New Semester Resolutions II. 31 to go…

Here I am, back at school, ready for another semester. I have to admit that I’m a little bit nervous for this semester. I know it is going to be academically challenging and emotionally draining, but I’m trying to be positive and excited about all of the exciting things that I’ll get to do this semester. As I wrote last spring I’m not a fan of New Years Resolutions, but I’m a big believer in New Semester Resolutions. So here are mine for this semester.

Keep my room clean:
This was one of my resolutions last spring that didn’t go particularly well… But I had a much better time with it this past semester and I just notice how much better I feel about my life when my room is clean.

Make my bed EVERY FREAKING DAY:
I’m pretty sure that when I’m able to make my bed regularly I will officially be an adult.

Get out of bed when my body wakes up:
I’m starting to realize that I think I am a morning people, but I have a terrible habit of waking up and then laying in bed for hours instead of just getting up. I’m super productive in the mornings, so all I need to do is get in the habit of just getting out of bed when I wake up,

Be in bed by midnight:
Doing this “getting up when I wake up,” thing is so much easier when I get enough. Plus, I turn into a pumpkin around 1am. Exceptions include Friday nights and certain Saturdays.

Be on time for EVERY FREAKING CLASS:
I am really terrible at being on time to things. That needs to change.

Go to church regularly:
It’s just good for my brain and my heart.

Go home more often:
I’m starting realize how important it is for me to be home to support my siblings and I just realize how much I enjoy spending time with my family.

Spend more time alone:
I know that most people would have resolutions totally opposite of this, but I’ve found that I’m far more introverted than I previously thought I was (which isn’t a big deal, because I was so extroverted that I was hardly functional.) I need more time alone to relax and get stuff done.

Eat less processed foods:
This one’s pretty self explanatory.

Read more books:
Just by being busy I haven’t had time to read books, which makes me really sad. My goal is to read three books this semester, including at least two that I’ve never read before.

Some updates on last year’s resolutions:

  • I’ve been regularly attending Cru.
  • I no longer eat meat of any kind, including fish.
  • I got a job! Two, in fact!
  • I have gotten a lot healthier, I’ve lost a ton of weight and I’m dealing with my emotional health. I’m super proud of all the progress I’ve made.

Some resolutions I didn’t meet:

  • I got pretty far into eliminating processed chemical products from my life, but I had to decide if it was worth all of the effort for the non-results I was getting so I’ve begun to use commercial makeup, but I have continued to use no commercial shampoos, conditioners, soaps, or moisturizers.
  • I didn’t end up eliminating dairy from my diet. I’ve decided that the impact of processed replacement products is worse than the impact of consuming dairy. Plus, have you ever had cheese?

I didn’t meet all of my goals in the last year, which is OK, but this semester I want to be very intentional about the goals I’ve set for myself and I understand that failure is always an option.

Do any of you have any new year/semester resolutions? I want to hear about them!

Love you!!

Abby

To the college freshmen. 43 to go…

So I’m officially becoming a second-year student which I figure gives me the authority to give advice to first-year students. So here are some words of advice to my friends who will be starting college in the next couple of weeks.

To buy:

HOT WATER KETTLE – seriously, buy an electric kettle. It costs $20 and will make your life so easy. Ramen, tea, oatmeal, hot chocolate and so much more. Make sure it has an automatic shutoff so it’s dorm room appropriate.

HUGE BAG OF OATS – chances are you are going to be way too lazy to go to the dining hall to eat breakfast before your 8am chemistry class. Buy a big bag of rolled oats/quick oats and some brown sugar instead of paying twice the amount for the instant oatmeal packets which are full of gross things. Add half cup of oats to a bowl, pour boiling water over oats and cover for 5 minutes, add brown sugar, be full of deliciousness and happiness.

COMMAND STRIPS/HOOKS – seriously, who invented these? They’re actually perfect for everything. The velcro ones are great for hanging picture frames, mirrors, and other decorative items while the hooks give you a perfect place to hang jackets, towels, lab coats and more.

EXTRA UNDERWEAR – if you’re anything like most college students you will put off doing laundry until the last possible moment, which usually comes when you run out of underwear. Put it off a couple more weeks and buy  yourself some extra underwear.

BACKPACK – shoulder bags are great, but if you’re lugging textbooks, laptops, lab equipment, and a hundred travel mugs two miles to and from your dorm every day you’re really going to want a backpack that goes on both of your shoulders.

MATTRESS PAD – find out your school’s policy on mattress pads and try to find one that fits it, (if not it’s super unlikely that anything will happen if you have an “illegal” mattress pad. I did that all year and no one ever said anything to me.)

GOOD HEADPHONES – whether you’re using them to listen to music, a lecture, watch a movie, or just make it look like you’re occupied it’s important to have headphones that are comfortable and work well.

STICKY TACK – perfect for sticking anything and everything on the walls.

ROBE – no questions asked, you need a robe.

To bring:

HOMEMADE RAMEN SPICE – this stuff is the best and is so easy to make and isn’t full of sodium and other things that want to stop your heart. Combine this with a splash of soy sauce for the best ramen you’ve ever had.

TRAVEL MUG – I can assure you that you have at least six lying around your house, pick one with a sturdy top and just wait for it to become your best friends in 8am classes.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS – overhead, fluorescent dorm lighting is great and all, but christmas lights are perfect for late night studying while your roommate is trying to sleep or for watching movies with friends.

EAR PLUGS – it doesn’t matter that you have an exam first thing tomorrow morning, the guy down the hall doesn’t have class til 2 and is going to stay up screaming at his computer while playing DotA all night.

TISSUES – you’re gonna get real sick of blowing your nose on the sandpaper they keep in the bathrooms when every single person on your floor is dying from the flu. Bring at least 2 boxes per semester.

LESS CLOTHES THAN YOU THINK YOU NEED – you’re just not going to wear it all. Accept it. Bring only what you love and need and will actually wear.

STAMPS – you’re going to be too poor to buy them at school, bring them ahead of time.

To do:

TEACH YOUR PARENTS TO SNAPCHAT – I know this may not sound entirely appealing but trust me it’s worth it. If you’re anything like me you’re terrible at texting back and answering your phone. SnapChat allows you to show your parents the little things you’re doing and seeing and it will help them feel included in your life. Plus, it’s really great to see their faces every once in a while.

LEARN HOW TO DO LAUNDRY – if you’re eighteen and still can’t do your own laundry you’re probably doing it wrong.

PRINT PICTURES – get some pictures printed. Or do what I did and get tons of pictures printed. Wal-Mart’s system is super easy to use and fairly inexpensive. Just choose some pictures that make you smile and put them up in your dorm room.

SPEND TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY – they’ve lived with you for this long and will probably miss you very much when you’re gone. Spend some last little bits of quality time with them.

BE OPEN MINDED – realize that it’s hard for everyone for you to leave and realize that the people closest to you might not react in the way you wanted or hoped they would. Everyone deals with these things differently.

GO TO ORIENTATION EVENTS – I know they’re lame, but my three best friends are all friends I made through Honors Orientation. Play the games, get the t-shirts, eat the food, talk to people.

LEAVE YOUR DOOR OPEN – there is no better way to make friends with the people you’re going to be living in close quarters with than leaving your door open.

BE UNASHAMEDLY ENTHUSIASTIC – get pumped about your classes. Take pictures with your new friends. Go to stupid events. Sign up for weird clubs. Decorate your dorm room. Wear your school colors. Be proud to be where you are and love every second of it.

GET INVOLVED – getting plugged-in to a campus ministry was the most important thing I did during my first year at college and it is so worth it to make the effort and make the friends.

So these are just some words of advice from me. Your first year of school is so amazing and full of new and scary adventures, but it is one of the most fun years of your life thus far. If anyone else has any advice please leave it in the comments so we can all benefit.

Love you and good luck!

Abby

My conflicted Summer. 48 to go…

So I’m home for the summer. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more conflicted about summer in my life.  In high school I was always dying for summer by the end of the school year. I was ready to be out of school and to sleep in and to be free. This summer doesn’t feel like that. Yes, it’s great to be home and to see my family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and all the other people I’ve missed so much this year, but it’s different.

I miss my friends at school more than I know how to say. I feel their absence in my bones. Getting involved with Cru this semester gave me the opportunity to get to know so many incredible people and to make so many friends who I love. A couple of times this semester we went out and had a campfire on a beach close to our school and one night as we were sitting there around the fire I just had to look at my friends and I was filled with joy. I didn’t know it was possible to fall in love with so many people in such a short period of time.

“I hate distance. You meet the best people and they are always far away.”
My best friend David posted this on Tumblr (go check out his Tumblr, it’s artsy and fabulous,) and tagged me and my other best friend Katie (check out her Tumblr as well, it’s so pretty that it gives me Tumblr envy) in it and I actually cried. David and Katie have quickly become two of my best friends and school. They encourage me, teach me, make me laugh, and make me a better person. It is absolutely ridiculous how much I miss them. I miss late nights, long talks, and all of the laughter with them.

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David, Me, Katie. Katie took this picture of us at the lilac festival this spring and I love it so much, it just makes me so happy (just like them.)

The other people I miss so much are Grace, Kelly, and Mike. I met these losers in Honors Orientation Group 6 so they’ve literally been with me since day 1 of college. They’ve been there to listen to me complain about any and everything, they’ve eaten way too much Common’s pizza with me, they’ve put up with my irrationality, and they’ve helped make me the person I am. I love them all so much and it has been so incredibly difficult to go from seeing them every single day to not seeing them at all. We’re all going to be living in a house together next year and there are no words for the excitement I feel about that.

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We’re in the most hilarious group text and this will forever be my favorite comment. There’s no context to give, it stands on its own. Egg plant tube sock potato salad.

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Kelly, Grace, Mike, Me. We took this picture on the day we signed the lease to live in our house next year. I can’t wait to share every minute with these people who I love more than words.

One of the worst things about going from college life back to home life is being alone. I don’t know if I’ve spent this much time alone since winter break. I’ve gone from having a roommate and hundreds of other people living in my building to living with my five  family members who are at school or work most of the day. College is great because all of your friends live so close. You can walk down the hall, up a floor, or to the next building and be surrounded by your friends. I have to drive at least 5 minutes to see any of my friends here and there are days when I wake up after my family leaves and come home from work after they’ve gone to sleep. This has made me feel really lonely while I’m home.

This summer is also really difficult because I’m living with my parents again. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are the coolest, most understanding, and reasonable people I know; but things are different now. I’ve been living on my own for almost a year now. I’ve been waking up, going to bed, coming home, and staying out whenever I want. I’ve been doing what I want when I want to and I just can’t live like that at home. I live with 5 other people with various work and school responsibilities and my college lifestyle of coming home at 4am and waking up at noon just isn’t going to cut it all summer. It’s so hard to remember that I can’t just leave the house whenever. Remembering to tell my parents where I’m going and when I’ll be back is a serious chore for me.

As hard as this summer might be, I think it’s going to be really good. It’s been so good to be home and see my friends here who I have missed so much. It’s good to be working again and to be back in a rhythm of doing things regularly. It’s been nice to sleep in and cook for myself. I want this to be a productive summer of reading books, doing the things I need to, exercising, earning money, and resting.

Yes, it’s hard to be away from so many people that I love so dearly, but I’m so glad to be home with so many other people who I love.

Love you so much!

Abby

Sustainability and learning. 50 to go…

I swear, I’m the last person alive still in school while all of my friends are already home.

So it’s finals week! Finals week is basically the best week of the whole semester because except for all of the projects, papers, and exams to do you have absolutely no responsibilities. I haven’t woken up before noon since Wednesday (except for church on Sunday,) and I’ve been able to do whatever I want during the day and it’s been so lovely.

A couple months ago I wrote this post for my Environmental Sustainability, Health and Safety class and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to write about it for my final project. I’ve been thinking for weeks about what to write. My first thought was to use lots of big words to discuss all of the things we’ve learned this semester, but the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realized that that’s not what the class has been about. So instead of throwing big words at you, I’m going to just tell you about what I’ve learned this semester and what it’s meant to me.

SCIENCE
You may know this, but I’m definitely a science nerd. Hydrogen bonding, xylem and phloem, Mendelian genetics, these are the things that get my heart pumping. I love science and I love sustainability but I know very little of the science surrounding sustainability, at least I didn’t. Throughout this semester I have learned so much about alternative energy technologies, water systems, hydrofracking, alien species, habitat fragmentation, plant science, and so much more. I feel like I’ve gained so much knowledge and like I’ve formed a really strong base to continue learning off of. It’s also been a huge help that my Biology class has been a perfect parallel for my Sustainability class. We spent almost the entire semester in Biology learning about plant anatomy and function, animal classification, as well as evolution and ecology. I’ve been so excited to learn this semester that I’ve actually read text books for fun. I’ve been so interested to learn the science behind the way the world works and behind how we as humans interact with that world in both positive and negative ways. It has inspired me to learn even more on my own over the summer.

ENVIRONMENTAL/SOCIAL JUSTICE
Another thing you may know about me is that I am really passionate about justice, particularly social justice and environmental justice. A lot of this passion has developed since coming to college and has come with my increased feminist (a word I never spell right the first time) tendencies. My most read blog post is basically just one long feminist rant about the Victoria’s Secret fashion show (check that out here,) and this semester has done so much to strengthen my passion for justice. I’m taking a Values and Public Policy class this semester which has taught me so much about the concept of environmental justice. Environmental justice is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” (here) This has gone hand in hand with my Sustainability class as we’ve spent a lot of time discussing hydrofracking (don’t even try to tell me that Wikipedia isn’t reliable. Ask any college student, that’s where we learn most of everything,) Cape winds, Love Canal, and Hurricane Katrina. I’m seeing more and more ways that environmental justice is related to sustainability and vice versa. I’m becoming more and more convinced that in order to have a more sustainable world we must be willing to strive for environmental justice.

CONVERSATION
One of the hardest things about being a crazy tree hugger is trying to explain to people why I’m so passionate about our planet and about why I’m willing to put aside my personal comfort to take care of the planet. It’s hard to explain to people why I don’t eat meat even though I love it, why I don’t believe in shampoo, why I reach into trashcans to grab recyclable materials, and so much more. I often feel like it’s my job to present a researched and well developed case for why I do the things I do. I feel like I have to be able to defend every single thing I do at a moment’s notice. My sustainability class has been so helpful at teaching me otherwise. The class was almost entirely discussion based and we spent a lot of time discussing who “needs to be at the table” in regards to discussions about sustainability. We spent a lot of time discussing various issues and doing mock town meetings, debates, discussions, and things like that. I’ve learned the importance of not just jumping to my own defense but of also taking the time to listen to other people’s opinions and views. Something my three best friends Grace, Kelly, Mike and I say is “I’ll throw the words over your head and you’ll throw the words over my head and we’ll just be talking past one another,” when referring (another word I just can’t spell. What made me think I should be a blogger? I can’t spell half of the words I want to use and half the time I just skip words in sentences,) to situations where people are just talking at one another while not really listening to each other, a thing that the four of us do a lot, and I think it really applies in this situation. So much of the discussion about sustainability is just people throwing words over each other’s heads and not really listening to one another. I’ve learned that just listening to people makes it so much easier to have productive, interesting, and intelligent conversations with people.

This semester has been an incredible time of learning for me. Three of the four classes I’ve taken this semester have been endlessly fascinating and I feel like I’m finally learning about the sort of things that I want to know. It’s things like this that convince me that I’ve picked the right major and that I’ve found something that I’m passionate about. I’m so thankful for everything I’ve learned. I also want to say a huge thanks to my incredible Sustainability professor, Kimie. She’s been so inspiring this semester and I’ve loved every moment of her class. I’ve learned and grown in my passion so much because of her and I never got a chance to tell her that during class. I hope that I have the chance to learn from and work with you again, Kimie! Thank you for everything!

I hope to write something about this year and this semester in review, but I’ll get to that some day when I’m not furiously writing essays, studying, and trying to pack up my life.

Love you!

Abby

Deeply Happy. 57 to go…

I’ve been going to a women’s Bible study at my college since the beginning of this semester and last night we just all decided to get coffee together and just talk about our weeks and about what we’ve been learning this semester. As I was sitting there, drinking green tea, listening to these beautiful women share about their lives I was suddenly overcome with how full of joy I was that I teared up a little bit. I felt so happy and fulfilled that I just couldn’t contain it. We always share our highs and lows of the week and it just occurred to me that my week had been so full of highs that I just couldn’t choose one and I must have talked for ten minutes about how incredible my weekend was. It’s the kind of thing I never want to forget, so I’ll share it with you:

It rained all day Friday, which usually would make me sad but it means that Spring is on its way which makes me so incredibly happy. My lovely friend Zoë, who I went to high school with, came to visit my college and we sat in my room for a couple of hours and talked about all sorts of things while I cleaned my room. We then went to Cru and that was wonderful. Afterwards we went to Jay’s and just spent a couple of hours there hanging out and laughing. Being there always reminds me of long hours spent at the Cocoa Diner eating rice pudding with Meesh. We then went back to my room and watched 21 and Over which wasn’t a fantastic movie but was absolutely hilarious. Then a very dear friend called me to tell me she had a boyfriend now and I was so happy for her that I actually screamed and did a happy dance* for her. I ended up hanging out with my roommate and dear friends David and Graham into the wee hours of the morning.

*I just want to write a little more about this, I actually cannot say how happy I am for her. I am absolutely overcome with joy for her. For years I have been jealous of her ability to calm, cool, and collected around Guys because it is a skill that I generally don’t have. I’ve also spent a lot of time being jealous of her ability to be attractive without trying. In the past it has been really difficult for me to not be a little bitter when my friends were in relationships when I was so hopelessly single, but for the first time in my life I don’t feel like that. I mean, I want a relationship like the one she has, but I’m not jealous. You have no idea how freeing it is to feel like this, being free of the burden of jealousy and bitterness. I never want to stop feeling this way. I am so happy, so so happy for her. Honestly, I might be happier than she is.

I woke up around noon on Saturday and spent the whole afternoon showering, relaxing, and getting ready for the Cru formal which was that evening. It was a good couple of hours of quality time with my roommate as she coached me through how to put myself together in the most time efficient manner.

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I’d say she did a pretty good job. I actually love this dress so much because it makes 
me feel like the world’s most fabulous disco ball.

We then drove the the beautiful golf club where the formal was held, ate great food, and had a hilarious time sitting and laughing.

10247342_10152729594944972_2146947927_nMy stunning friends: Katie, Nathan, Sarah, Jamie, Aaron, Collin, David, and my right eye. Our dinner conversation centered around BibleMan, first date foods, and Meat Forks.

After watching some skits we celebrated the graduating seniors which always makes me tear up, even if I don’t know them. Maybe that’s just because graduating was so stinkin’ emotional for me. We then proceeded to dance the night away. It was honestly one of the most fun dances I’ve ever been to in my life and it felt vaguely reminiscent of Homeschool Prom where everyone was dancing and laughing and having a fantastic time. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better evening. We then drove back to campus and** watched Donnie Darko in my room before passing out.

**Driving in my high heels and my sparkly dress in my little red car made me feel a little bit like a secret agent in a really awesome kind of way. I wanted to turn up the music and drive for miles and miles until I was somewhere interesting where the sun was rising. I don’t know what it is about driving in the dark that makes me want to drive at a hundred miles an hour down country roads and look at the stars. It makes me want to roll the windows down and turn the heat the whole way up.

Sunday morning I woke up late for church and went to church with my wonderful friend, David, and then we spent the entire afternoon sitting outside, doing homework, listening to good music, and enjoying the Sunshine and the warmth. I didn’t get as much work done as I would have, but as a good friend once said “productivity is relative.” It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

All in all it was just a beautiful weekend. I’m realizing more and more that I feel so fulfilled in the relationships I have and in my life in general. The new friendships I’m forming are starting to remind me of the beautiful and deep friendships I have at home. I’m so thankful for where I am in life at this point and I’m beginning to see my place here.

I’m just so happy. Not a surface level the-sun-is-up kind of happy, but a deep in-the-back-corners-of-my-soul kind of happy. Maybe it isn’t happiness at all. Maybe it’s a Peace about life and a Joy in living it.

Love you so much!!

Abby

Big Break. 58 to go…

So I was at Big Break last week for Spring Break. I have no idea how to write this so we’re going to write it Haiti-Post Style.

Part 1: Communication
The school I go to has a large deaf community and the group I went to Big Break with was split almost in half, deaf and hearing. Now I happen to know very little American Sign Language (ASL,) before the trip my signing was limited to “thank you” “sorry” and “prude” and this meant that I essentially couldn’t communicate with half of the group. It was so frustrating, not because I felt like I wasn’t being understood but because I felt like I couldn’t understand. I wanted to be a part of the conversation and I wanted to feel included (this isn’t to say that my deaf friends weren’t trying to include me because they were, but it was a totally different language that just can’t be taught in a day.) However, I was really blessed to be living with my friends Quinny and Tina who were both very patient with me when it came to communicating and taught me a lot. In general, all of my deaf friends were very patient and understanding and I’m so glad that I got to know them. I learned a good bit of ASL but I also learned a lot about God from them all and we had so much fun together. So thank you Quinny, Tina, Jessica, Sam, Brian, Kemoy, and Dakota for being so understanding and teaching me so much. I am so glad that I got to know each and every one of you.

1010138_10152713096494972_763538187_nSome of the wonderful people I went with. Aren’t we all so cute?

Part 2: Pain
I wrote a whole post about this earlier in the week and you can check that out here. I got really bad sun poisoning which made this whole week really difficult. I was in so much pain and felt so sick for so much of the week. It was absolutely miserable.

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This picture doesn’t even begin to capture how terrible it was, but I thought it was funny and pretty fitting that my Golden Key was burnt into my skin. 

Part 3: Depression
I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression this winter. I had to deal with the emotional aftermath of that even in beautiful, Sunshine-y Florida. It was such a roller-coaster of emotions to go from the dark and cold of my college town to the brightness and warmth of Big Break.

Part 4: Homesickness
I was so homesick for so much of the week. I was tired and missing my parents and my siblings and my best friend. I was just wishing that I could be at home. As the week went on I felt more and more at home as I found myself better connecting with the people on the team. It’s been a really hard transition, going from years of going on trips with the same group of people and knowing them all really well and having them know me to doing things and going on trips with people who I barely know. Being new is foreign and scary, but it has been really good. It has stretched me to get out of my comfort zone, to try something new.

Part 5: Worship
I love to sing. I feel most full and right and complete when I sing and it is the easiest way for me to worship because it is such an emotional thing for me. The worship was so incredible at Big Break, so different. Sitting with our deaf friends meant that I got to learn a little of how to sign the songs which is such a beautiful form of worship to me.

This was one of the songs we sang all week and it is one of my favorite songs. I heard it for the first time a couple of months ago and haven’t stopped listening to it yet.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me;
You’ve never failed
And you won’t stop now

These words strike something deep in me.

Part 5B: Prayer
I can’t explain the way prayer moved me during the week, but it was incredible.

Part 6: Sharing My Faith
I am really bad at sharing my faith. I just want to be liked by people and have a terrible fear of rejection and between these two things I find it so terrifying to share my faith with people. Especially the people closest to me. I was really challenged during the week to put aside the things that hold me back from sharing my faith and not be afraid to talk about one of the most important parts of who I am.

Part 7: My Story
I’ve realized that my story has changed so much in the past year. I’ve done a lot of things, some that I’m proud of and some that I’m not. You can never see the path you’re on while you’re on it, but looking back it is all so clear. I wish I hadn’t made some of the mistakes that I did, but as I look back I can see all the ways those decisions have shaped me. As I was sitting on the beach with a couple of friends I could see the contrast between how I’m choosing to live and how I was living and I was suddenly so thankful for the people I was sitting there with and for how far I’d come in just a few short weeks.

All in all I am so glad that I went. It wasn’t easy, but it was so so worth it.

Question of the Day- What did you do with your spring break? If you’re not in college, what have you been up to recently? I want to hear all about it!!

Mission of the Day- Go outside and dance for 47 seconds to celebrate spring!

Love you!

Abby

Hippie Science. 67 to go…

When I was first applying to colleges, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. I didn’t know what my passions were or what I thought I would be good at. I was kind of a budding tree hugger at the time (budding. tree. get it? nyuck nyuck nyuck,) but I didn’t know how to make something of that. So when I went on a college visit and heard someone talking about Sustainability Studies, it was like a whole new world of opportunity had been opened up to me. There were other people who cared about the things I cared about and wanted to change the world just like I did. I didn’t end up choosing that college, but knowing that programs like Sustainability Studies existed made my college search so much easier because only one other school that I had applied to had a similar program, so that’s where I am now. I haven’t declared my major yet, but by next fall I will be a declared Environmental Sustainability, Health and Safety student.

Whenever people ask me what my major is and I tell them Environmental Sustainability, Health and Safety (which is heck of a lot of words to say and type,) they always say one of two things:
That’s quite a mouthful!!”
Or
What on earth does that mean??”

You can only ever laugh at the first one, but to the second I always respond:
My friends like to call it Hippie Science. Basically I want to learn how to hug trees and then I want to teach others why they should hug trees and how to do it best.”

Which is about as specific as I can get about the topic at this point in my life. I could define Environmental Sustainability. Here’s what the EPA has to say on the topic:

Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.  Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations. 
Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have,  the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment. (More here)

I know how my feelings about Sustainability have changed my life style:
Becoming a vegetarian
Buying used clothes
Homemade deodorant, makeup, lotion, perfume, and more.
No poo
Elimination of nasty hair and body products
Using less electricity
Eating less packaged and processed food
Trying to eat more organic or local foods
Recycling
And other random things

Unfortunately, I don’t know nearly as much about Sustainability as I wish I did, which is why I’m studying and learning and reading and trying to gain as much knowledge as possible.

http://youtu.be/9GorqroigqM
We watched this video in the Sustainability class that I’m taking this semester, and it really got me thinking about myself as a consumer. (check out their website) Sure, there’s always a certain amount of bias to any thing like this but it does make a powerful point about our tendency to produce, use, throw away over and over without any consideration of the consequences. To change this horrible cycle our society is going to need to go through a serious paradigm shift when it comes to how we view our planet and how it sustains us.

 59254_Ch01_001_013.pdfThis is another thing that we talked about in class. Some of these are things that industry believes about people and some of these are things people believe about one another and about society. I know that I’m often sucked into the mentality that individual actions don’t make a difference, and it’s easy to feel like the little things I’m doing in my life aren’t having any effect on the world I live in and on the people that I live with. While there are some of these assumptions that I understand there are far more than make me irrationally furious at society and at how we look at our planet. The ideas that we are apart from nature or that the world is here to serve our needs bring out the tiny-furious-environmentalist in me who wants to chain herself to trees and make people listen to me. I think we need to start taking responsibility for all the things we’re doing to the planet and acknowledge that we are a part of the natural world.

One thing we’ve discussed in class a good bit is what contributes to Environmental Sustainability issues and there are several human attitudes which could be a root cause:

Denial- There’s no real problem.
Apathy- Maybe there’s a problem, but I don’t really care enough to do something.
Greed- But I want [unnecessary item or service]
Aquisitiveness- But I need [unnecessary item]
Inability to Respond to Subtle Threats- It’s not really that big of a deal.
Reliance on Convenience Items- I can’t live without my iPhone.

I know I’ve experienced the effects of all of these attitudes at one point or another, we all do but too many people just live in these mindsets and that is the sort of thing that breaks my heart and makes me so deeply upset. Change would be so much easier if we could escape from these ways of thinking. To do that we must be willing to admit that we all struggle with these mindsets and must proactively fight them.

For a long time we saw the Earth as a bottomless well full of good, clean, potable water. That’s just not the case. It becomes more and more apparent every day that Earth is a deep well which needs time to refill and requires maintenance, protection, and respect. We cannot continue to take from our planet at the rate we are because eventually we will run out of resources. Sure, Earth can produce new resources but it takes years and years of care and rest to do so.

There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew. -Marshall McLuhan

That’s so true. Every action we take, every day that we live, every breath that we breathe is affecting our planet. We cannot forget that or overlook it. If we’re not being proactive about protecting our planet then we are being destructive. Simple as that.

Question of the Day- Which of those six mindsets, (Denial, Apathy, Greed, Aquisitiveness, Inability to Respond to Subtle Threats, Reliance on Convenience Items,) do you find yourself falling into the most? For me it is definitely Apathy.

Love you!!

Abby