Am I Good Enough?

It can be said for more than just writing. I am trying to let go of that “am I good enough writer” question…

Visitant

Am I Good Enough

I was speaking at a local high school about writing. Afterward, a girl came up to me with a notebook of handwritten poems. She showed them to me shyly and asked,

“Are they good enough?”

I didn’t need to read them to know that they were good enough. She was fifteen. She had a dream. While her friends were playing violent video games and getting pregnant, she was writing poetry. That’s good enough for me.

“They are wonderful,” I said.

I am not sure we were talking about the same thing.

It’s a big question for a writer: am I good enough?

Am I good enough to get published? To get reviewed? To win an award? To make money? To come out in hardcover? To move people to tears? To win the respect of my older brother who said I would never make it?

I advise English majors. Every so…

View original post 449 more words

Aside

All good things

Today, as class was winding down and we were all about to head out for our adventurous Iowa weekends, my teacher made a request that I think should be more frequented among all of us. He said to us, “Have a good weekend! Be kind, be considerate. Welcome strangers and friends.” Wise, wise words from Bob Mesle.

http://www.the-numbers.com/movie/All-Good-Things

It’s true what they say, that a teacher can change your life. Bob’s wife, Barbara, has been a kind, caring, honest friend to me throughout my college experience, and Bob has been that guidance for a dear friend of mine. The compassion and kindness that the Mesles have for all things truly inspires me to live in love.

And I don’t mean to be in love, romantically, although I believe they would agree that is one beautiful experience that cannot be explained truthfully enough through words. What I mean by living in love is to do all things with love in your heart and at the core of how you treat the world. Notice I didn’t say “of how you treat other people”, because life is so much bigger than just the human experience.

As I mentioned in my first post, my thoughts and philosophies have been making great changes since I have been in college, and Barbara is one of my major positive influences. In each of her classes she requires her students to journal throughout the week, and through many classes, journals, e-mails, and discussions, she has been a reflection of the importance of being a good person.

Maybe I’m one of those millennials who think my generation has some issues, but I can’t rag on us too hard behttp://www.treehugger.com/culture/new-york-loves-earth-day.htmlcause I think we’re doing alright with what we’ve been given. We’re trying. But if I could give one suggestion to make a better humanity it would be this: be kind, be considerate, be grateful. All good things. Good things come from good things. So if we live our lives waking up every morning and making the decision to be kind and considerate to our surroundings, we would be happier individuals and we would be a happier world.

You’ve had road rage before, right? Especially as a young driver I would yell at the cars that weren’t driving as fast as I wanted them to or curse the traffic-light gods after hitting my twelfth red light in a row. Anger produces anger. Have you ever noticed that if you’re angry enough, you just want to stay angry for a while? It’s like a disease, once you start your day pissed of at the world, bad things will happen. It’s the law of attraction.

So let’s start small by making today better right now. Focus on good thoughts. Energy is real. What you put into the world makes a bigger difference than you think. That guy behind the counter at GeekSquad who is working his ass off to help every customer quickly and with a smile, he is doing everything he can to provide a good experience for you. You may become angry and inconsiderate. Instead of getting impatient, complaining to him about your wait, being rude and throwing your stuff around, try bringing yourself back to reality.The reality is that he is doing what he can. The reality is that you are going to wait whether it takes five minutes or thirty minutes. The reality is that getting angry and impatient does not, contrary to popular belief, speed up the GeekSquad guy. You do not get out of the store any quicker by being angry– in fact it makes the whole process seem a lot more tedious and painful than it really should be.

Go ahead and be kind, considerate, and grateful for all good things. The simple fact that you even have a device to take to GeekSquad, or a car to hit all the red lights in, is something to be grateful for. Appreciate your life, because it’s all you’ve got. It could be worse.

https://www.facebook.com/onesparkcanstartafire

Peace, and all good things.
Have a good weekend, be kind, be considerate, welcome strangers and friends.

Thursday thoughts

image

Find your meditation and practice it.

You only need about 20 minutes a day to start feeling better through meditation. Try it out today! Take some time to reflect on balancing your mind, body, and spirit. It sounds so cliche but that’s because all of us who do it are serious about sharing this wonderful experience with all of you. 🙂

How to:
1. Pick a spot. Find a calming, clean space you can regularly use for meditation
2. Set a time. Set aside time each day to focus yourself. 20 minutes a day is a good routine, but it may seem long at first. Start with 10 minutes and gradually increase your time each week. It’s great for a morning routine. It helps wake you up, focus your energy, and prepare balance for your day. You’ll face the day feeling good already!
3. Sit comfortably. Make yourself comfortable to avoid being distracted by your posture, clothing, pillow, etc. Avoid lying down, it causes a state of sleepiness that is not ideal for meditation. You don’t have to contort your legs into flexible yoga poses, but make sure your back is straight, your body is square, and you are balanced. Keep your head up. If it’s more comfortable, you can start in a chair, or sitting against a wall.
4. Focus on your breath. In and out. When you first begin practicing meditation (because that’s what it is- practice), try to simply focus on your BEING. Your constant, rhythmic breaths are a good reminder that you are here in this moment.
5. Meditation doesn’t just have to be sitting down in a quiet room with your eyes closed trying to clear your mind of thoughts that just don’t go away. Meditate on a walk, meditate looking at the stars, meditate doing the dishes. Meditation calls for a focus on the here and now, the connection between your physical body and your mental location. Try and match them up and you’ll open a whole new bundle of happiness and good energy.

image
(http://roohowaryoga.com/tag/meditation-quotes/)

Peace and good vibes!
Happy happy Thursday

Organic: The Superhero

“Organic is something we can all partake of and benefit from. When we demand organic, we are demanding poison-free food. We are demanding clean air. We are demanding pure, fresh water.” -Maria Rodale

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pepperseggplants.jpg

Organic vegetables at a farmer’s market in Argentina

I would rather eat eggs all different shades of speckled-brown from chickens that wander around the yard all day and eat a bug or two. They are SO much better than the eggs you get from the grocery store! I live in a rural area, so it’s easy for me to get ahold of locally grown, organic foods, but you can find them in almost any area!

Organic food is better for insects, animals, humans and the environment. With all that good, organic is the newest popular superhero.

web-large-size3

A farmer at Kansas City’s farmer’s market trades produce

Google definition:
or·gan·ic/ ôrˈganik/ adj.
1.of, relating to, or derived from living matter.
“organic soils”
synonyms: living, live, animate, biological, biotic 
2. of, relating to, or denoting compounds containing carbon… produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
synonyms: pesticide-free, additive-free, natural

So, the idea of organic is truly fantastic.

The Good:
1. Organic food is grown without the use of synthesized fertilizers or pesticides
– Some studies show that children and fetuses may be harmed by even a tiny amount of pesticides
2. Synthetic pesticides are chemicals that are designed to kill or keep pests away
– The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes that these pesticides may harmfully affect the nervous system, the hormone or endocrine system, may irritate the skin or eyes, or may be even be carcinogens (directly linked to cause cancer). Organic food is not grown with the use of these harmful chemicals, but instead is grown using pesticides made from natural sources (biological pesticides). Washing produce does not rid it of the pesticides, however, it does remove foodborne-illness pathogens, so don’t skip that step!
3. Like humans adapt to the flu virus, pests may adapt to pesticides
– Conventional farming is NOT sustainable. Pests may develop and immunity to the chemicals, causing a development of stronger chemicals that are more harmful to animals, people, and the soil. Also, because conventional farming is less expensive than the organic alternative, it is keeping organic from becoming more easily affordable. Organic farming uses natural methods to get rid of unwanted pests.
4. Organic isn’t limited to food!
– Sustainability is one of those things that’s just hard to hate. Organic pesticides and products are better for the environment! They can be used for more than just produce or meatf! For you ladies who want natural beauty products, these 4 makeup brands are certified organic by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture). It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the USDA only certifies products if they are made with agricultural resources. I know Sephora advertises natural and organic products, but I am not sure of the validity of that. If you love Sephora, as most women I know do, make sure to ask next time you stop in!

simplegetfile.gif This is the seal you will see if the USDA has certified a product organic.

Organic.org does a good job describing the differences between different types of organic. The labeling can be tricky or misleading, but they have tried to sort out the differences for consumers. Here are the three most commonly used/ confused labels:

  • Something that is 100% organic is made with 100% organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). These foods may be labeled with the USDA organic seal.
  • Organic foods contain 95%-99% organic ingredients by weight, and the remaining ingredients have been approved by the NOP. These foods may be labeled with the USDA organic seal.
  • Foods labeled Made with Organic Ingredients are made with 70%-94% organic ingredients. These products will not be labeled with the organic seal, but may list up to three organic ingredients on the front of the package.

The USDA has a blog, and in 2012 they had a series called “Organic 101”, in which their efforts were directed at clarifying some of the organic food dialog. requires that farmers and handlers document their processes and the processes are observed from everything to the “seed sources, soil conditions, crop health, weed and pest management, water systems, inputs, contamination and commingling risks and prevention, and record-keeping”

BUT WATCH OUT!

The Misleading:
1. “Organic” doesn’t mean “local”
– People sometimes use these words interchangeably. Some organic food travels overseas to reach you in your local health market or grocery store. Choosing local is good because the goods are fresh, you are supporting your community, and you can check out where you are getting your food and goods.
2. The USDA does not regulate seafood
– Because seafood is, well, seafood, it’s difficult to regulate what the animals are consuming (see my last post). Be wary if you see seafood packaged or labeled as organic- there is no real way to tell that it is.

http://thecitymarket.org/gallery/photo

Kansas City Farmers’ Market

3. Being organic doesn’t make something a “superfood”
– America’s recent health kick has included a lot of talk about superfoods, but while organic food has many benefits over conventional food, that doesn’t mean it’s probably going to boost your immune system greatly, or help your heart health.  However, reducing your intake of pesticides and chemical fertilizer is a healthy decision.
4. Organic animals do not receive antibiotics
– “Organic practices prohibit the use of hormones, antibiotics… If an antibiotic is used to restore an animal to health, that animal cannot be used for organic production or be sold, labeled or represented as organic.” I feel like, what if the cow was sick and they didn’t know it or didn’t do anything about it because they can’t give them antibiotics? That’s probably not good meat for us to be eating. The Organic Trade Association has compiled a group of studies done by doctors, scientists, and researchers on the use of antibiotics on animals and how it is harmful when transfered to humans.

http://thecitymarket.org/gallery/photo

The entrance to the farmers’ market in my city, which I adore. Kansas City, MO

—–> Just because a food isn’t labeled “organic” doesn’t mean it isn’t organic
– The problem with the system of identifying organic products is that it’s not an easy process; It takes a few years and thousands of dollars. Many small farms or agricultural business do not have the funds to be certified organic. Another perk of buying locally: you can ask! Or even go see for yourself if they are willing to let you take a peek!

Food For Thought: If everybody in the world chose to eat only organic meat, it may be difficult for agriculturalists to keep a large enough yield of organic feed. However, if the population as a whole began eating less meat, we could yield an abundance of organic foods, also making them more convenient and affordable for a greater number of people.

Help this superhero keep you healthy: buy organic!

Peace and happy organic eating!

The ocean is not your garbage can

“The world does use the ocean as its toilet, and then expects that toilet to feed it,”  M. Sanjayan

htttp://becausewater.org/

Good point! Ever think of that? “Fish supply the greatest percentage of the world’s protein consumed by humans (24) and more than 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean for their primary source of food. In 20 years, this number could double to 7 billion (42)”.

To begin, I would like for everyone to be in agreement that littering is bad. It causes sanitary issues, it’s dangerous for animals, not to mention it’s an eyesore.

So then why do we let so much waste contribute to what we feed ourselves? 80% of water pollution comes from land waste (27). We can literally help the entire world if we stop letting trash, plastics, and chemicals enter our oceans.

You can see how this is becoming a problem.

Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific garbage patch is a giant blob of garbage that’s in a vortex-like movement in the central North Pacific Ocean. I found this picture a couple years ago when my brother first told me about it, and I think it depicts a sort of sadness that’s so real and easy to blame on carelessness.

The garbage patches in our oceans are a secret to many, probably because much of the pollution is not visible from a boat dock. Plastics break down and their dangerous chemicals often lurk just beneath the surface of water, making it tough to calculate the exact size of the problem areas.

The Ocean Conservancy hosts an International Costal Cleanup each year, and not only do they take the time to pick up the trash, they also count it. Here are a couple visuals on what they found in 2012:

TopTenItems_2013_Dever_RevisedLF             Print

Gross. Cigarettes? And so much plastic that can be eliminated easily by using reusable products such as water bottles and bags!!

The thing is, this isn’t something you can brush off because “it doesn’t affect me”. It affects the entire world! Because most of us eat food that comes from the ocean, we are consuming the same harmful chemicals and plastics that marine life consume deliberately or by accident.

One obvious, macroscopic trouble with the garbage in the ocean is that the waste is making the search for the missing Malaysia Flight 370 more difficult. It’s difficult to distinguish, especially from satellite footage, what is airplane and what is massive trash pile.

“It’s like looking for a needle in a needle factory” says Conservation International senior scientist M. Sanjayan on the difficulty of finding the aircraft in the ocean.

Over a third of the world’s population of 7 billion live within 60 miles of an ocean, increasing the chances of their waste finding its way to the oceans.

Print    It’s easy for a seemingly small contribution to make such an influence on marine life, but they often mistake the plastics for food and often times don’t even know they are ingesting the harmful chemicals and broken down plastics that end up harmful to their bodies.

What can you do?

  1. Put a lid on trash cans to prevent wind or animals from spreading waste.
  2. Use a reusable water bottle instead of plastic bottles of water.
  3. Place cigarette butts in an ashtray to avoid them from littering land and water
  4. Get talking! Because not everyone lives near an ocean, it may be easy for the effects to be out of sight out of mind to some people. Remind people that littering not only looks bad, but it eventually comes back to effect them negatively too.
  5. Sustainability is about using less processed materials; take re-used or re-usable canvas bags when you go to the grocery store. They are more convenient for you in the end anyway! Nobody likes those sticky plastic bags (especially the kids at the grocery store bagging your groceries– trust me, I used to be one of those kids; those bags suck!)
  6. Recycle. Take the time to separate items that can be recycled, such as plastics, glass, and cardboard. Some places will give you money in exchange for cans, but if not, it at least saves room for real garbage in your garbage cans. I always thought putting plastic bottles in the trash can took up way too much room.

Also check out BeCause Water, an organized movement for water sustainability.

Peace and clean water.

Drink, drink, drink

https://amackblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/images-4.jpeg                    HughTurvey_Xograms_655_LONDON-OXO-EXHIBITION-2014__0000-feat-v2

Let’s talk about some good ol’ H2O.

When I was a child, I thought drinking water was strange. It didn’t taste delicious and it came from the pipes that ran through the ground under me and my brothers swing-set.

I started to get really dehydrated and it would cause problems like give me frequent headaches, or sometimes even cause me to faint.

Finally, I started liking water. I spent money on a nice, new water bottle and tried to finish it every few hours. I began drinking warm lemon water in the morning, and I started feeling better, more energized, more awake and I wasn’t fainting anymore. So, for the next few years I was all about hydrate-hydrate-hydrate.

5 Reasons You Should be Drinking Lemon Water in the Morning

Then I came to college in a teeny tiny town in Iowa where the shower water feels like chlorine and the drinking water tastes like dirt. Great.

Being an athlete, especially during preseason training in the dog days of summer, it is crucial that I am taking in enough water before, during and after exercising. The problem was: it’s tough to drink a lot of water when the water tastes like dirt. Or sometimes chlorine. Or sometimes metal.

So, I stopped drinking so much water. During my freshman year living in the dorms I started to notice things like that the headaches coming back, I was more fatigued than usual, and my skin wasn’t as healthy as it once was. Once I moved into my own apartment, one of the first things I invested in was a water filter and I love it.

Target sells this ZeroWater pitcher water filter on their website.

A well known fact, our bodies average to be made up of 50-70% water. The Earth is about 70% water. Water.is.important. Here are some reasons why:

1. You can only survive days without it
The human body will only last 3-6 days without water
2. Water helps to regulate blood pressure
Because blood is on average 92% water, dehydration causes thicker blood which makes it more difficult to pass through the body, therefore elevating the pressure of the blood.
3. Dehydration causes fatigue. Water is energy!
4. Water helps prevent constipation
I know– gross. But water helps to provide fluids for some necessary bodily functions
5. Water improves muscle health
Muscles are made up of about 75% water, so staying hydrated improves muscle strength, control, and flexibility.
6. Lemon water helps boost the immune system
Drinking warm water with lemon in the morning gets you started on your day with a punch of Vitamin C and potassium.
7. Water is good for your brain
“Drinking 3 cups of water before completing a task can increase the brain’s reaction time by 14%”

Here is a wonderful, quick visual about how water affects our bodies

IF YOU ARE THIRSTY you are already dehydrated. Be proactive! Stay healthy and drink *clean water often 🙂

Live well. Drink more water.
Peace

P.S. Hammer-Hydrate! Drinking water is especially important when consuming alcohol. A good standard to set yourself is to have a 1:1 ratio. I like to try and drink a cup of water after I finish each alcoholic beverage.

This company does laboratory testing on the cleanliness of water samples

Picking Up the Positive

Image

Happy Ash Wednesday to all those celebrating today!!

I am not Christian or Catholic, so my faith does not ask that I participate in giving up something “bad” for the Lenten season. My boyfriend, however, participates in Catholic tradition and has decided to give up something for good reason. I mentioned to him that while he is giving up this aspect of his life for 46 days he should replace it with something else so it could be a more permanent and progressive experience. In support of his decision, I have decided to participate too.

I suppose I could exile caffeine but I hear it’s good to make it to class and to finish your homework. I could stop the beverages and such but I don’t see them as negative if they are used responsibly. I thought about trying to stop cracking knuckles so much but I’ve tried that before and failed so many times.

What I have decided to do is to pick up a positive action for the next 40 days, hoping it will create a transition into habit.

I am going to write. Every day, for fifteen minutes a day, I will write. I will blog, I will journal, I will work on my creative writing senior project, I will send letters, I will make lists, I will put to use the stationary sets I get from my aunt for my birthday ever year.

My goal from this is to make writing more natural and more convenient for me. I hope that from it I will generate ideas for particular pieces of writing and that I will expand my writing avenues.

It is good for the mind to read and write.

Studies show that reading a novel improves brain connectivity. The more we read, the better alert our brains are at processing information through changes (as we grow older, our bodies and our societies change– reading helps keep us on our toes).

Writing helps too. Slightly different from reading, writing engages our minds to not only analyze and imagine scenarios in our minds, but we must first create those situations as opposed to accepting them as a narrative reality. Baby boomer neuropsychologist Jenni Odgen, and writer of both fiction and non-fiction, is “convinced that creative writing is one of the best exercises for the aging brain.”

I believe that words are good for the soul. They help us to better communicate ideas and to better analyze the words of others. If we were all effective communicators I believe the world would be a much happier place. I write not to be understood, but if my writing leads to understanding I have accomplished much.

Here I go, embarking on a 40-day writing journey. Join me! Pick up something positive and dedicate yourself to proving your willpower to yourself. It can be something small or something life-changing, but try and keep track every day so that you have a visual report of how AWESOME you are doing. 🙂 I will keep you updated with mine.

Happy positive-fying your life!

Live well.
Peace.