wells. This house has 2,000 tons of rock, which had to be numbered before being dismantled.

Campbell says that the last structure moved was a barn which was located in Snyder.

“That took us almost a year by the time we went down there, dismantled it, hauled it back up here, then rebuilt it,” said Campbell.

He explained it took so long because he only has five men who handle historical preservation, along with other things such as fixing the heating and air conditioning when it breaks in the building.

The NRHC is currently looking into adding a church.

“That one actually has been in service, so we wouldn’t have to do a whole lot to the inside of it,” Campbell said, adding that he guesses it would take about six months if they were to bring it to NRHC. He mentioned that the only structures that the NRHC is really looking to add at the moment are a church and a saloon.

Campbell also mentioned a partnership they have with John Erickson, the author of “Hank the Cowdog.” He says that Erickson wrote his books based off his own ranch, dog, and life, which Erickson and his wife still manage outside of Perryton, Texas.

“He (Erickson) got to talk to Julie Hodges, who’s our education director, and said ‘I have IMG_0854=these three books I don’t know what do with them,” Campbell said.  “They tell all about ranching through the voice of Hank…would you be interested in them?’ Julie immediately said absolutely.”

Campbell added that some local residents donated money to help publish the books. The first one is about ranching, the second is on cowboys and horses, and the third Is about the wildlife on ranches.

“Julie actually worked to develop a school curriculum so that they match up to the Texas requirements for TEEX (Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service),” said Campbell. “There’s probably more than 100 schools that are using the curriculum”

The NRHC’s next big project is going to be building a ranch life center at the NRHC that brings those three books to life.

“It will be a center dedicated to telling all about the story of ranching through Hank’s voice,” Campbell explained.

The NRHC is working on the design now and will eventually start a fundraising campaign later this year with hopes of breaking ground sometime during 2020.

“It really will be the only place in the world where you’ll be able to actually go and physically see Hank,” said Campbell.

“I think the amazing thing about this facility is we’re able to tell the story of ranching in so many different ways,” Campbell said.

The story is told with a historical timeline, which moves from the Spanish land grants to the Republic of Texas, through the German immigration and then the expansion.

“We also tell it in those individual stories, brands, and names…,” said Campbell. “We’re able to tell it from a generic sense, or from an architectural sense, because we have a structure where people came out and they dug it.”

Campbell added that they strive on a daily basis to tell the story of the real West and about the stories of real, everyday men and women who ventured out to build new lives.

“This is not Hollywood,” he said.

“There has been no other facility, or museum, like this anywhere in the world,” Campbell said proudly. “We have international visitors.”

Some international visitors come to Lubbock to mainly go through the museum and historical park to see the history of ranching in this area, according to Campbell.

IMG_1557The National Ranching Heritage Center has 50 structures including 30 that are between 100 and 200 years old. The NRHC features a self-guided walk through the museum and historical park, which can take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the age and the interest of the visitor(s).

However, the NRHC does offer a 30minute trolley tour, when the weather is nice, of their historical park every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. for $5 per person.

The NRHC also provides a living history of ranching, from May through October, with the help of 150 volunteers. The volunteers are dressed in the correct clothing for that time period and will tell the story of ranching to the guests who visit.

“That’s when it really comes alive,” Campbell said.

The volunteers will also dress up and come out to help the NHRC for special events during year, such as 49th Annual Ranch day on April 13, the Sixth Annual Summer Stampede Western Art and Gear Show and Sale on June 1, Summer Youth Classes from June 10 – June 15, 42nd Annual National Golden Spur Award on September 21, and Candlelight at the Ranch, Dec. 14 and 15.

NRHC is open daily, unless posted otherwise. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the historical park is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

People of all ages affected by General Anxiety Disorder

You’re trapped in a world of short breaths. Your mouth and throat are running dry. You swallow, hoping to suppress the feeling, only to become aware of the saliva going down your throat. Your chest muscles tighten with cramps as the fear creeps up your spine, surrounding your mind. Whispering, lying, manipulating and adhering to your thoughts until you believe everything it’s saying is true. You try to fix the feeling by hiding, running, or finding temporary relief with anything that will take away the attacks, the fear, the lies.

Coping-With-Anxiety-and-Depression-722x406Anxiety is a growing problem among people of all ages.

Mostly seen in teenagers and young adults, it is also known to arise in children and mature adults. There are five main anxiety disorders: General Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder).

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a disorder characterized by chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even if there is nothing or little provoking it. People who display excessive anxiety worry about several things, or anticipate disaster, such as work, social events or interactions, personal health, everyday life, and more. Some of the symptoms of GAD include: feeling restless, wound-up, being on-edge, easily fatigued, having difficulty concentrating or mind going blank, being irritable, having muscle tension, difficulty controlling feelings, and having sleep problems.

GAD is diagnosed when a person finds it hard to control their worries for more than six months and has three or more of the symptoms. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), GAD affects 6.8 million adults, which is 3.1 percent of the U.S. population. Also, 75 percent of people experience their first anxiety episode by age 22.

David Rosenberg, professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Wayne State University, wrote on The Conversation stating that research has shown that one in five college students are affected by anxiety.

It is said that GAD is seen mostly in women. Lynn Gregory, a counselor at South Plains College, said, “I suspect it’s because the way men are socialized to be strong… and then women, it’s fine to be vulnerable.”

Vinnie Gomez, also a counselor at SPC, agreed, adding, “I think that’s a big part. You know just how we we’re raised; you deal with it.”

He went on to say that he tells students that anxiety does not exist.

“Because if you think about it, the more real it becomes,” Gomez explained.

Gregory labels this as “feeding the monster.” Crystal Gilster, the Director of Health and Wellness at SPC and a counselor, said there is a children’s book that discusses anxiety by using the analogy of a tomato plant. To grow a tomato plant, you plant one tiny seed. If you water it and give it sunshine, then it will grow into a plethora of tomatoes.

“It’s kind of like anxiety,” Gilster said. “You can have one little anxiety start it. But if you water it and you give it sunshine, your thinking, then that grows into this huge anxiety plant.”

Instead of giving in to all the negative thinking and the fight or flight reaction and worries that come with GAD, try positive selftalk, according to Gilster.

“You have to talk to yourself in order to help yourself recognize a truth that does not feel like a truth,” said Gilster.

Counselors agree that self-talk, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Metacognition, breathing exercises, and realizing unhelpful thinking can all help people with General Anxiety Disorder.

“The Cognitive Behavioral approach to dealing with a lot of things is kind of where I’m based.” Gregory, who is located at the Reese Center campus.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy. This therapy can help boost happiness by changing dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. CBT focuses on solutions, encouraging people to challenge distorted cognitions, and change destructive pattern behaviors. CBT aims to identify harmful thoughts, and helps you realize if those thoughts are an accurate depiction of reality.

“You have got to get a handle on your body,” Gregory said, adding “by breathing and becoming aware of how you feel.”

She goes on to say that Metacognition is a good way to do that, because “it’s about thinking about thinking. Once you’ve achieved that, it’s almost like naming it, naming it so you can kind of go to battle with it.”

Rachael Montgomery, also a counselor at SPC, agreed and said, “If you name it, then it’s not you. You are able to work on it and not judge yourself.”

More specifically, it is referring to a process which monitors and assesses one’s understanding and performance. Metacognition helps people to become aware of their strengths and weaknesses. It helps people to recognize their limit, then figure out how to extend their ability.

“It’s figuring out what triggers your anxiety and taking the steps to conquering it,” Gregory said.

AnxietyWebMD states that people with anxiety take short shallow breaths, which can make you feel more anxious. Some of the breathing techniques that are listed on WebMD are as simple as slowly breathing in for 7 to 10 seconds, holding your breath for 2 seconds, then slowly releasing your breath for another 7 to 10 seconds.

You can also Deep Breathe. You start this by sitting or laying in a position that’s comfortable, then placing your hand on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose and try to fill your belly. Once your belly is pushed out and filled with air, breathe out through your nose again. You can repeat this as many times as you need.

You can also Breathe Focus. Close your eyes, breathe in and imagine that the air you are breathing in is filled with a sense of peace. Try to feel it throughout your body. Breathe out and imagine that the air is taking your stress and tension with it. Repeat this for 10 to 20 minutes. There are many more techniques that a counselor can help you learn. You can also find more on the internet.

Montgomery explained that she shows her clients a unhelpful thinking chart. This chart talks about 10 unhelpful thinking styles: All or nothing thinking, If I’m not perfect I have failed; Over-generalizing, seeing a pattern based upon a single event; mental filter, only paying attention to certain types of evidence; disqualifying the positive, discounting the good things that have happened; jumping to conclusions, imagining we know what others are thinking and predicting the future; magnification and minimization blowing things out of proportion; emotional reasoning, I feel embarrassed so I must be an idiot; Should & Musts, if we apply ‘shoulds’ to other people, the result is often frustration; Labeling, I’m a loser; and personalization, this is my fault.

Montgomery explained that these unhelpful thoughts can all be challenged through self-talk. So instead of thinking, ‘if I’m not perfect, I have failed,’ think ‘I’m not perfect; but I did my best.’

Gomez added, “one way to think of it is by asking yourself ‘would you talk to your best friend that way?’ Talk to yourself like you would to your best friend.”

General Anxiety Disorder can leave you feeling trapped, stressed, and unable to function fully. Gomez explained that It can stop you from going to work, to school, to social events, and more. In order to conquer General Anxiety, you need to manage your feelings by figuring out what your triggers are, “going to battle,” positively reinforcing your thoughts, pushing yourself a little outside your comfort zone, and keeping track of what is happening and your progress.

Going to a counselor can help with that. The counselors at SPC agree that they do not want to get inside the head of students, but instead, help give them tools in order to battle the anxiety monster. They can help sort out problems and suggest ways to help with them.

But most importantly, Gregory reminded that one of their jobs is to keep track of your progress so that all you have to do is think about conquering anxiety.

A big part of counseling is connecting with your counselor. If one does not seem to work, do not give up. Find another; they are there to help.

New library director plans for customer service improvement

Mark Gottschalk did not hesitate to rush back to South Plains College when he heard the library director position was available.

Gottschalk worked at SPC’s Library on the Levelland campus for four years after arriving in 2013. He left during the summer of 2017 to take a Library Director position at Lubbock Christian University. When the Library Director position opened up at SPC, Gottschalk jumped at the opportunity to return.

“The best part of the job,” Gottschalk explained, “is being back at SPC and all the same old friends.”

He said that they have a lot of work to do at the Library, but that it is all good work and they are going to get it done.

“I have an idea of what we do really well and what we need to do to always strive to get better,” said Gottschalk, “and it’s not necessarily things that we do bad; You can always get better in certain areas.”

One example he gave was becoming better at customer service, which is one of the reasons why Gottschalk said he will be working behind a desk like a regular Librarian. He went on explaining why he will be behind a desk every once in a while, saying, “to know what you guys as students need, and the best way to get that is to actually be working with you guys and for you guys. I think it’s important.” Gottschalk said he plans to balance his work between the administrative work and being behind a desk, “so that I can see firsthand how maybe we could change something. If I’m getting the same question over and over again, then we need to figure out how to help you guys find that question or the answer to that.”

Gottschalk also said they are looking at making some changes, but that it was a little too early to say what those changes will be.

“I would say that any changes we make will be about making the Library more accessible for students,” he said. “Both so they can succeed academically and so it can kind of continue to grow as a social place on campus.”

Gottschalk grew up mostly in the northern Untitled States.

“My family is from the state of Washington in the Pacific Northwest,” he explained. “Besides that, I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts for six or seven years when I was young.”

Gottschalk started moving south when he attended a couple of colleges. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Washington State University and a Master of Library and Information Science Degree from San Jose State University. Gottschalk says that he changed his major from history to library and information science when he realized he did not want to be a history grad student.

“I had a friend that was like, ‘You’d be a good fit in the library,’ and they got me a job at the academic library,” he said.

After a couple of years working in the Library, he decided to change his career.

“When I finished my master’s,” Gottschalk said, “I moved to Charleston, South Carolina.”

He figured he would just go live where he could get a job in libraries and gain a lot of experience. He also wanted to move to a place where he might not ever live.

“When it was time to get my next step in my career, I called up my old boss, who’s the retired director here, Mr Jim Belcher,” said Gottschalk.

He asked Belcher if there were any job openings in Texas, because he thought Texas was a great place to live. Belcher told him that they might have an opening in a few months, “so that’s kind of how I ended up out here in West Texas.

In his free time, Gottschalk helps out with the women’s basketball team as a volunteer coach, working with the post players. He also likes to read, travel into the mountains of New Mexico with his dog and girlfriend, and watch basketball.  Gottschalk says that he does not have a favorite team currently, but he has been watching teams with good coaches to try to understand what they are doing. “I’ve been watching the Celtics, because I really like Brad Stevens,” said Gottschalk, “and the Milwaukee Bucks, because their head coach, Mike Budenholzer, does some really interesting things.”

Gottschalk said that working in a library was not his planned career, and he sort of stumbled into it. But he really enjoys it and is happy to be back at the SPC Library.

Lady Texans earn No. 1 ranking in NJCAA poll

The South Plains College women’s basketball team has climbed to the top of the NJCAA Division I rankings, clinching the top spot for the first time in program history.

The Lady Texans had won 19 consecutive games prior to their Jan. 31 game at Midland College, sporting with a dazzling 22-1 record overall and a 7-0 record in Western Junior College Athletic Conference play.

The Lady Texans pushed their way past Odessa College with a 73-64 victory on Jan. 28 at Texan Dome.

IMG_9581.JPGSophomore Gabbie Green sparked the offensive attack with 22 points, making six of her 11 field goals and two three-pointers.

Freshman Sarah Shematsi was not far behind Green with 20 points. Shematsi went 7-for-17 from the field and was 6-for-11 from the three-point line.

Sophomore Keke Hunter chipped in 17 points, hitting four of her eight shots from the field and 9-of-11 shots from the charity stripe. She also led the team with 14 rebounds.

SPC came home with another win against Clarendon College, 81-46, on Jan. 24, making it their 18th consecutive victory.

Shematsi led the team in scoring with 12 points. Shematsi made 5-of-11 shots from the field and put in two 3-pointers.  Freshman Nyah Morris chipped in 11 points off the bench, on 4-of-10 shooting and 3-of-9 shooting from behind the three-point arch.

Hunter also scored 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting and making five of her six shots from the charity stripe. Hunter led the Lady Texans in rebounding, grabbing 11. Sophomore Chantel Govan contributed 11 points as well, making all four of the shots from the field,  going a 3-for-3 from the three-point line.

SPC crushed Western Texas College, 101-45, on Jan. 17 at the Coliseum in Snyder, Texas.

Freshman Ruth Koang paced the Lady Texans with 21 points off the bench, making seven of her 10 shots from the field and seven of her nine free-throw shots. She also led the team in rebounds with 12.

Morris also came off the bench to pour in a careerhigh 20 points, hitting of her nine six shots from the field in 27 minutes. She also made six of nine three-point shots and two of her four free-throw shots.

Green added 17 points, hitting six of her 11 shots from the field and all four of her free throw shots. Green also had five assists, four steals, and two rebounds.IMG_9626

In a showdown between two nationally-ranked teams, the then-fifth-ranked Lady Texans topped then-third-ranked New Mexico Junior College, 66-51, on Jan. 14 at Texan Dome.

Shematsi led SPC with 20 points, hitting seven of her 12 shots from the field, including six 3-pointers. She also had eight rebounds and three assists.

Green was close behind with 16 points, making six of her 15 shots from the field and four of her six shots from the free-throw line. Green also got four rebounds and had three assists.

Freshman Caroline Germond followed Green with 13 points, making 5-of-7 shots from the field and three of her four three-point shots. Germond also grabbed five rebounds and had three assists.

SPC resumed WJCAC action with a 72-49 victory against Howard College on Jan. 7 at Texan Dome.

Germond and Green led the Lady Texans in scoring, Germond tossed in 10 points, hitting four of her six shots from the field, and went 2-for-3 from the three-point line. She also had five steals and two assists. Green had a team-high 22 points, going 10-for-11 from the field.

Romola Dominguez and Morris came off the bench to score in double figures, with Dominguez dropping in 11 points, making four of her seven shots from the field, including three 3-pointers. She also led the team with five rebounds. Morris contributed 12 points, hitting four of her eight shots from the field, including four 3-pointers.

Library exhibits highlights Latino WWII veterans

A new exhibit at the Library on the Levelland campus of South Plains College honors Latino World War II veterans.

Looking for an exhibit that would fit in SPC’s open Library space, the employees reached out to Humanities Texas, picking “Images of Valor,” which features Latinos and Latinas who were involved in World War II.

Jessica Miesner, public services librarian at SPC, said their director, James Belcher, “was a war veteran, and this one was on top of his list as well because it’s important to him.”

Miesner added that Scott Buchanan, professor of history, and Christina Bearden-White, assistant professor of history, also picked the exhibit.

“I chose the exhibit on World War II veterans because I teach American history and wanted my students to be aware of the vast contribution of Latinos in the military,” said Bearden-White.

During the week, the exhibit is available for viewing during the Library’s regular business hours. Starting in December, their Monday-Wednesday hours will change, staying open until 10 p.m. They will also be open on Sundays until Dec. 12, which is the last day the Library will have “Images of Valor” available.

“Images of Valor” displays several important parts of the war, including  quotes from men and women who served during that time. Each panel has a different quote and holds a short explanation of why it was important. The exhibit displays Rural to Urban migration, women in the military, women on the home front as nurses, political representation, civil rights, citizenship-naturalizing after the war, language, patriotism and identity, military honors, and education-GI Bill of Rights. It ends with a panel about women who took over work for men during 1940 – 1945.

Miesner stated that “Images of Valor” was the first exhibit that they have offered through Humanities Texas.

“We didn’t really know what quite to expect until it showed up,” she explained, adding that “Images of Valor” was one of the more affordable so they decided to give it a try to see how it worked out.

The exhibit is made to be placed on a wall in a specific order. However, Miesner said, “we didn’t have a way to put it up on the wall.” So, they had to figure out how to put it up. Figuring out a way to display the exhibit on partitions, they were able to get it up before Veterans Day.

“We’re trying to start doing more exhibitions since we have the space,” Miesner said. “It gives community members and students more chances to come in. We will definitely be getting more from them in the future.”

Retiring librarian sad to leave, happy about starting new chapter in life

With plans for the future, James Belcher is retiring after working for South Plains College’s Library for 10 years.

Belcher, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, living there until he was about 6 years old. His family later moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where he lived until he graduated from high school.

Belcher attended John Brown University in Arkansas for his freshman year, then transferred to Oklahoma State, where he completed his bachelor’s degree.

After college, he served in the United States Navy for four years. Most of his time was spent at Whiting Field in Milton, Florida, which was the primary flight training base for the Navy. Belcher was an air traffic controller.

“Pilots earned their wings at our base and then moved on to advanced training,” Belcher said.

After Belcher served for four years, he earned his Master of Business Administration degree at Texas Tech University and later earned a master’s degree in Library Science at the University of Oklahoma.

Before he came to SPC, Belcher worked at three other libraries, Lanier Elementary School Library in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Fallsburg Public Library in South Fallsburg, New York, and Neill Public Library in Pullman, Washington.

Belcher said he applied for the position at SPC because he wanted to return to Lubbock.

“I had thought I would stay in the public library sector,” he explained, “but there were no positions open in Lubbock.”

Being ready for a new challenge and seeing that SPC came highly recommended, he took a job at SPC’s Library.

“I still thought I would eventually go back to the public sector,” Belcher said. “But once I got here, I decided SPC was the place to be.”

Praising his staff, he said, “I am impressed every week by one or more of the staff at SPC with what they do or know or are willing to contribute.”

He mentioned that the staff at every place he has worked has been good, “but the staff here at SPC have been super good.” He said he hates to leave them (the staff) because they work hard and they work together, never losing focus on helping students succeed.

“I know they are capable and willing to keep the Library moving forward and contributing to SPC success,” said Belcher.

Belcher and his wife have two sons. One who he gets to see quite often works as a fireman in Lubbock. The other lives in Pullman, Washington, “so we do not see a lot of him or his family.” However, he hopes to change that now that he is retiring.

Belcher enjoys riding his bicycle, reading, working on puzzles, and puttering in his workshop. He said that he and his wife will try to do as much traveling as they can physically stand and afford.

“We have some mission work we want to get into, and, of course, lots of books to read,” said Belcher of his retirement plans.

Romance author shares passion for writing at book signing

Jodi Thomas always dreamed of becoming a New York Times best-selling author.

Thomas came to South Plains College’s Library In Levelland on Nov. 12 and opened her speech with the question, “How many of you are interested in becoming writers?” After a show of hands, Thomas said “I never quit writing, because I didn’t want God to say, ‘if you would have written one more book, you would have hit big.’”

She told the audience that she estimates that she has about 20 million books in print. She explained that two things made it easy for her to be a writer.

“One is I have a very loose grip on reality,” said Thomas, adding that she has daydreamed ever since she was a little girl. “The second thing that made it easy for me to become a writer is I come from a long line of liars.”

She told a short story about her uncle who will have a fender bender and by the time he has told the story 10 times, he is saying that it was a neardeath experience. Before Thomas began telling about her journey, she said, “I am a story teller; I am not trying to write a great American novel.”

Thomas then described her childhood, saying, “I am the daughter of a father who was a bus driver and a mother who checked groceries,” Thomas said.

She went on to explain that both of her parents read all of the time. However, her first challenge she had to overcome was that she did not read until the fourth grade. One of her teachers had spotted her learning disability and sent her to a special summer school in Amarillo, which is where she is from.

“Now, when you learn to read after the fourth grade, you don’t catch up immediately,” Thomas said. She explained that she caught up by her junior year in high school.

“I do not look at dyslexia as a handicap,” Thomas said. “I look at it as a blessing. For four years, I sat in a classroom and couldn’t read. I made up stories about everybody, and my imagination might have not grown as great if I hadn’t had that disability.”

She paused before adding, “When hard times hit, there’s always a blessing.”

By the time Thomas was a junior in high school, her dad was blind and could not work. She explained that she and her siblings had to go get jobs because her mother could not make a living sacking groceries.

“I had very little interest in school,” Thomas said. “I graduated from high school in the bottom fourth of my class.”

One of her goals was to buy a Camaro, so she saved as much money as she could for one. However, during her senior year of high school, she had to take a remedial English class. In that class, there was a boy named Thomas Koumalats.

“I remember thinking, if lightning didn’t strike that guy, I was going to marry him,” Thomas said. She found out that he was going to college, so she decided to take the money she had saved for a Camaro and go to college too.

“The only place that would let me in was Amarillo College,” she said. “We’d sit in the library and hold hands under the table.”

Two years later, they were still dating and both decided to go to Texas Tech University. Not knowing what to major in, her mother suggested she major in home economics, so she did. Two years later, during their senior year, Thomas Koumalats was drafted to the Vietnam War. Wanting to live together before he went off to war, they got married after they had graduated.

“As soon as he got out of the Army, we went back to school to get our masters,” Thomas said.

By the time she went back to college, she knew that she did not want to work in home economics. So, she decided to be a family counselor. After 18 months, she got her degree in marriage and family counseling. Because of a man who welcomed her into his practice, she did not have to set one up. After six months, she decided that family counseling was harder than teaching home economics. So, she went back to teaching at a high school and at Amarillo College.

Thomas and her husband bought a house and had a couple of kids. However, her dream of being a writer was still there.

“I began to write, Saturday mornings, a few hours at school, and it became slowly a passion,” she explained. “The stories were coming faster than I could write them. I will never live long enough to write all the books I want to write.”

She advised that the best thing to do if you want to become a writer is to take master classes, adding that “James Patterson has an excellent one.”

Thomas entered several writing contests and took several writing classes. However, she got her big start when she attended a convention. Her husband heard about the national Romance Writers of America Convention that was being held in Dallas.

“We did not have the money for me to go to Dallas and spend the weekend,” Thomas said. Her husband told her, ‘we will put it on the credit card.’”

“When I checked in, they had given me a name tag that said writer, and it was like I had been an alien all my life and I had found my home planet,” Thomas said.

The last day she was there, she got a 10minute interview with a New York editor. Thomas told the editor that her book was about the Civil War, and before she could finish, the editor interrupted and said that they were not buying Civil War. So, Thomas started telling about another book she had written about early Texas during the bloody years.

The editor then asked, ‘how soon can you ship it to me?’ “I said, I’ll mail it before I go to sleep,” Thomas said.

She did not hear back from the editor all summer. Finally, while preparing for a lecture, she got a call from the editor who told her that they wanted to buy her book. There was a problem, though. Her legal name, Jodi Koumalats, would not fit on the book cover. Needing a pen name, she decided to take her husband’s first name as her last, Jodi Thomas.

Thomas’s career kicked off after her first book. She sold five books within the first 15 months. Her third book became a national best seller, which meant Thomas had to write full time. With her husband helping out with dishes and putting the kids to bed, Thomas was able to have more time to write at night.

Thomas has published 50 books and is working on book 51.

“They’re going to have to pull the pen from my hand to get it in the casket,” Thomas said, explaining that she will never stop writing.

New yoga technique incorporates cute distractions

Goat yoga is a new trend that will have you “kiding” around during class.

Goat yoga is like a typical yoga class session, only with miniature or baby (kid) goats. This is called caprine vinyasa, which consists of various asanas (poses) primarily at the  beginner level.

IMG_0213The outdoor patio at The Garden in Lubbock recently served as a venue for goat yoga sessions. Rachel Henson, owner of Goat Yoga Houston, brought her miniature goats and crew to Lubbock on Nov. 17. She provided five sessions to give people plenty of opportunity to come join the fun.

Henson said she has been instructing goat yoga classes for almost two and a half years, but it was the first time she has brought a class to Lubbock. The college tour also includes stops in College Station and Huntsville. Henson explained that it is hard to travel with her goats, but “it’s something I enjoy, bringing it to different people who haven’t done it before.”

Henson grew up in the country, hanging out in the pasture with her cow and dog. Later, she got on a rodeo lamb and goat committee and stayed for nine years, helping kids and animals. She said it was not that much of a stretch for her to decide to pick up goat yoga in Texas after she saw it being done in Oregon.

“We were the first ones in Texas,” she said.

The people who came to the classes loved it, and so did the goats. While yoga is supposed to be a focused practice to grow the body and mind, goat yoga is the complete opposite. The goats climb, jump, stomp, and cuddle, on the attendees. During the session, participants also are more than welcome to pet, hold, and cuddle the goats.

“This is your time spent with the goats,” Henson said. “It won’t hurt my feelings if you ignore the yoga in the class.”

Many other instructors feel the same way. Even if you try to focus on the yoga, at some point a goat will get you to laugh.

Although goat yoga is meant to be a relaxed form of yoga, it can also be challenging IMG_0164because while you are holding a pose, a goat might just climb on top of you. The goats with a tremendous amount of calming energy will also try to break your attention by trying to cuddle up next to you on the mat, trying to suckle your fingers, or simply trying to get a good scratch. Although the goats can make it slightly more challenging when they climb on you, their hooves can provide a little bit of a massage as they stand, jump, and balance on you.

Goat yoga is a great way to take a break from all the stress in life. Classes usually start around $35, but can be higher depending on where you are.

Goat yoga began in Corvallis, Oregon, as the idea of Lainey Morse. Morse had gotten two goats in 2014, naming them Ansel and Adams. Later, she was going through a divorce and was diagnosed with a disease.

“My life was a mess,” she said. “The goats were my happy distraction.”

Morse started seeing how therapeutic goats could be and that people would leave happy after spending time with her goats. In 2015, she opened up her place to the community, letting people come and spend time with the goats during “Goat Happy Hour.

“I had donated a kids birthday party to charity,” Morse recalls. “At that event, one of the parents was a yoga instructor. She saw how beautiful it was in my field and asked if she could have a yoga class.”

Morse says that she told her she could, but that the goats will be all over the attendees.

“She thought that sounded cool,” Morse said, “so I had her over to do a photo/video shoot with the goats and her doing yoga poses in my field.”

Seeing how big of a hit the one class was, Morse decided to host more.

“When I started Goat Yoga, it was about the therapy that it can provide,” Morse said.

She also explained that she feels that she was put on Earth to make sure that goat therapy becomes just as used as equine therapy.

“Goats are better suited for therapy animals,” said Morse, “because they are not as big and intimidating.”

Morse also said that goats do not need a bond to a human to love them.

“They are social and loving animals and don’t need a bond with a human to just walk up to you and cuddle you,” Morse said.

She thinks that is a very important and appealing part of it, because some people do not get love from humans or animals. Morse said goats are funny animals and make you laugh. They are present in the moment, and can be very relaxing to watch.

“All of those characteristics make for the perfect marriage with yoga,” Morse said.

She also pointed out that dogs and puppies like to bite and play, and cats and kittens have sharp claws and usually like to spend time by themselves unless they have a bond with a human.

Morse says that her journey with Goat Yoga was difficult at first. People copied her idea, making it hard to compete with so many different businesses because their prices were lower.

“We were in a real business, paying employees, taxes, insurance, etcetera,” she said.

She also had a lot of medical debt after she had gotten sick. Having full size and grown goats, she said, “most competitors are also dairy farms that have babies constantly. It’s hard to compete with that, since most people want babies in the class.”

IMG_0231She adds that most of her goats are in their forever homes and are never sold for meet or over-bred for dairy. Morse left her marketing job in 2017 and later changed her company’s name to Original Goat Yoga in order to still be able to set her company apart from others.

“It was really fulfilling to have founded something that went viral,” Morse said.

But she was not prepared for how cut throat it could be with competitors. On top of that, Morse has animal activists attacking her frequently who judge her because they see how other businesses treat their goats.

“If they could only see what a great life these goats have (out in her field),” she said. “They’ve went so far as to make fake Facebook profiles to give me onestar reviews or comment on articles about what a horrible business woman I was.”

The best part of her journey is watching how happy it makes the participants, Morse said.

“When people come to the classes, they are smiling so hard and they leave so happy,” said Morse.

She said it is really fulfilling to know that goat yoga has spread all over the world, from South Africa, Australia, and all over the USA.

Starting from a small interest and growing to be the newest yoga trend, you can find these fun classes almost everywhere.

‘The Crime of Grindelwald’ captivates audiences with nostalgic theme

The newest sequel to “Fantastic Beasts” is filled with action and events that help widen the imagination of what the wizarding world is like.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is based on the book “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which is a companion book to the “Harry Potter” series by author J.K. Rawling.

This movie takes place several years before “Harry Potter,” showing Albus Dumbledore, played by Jude Law, as a young man. Besides Dumbledore, no other characters from “Harry Potter” are in this film.

The movie, which was released on Nov. 13, starts out with Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp, in a wizard prison. While the prison guards are moving him elsewhere, he starts a fight and escapes.

In an effort to stop Grindelwald from completing his plan, Dumbledore asks his former student, Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, for help. Being unaware of the dangers which lie ahead, Newt agrees.

While helping Dumbledore, Newt tries to find a place where he feels he belongs. He does not pick a side right away, runs his actions and judgements off his ethical beliefs, and helps a lot of magical creatures. Eventually his friend, Jacob Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler, asks Newt to help him find his girlfriend, Queenie Goldstein, who is played by Alison Sudol.

In an adventurous quest to help his friend, Newt comes across Tina Goldstein, the woman he likes. Tina, played by Katherine Waterston, joins Newt and Jacob in trying to find Queenie.

While taking shelter in a safe house, Jacob looks into a glass ball and sees Queenie in a grave yard. Rushing out the door, Jacob goes to find his love, while Tina and Newt are trying to find a letter. All end up in the grave yard. They walk into a trap set up by Grindelwald. Having to fight once more, the three are able to escape. Seeing what Grindelwald can do, Newt finally picks a side.

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” is exceptionally good. However, there is a lot of action with little explanation of what is going on. The movie was obviously different from the typical “Harry Potter” theme. With that being said, the movie, as a whole, is good. It brings in a lot of new, cute, and fun magical creatures from around the world, which at times, seemed to be harmful until Newt calms them.

Although the storyline is a little confusing and leaves you with questions, it is intriguing and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

I also did not like how Newt held himself back. He was almost always looking down, hiding his face. He was shy and lacked words when it came to conversing with other humans. He could not make up his mind about what to do in certain situations and seemed to be unsure of himself. At the end, he does seem to become a little more confident after he finally picks which side to be on. However, I felt that he was too introverted.

I thought the movie title was misleading. The title made me think that the movie was going to be about the crimes Grindlewald had already committed. That is not the case, since the movie was about gaining followers to build an army.

Something else I noticed was Professor Dumbledore in a suit. In the “Harry Potter” movies, Dumbledore wears old fashioned wizard robes. Why would Dumbledore go from a modern, sharp, suit to wearing vintage wizard robes? More than likely, this part of the movie was just poorly thought out by the director. But being a big “Harry Potter” fan, I, and I am sure others, noticed this and questioned what happened there.

Even though this movie had a lot of action and showed different events the magical world of Witches and Wizards has outside of Hogwarts, I give it a 7/10.