Friday, April 24

What a Wonderful World

Earth Day is a holiday much different than other well known holidays.  It is a day that actually benefits the world around us and teaches us to appreciate the place we live our lives and not take it for granted.  There are so many ways to give back to the Earth and on this day we try to express our gratitude for having such a wonderful resource at our fingertips. 

Earth Day is only one day but you can "celebrate" it every day just by doing a few simple things to help the Earth stay clean and fresh.

1) Ride your bike to class (or work).
There is so much pollution emitted from buses and cars.  Even cars that are better for the environment use up gas and we all know that is a resource that may run out at any moment.  Riding your bike has so many benefits.  It gives you exercise which is beneficial because you are actually going somewhere instead of running in place on a treadmill.  It definitely saves gas money because you don't use any!  Riding your bike also allows you to discover new paths to take each time you go somewhere and it can be a refreshing way to relieve stress when you are returning home.  You can just take a leisurely peddle through a bike path.

2) Save electricity.
Energy Star really does a great job of having energy saving products available to the community.  They have compact fluorescent light bulbs which use about 40% less energy than regular bulbs. They also make washers, refrigerators, and even computers that use less energy than the regular product.  You can also always save electricity by turning off the lights when you aren't in the room!

3) Use less water.
Your parents always told you to turn off the water when you brush your teeth but how many of you actually did that?  I know I didn't.  I know now that it really helps save water but I couldn't care less when I was younger.  By turning off the water when you brush your teeth and taking shorter showers, we can save billions of gallons of water a day.

4) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Probably the most well-known but under-utilized phrase around.  We all know it but we don't always follow its simple advice.  So many bottles are thrown away in the trash just because people cannot find a recycling bin.  It really makes a difference.  Also, if you don't want that bottle to end up in a landfill, make sure you take off the cap before you recycle it.  Reuse bottles and containers as much as you can.  I know they say plastic bottles develop germs when they are reused but if you only use them a couple of times, such as filling them up the same day you opened them, the benefits outweigh any chances of getting sick.  

Take time today and every day to re-evaluate what you do to help keep our Earth clean.

Monday, April 20

Dance Like No One's Watching

I envy people who can dance. And I don't just mean bopping back and forth at a party dancing. I'm talking about full-on leaping, twirling, professional dancing. Any time I see a movie or TV show that comes out about dancing, I have to go see it because I know even if it's not that great of a movie, the dancing will be really awesome. After the movie is over, I am left sitting there wishing so badly that I could dance like the stars in the movie. Wednesday, April 22nd is National Dance Day so bust out your dancing shoes and start moving!

Dancing is an art form. It has been around since the beginning of time and has many different purposes throughout history. It's original purpose was as a method of storytelling. People would use different movements to represent different words. It allowed stories to be passed down to generations before there was any kind of written language. This tradition is still carried on through the Hawaiian form of dancing called hula dancing. Each hand movement represents a word and the dance as a whole tells a story to the audience.

There are so many different styles of dance that even if your career is in dance, it would be very hard to master each one, so usually dancers have a specialty dance style that they spend most of their time working on. Some of the major forms of dancing include: ballroom, ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, modern, swing, country and western, belly dance, flamenco, Latin, and folk dancing, to name a few. All of those styles originated from different parts of the world and when you see each type performed the culture comes out.

A few years ago, a man by the name of Judson Laipply performed a dance routine called the "Evolution of Dance". It spread across the internet in weeks and has millions of views on YouTube. In the dance Judson shows the more modern side of dancing, spanning over the last century or so. From disco to hip-hop and pop to interpretive, he shows it all in a hilarious compilation of dances and songs throughout the ages.

One of my favorite shows to watch during the summer is called “So You Think You Can Dance” and it is just filled with talented dancers.  It’s kind of like American Idol for dancing.  The show incorporates a bunch of dance styles from hip-hop to ballroom to interpretive dance to Broadway.  Each contestant gets a partner each week and they do a dance with them as well as a solo dance.  All of the dancers are so talented but obviously only one contestant can win in the end.  My friend and I always tape the shows and watch our favorite dances over because some of them are just extraordinary. 

If I had the chance, I would definitely take dance lessons and try to become a phenomenal dancer, but I feel like those really talented dancers start when they are about three years old – so that’s a few more years of experience that I am behind on.  I have a few friends who are dancers and it is so much fun to go to their performances and watch them dance.  When you know the performer you can really see the passion they have when they dance and how happy it makes them to share their hard work with others. 

Dancing is a way we express ourselves, so get out there and dance like no one is watching!

Monday, April 13

National High Five Day

High fives are quite possibly the most well-known and most ridiculed form of physical human contact.  Although brief, they symbolize so much more than a job well done. As defined by Wikipedia: A high five is a celebratory gesture made by two people, each raising one hand to slap the raised hand of the other — usually meant to communicate mutual satisfaction to spectators or to extend congratulations from one person to another. It is hard to imagine that someone actually invented the high five because it is such a well known gesture in our culture today. There are many stories claiming to be the origin of this brilliant gesture, but none of them are actually proven to be true. So if you hear one of these stories take it for what it's worth and decide for yourself if you believe it.

 Since its invention, the high five has developed many different forms along the years. Wired magazine did an awesome article on perfecting your high five form of choice.

Everyone knows the classic high five:

1. Always initiate. He who launches the high five owns the high five. Engageyour upper-arm muscles, keep your wrist firm, and propel your hand like the
meteor of awesome it is. (Maintain altitude and an open hand — this ain't no
fist bump.) Your high-five can only surrender.
2. Don't look at the hand.
That looming palm is a moving, unpredictable target. Instead, keep your eye on
the elbow; that'll automatically line up your mitts.
3. Cup your palm. As you reach the high point of the arc, make your hand slightly concave to create that satisfying thunderclap.

Then there is the "Todd": 

Is your hero the misunderstood, hypersexual surgeon on Scrubs? Divert attention
from pending sex-harassment suits by courting favor with coworkers. Snip the
sleeves off your shirt and give 'em some skin!

1. If your mark is reluctant, play the pity card, imploring him to "show the [your name here] some love."2. Now hit his hand as hard as you can. You should hear a whip-crack.
3. Snap your fingers.

The Top Gun:
Is your ego writing checks your body can't cash? You and your wingman require a
sick move to show up those who don't feel the need for speed.

1. Initiate the classic move (impact at 12 o'clock), but make contact with only the outside
edge of your hands.2. Move your bogies past one another's and arc downward 180 degrees to slap a low five  in the 6 o'clock position.
3. Howl, as if at the moon.

The 21 Jump Street:Sure, your crack team never lets the captain down, but how do you show you've got each other's backs? Why, a multi-man high five, of course. There's no actual slap here, but your crew does things its own way.
1. Stand in a circle and extend your right hands into the middle.
2. Wiggle your fingers while moving your hands upward in unison.
3. At the peak, form your hands into pistols and fire into the air.

And those are just a few of the crazy ones. You also have the more well-known low five, air five, very high five, and the prank style high five "too slow".

Whichever style of high-five you chose, celebrate High Five Day with an abnormal amount of high fiving throughout your day.  It will make you and everyone you come in contact with happier than you would think!

National Stress Awareness Day

Stress.  Everyone has it.  Stress definitely has a negative connotation, but in reality we all need stress to keep us alive and functioning.  National Stress Awareness Day was strategically placed on April 16th, the day after taxes are due.  It is designed to be a day to acknowledge the things that cause you stress in your life and to begin to make strides in getting those stresses under control.  

I think this is a perfect time to try to take control of the stresses in my life because it's the time in the semester when all of my exams are done, except for finals.  I can finally take a breath and start to prepare for the things ahead.  

It is really important to learn what things cause stress in your life and how to control those things before they become too overwhelming to bear.  For example, I know that tests really stress me out.  So when I know I have a test coming up, I make sure I prepare really well for it as to not tip my pre-test stress scale.  That way, when it comes time to actually take the test, I feel under control and prepared, rather than panicked.  

Stress is your body's way of rising to a challenging situation--also called your fight or flight response.  It is an involuntary reaction in our body that has been around since mankind was born.  It was used back in caveman days when a man came face-to-face with a predator he could either fight and kill it for food, or he could exercise his flight reaction and run.  When a stressor has an effect on us like this, our body produces chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol, which increases our blood pressure and heightens our senses.  When these chemicals are released for an extended period of time, stress can become very overwhelming.

That is why it is imperative to recognize when your body is feeling stressed and take control of it before it takes control of you. Here are some tips on how to relieve stress:

  • Don't over schedule; it's ok to have a full schedule but don't pile so much on your plate that you can't give each thing a fair amount of time.
  • Be realistic; it is only going to stress you out more if you make a goal to accomplish twice as much as is humanly possible in a day.
  • SLEEP!  We all love sleep; college students and adults alike, but for some reason sleep is the first thing to be put on hold when we are going through stressful times.  Your body needs at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night to rest and get ready for the following day, so instead of staying up late to finish a project, try to going to bed early and waking up earlier in the morning to get a head start to your day.
  • Take time to relax.  Whether it is a 20 minute power nap or just sitting down to read a magazine or watch some television, give your body a break periodically throughout your day and really try to take some deep breaths and chill out for a few minutes.
  • Take things one step at a time.  Attack big projects little-by-little with small breaks intermittently to reward yourself.  This way you will feel like you have accomplished something and when it comes time for the big project to be completed, you won't be overwhelmed with work.
  • Smile :) Having a positive attitude toward things will really improve your overall well-being along with your mood.  Smiling and laughing are also natural stress relievers, so make sure you do something to make you smile or talk to someone who makes you laugh everyday!

Friday, April 10

National D.A.R.E. Day

Thursday is National D.A.R.E. day.  If you went through the public school system you probably know what D.A.R.E. is, but if not, it stands for Drug Awareness Resistance Education.  It is a program put on by police officers to educate children in elementary school about drugs and violence.  I remember really enjoying the program as a kid and some things that went on during that time still stick with me now.

D.A.R.E. began in 1983 in Los Angeles and is now an active part of 75 percent of the school districts in the nation and over 43 countries in the world.  The program involves classroom activities taught by trained police officers.  They teach students how to act in uncomfortable situations involving violence and drugs, and they teach about the facts of drugs as well.  Some of the main goals of the program are:

·  D.A.R.E. "humanizes" the police: that is, young people can begin to relate to officers as people

·  D.A.R.E. permits students to see officers in a helping role, not just an enforcement role

·  D.A.R.E. opens lines of communication between law enforcement and youth

·  D.A.R.E. Officers can serve as conduits to provide information beyond drug-related topics

·  D.A.R.E. opens dialogue between the school, police, and parents to deal with other issues


I went through the D.A.R.E. program from kindergarten until 6th grade and I found it to be a pretty fun and rewarding experience.  The officers who came to talk to us made it fun and passed around a stuffed lion that one person got to hold onto for the whole time each week they talked.  They did activities with us such as acting out situations and doing activity pages in a workbook. 

At the end of the program we had a D.A.R.E. graduation, complete with a poster competition and a story contest.  We sang a song that I still remember to this day: “D. I won’t do drugs, A. won’t have an attitude, R. I will respect myself, E. I will educate me now”. 

I think programs like this are really important to put on for young kids because it causes them to think about situations that they may not think about otherwise.  For kids who don’t grow up in a city atmosphere, they may never be exposed to drugs until one day way later in life and they wouldn’t know how to handle it properly without some previous practice.  You don’t perform a speech without practicing first, so why would you go out into the real life without practicing how to handle potentially dangerous real-life situations? 

It is really that there are officers willing to do this important job because this can be a difficult topic for parents to approach.  The officers do it in a professional manner that informs kids about all the things they need to know, without being overpowering and drilling hardcore drug facts into their heads.  The program mixes fun and learning to make a great balance for kids that need a good base at an impressionable age.  I am really glad I was able to experience this program and I hope it is still around when I have children of my own.

National Siblings Day

My sister Emilie is such an inspiration to me. Ever since she was born she has made an impact on my life. I remember when I was about 6 and my mom told me I was going to have a little sister and I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I would have to share my toys, play with her, and share my parents’ attention, and as a 6 year old that’s a big deal. However, after the initial shock, I learned to do all of those things and more. Watching my sister grow up has been an eye opening experience for me and in honor of National Siblings day; I am going to share with you some of the reasons why.

My sister has always been a sincere and honest person. Growing up she was just a whirlwind of energy and she always let people know if she liked their outfit or if they had a nice smile. She has also always been a very happy person overall. I don’t remember very many times when she has been truly angry or unhappy for an extended period of time. Most of the time she has a smile on her face and she is either singing or laughing.

Emilie also has the ability to enjoy whatever she is doing. When she was little, she would play with her dolls or more often her stuffed animals and she would be more than content just playing with them on her own. I also joined in with her occasionally and shared the fun, but even if I was busy doing homework or something she would have fun anyway. She has a great imagination and it really allows her to be open minded in a lot of different ways.

My sister hardly ever speaks badly about another person. Even if she encounters a person who is not being very nice, she will see the positives in them and give them a chance to redeem themselves in her mind. She is really generous and caring towards everyone she meets and really kind to animals. Emilie can’t see a puppy without wanting to pet it and she loves our dog Sophie more than anything. I think she would bring her with her everywhere she went if she could.

As my sister and I grow older, I realize more and more just how much she means to me and how important it is to me to have her in my life. My sister is someone who I can talk to and someone who will be there for me for my whole life. Even though our 6 year age difference seemed like a big one when we were young kids, as both of us mature we are constantly developing a deeper understanding of each other and that is something I will cherish for my entire life.

Monday, March 30

Walk Around Things Day

Many of us spend our days avoiding situations and things in our lives that we don’t really like to deal with.  However, many of these things are impossible to ignore and end up popping into our heads even if we don’t physically encounter them.  All of us know how it goes when you try so hard to get something out of your head but it ends up being all you can think about.  Today on “Walk Around Things Day”, you can spend all the time you want avoiding those unavoidable things in your life. 

One of the most often avoided entities is work; school-work, home-work, work-work.  All of us spend our days trying to get by and do anything but work.  We go on Facebook and tell people about how much work we have to do, we complain to coworkers about how our boss piled so much work on us this week that we have no idea how it is physically possible to get it all done, we do anything to not actually sit there and do the work we’re talking so much about.  (The thing we don’t actually realize is that if we talked a lot less about the work and just did it, it would be done before we were done complaining about it.)

However, in honor of this celebratory day, here are some ways to avoid doing your ‘whatever’work:

1)      Solitaire.  There are multiple kinds of solitaire any even different ways to play it.  You can play the computer version of regular solitaire with a 1-card flip or 3-card flip at the beginning or spider solitaire (the kind where you only match up cards of the same color).  If you are so inclined you can bust out some real playing cards and play regular solitaire (with one or three-card flip, of course) or you can play “handheld” solitaire which has different rules but is very convenient for small spaces and quick cleanup.  That’s six different ways to play a solo card game.

2)      Social-networking.  With social networking on the rise, there are many options to choose from when it comes to keeping up with your friends.  The most popular among college students is definitely Facebook.  With the picture uploading capabilities and the extremely entertaining applications such as “Bumper Stickers”, there are endless distractions.  As long as they stop changing the layout every 2 months it will probably stay popular for a while.  MySpace is still around, too, but it is definitely more music-based now.  Twitter is a site that uses only short updates to keep people in-tune to their friends’ lives.  People can send in updates via text, mobile web or on the site itself so people can know what they are doing every step of the way (such as what they are doing instead of their work).

3)      Making lists.  Lists can be very productive things, but when it comes to making lists about what you have to do on a given day, there is nothing that is a bigger waste of time.  By the time you’re done writing out your list and making little boxes next to each item so you can check them off later, you could have had 5 of those things done. 

So on this day of avoidance; focus on doing some things that would normally be considered a “waste of time”.  Today it’s all about procrastination and evasion.