Get Your Own Clique

Did you know that laziness is contagious? What about success? Of course these are not actual biological diseases but sometimes, they spread like they are.

Think about your friends for a moment. How would you describe them? I would describe mine as ambitious, effective, generous, and open-minded. That might sound boring to you, but it is completely by design. I’ve surrounded myself with people who are similarly minded to me and who also possess characteristics I aspire to.

However, sometimes people surround themselves with friends and acquaintances that hold them back. Behaviors are contagious. If all your friends stay out late every night, how long do you think it will be until you start staying out? If all your friends hate on your ideas for self-improvement, you might not stick with it… And so on and so forth.

This is something important to note about ‘successful’ people. They surround themselves with people who are experiencing or actually striving for similar success. Whether you define success as having a family, a happy relationship, or a billion-dollar company, their friends possess similar mindsets and they actually feed off of each other’s energy and improve in their respective goals.

This isn’t to say that all of your friends must be exactly like you, nor that you should carefully select them based on how successful they might make you. What you MIGHT want to consider, however, is being truer to yourself.

How will this help, you might ask? When you are honest with yourself and what you want, and consistently act in a way that is aligned with your goals, you will automatically attract similar people. For example, I have a really good friend from my freshman year of college. We got along pretty well from the start but where we really got close was at the gym. We both loved working out and put a priority on being fit and that provided the platform to solidify our friendship.

In a similar vein, I LOVE TV and movies, and I will talk about them with anyone who will listen. Lo and behold, I told an acquaintance about the show ‘Suits’ and when we watched the first few seasons together, we became best friends!

The point is, it can be silly or small, but don’t be afraid to own up to all aspects of your personality. Because once you realize and pursue your interests and goals, other people will recognize bits of their own aspirations in you and you will start to draw people that have similar mindsets. And the best part? No one is exactly the same! So even though you will attract people with familiar goals, they will be just different enough to make the friendship interesting.

 

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I love you guys, don’t hate me for using this heinous picture 🙂

 

 

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The Truth about Self-Help Books

You know those books on how to be more productive, make more money, be smarter, be more successful? I devour those books. They’re everywhere, and I’ve probably read a lot more of them than the average twenty-two-year-old (honestly I’ve probably read more than the average person of any age), and I’m here to let you all know that apart from a few key books that I’ve read in this genre, the rest are a load of bullshit.

Obviously, I can’t speak for every single book in the genre but I’ve started noticing a trend in my own reading each time I pick up a new one. I also want to be clear that I’m not necessarily talking about psychology books, books that discuss scientific studies, or other nonfiction books, we are strictly speaking about books whose supposed purpose is to inspire you to improve your own life.

First of all, most of these books contain very little actual concrete advice. What they DO contain is a lot of motivational fluff about punching up your own life, and supposed success tidbits that could just as easily be found in a BuzzFeed listicle on how to be more productive — Get up earlier, stay disciplined, don’t let the haters distract you — sound familiar? And although this advice might have merit, they provide very little information on how to actually accomplish these tasks.

Secondly, a large portion of these books are written by ‘successful’ people. This is fantastic marketing. Who doesn’t want to know what such and such billionaire has to say about how to become a billionaire? However, the issue with this is that many of these ‘successful’ people are writing their books retrospectively. They’ve already achieved so much and know they can make even more money by dishing out their so-called ‘secrets of success’. But, as we all know, hindsight is 20/20. It is highly unlikely most of these people had their own advice in mind the whole time they were pursuing their success. Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult to actually distill the secret of success but we, as the masses, clamor for these books because we desperately want to know if there is something these ‘successful’ people know that we don’t.

And in the cases where these books weren’t written by people you’ve heard of, who are they? What makes their advice worth taking? Too often, we have no idea where these authors come from, their credentials being flimsy at best, and we believe their advice because it is given in a compelling format with great marketing.

Last but not least, the entire self-help industry preys on feelings of inadequacy. Everyone who reads these books, (including myself) feels that something is currently lacking in their own life, or that they could improve somehow. While this isn’t always a problem (it can be GREAT to seek inspiration from others), it can quickly turn into a spiral of always believing there is something more to seek  and one can quickly become absorbed in trying to discover how other people have gotten ahead, rather than trying to apply some things they have learned and search for their own secrets to success.

Alright, now that I’ve hopefully made sufficient skeptics out of all of you, I do want to give a shoutout to a few of these books that I feel actually provide real, credible, HELPFUL advice. Many of these are well-known and have been bestsellers, and I’m happy to say that they actually deserve it. This list is purely for the self-help genre, there are a wealth of other nonfiction books that have also contributed to my personal growth and development but would come in the way of biographies, and scientific studies.

  1. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
  2. Never Eat Alone – Keith Ferrazi
  3. The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferris
  4. Money: Master the Game – Tony Robbins
  5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tyding Up – Marie Kondo
  6. Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
  7. How to Fail at Everything And Still Win Big – Scott Adams

Let me know if you have read any or what you think of these books!

 

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Most of my books are on a kindle so I borrowed my boyfriend’s hard copies 🙂

 

I’m Homesick Already

My name is Melina, last week I moved to Calgary Canada, and I’m HOMESICK.

This probably doesn’t sound that surprising, but I’m honestly quite taken aback that this feeling came over me so quickly. I had been here for exactly two days and then we went grocery shopping at this huge grocery store, and let me tell you, it’s been a long time since I felt that helpless. I didn’t know where anything was, half the brands and food items I was used to weren’t there, or I couldn’t find them and I just felt this unbearable longing for the overpriced Ralph’s in downtown LA.

The next day, I tried to buy a few items on Amazon and boy was I in for a treat. You know how great Amazon is in the states? You can find anything and everything for crazy prices and it all arrives in two days? Yeah, not the same deal in Canada. The selection is almost comically inferior and the prices are hit or miss. And that two-day shipping deal? Almost nonexistent even with prime. So after realizing Amazon couldn’t help me at all in this country, I basically had a breakdown and laid on the floor for about an hour with glassy eyes halfway between crying and not.

I know Amazon and the grocery store sound pretty freaking trivial, but these are key components in setting up a new life and I’ve never had to set up shop before in a location that was almost familiar but just different enough to be completely unsettling. When I lived in China, I was already mentally prepared to not have any of the things I was used to. Canada, however, seems so close to the U.S. on the surface that it was easy to trick myself into thinking it would be nearly the same bar a few ‘sorry’s’ and ‘eh’s’.

Additionally, for the first time in my life, I find myself in a new place with no one around me going through the same thing. I know it hasn’t even been a week so I can’t expect to have already made friends or connections and I know this will eventually be spectacular for my personal growth, but right now, it just sucks. I feel out of place and out of step since there’s no one I can really turn to right now about this feeling.

I know these feelings will subside, and the longer I stay, the more familiar I will get with my surroundings and the more people I will meet. However, I wanted to get this off my chest because even though moving can be really exciting and fun, and starting in a new place can be like having a great blank slate to play with, that same blank slate can also be fucking terrifying. Writing this out was the perfect way to remind myself that it WILL be ok, and that for now, it is ok for me to cry or watch TV alone on weekends, or whatever.

If you would like me to continue chronicling my general feelings and activities about moving to a new country and starting over, please let me know, I’m sure I will have TONS to vent about in the coming months.

 

 

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Photography by the illustrious Clara Yu

 

Not So Lazy Sundays

Lazy Sundays. When did they become lazy? Why do we use Sundays as days to sleep for way too long and accomplish absolutely nothing besides dreading Monday? I used to treat Sundays like this. They were finally my day to myself where I could “relax.” But inevitably, I would feel groggy and lethargic spending my days barely moving in front of the TV.

In college was when I really started making Sundays a ‘productive’ relaxation day. This didn’t mean that I worked, or studied, or necessarily accomplished anything in the traditional sense, but it did mean I actively took care of myself and my hobbies. My favorite thing to do as a freshman? I walked to the beach and just spent hours out there by myself reading and swimming. Totally refreshing. So if you’re one of those people who’s Sundays always end up ruined by your own insistence on ‘doing nothing’, here’s a couple ideas to help your Sunday get off on the right foot.

  1. Get up before 9am. Notice how I said GET UP. Not just wake up. Because we all know that right after waking up we can literally spend hours on our phones doing fuckall. 9am is a great parameter to set for myself because it still allows me some freedom in sleeping in if I want, but I also know that if I stay in bed past nine I will already start to feel like I’ve wasted the day.
  2. MOVE. Sunday is my rest day, however, I do need to get my blood pumping at least a little bit so I will either go for a walk to pick up a coffee, or I will do a quick 10-15 minute stretch just so my body doesn’t feel groggy.
  3. Make yourself a proper breakfast. I’m pretty good about this on normal days, but I know a lot of people aren’t. A lot of people skip the first meal of the day by virtue of sleeping too long. On Sunday’s, treat yourself. I will either make a full omelet with fruit and toast, or I will make chocolate chip pancakes! Either way, making a more elaborate breakfast already makes me feel accomplished.
  4. Dedicate some time to your hobbies. Sunday can be a day to spend time working on your passion projects or things that make you happy. I typically do most of my blogging on Sundays and a ton of reading (currently reading Titan by Ron Chernow). I also use this day to spend a little time on self-improvement. I will dedicate a little time to practice my languages, as well as research personal finance which has become increasingly interesting to me. The best thing is that I can spend as little or as much time on each activity or hobby as I want!
  5. Friend time! I know we typically go out on Friday and Saturday nights, but Sunday brunch didn’t become a thing for no reason. Sunday can be the perfect day to do something relaxing with friends. Go for coffee, go shopping, or duh, go for brunch! I typically reserve my most low-key activities for Sunday since I do want to rest up for the week but it can still be a great day to spend the day out and about with some great company.
  6. Make a Plan. This one goes along with all of the above but is important that you set some goals for yourself even on Sundays. Even if those goals are only going to yoga and going to brunch. By making a plan you are mentally committing yourself to those activities. By no means should your Sunday goals be as ambitious or numerous as your weekday goals, but if you set some, you will find yourself feeling way more relaxed and accomplished.

I know a lot of this sounds like overzealous wellness practicing, but using your weekends productively is one of the most important things I’ve learned over the years. While time to veg out is great, for the most part, you should be taking part in things that actively make you feel accomplished or happy on weekends. They don’t have to be big or time-consuming, but those small changes can do wonders for your state of mind throughout the week.

4 Fitness Myths to QUIT Believing

It seems like despite the U.S.’s rising obesity rates our obsession with fitness and health has never been stronger. Never have there been more goods and services on the market promising to make you stronger, faster, healthier, or more beautiful. It seems like every time I turn around there is a new ‘health’ food being included in everything from salads to ice cream, or there is a new exercise class that promises celebrity athlete level abs in just ONE CLASS (for the low price of way too much money plus tax).

Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong proponent of health, nutrition, and fitness, and I do recognize that most of these trendy products and classes are just harmless trends with great marketing. However, there are some products and ideologies that keep permeating the fitness industry and are actually making it harder for people to get to the fitness level they want, or they are just downright damaging and dangerous to the body. The items below are myths that seem to stick to the industry no matter how many people debunk them, but dammit if I’m not going to at least tell my friends and family what they should be wary of.

  1. Right off the bat, my least favorite myth is that weight lifting makes you bulky. This one hits home for me as a woman because so many of my girlfriends have been terrified of lifting heavy weights or doing anything besides cardio because they didn’t want to become too buff. I want to point something out about this myth that should be obvious. Have you ever seen a bodybuilder? Do you have any idea how many hours and how much work you have to put into lifting to even get close to being described as bulky? The answer is A TON! And I promise you that you would definitely know if you were putting in that kind of work. We’re talking multiple hours at the gym every day, lifting HEAVY weight, and a strict diet to get those muscles to grow. I’m willing to bet that most of the people who will read this are definitely not putting in that kind of work, I know I’m not.
  2. In the same vein, another fitness myth that persists is that cardio is the only way you can lose weight. I’ve had a lot of friends only do cardio in the gym and tell me it’s because they want to lose their fat before they start building muscle. While cardio is an effective way to burn calories, I wouldn’t say that only doing cardio is the most effective. Many people don’t know that the more muscle you have on your body, the more energy you burn even while at rest, even while SLEEPING! Doing a combination of cardio, and other types of exercise can make your weight loss journey faster and more efficient than just running endless miles on a treadmill.
  3. Alright, let’s get to a flat out ridiculous trend that has gained traction in the past couple years: Detoxes. A whole slew of ‘detoxing’ juices, teas, and supplements promise to decrease the nasty things in your body, decrease bloating, and increase your energy. ALL, I repeat, ALL of these products are a load of crap. Your body already does an amazing job of detoxifying itself. Ever heard of your liver? Your kidneys? Those are your detoxifying instruments. Your body is already working to clarify your body as you read this, and I promise you an overpriced juice cleanse will only make you hungry and cranky. Furthermore, some of these products are downright dangerous. The detoxifying teas you see all over Instagram are nothing more than glorified laxatives. Most of them are not necessarily even FDA approved and can seriously damage your intestines and stool if you’re not careful.
  4. Ok last one, and this one is more cautionary. Scientific studies about health and fitness products appear all the time. You know the ones: “Studies show that one cup of coffee a day can increase weight loss!”. I’m not saying ALL these studies are complete BS, I just want to note that MANY are. First off, we have the problem of fake news so it might literally be completely made up. Secondly, many scientific studies are sponsored by companies and are therefore swayed to a certain result (like if Starbucks sponsored the coffee study. SURPRISE SURPRISE, coffee is good for you, buy more coffee, give your money to Starbucks, who cares about your health). And lastly, even if these studies are real, and not swayed by capitalism, many haven’t been replicated, and many haven’t even used sample sizes that are big enough or control groups. Scientists need to get published and flashy experiment results are great marketing. Quite a lot of problems with these ‘studies’, huh? I don’t want to make it sound like ALL research is bullshit, just make sure you do a bit of your own before believing someone else’s.

The world of fitness, nutrition, and wellness is flush with information and it can be easy to get caught in these niche tips and tricks that promise great results. When looking for advice, ask yourself if you find yourself being sold something as you’re reading/watching/listening? If a product is being pushed, chances are you need to dig in more before committing. And just for the record, the only method I know of that GUARANTEES results is hard work in he gym, and keeping your diet on track. Pure and simple.

Dear L.A.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas (Malibu, Thousand Oaks, Tujunga, DTLA) for about three years now (not all in a row, but close), and I can safely say I have a pretty harsh love/hate relationship with this place. L.A. is ugly, has boring architecture, the traffic is the WORST, and there really are a ton of people here trying to be famous or get discovered at every ice cream shop, club, and street corner.

However, even though I can say a million horrible things about Los Angeles, I also have a few good thoughts on this place and as I prepare to abandon it (only three more days!) in favor of the Great White North (aka Canada), I thought I’d write a little letter to Los Angeles to thank it for how it has contributed to who I am today.

Dear L.A.,

We have been through a lot together. My whole college career, internships, amazing friends. But I’ve known since the day I set foot in this town that it would be a temporary living space for me, and now the day has come for us to part ways.

I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you, you’re not the prettiest city I’ve ever had the pleasure of courting, but certain parts of you are incredible. I can’t deny that your proximity to the Pacific doesn’t make me justify your numerous other flaws everytime I set foot in that warm sand and get salt water in my hair.

Ugh and the food! You do so many things so well: Mexican, Chinese, Italian. You have a million dessert shops, each offering better cupcakes or ice cream than the last. And the best part? All of it is gorgeous because you know half your revenue is from being reposted on Instagram.

You’ve also taught me much about taking care of myself. Although you can get a little dramatic with all your overpriced juice cleanses and fancy gym memberships, you really showed me that it is ok to put a priority on self-care. You gave me all sorts of healthy eating options and introduced me to heaven in bowl form: acai bowls. You also made sure I never got bored exercising and offered me my choice of many boxing, yoga, swimming, and hiking prospects to stay fit.

And even though you can be way too expensive and way too superficial, you were also the place where I met some of my absolute best friends.  These are the friends that taught me to be more open minded, more social, and more generous. They taught me it’s ok to depend on others and to be vulnerable with them. They are friends that I can laugh, cry, or be silent with. The kind that truly change you as a person, shape your life, and stay with you forever, and for that, I will always be grateful.

See you again soon L.A.

Love, Melina

 

 

A Girl’s Guide to Defecting

As many of you may know from my recent blog post here, I am moving to Canada in just a couple weeks now! While I’ve moved WAY too many times in the last few years, moving to another country comes with a whole set of different challenges that you normally don’t have to worry about when you’re moving within one country. I love the idea of living abroad, and although Canada isn’t exactly as exotic as I’d like, it is still a foreign country and a new set of logistics need to be considered. So if you’re the same as me and are considering, or have considered living abroad, here are some things you should take into account:

  1. THE LAW. I know, I know, this one is obvious. But it is worth repeating here because each country has its own immigration laws and regulations, and you should become intensely familiar with those rules to avoid any mishaps. Common ways to live abroad include getting work or student visas that provide you with the correct documentation to live in a country that is not your own. If you’re a U.S. citizen, the Federal Secretary of State website is the place to start for this info. For me, I’m in a unique situation since I work from home for an American company. For this first year at least, I won’t claim that I live in Canada, and I will make sure I go back to the states at least every few months to prevent violating immigration law. If I live with my boyfriend in Canada for a year or longer, he can actually sponsor me for permanent residency and things become a whole lot easier.
  2. TAXES. The only certainties in life right? Death and taxes. Just because you move away does not mean you are free of paying your government money. In fact, it gets even more complicated because you will have to file in both countries. I make money through an American firm, but will be using Canada’s resources so I have to file twice. I’ll be honest, taxes are already complicated enough as it is, so I’ve decided to hire an accountant for this. It’s expensive but I will definitely need the help and peace of mind of putting this burden on a professional who can make sure I don’t lose too much money.
  3. HEALTH INSURANCE. Maybe you’re on your parent’s policy still, or maybe you have insurance through your work. Either way, chances are, your policy doesn’t really apply abroad. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield and they do have emergency insurance for if I were to break my leg or something abroad, but as far as getting checkups or other appointments, I have to come back down to the states if I want coverage. There are ways you can extend your coverage abroad, or buy a separate policy for extended trips, but you will have to make sure you contact your health insurance providers for more details.
  4. CELLPHONE. Ideally, you would simply buy a Sim card in whatever country you moved to and get a new plan with one of their providers. However, because I will be constantly going back and forth between the states and Canada for work, I 1.) Don’t want to commit to a Canadian plan and 2.) Don’t want to change my number. I have Verizon and they have quite a few options for people traveling abroad. For now, I have added Canadian Access to my phone at a limited capacity for an extra charge, and will add more as I need it.
  5. MAILING.  If you leave the country there are still going to be some important documents that you might not want to forward across oceans and continents. I know I will change all my subscriptions and official document addresses to my parent’s address. Make sure you obtain a PO box or an address for a person you trust for official documents and tax purposes. Figure out how to forward your mail with your current postal service or call/email all your subscription services and change your address manually.

There are obviously a billion other little things to consider when moving period, but when moving abroad, the most important thing is to make sure all your legal affairs are in order. Moving to another country is honestly a logistical nightmare and for me, I really had to do my research and talk to people that had done something similar to me to figure out how they handled all this. Information online can be vague or misleading so it is best to find forums for expats or official government instructions to get a better handle on the things you need to know. Wish me luck!

 

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Photography by the lovely Clara Yu

 

Work Hard, Recover Hard

When I was eleven, every so often my swim coach would have us do circuit days. Circuit days were the BEST days because instead of traditional swim practice exercises, we would basically do an aquatic obstacle course for the whole practice. However, inevitably, part of this circuit would be to do lunges nearly the whole way around the pool. We must have done the circuit itself about ten times which probably means we ended up doing a couple HUNDRED lunges by the end of practice. These circuit days were special and were few and far between, and even though they were my favorite, I would absolutely wake up the next morning with lactic acid throbbing throughout my body in the form of delayed onsite muscle soreness (DOMS).

As an eleven-year-old, I clearly didn’t pay too much attention to repairing my body after practices, but as I got older I realized how much proper recovery made a difference and how little time people spend on it even as their bodies stop bouncing back as if they were a preteen.

I obviously recognize the fact that I am still a fresh-faced twenty-two-year old and my body is nowhere near crapping out on me yet, HOWEVER, I have picked up a few tricks throughout my athletic career that make a HUGE difference in my workouts and overall health and should really be included in any fitness regime regardless of your intensity

Stretching: There are many different stretching ideologies: before your workout, only after your workout, before AND after a workout, Sunday yoga, etc. Doesn’t matter your view on stretching, the point is that you should be doing it regularly. Stretching obviously helps with flexibility, but it also decreases soreness and prevents injury. My preference is a little bit of dynamic stretching before a workout like arm and leg swings, and then at least 10 minutes of static stretching (traditional stretching) after my workout when my muscles are warm and it doesn’t feel like I’m ripping them with every stretch. If I can, I will also do a little bit of yoga once or twice a week to get a deeper stretch and work on my overall flexibility and balance.

Fuel: Back when I was a swimmer, I was practicing so hard that I’d either be ravenous and down a whole pizza after practice, or my appetite would be nonexistent and I barely wanted even wanted to rehydrate. Neither were great ways to refuel my body after what was almost certainly a killer workout. Immediately after you workout, it is important to replenish your body. If you don’t eat, your muscles will be screaming for nourishment, but you don’t want to give them just anything. Having a bit of protein after your workout, in the form of a bar, a shake, chicken, almonds, whatever, can help your muscles immediately start their restoration process. If you want specific results for your body, then visit a nutritionist or dietitian who can help you figure out what exactly is best for your body to have, otherwise just be aware that your muscles need to recover and eating a bit of healthy protein after a workout can go a long way.

REST: We’ve talked about getting enough rest before and we’ll talk about it again. Proper rest is CRUCIAL to repair your body each day. If you are an athlete or have regular workouts, your body NEEDS the rest to recover and reset. If you don’t rest properly, not only will your normal life suffer as your mental capacity will be reduced, but so will your physical activity. Your muscles will be tired and you’ll struggle to get through any workout. Trust me, I’ve been there. Get some quality sleep and your body will show you the difference.

Massage: This one can definitely be viewed as a luxury and in the most literal sense, a massage is a luxury in America. Most of the time, they cost upwards of $50 dollars for an hour, a price which is not sustainable for most people. However, like stretching and rest, massages can make the recovery process far easier on your muscles. It can also help with posture and other bodily pains. However, if you’re like me, and you can’t afford a weekly massage, there are other ways to get close. Invest in a foam roller or massage tool. Most are less than the price of one massage and you keep them at home and use them when you want. I have this nifty little ball that is far more resilient than a tennis ball that I can use by myself to work out the knots that plague my back and neck. Even though it is not a normal massage, that small amount of self massage, when used regularly, has worked wonders keeping my muscles loose.

I know these might seem like small things, but if you are putting stress on your body every day for workouts, manual labor, or any number of physical tasks, it is important to note that stress and give your body the adequate recovery it needs. If you’re as diligent about your recovery as you are about putting the stress on your body in the first place, you can start to push yourself harder and harder in your workouts without immediate fear of injury, pain, and fatigue. The types of things I’ve described really only take a few minutes and I don’t know about you, but I’ll spend the extra few minutes healing my body now, rather than paying for it later in life.

 

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I usually use weekends to recover, but I make sure I still get some walking and hair flipping in…

 

Silence is Not Golden

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two weeks, you know that racist tensions in the U.S. have yet again come to a head, this time in Charlottesville, Virginia.

I’m not going to go into the whole story of what happened in Virginia, you can read about that event here. Instead, I want to talk about how that event, and events like it, is perpetuating a state of intolerance in the U.S., and what can possibly be done to combat those feelings.

Anyone that knows me already knows that I sway towards the liberal side of politics, ESPECIALLY when it comes to social justice issues. However, I don’t have to tell anyone that the events that occurred in Virginia were awful, but what I do feel the need to say is: what did you expect?

SO many people think racism is dead in America. They think there are no more marginalized groups, they honestly believe that discrimination and prejudice are ideals of the past. And then events like Charlottesville pop up, and people are SHOCKED that something like this could occur in their country, and you know what? THOSE are the people I’m most appalled at. Unlike those people, I knew that racism wasn’t dead, I knew that there were alt-right extremists out there congregating and planning because I paid attention.

While I absolutely condemn white-supremacy and anybody who decides it is their right to decide that certain lives are worth more than others, I also want to take this moment to call out those Americans who have committed a different kind of act worthy of condemnation: Willful Ignorance.

Too many Americans have decided that these issues don’t concern them, too many Americans have decided not to educate themselves on current events, and WAY too many Americans base their viewpoints on perception and false rhetoric rather than facts and information.

Racism in America is an issue in which it is not acceptable to not take a side anymore. You can’t just say ‘Oh I never gave it much thought’ because events like Charlottesville are plastered EVERYWHERE. You don’t get to pretend hatred and intolerance don’t occur in your very own backyard, and you certainly don’t get to pretend that you’re not a part of the larger issue. In case you were wondering what this kind of pretending looks like, take a look at how our woefully incompetent, PR disaster of a president responded, here.

Not all issues have the ability to feed on indifference, but unfortunately, this one does. Because as a white person, if you stay silent on these issues and think to yourself ‘Well this doesn’t affect me’, even if you’re not a white supremacist, you are helping their agenda. Because by staying silent, you are no longer standing up for what is right and what is just, and what America is SUPPOSED to stand for. You either believe every person has the same rights as every other person, or you don’t. There really isn’t an in-between section on this one.

All I would like to ask each and every American to do is simple: educate yourself. And educate yourself on both sides of the argument. Don’t get all your information from one source, and don’t believe authority figures just because of their position. Check your work, check my work, check the media’s work. Ignorance is how we got in this mess of a presidency in the first place, don’t let it become part of the fabric of our society. Don’t let extremist rhetoric, and outlandish opinion pieces dictate our views. Do the research and make up your own mind, it’s not that hard.

“You are NOT entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your INFORMED opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” — Harlan Ellison

Shoutout to my sister for the title of this post. To watch her video on the same topic, click here!

TREAT YO SELF

You wanna know something Americans are terrible at? Politics. BOOM. Just kidding, I don’t have the energy to tackle THAT argument right now. But in all seriousness, Americans are terrible at self-care. Our way of life here in the states is completely inhibitive of active self-care, especially compared to many countries in the likes of Europe and Asia.

Why should you care about this, you ask? Well, I’d retort, don’t you care about YOURSELF? A typical working American’s week looks something like this: Work Monday through Friday, ideally from 9-5 but we all know those hours are creeping upwards with many people starting work as early as 7 and not finishing until past 6 pm. Then go home, take care of kids, or eat dinner, and watch TV. Then when the weekend rolls around, it is some variation of a Netflix binge fest, drinking and partying, or shuttling your kids to their activities. In short, the average American is not taking care of themselves at all. You might argue that watching TV at the end of a day counts as self-care, but while I binge TV with the best of them, vegging out in front of a screen is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about proactively partaking in things that improve your quality of life.

The factors of self-care I’m going to list below will sound like common sense to most people but how many of us are actually taking the time to do them? The fact that I know most of you are going to roll your eyes makes me believe that these aren’t new or original ideas, but that know-it-all attitude isn’t translating into DOING it all and people aren’t even doing the bare minimum to take care of themselves.

1.) GET MOVING. Like always, exercise makes a huge difference. But this time, I’m not even talking about lifting weights, intervals, or running. The healthiest countries in the world do not usually have a strong fitness culture, but they DO have a strong walking culture. People will always walk when they can and are generally active in their daily lives, and as we all know, movement is good for your heart, your brain, AND your body. Americans, unfortunately, are extremely sedentary so even short walking or dance breaks can make a huge difference.

2.) EAT A GODDAMN VEGETABLE. Now I KNOW people are rolling their eyes at this one because I sound like everyone’s mother. Remember what I said above: we are talking the bare minimum here. But not only am I encouraging people to add some leafy greens here and there, it is also important to make sure you’re eating well, and regularly. Don’t skip breakfast, don’t work through lunch, and definitely don’t binge because you skipped a meal. Eating regularly and including as many food groups as you can, will help regulate your metabolism and keep your energy levels up!

3.) GET YOUR BEAUTY SLEEP. This is the sin that most Americans fall prey to whether you’re a middle schooler or nearing retirement. We are not getting enough sleep. While the amount of sleep you need varies based on your age and other factors, seven to nine hours tends to be the recommended amount. But what’s more, is that people don’t keep regular sleep schedules. We wake up for work at a regular hour but then sleep as much as we want on the weekend which totally messes up our body’s routine. Going to bed and waking up at the same hour can do wonders for your energy, your mental clarity, and even your skin.

4.) TAKE A VACATION. A real vacation. If you’re working, or even going to school, chances are you have some kind of vacation time or arrangement. Especially for my working folks out there, TURN OFF YOUR EMAIL. Too many Americans just don’t take advantage of time off, whether it is a weekend or a full on two-week trip abroad, most of us never disconnect. We are always keeping an eye on our email and that can really take its toll. We are one of the countries with the longest work days and the least vacation days, so when you do have the opportunity to unplug, DO IT, or eventually all that work will just burn you out.

5.) RELATIONSHIPS. Nowadays we have all sorts of relationships right at our finger tips, we go to parties, work events, and social commitments all the time. However, something that can get lost in the shuffle is working on a couple quality friendships. Ideally, these friends can be found close by so you guys can go to coffee or hang out, but if they are long distance that is fine too. Relationships need love and they ultimately feed your soul. Everybody always claims to wish for more time to spend with family and friends, but somehow it ends up low on the priority list from day to day. But if you carve out a little bit of time to catch up with friends at least once a week, it can be truly calming and rejuvenating.

And that’s it! Five simple things. FIVE. We all know that these are things that we should be doing, but somehow it is just so easy to get caught up in the lifestyle of work and commitments, and when we do have some time to ourselves it is perfectly understandable that we would just want to sit around and sleep or do nothing. But carving out a little bit of extra time and effort for your own personal wellness can do WONDERS for your overall attitude and peace of mind. All those little pockets of time focused on self-care can really add up and ultimately, if you take care of yourself, everything you touch will also be much better for it.