03MusingsAs almost a lifelong resident of Fayetteville’s Haymount neighborhood in six different houses and on both sides of Morganton Road, I am delighted that the city continues its assessment of the historic area. Haymount is an imminently livable neighborhood at the heart of an urban area. It deserves not only preservation but enhancement.

In our community, the sprawling residential developments that serve our military families address a real need for proximity to Fort Bragg. But Haymount and several other older neighborhoods are the backbone of Fayetteville, and they welcome and embrace military families who choose them for their unique quality of life.

Haymount boasts homes built in the early 19th century to homes built for World War II soldiers starting careers and families to Mc- Mansions built in recent decades. Sidewalks line many of its streets, making Haymount an outdoor community with children playing in the fresh air as parents watch. Residents do yard work, exercise outside, walk dogs and regularly commune with each other. The small but vital commercial district houses one of the best community theaters in North Carolina as well as boutique shopping, a large church, a post office and private offices, and neighborhood residents often walk to those places.

Fayetteville commissioned the Urban Land Institute in the Triangle area to take a look at Haymount. Its study suggests more and enhanced sidewalks, more trees and traffic and parking changes. The city has a great deal on its plate, as always, but enhancing a neighborhood that has shaped and continues to enliven our city deserves to be near the top of the list.

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American parents may be having changes of heart.

We, like parents around the world, have historically favored boy babies by a significant margin. Gallup, the polling organization, has polled on this question since 1941, and every time, until recently, found that 40 percent of us want a boy, 28 percent want a girl, and the rest are happy either way. Rightly or wrongly, there has been a worldwide preference for boys, and China with its long-running one child policy now faces a society with far more men than women.

In the U.S., at least, that may be changing.

The New York Times reported last week on a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, indicating that having a girl first no longer means the parents will keep trying to have a boy. In fact, it means they are less likely to keep trying. Much remains the same, of course. Generally speaking, men prefer boys, as do first- and second-generation immigrants, less educated parents and Republicans.

Less clear is what has changed to lessen that preference.

The reality that American women’s roles in society have expanded dramatically probably plays into the shift. Women increasingly get further in schools and universities and do well in today’s jobs that require social skills and empathy rather than physical strength. There may also be a sense that girls are easier to raise and less trouble than boys, but experience tells me that every family’s childrearing experience is unique.

The Times story by Claire Cain Miller ends with this:

“The fading bias against girls should cheer all who desire a more equalitarian society. But there is a risk to society if what replaces it is a bias against boys.”

A hearty “Amen!” from this mother of both.

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If you have not discovered TED talks, you might want to give them a try. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, but I find the talks are about most anything. Whether you agree with the speaker or not, the talks are intelligent and thought-provoking. Think Monica Lewinsky talking about being the world’s first victim of cyberbullying.

Hmmm …

One with more than 20 million viewers was done by Robert Waldinger, a Harvard professor and director of what is thought to be the longest-running study of adult development in history – 75 years. He notes that recent surveys find that millennials overwhelmingly hold money and fame as their life goals. Wrongo, according to Waldinger and the study.

What really makes and keeps us happy and healthy are good relationships with family and friends. When we nurture these, we protect our bodies and our brains. Reach out to those with whom you are estranged, angry or resentful. Chances are those feelings are taking a bigger toll on you than on them.

You will likely be happier for it – and healthier, too.

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