This One Wild and Precious Life

I will be the first to admit that what originally drew me to this book was the aesthetic cover. Little did I know that this book was exactly what I was searching for. In a world where there is so much despair, polarization and injustice, I feel lost. I feel called to make a difference, but where do I start? How do I help reduce plastic and food waste, resist political polarization, withstand products that result from child labor, fight for racial and social justice and expose the continuous corruption in our world?

Australian journalist and author, Sarah Wilson, works to define the itch for change that lies deep within us all in her book, “This One Wild and Precious Life: The Path Back to Connection in a Fractured World.” Wilson takes readers through her journey of reconciliation with the world we inhabit.

Through her experiences and connections with both nature and humanity, she brings to life the importance of growth and joy. Wilson finds that this type of joy and growth comes through being physically, socially, and mentally active. She encourages readers to expand their limits, spend more time in nature and dig into the depths of spirituality and the arts.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the never-ending weight of our fractured world, I encourage you to take the time to embrace the knowledge and support Wilson has to offer.

This book was just what I needed in order to find clarity and direction in my life, and I hope it can be the same for you. Our world may be broken, but we have the power to embrace the wild and precious nature of our lives.

Controversy of Inspiration?: The takeaway from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s noteworthy interview.

It was around 5 a.m. on a Friday in April and I was peacefully sleeping. Then suddenly I was awoken by my mother telling me to grab a blanket and to come downstairs. I quickly grabbed a blanket and my stuffed bunny and followed her down our creaky wooden stairs. It was April 29, 2011: Prince William and Catherine Middleton were getting married.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” my mother said. “My mom and I did this when I was your age, for Prince Charles and Princess Diana.”

I was exhausted, yet also enthralled. The dresses, the horse-drawn carriages, a real-life fairy tale, or so it would seem. To me, this life seemed like heaven on earth. A true Cinderella story unveiled before my eyes. But as I would come to learn, this fairy tale was all a façade.

Little did I know this American girl, Meghan Markle, would spark an even bigger interest in the public eye. Markle and Prince Harry got married on May 19, 2018. According to BBC, a little less than two years later “the Duke and Duchess of Sussex… announced they will step back as “senior” royals to become financially independent,” eventually leading them to settle down in Santa Barbara, California. Now, about a year later, they appeared in an interview with Oprah.

The interview was aired on CBS at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 7. According to CNN, “the two-hour special averaged 17.1 million views on Sunday night in the United States… The interview was… higher-rated than the most recent Emmys and Golden Globes award telecasts.”

This interview uproared controversy over whether or not they should have left the royal family or done the interview. Many argued that it was wrong for them to have left. However, I believe these arguments are unfair. Their decision to leave the family and to have the interview were conscious, thought-out choices that were in their own best interest.

Our media seems to be quick to jump on the controversies and quarrels that erupt from events such as these. However, I believe there is a more enriching focus to take from this interview: Markle’s willingness to open up about her mental health. In the interview with Oprah, Markle opened up about her experience contemplating suicide.

According to Healthline, “research has shown that the number of people who seek mental health support increases after a celebrity discloses their own experiences with a mental health condition.”

Healthline highlighted the fact that after Markle’s interview, suicide and depression headlines significantly increased. Markle’s vulnerability not only allowed her to share the truth about the royal family but also inspired those struggling with mental health to seek help.

Healthline also said that “Markle’s openness can also help pave the way for people of color, who generally face greater barriers and worse discrimination and stigmatization for mental health issues.”

We seem to have been so quick to jump to the controversies that surround Prince Harry and Markle’s interview that we have lost sight of the power behind their story. The power they have to save people’s lives at a time when so many are struggling with mental health and isolation. The questions should not be “should they have left the family?” or “should they have done the interview?” but instead, “how have they now inspired a wave of positive change in people’s lives?”

Sources: Healthline, CNN

Defining Your Dreams: Tips, tricks, and helpful hints for figuring out the perfect major for you.

As children, we dream of what we want to be when we grow up: pilots, firefighters, veterinarians, doctors. As a child the options are endless. It seems as if anything we put our minds to is possible. But as we get older and actually grow up, the complexities of our world are illuminated and our dreams often morph into more of a reality.

When I entered college I had no idea what dream I wanted to pursue. I had dreams of being a producer, an environmentalist, a journalist, an entrepreneur. My childhood imagination continued to run wild with ideas of who I would become. When it came to declaring a major I was lost. How on earth could I pick one major to encompass everything that I wanted to try in life?

According to Central College, “75 percent of American college students… either start their college career as undecided or change their major at least once.” Even so, I did not want to be one of these 75 percent of American college students. I am a huge planner and the concept of not knowing what major to choose or career to pursue was a constant stressor. As the semester progressed I began to explore more of my options and intrinsically reflect on my interests. Through this, I ended up finding a major that I am truly passionate about. If you are struggling to find your calling in college, I encourage you to continue reading this article. You are not alone in the struggle and I would love to offer you some inspiration in the journey that lies ahead of you.

First and foremost, take a deep breath. College is a time for self-discovery and development. It is okay if you don’t know exactly who you are or what you want to do. As you go through your college career there will be various courses, conversations and events that help develop your character, passions and goals in life.

Secondly, I recommend taking the time to create a list of your interests, values and passions. Take the time to reflect on the things in your life that make you tick. What kinds of activities do you do when you lose track of time? What beliefs do you hold at the core of your being? I have a running list of these types of things in my notes app. Whenever I find myself completely engrossed in a conversation or activity I write it down. Slowly your list will grow and you may even begin to see a common theme within your interests, values and passions.

The next step I recommend is meeting with the Center for Career Development. I truly believe that this is an underrated resource at Eastern University. I turned to the Center for Career Development when I was exploring majors. They helped me more clearly define my interests, values and passions in order to help me find my dream major. As we explored these parts of me I was led to the major of Digital Media and Strategic Communications. Since this meeting, I have fallen in love with the Communications major and the courses it entails. This major encompasses almost all of my interests, values and passions. Meeting with the Center for Career Development helped set me on a path for my future and I couldn’t be more appreciative.

Declaring a major can be a daunting task. There are so many options and it is hard to discover which best fits your unique personality. I hope that these little tidbits of information can help inspire you to take a deep breath, evaluate your core interests, values and passions and lead you to find the major that makes you truly tick.

Shining a Light in a World of Darkness: Insight on the good news of our world today.

Our world seems to be infiltrated by an abundance of darkness. The news is flooded with stories of death, hopelessness, poverty, and oppression. However, in a world full of darkness, there is a force constantly working against it – a force that travels over 186,000 miles per second. That force is light.

Today, I want to shine that light for you. Many of us are feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of work, the never ending quarantines,
and the longevity of this virus. Even so, there is still hope, there is still light. I know how you feel and I know we all want this to end, but today I want you to see a glimmer of hope in our world of chaos.

The first glimmer of hope I want to share comes from Jonathan Jones, a self-taught barbecuer from Arizona. According to Today, Jones is “[fighting] against food insecurity” through his nonprofit business, Smokin’ Hope. Jones uses a GoFundMe page to raise money and, through doing so, has “been able to feed over 1,000 people.” In our world of perpetual poverty and food insecurity, Jones is providing hope and inspiration, and most of all, is shining a much-needed light in our world.

Another spark of hope comes from a stock market scandal. According to CNN, “by January 15, Game-Stop’s stock was up 1,587% since the beginning of January.” This led Hunter Kahn, a college student at Cornell University, to get about $30,000 in Game-Stop stock. But instead of keeping his profit to himself, he donated about $2,000 worth of Nintendo Switch products to a children’s hospital. According to the Good News Network, the generosity of the beneficiaries did not stop there. Chamath Palihapitiya, an early Facebook executive, donated his entire GameStop shares payout of $500,000 “to the Barstool Fund, a new COVID-19 charity that gives cash payments to small businesses who are about to go out of business.”

The next bright light comes from a life-saving German Shepard. According to Today, “Brian Myers adopted Sadie, a 6-year-old German shepherd” who saved his life after he had a stroke due to blood clots that formed in his body (post recovering from COVID-19). When he
fell to the floor, Sadie came by his side and “when [he] grabbed her collar… [she started] walking backward and pulling [him].” Brian was able to get help and attend rehab, all due to the lifesaving German Shepard.

The last glimmer of light I have for you today is inspired by a woman from the Civil Rights Movement. According to Today, Nadine Nelson, a chef, activist, and educator, was inspired by Georgia Gilmore, the woman “who founded the ‘Club to Nowhere,’ an underground resistance group that cooked and sold savory meals [and] baked goods to raise money for transportation during the Montgomery bus boycott.” Nelson felt inspired by this and started an organization, “Stir the Pot,” in fostering an atmosphere where people can learn about different cultures and listen to various stories and backgrounds.

It is my hope that the actions of a self-taught barbecuer, two charitable donors, a life-saving German Shepard, and a pie-making activist, help shine some light into the darkness you are experiencing. Our world can seem overwhelming, but there is so much good still to be found. Do not lose sight of the light that this world has to offer. There is always a glimmer of hope, even in the darkest of moments.

Sources: Today, CNN

Top 6 Shows to Watch in Isolation: Some “not-so-popular” shows to spice up your quarantine boredom.

Finding shows on Netflix can be difficult on its own, adding extra time on our hands can make it almost impossible to find something binge-worthy.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I am pretty sure I have watched more shows in these past 10 months than I have in my entire life. On top of that, I feel like I have watched every good show on every streaming service. Obviously, this is an exaggeration, but I can’t seem to find a show that I can get lost in. I haven’t felt captivated by the characters or the plot line. I haven’t found a show that makes me want to never stop watching it and that leaves me aching for more. All I do is aimlessly stare at Netflix, scrolling through show after show after show.

I don’t usually watch that much television, so I know I cannot be alone in this feeling. If you can’t seem to find any more shows to watch don’t worry; I’m your girl! All you have to do is keep reading.
I’ve picked some “not-so-popular” shows. Don’t worry, you won’t be stuck with the same recommendations that Google has to offer.

If you’re in the mood for an escape to the countryside and a ‘little’ bit of family drama, you have to watch “Heartland.” You can stream it on Netflix and become captivated by Amy Fleming, a young girl, struck by tragedy, and overcomes by following in her mother’s footsteps. Heartland captures not only the determination and passion that flows through Amy’s veins but her family’s comical dynamic as well.
If the countryside isn’t quite your thing, don’t worry, I have plenty more to offer.

If you are looking for more of an urban-centered, women-empowering comedy, then you have to check out the show “Girlboss.” This show is based on Sophia Amoruso’s autobiography, “#GIRLBOSS,” and follows the story of how a thrifted vintage jacket leads to a thriving online business. This show is hilarious and will leave you wishing for a second season.

Whenever I ask for a show recommendation, I feel like Grey’s Anatomy is everyone’s go-to. Medical dramas are on the rise and if you haven’t watched “New Amsterdam,” you need to stop reading this article right now and go watch it. This public hospital seems to be plagued with setbacks and trauma, but nothing that Dr. Max Goodwin can’t handle. Max is passionate about saving lives and following through on his word. When I am telling you I couldn’t stop watching this show, I am not kidding. It captivated me from the start and I never turned back.

If you are in need of a good laugh and are looking for an extremely underrated Netflix original, then “Atypical” is the show for you. “Atypical” highlights the life of Sam, an 18-year-old on the autism spectrum, who has decided that he’s in the market for a girlfriend. This show is both heartwarming and heart-wrenching and will leave you wanting to hug some characters while strangling others.

Another comedic show that I adore is “Cheers.” If you are looking for a throwback sitcom, then this is the show for you! Set in a Boston bar, Ted Danson leads an iconic cast. This show is full of memorable characters that will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. It also has 11 different seasons that will leave you entertained for hours (about 137.5 to be exact).

I saved the best for last. No matter who you are, what kind of shows you like, or what kind of mood you are in, you have to watch “This is Us.” This show is the most well-written and well-rounded show I have ever watched. It centers around real-life topics, such as marriage, parenting, racism, grief, anxiety, and depression. It depicts these themes in a way that is so moving, so captivating, and so inspirational. If you have not watched “This is Us” already, this is your sign.

 

The Art of Travelling: Insight on the best ways to plan your next trip.

I am writing this as I am quarantined in my room, dreaming of the open roads, the mountains, the long hikes and the smell of campfires. When it
comes to traveling, it is much more than just packing a suitcase and showing up. Traveling is an art, from budgeting to booking, to researching to planning.

This past summer my family traveled to four locations in 12 days. I spent three days researching the locations we were going, finding the best hikes
and places to go and efficiently creating a schedule that would allow my family to get the most out of our experience.

Here are my top eight tips to master the art of traveling: pick the date and location early, create a budget, book your flight, find places to stay, research your locations, plan an itinerary, make a packing list and a few special notes.

Pick your dates and destination at least four months in advance. This will give you time to do the next seven steps!

As a college student, budgets can be tricky, but that makes them that much more important. Set your budget early on so you know exactly what you can spend.

A general rule of thumb for booking flights is to book early in the week and two months in advance. This should give you the best prices!

Camping is a great way to save money! Kayak.com is also super useful when it comes to looking for hotels or anything in regards to your traveling needs.

To get the most out of your experience, research is key. When I planned my family’s trip out west, I spent lots of time reading blogs and talking to friends who had been to the places we were going. I compiled a huge list of any of the places we wanted to go.

Plan out each day of your trip, leaving some room for spontaneity of course. Star the items you definitely want to hit! Use the maps app to calculate the time it will take to drive to each place so that you can maximize your time.

Packing has to be my least favorite part of traveling! I always worry I am going to leave something behind. I suggest Googling a packing list for what you need for every type of trip you are going on.

Lastly, I have a few special notes for anyone getting ready to plan their next trip.

If you are traveling to National Parks more than twice a year, get a National Park Pass! It is only 80 dollars and gives you access to the National Parks,
which usually costs 35 dollars per entry. If you’re looking to fly for even cheaper prices, sign up for Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program! You can
earn points towards your flights for every dollar you spend.

If you are traveling internationally, this takes a lot more planning! Make sure you educate yourself on the place you are going to visit. Most importantly, have fun!

To Be or Not To Be: A reflection on the intersection of faith and politics.

Faith and politics: a controversy quite familiar to many Americans. Should the church and state be kept separate? Or should they be intertwined? Should Christians be involved in politics? Or should they stand back?

As American citizens, it is our duty to be involved in politics. Yes, our duty. As Chrisitans, we can use politics as one way to fulfil the purpose God has for us. Proverbs 31:8-9 calls us to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (NIV). As Christians, we are ultimately called to love as Jesus did. Jesus loved the marginalized,
the oppressed, and the sinners, and we are called to do the same.

With this comes the responsibility of getting involved in politics. This does not mean that politics take precedence over faith, but that taking part in politics is a part of living a faithful life.

Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God” (Matthew 21:22 NLT).

In Matthew 21, Jesus shows how the worldly kingdom and heavenly Kingdom are ultimately in tension and we have to live with that. Ultimately, we are called to live for God. We are not called to live for politics. Oftentimes people can get caught up in being too involved in politics that they lose the essence of their faith.

We are called to “not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19), but to “store our treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:20). Storing up our treasures on earth is having politics take the foundation of our lives, concerning ourselves more with reading the news more than our Bible. But storing our treasures in heaven calls for living a faith of service, a faith where Christians actively live out the love and purpose of Christ.

One of the ways Christians can walk in faith is through the act of voting. In America, citizens have the privilege to vote, a privilege that allows us to choose our standard of life, a privilege that allows us to stand up for issues we care about, for issues that God calls us to. As Christians, it is our responsibility to advocate for the oppressed, to advocate against injustice and this is prevalent now more than ever.

As my INST-150 professor, Lauren Haskell has said, “You are not voting for a pastor, you are voting for a politician.”

You may never fully agree with a politician, but that does not mean you do not vote. As people of faith, we cannot sit back because we are displeased with the candidates. Politics are corrupt and so is humanity. This does not mean we can disregard our privilege to make a positive difference for the kingdom of God.

As Christians, we are called to spread the light of the Lord across our country, a light that will work to outshine injustice, oppression and sin. Let us work together to make a difference in this world, spreading the light and love of Christ throughout our country and our world. Let us come together as people of faith and help work towards the kingdom of God.

All About Absentee Ballots: Exercising the right to vote in the midst of a pandemic.

American citizens are given a right that is undeniably significant and that shouldn’t take it for granted.
According to the United States Census Bureau, only about 45 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds registered to vote actually vote and according to College factual, that age range makes up 61.8 percent of Eastern University’s student body. With the 2020 Presidential Election quickly approaching, it is important to know how to exercise your right to vote, especially amid a pandemic.

With Covid-19 precautions in place, Eastern University residents are required to stay on campus unless they are leaving for an essential purpose. Mail-in voting has been instilled for this year’s election so that citizens can vote in a safer environment with less risk of being exposed to the virus. While there has been some controversy over the accuracy of mail-in voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, “Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado reminded President Trump after he opposed voting by mail on fraud grounds, “Mr. President, we’ve had vote by mail in Colorado for years. We don’t have fraud. But we do have the second highest turnout in America.”’

According to College Factual, the Eastern University undergraduate student body pulls from 22 states. With coronavirus precautions preventing students from returning home on election day, this means that all students residing outside of Pennsylvania who wish to vote need to do so through an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots are used for people who cannot vote in-person on the day of the election.

To get an absentee ballot, you must be registered to vote. Additionally, every state has absentee voting, but they each run it differently. If you are in need to request an absentee ballot or have any questions in regards to absentee and early voting you can follow these codes.

Five Things to Know About Reducing Plastic Waste on Campus: Why and how you should take care of the environment at school.

It’s noon and your stomach is rumbling, so you walk over to Walton to grab some lunch. You get a burger and fries and then a salad. Already you have two plastic to- go containers and a plastic pack of utensils, of which you are only going to use the napkin and fork. Not to mention, you grabbed two cups on your way in, even though you are only going to fill up one. According to National Geographic, each of these single-use plastic items are piling
on to the 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste in the world.

So why try to reduce plastic waste on campus? According to Almost Zero Waste, “recycling plastic is not efficient – only nine percent of plastic ever produced has been recycled. About 60 percent is discarded in landfills and oceans.” This results in many detrimental side effects, including the
generation of greenhouse gas emissions and the contamination of animal habitats.

The recent COVID-19 protocols on Eastern University’s campus have resulted in an increase in single-use plastic. While we cannot directly reverse these precautions, as they are for the safety of students, we can still take action to help reduce plastic waste. Here are several ideas to help reduce plastic waste on campus:

Invest in a reusable water bottle.

According to Be Bottle, using a reusable water bottle “replaces all the plastics that you would have used and thereby reduces both your carbon footprint and helps reduce the plastic burden on landfills, oceans, streams and other places that plastic waste ends up.”

Reuse utensils

If you go to grab lunch and you pick up one of the plastic packages of utensils, don’t throw them away! Take them back to your dorm and wash them so you can use them to eat a snack later. Not only will you help out the environment, but you’ll save yourself a couple of bucks.

Use reusable bags

If you take an essential trip to the grocery store, opt for bringing a reusable bag, and if you forget, ask for a paper bag! If all else fails, use those plastic bags you got from the store as trash bags or storage.

Use reusable storage containers

If you are having a snack or meal in your room, use reusable storage containers versus single-use plastic containers! This will not only save you some cash, but it will also save the environment.

Skip plastic straws

According to Keep Nature Wild, “in the US alone, over 500 million single-use straws are thrown away each day… One plastic straw takes about 200 years to decompose… [and] each year, one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die simply from ingesting plastic.”

Sources: National Geographic, Almost Zero Waste, Be Bottle, Keep Nature Wild

The Art of Exercising: An insight on the craft of all types of exercise.

I never used to exercise. Personally, I preferred reading a book, doing a craft or watching television. Why would I want to physically exert energy when I could just lay in bed all day?

This was my mindset until I wanted to make my high school field hockey team. I wanted to be on the team more than anything… but where to begin?

My dad is a runner and worked with me. He taught me how to pace, breathe and move my arms
in a way that would improve my performance. I remember taking runs together and feeling like I was dying. I couldn’t breathe. My legs hurt. I wanted to stop, but I wanted to make the team even more.

When the word “art” is presented before me, exercise isn’t one of the first words that comes to
mind. However, as I explored this topic, I realized that exercise is just as much of an art form as music
and painting. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines art as a “skill acquired by experience, study,
or observation.”

So let’s break this down. Exercise comes in many forms which range from cardiovascular,
to balance, to flexibility, to strength. Each form takes a certain amount of training, dedication and
trial-and-error in order to master.

It took me weeks to see improvement in my cardiovascular health as I began training. Slowly, I found myself increasing my pace and enjoying the fresh air. After dedication and training, I eventually ran my first 5k and then my first half marathon. Who knew getting in shape for field hockey would lead me to fall in love with the sport of running?

Exercise is far from easy. It requires a sort of mental toughness that is unparalleled. But it also reaps so many rewards, especially in the realm of mental health. According to Walden University, “exercise is a scientifically proven mood booster, decreasing symptoms of both depression and anxiety.”

According to a study by Science Today, it is also important to keep in mind that “more exercise [is] not always better, and the study found that exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week was associated with the biggest benefits.” Lifting weights, dancing, running, and everything else in between demonstrate exercise as an art form. If you’re looking to start exercising, or
just to switch up your normal routine, be warned, it may take time; however, when time, commitment,
and dedication are put together, the benefits are unparalleled.

Sources: Walden University, Science Today