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Food for Thought

“Focus on being healthy, not skinny”-Anonymous

Something strange has happened to me multiples times in the grocery store these past few months. People are coming up to me and congratulating me for being… healthy. They are saying things like, “Wow! You are obviously a healthy eater, good for you!” and “How can you eat like that and pay so little? I must know your secret!” and finally, “I envy people like you who eat healthy.”

Attention everyone: I am not amazing and you do not have to envy me to eat the same food as I do. But, if you want to give me a trophy or a certificate about being so amazing, I would gladly accept your offer.

A little about me so you can understand who I am and how I can achieve this ‘amazing lifestyle’ that everyone else is trying to achieve. I am 25 years old and I work as a special education teacher. My hobbies include camping, kayaking, rock climbing, and rollerblading. I am married to the biggest carnivore in Minnesota and we prepare and cook our meals at least 5 days per week. (We treat ourselves to burritos and Chinese buffets every few weeks.)

I am a teacher, so I do not make a crazy amount of money. My husband is a handyman and, again, is not making a crazy amount of money. We own a house, two cars, and a cat. We budget ourselves accordingly but we leave ourselves some wiggle room. Oh did I mention, we just got married so we are paying off wedding debt too. This is who I am. I want you to realize how easy it is to “eat healthy” and become a supermarket star, if that is what you have always dreamed of becoming.

Every 2 weeks, we allow ourselves $100 in groceries.  That $100 needs to feed and sustain our lifestyles for 12-14 days. During the summer months, we visit the local farmer’s market to support local produce, but on the average shopping trip we support a local grocery store chain. I can honestly tell you that I spend about 75% of my time in the produce section of the grocery store. This usually consumes about 40% of my bi-weekly. I once heard a comment from the friendly cashier, “Wow, you bought all of that produce and your total is still pretty low. I am surprised.”

It surprises me how excited people are to see what I am buying and congratulate me for eating healthy. They act like they cannot eat healthy like me even if they tried. Newsflash: I am not the healthiest eater. Last night, I ate 4 oreo cookies dunked in milk and that is okay. If you deprive yourself from sugars and sweets, you are going to gorge out on them any time you have the chance! Moderation. Instead of 8 cookies, eat 4 and be okay with eating only 4.

If you would like to eat healthier, change your mindset. Change the way you think about food. Everything that you do and all of your habits are based on a mindset that you created. You can change your mindset about food quickly. I did this in about 2-3 weeks. Think about everything you are putting in your cart two times. When you pick up your item as yourself, do I want this or do I need this? If you need it, then ask, how can I prepare and make this into a meal?  If you have any doubts, put it back. If you can’t make something with it, put it back. If you aren’t going to eat it within the next week, put it back. Change your mindset about food. Change the way you think about healthy foods and determine what is healthy.

I don’t eat healthy, I eat right. I fill my body with 80% vegetables, 10% grains and 10% other. I don’t classify myself as a vegetarian because I still eat meat but I don’t load my meals down with meat either. I find alternative proteins and add those into my diet.

There is a diet ‘rule’ that says something along the lines of, “Stay on the outer most portion of the grocery store and don’t go down the isles.” But, how am I going to get cereal, pasta sauce and vegetable stock without going down the isles…? LIES. All of it. Lies. You CAN go down the isles because you are in control of what you pick up. You are in control of what you put into your cart and leave the store with. Leave that prepackaged and boxed food on the shelf. The most processed food that I buy is lunch meat and I cringe every time I put it in my cart, but my husband likes turkey sandwiches.

Don’t strive to be me, congratulate me, or get excited because I am eating healthy. You can eat healthy too. I am living proof that you can eat healthy and still go out to eat once a week in a household of 2 people for $50/week. Think about what you are putting your your cart and evaluate the importance of that frozen lasagna. You can eat healthy if you change your mindset and think about the importance of each item.

For anyone curious,

How I shop: I pick and choose what I buy based on price and availability. Peppers are usually on sale or at a low price, so I pick up 3 of those. I eat these alone, with hummus, in stir fry, and in eggs. I can go through 3 peppers in 2 weeks, easily. Then I mosey down do the carrots, celery, and snap peas. These make great snacks! Next, I grab zucchini, a head of cabbage, mushrooms and some spinach bundles. I always price watch broccoli and cauliflower as these are more pricey items. These become by treats and ‘why not’ decisions. Carrots are the only vegetable or fruit that I buy prepackaged. It is so expensive to pay for packaging. Buy spinach bundles (Shake off that extra water!) and cut them up when you get home. Bagged lettuce gets slimy and spoils faster than a head of lettuce. If you can, leave the packaging at the store and buy the actual item and stop paying for packaging. Then I move onto fruit. Again, grabbing some apples, oranges, kiwi, mangos, raspberries, blueberries and anything that is on sale. I usually pick apples that are priced in the middle of the price spectrum. Same with oranges. I look for sales in the fruit and rarely pay full price for berries. I grab potatoes and onions next and move on. Sometimes I experiment and try a new food or grab something that I haven’t had in a while, but I basically get the same items every week. I move up and down every isle grabbing things I need to make a meal. Pasta sauce, check. Granola, check, Noodles, get in my cart. I move onto the dairy section next, grab 18 eggs, some cheese, diary and soy milk, cottage cheese and sometimes I get yogurt. I grab a loaf of bread and I’m off to the register.

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The Hiatus and The Realization

“You can have my breath, And you can have my darkness, And you can have my blood; if it gets you high.”- Dead Man Winter

Where have I been? What have I been doing? Why haven’t I blogged in over a year? The answer, I have been asking myself those same questions.

In the past year, I have been finding myself and struggling with accepting the person I truly am inside. I have never been a person about labels or personal identification because I felt like I fit in everywhere and I tried very hard to change my personality to fit into every social situation possible. I was never the same person; living multiple personalities and becoming the one personality I detested the most, fake. I smiled at everyone I had come in contact with and made sure I knew some little antidote about them to bring up when meeting them again, to make sure we were connected. I let people take control of me because I was so kind and always willing. I was the smiling girl on campus that walked around proud and full of joy on the outside, but on the inside, was falling apart into pieces and could not find a safe place to take refuge.

I graduated from college.

I fell apart. I moved home. I settled for mediocre. I sat in my parent’s house applying for job after job after job. I settled on a mediocre job, making mediocre pay, working with mediocre staff who knew nothing about child development, advocating for a mediocre life. I hated going to work. I hated the people I worked with. I hated the lack of education these people claimed they possessed. I was a bag of skin and bones full of regret, hate, and confusion. Depression skimmed my eyes and my mind was weak.

I wondered the meaning of my existence and if my mediocre job was going to run my life in the upcoming years. I needed to find an answer and I needed to find someone who could listen. That person was me. I was the only one who could listen and understand my own hardships. I was the only person who could understand my feelings and do something about it.

I found solace in the north shore. I found solace in music. I found solace in the middle of the woods on a Saturday afternoon hike on the Superior Hiking Trail on a brisk April morning.

It was time to decide my meaning on this planet and the ways I can impact the world. rather than the world impacting me. I needed control over who I was and where I was going. I needed to take back that part of my life. In a sense, I needed a revolution. I needed to detox my life and choose the path that best suit me and my dreams. I needed to get rid of the poisons that controlled my life and detach myself from people that fed into the temptation of identity. I needed to break from everyone else’s expectations and only care about myself. I needed to care about myself before I could care about anyone else. I needed to tear out the scribbled on pages of my life and start over with a blank notebook. After months of cleansing, it happened:

My identity had fallen.

This is who I am. I am a millennial, hipster who cares about the environment, needs to feel empowered and picks apart musicians and artists like it’s my part-time job. I am an educator. I am an outspoken individual who will advocate for my student’s success in the most polite, but in your face way possible. I love going to farmers markets. I think weddings are over-rated and that partnerships shouldn’t be trivial and tasking but celebrated and rejoiced. I believe in essential oils and that medication isn’t always the best solution to the common illness and ailments that face our society today. I believe that everyone has good intentions but they may not be able to express their needs in an effective way.

I realized that in the past, I controlled parts of my life that cannot be controlled. I cannot control my friends, their thoughts, or the way others feel about me. I cannot control how my friends grow and how our friendships grow apart. I realized that people come and go in life and those that stay are the ones that are worth your energy. I realized that depression is sneaky and it takes over your life quickly like fog coming in on a chilly fall morning.

I don’t have an identity. I don’t have a category. I don’t have an expectation.

I have peace. I have happiness. I have wonder. And I have love. This, should carry me through life. Day after day.

 

 

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Here’s to You, College Graduate

“Crazy how comfortable you get as 4 years go by. Then you gotta jump into the real world. A new environment. A new life. Don’t be afraid of the jump. The jump is just a new beginning!”- Anonymous

 

First and foremost, congratulations on making it through college and receiving a degree in a field that you hope will bring you joy, happiness, and financial stability. Congratulations for pushing through countless papers, staying up until the early morning completing that assignment that you procrastinated on for a full weekend (if not longer), and for creating some of the greatest memories to date. You are free, for the next six months, to adventure and grow into the adult that you were meant to be. Congratulations on sliding into adulthood with two feet forward and continuing to better yourself and the people around you.

Good. Now with that said:

IT’S A TRAP! TURN AROUND AND GO BACK!

Okay, maybe it is not a trap. Maybe it is just a large black hole that you are continuing to fall down and cannot seem to find the string to pull your parachute to help you land safely without crashing and burning. Yeah. That sounds more like it.

Graduating college has a similar timeline as grieving. First is shock. You did it! Your family and friends are congratulating you and you cannot get enough of the feeling of accomplishment. Soon after, you start feeling pain. Pain from leaving the town that you grew to love. Pain from leaving your friends and professors that you have become so close with. This pain takes over the feeling of shock quickly as you watch the empire you built for the past four to five years crumble. Within a week, you forget about the pain that you held in your heart and begin to become angry or bargain for your college life back. You start to think over the past five years and think about mistakes you made, things you could have done better and really feel ashamed of the opportunities you did not capitalize on. You are not angry at the university or the people around you, just yourself. You also become angry at the amount of job applications being sent out with hopes of a promising career, but you sit by the phone day after day anxiously waiting for the employer to call. You become angry with the career path you chose and angry with your efforts. Don’t be alarmed when the university sends out your college bill almost immediately after graduation, because this will make you even more angry and on the verge of tears. This quickly turns into a depression. Another name for this is ‘Bing-watching Netflix because you can’t even afford to get coffee with a friend.’ You begin to believe that you will never get a job. That you should have started grad school right away. You start calculating your student loan payments and start thinking about new ways to produce income because you are realizing that watching Netflix all day will not make you a penny. You become reluctant to people offering support and offering money. You believe that you can do this on your own! Once you are done loathing on your self pity and want to move on, you begin the upward turn out of depression and get back on that horse. You may only sit in a bing-watching state for a week before making your turn upward. You become so angry that you decide to apply to everything and anything because you can, because you have a college degree and because you want to make a difference in people’s lives. Onto the next stage of reconstruction and hope, you get a phone call, or two or even three! YES! Finally someone has shown me the light! Someone believes in me! Someone is going to be my parachute and make sure that I am going to be okay. You are excited to set up interviews, ready to talk about yourself and accept a job or an opportunity. You are going to grad school. Whatever it is, you have made it and your jump is becoming less scary and more exciting. You accept that you are growing up and you are ready to take on the world, similar to the day you walked across that stage and shook the president’s hand.

You are ready!

To be honest, college graduate. You won’t get the job of your dreams right away. You need to accept that you cannot run a company or manage a group of adults fresh out of college. Create a name. Create a ‘brand’. Sculpt yourself and make sure you are the best you can be. You are an adult and your decisions will be with you for the rest of your life. You cannot fall back on your parents or on your lack of knowledge because that is no longer an excuse, and that’s okay! Make mistakes! Enjoy this opportunity that you are given and make it worth every ounce of energy you have. Take care of those around you, your work colleagues and more importantly, take care your yourself and your interpersonal being. You can do this college grad. You have been given the tools and the materials necessary. Now go build a life worth living!

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An open letter to Chris Christie

“”There’s no point in going climbing if you don’t enjoy the process. It should be like playing.”- Alex Honnold

Dear Chris Christie,

When you were in New Hampshire on August 28th, you made accusations and statements that were ambiguous and showcased the pure ignorance that you posses. During a rally for your presidency, you not only offended the majority of universities in the country, but you also offended the rock climbing community. You stated that the amount of rock climbing walls being built at universities is an epidemic. No, sir. HIV/AIDS is an epidemic. Rock climbing is a stress reliever, a mind relaxer and a way of life.

When you said, “You have rocks!… What the hell do you need a rock climbing wall for?” You see, I go to a university in the Fargo-Moorhead area in North West Minnesota. We are running a bit scarce on the amount of rock we can climb here. In fact, there are no rock faces or cliffs that we can ‘go climb’. The idea that everyone has rocks to climb upon is a bit unrealistic, so that is “why the hell” we need a rock climbing wall. Neighboring universities also have rock climbing walls which is a great feature because we can intermingle with other universities and engage in meaningful relationships over a common interest, which is something that many university presidents want and desire.

When I applied for schools 5 years ago, I did not decide on the university based on the rock wall. Frankly, I did not even know what rock climbing was or if I would enjoy it. It wasn’t until the first week of classes that I entered our climbing wall and was immediately hooked. I have not stopped since. Not many high schools have rock walls which means this is a new experience to many students. A university that has a rock wall promotes not only healthy habits but also the opportunity for students to engage in an activity that is new and exciting. Our rock wall has influenced many leadership opportunities; which is a parallel statement about other rock walls throughout the United States. We started a club on campus devoted to rock climbing. We developed a vision and a linked together passions to create the only club on campus to be awarded with the most school pride award. The only club to share their pride throughout the state. Mr. Christie, the experiences that we have had in this club and the life lessons that we have learned is by far more beneficial than the lessons we have learned in our college classes. This club has brought together multiple nationalities, experience levels, and personalities together. Isn’t that what college’s social purpose is? To expose their students to a multicultural environment that is inclusive to all? Mr. Christie, the rock climbing wall on our university has brought together our most shy individuals and allowed them to grow and become who they never thought they could be.

Rock climbing is not just about climbing a wall and trying to get to the top. Rock climbing is about finding the fears that are deep inside and allowing those fears to break free. Rock climbing allows a person be become one with the wall and lose the stress of the day. Climbers who climb with a heavy mind do not achieve as high as others who climb with a clear head. Huffington Post came out with an article a year ago that states,

“Some researchers suggest exercise be used to help treat a variety of mental illnesses, including addiction, depression and anorexia. But climbing itself has an extra trick up its sleeve:Climbers who totally lose themselves in the flow of the activity enter a mindset that can create a sense of euphoria and even block pain, according to Indiana University.”

The article also states that climbing boosts brain function and it teaches valuable life skills. Mr. Christie, wouldn’t you be impressed if your daughter had a calm place to get away from her studies for a while that wasn’t influenced by drugs, alcohol, or other college pressures? Wouldn’t you be impressed if a university provided a rock wall for your daughter to climb when she is so stressed she cannot look at another page of notes without crying? Mr. Christie, wouldn’t you be impressed if your daughter called you after climbing the rock wall for the first time and sounded excited and accomplished? Rock walls are popping up everywhere on universities throughout the United States because everyone is finally realizing the benefits that a climbing wall has for the university culture as well as student mental health. I don’t know about you, but I would fund a rock wall on a university campus before I funded a new football stadium, basketball courts, or even a water feature.

Mr. Christie, would you suggest to students, that have no knowledge about rock climbing, how to set anchors, tie knots, or belay, to “Go outside and climb those rocks” because “You have rocks, right out there”? Would you want students who have no idea what they are doing to set anchors and hope that they hold when someone else is climbing? I know I wouldn’t. I would rather climb in an area that I know is safe and that is checked on a daily basis to ensure total safety.

Mr. Christie, my challenge for you is to put on a harness and climb up a rock wall. I don’t want you to fail, I want you to understand. I want you to understand the zen that comes from climbing and the amount of trust and courage you need to get up that wall because I don’t think you personally understand the benefits that come when a climbing wall is put on a university campus.

Signed,

A Climber

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/30/health-benefits-rock-climbing_n_5708847.html

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What’s wrong with adulting? 

“You know the path child, now follow it!” -Grandmother Willow

Being only 23, I still have a lot of life and learning ahead of me. I realize that my life as an adult is just beginning and there is already this ora of “adulting” and being responsible that is creeping up like a storm on a warm summers night. Being an adult should be a rush. Being an adult should be enlightening. Being an adult should be a pure experience of your capabilities. Being an adult should be a reflection on the lessons taught to you while growing through adolecense. The last four months has given me a lot of eye opening experiences along with lessons that were tough to learn but in the end, it’ll be worth it because I am transforming into a more educated and well-rounded… well, adult.

I think a lot of college graduates struggle with their identity and who they should and will become. Throughout their childhood they are pushed into different sports, activities, and clubs just to figure out what they do and don’t like. Soon after the pressure of perfection and authenticity becomes overwhelming and they forget their true passions. So I challenge you, no matter your age, sit with the beverage of your choice (Mine is usually coffee in the morning) in a place that you can just relax and think about what you believe, where you want to go, and what your purpose is here on Earth. Think about who you are and not what you are trying to be. For the last two years I have been trying to be someone that I am not. I was getting pulled into so many different directions that it became tiring to wake up and be something that was fake and made up. I realized that being an adult didn’t mean perfection. I didn’t have to smile every day non-stop because it is okay to have a bad day. I realized that being an adult meant being unique and being an adult meant finally being who you truly are and not caring about the stereotypes that followed. Being an adult means letting go of who you were and become who you really want to be. Support and believe whatever you damn well please. No one can stop you. If you grew up in a family that was very conservative but your liberal butterfly is just waiting to fly, let it out and embrace the ability to finally become who you were dentin to be.

Embrace being an adult. We waited 18 years to get here and we are just getting started! Being an adult is hard. It is. No one is going to deny that. But being an adult is as hard as you make it because you have control over many avenues of your life. We are finally responsible enough to pay bills and be accountable. When you think about it, we were in an 18 year training to become an adult and now it is our time to shine. We need to show the world everything that we know and show everyone else that we are able to successfully adult. You will be low on money. You will. Deal with it. Don’t go out to Chipotle two times a week and you’ll be amazed at how much your back account thanks you. Don’t worry about the finer things in life because those will come. They come with age and experience. You will be living paycheck to paycheck but the way that you handle the stress and reality of adulting will define you.. When I was growing up I told my mom, “I can’t wait to be an adult because I want to get mail. I can’t wait to grow up so I can have my own house. I can’t wait to grow up so I can buy my own car. I can’t wait to grow up so I can have a job and earn money.” My mother’s response was the same every time, “You’ll be an adult, but don’t forget to be a kid too.” Don’t forget to be a kid.  Being an adult is a powerful thing. Don’t forget to sit back, have fun, and crack open a juice box.

Adults create meaningful goals. Well, if I’m going to be an adult, I should start making goals that are obtainable. No more making crazy goals about having a job that pays $50,000 right out of college and moving West to become a climber and live in the mountains. Yes, that sounds like an amazing life but it is not realistic. Make goals that are both long term and short term. In the short term, I would like to get through student teaching and receive a reasonable job offer. Obtainable. I would like to get married. Obtainable. I want to go kayaking with orcas, mildly obtainable but becoming a bit far-fetched. Put your heart into the goals that you set and make them come true. What is the purpose of living this life given to us if we are just going through the motions and living on pilot mode? Make your life worth something and drive yourself forward to success. That’s what adults do.

Lets be honest, adulting is tricky. Adulting is stressful. Adulting is work. We worked so hard to get here, live in the moment and enjoy the freedom of being able to control your life, ideas, and future.

In cross country, you were either someone who liked to chase, or someone who like to lead. I like to chase. I was always pushing to beat the person ahead of me because I wanted to be better. Others worked their hardest to be ahead of everyone and maintain the lead. Are you a chaser or a leader?

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The Two Mommy Conversation

“…when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that’s not what America’s about…” -President Obama

Working at a school, I can honestly say nothing surprises me anymore. I have been asked if the mole on my arm is poop as well as being screamed at for asking a toddler if they would like to go potty on the toilet. Today, while playing spoons with a group of kindergartners, a conversation between three friends made my heart happy and the future of this country look bright.

T: “Hey, my mom told me that the president and the people in the white house made marriage legal for everyone. That’s pretty cool!”

Me: “Yeah, the law was just passed on Friday. I think it is amazing!”

H: “What do you mean, everyone can marry? I thought you could marry anyone you want.”

T: “Well first you have to get asked. You can’t just marry someone because you like them.”

C: “Yeah. The boy asks the girl and you have to love the person before you marry them.”

H: “Yeah, but why couldn’t two people get married before? My mommy and daddy got married.”

Me: “Mommies and daddies could get married before, too. That is still the same. What happened was the President made a law that makes it legal for anyone to marry. That means boys and girls can get married as well as a boy marrying another boy and a girl marrying another girl.”

T: “Yeah. So boys can like boys and girls can like girls.”

H: “You mean it wasn’t okay for boys to like other boys and girls to like other girls?”

T: “No. You couldn’t even like another girl because people would make fun of you.”

H: “But why would people make fun of you? That’s mean. I like everyone. You can’t make fun of a boy for liking another boy.”

Me: “That is the right attitude to have. You should be friends with everyone unless they give you a reason not to.”

H: “But like why does it matter? Why was it not okay before?”

T: “I don’t know but it is cool now.”

C: “But if two girls can get married does that mean that someone will have two mommies?”

Me: “Yep. If two girls get married and have a baby, then that baby will have two mommies. But those mommies will love the baby just as much as your mommies and daddies love you.”

T: “And if two boys get married then someone will have two daddies.” (small giggles)

H: “Yeah! Two daddies! That would be cool.”

C: “I don’t know if I would like to have two mommies.”

Me: “I am just happy to have parents that love me.”

T: “Yeah me too!”

H: “Even if I had two mommies I would still be happy because I know they love me.”

This is a game of spoons I will never forget. Our next generation will be a powerful one full of ideas to generate change and equality.

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When the Hippie Understood the Yankee

“Home is where your rump rests.” -Pumbaa (The Lion King)

Born and raised in the Midwest, it is obvious to identify the differences between the way I was brought up in comparison to my nieces, born and raised in Texas. On a recent trip South, which was unplanned and unexpected, the differences were brought forth in a light that was almost blinding. Those ‘Southern Bells’ have nothing on good ol’ ‘Minnesota Nice.’

My brother, twelve years older than I, has lived in Texas for 15 years now with his wife and two adopted children. Walking out the front door of their house is similar to walking through the campground your family travels to every year for a weekend, but this campground happens to be year round. To the left we have five trailers which contains two cousins, a brother, mom and dad, and don’t forget great aunt Gigi! To the right is more trailers with another set of cousins and their parents. There is more family within their quarter mile than our sixty mile radius.  By the end of day 4, I was ready to transfer my brothers home into another town. You can’t even wake up without someone being over at the house or have any time that is quiet without someone knocking on the door. Sometimes it is just for a quick hello and other times it is to express pure boredom and the need to do something other than just sit. Their families are very close and supportive which is something that isn’t as prominent in the Midwest, but I kind of like it that way. 

When driving into a southern state, it is expected that everthing is going to be deep fried, put on the BBQ, or be a processed pile of food. Even though I have been to Texas more times than I can count, my personal strive to become a healthier and more conscious individual was quickly haulted. After this trip, my body feels deprived of the nutrients needed to function throughout the day. It started on the drive down in Oklahoma. We stopped at a gas station just outside of OKC and I was craving some yogurt, fruit, or something light yet filling. I found a banana for $3. No thanks. Yogurt? Try $4.50 for a small container. Next. I could have gotten fried chicken and french fries for $3.99. Yep! Thats right, deep fried food for less than yogurt by only a dollar more than the banana. As we got into Texas, it got worse and the amount of food that I ate was close to anorexia. After getting car sick and ejecting the small amount of food I had, I was ready to get to my brothers family campground and sleep it off for the night. Throughout the next few days, I was offered fried this and fried that. I politely declined and chose a salad over a deep fried who knows what. The point isn’t the deep fried food. I eat chicken tenders and fried pickels in Minnesota all of the time. The point is the amount that is consumed and the lack of nutritional education that is provided to these people. My nieces, 13 and 10, drink at least 4 cans of pop daily. That is minimal to the amount that my sister-in-law drinks as well as my brother. When did it become okay for growing children to consume that amount of sodium, calories, and lets not even talk about the sugar. Dinners consist of ramen noodles and pre-made salads that have rock hard cheese chunks and slimey pieces of turkey. It is obvious to see why my extended family in this state is over weight with high blood pressure and cholestrol higher than Mount Everest. I keep thinking about my niece’s health and safety in a state that does not support a healthy living style. 

The Midwest is very fortunate to have the resources and the innovation that is sparking the future. I cannot remember the last time I used a styrofoam plate to eat off of, let alone heat something up in the microwave. Well, I can officially say I have contributed to 5 plates going into a Texas landfill that will never decompose and will create toxins in our earth. Sorry Mother Earth, I had no choice. I expressed my disgust towards these plates and my brother quickly glared and told me to deal with it. Nope. That’s not going to happen. When is it okay to use something that if burned will create greenhouse gases and if burried will create toxins as well as take hundreds of years to decompose? It’s not okay. We are taught in the Midwest to love the Earth and care for its future. We are taught in school to care for the environment, recycle, and never liter. Wildlife is meant to be wild and the Earth is our home. Just like our personal residence, we need to keep it clean, pick up the garbage, and always wash the dishes before they get smelly. It is very obvious that the southern states could care less about the environment and what our future looks like.

Thinking about schooling and being a future educator, the emphasis and the meaning behind education is skewed to the point of no return. In the Midwest, school is a priority and the education you recieve is just as important as the food that is put on our plate. There are various exceptions to that statement which is true to every other remark made beofre. But overal, when my student teaching fifth graders who are average achieving students are reading at a 6th grade level or higher, you’d think that the norm for a majority of schools thorughout the United States would be simlar. My fifth grade niece is reading at a third grade reading level and is in the highest level of reading in her class. Shocking, to say the least. Where are the educated teachers that are pushing these students to achieve higher? Where are the teachers that are striving for excellence and change? Why is someone who is below average concidered to be the most achieving student in the class? I always knew I did not agree with the ideas and purpose behind the Texas education system, but this past weekend solidified my suspicion. Here is something to think about, there is no U.S geography taught before 6th grade. Minnesota students are taugh this in fourth grade and have it mastered. North Dakota also fourth grade and the toddlers at the Montessori school I work at can name all of the five surrounding states. My nieces can’t identify any state other than Texas, Minnesota and California. How is this education system still going?

The Midwest has been home to be for 23 years and I have learned a lot about myself, nature, and the world around me. Every state is special and unique. Every state has their positive and negative aspects. Though I hold Minnesota near and dear to my heart, there are some state regulations and decisions that I disagree with, similar to every other person in the United States. The reason I worry about my nieces is because they know nothing more than what they are raised on. They do not understand the harm that 4 cans of pop can do to their body. They don’t understand that they are achieving below the national average in many educational subjects. I do. If I could bring them to Minneosta for one year of their education, they would understand. My brother would understand. 

Personal

Where is my mind…?

“Way out in the water, see it swimming.” -Trampled By Turtles

At least once a year, I question what I want to do with my life. Where I want to live. What I want to be when I grow up. What do I believe. Who will I follow and what brings me total happieness? I base my life around goals and dreams. Often, I find myself getting slapped in the face and having to move on. That, is the beauty of it.

There is a fine line between an obtainable goal and a goal that is just so robust that not even the most achieving person can complete. I set many goals that will never be met. Even though subconsiously I know that goal will never be met, I still set it anyways. I know that I will become disappointed at some point, it happens. We can only control our future to a certain extent. There is a certain joy that always follows disappointment. Even though there is disappointment, I still set huge goals. Behind that goal is a special drive that is unlike any other. That drive takes over my life and helps me take the necessary steps to become successful. Without goals and dreams, what do we have to live for? What is the one thing that makes us wake up every day? Is it family? Is it the person you’ve woken up next to? Something has to drive us to see another day.

The difference between a goal and a dream… nothing. In my opinion, nothing. My dreams are my goals and my goals are my dreams. I dream about waking up in the mountains one day and going out for morning kayak around the lake. I dream about climbing The North Face and Half Dome. I dream about living in Seattle and drinking a cup of coffee watching the Orcas swim by. I also dream about having a beautiful family with the man that I love. I dream about living to be 100 and just embracing life. I dream about pure happiness.

Recently, I have taken the time to think about my future and where I want to be in the next few years. What I want to be doing and who is going to be by my side cheering me on the whole way. I now know my purpose. I understand why I am here today. It is an enlightening and rich experience to understand what your purpose is in life. It makes me want to collapse and be flooded with emotion. My future is bright, and so is yours. Where is your mind?

Who is going to be cheering for you?