All posts by amethystervin

Blog 6 – Public voice -Seek help

For me this semester was an emotional rollercoaster. It began with my boyfriend and I getting engaged literally on top of a mountain. A few weeks later I learned that half of my team was laid off and their jobs were outsourced to contractors in India. I thought I would have been a part of that lay off, so I took 4 classed this semester – on top of full time work. Then I fell on the ice and got a concussion, spent two weeks in my bed in the darkness, slowly went back to work and have headaches almost everyday – 3 months later (the last picture below is my acupuncture in case you have a weak stomach)! Then my fiancees dad took a turn for the worse, on my birthday we found out that the cancer was filling his entire torso and all they could do was manage his pain. My fiance left soon after and went home to Fargo. I could not go because we have a dog and I have uncontrolled asthma and am at higher risk for Coronavirus. So for an entire month of quarantine I was alone, sad that my fiancees dad passed away and I could not be there for the services and to support Craig and his brothers. Now we are in the midst of trying to figure out what to do with his dads furniture, car, apartment in the middle of a global pandemic when things are closed and people are scared and it is literally chaos. Oh and we can’t even plan our wedding because the state is basically shut down.

Why am I telling you all of this? For two reasons. 1. My therapist told me to write it down, that it might help my anxiety and depression to “let the feelings out” 2. Because you should know that there are resources out there if you went through a shitty semester, month or pandemic.

According to the CDC’s website “Mental health disorders are among the most burdensome health concerns in the United States. Nearly 1 in 5 US adults aged 18 or older (18.3% or 44.7 million people) reported any mental illness in 2016.2 In addition, 71% of adults reported at least one symptom of stress, such as a headache or feeling overwhelmed or anxious.”

Mental health is something that has been stigmatized for a long time. But I think that is changing, there are podcasts about mental heath, there are apps, and there are now companies that exclusively offer virtual therapy that you can access via chat, email or video calls! Metrostate offers walk-in counseling, many workplaces offer free emergency assistance including mental health services.

I guess my point is that you’re going to get through whatever you are going through faster and with more success if you seek out the help of friends, family, and professionals. When I scheduled time with my therapist I told her that I was at the point that I realized how negative that I was being in all of my conversations with friends and I didn’t want to only be negative because it wasn’t helping me feel better.

I found that it helps me to have to things to look forward to, like 5 more classes until I graduate. A wedding sometime next year. Oh, and I am engaged and we have this ridiculous dog who make us laugh out loud literally every day!

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We found out our girl REALLY loves water.

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Post 5 – public voice – Take advantage of your passive resources – get smarter!

I feel like that old lady telling her younger self what she should have done to be her best self now. But since I can’t talk to my past self, I am going to try and influence you.

In my second blog I spoke about podcasts, well I am not ready to get off that soapbox yet. The news can become overwhelming, it often feels biased and sensationalized to get clicks. So many people just tune it all out and base their opinions off limited knowledge. Instead of being this person who makes voting or other decisions without much research – que the lady in Iowa that supported Pete Buttigieg until she knew he was gay – a fact that had been shared publicly for years.

My point is don’t bury your head in the sand. Podcasts are a great way to passively learn and control the kind of content that you are receiving. I used to listen to music all day when I was at work, and one day a friend of mine recommended a podcast. So I checked it out, all of the sudden I realized that I had been spending at least 8 hours a day hearing the same songs I had heard hundreds of times. I was wasting my time. When I listen to a podcast it helps me focus having the same voice or voices speak to me from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the podcast. It relaxed me because it was easier to focus then having the song change every four minutes. I got to sit at my desk and learn while I worked. It was like I was being paid to work and learn at the same time!

Like music I listen to a crazy variety of podcasts – including economics podcasts like “Freakonomics”, and “Planet Money”, psychological/human behavior podcasts like “Hidden Brain”, “Swindled”, investigative journalistic podcasts (which are so incredible with their reporting it is like listening to a documentaty) like “In The Dark” and “Pretend Radio”, or true crime like “Wine and Crime” (by three Minnesota women/liberal/feminists), and “Generation Why”.

My point is that no matter what your interests are, there are podcasts geared directly to you. They create content and research and tell you the stories, you can choose what you learn, and you can learn from your desk, while you commute, while you study, while you garden. Just learn! They are small, digestible content that will help you be a smarter more informed person in whatever topic is important to you!

Here, Huffpost gives us 5 benfits/reasons to listen to podcasts. Basically, it’s typically free, it’s easy, it makes you smarter, it’s a better use of time than Candy Crush (you can do both at the same time too), and it can act as a small escape from reality. You can find something to focus on that takes your minds focus like a good book – in that case I recommend the podcasts Lore or Imagined Life!

As always some pictures from two of the True Crime live podcasts I have attended. As much as I love my other podcasts, they would be boring live 😉

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With my favorite people!

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Lucy from Wine and Crime!

Post 4 – Why you should be able to garden and store food!

Not a very controversial topic, I know. But if COVID 19, my volunteer work with others who are facing food insecurity, and the NPR podcast I referenced in blog 2 have taught me is that the future is uncertain. We do not know if we will lose our jobs, if the stores will run out of produce of if they will have to price gauge to prevent people from hoarding certain products.

My grandmother, mother and some aunts have all historically canned pickles and jams. Which are a delicious treat when you go home or to a family gathering. My grandmas pickles are the reason all 35 of my cousins LOVE pickles and will fight over the remaining pickle juice. Gross, I know. But, it is a part of who we have been since we were able to have solid food.

My fiance and I started a garden in our yard 3 years ago. We started slow. We tested out the soil, what grew well for us, what was undisturbed by rabbits and squirrels. and what amount was just right in order for us to waste less. Alright, I am not going to lie. We STILL over produce and last year I had zucchinis the size of my calves and hundreds of cherry tomatoes to harvest.

The next question was what to do with it all? We shared peppers, zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes with our neighbors. I canned pickled tomatoes (perfect as a garnish on a bloody mary, or a surprising sweet pickled snack!), I made homemade pasta sauce, we blanched and froze green beans, froze zucchini for breads.

Why should you care? Well, in a time when the world is scary and we do not know what impacts COVID 19 will continue to have on our grocery shopping experience, and the availability and cost of fresh food – if you are able to grow and store your own food you can take a little worry out of your life and gardening is a little therapeutic.

The last potential obstacle I can think of – I don’t have a yard. Glad you brought it up, many urban communities offer community gardens where you can lease a small plot and grow and maintain your fresh feast. If that is not an option consider reaching out to family and friends to see if they have space and want to split the work and produce!

Don’t believe me? Listen to research done by The World Health Organization and The University of North Carolina Chapel hill, gardening improves your financial, physical, and mental health!

Below are pictures of my tomato hoards throughout the years.

OH AND – the most important part. Canning is basically botany. So please make sure you follow recipes and sterilize your jars properly so you do not make you and your loved ones very ill!

Post 3 – Wild Turkeys in the city.

I’m going to just put this out there, the Department of Natural Resources is wrong! More than “some” wild Turkey interactions are negative. Because they are living in urban areas they are becoming more of a nuisance, and are increasingly less fearful of humans and are more confrontational.

Why are wild turkeys in the city bad? I have experienced them when I lived in Uptown Minneapolis near Loring Park and in Northeast Minneapolis where I live now. Interactions I have had, being chased down a sidewalk between a turkey and a garbage truck, them stopping traffic in downtown Minneapolis during rush hour, watching them peck at my neighbors cars while walking my dog, having to run away from them while walking my dog. Several instances of wishing it was closer to Thanksgiving and legal to kill turkeys in the city.

I think Hennepin County is trying to downplay the destruction and danger that wild turkeys can do in urban environments because they do not know how to resolve the problem. In the middle of Minneapolis we should not have to worry about walking into a pack of 6 turkeys when we walk around the side of the house, but it happens frequently regardless of the weather and time of year.

A top priority of urban Hennepin County should be relocating these beasts for their and our benefit and not recommend that we just ignore them and keep our distance.

Pictures of the pests and my personal interactions and IG handle #wildturkeyinthecity

Blog Post 2 – Willie Nelson and Food Insecurity

Today is Willie Nelson AKA The Redheaded Stranger, The Outlaw, Shutgun Willie’s 87th birthday. I know what you are probably thinking he probably has the muchies and because of COVID19 the grocery store was probably out of cheetos and birthday cake? Well you might be right, we’ll never know. That is not the connection that I have drawn between the two articles below.

This Rolling Stone Magazine article includes a quarantine tribute song written by Nathaniel Rateliff and his friends to Celebrate Willie Nelson’s Birthday today.

Unfortunately I am not able to make the second link as pretty as the first because of some fomatting on the NPR Site. The second article is a transcript and podcast of Planet Money from NPR called Food and Farmworkers episode 984. The podcast focuses on the projected impacts that COVID19 will have on America’s ability to farm and distribute produce around the country.

What do the have to do with each other, for non Willie Nelson obsessed people like myself it may not be obvious. In 1985 Willie Nelson teamed up with John Mellencamp and Neil Young to create a concert to support farmers who have or are at risk for losing their family farms and to raise funds to support them and keep American agriculture privately owned and not commercialized. Since then they hold concerts featuring many different artists every year and have raised over $57 million dollars!

Why should you care – well listen to this 17 minute podcast. Because of migration/travel bans many migrant workers will not be able to come to America from Mexico to help in planting and harvesting the food the we depend on. Not only may that lead to produce shortages and price gauging, but it also may lead to the loss of more family owned farms. Planet Money is a incredibly insightful podcast and makes the dangers of this situation easy to digest.

And finally I will leave you with my favorite Willie Nelson song from the second Farm Aid concert in 1986 and a couple of my favorite photos!

Blog Post 1 – Acts of service

At one point in time we are all going to need someone else’s help. Whether it is a favor, a few bucks, or a place to go for the holidays. By sharing kindness with others we are able to give back in little ways that makes the world a better place!

One of the most meaningful things I have done in the last year for others and for myself was to spend more time volunteering. Not everyone always has extra money to throw at a cause they are passionate about. Volunteering is a good way to spread the word about causes in the world that need attention and to encourage others to help in fun or meaningful ways. In the last year I volunteered to help three different causes and I will use the space below to open your eyes about potential to bring more joy into your life and those of others.

The first place I volunteered was Feed My Starving Children which packs dry nutrient dense meals to send to children around the world who might otherwise go hungry. Overall the experience is a little too preachy for me, but it feels good spending an afternoon helping children you will never meet and knowing you are helping them be healthy. Quick tip: I’ve done this about 5 or 6 times, bring friends – it makes the experience more fun and fulfilling. Find more here

The second place I volunteered was through an opportunity my work offered me. My company has a big focus and philanthropy and good corporate social responsibility and they actually will pay every full time employee to take a week off and volunteer somewhere, AND they will donate $500 to that organization if you volunteer for at least 25 hours! So I went down to New Bern, North Carolina last May to help with disaster recovery relief with an organization called All Hands and Hearts! This was my favorite because I have family that live there who are first responsders and personally impacted and I was able to help rebuild their community. Depending what phase of the cleanup the teams are on you are either gutting or rebuilding houses for local people impacted by natural disasters. If you can handle dormitory style housing, and a curfew this kind of volunteer work will change your life. Oh wait – AND you can choose a volunteer location all around the world! In a future trip I would like to go to the Caribbean or different parts of Mexico because you also have free time to explore! Below are my wonderful coworkers! You can find more information here

Finally, I volunteered at Loaves and Fishes in North Minneapolis. Loaves and Fishes is a no questions asked service that provides free meals to people across the state at many different locations. The North Minneapolis church that I volunteered at was New Bethel Baptist Church who estimate the feed 75 people every night Monday – Friday. This is a simple way to help those in need in your community and open your eyes to the world of food insecurity. Again, the value of this experience is immeasurable, and It is a great experience for families! Find more here:

I hope this has inspired you to find ways that you can help support causes you care about and make the world a better place!