Hey Mom

In honor of Mother’s Day this past weekend, I would like to dedicate this post and this week to my incredible mother. Her family has always been her first priority and she almost seems perfect in her motherly ways. Her dedication to my family’s happiness is insurmountable, and for that she is my best friend.

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My mother knows almost everything about my life, and probably understands me better than I understand myself. She has always helped me explore my options when contemplating a decision and has guided me toward being capable of making good decisions for myself. I will always need her help because she will always understand what is best for me more than anybody else. Never has my mother pressured me to do anything less than wonderful for me, and never has she rejected a healthy pathway to my happiness.  Her desire is for her children to be happy and healthy and loved. My aspiration is for her to live a fulfilling life, and I know she is capable of such happiness, regardless of physical limitation.

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I would also like to dedicate my completed senior project to both of my parents, because they have always taught me to be good to others and to ooze goodness. For them, I am infinitely thankful.
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I love you ♡
Stay cool.

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An Earth-like planet found in distant solar system

I imagine that since the beginning of Earth’s time, whenever that was, people have wondered what other planet(s) did or could sustain life. Tonight when I was doing my daily browse through the Washington Post, I found that NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has discovered a planet in the habitable zone of a distant star.

This planet, Kepler-186f, is assumed to be able to hold liquid water (as opposed to ice or vapor) for 2 main reasons:
1. Kepler-186f is only 10 percent larger than the Earth, holding the record for the habitable exoplanet that is closest to the size of the Earth, and
2. In the habitable distance from its star, Kepler-186, seems to be close enough so that the planet is neither too hot nor too cold. This zone is referred to as the “Goldilocks zone”.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/04/17/kepler_186f_earth_sized_planet_in_the_habitable_zone.html

Depitction of Kepler-186f and its sister planets

Kepler-186 is about 500 light years away from the Earth, and a team of astronomers have discovered five other placers also orbiting this star.

Although the planet seems to be at a habitable temperature, it absorbs only one third of the stellar energy that the Earth receives from the sun, making it colder than Mars.

One part of this discovery that I have found particularly interesting is that it is possible this planet is tidal-locked, meaning it may not orbit it’s star in the same manner Earth does. As opposed to the rotation of the Earth which creates a day-night cycle, it is possible that the same side of the planet is always facing the sun. Life could still be sustainable on tidal-locked planet, but it would create a much different world and system that we are used to.

What do you think it would be like? To live on a planet like that? The calendar would have to be different and sleep may become evolutionary unnecessary like it is for humans on Earth.

The climate would be different, but what would it be like? What if it rained Nutella♡ hahaha.
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My boyfriend brought up the point that the dark side of the planet would not be able to sustain human life because Vitamin D is necessary for life. So what IF this planet really was habitable by humans? For some reason, which I can’t deem awful for helpful, Earth could use the planet for a sort of storage of plants and other resources.

Would we use it for the benefit of our species or our home planet, help it to create it’s own circle of life, or maybe leave it alone and let it run it’s course?  I’d like to hear what people think!  What do you think?

I hope that whatever we do as humans is in the best interest of Kepler-186f as well as for other environments. “For everything that lives is Holy” –> One Love (:

So, this is exciting, I think. There are many of Earth-like planets around, but now NASA is trying to find the closest one.

“Because the telescope can’t see exoplanets directly, astronomers use a technique called the transit method to infer their presence. The light intensity from a star will normally read as continuous and flat, but if a planet passes between the telescope’s field of view and that star, it will block some light and show up as a dip in the data.”

Because of this blip, study author and astronomer Elisa Quintana of the SETI Institute, thought this blip might contain something special. Her team when scoured one patch of the sky continuously for four years until Kepler-186f was discovered.

This transit method that is used to find bumps in data would make it tough to even find Earth from afar, because it requires the planet “to be aligned edge-wise along the observer’s line of sight, passing between the observer and the star”. Therefore, many of these planets may exist but remain undetected.

I believe completely that there are other planets that can sustain some type of life as intelligent and capable as humans. Maybe some even do already and we just haven’t found them, but I’m interested for science and this study to continue!

One Love (:

Boobs need government too: why Kansas City is making changes

Once again, I love my city.

http://www.togetherkc.com/about/about-sly-james/

Photo of Mayor James

Kansas City’s mayor, Sly James, is making major improvements to the city by creating government representation more suitable for women. WE HAVE BOOBS. WE ARE GOVERNMENT. WE WANT JOBS. The Women’s Empowerment initiative is designed to increase the number of jobs and high-ranking municipal government positions for women.

“I spend half of my life in meetings,” he said. “And often there’s no women in those meetings.” Yet, as he points out, women make up 51 percent of the population and are now graduating from college at a higher rate than men. Women are a resource for government and business that should not be overlooked. He hasn’t in his office. “Eight of 12 of my staff members are women,” he said. “We look for the best person for the job and wow, guess what, they’re women.”

The initiative is a result of “collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, Central Exchange, Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and UMKC’s Women’s Center” over a series of months.

Its 2 main goals are to:
1. To create an inclusive, diverse, organization &
2.
To improve entrepreneurial women-owned business processes

http://kcmayor.org/we  In December of 2013, the Pew Research Center released a study suggesting that about 75% of women have pessimistic views regarding gender equality in the workplace. “The study finds that women under 32 now make 93 percent of what young men earn, aided by women’s higher rates of college completion. But the analysis of census and labor data also shows the gender pay gap will widen for women by their mid-30s, if the experience of the past three decades is a guide.”

Realistically, one reason for this pay-gap is accounted for in the amount of time women take off of work to start families. And accounting for the progress women have made toward equality in the workplace and community, I’m sure Margaret Fuller would be proud of women’s opportunities today. But, we’ve still got work to do.

“‘The report shows that we have made substantial progress on gender equality in the workplace,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University. “But our progress has shown us more clearly what still needs to be accomplished.'”

After reading up on Kansas City’s initiative, I am becoming excited about the strides the city is taking to help support women in the community, workplace, and government. My favorite part of the initiative is a part of Goal #1: “foster an organizational culture that nurtures diversity of perspectives and experiences”.

Breaking this objective down into pieces, I first would like to point out that I appreciate the vocabulary that was chosen. To foster means to encourage and promote the development of, so this affirms that the city will positively work toward the development of change to gender equality in the work setting.

Organizational culture suggests that the project will include people whose collaborative behavior leads them toward a common goal. The idea that the project will nurture diversity targets women in particular, as we are beings who nurture by instinct. Focusing on a woman’s perspective and experiences will create a better balance in society by accounting for all circumstances that men may not consider when creating government policies.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/04/03/kansas-city-mayor-promotes-womens-empowerment-initiative/ Because us women make up such a significant part of our society, I think we should be more interactive in our government and policy making. Considering that each gender is not represented equally in government committees, this could- either by choice or by unfortunate luck- result in an entire system of inequality.

Identifying himself as a black man who grew up during the Civil Rights movement, Sly James feels like he closely identifies with people who have unequal rights. I think it’s fantastic that he shows the importance of equality by improving opportunities for people of a different demographic than himself. “I think I’m sensitive to discrimination and unequal opportunities because I’m a minority,” says James, who was named one of the five most innovative mayors in the country by Newsweek in 2012, exceeding expectations in entrepreneurial infrastructure.

Kansas City: revolutionizing details of our society in order to create a better world for everybody, breasts included!

Zen in Zum

I love my city. I have no resistance to becoming a nomad, or even just moving away, but I will always defend my beloved Kansas City.

The size of the city is small, relative to other states’ large cities, but it’s a perfect place to grow up and become emmersed into a diverse culture at a young age. We have skyscrapers and farmland, art districts and ghettos. We have some mildly successful sports teams and the best American-brewed beer I have ever had– maybe my opinion is biased, but you should try it for yourself. Boulevard Brewing Co is gaining popularity around the United States and is one of the KC-made companies that I am most excited about.

Whether beer is or is not your drink of choice, Indigo Wild products are products for everyone. A company based in Kansas City, Missouri, Indigo Wild merchandises natural, clean products called Zum. Made by a health-conscious staff who believes in the importance of holistic living, the products are made for every day use such as soaps, other bath and body products, household & cleaning products, lip balm, baby products, soy candles, etc.

1982347_10201955839039925_1699864740_nThese are some of my favorite Zums. The chap-stick is great, I think I have all the flavors! I like to use the Zum Rub for muscles after a tough soccer game- it works sort of like Icy-Hot but its all natural ingredients make it a softer alternative for your skin. The Zum Face is nice because it’s a scrub that really makes your skin feel fresh and clean after you use it. Also, it isn’t made with hundreds of tiny, plastic microbeads that don’t break down and get stuck in your pores and in the plumbing.

Did you know in Albany, New York, legislators are trying to ban microbeads? The tiny plastic beads that are supposed to help exfoliate skin don’t actually dissolve once they make their long, swirly journey through the pipes. The beads actually end up polluting water, feeding the fish, and eventually feeding us fish-eating humans.

Do away with using plastic and chemicals on your skin and start using Mother Nature!! I knew using these Zum products would be better for my body, but I was extra convinced when my boyfriend read the ingredients labels on everything I had and was surprisingly impressed with how honestly good the products are for your bodies (he is a science guy so he knows the difference).

All Zum products are vegetarian.
All Zum products are vegan except: Zum Bars (goat’s milk), Zum Kisses (honey) and Zum Rub (goat’s milk).
All Zum products are gluten free except: Zum Body lotions (oat bran extract) and Oatmeal-Lavender Zum Bar (oatmeal).
Rosemary extract is gluten free and contains soy

Why Goat’s Milk? It’s great for your skin and for nature

http://www.indigowild.com/who-we-are/what-were-made-of/dirty-words

A cloud of dirty words Zum products don’t use. Check the ingredients list on the products you use every day and STOP using them if they contain all this bad stuff

 

Thursday thoughts

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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.

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(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.

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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!