I got this…

Don’t Worry, I Don’t Actually Need to Sleep

“I can work 50 hours a week, go to school three nights a week, plan Girl Scout meetings, make that girls weekend and still make quality time for my kids and my husband. I just need to skip sleeping and I got this…”

A False Reality

This was my reality a few years back and I often, found myself constantly telling people, I can do anything for [fill in the blank] days/weeks/etc. but could I?? I still find there are nights where I’m missing my pillow more than I’d like but what I’ve realized over the last few years is that I can’t do it all and I most certainly can’t do it all at the same time. Do you have a career that’s just starting off? Do you have young kids or a new spouse? Are you on the edge of graduating or just about to reach that goal you set for yourself? What if the answer to all those questions is yes at the same time? How do you decide what takes the forefront and what take takes the back burner?

They’re Not All Doing It

I’ve realized that at some point we need to step back and take inventory of the things that mean the most at whatever point we’re at in life. We need to realize that although others may seem to be doing it all, they’re probably not and if they are, they’re paying for it. I am guessing we all know a few people that would like to make us think they are perfect or they’re superheroes? I know I sure do and I know that over the years, I’ve seen a few of them fall apart. Would you rather look like you’ve got it together and spend your life trying to be happy or choose what already makes you happiest and make it the best you can?

Fixing the Broken Reality Meter

Being realistic in life commitments and knowing your limits are the key to reuniting with your pillow, I mean sanity. Here’s a link to an interesting blog about how to do this and some other helpful tips to avoiding overloading ourselves. https://timemanagementninja.com/2010/03/6-ways-to-protect-yourself-from-overload

Time for some self-maintenance because you got this…right?

Gamers, let’s change the world

Fellow gamers, let’s talk about how gaming can change the world.

Game designer and author Jane McGonigal has a lot to say on this subject. In fact, she has written an entire book on the subject: Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. In this book, McGonigal provides “happiness hacks” by using games to improve our lives instead of escaping from them.

In the past, I always considered my time spent gaming as a way to escape the drudgery of life. School was boring, life was somewhat unfulfilling, and I never cared much for social engagements growing up. But in games I could experience what I craved in life: social interactions on a topic I was incredibly interested in, cooperation to achieve hard goals, structure that came with the rules and bounds of video games, and achievable goals that made me feel productive. I never knew how much games were doing for me.

In her 2010 TED talk, McGonigal claims, “Gamers are super-empowered hopeful individuals. These are people who believe that they are individually capable of changing the world. And the only problem is, they believe that they are capable of changing virtual worlds and not the real world. That’s the problem that I’m trying to solve.”

Even if this is true, I believe that games are already changing the world simply by changing our minds. In class, we learned that you can’t change someone’s behavior, but you can attempt to change someone’s mind and therefore help them to change their own behavior. Games are showing us the importance of working together, achieving small tasks in order to accomplish big goals, and how strongly we crave feeling significant.

For an example, let’s talk about Blizzard’s World of Warcraft (2004) since I’m a huge WoW nerd. In the world of Azeroth, my charater (the fluffball chicken monster in the screenshots below) is pretty powerful, but even I can’t take on a huge skeletal dinosaur monster all by my feathery self.

If I tried to defeat this by myself, I’d probably end up looking like that dead guy on the ground to my right. Lucky for me, World of Warcraft has millions of players. I’m not alone even if I am playing by myself.

Within minutes, I can find fellow players who are striving for the same goal and willing to work together to achieve it. Even if this momentary connection is fleeting, the important takeaway from this interaction is the understanding that I am not alone. No matter what I want to accomplish, there will always be people to work with as long as I reach out to find them.

This is just one example, but I believe this idea and countless others etch into the minds of gamers subconsciously to create a new generation of people with altered mindsets ready to work together and improve the world. Now when people encounter hard goals in real life, their brains are structured in a way that makes them want to tackle hardships and take on daunting tasks because their minds have been trained through video games.

McGonigal is right to believe gamers are capable of changing the world, but I believe it is already happening.

So game on and let’s change the world.

Yep – I’m THAT Neighbor…

The above picture may not be exciting to you, but to me it is – I’ve been working for a couple years to get Prairie Smoke plants to grow in a difficult space in my front yard and this spring they came back!! Yep – I’m THAT neighbor. While my yard doesn’t look like The Addams family lives here, you will immediately notice the front lawn has more than its fair share of dandelions and Creeping Charlie (excellent early pollen resources for the bees) and several spaces devoted to native prairie grasses and plants. If you were to look in the back yard, you would see even more native garden spaces (I’m excited to begin this year’s project – converting 50% of the remaining backyard green space back into its natural native prairie state).

If you speak to me one on one for almost any amount of time, my passion for pollinators (including bees and butterflies), the reestablishment of native prairie spaces in city spaces, and hatred of all things green lawn related will come up almost immediately. Things haven’t always been this way for me…it all started around seven years for purely selfish reasons. My divorce was complete, and I was stuck with a much too large house with an even larger yard. It was all too much for one person to maintain, so looking into ways to mow my lawn less was a priority. Almost immediately I found this article: https://healthylandethic.com/2013/11/17/why-prairies-matter-and-lawns-dont/

I bought into its message without hesitation: green grass lawns provide no long-term benefits to our, or the populations of wild animals, living experience. The article provides a great launching pad into this topic that everyone should be informed on. It states the obvious – the overuse of chemicals, combined with the overwatering of lawns is detrimental to our water supply (did you know that 99% of all open bodies of water tested in the United States contain common lawn pesticides?).

The article discusses how native prairies not only provide vital habitat to native birds and pollinators, but how their root systems extend up to 15 feet into the ground (as compared to the few inches that green grass lawns due). Why is that important? All green plants pull carbon gasses out of the air and store them in the ground. Native prairies are one of the most efficient ways we can reduce carbon gas from entering the atmosphere. Prairie root systems are also important for water filtration purposes (not to mention, once established they take little to no watering or maintenance). Be sure to check out the graphic showing different root systems compared to standard lawn grass.

As mentioned, I started looking for ways to cut back on lawn maintenance and it has quickly grown into a passion. As such, I can go on about a variety of topics related to lawns but will stop here for now and ask one thing from you: If you have a lawn, please consider returning some of it to a native state, or at least include native plants in your gardening and landscaping – our world needs it. The more you do, the more you will see your ecosystem change and I promise you that once the bees and butterflies begin showing up, the native birds will as well (it sounds geeky, but it is pretty cool). While you aren’t solving all the world’s problems, you will be contributing to the solution in a tangible way. Who knows, maybe it will become one of your passions that you can spread along to others as well.

Volunteering & Giving Back

I’ve always had a desire to help others and give back to those in need. I feel like there are many of us out there that want to help but often don’t know where to start. Today through this blog post I intend to enlighten you through my experiences.

One of the first major volunteer projects I was involved with is Dress for Success. This was initially a project through a class turned into a passion. It was/is a great organization whose primary focus is to help women build the skills, and attire to compete in the work force. I found great pleasure in outfitting women for job interviews, the office is in St. Paul. I remember a letter the office received from a woman I had helped get a whole week’s wardrobe talk about how great the experience was and how I had given her confidence and made her feel beautiful.

My current volunteer endeavor was an effort that sparked from an Employee Resource Group at my current employer. We’ve built groups to build relationships, appreciation, knowledge, influencing change, and helping the community in outreach efforts. I am apart of our PRIDE committee and through this group I was able to connected to the Quatrefoil Library. I am an acting board member for the library we recently launched a Scholarship that many of the people reading this blog could be eligible for, and if not at least spread the word to others. We are currently trying to build the Young Adult Collection as well as appeal to a younger audience. The Library is warm place for LGBTQ community members and allies to foster knowledge through the various forms of media available in the space located in Minneapolis.

In relation to linking these two organizations together; they both also aim to help the community they service. I was unaware of both initiatives before I was introduced to them through either my work or school. I learned that many companies offer employees Volunteer Time Off (VTO) to go out in the community during a normal work shift and give back. You are still paid to go volunteer your time; it gives you a feel-good moment as well as looks good for the company. This time is often wasted, which is unfortunate because it could be taken advantage of and can contribute to making many changes in people’s lives. I would like to encourage readers to check out the VTO policies available to you, if that’s not the case even looking into one time a year or month events could influence and enhance the good Samaritan in ourselves.

Endanger Species Day

May 17th was Endangered Species Day. Each year that goes by we lose more and more animals living on the brink of extinction. Some of those species are going to disappear. Not in a decade or even the next 5 years. Some of them will not live to see the next Endangered Species Day. That’s why the endangered animals of this world need you today.

Today you can act, and save this incredibly rich biodiversity that survives only here on our planet. Purchase from Amazon smile, with World Wildlife Fund as recipient, and Amazon will make a percent donation on your behalf at no expense to you.

Now, despite sending out $125 million in donations, Amazon smile has sent that money out to all different kinds of charities. It also only donates .5% of each purchase using Amazon smile, which means it adds up slowly.

But these endangered species need your help today or they will disappear forever!

That’s why I strongly encourage you make your a contribution of your own to https://www.worldwildlife.org/ today. Many of these animals could be gone before you know it. Don’t wait, your chance to make a difference is now.

My Dogs are Prescribed

Assistance /Emotional Support Animals

Both of my dogs, Grace & Boo are legally considered my emotional support animals & have been recommended or ‘prescribed’ by a mental-health therapist .

Assistance animals are not the same as service animals. There are specific requirements that pets (usually dogs) need to fulfill in order to be a certified service animal.

Assistance animals don’t necessarily need to be trained to perform specific tasks in order to fulfill their owners needs. Needs vary. They may include high anxiety & stress or depression, as mentioned on The Human Society of the United States website.

Grace is my 7 year-old mutt who has been with me through… thick and thin. Honestly, it may sound cliché, but I don’t really care hah. I really don’t know where I would be right now if it wasn’t for this pup’s unconditional love & support through the numerous storms I’ve encountered these past few years-and of course my lovely girlfriend as well ❤

My 7 Year-old and I

I am so grateful that under FHA (Fair Housing Act), landlords are required to make “reasonable accommodations” for those tenants (like myself) that own assistance animals. It still amazes me that it’s a requirement by law, for apartment buildings to allow my dogs to live with me-even if it ever happened to be at a “no-pets allowed” facility.


1: Health benefits of painting?

This is just a quick painting I did a few weeks ago. I’ve always loved to draw and paint- not to sell or to hang in my house but just because I’ve always thought it was so relaxing and has helped me unwind after a long and stressful week. I also grew up going to schools where the arts was always encouraged, but never really understood or thought about the reasoning behind why it was so valued and such a big part of the curriculum. That is, until now.

According to The Health Fitness Revolution, there are many health benefits of painting. From improving concentration, to boosting creativity, to a simple way to relax, it turns out that we could benefit in a variety of ways by simply picking up a paint brush and letting our creative minds flow.

So how does this relate to the rest of us? Well, for many of us college students, our lives can get pretty hectic. From our day jobs to our night classes to our families at home, we’re bombarded with information and responsibilities on a daily basis. But most of us are pretty used to it at this point, right? Well, even if we are, we’re still human beings who need that time to unwind. Now, my personal version of unwinding includes a paint brush in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, but to each their own. My point is, is that we take on so much as individuals, so it’s important that we find a way to balance the stress.

But why is this so important? Well, according to HCF, too much stress can take a tole on both our physical and mental health. But, if we take care of our bodies, practice relaxation and give ourselves time to recharge, we’ll be able to take care of our responsibilities by taking care of ourselves as well.

Why is Losing Weight so Hard? Blog Post 1

You would think it would be easy to just make a decision to eat healthy, and lose weight right? I’m here to tell you why I personally have struggled and how I’m getting over it. So if you have ever struggled with your weight, and eating this post is for you!

My #1 struggle with deciding to lose weight is that I love food. Not only do I love food but I love food that is not healthy. I have had to make the decision to try to find alternatives. A great example is Caribou Coffee, where it is so easy to make a bad decision. Get a Turtle Mocha Cooler and you will be drinking your entire days worth of calories. Does that still sound worth it? I had to find a different option because drinking nothing wasn’t going to work for me. I tried a Crafted Press Cooler and loved it! This alternative allows me to feel like I am splurging, but in reality I am making a better decision. There are alternatives for everything, and it is our responsibility to figure out what works for us.

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I can even still drink Caribou! #8points #ww

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My second struggle is that I needed to find my why. My why needed to be a variety of things. For me I wanted to be able to keep up with my family when we go out. My husband is a speed walker, and where I am at right now, weight wise, I cannot keep up. Not only is that embarrassing, it also means that I to have to miss out on key moments in life with my family. I want to be able to experience what they experience and not just worry about the fact that I am tagging behind. I also want to live a longer life, and be able to enjoy it. These are just a couple of my why’s, and if you have the same struggles, you will have to find yours.

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She loves walking Bella

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My 3rd struggle is finding the time to fit in meal prepping. I need to be able to figure out what I am going to eat fast. I work 47 hours every week, have a 2 year old, foster dogs and go to college. I can’t spend hours making a meal. I have always done WW (Weight Watchers) however, but I found I spent too much time meal prepping so I started getting creative. I use http://www.skinnytaste.com to help find easy meals, and I also use what other members post in WW (Weight Watchers). I like each meal to take less than 30 minutes. Below are a couple of some easy meals I have had recently.

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Ice cream sandwich! #goodfood #icecream #ww #3points

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My fourth and final struggle is making excuses because there is some sort of event. There will always be another reason to eat poorly: Vacation, birthday party, Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Memorial day, Labor Day, 4th of July, Thanksgiving and many more. I had to realize that I can still splurge once in awhile and maintain control, but in order to do that I couldn’t let it continue to the next meal and then the next. I had to say, I went and I enjoyed it, but we are back on the horse. Too many times I let events derail me, but I cant let that control me. I move forward and continue pushing on. Good luck in your journey!

1: The link between music and health

It’s no surprise that music has the ability to fight depression—but did you also know it has the ability to improve blood flow and lower your levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone)? Even listening to music before surgery can improve post-surgical results.

All the technical language summed up is that is activates chemicals in the brain that make you feel good and helps regulate emotion and memory. The benefits of music can be compared to meditation. Both had outstanding improvements involving mood and quality of sleep. Let’s be honest, more people would much rather listen to music than partake in meditation.

BUT, music also has the ability to make us incredibly nervous. (Cue the Halloween theme song). In that case, silence would be better than listening to something random. Some music can also encourage negative emotions in us such as anger and aggression. The rhythm and other musical elements have the ability to change our brain’s activity just like it can do the opposite and make us feel good. So confusing, I know.

Just like you would expect, slow tempo music with gradual chord progressions make us feel calm whereas chaotic, up-tempo music can do the opposite. To make matters a little more complicating, not everyone is the same. While some people may think AC/DC is too hectic, some people claim for that to be their relaxation music. http://time.com/5254381/listening-to-music-health-benefits/

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Would you like to live in your bathtub ?

I hope you did not click on this post because living in your bathtub sounds pleasing.  That being said, we have some serious matters to discuss

Orcas have been captured, bought, sold, used, and abused for money, since 1961. Over the years, more and more marine parks began using orcas in their shows for the public. The profit from these parks and shows is astonishing, and arguably the only reason orcas are still in captivity. Research upon research shows how these captivating mammals suffer in captivity. They commit suicide, they live shorter lives, they become sick, their bodies don’t develop properly, and they are just plain sad. Here is a link to some of the many devastating results of orcas being captured and brought into captivity. https://m.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2013/11/06/blackfish-tales-stories-of-orcas-in-captivity

These stories, along with research and advocacy has brought awareness and some change. SeaWorld was forced to phase out using orcas in their performances and to stop breeding. This was a giant, wonderful step in the right direction. However, these mammals should not even be in these tanks to begin with. It is not natural, it’s clearly not healthy, and it’s downright cruel.  In the title I asked you, “Would you like to live in a bathtub?”  You may have thought in your head “well, that’s ridiculous, nobody would want that.”  But for these orcas, they didn’t even have a choice. I encourage you to read this explanation of what the captive orca is subjected to. https://www.betterworldclub.com/blog/2014/08/07/could-you-live-in-a-bathtub/

How do you feel after reading those stories? Let me know below in the comments.  Now my intention was not to make you depressed, although you may be after reading all of that information. I am pleased to tell you, there is a solution, and it is in its beginning stages, which is very exciting. There is hope! There are good people out there who have decided to actually do something about this issue and have take action. For years the idea of dolphin and whale sanctuary’s was discussed and debated. The Whale Sanctuary Project has plans to make it happen.  I will link their website here. It has more information on why orcas, other whales and dolphins should not be in captivity, along with their plans, their team, and bios on the mammals they’d like to help more. https://whalesanctuaryproject.org

I hope that I get to watch this project grow and become even more of a reality, and that they are able to accomplish all that they plan to. 

If you realize the magnitude of this issue, and care about these beautiful, intelligent creatures like I do, spread the word. Encourage people to boycott SeaWorld, instead go on whale watching excursions or watch them in their natural habitats from the shore. Take concrete action and donate or support the The Whale Sanctuary. Comment down below some animals you love or would love to observe in their natural habitat!