Nintendo, Love, and the Great Midwest: Let’s Risk it All

Life is no Nintendo game, there are no re-dos , no unlimited lives, and no reset button. You have only this one shot and every choice you make will shape your life.  How are you choosing your path life to look?  Are you making your own decisions or are you listening to what people are whispering in your ear?

jack sparrowI recently celebrated my 24th birthday and finally made the decision I had been wanting to make for a long time. That is that this year I will take risks that I believe will ultimately improve my life.  I know that a lot of people think that I am on a pretty crazy path, and it’s true. I’ve made some wild moves to pursue what I’m looking for. I am the first to admit that I have been making some pretty risky decisions, but I can’t help but feel like these decisions are going to lead to a kick ass year.

When I was growing up I had always looked to my dad for advice in every aspect of my life.  I’d weigh out the pros and cons and 95% of the time I would always do what my dad told me I should do.  I’ve been doing this for 24 years and with this New Year of my life I am finally ready to put my resolutions into action.  This year I’ve taken more risks than I’ve ever had in my personal and professional life and for the first time I didn’t ask my dad for advice before I made the final decision. I just did what I wanted to do.

head on deskAfter college, like many recent graduates, I stressed about finding a job as soon as I could. My dad told me I shouldn’t be picky, so I accepted a job with a great company, even though, deep down, I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me.  While working I realized something so obvious that I am surprised it took me as long to realize as it did; I’m actively choosing to be miserable.  So ridiculous, right?  But I stuck with the job under the idea that I should be thankful to be employed and should not be picky, until quite recently.

The number one thing I’ve learned from my first year post-grad life and what I would tell anyone graduating now, is that you don’t have to love your job, but at the very least you should, and are allowed to, like some aspect of your job.  You don’t have to go for the first opportunity that presents itself and  it’s ok to be a little picky about your first job.

Something that I think is important to keep in mind when it comes to any aspect of employment is to know your own self-worth.  You have something to offer.  I feel like sometimes people forget that in the job searching/interviewing process.  When you go to an interview you have to remember that you are interviewing them too. You need to also decide if they’re worth your time, energy, and if you will be happy there.  This may sound kind of arrogant, but it’s true.

Which brings me to one of the major risks I’ve ever taken…I quit my job!

I’ll be unemployed starting May 15 and moving to Minneapolis June 1st.  I’ve been thinking about quitting for some time now, but never actually thought I could do it.  I’d talk to my best friends, and writers of the Muse, Elizabeth and Sam about it a lot and I am sure they can more than attest to how much I hated my job.   Still, the risks of quitting and not finding another job seemed too high.  (My dad talking in my head)  Would I find another job?  What do I have to offer another employer?  While all these questions were racing through my head, I realized something else I seemed to have forgotten, I’m 24. That is young!  If I’m going to take risks it should be now while I don’t have to truly consider another person in my decisions.  I can be completely selfish.  Which I finally realized is completely ok for me to do too right now.  Quitting without another job sounds crazy, because it kind of is, but it’s also exciting!  An entire new city with so many opportunities, not just for jobs, but anything really.  I could get a puppy, get employed at my dream company or meet Tom Hiddleston! I mean the possibilities are really endless.

Don’t get me wrong. I also have thought of the not so fabulous possibilities too.  Where I could find myself somehow living with a stray cat who I am too afraid to kick out(I’m allergic), being unable to pay my bills, having to work at the BK lounge and meeting someone who is the exact opposite of Tom Hiddleston.  But if this does happen (cross your fingers it doesn’t)at least I can say that I tried and I’ll learn from it and be better for it.

j cole quoteMost of you don’t know me very well, but Sam once told me that I hold my cards very close to my chest.  That couldn’t be more true.  I would consider myself more of a private person.  I don’t share too much with anyone unless I am 100% sure that I can trust them and even then, sometimes I have a difficult time talking to people that I absolutely trust.  Trusting someone with my feelings is one of the most difficult things for me to do and even when I feel like I am opening up, I know that I part of me is still holding back.  Honestly, this is probably why I’ve never had a serious long-term relationship and why I am always a bit hesitant to use the word “relationships” to describe these…”things”?  (We’ll go with that).  But, I’ve learned quite recently that you need to take risks and try being with someone.  You have to really put yourself out there, put it all out on the line, and don’t hold back, even though you know it might end in heartache. You can’t let the chance that something bad will happen keep you from discovering something wonderful.

I am working on that.

tumblr_mg5ur05Pne1qfvaoco1_500Finally, what I’ve learned from my most recent risk in the dating world is that when you take a risk and start to put your self out side of your comfort zone that nagging feeling of, “what if?” goes away.

In this case, I went for it and I definitely learned a lot about what things I need from someone in order to be with them in the future. I learned to not be shy about asking for more and learned how to give of myself more deeply.

I also learned its ok to cry.  Not just for that day, but maybe for a couple days, and even then still feel the dull ache for a while.  But, just let it out.  Everyone should be proud of themselves for taking such a risk with their hearts and making themselves vulnerable. It’s important to remember that you will be ok.  There is clearly someone better or maybe the timing was just off, but don’t wait around.  I’m a big believer in fate and if it’s meant to be, it will happen naturally.

I know it is said all the time, but lean on your friends during this time, call them up or have a girl’s night to talk about.

If you end up thinking of him/her later that’s completely normal.  They were a person you really cared about at one point and you’re going to wonder how they’re doing.  Then, get back out there!  Don’t be afraid that it might happen again, because you know what, it might, “but it also might turn out that you find the person that makes it all worth while!” – Sam (sorry Gabs, has to add a bit ;) )

Overall, I’m happy with the risks I’ve taken.  It’s a crazy path and I have no idea where it’s taking me., but that’s what makes it exciting. I’m ready for the adventure and fingers crossed it goes well!

Cheers everybody and good luck with the rest of the year!!

– Gabby J.

 

Leaving Neverland

Lean in close, dear reader, and I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m afraid to grow up.

Now, before you roll your eyes and stop reading, let me assure you this isn’t a post from a self-entitled twenty-something millennial who doesn’t want to deal with the lackluster responsibilities so often attributed to adulthood.  On the contrary, this is a story about how life, yet again, has me caught in a period of transition.

What is this transition you ask? Well, the first time in a long time I’m about to leave my Neverland, an island on which I’ve been a never-ending student.

Peter-Pan-and-Pirate-Ship-peter-pan-2106192-799-528I’m 24 years old, single, and a graduate student.  In other words thus far I have not really had to be responsible for anyone but myself.  In many ways my inner Peter Pan directly personifies my forgetfulness, self-centered behavior, and carefree attitude.  Does this make me simply a product of my generation, the so often stereotyped  millennial, a margin of young adults not yet wanting to settle down and give into former societal expectations, such as marriage, children, and a house to call our own?

Maybe, or maybe Peter Pan had it right all along.

This weekend, I will graduate from my master’s program.  I’ve spent the last six years on my island of Neverland, earning a bachelor’s and an advanced degree.  And, I don’t plan on stopping there; in the next few years, I want to start a doctoral program.  But first, I am stepping out completely, packing everything up from my sanctuary, and moving halfway across the world to work at a university in Germany.

The thing is, unlike Peter Pan, I am not as confident when faced with the danger of uncertainty.  If I let it, uncertainty, along with its partner doubt, will surely sail me straight back to my Neverland, and because I’m not a skilled sword fighter like Peter Pan, I don’t have the best means of warding those terrible twins off.  Honestly, I’m afraid to leave, even though I know I can’t stay here forever.

But what if I wasn’t afraid to leave?

What if, instead of being afraid, I use a combination of lovely thoughts and a little bit of fairy dust, and I learn to fly?  All make-believe aside, I think transition periods in life are needed for real growth to occur and I am ready for that next uncomfortable growth spurt.  Growth doesn’t mean I’m growing older, but rather, I’m gaining the courage and confidence to grow into the person I want to become.

During these transition periods, we all need a little bit of Peter Pan in our lives.  Perhaps fearlessness shouldn’t be associated with youth and childishness.  Seriously, have you ever considered what might happen if you had the audacity to follow your dreams?

You might fail, but then again, your dreams might come true.

tumblr_n4cjskJFGD1tsttfdo1_500As I prepare for my departure from Neverland, I’m thankful for the time I’ve spent here.  I’ve learned that the real secret is that we never really have to grow up.  However, we do have to put fear aside to accomplish our dreams in life, no matter how big or small they may be.  And, if I look at my little secret from this perspective, growing up doesn’t seem so scary after all.

About the Author

NoelleNoelle Ponasik is a Master of Science in Education candidate in the Student Affairs Administration program at UW-La Crosse and will graduate on May 10, 2015.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in History and German from UW-Stevens Point.  Noelle has studied and worked in Germany, and plans to move there permanently, or at least for the foreseeable future.  When Noelle isn’t plotting various ways she can spend her life in Germany, you can find her reading about higher education, watching ridiculous rom coms, drinking New Glarus beer, and trying to convince herself to go to her yoga classes.

Once Upon A WrestleMania

It’s that time of year again. The most anticipated sporting night of the year is almost upon us. And no, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl or March Madness or the World Series. I’m talking about WrestleMania, the Show of Shows, the Grandest Stage of Them All, the Showcase of the Immortals! 1899421-bigthumbnail Anyone who knows me, knows that I have never before had any interest in professional wrestling, and until recently I didn’t. A few weeks back I visited my sister, brother-in-law and new nephew. My brother-in-law has been a WWE fanatic since a young age, hero worshipping the Greats such as The Rock, the Undertaker and Booker T. Needless to say, my days were spent reading children’s books and my Monday nights spent watching WWE Raw. Once I got over the hokeyness of the show, I found myself surprisingly enjoying it. With two weeks of children’s stories and WWE Raw, I thought: why not combine the two? So in honor of the impending WrestleMania event tonight, here are some re-imagined famous children’s stories :

Orton Hurts a Who

Orton Hurts a Who Because “a person can be RKOed no matter how big (or small)”.

The Tales of Bray WyattTales of Bray Wyatt

“Follow the Buzzards” This take on the classic tales of the trickster rabbit follows Bray Wyatt and his backwoods family from feud to feud, both in and out of the ring. In these classic tales, we learn about Bray Wyatt’s youth in the backwoods and follows his family’s exploits in the WWE. The tales culminate in the path to Fastlane  as the Pied Piper of Terror carries his lantern on to WrestleMania to face The Undertaker.

Harry Potter and the Hell in a Cell

14B_Jun05RAW With the Dark Lord defeated, Harry Potter and his gang are left to round up the rest of the Death Eaters and those loyal to Voldemort. When following the Undertaker, Harry unwittingly enters into the back breaking match: Hell in a Cell. Can he survive the battle of wits, brute strength, and pain to defeat the Undertaker, or will the Chosen One bow to the power of the Lord of Darkness?

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Undertaker

Voyage of the Undertaker In this riveting tale, the Undertaker does a little soul searching after his heartbreaking loss to Brock Lesnar. Commandeering Prince Caspian’s ship, the Lord of Darkness sets course for the Land of the Undead. Will he make it back in time to put the final nail in the coffin for Bray Wyatt?

Stardust

Stardust Jerry Spinelli does it again! Growing up was hard for Stardust, who never quite fit in at school and always lived in his brother’s shadow. A heartwarming tale of nonconformity, Stardust explores a whole new type of peer pressure: in a world of baggy pants and band t-shirts, Stardust chose a lycra suit and face paint. Hop on Stardust’s “happy wagon” and watch his journey unfold as he learns about the costs of popularity and brotherhood.

Andre, the BFG

the bfgAndre travels to Dream Country with the intentions of gathering nightmares to plague Hulk Hogan with the night before WrestleMania. Along the way he meets Sophie, a young orphan girl who helps him see the err in his ways and teaches him about the joys of snozzcucumbers and whizzpopping. Upon hearing of Sophie’s quest to stop the evil children-eating giants, Andre changes course to help put a stop to the Bloodbottler, the Bonecruncher, and the Fleshlumpeater. Is his wrestling prowess enough to stop the evil giants?

The Very Hungry Ryback

the very hungry ryback “Feed me more!” How much will the Big Hungry eat before he transforms into a beautiful butterfly?

Beauty and the Beast

1083_beauty_and_the_beast A follow up to Disney’s original classic based on the fairy tale by French novelist Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, this installment of Beauty and the Beast follows Belle after she broke the prince’s curse. Once Beast turns back into a prince, Belle loses all attraction to him when she realizes she prefers a more beastly man. Soon after, she meets Brock Lesnar, the Beast, when he is training in Paris. The two begin a torrid love affair and Belle runs off with Brock, leaving the prince, his castle and his enchanted rose behind.

The Adventures of Sheamus the Sailor

Sheamus the Sailor After his final battle with Rusev and Mark Henry, Sheamus decided to sail the seven seas in search of the mythological sword Fragarach. Can Sheamus defeat Manannan mac Lir, the god of the sea to obtain the sword that no armor can stop, or will he be banished to the Otherworld by Manannan?

Goldilocks and the Uso Twins

Goldilocks&theUsoTwins Goldilocks picked the wrong beds this time! In her quest for the porridge and chair and bed that is “just right”, Goldilocks wandered into the wrong house. Upon returning home from one of their matches, the Uso Twins find the golden-haired brat in their room, having already ransacked their home and spilled porridge in their beds. She better watch out, because this Tag Team is about to Uso Splash her on out of here.

Happy reading and wrestling!

-Jen

(all original images found on Google, with photoshop compilation by Jennifer Beth)

d49be715c02532c00d034493e321d0e0

The Joys of Growing Up

I remember being in eighth grade, and it felt like I had the world at my fingertips – the universe was my oyster.

God, I was so young, naive and so full of prepubescent life.

I know, I am making myself sound so old now and I’m only twenty years old – granted, it feels like an eternity ago.

But you see, back then, I had my “road map” all figured out, and I can hardly recall a moment where I was even discouraged back then, not even a little bit. If I fell down, whether that be failing a math test or upsetting a friend, I got right back up on that horse.

Back then, I was on fire.

Being a pre-teen is that deliciously wonderful in-between period where you’re starting to know what you want, you’re presented with your first real responsibilities, but you are still clearly not an adult. In a shorter sentence: it’s exciting, full of youth, and experiences.

It’s kind of funny because most thirteen and fourteen year old don’t exactly know what they want at that time. All that is on their minds are soccer practices, games with mom and dad cheering them on, those middle school plays that everyone seemed to get into . . . and of course, those horrible dances where everyone would stand around awkwardly, staring at their first real crush from across the gymnasium floor hoping they would look back.

I’m not saying that those kids didn’t have dreams nor am I belittling them, but that’s the typical time frame when things are generally more . . . weird. And oh, things were weird for me, too, no doubt about it. But thing was, I was unstoppable Julia, and I had goals that felt far more wide and expanded than any other junior high, adolescent fourteen year old.

d49be715c02532c00d034493e321d0e0I continued to obtain those goals and those dreams as I transformed into my high school self, and those ambitions did not leave my side for one minute. I wanted to be a writer, a dancer, a film director, as well as a singer. Though I was fifteen, or sixteen I knew that I would have to work hard so I could make those dreams a reality and while some of the dreams dipped in and out like most teenagers’ dreams do, there was one that stayed consistent throughout the years – to be a writer.

I had the spirit, the drive, the never ending curiosity to succeed.

But as I grew older, specifically around the my Junior year of high school, these things started to feel unattainable. I found myself having to work harder than the average student to achieve the same results, and I was constantly dealing with something that was unfamiliar to me – lack of self esteem and confidence issues with my intelligence. I struggled specifically with math, and my difficulties with understanding the concept of the subject became ever more highlighted in high school. I can’t even begin to explain the amount of studying, tutoring, and tears I went through just to pass a math class and the whole time all I wanted was to get back to my golden era, as I like to call it, the time where I thought I knew what was going on.

But I was growing up, and this was the real world – as much as I hate that term, it stands true. I didn’t want to work harder than everyone else, I wanted to keep my active social life and I wanted to believe that I could make it through without math tutoring or staying up late nights studying for an anatomy and physiology test.

My friends at that time had outstanding grades or were constantly on high honor roll. They would talk about how they aced a test without studying for even a little bit. This definitely made me feel self-conscious and that feeling began to eat away at the part of me that had held my “spark”, my determination.

I could literally feel myself becoming weaker, and more discouraged.

When I was eighteen we discovered that I had a learning disability. I remember sitting in a conference room at my high school’s counselor’s office with tears welling in my eyes when we figured out why I had such a hard time learning certain things. The reason why it took so long to find was because I scored so high in English on my ACT, that the math score and science scores were overlooked. I was upset that it had taken this long, but nonetheless I was relieved, and slightly happy to know that English was still my strength, the one thing that I knew I could always use to get me by in life – my passion, the part of me where I didn’t feel completely ignorant. It was almost like it was all that I had.

But deep down, I knew that wasn’t true.

I just had to dig deep enough to realize I was smart, witty, bright and full of wonderful ideas. But like learning, it took awhile in some of these aspects.

As of today, I’m almost finished with my first year at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater as a transfer student. It has honestly been a crazy year, filled with discouragement, encouragement, anxiety, self-reassurance, lots and lots of tears, being stubborn, continuing to doubt myself and my abilities, and becoming one hundred percent, without a doubt, tired of being in a math class! There have been parts of me this year, especially the second semester, that doubted my major, English, and whether or not I wanted to continue to pursue it.

It is in these moments where that nagging, little discouraging, evil voice will creep into the good, ambitious part of my brain where my dreams lie and disturb my peace.

Sometimes I just want to scream and shout, throw something, punch something and curl up in a corner and pity myself.

But that’s only sometimes.

012c46d49ba8f86702ec88efee8f8915This year hasn’t been entirely like that, thank god. I’m trying to remember that there are parts of it that have been good moments where I should feel proud of myself. In fact there are a lot of those moments. They are moments where I found myself acing long gruesome essays, working long and hard on speeches, realizing the sometimes you may not receive the best grade, but taking pride remembering how hard I worked and the effort I put in, and learning how to go to people more often for help. I have to learn to hold onto those times where I can sit and tell myself I did a good job, instead of focusing on the negative.

It doesn’t come easy to me though, that’s why I am currently working on it right now.

And those are the two key words:

Currently,

Now.

– Jules

couple-having-fun-in-the-back-of-a-truck

Get Outside and Bring a Date: 18 Outdoor Themed Date Ideas

Before I begin, everyone needs to bust open their door and embrace the wonderful, glorious sun, with wind open arms.   I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve certainly missed the sun and all the activities that comes with having warmer weather.

Now, I can begin.  My last blog post was about fun activities that you can do with your friends in the winter.  This week I’ve decided to do fun dates that you can do outside and in.  There are obviously always the go to classics, a movie and dinner.  I’ve included these, but decided to put a spin on it.  Hopefully my ideas help you create more fun and memorable dates.

couple-having-fun-in-the-back-of-a-truckSome of these dates may require the following:

  • Money
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Phone/Internet-Only for specific adventures. Stay off your phone otherwise!

What you’ll always need:

  • Laughter
  • Smiles
  • Creativity
  • Open mind
  • Sense of Humor
  1. f34f5e70baf640133aa63b044c08b391Go on a Picnic. I feel like this is something couples always say they’ll do together, but never do.  My friend and her boyfriend went on a picnic and made picking a spot a game. The ideas was to pick a number between 1-20 and whatever number they picked that’s how many turns they had to make at each stop sign.  To decide right or left, they flipped a coin.  I think it’s a cool idea, but you may end up having your picnic at a very odd spot…
  2. Go on a hike! It’s finally nice enough to go.  While on your hike you could even pick some wild berries if they are in season (make sure they’re not poisonous…) and if you manage not to eat them all pull out your families recipe book and make a delicious pie!
  3. Go Camping. I mean real camping, in a tent no campers allowed!  There are endless outdoor activities that you both can do.   One of them should be star gazing.  You can have fun finding constellations you already know or making up ones if you don’t.  Bonus:  You can share a sleeping bag.  Snuggling is the best!
  1. 8d35bb6c7fa6ed065e8dddb425a77c17Go on a geocache adventure. Geocache really allows you to fulfill your children hood dream of being a pirate.  Download the app on your phone (there’s a free one) and pick a location where there is a geocache hidden.  You and your date can have fun trying to find the container that has the hidden treasure.  Reminder: Bring along a treasure to trade.  Also some of the containers can be very small, so keep a sharp eye out!
  2. Fly a kite. Challenge each other to see who can fly it the highest.
  3. Go to a museum or play together. Pick one neither of you have been to or seen, it’ll make it that much more special and memorable.  Tip: Save the ticket or brochure.
  4. Explore the local area. Research the towns closest to you to see if they have anything unique or specific to that town. I feel like every place does.  They could have the world’s largest mustard museum for all you know!
  5. Go out for a movie and dinner. Movies and a dinner are always a classic. See if there is a drive in theater near you and afterwards grab a milk shake and burger for a full fifties experience.
  1. Stay home. Have dinner at home and cook each other’s favorite foods. Afterwards, play truth or dare .  It’s an old game, but it’ll give you a chance to learn more about each other.
  2. Paint ceramics together. If you’re feeling extra artsy see if you can throw your own bowls and paint those at a local art studio.
  3. 22be785769eff700b162b8c6e93893a1Go to a café and play board games. My friends and I always find the weirdest, oldest games at the café’s we’ve been to.  You both can sip tea/coffee and share a delicious treat without feeling any pressure to keep conversation flowing nonstop.  You really just can have fun and enjoy each other’s company.
  4. Visit the zoo. Need I say more?
  5. Play pretend. This really isn’t a date, but I still think it’d be really fun. Make up a holiday together.  There can be rules, traditions and meals that have to take place every year.
  6. Take a cooking or art class together. If possible go to an ongoing weekly class. It can be something that you both look forward to and you can count on seeing each other at least once a week. This may be something you want to do once you start dating each other more seriously, but I still think it’d be fun to do at least once.
  7. Go to a wine tasting together. Afterwards decide which one is both your favorite and have it with your dinner later.  Note: Be careful not to drink too much.
  8. Go for a moonlight walk. Seeing the sunset or sunrise together can be cool too, but switch it up and admire the moon for a while.
  9. Play tennis or any sport really that requires a minimum of two people. Whoever loses has to buy desert.
  10. Oh, I almost forgot. Before you enjoy the warmth, tie up some loose ends first.  Go ice skating before it’s too late!

Hopefully you enjoyed my ideas!  Post below with awesome date ideas too!  Also, let me know how if you try any of these and if it was a bust or a must.

I Resolve To… ((A Journey of Growing.))

Hello and happy (almost) spring! If you are like me (and many hopeful others), you probably made some sort of resolution for 2015. How are you doing?!?! Are you seeing willful and meaningful changes in your life? Have you been measuring your progress? Have you formed some new and exciting habits?

I hope so!

2015 has been my year to center myself and take control of the person I want to be. It is also, coincidentally, my 25th year – the year my brain finishes its development. Honestly, it’s like I can feel my pre-frontal cortex making its final adjustments for impulse-control, planning, and sequencing consequences…

I’m totally kidding. But in all seriousness, I am really honing in on some skills that I’d like to continue for my next quarter century, and I think that it’s great if you’ve chosen to do the same! For myself, I looked at areas of intellect, adventure, and physical/mental wellbeing. It has been a lot to take on and challenge myself with, but I’ve set up very measurable objectives in order to meet my final goal which is ultimately to be a happier, healthier, more fulfilled person.

Tip: Fall in love in a comfy chair with an ocean view.

Tip: Fall in love in a comfy chair with an ocean view.

Do you have a lost love? When I was a kid, I was a ravenous reader. I starved for books and I engulfed them. Somewhere between high school and college, I lost my hunger. Reading became a chore and I became a couch potato. I decided that one of my primary goals this year was to revive my love of reading by reading 24 books by the end of the year. It’s March, and I am happy to report that I am about halfway through my eighth book. I’ve shifted my goal to reading as many books as possible this year. So, I’ll ask again – do you have a lost love? A forgotten hobby? Pick that shit up and revive it. (You’re welcome!)

Have you been anywhere new lately? Anywhere exciting? Anywhere that made you cry because of its beauty or warm you to your core? This year, I told myself that I was going to visit three new places. On a whim, I bought a plane ticket to Colorado ($120 roundtrip – thanks Spirit Airlines!) – a place I am well acquainted with and has brought me to tears more than once. If you do nothing else in life, surround yourself with mountains and be humbled by how small you are in this big, beautiful world. After hiking the Hanging Lake Trail and Red Rocks, soaking in hot springs, visiting old friends, and laughing (a lot) with one of my best friends, I returned home with a lighter heart and a smiling face.

Tip: Do go chasing waterfalls. (Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs, CO)

Tip: Do go chasing waterfalls. (Hanging Lake, Glenwood Springs, CO)

Shortly after, I visited the Virgin Islands and had my soul warmed by the sun, snorkeling, and the beauty of the Caribbean. I cannot tell you how fulfilling these two journeys were to me, or how incredibly grateful I am to have had these opportunities. I can tell you that I don’t want to stop seeking these adventures and exposing myself to the world that surrounds us – whether that be a two hour drive to a state park or a flight to a continent away. I have found my cure for any ailment that may hinder me just by going outside. Nature is for everyone – go get your slice!

Finally, for the past three months, I have been trying to move past pretending to like exercise to actually liking exercise. This has worked to an extent – I have increased my endurance and I look forward to the proud feeling following my workout, but you will not find me dragging myself out of bed every morning at 6am to get to the gym. Unfortunately, I have not come to detest the taste of ice cream, but I have come to dislike the taste of things that are too sweet and most, if not all, processed desserts – particularly candy bars and anything packaged. Fortunately, I have come to really enjoy well-rounded meals, and incorporate a ton of fresh produce and water in my diet. It’s a lifestyle choice not a diet – I’m creating eating habits that I can maintain for long-term, not a short-term fix for weight loss. Listen to your body and abide by the things it needs – and give it a treat once and a while. I know from experience that it really likes treats.

Overlooking Nazareth Bay, St. Thomas, USVI

Overlooking Nazareth Bay, St. Thomas, USVI

My hope for this post is that you are motivated to get moving – whether that is to a new place, a new experience, or literally just moving your body. Moving on to the person you want to be, the person you have big plans for, and the person that deserves the most you can give them. Surround yourself with positive people that love and support you in environment that will foster and encourage growth and personal development. Adopt an optimistic mindset and refine the skills that make you innately you!

Thanks for reading!
Elizabeth

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Just Breathe

breath1Recently I’ve felt like I never have enough time in the day. My to-do list is never ending, however, I typically throw in the towel around 10pm and start to get ready for bed (5:45 am comes early!) Most nights it’s hard to shut off my mind because I’m still thinking about all the things I need to do or what’s on the agenda tomorrow. There are many things in life that we simply cannot control. However, I recently came across an article that reminded me of one thing that I can control: my breath. I don’t know about you, but breathing isn’t something I often (if ever) think about–I just do it. I doubt I am breathing as deeply as I should and I know that breathing deeper leads to more oxygen to your brain and a string of other good things. So I tried the breathing technique that the article recommended and I will admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s simple. It’s quick. And it works (or maybe it’s just in my head…doesn’t matter either way)! It’s called 4-7-8. You simply inhale for 4 counts through your nose; then hold your breath for 7 counts; and finally exhale through your mouth for 8 counts. I cannot say that it made me fall asleep instantly as the author claimed in her article, but it definitely made me stop and focus solely one one thing for a few moments: my breath.

So many things are fighting for our attention at every moment and we rarely take time to simply just be.  Now, I’m not a yogi, but I have started to incorporate this little breathing technique into my day when I find myself feeling stressed and I always feel a little bit better after it. Maybe it’s because my brain is getting more oxygen, or maybe it’s because I’m simply saying no to all the other other stimuli around me for just a minute.

I find deep breathing to not only relax my body, but it also relaxes my mind. It gives me a chance to “inhale” all the blessings I have and a chance to “exhale” all the negative thoughts I have running around. We are our own worst critics. We need to stop being so hard on ourselves.  Yelled at your students today? Exhale. Ate 5 cookies in the break room? Exhale. Your bedroom is a complete disaster even though you just picked it up yesterday? Exhale.  And the list goes on and on. We can choose to inhale only the things that are good for us: You’re beautiful. You’re a good teacher. You’re trying your best. It’s not easy and it’s not something that comes naturally to most of us, but with some practice, I think we can make a habit. So if you’re like me and find your mind to be constantly racing, try the 4-7-8 method. You’ve got nothing to lose.

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-Emily Elizabeth

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Let’s Talk About Love

Dear Independent Strong-willed Sisters.

I am writing to you to talk about love. Yes I see your nose curl in disgust at the mere mention of that four letter word, but give me a minute to plead my case.

Let me start this out by telling you I understand your cynical views. There was a time not so long ago where I too said I did not need that frilly thing which they call love. No, I said, I am far too independent to ever tie myself down to someone else. (Can you imagine someone else always in your space, demanding things of you? Not for me!). I instead declared I would be single for life, surely that was the only way to remain happy and never ever be disappointed.

I get it. I understand. And let me tell you, I fought with tooth and nail to avoid love like the black plague I decided it was. I pushed and I shoved it away. I was mean and unloving.

But I lost.

The crazy thing is dear Sisters, is that a real love breaks through those pessimistic layers and that wall of cynicism you built around yourself. A real love makes you face yourself and see the real reasons that those walls were built in the first place and will love you anyway.

Now I know this may be hard to hear and I know you still may be rolling your eyes at me even now, believing I have been blinded by cupid’s arrow.

Maybe you are right.

b6134454def58bf77ade92252ec8af22But if being blind means having someone who thinks you are amazing even when your makeup is off, your glasses are on, and your retainer is in; who loves you when you are sick, when you are mean, when you are being unreasonable, or are just plain tired, well I think I don’t mind so much that I have been blinded.

And those fears I had the ones of losing my independence, or being annoyed with someone in my space… I tell you this now; the person who is worth your love will expand your independence and encourage you to grow beyond yourself. The person who is worth your love will understand when you need space and when you are lying and really need them to be close.

Dear sisters, I hope for you that you find what I found (even though I was avidly NOT looking for it). A man who is worth your love will not only be your significant other, but your best friend. That is what you deserve and that is what is worth waiting for.

(Gross so much love!)

Always,

-Samantha

Single and Ready to Bingo

All I want for Valentine’s Day is a man with Ryan Gosling’s chiseled abs, Channing Tatum’s dance moves, Brad Pitt’s jawline, Ed Sheeran’s voice, Jared Leto’s eyes, Bobby Moynihan’s humor, Patrick Dempsey’s hair, and ages like George Clooney. Is that really too much to ask?

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Apparently, not only is it too much to ask, but is also impossible for a 24 year old single girl who works second shift at a nursing home. Being single at a nursing home is one of the worst social experiences ever. Hearing everything from “You should settle down” to “Well who is going to take care of you when you’re my age?” to “A pretty girl like you? What’s wrong with you?”, I have come pretty close to wearing a fake engagement ring and photoshopping some celebrity into a photo with me and introducing him as my fiance just to avoid such unfortunate encounters.

So this Valentine’s Day, with nothing to look forward to but a good round of Candy Heart Bingo at work, I reflect on the 5 Stages of Being Single on V-Day:

1. I’m single as f***

Everyone but you is in a relationship, and you’re surrounded by lovesick idiots. Whether it’s roses and kisses and sappy love proclamations on Facebook or hand holding and gooey eyes on the streets, it feels like everyone around you is rubbing it in your face that you are completely single. Can you get any more single? Probably. The days surrounding this ill-fated holiday are saturated in red and pink and flowers, which to any single person are The Worst. As the day draws nearer and nearer you seem to get more and more single, can’t the day just be over now so you can stop wallowing in your complete aloneness. What are your Valentine’s Day plans, your friends ask. Wallowing in self pity you say.

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2. Everything is RED

It’s as if the world is out to get you. You can’t step out of the house without being reminded of how single you are. The hot topics at work involve what your Valentine’s Day plans, what your sweetheart has planned for you, and how awful it must be to be single, which turns your disbelief and skepticism into molten lava rage. You want to punch every heart shaped balloon and box of chocolates. And the monstrosity that is heart shaped pizzas?! I would prefer mine to be perfectly ordinarily circular please. As the day draws nearer you develop a personal vendetta against everything red and heart shaped. You can’t even enjoy your emojis anymore.

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3. Who Needs Love Anyways

What is today? February 14? Weird, must not have gotten the memo. Your anger and rage have dissipated into denial and blissful ignorance. I think I’ll stay in bed all day and wear sweatpants in honor of this hallowed day. Maybe eat my weight in chocolate and finally clean up my e-mail inbox. What is that you say, there are other fish in the sea? Well, I don’t particularly like fishing.

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4. Treat ‘Yo Self

You decide to take this day as your personal holiday: it’s all about you, girlfriend! Whether it’s a Galentine’s Day celebration with your gal pals, a spa day on your own, or a shopping spree, bank statements and calories don’t exist. The sky’s the limit, and you are pulling out all the stops. Things are beginning to look up, Valentine’s Day could be enjoyable. If couples can have a special day, you can too. Seize the day, bask in the love in the air. Embrace your singleness and OWN IT.

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5. Que Sera Sera

It’s the day of and your emotions are all over the place, but you’ve come to accept the fact that you will be spending the day alone. At this point you’ve come to terms with it all and have a sense of freedom: anything could happen now that you have no plans and no one to tie you down. You’re on cloud nine with no expectations for the day to let you down. Enjoy your freedom, this rollercoaster of emotions only comes once a year!

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Muses!

-Jen

Let’s Talk About Bodies

Let’s chat about bodily agency. Because apparently men and women everywhere are still unaware of the idea that a person has complete control over his or her body. It’s about time everyone understands what that means.

Untitled design (29)A couple months ago I was heading home from post-work drinks with coworkers. My walk back is roughly fifteen minutes and in a very safe area. I never think twice about walking alone. And, you know what? I absolutely shouldn’t have to.

Halfway through my walk, I came across a pub where a group of people were sitting outside. When I passed them, one man decided it was acceptable to slap my ass. The rest of his friends simply laughed along at the entertainment this guy was providing to the group. I was amazed at how strongly they exemplified what is wrong in our society.

I spent the rest of my walk home absolutely fuming. I felt violated and weak. Sure, it might appear to be a small incident in the large scheme of things but it meant I was not valued as a person. This man decided that my body was a free for all. The people around him agreed with his behavior and found it acceptable. I wasn’t a human being but instead a source of entertainment and simply an object.

I unashamedly ascribe to the label of feminist. I admire strong women and enjoy being a part of a group of females who support each other. I strive to constantly respect and value myself in a society that often does not do the same. So, “little” things like this incident are truly appalling to me. It made me feel I had no power. Regardless of all the steps I make in my own life, as a woman, my value is meaningless to society.

But it wasn’t only the men who didn’t see my value as a woman. The females in the group who sat there and laughed were completely inexcusable to me. Whether or not they realized it, these women were laughing along with the objectification of their own gender. There is absolutely no reason for a woman to excuse incidents like this as “just a joke”.  Honestly, I find it repulsive that a female would want to be friends with men who took part in degrading acts toward women.

b9332498a66eeace138d02fb1caffb62I’m sick of females who defend this type of behavior in their male friends. I’m tired of men who stress not ALL men would do the same thing. These excuses mean absolutely nothing to me. Until people accept that there is a devaluing of a woman’s body in society and strive to change this, they ARE a part of the problem.

It’s time for everyone to understand a woman’s body is her own. I should be able to walk alone without worrying about feeling violated and powerless. What is wrong with our society that a woman can’t walk home alone without experiencing harassment? People need to stop brushing off situations like this. There have to be strong steps toward complete bodily agency for all people. Maybe then women won’t have to feel powerless.

– Kelsey