Been Gone for a While

staged artifacts

Hi! So clearly long time no post over here at HL. That’s because I have been working on a new project. My very own Etsy shop! It’s a little sparse and probably will be until we get more items together, but still it has been the perfect change of pace with this new non college life. Making things as opposed to writing around them I mean. But the best part is the shop has its very own blog. Read if you want on the thoughts and efforts behind store products and see if the little store grows into something worth reading about.

I’m looking at it as something creative to balance out the sterile cubicle life that is my 22 year old world.

More to come
-RV

Burgers and Beers

After months of searching high and low for somewhere to live that doesn’t feel like a bed bug’s paradise and without dodgy neighbors that stare ominously over the balcony as you walk into the building for the first time, we are closer to finding a place.

That’s not to say it was smooth sailing. The entire process felt like the scene from the recent Hunger Games when they are running through the woods and keep getting lit on fire, attacked by animals, and drowned by rain. Except real life booby traps come in the shape of grizzly plumbers. Needless to say the whole theory on landlords is officially valid.

See viewing number 2. It was the coolest area with brick streets lacking a lot of the original non-negotiables, but those have a way of being forgotten when there is a downtown view. Red flag #1, the door is wide open blowing in the wind upon entry. Red flag #2 A man’s voice upstairs echoes “the mold issue isn’t nearly as bad this time of the year.” and red flag #3 the neighbors door has a flag decorated with a naked woman on a pirate ship.

The place was the size of a closet and made the whole best view in town thing about as exciting as the closet sized bedrooms and the questionable nailed to the wall heating system. Rick the plumber was showing the place and didn’t say a word the entire time, besides the charming mold remark he just stared ominously like the balcony neighbors. Just when I would think I was alone to get a picture for the roommate I would see Rick’s wolf howling at the moon shirt out of the corner of my eye. The thought of that beard and t-shirt hanging around on a regular basis made me a little uneasy.

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animalworld.com

No thanks attic cellar apartment it wasn’t meant to be. As I snuck out of the house and start the car I get a text from Rick…”Burgers and beers if you’re still around?” The search was obviously going well.

Coping with a Rick:

1.Rick’s aren’t allowed to have access to your living space.

2. Burgers and beers would be fun if my name was Hank and we were going to a Reds game.

3. No response is probably the best response

While nothing screams first date quite like a burger and a beer, the Rick’s of the apartment hunting experience certainly add a little variety to otherwise lame apartments.

The 10 Workouts you Already Dominate

A friend of mine was talking about the fact that she was going to three different workout classes the other day for a total of three straight hours of activity. Besides the fact that she was able to find three straight hours to fill, I was dumbfounded as to why on earth someone would feel the need to inflict that kind of personal exhaustion for the time it takes Dexter to off 4-5 criminals. I realize that I am not one to talk being known to spend the majority of my time doing various active things, but that doesn’t mean I go spin for three hours straight (at least not yet).

Then I realized a lot of people around me were rattling off the 50 new awesome workouts they tried this week one of which being karaoke spinning…excuse me? Suddenly I felt like I had missed the memo. You hear every day about all of the workouts you need to start doing, how you aren’t doing enough to be active. Basically you can’t turn on the TV without being made to feel insecure about the freshly scooped ice cream you just busted out because supposedly everyone else is just constantly going on runs and all ‘sweat is weakness leaving the body’. I would say most people know where to draw the line between inducing a heart attack and glistening after the elliptical, but recently I have had my doubts. Basically my primary concern is that you and your working out are not turning to a microphone on a spin bike just like iPhone turned to selfies and filters; rather than pure exercise goodness. 

This little article is meant to highlight how you may be overlooking your already fit choices you are making without running 10 miles to feel validated.  So you may not be killing it in the gym every single day, but I can think of 10 pretty legitimate workouts that you do daily that go unaccredited because you aren’t wearing cool Nike swag, or eating colorful quinoa, or ready for the classic instawitter combo (that’s when you tweet and gram it at the same time fyi) when you do these things, and no one really cares unless its documented through 5 mediums of social networking right? 

10 Workouts you Already Dominate 

1. Walking…with your life on your back: Jobs, class, workouts, clubs whatever it is; usually demands at least a few extra articles of clothing and/or every textbook you own. Come Tuesday I usually have enough in my backpack to last me a week. 

2. Your life without a dishwasher: enough said. If you added the hours spent scrubbing with that ‘leaves your hands smelling like mold’ sponge, you may realize you just fulfilled a week of workouts. 

3. Logging on: I don’t know about you but I have at least 10 different email accounts for myself and jobs that I am forced to regularly check. Not to mention the 40 different sites that require a username and password. I have every variation of my dogs name and capital letter with an exclamation point you can imagine and remembering them is no walk in the park.

4. Scaling the climb to your front door: That super cute vintage gaslight apartment up on the hill located on the 5th floor that was the best idea you have ever had…probably not as awesome once you make it up 6 flights of stairs carrying that bag that has your life in it. 

5. Research Methods and Analytical Patterns (insert torturous class here): maintaining consciousness through 15 weeks of PowerPoint presentations without collapsing on the floor in a heap of boredom exhibits the endurance of a true champion.  

6. Brushing: your hair, teeth, the stains from last nights fun, only because a load of laundry costs $3 these days, whatever it is you brush you know how your arm burns after wrestling with the knot after mere minutes.

7. If you have ever tried to decipher how to operate a Clifton lock and key: the chances of you actually having the right key to the right lock are about as likely as the lock actually being installed right side up and clockwise.  They are a mental puzzle that even the brightest have failed to accomplish.

8. Carrying 30 bags of groceries simultaneously: similar to the brush workout. I’d like to see any of these new hip workouts make you feel as if your arm is literally going to rip off of your body. Combine this workout with #1 & #4 and you’re spring break ready. 

9. Getting clothes on for Friday night: 4 pairs of pants=20 burpees…and a strained hip. 

10. 9-12 hour part-time job shifts: everyone complains about their 9-5 and there are plenty of reasons as to why this happens, but I would say anyone working a part time job for more than 8 hours a day has every right to complain a little bit. Corporate professionals deal with meetings, ridiculous bosses, and monotonous days. The part-timers deal with this corporate person who is miserable after leaving their full time job and now they are hungry, miserable, angry, and their shoes are too small.  Dealing with the public provides a lifetime of tactical moves.  If you have ever powered through your full day at a part time job congrats you earned your workout. 

Did you get your workout in yet today?

-R

 

10 Things you Realize after Visiting Africa

Last spring I spent 2 weeks in Africa.  I didn’t go live in the jungle without electricity, nor did I help rehabilitate cities for an extended period of time. I wish I could confirm that I spent a year of my life giving back to a community that needs it. I went with a study abroad opportunity to learn about public health and how care is managed in this part of the world, more specifically Ghana.  While we didn’t volunteer our services, the information gained was incredibly eye-opening and perspective broadening. We focused on major diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.Throughout our stay we were able to travel to clinics,hospitals, and related organizations to meet with health and medical professionals (and tons more than I can fit in this little background shindig).

   

I have thought a lot about why I wanted to travel to Africa. I guess it wasn’t because I have always had some deep desire to fix the world and save lives. I can’t even say that I went because I wanted to help the children (please don’t get me wrong here! I would have loved to help and volunteer at a site, but it was a general public health trip). I think I went because I needed to see it first hand. To understand why and how a region on the same planet with the same people could live in such an entirely different situation.  I needed to see the poverty, abundance, and infrastructure (or lack thereof) to grasp how I felt about it all. You see the commercials and hear heart warming tales of how someone came to aid and lives were changed. But then that someone leave to go home, the money runs out, and then what? What happens in the day to day? Does the help make a difference, or enhance the problem? I wanted to face the big health issues from the ground level and try to imagine some shred of a possible solution.

It was hard while there to face the blaring possibility that there is no single quick fix. We think the answer is a vaccine, or volunteers, or money.  While all of those are positive steps in the right direction the issues go much deeper than that.  There are deeply rooted variances in thought processes that hinder a mindset towards universal problem solving.  When it comes to health there is no single answer, but more so a lifestyle shift that must occur.  Lifestyles and societal norms must be addressed. You can sit all day and consider every “if-then” scenario and wind up not having arrived at a conclusion, but opened one hundred more doors towards problems that must be overcome.  When people as me why Africa I really can only say “to know what things are really like.” Here are a few things I learned as a college student in Africa.  They aren’t necessarily understandings that tackle the big ideas, but simply are lessons that matter to a 20 something looking for answers.

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10 things you realize after visiting Africa in college

 1. Value your health: health is something denied to many and is not a guarantee. While finding time

to go to the doctor can seem like the worlds most inconvenient and bank account draining burden we need to remember that we live in a culture where even the grocery store has a clinic. We can literally go buy break-n-bake cookies and then go get a check up.  In most of Ghana there are only about 1.5 doctors per 100,000 people.  It is easy to forget what a luxury it is that we have the information available at the mere tap of an iPhone or trip to Kroger.

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2. Having options is not a burden: I was honestly stressed out yesterday because three of my favorite yoga classes are now scheduled at the same time. You get upset when the grocery store is out of one of your 10 favorite types of shredded cheese (sorry clearly groceries are on my mind). I feel so ridiculous when I get overwhelmed by the fact that I have more electronics than I know what to do with. The majority of the world doesn’t know what a twitter handle or Pop Chips are. Image

3. We live in a ‘me’ centered society: At this point in life we are so focused on answering questions like “what will I do after college?” “how can I make the most money?” “why don’t I have more likes on this status?” A huge difference that struck me about Ghanaian was their communal mentality. They live in a culture where you have an obligation to serve your family, or your community.  While the environment may not give people living in east Africa much of a choice, seeing this mentality from the outside is a beautiful thing.

4. Your roommates aren’t as bad as you think: Not even having a sink where dishes can pile up, a shower to clean because you run so much water in it, or never having space on the DVR are the age old roomie disputes that accentuate and reinforce the ‘me’ focus discussed above. They, believe it or not, are not issues in other parts of the world because they simply don’t have those things.

5. Embrace help: This one was interesting to see. How willingly help was sought after, and how graciously it was received. As a young college aged person you feel conditioned to fiercely guard your successes and do it all on your own.  From dislocating your shoulder carrying 20 bags up the stairs to landing a big job we have a hard time accepting counseling and aid when needed. It is hard to consider letting someone assist you; any more you are just terrified that they are going to tell you there is a service charge (thanks for that Time Warner). In the Ghanaian culture many people genuinely helped one another out for the sake of doing the right thing. Image

6. Independence is empowering: We get choices. You can say what you want to say and think whatever you want. In fact not taking advantage of this is viewed as downright wasteful.  It is taken for granted that we live in a society that embraces these freedoms.

7. The world is bigger than your 2 bedroom whatever: I am talking thousands of people crammed into the smallest of public spaces.  There are more people in this world than we can even comprehend who live in areas that don’t make the nightly news.  It is so easy to forget about the rest of the world outside your bedroom door.Image

8.You won’t always have an answer: In life there will be problems bigger than you can solve. They will cause your head to spin.  Even the best bullshitters have to admit defeat sometimes.  We spent much of our time in Ghana considering the big issues and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t have an answer.  Discussion and experiences like this give people the ability to ponder these answers and a perspective that is capable of contributing more than what happened on the Real Housewives of New Jersey last night.

9. Reality isn’t easy to face: Just like it wasn’t easy learning the truth about the tooth fairy, the reality of global regions can pose a discomforting picture.  In life we are challenged to live truthfully and build a future that encompasses success.  Being present in the reality of your life is incredibly important while accomplishing future goals or working towards change.

10. There is not a Sarah McLaughlin song playing when you do a good deed: Difficult situations and facing challenges are a part of being human and growing into who you are meant to be.  You may not receive the recognition that you feel you deserve, or obtain the positive feelings you anticipated from giving your time or aid and that is okay.  We expect glamor. If only John Mayer songs played when we fell in love and Josh Groban raised you up when you finished running a marathon.

This may all sound a little deep for what is normally up on here, but these are lessons that I think have helped change my thinking for the better. Maybe some of them can apply to you also :]

-R

The Boringer the Better(er)?

I have always had a big issue with people who seem to think their life is just so much infinitely more interesting than others and everyone else is boring. They are that person who hears you say “oh I just worked all weekend” and responds all big eyed “oh sounds like a blast” paired with the awkward ‘I pity you because I think your life is boring as shit’ nervous laugh (story of my life).  Then he/she will launch into some story about how their car got stolen as they were at dinner so they called the cops and Eminem showed up instead and went clubbing with them and who gave them a free cell phone and a song appearance on his new album, all weekend long.  I don’t necessarily resent people who seem to live above the level of cool in terms of their general life, but I certainly do not appreciate my 24 hour work weekend being knocked as excitement-lessly boring.  Hey…it was so exciting to see how busy a Saturday was and to get take out for lunch. That salad was the bomb! So you met Eminem, while I once again ate from plastic cutlery and had to eat one bite every half hour due to how swamped we were. Basically…I have always appreciated a routine and revel in the down time when it’s available.  Being boring really is way more fun than most people think. It poses all kinds of benefits like the security of a full night’s sleep, avoidance of ‘lost all my personal property at the bar’ nights, and the ability to answer what are your plans for this weekend (uh let me check…yep working again). It is okay to have consistency especially in your personal life.

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 In class the other day we had to go around and do those dreadfully painful introductions that professors make you do when they feel too awkward about reading you the syllabus and then letting you leave too early. The worst part is seeing the pain on everyone’s face as they stand up and try to look as nice and approachable as possible. I am constantly amazed at my ability to forget to answer a mere four statements about myself…I always leave out “what was the most interesting thing you did this summer?”  The entire class went around and there were the exciting people who had amazing hanging with Eminem summers. As the three exciting summer people rattled off their vacations the mood took a turn for the worst when the rest of the class responded by saying that everyone didn’t do anything fun or interesting, we all apparently just hung around and worked.  It was like we all were so let down by the lack of coolness in our lives. We went on to each new person, and every time it was like the entire class had such high hopes of hearing just one skydiving story only to be crushed to hear that they just stayed home helping Grandma (which I thought was absolutely adorable to say!). I looked around wondering if I should make something ridiculous up like swam with alligators while harnessed in a meat suit just to up the morale during the first hours of what is sure to be a very long semester.  

I didn’t really start to feel inadequate about my generic answer that was to come until the professor interrupted saying, “Is that really all you guys do? I’m sorry your lives are so boring.”

Aw man again with the why is your life so boring thing?  I even felt a little offended.  You should know that the most exciting thing he did this summer was that he made it to every single reds game. Look out we are in the presence of a regular old Nik Wallenda. Without ranting too much…what about repeatedly cooking in pure summer inferno, squished in between crowd members dressed in camo and sweaty jean shorts, sounds like fun? Not to mention that most of the time you go and the biggest excitement is the fact that you get a hot dog for a dollar. I love a baseball game as much as the next person but come on…my weekend takeout easily competes with your dollar hot dog.

What I ended up taking away from the class that day was that boring is in the eye of the beholder.  And even if you are legitimately boring you are a perfectly acceptable member of society. Us boring people are the reliable ones, you know where you can find us, and we will listen with ‘edge of your seat anticipation’ to how exciting your life is in comparison.  

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Exhibit A

-R

Switching Gears

I was looking around my room last night and was horrified to find out that I had been forgetting to clean it the past two months. Not that it looked atrocious or really all that unmessy to the general visitor, but after being in the habit of obsessively cleaning my hardwood floors every other day, the dust that I knew I would find and that pile of laundry in the corner weren’t making things better.  All stages of summer were just hanging around sucking the motivation out of the place. For example… I should be working on my resume but oh look there is my tennis racket…anyone want to hit?! The entire day I mentally prepared for the intense cleaning I was going to do when I got off work because both myself and my room needed it. I had bags of things. It was like I spent my entire summer living on foot out of some random over sized bag that looked horribly banged up and worn from grinding the skin off my shoulders as I trekked around doing whatever I just spent my entire summer doing (working). Literally I had accumulated four tooth brushes, random un-matched socks, and for some reason lots of unused napkins.

I finally got home so excited to clean it all and found myself done a mere half hour later. So the big room cleanse wasn’t as eventful as I thought… nor was it as messy as I was hoping.Classes were starting the next day and I realized a lot of the stress was coming from the fact that we are transitioning back into school. The thought of managing 7 classes, jobs, workouts, clubs, and a social life made me want to drop kick my planner out of the third story window in hopes that it could all just work itself out…clearly not the case. For some reason my brain didn’t (and still on day two of classes really doesn’t) want to go back to school. I don’t know why it wouldn’t want to change gears…obsessively relying on blackboard to tell you what you will be doing next and discussion boards that won’t load on your computer that are due in 30 minutes for 50% of your grade sound like a blast! Anyways…I tried to think of other things that could be done to help trick myself into thinking that colder months, hours of note taking, and the fear of not graduating could be more enjoyable than spending afternoons by the pool, or having the time to read a book that doesn’t cost $500.

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Here are a few that I came up with…

1. Throw away unnecessary last year school junk: as I was cleaning I came across this 6 page handwritten mess I actually turned in for a grade last year and the wave of school anxiety began to surface. Looking back on all of the hard work you put in during previous year’s work for many can feel intimidating, unless you are truly one of those go get em’ students who lives for long weekends of APA formatting. 

 
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2. Restock hygiene products: your deodorant-less summer may have been acceptable since you spent it on the beach, but intro to sociology doesn’t need to know about your brief lifestyle change. You will feel better if you show up feeling clean and sanitary.

3. If all else fails…run through it: Figure out how to sweat about it.  What screams sweltering 90 degree summer day like sweat dripping down your face and awkwardly sporting a t-shirt that is soaked in all the most flattering areas? Integrating fitness into your new school schedule has infinite health benefits (that I am sure we will tell you more about :]).  Exercise allows you to channel all of the back to school energy into something productive.

4. Look in the mirror really fast: so the last time you got a hair cut there was snow on the ground. And your makeup may have gone missing since it melted off in the heat anyways.  No big deal but you may want to consider not looking like a member of the white walkers (Game of Thrones reference see picture here) on the first day. Besides, nothing resets the dread of anything like a new hair-cut and fresh appearance.  

5. Don’t hate me but, check your check book (Had to say it): When you are about to transition back into a new phase of your life your entire daily routine will change as well. This means that while you may have avoided knowing the true balance for the past few months, chances are you will need to assess the damage done on those three vacations you took.  Dread is a very accurate way to describe how many students feel about finances, but the more you understand where your money goes, the easier it will be to avoid those emotional back to school shopping sprees. 

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6. Do spend money on: a travel coffee mug (or the alike). Whether you are on the morning caffeine or not the daily habit of starting your day off in a certain way is extremely beneficial. Research studies show that daily routines as simple as a morning cup of coffee can help calm stress and give the individual the comfort to go and take on the day in a slightly more coherent manner.  Your daily stress reliever may not come in the form of a travel mug, but find something that works for you.  For many it is a workout, listening to music, sitting down to breakfast etc. As long as your cute travel mug doesn’t become 12 donuts on a daily basis (i.e taking healthy to sugar coma). 

Once you establish your routine, the rest will follow. 

GOOD LUCK WITH CLASSES! 

-R

DIrty Laundry

A huge obstacle I have encountered since being in college is how to wash my clothes without using some Dawn in the kitchen sink. After bumming one to many free loads at friends and family houses, I decided to check out the local laundromat. Of course I had to go late night, was tucked securely between an Ameristop and the Check n Go.  This place was crowded for 12am on a Sunday night. I realized that there were only three people in the whole place, but got confused when nearly all of the washers and dryers were filled. 

Turns out one of the laundry doers was occupying the entire row.  This amazed me even further as I realized that someone had to commit to not doing laundry for a very very long period of time in order to amass enough material to fill 10 units of washers and dryers.  I found my dryer in the deep corner of the building, it was one of the low tech dryers that didn’t have a touch screen and instead used what looked like displaced dial phone buttons as setting preferences.  To my right was a girl eating peanut butter out of a jar with her finger wearing a sweatshirt that said I make pretty babies.  She looked over at me sniffed up what sounded like a mouth full of butter, and too a gulp of her applejuice to wash it down.  As I stifled my gag reflex the dryer that was in use above mine buzzed stop.  Another girl wearing all black sauntered over bumping my laundry basket out of her way without a care.  The back of her sweatshirt said vampire and her pants were tinted with the print of a human skull. These jeans looked like they may have been a DIY art project, since I cant imagine a more original pants pattern being sold at just any old store.
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As I sat there taking in the scene around me I realized I wasn’t much better off.  I was wearing a zip up hoodie that was two sizes too big.  I had deliberately chosen not to shower after my workout thinking that if this look was suitable anywhere this was the place.  My hair was disheveled as I made the rookie mistake of touching the inside of the dryer which apparently was set warm enough to bake some brownies.  After figuring out which quarter insert to use I found out to my surprise that this place is cheaper than the sketchy basement machines at my apartment building…I guess the trade off was there weren’t any vampires in my building’s basement. As I grabbed the rest of my stuff vampire turned to me and commented that she liked my sweatshirt.  I reflexively responded that I liked her pants and she strolled away past peanut butter girl who was still digging away in the jar of jiffy. This certainly was a more exciting way to get some chores done. 

-R