Tag Archives: Blog Post 1 – Intelligent Filter – Annotated Link

Sallie Mae lied to us

Thousands of student loan borrowers are about to see their debt forgiven. Navient is one of the largest servicers of student loans in the nation and has recently settled in court having to cancel 1.7 billion in debt forgiving roughly 66,000 borrowers nationwide. This is a huge settlement and much-needed relief for those affected by Navient’s predatory lending practices.  

Although Navient did not admit fault in the lawsuit stating that they did not act illegally.  They are choosing to resolve claims they felt were unfounded citing that those claims would incur additional expense, time, and distraction from the overall goals of the company. It’s worth noting that those who are being relieved of their debt don’t have to do anything and a notice will be sent to individuals that qualify.  

Despite Navient’s claims I have a suspicion that the leaders of this company saw what’s coming down the pipeline. They’ve chosen the wiser path of getting ahead of this issue and settling before further damage is done to their business or reputation. The rapacious lending practices are in full view when we consider that Navient was borrowing money at a rate of 16% when the average loan rate rarely goes above 6%.  

Furthermore, they leveraged their private loan relationships to get on preferred lender lists at universities and colleges. They did this with full knowledge that these loans would default due to rising costs. As a student myself I feel particularly appalled when I hear news like this since we likely know someone who’s been an unwitting victim of a lending scheme. It goes without saying that if we choose to borrow money, we should only take what we need. Considering how rare it is to see accountability like this we should also do a thorough look at the company servicing the loan.  


Mental Health and being an Artist


In this blog post published by WePresent, writer Micha Frazer-Carroll discusses how creativity is linked to mental health. I am a photographer and workin the ratove industry, I also am an advocate for mental health as a person with depression and from a community where mental health issues are common yet stigmatized. Many of the stories shared by Micha are relatable and highlight things I want to bring attention to in my community. To support this story is a survey conducted by wepresent with 300 creative professionals. 

Being an artist 

There is a history of art and mental illness being interlinked. A cliche of pop culture that emotional suffering is linked to greater creativity. Famously Davinci has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, people speculate that in his most intense emotional state towards the end of his life, he created 300 of his greatest pieces. Artists are inspired by the struggles in their personal lives but after a while that can also be draining and hinder them from being able to express themselves artistically. Many artists don’t argue that they feel artistry is 2nd nature, something they can’t control or choose but instead a gift that has chosen them. I would be easy to tell artist to choose another career path but its not that easy, and nor should people have to leave their passions to have a healthy life balance. Personally, I can be inspired by all aspects of my life, positive or negative but I prefer to model the artist of the past whose mental health became too bad. Here the art was not enough to keep them alive. 

The current creative experience in the field 

The current work industry relies on free, underpaid and overworked labor from young professionals. This looks like unreliable hours due to last minute requests or cancelations, getting pushed back on wages or not being paid at all and being overworked for jobs. Many creative industries often treat creative work like its not a job and rather a lifestyle choice and industry job scarcity/competition as reasons for the lack of organization and ethical practices. This can tow on a creative energy, self worth and time. Within this industry your work and effort can be directly linked to your portfolio and personal grit, which can lead to undelthy self perception. The industry like any other requires you be an advocate for yourself and work hard but within artistry there is a foundation of benign undervalued and not taken seriously that make the easiest jobs and task even harder to do. It would be nice to feel comfortable within a working environment and be treated and paid fairly. Especially since the industry relies mostly on freelaces or contracted work, many people have to jiggle different jobs unlike your typical industry. Artist are tired. 

Things that need to improve 

To put an end to the cliche cycle of emotionally distressed artists and great work, changes need to be made. Improvements looks like permanent jobs, better hours, structure, management training, unions and better working conditions. This would greatly improve the lives of creatives and would support them to create work without being emotionally torn. 

 “There is an inherent contradiction here: that creativity can serve as a therapeutic tool, but can worsen creatives’ mental states when pursued professionally. For the sake of people in creative industries—and for all of us who enjoy the fruits of their labor—we must collectively work towards a world where this trade-off is no longer a reality.”

Finding a Work/Life Balance When You Work from Home

March 2020 Mood


In this blog post from psychologytoday.com, Dr. Thalma Lobel discusses the impact the COVID pandemic had on many workers across the US. I had never worked from home a day in my life before the pandemic (although when I used to work retail, I would joke with my coworkers about how working from home would be “the life,” wishing I could earn money from the comfort of my couch.). Many of the things mentioned in this blog post are things that I have encountered and have worked to overcome in terms of adjusting to my new work “normal.”

Milhouse learning how to become my new office support!

Staying connected with colleagues: I have been working for Hennepin County as a case manager/job counselor for about seven years and had worked in one of our satellite offices at Sabathani Community Center in South Minneapolis until the end of March 2020. I said goodbye to my coworkers that had become very near and dear to know, not fully realizing I wouldn’t see them again to this day. Skype meetings and friendly email updates serve as the social exchanges I have with them in place of the coffee or tea breaks we’d share in the office. While I did feel a great loss in my newfound work space with the absence of my coworkers, I had always felt thankful that my employer enforced safety measures for all of us considering the new threat of the COVID pandemic.

Make sure your room is well lit: While my new WFH office started out as my bedroom (not a good fit for mental or physical health) and is now my living room, the lighting everywhere in my apartment is no match for the bright lights at my now shuttered Sabathani office. The solution: keep the curtains open during the work-day and be sure to keep those lights on during those gloomy winter and thunderstorm days.

Minnehaha Falls

Establish boundaries during work and leisure time: I have often felt lucky being in Minnesota in particular during the pandemic because while we did shut down everything but “essential businesses”, we did not have lockdown like they did in New York where people could not leave their homes. The summer of 2020 here in Minneapolis was marked by the tragedy of George Floyd being killed by Minneapolis police, and if you were living close to Cup Foods at the time like I was (I lived on the block of 37th and Columbus at the time, 400 feet away), it could’ve been difficult to get out of your WFH environment and feel like you could find a place to go to unwind from your work day. These days, I am living just south of uptown and am able to bike around in the spring/summer/fall to obtain the work/life balance that works best for me.

We all have unique experiences related to what happened to us and our families in the last two years. Many people did not get the opportunity to work from home and were either laid off (and received unemployment hopefully) or continued to work in essential services positions to keep things like food, goods (remember toilet paper shortages?) and medicine available to society. Their achievement of a healthy work/life balance matters just as much, and probably even more if their positions require intensive contact with the public – I admire their resiliency and imagine their need for a structure to support a “new normal” looks relatively similar in terms of setting up the home environment to support a safe space to unwind.

Winter Rusting

After moving to Los Angeles with everything packed into my tiny Hyundai Elantra an issue started to become more apparent. After years of driving on Minnesotan roadways, my car picked up a small bug that would slowly eat its way through the underside of my car.

Why Does Rust Occur?

In the article “How to Stop Rust From Ruining Your Car” Rachel Schneider states that rust can be caused when dirt strips away the protective coating on your car’s paint which allows rust to develop and spread. Another way that is popular, especially with people living in snowy areas, is when snow and ice coat the underside of a vehicle with corrosive residue that originates from the salt and chemicals applied to the road during the winter.

What Can I Do to Prevent It?

The easiest way to prevent rust on your car is to get it washed every two weeks. You cannot stop there though as water can also cause rust if it sits in your vehicle for too long so make sure to dry the car after and make sure it sits in your garage or carport. It is important to keep tabs on the condition of your paint job as this is one of the first steps to rust development. If you notice flaking on your paint anywhere on the car you will want to get it fixed. Rust can also appear where two pieces of metal connect, this is because they are most likely rubbing together over time. Look under your hood, doors, and trunk to look for areas where the paint appears as though it is bubbling, and make sure to touch it up.

When my mechanic in Sun Valley told me that there was rust on the underside of my car causing an oil leak I was not very surprised considering my car had spent the majority of its life in Minnesota during harsh winter seasons. It did make me think about what I would do if the car was brand new, and because of this, I will be making more changes to how I take care of my car going forward because if one thing is certain its that if you live in LA without a car, you’re not getting anywhere.

Is Social Media Healthy

Is Social Media Healthy?

This blog post contains information on the health components of the usage of social media. 

Many individuals who use social media are being reinforced into believing “likes” are a reward. When we feel as though we are liked enough by others, our brain releases dopamine, making us feel better about ourselves.

I am guilty, social media has definitely made me care more about the way I present myself. The beauty standards, especially for women are unattainable and fake. Social media has created filters, photo editing apps, beauty enhancement features. Many individuals, post in order to gain or get a response from others focusing to much of their energy on interactions. Many individuals focus on the feedback from their post and also compare their post to others.


I was introduced to this new term called FOMO, which stands for Fear of Missing Out. Many fear not making memories and missing out on experiences. Missing experiences can often lead to anxiety and depression. Often, many individuals find out through social media that they were not invited to an event. Not being invited to an event that all your friends are at can cause overthinking, provoke thoughts and negative feelings. 

It is important to remember that this is a real thing and often can make us as humans feel bad about ourselves. I bet, we can all agree we’ve been left out of something and has affected us negatively. Social media has made it seem as though others have better lives than the ones we do and are having more fun than we are. It is important to remember that this phenomenon is becoming normalized due to the consumption of social media. There are helpful coping methods to deal with the fear of missing out. It is important that many focus on what they have rather than what they lack. Doing healthy things for example like journaling and finding   meaningful connections can help with the negative health affects of FOMO and the negative affect of social media. 

Social Media on Mental Health

Social media has many benefits if used positively. It allows many to share their ideas, connects individuals, and many get news and information from using social media.  If used negatively it can impact your health by creating depression, anxiety, and feeling lonely.

If you find yourself de-prioritizing your self over social media, noticing that relationships are being affected, noticing that you’re falling behind on priorities, and comparing yourself to others and getting jealous, social media has affect your mental health. 

When I realize that my mental health is off, I’ve find myself setting  limiting social media apps

to decrease my usage on social media. Social media has definitely affected my mental health. I have found myself worrying about things that don’t matter due to social media. I have often taken  social media breaks to focus on myself.  

“Social media has created a society that cares about “likes” rather than meaningful connections. Social media can be damaging towards our mental health. Some helpful tips include talking breaks from social media and finding meaningful connections”. 

IneyeMDST instagram

Why I Choose Gentle Parenting

“Too much love won’t spoil. Kindness doesn’t provoke poor behavior. Respect doesn’t invite disrespect. This backward thinking has caused us to feel trapped into being too harsh for too long. Generations of children are still searching and longing for unconditional love.”

Rebecca Eanes

What is Gentle Parenting?

Gentle Parenting is considered to be the most beneficial approach to raising children. It focuses on these aspects; gentleness, empathy, nonviolence, thoughtfulness, listening, and embracing. You can easily remember these by the acrostic nature of this approach (G.E.N.T.L.E).

This approach doesn’t throw discipline out the window completely as you may think. Instead it focuses on teaching rather than punishing. Discipline in this aspect is highly recommended as it helps a child understand how to healthily express their emotions, or how to communicate effectively in the future while in an established safe space.

I have been on the opposite side of gentle parenting. I was, and still am, scared of approaching my parents in any way. During my childhood, I have been brushed off or told I wasn’t doing good enough based on their standards. If I talked in a certain way or didn’t want to do something, instant punishment. As a result, it led to some doubts towards my abilities and overall being. This is where the issue lies. It isn’t just my experience, it’s a huge representation of our population, and we have the power to change it for our children and those to follow.

There are many benefits to this evidence-based approach of parenting. These include…

  • Focuses on cognitive state of child to help establish boundaries that are suitable for the specific age category and in the end, benefits them.
  • May reduce the risk of anxiety
  • Children see parents model appropriate behavior and set expectations that children can effectively acheive and easily follow.
  • Children gain a better understanding of how they should act and speak

“When we show gentleness, especially during stressful times, we model frustration tolerance, and we model flexibility. Staying calm and being gentle and firm sets the tone for positive growth and development”

Allison Andrews

How to Become a Gentle Parent

It can be both simple and difficult to implement this approach of parenting for your children. To help you get started and gain insight of this technique, here are some helpful tips.

  • Don’t expect perfection
  • Always apologize
  • Pay attention to your triggers
  • Not all solutions will work

It’s important to be conscious of your mental health and well-being first to properly display behavior to your children. It’s a learning process that goes both ways. You learn from each other as you build a healthy connection. I believe that is the beauty behind this parenting approach. This is why I choose gentle parenting, and I hope to influence others to do the same.



Welcome to MDST 485!

Hi everyone. I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you a couple of thoughts about Communication for Social Change, and how it is related to the purpose of this class. I thought this post might also be a way to share some ideas about how to structure blog posts for the course, so I’ll write this post using the first type, the Annotated Link post.

The Impact of Communication on Society

You are all aware of how the media impact our society. From the mis/disinformation spread on social media that has consumed much of our public discourse over the last 6 (or more) years to the large audiences that consume popular media such as music, movies, and – yes – news programming, it’s clear that corporate mass and social media have a generally deleterious effect on our society. Part of this is because media, particularly the mass media, are one-way forms of information with little substantial opportunity for feedback to the senders of media messages. When these media are coupled with the ability to create persuasive, scientifically supported rhetorical events, it can be difficult for media consumers (all of us) to understand how we are being both manipulated and controlled by these media. Additionally, the consolidated ownership of media poses its own challenges and risks to free speech and democracy. While there is – sometimes – a line between editorial and corporate interests in the media, the purpose of corporate ownership of media is profit.

Communication for Social Change is Different

While it may use some of the same platforms, CSC is based on a different set of principles than marketing or corporate media production, even news or “information” content. At least on paper, the primary function of communication for development (C4D), social and behavior change communication (SBCC) and just plain old social and behavior change (SBC) is to fulfill human rights through change. Sometimes this directly involves communication with people at the grassroots, but other times, many times, it involves advocacy around bad policies, lack of infrastructure, or other barriers to change.

The field is also experiencing a change in which the focus isn’t only on communication as a change channel. This article on the EAST framework explains how pro-social behaviors can be encouraged through systematic analysis and application of behavioral science principles, which may or may not include communication.

In any case, whether we are talking about strategic communication, behavioral science, or social psychology, our role as communication for social change designers is not to make money for our corporate overlords, but to contribute to the fulfillment of human rights at the community level. Much (all) of this work is donor supported and while it isn’t perfect in its use of resources or ability to fulfill its mission, it does have the ability to reconfigure mass and social media, particularly in the era of easily accessible digital platforms such as podcasting.

It is important to remember that CSC is a process. That means that we don’t create communication or project materials without doing research, design, and testing with our community partners. We can apply the science of communication studies or other fields such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, and public health to the process, and in turn design more effective CSC programs and projects that are responsive to the needs of our communities at the same time encouraging positive changes.

CSC uses models and theories to guide the work. This is related to the science of communication I mentioned above, and is rooted in decades of research, testing, and failure, as well as successes [as an aside, remember that the scientific method is itself based on an expectation of failure (a hypothesis in the scientific method is often fails and only becomes a theory after lots of testing and supportive data). The models and theories we use in CSC help guide research questions, the design of messages and projects, and provide frameworks for starting inquiry into complex social issues.

What I Hope You Take Away

Every course you complete in your degree will include a set of course objectives or outcomes, and I hope that at the end of the course you feel confident in your ability to meet those objectives. With that in mind, there are a couple other ideas that I hope will stick with you after the course is over:

  1. That good communication, whether done on social media or in person, or in between, is a process that includes research, the application of design principles, and scientific methods, in addition to the art of the creation of communication materials.
  2. That CSC’s role is to promote human rights and that your role as an effective communicator is to contribute to this role through your effective use of the tools we learned about in the course.
  3. That there is a distinct and important difference between the media as we typically consider them (news, entertainment, propaganda) and CSC and that using CSC as an approach can have positive impacts when using platforms that we often consider negative, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, cable news, etc.

I also hope you feel confident in your ability to write a blog post – to share your views with the world and your audience – when we have completed the course.

Thanks for reading this post! I look forward to reading your contributions to our class blog, which you can (and should ) follow and contribute to for as long as you like!

Mental Health and Gardening

In the summer, as students, workers, and family members, many of us take a “light” workload approach in order to enjoy the short season. Maybe we take the summer off of school or lighten our class load, we work less hours at our job, we’re not hovering over our children’s homework, and many groups, such as book club or religious studies, take a break during the summer. We may have a chance to pick-up our summer hobbies, golf, tennis, biking, gardening, and walking around the lakes with friends and family. With the sun and fun, many people with mental health issues can get through the day.

But then fall and winter comes, the holidays are over, and we are back in school and work mode, feeling stressed, drained of energy, and lacking motivation. All of the things on hold through the summer months have revved up, you have less time available for fun and relaxation, and here in Minnesota it can be dangerously cold and difficult to find time in the sun.

One thing we can do to bide our time during this cold season and help to keep our spirits up is taking up with a hobby. Studies have shown that gardening and having green space can help with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. “Many studies in the UK and other countries concur that higher proportions of green space, especially biodiverse habitats, are associated with less depression, anxiety and stress” Gardening for health

I know, you’re thinking, “Hello, its winter in Minnesota!” and “I’m a student, a parent, … I don’t have time to garden.” The great thing about gardening is you don’t have to make it complicated and time-consuming. And you can even do it in winter. Simply having a windowsill or small table by a window can get you fresh herbs in the middle of winter (think cilantro for salsa or basil for an Italian dish). You can also choose a low-maintenance house plant that brings green into your home such as an Asparagus Fern, Spider Plant, Aloe, or a Peace Lily that will produce flowers throughout the year. If you have a little more space or want produce, you could try another option called hydroponics that uses no soil (less mess is always a plus) and grows in water. You can buy a hydroponics kit or go a cheaper route and make your own setup.

And if you just don’t have the space or will to grow something in your house, you can search for a community garden or start to dream and plan for your outdoor garden for the upcoming summer season. Think of what type of container gardening you would like to try, or if you have more space, create a garden that mixes produce, plants, and flowers. Thinking of the sun and warmth can bring you a sense of calm.

Some of the positive benefits found with gardening and mental health are more obvious such as exercise and sunlight. But even without exercise and sunlight, and in the middle of winter, we can find other benefits to gardening. One is learning how to accept that not everything you try to grow will be successful but that you can do research and retry growing it. You can connect with groups on Facebook and Blogs that talk about gardening, which helps you to connect with people and lessen the feelings of loneliness, and it has also been shown to increase longevity of life. Seeing green in the middle of winter can be uplifting to your spirit and having something to take care of can provide a sense of peace. And, you can experience a sense of accomplishment and excitement when the flowers bloom and the produce grows, or in my case, learning to accept that even with fences, rabbits and other animals will figure out a way to enjoy your produce. Mental Health Benefits

Before you know it, we’ll be playing in the dirt in our backyards, getting our bikes tuned, and planning picnics to enjoy the outdoors.



Mental health: you hear a lot about it. It seems like there is always a post about it on social media, or someone is telling you about their self-care routine and now, you need self-care, too. The talk around mental health can be overwhelming. As a full time student and working full time in an elementary school during a pandemic, “overwhelming” is a little bit underwhelming for how I feel. My story probably feels similar to a lot of you: who can afford just go to college nowadays, and not worry about car payments, rent, medical bills, and more? Seriously, are sorority houses and frat parties a thing of the past or is just me?

We are often overwhelmed by the amount of stimulus that pings off our brain receptors; you walk around with something in your pocket that anyone can talk to you at any time. You scroll social media for… I mean, really, what for, and see that someone you knew is dying of COVID-19 and there are refugees with heartbreaking stories that you wish you had time to volunteer and then, you see the perfect family, taking perfect family photos, in a pandemic, seemingly not struggling, at all. Zoom, e-mail, Google chat messages, and phone calls pile on your chest all day at work and you feel suffocated.

Sometimes, it all stops, and then the real horror picture begins. Spring or winter break rolls around and I find myself roiling in terror — combative thoughts like “I am not doing enough, I am not productive enough, and I can’t keep up with all this anymore” emerge, and corrupt my peaceful mind like rot.

To give you some background, this time of year is what I like to call my Bermuda Triangle of mental health: my birthday, New Year’s Eve, and my SAD (seasonal affective disorder) have joined forces to make me feel like the sun will never come out, and I will never be good enough — I mean by goodness, I am twenty-seven years old and I don’t have my degree yet? According to the world right now, I also need to exercise more and lose weight. This soul crushing trifecta lead me to two hours of sobbing uncontrollably on a cold, dark, Friday night. My partner asked why I was crying and my best offer to this was,

“I am so bored and life is so long and I am too tired to do anything but resent myself for not.”

The only thing that made me come out of this dark place was when my partner agreed to let me teach him to play chess. I needed to unplug. In doing so, I felt the smooth pieces of the olive-worn wooden board and heard the beautiful, muffled clinking sound of felt against wood, striking like a blow every time I captured a piece. I needed my life to narrowly come down to thinking about the way pawns, kings, queens, knights, rooks, and bishops moved. I didn’t know how I was going to move forward, but I felt, in every part of me, I could move what was on the board in front of me and win the game.

I don’t have all the answers, and I am not perfect. I am not saying that chess will help you like it helped me. I am telling you that you are not alone, and there is something out in the world that is perfect for you to feel a little bit less overwhelmed. As a Mental Health First Aid responder and a former crisis negotiator, I want to tell you the ways I help myself and others with feelings of overwhelm, boredom, and sadness, especially in what feels like the eternal winter of a pandemic.

First, unplug. There is nothing so important as you, when you are feeling this way. Note, after you put your phone down, how you are feeling. Why are you feeling like this? Is it because of New Year’s blues? It’s a real thing. Click here to see how you are not the only person suffering with New Year’s depression. Is it lack of Vitamin D? Vitamin D and SAD can play some tricks on your serotonin levels. Click here to see more.

Second, listen to your being and be honest with yourself. I was tempted at first to sip a glass of wine to unwind my feelings, but that could have made my feelings worse. I had to be fully aware to make a decision for what my body needed at that time, and it wasn’t alcohol.

Try some meditative practices, such as gentle yoga, journaling, chess, or reading. I even find some video games to be highly therapeutic. What you choose does depend on how well you can function at the time. I could only begin to think about playing chess when I cried and sobbed and listened to my body. If you are alone, I recommend a chanting yoga, or a loving kindness meditation. See directions on this simple practice, with an audio guide, here.

If you are around those you love, connect. Embrace. Maybe even teach. They do love you. I taught my partner how to play chess and I have watched his joy of the game bloom. I sowed those seeds in a very dark time for me, and our competition is flourishing.

Finally, if you can’t get past the first step, that’s okay too. You have talked to a loved one, you have tried to write your feelings, and nothing seems to be working. As a Metro student, we have access to additional resources. Click here for 24/7 counseling services that are free and confidential. Want to text or chat? Click here for a list of resources by MentalHealth.gov.

You’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed, sad, or even bored. Listen to your body and your being, and find your chess board.

My Physical & Mental Health Have Improved. The Credit Goes to…

My dog.


She’s an Australian Shepherd mix. She’s a rescue that I adopted in June 2021 and my life took a turn for the better.

Some background…

I have been working from home since the pandemic. My office informed me that I could continue working from home, permanently. There is no issue for me with being productive in this new work setting, but sometimes I forget to take breaks.

I forget to stand up and stretch. I forget to rest my eyes for 15 minutes.

At the beginning of 2021 I could feel my body and my mind start to fall into unhealthy patterns. I knew I had to schedule “break time” into my workdays. One of the greatest things about working from home, is being able to take a break with no distractions.

Daisy is the best mental break.

She reduces my stress levels, lowers my blood pressure, increases my physical activity, boosts my heart health, and eases my anxiety.  

It’s true. The fact is human-dog relationships have positive effects on humans. According to this Ted Talk by Anna Fetter, dogs can serve as everyday therapy for humans.

The lifestyle adjustments and factors like committing to more physical activity and exercise helped me, not only in physical ways, but psychological ways as well. Research has shown that simply petting a dog reduces blood pressure and stress.

Over the course of a week, this additional time spent walking may in itself be sufficient to meet [World Health Organization] recommendations of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity.” – Philippa Dall, Glasgow Caledonian University

When we interact with dogs, our oxytocin levels shoot up. Since this is the hormone largely responsible for social bonding, this hormonal “love injection” boosts our psychological well-being. – Medical News Today

Owning a dog, especially a mixed breed of Australian Shepherd, has given me no choice but to be physically active every day. She has provided me with an excuse-proof daily dose of exercise. The workdays go more quickly. I even feel like I handle my work problems with a little more grace because I’m giving my mind a break.

Having Daisy around makes me feel like I’ve added years to my life. I rescued her, and she rescued me. What’s more fulfilling than that?