Saturday, February 13, 2010

WARNING- This is so enormously cheesy, I would make fun of it if I hadn't written it…

I love Valentine’s Day. Not because of the bouquets of flowers that flooded my room from my 33 admirers, or because every cable network seems to be running my favorite film genre on marathon. My love for the holiday even reaches beyond the fact that the hearts I mindlessly draw in the margins of my notebook in class virtually have a purpose today— I think it is the ideal happiness the holiday attempts.

You would think that this hell of a hallmark holiday would leave me as annoyed as I am when I witness PDA, which usually make me want to rip my eyes out. Or perhaps that the holiday would make me utterly depressed, yet surprisingly I find a certain optimism in it. Maybe it’s my age or my lack of maturity that allows this holiday to leave me optimistic, whatever it is I hope it never goes away. While I don’t have 33 bouquets surrounding me in my room this year, next year I might have one really great one, and if not next year, the year after that, or ten years down the row.

Ironically, it is only now in these final moments of today that I feel slightly depressed realizing that the one day a year where nearly everyone shares my sappy—sentimental obsession with loving happy endings, is coming to an end. Rather than boycotting this holiday, I embraced it, every last moment of it. While life may fail to produce the scenes I love so much in romantic comedy movies, romance novels, and TV shows, believing that there is a chance I will star in a scene like that is the most exciting thing in the world and I hope I never grow out of believing in that chance.

Words to live by...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Favorite Environment

The mat is the only place where I am truly quiet. That long narrow black piece of plastic I spend a little over an hour on at the end of everyday is the only place I feel completely free.

I look forward to the time I will spend there from the moment I open my eyes in the morning. Throughout my day the anticipation of sitting down on my mat consumes me. Once I arrive at my favorite destination I realize that now it is the journey that really matters as I twist and turn and bend myself through every pose.
Yoga will be without a doubt the best and most challenging hour of my day. I will depend on my breath holding every posture like a newborn depends on a parent’s care.
When I first arrive I prepare I take the opening moments to acquaint myself with my surroundings, I take it all in. This is important so I will eliminate these distractions through the rest of class. I notice the lighting. Are they brighter than I had hoped or do I have to squint to see my toes? I notice the people surrounding me. Is it my best friend in the world who accompanies me to yoga everyday or a friendly stranger who I admire for trying the hobby I adore so much for the first time? I notice the sounds. Do I hear chatter outside the studio or my favorite song blasting through the speakers?
Noticing these things at the onset allows me to entirely focus my attention inwards, drowning out all outside distractions. My entire world exists on my mat even if only for 90 minutes it becomes my magic carpet taking me anywhere I want to go.
I forget about time. Time does not seem to pass like it does when I step off my magic mat.
Why does it seem every chair pose lasts forever and every child’s pose is over in the blink of an eye? The answer: my mind. My mind will want to tell me all kinds of things that are false. I have to learn to ignore it, and think only with what my body feels.
Silencing my mind I concentrate on my breath. Deeply inhaling and exhaling taking in everything I can. Breathing and realizing, my breathe is the one thing that is guaranteed to be with me as long as I am alive. Breathing, the simplest thing you can do will become my greatest ally on and off the mat.
Now I can begin to move, I pass through each movement, not only listening to the teacher say each pose we to move into but listening to the louder more important voice inside my head telling me what pose I need to hold or skip.
The practice does not end when I open my eyes, finish the om, or even when I roll up my mat and leave the warm room I could stay in forever, instead that is where it begins.
Regardless of grade level, major or hometown college students continually feel pressured. Whether it’s the scream hear all around campus in the middle of finals week or deciding what party to go to on any given night or figuring out what you will do with the rest of your life; college has a way of making stressing you out when in the grand scheme of things you may never even remember what you are dealing with now. Yoga acts as a way of relieving some of this pressure even if only for a while.

I love TOM

What a cool idea? The idea of TOMS shoes is one I wish I would’ve thought of to say the least. What a simple yet beautiful thought, shoes for TOMorrow for every pair of shoes sold TOMS shoes gives a pair to a child in need. TOMS shoes chief Giver Blake Mycoskie is said to be a social entrepreneur, as someone who clearly transfers his entrepreneurial abilities into positive change and social responsibility.

I bought my TOMS shoes fully aware of the concept after seeing a friend sporting chic black and white polka dot pair. What I did not anticipate was that my navy blue canvas pair of TOMS shoes would appear attached to my feet to everyone I know. I based outfits and activities around wearing them, I loved them so much in the first few weeks after they were delivered to my house.

Not that I don’t love them just the same now, my now extremely worn TOMS shoes find their way to my feet whenever possible but with every falling snowflake it’s becoming less and less practical. But leave it to Blake to come up with a solution to that problem as well, TOMS now offers “Botas,” their version of a boat.

While my TOMS shoes proved to be the most comfortable pair of shoes I owned, what they represented had an even greater impact on me. The concept of helping everyone have shoes is lovely but when I learned that the leading cause of disease in developing countries is soil-transmitted parasites, which penetrate the skin through open sores I was convinced TOMS shoes were in fact saving the world one pair of shoes at a time and this is what made me never want to take them off.

I want to be as involved as possible with the movement and I’ve quickly realized I’m far from alone. Whenever I’m wearing my TOMS (in my case every time I take a step) I am constantly complimented or questioned about them. I enjoy being a walking advertisement for this company promoting social change .

Who doesn’t want to help children in developing countries have shoes? Think about running, playing and just simply getting around completely barefoot. In addition, many schools in developing countries require shoes as part of the uniform, so no shoes can even mean no education. This terrible reality is remedied by SHOES and with this TOMS shoes saves the world, one pair at a time.

This year during the holidays I plan to buy as many “double gifts” as I can. I have already ordered a pair for my best friend’s (don’t worry she doesn’t read my blog, she looked at it once and said I they were too long) Christmas present. A present for Ellen and a step towards a better tomorrow…perfect.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Beef and Bacon and Sausage oh my...

Big Macs, chili cheese fries, steak burritos, have become basic staples of an Americans diet diets. Obviously, not everyone eats this way in fact most don’t, but those that do are increasing their ecological footprint as well as their waistline with every bite.

Dipping your T-bone steak into A1 may be inching us one step closer to global warming. Raising animals for food is a cause of land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and global warming.

While some people would rather jump in front of a bus than give up meat for even a meal, for others, like me, the transition to this more sustainable lifestyle is hardly noticeable. Bottom line: if you love meat don’t become a vegetarian, my blog sure won’t change your mind, but if you already are or seriously considering it, or want to become a semitarian [def.(n.) someone who eats less meat than they did before] here are some additional points to the vegetarian argument.

If global warming doesn’t do much for you, this will (or at least it gets me). There is good news and bad news: Good news we have enough food to feed the entire planet, the bad news is we are not using our resources efficiently enough to feed everyone. How is this happening? When I heard this is couldn’t figure out why as a global society we couldn’t figure this one out. We have enough food in the world to feed everyone but billions still go hungry every single day.

According to Rajul Pandya-Lorch, International Food Policy Research Institute: “More than 130 million children who are under the age of five will still remain malnourished by 2020.”

While my own vegetarianism can not reverse this daunting statistic it sure can't hurt.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I want to go to college for the rest of my life...or do I?

We hear you Asher Roth, "We all Love College," but do we really want to stay here for six years? Okay yes most of us do...but do we really have the money to pay for two more years than we expected?

The general consensus seems to be that we all love college, but the grind of homework, exams, and quizzes up until grade 16 seems extreme, can we make it all the way to grade 20? When I picked up today's State News and saw the front page article and read that six years to graduate was becoming the norm among previously four year universities, I quickly examined my current schedule making sure I was well on my way to a four year stint in college.

With massive the amount of university requirements, graduating in four years is more impressive than ever. Do we really need six integrative studies classes? Whether we need them or not is highly debatable, but the reality is we are forced to take them for graduation.

Since we are forced to endure, pass, and pay for these classes that we are not choosing, it should be the university's obligation to teach us the things we need to know to be citizens of the world. That is the idea behind university requirements, fortunately for me, my prerequisites have been some of the most interesting classes with the most endearing professors, who truly love what they do and are enthusiastic about their subject area. I've been taken through eight decades of music, gained a new Vision of the Universe, and learned about the footprint I'm making on just one of the eight planets in the sky.

Clearly, for me my experience in required courses was quite pleasant, unfortunately I’ve heard horror stories from many of my friends. They have taken classes where they do more busy work than actual learning. Essentially, professors can teach whatever they want with in their realm of expertise. So with all these classes we have to take, the question I ask myself is, how is anyone leaving East Lansing without a greater understanding of environmental issues? To me it seems like this timely issue would be perfect to insert into required learning.