Tag Archives: Blog Post 1

Sing What? A Mini Guide to Singing Bowls and Their Many Uses

What do you think of when you hear the words, “singing bowl?” That meditation thing, maybe, or the loud gong in yoga classes? A weird bell instrument that has to do with chacras? Something Buddhists use while chanting ohm? All technically true. But singing bowls are both more, and less, than any of those things. I have been using them for the last five years as a way to steady and center myself, but they have all sorts of uses, and  here, I’m going to outline what they are and how to play them with the help of this post from Shanti Bowls.

Though their beginnings and history are uncertain, singing bowls are tentatively traced to the Buddha Shayamuni period, (560 – 480 BCE). They have strong associations to Tibet, so strong in fact that they’re often called Tibetan singing bowls, a slightly inaccurate misnomer, though the Tibetan gifts stall at Midtown Global Market is actually where I got one of my favorite bowls. Regardless of their origins, they’re quite prolific today, and made all over the world. They also come in two different types, metal and crystal, with different sounds and price points depending on material and size. I’m personally not lucky enough to own any crystal bowls, but I have three wonderful metal ones, one of which you can see in the visuals associated with this post. They’re popular enough that I’ll have several options, however, should I ever be in the market.

Part of the reason the bowls have endured in popularity through the ages is their usefulness. Most obviously lauded for their relaxing qualities, some have claimed to find success easing the body with their vibrations, not curing but helping to relieve stress, symptoms and pain. Others believe that specific notes can activate and open specific chacras in the body which allow for increased empathy, clarity and other benefits, beginning with the root chacra at C and rising all the way to the crown chacra at G, though I do not subscribe to this modality. I simply find the feeling of them reverberating against my hands to be soothing and enjoy the clear, steady notes they can create. Speaking of notes, its high time for less nattering and more tutorials, so let’s dive into how these unique instruments are played.

Bowls can be played two different ways, either held in the non-dominant hand or set out in front of you on a flat surface. If you choose the latter, you’ll need a cushion or ring to keep it a little elevated so whatever’s underneath doesn’t dampen the sound. I found this method awkward and felt it lessened my connection with the sensations and sounds, so I always hold mine cupped in my palm, just be careful your fingers don’t touch the sides. Then, its time for the mallet, which should be held in the hand most comfortable with movement. The simplest way to play is one that will likely come naturally, striking the bowl, which is as simple as it seems, just gently tap the bowl and allow the note to ring. But if you want to understand why they have their name and really dive into the experience, you’ll likely want to make it sing. To do this, place the mallet on the outside of the bowl and turn in a circle, never breaking contact. Don’t worry if it takes a minute, the friction might need to build up a little before you get the bowl really playing, and if it doesn’t come at first, that’s ok, too. It took a couple hours for me to really understand how to produce sound, and I’m still not perfect at it. To see someone really impressive and also get a taste of what crystal singing bowls are like as opposed to metal, this lady is wonderful once she gets going. Play quietly for most soothing effect, I find her bowls a little piercing at high volume.

Finally, a few parting thoughts. If you have interest in learning to play after reading this and you don’t have a market  or other shop to experiment with, I’d highly suggest trying to find reviews or demonstrations of any bowl you’re looking at online to make sure its one  that sonically pleases you, as you don’t want to be irritated or overwhelmed when trying to relax. Bowls often have two notes, one higher and one lower, so be sure they’re both sounds you want in your world. For those who feel that the bowls are overly associated with spiritual practices you don’t understand, remember that they are like many other things in this life, a tool. There might be talk of charging crystals, clearing negative energies or finding enlightenment, but bowls and the clarion songs they produce can be used in limitless ways, as mystical or as mundane as the one who wields them. I like to wish into them, myself, and imagine that the bowl’s voice is holding it sacred, carrying my hopes up to the sky, something you won’t find on any page. So whatever your interest, if you’re at all intrigued, I hope you’ll consider giving one of these instruments a look to see how it can destress, enliven or otherwise improve your world.

Disc Golf: Why you should throw plastic in the woods (Blog Post 1)

I remember the first time I heard about disc golf, my uncle Jeremy introduced me to it and gave me a couple of discs to borrow. At first I could not get a grip on what I was supposed to be doing, but as with most activities, the more I worked at it and practiced, the better I got. The main thing that made a difference to me was switching from a “backhand” throw (a traditional frisbee throw) to a “forehand” throw (more of a wrist flick). Everyone has their own preference on how they throw, for instance James Conrad, a professional disc golfer is known for throwing almost exclusively backhand. For those who aren’t familiar with disc golf (also known as frisbee golf or “frolf”) I will give a quick synopsis. Essentially you find a course near you, an easy way to look this up is with an app known as UDisc, it will show you courses near you with ratings associated with them and distance. Once you get there, you will start on hole 1 and use the tee pad to throw your first shot. Each consecutive shot will start from where the previous shot landed, and you will continue with this until you are able to successfully get the disc in the basket. You count the number of shots it took, and move on to the next hole! Some courses are as short as 9 holes, and some like Blue Ribbon Pines here in Minnesota, are 27 holes.

According to humnutrition, there are five benefits to spending time outside or in nature. One is that it helps relieve stress, and lower tension or anger. It can also help boost immune function, boosts mental health, and even makes you feel good! Another beneficial part of disc golf is to spend time with friends, although you can also do it by yourself and just listen to music and get into “zen mode”.

Here are links to some info about disc golf and benefits to spending time outside:
https://www.humnutrition.com/blog/benefits-of-spending-time-in-nature/
https://discgolfnow.com/best-health-benefits-of-disc-golf/

Protesting Line-3 in the Twin Cities

“We have 10,000 lakes but do not care about the water that’s in them.”

Two things most people know about the state of Minnesota are the winters, and the number of lakes this state holds—10,000 to be exact. However, is it a lake if it does not have any water? Or worse if it’s contaminated by oil?

Two-thousand people decided to do something to prevent those two situations from happening to our state.

Those people included, “local elected officials, members of Treaty People Walk for Water who walked 256 miles along the pipeline route, and community leaders from across the state.”

These people in our community are protesting to stop the construction of the $3- billion oil pipeline plan called Line 3. This line is a 340-mile pipeline that travels up to Canada and breaks tribal sovereignty and overlaps on land that Indigenous people use to hunt and gather.

So, what’s the solution? To turn a blind eye and sacrifice our lakes or to find a solution that will ensure future generations to have a safe climate to live in.

There might not be an exact solution but there are actions we can take today that could change the outcome. If we turn a blind slide, we are inviting people to believe we do not care about the planet we live on or those who will occupy this place after us.

Things you can do right now:

Share, share, and share. Make sure the people continuing to express their voices in protest are being heard. Nothing gets done if no one knows about, and if no one is willing to work for it.

Get involved. Not only do you have the chance to attend protests to fight this battle, but the opportunity to inspire people in your community to do their part as well.

Resources to help you get started:

https://www.indigenousclimateaction.com/

https://www.stopline3.org/#intro

Supporting all Swimmers

Anyone can swim, and yet, there is a lingering myth that claims black people cannot. This stereotype exists because, historically, access to the sport has been intentionally made difficult for black people. Access was already difficult or impossible, but when pools were finally integrated, they began being built in expensive member-ship only facilities. Swimming became an elitist, whitewashed sport. 

I have been involved with swimming for my entire life and find it disappointing that anyone would be made to feel that they were not allowed to be a part of the sport. It’s relatively low-cost and teaches you to work alone, as well as with a team.

Beyond the realm of competition, generations of people have been denied the chance to learn potentially lifesaving skills. And according to The USA Swimming Foundation, if parents did not have the opportunity to learn to swim, there is only a 13 percent chance that their child will learn.

This is likely the reason that—between the ages of 5 and 19—black children drown in pools five and a half times more often than white children. Their guardians did not have access to lessons; therefore, more children do not learn, and may not even know they have the option, and the cycle continues.   

Black Kids Swim aims to dispel these myths and break down these stereotypes. Their goal is to increase the access that black children have to learning swim techniques. However, they take it a step further than basic knowledge. Black Kids Swim wants black children to attack the water and become serious competition.


Photo: Naji Ali/Miguel Melendez

Representation matters so their website focuses on the positive and promotes the accomplishments of many young black swimmers. They offer scholarships, hold essay contests, and offer resources to families with experienced swimmers and those who are just getting started.

When you make a gift to this organization, your donation goes towards motivational content, special events, scholarships and essay contests, educational materials, and advocacy. You have the option to direct your gift to the program you believe in most and their website answers any questions you may have about current programs and giving.

In their words, “Black Kids Swim creates content to make the sport of competitive swimming exciting and inciting for Black children. We are smashing negative stereotypes, combating a legacy of fear and exclusion, promoting African American role models, and opening doors of access to swim training. We are making swimming cool for Black children.”

As someone who thinks swimming is very cool, this is a mission to which I feel connected. As someone who lives in Minnesota, surrounded by water, I know this mission is important and can save lives. I do not have children of my own, but if I did, I would feel privileged to teach them how to swim. I hope that one day all children have that opportunity.

Low Inventory and Fierce Competition Leads Many Homebuyers to Waive Inspections

In the last year, the housing market in the United States has basically become its own reality tv show. Sellers hold the top prize – a moderately priced house – and buyers are competing and putting everything on the line for a chance to win a whopping 1200 square feet to call their own.

On-Market Inventory of Homes For Sale Rapidly Falling Year Over Year


In the past markets have fluctuated between buyers’ markets, when there is an abundance of housing and those houses can be purchased around asking price, and sellers’ markets, where there are less houses available and therefore the chances of getting into a bidding war increase. Though these ebbs and flows are somewhat expected, the state of the housing market this last year has been nearly unprecedented. Inventory is at record lows, and with the combination of low interest rates, a slew of millennial buyers ready to purchase their first home, and the pandemic requiring that people spend more time in their houses, demand for those houses is steadily increasing. Right now, the few sellers who do list their homes are receiving offers almost immediately, and sometimes even before they officially go on the market.

This is creating a huge amount of competition for buyers, who are often up against 10, 15, or 30 other competitive offers. While offering over asking price is often the first step, that isn’t always enough to make an offer stand out anymore. In fact, right now in Minneapolis, where I am actively trying to purchase a home, many houses are going for between $20 to $40,000 over asking price. To even be considered in the running, buyers are now waiving the inspections on homes as part of the purchase agreement in addition to offering way over the asking price. Although this is technically legal, it is certainly not advised. This article from J.blumen and Associates, a real estate law service in Massachusetts, points out “when you waive your inspection contingency, you assume all financial risk for whatever condition the property is in”. This risk can add up to “thousands, and in some case, tens of thousands” of dollars.


A home inspection is not a sure-fire way to guarantee that something will not be wrong with a house when a buyer purchases it, but it can alert the buyers to any issues that might require a significant amount of money to fix, something they might not have after making one of the largest purchases of their lifetime. This is especially true of those seeking affordable housing, as buyers in this price range often pour a majority of their savings into the purchase of a home.

If this market continues on this trajectory and buyers feel obligated to waive inspections in order to have their offer accepted, we might see an increase of people who find themselves in compromised positions. Inspections are meant to protect buyers from ending up in a situation that could really hurt then financially, but right now, with most purchase agreements skipping out on them, sellers are the only ones truly benefitting. This unspoken requirement preys on first time home buyers and those competing for the few affordable units on the market, when in reality we should be protecting those buyers, since they are often the most vulnerable. An inspection is a small upfront cost that could ultimately save buyers tens of thousands of dollars by allowing them to analyze the risk they are capable of taking on with the purchase of certain homes. They should be a required part of the process, not an optional contingency used to make an agreement more appealing to sellers who are already benefited in such a hot market.

Lockdown Relief

“I have so much anxiety”

“I can’t wait till things return to normal”

“I think I’m officially losing my mind”

“I can’t wait till I’m not with my kids 24/7 anymore”

We’ve heard them all. Sometimes our friends we don’t hear from are the ones that struggle the most. Struggling with their mental health in uncharted territory. But what if there was another group? A group that was thriving in lock down. A group that felt better than ever. A group that felt guilty to speak of it knowing how many people are struggling in a negative way. I’m one of those people. I have loved lock down for so many reasons, and studies show there are many of us feeling this way. They call it “Lockdown Relief” and it is affecting those who have constant internal pressure.

Jasmine Cooray, an integrative counselor states “People who are driven by keeping up appearances, productivity, showing up to everything, achieving lots, being visible and being there for everyone have found themselves chilling out, landing in a feeling of relief at not having to perform any more. Because they have been given permission to do what they want to do … their relationship to themselves is much more authentic and organic as a result of not having an audience” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/29/coronavirus-lockdown-anxiety-mental-health

This lock down has given me the opportunity and time to do the things I truly enjoy. The above picture was Easter. There was no pressure to go or do anything I didn’t desire. It was a wonderful holiday spent with my cat Chi Chi, making homemade pasta and drinking delicious local wine. What things have you found bring you joy in lock down?

Snacky Snacks

When Covid-19 hit our nation and panic started to rise, I was at my worst. I went from fear to anxiety to sleepless nights to germaphobia mood in a span of few days. I am a mom of two toddlers and a wife of a healthcare professional. My husband is an essential worker and had to go to work so I wanted to make sure that we have what we needed at home and that was worrisome as stores were nearly emptied out by “panic shoppers”.

As the weeks progressed and the hoarding days began, I judged the hoarders but then I turned around and “panic-bought” as much non-perishable items as I could find (mainly snacks) and felt somewhat better that at least, I had a full pantry.

Well, as the days went by, it felt as if the snacks were calling my name all the way from the kitchen. I did not disappoint! I said yes to “the call” and was there to enjoy my visits in “snackville” not once but multiple times. Throughout the day, I would visit “snackville”/ my kitchen in the name of “getting something to drink” or “cleaning up a mess” or “cooking” though I performed those too. Before I knew it, I became a kitchen addict.

However, the trouble came when I tried to run up and down the stairs and play with my energy loaded toddlers. That’s when I realized that the “snacks” were like weapons of body destruction and this new habit needed to stop.

Dr. Donald Hensrud, a medical director of Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program said, “People’s habits have changed quiet a bit since we’re spending more time at home”. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-05-pounds-covid-.html.

I needed to do something about it and waged war against the snacks and decided to social distance myself from the kitchen. I realized that Covid-19 came and it will all be over, but the pounds would not. Once I came to the realization that I don’t have to eat everything, I made the decision to drink plenty of water for hydration which would also carve my appetite, to regularly move around if not exercise, and better yet to practice self-control.

How did Covid-19 affect your eating habits?

Attitude of gratitude

We’ve heard it all so many times over the past few months… unprecedented times, never before, quarantine, stay home. As students, we’ve been impacted as we’ve seen all of our classes change to an online format. Everyone’s life has changed somehow since early March. For most people, change can be hard!

For me, I haven’t physically left my house/yard/street in a week. 3 months ago, I couldn’t have imagined that. I’m a busy mom with 3 kids, a full-time job, a college student, 3 dogs, a house, etc. It’s easy to feel bogged down by the negativity and fear of it all. Rather than feeling confined, I try to feel grateful for the positive things that I didn’t have before.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mental-hygienist/202003/gratitude-in-time-pandemic

I took a Stress Management course last semester. One of the things that I learned is practicing gratitude is key to positive mental health. Have you been practicing gratitude during the pandemic? I’ve listed below a few things that I feel grateful for.

I have been working from home since March 16. Two solid months without setting foot in the office. I am an extrovert and I really miss seeing people. But, I sure appreciate my new commute of about 5 paces from my bedroom to my spare room, where I have my home office set up. I’ve gotten back 90 minutes of every day that I simply spent driving to work. I get to sleep in an extra hour. That means I can stay up a little later and spend some time connecting with my husband after the kids go to bed.

I have friends who have been furloughed and they are spending the time working on projects or sprucing up their house.

We’ve been connecting with our neighbors with a weekly, socially-distant backyard fire. We’ve built relationships with them that I don’t think would have occurred otherwise.

Finally, I love the way that life has slowed down. One my biggest stressors is trying to get from place to place in a day. I go to work and run around all day, I come home, I make sure the kids have done homework, and make dinner. Then, I take kids to sports or school activities, and ensure showers have occurred. There is laundry, grocery shopping, dishes, and chores. Sometimes I feel ragged just with normal life. Our pace has changed greatly since March. There are no places to have to race to. I feel like my kids are living a little more like I did at their age. They’re doing bike rides, scavenger hunts, and walking the dogs. I love it.

What are some ways that your life has changed for the better during social distancing? Have you been able to find gratitude?

Parker Reynolds Blog Post #1

https://www.teendriversource.org/teen-crash-risks-prevention/distracted-driving/cell-phones

Texting while behind the wheel is becoming more threatening each day, the statistics are rising and it shows that multi-tasking is happening too often when people are driving. The rate that technology is going at right now makes it seem almost inevitable for distracted drivers. The technology will eventually be much more complicated making it much easier for drivers to be distracted and not fully engaged. In order for this problem to recognized parents need to do a better job at listing the dangers that can come from distracted driving. An easy way for parents to teach their children these safe alternatives means teaching the students before they are able to drive on their own.

Parents should start to discuss any directions being mentioned before entering the car, any music being chosen before entering (make a playlist). Also for new drivers allowing other friends to ride along with in the first couple of months. Between all the distractions a phone can bring to a new driver, acknowledging them and pushing them away for beginner drivers teaches them in the long-run about engaged driving.  As stated in the article highschool students who were more likely to check their phone during a certain time period are more likely to not use their seatbelts, yet also get in a car with someone who is distracted as well.

road people street smartphone
Photo by SplitShire on Pexels.com

I’m a Fraud.

Okay, I’m not. But I do often ask myself the following questions: Am I really good at what I do? Do I actually have solid experience to be giving you a reco (aka recommendation) and my POV? Am I just lucky? Do I deserve to be here?

Some days, I’m a natural hustler – I can tackle my day-to-day tasks and leave feeling very accomplished. Other days, I get too hard on myself if I mess up or don’t get something right. I crawl into a tiny ball inside my head and feel unnecessarily small, telling myself I’m not fit to be doing the work that I do.

There’s a word for that. It’s called the Imposter Syndrome. And here’s how I’ve learned to beat it on the not-so-good days.

Graphic created via Canva

So if you’ve managed to skip over the definition of Imposter Syndrome, in brief, it can be described as “…a feeling of phoniness and unworthiness among people when it comes to their achievements. And even though they’re highly motivated, they don’t really believe any of the credit that comes their way.” (Lou Solomon, TEDx)

“We feel like we have snuck in the back door of life’s theater and made our way up on stage and there’s a big bouncer out there and we know that if he sees us, we’re outta here so we’re constantly looking over our shoulder.”

Lou Solomon, TEDx Charlotte: The Surprising Solution to the Imposter Syndrome

1. Use social for self-good.

Affirmations are really energy boosters. Sometimes when I’m in a rut and I can’t seem to get out of my thoughts, I need emotional support. And it’s completely okay to need it and want it. This usually comes in the form of a social media post on Facebook where I ask friends and family to send me words of encouragement; this can either be in the comment section or a personal message. It’s not because I’m self-absorbed or needy (fortunately, I’ve overcome this thought), it’s because I’ve gathered the courage to ask of and for others so that I can continue showing up and being the best version I can be.

“The things you can do to sustain strength in your life is to live, fail, love and ask for help.” 

Lou Solomon, TEDx Charlotte: The Surprising Solution to the Imposter Syndrome

2. Go out and see people.

Usually on my bad days, all I want to do is shut the blinds, hop into bed and watch Korean dramas – consciously forgetting that I have a million other to-dos. I do this because it’s easier. I’m still working on keeping myself accountable, but as described, I can’t some days. So I make sure I get others to keep me accountable; this usually means setting up dates with friends! Coffees, dinners, brunches, you name it. Getting up, dressing up and eating out seems to do the trick. It’s refreshing to talk about other topics of interest and catch up with people I love. It’s real medicine and I forget that my mind and soul needs it from time to time. And maybe yours does too.

3. Create.

There’s something so peaceful about letting your creativity just flow. No pre-conceived notions, no creative briefs, no goals or strategies. I’ve just recently started this creative journey with 100 Days of Drawing – instead of strictly going a hundred days, I’ve taken it slow, skipped a few pages and drawn whatever I felt like drawing. That’s the beauty of creating; there are no expectations and no limits. Drawing, manifesting, creating – it all leads to self-discovery. However, I’m not a regular doodler and I don’t draw on the daily (as mentioned). I save drawing for when I most need it. When the days are exhausting, my thoughts too heavy and my social a little too saturated, it’s only then that I draw. It’s the “me now” investing in much-needed space and time for the “future me.”

4. Find your radical hero.

With every villain, there’s a radical hero. In her TED talk, Lou describes this radical hero being wiser and not willing to buy into your negative thoughts; someone who has a deeper point of view and is essentially your own personal cheerleader. When you start to doubt yourself and your self worth, summon your radical hero to call out the lies and the limiting beliefs that could isolate you and allow yourself to listen for brilliance. Once you’re able to, you’ll start to see some clarity and feel a lot better knowing that you’re more than qualified. You’re right where you’re supposed to be.

5. Reflect.

I’m no where near where I want to be in terms of mental and emotional wealth, but I’m getting there. Slowly but surely. And it all comes down to reflecting. Reflecting on my way to work, through a podcast, right before bed or even as I’m brushing my teeth. I’m a busy person and I get bursts of reflective moments. It’s odd but it works for me and my lifestyle. So here’s my last request of you in conquering this epidemic, always pursue a sense of wholeness over perfection. Taking time to reflect on your highs and lows, the work you want to do and your purpose in life will allow you to see things in a different light and set you up for success. And even that might look a little different and that’s okay.

Cheers,

M

Intrigued? Learn more about Imposter Syndrome HERE.